Atheism United Facebook Group FAQ

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The Shortest Version of our Rules and Starter Post Guidelines

RULES: Be a jerk and find out.

FIRST POST SUBMISSION GUIDELINES: Submit your view on any topic (preface it as your opinion if it's not fact based), and ask our atheist-only audience a question.

Group Tenets and Rules on Civility

Let's talk about our existence without the veil of religion over our eyes. Be kind, polite, and as civil as you can be to your fellow atheists here!

Be nice. Don’t correct grammar. Don’t attack people personally, instead express your difference of opinion, or explain why you think theirs is wrong, do so with kindness.

Trollish behavior and intellectual dishonesty is unwelcome. If you feel attacked, report comment to admin, don’t stoop to the level of the personal attacker, or attack the person for being a troll/theist, or you risk getting caught in moderation crossfire. Always “report comment to admin” when you see someone expressing a theistic position, this group is only for atheists.

Rudeness, hostility, trolling, and personal attacks aren’t acceptable when aimed at anyone in the group, but when aimed at any of our moderators, a quick ban from the group is the likely result.

Please don't imitate a position that you don't actually hold for the sake of humor, trolling, silliness, or any other reason. Don't say something a theist would say or something you don't actually believe to be true. While your intent may be humor, it's unlikely that everyone will know.

We’re committed to providing an open and welcoming community that respects every member’s personal integrity and reasonable participation. Discussion and disagreement are encouraged as part of free inquiry, but must not take the form of personal attacks.

When possible, members should give each other the benefit of explaining behavior found offensive or unwelcome, but explanations don't redeem violations, and those asked to stop any prohibited conduct — are expected to comply immediately.

Prohibited conduct may include but is not limited to: harassment related to gender, gender identity, sexual identity, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, age, ancestry, nationality, familial status, marital status, military status, pregnancy, intelligence, or socioeconomic status; threats, abuse, or deliberate intimidation; stalking or harassing.

We know through mitochondrial DNA and our own evolution that every single one of us is related. We kindly ask for our members to keep this at the forefront of our minds when discussing issues that we disagree about. Let's be respectful of each other and discuss why we disagree with someone, rather than attacking them for it.

— Q. What sorts of things get people blocked from this group?

- Making arguments in defense of theism, or other theistic tip-offs.
- Asking to be banned or saying that “I’m leaving this group because of X.”
- Breaking our group tenets on civility.
- Being a troll.
- You blocked a mod or admin.
- Blatant disrespect of the people that volunteer their time to moderate this group, and provide this powerful resource to the atheist community.
- Having been suspended from the group 3 times.
- We remove a few people per week for lack of civility/trolling and have found that it dramatically increased the quality of the overall group. If at any point, you are one of the top trolls, fight instigators, or most intellectually dishonest people in the group, you're on borrowed time. We have a slightly lower bar of trollishness when it intersects with arrogant pseudo-science.

Starter Post Submission Guidelines

-Explain your perspective or view on whatever issue you’re bringing up, or ask the group a question about any issue.

- The first post in a FB group has a bully pulpit. Ensure that your post is fact based. Matters of opinion should be prefaced as your opinion.

- Always give the group a chance to engage, typically by asking a question.

- Use English, with the best grammar that you can muster.

- Submit the post straight to the group instead of sharing from elsewhere.

- Posts about religion should be something personal to you in some way, something that impacted you, or something you need help with. They shouldn’t be arguments against religion.

- Don't just post a link to an article or video. Give a summary of your view, and/or ask the audience a specific question. Videos that autoplay from facebook are given priority over outbound youtube videos in our selection process.

- We only approve a portion of the posts that are submitted and make sure to balance news, memes, and personal stories. We have to decline at least 10 posts per day that have something to do with religion, we get too many submissions in that category.

- We know through group polling that religion is involved in less than 10% of the lives, of 92% of the atheists, in this group. But for some reason, some days go by in which 100% of the submissions talk about religion, many of which are suitable for a debate group, or worse, an actual religious group. Please help us by talking about your life, following the other rules outlined above.

- We can't respond with suggestions on post improvement all the time, but we might decline your post and make suggestions, please look for that, make alterations, and resubmit. Users are reporting that they’re not seeing our feedback, this is a facebook issue, we normally do send feedback. Please just read the posting rules carefully.

