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Monday, March 13, 2006

REVISTED: Blog Maturity and Etiquette 101

EtiquetteMMI is a great place... a unique place to share ministry ideas and connect with others in Kingdom work.  That said, many times, particularly when discussing more 'innovative' or controversial topics of ministry, there are different people that have different opinions.  I guess that's what makes the world (and ministry) such an exciting place to be!

This past week has been an interesting week in that I've had to step-up my moderation of this blog because many are forgetting many of the rules that we have had set up here at MMI for many months.  You can find a link to them in the right-hand column of this blog on every page.  From name calling (someone actually called someone an *%#hole), to ad hominems, to someone questioning my personal integrity, to just not being respectful, I've had a hard time keeping people on both sides sensible.

So, today, I thought I'd go over the rules... and add some additional advice.  Here are the rules of the blog as stated on our "Blog Maturity and Etiquette 101" page.  Too bad that we need to have these rules, but we do.  Here they are:1. Each blog you visit is the internet "home" of

1. Each blog you visit is the internet "home" of someone.
You wouldn't dare walk into a home and run your mouth at the host. It's inappropriate to do on blogs as well. It's just ugly and you end up looking stupid. Don't do it. It's immature.

2. Any attack on a blog is a public attack.
It's one thing to debate a friend in college where it's you two in a room or sitting out on the grass with no one else around. Imagine if you took some of those debates and broadcasted them to every dorm room on campus. Yeah. Be aware of what you say. You can look stupid, no matter how 'valid' your point may be.

3. It takes time to type so people will judge you a little tougher.
When everyone knows you took time to type your thought it gets a little more scrutiny than if you just said something in a conversation. It's one thing (still dumb) to blurt out something ignorant in a conversation b/c you don't have the facts or you come off as rude but to type it solidifies any thought of you being immature or ignorant. Read what you type. You have time to think it through!

4. A sign of maturity is the ability to delay gratification.
One thing that separates a mature person from the immature is the ability to hold back from immediate gratification. This is true for the blog world. We all have opinions.

If you have a brain you have a thought but not every thought has to be brought forward and presented in the dialogue. I try to operate on terms of 'value added'. When I'm considering posting I ask "Is what I'm about to say going to add value to the conversation?" My "opinion" sometimes means NOTHING to the core of the author's post. Therefore I keep my golden brain to myself no matter how great I think I may be at the time.

5. Look up the term Ad Hominem.
I'll do the work for you: [link]
The gist of an Ad hominem is that it's an attack on the person rather than the argument. I see this so much in the blog world it makes me sick.
Goes a little like this--

Author: "So and so is doing something amazing for God."
Immature Blogger: "So and so is a blank and blank. Why doesn't so and so just become more humble, LIKE ME!"

Don't attack the person. If you disagree and you must get your thought on record, do it in a civil way. Don't go after people. If you must, talk about the idea presented.

6. You can be both true and Wrong at the same time!
For many immature bloggers they don't understand that perception is reality. Although the context of what they are saying is true, how they are spraying is wrong. For effective communication both parts must be able to be received.. the saying AND the spraying.

Those who don't want to work to make their communication better received by their audience have lowered themselves to bully status. "I'll say what I want and you WILL listen or else". The 'or else' in blog world is usually "Or else I'll keep posting!"

Now for some more specific rules for the MMIBlog.com website:

1. Stick to the subject.  All discussions to the blog will need to stay on topic. Anything deviating too much from the topic will either be deleted (by me) or considered for a new blog entry.  Seems fair, right?

2. Keep it Short.  Each person will be allowed to post up to 5 comments per blog topic (I think this is quite liberal). These should be kept as short as possible.

3. Don't Get Personal.  There will be zero tolerance for personal attacks. Zero.

4. Three Strikes and You're Out. I'll start banning people who take too much liberty with the blog rules.  If you can't play nice, you'll have to leave your ball and go home.  (NOTE:  I've not been doing this; but will start!)

5. Feel Free to Disagree, but... There will be room to discuss different thoughts and ideas... and to disagree. I will continue to tap into controversial topics from time to time and allow for input, but the input will not turn ugly or judgemental.  Be gracious and kind, even when disagreeing. As Pastor Ed Young, Jr. says, " "If you're right but you're rude...you're wrong!"

OK... that's it!  A couple of additional notes.  I understand that when someone's comment is deleted from the blog; and they don't hear from me, it makes them upset.  So, from now on, if I choose to delete or moderate your blog comment, I will try to email you telling you so, along with a short reason why.  This is an extra burden on me; but I'll try to keep up my end when at all possible.

Also, one other slight problem we've had is when one person posts the same comments on different posts over and over.  I won't give specific examples, but if you've been following the posts here for a while, you'll know what I mean.  Let's say you don't like eating french fries because they remind you of Benny Hinn.  Feel free to express that thought; but don't try to make every post about french fries or Benny Hinn.

Finally; there are a handful of faithful readers who disagree with just about everything that is posted at MMI.  As always; opposing viewpoints are always encouraged; but you MUST use the rules above so that we can keep the conversation friendly, and in-order.  In the end, you might find out the MMI is just not the place for you.  Here, we discuss innovative ministry ideas; multi-sites, large and small churches (and numbers!); Rick Warren; Seeker Sensitive churches and cutting-edge ministry.  If that's not your cup of tea, we respect that; but please allow us to discuss the things we think interest us without always having to defend ourselves.  In short; please don't use MMI as your mission field.  Be kind and gentle and all will be well.

Wow... that was a lot to get off my mind.  I will be holding tightly to the rules... the feedback I've been getting recently indicates that the majority of regular MMI users are getting tired of the back and forth, ugly arguments that so often break out here.  These rules will help curb that complaint.



