To my not inconsiderable chagrin, I find myself starting another post by pointing out that a warning isn't a sanction. While receiving a warning may cause one to feel all fluttery and panicked inside, the distinction is an important one. I would also like to stress that if the relevant forum rules are unclear, we're more than willing to discuss a warning with the person who received it - or with anyone else, if the recipient chooses to go public.
Because no one is paying us to moderate this forum, we do base our sanctions on the warning system. If you get three of them within a short time - which we won't specify, because we know from experience that some will abuse that knowledge by flagrantly violating the rules twice and then stepping back from the brink - you get suspended from posting for seven days.
Pusher Robot, when people are suspended, the reason for their suspension is the three warnings they have received. Each warning shows the post it pertains to and describes the infraction.
And it's extremely hard to warn people off for an offence they haven't committed yet, so yes, warnings are there to tell you: "You have actually crossed the line." The "Do so too often again too quickly and you will be suspended", not so much. That may be how it works out in practice, what with us having absolutely no inclination to turn policing this forum into assembling court cases, but the spirit of the thing is that we'd prefer it if you didn't offend again. At all. Ever.
If you continue to offend within a short time of your suspension, the moderators start discussing a ban vote. We are demonstrably slow on the draw with those, and extra attempts to reason with the offending member are often made. And even when someone does end up getting banned, that is not necessarily permanent. After an appropriate cooling period and a profession of genuine willingness to play by the forum rules, even those can get overturned.
Yes, we have chosen not to make warnings public. There's a list of reasons for that, but the most prominent are a) that we're not fans of public shaming and b) that it's none of anyone else's business, but a matter between us and the member in question. Now, before anyone goes and mistakes a mod box in a thread for a warning: don't mistake a mod box in a thread for a warning. Again, if the recipient wishes to make the warning public, perhaps in an attempt to harness the awesome power of public opinion, that's their right. We'll gladly play along. Well, okay, not gladly, but we'll play.