The stages of the journey into the community of ATS

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posted on Sep, 13 2010 @ 11:50 AM
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Dearest Friends,

It is with sincere humility that I offer for your consideration, a treatise regarding the fortunate phenomenon that is Abovetopsecret.com, and the common cycles of reactions that I observed as I matured as a member of our community. The reason I am compelled to share this is because of the ‘echoes’ of similarity between what I have experienced, and what it appears to me, many other members experience as they participate in the community. Perhaps most striking to me is the fact that regardless of tenure, position, or level of participation in the community, all are subject to varying degrees of what I consider to be:

“The stages of the journey into the community of ATS”

*** I post this as a member - please do not consider this in any way, form, or aspect, representative of the Above Network or ATS' ownership or policy***

Preface:

Those of you who may have run across my contributions before may recall, I frequently excuse my verbosity and make a pledge to struggle to restrain it, for the sake of mercy to unsuspecting readers, and (if you'll indulge the pretense) as an act of self-discipline. In this instance, I intend to make no such effort. I will be as verbose as it takes to get my point across; hopefully you can forgive my tendency to occasionally restate the obvious. Furthermore, I will be engaging in a dangerous practice: namely, that of generalization. As you may notice in my signature, it is something I resist overlooking by nature, simply because generalization is too often the broadest brush-stroke that gives rise to the pettiest of arguments. Volumes could be written which describe the folly of generalization and the power it can bestow upon those who are disinclined to agree for the sake of contrariety.

There are a number of premises that are important to acknowledge as we discuss something as general as the ‘experiences of an ATS user’. I will not belabor the obvious ‘technical’ user experiences such as the initial shock of discovering a plethora of topics, ranging from the ridiculous to the sublime; the sheer volume of content in which you can easily lose yourself, or the common experience of most any user anywhere on the Internet, such as learning the limitations and uses of the tools and interface as provided by the host.

We must also acknowledge the presence of the Terms and Conditions, which offer our community the means to restrain passion of conviction and palliate the conflict of opinion that can arise, while offering the consistent hope of an equitable and productive membership as a reasonable supposition.


“Stages of the journey?”

First of all, why “journey?”

I consider it a journey because it is nearly impossible to experience anything without embracing the notion of a ‘before’ and ‘after’, such linear experiences are all journeys to one extent or another. Almost any activity that carries us from one environment to another involves having to reassess your perceptions, gauge your situation, and adjust your behavior or mindset accordingly; and finally, to digest your experiences in light of the relative changes between where you once were, and where you are now.

Why “stages?”

I selected the imagery of stages as a not-so-subtle parallel to Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’ five stages of grief. (Originally “denial”, “anger”, “bargaining”, “depression”, and “acceptance”; but some add “Shock or Disbelief” and “guilt” to make seven.) However, given that we are not discussing grief, I see the stages as taking a distinctly different form. In fact, I believe that any comparison between the two beyond the convenience of structure would be inappropriate. I make no pretension of claiming this is the most adequate model of generalization, but it will do for my purposes.

What is “Abovetopsecret.com”?

For any site like this, in which numerous people participate for different reasons, and or with disparate intentions, no one definition will satisfy the whole of the community. I suspect most will concede that the answer will align itself most closely with the intention and efforts of the progenitors and administrators; although even creators can lose undetermined degrees of control, even if only temporarily, for various reasons.

It may surprise some, and may even elicit some defiance, that regardless of what the members (or even the progenitors) consider the ‘correct’ answer, it never is, and never will be, “their” definition that prevails. Only posterity with its enhanced blessing of hindsight can hope to correctly summarize the nature and impact of a construct such as “abovetopsecret.com”. Of course, it is in the nature of enterprise that such eventualities be foreseen and influenced, so the prerogative of a definition again, defers to the progenitors.

That specific ‘desired’ definition will have a sway on the experiences of the inbound new member, as well as the experiences of the ‘resident’ member who must endure the evolution and growth of the interplay between what could, and what should be, both of which are subjective notions.

Stage one: “Discovery”

General

You might think that stage one would vary according to the manner in which you came to ATS. But the reasons for being here are so varied that the first stage has to include any cause of initial contact. The presumption is that the interest in the target information was legitimate and enduring. Whether it was accidental, recommended, topical searches, or other motivations that bring you to ATS, it appears that the initial stage is commonly represented in the recognition of a new resource, potentially unfiltered by a specific agenda, or at least devoid of disingenuity, and more attractive than that which one can see collected in other topically focused sites or MSM sources.

