# How is the suspension due to low quality contributions being decided?

According to this answer, it is generally tied to a large number of downvoted/closed questions.

Does the suspended person gets a warning before the ban?

What is the limit, where is the point where it happens?

What are the typical suspension times for this offense?

This post is not about the automatic Q/A ban, but about the temporary suspensions with the reason "for low quality contributions". These are essentially different things, the Q/A ban is automatic (on unknown rules), while suspension can be given manually by the mods.

Since the automatic question/answer limitations went into place in 2017, it has been quite rare for the moderators to issue manual suspensions for low-quality contributions. I haven't double-checked but I think in 2018 I could count them on one hand. Suspensions for rudeness or for misusing multiple accounts are more common, but we don't have too many of those, either. (And a friendly reminder: if anyone reading this paragraph suddenly wants to discuss any possible past or present suspension of another user by name, please go outside and look for pareidolia in the clouds until the urge passes.)

To answer your main question, we do consider both questions and answers when evaluating the quality of a user's contributions. In a couple of cases this year I have used variations on this SEDE query as a starting point to help decide whether a user's recent posting frequency and quality were actually different from what's typical for the site, or whether I (or another mod, or a flagger) had just happened upon a couple of stinkers written by a user whose contributions are mostly pretty good.

I'm a little reluctant to reveal the existence of that database query, however, because I worry it might leave some readers with the (wrong) impression that the moderation team is looking at some magical number. We're not. The goal of the moderation team is to maintain our high-quality community. Nearly all of that maintenance is done by the community itself, through voting and commenting. Only on rare occasions do we have a user who has missed or ignored these community cues. In those rare cases, the moderation team has a reasoned discussion about whether the best course of action is firmer guidance in comments, or a moderator message, or an invitation for that user to write on other people's websites for a while rather than on our little corner of Stack Exchange.

I know it's frustrating that this guidance is vague, but it really is how we do things. The entire reason for having human moderators is to handle exceptional cases. Suppose I were to answer your question "what is the limit?" by making up some number: a person whose posting record is $X$ would probably earn a manual suspension. Then in the future we'll find ourselves dealing with an edge case, some user whose posting record is $X-1$, who believes they are immune to criticism because they haven't crossed some magical threshold. Public arguments about edge cases ("I've followed all your stupid rules, you can't tell me what to do") are also bad for the community. What I've written here really is (I hope) a fair summary of how the moderation team has been handling these sorts of decisions, and why we've come to do things that way.

• Pretty sure it's a good thing to not have a magical value $X$ for manual suspension for a variety of reasons, not the least of which being playing the game to intentionally avoid $X$. – Kyle Kanos Aug 1 '18 at 18:31
• @KyleKanos Strongly agree. Another way to think of it is that the magic $X$ is what the automatic quality-based question/answer limits do, and it's the job of the moderators to take additional factors into account when appropriate. – rob Aug 1 '18 at 19:58
• @rob I think if there are some rules which you disagree, but follow for the sake of the peaceful cooperation, then yes the optimum is if there is a clear limit and everybody knows where is it. And it is not "gaming the system", it is a system based on clear, pre-written rules and not on threats. Not knowing where is the limit, but being punished if you cross, it is problematic in my view. – peterh - Reinstate Monica Aug 1 '18 at 20:07
• I deleted a comment exchange that had gone a little off topic and also appeared to have concluded. If those involved would like to continue, I would echo the suggestion that was posted to take it to a chat room. (In that case I'd be happy to help migrate the comments to chat.) – David Z Aug 1 '18 at 22:17
• @peterh it seems to me that rob is explicitly saying that there isn't a limit that one can cross (as were there such a thing, then it'd be automatically handled). – Kyle Kanos Aug 2 '18 at 1:16
• @peterh I don't understand why there should be a numerical threshold for when a member of the community is being disruptive. This isn't a mathematical situation we're dealing with. The difference between 7 and 8 low quality contributions isn't necessarily what makes the moderators take action. We're dealing with people; sometimes you have to account for context and make some non-binary decisions. It's not "reach X bad posts and you get punished". It's about how your interactions with the community effect it; and there's no hard number that measures that. – JMac Aug 2 '18 at 11:41
• The secret is not to find out where the line is, but to stay away from it. – Rob Aug 14 '18 at 3:15
• @JMac Here we have some objective or roughly objective measure of the quality and quantity of ones contributions. As the answer says, yes it is being used for the suspensions. – peterh - Reinstate Monica Aug 18 '18 at 5:11
• @KyleKanos Not for sure, the PSE is only one of the $\approx$ 160 SE sites, all are using the same engine. Changing the code (with the potential of affecting all the sites) for the sake of only a single site seem in such cases un-economical. Tuning the per-site parameters of the already existing automatisms is much more realistic. It would mean in this case, that the limits of the automatic Q/A ban would be changed for the ask of the community or the mods. As the answer says, not this happens. – peterh - Reinstate Monica Aug 18 '18 at 5:14