This topic seems to come up every year or two, and we end up doing and saying the same thing. We understand that the current site lacks good moderation controls and honestly we do not have the resources to address every incident on the site because of this. We are hoping that with the launch of the new site, and the implementation of new moderation and privacy controls shortly afterwards, this task will be easier and will eventually allow users to self-moderate.
So now to the facts. Today Dawn spent most of the day reviewing the long list of complaints we receive via email, PM, and the flag system. In every case, she reviewed the evidence that was presented, and made a simple decision. If the evidence showed that a user was harassing, berating, threatening, libelous, obscene, or in any other way bullying toward a user (or otherwise violating the TOU), they were added to a block list. We never take blocking users lightly and have historically given most users leniency when enforcing these terms, but at some point they must be enforced in order to maintain order on the site and ensure that the site remains a place where everyday people can come to get support for their situations.
If a user was blocked, it was because they in some way violated our TOU, typically on multiple occasions. It's as simple as that. In general users get at least one warning, but depending on the infraction a user may not get a warning at all.
Users do *not* get blocked because we disagree with their views, or they had the most flags against them (although multiple flags or other notices does tend to get you looked at first). We do *not* block users simply because another user has requested it. We do *not* take into account the length of time a user has contributed to this site; this isn't a balancing game. Its unfortunate that we have to block users who have a history of providing good advice to our users, but being a regular contributor to this site does not constitute a right to behave outside the TOU.
The list of abusive users is extremely long and we have not yet reviewed it in it's entirety. We are aware that not all users who have abused the ST TOU have been blocked, yet. Feel free to continue to report those individuals by providing links to *evidence* of the actual abuse. Note, however, that deliberate and blatant mis-reporting of users will get you blocked so make sure your report is sincere.
It comes down to this. StepTalk is a place that people come to vent about their *unique* situation. Often they don't provide all the details, or change the details for privacy reasons, or reasons only they understand. Sometimes they want support. Sometimes they want feedback. Sometimes they want a reality check. What they don't want and should not expect is to be attacked, for any reason. If a user does not agree with another user, does not believe a blog or forum post to be sincere or truthful, or in any other way feels that they can not provide constructive support or feedback, then that user is expected to move on and not interact with that other user.
This does *not* mean that you can't disagree with someone. This does *not* mean you can't tell someone you don't agree with them. This has everything to do with *how* you communicate your feedback. It is always possible to provide constructive feedback to someone you don't agree with even if you are telling them you don't agree with them or that you have a completely orthogonal view of their situation. Surely you can do this without using derogatory or hateful statements. If you feel that you can't, walk away.
I'm going to leave this open for comments in case anyone wants to continue this discussion. I can't promise quick replies because I have a day job and I'm busy building our new site, but I will attempt to respond as I can.