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Yesterday, I received a private mod message because I was being chatty in comments and that I should stop doing that. The message was also implying that I did not know how to use comment properly.

It was true. Even though I didn't think I was doing something wrong at the time, I then realized that I was being chatty and that I definitively did not know how to use comment properly on this site (even though I usually have no issue knowing when I should post a question/answer or not on this specific site).

I then talked about this in chat and discovered that, even though moderators can now lock comments under a post (question or answer), they cannot comment-ban someone. If some mods really want to prevent a specific user from posting comments, all they can do is "regularly" ban them (so the user won't be able to post any question, answer or comment).

According to the mod I talked to in chat and some digging I did (eg: reading this answer), people really rarely get suspended for being chatty. Instead, most of the time, the person being chatty keep posting chatty comments while mod silently deletes them. Sometimes (like in my case), a mod will send a private message asking the user to please, stop being chatty. And, if the user is really, really annoying with all the chatty comment then they might "finally" be banned after a long time of "I post chatty comments and nothing bad happens to me".

So, quoting Shog9 answer:

From a user's perspective, they get absolutely no pushback at all until suddenly all of their privileges are gone... And on larger sites where comments can readily go unnoticed, this may take months or even years.

This leads me to ask for this feature:

Can we allow mods to comment-ban someone which would allow a person to still post questions and answers while preventing them from posting useless, chatty comments?


PS: Here are two related feature-request about comment ban, but those are for auto-ban by the system and not ban decided by mod:

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    Your second related link asks for mod tools to ban users from commenting, so is asking for the same thing as this post. However, given it is six years old and sites have many more comments than they did then, this seems worth bringing up again. Perhaps some kind of cooldown system, like chat suspensions, could work i.e. banning users from commenting for a few minuets or an hour or so while they calm down.
    – Mark Kirby
    Commented Oct 9, 2020 at 13:24
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    See also this discussion from '11: meta.stackexchange.com/q/84655/294691
    – Mithical
    Commented Oct 9, 2020 at 13:25
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    @MarkKirby In my case, I know that a suspensions of a few minutes or even an hour or two wouldn't have been enough for me to stop being chatty (the warning going with it probably would, but not the time frame). But I do agree that we don't have to start with a full week comment suspension and that a "one-day comment suspension" could be enough Commented Oct 9, 2020 at 13:44
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    Having received a similar message, I agree with the proposal, 24h would be a good timeframe where the warning has enough time to sit and have an effect. However, I think a big part of thinking "yes, I was arguing in comments too much, that was wrong" is that the comments are gone and it's over for the whole comment streak. If just one person is banned and others are still commenting, that would make me pretty angry if I were the one and I would not be able to see my errors. So I think it needs to be a combination of comment-banning people, but also clearing the comments as it is done already.
    – nvoigt
    Commented Oct 9, 2020 at 14:13
  • @nvoigt Accompanying it with a comment lock for the post might also be a good move, I believe this mainly happens on controversial posts, and when two users tap out (forcibly or not), there might be plenty to take their place and resume the discussion. Forcing users to take a break can be helpful, my only remark here is that a 24 hour regular suspension is not that bad, except that any suspension makes people ineligible to run for mod.
    – Erik A
    Commented Oct 10, 2020 at 9:52

2 Answers 2

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I've actually talked about this a fair bit - and it's something I'd love.

My reasoning is a little different, that it's a proportionate, directed way to discourage a problem behaviour when there is nothing else wrong and asking nicely doesn't help, somehow without maliciousness.

A moderator message or other gentle reminder is still going to be the first thing we do - and typically this will be without a suspension. And let’s be real here, if someone has other issues - we might need to suspend them sitewide anyway.

The situation where a comment only suspension is useful is when there are literally no other problem behaviours and a user causes problems or gets into trouble only due to excessive comments and a mod feels that its sufficient and proportionate, and a suspension would be.

That's a lot of Ifs.

And that's probably why the question above isn't a dupe of an FR I did before. It's an interesting mental experiment, and a tool that, much like a triangle headed screwdriver, would be nice to have in the toolbox, but not something used a lot.

It's a potentially specialist tool that would rarely be excellent, but not really used much.

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  • Not sure I agree. Getting a comment ban is a big smack in the head. Even someone who badly misbehaves will almost surely think twice after getting a comment ban, so it's unlikely a full suspension will be required. Of course there are extreme cases, but generally speaking, I believe this will be much more useful tool than you think. Commented Oct 10, 2020 at 11:34
  • What is "FR" (it is not in the glossary)? Feature request? Commented Oct 10, 2020 at 20:07
  • Yup that's what I meant Commented Oct 10, 2020 at 21:14
  • My concern with such a specialized tool is that it still adds the burden to explain to all mods when to actually use it (which is an area SE hasn't been particularly good at in general). Otherwise I could see this either used too often when a simple warning would have been enough, or used instead of a full suspension for cases like offensive comments where it really shouldn't be used. Commented Oct 11, 2020 at 9:51
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Suspensions are not the first tool a moderator uses; they generally are the last tool. There are exceptions for blatant offensive conduct or very elaborate schemes to circumvent the rules, but in general you get some kind of feedback about your behaviour before you get a suspension.

The point where you get the feedback that your behaviour is problematic in some way is the most important one. If you are able to adapt your behaviour, there is no need for any further moderator actions. The situation is resolved and everything is fine. If you are unable to change your behaviour when a moderator explains to you that it is disruptive, offensive or causing problems, the only remaining action is a suspension.

If you are able to learn from that moderator message, any kind of limited suspension wouldn't be of any use. The important behaviour change already happened, limiting you would be superfluous. If you are unable or unwilling to adjust your behaviour after such a moderator message, odds are a limited suspension wouldn't stop you. People generally don't take it well when they're suspended, and might lash out on the remaining channels they have available. A full suspension doesn't leave that many, and you have to rant on a different site on the network (which does happen, but also really annoys CMs and can earn you a network-wide suspension). A comment-only suspension would leave far too many ways for a user to wreak havoc simply because they're infuriated about their suspension.

I don't see any advantage to a comment-only suspension. A reasonable user will change their behaviour upon receiving a warning. An unreasonable user won't change their behaviour, and a full suspension makes it much easier to prevent any potential fallout.

What I could agree with is something closer to an automatic rate limit if too many of your comments get flagged. I'm not sure this would be possible for simply chatty comments, as many removed comments are entirely benign, but simply obsolete. It might make more sense for offensive comments.

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