Kistaro Windrider, Reptillian Situation Assessor (kistaro) wrote in suggestions,
Kistaro Windrider, Reptillian Situation Assessor

E-mail address based banning

E-mail address based banning

Short, concise description of the idea
Make it such that when a person commits a ban through a comment deletion, xe also has the option to ban any future account that may be registered with the same e-mail address. (Read full idea for addressing of gotchas)

Full description of the idea
Since LiveJournal dropped invite codes, its nice, controlled growth has gone exponential- and a disturbing number of journals are created exclusively to irritate other people. I'm not referring to serial adders so much as trolls, those who actively attack people on their journals.

LiveJournal has a system for these people: ban_set. And it used to work: someone's a problem? Delete a comment and hit the goodbye box. Someone's a problem in someone else's journal and you really don't want it on your turf? Head over to admin/console and ban_set away.

But that is no longer sufficient. With the advent of invitation codes, users can, within minutes, create a new account and be right back to their old activities. The only defense a user has now is to restrict commenting to "friends only," something that I can understand that many people would be reluctant to do: restrict relatively free discourse because of a few, or even just one, people who are the problem and must not be catered to. I propose to extend the banning system such that a user has the additional option to ban a user's e-mail address, so any account created with that address is counted as banned.

When a user bans a user from a comment deletion (the friendly UI way), another checkbox option would come up: "Ban all users with [bannedUserName]'s e-mail address?" If the box is marked, then all users with that e-mail address will be blocked. The user is not directly told exactly what that address is; the banning user would have to check the journal of the banned user, and if the e-mail address is hidden, no dice. Even for trolls, privacy must not be comprimised. For undoing bans, any ban executed with an e-mail address will be displayed on your Edit User Info page with an asterisk by it- y'know, in that area where you can check the boxes to do the unsets. If such an account is unbanned, the e-mail based ban is lifted.

In the unfriendly admin/console back-end version, the one I'm much more familliar with, it would be an additional command: ban_all_set, ban_email_set, or super_ban_set (and the related unsets). It would have identical effects; the syntax would, again, be super_ban_set [username] and would, again, not give the e-mail address.

This, of course, suggests another feature: "Ban all free e-mail accounts?" This would be a particularly extreme measure, to be used only in the case of extreme troll infestations, and would require the additional implementation of a "whitelist" to allow users to byapss it. It would cause all people with @yahoo, @hotmail, @msn, @netscape, etcetera (@cetera?) e-mail addresses to be blocked by default, to prevent a very dedicated troll from just getting new full e-mail accounts from such services.

An ordered list of benefits

  • Users will be able to ban trolls in a way that has a better chance of sticking for more than three minutes.
  • LiveJournal may see fewer accounts created entirely to bother users, as it would be futile.
  • There might be fewer abuse requests, if the abuse team ever sees requests like this.
  • An ordered list of problems/issues involved

  • Free e-mail accounts are the obvious hole, as no free-auto-ban system would ever be able to hit everything. Any such autofreeban system would take quite a bit of coding to implement (I suspect), and then be extremely inconvinent as users would have to keep tweaking whitelists. (I can think of eight people offhand I'd need to whitelist.)
  • If the free-email-block thing isn't implemented, there's the hole.
  • A user may inadvertently do more than intended.
  • This may require a massive recode of the ban system; I do not know how it is implemented, so I can't intelligently comment on whether it's ripping out eight thousand lines of code or changing one hash-table reference.
  • An organized list, or a few short paragraphs detailing suggestions for implementation

  • Free-mail-ban would additionally need to be implemented for this to be truly effective, although it would take a rather dedicated troll to go therough e-mail accounts like this. (Plus, the freemail provider might start to get fed up at that point.)
  • Have an additional index of "e-mail addresses banned" on each user, in addition to set bans.
  • Users banned by e-mail instead of account SHOULD NOT get a different "j00 is b@nn3d" error than the usual, lest they catch on and just get a freemail account.
  • Tags: abuse, banned users, § rejected
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