Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Ten Commandments On Blogging on this Site

We have had a lot of good and vigorous discussion in the past two weeks on this blog, and I am happy about vigor and passion and intelligent discussion, but several points need to be borne in mind:

1) No anonymous posts please. If you don't have the courage of your own convictions, then don't post. By this I mean that I don't mind what your screen name is, but if when I click on that name it doesn't lead me to a real name and a real blog or website and a real person, then you should not be posting on this site.

2) Blogs can serve a lot of different purposes but this one is not intended for mere venting, mere ad hominem arguments, and disrespectful tone or comments. I expect the discussion to be civil, even if it becomes somewhat heated. The goal is light, not heat in any case. Ask good questions-- don't try to produce a visceral response through a rude remark. I don't mind irony, tongue in cheek, and a little good-natured sarcasm, but ridicule and the like is not humane, never mind Christian.

3) Try and be concise and clear. Don't just ramble on ad nauseum. As Alexander Pope said "Perspicuity is the chiefest virtue of a style." My students often ask me what will happen if they go over the page limit on their papers. I tell them, you will find a comment on the bottom of the last expected page which says "This was a good paper, but it ended rather abruptly."

4) Save non-related and personal comments for some other means of communication, such as ordinary email. Stick to the subject at hand, or corollary subjects.

5) Read the exhortation in James 3.3-11 before posting anything. In other words, curb your tongue.

6) Normal discussions on a particular topic will run for 3-4 days, or possibly a week. Then its time to move on. If you come late to dinner, you should expect leftovers, not the main course. Nor should you expect a response.

7) If you have good information to share, share it. Showing off, show-boating, pontificating on the basis of feelings but not evidence is not helpful. It just makes you look dumb.

8) Be reflective before you post. If you are angry, compose a response. Save it. Look at it again later in an hour or so, and then if you still think it involves a good point, then post it. "Be angry, but sin not."

9) I do not mind suggested links so long as they are relevant to the discussion. I do mind info-mercials. You need to bear in mind that an awful lot of the stuff on the web is junk. And a lot of the supposed scholarly stuff on the web is either very old (and so in the public domain) bad or very tendentious information. This is why its on the web and not published in a proper journal. Remember--- "thou shalt not steal" so if you want to copy, reuse, or link the material, then ask permission.

10) Before posting say this " may the words of my mouth (or fingers) and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord." In other words, do this assuming God cares and is paying attention.

19 comments:

RKK said...

Excellent guidelines Dr. Ben. It would be great if they were adopted by the Christian blogging community.

Layman said...

Professor,

You run one of the most participatory Bibliblogs on the net. Your participation and tolerance of divergent views and debate in your Comments sections also stand out.

These seem like fair guidelines to keep the discussion moving forward.

Adam said...

Dr. Witherington, I am greatly encouraged by your blog. I actually found it on accident, I was searching for acouple books of yours that my professor at Dallas Theological Seminary recommended. I don't know if you've ever had contact with him, but he told us he really enjoyed some of your work on the Gospels. His name is Dr. Allman. Thanks for being both Biblical and relevant. Not many people can say that. And heck, while we're at it...you seem like a real nice guy as well. Thanks again, stop by my blog sometime!

-Adam Scheidegger

Edward A. Kellum said...

Very glad to find this. Nakako and I are ATS 2000 alum serving in Florida. Miss seeing you at the SPO...

Edward

www.markdroberts.com said...

These are excellent "commandments.' You should re-run this blog post every few months. And it should be adopted by others. This is exactly that Christian discourse through blogging should strive to be. Thanks!

Jeremy said...

Great standards, I would love to re-post on my blog with a proper citation and link to yours if possible?

M.W.Grondin said...

As one of the violators of commandment #1, I've now rectified the situation by creating a blogspot.com account for myself (though I don't have a blog). One needs only a Google account to post here, but profile info comes from Blogger, so one needs an account there as well. It took me awhile to figure this out and to figure out how to do it, but the info you request is now available.

As to commandement #10, it was my understanding that one didn't need to be a Christian to post here, so I don't see why the commandments of posting include a Christian prayer, which non-Christians will certainly not recite.

Ben Witherington said...

Jeremy you may certainly repost these. M.W. I am not asking a person to pray that prayer. I am simply saying, even if you don't believe in God, assume that this whole thing is receiving close scrutiny.

John said...

I loathe anonymous comments, but I think that pseudonymous comments should be okay. Your site, your rules, of course. But I blog under a pseudonym, though my real identity is known by my pastor, DS, a member of my DCOM and BOOM, about a dozen fellow Methobloggers and perhaps twenty Asbury students and professors. I can be held accountable for my words, and have. And that's what really matters.

I got really tired of one particular snarky, anonymous commentor. So I got an account with an IP blocker, and banned his IP address. You might consider doing the same thing.

SteveJ said...

Ben,

I'm assuming that these standards will apply equally to supporters and detractors. For example, a recent post referring to Simcah J. and Tabor used such language as "an uneducated, rude hick" and "a cornered rat." My hope is that these kinds of comments will draw the same censure as rancorous comments from the other side.

Michael Gilley said...

I greatly appreciate these guidelines, Dr. Witherington. To be honest, it was disheartening to see some of the posts on past blog entries. May we never loose sight of the forest for the trees of our pride.

Ben Witherington said...

Stevej--- These commandments were especially for the Christian flamers who violate such decency standards.

Irving Muller said...

Dr. Witherington,

Would you like to be asked for permission for adding links to our blogs redirecting people to your blog for further information on some subjects even if none of the information we have came from your blog?

I want to make sure to respect your wishes in regards to the way your information and blog is being handled.

Ben Witherington said...

Sure Irving that's fine.

BW3

metapundit.net said...

I'm wondering about clarification of point #1. I don't post anonymously (in the sense that I comment logged into my blogspot account so the same screen name shows up on all my comments.) And if you go to my blogspot account it does point to my real blog (metapundit.net) which has a great deal of writing on personal, theological, and technological topics.

It doesn't have my real name though (you can find out my real name by looking up my domain) and I'm not wanting to remain anonymous so much as I not sure I want people who meet me to be able to google my name and find my blog unless I tell them about it.

So is that OK? I think I only meet half of your current guidelines (a real name and a real blog). For what it's worth most people who know me (my family, my pastor at Church, etc) know my blog as well - it's not a matter of hiding anything so much as wanting to be able to keep my online and real lives somewhat separate...

Ben Witherington said...

Those of your who are asking questions about posting, seem to be on the right track in holding yourselves accountable for your own posting, in one way or another. My question would simply be--- ask yourself why you do or don't make it easy for someone to find out who you really are. If this is because you want freedom to say things without being held responsible, then that's a problem. In general fear based decision-making is a problem, and you need to check your motivations and intentions. So, as I have said, all are welcome, but do your best to observe the rules.

John said...

My only reason is to keep my name Google-proof. It's worked, so far.

paul said...

Thanks Ben, these are good thoughts and in line with some others I have read of late. I think it is important that we are able to clarify our personal expectations for our blogs and the general nature of blogging as a follower of Christ. In other words I am more than happy for anon blogging on my site, i don't need people to have an idenity before they enter a conversation [my pref] on the other hand if they do so it should be in a loving manner [christian teaching].

Leaving a comment is akin to staying as a guest in someone's house, whilst I am there i abide by their rules and try not to leave my wet towels on their bathroom floor :)

James Gregory said...

may I quote your original post on my own blog as I did earlier before with your previous post On Speaking Privately-- on Blogs?