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I have recently noticed several "high-rep"(1) users (who were pretty active over the past weeks and months) are currently suspended, adding to plenty of other suspensions I've noticed since October 2019.

In my subjective perception, it feels like a significant number of users have been suspended recently, but without any insights into statistics that is pure speculation. So, this question is an attempt to get some hard data. Ideally, the more details, the better, with normalized data, if possible. For example:

  1. What are the ban statistics from the beginning of the Monica incident until now, as compared with one or more previous years during the same fall-to-winter period?
  2. How many users have been banned?
  3. How many were banned without prior warning?
  4. What is the distribution of the the reasons given for the recent suspensions?

Note that the existence of a suspension during the previous 12 months blocks people from becoming a moderator.


Update: See 2019: a year in moderation


1: I am not talking about "trolls or spammers", only about well-known users that have a long history of providing constructive, insightful and helpful content on MSE.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. Also, seeing how it works with a comment lock in practice. – Journeyman Geek Dec 31 '19 at 15:01
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    Highly relevant chat thread: chat.meta.stackexchange.com/rooms/89/conversation/views-of-mse – jscs Jan 8 at 20:20
  • I see that someone was banned until... 2024?! But that might have been months ago. meta.stackexchange.com/a/313799/248268 web.archive.org/web/20200118131345/https://… – Nemo Jan 18 at 13:14
  • Do we know how the decision to ban/suspend high profile users is made? Is it safe to assume some C-level or director is involved? – Nemo Jan 18 at 13:16
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    @JourneymanGeek moving comments to chat meant that I didn't see some comments which could have helped me answer differently, for instance some objection to numbers/names/statistics «Suspensions are between the user and the mod. A suspended user doesn't need to fear that they become part of a "statistic"». – Nemo Jan 19 at 9:51
25
+200

In my subjective perception, it just feels like a high number of users are suspended these days, but without any insights into statistics that is pure speculation.

That's always a bad starting point (without statistical data), but I can at least confirm your (subjective) observations.

Thus I am simply wondering: is the current rate of suspension still "within the normal" given the "storms" that shake this place lately? Or is the community witnessing an unseen outburst of suspension-worthy posts here on Meta SE?

At least since October 2019 there are several, well, let's say dramas with regard to the community vs. Stack Exchange, Inc. going on.

Such dramas attract trolls, but also serious contributors here.

For trolls, suspension reasons may be obvious.
For the serious (and maybe experienced, and dwelled well) contributors saying the forbidden1 it seemingly just becomes just a slippery slope.


1)There were some recent changes regarding the Code of Conduct, which has severely changed the moderators' (staff CM's or community elected) sensitivity about wording in any kind of posts.

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    Are you confirming the observations? – dustytrash Dec 29 '19 at 19:25
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    @dustytrash From my guts yes, regarding SEDE research no. – πάντα ῥεῖ Dec 29 '19 at 19:28
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    I kind of doubt that trolls would troll with their main accounts. My feeling tells me that banned serious contributors are quite numerous. – Fermi paradox Dec 29 '19 at 20:04
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    @Fermiparadox "I kind of doubt that trolls would troll with their main accounts" Wouldn't these also caught from their sockpuppets as soon as identified? – πάντα ῥεῖ Dec 29 '19 at 20:13
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    @πάνταῥεῖ it's ineffective against trolls that know how such systems work. Obviously I will not go into detail here least they are educated, but it's not hard. In other words, we can't really ban users of an anonymous service no matter what we do. But you are right; some of them will be caught. – Fermi paradox Dec 29 '19 at 20:26
42
+50

I was about to ask a similar question. Without going into too much detail, I would slam a big Yes on this first.

Though, that's a very quick jump to a conclusion. I give this answer based on the following assumptions and my observations:

  • There are many spammers and random trolls around the Stack Exchange network that get banned or suspended every day. Their activities are generally unaffected by regular activities in the real community - drug ads are still coming at a consistent rate. We ignore this kind of bans.
  • Many high-profile Meta users are suspended recently. Not to name any, but I can assure you all those I've seen who are suspended for a month or more are respected by most of the community, and some are even previous elected moderators (for years!).
  • Recent conflicts makes some people more irritable than before (including me), and sparking and incendiary remarks appears to come up more often than before, when heats used to cool down very quickly.
  • As pointed out by user Reinstate Monica (267185) in comments, moderators and CMs have been more sensitive about language. I always see (highly-upvoted) answers deleted unreasonably, or at least I couldn't figure out why they were deleted.

