Monday, October 4, 2010

Internet Bullies

One of the problems with interactive blogs and e-mail lists is that certain people don't play nice. When this happens the people who should be posting are scared to post. This has destroyed more lists and blogs than I care to mention.

Now, how do I know that it's not just me? Perhaps Pastor Walter is the Internet bully. This must be carefully considered. I've certainly been involved in a good many conflicts in cyberspace. But in fact, most of my conflicts have been with five specific people. I've dealt with hundreds of other people with little difficulty. Many of these people have had views that are different than my own. But we are able to work through that without personal attacks and such.

Cyber bullies are often like NHL goons back in the days when they only had one referee. The goon would get away with his cheap shot and the person who reacted to defend themselves would get a penalty. What I have seen in practice is that those who start the conflicts on line are rarely blamed for it. Those who dare to stand up to the bullies and defend themselves are often treated as if they were the trouble makers.

Is there a solution. Yes, but it is not a popular one. Those who own or manage blogs and lists must carefully police them. They must be careful to identify those who are persistent problems and ban them from the forum. For very large blogs and lists this requires a lot of work. It's hard to do. Further, in some cases the list/blog owner is the problem. This makes any sort or proper monitoring impossible.

Because of some of the bad experiences that I've had on line, I got together with Pr. David Emmons and created the E-Pasture list. Lay people are invited to join. (Only those marked by previous bad behavior will be denied.) Pastors are likewise invited to join, but we do screen them carefully. So there is little bit of vetting process for pastors. We do this keep those who would offer a knee jerk reaction off the list. Pr. Emmons and myself promise to carefully monitor this list so that it is always a comfortable place to discuss Lutheranism.

If you are interesting in discussion Confessional Lutheran theology, practice and related church news, please contact me at

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