Monday, October 02, 2006

10 Rules of Etiquette for Blog Debates

Have you ever experienced the nervousness of speaking before a large or unfamiliar crowd and feel your heart beat quickly, your mouth dry up, and your mind race as you try to get a grip on your emotions?

Those who are familiar with public speaking find that this kind of apprehension is normal --- at first. Though it never fully goes away, as the speaker becomes more comfortable in the setting, the emotion of nervousness will abate.

I think that is probably also the case with some of the emotion in the dialogue and debate on blogs. I realize that there have been some very angry and harsh responses to posts and comments among some Southern Baptists, but I believe that over time, as everyone gets comfortable with the idea of debate and dialogue via the internet, the emotional level will lower to a more typical and normal range.

In fact, I think that is already taking place. Those who have been involved in the debate for several weeks or months are finding their emotions moderating as they respond. Disagreement will never disappear, but when our convention gets used to free and open debate on issues we will find the discussion to be more courteous and respectful with far less acrimony and hostility.

A Lesson from History

Throughout Baptist history the practice of open debate to address and resolve complex issues, including false accusations of heresy, has been part of the fabric of our existence. In fact, the Baptists in 17th Century England called for open debate, which they called "Public Disputations," in order to address the accusations made by other evangelicals that Baptists were heretics. Dr. McBeth writes:

"Perhaps no group in England made more use of public disputations than did Baptists. Between 1641 and 1700 at least 109 such public debates involving Baptists were held in England, with 79 of these between 1641 and 1660. These debates pitted one or more Baptist champions against opponents from Anglican, Quaker, Independent, or, sometimes, Roman Catholic groups. Baptists welcomed these occasions, for they gave opportunity for declaring the gospel to large crowds, helped defend Baptists against unjust slanders, and often led to numerous conversions and the planting of new churches. Many leading Baptists of that time were converted at public disputations, such as John Tombes, Henry Jessey, and Christopher Blackwood. All of these became popular disputation leaders themselves, along with other Baptists such as William Kiffin, Jeremiah Ives, and John Bunyan"

H Leon Mcbeth. The Baptist Heritage -- Four Centuries of Baptist Witness (Broadman Press 1987), 64-65.

Rules of Etiquette for Blog Debates

Someone should probably come up with 10 Rules of Etiquette for Blog Debates. All of us can be sharpened by the comments of others as iron sharpens iron, and even more exciting, people may truly be transformed by the power of the gospel as we discuss the beauty and nuances of the good news in a public setting.

I'm wondering if Southern Baptists might actually make a contribution to blogging debates by coming up with a list of etiquette rules that the blogging community would willingly follow. The internet has a way of policing itself, and if a good set of rules could be generally agreed upon, and an individual violated them, then the blog community would ignore that person's posts or comments.

I would like to give it a try.

List Your Most Important Rules of Etiquette Here

I would like your suggestions regarding the most important rules of etiquette for debate on the blogs. Let's see if we can't come up with a Baptist community effort to establish some rules. I'll poll some people (and feel free to offer your comments about other people's rules as well) and we'll see if we can't come up with some good rules of etiquette for both posts and comments.

I look forward to your hearing your wisdom.

In His Grace,



Dori said...

Oh goody. You know I like rules. My suggestion is going to specifically relate to a few categories:

Asking and answering questions on a blog.

1. If someone asks a question directly to a blog author. The blog author should be allowed to respond to the question on their own behalf rather than people chiming in with "well I think so-and-so would say". I am guilty of doing this, but think it is better just to let the person asked answer the question.

2. If your question is not to the blog author, only ask questions to others who have already commented in that comment string. To ask questions to people who may not have even read the post expects everyone to be reading all the blogs many times a day just to see if there is a question out there for them. This is unfair to both the author of the blog and the unsuspecting person being questioned, as people may begin to assume that silence in response means guilt, apathy or ignorance.

Don't Hijack the Blog:

1. Help the blog author's comment string stay on track. Don't encourage bunny trails. Do your best to respond to the main post primarily, and then only other comments in the string as they are relevant to the main post.

2. If you find yourself in a back and forth discussion with someone of more than 3 comments to each of you, check to be sure it isn't something that could be discussed on your own blog, or in an e-mail correspondence. I have found in reading that after the 3 comment limit usually only minute points of debate are being discussed that others are probably skimming over to get to other commenters in the string who are discussing the main post.

