I have recently noticed a number of questions where the user (often a very new one with low rep) dumps a bunch of code, describes symptoms of the problem and asks others to find the bug(s). Often the person in question shows no knowledge of basic debugging tools either.

IMO, such requests are job for consultants, and should not be answered for free (= without compensation). I have recently started a vote to close one such question ("too localized"), but voting to close seems a rather inefficient process. So I'm looking for a way to sanction such users.

One possible solution could be to add another "close" reason and if the question is closed with that reason, the user must collect at least, e.g., 100 rep through his answers, before he is allowed to ask another question. Repeated offenders would have to collect increasingly more points before being allowed to ask the next question.

  • A related note for OP--your accounts aren't all linked. This one has physics, MSO and math accounts. Your SO account isn't included.
    – user176326
    Commented Feb 20, 2012 at 21:13
  • 13
    I sympathize. As a kind of workaround, I have a pro-forma comment stored in my browser. It reads like this: Welcome to Stack Overflow! SO is not meant to be a "debug my code" site - if that's what you are looking for, you should probably hire an expert to do it for you. If you have a *specific* technical question arising of your working on the issue, feel free to edit the question accordingly. it usually gets the point across fine, and helps me stay polite (which I sometimes find hard with such requests)
    – Pekka
    Commented Feb 20, 2012 at 21:16
  • @simchona: That is correct, and I don't know why it happened or how to fix it. It is strange that link to "meta" is displayed on top of the main SO site, is on the same domain (SO, not SE), yet I have to have a separate account for it.
    – zvrba
    Commented Feb 20, 2012 at 21:17
  • @zvrba but your accounts arent even linked--you have two separate groups of related accounts.
    – user176326
    Commented Feb 20, 2012 at 21:19
  • 9
    Note: Sanction, as a verb, means to give approval. Sanction, as a noun, is a threat to annihilate with missiles (roughly speaking). This particular ambiguity means that aside from being basically the worst word ever, it also lends a rather different meaning to the question title, depending on how you read it. FYI. Commented Feb 20, 2012 at 21:36
  • Tried to edit the title, but the strike HTML tag didn't work there. But thanks for the remark!
    – zvrba
    Commented Feb 20, 2012 at 21:49
  • 1
    It is getting a bit out of hand lately. But existing counter-measures can still work. Be sure to downvote the question so the automatic question-ban rules will take effect. Vote "too localized" so I don't have to read it. Commented Feb 20, 2012 at 21:53
  • Some times what you think that is for close, maybe some other see that is not. Do not think that you can fully understand everything, and some times thinks that we do not understand we think that are for close.
    – Aristos
    Commented Feb 20, 2012 at 22:13
  • But then, the newbie user has to answer question to get as many as 100 reps in order to ask another questions, he or she will probably never come back again (or just simply create a new account). How can someone who is new to programming as the knowledge to answer so many questions? I still remember when I first started programming, there were time when I simply don't know how I should ask or whether the problem is cause by actual bugs or the setup. I think that, even for code dump questions, it is not hard to figure out what his or her real problem is and give suggestion on how to solve it.
    – tuzzer
    Commented Feb 21, 2012 at 0:32

4 Answers 4


So I'm looking for a way to sanction such users.

While these questions are frustrating to view, I'm not sure anything extra is needed to deal with them. They will usually collect the required 5 close votes (less if a diamond mod also votes) pretty quickly, along with a bunch of down votes. The system already has mechanisms to detect repeated closed questions of poor quality and auto bans that user from asking further questions until the quality of their contributions improves*.

Is another close reason needed? Not really. Just make sure you use the appropriate reason and down vote where appropriate. If you notice someone is escaping the penalties by working the system (maybe by opening a new account) then flag one of their posts for mod attention and state the reason.

*sorry but I can't quote the metrics that trigger this OTTOMH, I don't know if they have actually been published.


If, and only if this is becoming more of a problem, I would say that I agree with some variant of this proposal, and I think it might help keep the help vampires away; users should be punished for knowingly posting utter crap to Stack Overflow.

The one caveat I would propose is to give brand new users one freebie, whereby they're allowed to make this mistake once, be corrected, and allowed to move on without having Trogdor school them.


Voting to close as Not a Real Question (as long as it's the chosen reason) will result in a down-vote from Community and a 2 point reputation reduction.

However, the focus of Stack Overflow is the post not the poster so you should only use this approach if the question does in fact qualify - though given that it's just a code dump I'd say it does.

  • 6
    Doesn't seem harsh enough - I think I like the proposal above, or at least something similar to it Commented Feb 20, 2012 at 21:17
  • @AdamRackis - I was pointing out you can work within the current system.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Commented Feb 20, 2012 at 21:17
  • Yes, it could work within the current system, but, as Adam pointed out, it's not harsh enough.
    – zvrba
    Commented Feb 20, 2012 at 21:21

How about adding a feature to review questions of new users (low rep). The review process would take 2 members (high(er) rep) to approve, before the question becomes visible to the public. Just like editing is arranged for users with not enough rep.

This way it is fairly easy to prevent 'make me this' and 'fix me that' questions and maybe even help new users and learn them a bit about asking questions by given comments why their question was not approved (assuming it was a bad question).

Personally, I would be happy to review a few questions once in a while, to get rid of these kind of questions!

  • That could work. I would also be happy to review newbie questions. I think their questions could be accepted automatically after they have collected, let's say, 50 rep. (Remember that also questions increase rep: if they know how to ask smart questions, their rep will increase, even if they can't (yet) help others.) (But AdamRackis has a valid point.)
    – zvrba
    Commented Feb 20, 2012 at 21:32
  • While brand new users' first questions are already in the review queue, I think holding the question until it's approved would seriously impede new users, most of whom are not posting utter crap Commented Feb 20, 2012 at 21:32
  • Well after one or two questions are reviewed, their new questions could be accepted automatically (eg when they have 10 or 20 rep). Personally, I would understand such action when I would enter a community as a new user, especially if there is a message telling the reasons waiting for me.
    – Veger
    Commented Feb 20, 2012 at 21:33
  • You could post this as a new question; see whether the admins approve. It would be nice to keep for example the RSS feed free of tons of rubbish.
    – l0b0
    Commented Feb 21, 2012 at 9:53

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