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In this question:

Is Jhana Required For Awakening?

the asker specifically states that they know it is a controversial topic (an understatement in this instance!). I assume we're going to get many such questions for the various traditions. I'm pretty sure we don't want to hash out controversies on this site; see the first answer to the above question for an example of an argument from one side - I could easily post an answer from the other side that would attempt to refute this answer.

What should our policy be on this sort of question? What if the asker doesn't realize how controversial the question is? I assume questions like this one:

Why are Jhanas controversial?

are less problematic; should we allow the controversial questions or advise that they be changed to those, like this second one, that ask for an outline of the controversy?

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Valid concern. An example I found disturbing is (Is Buddhism a religion or a philosophy?). I like your idea of transforming questions of controversy into questions about controversy.

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To ban question on question & answer site (because it have more than one answer) is a bit weird solution, which I also disagree, because there is many ways around of it.

Instead of changing question to be about controversy it is also possible to just outline controversy in the answer.

Or, answer could state that it presents just one point of view. Or, it maybe be enough if a commentary to such answer could state that it's just one point of view, without beginning dispute about it. One commentary to state that there exists another point of view is not yet dispute and should be allowed.

What is actually bad in 'controversy' is disrespect to other tradition. It is not "controversial" when answers present some "non-controversial" subject from different points of view (w/o even acknowledge of existence of other points of view). It's only become offensive when there is 'only this is true' attitude (idealism) and derogation of other views (cynicism). So I believe what is actually need to be changed is just removal of disrespectful statements. Only disrespect need to be removed, and not different views.

Like someone say, "mahayana developed pseudo-sutras" - there "pseudo" is disrespectful and biased.

Or, "abuse by generations of abhidharmists" - it may have take-it-easy attitude and be funny to the author, but this is disrespect to the abhidharmic tradition.

It's may be normal in dispute if opponents pinch each other a bit, but in answer, which is not supposed to start a debate, such pinching is not needed.

So, in summary, instead of deleting questions, or asking to rephrase, or to make obligatory survey in the answer, I propose to delete derogatory statements only and allow single commentary to state existence of other point of view, and leave everything else as it is.

  • I agree! Different viewpoints should be able to exist side by side, without being disrepectful to each other. Also long arguments between different views should be stopped. – THelper Jul 11 '14 at 8:20
  • Constructive arguments should be allowed. – Suminda Sirinath S. Dharmasena Aug 11 '14 at 7:43
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I'm not sure, this isn't a situation I've seen often on Stackoverflow or the StackExchange sites I visit.

However, on the Buddhist sites I visit, I've seen:

  • A complete ban on talking about Dorje Shugden (because the Dalai Lama and NKT are fighting about it)

  • All the vegetarian questions get herded into a single thread. This sort of applies to stack exchange, although I'd hate to see technical questions, like "how do Chinese Buddhists fast" closed because it's about vegetarianism and there is already a vegetarian question (where we are seeing all the same arguements pro and con regurgitated from probably the same epic battles on other forums)

  • Ditto for SGI Criticism-- these get herded into a single thread. I'm not even sure if a naively worded SGI question like, "Isn't SGI a cult? (or Isn't NKT a cult?" probably should be closed for question quality reasons. I suppose if they were worded like, "What sociologists have classified SGI or NKT as a cult?" That would have an answer, while the former is just an invitation to Buddha-fight-club.

What might be a better thing to do is to kill comment threads when they turn into massive forum-like discussions.

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