How to handle being banned... or avoid it altogether.

Discussion in 'Site and Forum Feedback' started by jsw, Mar 26, 2007.

  1. jsw Moderator emeritus


    Mar 16, 2004
    Andover, MA
    [Note: I'm going to stick this thread for a short while, especially because of recent events, but will unstick it in a day or so].

    I realize that virtually everyone here realizes that MacRumors is owned by Arnold Kim but administered and moderated by volunteers. Despite Arn's best attempts, he's been unable to clone himself - at least officially - and so each admin and moderator is a separate individual with individual lives.

    As a result, we will not respond to the same inputs in exactly the same way every time, and sometimes mistakes are made. Far more often, reasonable actions are taken which members believe were unfair. In any event, there's a way to deal with this, and many ways not to deal with it.

    Having been a member far longer than I was a moderator, and so having good memories of being on both sides, let me offer some advice. This isn't "official" advice per se, but I consider it to be valid.

    First, it's important to realize that this is Arn's site. Period. There is but one person that actually has a "right" to be here, and that's arn. Everyone else here - you, me, the admins - is here because he lets us be here. I assume that's obvious, but it deserved to be said again. His word is final. If arn decided that any mention of monkeys would result in an immediate ban, well, that's what'd happen.

    As it turns out, though, arn is too busy to administer a site with 100,000+ members by himself, especially with that pesky real-life career to deal with. So he appointed volunteer administrators and moderators to help. He trusts us to deal with issues in his stead, and we've been given rules and guidelines to use in order to do so. We each interpret them essentially the same way, but there are, of course, some differences because of that whole not-being-clones thing.

    The vast majority of the time, for the vast majority of members, there are no real problems. Yes, your post or thread might get edited or deleted. Mine were before I was a moderator, and they still are. It isn't a big deal.

    Sometimes, though, people do things and get banned. For what it's worth, I was once banned for a few hours (I broke a rule). Some bans are permanent - but those are usually reserved for spammers or members who have been repeatedly warned. New members with few posts who show themselves to be problematic right off the bat might also get banned permanently. Most bans, though, are temporary. We're transitioning to using "Unexpected vacation" (the title may change) in lieu of "Banned" for temporary bans, so don't think that every time you see "Banned" it means forever. Before long, though, it'll only say "Banned" for those who have been banned permanently.

    If you get banned - permanently or temporarily - you will always be notified about when, if ever, your ban will end. If it's a temporary ban, and you know what you did wrong, the best thing is to simply wait it out, and possibly, when it's over, send an apology via PM or the "Contact us" link, mentioning that you understand what you did wrong (we keep track of transgressions, and an apology is helpful unless, of course, you do it again, in which case it looks more like you're doing it intentionally with full knowledge that it's a violation).

    If the ban is for something you believe was a mistake, or if you feel it was too long, also use the "Contact us" link to respond. Keep in mind that it's in your best interests to not be belligerent or accusatory in that submission. All admins and moderators can see it, so most of us will not have any preconceived notions about what should be done - until we read what you have to say. This is your chance to make a first impression - at least for that ban - on most of us. Yelling is not a good choice. Acting like you expect immediate action or in any other way acting like a toddler... also not good choices.

    At this point, once you've contacted us, you need to wait. Why? Because we have lives and aren't always online. We'll almost always wait for feedback from the admin/moderator who banned you, and that might take a while to get. I understand that it's absolutely urgent for you to be able to post again. It's not as urgent for us. I'm not trying to be cold; you just need to understand that we have dozens of things to deal with on a slow day, and many many dozens of things on a rough day, and so it's entirely likely that your request is less urgent than something else. But... every single request is dealt with. We will look into it. That doesn't mean we'll always agree with you. But, if it seems someone overreacted or - most likely - didn't fully understand the situation, we'll fix things.

    Here are things not to do if you get banned:
    • Have a friend contact us for you. Contact us yourself. If you'd like to mention that other members have more details, then by all means mention that... but having people contact us for you? Not a good call.
    • Contact us more that once. We see all the contacts. If you think something failed just as you were submitting the note, fine, send something again. But an hourly contact indicating that you need an answer will not be good for you.
    • Have a friend post a 'goodbye' thread or in any other way try to bring what happened to light until we've had a chance to deal with it. This never, ever helps anything. Ever. And, in case that wasn't clear, I'll say it again: ever.
    • Re-register. This is against the rules, is a justification for a permanent ban, and is something we almost always spot. You might get away with it, but you most likely won't.
    • Be belligerent (as mentioned above). It won't help you.

