A Commenting Policy Update for Spectrum

Three years ago we announced a new commenting policy. The biggest change was the “one comment” rule, which was met with a variety of responses. Effective immediately, that rule is going away. Here’s why:

When the Board of Directors of Adventist Forum (the organization that publishes Spectrum) came up with the one comment rule three years ago, it was for a good reason. The commenting section had gotten out of control. Clicking “continue discussion” meant wading into a forum mired with personal attacks, hate speech, and rambling banter that did not pertain to the article at hand. Our motto of community through conversation wasn’t being achieved.

The one comment rule was the nuclear option. And it worked. It worked a bit too well. Our conversation went from harmful to stifled. And neither of those adjectives were what we were hoping to achieve. So, when the board met last month they agreed to try something new.

The Association of Adventist Forums (now known simply as Adventist Forum) was created 50 years ago in 1968. The intention was to create pockets of community — forums — around the globe to engage in timely discussion of topics pertinent to Christianity and our unique Seventh-day Adventist faith. The journal Spectrum soon followed with its first issue in 1969, and the discussion evolved even more. Now there was public discourse as well as ideas written in ink, mailed ‘round the world.

Our goal of community through conversation has never wavered in these 50 years, but the word “community” has evolved and changed between 1968 and 2018. A decade ago Spectrum joined the World Wide Web as a blog, and as the internet grew, so did our online presence. We’re more than just a blog now — our website is a robust platform for new and challenging ideas. Hundreds of thousands of individuals visit our site each year to read news, opinions, and essays relevant to the Adventist faith.

And we want those visitors to be able to engage with the content they read. We want them to be able to engage with each other. And we want them to do so respectfully, healthfully, and happily. The one comment rule wasn’t effective for that. But neither was what we had before.

So, there’s a compromise coming. Yes, the one comment rule is going away. But we’re getting stricter with our other rules. The ones about respecting people and ideas, about being civil, about engaging in intellectual discussion rather than vicious arguments. Those rules. Those are staying. And we’ll be enforcing them in a stricter fashion than before. And we’ll be asking for your help.

Before, individuals who posted offensive comments simply saw those comments removed. And removed again. And again. Ad nauseam. And the simple fact is, we just don’t have the capacity to keep doing that. We’re a small staff of editors, and it’s not a valuable use of our time to continue to delete comments from individuals who have shown through their actions and words they don’t have anything to add to the discussion.

Going forward we’ll be suspending and/or banning commenters who can’t engage in civil and productive discourse. Creating community through conversation doesn’t mean a free-for-all where things like personal attacks and hate speech are allowed. That’s not conversation. Neither is it Christian. And so it’s not allowed here. Period.

We want our editors to use the limited hours in the day to bring you great content from fantastic writers and thinkers. And we’re pretty sure you want that, too. So, that’s what they’ll be doing. And we want you to be able to engage with those ideas and your fellow commenters in a healthy and productive way.

But we need your help, because we can’t do it alone. If you see a comment that goes against our rules, please flag it for moderation. Don’t engage with negative comments. As us millennials like to say: don’t feed the trolls. It only encourages them. Simply flag it. If three people flag a comment, it’s automatically removed by the system. If less than three individuals flag it, it remains visible until a moderator is able to review it and take the appropriate action. When a comment is removed, any replies to it are automatically removed as well. That’s another reason not to engage. Because no matter how well articulated your response, it will be removed as well.

This is your community and we want it to be a welcoming place for all who respect and love it the way we do. So, help us create that. Starting now.

You can view our full commenting policy here. These rules have always existed, but now they’re in an easily accessible location. And they’ll be linked to at the end of each article. We encourage anyone who plans to comment to read it through and join the conversation.

A quick note on the Lounge: when the one comment rule took effect, we also decided to utilize Discourse’s “Lounge” feature for continued discussion behind the scenes for our frequent commenters. A copy of each article was manually added to the Lounge section by our editors so individuals could comment as many times as they liked. Though the Lounge section will continue to exist and individuals are welcome to comment in the open thread, we will no longer be copying new articles over.

As has always been the case, anyone who achieves a “trust level” of 3 or higher has automatic access to the Lounge section. Trust levels are set by the Discourse system, and you can learn more about how to move up (or down) in ranking by reading this Discourse article on the topic.

Thank you for being part of the Spectrum family. Thank you for joining the discussion. Thank you for creating community through conversation.


