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Yes, We Who Run ATS "Sold Out"

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posted on Jun, 25 2008 @ 01:21 PM
After some contemplation, introspection, reflection, internalized cogitation, and other actions befitting a long list of similarly thoughtful adjectives, I've decided to create a new thread in response to one launched by Rasobasi420: ATS selling out: Membership quantity over quality. In his opening post, and within a number of well-intended replies, several excellent points have been brought up. Some of them have been addressed, others not. But the most important point he brought up, "Is ATS selling it's soul," has not been properly addressed. Additionally, there are a few other points I'd like to toss out for discussion.

First: Yes, in a sense, we sold our soul.

Several years ago, when ATS was a much smaller and generally obscure place that few were aware of, our admin and staff did practice rather strong management of what subjects might be allowed, and which might not be. There was a time when obvious racist threads were deleted, hate-filled comments immediately removed, bogus claims expunged, and silly personal stories trashed with impunity. In other words, we were like every other small discussion board with a focused topical theme.

During our initial periods of serious growth between mid 2003 and late 2005, we sold out. We began to adopt policies that would eventually evolve into an editorial neutrality that is the prime hallmark of the current ATS. We "sold out" to our users, putting them in charge and stepping back form managing the ebb and flow of hot and important topics.

Second: Does ATS Tolerate Racism?

Rasobasi420's thread touched on an eternally important issue, that of fear in relation to people who are different. I express it this way because this element of the human condition is much deeper than racism and touches on religion, politics, music, and more.

But first, stepping out from behind "editorial neutrality" for a moment, you can have my personal opinion on racism: there's only one thing I despise more. I abhor racists. I loath those who cannot tolerate the religious beliefs of others. The promotion of racism and related hatred is the most evil and vile thing man can do, for it spawns an untold amount of societal problems and crimes.

However, with my opinion out of the way, the only thing I despise more than racism is limits on free expression. Those who would seek to artificially hide racism through the sequestering or limiting of it's expression are, in my mind, committing an act vile in its own right. In the matter of racism, we cannot solve that which we do not speak of... we cannot understand those we gag... we'll never rise above petty fear through silence.

I have no illusion that the evil of racism can be solved through tolerating it's discussion on ATS. However, I firmly believe that those who do engage in the debate here gain an increased understanding that may contribute to fundamental personal change... and that's enough for me.

Third: The quality of what is on the home page is up to you.

Part of "selling out" to our members and giving you complete control over ATS lies in the tools at your disposal to influence what appears on the home page, in what order, as well as on the plethora of other pages such as these:
Top Topics (most flagged)
Hot Topics (most replied)
Decision 2008 Forum Summary
Aliens & UFO's Forum Summary
Skunk Works Forum Summary
Weekly Summary: June 21, 2008
Weekly Summary: June 14, 2008
(and more)
More than 85% of all new visitors who type in our domain name (rather than use a search engine to find ATS), visit one of these summary pages where our members have ranked important threads.
More than 60% of all new visitors who arrive from search engines visit one one of these summary pages where our members have ranked important threads.
As you can see, your efforts of flagging and replying make a difference in what a new user sees... all day, every day.

In fact, as an added bit of absolute proof we exert no editorial control, Rasobasi420's thread with "ATS selling out" in the title appeared on the site home for nearly 24 hours because of the number of replies.

Fourth: Not all thread titles are created equal.

Just a short note to comment on a common problem I've seen, knee-jerk reaction to thread titles. In many cases, "out there" topics exemplified in oddball thread titles have some truly inspiring give-and-take in the resulting discussion. In many cases, an overly speculative claim in a thread title is completely shattered through sane and intelligent contributions from many members. So, one of the ATS Commandments (hrm, we need a set of those) should be, "Judge not a thread by its title."

Finally: A question for discussion.

The issue of a subjective loss of quality on ATS has been a reoccurring theme for as long as I can remember. I believe it has more to do with a person's increased experience level with ATS topics and resulting frustration over seeing rehashed topics or threads that are below their newly-developed subject matter sophistication. However, I'm willing to open the floor to discussion on the matter and will kick it off with a few questions.

1] Do you believe our focus on members-in-control is resulting in a low-quality "product?"

2] Should we (ATS) find a way to exert editorial management over new threads?

3] Is there a list of subject matter (such as racism) you believe should be completely avoided?

4] In the case of item 4, would you like to see us alter thread titles to reflect the actual discussion?

