Voluntary, selective, mutual hellbanning

We all know what hellbans are: it’s when a poster is the only one who can see their own posts, but is not informed of their invisibility to everyone else. Diabolically effective at dealing with certain types of troublesome user.

Sometimes, however, I wonder if it would be a neat trick to do something similar, but only for specific pairs of users.

In other words, you’d make it so that person A cannot see person B’s posts – and maybe vice versa. And maybe voluntarily: it could be a form of highly selective hellbanning, to reduce tension between two otherwise productive members of a community.

Or it could be something you set up yourself: “Hellban me from being seen by person B”

No, I’m not naming any names!

I have fantasized that there are two BoingBoings with different audiences. You feed the right one based on cookies or something. Funnel undesirables off to the “other” BB where all the awful people are while the enlightened crowd gets the cool feed ( with comments ON PAGE! )

Code name “short bus”


We did kick around the idea of adding an “ignore” list, but conversation can get real weird if you start doing that.

Hellbanning, errorbanning and slowbanning are all things I usually dislike, though I am very tempted to slowban spammers, heck even through in a javascript bomb that forces them to eat up a chunk of cpu time.

Javascript bitcoin miner that donates to Boingboing.


I think b3ta has one of those. There are times when I’d like one, to use as a temporary mute. I wish Twitter would let me do that when someone I follow suddenly starts posting every minute and swamps my feed.

I must admit, I’d never heard of hellbans before. Sounds diabolical indeed. The VSMH you describe sounds like a neat idea in a weird meta way, but I find it hard to imagine that anyone would volunteer for it.

As for the vanilla hellban itself, it kinda gives me chills. It’s not exactly capital punishment or anything, but I wouldn’t wish it on my own worst enemy hereabouts. (Probably because the people that bug me the most on BB don’t really bug me all that much. Sometimes I’ll engage with them to offer dissent. Other times I’ll ignore them. BB is, in my own incredibly subjective experience, one of the least toxic communities on the web I’ve ever experienced.)

As a temporary “time out” button it makes more sense. Still very hard technically to make a person disappear without a trace, there are a zillion ways their content can slip through.

One example: if a person you are “timing out” or “ignoring” replies to a topic, that bounces the topic. But you don’t see them, so it’s a ghost bounce to you – the topic just appears at the top for no apparent reason, right?

More on hellbanning:

Another example: somebody quoting another user. Or replying to them. Do you search all posts for @ mention to certain users as well? What if somebody replies to them without directly replying to their post, and doesn’t @ mention them but instead uses their username? And what if their username is a common word? A hellban on a person is one thing, so that they don’t know they’re invisible. I can’t see selective hellbanning being an easy thing to implement, especially not in an involuntary manner (where you don’t know that you can’t see user Y’s posts).

Yeah it is, uh, “hellishly” complicated to get right.

So on top of the sociological reasons not to do it – for the long term health of your community, you really need to banish your negative, hateful users, not just sweep them under the rug – the technical reasons alone are incredibly daunting.

1 Like

This topic was automatically closed after 1263 days. New replies are no longer allowed.