You complimentary commenters on comments

So this is just a quick note of thanks to you who sometimes take the time to let people who have commented on my blog know that someone out there has actually heard them by replying to their comment. The fact that you guys do that as often as you do means a great deal to me. People leave some crazy good comments on my blog. Those on … well, I was going to say on my last post (about the Christian professor) were just exceptional—but then so were the comments on the Chad Holtz/Bible-as-cure-for-sex-addiction posts—as were the ones to the post about the gay guy from Lynchburg, and certainly also those to the post about the Christian frightened of pagans.

But for what I’m trying to say now it doesn’t matter if people leave giant, well-thought out Killer Comments or humbler, shorter statements. What matters is that they know someone out there actually read what they wrote. I spend a lot of time behind the scenes trying to ensure that the comment section of my blog remains a safe and respectful place for people to share, question, and discuss. But sometimes that doesn’t leave me enough time to reply to all the comments (thanks in no small part to the ever-crafty little contingent of trolls that have apparently been assigned to my blog from Fundie Central, if you can believe it). So it means a lot to me when you guys sort of step in, and just give a little word of encouragement to someone who’s written something that you can tell is important to them. Even if you criticize what someone has said, at least that person knows that someone has read and thought about what they wrote. And that matters. It’s important. What good is the Internet if nobody uses it to actually engage with anyone else?

I see you guys leaving those kind, short little supportive replies (and also the longer ones, of course); I really appreciate it; and I wanted to thank you for it. It’s the sort of thing that makes what we have going on here something substantive; it turns what could easily be just another blog into something more along the lines of a genuine, authentic community. Thank you for that.

Your friend, confidant, and troll-whacking ringmaster,

John

 

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is co-founder of The NALT Christians Project and founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here). His blog is here. His website is JohnShore.com. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • Shelley

    You make my heart smile, John Shore!

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      how lovely. thank you.

  • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

    Well I’ll be the first to say Thanks John. And then I wonder if you ever thought that your future would be partially spent playing the internet’s variation of whack-a-troll?

    Someone may need to get you a bigger mallet.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Never. I always thought I’d just write my stuff, send it to my agent, and start the next book.

      Not.

  • Carol VanderNat

    Go get ‘em, Troll Master!! And whack one for me!

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Har! I need this T-shirt:

      • Carol VanderNat

        HAHAHAHA!!!!!

      • Oz in OK

        John, you would totally rock that shirt. Just sayin’. :)

      • http://www.enesvy.com Nicole

        I would like to officially thank John for bringing the word “Har” back into my life. I’ve been using it for a while now and it makes me so happy! :D It’s such a hearty laugh.

  • Gordon

    I wish I had better trolldar. I usually end up finding out way too late, and after my blood pressure has shot up, that I’ve been played by someone who lives under a bridge.

    John, you are the supreme troll whacker. I sure appreciate it!

    • Melody

      I am the same way. I am very reactionary (both online and in real life) and am not very good at picking my battles. Oh well. At least it’s cathartic.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jesse.tee.9 boy jesse

    As i view things, leaving comments is the very LEAST that we can do and i dare say we are all greatly enriched and/or enlightened by the experience therein. Whether it is a comment that challenges us to view things from a different perspective we’d not considered before or a response to a personal story that an individual deeply identifies with, i believe that the vast majority of folks here truly DO care about their brothers and sisters here – regardless of personal belief systems.

    At the risk of sounding a bit sappy and Hallmark Card-y, it helps to restore my faith in humanity when i see that so many of us are able to see past our own upbringing, indoctrination, quasi-brainwashing, or what have you and we are able to focus on the things that are truly being communicated. These are real lives being shared, real experiences, real pain, real joy, real abuse, real rapture, real discrimination, and real salvation.

    The reality of others’ experiences may not always be easy to digest but i cannot help but feel that we are all the better for having taken at least a taste of it. How better to understand the trials and tribulations of others than by walking a little way in their footsteps (however vicariously)?

    In Leather,

    boy jesse

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      very nicely said, jesse. thank you.

      • http://www.facebook.com/jesse.tee.9 boy jesse

        You are MORE than welcome. And thank YOU, John! Your words and ministry are truly an inspiration!

    • Hannah Grace

      This touched me.

      “…it helps to restore my faith in humanity when i see that so many of us are able to see past our own upbringing, indoctrination, quasi-brainwashing, or what have you and we are able to focus on the things that are truly being communicated. These are real lives being shared, real experiences, real pain, real joy, real abuse, real rapture, real discrimination, and real salvation.”

