posted on Nov, 27 2004 @ 07:38 PM
Thanks to all for the feedback, for which I am grateful. I am familiar with some of the responses along the lines of “if you want a better board, do
something about it”, and have preached that message many times in many different places myself. It was, in fact, with that principle in mind that I
started this thread.
Of course, it has been brought up that maybe the real problem lies not with ATS, but with me. At least, it’s hard not to gather that impression from
Springer’s post, and some of the other responses in the thread. Certainly, it would be unwise for me to assume that my perspective on the
situation here isn’t strongly influenced by my own peculiarities.
Maybe it is “board burn”, and the problems I am pointing out either don’t exist or aren’t as bad as I am suggesting. I have been cruising
various sorts of online discussion forums since the dial-up BBS days of the ‘80s (I still reflexively allow for a 300-baud echo delay when I type) and
the Golden Age of USENET in the ‘90s (I spent many a long night sifting through alt.conspiracy -- those were the days), so I am familiar with the
I did give that possibility some thought before posting my “TBIGD” post (you should know that I rarely make such posts formally, by the way -- this is
a rather unique case), and agree that “board burn” may be a factor. How much of a factor I must leave to others to decide, and recuse myself from that
However, having experienced “board burn” several times before, my experience with it is that it has more to do with a saturation of a given range of
topics and the “interest level” I have felt than with such basics as Netiquette and SNR -- although they are always factors to some extent or
I left alt.flame, for example -- where flaming is always on topic -- because I grew tired of flaming. Ironically, my disinterest came from a
lack of decent flamage in that case, paradoxically both a parallel and mirror image of my complaint here.
For me, if not for others, “board burn” occurs when I have exhausted what I see as the potential of the board. As far as I know, I haven’t hit that
wall with ATS yet, but maybe I am blind to what others can plainly see.
Restating The Problem
My problem with ATS isn’t its charter or topics -- they are excellent and of keen interest to me. What is degrading my experience and driving me away
are the ubiquitous posts by trolls and flamers that poison every forum on ATS.
If someone posts an article that is “iffy”, as so many of them are, we discuss that and see what shakes out. But when a thread is hijacked in the
first few posts by yet another flame featuring ad hominem attacks, mindless cut-and-pastes lifted off of activist/propagandist websites and yet
another dose of hateful bigotry, it poisons the discussion.
The worst part is seeing that first nasty post drag otherwise positive members into the muck and derail the thread -- again and again and again and
again. I have been there myself more times than I wish to say, and it is a miserable thing to witness, let alone be a part of. When entire forums are
consumed by this sort of disruption, there is no discussion.
This sort of thing will happen, of course, and is difficult if not impossible to prevent on a public forum. At some point, however, such posts become
so predictable that contributors come to expect them. I know for a fact that I didn’t use to flinch before posting on ATS, wondering how quickly a
thread of sincere interest would be derailed by roaming bands of trolls. Maybe the passage of time has dulled my memory.
At some point, the flamers and trolls become an accepted part of the culture and community. Once that happens, the rest is history repeating itself
yet again as that which legitimate users seek becomes harder and harder to find.
Am I The Problem?
As for whether my own posts contribute positively to ATS or not, I can say only that they must speak for themselves -- good or ill -- and are the sole
public record of my participation in the forums. Probably more to the point, however, I don’t see my post quality as being particularly germane to the
topic at hand -- unless I am a habitual flamer indulging in some public hypocrisy, so I’ll leave it at that.
I suppose I must clarify that my criticisms of the situation here on ATS are not as much that general post quality is down, per se, but rather that
the effects and poisonous nature of those posts which violate the T&C contribute a chill to what I see as the kinds of discussion ATS exists to
accommodate, and that there are too many of such posts.
To try to clear up one apparent misperception, some responses in this thread seem to suggest that I am holding the ATS staff unfairly responsible for
the quality of the content of the site while absolving the members of their responsibilities. This is not true -- I know who is writing what, because
their names appear with their posts. I know the staff does not write all the posts and is not responsible for their content.
If someone writes an abusive post, it’s obviously not the fault of the ATS staff. But when someone repeatedly posts in violation of the ATS T&C, I
expect the staff to do something about it. More importantly, I expect the staff to take effective steps to discourage abuse from occurring in the
So at an individual level, of course I don’t hold ATS staff accountable for post quality. But at an aggregate level, I most certainly do hold ATS
staff accountable. My sense is that the staff is currently behind the curve in this area, and that it is hopefully a temporary condition resulting
from a bitter U.S. election cycle.
However, not all the trolls have left, and more seem to be piling on, encouraged by the trollery they see that is already on the boards, and which
persists in the database long after a given troll is banned (years, in fact).
A single troll can leave a foul and permanent stench on every polluted thread and plant the seeds for the nascence of new trolls. That is just one of
the long list of things that are bad about trolls.
If I am right about this phenomenon, then it will get worse unless stern measures are implemented to stop it.
Much Ado About Nothing
Is the problem temporary? I hope so! If I thought it was not, I would never have bothered to post this thread in the first place, and would have
simply stopped posting as I have on other boards that I deemed hopeless. I consider ATS temporarily troubled, but not hopeless, or I wouldn’t bother
posting here at all.
However, like all temporary problems, they will never be solved unless effective steps are taken to solve them. With my criticism, I have offered
suggestions. I don’t expect all or even any of them to necessarily be implemented, but by offering them, I can at least hope that they may inspire
I say there’s a growing problem, others may disagree, and that’s how discussions take place. I have no problem with that. I could be tragically
mistaken about all this. Perhaps I’m just being a drama queen, and maybe the only problem here lies with me. I can accept that possibility and try
working with it.
I have already adjusted how I approach ATS, and can make further adjustments as needed. There’s always a way. Don’t worry about me, I’ll be fine. My
concern in this case is with ATS and its future, not how I spend my free time, for which I have limitless options.
I advise caution when sizing up messengers for target practice, however, because doing so both indicates and exacerbates a wide range of problems of
If I am wrong in believing that there is a problem, then there is no harm in dismissing my warnings as misguided and irrelevant. If I am right,
however, doing so has consequences beyond rebuffing a single member.
[edit on 11/27/2004 by Majic]