SuttaCentral

Community guidelines revision

Just a matter of emphasis:

Please consider inserting a definition of Right speech, after the ‘Improve the discussion’ paragraph and before the ‘Be agreeable…’ paragraph. Most people remember what they read first and last!

with metta

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Very nice, thanks Mat!

Just to note though, it was the Buddha wot said that, not me - I didn’t even quote him in this particular case. Still, if I’m going to be misquoted, this is the absolutely best possible way. :wink:

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Oh sorry! I keep making that mistake… :confused:

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A general point, if I may: The energy and attitudes in this endeavor are, IMO, to be commended, and should encourage effort to support them. Somewhere back in some thread I earlier commented on a (perceived) “infection” of unskillful behavior creeping into some discussions here, as is already a problem in many, yes, even Buddhist forums; and added a note of hope or confidence, looking to SuttaCentral to be able to handle this better than other forums.

0: A minor point: “space” is interestingly more apropos in cyber-space (internet) than “place” – the latter connotes a delimited locus, as in a physical place/location, where the former includes expansiveness, boundarylessness (to borrow a term from Steven Levine) of the mind, especially the awakened mind.

1: Peter_Durham 2017-05-08 19:58:55 UTC #13
"Accept admonition gracefully"
A subtle but crucial point – recognizing, and deepening with equanimity, the limits of one’s own viewpointedness, and the willingness to restrain, or better, relinquish it. People might offer testimonials of instances where they’ve learned by this.

c.f. Also below (4) on correction procedures being carried-out off-line

2: Peter_Durham 2017-05-08 19:58:55 UTC #13
I also think there should be an explicit statement regarding racist, sexist, homophobic speech etc. …”
That list of hot-topic areas (racist, sexist,…) has become sort of standard, in many countries, conditioned by law. Practically speaking and on the basis of experience here (and in other “Buddhist” forums), I believe it may be worthwhile to extend it (perhaps as it may relate to “racist”) to include speech that may be offensive or inflammatory with regard to nationality, social, cultural or political systems. Especially the politics, with its flaming hot-button issues around the globe. In “international” forums culture-bound beliefs can collide and trigger unskillful re-activity. Though serious Dhamma practice should mitigate this, many of us are not that highly developed, and conditioned latent-tendencies (anuseti) still powerful.

3: Linda 2017-05-09 04:05:03 UTC #18
I liked the following ( #14 old guideline), and wonder if it or something similar (perhaps added to #19, new guidleline)
(#14. The topics discussed here matter to us. Be respectful of the topics and the people discussing them, even if you disagree with some of what is being said.)
(#19. You may wish to respond to something by disagreeing with it …”)

(I noted also, s/w puzzled, that deletion. ) All too often a reaction is to not only disagree, but also to “hijack” the thread. Other times there may not be disagreement, but someone may just steer the whole discussion heavy-handedly in the direction of their own take on it or s/w related pet interest. The following does appear to address that:
#106 Rather than taking an existing topic in a radically different direction, use Reply as a New Topic (found under the share a link icon).

Is might be perhaps also worthwhile to allow OP authors (the ones who initiate threads) some right to invoke this to defend their topic against hijacking?

(from another thread: “Sujato: “And yes, ‘off-topic and redundant to the point of drowning threads’ is clearly flag-worthy!”)

4: Linda 2017-05-09 04:05:03 UTC #18
…helpful when the moderators explicitly mention something in a discussion such as posting a ‘warning’ or friendly reminder or other things like saying they’re moving the discussion to another category or asking people to start a new discussion, etc.
This overlaps 3 above, but also brings up the possibility, when the moderator is challenged and multiple back-and-forth posts ensue, that such elaboration be quickly taken off-line, to a PM thread (like happens with a formal flagging). There have been times when such discussion has occurred, and it seemed like a moderator was getting sucked into “feeding” a trolling outbreak by trying to reason with someone who was a just further stimulated by the attention.

