What are the rules for the Penalty Box? Specifically, what is not written in the rules.

  1. What determines the ban time span?
  2. Are you assigned strikes that determine your ban time?
  3. Is there a way to reduce these strikes if they exist?

The reason I ask is because when I get a ban lately, each one is one year but, in the beginning it was a day, then a few days, then a week, then a month, etc, etc.

2 Answers 2


Mithical's answer is a good general overview, but let me give some slightly more specific comments.

  • There's no strict algorithm for determining ban length; it's at the discretion of the suspending moderator, or of the moderator team in complicated cases that require some discussion before suspending.
  • One aspect that goes into the decision is how likely we believe a person is to improve. That's one reason for the escalating-length rule of thumb that Mithical mentioned - someone who keeps getting banned many times is generally less likely to improve - but it can also be a factor in changing ban lengths away from that rule of thumb.
    • If someone has been generally a model user for years, but gets drunk one night and takes a comment argument too far, we might consider giving a short suspension even if they had longer ones in the past.
    • If someone just keeps doing the same type of bad behaviour again and again, without showing any evidence that they've learned from their mistakes and will improve when unbanned, then there's no reason to give them a less-than-maximal ban if they continue to demonstrate themselves unfit for the site/community.
  • It is possible, but very rare, to get a ban reduced after it is applied. Every time you receive a moderator message, you have one (and only one) chance to reply to it. That means people who reply with insults immediately close off any chance to make a case for themselves, but people who make a strong and serious case for giving them another chance may warrant a further reply from moderators, which will then allow them to reply again. Again, it's very rare that people actually succeed in getting a ban reduced, but it has been known to happen.

(I'm still keeping this answer as general as possible, because meta is public and some future readers may want to apply these principles to their own situation.)

  • 13
    I'm a moderator on a different site, and this is right on. Bans are generally not the first option, and even when I do ban, I generally issue brief ones. The major exception is when someone is a repeat offender and especially if the new behavior is similar in both scope and time to the old behavior. For example, if I catch you today using a racial slur and you were suspended in 2018 for vote fraud, I will likely give you either a warning or a week's suspension. If you use a racial slur within 48 hours of coming back after a previous suspension for using racial slurs, the gloves are off. Commented Jun 22, 2022 at 16:54

The general escalation of suspensions goes one day > one week > one month > one year. Continued infractions will earn another one-year suspension, or, in some cases, a ten- or twenty-year suspension, issued by staff.

The length is determined at the discretion of the moderator team and is based on your current behavior, taking into account your past history and previous suspensions.

The way to prevent further suspensions is to not repeat the behavior that earned you the suspension, detailed in the private moderator message that you received when the suspension was issued.

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