The simple equation that decides whether you get question banned or not is:

(total questions - negative score questions - closed questions)/total questions >= 0.5

And closed questions probably includes deleted questions too. For example, a new user asks a question, and the question gets:

  • Downvoted, stays at negative score

  • Deleted before 30 days from posting time

  • Closed

The equation above would not work as:

(total questions - negative score questions - closed questions) < 0.5

Which means question ban. But that is way too early to get banned. It seems that the user has to reach a certain number of questions or rep or time for the above equation to be implied towards the user. I have a small grip on the subject myself. So when does the question ban equation get applied?

  • 4
    Where did you get that equation from? The question ban algorithm is a secret that is more closely guarded than the government's classified documents.
    – Mysticial
    Mar 25, 2015 at 22:27
  • 1
    I found that on some post in Meta.SE. Is it that important and secretive? These users can't keep seem to keep that secret I guess. Mar 25, 2015 at 22:27
  • 9
    Where exactly did you get these equations and figures? As far as I know the actual ones are not public knowledge - what you have there looks like a guess by someone.
    – Oded
    Mar 25, 2015 at 22:28
  • I can't seem to remember about the user, but I do remember that the user who wrote this question had a lot of rep. Probably a trusted user Mar 25, 2015 at 22:29
  • 14
    That looks like the formula for the Socratic badge family for maintaining a positive question record. Nothing to do with question blocks.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Mar 25, 2015 at 22:30
  • 12
    It's not that that formula is secret. It's that it's wrong. :)
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Mar 25, 2015 at 22:30
  • 1
    So should I delete this question? Mar 25, 2015 at 22:31
  • I would like to know the approximate number at which you get banned. But I know the formula is secret, and what you have posted is for the badge, as said above. That's why I up voted @oded .
    – Tim
    Mar 25, 2015 at 22:32
  • 1
    I think you can take the upvote as someone thinking that's the actual formula. Which it isn't. The premise of this question is completely wrong. As such, it doesn't make sense.
    – Oded
    Mar 25, 2015 at 22:32
  • I don't know what happens faster, the comments or the views Mar 25, 2015 at 22:33
  • 3
    @Tim We're not going to post numbers or reveal the specifics of the formula, sorry. There are a lot of variables that go into this, so there's no "approximate number" we could come up anyway.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Mar 25, 2015 at 22:41

1 Answer 1


The question ban is applied when a user who qualifies for it tries to ask a question. Until that point, they're like that cat in a box, both banned and unbanned.

For this to make sense, you must understand that your formula is... extremely inaccurate. As usual, I'm not going to publish the actual formula, but I'll make a few notes as to the nature of these bans:

  • There are multiple, cooperating algorithms at work. Some of them result in permanent bans, others just apply stricter rate-limits to askers.
  • Not all questions are taken into account. Everyone makes mistakes; banning you for one would be unfair... Unless making mistakes is all you do here.
  • Well-received questions count for a lot. Really, any participation that demonstrates you're not a complete drain on the system helps in avoiding the ban.
  • Zero-scored posts don't help at all. This isn't some MMO where you can grind your way to victory by mindless clicking; someone has to find your work useful.
  • The faster you're posting questions, the faster you'll get banned if those questions aren't well-received. Given it takes some amount of time for even well-written questions to attract attention, if you're hitting the rate-limits for questions per day/month and aren't also dripping with upvotes you should probably be somewhat concerned.
  • wonder if system somehow keeps the record of attempts to ask that trigger block (as far as I know, something like this happens to spam attempts)
    – gnat
    Apr 3, 2015 at 9:45
  • 2
    Yes, it does @gnat.
    – Shog9
    Apr 14, 2015 at 7:30
  • 1
    Is there a grace period for new users / how strict we are with those who might not know how the community works?. Follow-up; Once you know the cat is dead, can you determine when it might come back to life? I've seen a question from someone who's answer-banned and wants to know if they've even got a chance of answering before actually spending time on writing an answer, which seems like a reasonable request. Say the threshold "ban score" to post is x and the user is on x-100, can you say for certain that no answer would be good enough?
    – Basic
    Mar 6, 2016 at 4:02
  • 4
    Answer-bans are extremely weak, @Basic - they're meant to stop folks who are completely unable / unwilling to do ANYTHING constructive on a site. A nominal amount of positive participation is all it takes to get out of them. And yes, all bans have a grace period of some sort, and warnings.
    – Shog9
    Mar 7, 2016 at 22:39
  • 1
    Part serious, part joke: is there an emergency procedure in place if a disgruntled former employee publicly leaks the exact ban algorithm? Feb 15, 2019 at 6:52
  • 1
    It does, @Asadefa. Unless you're using the mobile app. Or the score of your posts change while you're writing the question.
    – Shog9
    Feb 15, 2019 at 19:01
  • 1
    The UI for "ask a question" and "answer" is rather different, @Asadefa.
    – Shog9
    Feb 17, 2019 at 20:11

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