Feature request: blacklist

Hi,
In the olden days of Usenet groups there was a great feature called killfile, which was basically a filter of posts by users you didn’t want to read. With current increase of trolling and people arguing just for the sake of argument I’m growing in need of such a feature - is it possible to implement it easily here?

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I like the idea! I am in a similar position and it has been a nice excuse to practice mindfulness: whenever I see the fire is about to start (or is already burning) I quickly remind myself to take a deep breath and scroll strait to the bottom to mute the thread.

It works but occasionally I open again that thread, by mistake or Freudian slip, and I end up unamusing myself with ugly things… when I see something or some sort of conversation, tone or behavior I would never​ expect to find when having a cup of tea at a temple I flag it to moderation…

Indeed muting specific users would be helpful at least… :sweat:

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I’m pretty sure Discourse doesn’t have this feature, although you can check their resources.

As this community grows, we need to address how to make it a place we all want to be, rather than creating rigidity through our own settings to simply ‘block out’ what we don’t like. We really need the input of intelligent, wise contributors to make this space better for everyone. Yeah, it can be unpleasant. But it creates a more valuable and beautiful resource for everyone to enjoy. But, emphasis on we need the action of the users of this forum to make it work.

Flagging is an important part of this, and a way you can help to shape the community you want. The mods are working on a flagging resource to be released in the next few days to help the community understand this tool better, and you can also read more about it on the Discourse Meta forum. :pray:

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I’m sure you are more aware than I am about various suttas that recommend meditating on or contemplating repulsive things. There are also various threads in this forum on ‘repulsive’ and ‘revulsion’. :anjal:
This should make you smile though:

Those who grasp at perceptions & views
go about butting their heads in the world.
Snp.4.09
:grinning: :grinning::grinning:

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I don’t know what to say about such an option. On another buddhist forum, I’ve seen a meditation teacher monk claim to have 37 persons in the foe list. The same person has often called for deleting of posts and banning of members who have a bad opinion about Mahasi. He has also voiced positive opinions about burning of books containing “wrong understandings of buddhism” in Myanmar and have made threats of kammic retribution such as posting this to people critical of mahasi:

Some Facts A Meditator Should Know

There are many fake lights of wisdom practice spreading actively in the world and this is a cause for concern. The following information was gathered from a Burmese meditation teacher.

Some time ago in a certain town in Burma, there was a prominent monk who taught his personal method of practice. He also wrote books criticising Ledi Sayādaw and Mahāsi Sayādaw. Shortly after these efforts, he had a fall. Paṇḍitārāma Shwe Taung Gon Sāsana Yeikthā’s chief abbot, Sayādaw U Paṇḍitābhivaṃsa is of the opinion that such retributive effects can befall detractors and critics of Mahāsi Sayādaw.

He states the following:

  • Anyone who attacks Mahāsi Sayādaw will surely suffer a fall and the method of practice promulgated by this person, will not last long as the burning of dried paddy straw.
  • The Mahāsi method is likened to a balloon of hot air and the greater that one forces it down, the higher will it rise.
  • One who criticises the Mahāsi method is still aloof of the right path.
  • One who does not appreciate that the Mahāsi method is correct is like a blind person.

Mahāsi Sayādaw faced numerous challenges when he first arrived in Sri Lanka to propagate the Dhamma. Many monks and the laity wrote articles in the press denouncing his method. Subsequent to these acts, they each suffered a fall. Later, the Mahāsi method became more prominent against that of his detractors which slid into obscurity. Today, his critics are forgotten.

In response to his critics, one of Mahāsi Sayādaw’s disciples published a book in Burmese entitled Mahāggharatana (The Great Precious Jewel) which sought to clarify and explain things.

With such a mentality in regards to the superiority of particular interpretation of buddhism, it is hard to cope on a forum with diverse opinions. Without the blocking option and removal of opinions expressed by 37 forum members, I have doubts the person would have managed to cope with the diverse opinions expressed on the forum. Also, giving this option to users not only makes their experience on a diverse forum more pleasant but also reduces the labeling of other forum members as trolls (a problem on the rising since the forum started growing bigger) and the calls for censoring them. It gives users the option to censor a particular person ideas only for themselves, not for the whole forum. It might be a good options for those with less then perfect equinimity and increase not only their own forum experience, but also the forum experience of those who they want to put in their blocking list.

