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A soft ban is a short name for a permanent or semi-permanent gag of all sections. Soft bans are issued when a user becomes a constant burden to moderation. If the moderation team observes that it is consistently devoting more time resources to a particular user due to behavior issues, at some point a soft ban will be considered and usually implemented.
The soft ban is less severe than a total ban in that it permits the user to remain on the site and perform some functions and observe the community without being able to interact with it. Soft bans can be lifted and can be re-instituted or elevated to a ban.