We are reevaluating this based on community feedback. The new heuristic to prevent questions being asked will probably be based on a combination of question closes, question deletes, question flags, and lack of significant upvoting, even at very low levels (0.20 etc) -- scoped to new-ish users.

Based on the discussion at

Should we cap reputation gained from questions at +2000?

We decided to go in a different direction. This is the new proposal.

  1. After your first 10 questions, it will require 100 more reputation to ask every additional 10 questions. If you do not meet this reputation level, you will be unable to ask any more questions.

  2. Bounties you have started will not be checked in step 1, so you can safely start a bounty without losing the ability to ask more questions.

  3. If the users' historical questions did not meet the required reputation bar at the time they were asked, they will be anonymized and ownership from those questions removed. Yes, we will be rewriting history. (existing answers to those questions will not be affected in any way)

The net effect of this change is that we want to prevent people from asking dozens, hundreds, or thousands of mediocre questions (that is, they don't get upvoted). You will need to ask questions that get a modicum of upvotes -- or earn rep in some other way by answering questions or editing.

Examples of users who'll be affected initially on Stack Overflow

It can be difficult to grasp the effects of a change like this without taking a look at the sorts of users - and questions - it will touch. So here are a few users, arbitrarily picked from the thousands who would be blocked from asking further questions on Stack Overflow:

  • 30
    @Jeff I disagree that what we are discussing is "some minimum level competency to avoid becoming a negative burden." I'm not talking about users with excessive downvotes but rather users who failed to get many upvotes. If one's questions are fairly specific then I suspect that ~20 upvotes is not trivial. Don't get me wrong, you made a great sight and I hope you keep making it better. However, this change would seem to be a change to what I had thought was one of the fundamental principles of SO. Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 7:37
  • 10
    @michael SO has big city problems now at a scale unimagined two years ago. Protecting the integrity of the community, and maintaining quality, requires stricter measures than before. Quality matters, and letting our quality slip is the first step on the road to eventual dissolution. Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 7:41
  • 2
    Just curious: is there a specific reason to work with batches of 10 questions? In other words: any specific reason to not say "10 more reputation to ask every additional question"? (This might matter if users are only aware of the limit after having asked their 10th question. But I assume folks would get an earlier notice, somehow.)
    – Arjan
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 8:27
  • 19
    Would this really stop users like stackoverflow.com/users/207177/there-is-nothing-we-can-do who posted well over 300 questions, now having >3k from these? (Most of his questions are poorly worded, ambiguous, or misleading, and his behavior towards users answering him is so bad, that many of the regulars in the C++ tag found that he's not worth answering to and actively avoid the guy.) If not, this is not worth the drawbacks.
    – sbi
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 8:48
  • 2
    Firstly let’s check understand this correctly, the reputations required is that rep earned and never takes into account any rep given away with bounties. So if a user gives away all his rep as soon as he gets it, he will still be able to ask questions. A user coming other another site and therefore starting off with 100 reps will be able to ask 20 questions before having to “give back”, is this correct? Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 8:51
  • 2
    If a question gets answers that are up voted, the person that asked the question should get some credit (so be able to ask another question) even if the question is not up voted, as the question proved to be of value. Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 9:03
  • 5
    In order to work, won't this require other users to be more conscientious about downvoting bad questions? It seems to me that things aren't downvoted enough.
    – ale
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 13:05
  • 13
    Wouldn't this push people who don't care about the reputation to simply post under a different name?
    – oKtosiTe
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 14:06
  • 27
    "Premium Services give users the ability to ask unlimited questions" ... "Become an Expert by initially earning 10,000 points...To maintain Expert status, receive 3,000 Expert points on a monthly basis" ... via experts-exchange.com/help.jsp
    – Pollyanna
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 14:22
  • 4
    Seems very complicated. Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 14:40
  • 24
    How about a "Low Quality" close reason instead? We get tons of "Low Quality" moderator flags that we can do precious little with, because "Low Quality" is not a valid reason to close. Seems to me that if five people agree, these questions can be safely dispatched on that basis alone. While you're at it, could you add the "General Reference" close reason as well?
    – user102937
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 16:51
  • 3
    @Jon I suspect for many users it doesn't matter, as their only effective way to earn rep is to ask questions. Many novices don't know enough to provide useful answers to hard questions and aren't fast enough to answer the easy questions. That leaves accepting answers (which is very limiting) and edit requests. Nobody is going to sift through questions making 50 copy-edit requests just to gain enough rep to ask a few more questions. Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 16:54
  • 8
    On another note, have you done some forensic analysis on the current data in the SO database to see if these new rules would have the intended effect?
    – user102937
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 16:59
  • 3
    I agree that this would just push those people to create new accounts because their old one is 'broken' (what, you expect them to read or understand the message about minimum reputation?). It would trade the unearned rep/privileges problem for a duplicate account problem. I don't think we can force this type of user into conforming to our expectations of good contributing behavoir, just put up safeguards to prevent the intellectually lazy (but physically persistent) from doing any damage when they come through town.
    – David
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 17:57
  • 13
    I find it humorous that we've wasted so much time on a mediocre question (since this question currently has a net voting total of 0). :) Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 18:22

24 Answers 24


First, I hate the thought of Stack Overflow becoming a Pay to Play system. Requiring people to feed into the system in order to use it for its primary purpose is exactly that.

In the 80's and 90's such BBS systems were called Elite - you had to submit some files to keep your account balanced enough to download files. While this isn't, strictly speaking, a form of elitism, it surely smacks of one.

Second, it's trivially easy to work around. Clear your cookies, clear your data cache, don't register, use a bogus email address, and you can ask as many low quality questions as you please. It will only hurt people who are earnestly trying to play within the bounds of the system.

Third, what the what? This proposal and the 2k rep cap proposal are fundamentally solving two different problems. If someone is getting too much reputation from questions, they will not run into problems with this proposal. If someone is submitting poor questions and not getting enough upvotes to continue asking questions, they won't run into the 2k rep proposal.

It sounds like you are either confusing the issues, or you still have a deep misunderstanding of what the root cause is.

For these reasons I strongly suggest you go back to the drawing board.

