When going through the questions asked at SO, there is a huge load of questions that's being asked by people that do obviously not really participate in the site. I mean

  • no upvotes ever
  • just registered to ask a question and never come back
  • only asking (bad) questions without answering a single one
  • never accepting an answer

and so on. Questions asked by these guys often tend to

  • be closed because of Duplicates
  • get downvoted because there's no information about the real problem in the question
  • do not be edited by their posters although they were asked to clearify their problem
  • And the users never come back to SO once their question was answered (less bad because in that case, we have an answered question that could help others)

So, what I'm thinking about is: Should asking a question on SO only be allowed if the user shows that he actually participates in the community?

My first thought would be to allow asking only if the user has given at least one upvoted answer.

What do you think about that? Would this not really improve the quality of questions that are being asked on SO?

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    The idea goes squarely against the spirit of SO so it is likely to be turned down but I can understand the motivation. – Pekka Jan 28 '11 at 11:30
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    There are already so many active users, even too many if you're trying to collect some rep by answering. It looks like you're trying to solve a problem we don't have. – maaartinus Jan 28 '11 at 11:49
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    @maartinus: too many if you're trying to collect some rep by answering: nice point of view! +1 for that comment. The problem I'm discussing is about the quality of questions. And a lot of them are bad. And that's a problem in my opinion... – eckes Jan 28 '11 at 11:56
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    The only people who ask many questions that bother me are those who do it without accepting answers. No matter how many times we tell them to, even with instructions on how. Otherwise I see nothing wrong with people who ask questions without providing answers. – BoltClock's a Unicorn Jan 28 '11 at 12:18
  • @BoltClock: Forgot that to mention. Falls into the same category. Editing my question. – eckes Jan 28 '11 at 12:26
  • I don't see this as a problem, as your list of problem-questions is immediately followed by a list of already implemented solutions. SO has the capacity to deal with these types of bad questions already. Bad questions, duplicate questions and non-questions get closed, salvageable questions get edited, and SO moves on. – user229044 Jan 28 '11 at 16:47

Would it improve the quality of questions? Maybe.

Would it be counterproductive to half the purpose of the site? Yes.

The Stack Exchange Network is built around the principle that people don't need to jump through hoops to ask a question. You don't need to pay anything, you don't need to confirm emails, you don't even have to register at all. It's meant, to quote the Stack Overflow about page, to be "as frictionless and painless to use as we could make it". The engine itself helps set us apart from all of the other sources on the web, but the fact that it is optional to join in to the whole reputation-building business gives us an even greater advantage. When all you want is a simple answer to a question, it's just plain annoying to be forced into participation and registration - and the painlessness that the Stack Exchange Network provides in this regard is one of our greater assets.


According to this answer by Kevin Montrose to a different question about % user page views with a certain rep amount that less than 5% of users to SO have any sort of reputation and then also goes on to say that most users are not registered either...

So, no...

and I guess for that many users to ever come to SO again they'd be all competing to answer questions to get rep, so the site would then be entirely full of terrible answers...

  • What are these 5%? I think, a lot of users come through Google while they are searching answers there (and make up 95% of the users). The question is: do these really ask something (and that's what I were talking about) or do they just come here, read the answer and are happy? – eckes Jan 28 '11 at 11:49
  • Your most likely right, they will be people searching for answers, and that is the end of it...but soooo many of these questions are asked by these same people as well, likley after having found an answer to there question...and as Nikita and Grace Note have mentioned, we'd rather these people asking questions, than expertly answering them – davidsleeps Jan 28 '11 at 11:55

I'm pretty sure this's been discussed before, but I'll try to present my view concisely.

No. I do believe, that learning something most people will want to ask questions, before they're able to answer them. And by imposing 15-rep asking bar (this is the reputation required to vote), you're turning it other way around.
Should we allow questions only from the people who're already experts? I don't think so.

  • Also thought that this was discussed before but didn't find it. And I don't want only experts to ask questions because that way, you're ending up discussing esoteric stuff. Just a little hurdle that would weed out approx. 50% of all questions that would be closed/downvoted anyways... – eckes Jan 28 '11 at 11:52
  • @eckes But 15-rep bar assumes that you already have something to give, before you can take. Such attitude (I'm happy to give to you, but not before you give something to me) rarely leads to good results. – Nikita Rybak Jan 28 '11 at 11:57
  • @Nikita: shouldn't everyone be able to give a little bit to a community where you could discuss nearly every programming related topic? IMHO, the only ones that have nothing to give are absolute beginners. And these are probably better off reading a tutorial before asking somewhere else... – eckes Jan 28 '11 at 12:00
  • @eckes Also, I wouldn't say that most (or even a lot) of new users post bad questions. Mostly they're ok. – Nikita Rybak Jan 28 '11 at 12:00
  • @Nikita: that's not my experience... – eckes Jan 28 '11 at 12:02
  • @eckes Rep gathering is a tricky process, you should know that. You can't just come in, say "I know how to write bubble-sort in C++ and I made this php website" and get +15 rep. So, in this case, I do think you're asking too much. Especially, since new users have no idea whether this site will be useful at all. – Nikita Rybak Jan 28 '11 at 12:10
  • And, of course, the new users will see that the site isn't useful at all when it fills up with answers written by beginners just so they can try to get enough reputation to ask their own question. – Wooble Jan 28 '11 at 14:41

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