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wax eagle pointed out to me that question-banning is likely turned off on RPG.SE, since it's off by default and has to be turned on by a mod. The reasoning is apparently that on smaller sites such problem users will be handled personally by mods before a question ban would ever kick in.

I see no reason for this setting to ever be turned off, because in any given case:

  1. either mods will step in before it would trigger, making the "on" or "off" setting irrelevant for that case, or
  2. the site's users' voting behaviour will meet the difficult-to-reach threshold for a question ban before the mods step in, in which case it would be really justified.

The only effect that having it "off" would have is a question-banning not happening despite it being really justified. Yes, mods probably would/should take care of it once it was so clearly justified, but why not turn it on anyway then and have that backup?

  • The role of moderators is to step in when the system can't take care of a problem itself, and question-banning is clearly something that the system can take care of by itself.
  • It would also free the mods up from having to take direct action against a user personally, which can be ironically harder on a small, close-knit SE like this one. Let the impersonal algorithm take care of the well-meaning but hopelessly-incompetent askers.
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    \$\begingroup\$ What specific problem are we having that this change would address? \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk says reinstate Monica Nov 4 '14 at 19:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ @mxyzplk That it's very useful and there are no downsides, to the point where it's baffling that "off" is the default. Specifically, being turned "on" means that a key part of my reasoning behind "we need not try an intervention that risks turning out toxic" here is actually true. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Nov 4 '14 at 19:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ I am not entirely sure this would be worthwhile. A post would need a lot of downvotes (which bad questions on Stack Overflow would have no trouble getting, and a small SE like Role-playing Games would). It would have to be something that already autobans (spam) anyways to be worthwhile \$\endgroup\$ – Tritium21 Nov 4 '14 at 19:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, I tend to think we're small enough and the mods responsive enough that we can and would rather handle it by person rather than have it magically happening by algorithm potentially out of our sight. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk says reinstate Monica Nov 4 '14 at 19:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ @mxyzplk That last comment's reasoning sounds like a decent answer. The algorithm is far from trigger-happy, but "out of our sight" is a downside I hadn't thought of. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Nov 4 '14 at 19:17
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I tend to think we're small enough and the mods responsive enough that we can and would rather handle it by person rather than have it magically happening by algorithm potentially out of our sight. It's not a common problem on our site so I'm not worried about the demand getting away from us, it also allows more coaching than the system generally provides.

Right now people who show up and post actively-bad questions (spam, nonsense, etc.) we just up and burninate. We do sometimes have people who are of good faith but are just somewhat incoherent or have some underlying problems that their questions are just floating on top of. The former, I don't mind banning but I'd rather work with them. The latter, I don't think is really ban-worthy, even if people start hatin' on their questions. In either case, I'd rather handle it as a mod than have the system do stuff to our users that I don't know about - the traceability is frankly kinda bad anyway and I am often wondering if there's inappropriate stuff going on I can't easily see (edit harassment or other stuff from moderate rep users).

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At some point this was either turned on for RPG.se, or became a network-wide default, judging by the activation of automatic answer-bans on various user accounts I've seen since being a mod.

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