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Prayer requests.
how to handle them
bcc1234




msg:3205351
 1:43 am on Jan 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

I run a message board that has nothing to do with religion, but a larger part of the target audience is comprised of older/more conservative/more religious people.

Recently, someone started a post about a family member about to undergo a serious surgery and that person asked others to pray for her. I decided to leave it on the board and many other members responded and posted that they would pray and wish well.

Today, another post appeared by another member talking about some serious problems one of her loved ones is experiencing and she also asked others to pray.

Those were not some casual references, but posts with "Prayer Request" in the subject.

I'm afraid that if I don't do anything, posts like that would become a common thing and half of the board would start posting this stuff.

I don't want to appear insensitive, but I also don't want the board to turn into a discussion of all bad things that are happening.

With all the bad stuff that's happening, the board can easily turn into a really dark place. Not to mention the religious differences.

How would you deal with this?

 

rogerd




msg:3205418
 3:57 am on Jan 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

Many forums make religious references of any kind off topic. Discussion of religion often leads to disagreements, or makes some members uncomfortable.

Sounds like adopting that policy might be a good idea in your case.

bcc1234




msg:3205430
 4:26 am on Jan 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

I'm not worried about casual references to religion. Those are fine.
I would also not allow any discussions or religious arguments. There is no big dilemma here, I would simply delete them. "No religion or politics" is a good policy.

I'm more worried about the negative and at the same time personal context of such posts. If I start deleting them, people who post them (and some others) might get offended and upset. If I let the posts remain, it would just become a "dark place" -- that pretty much describes it.

Besides, it's hard to have a discussion about which widget does a better job solving a problem when there is a post right next to it about someone being diagnosed with cancer or losing a limb in a car accident. (both are actual topics on the board).

I'm sure even _this_ post can put some readers of WW into a crappy mood for the day.

The more I think about it, I feel like I should delete posts like that. But I don't know if it's better to send a private message to people whose posts I delete or just delete them and hope they don't feel too bad.

shallow




msg:3205437
 4:43 am on Jan 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

You didn't say what kind of forum you run but perhaps you can add a lounge board (or whatever you want to call it) to the forum for more personal, off-topic discussions. That way you would confine that stuff to one area.

If an "offensive" discussion started elsewhere, you could move it into the lounge board. An added benefit is that you don't have to be a censor and appear anti-religious, anti-faith.

I pray you make the right decision (sorry, couldn't resist).

As an aside, not just older people are conservative and religious!

Jane_Doe




msg:3205451
 5:48 am on Jan 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

From the San Francisco Chronicle -

"The study of more than 1,800 heart bypass surgery patients found that those who had other people praying for them had as many complications as those who did not. In fact, one group of patients who knew they were the subject of prayers fared worse."

[sfgate.com...]

bcc1234




msg:3205487
 7:33 am on Jan 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

I pray you make the right decision (sorry, couldn't resist).

LOL. Good one.

As an aside, not just older people are conservative and religious!

That's true. I didn't say they are religious becuase they are older. I just stated three characteristics that are common to my targeted audience.

Jane_Doe, I read that one a while back. I think it also was on the daily show. But of course, I'm not going to mention that to the people making the posts.

luckychucky




msg:3205854
 3:59 pm on Jan 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

you can add a lounge board (or whatever you want to call it)
Certainly. Just create a separate forum literally called "Prayer Requests" and send them all over there. If somebody posts a prayer request, move it to its own proper little Siberia with others of its kind. Anybody who wants others to pray, or is out looking for something to pray for, can visit there to his or her heart's delight. Your other forums remain unimpinged.
Beagle




msg:3206079
 7:20 pm on Jan 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

What luckychucky said -- FWIW, even most religion-oriented sites have a separate forum or subforum for prayer requests so they don't take over the rest of the site.

This could be initiated positively: not "We're putting all the prayer requests over here to get them out of the way" but "We've noticed lately that there's a growing interest in prayer request posts, so we're starting a new section..."

dauction




msg:3206102
 7:42 pm on Jan 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

Simply create a Prayer Line Category .. Prayer is non denominational .

If it makes your members happy keep it... just put it in it's proper place ..it's own category/child directory .

Same as you would do if you had an adult section on your site.

luckychucky




msg:3206159
 8:37 pm on Jan 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

If you've ever been touched by his noodly appendage (as I have) you too would know the unbelievable power prayer can have in your life.

bcolflesh




msg:3206175
 8:57 pm on Jan 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

FSM reference - classic! Pastafarians unite!

shallow




msg:3206236
 9:49 pm on Jan 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

From the San Francisco Chronicle -
"The study of more than 1,800 heart bypass surgery patients found that those who had other people praying for them had as many complications as those who did not. In fact, one group of patients who knew they were the subject of prayers fared worse."

LOL! You believe everything you read?! I suppose you consider the San Francisco Chronicle "gospel?"

And how many bypass surgeries were conducted last year in the world? I think there were more than 1800 just in my tri-county area here in the US.

I suppose folks only pray for those with heart bypass surgery.

Err, there are no other diseases?! ;-)

Jane_Doe




msg:3206379
 12:39 am on Jan 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

Jane_Doe, I read that one a while back. I think it also was on the daily show. But of course, I'm not going to mention that to the people making the posts.

No, I wouldn't mention it in your forum either. It would just get some people really, really upset.

jtara




msg:3206399
 1:04 am on Jan 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

I agree with the other posters that have suggested a special area for this.

While you are at it, head off trouble at the pass and make an absolutely clear rule about posts asking for monetary donations.

The reason you need to do that, and now, is that once it is known that you've got a bunch of people praying over this and that sad situation, that is going to invite a different kind of preying. Unfortunately, there are those who will take advantage of a sympathetic audience, and they will swoop down on your site and empty some retirement accounts.

maximillianos




msg:3209421
 4:30 pm on Jan 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

I don't allow religious reviews in my forum when folks are trying to defend their own or knock other religions...etc.

But I would leave comments alone that mentioned prayers, etc. Those are pretty harmless and they don't usually offend.

Just my 2 cents.

spaceylacie




msg:3217609
 7:25 pm on Jan 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

I came across a forum today and it reminded me of reading this topic about a week ago. They have a "prayer line" thread as a sticky in their "lounge" area, like foo here. Looks like they were having the same problem as the OP as it was just a huge thread of endless prayer requests, pages and pages of them. But all in their own little area, easy to pass over if you weren't interested.

rogerd




msg:3217849
 11:27 pm on Jan 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

That's one good way to handle a problem post type. On one forum, we've segregated "congratulations" posts into a single stuck thread. It greatly reduces the clutter but still lets those people express themselves and celebrate with other like-minded members. Everyone else can ignore the topic.

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