Friday, April 26, 2013

A New Forum?

Several years ago, I had an idea for a website for atheist activism (linky), that would be quite simple - frequently asked questions of atheists.



Occasionally, I'll go through my answers and update them as I tend to grow in my understanding etc. It was a small project, but it's by far my most successful (which doesn't say a lot in itself). Compare that to my spending 16 months, at an average of 1.5 hours a day, on another project that has little to no return on investment (the heck? - I haven't touched it since January, and I may not unless it starts to be used more regularly).

On the FAQ, these are some of the search queries that have lead people to the site over the past few months:
  • where does meaning come from 
  • why do people ignore god 
  • if there is no afterlife what is the point of living 
  • morality does not come from god 
  • what is the point of life if there is no afterlife 
  • a belief that god doesn't exist 
  • do atheists believe in nothing 
  • if there is no afterlife what is the point of life 
  • atheist support gays 
  • atheists support homosexuality 
  • do atheists have faith 
  • if you believe only in things that you can see or touch 
  • people who have had bad expierences with god 
  • proof allah does not exist 
  • what do atheist believe? nothing? 
  • where do morals come from if not from god 
  • where does morality come from if not gos 
  • why do people choose to be an atheist 
  • 'where does meaning come from?' 
  • archaic religions atheism 
  • are atheists unhappy 
  • atheism is not closed minded 
  • atheism the blief of nothing 
  • atheism unhappy 
  • atheist against religious freedom 
  • atheist are close minded 
  • atheist belief in nothing 
  • atheist believe in nothing 
  • atheist close minded 
  • atheist faqs 
  • atheist ignore religionist freedom 
  • atheist who want religious freedom of experience 
  • atheists believe in nothing 
  • atheists believe in nothing or just not in god 
  • atheists closed minded 
  • atheists just want to sin 
  • belief that god doesn't exist is 
  • belief that goods doesn't exist 
  • believing in no god 
  • can you prove god doesn't exist 
  • did you choose to become an atheist 
  • difference between doesn't and isn't 
  • difference between i believe in god"and i believe on god 
  • difference between i believe there is no god and i don't believe there is a god 
  • difference between i don't believe god doesn't exist 
  • do all atheists support gays 
  • do atheist have faith? 
  • do atheists just want to sin 
  • do atheists support homosexuality 
  • do athiest believe in nothing 
  • do morals come from family? 
  • do you choose to be an atheist 
  • exist the same 
  • god and bad experiences 
  • having a bad experince with god 
  • he made you hate god 
  • how do you know when you are right 
  • how does theaters interpretation of life come about 
  • how to explain that there is god 
  • how to explain there is a god 
  • http://atheist-faq.com/what-is-the-point-of-living-without-an-afterlife-or-god/ 
  • i believe in god and he doesn’t exist 
  • i don't believe in not believing 
  • i dont believe that god exist vs i believe that god doesn't exist 
  • i dont worship god 
  • i only believe in evidence 
  • i only believe in what i can see at 
  • i only believe in what i experience 
  • i only believe what i can see 
  • if god d oesnt exist where do morals come from 
  • if god isnt real where do morals come from 
  • if it wasn't god who made the universe 
  • if not god 
  • if there is no god where does morality come from 
  • is believing that there is no god a believe 
  • is it bad to only believe what you see 
  • living without an afterlife 
  • meaning and purpose 
  • no difference between believing in god and not believing in god 
  • not believing in god vs. believing there is no god 
  • only believe in things you can see 
  • only believe in what you see 
  • only believing in things you can see 
  • questions to as an athiest 
  • religion where you only believe if you see it 
  • religion where you only believe in science 
  • religion: eventually unhappy 
  • rights don't come from god 
  • scienc has all teh answers 
  • skeptical of skepticism 
  • that which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence god is not greatpage 
  • the belief that god doesn't exist 
  • the difference between believing in god and believing god 
  • things we can only believe 
  • touch feel believe 
  • unhappy atheists 
  • we can only believe what is shown 
  • we only believe what we see 
  • what atheist believe about nothing 
  • what do atheists who believe in nothing talk about? 
  • what does it mean to believe in nothing 
  • what if the universe wasnt created 
  • what is the difference between being atheist and not believing in god 
  • what is the difference of believing god exist and believing in god 
  • what is the point of living as there is no afterlife? 
  • what is the purpose of life if there is no afterlife 
  • what made you become atheist 
  • what's the difference between believing in god and atheism 
  • what's the point of life if there is no afterlife 
  • whats the difference between believe in god and believe god 
  • whee do our meanings from life come from 
  • where do atheist morals come from 
  • where do morals come from atheist 
  • where do morals come from god 
  • where do one's morals come from if not from god 
  • where do rights come from to an athiest 
  • where do you go when you die 
  • where does atheist morality come from 
  • where does life purpose come from 
  • where does meaning come from? 
  • where does morality come from 
  • where does morality come from if not god 
  • where does morality come from? 
  • where does the meaning of life come from 
  • where is morality derived 
  • where to find purpose of life 
  • who created the universe 
  • who created the universe if it wasn't god 
  • why aren't atheists afraid of going to hell 
  • why atheist angry 
  • why atheist unhappy 
  • why believe in god who doesn't exist 
  • why did you chose atheism 
  • why do atheists not believe in freedom of religion 
  • why do i feel guilty for not believing in god 
  • why do people believe only when they see 
  • why do people ignore evidence 
  • why do people ignore evidence for god 
  • why do people ignore the love of god? 
  • why do people ingore god 
  • why do so many people ignore god 
  • why does god ignore some people 
  • why don't atheists believe in god 
  • why god makes bad experences 
  • without god, where did morals come from? 
  • you are an athiest because you want to sin 
  • you don't know you can only believe
Some of them are facepalm-worthy, but that's what the site is for! The mission isn't to deconvert anyone - but rather primarily to correct misconceptions and facilitate understanding about the "average" atheist position.

The site doesn't currently have a mechanism for asking new questions. I have an email address there, but it's only ever been used once - by another atheist taking issue with something I had to say on agnosticism versus atheism.

I've been musing over the idea of adding a forum to the site, taking advantage of its traffic, to encourage this discussion - probably just as a sub-section. I don't have much time, though. My job is fairly inconsistent, in terms of workload, so sometimes I'm free to work on activism projects, and sometimes I'm swamped.

I worry that the forum might open the flood gates. What if 20 creationists challenge me at the same time (it's not uncommon)? Plus, in unmoderated forums, they have a tendency of not being accountable to factual or logical errors (link to my "Talking to a Brick Wall"). I'd rather threads not descend into repeating the same logical fallacies over and over. The third time you've been corrected on shifting the burden of proof, for instance, you're done - though, I don't want to be too draconian either.

Here's some of my ideas for moderation rules on posts.

  • No spam (obviously)
  • Relevant to discussion and topic
  • Controversial assertions must be backed up by "reasonably academic" sources. Once a citation is requested, the person must provide, or not be allowed to continue, or the person may concede/withdraw the assertion. 
  • Logical fallacies get warnings/explanations, and eventual bans, if the person fails to correct.
  • Academic/standard epistemology must be followed, unless the person wishes to define a new epistemological framework and demonstrate it's reasonably effective.
I would expect many people to make errors (news flash!), which is why the education phase is in there. That's the point of all this, after all. I do expect, additionally, that the person makes a reasonable attempt to learn and address those errors. Ignoring the corrections would be grounds for banning. 

It's as much for my time management (in not wasting time on fools), as it is about keeping the conversation productive. 


Long story short, this is what I'm considering. Maybe in the next few weeks I'll start working on it.




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