Impressions

There are more than a few words to describe common first impressions: On the positive side we have seen awe of overwhelming amounts of information, impressive idea exchanges, enticing position statements, bracing candor, gleeful ‘kid in a candy store’ compulsion to participate, the “Aha!” discovery, and hopeful anticipation. On the negative side we have, apprehension (usually limited to the bias of the particular material viewed), anger (regarding people’s freedom to discuss or propagate ideas the visitor finds repugnant), fear (that some of what is discussed may actually be true or an apparently accepted ‘lie’), confusion (at the volume and variety of disparate and contradictory member contributions), and finally despair (that ‘people are wrong’ on the internet, or ‘what I believe is viewed negatively’ by many members.)

Flow

Stage one is relatively short-lived. It encompasses, after all, a quick reaction to new input, often prior to fully appreciating the methodology of the exchange of ideas in the community, and usually before a complete judgment can be rendered about the community as a whole (if the abovetopsecret.com community is anything, it IS diverse.)

This stage usually concludes after a conscious decision is rendered regarding how the member will interface with the community. Once the initial impact of discovery fades and the initial members’ assessments is setting in, Stage one evaporates into the ether.

In this, like any of the subsequent stages, the outward character and inward nature of the member attenuates potential outcomes of exchanges, and the perceived value of membership in the community.

There is a definitive pattern that arises when a new member, in Stage one, begins to assert their presence. Many times, these patterns can be generalized by the immediate nature of the topic, and the capacity the member has to express themselves and absorb the concepts of others. There will be difficulty if the new member has a preconceived notion that differs from the reality of the community.

At the risk of alienating some, or giving a poor impression by oversight or incompleteness, I will generalize the character that members can choose to move from Stage one “Discovery” to Stage two “Engaging.”
Generalization is an act of synthesis, and as in cooking a meal, leaving out small elements from the final product can change the flavor of the result dramatically, so bear with me as I undertake to cook up some profiles of characteristic behavior as we move into Stage two.

Stage Two: “Engaging”

General

The very first post of any member varies in form and purpose as dramatically as the differences between the many topics to which the abovetopsecret.com community provides access. There are those who approach their membership with zeal and passion, some of which are purely internal or personal, others less so.
I could no more describe all the nuances of the choices members make in this phase than I could describe the ‘typical’ ATS member (actually there is NO typical member, just as there is no ‘typical’ person). But there are certain elements of the choices that do survive generalization.

At the moment, it is difficult to embrace any other notion than abovetopsecret.com is a discussion forum. Perhaps an adequate description of such forums would be that it is an internet site that may contain several categories of information, consisting of distinct sub-forums made up of threads which are collections of individual posts.

Impressions

Generally speaking, a member’s past experience with other such internet entities will dictate how they approach abovetopsecret.com. In the odd scenario where a member has had no exposure to this kind of community idea exchange platforms, it is much more likely that they will not bear with them the bad habits of other less refined or less moderated communities. However those members require more patience and stewardship if they are to thrive as members and contribute meaningfully to any ongoing dialogue, as they lack contextual understanding of how we communicate with one another.

The Terms and Conditions are an essential component of the culture of abovetopsecret.com. It is both a comprehensive control over behavior and a simplistic code of common understanding when interfacing with the community on behalf of the progenitor’s model of business.

Flow

Members can choose to be overt actors within a thread, and the underlying principle of membership implies contribution. Not all members contribute, opting instead to ‘lurk’ (read only) although the percentages of lurker vs. participants is unavailable to me (and in fact changes over time), it seems unlikely that lurkers figure prominently in the community aspect of abovetopsecret.com as they are not visible, they neither add nor detract from the self-perceived value of the community as a whole. Thus aside from passive traffic metrics (within the business model), they are non-extant and irrelevant to this particular treatise.

In considering the flow of Stage two, I could not escape the constant variable (ironic phrasing there) of member personality. Some members even with similar personalities may present totally different styles of contribution because of intent, or bias. So the elements of engaging require in my estimation a fundamental distillation of core aspects.

Determining the nomenclature was difficult, and in the end I was drawn to label (or generalize) into a few basic characteristics. Among the reasons members contribute, I find that they inform, commiserate, agitate, inspire, reject, or repulse. The method of engagement varies with the members approach to any specific topic, but members generally retain a preferred approach sometimes even to the disdain of other members.

The “informing” poster is perhaps the rarest, preferring a journalistic style to passing information, sometimes not even bothering to invite a dialogue on the topic. The “commiserator” deals in evoking emotion; either affirming or contradicting established memes, and often reveling in the chaos of “comparison and contrast” chatter that follows their post. The “agitator” wishes to incite or provoke response; usually limiting themselves to topics which offer themselves to bias or dogmatic conviction. The “inspirer” seeks to elicit input with more zeal than the others, seeking to affirm, confirm, or approve the topic perspective. The “rejector” is also inclined to heated debate, although often these members limit themselves to arguments which they are likely to challenge successfully, and rarely acceding or acquiescing when the argument goes against their predilection. The “repulsor” is an offensive specialist with an array of tactics to obfuscate, complicate, deflect, and or otherwise render any discussion too uncomfortable or too difficult to pursue without specific clarification; while this may seem a negative description, the repulsor is an important balancer of arguments in that they force an effort to solidify the grounds of any discussion and actually contribute by their presence as they reinforce the recognition of bias …. Unless they are not true contributors.

