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About a month ago, I was about to ask a question on Stack Overflow and saw this message:

You have reached your question limit

Sorry, we are no longer accepting questions from this account. See the Help Center to learn more.

I read the following questions too:

I have been trying very hard for the past week to increase my reputation by editing posts. Would this be enough to lift the question ban?

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It seems like what you're really trying to ask is whether gaining reputation can shorten a question ban. If so, my answer to a similar question on Meta Stack Overflow may be relevant here.


TL;DR: Personal experience says no, gaining reputation does not directly affect a question ban.

On the help page for question bans, it says the following:

How can I get out of a question ban?

The ban will be lifted automatically by the system when it determines that your positive contributions outweigh those questions which were poorly received.

My account's reputation over time

With that being said, personal experience has led me to believe that earning reputation has little to no effect on a question ban.


My Stack Overflow account was question banned on February 17th, 2017. Admittedly at the time, the ban was deserved. I was a novice on SO, and had submitted some admittedly low quality questions. I had submitted 8 questions, 7 of which had a score of 0 or lower. My account had a reputation of around 30. (For reference, my question history as of April 17, 2017).

Since then, over a period of 3 months my rep increased from 30 to 414, putting me in the top 7% of contributors for the year. However, the question ban for SO still remained in place. This leads me to believe positive contributions are measured in some other way.

"You have reached your question limit"


Note that since the original linked answer was posted, I have regained question privileges on Stack Overflow. Thankfully, question bans are not permanent. As per the question ban help page

Does the ban last forever?

If you're unable to improve your existing questions, you'll get the chance to ask a new one 6 months after your last question. If that question is positively received, you may be able to continue asking questions; if not, then the ban will be reinstated.

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  • 400 isn't that much. Interestingly we had a 1K+ user on SU who wasn't qbanned despite terrible question, so there's certainly some element to do with overall reputation May 14, 2017 at 8:04
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In my time as a mod, I've only really seen a handful of people who've gotten out of a question ban.

The first step is really to understand what's wrong with your questions. Like really, even if you get to ask one question in 6 months, it's not going to help much if it's closed, too.

Editing posts is a terrible way to get reputation. It's a lot of work for not much benefit, and you need to really understand how things work to make good consequential edits.

Good answers on the other hand, well thought out, and detailed in something you know well, are a better way to get reputation (with a single upvote worth 5 edits). It'll also let you see what sort of questions are welcome on the site.

Kind of ironically, the best way to get out of a question ban, in the bigger scheme of things, is to stop seeing the site as just a place to ask questions. It's also to learn and sharpen your knowledge by answering them.

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    +1000 for the last paragraph alone.
    – Jason C
    May 11, 2017 at 12:53
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I had a similar experience as described in the answer posted prior to mine, on another site, where quite recently the ban has been lifted. Read on for a summary of my trial and error attempts from before.

  • suggested edits didn't seem to help, at least not any influence as "I" could notice

  • by trying to improve some of my questions (via edits), they got bumped as an active question (of course). That only resulted in either:

    • those edited questions got a few more downvotes.
    • some helpful user posted a comment like "stop editing those bad questions". It made me think like "hm, that user may have a good point. What would happen if I do not do any actions anymore (no edits of any kind)?".
  • So I stayed quiet, for multiple months (yes), and now and then I tried to ask a new question. Each time the same: still banned.

  • However, in the end my stubbornness (or patience?) seemed to have won. After about (I think) 6 months I was allowed to post a new question! At that time I had learned, from experience, what kind of questions are well perceived (= upvoted) and which ones were not (= downvoted). So I thought like 10 times before posting a question that I was pretty sure would not be perceived as bad.

The above is a true story, it happened to me on meta.SE, where miracles seem to happen so now and then.

Bonus tip:

Instead of "I have been trying very hard for the past week to increase my reputation by editing posts", I suggest you do an experiment to see what happens with your question on SO that has most downvotes. I.e by any (or all) of these changes:

1. Remove the very last phrase from it, which is like so:

Also, I want to receive an email noification when any value in the status column changes from Pending to Today.

