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Dave,

Interesting thoughts. I have to chime in quickly to disagree with your comments about censorship. Many people assume that censorship can only apply to government entities, but that isn't actually how the word has typically been used. Religious and private organizations have routinely been described as censors; one good example is Hollywood's old Hayes Code system, which has routinely been described as a censorship system even though it was not governmental. (For examples, see here.)

The Oxford English Dictionary's first non-Roman definition for 'censor' is as follows: "One who exercises official or officious supervision over morals and conduct." Note the clever "official or officious" bit; clearly, any moral judge of any kind fits this definition of censorship. To the extent that the MA is in the business of judging blog posts to determine whether they meet a moral standard, the MA is indeed in the business of censorship.

That isn't intended as a value jugdement; most edited forums automatically involve censorship. But complaining about the word usage seems a bit tricky.

I sometimes think people take blogging a tad too seriously. . .

From the trenches, the delisting appears nitpicky. MormonStories seems to have a pretty solid presence in the Mormon blog space (esp. compared to some of the tiny blogs listed), and it certainly fits in the same "relatively faithful" spectrum as many of the blogs listed on MA. Ultimately, I'm now less likely to visit MA, because I like the tone and the range of conversation at Mormon Stories.

That said, I don't have any opinion of the three options--MA is its own thing, with its own agenda. I just figure that I'm probably not part of its target audience.

I'd like to know the real story of why the Foyer went off line and then came back, seems more interesting than the rest of the soap opera.

Yeah, MA is a bastion of snobs and hardliners. What's new?

I vote for option 2!!! It's the most fun!!!! :)

I'd like to comment on your statements.

I'd first of all like to say that it is of course completely within the rights of those who run MA, to choose who they will feature on it; they don't owe anything to anyone.

But I do take issue with your statement that "The MA aggregator is just a glorified blogroll. There is nothing official about it, and being listed or not doesn't confer membership or obloquy on anyone."

Just a little while ago you wrote Defining The Bloggernackle. This post centered around defining who is in fact a member of 'The Bloggernackle". I think that because the MA bills itself as "The Gateway to the Boggernackle", and because most those who run the MA are pretty much founding members of the bloggernackle, exile from the MA pretty much connotes exile from the bloggernackle.

It is my view that being kicked out of the MA is akin to being kicked out of "The Bloggernackle". I am not saying that such exiles are unwarranted, but I do think the 'it's just a blogroll' argument is nothing more than a convenient way of dismissing criticism. It isn't just a blogroll, for us losers who blog way too much, the MA signifies acceptance into the faithful blogging community. For a blogger like you, who is seen as being a foundational personality in the bloggernackle such acceptance is implicit; for others like myself, it is not.

Oh, and to answer the original question: if you are going to ban someone, they should be banned for life. Either they conform or they don't, doing it on a post by post basis will just make many bloggers nervous about their posts. Oh, and if they are going to be banned, they should be warned; some people just offend on accident.

RT, we all make moral judgments of one sort or another every day -- that doesn't make us all censors. I'd argue that the Hays Code is pretty close to fitting my description of censorship: it did prohibit some content; it was regulation by an industry group essentially performing a government regulatory function. I don't think that example justifies applying the term "censorship" to the MA in anything but a pejorative way. Plenty of folks who ought to know better label Bush a fascist in much the same way. One can oppose his policies without abusing history in the process.

Jared, I agree that the aggregator as a tool has its limitations -- it can list 30 blogs or even 50 blogs but not 300. So the continuing growth in new blogs means a better tool or different approach is needed. I just don't know quite what that is yet. I'm no code warrior, just a simple blogger.

Dave,

There's no abuse of history involved in using the term "censorship" to mean trying to make speech less available to people on the basis of moral judgment. As I showed above, that's the first modern definition of the word "censor" in the leading dictionary of the English language.

And doesn't delisting from the MA hide content from a large part of the LDS blogging audience? Of course, it doesn't eliminate content altogether -- but it does make it less visible to the significant chunk of people who organize their blog reading around ldsblogs.org, doesn't it? Presumably we wouldn't worry about delisting anyone at all if that weren't the case, right?

