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In civilized discussions, if you disagree, you should provide counter-arguments, not offenses.

For example, when Dhammadhatu called Pratityasamutpada explanation "materialistic error" (https://buddhism.stackexchange.com/a/22096/11762), I provided sutta quotation and reference to show that it was actual Buddha's Teaching, and I explained the seeming contradiction with another sutta (https://chat.stackexchange.com/rooms/63892/discussion-on-answer-by-dhammadhatu-once-ignorance-is-removed-is-the-cessation)

That's a proper way to discuss disagreements.

Dhammadhatu commented on that as "misunderstanding ... confusion, materialism & unverifiable superstition"[2], instead of backing his view with any arguments.

I don't think such behavior is mature and should be accepted on this site.

So I propose that moderators:

  • Leave important comments like mine under the answer, rather than moving them to chat. Then users could compare such answers with actual words of Buddha, and avoid being misinformed.
  • Delete comments with denigrating labels, rather than moving them to chat. Such unfounded attacks on Buddha's Teaching have no benefit for anyone.
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    difficult question to answer, because maintaining rigor on a question and site is difficult, but everyone thinks they're usually right. hm – sorta_buddhist Aug 16 '17 at 19:39
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    @user3293056, "everyone thinks they're usually right" - that's why the culture of discussion was developed. E.g., reasoning without criticism is OK, criticism without reasoning is not OK. – chang zhao Aug 16 '17 at 23:25
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    a noble spirit, thanks. – sorta_buddhist Aug 16 '17 at 23:27
  • My answer addresses the situation as I see it, i.e. the specific answer and comments which you referenced, and the moderator's response to them. My answer doesn't attempt to answer the question as you phrased it in the title, i.e. about accepting unfounded attacks on Buddhism. – ChrisW Aug 17 '17 at 9:21
  • @ChrisW, yes, you wrote long explanation about the situation in general, but managed to avoid answering the topic, "about accepting unfounded attacks on Buddhism". Maybe it would be reasonable to move your answer to some other question, leaving here only a link to it; and answering here the question itself. – chang zhao Aug 17 '17 at 11:08
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you wrote long explanation about the situation in general, but managed to avoid answering the topic, "about accepting unfounded attacks on Buddhism". Maybe it would be reasonable to ... answer here the question itself.

Assuming that the question itself is, "Aren't unfounded attacks on Buddhism unacceptable here?", I suppose an answer is that "attacks" of any kind are fairly unwelcome, including:

  • Attacks on Buddhism
  • Attacks on non-Buddhism
  • Attacks on users
  • Whether well-founded or unfounded

Any "attacks" may be moderated (and hopefully all users usually moderate their own posts).

Sometimes, moderation takes the form of simple deletion (especially when a post is nothing but an attack).

Sometimes the situation is more complicated:

  • When an "attack" is mixed into otherwise-acceptable content
  • When it's not clear whether something is an "attack" or a "defense"

In these situations, moderators often handle that by moving the whole conversation off the page, into chat.

Incidentally you probably shouldn't expect me, as a moderator, to define what "Buddhism" is ... for example I'm not going to say, "What Dheeraj Verma and chang zhao say is Buddhism, and what Dhammadatu says is non-Buddhism or against Buddhism". Instead I see it as a discussion or explanation of different views, interpretations, doctrines (which I think is usually acceptable), or a public argument between users (which is less acceptable, and likely to be moved to a chat room).

I apologize if this too doesn't answer your question.

Moving arguments to a chat room is a kind of compromise solution. What you want is for moderators to "Leave important comments like mine under the answer, rather than moving them to chat". Sometimes moderators do that and sometimes not. I tried to explain in my first answer what we could do (five options), and what we actually do and why. Your "important comment" was preserved, in the chat room associated with the answer (and whose hyperlink is displayed underneath the answer), where it's available to anyone who wants to read the "extended discussion" associated with that answer, so I'm not sure I understand why you were dissatisfied.

I think it would be ideal if people would choose their language carefully and avoid making statements which can perceived (or even mis-perceived) as an attack. Thankfully people are generally successful at doing that, so moderators intervene only occasionally.

Also you are a welcome but relatively new user. I hoe you understand that, on his site and perhaps unlike on other "discussion forums", questions and answers are paramount, comments are auxiliary, discussions are tolerated, and arguments tend to get deleted (and even "extended discussions" may be moved).

