I was recently banned from having the ability to ask questions on Stack Overflow. I have read all the articles about why I was banned and I am not asking to explain why. I would like to know how the system knows when to ban you from asking a question or giving an answer.

Is there a certain number of downvotes that you have to get on questions, like a -6 reputation for asking questions, or is it more than that? I would just like to know for future purposes of what to shoot for when asking a question.

I'm not necessarily asking for the number of downvotes or anything specific. I just want to know what it is based on. Because I have only asked 1 duplicate question and 6 with no votes/downvotes. So I just wanna know if it is based off of something else like user reports

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    Closely guarded secret, so people won't do the nasty and stop just before the last hurdle.
    – Oded
    Jan 4, 2013 at 21:42
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    @Oded: I approve of the auto-ban and mostly understand why the algorithm's kept secret, but the "it lets people walk the line" argument never made sense to me. It's not like someone can say "well, now I have n - 1 downvotes, I just won't get the nth one." Jan 4, 2013 at 21:51
  • @DavidRobinson lol yeah. I approve of it too, because it prevents those dumb people that repeat questions. And I agree with the walking the line comment, because why would you want to walk the line? Jan 4, 2013 at 21:53
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    You can see "oh, I'm not even close to being banned, I can ask some 'gimme teh codez' questions in the hope that someone does my work for me before it's closed." as opposed to, "I'm within 10 downvotes of being banned, I'll just post that question on MSDN instead".
    – Servy
    Jan 4, 2013 at 22:35
  • It's not based on people reporting you, it's entirely automated. Deleted questions are a big part of it. May 21, 2013 at 18:07

2 Answers 2


The algorithm for determining when you are question banned is specifically not disclosed to prevent people from intentionally "walking the line" and trying to come in just under the limits.

  • Is there anything you can tell me about it? Is it downvotes, user complaints, repeated questions? Jan 4, 2013 at 22:02
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    It's metrics that are an indication of how the community views the quality of your contributions. Just strive to create quality content and you shouldn't have anything to worry about.
    – Servy
    Jan 4, 2013 at 22:33

While I don't know anything specific about the algorithm, my general understanding is that if you do not have a significant fraction of questions which are downvoted, closed, and/or deleted, you probably will not be question-banned. (Questions you've deleted yourself still count as deleted, and they can still play a role in triggering a question ban.)

If a lot of people have flagged your questions (which is the only thing I can guess you might mean by "user reports"), either the flags are valid and your questions will get closed and/or deleted, possibly triggering the question ban, or the flags are invalid, and nothing happens. It all comes back to the quality of your questions, as judged by the community.


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