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March 13, 2006 in Blog Housekeeping | Permalink

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A good friend told me about his personal rule on e-mail, "If it makes you feel better, don't click send."

I can's tell you how many times I've saved myself a flame war and hurt feelings by following this simple rule.


Posted by: Mark Triplett | Mar 13, 2006 5:48:15 PM

Great post Todd.

Posted by: Jason Simmons | Mar 13, 2006 6:03:58 PM

Sounds like a good principle, Mark. Thanks for sharing. It seems to me that I also need to humble myself - which means not only writing each post with an "I may be wrong" attitude and tone, but also inviting others (sometimes explicitly) to hold me accountable both for what I say and for how I say it. (Yes, I am speaking both personally - "I need to humble MYself" - as well as generically - "WE ALL need to humble OURselves.") It's a lesson I learned the hard way after butting heads with my stubborn dad all the way through high school; I am my father's son - no less stubborn than he.

I am committed to graciously receiving correction from anyone on this blog. Even if I disagree with the correction, I'll attempt to receive it graciously. I both ask and hope that those offering correction would offer it graciously, as well. "Iron sharpens iron" - but it can also dull it.

Posted by: Randy Ehle | Mar 13, 2006 6:19:16 PM

Thanks for the rules. I really like #1. Discuss the topic - keep it simple. Agree or disagree civilly. Works for me. Thanks Todd!

Posted by: Dan Moore | Mar 13, 2006 6:24:42 PM

Thanks for the reminder Todd.

I especially liked the "value added" thing. One of the reasons I haven't posted much lately is because I wouldn't be adding so much as repeating what someone else said.

And I'd rather leave room for someone else to give some some real value, rather than my "perceived" value!

I appreciate you mucho mclots, Todd!


Posted by: Brian La Croix | Mar 13, 2006 6:36:08 PM

I think it was Dallas Willard that said something like "Some Christians have being right as their goal, rather than being Christ-like."

Posted by: Gene Smith | Mar 13, 2006 6:55:06 PM

Whoever came up with this list is brilliant :)

Posted by: Tally | Mar 13, 2006 7:26:26 PM

Oops... My apologies, Tally... I forgot to give you the credit you richly deserve. (I didn't cut and paste the intro to the rules when I posted this:

First, here are some great general rules (AS WRITTEN BY TALLY WILGIS AT HIS BLOG)Tally Wilgis at his blog)

Sorry... it really was an honest mistake. :(

And here's a link to Tally's great blog as well:

(by the way, Tally, the rules ARE genius! :)


Posted by: Todd Rhoades | Mar 13, 2006 7:31:10 PM

At the risk of doing something I usually try to avoid, repeating what others have already said, I thank you for this post. I have been reading MMI for a while and it's almost ironic that the first time I post a comment here is to say thank you for encouraging respectful commenting, but still, thank you. This blog has made me laugh (I've made my husband read some of your Friday posts with me- we consider it a date almost, a virtual comedy club), think, challenge my own views, affirmed some of my thoughts, and yes, even come close to cursing if only to myself. Thank you for reminding us to treat each other with respect. I look forward to more intriguing diablog.

Posted by: Jessica | Mar 13, 2006 9:15:56 PM

Thanks a bunch Todd! (Prov. 15:1) God bless!

Posted by: Steve | Mar 13, 2006 9:55:03 PM

I especially appreciate #6 and the statement - [For many immature bloggers they don't understand that perception is reality.] In life and work, when I’m sending a letter or an e-mail with even the slightest potential controversy or misunderstanding, I usually ask a couple of people to read it before I send, wearing lenses not available to me. In blogsphere, I tend to read and respond without giving the same kind of caution to how my words might be perceived. So I for one . . . am counting on you to say “when you said this . . . I heard this . . . or this.” I know that I'm not the one to judge how I'm perceived.

Perception is indeed reality, so when I’m being perceived in someone’s reality a way that makes them feel disrespected or dishonored, then it’s my problem not theirs.

Thanks for the reminder Todd, I needed it.


Posted by: Wendi | Mar 13, 2006 10:55:11 PM

Wouldn't it be nice if we could all "blog about others as we would have them blog about us"?
(as found in "Biblical Advice for Bloggers") http://voiceinthedesert.netfirms.com/keith/archives/2005/02/biblical_advice.html

Posted by: Cindy | Mar 14, 2006 7:07:50 AM

Someone once said, "If you argue with a fool, then no one knows who is who."

Posted by: eric | Mar 14, 2006 7:20:42 AM

Hey, what's with the crack about Benny Hinn's french fries? I'm offended... Ok, i am not.

Posted by: Jeff | Mar 14, 2006 10:42:12 AM

Thanks Todd. I always wished that in the "real world" or even better in church, you could ban people who didn't play by the rules. I guess in reality you really could (and should) in church, but it seems that too many churches have overlooked church discipline (hasn't this been discussed previously?), and am I too far off topic yet? :-D

One of the things I do in my spare time to help stay in shape and also to do something I really enjoy outside of ministry is to officiate high school sports. In almost 20 years of officiating baseball, football and basketball, I had to eject a high school varsity coach last season. It was not something I enjoyed doing, but I knew it was the only way to keep the game going and not have it affect the players.

I would imagine that running a blog like this is somewhat the same, you work to keep the rules enforced, encourage fair and lively play and treat everyone with respect and professionalism. These are all things that we can carry over into our everyday relationships.

Thanks Todd for what you do. Keep up the good work!


Posted by: Tony | Mar 14, 2006 10:55:29 AM

Well said Todd.


Posted by: Todd - not THE Todd | Mar 17, 2006 12:53:26 AM

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