A New Comments Policy

I am a fan of keeping discussions as open and unmoderated as possible.

But in a discussion yesterday, one commenter called me “so vastly ridiculous as to be every satirist’s dream” and said that “anyone reasonable would see that I take God seriously and I take you lightly.” If this had been said of anyone else, I would have deleted it, but I left it up since it was about me. (I don’t want to ignore critiques.)

However, I received emails from three separate individuals saying they thought this went too far, and asking that comments on this site be kept more on-topic and more respectful. A rule of thumb in customer service is that if three people care enough to email, chances are they speak for 30 or 300 who are thinking the same thought. And as I thought about it, I realized they were right. So, right above the comment box, you will now see our new comment policy. It’s clear and concise:

Ground rules: Don’t attack or belittle groups or fellow posters. Do keep comments positive, constructive, and on topic. (Move off-topic discussions to our open threads.)

Occasional jokes or comments that are only tangentially related are fine, provided the exchange only goes for two or three comments at most.

I trust that I successfully avoided belittling those with whom I disagree. Yet I admit to and apologize for contributing to the off-topic detour yesterday. To be clear, I am not ashamed of my worldview, or of my attempts to carefully apply the Bible’s principles to all areas of life. Yet I recognize that even if the comments section is the venue where my worldview is challenged, that doesn’t necessarily make it the venue to defend it.

This site has had well over 25,000 (approved) comments; 99% or more would have fit within these new guidelines. Thank you for making this one of the friendliest places to discuss Southern Gospel. Let’s keep it that way! On to the next 25,000!

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Welcome new contributors – the Garms Family!

As promised earlier this week, the time has arrived to welcome a new contributor to SouthernGospelBlog.com—or, more precisely, eight of them!

You met the Garms Family last fall when their youngest, Caleb, was featured in this Legacy Six video. They’ve been active participants in the comments since. Recently, after they made a comment expressing interest in blogging about Southern Gospel, I invited them to give it a try here. They said yes!

Perhaps the most unique aspect we can be looking forward to is the range of ages and perspectives they bring—from middle-aged parents to a seven-year old! Here is just a preview and a taste, as each shares thoughts on joining:

Dad (David)

“SouthernGospelBlog.com has been a positive part of our family’s cyber life. We’re excited to see the latest postings, read the captivating comments, often laugh, as well as identify with the topics. It makes for great discussion around the kitchen table! Our family is humbled to share this home-grown perspective spanning a couple of generations from little Caleb to Mom & Dad.

Mom (Kris)

“Exciting! Our home life has been a buzz with Southern Gospel Music and all it entails since falling in love with the Cathedrals music in 2005. We love this genre with the powerful message of hope in Jesus Christ. May God use our time together on this blog to honor Him and give Him all the glory and praise for this music and the lives (like ours) that have been changed.”

Interestingly, that was within a year of when I discovered the Cathedrals’ music myself, as my first exposure to Southern Gospel! That would’ve been mid-2004 for me, I believe. – Daniel

From left to right: Taylor, Ben, Samuel, Dad/David, Jayme, Mom/Kris, Caleb, and Leesha Garms

From left to right: Taylor, Ben, Samuel, Dad/David, Jayme, Mom/Kris, Caleb, and Leesha Garms

Ben (age 20)

“How amazing it is to have an opportunity like this! Thank you, Daniel, for giving us the chance to share our thoughts and to support your blog. I’m praying we will be a welcome addition to SouthernGospelBlog.com, and I hope you readers and commentors enjoy this as much as we will!”

Taylor (age 18)

“It has been a joy to read and participate on SouthernGospelBlog.com for the past four months, and now it is an honor to be active contributors. I personally am excited to learn more about this amazing genre through our time here! It is actually a dream come true for us, as Ben, Leesha, and I used to talk about starting our own SG blog even before we had discovered Southern Gospel Blog. By the way, Daniel, do you really know what you have gotten into? Do we, for that matter? :)”

I think I have a pretty good idea! But we shall see! – Daniel

Leesha (age 16)

“All I can say is, God is truly amazing! God moves in mysterious ways and this is another incredible twist on the journey He’s put us on. I’m very humbled by the position Daniel has given us. I have enjoyed reading SouthernGospelBlog.com and can’t believe I’ll be a part of it!”

Samuel (age 11)

“This is interesting! It’s going to be a new experience. I can’t wait to get into it and find out how it turns out. Otherwise, it’s just another part of my daily life.”

Jayme (age 9)

“It’s interesting that this will include us kids. In a way it scares me, having people looking at our comments. I’m looking forward to being a part of it [SouthernGospelBlog.com].”

I think you’ll be the ones doing as much as anyone to make it interesting! And I mean that in a good way! – Daniel

Caleb (age 7)

“It sure is going to be exciting and really, really fun! It is interesting that people are going to look at my comments. That makes me feel weird, to think others are learning what I think about things.”

Might as well get used to it, my friend! One of these days, plenty of people who have never heard of Daniel Mount will have heard of Caleb Garms! – Daniel

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New to Reference Section: Skylite Discography

Over the last few years, I have compiled some discographical information on several of Southern Gospel’s record companies. I am launching the first entry in that series, the Skylite Discography, today.

While this method is not foolproof, it is sometimes the only way to arrive at an approximation of a record’s release date. Through the 1950s and 1960s, and into the 1970s in some cases, many records did not include the year of their release. But label releases invariably included a label number, assigned consecutively to the assorted projects released by the label. Sometimes, records were released on an accelerated schedule or delayed, so some dates are interpolated, but as a general rule, when Skylite SSLP-6034 and SSLP-6038 came out in 1965, more likely than not 6035, 6036, and 6037 also did.

Any corrections and changes would be heartily welcomed.

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Post #2000

This morning’s post was the 2,000th on this site.

Few blogs ever make it to the 1,000 mark, let alone 2,000—and the credit goes principally to all of you who participate in the discussions here, since you give me the enthusiasm to keep this going. Thank you!

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Site Update: Cathedral Quartet reference section

Almost five years ago, I launched cathedralstribute.com, a site with a history, individual member history, lyrics reference section, discography, and other features about the Cathedral Quartet. Today marks the end of an era; after consultation with a number of friends, I have decided to shut the site down as a separate site, and roll its content into this site’s reference section, at /reference/cathedral-quartet.

This is for a few reasons:

  • Visibility: This site gets far more traffic; as a separate site, it had very little.
  • Maintenance: It’s far easier for me to keep it up to date when it’s accessed via an admin area I use daily.
  • Security: I keep this site up to date with the latest security updates, but didn’t always with the Drupal-based install I used on the standalone site, since I could go 6-12 months without touching the admin area. (Now the cat is out of the bag, I suppose, but the bag has just been thrown away, so what’s the harm?)
  • Search engine visibility: Search engines check active sites more frequently than sites which are static and virtually never updated.
  • Album reviews: Since the launch of this site’s Cathedral Quartet album reviews series, it just makes sense to have the detailed reviews and the other historical data under the same roof.

Since CathedralsTribute.com was the first Southern Gospel site I ever launched (and my second overall), it’s somewhat of a bittersweet moment. But there is definitely the “sweet” aspect, since it will be far easier to keep up to date, and since the reasons listed above just make sense.

One other, minor, upgrade; to make it easier to navigate in the reference section, I installed “breadcrumbs” in the reference section, for more easy navigation:

SouthernGospelBlog.com breadcrumbs screenshotEnjoy—and, as always, feedback and updates are vital and much appreciated!

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New Twitter Account: @sogospelblog

Twitter isn’t my thing—for the same reason this site is.

I don’t think in 140 characters; I think in complete sentences. Virtually every attempt to draft a tweet on my personal account ends in frustration, with three or four drafts required to chop a thought into a single sentence fragment. Sometimes I succeed, and sometimes I don’t.

But I’ve known that some people like following breaking news headlines via Twitter feeds. Wes Burke set up an account for his blog, here, and that inspired me to do the same…even though I don’t care for the site. But if that’s how you like getting your news, you can follow it here: http://twitter.com/sogospelblog.

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Site Update: Accounts

As has always been the case, you can join in on this site’s discussions without an account. I just enabled accounts for two reasons:

  • I thought they would circumvent the minimum word length restriction that has annoyed some of our concise commenters. Unfortunately, I was wrong!
  • They are now the way to have your name double as a link to your website. Despite having two other levels of anti-spam security in place, there were still dozens of spam comments to clear out each day, so as an anti-spam measure, the URL portion of the comment form has been removed.
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Blog Update: Tags

When this site launched in fall 2006, the only post organization option was categories. That was fine with me, since my brain is wired to have everything neatly categorized. When WordPress added tags a few years ago, I coded it out of this site’s design since tags struck me as unappealingly scatterbrained—and since they would take weeks to go back and add in!

I finally took the plunge. It’s now in the right-hand menu, and incorporated in a “for more posts about” link in most posts.

To participants in the Thousand Comment contesttry using this to find more posts on your favorite groups and topics. This site has had 758 comments this week, which means there are 242 to go to trigger the grand prize!

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Launching Reference

Over the weekend, I launched a new section of the site, Reference – /reference/. The initial concept is to make available some of the research documents I’d prepared to help with my commentary here, but perhaps over time the concept will grow to include other interesting and useful content.

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