The staff and I have noticed a distinct rise in a certain type of complaint via the
, thread/post alerts, our
, and even in public drama-thread attempts. This distinct type of complaint has
many forms and various styles of presentation, but all-in-all, can be condensed down to a simple common denominator, and to be blunt it is best
described as: spinelessness
First, before I elaborate, some important disclaimer type of stuff...
Since mid-2004, we have done our absolute best to foster an environment where rules of civility and decorum seek to shift the typical focus of
discussion, seen on nearly all other boards, from flames and snipes about each other to (hopefully) productive debate about the actual issues and
topics. For the most part, we've been very successful as we continually get positive feedback and commentary from outside sources about the
incredible quality of the user-generated discussions on ATS. We know it's not-yet perfect, and certainly have no illusions it will ever be like a
perfectly civil afternoon tea (nor should it be). But on the whole, our efforts appear to be worth it.
The Rise Of The ATS Invertebrate: or; it takes a spine to be a conspiracy theorist.
Back to the topic at hand.
What we're now seeing, in a wide variety of forums and topics, are relatively new members (less than one-year of ATS membership) with a scattering of
old-hands, is a distinct trend toward heightened sensitivity. More and more of the complaints we see are little more than the result of being overly
thin-skinned about criticism of a viewpoint.
9/11 Truth supporters being overly sensitive toward conspiracy debunkers
9/11 debunkers being overly sensitive to 9/11 Truth supporters
Chemtrail conspiracy supporters being easily upset over alternate explanations
Chemtrail debunkers being delicate in regards to chemtrail conspiracy supporters
Religion supporters being easily upset over comments critical of religion
Atheists being uptight over comments from the religious
Extraterrestrial/UFO fans easily hurt by pointed questions and comments
ET/UFO deniers/debunkers offended by the staunch position of supporters
Conservatives upset over liberals
Liberals upset over conservatives
Members who call another member a "disinfo agent" being incensed at being call the same
The list of an increase in ultra-sensitivity toward topics can go on and on, and includes those on all sides of a given topic, debate, issue,
Where there are genuine personal attacks within these complaints, we take action. And in some cases, such as the 9/11 or Secret Societies forums, our
action may be more severe than other forums because of previous problems. But as of late, more often than not, the complaints we're seeing are less
and less about personal attacks, and more and more inspired by personal sensitivities.
Criticism and Harsh Questions About Your Theories Are Not Personal Attacks
This is the most common form of invertebrate complaint we're currently seeing. One or more members posing on-topic and pointed questions about your
theory or position is not a personal attack.
Anyone posting to AboveTopSecret.com, regardless as to your position as a conspiracist or
debunker, should welcome and embrace the environment of critical analysis that is ATS -- it is the only way to refine, improve, harden, or even
discard the ideas we have.
Skepticism is not "anti-conspiracy"
We've seen, on many occasions, where newer members are often shocked, if not put-off, buy the general amount of skeptical contributors on ATS. Those
members should be aware that there is a significant difference between "skepticism" and "denial." All too often, we've seen exuberant conspiracy
followers automatically assume that the skeptical point of view is that of a habitual debunker and knee-jerk denialist. This type of thinking is
counter-productive to seeking the truth. Skepticism and critical-thinking are vitally important attributes to anyone who is genuinely concerned with
any conspiracy theory. A healthy dose of skeptical questions hones our theories and aids in the process of discarding speculative aspects that may not
be properly supported. With that in mind, however, there are those who appear to practice reflexive-denial toward anything conspiracy related, and
those people can be disruptive to the type of environment we seek to foster. However, they should not and shall not be ignored because they provide a
valuable metric that our suppositions and conclusions must surpass.
Criticism Of A Group Of Like-Minded People Is Not A Personal Attack
This is the second-most common form of hypersensitive complaint we've been receiving. While such comments may help to provide insight into the
author, posting something like, "UFO believers are fools," may be somewhat offensive, but is not typically a direct personal attack (this where
context becomes important). As proponents of a broad spectrum of highly-speculative concepts and provocative conspiracy theories, our most important
attributes that display professionalism and earnestness are a thick-skin, resiliency, and grace under pressure. We cannot be over-sensitive to
broad-stroke criticism and instead must politely smile, brush it off, and continue our quest.
Conspiracy Theorists Will Be Anti-Establishment
This is an area of complaint we've actually been expecting... and are now experiencing. For the past eight years, an intensely-disliked Republican
administration inspired thousands-upon-thousands of threads of highly critical and often derogatory topics. For a long period of time, conspiracy
theorists appeared to be fanatical democrats/liberals. Now that we have a democrat in office, many of the liberal "fan boys" are incredulous in
their dismay over the apparent transformation of ATS -- we dare to harshly criticize the new administration. We've even had long-term members
announce their frustrated departure form ATS for this very reason. Criticism of a political ideology is not a personal insult directed at fans of that
Criticism Of The Israeli Government Is Not Anti-Semitism
We've only seen a slight rise in this type of complaint, which seems to be lock-step in sync with the rise of general sensitivity to this within the
culture at large. The past few decades have provided conspiracy theorists and historical scholars with several reasons to be harshly critical of many
of the policies and actions of the Israeli government... as is the case, most certainly, with nearly every nation on this planet. We anticipate, and
hope, that the kind of member who chooses to participate in discussions on ATS is able to parse the difference between this type of commentary and
that which is racially motivated by a generalization of Jewish people.
We Will Do Our Part
As always, we (the staff of ATS) will do our part to ensure that civility and decorum are maintained within discussion threads. But please, we ask
that you (our members) do your part to understand that disagreement and criticism is not automatically uncivil impropriety... it is the nature of
intelligent, thoughtful, and passionate debate. No one learns from a vanilla environment of like-minded people, knowledge and wisdom is acquired by
testing the limits of our understand and having our ideas challenged. Embrace that challenge. You will be the better for it, and you will evolve a
spine to be envied.
[edit on 29-3-2009 by SkepticOverlord]