How do you deal with top ignored users in your forum?

We have some annoying users in our forum, more than 100 users ignore or mute them. They often post some off-topic or strange content. But there are other users think that these loudspeakers only have a unique way to express ideas. We are worried about the moderation issue.


Are they breaking rules? If not, then you haven’t any issues and users may or may not ignore them.

But from my point of view you can’t do somekind popularity contest who can who cannot be there. Well, of course you can, but is it wise move is different thing.


100 ignores is a signal that someone is not appropriately engaging with the community and there is an antisocial pattern of behaviour. I recently dealt with a similar issue where one person would consistently derail topics and would repeatedly engage in bad faith arguments. It was never anything bannable but over time I received so many complaints that this individual was damaging their experience of participating on the forum.

So I would say, yes you definitely can make it a popularity contest of who can or can not stay. Or rather, someone extremely unpopular is probably engaging in some kind of behavior that is not compatible with “civil discussion”. And that should be addressed.

In my case I started with DM warnings about the type of behavior causing issues. “Don’t derail every conversation, avoid baiting other users”. It continued, so I escalated the punishment. Temporary suspension for 3 days. It was still a problem so I finally indefinitely silenced them. A person who is overall a net negative contributor to your forum should not be prioritized


Is it? Out of 1000 users? Or if there is same amount of users who disagree that problematic attitude?

Exacly my point, but minority is not that body that defines value.

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If the OP feels they need to seek external advice on how to deal with a person, then there is a problem. 100 ignores is another massive symptom of a problem.

At a certain point the moderation team needs to either live with the problem or address it. The right choice depends on the context of the forum in question.


Simply causing work for moderators is a cost - causing disproportionate work makes someone a bad member. What are they doing wrong? Causing too much work (or stress) for moderators. The mental health of mods, and their workload, is a critical part of a good community.


And yet there is only two problems and neither are that one user:

  • unnecessary use of SQL query to find out what some users are doing with tools they should use
  • willingness to bypass all other users who are just fine
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By OP that did not happend. It is matter of what users are doing. And that is free of charge :smirk:

But there is two options:

  • let it be as it is and some are hiding an user and some thinks everything is just fine
  • throw that user out and then one part of users are happy, even they don’t see any changes

That is matter of admins, not users. A forum is never a democracy.


Thank you all for the sincere advice.
Actually, some of them did break the rules. I will reach out to the ignored users in our forum directly, and ask them to stop sending annoying content.
Popularity contest is unacceptable in moderation, I hope our mod will overcome the difficulties.


We pay close attention to the top ignored users. If they aren’t breaking guidelines but are just…annoying to many users, our mods reach out via DM and engage in discussion with them about how their behavior impacts other users and offer ways to take a different approach. As a first step, we do not use an official warning - just a one on one conversation. If their ignore rate goes higher, then we escalate with an official warning, then start to lower trust levels, eventually locking them at trust level 0 for a while. But, all of this is done incrementally and with clear communication to the user.

But - if the user is unwilling to engage or becomes combative about it, we have escalated more quickly.

It has been working well for us. Ignore rates are going down over time, and the discussions have been far more generative. Page views and mau/dau are all up, too.

It is more labor for moderators, but we are a nationwide member-run, member-led org aligned on shared values - so our forum is members only and we don’t ban anyone (the forum is the only communications platform across the org), so it’s in our collective best interest to elevate discussion if we are all gonna be a part of it. (though we do silence users in the most egregious cases)

I think my response would be different if it was a product support forum, though!

edited to add:

If there are 100 people who sought out the ignore feature on a user so they could continue participating, it is assured that there are more users than that 100 who find the behavior annoying - and many of them are likely to see an annoying poster and just stop participating and find a new place to have discussion. Some may be annoyed but not know about mute/ignore, some are willing to put up with it for a little while, but they’ll both just slowly drift away if the problem isn’t dealt with.


I feel I should add: there’s a spectrum of possible cultures for forums. At one end, anything goes, and at the other end, high expectations for post quality, where quality might mean thoughtfulness, respectfulness, truthfulness, and being on-topic.

It’s important that moderators know and apply the appropriate expectations when moderating. I can imagine a moderator who is mis-calibrated for higher discipline than the forum accepts will be doing more moderation than they should. To some extent the users will calibrate themselves - too little discipline for their taste and they will leave. But ideally there’s some visible policy which informs both users and mods.

But it certainly can be a great relief, to users and moderators both, when a user who acts in a disruptive way is banned. I am thinking of a case where the user got a series of ever-longer temporary bans, until after several years he got a permanent ban. Mods expressed relief. He’d posted some 2000 times, and would post in a high proportion of discussions, often with sarcasm or dismissive commentary, often with a smiley. After the ban, he went elsewhere: he has posted on that other forum some 3000 times, some 10% of total posts and nearly twice as many as the 2nd top poster.


I know I keep banging this same drum, but as a community manager or owner, it is your responsibility to look after the wellbeing of the collective whole. If a small number of people put that at risk, manage their behaviour or kick them out. As Jakke says, a community is not a democracy. You can choose who stays and who goes.


That can help to do outreach to folks who are posting/sending to the extent that 100+ other members have muted them, wow that seems very excessive.

The official warning system can be good as an alert to emphasize importance of message, also you can make an official statement like “You must reduce commenting activitiy by at least 10% within a week, or else we will temporarily silence or suspend your account.”

Can be difficult to understand if people are trying to communicate anything important or just being bothersome for no clear reason. If possible to talk over the phone or repsond to commenting in a presentation that can be better than talking in just written text.

Hope things cool down with that, or if not probably banning people that are being too disruptive will help. Good luck with the diplomacy!!


