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rschrieken/post-ban.md Secret

Last active Feb 14, 2018
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Update for https://meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/255583 What can I do when getting “We are no longer accepting questions/answers from this account”?

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?

Read the pages in the Help Center, particularly those about asking and the Stack Exchange model. Investigate and search before you ask. Put effort into your questions.

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:

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.

@surajrao

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@surajrao surajrao commented Feb 10, 2018

some of the offsite links may need to be changed to https(those which have the support). Or find a suitable replacement?

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@rschrieken rschrieken commented Feb 10, 2018

@surajrao I've edit the ones that support https,

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@makyen makyen commented Feb 10, 2018

The second sentence (and again later in the file): "This implies that all posts are expected to have some value for later visitors too" should not have the "too". Alternately, it could explain it (something like): "This implies that all posts are expected to have value for later visitors, in addition to helping the asker." You could also remove "some".

"making the answerers turn away from the communities" I wouldn't have "communities" plural, but it's OK plural. Having it singular tends to imply cohesiveness for SE overall, instead of division between sites (for those reading with an SO focus, it also tends to fit better for just SO). Singular also matches with "is a network", instead of "sites", which is not the intended subject. In another context, I'd keep it plural, if stressing the difference between the communities, but here we're talking about something that's the same for the network, not different for the sites. Hmmm.. looks like "communities" is used in "downvotes cast by other members of the communities". I'd make it singular there too.

"Beware that an account" should be "Be aware that an account"

I expect to have more, but I'm being called afk.

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@makyen makyen commented Feb 10, 2018

I'm assuming that you want comments for the entire page, not just the parts you changed. Thus, my comments aren't restricted to just the changes.

Your EDITOR NOTE re: answers & support desk:
I agree with leaving out the support desk. We could include something about answering. If so, then it should be made clear that from the metric used it helps, but not that much. On the other hand, having them answer questions gets them more familiar with the site, formatting, and seeing examples of what questions are well received and those that are received poorly. Overall, I'd consider it beneficial to mention answering questions, but be sure to be clear that it only changes the metric a little wrt. being question banned.

Hmmm... side question: Would the user be better off undeleting questions and leaving them on the site for a total visibility time of >30 days and then re-deleting, even if the additional visibility resulted in more down-votes. [Don't put this in. It's just a system gaming question I had when reading this again.]

Your EDITOR NOTE re: "automatic ban is at [a lower level than account":
Re: lower level text & link on MSE: I wouldn't use it. The link which mentions IP blocks brings up multiple questions, particularly with dynamic IPs.

Can I simply create a new account:
I wouldn't start with "Yes,". It's too affirmative, and implies that they should go ahead and do it. I'd restate the heading. Something like: "You could create a new account, but doing so violates the rules for operating multiple accounts..."

"To learn about formatting:" I'd suggest adding a little bit of explanation. Something like:


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 instead of text 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). But, pick one 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 poorly received.

To learn about formatting:

...


"down-vote" and "downvote" are used inconsistently. Either hyphenate, or not, but the entire page should be consistent.

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@makyen makyen commented Feb 10, 2018

Minor spelling: 1st paragraph: "communitiy" should be "community"

Minor grammar: "So if many of your questions" should be "So, if many of your questions"

Hmm.. actually for the above: "So if many of your questions do not get any answer, are .." should be "So, if many of your questions don't get an answer, are .." or more fully/better: "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 required quality." [Contractions, or not, is more of a tone thing. While there are multiple places in the text that contractions could be used, these stood out to me by not being used here. Perhaps because a contraction is used later in the paragraph.]

"##How can I find my deleted posts?" Shows without header formatting here on GitHub, but should be fine on MSO. This is a difference in Markdown parsing. GitHub requires a space between the ## and the header text, but SE does not. Thus, it shouldn't be a problem once moved to MSO.

I'd change "If you have kept a bookmark in your browser, or the link to the question is still available in your browser history, the link will still work and allow you to view and edit the post." to something like: "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." [The current text implies a cause/effect relationship that doesn't exist.]

