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Stack Overflow has successfully borrowed at least one XBox feature (Achievements). I'd like to see another feature borrowed as well.

Let's say I'm playing Halo online and another player is being a bigot. I have the option to add him to a list of ignored users. After doing that, all the racist things he says will never be heard through my headphones anymore.

Now, on Stack Overflow, I'd like the ability to add a user to a list of ignored users. This would hide all of that user's comments, and maybe his questions and answers as well (not sure if hiding questions/answers is necessary).

This serves multiple purposes:

  1. It would make it easy for users to avoid other users' flamebait.
  2. It would give users a more appropriate response to flamebait.
  3. The ability to start flame wars would be reduced, since fewer users would see those comments.
  4. Users would now have an incentive to be more diplomatic, as there is now a negative consequence to the behavior (the silent treatment).
  5. Administrators could review which users are the most often ignored, which would be a strong indication that someone should be put in the penalty box or even locked out of their account.
  6. Administrators wouldn't have to spend as much time dealing with complaints about abusive users, since users would have a better way to respond.


annakata makes a good point in a comment to an answer, that I thought should get more visibility:

I had a problem, reported it and got the response "not bad enough to do anything about, sorry". Which is kind of true, because the only options available to the mods are the nuclear one (penalty box) and the zero-effect one (do nothing). We need a middle ground option where abuse can be handled for you without also being handled for everyone.

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Sorry Kip, I'm with ya, but let's keep this feature suggestion in the abstract –  Kyle Cronin Jul 7 '09 at 20:14
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Fighting with "Power Users" and moderators. Gutsy. –  Jeffrey Jul 7 '09 at 20:14
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This would be my #1 feature request by a long mile –  bananakata Jul 7 '09 at 20:31
    
@kyle: it was an accidental edit collision, i promise! you're right, the original text was probably a little hypocritical in that it was complaining about "comments engineered to incite flame wars". :( –  Kip Jul 7 '09 at 20:33
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@Kyle, nice edit... @Kip, pretty funny alias! –  Mark Harrison Jul 8 '09 at 7:35
    
Comment to #6. Don't we WANT the moderators to focus attention on this? This is sort of like vigilantism, except you're only helping yourself, and you're not going to the proper authorities. –  devinb Jul 8 '09 at 21:30
    
@devinb maybe i'm wrong and they do want to be bothered by this kind of stuff all the time. i don't know. if i was an moderator, i'd want users to have more options to resolve these things themselves. –  Kip Jul 9 '09 at 12:37
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+1. Useful for other reasons than avoiding abusive users too. –  MarkJ Sep 16 '09 at 21:07
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+1. I would very much like to see this implemented. –  TrueWill Oct 11 '09 at 0:45
    
+1 from me too. I suggested such a feature back when we used UserVoice (stackoverflow.uservoice.com/forums/1722-general/suggestions/…), but it was turned down. I hope they will implement it. –  Chris Jester-Young Mar 6 '10 at 2:21
    
Pretty please can we get this feature.. if you add the ability that once I put them on ignore they cannot upvote downvote etc anything I do. ...with sugar on top? –  Locutus Mar 19 '10 at 20:04
    
@Locutus So, instead of an "ignore" feature, you want to have the power to literally remove someone else from the site? –  devinb May 23 '10 at 17:55
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This is the most extreme example of closed-mindedness that I can possibly imagine. It also pushes SO in completely the wrong direction, to a site focused on users and social interaction, rather than one based on questions and answers. I'm very much opposed, and not in the way that "I would never use this", but in the way that "I think this is actively harmful for the site". If there is a problem, we want you to point it out to the moderators. If it's not worth pointing out, then you're obviously being over-sensitive and need to grow up a bit. Don't improve the site only for yourself. –  Cody Gray Jul 27 '11 at 5:00
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Much needed feature.. :( –  Andrew Thompson Dec 15 '13 at 15:01
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@ShaWizDowArd It's not declined, but there are no immediate plans to implement it. This question picked up a flag along the lines of "status-deferred was added 3 years ago and it looks a bit silly", and I agree with that. –  Anna Lear Dec 16 '13 at 0:04
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15 Answers

up vote 50 down vote accepted

I'd love an ignore feature.

