Being Saints on the Bloggernacle

I’m in a private discussion right now with some conservative and liberal bloggers on the state of the LDS Bloggernacle.  I wanted to discuss some thing publicly about it, without giving out names, blog posts, etc., in order to protect both the innocent and guilty.

But some things need to be discussed.  In the discussion, it seems there are two methods being used to regulate poster behavior.

1. Heavily moderate comments and ban those who won’t follow the rules of a particular blog.

2. Allow the regular posters on a blog (liberal/conservative/etc) to shame the poster into submission.

These methods seem to not work as well as we would hope. Someone always feels left out of the discussion, and instead of an attempt to have others understand us (even if they do not agree), it ends up a battle to see who can beat up on the other side.  Worse, there are some who intentionally jump over to the other side in order to stir up controversy, sometimes to dare them to ban them.

I saw what was probably the very first LDS meltdown on the Internet back in the early 1990s on William Hamblin’s Morm-Ant (Mormon Antiquities) listserv. The site was wonderful to discuss concepts regarding Mormonism. Sadly, Brent Metcalfe and Lou Midgely decided to have a flame war. Bill Hamblin had no choice but to shut it down, and he stayed away from the Internet lists for years.  Personally, I do not blame him.  Then, a new site was set up:SAMU-L (Studies in Ancient Mormonism Uncontentious). Brent again began to shut down discussions, until a group of us asked that he be banned so we could actually discuss things. Since then, Brent has learned to play nicely in others’ sandboxes, even if we do not agree.

So, how do we as Saints improve this situation.  While I post on this conservative blog, I view myself an independent thinker.  I consider the statements of others, as I’ve discovered over the years that I’m not always right.  My views today are very different than when I joined the Church in 1975, yet I’m still a very solid LDS follower and believer.

I see mostly faithful people on both sides of the discussions. I consider many liberals and conservatives as dear and trusted friends, even if I do not agree with their politics or certain views. In the long run, there really is more to unite us than divide us.

There is a saying that “fences make good neighbors.”  Perhaps that is why we have both liberal and conservative LDS sites.  This fence allows us to be neighborly in the common LDS things, yet stand out forcefully in the areas we disagree. Is this the case for us today? Must we have a fence to divide us? If so, then what should blogs do when someone wanders over to discuss, or worse, stir the pot?

Are there some basic rules we can commonly agree upon to make the LDS bloggernacle a place I wouldn’t mind bringing my non-LDS neighbors?

Or are we addicted to controversy? I’ve noted that on my LDS gospel blogging over the past 3 years at joelsmonastery.blogspot.com I’ve had 150K views, yet only a handful of comments.  I’ve posted some political issues here at M* in the past that have easily garnered more comments than all 200 posts at Joel’s Monastery!  It seems to want to encourage controversial posting, rather than posting that uplifts and enlightens us.

And yet the controversial seems to increase contention. Why is it that members of the Church should see one another as unfaithful, apostate, evil, stupid, etc?

So, do we do as D&C states and “contend with no one but the devil” and have to judge for ourselves just who the devil is?  Or do we use patience, forbearance and kindness?

How can we train Mormons to be Saints?  If we cannot agree, or at least be Christian towards one another on the B

37 thoughts on “Being Saints on the Bloggernacle

  1. I’m curious about many of these questions myself. I firmly believe, as I stated in a comment at Real Intent today, in Neal Maxwell’s quote of Austin Farrar’s comment from C.S. Lewis (we have to find a way to pare that down), that “(t)hough argument does not create conviction, lack of it destroys belief. What seems to be proved may not be embraced; but what no one shows the ability to defend is quickly abandoned. Rational argument does not create belief, but it maintains a climate in which belief may flourish.”

    We have to explore things. The problem is that people explore things differently and sometimes people aren’t really exploring things when they argue. It was one of the primary reasons I started Real Intent: that seems to me the divisor between what accomplishes light and what simply stirs up heat. I think that’s why when things get so bad, righteous people withdraw and set up their societies elsewhere. You can’t fight the fighters and win.

