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I asked a couple of really bad (horrible!) questions here and got hit with a question ban. No surprise there – I was a new user, and now know where I went wrong. The problem is that I can't get question privileges back. The bad questions were bad enough that I don't think I could've edited them to be better – it wasn't formatting or style – the questions themselves were just bad questions, so I deleted them.

The Help Center article said that my question privileges would automatically be reinstated once my "positive contributions" outweighed my negative ones. I realize that it's done automatically, but as an extremely new coder, I really can't do much in the way of positive contributions except upvotes (if that can even be considered a contribution). What should I do to lift the ban?

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    You could try making suggested edits for awhile, to increase your reputation score. But, as the algorithm for question bans is kept secret to prevent gaming, there's no guarantee that this will lift the ban. – Robert Harvey Mar 3 '14 at 21:19
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    @Robert, I... seriously, I must be missing something, you cannot be encouraging question-banned users to suggest edits (hint: at least some of them will mass-produce these) in order to alleviate the ban. So I'll just pretend I wasn't there. Ho ho merry ho. – Frédéric Hamidi Mar 3 '14 at 22:01
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    @FrédéricHamidi: The problems that occur in the review queues and discussed here on a regular basis are entirely reviewer problems, not suggested editor problems. – Robert Harvey Mar 3 '14 at 22:02
  • @Robert, apart from the mass production, which is indeed more of a review matter but IMHO cannot be ignored from a question-banned user standpoint (aren't they even posting on meta sometimes?), my point was more along the lines of "this user has to prove themself in order to post questions again, is allowing them to suggest edits on other posts really a good idea?" (Unless it's a trap, of course.) – Frédéric Hamidi Mar 3 '14 at 22:08
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    @RobertHarvey So let's assume, for a moment, that every single suggested edit is reviewed properly. It's still the case that these types of users are likely to propose edits that will be rejected. They'll end up edit banned, still post banned, and even more discouraged. If, on the other hand, the review system is broken and their edits get approved, then they have a bunch of bad edits applies to posts, and possibly even get unbanned and start posting more bad posts. It's a lose-lose. The bottom line here is that editing is hard. Q-banned users likely aren't going to succeed at it. – Servy Mar 3 '14 at 22:09
  • @FrédéricHamidi: I don't know what you mean by "mass-produced." It's a self-correcting problem anyway; most folks who get question-banned won't make the effort to correct the problem, and the ones that do need to learn how to suggest edits correctly anyway. As I've already stated, most of the gaming occurs among reviewers, not suggested editors. Discouraging suggested editors because reviewers aren't reviewing correctly is looking at the wrong problem. – Robert Harvey Mar 3 '14 at 22:11
  • @Robert, I suppose you mean the worst posters, even those who start posting elsewhere once they're question-banned, are light years away from abusing suggesting edits to work around the ban. You probably know what you're talking about (I'm no mod, so I'm probably seeing 5% of the SO fauna you see), and it might indeed count as kind of "community service". I have to think more about that redemption angle. Servy has a point, though, noise may well end up in more noise. – Frédéric Hamidi Mar 3 '14 at 22:17
  • FWIW, going through and posing well done suggested edits exposes people who were previously asking bad questions (hopefully) to better questions and ways to improve the format and presentation of their own questions in the future. – user213963 Mar 3 '14 at 22:34
  • @MichaelT People capable of posting well done suggested edits tend to not end up question banned in the first place though. If they're capable of writing well formed, clear questions, and of following the standards of this community, then their original questions likely wouldn't have gotten them banned. – Servy Mar 3 '14 at 22:55
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    @Servy coming from elssite, where there is a fair bit of "yes, thats a question, but its not applicable at all for here" asking three questions about "what career should I go with" or "what is the best language" and the like - they can get question banned in quite short order. The key to the bit of "writing well done suggested edits" is that it means they have to learn how to do it, which also gets them thinking about good questions and not, which helps them stay out of a question ban once they find their way out. – user213963 Mar 3 '14 at 23:03
  • @MichaelT People who make an effort to learn when they do something wrong tend to not get q-banned. If they learned from their early mistakes and improved on their questions they can generally avoid being banned. The vast majority of banned users are people who kept doing the same thing even when it was clearly not considered acceptable by the community. – Servy Mar 3 '14 at 23:18
  • @Servy again, coming from elswhere on the network than SO, it is not uncommon for someone to ask three off topic questions in short order (a few minutes apart) which get closed. I've also seen it with 3 too broad XY problems. Through anecdotal evidence, having the first three questions get closed is enough to trigger the question ban. These people need to look more at what is acceptable and not on the site. Sometimes we can't provide feedback fast enough for this to be resolved before a question ban kicks in (or they don't realize the deeper nature of the problem they have). – user213963 Mar 3 '14 at 23:23
  • @MichaelT I'm not saying that every single q-banned user will be incapable of suggesting edits, merely that it's unusual for suggesting edits to be an easy effective solution for them. In most situations, suggesting that people suggest edits isn't going to be very helpful. – Servy Mar 3 '14 at 23:36
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Keep learning, and answer questions that you know how to answer. Good answers get upvotes, which indicate that you have made positive contributions. This may help you get to a point where you will be allowed to ask questions again.

It may take a while, because you are a new programmer. I'd suggest adding a few tags to your "favorites," about which you know a lot -- then, the homepage will automatically show the tags most relevant to your areas of knowledge. Offer good (correct) answers to some of those questions and you'll be on your way.

Suggesting edits also helps - try to clean up posts with lots of typos, bad formatting, and bad grammar. Don't try to fix errors in code; most of the time, that's not a proper edit. Just make good, simple, clean edits, and that will help you. Note: I don't mean minor (little) edits. I mean "simple," as in don't change the meaning of the post or the logic of any code. Cleaning up formatting (especially code indentation), for example, is often helpful. So is fixing places where people used "i," "ppl," and "pls," instead of "I," "people," and "please." Don't just add lots of backticks or other unnecessary formatting, like turning "here's my function code" into "here's my function code." Go for substance.

As Robert Harvey pointed out, the exact algorithm for lifting the ban is secret. The gist, however, is to make contributions that help the community. In other words: try to make yourself helpful to others. That's never a bad thing.

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    About edits, too small edits usually get rejected. Fixing formatting and indentation of code and output snippets (be sure to only change white space and not alter content, and try to preserve indentation style if there's any to preserve) is a solid way to get approved edits. Best tags for this are languages where indentation is "easy", like C-like languages. – hyde Mar 3 '14 at 21:38
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    You can also try finding old unanswered questions and writing something for those. Doing the research to answer a question is an excellent learning exercise. For example, I learned a lot about ODBC answer this question (one of my first on the site). – JDB Mar 3 '14 at 21:40
  • These are both good points; I have clarified my answer a bit above. – elixenide Mar 3 '14 at 21:46

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