Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

If you've been permanently banned from a site there might be ways around it. But there's really only one correct approach.

My son plays an online game where many teens ask each other "a/s/l" (Age/Sex/Location).

According to my son, he was unaware that this was against the game's rules. He asked a player that and ended up getting a "perm ban".

I am extremely frustrated because the game does not allow my son to even make new accounts on the game. I'm frustrated as well because I spent money on this game for my son buying him credits towards purchasing things on the game.

With that being said, is it possible to get my computer un-banned so that he is able to make a new account and continue to play? I've tried renewing the IP for him, uninstalling shockwave and reinstalling it, deleting registry keys, etc.

What you've outlined should serve as a reminder to all to be familiar with the terms of service, or "the rules", for any online service you happen to use. Ultimately, if you violate those rules - to which you had to agree in order to begin using the service - the service has every right to kick you off, permanently even, if you violate them.

We'll look at things to try, both technical and practical.

The very first thing I would do - particularly since you're the parent in this scenario - is contact the site owner or support staff to request the un-banning. In all honesty, this is the only truly ethical approach to the situation that could result in regaining access.

"The very first thing I would do ... is contact the site owner or support staff to request the un-banning."

Explain the situation as best you can. Be polite (anger at any perceived injustice is only likely to make matters worse), indicate that your son made an honest mistake and that it won't happen again. See if they have any flexibility in their response.

Again, they're not required to let your son back in. In fact, in an environment where people are hyper-sensitive to online predation it's very possible that they're required to take these actions if only for purposes of liability. It's possible that their lawyers won't let them reverse a decision once made.

However, if you can actually reach someone and explain an honest error it's possible that they might.

The only other truly ethical approach is to give up. Walk away having learned a hard lesson.

Bypassing bans can be very difficult, but occasionally possible. It all depends on the exact technology that the service uses to identify you.

IP address blocks are the most common. Getting a new IP address isn't always as easy as we might think. You indicated that you renewed your IP address, but in fact that's just as likely to have given you the same IP address as before. If you have a static IP, contact your ISP. If you have a dynamic IP you might try leaving whatever device is connected directly to the internet off (typically a router) for a couple of days. Even so, IP bans can also be placed on entire ranges of IP addresses, so it's possible that even a new IP on the same connection would still be banned. The only real solution then is to get a new ISP, a new internet service, or to move to a new location, all of which seem drastic. (You could run through an IP anonymization service, but those are also frequently already banned, and often impact performance in ways that cause problems for online games.)

Cookies are the most ineffective way to ban. Clear your cookies, and if that's the approach they used, then you'll no longer be banned. Since it's that easy, it's also very rare.

Registry Information works as a banning approach if the site or game includes software that runs on or is installed on your machine. As you might expect, the keys are often obscured so as to make what you've attempted - simply deleting the keys - much more difficult. Uninstalling the program or just looking for keys in the registry that match the game or site name is not likely to work. The good news here is that if this approach is used there are two solutions that are likely to bypass the block: use a different machine, or reformat the original machine. The bad news is that both techniques are somewhat extreme (and of course, not guaranteed.)

Hidden Information can be used as well. Much like registry information, an application could store a secret file somewhere that's not obviously associated with the program that's not deleted when the program is uninstalled. This isn't particularly common, and once again a different or reformatted machine should side-step it.

Required Information is an often overlooked technique, but actually fairly common. This has nothing to do with your computer or technology. You indicated that you paid for some portion of this service, at which point your payment method - be it PayPal, a credit card or something else - does uniquely identify you. You might try using a different payment method. Even your contact email address can be used in this manner.

There are probably other techniques that I'm missing, but you get the idea. For every technique used to ban someone, there are things you can try that may, or may not, circumvent the ban. There just aren't any guarantees.

I still recommend contacting the game's support people and pleading your case there.

Article C3824 - July 31, 2009 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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18 Comments
Original Asker
August 4, 2009 7:26 AM

Thanks Leo! I appreciate your time and effort in every question (especially this one). I agree that he needs to learn a lesson somehow, and perhaps this may be the only way.

I've tried contacting the the player support team but, I've had no response. I've read other places that calling by phone the player support team would be more advantageous.

