-20

"If we can vote to close a question, can we vote to suspend an user?"

I am quite disappointed that one of the trusted users from StackOverflow just got "temporarily" suspended (penalty box) for 1 year. I know the interval is by staged accumulation. But no matter what it says literally, it has substantially driven an expert user away from the SO.

Tag Info: enter image description here

Tag wiki revisions: enter image description here

Is this reasonable? As far as I know, while the suspended user seems to be picky and harsh sometimes, he is actually a perfectionist who cares about the quality of posts and tries to make the community better all the time.

But I am not here today to argue the disputable suspension. I wonder if it's possible to implement a tribunal system in StackExchange communities (especially in SO) ? From the case above, as a user who frequently visits the tag, obviously I cannot accept the suspension because I am really worry about the substantial damages caused by removing a "tag MVP" from a small community.

The Qt tag is kind of a cult tag. It's not a very popular tag and it receives merely around 20 questions a day. Under the circumstances, the removal of a productive user will truly undermine the prosperity of the tag community. The moderators could say they ban the user because of the violation of manners. But to me, those red lines are vague and subjective. Besides, how can moderators evaluate the suffering of a small tag community such as Qt after it lose a productive answerer for a year?

Askers + Answerers + Moderators = Stack Overflow

It doesn't mean users with high reputation are allowed to act whatever they like. Instead, I just wonder if there is a better system to weight whether an user is detrimental or beneficial to the community. This is why I think a tribunal system is needed for the account suspension.


My point is simple: just like how the privilege system and review system works, can a tribunal system works too? At least the decisions of account suspension would be more convincing after an open trial. Technically, there is a variety of ways to implement such a system on the SE, but all I am looking for simply is an OPEN trial where different opinions could be considered before making the decision, instead of a privately made decision that partial reason comes later to eliminate possible Streisand effects. Still, I think the suspension system is needed, but the system is not perfect at present.

In short, I wish moderator could be the district attorney instead of the final judge.

Reference and suggested readings:


Are you appealing to populism?

I am not sure. that's why I ask here.

  • 2
    Yes. I and my gang of sockpuppets will descend upon Jon Skeet and exact my revenge! MOOOHAHAHAHAH! – Won't Dec 31 '14 at 19:36
  • 1
    "while the suspended user seems to be picky and harsh sometimes, he is actually a perfectionist who cares about the quality of posts and tries to make the community better all the time" That's not my experience. He refuses to correct his posts, and tactically downvotes correct information, even when faced with factual evidence that he's wrong. And throws around a lot of personal insults in the process, but never apologizes or retracts them when he is proven wrong. – Ben Voigt Jan 1 '15 at 2:55
  • It got to the point where I wouldn't tell him what was wrong with his post, because I knew he wouldn't listen and would retaliate... and then went through the whole process all over again because he changed his username (several times, actually), so my attempts to avoid him failed. Unfortunately, his high-confidence attitude wins him a lot of upvotes from those who are just trying to learn and don't have the information necessary to actually assess the value of an answer or comment. – Ben Voigt Jan 1 '15 at 2:57
  • 2
    So I'm sorry to see him suspended, because I wish he would have chosen to avoid the negative behaviors... but I definitely think he earned the timeout. – Ben Voigt Jan 1 '15 at 2:57
  • @BenVoigt I am sorry about your negative experience on him. Aside form that, that was why I start this discussion because the experience about an user is usually subjective: some people think the user is contibutive to the community while other think differently, so why can't we start a public tribunal? But just as the answers mentioned, there are lots of things that need to be concerned: privacy, moderation cost, decision time...etc. Nonetheless, though I might be one of the small group, my position about the user is positive to the community still remains. – Tay2510 Jan 1 '15 at 7:43
  • @Tay2510 - I think you got so many downvotes because of the way the point was phrased, especially in the title. Maybe you should re-phrase and re-title. Ask for more transparency in the process. Animusion's "secret evidence" and "trust us" with no transparency is a red herring the process is broken. – user173448 Jan 3 '18 at 3:42
22

Your calculation of costs and benefits ignores some of the costs of having a user who is productive but also significantly disruptive remain active on the site:

  1. What is the moderation cost? If a user posts a lot of valuable answers but also causes a lot of disputes in comments, or chat, and moderators keep having to intervene, or keeps putting in bad flags, then there is a moderation cost to having this user around.

  2. What about the users that would contribute to SO but are turned off by this user's behavior? Not everybody has the same amount of patience for rude behavior. I can't prove to you that someone will pick up the slack in the Qt tag because this user is now suspended, then again you can't prove that someone won't. Neither of us have a crystal ball but we do know from posts on the various metas that some users are driven away by rude behavior.