      <3

      • http://www.facebook.com/jesse.tee.9 boy jesse

        Thank you, Hannah!

    • Stacy

      Nicely said!

      • http://www.facebook.com/jesse.tee.9 boy jesse

        Thank you, Stacy!

    • Jill

      excellent…thanks for that!

      • http://www.facebook.com/jesse.tee.9 boy jesse

        You are VERY welcome, Jill!

    • Melody

      Sometimes the Hallmark-y, sappy stuff is just what we need. Thanks, Jesse.

      • http://www.facebook.com/jesse.tee.9 boy jesse

        You are VERY welcome, Miss Melody!

  • http://www.sparrowmilk.blogspot.com Shadsie

    My comments can’t mean much. I just like the sound of the thoughts in my head, then I foolishly type them because that clackita-clackita sound on my keyboard is so soothing…

    Anybody remember troll-dolls? You know, those little dolls with wild hair and gems in their bellies? Trolls used to be cute. Then… the Internet happened.

    • Melody

      Yup. I definitely can’t visualize whacking the heads of troll dolls. Internet trolls, on the other hand…

      • http://www.sparrowmilk.blogspot.com Shadsie

        Imagine the Cave Troll from Lord of the Rings. Hope you have Sting ready, or at least a good Elven archer.

        • Melody

          Lol!! As I said quite recently to a friend, I am many kinds of nerd. That kind I am not. :-D (Although I am a huge Zelda fan. That might work.)

          • http://www.sparrowmilk.blogspot.com Shadsie

            Zeldaaaaaaa…. *gets starry-eyed*

            I’ve written a butt-ton of fanfiction for that series. Can link upon request.

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

            Zelda? I love Zelda. I am also a LOTR fan. Just wish internet trolls couldn’t be exposed to sunlight like in that series. It would make for more peaceful blog browsing.

          • http://www.sparrowmilk.blogspot.com Shadsie

            You think they’re ever exposed to sunlight? This is the Internet – they’re holed up typing away all day! (Alright, so am I, but I occasionally go outside for a walk or to go fishing).

            When I was playing through Skyward Sword I put a post somewhere on my blog comparing the Triforce to the concept of Free Will. If you’ve played through a number of Zelda games (like I have) it makes some sense! Really! Think about it! The Triforce was originally the “providence of the gods” left to mortals. According to Skyward, at least, “gods cannot touch or use it – the gods made something they themselves cannot use, it is to give mortals hope,” according to multiple games, it has the ability to grant wishes and, while the intent was for it to be a good thing, it’s existance has caused a whole lot of wars and suffering in the game-world’s historical setting because it’s not just people with good intent who want it, and even some of them can be corrupted by a lust for power.

            Wonder if it’s ’bout time I write another essay for Zelda Dungeon…

        • Oz in OK

          Lord of the Rings?? *fanboi SQUEEEEEE!*

          *ahem* Carry on. :)

    • Diana A.

      I like your comments. Just thought I’d share.

      • Don Rappe

        Me too.

  • Melody

    The Troll Whacker. Now that makes for a great twist on an old classic.

    • Elizabeth

      I have a job interview at 2 PM EDT, but surely someone can work on a joke with the word “whacker”. Then we’ll be ready for the next troll who slips in. http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=whacker

      • DR

        Good luck, sister!!

      • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

        Oh Good luck on the interview. I just got back into the wage drone status myself. Only part time, but better then zero time.

        Hope the interview is a resounding success.

  • jack

    I’m just thankful to have a place to come and share my heart. Thanks John Shore. And thanks for allowing your readers to lift one another up! Something that’s so lacking in many ‘christian’ circles these days. It seems that we’ve lost our sense of compassion, and want to make others sign statements, and conform to strict, unBiblical, and mandated roles. Before I found you, I was just about ready to chuck it all. I’d had my fill of ‘christians’, and felt there was no longer any room for a person like me within the accepted definition of that word. I’m surrounded by Piper fans, and under the ever watchful eye of denominational leaders who’ve lost the true Spirit of Jesus. It’s become more important to sign documents, and to swear to inerrancy, than it is to reach the lost with the love and compassion of Jesus. It’s become more important to believe that causes everything from earthquakes that kill thousands, and leaves junior and senior high school students without legs, or arms; to the tragedy of James Holmes!(And if ANYONE needed love and compassion in his life, right now it’s James. YES…the victim’s family do as well…I know!)

    Here I am again, holding forth too much, too long!!

