The Moderator's Desk

This thread is dedicated to forum-pertinent posts.

Fulfilling the Regulations

Sometimes, I am asked to evaluate my own performance as a moderator. This involves rereading posts and following threads to see if I have been fair or unfair. This is sometimes a subjective call, and so to get a feel for the larger feelings beyond my own feelings, I ask around. Some feel the environment is very fair and well-moderated. Others feel that the environment is hostile and slanted towards a particular denomination. And there are a number of ways to interpret this data.

Long story short: There is no way that I can provide the forums with a list of rules that ensure perfect performance or crystal-clear boundaries between argument and attack, or passion and rage. (Believe it or not, I spent a long time trying to do just that). But it would be foolish, for a number of reasons, to provide no guidelines beyond "The boundaries are what I say they are."

Short story longer: Revised guidelines are in place. But they cannot force good behavior, politeness, common courtesy. Excuse a doctrinal discussion, but the thrust of the New Testament is that the Law cannot make us righteous. Even if I laid down a detailed list of regulations, and somehow managed to perfectly enforce them, people would still be rude, obnoxious, fanatically dogmatic, smugly superior, and intolerably intolerant. It takes more than a list of regulations to produce good fruit--it takes a desire not only to follow the law, but to follow the intention of the law. Rules designed to prevent attacks cannot remove a poster's desire or need to attack, and attacks will happen in ways that circumvent the letter of the law.

If the rule says "There will be no abusive language towards other people, sects, denominations, or religions," this does not mean you can't say you disagree with Muslims or Buddhists or atheists. It does not mean you can't use words like "wrong," "misguided," "incorrect;" it DOES mean you should not typically use words like "foolish," "stupid," "demonic," or "heretical." Are there instances where talking about demonic influences in the world is appropriate? Probably. Talking about foolishness and folly? Heresy? Probably, there are times when those words can be used.

But when you use language that COULD be deemed abusive, you have placed your post and your CCEL account in the scales of judgment--and the moderators are the judge. That's what moderators do. We have to evaluate the questionable cases of abuse, as well as the clear cases of abuse. In addition to enforcing the rules as written, moderators have the (sometimes truly unenjoyable) task of enforcing the intention of a rule.

As the only moderator at the moment, I am aware that I will not be able to please everyone. Though I have a passion for this place, I still try to be fair. And if you are concerned, there are checks and balances in place to make sure that my role as a moderator does not turn the forums into my personal playground.

Finally, let's keep things in perspective. These forums are a minute part of CCEL's larger operation. While I and others find these forums to be extremely valuable for a number of reasons, posts are still only thoughts stored in a digital world that can be deleted or destroyed for many reasons. There is no epic power struggle in the forums. There is no conspiracy. There are only posters, which we can forget--real people, making efforts and sometimes making mistakes. It's part of being human. So afford your fellow humans basic courtesy. That's the Spirit of the Law.

Galatians 5.14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Justin Staller - Moderator

Search the scriptures--for in them ye think ye have eternal life:
They are they which testify of me--and ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.
(John 5.39-40)