I saw this question, stewed over it for a while and posted a comment. But I got cold feet and deleted it again. Do you think it was appropriate?

You are so representative for SO's Eternal September. I recognize your question style. You've got basically 100 strips of paper with a software term on them. You put them in the Bingo mixer and draw two strips. And ask "I've got A and B, what's next?" Can't be closed as duplicate, nobody was ever dumb enough to consider it. Can be accidentally on topic, upvotes. Sounds like a challenge to keep the experts occupied, "hmm, why not?" The mixer has 9,899 more combinations left.

Well, because it is a Dumb F*****g Question. Experts will leave. We'll say: it was Ole Jak. Way to leave a mark. Ole!

Sorry for the noise, this guy is getting my goat. I need a kill file.

I'm bringing this up, because other contributors are losing it too. I like Henk's answers, I don't want to lose his insights.

And he's back after a long suspension. The bingo mixer spat out the "boost" and "protobuf" strips. He's using reputation points from his previous questions to draw attention, 500 bounty on a lousy question. I can't even vote to close it.

  • 7
    I'm familiar with that name; his posts have annoyed me a great deal as well, it seems as though both programming in general and Stack Overflow specifically are way over his head. But I think it's obvious that it wasn't an appropriate comment. It appears to be totally out of the blue in that context, and you never know who's going to read it or how they'll react.
    – Aarobot
    Commented Aug 28, 2010 at 22:17
  • Hi to all. thanks for such attention to my stupid Qs. If you do not like tham just do not look at tham. If my Qs harm you - I am sorry for that - I'll try to make them beter...=)
    – Blender
    Commented Aug 28, 2010 at 22:25
  • 8
    @Blender / Ole Jak: I know that you're responding to the post itself, but for the record, I didn't say that your questions were stupid - just that they had annoyed me. They annoy people because little to no effort has been put into constructing them - copy-pasting the question title into the body really isn't acceptable, and I think almost every modern browser has a built-in spell check. If you would only work on making your questions clear and readable, and occasionally try Google first, I am sure that nobody would fault you for just asking questions or for the apparent language barrier.
    – Aarobot
    Commented Aug 28, 2010 at 22:52
  • 6
    +1 as I feel your pain, but that doesn't make the comment appropriate.
    – user27414
    Commented Aug 28, 2010 at 23:06
  • @Blender: What does syntax highlighting have to do with this?
    – Aarobot
    Commented Aug 28, 2010 at 23:07
  • 1
    I love that this question was just flagged by a user that was suspended for persistent low quality answers. (You know who you are, and I saw what you did).
    – user27414
    Commented Aug 31, 2010 at 21:21
  • @Jon this question now has a bounty by (probably) the same user :)
    – Pekka
    Commented Aug 31, 2010 at 21:25
  • 1
    Well his username is "Blender"...
    – Ether
    Commented Sep 1, 2010 at 19:58

4 Answers 4


As Stack Overflow grows, we're taking a harder line stance against this type of user now.

Account annotated and suspended, email sent -- same one we've sent to about ~6 similar cases over the last month.

Due to many user complaints about your questions on http://stackoverflow.com, we have elected to suspend your account for 180 days.

  1. Your questions are generally of low quality and hard to understand.

  2. You have asked a large number of questions, many of which were deleted, closed, or downvoted.

  3. There appears to be no increase in quality (your effort expended to make your questions good, clear, and useful) over time between your oldest questions and your newest questions.

  4. You have provided few answers. You do not "give back" by occasionally trying to help other programmers answer their questions, you only "take" by asking questions.

This is a troubling pattern, and has become abusive to our community.

You are welcome back after 180 days if you can address the above issues, as a baseline.

Bear in mind that new users like this will generally be blocked by the heuristics discussed in ...

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

... so really it's the "grandfathered" users, who have asked hundreds of low quality questions, that have to be handled manually like this.

