I am being honest. This is how it goes. If you are banned, you use Tor or some other way to ask the similar question, because you need the answer.

If the rules for banning people are too strict, instead of building a community, people start to become one time visitors.

In my opinion this way you will create a lot of temporary users using Tor instead of a community.

Why try to abandon users so quickly? Why remain so strict, if this strategy is community-disruptive in the long run?.

I, and probably others, can see the analogy to the "war on drugs"; now we see that it's ineffective and isolating people from the community.

We can disagree here, but the fact is that after you give a user ban, you are just telling him to use Tor, because he needs the answer no matter what.

Again, this is how it is and I think the users, moderators and people in charge should think about this double-edged sword.

  • 41
    That you interpret a ban to mean "go circumvent it" and "use Tor" is more telling about you than other community members that get banned. – Oded Apr 22 '14 at 17:02
  • 7
    The amount of downvotes if proof that the community thinks you are in the wrong here. Stack Exchange is not a government, by the way - so bringing in arguments of law are plain silly. – Oded Apr 22 '14 at 18:12
  • 3
    Agree with @Derfder here. You cannot expect legitimate users to not behave like spammers and unwanted elements when they are behaving like undesired users by way of their actions and behaviours. If you keep putting up blocks against people who have a hard time behaving and understanding the community, what do you really have left? – random Apr 22 '14 at 18:43
  • 3
    No more comments; it's talking to a wall. – Shog9 Apr 22 '14 at 19:07

While it is true that too strict of standards can and do have a very negative impact on community, what you are talking about is not strict standards, but rather subjective ones. The problem is that having a community like Stack Exchange isn't possible without a degree of subjectivity in the standards. That is why the system is primarily based around the community voting and taking actions on things and moderators, in principal, only stepping in during cases where it is clear and non-subjectively a poor fit to what the community wants.

I think you have gotten yourself worked up on this and have lost track of your original concern, which, as near as I can tell, is that you feel your answer on a question was removed for not being sufficiently sourced while you believe that it was sufficiently sourced. I don't know which community this was on, but some communities are more academic in nature and thus hold to more rigorous requirements for answers. This is likely the case for your situation.

As for your commentary on suspensions, while I do understand that people want their question answered, it doesn't mean that any one website is the correct place for it. If I asked for french toast recipes on StackOverflow, my question is rightfully going to be closed as nobody wants to answer there. Sure I still have a question, but no matter how many times I ask it, it still is going to get the same response.

The point of suspending someone isn't to hurt them or punish them, it is supposed to be to show them that they need to learn how to be a constructive member of the community if they want to get answers. It is also to protect the community that is acting within the guidelines from unproductive disruptions. If 95% of questions on stack overflow were about cooking recipes, then how would you sort through them all to find programing questions that you are interested in answering or learning from?

The goal is always that people will become productive members of the site, but the community also needs to protect itself from disruption. As you say, it is something that needs to be carefully balanced, but I'm not seeing how it is out of balance in the cases you've mentioned.

  • So far, your opinion is the most objective. – Derfder Apr 22 '14 at 18:58

why remain so strict

To keep quality up. It is needed, as multiple forums and Q&A sites that don't have quality controls in place have shown time and time again.

if this strategy is community-disruptive in a long run

Where did you get that idea?

The "strategy" is to create high-quality Q&A sites, repositories of knowledge.

  • The "strategy" is to create high-quality Q&A sites, repositories of knowledge. Upvoting and downvoting is not enough? – Derfder Apr 22 '14 at 17:05
  • 17
    @Derfder - no. When there are users that are disruptive or that have shown that they cannot contribute quality, then they should be banned in order to stop them. – Oded Apr 22 '14 at 17:06
  • I worldviwew is probably different than yours. According to your knowledge the drugusers should be placed in teh jail or in the rehab? – Derfder Apr 22 '14 at 17:08
  • 17
    @Derfder - your analogy is flawed. If someone comes to a window factory and instead of helping to create windows, they keep breaking new windows, you seem to say the factory should keep allowing them in. We say no, they should be locked out (ie. banned). – Oded Apr 22 '14 at 17:10
  • Breaking windows and answering questions not meeting your subjective criteria (it's on moderators and they are human beings not computers) are completely different things. how is offering not so good answers comparable to breaking windows. Sorry, but this analogy is very bad. – Derfder Apr 22 '14 at 17:19
  • 1
    I don't know what that means. – Oded Apr 22 '14 at 17:19
  • 13
    @Derfder: writing bad answers is not breaking windows; that's merely making bad windows. Breaking windows is calling anyone that doesn't agree with you a troll, calling people names, blatantly flouting the rules, refusing to accept the rules, circumventing the rules, etc. and not stopping when asked to. – Martijn Pieters Apr 22 '14 at 17:41

I and probably others can an analogy to a war on drugs but now we see that it's ineffective and putting people out of community.

