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The ATS Issues Thread

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posted on May, 19 2008 @ 01:31 PM
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The Definitive ATS Issues Post



As one might imagine, our increasing popularity and apparent success has inspired a degree of speculation in certain circles about our identities, integrity, and intentions. Some of this speculation is based on old and error-riddled assumptions, some is based in flights of fancy, and others on outright lies. Hopefully, this post will serve as a single-source resolution for these issues, at least for those with a reasonable degree of logic.




The Origins of COINTELPRO Rumors

Nearly three years ago, another conspiracy-centric website published a derivative work of one of our popular 9/11 threads. While this was in direct conflict with our clearly-linked Creative Commons usage guidelines, we requested that they simply link back, and give credit to, the original thread on ATS. They refused, and "flew off the handle" with a flurry of baseless accusations that were apparently inspired by this joke post: ATS IP Traces to CIA.

The "IP's" in the clearly labeled April Fools post were listed as 213.206.128, 213.206.129, 213.206.130. First, never mind that, at the time, an actual traceroute to abovetopsecret.com would give you the IP of 66.98.176.42, in reality the stated IP's are not IP's at all, they're class-C ranges, which resolve to:
213.206.128.0-255 -- Sprintlink UK
213.206.129.0-255 -- Sprintlink UK
213.206.130.0-255 -- Sprintlink UK
Clearly, fact-checking is non-existent for those who would like to cast aspersions in our direction. However, that joke post (with April Fools indication removed) has been used hundreds of times by dozens of people as "proof" of our nefarious origins and resulting inspiration of COINTELPRO madness.



We Are Who We Claim To Be

Part of the resulting fallout from the error-prone assumptions based on the IP-address joke was a great deal of speculation about our identities, and that we are not who we claim. There's also been a round of new speculation that I'm actually in Australia or that "Simon Gray" never really existed.

Well, we've been very-clear about who we are here and here, among several other places. It's crystal clear that we formed The Above Network, LLC which is a delaware corporation that accepted a minority investment position from a small group of SEC accredited investors. With that mind, if we are not Bill Irvine of New York, Mark Allin of Oklahoma, and Simon Gray of the UK, that would be a serious fraud on two levels, state and federal; one with the State of Delaware, and the other with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.



We Do Not Monitor Private U2U Messages

Some people have made the errant assumption, based on a variety of reasons, that we routinely look at the private U2U messages of our members. The fact is, nearly all "off the shelf" forum systems grant administrators the capability to review all private messages of any user, on demand. In fact, we include this message below the form to create a U2U here on ATS: Please Note: Your U2U communications are subject to review in the event we receive reports of private communications outside the boundaries of the site Terms & Conditions. Abusive private messages may result in immediate account termination.

However; how many forums, boards, or other user-generated content venues have a privacy policy as clear-cut as ours? In fact, it has contained wording on this very issue for some time: Members are provided with a private messaging system (U2U service) as part of their account privileges. Every reasonable effort is made to ensure the private messaging system is maintained in a secure fashion so as to ensure the privacy of any and all messages sent between members. Staff and/or owners will not observe the content or flow of any private messaging unless explicit reports of Terms & Conditions violations are received. The private messages may be subject to run-time content filtering (such as vulgarities) that is used to filter the content of thread posts.

Whenever this issue comes up, I urge those who believe we're doing anything that is contrary to our privacy policy (including the review of private U2U's) to take the steps to report us to the appropriate parties (in the U.S., it would be your state's Attorney General). It is rather serious for a website hosted in the U.S. to engage in activity that conflicts with their publicly posted privacy policy.



We Do Not Owe To Our Corporate Advertisers

First, none of the ads currently running on ATS are from advertisers who have specifically bought space on our site(s). As we've repeatedly stated, all display advertising is obtained through a variety of networks that distribute millions of banners to thousands of websites every day. The advertisers in these networks pay very-cheap rates to be "filler" ads on a broad range of websites, rather than higher-rates to be targeted on specific sites.

Second, whenever we have received ad dollars from specific advertisers (Paramount Pictures, Sumo Lounge, A&E Television) we've been up-front and transparent about who they are and what the ads are for. Also, we've always audited their ads to ensure their ad technology and landing-page processes are compatible with our own privacy policies.

