I used to be banned on Stack Overflow. Since then, I had tried to edit question so that the ban can be lifted, but when I learned that only editing wouldn't help, I abandoned my hope and as sure as eggs is eggs that I will be banned for the rest of my life.

However, as Alexander Pope said: "hope springs eternal", today I click on the Ask Question button on Stack Overflow and extremely surprise that I can ask. I don't think that this is a mistake (if it is, please don't ban me again) but a reasonable reason.

Is it because recently I have some well received contributions on other sites? It seems that the answer is no. Then why do I get unbanned?

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    You might have gotten an upvote or undownvote. – bjb568 Oct 21 '14 at 4:09
  • @cVplZ I don't think the ban lifts with time. – bjb568 Oct 21 '14 at 5:25
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    Well, you got association bonus which is a big boost... most likely that's what saved you. (and that's not a dupe, reopened) – Shadow The Vaccinated Wizard Oct 21 '14 at 7:47
  • @bjb568: my bad questions on SO are deleted. Other good ones don't have any upvote. – Ooker Oct 21 '14 at 9:25
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    @ShadowWizard: is it? When I had association bonus, I did check if I get unbanned, but it was not. – Ooker Oct 21 '14 at 9:27
  • @Ooker weird. Maybe a moderator disassociated your deleted questions from your account then, but only a mod/dev can tell for sure. – Shadow The Vaccinated Wizard Oct 21 '14 at 9:44
  • @ShadowWizard Mods can't disassociate questions, only devs can do that. – Taryn Oct 21 '14 at 10:34
  • @bluefeet oh, good to know! But can you see if something like this was done in this user's case? – Shadow The Vaccinated Wizard Oct 21 '14 at 10:38
  • @ShadowWizard I don't see anything out of the ordinary. – Taryn Oct 21 '14 at 10:42
  • OK then @bluefeet, time to call the cavalry! – Shadow The Vaccinated Wizard Oct 21 '14 at 10:47
  • @bjb568 well, now it's also time dependant - see Tim's answer. – Shadow The Vaccinated Wizard Oct 21 '14 at 11:52
  • Trying really hard not to get you autoblocked again. This is not programming related. This is barely, but arguably not because it's about how to run a command line application, and doesn't have anything to do with "shell programming" (ugh). If you don't want to get autoblocked again, please only post programming related questions. You'll know these (typically) because you can apply a language tag to your question. – user1228 Oct 21 '14 at 13:53
  • @Won't: This question asks about command line application in SO, which is similar to my question. – Ooker Oct 21 '14 at 14:11
  • VTC and flagged "Off topic question already used as an example for off topic questions being okay. I don't think piping the output from one command application to another qualifies as shell scripting." – user1228 Oct 21 '14 at 14:46

We changed the question block system to a rolling rate limit that slows folks with a recent history of ill-received questions down considerably. There is still an outright block, but it takes a bit more in order to hit it, and it lasts (at the most) a year (or the amount of time it takes for your lowest-scored questions to fall out of the scope of a query).

Since it had been quite a while since your last question, and you still fall in the 'eligible to be rate-limited but not yet outright blocked' category, you were permitted to ask a question. But, be careful - if your next few questions don't fare well, the rolling limits will kick in heavily, but probably only once before you hit the longer-term block. Quite a few folks that were previously blocked now have one, or at most two more chances to try again and get it right after this change.

I can't go into too much more detail, but part of my goal was to give folks that probably could ask good questions if given another chance or two the opportunity, while folks that are never going to ask good questions still find themselves without the ability to do so for quite some time, after repeated attempts to show them where they're going wrong haven't worked. The beauty of rate limits in that regard is the pain of the bad questions is spread over weeks, which goes a long way toward keeping new questions that get visibility mostly interesting, while ensuring no one can say we didn't give them a fair chance.

Once we've got all of it firmly bolted down, no one can claim to be 'banned' from any of our sites, at least not in this respect. They might have dug themselves into an eleven-month time out, but they can't say they weren't warned. Meanwhile, we have been helping folks that just got off to a bad start without the benefit of the rate limits who are still in a long-term block get back into better standing for another (limited) chance.

  • Wow, didn't know it's applied on older bans. Kudos! :) – Shadow The Vaccinated Wizard Oct 21 '14 at 11:50
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    @ShadowWizard There are quite a few that suddenly found they could ask questions again, and went on to ask pretty decent questions. I can't give the exact criteria, but many now have one or two more chances to get it right after this change - it depends on their history. – Tim Post Oct 21 '14 at 11:52
  • That's great to hear. Any chance to send a message to those who still didn't try by themselves but can ask questions again? – Shadow The Vaccinated Wizard Oct 21 '14 at 11:53
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    @ShadowWizard Not really, well, not practically. It's calculated on the fly. However, I can say, quite a few have figured it out. – Tim Post Oct 21 '14 at 11:56
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    So happy that I could cry – Ooker Oct 21 '14 at 12:01
  • also, I think this feature should be announced to who get banned – Ooker Oct 21 '14 at 12:01
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    @Ooker a lot of people have figured it out, and there's a bit of buzz about it on meta sites. There will be a series of blog posts about what we've done in the quality initiative (which this change was part of). We simply can't contact every blocked user, because the block is calculated on the fly, but it will continue to get even more publicity. – Tim Post Oct 21 '14 at 12:11
  • Tim, is it true that some users need to travel back in time to get out of question block? – gnat Oct 21 '14 at 14:39
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    @gnat All he has to do is save the clock tower. I don't think that's too much to ask. – Tim Post Oct 21 '14 at 14:56

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