Note: This is a response to, an alternate proposal, for Should we require minimum reputation to continue asking questions?

OK, I realize this is a radical idea, but here goes:

When a user drops below a certain rep ratio for their questions, they should be blocked from asking further questions. To get their question asking privileges back, they must service the community by moderator flagging bad posts.

Hold on, stay with me. This serves several purposes:

  1. It relieves some of the flag and downvote fatigue that seems to be occurring lately with the 10K users.
  2. It marshals a vast army of users ready (and motivated) to find all of those pesky bad questions and answers for us.
  3. It gets the attention of the marginal question asker (in much the same way that a suspension does, but in a far more productive way).
  4. Most importantly, it "encourages" the marginal question asker to deliberately learn the site, what the site is about (it is not a forum), how the site works, and what constitutes good and bad questions and answers, and why.

This is the functional equivalent of making someone do the dishes at a restaurant, because they forgot to bring their wallet.

I'll leave the implementation details up to you. But I'm not opposed to all users earning a small amount of rep for good flags (say 2 rep) and losing a small amount for bad flags (say 1 rep).

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    This could turn out to be my lowest-voted meta post ever. Go downvoters go! Where are you guys when we need you for all those marginal questions people keep posting on StackOverflow? You certainly seem to be motivated here. :) – user102937 Apr 6 '11 at 23:35
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    I don't know about other MSO users, but I don't visit SO nearly as often as MSO--but I assure you, I downvote on SO whenever I see a bad post. – waiwai933 Apr 6 '11 at 23:37
  • I think "community service" is a better description than "junior janitorial work". – Gabe Apr 6 '11 at 23:39
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    I find the idea interesting, but I'm with @waiwai: Incompetent askers will be incompetent flaggers. There would have to be social workers to monitor the community service. – Pekka Apr 6 '11 at 23:42
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    @Pekka: But, we already have those! They're the moderators who respond to the flags! Thanks, Robert, for volunteering to shepherd these sinners along their path to salvation! – Shog9 Apr 7 '11 at 0:13
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    Can they start by flagging they're own questions? – Aleadam Apr 7 '11 at 2:22
  • You are asking the goats to watch over the vegetable garden. Won't work. – sbi Apr 7 '11 at 12:57
  • When you say "rep ratio" do you mean upvotes to downvotes or upvotes to posts? – Michael McGowan Apr 7 '11 at 19:26
  • @Michael: Upvotes to posts. Generally speaking, for every three questions you post, you should have a net gain of at least 1 upvote. – user102937 Apr 7 '11 at 19:30

They'll just start randomly flagging -> Which gives the mods a lot more work... which has been a problem in recent weeks since the introduction of flag weight and the deputy badge... which makes this a bad idea. The type of user who makes no effort to ask a good question is also the type of user who will do the minimal required to comply--which means they'll see the word "flag" and go on a flag rampage.

  • Most of the flags that have been thrown at the mods on StackOverflow since the flag weight and deputy badge were introduced are good flags. I call that a good problem. – user102937 Apr 6 '11 at 23:37
  • @Robert From what I'm hearing (which may not be true at all), it's not the quality of the flags, it's just that there are so many that the worst posts are not being attended to right away (in the past, they were the only posts flagged) because of the sheer number of flags. But I could be completely wrong, seeing as you being a mod know a lot more about the specifics than I do. – waiwai933 Apr 6 '11 at 23:39
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    The flags on StackOverflow number in the hundreds per day. There are about four really active mods (including myself). I'd be surprised if any flag stays around more than 24 hours. – user102937 Apr 6 '11 at 23:42
  • You should see what happens to your flags when you start casting random flags, I'm sure we won't see them very long. – Ivo Flipse Apr 6 '11 at 23:44
  • @Robert If there are only four active mods, it sounds like a partial solution would be to get more mods, right? Or is that a whole lot more difficult than it sounds? – Michael McGowan Apr 7 '11 at 1:41

I don't think this will work. I envision the likely scenario as follows:

  1. New, novice user signs up for SO
  2. User asks legit questions that do not get upvotes
  3. User learns he cannot ask any more questions
  4. User quits SO forever

I really don't think many users are going to perform janitorial work in order to ask for questions.

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    You may be right. I would consider this experiment a success if you could convert 5% of such users to good, law-abiding Stackizens. – user102937 Apr 6 '11 at 23:39
  • @Robert Harvey But wouldn't that imply you've converted the other 95% to being users of Experts Exchange or other competitors? – Michael McGowan Apr 7 '11 at 16:38
  • Yes. Let the users who can't find the time or effort to follow our simple format get their solutions from Yahoo Answers. – user102937 Apr 7 '11 at 16:42
  • @Robert Harvey I guess we differ in that I think the questions we are talking about are not just from people that can't be bothered to use formatting or proper English. I think there is a strong risk of losing users with questions that do deserve to be on SO. If a user averages one upvote and zero downvotes per question for instance, I don't see why he should have to go to extraordinary effort to continue posting questions. – Michael McGowan Apr 7 '11 at 16:57
  • I would be in favor of an automated "hold" on a user's account, while a moderator reviews it, and clears the hold if it is warranted. – user102937 Apr 7 '11 at 17:40

Another possible way to implement this would be to piggy-back on the flag-weight system already in place. Once a user reaches the "blocked from asking" threshold, set their flag weight back to 100. Make it so they need to get to 500 (negotiable) before they're allowed to ask questions again. If they reach a flag weight of 0, their flags are suppressed and we don't have their noise in the moderator queue any more.

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