Concluding from the above points, I'm not surprised to see that more active contributors are rejected by SE (suspended, posts deleted or otherwise received unwelcoming signals). So in general, yes to your guess, but statistically I'm not able to give an answer.

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    We often don't suspend spammers 😁 – Journeyman Geek Dec 29 '19 at 22:49
  • @JourneymanGeek Yep, so what I said was "spammers and trolls" - I believe we from time to time suspend the latter, right? – iBug is disappointed in SE Dec 30 '19 at 1:06
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    Only the ones we have faith may improve eventually. Some are so terribad we instanuke. And thats something folks miss I feel. Suspensions are time to cool off, not stew. – Journeyman Geek Dec 30 '19 at 1:07
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    @JourneymanGeek depends who. Some take it as direct offence and we might lose good people that we could otherwise keep. (e.g. more warnings before actual suspension.) – Shadow Wizard is Ear For You Dec 30 '19 at 11:09
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    And yet, it's about the behavior, not the person. And much of the things that got folks suspended would have gotten them suspended anytime , least with the ones I did. – Journeyman Geek Dec 30 '19 at 11:12
  • This answer is pure speculation. I would prefer to get real data. – Trilarion Dec 31 '19 at 15:25
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    @Trilarion Regarding suspension, regular users aren't intended to be allowed to get any data, so we'd better not think about it. But if more people discover the same phenomena, it's more likely true. – iBug is disappointed in SE Jan 1 at 4:48
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    @iBugsaysReinstateMonica We aren't intended to get data that exposes details about bans of individual users. There is no harm in seeing "x% were banned without a prior warning, while a warning should have been given". – Fermi paradox Jan 2 at 11:20
5

It's only fair to see this in the proper context, although I will, unfortunately, have to extrapolate from anecdotes and subjective interpretations.

The consistent "theme" with the recent unending string of dramas on SE is that they create an impression that at least SE doesn't care about the community, if not worse (repeated soulless and/or inaccurate statements about Monica, massive resistance against community input on the CoC, consistent negative comments about the community in blog posts, firing of Community Managers, etc).

That impression in turn leads to people like me not seeking to be banned, but not caring if I get banned or not either. Want to ban me? Sure, go ahead. So I don't have any incentive to limit myself.

In summary, it seems only logical that if more people don't care about getting banned, more people will be banned. And following that, more (at least semi-)justified bans might make it more likely for moderators to assume bad faith where they shouldn't have, leading to even more bans.

What got me 1-week banned was protesting, by repeatedly describing the events in detail, Robert Harvey's 1-year ban for civilly proposing an alternative CoC. Don't bother looking for it, the question about the alternative CoC is gone, as is the question about the deletion of that question, and the question about the deletion of the question about the deletion of that question.

5

Maybe. I'm not sure what's the normal number, but there are currently over 200 users with a reputation of 1 on MSE and some relatively active posts, of which over 20 users have a few posts with score higher than 5 and sometimes a very big absolute score.

See the query 1-reputation users with a meta posts with more than 5 votes , where you'll quickly notice that there is some noise.

