Controversy Surrounding the Site
It seems as though every day I am accused by someone new of some wrong-doing related to this site. Whether it's intentionally spreading fear and panic, priestcraft, teaching false doctrine, or hyping last-days events for some sort of personal gain, at this point I've pretty much heard it all.
While the members of this site are certainly not prophets, there are times when I think that we all feel like Samuel on the wall: warning others of the coming of the Savior and begging them with all our might to get ready, all the while dodging the arrows of those who simply don't want to hear it. Reputation is one thing: character is another; and the Lord will judge us according to our character, not by our reputation. When men speak evil of us, we take consolation in the words of the Savior, speaking in the days of old to His disciples, He said, 'Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.' - Elder Joseph Eckersley, Conference Report, October 1907
I believe people learn and hear things differently from the Spirit. I believe this website has acted as a tool in the past for helping people find answers they've been seeking. I believe it will continue to serve as such a tool for as long as the Lord will allow it. I would encourage any who find the contents difficult to deal with, to prayerfully consider whether they should stay here, or move elsewhere so they can learn of these things in the ways that will work best for them. As long as we are all preparing spiritually and temporally, I salute everyone's efforts, regardless of whether or not this site is part of them.
Another key challenge I and the other moderators deal with on a daily basis has to do with contention, disagreements on various topics, and in general, how others choose to treat one another in the forums. Unfortunately, in an online community, it's all too easy to lose site of the fact that real people are on the other end of the comments. It's easy to say something, or read something, in a different context than it was meant. While I'm not aware of a single online community that doesn't deal with these types of issues, I'm proud that we expend so much effort trying to keep these problems under control. As Lehi said, "..it must needs be that there is opposition in all things." (2Ne 2:11)
Holding different views or conversing about points of disagreement does not constitute contention. Neither does an argument or a debate, if (a big if) it can be done with a peaceful spirit and method. In short, the kind of contention treated here consists of disagreement plus a wrathful spirit or a quarrelsome method. We hold our members to a high degree of accountability. We expect them to behave, and to treat one another in a way that would be pleasing to Christ. While we certainly understand that no one is perfect, we also reserve the right to take action against those who violate this rule. Despite our shortcomings, we try very hard to ensure that this site remains a house of order. (D&C 132:8).
Some choose to question our policy on charging for a membership to this site. I can certainly understand hesitation on this matter. Anybody charging for gospel-related services should be subject to scrutiny. Prior to my assuming the role as site owner, all of the content was available for free. Unfortunately, the project was not sustainable. It was losing large amounts of money. This site receives large volumes of traffic. It requires dedicated hardware in high-end internet data centers. It requires on-going maintenance, license fees to pay for software we use, and countless hours of my personal time, and the time of many others, in operations and management. Quite simply, this site would not be sustainable without a subscription service. It's interesting that some people have such a hard time with the concept of paying for these types of services. The church distributes countless amounts of information, services, and books for money. Examples include The Ensign, Deseret Book, the distribution center, and more. In most cases where actual cost is involved to produce and/or manage the content, the church requires a fee to help cover those costs. Unfortunately, we must do the same.
I wish to make it clear that I have always, and will always, provide discounted (or free, if required) memberships to those who wish to be here but simply cannot afford it, or for those who have fallen on hard times. I hold nothing for ransom.
Another issue many struggle with is the idea of private content on the site. Please understand, brothers and sisters, my intent is not to hold information ransom except to those willing to pay fees. The information on this site deemed private, or protected, is set that way generally at the request of the content owner. Examples include someone who has posted a private and sacred dream with the wish that it not be distributed outside of the trusted members of this site, or someone who has worked many hours to produce a book, but chooses to give it away for free to friends on our site. While it's true that a membership fee is required to view this content, the problem is rather incidental. The information is kept private to prevent wide-spread distribution at the request of those who created that content, not as a means to extract membership fees. As stated above, nothing here is held for ransom.