There is such a class of member who is not a true contributor. They are not actual members per se, as they apparently exist only to disrupt and degrade any experience of other members. There are many reasons why such entities harass discussion forums, but most are founded upon simple childishness, or organized evil, or a juvenile propensity to seek satisfaction by disruption and shock.

With these classes of member ‘engagement’ comes one last element. I have chosen to distinguish this proposed type because of its purity. The “true questioner” is an engagement style which any member can adopt to find out something they don’t know. The true questioner offers a prima facia compliment, the understanding that the questioned source – be it the community or a segment thereof, is worthy of enough respect to consider as a legitimate and perhaps even trustworthy source of information. One can question as an agitator, a commiserator, or other type of questioner, but the “true questioner” can be identified by the clarity of the question.

Engagement styles like these present themselves in their beginning as modus operandi of the members; they can evolve, devolve, become entrenched, or undergo ascension as the member begins to appreciate the value of the community.

Whether a member comes to abovetopsecret.com to proselytize, understand, or fantasize becomes evident fairly quickly. While intent is never a question which a member must answer, it sometimes becomes an overt matter of curiosity to other members; often to the detriment of the topic being discussed.

Members often find themselves navigating encounters which they had not anticipated, or had scripted in their minds differently than the outcome had made evident. The evolution of expectation reveals yet another aspect of the member’s ideals or objectives. Each of these forces a new stage, one which repeats over and over – almost in each thread, for every post. “Expectation” is a stage which is not so much about what exactly is expected, but more about how members react to the binary model of expectation – positive or negative.

Stage Three: “Expectation”

General

There may be some members who routinely ask themselves, “Why am I posting this?” or “What is the point of this post?” but if that is so, it appears less likely than that members post out of a compulsion to communicate. As a member of a community, or more generally, part of any group, people express themselves to assert their relevance, or the relevance of their ideas. It is a small leap from that maxim to the more prideful exercise of “being right” when others are “wrong.” Certainly self-perception and other egocentric concerns are important aspects of such motivation. But in the virtual environment, ego takes on a flat and zero-sum nature for most who are more concerned about their topic of interest, than the pleasantries of social agreement or faux-celebrity status.

Whereas few may be academically inclined in matters of social relevance (again, a very subjective notion) some are genuinely ‘experimenting’ with their input – to see exactly what will come of their comment. Will another respond, affirm, deny, ridicule, compliment, or praise seems like a valid set of expectations. Those who come to proselytize or indoctrinate, have a very short list of expectations, for they are convinced of their position, and have not posted to examine challenges to it.

Others, less frequently, post in knee-jerk fashion; once again the expectation is limited… “Listen to me. This is the answer.”

Impressions

Everyone (insofar as this treatise is concerned) knows that not to post is not to exist. You may absorb everything you read, but without the benefit of feedback, a post is little more than a whimpering footnote. Part of the affirmation of successful posting is evoking a response of some kind. We must therefore expect that a member whose posts are routinely unanswered will slowly lose the affirmation which renders value to their contributions. Such members I propose will undoubtedly become less active as they allow themselves to feel increasingly disenfranchised within their areas of interest.

Yet other posters seem able to effectively craft their contributions in such a manner as to directly challenge the community to respond. Few members intend to simply plant their opinions and walk away. I recall diligently reviewing my previous posts to see whether someone found a flaw in my reasoning or disagreed with my conclusions (if offered). I recall trying to evaluate the effectiveness of my argument or the understanding I had of a topic by the content that followed my post, or the volume of contribution to a thread I authored. I suspect many can say the same.

There are some indicators to the stage of expectation which I feel may be appropriately tagged as relevant to the idea of how it become a pivotal element in the evolution of the journey.

Flow

The expectation of posting (or creating a thread) is one that lends itself to the question of intent. Argumentation and sophism, bias or judgment, can be embedded overtly or not within a thread or post. Such artifacts of communication reveal intent and often demonstrate the poster’s mindset at the moment of creation of content. The subtlety or clumsiness of the embedding will dictate the nature of the responders, as well as their responses in most cases.

How the responses are met, reveals more still.

