A Message to Our Members About Politics

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio News' started by AA7BQ, Apr 5, 2021.

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  1. AA7BQ

    AA7BQ QRZ Founder Administrator Volunteer Moderator QRZ Page

    As QRZ approaches its 28th anniversary we're pleased to report that our organization is doing better than ever and that we continue to grow and expand our offerings in this ever-evolving high-tech world. A lot has changed in 28 years, both for ham radio and the planet, and frankly, we're living in a different world than existed back in 1993.

    QRZ's membership has grown substantially over the years and we're now the number one single amateur radio website in overall traffic. We host amateurs from all over the world and are proud to recognize that at least half of our active members are from outside the United States.

    While we're not a multilingual site, we do serve hams who speak many different languages and come from a diverse cultural swath across the world. We use translation services every day to make sure that we're able to assist our members no matter what their situation. We've rarely found an instance where we can't communicate with another ham, regardless of language.

    Within our ranks of some 800,000 registered users, however, nearly half of them are Americans from the good old USA. One thing that will set the USA callsigns apart from the other listings is how freely many of us are willing to espouse our personal political beliefs in public. At least that's what you might think when you see signatures and avatars that espouse gun rights, religion, party politics, social causes, or cultural identities. It's funny (not laughable, however) that you typically ONLY see such material associated with USA call signs. What does the rest of the world know that we don't? As Americans we’re generally free to speak our minds in public but on a global stage like QRZ, we can be seen as impolite at best or arrogant at worst.

    No politics on QRZ

    Today I am announcing that from this day forward, QRZ will be a non-political place. We will no longer entertain any mention of politics, political parties, politicians, social causes, or virtue signaling. This means everything written in the Forums including personal signatures and avatars. In short, nothing is allowed in the forums that presents a political viewpoint or affiliation of any kind.

    Why the change?

    Stated simply, the purpose of QRZ is to bring people together in the pursuit of common interests. Political speech does just the opposite: it divides people into identity groups. No matter what the viewpoint, a contrary one is held by someone else and there is no likely resolution between the two. Therefore, there is nothing left to do but fight and bicker.

    The vast majority of political topics aren't related to radio in any way, and they do not further the pursuit of this hobby. Political speech on QRZ alienates members from each other and it scares away would-be members not only from QRZ but from the hobby in general. No young person would ever consider joining an online group of grumpy old men, and I can't blame them. So, therefore, I'm announcing today that grumpy old men are on notice to keep your opinions to yourselves. If you find politics interesting or compelling, then please, by all means, seek it out and participate, on a site that is built for that. Not on QRZ.

    How we will implement the No-Politics policy at QRZ

    - The existing Just Talk political forum will be disbanded.

    - The Avatar choices will be limited. The purpose of an avatar is to give a visual cue regarding the poster's identity. A visual cue could be a star, a transistor, an antenna, or a kitten. A confederate flag is also a visual cue, but it clearly contains an underlying message and under our new policy such avatars will not be permitted. Improper avatars will be removed by administrators. We will not provide an appeal process for our decision.

    - We will discontinue support for Forum signatures, except for moderators, staff, and Life Members. A signature is a little one-liner that goes at the bottom of every post you make. Some folks use them to say "73" while others feel the need to spread their political or life philosophy in the space. Since signatures are a shortcut convenience, we feel that if people really want them they can type them in by hand each time. If it's political, however, it will be moderated.

    - Our moderators will remove content that is political. It isn't a left vs. right thing, it's a politics vs no politics thing. Our moderators won't for example, let one political view stand while sanctioning the others. We're going to sanction them all. Don't confuse this with free speech either. Free speech exists in this instance, but not in the way that you might think.

    - Tattling is unwanted. Some of our members will read these rules and then appoint themselves as unofficial monitors and start reporting every infraction that they perceive. Don't do that. Leave that work to someone else, someone who works at QRZ.

    And then there are exceptions...

    Members may write about their personal political thoughts on their call sign pages. We don't recommend it, but it's your choice. We're not going to monitor call sign pages for content because each ham is responsible for his own words. None of the above, however, gives license to attack other people, cultures, or groups. We will not let anyone use QRZ to demean or denigrate others.

    The Forums are a public place, where members are welcome and encouraged to chime in. Politeness and civility are expected in public places. Call sign pages are single voice soapboxes and we support the basic right of people to self-identify. Do note that your Primary Photo has special status. The primary photo is the one at the top of your listing, and the one which might appear on the QRZ front page. This image must be non-political. You may place your political images within the body of your biography page.

    In the Forums, a discussion concerning the FCC and how our hobby is regulated is not considered political unless within the discussion a political party or particular presidential administration is called out. Then it's a purely political discussion that we will not allow. In general, you can protect yourself by arguing with the policy, and not about its creator.

    And finally...

    We hope that this new non-politics policy will make QRZ a happier, more inclusive place. Remember, we're here to enjoy amateur radio. Everything else is secondary and everything else is available on other websites. In order to be the very best at what we do, we must stay focused on the hobby above all else.

    73 -fred
     

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    AE2EA, BG8KVC, PD3JH and 656 others like this.
  2. AA7BQ

    AA7BQ QRZ Founder Administrator Volunteer Moderator QRZ Page

    This week QRZ broke its own rules by allowing discussion about the war in Ukraine. We did this because our hearts could not bear to stand by in the face of widespread deadly aggression and do nothing. If all we could do was to point out and identify evil, we felt that the cause justified itself, and so we relaxed the rules in this instance.

    It didn't turn out well. Many people simply did not share our view that the current situation was dire enough to warrant letting people talk about and/or argue about it. Quite simply, for many of our members, the situation in Ukraine just isn't bad enough to warrant opening up a discussion that was against the Amateur's Creed. For those who were interested in the discussion, it took off like wildfire and was about as useful as one. There was a lot of timely and interesting information from the front, but even the reporters on the ground were being attacked here at QRZ. It was shameful.

    The net result is that I was beaten badly. Not physically, but virtually. I was excoriated by those who refused to accept that the sanctity of Amateur radio could be broken, even for a humanitarian cause. Now the discussion is closed. It's closed because the readership ultimately would not allow it.

    Some will say that we caved to commercial concerns. Not true, except that QRZ does provide for the families of its employees. We don't have any advertisers who influence our editorial decisions and don't anticipate that ever changing. QRZ is an independent, privately-owned company that has no debt and answers to nobody but itself and its users - and that's you.

    So, regarding the Ukraine war, we can't talk about it at all. Nothing. You're going to have to go to Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, wherever they allow people to insult each other with impunity, provided your assault is against one of their approved targets. Frankly, QRZ isn't very good at the Social Media game. The aforementioned giants do a more comprehensive job and it's likely that their rules are more exacting than ours.

    So to summarize, the No-Politics Creed of QRZ remains in full force, despite this setback. We're sorry that a temporary stay against the rule ended so badly. We're not likely to try it again, if ever.

    73 -fred
     
    PD0ETR, KF7OVL, DL7ACA and 58 others like this.
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