Commentary on the TS Blog Network rules
The rules of the Theistic Satanism Blog Network are here.
Alas, the vast majority of high-profile Satanist forums have tended either to (1) not allow much dissent at all or to (2) degenerate into a total cesspool of flaming and petty bickering.
Of course, this applies as much to other fora as it does to those for Satanists. It’s disappointing that people in general have such a hard time handling the fact that other minds view the world differently.
For example, it is much easier to keep a debate between Satanists and Christians rational and civil if the link to it appears on a page with a title like “Theistic Satanist interfaith discussion,” so that those theistic Satanists who aren’t prepared to deal with Christians in a friendly manner can easily avoid it.
It’s also for those Satanists who might be prepared to deal civilly with Christians, but who realise that Christians might not be prepared to reciprocate. It would be nice if there was some way to differentiate. The separate tag for the “troll playground” is along the right idea, but a lot of “interfaith discussion” can become hostile without much warning. Unfortunately, I don’t know of any way to weed out the hostile Christians et al. except by relying on their own self-policing, just as the network relies on Satanists (and pagans and occultists) to police themselves and use their better judgement.
My soon-to-be-defunct public Yahoo groups have long been noted for attracting a relatively mature and intelligent crowd, and for allowing a very wide variety of people, with a very wide veriety of views, to exchange ideas in peace, to a degree unheard of elsewhere in the online Satanist scene. What has made my forums attractive to the more intelligent folks in the theistic Satanist scene has been precisely my ability to keep the peace while allowing wide-ranging discussion and accommodating many different points of view. However, what a lot of these folks apparently have not realized is that the separation of my forums into different topics and audiences – a feature which various folks have complained about as inconvenient, or as a limitation on their freedom of expression – is an essential part of the secret of how I’ve managed to keep the peace to such a unique degree.
That’s how I always saw it. There was an email group for Theistic Satanists only, where such people could discuss the ins and outs of their spirituality without having constantly to defend it to others, so apologetics didn’t crowd out more in-depth discussion for those who had moved beyond Theistic Satanism 101. The confining of political and social discussion to a separate forum was, I thought, brilliant, and I’m glad to see that that structure will be maintained in the blog network. As Diane has noted, politics and social issues tend to overwhelm other issues in almost any online forum, especially if the people involved are such a politically highly diverse group as Satanists, who range from hippies to neo-Nazis. One thing I’ve found annoying about certain other religiously based internet fora I’ve read is that certain socio-political issues keep coming up in discussions of theology, scripture, folklore, and other places where they’re really not helpful.
Regarding the comment policy, Diane suggests appending posts with prescriptions such as “”Comments requested from Satanists and Pagans and occultists only. Please avoid digression onto sociopolitical topics.” I’ll be curious to see how well this works. On Blogger and WordPress, I’m less familiar with the system. On LiveJournal, one’s Friends may not consist entirely of Satanists or Pagans or what-have-you; they may not be prepared to accept the rules of the blog network. For my own LiveJournal, I intend to post some warning to my Friends that I may be using that journal at times for the blog network, and what it entails, and asking them to either play by the rules or not play at all. LiveJournal is popularly known (by those who do not use it, at least) as a den of angst and drama only slightly more mature than that found on MySpace. I don’t use MySpace, so I don’t know how it compares, and I also tend to avoid those on LiveJournal who gravitate toward melodrama and similar nonsense. Some network members who use LiveJournal may encounter difficulties in moderating comments in their journals. I’ll be interested to see how this develops.
In another post, Diane addresses the issue of the network tag “Theistic Satanism troll playground”. I was a bit curious about this tag myself. Someone commented that
I probably wouldn’t read a post with such a category as “Theistic Satanism troll playground”
to which Diane responded
I chose the name “Theistic Satanism troll playground” was precisely to discourage most readers from looking at that page very often, just as the corresponding Yahoo group, Theistic-Satanists-and-others-3, is deliberately the smallest of my public discusson groups on Yahoo. The fewer people are involved in a highly volatile discussion, the less likely it is to get completely out of hand. So, in my opinion, your agreement with my perception that the name is off-putting is a good reason to keep the name, not a reason to change it. Not only do you agree that it is off-putting, but, even better, you seem to agree with me that it is off-putting in a way that is not likely to push people’s buttons, but instead just looks uninteresting.
I hadn’t thought of that, but it makes sense. It relegates posts that have (or will) become troll fodder to a position where fewer people will bother to click on, read, and potentially participate in them.
I also have to admit that I’m somewhat amused to read Diane’s description of her Yahoo groups as a “dictatorship”. While I can’t refute such a claim, it’s still amusing. It’s a good reminder that dictatorship isn’t necessarily a bad word, as those Yahoo groups functioned quite well and remained quite civil as far as I was aware.
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