(Finally came up with a better title.)

So if one asks a question about, say, mudras and the answer is "That's superstition, you should read the earlist pali texts"

Or if I ask a question about, say, mindfulness in noisy environment and the comment is "Meditational practices aren't effect, you need to chant Myo-ho-renge-kyo" or "Mindfulness is a ineffective materialist muddle you need to find a suitable lama and start ngondro"

Or if I ask a question about, If you see Amitabha and his Pure Land just before you die and the answer is "Only Christ and God can save your soul from Damnation" or alternatively "The Amitabha doesn't exist, he's a story to distract the working class from their current plight"

Do you see the pattern here? Do we want to leave open answers and comments that do nothing to answer the question, but instead are a sectarian attack on the beliefs implicit in the question?

I know from my experience on other Buddhist forums on the internet that these sort of discussions go nowhere good-- at best it becomes a battle between warring straw men, each side ascribing inaccurrate ideas to the other because neither side really is very familiar with the other's school of thought.

I would suggest that these sort of comments and answers be dealt with aggressively. Or just quietly removed.

For the programmers here, this is the equivalent of asking how to sort a list of words in C# and being told that computers are stupid and you should use pencil and paper, or a recommendation to just stop using C# and switch to Cobol (yet never mentioning how to sort a list of words)

UPDATE: Regardless to how you feel about sectarianism, it shouldn't be controversial that low quality answers like I've described don't answer the question. Worse, this is on a site that discourages discussion for discussion's sake. We aren't asking a question so that we can learn to harmonize with people who disagree with the very premises of our question. On a Stack Exchange site we ask a question for a factual answer. If the question doesn't have an answer (or is a thinly veiled attempt to provoke the other sect), then it's a bad question.

  • Is there a specific example of this we can review?
    – Andriy Volkov Mod
    Commented Jun 28, 2014 at 2:40
  • Here is the link- buddhism.stackexchange.com/questions/1541/… Commented Jun 28, 2014 at 2:43
  • This is not meant to be sectarian or condemn this. I was encouraging you to practice meditation hence gainging self realisation in the process. The Buddha also used this technique as well as some contemporary meditation masters also. Commented Aug 7, 2014 at 13:33

6 Answers 6


What if it's you who giving strictly sectarian point of view (w/o qualifying that)? Not necessarily comment to refer some else point of view is more sectarian than yours. So I think small comment should be left intact, if it's informative of other point of view. If you are offended by supposedly sectarian comment, look, maybe people are offended by your actually sectarian statement. To avoid that it may be useful to clarify that your answer is sectarian and not general.

  • Agreed. I think if a poster only wants the response pertaining to a perticulaly tradition only, then should give an indication as to what tradition the question relates to. (E.g. What do Zen Buddhists think about...) Certain aspects having a significance in one tradition may have no relavence in another. So if someone responds this point of view then it might look inappropriate in the light of another tradition. Commented Jun 28, 2014 at 21:07

There is a subtle line between what the stance on certain questions taken by a certain tradition and school of thought and protest. So care must be taken by both moderates and community members that expressing an line of thought from another tradition is not interpreted as a protest or inappropriate.


This looks like a stronger form of what I was referring to here. So it'll be no surprise that I'm pretty much in agreement with @MatthewMartin on the subject.

If this were a software discussion, I'd propose that these kinds of answers are an anti-pattern (a la http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?CopyAndPasteProgramming). So perhaps we could give them a name and (gently) rebuke people offering them by referring, in a comment, to that. Something like "Please Answer With Information Not Personal Advice" (PAWINPA)

  • 1
    Yeah, one issue may be a subcase of the other. (How do I do prostrations? Well, let me give you some advice, don't do prostrations and instead do what I do, visualizations and a paleo diet) On the otherhand, many question are advice questions, (Can I get advice on how to count prostrations?) which seem legit, but still shouldn't be answered with "Well, that is just asian cultural baggage, you should just forget all about that superstitious prostration stuff --and do mindfulness like I do!" Commented Jul 3, 2014 at 2:51

Excellent topic. An answer to this question would, seriously, lead the planet into a non-sectarian religious view so, at the least, I would be amazed if we pulled it off. Still, worthwhile to start the effort. I personally see the various aspects of all religions as (analogy alert!), say, facets of diamond. The documentary film, "Spiritual Revolution", is a nice dialogue between meditators of many religions all of whom who realize that they are all essentially saying the same thing, just with different dialects, so to speak. We don't all have to speak the same language, but we do need to realize we are all saying the same thing. Having that spirit in this forum is no small thing.