I'd like to see some data on how many users this would effect. In other words, find those users that have more questions than they would have been able to ask if the proposed system were in place. Then let's take a look and see if there's really a correlation that suggests those users shouldn't have asked the additional questions.

As an interesting data point, this system requires at least one upvote per question in order to ask additional questions. This assumes that EVERY reasonable question gets at least one upvote. As I describe in comments below, this doesn't seem to be the case.

Poking through a few of the high users I find several where 20-100% of their questions remain at 0 votes. Here is the list, the number afterward is the percentage of their questions which have 0 upvotes:

https://stackoverflow.com/users/29407/darin-dimitrov 20%

https://stackoverflow.com/users/50079/jon 25%

https://stackoverflow.com/users/34397/slaks 25%

https://stackoverflow.com/users/573261/richard-aka-cyberkiwi 33%

https://stackoverflow.com/users/413501/ladislav-mrnka 33%

https://stackoverflow.com/users/329769/brokenglass 100%

https://stackoverflow.com/users/328445/matthew-willis 30%

They are posting questions that are most assuredly not poor quality. Often, they are hard questions. In a way, this system doesn't merely penalize those who ask poor quality questions, but also those who are new to stackoverflow, are already experts, and are asking difficult questions.

I think we at least need more evidence to show that this proposal will actually address the problem, because at the moment I just don't see it doing what it's meant to do, and it appears that it could harm some aspects of the system that would be very damaging. Can we afford to turn away one new expert if it gets rid of a hundred low quality posts?

  • 35
    I knew if I waited long enough, someone would post my viewpoint for me. It's one thing to just cut off reputation, but considering how often we try to tout this site as painless to ask questions, I feel that flat-out denying access to the asking privilege when it's not a matter of the questions being bad (as with the current system), it feels like it destroys one of our most valuable assets as a site.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 13:58
  • 2
    "Pay to Play" is a bit different than wanting to stop repeated low-quality. My main issue with the 2k rep cap is that I felt it attempted to solve an issue that was not the issue presented. So yeah, I guess these seem different though the underlying issue is the same. Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 14:57
  • 5
    @Rebecca "Pay to Play" is different than wanting to stop repeated low-quality questions, but the proposed implementation to stop repeated low-quality question is a "pay to play" system. Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 15:14
  • 2
    Well, for what it's worth, "paying" in this scenario is actually just being a good question asker. It's not a "cost" in any normal sense of the word. So @Rebecca's right about this not being a "pay to play" system, because the principle behind the metric doesn't in itself match the problems with a pay to play. But, in spirit, it still feels counter to the original mission of painlessness.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 15:16
  • 5
    @Grace ""paying" in this scenario is actually just being a good question asker" I'm not sure that's the case. Does every single reasonable question get at least one upvote? Check out questions from about a week ago 60% have 0 upvotes. A quick check of the first ten questions with no upvotes shows that only 1 or 2 are low quality, and one of those was closed. There's no way, currently, that this can be implemented without forcing the user to answer questions in order to earn enough rep to ask another question.
    – Pollyanna
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 16:16
  • 16
    And, to make sure I'm being clear: Jeff's definition "mediocre questions (that is, they don't get upvoted)" which I translate into "mediocre questions are questions which don't get upvoted", is as far as I can tell, false. We can't build this proposal on the poor foundation of question upvotes.
    – Pollyanna
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 17:10
  • 2
    My fear (as elucidated in my post) is that it's mostly the mediocre questions that get upvoted.
    – Gabe
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 17:40
  • 3
    Not one of the users you've cherry-picked is anywhere close to being affected. The 100 rep mentioned can come from anywhere: upvotes on their questions, upvotes on answers, acceptance, suggested edits. Bounties are not factored in. Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 18:25
  • 6
    @Rebecca As I stated above, the only point I was making is that there are loads of good questions which are not upvoted. This proposal depends on the false idea that 0 votes on a question means it's a mediocre question. If a new user posts a good question, then have a 30-40% chance that it's going to be upvoted. And that's for a good question. Again, the point of my illustration is not that these users would be affected. My point is that you can't expect good questions to get upvoted, and therefore users would have to answer questions in order to ask more questions.
    – Pollyanna
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 18:31
  • 1
    I think you deeply misunderstand this proposal. None of the users you listed would be affected by it. I'd like you to also do the math on the thousand moderator flags we get per day and tell me how long it will take to clear those, even with ten moderators. Hint: it's not fun. At some point you have to cure the disease -- flood of mediocre questions -- and stop treating the symptoms (gee we have a lot of flags). Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 22:23
  • 4
    @Jeff - why not give more privileges to just resolve rather than flag issues for people who have a proven track record of successful flagging combined with significant reputation?
    – tvanfosson
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 22:31
  • 7
    @Jeff: Adam understands the proposal perfectly. You are missing his point. He was trying to show that good questions don't necessarily get upvoted. In other words, your proposal will have negative side-effects because of the bike shed problem: difficult questions don't get many upvotes on SO.
    – Borror0
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 22:36
  • 1
    @Borror0, answers also get upvotes. The proposal seems to be about wholesale worthwhile participation in the community, not just getting question upvotes.
    – Charles
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 22:41
  • 4
    @Charles If SO requires users to gives answers to get answers then that is a fundamental paradigm shift from how it originated (they made sure not to require users to even register, let alone provide answers). Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 23:03
  • 2
    @Charles Asking lots and lots of bad questions is negative participation. Asking lots of questions with <2 upvotes on average is not. This is a potential barrier to normal participation for many new users. Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 23:45

My big concern would be that it's actually the mediocre questions (being popular) that get the most votes, so this might not actually solve the problem. The best questions (being the most specific) often get the fewest votes -- not to be confused with the worst questions, which get negative votes.

Maybe I'm a bad example as I only have a few questions on SO, but it seems like it's hard to get 2 votes on every question. Does anybody have stats on how many people average 2 or more votes per question?

Also, I'm wondering how this policy would affect accounts like https://stackoverflow.com/users/39677/blankman, https://stackoverflow.com/users/104015/shore, and https://stackoverflow.com/users/43907/gold: how many of their questions would become CW?

I would actually propose that rather than preventing users from asking new questions when their old ones are crappy, require their questions to be approved like edits.

