I do not deal with comments nearly as much as I used to, for several reasons – some noble and others not so much. In the “not so much” category, I find myself tiring of answering the same questions and responding to the same criticisms over and over again. So, I am putting together a post answering some of the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) or Frequently Made Criticisms (FMCs) with my answers. I may make this a permanent page and then I can just link people to it, or copy/paste answers.
I know, first of all, that I am sometimes impatient with people. You may be making a criticism or asking a question for the first time and I should recognize that. I am hearing it for 437th time and I often fail to react with grace when dealing with these. I will try to hear you and I hope you will hear me.
Your post is BIASED!
Of course, it is. Every once in a while we do news reporting here and try to give honest evaluations of events. I did 25 posts at the convention in 2019 and most were factual reporting, with a smidge of humor (well, attempts) and a modicum of perspective and opinion.
But our posts are opinion pieces. We are expressing OUR opinions on issues. When we come to write, we’ve already studied an issue and formed a view. When I write, I try to recognize other views and be fair to them (I try) but I write to express my view.
A legitimate criticism is that a post presents the other side in a false light, or twists the facts, but the criticism that a post is biased or only presents one side – that is the purpose of most posts!
SBC Voices says…!
Uh…no. Dave Miller says. William Thornton says. Todd Benkert says. Brent Hobbs says. Adam Blosser says. You get it, right? We have over a dozen contributors and I seldom give any editorial oversight to any of them. Sometimes, one of them will ask for help and there have been a few times we’ve seen an issue and stepped in, but that is rare.
We do not have an editorial board. We are a group of guys (trying to regularly include some women as well) who write articles. What William writes is his opinion. I agree with him more than not, but sometimes not. He would say the same about me, I think. We have a couple of Facebook groups where we discuss issues related to the SBC, to Voices, and to a wide range of things. You should see those. We do NOT all agree on many issues. We are generally open to well-written responses to our posts.
Now, there are some issues we’ve decided by conviction and by choice to speak with a united voice. We do not countenance racism or misogyny in either our posts or our comments. When we see something that smacks of those, we send it to the trash.
But on most issues, we have differences. Recently, we had a post on Trump that riled people. But Bart Barber also posted one explaining why he was open to voting for Trump this time around.
SBC Voices is a group of independent writers who each speak their minds on the blog. We hold to the BF&M 2000 but we do not limit our writers on secondary and tertiary issues.
SBC Voices is a Calvinist Blog!
Pants on fire!
That was, perhaps, once true. But I’ve worked hard to see that it is not. I think that idea got around because I opposed the hatred of the angry anti-Calvinists at SBC Today and C316 before their implosion. Still do. Recently, though, I’ve been classified negatively by supporters of the Founders because I have opposed their angry and divisive work.
My vision for SBC Voices has been to get a wide range of opinions from those in the SBC, who will express them forcefully, but respectfully.
As to whether we are Calvinist – I (sort of) own the blog and I do not consider myself a Calvinist (put Antinomist in the search bar on this site and you can read my views). William Thornton is not a Calvinist. Bart Barber has written here frequently and is not a Calvinist. I have tried hard to make this site not reflect one view on most things.
Why do you allow name-calling after you spoke against it?
The simple truth is that name-calling is in the eye of the beholder.
Take last week’s post on Donald Trump by Erich Bridges, for example. I posted it (after a lengthy discussion behind the scenes) because a) Erich is a prominent SBC Voice, one of our preeminent journalists, and b) I thought he stated his case very well. Yes, it was forceful. But Erich stated a thesis and gave evidence for that thesis. He went through the behavior of President Trump and showed why he said what he said. Then, he called for action – asking Trump voters to consider whether that was a good idea.
The reaction of many on the post was different. They called names. They insulted him and his intentions. The big difference is that most of those gave no evidence or logical support of their positions. They just spoke of how big an idiot he was, or how he was a liberal, or some other pejorative. Erich gave (admittedly) strong opinions but backed them up with facts. Many in response gave nothing but anger and horror.
I see a difference there.
On another post last week, some were criticizing William for some of his terms. The same thing applied. They gave no logical refutation, just breathless horror that someone should say such a thing.