Since early in the dawn of discussion boards the presence of ‘trolls’ was identified. One post wonders, fly-by posters, drop and run disruptors. These elements are noise. Since they provide no real feedback I exclude them from a place within the set of members in the community, hence my categorization of “trolls” as ‘noise’ in the environment.

When the expectation of the creators is not met by the members of the community, the creator will begin to respond in a variety of ways. They may rail at the community; they may engage in bizarre or anti-social behavior, they may become obtuse non-communicators who entertain no dissent and persist in their own trollish behavior.

The expectation stage marks the solidification of the member’s self-perceived place. By virtue of his or her own posturing they may feel their ‘position’ is suddenly not appealing, or too complicated to remedy. They may feel less inclined to ask, and more to tell; or they may begin to formulate a bias regarding the community which will dictate the form and approach of all future contributions.

Some allow themselves the latitude of being incapable of convincing others to change their views without considering it a failure. They will limit their participation into areas where their comfort is assured, rarely if ever, venturing into other forums. Others will become inclined to seek out and befriend only those with whom they agree (although it is much more likely that they are actually seeking those who agree with them.)

Expectation leads members to evaluate the entire community based on their interactions with a very limited group of members. If those members rejected the poster, the negativity will manifest itself eventually, if the poster receives affirmation, they will likely create a link to it (pardon the Internet pun) so as to rely on it for future moments of doubt.

In the end, the committed member will have developed a community “social” landscape which becomes comfortable; and all disruption to that landscape will be met as change; requiring immediate assessment as to whether it is to be accepted or rejected.

The community of abovetopsecret.com is based upon and cannot veer away from communications. The virtual society is bolstered by the Terms and Conditions which creates a reasonable window of potential scenarios within the community. Lacking identity, there could be a strong impish urge to behave foolishly since anonymity lacks repercussions. The administration of the site in accordance with the Terms and Conditions provides the promise of an effort to maintain a mature and civil environment. When that expectation is not met, action is forced upon the established moderator core to react accordingly.

There are however, members who are not prepared to experience an environment such as this due to age, experience, or disposition. And there are also those who are either unwilling, or ill-equipped to cope with the virtual social environment due to matters of choice. In such instances, the expectation becomes more important than the member.

How a member reacts to the ability to successfully predict outcomes in threads and posts exchanges determines the foundation of their eventual “self-inclusion” into the community. It may necessitate an understanding that they are visitors in a larger entity which they cannot directly influence. It may further necessitate the acceptance of the community’s limitations, self-imposed or otherwise.

Stage Four: “Self-inclusion”

General

The seminal moment in any members’ tenure at abovetopsecret.com is the point, where whether by conscious decision or casual acceptance, they declare themselves (to themselves) to be “a member” of ATS. It is a point where there is no longer a question that they are interested in the ‘life’ of the site, its status, its success, and its reputation.

At such a point, they will inevitably find themselves speaking in terms of ‘we’ and ‘us’. This is the most delicate stage.

Impressions

A member may never reach this stage. It is possible to endure membership in a constant flux of consumership regarding abovetopsecret.com. Never getting here may or may not behoove the community, but it is certainly no benefit to the business model which supports it. Stage four becomes the point of commitment which allows members to feel virtual ownership of the site.

Every action from the moment of ‘self-inclusion’ onward is one of contribution and stewardship. While occasionally the zeal of this level of membership creates a few complications (mini-modding being one notable case,) it is the equivalent in the business model to becoming a ‘regular customer’ to whom appreciation and consideration should be afforded, according to the conventional wisdom of commerce.

Self-inclusion manifests its delicacy in yet another very distinguishable way: an evident sense of elitism. While members may dabble in the casual flummery of ego stroking they may fail to see the disincentive such attitudes offer to those who are averse to it. Ego gratification is of course a surface incentive; but the more mature and worthy a person becomes, the less likely it is that they are to appreciate elitism. Those from whom the community might benefit most will become further distanced from the community which espouses an elitist nature.

Once a member embraces abovetopsecret.com as more than just a website, every contribution is much more likely to be a labor of love, an effort to augment, reinforce, and exemplify the freedom of expression the community nurtures.

Flow

In the beginning of any relationship, be it personal or otherwise, the evaluation of the benefits and sacrifices of the relationship must be reconciled.

During self-inclusion (which is, in effect, a sudden change) that reconciliation becomes a given. Gone are the distinctions of one members discomfort with other members’ freedom to disagree. The offense that might have been taken at one’s argument not being accepted (despite rational argument) dissipates. The ability to exchange ideas, the value of dispassionate logic, the opportunity to contribute to a stream of inquiry and debate becomes the currency of import. The currency of ego becomes a caricature of itself.

