Enforcing Online Community Guidelines: When to Ban Members

Asking members to leave an online community sort of goes against the grain when it comes to building a community. Community managers want to add new members, not get rid of them. Still, on some occasions, you have to revoke memberships because members simply refuse to play by the rules:

  • When you’ve warned them on more than one occasion, but they still test the limits

  • When they continuously spam the community with links to their own blogs or sales pages

  • When they make personal attacks against others in the community

  • When they publicly question your decisions or authority on a regular basis, for the sole purpose of making you look bad and disrupting the community

  • When they create different names and personalities in order to troll other members

The decision to ban someone is usually made on a case-by-case basis, and there are different levels of banning. For example, if a repeat offense is sort of minor, perhaps a ban of only a week or two is in order. For more serious offenses, six months sends a good message. For repeat offenders, a lifetime ban shows the offending member and the rest of the community that you mean business.

You should have already warned the offending member what would happen if he continued his behavior so that the decision to ban doesn’t come out of left field. Always use banning as a last resort, after you’ve exhausted all other avenues to get certain members to “play nice.”

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