Before I start, I know this has been discussed multiple times during the last 2 years. Still a sizable number of programming question appear on Meta regularly. Keeping in mind that the content base for new users (FAQs, etc.) on Meta has grown considerably during the past couple of years. Its my gut feeling that answers to majority of the question a new user would ask can be found via searching on Meta. Will it help if we add a new-user restriction on Meta that you should have posted at least one question/answer on the main site(s) before you can ask a question on Meta?

Side note: Is there a relevant query on Data Explorer that can provide some facts on how many users have asked their 'first ever SE undeleted-question' on Meta?

2 Answers 2


I don't have hard data in front of me on this, however I'm quite sure that a significant number of people asking those questions here are trying to circumvent a ban.

This is the basic M.O.:

  1. Get banned from asking questions on SO due to quality
  2. Ask them on Meta, or Programmers SE
  3. Wait for the question to be migrated
  4. Profit.

This would basically stop that, since they'd have to come 'clean' about their account on the main site, which would show that the person is likely asking here due to a ban. This would let us deal with those people more effectively, so I think it's a good idea.

The reasons I don't have hard data are:

  • Many of those questions are asked by brand new accounts, as mentioned above
  • Even moderators have no way of knowing for sure if an account is blocked from asking questions, beyond an obvious train wreck in the user's history.

This would help stop the flow on Meta, but I don't think it can help some of the ones that Programmers SE has been seeing. I'm not quite sure if anything can be done about that.

  • 2
    Questions from Meta.SO are never migrated to SO, as far as I've seen. And migrating from P.SE to SO will fail if they are question-banned there, that was implemented recently. Nov 25, 2011 at 15:04
  • 3
    @Fabian No, questions on Meta aren't migrated, but they don't know that. And if they make a totally new (unassociated) account on PSE with a different OpenID, there's no way to know if they're question banned on SO. Most of these come from brand new accounts.
    – Tim Post
    Nov 25, 2011 at 15:10
  • 1
    @TimPost With me having moderator access on both sides of that now, we may have an easier time figuring out attempts to circumvent the ban.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Nov 25, 2011 at 16:07
  • From what I've seen, unless I'm missing 80% of these, most that I see are just people who are confused.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Nov 25, 2011 at 18:35

I am wondering, because I too have noticed a flood of programming questions in the last week, if new users aren't taking the instruction to "ask on Meta" a little too literally. What is the exact wording? What if the phrasing that we think reads "ask on Meta about being banned from asking questions on SO" is being read as "ask your question on Meta [what a strange name, perhaps it means something like quarantine or isolation] for now". It is possible, isn't it?

If so, a clearer (ESL-friendly) directive about what it is banned people are supposed to take to Meta would be helpful.

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