My first contact with internet discourse about Mormon stuff was on soc.religion.mormon, a Usenet group that is moderated for topicality and civility. SRM was my earliest model for what conversation between believers and non-believers should look like. Two years as a moderator showed me how this model behavior was cultivated: through the miracle of software and a dedicated moderation team, discourteous posts never get through.
Prevention is built into the charter. One hot button is defined as discourteous: Is the church a cult? Another is defined as off-topic: Are Mormons Christians? Discussion of the temple ceremony is prohibited.
This is not to say that everybody who posts on SRM is a believer, or even supportive or positive about the faith. Posters have come and gone who are adamantly opposed to the teachings and practices of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but they were unfailingly civil in how they presented their disagreements. That's because if they weren't, their posts didn't see the light of day.
Over at LDS Liberation Front, I got my underwear in a bunch about the reasonableness of divorcing an otherwise acceptable spouse because said spouse doesn't believe any more. The discussion made me think about discourse between Mormons and Former Mormons.
The stereotypical conversation is a shouting match between the prissy, offended LDS who thinks the ex-mo "can't let it alone" and should just go away quietly, and the angry ex-mo who thinks all those &%*$(#@! Mormons are *$@!*%+ idiots. But if you're outside the corridor, isn't that kind of confrontation rare? Isn't it pretty rare on the internet, too? I've been impressed, overall, by how pleasant most of the folks on the 'nacle have been to me, my Transitional Mormon status notwithstanding. Even the occasional uber-Mormons have been very polite.
I contrast this with the way each group talks about the other in their "safe spaces." Some places on the DAMU* would be downright horrifying to a believer to read. I have read some assumptions about ex-Mormons in believing spaces that are not exactly charitable, either.
Are we being fake in our dialogues with the Others? Are we putting on the show that's expected in our "safe spaces"?
Do you restrict your reading to believing blogs? Do you read boards like FAIR? Do you ever peek in on RFM? How does the discussion of the Others among themselves affect your perception of them?
I sense the need for a poll.
*DisAffected Mormon Underground. It's a great acronym; admit it.