This has been the hardest week for me since I have started engaging social media about eight years ago. I guess it comes with territory of writing online, and I have to understand that people will not always agree with me. To be honest, I am okay with that, because I really enjoy the conversation.
One of the things I did this week that spurred some really hateful comments toward me was moderating comments on this site. I can understand the confusion that some people might have, and even the frustration of having a thoughtful response deleted.
So I wanted to take time today to share why Prodigal Magazine moderates the comments, how it is done, and how we will commit to honoring everyone involved in the future.
Why Prodigal Magazine Moderates Comments:
I know it is not a very popular thing to moderate comments on a blog/online magazine. We understand that, but we want to be apart of making a safe community. Prodigal, from its beginning has been about the importance of people sharing their story. In waving the banner of storytelling, we invite our writers to be very vulnerable with their experiences.
Our writers have written about their experiences with abuse, past homosexual lifestyles and abusive or controlling relationships with the church. These experiences are still very sensitive, especially in some current Christian circles. All of the Prodigal writers are wounded and vulnerable people (but aren’t we all) and I’ve committed to them to create a safe place to share their story.
The articles that we write are not our opinions but our lives borne in front of you.
As the leader of this site and the community that is gathering around it, I feel charged to protect the vulnerability that is held with high value not only on this site, but in the Gospel.
Prodigal is not, and will not ever be about gathering the biggest number of page views or subscribers. We are about something greater than that.
When you “click into” this community you have a responsibility, one to listen to the diverse chorus of stories before you choose to disagree. We will die on the hill of, “seek to understand before you seek to be understood.”
If you choose to speak and engage in the conversations here in a way that belittles or dismisses the stories being told, you are choosing to revoke your privilege to this community. I think that we often forget that we are not entitled to everything we see on the internet. It is easy to forget, since we can so easily click on any site with immediate access. Participating in conversations online beg mature and responsible engagement to the people behind the usernames and avatars.
Bullies are not welcome here.
Prodigal holds a high value to truth, which I believe is shared by the many who have responded with great passion to articles we’ve featured. We hold to the belief that truth is best discovered in the midst of community.
I think it is easy for us to feel threatened by those who believe something different, especially if we have invested any bit of time or energy discovering and developing those beliefs, or if we’ve been hurt by people who believe differently than us. I am one of those people. It is easier for me to immediately discredit a person who believes something different from me, than it is to elevate others’ values to a place where I can dignify them and honor them.
After all we are all servants of the same master (Romans 14), and how silly it sounds for one servant to elevate himself to bring judgement on a fellow servant?
Lets all submit that in our humanity we all have a broken understanding of God, and we can best honor God and his children by choosing to recognize our brokenness and at the same time elevate the values that others hold.
We do not all have to agree this side of heaven. And we can take the pressure off ourselves to try to control others into believing the way that we believe. Lets honor those who see God from a different vantage point, rather than, with our anger, try to move them to see what we see.
How Prodigal Comment Moderating is done.
I was accused this week of only deleting the comments of those who hold traditional, conservative Christian beliefs.
This could not be further from the truth.
We moderate comments from both sides of the conversation. Like I said before, no bullies allowed. And according to what I see there are bullies in all camps. There are bullies in the reformed movement, and the feminist movement. There are conservative and liberal bullies. You get my point.
Here are a short, but not exhaustive list of reason we will moderate comments, so you can better understand:
- We will moderate comments if there is ever any name calling.
- We will moderate comments that show an argumentative nature.
- We will moderate comments and commenters who have displayed a disregard for the “seek to understand, before you seek to be understood” principle.
- We will moderate comments that leave Bible verses, without choosing to engage in a constructive conversation
Prodigal Will Commit to Honor Everyone
In the future we will do our best to e-mail you with an explanation if your comment is moderated, because we value the perspective everyone has and hope that we can hear all perspectives in an honoring way. We will however reserve the right to not e-mail if we receive a high number of comments that require our attention.
We will also commit to honor those who share stories here, and will block users from the website in the future if abusive commenters continue to step outside of the boundaries we have set in place.
I would like to sincerely apologize to anyone who was hurt by the moderating of comments without a more clear, and written explanation on our website. I take full responsibility for that. We will work to clarify better our stance through this post and a more clear comment policy in the coming weeks.
Thanks again for all your support, and for your voice. We love your story.
[Photo: Canned Muffins, Creative Commons]