A new feature that has opened up to the Administrators and Moderators following the move to SMF 2.0 is the Warning Feature.
What this allows us to do is place a member on a "watch list" after multiple minor offences in a short space of time, or "mute" a member if they absolutely overstep the mark. "Mute" makes the entire forum read-only to an offender, which means they are unable to post, vote in polls, send private messages, etc.
The function works on a sliding scale between 0% and 100%. Members are watched at 50% and muted at 100%.
The default length of time a member is either watched or muted is 24 hours, but this may vary upwards or downwards depending on the circumstances.
In some instances this will serve as a method to help us avoid lengthier bans as people are muted for a few hours to allow them to settle down after an outburst or two, or it may be a precursor to a lengthier ban. Used in the latter way it's a method for us to stop people from posting while a breach of the rules is reviewed by the Admin Team. In the past users have been able to post for hours or even days before being banned, this will stop that.
Warnings will typically be accompanied by a notification, which appears in the form of a PM. This will direct the member to the offending post/s and will include an explanation of the the process. A notification will then normally be followed-up by a member of the Admin Team or a Moderator explaining what further action will be taken, if any.
Hopefully this will work as a bridge between banning people outright and letting things that deserve a slap on the wrist slip by unpunished, but we'll see how it goes.