Shifting Standards within the Mormon Archipelago

November 23, 2015    By: Jeff G @ 11:06 am   Category: Bloggernacle

Some of you will recall that I have been a participant within the Bloggernacle almost since it’s very beginning.  My blog “Issues in Mormon Doctrine” was one of the original “Islands of the Sea” when the Mormon Archipelago aggregator went online in 2005.

What few, if any of you will remember is how my blog was yanked from the Archipelago the very same day that I announced my departure from the church.  This stands is considerable contrast to the tolerance that similar posts are now met with in that very same forum.
What explains this apparent inconsistency?  Here are a few possibilities:
  1. I was more of a threat to readers’ faith than the currently disaffected.
  2. Mine was a solo blog while theirs is a group blog that cannot be banned as a collective whole.
  3. Bigger, less expendable personalities from more popular blogs became disaffected, thus shifting the standards.
  4. The Archipelago moderators got lazy/moved onto other things in their personal lives.

I’m open to other explanations…..


  1. Jeff,

    I have noticed this shift also. Its been quite a few years since my blog was banned from the archipelego ( I have since not updated the blog which has been somewhat abandoned. At that time I presumed I was fair, balanced, and truthful but was banned for bringing out others dishonesty. I have been banned from several blogs in the archipelego because of my stark honesty. Its now worse than ever and I now consider most of the blogs here on the fringe of Mormonism, perhaps even in apostate. It troubles me to see this trend towards darkness. The shift has been made now with less fence sitters. Some blogs are getting dark (feminist mormon houswives for instance) while others continue in truth.

    Comment by Rob Osborn — November 23, 2015 @ 11:56 am

  2. I tend to think (4) is the main reason. I don’t think it’s maintained the way it used to be. As evidence there sure are a lot of popular blogs not aggregated at all.

    Comment by Clark — November 23, 2015 @ 12:41 pm

  3. Rob, even though on some issues we likely disagree, it’s hard not to agree with you here. That said, I also think we have to be understanding as people really struggle with events that challenge their sense of justice. My personal feeling is that the problem of evil is the biggest challenge to a testimony there can be. When people see injustice that God seemingly could resolve it’s hard not to be challenged.

    A lot of people might struggle for a time and then come back. As Jeff said, he is a great example of this. While the statistic is dated and thus a little meaningless now, back in the 80’s there was a study suggesting that 40% of active members had been inactive for some period of their life. Now not all of that would be theological challenges. I suspect for many social conflict or just plain exhaustion had a lot to do with it. But we should still be careful not to demonize those who struggle.

    Comment by Clark — November 23, 2015 @ 12:49 pm

  4. Clark,

    I have no desire to demonize people, rather, a voice of the demonizing of their beliefs and the danger it leads to. I fell away into dark inactivity myself for 10 years in which I was a gross sinner before the Lord. Since then my path back has been slow but steady, learning much wisdom along the way. I have also experienced the literal pains, spiritually, of a damned soul. These experiences have awakened my soul and have given me voice to defend and uphold righteousness, decry sinfulness, and serve others with care and love. But, I have a very short tolerance towards the key ways that lead into sin and eternal destruction. I know the patterns, know the signs, I know Satan’s plots, his secret works. I make them manifest. I do this so that I too will aknowledge them in my own weaknesses and decry them too to overcome it. You know me pretty well I presume. Did you know that I was permantly banned from BCC because of these truths? I shout from the rooftops!

    Comment by Rob Osborn — November 23, 2015 @ 12:59 pm

  5. Clark,

    I think youre right about 4. That said, I think there is also a similar shift in standards within some of the bigger blogs that have do have active moderators.

    Comment by Jeff G — November 23, 2015 @ 1:21 pm

  6. Is there anyone you can petition to be re-admitted?

    Comment by Dave K — November 23, 2015 @ 3:28 pm

  7. I’m sure there is. I’m not really trying to revive my own thing or anything like that. I just thought that the change might itself be worth pointing out and discussing.

    Comment by Jeff G — November 23, 2015 @ 3:39 pm

  8. At one point in the last… 2 years, maybe? I inquired with some of the Powers that Be about a certain large blog. The off-the-cuff response I got was, yes, that’s a real problem, but the outcry from removing it would be huge and painful.

    Comment by Anon — November 23, 2015 @ 5:04 pm

  9. Another explanation could be that with the existence of “Nothing Wavering” there is no longer as pressing of a need to remain quite as “pure”.

    Comment by Jeff G — November 23, 2015 @ 5:49 pm

  10. I think 3 started happening first, and now it is mostly 4. I recently read a manifesto of an MA blogger announcing his planned inactivity, which I could see coming from a mile away. It has been sad to see. Now, it almost seems like it is the ones who try to be faithful that are in danger of being nudged out.

