I understand what it means to have an account temporarily suspended, but what happens if I think the suspension was too harsh or unjust?

  • If I am a new contributor and unfamiliar with how things work on SE, how do I appeal against the suspension?

  • Can a suspension be reduced? How do I do this? Who do I ask?

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  • 1
    I'm asking this question because a new contributor was recently suspended for a year to "cool down", and I'm afraid he might not know what to do. He only has one account. – Mari-Lou A Oct 11 at 6:37
  • 2
    Usually everything you need to know about a suspension is included in the mod message that comes with it. And a year long suspension implies the culprit was messaged more than once... – yannis Oct 11 at 7:00
  • @yannis I don't know if this user was warned formally, but a year-long suspension seems to be hefty, especially if they hadn't been suspended before. To be clear, I don't particularly like the user, and I would have probably suspended them myself if I had the power. But not for 12 months. – Mari-Lou A Oct 11 at 7:03
  • 5
    Unless you have a diamond on the site you probably don't have access to all information necessary to decide if the suspension was justified. – yannis Oct 11 at 7:06
  • @yannis no, I don't have any access to what happened exactly but I have exchanged "opinions" with the user recently, and he's a newcomer, only a few months old and still learning the ropes so it were. – Mari-Lou A Oct 11 at 7:21
  • Ok. The specifics of the suspension aren't really relevant here anyway. How do you expect this discussion to be communicated to suspended users? How is it different from all the other documentation they have access to - or in the case of mod messages - was put right in front of them? – yannis Oct 11 at 7:30
  • 5
    @Mari-LouA unless the behaviour was truly extreme, a year-long suspensions almost always means it is at least the third suspension for that user. – Mad Scientist Oct 11 at 7:31
  • @MadScientist but was it either though? I don't recall the user being suspended before, maybe they were. @-yannis the mod's communication could contain a link to this faq. – Mari-Lou A Oct 11 at 7:33
  • The user might have been suspended on other sites too, and that could affect the current suspension. – Somewhat Oct 11 at 7:35
  • @Somewhat as far as I can tell, because accounts can be hidden, their only account is one where I am also a member. But it shouldn't make any difference, I might behave obnoxiously one site but be a perfect angel on another. – Mari-Lou A Oct 11 at 7:36
  • The user may also have become very abusive after a short suspension - normally we give a bit of leeway for folks to be angry in responding to a mod message. We expect it. But if someone shows their true colours they may well end up being told they really aren't welcome, and suspensions can be extended. Without being a mod there, you don't have any way to see the background, but believe me, a year means they have really tried hard to break the rules or be offensive – Rory Alsop Oct 11 at 8:31
  • 2
    Sources have revealed that this is the second suspension. – Mari-Lou A Oct 11 at 9:41
  • 2
    @Mari-LouA If those sources wield diamonds, I'd run with that as a fact. If it's the accused, I probably would not. – Dan Bron Oct 11 at 16:06
  • I cannot communicate with the suspended user. When I asked a mod, he didn't reply. Someone else told me that this was the 2nd suspension, so a one year suspension is kinda "normal" – Mari-Lou A Oct 11 at 16:40
  • What's up (ho, ho) with all the downvotes? I've asked the post to be a community wiki post, so it's not about the stupid rep. – Mari-Lou A Oct 15 at 11:20
up vote 11 down vote accepted

If I am a new contributor and unfamiliar with how things work on SE, can I appeal against the suspension?

First of all, if it's your first offense and a minor one, you will usually be warned but not suspended. So either you have been made aware of the rules already, or common sense would have suggested you that whatever you did was a bad idea, even though you might not be familiar with Stack Exchange and its rules.

That said, you have the option to reply to the moderator message (via e-mail, or via the message in the inbox in the top bar) to make them aware of things they don't know yet and might influence your case. With the new evidence, they might reach another decision and lift or reduce your suspension. Note that you only have one chance to reply to the message, so be careful to present the evidence in a convincing way.

The last option, reserved for extreme cases (like suspected abuse of ♦ moderator privileges) is to use the Contact Us form; a complaint filed here will be handled by Stack Overflow employees.

Can a suspension be reduced? How do I do this? Who do I ask?

See the procedure described above.

  • I'm not sure if I should add an extra paragraph about the Contact Us form. Yes, that would be appropriate in some very rare cases, but it's not a frequently asked question. – Glorfindel Oct 11 at 7:13
  • 2
    Without "contact us" option the answer is partial and "Other than the procedure described above, the answer is no" is just wrong. There are or might be cases of moderators going rogue or just not active enough to handle such things, where SE team has to be involved. Of course it should be "last resort", but still... the option exists. – Shadow Wizard Oct 11 at 11:48
  • 1
    Yeah, I see it's already mentioned in the now-linked FAQ about moderator abuse. If the moderators aren't active, they can't suspend users :P My main point in not including it is that I don't want every suspended user to appeal via the Contact Us form, as that would greatly increase the CM workload. – Glorfindel Oct 11 at 11:57
  • Sorry, it just occurred me to mention that a reply from Contact Support might take several weeks if the report is especially egregious or tricky. (Personal experience speaking here) – Mari-Lou A Oct 16 at 6:28
  • I really want to accept this answer but I can't when it ends with "Except for the procedure described above, the answer is no, it's not possible" when in actual fact, there is a possibility, albeit remote, and used in exceptional cases. Saying "no" when you've just explained there is an option is a bit double-speak. – Mari-Lou A 2 days ago
  • OK, it can do without that. I just don't want to give false hopes to people ... – Glorfindel 2 days ago

I guess as a mod, I'd love to say "Nothing". Hopefully not with maniacal laughter.

Practically, suspensions are a last resort and we'd really not have to suspend people. There's often some other stuff going on, a user's overall history and contributions.

While seemingly punitive, by design, suspensions are also meant to be cooling off periods - so a good way might be to actually show that you're aware of what happened, and display a desire to make it right. The first suspension's at most a week anyway.

In short a good first step if you're a new user is trying to work out how and why you went wrong. Unfamiliarity on its own isn't a good excuse for breaking the rules. Then you can open up a dialog with the mods, or simply wait it out.

If its really really bad, and you really need to get a CM to take a look, you can use the contact us link. That said, If you did manage to get the suspension reduced, please do remember the mods are the folks on the ground. If you do the same thing again - you will get suspended and longer.

  • what percentage of suspensions get challenged and what percentage actually lead to a change in the suspension? Rough estimates are okay. – rene Oct 16 at 16:07
  • TBH. The ones that get rejected, we would never hear about. I can't estimate – Journeyman Geek Oct 16 at 23:08

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