Third, and most important, our Online Media Kit as well as our hard-copy version contains this wording: The nature of the content and discussions on AboveTopSecret.com may be provocative at times. While a significant effort continually ensures the style and tone of discussions remain civilized and polite, the actual topics being discussed may not always suit every brand. We feel it is important to embrace and encourage productive free expression within intelligent and adult decorum. Brands who also support such an environment are surely going to benefit from the resulting perception. However, at no time will we accept editorial input, control, or guidance from an advertiser. We make it clear, up-front, that advertisers cannot influence the content on ATS in any way.



ATS Has Gone Corporate

Well, in a way, yes. However, between the content of our Corporate Site, our Press Release on the matter, our gala Anniversary Party, and even our old post on ATS = Altruism - Trust - Sincerity, we've been consistent in communicating our long-term goals. And nothing states those goals more clearly than the wording on our corporate site:

The user is no longer "in charge." One-to-one communications between brands and consumers is obsolete. The crowd has taken over with a new collective intellect that surpasses any one expert. The dominance of the digital crowd is upon us.

We believe in the crowd. We support the free expression of ideas, information, hopes, and conjecture as vital building blocks toward a historic degree of collaborative knowledge.

We support the crowd. We believe in the self-determination of the crowd and its ability to know how to express and recognize issues, ideas, and knowledge of vital importance to society.

We know the culture of the digital crowd is one of collaboration driven by the ethics of sharing.

We enable the crowd to collaborate and share. We are above petty attacks, disputes, "flames," and personality focus. We aspire to higher standards of conduct. We anticipate excellence of each other. We are the crowd. We are The Above Network.


The vision of our Content Ecosystem requires capital in order to construct a system of channels that expand on ATS and deliver our member's content to more people, more often, in more ways. We've adopted a corporate mindset and business plan, in order to promote what you do here.



ATS Manages Some Types Of Content

We are ardent supporters of free expression and the free exchange of ideas. To us, nothing is more important than ensuring that the compelling thoughts, ideas, and speculation of our members is promoted to the highest possible extent. But experience and the history of online discussion venues has taught us one simple lesson, many people are not so interested in good ideas as they are a good fight. All too often, in other venues, we see otherwise good ideas smothered in the back-and-forth bickering of ego conflicts, or the childish overindulgence of vulgarities and off-color topics.

Over four years ago, we decided the topic was the most important thing on ATS. And to ensure that, we adopted several rules of decorum and a handful of topics to avoid. For the most part, the "rules" are the rather simple common social graces we all use in real life, but which many tend to toss-aside once online. So, yes, on a daily basis a variety of content is removed or replaced in order to enforce our desire for decorum and/or restrict certain topics (drugs, hacking, hate, etc.). Unfortunately, some people feel this is "censorship," but we've never hidden the simple fact that such material is subject to removal.

Clearly, our strategy has worked. Since instituting the rules of content and decorum, our monthly traffic has grown from something less than 100,000 unique visitors a month, to over 1.2 million. The amazing part is that over 90% of all of our traffic comes from non-member visitors who find ATS and read what our members have to say. And even more important, mainstream news and media is sourcing our members in coverage of the important stories that began here on ATS... that would never happen if there was swearing, bickering, and drug-related topics.



ATS Does Not Unfairly Ban People

People are always banned for clear violations of our Terms & Conditions. Or, for issues related to the very-last paragraph of the T&C:

This is a privately owned discussion board community. The Owners and senior moderator staff reserve the right to take action against any member who is deemed to be devoted purely to disruption, whose actions represent behavior contrary to community building, or whose content is contrary to the core ideals of AboveTopSecret.com. This action may include complete banning of your username and IP address.

From time to time, there haven been members that, for one reason or another, require an inordinate amount of attention from our site staff, but who may not have had a gross violation of a specific item of the T&C. At this point, it typically becomes clear that such members are devoted primarily to disruption rather than the topics on ATS, and their accounts are banned.

Unfortunately, misconceptions often arise from this aspect of managing ATS. From time to time popular members get caught up in their popularity (and D-ego) and become a problem... it's unfortunate that this causes a disruption with an online circle of friends that had been developed on ATS... but we must focus on the large majority of users and visitors. Others tend to think this type of banning is designed to silence their particular opinion... but nothing could be further from the truth... typically, the intensely passionate have trouble managing the civility of their online interactions.