Despite the freedom to do otherwise, personal disdain and pandering become repulsive and usually openly frowned upon techniques of interaction. Sadly, in such constructs, popularity is no benefit; such a tendency – to be well-regarded and well known – appears akin, whether true or not, of considering oneself a ‘better’ member; and even the most miniscule exposure of human frailty or sensitivity invites the slings and arrows of those who feel threatened or intimidated by the more popular member.

The final challenge is to nurture self-inclusion without reducing the task to appeals to personal glory. Successfully confronting ignorance becomes the value-added element of the relationship. Self-inclusion can be a noble and surprisingly rewarding phase to reach. However it requires a very important and fleeting component… faith in the nature of the community. Once the business model begins to assert itself above the ideal, regardless of pragmatic considerations, inclusion in the community will begin to seem more like an effect than a cause. Such a paradigm shift brings with it a pall of sober gravitas regarding the realities that haunt many inspired members…, that ultimately, they are not the center of the universe and would be missed only superficially should they retire from the community.

To counter that eventuality, the community must appear to spontaneously become empowered to affect outcomes. Any successful outcome can denote and imply influence and power. Most – if not all – humans seek libido dominus, the desire to be of superior or ultimate consequence. In a communal setting, this is a difficult thing to achieve without ‘war.’ Even in its least destructive sense, war is a conflict in which there are winners and losers.

People seek to align themselves with the winning side; it is part of the survival drive. Self-inclusion is not a reckless step; and the more thoughtfully approached, the more enduring the inclusion is to last. However, lacking any true threat to self, the protection of the ego becomes necessary simply because it is the one thing that can be attacked via a virtual medium. Members may engage in such aggression because once self-inclusion is established in the members mind, the presence of another antagonist might present a diminishment of the community in the member’s opinion.

Other more transparent issues can arise, such as bias born of ignorance or offense perceived by reason of a flawed or sensitive self-image. None of these can be anticipated, but the members’ arrival at the self-inclusion stage will make them viable opportunities for conflict.

As we can see, the benefits of the members’ willingness to ‘belong’ may be balanced by the vulnerability to interpersonal conflict, and depending on the character of the member, this can lead to either a withering of the commitment to the community, or the flowering of a contributor who takes pride in the community itself.

If we presume that a member will endure the inevitable bumps and bruises of interacting with an ostensibly global community of people who derive satisfaction from open dialogue; we can expect the relationship (virtual though it may be) to wax and wane in both pleasantries and irritation; much like any normal relationship. Over time a library of experiences begins to accumulate in the member, some cherished and some that the member would prefer to forget. The potential for the cumulative experience to last is largely dependent on factors both within and external to the individual, as well as the community as a whole.

This body of experiences leads to the arrival at the potential final stage of the ATS journey. This final stage is one of “totality.” It is the stage most often assumed to exist, and yet most frequently, not achieved - and with good reason.

Stage five: “Totality”

General

If we consider abovetopsecret.com to be the host of a true community, we can begin to consider the community as a separate singular entity whose many facets and collective experiences are all shared by members collectively. As members of a group, all are subject to the myriad of influences seen in today’s world; and the members are susceptible to the same pressures and suggestions that they might experience in a non-virtual environment. The desire to belong to ‘some’ group can be a factor, although in a virtual world where anonymity is the norm, it will never satisfy the ego drive looking to affirm itself by associative reasoning.

Those mythical basement-dwelling people with no social skills cannot thrive here without the outward affirmation personal social contact provides. The virtual environment, no matter how robust, makes for a poor substitute, so the irony is, most of the much caricatured 40-year old male living in his mother’s basement with no life outside the Internet is not one which you will likely find on a site like abovetopsecret.com (although as with all generalizations, exceptions should be expected.) “Totality” precludes the architecture of an engineered-imaginary persona because the generation of content as is the norm in the community makes the exercise self-defeating in the long run. It is virtually impossible to become a member of a community using a persona that is not ‘you’ in the most significant sense. Given enough time, ‘you’ will break through in the community, despite the contrivance of an alternate persona.

Stage five “Totality” is a matter of expanding the members’ breadth of vision to include not only what is happening in current affairs in the areas of interest, but retains a constant evaluation of the future of abovetopsecret.com in light of the place it has in the members’ lives. Among the first considerations of totality is the idea of participating as a member in the capacity of Moderator.

Flow

Most who reach this stage understand implicitly that Moderators are no more than members whom the host organization has entrusted to exercise their collective judgment to resolve irritations to the community on a case-by-case basis. In fact, members who have not reached this stage can often be recognized by their confabulation of extended authority and overestimated influence that a moderator has. In time that view becomes a bit less radically removed from reality and ultimately, if Moderatorship is in the cards, they learn that it is a simple volunteer duty one can assume should the actual staff consider them trustworthy of independently responding to each miniature crisis while diligently adhering to the Terms and Conditions, and knowing when it’s the appropriate time for a senior staff member to become directly involved. Other members reaching stage five know that moderator duties are not “all that,” and one can be both a valuable member of the community and a critical contributor without having to carry the euphemistic badge of moderator. It becomes clear that being a Moderator does not grant special privileges or access conveying any ego-gratification other than what the individual self-realizes.

