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I admit that this is a matter of curiosity only.

I have seen users that are suspended for different periods of time which will vary (greatly) from one user to the next.

As a matter of avoiding such a punishment, what kinds of activities generally result in suspension? What determines the amount of time an account is suspended?

(I saw an account on another stack that is suspended until the year 2023!)

  • See this main meta post for the main reasons, although I think there are others; I'm sure I saw someone suspended on this site for plagiarism. This meta talks further about durations. – Jenayah Apr 4 at 22:30
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    A suspension is unlikely to come out of the blue to be honest - its usually for fairly clear cut poor behavior if it doesn't come with any warning, for example gaming the system by creating sockpuppet accounts, spam advertising or exceptionally abusive behavior. Bans for anti-social behavior, such as rudeness or continually asking questions that get downvoted or closed ramp up - and almost always the first communication from the moderators has no ban associated with it. – iandotkelly Apr 4 at 23:07
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    My point is ... I wouldn't live in fear of a ban. Although we are people and therefore liable to make mistakes, our first inclination is not to reach for the ban hammer. – iandotkelly Apr 4 at 23:09
  • Thank you @iandotkelly - I have had one of my questions be closed and have negative vote count. It has an answer (which I accepted), so I can't remove it but my other questions and answers are generally positive. I have a better understanding of the guidelines here – m1gp0z Apr 5 at 13:22
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You can't really say exactly which actions result in a suspension, let alone how long. There are a variety of behaviours that can ultimately result in a suspension and it's hard to list them all, especially since moderation is done by intelligent beings rather than robots checking activity statistics. The reasons are manifold, from simple rudeness, over voting fraud, to repeated spamming of low-quality content. Basically, behaviour that's generally destructive to the community, be that socially or technically. Suspensions are mostly a way to give you and the community a timeout to calm down and recover from whatever happened, but yes, they also can have a punitive aspect to them. A general overview can be gained from this blog post.

But they are also an extreme measure and pretty much the last line of defense. In the usual case, you will have been contacted, warned or otherwise tried to be reasoned with by the moderators before a suspension happens. It doesn't just plop out of nothing, unless it is rather urgent, like stopping you from vandalizing your posts right now. If you're asking this out of fear of getting suspended for stumbling over the wrong stone, chances are high you'd be much aware that a suspension is likely way before it happens.

As to the amount of time, it depends. There is a general guideline of a week for the first one, a month for the next one and a year after that. This is usually adhered to, but might be varied (in either direction) based on other factors, like general network history, relation between suspension reasons, or careful judgment by the moderators. However, when you see something like a 10 year suspension, this is something absolutely rare for either particularly egregious cases or weird special conditions. Those are done by the SE staff themselves (site moderators can only ever suspend for 1 year maximum) and happen maybe a couple of times ever on the whole network.

  • This makes a lot of sense, thank you – m1gp0z Apr 5 at 13:23

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