Often times, the reaction is that bannings wre "unfair" or part of "fascist tactics," but in fact is all part of our successful formula for ensuring the topics get their due.



ATS Does Not Use Spyware

A recent question resurfaced the issue of the phenomenon of cookies being mistaken as "spyware" on ATS. Our Privacy Policy lists the companies (with URL's) that could delivery banner advertising on ATS (but not all at once, usually only 5-7 are active at any given time). These advertisers use an item known as a "tracking cookie" to optimize the delivery of ads to you, and the cookies contain no personal data (but may reference whatever personal information you may have volunteered to the ad serving companies). The optimization is typically in the form of ensuring you see a range of advertising throughout the day, and not the same ads over and over. For more information on cookies and ATS, visit these threads...
The conspiracy of "tracking cookie" paranoia
ATS and spyware/cookies






Those are the top-most "burning" issues that tend to come up most-often... the first four being the most common, and now, clearly refuted.

As more "hot issues" are identified and responded-to in this thread, I'll update this post so that it remains as the single-source go-to post for these and related questions.







[edit on 23-5-2008 by SkepticOverlord]




posted on May, 19 2008 @ 01:32 PM
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reply to post by cindymars
 


I think it may have something to do with the "time travel hoax" he tried to execute here at ATS. My personal opinion is that he had help from another banned member called timedrifter.

It all seems to fit.

CT



posted on May, 19 2008 @ 01:33 PM
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Originally posted by cindymars
I am a bit afraid to ask this question but why was onthedeck banned.

We typically don't discuss the reasons for a member's banning, unless there is very-good reason to do so.

Sorry.



posted on May, 19 2008 @ 01:44 PM
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reply to post by SkepticOverlord
 


Can you elaborate on what the very good reasons would be?

I myself think it would be better to get it all out in the open as soon as possible.

It would cut down the so called board wars that get started when a disgruntled ex ATS member has an axe to grind finds somewhere that allows such grinding.

CT



posted on May, 19 2008 @ 01:45 PM
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With reference to the above post about banning:
Question for you, SO: What about the folks over at A.K. who say they were banned for no violations, and never received a warning or a notice that they had been banned? There must be at least 75 people or more who are making this claim. I can see where 1 or 2 people might be cranks, but 75 or so?
Can you please clear this up? I am confused. I'm not trying to cause trouble, I'm just curious and confused. Nor do I believe you are COINTELPRO.



posted on May, 19 2008 @ 02:05 PM
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Originally posted by Conspiracy Theorist
Can you elaborate on what the very good reasons would be?


1) Someone who's constantly posting disruptive 1-liners or off-topic posts in threads, even after being asked not to. It's not really a T&C violation, but it's a disruptive tactic.

2) Someone for whom we get an inordinate amount of member complaints, but perhaps each complaint is "borderline." This requires an unfair situation where our staff is so occupied with this particular member, the rest of the site doesn't get the appropriate attention.

3) Someone who is repeatedly posting intense ATS criticism, even after their posts have been addressed.




Originally posted by endrun
What about the folks over at A.K. who say they were banned for no violations, and never received a warning or a notice that they had been banned?

I guarantee you that everyone knows why they've been banned. If they say they don't know, they're either trying to deceive people, or not being honest with themselves.


[edit on 19-5-2008 by SkepticOverlord]



posted on May, 19 2008 @ 02:14 PM
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reply to post by SkepticOverlord
 


Perhaps I should have elaborated further.


You Said
We typically don't discuss the reasons for a member's banning, unless there is very-good reason to do so.


So are you saying in this reply:


1) Someone who's constantly posting disruptive 1-liners or off-topic posts in threads, even after being asked not to. It's not really a T&C violation, but it's a disruptive tactic.

2) Someone for whom we get an inordinate amount of member complaints, but perhaps each complaint is "borderline." This requires an unfair situation where our staff is so occupied with this particular member, the rest of the site doesn't get the appropriate attention.

3) Someone who is repeatedly posting intense ATS criticism, even after their posts have been addressed.


That it is only in these situations that a members banning will be discussed in public?

I hope I dont come across as annoying, just like to be clear and thorough.

