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I've been requested to make a UI that allows to block/ban users from logging in. In the wireframes I've been provided, they use the term "blocked". But I feel like a better term for this would be "banned".

I feel like blocked means "there's something in the middle that is not letting this user to log in", while banned would mean "we are not letting this user log in, and we have our reasons to do so".

Is there any standard connotation for these two terms? Should I choose one over the other, or is this just not that important?

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you should post this question at English –  AndroidHustle Mar 12 '12 at 15:45
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IMHO, English.SE will be of more help here. –  dnbrv Mar 12 '12 at 15:47
    
@dnbrv good advice! X) –  AndroidHustle Mar 12 '12 at 15:50
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I think it's okay here, because it hits on something very relevant: microcopy. You need to get that stuff right and you need to choose the language users will understand. It's also an important part of domain modeling. OP should post this on English.SE as well if he needs help distinguishing the linguistic meaning of the words. –  Rahul Mar 12 '12 at 15:51
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An accident on a motorway might mean a car is blocked, but a bicycle is banned from motorways completely. Blocked might be a state in which you can find yourself, while banned is a full time state-of-being, of which you may or may not have prior notification. –  Roger Attrill Mar 12 '12 at 15:51

4 Answers 4

up vote 13 down vote accepted

"Blocking" someone is usually used in the context of preventing another user from contacting you. Think instant messengers or Facebook.

"Banning" someone is usually used to indicate a user has been barred by admins from accessing the service. Think IRC and forums.

I think it's important to use the term that users will understand intuitively. In your case you're building a UI for admins to ban users from the site, so I think "banning" is most appropriate here. To keep everythin on the same track, you would then display "You have been banned" or similar to a banned user who is trying to access the service. (As opposed to "You have been blocked", which would be confusing)

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Blocked and Banned mean two different things. Nonetheless, most users associate both with not being allowed to access something. Banned, however, would be the better term if you are indeed denying them access for a given reason. Blocked would be as you mentioned a temporary boundary of getting in. Usuallly, that is called a penalty or set time suspension.

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Banned would be an appropriate term to indicate that the user is no longer allowed to log in.

To clarify some of the connotations associated with both words, I've made 2 lists.

Banned

  • related to a person
  • deliberate
  • punishment
  • denial

Blocked

  • related to content
  • censorship
  • may be deliberate or inadvertant
  • unavailible

I would definitely go with "banned" in your case.

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Wikipedia makes this distinction between "blocked" and "banned", which would be helpful to add to this discussion:

A block is temporary. It is used for preventing damage to the site by users who are editing maliciously. It can be applied to a user account, an anonymous IP, or a range of IP addresses. (source) Wikipedia admins may block users temporarily for vandalism, sockpuppetry (use of multiple accounts/IPs to circumvent the rules), and reverting others' edits to articles too frequently - among other reasons. They can present cases for longer-term blocks on the administrators' noticeboard or before the arbitration committee. Blocking is something one administrator can do as long as they are acting in accordance with admins' policies. Banning is, generally, a community process.

A ban is a measure taken against a user, designed to punish the user (and protect the site) as a result of actions they have done on the site (or sometimes offsite). On Wikipedia, users can only be banned by Jimbo Wales, the Wikimedia Foundation, the Arbitration Committee, or a consensus among the editing community. Some bans are of a fixed, long duration (e.g. one year) while others are considered permanent or indefinite. (source) Usually, bans take weeks/months to put in place unless the offenses are so severe that they need to happen much faster.

Among communities of forum moderators, "blocked" and "banned" can sometimes both mean "banned".

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