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Monday, June 30, 2008

Blogging and Christian Ethics #4

When I first started this series, BryanL suggested the topic of the role of the blog owner. It was a good idea and the topic of this post.

I have experienced blogs, where the owner pays little attention. A topic is thrown out, people discuss, and little or no moderation is encountered. (One Christian blogger I occasionally read has little interaction with the commentators until someone pays a compliment. Then a positive reply usually shows up.) I have experienced blogs where the blog owner approves every comment before it appears on the blog. And I have experienced blogs where there is a balance. The comment may appear quickly, but the owner remains involved.

Probably the most disappointing experience came from a Christian blog where profanity was used by commentators to describe a prominent Christian scholar. It was not removed for a very long time. I suspect it was only removed after complaints.

While I am the novice blogger, this would be my suggestion regarding comments:
  • If the owner does not have time to oversee the comments, do not allow commenting.
  • Regarding profanity: either have a filter, delete comments, or remind commentators that such language is not allowed.
  • When dialog becomes inappropriate, call people on it either on the blog or via email.
  • If you want an anything goes, mudslinging environment, place a disclaimer on the site. While this would not be the path I would prefer, there are those who find this "fun."
Ultimately, I think as Christians we should strive to maintain the same Christ-like discourse on the blogosphere as we would in church. Unfortunately, there seems to be this dichotomous mindset between what we say and what we type. While Scripture does not offer direct commands regarding our blogging comments, it seems fairly logical that the same principles regarding our conversations be applied to blogging.

I will close with an example of an excellent blog owner. Scot McKnight of Jesus Creed is a blogger extraordinaire. He blogs often, and he keeps track of the blog. I believe he removes comments that are inappropriate, but I know he reminds people when the conversation is getting out of hand. When he is writing on a particularly volatile subject, he asks people to not be negative, rude, or engage in personal attack. Jesus Creed has created a community where people share their views, learn from each, and sometimes disagree with one another. But when there is disagreement, sarcasm and bitterness are usually left at the door. Two thumbs up to Scot McKnight and the Jesus Creed community.

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