Touching On a Few ATS "Issues"

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Re: Touching On a Few ATS "Issues"

Postby Shawnna » Wed Jul 09, 2008 8:12 pm

For Torbjon - kudos to you, my friend! And yes, I do consider you a 'friend' and that has not changed by anything you've posted here or elsewhere. My apology for giving you any impression otherwise!

For Bill and Mark - I'm tempted to say "game over" but I've a feeling we're just in the first quarter. I do hope you'll have the testicular fortitude to stay around - it is quite entertaining.

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Re: Touching On a Few ATS "Issues"

Postby ryguy » Wed Jul 09, 2008 8:39 pm

TheSkepticOverlord wrote:As indicated, ATS was never set up nor intended to support professional networking/solicitation, and the T&C section being grossly misinterpreted here is intended as a deterrent to prevent individuals and/or organizations from harvesting user data.


Posted on this ATS thread by Bill (S.O.) November 2007:

Today we're finally launching a much anticipated new feature for ATS that has been the one lacking item in our long list of free member services, integrated social networking. All members -- regardless of status, post-count, or term of membership -- are assigned a new extended profile with features similar to the popular "MySpace", but refined with a few unique features for AboveTopSecret.com


Maybe this will shed some light for those "fair skeptics" out there who are confused by why ATS "feels" different...

Press release from this year, February 2008.

New York, NY (PRWEB) February 6, 2008 -- CEO Bill Irvine and COO Mark Allin, executives of The Above Network, and creators of AboveTopSecret.com (ATS), the world's most popular website covering UFO's, conspiracies, and other "alternative" topics, announced today that ATS now reaches over one million unique visitors, as reported by two traffic monitoring and ranking services.

ATS is a "social content community," featuring over 3.8 million postings from more than 130,000 registered members that span the spectrum from "ordinary folk" to world-renowned subject matter experts, authors, and scientists. "This is an extraordinary validation of the wisdom of our crowd," says Allin, "our members are the smartest, most tenacious, and articulate group you'll find anywhere."

When asked about the reasons for the success, Irvine adds, "It's easy, social graces. ATS is the only such venue where civility and decorum are enforced. As a result, the issues become the focus and spectacular topics rise to the surface and get noticed."

Following their first round of equity capitalizing in mid-2007, and in conjunction with the tenth anniversary of the ATS site, The Above Network is expanding the brand on the success of their core website with audio programming, publishing, television, and live event projects. ATS calls it their "content ecosystem" and the goal is to branch out into new venues to inform more people about the "wisdom of their crowd," as Allin puts it.

ATS was originally formed in 1997 by Simon Gray of Swindon, England as one of the first online destinations for highly speculative "alternative topics." He was later joined by Irvine, an online content expert and Allin, a start-up specialist as they formed The Above Network, LLC. The new venture is the parent company, under which the media expansion and new strategies are being developed.

All executives from The Above Network, LLC are available for interview. Please contact Mouth Public Relations at the number and email listed in the contact field.


"Wisdom"....that's cute. Like there's wisdom in allowing hoaxers an additional venue to distribute content.

The truly sad part about all of this is that the excerpt above is an excellent example of a corporation forgetting how and why they got to one million unique visitors in the first place.

-Ry
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Re: Touching On a Few ATS "Issues"

Postby TheSkepticOverlord » Wed Jul 09, 2008 8:51 pm

ryguy wrote:Posted on this ATS thread by Bill (S.O.) November 2007:

Do we really need to get into the difference between professional and social networking? Or are you being purposefully obtuse?
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Re: Touching On a Few ATS "Issues"

Postby torbjon » Wed Jul 09, 2008 10:11 pm

TheSkepticOverlord wrote:
ryguy wrote:Posted on this ATS thread by Bill (S.O.) November 2007:

Do we really need to get into the difference between professional and social networking? Or are you being purposefully obtuse?


Yes. Yes we do.

Please explain to the world why and how my examples are WRONG.

Please Explain To The World how a rule following, law abiding, T&C adhering ATS member is IN THE WRONG when / if a third party should approach them with some sort of interesting offer which may or may not lead to POTENTIAL financial gain.

Please.

Pretty Please.

I'm all ears.

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Re: Touching On a Few ATS "Issues"

Postby torbjon » Wed Jul 09, 2008 10:16 pm

AD and Shawnna:

Thanks for the comments and support, it helps...

