Are users allowed to criticize other schools of Buddhism, and/or other views? When they do, are there rules or guidelines? What does it take to make 'right speech': what's OK and what's not OK?
In this answer, Robin111 said she was uncomfortable with some (unspecified) criticisms:
This is an important issue. Lack of any timely moderator action back in January, when I was struggling with a particular highly opinionated user who was leaving comments criticizing certain schools of Buddhism around the site, was troubling enough to me that I pulled way back on participating in the site at all. I believe some of the comments I flagged were eventually removed; but it was clear that, at that time, no one was actively moderating on a regular basis and the site was beginning to feel like the "wild west" where anything goes.
I flagged one of the comments to this answer as "rude or offensive": and my flag was declined (by a moderator) i.e. the comment allowed to stay. Perhaps I have a lower tolerance for conflict. As things turned out, I think that Methexis replied to the comments well; and the net result, of allowing the comment to remain and be replied to, was that his description of Shin Buddhism was even clearer than before.
In this answer, MatthewMartin said "no one is helped by being reminded that one branch of Buddhism disagrees with the very premise of your question" and that therefore a specialist forum might be preferable to a "general Buddhist forum" like this one:
After you pick a form of Buddhism you like, (or not), you'd want to pick a specialist forum (e.g. specifically Zen or Dzochen or what have you). I often felt like I got into unproductive discussions on general Buddhist forums because they were giving an answer from, say a Vajrayana viewpoint, when I was looking for an answer from the Chinese or Secular viewpoint. Learning about all the branches is great, but no one is helped by being reminded that one branch of Buddhism thinks the very premise of your question is, oh I don't know, either superstition or contemptible scientism.
- Argument or hostility might be perceived as unpleasant and drive away other users
- But, discussions may be helpful (i.e. help to clarify a view or an explanation)
Currently, people's expectations/tolerance presumably varies, from person to person; and maybe even from country to country (for example, the USA has a unusually robust "free speech" ethos).
Are there specific 'lines' or rules that the phrasing of a discussion mustn't cross? When should a moderator delete a critical comment, for example? Is it even possible to have defined 'rules', or must it be subjective/arbitrary (decided by the moderator's discretion on a case-by-case basis)? Are people allowed to express strong opposition to a view or practice which they disagree with?