I hope I get a pretty wide readership of this post. In light of many recent frustrations over decisions made on this board and things said or implied about the moderators of this board, I thought it might be good to give some insight about the back end of this discussion board. As the nature of the case goes, I don't expect criticism to disappear because some people can never be convinced of good intent. For those that can, at least I can help you to understand how things work in case you ever run afoul of the processes put in place here. First, some statistics. In the last year, the Puritanboard has had 859,355 visits, 5,750,275 page views, with 364,504 unique visitors. The board has 37,629 threads, 464,620 Posts, 1,985 Members, and 636 Active Members. In the last year alone there have been 164,500 posts. I am a senior Marine Officer with more than a few responsibilities, I have a beautiful wife and four kids including two that are home-schooled, and a house that has a lot of stuff that needs to be put away at the time of writing this post. Many of the moderators are ministers or elders or leaders in their respective Churches with many responsibilities as well. I mention these statistics that you might get a sense of the scope of activity that occurs here. When I began Administration of the board back in 2006, we had 40 Banned Users. This was a status I didn't really care for. It implies an irreconcilable process and puts a label on an individual's username. It's not that I disagree that the member ought to have been removed from the board but I also believe that some of these members might decide they can abide by the rules and be returned in status. In fact, a few that were previously banned contacted me via the contact form and were restored. As for suspension, there was a somewhat informal process for a while. We had some folks that would flagrantly violate some aspect of the Confession and/or decided that posting within its bounds was not for them. For me, however, this board became a huge time sink and I couldn't manage the work here and reasonably be faithful to my primary duties to the home (I repeat, this board is not on the top list of my priorities and that will help if you understand this). The process of suspension used to be far too personal and especially made it difficult for moderators to blow a whistle while keeping a particular member from making it in to a personal matter. Herein lies part of the dilemma here. I've been in leadership at various levels for over 20 years. One thing you learn about leadership at some point is that things are never how they appear when you are not the person in leadership. Prior to assuming leadership of a 1300 Marine/Sailor command a number of years ago I had always wondered "why did they make that decision". I even thought they were out of touch or dictatorial. I've served next to the leaders of 30,000+ Marine organizations and seen the complexity of leadership problems. I even work closely with leaders who make decisions that affect the entire Marine Corps. These decisions are considered carefully but, at some point, decisions are made after consultation. And, guess what? Not everybody agrees with those decisions: Leaders are just idiots who don't understand what life is really like, after all for the little guy. In fact, more recently, when I was in a position in a local Church forced upon me by necessity, I learned how gossip and other things work to tear down leadership within a Church. It is very subtle and often times done with good intent. But what one sees from the collective "center" of it all is that all these small, seemingly harmless "why does he do it this way", end up tearing down the Church. Enough small chunks taken down at once erode the unity of the entire Body. Given the difficulty of ministry, I have a fresh appreciation for what ministers do and I am much less apt to even suggest things to ministers than I used to be. I'm also left wondering, given how difficult leadership is, that some ministers are so quick to criticize others whose shoes they don't find themselves within. Something I've learned to appreciate about leadership as well is that there are many different successful approaches that reflect the personality of the person in leadership. Some are more charismatic, others less so, some are more hands on, some delegate more, some are very gruff, while others always inspire. As one of my Commanding Officers once reversed (or vacated) the punishment for a particular sailor who had been busted down in rank by the previous Commanding Officer, he explained that he didn't question the propiety of the decision made. I liked how he put it using a football analogy: we just run a different offense here. You can win the game with many different strategies. Look, I realize that many might run the board differently and maybe even better than the Admins and Mods do here. I've even resolved, in my own career as a Marine, that there are people that execute on things much better than I. I'm not really as much of a people person as others are. Do I succeed? In the main but I'm not so arrogant as to assume that others don't execute better than I in many areas. In this case, theory is beside the point and I'm in a position of leadership here. It's not like the Mods get paid anything but if I didn't provide some sort of atmosphere that made them want to stay then they know very well they have far more important things to do. On that note, what bugs me most about the criticism of decisions when the Mod team is referenced in general is when my other Mods are criticized with a broad brush as if the men and women therein can be so easily