I came across a user with a notification that states:

This account is temporarily suspended network-wide. The suspension period ends on Dec 2 '18 at 2:35.

Screencap for posterity:

picture of the above quote

Unless this user is suspended until 2118 (in which case the full year should be shown, or at least a tooltip), it seems like they should have been unbanned 4 months ago.

  • 25
    They are actually suspended until 2118. There's an argument to be made here for not abbreviating the year in this situation; feel free to edit your bug report to reflect that.
    – Shog9
    Commented Apr 18, 2019 at 14:25
  • 1
    At least show the full date when hovering over the text (suggested here: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/322386/…)
    – Martin R
    Commented Apr 18, 2019 at 14:28
  • 13
    I disagree that hovertext would help in this case. Two-digit years are normally only used when the implied year is unambiguous; that's not the case here, so abbreviating it is inappropriate.
    – Shog9
    Commented Apr 18, 2019 at 14:30
  • @Shog9 But hovertext doesn't have to abbreviate; most timestamps with hovertext I've seen are of the form YYYY-MM-DD hh:mm:ssZ, which does not abbreviate. Commented Apr 18, 2019 at 14:32
  • 6
    Yes, which is borderline useless on mobile and non-intuitive on desktop, @SonictheWizardWerehog. Hovertext is nice when you need the exact timestamp - nobody needs that here, they just need an unambiguous year.
    – Shog9
    Commented Apr 18, 2019 at 14:33
  • @Shog9 Well, it is necessary when the suspension's end is imminent (i.e. in days, hours, "tomorrow", etc.) when no exact time of day is shown and there's no way to view it. But yeah, maybe it's worth globally reformatting it on all suspensions to show a full four-digit year instead of an abbreviation. Additionally, since the "month then date" format is only used in North America, maybe it's worth showing a timestamp of the format I previously mentioned all the time? Commented Apr 18, 2019 at 14:34
  • 1
    It's actually not, since suspensions don't end promptly anyway - they have to wait until an hourly job runs. The timestamp shown is already far more precise than the actual suspension, so more precision doesn't accomplish anything here. What's needed is less ambiguity. Also, I'm in North American and it's widely acknowledged here that we have the BEST timestamps.
    – Shog9
    Commented Apr 18, 2019 at 14:38
  • @Shog9 Wouldn't changing the two-digit year to show four digits on all suspensions (while otherwise not changing the existing date and time format) fix the ambiguity? Commented Apr 18, 2019 at 14:43
  • 4
    Another option would be to cap suspensions at 50 years...
    – Shog9
    Commented Apr 18, 2019 at 14:44
  • 1
    @Shog9 Meh, the current cap of 99,999 days seems alright. At least it's not 1.1 million days, like it is for chat Commented Apr 18, 2019 at 14:50
  • @Shog9 What would you think of the concept of an "indefinite" suspension: one where it's not necessary to set some arbitrary date in the future, or explain to users that "it's actually expiring in 100 years" or "the exact date doesn't really matter, we just want them out"? Also, the word "indefinite" implies "until the issue is resolved", so it avoids the drawbacks of calling it a "permanent" suspension. Commented Apr 19, 2019 at 15:24
  • Why can't the mods just delete the account and keep all the content?
    – user474678
    Commented Sep 13, 2019 at 11:09

4 Answers 4


If a user is suspended until 2118 network-wide, SE is saying: go away; nothing short of cryogenic stasis can save you, and if you do that we don't promise to let you come back anyway.

That's not "temporary".

We should give the community managers a non-hacky way to suspend an account permanently, instead of them having to just pick a large number. In those cases the message should say "suspended" or "indefinitely suspended", not "temporarily suspended", and exclude the date.

This wouldn't preclude them from issuing a long, not-permanent suspension if they really want to, but in those kinds of cases they're more likely to pick a decade or two, not more than a century, so there won't be ambiguity. And even if there is, it'd be a really rare case at that point.

  • 2
    Wikipedia has the concept of an "indefinite" block, which for practical purposes accomplishes what you want. Its help pages do say that the word "indefinite" means "for as long as until the issues may be resolved". What do you think of that? Commented Apr 19, 2019 at 15:15
  • 1
    @SonictheWizardWerehog "indefinitely" works. I edited that in. Commented Apr 19, 2019 at 15:32

While offering solutions, why not show the full year if the suspension lasts longer than 'til 2099? The first year after that would, with the current system, be rendered as (basing off the question)

Dec 2 '0(0?) at 2:35

Which, if the suspension happened this year, would appear to have been 19 years ago, and lead to additional bug reports like this one. What I'm suggesting is rendering that as something like:

Dec 2, 2100 at 2:35

Which also makes it look a lot more natural, without kicking in for anything aside the extreme cases where the suspensions are that long. Unlike the other suggestion, this would also leave out any form of counter, which may or may not affect server performance*.

And, in my opinion, it's slightly more expressive than "in 99.8 years"

*: Given one update per month, it would likely take thousands of people with that long suspensions before there's any noticeable impact on performance. Don't quote me on this though, I don't have any data to back that up

  • 1
    Y2.1K? Hmm.....
    – user474678
    Commented Sep 13, 2019 at 11:08

May I suggest the following amendment:

This account is temporarily suspended network-wide. The suspension will expire in 99.8 years.

It seems excessive, teetering on absurdity, to actually state the clock time when a suspension (i.e, a life-long ban) extends to more or less a hundred years. The counter need only reflect the passing of each month.

There's probably a very good programming reason why this solution is unfeasible, an explanation might help the clueless like me

  • 1
    In this case, you'd have to continually update the duration of the suspension which might impact the performance (I'm not sure how much, but if you want to keep a system efficient, you may want to optimize every bit), while now it's just a fixed value until the suspension ends. You suggest this only for long bans? In this case, you'd have two different ways of displaying a suspension (still fixed date in case of a short duration), which some people may not like so much. Commented Apr 19, 2019 at 7:36
  • @AnneDaunted the current ambiguity lies when the suspension ends in a different century and seeing as this is relatively a rare occurrence, it might make more practical sense to implement this method only for those extensive periods. However, if the number of 80+ year suspensions were to rise then maybe SE will need to rethink how to represent those dates more clearly. Commented Apr 19, 2019 at 8:24

As of 2022 - years across the site are in 4 digits. While enough time has passed that I can't find/remember the original poster mentioned, I've checked through a random selection of users who are suspended and verified this is the case.

For suspensions that end in a short period, the number of days is shown

For longer suspensions (I'm not sure if this is decided by the end of the current month or total length), it shows the month and year if it ends within the current calendar year

For suspensions ending after the current calendar year and before the year 9999 AD

It shows the date and year in 4 digits.

I suspect we won't be banning anyone for 800 years or more, so I think there should be no more ambiguity for suspensions that cross over into the next century. I think the next millennia is a problem for another time :D

  • Still, no bug was fixed here. The status-completed on the question is wrong and confusing. Commented Feb 20, 2022 at 7:45
  • The bug was you couldn't tell how long the suspension was for "in which case the full year should be shown, or at least a tooltip" - now you can tell. I'd argue the bug is in display, and the suspension is by design Commented Feb 20, 2022 at 9:33
  • One limit mentioned previously is 274 years. (100000 days = approx. 274 years. (Or 99999 days?)). It could be due to a 5-digit limit in an input field and may no longer be in effect. Commented Feb 20, 2022 at 12:22
  • Maybe, but that's usually done on the CM end and we have no visibility. I wasn't too serious about a 800 year ban :D Commented Feb 20, 2022 at 12:26

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