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Thread: Town hall discussion on procedures for banning and suspension

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    Default Town hall discussion on procedures for banning and suspension

    As the message board charter states we get feedback on major decisions and the only reason to ban people is to 'protect' other forum members, it only makes sense that we get feedback from ‘forum members’ before implementing definitive process for suspensions and bandings.

    In the beginning, decisions to ban went before the advisory board. Since the board was disbanded, I have made all final decisions on whether to suspend, typically after a request by one or more moderators to do so. There have been a couple situations where mods have banned a member based on what they considered an emergency situation (they have the power to do that, with procedural limits, although it is a bit ambiguous).

    We need to formalize a policy for when a member should be banned. I am going to throw out some ideas/possibilities, but we can and should add to the list of possibilities based on discussion (and ideas that are presented) in this thread.

    For the purposes of full disclosure, I need to make the following point. First, I want to say that IMO, we have a great set of mods that are doing a great job of balancing a need to keep Broncosforums friendly and fun with the need to prevent people from running wild attacking other members. Having said that, if I was not currently a built in ‘slow down’ in terms of approving suspensions/bans, we would have had quite a few more bans to date. Meaning, that based on moderator discussion on problems that have arisen, it is clear that I am much more reticent to suspend/ban than the mods in general. This is probably do to the fact that they have to deal with the crap on a regular basis, which often includes people not complying with their directive to discontinue certain behavior. So, if I am simply removed from the picture and each mod can made the decision to ban/suspend on a case by case basis, I am confident that the number of suspensions will increase fairly rapidly. That might be a good thing, as I tend to give people 2nd, 3rd and even 4th chances before implementing a suspension.

    I bring up the above, because most message boards either allow mods to make judgement calls on suspensions/bannings (often with limited to no appeal process) or use an Infractions Points system to attempt to eliminate “heat of the moment bannings” and to allow members to know when they are pushing the envelope and getting close to being suspended. I don’t want to continue being the person making the final call on suspensions/bannings for a number of reasons, including that with work I travel overseas several times a year and have limited time to check in. In addition, I just don’t particularly like being in that position, for the same reason I don’t want to moderate the message board.

    Here are four initial options for us to consider, plus as I said we will update this list as ideas are presented in this discussion:

    • Individual mods have freedom to suspend/ban at their discretion (possibly with guidelines for x number of warnings before suspending)
    • X number of mods (three for instance) must agree on a suspension/banning (possibly with guidelines for x number of warnings before suspending)
    • A group of forum members (jury if you will) that have been pre-selected in some manner, will be presented with all non-emergency banning situations and 'based on the forum rules' determine whether and suspension/banning is in order and for how long (possibly with guidelines for x number of warnings before suspending). For this to work, the group would have to be preselected and large enough to ensure that when they were presented with a situation, enough of them would respond with a vote of yes/no on the suspension within x hours (12 or 24), so that a reasonably quick resolution could be arrived at.
    • An infraction system like Broncos Country uses and Broncosfreak used to use, in which thresholds (when suspensions will occur) are clearly publicized, as well as the values for each and all infractions. This is built in to vBulletin, and thousands of message boards use. When implemented correctly, it is probably the closest manner of taking emotion out of the banning process and at the same time creating both a system of warning people when they are getting close, but also quickly taking action.


    Of the options above, I know the last one will be met with immediate resistance by many that came from Mania. To that, let me say this. Many, many message boards (probably thousands) use an infractions points system without the problems that occurred on mania. A lot of that had to do with the way it was implemented. First, they refused to publicize the values for each infraction type as well as what the levels were for suspensions (or other loss of privileges). Second, one of the mods started giving out infractions before the IP system was publically announced. Third, borderline IPs were given, such as the famous “Frog” IPs.

    Anyway, we need to discuss this and define how suspensions and bannings should be handed out. Unfortunately, it is a fact of life that not all members will be so well behaved that we don’t have to worry about suspending/banning people. Instead, a great many people tend to push and push until it is clear to them that if they push anymore, they will be banned/suspended. Then, they often chill out for a little while.

    Right now our mods are in a tough position, because we do not have a defined policy for how and when members will be suspended/banned and therefore members push the envelope more than they should and take advantage of the non-defined suspension process.

