Moderation idea: Badge of shame

On our forum we block in two levels these trolls. We write it in our Social Rules.
If someone violate these rules, first we silent them for 3 days and if they continue these behavior second we ban from the forum. These two level banning system works for us.

With this you will not solve the problem because the post still available. Instead of this you just simply write in the Social Rules: If you violate these guidelines we delete post without any notice. And silent the user for x days.

Yes, absolutely!


It’s better to keep such things private. We use the User Notes plugin to share experiences about such users internally.


I guess this is not a good idea. Labeling and making them visible to others. If the user doesn’t understand, he should be limited, but why flaunt him in a bad light in front of other community members. As stated above, this can cause even worse behavior. Nobody will like it when they put such a label on it.

Sometimes I saw on the sites there is even a “wall of shame” where the guilty are placed. IMHO, very bad idea.


We use user notes, and have a good sense of who the trouble makers are and why, but improving the behaviour of those members is the real challenge.

Perhaps improvement isn’t possible and we should just get tougher and move towards suspensions and bans.

One thing about keeping things too private is that other members don’t particularly see the hard work of the moderators, or bad behaviours being picked up. I think our mod team does a great job, and they are all volunteers. But much of the messaging and effort is ‘behind the scenes’ so can look like we don’t do enough.

Of course the other side of the coin is over-moderation…

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Oh yeah the great wall of shame… I think this is a totally useless and disgusting thing. If the user is problematic why still in the community?
Otherwise this is not good for anything else just dishonor and shame those people. It’s a really bad practice. No one has the right to do that.


Whether it’s a good idea is a separate question, but of course they have the “right” to do it. If a person behaves shamefully, it’s perfectly appropriate to shame that person.


I think it’s a very tempting idea and of course you have the right to do it. People who refuse to play by the rules deserve what they get! However… I fear it would, as others have suggested, be counterproductive. You might even get some idiots wearing it as a badge of pride :slight_smile:


This was one of our three, core rules from Day One; for this reason and beyond—it helps keep ME (Admin) from slipping into the madness, too.

Rule 1: No A-holes. Everyone here is cool.
Rule 2: No religion or politics. We’re all gearheads here.
Rule 3: Time well-spent. Waste your own time—not others’.

We’ve even gone so far as to tell people we’ll boot them if we see them being a-holes elsewhere, because we don’t want our community associated with that kind of behavior in any way.

I like the idea of a warning badge, maybe only visible to the user (automated PM, maybe?), but I think creating automated badges would lead to people gaming the system “for the lulz”. Sounds like more work for me.

Here’s to the good, contributing members!


Why not just use the official warning (I assume you did for the user in question in the first quote) instead of a badge? Don’t make someone feel sheepish because they made you annoyed or they will treat it like that and chances are that it will irritate them and it will turn into another situation so maybe don’t do that?

Some good solid rules there though :smiley:


We haven’t had to enforce it yet. (We’re less than 2 years old and still very small.)

Possibly helpful? Our onboarding process sets expectations and looks like this:

  • tl0 has severely limited access
    – read-only in the Rules of Engagement category
    – post/reply permission in the Lobby & Help Desk category
  • tl1 is unlocked when tl0s:
    – spend 15 minutes reading topics (presumably, the Rules)
    – make an introduction post in the Lobby

I should probably revisit this to make sure they have to create a topic to be promoted, but it’s worked well so far. No issues. No concerns, really.

Nice little bonus, when we find ourselves needing to clarify things about the rules, a moderator/admin will reply to that rule’s topic and link to the “precedent”. To date, we’ve qualified the religion rule a bit to confirm our devout members are welcome to reference their faiths and even share resources hosted by their churches so long as neither of those things are proselytizing or judgmental.

All of the above ensures all new members share the same experience, and can see how we collectively determine how the rules are applied in our community.

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Not a fan of this, and I agree with what @ondrej said.

