4

I have chosen to leave the site as well.

This is no longer the Buddhism SE, that I used to care about and engage in.

I use to think that our SE was not as brutal as the other SE's. We had kindness, ethics and a high degree of respect among users. In the last 3 months this has begun falling away. There have been too much negativity and conflict.

When answering questions, my approach has always been founded in the practical/insight-meditational aspect of Buddhism and not in the scholarly/intellectual aspect. That approach does not seem valid anymore on Buddhism SE.

I think the site is changing from a Q&A Format into a Debate Format, where personal opinions and ideas, matter more than the actual teachings and the insight meditational part.

For me, that is not the direction i would like Buddhism SE to go in, and that is mainly why i'm leaving the site. I'm not saying this is a wrong direction, it's just not the direction that i prefer.

I will still do some moderation for a while, but not answer or ask questions.

Thank you for this time and may you all be well and happy.


EDIT:

After having done a 10-day retreat, I have changed my mind. I will not be leaving this site. It is a great way to spread the Dhamma. When one is bitten by the Dhamma, then one can only share it, so that other beings might also benefit from it.

The best way to share my knowledge and experience is to remain an active user on Buddhism SE. Also i missed the people here. I experienced some great support from the users on this site. I believe its important to contribute to that, so that the community can grow and more people can benefit from Buddhism SE.

May you all be well and happy.

  • 1
    Whatever you choose to do, I wish you the best on your path :) – Ryan Sep 11 '15 at 1:12
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    Thank you and welcome back. – ChrisW Oct 29 '15 at 14:30
  • Do you guys need help migrating the debates to the chat? – Lowbrow Dec 23 '16 at 4:49
5

This isn't good. I think we are simultaneously experiencing an upsurge in activity and a collapse. I don't want a debate format either. I think we really need a discussion about what the site could and should be. Over the last few weeks things have become harsher which isn't good either.

I'm pleased Buddhism SE is growing but his shouldn't be at the expense of established users wanting to leave. Good luck of course Lanka - I would personally like you to reconsider and help us get the site back on the right track but and the end of the day it's something we all do in addition to our other responsibilities so we should only contribute if we find it a positive experience. If we (you) don't then absolutely you need to stop. I am really sorry about that though.

I think the site is going off the rails a bit. :-(. I don't know what others think

  • 3
    I did not notice it was "going off the rails" now significantly more than ever. With appearance of certain individuals I can foresee the type of problems they will bring, so I expected something like this lately. But I don't think this is a reason for alarm. Nor should we solve the problem by alienating such individuals. I think the answer is to keep going in the same spirit we had, and give the newcomers a little more time to assimilate. – Andrei Volkov Sep 10 '15 at 12:14
  • 2
    Perhaps we need to be a little more explicit in demonstrating the purpose of the site in our own questions and answers, and ignore the questions and answers we don't like, instead of "feeding the mara" in comments, which I too am guilty of. – Andrei Volkov Sep 10 '15 at 12:15
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    @AndreiVolkov i think part of the solution might be tightening up our permissive question policy. We have more question volume now so maybe we can shut down the more opinion based questions? But maybe I'm overreacting generally – Crab Bucket Sep 10 '15 at 12:17
5

The tone of Buddhism.SE has definitely changed over the last few weeks or months.

There's been a few debates every week that I've been dragged into of late, but I've decided the best approach is to not participate.

I can understand the desire of some of us to want to debate ideas, but I can't see myself encouraging it for a few reasons.

  • Firstly and mainly it is because this website both in its charter and in its software just isn't set up to engage in fruitful debate. Given the software limitations especially, it's a waste of time and effort to try and do so.

  • Secondly, debates quickly devolve into point scoring, spiritual materialism, argument from authority and all of that dung beetle nonsense the Buddha warns about.

  • Finally, I am not constitutionally set up to debate. I used to enjoy a good verbal joust a few years ago, and would advance clever arguments and the like, but coincidental to my embarking on the spiritual journey was a dropping of desire to win or even engage in arguments. I know the Tibetans love a good argument, but perhaps that's not for me.

Since @Lanka told me about his plans I've also started to wonder.

  • Your thoughts here on debate, specifically related to Buddhist teachings and the uselessness (or usefulness) of it, echoes a thought which I have often has in my mind. The reference given by you on the Dung Beetle Nonsense has made it even more necessary for me to arrive at some conclusion on the thought. I wish to elaborate on my dilemna in the form of a question on Buddhism SE. I will be really glad if you can give a detailed answer with the reference you have quoted here for the benefit of those who have not read it here. – kilocharlie Sep 12 '15 at 13:26
  • Well, I was just typing the question and I found that a simliar (if not the same) question has already been asked and answered (I would like to, but not sure how I can add a link to that question here). So, I'm not asking the question on Buddhism SE now. But, a question with regard to the format of this site has now arisen in my mind, which on getting some clarity, I intend posing on Meta. – kilocharlie Sep 12 '15 at 14:38
5

I'm a new comer to this site and a beginner to the practise of Vipassana and Dhamma. I'm writing this post, having seen a few discussions on meta on the direction of this SE. I noticed that all those engaged in those discussions were veterans of this community and I felt giving a perspective to the moderators on what a newcomer like me thinks of this site or expects from it may help them decide on the future course.

Although, different people have different expectations from this site, mine was to strengthen my understanding of the nuances of the Dhamma, with answers from Buddhist experts (who, in my opinion are people who practise the Buddha's teachings and not Buddhist philosophers and scholars). My definition of a Buddhist expert, is based on an interaction I had with a professor of Buddhist philosophy in a leading university, whose thoughts I felt were absurd and totally in-congruent with the spirit of the Buddha's teachings. I was surprised that such a learned man can be so wrong and later I learnt that this person was although learned,had never actually practised meditation. That is when I realized that the Buddha's teachings and Buddhist philosophy are totally poles apart. That also strengthened my understanding on why the Buddha emphasized on self realization through insight meditation, since otherwise it is impossible to understand in totality, the spirit of His teachings. How can a person with a mind which has not yet experienced the subtleties of the truth pertaining to the mind and body at the experiential level, ever try to comprehend it at the intellectual level.

