Some users of Biology SE struggle to grasp how the site works and find it very hard to work within it's framework.

Generally these will be new users, happening increasingly often, that come along with a bunch of badly written questions, which violate almost every piece of advice in the help pages, while not actually having a clear idea of what they want to understand. They will then barrage the site with these poor quality questions, which get closed, and then just try asking the same thing over and over in new questions, or enter in to long and fruitless comments/chats as they attempt to defend the post while clearly being utterly unwilling to fit within the site ethos.

I know there are some systems in place to deal with these sorts of users in a semi automatic way, but increasingly they are not dealing with the problem effectively (or quickly) enough.

This site is predominantly aimed at researchers who have a great deal of expertise and, while I and the community in general, are welcoming to "novices" who wish to ask some more basic questions as long as they are on topic, clear, and the user has shown effort to self-help. Posts of low quality are no doubt deterring users, especially from our target market. These users are often resistant, defensive, and rude - I would call them low quality users.

I suggest that something needs to be done to help protect this community. I think at a minimum level we should be allowed to flag user accounts and give an explanation of why they've been flagged.

Personally I think some kind of "collective umpire" system would be the best solution - trusted users with a high rep should have the ability to give something akin to a yellow card in football/soccer (and I'll refer to it as a yellow card system herein). Once a user has a certain amount of these yellow cards their account is immediately and automatically suspended and referred to a moderator who can then reopen, give a fixed suspension (a week, a month whatever), or permanently close an account (only for the most severe of cases). I'd suggest that if a user gets a 5 cards in 24 hours, 10 in a week, or 20 in a month period (I mean all of these not one or the other - ie having all of these cutoff values enabled) then the account is sin binned until a mod can review it. A trusted user should be able to hand yellow cards to a user multiple times, but at a limited rate (e.g., so I can't just go and give a user 2000 yellow cards in an hour) perhaps limited to one per user (receiver not giver) per week? i.e. I could give 1 yellow card to 2000 users in one day (... perhaps the total should be limited a little then) but it would take 2000 weeks for me to do that to one user.

Further it may help if the high rep users had a private (not at all visible to those unable to use it) chat room to discuss any cases and raise awareness of users that should be given a yellow card.

What are peoples thoughts on dealing with low quality users? Should we be able to flag them?


1 Answer 1


Community moderation is meant for dealing with posts, not with users. That is something that falls into the responsibility of us diamond moderators. We have a much better view of the history of a specific user, e.g. we can see deleted posts on a user profile. We also can message and suspend users, if necessary.

This kind of moderator actions are mostly invisible to the community, you won't see if we message a user unless we also suspend them.

On a small site like this, the most important automatic mechanism to block users asking bad questions is not enabled. On a small scale we can still deal manually with such users. If you see a user that is asking bad questions and not improving, just flag any of their posts and explain the issue.

There is a mechanism that will slow down users significantly that ask bad questions (detailed explanation on Meta Stack Exchange). This relies on the community closing and downvoting bad posts, so doing that is another way to help the system.

  • $\begingroup$ Good idea with flagging and using that as a private message to the mods system - nice workaround! $\endgroup$
    – rg255
    Dec 13, 2014 at 22:16
  • $\begingroup$ I think this is a better way than introducing specific flags. $\endgroup$
    – Chris Mod
    Dec 13, 2014 at 22:17
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Why is the question ban not enabled here? I've seen a number of users over the last few months who could definitely benefit from a temporary ban, with explanations of why. It doesn't (immediately) prevent them from opening a new account and trying again, but it would certainly give them time to cool off, read about how the site works, and if they're truly interested in improving, seek help on meta. $\endgroup$
    – MattDMo
    Dec 13, 2014 at 22:39
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Rolling question rate limits are now network-wide. MadScientist may be referring to longer-term bans that are more powerful in effect on bigger sites, but FYI @MattDMo, there is something. $\endgroup$
    – Susan
    Dec 14, 2014 at 1:06
  • $\begingroup$ @Susan You're right, I forgot about the new rate-limiting, that is active here and at least one user already ran into that. $\endgroup$ Dec 14, 2014 at 18:59
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ My question is who picked the name "diamond moderator"? $\endgroup$
    – canadianer
    Dec 14, 2014 at 21:45

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