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Diminishing Quality: An Open Letter

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posted on Jul, 6 2008 @ 10:53 PM
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This is intended as an open letter to address a grievance. I will try not to name names or threads as I don't wish to point fingers.

Dear Owners of ATS,

I have been a fan of this site for well over 4 years now and have been a member in good standing for the entirety of my membership. I have always felt ATS to be a highly informative and open arena for the discussion of alternative topics. When posting I have always attempted to create quality thread postings that both contribute to the specific discussion and the quality of the site as a whole. I've enjoyed the discussions and I have even enjoyed the debates with members of differing opinions that have lasted days in some cases.

However, as of late I feel as though the quality of ATS has diminished from what it was when I first joined. Recently I authored a thread in the religious conspiracies forum with the intent to dispel common misconceptions and inaccuracies about a certain religion. I spent a considerable amount of time both accumulating information from valid sources, organizing and presenting it in a logical manner and politely responding to every response to the best of my ability. As threads seem want to do, this one soon attracted many of a differing opinion.

As evident in the thread I am not one to want to silence dissenting opinion, quite to the contrary as I authored the thread for those not as knowledgeable about the topic as those with an approving opinion. The purpose of the thread was to inform and I did not shirk any questions posted to me. I treated everyone with the utmost respect and civility in an attempt to maintain the quality of my thread. Unfortunately, it wasn't long before members showed up who's intentions were neither discussion and debate nor education on the subject.

Regardless I attempted to respond to them in a respectful and civil manner and was met with only animosity and argumentativeness. To make matters worse many of the posters seemed unable to grasp the difference between fact an opinion. Wishing still to maintain the high quality of my thread I politely asked such posters to leave the thread if they didn't wish to contribute or discuss, most of them respected my wishes and left. However, there was still one member who refused to respect my wishes and continued to defy me despite my politeness.

This member began to post links and news stories which were completely counter to the purpose of the thread and were in fact exactly the misconceptions I sought to dispel. More over I gave referenced and sourced information as a rebuttal to their posts. However, instead of commenting on the information said poster only told me I was wrong and continued to create the kinds of posts I asked them not to. This went on for a few pages until I felt I had been patient enough and politely suggested that the member author their own thread on the subject and I would gladly join them there for the discussion. Failing that I asked them once again to leave the thread if they didn't approve of the subject, had no desire to have an open discussion on the subject and had no desire to learn more about the subject. I also, very politely, informed them that I would have to lodge a complaint with a moderator if they continued. This was met with a belligerent post where in the member all but dared me to do it

I am not one to file complaints against another member, in fact this was the first time since I've discovered ATS that I have ever done something like that. I clicked the appropriate button and wrote a polite letter outlining the problem I had and explained that i had spent a lot of time and put forth a lot of effort and did not wish to see my thread ruined by someone who seeks only to derail it. I received an almost immediate response from a Moderator who I wish not to name.

The moderator informed me that they would "Have a talk" with the offending member and then informed me that I should just "Ignore" them if I don't want to hear what they have to say. I wrote a letter back stating that I had thought of "Ignoring" them but I felt they where derailing and ruining a thread that others had found both informative and readable and I did not want this member ruining it for those who may actually wish to learn about the subject.

I returned to the maintenance of my thread trusting that the staff of ATS would do something about my problem. I noticed that the member had begun an argument with another poster on the thread and I informed the latter member that they should not engage this poster as they wish only to derail the discussion and post ignorant information. Fifteen minutes later I returned to the thread to find that post had been removed due to "Civility and Decorum" and that I had been fined 1000 points for my infraction. This penalty was dealt by the very same Moderator I had contacted to address my previous grievance.

Needless to say I was a bit miffed as this was my first penalty in my entire time on ATS. Prior to this I had received nothing but Applause for my attempts to contribute high quality opinions and responses and authoring threads I feel reflected well on the quality of this site. Indeed, the thread in question consisted of about two or three pages of solid, sourced information with a proceeding five pages of civil and polite discussion of the topic.

