If you run a website like this one, you have to consider how you want to handle comments. I prefer letting my posts speak for themselves and allowing commenters to agree or criticize as they see fit. Regular readers know I welcome religious voices (or critical atheist voices, for that matter) and I remove trolls to the best of my abilities.
LifeSiteNews, a Christian website covering stories appealing to social conservatives (pro-life, anti-gay, you get the drift) has plenty of stories worth picking apart, but they’re not interested in a true dialogue. Their commenting guidelines actually state in writing how little they care about voices that disagree with them:
I’m all for thoughtful, respectful comments and I definitely understand a firm line on moderation. But I just don’t understand this:
LifeSiteNews gives priority to pro-life, pro-family commenters and reserves the right to edit or remove comments.
That’s a fancy way of saying “Don’t comment here unless you already agree with us.” Forget banning trolls; they don’t even want to see sane, well-thought-out ideas from people who want to provide an alternative, opposing perspective.
So I just have to ask: Why bother?
What’s the point of a comment thread if the invitation is basically extended only to those who already agree with you? Why write opinion pieces if you’re not looking to start a conversation? Wouldn’t you just be better off closing comments for good?
Incidentally, this came up only because reader Dennis told me he tried to post a response to this awful article, but his comment didn’t even go into moderation. He was banned from the get-go, it seems, because he’s an atheist who is known to disagree with the site’s views.
I’ve asked LifeSiteNews why they do this. I’ll update this post if I hear back.