Tons of extremely low quality questions from unregistered accounts. A few recent examples:
All of them are now deleted, apologies to those with less than 10K, but we can't keep crap like that around for long. If you'd like me to show you screenshots to get an idea of how painfully horrible these were, feel free to ping me in chat.
All these questions seem to me like Stack Overflow rejects, extremely low quality questions about implementation issues / programming tools. Stack Overflow requires users to register before they asked, and I think that some of these questions appeared on Programmers after they were closed & deleted on Stack Overflow and / or the askers' accounts were automatically question banned or suspended. It might just be that noobs are naturally more interested in implementation issues, and Stack Overflow has no involvement in this, but my spider sense is tingling.
We have a few confirmed cases of people posting off topic questions on Programmers to sidestep their question ban / suspension on Stack Overflow, but this isn't easy to confirm for unregistered accounts. Some smells:
- A handfull of cases where the unregistered accounts posting low quality Stack Overflow type questions shared IPs with quite a few other unregistered accounts that also did the same (it might be an accident, or it might be the same guy/gal taking advantage of the system),
- A couple of cases where we confirmed the unregistered account was question banned on Stack Overflow, either by them admitting it in comments, or by asking someone with access to the database to confirm it for us.
Moderating unregistered accounts is extremely inefficient:
- Suspensions don't work, the only thing the suspendee has to do is clear their cookies and they can post again.
- Automatic question bans are enforced at a deeper level, but they seem to also fail for unregistered accounts.
- Deleting / destroying an account for posting very low quality questions is overkill, we typically only delete spam accounts or accounts that posted extremely offensive content.
- Even for good but off topic questions, migrating to Stack Overflow is discouraged, the unregistered accounts will most likely lose ownership of the question if they don't register there.
Require users to register before asking, same as with Stack Overflow.
I personally don't like it, but it's the obvious solution. We could do a trial run for a couple of months and evaluate the results.
Tweak the question ban algorithm to be a bit stricter for unregistered accounts.
This is completely up to Stack Exchange, my thoughts would be:
- Given the overlap with Stack Overflow, have the algorithm check question banned IPs on Stack Overflow, and not let the account post more than one question, if their first one was downvoted and closed as Off Topic or Not A Real Question.
- Be more aggressive with unregistered accounts in general. Couple of Off Topic questions, ban.
Closure (closure and/or deletion) rates:
- 35% for unregistered users, 17% for registered (all time),
- 72% for unregistered users, and 40% for registered (last 6 months, retrieved Aug 10),
- 70% for unregistered users, and 38% for registered (last 3 months, retrieved Aug 10).
As for people banned on SO:
79 questions asked this month, 39 were closed.
It seems that science doesn't point at Stack Overflow as the (main) cause of our troubles.