Review of RRS Site

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Review of RRS Site

This guy's rather infatuated with the RRS lately.  No links to "He Who Shall Not Be Mentioned" this time:

 

Review of the Rational Response Squad

By vjack

When I asked what you thought of the Rational Response Squad, I did so because I wanted to hear your thoughts without my influence. That is, I wanted to know what you thought about them and not simply whether you agreed or disagreed with my views. Now it is time to share my opinion.

The most common category of criticism I have seen directed at the Rational Response Squad (RSS) involves the question of whether their tactics produce more harm than good for atheists. This is by no means the only criticism, but it is common common enough that it provides a natural starting point.


RSS Tactics: More Harm or More Good?

Let me cut to the chase and say that I come down on the "more good" side of this debate. That is, I think their presence and even their aggressive tactics benefit us more than they cost us. But this is an indirect benefit, and understanding it requires us to realize what the RSS is and what it is not.

The RSS has been fairly clear that they have no interest in representing atheism or promoting any sort of atheist movement. They strike me as far more of an anti-theism group than an atheist one. They are here to attack religion, and they seek a world where there is no need for an atheist label at all. Thus, I do not believe it is fair to say that they make the atheist movement, a movement which they reject, look bad. We need to evaluate them based on what they are trying to accomplish instead of what we might wish they were seeking to do. And when it comes to attacking religion, I think they do a pretty good job.

I agree that they can seem immature at times, but I think this is a good thing. They are far better able to reach a younger target audience than I can. As a high-profile group of young people, they are in a unique position to show other young people what is wrong with religion. This is exactly what they are doing, and they are doing it with energy, passion, and attitude. Yes, their message is aggressive. But that works in this context.

What We Can Learn From the RSS

Personally, I love the aggressive, in-your-face manner in which they go after theists. They are strong, bold, and full of confidence. If they had been around when I was 16, they would have been my heroes! Even now, I think their obvious passion is inspiring. Even if they don't want to be a part of the atheist movement, I can't help feeling that they energize it. They are a breath of fresh air in a sometimes stale endeavor.

You can argue, as many have, that their aggressive approach only lends credence to the widespread persecution complex many Christians have. There may be some truth to this criticism, but I'd submit that this complex will persist regardless of external reality. Christians feel persecuted because that is part of their identity. A little thing like reality will not change that.

I also admire the relentless marketing and self-promotion of the RSS. They are all over the Internet, seem to have a hand in everything, and are doing more than I ever could have imagined to inform others about their efforts. Regardless of what you think of their tactics, you simply have to be impressed with their marketing success.

What the RSS Can Learn From the Rest of Us

Brian Sapient says that he and his group are interested in constructive criticism. I'll offer a few suggestions along these lines.

First and most important, it sometimes seems that RSS members have a chip on their collective shoulder that interferes with what might be productive relationships with other atheists. Again and again, I've seen them attack first and apologize later. I understand that they feel constantly attacked by both theists and atheists and that they have probably learned that it is wise to expect attacks. However, this ends up alienating many potential supporters and contributes to the impression many atheists have of the RSS as overly hostile to atheists. Even if they have little interest in being part of a larger atheist community, it seems that collaboration, cooperation, and some degree of mutual respect with other atheists would only enhance their goals.

Let me be clear that I am not saying the RSS cannot play nice with others. They have done wonderful things for their friends (e.g., Margaret Downey, Greydon Square, etc.). But I think they would enhance their own success by working with atheists outside of their immediate circle and increasing their tolerance for criticism from such sources. Attacking atheists who criticize them is counterproductive.

A second and admittedly minor suggestion - I wish they could move past Kelly's physical appearance. It seems to come up over and over again, sometimes even in the posts themselves. I haven't spent much time in their forums because I find them poorly organized and confusing to navigate, but even if readers regularly come to comment on Kelly's appearance, I see little reason for the RSS to keep making an issue of it. Just ignore the juvenile comments and get on with what they are doing. I am interested in what Kelly has to say about religion, atheism, and other relevant topics, and would like to hear more from her. However, I feel like I've heard plenty about her appearance.