The downside is that isolation from different opinions might increase/maintain bigotism and therefore be detrimental for the person on the long run.

Bigot = a person who has strong, unreasonable beliefs and who does not like other people who have different beliefs or a different way of life
http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/bigot

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The thing is that I already filter by scrolling, doing it automatically would only make it easier. I’m afraid that any other way of fighting trolling, topic derailing etc. will be an exercise in futility. Although I hope to be wrong on this…

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This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.

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Could the original poster please be shown proper and due respect by not having their post derailed with offtopic comments.

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This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.

This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.

I must say that I would love this feature. And it seems like the perfect way to deal with trolling behavior - make it invisible! But I can see the argument that if we all just privately avoid seeing the voluminous/off-topic/deliberately provoking posters then we would not be helping to improve the community. However, it has been unclear to me what I could do. I don’t want to engage with someone who I think is trolling, and yet most of the posts are not clearly flag-worthy - unless off-topic and redundant to the point of drowning threads is flag-worthy?

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I know it can feel like a drastic action, but you don’t have to be overly concerned about whether something is “flag-worthy”. If you think it’s problematic, just flag it. The moderators will see it and take the appropriate action.

And yes, “off-topic and redundant to the point of drowning threads” is clearly flag-worthy!

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Yes- it is!
If you’re feeling unsure, don’t worry. It can be confusing. I will be posting my flagging guide today or tomorrow to help us all understand how it works and what you can do.
As mods we sometimes don’t know what the community wants or how ‘strict’ we should be, so we often err on the side of not taking action if unsure. A clearer impetus from the community can also help us do our jobs better! :smile:

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@Suravira I’ve also wondered about this, and usually hesitate to flag. Sometimes it just seems like someone is being rather arrogant or sarcastic or won’t let go of their ‘pet view’, and I haven’t felt it’s my place to ‘flag’ them. Also I realize others in the community might not mind this type of thing or even like it!

Right now, I simply don’t open some of the discussions (especially for example if I take a quick look at who the majority of posters are and/or have no interest in the topic) and/or I just stop reading when I start to see comments that I have no interest in spending my time or energy on. Of course I also probably miss worthy (in my view :slight_smile: ) comments this way.

Well, based on the replies from @sujato and @Cara , perhaps I’ll err more on the side of flagging. But I also wouldn’t want the moderators to drown in flags :worried: Glad to hear you’ll be posting a ‘flagging guide’ Cara and thanks again for all you, and the other moderators, do!

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Dxm_dxm has given reasonable thoughts on the point of bigotry, in my opinion, and made a good point, I think, that it would be preferrable that people can put clampers on only for themselves, without thereby influencing automatically what others are still able to see.
Or in other words: It would be better to give people possibilities to cultivate their bigotry in isolation without enforcing thereby a “bigoted community”.

The system as it stands, where “flagging” by a certain amount of people leads automatically to certain posts being invisible initially for everyone, is really bad in my opinion.
One can still decide to “view hidden content”, which is good at least. But the automatical hiding is a very strong influence, especially for newcomers or those not so well informed about the dynamics of the community, to not being able to make their minds up for themselves at first sight easily. It took me a while, for example, to even notice the “View hidden content” option and see the posts hidden in this thread here, which I would prefer should not have been hidden to me at all.

It is not clear at all, and actually very improbable in general, that only because a certain number of people here disliked a certain contribution (or found it “inappropriate” or “off-topic” for some reason - which in most cases, after some scrutiny, is probably actually still simply disliking, because - let’s be honest, people here are not enlightened and mostly just have their own favours and rationalizations for what they like and don’t like). How many “flags” are actually necessary to make a post be automatically hidden? Regardless how big the number is, I believe it is probably still a small minority, whose views on what is appropriate or on-topic I am unlikely to share in general (although there may be sometimes really clear and objective criteria, but from what I see so far I cannot trust that people go out of their way to try and be objective here for the most part), and if it were the majority here even, it might be even worse, and I would not agree that posts should be automatically hidden for me.

With that said, the “View hidden content” option is at least a redeeming factor, and as one gets more familiar with the system one can find out about the possibility of viewing what has been hidden. And I hope it is also seen as a more “mild” substitute and alternative to more drastic measures like deleting, for “trigger-happy” policing staff.

But I think It would be better to be freed from automatical “community clampers”, or to make the “community clampers” (of the flagging -> hiding mechanism) an opt-in feature. At least one should be able and more encouraged to decide for oneself whether one wants to automatically align oneself with the majority at all times, in my opinion.