I came to know of this site through Ven. Yuttadhammo's posts. Soon after my arrival here, I saw his post declaring his quitting this forum. This was closely followed by his sentiments echoed by other senior members, whose past activity I had really liked and who, I felt were more of the practical+theory people and not just the theory people. So departure of all these people from this forum, makes me feel that this is just yet another social community to intellectually outwit each other, without much promise for a genuine learner like me.

Therefore, the intention of my post here is to urge the veterans to review the policies to decide clearly the purpose of this forum. So that all stake holders may know whether it is worthwhile investing further time and effort here to serve their purposes.

If the primary motive of this site is to uphold the teachings of the Buddha in the true spirit and help people progress on the path(I'm not sure if it is, though I feel it should be), I would like to offer my thoughts as follows.

I have found that there are very very broadly five categories of questions (and individuals who ask these questions):-

  1. Those with regard to practice of the Buddha's teachings in some manner and genuine doubts which hamper the progress of the individual on the Path.

  2. Those with regard to finding the meaning of a Buddhist text or finding reference to a particular concept in any Buddhist text.

  3. Those with regard to some curiosity or inquisitiveness about something related to Buddhism or the Buddha's teachings, which although not important for spiritual progress, may help the person find some foothold in the Enlightened one's teachings or help remove a doubt which was an irritant on the path.

  4. Those which question the authenticity or credibility of a particular Buddhist text or writing.

  5. Those which question the authenticity or credibility of the Buddha's teachings itself.

I have listed the above in the decreasing order in which I feel questions on this site should be encouraged or even entertained and I really wonder if questions of the 5th category should be entertained at all. My justification for my stance is as follows:-

  1. The 5th category of questions are merely for intellectual engagement and not for spiritual advancement, which may be categorized as futile and waste of precious time of a human being. For those who want to pursue, such questions for academic interest there are plenty of forums and content on the internet to help them.
  2. The maximum questions are in the first four categories and which means people here are really looking for answers to their progress on the Noble Path. The 5th cateogry of questions prick as an obnoxious thorn in the path of these majority of the users, wandering through this site. With increase in the number of questions of this category, it becomes a case of searching for a needle in the haystack for a person like me.
  3. If I were to join the Electrical Engineering SE and pose a question, " Does electricity really exist?", wouldn't it be considered absurd and unnecessary for those looking at much more serious and important issues?
4

@Lanka, I understand why you say this and share your concern. However, this is precisely why you should stay and continue your contributions.

4

I think the site is going off the rails a bit. :-(. I don't know what others think

Moderators

Maybe the moderators have been too complacent or tolerant.

Until recently the users were already moderate and didn't need moderating.

Comments

Maybe moderators should be a little more active or pro-active in simply deleting extra comments without warning? Editing answers to keep any positive/constructive (even if non-traditional) content but to remove any negative/critical content?

Would it be better to err on the side of deleting slightly too much than deleting slightly too little?

Chat

I also think that maybe we could use the chat room more: for any (optional) discussions about Buddhism and/or personal beliefs which aren't a good fit the main site; and to discuss the site.

On other sites the regulars are in the chat room. A hypothetical example of what might happen there one day:

  • Look at that question which was just posted, do you think it's a bit hostile?
  • Well it's not a bad question, but the tone...
  • edits the new question on the site
  • What do you think now?
  • Nice edit! Now it's a good question.

If there's controversy ("why was my question closed?") sometimes that's discussed in the chat room instead of on meta ("well I closed it for reason but if you disagree with that come and discuss it with the rgulars in the chat room"). So people sort of discuss policy in the chat room, and meta is a bit more formal, e.g. for proposing new a policy and then voting on it.

Questions

Maybe it's time to review our current policy about moderating (or not moderating) questions.

  • I agree with CrabBucket's comment on "tightening up our permissive question policy". – ruben2020 Sep 24 '15 at 18:44
2

The Lonaphala Sutta is apt in this scenario.

"Suppose that a man were to drop a salt crystal into a small amount of water in a cup. What do you think? Would the water in the cup become salty because of the salt crystal, and unfit to drink?"

"Yes, lord. Why is that? There being only a small amount of water in the cup, it would become salty because of the salt crystal, and unfit to drink."

"Now suppose that a man were to drop a salt crystal into the River Ganges. What do you think? Would the water in the River Ganges become salty because of the salt crystal, and unfit to drink?"

"No, lord. Why is that? There being a great mass of water in the River Ganges, it would not become salty because of the salt crystal or unfit to drink."

Similarly, Buddhism SE should be more like the River Ganges than a cup of water. Even if there is an increase in individual contributions that tend to be negative and debate-oriented, the rest of us here need to keep Buddhism SE running in the positive way that it should be. This is precisely why Lanka and Ven. Yuttadhammo should continue contributing.

Debate-oriented questions can either be answered in a civil and professional manner that ignores provocations, or it can be left unanswered altogether. However, I think it is unwise to "feed the mara" as Andrei calls it.

With regards to moderation, I think it is a bit of a gray area. I think our current state of moderation is not strict enough towards debate-oriented or contemptuous questions. But we may need to first rewrite our guidelines in such a way that the moderators may be properly empowered with the right reasons to act, rather than appearing to stifle the freedom of speech. I agree with CrabBucket's comment on "tightening up our permissive question policy".

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