On Meta Stack Overflow, a user reported that they had been Question Banned on Stack Overflow as a result of apparently abusive voting activity. A moderator replied with the following comment:

I am contacting the team to get your ban lifted. The person who keeps downvoting you has been warned. Raise a mod flag if you receive more downvotes like this. – Yvette Colomb♦ Jun 15 at 1:43

Believing the standard guidance that Post Bans were fully automated, I replied to the moderator, who responded:

@RobertColumbia I referred it to the community team. I'm not even sure if they can lift it. – Yvette Colomb♦ Jun 15 at 13:54

The moderator in this case seemed to be clear that they could not lift the ban themselves, but unsure if that would be within the powers of the Community Team. Can a member of the Community Team specifically and intentionally lift a specific user's post ban? I am aware that a ban could possibly be lifted indirectly by reversing abusive downvotes (but such would depend on the inner workings of the post ban formula that is kept a secret), but the conversation above led me to believe that the moderator was implying that there might be a special process that Community Team members can do to "flip" the Post Ban off for a user. Does such a functionality exist? If so, when would it be used?

  • Is it used only in the most extreme cases?
  • Is it generally done upon request by local site moderators (e.g. "Hi Community Team, our user @John123 got question banned, but we don't want him to be. Please unban him kthx unicorn hugs.")?
  • Does the Community Team seriously consider pleas from individual users who contact them directly using the Contact link at the bottom of the page?

To be clear, I'm not question banned anywhere. I'm asking in the general case - is this something that the Community Team is able and/or willing to do when it makes sense to do so?

  • I've often seen them dissociate some old, bad questions from their authors if they're very far into a post ban but show a pattern of making well-received posts. Sep 12, 2019 at 18:04
  • @SonictheAnonymousHedgehog I think you mean “very infrequently” instead of often. It’s pretty much just a last resort when all other options won’t suffice.
    – Catija
    Sep 12, 2019 at 18:12
  • 2
    Given post ban information isn't public and disassociations by definition involve anonymizing the posts involved, I'm gonna suggest that both "often seen" and "very infrequently seen" are euphemisms for "never seen" here. Not saying it's never happened, but anyone suggesting it in a context that might motivate askers to contact us requesting it is setting such folks up for a cruel, cruel disappointment and a long-term relationship with the antirecidivism system.
    – Shog9
    Sep 12, 2019 at 19:16

1 Answer 1


No, there is no manual bypass for the question block, even for staff.

However, there are some minor things we can do to help the automated system realize its mistake. Obviously we can't disclose much here because it could lead to abuse, but in the case of serial voting, those votes get reversed and the effects wear off. In that particular case, it was a matter of updating the vote totals so that all those questions weren't downvoted anymore. A user can do that manually by expanding the vote totals on each question, and the system recalculates post scores on all non-deleted posts every night at midnight UTC. Once the inappropriate downvotes are gone, the block should be gone too.

We reply to all requests about post blocks via the contact form, whether requesting it be explicitly lifted or not, with the exact same message which explains that it's an automated system and provides some general guidance on how to go about fixing questions and asking in the future.

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