Currently, each site of the SE network handles user issues separately. Moderators don't have access to the suspension history and annotations on other SE sites, they will generally judge users based solely on the history the user has on their site, previous behaviour on other sites doesn't matter.

In some cases a moderator might have heard about a specific users' actions on other sites as they were discussed in the moderator chat room. In those cases the moderator might be influenced by this knowledge and therefore less inclined to give that user the benefit of the doubt he might give to completely unknown users. But the moderator actions are still solely based on the actions on that specific site, not on the history of the user on other sites.

Should the history of a user on other sites matter for moderator decisions, or should we keep moderator decisions on the site level, and ignore the network-level behaviour of a user for local decisions?

To make it more specific, should a user that has been suspended multiple times on other SE sites be treated the same as a user that has no history on other sites? Or should a negative history on other sites lead to quicker suspensions for problematic behaviour or longer suspension times than for users without a history of annotations or suspensions?

  • On Programmers we typically send a mod message on first offence, and go with a suspension only if the user continues to be disruptive. However in a recent suspension, I skipped the warning after checking the user's network profile and finding out they were suspended at another site at the time (for the same reason). Decided to skip the warning as I felt they knew what not to do, and didn't feel obliged to tell them one more time. The user has been brought up in TL a few times, but I hope I managed to ignore the private discussions that had nothing to do with Programmers. – yannis Jul 6 '12 at 14:35

It's true that we occasionally encounter users that are problematic on quite a few sites within the network. To that, I can only say that their reputation precedes them. We can not help but be influenced by the following:

  • Previous interactions moderators of other sites may have had with the user that we're aware of.

  • Previous interactions we may have had with the user on other sites.

With that being said, it's hard to answer precisely without the context of a theoretical infraction.

Take for instance rude or abusive behavior. If it seems like an isolated incident, we probably don't need to issue a suspension. We send a message to the user, quote the appropriate parts of the FAQ and trust that they'll cool down.

If I strongly suspect that the user is not going to stop with a warning, it's my job to prevent them from causing additional disruptions so I would likely issue a suspension. In this case, such a suspicion could be simply based on my assessment of the incident at hand, knowledge of the user's prior behavior on other sites or both.

I try my very best to do only the minimum that is needed to ensure that the disruption stops. Not putting all of my knowledge and experience to work in that decision would be slighting the community. It really does depend on the user and the situation.

In short, moderators should take prior and perhaps confidential knowledge under advisement, then decide on and apply the minimum amount of intervention required.

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