    Comment by Eric Nielson — November 23, 2015 @ 8:59 pm

  11. Jeff, I’m unfamiliar with the history of your “Issues in Mormon Doctrine” blog; but it strikes me that openly announcing that one is *leaving* the Church crosses an easily-recognized bright-line boundary.

    That said, I think a lot of what’s coming out of the Bloggernacle now–even from sites that consider themselves both “faithful” and “mainstream”–would have passed for run-of-the-mill anti-Mormonism only five years ago. They don’t consider themselves antis, though; because they’re not trying to destroy the church–they’re trying to save it (from itself, of course).

    Comment by JimD — November 23, 2015 @ 9:34 pm

  12. Jeff,
    It isn’t that mysterious. Talk to Geoff J, your co-blogger here, and I’m sure he’ll tell you the reasons.

    Comment by John C. — November 24, 2015 @ 5:48 am

  13. It would be interesting to see how the average age of bloggers has changed over time. My impression is of a certain stale repetitiveness of posts in the whole bloggernacle due to more focus on what people want for themselves and less on what people see happening to people around them and why. Fewer voices that aren’t easily categorized into stereotypical categories. I would say that this is generally to the benefit of the nothing wavering crowd’s tastes. After all, wavering makes better copy.
    My interest is mainly driven by wanting to bridge the generations of my extended family and understand why they leave or stay in the church.
    I think the bloggers looking for more change in the church in terms of feminism were profoundly confused about what the church is and have been pretty clearly routed.
    On the other hand, I think the nothing wavering crowd is in pretty serious denial for what this means for family relations. There are and will be fewer and fewer families who are predominately active momon across generations. In my experience most people see themselves and their own family in the Nephi role when the reality is more a wavering where it much less clear where in the pride cycle one is. Humble bloggers are hard to find across the spectrum. If it takes one to know one I’m quite qualified to pronounce on this matter.
    The fact is that things that don’t waver aren’t particularly strong in the wind. Wavering and soul searching are more intimately connected than the nothing wavering crowd wants to admit. But I don’t worry about the nothing wavering crowd other than to wonder what they do with the pain of the portion of the children and grandchildren that don’t agree with them. To me everybody is losing something right now. Some faith, some family and all of us community. Isn’t that the irony of the Internet and social media, the tools that make it easier to communicate make it easier to limit the extent of our fellow feeling. The ways of the Lord are mysterious to us all.

    Comment by Martin James — November 24, 2015 @ 8:16 am

  14. Martin I think “stale repetitiveness” is constantly a problem. If one blogs to work out issues once one has worked them out there’s little drive to say more.

    That said I think, even if I might disagree with them, the fundamental issues are concerns with justice. The problem is that while the Gospel in some ways is about justice that’s just not it’s prime focus. It’s prime focus is developing a certain relationship with God. Now as a consequence we think we’ll have justice eventually. But I don’t think justice is the only or even primary issue.

    So the question then becomes what we do when we see injustices God doesn’t seem to worry about. Even if I disagree with many of these people concerned primarily about justice, I can appreciate why justice is such a big concern.

    Say what one will about the gay marriage issues but it seems undeniable that there is injustice. Maybe it’s an injustice we ultimately can’t do anything about here and now, but we shouldn’t forget about that injustice or be confused why injustice bothers people.

    Comment by Clark — November 24, 2015 @ 10:34 am

  15. To add, I think a problem with many people’s focus on justice is that it ignores many consequences. That balancing of consequences has come to be seen as inappropriate if one has a certain type of “privilege.” I think this fails for various reasons.

    Comment by Clark — November 24, 2015 @ 10:42 am

  16. John,

    I have no doubt that Geoff falls in my number 4. But as for what you have to say, I’m all ears!

    Comment by Jeff G — November 24, 2015 @ 11:40 am

  17. I think there is a factor of pride and worldly praise that comes into play also. Steven Peck comes into mind as a for instance. His worldly praise has given him so e pride and no one dare question him. He banned me a few years ago from his blog after he refused to acknowledge the Creator in the creation. He censored me because my honest questions towards him took away from his worldly praise and support. I feel that same kind of thing happens a lot by Mormon moderators on forums and blogs alike. The trend has become the process of censoring truth and honesty in favor of those who pay honor to worldly praise and honor. The Mormon forums and blogs are increasingly being overran by self righteous moderators and bloggers who feel worldliness takes precedence over truth and morals. Mormondialogue used to be a legitimate forum but they too have fallen victim to the same corruption practices of worldliness.

    Comment by Rob Osborn — November 24, 2015 @ 12:28 pm

  18. Facebook and other forms of social media really changed aggregators. The MA is mostly used by older bloggers. But big traffic comes when a post gets picked up on FB or Reddit.