And now, I look to our members... your thoughts?

posted on Jun, 25 2008 @ 01:40 PM

Should we (ATS) find a way to exert editorial management over new threads?

I think not. Once you start editing, you will see your numbers drop, this has happened through history with major sites, look at friendster. Then we won't have the many members to debate with. I like the debates, even if it is a silly one, something you can't just go and do out on the streets with anyone. Kind of reminds me of college days.

But on that note, a lot of hoaxes come about, I believe that if a poster comes in a starts a thread with outrageous claims, that should bring some proof to the table. Case in point: A patient in the ER has got me spooked.

In the case of item 4, would you like to see us alter thread titles to reflect the actual discussion?

I think thread titles should be changed to reflect the content of the discussion, for there has been many a times where people use titles just to get people to click on it. Then, when you click on the title, you feel cheated.

[edit on 25-6-2008 by jhill76]

posted on Jun, 25 2008 @ 01:40 PM

I called it first!

SO, you have never been one with thin skin. The site would not be getting complaints if it was not successful. If the contents were not good it would not be successful. Therefore complaints == success. Have a drink!

[edit on 25-6-2008 by Mainer]

posted on Jun, 25 2008 @ 01:43 PM
Thanks for your statement and heres a flag and my

I looked at the top 10 list and saw nothing that didn't interest me
If the quality of a thread bothers people fix it
if you don't like it ignore it it goes away
if in general you don't like what I say
to the left is a red link "ignore me"
the system works use it

[edit on 25-6-2008 by The Utopian Penguin]

posted on Jun, 25 2008 @ 01:45 PM
ATS is one of the few places I feel I have free speech. I thank you for that.

Not all topics interest me so I avoid them. I also avoid becoming involved in a discussion that I know will cause me to become upset and cause me grief. We all have that right.

I very much appreciate your terms and conditions as they are now and do not ask that they be changed in any way.

I would ask that the more seasoned members be patient and give newer members their guidance and benefit of their knowledge by gently addressing an issue that upsets them.

Let's keep ATS free of unnecessary censorship.


posted on Jun, 25 2008 @ 01:46 PM
Very very well said, my good man. I'm glad people like you run this site.

posted on Jun, 25 2008 @ 01:49 PM
1] Do you believe our focus on members-in-control is resulting in a low-quality "product?"
No, I believe in many cases it helps new members to make a good start on their journey towards whichever brand of "truth" they seek, and the perception of "truth" is one that is vital here.

Speaking for myself, I have a much better understanding and awareness of the subjects I am passionate about, simply because of the VERY diverse nature of the input from other members.

If the members were not "in control" I would not (perhaps) have had the opportunity to learn as much as I have over the last 18 months or so.

2] Should we (ATS) find a way to exert editorial management over new threads?
My own opinion is that most threads have sufficient editorial management, however there are (and always will be) extremely emotive topics which MAY require some additional editorial management, but only in the form it takes now, which is a closer eye kept on some threads to ensure that "fair play" is observed at all times.

3] Is there a list of subject matter (such as racism) you believe should be completely avoided?
To deny discussion of a particular subject goes against everything I believe ATS stands for.
Having said that, I have not participated in some threads because of the attitudes displyed by some members - but this is a personal failing. I should have the courage to help new members make discussions civil rather than not.
There's also the old problem of feeding the trolls - and it's a trap I still fall into, to an extent, when I read something that irks me.
But I'm working on it - and this is something I feel we should all do, within reasonable limits.

4] In the case of item 4, would you like to see us alter thread titles to reflect the actual discussion?
Only EVER if it benefitted the discussion - otherwise it may be viewed as editorial censoring.

posted on Jun, 25 2008 @ 01:50 PM
reply to post by SkepticOverlord

1] Do you believe our focus on members-in-control is resulting in a low-quality "product?"

I believe ATS actually censors TO MUCH. But hey, can't please everyone. I prefer a post that deserves a warn should be left unobstructed, so the members can see what, why about the post, and of course, to show the color of those who post warn worthy posts.

I despise the little logos and deletion of posts!

As you said, free speech and expression.

2] Should we (ATS) find a way to exert editorial management over new threads?

I believe there is a problem on ATS with uneducated, apparently very young posters who do nothing but act in a "trollish" manor. Of course, it is a discussion board, and I don't have to partake in those discussions (which I don't). I truly wish ATS would have a place kind of like RATS where members can posts extraordinary quality posts to carry on discussion without the obstruction of those who would otherwise not contribute to a thread.

3] Is there a list of subject matter (such as racism) you believe should be completely avoided?

