My 5-step approach to dealing with problem users

Ok, even though I don’t own a discourse site yet, I’ve decided to create a “5 step approach to keeping a civilized community”! You can follow these rules and modify them in any sort of way you want (like switching the order)!

  1. Nudge a user- The first moderation action that should be taken is to nudge a user (sending them a PM reminding them of their behavior). When nudging a user, you should mention that if the user doesn’t change his/her behavior, an official staff warning will be issued!
  2. Issue an official staff warning- If a user is acting up after initial contact, an official staff warning should be issued! This will show with a red envelope to mark it as an official staff warning! In the official staff warning, you should mention the potential consequences that may occur if a user fails to change his/her behavior.
  3. Silence or suspend the user- If the user fails to change their behavior after initial contact and an official staff warning, your next bet is to silence or suspend the user! Now, the choice is up to you, however, the main thing you should consider when deciding whether to silence or suspend a user is the severity of the user’s offense or offenses! For example, if a user is doing something mild like using excessive profanities, you should silence a user in that case! However, if it’s a more severe offense you might want to consider suspending the user, rather than just silencing them!
  4. Suspend the user or lengthen the suspension time- If a user is still acting up (even after initial contact, an official staff warning, and a silence or suspension), you should then suspend the user! If the user has been previously suspended, you can choose if you wish to give them a second chance (however with a longer suspension time) or choose to permanently suspend them from your community! If you choose to suspend the user (either way), you should let them know that this is their last chance and another offense will result in a permanent suspension! Please note that when suspending a user, the length of the suspension should be considered wisely! Please consider the following factors when suspending a user
  • If the user has been previously suspended
  • The severity of the user’s offense or offenses
  • The frequency of the offenses (how often they are being performed)
  1. Permanently suspend the user- If a user is acting up after the steps above have been followed, you should then just permanently suspend the user (as they clearly have no intention of changing their behavior at this point)!

Note: Some of the formattings from the original document have been removed (to save time)! You can find the document with full formatting at

Note: Permissions to view, print, download, and copy have been disabled!

1 Like

It seems you put the main focus on policing users. In my experience a nurturing approach is much more central for building and keeping a community civil. Here’s five checks for community managers as recommend by Avinash Raghava and David Spinks:

:white_check_mark: Help people
:white_check_mark: Build with a larger goal
:white_check_mark: Make meaningful connections
:white_check_mark: Be honest
:white_check_mark: Be the first to apologize


I do that, just if someone breaks the rules then the steps are followed! However, if someone doesn’t break the rules we won’t have problems!

1 Like

Maybe you should change the title of this topic to something more like
My 5-step approach to dealing with problem users.

I agree with @Nolo that your topic is more on the policing side. But what Nolo suggests is a proactive plan to help keep things from escalating to the point where policing is necessary.
I like his last two items - be honest and be the first to apologize. Even I have messed one once (or more :roll_eyes:) and had to do that. Most often it works, but with one user it wouldn’t have made any difference how many times I apologized nor what I tried to say to smooth things over. That one user was hell bent on irrational behavior - like bringing up old disagreements that had long been settled. :man_shrugging:


Those five steps are fine from the policing angle, but that’s reactive, and you should think about being proactive. I try to help educate people to the rules, so they can understand the community standards, and help others to learn them in turn. This might fall under the “nudging” step, but I also make polite public comments that everyone can read and understand (I don’t publicly embarrass anyone). This usually solves the immediate problem, and goes a long way to prevent future problems.

My general goal is to reduce the need for moderation. It requires some effort up front, but pays off in the long run.


I am unable to do that (as I was just unsuspended and the amount of time since the post was created is too long)!