Here is how I perceive that last phrase:

  • IMO it has nothing to do with anything that precedes it, and is not at all reflected in (a) the title of your question or (b) the tags of your question.
  • Imagine somebody would want to answer the question, which part of your question should they answer to possibly be marked as accepted? Anything before that last phrase? Only that last phrase? Everything? And what if you got 1 answer for everything except the last phrase, and another one to only answer the last phrase, which one of them would you mark as accepted (you can only pick one of them ...)?
  • It has a typo (i.e. noification, repeated here intentionally ...).
  • It should have been posted as a (separate) followup question, if you'd want with a link to your prior question.

2. Improve your title

Try to also improve the title of your question. IMO question titles are the most important part of your question. It's about the only thing you have to make users want to click on your question. And it is shown:

  • in the various lists of question (newest, active, hot, etc).
  • as the link title whenever any other post (question or answer) creates an automatic link to your question.
  • within the block of "linked" questions (if any).
  • in the hyperlink to your question (search engines ...).
  • in your profile (the questions you asked).
  • in bookmarks (users who bookmarked your question).
  • in SE mailing lists.
  • ... (what else?).

Imagine you'd have 3 seconds to "promote" (introduce?) your question, what would you really want it to say? How about this: "Why does my formula about conditional formatting in a Google sheet not generate any output?"

3. Review your question tags

  • The google-spreadsheet tag is clearly appropriate, possibly the only one though.
  • Your question seems to be about Google Sheets (I think ...). So why use those 2 Excel-tags? If your question has nothing to do with Excel, then remove those 2 tags. Think about users following those 2 tags: they get an eMail about your question, they click on your question, and then they note it's not at all about Ms Excel ... at that point the risk of a downvote is not zero, agree?
  • True, your question has "something" to do with conditional. But reading the tag excerpt of "conditional", IMO that tag does not add any real value to classify your question. I'd remove that tag also.
  • From your question I understand that it has to do something with "conditional formatting". But the tag details of conditional formatting, do NOT (repeat: NOT) include the word Google (btw, not google as in your title, another typo there?). Instead that tag seems to only mention Microsoft Excel. So are you sure that tag applies? If not get rid of it also. If yes, or if you doubt, do some research first. E.g. by using a query like "[conditional-formatting] is:q google". That query returns currently 29 hits, so it seems like it does make sense to (also) try submitting an edit suggestion for the tag wiki (to also mention Google Sheets somehow). If it gets approve, keep using it, if it gets rejected, get rid of that tag in your question. Easy as that.

Notes:

  • Not sure if I'd disclose the "helpful user"; I'd be happy to edit my answer if asked to do so.
  • That 6 month limit on question bans is mentioned on the question ban help page (credits to Steven Vascellaro for the comment about that). Here is a quote from that link:

    If you're unable to improve your existing questions, you'll get the chance to ask a new one 6 months after your last question. If that question is positively received, you may be able to continue asking questions; if not, then the ban will be reinstated.

    That 2nd chance must be the miracle I have noticed recently. Though you can consider it also as an example of "some problems get resolved by just being patient enough ...".

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    Yes, the 6 month limit on question bans is mentioned on the question ban help page
    – Stevoisiak
    May 11, 2017 at 7:40
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    What you did is exactly what is expected. You learned what is an acceptable question is, and then after 6 months, you got the chance to show you actually have.
    – Ramhound
    May 11, 2017 at 14:50
  • @Ramhound merci (oeps: thank you) for the interesting comment. Let me just add this extra thought to it: IMO my stubbornness (be patient, move on, etc) seems what mostly helped me succeed. Because if I'd have have continued "improving my bad" questions (cfr. "Begin by fixing your existing questions ..." on that linked ban help page), I'd probably still be banned. May 11, 2017 at 15:12
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    You still would have been given that once chance to ask a question after 6 months had you continued to improve your questions.
    – Ramhound
    May 11, 2017 at 15:16

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