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10:55 AM
Q: Alternate Accounts

RyanIt's my assertion that some users are posting on alternate accounts as a means of posting questions that they know are not in line with the intent and purpose of this forum, for their own devices. Is this something that is within the bounds of how this site should be used? Is there a way to con...

11:45 AM
Q: The Direction of Buddhism SE

LankaI have chosen to leave the site as well. This is no longer the Buddhism SE, that I used to care about and engage in. I use to think that our SE was not as brutal as the other SE's. We had kindness, ethics and a high degree of respect among users. In the last 3 months this has begun falling awa...

12:16 PM
Q: A chat session about the direction of Buddhism SE - Anyone interested?

Crab BucketWe are changing a lot as a site and I think it's fair to say that a number of users have concerns. Just in the way of a concrete suggestion - what about a chat room and a scheduled time span (perhaps over a weekend) where we can get together as a community and voice these concerns and perhaps foc...

1:00 PM
1:18 PM
Hi @Robin111 I'm glad you're still here (I don't think you posted in the last couple of weeks).
Hi Chris! A combination of things. Life has gotten very busy and I've had to draw back on optional activities in general. Something I've done before until things settle down again. But I've also noticed a change in tone on the site and it doesn't always feel like a positive experience being here. But I wanted to give a bit of feedback on this as I think it's important.
Please do.
And if I can ask you a question, do you think it's appropriate that I delete and/or edit the "tone" of users' posts (i.e. their questions, answers, and/or comments)?
I'm not sure that's feasible. There will likely be complaints of censorship.
@Robin111 I bet there would be (complaints of censorship), yes. I could try doing it "for the community" if it were feasible and beneficial.
Anyway, do you "want to give a bit of feedback on this"?
My personal view, I guess it's a bit clingy but still: if "being here" isn't a "positive experience", for you, for Lanka, for Yuttadhammo, that leaves me wondering what the point of the site even is.
Yes, sorry! I'm at work and only able to answer between customers. :p
1:34 PM
... and it certainly leaves me wondering what I'm supposed to be "moderating" it for (and how).
Respect is key and we've done a good job of getting over some earlier bumps in the road. The "cult" issue...the zen type answers issue....we've done well with being respectful to all types of Buddhists and Buddhist practices after we became a little more aware that we were possibly being "insensitive" earlier.
But more recently, there just seems to be a no holds barred tone of being critical of texts and practices and beliefs that people hold dear.
I would say if you have a good answer, you only have to make your own good case, not attack others and the validity of their textual references, etc.
Respect seems key. Perhaps there's another world-view, however, some people seem a bit, "If you meet the Buddha on the road...", and iconoclastic.
I prefer the kind of discourse you identify ("not attack others") and ("not attack the validity of their textual references"). Can I/we require that? Or is that "editing for tone" which you said might not be "feasible"?
(Now, I have to go for an hour -- if this is your first time in Chat, here's a FAQ about how it works). See especially this which gives a hint about which other users are viewing the room and how recently/actively).
2:40 PM
While attempting to "edit tone" would be filled with problematic potential; issuing a gentle warning might be more straightforward. It also lets everyone else know where the site/moderators stand on issues such as lashing out at particular sects, practices, beliefs, textual references, etc. The point is, the site was created with the idea of actually answering questions from people who actually "had questions".
Today we have more and more opinions posed as questions from people who want to argue, debate and push their own ideas. There is nothing inherently wrong with that activity but it's not what SE was set up to do. Maybe moving opinion based debates to Chat would be more in keeping with the original SE intent.
In reading a question, it's usually possible to see if (a) this is a person seeking an answer to something unknown to them or (b) this is a person seeking to discuss or debate their ideas and opinions.
I'd suggest moving (b) style questions to Chat. I'd suggest issuing a warning (when needed) that this site maintains a high degree of respect for all styles of Buddhism and that it's not appropriate to opine about how invalid someone else's style of Buddhism is.
All things change and the character of a Q & A site must change as well. We've answered many, many beginner type questions and straightforward questions and we don't allow duplicates. So to submit a question, one must have an original question and many of these have become more academic recently; although practical questions still seem to be upvoted quite well when someone submits a good one.