You deleted my comment because you disagreed with it.
Sure, that was the reason!
Listen, if I deleted every comment that I disagreed with or that annoyed me, there would be FAR fewer comments on our posts! No one is perfectly objective in dealing with comments – I probably am more permissive with people who agree with me – as you likely would be if you were moderating. I’ve been working for 10 years to get a handle on comments here and haven’t succeeded yet.
But, in general, I delete comments if they:
- are a first comment that does not show that you will add to the conversation. We have to approve everyone’s first comment, and I do not open that door unless the first comment shows someone who is going to be an addition to the site. Drive-bys say goodbye!
- Generate more heat than light – in other words, there is more emotion, especially anger, in the comment than there is information.
- Include unnecessary, or self-promoting links – if you want to pay for advertising, fine, but don’t use us as your free advertising. We might overlook it once in a while but just don’t!
- Are repetitive, petty, etc.
- Discuss my previous moderating decisions – I do not discuss moderation on the site. If you want to question why I deleted your comment, ask me by email. Any comment where you complain about moderation will be deleted. Any comment that says, “This will probably be deleted, but…” is likely to be deleted.
- In general, it is your job to add to and further the discussion. If you aren’t doing that, I will step in.
Having said all of that, I make some disclaimers.
- I often go a day or two where I don’t even look at the blog. So, when I am here, I try to be consistent. But I do not read every comment. I’d love to monetize this blog and make it a full-time job (maybe) but I’ve gotten paid exactly 0 dollars through the years. I have a full-time ministry.
- Not only that, I tell every one of our administrators to moderate as they see fit. So, if William is looking over the site, he will moderate differently than I do. He’s much more likely to delete links to other blogs and more likely to let other comments stand. So, If Todd or Brent or Adam or someone else is watching things, things will be different. Sometimes, no one is moderating.
- We have two levels of our doghouse. Stage 1 is “moderation.” That means all your comments have to be approved. Generally, if you persist in something after we’ve asked you to stop, you go to the penalty box. When you cool down and demonstrate you are doing well, we undo that. It’s work for us – none of us wants that. The “blacklist” means your comments go straight to our trash. Usually, that is for trolls, racists, or people who have consistently defied the moderators. You have to earn the blacklist.
- We do make mistakes. I get angry just like you. I generally try to work things out privately with people, though it doesn’t always work.
- I try to moderate only for behavior, but complete objectivity is an impossible dream. Generally, though, I do not delete because, “I don’t like what he said.” Maybe my bias influenced my decision, but I try not to do that.
- Please note, on a site that is this active, stuff happens. Comments go into spam and get lost, and sometimes we didn’t intend it. If you have a question, ask. Sometimes, if you misspell your name (or email), you get treated like a first-time commenter. Be patient.
But if you think I delete every comment I disagree with, you aren’t paying attention. If you are making that accusation against me, could I ask a favor. Look at your comment and ask, “Could there be another reason?”
You think you are always right.
First of all, that isn’t true. But, I can understand why you’d think that. When I post something on SBC Voices, a blog with 11,500 Twitter followers, thousands of readers daily, a large Facebook following, a blog read by many of the biggest names in the SBC (or their lieutenants who report to them) I am not going to post unless I am pretty sure about the topic. I’ve floated ideas for discussion. Long ago, I had an idea about doing away with the ERLC to raise more money for the IMB. I floated that and by the end of a lengthy discussion, I abandoned it. I wrote several posts about ESS nearly a decade ago, but I’m not nearly as confident about my view now as I was then.
But generally, while I accept that faithful people can disagree with me on most of what I write, I am not going to write a post unless I feel strongly about something. If you disagree, which is fine, I am going to respond with my views. I enjoy such a back and forth.
I don’t enjoy the insinuation response and the breathless horror. “How could any true believer think such a thing?” Or “You must think that because you…” Those try my patience. I am especially out of patience with people who respond to my post without giving evidence they read it, or try to force me into saying something I didn’t say.
However, my point is this – YES! If I post something here on SBC Voices it is because I think I am right. If I didn’t, I would not post it.
I have meetings the rest of the day, and so I’m going to post this now. I will likely edit, augment, and revise this later. But for now, here it is.