Suspended users have a reputation of 1 for the duration of the suspension. This reputation reduction doesn't seem to be necessary for the effect of suspensions as a 1 rep user still can perform quite a few actions, there is obviously an independent mechanism that restricts the abilities of suspended users.

This reputation reduction also has two drawbacks that I can think of:

  • It confuses new users sometimes, they might not understand that they get all that reputation back after the suspension ends
  • It draws attention to the user as it is a visible indicator outside of the user profile (if you know that the user used to have more reputation)

Unless there are technical reasons for this behaviour, I don't see any reason to keep it. Suspensions should not have any effect on reputation.

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    too add to bullet #2, a 1 rep user with lots of badges is another visible indicator of a suspension. – psubsee2003 Mar 18 '15 at 11:23
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    They should get the privileges of a 1 rep user (i.e. they have next to no rights for the period of the suspension), but I'm not convinced that SE should indulge them by hiding clues about their status... what exactly is wrong with having that visual indicator? – slugster Mar 18 '15 at 11:58
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    @slugster 1 rep users have more privileges than suspended users. There is generally nothing to be gained by drawing attention to suspensions, anyone that looks in the profile will see it, but you don't need to make people curious by reducing the user reputation. – Mad Scientist Mar 18 '15 at 12:00
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    Reputation is a visible indicator of how much the community trusts you. Being put into the penalty box means there were issues that in 99 out of a 100 cases involved a breakdown of that trust. Setting the reputation to 1 reflects that breakdown. – Martijn Pieters Mar 18 '15 at 12:28
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    @MartijnPieters And after the suspension is over we trust them entirely again? I don't think that analogy works well enough to justify setting the reputation to 1. And it doesn't change anything about the drawbacks I mentioned. – Mad Scientist Mar 18 '15 at 13:48
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    It confuses new users sometimes Totally agree with that. I got suspended for a week and ended up requesting the mod to return my rep. He didn't answer back that clearly, and I was surprised to find my rep back. – ghosts_in_the_code Mar 18 '15 at 17:01
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    After the number of "how dare you take away all my reputation" responses I've seen to suspensions, I can get behind this. I don't know how many times I've had to explain that they'll get it all back when the suspension is lifted. – Brad Larson Mar 18 '15 at 18:14
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    I very agree strongly with this. When I was a mod I frequently saw messages from users who were seriously distressed and confused because they assumed their reputation was gone forever. In many cases, this clearly put their future interactions with moderators on a worse footing unnecessary. It should be changed if practical. – Jeremy Jan 7 '16 at 16:21
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    I agree with @MartjinPieters - Reputation is just that: Reputation - it's a visible indicator of how much we, as a site and community, trust you. Reducing it to 1 during a suspension is more than just the act of removing privileges, it's showing - to us and to the user in question - that they have violated our trust. Don't get me wrong, I'm in full agreement that 'Suspended' should be clearer on the usercard (replace badges with 'Suspended'?), and that it should be clearly indicated to the user that the rep removal is temporary - but I'd rather the rep stay at '1' during a suspension. – Robotnik Jan 11 '16 at 0:28
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    Losing "face" is more important, and effective on those who are suspended. When you suspend a user tell them their rep will be restored after the suspension. I don't see where the problem is. – Mari-Lou A Jan 11 '16 at 0:54

We should definitely address the confusion that many suspended users experience -- by modifying the suspension boilerplate in mod messages to say clearly that the rep will be returned at the end of the suspension. Suspension should be rare and most users are not meta-junkies, so it's not reasonable to expect them to figure out on their own that it's temporary. Also, the fact that the number displays as 1 but the reputation graph on the profile page shows the real value is likely to be confusing.

While the point about not shaming the users further resonates with me -- the indication on the profile already provides the information to those who decide to look -- reputation is, as some pointed out in the comments, an indicator of trust. While they're suspended we don't trust them and don't let them perform even the actions that a 1-rep user can perform. And in most cases, there aren't going to be that many opportunities for people to see the 1-rep usercard in normal site browsing. I don't have (and I think don't have access to) data to verify this, but anecdotally, most suspended users on my sites are not high-rep with gazillions of posts already visible on the site. Sure, high-rep users do get suspended, and I've had to answer meta questions about specific cases because somebody did notice, but most of the time, you'd have to come across one of a small number of posts to even notice. It would help to get more data on this, but so far it doesn't look like there's that much shaming happening for the vast majority of suspensions. I'd want more data before making a change.

But to go back to the first point -- we should absolutely change that mod-message template. That should be easy.


If it's a new user, folks are unlikely to go looking for them, and if it's an experienced user, they should know better.

While it's a "cheap" way to remove privileges from a user (even if there's probably an "is suspended" flag) it also reflects the fact that the user, at least for the period of the suspension no longer has the trust of the community. They're off the field, for some period, with their nose pressed against the glass.

In addition for many suspension reasons the suspension reason is shown on their profile - so the "bumping down their 1 reputation" isn't really what shames them.

Since the initial question was posted, I do believe the suspension messages was changed to

At the end of this timed suspension period, your reputation will be recalculated, and your account will resume as normal. We don't hold grudges. The point of all this is to address the behavior. If the behavior improves, you are welcome back.

But I might be here for Jeremy's bounty

This antagonizies, confuses, and publicly shames users in a way that seems "not constructive" and at-odds with the rest of our moderation philosophy. Is it worth reconsidering?

Suspensions are literally our second last ditch tool.

As per the theory of moderation

Your goal is to guide the community with gentle — but firm — intervention. Respect your fellow community members at all times; demonstrate fairness and impartiality in your actions.

This is the firmest intervention we can. That it's reasonably visible kind of avoids a situation akin to a restaurant closing for renovations when it's actually suspended for health code violations.

Suspensions are meant for a pattern of behaviour or (practically) really bad behaviour.

In short, by the time we've started throwing folks suspensions, they've been bad. The public shaming (for those who look) is kind of part of the pointy bit of our toolkit. So at this point the user's probably antagonised the community in some way - we use mod messages to try to minimise confusion, and said public shaming is... hopefully deserved.

I love to moderate with good intentions, dog jokes and occasional expressions of disappointment. Suspensions however are a tool that we sometimes need, and the current shape of it serves its purpose well.

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