    You will notice that DAMU blogs like Rational Faiths are not included and I think intentionally so. The Mormon Archipelago is primarily run by J. Stapley, somebody who, like Geoff J, is busy with other projects. But Geoff and J (nobody else has admin rights within the MA) are both pretty conservative (both theologically and religiously).

    Comment by Chris H. — November 24, 2015 @ 12:56 pm

  19. It is a good comment, even if it never sees the light of day.

    Comment by Chris H. — November 24, 2015 @ 12:57 pm

  20. Jeff,
    It’s probably 95% #4. The other 5% is going to depend on who makes the final decision, who is coding the final decision, and whatever intuition they may have about the blog asking for entry or behaving badly enough to get the boot. It is worth noting that blogs have been booted for being too-Anti (as your old one was) and for being too-zealous (as Mr. Osborn’s was). Feedback is always appreciated, I’m sure.

    Comment by John C. — November 24, 2015 @ 1:13 pm

  21. Hmmmmm. Mine was FAAAARRR from anti, especially by current standards. Like I said, it was the very same day that I confessed my departure – and in no way did I ever argue for it – that I was de-listed, so I’m not sure how anti- I ever had the opportunity to be.

    My guess is that de-listing my old blog wouldn’t effect the popularity of the MA whereas de-listing others probably would. This is not a criticism, just as acknowledgement of real world constraints.

    I also think it has to do with the fact that the ‘nacle is no longer the tight-knit community that it once was. In the same way that the rise of cities eroded the community of smaller towns and gave rise to a larger tolerance of social and moral deviance… I assume something similar has happened over the last 10 years within the ‘nacle.

    Comment by Jeff G — November 24, 2015 @ 1:34 pm

  22. I think Times and Seasons seems pretty self-censoring. FMH may not be anti- but it sure seems negative.

    Comment by Martin James — November 24, 2015 @ 1:51 pm

  23. Rob I think some might take different interpretations of those events. I think Steven is a humble guy and quite courteous. A lot of the dispute is over what constitutes “worldliness.”

    Jeff, with all due apologies I can understand yours getting eliminated. Although I’d agree that blogs like FPR or FMH were far more negative and “anti.” (I don’t like that term typically – I wouldn’t call yours anti either) But as you know I regularly commented on your old blog and was quite overjoyed when I discovered you’d resolved your issues and returned to the fold. (Most of us have had struggles at one time or an other)

    I do agree that that were MA to delist FMH there would be a big kerfuffle.

    Comment by Clark — November 24, 2015 @ 2:34 pm

  24. Hmmm. Interesting outside perspective.

    I was trying to struggle through some issues, but I did not perceive those issues as being all that threatening (they were not the reason why I left). Maybe it was the underlying issues that I had not even articulated to myself that gave the blog a threatening tone that I was simply unaware of.

    The intent was nowhere near malicious or subversive…. but that’s not to say that it didn’t come off that way all the same.

    Comment by Jeff G — November 24, 2015 @ 2:42 pm

  25. Jeff, I think it’s because you’re a straight white dude.

    Comment by Jack — November 24, 2015 @ 3:14 pm

  26. The answer is your #4, without question.

    I’m pretty sure we haven’t even touched that MA aggregator site in 5+ years. May not ever do so again (besides eventually pulling the plug entirely I suppose)

    I agree that many of the sites in the aggregator now have drifted well into DAMU (disaffected Mormon underground) territory. Had they drifted there in the first 3-5 years they would have never made the cut.

    Comment by Geoff J — November 24, 2015 @ 3:30 pm

  27. I only use aggregators, since you have to be non-anonymous on Facebook. I’ve considered blogging online using my real name, but given what I’ve blogged about and given my name, it would be foolish.

    So….whether they are relatively faithful or not, once the aggregators are gone, so will I be.

    Comment by SilverRain — November 24, 2015 @ 4:13 pm

  28. I think it is interesting to think about who benefits from aggregation in the struggle for hearts and minds. Let’s start with 3 groups – I’ll call them the church is almost always right, the church is almost always wrong and the church is sometimes right and sometimes wrong.

    So, maybe MA captured the church is always right plus the half of middle group that is not down on the church. Maybe nothing wavering is more church is always right and maybe John Dehlin is a proxy for the inverse of MA where he has anti and the half of the middle that is down on the church.

    So here is the question – who benefits if there is a 3-part aggregation where the middle aggregates separately from the pro and con aggregators?

    In terms of the members of record, the largest group of members are people that are inactive or less active but haven’t had their name removed. Which is better for the church to have this group have some connection to a mormon community but have that be less than fully faithful community or to draw a strong line where you are for us or against us?

    I think this is the conundrum that kept the church from going after John Dehlin for so long. I think the church has a big issue about what to do with people that have a mormon family heritage but are neither strong participants nor open opponents of the church. It is primarily a mormon corridor issue but it would be a huge social change if the large number of people in the “mormon heritage members” get classified as “anti”.