Thanks again!

Robert Pereda
August 4, 2009 8:24 AM

Some sites are a bit more forgiving than others. For example, if you get suspended from Ebay it is very difficult to get your account reinstated. They ask you for proof of your calim and they do a lengthy investigation with no guarantees of reinstatement.

Be careful about creating a new account under a different name - they eventually will do audits and if they find that an active account is related to a suspended account- you will be suspended for good!

[link removed]

josh
August 4, 2009 8:40 AM

The boy should have made an effort to understand the games guidelines. The question "a/s/l" is not seen as appropriate for anyone underage online due to predation and safety. If you ask me, you are better off quitting the game. Also, i think you will have a very hard time proving your case to the admins.

Lesson learnt, the hard way. it's aweful, but occasionally necessary.

Think from the administrators perspective. Suspicious and innapropriate questions/statements come from a player, who they don't know their age, sex, location - the response is to block such a person regardless, for legal and moral protection.

whs
August 4, 2009 9:57 AM

This site should be congratulated. They apparently do a very responsible job. The kids that use those sites must live to learn by the rules - and the parents should not find excuses for them. Life goes on. There are other games.

Dan
August 4, 2009 10:01 AM

Even if he can't get the ban lifted he should be able to get any monies spent refunded I should think.

tanq
August 4, 2009 2:17 PM

Hey brother try out any mac address chanfer like s-mac2.0 or t-mac or any software like that. Dont feel bad, this happens Cheers to all

Moo Kahn
August 4, 2009 2:59 PM

Let me see... you're a parent who is OK with your kid giving out ASL information on the 'net. So OK with it in fact, you're going to the ends of the earth to try and get "him" reinstated. If this is true, YOU should be banned... from parenting. There are a couple of lessons here 1)ASL is not something you give out to strangers online, in any situation...and.... 2)Your actions have consequences... suck it up and don't do it again.

Going to an online help site for advice to help your rogue son out either paints you as a meddling parent, or a complete fool, and I don't buy it.

But could it possibly be, sir, that "your son" is really YOU?

Setting aside the possible subterfuge, you're assuming that kids can't learn. I disagree. It's totally possible that the kid made a mistake, has suffered appropriate consequences and/or "learned his lesson", and acknowledging that his parent wants to get him back on. Seem's just as possible as any scenario you've described. "One strike and you're out" isn't always the best approach.
Leo
05-Aug-2009
Thom
August 4, 2009 3:05 PM

I agree with you Leo, and more so with whs' response. Too many parents are not strict enough with their children, and they expect others to be the same way. The best lesson for him is letting it sink in that life sometimes doesn't give second chances.

Gina
August 4, 2009 6:48 PM

You may have missed a very good 'teaching moment' with your child by trying to circumvent the rules instead of teaching him that you HAVE to read--and obey--rules! I agree with Leo in that contacting the company and being honest is probably your best option. You didn't say how young your son is, but if he is fairly young, they may be more willing to reinstate his membership--especially after you tell them that other members had asked your son that same question! (I would also ask them very nicely if those who asked your son the same question were also banned)! Whatever happens though, I would agree that you should be entitled to get your money back.

There are other reasons your son (and you) should read rules, terms and EULAs (End User License Agreements).....SO many people install malware in their computers and/or give up their privacy by not reading the terms and learning what they're agreeing to before joining a site or downloading a site's software. 'Incredimail' and 'Smiley Central' are 2 good examples....If the people who use these programs had taken a few minutes to read the terms, they'd have run like heck before they got to the third paragraph!

Good luck!

Andrew Knutson
August 4, 2009 8:30 PM

I was blocked from Digg once, never knew why. I sent an E to them asking for some insight on what happened and they re-instated me, still didn't know what caused the problem.

ausGeoff
August 5, 2009 12:59 AM

I'd also be very suspicious Leo, about an alleged "parent" asking how their "son" can circumvent an adolescents' site banning members for asking a/s/l. IF this is a legitimate enquiry (which I'm hoping it is) then as a responsible parent, I'd be questioning my son as to WHY he's apparently so desperate to participate in a games site whose members ask these sorts of primary identifying questions at all.

