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