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The SE system bans people from posting questions and/or answers based on an algorithm we can only guess at. It largely does a good job at arresting low quality posts from users but occasionally it's over-sensitive.

In a real example I'm handling at the moment, a user has made five posts that all sit on just the wrong side of the answer/comment border. All have flags to that effect. Two are mod-deleted, one was cleaned away with the question and the other two stand. One downvote on the whole account.

My problem with this situation is that this chap wants to help. They need a little guidance —that they're about to get— but they have this ban now Telling them how to improve in the future seems like an empty guesture.

The only ways to reverse their ban are:

  • The user edits their answers and they attract upvotes. This often isn't easy and in this case they only two of their answers are even editable.
  • Moderators beg SE staff to lift the ban (by hard-deleting some of the offending answers),
  • Break our own rules and upvote mediocre existing answers, just to help them.

I like the system being there but I hate that there's no override for it. Site moderators should be allowed to reset a users negative standing to give them a second chance if they need it.

I've discussed similar features with people before and have received "don't put moderators in that position" responses. As a moderator I can tell you that it's a much worse being powerless to help somebody. Especially when ultimately they have your site's best wishes at heart.

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    How many times a year does this happen to you? Is it worth investing development time in it? Also, how do you avoid discussions about 'biased' moderators? Commented Jan 18, 2016 at 14:18
  • I'm not sure this is even feasible. Those bans are calculated on-the-fly based on their posts. There's no hard variable that's ever set for "this user is banned" that can be overridden.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Commented Jan 18, 2016 at 14:23
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    @animuson It would be very possible to only count data after a certain reset date. This would be relatively trivial to implement in terms of developer time.
    – Oli
    Commented Jan 18, 2016 at 14:24
  • @animuson does anti-recidivism-system work for answer bans? if yes, then unlucky user could delete their account and restart at slower rate
    – gnat
    Commented Jan 18, 2016 at 14:24
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    Can't you unassociate the posts from the user's account? Commented Jan 18, 2016 at 14:25
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    @ShadowWizard I don't believe I can. CMs and admins can (that's the second bullet).
    – Oli
    Commented Jan 18, 2016 at 14:27
  • @Oli That still requires adding an extra variable somewhere and including it into the check. Which is quite a bit of effort for something we really don't need to do, and shouldn't do, that often.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Commented Jan 18, 2016 at 14:27
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    I'd say it happens to me a few times a year. An occasion when somebody has —through little fault of their own— ruined their account. I don't believe that any longstanding moderator has never had one of these. When it's just me, sure I sound like a whingebucket but when you factor in all the sites and all their moderators, even at one user per moderator per year, the feature makes SE better for everybody.
    – Oli
    Commented Jan 18, 2016 at 14:35
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    So maybe worth asking a CM to give a hand via your private chat room in those rare cases? /cc @animuson. Commented Jan 18, 2016 at 14:36
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    @ShadowWizard I asked earlier and was told "We usually don't go down that path when it takes more than one post disassociation to help lift the block, so I'm afraid that won't be the solution in this case. Let the user know that positive contributions to the site will help lift the block, though, and that that's the path they should try!" I'm going to appeal but this highlights the ridiculousness of the situation; why should a site moderator have to actively fight to let somebody post on their site? What's the point in having moderators if you won't let them moderate?
    – Oli
    Commented Jan 18, 2016 at 20:37
  • @Oli I see your point and totally understand the frustration, but also can see SE team point of view. The automatic post ban is the "holy grail", the one thing beyond anyone's powers, except the most powerful. I believe they fear that lending hand in your case will open the floodgates for lots of such requests. I don't agree with the team point of view though, just sharing my way of thinking. Anyway, my best advice and two cents are let it be, don't try fighting windmills. There are enough other things you can do as moderator to help a site grow and help its users in general. Commented Jan 18, 2016 at 21:41

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