Alisa Williams Managing Editor SpectrumMagazine.org

Here’s our new policy blurb, which you’ll find at the end of future articles:

We invite you to join our community through conversation by commenting below. We ask that you engage in courteous and respectful discourse. You can view our full commenting policy by clicking here.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://spectrummagazine.org/node/9024

thank-you, alisa…thank-you for your dedication…thank-you for continuing to make spectrum the best adventist forum on the internet…i sincerely hope all of us commenters can accept your challenge to step up to our responsibility to preserve this space for constructive and wholesome discussions on topics that interest us…


Thank you, Alisa. This was clear, fair, and good-humored.


Kudos! It’s a hard chair to own-having to babysit the posters. We’ll pray for you!

One of the hardest things in my experience is how tight the reins need to be-
many posters, although not overtly violating policies, have only one speed, and only a one track railroad going to the same thought terminating clichéd dead end. Probably we’ve all been guilty of something like that to some degree. Particularly difficult if a columnist (or heaven forbid, a board member or -GASP-the chair persists in this)

When called on it, they tend to squawk the loudest (and rejoin under new pseudonym du plume-hopefully someone is logging ip’s, although the writer invariably by style or content belies true his identity). Oh that we each extend grace generously rather than demand primacy.

What took so long?

Nonetheless, it’s a welcome change and thanks to “The Board of Directors.”


“LET THE GAMES BEGIN!!” I did enjoy the previous more free for all style, but appreciate the board fro changing the rules to allow for more than one comment.

I must say that, though I am often at odds with the group, I do enjoy posting and discussing. The lot of you are thinkers and even shakers with centuries of experience living in this sinful place, many trying to do as you think God would have you do, even if it is not as I feel he would have me do. We can learn from one another…


Will you ban people for insulting Ted Wilson and Ellen White as well as the more usual subjects?

In other words, will you be impartial? Or will there be a perceptible skew in the orientation of the conversation, as is palpable currently not only here, but also in the Review, and especially so at AToday?



Good thing, the GC crowd bans themselves or the whole thing would be red flagged - and by more than 3. :grin:


Let’s also ban people who can’t capitalize properly! :smiley:


All I need is two more people and we can get every post we disagree with automatically deleted!


I do hope that we will be allowed to criticize the official work of our leaders/public figures. It is normally considered fair to do so, and most consider it healthy for an organization to welcome such feedback.


I heard that people who do not capitalize at all will be banned permanently.
Jeremy @vandieman is very excited about this rule… :innocent:


Let’s start, as Spectrum is suggesting, with those who often insult other participants directly with demeaning comments and not respecting others’ opinions. Just this will be a challenge to a few…:thinking:


I hereby CONGRATULATE those at Spectrum who endorse common sense and freedom of speech, and made this change possible. This is a relief for those of us who felt like having discussions in a prison. Now we can finally undress from our orange suits and go back to a free society again. And the other blogs will no longer be able to accuse Spectrum of the infamous policy that was in place for about three years.

Considering this change, I believe the Lounge Gate will soon be empty.
Considering this change, The One Gate is officially renamed Spectrum Website… (aka NewGate… lol)

Thanks Board of Directors for “Making Spectrum Great Again!” (It was time…)
:+1: :+1: :+1: :+1: :+1: :+1:


george, yrs ago, and under a number of aliases, of course, i was a frequent blogger on a number of well-known gay sites…and at that time, no self-respecting gay would ever think to use capitalization, for anything, on any kind of post…it was a badge that embodied pride for being different, while being smarter than everybody else…i’ve simply carried that very old and largely extinct tradition on to spectrum…

look, you gotta have something gay on spectrum, or else it’ll get boring fast :wink:

ps…the three dots mean power, love and honour…you’ll also notice that i rarely use question marks…this is part of the built-in confidence of the genre…


Thank you SPECTRUM, for modeling sensitivity, good humor, positiveness, and wisdom in changing your policy to meet the needs of readers. Kudos to readers like George Tichy who consistently called for changes in the policy while at the same time hanging in there and continuing to support the magazine.
I am an avid reader and supporter of SPECTRUM and it is among the finest journals I have enjoyed, and collected. For me a great magazine is much more than merely collections of great writing. The editors create a magazine’s voice through layout, article selection, and the context they choose to provide (or conversely choose not to provide) around the individual stories. The ON Line version-blog of Spectrum is complimentary and makes for great inspiration and reading.


I am sending a donation today to Spectrum in support of their return to “Community through Conversation.”

Won’t you join me?


Oh, Jeremy, you finally came out of the closet and unveiled the mystery about the small-caps-only. Secret unsealed, amazing fact!!!.. :wink: :innocent:
I wonder if @elmer_cupino was suspecting about this one coming up…


Not that fast… We need at least 3 years of consistency now to compensate for the past 3 years. Remember the rule, 7 years of famine and 7 years of prosperity?.. :slight_smile:


This is a donation of thanksgiving and good faith.