Before I start with my question, let it be said that I am not against suspensions as a moderator on Programmers. They are a valuable tool in our belt in dealing with less than acceptable behavior with users.
The current guidelines on moderator suspension are essentially that with each user infraction, the level of suspension increases many orders of magnitude from the last infraction.
- Written warning
- 7 days
- 30 days
- 365 days
To throw an example out, lets say I call a specific user "a f****** idiot" and I get a written warning. The next two times I say something to the effect of "why don't you actually use your brain for a second and think about it" and I get suspended twice more. The third time I get suspended I get in an edit war. The fourth time I maybe use foul language in a post that can be easily edited out and I refuse to edit the content of my post personally. This last action results in a 1 year ban.
This is all a fictitious example of course. My issue with the above example is that ever increasing punishments occur by the common guidelines compared to ever decreasing severity of infractions. The user learned their lesson that personal attacks are not to be tolerated. They subsided in this and committed some lesser offenses in my opinion but paid more of a price.
What kind of lesson does this send the user, someone who possibly has been a valuable contributor for years? The prior history and mod annotations follow that user for the rest of their time on the site and 500 valuable answers later they may find that one small slip up results in being kicked out for a long period of time. Why would that person be motivated to come back or help anymore?
My proposal is that the infraction should always fit the response, and that prior infractions should be no determination in the appropriate moderator action for a specific infraction.
Essentially each new type of breach of the rules should give the moderator the discretion to issue ONE and only one warning. The repeat offense should get the appropriate punishment. If say somebody goes rage and starts defacing content with adult content, that should be an immediate harsh suspension. If after serving that time the user never repeats that particular offense but then proceeds to contribute valuable content for a while, then has a minor "skirmish" with another user, then that should be a lesser but appropriate action.
This would result in more fair outcomes and would be a better moderator guideline for all sites.