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New Posts and Hoaxes

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posted on Dec, 13 2011 @ 09:54 AM
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As many of you know, I had left ATS about six months ago, because, quite honestly, I was disappointed with all of the rumor posts being put up by a significant number of members. I was also sick of seeing decent posts, with very important topics, being taken over by trolls, bringing great discussions down to the level of junior high cafeteria food fight.
About a week ago, I returned to see if things have changed.
What I found was quite disconcerting. I found a significant number of posts, where the OP link was a single link to a rumor, which, unfortunately had been replicated by other internet forums. The old adage about repeating a lie enough times, and it becomes the "truth", was certainly present in those threads.
Several members, including myself, had exposed these threads as hoaxes, but with no luck in having them labeled as such. I understand the philosophy of ATS, according to one moderator, is to prove it was a hoax, before it could be taken down.

What I suggest and bring up for discussion:

First, there should be a strict rule that new threads that claim to expose issues such as government impositions on freedom, and such, should not be posted as FACT, if the only links are to rumors, or else they should be posted as rumors for discussion, and input from the other members. Posting such issues as "Federal Agents Demand Customer Lists From Mormon Food Storage Facility " as fact, when all it took by several of us were phone calls to confirm that this was a hoax, can result in more hatred than many members already have for the government. Don't get me wrong. I believe our government has done many things which I detest, so let's concentrate on them. In addition, such false threads make all of us look like "nuts". You said, so what? Well, consider THIS. Congress truly is considering various bills to censor the internet, AND HOAX THREADS such as I mentioned, will just give the government ALL the ammunition they need to implement these bills.


Furthermore, the time it takes to expose threads as a hoax would reduce significantly, if tighter controls were placed upon the posting of threads whose only link is to a dubious site that has been replicated WORD FOR WORD by other forums on the net.
A good rule of thumb is to question any story that just doesn't smell right, such as the one in question, AND for which there were no reputable links available, even after days of this story hit.
I'm posting this for two reasons. First, as a suggestion to the owners of ATS, as an issue to look at very closely; second, as an issue for discussion among the members.
To the owners of ATS, I have a single question:
Would you like to have posts such as I mentioned in the hands of the very people who would be very happy to shut down sites such as this? I don't mean it as a threat, because I certainly DON'T want that to happen. However, failure to act more quickly on threads such as I mentioned(and I have seen several new ones in the last few days), would certainly give them the ammunition they need, even if you use the excuse that "we don't control what our members post".




posted on Dec, 13 2011 @ 11:20 AM
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I really empathize with you on this issue. I'm not sure I have an easy solution. What you propose seems as though it would require some research on the part of the mods to determine which posts are violations. I have heard, and have no reason to doubt, that the mods are very busy and might not take kindly to extra duties.

Are you suggesting, perhaps, a new squad of mods (The Mod Squad? Sorry, I couldn't resist.) to check the plausibility of new posts?

I have, as apparently do you, more trouble with the rumors that inflame anger or hatred than the silly ones. (Think "Sarah Palin is a Reptilian from the Inside of the Earth.") Short of asking the mods to be firmer when things get out of hand i'm not sure what to do. It's not always easy for them to choose between "passionate" and "angry."

I think that, in the long run, we would be better served with slightly tighter limits, but I don't feel "passionate" about it.



posted on Dec, 13 2011 @ 11:35 AM
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I do appreciate the substance and focus of the issue you raise. And as a member Moderator, I have to confess up fron that I am hoping you'll accept my response as that of a fellow member.

The fact of the matter is, my priciple haunting ground in our community is largely Breaking Alternative News where the member does not enjoy the freedom of synthesizing a title for their OP. As you know, the title comes from the source article (in that forum), and I have often heard and contended with numerous comments such as yours. Many realize that the member needn't be chastised for the lack of a quality title, and any embedded bias is not a function of the members word-crafting... even if they do happen to agree with the source's author.

But the problem is this. Mischaracterization and synthesis of content is not going to 'go away' no matter how many observations contradict the OP. People decry sources all the time... sometimes with seemingly iron-clad logic and history to 'prove' that the source has proven to be prone to hyperbole, demagoguery, mirepresentation, or even outright fantasy. Some similarly reject MSM as a point of principle, others reject any foreign source that comes from 'state' agencies or has the pronoun "Russia" in it. Others quickly wish to eliminate news coming from people they don't like, or saying anything negative about someone or something they do like.

