I just came to know about this new policy of Stack Overflow.

Sorry, we are no longer accepting questions from this account.

Initially it was funny that people are losing their accounts :-D. But I think it's a very good step to create a clean community.

Honestly saying I did same mistakes like if I got some downvotes for particular question, I deleted that one. And sometimes I asked a question and deleted that question after a while.

So my question is: how can you know that you are quite close to losing your account? Means there will be some kind of progress bar, some threshold value, etc. I hope you are getting what I am trying to say.

It's kind of funny, but seriously I want to know about this.

  • ti's not that new, but fair point.
    – tombull89
    Apr 8, 2011 at 13:14
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    Downvotes, closed questions and deleted posts are an implicit warning, probably? A progress bar would make some abuse until they're in the red zone, I'm afraid.
    – Arjan
    Apr 8, 2011 at 13:16
  • @Arjan: That's one of the things I'm surprisingly patient with enough to just go in and edit, and leave a comment explaining the difference. Apr 8, 2011 at 13:16
  • And comments on posts and on revisions (edit comments) are a warning too! (Courtesy @BoltClock.)
    – Arjan
    Apr 8, 2011 at 13:18
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    If you don't know that you're spoiling you're account with your natural input, then I think there would be a level of ignorance to a 'WARNING' sign anyway. Speeders generally know they're speeding, regardless of a '30mph' sign not being present at every point they pass - others just don't care an iota. Apr 8, 2011 at 13:22
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    @Mr. Disappointment - by your analogy it would be ok to not post the speed limit on the highway and simply take away a person's license for exceeding the (unposted) speed limit. Ok, I know how fast I'm going, but I have no way of telling whether that's too fast for the road or not. There's nothing in the official or meta FAQ (meta.stackexchange.com/questions/7931/…) about losing one's ability to ask questions at all.
    – tvanfosson
    Apr 8, 2011 at 18:20
  • @tvanfosson: Certainly not; on the roads we have laws, on the web we have etiquette. I do believe we ought still inform people of the possibility of features / accounts being revoked, but we don't need to scare-monger them into being good - that wouldn't work anyway. Apr 8, 2011 at 18:24
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    @piemesons: You're not losing your account, just the ability to post more questions. You can still answer questions and, more importantly, fix the questions you've already asked.
    – ale
    Apr 8, 2011 at 18:42
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    The details on a recent ban are a good read. Initially the user claimed (or really thought?) nothing was wrong, and that they received downvotes only twice. Investigating revealed a habit of asking the same question several times an hour apart until getting an answer, and 207 deleted questions, most of which had downvotes. Many of the remaining 250 questions were edited by others. Would such user really not understand that something was wrong?
    – Arjan
    Apr 8, 2011 at 21:21
  • Though maybe deleted questions go unnoticed: some are automatically deleted after some time, and the author might be oblivious about what happened, and cannot see them just like self-deleted questions are no longer visible.
    – Arjan
    Apr 9, 2011 at 7:21
  • @fretje, it looks like you've voted to close at least nine different questions as duplicates of "Sorry, we are no longer accepting questions from this account" recently. Just wanted to let you know that I, for one, appreciate the effort.
    – Pops
    Apr 12, 2011 at 21:25
  • @Pop: No problemo! As long as more people vote to close those, before the close votes expire again! ;-)
    – fretje
    Apr 12, 2011 at 22:27

3 Answers 3


A customer friendly site should warn you before you go off the cliff, not after. It should also provide some detailed instructions on how to avoid going off the cliff, and in fact get further away from the cliff, when you start to approach it. I'd like to see a red zone where, if you stray over, the account is shut off and a yellow zone, where you are made aware that there's a problem and that if you ask too many more questions without moving to safety your account will be shut off. Once you're in the yellow zone you should get a nice banner when the question asking interface is shown indicating why you are in the yellow zone and some specific direction on how to get back to safety.

