Expertise plugin

I think that a flag for “:star:Official Translator” would be very useful and easy to define. Either you have translations published on the site or not. An additional tag of “Sanskrit->English”, “Pali->French” would be useful.

I guess when I was thinking about the requirement of “has made substantive contributions to the field (essays, publications, and the like)” I was thinking along the lines of academic publications, not translations.

And if you just made “Official Translator” into a group, that could be done immediately without a plugin. It would also allow them to have group discussions privately but accessable to all memebers of the group (without having to make PM’s).

Absolutely. I wish I knew that.

I’m assuming you were addressing that to the general readership, because I have no qualification let alone expertise in translation. Which is why I appreciate being able to participate in the forum.


This is probably not the right thread to discuss this, but I think the wording might be discouraging to non ‘practitioners’, who may have expertise in related fields.

Excellent. It should start with you. As the circle becomes bigger there will inevitably be some grey areas to be negotiated, but that would be fine.

Bhante, you continue in the same paragraph to refer to ‘ego’. I trust you aren’t under the misapprehension that I made that comment. It should be attributed to another.

Maybe; I don’t think that was the intent, but you might want to raise it with the mods.

Apologies, it was confusingly phrased, I have removed that bit.

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Personally, I don’t believe in denoting quality through titles originating in male exclusive religious authority circles. Universities were set up worldwide by religious men of authority who unfortunately discriminated and who are still privileged today. If it would change anything, the percentage of women receiving a Nobel Prize for their scientific contribution would exceed 2.77 percent by 2022 - the number of female experts has but soared. It doesn’t change by giving and using titles. Have women ever invented titles to begin with, for example to distinguish women on the basis of their marital status? They didn’t. So why hold on to the titles of male supremacy—which for decades didn’t allow women to enter universities—to recognise the expertise of women?

I don’t think there’s a proposal that we give tags to ourselves!!! Tho that might produce some interesting situations.

It’s often the case that the very greatest experts are very humble people. It may have something to do with feeling that they no longer have anything to prove, or it may be to do with them being so well positioned to see the vast amount they still don’t know.

That’s a bit different from the process starting from the centre as you described to me. Hopefully not all members would be empowered to endorse posts, else we could end up with the ignorant endorsing the ignorant. A frightening scenario!


Clearly you don’t follow modern political news. Good for you! :rofl:


I love your typo. :rofl:

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Alternatively I propose: that without a certain humble character you would not undergo the process of exploring a matter in the needed undistracted style to become “expert” at all. (“undistracted” by -say- social, economic, psychological, egomanic, … priorities)

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Just one more aspect which I’ve not yet seen here.

Assume that endorsement-process works well, and very well, and even more well, and a number of experts become endorsed experts by D&D/SC… That will surely improve their professional reputation much, and, having made experiences with the impact that the so-called “citation-index” has for expert to be invited to a higher carrier, we should expect the same effect very soon after having such an expertise-endorsement installed. I’m not much an expert :wink: in the scientific jobs machine but from the area of research mathematics I know of cheating technologies being used; one of the worst I’ve read about is that of founding a journal with collegues in an institute, publish many of your ideas as articles, cite & and get-cited-by your colleges and thus improve your “citation-index” and “impact-factor”. (I’ve found a controverse about such a case some years ago, and think that this procedere has been grown out/riped with the expansion of the electronic journals).

Are we (or better our own experts) prepared to handle such a scenary? Possibly moderate a request from some expert in the field to be “kindly included” in our endorsed-experts-database? Or moderate a growing number of contributions to the D&D-site, which are only motivated by the attempt to get the “expert”-badge? “Flooding of forums” with stretching the moderators engagement over their capacity is a troll’s trick (just for fun!) that I’ve learned about in the 90’ies in the usenet-newsgroups.
This couple of aspects should be taken to heart when the installation of an experts-plugin is considered.

As a resource for reading experiences from elsewhere: there is a forum for professional/research mathematics which has also a long meta-discussion, touching many aspects which might be interesting to read (One current example MO but an interested one should start at the main site). I think, they’ve managed it very well, and perhaps some moderator of ours might take a historical course through that always lively meta-discussions from, I think, 2010 on. (From there I got my information about the “E.E.Escultura”-institute and their journal with the massive mutual citations of members and a more recent one which might have become problematic as well)

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Well, I’m not very interested in being tagged with a given status. I’d rather not stand on pedestals but mingle with the crowd. And sometimes I think it suppresses people’s natural inclinations to debate or engage in discussion with someone who (is considered) of higher status. Or the opposite happens, people will dislike someone simply because a label like that gets put next to their profile. I guess I’m not into such formalities much.


This thread has raised many interesting issues. I’ve noticed that some people come here from “other” (more “normal”?) forums, and are surprised that this Forum is trying to be more like an “real life” experience, where constant arguing back and forth is discouraged. Mostly, but not always, they adjust.

I’ve been reflecting on what is different about an in person experience and most forums. It’s partly that being overly argumentative in person stands out so starkly. Also, if people have made an effort to travel to a monastery or other meeting place there is more of a sense of occasion. And, getting more to the point of this thread, it’s much more obvious which people are authoritative and worth listening to. That authoritativeness is, of course, obvious if someone is leading a session, but there are many other clues in real life.

And even putting aside the idea of “experts”, in real life there tends to be much more willingness to consider different views and approaches, whereas the format of forums seems to encourage argumentation for the “right” approach. There is much more nuance.

So, if a forum is going to be more of a real life experience, there has to be both way to not only figure out who is authoritative, but also a willingness amongst all members to listen to alternative views. One of the key problems is then the boundary where those alternative views are so out of kilter and distracting that they need to be ignored in the context. Even in real life, I’ve see the occasional heckler come to a Buddhist meeting and asks “Why aren’t you mentioning Jesus?”. In real life, it usually becomes obvious that no one is interested, and the meeting is about something else. and they don’t come back. That’s a very black and white example, though.

In terms of having a more “real life” experience, I think it is very helpful to have clarity about the purpose of the site, and who has expertise, or is providing key support. It also needs to be absolutely clear, as has been mentioned, that this is about expertise that supports the purpose and aims of the site. Others may have expertise in Jesus (to connect back to my example above), and that’s fine, it’s just not relevant here.


Unfortunately Charles, it’s not about you. It’s about when you say, “The Chinese word 法 means dharma”, and JoeRandom549 says “I think 法 means stale pancakes”. It happens all the time. A user who genuinely wants to understand has no context or ability to judge which is correct. We simply want to give some context that says, “Charles knows Chinese.”

That’s it! There’s no difference in how conversations happen or anything like that. It’s a bit of helpful context that recognizes that, whether you like it or not, you are not the same as everyone else. You have devoted many years of labor and love to master a difficult topic. I know this, so when i hear you speak on this topic, I pay attention. Others don’t know this, but they should.

Folks, sorry but you’re way overthinking this. None of these things will happen. What will happen is that an expert will have a bit of a green line on their post so you can tell when someone is speaking from a background of experience. That’s all.


I think the longtime effects will depend on whether you decide to go with the spiral manual model, or with the Discourse algorithm. The latter could lead to various unexpected results.

It would be helpful if the area of expertise is plainly visible and not buried deep.


No, after a certain threshold the poster comes up for review. They are not tagged as an expert until that have been accepted by the reviewers.

However, it’s not clear to me from the plugin documentation how the reviewing takes place. I’ve asked for clarification here:

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Yes, I think that would be helpful. Not that we want to make it all about Charles, but given his modesty he is actually one of the best examples of where having a byline saying something like “Translator of Chinese Agamas” would be very helpful to knowing to pay more attention to him than to JoeRandom549 .

I simply don’t get the aversion to the concepts of expertise and reputation that I sometimes see on forums. If I go to see a doctor, I want to know they are qualified, I don’t just ask on the internet about the pain in my neck and treat all replies as valid opinions.


Assuming that the official translators and other possible experts are identified by you as step one, after that the algorithm + reviewers would be fine.

Are there areas of expertise other than the translation of specific languages that you consider relevant?


That’s why I don’t frequent other Buddhist forums. If I have specific questions about the dhamma, I want answers that ultimately resonate well with the EBTs. I learn better from discussions with good checks and balances from experienced people. Charles Patton is a great example of someone whose expertise can improve the course of conversation.


Not that I can think of. Basically, the forum is for discussing EBTs, and to be an expert in EBTs, a minimum qualification is to read the texts in the original languages, or at least one of them.

But if someone has an idea, I’m all ears. Well, not literally.

Ahh, so what you’re saying is that your mind has been imprisoned by Big Doctor?

There’s a place for shooting the breeze, and a place for just playing around with ideas and stuff. It can be really creative! And for some people, there’ll probably be a lot of that along the winding road to wisdom.

Maybe it’s personality? I don’t like to hang and chat, even in person, still less online. I get bored quickly, I’d rather be alone. A meaningful conversation with an interesting person, on the other hand, is as enriching as it is rare.

Almost always on the web, I want to get in and out. I guess we are somewhat balancing a line between the “get a specific answer” of Stack Exchange and “hang with your mates” of facebook or whatever.


That’s my point. I’m not actually an expert in classical Chinese. I would call myself competent in Buddhist Chinese, but not an expert. I’ve been learning alot about Buddhist Chinese, of course. If knowing more than nothing makes me an expert, okay, I guess.

On a moderated forum like this, I do think putting expert labels on users does have the potential of suppressing discussion. “The expert has spoken” is a real thing, and I’m not interested in being that person. I do like sharing with others, and I suppose I end up being like an expert in that I know a bunch of stuff. But I’m often actually wrong. I was just reading things I wrote in 2019, and grimaced a bit.