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Very useful (and time consuming) site!

English is not my native tongue, and I guess I'm not the only one. I think that sometimes it can be more difficult for us "foreigners" to make ourselves clear. Is it possible for the moderators take this in to account? Maybe difficult, but keep in mind that sometimes a formulation can seem strange because a person is not English speaking.

The moderators seem to be doing a very fair and thorough job. But sometimes a question gets put on hold, and I don't quite see why; and there is no explanation except fex. "opinion based". I think a question can be opinion based on the basis of the moderators opinion, so I wonder if the one that put it on hold could explain more his/her reasons for doing so.

I also wonder how many moderators are there? And how do I know who they are? I tried to find out, but couldn't find it? Does the moderators have "meetings" and discuss before fex. putting a post on hold or is it up to the moderator to do it? I think that it's more reason to moderate comments like "GO TO HELL YOU JACKASS ALAN WATTS!", than stopping my question about whether humanity is spiritually evolving or not. But that is just my opinion.

Thanks for the attention!

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I deleted the "jackass" comment, thanks!

As for your question "Does mankind evolve or devolve spiritually?" - it was asking for broad characterization of large-scale contemporary phenomena. In my opinion, that is a quintessentially opinion-based type of question, i.e. a question that is likely to generate evaluating answers and not answers that share either personal experience or analytical knowledge.

Many of your questions borderline with the opinion-based category, but this one was too blatantly opinion-based, I felt. To me this site is supposed to be primarily about Buddhism (i.e. the teachings/narratives inside the Buddhist universe). I personally also encourage questions requesting to relate specific Buddhist narratives with personal practice. The first type of questions I personally specifically discourage are requests to compare and contrast Buddhist narratives with other narratives (scientific, Christian etc.). To me it is a rarely well-informed and often controversial exercise.

Your question, the core of which looks to be "Is mankind now, 2500 years after the historical Buddha, in a better position to make use of the Dharma?" was, like I said, asking for broad characterization of large-scale contemporary phenomena. This is a second type of questions that I personally don't find working well in this Q&A format.

I understand your excitement with this venue and appreciate your interest in Buddhism and our little corner of the internet. Unfortunately the medium places its restrictions - and some discussions that I would totally have with you in my kitchen are simply not a good fit for this site. If you stick to questions that are either "in-universe" or request elaboration on "in-universe" concepts in terms of actual practice - you can both contribute useful topics for others to learn from, and get quality answers -- and not mere opinions -- to your questions.

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My name is Lanka and I'm one of the moderators. We are 4 moderators on Buddhism SE. The other moderators are Andrei Volkov, ChrisW and Crab Bucket. You can find us here. Also moderators have a little diamond next to their name. That is how you can recognize them.

English is also not my first language. I struggled to learn it in the past and nowadays, I develop it by writing, speaking and reading it everyday.

Maybe it will make more sense, if you got some info about this site. This site is a Stack Exchange site. This means that we have a "Best-Answer-Format". We are looking for expert answers and the best answer possible. Opinion-based answers tend to not generate that kind of answer.

There will always be some degree of opinion-based content in an answer or question. That cannot be avoided.

The opion-based questions that are being put on hold, are ones that tend to generate a large amount of opinion-based content, discussions and debates. This site is not suited for discussion and debate.

The Stack Exchange Format is for best answers and not discussions and debates.

Stack Exchange is about questions with objective, factual answers. We've been crystal clear about this for as long as I can remember, even back to the earliest, pre-beta days of Stack Overflow. It's right there in the standard Stack Exchange FAQ:

What kind of questions should I not ask here?

Avoid asking questions that are subjective, argumentative, or require extended discussion. This is not a discussion board, this is a place for questions that can be answered!

Thus, questions that are not answerable -- discussions, debates, opinions -- should be closed as subjective. It seems simple enough: Fact good; opinion and discussion bad. But why?

Most forums and chat rooms have a scale problem. As in, they don't. The more people that join the discussion, the more noise each of those connections bring. So the forums get progressively noisier and noisier, and suddenly one day … you stop learning.

-- Good Subjective, Bad Subjective and What types of questions should I avoid asking?.

Actually, we are fairly open-minded at Buddhism SE. On other SE's the moderation is done in a much more strict way. Often we have questions here, that are allowed to stay but would have been immediately down-voted and closed on other SE's.

I want to also mention that sometimes moderators who have been on the site for a long time and are very experienced can very quickly evaluate whether or not a question should be put on hold, so they put it on hold.