Related: Greasemonkey: Ignore User Script

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@Kip: I'm the one who flagged your comments as offensive btw. –  devinb Jul 7 '09 at 21:49
    
@devinb: apparently users aren't informed in any way that their comments have been flagged offensive. @RSolberg i'm not sure if you're serious or playing along with my sarcasm, but i'm deleting the comment since the relevant part of the question has long since been edited out. @Jonathan my first comment was just a joke, i had hoped the smilie would give that away but sarcasm doesn't always come through on the web. in any case, you might want to remove the first two sentences from this answer, to be consistent with the revised question. –  Kip Jul 8 '09 at 4:42
    
@Kip: Sarcasm or not, be respectful. Your comment was out of line. –  RSolberg Jul 8 '09 at 17:59
    
@Kip, I wasn't sure if you were informed or not, I just wanted to give you a heads up so you knew. I have no problem with your behaviour in general (you're generally really solid) but that particular comment I found offensive, and I didn't want to hide behind anonymity. But it's all good now =D. Friends? –  devinb Jul 8 '09 at 21:25
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This would be great for ignoring people whose opinions, as expressed in answers are part of a world view I do not embrace. –  Tim Williscroft Apr 13 '10 at 1:46
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Be careful not to commit the Genetic Fallacy Mr. Williscroft :) Good answers are good answers regardless where they originate. –  Jonathan Sampson Apr 13 '10 at 2:19
    
REAL ignore feature that keeps trolls from harassing other users, please. –  千里ちゃん Oct 12 '11 at 16:11
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Stack Overflow is not meant to be a developer social networking Web site (this has been mentioned in the podcasts). It's a Q&A site. People are not at the forefront of Stack Overflow, questions and answers are.

Users are relevant for their authorship, not for their presence. There's absolutely no point in ignoring a user. You shouldn't really care who says something but rather, what is said.

You can ignore tags because they represent content, not users.

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Technically, you're right. But the fact that we are having this discussion demonstrates that MetaSO is more social than many are ready to admit. –  Jonathan Sampson Jul 7 '09 at 23:33
    
Anyhow, it's a place for discussion. You can either choose not to participate or if you do, listen to what everyone says and don't judge them by who they are. It's not a place for ad hominem arguments. –  LeakyCode Jul 8 '09 at 0:11
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the problem is that many of us feel compelled to respond to ad hominem attacks directed at us, or misrepresentation of our own statements. it's human nature, and it is what the flame-baiting user counts on. the best solution, if the moderators don't agree that the user should be penalty boxed, is for us to ignore the user and go on with our life. and it is easier to ignore what you can't see. –  Kip Jul 8 '09 at 5:06
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It might be human nature but humans should learn and practice not to give in to their emotions all the time. –  LeakyCode Jul 8 '09 at 5:14
    
(after heavy snipping) "Stack Overflow is not... a developer social networking Web site ... It's a Q&A site." Yeah, a community-driven Q&A site, which means it has to have some sort of community, which means it has to have certain features for this community. –  Super Long Names are Hilarious Sep 16 '09 at 22:43
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Ignoring the user and concentrating just on what they say sounds somewhat reasonable...until the 10th time in a day when you see someone doing something that is rude and annoying. Why should I subject myself to listening to someone on the vauge and unlikely hope that they'll eventually become tolerable? –  beska Oct 21 '09 at 17:26
    
beska: StackOverflow is not supposed to influence your life that way. If you find yourself in that situation, you should leave SO for a few hours IMO. –  LeakyCode Oct 21 '09 at 17:36
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@Mehrdad: SO isn't supposed to influence my life in that way? I'm not supposed to find someone irritating if they act like a boor? In general, this isn't an issue...the people here are usually grand. But if I stepped away for a few hours every time this person irritated me, I'd spend a heck of a lot of time away. And exactly what would that accomplish? I'd come back, and that person would still be annoying, insulting, and unhelpful. –  beska Oct 21 '09 at 21:41
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-1: Once the quality of the user has been identified, it can be used to guess the quality of their questions, answers, and comments. If user A has determined that the cost of reading user B's posts often exceeds the value, then this feature would be quite handy. –  MaxGuernseyIII Apr 20 '10 at 15:43
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Then why do we display badges? Why do we display accept rate? Why do we display user reputation next to every single one of their questions and answers? We do we even have reputation? Yes, the site is primarily about content, but we don't ignore the existence of the people behind the content. The core reputation system is a social system, like it or not. If we can reward good behavior, I don't see why we can't have tools to help us ignore bad behavior. –  ベレアー アダム Apr 20 '10 at 19:19
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There is one user I really, really, really want to ignore. He's developed quite a reputation for himself on Usenet (over a span of years) and on the Caml mailing list. I would like to remove him from my SO experience. The person is the source of consistently offensive content. –  Norman Ramsey May 23 '10 at 3:18
    