    But I want to say that here at johnshore.com, we can be family and friends without a sense of judgement or condemnation. Thank you John!!

    • Elizabeth

      You’re right, of course. The whole country is trying to “figure out” James Holmes. There are so many mitigating factors, and the politicians and the NRA are accomplices. Those photos of the victims were SO powerful that strangers wept just looking at them. My Twitter and Facebook feeds were a nightmare that day. I’m not crazy about how major media covered the immediate aftermath, either. His poor mother, whatever she could’ve or should’ve done, telling the ABC News reporter “You’ve got the right person.” Chilling. Even big-name writers couldn’t produce anything right away. The Roger Ebert and Hugo Schwyzer pieces were solid. The July 21 op-ed in the NY Daily News was.

      The key is compassion. Forgiving James, specifically, is going to take a while.

  • Mindy

    While I love the idea of you out there troll-whacking on our behalf, I find it quite sad that you have to waste so much time on the pinheads. YOU deserve better.

  • Hannah Grace

    Thanks, John. It’s true…this little community means a lot.

  • Oz in OK

    It was the excellence of John’s posts that drew me here and keeps me here. It has been the excellence of the comments and discussions that draw me ‘outside the box’ of my own preconceived notions, which is awesome – even (and especially) when it’s me getting dragged, kicking and screaming, out of that box.

    Much appreciation to all!

    • DR

      me too!

  • Christine McQueen

    Gotta say, as much as I enjoy your blog posts, John, sometimes I simply skip right to the comments section because just the titles you choose can give me a clue as to what others are going to say. I always do go back and read the post, but sometimes I just want to see what others have to say about it ahead of time. Now I have to go find that one you mentioned that somehow I missed. (might have something to do with the fact that I stayed away from the internet for a few days while I was once again reliving my husband’s death. The 14th anniversary of that was this past Sunday.)

    • Marlene Lund

      Christine, I am so sorry for your loss. My sister was widowed 15 years ago, and she has shared that there are certain days or events that still put her back to the day she lost him. I pray that God has blessed you with love and friends in the intervening years and will continue to bring you comfort.

  • Lymis

    Thanks, John, for both creating the space for these conversations, and for taking the time to say this!

  • otter

    I wish the troll whacking was not confined to the cyber world. Imagine a strangling hand popping out of the screen………..

    • Mary

      LMAO!!

  • Dave McGee via Facebook

    John, so glad you are here!

  • Jill

    This blog is my sigh of relief. I guess square pegs can find matching holes in the blogosphere.

    The naughty pun is yours for free.

  • FishFinger

    A word of advice:

    Try to be reserved when it comes to deleting comments. Not every comment with an opposing opinion can be very nice, but deleting them may result in free speech and discussion being stifled. It is better to leave a few idiot or troll comments up than to risk your comment section becoming a circlejerk. Trust me, I’ve been to more than a few online communities and a circlejerk is pretty much the worst thing such a community can become.

    Excessive censorship can also give people the impression that you are a man who cannot take criticism. That can be damaging to your public image. A while ago, I posted a comment saying that using a stale internet meme in the title of your article is not witty. You replied with something like “I can use the written language however I want” and then deleted the whole comment thread. Now, I wasn’t “offended” or anything, but I was certainly taken aback by such a response to criticism.

    The only comments you should delete are spam. Maybe also those that contain personal threats or are solely comprised of insults with no points or arguments (not even fallacious ones).

    And yes, it’s your blog. Yes, you have the right to manage the comments any way you want. Nevertheless, I urge you to follow my advice and encourage an Internet with a diversity of viewpoints and opinions. Thanks.

    • Melody

      Exactly. It’s HIS blog. So don’t go telling him what he should and shouldn’t delete. (And yes, an internet troll IS an internet asshole. I shouldn’t feed you, but you really are full of yourself.)

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      I’m extremely reserved about deleting comments; if for no other reason than it takes time. (I only delete comments from obviously noxious people–which means they’re exactly the kind of people who will go apeshit over my having deleted their comment, which means they’ll then start bombarding my blog [and when that fails, my email] with their righteous indignation that I dared delete their comment. So the moment I delete a comment I have to put that person on moderation as a way of cooling them down and allowing me to take a look at their response to being moderated before letting them back on. So it becomes this whole deal I’d rather not deal with at all.)

