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Offline xasop

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On the notion of ban triggers but on not triggering bans
« on: February 16, 2014, 04:46:26 AM »
We need some consensus on what it means to ban someone, and which triggers should be applied. SMF allows us to ban based on username, e-mail address, IP address and/or hostname.

When a ban is issued, we wish to limit or restrict forum access for some identity. The subject for discussion in this thread is how we define the identity that is to be banned; for example, is a username sufficient? Is an IP address part of the identity we are banning? Once we have clearly defined an identity, we can apply ban triggers appropriately.

I am raising this in S&C because I think all members should have a say in how bans are orchestrated.


My view on this matter stems from the belief that a ban is always intended as a means of rehabilitation, not retribution. The purpose of a ban is to, where prior warnings have failed, discourage violation of the rules and encourage contributive posting. It is never to punish someone for past actions; nothing is to be gained by punishing someone for an offence they are no longer committing.

I propose that, for a first offence, an identity is always limited to the user account, not the IP address. That account is the thing that has been causing trouble, and it may be uniquely associated with a username and an e-mail address, but not necessarily an IP address. Therefore, a first ban should always make use of only the username and e-mail address triggers.

Suppose, then, that the user makes another account. There are two possibilities; one, that they use the same IP address as before; two, that they use a different IP address. In the latter case, an IP address trigger would have been useless anyway, so we shall only consider the former case. We can subdivide this into two further possibilities; either they create an account and continue to violate the rules as before, or they start posting in a contributive fashion and adhering to the rules.

If they are continuing to violate the rules, then we can consider the IP address as an identity that is causing trouble, as it is now creating multiple troublesome accounts. We may then apply an IP address trigger to resolve that problem.

The final possibility is that the user creates an account and starts contributing to the forum. It follows from the belief that bans are not for retribution that we do not care what the user has done previously; they are contributing now, so we don't need to restrict their forum access. On the other hand, if we had applied an IP address ban earlier, we would have prevented them from taking this positive step to recovery and lost a contributing member.

I conclude that, if you agree with my statement that bans are never for the purpose of retribution, using IP address triggers on the first offence is harmful rather than beneficial to the forum. I therefore propose that IP address (and hostname, which is almost the same thing) bans are never used unless it can be shown that they are chronically associated with troublemaking accounts.


Thoughts and comments welcome.
« Last Edit: February 16, 2014, 04:50:18 AM by Parsifal »
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Offline Shane

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Re: On the notion of ban triggers but on not triggering bans
« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2014, 06:05:58 AM »
Tl;dr ban IPs.
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Offline Rama Set

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Re: On the notion of ban triggers but on not triggering bans
« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2014, 12:27:11 PM »
I appreciate the sophistication in the distinctions you are making, but I think it is always the person at the keyboard that needs to receive the message or lesson. I think it should be banned.
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Offline xasop

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Re: On the notion of ban triggers but on not triggering bans
« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2014, 02:49:02 PM »
I appreciate the sophistication in the distinctions you are making, but I think it is always the person at the keyboard that needs to receive the message or lesson. I think it should be banned.

There is no way to ban based on the person behind the keyboard. If we could do that, this thread would be redundant. Instead, we have certain pieces of information available to us, such as username, e-mail address and IP address, and we need to work out what to do with those.

I appreciate your input, but what I'm most interested in is how we can reach a documentable, repeatable process for issuing bans. Do you have suggestions on how we can best approximate banning a person?
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Re: On the notion of ban triggers but on not triggering bans
« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2014, 03:28:22 PM »
I believe what Parsifal has described in the OP is the best solution.

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Offline spoon

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Re: On the notion of ban triggers but on not triggering bans
« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2014, 03:57:24 PM »
I believe what Parsifal has described in the OP is the best solution.
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Offline Lord Dave

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Re: On the notion of ban triggers but on not triggering bans
« Reply #6 on: February 16, 2014, 05:13:36 PM »
I agree with Parsifal as well.  Though I see bans as a way to cool off as well as protect others, not rehabilitate.

I also would like to add that we not punish someone for making an account so they can despute their ban.  I always thought the whole "you're banned for circumventing your ban in an attempt to appeal your ban" was silly.  So long as they don't post outside of S&C or PMs.


But now that I think about it, my mind drifts to EJ.  Banning him doesn't help yet he spent a lot of time venting in AR.  I wonder if banning is actually worth it.  Why not simply restrict them to AR as a first offense?  They can vent and get whatever issues they have out of their system while having the community there for reflection rather than being totally shunned.
If you are going to DebOOonK an expert then you have to at least provide a source with credentials of equal or greater relevance. Even then, it merely shows that some experts disagree with each other.

Re: On the notion of ban triggers but on not triggering bans
« Reply #7 on: February 16, 2014, 06:07:11 PM »
How about allowing a user to still be able to read the boards while banned, even though they can't post?  At the very least they should be able to keep up with conversations so they're caught up when they come back.  It's better than them coming back with the last memorable conversation in their mind being the one they got banned in.
I don't even care to find out what you're doing wrong, but I'm sure you're doing something wrong.

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Offline Lord Dave

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Re: On the notion of ban triggers but on not triggering bans
« Reply #8 on: February 16, 2014, 07:21:13 PM »
How about allowing a user to still be able to read the boards while banned, even though they can't post?  At the very least they should be able to keep up with conversations so they're caught up when they come back.  It's better than them coming back with the last memorable conversation in their mind being the one they got banned in.
That's the same as name ban.
If you are going to DebOOonK an expert then you have to at least provide a source with credentials of equal or greater relevance. Even then, it merely shows that some experts disagree with each other.