However, I later returned to my thread to find the offending poster still posting ignorant and irrelevant information, supplying opinions to counter facts, arguing and contributing to the degradation of the quality of my thread. I was, and still am, quite frustrated and upset over this situation. I had followed all rules of posting, I had authored a high quality thread full of sourced information, I had civilly discussed and debated with all who entered my thread, I had tried only to maintain the quality of my thread and went through appropriate channels to do so.

I do not wish to quiet all who disagree with me, rather I welcome differing opinions. I understand that every poster has a right to speak their mind and state their opinion on the topic and I would never suggest that it be otherwise. But do thread authors not also have a right to maintain the quality of a thread they have spent considerable time and effort on? I feel this is a serious and growing problem. I now feel as though there may be no point to me creating threads of this quality, containing this amount of information and civil discussion if there is no way for me to keep it from being derailed and hijacked by those who have neither read the information nor have a desire to learn or ask questions. It seems there are a few members on this site who are here only to start arguments and ruin threads. They seem to care little for facts or valid sources of information, they seem not to understand that when their statement is countered by fact a response consisting of a denial of the information posted is not contributing to a discussion.

(continued below)

edited for spelling

[edit on 6-7-2008 by Shadowflux]




posted on Jul, 6 2008 @ 10:53 PM
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I understand that there will always be this type of poster and there always has been, they are the inspiration for the term "Internet Troll" and are just another element of life on the internet. However I feel that in the past such problem members have been addressed in an appropriate manner in an effort to maintain the reputation of ATS. Lately though, I see many a thread degenerate into a frustrated thread author trying to defend their thread from these troublemakers mean while turning off members who may be legitimately interested in the thread's topic. If these types of situations are dealt with in the manner I have described then how do you expect anyone to spend their time writing informative threads and maintaining them with open, polite discussion? I understand that ATS is a big site and there is much work to be done on a day to day basis but I feel that quality of discussion is one of the main and basic qualities of any successful discussion forum. I understand also that ATS is a business which I feel is more reason to pay closer attention to the quality of member's postings.

I love ATS, in many ways I feel it is my home on the internet. I have spent more hours than I care to mention reading and discussing. I've recommended this site to everyone I speak to. I do not wish to leave, I would love to stay and continue learning, reading and meeting new people of both differing and agreeing opinions. But I can not deny that this past experience has left a serious sour taste in my mouth. I feel as though I wasted my time, I could've just as easily authored this thread on another board or created it as an article for a website of my own. I choose to put it on ATS because of the positive experiences I've had in the past and because of what has, until now, seemed like effective board moderation. Frankly, I'm not sure how to feel, I've never had a problem with ATS and I would like to assume this is an isolated incident but I can't shake the feeling that it is a growing trend.

I have not written this letter simply to complain, I meant this to relay a legitimate concern I have for a forum and website I have great respect for and have had many hours of enjoyable experiences on. I feel that ATS is not only the best place for discussion of alternative topics but I feel it is one of the best message boards on the internet and have a hard seeing myself feeling such affection for another forum. I implore you to take some time to closely examine the workings of the board and the members therein. You have many good members here, in fact I still feel the "bad eggs" to be in the minority. I beg of you to create some way for thread authors to effectively maintain their threads and protect them from those with malevolent intent. I do not feel I am alone in my complaints nor in my desires for greater control over what is posted in one's own thread. Thread authors are the true volunteers of ATS, they are the ones that create the content, without them you would have no forum. They work for free, often for hours or days sometimes without one acknowledgment of gratitude. They do it because they love to come to ATS and discuss their topics with others, an interesting debate or discussion is it's own reward. Those that create the content for ATS, that initiate the discussion of alternative topics, need to be treated with a higher priority than they are now.

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,
Shadowflux

edited for spelling

[edit on 6-7-2008 by Shadowflux]



posted on Jul, 6 2008 @ 10:59 PM
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There is life outside ATS.

So don't take ATS or any members seriously.

It seems as if everything spoils in time, even Democracy.

