I run / help admin three separate sites. This blog is the first, my parish website is the second, and a Catholic chat / information page is the third. Technically, I moderate the sometimes torrential threads that spawn on my Facebook, too, so let's round it to four.
On each of these sites, I have an open-comment policy. Folks can leave any comment without gaining approval first. However, I reserve the right to delete entries that are flammatory, hostile, or deliberately misleading. So far on this site (*knock on all wood available*), I haven't had to delete more than two comments. This is probably due to the fact that this blog isn't as well-traveled as the other two, and the material I tend to cover is personal enough that folks don't get offended by that which I state. Also, being a Catholic blog, I tend to only get traffic from other Catholics. Ha ha.
However, the Catholic chat site is another ball game. It's much more traveled and draws folks from all religious backgrounds (plenty of atheists, too, just to get their kicks from tormenting those of us who enjoy talking about Jesus). As a result, moderation is extremely strict.
Similarly that's true for the parish website. We get plenty of parishioners who drop by, especially now that I created a "Prayer Blog" section for folks to digitally submit their personal intentions for the month. Thus far, the Prayer Blog itself has been a success. We've gotten plenty of great feedback, and even grew our tiny prayer chain, fostering community.
Last night, however, I came home to an "intention" that made me cringe. Being solely responsible for content on the website (including comments in need of moderation), I must've turned 7 shades of purple in my embarrassment. I hadn't seen the comment until the evening, but the poster had submitted it about 4 hours prior. God only knows how many people came across it before I deleted the entry! Heaven forbid dogmatic confusion spring up as a result of my carelessness regarding comment approvals.
Anyway, that's what spawned this entry. Personally, I find the approval process stifling. If folks want to discuss something with one another, the approval process makes it difficult because the element of time is variable. Granted, a prayer blog isn't exactly the proper vehicle for conversation, but still.
I realize now - begrudgingly - that I have to have approvals up for at least the parish website. God forbid content there doesn't reflect our Catholic heritage! Thus, I talked it over with my pastor (and a good friend). We all came to the conclusion that approvals are necessary in order to ensure the integrity of our Catholic identity.
This reminded me of a none-too-happy dialogue I was forced to have with a friend of mine regarding moderation on Facebook.
I take moderation VERY seriously. Sometimes my Facebook threads weave upwards of 40-50 comments. Content for these threads is typically polarizing and folks get their panties in a bunch with impressive ease. Tempers flare and the occasion to send off a mean-spirited assault is frequent. As a result, I take great care to provide a respectful, intellectually honest place for folks to exchange ideas. I'm not a perfect moderator, but I really do pride myself in squashing the ad hominem attacks people dish out, and I'm always on top of holding folks accountable for misleading / incorrect information posted to these threads.
That being said, I expect the same to be true of others who establish threads on their pages. Unfortunately, I learned the hard way that not all people are capable and/or willing to moderate the threads they haphazardly start.
Folks are all about generating commentary because it gives them a sense of popularity. I get that. But let's be real... commentary shouldn't just be about your flippin' popularity. If you're linking intelligent articles and asking for honest opinions, you should be prepared to moderate any thread that spawns from it.
Then again, that could very well just be me - I admit holding myself to a higher standard for these sorts of things, but it's because of my dedication to intellectual honesty and the free-flow of ideas between two groups of polarized people. Honest, respectful communication is the only bridge that divide has, so I believe it must be fostered at all costs.
Truth be told, I confronted the offending party for this gross oversight, and she has yet to see anything even remotely wrong with her outlandish behavior. This SHOULD be unsurprising considering her personality, but still... it drives me up a wall that there is no accountability on sites like Facebook. Folks will create a front in which they present themselves as intelligent adults looking to discuss political / social / religious / local issues, but in reality, they're just looking to find a platform to shout their opinions. These folks don't ACTUALLY want to discuss. They don't actually want to learn / teach / share. They want to be thought of as funny. They want to be thought of as intelligent. They want to be seen as champions of activism. In reality, all they want is the gilded facade. Very few people are willing to engage in anything more than their polished (and empty) shell.
Very disheartening. Very, very disheartening.
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