I never understood the use case where it would be preferable to "temporarily ban" a user for a stated period of time.

If they've done something bad enough to warrant a ban, I'd think they wouldn't be welcomed back ever.

Lets say someone is banned for 48 hours for, say, posting some spam after having 1 or more warnings. The admin deems that because of this spamming, they don't want that user on the site e.g. presumably so they don't spam anymore. What is going to happen in that 48 hours which will then make it "safe" or "OK" for that user to come back to the site and have privilege to post again

If the infraction wasn't serious enough for a full out lifetime ban, what is the benefit of the temporary ban, and who benefits from it? the admins, the banned user, the community as a whole?

4 Answers 4


Banning, generally, comes with levels of severity. A temporary ban is useful to help calmer heads prevail. The idea behind it is a short period where the user can step away, take a deep breath, and come back after they have calmed down. A temporary ban, with feedback from the moderation team on why they are temporary prevented from participating, allows a user to see what community rules they have violated. It allows they to examine how they interact with the community and hopefully change their method of interacting.

A temporary ban is useful only when the user is expected to return. They need to be some what invested in the community and have a desire to return. A spammer doesn't fall into that category. They are not concerned with how the community views their actions. They care about their link getting clicked. That's it. Removing such a user temporarily only prevents a short term spam wave. It doesn't prevent them from returning at the expiration of the ban and starting over.

On the other hand, a user that is having a bad day and gets overly emotional and acts out of character can benefit from such a temporary ban. They are clearly informed that their contributions aren't welcome right now. They can come back in a day or two and start contributing again. They've served their timeout period. Now they are unleashed back into the community.

An inverse of this question was posed here.


A temporary ban is useful if you want/need to stop someone doing something immediately. It gets their attention and allows you to hold a conversation with them about their behaviour and what they need to do once the ban is lifted.

Obviously, if they continue with the inappropriate behaviour once the ban is lifted a longer or even permanent ban can be issued.

In some cases it could be that the account has been compromised - either by someone leaving themselves logged in on a public computer, or (more seriously) by having their login credentials compromised. A temporary ban is usually enough to get the interloper off the site and give the account owner time to sort out the problem.


I've had temporary bans work on people. It can work on people who are invested in the community, but who occasionally go ballistic and step over the line. In a couple cases I've had to put the ban in place and then say that it won't be lifted until we speak by phone. Oftentimes the people who are the most antagonistic in writing are much easier to deal with verbally. Once we can get on the phone they can vent a bit to get it out of their system, and then go back to being a contributing member of the community.

But I agree that temporary bans on trolls or spammers are a waste of time, because they are never going to change their ways. 99% of the time a temporary ban will mean that person just never bothers to come back. But that 1% where they can be reached is still worth the trouble - think of it as a cooling off period for someone who is riled up but otherwise a good community member. Save it for use on people who are already invested though. If it's a new member who has no history then might as well just do permanent off the bat.


I hope you are not the person who thinks we should kill every thief.

Temporarily banning automatically spamming users doesn't make much sense. But that's not very harmful anyway, as spammers don't usually reuse their accounts if they were banned once.

But there are many other possible bad behaviors, which are generally much better than spamming. A permanent ban is less meaningful than a temporary one if the user can register new accounts easily anyway. Disadvantages of a permanent ban includes:

  1. If the user always use the same account, other users may recognize them and not take those things seriously. And if they use different accounts without a reason, the likelihood they are doing bad things increases. You made a reason for them to waste more other users' time.
  2. If they lose everything they get in your community, they can't lose anything more. A permanent ban makes them no longer need to care about how you think, and may make them doing worse. But if they want to continue using this account, at least they care to some degree.
  3. If they want to kept themselves not being banned while they can't say they are the banned users, the reasons they do something might be more obfuscated. But with contexts those might be obviously stupid.
  4. If they wanted to obey the rules, so that they may become harmless, it's more likely they will left. And if they don't, so they are still harmful, they don't care much about registering again.

There can be cases that you want a more strict IP and proxy ban. But if you don't, basically it's the other users' inconvenience not able to recognize the bad user, your trouble to maintain and explain the rules having some unreasonable edge cases, and there aren't really many things to lose for themselves, unless they are valuable at the beginning, in which case you should have more options.

A permanent ban might be a lazy way clearing their score or other users' subscription if applicable, or stating your official opinion when that user is well known. And in some cases it is used only for those, instead of disallowing the users themselves to come back. If there are no such problems, I suggest using temporary ban even if you want to get rid of them forever, but just ban them longer.

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