    Let’s try to keep this discussion on topic and not take shots at each other for their opinions. If for any reason anyone is uncomfortable posting their opinion openly, then PM me and I will repost it in this thread anonymously.

    Thanks
    T

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tned View Post
    • Individual mods have freedom to suspend/ban at their discretion (possibly with guidelines for x number of warnings before suspending)
    • X number of mods (three for instance) must agree on a suspension/banning (possibly with guidelines for x number of warnings before suspending)
    Preferably one of these. I would tend to lead towards option 1. They need to have this power, imo.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tned View Post
    • An infraction system like Broncos Country uses and Broncosfreak used to use, in which thresholds (when suspensions will occur) are clearly publicized, as well as the values for each and all infractions. This is built in to vBulletin, and thousands of message boards use. When implemented correctly, it is probably the closest manner of taking emotion out of the banning process and at the same time creating both a system of warning people when they are getting close, but also quickly taking action.
    This would be OK too.
    *The statements above are my opinions, unless they are links, because then they are links, which wouldn't make them my opinions, and I suppose stats aren't necessarily opinion, but they are certainly presented to support an opinion. Proceed accordingly.

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    Tned, I don't have a problem with option 4...people don't have to worry if they follow the guidelines that were set up. Seems pretty simple to me. You and the mods are doing a great job.
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    The problem is that different Mods have different standards. If individual mods are going to ban people, they have to be consistent.

    (I'm not implying that our mods are inconsistent, just saying that consistency is needed).

    I think that all your ideas sound great though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheWookieeBronco View Post
    The problem is that different Mods have different standards. If individual mods are going to ban people, they have to be consistent.

    (I'm not implying that our mods are inconsistent, just saying that consistency is needed).

    I think that all your ideas sound great though.
    They are ''inconsistent'' Better yet, unfair and biased.

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    Oh yay. IP's...again

    Just one of the reasons people left Broncomania. Yeah, great idea, let's bring in the grossly unpopular move.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Escobar View Post
    They are ''inconsistent'' Better yet, unfair and biased.
    Amen.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Escobar View Post
    They are ''inconsistent'' Better yet, unfair and biased.
    Shhhhhhhhhhhh

    You are supposed to put it nicely.



    Ok ok. I'll agree that I've seen some inconsistency. Unfair and biased are not fair comments though. The Mods here DO try there best and do a supreme job of keeping order. Alot better than most messageboards and I'm not just saying that. Sometimes, a hint on inconsistency kicks in though. It's only natural considering that different mods can be completely different people. I just think a standard should be set.

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    Back on the Freak, there certainly were some inconsistencies with a few of the mods with different members, which caused a lot of tension within the forum, so more than one mod backing it would be the "safest" point of view.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kapaibro View Post
    Oh yay. IP's...again

    Just one of the reasons people left Broncomania. Yeah, great idea, let's bring in the grossly unpopular move.
    That's why I suggested alternatives and opened it up for discussion. FWIW, the IP system works successfully on thousands of forums and typically is put in place to be more fair, not less.

    I'm not tied to any method, but there needs to be 'some' method, because right now I am having to make the call on each banning, which puts the mods in a tough position (especially when I am traveling or otherwise out of touch) and if we allow mods the freedom to ban based on their discretion, then we will have inconsistancies, just do to human nature. Just like happened on BM before the IP system. Some mods were slow to ban, some were one strike and you are banned.

    So, since this is a discussion, stating that one option is very bad is only part of the objective, the more important part is deciding how to move forward. What do you see as our best approach to handling suspensions and bannings?

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    Tned, just make it easy and ban everyone.

    tia.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tned View Post
    That's why I suggested alternatives and opened it up for discussion. FWIW, the IP system works successfully on thousands of forums and typically is put in place to be more fair, not less.

    I'm not tied to any method, but there needs to be 'some' method, because right now I am having to make the call on each banning, which puts the mods in a tough position (especially when I am traveling or otherwise out of touch) and if we allow mods the freedom to ban based on their discretion, then we will have inconsistancies, just do to human nature. Just like happened on BM before the IP system. Some mods were slow to ban, some were one strike and you are banned.