“Totality” bears a burden however that other stages of membership lack. It is a compulsion to internalize abovetopsecret.com into the members’ lives such as to ‘check up on it’ frequently, to review the submissions and posts of others with a critical eye, to expect that outside the obvious business considerations that must exist to provide continuity, such things as cyber-bullying, virtual cliques, spamming, underhanded commercialism by members, and hoaxing are dealt with according to the community’s values and most importantly, that such ‘values’ exist in practice, as demonstrated by the actions of the community itself.

Where totality diverges from other stages is in the propensity for members to recall ‘the good old days’ where ‘things were better’. Members in the totality stage recognize the ebb and flow of seasonal traffic and have seen the repeated dynamics which come into play as politically active influences begin to attempt to manipulate the community in the struggle for political support during election season. These members are not easily moved into the less resilient mindset of “ATS has gone downhill” or other such passé declarations; and generally recollect the differences between ‘now’ and ‘then’ as less distracting than newer members or members with less personal commitment to the community.

__________________________________________________________
I have labored to finish this treatment of the subject and while I believe I could spend months refining and redrafting the final piece; I would only end up lengthening it. And I think it is safe to say, dear reader, that if you have stuck through this contribution thus far, you deserve my gratitude and my compliments on your patience and resolve.

I offer no claim that this is an authoritative work, to be considered as anything other than my musings regarding a rather convoluted subject. And within these words, I hope you can find something you can relate to; or perhaps improve upon.

I know that there are many directions in which this discussion can expand; but for the time being, I leave that to your collective wisdom.

Again, thank you for your diligence and patience.

Be well,
M.




edit on Mon Sep 13 2010 by DontTreadOnMe because: separating line was skewing the page




posted on Sep, 13 2010 @ 12:14 PM
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Wow, I had NO IDEA, just how literate you really are. I would have to spend 6 weeks on thesaurus to write so eloquently...

What a treat to read this well put together piece of intuitive and masterly written article, it could be used for outside sources like potential ads who may not understand what a eco-balance ATS really is.

Amazing work, and even though I would have to add words like , personal tantrums, hurt feelings, elevated enthusiasm, unexpected mood swings, biting ones tongue, sore fanny syndrome, self discovery, expanded consciousness, compassion, and a certain "knowing" which only happens after a million hours on the forum, where you 'sense' when something big is going on and catch the news instantly..


excellent.



posted on Sep, 13 2010 @ 12:19 PM
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reply to post by antar
 


You are very kind....

I know this thing became 'larger than myself.' But I appreciate your taking the time to let me know it didn't go unread... I figured no one would read this....



posted on Sep, 13 2010 @ 12:20 PM
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I have compiled my own list of the stages,
not because I disagree with the OP.
But because I'm jealous and
wish to steal his thunder
by interjecting a short
list for the illiterate.


David Grouchy

Layer 1: detect liars

Layer 2: accepting of mod actions

Layer 3: remove counter agents

Layer 4: detect corruption

Layer 5: surprise inspections

Layer 6: treatment of enemies

Layer 7: treatment of the poor



Many never get past Level 2.
Even more think they are level 3
but are just learning level 1 stuff still.




edit on 13-9-2010 by davidgrouchy because: cleaned up formating



posted on Sep, 13 2010 @ 12:27 PM
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ATS and the indivudual role within this community is a great topic!

Members present a 'avatar' persona either by wanting to be or sell themselves as different to what they are, or those, (like me admittedly) who have enjoyed creating 'a brand'.

Our Personalities and their contributions on ATS, love em or hate them are what make this site so diverse. The topics we deal in is a 'tool' to express a persona, whether that persona is 'skeptic', 'ego maniac' 'social observer' 'goof ball' etc etc. The topics initially grab people in, but more often or than not, they move from being patrons in a theatre to performers on the stage.

You have really understood us here Maxxy, and I would say you have presented a excellent petrie dish swab of our pond



posted on Sep, 13 2010 @ 12:30 PM
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I joined ats, trying to find answers, I could not find, about personal experiences.

I ended up realizing i would not find the truth here.

My journey started with me feeling a bit wild and crazy I guess, considering I used to have really strange dreams, or just some weird experiences. I learned quickly, not to post such nonsense on the boards and just discovered to deal with what I have been shown, via, just eating spicy food before bed, or maybe being a kid with a wild imagination.