90% of racism is, infact, not racism at all but rather the over re-action, or perhaps rather the method of avoiding confrontation of a subject by screaming racism.

But even racism in it's self is ones personal opinion or belief, and such expression should not be avoided. Instead, it should be studied to, as you say, learn what makes such people think the way they do.

4] In the case of item 4, would you like to see us alter thread titles to reflect the actual discussion?

Yes and no .. most incorrect titles come from political biased motives. Should they be changed? I suppose for the sake of organizing threads based on their actual topics.. but then, against it, because it's quite obvious once a thread is actually read that the title was wrong.

If anything, it only hurts the OP's image.

My .02

posted on Jun, 25 2008 @ 01:50 PM
I think you give to get.
I don't think the ATS set-up is bad. Anything can be improved. Guess what? ATS allows suggestions. Guess it's up to us as members to take ownership of that too. Also, as you mentioned it's mostly users who determine which threads get the most attention.
The problem of low quality posters and trolls? Welcome to the internet in all it's glory. When you dig for gold you go through a lot of dirt.
The other option is a closed message board by invite only. I've been on those. Great fun for a while until it gets stagnant (which happens pretty quickly).
New blood means new ideas and points of view.
I'm new blood. I hope I'm an addition to this site and not a detriment.

All in all I think ATS it doing pretty darned good. nothings perfect but there seems to be enough flexibility here to roll with situations that arise.

Additionally, whenever you're a person who enters something good early on it's easy to think that it's all going down hill as it changes. Rightly enough some good things are lost over time with the gain of others. Nothing is ever what it was before. A melancholic pining for "what was" (the good ole days) is a normal human response to change but don't throw out the new good for that which is gone.

posted on Jun, 25 2008 @ 01:50 PM
If I could add the issue of gay bashing to the issue of racism.
In my recent thread a lot of gay hate and insults have been expressed (sometimes edited within seconds to avoid warnings) much to the distress of some of your homosexual members.
Same goes if you happen to be a muslim member.
Yet I also have to agree that free speech is paramount, so here we are.

posted on Jun, 25 2008 @ 01:54 PM
I have to add one more thing.

I agree with RockPuck, if a person gets a warn, we should be able to see it, so we know what not to do. With the logo, you don't know what took place and might do the same mistake in the future.

posted on Jun, 25 2008 @ 01:58 PM
I for one can certainly say that my eyes have been opened. There is much here that has piqued my interest in many ways. I will also be one to say that I do not always agree with all that is said here, and have been in many heated discussions. However one thing I have learned is that there is always room for growth in myself. I am sure others feel the same way.

As to the hoaxers that are out there. Well who can really say. There are many topics that lend themselves well to them. Being a conspiracy site we should only expect our fair share. That is what this board is all about. There are so many topics that are just off the wall, from John Titor to John Lear. From ET's to OOBE. At this point who can say what is real and what is a hoax. We are all here to learn. If you don't agree at least here you can say so.

The thread titles often take turns in directions that were not intended, but the conversation can be quite invigorating and info is often shared that may not otherwise come up. It does not matter if you laugh at the absurdity of some post or cry with the truth of others, there is no place like ATS



posted on Jun, 25 2008 @ 02:01 PM

Originally posted by SkepticOverlord
1] Do you believe our focus on members-in-control is resulting in a low-quality "product?"

No, but the issue is not 'focus' because I do not believe ATS is a 'low quality product.' I do not know why there are so many whine threads lately because ATS has some of the most intelligent members I have ever seen on a message board. It makes me wonder if those vocalizing the complaints have ever been a member of other forums. Trust me, the contrast between ATS and other boards is stark in terms of member intelligence, civility, and quality.

There also seems to be many professionals in their field as members here as well as an older crowd. I've never had the impression that ATS is a 'kiddie park' of a forum like so many others appear. It's also not a free for all mud fight. So, no. Not a problem of focus and certainly not a problem of low quality, generally and comparatively speaking. That's not to say we don't have some real stinkers from to time but statistically that is to be expected and ATS still remains far above par.

And I have no strong opinion or suggestions for the other three questions at this time.

Now, my seemingly smoke blowing comments above are not meant to make me look like a Rah! Rah! Rah! ATS! sycophant because some things on ATS have recently pissed me off greatly and ATS lost much of its luster. However, on this subject, no. The quality is fine, 99.9% of the members and staff here are awesome (far better statistics than most websites), and there is something here for everyone even if it is a themed site.