    And I have the same experience you have with commenters. It seems that people only comment when they disagree, something that we should probably alter in our online and our face-to-face behaviors. Earned praise is not a bad thing to give.

  2. Rame, I believe your intentions are very good with this post, but unfortunately this post will not achieve your aims. I’ve been around the Mormon blog world for nearly a decade now, and these discussions always end up being the same. I can recall off the top of my head probably 10 posts on M* alone asking in one way or another, “why can’t Mormons get along on blogs?”

    There is really a very simple rule to getting along, which is: act on the internet how you would act in person and treat others as you would like to be treated. Don’t insult the other person, call him/her stupid or idiotic or childish and don’t try to dominate a conversation. If you want to disagree, be nice and stay on topic. If everybody followed this Golden Internet Rule, then we would not have any more posts about “why can’t Mormons get along on blogs.” But I predict in the next decade human nature will not change and we will still be asking ourselves that question continually.

  3. Pingback: Rational argument does not create belief, but it maintains a climate in which belief may flourish | Chaos Central

  4. Rameumtom,

    All of the sane LDS members have fled from the Bloggernacle. It is now an irredeemable vast left-wing conspiracy. The ever-zany insane progressives thrive on sowing controversy everywhere. Like wearing pants to Church, or something evil like that. A satisfying successful day is when you can cause two people to post angry replies.

  5. Geoff, I’ve been on lists on the Internet for over 2 decades now. What I see is that most members want to play nicely. It is usually just a small group of people that are harsh and unkind.
    Often it begins by us drawing a line in the sand. Jeff’s post, although I’m sure he may not have meant it, shows a line drawn in the sand when it comes to people doing things he does not agree with. Such a comment does not encourage dialogue or understanding, but divides us between “good” Mormons and “bad” Mormons. Well, there may be some bad Mormons, but I’m thinking most of them are very faithful, but dealing as best they know how.
    It reminds me of Abraham Lincoln noting that both Northerners and Southerners prayed to the same God, yet believed God was only on their side of the conflict. Perhaps we should consider, as did Pres Lincoln, that God is on both sides. Or neither. Perhaps God has a few core doctrines that matter most, and then things like pants in Church really do not matter to him as much as it does to humans….
    Firstly, it requires us to have charity for all, malice towards none, as Lincoln noted in his 2nd Inaugural Speech. And perhaps it will require us to take the new posters, who have a chip on the shoulder or something to prove, to the side and teach them how to communicate in a Saintly fashion.

    As for the point that this has been brought up before, that is a good thing. We shouldn’t give up, simply because it is hard. We should do hard things, as it will be hard to build Zion. Imagine building it here now, so we can physically build it later. I have that hope, and the more people who will actively join in it, the better.

  6. Rame, I’m not sure what you mean by “Jeff’s post.” I really don’t see that many of the latest bloggernacle flame wars.

  7. Sorry, I meant “Jim’s post” above. I don’t think he meant anything by it, but it could be read in such a way as to make some feel they are being attacked, or their faithfulness in the Church being questioned. I think we all need to think twice before we post, to ensure we are clear enough so that others can easily see what we mean, and so we are not only understood, but not misunderstood.

  8. I didn’t start out adversarial when first posting in the Bloggernacle in my comments. There were some concerns I had that orthodox conservative voices were not getting heard and so I thought, you know, I would add my thoughts. Getting attacked from the get go hardened my writing style. Even trying to be reasonable was seen as mean and nasty. Now even among friends I can’t tell how my words will be perceived and so I don’t even try except at a minimum.

  9. ” I think we all need to think twice before we post”

    For the most part I have thought once, twice, three times before and still got slapped. If you knew me in real life there is no doubt you would not even recognize who you were talking with. However, here on the net there are things that are beyond your control if you want a voice at all. That includes how you are perceived and who also participates.

    The problem isn’t civility, its those who don’t want to be civil will find a way to start something. That leaves two choices; participate and risk the inevitable wrath of others or don’t write and the bloggernacle terrorists win. My own theory is that civilization is a thin veneer that the Internet unmasks.