To give an example in this thread here, the first message by the person named Samana Johann was “flagged by the community” to be hidden. But upon looking I find it to be one the most reasonable contributions here on this topic so far. (In short, he is making the point that intentional ignoring and muting out is actually bad in general for spiritual development, with which I have to strongly agree, because: Is it not obvious, that as truth-seekers, we want to see reality, not hide away from its unpleasent and challenging aspects?) I can see absolutely no reason for why this particular post should have been hidden or what kind of “rules” it violated, apart from, apparently, some people’s disliking, and can only conclude that a certain aversion for the person has given rise to a certain number of “flaggings”. (I can see to some extent certain reasonable justification that some parts of the follow-up posts by that person would be flagged as off-topic, but still that would not justify to flag the first post.)

This is only one example. I have seen many other such cases here, where I found the “hiding by community flagging”, and in some cases even deletion of disliked contributions, to be absolutely wrong and highly inappropriate for a spiritual forum and “truth-seekers”.

It would be preferable if people who don’t like certain statements (which, in the example case of the mentioned first post by Samana Johann, I can absolutely not see to be in violation of any “rules” here, or off-topic) simply put their clampers on only for themselves, i.e. can use a personal “black-list feature” instead of making such kind of “mob mentality” the rule here. So I am in favour of a personal blacklist feature, which gives people the possibility to hide certain things only for themselves, in the hopes that it could reduce the felt need for the “mob mentality” kind of enforced communal “harmony”.

As an additional remark, tangentially relevant to the topic, since this is my very first posting here in this forum, I want to make aware of a certain point in the “Welcome to Discuss & Discover — …” “welcoming” posting instruction box here:

It says:

Before replying, consider whether your reply has the qualities of right speech:

  • Is it true?
  • Is it meaningful?
  • Is it clearly phrased?
  • Is it pleasing to read?

/…/

It seems quite obvious to me, even before having read this, that in this community it is encouraged to flag and “moderate” (not only onself, but even others!) content here, based on simply whether something is “pleasing to read”. This has been apparent all along at least to me, as far as I have read here, but now seeing it black on white (actually on yellow), I want to point out that this is a very simplified and even wrong characterization of what is “right speech” according to the Buddha’s standards.

Especially the point “pleasing to read” is not a generally valid criterion according to the teachings of the Buddha. The Buddha simply pointed out that, in saying what is unpleasent and disagreeable to others, one should know the appropriate time and place for it. (Or rather, actually, he said, that he knows the appropriate occasion for it. And whether others do or do not know at all times, and are perhaps even sometimes a bit clumsy in this regard, does not make them wrong.) It would be good to amend this mischaracterization of criterions for “right speech” as shown in this box. “Pleasing to read” is simply not a criterion at all.

To come back once more for conclusion and repeat my opinion on the topic:
Whether certain individuals want to mute out what they feel as unpleasent is for them to decide, so a personal blacklist feature, non-interfering with the possibilities of others, could be good and helpful in this regard, in my opinion.

The mechanism and even encouraging of “community flagging” on the other hand, I see as very concerning and actually strongly misguided, especially the encouragement by the leadership here to make this a strong focus of the community, and to make a “flagging guide” to encourage more of it. I hope that flagging guide should at least contain strong encouragement to try and step back from one’s own sensibilities and encourage abstaining from such denunciation more, instead of encouraging it even.

General “policing” should not be a focus of a harmonious and truth-seeking community in my opinion. So I would hope that the possibility of “personal blacklisting” could serve as a more harmless substitute for such policing and an alternative possibility to appease individual people’s sensibilities (for which they are, after all, responsible themselves) in this regard.

With metta.

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FYI, there is a mute feature that lets you ignore notifications from chosen users. You won’t be notified if they quote you in a post. I’m pretty sure their posts also won’t show up in latest, unread, or new.

Can the user be muted or it is just the topic that gets muted?

I’ve only used user but it appears you can do he same for topics.

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Thanks @Mkoll good find.

Although the feature doesn’t block or erase posts from that user showing up as you scroll through a thread as I just tested. But will stop notfications from them.

I looked into how the site operates, and it should be fairly easy to write a browser plugin to do this filtering on the client side (it will not be optimal, but will not require any changes to D&D). If current efforts fail to improve the quality of discussion I might go and write one.

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