"If you want to know why ____ was banned, PM or Email a mod." Why?

This is something I’ve always found slightly irritating.
I’m fine if the Mods don’t want to be proactive and post a thread for every single poster who gets banned. Especially the Newbies. But if a poster asks vis a vis ATMB, why can’t the mod just answer the question and then lock the thread?

Unless there is some sort of qualifier that only allows certain people to be privy to such information, it just doesn’t make sense to me.

TPTB have said they don’t want trolls/socks/previously banned any publicity as they feel it encourages them.

I could understand this position if the thread were left open. But trolls getting their jollies off of a two post thread?
Well, I guess there would be a potential for a lot of snark before a Mod got around to answering such a thread. But still, the Mods are usually pretty quick to answer ATMB threads (Save the “No more Admins?” thread.), I just don’t see how it encourages them.

Almost always, if the answer isn’t immediately obvious, the person was either a spammer or a sock puppet.

The real reason is that the mods are lonely and want some mail.


If a poster has been banned and there is no announcement, 99.9 percent of the time (I might even be willing to go out on a limb and say 100 percent) it’s because it’s either a spammer, sock, or very, very obvious troll.

So that’s the universal answer right there and that’s probably always going to be the answer. So when the next time comes and someone is wondering about it enough to open a topic and ask, the answer is above.

Rather than just copy and paste that message (or the link to this one) over and over ad nauseam, we just close and say “PM a mod”.

Is saying “that was a good egg sock” too much trouble or too much attention for the sockist?

It takes no more effort to PM or email a mod than to post a thread about it. So if you’re curious, go ahead and do so.

Yeah but isn’t it more work on your end? Instead of answering six different emails about so-n-so, wouldn’t it be easier to just answer the thread once?

615 people have viewed my thread, because it apparently wasn’t obvious to them:
Why was Themis00 Banned?

So read Themis00 posting history and threads
and cite the

  1. The spam she posted
  2. How her posts were very obvious trolls
  3. If she was a sock, doesn’t it surprise you that it took over 11 years for Straight Dope moderators to notice it (she joined in 2002)

It’s possible she created a recent sock and both were banned, the other without fanfare.

People view threads for any number of reasons. I very much doubt you’re correctly guessing the motive of everyone who viewed the thread.

Themis last posted in 2004 and started posting again on Jan 6th, 2014.
I will say again (as I did in my earlier post in here):
If you do not see a thread about it then it’s it’s pretty much because it’s a troll, sock, or spammer.

We’re saying the answer right now and we’re saying that’s usually always the answer…so it should be a given that it’s one of those in every future reference.
If it’s not obvious or known to anyone, though, then we ask for people to message us rather than start a topic about it.

You can disagree with that obviously, but that doesn’t change how we’ll still want people to message us rather than make a new topic.

In short, I think it’s a very small thing to debate about, although YMMV and that is just my opinion (as a poster).[/poster]

Only when no thread currently exists. If the rules were changed as proposed, only 1 person would have to exert any effort in creating the thread, whereas anyone else who were curious would have to exert none.

So yes, effort would be saved

Is it against the rules to ask a moderator and then share the answer in public?

I can see why you wouldn’t bother noting the banning of spammers, or of 0-post sock accounts, because nobody is going to miss those enough to wonder about them. I dunno how it would hurt to have a list of bans over the course of the year for Trolls and Sock Accounts though. If they’re trolls, they clearly weren’t obvious enough for everybody to tell, and if they’re posters with sock account, it’d be good to see some tiniest shred of justification so people don’t say “Huh, why was she banned? I hope that doesn’t happen to me.”

The thread was titled “Why was X banned?” had one reply, by a moderator, and was closed. Nobody was reading the thread because they had something to say about it, and I sincerely hope nobody clicks on threads because they want to be told “We won’t say. If you want the answer, ask in private.” I’m having a hard time imagining why else someone would view the thread.

No it’s not, which makes the whole “PM a Moderator” seem more dubious.

First, let’s note that most bannings (by a huge majority) are a single-post spammer, and no one ever asks questions about them. There’s no reason for us to post anything, and there’s almost never an email/PM question.

Second-most bannings are obvious trolls or returning socks. The obvious trolls, we don’t want to give them publicity. These are people who thrive on (“get their jollies from”) attention, even negative attention (clearly), so we don’t want to feed them by having threads about them or posts about them. Most posters are well aware of the troll-ness, so we rarely get more than a couple of PM/email inquiries. It may indeed require more work to answer email/PM inquiries, but we think that’s better than “encouraging” them by having threads about them.

The final situation are socks – people with multiple accounts. [ASIDE: if someone innocently created multiple accounts, we’re very forgiving once they understand our policy.] There are usually two types of socks:
(a) people who create multiple accounts to agree or argue with themselves. This is just trolling, and see above.
(b) people who were banned and are trying to sneak back in. If someone was banned for misbehavior and then creates a sock to try to get back in, we have no sympathy whatsoever. Sometimes we do announce these, but usually we (again) want them NOT to have publicity.

If someone is banned who has posted for a while, we usually do provide public notice. We generally don’t want discussion, because the person is banned and can’t defend themselves, so we think that discussion would be unfair.

While it’s not explicitly against the rules for someone to PM a moderator and then post the answer, it is counter to policy. We think the policy is a good one, for all the reasons listed above, and we would rather not have to deal with people violating the policy (on the grounds that it’s not technically in the rules.)

Does that explain more fully?

Thanks CK.

An over all good policy. I agree that the Mods shouldn’t be bothered to make an announcement for every single banning. But I think where we disagree is, if somebody bothers to ask via the ATMB, I honestly don’t see what the harm is in answering the inquiry right there in the thread. I personally don’t really care if some no name dude is getting his jollies reading a two post thread about himself.
But anyway, thanks for your response. This isn’t an issue I’m going to lose any sleep over or anything.


All right, I can see your reasoning but I don’t agree with it. I think there’s an easy way to do the same things while satisfying people’s curiosity.

One-post spammers aren’t an issue, there’s no reason anyone would have to wonder why they were banned.

For trolls, socks, and long-term posters, have a locked thread in ATMB, sticky or not, that has a list of all posters (other than one-post spammers) banned in the current calender year. Have a list of trolls and a list of socks with associated accounts. When a long-time poster gets banned for other reasons, make the thread you normally would, then post the poster’s name and a link to that thread in the banlist thread. Might as well make all the names in the list link to their accounts so people can see for themselves.

Regarding trolls, I honestly don’t think it matters whether you “fall into their cunning trap” or not, so long as you stop them from disrupting the boards. In my opinion, causing speculation to spin out of control is a lot more disruptive than adding a name to a list and leaving it at that. If adding a name to a list gives the troll a lot of satisfaction, so be it, it doesn’t affect us any.

As for socks, the same reasoning applies as for trolls, plus the connection between the accounts is a lot harder to see for normal users. If we’re told the connection then it should be easy enough to go “yeah, he’s posting just like that banned guy” or “yeah, all of her posts are in agreement with this dumb gal as if that’d bolster her argument.”
Granted, this is a small issue in the big scheme of things, but it keeps coming up so it clearly is causing some problems.

No. Hardly anyone seems interested enough to bother asking in private. I’ve received exactly two queries about the reasons for an unannounced banning in the past year (for two different posters). At this point, almost everyone who has been around for any length of time understands that an unannounced banning means a spammer, sock, or troll.

Except if we allowed such threads, there would be many more of them, which would be more work.

The present system minimizes attention to trolls and socks, while also not costing us much time. Anyone sufficiently interested can still get an answer with minimal effort on their part.

Are you sure? I thought it was this:

…so very lonely…