Often when I ask a question it gets closed, but I don't understand what makes it too broad or off-topic and people aren't explaining it in comments. I'm getting frustrated; I want to contribute constructively but I've run into this enough that I've hit an automatic block and don't know how to fix it.

I've reached out several times to the people who closed my questions, and they all just re-directed me to the standard Stack Exchange help talking about how to write a good question. And it may be just me but after reading through it several times I think I'm already doing what it recommends.

Despite the times my posts have been flagged I had many posts that did well, got useful feedback, and got at least 40 upvotes. Yet I have been question banned on Stack Overflow because of low-quality questions that "don't help the community". They provided a link to another Stack Exchange page showing what I can do to fix this, but it sounds like it will be a very long time before the ban will be lifted.

It appears obvious to me that this site isn't a bunch of bad people trying to be mean or trolling. I've found some really nice people here on Stack Exchange. But I'm having trouble understanding this ban I'm now under. Now I'm not innocent; I have quickly run through and posted a question about the bash terminal in the Ubuntu community when the question wasn't strictly Ubuntu. But it seems like people are being harsh for no apparent reason.

I don't know, maybe I'm just not good at gathering information from the stack exchange tips, or maybe it is them, I don't know. But since the flaggers didn't help me, I would like to ask here in public before I can no longer ask questions here either. Am I missing something? Are there just that many harsh people on the stack exchange community? Are the Official Stack Exchange tips really unhelpful or am I missing something? I could really use your help.

I'm, not looking for how to reopen a closed question, nor am I asking for anyone to reopen one of my closed questions without me making modifications first.

  • This isn't about reopening questions; it's about recovering from the automatic block. Doing that involves getting questions reopened, but a FAQ about the mechanics of reopening (what do you click, etc) doesn't address this question. – Monica Cellio Mar 29 '19 at 3:17
  • ok, that deems it to be related, not a duplicate. – Ultra Gamer Mar 29 '19 at 3:24
  • I retracted my duplicate vote. (Side note: there are two votes to close as unclear, which should hopefully be dispelled by the recent edits.) – Sonic the Anonymous Hedgehog Mar 29 '19 at 3:38
  • @SonictheWizardWerehog ok, thank you, note taken – Ultra Gamer Mar 29 '19 at 3:40
  • I've marked this as a duplicate of the best information you're going to get about a question ban, including how to go about getting it lifted. If you want to get detailed feedback about specific questions of yours, please feel free to ask on Meta Stack Overflow. The advice there will be much more targeted, since you're getting it from actual programmers, and many of the same people who will be casting the votes. – Cody Gray Mar 29 '19 at 7:00
  • @CodyGray But I'm not looking for how to get unbanned, and I made that clear! I'm looking for how to improve my questions, they are fundamentally different things! – Ultra Gamer Mar 29 '19 at 7:03
  • What would be the point of improving your questions if you are not looking to get unbanned? You can spin this a hundred different ways, but it doesn't seem to change the fundamental nature of the question. Don't take it as a personal attack when a question gets marked as a duplicate. That just means the question has already been answered somewhere else, and the community has already vetted those answers. As I stated previously, if you want to get tailored advice about the content of your questions and how to improve the way you ask Stack Overflow questions, I recommend asking SO users. – Cody Gray Mar 29 '19 at 7:09
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    Note that here on Meta Stack Exchange, we close questions as duplicates of questions tagged faq if the answer to that question is also relevant to this question, even if the questions aren't quite the same. See this section of our FAQ on how Meta Stack Exchange works and the last section of our FAQ on duplicate closures. – Sonic the Anonymous Hedgehog Mar 29 '19 at 18:59
  • Additionally, any specific advice you'd receive as to how to improve questions would be out of scope for this site, as we only deal with issues impacting more than one site in the Stack Exchange network. For such specific advice, you should ask on Meta Stack Overflow. – Sonic the Anonymous Hedgehog Mar 29 '19 at 19:02
  • Simply - it isn't just about asking questions - its about using the site and picking up what works as you go along. By answering questions you're exposing yourself to a wider spectrum of the site and you can pick up what works and what dosen't. There's good reason lots of top users have lots of answers – Journeyman Geek Mar 30 '19 at 10:24

I'm sorry you're having a frustrating time. Our communities try to help, but sometimes we don't know what help you do (or don't!) need.

You are not suspended on Stack Overflow, so I'm guessing you've hit the automatic question block. This is something that kicks in if you have "too many" poorly-received questions. The goal is to put the brakes on, because sometimes people will ask dozens of problem questions if not stopped. But there are things you can do to lift the block.

When your questions were closed, did anybody leave comments asking you to clarify anything, or asking you other questions? Comments aren't invitations to chew the fat and talk things over; they are requests to improve your question. This might mean including more code, saying what version of that library you're using, reporting an exact error message instead of "got an error" … it depends on what was in the question. If you didn't get any helpful comments, then try to look at your question as if you were somebody else who didn't have your context — is there enough information? If not, edit to add it. Improving your downvoted, closed questions can help lift the block.

Because the block is automatic, there's nothing moderators can do to lift it. But because it's automatic, you can lift it by fixing the problems in your existing questions. When you edit your questions will be bumped to the front page again, and if somebody votes to reopen they'll go to a review queue. If any questions are still on hold as opposed to closed, do those first — your edits will automatically send those to the review queue.

