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SpokaneFAVS adopts new comment policy

At SpokaneFAVS, part of our mission is to promote respectful dialogue surrounding issues of religion, spirituality and ethics in the Inland Northwest. Because these are sensitive subjects, they can be difficult to discuss and emotions can run high, obscuring the open communication necessary to further understanding.

What sets SpokaneFAVS apart is that it has become a platform – online and offline – for having these discussions in a meaningful and productive way. We welcome diverse views in our writers and commenters and support energetic, enthusiastic and passionate conversations that retain recognition of each other’s humanity.

In keeping with our mission, and to maintain this site as a community where such conversations can happen, SpokaneFAVS has a high standard for online dialogue. We expect our commenters to:

  • Be respectful.
  • Keep it clean.
  • Advance the discussion. Be relevant to the topic at hand.
  • Assume the best of others. Most people who participate with SpokaneFAVS do so because they are invested in increasing interfaith understanding; if you feel misunderstood or defensive, seek clarification first.
  • Ask questions. Search out answers.
  • Bottom line: treat others as you would like to be treated.

SpokaneFAVS does not allow:

  • Obscene, indecent, sexually explicit or offensive text, images or other material.
  • Defamatory, abusive, bullying, harassing, sexist, racist, hateful or violent speech.
  • Flaming (a pattern of personal attacks, name-calling, mocking or baiting).
  • Overposting. Don’t post identical comments on multiple stories or repetitive comments that don’t advance the conversation.
  • Ethnic slurs, religious intolerance, homophobia or personal attacks.
  • Spamming, junk mail, free advertising, commercial offers, etc.
  • Content that violates privacy or copyright laws. We welcome links to articles or websites relevant to the topic at hand.

Comments that violate these standards will be removed at the site administrator’s discretion. Users who disregard these standards will be reminded of the comment policy via the email address provided when commenting and repeated offenses will result in a ban from the discussion forum.

If you feel a comment does not meet these guidelines, please flag the comment as inappropriate (in the top right corner of the comment box) and a site administrator will review it.

The site administrators reserve the right to exercise their best judgment in enforcing this policy.

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Tom Schmidt

Sounds OK, but there is a difficulty with the concept “Offensive to others”. That means that I must know and read the minds of others. Before I post it. It is prior restraint. and overburdens me, or the writer, demanding the impossible. There may be times a writer does not know and the reader is oversensitive, or there is a complex misinterpretation of languages. I can use a term that is not offensive in my social group but which is in another.
Two ways traditionally to handle it. One is the escape to some definition of offensive that involves “majoritarian viewpoint of our culture.” We do this with pornography, and look at the problems it causes. The other is, help the offended state his or her offense and discuss, with understanding apologies required. I like the latter, and keep the former in mind.

Affinity Foundation (Brien)

I tend to agree with Tom on some points. We all want freedom of speech on FAVS, and most of us believe censorship is bad, but at the same time so is being a bigoted insensitive person. Lately, I had to take a break from FAVS because of all the hate talk and disrespect. It turns my stomach but at the same time it’s one of the reasons I started Affinity Foundation.

Hate, bigotry and what I sometimes write about, religious abuse, exist and is an ugly reality of our society. I truly wish it wasn’t, because I personally do not like dealing with it or writing about it. Especially, when many other people just pretend it doesn’t effect their worlds, and usually it doesn’t, until they experience it face to face here on FAVS.

I don’t like it anymore than anyone else, but for what ever reason, I can’t turn it off or shield myself from it just because it turns my stomach, but I often battle with doing just that, so I take a break. Sometimes a long break.

For some reason my thoughts go to something I read awhile back about being a change agent. Maybe that it what some of us at FAVS are, and why we have been brought together.

7C Framework of Successful Change:

Clarity on current and desired situation and goals
Consensus and commitment from writers
Continuous communication
Create critical mass
Carry on

I have absolutely no answers, but maybe we should dwell on this matter a little longer before we decide. If anyone see’s any value in the 7C’s above and how they may apply to us as a group, lets talk. Maybe FAVS is much more than any of us realize and it’s not about us at all but what changes can come from our joint efforts.

I remember a couple of times when some commenter was getting very abusive and several frequent commenters schooled the person in a thoughtful and respectful manner and it actually made a positive difference for the person.


Thanks for your comments Affinity and Tom. We haven’t had a problem with comments until recently when, as you pointed out, people began to get very rude and nasty on here. Every news website moderates their comments. We have been doing that all along, it’s not new. What’s new is having very clear expectations here. Previously our guidelines were hidden and not this concise. To have the constructive dialogue you talk about, means simply outlining some rules. We won’t start taking things down just because it’s “rude” but because of the seven points above, which are very reasonable.

And Tom, to clarify, we don’t say we will take down comments that are offensive to others. We have seven bullet points that explain what will be taken down. We say “Sexually explicit or offensive text.” I think what that means is pretty clear.

Tom Schmidt

Not clear at all. Look at the court cases; all over the place. Never-the-less, if you say something I think is sexually explicit now I can call you on it and there can at least be a discussion, is it? BTW, we run into the same problem about sexual harassment. If I applied what many women would regard as rules about harassing comments to what many men say to each other, or many say to select groups of women, I could complain about a lot. What You think may fit the rules might not be apparent to many others, but your taking offense (even if none is intended) could make it illegal. That is prior restraint of speech, and very dangerous. Let’s get off sex and applied these rules to religion or patriotism. I know many people who do not think many pictures of Mohammed are offensive, but they just might be. Should they be prohibited?
Personally, I handle my own feelings, and tell the one I think is offensive. But even then, it is my feeling. I expect them to be considerate, but not necessarily having prior knowledge of my opinions and feelings.
We often can’t agree on what is sexually explicit. I don’t even think it is offensive, unless connected with violence (causing emotional confusion) or used to humiliate and exploit. And “Explicit”!!. Feet, or long hair, or x amount of front or back cleavage might do it for someone. How do I know?
I happen to think many CSI TV shots are pornographic. So, don’t use or refer to them around me or I may be offended. I also think glorification of the military is offensive. Isn’t the Christian God’s setting his own son up for torture and murder offensive. How about cannibalistic rites? And, did Mary and God have premarital sex? Pardon me if you take offense. None meant. Please don’t oversimplify like you do in your last sentence. I find that offensive, offending my intelligence.
Do you see how complex the issue is? I like the expectation that we be considerate and be willing to discuss possible violations, and that we have some vague guidelines, where concise ones are unwise.

Tracy Simmons

Ok Tom, thanks for your input.

Jan Shannon

In the three years that FAVs has existed, only 4 (I think I’m right?) comments have been removed by the editor. I think that’s a really tiny percentage, and proves that FAVs encourages and allows free and open discussion.

My articles have gotten some really nasty comments, mostly about how I and my ilk are going to hell for sexual perversion, and I have not asked for any of them to be removed. However, when a comment calls for any type of violence, which could be seen as an implicit threat, then I believe that crosses a line.

Some might advocate for a “group conversation” around what constitutes a violation of FAVs guidelines, but as with any group, ultimately, one person bears the brunt of the decision-making process, and as we have seen in the Comments section, many times the group DOES agree that a particular comment violates our, previously unwritten, code of conduct.

I am glad that we, the FAVs community, upholds a high standard of interfaith community conduct, and I wholeheartedly support the new comments policy. One reason I feel so strongly about this, is due to my own, occasional, desire to call someone a f***ing idiot, but knowing that the FAVs community would frown, I refrain. (and, thanks for keeping me in line. We all know…it takes a village)


Thank you Jan 🙂

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