  10. I’m a big fan of free expression, even when people do it poorly and spew out hurtful words. There are a lot of emotional subjects that the Saints need to work through and you can’t talk about them without people getting their feelings hurt.

    To that end I think we would benefit most from increasing our own ability to charitable endure the potentially hurtful words of others. I think it’s better when people are honest about their opinions, even if they hurt each others feelings, than when they are superficially civil but bottling up their concerns and resentment.

    This is especially true on the Internet. If someone in your physical ward is being offensive you’re stuck with him. In that case it might make sense to request that he prioritize ward unity over his own personal issues. But no one has to read the bloggernacle or enable comments on their website. We’re all here because we want to talk about issues and we can disconnect whenever we want. If people can’t be a little more raw and honest about their concerns and beliefs here, where can they?

  11. Jettboy, if we strip off civility ourselves, claiming that people are going to do it to us anyway, we are not different from those we criticize. I have to agree with rameumptom, having been on lists or lurking since 1997. People are always meaner online than in person, just as crowds are stupider than individuals, but we can fight that happening to us. (D&C 98) And Jim, there are “off-Bloggernacle” groups where sane people congregate. They’re very nice and I’m grateful for them. We should try to create more of them.

  12. Bonnie, I don’t think that was Jettboy’s point.

    From my viewpoint, there’s quite a bit of bullying going on, which is especially ironic given their statements about tolerance and so on.
    Dialogue is about questioning the collective group-think, assumptions, and bad logic. Just because the unpopular kids have found a club where they are the exclusive members, doesn’t mean they should be allowed to have it undisturbed.

  13. FWIW, I’ve read several comments by Jettboy which I really think add to the discussion, where he is unfairly dismissed, attack downed, in a way that makes ME angry and they aren’t my responses. Somehow the idea that “they are marginaled by true-blue Mormons” makes any behavior acceptable.

    As for “sides”, I don’t know where the threshold is, but most people tend to be somewhere in a spectrum, or individuals with many different characteristics than a “side”. For instance, I think some liberal blogs breed emotional unhealth by negativity. And sometimes, this blog breeds a form of dishonesty by banning perfectly honest statements with which the author disagrees… Maybe some of us don’t belong on either side.

  14. H_nu, I have enjoyed all my conversations with Jettboy, even when he baits with eternal housewife nonesense. I was referring to his comment that he doesn’t even try anymore. And you are right – there are forums where lifting up your voice will invite bullying. We don’t have to go there. We can support forums where that doesn’t occur. If we want to be the saviors from groupthink, we should probably have a “get in and get out” mentality or we’re going to become hardened. Hardened dialogue alienates those who watch from the sidelines and contributes cause to the bullies’ claims.

  15. “And you are right – there are forums where lifting up your voice will invite bullying. We don’t have to go there. We can support forums where that doesn’t occur.”

    Yes, this is always true. Interestingly, this environment creates a situation where the “sane” people mostly stay away from a lot of forums (and by “sane” I mean the majority of people who don’t enjoy endless contention). And this tends to create a “group-think” environment at the bullying forums, where the acceptable views can all fit on a 3X5 card. This “group-think” environment reinforces existing prejudices because nobody ever challenges the acceptable views. And because the acceptable views are never challenged, the bullies cannot ever imagine that anybody could possibly think differently than they do (without be racist, a homophobe, hick, red neck, etc, etc). So, the people who populate the bullying forums begin to see their position as justified because all people who disagree with them are evil. And the natural result is even more contention. This is why, with all due respect, I don’t think things will ever “get better” on the blogs until perhaps the Millennium. In the meantime, those of us who want to have polite conversations or express unpopular views will just have to continue in our little corners of the internet ignoring the bullies altogether.

  16. I really think Geoff has given a great example of what happens when no one challenges false assertions within these “echoing chambers.”

    These “echo chambers” set themselves up as “agents of change.” They get themselves interviewed by newspapers as “authorities” on the Church. They give unfair, biased, coverage of issues, calling anyone who disagrees with them various names. Then unsuspecting people like my MiL let themselves get unneccessarily agitated, exactly the response that these people are hoping for.