    This is analogous to what happened to Jeff’s earlier blog Not necessarily as a heritage mormon but as someone who was moving in a different direction and was “kicked out” of the discussion.

    I don’t think there is a good answer to this, particularly for large families. Without a space for being critical but in the community, critics become bigger enemies which can cause a lot of family and social dissension. Paradoxically, more excommunications whether literal or social, makes a bigger community of apostates and lowers some of social cost outside active mormons, and moves the people further away form the church.
    Spitting out the lukewarm is a venerable tradition but so are family and religious feuds.

    Comment by Martin James — November 24, 2015 @ 4:41 pm

  29. Geoff,

    I never had any doubts regarding your own reasons for doing and not doing. I wasn’t sure about your co-conspirators.

    Either way, I thought pointing out the shift was probably more my aim than actually explaining it.


    JMax did a 4 part analysis of bloggernacle and aggregator dynamics that you might find interesting:

    Comment by Jeff G — November 24, 2015 @ 4:55 pm

  30. If I ever had time maybe I’d set up my own aggregator. They can’t be that hard to write.

    Comment by Clark — November 24, 2015 @ 8:35 pm

  31. Martin it’s interesting looking at the numbers. I did a post earlier this year on Mormon activity rates. This was more or less taking self-identification surveys and comparing them to the official Mormon numbers. There’s a little bit of guesswork since surveys only look at 18 or over while official numbers are most people over 8.

    I get a figure of about 65% of people on the records consider themselves Mormon. That’s actually pretty remarkably high once you consider that many convert baptisms leave within the first year.

    Related to all this is that what I’d call fringe Mormons – people really not active in the sense of participating a lot – probably are going to be lost anyway. If you look at the rise of the Nones most of the change appears to primarily be about nominal members. That is people who in past decades would have called themselves Baptist or Mormon or whatever but no longer feel the need anymore. Yet in terms of behavior it’s about the same.

    That doesn’t correspond exactly to the Dehlin crowd, but there is a sense where there are people who really don’t have much identity with the main body in terms of beliefs or behavior but have clung on the the name for various reasons. That’s simply changing across religion in general. It’s extremely pronounced with Millennials and unlike past generations there doesn’t appear to be the “irreligious 20’s and then become religious when they have kids” behavior.

    The new ARIS survey will be out probably in a year or two and will tell us a lot more about demographic changes. The indication from Pew, Gallup and the ’08 ARIS survey is that many in this crowd are driven from religion by a certain category of political beliefs including gay rights. (Interesting though the religions that are more inclusive to these socially liberal issues lose members even quicker)

    Comment by Clark — November 24, 2015 @ 8:47 pm

  32. Clark,
    Im sure Steven is a nice and humble guy to all those who pay honor and tribute to his ideas. Just dont ever disagree with him. When I first began posting on his blog years ago, he was anything but Christlike. In fact, my last entry on my own blog was the very one in which I was banned from the archipelago. It was the one in which I had openly challenged Steven to s fair discussion on Intelligent Design and evolution. This in light of the fact that Steven was censoring, changing, and manipulating my posts on his blog which I am sure is against the rules. Go over and read my last topic of the which I was permqntly banned and ask yourself what it was that got me banned. I think it was because someone actually challenged Peck to a fair debate and so they banned me because of it.

    Comment by Rob Osborn — November 25, 2015 @ 8:46 am

  33. Oddly, I found this post by going to the Archipelago.

    Comment by m — November 25, 2015 @ 12:02 pm

  34. Rob, you got banned for being a jerk, not for disagreement. Plenty of people manage to disagree with BCC authors without getting banned. Jeff G is an example, as is Clark.

    I have been around as anyone and I’ve seen the shifts as well. Let’s be careful though to look at actual shifts over time and not snap reactions. The policy changes have caused a lot of angst, but it would be a mistake to view such angst as a permanent mark of disaffection across the board.

    Comment by Steve Evans — November 26, 2015 @ 11:32 am

  35. The fact is that people comment at the ironically named By Common Consent purely By Steve’s Consent. It is sufficiently upsetting Steve that gets someone banned there, not some objective notion of jerkishness.

    On the topic of shifting standards, the Sunstone Symposium used to not permit excommunicated Mormons to be speakers; this rule was dropped in the wake of the disciplining of the “September Six” in 1993.

    Comment by O. Harmon — November 26, 2015 @ 4:33 pm

  36. Geoff J, if you and J. Stapley control MA, but are not interested in keeping it up (like adding new blogs), would you be amenable to turning over control to a new group who would be willing to keep it up?

