Suspending users - make it mandatory for a curator to provide a reason?

Hey folks,

As the main person who answers emails at help@inaturalist.org, I get emails from users who have been suspended by curators and are asking for their accounts to be reinstated. This usually causes me to message the curator who suspended the user, which means I’m bothering the curator and it’s taking me a longer time to get back to the suspended user.

So I would propose that we now make a curator provide a reason for suspending a user, and that reason would be viewable by staff only, for now, just to make investigating the situation easier on everyone. I also believe it would really help us think about why we are suspending them, and improve transparency.

Eventually I would like to have some sort of curator section for each user so that curators can see a record of past curatorial actions and/or discuss the user, but that is not something that would be implemented anytime soon.

Anyhoo, let me know what you think.

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Sounds good to me.

I agree in the future who suspended the user and their reason should also be visible to other people who are helping out with moderation efforts (i.e. not those who are just interested in curating the taxonomy).

(Generally we also need a more detailed guide for when it is acceptable to suspend someone, e.g. I don’t think the 3 copyrighted images “rule” that Scott added recently was added anywhere but this page: https://www.inaturalist.org/pages/fabricated_data, but that’s a larger discussion.)

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If you do it, you also need to capture / account for the times the suspension is automatic, such as an accumulation of spam flags.

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Making it mandatory to provide a reason for suspending a user seems clearly good to me. I’m surprised it wasn’t already mandatory.

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Right now we capture the user ID of the curator who suspended the user, and it remains blank when they are automatically suspended due to spam flags, so those are pretty easy to suss out.

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I agree that this all is a good idea.

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Cool, I’ve filed an issue. Thanks!

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Piggybacking on this thread, since it’s somewhat related…

I have a person who wants to use iNaturalist, but had their account suspended after only an hour or so of them using the app (they mentioned this as a joke as a comment on my blog). I tried searching for their username and their email address, but nothing comes up for me (normally, as a curator, I could see suspended users in the past–has this changed recently?).

I don’t know if there is an anti-spam algorithm that automatically bans accounts (I think there is, that’s what I told this user probably happened, because I’ve had another person I recruited into iNat had their account suspended an hour after they joined as well!).

So, can curators still see suspended accounts? Is there anything we can do when legitimate non-spammy users need help getting reinstated, or do we just need to direct them to the help@inaturalist.org email?

Thanks!

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Curators can definitely still view suspended profiles and unsuspend users. Did they give you the correct username? If it was flagged as spam, it won’t appear in the header search (even for curators), but you can still navigate directly to the URL of the profile page. From there you can unsuspend them and/or mark as a non-spammer.

There is an automatic anti-spam process on iNat (Akismet) and I frequently (several times a week) have to unsuspend normal users who were accidentally caught up in it. Not sure if anyone else is looking out for these but I know I’d personally be pretty demotivated to participate if my account were suspended for no reason, which is why I spend time trying to fix it. See related topic https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/false-positive-spam-flag-resolution/1343

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THANK YOU! I didn’t realize they wouldn’t pop up in search. I found their profile and fixed it.

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This makes complete sense

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In regards to tracking suspensions: at current time, if a user is suspended, unsuspended, and re-suspended, is each action—and who committed each action—documented?

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How can a user suspended automatically as spam like https://www.inaturalist.org/users/1977335 unsuspended ?

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Curators can do it, assuming they know they username to look for, or find it if they are digging through the list of suspended user flags. I’ve done it in this case.

The user should also encounter a message when they try to log in with directions on how to email the site for help.

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Right now, if someone is suspended iNat staff can see who suspended the user. Unsuspensions and resuspenisons might be logged somewhere, but not easily accessible.

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Sounds fine to me. Surely the only curators who would disapprove are those who would want to anonymously suspend someone!!