That is a good topic to discuss. Thank you, Carl, for bringing that up.
First, and I realize this is semantics, but I am strongly against spanking. Spanking is, I feel, violence which is counterproductive. I would not look on any of my statements as spanking, but as discussion. It is not that I spanked a toddler, which the language you used draws an image of. Rather, I brought a volunteer employee into my office and had a discussion with them about their behavior. Most of the discussion went on in private, so you did not see that.
The discussion involved me talking, and the volunteer yelling. I stayed seated and attempted to treat my volunteer with respect, and the volunteer used a raised voice and language which many would count as abusive. In the end, the volunteer turned and stalked out, making sure everyone in the office was very aware of their leaving and why. As Carl said, it was very much a "loud protest leaving".
The person could of course simply stopped coming to the forum. One individual hadn't been on the forum in a month anyway. The fact that they left in the way they did clearly has meaning.
So I wanted to clarify the context of the situation. I did not "spank" anyone. What I did was have mature conversations with people who were not always respectful and even-toned in response. The conversations were about some of the language they had chosen to post in the forums.
If we want to use the sporting metaphor, the 'trolls' were banned. They were ejected from the game and kicked out of the league. You cannot get any more "final" than that. But you are implying that the people who stomped their boots on the trolls' heads after a hip-check should not have gotten yellow flags. I would reiterate that as a fair-minded referee I cannot allow "special members" to get away with being extremely nasty because they have somehow "earned that right" to do it to "people they felt deserved it".