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There is a steady stream of duplicates of What can I do when getting "We are no longer accepting questions/answers from this account"? coming in lately. It's got me wondering. Roughly speaking, out of say 100 folks who get this ban, how many

  • wander away and never interact with SO again?
  • do the sorts of things that might lift a ban, but don't get it lifted?
  • do the sorts of things they should, and lift the ban?
  • post a question of their own on Meta which we close as a dupe?

Among the continue-to-interact folks, is there a difference in success rate between those who post on Meta about it (motivated, but not good rules-readers, who nonetheless get customized advice) and those who do not (better rules readers, but working to some extent blind) - which do better?

Is there a reasonable chance of recovering from a ban, assuming you care enough to try?

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I've seen the spike too, but it's also seemed like a lot of users who want to use SO right, get help politely from the community, and reverse course. I think Shog9 has even lifted a few auto-bans early. There was that "listen up you *******" rant guy though. But he was the outlier (remember him? The -33 votes question that was a rant about how we were all anti social cruel robots? Yeah. Him.) –  Linuxios Mar 18 '13 at 3:27
    
I take that back. That's two in the last hour. –  Linuxios Mar 18 '13 at 3:28
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I would guess that the vast majority of people who hit the ban will never get it lifted. (and leave the site) IIRC, Jeff has stated explicitly that this is intentional and that users who hit the ban "need to leave". –  Mysticial Mar 18 '13 at 3:29
    
@Linuxios Unless I'm way off (and I'll ask Shog9 about this) he can't lift the ban, no one can. The best he can do (and the best any of us can do) is undelete and clear spam flags on posts. –  George Stocker Mar 18 '13 at 3:39
    
@GeorgeStocker: Really? I guess there are some powers that you don't even get. ;) –  Linuxios Mar 18 '13 at 3:40
    
@Linuxios There are lots of powers I don't have, but that's neither here nor there. What is relevant is that I've been telling people since Day 1 that no one can lift the ban. If that's not true, then I'd like to know so I don't mis-inform people. –  George Stocker Mar 18 '13 at 3:42
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There's no "lifting" the ban - if you meet the criteria, you're banned. Naturally there are things we can do to help someone stop meeting those criteria, but if you've really dug yourself in deep you're probably gonna be digging out for a while. –  Shog9 Mar 18 '13 at 3:42
    
@GeorgeStocker: In reality, your probably right that you can only lift bans put in place by mods in the first place. –  Linuxios Mar 18 '13 at 3:42
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Do disassociated posts count? I could imagine somebody "exercising their cc-wiki rights" to remove all their crap questions from the account to escape the ban. Though I bet anyone who is aware and willing to exploit something like this will find it easier to just get a new account on a new ip address. –  Mysticial Mar 18 '13 at 3:53
    
@Mystical we do a thorough background check before disassociating posts. If someone's doing that to get around a post ban, they won't get very far. –  George Stocker Mar 18 '13 at 4:24
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Just wondering, is the IP-Ban still administered when a single user gets banned? Does this effect everyone who is behind an NAT? –  l46kok Mar 18 '13 at 4:31
    
We need a post-post-ban tag for those questions that ask about the time/behaviour after the post-ban. –  Joachim Sauer Mar 18 '13 at 10:33
    
I'd just wait a day and create a new account, possibly deleting the old one first. Creating new accounts is cheap. –  CodesInChaos Mar 18 '13 at 10:49
    
Getting good statistics is hard, since you don't see if the user quit the site, or if he just abandoned the banned account and made a new one. I wouldn't expect many to quit due to the ban, but rather because really bad questions usually don't get useful answers. –  CodesInChaos Mar 18 '13 at 10:55

2 Answers 2

up vote 45 down vote accepted

Before you read this, let me remind you once again that q-bans aren't exactly a fixed state: since they're based on a bunch of different past activities and associated responses from the community which can and do change without warning... It's entirely possible for someone to qualify for a ban and never realize it because by the time they go to post again things have changed (and the reverse is also true). There's no "ban has been lifted" event recorded anywhere - either they try to ask and get blocked, or they try to ask and it goes through. That said...

In the past 30 days:

  • 5117 users have hit the Question Quality Ban on Stack Overflow.

  • 216 of them have gone on to ask at least one more question.

For all time:

  • 26 thousand Stack Overflow accounts have hit the ban at some point. 4.9K have gone on to post more questions. 2.3K have then gone on to hit the ban again.

  • 718 users have gone back and edited at least one of their old questions after being banned. 455 were later able to ask another question.

  • 2932 have posted at least one answer after the ban. 1907 of them were later able to ask a question.

  • Most folks who've encountered a q-ban haven't done much of anything afterwards.


See also:

How many people are asking SO questions on Meta because they're question-blocked?

