Over the past week or so, I've seen many questions from users who don't understand why their accounts have been locked.

They have even made the effort to come here and ask why, so at least they know something about how things work. But they still don't understand why their accounts have been blocked.

Users who go to the effort to post here are not drive-byers and are interested in being reasonable members of the system.

I suggest we provide a link with the block message to indicate how users could retag or change their questions to attract some votes or otherwise be allowed to participate again. (Maybe the link should also include information on what constitutes a good quality question.)

  • Forgive me if something like this already exists, I've never actually received the message myself.
    – going
    Commented Aug 26, 2010 at 10:00
  • 2
    Some things that might need to be covered: it's a permanent ban (or is it?), it is a ban of both account and IP address (right?), and deleted questions are also taken into account though only moderators can see those. (And the banning on IP address could give a false positive. What to do then?)
    – Arjan
    Commented Apr 9, 2011 at 17:23
  • Has the false-positive on IP blocks problem even been addressed between April 2011 and January 2013? I see no sign of it. Commented Jan 20, 2013 at 22:09

2 Answers 2


Perhaps just adding a link to the 'error' message would do it?

Oops! Your question couldn't be submitted because:

In order to re-gain the privilege of posting questions on Stack Overflow you will first have to {?}

Why wait 'til they ask a question on meta to direct them to the same one or two questions? To be frank, I even find that the naming of these questions makes them difficult to find; how can a user tell apart a question explaining a year-long ban from a no-longer-accepting from a [...]?

  • 3
    Although the banner on the account page links to the blog post that introduced the concept of the penalty box, the blog post is outdated. @Jeff has said that the policy changed. The link should therefore also change to point somewhere that can be kept accurate. Commented Sep 28, 2010 at 16:12
  • These users seem to be people who will walk right past the link you give them and post noise on Meta anyway. Take a look at Jeff's answer to this similar question, and then read Umair's comment right at the bottom of it. Commented Jun 1, 2011 at 14:41

By the time this limiter reaches its threshold, they've had many chances to "get it right", and have consistently failed.

At this point, based on question volume -- almost 3k questions per day -- I have absolutely no problem discarding a few percent of what is historically known to be the most problematic content before it enters our system.

If these users would like to make their case for leniency, they can do it by emailing us directly at the address provided at the bottom of every page.

Can we prevent some of the low-quality questions from entering our system?

  • 3
    Hi Jeff, I get the fact that we should discard the few percent as discussed over the past few days. I just feel that there is something these guys are missing. They have only been using the system for a short while and don't get why they have been blocked. Thought a link to a faq explaining why in the actual message might help.
    – going
    Commented Aug 26, 2010 at 10:26
  • Although I do appreciate there is a good chance even this may not help.
    – going
    Commented Aug 26, 2010 at 10:30
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    But @Jeff look at this guy. He was recently blocked, apparently without forewarning. Now I'm not saying he was asking great questions, but by what criteria did his account get blocked? He has two questions out of 22 voted -1, and the fact that he has many unanswered questions isn't really his fault. By what criteria does your system work?
    – Pekka
    Commented Aug 26, 2010 at 10:42
  • @Pekka: Sidenote: Only three out of 22 questions have upvotes, only one of them has more then one upvote. Commented Aug 26, 2010 at 11:45
  • @Pekka I think it's only if a bunch of questions have downvotes (or maybe get flagged); it's possible he had more negative questions that were deleted Commented Aug 26, 2010 at 12:01
  • @Bobby @Michael you are both right, but still, as far as I can see, this guy doesn't look anything like the really, really bad askers. I don't know him nor his questions, and I can be wrong, but to me, unless he has fifty horrible questions that were voted to the ground and deleted, he should not have been blocked.
    – Pekka
    Commented Aug 26, 2010 at 13:14
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    @Jeff, I understand and agree that protecting the quality of the site is key, but think there are two valid points here: 1) @Pekka's point above, "Is it worth reviewing if the threshold is higher than is optimal", and 2) What's the harm in the OP's request to give a better, clearer message to a blocked user, even a generic one pointing to an FAQ or source of info regarding the likely cause(s) of their situation? It seems a bit like locking someone up for "all the bad stuff they did before". The offender and others would learn and adjust better if they could see what caused the punishment.
    – Jaydles
    Commented Aug 26, 2010 at 15:43
  • @Pekka: Maybe he got a lot of flags? Commented Aug 26, 2010 at 15:54
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    @Pekka - This user seemed to be a similar case, but Jeff commented that there were many bad deleted questions that we couldn't see: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/61991/account-blocked . Even the 10k users can't see the whole picture right now. Commented Aug 26, 2010 at 16:23
  • @jaydles see my comment on the other answer here. Depends how much honesty you can handle, I suppose. Commented Aug 27, 2010 at 0:14
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    RE: hiding ... I think like a hacker (we all do here) but I worry about exceptions + what slips through cracks. (For instance: A dissident can have their communications cut because their government sent Viagra spam out from their IP to cause the intended recipient's server to block important traffic.) So not being able to opt-in to monitor the "hidden bad" is a communications weak spot; like not being able to read messages in your spam folder. If you think the users/posts are hopeless, why be concerned if someone like me wants to waste some of their own time to peek in and check? Commented Jun 1, 2012 at 3:54
  • I can not understand where I went wrong and how I can fix it! You might be kind enough to tell me where I went wrong?
    – Lughino
    Commented Mar 21, 2013 at 0:01

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