[edit on 6-7-2008 by '___'eed]



posted on Jul, 6 2008 @ 11:28 PM
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I’m certainly not a site owner, or a moderator for that matter, but please allow me to interject my humble opinion of your well thought out and politely written letter, (if I may).


This member began to post links and news stories which were completely counter to the purpose of the thread and were in fact exactly the misconceptions I sought to dispel.


Isn’t this what people in threads are supposed to do? If they have a different opinion, aren’t they supposed to give you information that supports their side of the argument?


More over I gave referenced and sourced information as a rebuttal to their posts. However, instead of commenting on the information said poster only told me I was wrong and continued to create the kinds of posts I asked them not to.


I kina, sort of, disagree with asking a member to not post in a subject. For the “open” discussion of an argument to take place, one must in fact allow and encourage dissenting viewpoints. In the instance that his posts were not to your liking, lacking in taste, reasoning or intellect, then two options are available at your disposal. You may ignore the poster, or you may engage said “dolt” in an intellectual debate, he may very well drag you down to his level and beat you with experience. (To quote Springer’s signature)


This went on for a few pages until I felt I had been patient enough and politely suggested that the member author their own thread on the subject and I would gladly join them there for the discussion.


This may or may not have agitated the other person and even further made them want to derail your thread, this happens sometimes. If the person is how you describe as an internet troll, you may have well given him fuel for the fire as it were.


Failing that I asked them once again to leave the thread if they didn't approve of the subject, had no desire to have an open discussion on the subject and had no desire to learn more about the subject. I also, very politely, informed them that I would have to lodge a complaint with a moderator if they continued. This was met with a belligerent post where in the member all but dared me to do it


Sounds to me as if it degenerated into an all out flame war. I am curious to see a link to the thread in question as to discern a little more information.

I returned to the maintenance of my thread trusting that the staff of ATS would do something about my problem. I noticed that the member had begun an argument with another poster on the thread and I informed the latter member that they should not engage this poster as they wish only to derail the discussion and post ignorant information. Fifteen minutes later I returned to the thread to find that post had been removed due to "Civility and Decorum" and that I had been fined 1000 points for my infraction. This penalty was dealt by the very same Moderator I had contacted to address my previous grievance.


This is because it was not very civil of you nor would it have been appropriate for you to suggest telling a member how to act towards another member in such a way. People have their own minds I’m afraid. This is the other person’s call, just as it is your call on how to deal with a poster that seems to go against anything you say. You can put them on Ignore, you will not see their posts, it will be as if they don’t exist. The other person may have to resort to this same thing if they cannot come to an agreement on a subject. It certainly is not your call how they should act in this situation. That is why you were fined in my opinion.

As ATS grows larger as a community, unfortunately you will see more and more of this type of poster, however this is in my opinion just a percentage of the whole, and if you were to look at the percentages from 2004 when you signed on to today you would probably see the same amount percentagewise of trollish behavior.

I for one can appreciate your argument, the way this is written is excellent, and does deserve respectful attention. I would suggest taking this level of writing to each of your posts, ignore those that obviously want to troll a thread, and carry on. They are out there, but it’s your choice whether or not to deny their ignorance.

This of course is just my opinion, take it for what it’s worth.



posted on Jul, 6 2008 @ 11:59 PM
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reply to post by whatukno
 


I appreciate your input, and I am now debating whether or not I should supply a link so that readers may formulate their own opinion based upon the evidence. I understand that I may come off as a bit whiney but I assure such is not the case.

Perhaps I didn't make myself completely clear. I have no problem with contrary opinions, it would be hard to debate and discuss only with people who agreed with me. I do, however, have a problem with unproductive comments.

It wasn't that I didn't want to hear what they had to say or didn't want to debate with them, I didn't want it to happen in my thread which was intended to be purely informative. I would have gladly joined them in a debate in a thread of their own.

Maybe I will just supply the relevant information to avoid confusion.

