It seems that when a user asks a bad question, that they have likely asked a number of other poor questions in the past as well. (I only have anecdote to back this up, no hard evidence)

After voting to close a question that I consider to be particularly poor, is it a bad idea to look through some of the offending user's other questions for other poor questions that may be deserving of a close-vote or a down-vote and possibly popping into a chat room to ask others to look at questions I think should be closed?

I could see the abuse filters picking up this sort of behavior, since it is targeted at a single user, but at the same time it seems to me that cleanup should happen when cleanup is needed.

Is doing this considered abusive behavior? Is there a better way address this?

  • 7
    That's great form. How else can we find patterns of extremely bad content, or right-out abusive behaviour (like asking the same question over and over because the OP is not happy with the initial answer)?
    – Pekka
    Mar 19, 2012 at 20:09
  • So then, perhaps the question that should really be asked is how this behavior can be made to be considered "acceptable" by the abuse filter? (I haven't run into it yet that I know of, but I worry, which keeps me from doing this more aggressively.)
    – cdeszaq
    Mar 19, 2012 at 20:12
  • 4
    You mean the downvote abuse filter? Yeah, good point... although maybe knowing that we should cast only 2-3 downvotes on a single user is a good thing. Any really extreme stuff could then be flagged
    – Pekka
    Mar 19, 2012 at 20:13
  • 3
    Snoop and poop to your heart's content.
    – user1228
    Mar 19, 2012 at 21:27
  • @Won't - But, what about the abuse filter(s)? My heart says that almost every close-vote I give should also be accompanied by a down-vote, but for some users that could be a fairly high number.
    – cdeszaq
    Mar 19, 2012 at 21:31
  • 1
    I found myself giving a lot fewer downvotes once I gained the privilege to vote to close. I save my downvotes for the questions where it feels like the question could not possibly be improved. (Closed questions can be re-opened by others; downvotes can only be reversed by me, and then only if someone takes the time to tell me that the question has been improved.)
    – sarnold
    Mar 19, 2012 at 22:20

3 Answers 3


No, I don't think that is bad. But I might be biased, because I do this all the time.

The only things to watch out for are:

  1. Don't serially (down)-vote the user, or your votes will probably be automatically reversed. It's intentionally a secret exactly what the threshold is, but use some common sense. It doesn't do any good to downvote poor questions in the name of cleaning up the site if those votes are just going to be automatically reversed in 24 hours.

  2. Don't fall into the trap of enacting a personal vendetta against the user. Remember, you're assessing only their questions here, not them as a person. The correlation is strong between one poor question and many poor questions, and that's the only thing you should be operating on. Always judge each question independently on its own merits.

If you see a glimmer of hope, a chance of improvement, always take the opportunity to be proactive. Some good options include editing the question yourself to improve it, and/or leaving comments for the user suggesting things (s)he can do to improve either that question or, more generally, their future questions.

  • 2
    I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who uses a bad question as a flag for possible deeper problems. And yes, I do make sure to evaluate each question on it's own, tending to err on the side of leaving things open rather than close everything. The serial down-voting is a concern, especially when a user's questions are border-line close-vote eligible and only a down-vote is warranted. In those cases, I tend to only do a few and leave comments.
    – cdeszaq
    Mar 19, 2012 at 20:00
  • I do that too - good point about the serial downvoting. You might also mention serial flagging - there was an incident a few months ago where someone went through a users account and flagged dozens of their (admittedly poor) posts. Not recommended behavior, needless to say Mar 19, 2012 at 20:07
  • 1
    @Adam: I suppose I somehow missed that episode, but serial flagging won't be reversed, it'll just get the moderators after you with pitchforks, crazily muttering something about the number of flags in the queue. The better approach is clearly to raise a single flag and use that to explain the problem. Mar 19, 2012 at 22:32
  • Yep. See Tim's comment here: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/120806/… Mar 19, 2012 at 23:02

Not only is this not poor form, it is in fact a good thing to do - it helps weed out bad questions from the site, but with any luck help educate the user as to what makes a bad question.

I suggest that you post comments on such other questions explaining how they can be improved as part of the process.

  • That was what I thought, but I wanted to check. In general, I do try to offer at least a pointer towards the FAQ and what constitutes a good question.
    – cdeszaq
    Mar 19, 2012 at 19:57
  • 1
    A caution: if you were to comment on several of a user's questions then they would quite likely notice that all the comments were from you (same name in a bunch of inbox entries) and possibly feel stalked or stomped on — not a mood conducive to learning.
    – Kevin Reid
    Mar 20, 2012 at 15:09

This is a very useful thing to do. It takes the focus off of filter poor questions and focuses on filter terrible users (and spam). It's something I do all the time. One such example where it turned out to be helpful is described in this question, where the user was abusing the system. After reading an extremely poor question (badly written and way off-topic), I clicked on the user and discovered a repost of the same thing on a different SE site (also closed), and a question that was migrated then closed.

So yes. Do it. It can help prevent "straight-up abuse".

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