Rules/Rants About Blogs

The "rules" bit:

1. If you don't have time to read or address reader comments, consider that you might not have time to blog.

2. If you have a strict disclaimer or instructions for commenters (what behavior or content won't be tolerated), but don't have time to enforce these policies, then really don't bother blogging.

Theologica and Boundless Line are two prime examples of what happens when you don't consistently respond to out-of-line or heretical comments, and in the case of Boundless, what happens when you don't enforce your comments guidelines. The moderators end up suborning heresy, the comments sections spiral out of control, and the constructive discussion gets choked out by confusing, contradictory comments by believers, unbelievers, and pseudo-believers.

So, do you 1. address and refute out-of-line or heretical comments, 2. delete them, or 3. let them slide?

#3 is irresponsible and foolish, and either 1 or 2 works. I lean towards deleting (although a blog that's turned into a public forum would want to be crystal clear about the standards for deletion). Heretics who find themselves being blocked will keep moving until they find somewhere else to comment.

And really, have you ever heard a new believer say, "You know, I was an atheist until I started commenting on this blog..."?


Cabernet Leather said...

Yeah, some good "rules" there. I think with blogging, you have to give all or nothing - there's little point in having a blog if you write a quick post every blue moon and then never check for comments. It also seems weird to write a blog if you don't even read other people's blogs.

Jacob said...

Last spring, I posted part of a paper I wrote on Intelligent Design and attracted a few trolls, plus a few people mature enough to civilly disagree. The whole experience caused me to rethink my comment "policy." I like to err on the side of grace and give people the benefit of the doubt, but there are clearly times when it might not be all that wise to do so.

One could go on about Boundless comment threads ad infinitum(or perhaps, ad nauseam). I find it interesting whenever Boundless withholds a comment and everyone screams "censorship!" as if their rights had just been taken away. There is no such thing as a right to be heard. What I find interesting is that the one time I left a comment on a Boundless thread that was not published, it wasn't for heresy, slander, incivility, etc.

Laura said...

Pryderi, I agree. People who blog in isolation are kind of missing the point of blogs. They may as well shout out their windows instead of wasting space on the internet!

Jacob, isn't it infuriating, in a gamboling puppy kind of way? I mean, God bless 'em, but I have seriously contemplated actually CALLING Focus and asking to speak to one of the Line bloggers.

Laura said...

Oh... and I meant to say something about Challies, too. He does a great job of commenting back and keeping things in line, and isn't afraid to shut comments sections down when, say, Steve Camp drops by to say hateful things about Driscoll (just as a for instance...). So Challies would be an example of someone who manages his comments sections well.

Jess said...

Ack. I think I might fall into your category of having rules but not always enforcing them. I do, most of the time... but when it helps discussion, I'll let an anonymous comment slide, or if I think it might be a first-time commenter, I don't want to hurt their feelings, etc.

Yikes. Maybe I'm an offender?

Laura said...

Girl, no WAY. You are actually a great example of how to enforce rules with grace. As I've read your blog, I totally see that the places where you've let stuff slide have been for the benefit of the readers. Whereas the "offending" blogs I have in mind let stuff slide even when it doesn't benefit the readers to do so -- they're just being lazy.

Thanks for the comment! :)