    Now if I were to be unaware of these things, I may not know how to provide context to the stories. What’s that saying about, “Keeping your friends close, and your enemies closer?” “Know thy enemies.”

  17. The idea of the Church as the “kingdom of God” creates an interesting dynamic. On the one hand, it’s the kingdom of God, so we each feel a deep and powerful interest in the way it is run. On the other hand, it’s the kingdom of God, so none of us has much say in the way it’s run. That creates a feeling of desperation, I think–among the leftists; that they are powerless to actually change anything; and among the rightists; that they are powerless to guarantee that the status quo will remain in place indefinitely.

  18. [Trying again; previous attempt to use HTML for emphasis failed miserably]

    The idea of the Church as the “kingdom of God” creates an interesting dynamic. On the one hand, it’s the kingdom OF GOD so we each feel a deep and powerful interest in the way it is run. On the other hand, it’s the KINGDOM of God, so none of us has much say in the way it’s run. That creates a feeling of desperation, I think–among the leftists; that they are powerless to actually change anything; and among the rightists; that they are powerless to guarantee that the status quo will remain in place indefinitely.

  19. Jim, FWIW, I consider the whole change versus status quo argument without merit. It is today’s conservatives that are seeking change, in the executive branch; in the legality of abortion, etc.

    The “conservative group” of LDS isn’t trying to keept things from changing, we’re trying to make sure that the church is still being led by its proper authorities, instead of malcontents and “change-makers”.

  20. h_nu, FWIW, while I acknowledge there’s a hefty amount of overlap, I’m talking primarily about theological conservatives/liberals, not necessarily political conservatives/liberals.

  21. I think the major reason there is a lot of heated discussion, or argument, or contention – whatever one wants to call it, is that most of us think we have figured out what is true and almost none of us are very good separating what has actually been revealed (actually very very little) from what we (only) believe is true. We rarely see a bright line between revealed truth and what we think is revealed truth. So when someone else asserts that the opposite of what we believe to be revealed truth is the “real” revealed truth we tend to get defensive. Then going beyond that most of us have a large set of beliefs built up about where individual responsibility and church/community responsibility overlap and where they don’t which we again think are logical outgrowths from what we think revealed truth is. Since we often disagree about what revealed truth is, we really really disagree about the belief system based on our opinions. Since we tend to believe truth is both knowable and consistent when someone claims the opposite of what we believe to be true we (logically) see that to mean they are saying the core values we hold (as revealed truth) are based on false doctrine – that tends to annoy most of us.
    Debating politics with someone can be done in a non “truth” context as it is clear that people have different value judgements and weigh/value various outcomes and policies differently. But debating politics with a fellow saint means (in a foundational sense) we are questioning their understanding of what the practical applied lessons and obligations of the Gospel are.

  22. I think it’s helpful to keep things in perspective. Does anyone here frequent non-LDS forums, or read the comment sections on online news articles? I’ve seen some ugly things on the bloggernacle, but the worst here is often much, much better than what you find on similar internet forums. And even if I think we need to do better, I think we should pat ourselves on the back (as a community).

    I read something by Montaigne earlier today. He points out that sometimes we will meet people who seem like the paragons of virtue in their public interactions, but their wives and children have nothing good to say about them. Our true selves come out behind closed doors. And I think that is often reflected in the way we conduct ourselves online, where we can speak freely while being shrouded by our internet monikers (and I say this fully aware that I am not always a saint online). For some that’s good news, for some that’s bad news, or at least it should be bad news.

  23. Bonnie, I don’t want to bring the discussion from one blog onto this post, but it doesn’t matter if someone says “I think she’s a homemaker in the truest, most exalted sense,” or that she might be a “Housewife in Heaven.” There is going to be a number of people that find both equally offensive. If you try to be all things to all people then you are going to get tired and/or incomprehensible all for nothing. You will still get negative responses. That leaves two choices; give up and leave the blog world altogether or say what is on your mind and let the chips fall where they may.