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    @GhostCatsalutesMonicaC. Maybe someone who doesn't like to talk about suspensions, but could also just be a disagreement on the methods. There is no public log of suspensions, as far as I know, so this kind of query can at best find the current suspensions. – Nemo Jan 19 at 9:39
  • This list doesn't tell us if there has been an increase. I see enough users on that list that were suspended before "lately" and I see enough users on that list that can expect to get themselves suspended when there is drama involved. Excellent data-point to keep gossiping. But that is what we like. The down vote is mine. – rene Jan 19 at 9:41
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    @rene Sure, I agree it doesn't tell about increases in itself. The missing data point is what's a "normal" number. If the current suspensions happen on a regular basis rather than in sudden spikes, such a list might be representative of a current trend. If so, in a few months we may be able to see what the new number is and see if today it was unusually large. Otherwise, you'd need to repeat the query regularly and save the results. Do you have any suggestion of a method to get real data (rather than "gossip") other than making such queries? – Nemo Jan 19 at 9:45
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    @rene Correct. But besides the input from shog9, that is the best we have. And I am pretty sure: we won't see the kind of official shog9-statistics any more around here. Not only because he was fired. – GhostCat salutes Monica C. Jan 19 at 9:47
  • @rene Nevermind, I saw your comments on chat.meta.stackexchange.com/rooms/1447/… and I understand your downvote now. Thanks. – Nemo Jan 19 at 9:52
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    Let me also remind you and others that seem to fancy the question and this answer: Why we don't keep public records of suspensions. If I were ever to be suspended, I don't want to turn up on your list. – rene Jan 19 at 10:02
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    @rene Right. That's a question I upvoted back in the day, too. Let me remove the names from my answer, they were only meant to be illustrative (to make clear that the count includes some noise). – Nemo Jan 19 at 10:04
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    Anyone interested reads along here, notices the trend. It's obvious. Active posts from multi-badge holders with rep1 on front-page? Is that 'trolling', apologetics of this regime says the system is so good to weed those out, way before badges or rep accumulate. Then one finds this SEDE, queries it multiple times, logs the result. Again, the conclusion is obvious. Suspensions and removals did increase. Now come apologetics and say 'do not speculate' but 'also stay away from the data'? – LаngLаngС Jan 19 at 10:25
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    And of course, all that data sits right there. Everybody can look at it. That supposedly violated privacy does not and did not ever exist. ButI agree that only the numbers matter here. Even the query could exclude the names. Just print the postings count and count rows to get to that single number in the end. – GhostCat salutes Monica C. Jan 19 at 10:31
  • As someone whose name appeared in that list until yesterday, and whose name is visible in the edit history, it's worth noting that the SEDE enquiry does not trace suspensions that have since expired. In order to see whether there is or was a rise in the number of suspensions, one would need to compare the total of suspensions between September 30, 2019 and January 20, 2020 with that of previous years e.g 2015-2018. – Mari-Lou A Jan 26 at 8:52
  • I realise I have not said anything ground-breaking but this rather vital piece of information and analysis is missing from the answer. – Mari-Lou A Jan 26 at 8:55
  • @Mari-LouA thank you for commenting. That's what I said in my first comment, "There is no public log of suspensions, as far as I know, so this kind of query can at best find the current suspensions". I thought the question already makes it clear that there is no public log, so my answer doesn't state that explicitly and it just doesn't say anything about the rate of suspensions or past suspensions, it only talks about current (possible) suspensions. Is the current text misleading? I'll think how to improve it (without making it super-long). – Nemo Jan 26 at 9:02
  • It should be stated more explicitly. It might be worth looking at Shog9's end-of-year report, posted January 1 and comparing those results with previous years... which no one can because until last year there were no mods policing Meta. – Mari-Lou A Jan 26 at 9:30
-3

Yes, there was.

As I see it, the moderator team and/or SE staff gave "us", the ordinary users, a grace period where we could rant and post (almost) anything on our minds without being suspended for that. Heck... "even" I got a warning during the first days of the crisis. But not suspended.

However, for a while now, that grace period is over. To maintain order, the mod team must be very strict, otherwise the site will fall to chaos.

While I think some of the suspensions are not deserved, I do agree with the above idea in general. I want to see this site still up and running in a year, not closed due to total chaos.

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    I also got a warning for igniting a dumpster fire (by posting an answer as to why the upvote revaluation leak post was real), but it wasn't a formal warning, just an informal one (got pulled aside into a private chat room). – Sonic the Anonymous Hedgehog Jan 8 at 20:59
  • @Sonic think it's equivalent to official warning. When was it? – Shadow Wizard is Ear For You Jan 8 at 21:17
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    The moderator explicitly told me that it wasn't meant as a formal warning. There's nothing I wish to disclose further about it. – Sonic the Anonymous Hedgehog Jan 8 at 21:18
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    @Nat you get inbox notification and email. The inbox notifications links to such page (You can't see it, only mods and the user who got the message) and the email has the same content as that page. In the page you can reply to the message, but from experience it's pointless, they don't respond. They count on you to remember what you did wrong, or to guess. No way to reply to the email. (it comes from do-not-reply@stackoverflow.email) – Shadow Wizard is Ear For You Jan 9 at 7:27

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