Banning is usually a form of punishment from the service, either by deleting the guilty party's account or suspending it for a period of time. In extreme cases, the person's IP address may be blocked from the server to prevent them from simply creating another account, sometimes indefinitely; however, this particular action is rarely taken, as most Internet Service Providers allocate dynamic IPs to their customers which can change from time to time. These actions are usually invoked for such offenses as violating the website's Terms of Service, trolling, promoting prejudice, disrespect of moderators, or promoting illegal acts.
The term originated in 1996 from MSN Chat where administrator's ban icon was a hammer. The term has become commonplace now in the game sales community and among game forums. The name has been used in more mainstream venues, such as Halo 2 and Halo 3 video game for the Xbox console. Developers Bungie used the term "banhammer" when describing a July 2005 patch that scanned the user's hard drive and summarily restricted him or her from joining Xbox Live without possibility of appeal or leniency if it was determined that his or her copy had been modded. News site Slashdot began using the term at that point and has subsequently applied it to multiple instances of similar housecleaning occurring on World of Warcraft.
In other games such as Blizzard's StarCraft, the host has a hammer icon next to his or her name and is able to boot people from the chat along with the ability to ban people from the channel for a specified time period. The banhammer has even made an appearance in the RPG The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, where it can be found on the corpse of an NPC. Valve CEO Gabe Newell's inventory in Team Fortress 2, when examined using a third-party inspection tool, displays only one item, a "Vintage Ban Hammer".
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