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Regarding "Personality" bans.

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ANN Publisher & CEO

Joined: 29 Dec 2001
Posts: 9183
Location: Do not message me for support.
PostPosted: Tue Aug 06, 2013 9:30 am Reply with quote
Quite some time ago we (ANN's management, specifically Zac Bertschy and myself), agreed that we needed to do something about the atmosphere in the forum. We were concerned that the forum was being ruined for many by a few onerous individuals.

These individuals knew and understood our rules. They took advantage of the basic policy that "Any opinion is acceptable on this forum, as long as it is politely expressed." They knew we had specific triggers that would result in people being banned, and they knew they could get away with being complete dicks provided they didn't "cross the line." So while they technically weren't breaking too many rules, they were still ruining the forum for a lot of people.

We decided that we would start banning these people from the forums, even if they didn't break any rules. A small number of people have been banned as a result, including two people banned yesterday. These people were not banned for the opinions they expressed in those threads (other people expressed more distasteful opinions (IMHO) and were not banned). They were banned because they constantly antagonize other members of this community. They were banned because we get multiple complaints about them every week.

In some cases, these people are trolls. They intentionally go out of their way to aggravate people and start fights, all the while not breaking any black and white rules (such as "no swearing.") In other cases, these people are just socially inept, or completely forget how to be civil once they are on the Internet. They may have no malicious intent, but they are consistently rude and offensive, and while they temper themselves to avoid "breaking the rules," it doesn't change the fact that they are complete dicks. In both cases, we don't want them here.

There is a golden rule on ANN. Be civil, be nice. If people regularly break that rule, but no other, they will still be banned.

Regarding bans, please let me point out that there is no appeal process. I have faith in ANN's staff and moderators that, when they ban someone, that person deserved to be banned. In most cases, people who are banned had it coming for a long time. So the straw that breaks the camel's back (ie: the post that gets them banned) might be relatively minor, but the pattern of behaviour was consistent and deserving of a ban. I will not second guess our staff and moderators. If someone is banned, that's it.

Back to the "freedom of speech" issue. Sometimes it will appear that someone has been banned for expressing disagreeable opinions. I am personally very bothered about this because it is extremely important to me that any relevant opinion can be expressed on ANN as long as it is done so politely. It's unfortunate when someone is banned right after they disagree with a staff member, I know how it looks, but please understand that the disagreement was not the cause of the ban. Internally, we'll look into ways to make this process a little less questionable in the future.

Christopher Macdonald
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