gifted with a genuine BigWin[tm] when the crew on ars stopped
being known as rational, responsible advocates for freedom of
speech and became known as rabid hairtrigger flamers
collectively referred to as "anti's." Think about
that for a second. The ars crew is now defined by opposition
to Scientology[tm] and not by association with higher
principles. This is a long way down the road to casual
dismissal. "Oh yeah, Scientology[tm] did some thing or
the other and the *anti's* started flaming me because I said
it didn't look that bad." It's not a good reputation;
it's not effective at conveying my views. It's not at all
unusual considering that most of the discussion on ars is now
conducted by rabid hairtrigger flamers.
I know that this will
annoy a lot of people, but I've come to the conclusion that
Scientology[tm] does do some good. I'm still a critic. I still
don't think there's any possible justification for their
abuses, and the sporge has been pissing
me off to a greater degree each day (I've been active on
USENET for over 15 years and it bothers me greatly to see an
attack on the network itself) but stepping back to look at the
image that ars presents, it's become obvious to me that it's
not a good image.
I think that
mindlessly opposing Scientology[tm] is as bad as mindlessly
promoting it. Anything done mindlessly is a mistake, and many
here are mindless in their opposition. I don't feel I can
abandon the fight and I don't think I can flame anyone into
having a clue, but I hope I can get some of you with usable
brains to put them back into gear. Paranoia and flames do not
promote any cause. Spurious accusations discredit solid ones.
Outsiders do not feel welcome in ars and that is extremely bad
for its ability to disseminate information.
As an analogy, let me
compare ars to the various Scientology[tm] forums on the net.
The various forums have ceased to work as recruiting tools for
Scientology[tm] because their paranoia leads them to accuse
anyone asking a question of being an ars plant who's joined
that forum to cause trouble. Many of the difficult questions
do come from well informed troublemakers, but some are
innocently asked by potential recruits. Scientology[tm]'s
inherent paranoia leads the other forum participants to bar
the questioner and treat all newcomers with suspicion. They
don't look good to the potential recruits who are greeted with
suspicion and hostility instead of calm answers and genuine
willingness to talk about the issues that were raised. ars has
become almost as bad. People who question perfectly
appropriate things, like whether detailed discussions of
Grady's case belong in misc.legal, are not answered by
arguments about the appropriateness of the topic to that
newsgroup but instead are answered with accusations of being
ignorant, of being a cult plant, and with other hostile and
inappropriate responses. I don't think ars comes off as badly
as the Scientology[tm] forums, but it doesn't look good. This
can change if more people understand how badly it comes
Let me suggest the
following simple suggestions for improving the image of the
there's any possibility that a question or gripe is voiced by
an outsider who legitimately wants
a response, respond politely and address the specific question
it's proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that the questioner is
an OSA operative who kills
pets for fun and is
trying to cause trouble with their posting, respond politely
and address the specifics of the question or gripe.
Optionally, add a factual statement of the evidence against
them and a link to more details.
ranting, do not crosspost.
to others as if you have already been identified as a member
of a group of looney tune flamers who make spurious
accusations and take steps to ensure that your credibility
depends on objective and
verifiable sources rather than your say so. (This is good
advice even if one is not viewed as having suspect credibility
because over reliance on one's word rather than objective and
verifiable sources is a bad habit and weakens one's argument.)
accuse anyone of working for OSA unless you have evidence from
off the net. Scientologists[tm]
in good standing are the people most in need of information
from ars and are also the most likely to appear as if OSA
operatives designated to cause trouble.
you can't *prove* an
accusation is true, don't make one.