Well, that's my suggestions. I could go on for days, being an attorney and all. Hey, I could probably write the whole blogging etiquette book and have it on everyone's desk in triplicate by next Sunday. But ... I won't. :)

Kevin Bussey said...


Todd Rhoades at MMI has this list here

1. Each blog you visit is the internet "home" of someone.

2. Any attack on a blog is a public attack.

3. It takes time to type so people will judge you a little tougher.

4. A sign of maturity is the ability to delay gratification.

5. Look up the term Ad Hominem.
I'll do the work for you:

6. You can be both true and Wrong at the same time!

Taran said...

In SBC blogs, I would make the following ammendment to Godwin's Law "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving liberals or fundamentalists approaches one."


Bill Scott said...

1. Value diversity of opinions especially diversity within a commonly accepted framework (broad boundaries of scriptural interpretations, 1st, 2nd, 3rd Tier doctrines)

2. Avoid personal attacks when argumentation and advocacy tactics are weak or without logical justification. (Argue the facts in love)

3. Examine your heart. Remember that once your post is submitted it will be read by many and possibly used against you later. Always examine your motives before you post. Ask yourself if your post is based on solid biblical principles and what I have written will be defensible in two years.

4. Make contributions to a debate based on pricipal or conviction. Never do so out of bitterness, envy, spite or desire for conflict.

5. Make your contributions as if you were face to face with someone. Prentend that you are not insulated by time and distance.

6. Go with the "flow." The Blog Author sets the tone with a post. Stay on task or subject. Try to avoid disruptive or divisive rebuttals especially if they violate the flow of the discussion or debate. Are you addressing the issues at hand?

7. Drop the mask. Sign your name. Putting your name on a post is like a firm hand shake. It will speak volumes to those you wish to influence with your input or discussion.

8. Know when to be silent. God will give you many opportunites to remain silent. When prompted may we take all of those opportunities. Make sure your contribution is meaningful.

9. Clarify before you assume. If you have ought with your brother go to him first before you broadcast your condemnation to the entire world. Don't be afraid to ask a question of clarification. You know what happens when WE assume. :-)

10. Remember that all knowledge does not reside within the vacuum between your ears. Consideration of opposing viewpoint will go a long way in decreasing friction.

Paul said...

Saw this on Kevin Stilley's blog and thought it was germane to the topic:
"Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events; Small minds discuss people."
-- Eleanor Roosevelt, quoted on Following An Unknown Path

dave said...

Bloggers should allow comments to their posts. They obviously want the posts to be read.

I (for one)will be more likely to stop and read if I am allowed to interact with the post.

(Regardless of whether I actually post a comment).

Not allowing comments gives the impression that the blogger is:

1.a know-it-all
2.has a weak argument
3.has ego and esteem issues (and thus wouldn't take to kindly to criticism)

Please know I am not singling any one blogger out. I have encountered this phenomenom numerous times as my interests take me at times outside the Baptist circle.

Blessings to all,


Bryan Riley said...

1. Pray before writing a post or replying with a comment and ask God to give you wisdom and to season your words.

2. Meditate on Ephesians 4:29-32, well, how about the entire chapter and 5:1.

3. Ask God whether the words you have written (before hitting the publish button) reflect the attitude of Christ and will be a witness to His love in your life.

4. Remember always who your enemy is: Satan. Resist him. The people who write the posts and comments, including yourself, are not the enemy you need to fight.

5. Read the other published comments to the post, if any, before you comment.

6. Be succinct, but remember that cold text is often difficult to follow unless well crafted.

7. If you are in doubt about the Christ-likeness of what you have written, seek advice first about your words, and not just from someone who always agrees with you. If still in doubt, then don't publish it.

8. Remember that your heart is deceitful above all things and but for the grace of God is desperately sick.

9. Don't use others' words or betray confidences (or you will never lose your bad reputation).

10. Practice hospitality - philoxenia - brotherly love for strangers - and welcome to your blogosphere all, showing them love, truth and respect without regard to their conduct. This doesn't mean not to correct inappropriate behavior, with gentleness, but it does mean to show unconditional love for all who would enter.

Marty Duren said...

1. Check your heart.
2. Check your facts.
3. Check your writing.
4. Check your theology.
5. Check your motives.
6. Check your intent.
7. Check your content.
8. Check "allow comments" button.
9. Do a gut check.
10. Double check all the above.