5: Not being timid about flagging.
When the issue is taken off-line (PM thread) it allows the “offender” a hearing in which to perhaps justify their actions without that discussion tempting others to pile-on (the contagion of troll behavior as in the scientific study cited above). But it also allows moderators to perhaps help the author of a somehow unworthy or misled flag to better understand and adapt to the perceived problem, without having to be dressed-down in public.

6: Working the moderators too hard? When done well, and after a period of adaptation on the part of posters as well as moderators, their workload could actually become easier over time.

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About the flagging system: I believe members should use it just like the “report a post” option is used on DW. If you see a topic breaking a rule, then you can report it and a moderator will investigate it. If the post is not breaking any rules but you just don’t like the post or don’t like the person posting it, that is no reason to report a post.

About the like system: On DW, this has been discussed and the majority has been against a like system because if facilitates gang-behavior witch was always a problem in the past pre 2016 and continues to be a problem today. It also facilitates narcissistic behavior and conformism. People post things that the majority would vote and those posting opinions against the majority consensus are marginalized. Those who honestly want to help other buddhist in dhamma related problems don’t feel the need to get any ego-boosting likes as a reward for helping other people. Most decent forums I know do not have a liking system, but this is probably not going to change here.

All in all, it comes down to moderators and what they want from this forum. Do they want a big, diverse and tolerant buddhist forum or a progressive subreddit, highly militarized and highly intolerant towards those not respecting progressive orthodoxism ? This is why in the censorship topic I have asked for a more diverse field of moderators, such as on DW. This would not only protect non-progresive members, but it would also protect the leadership of the forum from group-thinking and the devastating effects group-thinking can have.

Again:

The section of your post highlighted above, does not fit into the given parameters of this thread. Please remove it or I will do it for you: join the thread, play by the rules. And please save any back-fighting, that would contravene the existing community guidelines.

Thank you for your comments about the flagging and like systems.


ADDED:

@Gabriel_L could you please also remove your comments about trolling.

I was just doing so, I am dyslexic, it takes me quite a while to read this stuff, so please be patient with me.

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I have removed the 2 paragrapghs about DW comparison and levels of authoritarianism, but not the first paragraph of my post. It was a response to CJmacie and a comment on his interpretation of the article quoted by him. If that interpretation of the study will be removed, then I ask for CJmacie interpretation to be removed too.

I also ask for Glenara post to be removed since it is also offtopic. This topic is about future changes in moderation, IT IS NOT A TOPIC ABOUT TROLLING and we had 3 topics about trolling already.
But yet I see the moderator picking only on me and Deelee, having no problem with Gnlaera and Cjmacie offtopic posts.

EDIT: Thank you for removing offtopic posts by Gnelaera. If a person posts something offtopic, then others will respond to that, seeing it is allowed by the mods, and then be blamed for being offtopic themselves.

Thank you for responding to my request so promptly. Please also remove the first paragraph - Cjmacie’s comments lead to the statement of two points that were pertinent to this discussion, and an amount of leeway has been for people to express themselves in their natural manner. Your comments argue with another poster - that is not what this thread is for.

No further discussion on this matter will be had.

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BREAKING NEWS: I just had a brilliant idea about how to greatly improve the forum without changing it’s progressive leading, making it use only the good parts of it’s progressive attitude and not the bad sides, preventing all the injustices and also having support by the majority of the forum :slight_smile:

REMOVE DISCUSSION ABOUT POLITICS OR POLITICALLY CHARGED SUBJECTS ALLTOGETHER. REMOVE THE WATTERCOOLER.

The big advantage of this forum is being an EBT focused forum, the only one of it’s kind on the internet. I have found dhamma discussions here to be very productive. If the forum would be focused only on EBTs, problems about moderation bias and feelings of injustice felt by some members would disappear.

This is not a radical measure at all. For example even on the international pigeon forum, political discussion is totally banned. It is a forum exclusevly about pigeons, and it’s working great. Almost all specialized forums have political discussion banned on them cause that’s just not their focus.

This would be a great thing to do in my opinion. But are people here capable of reducing the worldly pleasure of engaging into politics ? So far, they appear to be, since the forum already has tried to reduce political discussion and many have suggested removal of the wattercooler. Why not take it to the end ? I mean even the pigeon forum did it.