A tribunal system is not appropriate for SE. If you are being accused of a crime, and here I mean "crime" in the legal sense of the word, or are going to be subjected to a deprivation of your human rights, then it should be done by trial. However, someone who is suspended from SE is not being accused of a crime, nor is this person being deprived of a human right.

The only thing a tribunal system would do is make moderation unmanageable because moderators would have their time taken up by the tribunal system and people who should be suspended would not be suspended speedily. In the case of crimes and human rights we bear the cost of a robust legal system because the harm that would be caused by depriving the innocent of their human rights is immense. It is incomparable with the harm that someone might suffer from being erroneously suspended from SE.

  • 3
    Thanks for the elaborated explanation, just one more question: is this issue that "senstive" in SE? I feel the suspension system quite secretive than other mechanism, and SE seems to stay low in this aspect. Honestly, I don't think this question is terrible enough to get hell lots of downvotes. It makes me feel people just don't want to discuss this issue here. – Tay2510 Dec 30 '14 at 16:32
  • 6
    @Tay2510 The downvotes mean people disagree with your proposal. The question itself is not bad (too many images, however). – Daniel Fischer Dec 30 '14 at 16:36
  • 5
    On the various metas, votes, especially on feature requests, can mean that people are agreeing or disagreeing. There is no way to distinguish that a downvote that means "I think your post is plain bad" versus "I disagree with what you proposed". As far as I know, the idea of a tribunal is not especially sensitive. This is not an issue that seems to come up very often (otherwise your question would have been closed as a duplicate very quickly). An example of a sensitive feature request is forcing people to comment on downvotes. It is asked just about every week. – Louis Dec 30 '14 at 16:37
  • 2
    @Louis OK, thanks for the clarification. – Tay2510 Dec 30 '14 at 16:40
38

Simply put, no this is not possible because regular users don't have easy access to view all the activities between a user and the site. Moderators can see all their deleted posts and all their deleted comments. As well, they are called into situations via flags consistently and are much more aware of situations involving specific users than a community member would be.

We give users a lot of chances before jumping to a one-year suspension. Any time you see someone suspended for that long, you can safely assume it was well-earned. All a tribunal system would do is air a user's personal problems and behavior within the site for the entire community, which is certainly not something we are interested in doing. They are welcome to go air all of that elsewhere if they please, but it's not gonna happen here.

  • 2
    Thanks for the answering. I believe the system exists for some reasons, but I'd like to know how moderators weight the loss of suspension a productive user? I understand it's a very complicated question but I find little discussion about it. – Tay2510 Dec 30 '14 at 15:48
  • 1
    @Tay2510: I think it is hard to have one set of rules on this since every situation is judged on it's own. – Patrick Hofman Dec 30 '14 at 15:50
  • 2
    @PatrickHofman And that's point I try to make for the tribunal system. If more opinions come in, won't it be easier to make the decision? – Tay2510 Dec 30 '14 at 15:52
  • 3
    @Tay2510: Don't you think the moderators talk with each other before suspending someone for such a long time? The tribune isn't a user tribune, it is a bullet on the moderators' meeting agenda. – Patrick Hofman Dec 30 '14 at 15:53
  • 7
    @Tay2510 As I said in my comment above, we already have this. For example on SO, there are 17 mods - if one of us takes action that another disagrees with we can overrule each other. Actions aren't unilaterally taken, typically they are discussed before implementing a long suspension of productive users. – Taryn Dec 30 '14 at 15:54
  • 1
    @Tay2510 When I say "moderators" in this post, I mean all the moderators for the site. Whenever we encounter problem users, we let each other know about it. We also see a list of all the mod messages everyone sends out, with all the replies that come back in. We all know what is going on, very much aware of what the others are doing. It's certainly not one moderator that makes these decisions. – animuson Dec 30 '14 at 16:00
  • 6
    @Tay2510 - How to deal with problematic subject matter experts is a question I ask of every moderator candidate: meta.stackexchange.com/a/170747/135615 , and has been the subject of much debate here. It's one of the most difficult things we have to deal with. In general, abusive behavior is not tolerated, no matter who it comes from. We may spend more time trying to correct the behavior of an expert, but in the end if they are driving people away from the site by their behavior they may need to go. – Brad Larson Dec 30 '14 at 16:04
  • 5
    @animuson I understand. My point is: two groups of people get involved in this suspension. 1. People get harassed by the user 2. People who benefited from the user. The current system makes me feel the moderator just care about people in group one. I don't start this issue for no reasons. I follow the tag every day and I closely observed the contribution of the user, not just from the numerical information but from the his interactions with other people. And this made me think the user is positive to the community. – Tay2510 Dec 30 '14 at 16:06
  • 9
    @Tay2510 Exactly, because you don't have the tools to view all of their interactions. You can participate in the site in so many other ways than just answering questions. But past that, the users in group one are a lot more important than the users in group two. Yes, it sucks to lose a valuable contributor, but if they're consistently being a pest, breaking rules, or making it uncomfortable for other users, then that is a much bigger problem. Just because you contribute more content on a regular basis doesn't mean you get to decide the rules of the site and do whatever you want. – animuson Dec 30 '14 at 16:13
  • 7
    Removing a string of comments here; please focus on the response to the proposal, not an individual suspension. – Shog9 Dec 30 '14 at 16:55
  • 9
    You want to criticize the mods, make your own meta post, @TheParamagneticCroissant. Oh, and make it something constructive, something folks can evaluate fairly and recommend action if need-be. Sniping in the comments below a proposal whose author explicitly stated his desire to avoid arguing the suspension is cowardly and I won't tolerate it. – Shog9 Dec 30 '14 at 17:06
  • 1
    @Shoggingthroughthesnow I am considering deleting this post before more hatred occurs. Do you agree with that? I can feel it's heating up. – Tay2510 Dec 30 '14 at 17:09
  • 4
    Consider just editing out the personal details from your question, @Tay2510, so folks can focus on the proposal rather than the personalities. I know you meant well, but I suspect that's what's feeding this. – Shog9 Dec 30 '14 at 17:12
  • 3
    @Shoggingthroughthesnow Personally I'd wish the user not get banned since not just me but the whole tag community benefits a lot from him. And that also motivate me to make this proposal because people who frequently visit the tag suffer from this suspension too. Besides, I need to highlight the information of the contribution made by the user to support my position. Therefore, if I remove those details, it would look like I just throw this issue arbitrarily. I think it's better to just delete it and prevent any further emotional comments, after all I got enough answers. – Tay2510 Dec 30 '14 at 17:20
  • 9
    You can describe the scenario in detail without calling out someone specific, @Tay2510. And I wish that user wasn't banned too... But that was up to him, and us discussing it here isn't going to change the choices he made. – Shog9 Dec 30 '14 at 17:24
16