  • 6
    you're not really asking the right question here; there are two major ways to get rep besides question upvotes. Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 7:05
  • 34
    +1 I mostly answer questions, but what you're saying about mediocre questions is so true! I get most of my rep answering the dumbest questions; The interesting questions, the one that actually get me writing code because they're good puzzles, they usually yield very little. Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 7:15
  • 7
    @Jeff Certainly SO depends on having many users willingly answering (and editing) questions. However, one of the things that makes SO great is that users aren't required to trade those services to get their own questions answered. The people that perhaps need help the most are the ones who don't yet know enough to provide useful questions. It seems against the principles of SO to turn our backs on them. Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 7:49
  • 8
    @michael it seems against the principles of SO to let a flood of low quality questions ruin our ecosystem, too. Guess which principle I think is more important? Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 7:59
  • 2
    I'm very much for quality over quantity! Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 9:02
  • 12
    @Jeff: It sounds like you're saying that you want people to participate beyond just asking questions. For those who don't have the skills or knowledge to do anything besides just ask questions, they have to ask popular questions. Since I can't average 2 votes per question, I'm wondering what other people do because that seems like a pretty high bar.
    – Gabe
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 11:33
  • 1
    FWIW, Gabe - you're not doing too badly. The only question you have without any up-votes is still fairly new, and unanswered... Worst-case, if you hit 10 questions without that changing, you could delete it.
    – Shog9
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 16:43
  • 3
    @Jeff you assume good quality questions are more upvoted than low quality ones, which is not true. Using a ratio of upvotes/views would make more sense.
    – KeatsPeeks
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 21:43
  • 3
    +1 for the suggestion at the end. I like that idea. Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 21:45

To know how valuable such a proposal is we really need to know how big the problem is. How many single users are starting accounts and blitzing out crappy questions?

I'll tell you what I see. My experience is twofold.


I'm "just a user" on SO. ~20k points from answering things and a few good questions.

On StackOverflow the pace is very fast. Things fly by and questions, even good ones tend to get quite low votes. Only the "interesting" subjects really get attention but just because something isn't interesting to everybody certainly doesn't make it a bad question.

Under your rules somebody would need an average of +2 on their questions to get the points (slightly less with accepted-answer points). To me that seems quite high, especially for less-popular topics or questions that don't get picked up by the masses.

Ask Ubuntu

I'm a moderator on Ask Ubuntu. I've also answered a stupid number of questions there.

On Ask Ubuntu things are quite a bit slower but we do get our fair share of people pushing silly questions that are either duplicate, should be filed as bugs or are awfully written. However what I do notice is that these sorts of problems do not tend to all come from the same person. People hop in when they need something fixing and they don't tend to pebble-dash the whole site with nonsense.

Achieving a +2 average for "good" questions is easier to achieve but what's the point when I don't think we even suffer the problem you're trying to solve?

Joint issues

A limit may hurt legitimate questioners who just can't make something sexy enough to harness the attention needed for votes. Any solution to a problem that might not even exist needs to avoid punishing good, unlucky users.

You may say that a viable way to garner points is by answering something once in a while. For super-experts like me (ha!) that's not an issue -- I'm happy to grind my way through questions looking for points -- but is this really something we want to enforce on novices? If that's the only way to do things, I suspect people will just pebble-dash the answers sections looking for points.

And remember the problem with already have with withholding the commenting function: people will just post their junk where they can. If they can't post a new question, they might just jump on the most relevant question and post a "I'm having a similar problem"-non-answer. You need to be careful that you don't "solve" one problem by sweeping it to another section.

Counter-solution: Tackle the problem, directly

If this problem is real and you want to solve it, why are you putting blanket limits on things? To me there's one cause to the problems: bad users who don't write good questions.

Any question-limit should be based on past crimes. Target users with multiple closed questions (for bad things), negative votes on questions (not final scores -- we try to fix bad questions on AU), valid suffered flags, etc. Of course you can factor in their reputation but that's a tiny portion of it.

Using this sort of heuristic you can put people on probation where they essentially have to become better users or they start losing privileges.

  • Also maybe let soneone editing a question say way the edit was needed, so some edits mark a question as bad. Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 10:33
  • 3
    Last paragraph already exists. It's not enough. Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 10:42
  • @Ian Yeah, some sort of flag saying the post desperately needed editing and an interface in the moderator screen so they can see the flag and the edit history to see how valid the flag is.
    – Oli
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 10:42
  • @Jeff Which last paragraph? I've refactored the language to make it clear that I'm talking about a new algorithm based on previous behaviour. I've also added a separate "joint issue" that even my suggestion doesn't counter. Blocking people from asking questions might "force" them to post under existing questions (similar to how people who can't comment post their comments as answers).
    – Oli
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 11:27
  • See How does Stack Overflow attempt to prevent low-quality questions and answers? for the current heuristics, which if I understand correctly only applies to answers. For questions, there's also the dreaded "Sorry, we are no longer accepting questions from this account" account/IP address ban.
    – Arjan
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 12:56
  • 4
    Many of our most successful question pumps don't blitz out bad questions. They ask ten or twenty stinkers a week, every week without fail. In and of themselves they are only a modest problem, but perhaps their success represents a window left un-repaired. Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 14:52

1) Some people will just create new accounts on every 10 questions.

2) That make sense

3) If removing ownership from questions only for reps would probably ok, but if they literally lose those questions from their user pages that could be some issues.

  • 9
    They are already creating new accounts to bypass the bad question heuristic. We will just have to get better about detecting this.
    – waffles
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 5:32
  • on #1 remember there is a whole other set of protections at the IP level based on downvotes. Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 5:39
  • per #3 -- disassociating the question from the owner. Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 5:55
  • 15
    Good point, 3. @Jeff, maybe the "Attribution Required" of the license would not even allow such disassociation?
    – Arjan
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 8:31
  • 2
    @Arjan very good point.
    – alex
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 10:23
  • 2
    Why remove ownership anyway? The problem isn't the ownership, the problem is either that there is reward attached -on average- to horrible questions, or that those horrible questions exist. In either case, disconnecting ownership makes those problems harder to solve.
    – Kzqai
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 16:48
  • Ah, I guess by "ownership", jeff means CW, so the link to creator would be kept intact.
    – Kzqai
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 17:13
  • @Tchalvak, no, not CW. (CW was in the first revision of the question, and Jeff changed that to explicitly read "will be anonymized". I guess that change is to ensure newly posted answers won't be automatically CW as well.)
    – Arjan
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 18:47

No. There would be a risk of alienating users (specifically new users who are still getting the hang of this site). I understand it only takes an average of 2 upvotes per question, but that is not a completely trivial task; especially if you are new to the site and/or ask very specific questions in unpopular tags. I'm especially concerned for students, as they might not yet know enough to answer many questions, so asking questions would effectively be the only way for them to reach this 100 rep (unless you count asking them to copy-edit a few dozen questions).

