I asked the question: "How do we know complete liberation from dukkha is possible?" a few hours ago. On it, I've seen two answers that look (at least to me) as if they are answering by questioning my motivation for asking in the first place.

Is that kind of answers acceptable?

As far as I know, this site is not a place for preaching, and this kind of answers seems like a kind of indirect preach (because I don't feel that such questions are asked to make more precise and clear the OP).

I'm not saying that the advice given isn't useful or well-intended, because I think it is: under buddhist criteria, letting go is a really good advice, instead of mere "brain-masturbation" about philosophical questions that could only lead to vexation and proliferation. I agree on that.

But in my specific post, I'm not asking for advice for myself. If the ones advicing (if that's what they are doing in their answers, and if I'm misunderstanding) want to know about purpose of my question: I was trying to gain some perspective on the issue mentioned in the OP in order to have better informed answers in the future, specifically for people with inclination for philosophical discussion. If I were to say to him "let go, stop that brain-masturbation" to his question (on my justification on my conviction on Nibbana), that would not help him, or could even be counterproductive.

I know the above given information about my motivation is irrelevant and beyond the point of this general question on meta. I just wanted to inform you.

What should be done in these cases? Should this kind of answers be critized, discouraged and/or downvoted? Are they ok and they are allowed as one of the recommended ways to answer a question? Am I misunderstading those answers?

I'd appreciate any indication on this matter.

Thanks in advance for your time!

  • Very fine questions; perhaps to clarify, facts are simply facts, & requiring documentation for puposes other than for additional research is might be confrontational/ argumentative: eg, then the references get challenged etc etc; Buddhism is based on (ostensibly) empirically obtained facts & sincere objective sharing of those facts, so, engaging with presentations of what may be inferred as confrontational/ argumentative, eg downvoting, could be contrary to The Noble Eightfold Path: maybe simply ignore such posts, and simply notvote them, that's also the mangement technique of
    – M H
    Commented Sep 27, 2020 at 3:41
  • 1
    ...positive reinforcement, or simply don'treward such behaviours, norpunish it either; making a mild differing comment might be ok though, so that tacit agreement wouldn't be construed: yet simply nonupvotes is fairly clear, since votes are simply +/- increments which lack content, and add little or nothing to the information presented, just are inconsistent possible indication of popularity, since they're sporadic & anonymous; votes don't contribute any facts to do with the subject, merely how much it's 'liked': maybe, ask someone who Knows the Answer, but again, they can be challenged etc
    – M H
    Commented Sep 27, 2020 at 3:50
  • 2
    @MH Please try to post questions and answers instead of comments.
    – ChrisW Mod
    Commented Sep 27, 2020 at 10:29

2 Answers 2


I suppose our site-specific policy which most clearly matches this case is Answers vs Advice which I summarise as,

  • 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.

This was very popular policy so "we" (users who answer questions here) should try to implement it.

As a moderator however I have been reluctant to enforce it unilaterally (i.e. by deciding by myself to delete "answers" which seem to offer advice like this). My reluctance is for several reasons:

  • Moderators aren't supposed to be a judge of whether an answer is correct
  • The canon itself (e.g. sutta) sometimes gives this kind of advice instead of trying to answer directly (as you mentioned in the OP about "vexation" etc.), for example in MN 2 -- so IMO that is or might be seen as a canonical answer or type of answer for certain types of question
  • I see my role as moderator as trying to let the site run, to let people ask and answer questions, with a minimum of hostility, ill-feeling, argument. I think sometimes it's easier to ignore (or tolerate, overlook) what you might consider to be a not-very-satisfying non-answer, than it would be to censor/delete that answer and then justify or explain why you did that. My experience has been that if someone's answer is deleted even once they may not accept that willingly, and carry a grudge for months etc.
  • Sometimes I too wonder why a user is asking a question, in case that helps to understand what they're asking. Although, asking the user, "What and why are you asking?" ought to be a comment under the question, it's not an answer.

The one time I will act to delete that kind of answer unilaterally is when it's based on sectarianism, for example an answer like, "You shouldn't ask a question about Mahayana doctrine because only Theravada doctrine is true" or vice versa.

Given that I sometimes (or often) don't choose to enforce this as a policy:

  • Perhaps another moderator will
  • I'm more inclined to delete an answer if the community downvotes it -- see the answers to Moderating answers which don't answer the question? -- in any case if you think an answer isn't useful then you as a user should downvote it
  • The person who asked the question is especially able to decide whether their question was answered, whether they found an answer useful or not useful. If something isn't an answer to your question then you might try to flag it for moderator's attention, as well as downvoting it, if you do then perhaps then I will reconsider whether to delete it.

Young householder,

If being no aware of own intention and drive for a question, it's actually a matter of compassion if someone would point on looking at satipaṭṭhāna first.

As for reaction: a fool would be annoyed, a wise not even grateful but feeling obligated and serves such by investigation of the hint.

A bad person seeks even after trying to mobbing in inhonest polite hidden ways.

So what would one likes is dwelling place and associate?

Over all a naive and inattentive question, as moderators here usually judge in thinking to trace certain intention, kinds of what they know and bear within themselves.

But again, that's all not a "we" stuff, for such is just in use for gaining favors, and commonists.

Hopefully a motivation to quests ones intention, way and purpose in regard of whether actually liberal or simply more or lesser very selfish motivated, whether it's a pure or heavy defiled approach, good to feel ashamed about it as minimum.

But how ever "you and yours" like to straighten views, ways, trade, and effects.

And good if stopping brain-mastubation, since it causes pain, sure not easy to get ride of such habit but possible. Precepts and what is good and bad, are simple.

[Note that this isn't given for stacks, exchange, other world-binding trades and entertainment for bored consumer, but for releas from this wheel]

  • 3
    Your implying that asking a question is like masturbation wasn't very polite -- see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wanker ("in modern usage it is usually a general term of contempt").
    – ChrisW Mod
    Commented Sep 27, 2020 at 10:11
  • @SamanaJohann Thanks, bhante, for your advice. As I said, I agree with it, and I think this attitude of distinguishing proliferative thoughts from wholesome thoughts has ripen good fruits, so I'm thankful for the remainder. But my post here on Meta was for trying to understand what to do with answers that do not address the question (in this case, by advicing the OP). Thanks for your kind words. Have a wonderful day. Commented Sep 27, 2020 at 11:06
  • See, good Brain, the whole purpose is liberation. All those arguments here desire to grasp things, householding, and you wouldn't know if using another pattern as usuall, your friend woukd then understand actually. It's like to smokers give each other advices, or two brain-mastubator. Then, taking the argumentation in regard of motivation... dping so, what would be the different? No need to fall into the limited mind pattern of the group here, taking it as stackujold, actually less care about other in regard of real problems.
    – user11235
    Commented Sep 28, 2020 at 0:40
  • And you havn't to do anything with answers. Take them to heart or "throw" them away. It's total foolish to think one needs to do kind of protector, police, especially if by oneself not really beyond corrption.
    – user11235
    Commented Sep 28, 2020 at 0:43
  • @SamanaJohann I understand. However, I differ on the rol of this "brain-masturbation". The Buddha and his disciples (at least as depicted in the suttas I've read so far) seem very skillful in the art of discussion and argumentation, and a lot of path-seekers became Dhamma-followers precisely because of the bhikkhus (the Buddha included) disposition on getting involved in such conversations, and adapting the forms of talking and of giving arguments according to the intelectual abilities of the listener. There lies the value, I think, of being able to respond to such kind of discussions. Commented Sep 28, 2020 at 13:59
  • Sometimes one needs to use words which denote the matter as it is, since philosophying would been seen as "ugly addition" with not even a real conter-part. Maybe better to think about the meaning of brain-mastubation, German 'Hirnwixen', which is even more effective. It's not good to associate with 'mastubator' if wishing to abound a habit (getting lost in thoughts and doubt), good Brian. Good Brain is actually very smart and has possibilities. It got right on the track...toward release, didn't it. How does it feel?
    – user11235
    Commented Oct 1, 2020 at 12:40

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