First and last public response to Stuart

This is an archived post from the old bulletin board. For new posts, see the forum.

Posted by Jonah ( on November 30, 2002 at 16:55:53:

In Reply to: Response to condescension and insult posted by Stuart Gilman on November 30, 2002 at 10:10:16:

This is my first public response to Stuart's repeated attempts to provoke one. Given that he did not accept my offer to nominate a different moderator, it will also be my last public response. Future discussion shall be directed to the new unmoderated bulletin board (details below).

WORDPLAY, this IS a Bahai site, period. Whether it is blessed by the UHJ or not, it is a Bahai site and must conform to all the rules and precepts and morals of Bahai.
This site conforms to all precepts and morals of the Baha'i faith. Should any part of it fail to do so, I encourage that I or the Institutions be notified immediately. It is possible, even likely, that among the Library's 17,500 files (comprising 1,625 distinct items) I have let some objectionable material slip through, in which case I would appreciate that it be brought to my attention.

However, it is not a "Baha'i" site. My own personal adherence is not mentioned anywhere on the site, and other than my wife and a handful of close friends, no-one in the world knows whether or not I am a Baha'i. My personal beliefs are just that -- personal. My editorial judgments are based on academic or historical criteria. The Library's content is roughly 98% by Baha'is or sympathetic to the Faith, and about 2% are critical of the Faith. That is not a ratio I have intentionally selected, but rather it reflects the scope of documents available, of which only a tiny fraction are both critical and worthy.
The scope and excellence of this site makes it, to any outsider, an "official" site, whatever disclaimer Jonah posts.
It would be a shame if readers were to miss the obvious and repeatedly stated fact that it is not an official site. A brief survey of "official" sites will quickly make the distinction apparent. This site contains too much content that was not written by or written for Baha'is, i.e. documents by non-Baha'is attempting to better understand and explain the Faith. Given that there are 5 million Baha'is and 5 billion non-Baha'is, I think the latter is the more important audience. I am more interested in helping the world's non-Baha'is come to know and understand the Faith than I am in giving Baha'is yet another forum to discuss it amongst themselves.
If I decide to make a Baha'i website, I can easily include every single element of Jonah's site
A significant percentage of authors have granted permission for their material to appear online at this site and only at this site, and some have even requested that I post an explicit disclaimer at the top of their document stating that it is not to be posted anywhere else. This is because it is one of the only sites that does not espouse a position, pro or con, and which attempts to retain as much neutrality and scholarliness as an informal, unfunded library could have.
To continue, it is not my fault that so few persons post to this board. ... I have complained that there is insufficient, respectful debate (posts) on very important issues on this Forum and wonder why this is so. It cannot be that Jonah lazily deletes posts willy-nilly. I appear to be posting a great deal because very few people post, which is an issue for the Bulletin Board, not a fault of mine.
Other than Stuart, no participant appears to be responsible for more than 10% of the postings at the Bulletin Board. Since August, a full 50% of postings have either been by him or one of his many pseudonyms. Before August, I think I deleted three spams this year. Since August I have deleted perhaps 40 of Stuart's postings and, if I recall correctly, two inflamed responses by others. In that same period of time, postings by other people not responding to Stuart dropped off dramatically, and three individuals wrote to me specifically identifying the volume and tone of Stuart's postings as the reason they chose to avoid further participation in the bulletin board.

Observing respect and propriety, I had not previously disclosed these two facts (that only Stuart's postings have been deleted, and that his volume and tone have affected the participation of others). However, by declining to nominate another moderator and by forcing the issue into the spotlight, Stuart invited this response.
If Jonah cannot manage his creation, he should, as he has offered, give the job to someone else.
Understandably, Stuart appears to be the only participant who in any way objects to my moderating. I encourage anyone who is dissatisfied with the editorial structure of the Library to either (1) propose an alternative or (2) create their own bulletin board. It is very easy to set one up. Perhaps there is a community of individuals who share Stuart's views or posting style, and would like to dialogue with him further. To this end, I have set up an unmoderated bulletin board.

Though some participants will not believe this, it is the case that I have been unusually forgiving in my job as moderator in the last four months, and I have allowed many non-scholarly or non-respectful posts to remain. I will now return to my stated editorial guidelines, and will remove any posting that is excessively tangential, spam, flames, and obscenity. This includes insults and provocations. I expect that such discussions will now be directed to their proper place, and that henceforth I will once again only have to delete a handful of posts per year.
    Jonah Winters

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