What do you suggest in the place of cultural awareness threads?

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posted on Apr, 2 2007 @ 01:36 PM
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Originally posted by intrepid

Originally posted by phoenixhasrisin
Wow, let me see if I got this right. A member of ATS is expressing his opinion within the T&C's and a moderator is coming out of the wordworks to basically tell the member: love it or leave it?


Please, I've been reading those threads and there's plenty outside of the T&C. As I said, it's the owners site if they want to do away with Social Issues altogether, that's their right. "Love it or leave it"? That's up to you, nothing is keeping you here and no one is telling you to leave. The choice is YOURS. How the site is managed however is not.


I was speaking of now, and besides I'm pretty sure that I have stayed within the T&C's in the other threads as well.

You want to tell me to go check out another site like I don't know what else is out there. I know the merits of ATS which is why I choose to stay.

That does not prevent me from expressing an opinion though especially when within the T&C's . Sorry that you don't like me expressing my opinion, maybe I need to be pre-emptively warned.

As for what could re-place cultural awareness threads, sadly, I think they will turn into the same thing, and also be closed, so nothing.

EDITED TO STAY ON TOPIC:

[edit on 2-4-2007 by phoenixhasrisin]




posted on Apr, 2 2007 @ 01:42 PM
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Originally posted by Tea

Originally posted by riley
maybe they should consider changing said behaviour and not expect ATS management to accomidate it.

Why are you telling me this? I've been behaving.

Really?:

I already work for a bunch of Nazis. Now I have to deal with them at my favorite forum.

If you don't know what I'm talking about you should probably re-read the rules.. or just read them fullstop. The concept of free speach is not about abusing people without consequence.



posted on Apr, 2 2007 @ 01:46 PM
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Originally posted by Tea
I already work for a bunch of Nazis. Now I have to deal with them at my favorite forum.

Thanks.

I think that's enough.

The point has been made.

The reasons are clear, and no one's free expression is being denied.

Why not just see if we can discuss the topic with maturity, rather than complain for the sake of complaining?



posted on Apr, 2 2007 @ 01:48 PM
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If you feel that this move is personally insulting to yourself, maybe you need to reread exactly what has set you off. We have not taken these actions because one specific member behaved inappropriately. Members are acting as if we've banished the discussion for good. No, we've only taken a few strides to guarantee that our members can discuss these subjects in a manner that represents Above Top Secret. Having the same members discuss one topic over several threads is actually pointless. Now if we closed two of these threads, we would have these two members in an uproar while the other four giggle to themselves that the staff has "left them off the hook".

So rather than creating a double standard, we've closed them all for the time being and allow everyone to start from a clean slate.

Comments like "Yawn!" are popping up all over the forum. Or, "Here we go again!". Even members alerting other members what to expect of specific members, and how we should mistreat them. How can any discussion persevere in this atmosphere? But as a staff, how could we possibly moderate it? We did our best with what we had. Unfortunately, it was not a fair representation of what this community stands for.

So in an effort to resolve this problem, we've cleared the air.

Members can start fresh, clean slate, and no preconceived notions will be accepted. If someone steps out of line, they will be held accountable. By restricting this discussion to the threads that were meant for it, we can enforce the T&C appropriately.

As much as this move is to help the staff moderate the boards, it is equally beneficial to the members who are "actually" trying to discuss the subject. The only members that will be impacted by this, are those that can not behave within the Terms & Conditions.

If you can not behave within the T&C of this site, you may have a problem with this. If you can abide by the T&C, I don't see what the big problem is.



posted on Apr, 2 2007 @ 04:20 PM
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Originally posted by Tea
I already work for a bunch of Nazis. Now I have to deal with them at my favorite forum.


Let me get this straight. This forum is sending rail cars full of people to gas ovens, while invading neighboring countries? Most people who are quick to pull out the "Nazi" card don't have the slightest idea what the Nazi movement was responsible for. What's the death toll so far?


[edit on 2-4-2007 by dbates]



posted on Apr, 2 2007 @ 06:10 PM
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Problem: Not Solved

While the thread so far seems to be doing a good job of illustrating the problem, I don't think we're any closer to a solution at this point. Maybe it would help if we revisit the problem.

So, what is the problem?

