Censorship on D&D

this was a matter of time until this place would become another unreasonably policed forum, of which i’ve been fearful all along and a few months ago started sensing that’s what indeed was looming

today i received the private message below

since i don’t believe in secrecy in matters concerning community and relationship between the authorities (the moderators in this case) and the public, i share it openly

(unfortunately since the moderators started doing heavy policing, they and the rest of the users found themselves figuratively on the opposite sides of the barricade, just like on any such forum on the Web, it’s not any longer in the spirit of comradery and mutual trust i felt first couple of years on this forum)

[details=Warning: Discussion of rebirth, don’t do it at home]
so provided you came to the Dhamma in order to alleviate or eradicate suffering and considering that you don’t believe in rebirth, your response still doesn’t give an answer as to why you don’t commit suicide to escape suffering through death for good, it can be done at this very moment, why wait? [/details]

instead of being first asked to reword my comment, which i would have most likely agreed to, i was placed before a fact of it being butchered, still thank you for bringing this to my attention

now what i would be interested to know is how much this act of the moderators is different from the action of the Russian government taken against the content of a Russian Theravadin website as described in this post

granted that i’m no Buddha and even no Canon commentator, whos words were found harmful by Russian censor authority, just like in that case my the words were taken out of context because just like in that case i wasn’t advocating for suicide

if anything the commentator words should have been way more harmful than mine thanks to his status of authority

this is the type of absurdity which may result from an inherent lack of respect for the right of free speech and intelligence of the users, if likeness to Russian oppressive internal policies is any compliment to the way this forum NOW operates, here it is, congrats

this post has all the chances of being deleted by the administration and/or the moderators farther away from the eyesight of other users so it doesn’t muddy an already turbid waters as is usually done on other forums, because authorities are beyond criticism and reproach, but i propose a candid discussion instead

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It’s fine for you to raise this issue here and it would be good to talk about it further.
However seeing as you seem to acknowledge the issues with your initial post, can I first ask you to please remove the copy of your post here? I think it would sufficiently communicate your message to paraphrase the original text to something as simple as ‘I wrote about suicide’.


i don’t, i acknowledge my responsiveness to requests from moderators if i find them worth of being respected

ironically you seem to still insist on censorship in the thread about unacceptability of censorship

to be able to make an informed judgement on this particular case users who may participate in the discussion need to have the subject of controversy ready

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Okay. Would you like to explain the reason why you think the statement was not worthy of moderation, or if you like censorship?

I don’t believe censorship is all wrong. Our unenlightened minds are still full of both good and bad things, and both good and bad have the potential to come out of our mouths. Mindfulness, wise contemplation along with right effort is what helps to ‘censor’ the less skillful and nurture the wholesome

P.s. Okay, re: the post, I compromise with you for now. (sorry about the formatting, it was the only way I could get it to work)


of moderation it may have been worthy in the form of a disclaimer appended to the message or a request of rewording, in hindsight, but it was blatantly censored

can you explain why you did it THIS way, which isn’t friendly and respectable to a user?

censorship is dead wrong when it’s unreasonable, but since people engaged in it aren’t necessarily wiser than those whom the censor, it’s best to leave it alone altogether, because it often results in excesses exactly due to being driven by ‘unenlightened minds’

here the same argument as the one put up against death penalty is in order, it’s best to leave everything uncensored than to accidentally violate someone’s right of free speech
i’m more in favor of community policing than the one done by a select few as if they were superior

[quote=“Cara, post:5, topic:5115”]
Mindfulness, wise contemplation along with right effort is what helps to ‘censor’ the less skillful and nurture the wholesome[/quote]

indeed, and this is to be done by the users themselves at their own pace and will, not through censorship imposed from outside

from the Dhammic perspective free speech isn’t of course be all and end all, but i don’t think the principle of the Right speech should be harnessed to justify censorship, ‘Dhamma police’ would be an ugly idea, because Dhamma isn’t Shariah

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I can understand that you felt upset that your post was changed without warning. Ideally we try to avoid this as much as possible because it is upsetting. But given the highly sensitive nature of the material posted, we believed we needed to act as quickly as possible, which meant not being able to give you warning.


Suicide triggering and contagion are real phenomena that I have seen at play in my own community. They are very real and very serious. I know you might have thought your comment was insignificant and off hand, but you don’t know how others will process it.