Bob Cleveland said...

1) 1Thessalonians 3:12: And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you:

2) Galatians 6:10: As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

3) John 13:35: By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

4) 1 Peter 3:4: But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.

5) 1 Peter 2:1: Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.

6) 2 Timothy 2:14: Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers.

7) Colossians 4:6: Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

8) Ephesians 4:15: But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

9) Ephesians 4:32: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.

10) 2 Timothy 2:16: But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.

irreverend fox said...


Also, engage in order to learn, not make converts. Be open minded and really read what is saying. if unconvinced then say so and give your reason why. I think too many people come in already convinced that Wade is a drunk or that Marty is a closet liberal or whatever. Engage in order to learn, not attack.

Paul Burleson said...


I'm not sure this qualifies as a rule. It may be just a procedure, but it has been helpful to me and to others, since if I hadn't done it, they would have felt the negative energy. [ie, they would have been blasted.]

But I've determined I can't do what Marty suggests, and good suggestions they are, without writing in longhand/typing my comment on a tablet/sheet of paper first. Then, as I reflect on it, I can come to some reasonable judgement as to it's nature/character, and whether or not it is God honoring and people respecting.

The reason this helps me is because I've discovered the internet is NOT dialogue/conversation in the true sense of the word, but rather, it is stating a position, [even if it is in response/comment form] and that it is not really hearing where the other person is or what they are saying. It is stating what I think. More reflective of preaching/teaching.

As a result, you have several threads of thought/issues going in the same conversation. Which would, of necessity, demand a more civil/respectful attitude than most communication would need, because we're not really hearing one another, we're telling one another.

It takes a great deal of character to wait in say what you want to say so you can hear the other person. Blogging does not lend itself to that waiting/wanting to hear the other person. It is by nature "telling" instead of "listening" hence my longhand sheet helps me, at least, to hear myself and how I "sound".

Maybe this is too simplistic, but it helps me.


Paul Burleson said...


That "sheet" should read "wordpad". Just shows how old fashioned my laguage is. :)


Wes Kenney said...

I would amplify Bill Scott's #7. Anonymity should only be acceptable on SBC blogs if it protects missionaries or their families in sensitive areas. And even then, the person needing this protection should reveal themselves to someone they trust who would then vouch for them.

This is a service that you (Wade), as an IMB trustee, could provide. Those needing anonymity could email you, using their true identity, and you could then tell us that "screenname" needs to be anonymous but should be viewed as credible.

Pseudonyms and unidentifiable half-names (such as "mike") are not helpful as we wrestle with weighty issues in our convention.

RKSOKC66 said...


Your idea is great.

I have to find out if it is possible to use drag and drop so I can "compose" a comment in, for example, Microsoft Word and then drag it into the comment window on someone's BLOG. That way I am much more likely to take time and avoid just blowing off steam. Also, since Microsoft Word has a spelling checker and does some "grammar checks" maybe my comments would be more presentable.

I agree with the rules the previous commentors have stated. My bottom line "argue issues don't denigrate people or use 'guilt by association' tatics"

Roger K. Simpson
Oklahoma City said...

Everyone so far is on topic and offering wonderful suggestions.

Nathan Finn said...

This is a good discussion to have. I think all of the heart stuff is very helpful, but only a start. The rules of non-blog debates should also apply in blogging. We have a professor here who uses samples from comment threads to illustrate all of the types of logical fallacies. Almost every blogger I have read (myself included) has at some point used flabby arguments, straw men, ad hominem, category errors and red herrings, even if unwittingly. So I think it is important that we strive to be both above-board in personal integrity/motives/godliness and appropriate in the methods we use in carrying on a blog debate.

Dori said...

I agree with Paul and Roger about taking the time to be sure it is what you want to say. This has helped keep me from having to go back and delete later on several occasions. Also, I think spelling is critical. Double check for spelling, grammar and capitalization.

I will be honest that I give more credence to an argument if it does not have grammatical errors. I do understand that we all make mistakes. I'm not being judgmental (note there is no "e" between the g and m in judgment), I just appreciate the attention to detail that shows one cares enough about one's position to state it clearly and correctly.

C. T. Lillies said...

I just have a few, but I think they would kill a lot of clutter.

1. As a general rule, don't allow anonymous comments. This applies to folks who set up blogger accounts but have no blog.

2. Reciprocity. If a person does not allow comments on their blog then they should refrain from commenting.

Generally these one and two are looking for trouble.