    I grew up a diminutive who was bullied. Words in cyberspace don’t frighten me. What is the most they can do, ban me? I can get upset and angry, but they are not going to intimidate me. At other times only by showing some aggression yourself will your words be noticed and not just ignored. If you remember how things worked in middle school then you know how things are done in cyberspace or today’s politics.

  24. So, some of what I’m hearing is we need “fences” or boundaries between different groups. Yet, there are some who feel we “must” cross the boundary and defend our concept of what the Church is about, in order to protect the Church from the evil minions on the other side?

    Perhaps we need to consider the concept of “steadying the ark”. Conservatives feel that liberals are trying to steady the ark. And perhaps they are. However, when we try to overprotect the Church, are we conservatives also not steadying the ark?

    Perhaps part of the solution is for us to first learn the things Christ tried to teach about motes and beams, turning the other cheek, etc. I’m rather confident that the Church will survive just fine, whether women wear pants in Church or don’t wear pants in Church. After all, the Church survived polygamy, MMM, ERA, and a whole lot of other things before there was an Internet for us to use!

    I’m very Libertarian in nature, and when it comes to the gospel have a very strong testimony. However, I’ve seen many things that I long felt needed change in the Church, and many of those things have been changed over time. I often speak out about the poor quality of our CES manuals and Sunday instruction manuals, so it was a pleasant thing to see them change the program for the Youth teaching. Was I wrong over the years to kindly critique it? I don’t think so.

    So, I do not agree with all the changes that the liberals want, but there have been some good changes come about, nonetheless. I know there have been some recent GA statements regarding immigration, gays, 19 year old women going on missions, and other things that have made many conservative LDS feel very uncomfortable.

    We need to realize that this IS a Church of revelation and things can change, if God wishes to change them. Perhaps establishing what are the real core doctrines of the Church, and having those as things which do not change, and then allow room for revelatory changes to doctrine, and common sense changes to traditions and policies as needed (with or without revelation).

    How is it that we see ourselves as completely right and infallible, and the others as devilish apostates, when we all fall short of God’s glory?

  25. JB, I hope you aren’t saying that sometimes we have to be bullies in order to get our point across? There is such a thing as tact. There’s also such as thing as using charity in one’s words. When we visit a neighbor’s home that has a painting of a saint or the Virgin Mary, do we grab it and toss it on the ground because it represents an apostate religion? Or do we show respect to our friend and act graciously in his/her home?
    We should not allow how others bullied us when we were kids turn us into bullies today. I was bullied as a kid, also. It taught me to be kind to others, because we each have suffered from bullies or struggles in life.
    I would hope we would seek answers from the scriptures, and not excuse our actions because the other group is evil or full of bullies, etc. Perhaps the liberals feel they’ve been bullied for decades in the Church, and this is a place where they can discuss things safe from the bullies in their own neighborhoods.

  26. Jettboy, you are probably right about someone being offended no matter how you say something. I have a self-centered view that when I’m debating with someone the rest of the world can mind their own business, because I do think words and details matter, hence the splitting of hairs on words. I also think that the cyber world provides a wonderful opportunity to testify for truth, because we state what we think is right and true, and we defend it, and it lives on and on. So, since my goal is not to convince but to testify, I never feel it was a wasted effort.

    I grew up bullied for my ideas, by my dad, but was never diminutive (probably a blessing of my gender, because otherwise I would have really gotten trounced.) I suppose that experience (having to stand up and defend every blasted thing I said) has made me an idea advocate, and probably fairly annoying. That strain of advocacy means that I can’t let either politics or cyberspace be junior high. That would be giving up and letting dad win. ;)

  27. Interesting that the different ways we were bullied seems to have determined how we deal with real and perceived bullied. For Rameumptom it made him want to be more compassionate and considerate, for Bonnie it made want to be careful and precise in her words. With me it was the opposite, having made me to believe needing to be careful with your words (although precise is still good) and showing compassion and consideration when none is reflected back is a sign others control you.

  28. Ironically, I was never moderated on any blogs until I changed my approach to blogging from contention to testimony. But that is how we can approach it to avoid bullying others, yet not be intimidated.

