Banned user status: visible Vs. invisible

Community Building Asked by Dave White on January 1, 2022

When certain users are banned, some online communities do not display their banned status, while others do.

What I am not referring to

  • I am not referring to the visibility of the banned user from the banned user’s point of view
  • I am not referring to shadow or ghost banning, where it is not immediately clear to the banned user that they are, in fact, banned
  • I am not referring to the banned user’s content either

I am referring just to the fact that, for some communities, these users’ banned status is visible to the rest of the community, and for other communities it is not.

Any best practices?

Aside from technological choices or limitations, is there any well-established rationale for either choice?

Running a Google search returns mostly non-relevant results.

One Answer

I can't help but wondering if this question was inspired by this recent question on Meta Stack Exchange: Why are current user suspensions visible to other users?

I'll rephrase my answer from there because I think the reasons (for the ban to be publicly visible) apply on other communities too:

  • Deterrence; when you're reminded now and then that bans are real, you'll be more inclined to follow the rules.
  • Transparency; it's good that you can see that a user whose suspicious behaviour you've reported to the moderators/site owners serve their deserved penalty.
    • The community/system might have other ways to report this back to you.
  • Preventing confusion; yes, a one-week ban is almost indistinguishable from a one-week vacation, but it's still strange to see a user not responding to your posts / comments / chat messages when 1) their profile says they've been online in the last hour, or when 2) they were seemingly very interested in the discussion. This will only lead to speculation.
    • An option here which helps for 1) but not for 2) would be to not update any 'last visible' indicator in the profile.

An argument against showing the ban would be that nothing on the Internet can be permanently deleted; if somebody saves a banned user's profile in the Wayback Machine or other archiving sites it's going to take quite some work to remove it.

Answered by Glorfindel on January 1, 2022

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