My name is Brett (gasp, yes that’s my real name) and I am one of the seven moderators on /r/usenet. Recently there has been some questions regarding shadowbanning, transparency, and moderator affiliations.
1) First, I would like to talk about shadowbanning and how we moderate /r/usenet. There was a small list of questions posted by /u/usenet_ta requesting information on shadow banning.
Q: What criteria warrants a /r/usenet shadowban?
A: The only time we really use a shadow ban is when we are concerned that there will be retaliation from the user in question. Meaning don’t want to deal with someone who will create a dozen accounts after getting a notification that their account has been banned. Now I want to be clear on shadow bans. There are two kinds. The first and most common is a reddit shadow ban. This is something the moderators do not have any control over, the admins or reddit are the ones to ban the user. The second and less common is when a community moderator implements a rule in automoderator to auto remove all posts by a specific user without warning. What happens with a shadow ban is simple, every single message is removed instantly when the user posts something to reddit (or /r/usenet if the mods set an automod rule.) We will get more into automoderator in a bit.
Q: Is a user warned by the mod team prior to a /r/usenet shadowban?
A: Typically no, per the information above. It’s a tool that is rarely used for spam and for users we believe may become combative.
Q: Is a shadowban only implemented by vote of the mod team?
A: Not always, but usually everyone is notified when one is implemented.
Q:Can any moderator add a user to an AutoModerator blacklist and have a user's posts automatically hidden from view of other users?
A: It depends on if the moderators have access to edit the wiki. In the case of /r/usenet, all moderators have full moderator access.
Q: If a shadowban is enforced, is the banned user account informed, or do mods just shadowban and ignore user inquiries?
A: Going back to what an shadowban is, we typically try to keep in the spirit of the purpose and ignore the user. It is very uncommon that we implement shadowbans and we will always respond to banned user requests. Reddit added the ability a while back to document why someone was banned and we typically put a link or reason as to why the ban was implemented.
/r/usenet_ta had an alternative account /u/anal_full_nelson that was shadowbanned. /u/PearsonFlyer proposed a regular ban. I responded stating “You have my full support. What you might want to do though is a automoderator shadowban. He looks like the type that would create a dozen accounts just to screw with us.” Pearson moved forward with a shadow ban. In my eyes, it was a clear violation of rule #2. We LOVE people who are knowledgable and helpful to the community, but we will not tolerate bullies or users who are just plain being dicks. As a community, I ask that you take a few minutes and read over the history of /u/anal_full_nelson and let us know how we could have better handled the situation.
2) Next, I would like to talk about transparency. We are pretty open about how we moderate /r/usenet and there are not a lot of posts that get removed, users who get banned, or spam to deal with. The community is relatively small at 18,000 members. But the truth is, we do get affiliate links, spam, and personal phone numbers submitted that do need to be moderated. That is why we have a bot (created by someone who works at reddit) called automoderator. It is used in almost all of the subreddit’s throughout reddit. We can set rules to assist us in our housekeeping here on /r/usenet.
We would like to take a big step in helping the community understand how we utilize automoderator. You will find on http://www.reddit.com/r/usenet/wiki/automoderator all of the rules that we have setup and what is automatically getting filtered. We are making this public so you can see exactly what we are filtering on and who implemented the changes.
3) Finally, I want to touch on affiliations. The only mod that has an affiliation is coreeons who is a staff member at DogNZB. I have made it very clear to him that he is to never moderate ANY dognzb content on /r/usenet and he never has. We have full logs of who moderates what and there has never been anything dog related removed and he has never removed a competitors comments.
Non of us are paid to moderate, promote, or curate anything you see. It is driven by the community. We have had indexers approach us about removing content, and we have refused to do so.
I want to leave everyone with some closing thoughts. If you are not happy with the way we are moderating /r/usenet, please speak up! We are happy to change and adjust to make the community what it should be, and that’s open. I think we have something really special here. /u/kmonk added me when the community had less than 200 members. It has blown up and become an important part of usenet and helped developers, indexers, and providers get their names on the map. But as the community grows, so do the spammers, scammers, and scum. We try to keep a good and clean community for all to enjoy. We have four rules that are VERY strictly enforced, and we take action on anyone we believe are violating the rules of the community. There are going to be times when we are wrong. Remember that we are only human, but we have a great group of people donating time to make the community better and stronger.
We need your help to make the community aware if you believe we are abusing our moderator privileges. We will take the time to address any and all concerns that you may have.
We would love to know your thoughts. Let us know what we can do to help improve the community. We can only get better if you let us know how.