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Publicly Displaying Suspensions. Thoughts?

michaelmadcat profile image Michael Tharrington ・1 min read

Currently on dev.to, we don't provide any indication on a user's profile when they've been suspended. We chose not to indicate suspensions because we've generally felt that disciplinary actions should be taken privately.

However, this is problematic because:

A) Often when a user is suspended, it's because of a behavioral issue that another user reported. We'll generally follow up with the reporter letting them know that we are "looking into your report and will take appropriate action." We keep the follow up somewhat vague for privacy concerns too. One issue with this approach is that the reporter can't visibly see that we have taken any action on another user's account, which may make the reporter doubt that we've taken any action.

B) Sometimes a suspended user gets reported by multiple people well after they've already been suspended. These folks have no indication to tell them that the user was already reported, so we end up fielding duplicate requests for something that we've already taken care of.

I can see pros and cons to both methods. And while DEV has chosen not to display when users are suspended, I could understand other Forem instances wanting the option to display suspensions.

What do you all think? Are there other potential solutions to this issue? Do you have a preference between publicly displaying suspensions vs. keeping statuses related to disciplinary actions private?

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Michael Tharrington

@michaelmadcat

I'm here to have a good time helping folks build communities on Forem. I also really like music!

Discussion

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Maybe this is something we should be able to display on a case by case basis, even maybe optionally for the admin?

... Like, the reason we don't typically do this is that we don't want to further embarrass someone who has already been punished because for a lot of situations we don't want to be shy about the action, but if there is grey area we don't want to inflict extra social damage.

... However, when the user has inflicted substantial harm or if the issue is extra public, we may want to do display a message, even something a little vague, like...

mod notice: this account is restricted based on community standards violations

... Could this be something we optionally display on a profile? DEV doesn't want to do this, in general, but we've encountered situations where it would have been appropriate. What if we allow this functionality and then offer it up (with guidelines about how it may not always be appropriate) to other forems as well?

 

I echo @ben in approaching this on a case-by-case basis. There may be scenarios where someone gets reported for something harmful they've done, but if they've been able to learn from that, then it may feel bad to have their "record" or "scorecard" be made public for everyone to see and judge.

However, there is the other use case of someone causing harm intentionally and not shifting their behavior or mindset, even with multiple confrontations and cycles of feedback. I think if the goal is to give "indication [...] that the user was already reported", there are a few possible treatments & framing we can try, such as displaying the message that Ben suggested.

 

Maybe for a week or so. If it was a hot topic, it will give people a chance to see officially that the user was suspended without the site having to make an official announcement. Beyond that, people can change and don't deserve a suspended page forever tied with their username. When we permanently suspend an account at Webwide.io it is visible as a suspended account for a short period until it is purged entirely from the system.

 

Very curious to hear folks' thoughts on this! 👀 👀 👀