Read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5.
The last article in this series compared running a forum to bowling and likened the two gutters to two common extremes in forum management: the extreme of too much or overly censorious control and the extreme of anything goes. With that as an analogy, I raised the question: if we were doomed to fall into one gutter or the other, which would be better? I asserted that we are not actually doomed to fall into one or the other but that how we answer the “Which is better?” question shapes our thinking in important ways as we develop forum policy and procedures.
I argued that we’re better off erring in the direction of control and based my view on three factors: the fact that our conversations are published, the fact that the fundamentalist movement is not in need of more rancor or emotional rants, and the fact that Scripture strongly urges us to pursue peace and generally avoid strife and contention (especially among ourselves).
Read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.
Building the ideal Christian forum is a bit like bowling—or at least like my bowling. You’re aiming for a narrow middle, but it has two seemingly magnetic gutters on either side. In the case of SharperIron, the ideal narrow middle is not easy to sum up in a sentence or two, but the two gutters are easy to identify. One gutter—let’s say the one on the right—is the too-much-control gutter. The other, on the left, is the free-for-all gutter.
One of the forum issues that has been discussed at length at SharperIron is the question of whether to allow anonymity. Specifically, the question is whether to allow members to have profiles that do not disclose who they are or to post using nicknames or other labels that do not clearly identify them.
Naturally, with the change in leadership at SI, some have wondered what the rules will be going forward. But before we announce any policy, let’s weigh the pros and cons of anonymous posting.
Verbal communication is one of God’s favorite inventions. He created speaking beings in His image and then spoke to them. Over the millennia, He gave visions to prophets and commanded them to speak or write what they had seen. And He inspired select prophets to write His words as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. He gave us a book.
So whenever we use words, we’re doing something of personal importance to God. And since we believers are at peace with God through Christ and represent God to a world that does not know Him, our writing and speaking carry that much more importance.
We should not be surprised, then, that Scripture has so much to say about how we use words. And we should attend energetically to how that instruction applies to posting in Internet forums.
Here we’ll focus on Proverbs. It’s packed with instruction for how we should and should not use our mouths, and it applies well to the verbal communication challenges we encounter in forums.
In Proverbs, words never simply exist. They are tremendously powerful forces for good or ill.