All right, so ranting probably isn’t the best content I could put on here, but ah well, I need an outlet for this. I’m a Management member at Invisionize, an Invision Power Board resource site. As part of my job, I have to deal with misbehaving members. Well, recently, there have been two in particular that have gotten on my nerves. No need to name names, but the members in question seem to think they can go around the forums and chatroom and say anything they want, without consequence. Now, normally I’m laid back- I’m all for giving people a second chance, and may a third or fourth chance. However, the reoccuring behavior of these members have changed my view a bit. It’s become clear to me that unless we show them that such behavior won’t be tolerated, that they’ll continue misbehaving. However, even force may not make any improvement with these members.
Currently, one of them is in the mod queue, meaning his posts have to be reviewed by a moderator before appearing on the site. Well, that didn’t seem to give him a hint, since he is still being sarcastic in his first post after the mod queue was activated. This member has also been banned from the IRC network by myself for rudeness to staff. This is his second time in less than a month! Last time it was for verbal sexual harassment to a gay member. The scary part is that he used to be a staff member on the site! However, after he left us for another site, and then came back a short time later, his personality completely different.
I’ve said a lot about one of the members, but the other has a laundry list of things going against him. It’s not so much an infracting, but he used to continually annoy me asking to be on staff. In addition, he’s spammed and verbally attacked other members. These days, most of his infractions tend to involve the use of inappropriate avatars and signatures, the avatar infraction he’s done twice now. He’s also no better than the first member in our chatroom.
Now, I’m not looking for suggestions as what to do with these two, or pushing to know why they’re not banned yet. Like I said, I’m laid back in my moderation style, as are the rest of the staff, to a point. On the other hand, any of you who think banning seems like a prime option are right. These two are certainly close enough.
Click the “Read More” link to see the other two installments of Troublemakers at Invisionize
Troublemakers at Invisionize, Part 2
You may remember that in Part 1 I chronicled the battles that me and my fellow IZE staff have had against a particularly persistent troublemaker. It is worthy to note that this member is not the first person that we’ve had that continually commits ban evading. They are in fact almost nose-to-nose with another member that has probably evaded ban more than the first one. So, ultimately the question is, “what can we do about this problem.”
IPB itself features many tools to take care of problem members. First and foremost, we have the Warn Panel which allows us to keep track of the troublemakers. Next, we can put a person in the mod queue. And then finally we can suspend them for a certain amount of time or for an indefinite period. However, these are what I’ll call Escalation Measures. What I mean by this is the punishment level rises each time the member commits an act that is against the rules. It is similar to being in school, breaking a rule, and getting warned. The next time you break the rules, you might get sent to the Principal’s office, and so forth. However, there may end up being a time where you just want to be rid of the member once and for all.
We can ban their username so that they will no longer be able to use it. This may work for people who give up after the first try, but I think Matt calls it “Reserved Usernames” for a reason: so that it is made more difficult for new users to impersonate a staff member or whoever else you want to stop from being impersonated. Therefore, banning a username is more of a preventative measure rather than a punitive measure.
Going up to the next level of banning we see that we can ban an email address, or part of one and then use a wildcard. This is a little more useful than banning a username, because it then means a person cannot register another account with the same email address. On the other hand, with the plethora of email services out there, you can only go so far, unless you want to alienate a good chunk of your current and potential users. And a persistent troublemaker might just register a new username using one of these free services.
The last level of banning with IPB brings up to IP Address banning. This is by far the most effect method of banning so far, but even it has limitations. Much of the internet’s users are still on dynamic IPs, meaning that next time they log-on, the ban will potentially be lifted. “But, wait!” you say. We can make a part of the IP Address a wilcard (n.n.n.* compared to n.n.n.n). Ok, I agree, that is possible. Since IP Addresses in a way act like a real address – pinpointing a computer’s location on the internet – we can instruct the banning tool to ban a part of the address, and thus, a part of the internet. Yet again, doing this can only work for so long until you begin to alienate your members. If you wilcard an IP address to far, it is possible to ban a large chunk of the internet from your messageboard. That’s not good! In the end, IP Address banning is only really effective for those who have a static IP address, and not many people do.
So, what can be done to oust the members we don’t want welcomed anymore? In the short but otherwise productive commentary after the last segment of this article, a possible solution was discussed. What if evey computer had an unchangable unique ID that could be forwarded to internet? Site administrators could then ban this ID when they wanted to see the end of a troublemaker. It seems like a possible solution has been found, but even it appears to have some problems. How would this ID be forwarded to the internet? Some sort of encryption? I think it would have to be properly encoded so that it could not be tampered with during transmission. In any case, I think this idea might be pretty good. Then again, it may never see the day of light if privacy advocates stop it.
So, has a way to be rid of rotten members finally been found? Possibly. In any case, there is no fool-proof way of getting rid of a troublemaker short of an email or call to their ISP. Even then they could find a new ISP (although if they want broadband still, those choices tend to be limited to geographical location and whoever has the monopoly there). While there may be no way to be rid of the most troublesome people on the internet, better ways of banning most troublemakers appear to finally be coming to light.
Troublemakers at Invisionize, Part 1
Why is it that so many people must take time out of their day to cause trouble? At Invisionize, the troublemaker:member ratio appears to me to be rising, but maybe I’m just paranoid. But, whatever the case, troublemakers like to rear their ugly faces and cause a problem for me and the rest of the IZE Team.
For example, one member currently occupying most of our “Rapsheet” discussion originally was warned for going off-topic in several posts. I don’t think this is being too harsh, as we have a rule that all posts and topics must be constructive. The original rapsheet was created more than a year ago.
We talked with him and he made a promise to be nice and caring and stuff. Fair enough, right? Apparently this person likes to lie, as he continued giving us problems. First it was spamming other members with a link to his site (one with illegal things no less). After he was warned yet again, the problem faded away for a few months.
Come April, 2004. This member has made a new nick and is PM spamming people again. So, we’ve warned him twice so far with the internal agreement that he will be mod queued at the next infraction. He’s now at 100% warning, so we should mod queue him, yes? Well, since we’re so sweet and nice and caring and stuff, we let him off only with a warning again, but agree to ban him next time. And just to tack on something, this person apparently was doing bad things here @ IPS as well. The customers might know who I’m talking about. Think about end of April, 2004.
At the end of May, he has a signature violation, so now he’s on his 8th violation or so. By this time, we’re fed up, so we ban him. But, since most of his violations haven’t been so bad, we unban him but suspend for 5 days. After unsuspension, he continues to commit violations, so finally we ban him indefinitely. Problem resolved, case closed, right? Not exactly. He starts trying evade the ban by creating new accounts. Again and again we’re going on a wild goose chase, looking out for new accounts that might be him and banning them as they come along.
As of December 25th, 2004 (more than a year and a month since he first started causing problems), we’re starting to get really angry, so we decided to contact his ISP next time. December 28th..you’ve guessed it, another account made.