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Can one get suspended for stating too controversial or unpopular opinions in meta questions and answers about (SE) political or somehow controversial issues concerning the community of a site? Or is the "worst thing" which could happen (and which is completely ok and natural of course as the system is intended to work exactly like this) that one obtains many downvotes, if the majority of people disagrees?

I hope for answers which generally explain how people here think about this and what is usual, without relating this question to any particular issue. Personally I'd like to learn from the answers to this question, if one has to be more careful when actively taking part in meta discussions, than I naturally thought and what are the guidelines concerning this.

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Assuming that it's well-intentioned, and it's clear to everybody that it's well-intentioned, then not directly. However, enough downvoted questions could get you a question-ban. –  Mysticial Apr 26 '13 at 18:51
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You'll be OK as long as you don't disagree with anyone. –  Chris Gerken Apr 26 '13 at 18:51
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I feel very uneasy about posting here and apologize in advance if this question is somehow inappropriate, too unconstructive, or something. If this is the case, I will remove it. I only gave it a try because I'd really like to know what I have to think about when taking part in meta discussions in the future. BTW I am not too sure about the tags and would therefore appreciate help concerning this too. –  Dilaton Apr 26 '13 at 18:54
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Consideirng this guy is still running around, I doubt it. –  LittleBobbyTables Apr 26 '13 at 18:54
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Stating your opinion is one thing and I'd say anything goes although if you start getting offensive in your defense of your religious, political, or opinion you will quickly find yourself as being flagged as offensive and suspended to "cool down". StackExchange is pretty tolerant. –  tombull89 Apr 26 '13 at 19:04
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Now I'm waiting to see your next question! :) –  vascowhite Apr 26 '13 at 19:09
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If you're talking about your suspension on Physics.SE, you know very well that this wasn't the reason behind it :/ –  Manishearth Apr 26 '13 at 19:26
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Neither the team nor the Physics.SE moderators are going to discuss this in an open forum, so I'm not sure that there is a point to this. –  dmckee Apr 26 '13 at 19:27
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@Manishearth and Dmckee, I explicitely said that I'd like to get general answers to this question. I did not want to bring in any specific issue or something on purpose, to obtain a more objective response from a general point of view. –  Dilaton Apr 26 '13 at 19:34
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Is this going to end in a "AHA, but then why was I suspended at..."? Or do you have something constructive to ask in another question here on MSO? If it's the latter, just go ahead. The worst that can happen is disagreement really. Unless you're not simply controversial, but offensive or something of that nature. –  Bart Apr 26 '13 at 19:34
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i got -10 votes for a question,but i am still alive.Like a boss! –  Michel Apr 26 '13 at 19:49
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@LBT I read his -26 answer... my favorite part is how he tipped off a "women in the kitchen" debate on an irrelevant side comment. –  AAA Apr 26 '13 at 20:00
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You might not get suspended, however I can tell you from experience that some people may start to value what you say less than if another person said it, or ignore it completely. So you're welcome to speak your mind on meta in a polite and constructive manner where appropriate, but if you constantly bring up something controversial everywhere you go on meta, chances are that people will start ignoring what you say, or assume that you have a hidden agenda whenever you post something. :) –  Rachel Apr 26 '13 at 20:13
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@DImension10 those tags are not relevant here. Post ban is totally different than account suspension. Dilaton - please don't just approve anything you see, think twice and check if it's really a good edit. –  Shadow Wizard Sep 15 '13 at 10:18
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@ShaWizDowArd: I put them in because someone said that while you don't get suspended, you may get post - banned from asking . –  user Sep 15 '13 at 10:41

3 Answers 3

What gets one a suspension in the majority of cases is disruption. It doesn't particularly matter what you do to be disruptive; if you found some way to be massively, repeatedly disruptive by retagging posts, you'll get suspended. While the action which eventually caused the suspension was technically "retagging" it would hardly be fair to say that means one can be suspended "for retagging posts".

So can you be suspended for being "too controversial" is the wrong question; it's not really the disagreement that's the problem, it's the problems it does (or doesn't) cause that matter. "Too controversial" for some is trolling/stubbornly sticking to an issue to others. If you consistently and insistently post opinions/arguments with the intent/effect of being disruptive it's certainly possible to be suspended for it.

Intent and disruption are the big factors (to me); both are generally required for a suspension. Sometimes people cause a big disruption once or twice on accident; I give them a nudge as to why whatever they did was problematic, and if they don't do it again it's rarely a suspendable offense. With no intent, it's not that bad. When one causes disruption on purpose, either by clearly intending to attack others or by going against previous warnings from the community/moderators, then a suspension becomes more likely.

Don't beat a dead horse; especially on small communities when that one guy is always bringing up that thing no one agrees with him on, discussion turns toxic. Just because Meta is for discussion doesn't mean people are allowed to be deliberately toxic to others. It's the sort of thing there's really no firm rules on, but if it becomes a problem a moderator may have to step in.

Note that as was brought up in the comments, Meta Stack Overflow is a bit of an exception; you can be automatically question banned on MSO by posting a large number of downvoted questions (or a number of largely downvoted questions) with few/no positively scoring questions. But honestly I wouldn't consider exclusively posting highly downvoted posts to be * controversial*, that's more just universally bad, controversy usually implies there are actually two (sizable) sides to the matter.

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Heh yes, definitely don't be "that one guy" always bringing up "that one thing" in smaller communities. I'm sure someone would have suspended me on Programmers if they could have when I first went on a crusade to change the name of the site. But honestly, it was simply that I didn't understand the site rules and meta communities, and people kept telling me to post my suggestion in different places or in different ways :) (Ugh, I'm doing it again >.<) –  Rachel Apr 26 '13 at 19:40
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@Rachel Then again, you'll never be "that one guy". Well played. ;) –  Bart Apr 26 '13 at 19:52

As other answerers have said, you won't get suspended purely for being controversial, although you can get suspended for being a bad citizen while you're being controversial.

However, "suspension" has a very specific meaning on this site and other Stack Exchange sites. If many of your posts on SO, MSO, SU, SF or Programmers receive large numbers of downvotes, it is possible that you will be banned from asking further questions on that site. Since downvotes often indicate "I disagree with this person's request" on metas, being controversial can in fact lead to a loss of privileges in extreme cases, and on this site specifically.

(Thanks to Yannis for the factual update!)

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The automatic question ban is enabled only on SO, MSO, SU, SF, and Programmers. MSO is the only Meta where you might get automatically banned if a lot of your questions are downvoted (the specifics are not disclosed, but the MSO q-ban algorithm is certainly more forgiving than the main site one). –  Yannis Apr 26 '13 at 19:51
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Yeah, I think I've only seen it come into play on MSO once. Thanks for the update. –  Pops Apr 26 '13 at 19:57

In my experience, as long as you are a good citizen, you will not be suspended for stating your opinion or asking an unpopular question, even if it is controversial. And unless you willing make serious violations of the site's rules, you won't get suspended without at least getting a warning or talked to by a moderator, or a SE employee.

However, the question/answer ban does affect Meta users as it does on the main sites. The criteria for triggering the ban is adjust to make it more difficult to be banned as downvotes generally can mean something different on MSO and the other per-site metas

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