Thursday, February 07, 2008

Blog Etiquette 101 *** Updated!!!***

One thing I enjoy deeply is owning a home. My wife and I have lived where we are for nearly a decade now. But, there would be something wrong if we turned away strangers. We don't live in a locked house, refusing to talk to other people and otherwise benefit from one another's company. We enjoy people coming to visit and the discourse that comes with it.

The same is true for me as a blogger. There are lots of parallels. This blog is, in a very real sense, "home" to me. It's where I can express my thoughts, converse with others and benefit from their company.

We live in a day of "entitlement". Everyone has "rights". It used to be that we understood that we have the "right to pursue happiness". Now, that has been changed to the inalienable right to happiness itself.

So, in the real world, there is less common sense respect for what used to be considered common sense courtesy. It used to be that if you knocked on someone's door, you didn't expect to be let in. And if the person said "no thank you", you said "ok", left and that was the end of it.

Those days are gone.

The days we live in now, it is virtually true that you might expect someone to knock on your door, bomb on in, prop their dirty feet up on your coffee table and begin making a myriad of complaints that you are wrong, rude and just plain hateful. Believe it or not, I experienced this as far back as 1979. A "friend" and another guy showed up at my house. I let them in. They eventually tried to convince me that I needed to agree with them on some subject. When I disagreed with them, they claimed I was being rude to them because, after all, they were my "guests"! Wow!

Little did I know this was just a harbinger of things to come.

This blog began one and one half years ago
. It is a place where I post what I believe -- and why. It is a place where I post things that have made me happy. It has, unfortunately, also been a place where I have had to publish bad news, such as my fathers's passing.

Over the life of this blog, I've met lots of people that I'd like to meet, although I don't expect that to happen in so many cases, this side of heaven. So many of them have been a great support to me in the tough times and I thank them for it.

However, it would seem that a review is in order. A class, so to speak. While the vast majority of those who come by here have demonstrated themselves to be wonderful, Godly people, that has not always been the case. It is sadder to note that, of late, this trend has become worse. Hence, this post, "Blog Etiquette 101". Seems that there are those out there who just don't get it. Read on, and understand what I'm talking about.

What Will Guarantee That You Don't Get Allowed in Our Home and Your Comment Doesn't Get Posted

What simply amazes me is the prevalent attitude that "I have a right to post a comment on your blog". This is usually after I have "failed" to post a comment that wreaked of sarcasm. Can sarcasm be ok? Sure! Paul even used it! There is a time for it. But if someone comes to my front door and starts spewing garbage at me, it would be beyond reason for me to allow that person into my home, wouldn't you think?

Now, some have said "but you use it on your blog to talk about the JoeBlow Movement or Ed NoDoctrine" Yup. I do. But the expression of my right to post what I think the way I think it doesn't grant universal response rights to everyone, or anyone. If you are one of these sorts, remember, this is my "home", not yours. Plus, I try to give a scriptural argument (beyond merely saying "Jesus did thus and so" without supporting evidence) and use sarcasm to drive a point home. It isn't sarcasm for sarcasm's sake.

It gets even worse. Let me illustrate with something I just found at a parenting forum: "To be honest, my main objection . . . is having to suffer some truly intolerable table manners from other people’s children, who seem to think it is perfectly acceptable to climb all over the tables and seats with their muddy feet, and generally run around the place at will."

Welcome to the world of moderating a blog. Not only do strangers come in with their attitudes and "rights" but then they decide that it's perfectly fine to plop back, throw their muddy feet up on your virtual furniture and attempt to dictate dialog.

What they do is come in, leave a comment, then use that as a means to get a foothold, nothing more, nothing less. The presupposition being that "If I say "X" and you don't respond, you have surrendered the argument". Not at all.

No. It means I don't believe in re-enforcing and sharpening someone's tendency to be a jerk. It's a struggle, because I tend to be the kind of person who likes closure. I hate not answering questions. However, there is a time to speak and a time to keep silent. I have found that answering a fool according to his folly will get you nowhere. The proverbs discuss this kind of thing (26:4).

Then there are those who ask a question mixed with sarcasm. Someone who has never posted a comment before blows in with "Yeah, right...just you and x and y are right." Yup. That'll get you in the front door in a hurry won't it? Not.

Under the topic of "Stupid Human Tricks" we get stuff like this, although as you can see, what the devil intends for evil, God uses for good, namely to get the Gospel out. However, as the picture to the left illustrates, from the contents of a comment thread it's sometimes hard to tell a man from a jackass. (Sorry, Grandma, you would have said "JassAck"). In any event, we pray for them anyway. At least they aren't lukewarm!

