[moderator action] Eugine_Nier is now banned for mass downvote harassment

As pre­vi­ously dis­cussed, on June 6th I re­ceived a mes­sage from jackk, a Trike Ad­min. He re­ported that the user Jiro had asked Trike to carry out an in­ves­ti­ga­tion to the re­tribu­tive down­vot­ing that Jiro had been sub­jected to. The in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­vealed that the user Eug­ine_Nier had down­voted over half of Jiro’s com­ments, amount­ing to hun­dreds of down­votes.

I asked the com­mu­nity’s guidance on deal­ing with the is­sue, and while the mat­ter was be­ing dis­cussed, I also re­viewed pre­vi­ous dis­cus­sions about mass down­vot­ing and looked for other peo­ple who men­tioned be­ing the vic­tims of it. I asked Jack to com­pile re­ports on sev­eral other users who men­tioned hav­ing been mass-down­voted, and it turned out that Eug­ine was also over­whelm­ingly the biggest down­voter of users David_Ger­ard, dae­narys, fale­nas108, iald­abaoth, shminux, and Tenoke. As this dis­cus­sion was go­ing on, it turned out that user An­der had also been tar­geted by Eug­ine.

I sent two mes­sages to Eug­ine, re­quest­ing an ex­pla­na­tion. I re­ceived a re­sponse to­day. Eug­ine ad­mit­ted his guilt, ex­press­ing the opinion that LW’s karma sys­tem was failing to carry out its pur­pose of keep­ing out weak ma­te­rial and that he was en­gaged in a “weed­ing” of users who he did not think dis­played suffi­cient ra­tio­nal­ity.

Need­less to say, it is not the place of in­di­vi­d­ual users to unilat­er­ally de­cide that some­one else should be “weeded” out of the com­mu­nity. The Less Wrong con­tent dele­tion policy con­tains this clause:

Har­rass­ment of in­di­vi­d­ual users.

If we de­ter­mine that you’re e.g. fol­low­ing a par­tic­u­lar user around and leav­ing in­sult­ing com­ments to them, we re­serve the right to delete those com­ments. (This has hap­pened ex­tremely rarely.)

Although the word­ing does not ex­plic­itly men­tion down­vot­ing, ha­rass­ment by down­vot­ing is still ha­rass­ment. Sev­eral users have in­di­cated that they have ex­pe­rienced con­sid­er­able emo­tional an­guish from the ha­rass­ment, and have in some cases been dis­cour­aged from us­ing Less Wrong at all. This is not a de­sir­able state of af­fairs, to say the least.

I was origi­nally given my mod­er­a­tor pow­ers on a rather ad-hoc ba­sis, with some­one award­ing mod priv­ileges to the ten users with the high­est karma at the time. The origi­nal pur­pose for that ap­point­ment was just to delete spam. Nonethe­less, since re­tribu­tive down­vot­ing has been a clear prob­lem for the com­mu­nity, I asked the com­mu­nity for guidance on deal­ing with the is­sue. The rough con­sen­sus of the re­sponses seemed to au­tho­rize me to deal with the prob­lem as I deemed ap­pro­pri­ate.

The fact that Eug­ine re­mained quiet about his guilt un­til di­rectly con­fronted with the ev­i­dence, de­spite sev­eral pub­lic dis­cus­sions of the is­sue, is in­dica­tive of him re­al­iz­ing that he was break­ing pre­vailing so­cial norms. Eug­ine’s ac­tions have wors­ened the at­mo­sphere of this site, and that at­mo­sphere will re­main trou­bled for as long as he is al­lowed to re­main here.

There­fore, I now an­nounce that Eug­ine_Nier is per­ma­nently banned from post­ing on LessWrong. This de­ci­sion is fi­nal and will not be changed in re­sponse to pos­si­ble fol­low-up ob­jec­tions.

Un­for­tu­nately, it looks like while a ban pre­vents post­ing, it does not ac­tu­ally block a user from cast­ing votes. I have asked jackk to look into the mat­ter and find a way to ac­tu­ally stop the down­vot­ing. Jack in­di­cated ear­lier on that it would be tech­ni­cally straight­for­ward to ap­ply a nega­tive karma mod­ifier to Eug­ine’s ac­count, and wiping out Eug­ine’s karma bal­ance would pre­vent him from cast­ing fu­ture down­votes. What­ever the eas­iest solu­tion is, it will be ap­plied as soon as pos­si­ble.

EDIT 24 July 2014: Banned users are now pro­hibited from vot­ing.