Facts are not subject to popularity. They simply are. And the mere act of recharacterizing something in a politically or emotionally expedient way for the benefit of commerce, sensationalism, or attention carries useful information in and of itself. Many of us would like to see the things we find repugnant disappear. But this will not happen by virtue of some unspoken ethical magic.

It requires intervention, a drive to determine what is fact and what is opinion, and most importantly it requires analysis. These are time consuming activities for our members; and with few exceptions, not posting them deprives those seeking to learn or know something they had not seen or heard before of the opportunity.

As a memebr, I was almost amused and intrigued by the apparent materisl some find from one author whom I shall refer to as "Sorta False"... whenever "Sorta False" makes a nerws article proclaiming some outrageously intense and sensational "news" it almost invariable goes strait to Hoax or the trash. Why? Because "everyone knows it's garbage."

My take was, well if "everyone knows it's garbage" I would love to analyze the content to determine the point of the selection of material, the names chosen to defame, the topics used to sensationalize, and the timing of the release.... but I don't get to do that because our members find the presence of "Sorta False's" material as a tacit indiction that we "accept" it. It is disappointing for me, since I would like to dissemble the material publicly, but the members have indicated a prediclection towards censorship in Sorta's material. Persoanlly, I would rather splay it out in the open and call attention to it for the sake of balance... c'est le vie.

Also, you seem to feel that "hoax" is equivalent of "false" - where I am inclined to say that "hoax" must be "intentionally propagated to perpetuate the falsehood." One implies error, the other lying.

These are just some of my thoughts in this regard, and I could bore you with more verbosity if I didn't think I might be putting you to sleep. This being said, would you not find it interesting to actively determine 'who' starts the rumors our members find (ganted some accetp them, but also, other don't)? How could that happen without actually discussing the rumors?

I know you are nto calling for censorship; I suspect you're too ethical for that. But you are calling for a more restricitve approach to a member-generated content website. I'm not sure that's in the communities best interest. I could be wrong. But it's just my sense of things.



posted on Dec, 13 2011 @ 12:35 PM
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Are you suggesting, perhaps, a new squad of mods (The Mod Squad? Sorry, I couldn't resist.) to check the plausibility of new posts?
reply to post by charles1952
 


Thank you for your comments. I truly appreciate them.

Actually, I'm not suggesting what your question asks, but rather a simple rule that either:

1.) States that this post has not been confirmed by a second source yet, with the author citing that second site should it become available by updating the OP with corroborating link(s).

2.) A separate forum for unconfirmed rumors, where people can comment, and hopefully either confirm or provide sources and proof that the OP was true/false.

Most of it would be self-policing, with guidelines in place to reduce the number of rumors, or at least place them in a forum until proof one way or the other can be provided.

Thanks again for your input.



posted on Dec, 13 2011 @ 01:07 PM
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Dear ProfEmeritus,

You may have something workable here, but again, due to the limitations of this medium, I'm probably missing essential nuances. If you'll be patient with me, I'll try to explain my new understanding.

One comment which is an ATS signature is "Pics, or it didn't happen." Would it serve your purposes to work with the mods to introduce "Second source, or it's a rumor?" (It would need mod approval or it would get erased as a minimal post, or trolling, or some other violation.)

Our esteemed Forum Moderator, above, works in a forum which is, by definition a single source forum. But for the rest?

We have a skunk works forum where those rumors might go, if the mods where willing to switch them there, but then there'd have to be a way of moving them out again when confirmed. I suspect you'd have a tough sell with the mods, but it's worth looking into.

Ooops. one other factor I've just considered. Right now, only mods can move threads. That might make some of the self-policing a little tricky.

With respect,
Charles1952



posted on Dec, 13 2011 @ 01:07 PM
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reply to post by Maxmars
 


Thanks for your input. I appreciate it. I do agree with your view, and the difficulty of enforcement;however, I do believe that if an attempt is not made to at least reduce these type threads, we may end up in a self-fulfilling prophesy, namely censorship, or even worse. The history of media of all kinds has proven that when self-censorship is enacted, it prevents, in most cases, a more severe form of government censorship.




Also, you seem to feel that "hoax" is equivalent of "false" - where I am inclined to say that "hoax" must be "intentionally propagated to perpetuate the falsehood." One implies error, the other lying.

