Obvious references means the reference is obvious to a mod.
All broken rules are not equal - and when deciding on punishment the overall contribution of the poster is considered. But, when the rule is clear and the punishment is defined, there can be no flex.
Madman Producer decided that harassing a poster he didn't like was more important than contributing to the community - even though he was told exactly what would happen if he did that (one month ban). His ban was his choice.