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How are suspension times determined?
http://blog.stackoverflow.com/2009/04/a-day-in-the-penalty-box/
says it can be anywhere from 1 to 365 days.

But unlike in real life, no rules are given for what penalty to expect for which kind of offence, or for repetition.

Is the escalation scale first one day, then one month, then one year, then permanently?

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    $\begingroup$ A number of your analogies to real life are inept. For example, US federal courts have sentencing zones based on the crime, but even then, adjustments can be made based on other circumstances and it's up to the judge to ultimately decide the length of time of the incarceration. That said, we (diamond moderators on any site, or SE employees with a diamond) can suspend for periods of way longer than 365 days. There's no hard-and-fast rule around what the suspension length should be, but it's recommended that suspension times be increased exponentially as they are given. $\endgroup$ – casperOne Dec 7 '12 at 13:17
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    $\begingroup$ related: codinghorror.com/blog/2011/06/suspension-ban-or-hellban.html $\endgroup$ – Arnold Neumaier Dec 7 '12 at 14:15
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    $\begingroup$ Everyone involved in the comments, could I ask that we keep the discussion impersonal, about the determination of suspension times and not about any particular users? If you really want to discuss a particular instance, use a chat room (although I would advise against having that discussion). I've cleaned up the offending comments. $\endgroup$ – David Z Dec 8 '12 at 2:22
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Suspension is in most cases not the first response to misbehavour by a user. The first steps are contacting the user and telling them what they are doing wrong, this can be formally via a moderator message or informally in a comment or chat message. For serious incidents, this might be skipped.

The guidelines from SE on suspension lengths are

  • 7 days for the first offense
  • 30 days for the second offense
  • 365 days for the third offense

There is no permanent suspension, one year is the maximum generally used (though it is possible to suspend for longer). If a user misbehaves again after a year-long suspension, they are suspended again for a year.

Those are the predefined values available in the suspension dialog, but moderators can choose any other value if they want to.

Here's a screenshot of the suspension part of the moderator message tool:

enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ One year is not the maximum, diamond moderators can (and have) suspend for much longer periods of time. $\endgroup$ – casperOne Dec 7 '12 at 13:20
  • $\begingroup$ I've clarified that. I didn't want to make the whole thing more complicated by adding rather obscure cases like users under 13, which might cause longer suspensions. $\endgroup$ – Mad Scientist Dec 7 '12 at 13:22
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    $\begingroup$ That's incorrect as well, to comply with US law, we actually have to delete (not destroy) the account when the user is under 13. That decision is set in stone by SE. Suspending until they are 13 is no longer an appropriate course of action in that case. $\endgroup$ – casperOne Dec 7 '12 at 13:24
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    $\begingroup$ SE wasn't really clear on that so far, at least they haven't updated the recommendation on how to handle this in any visible place, aside from some chat messages. And everything I heard from them about the subject was rather vague. My point is that 1 year is the usual maximum, the longer suspensions are rather exotic cases and not relevant here. $\endgroup$ – Mad Scientist Dec 7 '12 at 13:27
  • $\begingroup$ I will point you to the comment that was left in TL. It's been said, I just have to find it (I asked for explicit clarification from SE about this myself and they replied directly in TL, hence my statement). $\endgroup$ – casperOne Dec 7 '12 at 13:28
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    $\begingroup$ Yeah, we... really need to get a new newsletter out. $\endgroup$ – Shog9 Dec 7 '12 at 15:57
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    $\begingroup$ As an addition to what MadScientist said, I would note that in practice, it's not uncommon to reduce the first suspension to 1 or 2 days if we want to show the user in question some leniency. If you notice someone having been suspended for one or two days, that's probably what happened. $\endgroup$ – David Z Dec 7 '12 at 17:01
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    $\begingroup$ Also there used to be a first (or would that be zeroeth?) suspension of one day IIRC. $\endgroup$ – Sklivvz Dec 7 '12 at 21:54

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