Author Topic: Time for some change?  (Read 5224 times)

Offline Wonky Badger

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Time for some change?
« on: June 16, 2013, 11:33:58 pm »
Lately I've been having a little bit more time for this forum (my real life keeps interfering with my online life  :wink1: ) and I've been thinking about how we could improve the forum structure and general atmosphere.

First off, I would like some feedback on the general structure of the forum. For example, since most users are beginners, maybe we should move the Buddha Basics subforum up a bit on the page. Second, I personally think that some of the subforums have slightly confusing names. Any suggestions for improvements?

Third, since the Buddha Basics subforum is meant to benefit beginners, I would suggest that we use clear language there. No speaking in koans or replying to a half-page post in only three words without, in that case, explaining it properly. Also I would like to see that members would abstain from fighting and bickering in the Buddha Basics forum.

Also, I know that some members are bothered by other members, and I know that many would advocate a ban for bothersome members. Believe me, there has been people here that I have had problems accepting, and I've been sad to see other members leave the forum because of them, but I just don't believe banning is the right answer unless they're blatantly and deliberately hostile and disruptive. The main reason is because I've seen people change. The forum has been around for about three and a half years, and I've seen people go through phases. They try out different styles and concepts. Some people come and go. Some people come here with a high troll factor and suddenly or slowly turn into kind and helpful members.

So one reason why I don't favor banning bothersome people is that I believe that the forum can be beneficial to them. Another reason why I don't favor it is because I believe that it can benefit YOU to have bothersome people around. My Aikido sensei taught me that if you have a problem with a person, it is you that the problem lies with and you have to work to resolve it. And I think that is how it works according to Buddhism as well. The world will keep sending you bothersome people, and no matter how much you shut them out of your life, the world will keep sending you more. The only way to get the world to stop sending you bothersome people is to practice how to drop your aversions towards them so that they stop being bothersome to you. I know it is hard, but it's the only way.

The main problem is that as a beginner it is very hard to accept those bothersome to us and I think that is why many that come here leave soon afterwards. That is why I suggest that in the Buddha Basics forum, we should all make an honest effort to not be bothersome to others.

Any thoughts on this? Or suggestions? Or criticism? :namaste:
My actions are my only true belongings.
I cannot escape the consequences of my actions.
My actions are the ground on which I stand.
---
What would Buddha do?

Offline Barah

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Re: Time for some change?
« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2013, 12:43:44 am »
Maybe a "Right speech" forum can bring some improvement here? Place where not the topic, but the form is the most important thing. I haven't seen such a solution anywhere else, but I think it may be worth considering.

Offline former monk john

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Re: Time for some change?
« Reply #2 on: June 17, 2013, 01:27:56 am »
Very well put Wonky, I'd always wondered why I wasn't being censored, I really applaud your anti censorship policy, I have been banned from two forums, one violin, one new buddhist, its devastating to ones life, a huge part of my time and what I live for is to participate online and suddenly in an instant with no warning your banned with no explanation. Im also right now in trouble on a violin forum and I anticipated trouble here, but I was really putting effort into reforming my love for argueing, i have a problem not being able to just shut up and back down from an arguement.

well you may not have noticed it, but Im really seeing progress in my attitude, I was always taught theres one right way to practise Buddhism, but now I realize you can't force everyone to do that, some people hate following rules, following rules is whats keeping my life together, so we have to disagree, some of us

Anyway I know obviously to many people Im one of the most bothersome people on this forum, but perhaps that has something to do with me being the only former or current monk on the forum, If you guys behaved like this at my temple you would be asked to leave and not come back by the monks,  i wasn't raised at Trungpa Rinpoches western buddhist centres, i was raised in very conservative Therevada traditions

ANyway ill make a deal with Barah we'll enforce right speech(whatever that is since no one seems to agree on whats right) if I can enforce something just as important as right speech, in fact only one or two precepts away, full sobriety for frequent posters, and urine tests submitted to the moderators performed by state mandated testing centres.

