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I agree so much with Dori's answer in this thread that I thought it was worth making it into a thread of its own. There has been a string of off-topic and low-quality questions (and, to a lower extent, answers) from user vgv8, that many users have expressed annoyance (whether in comments, on meta, or on the chat). I think there is a consensus that this is damaging the friendliness of the site by the tensions it has created.

Quoting Dori, the facts and questions that this situation raises are:

What I know:

  • He doesn't understand why his questions aren't welcome.
  • He's no stranger to suspensions (and also).
  • His actions are driving others away from this site.

What I don't know:

  • Why on earth moderators spend so much time closing and/or deleting his questions, when there's a much simpler, more overall-community-friendly, and less time-consuming alternative?
  • If anyone sees signs that things might be improving (or at least that the situation won't worsen), such that it makes sense to continue to have patience?

What I would like to know is:

  • Have mods tried to contact him directly?
  • Has the possibility of a temporary ban been discussed, if only to allow him to cool down and think about the scope and boundaries of the site?
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    I edited the title -- we prefer to talk about topics, not individual users... – Jeff Atwood Feb 20 '11 at 21:56
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I propose suspension. The main damage done to this website is the wrong impression a new user gets when he stumbles upon a closed question asked by this guy: he will think "huh, why do people here react so harshly to a question I might have asked myself?". The way we deal with a single question is influenced by the historical behaviour of its asker, not solely by its content; but the newcomer has no access to this history.

I have seen several questions of his closed that were actually not so bad; that is, they would never have been closed if they had been asked by someone else. Psmears agreed in so far that he called several of those "borderline". While understandable, this is not the way to go. I am for a strict separation of criticism about content and disciplinary action―at least whenever possible. This way it feels impure, unfair; in addition, it does not encourage change or repentance, but instead gives the miscreant an excuse to call us unjust, which may be picked up too by newcomers.

If I, having had some experience on EL&U, am also affected by the mechanism of stumbling-upon I have outlined above, then how can we expect random visitors to understand or sympathise? If we just suspend this guy, it will be easier for everyone, including himself. He has had ample warning. I have seen the same thing happen when I moderated elsewhere. If he gets suspended, that doesn't mean that he is a worthless or immoral person―just that he does not fit in with this website. Kosmonaut has my blessing.

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    +1. Absolutely agreed with everything you say here, but especially “separation of criticism about content and disciplinary action”. And Kosmonaut (or another mod) has my support too for a suspension. I think that would be much fairer — to vgv8 and others — and healthier for the site than the status quo of many borderline/reasonable posts getting downvoted and closed, and many questions/answers/discussions getting deleted. – PLL Feb 20 '11 at 18:47
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    Thanks folks. I have talked with the other mods and hopefully something should happen soon. – Kosmonaut Feb 20 '11 at 19:38
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    For the record: the account was suspended today (Feb. 21, 2011) for 7 days. – F'x Feb 21 '11 at 16:19
  • @FX_ good to know... serenity restored. – Benjol Feb 22 '11 at 11:17
  • What is next step after suspension? Do the user's posts (both Q & A) get deleted from the site? – ukayer Feb 23 '11 at 4:37
  • @ukayer: there is no automatic deletion of posts. Just like before the suspension, some questions might be closed by vote or mod action, and answers and comments might be flagged as inappropriate. – F'x Mar 6 '11 at 8:01
  • For the record: vgv8 is now suspended till Dec 3 '13. – F'x Mar 9 '11 at 8:42
  • Should the way you deal with a single question be influenced by the historical behaviour of its asker? – D W Apr 7 '11 at 16:02
7

I can't speak for every mod, but for me personally, the big problem is being in the midst of the moderator election. I am the only mod hoping to stay on for the next term, and I had been hoping that this could be the first big thing we could take care of (assuming I am still there).

It's a very tough situation because I don't want to overstep what is reasonable. This guy has a history of causing problems, but nonetheless, I am a beta-mod now and I want to be very careful about actions I take that have permanent consequences on the site. People have already complained recently about me even simply closing one of his questions, and not because it was too light, but because it was too aggressive!

I don't want to go too hard and look like a fascist, and I also don't want to approach it too lightly and have the guy retaliate or something else that I didn't anticipate.

Believe me... this has been on my mind! Any thoughts are welcomed.

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    All 3 answers, and all comment from users other than smithco in the thread about closing the question, have given answers similar in tone, if not content: people don't think there was anything wrong with your actions in this case. – F'x Feb 20 '11 at 16:26
  • FWIW, I realise that most of my motivation for asking this question was probably generated by this user. In that respect, I think 'not scaring away experts or new users' definitely takes priority. – Benjol Feb 21 '11 at 8:59
  • Elections are passed, you are modded, the suspension has finished, nothing has improved... Please could you guys follow through with this? – Benjol Mar 9 '11 at 6:13

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