I owe you a love song
Creative Commons License photo credit: asubtleglance

This is part 3, the final part, in my Alex inspired series on temporary bans, lifting them early and related topics. I’m going to close it out by talking about how to respond to members who want to be unbanned.

Keeping in mind that I only issue permanent bans, the messages that I get from banned members, I’d throw into two categories: those I will respond to – and those I won’t. Once I ban someone, they are no longer an active member of my community. On the contrary, they have forced us to designate them as someone who has done harm to the community. For that reason, I am no longer as available to them as I might be to a regular member.

When someone is banned, they are banned. I am not here to argue about this or to engage in any dispute over it. I’ll confirm that they have been banned and discuss why, briefly. I will not reply without that sort of reason. I do not respond to someone who is being disrespectful or who is calling me names or anything like that.

If the person accepts responsibility for their actions and apologizes, it is at that point – and pretty much only at that point – that I can even begin to consider lifting the ban. I then consider the two other factors discussed in my article on lifting temporary bans early. Those are: what they were banned for and how long it has been since they were banned.

It’s rare that I unban someone, but if I do, I will inform them of this and welcome them back into the community. If I decide not to, I will inform them of that, as well, saying that I appreciate their apology and what they said, but that I cannot lift the ban at this time, which leaves the door open to something in the future.

How does this apply to temporary bans? Well, I’d say it is much the same, except that a temporary ban means that the person is still an active member of your community, since you can return. So, you should still be as accessible to them as a regular member. But, along with that, if they should do anything inappropriate while temporarily banned, you should document it and, if necessary, move forward with a permanent ban.

For example, if you issue a temporary ban and the member replies with an expletive laced e-mail and calls you names, you might want to make the ban permanent. What I am saying is being temporarily banned doesn’t mean that they can get away with anything they want during the time they are banned. Document and take action as normal.

Since the member will likely not have access to your community’s private message system, which is the best way to communicate with them, it is most efficient if this communication can take place via your e-mail, for documentation purposes.

Always take steps to ensure that your bans have meaning. They should never be treated as a game and, even though we administrators do have to take more abuse than the average member, it is never OK for a member to be overtly disrespectful to you. Access to your community is a privilege – it is not a right.