Yeah, absolutely open a dialogue, give them a warning, and kick them out if needed.

You’re running the equivalent of a party/conference/festival, not a democracy/nation state. You can and should remove people that show unwanted behaviour, even if it isn’t against any specifically stated rules.

Yes, warn them first and sure, maybe add the specific behaviour to your Code of Conduct. But nearly all CoCs that I’ve seen have some sort of catch-all clause and that is for good reason.


Coming in a bit late. I’ve got a wildly diverse community with a few people that like to think that guidelines interfere with their First Amendment Rights.

Questions to ask yourself…

Are you/moderators dealing with posts that do not follow guidelines, especially if they’re flagged. If not, you’re basically allowing this behavior. For me,

  • I hide the post if it’s not too bad. This gives them the opportunity to fix it.
  • I delete the post if it’s egregious - personal attacks, name calling, swearing, politics, etc.
  • Depending on the member, I may or may not PM them. Most know our guidelines and I highlight them a few times a year (buttons at the top of the forum).
  • If they repost the same or worse, then I suspend for 1 day with a message to not circumvent moderator actions.
  • If they keep doing the same thing, I increase the suspensions - 1d, 3d, 1w, 2w, 1mo. Usually they quit after the second suspension.

Do you need to update your guidelines? I recently had to do that and I posted them at the top of our forums with a button for all to see.

Are the moderators following the guidelines. Sometimes you’ve got to be the “tough teacher” and lay down the rules and dole out some repercussions.

I liken forum moderation to trying to control a class of about 60 kindergarteners on the first day of school.


If someone is being ignored by 100 users, i think the other replies are generally sound here.

I think for the general question or case in the title, there might be several reasons people might be behaving antagonistically that’s not in a way that immediately or clearly warrants their content being flagged or them being suspended, but still rubbing badly against others in some way BUT also while the person still genuinely wants to participate in the community.

I think generally in communities (for product-based communities), there is sometimes some natural friction between users who absolutely love a product and others who really like some aspects but have some other major problems with it but still want to participate in the community.

The people who 110% love the product can sometimes perceive those who want to criticise aspects of the product in-depth as overly negative, even if it is genuine constructive criticism.

Having participated in and observed and moderated online communities, the most antagonism comes out from certain people (and myself) often when a product’s update and general direction sharply divides people who are fans of the product. This can pretty much rupture the community in some cases. You can see this with The Last of Us (TLOU) on reddit, with the sequel game TLOU2 having divided the fans into two very antagonistic camps with two separate sub-reddits for fans of the same series, split along their opinions/attitudes towards the second game. I’ve seen this a little bit for Sonic games too, but most personally clearly was for Auxy (a mobile music-making app).

And another case is for the game Sky: Children of the Light where people who 110% love the game often brush aside most negative feedback from being brought up, even when it is constructive, legitimate and helpful – and they even make justifications on the parts of the developers about things they don’t really know. (Again it is often when the direction of the game changed significantly to be more focused on commercialisation.) Community members repress negative & constructive feedback even when we, as students in game design class as i was a few years ago, would have given that kind of feedback to each other. And in fact, from what i noticed, often it was actually preventing bugs from being properly reported because community members just kept basically forcing each other to “encourage positivity” and cut the developers some slack when bugs came up.

I do agree that if someone is getting to a point where they’re not being constructive and their behaviour is destructive, then asking them to take a break via suspension or suspending as appropriate is warranted. Ive seen this happen before and people have come back more thoughtful and engaged.

But in the longer-term, i think the thing that actually helps the most (which i took as a lesson from observing Auxy and Sky) is having a community be open to BOTH those who 110% love a product and others who may like 70% of it but really have issues with another 30% of it. This is what i tried to model and balance on our Discourse forum when i was working at Hopscotch. When people reported bugs, often i acknowledged how frustrating it was and apologised to them for the specific inconveniences it caused, and thanked them for reporting it – before i or we fixed the bugs. This is setting expectations that it’s ok to be frustrated by the product, it’s ok to talk about it, and for bugs it says these things shouldn’t happen, and of course we appreciate people reporting them and talking about them. When people also expressed frustration for any other parts of the product similarly, i’d also try to make space for that like i did with bugs, rather than immediately jumping to the defense of the company or whatnot (which i’ve seen MANY moderators for other communities do even when they don’t work at the company). People don’t have to always 100% like your product 100% of the time to be participating in the community. Sometimes people love a product and then they grow out of it and move onto other ones, but still want to check in. (This is common for apps like Hopscotch and Auxy which are more useful for beginners in a particular discipline)

I’ve seen people before in our community and others who were very helpful informationally, then quite vocally but reasonably critical of many aspects of a product during a certain stage, return back to actively providing a helpful and informational role in the community after a core concern that had made them angry (like to a point of losing faith in the product) be addressed. I’m not saying that you have to change a product to appease every concern that everyone has. But in terms of long-term, i think that making the community a place where everyone can comfortably express dissent as well as love actually goes a long way, on this topic of users who are on borderline. Sometimes artificial enforced positivity brings out a lot more negativity and defiance from some people when they’re trying to write a critique than otherwise would happen. (How do i know? Because i also know what it’s like to be those people)


That is well written, indeed. If there is a community forum with 1,000 people who are mostly all super positive focused all the time, if one person tries to mention about some kind of a problem they are experiencing, it could just be 100 people immediately think they are just some negative complainer and will mute them without a second thought.

Then all of a sudden this person notices many people don’t seem to be reading or responding to what they report to the group, so they may become upset about that and/or more expressive in the way they write such that things escalate unnecessarily into more of a nonsensical and fallacious argument.