I in turn at this point have become more of a observer, I used to think I was a bit mad, I guess for being so sensitive to the world, yet I think at this point I have gain much wisdom, from such a vice considering the world is still asking the questions that we are provided no answers to, and I am quite confident the world will die never getting that final satisfaction of the answers. In the meantime thou, we will have people proclaiming they have answers and can explains things with well, no answers.

With that said, I still enjoy reading the imaginative posts here on ATS, sometimes you can learn things without focusing on the point being written but the writing to get to the point. At this point that is the best I can get, I think i have learned as much as I can, about the strangeness of life and the wonders of the universe, without having any answers. It took a long time for me to accept the fact I will never really know, no matter how much I thought I did.


edit on 13-9-2010 by Bicent76 because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 13 2010 @ 12:43 PM
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i couldn't finish reading this, it was way too boring. if you want an all natural sleep aid just try reading this before bed.



posted on Sep, 13 2010 @ 12:46 PM
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Originally posted by 2weird2live2rare2die
i couldn't finish reading this, it was way too boring. if you want an all natural sleep aid just try reading this before bed.


I'm sorry for boring you. Unfortunately, I know of no other way to describe what I was thinking... what can I say?

On the upside... at least you can get a good nap now.



posted on Sep, 13 2010 @ 12:48 PM
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reply to post by Bicent76
 


I think most times the "answers" we desire require some assembly. All we can hope to do is understand the pieces well enough to make a working model.



posted on Sep, 13 2010 @ 12:50 PM
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reply to post by zazzafrazz
 


Awww... you're turning my head!


Thanks, I know it's far from perfect... but then... so am I.



posted on Sep, 13 2010 @ 01:15 PM
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I admit to not having gone through your entire post.

From my perspective, I simply had nowhere else to go. There are serious issues in society that need addressing and when I saw the lens of technology focusing on myself, I became alarmed in a thousand different ways.

I was determined to spit it out at all costs, and I did. One day I saw that, besides the yanking of my most important writings on behalf of tptb (or the mods), I was beginning to edit myself, or not reveal what I intended. I guess I wanted to become more isolated, not sure. Eventually I saw that I am pretty unpopular with someone here, according to the point system, which I never even considered until a week or so ago. I don't stay rigidly on topic, because I see connections that others do not, and I redirect insults back at those who use them on victims when saying the state should prosecute to the fullest extent of the law (Gary McKinnon for example). I don't respond to any personal messages, and I use the home area only because my computer directs me there when I note someone I dislike. I guess I'm a pre-clear by scientology terminology, a real retard. All I care about is getting to the heart of the matter, and I believe I am there.

It may be that I should check out now..walk before they make me run, so to speak. Anymore, when I click on 'most recent', I am at a loss for finding inspiration. ATS is a simple tool that I may have outgrown/outlived in terms of usefulness.

My point is that perhaps leaving ATS is the final expression of growth as concerns the site. I don't want to risk being spurned by those I admire and contact, and I don't want to find out how hated I am by those who may be writing back, so I avoid messages. I simply wanted to sound the alarm that technology is going to waste us all, but for the most compliant, with it's desires, just like I said in college papers, which cost me my diploma. It never bothered me, really, that this happened. If it should start to do so now, then I have regressed, and badly.

I mourn the loss of Liberty. I mourn the simple loss of self, freedom, of 'hatred', and the dawn of the day of political correctness, and absolute power to enforce it. It is as though one threw strike after strike and the pins do not fall; the batter stays at bat while the pitcher's arm falls off. Even I dreamt that while unable to keep a tennis ball on the court, there were chairs, obstacles and things placed all around my side of the back court, and I played an invisible opponent, never scoring a point. What I have consistently railed against is taking shape here, slowly but inexorably, and although I love reading this site, it may not be what I'd hoped for.

Like a writer who cannot afford the pleasure of reading while composing, I will come back and read your post in fullness.



posted on Sep, 13 2010 @ 01:32 PM
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reply to post by Maxmars
 


Excellent post.

I actually feel lucky because ATS is the first forum I have ever been a member of. I have joined other forums since joining ATS and I was shocked at the difference. I don't think any other website is run as smoothly as this one, particularly with the Terms and Conditions and help of the Moderators.



posted on Sep, 13 2010 @ 01:36 PM
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reply to post by davidmann
 


All I can hope for is the possibility that I may have written something which you can 'use' somehow, whether it be as a bad example or otherwise.

I suspect I understand the sentiment you express, and perhaps this answer will not reach that sentiment, because I expect that reserving one full intent while posting can create an opening for misunderstanding.