I would like to ignore Jitendra's questions. –  meder Jul 13 '10 at 18:15
    
So you intend to disregard the fact that users can consistently commit unuseful information. At that point.... why moderate? Why ban accounts? –  Lee Louviere Jun 23 '11 at 18:13
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@Xaada I'm not against banning a user by the system/community. I'm against individual blacklists. –  LeakyCode Jun 23 '11 at 21:13
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I disagree, because the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. –  Duncan Babbage Nov 20 '11 at 1:44
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See here for my thoughts on this; short version:

  • I genuinely don't think the team should add this
  • if an individual post offends you: flag that post
  • it the mere existence of another user offends you: grow up
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I don't think anybody suggested that they are offended/upset by the mere existence of another user. +1 though. I agree with everything else. –  Jonathan Sampson Jul 8 '09 at 18:01
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@Jonathan, when you suggest that you want to ignore EVERYTHING a user does, then you ARE in fact suggesting that you are offended by their existence on the site. You are saying "this person is beyond any sort of repair or compromise and I am not willing to try. So I would like them to disappear" –  devinb Jul 8 '09 at 21:27
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@devinb Do you think I place people in my ignore list prior to any engagement with them? No? Then it's not based on their existence. It's based on my interaction with them in the past. Right now, my list is 1 item deep. Based on several engagement with a particular user - not based on the users existence. Because I cannot programmatically determine the offensiveness of a particular statement, I've chosen to ignore everything. Frankly, nobody is hurt, and I am once again happy to visit MetaSO daily :) –  Jonathan Sampson Jul 10 '09 at 13:47
    
I know you're busy and don't want to repeat yourself, but I wish you would expound more on your reasons here. I find them more compelling than Mehrdad's reasons, but I'm still not convinced. –  Super Long Names are Hilarious Sep 16 '09 at 22:45
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I think Jonathan has nailed it here. It's not the mere existence of a particular user that bothers people...it's the continued behaviors of that user. Is it really more adult to say, well, "you've been rude and insulting the last 30 times I've read your comments, but I'll be forcing myself to read them anyway." Why should people have to subject themselves to abuse just to be "grown up"? –  beska Oct 21 '09 at 21:47
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Put another way, I think it is a bit more "adult" to just say, "well, I listened to this person for a while, but I am no longer interested in listening to them." That seems fine. I'm a bit loathe to flag every comment that is insulting because that seems a lot more like trying to force my beliefs on others...I'm basically saying "I don't like this person, and I don't think anyone should listen to them." I'll do that for things that are really egregious, but I'd like to lean towards the side of tolerence, and just say, well, others can do what they want, but I'm done with you. –  beska Oct 21 '09 at 21:49
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Marc, I'm tired of a user who is not egregious in invidual posts, but whose aggregate behavior is driving me up a tree. Should I start flagging comments that are not individually egregious but which, in my opinion, are in aggregate a significant detriment to the community? –  Norman Ramsey May 23 '10 at 3:19
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yes, flag start flagging comments that are not individually egregious but which, in my opinion, are in aggregate a significant detriment to the community –  Ian Ringrose Mar 24 '11 at 14:40
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Similar to Usenet KILLFILE

I like this idea. From Usenet experience, there's always a couple of odd characters who seem to contribute little to discussions but are able to stir up way more than their share of controversy.

It's nice to be able to just ignore the controversy. Plus it gives people the ever-satisfactory rejoinder to any disagreement, "that's it, you're going into my killfile!"

As a practical thing, it might be useful to moderators to see which users are being ignored by lots of other users.

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Might be helpful in some scenarios, but... I'd feel pretty foolish if I posted a new comment/question/answer only to find out it was the exact duplicate of a very popular comment/question/answer posted an hour ago by someone I was ignoring.

As Leaky notes, this isn't a social networking site. If someone is annoying you that much, either they're using the site wrong or you are - either way, the solution is for one/both of you to knock it off, not let one/both of you ignore it while the rest of us have to keep littering up the place.

This is declined for the main Q&A sites, but note that chat is meant as a social environment, and so it does have an "ignore" feature.