I agree with Jared above - I'd say that the argument that MA is just a blogroll is quite disingenuous based on the previous discussions of who is or who is not part of the "bloggernacle".

Further, if the reason for the delisting was the fact that they have a post referencing the Foyer, could not Dehlin simply say he did it "Because it's my blog and I wanted to"? Or is that position only tenable for those on the listing committee?

It appears that MA has been looking for a way to delist Stories (again, reference the earlier Bloggernacle post). That's entirely your prerogative, but I think further and continued actions such as this will relegate MA to exactly what you are describing, little more than a glorified blogroll, and one with diminishing relevance to readers.

I don't use MA--I prefer LDSelect that I like better, because its comment filter allows me to track comments specifically in the threads that I'm participating in.

That said: Mormon Stories is a great blog. It's one of the 4 or 5 blogs that I read regularly. There's as much reason to include it in MA as there is any other blog in the bloggernacle.

How about delisting blogs for awhile when they're just plain boring, dumb, or not even discussing Mormonism? I mean, there should be other measures of whether they're worth listing than whether they're big, run by your friends, or never ever say anything that might offend anyone. So if Times and Seasons has a long discussion of whether or not they like DKL and then has a popularity vote on who's the favorite commenter, you'd drop them until they actually posted something worth bothering with. Same thing with Mormon Mommy Wars-- which is really more Mommy than Mormon, as far as I can tell.

I like to visit MA occasionally simply to see what's going on in some blogs I don't already have in my blog aggregator. It's useful in that sense.

But my own aggregator for the bloggernacle is not MA, I use a "bloggernacle" folder in my "Bloglines" web aggregator. I also like "Feed Demon," but that costs money and Bloglines is free.

List John.

I vote to keep MS on MA.

DKL, I think it is obvious to everyone that you prefer LDSelect (as do I).

I find Mormon Stories to be more "Mormon" and more interesting and more informative than any other blog on the "nackle". Despite what has been written, John did not throw a fit. If ya'll delist Mormon Stories because he referenced a topic that you didn't like wouldn't that be like the church burying topics that make it look bad? That would make us all blog furiously.

My vote goes to "who cares". No one ever complains if I remove their blog from the blogroll at Our Thoughts. Sure, MA is different than our blogroll, but that's because of the purpose they serve and their marketing efforts. Just because they are popular and effective, doesn't mean they are official.

MA doesn't need John and John doesn't need MA. Both will survive without the other.

Now I see why BCC got rid of a blogroll altogether. I know I certainly wouldn't want to be caught in the middle of the mudfest over at the MS post linked above.

I vote keep it.

FYI, it was Mormon Stories that introduced me to mormon archipelago. My perspective being the relatively faithful, I still found the podcast absolutely fascinating. I think the general tone of the blog is such that you need not be afraid of directing anyone there by accident. If they don't like it, well they can vote with their feet. Bottom line--I miss my shortcut.

Hey, DKL, what was that site again that you use? Your position has been so foggy on so many different blogs that I just want to make sure that I am clear as to which aggregator you prefer. In fact, I think there might be a couple blogs left that still don't know where you stand, but you'll have to use LDSelect to find them.

Paula,
That's really funny (even though you were at least partially serious).

Also forgot to vote--yes keep MS on ldsblogs.

I vote to keep 'Mormon Stories' listed. I find John Dehlin's podcasts a unique and valuable addition to LDS-themed internet sites.

You should all note that if you log in to LDSelect.org you can de-list any of the blogs for yourself. Hate T&S? You can delist it! Love Rusty? You can make 9M the only blog in the first box!

In the past there has been an issue of reciprocity in which MA has asked blogs listed (or at least listed in certain boxes) to display the MA logo. In my mind this has the potential to complicate the issue somewhat. By asking participating sites to cross promote them it seems that arbitrarily dropping such a site is a little more problematic than it would otherwise be. Not that it couldn't be done, but that the fact that a blog has contributed back to MA should be taken into consideration when a ban is weighed.