- Post about things that you’re curious about, your personal life, your take on the news, your views on anything, anything at all, just remember to ask the audience a question or do something to get them involved. For example, if you post a picture of your pet, ask for the audience to post pictures of their pets. Simply talking about yourself is well suited for your personal wall. Asking the largest atheist group in the world to respond is well suited for our group.

- Introduction posts are only approved if they tell your story and give the audience a specific question or thought to comment on.

- Post submissions that don’t meet our guidelines, might be reposted from the Atheism United account with the proper formatting. You will be credited.

- If you follow the format concepts, you're likely to get approved.

Q and A

Q. Why don’t you let every starter post through?

A. First posts are sent to the feeds of thousands of atheists and we want to ensure that the space is used wisely. We want those posts to be an opportunity for you to engage on a meaningful question or thought. We don’t want the space being used to further disinformation. We’ve also found that without post approval, groups on FB are horrible. Some of the posts that we have to decline are simply religious proselytizing (in which case the poster is quickly removed).

Q. My post wasn’t approved but I think it met all of the submission guidelines:

A. We might already have one or more similar threads recently. We might feel that it isn't a strong way to make the point or something about it just isn't quite right. We're drawing on lots of experience and often reject posts that will needlessly start fights, we work hard to keep the peace. The three biggest reasons a meme is rejected are: it’s been posted before, it wasn’t a strong meme, or we have too many memes on that day.

Q. But what I have to say is important, I really want to post it!

A. We want to hear it, but the comment section of another established post is a better place for you to weigh in with that particular comment.

Q. Why do your guidelines say to talk about things other than religion but then every post is about religion?

A. We work on this every day and we need your help. Please read our submission guidelines and use them as a tool to create great posts that don’t have anything to do with religion. No matter how much we try, we continuously get more posts about religion than anything else. We believe that personal stories about religion and its impact on our own lives are important. It’s ok that our group is used to make arguments against religion, but there aren’t any theists here to respond, so we tend to only approve arguments against religion in meme form. We'd like to see more memes about what we do believe in, rather than memes about what we don't believe in.

This post about the reasons behind this group will answer more questions (including why it’s an atheist only group):

Q. If this group is exclusively for atheists, why are there memes in the group that are clearly directed at theists?

A. This is a public group. Our data indicates that anywhere between 500 and 2000 theists may see content within our community on any given day. When a post is shared, the reach of a meme can extend to tens of thousands of theists. While theists aren't permitted to join the group, we are certain that many theists do read the content, one way we know this is because they attempt to post comments which get sent to mods for approval. When a group member shares a meme, it's then displayed on their personal wall, expanding its reach to their own audience, which may include theists. Atheists in our group often use these memes as conversation starters. If you'd like to engage with a theist on the content of one of the memes in our group, please consider sharing it in an atheist/theist debate group. With that said, it is our preference that atheists post memes that speak to who we are, what we believe, and how we think as opposed to exposing the billions of flaws in theistic thinking.

Q. Why does nobody ever tells me why my post was declined?

A. We usually do! We send feedback via the post approval feedback tool. We’re hearing users say that they don’t always get these. Unfortunately we don’t have the time to explain the minutiae of each decision, and we are sorry about that. We’re a group of a few moderators with full-time jobs and other responsibilities handling thousands of comments, posts, and people per day. We provide this forum to help atheists around the world; please be respectful of our time. We wish we could do more and explain everything to everyone, but the group has gotten very large, and we have to focus on the bigger picture.

Q. Why was commenting turned off?

A. We often have an explanation in the thread itself, but if you don’t see one, it might be because:
- we view the question or issue as resolved/answered.
- we value your time and don’t want you wasting it if it’s resolved.
- we don’t want it to become a viral post and be forced to FB home screens, but we also don’t want to completely remove it, for the benefit of readers or commenters involved.

Q. What sorts of things get people blocked from this group?

A. - Making arguments in defense of theism, or other theistic tip-offs.
- Asking to be banned or saying that “I’m leaving this group because of X.”
- Breaking our group tenets on civility.
- Being a troll.
- You blocked a mod or admin.
- General jerkiness/rudeness
- Extreme disrespect of the people that volunteer their time to moderate this group, and provide this powerful resource to the atheist community.

- Having been suspended from the group 3 times.