characterized. Let me just make something clear: unlike some places on the net who only allow comments and participation from sycophants, the Mods at the Puritanboard are top notch. We don't yell at each other in back channel or call each other idiots but clear disagreements arise at times. Every moderating decision is seen by every Mod and questionable calls are evaluated. If anybody is challenged it is usually me. I don't like "Yes men". I want counselors around me who are true friends and, I have to tell you, I've got the best. The ministers on the team are among those I would love to sit under and I'm privileged to call them all friends. The others are exceptional in their own right with an even temper and theological insight. If you haven't taken a look at the infraction system then check it out in the upper left corner on most pages. Most of you have never even had to think about it. Of the 2000 members of the board (that number is up from about 1000 since 2006), we've only had to suspend about 40 members in the last 2 years. When an infraction is levied, however, that infraction is vetted with the entire moderating team to ensure no abuse of the system is occurring. No correspondence occurs with a member unless it is out in the open with all the Mods and Admins. No unilateral actions occur where tyranny by a single person rules the day. Here's the thing, though. When it comes to the Moderators, the first rule of leadership is that you back your folks up. This job is not easy and we simply don't have the time to sink into every person that demands a full Church discipline process. I'm sorry we just don't. Some people treat being moderated as if the most wicked thing that could ever happen has just happened to them because somebody else viewed what they wrote as not tactful or inappropriate. Keep this in mind: we are not your judges before the Lord but we will give our opinions about the propriety of your comments at times and may even give our opinions about whether or not we think your approach is sinful. The members who are willing to accept criticism, even if they don't agree with it, and move on do just fine. Nobody says you have to agree with our view of the situation or how we enforce what we believe is appropriate conduct. Others might have different standards but we set the standards here. It doesn't mean that we believe you are not saved or cast out of the Church if you can't color within the lines that we've set for this board. In fact, a policy of this board is that it doesn't engage in tearing down those it has suspended or infracted. We do not discuss the details of the infraction/suspension for the reason that we protect the person involved. That has not stopped several former members from leaving while telling me or others that they are absolutely convinced we're not saved or that we're wicked men. We don't respond in kind to blog articles or forum posts that call us a bunch of dictators. In fact, the next time you see a few people having a party trashing the moderation of this board, you might want to ask yourself: "I wonder why this place allows that kind of uncharitable behavior and the mods at the PB give no answer?" As to me, personally, am I a jerk? Am I a tyrant? Do I need to grow up? Do I have a big head? Sometimes. Could somebody else do better? I'm sure there are plenty of people. I am a wretched sinner and have repented for things I post here or even times when I've been too rough in my Administration here. But I do not have a list of people that I've suspended that I bear ill will toward. In truth, I'd love to see them all return under the right circumstances but some of those circumstances are beyond my control. One thing I am comfortable with is that I'm blessed to have true friends who are faithful to wound me by telling me when I have sinned. I'm also blessed to have a tender conscience that gives me no peace when I'm being obtuse or sinful in a given situation. If you believe I have offended you in a given situation then I'm never above the need to seek forgiveness. Please just don't presume that the standards or decisions were designed to personally offend you. To those who are moderated at times: even as we need to be careful to leave our egos at the door as mods, usually what amplifies a moderating decision is the indignation of those that ought to be a little more self-deprecating. We don't wantonly give the opinion that we believe a particular attitude or post is sinful and it might be good to just take a deep breath (especially during the 24 hour appeal process for an infraction) and examine your heart about why somebody telling you that you've sinned is so obnoxious. Spend that time reading the Sermon on the Mount before you put your flame throwers on. You can be sure that the other moderators and admins are throwing water on any fires that are raging in any of the moderators' hearts that are too close to a situation. I hope you have people around you that are willing to be honest with you about your own heart and not simply flatterers. I'm not certain if this will help any in the final analysis but I leave this out here to help those that might not understand the reasons why things are done nor may they ever agree with particular decisions. I simply want to remind all that things are never as easy as they appear from the outside. Remember that and pray earnestly for your ministers in your local Church - you are duty bound to make their arduous task a joy and not a burden. Here, the consequences are not so dire as we're just talking about the right to post on a discussion board. Even if we part ways on the PB, that's no reason to assume we're not still one in Christ.