The Grand Delusion

I have been thinking about this entry for awhile. I was reminded of it by a related entry by Chris.

I run some successful Internet communities. I have been doing this for years now and I think I am pretty good at it. It’s all about making fair decisions, standing your ground and dealing with people.

I have to ban users. Sometimes. I give people a chance – usually, many of them. It all depends on the severity of the violation. All of my communities have User Guidelines. When someone violates these, we warn them. If they do it again, we warn them. Maybe several more times, if the violations are not terribly offensive or spread out over a span of time.

It is not uncommon for someone to be banned after disagreeing with a policy of mine. This is where The Grand Delusion comes in. The people who get banned under these circumstances are the people who don’t know how to handle themselves, how to speak respectfully and not get personal. They disagree with my policy, but they take it to another level – they get personally nasty, disrespectful and they are out of line.

If they do it enough and they go far enough out of line – they are banned. When they get banned, most of them have a similar thought process. “Patrick banned me because I disagreed with him” or “Patrick wanted to silence my disagreement”.

This is so far from the truth. I don’t care if people disagree with me. That has nothing to do with it. If you are nasty and disrespectful without regard to our User Guidelines, staff or users – you will be banned. If you are nasty and disrespectful without regard to our User Guidelines, staff or users AND you disagree with me – you will be banned. I don’t distinguish. It is not if you disagree, it is how you disagree.

If someone believes that I banned them because they disagreed with me, they are deluded – this is The Grand Delusion.

Patrick O'Keefe

Managing online communities since 2000, I publish a collective of websites known as the iFroggy Network. I wrote the book Managing Online Forums and, as a public speaker, have presented for organizations like CNN, institutions like Australian National University and conferences like SXSW. More about me.



about 17 years ago

Yeah, this is a trend I see as well. People seem to take it so personally.

I was wondering, from a technical aspect, how do you mange your bans? I know most of the forum software allows for IP banning, but I've found it nearly 100% useless. Most of the troublesome users come from several IP's, some of which are AOL proxies and such. Do you use a technical solution, or do you simply look out for suspicous behavior (that's how we do it), or some other means? I've been meaning to ask you and others how they handle bans.



about 17 years ago

Well, IP bans sometimes work, but you are right - it is rare. We ban by the username, of course and we keep a look out for suspicious behavior, coincidences, etc. I don't allow people to get away with having a new username if I am pretty sure that it is them. It may take time, but people generally slip up at one point or another.


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