Probably because you fail to grasp why the "war on drugs" has been so ineffective...

Imagine that, instead of a "war on drugs" we had a "war on people who hurt others". Actually, forget "war" - imagine we just took them out of society before they could continue hurting. Bust your wife's jaw open? You go to jail - doesn't matter if you're on drugs or not.

Doesn't that make more sense than locking up the druggies regardless of behavior? I think so.

And that's what we have here. I don't care if you ask all of your questions while high as a kite - all I care about is whether or not the questions are on-topic, clearly-written, and relevant to at least a few other people.

If you repeatedly ask questions that are impossible to answer or even understand, are off-topic or offensive... Then we're gonna ask you to stop, blocking you if necessary.

Even if you're stone cold sober while writing them.


So, the question is why remain so strict, if this strategy is community- disruptive in a long run.

Because unicorns.

Source: I am a unicorn.

  • 3
    -1 Too much fun. – Oded Apr 22 '14 at 17:53
  • 7
    Flagged for promoting unicorns. – Jamal Apr 22 '14 at 17:54
  • 1
    Have we discovered unicorns as an effective anti-trolling device?? – WendiKidd Apr 22 '14 at 18:41
  • how come that this answer is still here, if you are looking "For the best answers"? Could some moderator remove this answer? It's completely off-topic. nothing to do with how to change moderator ban rules. – Derfder Apr 22 '14 at 19:26
  • Please, remove this answer. This answer is not SE level and it's not what this site was meant to be. You can make jokes on reddit but se is for serious discussion. Thank you. – Derfder Apr 22 '14 at 19:35
  • Unicorns are such hardasses sometimes... – Nick Stauner Apr 22 '14 at 21:26
  • 3
    @WendiKidd What did you think the horn is for? – voretaq7 Apr 22 '14 at 21:36

Let me see if I follow the thought process you're talking about here.

1) User posts low quality or otherwise unwanted questions or answers.

2) If user doesn't respond to feedback asking them not to do this, user is suspended.

3) Users who want answers to their bad questions anyway come back, and repost the bad question we don't want, because they really want their answers.

I think there are a few other steps that follow after these:

4) Moderators either notice that the user has circumvented their suspension, or the community sees the same bad questions they didn't want before and flag them again... Either way the same user's new account ends up getting suspended again.

5) Steps 3 and 4 keep repeating until the user gives up. No one ever answers their question because it wasn't the kind of question we wanted in the first place.

6) Someone else steps up asking bad questions and the whole process starts all over again... The end result is a huge waste of effort for the users who persist in asking bad questions, and a minor annoyance for the people who have to flag/suspend them. In the end, the site maintains the high standards we want.

The only con I'm seeing on our side is possible minor frustration after repeat offenses... So what exactly is your argument for change? How does change benefit the site as a whole? We seem to be handling it pretty well at the moment, as far as I can tell.

  • 15
    Stop it with the logic already. OP needs answers. – Oded Apr 22 '14 at 17:40
  • The problem is that the moderators are often attacking the people who answer the question. E.g. The moderator jamiec attacked me and then apologize. However, then lock and deleted my question. Check this screenshot: imgur.com/AHM401B – Derfder Apr 22 '14 at 17:44
  • 8
    I like how the screenshot is showing exactly the opposite of what you are trying to say. – Oded Apr 22 '14 at 17:46
  • Another problem is the snowball effect. When you get the momentum everybody is down voting the question. but the main problem are very subjective moderators. I think this problem with moderators not being objective has been mentioned several times. – Derfder Apr 22 '14 at 17:49
  • 11
    @Derfder: your selective reading skills are astounding! I have rarely seen someone twist the meaning of an apology so deftly. – Martijn Pieters Apr 22 '14 at 17:49
  • @MartijnPieters are you trying to say that I am subjective and you are not? – Derfder Apr 22 '14 at 17:51
  • 4
    @Derfder Everyone is subjective. That's the nature of life. But moderators aren't the only people in play here; all users can flag posts and comment and post on meta and ask that posts be removed. If you ever disagree with a specific ruling, you can post that on meta. If the entire community as a whole disagrees with you, you just have to accept that that community isn't the right place for your question. Why do you want to post somewhere that no one wants to see the stuff you're posting? – WendiKidd Apr 22 '14 at 17:53
  • "If you ever disagree with a specific ruling, you can post that on meta." that's what I am doing here and instead of hearing the side B too, I hear only the side A. This is the problem of too big governments, too big corporations and too big communities in general. if more people were anonymous the opinions on the objectivity of moderators/politics/people would be a little different. Anyway, I am glad that this topic will stay undeleted, because Stackexchange is an open minded and website. Right? – Derfder Apr 22 '14 at 17:57
  • 14
    @Derfder: The problem is that you are sticking your fingers in your ears and are singing LALALA CAN'T HEAR YOU at the top of your voice. A dialog has to come from both sides, but if you are deaf to what people are trying to tell you then we all just stop talking to you. – Martijn Pieters Apr 22 '14 at 17:59