      I remember the little exchange to which you refer. I deleted it because it took the conversation too far off-topic–it very quickly became too much about our exchange, while having nothing whatsoever to do with the topic. I don’t like that kind of commenting clutter (not to mention being lectured to like I’m a child by someone who’s adapted the tone of a schoolmarm), so I deleted that little chain. (As you know, FishFinger, I have multiple times put you on moderation. And each time you immediately start using a new IP address. You are one of the people who waste so much of my time—by making me write stuff like this right here, for instance.)

      And yes, of course, I absolutely reserve the right to delete any comment I want to, for whatever reason I want to. That’s part of what it means to run a personal blog. I’m under no obligation whatsoever to leave here anything that I don’t think belongs here. I don’t tolerate unpleasant people in my house, and I don’t tolerate them here in my online home. If the only comments I ever deleted were spam, this blog would be no place I’d ever care to hang out. I don’t like mean people, I don’t like people who insult me or others here I care about, and I really don’t like arrogant, pretentious snobs.

      Bottom line: I don’t censor people because of what they say, I censor them because of how they say it.

      Bottom-bottom line: If, having read a comment, my first response is that I wish I hadn’t read it, I delete it so that I won’t ever again have to read it, and so that my friends here might never have to read it in the first place.

      • Melody

        An arrogant, pretentious snob. That is exactly what “FishFinger” is.

        • FishFinger

          Thanks for replying.

          Well, I guess there’s just going to be a divergence of opinions here. I don’t think I can convince you I am right because we’ve just had different online experiences.

          Off-topic discussion is a valid reason for deletion, I agree. However, I believe that it is focusing on “how they say it” is what can lead to it. For instance, you seem to have falsely assumed that I was trying to be hostile or condescending to you in my previous comments because you misjudged a message by its tone. I was never trying to “lecture you like a child” or anything like that, I was just trying to give you advice on using a piece of Internet slang I’ve seen emerging and falling with my own eyes.

          I know places on the Internet where you can make a post about certain social groups using very offensive slurs and the people there will agree or disagree with your message using facts and argumentation. I believe that that sort of discussion is much more productive than those people wagging their fingers at you for being rude.

          I also never changed my IP address on purpose. I am sharing an Internet network with my neighbours and we (apparently) have a dynamic IP – my address was changing on its own. Still, it wouldn’t really be my fault for evading slap-on-the-wrist security measures.

          My bottom line: I stand by what I had said. Your articles are very interesting to read and have convinced me to change my mind on certain things, but I still think your comments policy sucks. Sorry.

          • Melody

            Then get lost. If you can’t handle there being rules on common courtesy and the true definition of a troll (not some dipshit website that excuses trolling), then you don’t have to read or comment here. Stop being such a dick.

          • FishFinger

            Wow. And you call me arrogant.

            The thing is, I don’t want to get lost. I actually enjoy the content posted on this blog a lot (and not in an ironic “it’s so bad it’s good” way, either). And I can handle “rules on common courtesy”, I just don’t think they’re necessary on the Internet.

            Newgrounds is not “some dipshit website”, but that post was actually a copy of an anonymous copypasta, it was not written by the poster.

            Anyway, care to provide me with the “true definition of a troll”? Most of the sources I re-checked confirm the description in what I had already posted.

          • Elizabeth

            Slang Dictionary: troll definition

            1. an ugly person; a grouchy person. : Gee, that dame is a real troll. What’s her problem?

            2. an internet user who sends inflammatory or provocative messages designed to elicit negative responses or start a flame-war. (As a fisherman trolls for an unsuspecting fish.) : Don’t answer those silly messages. Some troll is just looking for an argument.

            3. a message sent by a troll (sense 2). : Every time I get a troll, I just delete it.

            Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions by Richard A. Spears. Fourth Edition. Copyright 2007. Published by McGraw Hill.

            Please see: whack

          • Mary

            BRAVO!!

          • Melody

            Oh, I see. So you’re playing semantics so you don’t have to admit to being one. Well, based on the fact that you constantly whine about John disallowing belligerent assholes to piss everyone off, and that you’re constantly changing your IP address so you can relentlessly badger John about it, tells me you ARE an internet asshole AND a troll. I don’t care if it fits the definitions of your ego and your precious websites. It’s the truth. And now that I’ve told you the truth, I am done engaging you. Goodbye.

          • DR

            Free speech is granted by the government, those of you who insist on applying it to private speech don’t get it. In my house, I tell people to leave if they’re hurting someone I love.

            It’s always so unusual for me to see people recommend policies and approaches for other’s little corners of the internet. The comments that are allowed to stand are so frequent – why in the world you’d think it ok to allow truly abusive, almost triggering comments from people who are entrenched in some incredibly damaging stuff is bewildering.

