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Someone with such a "light-weight suspension", would lose all his rep gained before issuing the suspension. Thus, the rep would be reset to 1.

With it, their privileges would be the same as a rep 1 user. No more votes, meta activity, comments and so on.

However, they still would be able to do anything what can be done with 1 rep. Including, writing posts.

Essentially, it would be a temporary "reputation reset".

The rep what he gains after that, would still entitle him for different privileges - but only that rep would count, what he gains after the suspension. For example, he would need to work for the ability to write comments again.

Putting someone into such a "light suspension" would be an option to the mods, if

  • The activities leading to a suspension are bound to privileges (for example, problematic meta activities or VtC/VtR votes)
  • The user is productive on the main site.
  • A very serious warning should be issued to the user, but without "killing" him entirely.

Having this option, the mods could suspend someone, but without stopping also their productive activities.

After the suspension expired, the user would see his full rep again, as usual.

  • 4
    Suspending a user is already a complicated decision for moderators. I don't think there's any value in making it even more complicated. – yannis May 11 at 18:03
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    @yannis It is complicated, because it is serious. Having a lesser serious option would make their decisions easier and not more complicated. – peterh May 11 at 18:04
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    Essentially a user can be suspended for as little as a single day, the famous "cooling off period". I would consider that to be a very light suspension. – Mari-Lou A May 11 at 18:22
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    @Mari-LouA I agree, that it is an option. The idea tries to give more options. – peterh May 11 at 18:25
24

This idea makes moderators' lives harder, not easier. Issuing a suspension comes truly as a last resort, after other options have been tried, and when the site team is at the end of their tether with a user because the user has shown no ability to learn from their mistakes and no willingness to engage with moderation.

Adding, essentially, another level of sanction before suspension makes the decision to suspend much harder for moderators, because they now have to consider which suspension to use, and ensure they're consistently applying the types correctly. This is seriously counterproductive: when you have a user whose suspension is being considered, what you want is to stop the problematic behaviour, give the user and the site a break, and allow the moderators to focus on more important or more community-centric things.

TL;DR: please no.

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    To this, I'd add: There's also very little reason in wasting resources to accommodate suspendees. They are - thankfully - an extremely small part of the community, and their suspended status is - in the vast majority of cases - only temporary. Want to post questions and answers? Just wait out your suspension. Or better yet, don't get suspended in the first place. – yannis May 11 at 18:14
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    @ArtOfCode If the mod is not sure, if a case requires a full suspension, he would have the option the give the lesser. I disagree that having more freedom would make their life harder. – peterh May 11 at 18:19
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    @peterh If a mod is not sure if a full suspension is required, they'll pass the case on to the other moderators in their team or on to the CMs. A second option is not required. – ArtOfCode May 11 at 18:19
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    @ArtOfCode I think my post shows some details, what could be considered, when a "light-weight suspension" should be issued. For example, but not exclusively, if losing the posts of the user would be a loss. It doesn't matter, what options have the mods in dubious cases, because the possible outcomes of the decision is only 1 bit (suspend or not). – peterh May 11 at 18:39
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    @peterh: "if losing the posts of the user would be a loss" Suspending someone doesn't make their posts go away. So it's not clear how this light-weight suspension would be any less capable of making something happen that already didn't happen. – Nicol Bolas May 11 at 19:45
  • @NicolBolas It makes the posts away which are never written, because the user can't post them. Thank for your attention. – peterh May 11 at 19:46
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    @peterh - almost all the mods are friendly, in my opinion. Some more than others, and everyone is different in which tactics they use to maintain a high signal to noise ratio. And we are all aware of the benefits and drawbacks of the "system" - many of the things you would like to change would, I think, make us more like quora or other sites, and that would be a bad thing. If you want them, you should use quora instead. What mods do is try to help the best outcomes happen. – Rory Alsop May 11 at 20:02
18

We already have a "light suspension" option - it's just a message without actually issuing the suspension.

If the user is truly just misapplying their powers then a message pointing out their error and reminding them how they should behave will be all that's required to correct the situation. No temporary loss of reputation, no being blocked from using the site, no problem.