Stackoverflow is supposed to be "100% free, no registration required"...not "your first 10 questions are free, but we demand something from you after that"...

  • 11
    we don't really have a problem attracting new users. We do, however, have crippling quality problems with some new users. Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 7:05
  • yes thats true but we can lose a lot of users due to this reason. As this site is greatly known all over the world as Q&A site for developers will become some reputation driven site(just like money) with lots of user giving answers that they don't know just to ask another question. And that said, this reason will affect the traffic of this site greatly
    – Robin
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 8:29
  • 14
    @Jeff: So when did the objective with SO change from "making the internet a better place", to providing a refuge for the elite, while abandoning all the clueless users to phpbb boards and ExpertsExchange? Saying "we don't have a problem attracting users" seems to be a weird inversion of perspective compared to earlier. It used to be "how can we reach out to every goddamn programmer in the world, and be available to those who need the site". Now it's "we just need to have enough users for the site to do well, so let's ditch the ones who don't live up to our standards".
    – jalf
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 8:32
  • 11
    @jalf it takes a tough man to make a tender chicken. I'm perfectly willing to help those that will meet us halfway. Heck even 25% of the way. Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 8:34
  • 1
    I don't agree with this. New users should not just ask away without (re)searching anyway. This proposal might really change the way users think about asking questions. It might make them sit down and think about the questions maybe even driving them to (re)search a bit themselves. Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 9:07
  • 2
    @Octavian, if some of these users were capable of thinking about the questions that they were about to ask, this wouldn't be such an issue. Too many of our proverbial horses don't know how to drink, so leading them to water isn't going to help (and neither is threatening them with the ten-question-threshold glue factory).
    – Charles
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 9:39
  • 4
    @Charles I'm sorry you're right. My expectations are always too high, expecting someone to think prior acting is really naive today. Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 9:44
  • @Octavian, it's sometimes hard to discern sarcasm over the internets, so I'm not sure if you're serious or not. Assuming seriousness, we should not be wrong to expect the right thing occur. The fact that expectations are broken so regularly is pretty much the heart of the issue.
    – Charles
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 10:05
  • @Charles I was totally serious. This might really be the root cause of the problem. Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 10:06
  • 2
    @OctavianDamiean: the root of the problem is that people don't care. They only want an answer to their question with a minimum amount of effort, so why bother spell checking or formatting their questions? Someone else will do it for them.
    – alex
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 10:27
  • @alex Thats not even the main problem. I mean not delivering quality content from the beginning is bad, someone editing those questions is not bad but what is really causing problems is answer such bad questions. If you spot such a really bad question then don't answer it. Check for dupe, flag but don't answer it and if you edit it, then for gods sake tell the user how to improve. Lack of interest and communication is the real problem. Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 11:19

Downvoting needs to be fixed first.

People have an aversion to downvoting; the data dump tells us that. Why? Because they lose reputation for doing it.

We should have a trial period of removing the penalty when downvoting questions; since there's data, it'd be easy to re-institute it (or wipe the votes from that period, as if it never happened).

Bad questions should be downvoted. Lots of downvotes on questions means the user doesn't ask good questions. The Rate limit shouldn't be on the number of questions you ask, but how well they do comparatively. Removing the penalty for downvoting questions will give people an honest assessment of that question's worth to the community.

  • 4
    The reason there's a cost to downvoting is that there's a natural bias to downvote. "I can't define obscenity but I know it when I see it" - identifying something that is perceived as wrong is innate and built in. You can always find fault with some post or another. The downvote cost was added early on in Stack Overflow's life as a result of the rampant downvoting when there was no cost involved - and a lot of the downvotes were clearly due simply to style or presentation, and not technical content. It forces people to think about the post more than simply react.
    – Pollyanna
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 13:55
  • 6
    Then how about 5 (or whatever) free daily downvotes?
    – MPelletier
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 13:57
  • 5
    @Adam Davis : If that's a real issue, then maybe the penalty for downvoting only happens if people downvote more than half the time? If they vote 15 times a day, and more than 7 of those are downvotes, then they could be penalized. That would stop the people who are just downvoting to be negative. Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 13:57
  • @MPelletier You and I are very close in thought, sir. Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 13:58
  • We could make the voting system as complex as the IRS tax code. If we were to do so, then limiting downvotes seems to be appropriate as it will force people to dole them out more carefully. I'd rather see a 2:1 ratio, though - for every two upvotes you get a rebate for one of your downvotes. I just hate additional complexity, especially if it's not a slam dunk in terms of knowing it will solve the problem. We need someone to spend some intimate time with the data dump and give us some useful information on voting and post quality.
    – Pollyanna
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 14:11
  • 4
    While I think you're right that we need to address downvoting in general, I think that pity votes are a worse problem. They are why I sometimes hesitate to downvote a question currently at zero: I know the odds are that such a vote represents an award to the poster because it will be blindly reversed by some thoughtless user. Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 14:38
  • 1
    @dmckee @Jeff Atwood has said this isn't an issue, but he hasn't provided data that backs that up yet. Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 14:40
  • 2
    @George: It is a psychological issue for me. It stays my mouse finger when I know a down vote is warranted. Maybe Jeff has statistical evidence that I'm weird that way, but as you say he hasn't shown us. Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 14:45
  • 3
    @dmckee "Maybe Jeff has statistical evidence that I'm weird" You participate in meta. By definition you are weird, no statistical evidence required. ;-P
    – Pollyanna
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 16:36
  • @Adam: Guilty as charged. Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 16:39
  • 2
    @Adam: For downvoting on answers I agree with you, but downvoting on questions should be free. People don't vote on questions much at all. Therefore the mediocre questions don't get downvoted because they're not "bad" enough to justify the rep burn. But those questions should be downvoted. They're bad! Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 18:34
  • @Billy Off the cuff, I agree with you. Needs some additional consideration...
    – Pollyanna
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 18:39
  • @dmckee for the umpteenth time, the data does not support an actual pity upvote problem, other than in people's minds. Commented Apr 7, 2011 at 7:45
  • @Jeff Atwood You've been asked before (in other threads) how you arrived at that conclusion. We're all interested because our empirical experience seems to indicate otherwise. So, could you provide the query you used to figure that out? Commented Apr 7, 2011 at 10:31
  • I don't know that this would provide a net positive effect. Even if there were a cap on free downvotes, if we see a return to the pre-penalty behavior up to that cap - 5 (or whatever) downvotes per day handed out by X users indiscriminately downvoting - that's going to leave another problem to fix. Commented Apr 7, 2011 at 21:32