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Very delicious data! –  Andrew Barber Mar 21 '13 at 4:04
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how many of these 216 / 4.9K have really lifted their bans? I ask because, you know, there is a way for question to appear in user profile without getting unbanned - if they just ask from dupe account which gets merged later. We even discussed similar case at Prog meta –  gnat Mar 21 '13 at 5:28
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Sorry, still waking up - wrote the query for that wrong the first time. I'm getting 18 cases where an account was merged following a question being asked following a q-ban, 13 of which were later followed by another q-ban. Not entire sure I trust this though, @gnat - it's possible that merged user histories are messing with it in some way. Still, not terribly common. –  Shog9 Mar 21 '13 at 16:00
    
Are you able to determine how many users posted on Meta or contacted SE in some way after they were question banned, and of those how many went on to ask at least one more question? I'm not sure if SE tracks user contact in connection to user profiles, but figuring out if they posted on Meta after the ban but before anymore SO posts should be easy. I am interested in what percentage of users who went on to post more questions needed individual guidance from meta, and what percentage found their own way –  Rachel Mar 21 '13 at 16:18
    
How many of them have created a clone account? I see that fairly regularly. –  BalusC Mar 21 '13 at 16:20
    
Not in a way that I would consider reliable enough to be useful, @Rachel. –  Shog9 Mar 21 '13 at 16:20
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I don't have numbers for this ready at hand, @Chichiray, but Kevin dug into it a little while back and it's fairly rare. If you see it, flag - mods can usually just destroy these accounts. –  Shog9 Mar 21 '13 at 16:22
    
The success rate makes me sad :( –  Asad Mar 21 '13 at 16:26
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Depends on what you consider a "success", @Asad. –  Shog9 Mar 21 '13 at 16:26
    
@Shog9 Hitting the ban, going on to ask questions, never hitting it again. Maybe my criteria are too stringent. –  Asad Mar 21 '13 at 16:27
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Well, look at it another way, @Asad: as vampire repellent, the system is over 80% effective. –  Shog9 Mar 21 '13 at 16:27
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Probably the most surprising stat here is the ~50% backslide rate for those who get unbanned. I would have thought that the few who really took the time to get themselves unbanned would work pretty hard to make sure their content was of high enough quality to not re-ban them. –  Servy Mar 21 '13 at 23:48

Is there a reasonable chance of recovering from a ban, assuming you care enough to try?

By and large I cannot comment, but I am an example of a question-banned user who makes a positive contribution to SE, and is attempting to clear the ban by-the-book.

I am still question-banned on MSO, after a significantly good week on both SO (about 1.5K rep, #199 for the week) and MSO (500+ rep, #30 for the week). I had some good luck admittedly, but luck on it's own is insufficient to generate those results. It would be nice to have SOME idea how close I am to getting the question ban lifted; honey still catches more flies than vinegar, last I saw.

Update Another set-back; an MSO question that I posted a good upvoted answer for just got deleted, costing me 80 rep. I wonder if the deletion of that answer further deepens my hole, even beyond the 80 rep loss, becasue of being removed by management along with the question. I thought the question was a good one, on how reward systems influence human behaviour in the context of SE.

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This doesn't provide an answer to the question, really. –  slhck Mar 18 '13 at 7:13
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How will members find out what happens to banned users, if none stand up and discuss their subsequent actions? –  Pieter Geerkens Mar 18 '13 at 8:00
    
I understand the frustration but it's probably all around numbers. Suppose you posted four or five questions which got total of -80 votes. You need to get those 80 votes back as upvotes. That's very rough and of course not official response but I strongly believe that's the idea behind the ban. You are in a good stand; keep being active by posting good answers and eventually the ban will be lifted. Patience is the key word here. –  Shadow Wizard Mar 18 '13 at 8:01
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@slhck taking into account that (still question banned) answerer has about 1.5K rep at SO, this one looks like one of the best answers I've seen so far here, to the question asked: "Is there a reasonable chance of recovering from a ban, assuming you care enough to try?" –  gnat Mar 18 '13 at 8:03
    
@gnat In its original form this should have been a comment or even a separate question ("It would be nice to have SOME idea how close I am to getting the question ban lifted"). –  slhck Mar 18 '13 at 8:12
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@slhck: Good point. Of course I am question-banned, and can only recover by getting points for answers, not comments or questions; a Catch-22 that I need to tread carefully to not dig my hole deeper. –  Pieter Geerkens Mar 18 '13 at 8:16
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@gnat The OP of this answer is only question-banned on MSO I think. His SO reputation does not factor in to that at all. He can be a 100k SO user but, from what I know, still be banned on MSO. –  Bart Mar 18 '13 at 9:09
    
@Bart I edited the answer to reflect MSO-specific details (500+ rep prior to posting it), by looking at these I still believe it's pretty good –  gnat Mar 18 '13 at 9:14
    
@gnat Sure, it's positive. But the hole that was dug was particularly deep. So it might take a while to get out of that one. –  Bart Mar 18 '13 at 9:15
    
@Bart: Granted. Can I get brownie points for identifying a bug when the system detects serial downvoting at the same time as one of the serially downvoted questions is deleted ? There is something funny with my transaction list at that time, (I think rep calcualation is fine.) –  Pieter Geerkens Mar 18 '13 at 9:23
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Hey, anything that is a positive contribution will certainly not be a bad thing. Though you have now made me think of actual brownies with no food in sight....damn you... –  Bart Mar 18 '13 at 9:29
    
@Bart: So how do I report this bug while being question banned on MSO? Is notifying you sufficient? This is probably not the place to provide greater detail. –  Pieter Geerkens Mar 18 '13 at 9:38
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@GangDownvoted Email me what you found (the address is in my profile) and I'll take a look. May or may not be a bug. But if it is, I'll then post it for you. –  Anna Lear Mar 18 '13 at 14:24
    
@GangDownvoted Ah yeah, sorry about that. Didn't think of that. –  Bart Mar 18 '13 at 15:15
    
@AnnaLear: In transit; thank you. –  Pieter Geerkens Mar 18 '13 at 15:18

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