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So SO's recent super secret method for preventing problem askers from asking more questions has been getting some recent attention. As I understand it, they can use the site in all ways they otherwise would with the exception of asking questions. A distinct and older action for problem users is to place them under temporary suspension. As I understand the penalty box, the user has all privileges revoked.

Is question-blocking designed to be more or less serious than a temporary suspension? I'm guessing that, since they are still allowed to use non-asking functions, perhaps it was meant to be less severe than an outright suspension. However, I suspect that, as implemented, it is more severe than then penalty box. It's likely that those who get question-blocked use the site almost exclusively for asking questions, so taking away this ability effectively bans them forever from SO (even though technically they could still answer questions, etc). Is this by design, or am I perhaps mistaken in the relative severity?

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2 Answers 2

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Is question-blocking designed to be more or less serious than a temporary suspension?

It is a (more or less) permanent ban, by IP address.

Is this by design


...they can technically still post answers [to get upvotes] but in my experience the types of users who tend to hit this filter are .. unlikely .. to produce an upvotable answer. They are free to try but it's not a situation where I think it would be helpful to encourage them to start "answering" things. -- Jeff Atwood.

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@mario: In theory, yes. But to prevent gaming of the system, the requirements for such an "unban" (if it exists at all) are kept secret. – Robert Harvey Apr 14 '11 at 5:27
@Robert what about company with same external IP with more than one employee having accounts here? When one is banned, does it mean all the rest are punished with him? – Shadow Wizard Apr 14 '11 at 7:54
Can I have a list of companies that have had there IP address banned from asking quesions, so I know never to get a job with them? (A progamming job without SO access is a very poor job) – Ian Ringrose Apr 14 '11 at 10:24
@Ian - a programmer who can't get around an IP ban just isn't trying. – tvanfosson Apr 14 '11 at 11:55
@tvanfossion, gettting round a IP ban and getting sacked as the IT department does not like what you have done is not a good outcome! – Ian Ringrose Apr 14 '11 at 15:21

It's likely that those who get question-blocked use the site almost exclusively for asking questions

And this is our problem how...?

Based on the prior history of asked questions, their questions make our community materially worse and are no longer welcome here.

They can submit suggested edits, they can vote, they can answer, they can utilize every privilege their rep level allows with the sole exception of asking questions.

They are also free to use any other of the millions of sites on the internet to ask their questions.

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I think there should be a way to allow them to ask a few quesions iff they get lots of rep from doing what is not blocked to them. – Ian Ringrose Apr 14 '11 at 10:22
@ian that is possible, actually -- the rep threshold is not something I want to disclose but it is not that high. There's plenty of rep from editing and answering and bounties to be had. – Jeff Atwood Apr 14 '11 at 10:25
I was pointing out that they almost exclusively ask questions so I could note that this effectively bans them from the site when I wasn't sure if that was the intention (since their is a different form of "punishment" that restricts more privileges but for less time). Apparently that more or less was the intention, so it seems it is working as designed; thanks for the clarification. – Michael McGowan Apr 14 '11 at 16:10

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