    I do not often return to blogs who moderate me for sharing my experience and testifying. Some, I no longer comment on, even when they ask for input because there is no point.

    Finally, I think that online testimony is important. We often get so caught up in correcting others, we completely forget our largest audience, which are those who are not LDS. We lead the media astray, causing them to misunderstand the gospel and to define the nature of the church only through our viewpoint. Most of us are so prideful and self-centered, we believe this is a good thing. We think we are using the media to accomplish our desires for change in the church, when it is actually the media who uses us to mock our faith and demonstrate how foolish those who believe in religion are. We will have to answer for that.

  29. How do you feel bearing testimony on a LDS blog moves things forward? Also, do you testify of only the core doctrines of the Church, or also of other things that you consider important? For example, do you witness of the truth of the Book of Mormon, or also of its absolute and infallible history? Do you testify of Christ, or of your personal political model? Do you insist that Pants at Church day is evil, or is it something is neither true or false, right or wrong? I’ve seen some liberals discuss it and the prayers in Gen Conf, where they like the idea, but disagree with the method – just what do we testify to?
    Does bearing testimony open up dialogue and discussion, or just shut it down? What if the other person also bears testimony that they feel their views are true? What then?
    For me, it is one thing to share my testimony with someone who is inquisitive to know more about the gospel, but another to testify to someone who already has a testimony.
    Since I cannot read a person’s heart, do their differing views make them evil or apostate? I remember many years ago when I was on an email listserv that was generally conservative, that in a discussion one very conservative person called me a Signaturi (basically an apostate that follows the literature created by Signature Books). It was patently false, as I was just not as dogmatic about some beliefs that are not actual core doctrines. Yet, the instance I was labelled, I knew the conversation was over. I soon left that group, as there no longer was room there for me.
    This brings up another concept: the moving target of what we believe in. None of us believe exactly as we did a decade ago. New information and even teachings from the Church modulates us constantly. But what happens when a group moves further left or right? Does it change the blog? Should the blog be allowed to change?
    For example, M* has both conservative and libertarian bloggers. My views on certain things will be different than those of others here. And my tactics in discussing will be different. Some are “in your face”, while others wish only to testify or tell, rather than dialogue.

    Finally, what do we bring into this from the gospel? Is just bearing testimony of everything/anything we believe fit in with the gospel? Is using a harder stance, like Jettboy seems to take, the thing we as Saints should do? If I were President Monson or Eyring, what would I say in a blog comment? How would I say it? Would anything be worth saying? Do I first learn the audience and then respectfully stay within their guidelines – similar to how the Church goes into other nations through the front door by building relationships with communists, dictators, etc? Or do we get in their face in pure testimony that communism is evil because Elder Benson said it was?
    What should be our priorities in all of this? To be right? To show we can take a licking and keep on ticking? To establish those with me as Saints, and everyone else as apostate? What is our purpose, and how does it affect us and others in achieving Sainthood? Does my method of bearing testimony bring others closer or further from God?

    Lots of questions, I know. But they are questions that are in dire need of good answers.

  30. I think most conservative and liberal blogernacle participants tend to “testify” of a lot of things they believe are true which are not (in the strict revealed accepted doctrine sense) and then instead of the conversation being about competing opinions which can be evaluated or tested with data or experience it morphs into a fight about what is “true” – not very helpful. I liked the examples Rameumptom provides in his last post. Lots of culturally Mormon things get debated on the internet forums. I think we need to keep those kind of conversations clearly at the debate level, not trying to make them doctrinal debates.

  31. The answer to all those questions is simple: by the Spirit. I hate to sound flippant, but that really is what it boils down to, the relationship between yourself and deity.

    Is that not what the Book of Mormon demonstrates?

  32. Ram:
    I have no concern that the church won’t survive the apostasy of individuals, and attacks via intellectals. I have a huge concern for the people who stumble upon these sites, naively thinking that these are faithful sites, who get led astray, and unneccesarily agitated by this stuff. I was naively guided to this “type” of site by a former institute teacher (something I have not forgiven him for). These negative people contributed a large portion to my depression and suicidal thoughts. I now try and warn others of the dangers of these sites. So I’m not trying to build a hedge around the church, I’m trying to protect the innocent.

