Recently the Tip.It Admins declared an amnesty and withdrew the bans of a large number of members who had previously been banned for conduct unbecoming a Tip.It member. The unbanning was pretty comprehensive and all but a few serious offenders were pardoned and welcomed back to the fold. I asked the Admins about the rationale behind the mass unbanning – in short, they said:
"An awful lot of people have been banned over the past while, and the Administrators felt it was time to wipe the slate clean, so to speak. Now while it may have been nice to be a little more selective about which users deserved amnesty and which didn’t, the Administrators decided that, to be fair, everyone should get the same second chance. Well, except for the really bad offenders, that is."
This is, of course, yet one more thing that differentiates Tip.It from other web sites out there. We don't hold grudges. Well, not often and only with great justification, but in general we're willing to let bygones be bygones and encourage members to return to our forums. So welcome back all of you (and whatever it was that got you banned before – don’t do it again!).
To the best of my knowledge this sort of thing doesn't happen often. But is there any reason why it shouldn't?
Permanent banning is the ultimate sanction. It’s the gaming equivalent of a death sentence. If your ban is on an online game site, you’re out of the game. Gone. Finished. Forever. It’s a penalty that should be reserved for the serious offenders, the major scammers, the real-world traders, the macroers and other such cheats. People whose actions "break" the game and spoil it for the honest players should be permanently banned. But permanent banning is an inappropriate sanction for lesser offences. A short-term ban should be sufficient as a wake up call for those players and give them an incentive to clean up their act.
Other sites in the gaming world appear to have a rather heavy-handed attitude towards banning, and seem to permanently ban people for relatively minor offences. It is the Editor’s personal opinion that this is a counter-productive strategy and tends to foster an antagonistic "us versus them" attitude amongst players. If the rules were a little less punitive and allowed players to explain their side of events leading up to a ban, relations would be less strained with complaints and thus a little less stressed.
No one is suggesting that people who have seriously abused bugs, stolen items from other players worth millions of in-game money, and otherwise created havoc in an online game deserve to be forgiven; but by far, the majority of players who've been banned were banned for lesser offences and should maybe be given a second chance.
Perhaps those people whose accounts were banned for bad language, for recommending websites that provide game help, or who were suspected of account sharing when giving gifts to real life friends or family, or other similar minor offences, should have their accounts restored. These are, in general, people who weren’t spoiling the game for others (well, the bad language maybe, but that’s another story!), and who didn’t do anyone any harm. They certainly don’t deserve to lose access to their favourite gaming site or fansite permanently for such relatively small indiscretions.
What would it cost to do this? Sure, staff would have to spend the time resetting accounts and maybe researching a member’s record. And perhaps they’d have to write up an announcement about the amnesty, like Tip.It has done. That's a negligible cost, in my view.
But what would it get them? Well, not much in monetary terms. However, in the intangible world of good will and customer relations, it would bring them immense good credit. Sometimes your reputation is worth more than a few dollars.
Tip.It has unbanned people out of good will. Because the Admins, Mods and Crew (including your humble Editor) believe that it's worth giving people a second chance. We believe that most of the people who were banned have learned a lesson from their banishment and that letting them back into the forums will benefit all of us. We think they will return to the forums both more willing and more able to contribute to the discussions without resorting to the behaviours that got them banned in the first place. We valued and enjoyed their contributions prior to the offences that got them banned, and we see no reason why that shouldn't be the case again.
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