Thursday, 13 August 2015

Comments policy

The existing comments policy on this blog reads thusly:
This is intended as an apologetics-free zone.  A sense of humour definitely helps. Comments here are moderated.
It's not much of a policy, but perhaps it's better not to be too pedantic.

And yet I keep feeling uncomfortable when people who guard their own identity closely launch out on less than charitable terms regarding others, many of whom are willing to disclose their identity.

Of course it gets complicated. Some people post anonymously, but many of us know who they are anyway.

A clarification. Blogspot's idea of moderation is to either allow a comment to be posted in its entirety, or rejected in its entirety. I don't know the number of times I've though "that really needs editing!" but, alas, the option just isn't there. A reasonable paragraph followed by a petulant outburst... what to do?

Should it be open slather?

My idea of an acceptable comment is something you could say to someone's face over a cup of coffee, and still be on good terms.

I'd appreciate your feedback.


  1. I think you've been very fair. A week or so ago I posted a comment and then thought "I'm not really proud of that". I wanted to take it back but I didn't know how. Thankfully, you didn't post it.

    It's got to be difficult deciding where to "draw the line". It seems to me that, if in doubt, you let the comment through. I think that's fair.

  2. I agree. you have been very fair. But, I think you should post all of the comments.

  3. One of the reasons I hang around this blog is because it is moderated. Other blogs that I have looked at, either with no moderation or apparently limited moderation, end up being forums for tiresome, and usually juvenile, black humor. I think the level of debate is much higher here because of moderation.

    I believe the use of monikers is justifiable. There are many good reasons to conceal identity. In the last analysis, this seems acceptable because it does not alter the quality of debate. If someone chooses to use their real name, it does not place them on kind of "higher ground." Their reasoning and arguments will be the same. (Dixon Cartwright asked me why I concealed my identity. I think he thought I was probably somebody he knows currently in the Big Sandy area. But, had he been given my name, he would not recognize me. The fact that he would not recognize me has to do with the Big Sandy caste system. I worked in the same building, called "The Press", with him and John Robinson for months back in the early Seventies. But people of the upper castes did not fraternize with people of the servant caste to which I belonged. The servant caste had that Third World invisibility that George Orwell writes of in his essay entitled "Shooting an Elephant". In that context, John Robinson or Dixon Cartwright never said a word to me or acknowledged my presence. The fruits of Armstrongism.)

    I disagree with Skeptic on one point. If in doubt, I would NOT let the comment through. I retracted a comment that I made recently because I realized that it permitted dual interpretation. One personal and the other general and philosophical. I had intended the latter. If a moderator had rejected this dubious comment, I would not have minded at all. But this level of moderation requires work on the part of Otagosh and how much time can we expect him to devote to this extra-curricular activity?

    Lastly, how is apologetics defined? If a Christian debates an Atheist, both are going to engage in apologia for their respective views. This rule seems to proscribe debate.

    -- Neotherm

  4. I agree with Gavin. Personal attacks, character assassination and crude language would not be permitted in a high school debate class. If you can't make your case without resorting to those kinds of devices, you probably don't have anything to offer that is worthy of serious consideration by your peers.

  5. The policy state thus: "This is intended as an apologetics-free zone."

    Is it only "intended," or are you sometimes willing to accept apologetics' comments?

    Personally, I agree with Larry, and would even go further to say, that comments should not be moderated, unless they are abusive or breaking the law.

    Of course, freedom of speech carries with it respensibilities, for words are not cheap, as some people believe. For the words of King Solomon are these: "Life and death are in the power of the tongue." And Solomon's observation is reinforced by Jesus thus: "Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give an account thereof in the day of judgment, For by your words you shall be justified, and by your words you shall be condemned."

    So if people focus on the subject, and discuss it intelligently, all will be well on your blog and in the day of judgment!

  6. This is one of the most sophisticated brilliant blogs I have seen, it is highly finessed, nuanced and subtle. It has certainly created a better life for me, personally, particularly with the insight and epiphanies concerning such topics as British Israelism.

    "Raking through the Ashes of Christendom" sets the tone. If people are too dense to absorb the meaning of that, they have no business posting here because with the wisdom represented here comes the responsibility to be honest and that is where the major problems develop.

    Now when it comes to such topics as Karl Barth or the abstractions of modern theological thoughts, all is well. Not too many are going to get excited to the point of flaming when it comes to such topics and even discussions about the various Lutheran Synods, while it may raise and eyebrow or two, is not going to raise blood pressures to the point of flaming.

    However, you've gored many an ox here, exploring the sanctity and inspiration of Scripture itself. My reaction was one of enlightenment with "Aha!" moments, running parallel to my own research and investigations into the same topics. While true truth-seekers may appreciate the wisdom plumbing the normally unmentionable topics of the believing faithful, it becomes an absolutely terrible attack of an entire belief system to those who are set in their eschatology. HOW DARE YOU CAST ASPERSIONS ON THE TRUTH!!!! Of course, people of that sort never seem to learn very much and lose the benefit of progressing forward as they use tired worn out apologetics to defend their own position. Tempers flare. Tensions mount.

    However, that's just mid tier. When you appropriately address the many issues of Armstrongism, the hyperbole escalates: It's as if the Armstrongists haven't learned a thing here and they keep defending the indefensible.

    For those of us on the other side, there is indeed a great deal of skin in the game for some of us. The WCG is responsible for my brother's death. I've seen their treatment of the mentally ill. I have personal knowledge of those committing incest in the sects. I paid the lawyer's fees for the people who were seeking relief from the stalker in United who was supported by a Senior Pastor. Rapes, teens ejected from their homes because they did not believe in the cult -- the list of outrageous behavior goes on and on. I am personally appalled by the treatment of Conscientious Objectors as described by Neotherm. And things are not made any better by those who support the system of abuse when they come here and try to cover up such outrageous behavior, then claim that they are being "fair and balanced" -- the very language of hierarchies of major corporations PR departments as described in "Moral Mazes" by Robert Jackall. It's insulting and it is also a version of "blame the victim".

    You seem to understand this and attempt to balance out the comments as they degenerate into open warfare. It's been pretty well done.

    There doesn't seem to be any reason for doubt on your part. You've done a magnificent job here. It's sometimes the case that I need to be reminded of my position to never knowingly argue with a crazy person and moderation has helped that.

    For topics such as Karl Barth and Lutheran Synods and such, you certainly should expect and will probably achieve your goal of having acceptable comments as something you could say to someone's face over a cup of coffee, and still be on good terms. Other topics, especially those that devastate the silly arguments and perspectives of the unenlightened, not so much. However, sometimes conflict leads to very useful information, particularly about those who come to defend their own indefensible positions. We learn a great deal more than those posting the comments could ever imagine.

  7. Also, of great value are the useful and evocative topics that Otagosh as moderator is somehow able to provide in a steady stream.

    -- Neo

  8. Gavin, you should certaintly ban flattery, for there is nothing more versatile and pliant as a practiced flatterer.

    1. That's why I let most of your comments through Tom, to keep me humble.

  9. It is a well-balanced and eminently fair blog. Ridiculous people and ideas occasionally do surface, but they are usually shown to be what they are, and the pace then quickens to the next topic. The topics stimulate thought.