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"So if you want to enable this limit, make a meta post about this and gather some community support and discuss it. If there seems to be a consensus that it should be enabled, one of the moderators can ask an SE employee to throw the switch."

Is there any support for this? I would love to see this enabled. I believe it would add to the quality of the site by eliminating frivolous questions often closed as duplicates.

NB I have no desire to eliminate astute posts, but the number of questions asked are often excessive. Limiting to 50/month (I think) would help some to set internal limits, or at least check the number of questions asked (hopefully to those most interesting).

Edited to add: the limits are 6 posts per day, 50 per month. I think this is more than reasonable.

  • Is there a limit per day? 10 per day seems like pretty generous (and may not restrict anybody. Is there anyone who can do stats to see if any of these constraints actually stop some of the more egregious examples? – Mitch Mar 3 '14 at 3:53
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    @Susan: I just posted my answer, which includes the same link. Does that mean I get to call "Jinx!"? (I don't drink Coke, but I like Laphroaig Quarter Cask if you can run to that! :) – FumbleFingers Mar 3 '14 at 4:28
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    I once, long time ago, suggested on ELL that such a limit be implemented. Got told off for daring to even think of such a thing, and now I see it being suggested on EL&U. I'm all for it. If someone posts a top quality question, they will receive answers... eventually. If their question is particularly thought provoking and fun, it will be inundated with answers and views, and they won't feel the urgency to post a queue of similar questions. – Mari-Lou A Mar 3 '14 at 8:13
  • Perhaps one idea might be to post an exhaustive answer that answers multiple, and similar related issues and then use that answer to flag all semi-colon related questions (for example) as duplicates. – Mari-Lou A Mar 3 '14 at 8:18
  • That's an unnecessary limitation. Just automatically warn users and mods if the question posting rate goes above a certain point. It'll be obvious if there's a problem. – user1306322 Mar 3 '14 at 14:23
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I'm not opposed to enabling the posting limits, but I'm not sure it's the best solution to the immediate problem that has prompted the last few meta posts. I think the current “problem user” would be better served by a warning or short suspension.

I haven't gotten the impression that question spam is a common problem on ELU, so I'm inclined to leave things unlimited as they are now. But I would not strongly object if other people felt differently.

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    I must be a really slow typist! There were no comments or answers when I started my answer. Anyway, "Jinx!" to you too (and I'll have a double, please! :) – FumbleFingers Mar 3 '14 at 4:32
  • +1 - a rule like this is likely to do more harm than good here, IMO. It only makes sense to have a perpetual block when it will A) prevent a lot of problems, and B) have very few false positives (blocking someone who asks 3 good questions a day, or saves a bunch offline, and then posts 8 in a day). The limit makes no sense intrinsically - it's a weak heuristic for what we hope is a pattern of lots of problem questions. In this case, that issue appears to be a one off, in which case dealing with the user makes more sense than casting a tuna net that may snag a bunch of dolphins, too. – Jaydles Mar 6 '14 at 17:20
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I'm not necessarily against unilaterally imposing the limit, but the cited answer also says...

"The alternative to enabling the limit can be to manually warn users that ask an excessive amount of questions, and suspend them if necessary."

Also, note that one of our mods commented...

"47 questions over two days (by my count) certainly does seem a bit much"

So far as I know, there's currently only one "totally OTT" poster (who's now really scraping the bottom of the barrel), plus one other "prolific" poster who I don't really see as a problem (yet?! :).

As pointed out in my original question, I'm not necessarily taking against the specific user involved. But I'd rather just see that user asked to rein back - and if necessary suspended for non-compliance. Noting the average rating for his questions (close to, if not actually below zero), the site wouldn't be losing much by way of valued input, useful for future visitors.


My two specific reasons for urging caution are:

1: I assume it would be very difficult to revert to the current situation once we adopt the limit.
It always seems to be easier to pass "laws" restricting the liberty of minorities than to repeal them.

2: I also assume it's probably "one size fits all" - i.e. 6 questions per day and 50 questions per month.
I don't find it that hard to imagine someone coming up with more than half-a-dozen good questions during some portion of a week when they don't have ready Internet access ("weeekend-only" poster?).


TL;DR: Let's try jaw-jaw before war-war.