    Comment by Andrew Hall — November 26, 2015 @ 5:35 pm

  37. Steve Evans,
    Thats a lie and you know it.

    Comment by Rob Osborn — November 28, 2015 @ 10:38 am

  38. Rob,
    I agree with Steve. In the mouth of two or three witnesses…

    Comment by John C. — November 28, 2015 @ 3:29 pm

  39. To be compketely fair, why do you suppose I was a jerk over at BCC? A CFR would be nice.

    Comment by Rob Osborn — November 28, 2015 @ 9:07 pm

  40. My last post at BCC that I can find as recorded was a question. Here is the dialogue that apparentltly got me banned-
    “Im curious to know which individuals we actually are expelling from our society.”
    Steve then replied with
    “Rob, for starters there’s you”
    After thst I was banned. This is typical Mormon moderating at its finest.

    Comment by Rob Osborn — November 28, 2015 @ 9:20 pm

  41. Steve (34) I think that’s important to note. It’s easy to take a point of stress and extrapolate unwisely from then.

    Comment by Clark — November 29, 2015 @ 9:35 pm

  42. Rob,

    Blogs aren’t publicly owned. When you visit a blog and comment there it is as a guest. The owner of the blog has the right to ban anyone, anytime. So the trick to not getting banned at most blogs is to not irritate the owner so much that you get bounced. Sounds like you irritated the owners of BCC enough to get kicked off. No biggie — happens sometimes.

    The same principle applies to aggregators. I don’t remember exactly why we removed your blog from the MA feed, but I’m sure it made sense to us at the time.

    Comment by Geoff J — November 30, 2015 @ 10:34 am

  43. Many blogs just because of acrimony in comments have eliminated comments. So of the tech blogs I follow few have comments. The places that do have comments are pretty aggressive about banning and deleting posts. If anything it’s actually surprising that LDS blogs have largely avoided following this trend of the last few years.

    Comment by Clark — November 30, 2015 @ 10:50 am

  44. Geoff J,
    I know exactly why my blog was banned from the archipelego years ago. It was because of my challenge to Steven Peck to a debate the topic of evolution/intelligent design on my blog where comments wouldn’t be changed or censored.

    You guys all know me well and know that I don’t resort to being a jerk to anyone. You all know that I have my opinions and voice them in truthfulness. The above dialogue with BCC is the actual dialogue copied and pasted that got me banned. I don’t expect to get a rational explanation from BCC, just as I never do get a truthful response from any place I get banned from. It’s definitely not very Christ like to be banned for the honest stark truth of things. By their fruits ye shall know them.

    Comment by Rob Osborn — November 30, 2015 @ 12:34 pm

  45. It is well known that you don’t have to be offensive to be banned at BCC…all you have to do is fail to stroke certain mod’s egos properly. I was banned at one point because I called one of the mods out on being a total jerk to me. They’re perfectly okay with jerkitude so long as it is their own jerkitude.

    But most people who are banned from there don’t really worry about it. BCC has a well-established reputation for hypocrisy in moderation. I knew when I stood up for myself what the result would be, but I chose to do it as part of my own recovery. It’s their living room, if they want to make those choices, that’s their prerogative.

    I’m very choosy about when and where I comment these days anyways.

    Comment by SilverRain — November 30, 2015 @ 12:49 pm

  46. I don’t mind that BCC and even T&S and other places ban commentator – it’s their venue and their party.

    However, many of their permas and commentators love to bash places like M* as bastions of intolerance for occasionally deleting comments and banning commentators.

    It’s the hypocrisy of acting as if they only do it when it’s justified, but we do it because we’re a bunch of immature bigots. I’ve seen rather tepid or even reasonable comments get deleted at BCC, T&S, and other blogs, merely for disagreement. I haven’t seen that happen at M* (though it may happen – I don’t check every time someone else deletes a comment, but every time I’ve checked the deleted comments, they’ve been pretty rude and audacious posts – but it gives those people martyr cred at the other blogs, since they then go over to, say, T&S, and proclaim about how M* deleted their perfectly reasonable and nuanced comment).

    Comment by Ivan Wolfe — November 30, 2015 @ 5:54 pm

  47. M* bans content alone, disagree with the OP or the church for more than one comment in a row and you are in danger.

    Comment by Howard — November 30, 2015 @ 6:29 pm

  48. I banned myself from M*. :D

    Comment by SilverRain — December 1, 2015 @ 4:45 am

  49. I don’t begrudge the operators of any site for operating according to their own internal commenting rules. Ivan, I strongly suspect that the same sorts of approaches get people in trouble at M* and BCC alike. FWIW, I don’t bash M* in any way for its approach to comments.

    SilverRain – don’t trumpet about being banned when you’re only in the moderation queue…

    Comment by Steve Evans — December 1, 2015 @ 8:45 am

  50. Banned, moderated, tomato, tomahto…doesn’t really bother me either way. My same point applies. :D I was “moderated” for trying to clarify my point, and for telling you your opinion of me didn’t matter to me when you called me repugnant.

