A recent question got me thinking:

Should a user who has asked 270 questions, answered 0 (zero, NULL, zilch) questions and has upvoted two times be allowed to ask even more questions? Should he be labled somehow? I'm afraid that the accept rate alone (22% in this case) just doesn't cut it.


Exactly one month later we are talking about 475 questions, 0 answers, 11 up- and 9 downvotes.

  • 1
    Always those < 15 char comments...
    – Treb
    Commented Aug 25, 2009 at 15:58
  • 12
    Maybe the user honestly doesn't know anything.
    – Troggy
    Commented Aug 25, 2009 at 16:23
  • "How do I ask in stackoverflow?"
    – perbert
    Commented Aug 25, 2009 at 16:25
  • "How do I install WAMP on Windows?" isn't really that different.
    – innaM
    Commented Aug 25, 2009 at 16:31
  • @Manni: True, true...
    – perbert
    Commented Aug 25, 2009 at 17:05

9 Answers 9


If you look a that users reputation graph, you'll see that he has a considerable number of downvotes. My sense of it is that most of the other ask-without-end-but-never-learn-and-never-give-back users are in a similar situation.

The reputedly coming change to the downvote value will disproportionately affect such users.

Which doesn't bother me at all.

I should say that people asking a lot of questions doesn't bother me, per se. Folks are welcome to do it, and we are here to help.

But there is a usage pattern that annoys the hell out of me, because as far as I can tell, the users don't even want to learn. I generally have patience for not-too-bright students as long as they try. But some people have no appreciation for the limits (possibly current, possibly intrinsic) of their skills. Their questions are a waste of time.

  • +1. annoys the hell out of me too.
    – mmx
    Commented Sep 25, 2009 at 10:12


As has been mentioned over and over. This is a question and answer site. Some users (most users) provide many times more answers than questions. They are generating content by providing answers.

Some users ask many more questions (hundreds in your case.) These users are generating content by providing questions. Even if they never accept a response, the users who answer those questions are still able to gain reputation by providing thoughtful and insightful answers.

If we punish the users who post a lot of questions:

We are punishing the users who would answer those questions as well.


If they don't have the experience then they should be asking questions, not answering them.

  • 10
    yes, but they should be able to pick a correct answer Commented Aug 26, 2009 at 14:51

Should a user who has asked 270 questions, answered 0 (zero, NULL, zilch) questions and has upvoted two times be allowed to ask even more questions? Should he be labled somehow? I'm afraid that the accept rate alone (22% in this case) just doesn't cut it.

Can't people make that determination on their own? Why do they need to be labeled? Personally, I don't even like the acceptance rate being shown and I think that it takes away from the site a bit.


  • 5
    +1 I don't think the acceptance rate should show either. Commented Aug 25, 2009 at 16:41
  • +1 for the bold yes. Still undecided on the acceptance rate.
    – Rob Allen
    Commented Aug 25, 2009 at 16:56
  • Acceptance rate is a good thing as long as people understand you don't need 100. I suppose if you really want 100, and you only want to accept good answers then you can post bounties on all unanswered questions
    – Casebash
    Commented Sep 25, 2009 at 10:34

I think there is a difference between users who ask a lot of questions and users that are border-line spamming the site.

I hesitate to use the word spam because it implies malicious intent. But there are plenty of questions that still feel like the user was more interested in getting attention then in solving a problem. There are definite examples of spam like "How to for getting the gurls on the intrenets?" (actually, this may fall more under the category of vandalism), but there are also plenty of questions like "My form doesn't work" or "I want the pictures to be embedded into the PHP." Questions that are lazy, use poor grammar (and obviously not due to ESL), or don't bother providing any examples are very close to spam, I think. They don't show that any time was taken and they show a lack of courtesy and respect for the site and other users. This sort of behavior should be distinguished from that of users who ask more than answer, aren't bright, can't learn, won't learn, or just want to use this site to do their homework.

