I think these new guidelines, especially after a little "break-in period," bode well for the future of this site. I applaud EpicSki's management in taking a stand for good, open discussion and debate, and against the pointless and misleading ramblings of those with "other" agendas. I have long wondered--and expressed this to the moderating team--why, even in the interest of "open discussion," EpicSki had allowed itself to be used and abused by its competition. The EpicSki Academy has evolved into a highly respected and successful ski-improvement program, and EpicSki should feel no obligation whatsoever to "advertise" for other such programs unwillingly, or for free.
Those who complain about the moderating policies, now or in the past, fail to understand a couple things. First, we are all visitors here, unless we have invested in an ownership stake. It's "their" house, and none of us has any rights at all, whatsoever, except those they choose to grant us. Like a magazine, a clear, strong editorial policy is necessary to give this place an identity. If you like the magazine, or if you think it provides value to you, buy it. If not, buy one you do like, or start your own! Or go sulk about it in private. Just don't complain here!
And second, the intent of the policies is clearly to promote quality discussion, healthy debate, and learning, which is something many people apparently neither recognize nor appreciate. Those who confuse having an opinion with thinking, being argumentative with arguing, dogmatic beliefs with understanding, or who mistake attacking a person for attacking an idea, will never appreciate why the moderators must apply these new policies. But those people serve no purpose in a true debate, either--something else they'll never understand. Those who become terribly uncomfortable when their belief systems are challenged should stay away from most discussions that seek to explore "truth," frequently by questioning the status quo and challenging conventional "wisdom." Facts are often the undoing of dogma. Watch out!
For those who are willing and up to the challenge, though, I think that EpicSki can become once again the hotbed of ideas and learning and exploration that it once was. Encouraging respectful disagreement does not preclude banishing those who are disagreeable. In my opinion, if you have a belief and you want to contribute, you should defend it to the best of your ability--with solid evidence, sound premises, and valid reasoning. If you disagree with something, and you want to contribute positively to the discussion and respect and honor the person you disagree with, you owe it to him or her to state your antithesis and defend it as well as you can, or to point out the fallacies or factual errors in the original idea. That's very different from saying "you're wrong," or "you're stupid," or from the strawman or ad hominem or any number of other fallacies that many people seem to think constitute "arguing."
If we would all do our best to defend and explain our points and our disagreements, these discussions could really go somewhere. But we must also recognize that the point--the real prize--is not to prove ourselves right, but to edge closer to the "truth." We must be thrilled, not shattered, when our belief systems crumble, when someone points out errors in our thinking or chinks in our armor. Uncomfortable though it may be, such conflict is the source and energy for growth.
Si, I hope you'll stay around. But if you choose not to, well, that's your choice. I don't think anyone harbors illusions that this place can be, or should try to be, "everything for all people." But I'm certain that, as it strengthens its identity, it will become a lot for a lot more!