  • (1) In the context of Buddhadharma, a new user or not, guest or host, it has nothing to do with "welcome" or "unwelcome". Buddhadharma is always welcome, even from guests and strangers. (2) If the answer is factually incorrect, pointing that is a necessary part of gathering quality information. (3) Hosts have no more rights to be abusive than guests. (4) If you move valuable comments to chat and think they are preserved, then you shouldn't do the same with abusive comments and preserve them. – chang zhao Aug 17 '17 at 13:03
  • If you move valuable comments to chat and think they are preserved, then you shouldn't do the same with abusive comments and preserve them. It's a compromise. I want people to be able to read questions and answers without seeing rude comments. But the chat room exists for people who want to read "extended" comments associated with an answer. Anyway I hope I've explained our (or my) existing policy. I don't think it's perfect, I think it's a compromise. I look forward to seeing whether a community consensus develops around another, new policy. – ChrisW Aug 17 '17 at 13:10
  • When you say "Also you are a welcome but relatively new user." Why is there this opposition: "welcome but new"? It reminds me of a mistake made by many moderators, everywhere, which destroyed more than one online Buddhist community. They are lax to themselves and to "old users" and allow them to break rules (perhaps out of attachment). – chang zhao Aug 17 '17 at 13:26
  • I said you're welcome because I want you to be an old friend and a good one. I said "relatively new" because you've been a member of this site for 33 days, and you're not experienced with other Stack Exchange sites, so you may not be familiar with underlying policies like We're a little bit different from other sites. Here's how: Ask questions, get answers, no distractions This site is all about getting answers. It's not a discussion forum. There's no chit-chat. and with policies (compromises) which "the community" evolves for this site. – ChrisW Aug 17 '17 at 13:36
  • You're right that I am (and other users are) "old" though, and that I'm maybe not as zealous as possible at jumping on every impolite phrase, perpetually trying to correct how other users express themselves. I wish people wouldn't get into arguments. I have a younger brother, by the way. We used to fight, apparently to get my Mum's attention. We used to have conversations like, "Mum, he hit me." "But Mum, he started it." and she'd say "I don't care who started it, you both have to stop." So. – ChrisW Aug 17 '17 at 13:44
  • Now consider the situation where one of the brothers shits around. Another brother tries to clean it, but it's not possible to clean others' shit completely. And mum doesn't care, just pushing the shit under the bed. It will be stinking there, and new brothers will shit there as well. As some Teacher said: "If you want to have a great community, don't think it will appear miraculously from nowhere. If one person in community behaves properly, all the community will behave properly; if one person neglects discipline, all the community will neglect discipline". (2) Welcome BUT new. Why BUT there – chang zhao Aug 17 '17 at 13:57
  • Now consider the situation where one of the brothers shits around. So do you want to make this personal? Are you hoping we'll sanction the person somehow, for being undisciplined, instead of just discussing how we handle content? Are you proposing a new moderation policy such as, "Any comment which includes any phrase which a moderator considers possibly-rude will be simply deleted?" – ChrisW Aug 17 '17 at 14:03
  • ..."but" between "welcome" and "new" shows there is some opposition. So why do you point that I'm new here? If a new user doesn't know something, we can point that, no need to discuss his personal characteristics. (3) "Are you proposing a new moderation policy" - I thought it is already existing policy that abusive comments should be not tolerated. Am I wrong? – chang zhao Aug 17 '17 at 14:08
  • Why BUT there If I'd left out that introduction and just written, "I hope you understand that, on his site etc." then that would have seemed more already-cast-in-stone and forbidding any input from you. You are welcome since you're able and willing to post on Meta -- that makes you part of the Community whose input helps to define policy. BUT I'd like you to understand the situation, the contraints, possibilities, policies and so that I think are operational at the moment -- then you might suggest amendments to existing policy (or accept, having better understood, the current situation). – ChrisW Aug 17 '17 at 14:08
  • If you want to know is something "possibly-rude" or actually rude, feel free to ask. When I flag abusive content I'm always ready to explain that. Bro. – chang zhao Aug 17 '17 at 14:10
  • Let's agree that "confusion, materialism & unverifiable superstition" is the kind of phrase that some people can consider "abusive", especially out of context. Where we differ, you and I, at the moment, is in how moderators handled that. Pushing all comments into a chat room was like, "If you want to talk like that you can do it somewhere else" -- which is not exactly good, but I still think may be the least bad (or the easiest) of the alternatives I identified in the first answer. – ChrisW Aug 17 '17 at 14:19
  • (1) Phrases should be taken in context. And it is abusive and has 0 usefulness. I explained that in details already. (2) Chat is not "somewhere else", it's just another part of this site. (3) If something requires to apply your discriminating wisdom, then it also trains you in discriminating wisdom, so why be lazy in that? (4) Disrespect to Buddha, Dharma and Sangha actually harms study of Buddhism. I could give you many examples of that. So just pushing abuses to chat is not proper moderation. – chang zhao Aug 17 '17 at 14:36
  • And it is abusive and has 0 usefulness Does it make any difference that Dhammadhatu probably meant it literally? Chat is not "somewhere else"The Help implies it is different: and calls it the "third place". why be lazy in that I'm not sure I follow what you're saying :-) disrespect ... actually harms study of Buddhism I suppose a lot of things actually harm it. Dhammadhattu has views, on some details, that not everyone else will agree with. Perhaps he thinks that "misunderstanding" is harmful. IMO the primary purpose of ... – ChrisW Aug 17 '17 at 14:46
  • ... comments surrounding his answer is to better understand his answer (if you want to). If you don't want to, you don't have to. But I think that part of my job as moderator is to let him answer, just as it's my job to let other people answer. – ChrisW Aug 17 '17 at 14:48
  • (1) "why be lazy in that - I'm not sure I follow what you're saying" - You said that for mods it's easier to just push content away, than see thoroughly, what should actually be deleted there. I'm saying that it's your job and it trains you in discriminating wisdom. (2) "Dhammadhatu probably meant it literally" - now I don't understand you. If you spit a lot of rude labels out of vexations, how does "speaking literally" make it acceptable? (3) We already discussed should we point that answer is factually incorrect. I already said here: without that, the quality of info suffers. Period. – chang zhao Aug 17 '17 at 14:58
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In civilized discussions, if you disagree, you should provide counter-arguments, not offenses.

