We use ban to mean both temporarily suspended and perma-banned forever. This is something that irks Johnny. I'm trying to use 'suspended' for non permanent bans, and perma-ban for perm ones.
HOW INVESTIGATIONS WORK
1. We see something or get a report of something
2. We request more info including logs/screenshots/whatever else
3. Based on what we receive we corroborate as best we can
4. We talk to the players involved
5. We gather everything into a document and if we anyone feels it is sufficient to merit a vote, they propose a vote to suspend/ban the player and name an amount of time for the suspension or ban. No second is needed.
6. All admin (excluding Support GMs) then have the opportunity to vote aye, nay, or abstain. They may also debate the vote, including the length of the ban, which may result in an amendment to the original vote.
7. The vote stays active for 24-48 hours if needed, but typically a majority is reached one way or another within a few hours on average.
8A. If the vote is to ban/suspend the player, they are notified via xhelp if online, and celled. If they are offline, they are celled and emailed. A remind is then set to remove the block on access to their character.
8B. If the vote is to not ban/suspend, they are released from the void and into a safe place or coffin, and notified that they are free to go. If further information surfaces in the future, the issue will be reopened and reinvestigated, and revoted on.
We have investigated who and what we can. We have suspended some folks. Not naming names, not giving counts. Not everyone who was accused was banned. Why? There was not verifiable evidence. Just because someone says something happened, or claims to have seen it, or claims to have a log, or provides a text log, does not mean that something actually happened.
THINGS ADMIN DO NOT DO
1. Post who was banned (unless it is a perma ban and it was egregious cheating)
2. Reveal who was banned
3. Reveal how long someone was banned for (outside of a perma, typically)
4. Reveal the evidence to the person being banned, no matter how hard they ask for it. This can be frustrating, but most of the time the evidence comes from another player, and we don't want that person to suffer any negative repercussions for being a good member of the community.
As I've outlined, the admin have the unenviable task of gathering and reviewing the evidence and making a judgement call on if it is enough to remove someone from the game, and for how long. This involves verifying the legitimacy of the evidence that has been presented to us, as well as trying to understand if there could be a secondary motive by whomever is presenting the evidence that we might need to consider (someone looking to get an IC enemy removed from the game).
We also have to be aware that it is possible to fake evidence, and that just because a text file exists that says someone did something, does not automatically mean that it happened or was not doctored. In some cases, we can verify logs with corroboration between multiple parties, or through other methods like checking our own logs and time stamps, but even in situations where we can do that, there are times where some of a log may be real, and some may be doctored, and we have no way of knowing.
WHEN WE INVESTIGATE
We investigate any time we are provided with evidence someone has cheated. That does not mean that every investigation results in a ban.
Recently, we have had to do a number of investigations, several of which resulted in suspensions, and many of which, did not. Why did some result in suspensions and not others? Because in some case we were able to verify the partial legitimacy of things like a text log but not the entire log. Or (most commonly) accusations were made and evidence was not provided. In other cases, evidence was provided that we did not have faith in the legitimacy of.
There ends up being a lot of misinformation about who was banned, for what, when, and who was not banned, why they should have been, if they should have been, why that happened, etc.
Nothing we can do about this. People spread misinformation even when they don't mean to. If you chance upon information about someone being banned, by hearing something you shouldn't on a mischan, or putting together someones break from game with the disappearance of a character, or someone randomly emails you a chat log, I ask that you keep it to yourself and not contribute to further muddying of the waters.
Hopefully this has been informative and you now have a better understanding of how this process works.