A little questionable statement to start off:

SO, in general, doesn't seem to care about the quality of the questions asked as long as they are not complete crap.

There is no incentive to close-vote duplicate or mediocre questions as they generate lots of rep 'farmed' by many users. So those questions stay open and get answered

Is that changing now and is prohibiting users to ask questions the right way?

Users with 100+ low quality questions keep asking those questions because there are answers. And mostly they are answered very quickly and competently so there is no incentive for those users to stop asking questions and why should they? The System works for them!

The ones asking really really bad question will get enough feedback from the community as they don't get any answers. So they stop asking.

But that only happens for questions that are bad that they really get close voted. From my tags that are not that many, especially not the "easy to answer" duplicates.

So why 'punish' new users for using the system if it works for them?

If we, as in SO community, don't want people to ask duplicate questions why do we still "reward" them with answers? Why not change the system in a way that will make people clean up and show new users better what is an acceptable question and what is not.

For those users it's also not about reputation in any way (I'd assume). They come to SO get answers, not rep. Down-voting and taking away rep is not an issue as long as one gets an answer.

I don't think you will be able to prohibit people from asking bad questions. Well, you might be given that you have created SO and it's amazing but it's going to be a constant "trying to prohibit multiple accounts" battle that i don't think you can win.

To sum up: If people get their answers, they will keep asking questions. Change the first, not the latter

  • 2
    Good insight. I agree.
    – Tek
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 14:29
  • Interesting way to look at it
    – KennyCason
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 14:33
  • 1
    I agree with you answer too. But note that much users are here only for questions, they don't care about their REP, just about answers for their quesions.
    – Robik
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 14:34
  • Couldn't agree more. In essence it is not only the askers pushing the quality bar down but also the ones that answer those questions just to get some reputation. Commented Apr 7, 2011 at 9:12

I like the idea, but if you change this to the following:

  • every user has a free pool of 10 new (possible bad) questions (maybe even 5 for unregistered users).
  • questions with at least one upvote (or possibly an accepted answer) are removed from the pool. So for each (approved) question you can add a new (possible bad) question.

This cuts the large amount of bad questions without hindering the genuine question askers. This completely locks users with 10 bad and closed questions, but this isn't a bad thing. Besides those questions are very often deleted and you can always delete them yourself (or flag for a moderator).

  • 4
    I like, but how about positive score rather than one upvote?
    – Jon
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 6:25
  • 8
    not enough voting on questions for this to work. Too many 0 and 1 voted questions that are quite bad. Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 6:27
  • 2
    What would happen if a user deletes a bad question? Would that be a free ride for another bad question? If so, then the rules for deleting questions might need to be even more strict.
    – Arjan
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 8:35
  • @arjan the rules for question deletion are already extremely strict IMHO. Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 8:40
  • 1
    True, @Jeff, unless Gamecat's idea of a pool of questions would make users post a bad question, get no answer, delete it, post another, get no answer, ... But indeed, maybe no need to worry until things get implemented.
    – Arjan
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 8:46
  • 1
    If the "pool" was made bigger by getting upvotes on answers, but did not grow as fast when a question only has 1 upvote (or accepcted answer) you may be on to some thing. Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 9:01
  • 3
    Do we really care if a user deletes a bad question? If the question doesn't have any votes or answers (or one answer with no votes), I have no problem with them deleting it.
    – Gabe
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 12:00
  • 2
    @Gabe, deleting is indeed good. But when a user deletes bad questions to free their pool, then in the end the number of newly posted bad questions might not be decreased? (But true: maybe they learn to improve! And the total number of bad questions might be reduced by the users themselves: nice, though questions more than 30 days old with no answers and <= -1 score, or 365 days old with no answers and <= 0 score are often auto-deleted anyway.)
    – Arjan
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 12:48
  • 7
    Deleting old, crappy questions to ask new ones is much preferable to leaving old, crappy questions and creating a new account to ask new ones!
    – Gabe
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 12:52
  • True, @Gabe, but creation of new accounts is (partly) handled, according to Waffles and Jeff. Just saying that if some pool is used, one needs to define if deletions are taken into account (or not), and might need to review the deletion rules.
    – Arjan
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 13:13
  • @Arjan then start counting how many self-deleted questions a user has and auto-suspend his account at any outrageous high amount (20-30+?)
    – Ivo Flipse
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 13:49
  • @Arjan: something else to keep in mind is that sympathy voting should work to mitigate the danger of albatross-questions somewhat, especially if the author goes back and makes significant improvements to them.
    – Shog9
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 15:33

Any chance to enhance it with a time aspect? Like, for example:

  1. After your first 10 questions, it will require 100 more reputation or one month longer registration to ask every additional 10 questions.

That slows down bad questions, but feels less restrictive to me.

  • 9
    One month sounds a bit long but I like the idea of a time aspect. Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 9:16
  • 4
    One month for a new slot of 10 questions is about one "free" question every 3 days. And it would only be needed by those who really cannot earn reputation any other way. So, @Octavian, I would have expected people to think the example of one month is too short! (And for me it's really the feeling that counts. To allow us to say SE is free.)
    – Arjan
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 9:48

What I like the best of this proposal is that, unless I'm reading wrong, reputation from questions counts towards unlocking further questions.

