Then removing hot topics is still the best way to remedy the situation.
I personally don't want them gone. It's the easiest and fastest way to get morons banned on here.
Actually the best way to fix the issue is to allow people the ability to add a filter to the hot topics. Make the hot topics more personal by tying it to a person profile. Yes it can be code intensive depending on how the site is already created but its something that the developers can throw in the hat when they do another major update.