Moderating is a very common and popular word coming from making things moderate, humble. Yet moderating in action is mostly the opposite and often does not dear to act very unwholesome. If we look at it its not a little different to censure and control.

Having maybe sees such, how should, could one act so that simply never fall into this trap. What kinds of purposes should be avoided? Would simply stick to precepts help?

What are the unwholesome purposes of moderating? Which aspirations should be avoided when doing such a task in what ever surrounding one acts?

Are there some hints found in what is called mediation which is a alternative to judge?

What is required for a person to be able to moderate? Opinionlessness? Would such be a solution and foundation?

  • 2
    This looks like a reaction to my comment on this answer and does not seem to be directly connected with Buddhism per-se?
    – Andriy Volkov Mod
    Commented Jan 17, 2016 at 1:51
  • Also this thread has become more appropriate for chat so I'm going to move this off there so we can discuss more there as required Commented Jan 17, 2016 at 15:54
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. Commented Jan 17, 2016 at 15:54
  • 1
    Maybe two talks of Ajahn Chah are useful, for sure it not easy to see the different between ruling and moderating if defilements are the only reference: Not for Sure As for the task people usually do, or think that they need to do when doing moderation job, they actually act as public prosecutor, judge and police in one person, which is common only in totalitarian regimes. Think about that. So just to speak about Moderation on a very conventional level.
    – user7629
    Commented Jan 20, 2016 at 14:41
  • Censorship is moderation that somebody disagrees with. :) Commented Jan 23, 2016 at 10:56
  • Mr Grimm might have meant, that moderation is a censorship some agrees with or should it mean that there has to be prejudice? Mr. Andrews thought might be based on certain ways of judgement, coming for decision making by dictators or by the mass of the crowd. Truth and moderation are how ever most far away of that, @AndrewGrimm. And to feel that a critic has the intention to make ones position for his own benefit, would cut you far off a possible try that someone tries to pull the stones, not even the dust, out of the eyes. Could.
    – user7586
    Commented Feb 3, 2016 at 14:07

4 Answers 4


I am just going to put something in here about moderation on the site and my view of it. All the moderators here do so on a voluntary basis and do not get paid or get any particular advantage from doing so. I think it's fair to say that everyone who has moderated the site at any point (that's 6 users past and present) has done so because they want the site to a good positive place for Buddhism Q and A.

That said - no one is perfect and we are all human beings. We have and will make mistakes and will continue to do so. But I really believe that everyone that moderates does it with the best of intentions. If anyone is hurt or offended by the action of a moderator then meta is the place for a discussion. If anyone wants to discuss the principles of moderation on the site (or I'll be honest generally I think) then again meta is the place.

Realistically, I don't think anyone is going to be falling over with gratitude for the moderators. But can I just say that I am grateful to the other moderators for keeping things positive. I have been by far the least active moderator over the last few months so I am really grateful to the others for keeping things going and going in a good direction.

This might be an off topic answer but this is the stuff that this post brings up for me so I wanted to write it in.

Be well everyone.

  • Ohh, its actually so sad, that such things are not seen as gratitude not to speak that if it would be a personal critic such could be good a matter of compassion as well. So don't worry, all in all, you make a real good job here far better then anywhere else. But as you said, not perfect yet, such should not be a notion of not possible to become such, or? And how could one without being pointed on the "dark" spots? Btw. do not justify things by saying, I do it volunteer. Neither would kamma care nor would it be elsewhere an excuse. Especially when you make things by heart, one is much more..!
    – user7586
    Commented Feb 4, 2016 at 20:15

Although I think in fact the question concerns some specific case... but because the title sounds as a general question I'll try to give a general answer

Nothing is constant (that's the main relation to the Buddha-dharma in focus here in Buddhism.SE); and you can be guaranteed that if you have only one (or more) constant rules, then someone some time must fall into that trap. But I think, this is --more or less-- common sense with all people who have to do with creating rules and checking their observance. The Buddha made his vinaya rules on concrete occasions and not as an ivory-tower, eternal, abstract system of paragraphs; and it is reported that shortly before his parinirvana he said, that "the minor rules" might be adapted if needed.

The uncertainty about, which rules were meant to be "minor" --according to the same transmission of reports--, caused the first council to decide to conserve the current state of rules ... but after one or two generations it was obvious this could/would no more be accepted or be put into practice for the greater(?) part of the sangha.

So from this so old and ancient example we can remember that trying to absolutely prevent misbehaviour by a constant rule will be futile. And this leads then to very interesting problems which we should solve for ourselves. One among of them is the problem of giving trust to someone: trusting that he/she does not intentionally behave badly even when I feel that something happened which "broke the rules" and disadvantaged me. This trust/trusting is of course easier in a sangha of small size, where each one knows each other, than in an international SE-community where anonymity is one overwhelming basic property (and only few members seem to achieve a sort of near-personal relations).