    • http://www.enesvy.com Nicole

      Here’s the thing, Fishfinger. No individual blog needs to provide or allow for “balance.” That is what the Internet is for. There are bazillions of opposing views on blogs out there. If you want an opposing view, it is simply a web search away. No need for John to allow ANYONE to post that he feels is a detriment to the blog. He’s putting in the work, the website costs, and more…he gets to manage who is allowed to stay.

    • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

      Interesting thing about blogs controlled by writers. People who comment assume that the little comment universe allowed is a democracy. It isn’t. It is a dictatorship. The owner makes the rules, the owner allows what content or disallows what content they deem best for the integrity of the blog as well as any comment section therein.

      (this also holds true in web forums and also chat rooms)

      To attempt to hold the banner of free speech, to cry “you are infringing on my rights! WAaaaWAaaa!!” when the owner of the place decides that “nah, this line of text won’t do” is just a demonstration of the lack of realization what a place like this is.

      It is a webpage designed, maintained and controlled by the person who puts more time and energy then anyone else present. Because of that they can control what content they see fit, and trying to play the free speech card just doesn’t cut it.

      Besides John does allow a lot of diversity and viewpoints. He has a lot more restraint then I’d allow on my blog. But then I don’t tend to lean towards the topics he does.

      And here is the flip side of Free Speech. The freedom NOT to be forced to participate, listen or read what someone else has to say.

      • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris
        • Elizabeth

          This is brilliant, btw.

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

            Aren’t they though? I found a similar list back in my forum/chat room monitoring days. Amazing how true to form that list is.

    • http://Www.unnameablecuriosity.wordpress.com Christine

      I don’t see John worryong about being too affirming, particularly when it comes to oppressed minorities. He doesn’t seem to be worried about protecting them too much or making this space too welcoming. Like by deleting comments with offensive slurs.

      John also doesn’t seem to be too concerned with protecting his own image, particularly at the expense of this community. His first thoughts when concidering something like comment deletion don’t appear to be “How do I make myself look good?” or “What will draw more foot traffic to my blog?”

      In short, John’s moderating priorities seem to be a little deeper than a “blogger protocol”. They balance diversity and respect for divergent viewpoint with the need for respect for people. That’s a nuance you don’t seem to have grasped.

  • http://castlerockbear.tumblr.com Keith Walsh

    :) :) :)

  • http://ingridspeak.com Ingrid Moore

    As someone who used to blog regularly comments are great — even if they are dissenting opinions. Thank you for providing a place where faith and religion can be openly discussed and sometimes debated. You do a wonderful job taming trolls and keeping this community involved. I Thank You!

  • Matt

    Thank you, John, for creating such a wonderfully welcome space for me. This is kind of like my church, where I go for spiritual sustenance that still affirms me as a person.

    You are so awesome, and so is everyone else here! It bears repeating again and agian! :)

  • Blake

    Most blogs “kill my soul” your blog has revived it. Thank you for all that you do.

    • Mary

      “By their fruits you shall know them…..” John produces “good” fruit that feeds the soul!

  • Nicole

    I walked away from Jesus years ago because of all the christian hatred I experienced growing up. Since then I’ve been focusing on God’s will and what I know to be right in my heart. I have always wanted to find someone who could show me the Jesus I wanted to see. I read you blog religiously (no pun intended) and while I still will not call myself Christian, I do feel much more comfortable in my skin and much less in doubt of my own spiritual journey. Thank you for the work you do.

  • http://small-letters.com Mindy M.

    John, I was recently asked to identify my favorite (“lovely”) blogs. I chose yours among them, and said this:

    “John is a sharp, witty, absolutely fearless writer — he has a way of cutting right through all the fluff and saying it like it is. His fierce advocacy for those currently being most misaligned by “the church” and the very active commenting community that has gathered around his blog have been greatly helpful to me. I’m not drawn to John’s gentle but unwavering love for the God he has encountered (not because he is not gentle or unwavering or lovely in that love for his God, but because his is a Christian-centered faith and that is not where I want to be). But I so appreciate his way with words, his humor and his heart. Because of his fearlessness, I am lighter for reading his posts, even when they deal with injustice that makes my blood boil.”

    Thank you for being here, for all that you do to create a safe space, and for all who gather around you. Your fearlessness and strength have been healing for me.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Thanks for this, Mindy M. I certainly do appreciate it.