We’ve been having a look at our community guidelines in effort to help us maintain this forum as a friendly space for Dhamma discussion. We’ve come up with a revised draft and are keen to get input from the community before finalising the update.
To keep things neat and tidy, you’ll find our working draft in the drop down box labelled “Community guidelines revision draft” below and we warmly welcome you to have a read through and give us your feedback and suggestions.
To keep the process orderly, we’ve draw up a few practical, supporting parameters to contain the discussion:
- A 7-day time cap has been put on this thread after which it will automatically be closed.
- The poll below can be used to express general support or disapproval for the revision.
- We’re really looking forward to as much community participation as possible, but also want to remain focused, so when commenting please give clear, concise, and direct suggestions of how you think guidelines could be improved rather than vague criticism.
- All off-topic and trolling posts will be removed.
- All (on-topic) comments will be considered, but please note they may not end up in the final draft - we’re eager to have the guidelines represent the community at large, but at the same time definitive decisions have to be made.
Community guidelines revision draft
Please treat this forum with the same respect shown in a temple. We, too, are a community spiritual center — a space to share Dhamma ideas, understandings and questions, where the practice of Right Speech underpins all conversation.
The main theme of this site is Early Buddhism. We are interested in discussing early Buddhist texts, their meaning and historical context, how these teachings evolve and relate to later traditions, and how they may be applied in the present day. If you’re interested in more general Buddhist discussion, there are plenty of other great forums out there.
We are delighted to have you participate in this forum, but if you choose to do so please adhere to the simple principles given in these guidelines. They are intended as an aid to help you safeguard this community and keep the forum a kind, supportive, and enriching place for Dhamma discourse.
##Improve the discussion
Please help to make this a joyful place for discussion by improving the discussion in any way, however small. If you are not sure your post adds to the conversation, reflect over what you want to say and how you want to say it. You can always contribute later.
One way to improve the discussion is by discovering ones that are already happening. Please spend some time browsing the topics here before replying or starting your own, and you’ll have a better chance of meeting others who share your interests.
##Be agreeable, especially when you disagree
You may wish to respond to something by disagreeing with it. That’s fine: the Buddha said we should praise what should be praised, and criticize what should be criticized. But remember the advice of the Araṇavibhaṅga Sutta: criticize ideas, not people.
- Ad hominem attacks.
- Responding to a post’s tone instead of its actual content.
- Knee-jerk contradiction.
- Passive-aggressive tactics.
- Psycho-analysing other commenters.
- Threatening people with kammic retribution!
Instead, consider first the things that should be reflected on before criticizing another (from MN 21 Kakacūpama Sutta, and Vinaya Kd 19.5.2):
I will speak at a right time, not at a wrong time; I will speak about what is true, not about what is not true; I will speak with gentleness, not with harshness; I will speak about what is meaningful, not about what is not meaningful; I will speak with a mind of loving-kindness, not with inner hatred.
Why is the Buddha’s speech so persuasive? It’s because he always spoke clearly, kindly, and rationally. If you do the same, you’ll find that people will be much more open to your ideas.
If you write something that doesn’t abide by these guidelines, we’ll call you out on it. If you are moderated in any way, please take the opportunity to appreciate the gift you’ve been given — to have someone willing to highlight your lapses and help you grow is a great Dhamma blessing.
Typically, the moderators will seek to settle issues that arise through informal dialogue with the people concerned and will attempt to smooth things over. Responding to moderation in such a way that moves towards understanding and harmony tends to happily resolve problematic issues.
If an issue cannot be resolved like this, or if it’s more serious, you may receive an official warning. This is a yellow colored private message that contains the words “official warning”. If you receive three official warnings you will be suspended from the forum for one month. If you receive two more official warnings after a suspension has been lifted, you will be permanently banned.
The moderators’ primary duty is to maintain a safe, kind environment for all users and they must use their discretion to this end. This may, for example, entail:
- Encouraging Right Speech within a thread.
- Pulling people up when their speech is unkind.
- Redirecting a thread that has deviated significantly from its original post.
- Editing or deleting a post.
- Closing a thread.
If you feel a decision is unfair, please represent your side of things in a friendly, constructive manner. The moderators want to be as fair to you as possible, but keep in mind that they are often acting on behalf of other users who have raised flags and need to balance everyone’s interest.
Responding well to admonition is regarded as a basic sign of integrity in Dhamma communication. If you respond with anger, insults or by attacking the admonisher, the site, or those running it, expect to find yourself permanently banned.
##Skilful participation helps us all
Engage in discussions that make this forum an interesting place to be — and avoid those that do not.
Discourse provides tools that enable the community to collectively identify the best (and worst) contributions: bookmarks, likes, flags, replies, edits, and so forth. Use these tools to improve your own experience, and everyone else’s, too.
Let’s try to leave our temple better than we found it.
##If you see a problem, flag it
Moderators have special authority; they are responsible for this forum. But so are you. With your help, moderators can be community facilitators, not just janitors or police.
When you see bad behavior, don’t reply. It encourages the bad behavior by acknowledging it, consumes your energy, and wastes everyone’s time. Just flag it. If enough flags accrue, action will be taken, either automatically or by moderator intervention.
In order to maintain our community, moderators reserve the right to remove any content and any user account for any reason at any time. Moderators don’t preview new posts in any way; the moderators and site operators take no responsibility for any content posted by the community.
To learn more about the flagging system, visit our flagging guide [note: a link to this guide will be added here shortly].
##We might not always be wise, but we can always be kind
Nothing sabotages a healthy conversation like rudeness:
- Be civil. Don’t post anything that a reasonable person would consider offensive, abusive, or hate speech.
- Use the forum to improve your own Dhamma practice. Don’t post anything that you would not say to that person’s face, in a temple, in front of the Buddha.
- Keep it clean. Don’t post anything obscene or sexually explicit.
- Respect each other. Don’t attack, harass or grief anyone, impersonate people, or expose their private information. Internet harassment is a crime.
- Respect our forum. Don’t post spam or otherwise vandalize the forum.
These are not concrete terms with precise definitions — avoid even the appearance of any of these things. If you’re unsure, ask yourself how you would feel if your post was being read by the Buddha.
This is a public forum, and search engines index these discussions. Keep the language, links, and images safe for family and friends.
##Keep it tidy
Make the effort to put things in the right place, so that we can spend more time discussing and less cleaning up. So:
- Don’t start a topic in the wrong category.
- Don’t cross-post the same thing in multiple topics.
- Don’t post no-content replies.
- Don’t divert a topic by changing it midstream.
- Don’t sign your posts — every post has your profile information attached to it.
If posting to the Watercooler category please take particular care to make sure your post belongs there. As noted above, this forum is about Early Buddhist Texts. We do, nevertheless, have a Watercooler category for more informal, relaxed, light-hearted Dhamma exchange. Whether posts to this category are directly on the EBTs or not, there is an emphasis on the “cooler” part of “Watercooler”. It’s a place to support each other and make connections, not to prove a point or for heated debate so if a thread strays too far from this category’s purpose it will be moved or closed.
Rather than posting “+1” or “Agreed”, use the Like button. Rather than taking an existing topic in a radically different direction, use Reply as a New Topic (found under the share a link icon).
##Only post things you have a right to
You may not post anything that contravenes any copyright laws. Normally short quotes and the like are fine, but full texts and other material can only be posted with the proper licencing permission. Make sure that the terms of any licence are clear, either by including them in the post, or providing a link. You may not post descriptions of, links to, or methods for stealing someone’s intellectual property (software, video, audio, images), or for breaking any other law.
##Terms of service
Yes, legalese is boring, but we must protect ourselves — and by extension, you and your data —against unfriendly folks. We have a Terms of Service describing your (and our) behavior and rights related to content, privacy, and laws. To use this service, you must agree to abide by our TOS.
NOTE: This document is based on the “Universal Rules of Civilized Discourse”, which is supplied by default with Discourse. It has been modified to make it more Buddhist!
You can see a comparison between the current guidelines and the prosed draft here.
- I support the proposed revision
- I support updating the guidelines, but the proposed revision needs further amendment
- I do not support the proposed revision
Please also see the poll lower in the thread on whether or not posts to the Watercooler category should be on the Dhamma, or be open to general topics.
Much thanks for your thoughtful involvement.
Aminah, on behalf of the mod team