In June I made a post titled “A Few Good Forum Ideas” where I first mentioned the idea of putting a jail on the Gearbox Forums. I said I would discuss the results of the jail if we actually implemented it – and we did.
I’ll jump straight to the point – the jail, or “Ban Bin” as we call it, is very successful.
How it works…
Previously, when a forum user broke the rules, the user was banned. If the violation was small, the user was banned for 24 hours. If it was large or a repeat offence, the user was banned indefinitely. This created a problem; when users were banned, they received no direct feedback on why and were not given a chance to dispute the punishment. As a result, many of the users created new accounts. Furthermore, these users were often disgruntled and their behaviour was worse than before. The net result of our previous form of punishment was an overall increase in negativity on the forum.
Now, when a user breaks the rules, the user is confined to the Ban Bin forum. In that forum, the user will immediately find a new thread with the user’s screen name in the subject line. In the first post of the thread, the user will find a post from a forum moderator that clearly states what the user’s violation was. The user is free to post any comments to this thread.
The forum moderators keep a close eye on the ban bin, responding attentively to any posts a jailed user makes. If a jailed user shows adequate improvement in attitude, the user is allowed back into the community. If the jailed user continues to disrespect the forum rules, the user is banned from the forums. It takes a vote from at least two forum moderators to make a decision.
A master thread tracks when users are jailed. The last time I checked the thread, only two users had been jailed twice, and none more than twice.
Why it works…
The Ban Bin provides the offending user with ample attention. This is opposite of a ban, where the offending user is ignored. Often times, an offending user was not trying to create problems, but is merely upset over a social issue on the forums. The Ban Bin technique allows forum moderators to directly address these problems, instead of ignoring them. As a result, a rehabilitated user develops a closer bond with the forum moderators, strengthening the community as a whole.
Often times, a user falls in the Ban Bin for something as innocent as being unaware of the rule he or she broke. This type of case usually has a quick turn around. On occasion, the offending user simply needed time to vent frustration and cool off. Rarely is a user a completely lost cause – although it does happen and they do get banned.
The Ban Bin greatly reduces the number of fake accounts being created on the forums. This significantly reduces the amount of work involved in policing the forums. Thus, while giving offending users direct attention requires a bit of extra effort, the net result is less work for the mods.
The Ban Bin is ultimately less work with positive results.