Treating Guests

hostelObservant readers will notice Max has arrived. If you follow the Religion News Service, you will know that he is a persistent (some would say annoying) presence in the comment boxes there.

I’ll offer some general thoughts on him, on blogging, and on this site’s approach to commentary.

  • I don’t believe in trolls. I wasn’t impressed with “Three Billy Goats Gruff” when I was a kid. Nothing has changed. Labeling people as “trolls” is a lazy way out. People comment persistently on sites to disagree for quite a few reasons unrelated to post topics. And I don’t have a problem here with it being an emotional outlet.
  • Having been labeled as a troll myself, I don’t think I can do to another what I wouldn’t want done to myself.
  • As long as Max’s posts adhere to the general rules of courtesy, he is free to offer emotional and provocative statements. As many as he wishes.
  • Because we’ve never had a heavy traffic of commentary here, the “rules” about participating in discussion haven’t been explicit. And sometimes I’ve been soft on them. A comment would have to be very insulting, obscene, or gravely unsuitable for mixed company to get edited. My policy, invoked only two or three times in ten years, has been to edit the offending portion and leave the skeleton. I don’t believe in banishment.
  • Max, to my viewing, has never been gravely insulting to others at RNS. My observation is that he presents himself more as an anti-religionist than as an atheist. I plan to treat him as he presents himself.
  • Other readers may feel free to engage him or ignore him, as they wish.
  • I do not spend limitless hours of my day on this site. I have times while I’m on break at the parish, or between activities at home when I check comments or review the spam files, or drop a prepared post. I do not reply to every comment here.
  • My plan is to respond to Max as I see fit once a day. Like any other person, he is free to email me. I check my personal email once a day.

A general manifesto on comments here. As with real life, I prefer people bring themselves to their dialogue. Not others. Offer opinions on third persons–you all know I do that. WordPress is a skeptic when it comes to more than one link in a comment. I’m not going to rescue such comments from the filter. My challenge to commenters is to bring your own ideas. I’m not interested in another person’s lens on a topic here. I’m not interested in prowess with ctrl-V. If you want to deluge me with links, then your only recourse here is to write me and ask me to put something up. Or better: start your own blog. If you want to post long sections of someone else’s material, I suggest you rethink that. Especially if you aren’t attributing with a link. And if you do too much of that, well, see how WordPress likes that.

Any thoughts from anyone? Including Max?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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4 Responses to Treating Guests

  1. Liam says:

    FWIW, I am a believer in trolls. That is, that they exist, and that it’s a faux kindness to enable them. Sites where trolling is coddled or enabled get much less viewing from me. And, as best I can tell, trolling patterns tend (tend) to drive female readership away, because trolling tends to be a caricatured masculine behavior (yes, there are female trolls, but the expression tends to be a parody of rhetorical tics that alienate more than attract female readers).

    • Jen says:

      Ditto. Maybe I’m getting old, but I’m just not into scrolling through screed, invective, and clickbait to get to a real discussion. That goes for any political, religious, or social viewpoint.

  2. Todd says:

    Thanks Liam. I’ll take that under advisement. Max doesn’t dent my daily reading of RNS posts. But I generally don’t comment on threads he has infused. ‘Course I rarely comment there anyway.

  3. Atheist Max says:

    I appreciate your patience with my questions.

    I do not believe in any gods – including satan. I am simply interested in conversation about religion because I was a devout believer once and now that I have left I am pondering whether religion has any good in it at all. So far, no good.

    But I am also wondering how I ever believed in Jesus. What better way than to listen to what others have to say about Jesus? Especially those who might visit this blog – who spend a lot of time ‘in the weeds’ of examining the details of their beliefs?

    I do not seek to convert others. But I do challenge claims which appear unsupported. I am happy to offer an atheist perspective on any matter if that is of interest if someone should ask. I do not ‘troll’ for arguments. I have no interest in offending for its own sake.

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