AD: I LOVED this quote of yours:

“You know what, you guys are right, we do need to think about the children. We’ve been more concerned about growth and income then we have been about Truth, Justice and the American Way and we really want ATS to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. Thanks for taking the time to point out where we’ve failed to Deny Ignorance. What suggestions do you have moving forward to help make ATS a more responsible Internet community for all interested parties?”


That's Beautiful comrade, pure poetry.

But you know what? I don't even need to hear the "you guys are right" part. That's ego crap and there's enough of that floating around already, ya know?

this is what waved my flag:

"moving forward to help make ATS a more responsible Internet community for all interested parties"

wow

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Re: Touching On a Few ATS "Issues"

Postby ryguy » Thu Jul 10, 2008 1:14 am

TheSkepticOverlord wrote:
ryguy wrote:Posted on this ATS thread by Bill (S.O.) November 2007:

Do we really need to get into the difference between professional and social networking? Or are you being purposefully obtuse?



Oh, clearly I'm being purposefully obtuse. :roll:

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Re: Touching On a Few ATS "Issues"

Postby MrPenny » Thu Jul 10, 2008 3:09 am

ryguy wrote: Oh, clearly I'm being purposefully obtuse.


What a great sentence. I mean that sincerely....it's a classic paradox.
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Re: Touching On a Few ATS "Issues"

Postby remus » Fri Jul 11, 2008 2:48 am

TheSkepticOverlord wrote:
ryguy wrote:Posted on this ATS thread by Bill (S.O.) November 2007:

Do we really need to get into the difference between professional and social networking? Or are you being purposefully obtuse?


Oh, its everyone else who is being obtuse. Or delusional. Or misinterpreting. Or lying. Or getting their facts wrong.

Ive only been here a short time but i've yet to see you accept that anything you guy's do or have done has been less than perfect. I'm not aware of any "perfect" business model, but you seem to have one, you should franchise it.
Why do you continue to waste your valuable time here? It's obvious that a meaningful exchange of dialogue and working towards a better understanding of issues related to your site are not on your agenda here.
You deliberately sidestep questions and ignore valid criticism.
Are you here because it get's lonely in that ivory tower?
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Re: Touching On a Few ATS "Issues"

Postby Chorlton » Fri Jul 11, 2008 8:14 am

remus wrote:
TheSkepticOverlord wrote:
ryguy wrote:Posted on this ATS thread by Bill (S.O.) November 2007:

Do we really need to get into the difference between professional and social networking? Or are you being purposefully obtuse?


Oh, its everyone else who is being obtuse. Or delusional. Or misinterpreting. Or lying. Or getting their facts wrong.

Ive only been here a short time but i've yet to see you accept that anything you guy's do or have done has been less than perfect. I'm not aware of any "perfect" business model, but you seem to have one, you should franchise it.
Why do you continue to waste your valuable time here? It's obvious that a meaningful exchange of dialogue and working towards a better understanding of issues related to your site are not on your agenda here.
You deliberately sidestep questions and ignore valid criticism.
Are you here because it get's lonely in that ivory tower?


Very well put Remus.
Anyone with half a brain running a business always accepts criticisms/comments/etc and uses them to improve what they are doing. Many have pointed out shortcomings/problems/improvements towards ATS but 'the cult' have simply backed away into a corner with their backs up and taken everything as a poke against them instead of thinking "Hmmm, I wonder if any of those points would improve our product", and I think that shows how weak, at the most basic level, the management skills at ATS is.

I would also suggest that, should they continue in that style, with their totalitarian stance, people will eventually see it for what it is and leave. Of course there will always be the big group of halfwits who marry their mothers or sisters and see and fight with aliens on a daily basis that will be attracted to ATS but even those people are seeing there are other places, full of weirdo's who will believe their delusions, and who wont put up with the dictatorial style so ably demonstrated at ATS.
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Re: Touching On a Few ATS "Issues"

Postby ryguy » Fri Jul 11, 2008 2:06 pm

Chorlton wrote:Anyone with half a brain running a business always accepts criticisms/comments/etc and uses them to improve what they are doing. Many have pointed out shortcomings/problems/improvements towards ATS but 'the cult' have simply backed away into a corner with their backs up and taken everything as a poke against them instead of thinking "Hmmm, I wonder if any of those points would improve our product", and I think that shows how weak, at the most basic level, the management skills at ATS is.


That's exactly right. Instead of taking this comment to heart:

The truly sad part about all of this is that the excerpt above is an excellent example of a corporation forgetting how and why they got to one million unique visitors in the first place.


