a comment on blog comments

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Friday, July 3rd, 2009

a comment on blog comments

335 blog posts ago—which happens to be my first ever post on this site—i said the following:

seriously though, leave some comments and interact. it’s more fun for everybody that way (and i don’t fall into a state of clinical depression when nobody leaves comments on my blogs…). on a quick final note, i only have a few rules:

1. don’t take things too personally. i’m not a jerk and i’m probably not talking about you. (unless i specifically mention your name…in which case there’s a good chance that i’m talking about you.)
2. look, if you disagree, that’s ok. just don’t blow a gasket. voice your disagreement in a civil way and let’s talk about it. i like to disagree and have a healthy conversation.
3. understand that in matters of theology, politics or other weighty issues, i value when people can see that we’re on an evolving journey of learning and discovery. i embrace that. if i seem to contradict myself or question a past value, it may not be a fault or mistake.
4. have a good time. seriously, most of the posts will probably be light and not too important in the grand scheme of things, so just have a good time.

wow, if only i could have seen into the future, specifically these last several days. 🙂
if you’ve been following the blog/comments, you’ve seen the following things that i mentioned in that very first posting:
1. people taking things personally,
2. people disagreeing and blowing a gasket,
3. people trying to stifle the “evolving journey of learning and discovery”, and
4. people not having a good time.
i made a decision when i first started the blog that a lot of bloggers have to wrestle with: whether or not to allow commenting. there’s a very extensive and broad conversation that has been hashed over time and again about the pros and cons of this very matter. many choose to allow comments, while many others disallow them. as you can see, i chose to allow comments.
an even more ongoing debate is whether or not bloggers should filter out comments that they view as distasteful or demeaning or mean-spirited or whatever issue they may have with the particular comment. my policy on this has been to not filter any comments. in fact, i don’t even moderate the comments. the moment you hit publish, it’s live on the website. (scary…) 🙂
there have been 2 times i’ve removed comments. the first occured several months ago in a regrettable exchange between me and someone who i thought was a friend. the comments needed to go because they just weren’t fair or fruitful to a generative conversation. without going into the details, apologies were exchanged via email and we both moved on.
the other comment removal, regrettably, occurred tonight. for those who have been following the comment thread on the post, simply put, today i got censored, you have noticed a very, um, spirited back and forth. 🙂 i have truly enjoyed the exchange with most everyone. both todds have been great to hear from as well as cara beth and “MamaMia”. i’ve enjoyed their input and i think the conversation has progressed thanks to their points-of-view. then, of course, there has been another commenter…
i’ve already had multiple people question me as to why i would leave his comments up being that they’re judgmental, hateful and attacking, even going so far as to suggest that i’m not actually a true follower of jesus—the core value and reality that drives my life, family and relationships. well, in sticking with my decision to try to be transparent and in trying to foster some semblance of a conversation, i choose to even let the ugly comments be seen by everyone.
tonight, unfortunately, i drew the line. when it switches from just personal attacks (as much as those suck) to misleading people, i choose to hit the ‘delete comment’ button. i’m cool with people calling me out (todd did a decent and respectable job of it), but when facts and stories are distorted to win other readers over, it’s hard to let that slide.
it’s very true that 90% of communication is nonverbal, so it’s hard to discern someone’s tone on a blog or a comment. whereas you might be led to believe this person is attempting to offer respectful and collegial comments, there are two issues: 1.) even in a friendly tone, his words are still untruthful, hurtful and inflammatory and, 2.) i know this person in “real” life (not just virtually) and i can assure you that i know his tone firsthand.
so, i hope to continue to allow commenting and i hope to continue engaging people in ways that make them want to comment. it’s hard to put yourself out there and make comments, so i want this to be an environment where people feel free to do just that. i just hope it can be in a way that is respectful.
i really hope i’m not coming off as some kind of jerk with this, but i’ve just had several people ask me about this issue and i thought it might be wise to address it in a frank and honest way.
i deeply and truly feel blogging is a great medium to be able to engage people and create some semblance of conversation. as regular blog readers know, i certainly have very pointed opinions, BUT, i sincerely attempt to be respectful, friendly and considerate in my tone and my dealings with other perspectives. i most definitely don’t always succeed, but those are my goals. i believe most of you gather that without me having to say it, but i just want to put that out here.
so, keep the helpful comments coming and let’s continue the conversation!