I agree. When having discussions, counter-arguments should be provided, instead of offenses. Regarding validity, its also a good idea to back up ones statements with references or other sources.

The thing is, this is different on the Stack Exchange Format. This is not a discussion-format. Actually, discussions are not welcome, unless they take place in the Chat Rooms or on Meta.

This is a Q/A-site, meaning we are looking for the best answers possible, i.e. answers of the highest quality.

So I propose that moderators:

• Leave important comments like mine under the answer, rather than moving them to chat. Then users could compare such answers with actual words of Buddha, and avoid being misinformed.

The discussion was moved to chat in order to remove (and clean) it from the main page. If users want to read the conversation, there is a chat-link in the comment section, where everything is preserved.

• Delete comments with denigrating labels, rather than moving them to chat. Such unfounded attacks on Buddha's Teaching have no benefit for anyone.

Deleting the comment by @Dhammadhatu would have removed important evidence from the discussion.

If a comment is clearly denigrating or offensive, moderators will take appropriate actions. I think that the comment is not appropriate and it should be followed up by references instead of merely statements. Still, I don't think its directly offending or denigrating, its more of an unbacked personal opinion a bit on the harsh side.

Of course, if this behavior continues to be an issue, moderators will intervene. As for now, I will leave it at that.

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"everyone thinks they're usually right" - that's why the culture of discussion was developed. E.g., reasoning without criticism is OK, criticism without reasoning is not OK.

In the example you gave I think that a moderator moved the "discussion" into a chat room, where you can continue the discussion if you want to.

So far as I know, moderators have the following options:

  1. Try to persuade people to be civil
  2. Delete the whole discussion if any comment takes a turn for the worse
  3. Move the whole discussion to a chat room
  4. Delete selected comments and leave others
  5. Edit other people's comments

1. Try to persuade people to be civil

It seems to me I have done that a lot, perhaps too much -- see my previous answers to topics marked . I don't want to repeat that all here.


2. Delete the whole discussion if any comment takes a turn for the worse

I do that if there isn't much substance to the comments, if they're just like, "You're wrong." "No, you're wrong."

I also do that if comments are obsolete. e.g. if their content is edited into the answer.


3. Move the whole discussion to a chat room

Lanka did this, and I do this (and this seems to be what you're objecting to), if any part of the discussion sound so hostile that I don't want it to appear on the main site, yet it contains some content that might be interesting to someone -- either which the users might want to continue discussing, or which a future avid reader of the answer might want to read if they see ...

Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.

... at the end of the answer.

Your comment wasn't exactly deleted: it was "moved to chat".


4. Delete selected comments and leave others

This is what you're suggesting, and it's not a bad suggestion, and I often do that.

In this particular case (where Dhammadhatu is the OP) I see some disadvantage to doing that, and so option 3 ("move to chat room") might be better (I agree with and don't see a disadvantage of Lanka's decision to move it all to chat).

My general policy (a personal policy, I don't know about other moderators) is that whoever wrote the answer is allowed to have the last word in comment discussion. So if it's Dhammadhatu's answer then Dhammadhatu is allowed the last comment. See e.g. this answer where I wrote,

Commenting on someone else's answer is like being an uninvited or unexpected guest in their house:

  • Be polite, straightforward, easy to support, not too demanding
  • My visit is over when tell me it's over: don't overstay my welcome.
  • Generally I think that the other user (whose answer it is) should be allowed the last word. For example if I post a comment to ask a question, and they post a comment to answer, then that's it: end of "discussion". Sometimes I might have a follow-up question, but in general I'm hoping for a satisfactory reply.