    Your behavior looks bad on you, not on me. Which is why BCC has the reputation it does, and is why being “moderated” there doesn’t bother me. M* and BCC are two sides of the exact same coin. I believe you both have a right to do what you please in your playground…but I am not going to waste my time playing there very often.

    Comment by SilverRain — December 1, 2015 @ 9:15 am

  51. The only posters I ever censored on my blog were those dropping “F” bombs every other word. Amongst my fellow bloggers, I never once censored them. I wish all of us were like that, we could actually discuss and understand real issues and how to deal with them.

    Comment by Rob Osborn — December 1, 2015 @ 12:18 pm

  52. “don’t trumpet about being banned when you’re only in the moderation queue…”

    LOL. If that were the issue I’ve been banned numerous times. (Usually by making the mistake of including more than two links in my comment)

    Comment by Clark — December 1, 2015 @ 1:01 pm

  53. For the record I’m fine with blog owners banning people. I’ve never banned anyone although I’ve definitely had weird comments I wish weren’t there. However I could easily see doing so.

    I’ve been banned at various blogs and even blocked on Twitter. (Much to my surprise) I think we all sometimes have a sense of entitlement for people reading our comments. You can always write a blog post to comment if you feel that strongly about it. (In fact back in the day that’s often the way we used to do it – speaking as an old timer)

    Honestly I try and shut up if the moderator suggests maybe I have diarrhea of the mouth on a topic. Steve’s done that a few times at BCC and I’ve tried to respect his wishes. He’s always been pretty polite about it and usually with a good sense of humor. Usually looking back after a few days I realize I should have shut up earlier and not feel the need to reply to every rejoinder that came my way. Heaven knows I sometimes monopolize the conversation in a way I really shouldn’t.

    Comment by Clark — December 1, 2015 @ 1:05 pm

  54. Using the verb “trumpet” in an exculpatory post is pretty much prima facie evidence that SilverRain has a good case. I didn’t have a dog in that fight not being a BCC reader, but now I do and I’m on SilverRain’s side. IF ithis goes as it usually does the next post should be something about how prima facie and exculpatory don’t mean what I think they mean. Any wagers?

    Comment by Martin James — December 1, 2015 @ 1:12 pm

  55. Like most here, I agree that a blog owner should be able to censor whoever and whatever they see fit. The problem is that I don’t think anybody disagrees with this claim. What I think Rob is saying is that while bloggers are free to censor what they will, they are NOT free to determine whatever fall out comes from such actions. Such blogs are not free to control how their reputation is effected by such (inconsistent?) censorship.

    Rob isn’t trying to constrain the freedom of BCC, only to call them out on (what he perceives to be) a wrong doing. I simply do not see any value is the “blogs are free to do whatever they want” narrative.

    Comment by Jeff G — December 1, 2015 @ 1:29 pm

  56. In other words, the freedom to censor does not include a freedom from criticism.

    Comment by Jeff G — December 1, 2015 @ 1:47 pm

  57. Jeff, I agree with that as well as bloggers having the right to censor comments. I just think people censored should chill out because it’s really not that big a deal. Obviously it is for some people but I think they’re missing how blog comments have evolved, especially the past 5 years.

    Comment by Clark — December 1, 2015 @ 1:51 pm

  58. Clark, how would you say blog comments have evolved over the past 5 years?

    Comment by JimD — December 1, 2015 @ 3:57 pm

  59. I don’t have a problem with censorship, either.

    I used to comment a bunch on millenial star. The folks over there are quite happy to censor people who are liberal and disrespectful. That’s fine. My comments were mostly liberal while also respectful so as to avoid censorship, but I found that after a while that got too onerous as well, and was warned that I would get banned. At first I was annoyed, and then I realized that I had no obligation to post comments there, and I can’t change everyone’s mind anyway, so why try where I’m not wanted? (I also don’t darken the door at FMH either).

    In fairness to the folks at M*, I think I used to come off more (theologically) liberal than I do now. I somewhat regret the series of posts I did here on the topic of modesty a while back. What I thought was ultimately supportive of the church led some people to accuse me of insinuating ugly things about church leaders, etc.

    Comment by DavidF — December 1, 2015 @ 4:45 pm

  60. JimD (58) speaking of blogs in general most within the last 5 years have shifted to no comments at all. This has especially been pronounced at tech blogs. There were various reasons but mainly due to psychological strain of policing them, the hassle of spam algorithms so often getting past counter-measures, and then just a strong trollish nature at many. It was just easier to get rid of comments entirely. It’s actually surprising so few Mormon blogs have dropped comments.

