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The 8 Kinds of Commenters in the Christian Blogosphere

NOTE: This article originally appeared here at First Things.

Over the course of blogging, I have discovered that words can be taken in all kinds of ways, many of which I did not intend.

While this is the case with all writing, it takes on a particular vigor in the virtual world. Reader response is alive and well in the blogosphere.

Part of this is no doubt due to the fact that a blog post is too short to explain much and its overall purpose is usually informational and provocative.

Part of it, however, is due to the reader’s own disposition and the expectations that he or she brings to the site.

It helps that, much like journals or magazines, sites cater to specific audiences who then expect a certain unity of outlook. This allows the blogger to use “insider” speak and go deeper through vocabulary even with a short post.

During my time as a blogger I have received too many good comments to count.

Most of the online readers who have interacted with my blog posts through Twitter, Facebook and the comments section are thoughtful and respectful. They remind me of how much I have to learn.

The virtual world provides a community of minds that, at their best, both challenge and affirm one another in ways that engender greater creativity and stimulate more faithful articulations of the Christian message.

I have also discovered a pattern among some comments that could be described in a word or phrase. While some of these patterns can be found across the online community, others are unique to religious and/or theological sites.

Below I give a summary, not unlike other lists, of those I have observed and been guilty of both as a blogger and a commenter.

Just in case, I should also point out the use of slight exaggeration for effect.

1. Heresy Hunters. 

Despite the fact that you’ve written a long post here, this one particular line bugs me. In truth, I think it is a gross theological error of epic proportions and therefore it invalidates everything you’ve said.

I must respond to keep your readers from falling into this theological trap.

2. Quotation Hounds.

I love this line. It is the money quotation of the post. I plan to use it on Sunday.

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Dale M. Coulter is an associate professor in the School of Divinity at Regent University. Originally from Florida, he prefers warms climates and sunny days. He is happily married to Esther and together they share three young and vibrant children--Bella, Sophia, and Christian. He received his doctorate from the University of Oxford and has written on the 12th century. He also is part of Evangelicals and Catholics Together and serves as co-editor for PNEUMA: The Journal of the Society for Pentecostal Studies. In addition to reading ancient and medieval authors, Dale enjoys a good cup of coffee with some Smooth Jazz, especially the Rippingtons, playing in the background.