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    "there are things you can do to lift the block" as I said, after reading it that would take a decade to do. "When your questions were closed, did anybody leave comments asking you to clarify anything, or asking you other questions?" nothing but the automatic stuff. " If not, edit to add it."and if somebody votes to reopen they'll go to a review queue" people see it, see that it's closed, and move on, VERY few people look at the question again and reevaluate if it needs to be re-opened. " If any questions are still on hold as opposed to closed" ok, I'll go do that one but that's not very many. – Ultra Gamer Mar 29 '19 at 2:07
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    @UltraGamer every bit helps. On the edits, while some people will ignore a closed question that's been bumped, there's a review queue for questions that have been nominated for reopening. People going through that queue have chosen to look at closed questions that might have been fixed after closing, so those people will look at the question rather than just punting. – Monica Cellio Mar 29 '19 at 2:11
  • ok, where can I go to view all my total questions that aren't just from Meta or Overflow? – Ultra Gamer Mar 29 '19 at 2:14
  • @UltraGamer not necessarily a complete list, but you can see all your posts across the network on your network profile activity tab. Beyond that, you'll have to visit your profile on each site. – Monica Cellio Mar 29 '19 at 2:34
  • Ok, thank you for your help. Even when I post my question reasonably well though, it still gets downvoted. At the time of writing this post already has 4 downvotes and possible duplicate and has no chance of being a duplicate. Can you explain why this happens and how (if possible) to deal with it? – Ultra Gamer Mar 29 '19 at 2:59
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    People might be reacting to the tone in your post. How about if I demonstrate what I mean in an edit, and if you don't like it you can roll it back. Easier than explaining in a comment. – Monica Cellio Mar 29 '19 at 3:13
  • ok, I'm fine with that, go ahead, what about it being marked as a duplicate? – Ultra Gamer Mar 29 '19 at 3:15
  • Ok, so I need to be less offensive. Does that mean the question deserves to be voted down? But more importantly, after looking at my past questions on stack overflow, only one was closed that hasn't been deleted so far. Which means the rest of the closes were in other communities, why was I banned SO of all places? – Ultra Gamer Mar 29 '19 at 3:42
  • Your question here has picked up one upvote since my edit and one close vote was retracted. With luck that'll continue to improve. As for SO, it sounds like you might have some deleted questions; you can see them if you have links to them but they won't be on your profile, so you might need help from a moderator on that site. – Monica Cellio Mar 29 '19 at 3:53
  • ug... ok, thank you for your help – Ultra Gamer Mar 29 '19 at 3:55
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    Yes, question-banned on Stack Overflow. 10 questions total; 4 deleted (1, 2, 3, 4, all closed). All but #1 are irredeemably off-topic and unsalvageable via editing. #1 has a chance. But your effort is best spent focusing on the questions you've asked that aren't deleted. @ult – Cody Gray Mar 29 '19 at 7:02
  • @CodyGray Nonone explained how they are off topic. All the questions that haven't been deleted have been answered and most have been upvoted with only 1 closed. Why would it then ban in the first place? – Ultra Gamer Mar 29 '19 at 7:47
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    Because deleted questions still count towards a ban, otherwise you could just escape a ban by deleting questions and continue to ask off-topic questions forever which simply wastes our time forever in closing them. – Robert Longson Mar 29 '19 at 8:04
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    The explanation for how they're off-topic is in the big yellow box displayed underneath each closed question. Yes, as you point out, of your questions that haven't been deleted, most have good scores. This suggests that you are only on the edge of an automatic ban---not very deep. It should be easy for you to dig yourself out with another upvote or two, or even (as discussed in the comments on Journeyman Geek's answer) by a good answer or two. @ultra – Cody Gray Mar 30 '19 at 5:56

It's worth remembering that folks have a certain amount of experience before they can close and there are multiple levels of review before something gets closed. It's worth taking a look for yourself and asking "How can I make this post better?"

The reasons we have/use stock-seeming mod messages and warnings is because this happens a lot on every site. We have people asking programming questions on non-programming sites; we have questions with very little information or are just plain terrible.

Asking a good question is hard. One of the initiatives I am super excited about is a wizard for asking good questions. Traditionally we'd link the catb guide to asking questions the smart way. It's wordy, but great advice on finding answers on the Internet as a whole. It's amazing to search for a problem that you have been bashing your head against for ages, and find the answer on the very same site you wanted to ask it on.

Practically though - do and show your research, learn from the posts that worked for you - and if you want to get great at things, pick a question you can answer and you are not happy with the answer, and answer it. Then make the answer better. Rinse and repeat. SE isn't just a place to ask questions. It's a place to get answers and share knowledge.

  • OK, I can try to "show" my research a little better, the problem is that when I try it ends up not making sense and no one answers. "learn from the posts that worked for you" those were all based on the type of question and were general and opinionated. I'm surprised they weren't closed off the bat for being so opinionated. Ok, I'll go back and try to answer my closed questions. Where can I view all my posts instead of just the ones on the Meta or Overflow page? – Ultra Gamer Mar 29 '19 at 2:12
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    Naw, try to post answers to questions you know the answer to or are not happy with the answers first. Fixing your questions can come later. – Journeyman Geek Mar 29 '19 at 4:14
  • ok, how does answering questions get me out of a ban? – Ultra Gamer Mar 29 '19 at 4:54
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    By providing high-quality answers to the questions, you can ensure that your net contributions to the site are positive. That is one way to dig yourself out of a question ban, @Ultra. There are several ways of doing it. All are focused on improving the quality of your contributions, since that's what the automatic ban is measuring. All explained in the linked duplicate. – Cody Gray Mar 29 '19 at 7:07

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