It is a good idea to keep things private, with moderators and not everyone in the website. The moderation actions exist for a reason. Think about it for a second, would you like it if you were in the badge of shame? It’s like a game where if you do something that people don’t like you get banned instantly, with no warning, so people would fear the role, and as a consequence, not wanting to be in the community.

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So it’s pretty clear this is a Bad Idea.

I should clarify that the intent was to grant the badge just to those niggling members that gently corrode discussion and don’t respond to warnings, or who post good stuff but then put in the digs, snarks and political comments every so often, just taking things of topic or irritating others.

The perception of how this badge of shame may look, or be interpreted, is just as important as it’s function though. And here, even among a crowd of Discourse efforts, the idea is viewed very negatively. So I can imagine how unwelcome it would be in the forum itself where many will have no appreciation of the efforts to moderate!


We created a proper category for exactly these kind of posts, because we also see members that are mostly contributing to the discussion, but at times corrode and take an entire conversation off-topic by the way they verbalize their opinion. It has aspects of shaming this behavior, but I feel it really helps in engaging the community to self-moderate better.

So if we see a conversation going off the rails, moderators can move not only the contentious post, but all it’s replies to this dedicated category. We communicate that we will move replies (even if they are perfectly civil) to both clear the original topic for it’s proper conversation again and to allow the discussion of the contentious post to continue in the other category.

On the screenshot below I split 9 posts. I also had an explanatory comment accompanying this split. After some time we remove both the comment and the hide the split notification altogether. We name the new topic just with a timestamp:

The category then looks like this. Only mods can open new topics in it and we keep the topics open for discussion until the last comment is 1 month old. Then they auto-close. We keep these topics from showing up in the general queue of posts with the Hide category from Latest plugin:

Screenshot from 2021-02-13 09-40-26

So this setup requires some attention by moderators. But we had it 6 months running now and moved things 3 times and I have the impression it really helps to tackle this kind of corrosive posting by otherwise helpful members, because they are just a bit shamed while also having to defend their posts not only against mods, but against all other members that are motivated to argue about it.


So you created a gallery of shame by another means? Do any of the shamed stick around? Or have you simply achieved harmony by creating an echo chamber devoid of those who disagree?


Haha, yes one left. But if you care about the gallery impression, you could just remove the topics after a certain time, instead of closing them. The focus is not on shaming, but two important objectives for us:

  • enable contentious discussion to play out, without disrupting the general conversation
  • be very clear that we encourage disagreeing opinions, but don’t give a platform for being rude or offensive. If some people feel that’s too harmonious, they indeed have to look for other communities.

I think it is possible to do this in a “funny” way but you’d have to handle it just right. The odds of it going wrong are… high. Better to stick with the excellent advice of the many posts above mine!


Also true IRL – always praise in public and criticize in private. Better for both you and for the person being evaluated.


apologies for the necro lads.

On our forum we created some badges for the purpose of flagging known trolls which you can never fully ban, they just pop up elsewhere but also for things like, does not read, combative, etc. the badges were marked as not visible to the public…or so we thought, perhaps we’re doing it wrong - obviously…

Show badge on the public badges page - NOT ENABLED

So to my surprise when the troll and other public users can see these mod only tag badges… have i completely missed the purpose of that check box on the badge config page?

I will nonetheless install the notes plugin but the badge solution is optimal if we can have private mod only non public badges. We’re doing it this way because its far easier to identify your trolls and mark them as such then it is to continually look at new sign ups and cross reference various datapoints in the hopes of identifying new old trolls.

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That setting only hides it from the page listing all the badges, for example: Badges are always announced to the recipient because it’s an award system – so there’s not a way to make certain badges only visible to admins.

The user notes plugin is indeed the way to go!

Would banning their IP work, or do you think they’d be angry/savvy enough to workaround it with a VPN?


IP and fingerprinting is ineffective between ISP and PC local privacy tools. We’ve become accustomed to evaluating terminology and phrasing to identify trolls - a remarkably good solution.

BADGE solution…bummer. but it is what it is and off to user notes we go I suppose. Thanks for the clarification around the effect / purpose of that option. :+1: