SuttaCentral

Community guidelines revision

I too, have been guilty of this and I too shall mend my ways. :slight_smile:

Dan, FWIW, I have always found these posts of yours to be thoughtful and beneficial. Just yesterday, I was reading the Summer Tricycle, and there is a discussion there about politics and Buddhism. Many people feel that Buddhist teachers should avoid political issues; others feel there is a nexus between Dhamma/Dharma and political issues. I fall in the latter group, and would always welcome your perspectives on social, global, political issues that resonate with Dhamma themes. I feel that these issues that concern the health and welfare of people and the planet are too important to not have strong Buddhist voices involved. There is an art and a science as to how this integration is done, but I feel that in the right context, it can be very beneficial. You have added to the positive side of the equation with your thoughtful posts, in my view.

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Thanks for your thoughtful, good-natured words AnagarikaMichael, but again, trying to keep things focused on revisions for the community guidelines here (as set out in the OP), would you like to formulate these ideas into a suggestion for the guidlines update?

@Aminah…sorry I drifted off topic. My impulse was to respond to Dan the way I did, and I wasn’t mindful of the OP theme.

In terms of the guidelines update, yes, I am happy to review that in some detail. If I can offer anything of value, I"ll send it you. So far, my scan of the guidelines revealed excellent work on your and other’s parts in amending the guidelines. They look great so far. I’ll review, and if I feel I can offer anything of value, I’ll write in…

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:anjal:

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:anjal: back atcha

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I was thinking that it might be beneficial to require all participants to use their real name and a picture of themselves as their username and avatar. I feel this would remove some of the anonymity that empowers some people to say things they would never say in a public setting such as a temple. I know the difficulties involved in enforcing this rule, but it might be worth some strong consideration.

Thank you, moderators, for all of your time and effort! You are collectively doing a fine job!

With Metta
:anjal:

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The biggest difficulty would be knowing, if the name and picture is authentic.

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Not if you’re living in a country more religious than Iran (Romania), with 0,2% of the population non-religious and the rest christian, most of them medieval type of christians. Nobody except my Gf knows that I’m a buddhist and I’m pretty much the only one in the country.

Even in less religous countries, it’s very strange for a person to be a buddhist and it’s not something they would want others to know. It’s probably almost as worse as being gay. I am speaking here about all other central and eastern european countries, to say nothing of the middle east. (I’ve seen a buddhist from Jordan on DW)

PS: I felt pretty strange writing “I am a buddhist” in this message, it’s the first time I say this in my life. For a moment I wanted to write “have an interest in buddhism”

EDIT: Now that I stopped to think about it, having people know that you’re gay is definitely much worse than knowing you are a buddhist or atheist. It’s not like in the middle east but definitely not too far away from that. We also just modified the constitution yesterday to make gay marriage unconstitutional and the vote was unanimous, even the party voted by hipsters voted for it. But being gay is probably a little acceptable at least among some hipsters in bucharest and in the fashion industry, while the same can not be said about buddhism since all hipsters are christian.

I actually have a gay super hipster friend and I never told him that I’m a buddhist cause just like the rest 99,8% of the population, he is a devoted christian. He’s 26 and never had a boyfriend in his life because of how hard it is to find such persons while staying undercover. He never admitted being gay to me either, he claims he is “pansexual” or “bysexual” despite being 101% gay and I’m a pretty liberal person. That’s how important it is to keep things secret in some places.

The chiefs of the romanian orthodox church, witch are known to be pretty fundamentalist, some times have claimed in the media that other christian denominations such as Catholics, Protestants etc. are worshipers of the devil and their churches to be houses of the devil, that we should burn their books and work against their proselitizing efforts, etc. So imagine how bad most people see buddhist or atheists. There was a fire in a club last year in witch 55 people died, biggest catastrophe in last 30 years in romania. The chief of the church said they deserved it because it was a rock concert (actually it was pop-rock, not even hard rock) and “I always told you that rock music is the work of the devil but you never listened, now look what happened”. And saying something “is the work of the devil” is something very serious over here, basically the worst thing you can say about something.

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Much thanks, Timothy. I really see the logic of your point and also know that eg. Ven. Anālayo asks for a similar thing (at least including a picture of themselves) when participants of his online courses wish to take part in forum discussion.

At the same time, the point @dxm_dxm has articulated is an extremely real concern and surely has to outweigh attraction to the benefits of trying to remove anonymity. Actually, for myself, although I agree that at times it can give cover to people with ill-intentions, anonymity isn’t inherently problematic and there are many fair reasons for wishing to remain anonymous, from simple shyness, to the fear of persecution, to whatever else.

Saying this, this issue of opening ‘fake’/multiple accounts for disruptive purposes is also a real issue, so I don’t know if it’s worth considering including something like “where we are confident a user has created a second account in order to distort discussion or create chaos, such accounts will be closed.”

:anjal: - I also found it highly peculiar that someone like me would end up saying something like that.

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This sounds great and I hope would minimize the noise in the forum. I was once, in my late teenager years, one of weird internet patterns (I would definitely call myself a troll!), and this was one of the ways I would choose to create havoc.

Hence, speaking from my own experience and long abandoned unwholesome habits, I reckon it is important to make explicit the policy around this terrible and lamentable practice.

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By the way, that’s a very stylish new avatar!

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I agree. Prospective employers might also google names so it would make sense to play safe to prevent any potential discrimination. I think there is also something freeing in the anonymity (not that I’m anonymous but…) which allows someone to discuss things openly. Openness/transparency is important to avoid corruption in politics and at a personal level honesty and truthfulness is important, I think.

with metta :anjal:

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@Aminah here are some thoughts in rough form for language for the political discussion guidelines. For comments and critique.

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.

One nuance to the general Watercooler guidelines is the subject of political themes. Few subjects engender more heat and potential for incivility as political subjects,and many religious forums ban political themes and discussions outright. However, there is a recognition that the Buddha did not isolate himself from Dhammic discussions with kings, and it seems appropriate that some discussion of social, cultural and political themes have resonance within the Buddha’s focus on ethics, wisdom, and compassion . As Buddhists, it may be, within the confines of Right Speech, most appropriate and even necessary to weigh in on matters such as war and conflict, injustice, climate change, poverty, human rights, animal rights, and any number of subjects that involve the wellbeing of people and the planet. Bhante Sujato himself has said “if Buddhists do not speak up with voices of compassion and wisdom, that vacuum will be filled by voices of delusion and violence.” So, with these words in mind, the Watercooler can be a place for cool, balanced and thoughtful discussions of Dhamma as the Dhamma intersects with issues that may be viewed as political.

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@Aminah and all,
While I definitely see @Timothy’s point , I agree that other considerations (such as @dxm_dxm & others mention) outweigh this. I think the difference in say what Ven Analayo is doing in his class is that the class is not public. While it was open to anyone, it did require pre-registration which closed at a certain point so not anyone can just drop in. It required at least enough interest, forethought and commitment to pre-register (and probably to even find out about it). In addition, if someone searches a topic on the web, I don’t think posts from the on-line forum there will show up.

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I think it important to note that from the frame of what I consider to be the wiser and more mature way of understanding “politics” and “political” discussions … this discussion of the Community guidelines revision is a political discussion!

There is a question of a limited resource and how to manage/regulate it. That resource being discourse.suttacentral.net.


Also, please note this correction to an earlier thread on the so-called backfire effect.
The author of the original study now says that the backfire effect is rarer than the original research indicated. People, including Trump voters, do change their minds.

This topic was automatically closed after 7 days. New replies are no longer allowed.

Thanks all for your participation! :slight_smile:

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Dear All,

First off, apologies for the delay in finalising the update to the community guidelines… we’re humble volunteers, have other stuff to do as well, and so on.

We’ve now reviewed all the comments you generously put forward in this thread, have completed the drafting process and have published the resulting document that we can all - mods and other users alike - use in effort to help see D&D is a conducive space for supportive, Dhamma discussion.

It can be seen in full both of the following places:


###Edits
We wanted to set out how we’d used the suggestions you put to us and also highlight a few details that our experience as moderators indicated were important to include.

One of the key points we’d like to draw your attention to is how we intend to approach the Watercooler, which was always meant as an area for easy-going, friendly exchange, but has on occasion gone a bit off track.

An overview of everything is given below (please note the points are not listed in the order they appear in the finished document, but rather roughly correspond to the order they appeared in the above discussion):

Incorporated suggestions:

  • Basing the standard for making a post on MN 61. Post #5.

    • The quote selected is slightly different from post suggestion to reflect the both positive, as well as negative.
  • ‘De-pompousification’ regarding admonition being a Dhamma blessing. Post #13.

    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 reflect and receive in good faith.

  • Mention the search function & promote linking to related discussions. Post #18.

  • Be respectful of the topics and the people discussing them, even if you disagree with some of what is being said… put back in under the heading “Be agreeable, especially when you disagree”. Posts: #18, #27.

  • Encouragement to flag based on community guidelines. Post #28.

  • Promote the forum as an opportunity to practice right speech. Posts: #48, 56 (amalgamated with the idea to include a note on purifying oneself from MN 61 given in Post #5 with quote from AN 10.176 instead following shortly after the below).

    Participating in this forum should be taken as an opportunity to practice Right Speech. As such, please show the forum and your fellow practitioners the same respect shown in a temple. We, too, are a community spiritual center — a space to share Dhamma ideas, understandings and questions in a supportive atmosphere.

  • inserting a definition of right speech near the the start of the document. Post #24

    Right Speech is defined in the Early Buddhist texts as refraining from speech that is false, malicious, harsh or gossiping. The way to purify one’s speech is further explained by the suttas as follows: …

  • Discouraging the wish to ‘win’ at all costs / encourage knowing the time to let go (MN 103 & AN 4.100 on when to correct) … “the usual combativeness on forums … occurs because people feel threatened when their cherished views are threatened”. Posts: #12, #22, #18, #24, #38.

    Debate Constructively, Don’t Quarrel

    Step away from discussions that have become combative. Rigorous debate can be an important part of Dhamma enquiry and many debates are recorded in the Early Buddhist Texts. However, it’s even more important to recognise the difference between a debate and a quarrel. The Buddha said: “I assert and proclaim [my teaching] in such a way that one does not quarrel with anyone in the world” (Madhupiṇḍika Sutta, MN 18).

    Evaluating Your Posts

    Before attempting to correct someone else’s ideas, use MN 103 and AN 4.100 to help you carefully assess whether making such a post would be wise. If you are unsure about whether your contribution will be beneficial to others because of, for example, its phrasing, or timing, try to find a better way to express yourself, or don’t post.

  • Close second accounts opened to distort discussion. Post #76-7.

  • Making clear what can and cannot post in the watercooler category. Post #2. Details that emered in the thread:

    • Dhamma only Watercooler vote: 54% for, 46% against

    • “What the Watercooler should not be about: politics, wars, terrorist attacks,etc even the politics of global climate change.” Post #46.

    • Let it be a place for topics such as … “internet neutrality, or about scientific stuff, documentaries etc” … “a place for cool, balanced and thoughtful discussions of Dhamma as the Dhamma intersects with issues that may be viewed as political” … “a complete removal of the watercooler category would be welcomed rather than a policy of selective political discussion being allowed”. Posts: #47, #34, #80.

    • “it’s a hard thing to regulate, because any issue X can be turned into dhamma issue by reformulating it as “What would the Buddha say about X?”” … What matters is if the communication is “effective and productive on balance or not”. Posts: #53, #57#82.

    • Resolution: light-hearted posts only; this is non-flexible. Some flexibility remains regarding non-Dhamma posts.

      _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 exchange. We still encourage that posts to this category are related to the Dhamma, but this is not a fixed rule and an amount of leeway is allowed for other topics. However, there is no leeway with regards to the guideline that all posts to the Watercooler must be of a friendly, light-hearted and harmony-promoting nature. The Watercooler is a place to support each other and make connections, not to prove a point or for heated debate. Threads that stray from this category's purpose will be moved, closed or deleted._
      

Also added:

  • In situations deemed to be an emergency, the moderators reserve the right to suspend/ban someone immediately, without warning. This measure, should, where possible only be undertaken in consultation with the whole moderation team and/or admins. Such actions should be rare exceptions, they are never to become the norm.

  • The moderators will not disclose the details of discussions had with you in private to other users. In turn, as all private moderation will be kept private, please don’t ask us to tell you how we’ve moderated others.

  • Be alert to the fact that people with a wide range of sensitivities and vulnerabilities may use this forum and be accordingly gentle in your posts.

  • [The guidelines are] subject to being updated from time to time, so please review [them] every so often.

Deferred suggestions:

  • An explicit statement regarding racist, sexist, homophobic speech etc. + links to such speech. Post: #13, #27 .

  • Defining the terms “Name-calling”, “Ad hominem attacks.”, “Knee-jerk contradiction”, and “Passive-aggressive tactics.”. Posts: #20, #36 (9 likes), #55.

    • please note: those who feel they need clearer definitions are welcome to draw up definitions for the terms they are uncertain about and we’ll consider them, but for the now human judgement is estimated to be good enough.
  • Adding a line in the forum guidelines about commitment to free speech and acceptance of diversity of opinions. Post #2.

  • Look at research on how to handle trolling (this was an interesting contribution, but did not feed directly in to the guidelines draft). Post #16.

  • Prohibiting sarcastic attacks. Posts: #18, #49.

  • Allowing the OP authors (the ones who initiate a given thread) some special right to defend their topic against hijacking. Post #27.

  • Abandon the liking system. Post: #28.

  • Require all participants to use their real name and a picture of themselves. Posts: #72-4, #79, #81.

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Excellent work @Aminah! Thanks for all your hard work on this and for having the wonderful idea of consulting the wider D&D community in such a thorough, diligent and kind manner!!! :blue_heart::grin::clap::clap::clap:

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