[edit on 6/25/2008 by AshleyD]

posted on Jun, 25 2008 @ 02:01 PM

Originally posted by SkepticOverlord
1] Do you believe our focus on members-in-control is resulting in a low-quality "product?"

2] Should we (ATS) find a way to exert editorial management over new threads?

3] Is there a list of subject matter (such as racism) you believe should be completely avoided?

4] In the case of item 4, would you like to see us alter thread titles to reflect the actual discussion?

In terms of management I feel members generally do a good job. Moderators should allow free conversations in threads.

If for example, a user was posting only sniping remarks then by all means step in and take the most appropriate action. Start stepping in too much and you'll be accused of being a CIA agent, biased or being 'trolls' yourself.

Generally I have found most members are responsible and do justice for ATS and although there are many more members it still hold its tight-knit community feel.

- One thing that does generally annoy me is the influx of hoax posts by (what I presume) school kids. Giving wild stories yet having nothing to back up any claims, point hungry and willing to claim they are an alien to being Government agents, perhaps slightly stricter on these???

[edit on 25-6-2008 by Knights]

posted on Jun, 25 2008 @ 02:05 PM
First off its not ATS who sold out. The only reason there are threads like Rasobasi420's is because of the broader array of members. ATS has evolved from a few hundred members to a few hundred thousand. Add on the anonymous posters and there are bound to be conflicts.

Its a whole lot easier to please 100 members then to please a hundred thousand.

posted on Jun, 25 2008 @ 02:06 PM
I find it interesting that you felt compelled to respond in such a manner.

After all, the phrase "sold out'" has a connotation that smacks of disgrace, and the original thread to bear this phrase seemed belligerent in intent. Nevertheless you have placed the burden of responsibility back on those who have the most impact on the content within this venue, us.

While you maintain editorial neutrality, with understandable limitation specified in the T&C, you have to accept it also includes the potential that you are not, as a host, available to prevent someone's freedom to express themselves from being squelched by an antagonistic responder.

This is not exactly the same as the repression of free speech, of course. But some simply haven't the tools or time to effectively engage the cyber-bully or the rare but occasional team-tactics adopted by some towards silencing those they would rather not have to hear. I don't believe this to be your problem, mind you, but ATS can be sort of rough and tumble for those unprepared to do more than express their opinion on a matter.

I am watching this community evolve, and as good stewardship goes, you have my genuine appreciation for a job well done. Hopefully, someday I can contribute more substantially and meaningfully to this community, so I can share in some small degree in the success of your enterprise.

posted on Jun, 25 2008 @ 02:12 PM
reply to post by SkepticOverlord

In the case of item 4, would you like to see us alter thread titles to reflect the actual discussion?

Yes,I think that is the only change you should make from your list.It should not be allowed to make a misleading thread title,example; lot of threads I've seen start something like '100% PROOF....... when there is no proof at all!Obviously I have learned that when I see that(even in my short 6 months here)there will be no proof,but it is misleading for new members and people who found the thread on a search engine,honestly that is what gives ATS a bad name.It destroys credibility when you allow a member to claim proof in the most important part of a thread(the title) and he offers none.It just makes people think that everything we talk about here on ATS is 'just crap made up by another tin foil hat wearing group of geeks.'

[edit on 6/25/2008 by jkrog08]

posted on Jun, 25 2008 @ 02:16 PM
reply to post by SkepticOverlord

yes, SO....the "Sell Out" was to allow more members to discuss with each other, and tend to self-correct, with the occasional nudge from a Forum Moderator, as necessary.

(BTW....SkepticOverlord and "Sell Out" just happen to share the same conspiracy here!!!)

OK....I hope you all saw that was a joke....right??

So.....this was a great sale IMHO.

sidebar.....where does the term 'sell out' originate anyway?? It is used commonly, but it implies some sort of bribery, I believe. AND I certainly do not think that is anywhere near the case here!!!


posted on Jun, 25 2008 @ 02:22 PM
reply to post by Maxmars

This is a privately owned board and the owner can ban everyone if he/she wants to. There is no freedom of speech or anything to the sort here. Just to make things clear.

If everyone abides by the Terms and Conditions then there are usually never any conflicts at all.

posted on Jun, 25 2008 @ 02:25 PM
The only thing I see wrong is people thinking they can run a discussion board that is already successful with the administration we have now. Great job Skeptic and everyone else who contributes to ATS.
I have no complaints and I'm willing to sift through all the trash to find what I want. Very well said S.O.

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