    Something else which I feel needs to be mentioned: violating the rules isn't the only way you can get yourself banned. You can also be banned for creating too much of a hassle for us. As mentioned, we're volunteers, and spending an hour cleaning up your messes isn't going to curry any favor for you. Make enough problems, even if you stay within the rules, and you'll be banned or sent away for some time. Some of you like to stand right on the line and then cry foul when something happens. Guess what? We see you standing on the line, and, stand there long enough, and we'll cease to care that you never actually stepped over it.

    If you're not banned, are you allowed to complain about things? Of course. But that's because arn allows it, not because you're protected by free speech or whatnot here. There's no rule that says that you need to agree with everything that happens. Complaining isn't the problem. How you complain is important. Mentioning an issue with which you disagree is one thing. Bitching in public about things just because you feel you were wronged? That's something altogether different. Play nice, and things will either never go wrong for you, or, if they do, will be quickly rectified. Treat this site as something to which you're entitled, or goad others into stepping over the line, or spend your days balancing on that line, and you'll soon find more time in your day, as it won't be spent posting here.

    And for those who wonder why someone was banned, please keep in mind that, not only do we have a long and documented memory of a member's actions, but we also delete and edit posts and threads. So simply searching for "what happened" is usually going to give you a poor idea of what actually happened.

    For those who wonder why member X was banned and member Y wasn't: member Y got lucky, usually, because X was reported and they weren't. Or X has a history and Y doesn't. Just because someone didn't get banned for what you know you shouldn't have done doesn't mean you'll be so lucky.

    And, finally, for those who think everyone should be warned before being banned: in an ideal world, I'd agree, most of the time. In the real world, we don't always have the time, especially because you can contact us if you feel the ban is in error. We ban very few of the people who actively post here. Almost all of the ones we banned were doing things they should have known not to do. Some people are banned erroneously, and they're almost always quickly unbanned and given a moderator's salary for a year as compensation.
  2. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

    Jul 4, 2004
    Outstanding and much-needed...

    Monkeys! Oops... bye. :eek:
  3. dogbone macrumors 68020


    Sep 16, 2005
    S33.687308617200465 E150.31341791152954
    Good post. But I'm not too sure about this bit...

    "... or goad others into stepping over the line..."
  4. BigPrince macrumors 68020

    Dec 27, 2006
    This board is the most laid back forum I've posted on.
  5. mattscott306 macrumors 68040


    Jan 16, 2007
    Thanks for taking the time to post that JSW. I'll be sure to refrain from the phrase monkey. :)
  6. spicyapple macrumors 68000


    Jul 20, 2006
    a wee bit wordy.

    I think this issue can be summed up as follows:

    members: don't act like idiots, be kind.
    mods: don't use your mod powers as a way to punish members, it's only for moderating discussions.
  7. BigPrince macrumors 68020

    Dec 27, 2006
    I have no clue what happened nor do I have no idea how the hierarchy of the forum works.

    IF this is a problem, perhaps do not allow all mods the ability to ban just the recommendation to ban. Allow the "senior" mods to carry out the ban, again ONLY IF this is infact a problem.
  8. dartzorichalcos macrumors 65816


    Mar 23, 2007
    So the only person that had 0% chance of getting banned is Arn. Can moderators, demi gods and contributors get banned?
  9. mattscott306 macrumors 68040


    Jan 16, 2007
    Yes we can, we still have to follow the rules, just like everyone else.
  10. jsw thread starter Moderator emeritus


    Mar 16, 2004
    Andover, MA
    There are some here who spend their time antagonizing others - or saying things just to provoke a response from someone they know will reply after getting upset. It's recognized, usually, and a note is made of it. If it becomes chronic or ever is acutely intolerable, it results in action being taken.

    Yes, people are responsible for their own actions. But many of us have children, and we're fully aware of the tactic whereby one sets the other one up to get into trouble. We're generally not all that naive, and the innocent act by some is pretty transparent.
    No, they're for moderating the forums as a whole, which often transcends just individual threads.
    In point of fact, the less-experienced moderators are often less inclined to ban for the very reason that they're concerned their actions will be questioned. Additionally, requiring a "vote" in order to carry out an act of moderation essentially reduces the role of the "junior" moderator to that of a post reporter. There are no true "junior" moderators, by the way.
  11. Jaffa Cake macrumors Core

    Jaffa Cake

    Aug 1, 2004
    The City of Culture, Englandshire
    Demis and contributors can (and indeed some have been in the past), I'm sure that mods aren't immune either if there's some heavy duty overstepping of lines going on.