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You could probably permit their questions - but ignore their comments/answers. –  Jonathan Sampson Jul 7 '09 at 20:19
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Perhaps you could make it ignore them like you can ignore specific tags? - That way when the system does it's magic search when you ask a question, it will bring back answers that you'd otherwise ignore. –  Rowland Shaw Jul 7 '09 at 20:20
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@Jonathan: The same is true for answers. You could write the same thing as answer someone on your ignore list did 2 hours ago. Then be not surprised, if you are downvoted ;-) –  Ladybug Killer Jul 8 '09 at 18:15
    
you wouldn't feel foolish if you couldn't have seen that post ;) –  user1505004 Jul 17 '12 at 18:31
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Every possible feature must be examined with a few variables in mind.

  • How does this benefit individual users (consumers)
  • How does this benefit all users (community)
  • How does this contribute to the goals of the site

How does this benefit individual users

This can be subdivided into three categories: Ignorers, Problem Users, Bystanders

Ignorers

This group benefits the most, obviously. There is some user that they do not want to see anymore. Those comments will disappear, those answers will disappear, and those questions will disappear. The minor consistency problems with this have been illustrated already. But those could be mitigated by simply having an 'IgnoredComment' pop-up of some kind. Configurable, of course. Like the ignored tags.

The downside is that this user could potentially miss out on a good question or good answer. But it's a huge community, so they probably wouldn't be missed. The ignorers will end up being more productive and happier as a result.

Problem Users

These users are annoying. They're not offensive, otherwise their comments could be flagged as offensive. They are not spamming, otherwise their comments/questions could be flagged as spam. The behaviours that they are exhibiting are simply annoying for whatever reason. The moderators cannot do anything because they are not breaking any rules. So they simply continue to exist and make life worse for those around them.

Once they are being ignored, they have no way of knowing it. They are not being told to get better, they will not notice that they are being ignored. There will be literally no indication to them that they are expected to improve. Furthermore, if someone does tell them to improve (someone who has helpfully not put them on ignore) and they DO improve, they will still be on ignore lists, which means that their past behaviour precludes them from fully participating ever again. As one poster points out: being NEW is considered crime enough to put them on the ignore list.

This also means that users are punished for disagreement. I am someone who believes that many architecture decisions are complex, and therefore there can be many contradictory but independently correct solutions. This means that there will be arguments. I will downvote and comment on questions, and the author will clearly disagree with me. If that user gets frustrated with me, they could just say "I'm ignoring you!" and then feel smugly superior, like they won the argument. In fact, they are simply running away. They have no convinced me of their opinion, they have not convinced me to change my behaviour. Especially on meta, where discussion (heated sometimes) is encouraged, this feature would be counter-productive. You would lose out on voices of dissent. I'm not saying that these people are right, but if you just white-wash and convince yourself that no one disagrees, then you are LOSING out on valuable input.

Furthermore, if there is as few as one incident, they can be ignored. And there is no way to redeem yourself. You are just gone. This goes against the point of SO, where content is judged individually, and the votes speak for themselves.

The Problem Users who, as I've highlighted, are not necessarily problematic at all, will have a much much worse user experience, with no guidance as to how to improve.

Bystanders

Bystanders are everyone else involved. If the ignorers start ignoring people, the bystanders still have to see them. But, there will be fewer people actually trying to help those problematic users. It means that for the bystanders (the bulk of the community) the general product will be worse. The annoying people are still being annoying, but there are fewer people reporting them. If they attempt to answer a question for a user who is on many people's [ignored] list, then there will be fewer people to comment and provide feedback. If they edit a bad question and make it better, this will also be [ignored] by those ignorers. Ultimately, it means that the bystanders will end up seeing less information from the good users, and more information from the bad users, because there are fewer people trying to keep the content-to-noise ratio down.

For bystanders, the net result will be bad.

How does this benefit all users

As I said in the bystanders section. This feature is anti-community. It encourages us to ignore problems rather than try to solve them (an interesting position on a problem solving website). The bad users are still bad, but no one is going to make them better. The reason this community is so strong is that it takes good programmers and makes them better, and it takes bad programmers and makes them into good ones. Those programmers will then become huge advocates who will contribute strongly to the community.

But that won't happen anymore. We are writing off people who need improvement. We are also writing off people who have abrasive personalities, despite the positive things they could contribute.