"Free speech" protestations notwithstanding, AbovePolitics.com (AP), like AboveTopSecret.com (ATS), is a moderated discussion board. The role of the moderators is to enforce the AboveTopSecret.com Terms And Conditions Of Use.

While there is no shortage of specific violations related to these threads that could fill a long list on their own, "Section 8" of the T&C discusses the Right of Community Management, and that's what I'm invoking in this case.

Speaking as the person responsible for managing AbovePolitics.com -- and again, bearing in mind that I very much want AP to be a place where we can talk about racism and other controversial issues -- I'm not happy with what's going on in several of these racism threads.

Last year I wrote this and refer to it often because it explains a principle that's essential to making our community what it is.

Yes, we could go back and hand out warnings to offending members, and in the case of one or two "problem members", that may be enough.

In this case, however, the problem seems somewhat more systemic, something needs to be done about it, and I would strongly prefer we come to a collaborative solution rather than handing out a stack of post bans and red flag warnings.

A Closer Look At The Problem

Here are some examples which illustrate what I'm talking about:

Successful Black Prejudice
Slavery... Who's fault was it?
Real Talk about Minority Privileges !!!
The Lasting Effects of Slavery

In each case, what could be an intelligent and stimulating discussion ultimately devolves into a now-familiar pattern.

The problem is NOT the topic. The problem is that some members seem to be unable to discuss the topic of racism without steering the thread into personal commentary, recriminations and general flaming.

Since we are all personally affected by racism in some way or another, I think I can understand why racism threads tend to go this route.

However, enough members -- both participants and staff -- have complained about this that it's obvious something needs to be done.

Solving The Problem

A valid solution to this problem must meet these conditions:

1. It must put an end to the pattern of abusive and hateful behavior which currently characterizes racism discussions.

2. It must be fair, practical and easy for members to go along with.

3. It must comply with the AboveTopSecret.com Terms And Conditions Of Use.

Anything else is not a solution.

How You Can Help

Like I said: I'm open to ideas.

However, I will not tolerate any further attempts to derail this discussion with insults directed at any member, including staff members, so let's amend that to say I'm open to constructive ideas, and am reopening this thread to encourage my fellow members to help us solve this problem.

To that end, I welcome all constructive comments on the nature of the problem and how we can solve it.



posted on Apr, 2 2007 @ 06:27 PM
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Thank you, Majic for reopening this thread!


As I understand it, the race threads could have remained open if we had all remained civil. As it was, it was too much for the mods to be chasing us down like children all the time. Many of us are guilty of straying from the subject and making the discussion about other posters. I think if we could stay away from that, we'd be successful.

And we have to be tolerant of differences of opinion. Nobody knows everything about the subject and we all have opinions. Nobody is the ultimate authority on race. Our opinions shouldn't be silenced. We can disagree with other's opinions without ridiculing them.

I don't think this is a Free Speech issue as ATS doesn't have Free Speech. But there is room for us all to share our opinions civilly. We are all equal here.

The Staff and Admin here are under no obligation to do something to encourage diversity and tolerance. That's really up to us. We need to be more tolerant. Exhibit tolerance. It's our responsibility, not the board's.

I agree with the closing of the threads, if only to make a demarcation line saying, "From now on we're going to treat this differently." I believe the reason the threads were closed was to create a clean slate. Shutting them all down prevents the case where a person would get warned on page 10 for something someone else did on page 4 and didn't get warned for. This got our attention and hopefully will remind people to be civil.


Originally posted by ImpliedChaos
It seems to me like the staff did not want to go through the trouble of banning/warning the people who broke the rules.


I hate to say it but I have to kind of agree with this. Not that they "didn't want to go through the trouble". After all, pushing a button isn't much trouble, but if you make rules, you need to follow through when people break them. Period. Perhaps a verbal warning when people get close.

If a poster is allowed to skirt the edge of the rules with no repercussions, then pushes it a little more and a little more, then other posters think it's safe to skirt the rules, too, so they take it to the edge. Then, like children, they keep pushing and pushing and it gets kinda cloudy as to where the original line is. And we have a situation like we had in the "race threads".

So, we have to wipe the slate clean and start again.


