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For the last six months, I was banned from asking questions until I edited my old ones. It looks like it was just recently lifted but I am confused about how to edit old, existing questions so that I can avoid a ban in the future. Due to still being a fairly new programmer, I have a lot of old questions that I wouldn't ask now. Because of this, I have a lot of old questions that shouldn't exist.

One of my very first questions was about the equality operator in javascript: Why does my program always print the first condition regardless of user input?. It received 0 upvotes. I plan at some point to edit this question for clarity but I also am not sure what the point of this would be. There are already plenty of questions on Stack Overflow about the difference between equality operators (i.e. = vs. == ) so it seems like editing the question, which is what the Help Center tells you to do, is counter-intuitive to spending time on a question that should not have existed in the first place. On top of this, you can't even delete the question since that can get you banned as well.

How am I supposed to navigate this paradox? What is the point of spending time editing old questions when they won't be relevant to anyone?

  • deleting a question has no immediate effect on a ban, it does prevent that question getting any upvotes though which will mean it can never help you get out of a ban or get you any more distance from being banned if you're currently close to a ban. You don't seem to be improving that much since your latest question is at -2, that lack of improvement is something you should worry about. – Robert Longson Apr 29 '18 at 21:21
  • When I try to delete a question it says this "We do not recommend deleting questions with answers because doing so deprives future readers of this knowledge. Repeated deletion of answered questions can result in your account being blocked from asking. Are you sure you wish to delete?" – Darien Springer Apr 29 '18 at 21:40
  • How does that not affect my ban status? – Darien Springer Apr 29 '18 at 21:40
  • And yes, you are right. I do need to work on asking future questions. – Darien Springer Apr 29 '18 at 21:51
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    According to this, whether a deleted question counts more against you or not depends on its age and if someone answered or "moderated" it (whatever "moderated" means). If you're going to delete a question save the link so you can find it later (you might figure out a way to fix it later or want to undelete it for some other reason). – Laurel Apr 30 '18 at 2:31
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The best way to avoid a future ban is to ask clear/concise questions from now on. Consider asking someone to tell you if they get what you mean by the question before posting it, try to pick a title which describes exactly your problem, try to look at all the details you've added to the question; is every detail necessary? Also try searching for the problem before asking.

However if you must edit questions; edit those which might still be relevant and have nice answers. I'd suggest editing them to closer pinpoint the problem and leave all the irrelevant information from the question so that other people seeking for help can easily find your question and clearly understand what you're asking and just jump to the answer. For example you could edit the title to better match your problem;

Let me illustrate on your old question else if function and arrays, first the title could be better phrased for someone looking at the question he'll see that the question has nothing to do with arrays and else if statements it has to do with equality/assignment.

Also the question could've been simply why is if(select='no') always true? where var select= prompt("Ready for an adventure?"); without much more details (not to say my first questions weren't similar).

To sum up, the best way is to avoid having to edit old questions. If you must edit, however, make sure that they are easily searchable and can serve as future reference for anyone passing by.

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Since asking this question, I was able to end the ban on my account by editing old questions so that they were more readable and would be more relevant to users on the site.

I wanted to answer my own question here because I have gained a new perspective on whether editing old questions is "pointless" or not. Clearly it isn't, because editing my old questions resulted in the lifting of the ban.

In my case, some of my questions were salvageable. The bitter truth is that some of my old questions may never receive upvotes because they shouldn't have been asked in the first place. The six month ban allowed me to re-consider how I was asking questions and I believe it has helped me to understand how to be better at crafting questions so that they are clear and relevant to other users.

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    Useful insight. I'm going to link to this in the future. – rene Oct 23 '18 at 4:03
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    Wow. It's rare to see such a humble and honest self assessment in a user who was banned from posting questions by the system, especially one who's a computer engineer on SO (I'm teasing folks!... sort of) – Mari-Lou A Oct 23 '18 at 7:00
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"Kind of"

I've had to walk through users trying to get out of a question ban. Its hard, and the big issue is that to put it bluntly, many of these questions are, well... not that good or too basic.

I'm not a coder - but I do see readability can be improved, and I've made some suggested edits to that effect.

What is the point of spending time editing old questions when they won't be relevant to anyone anyway?

Not entirely true - presumably you know more than you did, well 2 years ago. Sometimes you can polish up your posts, or somehow make it more useful. As a high rep user on a site... some of my old posts don't live up to my own standards and get updated.

In a sense, when you're sitting on a question ban, its worth looking at the big picture

Also, ugh, this may sound terrible and harsh but - its not just about the overall ability to post questions. If you're focused just on that, we'll be firefighting. Its all about the next problem, and the next. There's no growth, or actual improvement.

When asking a question - I ask myself - what can I include that helps someone else answer my question? Is it clear and readable? Does the title let someone with an interest in my question find it?

All these are things that can improve an existing post. I'd note also that people are a little stingier about upvotes in some places.

I suspect, looking at the downvoted question the fact that many of these questions are "problem" -> Codedump contributes to the issue See the comments to your other negative scored questions. Showing you've stepped through the problem in your question works better than "I tried foo, bar and baz" Show your work, don't tell.

Folks get a opportunity to ask a question even under question ban every 30 days or so. make that count

I can't give any specific advice to SO but typically I find that answering questions, and figuring out how good questions work on a site helps broadly.

And to me its pretty important to ask questions that may be useful to others in the future. So "they won't be relevant to anyone" isn't true - at least with a good question.

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