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
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
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
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
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
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?