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Note: I checked that this question is NOT a duplicate of another similar question. I am not asking about being nice to new members or being critical to them. I am asking about the permanent ban some new members get.

I am a 1.9k user on Stack Overflow. I love Stack Overflow and I think it's great. I told my friend about Stack Overflow. He asked questions about VB.NET. Actually, I reviewed the questions myself before he submitted them.

For some reason that I don't know, his questions got downvoted. This is despite the fact that we are quite advanced in VB.NET and know what we're asking.

Yap, my friend is banned from Stack Overflow.

It's easy for you to say, well, Jim Thio, you're an idiot, read the FAQ, bla bla bla. But you see, I am a 1.9k member here. Yes, sometimes my questions got downvoted too, but overall I know how to ask questions.

I understand that new members do need to be judged harshly because many may want to just spam. But what about some new guys that eagerly want to contribute and are just out of luck because for some reason his first two questions got downvoted?

(Could we please be a bit nicer to new users? is not a duplicate.)

I am not questioning that bad questions should be downvoted or even getting accounts suspended. But being banned for life? That's kind of harsh. Just an idea.

By the way, I too was once blocked from Meta Stack Overflow even though I have high points at Stack Overflow.

Hell, another idea is that users can transfer points from one Stack Exchange site to another. So if he's banned in one, perhaps he can "pay" his way forward.

share|improve this question
It's a question that should be asked. IMHO the answer is no. – ben is uǝq backwards Sep 9 '12 at 11:59
I don't want to be harsh, but 1.9k rep from 380 questions, is an average of just 1 upvote per question, when even ignoring other reputation gains. I wonder if that is above or below average. – Arjan Sep 9 '12 at 12:01
It's not for life. Have him answer some questions and the ban will be lifted once the answers will get upvotes. I saw here on Meta users telling "thanks, the ban is lifted" after advised to do so. Might take several days, but it's surely not death sentence for the account. – Shadow Wizard Sep 9 '12 at 12:13
Have you considered using your quite advanced VB.NET knowledge to answer more questions instead of asking them? – slugster Sep 9 '12 at 13:17
"another idea is users can transfer points from one Stack Exchange to another" Sorry to break it to you, but rep doesn't count at all in a post ban. – BoltClock's a Unicorn Sep 9 '12 at 13:52
I find it interesting that you don't link to any of this other person's questions that were downvoted, so that we can judge on our own whether they were downvoted unfairly or not. – Nicol Bolas Sep 9 '12 at 15:02
You're putting too much emphasis on your SO rep. Rep is supposed to be a measure of how much the community trusts you. That works on many sites. On SO, due to the scale of the thing, I don't find much difference between a 10k user and a new user--I've seen both kinds posting bad quality stuff (not saying you do, though--just that it's an empty point to mention your SO rep IMO) – Manishearth Sep 9 '12 at 15:39
@Jim - Don't ask people to not downvote posts. Downvoting on meta is how people indicate they disagree. – jmort253 Sep 9 '12 at 19:50
You should also include links to your friend's questions to give some context regarding the issues. – jmort253 Sep 9 '12 at 19:54
So by answering questions we can get ban lifted. Good. – Jim Thio Sep 10 '12 at 2:54
The -9 downvote for this question just shows my point. I mean what the hell the problem was? Is this question duplicate? Is it irrelevant of meta stack over flow? I mean why the downvote? Who knows.... – Jim Thio Sep 10 '12 at 2:55
@JimThio Everyone disagrees with your premise - we don't think we are banning new users too easily. – JNK Sep 10 '12 at 13:32
up vote 24 down vote accepted

But you see, I am a 1.9k member here. Yes sometimes my questions got downvoted too, but overall I know how to ask questions.

To put it bluntly, if the questions you reviewed were downvoted heavily enough to trigger the question ban, then you certainly don't know how to ask good questions here. And reputation is not a completely reliable indicator of knowing how to ask good questions, there are some users that gained a lot of reputation by asking hundreds of mediocre to bad questions.

And we can't really answer your question as we don't know how much is needed to trigger the ban. As deleted posts play a large role, we often can't judge the situation as we can't see those. I'd personally favor more transparency around the ban, but I know that this would be difficult to do without making it easier to exploit.

share|improve this answer

Is Stack Overflow banning new members too easily?

Sometimes, yes. It's rare, but the checks are automated, and there are always edge cases that don't warrant banning. That's why folks who believe they've been banned incorrectly are advised to contact us. We check every single case we're notified of, and always try to provide some assistance.

That said, the vast majority of bans are warranted.

For some reason that I don't know, his questions got downvoted.

Figuring out why his questions were down-voted would be a very good first step toward guiding him away from future problems.

I can't even guess at how many accounts I see blocked where the owner has ignored repeated requests for clarification or improvement prior to being banned. If his questions were closed, reading the close reasons would be a good start as well.

I understand that new members do need to be judged harshly because many may want to just spam.

That's a separate issue. We are harsh on spammers, far more harsh than we ever are toward folks who just ask bad questions. No one will ever be blocked for showing up and asking one poor question. In theory, you can get blocked for two - but they would have to be extremely bad questions. Most quality-banned folks have asked more, often a lot more, and ignored all warnings that they might be doing something wrong.

I can't speak to your friend's specific case, since you didn't link to anything - but if you honestly believe he is the victim of bad luck here, you should advise him to contact us.

share|improve this answer
He asked two question. – Jim Thio Sep 10 '12 at 2:57
@JimThio Did he delete a lot of questions? That's typically the trigger, at least based on all the similar posts I have seen on Meta. – JNK Sep 10 '12 at 13:35
@Jim: As I said, it is possible - they'd have to be a couple of quite poorly-received questions though. If you'd like to provide me with details on the user - either here, or privately via email - I can give you a more specific evaluation. – Shog9 Sep 10 '12 at 16:02
The guy is out of question ban. He has more than 100 points now I think but then get bored. That being said I am question banned in meta :( – Jim Thio Jan 8 '13 at 15:15

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