    Honestly blogging itself has changed a great deal. I think those of us who were around in the early days of Mormon Blogging (say around 2002 – 2003 with Metaphysical Elders or so forth) have noted that a lot of the early bloggers stopped blogging. The sense of community as others have noted has changed. In a certain way there was a working out of a lot of public information in a way that hadn’t gone on before. But once that was done what was there to say? Around the same time, say from 2005 – 2015, the quality of literature on Mormonism (social, historical and theological) skyrocketed. That’s not to knock what came before, but so much is just worked out now.

    Likewise there were big changes in the internet. I was on the original Mormon-L and Morm-Ant. I actually ran Eyring-L and Morm-Ant for a while. In the late 90’s mailing lists started dying out and blogs started becoming prominent. Then blogs started becoming less significant. I’m not a big Facebook guy – I check it about once a month – but I think it took a lot of the wind out of blogs. It also changed, for blogs that persisted, how they often worked. (Speaking more broadly than Mormon blogs) Getting linked to by Facebook, Twitter or one of the other aggregator type sites became much more important than regular readers.

    One thing I’m a bit surprised about is the lack of diversity in Mormon podcasts. Maybe I’m just missing them, but they seem much more on the liberal (theologically and politically) side of the spectrum rather than reflecting a broader group. That may just be me missing some though.

    Comment by Clark — December 1, 2015 @ 5:06 pm

  61. Oh, to add JimD, the reason I don’t think people should freak out about comments is simply because at most blogs comments if they remain are perceived to be adding to the value of the original post. As such those who still have comments tend to police them *very* aggressively so they stay on topic — often to a very narrow line.

    The Mormon blogs have tended to view comments much more like a friendly forum for conversation that work off from the original post. (I didn’t mention forums in the above since they never caught on as much for Mormons as they did in say tech – I used to be on various forums but now the only one I regularly read is the Mac forum at Ars Technica)

    If Mormon blogs follow larger trends then we’ll start seeing more policing so that comments have to address just the original post and its main focus and not go down tangents. The only displayed comments will be those that the blogger thinks add to the original post. I’d also expect more and more blogs to just drop comments entirely.

    Comment by Clark — December 1, 2015 @ 5:11 pm

  62. “JimD (58) speaking of blogs in general most within the last 5 years have shifted to no comments at all.”

    Is there any evidence you can share to support this assertion?

    Comment by O. Harmon — December 1, 2015 @ 6:19 pm

  63. Clark,

    Which way comments go depends on what the owners of the blogs are trying to promote. Those trying to promote information under their control will follow the commercial blogs down the path of limiting comments.

    Those that are using the blog as a form of advocacy still would seem to benefit from having comments because I think participation in a conversation promotes identification with an advocacy message more than those that do not.

    If the type of advocacy one is promoting is basically to rally the like-minded around a particular cause, limiting comments to those promoting a cause seems to be the strategy they would follow (although allowing just enough opposing comment and then isolating them or overwhelming them may promote even more identity formation of the readership).

    The irony of this for Mormon blogs is that the posts often seem addressed to making converts but the trend has been for people to only read what they already agree with and so blogs do become somewhat useless for making converts with or without comments.

    The idea of learning through the conflict of differing viewpoints seems to be an unpopular one right now. The longer this goes on the harder it becomes to ever reverse the trend because the underlying assumptions and worldviews become so different that there aren’t enough commonalities to have a profitable discussion.

    Even though more information is available, we are not only less informed but more systematically mis-informed by our own preferences. We look until we find what is comfortable and then stop looking.

    For those few of us that don’t have strong preferences, this trend to self-referential aggregation has been a disaster. There is no good way to “unbias” one’s search for information because all of the surviving sites are biased toward those that maintain a readership of the like-minded. You can get some proxy for the whole zeitgeist by finding opposite aggregations but that is still different than sites that have a range of opinion represented by a range of comments.

    The whole enterprise seems to be trending towards self-stereotyping. If one is like most people this is all to the good. If one loves nothing more than a fair fight among worthy intellectual combatants – it is getting tougher and tougher to find.

    Comment by Martin James — December 1, 2015 @ 6:27 pm

  64. Martin (63) It’s not just commercial blogs. These days it’s rare to find blogs with comments whereas that used to be the norm.

    I’m not sure I agree that people only read what they agree with. While that is definitely a problem with political blogs I seem to notice a lot of people in the comments at LDS blogs looking for discussion with people they often disagree with. (That’s certainly the case with me, although perhaps that’s unusual) Whether that too will change I can’t say. That’s not to say there aren’t blogs I just won’t bother commenting on. You won’t find many comments from me on say FMH although I still comment occasionally at FPR.

    O Harmon, I have read statistics on this. I don’t have any handy. Again a lot will depend upon the genre of blog you visit. This was a big topic in the tech blogging circle a year or two ago. I saw a bunch of stats then but I can’t seem to find it now. I know going through my rss feed fewer than 20% of blogs have comments. And just by my interests I tend to go to sites that have comments more than those that don’t.

