How do we put this?
We have always prided ourselves on the site we have built, and those hundreds of commenters and authors that have become part of The AIMN family. As a family we have engaged with respect and maturity.
But lately … not so much.
Over the last six months there has been more of a tendency to attack rather than debate. The number of emails we receive from people – and there are dozens of them – that despair at the way they are treated on our site, forces us to act.
We are at fault for not doing something earlier.
We are extremely disappointed that people (mainly women) are leaving this site after years of contributing here. And why are these people leaving? Simple: they didn’t come here for denigration and abuse. But that’s what they have had to contend with. What’s worse is when these people reveal what is happening in their own lives and the difficulties they face (mainly with serious health issues). What fun (not!) it must be then to come to our site only to be denigrated, ridiculed, harassed etc. They simply don’t deserve it.
The internet has for some become a dangerous place. We don’t want to be such a place.
We are not trying to quell free-speech. As one of our commenters used to say: “Free-speech doesn’t give you the right to be an arsehole.” But we also have to weigh up the options: Do we give a dozen or so contributors the platform to debate in the manner they want, or do we shut down aggressive debate in order that a few hundred extra people would feel safe to contribute here? We have no choice but to run with the second option.
Surely we can all again debate with the respect and maturity that set this site apart.
We ask that you help us turn the trend around. We can do it.
Next time we won’t be asking.
On a different note, you would be aware that this site survives because of the wonderful support we receive from those making donations (including our own financial contribution), and from the income from Google ads. We couldn’t survive with just two of those income sources – we rely on all three.
We have a G-Rating with Google, and they regularly scan our site to ensure that we are complying with the conditions of that rating. The slightest little thing – such as aggression or a threat in the comments or the articles – sees us receive a Violation Report. One of those sets us off in a mad panic to remove or edit the offending material, and to respond to Google to review the violation again. The number of violations we can have before we lose Google ads is not unlimited.
We can’t afford to reach our limit.
If we may indulge ourselves allow us to conclude with the ‘disasters’ of not treating people with respect:
Michael related a story here the other day, of when he and a few of his footy mates – deciding to go up-market and drinking in the lounge of the Belair Hotel – found themselves in an argument with a well-dressed businessman after Whitlam was dismissed by Kerr. The gentleman – about 55ish – was pleased over the dismissal, but rather than debate the issue with him the boys fired off abuse after abuse (mainly words that shouldn’t be repeated here). It didn’t stop there: each encounter with him at the local invited abuse from the boys.
Twenty-five years later, on one ANZAC Day, one of the Adelaide stations included a story in the news about a young pilot who had been shot down over Germany in WW2. The now elderly war hero described his escape from Germany. It was a story to give you goose bumps.
Who was this war hero? It was the same man who Michael and his footy mates abused relentlessly back in the mid 70s. A hero who fought for Australia … was continually abused over something much less trivial than being shot down over Germany.
Michael cannot express the guilt he felt.
Oh how easy it is to make an idiot of one’s self.
But he didn’t know who he was talking to. A bit like us here, don’t you think?
Michael and Carol
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