So yes, perhaps it looked like an overreaction. But we did what we thought we needed to do to keep this community safe and welcome for everyone. I understand some aspect of that hurt you, but that was certainly not our intention.

We are not perfect. And we couldn’t make the perfect decision. The way that we moderate is not going to live up to ‘everyone’s expectations’. That’s impossible. We’re here to listen to your reasonable complaints or feedback. But ultimately we have to do what we believe is right for the community overall, which may not be what each individual member of the community believes is right. But the very act of being here in this community means agreeing to be moderated, it doesn’t matter if it’s by me or them or someone else.

Eventually something’s going to jar and not go right. I think learning how to deal with that (for all of us) is what helps to make a better community.


you really believe someone might commit suicide because of this piece of text or put it up on a placard to incite for suicide, before it’s removed, like REALLY? such a belief would be preposterous

[quote=“Cara, post:7, topic:5115”]
I know you might have thought your comment was insignificant and off hand, but you don’t know how others will process it.[/quote]

others have their own intellect or lack thereof, i could consider it a problem if Tuvok, whom i was speaking to, would have misinterpreted it, but wanting me to take into consideration any possible unstable person in the entire universe is ridiculous, nobody is responsible for other people whom they’re not in direct contact with

[quote=“Cara, post:7, topic:5115”]
We are not perfect. And we couldn’t make the perfect decision. The way that we moderate is not going to live up to ‘everyone’s expectations’. [/quote]

that’s not an excuse, since i trust in your intelligence to me its obvious that your decision was thought out and deliberate, as you yourself admit a few lines further below, and that’s exactly what’s alarming

[quote=“Cara, post:7, topic:5115”]
But the very act of being here in this community means agreeing to be moderated, it doesn’t matter if it’s by me or them or someone else. [/quote]

when i first came here i didn’t notice any moderation and felt at ease, THAT’s the kind of moderation i was comfortable with, but its mode has tangibly changed for the worse to the point of creating a case i’m bringing up here, this mode of moderation i never agreed to


but since i don’t feel you’re going to temper the moderation fervor because the admins are perhaps OK with this excessiveness, i will have to do some reconsideration

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Thanks for the feedback LXNDR.

Seeing as we’re into quoting from things I’ve written in a private massage today, here is a quote from the message I wrote when I was first invited to join the moderation team:

Despite, coming from this non-interventionist orientation, I’m very comfortable with the action we took and the way in which we did it. There was an assessment that there was a reasonable potential for harm and we used the method to most quickly minimise that potential and then notified LXNDR as to what we’d done thus enabling him to amongst other things, open this thread.

I’m very open to a discussion on the ins-and-outs of censorship and freedom of speech, but I must admit to finding it intriguing that the response here seems to pause only on the ‘absurdity’ of being unjustly curtailed, rather than setting out, for example, how there was a misperception of potential for harm, or even better, illustrating how the comments in question conformed to right speech (right time, true, gentle, meaningful, with a mind of loving-kindness).


this should have been the first stage of moderation, which the moderators team passed over to directly proceed to the second stage, the sense of authority must be exhilarating

guys i feel you’re on a way towards acting as Dhamma police, and signs of it i noticed some time earlier in one of the Brenna’s warning posts, but then i elected not to voice my concern in hopes it was just her personal attitude, and so a trivial matter, now i see it was not

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As someone who is not a moderator, I prefer to let the moderators do their job, and only offer support when asked. But I would like to add here, surely any reasonable person can see the difference between the calm, polite, and reasonable posts by the moderators here, and the loud, shouty voice you are using. Tone it down, be more polite, and people will be more inclined to listen to your arguments.


i will

how unfortunate

I agree with the moderation. In fact, I personally would suggest LXNDR ask yourself why you are interested in Buddhism if you have never experienced suffering in this life that you wish to alleviate without suicide. The very quest to overcome suffering is the quest to “live” rather than to die. This is why the Buddhist way of life is called ‘The Holy Life’.

The Path works. I can personally attest to this. There is no reason for anyone to commit suicide & there is no reason to raise suicide as a possible alternative.

Whether a person believes in rebirth or not, the noble path works to alleviate & overcome suffering. In this faith/trust should be placed.

With metta :buddha:



Despite our differences from time to time, I do say I like most of your posts and you bring up a lot of good points. It would be a shame for you to quit contributing here.

But suggesting suicide in the way you did is crossing a line that should not be crossed. The mature thing to do is apologize. Only then is it proper to discuss censorship.



I can understand why your original statement was made. Considering the debate you were engaged in, it actually made sense on a logical/rhetorical level.

I have just finished speaking to someone who works regularly and often with people who are at risk of suicide and self-harm…a Mental Health Professional.

He carefully read your original statement.

He is also a practising Buddhist. He agreed with me that your statement made sense within the wider context of your argument and in terms of the point you were trying to make.

He also stated that someone who is at risk of suicide, may see this as an incentive to make an attempt.

“Duty of care” is perhaps not a phrase one would generally associate with the duties of a moderator! Yet, this is precisely the phrase that comes to my mind when considering this situation.

Consider that Buddhist communities, online and not online, attract those who are in dire straits. We were just thinking of them. That’s all.

We weren’t thinking of censorship or freedoms curtailed or anything like that. But the matter was considered as carefully as it could have been, from the position of having a duty of care for the vulnerable.

And so, the following just about sums it up.

We’ve read your posts often enough to know that you would never intentionally incite anyone to self harm of any kind. Of course we know that. We’re not questioning your good intentions or your argument.

We’re just saying we had to act fast. Just in case…

LXNDR, sometimes when I feel as upset as this, I sometimes remember to walk away for a couple of days. Then come back when I’m calmer and then type. It’s okay if you got upset, felt hurt or angry. But just wait a bit. Read this again. Then respond if you wish to. Wishing you all the best.

With much metta


Two days without Internet, coming back to the D&D forums, and wham! welcome back Vstakan :scream:

:disappointed: I feel sad that you say this.

I’m still willing to discuss these issues in a calm and reasonable manner if anyone else is willing.

My impression is that people who have never lived in societies where censorship is not widely implemented widely undervalue its effect on the openness and vibrance of healthy intellectual discourse. Having lived in Russia and studying now at a Western university, I can assure you nothing makes the thought as rigid and inert quite as efficiently as censorship. It all starts with prohibiting arguments, proceeds to prohibiting views and ends with enshrining a full-blown system of sacrosanct orthodox doctrine no-one believes in, but everyone abides by its rules.

Of course, in one or another form censorship exists everywhere and is most likely unavoidable, however the way it is carried out is very different. Having an industry ethics board is a bit different from having a top-down oriented authority-based censorship commitee. Hiding a possibly harmful turn of phrase and deleting it altogether are also a bit different. Finally, adding ‘I don’t think suicide is advisable, if you feel like killing yourself please contact a therapist’ in brackets or as a footnote even in a print or online edition of the Godhika Sutta is a form of self-control that can be seen under some viewpoints as a form of censorships, but it is still something that I personally would be okay with. In other words, when censorship is a matter of negotiation between the parties concerned and is not done in form of a decree issued down from high above, if it is a dialogue, it can work out - but then again, is it censorship at all if it is dialogical? Otherwise, it is pure poison for thought.

I mean, should we censor discussions of the Old Testament full of genocide and infanticide and incest and all the good stuff? Should we censor my previous sentence because I called genocide and infanticide ‘good stuff’? Once it starts, one can hardly know where to stop.

I don’t really like the way LXNDR handled the issue, I think that maybe the anger got the better of him, but I am very worried by the ‘first delete then talk’ approach to the moderation exhibited in that particular case and I hope that it will not be adopted as a guideline, that it was a case of mutual overreaction, and both sides will acknowledge it and reach a compromise, because otherwise it would spell out a slow painful death of intellectual exchange here. Sure, worrying about the psychological state of people reading the forums is a valid concern, but there are other ways of solving the problems apart from burning it all with fire and scattering the ashes. I love our mod team and appreciate their tremendous effort to keep these forums a better place, I just would like to mildly warn them not to toy with censorship. If you silence the thought - not emotions or ad hominem attacks, but thought - it will make the heart silent, but not in a noble way.


I agree that this is not the right approach. Getting one’s posts deleted outright is insulting. A better approach would have been to use the spoiler function—not exactly sure what it’s called here, but it’s what was done in this thread’s OP: hiding the offending material under a warning/disclaimer that must be clicked to view the material.


Thanks, this is a very valuable perspective.


To be fair, I think the opposite is also true. People who have never felt how oppresive censorship may be will underestimate its destructive force as well :sweat: