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Also related: Are heavily downvoted answers automatically deleted?

I heard that you can get a ban or suspension for heavily down-voted questions. What defines "heavily down-voted"? Is it different for each site? Or is decided by a mod?

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    Are you asking what "heavily downvoted" means or what the threshold is for a question ban? – JAL Jul 15 '16 at 2:23
  • @JAL Both, I guess. – TwentyCharMax Jul 15 '16 at 5:09
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    The ban algorithms are secret, so you're not going to get a definitive number there... – Laurel Jul 18 '16 at 15:45
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There's no explicit definition for "heavily downvoted," but the reason why might not be what you expect.

There are two different routes to hit a question block or suspension. The first is the automatic question block that the system (i.e., code) is responsible for, and the second is a possible manual intervention on the part of a moderator.

The automatic system's thresholds are not documented - however, in order to trip the automatic rate-limiting question block, you need to show a consistent track record of downvoted questions. Usually, one question doesn't suffice; if you've run into this problem, you've almost certainly posted multiple questions, many of which were not well-received. This system takes into account closed and deleted questions as well - but again, there are no details on how they're weighted or evaluated. No system-level definition for "heavily downvoted" can be provided, because the system is more complicated than that.

A moderator can also suspend your account for low-quality contributions. Different moderator teams will handle this differently, but by and large, this isn't something that immediately warrants a suspension. You're much more likely to receive a moderator message saying, "hey, we've noticed you've had some poorly-received content, here are some things you can read that might help out. Also, git gud." It's typically only after trying to reach out to you that further communication carries a suspension.

This is in the typical case that I've seen. Again, different teams, different practices; don't hold me to this or cite this post as an authority on how these cases should be handled. All cases of consistently low-quality contribution are different. No mod-level definition for "heavily downvoted" can be provided, because every case is different, and usually requires manual evaluation.

Hopefully this helps explain what's up with the system. Both these things happen, there just aren't necessarily strict or clear thresholds for them.

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    The algorithm also takes into account how much of other people's time you wasted with your crap. Which is neat. – Won't Jul 15 '16 at 15:15
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The best way I can describe it is the net value of your contributions to the site. That's measured by:

  • Questions that received a negative score
  • Questions that received no score (no up or down votes)
  • Questions that received a positive (net) score
  • The time that passed between the questions asked
  • The total number of questions that you've asked

Whenever someone goes to ask a question, the system needs to consider how likely that question is going to contribute to making the site actively worse.

If you've got a few recent negatively-scored questions, there's a pretty good chance that you're about to write another question that will receive a negative score - that's why the system slows people down. You'll be asked to wait anywhere from a day to a month before asking again.

If you show up every six months and write a poor question, your net contribution to the site as measured by what you didn't write is actually better than someone that lets out a stinker every week. There's also a chance that you've improved, so the time difference in conjunction with the total number of questions you've asked is pretty meaningful. Now, once it's painfully clear that you're just stinking up the hallways twice each year, the system will just stop accepting questions from you altogether for a year or longer.

Moderators get involved in cases that are either so egregious that waiting for the automatic block seems unbearable, or cases where people manage to do just enough to scrape by yet still detract from the quality of the site every time they interact with it (e.g. bad questions with zero score because they didn't get any visibility, but would have been downvoted had people noticed them).

As long as people treat asking questions like a resource that can be depleted, they should be fine. And if there's evidence that's what they're trying to do, we'll do our best to work with them.

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