[Moderation Policy Update] – Revamping Warnings

from the moderation team.

With the launch of our front page, we’re now two full years into No Goblins Allowed. It’s been a heck of a ride for all of us, especially the moderation team. We’ve had mods come and go, and the need for moderation activity has waxed and waned over time; sometimes weeks have gone by without a single reported post, while other times we’ve had a dozen reports over the course of a single weekend. Through all of that, though, there’s been one constant: the moderation policy laid out in our Code of Conduct. Unless you count the brief period before we actually had it written, but maybe the less said about that time, the better.

But should that really be the case? Did we really get moderation policy absolutely perfect the first time? Well, with two years of experience with it under our belt, I can fairly confidently say, “Of course not.” And after looking at the hard numbers, we’ve decided that some tweaking is in order to better reflect the reality of moderation at NGA. This isn’t going to be a major overhaul, because honestly, most of what we have is just the way we want it. But what is going to change is Section 8 of the Code of Conduct, the one labelled ‘Discipline and Procedures’.

To start, let me share a statistic with you. Over the entire history of NGA, the moderation team has issued a grand total of approximately 100 formal “hard warnings” across all users. (This doesn’t include spambots; we’ve outright banned a few metric tons of those.) The number’s fuzzy because not all of the warnings in the system are “real”–some were only issued for testing and training purposes, and some are duplicates issued to MuPs of a single user. I’ve tried to cut those out, but I might have missed some.) Digging into that number, of the individual users who have received warnings, the vast majority of them have received at most two, meaning under our current discipline and procedure policy these users have either been issued no further penalty or a single dayban from the site. There is a small number of users who have received three warnings and been issued a second dayban from the site, an even smaller number who have received four warnings and thus a full-week ban, and absolutely none who have received five, though there are some who have received six and the accompanying permanent ban from the site.

Looking at the list of users who’ve reached six warnings and permaban status, I don’t see a single one that came as much of a surprise. Every single one of them was a serial offender that we knew, well in advance, would almost certainly hit six warnings at some point unless they underwent drastic changes in their posting style. For the overwhelming majority of users, two warnings–a single dayban–was enough of a deterrent that they either left the site of their own accord or corrected their posting habits enough to allow them to continue posting. To us on the moderation staff, this information says that our current threshold of six warnings for a permaban can be lowered, allowing us to get rid of true problem users significantly faster without negatively impacting anyone else.

Looking at the numbers, our best option seems to be to collapse the redundant penalties in our current system, leaving the permaban threshold at four warnings. In this new world, our penalty system will be as follows:

  • First Warning – PM/Email, exactly the same as the current system.
  • Second Warning – One-day ban from the site, exactly the same as the current system.
  • Third Warning – One-week ban from the site, the same as the fourth warning under the current system.
  • Fourth Warning – Permaban

What does this mean for users who already have warnings under the current system? When considering grandfathered warnings from the old system, we will look at the penalty that user’s next warning would have brought under the old system, then consider them to be at whatever point would garner them that same penalty under the new system. So a user whose next formal Warning under the old system would net them a week ban (three or four warnings extant) is considered to have two warnings extant under the new system–their next Warning still nets them a week ban.

These changes to the discipline and penalty procedures are going into effect immediately as of this post going live; the Code of Conduct proper will be edited to suit within the week. If you’d like to comment on these changes to our policies, the response thread for this article can be found in the metaboard. Please let us know what you think. (Do YOU like it? Why/Why Not?)


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