Thanks for Banning Me

By Sarah Hawk

“thanks for banning me. i had no interest in your forum my aim was just to promote my site through signature otherwise there are thousands and thousands forums like yours. yours have nothing special.”

Emails like this make my day. No really, they do. They give me the laugh that is more than necessary after a long day of working and bringing up kids. The emails that I receive generally fall into three categories. The first are the new joiners who are introducing themselves and telling me what they need from me. I love those emails. They are an opportunity to find out what it is that you’re currently into, what it is that you want and how we can meet your needs. The second type are the emails from people that are stuck on something or are finding themselves lost in the miriad of sub-forums. Those ones are cool. It’s satisfying to help someone to see the light. And then there are these ones. The people that we’ve banned that think that somehow they’ll “get me back” by saying something mean. By swearing or being rude. By telling me what a great mistake we have made to get rid of them. Seriously? If we wanted you around we wouldn’t have banned you!

SitePoint community

I run the SitePoint forums with a pretty light hand. Some would say too light, but I do it because I remember how it felt to be new. There are so many unwritten rules in the world of forums and it is so easy to make a mistake and feel like a fool that I want to make it as easy as possible to fit in and have a good time – as well as enabling people to find the information and help that they need. The line between newcomers making a mistake and those that sign up to deliberately break the rules can sometimes be hard to pick out. I’d rather err on the safe side and avoid coming across as unwelcoming.

But there is a harsh truth. We don’t want just anyone signing up.

The guy that made the introductory quote above is the perfect example. We don’t want his kind around our place. Your aim is to promote yourself? Do it in the Marketplace. We’re not anyone’s soapbox. We don’t claim to be special or different from the thousands and thousands of other forums out there. All we claim to be is a welcoming place that people can come if they get stuck when they’re developing for the web in some way or other. Those people aren’t there to act as an audience for you to market to. They’re not there to put up with spam. And they’re sure as hell not there to filter through the loads of rubbish posts that you make in order to expose your signature!

We’re here so that you can bounce ideas off your peers. Help someone out. Ask a few questions when you’re stuck. Take part in some interesting conversations. Maybe even make a friend or two! If you can do some of those things and leverage a bit of interest from your signature at the same time, then more power to you.

So do us all a favour. Unless you’re signing up to our forums to actually be a part of the community, then don’t. Just don’t.

  • Philip Daly

    I completely understand what you mean. I (and others) run a lightweight open source CMS and we average between 300-500 new registrations for our forums every month. Because of a spam wave last year when it suddenly shot up to 200 a day, I had to write a program to monitor these accounts and kill them. It showed up some interesting stats. The majority (approx 80%) of those who posted a link in their signature when they first registered never returned.
    These kind of people really piss me me off as you have to spend time and energy dealing with their internet littering in the vain hope of increasing their rage ranking. So, they get both banned and their IP is blacklisted.
    So, these days there’s no more Mr. Nice Guy. If you want to show off your site, it better be relevant to the community or bye bye.

    • Hawk

      Thanks for your comment Philip. The issue that we have with IP banning is that due to the nature of our site, we get lots of students who sign up on-campus, therefore often sharing an IP address.

      But I couldn’t agree more with your last line – you hit the nail on the head. It’s all about relevancy.

      • Philip Daly

        Most of our members are students so it’s built in to the system to check for shared IP’s and to see if they hang around and post. If so, then it’s just a polite private message. But, if you’ve got a join date and last visit date of only 30-60 seconds apart then you’re in the crosshairs.

    • Hawk

      Thanks for your comment Philip. The issue that we have with IP banning is that due to the nature of our site, we get lots of students who sign up on-campus, therefore often sharing an IP address.

      But I couldn’t agree more with your last line – you hit the nail on the head. It’s all about relevancy.

  • Michael Ott

    Awse. Death to spammer accounts.

  • Mike Becvar

    I don’t have problems with people joining a forum and setting up their account. If they are not posting spam messages in the actual forums, I don’t had a problem. I have joined forums with the intent of joining in the conversations, but for one reason or another don’t. The two main reasons for joining a forum are to ask a specific question or because you must be a member to read messages. After finding the answer to your initial question or realizing the forum isn’t what you had expected, you may never return again. OK, I have seen a few people who create a bunch of spam links on their profile page, but that is the less visible form of spam and will not negatively impact the rest of the forum users.

  • Hawk

    You could go to one of the “thousands and thousands” of sites just like ours ;)

  • Mr. or Ms. Hawk!

    You should become PR or Marketing manager of a big organization. You will then perish all the customers in a few months.

    You need a basic course on customer relationship management and of course a course on attitude and anger management.

  • There is a similar phenomenon of people who bitch @mention people who dare to unfollow them.

  • Blaine

    It’s a good thing people check out the forum before spamming the forums. This post shall stop spam forever.. or not?

    It seems unprofessional to be complaining about people you ban.

  • Anonymous

    What annoys me is forums where members get ranked according to their level of activity measured purely by the number of postings regardless of quality.
    The result is that a simple question, gets loads of “me too” responses or responses that don’t address the question or say “this has been answered before” with no link, and if a good response does appear then there’s another storm of “yes, that should work” responses. Next, a few individual poster’s recognise each other and go totally off topic with personal chat. And then some total ignoramus gets flagged as “expert” because he’s posted 10,000 worthless comments.

    The result is that it’s necessary to trawl through hundreds of garbage postings to maybe find a useful one.
    Forums need to be “smart” – like using upvote/downvote and spam buttons to crowdsource data that can form the basis for automatically sorting the useful from the garbage – and deleting spammers. Maybe put the forum behind a paywall and make it crystal clear that break the rules and you’re out, no refund. I’d be happy to commit a few dollars to ensuring a forum I signed up to was going to be almost garbage free.

  • Wow, the text in the comments are so tiny and hard to read. Straining my eyes here.

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