Part of hoping for a satisfactory reply is not posting comments like, "you are wrong", because it's hard to imagine any satisfactory response to that comment.


5. Edit other people's comments

Moderators can edit anyone else's comments.

It's been very very rare that I edit someone else's comment ... and that's usually just to improve the formatting of a hyperlink.

If I edit their comments then that confuses people, which itself leads to further discussion (see e.g. here).

There are disadvantages to my editing comments:

  • It's a "hostile edit" rather than a "helpful edit" i.e. it's editing to say something which maybe the author didn't intend to say (it's not just like correcting a spelling mistake or something)
  • There's no edit history for a comment, the previous version of the comment is lost even to me
  • The edited comment appears to be from the original author, there's no indication it was edited by a moderator (so I'm "putting my words into their mouth" as the saying goes)
  • It hasn't been policy

I think that as a result of this discussion I eventually decided that I should edit people's answers to remove what I decide is hostility ... that it's OK if I edit an answer for tone, like I edit for grammar and so sometimes.

I haven't (we haven't, the community hasn't) decided (or hasn't yet decided) that it's OK for moderators to do the same to comments.

For example the comment you're objecting to, which you call "unacceptable" and an "unfounded attack on Buddhism", was,

This last comment about name-&-form is a misunderstanding. I will start a new question about this to avoid further confusion, materialism & unverifiable superstition posted about my answer. Thanks

Theoretically I could edit that to say something like,

@changzhao I think your comment about name-&-form misunderstands what I was trying to say. I will start a new question about this, to avoid further discussion about this answer. Thanks.

Some people might see that edit as an improvement, I'm not sure everyone would find that acceptable.


To conclude:

  • You might not agree with every answer posted on this site
  • If you dislike an answer, you really are welcome to post a better answer of your own
  • Discussing an answer using comment is tolerated, but is not the main purpose of the site
  • If a discussion becomes an argument, that's less tolerated and a moderator may (or should) intervene
  • To have a "discussion", both parties need to be willing
  • In this case, the author wasn't willing to edit his answer based on Dheeraj Verma's comment, and wasn't willing to discuss it further with you ... and that's OK.
  • Your starting your comment with "Actually @DheerajVerma was correct." might be an example of "piling on" so regardless of the content, maybe you didn't phrase it very tactfully. Tactically I suggest you use "I" messages ("I don't think that...") instead of allegations ("That's wrong") nor "You" messages ("You're wrong"), and or that you phrase your comment as a (polite ... open-minded?) question instead of as a statement.

If I ever have to choose between people using comments to argue, versus not having comments at all, then it's likely to be the latter and comments will be deleted.


that's why the culture of discussion was developed. E.g., reasoning without criticism is OK, criticism without reasoning is not OK.

Yeah...

The purpose of this site is question-and-answer rather than discussion. Part of the reason for (or a beneficial side-effect of) minimizing discussion is that it minimizes argument too.

So I guess we tend to emphasize "reasoning without criticism" and de-emphasize "culture of discussion".

People who post answers may, but aren't required to, discuss their answer if you comment.

  • "Tactically I suggest you use "I" messages" - yes, originally I used similar approach, "Buddha" message: "Buddha said that". But then I realized it wasn't so obvious that I was pointing at correctness of @DheerajVerma explanation. So I formulated it as confirmation of his original sentence. It's not "piling up", because his original sentence had nothing to do with arguing with Dhammadhatu. So in your answer you imagine "piling up" but totally ignore abusive nature of unfounded negative labels. Do you think it's OK if I say that your answer is total delusion & demagogy, even if it really is? – chang zhao Aug 17 '17 at 11:05
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I don't think we should treat people differently depending on attachments.

So let's examine, not automatically accept habitual oppositions, such as

  • "host" (author of an answer) and "guest" (author of a comment),
  • "new user" and "old user".

Commenting on someone else's answer is like being an uninvited or unexpected guest in their house

In the context of Buddhism, Buddhadharma is always invited. No matter if you are a guests or a stranger.

Hosts have no more rights to be abusive than guests.

If the answer is factually incorrect, pointing that is a necessary part of gathering quality information, because omitting that would mislead readers. Not all the readers are interested in discussions and go to chat, and so they would lose important information if it was just moved to chat.

If valuable comments were moved to chat and considered preserved, the same approach would preserve abusive comments. Thus abusive comments should be deleted, not moved to chat.

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