There's nothing wrong with the site taking a more academic tone if that's what current participants are interested in. But with lack of respect for other styles of practice; we can't expect that those with less interest in academic issues will care to hang around.
3:09 PM
The following quote from another thread here on Meta gives the impression that pointing a questioner to a related reference in the Tipitika is not a valid way of answering a question.
"And yes, the most active members do tend to answer questions in terms that are antiquated and traditional. Of course we can see some positive value in tradition and many of the old stories do still resonate emotionally for some people....
But acceptance and repeating the old stories is also an expression of group membership and identity. The constant citing of blocks of (often poorly translated) quotes from suttas with no consideration of the content also seems to be connected with this phenomenon."
This seems to imply that unless you can translate the sutta's yourself (and in a way that it's not "poorly translated") that a participant has no business quoting the suttas.
I think we have to admit this StackExchange software is built to reward defensible intellectual positions, and not necessarily to permit a co-operative consensus or some other non-winner-loser format. There's even a whole lot of samsara in this SE software with its points and badges, and general wealth tracking, some people can make a big deal of this because of habit patterns.
I've wondered if a bulk of our problems aren't coming from our use of a format that invites those of a more samsaric or intellectual mind to participate. In the outside world intellect is often good, but in Buddhism intellect often gets in the way of genuine insight.
It's great to have people who have that ability (translating suttas) answering questions; although with 20 people translating sutta's you might have 20 translations. ;-) Personally, I have my limits and I'm aware of them. Nonetheless it generally felt helpful to submit an answer pointing someone else to the words of the Buddha on a matter. It was always up to the questioner to determine if it was helpful or not.
@Buddho, I agree with that. The format has it's limitations for sure. The "best" answer can be quite subjective.
3:36 PM
@Robin111 I've been told that expecting someone to edit their own tone is "problematic" (unwelcome) in feminism and race relations debates (i.e. demanding that a victim be polite when they complain about the status quo). And "free speech" is big thing in some cultures (including academia and perhaps for good reason). However this is a community-moderated site where we're allowed to limit the range of discourse if we want to.
We've kind of posted some gentle warnings in the past, for example,
Q: What does it mean to "be nice"?

yuttadhammoIn a recent discussion on Buddhism.SE, the topic of "being nice" came up for dispute. It was asked whether this meant that we must "pander to fundamentalists" rather than dispute their claims. This meta post is meant to be a platform for that discussion. Here's the generic description, BTW, of ...

@Robin111 Subjectivity with common assumptions, knowledge, tools, and techniques is what is called objective truth. When people differ on the assumptions or source of knowledge or tools etc, one can easily accuse the other of being subjective.
If one set of people draw their source of evidence from personal insight and consensus and the other draw it from intellectually argued science etc, it sets up a contest over who is objective and who isn't. It's un-winnable because neither share common assumptions
I don't know if this is a problem on other sub-sites, but I imagine classical vs quantum physicists might have some of the same problems of contradictory assumptions when explaining somethings
Since everything is impermanent, and objectivity expects some degree of permanence, objective truth only resides within a bubble of shared assumptions.
Physicists understand there's more than one useful perspective or "model".
@ChrisW Perhaps that is true today, but when quantum ideas were coming out, until the Higgs-Boson accelerator kind of proof was available, there were quite a few who didn't agree with the "more than one truth" agenda
The arguments here seems to be "at cross-purposes". One person's trying to answer the OP, another is trying to critique a translation of the sutta. One person is trying to supply an orthodox answer, another pointing out that orthodoxy isn't everything.
The "problematic" bit: is it mostly the comments, or mostly the answers, or mostly the questions? Or something else?
3:52 PM
@ChrisW Could you clarify "here"? Also, re: comments - since they keep disappearing a lot of context that led up to this is missing for those not personally involved
Here recently on Buddhist.SE rather that elsewhere on some theoretical site for theoretical physicists.
Yes, I agree, sorry for the diversion
Anyway, the sense of what I was after is that to some not used to orthodoxy or used to viewing it as a negative, they will fail to appreciate the merits of it, and therefore discredit everything stemming from orthodoxy. In that sense, they don't share common assumptions, and thus there can't be an objective debate between them
The inflammatory tone (i.e.) not being nice is the problem I think.