3. Remember that humans are going to wrong from time to time and you are one. Specifically, don't be afraid to humble yourself and apologize.

Otherwise I think Christian bloggers especially should hold them selves to a high standard of conduct. Not that I've always done that but I've also been convicted about vitriolic or harsh posts and gone back and deleted them.

Much Grace

C. T. Lillies said...

Oh yeah and always preview before you post.


Aquila Staff said...


I guess I'm not as in depth as everyone else. My rule would be if you write something then have the integrity to sign your name.

And if you wouldn't want your momma to read it (with your name attached) then don't write it.


SigPres said...

1. Edit out any personal attacks. Disagree with ideas, don't draw conclusions about people.
2. Don't make assumptions.
3. Stay on the subject. Just because the author of the blog has started a new subject, don't make comments about a subject from another time, another place, another blog.
4. Do you have your own blog? Perhaps some credibility could be added to your comments by referencing your own blog so people can see everything you've had to say on the subject being discussed and can understand where you are coming from. It makes it harder to be hypocritical.
5. Follow scriptural principles for disagreement.
6. Don't make threats.
7. Don't stir up trouble. I've heard stories about people copying selected blog comments or message board statements and emailing them to church leaders in the church where an individual serves on staff or pastors.
8. Be Christlike, and obedient to the scriptural principles for debating brothers and sisters in Christ.
9. Don't question someone's salvation experience.
10. Limit your responses to one comment on what the blog author wrote, and perhaps one additional comment in response to what someone else said.

LivingDust said...

I believe we can contribute our views and opinions on important issues affecting the SBC without accusing, critizing or confronting another brother or sister in Christ.

My contribution to the suggestion box regarding "Rules of Etiquette for Blog Debates" is this:

If a blog commentator is going to mention the name of another person in a blog comment stream, whether it be for praise or criticism, they are to contact that person by email or telephone call to notify them that their name is going to appear in a comment stream of a blog.

I think this would lead to a more thoughtful commentaries and civility in the blogsphere.

Wayne Smith said...

Wade and All,

Great suggestions on Blog rules, as we are all guilty of being sandpaper at one time or other. We need to be sandpaper for the Lord and His Honor and Glory (His Body).
When you use MSWord or others for writing and then copy paste for posting of comments, make sure the punctuation is okay in your comment after pasting. Sometimes I make errors because of poor eye sight (macular degeneration).

In His Name

Wayne Smith

Paul said...

Two rules I personally try to follow:
1. Read what you've written before clicking on the "publish comment" button. If something in your gut tells you "don't press that left mouse button!" then listen to your conscience.
2. If you click on the "publish comment" button and things start to spin and your post is rejected for one reason or another (server busy, for example), perhaps that is a sign from God that you should leave it alone. Sometimes God does work in mysterious ways. ;)

Dori said...

I disagree with Lee's rule #10. If I limited comments on my blog to one or two per person on each topic, it would be quite the ghost town as I don't have that many commenters.

I partially disagree with Living Dust's rules about contacting a person before you mention them at all. First of all I don't have President Bush's e-mail address or phone number. Oops ... I just mentioned him. I can see times where names could be mentioned and contacting the person would be overkill.

However, if you are going to post interrogatories to someone on a random blog (which however breaks the rule from my first comment on this string), I do think it would be civil to at least let the person know the questions or comments are out there.

irreverend fox said...

I type all my comments in Word and then copy and past it here. It helps me with speel check and for some reason it helps me say what I want to say. It's one more filter...with an impulsive missions guy like me, with a prophetic type personality...that's helpful! NOW REPENT!

GeneMBridges said...

These are our rules at Strange Baptist Fire. I duplicated them from our rules at Triablogue, tweaking them for the SBF community.

1. We will not make it our business to attack your character. We ask you accord us the same courtesy. Unless you believe us to be unregenerate or vice versa, you have no reason to do such a thing, and even then, we are told to love our enemies (Matt. 5:43-44). Let’s comport ourselves with integrity, since this isn’t a blog where unbelievers will be visiting much. On the other hand, remember, some may, so be on your best behavior. You are a guest. Remember Leviticus 19:17,18.

2. If you post, you are asked not to harrass, spam, troll, etc. You are invited to respond in a constructive, well thought out manner.