OK so now you see how silly it is to try and enforce that any poster has to follow this or that buddhist rule, thats why I enjoy this place mostly for the good moderators, and the lots of scripture quotes

Well I trolled over to Dhammawheel.com, and it does seem a bit more my pace, so I rejoined but under my first and last name, Lyndon taylor, so maybe having another site to participate on, will let me take the heat off posting so much here, I really had nothing else, i just recently got banned from a violin forum that I spent 2-3 hours a day helping posters, and yes argueing, it devastated me, but fortunately I turned to this forum and buddhism, and I really have learned so much more about buddhism here, much from people who I was initially ridiculing like Blue Sky, couple that with deciding I needed to be  better buddhist, which to me means less argueing learning love and compassion etc etc, thank you all freesangha, and especially the moderators for keeping this place up and running, sincerely john
to me, the signs of a successful practice are happiness and a cessation of suffering, buddhism often gives me this; not all the answers.

Offline Lobster

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Re: Time for some change?
« Reply #3 on: June 17, 2013, 03:12:41 am »
Barahs suggestion is a good one but on Buddhist forum we are all attempting right speech. Former Monk John is aware of his tendencies and is making efforts. That really is the inspiration. No one here that I know of is trying to bicker, troll or be bothersome. No one. If we do so then it is up to moderators to perhaps make people aware of such tendencies or that we are tending that way. A solution is a temporary lock on a forum so that the passionate can calm themselves . . .
Another solution is for moderators to post on right speech with a warning about thread locking and perhaps a short cool down lock out.

Another possibility is some sort of flagging or rating of posts.

Heavey handed moderation by well meaning but just human beings is on the whole something to be avoided. Clear trolling, advertisers and fanatics can be warned and their posts deleted. They are easy to spot.

At the moment I feel the balance is right and I think all of us can and are doing our best to be a helpful resource . . . :pray:





« Last Edit: June 17, 2013, 04:33:46 am by Lobster »

Offline bloominRose

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Re: Time for some change?
« Reply #4 on: June 17, 2013, 04:26:06 am »
i have noticed the same things about bickering wonky, and as a beginner trying to study and learn about buddhism, ive found it somewhat disheartening and distracting when im reading along and i find a personal "fight" in the middle of a thread im interested in. i also dont think banning people is the answer, but it is tiresome to find the same conflicts going on in multiple threads.

what occurred to me was that if these same members choose to argue with each other, perhaps they should confine these seemingly very personal struggles to private messaging, so that the flow of information isnt tainted for those who really just want to learn. perhaps removing these arguments from the thread and requesting that members who want to engage in the repetitive conflict do so in private would be a reasonable idea?

im really not terribly knowledgeable about forums and how they work, so i dont know if thats something that might work. just an idea i had while i was studying one day, and kept running into these "interruptions" of topics i was interested in.
 :namaste:

Offline nettles

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Re: Time for some change?
« Reply #5 on: June 17, 2013, 04:40:23 am »
 :hug: Everyones.

Wonky you seem very amicable and open. :namaste:

All good comments from the members here.

Nothing to add but a thread glossary for the more lazy Buddha's( yep, that's me folks) regarding the different hindu/buddhist terms/words used so I can refer to them easier when reading threads. Maybe a sticky or something

many thanks :anjali:

Offline Wonky Badger

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Re: Time for some change?
« Reply #6 on: June 17, 2013, 06:22:20 am »
Maybe a "Right speech" forum can bring some improvement here? Place where not the topic, but the form is the most important thing. I haven't seen such a solution anywhere else, but I think it may be worth considering.

