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.

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    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 Apr 18 '19 at 14:25
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    At least show the full date when hovering over the text (suggested here: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/322386/…) – Martin R Apr 18 '19 at 14:28
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    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 Apr 18 '19 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. – Sonic the K-Day Hedgehog Apr 18 '19 at 14:32
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    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 Apr 18 '19 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? – Sonic the K-Day Hedgehog Apr 18 '19 at 14:34
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    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 Apr 18 '19 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? – Sonic the K-Day Hedgehog Apr 18 '19 at 14:43
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    Another option would be to cap suspensions at 50 years... – Shog9 Apr 18 '19 at 14:44
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    @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 – Sonic the K-Day Hedgehog Apr 18 '19 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. – Sonic the K-Day Hedgehog Apr 19 '19 at 15:24
  • Why can't the mods just delete the account and keep all the content? – user474678 Sep 13 '19 at 11:09

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.

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    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? – Sonic the K-Day Hedgehog Apr 19 '19 at 15:15
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    @SonictheWizardWerehog "indefinitely" works. I edited that in. – Monica Cellio Apr 19 '19 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

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  • Y2.1K? Hmm..... – user474678 Sep 13 '19 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

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    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. – Anne Daunted GoFundMonica Apr 19 '19 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. – Mari-Lou A Apr 19 '19 at 8:24

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