3. Expletives, abbreviated or not, will not be tolerated. Ad hominem invective, as a substitute for reasoned argument, is unacceptable. The meta is not a place to turn into your parallel universe where you get to say whatever you wish without impugnity.

4. Do not twist, distort, or misrepresent the truth in violation of the 9th commandment. If you say “You’re a Unitarian” or "You're a Moderate/Liberal" or some other such insult that has theological basis in particular (this one is not, for our readers, one they have used, it is just an example) show your supporting argument.

5. Do not argue by assertion, argue by demonstration. Do not quote Bible verses as if they prove your position, unless they are so explicit that it is easy to see. In other words, simply quoting the “all” passages or somesuch won’t cut it. Likewise, quoting the use of “world” won’t cut it. These are points at issue, and you need to be able to make your case.

6. If an exchange in the meta grows lengthy, then proper blog etiquette has for most of us been simply to start a blog of your own to help facilitate the exchange and not coopt entire threads. Please do not be insulted if you are asked to do this in the event you post repeatedly long posts, particularly if you post the same material over and over. I say this as one known for his long posts. I try not to repeat myself, and, if you pay attention, I rarely visit a comment thread on a blog multiple times to post multiple posts to carry on a discussion.

7. Strange Baptistfire (or Insert Name of Website here) is not a host-site where you can come to revisit an old grudge match between you and a second-party, or between a second-party and a third-party, who is not the topic of the post in question. If you have a personal beef with somebody, contact him directly. Don’t go using Strange Baptistfire (or Insert Website Name here) as a platform to take potshots from behind the bushes of a second-party blog.

8. Likewise, do not go to Triablogue or Veritas Redux to pick a fight with Evan or myself or to Timmy’s blog or Nathan’s blog.

9. Mean emails to a blogger’s church or pastor are unacceptable. If you believe us guilty of heresy and choose to go to our churches or pastors, then be prepared to document your charges with two or three witnesses, etc. Also be prepared to present yourself before the leadership of said churches in person. What is said here stays here, on your blog if you start one, or on a third party’s blog, where we can both go to respond in the meta there, if we so choose.

10. We reserve the right to respond to any comment or not respond. Do not assume a failure to respond means we have no response.

11. Email us comments and questions. As long as the questions are of general interest, we reserve the right to post the questions and answers—while honoring the anonymity of the correspondent.

12. Speaking for myself, I will not entertain spam emails, rants, and other such items. In the spirit of openness, this means if necessary, I will, speaking strictly for myself, post the contents of emails if they display a pattern of abuse, mean-spiritedness, misrepresentation, unresponsiveness, or willful ignorance. This is to draw your attention to the way you sound, and I say this because I respect you and believe you capable of better behavior, but sometimes it is necessary to do such a thing to make a point.

13. Learn to apologize. I’m sure I speak for us all when I write that this goes for the staff here as well. Accept and offer apologies with grace and dignity.

14. There is no particular word limit to my knowledge (unless Wordpress is set up otherwise). You can post links—but not to porno sites (sad to say, but we have to say this in this day and age)! You can post secondary material as long as it doesn’t infringe on copyright. If you are going to quote a whole article, link to the article itself to avoid doing this. We can quote in our articles, but we have to mind the length of the meta. Please understand this limitation.

15. For all (Insert brand name here, eg. Baptists/Southern Baptists or Calvinists, or premillenialists, or whatever theme your blog represents) here especially, we are not “Pod People” here. A lurker or commenter who is not “one of us” should not be made to feel that he has strayed into enemy territory and needs to keep his head down lest he get it blown off.

16.We operate on the honor code to start. Please behave accordingly.

17. Posting comments is a privilege, not a right. This privilege can be abused and revoked. Abuse it and lose it.

Tim Rogers said...

Brother Wade,

Did you say 10 or 17? I think I can come up with 40 or 50? :>)


LivingDust said...


For clarification, the requirement for a commentator to notify a person when they post that persons name in the comment stream is so that the person who is being brought into the comment stream can respond if so inclined and dispel any rumor or error.

BTW, President Bush's email address is

I burst out laughing when I read your opening sentence - "Oh goody. You know I like rules." - Are you one of those folks who knows every bylaw by memory at the church business meeting?

Dave Miller said...

Rule #1: Everyone should agree with me.

Rule #2: If you disagree with me, see rule #1.

Dave Miller said...


Was that in the spirit of this debate?

Dori said...