However, not all users respond to such messages in a positive manner and carry on with the disruptive behaviour. In these cases we have to issue a suspension to get the user's attention and the behaviour to stop. There's no hard and fast rule how long that suspension has to be, so it may be sufficient to suspend for a day or two rather than a week if we think the user is going to see the message in that time period and respond positively.

There's no need to add another layer of complexity to the process.

13

If we wanted to ask someone nicely to knock it off... we will. We do have the tools at our disposal to do so, either through superpings on chat, or through mod messages without suspensions, or even strategically placed meta posts or comments. This is typically our first course of action and practically serves as a 'lighter' alternative to suspensions.

We also sometimes use 'shorter' calibrated suspensions if we need to sort out a problem - say self vandalism. We also have a few specific tools for specific situations that may be short of a full suspension - say review bans, and specific more precise tools are more useful than nerfed versions of suspensions. So a user has one rep and can still post -we've done nothing more than shamed them temporarily, and left the door open for the behaviour that could have resulted in the suspension

The end goal of any action on a user isn't to punish - its to mitigate, then resolve problem behavior. Even while suspended, in many cases, a user can sometimes communicate that the goal of the suspension has been met and we can review.

11

ArtOfCode makes a good point about the mod side, but personally, my main concern with that feature-request​ is this part...

The rep what he gains after that, would still entitle him for different privileges - but only that rep would count, what he gains after the suspension.

Presumably if someone had "activities leading to a suspension, bound to privileges", but is "productive", it can take less than a day to get back the privileges that cause the most trouble...

  • 5 rep to go to meta
  • 50 rep to leave comments
  • more for VTC and such, but still mathematically reachable in ~2weeks (repcapping only, accepts not included)

Meta and comments are the best place for a "lightly suspended" pissed user to go stir shit if they're not in a constructive mood and can be accessed within minutes after the "light suspension". And that will be disruptive to the whole community... And circle back to the mods having to deal with more stuff.

Just put on a full suspension if such a thing happens? Sure, but damage's done - and that could have been prevented from the start.

If you're in a constructive mood, you'll get that you're suspension is to tell you "cool down, will ya" and get back in a constructive way. Actually if you're in a constructive mood you might not get suspended to begin with.

TLDR: as this is based on privileges being unlocked again, this can spiral down quickly. Let's not have that.

  • "lightly suspended pissed user" who goes on to stir shit if they're not in a constructive mood? What about a pissed mod who goes on to stir shit by retaliating via slamming a user they don't like with a suspension. Mods are human and vulnerable to error, just like the users they police and judge and sentence. – Namaste May 11 at 21:33
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    @Namaste Moderators are held accountable for their actions by both other moderators on the site as well as Stack Exchange employees. They can also be held accountable by regular community members via Meta. What you describe is not an actual problem. – Cody Gray May 12 at 4:26
  • It is, though, CodyGray. But some mods and paid staff are blind to their own non-constructive habits on SE, and/or "look the other way" when a colleague acts vindictively. So it is indeed a problem. In an ideal world, it would not be a problem. – Namaste May 12 at 20:29
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    You can't just say "it's a problem" and expect to be taken seriously, certainly not in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. You're forgetting that the people you're talking to are, unlike yourself, part of this process, and can speak from experience. Without any evidence, you're just throwing random, snide remarks into a conversation that you don't know anything about. Let's see the evidence of this "peer pressure", this "vindictive" nature, and generally any evidence of all the nefarious collusion you're trying to convince people of. I'm already betting you don't have any – Clive May 13 at 8:53
7

Many people react badly to being punished. From their point of view the punishment is often undeserved, and they'll lash out at the next convenient target.

Most of the SE moderation happens without any punishments involved. We mods ask people to adjust their behaviour, and we delete posts or comments that don't follow the rules. That is the vast majority of work we do.

At some point kindly asking people to stop doesn't work anymore. That is where suspensions enter the picture. Suspensions stop a user from doing anything on the site, so they can stop any kind of problematic behaviour. Apart from the rare extreme cases, we moderators usually ask kindly to stop the problematic behaviour first, before we suspend. Sometimes we also ask less kindly, but in most cases there is a warning before we suspend. That warning is the light suspension you want, any reasonable user has a chance to stop their behaviour at that point.

