Northern Lights is a blog written by believing members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Its purpose is to be a place where we and our readers can openly explore and discuss topics and issues of interest to the LDS community — and particularly as they relate to homosexuality, gender identity, and the Church — in an edifying and uplifting manner and within the framework of commitment to the beliefs and ideals of the Church.

The short version of our comment policy is that you should be respectful and dignified when you participate here. If you can’t, you will be warned and then banned. This is not a place for those with an ax to grind, it’s a place for nice folks who know how to behave. If you want to be rowdy, there are plenty of other places on the web to do so.

The longer version of our policy is as follows. To maintain the desired atmosphere, we ask that commenters adhere to the following guidelines:

  1. As a general matter, Northern Lights is a forum for believing Latter-day Saints or for others who are willing to respect members’ beliefs. We welcome both believing members of the Church as well as those of other belief systems. While we welcome readers and posters of other belief systems, our posts center on the foundational teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which includes doctrines related to chastity and gay relationships.
  2. Commentators who wish to debate or argue those foundational teachings should seek one of the other forums available for such discussions. Comments that denigrate the Church or insult its leaders and members are not welcome and will be deleted.
  3. We invite all readers to add comments, and we expect those comments to uplift, rather than tear down. Comments should follow generally accepted standards for good taste and decorum, exhibit respect for others, and relate to the topic at hand. (See also the LDS Newsroom’s “The Mormon Ethic of Civility.”)
  4. Comments are expected to reflect different points of view. We ask that both Latter-day Saints and others show respect for the beliefs, experiences, and choices of fellow writers or commentators. Critiques of others’ positions are to be expected, but those critiques should be of the argument, not the person. No insults.
  5. Northern Lights is a forum for discussion of beliefs and ideas — not a place to condemn others or to call others to repentance. Please speak only for yourself and only about your own experience, feelings, and beliefs. Avoid telling others what they should do or believe, and certainly what they should feel. Please be very careful about giving unsolicited advice. It is unacceptable to call into question a commentator’s personal righteousness.
  6. Comments should be related to the blog entry they are posted to, or to a subsequent comment on that entry. Of course, some amount of topic-shifting is normal in any discussion, but completely-off-topic comments are not appropriate.
  7. Comments are expected to be intelligible. That means keeping some internet-chat acronyms to a minimum; writing in plain English; proofreading; spell checking. Of course, perfection is not required, and we also understand that some commenters may not speak English well. In general, we just ask that commenters strive to make their comments readily intelligible.
  8. Violations of intellectual property laws will not be tolerated. Violations of other laws, including defamation and slander, will not be tolerated.

Northern Lights administrators will take action to address comments that do not follow the above guidelines. Enforcement may include some combination of deleting offending comments, warning offenders, and/or banning commenters’ IP addresses. Because enforcement is a subjective process and we recognize that there is possibility for misunderstanding and honest mistakes, we’ve instituted a three strike policy. If an individual’s comments are inappropriate, they will be deleted and the writer will be privately warned. If this happens three times, the writer will no longer be permitted to participate at all. Particularly egregious comment policy violations will warrant immediate ban without the three strikes.

While we would have preferred to avoid this sort of rule structure to keep the blog as unregulated as possible, we’ve determined that this change will move our blog forward toward our aim to be a great asset to those searching for an uplifting resource on the topics discussed. These policies may be added to or modified as necessary. We welcome your comments and suggestions.