Rules of the Road

Hi folks,

I hope to be retolling the blog soon to include an “About Us” feature, some rules for posting and links to other blogs I like. But, as the discussions on the Muslim cartoon riots have elicted some unhelpful behavior, I am going to post the new rules and guidelines now. Please read them before your post again.



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EDOW’s rules for keeping the conversation civil

(Or, how to win friends, influence people and not have your posts deleted.)

Freedom of expression and Christian charity are sometimes in conflict, especially in the blogosphere. Here are some rules for posting on this blog, and some tips for expressing yourself most effectively. Violating the rules may result in the deletion of your posts. If your violations are egregious or recurring, we will have to chase you away.

First, a word about atmosphere.

Some people consider their blog their living room. We don’t. You can say things about the Episcopal Church or the Diocese of Washington on this blog that you might realize would be inappropriate to say if you were a visitor in our homes. (That said, we are your hosts, so personal attacks on the moderators’ methods of moderation, or the bishops of the diocese are not permitted online. We are, however, available for disputation by email.)

We think of the blog as a public space, such as a coffee shop or bar. So the standard of appropriateness is how well you get along with the other posters. We don’t want to host a blog that no one will visit because several of the posters like to pick fights, or because one or two voices dominate every conversation. One of our aims in sponsoring this blog is to attract visitors to our Web site where they can view our evangelism materials. That won’t happen if you are glowering at them form a seat just inside the front door. So don’t do that, and we won’t have to chase you out.

Now for some rules and standards. Our thinking in this area was shaped by Naomi Naughton and others at, Lisa Williams at, the crew at GetReligion, Todd Rhodes at and Tally Wilgis.


You must provide a valid email address.

No name calling.

No hate speech.

No baiting other posters with deliberately inflammatory comments.

One person will not be allowed to post under multiple names from the same IP address.

Five posts per topic—tops.

We will not permit potentially libelous statements. (You may know that the terrible things you are saying about Mr. X are true, but we don’t, and we don’t have time to verify your assertions.)

More generally, if we feel that your behavior on the blog inhibits conversation rather than facilitating it, we reserve the right to remove you.

Keep in mind that a blog is public space. If you are engaged in an argument, consider the nature of your rhetoric. Would your language and tone be appropriate in a classroom? Would it draw uncomfortable glances on a bus? Would it get you tossed out of a bar? If you answered no to the first question and yes to the last two, we reserve the right to delete the post.


We aren’t going to bounce people for an occasional violation of the standards, but we commend them to you as a form of self-policing, and we hope that when a poster violates the standards, other posters won’t be shy about saying so.

1. Respond to an argument with an argument of your own, rather than with a negative characterization of what someone else has said. “That’s just stupid,” does not classify as a rebuttal. In fact, any time you feel the urge to fire off a one line response, especially in the midst of an argument, take a deep breath and reconsider.

2. Avoid comments on the character or purported motives of others on the blog. “You are just saying that because….” constitutes conjecture, and is a tactic typically employed to avoid addressing the substance of what someone else has said.

3. Stay on topic. If your response to a previous comment is going to take the conversation in a direction that has nothing to do with the entry that started the conversation, please email the moderators and perhaps we can accommodate you by starting another topic.

4. Don’t monopolize the conversation. If one of every six or seven posts is yours, that is probably a sign that you are talking too much, unless you are answering questions.

5. If you are writing at length, open up a word document, edit your post to make it as cogent as possible, and then post it. We are likely to look askance at posts of more than 500 words unless they are written with care.

6. Remember that a challenge to your argument does not constitute a personal attack. One can think, for instance, that the Pope is wrong about issue X without being anti-Catholic.

7. You can learn a lot about the art of online argumentation from the young debaters who run this Christian blog.

8. These perceptive rules from the drinksoaked Trots, rules should be read, marked and inwardly digested (as we Episcopalians say) by one and all.

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