Should we (if we can) rate-limit the number of questions which a user is allowed to ask to one per day (or n per week)?

I'm suggesting that this be applied to all users across the board.

Advantages (as I see them):

  • Could improve quality, because if I can only post one question today then I'll post my best one.

  • Doesn't require us to make subjective decisions about the merit of a question or the merit of a genre or (even worse) the merit of a user.

  • Doesn't use up the time or require the presence of moderators or high-rep users.

Disadvantages (as I see them):

  • Another Rule. Limits the freedom of users.

  • Doesn't completely address the problem , e.g. doesn't address the problem of poor-quality answers. (But if it helps a bit, IMO that would be a good thing. All improvement is good).

  • It would reduce our questions per day rate, which could have an impact on the site coming out of beta. We'd (hopefully) be trading quantity for quality.


I would suggest that we do it for a 1 month trial and see whether it's effective and what any knock-on effects or problems might be.

Geobits has brought up the interesting question of whether we should be judging the subjective merit of a question. So just to clarify what I mean by 'subjective' above: I mean dependent on personal preference.

If I'm judging whether a question should or should not be allowed on the site then (for fairness) I should have some objective criteria to refer to, for my to at least try to apply impartially. Rather than me just saying that the question shouldn't be allowed because I (subjectively) happen to dislike the question or the genre. That wouldn't be fair.

IMO we're having trouble developing those objective rules - partly because 'puzzling' is such a broad (and puzzling) area - and so IMO systems that help us cope without them are (at least for the moment) potentially useful.


On the one hand it may have bad influence on the quality of the answers because people have more time and start answering out of boredom.

On the other hand I like this idea! I expect people to try harder on creating their own riddles and at the same time on solving riddles of other users.

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    $\begingroup$ I don't know how to vote for this. I agree with the first line and am not sure about the second (leaning toward disagree atm). $\endgroup$ – Set Big O Nov 20 '14 at 14:05
  • $\begingroup$ @Geobits, that's why I'm suggesting a trial period, it's a bit difficult to know in advance what the effect might be. Of course if it turns out to be actively counter-productive then we could switch it off before the end of the trial period! $\endgroup$ – A E Nov 20 '14 at 14:20
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    $\begingroup$ I think it's important that riddles are only a part of puzzling.SE. Unfortunately, riddle solving is not ideally suited to the format of a SE website but there are plenty of puzzle solving challenges that are. $\endgroup$ – Lembik Nov 20 '14 at 16:34

I'm willing to be convinced otherwise, but right now I don't think that rate limiting is the right thing to do.

Engagement is a key factor in any community. By rate limiting, you're denying users a form of engagement. Some people are better askers than answerers, and should not be penalized for this. If the suggestion was rate limiting answers to one per day, I'm sure there would be less enthusiasm about it, even though it's arguable that answer quality is as big a problem as question quality.

The net effect could be that people who come here to ask questions (and are good at it) just go away. Those people would probably be a great boon to the community, since we need quality questions.

To go over the listed advantages:

Could improve quality, because if I can only post one question today then I'll post my best one.

Maybe, but this will only matter to those already trying to create quality questions. Also, people posting low quality generally do so because they don't know it's low quality.

Doesn't require us to make subjective decisions about the merit of a question or the merit of a genre or (even worse) the merit of a user.

Which is really skirting the issue. We should be making subjective decisions about the merits of a question; that's what voting is for and it's a core concept of SE in general. Of course we shouldn't be judging users this way, but there are mechanisms in place to limit the rate at which someone can post bad questions. If they continually do it, they'll soon find out that they can't for a while.

Doesn't use up the time or require the presence of moderators or high-rep users.

Downvote. Downvote. Downvote. If there's a post you consider low quality, downvote it. If it's very bad, flag it. We don't have the most mods or delete-privileged users here, but we have enough to monitor 20 questions a day.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the feedback @Geobits, I'll give that some thought. One issue with downvoting is that when a 'bad' question hits the multicollider it gets so many drive-by upvotes that the downvotes of those of us who are regulars here become irrelevant. (But that's a little off-topic for this qn). On the 'subjective' issue, I guess what I mean is that when judging whether a question is permitted, it's unfair if my personal preferences come into play. We should (IMO) be judging against criteria which don't involve personal preference - and that's hard - so let's avoid the necessity if we can. $\endgroup$ – A E Nov 20 '14 at 14:27
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    $\begingroup$ @AE I totally agree with the drive-by upvoting thing (it's a common complaint on other sites as well), which is why we need flags also. Any question that hits HNQ with multiple downvotes or closevotes should probably get some additional scrutiny by those who can do something about it, and flags are a good way to bring it to their attention. $\endgroup$ – Set Big O Nov 20 '14 at 14:29
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    $\begingroup$ As far as personal preference voting, that's what up/down is for. In theory, closing should be more objective, but it's been said time and time again that voting itself is purely subjective (and should be). That's one of the ways individuals can shape the direction of the site. $\endgroup$ – Set Big O Nov 20 '14 at 14:32
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    $\begingroup$ We need a lot of content, I mean a lot. The site is just starting to grow. The more content we have, the more crap we can delete. At this point, deleting all of the bad puzzles would leave us with maybe 50? 100? I don't even know the question count, but I assume it's low. I think that limiting the questions and answers both to 3-5 per day is a good idea to help with quality, but only far down the line. $\endgroup$ – Travis Don Kindred Nov 20 '14 at 14:35
  • $\begingroup$ @Geobits, yes, that's exactly what I'm saying (or trying to say :). Voting can be an expression of personal preference whereas closing should be 'rules broken'. $\endgroup$ – A E Nov 20 '14 at 14:36
  • $\begingroup$ @AE Ah, wasn't sure which you meant. For closing the biggest help I can see is more clear, objective 'rules'. Otherwise it's hard to be objective about closing, so subjectivity takes its place. $\endgroup$ – Set Big O Nov 20 '14 at 14:39
  • $\begingroup$ @Geobits, yeah, my fault for not being clear at first, sorry. $\endgroup$ – A E Nov 20 '14 at 14:40

Yes it's a good idea. I am pretty sure SO already has some sort of rate limiting.

You are of course right that as well as this, people with high reps need to look at new questions quickly, suggest improvements to poor ones and close any where the OP refuses or can't improve their question.

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    $\begingroup$ The full rate limiting guide can be found here. On most sites, users with <125 rep can ask a question every 20 minutes. On SO, it's every 90 minutes. $\endgroup$ – Andrew Martin Nov 20 '14 at 12:14
  • $\begingroup$ thank you @AndrewMartin, that's very useful info. I'll edit it into my question. $\endgroup$ – A E Nov 20 '14 at 12:18

For me, at least, I prefer it not to happen.
Usually, I get quick bursts of creative energy, and eventually I formulate that into a Puzzling.SE post.
Limiting the questions to 1 a day seems to restrict that energy that people could have.
Maybe if it was a bit lax, like 3 or 4 questions per day, it could both allow posters the freedom of creativity and keep away spambots.


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