while I can not help you with your direct question,  I don't know of a
way to order randomly and select one you hadn't selected yet in SQL,
there is another way to do this.

With your UNION query your already executing two 'expensive' queries,
the entire table get's ordered (twice) before the limits are applied,
every time someone goes to your website.

Better might be to run just one query: 
SELECT reference,page_command,page_title,user_hits FROM ... ORDER BY

Then use php to select the first 2 and the last 2, and maybe a random
fifth using something like n=randint(2,#rows_returned-2-1) to get the
n'th row. (which will exclude the first 2 and last 2 rows)


On Thu, 2010-04-29 at 05:33 -0400, Ron Piggott wrote:
> I have a 'Highlights' heading on my home page.  It is for links to content
> on the site ... like specific web pages
> I have designed the query below to select the two most popular and least
> popular pages used on the site to be the Highlights.  (Each time a web
> page is accessed user_hits is increased by 1.)
> I would like to display a fifth one that is " ORDER BY RAND () LIMIT 1 "
> --- Only I don't know how to ensure it isn't one of the four that are
> being displayed already.  Any suggestions?
> Ron
> SELECT `highlights`.`reference`, `highlights`.`page_command`,
> `highlights`.`page_title` FROM (
> ( SELECT `reference`, `page_command`, `page_title` FROM `user_pages` WHERE
>  `include_in_highlights` =1 ORDER BY `user_hits` DESC LIMIT 2 )
> ( SELECT `reference`, `page_command`, `page_title` FROM `user_pages` WHERE
>  `include_in_highlights` =1 ORDER BY `user_hits` ASC LIMIT 2 )
> ) AS highlights ORDER BY `highlights`.`page_title` ASC

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