There’s a pattern I’ve noticed which I personally feel is unfortunate and counterproductive. This is not GD but links will reluctantly be dredged up on protracted and insistent request.
a) Poster X goes over the line, in any of a dozen possible ways, and gets a warning from a moderator. Maybe more than once.
b) Later on, Poster X is banned for a lesser infraction, not merely one that would have caused unwarned Poster Y to received a warning (but not a banning), but one that would not normally have even drawn a warning.
c) The reaction threads and posts: “Why was Poster X banned?” / “Gee Poster X’s fatal post didn’t look so banworthy to me” / “I see the shoeprints of jackboots” / “Will they come for me next for saying “oh fooey”?”
d) Administrator Z explains that Poster X, having been warned, perhaps repeatedly, was on thin ice and should’ve been really really extra-careful not to skate so close to the line, and therefore what would’ve been a lesser infraction for someone else constituted a fatal post for Poster X who should’ve seen it coming.
I think this is strategically and administatively not the way to go. I believe that a banning offense should be an offense that would provoke a warning for any poster who made it and who had not been previously warned.
If I were setting up procedures, I’d have the mods and admins discuss the conduct w/o reference to who engaged in it, and while chances are good that some if not all of them would know who, and would know the poster’s history, I’d have the team enshrine the concept that the behavior is to be judged with blindness for who engaged in it and only then consider who did it and what their prior posting (and warning) history has been. Kind of like the American court systems enshrining “a person is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt” – separating behavior from actor should officially be part of the initial discussion process.
(For all I know, that is how you do it, I’m not claiming otherwise, mind you. However, if such is the case, be advised that it is not at all apparent that such is the case. If such is the case, I advise saying so, explicitly.).
I think that within our community it would generate for the board admins and mods more perceived legitimacy and therefore more cooperation and less of a background smounder of attitudes held among posters that bannings are capriciously arbitrary or unduly motivated by “they just didn’t like Poster X, held a grudge against Poster X for that argument back in January, and were just looking for an opportunity to ban”. Even the perennial “they banned Poster X 'cuz they don’t like Poster X’s politics or attitudes towards Sacred Cow Issue #5” would find less soil to flourish in.
Standard disclaimers: thanks for doing a difficult job so well, glad the board is here and I’m happy to play by your rules, there’s a lot of chaff and worse things here to wade through and jackboots sometimes make the best waders, thanks for keeping the troll quotient and chaff-to-wheat ratio so low, this is my humble and unsolicited opinion.