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October 29, 2014Leadership

Comment Policy for The Exchange

Nine simple rules for commenting respectfully on The Exchange.
Comment Policy for The Exchange
Image: OpenClips / Pixabay

In order to facilitate even better conversation, we are seeking to be good hosts. That is always a difficult task because so many struggle with good conversation, leading an increasing number of Christian blogs to shut down comments. In order to make this a good place for conversation, we have to be wise stewards of this forum.

To do that, we have created some comment policies for The Exchange blog. If you are a regular reader, you can help by pointing out the policies to those who may wander astray.

My hope is that the end result will be a conversation that honors God, leads to learning, and provokes us to love and good deeds.

In order to facilitate good conversation, please keep the following in mind:

1. Please do not post anonymous comments.

There are few exceptions to this rule (such as being a missionary in a restricted access country) and you must state "why" in your comment. You must have a real and verifiable email to go with that real name (though that email will never be shared). If you have a blog or website you should include that, but it is not required. Please use your real name.

2. Be sure to stay on topic.

If the topic of the discussion is the mission of God, it is not helpful to start a new conversation on gender roles, Calvinism, or something else. Please try to keep comments on topic with the post you’re commenting on. We don’t need eschatology debates breaking out on posts about church planting.

3. You can share opinions, disagree and even argue, but you must be polite.

The point of a blog is to have discussion. If I wanted to post my opinions and have you just read them and marvel at my brilliance (a joke), I would not have a blog. I welcome the discussion, but they need to be polite and on point.

Also, do not use my blog for your agenda. If you can add to the discussion, please do. If you just want to use my blog to promote your views because my blog has wide readership, don't.

4. While you can graciously take apart someone's perspective, you may not tear apart an individual.

We do not allow ad hominem attacks here. We do allow robust discussion and critical thought, even if I am the target. Good discussion does not require angry criticism. If you think someone’s wrong, don’t shame, just share your thoughts kindly.

5. If you do not follow the rules we will have to block you from future commenting.

This is always a last resort. But no one has the “right” to comment on this blog. You have a right to comment on your own blog, not mine.

6. We don’t do random Q&A at The Exchange blog.

If you have questions about a topic, please search the blog to see if we’ve commented on it. The research we post has all the methodology if you click through the links to the original release. We don’t do Q&A about research at a blog—if you are a researcher or reporter, you should contact our office for that here.

6. Don't be a troll.

Trolls come in many forms, but Wikipedia explains:

In internet slang, a troll is someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room or blog, with the primary intent of provoking other users into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.

I have generally left troll comments in place, but many have asked me to block them. I will start doing so. And, my staff-- not the alleged troll-- will decide who is a troll.

And, even if you are just posting Bible verses over and over (as recently happened), you are still a troll (even if you then post complaints that I banned you for quoting the Bible, which also recently happened!).

7. Please don't feed the trolls.

Arguing with a troll just distracts from the conversation, and feeds their need for validation. Ignore them when they appear. Since we don't moderate every single comment, they may not be immediately removed from the comment stream.

8. Feel free to make your point, once.

If people engage with your point, disagree with it, or discuss it, you can engage in that. But, do not make the same point over and over on that post or other posts. Do not post the same comment over and over (and, do not post comments that you've posted everyone else on my site). Write a comment that makes your point related to the topic of the blog post.

9. Please don't make drive-by comments.

I have noticed a tendency among some who leave comments that they simply cannot discuss without saying, “they should just preach the gospel.” If you don't think that culture, mission, and strategy should be considered, and your answer is to tell everyone (using ALL CAPS) that they should just “preach the gospel,” this is probably not the blog for you.

You may not just post a link to some other page. You may not say, “I responded here” and just post a link. Make your point in the comments here, not just your link, then you can link to the rest of your point at your page.

A Place for Conversation

We want this to be a place for good conversation. Keep in mind that this is a place for fruitful dialogue, not information requests, angry rants, etc.

Our team will be more proactive in removing comments that don't meet the above criteria and don't advance the conversation.

If we find your post does not meet our policy standards, we delete it. We don't debate that with you. We don't explain it to you. We just delete it.

We have attempted to explain to some commenters why a comment was deleted but such conversations have almost always proven fruitless. So, if your comment is gone, it was moderated away. If you post more comments complaining or doing the same thing, you will be banned.

It's sad, but it is a necessity when you have a widely read blog at a major magazine.


If your comment is removed, it is because we thought it did not meet the comment policies. If your comment does not make it on the blog, feel free to post it on your own blog. But, for this blog, those are the rules.

There is no appeal process. Abusive blog commenters have all the time in the world to debate—we don’t.

Better Conversation

This blog is a limited public forum for discussion and, as host, it is our job to help make it a positive conversation. We will try to make that conversation better by being better hosts.

Thanks for coming by and commenting!

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The views of the blogger do not necessarily reflect those of Christianity Today.

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