All names below are created and do not refer to any specific users or SE sites.

In the early days, when user W participated in SE site X, user W gained lots of "reputation" by plagiarising others' answers to answer similar questions; most were copied verbatim. W later got caught by various users and moderators.

W was such much into reputation they later formed a group of friends to vote for each other. W then got caught and suspended for one year.

W came back. W learned the lesson that voting groups are likely to be detected. W then created careful sockpuppets to upvote 1 or 2 of their posts every few days.

Several years later, W was finally caught again and suspended for another one year due to voting irregularities.

W then came back. And again, W is becoming more careful.

Yet, a few months later, this user got suspended again for a few days because of voting irregularities.

How many voting irregularities do we tolerate? Would the community managers consider giving such users a permanent suspension?

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    i mean, you're asking for a number... that shouldn't exist. – user400654 Sep 15 '20 at 21:34
  • @Ollie: "It doesn't matter how long you suspend them." Surely it does if the suspension is permanent. – remem Sep 15 '20 at 21:37
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    A permanent suspension is often the precursor to a new account, one without an obvious history that can be easily tracked. Generally better off if the troublesome user just keeps using the same one. – user400654 Sep 15 '20 at 21:38
  • @user400654: "A permanent suspension is often ..." Are you speaking for moderators or community managers or not? – remem Sep 15 '20 at 21:39
  • If you permanently suspend one account, they will just create another. It would be no improvement over the current system. – Ollie Sep 15 '20 at 21:39
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    I am speaking as someone who's been part of the stack community for a long time, who has interacted with mods, cm's, the community many times over the years. – user400654 Sep 15 '20 at 21:40
  • @Ollie: "hey will just create another". One cannot create a high rep account that may have big impacts to a site in one day. – remem Sep 15 '20 at 21:41
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    @remem exactly, which is why leaving that hope that they'll eventually get their big account back is reason enough for them to consider not trying to work up a new one. – user400654 Sep 15 '20 at 21:41
  • I assume that "permanent" suspension does not allow "eventually get their big account back". – remem Sep 15 '20 at 21:43
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    Correct, which would lead to them creating a new account and starting all over again. it seems like we're going in circles here – user400654 Sep 15 '20 at 21:45
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    Does this answer your question? What is serial voting and how does it affect me? – Xnero Sep 15 '20 at 21:57
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    Mods can only suspend for a year at the most and CMs don't really give network suspensions unless the user is being problematic on multiple sites with little beneficial participation. – Catija Sep 15 '20 at 22:11
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    The system doesn't have a feature to give a permanent suspension. So technically the answer is "no, because they can't" to your last question. What is tolerated is based on what moderators allow, what they have on record for a user and whether they feel a (long) suspension is warranted. If a year is not enough a mod can escalate to a CM which can instate a suspension that is longer then a year and maybe extent that suspension network wide. – rene Sep 15 '20 at 22:12
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    @Daniil that duplicate might be related but it doesn't answer how repeat offenders are handled and what criteria are at play then. If anything, I expect mods to chime in here how they handle such cases maybe with comments / suggestions from a CM. That is not something I find in the FAQ you picked as dupe target. – rene Sep 15 '20 at 22:19
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    Remem, a somewhat different question which might provide a partial answer. – Rob Sep 16 '20 at 3:59

How many voting irregularities do we tolerate? Would the community managers consider giving such users a permanent suspension?

Generally, no.

There's a bit of a misconception about suspensions that I'd like to clear up.

CMs can't do multi-year, single-site suspensions. We have the same limitations as mods in that regard. We can only issue multi-year suspensions network-wide and, in general, unless a user is rampaging across the network causing problems we're not going to network suspend them... well, OK... maybe not rampaging - but the point is, we don't give network wide suspensions for users who are generally only causing issues on a single site.

Also, permanent suspensions (or very long term ones) don't really... serve a huge purpose other than to push a user to more sock puppets. If you get a 30-day or even a one-year suspension and you have a bunch of reputation, it's doable to wait it out and come back next year. If you have a ten-year suspension, you might as well forget the account and start over from scratch - we don't suggest this as if you repeat the same behaviors, you can be easy to catch, but it can be possible for some.

As to the suspension duration - that's up to the moderators on the site. Remember, they have tons more info than you do and they often get additional information or guidance from the CMs to help them make their decisions. If a mod feels like a two-week suspension is the appropriate response, even after two full year suspensions... that's OK.

The slug on a user's profile when they're suspended is a very broad statement that doesn't really tell you enough information to make any assumptions. We do generally recommend a standard escalation of suspensions that looks like:

warning -> 7-day -> 30-day -> 365 day

However, moderators are free to choose any number of days between 1 and 365 at any time based on the severity of the situation and we generally trust them to make good ones. Users can always contest the duration of their own suspensions by using the contact form. Another user could theoretically request review of a user's suspension duration if they wish but doing so would likely only result in a generic, "we'll look into it" response since we can not give any additional information.

In general, unless you know exactly what happened in the past and what happened to cause the current suspension and feel absolutely that a moderator or the moderator team is not judging the situation correctly, I would recommend against any such contact. As I've said, moderators and CMs have a lot more info and base decisions on that information and their experience. Clearly, the moderators had little issue granting year-long suspensions in the past so I'd trust them to have made an intentional decision in this case.

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    You mention starting over, on a new account, when you have a long suspension. I always believed that to be a violation of the ToS, punishable by account deletion... – Luuklag Sep 16 '20 at 7:01
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    Yeah. It is. Doesn't mean people don't do it. That paragraph is written from the PoV of the suspended party. It's not intended to be taken as advice. – Catija Sep 16 '20 at 7:02

I think you should flag one of this hypothetical user’s posts and explain your concerns about this user to a moderator on the site your concern originated from.

If they do not appear to be adequately addressing your concerns then you can always use the Contact form to raise them with Stack Exchange staff.

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