All the changes happening in the world have made me think about how "records" affect people even years after they have arguably "served their time". Stack Exchange has followed the principle of A Day in the Penalty Box, which makes a good effort to shield old suspensions from public view (and judgment and/or prejudice), but it notably does not hide these prior penalties from moderators or staff. The result of that is that a prior "encounter" with a moderation penalty can affect a user for years to come, potentially biasing moderators and staff against them in future encounters.
Let's have a process by which users who have demonstrated continued good behavior after returning from a suspension can get their prior suspensions expunged (removed from the system completely, or at least sealed beyond the view even of most ♦-bearing mortals).
I'm open to suggestions on models for this, but my initial idea is twofold.
- Users whose last suspension anywhere on the network was over a certain number of years ago (e.g. three) and have demonstrated a minimum amount of post-suspension participation will receive an automatic expungement. Requiring a minimum participation helps us see their improved behavior.
- Users whose last suspension anywhere on the network was over a year ago (i.e. have regained the ability to stand for election as a ♦ moderator) may apply for an expungement. The application for expungement will be handled similar to requests for moderator restoration. On a favorable determination, the user's prior suspensions are expunged. On an unfavorable determination (expungement refused), the user may apply again after the passage of sufficient time.
Completion of the suspension expungement process will not shield the user from future moderation enforcement activities, but it will allow them to receive judgment in light of their present behavior, not their past behavior.
I know that there are certain users who are "frequent fliers" in our moderation systems (where I think to myself "oh, he's suspended again, will he ever learn?") that won't get anywhere near to qualifying for this program, but I think it could be very valuable for those users who have truly learned a lesson, or simply had a bad experience in the past, to move even further beyond it.