I was wondering what's the etiquette about this.
The comments in this question made me wonder if moderators had any guidelines regarding "boxing". I was under the impression that this measure was for serious offense only.
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Personally, I think it is crazy that we even need to have a penalty box. Obviously in the ideal world, we wouldn't need it because folks would be respectful in general. However, that clearly is not the case here on the SO sites, some seem to think that it can't exist on the internet.
For first time offenders, they should be given a warning by a moderator (or higher). The warning does not need to be made public and should be between the moderators and the user. If the behavior is not changed immediately, then the Penalty Box should be used for a minimum of 7 days.
If it is not a first time offender, and the user is up to their old patterns, a stay in the Penalty Box for an entire month would be the last chance for the user. If after a month in the penalty box, the behavior is still unchanged, then a permanent ban should be implemented on that user's account.
The state of Washington has a 3 strikes rule and after your third offense, you are given a life sentence. Maybe taking a harsher stance towards the abuse we've been seeing on the site would help put an end to this ridiculous issue.
I personally think that having class primarily encompasses respect. By no means do I feel that I've always acted that way on this site, but at the end of the day if we all had class, we wouldn't be discussing this right now.
It is up to the discretion of the moderators to decide when to send someone to the box. They are appointed to their positions, and are expected to know what is right and what is wrong. I don't believe it is up to any of us to decide when they can use their powers, after all, they have them for a reason, and we don't. If you feel a moderator has abused their power, email firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss it privately.