Re: On the notion of ban triggers but on not triggering bans
« Reply #9 on: February 16, 2014, 08:26:59 PM »
How about allowing a user to still be able to read the boards while banned, even though they can't post?  At the very least they should be able to keep up with conversations so they're caught up when they come back.  It's better than them coming back with the last memorable conversation in their mind being the one they got banned in.
That's the same as name ban.

When I got test banned on the old site, I could read it as a guest until I tried to log in, then I couldn't read anything, even as a guest.
I don't even care to find out what you're doing wrong, but I'm sure you're doing something wrong.

Offline Blanko

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Re: On the notion of ban triggers but on not triggering bans
« Reply #10 on: February 16, 2014, 08:29:08 PM »
Name ban + enforcing a more strict alt policy on banned users seems like a good combination to me.

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Offline jroa

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Re: On the notion of ban triggers but on not triggering bans
« Reply #11 on: February 16, 2014, 08:41:30 PM »
Alts are allowed here, in case you did not get the memo. 

Offline Blanko

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Re: On the notion of ban triggers but on not triggering bans
« Reply #12 on: February 16, 2014, 08:52:50 PM »
Alts are allowed here, in case you did not get the memo.

Yes, which is why I specified it as an exception. Go to bed.

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Offline Rama Set

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Re: On the notion of ban triggers but on not triggering bans
« Reply #13 on: February 17, 2014, 01:04:29 AM »
I appreciate the sophistication in the distinctions you are making, but I think it is always the person at the keyboard that needs to receive the message or lesson. I think it should be banned.

There is no way to ban based on the person behind the keyboard. If we could do that, this thread would be redundant. Instead, we have certain pieces of information available to us, such as username, e-mail address and IP address, and we need to work out what to do with those.

I appreciate your input, but what I'm most interested in is how we can reach a documentable, repeatable process for issuing bans. Do you have suggestions on how we can best approximate banning a person?

Sorry, I garbled the last sentence in an orgy of iPhone crappiness. I meant to say that I think IPs should be banned.
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Offline Tau

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Re: On the notion of ban triggers but on not triggering bans
« Reply #14 on: February 17, 2014, 02:05:05 AM »
I think that, within reason, alts should be treated separately. I mean, if they're operating under the radar and not breaking the rules we've won. That said, I wouldn't mind a clause about the rules being broader for users identified as alts. Basically so that users can't try to taunt us by skimming the rules and just generally being New Earth or TKwith their alts. Once you've been banned once it should be easier to get banned a second time. This also works as a way of rewarding good behavior. If you generally abide by the rules and have never been banned, the mods should be willing and (officially) able to let slide things that they might not if you have a record.

Speaking of New Earth, I should point out here that during my short, abortive time as a mod my one real success was in calming him down and I did so by being afraid to wield my bamhammer. Mediation is frequently a better tool than bamming and our official policy should reflect that.
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Offline xasop

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Re: On the notion of ban triggers but on not triggering bans
« Reply #15 on: February 17, 2014, 09:24:27 AM »
Sorry, I garbled the last sentence in an orgy of iPhone crappiness. I meant to say that I think IPs should be banned.

IP addresses can (and often do) have multiple people using them, though. Do you think it's worth the possible (and sometimes very real, as happened more than once on the old FES) false positive to always use an IP address ban trigger?
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Offline Lord Dave

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Re: On the notion of ban triggers but on not triggering bans
« Reply #16 on: February 18, 2014, 12:10:03 AM »
Sorry, I garbled the last sentence in an orgy of iPhone crappiness. I meant to say that I think IPs should be banned.

IP addresses can (and often do) have multiple people using them, though. Do you think it's worth the possible (and sometimes very real, as happened more than once on the old FES) false positive to always use an IP address ban trigger?
So long as we give them an e-mail address they can send a "help, I was IP banned by accident and I can't get in anymore" message, it should be fine. 
If you are going to DebOOonK an expert then you have to at least provide a source with credentials of equal or greater relevance. Even then, it merely shows that some experts disagree with each other.

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Offline Rama Set

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Re: On the notion of ban triggers but on not triggering bans
« Reply #17 on: February 18, 2014, 12:23:48 AM »
False positives are better than false negatives. If the other users on the same IP get inconvenienced it will only increase the pressure on the bannee to smarten up.
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Offline Pete Svarrior

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Re: On the notion of ban triggers but on not triggering bans
« Reply #18 on: February 18, 2014, 12:24:51 AM »
If the other users on the same IP get inconvenienced it will only increase the pressure on the bannee to smarten up.
Assuming they even know those inconvenienced, or even know of them.
Read the FAQ before asking your question - chances are we already addressed it.
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Offline Rama Set

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Re: On the notion of ban triggers but on not triggering bans
« Reply #19 on: February 18, 2014, 01:10:34 AM »
If the other users on the same IP get inconvenienced it will only increase the pressure on the bannee to smarten up.
Assuming they even know those inconvenienced, or even know of them.

It doesn't seem that likely that two people share an IP address, do not know of each other's existence and are users on tfes.org.
Th*rk is the worst person on this website.