Personally I've never read the blog and I don't care what they do, but I do find the drama to be fun.

Sigh,

Can't we all just get along? (wiping a tear from my eye)

John Dehlin has been very nice to me. I've missed out on some of the arguments, a lot because they're totally over my head.

I'm keeping him on my links. And if I have a vote, I'd vote to keep him on LDS blogs.

I wish you would come over to my house and walk me through LDSelect ARJ, I have a password and everything, but I'm clueless. I just go there and take it as it comes.

Well, the Dehlinistas are making a fine showing on this thread. With fans like this, John, you ought to run for mayor of Logan.

It's fair to note that MA has been listing Mormon Stories for about a year and (as far as I know) plans to list it again shortly. I see the LDSelect logo but not the MA logo on the Mormon Stories sidebar, so MA has been sending John a lot more traffic than MS has been sending back. You're welcome.

Dave,

He took it off when the brou-ha-ha erupted. Turnabout is fair play, don't you think?

Bryce is putting the logos on ours. I don't know how to do that, but we have the links.

I link everybody. If I forgot anybody, it's totally by accident.

Hey Dave!

I've had the MA logo up on Mormon Stories for the entire time. I only took it down once you delisted me (1 or 2 days ago).

I'll put it back up if/when I'm relisted, so don't worry. I haven't been ungrateful.

However, when I was no longer a part of MA, it didn't seem to make sense to appear as though I was.

Dave,

I failed to mention in my previous post that there currently isn't a link to MA at the site. It is my recollection that there was in the past, but honestly I hardly ever look at it. As I did manage to mention I think it is a pretty small consideration either way.

Mormon Stories is a great source of info in the Bloggernacle. John Dehlin can only be described as a sincere, truth-seeking guy. To even partially silence him would be a disservice to all of us. I vote to keep him around permanently.

DKL:

I don't use MA--I prefer LDSelect that I like better, because its comment filter allows me to track comments specifically in the threads that I'm participating in.

Bloody hell, man! Have you no shame!!

Mormon Stories has outgrown the bloggernacle in so many ways. John does a great job and the merits of his work have and will continue to propel his goals regardless of how the bloggernacle decides to react to MS.

Your bullet points may be true, but few of them address the issue. Mormon Stories used to be listed at ldsblogs.org, now it is not. The only real issue is "Why?", and your bullet points above largely skirt the issue. If, according to John, the only reason to de-list was John's link to View From the Foyer, then the decision to de-list Mormon Stories seems petty, personal and possibly vindictive. If that is not the case, if it is a case of MS not fitting ldsblogs.org "profile", then many other blogs listed would be delisted too. It doesn't add up.

ldsblogs.org can do what they want, but as a supporter/user/customer of ldsblogs.org, let me exercise my right to issue a "customer complaint" and say that the decision strikes me as self-righteous and a little hypocritical.

My feelings aren't very strong here. I am in general agreement with the MA board. I am glad someone else is doing some filtering for me. I didn't go to MS very much. As I understand it, the site caters to disaffected mormons. This seems to go against the goals of the MA. To me the only odd thing is that it was listed in the first place, and lasted as long as it did.

I say removing it is consistent with the goals of the MA. I am in general agreement with these goals.

Matt (#35), let me quote from John's own comments on the thread at MS:

Philosophically, I totally believe that moderation is necessary and important on the Internet. But I am sad. I’m sad that I considered many of these guys friends, and none of them felt it important enough to contact me before they did this. I had to find out from someone randomly on the Internet.

In the first sentence, he is actually agreeing with what was done at MA by acknowledging that moderation (editing comments, posts, and links) is a necessary part of running a site. Not everyone is going to agree with every edit or deletion -- that's unavoidable.

The next three sentences can only be described as bullshit (see my recent post referencing the recent Sunstone Symposium for a little context to that characterization). That's just the sort of fluff that spices up a post and gives people something to react to and comment on. John's just milking it for a little blog mileage, but I can't believe anyone would take that pose at face value. You can't believe everything you read.

