Enough is enough: Comment moderation on. Let the weeping and gnashing of teeth begin.

A note to readers of this blog and those who make comments on this blog:  

I was asked last year to allow free interchange among corespondents to Preludium without "comment moderation," the plea being that this would make for more rapid and healthy interchange of ideas without my having to be burdened by being disciplinarian for this blog. 

Well, in the past two months it has become increasingly clear that several correspondents have no desire to further the comments on any given topic but rather would take every topic back to one of three conversational traps: 

(i) one thread capture wanted to somehow assure us (whether or not that was the topic at hand) that we ought to not sign the Covenant for the sake of conscience, and that we should stand on principle and that of course this would mean two Communion groups, etc.  The capture was to get "liberals" to effectively buy a realignment principle, namely that alignment would mean a future with two different Anglican Communion groups. This thread capture lead to entrapment in a decoy argument.

(ii) one thread capture wanted to take whatever the topic and bring it around to a rant about how terrible The Episcopal Church is, that it is on its way to extinction, that its leadership has a "gay agenda" at its core, that The Episcopal Church is the enemy. This thread capture was a trashing scheme.

(iii) one thread capture simply wanted to turn every conversation in on itself so that members of the corresponding community would be led down a path to a place where no actual commentary on any topic would happen, but only escalating name calling. This thread capture was simply a spoiler so that no one in his or her right mind would stick around.

So. It turns out there is a simple way to stop this nonsense. I am turning on comment moderation. That means no comments will appear until I have read them, and I will exercise the following:

(a) I will allow whatever comments I wish. It is finally my blog and if others want to go somewhere else with issues then let them start their own blog.

(b) I am very interested in constructive criticism, alternate viewpoints, useful counter essays, etc. So comment moderation will make substantive alternative comments all the more useful. Comment moderation is not here to be used as a means of allowing only the like minded in the room. I invite substance, and if what is written seems worth it, will give primary blog space to the writer.

(c) I will trash any comment that deliberately misleads the reader, maligns others, or is destructive of the line of argument or arguments going on on the thread.

(d) I will allow considerable latitude in a thread, but if it gets too far off topic, I will suggest that the writer send an entry that begins, "Consider this for a new topic" and I will.

(e) Those who comment can sign on with any name they want, but if the continue to come back without a name I will eventually trash them as well. Find a name and on a given thread stick to it. It makes it easier to follow arguments if we can know that a response is from a particular player in the program.  I have no idea who people are (except for a few) and I don't need to know. But if it appears to me that someone is signing on with several different names in order to "manage" the conversation, I will delete their comments.

The level of stupidity and foolishness in some of the comments these past few months has been very discouraging - enough to make me think of simply shutting down the blog.  However, I am convinced that some of what is written here does in fact concern "Anglican and Episcopal futures" and have given that as a sub-heading to "Preludium" and is of value to readers.

Speaking of readers: I have discovered a temptation in blogdom, namely to be conscious of the number of readers, where they come from and daily readership. The wackos in the comment sections revisit often and when they start their comment wars there is obviously a spike in readership.  So the temptation is to leave the comments section open to all comers - after all ten visits a day from one of our trolls is still ten visits.  But then it kicks in: by visit eleven our troll has disgusted readers, and more rational folk pick up and leave. Furthermore, I believe it is better to have fifteen "hits" for the content and the possibilities for discussion then to have one hundred "hits" for the purpose of pissing in the soup.

I am pleased that Preludium has now had 1,450,000 visits. I hope there will be many more. But I also hope those trolls who live in the shadows will stay there or go elsewhere. If them come out they will be cast into the outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.



  1. Congratulations on the statistics and thanks for introducing comment moderation. It is finally your blog and the rest of us will be accountable for our actions.

  2. Amen. Amen. Use the spam button m'dear. It helps --and then, for some trolls at least, even YOU don't have to read their venom.

    God bless you, Mark. You are important in this blogosphere --and that is one incredible number! If you were on Youtube, you would be considered 'viral'!!!!

  3. You're a better man than I am, Mark. I took comment moderation off for about a month and that was it. I'd rather have no comments that abusive ones that don't even pretend to be responsive. Why blog then? I don't know, except that a few of my parishioners like to read what I write, even if they don't agree with it.

    I, therefore, have no argument against you turning on comment moderation. Blessings on this ministry, Mark.

  4. tha k you, sir. I dont post often, but lately have nonetheless been disturbed by what has been posted in the comments.
    blessings danielj

  5. Three cheers, Mark! Your fine blog was being hijacked for the purposes you list, and the end result would have been its destruction had you not enabled comment moderation. I, for one, would have hated to see that happen, because you make a valuable contribution to the blog world.

  6. John Sandeman20/12/11 5:51 PM

    I am sorry that comments on your blog - and I speak as a commentator - have caused you problems.
    I am sorry - and I speak as an evangelical commentator - that some who may agree with me on some of the issues at hand have set out to be annoying.
    It is tempting on blog discussions to go too far when making one's case especially when one is in a minority. But progresssive/liberal bloggers have given me room to put my point of view across - and I respect your hospitality. So Thanks Mark, for making space.

  7. Mark, I too appreciate this blog, and would rather see moderated comments than to have Preludium disappear!
    Lou Poulain,
    Sunnyvale CA

  8. I second Margaret's suggestion about the spam button, especially when people wear out their welcome.

    I'm tired of all the long how-much-do-I-hate-the-Episcopal-Church rants from people who've already left it and should move on to other shores and a new life.

  9. No gnashing from many if any quarters!

    Good call. The last thread was a nightmare with someone commandeering every name available.


  10. Thank you, Mark. I wanted to comment the other day on my sadness about the position taken by the leadership of the Sudanese church vis a vis TEC because how the Diocese of Vermont has been most supportive of the Sudanese community that moved here and our bishop spent part of his sabbatical in Sudan building bridges but did not want to be subjected to some rant about how wacko we are in Vermont. (Maybe we are but never mind.)

    WV: nessenso... thanks for ending this nonsense.

  11. This is likely a good thing. I wanted to comment on your post from Monday, but had second thoughts after reading how fast it all went down-hill. After reading the comments for a little while, I thought it best to keep quiet.

    Comment monderation seems to be a great idea, allbeit one that will be more work for you, Fr. Harris. I hope you realize how much your work on this blog is appreciated.

  12. Thank you Fr. Mark, for the early Christmas gift.

  13. FYI -- Southern Cone signs the covenant.


  14. Msgr... thanks, got it. Wrote about it. Puzzled about what it means.

  15. Yes, I see that. Thanks.

    I think the covenant process of protracted adoption is allowing for dynamics probably unforeseen. 'If they signed, I will sign too' dynamics. And vice-versa. SE Asia and Southern Cone are fairly important regions in terms of optics. If Tanzania, Burundi, Indian Ocean, Middle East adopt, e.g., this will also have a ripple effect.



OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, but with some cautions and one rule:
Cautions: Calling people fools, idiots, etc, will be reason to bounce your comment. Keeping in mind that in the struggles it is difficult enough to try to respect opponents, we should at least try.