My blog comments “policy”:

I welcome blog comments, although they are often notorious for unfruitful and uncharitable discussions.

I hope this can be a place where we “seek understanding” before critiquing, where we are quick to listen and slow to speak, where we judge others charitably not critically, where we encourage and build up each other rather than tearing down and destroying each other.

I would encourage commenters to consider carefully the following commands and principles regarding our speech:

“Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt” (Col. 4:6).

“By your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matt. 12:37).

“Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor” (Rom. 12:10).

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Eph. 4:29).

Speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15, 25).

“If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless” (James 1:26).

Other policies and exhortations worth reading are quoted or summarized below.

Dane Ortlund:

Comments are most welcome.

I read every comment, though I do not respond to every one.

Blog commenting is one more avenue in which we can live out gospel-ignited love toward one another. A blog is not a place where we can take a vacation from Christian love; it is a prime opportunity to exercise it. Comment clearly, thoughtfully, briefly, humbly.

Obnoxious comments will be deleted. This is my blog, so I determine what crosses the line into being obnoxious. I welcome discussion and even debate, but I will not allow this blog to become a platform for the ‘word-wars’ against which the New Testament repeatedly warns us.

No anonymous comments.

Kevin DeYoung:

  • Don’t ride hobby horses. Don’t make every post about your issue. Stay on target Gold Leader.
  • Don’t be rude. It’s a sin. Go ahead and speak passionately and forthrightly. But don’t assume the worst about others. Don’t put the worst possible construct on everyone’s motives. Let go of your hate.
  • Don’t slander. It’s also a sin. Be careful with accusations. Avoid ad hominem attacks. If you pick a fight with everyone and refuse to reason with anyone I will ban you from my blog without warning and you will go the way of Alderaan.
  • Just because you can say something strongly does not mean you have something to say. Force may be with you, but try to make sense too.

And more from Kevin:

  • Debate ideas. State your convictions strongly. But don’t be nasty. Don’t get personal. Develop a strong inclination to avoid sarcasm and sweeping generalizations.
  • Remember that with most people, you have no idea who is really behind the comments. Don’t jump to conclusions about “what Christians or non-Christians are like” or “what men or women are like” or “what Calvinists or Arminians are like” from a few blog comments. Anyone out there can say they are something or someone they are not.
  • I think comments are still an important part of blogs. They provide for feedback and public discourse. But yes, they are often obnoxious, discouraging, and unedifying. If the comments make you mad or sad, don’t read them. Stay away. Just read the post. That’s what most of you probably do already.
  • Keeping watch over blog comments can be very time consuming. I don’t read all the comments, or even most of the comments when a thread goes on and on. I have an assistant who tries to monitor the comments too, but she can’t follow blog traffic all day either. Having said that, for the foreseeable future we will be quicker to remove nasty, long, hyper-linked, and irrelevant comments and quicker to shut down the thread. If your comment gets deleted for whatever reason, don’t write another comment complaining about censorship. That will be deleted too. If you want to say something to the world, start your own blog and get people to come there.

Denny Burk:

  • Do not fail to recognize a blog troll when he appears [Prov. 18:2; 12:18; 15:2, 4].
  • Do not respond in kind to a blog troll [Prov. 26:4; 15:1]
  • Do not expect a blog troll to receive correction [Prov. 17:10; 27:22; 12:15]
  • Do not attempt to rebuke the blog troll in a public forum [Matt. 18:15]
  • Do not acknowledge the comments of an unrepentant blog troll.
  • Do not be a blog troll.

David Powlison:

We should actively intend good, seeking to “give grace to those who hear.” That takes thought about one’s motives, tone, framing, balance of emphases. . . .

Thoughtful work on that topic will break new ground, applying the call to “speak truth in love” into an instant-information context where all errors, blunders, sins, failings, and mere clumsiness are potentially available for public scorn.

What does it mean to forebear each other in such a world?

