Top 10 Rulebreaking Reasons, Explanations, Excuses and Complaints

We ask all forum users to follow the Forum Rules. When they don't, our moderators step in. For details see the Moderation FAQs.

To ensure that moderation is carried out consistently and fairly, the moderators work as a team, observing each other's work and discussing any situation that requires it. They follow moderation guidelines that apply equally to all members.

Below are the top 10 reasons, explanations, excuses, and complaints we most often hear after moderation actions, particularly when users claim that their post should not have been moderated or that they should not have received a reminder, warning message, time-out, or ban. If this is the case for you, save yourself and us time and trouble by checking the list below. One of the cases likely applies. If not, let us know and we'll review the situation.

Top 10 Reasons, Explanations, Excuses, and Complaints

1. "I didn't know about the rule."

This could be true. Please take the time to review the rules now since you are held responsible for following them. If you received a reminder or warning message about a rule, the moderators assume that you now know about it. You don't need to reply to reminders or warnings; just follow the rules in the future.

2. "Somebody insulted me so I insulted them back."

Each member is responsible for following the rules in their own posts, no matter what anyone else posts. If another user breaks the forum rules, click the "Report Post" icon next to their post and report it to the moderators so they can take care of it. You can ignore an insulting post made by another user, but rule-breaking by other users does not give you license to break the rules as well.

3. "The moderators singled me out. You punished me and not the other guy."

The moderators don't know forum members personally and have no reason to single anyone out or play favorites, nor do they. They follow moderation guidelines that apply equally to all users. Moderation is handled as privately as possible so you aren't aware of the reminders and warnings issued to other users, only your own. If you and another user both broke the rules (e.g., traded insults) and these posts were reported to the moderators, then they were each handled according to the same guidelines. That does not necessarily mean that discipline matches; if one user's rule-breaking is more serious than the other user's or one user has broken rules before and the other user has not, one user may earn a time-out while the other user receives only a warning.

4. "The moderators are biased."

The moderators are well-practiced in staying neutral when moderating forum discussions. Their team approach, transparency, and supervision ensure that personal opinions do not affect moderation.

5. "It was a minor problem. Nobody cares that I broke the rules."

Most moderation is the result of complaints by other users. Some forum rules are minor, such as off-topic posts. It's the total number of such posts that make the forums less enjoyable for other users. Therefore, we remind users about these rules without making big issues out of them. If you broke a rule thinking nobody would mind, chances are it was a minor rule and it produced only a minor reaction, e.g, a reminder. If you broke a major rule in a way you thought nobody would mind, such as insulting somebody who has an unpopular opinion, it's still breaking the rules.

6. "You let other users break that rule."

No user is allowed to break the rules. Either the post you saw was not breaking the rules or we weren't told about the post. The moderators can't read every message posted every day and don't always catch rule-breaking but they review every post that is reported by forum members. Posts that break the rules are moderated and/or the user informed. If you see posts that break the rules, report them to the moderators. Otherwise, the moderators may never know about them.

7. "My time-out was excessive."

Messages and disciplinary actions are based on the rule involved, the nature of the violation, and any history of prior violations. In most cases users get only reminders or warnings for a first violation of forum rules. For repeated rules violations or violations of the most serious rules (e.g., personal insults), warnings or discipline move up the scale: reminders, warnings, time-outs, longer time-outs, bans. The goal is to get all users to follow the rules.

8. "You should let me link to my own website because it's a great site."

Your website or another site/product/company/service that you are promoting may be great, but the forum rules do not permit accounts to be created or used for promotion or self-promotion. We can't ask the moderators to evaluate other websites or expect them to read your mind; some users have useful websites but other users try to build web traffic, sell something, or shill. Therefore we keep the rule simple: the forums may not be used for promotion.

9. "I was only joking."

The moderators appreciate humor as well as anyone but humor that breaks the rules isn't appropriate. If you insult another user and they are offended, or you post false information as a hoax, later saying "I was just kidding around" is a poor excuse. Users come from different backgrounds and cultures and speak many languages; sarcasm can easily be misjudged and is best avoided.

10. "The moderators made a mistake."

This could be true, since we're all human, but it's unusual. Users who claim this typically don't understand the forum rules. However, if you ask us about a moderation action, we'll review it. If we find that it was handled incorrectly, we'll fix it.