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I'm aware of the related questions, but I feel that this remains an issue.

I occasionally encounter "bad" users on SO. They are the exception! But it would be nice to have a way to keep track of them, so I can avoid future arguments.

Looking at the user info visible next to the post, I can see:

  • Handle
  • Reputation
  • Badges
  • Accept rate

Taking these in order:

I'd like to use my brain cells to remember good handles, not bad ones.

A user with low rep may be a newbie, a doppelganger, a non-contributor, etc. Newbies are not evil, and I don't wish to penalize them (especially when they take the time to contribute). A user with higher rep may be a good citizen or a troll. As has been noted before, downvotes seldom affect your rep significantly and may trigger the reverse effect. Argumentative threads may be popular.

Badges are fun, but aren't a good indicator of personality.

Accept rate is a useful indicator, but may also be low for newbies.

Yes, I could drill down to the user's page and examine them more closely. But that takes time away from more useful activities.

One solution might be to come up with a metric of behavior (Alignment? ;) and display that, possibly color-coded. This could be based on the number of flagged posts, suspensions, ratio of positive-to-negative reputation earned, etc. It still wouldn't detect doppelgangers (they'd show up Neutral, like newbies) but would help.

Displaying "member for" time would also help - long-standing members with low reputations might be questionable. Factoring this into the metric might be a better solution.

EDIT: Another possibility would be to allow individual users to "tag" other users as offensive, but only allow the tagger to see the tag. This would be similar to blocking/hiding a user on other sites. On SO hiding might be confusing; perhaps they could be grayed out. This might be the fairest option; if people find me boorish (which is subjective), they could ignore me without affecting anyone else.

...and it appears that this has already been thought of.

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"doppelganger"? What on earth does that mean in this context? – Peter Ajtai Aug 26 '10 at 2:09
up vote 6 down vote accepted

I don't like the 'member for' idea.... some of us don't have a lot of time to invest in building reputation on SO, so we'll be gaining rep slowly. That won't differentiate between a user who took 6 months to hit 1k rep, and a user that burned 2k of 3k rep over the course of that same time-frame.

But it might be interesting to see (positive rep / negative rep) (shown as a ratio, not a percent) for users. I would expect the trolls to have more negative rep relative to their positive rep.

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+1 - good point. Perhaps "member for" would be inappropriate. – TrueWill Oct 11 '09 at 0:30
And something that came up in is bounties. Someone with -1200 points from offering bounties is very different from someone with -1200 points from downvotes. – retracile Oct 13 '09 at 18:57

Sorting the problem users from the beginners seems like an AI complete problem to me. I doubt any simple metric will be reliable.

I find that even looking at a users profile is only the start. To be sure there are a problem, I have to read some of the questions (or rarely answers) linked from the profile to identify a pattern of behavior.

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