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On Huddler, moderators and admins would occasionally place unruly members of the site who were abusing the rules in the "Penalty Box" group. This group could not post, but could otherwise read the site. The group had an expiration date, so most of the time mods/admins (hereafter "we") would put people in the Penalty Box for a day or two or three - enough time to "cool off" and move on beyond whatever was bothering them. As a general rule, we do not ban many people at all here at TST (spammers excluded). In fact, weeks will go by between bans, which on a site as busy as this one, is virtually unheard of. When we moved to IPS 4 on October 1, 2015, we lost the ability to "expire" user groups after a certain amount of time. This means that if we added someone to the Penalty Box, we had to remember to remove them. And, let's be honest, the Penalty Box wasn't as transparent as we'd like, either. Though many members were aware of why a member might be in the Penalty Box, they weren't aware of the specifics, and other members would often be completely unaware. So, "Penalty Box" is going the way of the dodo. Though the expiring user groups is going away, IPS 4 brings with it a fairly straightforward warning system. Through it, we (mods/admins) can issue warnings to people. They have to acknowledge the warning before they can continue to post, and the warning is tagged with a title, points, expiration dates for those points, and a notice for both the user and for us to see. Just as with points on a driver's license or something like that, as users rack up points, their privileges decline. To the right you can see our current schedule. A user who racks up 10 points will have his content moderated for three days, or one day after he's allowed to post again (he's restricted from posting for two days). A user who somehow reaches 40 points will have his content restricted for 24 days and his will not be able to post for 16. After that, if a user has 50 active points, they're permanently banned. Additionally, other penalties may be applied as well, including the loss of PM privileges, the loss of the ability to post status updates, and other features on the site that exist either now or in the future. As points expire, it doesn't change the penalties already incurred. For example, if Random User is warned with three points that expire in 10 days, and that takes him to 11 active points, he'll be moderated for three days and restricted from posting for two, but the points will fall off after those 10 days and he'll fall back down to 8 (if the 8 have not also expired). This simply means that another two-point warning or greater will result in the same or greater restriction being applied, again. Though moderators and admins can customize the number of points, the expiration date of those points, and even whether to over-ride the existing restriction/moderation settings or their duration, our base level warnings right now are: - Spamming, 999 points, never expires.* - Spamming (Light), 5 points, 180 days - Inappropriate Language, 3 points, 36 days. - Rude/Obnoxious Behavior, 5 points, 72 days. - Trolling, 5 point, 72 days. * Note that this triggers the 50 point permanent ban. So, in essence: The Penalty Box functionality is replaced with the warning system. The warning system is a much more efficient, public way to handle this type of stuff. At the end of the day, we use this type of stuff to limit or restrict posters way, way less than virtually all other forums. Golfer are, generally speaking, good people.
For the past few days, based on comments in another topic, I've been using CleanTalk.org to help filter spam. You can find out more about the platform here: https://cleantalk.org/. Overall, it's been pretty great, and I strongly recommend it. The Pros: It's greatly reduced the amount of time my moderators need to spend working and moderating posts, users, etc. by flagging them as spammers, issuing warnings, etc. It stops posts as well as registrations. It has a relatively simple interface that lets you mark things as NOT spam. I haven't seen any false positives yet. Those, as you can imagine, are MUCH worse than false negatives as real users can get upset. You can block entire countries from posting and/or registering. Their database seems to be fairly large and/or complete, resulting in high accuracy. I haven't noticed any slowdown of posts. It's pretty darn inexpensive. Established members don't seem to have their posts vetted. That's good. I'm able to remove CAPTCHAs and other things that reduce the odds of a valid user registering and posting. The Cons: The first night, I got a 502 Gateway error every other or third time I loaded up the log. This hasn't happened since. There's not as much transparency as I'd like. I don't even know right now how many posts a user has to make before they're considered established and their posts aren't scanned. https://community.cleantalk.org/index.php Their forum isn't particularly busy. Which could be seen as a good thing… For the users here, particularly long-time users, nothing is any different. You should get fewer notifications of spammers being identified and warned, but that's about it.