I like the idea that has instituted Moderators. Flags for negative sectarian bias or inappropriate answers could be useful to weed out those sorts of trolls. Answers based on Personal Experience are not necessarily a bad thing, when context and tolerance are included. (A YMMV response is implied.) Still, there is a reason not everyone follows one teacher; we all have our own needs. Heck, even the Buddha couldn't get everyone living in his day liberated right then. Good discussion..er.. Q&A!

  • For some reason I initially read the word in the question as "secular" instead of sectarian! I was trying to imagine totally uninterested parties making comments. But, seriously, that could be the way to go... having a wider audience.
    – user2341
    Commented Dec 16, 2015 at 1:59

Do we want to leave open answers and comments that do nothing to answer the question...

We're currently quite liberal, actually: if an answer does something to answer the question then it's likely to be allowed (but if it's only a slight answer then it's unlikely to be up-voted).

...but instead are a sectarian attack on the beliefs implicit in the question?

Well if it's nothing but a sectarian attack there's a good excuse to delete it: you can flag it as 'not an answer' and a moderator should delete it.

(Apart from being deleted by the moderator after you flag it, answers can also be deleted by the community (using the review tools), if/after the answer has been downvoted to a negative score).

If it's an answer and a sectarian attack there are two options:

  • Edit it to remove the attack
  • Flag it is as inappropriate for moderator attention

If you want a sect-specific answer I suggest you also tag it as such: for example if the question ask about Pure Land and if it's tagged with the tag, then an answer which isn't from a Pure Land perspective is more obviously off-topic / not an answer / flagged and deleted.


I'd like to elaborate on a specific question: From the perspective of Theravada is SGI considered a cult? .

I'll leave aside what was my initial concern: that the literal question is putting a sect against another. To this end, I'll just re-interpret it as asking if "SGI is a cult".

I'm not sure what is the general feeling of the word "cult" in a different language than english and different countries. But, in english, I fail to see this word being put to use and do any better than scream for flame wars or blur even more a blurry topic (with the added feature called "strong emotions").

Yes, it's a foggy word with a foggy meaning. This alone is already something to personally judge the value of a question (and off we go with our up and down votes), but it's game. As far as lack of strong definitions go, we are only dealing with a foggy question whose possible answers may or may not be foggy as well, and we have instruments to work these out (comments, edits, etc).

But that's just not the case here. "cult" is not just a subjective term. And when put into context (that is, in light of how this word is socially perceived), the question comes as a simplistic ad hominem. What comes next is hardly a surprise to anyone. After all, at this point, we don't have a harmless foggy question that may or may not harvest much value. What we have is terrain for discord, for an endless debate trying to fit in the miniature spaces of comments. I meant the endless part: someone is bound to visit it years from now, and write rants against either side.

Just to make myself clear, I have no problems with making or welcoming unconfortable questions -- quite the contrary, actually. I'm all support for those types of questions here. I also don't have any specific alergies reacting to long discussions on a question or answer -- many might be quite interesting, even if S.E. discourages this kind of use.

I have two main points to bring to attention to justify this kind of question as inappropriate (in the "flag" sense, to be closed).

  1. The question is of divisive nature (as pointed out by @Robin111 in comments). I understand that's not good either from the buddhist perspective or S.E. perspective, very basic thing, respect...
  2. Because of (1), its actual and potential values are undermined. At the end, what have/can we learned about SGI in this thread (other than from the singular efforts of @ChrisW, at least...)?

If one is concerned about the feel of the community around this site one might as well add to the list of reasons (after all, Buddhism S.E. have been compared to Soviet Union once...).

Probably unnecessary to bring up but, naturally, if we abandon the re-interpretation above and bring back the fact that the question is asking for a sect to judge if the other sect is bananas, I believe there is a third reason to not accept such questions.

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