There is an automatic answer ban mechanism that stops users from posting many low-quality answers. However, I'm pretty sure users automatically get immunity from the answer ban if their reputation is sufficiently high.

Is this true? If so, it seems to me to be a uniquely bad decision for this particular site, because it is relatively easy to get above this reputation threshold by, e.g. answering questions about Newtonian mechanics, then use the immunity to post bad answers about modern physics. Can we change this?

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    $\begingroup$ I agree that this is a problem (and there are objective measures that suggest that the problem is unique to this site, despite the plausibility of similar behaviour on, say, biology / maths / skeptics / etc) but I don't think automated measures are the right approach ─ I don't think they can work well enough to solve the problem, and I don't think they're a solution we should rely on, either. $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty Jun 13 '18 at 14:02
  • $\begingroup$ And, in any case, the rep cutoff for the answer ban is legitimately kept secret to discourage gaming of the mechanism; it's unlikely that we'll be able to find any additional information (or enact any changes) without direct engagement from the SE team. $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty Jun 13 '18 at 14:09
  • $\begingroup$ How sure are you? $\endgroup$ – Kyle Kanos Jun 13 '18 at 23:37
  • $\begingroup$ what's wrong with commenting on why an answer is bad and downvoting this answer? It seems to be there is a lot of value in indicating how someone may have answered a question wrong. $\endgroup$ – ZeroTheHero Jun 15 '18 at 13:22
  • $\begingroup$ They should work on the immunity for posting comments first, if there is one. There's a 'flag limit' with a formula to prevent bad flagging and I don't doubt the Q/A immunity but the 'read a paragraph, post a comment' and 'I don't understand the concept of context, I'll nitpick a word/sentence' styled comments have to go. I've had to tell a few people that I spent so much time with one person that it's taken away time that would have been available for them. I should have pointed the first person to the 'Be nice' policy instead of being so observant of it myself. $\endgroup$ – Rob Jun 17 '18 at 0:51
  • $\begingroup$ @Rob I'm not sure what you mean by "immunity for posting comments". But I'd warn you against failing to "be nice" - if you post something rude, the fact that it may be in response to a rude post from someone else is no defense. You can point other people to the policy while still observing it yourself. $\endgroup$ – David Z Jun 17 '18 at 6:43
  • $\begingroup$ @DavidZ $\endgroup$ – Rob Jun 17 '18 at 10:26
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    $\begingroup$ @Countto10 you could always just create bounties on posts and keep your rep level low (or at least until you feel you've earned it rightly ( $\endgroup$ – Kyle Kanos Jun 18 '18 at 14:34
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    $\begingroup$ @Countto10 If you don't want reputation for answering simple questions, don't answer simple questions. If you want to be here, stay; and if you want to leave, please don't come back. There are multiple reasons deleting your account and starting anew is bad practice. For example, your questions and comments stay, but they are not linked to your account anymore, so you don't get notified when someone pings you; and you cannot be held responsible for something you said. Your voting is undone. Etc. Thank you for your collaboration. $\endgroup$ – AccidentalFourierTransform Jun 18 '18 at 17:11
  • $\begingroup$ @AccidentalFourierTransform. Thank you for your comment. I do genuinely accept your point and I see now that I still have a lot to learn about site etiquette and the consequences of withdrawal, whatever the reasons behind it. I have deleted my comment as many may find it offensive. Regards. $\endgroup$ – user198207 Jun 18 '18 at 22:09
  • $\begingroup$ @Countto10 Nobody found it offensive, we all know you're a good person and do things in good faith. I just wish you didn't delete your account, that's all. $\endgroup$ – AccidentalFourierTransform Jun 19 '18 at 0:00
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    $\begingroup$ @Countto10 This is a good moment to register on the record that I've observed an account named Countto10 being deleted and re-created multiple times, and that I've been intensely annoyed at the fact each time it's happened. The only thing it accomplishes is making it harder to track your contributions to the site and your previous interactions with other users; it simply looks like you're trying to hide bad behaviour and it is not a good look, regardless of what your actual reasons for the behaviour are. Please do not repeat it. $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty Jun 19 '18 at 0:29
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    $\begingroup$ Also, note that a comment that details problematic behaviour isn't 'offensive' - it's the behaviour that's problematic, not the (positive) fact that at least you admit to it. Responding to that with further deletion of information (in this case, a comment in an ongoing and relevant conversation) isn't great, either. $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty Jun 19 '18 at 0:31

Greetings from one of your human exception handlers! If you think that there's a user who needs some intervention to produce better-quality content, and you suspect that intervention is not coming in the form of an automatic answer ban, please raise a custom flag on a typical post of theirs to guide our attention to it.

We have acted on this type of situation in the past, but because we keep such actions private (as best we can) you may not have noticed.


I've never seen or heard anything about a reputation threshold above which a user is immune from the answer ban. Nor have I seen any reason to suspect that there is one. Of course, there could be such a threshold which we don't know about because the criteria are kept secret.

If it looks like there is a threshold, that's probably only because the low-quality answer ban is specifically targeted at users with an extremely poor track record of posting answers. I've understood that to mean not just having more downvoted answers than upvoted answers, but having an overwhelming majority of their answers downvoted and/or deleted. I would expect that once a person has accumulated a decent amount of rep (maybe a few hundred?), they necessarily have to have enough undeleted upvoted answers that they are exceedingly unlikely to meet the quality ban criteria on that basis alone.


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