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I came across a user with a reason for suspension I hadn't seen before:

screenshot of suspension notice

(screenshot of box text reads: "This account is temporarily suspended because of low-quality contributions. The suspension period ends on <date>")

The link in the text goes to A Day in the Penalty Box.

My understanding of how low quality content is handled is the familiar SE process / toolbox of:

What aspect of low quality contributions are not handled by the above methods such that requires intervention?

The usual factors that cause apparent confusion and lead to this sort of question apply: the user is a long-standing member of the site with ostensibly otherwise decent contributions. Asking here for the general case that leads to this kind of suspension and not for the details of a specific user ban, as those are not publicly shared.

Also asking in case there is a local site policy in effect, as searching for the suspension reason gives a Mathematics SE Meta QA which seems related to that community's decision on Enforcement of Quality Standards.

Note that this reason has been around nearly since the dawn of time itself, but little specific reference to it seems exist.

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  • I scribbled out the exact end of suspension time because it is not that difficult to link that to a specific user while that suspension is in effect. Messed up the screenreader text though. Jan 12 at 0:25
  • @ItalianPhilosophers4Monica Sure, thanks; I've re-added the text transcription sans date and time; we're probably acting out of an overabundance of caution but this question is definitely about the general case as opposed to the particulars of a single user :)
    – bertieb
    Jan 12 at 11:27
  • Plus, scribbles are an enhancement second only to freehand circles ;-P
    – bertieb
    Jan 12 at 11:28

2 Answers 2

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We moderators suspend accounts when they repeatedly post off-topic contributions they should know are unconstructive.

For example, when an established user posts multiple questions and answers in a single day that are all push-questions and soapbox-answers to promote their personal political agenda on a single issue.

Soap-boxing is a problem where the usual self-moderation tools available to the community can sometimes fail. For example, when the agenda the user is promoting is one some other users agree with. So even though opinionated content is not welcome on this website, there will often be some users who will upvote and vote to leave/reopen regardless because they agree with the agenda. That can delay or even prevent the self-moderation tools from working.

In other cases, it is obvious that the self-moderation tools are already at work. Some of the inappropriate content is already sufficiently downvoted/closed/deleted and other is on the way. But that process takes time and active effort from the community that could be used more productively. And in the meantime, the offending user might generate more busywork by posting more such content. In such a case we moderators can do the community a favor by accelerating the process with a swing of the modhammer.

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  • 1
    Thanks for providing additional insight and the local factors for this Stack. I appreciate moderating is often a thankless task, especially where there's contentious issues and people follow their hearts rather than their heads around soapboxing. I presume users can avail themselves of the usual route[s] for disagreements about decisions if they feel (unjustifiably or otherwise) that there's the suppression-equivalent of soapboxing (decisions going against them because of personal opinions) ? That is, discuss here on Meta, or SE Meta?
    – bertieb
    Jan 9 at 13:17
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    Does the Politics.SE rules rules forbid push questions or soapbox answers? Because it is easy to find multiple instances of both. And if users upvote something it may not be because of malicious intent, but because they find value in something you find is trash. I'm very skeptical of the "swinging the modhammer" approach because it may be more influenced by the moderator's own biases, rather than the user's supposed misconduct. Jan 10 at 18:59
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    @StandwithGaza Yes, it does discourage push questions and soapbox answer. However, that depends on the community members to vote and flag it and thus the political bias of the majority often dictates. That would apply to you and me too, and with the moderators too, however much we try to be neutral (it's human nature). I don't think we can do much about it. (But as more and more moderators are elected in the future, it will kind of provide a balance that such mods will not abuse their powers blatantly).
    – sfxedit
    Jan 12 at 1:41
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The exact workings of the question ban and answer ban algorithms are unknown, but generally speaking, the more upvoted questions and answers you have, the harder it is to trip the ban. As a result, you will occasionally encounter users of the type you describe: they submit a lot of low-quality questions and/or answers, yet also submit enough high-quality content that their overall record remains positive and they avoid tripping the automated ban. (As an aside, the reason the algorithms' workings are unknown is to prevent users from gaming them and doing this on purpose.)

It's generally agreed that users should not be given a free pass to flood SE with low-quality content, regardless of how much high-quality content they may have contributed. As such, moderators, in their capacity as "human exception handlers", are able to manually suspend users if they believe they have submitted too many low-quality questions and/or answers without triggering the automated ban.

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    Thanks for the good general answer, when you explain it like that it makes sense and it's useful to have it laid out. I'll wait a bit before accepting for the usual reasons and in case there are additional local factors- I am aware things have been (or at least seemed) somewhat febrile on this Stack in particular in recent months
    – bertieb
    Jan 9 at 11:45

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