Yea, I agree, the mods could be less harsh on the bans, if I was a mod here's a little list I would consult every time I was about to crack out my ban stick:
1) incredibly useless pots that have nothing to do with the current topic
2) flaming, self-explanatory
3) back-seat modding, I would allow this to an extent, and when said extent is reached, BANHAMMER!
4) all caps posting, it's yelling
5) creating an alt to evade a ban
The following is the list of length of the ban:
breaking rule 1) that gets you a 12 hour ban
breaking rule 2) that gets you a 30 hour ban
breaking rule 3) that gets you a 7 day ban
breaking rule 4) that gets you a 5 day ban
breaking rule 5) that gets you either a 15 day ban, a 30 day ban, or if you do it multiple times, PERMA BAN!
That's how I would do it. Feel free to add to these lists and whatnot.