Warning Appeal and Removal
Now that we're several months into this great adventure called Terraria Community Forums, we have realized that there needs to be a formal process in place to facilitate the warning appeal and removal process.
The Users Guide gives an overview of how rules violations are reported and handled by forum Staff, and it touches on how warnings and other Staff actions may be appealed. Dealing directly with Staff at the time of any action is always preferable.
Table of Contents
- Warning Appeals
- Visibility of Warnings To Others
- Warning Removal Process
No one likes to get a warning; no one on the staff likes to give them. A warning is given when a member is seen as breaking a rule or cultural policy as outlined in the Terrarian Rules and Culture. When that happens, a number of points may be assessed to the member's account, along with an expiration date for those points. At the time a warning is given, there should a clear indication from the staff of what rule(s) or policy was violated - this can be done by a verbal response, a banner message on an offending post, a PM with detailed explanation, or a combination of those options. Please remember that although a single staff member will be named on the warning or otherwise be seen as "the one" giving it, quite often the action is a result of discussion among several staff members.
The process for appealing a warning at the time it is given is outlined in the Community Users Guide.
When addressing staff to appeal a warning, please keep the following in mind:Appealing a Warning
There are several levels of appeal available to members. We ask that members follow the levels of appeal outlined below sequentially. Please note that the more calm/rational you are in resolving the dispute, the better. Appealing through angry rage-fueled rants will not help anything.
- Staff Member Appeal: If you feel that a Moderator has warned you in error, simply open up a Private Message (PM) with that Moderator and calmly/reasonably explain your position and where you feel the error/disagreement exists. Hopefully, through a thorough discussion, you can come to an understanding – whether that means the warning is removed or stays. If this understanding cannot be reached, you may then move on to Peer Review.
- Peer Review: At this stage, a member may choose to bring in other Moderators of their choosing to review the situation and actions taken – typically by inviting them to the ongoing PM with the initial Moderator. Similar to the first level of appeal, the additional Moderators may want to ask questions/discuss the situation before giving their opinion. In the end, the Peer Review Moderators will provide guidance as to what they would have done in the situation. The hope is that if multiple perspectives agree, this will reduce the chances for any biases. This is typically the highest level of review, as the Administrators and Devs will generally trust that the team will make smart, objective decisions. However, if you feel the Peer Review panel still did not resolve your issue, you may raise it with the Administrators.
- Administrator Review: At this stage, a member may send a PM to an Admin – or simply invite them into the ongoing PM. The Admin(s) will look over the conversation, ask any additional questions, and either agree or disagree with the actions taken so far. Keep in mind that it will likely be very rare that Admin(s) will disagree with a Peer Review panel.
- Be courteous and civil when asking for clarification of the circumstances of the warning. Mistakes can be made by anyone, and can be easily rectified. Any abusive attitude toward the staff or other members may bring any appeal to an abrupt end.
- Focus on your warning and your involvement in the situation. What others did, what warnings others did or did not receive are not issues on which to base an appeal.
- In no case will the inclusion of non-staff members in an appeal PM be entertained; those members will be removed from the PM or the appeal will be at an end.
When a member is banned (temporarily or permanently), they no longer have access to their account to PM the staff. In all such cases, the staff should recognize that the points being assessed will trigger a temporary or permanent forum ban, and make that result clear to the member via PM before the ban is put in place. That is the time to appeal the ban; otherwise, you are expected to serve the period of the ban before appealing. Do not make another account to evade or appeal a temporary ban; an alternate account may be made to appeal a permanent ban, but only for that purpose.
On occasion, a member may be prevented from posting further in a thread if the staff concludes that the member is being a distraction by excessive arguing, attacking, being off-topic, etc. A threadban can be temporary or permanent. If temporary, the member is expected to wait for the temporary ban to expire. If permanent, the member can appeal to have the thread ban removed at any point past 2 months from when the ban was assessed. The appeal process is the same as for requesting removal of expired warnings - make a new thread in the removal request section, and include a link to any post in the specific thread in question. The staff will review the circumstances of the threadban and determine the outcome of the appeal.
Threadbans have no record visible to members, but the staff can see when and why a threadban was issued.
Appealing Sectional Bans
On occasion, a member may be barred from posting in a particular section of the forum (e.g., Suggestions) when the staff has determined a continuing pattern of disruption from previous warnings and/or threadbans in that section warrants it. These bans are generally temporary and the member is expected to serve the full period of that ban.