Then there are the power freaks. The ones who want an ongoing wrestling match -- a blog Jihad for the sake of commandeering a thread. What generally happens here is that a direct biblical response is given but the point is rejected out-of-hand as "wrong" (again with no Biblical argument provided) and the argument changes. So, now we are engaged in a debate for the sake of debate. The conversation ends up going nowhere. It becomes a point-scoring contest and it is assumed by the offender that if you don't respond, that is "proof that I'm right". What happens here sometimes is someone puts up a "humble" front but when the Bible comes out, so do the sharp knives. Then, they email you and want to know why you "don't want to discuss things with those who disagree". Idiocy.

No, not in my home. Cue the gong.

There are those who have said "This amounts to not allowing anyone to disagree with you". Well, that is silly on its face because you certainly have the right to disagree with me, and the fact that you express it to me (I do allow you to submit comments for possible posting) shows you do and that I am not stopping you. What I can do, however, is stop the flow of poison. And allowing someone to sow strife on my own blog is something that I will never allow.

Do I disagree with people? Sure! But I tend to get along with all types. For example, I am no Pentecostal, nor am I an Arminian. Yet I do have friends of those persuasions. I have been friends with them and worked with them. Disagree? Yes!!! But we get along fine. However, it does take two to accomplish this and some folks just can't get along unless you fold and agree with them.

Another thing you can do to guarantee that you won't be "heard" is to complain about not being recognized. This is out and out childish. Frankly, I'm tired of whiners. If someone wants to do that, that's ok. Just don't expect me to tolerate it. I know that society has glorified whining but that is basically demonstrating discontentment and grumbling, which the Scriptures condemn. You say "where?" and I say "Sounds like a good study for you. Do it!"

You can also become unwelcome by asking a question (again, generally in a sarcastic tone) and refuse the answer because it wasn't "custom made for you". I have found evidence of this elsewhere. I think Ken Silva did a good job of dealing with what I'm talking about, search for his entry at this link. So, don't expect me to "reinvent the wheel" just to answer your question. If someone else has answered it, you're just going to have to accept the reality that I'm not going to drop what I'm doing and spend my time saying what has already been said. And if you have time to read what I would offer, you have time to listen to what I have read that led me to the conclusion I expressed.

This leads me to my next point, which is "Don't expect me to honor your presence here if you have demonstrated yourself to be rude elsewhere". As much as you might think, I am not stupid and when I see someone mistreating someone else and being generally rude, you can bet your reputation will precede you, just as in the above example.

In short, if I find you have an open issue somewhere else, expect it to be brought to light here. So, it's best to go back and mend your fences instead of coming here to tear another one down.

An even better way to be blocked here is to post an attacking comment on this blog because some one at "blog x" blocked it. This is really stupid if you know I frequent the other blog. It's also a waste of time because bloggers do sometimes communicate between each other and discuss comment threads. It's called mutual support. So, just because your post wasn't allowed somewhere else doesn't mean I am not aware of it. If it wasn't allowed somewhere else because it was an assault, you can do the math and probably come up with the correct answer as to whether or not it will be posted here. And you can avoid making yourself look very foolish to me even if no-one else knows.

Besides, posting an attacking comment on this blog because it was blocked on another blog is unacceptable because we don't allow off-topic comments. And of course, that would be considered commandeering a thread, which has also been covered.

Then, of course, we just love it when someone repeatedly makes an accusation such as "You guys just throw the Bible at people and don't care about being a friend or meeting a need" then maintaining said point in the face of repeated statements and evidence to the contrary. If you don't really want to accept what is said in response, are you really looking for a conversation? I really don't think so, nor would most other people.

Of course, there are those who take this a step further and then try to refute a position with irrelevancies. No, I've got better ideas as how to use my time than reading the 'comment' analyzed in this post.

Finally (at least for now) there are those who would, "out of humility", attempt to not only direct the conversation but give instructions on how to say what we have to say. An employee of Purpose Driven actually did that here. He doesn't come around any more. See a comment at this link dated November 27th at 2:14 am for an illustration. If you really feel a need to not only control what we say but how we say it, you'd probably get more out of a conversation with yourself. . ..

This blog exists for me to express what I think. Anyone has the right to disagree. No question. But I have the right to moderate what is posted. Not everyone gets this point. I had one person even suggest that if I don't allow all comments (implied, his), I should allow none. This is how utterly silly and immature it gets.

You don't like what I have to say? Disagree? Then ask for an explanation. I'll give you the best answer I can. If you are really ticked off at me for something I said and just feel you have to work out your aggressions, I would encourage you to start your own blog. You know, something where you express your opinions publicly and allow others to disagree.

Otherwise, all whining comments will be assigned to the nursery (trash).

And keep posted, I may be updating this post with links to examples throughout the first day of this post.

To the rest of you, I look forward to your future visits and conversation.


Alan said...

Amen, I think I shall link to this post!

Tim Brown said...

Hi Alan!

You should have been on my end of this blog when I started posting the RULES down the left of the page a few months ago...