Should the public time-out title go?

Discussion in 'Site and Forum Feedback' started by Blue Velvet, Oct 24, 2010.

  1. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2004
    #1
    When forum members are banned from the site for a period of 1-30 days, occasionally longer, they receive a timeout title on their profile for everyone to see. Some consideration could — and in my view, should — be given to ending this practice because:

    1. It's been clearly shown to provide amusement and gossip — even public gloating — to others who take pleasure seeing it imposed on others.

    2. It stands in direct contradiction of this sentiment:

    Forum discipline is handled privately.

    3. Because the offending action which places people in timeout is almost always removed, it therefore serves little purpose in making examples of forum members and in reminding others how to follow forum rules.

    The only useful indication that comes to mind from making this status public is the inability to receive and send PMs to those in timeout, but those who might miss their friends would presumably have other way of staying in touch, especially with the proliferation of channels and other forms of networking.

    Questioning some assumptions, is this a big problem? No, but it's worth thinking over. Would its removal be an entirely bad thing? I don't think so... it may even prevent the buildup of resentment on the part of those who may have something to offer down the line.
     
  2. flopticalcube macrumors G4

    flopticalcube

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2006
    Location:
    In the velcro closure of America's Hat
    #2
    I would say keep it as those who expect a response know they won't be getting one for awhile. Members just need to be trained to stop gossiping and speculating on forum discipline but granted that is not as easy as it sounds.
     
  3. Doctor Q Administrator

    Doctor Q

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2002
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #3
    Like most policies, it's there for a reason and is intended to benefit the overall membership.

    There's a tradeoff among three less-than-perfect choices for a user's title when they are temporarily banned:
    1. No change in title. The results: Posts by other users complaining that the user is rude, a hit-and-run troll, a scammer, or some other kind of troublemaker because they didn't reply to posts directed at them, even when they had asked for help, they didn't reply when their opinion was challenged, they didn't reply to PMs about Marketplace deals, etc.

    2. "Banned" title. The results: Posts by other users complaining (or celebrating) that the user was permanently banned, because they don't know it's only temporary. Other users would also send emails and PMs and Contact forms to the administrator and moderators, because they thought a member in time-out had been permanently banned.

    Note: #2 is vBulletin's default user title for a user with a temporary ban.

    3. "In Time-Out". The results: Posts by other users complaining (or celebrating) that the user was temporarily banned.
    #1 has the benefit of better user privacy but #1 and #2 don't do them any favors, since people end up talking about them, calling more attention to their change in status. And #1 gives people a bad impression of them for false reasons. #1 and #2 waste everyone's time and lead to misunderstandings. We switched to #3 because of these very real problems. The problems shown above for #3 occur much less frequently and aren't as serious.

    The "In Time-Out" title was never intended to be a warning to other users.

    #3 isn't as private as would be ideal, but neither is #1. Experience shows that other users notice when a regular user stops posting, so other users know something happened even if the user title doesn't change. #3 gives the bare minimal amount of information and we don't share the details with anyone but the timed-out user. It's a compromise that has served us well to prevent the problem outlined above.

    The title of "In Time-Out" could be some other phrase but it's not clear that it would change the reactions of those who notice user titles and know what they mean. We added the "Guest" user title for cases where a user no longer has an account but has not been banned, to avoid the stigma associated with a banned or timed-out status. It too would have the same meaning no matter what phrase is used.

    We'd rather not see gossip about users in time-out. If you report such posts, the moderators can remove them and this will increase user privacy, particularly because the user title will return to normal after the time-out but the posts will otherwise remain.
     
  4. obeygiant macrumors 68040

    obeygiant

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2002
    Location:
    totally cool
    #4
    I guess if the person in question was being a complete tool, I see no problem with them suffering the mild embarrassment of having the "in time out" badge under their name. Its a wildly inflated ego who can't deal with a time-out title for a short time.
     
  5. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2008
    Location:
    Finland
    #5
    It works as a great warning though. At least I've noticed where the line goes (of course every mod may have a different policy on this but generally) when you get timed-out by following some heated arguments.

