Community moderators already have an ability to mark potential users as troublemakers via annotations, but that ability isn't very useful in itself.

It would be nice if mods could mark users as potential troublemakers and then could see a page with a summary of all the latest activity by these marked users. The ability to remove the mark would also be appropriate in this case, if the users changed their ways after receiving a few comments / e-mails / death threats.

A basic use-case: a user's only two answers contain a link to her own website, but they appear in relevant questions. This isn't spam and is fine by me, but I would like to keep that user under the spotlight for a few days to watch if she continues to do this further, and maybe leak into questions which aren't as relevant - this has recently happened on Gaming.

Alternatively, if adding a new specialized page for this isn't considered beneficial, maybe we should have the low-post-quality detector add "bad points" to posts by these users, so that it's more likely low-quality posts from these users would float to the top of the problematic-posts list.

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    Jeff had early on repeatedly stated that he will not provide a way to mark users negatively, only posts and comments. You may need to provide more evidence that this would significantly improve SO. – Adam Davis Jan 24 '11 at 16:43
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    @Polly moderators already have a way to mark users negatively, it just cannot be utilized in a way similar to what I am describing above. I added a use-case, though. – Oak Jan 24 '11 at 16:48
  • That borders on being creepy. There's already mechanisms in place that deal with users who continuously provide low quality questions and answers. I just saw a user today on meta asking why SO isn't accepting questions from them any longer. – Tim Post Jan 24 '11 at 17:03
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    @TimPost Measures and problems that apply on SO don't necessarily also apply on other SE sites. – badp Jan 24 '11 at 17:25

We can already see a list of users currently in the penalty box along with a list of recent annotations by other mods. If you really want to watch a specific user you can follow their RSS feed. I think a user watch page would probably have more noise than signal (in this case, the signal being the negative behavior you're looking for, and the noise being normal behavior).

If I only consider someone a potential troublemaker then that really isn't enough to make me want to watch them. If their past behavior isn't enough for me to take some action (warning or suspension) then I'm just going to annotate them and leave them alone.


In the use case you provided in your edit, I'd just annotate the user and check back on them later. If they fall off the recent annotations page without any more activity, then no harm done. If they repeat the behavior you can follow up with a warning if necessary.

  • You make an important point about the signal-to-noise ratio in that hypothetical page - but perhaps the "the owner of this post is a troublemaker" data could be incorporated into the low-quality detector? I've edited what I mean into the question. – Oak Jan 24 '11 at 16:56

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