I'd like to implement several types of ban of my website, not just the "classical one" (i.e. being unable to log in). My website is a Q&A one, if this can help.

Some time ago, I read an article by Jeff Atwood about this - I remember it suggested those bans:

  • Errors: the user randomly gets errors while browsing.
  • Slowness: the user experiences a slower navigation.
  • Ghost: the user is invisible, meaning he has the same experience as other users, but the community can't see his posts or interact with him.

Any other suggestion? I'd like the user to be educated, so that he will join again for good purposes; anyways, making the user ragequit is okay.

  • 1
    If you want the user to be 'educated' then really they need to be able to see all the other users behaving nicely - but not be able to interact with them: ie the ghost option.
    – PhillipW
    Apr 7, 2013 at 22:27
  • 1
    Seems like you've already seen this post by Jeff Atwood, but I'll link it for others: codinghorror.com/blog/2011/06/suspension-ban-or-hellban.html
    – msanford
    Apr 8, 2013 at 20:30

1 Answer 1


You need to distinguish between levels of negative behaviour and respond accordingly.


Spammers or people posting clearly abusive content should be permanently banned without any warning. It is also useful if your site requires users to achieve some level reputation before they can do something to spam other users. This should be something that is easy for a new user to do, but too much effort for a spammer to go through.

Badly behaved users

Users that transgress the site rules may not be doing it intentionally, and so should be warned first. Then if they re-offend, an increasing ban duration should come into effect. By that I mean that they should be banned for a period of time, and that period should increase each time they transgress depending on the level of transgression. So a typical order would be:

  1. Warning
  2. Banned for 3 days
  3. Banned or 2 weeks
  4. Banned for 2 months
  5. Etc.


If you have a heavy troll, often banning them just causes them to create a new account - possibly using a new IP address. For these sorts of people, it is often a good idea to use increasing levels of frustration and the ghost method to get them to give up and leave. Often forum software has this built into it, so it is usually easier to handle than you may think.

  • Jeff Attwood describes a few different options, including the ghost method aka 'hellbanning' in a blog article from 2011 Apr 13, 2013 at 18:44
  • @RogerAttrill those fall under what I have described for trolls. They all increase the level of frustration to encourage the troll to leave.
    – JohnGB
    Apr 13, 2013 at 19:33

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