If there is a door open for discussion of politics, with moderators choosing what is allowed or not in the watercooler, that will only create more injustice and let bias have a strong word to say. But I also know moderators here really are at least partially against political discussion and understand how this does not have a positive effect on the community. Why not remove it alltogether ? I repeat, almost all specialized forums on the internet do not have political sections and this makes people be much more friendly with each other, not knowing their political opinions. Why let politics create division in such an important and unique specialized forum, focused on EBTs ?

Removing politics will definitely remove all the fun. But if we are honest about improving the atmosphere of the forum, let’s do it.

I think their equivalents can be found in the Brahmajāla and Anumāna Suttas.

Being one who exalts himself (attukkaṃsako) and disparages others (paravambhī).

Being harsh and spiteful (makkhī paḷāsī).

Being a fault-finder on account of his wrath (kodhahetu upanāhī).

Being one who, when reproved, blurts out reproof against the reprover (codito codakena codakaṃ paṭippharati).

Being one who, when reproved, disparages the reprover for the reproof (codito codakena codakaṃ apasādeti).

Being one who, when reproved, rounds on the reprover for the reproof (codito codakena codakassa paccāropeti).

“If, bhikkhus, others speak in dispraise of me, or in dispraise of the Dhamma, or in dispraise of the Sangha, you should not give way to resentment, displeasure, or animosity against them in your heart. For if you were to become angry or upset in such a situation, you would only be creating an obstacle for yourselves. If you were to become angry or upset when others speak in dispraise of us, would you be able to recognize whether their statements are rightly or wrongly spoken?”

“Certainly not, Lord.”

“If, bhikkhus, others speak in dispraise of me, or in dispraise of the Dhamma, or in dispraise of the Sangha, you should unravel what is false and point it out as false, saying: ‘For such and such a reason this is false, this is untrue, there is no such thing in us, this is not found among us.’

“And if, bhikkhus, others speak in praise of me, or in praise of the Dhamma, or in praise of the Sangha, you should not give way to jubilation, joy, and exultation in your heart. For if you were to become jubilant, joyful, and exultant in such a situation, you would only be creating an obstacle for yourselves. If others speak in praise of me, or in praise of the Dhamma, or in praise of the Sangha, you should acknowledge what is fact as fact, saying: ‘For such and such a reason this is a fact, this is true, there is such a thing in us, this is found among us.’

Being stubborn and arrogant (thaddho atimānī).

Being one who, when reproved, shelves the question by asking the reprover another, answers off the point, and evinces temper and ill-will and sulkiness (codito codakena aññenaññaṃ paṭicarati, bahiddhā kathaṃ apanāmeti, kopañca dosañca appaccayañca pātukaroti).

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Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments, Linda, I’ve been turning over a number of brilliant points you made!

Just to following up on a few details:

I have to admit I get a little anxious at the prospect of outlawing sarcasm, as while I’m not proud of it, sarcasm is so deeply ingrained in me at present, that I’d probably have to boot myself out of the community. :wink:

More seriously though, while I really understand the important point you’re making, I do wonder about potentially trickiness in moderating around that. Do have an idea about how this point might be worded that would facilitate clear assessment of a violation? Can you readily define what would constitute that specific form of attack and how it might be easily distinguished from ‘good-natured’ sarcasm?

Possibly MN103…? That one notes that it’s fine to speak even if it will be troubling to you, or the other person gets upset, but you shouldn’t speak if, after assessment, you determine the other person can’t be established in the wholesome.

I’d, personally, also like to throw in one of my favourite pieces of advice from the Buddha (setting aside the suggestion to train oneself in such a way that leads to the end of all suffering completely): if relations go really screwy, cover it over with grass (MN104)!

To my own tastes this is a fabulous idea. Again, do you know how you’d like to see it formulated more specifically?

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Indeed, which is why at times the spirit of your reformation cannot be implemented and why the spirit of your reformation can themselves breach the following guideline, namely:

Psycho-analysing other commenters.

