The Court Of Public Opinion
A long time ago, I proposed something very similar to an "ATS Counrt" in this infamous thread:
On ATS, Ignorance Is Winning
Needless to say, that was quite a drama fest.
The ownership of ATS politely rejected my suggestion, despite the fact that it came from a member who always knew better and had the benefit of staff
experience on a gaming forum
(believe it or not, some gaming forums are known to spawn a little drama now and then).
So naturally I was right and the admins were foolish for not seeing that.
Over time, as I became more familiar with the ATS community and how the staff handles things, I came to realize that maybe, just maybe
Amigos actually know what they're doing.
That lesson was really
driven home when I became a Councilor (there's a whole dramatic story behind that, too) and got a chance to peek behind
the curtain and see just what it is that the staff does around here.
That doesn't mean that the Amigos or the rest of us staff members are infallible. Far from it.
We're human, we screw up all the time and -- thankfully -- the system allows for that and gives us a chance to correct our mistakes.
The Not-So-Hidden Agenda
Without seeing what actually goes on in Cosmic, the Complaints forum and countless U2Us, it is natural to assume the worst when staff action becomes
visible (warns, bans, etc.).
After all, this is a conspiracy community, so it's inevitable that the owners and staff of ATS will fall under suspicion -- which is ironic when you
consider that nobody is being forced to be a member here, but I'll save all that for one of the hundreds of other threads where ATS is accused of
In fact, and speaking as a long-time witness to how the ATS staff actually handles things, there's really no hidden agenda at all.
The agenda is to provide a place where people can discuss conspiracies and "alternative" topics honestly without fear of abuse or reprisal.
The AboveTopSecret.com Terms And Conditions Of Use
define this agenda, and they
are the "Bible" for the staff when we deal with board- and member-related issues and problems.
There's nothing secret about that at all.
Having dealt both publicly and privately with many members in my capacity as a moderator, I am very satisfied that the way we handle things now is
about as good as it gets.
There is no rigid or automatic system of mandatory punishment or minimum sentences. We handle each case on an individual basis, and deal with each
member on an individual basis.
While some members might accuse us of uneven enforcement or favoritism, there is simply no substitute for having real human beings deal with the
problems we have to deal with.
Everyone is unique, and the way the ATS staff interacts with members respects that fact.
The Court Of Private Opinion
As for a court, there already is one, of sorts: Cosmic. Moderators routinely alert other mods to problems when they encounter them, and ask for advice
about how to proceed if they have any doubts. We keep each other very
As a Councilor, I was very big on public transparency regarding Council deliberations, but as a moderator, I have seen firsthand the importance of
avoiding unnecessary drama when dealing with member problems.
Aside from respecting member privacy, it goes a long way to prevent minor issues from turning into major blowouts.
If I send you a U2U asking you to cool it in some thread, no one else needs to know about it unless you want them to.
If I were to parade your posts around in a public forum and taunt you mercilessly for your anti-T&C ways, would that really
be fair to you?
As it is, we do have "public floggings": red-flag warnings. And having BANNED MEMBER as a member title is analogous to a "public execution".
But most of our dealings and negotiations with members occur via U2U, without fanfare, and having seen how well that works, I wouldn't want it any
Don't Ignore Trouble
If someone is violating the T&C
, instead of hitting "ignore", please
report the problem
As noted above, we do NOT reply to all complaints. But we do read them all and we do take action where it is warranted. It may not be obvious because
we tend to be discreet where we can.
Why? Because board drama is not why ATS is here.
It distracts from the real reason ATS exists, which is to...
...or perhaps "Ignore-ance".
Getting back to the original topic of this thread, I actually complained about the ten-member limit on the ignore list myself, not too long after
I really liked being able to ignore people I thought too crass or boorish to merit my attention.
Over time, however, as with my "people's court" suggestion, I came to realize that there is wisdom in limiting that feature as well.
The ignore list is not unlike "training wheels" for ATS. After a while, you shouldn't need it anymore.
At least, that's the way it worked out for me.
[edit on 10/16/2006 by Majic]