When it comes to banning and the purpose of banning, people often get it twisted. Even people who work in community management.

The purpose of banning isn’t to remove access as much as it is to curb behavior. Anyone who has been in this field for a little while knows that people can evade a ban and register another account. That’s not the primary point to banning.

The primary point is to provide a consequence for excessive and continual bad behavior. That consequence is the loss of reputation. While there is a group who won’t care, that’s a big deal for a lot of people. The desire to maintain their reputation is a powerful motivator for participating in line with the community guidelines and norms.

Most people who participate in a community enjoy building credibility over time. Their name becomes known. They accumulate various metrics. Post counts, karma points, up votes, views, awards, whatever. People know them. When they lose access to their account, that is gone. They can sign up for another account, but they must start back at square one, credibility wise.

They have to do that because the moment it becomes clear to community leadership that they are a member who was previously banned, they’ll be banned again. Back to start, again. It’s not about going crazy looking for previously banned members. That’s a waste of time. Instead, you should just take care of anyone who slips up and makes it clear that they are a previously banned member. Most people eventually make a mistake. They use a similar email address, post from the same IP address, mention the same blog. Whatever it is, it happens.

The only way to truly evade a ban, maintain an account and build that credibility again is to leave that old identity behind and change their behavior. In which case, who cares? They are participating in a productive manner that meets with community expectations, which is what we wanted in the first place.