Thank you for asking.
Respectful inter-school dialogue
You probably know already but may I mention again that this isn't entirely a site for "dialogue", it's more for question-and-answer.
Of course there are many pairs of people involved:
- The OP and the person who answers
- The person who answers, and the reader
But we'd like to minimize controversy ... and even to minimize dialogue, except in Q&A format.
I mention this because I think that minimizing dialogue, minimizing the need for dialogue, minimizing or avoiding the questionable statements in answers, is one way to minimize controversy and "offense".
This site not exactly "inter-school", either. I mean it's meant to be inclusive of all schools, welcoming topics about all schools. It's only "inter-school" to the extent that:
- If someone posts a topic with the zen tag, for example, then people without Zen experience can listen (can read other people's answers, probably shouldn't write an answer themselves)
- If someone posts a topic without a school-specific tag, then anyone might try to answer from the perspective of any or all schools.
Please can a moderator explain the decision in this case, the policy on inter-school dialogue and Dhammadhatu in particular?
Your question (thank you) prompted me to review and summarize the site policies -- the "policy on inter-school dialogue" can now be found summarized there.
There's no official policy on "Dhammadhatu in particular". The policies tend to prescribe the permitted content of posts, and aren't user-specific.
Unofficially there are some users who are controversial: who post a lot, who seem knowledgeable for one reason or another, who often post helpful content, but whose content is also sometimes somehow abrasive. When the content is questionable then I inspect it and if it breaks a rule then I edit or delete it (and other moderators presumably do the same). If it doesn't break a rule then I don't delete it.
I think we want to permit diverse views, without imposing a moderator-defined orthodoxy.
A few users have been quite vocal about protesting moderation, so I try to avoid moderating except when there's a defined policy ("defined" by having been proposed and upvoted by the community of users) which clearly supports any decision to moderate.
My decision to not moderate in this case was based on the fact that it didn't break any of the criteria I might usually use; for example:
- Aghori's question didn't have a school-specific tag -- if it did then any inter-school comments in answers would be off-topic.
- Dhammadhatu's answer didn't identify other users -- if he'd written "Lanka's answer is wrong" or "Saptha's answer is stupid", then that would have broken rules against discussion and/or against ad hominem content.
- I couldn't think of a polite or less-controversial way to phrase Dhammadhatu's "later day corruptions" opinion.
I see that Lanka has now edited the answer to rephrase it as "original Buddhism (before the later day variations)". I suppose that might be controversial still, but I hope it's less immediately offensive.
When I reviewed the site policies today, to write the new "FAQ index", I found one or two policies that I maybe should or could have applied to Dhammadhatu's answer. They're the policies defined in this meta-answer and this-meta-answer i.e.:
- Beware that topics which don't define a school-specific tag are "tricky"
- An answer can or should state (only) that other points of view exist, but must not be disrespectful
- An answer should include an "explicit mention of the tradition on which the answer is based".
I'd prefer it if people (including Dhammadhatu) were a bit more tactful in the first place, when they answer questions. There are other users who participate without their answers being "flagged", so it's not impossible.
Please say if you think the current policies could be improved in any way.