This means that you can continue asking questions without providing answers, so long as your questions are good enough (you need an average question score of +2 or better).

Here's a naive query that wrongly ignores bounties, suspensions, etc (one could calculate reputation directly, but that would ignore reputation caps and other bonuses):

For exampe, ooo has a ton of reputation spent on bounties (2.8k of which on a single day!). It will be interesting to see, however, what the rewriting history process entails. Did ooo have enough reputation when he asked his eleventh (twenty-first? thirty-first? etc.) question to ask any other? Would that "CW" all other questions, clearing associated reputation and bounties spent with reputation he then didn't have?

Fun. Fun. Fun. Fun.

  • 1
    Thanks for providing some hard examples. To be honest, most of the people on the list don't seem to be asking the kind of low-quality questions that are the target of this policy. This would seem to indicate that the proposed changes wouldn't do much to help. Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 16:31
  • Upon further examination, it looks like taking action to prevent new questions from those near the bottom of this query might do some good in preventing new mediocre questions, as I describe in my answer. Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 17:23
  • @Brad Honestly you have to take my enthusiasm in context; I like this plan much better than the rep capping ones.
    – badp
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 17:30
  • The user "AnApprentice" (number 3) is definitely a help vampire. He's so bad, he's asked duplicates of his own questions! Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 23:45


The whole reason askubuntu is having this problem in the first place is not that there are stupid people asking stupid questions. This happens on all the SE sites. The problem is the lack of moderation.


The reason there is lack of moderation is that there is a lack of moderators. On other SE sites you get reputation quickly which makes you want to get involved more. This site is opposite. Because it is too hard to get involved, checking for duplicates and editing stupid questions to fix them etc. no one's reputation can increase.


The reason there is a lack of moderators/people with enough rep to moderate is because there currently is no way to increase your reputation here. The standard for what is a good question and what is a bad question is way too high. I've asked several questions that get no votes, no comments and no answers and they were good questions.


So askubuntu is in a downward spiral unless you can do the opposite of what this question suggests. New users need more privileges and incentive to get involved.**

  • 4
    If there's a problem with standards on the site such that it's hampering the ability of the community to maintain itself... it seems like the issue is with those standards. I mean, even with the proposed system, it posits a "standard" of 2 votes to keep producing questions, and that's if you aren't also producing answers.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 13:08
  • Exactly! They need to think more seriously about how to balance privileges with reputation. Compared to so many other SE sites, it's so hard to get rep here. In SO I shot up in like no time by just asking questions and the community didn't call my stupid questions stupid, they just tried their best to help and support me. This community is the opposite. Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 13:13
  • 3
    Welcome to the world that is Super User!
    – Ivo Flipse
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 14:00

I disagree with the proposal. I think that implementing it is going to very quickly highlight the other problem that has been noted lately: the downward trend in voting(1, 2).

Some people simply don't have the knowledge to answer moderately difficult questions, or the speed to win the FGITW race on the easy questions. Combine this with the (perceived) lack of active voting, and the fact in can be difficult to even get views on your question(1, 2), and a n00b can end up in quite a difficult position, so you may get an explosion of new accounts (with an explosion of orphaned/abondoned accounts) as mentioned by @YOU.

So it seems there are two distinct problems:

  • quality. A good tool already exists for dealing with quality problems: moderation. Maybe the answer is to introduce a Darwin™ flag - that is a flag for questions that really are no use to mankind and evolution needs to be unkind to them. Questions with enough of these flags can be devolved over time, till they get pruned or deleted after a number of weeks or months. This means the asker probably gets an answer, and the low quality question will automatically disappear after a while. Edit: Or instead of the question automatically being pruned after time it could appear on one of the 10K+ mod lists, and it can be deleted from there.

  • reputation. If the problem is about users earning too much rep for a large amount of questions, then that has already been discussed, and a rep cap on questions or a throttle based on question & answer ratio would do the trick.

Maybe the best way to deal with quality is to let the community decide what is suboptimal, you just need to figure out the way to activate the community to do it. Down-voting by itself doesn't solve this issue, as frequently the askers of the bad question have low rep anyway, and a negatively scored question can still potentially stick around forever.

In any case, there is only a small amount of users really abusing the system - let's not introduce new convoluted rules just to bring them into line when the proper use of existing tools could do the same job.

  • So, how can the community be activated? (I'd actually consider the word enabled there... though then again, activated reminds me of activated carbon filters, and hey, there we go again, it works!) Downvoting in itself is ineffective against this class of user. What other tools are missing that would help the community defend against low quality questions?
    – Charles
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 10:14
  • there are over a thousand mod flags per day already on SO. I'd like you to do the math here. You tell me how long you think it should take to look at, process, and handle a thousand flags -- even with 10 moderators. (hint: you must at a minimum load the question page and read some portion of it) Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 10:44
  • 3
    @Jeff - it doesn't have to be a mod flag at all. It's more of a "dislike" type flag, and it can be available to users with greater than x reputation. If a question gathers more than n flags, or a certain ratio of flags to views, the question will degrade. The key thing is to make it easily accessible for viewers to use. I've also added a small edit above.
    – slugster
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 10:52
  • @Jeff Atwood: Did the number of flags substantially increase after you instituted showing us the flag weight? Is this information in the data dump? Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 14:51
  • 1
    Unfortunately there is a Darwin flag, it's the downvote button and I (and others) don't use it enough.
    – user142852
    Commented Apr 7, 2011 at 0:47
  • This mod flag problem keeps coming up repeatedly. A thousand per day is indeed ridiculous. I don't bug the mods with flags more than once or twice a week. Hmm, how come by flag weight isn't going up? Commented Apr 7, 2011 at 1:38

I'm not at all fan of anything that "rewrites history" -- especially something that breaks your own attribution and licensing rules. I think it will better to just grandfather these questions in somehow.

I also really like Arjan's time-based addition (upvoted), so I'll repeat it for emphasis.

Update (another take):

I think Stack Overflow has undergone a fundamental shift from it's early days. Most users — especially new users — now only visit the site when a Google search points them to a question. Moreover, they only ask a new question when the one Google showed them didn't quite solve their problem. Put simply, the typical user never even sees the list of active questions waiting for answers. Stack Overflow has now been around long enough that many of these same people now have many questions each. This is normal, this is natural, and trying to change it just won't work.