I make no pretense that I 'have it all figured out' and in fact, my true intention is to start a dialogue which may in turn, help me more clearly synthesize my own understanding of matters - especially in regards to an on-line community such as ATS. I have high hopes for the community though, but I am at times naive and/or hopeful to a fault.

Occasionally this leads me to cynicism and despair, a condition with which I would wager many are familiar.

While you may be inclined to walk away from the community, I would hope that it would only be a hiatus, and upon your return you may find a new way to engage ATS that may be fruitful for you. You are evidently capable and perceptive enough to discern a way to create input which provides you with digestible feedback. In such matters, no one is master; we all must learn not only of ourselves, but of what being ourselves means and how translates to those who aren't us. If that makes any sense at all
.

Please rest assured that your feedback was much valued and I hope you can muster enough caffeine to endure reading the whole OP. I seek no affirmation, I'm just hoping you find something in the text in which you can find a meaning that will alleviate some of your disappointment.

edit on 13-9-2010 by Maxmars because: (no reason given)


+9 more 
posted on Sep, 13 2010 @ 02:05 PM
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Something so subjective to be generalised objectively without misrepresenting its essence is pure brilliance. Your thread speaks volumes about this place. Not only have you documented the development of this community, you have documented the development of its members too. I'm not sure which i find more awe inspiring your thread, or the content and context of the thread - Abovetopsecret.com. In a way my confusion is contradictory, because they are synonymous in nature... this site is just aweinspiring.

Its like a wilderness and a sanctuary at the same time. Some people need an outlet, affirmations of self, others seek knowledge, affirmations of mind. Some people affirm themselves at the expense of the communal mind, others affirm themselves for the sake of the communal mind (like you Maxmars). Similarly some people seek knowledge and lurk, while others seek knowledge with work. The delicacy lies in how each individual chooses to operate, and where their intention lies. Affirming themselves through irrelevant dogma or compulsive posting to be "noticed", or affirming the community through relevant proactive - interactive - conversation.

This is what i have understood from your post, albeit minus the complex dynamics you so wonderfully outlined.

Well done maxmars, this is amazing work. Your something new: A Cyber Sociologist.

edit on 13/9/2010 by DizzyDayDream because: depluralised"thread"



posted on Sep, 13 2010 @ 02:24 PM
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reply to post by DizzyDayDream
 


To paraphrase a civiI war quote " I would be flattering myself if I claimed to come as close to the point as you did in a handful of sentences, as I did in this gargantuan OP." Thank you for your kindness...

Cyber-Sociologist ... hmmm .... I like that



posted on Sep, 13 2010 @ 04:51 PM
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reply to post by dalan.
 


Well put. I too enjoyed this as my fist interactive online experience, well pretty much so, and going else where has always proven a mistake or dissapointment. I get perturbed sometimes when I have posts removed but am glad the Mods are here to keep thing flowing smoothly too.



posted on Sep, 13 2010 @ 07:36 PM
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Holy # max!

Even though I had to use the dictionary a couple of times, I know that just because I read that entire OP I am now a little bit wiser and a litte bit smarter of a person. Not so much that I'm going to try to build a rocket from scratch, but just enough to make myself smile.

Can I really have much of a response here? That was probably the most eloquent use of the english language I have ever read in my entire 30 years of life. I am glad I was able to experience it.

I do also feel that you not only "hit the nail on the head" with your points. Daniel-san style, with one swing of the hammer you have one shotted the nail completely through the board. There is no more nail, it has been vaporized, and what is left has began to create a singularity.

I'm going to reread it again, and possibly I feel the more I read it, the smarter I'll become.

=D



edit on 13-9-2010 by sticky because: one missing letter



posted on Sep, 13 2010 @ 07:57 PM
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reply to post by sticky
 


Thank you.... I needed a good laugh.....

I'm glad you liked it, but make no mistake... it wasn't like I just thought it up in one sitting...

I'm sort of glad to have written it now... you folks made me feel like I did good - Thanks !



posted on Sep, 13 2010 @ 08:04 PM
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reply to post by Maxmars
 


I was going to read this though on the other hand, I'm sure you know what you're talking about. I've been reading your posts long enough to have faith in the title itself. It is quite a journey. Some get lost while others find direction. Either way, it is what it is. Trolls benefit as well in this environment for it's in their better interest as well and they know so.

"Johnny"
yes sir
"Just Do the Right Thing"
what's that sir?
"You know".
But.....sir?
"Don't 'but' me".
Just get On with yourself already, jUnior.

Tossing coin though caught in mid-air.



edit on 13-9-2010 by Perseus Apex because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 13 2010 @ 08:12 PM
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reply to post by Perseus Apex
 


Ack!!! No no no, don't trust me! Read it! Read it!

I appreciate your confidence, but frankly, I would rather you read it and told me if I got something wrong!

It's better that way





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