I just noticed a user who has apparently been penalty-boxed until April 27, 2019. The notification over his/her profile reads:

This account is temporarily suspended to cool down. The suspension period ends on Apr 27 '19 at 8:17.

Is that correct, or a bug?

I found a similar question about a user boxed to "cool down" for a long period, though not as long as this: What could cause users to be placed in the penalty box for an entire year?

The answer on that post lists one possible reason for arbitrarily long suspensions as:

When the user is underage (you must be at least 13 years old to use sites in the SE network).

Assuming that means a suspension until you're old enough, that's probably not the case here since it would mean this user just turned seven years old (and joined SO when they were five).

Another possible reason listed there:

When it is apparent that the user has made no attempt whatsoever to find out what the site is about and how to be a good citizen of the site, and it is clear that the user is unlikely to reform (i.e. spammers and low quality contributors).

Could this be an explanation, then - that the decision was made that this user wasn't going to change and so was effectively suspended indefinitely?

I can link to the user if necessary, but wanted to avoid any Streisanding.

EDIT: Just to clarify, I'm not interested in the gory details of this particular user (part of the reason I didn't link there). The question is about whether that far-flung date is correct, and if so what the general explanation for that long of a suspension would be.

  • 2
    Certain individuals 'worked overtime' to earn themselves, as it were, transportation to the New World. The expression 'he who shall not be named' springs to mind.
    – Rosinante
    Jun 3, 2012 at 22:05
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    Other were determined to be (or to be representing themselves as) younger than the age limit in the terms of service (which are driven by US internet privacy laws). Jun 3, 2012 at 22:07
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    I'm interested in what these downvotes mean. Should I have known that such long suspensions were possible? Is the subject taboo? Jun 3, 2012 at 22:32
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    The subject isn't taboo as such, but it could be that Meta users are tired of talking about whoever was hit with that suspension (I assume it's either a Chet, a Rich, or an Evan). No reason not to ask though
    – Pekka
    Jun 3, 2012 at 23:17
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    Yeah, it's come up quite a bit before, and the reason seems fairly obvious if you knew we don't have (or really need) a lifetime ban .
    – Ben Brocka
    Jun 3, 2012 at 23:59

2 Answers 2


Could this be an explanation, then - that the decision was made that this user wasn't going to change and so was effectively suspended indefinitely?

It's likely a safe bet.

Really long suspension times are reserved for especially egregious abuses. I don't really want to offer specific examples lest they be construed as one of the reasons the user in question was suspended for.

In general, we do not discuss why specific users are suspended. That's between them and us. If a user leaves their contact information in their profile, feel free to contact them directly and ask.

  • Thanks for clarifying - I'm not trying to dig up any details, but was interested in the general explanation. Jun 3, 2012 at 22:22
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    More likely repeated abuse, even after warnings and shorter periods of suspension. In this specific case quick look in his activity showed he was in an edit rampage, bumping his answers with meaningless edits just to gain more reputation. Jun 4, 2012 at 8:29
  • @ShaWizDowArd: But wouldn't that be counterproductive by turning them into CW after a while? Aug 8, 2012 at 5:04
  • @Mechanicalsnail 12 edits.. that's a long while. Aug 8, 2012 at 6:30

Adam Lear’s answer is correct, but there is one other possible (and in a way, more innocent) reason for extremely long suspensions: The Super User moderators at some point started to merge all spam accounts into a single user (this has several interesting implications for spamfighting) instead of outright deleting them. The target user, into which 487 users have been merged to this date, is currently suspended until 2025. There’s obviously no reason to ever have this “user” not be suspended.

I don't know if other site moderators have started doing this as well.

  • 1
    Funny, the target user is linked to an "active" SO account. He must have been a spammer on SU. Jun 4, 2012 at 7:41
  • Hmm.. got me thinking. Is there a chance several moderators gave one year suspension and it "stacked" to 7 years? Can happen when there are several different flags, each handled by a different moderator what do you think? Jun 4, 2012 at 8:33
  • @ShaDowWizArd Any particular reason you felt the need to link to the exact account, when everyone was careful to point out that there's absolutely no way specifics will be discussed? Also suspensions don't stack up, I suspended a user on ProgSE seconds after a fellow mod had already suspended them, and the suspension period was unaffected.
    – yannis
    Jun 4, 2012 at 9:26
  • @Yannis didn't understand people were avoiding from posting it - this is now fixed. I still wonder though, how come 7 years - I was under the impression one year is considered the maximum and if after such period in suspension the user still didn't learn the lesson then even longer period is placed. Jun 4, 2012 at 10:01
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    @ShaDowWizArd The actual maximum is about 13 years (or maybe 26... I can't recall if it's 5000 days or 9999). Multi-year suspensions are usually our way of saying someone's not welcome to return regardless of their intentions to improve.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Jun 4, 2012 at 14:56
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    @Anna fair enough, but still - the official blog post says your account will be placed in timed suspension for anywhere from 1 to 365 days so doesn't it need to be changed? Jun 4, 2012 at 20:25
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    @ShaDowWizArd I personally don't think it's a huge deal. This isn't something set in stone... and "anywhere from 1 to 5000" days would look silly.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Jun 4, 2012 at 20:29
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    @AnnaLear: "About 13 years (or maybe 26)." Basically a whole generation. By that time, there would likely be a whole new set of technologies, and maybe a new technological "ethos."
    – Tom Au
    Sep 29, 2013 at 19:12
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    @TomAu This is a moot point now. The max suspension length available to moderators now is 365 days.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Sep 29, 2013 at 21:51
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    Out of curiosity, what's the advantage of merging spam accounts into one user? (And keeping it alive?) // To the point: why suspend someone for 7 years rather than indefinitely / forever? Oct 22, 2018 at 17:50
  • @Cerberus_Reinstate-Monica Any advantage to doing so at the time has since dissipated due to later system updates. Back then, the system didn't retain any info on deleted users, and SpamRam didn't exist in its current form, so mods made use of an ad-hoc workaround to work around these features not yet existing. (Merging accounts was something mods could do at the time, but was later restricted to SE employees.) Second, with regard to suspensions, "indefinite" suspensions don't exist, they're only time-definite, so really long times are used instead. Nov 1, 2020 at 19:44

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