    Comment by Clark — December 1, 2015 @ 7:28 pm

  65. Ive gotten to the point where I will usually not even read someones blog posts if they dont allow comments. I feel dialogue is important on most topics and thus the whole reason blogs became popular. As Martin said, the blogs are getting more sterotypical where blogs are generally oriented to their own ideals and comments that only agree with them survive the censorship. I used to love having dialogue with Mr. Peck about evolution but it became evident early on that he only wanted dialogue with those who honored and worshiped his ideas with him. Around that same time that shift was well in place for bloggers to identify with each other and share ideals together shunning all others out. Over the years there has been a trend now for some of these groupie bloggers and podcast surfers to band together and define their own brand of fringe Mormonism. Some have led to outright disfellowship and excommunications by church leadership as we see with folks like John Dehlin and some of the feminist women movement folks. Whereas once church leadership encouraged blogs to promote the gospel, now their in retraction knowing that mostly, mormon blogs tend to go rouge creating more problems than they solve.

    Comment by Rob Osborn — December 1, 2015 @ 8:52 pm

  66. SilverRain, if it helps, I think that time and increased interaction with each other has helped me understand you a little better. I apologize for being offensive towards you in the past.

    Comment by Steve Evans — December 1, 2015 @ 10:06 pm

  67. Wow, Steve. Thank you. You’ve completely surprised me. I never expected that from you to me. Now I want to bake you some cookies or something.

    Seriously, this week has been rough. I really hope you’re sincere, because I needed that.

    Comment by SilverRain — December 2, 2015 @ 4:37 am

  68. Absolutely sincere. I don’t expect to agree all the time but I should have been nicer and listened more to you.

    Comment by Steve Evans — December 2, 2015 @ 11:44 am

  69. I read all these blogs, while rarely commenting. The discussion about banning is all quite beside the point, and only a little of time on any of the blogs quickly reveal what does and does not get one banned.

    The bigger issue I think is that Bloggernacle participants on the whole have gotten increasingly comfortable/use to challenging church traditions/teachings/orthodoxy/accepted wisdom/whatever you want to call it. That has happened.

    Some remain offended by it in all forms (the “nothing that could sound negative or critical should be said”.

    Some view it as part of maturing; of the learning process; the necessary challenging of ideas to see which ones last or hold merit.

    So you have Millenial Star, where we saw today ji get called out for saying something marginally critical of the Church’s new Christmas video. You have FMH where some people are openly hostile to the Church leadership. And you have BCC, where I see honest, direct questioning, with a – at least in my observation – a clear line of respecting the reality of Christ’s divinity, the restoration, and the Church leadership. I have been genuinely impressed by the overall tone of enabling questions about WHAT the nature of those three central items are, while maintaining respect for them.

    Sorry. That was way longer than intended.

    Comment by Leonard R — December 3, 2015 @ 7:48 pm

  70. I feel like I got my blog listed on MA right as the door was closing. It’s still a reliable source for visits, but nowhere near FB or Reddit for the popular posts. And now I rarely blog anyways, so… oh well.

    Comment by Casey — December 5, 2015 @ 12:15 am

  71. Part of the issue is not just that the aggregators haven’t kept up with new blogs but also the aggregators aren’t really pushed so people don’t know about them. (Beyond more old timers)

    Comment by Clark — December 7, 2015 @ 10:19 am

  72. “And you have BCC, where I see honest, direct questioning”

    The biggest B.S. that has been said yet. They are among the most one viewpoint blog of them all! They might allow for one or two opposing viewpoints in the comments, but these are offset by the avalanche of group-think mockery and attacks that basically shut them down. This creates effectively a censorship through peer pressure. Besides, the honesty and direct questioning is very much built on bias of one’s own ideas. Although there are some good posts, the majority of them are sly hostility against Church leadership and teachings.

    Comment by Jettboy — December 26, 2015 @ 10:17 am

  73. Most of the large group blogs have a common theme and viewpoint. I’m not sure that’s terribly controversial. Like minded people tend to congregate together and those uncomfortable with the main treatments tend to leave the group blog. (I’ve left both FPR and M* for reasons related to that for instance)

    Comment by Clark — December 28, 2015 @ 2:17 pm

  74. I should hasten to add this doesn’t mean there isn’t diversity of thought. Just that most tend to be at least accepting of the main treatments. So someone from M* would likely be uncomfortable at BCC let alone FMH or FPR and vice versa.

    It’s interesting I’ve been at both the most conservative group blog and one of the more secular. (Although when I was at either they weren’t quite so pronounced in a particular view)

    Comment by Clark — December 28, 2015 @ 2:21 pm