This is intended to address an issue with new users that have no reputation. If they are inexperienced, they are very unlikely to gain any reputation very quickly. This results in them very quickly getting blocked from asking questions due to the fact that the questions are often poorly worded. The system of down voting is highly subjective and subject to abuse (originally said: often misused), thus contributing to the problem. Even worse, people with language barriers are likely to have this problem. Overall, the quick blocking of questions without warning seems extreme.

Possible solution options (i.e. choose none, 1 or more):

In order to conform with the automated nature of the routines there are a few alternatives:

  1. Provide warnings on the account, (good.) Use the three strikes principle or something similar before the final block. Automated

  2. Involve a human, (not so good.) Have a moderator review the down voting pattern before approving the block.

  3. Kick the question back to the user (very good.) Hide the question until the users has addressed the deficiency. If user's rating continues to drop due to this pseudo deletion, then block them. Hiding would be based on down votes. Automated

  4. Move the questions to a junk forum, (worse.) Similar to the meta site, set up a rejected questions site. It would be costly but informative.

5. The problem lies with different features of the site, make changes in those areas, not with the system of blocking.

6.Require a net +1 for questions in high-volume tags to become answerable

I would not up vote for number five on this post, it move the issues somewhere else. In terms of my own user experience that is where I see the problem. This is mainly about SO, not meta.SO...

i. Exclude down votes of certain types. "Disagreeing with a change" for example is quite different from "the technical content is horrible".

ii. How can my post be a duplicate, I didn't find it anywhere?

iii. How can my post be a duplicate, the titles are only vaguely related?

iv. Being brief got down voted. Adding detail got complaints as well.

v. There are not links in the post to similar posts or references.

Item (i) is important to some, but a change that is unpopular and involves changes how votes work, also unpopular.

Item (iv) is sadly unavoidable and almost off topic except it can block new users.

Where down votes, duplicates and closing are concerned, it appears the correct approach is to request reopening and get more feed back by various means. Down votes can be mysterious but a person could ask in the comments for example. I.E. use the system as it exists.

Personally, items ii, iii, and iv as well the need for other change requests I have made really trace back to a problem in the search engine. Once I figured out the issue I released the duplicates would not have happened. This post would not have happened. I do think item 1 is good and item 4 already exists more or less. Regardless, the importance of my list of changes dropped, particularly in this post.

There are some issues on the site where post hi-jacking is concerned what I consider contradictions in the relationship between post subjects vs the requirement to be specific and detailed that is also at the core of items ii and iii.

I will post links to other (probably existing) threads as soon my content is in there. This is a real problem, but I think there are perhaps better more acceptable solutions to it. Thanks.

