Having spent some time yesterday and today thinking it over, and discussing it with my fellow Atlas F1 peers, I believe we have reached the most realistic and interesting solution on how to implemet this idea and make it a viable one for all to take part in.
Before I actually lay forth the Atlas F1 Court rules and how it will function, I'd like to say a general word about this:
The reason I like this idea, and the reason I believe why others have agreed to become involved in it, is because it serves in its most pure form the need to investigate and understand various issues relating to motor racing, Formula One primarily, and bring them to some sort of closure.
This by no means says that any issue brought forth will eventually end with all sides agreeing - that will never happen. But it will satisfy an inherent curiosity to settle matters that cannot be settled in an "open for all" envirnoment. And, what's important, it will allow all sides to bring forth their arguments in an intelligent, well researched and in depth manner. If done right, each "case" will eventually serve as a vastly important - and interesting - source of information on the tried issue.
So how do we aim to achieve this very noble goal?
[*] We have opened a new forum on the Bulletin Board - The Atlas F1 Court. Its description on the BB's front page reads:
This forum - the court - is not an ordinary discussion forum. In fact, no one can freely post new threads or add new replies to it.
"The place to settle new and long-standing racing issues and arguments. Watch the Atlas F1 'legal' system at work, as BB members present their cases to our panel of judges.
[*] The court has a panel of four judges (names later in this post). Each judge will reside on a case, and in some cases - 2,3 or 4 judges will reside, should the case be of pivotal importance or of large magnitude.
[*] Anyone can submit a case to the court. One simply sends his case to firstname.lastname@example.org. The submission must include a very general and NOT lengthy explanation of what the plaint is.
The panel of judges will review the case submitted. If the case is found suitable, it will be accepted for a hearing and a judge, an opening date, and length of hearing will be set.
If the case is found unsuitable, an e-mail will be sent to the one who submitted it with an explanation of why it was rejected (example: a case againt a BB poster will NOT be accepted).
[*] When a case is accepted, the judge of the case will then open a new thread - the first post being the announcement on the new case brought in front of the court, and details of the timeframe for all sides to present arguments. Here's an example:
[*] Thereafter, the plaintiff, those who support his claim and those who oppose it, will be able to post arguments and evidence. Their posts, however, will be pre-moderated and only those posts that are relevant to the case will be added to the thread. Furthermore, irrelevant content will be edited (and that includes addressing others personally). The only content to make its way into the case's thread will be directly relevant to the case at hand.
Case #1: Should Michael Schumacher be stripped off his 1994 WC
BuzzingHornet has brought to the Atlas F1 court his plaint that Michael Schumacher should be stripped off his 1994 World Championship, due to illegal machinery and unsporting behaviour in the final round of the year.
This case has been accepted for hearing by the court, and arguments will now be heard by all parties interested.
Arguments can be posted for the next 14 days before the judges will reside for final decision.
Verdict will be posted up to 7 days after hearing is closed.
[*] The judge is also an investigative magistrate, and therefore can - and will - ask questions and request clarifications from the posters who bring forth arguments and evidence. If someone posts an argument that the judge feels needs to be questioned, then by all means he should.
[*] At the closing time allotted for the case (e.g. 14 days), the thread will be locked for the period taking the judge(s) to reach his verdict and write a thorough account of how he reached this decision. In the case of more than one judge, there could be one judgement signed by all three, or there could be one main judgement and reservation or addition by the others. The locked thread will be opened to add the decisions of the judges, and the case - and thread - will be closed.
[*] To avoid a situation where too many cases are going on at once, there will only be several cases at a time, depending on how much is going on. Other cases that were accepted by the court will be pending until a prior case has ended.
[*] Throughout the period of a case hearing, people can talk about the case all they want in Readers Comments. However, the judges will take into account only those arguments and evidence brought forth in the "Atlas F1 Court" itself.
As you realize, the tempo of the Atlas F1 Court will be a slow one. It is by no means a fast-updated forum, nor will it become a near-realtime discussion forum. And, new posts added will await in the moderation queue to be added by the judges, which means you must allow time (and sometimes up to 3 hours) for a pending post to be added.
And now - The Judges!
OK, a quick word first: there is no such thing as a judge without an opinion. The important part of being a judge - and a good one - is to be a responsible, reasonable and respected person. And while I do believe that I've selected four people who fit this description to a T, I will add that their decisions on the cases you present will be the ultimate test. You will trust them only after you will see them pass judgement. And, you may not always agree with them, but I have a distinct feeling that you will all nonetheless respect their efforts and reaching a decision, and will see for yourself that they have done so in an impartial and unbiased way. Personal flavour and personal acquaintances with the posters will be put aside.
The four people I've selected are:
Rich, Billy, Marcel Schot, and Rainstorm.
They have close ties with Atlas F1, and they have acquired the respect and trust of the members of this BB. They will, I have no doubt, impress you with their work at the Atlas F1 Court as well.
A final, personal word from me, if I may: the Atlas F1 Court will succeed or fail based on the participants' willingness to invest time, thought and efforts in putting forth articulate and in-depth arguments and facts. Everything you think can contribute to the understanding of a case is welcome - quotes, statistics, images, explanations. And, everyone can argue for or against a case. Everyone!
The end result will be that each case should have a thread which is always 100% on-topic, which includes a lot of in-depth information on the topic, both for and against, and which includes no personal references, chit-chat or some such. Those are left for the other forums, and for the chatroom. The courtroom is solely for examining motor racing cases, one at a time.
The Atlas F1 Court is now officially in session - I hope we all learn from it, and I hope we all have fun!