I am happy to say that the membership forum – where people can interact with each others’ ideas, thoughts, claims, arguments, and perspectives directly, without any interference from me – is going very well.   We started off slowing, with just a couple of people posting questions, comments, and responses.  It slowly has been building.  And it is getting to be more and more every day.  I want to encourage you to consider contributing – and to tell others about it as a way to increase membership on the blog.

(As you know, blog membership is, for me, what this entire enterprise is about, because I do the blog as a way of raising money for charity.  As far as I’m concerned, the more money raised, the better we’re doing.   Please encourage friends, colleagues, family members, neighbors, and others to join!)

It is very easy to participate in the Forum.   Simply click the tab from the homepage that says, yes, “Membership Forum.”  And go from there.

To this point the posts and responses have followed the rules for the forum.   People have for the most part been on target, kept their comments/posts/responses reasonably short – brief enough that others will want to read them (anything over 500 words is dubious; 50-200 words is probably ideal), and there have not been instances of flat out rudeness or mean-spiritedness.  Yet!

Please remember that I approve every post (or response, or anything else) before it appears.  I try to do this (at this stage, while it is still possible) several times a day.  (If we start getting hundreds of posts, I have no clue what I’ll do.   But for now…)    If anything looks to me to be out of character with what we are trying to achieve on the forum, I will not allow it to post.   “Out of character” means this:  the forum is for a free exchange of ideas about the history of Christianity in antiquity (including the historical Jesus and the NT – but covering anything for the first three hundred years or so), along with cognate areas (such as Hebrew Bible); the posts are expected to be well-thought out and respectful of others.  Let me stress the latter point: respectful of others!

It is best not to post simply questions such as “Oh yeah??  Says who????”  Instead, provide substantive responses, with actual information, or well-thought out responses.  And it is never appropriate to be abusive.

Some members of the forum have requested that a feature be added to make it possible to prevent them from having to read posts from someone (or someones) whose opinions they no longer want to hear.  This seemed like a completely reasonable request to me.   Steven Ray, my computer assistant and all-things-fix-it guy, has devised a way to make this happen.   Here’s how he describes it in the “Technical Support” tab on the forum:

Due to membership request, a feature has been added to the forum to either follow the posts of those members you desire to follow, or hide the posts of those who annoy you with irreverent or preposterous content.

Here is how you do it:

When you are logged in, click on the button “Profile” on the top right. There is a tab on the top right called “Buddies and Adversaries.” Then click on the left button “Manage Adversaries.”

Enter the users name(s) you wish to ignore. You will not see their posts nor be open to receive private messages.

Many thanks to everyone who is making the forum a success.  If anyone has any questions or comments about it, please contact me and/or support(at)ehrmanblog(dot)org.