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The other A+ forum: a safe space?

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The other A+ forum: a safe space?

Post  Corke on Fri Oct 26, 2012 3:35 am

On the internet, where I can pretend to be a twelve year old girl or a fifty-six year old man, is any place really safe?

You can never be sure who's watching, who's browsing and who's taking an interest in you.

The main forum seems to be set up so that the marginalised can gather and discuss their problems without interference. But what's stopping someone pretending to be one of them?

I. personally, think these people need more than an internet forum. Support in real life would, of course, be the preferred alternative, but some don't have that.

So the question I would like to pose is: Could the safe space give its members a false sense of security?
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Re: The other A+ forum: a safe space?

Post  mood2 on Fri Oct 26, 2012 5:56 am

I dunno. They've built up a strong sense of community there, and it's easy to get swept up in that, but the internets can be fickle. And you're right it's a very visible place to expose your vulnerabilities to people who aren't fans. But I get they feel their voices and perspectives should have a place in the public sphere, and that can be validating and empowering in a very particular way. And compared to walking down the street holding hands with your girlfriend or discussing your male to female transition with a workmate it's pretty darn safe. As a group I'd guess they're more practised at assessing risk than most.

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Re: The other A+ forum: a safe space?

Post  Corke on Fri Oct 26, 2012 6:11 am

Really? Did you see the way they treated Matthew Bailey? And a few others who were posting reasonable comments?

It looks more like a cult to me than anything. With a clear message: Outsiders stay out.
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Re: The other A+ forum: a safe space?

Post  mood2 on Fri Oct 26, 2012 6:36 am


oh i thought you were talking about the in-group. Yeah outsiders it's totally the opposite unless you act sorta grovelly, which is basically forum etiquette for newbies there from what I can make out. Otherwise it's shoot first ask questions later. Well from the noisy ones, and if the quieter ones don't agree they must not like breaking ranks, because you won't get much back up if a dogpile starts. Horrible. Had a mild taste myself, could easily have lost my rag at the condescension and stupid assumptions and got booted. Which would have then confirmed their suspicions that I was nothing but a sneaky troll all along - see you really can't trust newbies! it's bonkers.

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Re: The other A+ forum: a safe space?

Post  Diogenes on Fri Oct 26, 2012 7:45 am

I've suggested there that they make hidden forums that are designated as safe with public forums that are not. Obviously they chose not to go that way.

Subdividing a population that is already marginalized in the US...just see how many Congressmen/women self-identify as atheist into "more marginalized" subgroups seems self-defeating. Especially when their definition of "safe space" included allowing and encouraging ad hominem attacks instead of moderating those attacks to focus on actual topics.

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A quick perspective from someone who is able to navigate there just fine now.

Post  Argyle on Fri Oct 26, 2012 7:56 am

I'll admit, i was VERY confusing to me at first too, but after a week or two there, I started to really "get" it.
There is of course an almost piranha-like effect at times when a threat is identified, and the range of people who are going to be comfortable on the forum is rather narrow (EG: you have to understand privilege, not just as a concept, but deeply, and you have to be very respectful of the risk of triggering / dehumanizing / denying against the marginalized there).

Pretty much rule # 1 is don't assume you have any authority or standing going into the safe space. You have to earn it. You may see this as "groveling?" but it is really just being deferential to those who's lives have probably been and are much more difficult than yours because of problems which as a result of your privilege you have not had to deal with.

I started out trumpeting suggestions for a space like this one, and found out very quickly that they did not know me well enough to listen, and that I was stepping all over their emotional toes without knowing it.

So in short: If you are comfortable here, you probably don't NEED the safe space anyway, so WTF?
Let's just concentrate on turning this into a space where we discuss social responsibility meets Atheism and how to mobilize and/or consciousness raise about it.
Agreed?

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Re: The other A+ forum: a safe space?

Post  piginthecity on Fri Oct 26, 2012 9:33 am

Now that poor old Argyle has shown up here, this is a bit like the Stepford Wives !

Who can guess which one of us has been replaced by a programmed robot ??

On second thoughts, maybe it's 'The Thing'

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Re: The other A+ forum: a safe space?

Post  Atheist Dude on Fri Oct 26, 2012 9:55 am

I watched as one newbie turned into one of the pod-people before my eyes.

He went from having an opinion and being assertive, to being passive with no opinion of his own. That's fuckin scary!
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Re: The other A+ forum: a safe space?

Post  mood2 on Fri Oct 26, 2012 9:55 am

Well I'm happy to agree.

I think you have to expect a bit of letting off steam as newbies trickle in once you make a valve available, but if this board primarily becomes about bashing the safe board then it's a wasted opportunity. And the fact is it's them who gave us this place to see if we could do something different. Maybe one giant thread as has been suggested would make it feel less dominating?

