A week or so ago I read Optimizing for Pearls, Not Sand and as more of an answerer than asker, I rejoiced at the new questions-per-day limit. Considering the time it takes to ask quality questions, 6 per day seemed quite reasonable. For some people it seems more convenient to pop off a half baked question on SE than figure out the answer themselves. The result is large numbers of low quality questions. I would rather they saved their question asking privileges for things that really were really puzzling and needed solving. When the question title copy-pasted into google shows the correct answer in the summary of the first result...well you get the idea.

Then today on unix.SE, we had a rash of questions from a user that's known for ... well ... let's just say about a third of his questions garner more downvotes than up and many have had to be closed. I counted them up and there seem to be 17 questions in less than 48 hours. How is that possible?

  • 3
    There were complaints about the monthly limits already, so that seems to be in effect. It could be that it is only enabled on Stackoverflow yet. Jun 17, 2011 at 11:49
  • 3
    I suspect the question limit has only been enabled on the busiest sites.
    – Pollyanna
    Jun 17, 2011 at 11:50
  • @Fabion: I saw the question here in meta about the monthly limit, but perhaps that is enforced separately from the daily one ... or I don't know how to calculate days!
    – Caleb
    Jun 17, 2011 at 11:51
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    @Adam: At the rate this one guy is asking questions, unix.SE will shortly become one of the busiest sites!
    – Caleb
    Jun 17, 2011 at 11:52
  • @Caleb Yeah, he's really going at it.
    – Pollyanna
    Jun 17, 2011 at 12:30
  • 1
    I count 14 questions just since 0:00 UTC today. @Adam's hunch is probably correct.
    – mmyers
    Jun 17, 2011 at 15:01
  • Wasn't it a "monthly question limit" with per-day number worked out for convenience? So when he hits 50 questions he shouldn't be able to ask more for 30 days. Assuming Adam's wrong and this is enabled across SE. :)
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Jun 18, 2011 at 14:53
  • 118 questions in 54 days, just over 2 a day. That's not horrible, and it seems he has decent scores on most of his questions. I think their problem is they aren't doing any of their own research. Most of his questions look like "General Reference" on google.
    – user7116
    Jun 18, 2011 at 15:45

4 Answers 4


That limit is only enabled on the SOFU trilogy for now, that is, sites that regularly get 100+ questions per day. (Stack Overflow alone gets 3.5k+ per day..)

Our thinking was that on smaller sites, this should be handled by the site moderators on a case by case basis, rather than through an algorithm.

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    On the small sites, such floods of posts from single users is even more frustrating! The user in question managed to entirely flood the first page of questions, and it took a couple days to get the few good ones upvoted and the others fixed, downvoted or closed and for some new questions to filter in to restore balance to the universe. Ok I'm being dramatic, but it seems like this would be a good rule even on smaller sites to help abusers understand that asking is a privilege.
    – Caleb
    Jun 19, 2011 at 19:44
  • @Caleb: We're having the same problem now on Cognitive Sciences which is still in private beta. Jan 23, 2012 at 16:15
  • The limit is now active also on Mathematics - this is explicitly mentioned in The Complete Rate-Limiting Guide. (Since some users might still be using this old post as a reference for the status of the limit, I thought that it is worth mentioning this at least in a comment.)
    – Martin
    Nov 21, 2021 at 11:29

The moderators over at ELL would like to request that the rate limit be enabled for our site. A common pattern seems to be that users, in their eagerness to learn English (which is a good thing!) will post lots of questions back-to-back, and exceed the rate limit. Enabling the rate limit automatically will have several benefits:

  1. If you know you only have 6 questions per day, you're likely to think a little bit more before you post them. Did I really try hard enough to figure this out on my own? Maybe I can find the answer to this one somewhere else, and save my questions for something else.
  2. If the system takes care of this automatically, we won't have to direct users to meta posts asking them to slow down and consider what they're doing, or mod message them. Receiving a mod message for trying to ask questions could make a user feel bad; hitting an automatic system limit is a far less upsetting experience. I didn't know this was a rule; if you're not supposed to post this many questions, why did the site let me?
  3. It prevents the problem before it happens. One of the reasons for having the rate limit (I believe) was so that one user's questions couldn't take over the majority of the New Questions page, forcing other users' questions to page 2 and lower visibility. A comment or mod message after the fact asks a user not to repeat the behavior, but doesn't do anything about the over-limit questions that have already been asked. You're playing catch-up to the problem each time it occurs.

In short, since we have noticed a recurring pattern on ELL of the rate limit being exceeded, we would appreciate it if it could be enabled on our site. It would stop the problem before it occurs and improve user experience as a whole.

  • 4
    Good write-up. Can you post this as a fr on your meta, please?
    – Shog9
    Aug 3, 2013 at 23:56
  • @Shog9 Done; you can find it here. Thanks!
    – WendiKidd
    Aug 4, 2013 at 0:00

The question limit rate is only active on Stack Overflow at the moment, as far as I know. I don't know why: I don't see a reason why Stack Overflow should allow fewer questions than other sites.

Some of his questions could be closed as general reference, if we had it. I'm not enthusiastic about general reference though, because I fear abuse. This particular user knows how to read a man page, but we cater to all levels, so I wouldn't want every question whose answer is buried in the manual somewhere to be closed.

I don't mind his question quantity, what I mind is his question quality. Some of his questions are very interesting, others are boring, but they're consistently badly written. This is our first persistent bad asker on U&L, maybe we should have been less accommodating. After >150 questions, you'd think he'd have figured out to write complete sentences, present his posts decently, use relevant tags, but no.

He asks good questions often enough that I don't want him banned. But he needs to make some effort. He doesn't care about reputation (every time he gets past a few hundred, he puts it all in a bounty). Is there a way we can pressure him into asking better?

  • Could we perhaps rate limit based on the average score of his questions? I'm one of those people that ask a lot of questions (hit the 6 question cap), but ~75% of my questions have 1+ votes, so they're not too awful. Once in awhile I slip up, but I usually try to clean up my own mess once I clue in :-)
    – mpen
    Feb 26, 2013 at 19:34

It's a great rule. Helped me think my answer first before bothering everyone.

The limit is still high though. You can ask 50 questions per 30 days. Should be enough for everyone.

  • If you're asking really in-depth well thought out questions, sure, that should be plenty. But I find that anything substantially complex doesn't get answered at all, and thus SO is actually better suited for simple questions. I sometimes ask questions that would have taken maybe 30 minutes to solve on my own, but I know that by asking it I can get an answer in less than 5 because there are hundreds or thousands of people out there that already know it and are just dying to share their knowledge. I get my answer quick, they get upvotes, and the next Googler finds the exact solution to his prob
    – mpen
    Feb 26, 2013 at 19:40

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