“But we cannot stand on the sidelines while others, including our critics, attempt to define what the Church teaches. While some conversations have audiences in the thousands or even millions, most are much, much smaller. But all conversations have an impact on those who participate in them. Perceptions of the Church are established one conversation at a time.”
Participating in the conversations
There are many places where those conversations are taking place. Hundreds, perhaps even thousands of LDS-related blogs have sprung up since Elder Ballard issued his invitation. Some, like mine, have essays specifically targeted to answer questions about common objections to the church. We seek to portray LDS members as a happy, fun-loving and family-oriented people.
Many bloggers have comments turned on and welcome dialog about what they write. But for the most part, these discussions are limited to a few readers who share common interests. In fact, it is usually family and friends who follow these blogs. It is a rare blogger who has more than a few hundred visits a day. A typical blog posting might garner a few to a half dozen comments.
Group blogs, FaceBook and Twitter
I have written previously about LDS group blogs that have high readership and a large number of comments on each post. When I think of online conversations about the gospel, it is these group blogs that come to my mind. While I don’t read them as much as I used to, I have always been impressed by the diversity of opinion that can be found in the comments of the LDS group blogs.
Like most of the online world today, I have joined FaceBook and Twitter as part of my efforts to reach out to others around me and point them to essays on my blog when they come up in the dialog. I confess that I am somewhat addicted to both and find it easy to spend an inordinate amount of time on each. I have to be very careful to use them as tools and not as time wasters.
Conversations about the news
As a news junkie, I read the Salt Lake Tribune and Deseret News online every day. No, I’m not from Utah, but it is usually on those sites where you will find the most interesting conversations about the church. Let me rephrase that. It is in the comments to news stories about some aspect of LDS life that you will find the most attacks on our faith, church, religion, people and leaders.
Some stories will generate hundreds of comments. There are people who hang out there just to write awful things about the church and see what kind of trouble they can stir up. It’s almost like a chat room for the disaffected. I sometimes wonder if it wasn’t to these online conversations in particular that Elder Ballard was referring. The voices of reason are overrun by insanity there.
Online forums – message boards
That leads me to the subject of this essay: online forums. If you want to really participate in the conversations about the church, become a member of one or more of the popular LDS message boards. Did you know that there are at least a couple dozen? I did not realize it until I did a little digging. If you want to really discuss an idea about the church online, there is the place to do it.
I have a few favorites that I visit every day just to see what is currently being discussed. Yet, I confess that I rarely join the conversations there. I’m just there to get ideas about what is hot in the LDS community today. Each discussion board has its own tenor and you may find that the conversations on one forum are too crude while in another they are too esoteric for your taste.
Not all conversations are uplifting
So without further ado, here is the list of those that I visit on a regular basis. I have ranked the list arbitrarily by my own feelings as to how faith-promoting I find the conversations. My take on them may not be at all what you would consider encouraging or helpful. And although I have placed some very popular boards on the bottom of the list, I admit that I visit them frequently.
I know I have missed some. I also wondered about including some on this list because of their low membership or activity level. I chose to do so because they had something unique to offer. If you feel I have mischaracterized a forum as negative or positive, please let me know. If you would like to have me add to this list, feel free to add a comment and I will update accordingly.
Tim’s list of LDS discussion boards
Positive or mostly positive:
01. lds.net forums – 19,763 members – extremely active
02. The Nauvoo forum – very active – 10,131 members
03. International LDS Discussions – 10,604 members – very active
04. LDS Files – 9,141 members – no discussions – source of LDS news
05. Mormon Apologetics Discussion – 8,281 members – very active
06. LDS Tech Forums – 5,773 members – fairly active
07. Latter-day Family Resources – 2,625 members – very active
08. LDS Moms – 2,397 members – fairly active
09. Ask a Mormon – 1,376 members – somewhat active
10. About.com LDS forums – not many members – not very active
Mostly positive, mixed to negative:
11. Beliefnet – Latter-day Saints – no count – somewhat active
12. Jeff Snider board – not too active – 528 members
13. LDS Freedom forum – a little weird – 805 members – fairly active
14. Knowledge-Light-Truth – only 100 members – not very active
15. New Order Mormon – 943 members – fairly active
16. Folk of the Fringe – 65 users – not very active
17. Mormon Discussions – 710 members – fairly active
18. StayLDS forums – 237 members – fairly active