Finally, the main RSS website is something of a mess. I feel like I spend more time looking for what I want to read than reading it. Since I know this is too vague to be helpful, let me point specifically to having several blog feeds on the main page, all of which open in windows that use the same background and graphics of the main page. It seems like a strange hybrid between a group blog and an individual blog that makes for awkward use. When I come looking for a post that Sapient wrote, I never know if it will be on the main page or if I'll have to hunt for the feeds to Sapient's blog (which looks exactly the same as every other page). I wish they'd do this sort of thing instead of trying to put all the member blogs on the main site.

 

"The powerful have always created false images of the weak."


Hambydammit
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Will someone please clue me

Will someone please clue me in to where all this discussion of Kelly's looks is happening?  Seriously, I read almost all the posts every day, and I can't think of more than maybe 0.5% of the threads that have anything to do with it.

The forums will soon look substantially better.  That's a valid criticism.

I'm curious about the getting along with others bit.  When we were at the conference last year, everyone had nothing but praise for us, and outside of two or three notable pussies (cough, cough...) we are very accomodating to other atheists.  (Sorry... I felt like I needed to be juvenile.  Call it a self fulfilling prophecy.)  Seriously, I'm not sure who we're so mean to.  Maybe somebody can clue me in on that one, too.

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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Hambydammit wrote: Will

Hambydammit wrote:

Will someone please clue me in to where all this discussion of Kelly's looks is happening? Seriously, I read almost all the posts every day, and I can't think of more than maybe 0.5% of the threads that have anything to do with it.

The forums will soon look substantially better. That's a valid criticism.

I'm curious about the getting along with others bit. When we were at the conference last year, everyone had nothing but praise for us, and outside of two or three notable pussies (cough, cough...) we are very accomodating to other atheists. (Sorry... I felt like I needed to be juvenile. Call it a self fulfilling prophecy.) Seriously, I'm not sure who we're so mean to. Maybe somebody can clue me in on that one, too.

 

 

Dude you've got me i had to keep looking up at the top of the page to make sure the guy was speaking of RRS, (except obviously at the kelly part).  Where do people like these get these ideas from? 


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Hambydammit

Hambydammit wrote:
Seriously, I'm not sure who we're so mean to. Maybe somebody can clue me in on that one, too.

me

you're mean to me

sure you guys say that you're just doing server upgrades and that you're sorry a few posts got lost but i know the truth

you're just doing it so you can delete my posts because i rock and you're jealous

i am onto you, RSS 

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Hmmm... upon further

Hmmm... upon further reflection, I guess I did just address all the negative things the guy said about us.  I really should say "Thank you" from the RRS for the review.  On balance, I think it's pretty accurately represented what we are and what we are trying to do, although I would hesitate to say we don't wish to be part of the atheist movement.  If someone will just tell me what the atheist movement is, I'll consider joining.

So, should the person who wrote this review read this, I do thank you for the honest review, and if you'd care to clarify your negative criticisms, I promise that if we understand them, we'll take them under consideration.

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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I AM GOD AS YOU
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Hey  vjack     "There

Hey  vjack    

"There are no rules here. We're just trying to accomplish something." - atheist Thomas Edison

    'infatuated with the RRS'  ???

YEAH Me too

Thanks for caring  vjack and  Roisin Dubh

So BUDDHA you are ....  


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 hehe..   "marketing

 hehe..

 

"marketing success

Maybe i am misunderstanding this but i didn't know we were selling anything. If anything we are crying foul at the false advertising religion represents.

"readers regularly come to comment on Kelly's appearance"

Kelly is hot.. Just thought i would mention that..  

"Let me be clear that I am not saying the RSS cannot play nice with others."

Why should anyone play at all ? Ether you believe in the truth or you believe in god.. Its up to you.  

 


Hambydammit
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Money isn't the only

Money isn't the only capital in the world.  We are "selling" intellectual "capital."  Remember, selling doesn't imply that people don't want or need what we have.  When you go to the grocery store, you need what they sell.

We have the goal of being the undisputed number one atheist website in the world.  Nothing short of fantastic marketing is required for such a feat, particularly when we pretty much subsist on the good will of our donors.

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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As far as the 'not getting

As far as the 'not getting along with others' thing, I think what's happening is that people make comments about RRS or Brian or whatever which are essentially insulting in some way. Then Brian comes along and points this out, returning the favour. Then everyone's all like, "Hey why'd you attack me for no reason? I was just making constructive criticism." The problem is that people say shit without doing any kind of research, and so they end up making false generalizations, like accusations of militancy or whatnot. Normally on an internet board this kind of behaviour is typical, and so perhaps they are unprepared for Brian's retorts. I think it also stems from the implied 'don't talk about religion too loud' taboo that atheists have trapped themselves into over the years. It sparks some fear to try to see the other side of that issue, that the undeserved respect given to religion is at the expense of respect for the outspoken atheist.

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dave805 wrote: Ether you

dave805 wrote:

Ether you believe in the truth or you believe in god.. Its up to you.

 

Whoa there, let's not start hijaacking words like "truth", that's an intellectually dishonest tactic used by the theist morons. Smiling

BTW Dave, I freakin love your avatar!  Bravo! 


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FYI, thats not kellys rack,

FYI, thats not kellys rack, its nikkis, otherwise known as fyre86. Eye-wink


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Zombie wrote: FYI, thats

Zombie wrote:
FYI, thats not kellys rack, its nikkis, otherwise known as fyre86. Eye-wink

Yeah, I could tell.

Their racks look totally different!

j/k

"I am an atheist, thank God." -Oriana Fallaci


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Watcher wrote: Zombie

Watcher wrote:

Zombie wrote:
FYI, thats not kellys rack, its nikkis, otherwise known as fyre86. Eye-wink

Yeah, I could tell.

Their racks look totally different!

j/k

Lol, what can I say, I'm a breast man so I notice these things. :D 

Morte alla tyrannus et dei


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Quote:I also admire the

Quote:
I also admire the relentless marketing and self-promotion of the RSS. They are all over the Internet, seem to have a hand in everything, and are doing more than I ever could have imagined to inform others about their efforts. Regardless of what you think of their tactics, you simply have to be impressed with their marketing success.


Quick everyone Digg, stumble, and reddit this!  Sticking out tongue


Quote:
What the RSS Can Learn From the Rest of Us

Brian Sapient says that he and his group are  interested in constructive criticism. I'll offer a few suggestions along these lines.


Thank Jake!

 

Quote:
First and most important, it sometimes seems that RSS members have a chip on their collective shoulder that interferes with what might be productive relationships with other atheists. Again and again, I've seen them attack first and apologize later. I understand that they feel constantly attacked by both theists and atheists and that they have probably learned that it is wise to expect attacks. However, this ends up alienating many potential supporters and contributes to the impression many atheists have of the RSS as overly hostile to atheists. Even if they have little interest in being part of a larger atheist community, it seems that collaboration, cooperation, and some degree of mutual respect with other atheists would only enhance their goals.


I agree.  This one is a hard juggle.  I've seen many phoneys exposed over the years.  For example people pretending to be atheist only to be Christians spreading a dishonest caricature.  It's really hard to know who to trust.  Death threats come in making it hard to get close to people, and we've got to deal with our fair share of atheist on atheist cyber-meme-crime.


Look at your last example through the lens of Greg Epstein or the "humanist" shouting down "atheists."  If "non-believers" could learn to accept all other "non-believers" there would be no need for any of this.  So who does it start with?  I contend we have only called out atheists after they've fired the first blow.  And we'll continue to fire back.

Do I wish we could all unite for a common goal?  Damn straight.  Which is why I align with ANY group or person that can endorse us, accept us, or stand with us.

 

Quote:
Let me be clear that I am not saying the RSS cannot play nice with others. They have done wonderful things for their friends (e.g.,  Margaret Downey, Greydon Square, etc.). But I think they would enhance their own success by working with atheists outside of their immediate circle and increasing their tolerance for criticism from such sources. Attacking atheists who criticize them is counterproductive.


I agree about the counterproductivity.  The problem is, some atheists will lie... others will buy it.  Sometimes it feels good to have a record exonerating yourself for all to read.  Of course if atheists would stop lying about us, we wouldn't need to waste the time, you wouldn't have needed to waste the time, and we could have all been working on a common goal of advancing science, reason, and rationality.  For the most part we rarely address the "attacks."  We touch no more than 5% of them.  So while I agree, I think there is balance, and clearing the record at least a little bit, I think is important. 

Before the server crashed we had a poll here asking members if they wanted me to respond to more of the criticism coming from the commenters at friendlyatheist.com, the vote was roughly split.  Also I do have a video up expressing the point that we aren't going to respond to criticism much.  For the most part we did stop doing that since AAI, we got real focused on proactive work rather than defensive, your blog comments actually sparked me to write.  I will be so busy now with site upgrades that I wont have much time for these issues for a while, so expect a little pull back for a while.

 

Quote:
A second and admittedly minor suggestion - I wish they could move past Kelly's physical appearance. It seems to come up over and over again, sometimes even in the posts themselves. I haven't spent much time in  their forums because I find them poorly organized and confusing to navigate, but even if readers regularly come to comment on Kelly's appearance, I see little reason for the RSS to keep making an issue of it. Just ignore the juvenile comments and get on with what they are doing. I am interested in what Kelly has to say about religion, atheism, and other relevant topics, and would like to hear more from her. However, I feel like I've heard plenty about her appearance.


Any of this kind of chatter has typically arisen in our webcam room, not on our forums.  People on our forums tend to act with a modicum of respect.  Anonymous random users constantly bombard our webcam room with the tit chatter.  Don't let it bother you, at least their listening to someone talk about why their god doesn't exist as they remain hypnotized by her.

 
Quote:
Finally, the  main RSS website is something of a mess. I feel like I spend more time looking for what I want to read than reading it.

Agreed.  I bought a new server today, and we're currently making a huge site upgrade.  Going to version 5.5 of drupal from 4.7 and we should see some  huge benefits from the change. 

 

Quote:
Since I know this is too vague to be helpful, let me point specifically to having several blog feeds on the main page, all of which open in windows that use the same background and graphics of the main page. It seems like a strange hybrid between a group blog and an individual blog that makes for awkward use.

Kelly's blog has some variation right now as it's part of a book/movie project.  See her right sidebar: www.rationalresponders.com/blog/kellym78 

 

Quote:
When I come looking for a post that Sapient wrote, I never know if it will be on the main page or if I'll have to hunt for the feeds to Sapient's blog (which looks exactly the same as every other page). I wish they'd do  this sort of thing instead of trying to put all the member blogs on the main site.

This is being worked on to some degree.  Our new site will have special features for the bloggers sections with hopefully some custome theming options.  The navigation menu will be easier to navigate as well as more functionality.

 These criticisms are on the mark, it's merely a matter of time.  I've always stressed attacking reigion over revising the site.  However from Dec 15-Feb 15th it's all about site upgrades to the network.

 

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  I have been reading this

 

I have been reading this blog for a while now, and have often wondered what the purpose of this site is.  Ok, its an atheist website, but what are the goals?  Does RRS want to deconvert theists?  Cultivate activism?  

I read the FAQ, but is there some kind of mission statement for RRS?   

Readiness to answer all questions is the infallible sign of stupidity. Saul Bellow, Herzog


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Jolt wrote:   I have been

Jolt wrote:

 

I have been reading this blog for a while now, and have often wondered what the purpose of this site is.  Ok, its an atheist website, but what are the goals?  Does RRS want to deconvert theists?  Cultivate activism?  

I read the FAQ, but is there some kind of mission statement for RRS?   

 

One of the points is for you to stay long enough so you learn what our goals are without having to ask what our goals are. 

 

 

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