In the rare case of a permanent sectional ban, the member may appeal that after 6 months from when the ban was assessed. The procedure for appeal is the same as for removal of expired warnings.
Appealing Forced Ignores
On rare occasions, the staff may determine that two or more people just cannot get along with each other, or that one member has a pattern of harassment toward one or more members. In those cases, the staff may force the members to Ignore each other.
As with the member-initiated Ignore feature, the involved members will not see posts in threads, on profiles, or in PMs from each other. Also like that feature, there are situations where members may manually bypass the Ignore feature and display content from people they Ignore; this is part of the XenForo Ignore feature and cannot be easily enforced by the Staff. We expect all participants to observe the intent of the Ignore feature and not bypass it to continue making contact with the other parties.
Once assessed, a Forced Ignore is intended to be a permanent separation of the members in question. However, the staff may consider a lifting of a staff-implemented Forced Ignore if
- each involved member contacts the staff independently to request a repeal of the Forced Ignore (this means separate PMs, as the Ignore prevents the members from being in the same PM),
- the Staff must be convinced that whatever prompted the Forced Ignore in the first place has been put firmly in the past, and will not be revived in the future,
- the Staff must be convinced that none of the participants has been in any way coerced into requesting the lifting of a Forced Ignore.
Visibility of Warnings to Others
Once a warning is assessed to a member, it is noted on their profile and is visible to anyone that can see that profile. The Staff believes that it is important for members to be aware of the status of their own warnings, and the current Xenforo options are to either make them visible to all, or visible to no one but staff. Should other options for visibility become available in the future, the Staff will evaluate them at that time.
Discussion of another person's warnings should be avoided in general, as should boasting about one's own warnings. Discussions which involve making fun of someone for their warnings, or which use a person's warnings as a reason to denigrate their opinions on a topic, should be avoided at all costs. Doing so may bring further action from the Staff to those involved.
TopWarning Removal Process
A warning remains on a profile even after it has expired; what has expired are the points accompanying the warning. The Staff believes there is value in leaving some indication of the warning after the points have expired - one analogy to criminal justice would be that the period before the points expire is the sentence, and the period that follows is the probation. The purpose here is to define the length of that probationary period, and to define the process for removing expired warning notices.
We will separate warnings into three categories:
- Temporary Account Suspension - typically assessed to "take a person aside" to explain or clarify specific behavior. Not a ban, but some privileges are suspended until discussion with staff is concluded.
- Minor warnings (0 or 1 points per warning) - typically things like lack of content, off-topic, rudeness, etc.
- Major warnings (2+ points per warning) - typically more serious offenses like personal attacks, trolling, very inappropriate content, etc.
- Temporary Account Suspension - None. These warning notices can be removed immediately upon expiration/termination by request, if the staff has not done so.
- Minor warnings - 2 months past the expiration date. When the probation period has passed, the warning notice will be removed upon request IF there have been no further similar violations in the interim.
- Major warnings, with review - 4 months past the expiration date. When the probation period has passed, the member may request that their warning be reviewed by staff. The staff will then determine whether the warning notice is eligible for removal.
- Major warnings, no review - 8 months past the expiration date. When the probation period has passed, the member may request that the warning notice be removed. This will only be done if the member has not had a recurrence of such an offense since the original assessment of the warning.
We have set up a section under Rules for members to post removal requests called Expired Warning Removal Applications. This section may look empty to you; much like how we handled applications for staff before, you can only see the requests you post, not those that others have posted. The staff will see all requests posted here, and will be notified of new requests so that none are overlooked.
- Make a new thread in this section with your request. Please be as specific as possible as to which one you are applying for removal, if it is not obvious.
- Once the thread is created, you may see a notice to the effect that the thread or post is awaiting moderation. This is normal, and intended to draw the staff's attention.
- Wait for a moderator to respond. If no one responds within 24 hrs, please contact any available forum staff member to alert them.
- A staff member will respond, and determine the eligibility for removal or review.
- If the notice is eligible for immediate removal, then the staff member will do so. If a review is required, then the staff member will begin that process. Other staff members, including the one originally responsible for assessing the warning, may be involved in the review.
- If the removal is granted, then the request thread will be locked.
- If the removal or review is rejected, the member will be given a time frame in which the request can be re-submitted for another review.
- Use this section to appeal a warning that was just given. Use the Appeal process outlined above and in the Community Users Guide.
- Request multiple removals in one request, such requests will be rejected.
- Request removal of a warning for someone else. Only the recipient of the warning in question may request its removal.
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