I'd also be questioning him very closely about why he chose to ask the a/s/l question, apparently unprompted. Does it really matter in cyberspace? Other than for nefarious reasons -- of course not.

And my commendation the the games site for enforcing their strict -- but fully justified -- rules about banning,

johnpro
August 5, 2009 1:52 AM

It is normal to ask personal info about folk ..happens as part of life eg what job are you in{none of their business of course}
Unfortuntely for legal reasons in litigation junkie land, the providers of online entertainment and content have to be extra careful to cover there legal responsibilities.
As for getting unbanned .. try initially to contact them Trying to circumvent the ban may lead to further trouble.

JP

Jim
August 8, 2009 5:42 PM

It's sad to see the rush to judgement and label this as a predator trying to gain re-admission to his/her hunting grounds. I don't know that in over a decade of using computers for all sorts of things that I ever read an entire EULA for a forum, game, or any piece of software. I doubt one in five hundred people do. I recall a piece of software I saw once that would "read" and somehow display out of the ordinary requirements and important points of EULAs. I doubt it generated much interest because most people as as ambivalent to EULAS as car owner manuals i wonder about the context and timing of the forbidden questions here. Were they asked over the course of an extended exchange? Maybe days or weeks or even right at the outset in enthusiasm to make new friends? I don't think it is too outlandish to think kids speaking to each other in a game would forget they are being monitored. I don't think it is difficult to imagine them asking each other their age: HA! I'm only 12 and I am kicking your butt! Their gender: Are you a girl because you sure play like one!(Please- no offense intended in that comment! This is a kid talking!) And especially the location: Where are you from? Since people from all over the world play these games why is it impossible to think such a question wouldn't arise? Wouldn't it be neat to strike up friendships with kids from other countries? I have made friends with people from Turkey, Russia, Germany, and other places through forums I belong to and from eBay. Maybe these sites need to add an audio reminder that's brief and specific about what's banned from discussion and the consequences from breaking the rules.

canyncarvr
August 11, 2009 12:00 PM

Two things:

1. 'Setting aside possible subterfuge...'

The question smells of that to high heaven!!

2. '..you're assuming kids can't learn.'

That isn't valid in this case. It's not a matter of learning or not..it's a matter of what's at issue in the first place.

So...you find your (underage) duaghter is a pot smoker..and uses the web to advertise herself as 'available' in trade for the weed.

Is talking to her about this under the mistaken impression that she can learn something going to accomplish anything?

Heck no! She is WAY past listening..WAY past learning ANYthing!

I'm not saying one situation is just like the other. They are related, though. There is NO WAY a kid, having just the sense they were born with, would publicize a/s/l on a GAME forum. Not any kid with a parent with even the SLIGHTEST clue as to ANYthing.

The kid messed up, for sure. Having Mommy intent on trying to fix it up SCREAMS of a wrong-headed mommy.

Briggett
September 1, 2009 11:56 AM

My daughter got banned from a site that she and I uses, now I can't get on the site, why is that and how can I about to get back on that site?

Bob
September 21, 2009 3:18 AM

@Briggett:

The answer to your question is on Leo's article.

Another quite useful trick for sites which require you to set up accounts is to just set up an account on an unblocked computer, and then log in from the blocked one- quite a few IP address blocks don't apply if you log in with an unblocked account.

I think it's a legitimate question to ask. I've seen a few examples where people have been blocked for illegitimate reasons, by mistake, or because someone else was messing around. In some cases an IP is blocked, and is later assigned to another person who has never been to the site before! So there can be legitimate cases where circumventing bans is necessary.

teresA
July 13, 2010 8:32 AM

how do i get unbanned from site that liked and did nt do anything to deserve being banned and they tried accusing me of havin two accounts which i do not how do i fix this the site is ifunspace

Contact the site owners or admins and make your case. They have control and final say.
Leo
14-Jul-2010

AN Other
January 14, 2011 6:23 AM

I was stupid at 16 on some forum, engaging in non-illegal but just juvenile behaviour, but got banned for it, and even my college were involved. Ironically a porn spammer got off without any punishment.
Double-standards? Yes, but it's their site.
I'm 23 now, and understand things better.

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