  • thanks Jeff - appreciate you addressing this Commented Aug 29, 2010 at 11:11
  • 17
    While I am in favour of more strictness, this is a bit over the top. I mean, the guy was allowed to ask his questions for ten months without any negative feedback - he has very few downvoted questions - then one user (rightly) complains about him on Meta, and five hours later he gets banned for half a year. WTF? This doesn't look like a properly thought through response to me. Some forewarning - like this very question here - and a one- or two-week period to cool down and give him a chance to improve would really have been in order.
    – Pekka
    Commented Aug 29, 2010 at 11:13
  • 6
    On a humorous note though, it says in his profile STOP ME IF YOU CAN. It contrasts nicely with the red suspension notice :D
    – Pekka
    Commented Aug 29, 2010 at 11:21
  • Thank you, Jeff. I was actually just about to complain about a different (but similar) user, and noticed you suspended him recently as well. I think this is a step in the right direction for SO.
    – user27414
    Commented Aug 29, 2010 at 13:39
  • 9
    I agree with @Pekka - a week-long suspension might have been more reasonable (especially for someone averaging more than 1 question per day). If the complaints/poor questions continue, then make it long-term.
    – Aarobot
    Commented Aug 29, 2010 at 15:25
  • 5
    I'm rather concerned that he was also banned from meta -- did he do something besides post a question asking about his suspension? I'm not 10k here so I can't see it anymore, but if he was suspended on meta just for that that seems not good Commented Aug 29, 2010 at 19:18
  • 7
    @pekka he was already banned for a week prior to this; and as I said, we are becoming much more strict about users who ask lots of low-quality questions. If they don't like it, there are plenty of other places on the internet for them to go. Commented Aug 29, 2010 at 19:36
  • 9
    @Jeff I didn't know that there had been a ban prior to this one. Knowing that, I have no problem with this
    – Pekka
    Commented Aug 29, 2010 at 19:45
  • @Jeff: I don't understand why you would suspend an account for bad questions. A question ban, yes. Meaning that the OP could only post answers. But that might be the point, to encourage the OP to post answers (and possibly shorten the question ban if his answers get upvoted) because they then give back to the community.
    – Tom Au
    Commented Jun 9, 2016 at 15:47

No, it's not an appropriate comment, as I'm sure you know.

Yes, this is what will kill SO, just as it has killed countless forums, message boards, and newsgroups before it. We've already seen experts leaving. And some of the folk who were formerly loud-and-proud "inclusionists" have been a good deal quieter...

If there's a solution, I don't know of it. Down-vote and move on, that'll help for a little while...

  • 9
    Sadly, there is some truth to this.
    – Pekka
    Commented Aug 28, 2010 at 23:10
  • 1
    The solution is easy - allow an optional filter allows you to only see questions with user reputation above 100.
    – sashoalm
    Commented Mar 26, 2014 at 18:08

The tension here is between "no question too basic" and "Oh, just shut up already.", which is the proper response to some of our prolific askers.

I think that the "no question too basic" bit is important and we don't want to throw it out in order to send the pointless, never-learn-a-thing takers packing.

Didn't we recently get a "bad questioner" block? Could the right application of downvotes turn it on for these pests? Could the definition of "bad questioner" be extended to more easily cover them? What unintended consequences would we risk if we did something like that?

  • Interestingly, most of his questions are upvoted. I'm not sure what that says, or about who...
    – Aarobot
    Commented Aug 28, 2010 at 22:45
  • 4
    @Aarobot Using upvotes to judge questions has been useless for a while now Commented Aug 28, 2010 at 23:01
  • 4
    No good question is too basic.
    – user27414
    Commented Aug 28, 2010 at 23:01
  • 13
    @Michael: Thank the Electorate badge combined with a downvote cost and a large number of hypersensitive users. The economics simply do not support question downvoting; answer downvoting only works because a typical programmer/engineer's desire to prevent the spread misinformation is generally stronger than their hunger for more rep and good karma.
    – Aarobot
    Commented Aug 28, 2010 at 23:04
  • 2
    this user has too much rep for that to apply. Basically the old "bad" question askers are grandfathered in, sadly, so they need to be handled via timed suspensions. Commented Aug 29, 2010 at 3:39
  • 4
    I don't think it's at all about "too basic", it's that the questions are bad. Zero effort has been put into them, they are usually rather sketchy without any details and they need major cleanup editing. But one can see that the underlying idea could maybe be made into a real question, so people tend to not immediately downvote. The problem is that this "made into a real question" is never done by the OP.
    – sth
    Commented Aug 29, 2010 at 14:43
  • 1
    @sth: Well, yes, but...many real newbies come and ask poorly worded or ill founded questions on very basic topics. We want those to get answers (though usually with a pointer to the duplicate), and the poster to go away happy. So we still have the problem of identifying the users who show an on-going pattern of rotten questions. Commented Aug 29, 2010 at 20:46
  • 1
    @dmckee: This is certainly not about unknowing newbies. If someone posted hundreds of questions he is no newbie anymore. And from having his posts edited over and over again he should have learned what could be improved in his typical question. If you recognize the user name and associate rotten questions with it you have identified a pattern.
    – sth
    Commented Aug 29, 2010 at 23:52
  • 1
    @Jon: further amendment: No good question is too basic, but we expect you to learn something from the answers and for subsequent questions to be more advanced, not asking the same basic things again.
    – Ether
    Commented Sep 1, 2010 at 20:00

Account suspension seems like a good idea - perhaps SO would consider implementing an incrementally punitive system?

For example:

  1. Prevent a user from adding comments or answering questions, then
  2. Prevent a user's new questions being publicly visible until reviewed by a moderator, then
  3. Suspend the user's account for 1 week, with an email, then
  4. Suspend the user's account for 180 days.

Possibly introducing a "dunce cap" which is visible with the user's avatar might provide motivation, though a little legal advice might be sought before considering this.


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