I like to use examples as often as possible when writing about online community development as I feel the best way of learning and being inspired is by reading about what others have done in certain situations. I recently had trouble with a forum user at Just Chat – this article will outline how I dealt with the situation.
A couple of weeks ago I banned a user who had signed up with a new account that was extremely similar to the username of an existing member. By doing this, the user was obviously trying to assume the identity of someone else in order to stir up trouble within the community. As a result, their account and posts were deleted.
Unfortunately, this action merely encouraged the user who then went on to register another account, this time making abusive references towards existing forum members, then making a lot of posts to get their name ‘out there’.
The ideology of the abusive forum user
It was clear that this person thought that it would take a lot of time for a moderator or administrator to remove each post and then delete their account. As far as they were concerned, as long as they registered a new account at least once per day and posted as often as possible, we would soon be so frustrated with the work created in deleting each post and account that we would give in. Thanks to a great hack from phpBBHacks.com though, this wasn’t the case.
After deleting the posts, I would then go into the ‘Ban Control’ section of phpBB and ban the email address they used to register – this meant that in order for them to register again with a new account, they would need to register a new email address.
Finally, their account would be deleted – normally, I simply deactivate the accounts of abusive members, but because the issue with this user was their choice of user name, I had to delete the account in order to prevent it from remaining in the member list.
I could also have used the IP address ban, but I find this tends to be ineffective against most abusers as they are aware of how easy it is to use a proxy and have a continuously changing IP address.
Effort – Just Chat vs Abusive User
Therefore, every time our abusive forum user wanted to come back, he had to go through the process below:
1) Register a brand new email address
2) Register and activate a new account on our forum
3) Make as many posts as possible
For me to take action against this person, I had to do the following:
1) Click once to delete all posts
2) Click once to ban email address
3) Click once to delete account
It is clear to see which process is the easiest; it was always going to end with the problematic user giving up. This is exactly what happened after a few days.
Have you ever had to deal with a similar situation to this? How do you deal with abusive forum members? Share your thoughts and experiences by leaving a comment below.