This is a reprint of a post I made in May 2009 to explain why the ATM rules are in the form they are today. The bolded emphasis is new.

A Very Brief History of the ATM Forum

I'm going to relate a very brief history of the ATM forum from its BABB origins to the present time:

In the beginning, at least on the old BABB forum, ATM was unrestricted. And there was a fair bit of abuse as a number of ATMers were hijacking threads with their notions. It got bad enough that the BA added an ATM forum with a "shoot-on-sight" rule for ATMs found outside.

It didn't stop some ATMers from sneaking their ideas everywhere they could get to, but the BA kept banning the worst offenders until the problem was muted.

Then BABB and UT merged, and the ATM forum was recreated.

There was a solid year where most of the ATM-related bannings I've seen were ATMers sneaking ATM outside of the ATM forum.

During this time, Fraser is on record several times as being adamant that BAUT would not permit the ATM forum to be used as an ATM development blog or a promotional agency. There was to be no organized collaboration, and BAUT's primary focus was mainstream astronomy.

So any suggestion that BAUT is primarily (or even secondarily) for ATM is very much in error.

Fraser's stated intention was clear in that the ATM forum was to be modeled somewhat like a (practice) peer-review defense, except fully within the decorum rules of BAUT, and without formal referees (so we're necessarily not equivalent to peer-review by any stretch.)

There were other abuses, where certain ATMers would refuse to defend their ideas. It was causing a great deal of frustration among everybody concerned and was very time consuming for the mods. That pattern of abuse forced a more current form of Rule 13 into place, requiring ATMers to defend their ideas in exchange for visibility.

But there were other abuses, where certain ATMers would keep bumping their threads with contentless posts to keep their ATM threads at the top of the thread list. This caused the 30-day limit to come into effect.

Yet another concern is the amount of effort and time required to moderate ATM. I think my fellow mods would concur that by far, the ATM forum requires the most effort and collaboration to moderate, causes the most stress (such as it is), and provides the least amount of enjoyment to the moderation team (in general).

My point is this: the current ATM rules are the result of a long history of abuses by a number of ATMers too depressing to contemplate for long, and the necessity of reducing the amount of time we need to spend monitoring it.

It's safe to suggest that any proposal to modify ATM rules that does not effectively (and self-evidently) address that long history of abuses is very likely to be rejected out of hand. I also feel very safe in suggesting that it's probably not worth the time of proposing anything that would require additional effort on the part of the mods. I'd further recommend that any such proposal work entirely within the parameters already set out by the site owners.