My thread centered around what is commonly known as Satanism, in it I tried to provide as much sourced information as I could in regards to the LaVeyan brand. In my very first post I used information from the Center for Religious Tolerance to define what is a real Satanist. Directly following that I defined, using the same source, what is not a real Satanist. This latter definition included people such as psychotic murderers, the mentally disturbed and those who simply blame a crime on demons.

I then continued, logically, presenting the core beliefs and values of the religion and made it a point to show that neither Satanists nor the Church of Satan endorse or take part in the harming of animals or people. I also proved that neither the adherents nor the church itself would ever condone acts such as rape or child molestation.

The poster in question posted nothing but links to "Satanic Murders" and "Satanic Crime" when the very purpose of the thread was to put to rest such misconceptions as these. They continued to make ignorant claims regarding the religion and did not respect my requests to stop. They made it abundantly clear that they had not read the information or had not understood it.

I suppose I needn't explain further, I will supply a link and you can decide for yourself whether I was being irrational, I guarantee you it did not turn into a flame war.

Here is the thread:

The Truth About Satanism

[edit on 7-7-2008 by Shadowflux]



posted on Jul, 7 2008 @ 12:14 AM
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reply to post by Shadowflux
 



I appreciate your input, and I am now debating whether or not I should supply a link so that readers may formulate their own opinion based upon the evidence. I understand that I may come off as a bit whiney but I assure such is not the case.


Just for future references, anyone can go into your profile and find the thread in question. But, I did see you posted it at the bottom.



posted on Jul, 7 2008 @ 12:22 AM
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Actually as an outside observer in the debocle that went on with you and the other member, I am afraid to say that your actions largely were wrong in this instance. The poster did not as you put it try and derail the thread, however they were giving you other evidence that supports their claim. This is debate. You may get infuriated with the other poster because the evidence they submit is not to your liking, however one should not tell another member to leave the thread just because they do not agree with you and bring forth their own testimony to back up their argument.

I am sorry, however from what I could tell, you were clearly in the wrong in this case and im afraid that the other poster just has a decenting view.

Especcially with a thread title that leaves so much open to debate itself. You should ither respectfully allow the other poster their privilage to rebutt your argument or ignore the poster and move on with your thread.

It's rather simple as that. I thought you made some great observations and brought forth compelling testimony, however when it got to the point of the argumentitive nature between you and the offending poster, your unfortunatly in the wrong for asking them to leave the thread. They have not as far as manners and decorum are concerned going off topic or otherwise being uncivil. They are mearly stating another point of view.

Again, as this site grows your going to find many many a people that don't exactly fall in with your line of thinking, They may use other references they feel are the "truth" as to them they are. Especially in religious topics, ideology is the hardest subject to come to common ground on, this is why there have been so many religious wars.

Those are my thoughts, take them as you see fit.



posted on Jul, 7 2008 @ 12:22 AM
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reply to post by jhill76
 


I suppose I hadn't thought of that, I just didn't want to mention member's names in the original letter for two reasons. I didn't want to seem as though I was bashing said member and I feel as though it's a broader problem not simply restricted to the member I had a problem with.



posted on Jul, 7 2008 @ 12:33 AM
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reply to post by whatukno
 


But this is exactly the point of my letter. Do thread authors have no rights in regards to their threads at all? Should we not be allowed some semblance of personal moderation as long as we do not abuse it? Should not the desires and intentions of the thread author be taken into consideration when dealing with such an issue?

I suppose your answer is no and I guess I may be attributing too much to the rights and freedoms afforded a user of a private enterprise.

However, I felt I couldn't "debate" with this person as all the evidence I would have presented was already presented previously in the thread. In addition the poster in question provided no proof that these crimes or actions described were in fact related to the religion at all.

I did not "tell" anyone to leave, I asked politely to take it to another thread which I would join them in.

I took the time to create the thread, make it good and give it to ATS to contribute to the site as a whole and the site as a business. I feel that thread authors should be considered as "Content Contributors" rather than just another poster. I feel that some form, even restrained, of personal thread moderation would do a great deal in increasing the quality of threads and would in turn motivate more users to author their own threads.


