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It appears that many of the visitors to Buddhism.SE are either non-Buddhist, or fairly new to the religion. Understandable that people are curious, and want to ask about it. My opinion is for Buddhism.SE to be inviting to visitors, we have to be welcoming of questions of beginner nature, such as about God(s), heaven and hell, and so on.

However, there is also a benefit in having most questions high quality, not a minority to the "how does Buddhism work" type of questions. So this question got me thinking about if Buddhism.SE should be "strategically" seeded with entry level questions?

Somewhat in line with Questions with easy online answers, but as people don't search/find on Google, they could perhaps benefit from the same/similar answer here.

Should Buddhism.SE be seeded with entry level questions?

  • "questions of beginner nature" Even a moderator's question can have beginner nature! – Dan Hulme Jul 3 '14 at 19:39
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I see the arguments already given, but at the same time I can't help thinking, that even beginner's question can be answered and dealt with in an expert way. Of course, there is a slight (or not so slight) danger of getting pestered in the long run. But having on a site, along with expert knowledge spent on expert questions, also waterproof and good answers to beginners questions might also be a mark of quality.

There is so much crap out there in the net, especially, I guess, on religious topics, so very often the following quote holds true:

A person with a watch knows the time. A person with two watches is never quite sure.

So if there are good answers here on such questions, they will be found on google by people who are having basic insecurities about Buddhism. And seeing that this site is trustworthy, since it is full of expert knowledge, it just might reduce the number of watches.

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Personally, I find seeded questions irksome; it's generally easy to see that the asker isn't really looking for an answer, so there is no sense of accomplishment in answering. It feels more like a chore, like editing Wikipedia or something.

I don't think we need to have answers to every question about Buddhism; we need answers to expert questions that one can't find by simply googling. I think we should keep pointing out when questions are LMGTFY-worthy, and encourage only questions that are truly looking for expert answers.

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    Well put. Not sure that others see Buddhist.SE as the place to get answers to questions requiring expert answers, though, many appear to ask questions, wondering what it is (and how it compares to 'their' religion). Can we perhaps add some community wiki entries to describe the basics? – FullPeace.org Jul 3 '14 at 10:56
  • This is how I felt too. Some of the best-intended participants are too eager to fill this site with useful content :) – Andrei Volkov Jul 6 '14 at 17:11
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    The point of having a Stack Exchange site is to be a definitive source of well-formed questions and answers to a topic. Stack Overflow, the largest Stack Exchange site, doesn't judge questions by their difficulty. It judges them by how well-structured and helpful they are. I think this site should follow that spirit. If a question is "easy" but brings something new to this site then it should be welcomed. – InvalidBrainException Jul 8 '14 at 20:36
  • -1 according to your profile you sometimes need to ask questions about computers. What would you like better: Someone listening to you and trying to get a solution that fits your question or being pointed to google to try your own luck. – Dawnkeeper Jul 15 '14 at 20:13
  • @Dawnkeeper if I can google it, I won't ask it on SO. In the case of Buddhism, I think the point is that if it's already on Wikipedia, we don't need to answer it here. – yuttadhammo Jul 16 '14 at 1:22
  • Religious questions are not "info only" questions. These questions are "life direction" questions. Every question, if possible, is crucial to the asker. At least, direct them to those who may be better able to help them. This SE should not be about US but about helping OTHERS. Otherwise, it will become abandoned quite quickly. (I really don't expect expert answers here, just good ones. Until folk like HHDL, Lama Zopa Rinpoche, etc., answer questions here, we are just "throwing life preservers until the boat arrives", which we will do to the best of our ability. – PFS32 Jul 16 '14 at 18:20
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    I think this is all missing the point of my answer; LMGTFY means it is something you could find easily by searching the Internet; there's no "life direction" potential in such questions, they are not bad because they are "easy", there is no "luck" involved in typing the question into google, etc. The question talks about "seeding" the site with beginner questions, which I'm against. – yuttadhammo Jul 16 '14 at 23:13
  • LMGTFY is so impersonal. When you want answers to something your going to mold your life around is something I would want an expert for, an google is not a expert it searches for words that are similar to your question, an that leads to anything. An being misinformed is worse then being denied an answer. One must ponder. How many times did Siddhartha get asked the same question? He had to teach beginning concepts to each new person he came across. If you dont make a strong foundation then your building will falter. Beginners will become Experts an more experts the better the collective wisdom. – Oswulf Oct 12 '14 at 22:02
  • If you only had to simply google for the answer then this site would really be unnecessary. Why come here if google is greater then experts? I seek out a expert because they are trust worthy an have experience an knowledge that a beginner does not. Google cannot relate to the human experience an some people dont even know how to ask the right questions only a experienced teacher knows what the seeker is looking for. They know what to say an how to help the disciple or pupil. A beginner will not know the vital wisdom needed or how to even go about searching for it. With all respect to all here. – Oswulf Oct 12 '14 at 22:08
  • I agree with not seeding the site with artificial questions, and of course I agree with experts answering expert/difficult questions. Also some people want to allow beginner questions as well, and some people (perhaps less expert) seem willing to try to answer those, so perhaps let's allow them too. – ChrisW Apr 25 '15 at 2:35
  • So when one seeks for refuge in the Gems, say Sangha, related, Bhante send him/her off to Brahma google and increase debts in the world... thats poor, given a beggar, approaching for food, could work for it, says such... – Samana Johann Jul 23 at 9:28
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Simply put, the best way for a SE site to answer questions from beginners is for beginners to ask them. However, SE sites make for great Q&A sites, not for great reference sites.

Shog9 said when Hinduism.SE's private beta was extended:

Original content; more than just a Hinduism primer

There are a lot of questions here that are... Pretty basic. "Could be answered by a Wikipedia entry" basic. Questions that require no expertise aren't a particularly good way to attract experts. You gotta expect a few of these, but when every other question can be answered by a Google search...

...And worse yet, an awful lot of them are answered that way: by quoting external sources. A site that just regurgitates things that others have written isn't much good; answers like that just clog up search results without adding anything. It's important to cite your sources, but just as important to demonstrate knowledge of both the question being answered and the topic itself - this is where we can actually make the Internet a better place, demonstrating how to use this knowledge to answer specific questions. Answers that are primarily copied from Wikipedia or other forums / blogs - even when properly attributed - are just speed-bumps, annoyances to folks searching for good information.

I'd really like to see more questions that require some serious research and experience to answer... I know some of you have been studying these topics for years, and are well past the beginner stages of your education - what sort of problems do you encounter?

I do not mind beginners asking beginner questions. I do not mind experienced people asking beginner questions because they have a gap in their training or education.

Those are earnest questions that embody what a SE site does well. In the meantime, we want to attract experts–experts asking expert questions is one of the big things that predicts the success of a SE site, in part because success is defined that way–so it is best to focus on questions you are or have struggled with or you see someone struggling with (though asking them to come ask the question themselves is best).

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