In short, to answer the generally formulated question: it is not possible to prevent that someone falls into that trap.

And to say something more than only such a specific answer: I think it is useful/helpful/wholesome to try and train to analyze oneself: to see whether one is (possibly) just cultivating the paradigm of mistrust - for example, formulating the title of the questions in a way as if it were somehow normal or commonplace or expectable, that distracting behaviour of the moderator (or of the poster, or whatever) occurs. Once you're already at this point, that you assume such a thing and state it as given, then --whether you know it or not-- you're introducing a basis of/for distrust into the community. And the source of such anonymous, under-surface emotion/paradigm of distrust shall later be very difficult to recover and to heal.

There was a story where even the Buddha could not resolve a conflict between two prominent members of his sangha (a holder of the suttas and a holder of the vinaya) and after a serious warning - which lead simply to nothing - he left the scene for some time in solitude in the forest: to let those bhikkus learn and experience the reaction of the laypeople and the alm-givers, to such self-representation of the sangha and its inability or even unwillingness to remove/resolve dissent and conflicts.

(I'm a bit in a hurry and must stop my answer here, possibly I can come back to this later/in the evening or tomorrow, sorry)

  • 1
    Your point on introducing a basis for distrust is very insightful, thank you
    – Andriy Volkov Mod
    Commented Jan 18, 2016 at 15:40
  • First of all Upasaka Gottfried is talking actually about "police" and does not go into the matter of the question, that points out that there is a different between judging and moderating, and second, when Upasaka introduces the matter of distrust, which is actually a matter of preoccupations, which have to be abounded on the Buddhist Path, is in modern psychology called victim blaming, regardless who blatant of subtle the reason might be.
    – user7586
    Commented Feb 3, 2016 at 13:31
  • There are of course also fundamental reason to mistrust in certain areas. For example people who do not keep precepts, have not undertaken them. Who ever, is a sign of a very poor society, to first "award" judges, second, judge on subjective feelings, third judge on preoccupations, fourth avoid to use the tool of counter questioning & fifth, to put it under a label that causes additional suggestion by using an image of being moderate. So all in all a kindergarten mentality of use to amass fools but for sure neither practicing n. already wise people. All such thing would do, is cut off yourselv
    – user7586
    Commented Feb 3, 2016 at 13:38
  • "but because the title sounds as a general question" this insight, even reduced of the sounds, would be the foundation of moderation: "Since there is a general question behind" would be more proper, but maybe one would make it moderate, so that moderators would not feel offended what thinking there judgement, that it is a meta-topic would be hardly wrong.
    – user7586
    Commented Feb 3, 2016 at 14:00

Moderating is a very common and popular word coming from making things moderate, humble.

I prefer to think of it as, not making things moderate but as keeping things moderate.

Also it isn't keeping other things moderate, it's a form of self-moderation.

This site was (the people on this site were) moderate to begin with, before I came along. I don't make them (I don't cause them to be) moderate. Because most users are already moderate, this site is moderate by default: moderation is its natural state.

Having experience of this site, I've formed an impression of how moderate people's posts usually are.

If, then, someone posts something that's beyond those norms, i.e. norms of:

  • Politeness
  • Being on-topic
  • Answering the question
  • Being a straight-forward answer, not a discussion or an argument

... then I inspect it closely to see whether I should intervene to correct it.

I'm grateful to moderators who intervene, and who don't intervene, who show restraint, who help to prevent or avoid useless argument on this site.

I'm especially grateful to the users who post helpful content. Keeping the site available for them is why I want the site to exist. A theory of what moderators do is described here.

I assume that the purpose of this site is approximately as stated in this post, i.e. ...

I haven't the time for or interest in debating Buddhism on the Internet - forums abound where one may do so elsewhere

What I was looking for here was a place where I could answer specific questions about topics on which I was somewhat of an expert, under the assumption that I (or anyone) could provide the single right answer to the question as a resource for Buddhists searching for answers online, without having to deal with (much) controversy or opinion.

... although with modifications (e.g. that most types of question with a few exceptions are acceptable, and anyone can answer). The Q&A format of the site helps to minimize controversy (i.e. people write their own answers without trying to criticize each other or each other's answers).

Yet moderating in action is mostly the opposite and often does not dear to act very unwholesome.

The moderators moderate every day.

By far the most frequent moderator action is ... nothing, nothing at all: read a new post and do nothing to intervene because (in their opinion, according to their judgement) it's already moderate.