Edit: In essence, I think it's incredibly counter productive for the only possible solution to be "Just ignore it and let them do it"

[edit on 7-7-2008 by Shadowflux]

[edit on 7-7-2008 by Shadowflux]



posted on Jul, 7 2008 @ 12:43 AM
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Originally posted by Shadowflux
reply to post by whatukno
 


But this is exactly the point of my letter. Do thread authors have no rights in regards to their threads at all? Should we not be allowed some semblance of personal moderation as long as we do not abuse it? Should not the desires and intentions of the thread author be taken into consideration when dealing with such an issue?

I suppose your answer is no and I guess I may be attributing too much to the rights and freedoms afforded a user of a private enterprise.

However, I felt I couldn't "debate" with this person as all the evidence I would have presented was already presented previously in the thread. In addition the poster in question provided no proof that these crimes or actions described were in fact related to the religion at all.

I did not "tell" anyone to leave, I asked politely to take it to another thread which I would join them in.

I took the time to create the thread, make it good and give it to ATS to contribute to the site as a whole and the site as a business. I feel that thread authors should be considered as "Content Contributors" rather than just another poster. I feel that some form, even restrained, of personal thread moderation would do a great deal in increasing the quality of threads and would in turn motivate more users to author their own threads.


I read this thread because I was curious to see if anyone was complaining about double standards of some moderators, but I wanted to say that my observations and understanding is that thread beginners have no more rights after their opening post, than anyone else who posts to it.

Duncan



posted on Jul, 7 2008 @ 12:47 AM
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All I have to add is that I am surprised a moderator has not come in to address your concerns in this thread? I think they are better suited to address some of these questions.



posted on Jul, 7 2008 @ 12:49 AM
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reply to post by Shadowflux
 


You really don't have that option I'm afraid. As this is a user generated content "ecosystem" Once you plant the seed of a thread it takes on a life of it's own. You can try and guide a thread to where you want it to be, but enevidably the thread will go where it is going to go.

You did make an excellent thread, and it sucks when these things happen, a person with a dissenting opinion keeps nailing on points that you feel that you have covered already or are irrelevant to the issue at hand.

If I were to keep everyone out of my threads that didn't agree with me, I would have no replies at all.

The real only ownership you do have over your thread is what you put into it, what others put into a thread that's created by you also builds on the content.

If you can no longer debate with the other person the best choice in this instance would be to put them on ignore, post your posts as you would if they were not there. Eventually they will either get the hint or others will debate them for you.

Of course there is a thread around here that your suggestion for a title of Content Contributors could be asked, ATS/BTS What Would You Like To See In The Future. That is the appropriate forum to ask for such a title. If you make your argument for this title in the same manner that you did with your thread or here you might find a receptive audience for such an idea.



posted on Jul, 7 2008 @ 12:49 AM
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reply to post by nexusmagazine
 


Which is why I'm suggesting and requesting some form of rights as to personal moderation of a thread you've authored.



posted on Jul, 7 2008 @ 12:57 AM
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reply to post by whatukno
 


I understand what you're saying. It's just that after this incident I really have a doubt as to whether I should even bother creating another thread. There are plenty of topics I'd love to talk about but if I can only look forward to my thread degenerating within 5 pages, and having no other option but to watch it happen lest I be punished, then why should I waste my time?

Should not productive posts be considered of a higher priority than unproductive posts?

If moderators do nothing but makes sure people aren't cursing at each other or making one lined posts then what are they good for?

I feel as though the whole system has become counter productive to the intended goals of the owners of ATS, which I am assuming is to create a site that gains ever more users and creates ever more content with the aim of increasing the return on their investment.



posted on Jul, 7 2008 @ 10:22 AM
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reply to post by Shadowflux
 


If we were all so lucky to be able to create threads that garnered more than 5 pages of dialogue. Most of my threads don't make it past the first page.


Seriously, once you create a thread, its open for discussion and debate, you may not like the other person's point of view but that does not give you any right to ask them to leave your thread alone. Unless of course that person is deliberately derailing, being abusive or otherwise being a nuisance in the thread, their comments should be welcomed.

