not trying to tell you how to do your job but I'm a mod on other forums so I've encountered this type situation and I've found that it's best to lock the thread with a message explaining why instead of just deleteing it.
As with others, I missed the thread (pretty sure I'm no worse for the wear) but am enjoying the after party!
twostep, I really like your idea of locking a topic at a certain point but then maybe moving it to a new "Topic Section" named "BANNED" or something cheeky like that. If given the chance, I'm a firm believer that most people will govern themselves if given the opportunity. Most of the time (whether in real life or in the virtual world) when we have the chance to take another look at what we've said or how we've behaved we typically are able to see when and where we've veered off course and auto correct.
I manage people at my work and totally get the need for structure, order and discipline. I appreciate the work the site moderators do at keeping this forum headed in a constructive direction. Humans (adult humans in particular) are difficult to manage and keep corralled. I've found at my job one of the best ways to incite order and discipline is to encourage my team to keep themselves and others in check. With that said, is there a way that there could be a mechanism on this site for members and non-members to weigh in regarding another member's words or behaviors and have a say in when their "wings are clipped"? I noticed under my avitar that it says "0 Warning Points". Maybe this is used in the way I'm suggesting.
Just my unsolicited thoughts. I'm off to start my long drive home on roads covered with ball bearings (slippery snow) and hopefully make it home in one piece so I can patch things up with my lovely wife, which after a quick spat this morning, we both walked away with hurt feelings. Several of you tonight have owned up to the part you played in whatever happened in the thread and I commend you all for that.
P.S. Oh and BTW, I agree with Kenny, let's get back to GTTalk.....that's what got me here in the first place.