    I don't see the gossips as an issue. If someone asks, you can provide him the link to Forum Rules and tell that it's very likely that the guy who got timed-out broke the rules.
     
  6. miles01110 macrumors Core

    miles01110

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2006
    Location:
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
  7. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 3, 2009
    Location:
    Boston
    #7
    I think it should stay,
    first if there was no title communicating his banned/time out status. Then some folks will wonder what happened to him.
    Secondly, those who complained about his/her behavior will not get any direct feedback, causing frustration and further divisiveness
    Thirdly, it can be used as a lesson to others as they'll witness the consequences of negative behavior
     
  8. Arran macrumors 68040

    Arran

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2008
    Location:
    Atlanta, USA
    #8
    Keep it. Nothing wrong with a public flogging flagging for bad behaviour: Keeps the masses in line and helps maintain law and order.

    OTOH, timing-out folks silently (gagging them, with no public recognition) is reminiscent of hapless, Soviet-era dissidents just "disappearing". A tad totalitarian, no?
     
  9. Antares macrumors 68000

    Antares

    #9
    I think it should be kept. It gives a good indicator of the member's status. In fact, I think it should be expanded.

    Now, this may seem a bit extreme...however, what about this? When a member is in "Time-Out," there is also a link to the offending post(s) by that member. That way, we can not only see that they are in "time-out" but also what they posted to get themselves into that status.

    Here's how it would work: The offending posts are deleted from the thread in question, as per normal policy. A moderator moves those offending post(s) to a hidden section of MacRumors, visible only to moderators. Let's call it the, "Evidence" section. When the member is in "time-out," there is an active link to those specific posts stored in the Evidence section. Anyone on MacRumors can click on the link to see those posts (only those specific posts, nothing else).

    When the member did his time and returns to active status in the MacRumors community, the "time-out" designator is removed (along with the link to the offending posts). At this point, there is no record for the general community to see. This member looks like any other member on MacRumors. If this member does something, again, to get himself into a "time-out" status, this process repeats. However, the link to the offending posts would only be to his/her current infraction(s)...not the previous ones.

    The Evidence section could be maintained as a record of every post that had to be deleted by moderators. That way, moderators can easily see all of the previous infractions that any given member had. Kind of like in real life where the police maintain a criminal history report on people.
     
  10. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2008
    Location:
    Finland
    #10
    I like the idea but I think that would be too much extra work for the Mods. I don't see what's the real benefit of that besides the fact that it would put an end to the gossips.

    Also, the time-out may be caused by several posts (e.g. you first get warnings but keep breaking the rules and then you are given a time-out) so that would require even more work.

    I think Mods can already see the infractions we have got in our profile (am I correct?).

    Besides, as Blue Velvet pointed out, "Forum discipline is handled privately". That would be too public IMO. You can always PM the member and ask why did he get timed-out and he can then decide if he wants to tell you or not.
     
  11. dukebound85 macrumors P6

    dukebound85

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2005
    Location:
    5045 feet above sea level
    #11
    How about a user still being able to log in while on timeout but is unable to post. I say this as then you can still have communication from the offending user to the mods via pm (maybe restrict pm to just to mods during this time) vs using the contact us form which requires one to fill out a form to address an issue
     
  12. Doctor Q Administrator

    Doctor Q

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2002
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #12
    We do keep a record of whatever they did wrong and we review any time-out that is appealed, reversing the time-out (and restoring the user title) if we decide that the moderators shouldn't have assigned a time-out. If that happens, it's unfortunate that their user title showed a time-out status at all, but moderation mistakes are rare so it's not much of an issue. And sometimes time-outs are reduced to shorter time-outs or warnings, rather than reversed, so the user isn't wholly innocent, just less guilty.

    It might be possible to do this with vBulletin but it hasn't been necessary since timed-out users can already read the site without posting (by logging out) and they can send us Contact messages outside the forums. Letting them use PMs to talk to other users might be a benefit for users who have Marketplace deals pending, but it's probably good that users who were given a time-out for insulting other users aren't able to send PMs to the people they were flaming. They get a mandatory "cool down" period instead.
     

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