Living Dust -

I am one of those folks who gets appointed chairperson of the Bylaws and Constitution Committee. Which we just finished revising. So yes, at this moment I am very aware of the church bylaws, though don't have them completely memorized. :)

And I'm just not sure about your notification rule yet. It would really cut into my sense of humor if I had to e-mail Wade, Marty, Art, Ben, Kevin, Jeremy R., Tim, Wes or Brad every time I was going to joke with them a little bit on my blog. Could I do one blanket e-mail to everyone I might mention saying "be sure to read my blog daily, you never know when your number will come up for a little bit of silliness"?

Chuck Bryce said...

Respond to someone or "correct" them the way you would want to be corrected. Corollary 1: If you are a nasty person correct them the way you would correct your Mother! Corollary 2: If you are nasty to your Mother then...

CB Scott said...

There are five rules for blogging as there are five rules for survival in ministry.

1 Trust no one.

2 Never be in any situation you cannot leave in 15 minutes or less.

3 Never show your hold card.

4 Always negotiate from the strong position.

5 If you find yourself in trouble check rule number one. You have probably broken it.

The above rules will not only work for bloggers and ministers, but also for career criminals and professional mercenaries.

I share these tried and true rules due to the fact that lately blogging has become a very hazardous endeaver. All these flamers flaming around with their reckless ethics, absence of honor, and lack of integrity.


texasinafrica said...

To quote my eighth-grade algebra teacher: Assume nothing - at least with respect to the audience/other commenters. You don't know that they believe what you believe, and you don't know whether you might learn something from them.

GeneMBridges said...

Remember Paul in Romans 14. Part of his teaching on food sacrificed to idols and the divisions it was causing/had caused/would cause/had caused elsewhere (Corinth)--by the way, what does that say about the propensity of us to argue with each other, but I digress--is what I call the "It isn't all about you principle." In short, when you argue amongst yourself, consider what outsiders think about Christ and the church. If you're arguing amongst yourself just like the pagans do, then why should they take anything you say seriously. In other words:

Imagine unbelievers are watching closely. What kind of testimony are you giving? Why should they listen to what you have to say, if you can't produce a real alternative to the way they are living.

Incidentally...prayer request time. Some of you all met me @ the SBC. I'd appreciate your prayers. As you know, I'm missing part of my right ear. Today, I had a biopsy done for skin cancer. I'll be getting the results in a few days. Thx.

CB Scott said...


Those of us that know you or have read your work love you and greatly admire you. We thank God for the gift of a great mind He has given you.

I am sure all of the brothers and sisters of Blog Town will most certainly hold you up to our blessed Lord in prayer. If I can be of help to you email me:



Bowden McElroy said...

Two thoughts: 1) Use trackbacks so the rest of us can more easily keep track of where the conversation is occurring. If your blogging software doesn't allow for trackbacks you can add it by going to

2) Don't be afraid to ask for clarification. A lot of trouble can be saved by asking someone what they meant instead of assuming and arguing against what you thought they meant.

Kevin said...

1. Be concise; avoid the "filibuster." Normally if a comment is too long I scroll down without reading it. If two people keep commenting and debating each other with multiple entries I also do the same thing.

Jess Connell said...

I tend to go with the "keep it simple" line of thought...

#1- Let your words be seasoned with grace. If your comment could not be described as gracious and believing the best about someone (1 Cor.13), don't post it!

#2- Read back over your comment thoughtfully before you post it. If you would not want it printed in the newspaper with your name attached to it, don't print it! Does this comment help frame the discussion or is it just a favorite rabbit trail or soapbox for you? If the comment enflames or raises the volume level of the conversation, you need to be certain your approach has been biblical and gracious (see rule #1). (there are circumstances where good healthy debate is needed- it just must be done graciously).

There are others that could be added, I'm sure... but I think if just these 2 rules were followed, most comments would be WELL within the parameters of kindness and good, honest, helpful, and Christ-honoring debate.

Nomad said...

The trouble with being on the other side of the world is that I am asleep when all the good comments get made! I had some really good ones, but by the time I finished reading the comment list, all "mine" were taken, or said better by someone else.

Now, if we would all just abide by them, Blogtown might be a better place.

LivingDust said...


Oh, now you want all of us to abide by them.

Trouble causer.

Dori said...

Living Dust -

Not to worry. Now that the brainstorming session is nearing an end, Wade will need to compile all these ideas into a proposed set of 10 Rules of Etiquette. Then he will need to post it and allow at least a three day time frame for review and comment as to wording.