I guess I'm thinking I can try to regulate behaviour/action, not attitude. So I can spend time imagining why someone seems to have an attitude or a motive or whatever. Meanwhile other users are unhappy. If I wanted to address the biggest problem first, what's the biggest problem: answers? comments? or what?
One can raise a contentious topic in a respectful manner, though not always. But it would be impossible to succeed with a nasty tone.
What are the options when someone is repeatedly not very nice? Is banning an option? (Not my favoured choice, but it is something I'd consider since we are still a young site in beta)
I really don't like the spreading of doubt about the teachings of the Buddha. Some users seem to only be here in order to do that. Creating doubt about the whole teaching and constantly writing that there is no evidence for anything, e.g. if any Arahants exists today, if the Buddha really existed, if the Buddha said this or that.. It's missing the point entirely.
It's taking away the entire foundation for answering questions on Buddhism SE. Buddhism cannot be understood intellectually and when some users try to make everything intellectual, then clashes will come.
4:01 PM
@Buddho Banning is technologically an option (though Andrei said that doing that wouldn't be the best course of action). In fact if someone's posts are downvoted enough then the software auto-bans them and there's nothing I can do to un-ban them.
As i see it, there are several big problems at the moment.
1. The tone has gone from nice to not-nice, sometimes even rude and hurtful.
@Lanka Thanks for explaining. Is any of it a problem which moderators can solve somehow? And/or which the community can solve?
2. Some users often create doubt about the teachings, saying that there is no evidence for anything. It becomes almost nihilism.
3. Some users are here to promote their own work.
I want to make it clear that these problems are not caused by the moderators. These problems are caused by certain users.
@ChrisW I saw Andrei's comment, and I do give his opinion a lot of weight. However the more sensitive among us like Bhante and Lanka are clearly affected by it, and I think they are like canaries in the coal mine, our early warning system. If this site had thousands of active users like a mature site, it could weather a few problem makers, but in this relative infancy it seems like moderator action would be welcome.
The only way I see to bring this ship around is to ban these users permanently from Buddhism SE. This might sound harsh but the alternative is that this SE is going to crash.
4:10 PM
@Lanka I like to think there's bad behaviour but not bad users. Instead of "banning these users" is it possible to identify what "unacceptable behaviour" is, and say "you are welcome and your opinions are welcome, as long as you're willing to abide by these 'house rules'"?
> If you are not comfortable with the idea of your contributions being collaboratively edited by other trusted users, this may not be the site for you.
I agree, it (banning) is NOT an approach I'd like to take, but if behavior like what is mentioned here is indeed happening, it's hard to draw the line
In my opinion, these users have other agendas, than to help people. I have seen multiple posts that created schisms, separation, doubt and promotion of their own work. Like it's a sport to create the most doubt about the teachings. For me, it takes a lot of energy to address these things, because the whole point is being missed.
For example, one writes an answer to a question and backs it up with references and then these users will write: Do you have any evidence for that? Are there any evidence that the Buddha really said that? This is a poorly translation of a text, it does not really say that and there are more varieties of these comments. It surprises me that such a small number of users can create so much turmoil and make other established users retire from the site.
Since these problems are caused by a very small amount of users, i'm going to be strict and take the harsh approach and bring up the option of a permanent ban.
This is where i stand and the decision will not change.
@Buddho I haven't suspected that behaviour. If you want me to look into it, please tell me about it in private. SE doesn't usually take that offence too seriously though, even a repeat offender might be banned just temporarily. In my opinion too sock-puppeting (i.e. who posts) is less problematic than whatever the content is (i.e. what is posted).
@ChrisW It's mildly surprising SE doesn't consider sock puppeting a big deal, but then I suppose a for-profit company has a different idea of running a community than a group of Buddhists. In most Internet communities divisive opinions and arguments are exactly the kind of violence that's welcomed, because it is entertainment.
