The community of users discussed and agreed various conventions, behaviours, policies for this site.

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Heres a list of the topics which are labeled and my summary of each one.


I am a new user here at Buddhism.SE. What should I know before I post?

  • Welcome!
  • This is a site for questions and answers (not a discussion forum)
  • Questions may be edited, put on hold, duplicate
  • You can vote when the answer is useful (or not useful)
  • Here are some links to help with the site, and to other 'Useful resources'

Moderation policies for Questions

The moderation policy for questions on this site is unlike other SE sites.

Unlike on other sites, the following are not reasons to close a question on this site:

  • Too broad
  • Unclear what you're asking
  • Too theoretical
  • Too practical
  • Too controversial
  • Too obscure
  • Too easy

The following are reasons to close a question:

  • Off-topic
  • Polling questions
  • Exact duplicates
  • Hostile
  • Broad comparisons
  • Seeded questions

How about a 'resource' tab?

There's a list of Useful resources at the top of this page. It's not complete, of course, but is meant to be "like a sandbox of different material, either to kick-start understanding of Buddhism, or background material".

How do you vote?

Voting is important. How you vote is up to you. This topic has answers from several users, which explain how they choose to vote.

Answering questions

When my answer is short, shall I post it as a comment instead?

Please post your answer as an answer, and not as a comment, even if your answer is short.

What about providing sources?

References (e.g. hyperlinks or citations) to sources are welcome and helpful. They're not required though, i.e. you are allowed to answer questions without giving references.

Good answers may be based on references or on experience; answers based on experience may be unreferenced.

Some people sometimes post a comment under an answer to ask for a reference, only if they disagree with or have doubts about an answer (asking for a reference can be a polite way to disagree with an answer).

Answers vs Advice

  • The best answers deal directly and solely with the question(s) specifically asked
  • Avoid invalidating the question with answers of the form "That's the wrong question..."
  • In general, unless you actually are the questioner's teacher, don't assume a teacher's mantle.

Moderating answers which don't answer the question?

The community has asked moderators to allow (i.e. to not delete) answers, unless or until the answer receives several downvotes from users.

So if you think an answer should be deleted, please downvote it as well as flag it for moderator attention.

Minimizing controversy

Some people experience conflicts between different views or different sects, both previously (on other sites) and on this site.

Note that this site (Buddhism.SE) is meant for users from all schools, and for non-Buddhists too.

I assume that what most people want from this site is something like this:

a place where I could answer (or ask) specific questions about topics, 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.

Controversy is counter-productive to this goal, and the following policies are meant to help minimize that.

Theravada and Mahayana

This is one site for all schools.

If you want an answer from the perspective of a specific school, then please add the corresponding tag to your question (for example, , , , and so on).

How should we handle the different traditions of Buddhism in our answers?

When a question (a topic) is tagged for a specific school, then answers must be from the perspective of that school. If for example a topic were tagged , then any answer like "You know, everything to do with Mahayana is just a later corruption of the original teachings" would be off-topic and deleted (see also Answers vs Advice).

Many questions aren't tagged for a specific school:

  • Because the answer is the same for all schools
  • Because the OP who asked the question didn't know to tag their question ("questions by laypeople that have vaguely-defined ideas")
  • Because the OP is looking for a survey of answers from several schools

These questions are a "real mess" and "tricky" to answer. Answers may contradict each other, and so

it is incredibly important that these questions be answered with an explicit mention of the tradition on which the answer is based. It does nobody any good to see a question like "How do I attain enlightenment?" with a dozen contradictory answers and no explanation of why they are contradictory.

We have the following policies for handling multiple traditions:

  • Try to specify which school a question is asking about -- you might do that by adding a tag to the question, for example
  • If a question is tagged for (limited to) a specific school then avoid posting answers from other schools
  • When possible, indicate which school an answer is from; you could do this:

    • Explicitly in the text, by starting the answer with something like, "According to X school, ..."
    • Implicitly in the content, by quoting text or an author who is associated with a specific school
    • Optionally, by editing your user profile, e.g. like this, to say which school you're informed by
  • If a question isn't school-specific and you can see that someone's answer is school-specific, it might help other readers to post a comment under the answer to say something like, "This answer is the doctrine of school X." (to clarify that the answer is school-specific).

Questions asking for an answer to a controversy

To avoid being controversial (and to be helpful), answers can:

  • Outline the controversy in the answer
  • Or state that this answer is just one of several possible views

Avoid any disrespectful terms, e.g.

  • "mahayana developed pseudo-sutras" ("pseudo" is disrespectful)
  • "abuse by generations of abhidharmists" ("abuse" is disrespectful)

Instead of being disrespectful it's enough to state that there are other point of view other than your own:

So, in summary, instead of deleting questions, or asking to rephrase, or to make obligatory survey in the answer, I propose to delete derogatory statements only and allow single commentary to state existence of other point of view, and leave everything else as it is.

Separately, there are a few topics which have become well-known to be controversial (for example, vegetarianism, SGI, NKT). Some of the ways to handle these topics can include:

  • Banning it as a topic
  • Keeping it to a single thread (e.g. closing new questions as duplicate)
  • Deleting comment threads when they turn into massive forum-like discussions.

Sectarian shout downs should be dealt with

The question asks,

Do we want to leave open answers and comments that do nothing to answer the question, but instead are a sectarian attack on the beliefs implicit in the question?

It suggests that "these sort of comments and answers be dealt with aggressively or just quietly removed."

Are we here to preach and make converts?


  • We shouldn't be posting normative declarations in the form of a question
  • We shouldn't be a debate site
  • I urge people to ask questions with potentially factual answers, or advice questions or the many other sorts questions that get numerous upvotes — and move the preaching to their blog, the debate to one of the many forums that exist elsewhere on the net.

Even questions which are intended as a form of preaching are unwelcome.

May I share my research, by posting questions on this site and self-answering them?

No. Other SE sites allow people to answer their own questions; but on this site we don't want you to post a question just so you can answer it ... for several reasons, including "not preaching". So instead,

  • Post your question because you want other people's answers (not because you want to answer it yourself)
  • Post your question because you want other people's answers (not because you hope the answers would be useful to someone else, although not to you)
  • Post an answer if it's inspired by and relevant to someone else's question

You can do it occasionally (if you ask a question first, and later research the answer) ... doing it once or twice a year per user isn't harmful.

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  • +1 on treating the sect information as recommended, plus a way of commenting on posts without such information, like: either commenting that sect X accepts the Y view, or asking to the OP the sect represented by his answer if any (or both). – user382 Jun 24 '17 at 9:51
  • these rules appear to be ChrisW's rules. who are the "we" that appear to have created these rules, such as "The moderation policy for questions on this site is unlike other SE sites".... – Dhammadhatu Oct 10 at 0:57
  • @Dhammadhatu I wrote this answer -- it's my summary of other topics on Meta, topics in which users seemed to me to have reached some consensus, and which I tagged with the faq tag. Many of the "we" are just direct quotes from other posts. The "Moderation Policies for Questions", specifically, was my summary of this discussion. – ChrisW Oct 10 at 1:55

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