Stack Overflow continues to succeed because of the sheer quantity of traffic Google sends it's way: enough of those people continue to need additional help beyond what the original search result provided that new questions continue to feed into the system, and enough people decide that they want to start answering questions to keep that part of the user-base happy. Of course, this is just my hypothesis; but I think most will agree it's probably not that far off.

The problem we have now is that some (probably not the majority, but enough) of the users described above consistently ask enough low quality questions that it's creating significant background noise, especially in certain tags. Perhaps some of them even bypass google and decide to go straight for the "Ask Question" button, but I don't think you can profile for them in that way.

With all that in mind, I think the proposed solution is on the right track. I certainly hope that good questions do tend to end up with a higher score than bad ones, at least on average. However, I think the numbers are still off. It's hard to earn 100 rep per 10 questions, even with good questions, because not enough people vote on questions. More importantly, the chosen numbers are completely arbitrary. What we need to do here is use the available data to determine more precisely how many votes per question on average you need, rather than just setting it at 2 arbitrarily.

So go to the data dump do something like filter to only questions by users where >70% of their posts are questions. Then sort these users by votes-per-question (perhaps limit to questions in the last year). Go through these users and find a real, data-backed point where you feel like the users above this line should be left unmolested, and the users below this line need throttled. Then use that ratio to build your requirements.

On the other hand, if we go look at the data and it turns out that there is no clear-cut point at which we can separate bad questions from good (or, at least, less bad), then we'll no we need to go back to the drawing board. If that happens, I think the best place to start is finding a way to improve the scoring, so that there is a better distinction for these questions.

  • As others have pointed out, I'm not sure that votes alone are going to be a good metric for whether or not a question is good. If they were, the downvote-enabled blocking of users with bad questions would work perfectly fine and we wouldn't be having this conversation. Scoring using heuristics like those employed for bad answers might be needed to give a better idea of good and bad questions. Commented Apr 7, 2011 at 2:32
  • @Brad - individual questions might go one way or the other, but I expect that over time bad questions score worse when averaged together. If that's not the case, I think we need to fix the scoring problem first anyway. Commented Apr 7, 2011 at 13:31
  • More importantly than votes: how many views, edits, answers, accepted answers (aka upvotes), comments have these questions received? That way you get a much better idea of whether the questions are any good.
    – Ivo Flipse
    Commented Apr 8, 2011 at 15:59

Sounds like a good idea, but I'd be interested in seeing some hard data first:

  • How many users will retro-actively be affected by this?
  • What are some of the questions that will be affected, is their quality noticeably different to ones that aren't affected?
  • Is this StackOverflow only, or all StackExchange sites?
  • Did you have 100 reputation when you asked your 11th question? Did you have 200 reputation when you asked your 21st question? etc.
    – badp
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 10:01


What made SO so rich so fast was the possibility of asking questions, and the answers that came with them, of course. I don't think we should put a cap on what makes SO work.

There's already a system for pruning bad questions: downvoting.

There's already a system for pruning duplicate questions: flagging/closing as duplicate.

Reputation is at best a gimmick, and we make too much of it. If big askers with a large rep score are such a big problem, cap their privileges to answer-earned rep only. Or, make upvotes on questions worth 1 point.

Just don't put a cap on what makes SO rich with knowledge.

  • 3
    The Electorate badge was such a bad incentive to making people upvote all sorts of questions, especially regardless of the quality
    – random
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 18:48
  • @random: I don't know how much of an incentive a badge actually is... I know that's not what motivates me. Also, the Electorate badge is not necessary, IMO.
    – MPelletier
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 19:02
  • 3
    Having gone through SO and seeing so many plz snell the code, non-starters and such with upvotes, some jackaninny is upvoting for the badge.
    – random
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 19:04
  • @random Maybe we should just get rid of it, then. Direct consequence would be that the average question score would be even lower...
    – MPelletier
    Commented Apr 7, 2011 at 18:05


Instead of forbidding low-rep users from asking additional questions, maybe put some checks to affect the rate at which they can ask questions. If a user with no rep asks a question, they must wait n hours/days before asking another question. The more rep they earn for that question or that they have in total, the shorter the wait until they can ask again (and for users with lots of rep that wait would be ~0). This could serve to slow the rate at which poor questions are asked while not being too harsh a punishment for new users who have difficulty earning rep.

I'm just throwing this out there as a less severe alternative. I'd like to see what the community thinks; frankly I'm not sure what I even think of this solution, but I want to try to find a solution rather than just pointing out flaws in proposed solutions.

  • 1
    For this to be effective against you would need the throttling to get down to 1/day or slower. We have question pumps who putter along at a handful of crap questions a week (and maybe once a month a decent question on the stopped clock principle). Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 14:43
  • Current rate is 20 minutes when below 100 rep, but I guess that's enforced to block spam and stop a few crazy ones.
    – Arjan
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 14:45
  • I like the concept of putting the breaks on the questions, rather than stopping them outright. You could do both of course... until you've earned 100pts or earned a question back (1 per day to a max of 10), you can't ask any more.
    – BIBD
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 17:32

Ah, if only we could just get new users to honestly respond to a pre-screening question like, "Do you intend to post scores of poorly-written questions that suck time away from other users and result in answers that will never be useful to anyone but yourself?"

Aaaanyway, I like this idea. It doesn't go out of its way to "punish" users who got stuck on the wrong side of an arbitrary metric. It doesn't place onerous burdens on (or grant scary powers to) the editors, voters, or moderators. It doesn't solve a "big city" Stack Overflow problem at the expense of budding Stack Exchange sites, and it could probably be adjusted easily on a per-site basis if necessary.

...And it does directly address a frustration that has been expressed by concerned members for a long, long time: users who take, take, and take a bit more without ever giving anything back. What's the simplest way to stop users from asking dozens of not-very-useful questions? Stop them from asking any questions at all until they've made those already asked more useful... We already do this for users who post terrible questions, but at some point it's not enough to just avoid being terrible - if you're gonna stick around, you should be trying for good.