- We remove a few people per week for lack of civility/trolling and have found that it dramatically increased the quality of the overall group. If at any point, you’re one of the top trolls, fight instigators, or most intellectually dishonest people in the group, you're on borrowed time.

Q. Did you ban someone for disagreeing with you?

A. That is firmly against our mod team instruction. Bans only happen for the reasons listed above. Nobody is allowed to be a mod in our group unless they understand the value of disagreement. If you’re engaged in a conversation with a mod about any topic, please just follow the rules on civility, and you will be here for however long you choose. On a typical day our moderators read 100 comments per day or more that we disagree with, we believe that difference of opinion in our group is the strength of the group.

Q. This group seems to have a great deal of nit-pickers. Why can't people just comment on the sentiment of a optimistic post?

A. Hopefully, this provides some insight into why we can’t approve certain posts. We strive to avoid approving posts that we refer to as “landmines.” These are posts that are likely to elicit a strong negative reaction, maybe they aren't fact based, or they portray atheism poorly, etc.... We do this because seemingly harmless posts often elicit enough negative responses for us to moderate. We don't have unlimited time, and upholding our group standards is important to us. We've learned from experience that certain types of posts create a lot of moderation work. Mods work to ensure that participants are typically civil with other participants, but we don't attempt to sanitize the group of imperfections, we are all imperfect.

Please remember that we (all of us) are also learning from this experience.

We are learning about others’ reactions, rather than holding onto an idealistic notion of how we wish others would behave. We are coming to understand that there are nit-pickers and individuals who prefer to react negatively rather than focus on the positive, among other things that we might wish were different. Many atheists are shocked to learn that there are some atheists that supported Donald Trump or that believe in ghosts, or the afterlife.

This is one of the main objectives of this group. Who are we? This is us. This is our identity. We are not all optimistic and positive, always looking to embrace the best in everything. Sometimes, we are angry, hostile, ready to attack, and quick to find faults in others. Sometimes we believe things that pan out in a scientific sense. It’s up to us to recognize this and, if we feel so inclined, try to inspire others to adopt a different view. But most importantly we can learn too.

The most difficult thing to do in life is to see things as they are, not as we wish them to be. We need to see things as they are.

Q. Isn’t this an echo chamber?

A. Read 5 threads here with over 100 comments and read all of the comments on those threads. It’s far from an echo chamber. I’m writing this sentence after just reading comments from a few atheists that criticized someone for the way that they ridiculed the bible.

Q. Why don't you make the group private?

A. The main reasons for this group being public are that it helps growth, makes it more accessible, allows us to share our views with a wider audience, and that it helps normalize atheism. There are private groups for atheism if you need that.

Q. Someone broke the group rules, what can I do?

A. Please use the “report comment to admin” feature, and don’t stoop to a lower level.

How to report comment to admin:

Q. Why didn’t you remove this theist?

A. Please remember to report any comment to admins that you think are from a theist. We work hard to ensure that this is an atheist only group, but we're also aware that there are some atheists that make arguments in line with something you would expect a theist to say. In some cases, we’re just not sure yet, watching, and waiting…

Q. Why was my comment removed?

A. You could’ve been rude, uncivil, trollish, attacked someone personally, or said something that would draw the attention of facebook’s poorly-trained AI censor bot. Behind the scenes, FB pushes admins and mods to be more proactive and they threaten group removal if a group comment/post breaks their rules. If FB is aware that we were given an opportunity to remove a comment/post that their poorly trained bot would remove, but we fail to do so, it can put the group at risk of removal. This means that sometimes we have to remove a comment that FB might incorrectly censor just to ensure that the group has no violations. It stinks, we're sorry, please don't take it out on us. You might've also impersonated a theist which can rile up our members and give the impression that we allow theists in the group. We ask for users to never impersonate a position that they don't hold for sake of humor/sarcasm or any other reason. Removing that type of comment saves moderators and members time by not forcing us to engage with something you don't hold to be true, it also ensures we don't give members the impression that we have theists in the group.

