A warning system is a great way to keep track of troublesome members on a large board. Invision Power Board has done an excellent job of creating such a system on their software. However, it can be confusing to set up such a system and implement it properly. If used correctly, this function can ease the management of your board and save you tons of time.
This article will deal with Invision Power Board 2.1.x, however the instructions can easily be adapted to fit most versions of IPB. To access the Warn Set-Up, first log into your administration center and click on the “Tools & Settings” tab. Then select “Warn Set-up” which is by default the last item in the list. This will bring you to the Warn set-up page. Here, you can control all the technical aspects of the warning system.
The main options (other than enabling the warn system) deal with the configuration of the warning levels. The Minimum Warn Level is generally fine when set to zero for a normal warning system. It’s the Maximum Warn level that it really important. This determines how much percent of a user’s warn level is increased each time they are warned. To figure out the percentage per warning, you divide 100 by the maximum warn level. So if you set the maximum warn level to 5, each warning increases the warn level by 20%. Usually 5 is a good level for this. The next option is protected groups. Choose groups that cannot be warned here. This is used when you allow moderators to warn people. This way you as admin, or your global moderators, can be exempt from being warned. If you want members to see their own warning levels, choose yes for the next option. This is really personal preference, but I like to allow members to know why they have been warned so I select yes. If you want warnings to continue once the max has been reached, select yes on the next option, however if you set up a discipline system for users who have reached maximum warnings, there really is no need to enable this. The last option in this section is the visual indicator type. Since this is a warning system and not a rating or approval system, select the warn mode with graphical blocks & percentages.
Before we discuss moderator permissions for warning, I want to talk about how to make a warn system effective. Warnings will mean nothing to the user unless they are backed up with some kind of action. One way to put force behind these warnings is to create a discipline system to back up the warnings. We’ll use the maximum warning level of 5 for this example. When a user gets warned for the first time, it could be a simple warning with no punishment attached. At a second warning, however, a 5 hour moderator preview would be added to the offending account. At 60% a 3 day moderator preview could be enforced and at 80% the member would lose posting ability for a week. At 100% you could either suspend their account or IP ban the user if needed. While these are just suggestions, they lay a good framework for setting up a discipline system to enforce warnings. All these options, except for the IP ban, can be selected via the warning panel used to warn members. It is useful to post these disciplinary guidelines in your forum rules so members understand what will happen if they misbehave.
The final part of the warn system to set up is the permissions for moderators and global moderators. These next two sections let you choose who can warn, how often they can warn, and what punishments can they issue. If you want to allow moderators and global moderators warn members, be sure to enable the first option. I suggest yes for both of these. The second and third options (mod queue and removing post rights) depend on your system of discipline with warning and how much you trust your moderators. Finally, the last text field is to decide how many times a day a moderator/global moderator can warn a single member. Usually a moderator can warn a member less than a global moderator. You don’t want to let a moderator warn someone to their max in one day, but you still want to allow them to punish a troublesome member accordingly.
The IPB warning system is probably of the most useful features added to a forum software, if used correctly. It can save an admin (and moderators) hours of time and can create a fair and organized system to deal with users that violate forum rules.