Another aspect to consider is the effect on new users. I'll illustrate with a trivial/silly example (please don't extend this past the purpose I'm bringing here) If you live in a messy apartment, but you just ignore the mess, and live there just fine. Every new person you show your apartment to is going to comment on the mess. But you don't notice anymore, so you think it's fine.

New users are going to find that there is a lot of spam, and a lot of annoying users. This will cause them to turn around and leave. Yes there is an "ignore user" option, but they won't know about that initially, and they won't bother with trying to get value from the site, when it is clearly just overrun with spam.

How does this contribute to the goals of the site

The goal of the site is to be a repository of information. That means, taking common questions and putting them in front of as many people as possible, and letting the best answers be decided by the community. Adding the ability to ignore users means that the questions (which could be useful to everyone) will no longer be seen by everyone. That means that users who could have provided incredible answers that were read by everyone will now not do so, just because the question asker did not meet their personal standards.

Ultimately, this feature does not contribute to the goals of the site.

Breakdown

Benefit to individual users: Ignorers: Positive Benefit to individual users: Ignored: Very Negative Benefit to individual users: Bystanders: Negative

Benefit to community: Negative

Contribute to site goals: Mostly Negative

SOLUTIONS

Just move on. If their comments annoy you, move on.

If their comments are offensive. Flag them.

If their questions are spam/offensive/argumentative. Flag them. Close them. Report them.

Lastly, (for those with the strength of will) engage them. Try to help them. Why are they argumentative? Are they naturally douchey, is there a language barrier, do they have an aggressive oratorical style? Did their wife just cheat on them with their best friend and that bitch wants my car now too?

I can't rule any of those things out, and I really don't care. I just want to contribute to this community as much as I can.

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Great analysis, +1 –  Gnoupi Apr 21 '10 at 11:39
    
there are ways around some of the problems you raise. first, ignoring a user could automatically flag that comment. if a user is ignored by several people, moderators can investigate and the user might be warned or put in the penalty box. second, the ignores could expire after, say, 2 months. mostly you would ignore in the heat of the moment when someone is provoking you. and lastly, i don't think we'd see a site full of jerks that all the regulars ignore. ignoring would probably be done by a few users in a few cases. if someone gets ignored by everyone then they should probably be banned. –  Kip Apr 21 '10 at 14:49
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"Ignoring a user could automatically flag that comment." This makes assumptions about implementation details. Also, if the comment is worth flagging then flag it. If a users comments are repeatedly flagged, they will be removed or penalty boxed. On the other hand, if the users comments aren't flaggable, then reporting them wouldn't be appropriate. –  devinb Apr 21 '10 at 14:58
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Second, having expiration date on the ignore is extremely counter-intuitive and harms usability. If you're ignoring someone, you are saying they aren't worth your time. This suggestion actually dilutes your own argument because you're saying "well, I only want to ignore them for as long as they are annoying me" which would be a great feature, but it is impossible. –  devinb Apr 21 '10 at 14:59
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Third your "Ignoring would probably done by a few users in a few cases" is (strawman ahead) a great argument for legalizing murder. That's a bad example (I know). But you are saying that you want this feature even though you wouldn't want it to actually be used by everyone. Features are created to be used. If that use is harmful, then they should not be created at all. –  devinb Apr 21 '10 at 15:01
    
i'm not saying that i wouldn't want it to actually be used by everyone. i'm saying that it simply wouldn't actually be used by everyone. features are created to be used where appropriate. i don't see the situation where someone ignores someone happening all that often, unless the site starts attracting the kind of people who leave comments on YouTube. and if it turns out that the feature is being overused, then it could be reevaluated. it's not like any of the rules are set in stone here (i.e. the global rep recalc). –  Kip Apr 21 '10 at 17:57
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@Kip means the feature wouldn't shouldn't be arbitrarily used. Likewise neither should moderation. The fact of the matter is there are two users that if I didn't have to see, I would participate more. Sure I could be a little more mature and ignore them in my head. However, you can't make a horse drink. This is a content site, and not giving users control over what content they can see will result in them doing it themselves (Greasemonkey), which means the control of that feature is out of the hands of the community. –  Lee Louviere Jun 23 '11 at 18:20
    
Let my abrasive personality wholeheartedly applaud this answer! There is one important question missing near the end, "Consider the possibility you are possibly being abrasive yourself?" –  Steven Jeuris Mar 7 '12 at 17:14
    
"Just move on." Can't we write a program to do it for me? –  Ian Boyd Apr 14 '12 at 20:52
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If we're following the xbox live model, well they have flagging... and they have mute. was that a mistake then?

