Suspension, Ban or Hellban?


But the vast majority of internet users aren’t interrested at all by a website internal politics.
And the very few ones who pretend they truely are should probably get a more meaning full life outside instead don’t you think ?

Install a true democracy in any online community. Most likely ends up as a nolifecracy.

Has anybody ever seen a truely well working online democracy ? please let us know, come on inspire us all please !


Yay freedom of expression. However, if you let a forum be a free-for-all, with no moderation, you don’t get freedom of expression.

When someone particularly unpleasant starts to dominate discussions, lead them somewhere unrelated to the topic of the site, abuse other users, and so on, more polite people simply stop discussing anything in that forum because there is no place for them there. The forum has been taken over, and usually people aren’t even discussing the original topic anymore, just screaming out their own pet points above the din.

I’ll defend your right to say whatever you want, as long as you express your point as an argument and don’t go off on tangents where you personally insult everyone who doesn’t instantly agree.


Haven’t made my mind up about Hellbanning, but Slow and Error banning are bad ideas.

If I visit your site and it’s buggy or slow because of technical issues, should I assume that I’m being chastised and just not come back?


Hellbanning sounds so perfect. Definitely do it! :smiley:


Hellbanning is called bozoizing on bbpress. Hellbanned are bozos there.
A less offensive-programers-snob and more funny-developper-friendly-user-centered term.
One might prefer it for the troups morale !


I’d be okay with the hellban, except for the part where no one knows. That sort of thing leads to admin-abuse, not democracy.

What if mods could hellban a user, but that information is freely available to users with rep >= 3000. Those users (only) can view comments/answers by the hellbanned user, and can vote on them as constructive. If enough comments/answers are voted as constructive, the mod’s hellban is overridden and the user is unbanned.


Does anyone remember the old GameCube game, “Eternal Darkness”?

I’m suddenly having the strangest suspicion that I was being “insanitybanned” from it for disruptive behaviour.

When my StackOverflow screen starts melting or being obscured by swarms of buzzing flies, don’t think I won’t be ONTO you people!



Can anyone see this?


I’m surprised that no one has yet mentioned the technique of “disemvoweling” nuisance posts pioneered on

The idea is to signal disapproval and a warning not by deleting previous disruptive posts, but by making them look ridiculous. (Th pst cn stll b rd wth sm ffrt, bt t dsn’t dsrpt th cnvrstn nymr) This is then combined with flagging a user for moderation for some time period - so that there’s a delay between when they post and when it appears, but also so that future posts are examined by a moderator before going live. It’s been pretty effective there, and on boingboing.

Of course, this requires some active forum moderators, which might not scale to the stackoverflow/stackexchange model. (Then again, it might if moderators only responded when things were flagged)


This makes a lot of sense. One of the few (very few) things I like about how the Yahoo! community works is that when someone reports a user or post and that report is accepted, that person’s reporting influence goes up. When the report is rejected his or her reporting influence goes down.


“Hellbanning” is becoming so ubiquitous (particularly on newspaper sites…) that aspiring trolls have already found the obvious solution; simply create a “stealth” account to check and see if they can view their posts from the “troll” account from time to time.

Got banned? Can’t see your posts? Create new troll account. Laugh at moderators; “Ha, ha - you so smart.”

This tactic also works perfectly well against “errorbanning” and “slowbanning.” Simply check using the stealth account. No errors? Site working fine? Time for a new troll account!

What I think more (any?) sites should do is revive an ancient concept - the killfile. Let the users themselves decide who they don’t want to hear from any more, on an individual basis. Point at a troll’s post, press the “Killfile” button, and you - just you - don’t see any posts from this guy again. This allows maximum flexibility and puts each user in charge of his online experience.

This amounts to a personal-basis hellbanning. The troll vanishes from the radar of each user who finds him annoying - yet his posts remain. All he knows is that apparently no one feels the need to respond to him any longer … and the few newbies who do respond aren’t providing enough fodder for his ego. He rides off into the sunset.


@LukeMorton: The main argument against employing plonking / killfiling comes from the operators of the site, who reason that leaving piles of troll-posts around could discourage new users from “signing up” and participation in the community.

Speaking for myself, I don’t find this argument compelling. I think most new users evaluate the site primarily on the basis of the content itself, and the quality of comments are way down the list. Everyone has been to the internet rodeo by now, and we all know comments are the new usenet.

As a previous poster mentioned, the best solution is a blend of both solutions. Let the users individually plonk posters they no longer want to hear from, and reserve banning / removal of posts for the operators in the case of truly egregious (racism, pr0n, etc…) posts which will reflect badly on the site.


I have to agree with what a few people have already said. The personal ban has always been the most effective method. This was a wonderful feature on Kali. Simply /ban annoyinguser and suddenly you don’t hear from them any more.

Really annoying users would be instantly banned by about 50% of the population. The rest could decide if they wanted to keep seeing those posts or not.


Can hellbanning be redefined as when a user has so worn out his welcome at Stack Overflow that he begins to see fake post answers that point him to an answer at Experts Exchange? :smiley:

That is the most cruel form of punishment for any programmer.


I personally like the concept of hell-banning. what I think is more important is thinking about the limitations placed around this ability. How often can a user be hell-banded? what happens to their posts after the ban has expired? can other users choose to view banned posts? these kinds of questions are what need to be considered when placing a community regulated system in place.


Is the Wired (clueless software developers @ link broken?


Not so sure how well hellbanning would work in an online forum, but I’ve always thought it would be a particularly effective in online gaming; For example, make Xbox Live trolls end up always matched with outher trolls, a “Kiddie Pool” of sorts.

As for message boards, there’s one particular problem I’ve seen with a lot of forums that would seem to be completely immune to this type of moderation: Snobbery. For example, I used to semi-regularly visit a particular popular food and cooking board, and in general, I found it to be highly moderated, but at the same time there was very little of what could be identified as trolling taking place on the board, and what little did make it there generally got taken care of quickly. At the same time, the amount of snobbery going on this board is so ridiculous as to make the board completely and totally useless. Looking for some feedback on a recipe? Get ready to be told that you’re eating pig slop, and that you should really be making (recipe that contains all sorts of ingredients costing twice as much and takes twice as long.) Looking for a restaurant in your neighborhood? You’ll be told that everywhere but (some place 20 miles away costing twice as much) is the only place you should be going. And don’t you dare admit to liking any chain restaurants or any leading national brand products or you’ll be denounced about twenty-seven different ways, none of which actually infringe the rules of the board, but basically make the place unwelcoming to anyone outside of the hippie-organic-megabuck clique that “runs” the place.


Oh, and I thought the Oracle forums were just crappy jive software.


In my opinion, these techniques are as recommended in online communities, as torture is in real life: not at all!


stackoverflow is rubbish these days. no one ever answers my questions, it takes forever to load, and I keep getting random error messages