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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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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

Suspensions by site moderators are limited to a one-year maximum, though if the user relapses in the problematic behaviour then they can be suspended again for a year. Longer suspensions (often across multiple sites) can be used by SE Community Managers if required; this does not happen frequently but cases do exist.

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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