5

As things are going there is no balanced participation by all traditions within Theravada. Can we start a campaign to attract more balanced participation from as many traditions as possible.

Also some traditions may not be very popular in the west. In this case we have to look at accommodating English related issues by extending support.

Theravada

Well represented are:

  • Mahasi - Ven. Yuttadhammo et. al.

Needs improvement:

  • Goenka - I am largely influenced but not 100% and sometimes mixed views so I cannot hold myself as representing this view purely. But needs more participation. Especially by people who adhere more rigorously to this tradition and have more in depth knowledge.
  • Ven. Mun branch of Thai Forest traditions - Samadi, but still need more representation by the different branches of the Thai Forest tradition.
  • Pa Auk - nobody here with a depth knowledge of this practice.
  • Mogok Sawadaw - one of the few Buddhist masters who emphasised the DO. Nobody here has an in-depth knowledge of this tradition.
  • Western Buddhist Order - Crab Bucket, see some new participants coming in.
  • Secular Buddhists - ???

Mahayana

Vajrayana

Other / Secular Buddhists / Mixed

Also we have to see how to encourage participation from others schools like lineages within the Mahayana community. Perhaps some one can also share this information.

Also the bias in participation and representation has a snow balling effect. It is difficult to get participants come in from different lineages as much of the content does not cater for them.

NB: this is by no means a proposal to reduce participation from one particular lineage, but instead a means to increase participation from all schools, traditions and lineages.

  • 2
    Ironically though the Theravada tag is our second most popular. I was concerned that other schools outside of this are very under represented such as chinese buddhism, pure land etc.. I don't have the depth of experience to sub divide Theravada itself so I'm going to take your word for it that within Theravada there are aspects of it that are under represented. I agree with you that our participation is skewed. Is this just a result of our small user base? It's an interesting question worth discussing – Crab Bucket May 26 '15 at 18:11
  • There are lineages within schools. All above are Theravada lineages. But within lineages there are vast doctrinal differences. Some to the extent they can be considers different Schools altogether through all have the Theravade Tripitaka / Commentaries (some lineages to not accept all view in commentaries) as the basis. Also interpretations of critical words can be very diverse also. – Suminda Sirinath S. Dharmasena May 26 '15 at 18:19
  • 1
    I am not an expert in Mahayana so perhaps someone can add major lineages / sub schools to the above please. – Suminda Sirinath S. Dharmasena May 26 '15 at 18:20
  • 1
    Maybe there are at least three questions here, i.e.: "Do we want balanced participation?", "Do we know how to get a more balanced participation?", and "Can we extend support to accommodate English related issues?" I guess my answers to the first two of those questions would be "Yes, because participation is good" however "No, I don't know how to start a campaign". Re the third, I'm sorry but I don't yet understand what you're suggesting, in practice, when you say "extend support to accommodate"? What kind of support can you suggest we extend and how should we go about extending it? – ChrisW May 26 '15 at 20:19
  • In the latter if we get some one who's English is not that good try helping them out. Especially if they represent a tradition not already represented. – Suminda Sirinath S. Dharmasena May 26 '15 at 21:18
  • 1
    Having more participation would be great. Maybe simple things like welcoming people to the site; being helpful to them, and voting up useful posts (we tend to be very miserly with our voting overall) would encourage newcomers to stick around and contribute more. And with more participation overall you're likely to get the variety of viewpoints from different traditions you're looking for. – Robin111 May 27 '15 at 10:08
  • 2
    There is also this feature, "Know someone who can answer? Share a link to this question via email, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook" which could be very useful if you know a particular expert for a particular question (i.e. email it to them). – Robin111 May 27 '15 at 10:11
  • @Robin111 +1 for the 1st comment. 2nd comment - it is hard when there is no much content from the particular stand point. – Suminda Sirinath S. Dharmasena May 27 '15 at 17:22
  • Just a suggestion to think of people you know and if there is someone who is knowledgeable in an under represented tradition, maybe invite them to participate. If they are not interested in participating on a regular basis, perhaps they'd be willing to answer a particular question that was directed to them by email from time to time. Just a thought. :) – Robin111 May 27 '15 at 19:12
  • But if you are saying that the problem is that we have no questions from tradition X, well, trying to artificially balance something is probably not very realistic. – Robin111 May 27 '15 at 19:21
  • I mean not creating Question. Some one or set off users dedicated at answering any questions. For this to happen we have to see how to attract new users. Creating artificial question I believe is seeding? – Suminda Sirinath S. Dharmasena May 28 '15 at 2:05
  • In recent weeks I've been posting our Welcome whenever I spot a brand new user. There are usually between 1 - 3 brand new users each day which seems good (30-90 per month?). We have two choices for under represented traditions though. Patience or a directed campaign. But we seem short of solid ideas on how to direct a campaign to invite users from particular under represented traditions. So maybe patience? :) – Robin111 May 28 '15 at 12:11
  • The other thing that occurred to me is that perhaps in certain traditions, such as where a direct teacher to student transmission takes place, perhaps there is simple less interest in asking questions or offering answers about Buddhism. That is what I meant about trying to "artificially" balance the representation of different traditions on the site possibly being unrealistic. Time will tell though. – Robin111 May 28 '15 at 12:16
3