I have to say tho that I've already had a couple of versions of that rationale Argyll, and telling newbies show us your oppression credentials or show us deference is going to deter and rankle with an awful lot of people just because of the arrogance and assumptions inherent in that attitude. (I can explain exactly why if you want).

Just politely sending the non-deferential ones down here might be doing everyone a favour. Smile

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Re: The other A+ forum: a safe space?

Post  mood2 on Fri Oct 26, 2012 10:05 am

Oh and welcome! Wink

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Re: The other A+ forum: a safe space?

Post  piginthecity on Fri Oct 26, 2012 10:26 am

Yes, welcome Argyll - and seriously i'd like to buy you a beer.

You've spent 2 weeks being given a torrid time by the sisterhood and now you're getting some irony over here. Still, kick your shoes off, don't worry about 'best behaviour' and welcome back to the surface !

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To be fair

Post  Argyle on Fri Oct 26, 2012 10:38 am

In the two weeks, only the first day or two were a "torrid time". The rest of the time I have been there, they have been very supportive.
The more I get to know the people there and what their lives have been like, the less I think of those first two days as something to complain about. I do think however that there need to be two spaces, a safe space, and this more general space. I don't think this one will have really taken off until one of the admins at the A+.com puts up a link for it.

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Re: The other A+ forum: a safe space?

Post  Diogenes on Sat Oct 27, 2012 12:22 am

Argyle wrote:
So in short: If you are comfortable here, you probably don't NEED the safe space anyway, so WTF?
Let's just concentrate on turning this into a space where we discuss social responsibility meets Atheism and how to mobilize and/or consciousness raise about it.
Agreed?

This should have had proceeded that site. Looks like a "closing the barn door after the cows got out".

A "safe space" that encourages ad hominem attacks is safe how? Atheists are already marginalized. Attacking a population of already marginalized people makes absolutely no sense. It becomes a series of "one upmanship"...who is more marginalized than whom. That doesn't look healthy for a support group, either. It looks like one gigantic and rabid enabling session.

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Re: The other A+ forum: a safe space?

Post  AliRadicali on Sat Oct 27, 2012 3:53 am

Diogenes wrote:
Argyle wrote:
So in short: If you are comfortable here, you probably don't NEED the safe space anyway, so WTF?
Let's just concentrate on turning this into a space where we discuss social responsibility meets Atheism and how to mobilize and/or consciousness raise about it.
Agreed?

This should have had proceeded that site. Looks like a "closing the barn door after the cows got out".

A "safe space" that encourages ad hominem attacks is safe how? Atheists are already marginalized. Attacking a population of already marginalized people makes absolutely no sense. It becomes a series of "one upmanship"...who is more marginalized than whom. That doesn't look healthy for a support group, either. It looks like one gigantic and rabid enabling session.
Word.


It's a place where cisgendered white people can act like internet white knights by verbally assaulting and pillorying anyone who disagrees with their "enlightened" values, all the while pretending to be the spokespeople of the oppressed minorities.
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Re: The other A+ forum: a safe space?

Post  scott1328 on Sat Oct 27, 2012 7:37 am

What turned me off most was the blatant violation of the forum's rules: Wheaton's Law especially (don't be a [gendered insult]).

What place can be safe when the rules are arbitrarily ignored or enforced on the basis of the moderator's whims?

That, and the moderator's propensity to join a dispute with their moderator hat on

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Re: The other A+ forum: a safe space?

Post  Corke on Sun Oct 28, 2012 2:01 am

scott1328 wrote:What turned me off most was the blatant violation of the forum's rules: Wheaton's Law especially (don't be a [gendered insult]).

What place can be safe when the rules are arbitrarily ignored or enforced on the basis of the moderator's whims?

That, and the moderator's propensity to join a dispute with their moderator hat on

This.

Firstly, mods should really be separate from the discussion if they are enforcing the rules. Mods can chat, fine, but if they see something against the rules, they should call in another mod, who isn't personally involved.

I saw a rape victim get sworn at and banned by a mod who didn't have the faintest clue what was actually going on, as they were in the middle of a discussion. Heh, you should have seen them backpedal.

Also, it hasn't escaped my notice either that the "don't be a dick" part of the forum rules is being ignored. In fact, I would say that they're more fuzzy ideals than an actual code of conduct. Check out Laughing Coyote and a few others who bring out the baseball bats every time someone twitches.
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Re: The other A+ forum: a safe space?

Post  rEvolutionist on Sun Oct 28, 2012 3:29 am

Yeah, it's probably one of the worst managed forums I've ever seen. They basically have no moderation protocols in place. Warnings are unclear and there is inconsistency in how they are delivered. Mods comment and mod in the same thread. Mods insert invective and snark into their official mod statements. If they want any credibility (aside from the other areas where they totally lack credibility) they are going to have to adopt a far more professional manner and series of protocols. Somehow I doubt that's going to happen with the current set up. I get the feeling the mods are on a real power trip there.