As for my bullet points not addressing the issue, here's a direct quote from one of them:

Some weblogs don't fit with what MA does. Why not? Because MA lists a selection of weblogs that host discussions of Mormon-related topics from a relatively faithful perspective. If you want weblogs that talk about Mormon topics from a different perspective, they are not hard to find, but it's not MA's purpose to provide links to them.

MS chose to highlight a site that is radically inconsistent with MA's approach, and MA dropped the feed so that post wouldn't be highlighted on MA. What exactly don't you get about what's going on?

Dave said, "MS chose to highlight a site that is radically inconsistent with MA's approach, and MA dropped the feed so that post wouldn't be highlighted on MA."

Is that really true? First and foremost, DMI highlighted the same site, but nothing happened to it.

Secondly, was it MA, or was it two or three people from MA? Was a vote even taken? Were the other members even informed? That's what makes the MA particularly interesting to me. It purports to be a committee or group--but from what I gather, decisions can often be made unilaterally by the guys who control the server.

So was this really a group decision, or the decision of Geoff, Dave and maybe J. Stapley? I don't think you even have consensus enough within the MA to say that this was an MA decision. You may want to restate.

As for your mockery of my feelings and sincerity--I think that tells us more about how you operate than how I do. I can tell you this--if I had been in charge, I would have cared enough about the person to contact them first before I booted them. In other words, I really do try to treat people how I hope to be treated. I've done it directly with the folks I've moderated recently on MS (or at least I've made the attempt). Again--I think you're telling us more about your own nature and personality than you are describing mine.

Dave:

So John’s sadness is a pose? He’s faking it? Please. Yes, I accept his sadness at face value. I’m not sure I would have expected anyone to contact me before de-listing me, but I believe his sadness is legitimate. I think it’s lame that you are calling this into question.

I believe John sees what he is doing with Mormon Stories as being on par with what DMI, T&S, BCC, and the other ‘nacle institutions are doing— providing a place for Mormons to discuss their beliefs/fears/complaints/gratitude for all things Mormon. John casts his net a little wider than T&S and BCC, but his target audience is still mainstream Mormons, in my opinion. It would hurt me too if my brother and sister Blogs voted me off the Island because I was too liberal, or deemed “anti”.

I’m being a little flip here, but if Christ himself started a Blog, I believe it would have more in common with Mormon Stories than DMI, T&S, and BCC. Like John, he’d be trying to bridge the gap between Mormons and ex-Mormons/non-Mormons/etc., not writing exclusively to one camp or the other. Although he’d probably be a better writer than John.

I consider Mormon Stories sympathetic to Mormonism, and therefore eminently worthwhile for inclusion at Mormon Archipelago. It is not an “anti” Blog. Cutting off MS is the Church equivalent of excommunicating members with doubts.

I don’t know, maybe I’m completely out of touch with conservative Mormon sentiments, but I’d be shocked if it were put to a vote at T&S, BCC, and M* and more than 10% voted to de-list Mormon Stories. Many might not be frequent visitors to Mormon Stories, but to actually feel strongly enough to vote for its exclusion from Mormon Archipelago?

Finally, you say, “MS chose to highlight a site that is radically inconsistent with MA's approach.” Radically inconsistent? Really?

Furthermore, is Ned Flanders or Various Stages of Mormonism or Spinozist Mormon or SunstoneBlog that much different from Mormon Stories? (Sorry if I’ve offended the writers of any of those blogs by comparing them to Mormon Stories.)

Sorry if my post seems defensive or personal (not to mention rambling). My beliefs/feelings relative to Mormonism are not too far removed from John’s, and yet I’ve always felt a kinship/closeness/love for my fellow Mormon brothers and sisters throughout the Bloggernacle. I didn’t feel like we were that far apart. I’ve enjoyed and been strengthened by the dialogue. Even though I have nothing to do with Mormon Stories, the summary dismissal of it from Mormon Archipelago makes me feel like I am not part of the dialogue, I am not worthy or wanted. But maybe I’m just full of bullshit.