Welcome versus not welcome

We must make it clear, if it's not clear, that multiple traditions are welcome.

Any complaint, that someone else comes from a specific or a different tradition, is therefore harmful.

Thank you, to everyone who already helps to answer questions on this site.


Can control versus cannot control

There are things we can control, and things we cannot control.

  • We cannot make other people visit the site, nor make them stay to answer questions
  • We can try to make the site as good as possible, so that people might want to come and read it, come and ask questions of their own, come and help to answer questions.

Good answers from multiple traditions versus balanced participation

Having "multiple traditions" is good; and I am glad the site has several various people from different traditions already. Asking that participation be strictly balanced probably isn't possible though, I guess.

What we can do, maybe, is think about how to present the best answers that we're able to. Maybe we should start another topic on meta about the quality of answers: what are the attributes of a good answer, what are attributes of a bad answer, how to react to good and bad answers, how to make any bad answers better, etc.

I hope that if the site contains nothing but good answers, if its community can produce only helpful answers, then this will be a very helpful site (it will help a lot of people) and a popular site (a lot of people will want to use it), including people from all traditions.

We already have some variety (if not balance) of tradition. For example I think we have already had some very good answers (haven't we?) to some Mahayana and Vajrayana questions.

Anyway, that's the only suggestion I have, for attracting new users: make everyone welcome, insist that no tradition is unwelcome, and see whether we can improve the site by improving the quality of answers.


Find where the questioner's arrow is and try to help them with it

If you don't mind me misquoting the Parable of the Arrow: if you do have an arrow stuck in you and need help taking it out, if you will ask on this site then you must not be too choosy about where another person trained, about who trained him, what caste he was, what village he was born in, etc.

Of course if a question does get an answer then it's reasonable to ask about the answer's provenance, if you want to: e.g. "Thank you for your answer, which tradition or reference is that from?"

If you are answering a question then the skill is to adapt, select, and include what you know, and learn more, to match the question: to personalize or customize the answer to match the OP's question.


You asked, "Can we start a campaign to attract?"

Actually, apart from each of us thinking of how to improve our own answers, I can think of a few more ways in which the site might be improved:

  • More 'community' involvement (more discussions on meta, people getting to know each other and to work together)
  • Clearer policies (if the community defines guidelines about what's good and bad content, people can learn from those guidelines, and the guidelines help to improve the content)
  • Slightly more moderation (i.e. moderators doing a bit more cleanup, users posting comments to each other, to ask for minor improvements or clarifications to any bits of an answer that aren't clear)
  • Slightly more structure (for example Crab Bucket is working now, to retag all the questions about meditation; having well-understood and consistent tags is a way to help unify the content of the site; it's also eventually possible for the 'community' (i.e. you) to develop policies for how to handle specific types of tag; for example some guidelines about "what's a good answer?" might vary or be specific depending on the type of tag: one obvious example is that any answer, at least, should include a reference!
  • 2
    Just to echo Chris. I think for most of us we are limited in our internet or real world presence i.e. we probably can't drive significant amount of users to the site - or we feel a bit embarrassed about doing it and probably don't want to put ourselves out there. But we can and should focus on the quality of the site where we do have direct control and focus on welcoming and guiding users that do land on our pages. I actually think we are a welcoming community so I think we are doing good stuff here. – Crab Bucket May 30 '15 at 11:50
  • Also thinking about ways to improve quality on the site will keep people here and ultimately drive people here or at least keep them here. Maybe individuals can do small things - I am (probably) going to write an article for my local Buddhist group newsletter at some point but that is just going to end up with more western Triratna people here so wouldn't really broaden things – Crab Bucket May 30 '15 at 11:54
  • Are there adds or other visible signs of Buddhism SE on other SE-sites e.g. Hinduism etc.? – Lanka May 30 '15 at 20:58
  • @Lanka Other sites can choose their own advertisements, see e.g. Community Promotion Ads on Physics.SE, but only when that site has graduated. Theoretically the community of a graduated site could choose to advertise Buddhism.SE on their own site, but I don't see why they should. A way in which Buddhism.SE is advertised on other sites is that some popular topics semi-randomly appear on the Hot Network Questions list, displayed at the bottom of the right-side column on each page of every site. – ChrisW May 30 '15 at 21:05
  • As I write this, the topic From a Buddhist point of view, what are the benefits of supernormal powers? is currently on that list. That question was asked 9 hours ago and has has 220 views. The previous questions asked 14, 15, 16 hours ago have had 60, 75, 16 views. – ChrisW May 30 '15 at 21:08
  • Because 220 views is higher than 60 views I'm guessing that the fact that it's on the "Hot Network Questions" list is the reason why that question has had 150 more views than the earlier questions: i.e. 150 people on other SE sites saw it listed, and came to read it. – ChrisW May 30 '15 at 21:15
  • @Chris. Okay i see. I thought actually there were adds for sites that were in the same "branch" so to speak. I think we should wait and see what happens in time. I think there is being done a lot of good work at the moment and i dont see how we can improve more to draw in new users. How long till we are out of Beta and could the Beta-state be one of the reasons for not attracting more people with various traditions? – Lanka May 30 '15 at 21:16
  • Ah ok. I see. I was wondering about why the voting is so low in comparison to all those views. I have seen this a lot recently. Posts with 100+ views but only 2-3 votes. – Lanka May 30 '15 at 21:18
  • @Lanka Looking at the beta statistics the site is doing well in many ways. The statistics would prefer more questions per day. If there were more questions/day I don't know whether the site would answer them all well? I can't predict how much more calendar time until the site graduates; different sites take different amounts of time. A benefit of coming out of beta would be a better site design / colour layout. I don't know whether/why the "Beta-state" might not-attract people. – ChrisW May 30 '15 at 21:24
  • I didnt know about those beta statistics, thanks. I see now about the need for more questions. Only 3,1 question pr. day and the recommended is 10. We could definitely do better on that one. Sometimes it just feels like most questions has been asked in some way or the other. I think Crab Bucket is good at asking "new" questions. – Lanka May 30 '15 at 21:32
  • Let us continue this discussion in chat. – ChrisW May 30 '15 at 21:38
2

In the interest of being welcoming of all traditions, I think zen style responses may need a bit of consideration. Early on it was pretty much agreed that short, mysterious koan style responses might not represent expert answers or at least might not be helpful to the general audience. Discussed here

But if we delete out zen style responses (as below) we're not really welcoming a particular style of Buddhism. So I'm wondering if this is something to revisit now that the site has had time to mature and we find ourselves somewhat imbalanced with regard to traditions. (Crab Bucket, I'm not trying to be critical of deleting the answer. I think it's just something to consider in light of this issue we are discussing here in this thread.)

Is it wrong to buy a Buddha statue in Thailand from a Buddhist point of view?

"Yes it's wrong. Throw away your statues and burn your dharma books."

shareeditflag deleted by Crab Bucket♦ 33 mins ago answered 1 hour ago

todji 1 Sorry this doesn't look like a serious answer so I'm deleting – Crab Bucket♦ 33 mins ago

  • Ah was that a zen type comment - i didn't realise. I'll undelete and open for discussion – Crab Bucket May 30 '15 at 21:09
  • I believe it to be, yes. Thanks @Crab Bucket! – Robin111 May 30 '15 at 21:13
  • 2
    I've posted a question on meta about this specific question and these style of answers generally meta.buddhism.stackexchange.com/q/1561/157 so we can discuss again. Thanks for pointing this out! – Crab Bucket May 30 '15 at 21:17

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .