A path without a heart

The last of the heart symbols I have not seen before - it is quite beautiful. It reminded me of the ancient art of Kintsugi and also of the glass of water that Ajahn Brahm used to explain human relationships. He used it for a simile, many years ago. Is it in any of his books and if so, which one? Thanks.

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That link and the links in that link are fantastic. Thanks Bhante. I’ll need to dig deeper. I feel that I’m now beginning to understand the experiments that Instagram are doing around removing the toxicity from likes and the issues around the discourse interface where a forum has a mix of fact and opinion.

Can I disable/hide likes?
How to disable Likes - faq - Discourse Meta

Is that the plastic vs glass tumbler simile? I think that might be Ajahn Chah? I love that simile. It appears a number of times in different guises in Ajahn Brahms new book.


Thank you for the e-book. I will have look. As I remember it, the simile of a glass of water A. Brahm used long ago in Sydney, while holding a glass of water, was about human relationships - fragile and to be treated with care, like a glass of water. :pray:

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This is the first edition of this book. Before we (the editors) look at publishing in print (probably end of next year) we are taking feedback. If you have any suggestions to improve it please let me know. Obviously Ajahn Brahm has the final word.


To put it another way: We’re stuck with them unless Admin decides otherwise. This is a matter to refer to @helpdesk-dd.

Meanwhile, we’re stuck with them. Would you feel more comfortable with something like
a :blowfish: or a :fish: ? Personally, I don’t mind the hearts. It’s only a symbol. The ambiguity in meaning is a good thing imho; they’re great to use when a post shouldn’t be ignored but doesn’t warrant applause. I can think that I’ve indicated that I’ve read your post and you can think that I really admired it. A win-win situation and no harsh words spilt: what could be better?

Furthermore, observing my own reactions to the presence/absence of hearts is a useful way of monitoring my attachment to ego. … So shouldn’t we really be grateful to all the hearts as they help us step-by-step along the path to nibbāna?



As I said to Dana

This is not about a quick fix for something I don’t like. I actually quite like the hearts. Both giving and receiving. I don’t really have a reasoned position yet, but I do have an intuitive uneasy feeling about their implementation on DD. It’s more about creating systems that are as harmless to the users as possible (that used to be part of my job ‘back in the day’, though the standard was pretty low - if the design didn’t result in a member of the public being maimed or killed, I was chuffed).

So think of it more like we’re in the 1960’s-70’s in a public building. Half the people are smoking away quite happily and even the non smokers have to inhale second hand smoke. Some people like smoking (that would’ve been me!), some don’t. Some say it’s healthy, some say it is unhealthy. Then the science starts to become clear that smoking is in fact a problem to public health. Now do we just allow everyone to carry on smoking in that public space as before? Or do we try something else? Obviously it would be lovely if we could detoxify cigarettes, and hopefully we (those who run social media sites) can do that with likes. This is what Instagram (Facebook) are investigating at the moment. For example, in certain territories they still have the like button, but only the individual who has posted can see the count of likes. I guess in time we’ll see what the outcome of these experiments are.

So, the symbol is not the problem. It’s the functionality. It’s a really complex topic including the psychology of social interactions on discussion boards, which I’m only vaguely getting to grips with at the moment (see the links within the link that Bhante provided in his last post as a starting point if you’re interested)

Yes, that is very true. I haven’t read the terms and conditions of the forum since I signed up some time ago, but I don’t think that we restrict DD to only practicing Buddhists with a decent baseline degree of mindfulness? It’s more of a public forum for those interested in the EBT’s isn’t it?

I hope you get where I’m coming from now. I’m not looking for an instant fix, I’m just putting the issue on the table and also investigating what it will mean for my own design decisions should I come to offer a social media platform for other Buddhist projects that I’m engaged with.

I think it’s just a little bit more dukkha, and that a huge amount of energy is going into discussing it, that “fixing” the “problem” could only be a partial fix, that if I still pursued my academic study of conversational interaction it would provide great material for analysis (but anything I discovered would be at best partial), so personally for me it’s an issue that has arisen and that will slip away.

However, as a moderator I’m very happy to see Forum members raising and discussing matters that concern them about the Forum. :pray:

Did you miss the banner that was displayed soon after the beginning of Vassa? It drew everybody’s attention to the publication of posts in this thread. Please read through them Stu.

That’s fair enough. Nobody needed to reply at all. I would’ve got the message. It takes two to make a discussion I guess?

As I suggested in the opening post…

It’s much harder to stop an online discussion without the single click (heart) indicator though. That’s something I’ve learnt so far with this experiment of removing the likes. “You never really know something until it’s gone” the frog said to the fish about water when the fish asked the frog about dry land.

Yes. I know that you have skills in this area and I think that you would be very valuable in making this wonderful forum the best it could possibly be in promoting healthy speech when the time comes for redesign.

As all things do. One day our hearts and suttacentral and all the Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha will be gone. What a great teaching Gillian. Thank you.

Thank you for your efforts, you and all the moderators have made this forum such a wonderful environment :pray:

I will


I think the worst thing about having “heart buttons” is that is creates a dynamic where everyone is pretty much only willing to speak the things which everyone wants to hear. Everyone is pressured into becoming a yes-man (or yes-woman, yes-person, yes-whatever) to the group dynamic, to re-inforcing the status quo. Anyone who has an unpopular opinion, even though perhaps true, and beneficial (spoken with a pure heart, spoken at the right time, spoken gently, etc), will be eventually pushed away from the group.

As long as the status quo is in good shape, then the heart system is a good thing. But whenever the status quo is in bad shape, good luck changing it! The system works against such people who would like to see progressive change of some kind, away from the status quo.


I must admit, I have never thought / made an importance of the like button before I read this post.
For myself: I push this button when something REALLY resonates with me. That doesn’t mean that I don’t like other posts but I am just not pushing this button all the time.
When I see that for example 1500 people read a post I am not convinced that only 5 people liked this post. Those 5, I think, just “made the effort” to push the button.
I personally, don’t feel more or less valued through a “like”. I write my opinion and thoughts and hope that it is of value for some people here.
We are all different but have the same beliefs. We just approach it different.

As for other platforms. I only use FB (Buddhism and Vegan stuff) and WhatsApp (family). I honestly get a heartache when people aggressively post about the same thing over and over again, every 5 minutes and then discussions and attitude start to build up…Not on Earth would I support this with any kind of button.

This forum has a purpose and to give a :heart: now and then, is for me just what it is: lovely.


I’m not far into my experiment (of “renouncing” the like buttons and like counts), and I shouldn’t be sharing interim results :wink: , but I must say that I’m enjoying the forum more. It feels like a much better fit for me.

One thing that I really wasn’t expecting is that I feel much more gratitude for other members of this forum since simplifying the experience of interacting with you all. :pray: We’ll see how this progresses over the coming months.

I have other experiments planned for myself, such as reintroducing giving likes, but not having the like counts and ideally I’d like to run an experiment to see likes on my own posts, but not others. I hope my IT skills are up to it. :slight_smile:

I started building websites a few years ago in my spare time; before that I knew next to nothing about them. But I’ve learnt that the UI/UX (User Interface / User Experience) is much more crucial to the way that I feel and learn when I use them than I ever thought (thank you @Shivam your knowledge and help have been enormously useful). UI/UX covers all sorts disciplines from psychology to computer science, and just like architecture and design in the real world influences individual and community behaviour, UI/UX does this in the online world.

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I think that maybe this approach that we agreed on is not supported in MN70? What do you think @Gillian ?

7.1“Haven’t you known me to teach the Dhamma like this: ‘When someone feels this kind of pleasant feeling, unskillful qualities grow and skillful qualities decline. But when someone feels that kind of pleasant feeling, unskillful qualities decline and skillful qualities grow. When someone feels this kind of painful feeling, unskillful qualities grow and skillful qualities decline. But when someone feels that kind of painful feeling, unskillful qualities decline and skillful qualities grow. When someone feels this kind of neutral feeling, unskillful qualities grow and skillful qualities decline. But when someone feels that kind of neutral feeling, unskillful qualities decline and skillful qualities grow’?”

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I would think that in both circumstances the ideal that’s being reached for is a position of equanimity and that therefore they are congruent. … That’s assuming that the reader isn’t monitoring their reactions to hearts with some other goal in mind.

Yes. I find it all quite difficult really. :frowning: These worldly winds are very slippery for me.

As part of this experiment, viewers could still see and use the dislike button. But because the count was not visible to them, we found that they were less likely to target a video’s dislike button to drive up the count. In short, our experiment data showed a reduction in dislike attacking behavior1. We also heard directly from smaller creators and those just getting started that they are unfairly targeted by this behavior — and our experiment confirmed that this does occur at a higher proportion on smaller channels.

Based on what we learned, we’re making the dislike counts private across YouTube, but the dislike button is not going away. This change will start gradually rolling out today.


Thanks for directing attention to this thorn.

I share this sentiment.

These functions, among other things, drive user engagement by engaging the reward circuitry and are psychologically disturbing in many ways but so is talking to people in person…

I’ve had a play over the last few months and I very much like not having hearts in the interface.

I also wrote another little extension call ‘no part’ which suspends my ability to participate in the forum - much like signing out, but it allows the system to still record what I have read and my place in threads.

My latest experiment - no names - banishes all usernames and avatars from the interface. This way I am assured of responding to the message, not the person. We’ll see how it goes. My interface looks like this now:

Of course I now run the risk of arguing with myself :slight_smile:


What if the system implements a mechanism like a “reset”?

The hearts still serve their original purpose by telling us that a certain post has received more feedbacks than other posts from other people. But in order to remove the attachment to the number of received hearts, that number will be reset and frozen to zero after a certain period like 3-4 weeks. The author can have for himself a private panel where he can see which post received the most feedback during certain period.

Well that was a disaster no names was. I could barely follow the conversation. A step too far.

But I’m still going to keep using no heart (and no part when I feel I need a restraining hand on my ability to respond).

I’m wondering, why is that important information to have?

I’m thinking that just because something is popular, doesn’t make it wholesome, or even true. And the opposite of course goes for posts that don’t get much feedback. What is this telling us about the content that is important?

Thinking about this, I guess what might be useful is a feedback button from teachers which carries more weight depending on the number of vassa’s they have served? But that seems like it would be loading the monastics with a job they don’t need.


Thanks for sharing your experiments :smiley: :pray:

It’s so great to get deeper understanding about what shapes and influences our experience of the world … Perhaps no perfect ‘solution’, but awareness and mindfulness are pretty useful for navigation :eyes:

Wishing you a lovely 2022 :slight_smile: