by Jimmy Akin

in Internet

I thought I’d take the opportunity to list some of the rules that I use on this blog. Folks may have noticed some of them in operation, wondered about others, or simply been mystified. So here goes:

1. People are welcome to disagree with me in the comments boxes as long as they are polite. I don’t mind disagreement. I do mind rudeness. (Be sure and see Rule 20 for how disagreement should be expressed in certain cases!) Rudeness towards others on the blog is also out of bounds.

UPDATE: Commenters whose
interaction on the blog consists principally of discussions of the same
subject over and over (e.g., the writings of John Dominic Crossan, whether the pope is the pope, or the
evils of Vatican II, the current rite of Mass, or a
particular political figure or party–or any other single subject) are
being rude. Conversation involves an ability to talk about more than
one thing, not an obsessive harping on one subject. Say your piece and
move on, per Rule 2.

2. Because of the format restrictions blogging involves, I can’t engage in sustained back-and-forth discussions with folks, either in the comments boxes or in the main section of the blog. Therefore, I ask that folks say their piece and then let the subject go (for now, knowing that it will likely surface again in the future).

UPDATE: This rule also may be invoked on discussions that, in the opinion of the blogmaster, are getting overly repetitious or unproductively long.

3. Also because of the format restrictions, everyone must be concise. Don’t go on at length about things. Pasting large amounts of text into the combox also counts as going on at length. Going on at length constitutes rudeness.

4. Comments violating the first three rules will be deleted.

5. Readers who repeatedly violate the first three rules will be banned. (So far I haven’t had to do that.)

6. When I link to other sites, unless I say otherwise, I am only recommending that you look at the material on the page that I link. The way this blog works, I often have need to document what I am saying by linking to a very specific piece of information, and I cannot endorse other material on sites containing this information.

7. Related to rule 6, I hereby warn you that some material on sites I link may possibly be inconsistent with the Catholic faith or offensive. I try to minimize this, but doing apologetics–and living in the real world–means encountering material that is contrary to the faith or offensive. If you don’t want to take a "Test everything and hold fast to what is good" approach (1 Thess. 5:21) then you should avoid apologetics blogs (and the real world).

8. Except where stated otherwise, when I recommend a book, video, or other product, I am recommending it for individuals who are mature and secure in their Catholic faith. Such recommendations are not to be taken to mean that the material is perfect and free from every possible objection that could be made against them. Nor are they to be taken as recommendations for children or for people who are insecure in their Catholic faith. People falling in the latter classes are not the subjects of my recommendations unless the contrary is stated.

9. I reserve the right to delete comments that I don’t think are helpful for one reason or another (e.g., if someone who is converting to the faith asks for a book recommendation and someone in the comments box recommends a book that I haven’t read, I may delete the recommendation since I don’t know if it suits the person’s needs or not).

10. If you want to ask me a question not related to what’s currently on the blog, don’t use the comments box. Use the e-mail address listed on the blog site.

11. All mail sent to the e-mail address listed on the blog is bloggable unless you say "Don’t blog this" (or an equivalent) in the e-mail.

12. The same goes for e-mail sent to other addresses.

13. I can’t promise reponses to comments or to e-mail that is sent to me. My schedule doesn’t permit me to make this commitment.

14. If I can respond, it may be a few days before the response appears.

15. When I respond to comments or e-mails in the main blog section, I do not use people’s names. Instead, I say things like " A reader writes . . ." This is not to be impersonal. It has a specific reason. Many people stumble across the blog and want to ask questions without having their identities exposed, particularly if they have a sensitive question (e.g., one involving family members or sexuality). To assure them that their privacy will be honored, I don’t use names when responding to queries in the main blog section. If people saw me responding to e-mail or comments with names in the main blog section, they might think that I would use their names or e-mail addresses and be afraid to ask their questions. I would rather have people ask questions and get answers than have them not ask their questions because they are afraid their privacy won’t be honored.

15b. Rule 15 will be suspended for bloggers, guestbloggers, and the senders of press releases. It will also be suspended for others at their request/with their consent.

16. I do use names when responding in the comments boxes since visitors have already seen (or can scroll up to see) that the person identified himself publicly.

17. When responding to e-mails, particularly e-mails sent to me at accounts not listed on the blog site, I take extra pains not to quote material that could give away the correspondent’s identity. The purpose, again, is so that people won’t be scared to ask their questions or feel that I have violated their privacy by exposing them in public.

18. Currently I am trying to do at least two blog entries per day, one of which goes up bewteen 7 and 8 a.m. (Eastern Time), and one of which goes up between 3 and 4 p.m. (Eastern Time). Individual days may vary, usually by having more blog entries than this. Since I have a job and a life, I can’t commit to more than this at present. I try to do at least this as my way of honoring those who support this blog by visiting and reading it, though it may not be possible on all days.

19. I very much appreciate your efforts to promote this blog by linking it on your own blog/web page or by recommending it in other forums. That is one of the key ways you can honor my efforts in producing the material that I research and write for the blog. Another way is by commenting. I love reading your comments.

20. When Jimmy is answering a pastoral question (i.e., for a person asking about an actual that they or someone they know is involved in, as opposed to a hypothetical situation) that can be phrased  in the form "Is it morally licit to do X?", do not contradict Jimmy in the comments box. People asking pastoral questions on moral subjects often feel very disoriented and confused if they get a debate rather than an answer on a sensitive question about a situation they, a friend, or a family member is involved in.

For the peace of mind of the person who asked the question, challenges to such answers need to be handled a different way. Instead of using the comments box to pose your challenge, e-mail Jimmy. If you win him over, he’ll make a correction and notify the person who asked the question. Comments violating this policy will be deleted. Widespread violation of this policy will result in the comments box being turned off for such questions.

Posts subject to Rule 20 will have a "20" at the bottom of the post.

21. Commenters in the combox are to use either their real name or a (non-offensive, non-spiteful) handle that distinguishes them from others when posting comments. They are not to post comments while leaving the "Name" field blank. It’s rude to expect people to interact with you and give them no way to refer to you.

22. When someone is under a warning not to ride his hobby horse, others on the blog are not to post comments tempting him to get back on the hobby horse (e.g., "I wonder what So-and-so will do to twist this thread onto his favorite topic"). That’s rude because it tempts another person to break a rule when he already may have trouble restraining himself on a particular topic.

23. The following terms are pejorative and their use as actual descriptors (as opposed, for example, to quoting someone else’s use of them for purposes of critique) constitutes rudeness: "Romanist," "Romish," "Roman" (when used to mean or as a substitute for "Catholic"), "Roman Church" (when used to mean the entire Catholic Church, as opposed to the Roman church sui iuris that exists within the Catholic Church), "Papist," Papistic," "Papistical," "Popish," and any cognate terms based on the terms "Roman" or "Pope."

The term to be used on this blog is Catholic, without scare quotes.

This is a Catholic blog, and Catholics are to be called Catholics on it.

24. It constitutes rudeness to make inflammatory assertions that one is not prepared to back up by anything more than hearsay (e.g., "Mother Theresa prayed to Hindu idols. I know because my friend said so.").

Inflammatory claims are those likely to inflame passions. An inflammatory claim can be true. But because of its emotion-stirring character, it requires concrete evidence (more than just hearsay) to back it up if the discourse is to be kept civil and not degenerate into an impassioned muddle.

If you liked this post, you should join Jimmy's Secret Information Club to get more great info!

What is the Secret Information Club?I value your email privacy


Jeff Miller June 29, 2004 at 9:54 am

I like Barbara Nicolosi (Executive Director Act One, Inc.) disclaimer on her blog the best.
“A Note to Visitors:
Please share your comments! Note, however, that civility is considered a higher good than First Amendment rights here. Incivility will be uncivilly suppressed. Welcome to Our Kingdom!
Enjoy your stay.”

cathy June 29, 2004 at 11:05 am

OK. (hope that was concise enough πŸ˜‰ )

steve June 29, 2004 at 12:25 pm

On number 9, do you delete all book recommendations? I posted a response to your post recommending I Claudius with another book by the same author and it got deleted. Just curious

Mark Shea June 29, 2004 at 3:44 pm

Rule One sounds suspiciously like something ADOLF HITLER would say!!!!!

Mike Koenecke June 29, 2004 at 6:49 pm

Rule 6: There is NO… Rule 6.
Rule 7: No poofters.

Edward Curtis November 12, 2004 at 2:42 pm

Mr. Shea…your comment invokes Godwin’s law. You lose. :)

Brad Haas March 7, 2005 at 1:00 pm

Why does Jimmy switch from first-person to third-person in Rule 20? Brad finds it disorienting. πŸ˜›

David August 3, 2005 at 6:50 pm

What exactly is “Godwin’s Law?”

Publius August 3, 2005 at 6:55 pm
Jewelry Search January 17, 2006 at 11:51 pm

Top 500 List

Top 500 Search Engines, Directories, Indexes & Catalogues…

AnotherCoward January 25, 2006 at 10:11 am

So, I had a comment deleted. I don’t think it was because I violated the first 3 rules. I think it may have been because it was in response to someone who could have been viewed as violating Rule 20. If there are Rule 20 deletions, could that not be signified in some way?
Otherwise, I’m left wondering why my comment got deleted and find myself a little bitter over the whole thing.

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J.R. Stoodley April 14, 2007 at 5:08 pm

Jimmy, time to delete some more filth.

Smoky Mountain April 30, 2007 at 10:17 am

The Mar 20, 2007 post probably needs deletion…

Leo May 25, 2007 at 3:41 pm

How to insert bold, italic, and hyperlinks
This information has been given elsewhere (CHT to all concerned), but I think this page might be a good reference point.
In the examples below, I have had to add spaces to disable the effects of the code, in order to show the code itself – you should remove the spaces when you do it (there are two exceptions noted in the hyperlink example).
To bold < b > text < / b >
To italicize < i > text < / i >
To insert an hyperlink
< a href = "http://www.webaddress.com" > your description < / a >
1. There should be a single space between the letter a and href.
2. your description can include spaces eg see here, Vatican website.
Don’t forget to switch off italics etc. with the /i command in angle brackets, otherwise all of the comments following will appear italicized.
Tip: click on the preview button to check, before finally posting.
Please remember that these effects should be used sparingly in order to make your message clearer and quicker to understand in pursuance of rule 3. Otherwise you will look like a crazed ranter who has just discovered something more than CAPITALS to shout with.
Jimmy, if I have messed up these instructions, please delete or correct.

Mary Kay June 10, 2007 at 5:12 am

This is a one….

Mary Kay June 10, 2007 at 5:13 am

harrumph, didn’t help….

Mary Kay June 10, 2007 at 5:14 am

harrumph, didn’t help….

Mary Kay June 10, 2007 at 5:16 am

Good thing I came over here today… I just noticed that Jimmy gave instructions on how to insert a hyperlink.

Mary Kay June 10, 2007 at 5:18 am

God does indeed bring good out of every circumstance. Is that Romans?

Mary Kay June 10, 2007 at 5:24 am

spam, spam, spam, spam, eating goober spam, nothing so delicious eating goober spam.
(okay, I ran out of sensible things to say)

Mary Kay June 10, 2007 at 5:25 am


Karen June 10, 2007 at 5:30 am

Check here for a script that makes a nice clickable menu for inserting HTML, including at Typepad sites like Jimmy’s, Slashdot and Myspace:
Here’s what to do:
1. Use Firefox as your browser, and then install the Greasemonkey extension for it (find it at Mozilla.com under the Add-ons section.)
2.) Restart Firefox after installing Greasemonkey, like it asks.
3.) Go to the first link I posted, http://userscripts.org/scripts/show/9630, and click Install to install that script.
Now come back to this site and notice the nice menu above the comment entry box. It makes inserting HTML very easy–just click!
I’m the “author” of that script, but it’s really “chef_boyardee” who deserves the basic credit. I merely adjusted it to include more features and websites.

JoAnna June 10, 2007 at 7:20 am

If you’re a Mozilla FireFox user, there’s a wonderful extension called BBCode Xtra that allows you to right-click and insert HTML (or BBCode, or XML) tags into comboxes, forum posts, etc. (You’d use HTML for Jimmy’s combox.) You can put in links, quotes, bold, italics, etc.
Also, to put text into quotes, you just put the tag < blockquote > (without spaces) before the text and < /blockquote > (without spaces) after the text.

Dr. Eric June 10, 2007 at 3:53 pm

Thanks Joanna!

Karen June 11, 2007 at 1:55 am

Yea, BBCodeXtra works too–I’m a user of that as well.
I just find the script slightly more convenient :-)

Peter July 5, 2007 at 2:21 pm

Thank you for such an interesting blog Jimmy. I stumbled upon it while looking for family sites. I believe we’re distantly related. I can tell by your picture.(We’re both good looking men!) Anyway, I can’t say I agree with all of you theocratic opinions, but as the good book says: “to each his own.” I wish you all the best of luck and look forward to familiarizing myself with you.

MK August 19, 2007 at 1:03 am

where’s the spam repellent?

SDG August 19, 2007 at 6:36 am

as the good book says: “to each his own.”

I don’t think that one’s in the good book. :-)

Tim J. August 19, 2007 at 9:19 am

Isn’t that right next to “Cleanliness is next to Godliness”?… I think in the second chapter of the book of Andrew?

Mary Kay August 19, 2007 at 9:55 am

ahem, the spam repellent comment referred to some spam that Jimmy has since cleaned up, not to Peter’s comment which it follows.
lol at Tim. Maybe we should take a page from Andrew’s book and keep it next to the keyboard. :^)

bill912 August 19, 2007 at 12:14 pm

I thought it came after “God helps those who help themselves.”

Anonymous August 19, 2007 at 1:51 pm

Theocracy* has been an integral part of America since its inception. In fact, theocracy* has been an integral part of all human civilization since the dawn of history. Anti-theocrats* are not just anti-American, they are anti-human.
*As defined by modern American liberals.

LarryD August 19, 2007 at 7:30 pm

Bill, I believe it’s right before the section that includes the lines “Three is the number that thou shalt countst to, and the number that thou shalt countst to is three…thou shalt not count to two, except to proceed to three. Four is right out!!”
Mea culpa if the quotation is not entirely precise.

bill912 August 19, 2007 at 7:33 pm

No problem, Larry. The worst that could possible happen is that you’ll be catapulted into the Gorge Of Eternal Peril.

LarryD August 19, 2007 at 7:47 pm

ah, but only if you answer wrong on what is your favorite color…..

bill912 August 19, 2007 at 8:05 pm

Or the capital of Assyria.
Or the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.

LarryD August 19, 2007 at 8:27 pm

What type of swallow? Very very important….

bill912 August 19, 2007 at 9:42 pm

I don’t know…..Yeeeahhhhhh!

bill912 August 19, 2007 at 9:44 pm

People who have never seen “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” are probably wondering what we’re smoking.

LarryD August 20, 2007 at 4:39 am

People who have never seen “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” may end up in the Gorge of Eternal Peril if they’re not careful……

Blackadder August 20, 2007 at 6:49 am

Tevye: As the good book says, when a poor man eats a chicken, one of them is sick.
Mendel: Where does the book say that?
Tevye: Well, it doesn’t say that exactly, but somewhere there is something about a chicken.

Tim J. August 20, 2007 at 8:33 am

Every bit as much a fan of Fiddler on the Roof as I am of Holy Grail. Great movie.

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