We've put together some useful information for getting started below.
Welcome to Buddhism.SE!
We're glad you are here. Please take the time to read this post through. Whether you're here seeking answers to questions on Buddhism or to share your knowledge by answering others' questions, just a few minutes spent reading the information below can help make your stay beneficial to all.
Buddhism.SE is different from discussion forums
Instead of long discussions about specific topics, we're all about answering your question in a direct manner. When someone asks a question here, the idea is that they are looking for a "best answer". So speculative questions like "What would happen if..." or survey questions like "Does anyone else experience [X] during meditation?" are not well suited to this site.
Buddhism.SE is different from other SE sites too
Asking a question
Good questions are not overly broad nor overly opinion-seeking and should (of course) be on topic! Once your question is posted, you may receive comments asking for more information or suggesting ways in which your question could be improved.
Make the question clear
We really suggest your post should have an interrogation (a question mark), preferably with the title also being phrased as an interrogation and a summary of the question. Questions that lack an explicit inquiry might be put on hold as it can be hard to know what the author is asking -- e.g. if the question is just a complaint or praise about Buddhism, or just a set of opinions.
You might find someone does some minor editing of your question for you. This is just the community's way to help your question fit the usual format, giving it the best chance to stay open and get answers that are useful to you. It is also a way of making sure that it is useful to anyone else who may come to this site looking for the same information. If ever your work is edited in such a way that has substantially changed your meaning, there is a rollback feature that you can use to undo the edit.
To quote from this post, What is the etiquette for modifying posts?,
"You edit to make things better, clearer, more effective -- never to change meaning."
See also what the Help says about editing: Why can people edit my posts? How does editing work?.
This site tries to welcome most questions about Buddhism, but there are a few types of question which are may be closed -- for details please see the Moderation policies for Questions.
If a question is put "On Hold" or "Closed"
If a question needs substantial improvements, it's generally put "On Hold" for up to seven days to give the original poster a chance to make changes. If seven days go by and there is no improvement to the question, it's automatically converted to "Closed". However even a closed question can be edited for clarity and submitted to be reopened. This can be done by the original poster or even by a member of the community provided they don't change the question's meaning.
If a question is a duplicate
Sometimes, you might post a question that has been asked before. It's normal for other users to comment on it pointing out that it may be a duplicate of a previous question along with a link to it. If your question is identified as a duplicate, don't be alarmed: you haven't broken any etiquette. We expect that it is normal for duplicate posts to appear and long time users might find themselves posting duplicate questions as well.
Naturally, we think it's important that you get good answers for your questions, but we also care about making it easy for people to search for answers to old questions. Showing duplicates on search results can be unhelpful as the answers get scattered across the duplicates.
To counter this, if your question is marked as duplicate, the community may close it once it's agreed (usually, through discussions in the comments) that, indeed, it is a duplicate and unfruitful to have it in two different places. By doing so, not only we can help you by pointing you to answers to your inquiry (in the pre-existing question), but we also help future users to better find the information they are looking for (by keeping the site clean from unnecessary duplicates).
This site is open for anyone to post their answers, and the quality of answers will vary.
- Different people have different ideas
- There's more than one school or tradition of Buddhism
- There might be several ways to understand the question
I usually find it helpful to read several answers to my questions -- to see it from more than one side.
Sometimes users may disagree with someone else's answer. Moderators will usually not delete an answer just because they think it's wrong, or imperfect! Instead the moderators try to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to answer, without their views being "attacked" by other users.
So it is your job -- the reader's -- to read each answer and to "see for yourself" which answers appear to be true and useful.
It might be worth mentioning The Four Great References as a way to assess what people say. The more you learn, practice, and study, the better you'll be able to see how good each answer is (or isn't).
Posting an answer
Once you've spotted a question you feel confident answering, go for it! The most useful answers provide depth and detail and references to check for further information when possible. Generally, one line answers aren't very useful and tend to be automatically flagged as Low Quality, although there are exceptions to this. Most important is that your answer actually does answer the question; better is if it does so in a thorough, professional manner backed by reliable sources and citations.
Voting & Choosing an Accepted Answer
An important aspect of the site is voting. Voting up an answer that's useful to you or a question that's well asked is far better than leaving a "thank you" comment. In fact "thank you" comments are discouraged on this site as they take up room and don't add much of value. Your up vote is your thank you! You can also vote down questions and answers you find not useful or incorrect. When you receive a great answer that clears everything up for you, be sure to select it as your "Accepted" answer.
If you have additional questions on how the site works, here is a Tour link and here is a Help Center link The Help Center also lists Useful Resources For questions or concerns pertaining specifically to Buddhism.SE, please feel free to start a new thread here on Meta to get some help.
Thanks for joining us. :)