I used to wonder what the purpose of ignore was. Then I got to the point with a certain user where I could not resist his trolling - I felt I had to respond to his idiotic remarks every time he posted. At that point I realized ignore, for me, wasn’t so I didn’t have to hear his ranting and raving, it was so I wasn’t tempted to respond to his baiting.
I think the poll is slightly flawed in the gap between lots and rarely. I would be interested in seeing a different poll, “is the ignore feature necessary, or would I be happy visiting this forum if it did not have ignore?”
The two concepts we’re discussing, though, should be considered separately.
Yes, the are trouble users that should be identified and somehow dealt with. If someone is consistently reported for trolling, either the system needs to take care of that automatically (their posts are lighter than other posts, for instance, encouraging people to skim them) or they need moderator action.
However, there are situations where two users simply rub each other the wrong way. The phrasing one uses just makes the other user’s skin crawl because they can’t overcome their assumptions and take the posts at face value. Whatever the reason, these two users will clash and clash again over semantic issues, baseless assumptions, and personal history with each other, where if they never read each others posts they’d be great contributors.
So there is a compelling need for ignore beyond the simple “some users are bad”.
It may not be necessary for the initial release, however I don’t believe it is something that people will be willing to forego for very long.
Note that the above is something I wrote many months ago right after I had started muting this individual. I recently unmuted them and have since had no issues. Looking back on things I note that I went through an experience I didn’t realize was having such a negative impact on me, and it was likely that nothing about this user had changed, but I could no longer handle them due to changes in my own life. The mute actually enabled me to continue to come to the forum, wheres I was seriously considering leaving it. That would have been bad, though, as, again, looking back that forum provided a tremendous amount of support to me during that difficult time.
The reason I suspect the survey is so skewed is because the feature is not advertised. Every time it’s brought up in forums I’ve participated in a number of users are obviously surprised that such a feature even exists, and more than once has it caused a discussion about the merits and ethics of such a feature.
I believe that well-implemented such a feature could actually result in a happier forum, but it would have to be, to some degree, advertised or more frequently suggested as a solution for some moderation issues. In fact it would be interesting to give some thought to using it as a tool of moderation. Rather than a ban, block the two problem users form each other for a period of time and see if that cools things down. Not applicable to most moderation activities, but I can see certain situations where we wouldn’t have to lose users because of bad blood.
Mute may not be a first class feature, however I don’t believe it should be low on the priority list, particularly since it touches so much on the whole system. It should be tackled early.