Hellbanning is a practice used by some online community managers for protecting a community against Internet trolls. The practice involves making a user invisible to all other users. From the hellbanned user's perspective, however, they seem to be participating normally in the community. The purpose of hellbanning is to make it impossible for other users to respond to a particular user by rendering their contributions invisible and thereby enforcing the community best practice of "not feeding trolls." It can be used to prevent trolls or malicious users from creating new accounts to continue trolling (often every type of ban is easy to avoid).
Software developer and Stack Overflow co-founder Jeff Atwood describes a theoretical use of hellbanning for Stack Overflow on his programming blog Coding Horror, explaining that when none of the hellbanned user's posts receives a response, he or she will be likely to become bored or frustrated and leave the site.
Hellbanning is or has been used at sites such as Something Awful, Reddit, Fark, and Hacker News. It is sometimes criticized as sneaky or dishonest, because the hellbanned user is unaware they have been hellbanned.
Hellbanning is similar to the practice known as selective invisibility, in which individual comments are rendered invisible to everyone except the poster in order to eliminate disruption they might otherwise cause. Hellbanning is sometimes also called "Coventry" or "ghost posting" or "shadowbanning."
- Atwood, Jeff. "Suspension, Ban or Hellban?". Coding Horror blog. Retrieved 17 December 2011.
- ohjessicamarie. "Hellbanning: The Banishment of Trolls and Other Subhumans (presentation deck)". Slideshare. Retrieved 17 December 2011.
- Thompson, Clive (29 March 2009). "Clive Thompson on the Taming of Comment Trolls". Wired magazine. Retrieved 17 December 2011.