If the rules of banning people are too strict, instead of building a community, people start to change into one time visitors.

My question is, why try to abandon users so quickly?

There are certain users who want a community where a given type of "low-quality" participation isn't allowed. This site was designed and is mainted precisely and exclusively for those people. If you do not want to adhere to existing community standards, then you are not welcome to participate.

You might perhaps call it "unfair" or "censorship"; We call it "maintaining a high-quality site."

If you would prefer a site that doesn't have such restrictive standards and expectations, such places exist. You can try, for example, Yahoo Answers where you can ask almost any question and get amost any answer. You may object and say that not good enough because the quality of answer you get there is consistently lower than what you can expect here, to which I would reply: "That's exactly the point."

The highly-restrictive rules on participation and willingness to immediately ban anyone who won't uphold them is the primary difference between this site and that one. Everything else is an outgrowth of that.


Let's review some facts:

  • Stack Overflow is the most successful Q&A site in existence today. Trust me, I checked.
  • Stack Exchange is where all the experts hang out, because it's fun for them.
  • It's fun for them, because there's generally high quality content here.

You misunderstand the goal of Stack Exchange. Stack Exchange's goal is to create a collection of high quality information. It is not Help users with their problems. Helping users with their genuine problems, after all research and trial and error, generates that high quality information for the OP and the rest of the world (via search engines) to enjoy.

Damn right we're strict to users. If we wouldn't be, the quality level of content will drop. If it drops, the experts will leave and if the experts leave, what does the rest of the community have left? A lot of users asking not-so-good answers and getting some not-so-good answers leading to a collection of no-so-good information.

Here's the hard cold truth: We prefer high quality over being nice to users. Some people will twist it or rephrase it, but all of the policy and rules that Stack Exchange have are to make sure high quality content gets to shine, and low quality content gets filtered away.

As for your prediction of users opening new account via Tor or whatever proxy service they find. Sure, do it. Unless you change the quality of your questions, you'll get blocked again and again. It isn't personal. Your question does not meed to quality standards.


There is no double-edged sword, where the implication would be it cuts both ways. Removing a defined set of behavior which is counter productive to building quality content may negatively affect the users exhibiting that behavior, but not the content. The goal is to build high quality content, not slander it.

If you are banned you use Tor or some other way to ask the similar question or something else again, because you need the answer.

There is also a very large problem with the argument made in this OP's post. The sense of entitlement and general belief that experienced users must provide answers to questions because they need them. This is a large problem with most users who end up getting post banned.

No one has an obligation to solve other people's problems, most users do it because they enjoy helping, but not because they are forced to. If there is an issue that presents itself, then that should be researched first. Once it is researched and you have become at least aware of the problem scope then attempt to solve the issue. If, at that point, you encounter issues then share the path you took to reach them and I am positive you will get help from the community.

Everyone is here to build content and help others, but no one is obligated to do work for you.

  • Tell me what is illogical on the part you quoted? It's simple if then statement, nothing fancy. It's how stuff in reality works. If the doors are closed then try the window, chimney, etc... you can see it as morally wrong, but the person who will try this method could end up as the creator of a new engine for interstellar travel or something else. Nothing is just bad or just good. that's why I am using the term double-edged sword. I am not saying that you cannot ban people, but I think Stackexchange network is going a little too far and should rethink their strategy. Too strict rules will fail – Derfder Apr 22 '14 at 17:37
  • 4
    @Derfder - You are talking about behavior of breaking in, which is criminal in nature. As crime is usually punished, and the behavior is usually prevented, can you see how acting out that scenario's analogy would have similar drawbacks here on Stack Exchange? – Travis J Apr 22 '14 at 17:38
  • 9
    Of course, @Derfder is ignoring the fact that being strict is what made Stack Overflow a success... – Oded Apr 22 '14 at 17:41

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .