I feel I might have been hellbanned, and I'd like to know if there is any recourse.

Per CodingHorror:

A hellbanned user is invisible to all other users, but crucially, not himself. From their perspective, they are participating normally in the community but nobody ever responds to them. They can no longer disrupt the community because they are effectively a ghost. It's a clever way of enforcing the "don't feed the troll" rule in the community. When nothing they post ever gets a response, a hellbanned user is likely to get bored or frustrated and leave. I believe it, too; if I learned anything from reading The Great Brain as a child, it's that the silent treatment is the cruelest punishment of them all.

I asked a question earlier, that in my mind was decent enough, but even if it wasn't it hasn't gotten any replies positive or negative. For a community as vibrant and active as SO, this seems very odd.

Admittedly, I am a "Question Asker" and while I try to answer any question I feel I can add value to, my main interaction with the site has been to ask questions. Some of those questions may be sub par, too specific, annoying to look at, or whatever, but I never meant the community any harm. The fact is, I am not a schooled programmer and do not have a sliver of the knowledge that the typical "answerer" has. But I fear that because of this my questions have been deemed unworthy, and I have been hellbanned.

If indeed I have been hellbanned, this feels pretty lousy from the perspective of a user who had no malintent. Even if my questions are bothersome, I still visit the site, see the ads, count towards visitor metrics, and to be deceitfully eliminated from the community seems harsh and unwarrnanted.

If I haven't been hellbanned, then I apoligize for my paranoic question here, and if I have been I'd like to know if there is any action I can take short of deleteing my account and moving on with my life?

Honestly, this is a cause of great anxiety for me.

  • 2
    No, you haven't been hellbanned (I'm pretty sure it isn't implemented on SE, and it wouldn't be used if you just posted bad questions if it was). I can see you, and your question has 11 views so some other people must have too. Maybe you need to change the tags on your question so that it is more visible.
    – ughoavgfhw
    Commented Sep 16, 2011 at 1:23
  • 3
    At the time of posting this Meta question, your SO question was only 5 hours old. I would have waited just a little bit longer before thinking that hellbanning was the reason for the lack of answers. In any case I have tendered an answer for you.
    – slugster
    Commented Sep 16, 2011 at 2:02
  • 34
    It would have been hilarious if no one had responded to this, but you guys ruined it. Commented Sep 16, 2011 at 2:04
  • 1
    Not a single one of your questions or answers has a negative score, and many have a positive score. Why would any negative action be taken against you? Yes, it's possible some of your posts have been deleted, but still, why would you think you'd be hellbanned, when there are plenty of "help vampires" out there who ask dozens of awful questions and never post a single helpful answer?
    – agf
    Commented Sep 16, 2011 at 2:26
  • 2
    ughoavgfhw, David Zaslavsky, slugster, agf: Thanks for commenting! What happened to Bill the Lizard, BTW? His profile page is giving a 404. Commented Sep 16, 2011 at 2:42
  • 2
    @muntoo who's that Bill the Lizard? never seen that guy at SO, neither questions nor answers nor comments :)
    – gnat
    Commented Sep 16, 2011 at 7:38

3 Answers 3


There is no hellbanning implemented: it was just a thought experiment. Sam "waffles" Saffron, who works for Stack Exchange, Inc., categorically took it off the table when it was discussed.

And in fact, I can see your question just fine:


It's rare, but sometimes questions don't get any love. It's okay: that's what bounties and the tumbleweed badge are for.

You might want to consider tagging your question with a language (if it's language-specific), or even asking on IT Security if it's purely about security design and is language-agnostic.

  • Well, I can tell definitively that I haven't been hellbanned but the very fact that you mentioned "99%" sure and the apparent radio silence from the SO team leaves me to wonder if there should be clarification on this. "99% sure" was from a prior edit of this answer.
    – user141064
    Commented Sep 16, 2011 at 1:30
  • @Jim changed it to 100% and added a link to SE stating it will never ever be implemented.
    – user149432
    Commented Sep 16, 2011 at 1:30
  • Wish I had read that answer. I wouldn't feel like an ass now. :o(
    – user141064
    Commented Sep 16, 2011 at 1:34

Hellbanning (or any other form of tricky banning Jeff's article mentions) is not implemented on Stack Exchange. However, your question may just not have been of enough interest to the community (or the front page may have been very busy). You can try editing your post to bump it and see if it'll get more attention now.

  • 1
    That is good to know, but is it stated specifically that it is not implemented anywhere? The only discussion on meta I could find was here: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/93806/… and it didn't have any definitive mention if such a system was or would be in place.
    – user141064
    Commented Sep 16, 2011 at 1:25

This might be better asked on the IT Security site where you are likely to get more people looking at the question.

Your question seems to be more of a general theory type question than a programming question. It seems like it would be more suitable there.