I am a moderator in a relatively small community (details below) and one of our users is simply being annoying to other users, but does not actually break any rules. The said user has been reported by the community multiple times. We see how the user is annoying, but we don't have evidence that he is breaking any rules, so technically we can't punish him.

How should we handle such a user?

I'm a moderator in a room on a site where you can play any video from Youtube (within the site ToS and room rules) while chatting. The user is playing videos that are obviously disliked by most of the room, but since we have way too many AFK users that run autovoting scripts at that time, we can't skip the user based on the like:dislike ratio. Examples of videos he plays are speedcore music, scare videos and similar. Arguing with the user yields no results.


We had a rule on our board:

If the majority of members find your interactions annoying and report it as such, it will be considered as disruption an infractions will be applied.

We found a major flaw with that - other members ganging up on that member, so put in place a modification to the rule:

If the majority of members find your interactions annoying and report it as such, and if upon moderator investigation there is evidence that you have been, it will be considered a disruption an infractions will be applied.

I found that it is almost impossible to refine this exact rule; however, with that modification we did not have too many problems.


Of course he does. In the moment he's annoying other people, he's just breaking the rule of having respect towards others. This rules doesn't need to be set by you (or other staffmembers), it's basic etiquette!

Talk with him personally, show him a comparison according to the real life:
- Will you ever go to random people and insult them?
- Will you ever follow random people as long as you can just to annoy them?

Maybe he will go against you because he simply can't understand the comparison, but that's ok. Show him that the internet isn't that different to the real world, and it's his duty to be respectful because others do the same towards him. Especially you are showing respect since you didn't ban him and you are trying to help him! Tell him that as clear as you can.

Show him that being polite can be fun, that being respectful is nice. Show him that being stubborn doesn't help anyone, especially not himself, he will just allow others to collect reasons for hating him!


The easiest way is to make a rule that users are expected not to have a negative impact on the group. With such a rule, if a user is an annoyance, you make an effort to correct the problem and if they continue to be an annoyance despite warnings, you remove them on the grounds of that rule.

Not all rules have to be concrete "you can do X, you can not do y". The important part is just that the rules are well understood and enforced uniformly.

  • The problem with rules such as "Be respectful to other users.", "Don't be a dick.", etc. are very arguable, the user in question argued that "He just likes these videos" and that we have no right to punish him for liking a certain kind of videos. When asked to stop playing the disliked videos, he said that he has the right to play videos he wants because they aren't breaking the rules. It boils down to an argument about "What EXACTLY is respecting other users?". – Mateon1 Oct 18 '14 at 17:19
  • That's why basing the role on the group dynamic is key. The rule is subjective, but the group can objectively decide what THEY don't like. – AJ Henderson Oct 18 '14 at 17:27

Maybe you should improve your board rules. If someone is annoying other users, he is definitly breaking a rule, even if it's not written down (yet; I hope). Just ensure yourself by adding a etiquette rule. And if he is a spammer, add a "don't post too many useless answers"-rule (or the like). If you don't like something, change it (or suggest it to the administrators). Don't restrict yourself to your own rules. That doesn't make any sense.

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