Punishing people, not matter how trivial the punishment is, tends to annoy or even infuriate people. It's not a way to rationally solve issues. Suspensions are a way to immediately stop users from doing whatever bad stuff they were doing. Some users react badly to them, and that means we have to suspend again after the first suspension is over. Sometimes they might just give a user enough time to think to solve their problem on their own, but in most cases they can't solve the underlying issue, but they can stop the problem from propagating on the site.

If there is a good chance of solving the problem without suspension, moderators will try to talk to the user. At the point where we use a suspension, the goal is to simply stop the user from causing any more harm. There is no need for any step in between talking and suspending. If the user isn't reasonable enough to be convinced by talking to them, stopping them is what we have to do.

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    "That warning" is an essentially different thing as my proposal, and not my suggestion. Furthermore, my proposal is not "something between talking and suspending", it differs from both. – peterh May 11 at 20:53
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    @peterh Either a user responds well to a mod simply talking to them, or not. In many cases simply asking people to stop is enough. And if it isn't, suspensions ensure that any kind of problematic behaviour is stopped immediately. There is no space for any useful tool between these cases, as long as I can talk to a user I don't want to punish them. And once I'm beyond talking, I need to make sure they can't harm the site any further. – Mad Scientist May 11 at 21:17
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    Why so binary, @MadScientist ?? Either/or thinking may work for computers, but seldom for human beings. – Namaste May 11 at 21:18
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    Why so binary because deciding whether or not to suspend a user is a binary decision. It’s either no, they don’t need to be suspended, or yes, they do (the reasons for this have already been explained, in detail, in this and other answers). We don't need to introduce another option just because it’s physically possible to introduce another option. We would only need to introduce another option if it served a purpose or solved a problem, and it’s already been well established, with input from the only people who would know, that it wouldn’t do that. – Clive May 12 at 11:22
  • @Clive, it's only "binary" because you believe it must be so. This question merely challenges the perhaps erroneous "beliefs" and procedures based on those erroneous beliefs, and offers an alternative, to which you and others have shot down as early as mere seconds after its posting, not enough time to have even read the post. You claim: "We would only need to introduce another option if it served a purpose or solved a problem, and it’s already been well established, with input from the only people who would know, that it wouldn’t do that." Please support that claim with evidence? – Namaste May 12 at 20:34
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    Like you’ve supported any of your claims with evidence? Yeah, I’ll get right on that... – Clive May 12 at 21:42
  • I apologize, @Clive. I mistook you to be the answerer, and I think the onus of responsibility for providing evidence/research is on answerers. I see you commented, but did not answer here. Again, I apologize. – Namaste May 12 at 22:27
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    @Namaste: Here's the thing. They're the moderators. They don't need evidence; they have experience. They deal with people all the time, dispensing warnings or suspensions as appropriate. I don't see why they need to prove anything to you. If they feel the need for a tool, they will ask for one. And if you suggest that they should have a tool and they don't see that tool as being useful, I really don't see why they should provide any particular evidence for that position. The burden of proof is on the asker. – Nicol Bolas May 14 at 1:11
5

Essentially the OP is asking whether a soft suspension would be useful to the community and to the mod team, those who issue the suspensions. But, there are already a number of available options open.

  1. The mods can issue an official warning to the account holder whose behaviour is causing ripples. This entails no lost of rep or privileges but tells the account holder to back off from being problematic, bending the guidelines, ignoring standards etc.
  2. The offender can be suspended for as little as a single day, the famous "cooling off period". In my books, that is already a very light suspension.

  3. The suspension can be lifted at any time, if and when the mods see fit, if the user has mended their ways or reigned in their behaviour. And in very rare cases one or mods may realize that they have made an error of judgment or acted too hastily, in which case the suspension might be lifted.

Last but not least, I can imagine users who have been offered a soft suspension being equally mad at TPTB. Allowing a high-rep user to post answers and questions when their rep is at 1 is... I think, a bit humiliating. It would also create confusion, and haggles across meta of the type:

  • Why wasn't I offered a soft suspension?
  • Why can @userXYZ post if they are suspended?
  • What happened to my rep?
    etc.

Even I can see that the proposal is not worth the hassle it would inevitably create.

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