TBAT has been following the latest discussion thread. We have discussed the issues raised among ourselves, and have come to some conclusions.
The primary conclusion is this: attempting to keep the roles of moderators and participating community members separate will not be possible. While some community members recognize a distinction between the two roles, too many others find it difficult to separate one from another. Individual conflicts and disagreements become conflated with questions of power, and they always will.
For this reason, hapax, Kit and Mmy will no longer participate in community discussions as individuals. From now on, we are simply moderators.
This decision has several further implications.
First, we are instituting a new moderation rule which is not subject to negotiation: any posts that dwell on past grievances with individual members of TBAT will be deleted, and the poster will receive a yellow card. Those days are now over, we are no longer participating individuals, and it is unfair to expect us to support a board publishing personal condemnations to which we cannot reply. That was then, this is now, and it's time to move on.
Second, the members of TBAT will no longer be writing articles either jointly or as individuals to publish here, as again, we will have no freedom to respond in the comment threads. We will continue to propose questions for discussion on the semi-open threads for days when we have no articles to publish, because if we didn't the site would lack for material to a probably fatal degree; however, this is conditional on no personal attacks for the subjects we bring up. If we are attacked for our choice of open question, unless it is by a troll clearly seeking to sabotage the board (in which case the comment will simply be deleted), we will cease to propose subjects for discussion and community members will be solely responsible for providing them.
Third, the question of funding the board. The site passed into our hands paid up for another few months; since November 26 2011, the site fee of $14.95/month has been paid by TBAT. Since we are now giving up our freedom to participate in discussion, we feel we're contributing enough without supporting the board financially as well. If people wish the board to continue, they will have to provide the funds: we will install a tip jar for the purpose, and put up announcements if more donations are needed urgently. In order to keep the question of money from being divisive, donations are to be anonymous; statements or speculations about who donated what will be deleted.
The question of the atheist roundtable has come up again. We will be publishing it as soon as possible. In retrospect it was a mistake to delay its publication. We delayed partly in the hope that the furor caused by the earlier controversy would die down, which never really happened, and partly because the level of graphic personal abuse directed at us made us feel too miserable and angry to feel up to doing anything related to it. However, it would have been good for the non-abusive atheists unhappy with the situation if we'd published it sooner, so we apologize to them for that.
On the subject of Froborr's article, we have nothing more to say. We explained our reasoning at the time, and anyone who wants to know can go back and reread it. Since most of the abuse was directed at TBAT for publishing it rather than Froborr for writing it, and a fair proportion of that was at individual TBATs for things said in the discussion, we remind people of the new rule that we will no longer tolerate posts that bring up past grievances against us. That includes anything we said in defense of the decision to publish Froborr's piece. We also remind people that giving TBAT grief about their rulings is now an agreed-upon carding offense, and we are applying it retroactively to the decision to publish it.
Nor will we permit dredging up comments by or disputes between any posting individual in the aftermath of that post; it seems unlikely that any further discussion will change minds or soothe hurt feelings, and good will in the community cannot survive endless fights about it.
We have said all we have to say, everyone else has stated their opinion multiple times, and it is clear that nothing will change. In the interests of having some sort of future, the subject is closed. If people cannot accept this, that's unfortunate, but this is our decision.
We cannot promise that our every moderating decision will be to everyone's liking. In fact, we can pretty much promise that just about every moderating decision will displease somebody, because that's how moderating works. If people didn't differ and disagree, there would be no need for mods, and moderating decisions take place when there are conflicts of interest. No website can be a completely ideal place for everybody all the time, and the purpose of moderators is not to ensure that everyone is always happy about everything, but to keep alive an active and functioning community in which a reasonable number of people are reasonably comfortable a reasonable proportion of the time.
We will do our best to be fair. If people are not comfortable with the new system they are free to do as we did and set up a new site. We can guarantee that we, at least, will not allow this place to become a hate site for any new ventures - and we would appreciate it if the favor was returned.
We have a final decision: we will no longer be linking to Left Behind posts on Patheos. The reason for this is quite simply that at intervals it turns into a site dedicated to hating on us - at the time of writing it has been doing that for the nearly a week without stopping - and we see no reason why we should direct traffic towards it. We remain opposed to letting this place become an equivalent We Hate Patheos People Club, but we don't feel required to send people towards Patheos either.
If commenters want to post a heads-up in the comment threads they are, of course, welcome to do so, as long as they respect Fred's copyright and don't post too long an extract. (In which case we will remove the extract and leave the post.)
We aren't going to pretend that this decision was taken for any reason except that we, personally, can't stand it any more. We can't, and that's all there is to it.
We regret that it has come to this, but we believe it is the best balance between the interests of the community and our own wellbeing. The Slacktiverse is changing again, and it is down to the community to ensure that it changes in positive directions.
This post is not open for comments.
The Slacktiverse is a community blog. Content reflects the individual opinions of the contributors. We welcome disagreement in the comment threads, and invite anyone who wishes to present an alternative interpretation of a situation to write and submit a post.