My view is that if the lack of a mute feature causes someone to want to not spend time on SO, well that's a serious problem for SO. It does not seem that the penalty box has been a sufficient deterrent.

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But the "ignore feature" and "penalty box" have different goals. One is for self-gratification, the other is for community improvement. If, as you say, the penalty box is insufficient deterrent (I TOTALLY agree) then we should improve the ability of the moderators and the community to help/encourage users to stop being problems. We should focus on features and methods which are geared towards community improvement. –  devinb Apr 22 '10 at 7:56
    
@devinb: In principle I'd completely agree, but in practice I think all attempts are doomed to failure for at least some cases and I'd rather provide a nuclear option. Hopefully you don't have to use it. –  bananakata May 24 '10 at 20:27
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Users who are annoying for whatever reason are definitely a problem, but I question whether this solution could be implemented well. Turning on "Ignore" functionality almost always leads to consequences that are different than the original problem, but just as bad. Simple example:

Alice is ignoring Bob, but otherwise everyone can see everything.

Alice: [relevant comment]
Bob: [trollish comment]
Carl: [something along the lines of "shut up and go away"]
Alice: Hey, what was that for?

Adding things like only ignoring comments or only ignoring questions makes the whole mess even stickier.

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[trollish comment] –  Bob Apr 20 '10 at 18:00
    
Hmmm... [feature-request] Allow me to use all of my comment votes for one day on a single comment. –  Pops Apr 20 '10 at 18:10
    
of course, the same thing happens today if bob deletes his own comment, or if a moderator deletes bob's comment –  Kip Apr 21 '10 at 18:01
    
@Kip: true, but that's only motivation to come up with an even better solution, like @mvid's. –  Pops Apr 21 '10 at 19:30
    
@Bob: Well played, old chap. Well played! –  dmckee Nov 9 '10 at 3:56
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Wouldn't Carl say "@Bob: Shut up and go away", not just "Shut up and go away"? –  Andrew Grimm May 20 '11 at 7:33
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Something like this was declined on UV, but there weren't any reasons given, so I can only guess. I think Jeff's preferred solution is to warn such a person, use the penalty box if need be, and if they fail to shape up, take more drastic action:

(This should probably go without saying, but if the problem behaviors continue beyond the timed suspension, your account is very likely to be permanently deleted.)

Further, in systems where I've seen an ignore feature implemented, it always results in confusion. People appear to answering questions that nobody has asked, non-sequiturs abound, information gets duplicated. I don't favor it for this reason.

EDIT:

The whole Greasemonkey thing had me thinking about this again. How would ignoring even help in the case of an edit-war, like one that hypothetically, maybe, allegedly, theoretically inspired this thread?

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@Pesto: Shhhhhhhhh. –  GEOCHET Jul 7 '09 at 21:00
    
@Pesto: this particular post inspired by flame wars in comments rather than edit wars. –  Kip Jul 7 '09 at 21:07
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Perhaps this concept could be extended; when a question gets enough downvotes, it can be closed. Similarly, if a user gets enough "ignores", perhaps their behavior can be flagged for review / probation / whatever.

This would serve a different purpose than flagging a post; flagging a post indicates that the post is offensive. Ignoring a user indicates that the "ignorer" finds the "ignoree" so offensive that they don't care whatever they say. Plus, if I'm ignoring the user, I won't end up flagging their posts, which could tend to mean that their offensive behavior gets "unflagged" long enough to offend more new users who haven't learned to ignore that user.

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Well... there's already a "flag" feature. –  Shog9 Jul 7 '09 at 22:45
    
Just flag the post. –  GEOCHET Jul 7 '09 at 22:46
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Flagging doesn't seem to get much done, to be honest. –  Paul Sonier Jul 7 '09 at 22:53
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@McWaffleStix: That is not what I have found. Perhaps you are not flagging things that actually require action? –  GEOCHET Jul 7 '09 at 23:08
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What if we filtered users the same way we filter tags? The responses are still there, just kind of grayed out. You can still see the actual content (for dupe purposes), but it is not going to jump out at you.

It could also work the opposite way, allowing you to hilight users you believe are more knowledgeable/useful.

