As many of you may be aware, HSD was recently visited by a user named VermontKing. Of course, it has been HSD's policy to activate any user and welcome any individual into discussion on HSD so long as she or he appropriately follow our code of conduct, seen in both the thread "Why We Do What We Do" and via thoughtful discourse with the moderators.
VermontKing's use of HSD (over the roughly two and a half hours VermontKing was posting) was frenetic and rife with violations of both common law and specific code violations. As others have said in the Controversy Corner Reform thread, the wonderful team of moderators at HSD acted quickly by editing VermontKing's posts, corresponding with VermontKing over PM, locking and sending to The Pit certain threads that VermontKing had started, and, in some cases, deleting VermontKing's posts. VermontKing was dealt with with an evolving sense of discipline over the period of time VermontKing was active and the leadership that was contributing to the moderating collectively decided that VermontKing's behavior was inconsistent with what we allow here at HSD, despite multiple clear statements to VermontKing regarding how VermontKing could appropriately modify his or her behavior. Let it be clear, that the moderators never jump to banning as a solution, but instead first resort to professional and respectful communication with the transgressing user.
VermontKing "necromanced" threads that had been dead for some time, repeatedly issued blatant disrespect to moderators and administrators in PMs, wrote posts in a lewd and vicious manner, used a proxy for his or her entire time on HSD, registered with a fake email address, violated the profanity policy, and rudely tore other users down (in direct violation of the spirit of HSD). VermontKing's posts increased in vitriol as the time went on (and as VermontKing was warned multiple times to change his or her conduct so that she or he might remain a respectful member of HSD).
VermontKing's final post is reproduced below, with edits for profanity (VermontKing avoided our automatic censor by entering a new letter on each line.):
I know I'm gonna get banned, but I'll just keep creating new accounts, day after day, until this all ends. Don't you worry.
All of these factors led the active moderators and administrators to issue a lifetime ban to VermontKing. It should be clear that VermontKing was not banned because of VermontKing's political or otherwise philosophy, nor was VermontKing banned for making first-time user mistakes (e.g. necromancing a thread before being advised not to). VermontKing was banned for the aforementioned reasons. Ultimately, the moderators believe that VermontKing may have been a "troll"--perhaps with some genuine issue with conservatism. VermontKing's abusive posts have been removed or the abusive content edited out, but his or her benign posts have been left in place.
Furthermore, a temporary ban on VermontKing would not have created any meaningful change as VermontKing would have, as she or he let us know, created a new account to circumvent the HSD moderation. Truly, just after VermontKing was banned a user requested activation while impersonating an NCFCA debater from Region 8; the account was using a proxy and a fake email address. To be completely positive, I corresponded with the debater (whom I know personally) via text. The debater confirmed that the debater did not make any attempt to join HSD.
At the end of the day, VermontKing did alert the moderation team to potential shortfalls in our system due to the fact that one user was able to make such a massive headache for the moderation team as the team had to constantly proofread and look over VermontKing's post as soon as he or she posted them. At this point in time the team is discussing potential policy changes (such as creating an explicit no proxy policy, writing a specific, public code of conduct, etc.) to make HSD a better place for safe, constructive discussion. As always, we welcome insight and thoughts into such considerations. It should be known, however, that these discussions are concurring with, but should not be conflated with, the discussion on Controversy Corner and mature content.
HSD is a place for people from many different backgrounds to have respectful discussion on numerous issues, but it is not a place for vitriol, disrespect, or shame, nor a place for trolls of the like of VermontKing. Thank you, HSD members, for actively cooperating with each other and the leadership to create such an environment of safety, respect, and growth. Thank you, also, to the moderation team of HSD who all truly value what HSD is and has to offer, and sacrifice their time, talents, and thoughts to keeping HSD alive. It is certainly a larger task than it may appear on the surface.
If you have any questions please feel free to PM me or reply on this thread. The moderation team is more than willing to discuss these issues and hear your thoughts.
Thank you very much,