The last time we've discussed hellbanning, it was in the context of low-quality contributors. I agree that people who post crap should not be hellbanned. Suspension, auto-question ban, and all other tools that the community and community moderators have is sufficient.
For spam however, the problem is different. In the recent spam wave, we realized that the offenders aren't actually employing bots, they are actual humans, posting spam and avoiding the blacklisters and impositions set in place.
The following suggestion resulted from a discussion I had about this subject with Gilles; I must say that this idea is more his than mine.
I propose hellbanning obvious spammers. So that:
- Only a hellbanned user can see his own posts.
- Anonymous or unregistered users from the same IP address can also see the same user's posts. Hopefully in an attempt to delay the spammer's realization that something is wrong.
- Registered users of any IP address, or Unregistered and Anonymous users from any other IP address will not see any of the spammer's posts.
The idea is to make the spammer waste more time than it's worth posting the spam. Right now, it's trivial to post spam, get destroyed, open a new account, and start the cycle again. And if I get IP address banned? Just switch IP address or use a proxy. The thing is, it's super easy, and takes little time.
One can argue that the current system works, six spam flags on larger sites, and moderators on smaller sites. But the point is to make the spammer's life harder, not ours.
An example to make things clearer.
Given two users, S(p)am and Madara, who are neighbours, and share the same IP address (because Sam is a useless leech that lives with his parents at the age of 30, and feeds off my Internet connection).
- Sam posts a spammy question.
- Sam gets noticed by a moderator, and gets hellbanned.
- Sam is happy because his spam wasn't deleted quickly, and keeps posting more and more invisible spam.
- Madara wants to visit Otack Sverflow for the first time, he's able to see Sam's spam.
- Madara registers for a new account, and Sam's spam vanishes from his sights.
In this example, Sam is the user under hellban, Madara does not get hellbanned, but as an anonymous user, he can see Sam's posts.