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I'm surprised that no one has yet mentioned the technique of "disemvoweling" nuisance posts pioneered on nielsenhayden.com/makinglight. The idea is to signal disapproval and a warning not by deleting previous disruptive posts, but by making them look ridiculous. (Th pst cn stll b rd wth sm ffrt, bt t dsn't dsrpt th cnvrstn nymr) This is then combined with flagging a user for moderation for some time period - so that there's a delay between when they post and when it appears, but also so that future posts are examined by a moderator before going live. It's been pretty effective there, and on boingboing. Of course, this requires some active forum moderators, which might not scale to the stackoverflow/stackexchange model. (Then again, it might if moderators only responded when things were flagged)
Toggle Commented Jun 7, 2011 on Suspension, Ban or Hellban? at Coding Horror