Actually, in the thread that I cited, after careful investigation, and running down sources, making connections, and phone calls, it became very apparent that two external parties were most probably involved, neither to the best of my knowledge, ATS members. The first was the Oath Keepers site, and Rand Caldwell, and the second was Alex Jones. I am not prepared to state unequivocally either way as to the veracity of the sources, or to the intentions of those sources. However, I believe that for members of one conspiracy site(ATS) to replicate material from another conspiracy site(Alex Jones' sites) is probably not a good way to prove veracity,UNLESS it is clearly stated that the facts have not been proven, and need to be investigated.
I actually have no problem with posting the information that the OP contained, but I do believe it should be reported as an unproven story, until further investigation is made. Now obviously, this means that some common sense is required on the part of members to make that judgement. However, a simple Google search on the actual title of the story would have revealed that virtually EVERY SINGLE hit was a word for word repetition of the OP. Not one single independent source came up reporting that story. That should CERTAINLY raise a red flag, that the issue needs further investigation, especially after several days had past, and it still was not picked up by non-forum sources.




My take was, well if "everyone knows it's garbage" I would love to analyze the content to determine the point of the selection of material, the names chosen to defame, the topics used to sensationalize, and the timing of the release.... but I don't get to do that because our members find the presence of "Sorta False's" material as a tacit indiction that we "accept" it. It is disappointing for me, since I would like to dissemble the material publicly, but the members have indicated a prediclection towards censorship in Sorta's material. Persoanlly, I would rather splay it out in the open and call attention to it for the sake of balance... c'est le vie.


As to the above, I merely cite Albert Einstein:



Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.





Also, you seem to feel that "hoax" is equivalent of "false" - where I am inclined to say that "hoax" must be "intentionally propagated to perpetuate the falsehood." One implies error, the other lying.

Point taken. Agreed.




Facts are not subject to popularity. They simply are. And the mere act of recharacterizing something in a politically or emotionally expedient way for the benefit of commerce, sensationalism, or attention carries useful information in and of itself. Many of us would like to see the things we find repugnant disappear. But this will not happen by virtue of some unspoken ethical magic.


True, Congress and Administrations do this every day, and shape the "facts" to suit their own purpose. That is one of my concerns. If events continue the way that they have in general, I have no doubt that censorship of the internet will become a harsh reality, not because of any one post on ATS, but many cases that will be used by the politicians to bake their cake into an appetizing and acceptable morsel that the public will devour in the interest of "safety". That, of course, is how the PATRIOT ACT was instituted. For those who believe that internet censorship will not happen, they need only look at history to see how wrong that are.

Again, thank you for your thoughtful input. I hope this thread gets more input like what you and charles1952 have provided. Awareness of this in itself may be part of the solution.



posted on Dec, 13 2011 @ 01:22 PM
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Dear Maxmars,

ProfEmeritus emphasized something in your post that I'd like to look at for a second. Again, I may very well have misunderstood, but the sentences are:


I am inclined to say that "hoax" must be "intentionally propagated to perpetuate the falsehood." One implies error, the other lying.
If you are saying that to be a hoax it must be both "intentionally propagated" AND the intention was "to perpetuate a falsehood," then I don't see how you can call anything a hoax because of the difficulty in knowing what the source's intentions are.

I had been operating under the assumption that a hoax was something provably in error.

Would you offer a little clarification for me, please?

With respect,
Charles1952



posted on Dec, 13 2011 @ 02:01 PM
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Would it serve your purposes to work with the mods to introduce "Second source, or it's a rumor?" (It would need mod approval or it would get erased as a minimal post, or trolling, or some other violation.)
reply to post by charles1952
 

Actually, that is an excellent suggestion. Details would need to be worked out, but I believe that is workable. Actually, combining that with the "Alert" button, where a member could signify that he/she did not find a second source, independent of the first, would allow such a post to be labelled as such.

Anyway, I freely acknowledge the difficulty of this issue, which is why I put this OP up, and again, I sincerely appreciate the thoughts and suggestions of thoughtful members such as you and Maxmars.



posted on Dec, 13 2011 @ 02:23 PM
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reply to post by charles1952
 


I would like to respond to you first, since the question is pertinent and must be expanded.

My take on "Hoaxes" is in no way to be confused with 'policy.' Each moderator and the entire team as servants of this community are all very thoughtful about these things only because of the implication the "Hoax" label carries.

You see, I don't care for the hoax label, because it can be taken to imply that the member bringing us the information was part of the hoax, shamefully 'fooled' by the hoax, or oblivious to it. I find that troubling because for me (and again this is opinion) hoaxes have value (once you know they are hoaxes) in that they offer up a view of intent, and scope.