...and honestly asking themselves how and why they were so successful up to this point, before forming the LLC - Bill instead takes personal offense to the fact that I was poking fun at his minor contradictions, and completely ignored the larger point. A point that every single person here, and elsewhere, has been making about ATS since the "change" to corporate "let users post whatever wild stories they like..." mentality because it's great for short-term traffic and business.

Well guess what guys - the long-term members with staying power are the ones who were there since the early days ripping idiocy and ignorance a new one every time it reared it's ugly head. That's what made ATS great, and that's what got the forum to one million unique visitors.

I'm reminded of the marketing faux pas that Coke made when they attempted to "reinvent" their brand with "New" Coke. Remember the outcry from long-time Coca-Cola fans? Remember the outrage? I do... I also remember that Coke took those complains seriously and re-issued the original "Classic Coke" formula - which, by the way, led to a gain in sales over New Coke by far.

ATS could learn from Coke's experience. The following excerpts are from Wiki...read them very carefully and compare them to what we see going on here on a much, much smaller scale. It's shocking how many parallels there are.

The results of that were strong — the high fructose corn syrup mixture overwhelmingly beat both regular Coke and Pepsi. Then tasters were asked if they would buy and drink it if it were Coca-Cola. Most said yes, they would, although it would take some getting used to. A small minority, about 10-12%, felt angry and alienated at the very thought, saying that they might stop drinking Coke altogether. Their presence in focus groups tended to skew results in a more negative direction as they exerted indirect peer pressure on other participants.[4]

The surveys, which were given more significance by standard marketing procedures of the era, were less negative and were key in convincing management to move forward with a change in the formula for 1985, to coincide with the drink's centenary. But the focus groups had provided a clue as to how the change would play out in a public context, a data point that the company downplayed but which was to prove important later.[5]


In the following excerpt, just replace Woodruff with "Simon Gray", and Goizueta with "Bill Irvine and Mark Allen". :)

Goizueta also made a visit to his mentor and predecessor as the company's chief executive, the ailing Robert W. Woodruff, who had built Coke into an international brand following World War II. He claimed he had secured Woodruff's blessing for the reformulation, but even many of Goizueta's closest friends within the company doubt that Woodruff truly understood what Goizueta intended.[8][9] Goizueta always said he had.


But Goizueta also refused to admit that taste tests had in any way led the company to make the change (which he called "one of the easiest decisions we have ever made"[9]) to avoid giving Pepsi any credit,[15] yet gave no other real reason for the change, further alienating reporters who had already heard from Pepsi representatives in advance on this very issue.[12] Many were taken aback by Goizueta's apparent arrogance when, following a reporter's question about whether Diet Coke would be reformulated "if this is a success," he curtly replied, "This is a success."


Nevertheless, the company's stock went up on the announcement,[17] and market research showed that 80% of the American public was aware of the change within 48 hours.


Surveys indicated, in fact, that a majority liked the new flavoring.[20] Three-quarters of the respondents said they would buy New Coke again.


Despite its acceptance with a large number of Coca-Cola drinkers, a vocal minority of them resented the change in formula and was not shy about making that opinion known — again just as had happened in the focus groups.[21]

Many of these drinkers were Southerners, some of whom considered the drink a fundamental part of regional identity. They viewed the company's decision to change the formula through the prism of the Civil War, as another surrender to the "Yankees"[21] (although Pepsi was invented in New Bern, North Carolina, PepsiCo has located its headquarters in New York State since its 1965 establishment[22]).

Company headquarters in Atlanta started receiving angry letters expressing deep disappointment and anger at executives. Over 400,000 calls and letters were received by the company.[23] A psychiatrist Coke hired to listen in on phone calls to the company hotline, 1-800-GET-COKE, told executives some people sounded as if they were discussing the death of a family member.[24]

They were, nonetheless, joined by some voices from outside the region. Chicago Tribune columnist Bob Greene wrote some widely reprinted pieces ridiculing the new flavor and damning Coke's executives for having changed it. Talk show hosts and comedians made light of the switch. Ads for New Coke were booed heavily when they appeared on the scoreboard at the Houston Astrodome.[18] Even Fidel Castro, a longtime Coke drinker, contributed to the backlash, calling New Coke a sign of American capitalist decadence.[25] Goizueta's own father expressed similar misgivings towards his son; the only time the younger man recalled him ever agreeing with Castro, the man whose revolution had driven him and his son, nearly penniless, to America a quarter-century before.[26]


Replace the logo "The Real thing", with "Deny Ignorance":

