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We received a question with 8 subjective sub-questions included. It reads more like an interview than a standard SE question. But perhaps some people would like to write answers about their experience and perceptions of Buddhism.

A suggestion was made to turn these type of questions (I believe meaning questions that don't really have a best answer but which someone might like to answer anyway.) into community wiki rather than close them.

We've said in several threads that due to a relative shortage of questions submitted, we'll try to keep virtually everything open.

What seems best for interview style questions? Keep open as a regular question? As a community wiki? Close? Something else? Thanks for any feedback. :)

  • I was happily surprised to see it turned into a community wiki. – Thiago Aug 13 '15 at 16:07
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I'm a fan of one (or a few tightly coupled) points per question. If it were up to me I would politely asked the OP to focus the question to one or two key points and possibly ask the other points in different questions. If there is no response I would ask again and failing that I would want to close these shopping list questions. I personally would just comment that i think it should be closed and hope others would vote - as the mods have a single vote to close which would be too heavy handed.

As an aside I rather think that these questions seems like . I think that puts another slant on as it doesn't seem the right thing to do just to do other people's homework for them - although I do want to help. I guess that's another topic really.

All just my opinion of course.

  • So there is such a thing as "too broad" after all: e.g. when an OP asks several not-closely-related questions? – ChrisW Aug 9 '15 at 21:46
  • So you thought this question's main problem was being too broad or too defocused (rather too opinion-based or too interview-style)? – ChrisW Aug 9 '15 at 21:49
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I chose to cast a close-vote on the question for 3 reasons.

  1. The questions are very broad and some are non-specific. Such as the first one: "Do you believe that Buddhism has shaped society today. If so how?".

Which society are we talking about here? Shaped society in what way? There are much background information left out making this question almost impossible to give an "best-answer" to.

  1. The framing of the question(s) looked like a do-my-homework-for-me type of question. The author didn't give much information as to why he asked the questions just that he had been researching about Buddhism. I think that if one asks that many broad and opinion-based questions one needs an extra solid background to why the questions are being asked.

  2. Several of the questions are primarily opinion-based, e.g. How has Buddhism influenced your life?, Do you believe that a pursuit of peace is necessary in today's society?, Do you believe that all people should follow a life of peace?.

I too would like to help out and it's not really important for me if the question is for homework or not but posting a bunch of questions that look like an asignment a teacher has given a student is not right and one cannot expect people to answer all of them. This best-answer format cannot handle such requests. At least that is my own opinion.

ChrisW was so kind to take his time and effort to give a solid answer to the question. That is why i think we should somehow keep it so that the information will still be available. Maybe we could do what Ven. Yuttadhammo proposed and make such interview-style questions into community wiki posts. Or maybe we could break the questions up into single questions with a bit of editing so that their opinion-based nature is removed and more background information is added.

If any help is needed let me know and i'm here.

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It reads more like an interview than a standard SE question. But perhaps some people would like to write answers about their experience and perceptions of Buddhism.

The fact that the question was full of "you" makes it sound like an interview-style question. Here is a copy of the original questions:

  • Do you believe that Buddhism has shaped society today. If so how?
  • How has Buddhism influenced your life?
  • Where in Buddhism does it say that you have to live your life in peace?
  • Do you believe that a pursuit of peace is necessary in today's society?
  • As a Buddhist, how does a pursuit of peace begin? (How do you pursue it, what does a "pursuit" of peace entail and when does your pursuit end?)
  • Do you believe that all people should follow a life of peace?
  • As a Buddhist, do you think that Buddhism has the idea of changing the world?
  • If Buddhism values finding peace within yourself, how is each person finding peace among themselves going to help change the world? Thank you.

These could easily be edited to ask the same question but without sounding so like an interview:

  • Has Buddhism shaped society today (and if so how)?
  • How has Buddhism influenced your life?
  • Where in Buddhism does it say that you have to live your life in peace?
  • Is it Buddhist doctrine that a pursuit of peace is necessary, in today's society?
  • How do Buddhists begin to pursue of peace, what does a "pursuit" of peace entail, and when does the pursuit end?
  • Is it Buddhist doctrine that all people should follow a life of peace?
  • Does Buddhism have the idea of changing the world?
  • If Buddhism values finding peace within yourself, how is each person finding peace among themselves going to help change the world? Thank you.

I wanted to answer, because I thought they were questions about Buddhism (not questions about me).

They seemed like they might have been homework questions, however that (learning) seems to me quite a good thing and an opportunity to suggest interesting or authentic information about Buddhism, to people who might be interested in learning more about it.

Assuming they were homework I guessed I couldn't ask the OP to explain or clarify the question (perhaps I should have done that: "why are you asking and what you do you mean by "peace", and when you say "society" is that referring to any specific country?", and voted to put the question on hold as "unclear" until the OP answered).

Some of the questions were (too) vague or too broad, e.g. "Has Buddhism shaped society today?", but we already have a meta-policy to try to answer those questions anyway.

There was one of the questions I refused to answer (i.e. "How has Buddhism influenced your life?") but I thought I could at least begin to answer others. There's more than one way to answer many of the questions (e.g. depending on how you define "society" and "peace"), however I thought that answering each question somehow was better (more helpful) than not answering at all; and although my answers were very short I included hyperlinks so that the OP could research further the concepts or terminology I mentioned.

A suggestion was made to turn these type of questions (I believe meaning questions that don't really have a best answer but which someone might like to answer anyway.) into community wiki

CW should be used sparingly if at all: its purpose isn't to excuse bad questions; its purpose (in my opinion) is to enable the collaborative creation and editing of a useful resource with a specific theme.

I think the following are examples of bad questions which shouldn't be CW (shouldn't be asked at all).

  • Too personal

    • How has Buddhism changed your life?
    • Which country do you live in?
    • Have you ever met someone who dislikes Buddhism?

    IMO they shouldn't be CW because I don't foresee answers being a useful collection of data. I doubt whether answers would be interesting to future readers.

  • Too broad – I also don't like the following (because they're too broad):

    • What books about Buddhism have you read?
    • What books about Buddhism have been published?
    • What films depicting any aspect of Buddhist culture or society have been released?

    I suspect that Google (or sites like Amazon or IMDB) might do a better job of answering this type of question.

  • Better – the following could IMO be examples of potentially useful CW resources:

    • What 50 or 100 words (e.g. dukkha) represent the most important concepts?
    • What is your most favourite book, what do you think is the best book, about (some subject, e.g. meditation)?
    • Please name all the various styles or types of Buddhist meditation practice, with a one- or two-paragraph description or summary of each one.
    • Please suggest various Buddhist-themed activities for pre-school children.

The "interview-style questions about peace" would not make a good CW subject in my opinion (partly because it's not one subject).

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I thought Chris did a good job of answering the subjective questions objectively. But not everyone would be so careful. Asking for opinions can be asking for trouble as there is no requirement that an opinion be based on fact. So we could end up with opinion pieces which would be of limited value to anyone, especially if they actually were being asked for homework or research assignments.

I know we committed to trying to answer as many questions as possible, both to be helpful and because we sometimes have too few questions. But I think something that purely asks for opinions should maybe be outside of the category of things we consider.

I've always been reminded than when you set a precedent by doing something for one, you should be ready to continue to do that same thing for others. And it would be potentially easy for others to just start asking what everyone believed about this or that to generate activity. I don't think that is the direction we intended to go in.

I think closing the question was the right thing to do. If the OP is interested in understanding how the site works and how his questions will better fit the format, we've provided good guides and our community tends to be helpful in those matters. :)

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