How to deal with members who are banned from a site?


i'm running a niche dating site startup and every day we ban a number of members who either are time wasters, harass other members, etc.

About once a week I get an email from one of the ex-members that contains either :

  1. Abusive and explicit language
  2. "If you don't reactivate my account, I'll post everywhere that you're a crap site"
  3. "If you don't reactivate my account, I have friends in high places who can pull the plug on your site"

etc, etc.

I've been trying very hard to ignore these but is this the best thing to do ? None of the "threats" are real threats in any way, but once I got completely fed up and posted one of the emails on our blog with the guy's photo and contact info with a big "be warned about this guy" title. I took it down less than a day later when I receive a 2 page apology email.

Any advice how to deal with these issues ???

Email Relationships

asked Oct 10 '10 at 17:35
Sherif Buzz
462 points

4 Answers


I would ignore the behavior. I know it's hard, but responding and/or giving them public attention only encourages their behavior.

If there are any recurring themes in the email subjects/body (e.g. "reactivate my account") perhaps you could set an email filter to delete them automatically, or (possibly safer, in case a legitimate one comes through) forward them to an assistant/hidden folder for future perusal in batches.

answered Oct 10 '10 at 17:50
Marina Martin
396 points


I'd second Marina's advice to just ignore the issue.

One point that I've found can help reduce the incidence of this sort of issue is to make it explicit that this is not a random decision - but because the user violated the rules of the site:

1) Have a very clear human readable list terms of service
2) Warn people first before banning - and refer to the particular point in the ToC that they violated. Tell them politely that the next incidence will cause a ban
3) If it happens again, ban - referring again to the particular issue in the ToC.

This makes the process more official - and less able to be interpreted as a personal attack by you on the person being banned.

Hopefully this makes some vague sort of sense :-)

answered Oct 10 '10 at 20:11
Adrian Howard
2,357 points
  • Thanks I think that is a pretty good approach - the terms are already there and very clear but you can imagine "I didn't seem them" "I don't agree with them" etc etc...I think a warning system will really get their attention. cheers. – Sherif Buzz 13 years ago


The best answer to this that I have found discussed is to not ban bad users, but ignore them completely. And make it so that everyone else ignores them as well. Let them post whatever they want, but change your software so that they are the only ones that see their rants and raves. They will quickly tire of the lack of response and go away on their own.

As for users already banned, as Marina and adrianh already said, simply ignore them. Set a filter on your email to bounce or bit bucket all email from them. There is no profit in interacting with them and you just fall into the trap of giving them the attention they desire.

answered Oct 11 '10 at 01:52
Larry Smithmier
226 points
  • This was something I heard first on a Jeff and Joel podcast and I thought it was a great strategy. – Tim J 13 years ago
  • Thanks for the reminder. I thought it was from CodingHorror or the forums, but couldn't find it anywhere. Yes, that is where I heard it also. – Larry Smithmier 13 years ago


You can also try Joel's method: don't ban them, just totally hide their interactions in your web site from everybody else. Nobody will see their crap, they won't be sure they are banned or blocked and eventually get bored when nobody replies to their crap. Maybe some will figure it out and send you a harassing mail, but you'll get definitely less crap than today.

answered Oct 11 '10 at 20:06
J. Pablo Fernández
412 points

Your Answer

  • Bold
  • Italic
  • • Bullets
  • 1. Numbers
  • Quote
Not the answer you're looking for? Ask your own question or browse other questions in these topics:

Email Relationships