  • 2
    Actually by providing these numbers users can abuse it to misbehave, but not enough to get automatically suspended. If you see receive a lot of downvotes and see questions closed that should be a clear red flag that you're doing it wrong. Besides, I even doubt how many users would try to improve enough to have their questions allowed.
    – Ivo Flipse
    Apr 9, 2011 at 5:20
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    @Ivo - I'm not suggesting that we provide numbers. I'm suggesting that some warning be given. If people don't heed the warning then they have no excuse. If they've never been given any warning or even an indication that an account could be closed to new questions, they have a legitimate complaint.
    – tvanfosson
    Apr 9, 2011 at 13:43
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    That's what I'm saying: they get warnings from things like closed, downvoted or even deleted questions. If this message isn't clear to them, then they obviously don't understand how to use the site or don't know how to improve. In both cases I don't think they deserve any more help without putting in some effort themselves.
    – Ivo Flipse
    Apr 9, 2011 at 14:38
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    @Ivo - You interpret them as warnings because you know the outcome. Pretend for a minute that you didn't already know that downvoted or closed questions would result in you getting your account cut off, why would you interpret them as warnings. Particularly, when -- as I typically see -- the problems are mainly with non-native English speakers. They may simply view it as a commentary on their English skills, which they already know they have problems with. They may just view it as the price they have to pay to get answers despite the language issues and not be aware what they risk losing.
    – tvanfosson
    Apr 9, 2011 at 16:23
  • While I know how it feels to have problems writing in foreign languages, at some point they're either going to have to improve their English or we will have to stop them from asking any more questions if they need too much help to be answerable. As for warning them, if they are unable to improve there is no way for us to help them. The best solution would be localized versions of Stack Overflow, however I fear this will also make a lot of users who are capable of speaking English to flock to those sites.
    – Ivo Flipse
    Apr 9, 2011 at 16:32
  • I do get your point that, given my experience with the site, I'm biased on how obvious these 'warnings' are. But we can't help everyone and users also have to be willing to meet us halfway. I believe you have to mess up pretty badly to get locked out, so I don't have any sympathy for those who do.
    – Ivo Flipse
    Apr 9, 2011 at 16:40
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    I have a feeling Jeff Atwood wants these people to drive off the cliff! (To put it more prosaically, he'd rather really low-quality users leave the web site than improve and be merely somewhat low-quality users) See also en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:GIANTDICK May 26, 2011 at 5:32
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    I also received a ban after having no clue and feel completely blindsided. If I would have known I was close to being I would have taken more time to research my questions before posting. But it does absolutely no good to ban me before I know this is in place. Not saying it needs to be extravagent but their needs to be some type of warning that you are in danger and need to watch it. So pissed right now.
    – B Woods
    Jan 12, 2012 at 15:52
  • I think there is a visible warning, your 'reputation', maybe it should start to be forced in a downward direction more quickly? Or judged by downvotes over time (I guess someone with a high reputation could suddenly loose the plot, or dissappear for a long time and on returning not be up to the same standard for whatever reason).
    – DaveM
    May 23, 2012 at 13:08
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    This site is ridiculous. Most forums don't bother with banning or other disciplinary measures except when posters insult one another or violate unanbiguous rules for behavior. It's all very well to say that being downvoted or having a question closed are implicit warnings to the about-to-be-banned, but what if you don't realize you're supposed to keep track? I participate in many fora and drop in here only occasionally, not enough to know I could be voted off the island like on "Survivor".
    – user382459
    Mar 26, 2013 at 0:59
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    To continue if I may: The page you link to when the user finds out they're banned says that first of all we should go back and edit our posts. But what is the point of editing a post I made two years ago? I thoughnt this was a simple question, answer, and discussion site--you know, try to post relevant comments, don't call other posters jerks, and so on, and I'd be fine. I wasn't expecting an RPG in which the users are subjected to banning-by-computer.
    – user382459
    Mar 26, 2013 at 1:11

There is no visible warning as far as I know. There are some indicators that you are doing something wrong and are in danger of being locked out of asking. If a majority of your questions

  • receive multiple downvotes
  • are closed as "Not a real question" or "Off-topic"
  • are edited heavily by other community members
  • get comments asking for clarification because your question is unclear

Downvotes are the most reliable indicator, as the algorithm that locks you out is mostly based on them, AFAIK. But all of these factors show that the community thinks you're asking low-quality questions and you should try to improve them.

  • 8
    As far as I can tell, though, there's no indication that an account even could be closed in the FAQ or anywhere that a new user would be able see easily. You'd have to already be familiar with meta to be able to even know that you ought to be concerned with this.
    – tvanfosson
    Apr 8, 2011 at 18:06
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    Most of my questions, or at least the ones that I can see, have zero points; I don't know if any of them used to have more. If I'd stop to think about rep points at all, I would have assumed it's something I could work on if I really wanted to, and the reward for a high rep score would be lots of kudos or the chance to become a moderator. Or whatever. I honestly didn't realize I had to watch my points to justify my existence here.
    – user382459
    Mar 26, 2013 at 1:22

The user should be told at the soonest opportunity that low quality questions are not acceptable.

There is something seriously wrong with the way the low quality ban is done. Yes the user can see that they are getting negative feedback - but they have no idea whatsoever that continued negative feedback will result in a ban. This is the missing piece - they have no idea what is around the corner.

Why not pop up one of those info bar messages as soon as a new user gets any downvoted/closed/deleted question? Tell them directly something along the lines of "Please be aware that your may be prevented from asking further questions if you continue to post low quality questions"

You wont be giving away the algorithm for the low quality ban if you show this message to any low rep or new user who has any negative feedback. (Because you are showing the warning long before the ban algorithm kicks in).

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