Then he will need to do a second version incorporating all those comments. After that, the 10 rules will need to be printed out and forwarded to the Memphis Declaration signers and the Joshua Convergence Affirmation people (i.e. the Blogger bicameral system) to have it reviewed for approval. Once both the M.D. and J.C. versions come out of their respective subcommittees on blogging rules, an independent committee of entity heads who blog (Mohler, etc.) must combine all comments into the final document.

This document will then be returned to Wade for one final posting on his blog and have a comment review window of at least two weeks. If this version is approved by a majority of the bloggers commenting during that time frame, then the 10 Rules of Etiquette for Blog Debates will be brought before a designated meeting of Bloggers at next year's convention for approval. However, this would probably be considered an amendment to the SBC Blogger Constitution and would thus need to be voted on and approved again at a subsquent annual meeting. The Rules of Etiquette would then go into effect the following year.

So as I see it, we won't have to behave ourselves for a good three years yet. :)

RKSOKC66 said...


As an attorney you could do the SBC BLOGGING community a great service by making sure that the vetting process includes a check to make sure all proposed regulations pass constitutional muster.

I don't know if there have been test cases or not regarding abridgment of BLOGGER rights.


Ray said...

I think the most general rule ought to be to stick with the issue rather than personally attack people.

GeneMBridges said...

Incidentally, if you've not read it, Dr. Roger Nicole, probably one of "the" Baptist theologians of our current time, has an interesting article that y'all may find useful:

It's also the first article in the book The Collected Works of Roger Nicole.

I highly recommend folks read both.

And thank you for your prayers. I'll let y'all know something when I know something. The good news is that it might not be skin cancer because the wound has gotten smaller (problem is it's been there for 4 years!) and I can have reconstructive surgury on my ear. Of course, if it's cancer, I'll have to have more of my ear removed.

Ah well, "He that hath an ear to hear let him hear!"

Robert Hutchinson said...

this has nothing to do with the current blog topic. forgive me if i've broken a rule. :)

however, it does half to do with the alcohol discussion.

i was reading the comparison chart on the sbc website between the '25, '63' & '00 bf&m's. while reading the article entitled "baptism & the lord's supper" the '25 bf&m referenced WINE as the beverage used for the lord's supper.

to quote...

"...the Lord's Supper, in which the members of the church, by the use of bread and wine, commemorate the dying love of Christ" ('25 bf&m).

did everybody else know this or am i just slow? does this make much difference in the debate about alcohol as a beverage?

on one hand the sbc was making abstinence resolutions before and after '25 and yet the bf&m specifically references the use of wine for the lord's supper.

maybe noone else will...but i find that somewhat interesting.

apparently, it was okay to have a cup of wine when eating the lord's body (with the whole church of all people) but not when eating the lord's beef.


Paul Burleson said...


Good thought Guy put forth in my way of thinking. It reminds me of a story about a little girl upset because her mother always had something good to say about every body and everything.

In her frustration with Mom she blurted out..."I think you'd find something good to say about the devil." Her Mom thought a moment and replied, "well you would have to say he's a persistent fellow."

I thought that was cute...I'm not making any appl.....just a joke.......... :( sorry.


Rex Ray said...

“The best thing about a good rule is to know when to break it.” That’s a quote from my father and I believe there is some wisdom in that.

I think all the good rules have been given except the best one. (ha) In light of the growing tendency of Baptist rules reaching the number of Pharisees, I’d say, don’t have too many rules.
Rex Ray

Bart Barber said...

If Kevin's rule about being concise is adopted, I'm out of business (present comment excepted). said...


Thou art perceptive with a sense of humor.

Don't lose either quality.


Alycelee said...

I have to admit, unlike Dorcas, I don't really like rules :( perhaps it's the rebel in me, but I do perfer being civil and ask God to help me to perfer others over myself.

For me, the #1 offence is bringing our own agenda.
I believe we should leave it at home.
If we are charismatic, its ok to reference it, (providing it pertains to the post) but don't recruit or quote scripture with the intent to win others over.
If we are cessationist, (within the same provision) it's ok to reference it, but this is no place to recruit.
If we are Calvinist... yada yada.
I just get a little weary of endless attempts and long post of scripture from one trying to win me over to their side, then right afterward another long post of scripture from another with a complete different viewpoint.

