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Recently, we encountered a rather persistent user in a chat room, repeatedly attempting to engage with other users in the chat by editing their chat profile description and repeatedly leaving and re-entering the room in order to draw attention to themselves with the entry animation. Some users do indeed follow on to them, speaking to them in the main chat while they "respond" by editing their chat profile descriptions.

In my opinion, I don't like it when others do this, because it not only makes the chat one-sided and thus difficult to follow for other users, but it also violates the spirit of a suspension: they should not be able to get around the spirit of it by "chatting" via their chat bio with users who are willing to engage with them. In some cases, it can even smother existing topics and chats.

I'm aware that there exists a stalled feature request to increase the force of a chat suspension, to prevent suspended users from being able to join rooms or edit their chat profile descriptions, and it could take a while for that to be implemented since resources seem to have been diverted away from chat development.

That said, given the current state of the chat moderation tools, what can moderators do against such users? The only actions one can take directly against the user are to clear out their chat profile description or delete their chat profile, but the user can quickly recreate those.

After some consideration, I think the correct solution might be to not directly go against the user, but against the other users who attempt to engage with the suspended user. A moderator could ask others to mark the user as "ignored" (which would also disable the entry animation for that user, for that user) and not to engage with them, and kick chat users who do attempt to engage with the suspended user. The hope there would be that the suspended user would realize that their efforts are futile and move on. But what if said user seems to have the time and energy to keep doing what they're doing? I only believe that to be a short-term solution, as it requires moderators to persistently be on patrol, and the entry animation cannot be disabled globally (only by each user).

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It's worth looking at the bigger picture.

As a user, the best thing you can do is to ignore them. If there are no results, the behavior is pointless, and they're not going to get what they want.

I do realize a few users have trouble with that. That said, they also typically love drama and it's best to deal with it quietly. Telling them on chat to ignore a person trying to get attention, gets that person attention.

As mods, these are a little hard to spot. I, for one, don't go around peering at people's about text in chat until I realize something is going on. (And I had to put a few things together before I went "oh snap, so THAT'S what's happening".) If someone is replying on chat to something off chat, it might be worth flagging once with a mod attention flag describing what is happening.

It's an uncommon enough occurrence, though, that we can probably deal with the user(s) with the tools on hand. In theory, given enough free time and boredom, we could edit out the user's profile or delete their accounts. While they can recreate it, it's going to make it a lot harder to let someone know to find them somewhere. We could also mod message them asking them to stop (even if there's already a suspension in place) for whatever good it'll do.

It would be better if no one paid attention to them, but clearly we had someone point them at an alternate chat resource of sorts and that meant someone read their profile, so someone did.

Now...where did I put that perception filter...

  • "Its [sic] an uncommon enough occurrence though that we can probably deal with the user/users with the tools on hand". The question was, in this uncommon occurrence, what is actually done to deal with it, and what tools can be employed? – Sonic the Bracketed Hedgehog Apr 25 at 4:24
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    Honestly? The best thing is to ignore them. A lot of the mod toolkit is asking folks nicely to just ignore something while we quietly discuss and implement ways to make life harder for folks who want to cause trouble. – Journeyman Geek Apr 25 at 4:33
  • Also, in this case, the user was repeatedly leaving and re-entering the chat room in order to get the entry animation to repeatedly play, to entice other users to click on their chat bio. While you could just tell people to ignore them, new users who you haven't told yet could pop into the chat and get enticed to "converse" with them. Overall, using that "tool" requires a moderator to be persistently present in the room telling people to ignore them. The user's presence essentially necessitates a moderator's persistent watchful eye and wastes their time. – Sonic the Bracketed Hedgehog Apr 25 at 4:36
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    This very question and answer gives them what they want ... – rene Apr 25 at 5:23
  • That's pretty true. But once the question is asked, there's a certain assumption that someone would answer. I mean, you could flag and trust our mods to be appropriately sneaky in dealing with the issue. Or you could post on meta, take the risk of some drama, and hopefully set a precedent for the next time. – Journeyman Geek Apr 25 at 7:10
  • @SonictheInclusiveHedgehog SE staff, moderators and RO's had more trouble dealing with the not suspended users then they had with the suspended user. It was more likely I would kick you then anything else. – rene Apr 25 at 7:33
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    @SonictheInclusiveHedgehog . Overall, using that "tool" requires a moderator to be persistently present in the room telling people to ignore them. The user's presence essentially necessitates a moderator's persistent watchful eye and wastes their time. > Is actually something the community can do as well. If you see a user engaging with someone they shouldn't, you can drop them a message asking them to drop it, explain why we don't talk to suspended users... if they persist, there's always the mod-flags Geek mentions, but it's a bit of a strange idea only mods can moderate. – Tinkeringbell Apr 25 at 8:39
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Some users do indeed follow on to them, speaking to them in the main chat while they "respond" by editing their chat profile descriptions.

This is not really different from suspended users "responding" on Twitter, or by email, or in a dozen different ways. I can follow a suspended user on Twitter while they watch the room. So they tweet, I post in the room, and we can continue this quasi-conversation forever. Until, that is, someone realizes what really is the problem -- it is not the suspended user.

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