Sirlin asserts that a ban is only warranted in the most extreme cases. He gives the example of Akuma from Street Fighter II, a character who is (no doubt in part due to this article) notoriously overpowered, as being something that is worthy of being banned.
I bring all this up, because I agree with Sirlin's points. However, he neglects to explain why regulation ought to be left only to the most extreme cases. In my mind, there are two reasons that only things extremely degrading to a game warrant regulation. They are:
1. Maintaining a competitive standard is easier with fewer rules.
2. Bans discourage exploration of the game's mechanics.
Competitive standards are important. They give us an objective scale upon which we measure our success in-game, and a standard to practice by.
For example, let's say that I like playing as a mage, so I usually PvP with one. Then I go and play in a tournament where sorceries are banned. All the effort I put into learning how to play as a mage is worthless in this tournament. Thus, the tournament is not objective with regard to player skill. Anybody who has invested effort into learning a mage is disadvantaged compared to those who have not.
If it was very standard to have sorceries banned, if that was something that 100% of tournaments ran, then I am to blame for wasting my time playing a mage. But when only a fraction of tournaments and FC's ban sorcery, you cannot rightfully blame a player for using them. They become a victim of a weak competitive standard. The objective measure of player skill is muddied because the playerbase cannot come to agreement over what should be banned.
This is a real problem in the Dark Souls community. In any given FC I participate in, oftentimes only a fraction of my builds are usable due to unforeseeable, shifting rules. Maybe one FC bans BS fishing and I can no longer use my Greatbow build. Some other FC bans turtling and now it's pointless for me to use my Estoc. Yet another FC bans weapon buffs, now any hybrid build I may be running is worthless. It is ridiculous that this should be an issue.
The more rules the community comes up with, the more diverse rulesets will be among various FC's and tournaments. Having a strict standard for what warrants regulation means less rules, and more consistent enforcement among the community.
However, while not trivial, the importance of a competitive standard pales in comparison to how frequent bans and heavy regulation affects the mindset of the playerbase. Frequent regulation leads to complacency. Instead of exploring the games strategy and learning how to overcome challenges, people advocate a ban.
Worse yet, many players defend regulation by claiming that they encourage exploration of the game. They claim that by banning an effective, commonly used tactic, they are forcing players to learn how to use less-common tactics. This sounds logical, but it is short-sighted. By banning something, you are voiding the need to explore the game to find counters to it, and thus severing off a part of the game forever.
I can think of no better example to demonstrate this with than chainstabs. Early in the game's life, people used chainstabs a lot and found them incredibly difficult to deal with. So chainstabs became taboo. And how many people know how to backstep on wake-up? Instant-tracking into a parry or an attack? How many people even know about the two-phase wake-up after a backstab? All of these can be used to beat chainstabbing, all of them can work consistently, and all of them are obscure knowledge because nobody needs to know how to beat a tactic that nobody uses.
I find it ridiculous that chainstabs (and many other things) are taboo. There is a wealth of strategy and gameplay being buried under the knee-jerk reaction and decision to ban something that never needed to be banned. When I'm playing against somebody who knows how to beat chainstabs, I almost never use them. Not because I think it would be rude or cheap, but because they suck.
Anyways, the point is, there are actual real consequences to rampant regulation. These consequences are, in my opinion, not worth incurring except under extreme cases. It is the developer's job to balance the game. Failing that, it is not the players' jobs to balance the game, to encourage diversity, or to fine-tune the viability of different options. It is merely our job to prevent the game from falling utterly apart. It is the only task of balance we can reliably perform as a community if we want to have any consistency among ourselves.