We (Trish, the staff, me) do not ever want to be in a position of becoming "the forum police". We've been put in that position in the past and we are never comfortable with making judgments about what's appropriate for the forums and what's not appropriate.
So, this is a set of features that we've been planning for a long time, and it's finally time to put them in place.
1) You can now ignore other users. If there is another person for whom you simply don't want to see their posts anymore, then go to your preferences and click on "Add or remove members to your ignore list". From there, you can add people to the ignore list. Then in the future, when you run into a post by them, instead of seeing what they wrote, it'll give you a message telling you that the post is hidden per your preferences. You can always remove people from the list if you change your mind. Nobody knows about your list - it is 100% private and nobody will know who you are ignoring.
2) You can now report problem posts. In the post, in the area where you see the acorn/thumb/star icons, is a new red report icon. Clicking on that is safe - it will first take you to a page where it explains what this is, and it gives you a chance to confirm or cancel your report.
If you follow through with the report, then nothing will immediately happen, but a record of the report is made in the system. Then if other people also report the same person, then eventually (and this is not disclosed exactly how this works) the system will automatically
deal with the person by revoking their ability to post to the forum in which the reports were made. After you report the post, you will also be given the option to add that poster to your ignore list.
So if someone is abusing the a specific forum, they may have their posting privileges removed from that forum. They would be able to continue posting in other forums (until they are reported a lot there, too.)
NGA staff does have the power to over-rule any automatic blocks that occur using this tool, although we will not over-rule the community's decision unless it is clear that the system is being abused.
I don't foresee anybody abusing this tool, but the use of the tool will be monitored by me, and if people are abusing it to bully members by reporting content that is clearly not inappropriate, then those members may be prevented from issuing reports in the future. New members can not report posts. Only long-term members with a certain threshold of their own posts will be allowed to report posts.
So, I feel like these two features will be all we need to allow the community to continue to police itself, and keep Garden.org as the friendly gardening community that it always has been.