That's just my take on this.

phoenix? If you're out there? I don't see this as pre-emptive editing and certainly not something that will be done as a matter of course (I hope). Although I understand where you're coming from. It seems if staff warned the people who are causing the trouble, they might not have to shut down threads on the rest of us. But like I indicated above, it's a bit like a Mother coming in the room full of fighting children and screaming, "ALL RIGHT! Everyone shut up and take a time out. We'll not be letting things get to this point in the future"!

Hopefully we can ALL learn from this.



Originally posted by Majic
1. It must put an end to the pattern of abusive and hateful behavior which currently characterizes racism discussions.


When you linked to the offending threads, I was actually hoping that you had linked to specific T&C violations so that we can ALL get a good idea of what "abusive and hateful behavior" is. I'm not sure we're ALL understanding where that line is.


[edit on 2-4-2007 by Benevolent Heretic]



posted on Apr, 2 2007 @ 06:49 PM
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First, a word of appreciation. Mods have a tough job (I've been one on another site), and on the whole I think you guys do well.


One problem I see in this whole mess is that some folks are extremely facile with language, and are able to violate the spirit of the T&C without necessarily violating the letter.

For example, there are cases where poster A disagreed on some points presented by poster B - simple disagreement, along with the reasons why, and B responded with essentially name-calling. But done in a way that is subtle, not explicit, not flagrant. Yet still a violation in spirit of the T&C I believe.

Other examples may be found where poster C presents a point, and poster D says something along the lines of "If you don't like it why don't you...". Quite aggressive, and certainly no benefit to the discussion. Something that could easily be considered harrassment or attacks.

Yet in each case, it would be difficult to point to a word or phrase and say "This right here is a violation of the T&C". Thus making any action on the part of you Mod-types difficult. Which I am sure is no big news to you...


Here is a thought - it would take some work on the part of the admins, and may not be considered worth it, but how about some sort of flag like the 'warn' flags, but of a lesser degree? Something that would call attention to inappropriate behavior, but not so severe as a real warn, just in case the perpetrator did not have evil intention but was just sloppy with language. Maybe an 'alert' or something... yellow flags instead of red. Some way of telling a poster that they are skirting the edge.

The same effect could probably be achieved with a mod quote and edit of the questionable post, but that would take more time for the mod.

Just an idea... may not be workable, but may inspire something that is...



posted on Apr, 2 2007 @ 07:48 PM
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First of all thanks to all of you who make this site possible
I appreciate the effort the owners of this site and mods do. Ladies and gentlemen you are right and all of us have been guilty of less then wonderful behavior to a greater or lesser degree. Time to start again.



posted on Apr, 2 2007 @ 08:07 PM
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I don't think much of anything can be done, except an increase in moderation of the threads. We can't expect posters to put aside our humaness all of the time, and sustain a level of civility that is truly only aspired to, and experienced in a less than full-time capacity.

So maybe the Admin. could entertain the idea of adding more moderators to the Social Issues Forum. Maybe even 'specialized' moderators whose main focus could be topics of racial matters.

I have nominated one member already, but perhaps if more of you (I don't have the time nor desire to moderate others, I use enough energy trying to moderate myself) would like to raise your hands and apply, perhaps the increase could lighten the load of the apparent difficulties the current numbers are having.

Yay? Nay?



posted on Apr, 2 2007 @ 08:15 PM
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my vote is to hand out a stack of warnings or bans. we are all adults, and have read the rules. I think we just need more 'specialized mods' that focus on that topic.



posted on Apr, 2 2007 @ 08:15 PM
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Points Of Order


Originally posted by Open_Minded Skeptic
Yet in each case, it would be difficult to point to a word or phrase and say "This right here is a violation of the T&C". Thus making any action on the part of you Mod-types difficult. Which I am sure is no big news to you...

No, it's definitely not news to us.


There's a lot of T&C-skirting rolled up in this problem, and I think that's one of the reasons things have gotten to this point.

That said, one thing the T&C are clear on involves cooperating with the staff, and we have been granted a great deal of discretion when it comes to moderating discussions.

So even if something isn't technically against the T&C itself, if a mod asks a member to stop doing it, continuing to do it does violate the T&C.

We might see stronger enforcement of that in the future.