Fine, John, you were very sad when you noticed your feed was dropped at MA. So you host wide-ranging discussions at Mormon Stories, interview people whose views cross the entire spectrum of belief and doubt, speak at Sunstone Symposia with comments ranging from praise to curiosity to criticism, and all of that is OKAY — but you fall to pieces when MA drops your feed for a week? Puhlease. By suggesting that you were just exaggerating for effect, I was being charitable.

I think Stapley responded to your other questions in a comment at MS. You seem to think the primary criterion for any action taken by MA should be how John Dehlin's feelings will be affected. I'm sure we're not the first group of people you've dealt with in life who don't lose any sleep over how you choose to feel about things.

Matt, you seem oblivious to the fact that MA has posted the MS feed for close to a year. So obviously no one thinks MS is an "anti" blog, whatever that is. And it's worth pointing out that MA lists posts from Sunstone Blog just like any other B'nacle blog. MA is considerably more open to posting feeds that discuss the sorts of issues you think are worth discussing than you're giving MA credit for.

Anytime one tries to assemble links, aggregate posts, or host comments, there will be close calls or toss-ups about what to approve, what to edit, and what to delete. Before you take MA to task, maybe you ought to review the Sunstone Blog comment policy, which certainly envisions a good deal of editorial control over comments that don't match up with that blog's defined mission and comment standards. That's no criticism -- most successful forums end up with a similar policy.

Dave, I'm aware that MA listed the MS feed for more than a year. That is why I find the move to de-list MA troubling. MS is the same yesterday as it is today. Nothing has changed at MS, but something has changed at MA.

I'm aware of SunstoneBlog's comment policy as I helped draft it. Editing content in the case of an Individual Blog, or picking and choosing which Blogs to include for an Aggregator Blog is such a given, so obvious, I haven't chosen to even comment on it. I've never argued against MA's right to edit content. For example, SunstoneBlog just deleted a comment yesterday because it didn't meet its comment policy. See comments #24 thru #28 here: http://sunstoneblog.com/?p=103#comment-2218 The fact that you are pointing these obvious facts out to me makes me think that you are avoiding the issue, or I am just a terrible communicator.

I'm not arguing for the inclusion of RFM or any of the Blogs that are clearly outside the scope and mission of MA. I get that. This is about MS, no one else. MA feels that MS no longer meets its criteria for listing. The reason or justification for the move mystifies me. That's all.

This is all sort of tempest-in-a-teacup for me. And I have a hard time getting worked up over censorship non-issues. As for cliquishness, I have no idea if it exists around here or not. I tend to be pretty oblivious to that kind of stuff (and happily so).

But sending an email prior to delisting seems like a good idea. If it were me being reprimanded here, I'd apologize for failing to send an email and leave it at that.

But not much else.

Matt (#39) writes:

"I’m being a little flip here, but if Christ himself started a Blog, I believe it would have more in common with Mormon Stories than DMI, T&S, and BCC."

You'd best be careful with those kinds of statements, Matt -- you're on the road to losing your status as one of my favorite blogless commenters . . .

:P

"I’m being a little flip here, but if Christ himself started a Blog, I believe it would have more in common with Mormon Stories than DMI, T&S, and BCC."

I disagree. I think he'd have a blog that focused in on carpentry to get away from his job discussing religion all day. But he'd get very sad in the flame fest about what kind of joint to use. Jesus apparently was all about rabbits, mortise and tenons as well as other "natural" joinery whereas a few malcontent commenters kept bringing up dowels. Needless to say Jesus brought up the fact he was God and had omniscient knowledge about joints. But then someone had the affront to say that Jesus would have used dowels. (There was some confusion as many people thought that the blog was actually run by a Mexican immigrant names Jesus (Hey-hus).) Delisting of links ensued and there were rumors of a little divine smackdown although I'm sure the volcanic eruption was just a coincidence and had nothing to do with a replay of Sodom and Ghommorah.

Kaimi (#43),

Well, I wouldn't want one of my favorite Bloggers to turn on me, so I'll strike T&S from my statement. ;)

I just find our human propensity to excommunicate each other from our communities sad. In a few exceptions it is probably warranted, but more times than not, what is lost far outweighs what is gained.

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