Help with a ban, and a feature suggestion
I have been a reader and commenter at Engadget for most of its 10 year history, and since the LiveFyre change have commented more than 5,000 times.
That history, and this experience, leads to my suggestion:
In an effort to make the comments a more civil place and to avoid a loss of readership I propose a different approach to just outright banning people when they cross the line, and that approach is communication.
Would it be possible to notify a commenter when they have been banned? And in that notification include the reason for the ban, the content of the post(s) that caused it, and the duration?
This could be helpful with deleted comments too, but probably impractical.
Help the commenters you have become better commenters. Give them examples when they cross the line. Show them respect and they will likely reciprocate that respect to you and the site. No one wants to end a long relationship with animosity, even if that relationship was with a blog (weird as it sounds).
On a self-serving but practical note it might not be a bad idea to take tenure into consideration when handling issues. A person with 5,000+ comments is more likely to be having an off day than someone with a new account.
A little customer service (and some constructive criticism) could go a long way.
As a general rule, we do not contact banned users and it's not something I'm going to change amongst our mod team. I do appreciate your feedback though, but there's a few reasons that I have this policy -- it's mostly related to workload and the amount of users / comments that we have:
- We have pretty clear community guidelines and a zero strike policy. If someone is violating them, I'm going to toss them.
- Interestingly, I actually ban a lot of people each day. Mostly for being one-off accounts someone registered to troll a particular brand, insult another user, or post some pretty nasty content. Emailing these users would mean that we acknowledge them (which gives them validation for their attention seeking behavior) and alert them that they've been banned, which would enable them to potentially create a new account and start trolling again.
- Similarly, I delete a lot of comments from Engadget each day. Like literally hundreds of comments. They're mostly the same sort of stuff I mentioned above. Trolls, foul mouthed people, and those who are just being jerks. It would just be insanely prohibitive from a productivity standpoint to email each person we've deleted comments from.
Right now, the best way for this communication to happen is that the person who feels they have been wrongly banned contacts us either through the forums, email, or our contact page. It's not totally ideal, but at the same time someone who simply registered accounts to troll isn't going to take the time to contact us. I'm generally happy to investigate the issue and usually give people some additional chances to make things right.
Anyway, I'll take a look at this issue and send you an email shortly.
EDIT: words, man. words.
Thing is, we are not always wrongly banned exactly. Sometimes we are rightly banned and just need some time to cool off from a back and forth discussion that might have gotten out of hand. I know I am pretty far from perfect in this regard and sometimes emotions can get the better of us.
It can still be frustrating when LiveFyre seems designed to mask the ban so there is no feedback that it happened, and it can take a while to realize that what looks like more LiveFyre issues is actually a ban. There is also no feedback on duration, if we were just placed on a "time out" it would be nice to know.
But I completely understand if that is impractical.
Now I find myself in the same situation again. Only this time I am not going to try to pursue it. We are fortunate to have a number of technology sites that have a good active community, and I find I am drawn to the ones that allow me to participate in the discussion. That is not what I get here any more, so I just don't visit that often. And, of course, I no longer even try to contribute (given that without anyone telling me, I am actually wasting my time - a bit underhand in my opinion).
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