Interview with Morgan Mathew of Think Atheist

My post Atheist showdown… netted a number of comments and visits to the blog, as suggested in the comments I sent Morgan Mathew, the impetus behind Think Atheist some questions which he has kindly answered below.

Morgan can you give us a rundown on your road to Atheism(were you always an atheist)?

I was always an atheist, I just did not know it. My parents tried to get me baptized as a baby and found out quickly that the church wanted all kinds of money to get a splash of water on my head. Growing up as a young tyke my parents were agnostic. Which means I never grew up with any religion at all. I did the all the holidays and never knew the true meaning behind them. Never knew anything about it.

Then I moved to Texas and everything changed. Some of the first words that come out of my new friends mouths were, “WANNA GO TO MY CHURCH!?” x3 or 4 times. This gave rise to my interest into diving into what all the halabalu was about, and wow was I in for a shock! One thing my dad taught me growing up as a kid was common sense. One look at religion and most of its books… all I could say is, “wow these are all mediocre stories at best.”

What inpired you to create a social networking site for Atheists?

As I dove deeper into the atheist world, I came to the conclusion quickly that all these sites more or less sucked. Sure they had great content on them, but then what? It was like every site was running around with it’s head chopped off. From a design standpoint and connection between other people was very dull. Or web 1.0 shall we say. Who wants to use VB or phpbb forums to really communicate. Not me and not my future members! As we all know getting atheists to do anything together is like herding cats.

Are you aware of other Atheist sites like Atheist Nexus?

Yes, I am quite aware of Atheist Nexus. They have a huge member base which is great!

If so, how do you see Think Atheist is different to this or other sites?

1st off to be clear everything I say is constructive criticism. Think Atheist is quite different in many aspects. Upon landing on Atheist Nexus it is rather dull and boring. From a design perspective it almost looks like another web 1.0 site. With random web widgets just laying around. There is nothing wrong with minimalistic design. But, in today’s world as a designer people like color, and I feel really appreciate a well put together/designed site.

Also Think Atheist is a bit more efficient navigating around the site with better tab drop downs to quickly access certain hot spots with ease. Also Atheist Nexus has had broken links since I can remember. Click on the “media” tab it goes no where. You cant have a site like that and have stuff broken like that still around. To me just shows laziness.

Also Atheist Nexus have no music. Sure this sounds like a nit pick thing but when you really think about it music is what brings people together. People are sharing music with ease over at Think Atheist.

Do you think competition in such a niche area is good for Atheism online?

Yes, very much so! The way to successfully win at almost anything in this world is to do what the other guy is not willing to do. Think Atheist has two clothing stores and one amazon store. 1600×1200 Wallpaper/Dual Screen Wallpapers, Music with easy sharing abilities. Easier access to hot spots like I said with in the site. A quick run down on Atheist Nexus just seems like there is not much to do. As in it is not very inviting. Think Atheist is only going to get stronger because of these small but important differences.

What plans have you got for the future of Think Atheist?


Right now my plan for think atheist is to blow it out of the water with this whole unfortunate misconception about atheism. Upon landing on Think Atheist one of the first things I want people to see the all the members that are apart of the community then the simple message that simply says in short, “Guess what? It’s Okay to Look” A simple but strong message that I have been told numerous times has hit home with a lot of people/members.

Are you looking for help in building think Atheist?

Yes, check out http://www.thinkatheist.com/group/thinkatheistvolunteers

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Yes Think Atheist is running a contest called Atheist cake design Contest! NO actual cake required. *PRIZES* Located at http://www.thinkatheist.com/group/atheistcake/forum/topics/click-here-1statheist-cake

Also, if you have a iphone check out the mobile version of Think Atheist located at www.thinkatheist.com/m

I enjoyed this interview Sean.

Thanks!

I would like to thank Morgan for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer these questions. So now on to you my readers, Morgan has raised some interesting points. What do you think?

Cross posted on Sean the Blogonaut

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Comment by Sean the Blogonaut on January 5, 2009 at 9:11am
Dang it, You were my next post lol.

On the similaritiy of communities I think it may be the fact that the communities are madeup of humans :). In terms of protecting the communit though, its something that comes naturally to us. We help build somthing, we become something and we want to ensure its survival. I think that is symptomatic of a strong community. Sure the community needs to find a balance, maintain a certain degree of openess.

Like you say Atheist Nexu' size makes it difficult to move quickly, but there are trade offs with membership size

Appreciate what you do mate. Thanks for dropping by. I like the idea of merchandise :)
Comment by The Nexus Group on January 5, 2009 at 9:01am
Great interview Sean. I enjoyed your previous one as well. I normally don't comment in the blogosphere much anymore due to my affiliation with Atheist Nexus (which is pretty difficult for a blowhard like me).

As I crawl deeper into the crevasses of the atheist "community," I grow more and more frustrated (and embarrassed) at how similar it is to the religious community. Everyone is so concerned with guarding their members from the proselytizing interlopers. The saying, rising tides raises all ships, is all but ignored.

As I stated in the last newsletter, A|N should never attempt to reinvent the wheel. We should not "compete" with AA, AAI, AHA, CFI, FFRF, SSA, or any other atheist organization. I would like to see A|N become a support system. This will be my primary focus while attending The American Humanist Association's leadership meeting in DC this week. So I have no problem with Think Atheist or any other site. A few others have already come and gone, but the sea is big enough for all of us. While we might be able to accomplish more if we join forces, I simply hope we can sail in peace. (Okay, I’ll quit with the nautical references).

As many can tell you, I am more than a little frustrated with the slowness of improvement to the A|N site. In the beginning we tried to implement many changes, but ran into several problems. Many of these were due to being on Ning, and others were due to our broad reaching membership. It is quite easy to maintain a site with a couple hundred members, but when you get into thousands from all over the globe, and all these people define atheism differently, you can’t rearrange a page without inviting mutiny (I swear that’s the last one).

I can assure you, that the groundwork is being laid for vast improvements to A|N. Quite a few non-Ning pages are being developed that should seamlessly work with the ones we have now. Also, we are developing relationships with merchandise manufacturers and should have some shirts with our new logo soon.

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