Warns, Mini-Warns And Wrist-Slaps


Originally posted by Open_Minded Skeptic
Here is a thought - it would take some work on the part of the admins, and may not be considered worth it, but how about some sort of flag like the 'warn' flags, but of a lesser degree? Something that would call attention to inappropriate behavior, but not so severe as a real warn, just in case the perpetrator did not have evil intention but was just sloppy with language. Maybe an 'alert' or something... yellow flags instead of red. Some way of telling a poster that they are skirting the edge.

Personally, I prefer an incremental approach such as this over say, dropping a ton of bricks on somebody for a misstep or having a bad hair day.


In a sense, we have an incremental approach now with Big Quote and One-Liner warnings (and we get a lot of grief for those, by the way), although a "yellow flag" warning would offer another degree of escalation.

Currently, unless something is just clearly a gross and egregious violation of the T&C, like a profanity-packed rant against another member or a porn pic or something, we usually prefer to edit if necessary, point out the violation and ask the member not to do it again, which usually works fine. We try to save the warns for the bad stuff, and really try not to be heavy-handed with our fellow members.

Over time, however, I think some members learn to take advantage of our good nature and essentially "game" the system. Reevaluating the warning system and providing more options might make it easier to detect and deal with cases like that.

In fact, that may be all that is needed here: just being more aggressive in enforcing the T&C and handling serial offenders more proactively.

Still, if there's a way to set things up so that moderator intervention isn't needed as much, I think that would be best.

There's gotta be a way...





[edit on 4/2/2007 by Majic]



posted on Apr, 2 2007 @ 08:42 PM
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Although I am watching the Big Dance on television, I took the commercial break to briefly say a few remarks:

I thank Majic, the staff and the Administration for re-opening the thread because this is a very important issue that needs to be discussed. I am also very appreciative of the words of other members who took their time out to discuss the issue that is happening in the Social Issues forum.

I am reading over the suggestions and thinking about them. And when my "dance card" clears up in a little while, I will be able to thoughtfully address them.


But, I would like to say now that this is for the good of the board. I also wouldn't have opened this thread, if I didn't think highly of the potential that ATS possesses as being a place that fosters the intellectual promise of everyone, including myself.

And, the "race threads" also contribute this potential of making bridges where there hasn't been before. It truly does have to do with how we thoughtfully respond to one another. It also has to do with how we approach these subjects with full respect to the T and C.

For the most part, I certainly hope that these suggestions will help promote the pragmaticism and vision I know that this board has in terms of inclusivity. And my best wishes are for new ideas that will help us settle the problems of the past and put forth some clear guidelines in which we can treat race-related issues with respect. And if we can achieve this through discussing these problems and coming forth with solutions, then this thread is serving its purpose.


That's all for now! I'm anxiously awaiting more insight into this area! And I hope that some issues that were brought up previously now will be addressed and deeply discussed.


I humbly am very grateful for everyone's participation.




[edit on 2-4-2007 by ceci2006]



posted on Apr, 2 2007 @ 08:58 PM
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Originally posted by Majic
Still, if there's a way to set things up so that moderator intervention isn't needed as much, I think that would be best.


I think that would be best, too. Self-moderation. And I for one, commit to doing that in the future. If I'm getting ready to post, I'm going to read over my post with the thought in my mind, "Am I saying anything here just to 'jab' at someone else or am I expressing my opinion on the subject? Am I talking about the other members or the subject"?

The problem that seems to happen with race threads is that we're talking about ourselves. We're not talking about UFOs or cryptozology or religion, which are all outside of ourselves. We're talking about us. So it's hard to say, " White people use their white privilege to discount others' opinions," without the white people feeling a little put off. Because most of use don't feel that we do that and it feels like an attack. There are so many divisive phrases that become part of race related talks (as Ceci has pointed out) and they do nothing but cause animosity. And they're on "both sides" and they're all just as divisive as the others.

So, I think we either have to allow such phrases and realize that it's just one person's opinion or disallow them. I vote for allowing them. I can always disagree. Then it's one member's opinion against the other's. We CAN disagree. We don't all have to believe one thing when it comes to race, any more than we do when the discussion is about religion or politics.



posted on Apr, 2 2007 @ 08:59 PM
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Originally posted by nextguyinline
I don't think much of anything can be done, except an increase in moderation of the threads. We can't expect posters to put aside our humaness all of the time, and sustain a level of civility that is truly only aspired to, and experienced in a less than full-time capacity.

