I have sensed conviction recently (I know, very subjective) that we needed to work to reign in the tendency for comment streams to go haywire here. Moderation is my least favorite thing to do for two reasons. First, it takes time which I don’t have. Second, it makes people mad. People really get upset when a comment is deleted. But, after a discussion with our contributors, we have decided to institute a slightly more restrictive commenting policy.
It is not my desire, nor my intended practice, to delete comments because of their point-of-view. Subjectivity is always a problem to some extent. But it is our goal to allow all sides to speak and all viewpoints to have their say.
But, what we are asking for is simply that we do it in a collegial manner that shows honor to one another, sticks to the topic and leads to better discussion. Here are the policies we have worked out.
Our hope and goal at SBC Voices is to maintain an open commenting policy and to allow people to speak their minds on issues related to the SBC. But commenting at SBC is not a right, and those who wish to have a voice here need to abide by a few basic commenting standards. We will try to make this as simple as we can.
It is obvious that we will not accept obscene or sexually inappropriate comments. Such offenses will be dealt with swiftly. But there are other things that we need to remember.
1) Respect the Post!
It’s called comment thread hijacking. Don’t do it. The author of the post is the one who decides the topic of the hour. When someone attempts to move the discussion in their own direction, away from the author’s intent, it is rude and it is not acceptable. Most of the trouble we see on comment streams deals with those who do not follow the topic introduced by the writer.
Of course, we are something of a community here. A personal remark. A mention of a sporting event. A joke. We don’t want to be too harsh on these things. But there are folks who seem to want to ride their hobby horses in a certain direction no matter where the discussion starts.
Please discuss the topic of the post.
2) Respect People!
Personal attacks and insults will not be permitted. It is one thing for me to say, “I disagree with you.” It is another to say, “Your idea is stupid,” or even “You are stupid.” If your comment is designed to insult another person, it is out of bounds.
3) Anonymity brings harsher judgment.
While we prefer that bloggers give their name to be accountable for their words, we do not prevent people from commenting anonymously, or under a partial name. But to comment, you must use a valid email by which we can contact you if needed.
Those who keep their names hidden will be given little leeway when they violate other guidelines.
4) Do not spread rumors or gossip
Unsubstantiated rumors, especially those that insult others, will not be permitted. Talebearing does not honor the Lord and should not be practiced here.
5) Limit the links
Any comment with two or more links will automatically go into moderation as an anti-SPAM measure. Links are often both necessary and helpful, but too often they are extraneous to the topic. Show some restraint on the links.
6) First-time commenters
Your first comment (or your first comment with a new IP or email) will go automatically into moderation. Once we approve one comment, subsequent comments will be approved. Again, this is an anti-SPAM measure.
Moderating Comments: Three Strikes and You’re Out!
It’s not quite as harsh as it sounds. We will use three levels of response to those who violate the commenting guidelines. We hope to rarely reach level 3, and only once in a while to be forced to level 2.
Strike One: When someone violates one of the guidelines, one of our moderators will issue a warning, delete the comment, or both.
Strike Two: Those who repeatedly violate the commenting guidelines will be placed in moderation. That means that one of our administrators will have to approve the comment before it appears.
Strike Three: Those who demonstrate continued and egregious violation of the rules can be permanently banned.
The SBC Voices Complaint Hotline
We do not carry on public discussions of moderation decisions. If your comment is deleted, or your comments are placed in moderation, or you are banned from commenting, you may contact our “complaint hotline” firstname.lastname@example.org (yes, it is a real email!)
Complaints about comment moderation that are posted will be immediately deleted. Contact the editor at the email above with your complaints.