Our goal for Connect is to create a community where we can engage with high quality conversation about all of life’s most pressing questions.
Sometimes that means needing to post to resources external to Connect.
As a quick refresher, here’s what our Guidelines state about external links:
Post Only Your Own Stuff
You may not post anything digital that belongs to someone else without permission. Do not copy-paste, plagiarize, or otherwise steal someone’s intellectual property when creating posts in RZIM Connect. Also, please don’t explain how a member of our community could steal someone’s content or otherwise break any law.
You may link to valuable external sources, as long as they are not self-promotional. Please link to materials that are respectful in tone and intellectually credible and trustworthy. Of course, if you are linking to something that does not fit these criteria, please explain why you are pointing our attention to the resource (e.g., “I need help responding to this article”).
With this in mind, here are some additional guidelines on using external links in RZIM Connect.
Why Link To Another Resource?
There are two primary reasons to post an external link:
- To ask a question in RZIM Connect
- To help answer a question in RZIM Connect
External Links: Asking A Question
Perhaps you have come to RZIM Connect to start a great conversation. Perhaps a book, video, or article prompted some difficult questions for you.
We’re so glad you want to ask your question here! The RZIM Connect community is excited to support and encourage you as we think through your question together.
So that we can best help you, please summarize the objection in your own words.
Instead of saying, “I watched this video, can anyone help me respond?”, it helps us if you can explain what exactly about the video concerns you and which specific objections you would like help addressing.
In particular, please write a clear title for your post. This will draw participants in to help you and also make it easier for others to find the discussion in the future.
Second, please be careful not to link to content that is illegal, dangerous, or not family-friendly. J
Finally, please give any necessary caveats (i.e. “This question comes from a non-Christian book/article/website, so the views expressed there are not from a Christian worldview.”)
External Links: Answering A Question
First and foremost, always answer a question with your own reflections.
If an external resource is good enough to recommend to someone else, then as a matter of integrity, be sure you have personally taken the time to understand this material yourself.
Then, do the work to explain these ideas in your own words, as a personal and empathetic response to the particular questioner and question that has been shared in Connect.
Within the context of sharing your own thinking on the question, you may of course find it natural to include a few quotes from the resources you’ve consulted.
Finally, be sure to share the link to any of the articles, videos, books, etc. where you learned these ideas, both to give credit, and so the questioner and other community members can do further study as they desire.
These guidelines are necessary for a few very important reasons.
First, we don’t want to plagiarize the hard work of others.
Second, RZIM Connect is an environment for personal, empathetic, relational engagement. We aren’t merely sharing information to intellectual questions. We are caring for one another as we grow to maturity in Jesus together.
As Ravi has shared, “We don’t just answer the question, but the questioner.” Please don’t use quick links to outside resources to shortcut the hard work of personally and prayerfully investing in answering both the question and the questioner.
Third, be sure that any external link is a credible, respectful resource. Just as we expect a high bar for mature contributions from every RZIM Connect member, we expect the same standards for any recommended external resource.
Finally, please help us by flagging any post that does not follow these guidelines. The moderators also may take action to remove posts that link to or refer to materials that are not credible and respectful. Posts that primarily offer long, extended quotes from someone else’s scholarship will be removed.
Why Do We Care?
From my experience with another apologetics community, I found that a culture of linking to personal blogs tends to leaks away the energy and momentum of the discussion in the group itself. Instead of the community having a real, substantive conversation, there is a constant distraction of ‘go here’ and ‘go there’.
Personally, as someone who runs a blog/website, or at least used to, I know from my own heart how tempting it can be to ‘use’ the group to drive traffic to my own site. For each question provided by the community, I could write a blog post about it, then link to my post in the community. This detracts from building the community itself; instead, the community becomes a means to build my own, separate initiative.
Also, from the perspective of the person asking the question, I think it is more caring and servant-hearted to provide the answer to them where they asked the question. This policy takes a burden off the moderator team to check out the quality of each member’s personal blogs. In addition, personal blogs are less stable, so posting to these could eventually lead to many dead links in Connect.
Perhaps best of all, prohibiting this practice leads people to reach for answers from books, commentaries, and well-respected scholars, which I believe elevates the quality of the answers we provide here. By challenging us to each provide higher quality, personable answers, this helps everyone to keep growing through their participation in the community.
A Common Sense Approach
In general, we want to build a particularly valuable, relevant, and respectful community. We hope these guidelines will help you ask great questions and/or provide personal, credible answers.
If you ever have a doubt about a link to another website, video, or other resource, feel free to reach out. Just send a message to the ‘connectmoderators’ group and we’ll be glad to discuss this with you. We’re here to serve you!
My thanks to @jspare for proposing this guide and writing an excellent first draft of this post!