When you sign up as a member of ATS you agree to abide by the Terms And Conditions Of Use. We may not all be adults, but we certainly know right from wrong and should understand the T&C.
While Moderators help keep the order, it is the duty of EACH member to be responsible for what they post. And to step back when it gets too emotional. Sometimes we offer gentle (or not-so-gentle) suggestion to members to be civil and respectful, but it is up to the individual.

Saying nothing can be done saddens me. To me that means that members are not in control of what they are saying. Surely, society hasn't fallen that far yet.
I do expect members to be human and to be civil and respectful. I don't think that is asking or expecting too much of another human being.



posted on Apr, 2 2007 @ 09:44 PM
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As usual I'm late to the party and I didn't bring beer, but I've got a couple of pennies for ya.

As has pretty much been said, there is no intention at all to banish discussion of racial issues. It's a valid topic and many of our members apparently do want to discuss it, so let's discuss it and everybody wins.

BUT
We need to build a framework for this discussion that ensures that we can all handle it like adults. The staff should not have to run around policing people as if none of us here knew what is and is not acceptable in a civil society.

We have a system for those who refuse to get it, and Majic is onto some good ideas for improving that system, but what we really want is to arrange things so that said system is not heavily used.
We want to define a way of doing things that keeps people level-headed and discussion productive, and we believe that most of our members will deny ignorance and follow that path so that they can hear and be heard on topic without anyone's voice being drowned out by the now-familiar communication breakdowns.

We need to know what our members feel is causing these threads to spiral into hollow tit-for-tat exchanges of accusations and veiled insults, and what kind of guidelines, if followed, will yield constructive discussion.

It would be very easy for staff to just draw up a list of "thou shalt nots" and start bashing people over the head for violating them, but it would be preferable if we, as members, can come to a concensus on what kind of decorum is necessary when dealing with this topic and moderate ourselves as much as humanly possible, limiting the need for staff action only to the real trouble-makers.

So let's get as good of an understanding of the problem as possible from all sides- let's hear from those who are sick of these threads and find out why these threads are such a drag for them, let's find out from the people on both sides of these threads what they think about the threads, etc, and let's hear what everyone thinks will improve those threads.

Just speak with the understanding that there WILL emerge a policy designed to keep the forums orderly for the enjoyment our members, and that those policies will be enforced if they can't be followed willingly. No side of the issue is going to gain sponsorship from the staff- so if you see something that bothers you when done by others and point it out, bear in mind that you also will have to abstain from such behavior.



posted on Apr, 2 2007 @ 09:47 PM
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I'm just being real. Show me one member with a substantial post history, who has sustained that level of civility 100% of the time, and I will be humbled.

Please don't be saddened. I'm just saying that people will be people and to expect them not to be, is an expectation soon to be broken. I'm not giving people carte blanche room to violate the T&C ( which I have agreed to bide by, and do my best to keep ), just trying to say that there is nothing IMO that can be done except what is being done - moderating and reminding people of their T&C commitment.

And by a moderators admission, not sure whom, not important anyway, it was portrayed that race related discussion use up alot of moderator resources, hence my suggestion.

I have as much hope and desire for myself and others to sustain that level of civility, but I try to limit my dissapointments by understanding that people will always be people - and people sometimes stink.



posted on Apr, 2 2007 @ 09:53 PM
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Originally posted by nextguyinline
Show me one member with a substantial post history, who has sustained that level of civility 100% of the time, and I will be humbled.




posted on Apr, 2 2007 @ 09:58 PM
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well said SO. You've humbled us all
.

I hereby swear to try to follow your sterling example. Though I am but a mere mortal, and you a super hero complete with tights; I will try.



posted on Apr, 2 2007 @ 10:11 PM
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saw that one coming...


quote: Originally posted by nextguyinline
Show me one member with a substantial post history, who has sustained that level of civility 100% of the time, and I will be humbled.


I'm gonna dig a little into your history anyway, in a fleeting attempt to save some face.





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