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    A Message to the CM.com Community

    by Chris Martenson

    Tuesday, June 1, 2010, 12:18 PM

To my community:

This past Memorial Day weekend, users in a forum thread asked if perhaps recent forum topics and replies, as well as general comments elsewhere on the site, had gone off mission. I am delighted to have the opportunity to revisit the extremely important topic of what this site is about and what it is trying to achieve.

I’ve received a lot of emails on both sides of this issue, and several others recently (involving religion, for example) where some members of this community want to wade into these waters again.  Some call these waters “conspiracy theory,” but I prefer the term “belief-oriented material,” because that more broadly includes other disruptive subject areas that can drag us off mission.

There were several prominent reasons why we made the decision to not engage in belief-oriented material, the most important of which were that this material provoked emotional responses on both sides and that nobody could clearly articulate how engaging in such discussions helped anybody navigate towards action.

They were always more “heat” than “light,” created rifts, and never caused anybody to change their minds, as far as I could tell.

Our mission here is to move people from awareness to understanding and then to actions.  The Crash Course breeds the initial awareness, and our conversations here (should) help move us into deeper understanding, with the goal being definitive action.  Unfortunately, as is true everywhere else on the Internet, belief-oriented topics seem only to derail our efforts.

We recently polled ourselves here at headquarters and came up with this assessment of our efforts:

Our success at ChrisMartenson.com has come from creating an open, strictly non-partisan environment that attracts readers from all parts of the political and economic spectrum.  Writing and content published on the site is linked to and reposted on far left and right blogs, sites of every religious denomination, and eco-minded and financial sites all over the web.

Of the 832 sites linking in to ChrisMartenson.com, very few have anything in common.  In addition to our unbiased policy of open inclusion, our success comes from the trust readers have in the source of information.

Readers check under the hood, do their homework on the back story, and come to the conclusion that the message they are reading is being delivered from a very reliable, high-integrity, and hype-free source, which engages them more deeply in the material and community and provides living proof that the transformations they are contemplating are not only possible, but desirable.

Reaching a broad and diverse audience was my prime objective, and I am asking for your help in building on the incredible effort that it has taken to get to this point.  We are in the top 0.5% of all websites worldwide (measured by traffic and links), and your words, links, and comments really, really matter.

While I am sympathetic that such things as religion and having an organizing framework for understanding world politics (NWO, Global Government, Biderberger, Trilteral, etc.) are very important to some individuals (and may even serve to propel them gracefully into action), my assessment is that open Internet forums are simply not up to the challenge of handling such material.  Too much is missing somehow, as if real human interaction is required for some subjects.  This is not really a surprising idea — it makes a lot of sense — but it needs to be recognized here.

We have a great community here, along with some of the best discussions on the Internet, but like all things, this environment needs to be maintained and that takes effort.

My request is that we revisit the forum guidelines and rules and strictly adhere to them.

From that link, here are the Guiding Principles of this site; they are the heart of matter:

GUIDING PRINCIPLES

The goal of ChrisMartenson.com is to draw attention to the important messages in the Crash Course and also to create a safe and welcoming place for people to discuss its implications in an intelligent and enlightened way.

Together we will continue to hold this site to a higher standard than is usually found elsewhere on the Internet. We will be civil with each other, respectful, thoughtful, and considerate.

Anything that causes people to feel unwelcome or unsafe will be discouraged or removed, as will things that serve to detract from our high standard of intelligent discourse. Our mission is to engage, not to repel.

Posts must be data-rich, fact-based, and constructive, especially if they are critical. We ask that all critical commentary be accompanied by thoughtful suggestions for improvement—or not offered at all.

Creating a safe place for new individuals to interact with some very challenging material is my highest goal.  I wish there was a bright line dividing appropriate material from inappropriate material, but there’s a fair amount of gray area, requiring judgment calls.  We’ll make those calls to the best of our ability.

A quick review is probably helpful at this point to assure that we are all on the same page.  Again from the forum guidelines and rules, here’s our position on Controversial Topics:

CONTROVERSIAL TOPICS

We have given careful thought to the mission of this site and how information is best presented here to preserve the focus and effectiveness of our central message, especially to new users who may be unfamiliar with the main purpose of the site.

The function of the main forums is to discuss energy, economy, and the environment, personal finances, preparing for a future of expensive energy and less abundant natural resources, and those topics most directly related to them.

Although we prefer free discussion, we believe that there are some topics that can give the first-time visitor a mistaken impression of this site and run counter to its primary mission.

The Controversial Topics forum area is a place where veteran ChrisMartenson.com users can discuss topics which are outside of the main thrust of the site, and which, in our opinion, are controversial and/or might deflect a new visitor from understanding the central message of the website. 

We respect that there can be value in these topics, but have found that they can deflect new visitors who may not be ready to engage in this material.  We are not banning or limiting your ability to converse on these topics in any way; we are simply asking that these conversations happen at a location on the site where they will not be prominently displayed to every casual visitor.

Therefore, new threads covering the following topics may be created only in the Controversial Topics folder:

  • Global conspiracy theories
  • New world order conspiracy theories
  • 9/11 conspiracy theories
  • Guns and weapons
  • Global warming
  • Discussions on faith and religion
  • Other topics which are potentially interesting but not necessarily related to the purpose of this site

I am asking the moderators to be especially vigilant in applying the site guidelines.  All belief-oriented material will either be moved to the Controversial Topics area or removed from the site.

My personal assessment is that stress and emotions are running high, not just here, but everywhere.  Given the current levels of stress, extra caution is warranted, and best-behavior is requested from everyone.  If anyone feels that any given poster seems to be needling, provoking, or otherwise seeming to try and stir up an emotional reaction, I would ask that they be flagged as well.  If you have ongoing concerns about a particular poster, you can let us know by e-mail.  Now is not the time to try and stir things up, but to calm them down.  Extra civility is both expected and required.

Please help us do our jobs by flagging any and all inappropriate materials, comments, or threads.

Together we can continue to have the best conversations on the web.

Thank you,
Chris Martenson

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