From this question, it appears that the same system for blocking new questions by those that have a history of bad questions used on Stack Overflow also applies to Meta Stack Overflow. Should it?

Downvotes appear to be a significant component of this algorithm (the specifics of which are not released, for obvious reasons). However, downvotes on Meta have a different meaning than those on the mainline sites. On SO, a downvote typically indicates a lazy or poorly structured question.

Here, someone can put significant effort into a proposal and have it downvoted because the crowd disagreed with what was suggested. That doesn't necessarily show laziness or malice, simply someone throwing out an idea that others think won't work.

Therefore, is it appropriate to have the same sort of automated cutoff in place here as on SO? The traffic is much lower here, and this is less of a Google destination for people, thus there are fewer garbage questions. For those that abuse the system, the manual moderation system already in place would seem to work.


3 Answers 3


Probably it will be enabled, with a relaxed threshold.

That said, in this particular case I am pretty sure whatever threshold we set would have been exceeded by a wide margin.

  • 9
    I've been victimized by this automated system.... I'm banned from posting questions now. Some of my questions were proposals and they simply were not liked. Other users even told me the quality of my question was fine, they just didn't agree. I think this system needs to be "relaxed" a little more....
    – user159773
    Commented Dec 12, 2011 at 5:19
  • 5
    I asked two questions with MANY downvotes and got a question ban. I only have 3 questions meta.stackoverflow.com/users/175199/trytryagain, one of which is upvoted. This seems pretty extreme. I am in the top 2% on stack for the past two weeks and have questions on par or better than my latest question for meta. Commented Jan 7, 2012 at 22:16
  • I also do not agree with a ban on me. I have about two times more answers than questions on SO, only 2 out of 91 answers are downvoted (-1 each) and I have no downvoted questions on SO. Clearly, this ban on meta is nuts. At least I wanted to be warned that I should be more popular before this happened. Commented Feb 19, 2012 at 12:50
  • @camilo next time perhaps avoid posting things that contain "I know this will be downvoted and closed!" in the body? meta.stackexchange.com/questions/119459/… (requires 10k to view) At some level my advice to you is "stop hitting yourself". Commented Feb 22, 2012 at 7:37
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    @JeffAtwood I knew that was going to get downvoted and closed, but I was willing to give up the rep just to post it anyway. Now, I wouldn't care if this site wasn't one of my favorite ones. And because I care, I'd really like to be able to ask questions again, technical questions. If there was a warning that I could be banned, I would have restricted more of what and how I say things. I admit some of my closed questions on meta are bad, but not on SO or any of the other sites (I don't have a single question on SO with a negative score). I'd like to have had at least a warning. Commented Feb 22, 2012 at 8:28
  • can you still ask questions on stack overflow?
    – user4951
    Commented Sep 6, 2012 at 7:04

Downvotes are one component, but the other component is volume and history - this block is triggered by people who continually post low-rated content. From the example user, only 6 negative questions are visible amounting to -40. However, I've seen a few additional questions which have since been deleted. This is a continual supply of negative rated content, not just a handful of incidents.

Really bad suggestions are the ones that get heavily downvoted. "The crowd" doesn't have a singular mindset - mass downvotes usually accrue because a large number of people agree that it's a bad idea. If you are getting a lot of downvotes on all of your questions, then it's time to reconsider your understanding of the site.

People who do nothing but post really bad suggestions are just as harmful to the Meta site as people who post really poor quality questions on Stack Overflow. If your suggestions are borderline or only mildly disagreeable, then it's not going to be as frequent to receive large amounts of downvotes.

I don't see a problem where individual users who are posting decent suggestions and making an effort to understand how the community works are getting overly punished with downvotes. Until that actually exists as a problem, then I believe the problem of the automated question ban is most likely to be minimal.

  • 6
    "People who do nothing but post really bad suggestions are just as harmful to the Meta site" I can't agree with that. The variety of ideas that comes into Meta can always spur debate and lead to coming up with new ideas that might not have otherwise been spurred. If Meta is to be a proper place to come up with new ideas about SO, then it needs to allow everyone the freedom of giving input, even if those people consistently have input that doesn't mesh with the site. A "bad" user on Meta isn't one with lots of bad ideas, but rather one who doesn't put any effort into those ideas, good or bad.
    – Welbog
    Commented Oct 8, 2010 at 15:58
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    @Toronto When I say "understanding how the community works", it's not trying to propose some kind of "assimilation with the site". Some of our higher ranked Meta users have quite a volume of questions with very negatively voted scores. To me, this isn't any different than barring people from posting questions on SO due to not learning how to use the site. The people who are affected by this are people who are probably posting 15 questions when 1 would have sufficed, or causing a major ruckus. Not people who simply "don't mesh with the community".
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Commented Oct 8, 2010 at 16:15
  • I think this isn't so much because he was posting bad suggestions, but because he was posting a ton of pointless whining without anything constructive to offset it. Most of his questions are not suggestions at all.
    – Aarobot
    Commented Oct 8, 2010 at 18:06
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    Any chance you can see if user Ascension Systems (who commented to Jeff's answer on this question) and user TryTryAgain (who commented to their own odd post elsewhere), have deleted content that somehow affects their visible volume?
    – Arjan
    Commented Jan 7, 2012 at 22:03
  • @Arjan Neither user is blocked in any fashion.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Commented Jan 9, 2012 at 15:54
  • "The crowd doesn't have a singular mindset": they have groupthink. People extremely good at blindly assimilating into a group regardless of the consequences of their cause, and extremely good at expelling those who dissent (bullying at school for example). If one genius show up concluding the community running towards the edge of the cliff, it gets the complete anger of the community: -100 votes, global ban, IP ban, country ban, hellban in no time. This problem plagues all real and online communities: they fail to see the other side of the coin...
    – Calmarius
    Commented Oct 16, 2013 at 13:15

I would say no, in the absence of some statistics from data dumps showing that this is a problem. Usually "bad users" on meta are those who repeatedly troll the site (and are eventually banned anyway), not those who have lots of downvoted questions, as you say.

I would more lean towards the idea of banning users on meta who are banned on SO for bad questions, because the type of question they are likely to ask here is simply "Why was I banned?" which will be closed as a dupe anyway.

Is anyone interested in running a query to see what a "bad question asker" on Meta looks like?

EDIT: It appears as if the automated ban applies here too: https://meta.stackexchange.com/questions/67075/can-any-human-being-read-this

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