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Re: The other A+ forum: a safe space?

Post  Zampano on Sun Oct 28, 2012 12:23 pm

Hopefully posting something here might clue in the people who are still trying to get a response out of me over there that I have been banned. I'm also trying to get in touch with Eowyn, we were in the middle of a PM discussion that I can now no longer access.

"The other place" does have its charms, it seems like a good venue to have a particular type of discussion in. I was impressed by the knowledge and skillset of some of the members.

On the other hand, I have been more disturbed by my experience there than I have been on any other forum/website. This might be because I was relaxed enough to share some personal information about myself with some people who then appeared to turn on me. I'll have another go at "fitting in" once I'm unbanned again, but I'll have to find a different way of handling it.

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Re: The other A+ forum: a safe space?

Post  scott1328 on Sun Oct 28, 2012 12:30 pm

Zampano wrote:This might be because I was relaxed enough to share some personal information about myself with some people who then appeared to turn on me.

This is exactly why labeling any pseudonymous public forum on the Internet as a safe space is a lie. I would guess that you would be as safe and find just as knowledgeable individuals in this forum as over there.


Last edited by scott1328 on Sun Oct 28, 2012 12:32 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Fix quote)

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Re: The other A+ forum: a safe space?

Post  Zampano on Sun Oct 28, 2012 12:35 pm

scott1328 wrote:
Zampano wrote:This might be because I was relaxed enough to share some personal information about myself with some people who then appeared to turn on me.

This is exactly why labeling any pseudonymous public forum on the Internet as a safe space is a lie. I would guess that you would be as safe and find just as knowledgeable individuals in this forum as over there.

I would only be comfortable with sharing personal information about myself pseudonymously. One of my main worries about sharing things is that information could be resolved to my real world identity. The most plausible case for that would be somebody who knows me finding the information on the safe space and working it out, but a determined third party might be able to triangulate things I revealed there with nuggets of data from elsewhere in order to find out who I was.

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Re: The other A+ forum: a safe space?

Post  Zampano on Sun Oct 28, 2012 12:53 pm

This is encouraging, at least Mr. Samsa is in the ballpark of getting it:
http://atheismplus.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=2440
I think we can all agree that what is 'excruciating detail' for one person may not be 'excruciating detail' for another person; for some people, mentioning that they were abused at all is more detail than they are comfortable sharing with other people, and for others excruciating detail involves more facts about what happened to them.

If the forum at large (or specifically its moderators) has not already grasped that concept though it might be that I should wait until it has matured somewhat before engaging with it fully again. In my experience of dealing with people who handle these things professionally I have never met anyone who failed to grasp that basic idea.

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Re: The other A+ forum: a safe space?

Post  Atheist Dude on Sun Oct 28, 2012 1:08 pm

Zampano wrote:This is encouraging, at least Mr. Samsa is in the ballpark of getting it:
http://atheismplus.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=2440
I think we can all agree that what is 'excruciating detail' for one person may not be 'excruciating detail' for another person; for some people, mentioning that they were abused at all is more detail than they are comfortable sharing with other people, and for others excruciating detail involves more facts about what happened to them.

If the forum at large (or specifically its moderators) has not already grasped that concept though it might be that I should wait until it has matured somewhat before engaging with it fully again. In my experience of dealing with people who handle these things professionally I have never met anyone who failed to grasp that basic idea.

You could be in for a very long wait! What makes you think they're professional?
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Re: The other A+ forum: a safe space?

Post  Zampano on Sun Oct 28, 2012 1:22 pm

Atheist Dude wrote:
Zampano wrote:This is encouraging, at least Mr. Samsa is in the ballpark of getting it:
http://atheismplus.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=2440
I think we can all agree that what is 'excruciating detail' for one person may not be 'excruciating detail' for another person; for some people, mentioning that they were abused at all is more detail than they are comfortable sharing with other people, and for others excruciating detail involves more facts about what happened to them.

If the forum at large (or specifically its moderators) has not already grasped that concept though it might be that I should wait until it has matured somewhat before engaging with it fully again. In my experience of dealing with people who handle these things professionally I have never met anyone who failed to grasp that basic idea.

You could be in for a very long wait! What makes you think they're professional?

I know that some of the people there are experienced/professional therapists. What I mean though is that I would think they would aspire to have a level of understanding about the possible problems that members might have that is comparable to professional-level knowledge.

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Re: The other A+ forum: a safe space?

Post  Zampano on Sun Oct 28, 2012 1:26 pm

It's really cool that I've been banned so people can cast aspersions and make judgements about me while I'm unable to defend myself.

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Re: The other A+ forum: a safe space?

Post  Zampano on Sun Oct 28, 2012 1:28 pm

And by "cool" I mean "it makes me so nauseous that I can't sleep".

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Re: The other A+ forum: a safe space?

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