  33. Hello All,
    Nice conversation, thank you Rame for providing the forum. I think the Bloggernacle is a representation of the North American Church, albeit the more liberal element. As a whole we have a problem with judging one another see:
    http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865571984/UVU-professors-study-puts-focus-on-LDS-women-and-depression.html
    While in person, and in a church setting, we express our judgmental opinions to our family or close friends, at the most, using passive-aggressive tactics with others in our community. On the Bloggernacle/internet, we feel free to take off the kit gloves, let go of our passive-aggressive selves. We then sling judgments at strangers, who are our fellow saints, at a level we probably would not in a church setting. I think the manner of how we conduct ourselves on the bloggernacle is how we truly are in our hearts. FWI, myself included.

  34. Pingback: Zelophehad’s Daughters | Some Thoughts on the Bloggernacle

  35. As someone who advocates for less formal moderation (and isn’t a big fan of much of the informal moderation — the “shaming” that ram mentions in the OP)…I think it’s difficult.

    I think the problem with having a lax formal moderation policy is that not all participants participate equally. The people who are most willing to stand on their soapbox *no matter what* and who are least socially aware when they are being overbearing are naturally going to overwhelm the discussion and make things hostile for people who aren’t that way. The most frustrating part is because of the lack of social awareness (or maybe they are aware, but just don’t care — in good faith, I don’t think this is often the case, and as someone who has annoyed a bunch of people on the internet, I know that for me, I was just not aware of how obnoxious I was being), the person in question typically will not respond to gentle suggestions at all…and they will take harsher admonitions EXTREMELY poorly.

    Like, suppose they *are* banned…they are probably not likely to see themselves at any fault, and will say that the site owners are just mean/self-selecting/seeking an echo chamber/etc.,

    So, a level playing field (if that’s what you want — I understand that many sites probably don’t want a “level” playing field) is not something that happens with no policing at all…it must be carefully and conscientiously nurtured.

    I think a quick and easy way to nurture it is to be very quick to use the banhammer…but I think a more difficult, but in the long-run more…satisfying…method is to build a culture of active permabloggers who will monitor each other’s threads (so that the blog writer doesn’t feel piled on his/her own posts) and a culture of communication between commenters and permas (where the commenter is aware that if s/he’s doing something that doesn’t fit in with the norms, then he/she can expect a behind the scenes conversation and a request to change.)

    …ALL that being said, I am aware as well that different people want very different things from their blogging. For people who are secure in their fundamental convictions, they may want to build from those foundations rather than have to constantly defend those foundations. In this case, they’ll probably want to create an environment that disincentivizes basic challenges to the fundamentals.

    I am amenable to that idea. I am amenable to the idea of people creating a space where they can be vulnerably open and explore that vulnerability without needing to risk that they will be attacked. Some times, you don’t want to have to fight, you know?

  36. Interestingly, Pres Uchtdorf discusses courtesy on the Internet in the current First Presidency’s message in the Ensign:

    “Be Full of Grace
    Unfortunately, it is so easy to be disagreeable. It happens too often that we argue, belittle, and condemn. When we become angry, rude, or hurtful with people, the last thing they want is to learn more about us. It is impossible to know how many people have either left the Church or never joined because someone said something that hurt or offended them.

    “There is so much incivility in the world today. Because of the anonymity of the Internet, it is easier than ever to say toxic or grating things online. Shouldn’t we, the hopeful disciples of our gentle Christ, have a higher, more charitable standard? The scriptures teach, “Let your speech be alway[s] with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man” (Colossians 4:6).

    “I like the idea of our words being clear as a sunny sky and full of grace. Can you imagine what our families, wards, nations, and even the world would be like if we could adopt this simple principle?”

    I don’t think he means we can’t disagree on the Bloggernacle, but perhaps we can do so in a more Christian manner, so that when others see our words, they will see us who we really hope to be as Latter-day Saints: Christ-like.

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