I'd change "A user can find his/her deleted questions, but only those from the last 60 days, with the 'deleted recent questions' link at the bottom of the questions tab in his/her profile." to "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." In the rest of the text, it address the reader in the 2nd person, "you", switching to the 3rd person, "his/her", for this paragraph is strange.

"Put some effort in your questions." should be "Put effort into your questions."

"The only way for the ban to be lifted is by contributing positively to the site in other ways." should be just "The only way for the ban to be lifted is by contributing positively to the site." Saying "in other ways" implies that there are significant ways to affect the ban other than fixing/asking questions, which we're later indicating isn't really the case (i.e. answers have minimal effect).

"if not, then the ban will be reinstated." add: "if not, then the ban will be reinstated, and you'll have to wait another 6 months to ask your next question."

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@Tyler-H Tyler-H commented Feb 14, 2018

"sites" in the first sentence should probably not be italicized.

"help vampires" should be followed immediately by the word "from".

"To avoid bypassing the filter" should be followed by a comma.

The link "less than 30 days old when deleted" should have the preceding 'if' deleted.

"towards" should be changed to "toward" in the line about deleting answers always counting against you.

Consider changing "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 apparently they are not suitable for the site. Posting them consumes time from users who read them, edit them, or respond to them. Therefore deleted posts have an effect on the filter, among many other factors." to:

"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."

"nor post answers" is technically acceptable, but replacing "nor" with "or" would be easier flow to comprehend when reading, in my opinion.

In "temporarily setting the reputation to 1", the "the" is a bit ambiguous. I recommend changing "the" to "the user's" or "your" (I've not been paying attention to the style of the post WRT -person.

"Put effort in your questions." Replacing "in" with "into" works better here.

"then they didn't meet the required quality" the word "required" here should probably be "expected" instead. I know what we are going for with this post being the FAQ for question bans, but you can have many unanswered, downvoted, or deleted questions and still not be banned, depending on the user and the quality/quantity of the rest of your questions, so "required" doesn't technically fit from my perspective.

In "Be sure to understand why that happens, and learn from that", the instances of "that" are ambiguous. I suggest replacing the first "that" with "those things" (to refer directly back to the list of negative events in the previous sentence), and replacing the second "that" with "them".

The bullet point "Do not use images instead of text" is awkward, at least from a native English perspective. It flows much better if you remove the "instead of text" fragment, and just say "Do not use images". It also becomes more technically accurate because it removes the loophole of allowing images instead of things other than text.

The second instance of "text based" in the same bullet point is missing a hyphen. It should be "text-based".

In the following bullet point, "But, pick one and use it consistently for all code in a single project/question.", the "But," is unnecessary and technically incorrect. Just start with "Pick one" or "Pick a style" if you want to be less vague.

In "a question will be poorly received", the sentence should technically end "poorly-received" in its current form. If you don't want to use a hyphen, transpose the two words to "received poorly".

In 'Automatic bans never expire or "time out."', the period should be moved outside the quotation marks. This is a modern style, but we are programmers, after all!

"Poorly worded, titled, formatted, and overly long or short?" each word here should be hyphenated. E.g. "Poorly-worded, -titled, -formatted, and overly-long or -short?" Either way this list is a bit excessive. I would recommend rephrasing for freshness: "Formatted or titled poorly? Too long or too short?"

" do still count towards the question ban" Again, "towards" -> "toward". A general tip for when you have a directional word ending in 'ward', you shouldn't add 's'. Toward, forward, backward, onward, upward, etc. The forms ending in 's' are acceptable like 'literally' is accepted to mean 'figuratively' today (aka erroneously).

In the following paragraph beginning "If you're unable to improve your existing questions", you should spell out both instances of "6" to "six". This is just general best practice that you should always spell out numbers less than 10 (or 100, depending on who you ask).

"But as the internals of the filter are secret, there is no way to know for sure." Again, this should begin with a word other than "But". "However," would work (just be sure to remember the comma).

In the final sentence, "off topic" should by hyphenated: "off-topic".

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