We've stumbled our way through another wave of threads and posts questioning the integrity of those who run and moderate our beloved
AboveTopSecret.com, combined with an increase in threads worried about Shill/Sock/Agent infiltration. With that in mind, and seeing how
this older thread
has done nothing to sway the fears of "people just asking questions"
(right), I thought it time to create the definitive updated piece on these subjects for present and future haters.
The Origins of The Lie
While there have been haters spreading hate about ATS before April, 2004, most of it was merely people who didn't like us, not those making up lies
about some despicable affiliation with wicked government agencies. That type of "speculation" began when lots of people jumped to hair-brained
conclusions, based on an April Fools joke posted here
. It's clearly labeled,
"april fools," uses IP addresses not even close to real IPs which aren't the IP's of ATS then or now. Regardless of that, fools and trolls across the
Internet opted not to do their own trace, and thus we have the origins of the lie.
AboveTopSecret.com has never been under the control or influence of anyone associated with any government anywhere on the planet. AboveTopSecret.com
has never been under the control or influence of anyone other than those who we've been saying all along: SimonGray, SkepticOverlord, Springer. We
three (commonly referred to as the "Three Amigos) are not now, nor have we ever been, associated with any government group or person, or any other
outside entity that may have an interest in influencing content on AboveTopSecret.com.
I am a former advertising executive, with a deep interest in conspiracies, but a much stronger passion for user-generated content and the support of
free expression though strong Internet communities. Before advertising, I started my own company to develop interactive children's books on CD-ROM
focused on inspiring imagination. I freely left the world of advertising on Madison avenue to focus 100% of my energy on ATS and user-generated
Mark (Springer) is a reformed mortgage industry professional who jumped ship as he saw the coming chaos and the increasingly forced intense immorality
of the industry at the time. Before that, he sold high-end business insurance. Also having an interest in conspiracies (UFO/Paranormal), Mark was able
to jump in and provide some much-needed cash in a time of need in 2005... thus began his involvement in ATS.
Simon is currently pursuing a professional computer-related career away from ATS, but is still involved in every important company decision. He
started the site back in the '90's as a teenager to express his passion for top-secret government projects, especially aviation and space projects and
We three have an equal equity stake in the parent company, The Above Network, LLC, and combined represent a significant majority position.
The Above Network, LLC was formed in 2007 to officially begin a significant focus on user-generated content and "smart crowd" communities. Much of
what you see springing forth from ATS in the form of a book, radio show, and soon television and mobile apps represent the core corporate strategy of
The Above Network, LLC -- support a core user-generated content ecosystem with a universe of extensions into other media, the intent being to bring
the best of the user ecosystem to more and more people. With the aid of our CFO (Crakeur), we located a small group of like-minded venture capitalists
who were impressed with our business plan. With funding secured, we began several initiatives focused on ATS (advertising, technology upgrades, PR,
The angel investors who collectively provided the investment have a minority stake and no influence over the operation of AboveTopSecret.com. The
reason these people have not been revealed is the same reason nearly all companies never reveal first-round angel investors while the company is still
private -- the investors would become inundated with business plans from people looking for money.
Our moderation staff have been hand-picked by ownership and admin and invited to become part of the best staff on the Internet based on their activity
on ATS. They represent a diverse set of individuals from around the world with a diverse collection of interests. No one is invited without serious
consideration, and none of our staff are influenced by any outside person or entity. All staff actions are determined by the
ATS Terms & Conditions
, however, some members with an intense passion in a particular
area often feel otherwise.
Spreading The Lies Is Spreading Insults
Nothing posted above is contrary to anything we've ever said all along. Those who come here to claim otherwise -- such as ATS being controlled by the
CIA -- are calling me, Springer, SimonGray, and our entire staff cheats and liars. It's that simple. If you feel so compelled to post these lies here,
you can expect a response appropriate to someone spreading malicious lies.
The Issue of CoIntelPro
The lies that call ATS a COINTELPRO (Counter-Intelligence-Program) operation often evolve into something such as, "okay, but government shills could
still be using ATS to spread disinfo." While that statement is essentially not incorrect, there are several things that tend not to be considered.
The Ego of Conspiracy Theorists
Ever since the concept of a "conspiracy theorist" entered the lexicon, those who embrace the title often adopt an attitude that their theories are so
compelling and dangerous to "the government" that "THEY"
must be interested. While that's certainly possible, the sheer volume of
conspiracy speculation on the Internet today makes it improbable... or at the least, very rare. This is in no way a statement that one's conspiracy
speculation may be wrong, just that there are finite resources available to "THEM"
for identifying and potentially monitoring a
conspiracy theorist posting in the Internet.
Someone Who Disagrees Is Not Always a Shill
Following the above, passionate conspiracy theorists often fall into the narrow-thinking trap that those who don't share their opinion must be a shill
sent to discredit. We see this quite a bit on ATS, and it's often very disheartening to see. The realm of conspiracies is just like anything else, a
difference of opinion is most often just that and nothing more.
ATS has grown a great deal, and while our roots may be in the speculation of conspiracies and cover ups, today we are much more of a destination for
people concerned about the "full story" behind recent and current events. More and more people are aware that the mainstream news is not telling them
everything, and in some cases telling them lies. Sites like ATS are a place to parse through the additional information not covered by the mainstream
so that people may come to better-informed conclusions. Many of these people will not be conspiracy theorists and may disagree with conspiracy
theories -- but they're not shills, instead they are ordinary folk just beginning to become aware that things are not as they seem.
Shills, Disinfo Agents, Sockpuppets, Oh My!
Sure, in the grand scheme of things it is certainly possible that various persons, either government, government contractors, or directed by a
corporate entity, may be tasked with attempting to influence opinion on AboveTopSecret.com. My reaction...
Seriously. It may be downright impossible to discern the different between:
1) a "shill" sent to spread disnfo
2) an ordinary person who doesn't accept most conspiracies
3) someone fooled by mainstream media
4) someone passionate about a manufactured political ideology
5) someone who is afraid to consider conspiracies
And since it's impossible to discern the difference in an environment like ATS, why get worked up over it?
The reality is that those you think may be a shill are numbers 2-5, and actual "shills" in the severe minority (if at all). So the best strategy is
not to sweat the motives and treat them as you would any person who simply disagrees -- state your case with authority, excellent back-up,
well-composed responses, and polite compassion. You may not change their opinion, but the nature of your response may change the opinion of the
thousands of other people likely to read your response, but who never considered joining ATS.
And if somehow someone is identified as a bon-a-fied shill, there's no reason not to still have compassion. It's got to be a tough job with long
hours, low pay, high stress, and difficult to define route for career advancement. Feel sorry for the shill.
edit on 5-7-2011 by
SkepticOverlord because: typo