I agree with the answers to:

Limit downvotes visibility to -3

that suggest not limiting the number of downvotes a question or answer can get.

However, I would suggest a different behavior for users who are new to the site. I see often enough, and twice today just casually following new questions, a new user post a question that does not pass muster for any number of reasons, only to receive a large number of downvotes. In one of those instances, the user contacted me as one of the closers, frustrated, not understanding what happened to his question or how to fix it.

This can be demoralizing, especially if the comments are sarcastic rather than helpful.

I would suggest instead that a question from a "new" user that attracts a threshold of downvotes be automatically placed on hold, and a comment be automatically appended to the question welcoming the user to the site and providing a link to read up on how to ask a good question for StackOverflow. Let them know (as experienced users do) that they can remove the negative reputation by deleting the question, and that they can ask a new, better formulated version of the question.

A "new" user might be one below a certain reputation threshold, or each user might be allowed one instance of special handling ever.

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    possible duplicate of Could we please be a bit nicer to new users? – gnat Mar 12 '14 at 21:18
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    That other question is suggesting more civil behavior. I'm suggesting a change to the system. – Eric J. Mar 12 '14 at 21:20
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    So did the earlier post – user246806 Mar 12 '14 at 21:21
  • @gnat: That's not a feature request. It doesn't even mention "automatic hold placement." – Robert Harvey Mar 12 '14 at 21:23
  • @RobertHarvey whatever, being nicer is the best we can offer 'em don't we – gnat Mar 12 '14 at 21:26
  1. The sub-text of the close reasons already links to the help center with advice on how to address the given problem at hand. This effectively already serves the purpose of your proposal of an automatic comment.

  2. Sometimes questions deserve downvotes, but don't meet any criteria for closure. Automatically closing questions just because of downvotes isn't right.

  3. They shouldn't be encouraged to delete their questions. That will get them question banned really quickly.

  4. They should not be re-asking the same question over and over again (this is tied to the previous point). They should be editing their question into appropriate shape so that it can be reopened instead. This, like the previous point, is just going to result in their question be closed and downvoted again, and them hitting the question ban really quick.

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    5. Downvotes are part of the automatic ban mechanism. Monkey with downvotes, and you break that system. – Robert Harvey Mar 12 '14 at 21:25
  • Point #2 is also a duplicate. Looking for it now. If anyone else finds the relevant topic, please help me out. – Servy Mar 12 '14 at 21:25
  • If their question is so poorly worded that it has been closed, but they still have that question, how will they ever get it answered without asking a new, improved version? It is rather unlikely that a question with a score of -8 will ever get re-opened after editing. Deleting one bad question should not affect a user. If they make a habit of asking bad questions then deleting the questions, they have not learned from the friendly advice. – Eric J. Mar 12 '14 at 21:25
  • @RobertHarvey I don't see anything in this particular proposal that results in not downvoting the post (beyond just the suggestion to delete it). My interpretation of the question is that he wasn't proposing the change brought up in the question he linked to form the start, merely proposing an alternate means to achieve the same objective. – Servy Mar 12 '14 at 21:26
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    Deletions don't really figure prominently into questions bans, AFAIK. Users really shouldn't be penalized (much) for cleaning up after themselves. There is a pattern of behavior where some users ask a question, get the answer they want, and then delete the question, and we probably ought to discourage that. – Robert Harvey Mar 12 '14 at 21:27
  • I'm proposing a mechanism specifically to handle new users in a more inclusive manner. The question I link to suggests a limit for all users, which I am against. I agree with the answers in the linked question. – Eric J. Mar 12 '14 at 21:28
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    @EricJ. "It is rather unlikely that a question with a score of -8 will ever get re-opened after editing." Perhaps before the reopen queue was added, but that was added quite some time ago. People that actually take the time to edit their questions into shape can very easily get them reopened. The whole point of closing questions is to provide an opportunity for the post to be fixed. You're treating closures as permanent. They simply aren't. – Servy Mar 12 '14 at 21:28
  • Yeah, I guess you're right about the downvotes. I just assumed that was sort of implied in the question. – Robert Harvey Mar 12 '14 at 21:30

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