Are Online Comment Threads the Best Places for Religious Discussion? These People Seem to Think So December 2, 2014

Are Online Comment Threads the Best Places for Religious Discussion? These People Seem to Think So

There are Internet trolls… and then there are people who genuinely disagree with you who will comment on just about everything you write. Is there a difference?

Kimberly Winston spoke with several atheist “super-commenters” (which is a lovely euphemism) who do their best to sway opinions in the comments sections on websites like Religion News Service and Christian news sites:

Max left more than 3,600 comments in the past 12 months, making him RNS’ top commenter. Many of his remarks can be interpreted as angry, hostile and provocative, casting him in some minds as an Internet “troll” — a purposely disruptive online activist who delights in creating comment chaos.

But interviews with Max and other atheist “super-commenters” on various religion websites reveal there is more to their motives than disruption and rage. While some may see them as trolls, they see themselves as therapists. And far from seeking chaos, they have their own codes of conduct they say help them keep their online conversations from becoming a stream of insults and hate.

At a time when online trolls are often blamed for spreading hate online, Max and others say they’re actually living out a kind of vocation that calls them to push back — sometimes gently, sometimes not — against what they see as the true source of hate and intolerance in the world.

Max, by the way, has several comments underneath Winston’s article. As is tradition.

My own conversation with a Christian “super-commenter” is referenced in the piece and can be read here.

Let me toss out this question since I don’t have an answer to it: Is there a difference between Christians who comment on sites like this and atheists who comment on Christian sites (besides you just happen to agree with one of them)?

(Image via Shutterstock)


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