Much of the reformation seems to be guided by emotion/feeling rather than by truth.

The Buddha guidance on speech is not exactly how you portray. For example:

Venerable Lord Gotama, of all those four kinds of people, the kind of person who does not blame those who should be blamed, according to the truth, at the proper time, and does not praise those who should be praised, according to the truth, at the proper time; is the kind of person who is the most beautiful and refined to me. What is the reason for this? Because this is fair and right with upekkha (equanimity).

Potaliya, of all those four kinds of people, whichever kind of person blames those who should be blamed, according to the truth, at the proper time, and praises those who should be praised, according to the truth, at the proper time; this kind of person is the most beautiful and refined of these four kinds of people. What is the reason for this? It is fair and right because such a one knows the right time in those circumstances.

AN 4.100

There is a difference in Buddhism between the precept on speech and Noble Right Speech.

The precept on speech for laypeople is only to refrain from false speech, i.e., lying or dishonesty.

Where as Noble Right Speech, for those who have left the household life, is many fold, including honest, pleasant, cordial, beneficial, timely, etc, speech.

It can be difficult to set the high standard giving priority on “pleasantness” & “cordiality” (feeling & emotion) rather than factualness.

In summary, the usual combativeness on forums is generally debates over the teachings. It is not really anything personal. Once disagreements over the meaning of the teachings are seen as emotions such as ‘hatred’, etc, it all becomes pear shaped; it degenerates into psycho-analysing other commentators. This occurs because people feel threatened when their cherished views are threatened.

Competitive debate is part of Buddhism, as reported many times in the EBTs, such as MN 35:

Aggivessana, with your own dispute you being cross questioned, asked for reasons and we studying with you found you empty, useless and gone wrong. Have you said to these gatherings in Vesāli such a thing. I do not see a recluse, or brahmin, a leader of a crowd, a teacher of a crowd, or even one who acknowledges he is perfect and rightfully enlightened drawn into a dispute by me would not shiver tremble and sweat. Even a lifeless pillar drawn to a dispute by me would shiver and tremble, so what of a human being. As for you Aggivessana, there is sweat trickling down your forehead and some drops of sweat have pierced your over shawl and has fallen on the ground, on my body at the moment there is no sweat.

Saying that the Blessed One disclosed his golden hued body to that gathering. When this was said, Saccaka, the son of Nigan. tha became silent, confused, his form drooping, face turned down, unable to reply, sat down.

Then Dummukha the son of the Licchavis, saw Saccaka the son of Nigan. tha silent, confused, the form drooping, face turned down, unable to reply sitting. He said to the Blessed One; venerable sir, a comparison comes to me.

The Blessed One said, say it Dummukha.

Venerable sir, close to a village or hamlet, there’s a pond, in it a crab lives. Then a lot of boys and girls approach the pond, descend it and pull out the crab on to dry land. Whenever the crab puts out a limb, a boy or a girl would cut it and destroy it, with a stick or a stone. Thus the crab with all his limbs destroyed, is unable to descend to the pond as before. In the same manner, the Blessed One has cut, broken and destroyed, all the distortions of views and the restlessness of Saccaka the son of Nigantha, and it is not possible that he should approach the Blessed One with the intention of a dispute.

When this was said, Saccaka the son of Nigan. tha said thus to Dummukha the son of the Licchavis. Wait, Dhummukha, we have to discuss with good Gotama

MN 35

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@Deeele

The points you’ve raised in this last post don’t really hold, but once more, this thread is not for arguing such details. If your general feeling is that you do not support revisions to the community guideline, that’s fine. If you feel that there are worthwhile revisions to be made in addition to the strong suggestions you’ve already contributed, please feel free to set them out.

Thanks. I voted to support the revisions. I will help me personally develop qualities that I often deliberately overlook. I was merely pointing out the flaw you yourself revealed, how you would struggle to overcome your own sarcasm. This shows what a fine line the criteria are; how they are often based in subjective ‘perceptions’ of subjective ‘motives’ (i.e., psycho-analysis).