I think you should continue to post topics that are relevant to you and that you find interesting, from what I can gather, especially in regards to the thread in question, your posts are of quality, that should be encouraged.


If moderators do nothing but makes sure people aren't cursing at each other or making one lined posts then what are they good for?


The moderators and staff here do an excellent job in my opinion on also negating the effect of topic drift. In the instance of the poster in question, they in my opinion did not deviate from the topic at hand but showed a different viewpoint. A viewpoint that apparently was agreed to by others as the posts by this person were starred. This shows me that not only were this posters points relevant, they had merritt to the topic at hand.

Just because you don't agree with the way someone else thinks does not necessarily make that person wrong. What it does is show a difference of opinion. In the relm of religion this is going to garner a whole rainbow of different opinions. This creates quite lively debate. At times this debate can get frustrating. However that should not discourage you to the point of never creating another thread again. It should however encourage you to explain in a rational way your point. In all likelihood no matter what you say or show it will not change the other persons opinion on the subject, at this point again you have the choice to ignore the poster.

Again I don't speak for the staff or administration of ATS, all of this is my own opinion on the matter, take it for what you will.

[edit on 7/7/2008 by whatukno]



posted on Jul, 7 2008 @ 10:42 AM
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It seems to me that what you want to do is Blog -- this would permit you to receive comments and moderate them yourselves. I would absolutely blog this thread. I would also consider creating a TinWiki entry on your thread, because it has a lot of interesting facts.

Look -- in an ATS forum you have the benefit of receiving massive numbers of views, but you pay the price by having no control over the comments. That is why you have massive numbers of views -- because people are looking for things they can agree or disagree with. It is hard to have it both ways.

There is no use railing against all the disrespectful people here at ATS -- their number is legion. Personally, I get as much a kick out of other people's disrespect for my posts as I do their complements -- but that is just me.

Don't fret. Rely on people's ability to think for themselves. That is my advice, unsolicited, I know, but I think it is worth considering.

(Edit: Sorry -- this is basically just a restatement of what several other people have already said here. I wasn't paying enough attention to previous posts on this thread. Nothing remarkable there.)

[edit on 7-7-2008 by Buck Division]



posted on Jul, 7 2008 @ 11:06 AM
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reply to post by Shadowflux
 


The problem the way I see it, is once you post a thread here, it no longer belongs to just you, it belongs to US! You will always be the OP or author of that thread but you do not have ownership or control of the direction the discussion goes.

And sometimes that discussion definitely goes in a direction you did not intend.

Discussions should not be limited to those that agree with you, or debate the topic like you think they should.

It was a good thread btw!



posted on Jul, 7 2008 @ 11:09 AM
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I'll be brief...

This is an open FORUM not a pulpit.


I agree that you may want a Blog of your own, the concept behind an open forum is to generate exactly what you describe in your OP.

Springer...



posted on Jul, 7 2008 @ 06:32 PM
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Originally posted by Shadowflux
reply to post by nexusmagazine
 


Which is why I'm suggesting and requesting some form of rights as to personal moderation of a thread you've authored.


If this were the case and thread authors were allowed to ban fellow members from posting in their thread, then it seems that -this- would cause a diminishing quality on ATS due to the lack of counterpoint and opposing viewpoints. Wouldn't you agree?

As long as the opposing viewpoints are presented in a civil manner, I don't see what the problem is.

What is the reason you'd wish to keep others from posting a polite, if contradictory view of the subject?

Is the topic so fragile that opposing opinion would destroy it?

On the topic, itself, you seem to have spent a lot of time and effort to put a positive spin on something. What's the point? Are you trying to convert people to your way of thinking? Are you afraid your work may be in vain if there is dissenting opinion?

Just curious. Thanks.



posted on Jul, 7 2008 @ 06:44 PM
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I know exactly what you mean. Although my membership date is only from 2006, I have been around, lurking, or on other accounts, since long before that. I too have noticed a change in the overall quality of the site.

Its good to know others notice this to.

[edit on 7/7/2008 by prototism]



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