User forced to leave after heated discussion

Hello Meta members,
I want to request some community help here. To describe it, I’ll make a rough sketch of the situation.

User A: Accidentally posts solution (TL1)

User B: Abruptly reprimands the user with no constructive feedback (TL3)

User C: Teams up with user B, and uses his TL3 power to harass User A

User D: Tries to back up User A, but his low trust level does not have a voice. (TL1)

User B + C: Harasses user A more and more.

Me: Makes a post about being civilized. Probably solved. (TL4, Moderator)


It ends like that. But because of this situation, User A had sent me a PM that he cannot publicly participate in the forum because he is afraid that the same thing might happen again.


Things to know: User B and C had done the same thing many times before. So this is not their first time. I do not know what actions I should take against those two? Any ideas?

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You say the offending users have done this kind of thing many times before — have they been reprimanded (some kind of clear warning from mods) on any of these previous occasions?

If so you might escalate to a one-week suspension with notice that if it continues after that they may be permanently banned. If they have not yet been formally warned, probably a good idea to start with an official warning explaining why this kind of thing is not okay and that if it continues you’ll escalate further.

It can be tricky if there’s a borderline case where the reply causes offense unintentionally due to tone or something, e.g. if you think their critique was justified yet poorly expressed…but as you used the word “harass” that makes me think it’s pretty clear cut bad behavior? In that case I think it’s probably helpful to have a policy to point to of how you deal with rule breaking / behavior issues…could be a sort of three strikes rule (escalating from warning to temporary suspension to permanent ban) or similar.

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Yup, talk to them. Explain that there is no place for that behaviour in your community. Give them a chance to acknowledge and refrain. If it happens again, suspend. One more, ban.

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Yes. But they never learn. And, they’re kinda scary when you give them warnings, they start acting wild again. But thanks @bts, and @HAWK. I’ll keep that in mind next time. Maybe I was a bit too nice to them.

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I’d go straight to formal warning then. If someone is scary/threatening then they shouldn’t be there. Sometimes you have to bite the bullet, as horrible as that can be.

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Ya, maybe I’ll just go hard on them. I haven’t suspended many users yet, so I dunno how I should handle these “tricky” situations.

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Yeah, it’s a really unpleasant thing to have to do but your duty is to the rest of the community (and the organisation that pays the cheques).

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Yeah, that’s true. Imagine a big forum without moderators. That’s chaos!

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Thank you EVERYONE who had helped me resolve this conflict. After the formal warning, User C had apologized for hurting a user, and stated that he will not repeat the same action again. User B, he’s still being tricky to me, but it seems close to resolved now. :slight_smile:

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If someone abuses TL3 privileges, you can’t let them keep them. At least lock them to TL2 if you won’t ban them. Our community guidelines state that clearly intentional abuse of the software in any way to harass a fellow user or the forum in general results in a long if not permanent ban.

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I agree with this 100%. They’re called “trust levels” for a reason, and if a TL3 user abuses that trust, they don’t belong in TL3.

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That’s an interesting “story” @Chaboi_3000
Could you please post a link to it ? So that I can see the context and the details (privately if you want).

Funny thing is that this is exactly what I’m planning to do (on principle, being against bans), and your message is now giving me second thoughts…

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You’re saying harass “many times before”.

Suspend the pair of them for 14 days, or permanently - obviously. If it’s the first time anyone’s spoken to the pair of them, discipline or replace whoever was supposed to. Sometimes people conflate the ostensibly neutral position of moderating with being soft. People are harassing someone in a sustained manner “as a neutral fact”, suspend them as a neutral response.

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Thanks for the suggestions!
I’ve had a conversation with them about how they can be more open towards opinions. It’s fully resolved now. :slight_smile:

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I don’t use any of those techniques. I usually take preventative measures. For example, I might step in (the discussion) and add my own post in which I rephrase a comment in a less abrasive more positive tone and angle and ask the person if i understood their intent correctly. (Active listening technique (communication techniques) In other cases, I might summarize the points that were brought up and remark that from that point on, i fear it could go downhill and ask if we could keep it at that. I don’t close the thread. For situations where someone starts policing others interventions or “educate” them, I send a pm. In the community rules I have stated that hashing other people comments is not acceptable (quoting phrase by phrase to argument) as it inevitably turns sour and causes polarizing. I also stated that there’s one police on board and that’s me lol. I hope i never have to use my veto.

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A poll is not a good idea here, I have removed it.

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We’ve lucked out that our community is pretty convivial, but we have a couple of users who tend to flare up and like to scream “censorship” when we step in with a public staff-color message.

We haven’t yet had to use Discourse’s moderation functions too extensively yet so I’m personally a little reluctant to hit the button. Most of our moderation has been accomplished smoothly through PMs so far. Ideally, I would like to avoid spending time personally editing a user’s message too extensively - “putting words in their mouth” - though I have done a “hide details” fold labeled “hidden by Mod”.

I had a TL3 user flag and auto-hide my moderation once (hilariously; he’s reporting my own message to me and the moderators. What I did was disagree with his flag, then as a mod/admin I flagged his “you can’t stop me” message as a user would which auto-hides it counting like 3 flags. The auto PM that goes to him (unless I’m unclear, hopefully someone can verify) reads that the community flags hid his message, and all he needs to do is edit it, optimally to correct it for civility, which will un-hide it again. This would seem to automatically handle the situation without further interaction so long as they agree. I’d assume an initial flag by staff allows the user to edit without going directly to “this must have staff review” though this has never happened yet for us.

I would think just hitting flag as staff is preferable than having to go around and sand the corners off messages manually, though that likely depends on the volume of your forum traffic.

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I might not have been clear. I do NOT edit the post. I add a comment to the thread in which I use the active listening technique called reformulation.

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Good deal, I prefer that too. Our users in the past say they favor seeing us publicly comment why posted content is against the rules rather than just outright deleting it and pretending it never happened. I also really find the “staff color” function useful so staff can participate in discussion normally, but it’s absolutely clear when the mod-hat is on and we aren’t kidding!

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I have not figured out/noticed that functionality