Best wishes again. I trust it will be successful. :slight_smile:

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Hi friends,

@dxm_dxm brought up this question, and since the moderators don’t really have a set answer, I thought I’d put it up to a poll/discussion. Currently, as is in our guidelines and the way we are moderating, posts in the Watercooler must contain/relate to the Dhamma.

  • Posts in the Watercooler should have to relate to the Dhamma
  • Posts in the Watercooler should not have to relate to the Dhamma

0 voters

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It may be good to consider what posts in Watercooler should not be about.

I like the idea of posts about politics, wars, terrorist attacks,etc not being desired here - and therefore being openly discouraged. I know it may sound unpleasant to many but even posts about the politics of global climate change. :sweat:

I am mostly concerned about how the inevitable ugly debates about such things usually may end up at being associated with SuttaCentral.

I am not sure if you have already noticed but if you use Google and search for something and SuttaCentral you may see results that point to D&D’s threads and posts.

I recommend we should keep the discussions, debates and fights of D&D separate from the blessed and liberating words preserved at SuttaCentral.

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I agree. Let it be a place for topics such as the recent one about internet neutrality, or about scientific stuff, documentaries etc.

It would be great to keep politics out of it. But keeping politics out of it would also mean removal of topics about gender or climate change. If keeping such topics out is not possible and the policy will be used only to remove topics about victims of communism or abortion or school vouchers for example, then many might feel the policy is unfair. In that case, a complete removal of the watercooler category would be welcomed rather than a policy of selective political discussion being allowed, with some political topics removed while others not. That would completely miss the point of the rule.

I may be losing my mind, but somewhere on this site I once saw some guideline that said something like "Think of contributing to this forum as an opportunity to practice right speech more than … (can’t remember). But I really liked that - I really liked the idea of a forum where we go first to practice right speech, and second to share Dhamma ideas, etc. It actually encouraged me to post, as I sometimes question whether I belong here - my interest being primarily practice.

For me “a space to share Dhamma ideas, understandings and questions, where the practice of Right Speech underpins all conversation” doesn’t quite give the same priority. I acknowledge, however, that I may be the only one who feels like this, and I may have dreamed up the guideline anyway. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

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Hi @ Aminah,

Yeah, I know what you mean about sarcasm (including “the trickiness of moderating around that”), and in fact I almost decided not to mention it because of this. I like your term ‘good-natured’ which is what I meant about some kinds of sarcasm not being a problematic, also that certain kinds of ‘good-natured sarcastic’ humor can at times, actually help prevent or diffuse a difficult situation. In addition, personally I wouldn’t want this type of guideline to cause people to ‘worry’ about every little thing they post; that could have a negative effect of overly inhibiting the natural flow of a fruitful discussion. Well, I guess I’m making a case here for just leaving any mention of sarcasm out :confused:

But regarding putting some mention of it in, the only thing I can think of at the moment would be to refer to it as an example in relation to something else. For example, under passive-aggresive: “One example of this kind of behavior could be seen in back-handed sarcasm through the use of condescending language (or ‘a condescending tone’)”, or saying something meant sarcastically, e.g. “thanks a lot”, when you actually mean quite the opposite.” I realize even something like this veers into difficult territory, judgement about a person’s intentions…

Overall, I think the best approach is to use quotes from the Buddha (as already being done and as suggested further) to support the excellent points already made in the guidelines. In the end we can only each look into our own mind and honestly reflect on where our intentions and responses are coming from. And we can still be deluded:-) I love your reminder of the teaching in MN104. Also, yes MN103 is the sutta I was thinking of–thanks. I find it very clarifying and powerful.

As for your last question, hmmm, not sure about a specific formulation…the more I think about it, the more I think it may already be sufficiently covered, implicitly, in the guidelines. If it seems helpful to add, perhaps just a simple ‘reminder’ statement near the end of the more specific points: such as: “Remember, our own behavior, as reflected in the tone of our posts, speaks volumes. Let’s support and remind each other through being a good example ourselves”

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Hi Suravira

I LOVE this idea.

I know what you mean. :slight_smile:

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