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Preamble

I have experienced several suspensions in some community, in none of which I was warned by the moderators before being suspended although I received a useless mandatory moderator message after a suspension; it seems that some moderators are too busy to communicate with users (Talking about the reasons of my suspensions is off-topic here; however, please note that the truth can be very different from what we imagine).

Why should a user be suspended? A user is suspended (theoretically) to learn how he/she should behave in a community and improve his/her past behavior. Now, when such a goal can be fulfilled by a simple warning, why should some severe disciplinary action be needed while "the ideal moderator does as little as possible - that’s the true art of moderation"?

Suggestion

I think it is not a terrible idea that the moderators of this community should have private communication with a user before any kind of suspension giving a required warning about consequences of continuation of an unacceptable behavior.

Advantages

If this suggestion is implemented, then

  • the number of suspensions will be reduced considerably,
  • unacceptable behaviors will dwindle due to the constructive approach of handling them,
  • a good picture of moderation will be created in users' minds,
  • A user changing his/her behavior due to a moderator warning will not experience negative consequences of suspension like not allowing to nominate for a moderator election for one year, ...,
  • ... .
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    $\begingroup$ "A user is suspended (theoretically) to learn how he/she should behave in a community ....". A suspension also protects the other members of the community, and the community as a whole, from the actions of a user who is misbehaving. $\endgroup$ Jul 3 at 18:20
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For the most part we agree with this and this is how we operate, warning then suspension. (I note that you talk about "some" community, not this one.)

There can be exceptions to this:

One is if there is some immediate harm caused we might suspend right away. For example, if a user is vandalizing posts at a high rate we just will "pull the plug" and not wait and see if we can convince them to stop doing that and in the meantime have another fifty posts vandalized.

Another are egregious cases, for example, think of a user that posts clearly racist content.

Finally, another aspect is what precisely is a warning. Often we use moderator-messages as warning. But if there already was a lot of conversation with a user about a certain problem in comments or in chat, then we might consider that as sufficient warning.

But indeed usually we do warn beforehand. There is no strict rule as there are some exceptions and to define all the exceptions would be complicated.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for your answer. I am glad to know that the moderators of this community acts in such a way. However, let me have some feedback on your answer: (i) when I was writing the OP, I thought of such extreme situations you described, and I wanted to exclude them as an exception; however, I concluded there is a simple solution: You do not need to "convince" such a user; you only need to inform them of consequences of their behavior. Sending a (already-prepared) private message does not take much time, and when you see that the user continues their behavior, after a short while ... $\endgroup$
    – Later
    Jul 3 at 10:52
  • $\begingroup$ (less than some minutes) from the private communication you can suspend them. (ii) Conversational comments and chat may not be considered as a serious formal warning from the moderator team. I think repeating a warning just for one time through a private communication should not be a very difficult task, right? $\endgroup$
    – Later
    Jul 3 at 10:58
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    $\begingroup$ If a user is mass-editing in rapid speed they might not see the warning. I suppose I could send a warning and suspend on the next edit past that one, but in practical terms that most of the time will change little. In any case it is a rare scenario. $\endgroup$
    – quid Mod
    Jul 3 at 11:28
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    $\begingroup$ For the other scenario, if a new accounts posts a post containing the line "All {insert some category] should be killed!!!!" ten times, then it is a save assumption that not productive debate is possible. In any case not much is lost by removing a void account. If this should happen from a regular account we likely will also suspend right away. It is a possible scenario that accounts get compromised in one way or the other. To block further actions in such a case can even protect the legitimate owner of the account. $\endgroup$
    – quid Mod
    Jul 3 at 11:32
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    $\begingroup$ Fyr: a recent mass vandalism that i am awared of edit contents at around 10 second per post. $\endgroup$ Jul 3 at 11:39
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    $\begingroup$ So, it appears that, with respect to suspensions, the moderators here do what any reasonable person would expect them to do. Unless you can provide examples of the contrary (as opposed to hypotheticals), @Later, I suggest we can consider the matter closed. $\endgroup$ Jul 3 at 13:19

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