I see that the latest question on the site (i.e. Buddhist PHP-coders? Help needed for Rohingya crisis site) is on hold, sort of banned.

One can't even add a comment; but another comment, "Is this going to be another Anti-myanmar site?", was allowed. So if we don't have 50 reps we cannot express anything?

I wouldn't know how to respond to this question but can't it be related to Buddhist practice somehow?

1 Answer 1


thanks for posting here on meta.

I think you're asking two questions:

  • Why can't I post a comment?
  • Why was the question off-topic?

Ideally this site is for Questions and Answers, not for discussions and conversations.

Comments can lead to discussions, even to people arguing with other, getting angry, trolling, and so on, all counter-productive.

But comments can be helpful or necessary, e.g. to ask for or to suggest some clarification to an answer or a question.

For that reason, the stack exchange site/software allows (all) users to post comments, but only after they have acquired a little experience of what the social conventions are, how people are expected to use the site, what kinds of comments are considered good and bad, and so on.

The "reputation" system is used as a measure of a user's experience with the site: when you post questions and answers and people up-vote your posts, that's evidence that you are using (and have been using) the site properly. Conversely if you have no reputation there's no evidence that you know how people are expected to use the site.

"Reputation" is not a perfect measure of whether a user is experienced and well-behaved ... but it's something -- see also What is reputation? How do I earn (and lose) it?

With increasing reputation you automatically gain increasing Privileges.

The privilege that will let you Comment Everywhere is given when the reputation is 50 (which isn't very high). And you can already post on Meta instead (as you have).

Even so, comments are troublesome. I think it's mostly because of comments that "moderators" have to exist, i.e. moderators intervene when users start abusing comments, being rude to each other and so on.

You can kind of see that by looking at how many topics are on Meta, tagged .

I recently posted a topic What are comments underneath answers for? to try to clarify how I expect that comments underneath answers should be used. It's kind of long -- either too long, or not even long enough, I'm not sure which -- more proof that it's a complicated topic.

I don't think there's a similar meta-topic about comments under questions, but they're generally simpler. Comments under questions should generally be:

  • I don't understand this question, what are you asking?
  • I don't approve of this question, don't we agree it ought to be closed?
  • See also [link to another topic], which is related to this question.

As for why the question was considered off-topic, this site (Buddhism.SE) is already (compared with other Stack Exchange sites) very permissive about what kinds of questions it allows -- see Moderation policies for Questions for details.

Even so, some questions would be considered off-topic, even if they mention the word "Buddhist"; for example:

  • Thailand is a Buddhist country. I'd like to visit. Which airline has the cheapest fares from North America?

So, some questions are off-topic.

Why was this question off-topic?

Perhaps there are several underlying, unspoken reasons (it may be a bit spammy or a bit scammy, we don't know who posted it, whether they're competent). Those reasons would be subjective, maybe offensive, arguable, if they were given as reasons -- but it's straightforward (an easy decision) to say it's off-topic -- it appears to be a question about programming, not about Buddhism.

There are (several) other Stack Exchange sites related to programming (i.e. software development) -- including stackoverflow, webapps, softwareengineering, etc. Theoretically we might suggest the question be posted there instead. However the question (if I may say so at the risk of being rude) is not good enough to post on other sites -- because the person who posted it isn't a PHP developer, and (as it says) it's a question which is asking for a PHP developer to volunteer their time (to do some PHP software development).

You ask whether it can be "related to Buddhist practice somehow". I suppose that if there are Buddhist PHP developers, they might choose to practice Buddhism by doing this kind of volunteer work. This isn't really a proper site to "fish" for them though; and if a PHP developer did want to do that specific programming work (i.e. develop a web site with an online petition) IMO they could already have done it by themselves, or found existing organisations (people) they could work with.

I personally believe that part of what makes a site useful is what it isn't, as well as what it is. For example, what makes a car useful is that it's not a bathtub. Similarly, part of what makes this site useful is that it's not a place where people post requests for material help, for labour, publicity, etc. I imagine there are other sites on the internet where the post would be more on-topic than it is here.

I don't want to have to say that it's a bad question, or an ignoble cause, nor criticise the person who posted it. It's just "not on-topic" for this site (which, is for Q+A about Buddhism).

Another thing I note is that the Tour says,

With your help, we're working together to build a library of detailed answers to every question about Buddhist philosophy, teaching, and practice.

Part of what makes this an unsuitable question is that it's ephemeral, not timeless (even if it is urgent and important). One of the reasons why Stack Exchange doesn't like "What kind of X shall I buy?" question is that the "right answers" change from year to year, i.e. the answers go out of date, become obsolete.

Note too the the question wasn't only "banned" by moderators:

  • Four downvotes, no upvotes (so a score of -4)
  • Two other users voted to close it, before a third (moderator) agreed with that decision

I think that's an example of "the community" (i.e. the regular users of the site) voting to agree (come to consensus about) what's on-topic and off-topic on the site.

  • 1
    Thank you for making things clearer. As the question is related, inappropriately you convinced me, to a major but delicate issue which nontheless concerns and the practice and the teachings of Buddhisme Mar 20, 2018 at 15:41
  • The "Rohingya" have been mentioned on the discussion site of SuttaCentral (for example). And this exact question was asked and answered there (and it is still open if e.g. you want to discuss it there).
    – ChrisW Mod
    Mar 20, 2018 at 15:50

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