Friday, February 19, 2010

Gratifying Responsiveness of SI

Never have I posted two articles in two days, but there is a first for everything. This offering is essentially an extension of the previous article, Blowing the Whistle on the SI “Referees,” ReDux: Who are SI’s Most Active Members?

Happily I want to recognize that the pseudo- fundamentalist Sharper Iron (SI) site has and continues to tweak and revise its claims to potential advertisers and membership. SI has added a new * qualifier in the FAQ to its “one thousand active members” statement. The latest qualifier states,
* “‘Active’ here means members who have logged in at the site within the last 12 months.”
While the adjustment is appreciated the problem, a minor problem, with that qualifier is that SI 3.0 has not been open 12 months for members to log in. SI has been open since early June 2009. That is just over 8 months. I am hopeful the 12 months will be revised to eight months or, if I might suggest,
“Active” here means members who have logged in at the site since it reopened in June 2009.
Nevertheless, it is gratifying to see that SI is responsive and moving toward genuine reporting to its membership and potential advertisers.

The evolving current statement represents significant revision from the original statement at SI 3.0, which claimed,
The site has four thousand members (several hundred active) who identify with conservative evangelicalism of the fundamentalist variety.
SI 3.0 never had four thousand members, therefore, the long awaited removal of that claim was most welcome.

In 2009 I had several discussions with Aaron Blumer sharing with him how it was highly unethical to claim “four thousand” (4,000) members at SI 3.0 when SI clearly did not, and does not today, have that membership level to produce to its advertisers.

Having been a working professional in the media I understand how, with SI struggling to meet its financial obligations, needs to attract advertising revenue. However, to make claims of a numerical target audience and set advertising fees based on those numbers that cannot be produced or delivered to an advertiser, i.e., that do NOT exist is highly unethical.

I demonstrated to Aaron how the 4,000 members claim is the first cousin of “cooking the books,” which is a serious federal offense. He at first rejected these things, trying to legitimize the claim. Obviously and thankfully Aaron has come to realize that he could not in good conscience stand by a claim of 4,000 members at SI 3.0 and therefore made correction.

The latter portion “who identify with conservative evangelicalism” has, however, been dropped, but should not have been, which will be the subject of a future discussion.

And Still Another Revision at SI:
SI has revised its What to Expect from SI Moderators section. No longer does the following appear,
So Moderators can and do join in the “game,” but mostly do a lot of watching.
The revised portion now reads as follows (note the underlined),
So Moderators can and do join in the “game,” but are not just “players.”
As I have documented in Blowing the Whistle on the SI “Referees” and in Who are SI’s “Most Active Members”, SI admins and moderators step way beyond the bounds of observers or referees. That they do not settle for “the role of referee” in a “game of pick up basketball,” they become the game and dominate the threads because if they did not participate aggressively most would be void of any commentary or discussion whatsoever.

There is nothing inherently wrong with SI moderators taking very active roles in the threads. To have portrayed their role, however, as that of a “referee” and then let them interject personal biases, choosing sides, playing favorites with impunity was inconsistent with SI’s stated role for its moderators. If on the rare occasion someone from what is left of the membership were to take an opposing view to any one of the SI moderator’s personal biases, including, but not limited to Calvinism and especially conservative evangelicalism, at least they will no longer react under the facade of “mostly doing a lot of watching.”

It is again gratifying to recognize the responsiveness of SI.
Responsive when obvious inconsistencies are demonstrated between what SI claims to be and do with the reality of what SI is and does.

I am pleased to recognize that nearly every time legitimate issues with SI’s claims or practices are disclosed, here or in private to the site administrator, the site responds with modest adjustments.


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