Other times, the question might be a difficult one to evaluate and then the question is being discussed amongst the other moderators so a solution can be found.

It is often a difficult balance to keep the site in check and ensure good-quality content and at the same time perform moderation, that are agreeable to everyone. That means that sometimes there are "grey-areas", where the individual moderator interpretate the Site-policy and then act on that. These situations are the most difficult and challenging to moderate.

Its a learning process for everyone. Remember our site is still in Beta and when a site is in Beta, it is very important that the moderators ensure a healthy beta with high-quality-content.

Lastly, thank you pointing out that moderators should leave a comment when questions are put on hold. We often do that but sometimes it might slip. We are aware of that and will do it as best as we can. Its very good when there is community-feedback since that will make the overall quality of the site increase.

I hope you will continue to like it on the site. Feel free to always contact a moderator if you have any questions or issues on the site.

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Is it possible for the moderators take this in to account?

Yes and no.

I'm conscious that most users on this site are writing English-as-a-second-language, and it's been normal for me to work with such people in real life. Your English is infinitely better than my Norwegian, and I'm grateful (and don't hold it against you) that you're writing in English.

If I write something you don't understand, you are welcome to ask me to clarify/explain.

If I understand what you write that's good enough for me. I might correct spelling and grammar to make it easier for other non-English users (who might find it easier to read correctly-spelled English).

However if I don't understand something you write then "taking it into account" might not be enough to correct that.

But sometimes a question gets put on hold, and I don't quite see why

As Lanka explained, if a question leads to discussion and debate then it might not be a good question for this site.

For example, "Are we better equipped for enlightenment" has several possible answers:

  • No, because "Three Ages of Buddhism" and because the Buddha himself predicted a decline
  • Yes, because with world-wide travel and so on it's easier to meet teachers these days
  • No, because modern consumerism leaves no place for spiritual development
  • Yes, because there's more education and more leisure time for everyone these days
  • No, because etc.

These answers are mutually contradictory. They're based on different assumptions. Maybe it's an overly vague or ambiguous questions. As a site moderator I don't want questions where it's too easy to foresee multiple conflicting answers; that kind of question is better suited to another site (e.g. a discussion forum).

Our etiquette encourages us to edit unclear questions, but,

You edit to make things better, clearer, more effective -- never to change meaning.

As I wrote in this comment someone could (you could) edit that post to make it on-topic. You could ask a question like,

Does Buddhist scripture predict that now, 2500 years after the historical Buddha, we'll be in a better or a worse position to make use of the Dharma?

I didn't want to go ahead and make that edit though, myself, because I thought it too much of a change to the meaning of your question: i.e. that wasn't the question which you wanted to ask.

Does the moderators have "meetings" and discuss before fex. putting a post on hold or is it up to the moderator to do it?

Moderators can chat with each other, and do before making serious decisions.

Closing a question (or "putting it on hold") is easy to do and also easy to undo (if it was a bad decision), so no we don't chat before every such decision.

It doesn't have to be a final decision though:

  • If another moderator disagreed they could question that decision (e.g. privately via chat)
  • If five high-reputation users voted to reopen, that would override the moderator's vote-to-close (actually no-one has voted to reopen it at least yet)
  • Anyone (usually the person who asked the question and wants it reopened) can start a topic like this one on meta, to ask why it was closed and whether it can be reopened
  • The discussion on meta might result in some edit suggestion ("If we edit the question in such-and-such a way then we could reopen it")

I think that it's more reason to moderate comments like "**** ALAN WATTS!"

Yes I looked at that comment several times and don't remember why I decided not to delete it. I've very occasionally seen worse comments (which have been deleted). :-(

If you see any comments you dislike, please flag the comment (e.g. you might flag this one as "offensive"). Comments are 'second-class citizens' on this site, i.e. I'm more inclined to delete useless or out-of-place comments than to close people's questions or delete people's answers.

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Just in the way of introduction I'm Tim Brown (Crab Bucket on this site). I've been a practising Buddhist for about 8 years with the Triratna community though my commitment does ebb and flow. I live in Leeds UK with my wife and daughter. I'm a computer programmer.

I guess I'm a bit less active on the site than the other mods but I do still try to keep an eye on things and close down the off topic and delete the inflammatory comments as they arise.

Generally my motivation is the the site is a welcoming place where people can have a go at asking and answering questions without invoking horrendous flame wars. Generally I'm very grateful to all the mods. Doing this is voluntary and no one goes away for moderator training or anything. We all just do our best with the best intentions

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