4:25 PM
Banning dissenting opinions is not proper. But respectful discourse must be the expectation and those attempting to antagonize others by belittling their sources should be called out. When you bake a good apple pie you never have to discredit anyone else's apple pie. You just do your own good thing. :)
@Buddho From SE's perspective I think sock-puppeting is mostly a type of voting fraud (i.e. upvoting your own posts); they catch it eventually if it happens, reverse the fraudulent votes, no permanent harm.
@ChrisW I see. I think you moderators are doing a very admirable job, and it's a lot of work. I don't know your challenges at all, so please feel free to take or discard my opinions. I think sock puppeting can be sneaky too, in the sense of creating rifts and schisms.
@Lanka If you comment on an answer, the comment is meant to be for asking questions (about the answer) or for suggesting an improvement (to the answer). The purpose of a comment is meant to be to improve the answer. If a comment doesn't improve an answer then the comment is useless/obsolete.
Earlier today I wanted to vote to close a question but I found I couldn't since it had an open bounty. On reading up on this conundrum I find that Stack Exchange leaves it to moderators too.
So if someone makes a comment on your answer which you don't want to act on (i.e. a comment which won't result in an improvement to your answer), how about you just flag that comment as "too chatty" or "obsoelete" or whatever? A mod will delete the comment, leaving your answer unbothered. Would that be a solution, that allows you post your answers without interference (just perhaps the occasional need to flag any comment you don't like)?
4:33 PM
Chris: The comments where just one example. Also in answers and questions are there being spread doubt and used hurtful language.
The main problem is answers and questions from these users.
@Lanka Let me suggest that solution to the problem of comments, at least.
@ChrisW I used this feature of flagging comments for the first time today, I didn't realise it was a valid option, or I'd have used it sooner. It solves the comments problem for me at least.
Partly I was also reluctant to flag users because I wanted to assume goodwill, but after seeing a pattern, I thought it best to use the flag.
Well the (only) purpose of comments is to improve the questions and answers. If any comment fails to do that I'd prefer to delete it, for our sake now and for the sake of any other readers in the future.
hi all - goo to see so many of us in here. I''l try to catch up
Okay, so the remaining question is - can we do something about the excessive skepticism / negativity / doubt and casual disrespect of tradition and orthodoxy?
4:38 PM
Hi Crab. Thanks for joining the chat.
Buddho said pretty well what I was going to ask.
IMO certainly better to flag a comment than to let the comment force you into an argument you don't want to have. If you flag a comment against someone else's answer I would use my judgement (such as it is) about whether to delete it. But if you flag a comment against one of your own answers I can virtually guarantee, I can't foresee any reason why I wouldn't delete that comment a.s.a.p. So flag it and it'll disappear. The only people who'll even see it are people who read the site continually.
Can I be honest - I don't have a huge problem with people casting doubt on tradition
so long as it is done with a level of consideration and respect
be some questions have obvious really affected people
so - i'm not sure
i really don't want to shut down questions because they appear skeptical
but I don't want people beaten around the head with other people's skeptical ideas and really try to undermine them
@Buddho Yes, well, in general, we can do something: a) define some rule b) get popular support for it c) enforce it using community downvotes, community edits, moderator interventions, etc.
for instance i closed this and i kind of regret it. I did it because it had downvotes and 2 close votes so i thought - "let's just shut this one down before it gathers any heat"
Q: What do the Buddhist scriptures say about Humour and Irreverence?

Krishnaraj RaoIrreverent humour is reasonably well-tolerated in some sections of modern society. For instance, jokes about the pope and about pastors' wives are fairly widespread among even church-going Christians. There are also plenty of God and Devil jokes. How do Buddhists feel about irreverent humour -- ...

and people really didn't like it
i don't think I've ever seen a -5 question.
Let's talk about what problems there might be for a rule about "excessive skepticism / negativity / doubt and casual disrespect of tradition and orthodoxy", what support there is for such a rule, what alternatives there might be, etc. Andrei might be suggesting an alternative with his proposed 'skeptic' tag, what do you think of that?
4:49 PM
Why was this question so reviled? I've missed something with this
i think the skeptic tag is a good idea
I personally want the site to be broad
but welcoming
the good think about the skeptic tag is that someone can block all questions from that tag
@CrabBucket If someone has too many questions downvoted too heavily then the software will ban them from asking more questions.
so they don't even need to look at it
but that is just my opinion of course
this user hasn't reach that limit yet though
there is also a deleted on
from the same user on Mara which I don't think was any worse that what we have see before
i have to stress I am not defending this position in any way. I think I just want to understand what is not good about these questions and if we need to shut them down
or risk alienating the majority of the users
is the the lack of respect for tradition and the skeptical tone - I'm thinking it is
I think a lot of it comes from tradition. In the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh that I am from, I've seen people lovingly lie down in the lap of a Buddha statue in the garden and go to sleep. In Thailand that would likely get one a jail sentence
Just looking at the humor question, it doesn't seem like a bad question. The down votes might be a backlash against the user who seems controversial in general.
Ok sure that's really interesting and one of the great things about the site - you get to know other traditions and values
4:57 PM
Just a guess, but when you notice a pattern of disrespect for traditional from someone; it might color the way people see their other questions as well.
but in other traditions a more questioning approach is valid
I don't think it's out of turn to say that Jayarava is the source of a lot of this
Let me say it right out...if someone else asked about humor it might have even been upvoted. :)
I think that's fair - is it?
but Jayarava and I both come from Triratna and in that community a questioning attitude is really encouraged
in my experience
Questioning is fine, but disrespect isn't
so I think he is just a representative of that aspect
yes absolutely and I think that is the thing to tackle
5:00 PM
I don't think he means ill, but he is rather free with language that is offensive
there have been other Triratna Order members in and they get along just fine
Insensitive to what's dear to many here.
And questioning does not mean disapproving of any idea that is not one's own
As controversial as it is - I really do think it's a tone issue
and not really questioning someones answers in comments
I personally think that is not good
if you have another answer then just post it
@CrabBucket Were you saying that comments are not the problem?
5:02 PM
comments are a problem
i think they are misused
If you hover to the left of a chat message there's a menu which lets you edit what you posted.... e.g. I just edited this one.
got it
So a 'skeptic' tag might help filter questions.
for me it's a good compromise
I used that filter-by-tag feature when I was a user on Skeptics.SE fwiw ... there was one topic there that I didn't want to read any more about.
Anyone who understands what that tag-and-filter feature can be used for, and who wants to use it on this site: perhaps you can cooperate with Andrei on meta to define what kinds (what examples) of questions it should filter.
5:08 PM
Happy to do that - but would that address the concerns over these questions?
Would that be helpful for @Lanka fr instance
I hope it would help Lanka.
or is the presence of these kind of questions on the site entirely unacceptable for a proportion of our users
I think even with the skeptic tag we should be on top of the 'be nice' policy
Perhaps we should also review our policy of not moderating questions; "hostile" is already in the short-list of banned question-types.
I think so too
I think we should be shutting more questions down
well I think we should consider it
@CrabBucket I posted a draft in the Office, did you see that?
5:11 PM
no hang on
got it
i'm been struggling to keep on top of things today
I would post it
i think a review of the approach is good
and if people still want the site to be permissive then great
that's what it is.
It would be interesting to see what people want/feel comfortable with
Is there an atheists.se? A lot of questions that are problematic could be redirected there
no - I think someone tried to start it but it didn't get the votes
philosophy SE could be a destination maybe
For me it is both the tone issue of his language but also the heavy doubting/sceptisism about the teachings. It is very difficult to answer questions when suddently the most basic teachings are not valid or there is not enough evidence for them.
Maybe it's because i'm coming from a practical aspect of Buddhism. When one puts these teachings into practice, there is really no doubt that they can only come from an enlightened being.
@Buddho There's a philosophy.SE but maybe not.
5:15 PM
It conflicts too much with my understanding of Buddhism, so maybe the problem is mostly my own. I will refer to the Five Spiritual Faculties, wherein one of them is Faith. But in Buddhism faith is not blind faith, it's faith guided by wisdom, wisdom that is achieved through the practice of meditation.
but I'd rather hoped it would come from Philosphy to us if I'm honest
I guess that if one's approach is not practical but textual/intellectual in nature, then these insights cannot be gained, thus the heavier emphazis on texts and evidence for them.
I don't see any Hindus or Christians coming to this forum and crowing their approach is better, but the skeptics are really atheists sometimes who adopt the Buddhist label but advance a competing agenda
@Lanka The kinds of things he says is like, "There's no historical evidence that the Buddha even existed, except for in Buddhist scriptures."
I think that might be literally true. That phrase sounds offensive, but I see it as a criticism of the state of history.
@CrabBucket We shouldn't get samsaric about followers - they are not wealth to be accumulated. I know the SE system is very materialistic with its points, badges and an overload of stats, but at least I want to be in a community that is loving over a marketplace of dissent
@ChrisW This is not history.se
5:19 PM
You might be right Chris. But to me it's energy draining. I need to be a place where i do not have to deal with this level of sceptisism, i.e. a place where the teachings are "accepted" as they are and the focus is on the practice of them, i.e. meditation and the other path factors.
Let me try to explain my vision of the site.
It's really hard to explain the unimportance and even hinderance that intellect can be to Buddhism to those who are convinced everything can be explained by iterative thought. Just like there are those who remain convinced jhanas are fictional states, and caused by asphyxiation
Would it be useful to suggest that question be tagged with a specified tradition more often? For example it's already policy that on any question with a theravada tag, answers which aren't trying to be from a theravada perspective would be off-topic.
5:24 PM
Some think things can be intellectualized, others think chanting will bring you to salvation, others think meditation is the way to see reality. But it only gets ugly when there is a lack of respect for others practices.
Most questions aren't tagged with a specific tradition, therefore they seem to invite answers from any or all traditions (including 'secular').
I've often thought there is an inherent conflict in Buddhism SE
There is the fake materialism/samaric element to it which feels unhelpful
and then there is the encouragement of intellectual debates
to be Buddhism SE isn't Buddhism or Buddhist practice
@CrabBucket I've often been glad that people are moderate.
sometimes it helps and sometimes it really doesn'y
@Robin111 I agree to that
5:28 PM
My vision is that the teachings of the Buddha are accepted teachings. They are the foundation that we ask and answer questions on. The focus is on the practical part, i.e. meditation and the other path factors. The questions that arises in that regard, is what is being discussed.
When this level of sceptisism is present, it rocks the whole foundation of my vision for the site and takes it in another direction, a more nihilistic and evidence-based direction.
If i could answer in one simple sentence the question about nihilism and evidence, i would say: "Please go and practice the teachings of the Buddha and one will come to see that they can only come from an enlightened being".

This is my own vision and in no way the vision that is true for everyone because we have different perspectives and backgrounds in Buddhism.
@ChrisW Secular is not code for atheist or religious-skeptic I hope
I'm rambling on - but I just wanted to echo the thoughts that there is something inherently conflicted about the site. I guess if we want to stay engaged we just need to work within that.
@Lanka thank you for that. That's really helpful to know
How could we fit your vision of the site into what we have here
is it possible?
@Buddho From what I can remember from wikipedia I suspect that 'secular' implies no belief in the supernatural ... so no devas, for example, and presumably Mara only as a metaphor, etc.
@CrabBucket I've always been uneasy with the SE format of medals and one right answer only to be better suited for worldly science rather than non-worldly renunciate philosophers
@ChrisW I thought secular was like a sterile or neutral middle space between atheism and theism, perhaps I'm wrong
The problem is that there are many different visions for Buddhism SE. My vision is not the only one. So how to balance mine with everyone else vision. That is the difficult thing.
5:33 PM
@Buddho I don't believe in "one right answer" on this site. Sometimes someone posts an answer that's IMO the best but often I like to read all the answer (the 'blind man and the elephant' metaphor, i.e. different answers give me some different perspective).
If i could choose - i would cut out the element of doubting and sceptisism about the teachings but would be unfair to other people who like this element.
It's very easy to swing in the other direction and become hardline theravadins or mahayanists or something, which I don't want either. We lived in a happy medium of no rules as long as everyone behaves. The Buddha groans to Ananda (mildly, as I suppose Buddhas don't really bemoan much) that the sangha was so much easier to manage back in the early days before all the rules
@ChrisW Indeed, that is my position too, as stated here
@Buddho fwiw I think that's "agnostic" i.e. "without knowledge" ... theist believes in god, an atheist is without god, and an agnostic claims not to know.
5:36 PM
Maybe it comes down to affiliations and if one is more or less practical in nature regarding the teachings. The more practical practitioners might have less focus on the validity and evidence of the teachings because the evidence is gained through meditation and also because the more insight one gains, the more faith on gets in the Buddha and his teachings.
@ChrisW yes, but secular is more functional - i.e. like a secular government
One thing to remember is the site was set up to be a site about Buddhism, not a Buddhist site. So questions which come from a skeptical perspective should be ok. SE wants traffic from outsiders to visit sites. So in a sense we are displaying info about Buddhism for outsiders as well as insiders. It's only important that we not degrade each others traditions; infighting among people talking about Buddhism is not good.
We didn't need to have these discussions so far, now it suddenly becomes necessary because of some incidents. I doubt we can ever draft water tight rules, and if we did, it would be so long that no one would read them. We need to reaffirm the "Be Nice" rules of the site, and make sure people really understand it or don't participate if they can't
@Robin. I agree on that.
An independent though less urgent question is whether the profit oriented motives of SE that promote a very samsaric model of site operation can co-exist with Buddhist ideas of non-attachment and renunciation.
5:41 PM
@Buddho Anyway 'secular' is irrelevant imo. @CrabBucket is theoretically from the same sect as Jayarava and nobody has any complaint about CrabBucket.
Indeed, @ChrisW I agree. I listent to Sangharakshita's talks all the time, and that kind of critical examination as advanced by the Buddha in the Kalama sutta is fine, but most often skeptical opinions advanced by Jayarava aren't neutral - he's already decided science has the answers and Buddhism is wrong. That isn't open-minded questioning.
@Buddho Moderators from other SE sites have advised me to not let myself become too bound by rules. Because if I do, some users will very nearly break the rule and argue "I didn't break the rule, so you can't do anything."
@Buddho I read it as saying that other individual/specific Buddhists are wrong, or bad translators, or etc.
If a Theravadin popped up on every non-Theravadin answer and dissed it would we tolerate it?
@Buddho The rule says they can't pop up on questions that are tagged mahayana.
Right, but commenting on other's answers as wrong because it is not "science" enough or "accurate translation" enough is about the same
5:48 PM
@Buddho At a guess I think we might tolerate it, and that this exact same tolerance would lead to exactly this same problem.
No one can really sit in judgement on others. This isn't a site for analysing if Ven. Shantideva got it wrong in the 8th century or if modern translators are more right than Nagarjuna.
(just a couple of examples, not thinking of specific incidents)
stackexchange.com/about I think says how this company measures success - max page views, max questions, max users, max answers - whereas I think most of us here are benefited by a more congenial community even if it has fewer questions and answers or users.
I'm thinking of specific incidents and being troubled by the thought. Would it work to say that being positive about new perspectives is welcome, but that being negative and critical of old perspectives is not?
What is good for SE isn't always good for Buddhism.SE
@Buddho IMO the .com is irrelevant: they allow Buddhism.SE to exist for the sake of goodwill and as long as this site doesn't cause too much bother (too much work for them or too much scandal), as long as it generates more good will than bad will, then it's not very relevent to them.
Exactly, we are the decorative plants in the office that live on indoor sunlight. So we can't expect the SE site will change to help this community - we need to thrive within the limitations of the system.
5:57 PM
Yes. So back to Buddhism.SE, I take it you don't like any of the criticism about other Buddhists that you've been reading: whether or not it's true, it's an "energy drain".
Negativity is a no-no, that's for sure
Criticism is fine when done respectfully, like by advancing a better answer. Not by trashing an existing answer or by posing a question that trashes other questions
Energy drain, definitely
I need to go now, will be back to check in later, is that ok?
Thanks @Buddho
@CrabBucket Do you think we moderators can and should recognize "negativity" when we see it and insist that it be done either respectfully or not at all?
We can talk about this in private if you prefer, or later.
Time for me to go too, at the moment.
Thank you Chris and Crab for bringing up some solutions. I appreciate the time and effort you mods put into this. I need to go too. I will check in later or tomorrow.