I make the distinction because I ask more than answer (last time I checked). I also answer without being sure of the answer. I also ask without researching my question elsewhere thoroughly.

I am, at best, an autodidact when it comes to computers and programming. I don't understand best-practices, I've taken one CS class (intro, got a C), I am guilty of using tables instead of CSS (but that was back in the bad-old-days) and of using arrays where objects would be better. I have read more than one site on OOP and just don't get it. I don't get JSON at all. I use the term Web Service when I mean SOAP. I do things by hand because I don't trust libraries.

And I try to only ask questions that I think need an answer.

My friend gave me crap once when I mentioned how I ask a question on here nearly everyday whenever I get stuck. "Oh, you're one of those users..." he said. I was embarrassed by saved face by pointing out that a majority (or solid minority) of my questions get up-voted. Someone must think they worth asking, I told him. But the more I think about it, I think my embarrassment and his resentment was rooted in this ugly trend in the IT world of grouping all helpless people together. "One of those people" is a collection of anyone who asks a question that experienced and formally trained programmings take for granted AND users who ask lazy questions like "How can I make my text a different color?"

So as a user who asks more than answers and who feels under-qualified to try to offer my limited knowledge, I can appreciate the spirit of this question. I don't think the problem is with users who leech answers without giving back, it's with users who don't appreciate the community enough to take their when composing their question and take their time in deciding whether they need to ask the question at all. (And we end up paying for it because it takes our time to read it and piece together a possible response).

To the notion that limiting questions limits those answer questions, I agree unless someone gets credit for giving an easy answer to a bad question. By not accounting for this, we allow for inflated reputations that only reflect lots of answers, not lots of good answers.

  • What's your WPM anyhow?
    – random
    Commented Aug 26, 2009 at 10:26
  • 1
    Don't be jealous. I like to think I make up for being long-winded by being interesting and funny. I'd LIKE to think that...
    – Anthony
    Commented Aug 26, 2009 at 10:28
  • Then don't read it. Your tastes are your own. I really hate brevity and bluntness, should I mark everyone down because I don't like that style?
    – Anthony
    Commented Aug 26, 2009 at 12:05
  • @Anthony - I removed my comment. However, lighten up a little. On meta you are bound to have a lot worse comments. Commented Aug 26, 2009 at 13:03
  • AWwww. I am usually light as a feather. I thought you downvoted me, plus I get tldr on a regular basis so I'm touchy. Oh the woes of having an English degree.
    – Anthony
    Commented Aug 26, 2009 at 15:26

If they're good questions, sure they should be allowed - we can always use more good question!

If they're bad questions... down-vote them


Some people give, some take. As long as we keep it proportional, it's okay.

  • But the point is that it's not proportional, isn't it?
    – Ether
    Commented Nov 1, 2009 at 6:42
  • As someone who likes to answer questions, I don't see asking as taking.
    – user131297
    Commented Nov 16, 2009 at 20:39

They are labeled as a person who has done such in their profile. You are free to check the askers profile before you answer a question and decide for yourself if you want to answer. I think the "acceptance percentage" will help "point out" user's who do not follow through on questions asked. But, I do not think it would be fair to point out a user's question/answer ratio in the same manner. Asking good questions is an important part of the SO system and it is not, by definition, a negative thing to have only asked and not answered. Certainly there are examples where it is not a good thing, but asking quality questions is necessary and should not be discouraged.


The lord giveth, and the lord taketh away.

  • If there is abuse flag it. If we flag it enough, the behavior will be punished.
  • If the question is poor, don't upvote it or downvote it.
  • If the user never accepts any answers, consider giving his/her questions a skip.

Keep in mind, downvoting someone because in the past the person exhibited poor behavior (and not on the merit of the question) is abuse.

Should more that what is now done... be done?

Yes the community need to learn about the wonderful flag button and use it more liberally when abuse occurs.

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