Q. Why was my post removed?

A. If your post was approved and then later removed, we would have sent you feedback explaining the reason. Posts are typically removed if they fail to gain traction with the community. We are well-versed in the Facebook algorithm, which evaluates the strength of all posts in a group to determine how widely the group's content is distributed. To ensure that the algorithm continues to prioritize our group's content, we remove posts that have not received engagement within the first 100 views. Facebook uses this initial 100 view threshold to decide whether a post should be promoted further. Therefore, if a post doesn't generate meaningful engagement within its first 100 views, it is most assuredly not going to do so later. To increase the chances of your post succeeding, please follow our submission guidelines, which emphasize original content and an engaging question for the audience.

Q. Can I have an explanation for why you removed my comment, declined my post, or took any other moderator action?

A. We aim to provide feedback via Facebook's tools for every action we take; please look for that. While we understand that every moderation decision can be discussed at length and conveyed to our members, and doing so would improve rule clarity, we've encountered several issues in doing so. First, members often seek answers from us as a means to debate the issue, using modmins as their new adversary. In most cases, moderators aren't interested in utilizing our time to engage in a debate; we simply don't have enough time. Our time is dedicated to applying our rules of civility fairly to all. The actual scope of the discussion isn't as important as how it was discussed. We've laid out an in-depth FAQ to help cover most situations, so please search through it and read closely to understand what rules, conditions, and scenarios we might be applying to your situation.

Our moderation team comprises intelligent, rational, level-headed, and successful individuals who place a high value on their time. We dedicate considerable time to this community to provide Atheism United as an incredible one-of-a-kind resource to the atheist community. For over 10 years, moderators responded individually to people who broke our group rules when they asked for an explanation. In most of those cases, the rules were available to the member. Due to the size of Atheism United now, and our hopes to make the job of moderation more efficient, when we are asked to provide a one-off explanation, we will simply guide you to our FAQs. If, after reading these, you still feel the need for an individual answer, you can do the following: send a $10 "tip" for our time, then visit this profile and send a message stating exactly what happened from your perspective. One of our lead admins will research what happened and get back to you with an answer within approximately 24 hours.

Q. Why did you tag @everyone? I don't want to be tagged, please don't tag me.

A. We tag people to encourage our group discussions. This is a group of atheists interested in communicating with other atheists. It's a very unique place with a whole crew of people dedicating time to unite atheists and curate a group of nothing but atheists. If you don't want to participate, you can leave the group. If you just don't want to be notified, you can change what you are notified of here.

Unfortunately we're unable to remove specific individuals from our tag function and since so many users enjoy being alerted to our discussions, we will continue to use the function. If Facebook provided us with the ability to parse out the few people that don't want to be tagged from the 59,000, we would do it. Unfortunately that isn't a function on our end, but you can control your notifications by not being notified of @everyone tags.

Q. Why are there so many guidelines on starter posts?

We want to ensure posts in the group get seen by the largest audience possible.

The Facebook algorithm determines if a post should spread based on engagement (reactions/comments) in the first 100 views. Posts need early engagement, or else less than 100 people will see them. We want your posts to reach 10,000+ people, not just 100. We've learned what garners engagement and focus on approving only those posts, it has led to the posts in our group having the largest reach of any atheist group on Facebook.

We suggest including a bold question upfront. Leading with a question encourages more users to engage immediately. We also recommend including a related meme. Even if the content isn't fully read, memes get shared. This signals value to the algorithm.

We also curate posts to keep our group's overall content strong. One poorly performing post can reduce the reach of other posts by lowering our group's overall value.

By following the guidelines, you ensure your post gets maximum reach. This spreads atheist perspectives further and keeps our group's content visible. We've learned that these tactics work within the realities of algorithms and human behavior. We aim to grow the atheist community, which means playing the social media game strategically.

If you're interested in understanding the Facebook Algorithm and our submission guidelines further this is why Atheism United on Facebook has starter post submission guidelines

Q. Why would I give you $10 to get an explanation of your moderation? It's your group; come on!

A. In reality, the $10 tip idea is primarily a deterrent to individual requests like this. Modmins' time is valuable, and we already dedicate considerable amounts of it to simply maintaining our atheist-only community for the benefit of atheists. We'd prefer you to read this documentation instead of asking us to explain it. Hopefully, you'll take the time to peruse our detailed FAQ rather than sending us $10, we'll likely utilize more than $10 of our time if we have to engage with you individually. We've done so many times, and can no longer afford to do so. While reading our FAQs, you may need to read between the lines and intelligently estimate how we applied our standards in your situation. We hope that's all you'll need. We don't actually expect to receive $10 for our time; we're using this idea primarily to discourage the unnecessary use of our time. Our modmins would like to address all issues properly, and we believe this documentation handles it. We've noticed that users often want to argue with us over decisions, which is not a productive use of our time. In fact, if you'd like to dispute a decision, please send a $25 tip here and send a note to this profile explaining your argument, and our admins will explain it further.