A favorite author of mine, Frank Herbert, once gave one of his characters the following wisdom to pass on to another; "The first step in avoiding a trap is knowing of its existence." I feel similarly about hoaxes. I believe that hoaxes, and rumors - if you will - give valuable intelligence as to the perpetrator and their motivations. So when you and I see an OP that contains within it (or consists entirely of) hoaxes we know of, I want to try and take the opportunity to share with the other members the nature of the hoax, and all the information I can muster about it - which allows future encounters with the same misinformation to be more valuable in the context of it's new appearance. Also, the entire point of fabricating a story or evidence to make people believe something we know to be false is to exercise the power to deceive. Were we to decide to simply make hoaxes vanish, we would enable future members to fall prey to them again eventually.

Most people are generally inclined - it seems - to assume that if the assertion of an OP is false, and thus proven false, it is a 'hoax.' I like to remind people that there is a moral difference in saying "that information is false" and "that is a lie." There are two possibilities behind false information - deception or error. Leaping to the "hoax" label to me seems like calling someone a liar - which I try not to do unless I am certain that was at the root of the false information.

I am admittedly not on the same page as others in this regard. According to our T&C Item 15l. A "hoax" is lumped in with the following:[information] "....of a fraudulent, or faked nature." But that precludes the study and or discussion of any such information and common sense tells us that we can talk about these things.... simply not at the peril of 'spreading them.' Which I think is the cautionary note that the good Professor has pointed out.

I think we can figure out a fluid and natural mechanism for allowing the appropriate action to take place once such a determination has been made.



posted on Dec, 13 2011 @ 02:48 PM
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Gentlemen,

This has been a very good experience for me and I am grateful to you both. It seems like the problem has been solved, or nearly so. It looks like a problem of understanding, of semantics. Some words carry negative connotations for some, and different connotations for others. I'm sure that if that is the problem here, a solution is right around the corner.

Hoax sounds bad, "unproven" not so bad.
Rumour sounds bad, "Single Sourced" not so bad.

But I'm going to rest easy knowing this problem is in the capable hands of the good ProfEmeritus, and the esteemed Maxmars.

With respect,
Charles1952



posted on Dec, 13 2011 @ 03:03 PM
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reply to post by Maxmars
 

You made some excellent points that need to be considered regarding this issue. One of the things that exacerbates issues such as the OP I cited, is the fact that many members jump into a thread 10 or even 15 pages after the OP, and don't bother to read the entire thread. I understand that reading a long thread takes time, but the alternative is to post what ends up being non sequiturs, as a result of previous posts which they failed to see. This leads to other posts by such members, cited false information, etc. It is much like the "telephone" game that we probably all played sometime in grade school, a game in which the teacher whispers something in the first student's ear, and each student then passes what he/she heard on, until the last person in the room gets the input from the student next to them, and then says out loud what the "secret" was. As we all know, the result is usually laughable and not even close to the original message.

Anyway, I hope that this thread continues to provide insight from members, and I encourage the moderators especially to chime in, as they have a unique perspective to offer here,



posted on Dec, 13 2011 @ 03:04 PM
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Hoax sounds bad, "unproven" not so bad. Rumour sounds bad, "Single Sourced" not so bad.
reply to post by charles1952
 

Well said. You are indeed a very wise person. Thank you again.



posted on Dec, 13 2011 @ 07:17 PM
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reply to post by ProfEmeritus
 


i have not seen you here for a while prof ,glad to see you still are looking in from time to time.it is to bad that the ops can not just remove these dis concerning threads or just put a big fat X THROUGH THEM OR JUST REMOVE THEM COMPLETELY WOULD BE NICE .it would reaaly speed it up for us .
thanks for checking in again.



posted on Dec, 13 2011 @ 10:09 PM
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reply to post by picratus
 


Thank you. Great to hear from you also. Please take my sincere wishes for you and yours for a happy holiday and a great new year.



posted on Dec, 14 2011 @ 03:12 PM
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reply to post by ProfEmeritus
 


I wish you would have posted this in a forum where I could S&F and I wish I could click S&F on it as many times as I wanted to...I am going to be cutting out very soon...
edit on 12/14/2011 by jeichelberg because: Clarity of response



posted on Dec, 14 2011 @ 09:45 PM
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reply to post by jeichelberg
 


Thank you, my friend. I appreciate your comment. I'm glad to hear that there are others that feel as I do. As a retired professor, I truly enjoy a good discussion and honest debate, but sometimes they are hard to find.



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