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IP.Board 3.3 Dev Update: Banning and more SEO tweaks

Anyone that runs a lively and thriving community knows that now and again you have to make the hard decision to ban a member. IP.Board has a powerful set of tools built in to manage this for you and you can ban a member for a set number of days or permanently with a few clicks via the warning system or the ACP member management system.

Currently, there are two ways to ban a member. One is to flag them as banned and the other is to move them into the pre-defined banned group. They both act very similarly and there's a lot of overlap which leads to some confusion as to what the differences are.

Flagging a member as banned will prevent them from viewing the board and contributing to the community. Moving a member to the banned group does the same but at a group level and also removes the member from the member list. This isn't immediately apparent and we do find some administrators get confused. "Do we have to flag as banned and move to the banned group?".

We've simplified this in 3.3 by removing the pre-set banned group for new installations. Now when you flag a member as banned, they are removed from the member list and any friends lists they may be on. Additionally, only super moderators and admins can then view their profile.

I've also ensured that spammers are treated in the same way. When you flag a member as a spammer, they are removed from the member list and any friends lists they may be on.

It's worth noting that existing installations do not get their banned group removed, but any members in the banned group are automatically flagged as banned. You can, if you choose, remove the banned group yourself.

I've taken this a step further to consider the impact on SEO when you flag a member as a spammer or ban a member. You don't really want your members and search engines following profile links that lead to an error, so I've removed the hyperlink for banned members and spammers for anyone that is not a super moderator or admin. This means fewer crawler errors and more importantly less keyword pollution. We all know that most spammers choose keyword rich user names that you don't want associated with your community!

The new warning tools have been updated to allow you to move banned members into a group of your own choosing if you'd like to keep group-level organisation.

I'd like to wrap up this entry with a quick mention on some other SEO tweaks. I read a great little entry by Enkidu yesterday on his blog. He suggested some quick tweaks to remove unimportant keywords like 'category' and 'forum'. I've gone ahead and implemented his suggestions.

This will help reduce keyword noise and increase keyword density for keywords you want to focus on. The screenshot below shows the changes in action. Note how many times the category name is now repeated:

These changes and updates further our goals to increase SEO, improve moderator tools and clean up interface elements in IP.Board 3.3.0!

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