It's fine to be who we are in God, to speak who we are, to testify to who we are in the context of the post, but our motives are key. I believe our motives are not to win people to doctrine, our motives are to win people to the Lord Jesus Christ. He will begin the process through the Holy Spirit to teach them all things. In that fact, I have great confidence.

Bryan Riley said...

cb scott, are you serious with your comment?

CB Scott said...


Please wash your t-shirt:-)


Especially when dealing with ex-chicken company lawyers recently turned missionaries:-)

Extremely serious about the rules. Would you like the exposition on them? Wade has heard it. I shared it with him in Memphis.

I will be glad to share it with you, Bryan. You will need it now that you are in vocational ministry. Just let me know and with Wade's OK I will share with you that which will assure your survival in ministry:-)


Jess Connell said...

This blogsite is examining this same issue- he offers 6 general observations about this phenomena of commenting, etc.

It's worth a gander.

Bryan Riley said...

I'd love to hear, CB! Is it along the lines of Jeremiah 17??

Rex Ray said...

One more rule;
When replying to someone’s question, copy paste the question (or write it) in your reply before you answer. That way, the reader will connect the dots and most important the writer will not wander off on some subject that does not answer the question.
Rex Ray

Cally said...

It's just like a Southern Baptist to create rules for something that doesn't need them. You are talking about an exciting and dynamic medium of communication. Folks can determine for themselves which responses to accept, and which to put in the trash can. This is probably where mine is going.

Contributers: said...

May a Charismatic Brother offer an idea? I've participated in several forums, blogs, and debates. As a Charismatic, and having pastored in the past, I thought it would be interesting to participate in the "pastors discussion" forum on the Strang (Charisma Magazine) website. After only a short while, I ceased posting any aritcles or responses. The vast majority of posts were by people who were not pastors. And many posts were by Anti-Charismatic "missionaries" posting on the site to try to straighten out us poor heretical Charismatics. To be a non-pastor on a "pastors discussion forum," at a Charismatic site is bad enough, but to also be not only non-Charismatic, but passionately Anti-Charismatic, is a double lie. I don't believe for a moment that Christ is glorified when we deliberately lie to our own brethren.
Most of the comments on that site are argumentative, insulting, cutting, and anything but representative of Christ. Debate is one thing. Being shouted down by a howling mob is another.
A fellow believer told me about another site (and this is not some attempt to advertise it, bear with me please). It is I clicked onto it, and I was very impressed. They have strict rules that ALL participants must follow, or they will recieve two warnings, followed by suspension for a year.
A couple of the rules: No personal attacks on each other. Pointing out areas of disagreement with national leaders is fine, but no insulting or derogatory comments are allowed. It is also specifically identified as a site where Charismatics may communicate with each other. Non-Charismatic brethren are welcome to read the posts, but if you are fanatically anti-Charismatic, please go elsewhere.
The rules do not hinder debate or questions, or the give and take that we all desire. But it does keep it civil. You might click on to that site, and look over the rules, and adapt some of them to fit your purpose for your site.
I am not Southern Baptist. I was once about 26 years ago. I still love my Baptist former pastor, and keep in touch with him. Having served as a pastor and in other leadership roles myself, I have come to appreciate the wisdom, love, sound doctrine, and consistent Christian testimony of my former pastor.
Eventually though, I found my home in the Charismatic branch of Christianity. I'm not Southern Baptist, but I'm certainly not Anti-Southern Baptist either. Since I am not Southern Baptist, I don't feel it would be appropriate for me to offer posts on the specific issues you debate. But I am reading them, and thinking on the different arguments that are offered. The only reason I posted this comment is that it is non-issue related, and it might prove helpful.
I still love the SBC and wish you brethren all well.
Kind Regards,
Broter Mel
Rev. Mel C. Montgomery

Jarka the Karka said...

Blogging--like journaling (offline)--helps to calm self because it forces one to 'commit to parchment' the cause/effect of one's emotions.

The interactivity of the Internet (similar to that of the Baptist 'disagreements') allows one to treat the reasons published as if they were 'one's own.' If another 'commits' something one would not 'commit' himself, disagreement naturally arises---as sure as I would disagree if someone decided to do something stupid in my name.

I don't know anything about '10 rules'---my mentor boiled down a similar set of rules into one rule (with two parts): Appreciate Others as if They Came from the Same Source You Appreciate as Your Own.