After reader feedback requesting a more open comment policy at RNS, I'm happy to announce that you no longer have to register with a password or offer us your firstborn child to comment. I'm really pleased that we can widen the parameters of our discussions and have a variety of viewpoints, including ones with which I disagree. I appreciate all my readers, and believe that frank discussion about religion and other topics can help to create a better-informed society.
However, it's still not "anything goes." I've already received a spam comment -- you know the kind when someone says they just love your blog, but don't comment about any item in particular and then just happen to mention as an aside that they are selling the best purse EVER and you can buy it at . . . .
I'll be deleting all the spam I find.
I don't typically delete comments from actual people, however. At Beliefnet I think I only did this twice, and my policy as it evolved was that it was fine for people to call me names, pray out loud for my excommunication, or basically behave like trolls to my face. I can take it; anyone who writes publicly about religion has to expect a lot of trollish nastiness, sad to say. But I won't tolerate comments that gang up on other commenters at my blog. This needs to be a safe place for readers.
So here are three guidelines:
1) Comment away! Your opinion is welcome here. Thanks for taking the time to read my posts.
2) Aim to be civil. The people who come to this blog are just that -- people -- and need to be treated as such. Name-calling is bad form. (And just as a hint, it tends to alienate people who disagree with you and make them dig in their heels all the harder.) If you personally attack other commenters, your comment will be desaparecida.
3) Back up your opinions when you can. Last week after I posted about Mormons and homophobia, one of the commenters wrote, "As is typical with faddish, worldly philosophies the author makes a claim with no evidence whatsoever to back it up." Um, thanks! I agree that I didn't do all of the research I would have liked to for that post; I've been busy with travel and also popping the question to the fabulous Joanna Brooks, as another commenter suggested. (We are currently deciding whether to hyphenate.)
The irony, of course, is that the "worldly philosophies" commenter did precisely the same thing he or she accused me of doing: making an assertion without any proof (in this case, that "The evidence clearly points to homosexual men having a greater propensity to predatory acts towards children"). The "evidence" this person marshalled, however, was nonexistent, other than sweeping anecdotal claims about Roman Catholic priests. Comments are far more persuasive when people back them up.
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