I also welcome input from anyone else, on this or any other topic.
Thanks to everyone else for participating in this chat. See you all.
6:02 PM
@Lanka You're welcome Lanka.
6:30 PM
@ChrisW regarding negativity. I think that that's right. We could recognise negativity and delete comment threads or even questions or answers if they are deemed to be too negative. It's a judgement but people can always raise on meta if we are being unfair
i would be comfortable with that approacj if that was what the community generally wanted
happy to talk further on this thread
1 hour later…
7:54 PM
Well OK then.
I find it slightly disconcerting that Robin maybe warned it might be unfeasible (because though I'm tempted to try it, she's surely cleverer than I am). But there seems to be a demand for it, even need for it, and you sound willing. And maybe we can't do it by being too rule-bound, we just need to inspect and handle posts on a case-by-case.
On the plus side we have plenty of past experience of positive role-modelling i.e. of diverse people coexisting on the site, therefore we kind of know what we want, and know that we're not asking for something impossible.
8:25 PM
Hi @Chris. What I meant by saying that it might be unfeasible to "edit tone" is that if mods felt responsible for editing negative pieces, it could be (a) too much work; a burden for the mods and it really doesn't do much to stem the tide of continued negativity. You clean up a piece while someone else is furiously typing away on another negative piece. (b) It would more than likely be called censorship by the original authors.
I think 2 simple things might help. As a couple people have mentioned, drawing back on our "virtually everything goes" question policy might help. Closing entirely opinion based questions and the like might reign things in a bit. Also expecting people to "be nice" seems reasonable.
Yes. Thanks for clarifying. I suggest editing because a hypothetical post might be long and good, and "editing for tone" just means deleting one sentence or one paragraph. I imagined (perhaps wrongly) that it might be easier and maybe less like passive-aggressive to "go ahead and do that" (i.e. edit the post to delete the bit I don't like) than to post a comment which says, "Be nice, please delete the 3rd paragraph which says "This... to that."" and then wait for the user to comply and/or argue.
That's a good point.
Often a warning system can be helpful ..for example
When someone is behaving inappropriately, in this case maybe belittling others sources or answers because they disagree with them, a written warning (via comment) followed by a short temporary ban (if things don't improve) followed by a permanent ban (if things again don't improve) might be a way to see if those who are creating disharmony are interested in working within a communities expectations.
It's surely not right to ban any users simply because they have a different view of things and a dissenting opinion. But we surely don't want to watch one participant degrade another's work or tradition or viewpoint either. There is a balance in between "anything goes" and censorship or impulsive banning. Does the site actually have a temporary ban function?
8:46 PM
It's called account suspension.
Buddho was talking earlier about the features of SE and whether they (SE features) are good for us. They actually are good, I think, we need to learn how to use them well.
Look at how much spam is posted on the site, for example.
I look at a question like this buddhism.stackexchange.com/questions/11437/… and it strikes me as mocking or even trolling of those who hold traditional views of orthodox Buddhism. This is not (IMO) a question from a person who would like an answer to something he doesn't know.
And apart from spam, count the number of trolls who are still able posting even after they were downvoted. And consider how easy it is to use the site, there's a chat, all sorts of features both visible and hidden behind the scenes.
Yes, knowing how to use some of the less used features on this site might help. :)
@Robin111 I found that question odd.
@Robin111 Software features are meant to invisible: consider the google search ui for example, it's just a text box. Anyway enough about software. Inflexible though this software is (e.g. we couldn't remove the ability to vote) it has a lot of useful/usable features built-in.
@Robin111 It's difficult to impute motive. Maybe he'll visit the chat room sooner or later.
9:31 PM
Maybe. But leaving it up to a user, who may not see his participation as problematic, to come and weigh in on this discussion might not be realistic. I'd suggest the following as potentially helpful to bring things back into balance in our community. Go back to closing questions for being entirely opinion based, etc. Issue warnings for attacking others work via comments. Following up warnings with temp or perm bans when needed. It's a good community. Would be good to keep it going. :)
9:45 PM
I wouldn't ask his opinion about moderating and/or about our site policy; but could ask why he's asking a question like that one.

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