In his video here in Google Tech-Talk, Joel Spolsky is talking about warnings and penalties for bad users. He mention it in the last 10 minutes when asked about bad users behaviors.

Joel says there is warnings sent to users if they behave badly, and then might get one week penalty which means no reputation for the whole week.

Is this implemented? If yes, how could the user know if he/she is behaving bad or good, I mean what are the measures? Sometimes I got down votes for answering, but I'm just answering. I wish that it's mandatory to put a comment when downvoting, so the answerer come back and fix, or at least learn.


2 Answers 2


Don't worry. If you were the sort of person that would earn a penalty, you'd know about it.

Simply using the site for asking and answering questions won't get you penalised, even if your answers are sometimes downvoted. People earn penalties for majorly anti-social behaviour (in the eyes of the moderators).

  • thank you, im not anti-social for sure :), i was just wondering how to avoid being downvoted, since im new here, i thought down voting is being bad!!
    – mohdajami
    Nov 22, 2009 at 12:12
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    A downvote simply means that someone thought your answer was wrong, incomplete, misleading, misspelled, or the wrong shade of pink. Don't take it personally! Nov 22, 2009 at 12:30
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    is there any plans in future to request a comment or say "down-vote reason"? like all those you mentioned. So when a user down-vote an answer he choose Wrong, Incomplete ...etc.
    – mohdajami
    Nov 23, 2009 at 8:04
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    @medopal: Many people think that forcing a user to leave a comment when they downvote is a good idea. Many other people think that forcing a user to leave a comment when they downvote is a bad idea. It's a discussion that's been raging here on Meta for a long time. As far as I'm aware, there are no immediate plans to change the way this works. Nov 23, 2009 at 13:02

Joel's warning is nothing to do with down-votes, but typically for abusive behaviour; most users are very friendly and will never need to know any of this, as they'll never see any of it.

This mainly applies to obnoxious behaviour; blatantly insulting other users, etc. Isolated incidents from an otherwise friendly user will usually just be removed (i.e. your post / comment will be removed or edited) - but if you are repeatedly going out of your way to be unpleasant, you'll probably get an e-mail from an ♦ admin, asking you to desist that behaviour. If you ignore the warning, your account will be suspended for an interval, most likely a week.

After that time, you are welcome back, but repeat abuses will be treated with less patience - either a longer suspension, or deletion etc.

separately to this, individual users (everyone with a nominal amount of rep) have the ability to flag posts as offensive / spam; if you get enough votes the post is automatically deleted and you get hit with a 100 point fine for your trouble (assuming the post isn't already deleted by an ♦ admin by that point - we do monitor the flags etc).

Finally - the reality is that moderation takes time and effort; if you post abuse from a new account (1 day old, 1 rep, no contribution to the site etc) then being realistic you're going to see a lot less red-tape; if your first post to the site is "you suck", then I wouldn't expect that account to survive for long, and I wouldn't bet on getting an e-mail. In particular, spam accounts are deleted on sight.

  • this all makes sense, thank you.
    – mohdajami
    Nov 23, 2009 at 8:00

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