The aim and purpose of our group are to unite atheists globally. To achieve this, it's crucial that members treat each other with kindness and civility, as this documentation makes quite clear. We invest a significant amount of time ensuring that our community consists of atheists from around the world with varying beliefs, ideas, and backgrounds who are willing to discuss their views on the world in a courteous and respectful manner. Modmins are not here to debate how we do this, although occasionally we may engage the community in public discussions about our moderation and seek input from the community. Please respect our time in the same way we're asking you to be kind to everyone in the group, including atheists with different perspectives.

Q. I was just suspended for 28 days! Isn't that a little harsh for what I did?

A. We employ 28 day suspensions for several reasons, but the first that you should be aware of is that it's a way to keep you in the group in lieu of a permanent ban. It's worth noting that any violation of our rules directed towards a modmin has a mandatory penalty of a 28 day suspension or ban from the group. We dedicate large portions of our lives to what you see as a beautiful end result, and we are not here to take your hostilities. Please know that we work very hard at maintaining our calm, kindness, and fairness to all participants in the group including those who we disagree with. If you have a constructive and kind way to comment on our actions, please send us a note privately or discuss it in any thread where we've asked for the group to weigh in on our moderation ideas. If you require a response to a constructive critique please let us know that you sent a $10 "tip" for our time, otherwise thank you for your thoughts, we will process them along with all of the other inputs we process in our deliberations as a team.

Q. Can you explain a little bit more about modmins and how this all works?

A. Being a modmin in a large Facebook group like Atheism United is a challenging but rewarding task. Our primary goals are twofold: ensuring that the group remains exclusively for atheists and fostering respectful communication among our diverse atheist members.

Our group is quite substantial, with a potential reach in the millions or even billions due to Facebook's vast audience. Managing such a community is no small feat, and our team of modmins handles a constant stream of comments, member requests, personal conflicts, and attempts by theists to join the group. We do all of this work on a volunteer basis while juggling our personal lives and careers.

There are days when we must remove multiple theists or handle group discussions that result in many disrespectful comments being removed from atheist members. In many cases, these disgruntled individuals send us rude, aggressive, or disrespectful private messages. While we deal with these challenges behind the scenes, you get to enjoy the benefits of a civil and respectful community.

You might be thinking that you occasionally see mean-spirited individuals in the group. It's likely that those individuals are kinder than those whom we've removed without your knowledge. We work hard to maintain an open and inclusive group, but we also recognize that not everyone will follow our civility guidelines. Removing members is never a pleasant task for us. It's worth noting that if our team had unlimited time and resources, we would take more time explaining situations. However, due to the volume of cases we handle, we sometimes need to take a swift approach to reach a resolution. For instance, when someone violates the rules and we post the rules for them to read, and they respond with something like, "I'm not reading that wall of text," we may choose to ban them and remove their comment. If we were a dedicated customer service department, we might engage in more extended discussions. However, our experience has shown us that further engagement with certain personality types is often unproductive.

Behind the scenes, we have a group chat where we discuss cases and aim for consistency in our moderation efforts. Our goal is to create a space where you can discuss various topics with atheists from around the world and receive diverse and, at the very least, respectful responses. We are dedicated to maintaining civility while balancing our personal lives, and we hope this explanation helps you better understand our role in this vibrant community. If you appreciate all of this effort please consider sending us a tip of $10,$25,or $50.

Q. Do you have any final tips on this group?

A. Please remember that the only thing that we know that all atheists have in common is a lack of belief in a god. This group was created to help bridge divides in the atheist community, but also to help us all learn from each other. Our foundational purpose was simply to promote the most conclusive list of atheist sites on the internet.

It’s been an awesome journey, and there's so much to learn about the lives of other atheists. Please enjoy the group, focus on your exchanges with other atheists, learn from them, teach them, admit when you're wrong, let your guard down a little. Please don’t troll or attack the group, its purpose, or moderation decisions. If you don’t like it, please find a different group.