Why am I getting this message?
As stated in the about links on every page, Stack Exchange is a network of question and answer sites, not help forums. This implies that all posts are expected to have value for later visitors, in addition to helping the asker. To enforce that, and to prevent help vampires from making the answerers turn away the community, low-quality questions and answers are blocked. This includes posts from:
- users who can't be bothered to form sentences
- users who don't do the most basic kinds of research themselves
- users who barely even explain what it is they are trying to do
An automatic filter is in place to ban questions and/or answers from IP addresses or accounts with a history of extremely poor posts.
To avoid bypassing the filter, its internal rules are a secret, but it is partly based on downvotes cast by other members of the community. If the other members of the site consistently give your posts a low ranking, you should try to identify the reason(s) for this.
Once you have posted too many poorly-received questions or answers, you will be banned from posting more, and you will see the error message.
If a post was poorly-received (downvoted or closed), that will continue to count against your account even if the post is deleted! Whenever possible, try to fix posts instead of deleting them.
Additionally, deletion itself counts against questions less than 30 days old when deleted if others have invested time into answering or moderating the question.
Finally, deleted answers always count toward an automatic ban on new accounts.
It's not a problem to have deleted posts, but if a large percentage of your posts are deleted by yourself or the community, then they are likely not suitable for the site. Posting them consumes time from users who read them, edit them, or respond to them. Therefore, deleted posts, among many other factors, can cause the filter to affect you.
Be aware that an account might very well have many deleted posts, including auto-deleted old low-score questions, all of which can only be searched for by moderators.
How can I find my deleted posts?
Existing links to your deleted questions and answers will still work. You might be able to find links to your deleted posts from a bookmark you kept in your browser, or from your browser history.
You can find your deleted questions, but only those from the last 60 days, with the 'deleted recent questions' link at the bottom of the questions tab in your profile. Users with 10k reputation can use the following search query to view all their deleted questions:
user:me deleted:yes is:question. A similar procedure works for recently deleted answers; the search query for 10k users is
user:me deleted:yes is:answer.
Is a question/answer ban the same as a suspension?
No, a suspension is a manual, temporary penalty during which a user cannot ask questions, or post answers. All other privileges, including commenting and voting, are also revoked by temporarily setting your reputation to 1. Such suspension is publicly visible to other users.
A post ban is enforced automatically, and only prevents posting questions or answers. It is invisible to others.
How do I avoid getting a question ban?
Questions are expected to have value for later visitors, in addition to helping the asker. So, if many of your questions aren't answered, or are downvoted, closed, or deleted (by you or the community), then they didn't meet the expected quality. Be sure to understand why those things happens, and learn from them. Don't simply repost the same question again.
If you're not sure what qualifies as a "good question", there are some hints and tips available:
- How to Ask from the Stack Overflow Help Center
- Writing the perfect question by Jon Skeet
- How to Ask Questions The Smart Way by Eric S. Raymond
- Getting Answers by Mike Ash
Questions which are cleanly formatted tend to be received better than ones which are unformatted, poorly formatted, over-use formatting, or use formatting types contrary to their intended use (e.g. using code formatting for emphasis). In particular, be sure to:
- Format code, errors, and data as text (using code formatting).
- Do not use images for text-based information (code, errors, data, etc.). Images can sometimes provide good supplementary information, but they should not be used for the purpose of including text-based information in your question.
- Indent your code and use one indenting style consistently throughout your code. It doesn't really matter which style your choose (although, for some languages, some styles are more appropriate than others). Pick a style and use it consistently for all code in a single project/question.
Not doing any of the above makes it very likely that a question will be received poorly.
To learn about formatting:
How long do I have to wait before I can post again? What can I do to release the ban? How can I reactivate my account?
Automatic bans never expire or "time out". This means that you cannot simply wait for a certain amount of time. If you do not take action, you will never be allowed to post again. The only way for the ban to be lifted is by contributing positively to the site.
Before you do anything else, fix your existing posts! As noted above, downvotes cast by the rest of the community factor into the ban - so the single best thing you can do to get it lifted is to address any objections raised by others. Were your past questions unclear? Did they fail to show any effort on your part? Formatted or titled poorly? Too long or too short? Then fix them!
Note the emphasis on fixing. Do not delete your posts. As explained above, deleted questions (if less than 30 days old when deleted) do still count toward the question ban. Deleting your posts does not help to lift the ban. Only fixing does!
If you're unable to improve your existing questions, you'll get the chance to ask one new one six months after your last question. If that question is positively received, you may be able to continue asking questions; if not, then the ban will be reinstated, and you'll have to wait another six months to ask your next question.
Moderators cannot lift the ban, so don't bother to ask. The only way for the ban to be lifted is for you to start contributing positively to the site.
If you are banned from asking questions, contributing quality answers that get upvoted might enable you to ask questions again. However, as the internals of the filter are secret, there is no way to know for sure.
Can I simply create a new account?
You could create a new account, but doing so violates the rules for operating multiple accounts - namely, it allows you to do something you would otherwise be restricted from doing. Penalties for violating this restriction can vary:
- Your accounts may be deleted without warning.
- You and others on your network may find your questions are shown to fewer potential answerers or subjected to preemptive review when posted.
- You and others on your network may be prevented from asking questions entirely.
- If you opt to delete your account and then later return to the site, your ability to ask questions may be limited to one question per week until you have demonstrated an ability to ask useful questions.
I'll just ask somewhere else on the SE network, and they'll migrate my question to the correct site!
Migrations are not possible if your account is banned from asking questions on the destination site. The question will simply be closed as off-topic, but not migrated.