I have really enjoyed my time as the editor of SBC Voices over the last 2 1/2 years. Blogging has been one of the best things that has ever happened to me. I get a little bit torqued when people take shots at blogging and bloggers because it has been such a great thing for me personally. I have been writing since I was a kid – I’ve got some handwritten stories in files that I would hate to have anyone see, but I have been writing since I can remember. Blogging gave me the one thing I had never had before, an audience. For the first time, a few people actually read what I wrote. That is an amazing blessing.
But, the downside of this is that SBC Voices is a lot work. We are unique among the Baptist blogs. Most of the prominent blogs in the SBC world are focused on the ideas of the author. Many of the big-time blogs moderate comments or restrict them severely. The focus of those blogs is the wisdom of the blogger and not the discussion the blog engenders. But SBC Voices is a “blue-collar” blog. None of us here are on the denominational a-list (trust me when I say that 2nd VP is far down the list). We are just Baptist Christians who write our thoughts. We hope the readers enjoy what we write, but our opinion pieces are viewed more as discussion-starters than final words.
So, we have some pretty active discussions around here, and managing them leaves me feeling like the lion tamer at the circus, without the whip and chair! And, I have to admit, it is wearing on me. I find myself jealous of certain people who seem to be able to be patient and kind to people no matter how they act on the blog. I’m not one of those people.
I am struggling to maintain my patience with some of the bloggers and the discussions that go on here. Let me introduce you to a few of the bloggers who wear me out. (None of the names are meant to apply to any particular person.)
1) “The Sky is Red” Ronnie – he just likes to quarrel about everything. He goes through a blog, even one he agrees with in large part, searching until he finds something to correct or quarrel with.
2) Monotone Marvin – he has just one note and he keeps on singing it – loudly – regardless of what tune anyone else around him is singing. Marv is able to turn every discussion into his pet topic. Write a post on any topic you please and he can turn it into a discussion of the blessings (or failures) of Calvinism, or the failings of whatever entity or SBC leader he is currently miffed at . Dude, there are lots of notes – learn some new ones.
3) Bulldog Bobby – he never gives up on a discussion, no matter how petty or silly it becomes. Everyone else may move on, but Bobby keeps biting at the subject, sinking in his teeth and never letting go. My working theory is that productive discussion seldom takes place after about 75 comments (if the topic is Calvinism, alchohol or the GCR, that number is much lower).
4) Driveby Darrell – stops by to bless us with his wisdom, especially to tell us how wrong we all are about everything, then drives on, never sticking around to discuss his pontifications.
Of course, every website has its trolls and its bombastic blasters. Among Baptist blogs, we may have more than our share.
Here’s my problem. I want SBC Voices to be a free and open atmosphere where we can discuss issues. That is who we are. But I am concerned that when we allow things to go to a certain point, serious people who want to engage in serious discussions don’t want to discuss things here.
So, figuring out how to manage the discussions here is quite a challenge – like trying to nail jello to the wall; you never quite get the job done!
And I am getting tired of the struggle. Almost every blogger goes through blogger-burnout at some time or another. I’m getting tired of the rigmarole and I don’t really what to do about it.
- I do not want to stop writing. I really enjoy that.
- I do not want to change the nature of this blog – we are a blue collar blog built around discussion, not just blog posts.
- But I am also unwilling to continue with things exactly as they are.
I am not a contentious guy, but I find myself more and more caught up in discussions with angry bloggers who think I am being unfair to them. I think that because of the nature of this blog, people feel like we are a free-speech haven. We are not. Our supreme leader, Tony, has given me one instruction – that Voices must not be a single viewpoint blog, that various voices need to be heard from. I agree with that.
But we have no obligation to let everybody say everything they want. If you want to comment here, you have to follow some basic rules.
- Honor the Lord.
- Honor others.
- Speak the truth in love.
- Argue issues, not people.
- And here’s the one that gets people upset – you have to listen to the moderator. If I ask you to back off, you have to back off. I may be wrong (everyone I’ve ever challenged has thought so, certainly), but I hold the whistle and I make the calls. You do not have to like that, but that’s the way it is.
You get the point.
So, what am I gonna do?
First of all, I would apologize for losing my patience with people when that has happened. Sometimes, my frustration boils over and that is never okay.
Second, I am going to start something new. When a discussion gets to that place where it is picking over the bones of a discussion, going back over the same ground time and again, getting more chippy, petty and silly each time, I’m just going to shut the comments on the post and let us move on.
Third – well, I don’t know what third will be. That is in the future. I keep looking at what we have and thinking about how it can become better.
We’ll see what happens.