    So, since this is a discussion, stating that one option is very bad is only part of the objective, the more important part is deciding how to move forward. What do you see as our best approach to handling suspensions and bannings?

    I would like to see Topscribe's opinion of the Infraction System.I think if it had been implemented correctly on Mania/Country it could have been a lot more successful. I also think at that point it isn't a mod's decision that comes into play, it's the poster themselves. If infractions are given out for rules that are set out and we know about, there really isn't an issue. I think our mods here are a lot more understanding of where our posters are coming from. I think the "frog" comment would have gone by here without a look.

    Those are just my thoughts.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tned View Post
    That's why I suggested alternatives and opened it up for discussion. FWIW, the IP system works successfully on thousands of forums and typically is put in place to be more fair, not less.

    I'm not tied to any method, but there needs to be 'some' method, because right now I am having to make the call on each banning, which puts the mods in a tough position (especially when I am traveling or otherwise out of touch) and if we allow mods the freedom to ban based on their discretion, then we will have inconsistancies, just do to human nature. Just like happened on BM before the IP system. Some mods were slow to ban, some were one strike and you are banned.

    So, since this is a discussion, stating that one option is very bad is only part of the objective, the more important part is deciding how to move forward. What do you see as our best approach to handling suspensions and bannings?
    A three-person advisory board, with majority vote as the decision.

    Well...a three-person Banning/Suspension Committee, since the advisory board thing has a black cloud over it.
    Last edited by Jody; 05-27-2008 at 05:38 PM.

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    Just let me decide. I'll be fair and impartial.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheWookieeBronco View Post
    Shhhhhhhhhhhh

    You are supposed to put it nicely.



    Ok ok. I'll agree that I've seen some inconsistency. Unfair and biased are not fair comments though. The Mods here DO try there best and do a supreme job of keeping order. Alot better than most messageboards and I'm not just saying that. Sometimes, a hint on inconsistency kicks in though. It's only natural considering that different mods can be completely different people. I just think a standard should be set.
    You will never be able to put into motion enough rules and standards to
    negate some differences among Mods. That is anywhere, not just here.

    For instance, say you are caught speeding, going seven MPH over. One cop
    might issue you a ticket, so you have to appear in court, pay a fine, incur
    points on your license, and maybe get an increase in your insurance
    premiums.

    Another cop, however, may just issue a warning ticket (if they still exist),
    while a third might just tell you to slow it down, then go on his way.

    You're going to get that because you are dealing with different individuals.

    That is why we have a process of appeal. When you feel you have been
    dealt with unfairly or you think a Mod might have been a bit heavy-handed,
    you send it on to Admin. And, believe me, the appealing poster gets the
    first consideration with Admin (Tned) because he believes so deeply in the
    community concept for this board.

    We do try to limit that, however. When a circumstance arises where we're
    not entirely sure, we submit it to the other Mods for discussion, and then it
    is taken care of according to consensus among the Mods. This happens
    often, in fact.

    Regarding the banning issue, I will go on record as being against having the
    individual power to ban.

    Now, I personally make a distinction here in terminology. To me, a ban is
    an action that results in a more long-term absence from the board . . . say,
    30 days or more. To me, something short in duration or temporary is a
    suspension.

    Admin has retained the power over bans and suspensions, and any case is
    submitted first to the Mods and then to Admin for the final decision. Admin,
    then, bans or suspends the poster.

    The exception is when Admin cannot be reached and the Mod in question
    deems it urgent to stop the poster's access to the board, either from
    uncontrollable spamming/trolling/flaming or unyielding defiance of a Mod's
    directives, and Admin is not accessible because he is either in bed or away,
    which he does go out of the country on business occasionally. The Mod is
    then authorized to implement an emergency suspension of 24 to 72 hours,
    usually, depending on when Admin is expected back onto the board. This is
    the only circumstance under which a Mod can suspend or ban.

    So I will repeat that I am absolutely against giving individual Mods the
    authority to ban or suspend, except under the above circumstances. If
    each Mod ends up with that authority, then we may have an inconsistent
    situation where a poster might get banned by one Mod but not by another.
    This would not be right.

    Hope I made sense in all this rambling.

    -----
    Last edited by topscribe; 05-27-2008 at 05:51 PM. Reason: typo
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