The main problem is that of user privacy. Often suspensions may occur due to non-public reasons or with non-public evidence. This can't be shared with the wider community.

Additionally, it isn't fair to hold different users to different standards of behavior. It doesn't matter if you are Jon Skeet, if you can't behave as expected towards other users, then you are going to suffer the same consequences as any other user.

It is unfortunate that it has a negative impact on the QT tag, but ultimately, the blame for that impact lies on the user who couldn't behave himself after multiple attempts were made to explain what proper behavior was, not with the Moderators or the system itself.

There is also already a possibility for review of a suspension by using the Contact Us option and asking the Stack Exchange Community Manager team to look in to it. It would need to be a pretty extreme case for a change to be made, but it is possible.

  • 4
    Thank you. Actually I've also mailed to SE through Contact Us before I posted this question and haven't received any response yet. – Tay2510 Dec 30 '14 at 15:53
  • 3
    @Tay Just so you know, they get hundreds of emails through that thing a month, it may take some time. – ɥʇǝS Dec 30 '14 at 16:08
6

I think the moderators and the SE team do an excellent job. We don't want to know, and shouldn't know, all reasons for a (temporary) ban. A tribunal to let users judge whether mods are right or wrong, please no.

A mod is never easy in suspending, and definitely for longer periods. If you feel a mod is terribly wrong in suspending you, contact the SE team. If they still think you are the one to blame, maybe you should stop pointing and go check yourself.

  • 6
    "We don't want to know, and shouldn't know, all reasons for a (temporary) ban." – greatest oxymoron ever. If someone's banned, it would be the least to expose the "why". Else it's no better than communist show trials. – The Paramagnetic Croissant Dec 30 '14 at 16:41
  • 9
    @TheParamagneticCroissant Yes, because we're executing people and throwing them in gulags. It's exactly the same thing. – Bill the Lizard Dec 30 '14 at 16:58
  • 3
    @Pra so you want to have a notice "this user was banned for being a known sec offender" or something else. It's none of your business. – Patrick Hofman Dec 30 '14 at 17:06
  • 1
    @BilltheLizard I appreciate your sarcasm. You must admit that injustice is just injustice, however small/"insignificant" its object be. – The Paramagnetic Croissant Dec 30 '14 at 19:17
  • 4
    @TheParamagneticCroissant Suspending users who repeatedly break site rules isn't an injustice. Nor is discussing it directly with them in private instead of parading them in front of a tribunal. – Bill the Lizard Dec 30 '14 at 19:25
  • 4
    We already have an indicator of why a user was suspended, @TheParamagneticCroissant. It's generic to give the user privacy. If they want to make the reason why they were suspended public, that's their business. Not ours. – hichris123 Dec 30 '14 at 19:26

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .