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Should people with 1 point (no contributions to the website, new account) be allowed to ask questions?

The reason I'm asking is because I always see horrible(horrible as in grammatically incorrect, not-programming related, etc..) questions asked 90% of the time by people with 1 reputation.

Flagging questions helps clean up the bad questions, but shouldn't people have to earn the right to ask questions on the website? This may be a problem to newer users, but it would hinder all those people who constantly make new accounts to ask questions.


  • Bad question #1 : This is programming related, and it could be a legitimate question, but its obvious this guy just wanted someone to tell him how to do this... I think people like this should at least earn some reputation before they start asking questions.

  • Bad question #2 : NO!!!

  • Bad question #3

Shouldn't these people have to earn the right to ask questions? Answering questions would ensure newer users somewhat understand the website more and might develop an understanding of what to do and what not to do.

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Is complaining about grammatical errors with grammatical errors like fighting fire with fire? – juan Dec 15 '11 at 18:08
Not just grammar. Bad questions and everything else.. – Gabe Dec 15 '11 at 18:09
Methinks Gabe's sarcasm detector is broken. – NullUserException อ_อ Dec 15 '11 at 18:11
Forcing people to "contribute" to the site before they are allowed to ask question is only happening over Jeff's cold, dead body. Also, I think this is a dupe. – NullUserException อ_อ Dec 15 '11 at 18:16
Yes, make people earn the privilege to seek guidance. Wonderful idea. Of course, in a greenfield website, no questions could be answered because nobody would have sufficient reputation to ask one. Nevermind that now. Excellent feature request, implement this right after "My Friends." – Anthony Pegram Dec 15 '11 at 18:18
Your question fails to point out: WHY?!?* – Ivo Flipse Dec 16 '11 at 23:13
I've rolled back your latest edit because it completely changed the question. If you have a new suggestion, please post it separately as a new question. (Although I suggest searching first to see if it's been proposed already. It sounds familiar.) – Adam Lear Dec 17 '11 at 7:32
are you going to teach us english now? – vini Dec 27 '11 at 9:26
up vote 17 down vote accepted

90% of terrible questions are asked by people with 1 reputation.

is not the same thing as

90% of people with 1 reputation ask terrible questions.

We really don't know what kind of questions people are going to contribute until we give them a chance, so asking questions should stay open to everyone (until they show us that they're going to ask low-quality questions).

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I was going to post a fairly lengthy reply, but really, that's sufficient. Why punish the innocent for the crimes of the guilty? – Nicol Bolas Dec 15 '11 at 18:17
We are the 90%! Occupy Stack Overflow! – Rocket Hazmat Dec 15 '11 at 18:17
Innocent until proven guilty! – animuson Dec 15 '11 at 18:20
Don't you know, you should ALWAYS shoot the messenger. – Chris Walton Dec 16 '11 at 10:39

Stack Overflow makes it more difficult to just spam the site with questions by requiring new users to register for an account first. That wasn't always the case and the same thing is not required for posting answers.

There are also heuristics in place that will prevent a user from posting new questions if they start out badly and fail to improve over time.

We still want to be open to new users and we can guide them to asking better questions, but we certainly don't want to prevent them from asking at all. Some people predominantly answer, some predominantly ask, some fall somewhere in-between, and we can work with that to ensure we have a healthy, active site.

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The problem with that, is that someone may have a problem, so they make an account to ask a question, and they can't. Why should they have to answer X questions before being able to ask their own? If their question is wrong, we will let them know and tell them how to fix it (that's why there's the /review page).

Not all 1 rep users ask bad questions; and asking questions is a way to earn rep, just like answering 'em.

So, I think not allowing new users to ask questions doesn't make them feel welcome here, plus not everyone cares about their rep, maybe they just need help and couldn't find a better forum on which to ask.

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shouldn't people have to earn the right to ask questions on the website?

No, not at all. The entire purpose of StackOverflow is for people to be able to ask and answer questions, ultimately sharing knowledge. Unless a specific user has been targeted as being disallowed (a temporary ban, for example), there should be no barrier to this core purpose of the site.

Will there be low-quality questions from drive-by askers? Yes, absolutely. Is that acceptable? Of course. Keep in mind that a lot of bad questions also come from users with 10+ rep, 100+ rep, I've even seen them from 1,000+ rep. The community will take care of things and clean up the site overall. But we don't want to turn this into a gated community.

Edit: I just noticed something else in the question that stands out...

no contributions to the website

Understand that this is a question and answer website. Asking a question is contributing. The overall experience of StackOverflow is enhanced not only by the answers but just as richly by the questions. There are bad ones, just like there are bad answers. But the two are fully symbiotic. I'm all for encouraging new users to contribute to the site, and that big "Ask Question" button is a great way for them to get started.

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