CT



posted on May, 19 2008 @ 02:26 PM
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Originally posted by Conspiracy Theorist
Perhaps I should have elaborated further.

Oh... I assumed you were referencing the giant-post.

No... not the same then.

The reasons for being forthright about the banning of a member would include:

1) If there was a "public outcry" for the banning of a particularly disruptive member. In these cases, the reason is usually clear, but we inform as to the timing.

2) If a member was found to be hoaxing the board, we'd inform everyone as to the nature of the hoax.

3) If a member was inappropriately engaged in some other activity that was deceptive to members.

Those are but a few examples.



posted on May, 19 2008 @ 02:37 PM
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reply to post by SkepticOverlord
 




Those are but a few examples.


Thank you. That truly made it clearer for me.

All the best

CT



posted on May, 19 2008 @ 02:56 PM
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Originally posted by SkepticOverlord
As we've attempted to point out over, and over, and over again, the material is all lies based on one person's misinterpretation of an April Fools joke. It's even clearly labeled as a joke.


You may recall my posting to tell you that encouraging and organizing hoaxed by site staff would undermine the credibility of the website.

Halloween ATS Hoax?

I believed it then and still believe it now. Too much of the content of this website deals with distrust of persons in positions of power to permit persons in positions of power here to abuse that trust.

That being said...


Originally posted by SkepticOverlord

The Definitive ATS Issues Post




If I have learned anything from my years on ATS (lurking and posting), it is that if someone wants to believe no amount of arguing, clarity, logic or reason will convince them otherwise.



[edit on 19-5-2008 by Mainer]



posted on May, 19 2008 @ 03:57 PM
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reply to post by Mainer
 


And there you have the reason we've not engaged in organized "April Fools" or halloween pranks since... we're no longer the small close-knit community, and are a large source of important information and opinion to many people.



posted on May, 19 2008 @ 09:10 PM
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Originally posted by SkepticOverlord however, it's not for this thread.


Yes I did catch that... but you pretty much answered that question here so I did not thing it necessary to repeat the question...

I suppose it was the way it was 'zapped' that bugged me... not tagged with an "Off Topic" banner, but just wiped of the face of the Earth

Kinda made me start screen capturing ummm 'certain' posts




The extent of the "NASA Collaboration" is provided in this thread:
www.abovetopsecret.com...

It may surprise you to know that Caleban over at RU did mention to me that this might have been the cause for the comment, which you have confirmed...

But perhaps 'assistance' would have been more prudent.. "NASA Collaboration" has such a nasty ring to it... IMO... and just 'might' send the wrong impression





They helped the former moderator, Kano, with some key information.




I was confused also... there is an "AccessDenied" and an "Access Denied." The space being the critical difference.


Yes and there is a Zep tepi and a Zeptepi here as well... can be embarrassing in U2U's






[edit on 19-5-2008 by zorgon]



posted on May, 19 2008 @ 09:13 PM
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Originally posted by AccessDenied
However, as for nemesis, I'm sure your new found friends will agree, that yes indeed..
Iam.


Really?
And I don't even know you
:shk:

"new found friends"



Your funny..


[edit on 19-5-2008 by zorgon]



posted on May, 21 2008 @ 08:56 AM
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Redirecting the discussion form this thread: John Lear stated that ATS was a CIA front on C2C, to keep all discussions of ATS' operations and/or speculation within one thread so as to retain questions and responses within one unified thread.

My response in the closed thread is duplicated below.



 

 





Originally posted by dgtempe
Still, there are an awful lot of people pointing the finger at ATS as a front.

Some definitive answers to that are found here.



Originally posted by FaxMachine
You would be naive to think ATS is not a CIA front.

What evidence do you have to back up a statement that insults me, my partners, and all the volunteer staff that works hard to provide you with a high-profile environment in which to post any and all of your thoughts and theories?



Originally posted by FaxMachine

Originally posted by Disgustipated
if your stupid enough to think ATS is a CIA front, then you should just leave

Huh? Deny ignorance?

Yes, please. The notion of "deny ignorance" is also that of rejecting theories or other conjecture based on fantasy or errors. The people who espouse that we are a "government front" are engaging in flights of fancy, or not checking facts. See this post. Based on the information in that post, you could have me prosecuted for securities fraud if the following statement were not true: "In no way has any money or influence from any agency of any government governed the operations of ATS."