  • 3
    1 already exists. 3 is what closing (putting on hold) is all about.
    – Oded
    Jul 20 '13 at 8:43
  • 1
  • 8
    Your argument contains a non sequitur followed closely by a contradiction. The difficulty of gaining reputation is a consequence of asking poor questions, not its cause. And if downvoting is subjective, how can you judge it as being misused?
    – jscs
    Jul 20 '13 at 9:02
  • @JoshCaswell That is humorous in being mainly correct. To clarify, new users will ask poor questions for may reasons. Inexperienced users often can't avoid asking bad questions, they often can't research the issues. I know quite a bit (relatively) but seldom answer questions because an expert answer is what is called for. If I did, I would probably get down voted. The link is between gaining experience and user knowledge. Thanks though.
    – DHorse
    Jul 20 '13 at 9:20
  • @JoshCaswell To the funny part, down voting is subjective and the reasons are hidden. You are right. I should have said "subject to abuse." Given that it often means nothing more than "I disagree." Knowing that now, I think that it is "occasionally" abused but that is speculation. The real issue (to me) evolves around inexperienced coders getting blocked too quickly and even more importantly, good feedback and user experience. It's a good change.
    – DHorse
    Jul 20 '13 at 9:28
  • 4
    Neither inexperience on SO nor in programming have anything to do with inability to try to solve a problem on one's own, and certainly have nothing to do with the ability to formulate a coherent explanation.
    – jscs
    Jul 20 '13 at 9:31
  • 3
    Yes, if you think your question is being misinterpreted or you've realized that you meant to say something a different way, by all means edit it. Also consider taking more time between composition and posting, here and on SO, to re-read and consider your presentation.
    – jscs
    Jul 20 '13 at 9:32
  • @JoshCaswell I agree. I did a huge educational project where one of the rules was that I was not allowed to solve my problems using the Internet.
    – DHorse
    Jul 20 '13 at 9:34
  • Thank you for the feed back. I do review and revise my posts but find I sometimes don't "see" my original opinion vs my final opinion as happened here. At first I thought down voting was being abused frequently, after researching the issue and numerous reasons for voting I changed my opinion drastically.
    – DHorse
    Jul 20 '13 at 9:38
  • That looks like a reasonably solid question to me, @DHorse. I don't know anything about Javascript, but it's well written and completely clear what you don't understand. In particular, I think it has a good title given the difficulty with describing that kind of question.
    – jscs
    Jul 20 '13 at 9:48
  • @DHorse - I didn't say there were messages, but the automatic system takes more than 1 question/answer into account before a ban.
    – Oded
    Jul 20 '13 at 11:31
  • 1
    @dhorse um... Votes are different on meta. They mostly represent agreement/disagreement, not question quality. You did ask well,we just don't think anything should be changed. Jul 20 '13 at 12:44
  • @JanDvorak I think I understand, in balance, SO feels there is a greater benefit in keeping things as is. Given there are work arounds when blocked, perhaps this puts responsibility or ownership on the user regardless of their experience. It boils down to the business case and site philosophy that I addressed only briefly and involve numerous costs vs benefits.
    – DHorse
    Jul 20 '13 at 13:39
  • @JanDvorak re:"Votes are different on meta" To clarify, I am really trying to address an inexperienced user problem on the SO site. I also consider the down votes on all my posts on this site so far to be disagreement and still have not been blocked here. Given my own experience level, my being blocked on SO may have been warranted. For example, not dealing with HOLDS and DUPLICATES quickly enough, but they don't require a special message like a blocking warning. In looking at down votes on this site, I am doing further research on alternative solutions Thanks.
    – DHorse
    Jul 21 '13 at 10:30

I strongly disagree with the whole idea of blocking new and inexperienced users from asking questions. I myself am a new user. A new user learns from his experience and also by asking questions at the meta site. There can be comments guiding him to edit his question by giving the reason for the question being put on hold. While new users are more prone to questions with more down votes, that cannot call for a change in the guidelines and standards of SE Q&A sites. There shouldn't be any limitation in asking or answering questions other than those standards. Regarding points 1 to 6,none of them are practical,as of now, but things may change in the future. Each and every 'new user', but only a new user will face the issues in i to v.

SE Chat room is the best place for new users and not SE Q&A sites.


The issue is not that a new user has NO reputation. The issue is that blocked user has a (strongly) NEGATIVE reputation.

Many "new" users ask or answer one or two questions, and go for a long time with "no" reputation. (That is, a handful of votes, up or down, with a total score near zero.) These people don't get blocked.

The people that get blocked are the ones that have a lot of DOWN votes (and/or deleted posts). That's more likely to happen to a new user, but even an experienced user with a positive reputation who went on a "rampage" and got a lot of downvoted or deleted posts could be blocked, if the previous good record couldn't sufficiently insulate him/her from the recent decline.

  • Question bans are not based on recent content; they're based on the entire accounts history. Most experienced users get to the point where getting question banned would be almost impossible. If a user went on a "rampage" providing a lot of really poor contributions then odds are they were manually banned by a mod, not auto banned. Either that, or their contributions really weren't all that good.
    – Servy
    Mar 25 '14 at 15:39
  • @Servy: I talked about the unusual case where "the previous good record couldn't insulate him/her from the recent decline." This suggests the "entire accounts history." I have a further understanding that if you have a bunch of bad questions/answers in the past 30 days, only good questions/answers in the past 30 days would fully offset them, that good contributions, say, a year ago, would carry only partial weight. Maybe the misunderstanding is mine.
    – Tom Au
    Mar 25 '14 at 15:44
  • Time is not a factor here. Older contributions are not given less weight.
    – Servy
    Mar 25 '14 at 15:50
  • Servy: Fair enough. My misunderstanding. I took out the reference to the time factor in my answer.
    – Tom Au
    Mar 25 '14 at 15:53

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