Announcing: Revised Comment Policy

signThe SharperIron moderating and admin team has learned a thing or two the last couple of years. As far as policy is concerned, we’ve got a better idea of what sort of tool a forum comment policy is, what it needs to do for us and what it needs to include.

Accordingly, we’ve revised the site Comment Policy, and the new edition goes into effect today. We strongly encourage everyone who is a registered participant at SI to read through it and tell us what you think. We’re not above making a few quick tweaks right away if they turn out to be necessary. Above all, we want to make sure what’s intended is sufficiently clear.

So, by all means, ask “Why?” or “Why not?” or “What does that mean?” (or maybe even “Are you out of your mind?!”)

In general, the new CP focuses more on principles: post what’s legal, ethical, doctrinally healthy, and helpful. The particulars are still “rules,” but serve as examples of the principles we’re aiming for. The new CP emphasizes that the listed rules are not intended to be exhaustive. Being what we are as human beings, we can come up with an endless variety of ways to conform to a rule while thwarting a principle.

Note that we’ve broadened the language regarding doctrinal content. This shift doesn’t mean we want to be more restrictive in doctrine than we’ve been in the past. Rather, it’s an effort to acknowledge the fact that it’s impossible to list every doctrinal view that is, or could be, a problem in the forums—either because of the ideas themselves or because of the way they’re being advocated. Sometimes people get a bit obsessed with a novel interpretation. And, while this interpretation might make for an interesting conversation or two (which we’d welcome here), we’ve got a problem when its advocates start posting new threads twice a day preaching their beloved idea at great length and with lots of bluster.

So the new language there is intented to say, “Don’t be afraid to start a thread about your ideas, but don’t be surprised if we contact you privately and ask you to tone it down a bit.” In a forum, it’s rarely helpful to try to silence an unattractive or unsound idea. Better to answer it, and, when necessary, turn the volume down some.

Enough preamble, then. Please have a look at the new CP. It’s permanent home will be

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There are 8 Comments

G. N. Barkman's picture

Sounds reasonable and helpful. Shouldn't be necessary, but probably are.

G. N. Barkman

Charlie's picture

I personally have no interest in being in leadership on this site, but I'm surprised that your leadership distinctives expressly prohibit paedobaptism. I'm curious as to the reasoning behind that decision, since I think I've seen leaders on this site argue that views on baptism should not prohibit fellowship. I have never seen baptism tied to fundamentalism as I have all the other issues listed.

My Blog:

Cor meum tibi offero Domine prompte et sincere. ~ John Calvin

Ed Vasicek's picture

As mentioned in the first post, these standards are reasonable. But one problem that is constant when dealing with fellow human beings is that we are often unaware of our own rudeness.

I remember someone writing Dear Abby about this fellow that was a complete slob. Abby's comments still ring in my ears, "The slobs of this world do not know they are slobs."

And the same is true with rudeness. I have had several experiences where people have pointed out that my comments were rude or untactful. In retrospect, I can usually see it after it is pointed out. But, at the time, I am oblivious.

All that to say that we all need to be policed sometime.

Thank you!

"The Midrash Detective"

Aaron Blumer's picture


It's purposely in the leadership distinctives and not in the site DS.
Neither are intended to define fundamentalism, really, but certainly not the "distinctives."
As for limiting fellowship, I don't think I'd put it that way. It does limit cooperation. Obviously paedobaptists and credobaptists could not have a baptismal service together. Smile So that's one situation where limited cooperation is necessary.
When we published the "distinctives" several months ago, we included some explanations of what our thinking is on it. I'd link but don't have have it handy at the moment and have to run.

But really skinny version: the team does not consist exclusively of Baptists, but the moderators and admins do believe baptism is for people old enough to believe. We wanted people to know that. I've gotten some questions about that from time to time.

The "distinctives" document is intended to be descriptive of the current team's views on some things. It's not prescriptive at all.

dcbii's picture



Let me chime in as one of those (maybe the only one) with "non-baptist" views that is on the team. While we were hammering this out, I specifically asked about that list being prescriptive in any way, and we all decided that it was a list of what the current team holds in common (which includes believer's baptism), but that the "Leadership Doctrinal Distinctives" were not in any way a limitation on what registered users could discuss or believe. It was more of a way for users to see where the team is coming from (in addition to what is already in the DS).

I'm not a paedobaptist, though I'm not immersion-only either (being raised in a fundamental methodist church [in fact, one that is a member of the ACCC, whose DS SI uses ]), and I wanted those with other views on baptism to be able to discuss those views as within the bounds/purposes of SI. I (at least) value the contributions of those who can agree with the DS but are not baptists, and that certainly includes presbyterians such as yourself.

Dave Barnhart

Susan R's picture


I like the two-tier DS because it provides the distinction between allowing discussions on a particular doctrinal position and the team personally advocating that position. Some people don't understand how SI can tolerate threads on certain topics without the team being completely on board with one position or other. The team DS lets people know what the team itself has in common- and we are not completely doctrinally homogeneous by any stretch.

Charlie's picture

I'm intrigued by the assertion that the list is descriptive rather than prescriptive. It occurs to me that such descriptions very quickly become prescriptions. For example, would SI be open to taking a (hypothetical) Bible Presbyterian pastor onto the leadership team? Or, if a team leader decided he now practiced speaking in tongues, would the distinctives be adjusted to "describe" accurately this change, or would a removal of a leader be "prescribed"?

My Blog:

Cor meum tibi offero Domine prompte et sincere. ~ John Calvin

Aaron Blumer's picture


It does serve as a speed bump because if we had someone interested in being on the team (and that we were interested in having on the team) who was a paedo baptist, we'd have to have some conversations about removing that line from the team distinctives.
(FWIW, we have at least one, maybe two paedo baptists who help out in non-moderator roles).

It is generally harder to pull something out of a doctrinal expression than it was to get it in there.

So I hear what you're saying about how descriptive tends to evolve into prescriptive. But I think the danger on that score is just as real for other items in the list, some of which are--from my point of view--not of greater importance.

In any case, there was a strong consensus that we do not want to add anything to the general participation standard in the site DS.

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