What does it mean to cover sins in mercy (not cover-up, but true covering in mercy), to allow others to find care and restoration in their own interpersonal context, rather than attempting to humiliate them before the whole world?

What does it mean to express the sort of communal tenderness that Dietrich Bonhoeffer captures so well in Life Together—a communal life that includes reproof as a form of love?

But the leading edge of our argument is to place checks on the tendency we all have to snide, sneering, self-righteous, gossipy, malicious words.

Any growth we can make in the direction of Ephesians 4:29 will make life much more joyous for all, and bring much glory to our God.

And even criticisms I make become more hearable when I the critic am not posturing, but actually care about others.

When I don’t care, my bad attitude and superiority becomes my actual message.

Love is patient, love is kind . . . and then love is candid.

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Comments:


15 thoughts on “Being a Better Blog Commenter”

  1. JG says:

    I absolutely love this. Sharing with fellow bloggers :)

  2. This is a nice summary.

    As a blog reader and sometimes blog commenter, I have a couple personal rules for my own comments. I use them whether I’m at the Gospel Coalition, Jesus Creed, First Things or anywhere else I often peruse. I’ll share in hopes they might be helpful.

    -always try to be encouraging

    -always take extra care to write in a charitable tone, even if it means using extra words

    -always use my real name and where I am from (to show I’m a real person from a real place)

    -always link to my Church website to show I am accountable to a community and not just a crank in a basement.

    -always take a few breaths and wait before commenting

  3. Ken says:

    commenters?

  4. here is a question- where does the propensity to close comments during particular topics which may reflect poorly on certain people or organizations come from? how do you determine which topics you will close comments on and which ones you won’t?

  5. Kevin, thank you for referencing Star Wars, made me laugh reading this!

  6. drwayman says:

    Justin – I enjoy your blog and have found myself not being as good a commenter as I need to be. Thanks for the excellent reminders.

    One thing that I have noticed about your blog, is when you get involved in the comments yourself, things seem to be calmer and more reasoned. I would like to see more involvement from you in your blog posts.

  7. Bob Sukkau says:

    Among the many things I am learning from Greg Koukl’s book “Tactics” the basic one is to always let the other person have the last word. That way they (Christian or non-Christian)go away satisfied thinking they have won the argument.

    Something else that has been very helpful is to keep meditating on the Message’s paraphrase of James 3:2a: “We get it wrong nearly every time we open our mouths.”

  8. Larry Geiger says:

    This is very good. I have been on the Internet from the very beginning as a government contractor who had access from some of the earliest days. In the beginning I was struck by how often email threads and other conversations got way off track very quickly.

    I surmised that it was because we did not yet have an “internet ethic” or whatever you want to call it to guide our interactions. Most of us have a fairly well defined “ethic” or system or habits that guide our personal conversations in face to face interactions but everyday, ordinary people seemed to be lacking the same guide online.

    I also assumed that we would eventually work our way out of that mess and into a more workable set of guidelines. I think that is happening. It will probably take another generation to get it right, but I think we are on track. All of the above is in a positive direction.

    Most people now understand what a “troll” is and how to deal with such people online. I once referred to a comment somewhere by saying “don’t feed the troll” and everyone jumped on my case. They said we shouldn’t call people names and how cruel and bad and so on. I think most people understand what “feeding the troll” is now. I had to post another comment to rescue my reputation :-)

  9. SLIMJIM says:

    Edifying. A good reminder, and something for me to search my heart to ensure what you said. I hope I have been edifying rather than unedifying in my past comments here and interaction with others concerning Presuppositional apologetics.

  10. Why not move BTW to Facebook only comments?

    Wouldn’t that dissuade some of the vitriol?

  11. Good word. Forgive me for any time I have not followed such wisdom well.

  12. Natalie says:

    Fabulous. Planning to share this with my contributors/fellow bloggers/readers. So glad a friend sent me this link.

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Justin Taylor


Justin Taylor is senior vice president and publisher for books at Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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