    And by the way – well put, jsw.
  12. psychofreak Retired


    May 16, 2006
    Of course, I mean, what would happen if they were immune and created a thread about monkeys for example, or even something worse...
  13. Diatribe macrumors 601


    Jan 8, 2004
    Back in the motherland
    I agree with you JSW. It's just that especially with long time members it should be considered writing a PM and warning them before if it wasn't that bad of an offense.
    On a side note: Sometimes mods react very differently, sometimes they let you get away with a 2 word comment, sometimes they'll delete a 10 word comment. Mods are only people so we should give them a break. But the same goes for long time members. If it's the first offense, give them a break.
  14. FleurDuMal macrumors 68000


    May 31, 2006
    London Town
  15. PlaceofDis macrumors Core

    Jan 6, 2004
    and everyone else, since they are playing in his sandbox too.
  16. Queso macrumors G4

    Mar 4, 2006
    I think it works something like this. Demis and Contributors most certainly can be banned and sometimes do. Mods have limited admin powers and can ban members, but Gods have full admin powers and could even ban mods if necessary. arn has The One Account To Bind Them All and could ban us all if he wished. He can also promote or demote people to mod, God or back to member, or even just turn off the server and leave us all staring at a blank screen.

    Basically, read the site rules and try and follow them. Yeah, we all post nasty stuff occasionally because we all get bad days, but don't get narky if someone comes along and cleans it away. And if you get a warning, don't go off on one. Think about what the warning was for. Take a self-imposed time-out if necessary. Chill and all will be well.
  17. BigPrince macrumors 68020

    Dec 27, 2006
    I guess I don't post enough and am oblivious to these problems. I think the site is ran well.
  18. MultiM macrumors 6502


    May 9, 2006
    TO. I've moved!
    Yessir Mr. Monkey Man Moderator SIR! All's well...
  19. Zwhaler macrumors 604


    Jun 10, 2006
    Maybe this should be a perm. sticky. A little long, but I think it gets the point across 100% clearly. Common sense people... I once had an elementary school teacher who had none of the regular class rules, such as no eating, etc. Her only rule was to do everything with common sense. Does common sense tell you to break the forum rules? Hopefully not. So use common sense on this forum and you will most likely be ok.
  20. jsw thread starter Moderator emeritus


    Mar 16, 2004
    Andover, MA
    I agree that people, in general, should be warned if there's a reason to believe they're unaware that they're breaking the rules (and we do warn people, often), and I agree that we sometimes ban people erroneously. But we've usually warned those people in the past, and we usually know more about a situation than the general membership does - sometimes more than the members in question are aware that we know.

    But, yes, mistakes are made, and there's a mechanism in place to deal with that, and, if used properly, it usually results in a quick solution to the problem.

    As far as post edits go: we edit what we see or what's reported. There's no way we can follow every single post, so it's impossible for the exact same standards to be applied to every post, as we simply do not see every post.
  21. shecky Guest


    May 24, 2003
    Obviously you're not a golfer.
    see, i always thought the way to handle being banned was to be belligerent and refer to the mods as "nazis" after your ban was lifted. silly me :)

    as someone who has been a moderator on a few boards, i think this one is moderated well. i do think its more conservative than need be sometimes, but thats my problem, not theirs.

    the one thing that is problematic on a forum this big is consistency of moderation; as jsw said, sometimes a mod has a bad day and may ban for a reason that was not correct, etc. and on a forum this big its hard to have long debates in the moderator forum about it; sometimes it just happens. it happened to me once and while i know i was probably wrong, at the time i felt like i got screwed over. its just how the ball rolls sometimes.

    i just hope my criminal record does not make the mods lean more towards the ban button than they would otherwise with my comments in the future. :)
  22. FleurDuMal macrumors 68000


    May 31, 2006
    London Town
    The thing is, when it all ultimately comes down to the opinion of one person, wordy rules and guidelines are pretty meaningless.
  23. MacNut macrumors Core


    Jan 4, 2002
    There have been a handful of threads that have turned into flame wars lately so I think it is a good idea to refer to the rules.
  24. BigPrince macrumors 68020

    Dec 27, 2006
    Damn, I've missed all the excitement.
  25. skunk macrumors G4


    Jun 29, 2002
    Republic of Ukistan
    Mildred: What're you rebelling against, Johnny?
    Johnny: Whaddya got?

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