Originally posted by jedimiller
1. to get our IP address and study our behaviours as a way to use the patriot act against us.
2. To have writen proof/evidence in court if there were any of us prosecuted in court, as a terrorists for expressing our views.

You're accusing us of actions in violation with our clearly posted privacy policy. If you believe these accusations to be true, please, report us to your state's attorney general. A website violating a posted privacy policy is rather serious.



Originally posted by jedimiller
He has the right to disclose anything he knows about ATS

So far, all he's been doing is creating and spreading lies.




Originally posted by dAlen
As for John Lear and S.O. - the best thing for both of them to do would be to come together and admit that perhaps they offended each other...and just drop it.

Well... I extended my apology on the day the blow-up happened. However, it's clear than John seems to have had some type of ulterior motive from the very beginning, since it was not accepted and he choose an increasingly odd path.


 

 



Carry on.



posted on May, 21 2008 @ 09:41 AM
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This is a duplicate post in the thread SkepticOverlord cited above, to allow the person I quoted a chance to respond.


Originally posted by jedimiller
Grail & JMP...I'm not JL's talent agent or internet representative...but I'm not going to be the one to defend him on the boards.


And yet you are. It seems you are taking everything he says at face value, without applying any critical thinking to it.


Originally posted by jedimiller
He has the right to disclose anything he knows about ATS and has accomplised to open up my eyes by announcing it LIVE on a national Radio show...

However, who are we kidding guys. some of you come here to fight the system and demand truths. Basically come here to oppose users like JL and prove him wrong. Many, many times i've witnessed people trying to debunk UFo's, GOD, Chupacabras, etc. Some users are just trolls out to get other users. JL was a target by those users...


If you are not defending King Lear, then why do you allow him rights you do not wish to grant other members? Why does Lear have the right and responsibility to call ATS a CIA front, yet we regular members don't have the right to state our beliefs and present evidence if we believe Lear or anyone else to be wrong. Why are we regulated to the status of trolls or worse?

And why do you assume that people who are skeptics or those who want to debunk everything have nefarious motives? Isn't it just as likely that people who defend every little bit of nonsense, who take the word of people like King Lear at face-value, who attack anyone who says anything to the contrary, are disinformation agents?

Besides...what does it matter if some people are here to just debunk? If some members have the right to come in here, post all the nonsense they want in support of UFOs, God and chupacabras, then other members have the right to debunk anything they want.


Originally posted by jedimiller
I mean come on. Robbie Williams is getting more internet time for talking about some sighting on a roof than JL. that seems wrong to me. He's the uttermost authority on issues and RW is not, yet he's not banned...


It might have something to do with Robbie Williams have a more agreeable personality, and not accusing anyone and everyone disagreeing with him of being a CIA agent.



posted on May, 21 2008 @ 09:58 AM
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The notion that AboveTopSecret.com is a CIA front is a ridiculous idea.

Most people would be better suited to continue their discussions on UFOs and Bigfoot.



posted on May, 21 2008 @ 10:05 AM
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Originally posted by CIA Operative
The notion that AboveTopSecret.com is a CIA front is a ridiculous idea.

Most people would be better suited to continue their discussions on UFOs and Bigfoot.


You do realize that there are going to be a lot of people who don't realize this is satire.

You do realize this, right, master?



posted on May, 21 2008 @ 10:17 AM
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reply to post by SaviorComplex
 


LOL.

Yes, I realize this. Sadly, I do.



posted on May, 21 2008 @ 10:36 AM
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reply to post by CIA Operative
 


Given your forum name I suspect this will be used as proof that not only does the CIA monitor this site, it also post here. ..grin..

Very few of us will ever be able to say we know, one way or the other. For the sake of argument that it is controlled, I think the more important point would be not that they are here but what are they actually doing, by what means and the scope involved. I would appear it might be only specific damage control or steering.



posted on May, 21 2008 @ 11:54 AM
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Originally posted by roadgravel

Very few of us will ever be able to say we know, one way or the other. For the sake of argument that it is controlled, I think the more important point would be not that they are here but what are they actually doing...


Actually, I think that still misses the point. If people actually believe that ATS is being controlled or monitored by the CIA, why do those same people post here?



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