Let me go on record that I do not agree with Superpunk at all in regards to what merits a ban. I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum compared to him on that argument.
However, I have a suggestion that might avoid an outburst like his in the future.
Has the staff ever considered being maybe a little more transparent in regards to discipline and bans? It occurs to me that often an issue like what Superpunk has happens when a banned member communicates with someone here and essentially badmouths the forums, then the members don't get the side of the story from the staff as a counterpoint. If the wrong story is the only story out there, it tends to become the believed story. As Hostile said, "Anyone who does not like the way this site is run and is listening to people who have been banned is listening to one half of the story."
Now, I believe it is their fault that they're believing that half of the story, but some people need all the facts to make a decision. I've seen from time to time members make comments like, "So and so was banned?! Why? What happened? What'd they do?" They're questions are often met with silence or vague answers. If a longtime poster is banned (and trust me, I agree with every banning that has happened here since I've joined), then it's almost as if they're treated as if they've never existed.
My suggestion is to maybe create a thread or area that says "User A was banned for the following reasons..." and then close the thread so no one can respond. It's an explanation, but not meant to start an argument or defense or trial of sorts. It's just there to let everyone know what happened and stands as sort of an example. And maybe it can be for the members that were banned after, say, 1000 posts. Those that did have an impact to the community that would actually be missed by some people. And it's posted with the understanding that if anyone takes it further than that, infractions will follow. It will, however, create the solution of people asking about the banned member or only believing communication from that banned member without the other side of the story.
Now, I understand the negatives to this suggestion. It creates an area of the forums that is without a doubt negative, whereas the goal is to create an overall positive atmosphere. However, I don't think it will really impact the Zone simply to the community's huge size and traffic level. It wouldn't work on a smaller forum, but here, I think it will. People are going to come and post here no matter what. The only people that will look at the "Banned Records" will be the ones that want to know.
I'll completely understand if this idea is completely shot down. I'm not sure I'd do it myself. I've run and currently run a large sci-fi forum community myself, and I get the negatives to this idea. I can also see the positives for some people. It's worth a thought, at least.
Jason Garrett spit in the parking lot this morning...
That spit knows more about football than any of us.