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"The responses are still there, just kind of grayed out." Yep. Spot on, I think this serves the 'best of all worlds'. –  Andrew Thompson Dec 15 '13 at 14:14
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I like this idea, I would use it for other purposes too.

  • Sometimes someone pops up and quickly asks a flurry of beginner questions on one of my interesting tags. Nothing wrong with that, but I prefer to leave them to other people to answer, and I don't find the discussions interesting either. I'd like to ignore their questions - just a personal decision. I know, it's probably bad karma.
  • This is rarer, but I've noticed some people are very free with downvotes. I've posted (IMHO) quite nice answers on their questions, and they downvote because of a niggle with my phrasing. I check their homepage, and they dish out 10x more downvotes than upvotes. Again, a personal decision but I prefer to avoid their questions in future. Not just because I'm rep farming, but it's just a discouraging scene.

I would not ignore these people's answers or comments, just their questions.

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why ignore beginner questions, if you can provide good answers to them? –  warren Nov 29 '09 at 2:50
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@warren: Because, for whatever reason, he's not interested in answering them. There's no quota he has to fill. Rep is designed to encourage answering, but answering questions isn't required. –  beska Apr 12 '10 at 20:44
    
@beska - true enough it's not "required".. I guess I'm wondering how do you classify "beginner"? Beginner to the whole process? In that language/tag? I could see those self-same "beginner" questions and have no clue because it's an area I know nothing about, or I think is more advanced than where I am. –  warren Apr 13 '10 at 13:37
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@warren, @beska Nice of you to stop by :) There was a couple of users posting many beginner type questions - which is fine. But they didn't seem to benefit from the answers. I noticed them asking effectively the same question five or six times over several months, and they didn't seem to learn anything. I tried to politely point out that the questions were effectively duplicates, and the answers they'd accepted should mean the later questions were unnecessary. But there was no response. In the end I gave up on them (though the community kept helping them - it was a personal choice) –  MarkJ Apr 13 '10 at 16:36
    
(-1) I disagree with you. Please see my response. –  devinb Apr 21 '10 at 9:30
    
@devinb Fair enough. I will continue manually ignoring people. –  MarkJ Apr 21 '10 at 12:48
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This would be a good idea, because, if users on SE don't want to be annoyed by certain other users, they should be allowed to do so, conveniently.

I'd also say that if a certain user gets ignored by too many users, we could put his account in suspension.... that's up to the moderators, but it might be a good idea as that particular user is not doing any good towards SE, and only annoys others.

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I don't like the idea of the automatic suspension, it would be prone to abuse. A better thing to do in that case would be to have an automatic flag on the person so a mod could take any action if necessary. –  Jeff Mercado Jul 27 '11 at 3:53
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I initially didn't like this idea, but after seeing this and this I really think that there is a possible need for this in the future. Stack Overflow and Server Fault are more focussed then Stack Overflow, and Stack Overflow is bound to attract a lot more hate than the other sites.

Any moderators on Stack Overflow will require hair on their teeth and all the forces of the League of Justice) combined.

I realise there is a Greasemonkey script for this, however I don't use Firefox and work on any of 5 different machines at any given time, these are not working solutions for me.

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Eh? Those questions are from two different users. –  Shog9 Jul 31 '09 at 19:40
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"SO and SF are more focused then SO, and SO is bound to attract a lot more hate then the other sites." Is that a typo? Which one of those is MSO? –  Mark C Apr 12 '10 at 19:55
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Anyone offensive enough for you to ignore is offensive enough for you to report to the Stack Overflow team.

They are quite effective at cracking down on offensive users.

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I have to say this isn't true (and with good reason). I had a problem, reported it and got the response "not bad enough to do anything about, sorry". Which is kind of true, because the only options available to the mods are the nuclear one (penalty box) and the zero-effect one, (do nothing). We need a middle ground option where abuse can be handled for you without also being handled for everyone. Kyle's point #6 in the question is a good reason for this too. –  bananakata Jul 8 '09 at 19:24
    
@annakata: moderators do actually have a few other tools... They can lock disputed posts 'till things cool down, they can merge questions (rather than leaving an argument over whether it's a duplicate or not to sit and brew), and they can instantly delete questions (drastic, but still an action against a question rather than a user). IMHO, these tools are almost always more appropriate than any punitive action against a specific user. –  Shog9 Aug 1 '09 at 2:05
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