  • What about editing the off-topic posts, putting them in one or two posts, and then hopefully someone will supply a more detailed canonical answer once and for all. Even if the answer is "It's subjective". Once done, it's easier to close future questions as being dupes and deleting them. – Mari-Lou A Mar 3 '14 at 8:42
  • @Mari-Lou: The problem is our problematic user's posts aren't very often either OT or dups. Many of us are bending over backwards to closevote him on the flimsiest of grounds (consider this one, which it's frankly ridiculous to label "Unclear"). This user is smart, and knows exactly what he's doing - which is basically swamping the site with trivial questions. Which are time-consuming to answer, but by our rules, not easy to dismiss. He's just enjoying trolling with us. – FumbleFingers Mar 3 '14 at 13:54
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    Totally OTT has been suspended for a month. Don't we do better with case by case, rather than a blanket limit? (At least until the number of bad cases exceeds the single digits?) – bib Mar 3 '14 at 17:34
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    @bib: Indeed. I still think we might have got there sooner if you and some others had been quicker to downvote/closevote rather than answer the worst of his questions, but the thing is we've got to a satisfactory position now, without needing to change the way ELU works. If it ain't broke, don't fix it! – FumbleFingers Mar 3 '14 at 17:42
  • @FumbleFingers I am reluctant to downvote or vote to close in general. I usually limit downvotes to things I am convinced are simply wrong and even then I usually try to challenge it in a comment). What I find inane may be fascinating to someone else. I just skip the questions and answers I find poor. I appreciate that we want the site to be vigorous and not filled with crap, but a few bad Qs or As don't trouble me that much. I don't think we are in crisis yet. – bib Mar 3 '14 at 18:02
  • @FumbleFingers And my knee-jerk answer to the pencil question was just that. Hey, I know the answer! I saw it as a labeling thing (like the household goods question) and a bit interesting. I don't disagree that it is marginally appropriate at best. – bib Mar 3 '14 at 18:04
  • @bib: oic. Yes, checking your profile I see you're exceptionally sparing with your downvotes. I take it that's a reflection of your character (you come across to me as very "placid"). I fully respect your position, but it remains my opinion that future visitors to ELU would benefit more if our historical stock of answers were more clearly sorted into "good/bad" piles, by virtue of more people voting both up and down. – FumbleFingers Mar 3 '14 at 18:08
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    @bib - I agree. We are in the crisis averted mode. I think, until pencil-toting user gets out of the penalty box, we are safe. – anongoodnurse Mar 5 '14 at 11:01
  • @Susan,bib: The acceptance of this somewhat ludicrous answer from our now-most-prolific "active" user gives me slight cause for concern. We're not quite out of the woods yet. – FumbleFingers Mar 5 '14 at 13:01
  • @FumbleFingers et. al. - I don't perceive this guy as a troll. I think he has a high-level knowledge of English as a foreign language. And, he seems to be trying to hone his AmE idioms. BraddSzonye, Jim and I have explained to him in comments that he needs to show some more research in his questions. And, he seems to have taken it to heart. So, lets put a pin in him, and see what comes of it. As to this ludicrous answer . . . the answerer defended it vehemently against my comments, and I think that swayed the OP. – David M Mar 10 '14 at 13:57
  • @David: We may have different definitions of "troll" anyway, but I didn't mean to imply NG is one, however we define the term. But it seems to me he often asks "provocative" questions where the motivation appears to be more a matter of gaining support for his idea that some oddball usage should be classed as "valid", rather than discovering and accepting the more general consensus that it's not. With many comments/votes clearly indicating that "Would you mind and do something?" is not generally considered acceptable, it seems perverse to accept the lone voice saying it's perfectly okay. – FumbleFingers Mar 10 '14 at 15:38
  • @FumbleFingers I only mentioned troll because he was mentioned in the same breath as Whipoorwhil. As for that answer: I hate the usage personally, but F.E. did manage to defend it with a valid source. (Read our protracted comments section.) But, I agree, I would have advised against accepting it. Fortunately, I haven't seen too many accepted answers that were that far afield of normal usage. (From anyone.) – David M Mar 10 '14 at 15:45
  • @David: I just looked at the comments, but I see no "valid source" backing up F.E.'s position (unless you mean that because CGEL cites usages such as be sure/try and do, this somehow endorses mind and do in the OP's context). For highly marginal usages such as this, it's almost meaningless to say it's "correct" or "incorrect", but I see only one "half-relevant" citation, against over 8000 "standard" ones – FumbleFingers Mar 10 '14 at 16:42
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On some level it would be nice if there were a question limit that were tied to rep.

Most of the privileges on this site are tied to rep levels. And, this is designed to prevent abuse by trolls or users without the necessary experience for the site.

Some of the other measures like flagging, IIRC are also tied to the number of successful flags. That you get more daily flags based upon helpful flags in the past.

So, I would propose something like:

1-100 rep max 3 posts/day, 25/month
101-500 rep max 5 posts/day 50/month
500-2000 rep 8 posts/day 100/month
and >2000 Unlimited.

These are completely arbitrary numbers that I've thrown in, people could make other suggestions, too. But, by setting the numbers this way, a 400 rep poster like our friend above wouldn't have gotten more that 5/50.

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