Actions of a typical moderator include:

  • Do nothing
  • Upvote or downvote
  • Comment or edit
  • Edit the tags
  • Welcome a first-time poster

Other forms of moderator intervention ...

  • Closing a question
  • Deleting comments
  • Migrating a question
  • Deleting an answer
  • Banning a user

... are rare, even very rare. That's because almost all users already understand that they can and should post questions and answers which are on-topic, inoffensive, and answerable; and that this site is meant to be used as a Q&A site, and not as a forum for discussion.

The review tools, if you're interested, show how much (or how little) intervention there has been, in the last 30 days:

The only 'moderated' content which users can't see are deleted comments (but comments aren't supposed to matter anyway, it's the Questions and Answers which are supposed to matter).

What are the unwholesome purposes of moderating?


Are there some hints found in what is called mediation which is a alternative to judge?

I think we all have both (mediation and judgement in moderation):

  • Mediation includes editing for clarity, posting comments, discussing in chat, using Meta to discuss and vote on general policies and any specific questions and answers
  • Judgement mostly includes showing good judgement, being moderate, and so on -- all users are expected to (and do) show good judgement

What is required for a person to be able to moderate? Opinionlessness?

I assume you mean, "to be a moderator" or "to moderate this site".

In my opinion some of the desirable characteristics are:

  • Is willing to do it (some people are asked but decline)
  • Long experience of the site, including what's been posted on Meta (knows what's expected)
  • A prolific user (visits the site frequently, knows the subject matter's essentials and/or in detail)
  • Tolerant (allow other users to ask about various forms of Buddhism, and give their own answers)
  • Cooperative and/or flexible (it may be better to avoid someone whose views are so fixed, so adamant, that they can't reach agreement with other moderators and users, i.e. the community)
  • Some history of posting on Meta (demonstrates an interest in the governance of the site)

Also, as Gottfried mentioned, I suppose "trust" comes into it somehow. I'm not trying to say that only moderators are trusted (that would be untrue) but I suspect that if you didn't trust a user then you wouldn't ask them whether they're willing to be one of the (temporary) moderators.

  • It's possible that 'Tolerant' isn't a virtue and that moderators should be stricter, to improve/ensure the consistency/quality of answers -- however this community didn't seem to want moderators making that kind of decision, e.g. in the answers to Moderating answers which don't answer the question?
    – ChrisW Mod
    Commented Jan 19, 2016 at 16:50
  • Spelling, kind of expression, layout, moving obstacles aside, give smart inputs to moderate (in the sense of the word) situations where people itch there mirror image, technical stuff... being there when problem come up and most: being open to handle issues, where people in conflict, if there is such, address one and ask for moderation = mediation (since you are from Europe you would know this a little, outside, from Atmas experience, such is a foreign word). At least for the entertaining side of this job, your task is to entertain.
    – user7586
    Commented Feb 3, 2016 at 13:45
  • One might believe it or not, a moderator does not even need a gun (tools to delete and harm others and there "possession") and are able to make the whole crowd dance. So its more wise to see the word "moderator" as a entertainer job, and not that of a ruler, public prosecutor, legislative and executor in one person, yet a consumer one self. Such if called "warder" or "checker" would be at least more honest and would not draw a wrong picture above the meaning of such a job. One might not wounder, that here in Asia wards advertise there job calling it "santi sukha"...
    – user7586
    Commented Feb 3, 2016 at 13:53
  • A synonymous for the happiness of nibbana, to let people pay their deeds, believing that such comes for wards. As Atma just had translated a short essay on defilements, it might be worthy to go through it, to understand some wired modern understandings and concepts: [On denying Defilement](zugangzureinsicht.org/html/lib/authors/thanissaro/beyond_en.html#ch5)
    – user7586
    Commented Feb 3, 2016 at 13:54
  • And to counteract an additional miss-believe of the task and quality of a moderator: If he would simply act of how's the crowds mood here or there, he would just take on the task of a pause clown in the entertainment section, or the executor of the gladiators, to give entertainment, when the show loses the popularity. In fact a moderator needs to be very veracious, wick-witnessed and creative, what is all not of the primitive qualities of henchman of common defilements, but to point them visible out. So it would be not good to underestimate or wrongly missunderstand the value which stand b. s.
    – user7586
    Commented Feb 3, 2016 at 14:22
  • @SamanaJohann I guess your comments about guns and dancing and gladiators etc. was metaphorical; but I didn't understanding what you were talking about nor why.
    – ChrisW Mod
    Commented Feb 4, 2016 at 14:42
  • "...The Dhamma is just like this, talking in similes, because the Dhamma doesn't have anything. It isn't round, doesn't have any corners. There's no way to get acquainted with it except through comparisons like this. If you understand this, you understand the Dhamma. 108
    – user7586
    Commented Feb 4, 2016 at 19:56

The verb "to moderate" and its gerund form "moderating" - is it currently used in any other context but "to moderate a web forum" in real life by native English speakers? Maybe in context of "moderating" a formal debate (such as the presidential debates)...

