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New Rules for Comments on the Blog


I have made an executive decision involving rules for comments on the blog.  I have received complaints from blog users about some of the comments.  I think we all (the thousands of us!) are doing well when it comes to being polite and reasonably generous with one another, unlike a lot of other sites.   But some of the comments are distracting, either because there are so many of them from one person or because they are excessively long.

The comment section of the blog was never intended to be a forum for people to develop at great length their personal views about something – that is, it was never to be a blog for other people who have always wanted their own blog.  It was meant to be a place where people could interact with fair concision both with me directly and with one another, where people could be open to new ideas and thought, where people could express themselves succinctly and to the point and give and gain new ideas.

I don’t want users of the blog to be turned off by the fact that some comments read more like dissertations, or that some people feel impelled to make many many comments every day.  That turns some people off, and discourages *them* from participating in the comment section.

And so, my executive decision.   From now on, every blog member is allowed to make only three comments per day, and comments need to be 400 words or less.

That is still a generous amount, but it can help bring control to the blog.   Comments longer than 400 words I simply won’t approve and post; and once someone has made three, I won’t approve and post any of the others.   My hope is with these limits on the comments, everyone who makes one will be forced to choose their spots carefully, to say what is most important to them, and to say it at a length that will encourage others to read and thoughtfully consider them.

Let me stress that I do NOT want to restrict your ability to interact even more extensively with one another, should you want to do so.  And so I strongly recommend that for those of you who are interested in even more engagement, you utilize the very handy Forum.  I do not monitor usage there, although I do see all the posts.  And I am happy to intervene even there if I receive complaints, especially about anyone who is not following our blog policy of politeness.  No verbal attacks – even there!   But otherwise, you are free to post to your heart’s content.

If you have any questions about this new comment policy, please let me know, either in a comment or via email.  My hope is that the policy will make the blog even more helpful and useful to all of you who have paid good money to be on it.

If there are other improvements I can make, please do let me know.


Upcoming Speaking Events, Fall 2018
Taking the Temperature of the Blog: June 2018



  1. Avatar
    Judith  June 21, 2018

    Should make the blog better though you know by now I don’t think it can be better!

  2. Avatar
    jjlewis  June 21, 2018

    Even though I personally usually skip over long comments or many from the same poster(s), I want to thank you for this policy and the time it takes you to express and much greater time to implement it. I also want to express empathy around how hard it is to be in a position of having to establish and maintain boundaries. I read you for your scholarly work but also for the deep human connection that comes through in your writing and blog — a pastoral presence, often, not just scholarship. Boundaries are hard and they are important!

  3. Avatar
    ddecker54  June 21, 2018

    Good idea. I’m one of those who have come to only look at the comments that you reply to. Some of the comments are longer than your post! Thanks.

  4. Avatar
    Tom  June 21, 2018

    As executive decisions go, this is easily among the best!

  5. Avatar
    kentvw  June 21, 2018

    Here’s a “You Should!” comment. Bet you just love these…
    You Should make it a prerequisite that anyone allowed to comment read “On Writing Well” and give a test. before being given permission. 🙂

  6. Avatar
    Hon Wai  June 21, 2018

    Restricting comments is a great idea – good for yourself and other subscribers. It would be ideal if the limit is exceeded, the subscriber receives an automated message that the comment has not been submitted as it exceeds the limit. Hence no intervention on your part at all. I would suggest in addition to daily limit, set weekly limit as well – otherwise someone determined to abuse the system would just wait next day to continue.

  7. talmoore
    talmoore  June 21, 2018

    Can we divide one comment into three blocks of 400 words?

    (Honestly, I’m surprised you didn’t implement this policy sooner.)

  8. Avatar
    Eric  June 21, 2018

    I wanted to complain about this new policy, but my draft was 412 words long.

    Good idea, and encourage the essayists to take their contributions to the forum, as you say, a better and more appropriate and interactive venue.

  9. Avatar
    JoeRoark  June 21, 2018

    Thank you! When the comments became longer than your posts, I ignored them.

  10. Avatar
    rivercrowman  June 21, 2018

    Love your imposed 400-word limit on comments. A farm editor once suggested to me that 400 words was reaching the limit of the typical farmer’s attention span. And three comments per day? That’s very generous. I can’t think of three comments in a day, and I’m retired!

  11. Avatar
    Boltonian  June 21, 2018

    Good move, Bart.

  12. Avatar
    rburos  June 21, 2018


  13. Avatar
    JohnMuellerJD  June 21, 2018

    Blog Feedback.

    Love the Executive decision re comments and 1000-word length of posts. I am fine with past excerpts so long as there is a brief commentary stating nothing substantial has changed. I think blasts from the pasts are good for new blog members and while I would love 7 posts a week, but so long as there is one a month, I am still a member.

    One thing I would like to see changed/fixed(?), is many times at the end of a post is a link which to the “prior post” (i.e., the link at the end of this June 21 post is to “taking the temperature of the blog”) but it sometimes goes to a prior “category” post and not simply the post from the previous day (“taking the temperature of the blog” was posted June 11 and six posts were published between the 11th and 21st), and hence when I click on what I presume is a “prior post” link, I miss several chronological posts. This is more problematic when reading posts on a mobile device or from years past because there is no index of chronological posts visible so merely clicking on the “prior post” link at the end of a post often results in missing several awesome chronological posts. Not sure if this is intentional, but I would like to see the “prior post” always link to the “prior chronological” post.

  14. Avatar
    Pattylt  June 21, 2018

    Thank you! Although some of the long posts of some commenters is interesting, the forum is a much better place for them. Just post a short comment and let me know that you developed it further on the forum. It makes the comments better and the forum better. Everyone wins!

  15. Avatar
    prestonp  June 21, 2018

    1. On the first day of the week, around dawn, at the shadowy moment when the sunlight was just breaking out at the horizon, Mary Magdalene led a company of women, including Mary the mother of James and Salome, to the tomb (Mt 28:1; Mk 16:1–4; Lk 24:1–3; Jn 20:1–2).

    2. Before their arrival, an earthquake occurred and an angel rolled away the stone sealing the tomb (Mt 28:2–4).

    3. Arriving at the tomb, they noticed that stone was rolled away and the keepers have fled (Mk 16:4; Lk 24:2; Jn 20:1).

    4. As they entered into the sepulchre, they noticed that the Lord’s body was missing (Lk 24:3). Mary Magdalene immediately left to tell Peter and John (Jn 20:2). Did she see the angels? Perhaps; but she had left before the angels said anything.

    5. The rest of the women entered into the sepulchre, and the angels, which were seated near where the Lord laid, stood up and spoke to them (Mt 28:5–7; Mk 16:5–7; Lk 24:4–8).

    6. They left the tomb with a mixture of fear and joy, wanting to go to the disciples to tell them the news (Mt 28:8). But fear apparently overcame them, and for a while they were afraid to tell anyone anything (Mk 16:8).

    7. Peter and John arrived at the tomb running (Lk 24:12a; Jn 20:3–4).

    8. They inspected the tomb and left (Jn 20:5–10; Lk 24:12b).

    9. Mary Magdalene returned to the tomb, where she encountered the angels, and then met the Lord Himself (Jn 20:11–18). She was the first person to meet the Lord (Mk 16:9). She then went again to report to the disciples who must have been grieving at the news that Peter and John brought back (Mk 16:10–11).

    10. The Lord met the other women and encouraged them not to be afraid, but to tell His disciples to meet Him in Galilee (Mt 28:9-10).

    This is an attempt to explain resurrection contradictions.

    Hey Bart,
    I thought I posted this yesterday but can’t find it anywhere. That’s why I’m trying again here. Sometimes I can’t figure out why or if you’ve blocked a comment, so if I post again, it’s not because I’m trying to be difficult. I wonder if perhaps I never posted it.

    • Avatar
      Iskander Robertson  June 22, 2018

      in both luke and matthew, it is reported that mary m heard the angel speak. in matthew and luke there is no indication that the mary saw the angel and then departed, not hearing what he had to say. in luke, it does not say that mary was PERPLEXED and then left the other women who were perplexed. if apologetic spin is allowed, then mary m would have to report to peter two times and peter comes to the tomb two times not knowing anything about resurrection. this is a comedy.

    • Avatar
      prestonp  June 25, 2018

      Comments made in the area without moderation count toward the total permitted each day or no?

      • Bart
        Bart  June 25, 2018

        I’m not sure what you’re asking. Anything after the first three is not posted. (Is that what you’re asking?)

        • Avatar
          prestonp  June 26, 2018

          No luck clarifying this issue. “A Readers’ Forum. At present, the only way for any of you to post something that you want to say is to reply to me about a post and then possibly have someone reply to you (the latter of which doesn’t happen with incredible frequency). We are considering opening it up to have a Readers Forum feature as part of the blog; this would allow readers to pose questions or make comments, not to me, but to anyone on the blog, and carry on conversations back and forth with each other instead of always through me. We are working out the kinks for how this should work, and figuring out if it can be done without increasing exponentially either the expense of the blog (since, well, I pay for the expense of the blog :p ) or the amount of time that I devote to it.” Bart

          Bart, are we limited to the 3 post limit on the “Readers’ Forum” ? And, say we post 3 comments there, can we still make 3 comments on the main forum?

          • Bart
            Bart  June 27, 2018

            I already answered your question.

  16. Avatar
    John  June 21, 2018

    I would have thought 1 comment per day would be enough for most people. I thought the purpose of the comments section was to interact with what YOU wrote on the blog.

    There is a perfectly good forum for discussion with each other.

    • Avatar
      ardeare  June 22, 2018

      I used to think the same thing. But sometimes you’ll want to respond to the previous days’ post in an effort to clarify your point. Especially if someone has responded and you feel like you need to make some sort of a stand before moving on (friendly but informative). For example, today we have 33 comments. Come back to this thread in a week and it might have 65 comments. I think that’s one of the reasons Bart gets bogged down although his post doesn’t directly deal with it.

  17. Liam Foley
    Liam Foley  June 21, 2018

    I think it is an excellent decision. I generally skip the long posts and find the ones that ask you direct questions, along with your answers, the most enjoyable and educational.

  18. Avatar
    mary  June 21, 2018

    A very good executive decision.

  19. Avatar
    Stephen  June 21, 2018

    Actually I was expecting you to limit our posts to ONE a day since most repeat offenders have axes to grind. ‘Brevity is the soul of wit’ and it is useful to remember that the Gettysburg Address is only 271 words. Edward Everett’s speech preceding Lincoln on the other hand was 13,607 words and lasted two hours! Who do we remember?

    Interestingly the five known manuscripts of Lincoln’s speech all differ in wording which also differ from the reproductions of people present at the speech who wrote it down from memory. Ah textual variants! Ah textual criticism!

  20. Avatar
    RonaldTaska  June 21, 2018

    These rules seem more than generous. I hope they help you with the workload.


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