But more importantly, it emphasizes something that's often overlooked: voting on questions is very important. Even when it feels like a waste of time, it still adds precious, delicious data to the system... In lieu of that handy "I ask lousy questions" profile checkbox.

  • Until voting is free, or even incented it's unlikely to pick up. I know I won't bother to down-vote a negative question further since it seems not worth the reputation to do so... esp. if the owner is a low or zero rep user. Commented Apr 12, 2011 at 6:07

One significant side effect is that in order to ask a new question, users will delete their old questions. Since 60% of the questions being asked today receive NO upvotes, even though only a fraction of those are really low quality, we would be forcing users to delete reasonable questions when they want to ask new questions.

  • 3
    Except that once a question has at least one upvoted answer, it cannot be deleted by the asker.
    – SLaks
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 17:44
  • 2
    +1 for pointing out the side effect, but as I think about it, given @SLak's comment maybe getting these users to delete eligible weak questions is a desirable behavior. Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 18:10

Apart from “historical questions”, I see no problem with this.

I think more thought needs to be given into what happens with “historical questions” when the user would now not have had enough rep to ask them.

I think it would be lower risk just to leave historical questions alone for now and let any user that don’t have enough rep to ask questions due to their historical questions, have “10 free questions” as a one-off action.


Based on looking at badp's query in his answer, I was questioning whether this was going to address a significant portion of the mediocre questions being asked on a regular basis. The users near that top of his list don't seem to be poster children for the problem facing the site.

However, I took a look at some of what I think are lower-quality questions today in my favorite playground, the [iphone] tag. It's safe to say that the [iphone] and [android] tags are littered with bad questions, due in part to the gold rush in mobile development. If I examine the last few hours of questions, I see these badly formatted, repeat, or otherwise mediocre questions:

Some of these could be salvaged with a little edit work, but you get the idea. I'm not trying to poke fun at these users, just provide some examples of questions that need work.

From this list, 6 of the 10 would have been prevented by this policy (assuming those users did not just create a new account as a workaround). I was surprised at this, but it does seem that the majority of the bad questions in this tag are coming from repeat askers.

Browsing through the questions over the last day, I don't see any false positives (good questions that would have been prevented by this filter), which also surprises me.

Now, the 4 out of the 10 bad questions that were from new users aren't targeted by this. Perhaps a question from a new user that scores highly enough from some bad question heuristics (use of "plz", no uppercase letters, etc.) could be placed in a review queue before posting, like low-reputation edits currently are. I know that we have the /review page, but I wonder if some sort of queue that's as easily accessed as the edit review page could work, with similar approve / deny / edit functionality. Then again, the sheer number of questions coming in might not make this feasible.


This site requires both questions and answers to survive. Experts provide most of the answers, and non-experts provide most of the questions. It's a balance.

It's wise to practice moderation in all things, including moderation. -Jeff Atwood♦

Removing too many questions will offset the balance. We need to remove bad questions, not just all questions of any user that doesn't meet certain heuristics. IMHO, the underlying problem here is lack of voting on questions. Bad questions need to be determined as those that are downvoted, not just those that aren't upvoted. To accomplish this, people shouldn't be as discouraged from downvoting as they currently are. Downvoting is a better punishment for asking bad questions then simply being told "You're not good enough. No more questions for you."

I think the mechanisms behind downvoting need to be rethought.

I support Adam Davis' proposal to allow one free downvote for every two upvotes that a user casts.


Is the situation really that bad it requires such extreme measures? I think that's the question we should ask first.

Such action is like amputating hand or leg to save someone's life... we will lose lots of existing members and lots of potential new members who won't like the idea.

However, I do see the benefit - those who will stay will put "better" questions (or in other words think twice before posting), and the overall quality of the contents will improve.

So, are things really that bad right now? From what I see - No.
True, we're swamped with tons of questions that many times repeat themselves and many of them are bad quality but so far the community is handling this well: bad questions get downvoted and purged after some time. Duplicates are closed. The good questions get upvotes and good answers.

To put some visualization, the forest of Stack Overflow is getting bigger and bigger with more and more small trees that hide the stronger and bigger trees that actually sustain the forest, but those big trees can still be found especially if the forest rangers will nourish them and paint them with bright colors. :)

Bottom line: don't implement such thing yet - it's way too early in my opinion.

  • 7
    Is it really that bad? Come hang out in the PHP tag for a few days. I assure you that even if you know nothing about PHP right now, you'll pick it up in no time flat thanks to the repetitive, low-quality, failed-to-even-glance-at-TFM questions that constantly flow through. While I'm not really convinced that this proposal is a good one, average question quality is a pressing matter.
    – Charles
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 8:42
  • 2
    It is not way too early it is quite late even. Please have a look at the Android tag and you'll come back with another opinion. Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 9:11
  • @Octavian - I roam some tags too (JavaScript, ASP.NET and some more) and see what you and Charles mean however I don't think that such extreme measure as blocking new questions is needed. This is Questions and Answers site after all, so by saying "you can't ask more than 10 questions" we also change the scope of the site. Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 9:18
  • 2
    In my perception the scope of this network always was to gather quality question/answers for the future which right now is not the case (not to the extent I'd like to see). Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 9:20

Instead of 100 rep for next 10 questions from users, I think it is good to have something similar to flagging system.

i.e. To start with, every new user can ask 10 questions. But after those 10 questions, he has to earn some reputation (may be every additional 15 rep points) to ask additional questions.

All these constraint will be available to user until he reaches 500 rep points. After that there will be no limit on asking questions from that user.

  • That would not help to improve the quality but the possibly incorrect just-for-the-rep accepting of answers. On top of that it should not be bound to a certain reputation as I know tons of >500 rep users that ask horrible questions. Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 9:15
  • @Octavian - 500 rep was just an example from my side. It can be increased to any level for actual implementation. This solution is to avoid users from posting dozens of questions and not to improve quality. I agree that this wont improve quality, however this is just first step. Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 9:18

I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, I like the idea of limiting bad questions, but on the other, a strict limit may be counter-productive, specially in the case of very specific (good) questions, which seems to be the main concern by looking at the previous answers.

One alternative is to require positive votes only to those questions that exceed a certain view threshold. Throwing random numbers, questions with less than 20 views and no downvotes may not count towards any limit.

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