Can this Q&A site be considered a debate between any sides? (If we don't debate here, what are we moderating?)

Or if someone had question about the pitfalls of moderating debates in real life and the qualities required for such job, would it be considered an on topic question? How would it be different from asking about the pitfalls and qualities expected of a soccer referee? Would that question be on topic?

In short, can someone please explain to me how this could be interpreted as a valid Dharma question.

  • As it is written
    – Ryan
    Commented Jan 17, 2016 at 18:50
  • If you hadn't closed it, and had not said anything, I doubt anyone who hadn't seen the exchange between the two of you on the other question would have thought twice about this one.
    – Ryan
    Commented Jan 17, 2016 at 18:51
  • I hear you but I'm specifically asking someone for a detail explanation of how the question could be read like you say "it is written". I will edit my message to clarify what I'm asking about.
    – Andriy Volkov Mod
    Commented Jan 17, 2016 at 19:02
  • @Ryan since you were the main supporter of an "on topic" interpretation, can you reply?
    – Andriy Volkov Mod
    Commented Jan 17, 2016 at 19:23
  • To moderate is to try and leverage some degree of control over a thing. And without perfect wisdom, this act may be done out of greed, anger, or delusion, planting the seed for future becoming and suffering. And so with this is mind, the question is aimed to ask how one can best undertake this duty as a practitioner. How can one wisely moderate, within the parameters of the Buddha's teaching
    – Ryan
    Commented Jan 17, 2016 at 20:03
  • "To moderate is to try and leverage some degree of control over a thing" - hmmm in my 15+ years living in the west I've never encountered this word used in this sense, can you give an example in sentence?
    – Andriy Volkov Mod
    Commented Jan 17, 2016 at 20:07
  • People moderate their food, alcohol consumption "all things in moderation", just off the top of my head
    – Ryan
    Commented Jan 17, 2016 at 20:09
  • "In moderation" is a widely used pattern, sure. "To be moderate about something" too. But the verb form, "to moderate" e.g. food consumption - I'm not sure... Okay then, but if he used it in that sense, why would he bring up mediation vs judging, opinionless, and censorship? Doesn't make much sense to me...
    – Andriy Volkov Mod
    Commented Jan 17, 2016 at 20:12
  • Mediation vs judging as an approach to moderation I believe. Opionionlessness as being perfectly impartial in moderation, and censorship (to totally oppose and squelch something) as a contrast to the ideal of moderation, which I think most people generally think of as impartiality ( a moderator of a debate), and how the lines between these two might be blurred if moderation is not done with wisdom
    – Ryan
    Commented Jan 17, 2016 at 20:58
  • This is just the impression I got at least
    – Ryan
    Commented Jan 17, 2016 at 20:59
  • @Ryan Part of controlling a nuclear reactor is the "moderator": which "moderates" the reaction to keep it at the right temperature. It's not entirely about "control over a thing" though, IMO it's about self-control.
    – ChrisW Mod
    Commented Jan 17, 2016 at 22:22
  • 1
    I think the question could be [mis-]interpreted as false dichotomies: either the moderators are repressive censors, or I should be allowed to post anything anywhere without moderation; either the moderators are claiming to be enlightened, perfectly wise, and able to read my mind, or they're ignorant and avaricious and aversive and under the influence of various defilements; either the moderators stick to the five precepts (which say nothing about being allowed to moderate/censor other people's writings), or if they delete what I write then that's like them killing and stealing etc.
    – ChrisW Mod
    Commented Jan 17, 2016 at 22:35
  • This is an extreme Chris, not the middle way, as Samana Johann suggested; mediation vs judgement as an approach to moderation
    – Ryan
    Commented Jan 17, 2016 at 22:47
  • 1
    Why not have there be a default "filter of the moderators"? If someone wants to see an unmoterated view of the forum then they can choose "unfiltered". I don't know maybe we already have something like this. Also there can be many different filters depending on the users tastes. I myself would feel like a robot if I was moderating and saying the TOS made me do it.
    – Lowbrow
    Commented Jan 18, 2016 at 1:34
  • 1
    @Uilium Now that your 'reputation' is above 2000 you can view deleted answers. In other words your account now has a 'unmoderated' or unfiltered view of the site. The one thing you can't see are deleted comments (but comments aren't supposed to matter much anyway).
    – ChrisW Mod
    Commented Jan 18, 2016 at 1:43

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