Some Coca-Cola executives had quietly been arguing for a reintroduction of the old formula as early as May.[34] By June, when soft drink sales usually start to rise, the numbers showed the new formula was leveling among consumers. Executives feared social peer pressure was now affecting their bottom line. Some consumers began trying to obtain old Coke from overseas, where the new formula had not yet been introduced, as domestic stocks of the old drink were finally liquidated.[35] Over the course of the month, Coca-Cola's chemists also quietly reduced the acidity level of the new drink, hoping to assuage complaints about the flavor and allow its sweetness to be better perceived (ads pointing to this change were prepared, but never used).[36]

In addition to the noisier public protests, boycotts and bottles being emptied into the streets of southern cities, the company had more serious reasons to be concerned. Its bottlers, and not just the ones still suing the company over syrup pricing policies, were expressing concern. While they had given Goizueta a standing ovation when he announced the change at an April 22 bottlers' meeting at Atlanta's Woodruff Arts Center, glad the company had finally taken some initiative in the face of Pepsi's advances,[18] they were less enthusiastic about the taste.[37][38] Most of them saw great difficulty having to promote and sell a drink that had long been marketed as "The Real Thing", constant and unchanging, now that it had been changed.


"There is a twist to this story which will please every humanist and will probably keep Harvard professors puzzled for years," said Keough at a press conference. "The simple fact is that all the time and money and skill poured into consumer research on the new Coca-Cola could not measure or reveal the deep and abiding emotional attachment to original Coca-Cola felt by so many people."

The company gave Mullins the first case of Coke Classic.[18]

Aftermath

By the end of the year, Coke Classic was substantially outselling both New Coke and Pepsi, putting the company back into the number-one position it has enjoyed ever since. Six months after the rollout, Coke's sales had increased at more than twice the rate of Pepsi's.[40]

[snip]

Coke spent a considerable amount of time trying to figure out where it had made a mistake, ultimately concluding that it had underestimated the public impact of the portion of the customer base that would be alienated by the switch. This would not emerge for several years afterward, however, and in the meantime the public simply concluded that the company had, as Keough suggested, failed to consider the public's attachment to the idea of what Coke's old formula represented. While that has become conventional wisdom in the ensuing years, some analyses have suggested otherwise.
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Re: Touching On a Few ATS "Issues"

Postby ryguy » Fri Jul 11, 2008 2:11 pm

I just need to restate this quote for those who don't have the time to go through all of the quotes above, as this one quote really makes the entire point pretty clear:

"Coke spent a considerable amount of time trying to figure out where it had made a mistake, ultimately concluding that it had underestimated the public impact of the portion of the customer base that would be alienated by the switch."

ATS might be a large entity, but they underestimate and ignore the outcry of a small yet vocal minority at their own peril. They should consider comments here, in these threads, similar to the 10% negative reaction that Coke experienced from their core customer base during the early market research before introducing "New Coke".

They can either learn from the marketing mistakes of others - or they can learn the hard way.

-Ry
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Re: Touching On a Few ATS "Issues"

Postby remus » Fri Jul 11, 2008 5:31 pm

ryguy wrote:I just need to restate this quote for those who don't have the time to go through all of the quotes above, as this one quote really makes the entire point pretty clear:

"Coke spent a considerable amount of time trying to figure out where it had made a mistake, ultimately concluding that it had underestimated the public impact of the portion of the customer base that would be alienated by the switch."

ATS might be a large entity, but they underestimate and ignore the outcry of a small yet vocal minority at their own peril. They should consider comments here, in these threads, similar to the 10% negative reaction that Coke experienced from their core customer base during the early market research before introducing "New Coke".

They can either learn from the marketing mistakes of others - or they can learn the hard way.

-Ry


Hit the nail on the head.
Yes, a million unique visitors, yes 120,000 members.
How many regularly posting members, of quality threads are there?
Bill, don't underestimate how much pull that minority of regular posting quality contributors have.
Do so at your own peril.
I don't see much in the way of animosity from most of the people here, from an unbiased point of view what i see is a concerned group of intelligent people attempting to help you address some issues that may in the long run actually inprove your business model.
Free of charge.
Hell, the company i work for pay consultants thousands for this sort of critical feedback.

Ahh, perhaps that is the agenda. ;)
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Re: Touching On a Few ATS "Issues"

Postby Forestlady » Fri Jul 11, 2008 6:05 pm

Chorlton wrote:

"Very well put Remus.
Anyone with half a brain running a business always accepts criticisms/comments/etc and uses them to improve what they are doing. Many have pointed out shortcomings/problems/improvements towards ATS but 'the cult' have simply backed away into a corner with their backs up and taken everything as a poke against them instead of thinking "Hmmm, I wonder if any of those points would improve our product", and I think that shows how weak, at the most basic level, the management skills at ATS is."

Chorlton, I couldn't agree with you more. I have spent some time scratching my head wondering what the hell they were doing. I run a small business, and if I were to take the arrogant tack Bill and Mark have, I would have been out of business a long time ago. I have never seen them take constructive criticism or suggestions very well.

I could have gotten Jacque Vallee, Jesse Marcel, Jr. and some other high profile people to be interviewed by ATS. My message was ignored and when I asked about it on the board, they told me that they didn't know who had sent the message so couldn't respond. Right. Then they told me they were busy, check back in six months. Then they started tearing me apart on the board saying things like I was expecting special attention. They used insults, belittling and intimidation to try to get me to shut up. Honestly, I felt like I'd been gang-raped after that thread.
Instead of saying, "hey, that's great, let's get Jacque Vallee for an interview", their response was to ridicule me.

During the first year or so that I was on ATS, I constantly received applause from mods. Suddenly, after the incident described above, I never received any more applauses, points, etc. Finally, some months ago, one day I tried to log in but couldn't even access the site; cookies had been placed on my computer to prevent me from logging in. I was never told why I had been banned. I never violated any T&Cs except for the one warning I received in 2.5 years, which was for calling someone a "troglodyte" - something in my book which isn't big enough to receive a warning for, but what the hell.

They placed a new T&C but I don't recall there being any announcement. The new T&C said that you couldn't provide links to "some" other conspiracy sites but wouldn't tell us what they were. It was clear to me that this was their way of getting rid of members they didn't like. It worked.

How I was banned was this: Someone mentioned "another website" on the boards. I PM'd the member and asked what website that was. (I wasn't aware of the new T&C's). The member PM'd me back and gave me the new link, but in code. About 2 days later, I received a PM from Johnny Canuck asking me what the website was. I had never PM'd him and to this day I don't know how he knew that I had asked about the other website. The only way would be that he was reading my PM's - without my permission or knowledge and I had never given anyone a reason to be suspicious about my PM's, but it was read by him, it's the only way he would have known about me asking about the other website. I responded to Johnny Canuck by asking him to email me at my own email address. I did this so I could ask him a question; namely, how did you know to ask me about the other site? I didn't feel safe enough on ATS at that time to ask him on the boards or thru PMs. Within minutes, I was completely banned. No explanation, no warning, nothing. This is an insulting and degrading way to treat one's customers.

This is a really mean and petty way for any business to treat one's customers/clients. I have lost all respect for ATS admins and mods, they have no integrity. Zero, zip. They lie like rugs constantly and attack anyone who dares to question their motives or practices. All of this is indicative of a massive Narcisstic Personality Disorder and Sociopathic activities. I don't think it's Cointelpro, as the author who started that rumor, thinks Cointelpro is at the bottom of every conspiracy and has no integrity herself. But I do think the people running ATS are crooks, liars and opportunists (a nice word for "grifter"). They have exploited people's writing/research talents and then toss these very same people into the streets after they've made their contribution to the site. Then they try to tell everyone that the members are what is important at ATS.

:nrsrchd:
Here's to the Nurse Rachett business model. Not.

Now, I never go to ATS, I hate the place, with all its right-wing lunatics and judgmental fundamentalists. I won't ever go back to that site, it's full of garbage.
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Re: Touching On a Few ATS "Issues"

Postby ryguy » Fri Jul 11, 2008 6:51 pm

Wow Forestlady...how long have you been around!? That was an amazing post.

I don't follow regarding the interview...why wouldn't you expect special treatment for getting someone like Vallee to agree to an interview? As I understand it, the man refuses, generally, to do interviews lately on this subject matter - in my mind, anyone who could obtain an interview from the man (or anyone else of that calibre) for any forum at all deserves godlike status, at the very least. lol

Thanks for posting by the way...that was a fun read.

Btw...banned for calling someone a "troglodyte" - now that's a first. :)

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Re: Touching On a Few ATS "Issues"

Postby You Can Call Me Ray » Fri Jul 11, 2008 7:01 pm

Forestlady wrote: Then they started tearing me apart on the board saying things like I was expecting special attention. They used insults, belittling and intimidation to try to get me to shut up. Honestly, I felt like I'd been gang-raped after that thread.


That would be some VERY interesting evidence to cite here (if they did not delete the thread and/or its contents), given how often Springer and especially SO trumpet their T&Cs around here for how they will not put up with such browbeating. I would highly encourage you to present any such evidence you may have to support these allegations.

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