In a perfect world every subforum here would be "right speech". I have a feeling that a forum dedicated to it would quickly degenerate into analyzing every sentence and word of others and stepping on a lot of toes in the process. :)

Very well put Wonky, I'd always wondered why I wasn't being censored, I really applaud your anti censorship policy, I have been banned from two forums, one violin, one new buddhist, its devastating to ones life, a huge part of my time and what I live for is to participate online and suddenly in an instant with no warning your banned with no explanation. Im also right now in trouble on a violin forum and I anticipated trouble here, but I was really putting effort into reforming my love for argueing, i have a problem not being able to just shut up and back down from an arguement.

well you may not have noticed it, but Im really seeing progress in my attitude, I was always taught theres one right way to practise Buddhism, but now I realize you can't force everyone to do that, some people hate following rules, following rules is whats keeping my life together, so we have to disagree, some of us

To be honest there has been a certain level of censorship here. Posts that have been solely offensive, confusing or off-topic have been removed at times but no other actions have been taken towards the poster.

I must say that it is very clear-minded of you to identify your anger problem and own up to it. I think it's very strong of you.

Barahs suggestion is a good one but on Buddhist forum we are all attempting right speech. Former Monk John is aware of his tendencies and is making efforts. That really is the inspiration. No one here that I know of is trying to bicker, troll or be bothersome. No one. If we do so then it is up to moderators to perhaps make people aware of such tendencies or that we are tending that way. A solution is a temporary lock on a forum so that the passionate can calm themselves . . .
Another solution is for moderators to post on right speech with a warning about thread locking and perhaps a short cool down lock out.

Another possibility is some sort of flagging or rating of posts.

Heavey handed moderation by well meaning but just human beings is on the whole something to be avoided. Clear trolling, advertisers and fanatics can be warned and their posts deleted. They are easy to spot.

At the moment I feel the balance is right and I think all of us can and are doing our best to be a helpful resource . . . :pray:

Yes, I know no one is trying to be problematic, but sometimes emotions run wild, or maybe one just doesn't think about if one's post is beneficial to anyone or not. We have the flagging of posts through the reporting function, but only the moderators can see that.

i have noticed the same things about bickering wonky, and as a beginner trying to study and learn about buddhism, ive found it somewhat disheartening and distracting when im reading along and i find a personal "fight" in the middle of a thread im interested in. i also dont think banning people is the answer, but it is tiresome to find the same conflicts going on in multiple threads.

what occurred to me was that if these same members choose to argue with each other, perhaps they should confine these seemingly very personal struggles to private messaging, so that the flow of information isnt tainted for those who really just want to learn. perhaps removing these arguments from the thread and requesting that members who want to engage in the repetitive conflict do so in private would be a reasonable idea?

im really not terribly knowledgeable about forums and how they work, so i dont know if thats something that might work. just an idea i had while i was studying one day, and kept running into these "interruptions" of topics i was interested in.
 :namaste:

It would be good if the more heated arguments would continue through PMs (or preferrably not continue at all) but even that kind of PM arguments have ended up being reported to the moderators. If I put myself in the position of being in a heated argument, I can imagine that pride would keep me from continuing the argument through PMs. If I was sure that I was right and the other was wrong, maybe I want the rest of the community to see and acknowledge that. But that's just me.  :gawrsh:

:hug: Everyones.

Wonky you seem very amicable and open. :namaste:

All good comments from the members here.

Nothing to add but a thread glossary for the more lazy Buddha's( yep, that's me folks) regarding the different hindu/buddhist terms/words used so I can refer to them easier when reading threads. Maybe a sticky or something

many thanks :anjali:

A glossary would definitely be great, but it would be a humongous work to compile it. I'm certain that there might be several ones at other sites already though.
My actions are my only true belongings.
I cannot escape the consequences of my actions.
My actions are the ground on which I stand.
---
What would Buddha do?

Offline Hanzze

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Re: Time for some change?
« Reply #7 on: June 17, 2013, 07:28:03 am »
Seems to me more as if somebody is searching for justification to execute his own preferences. Well, that will not have any impact on what really matters of results of actions and that is the intention.

When ever your mind state is overwhelmed by hatred, greed or illusion, it will have impacts. And it really does not matter if the crowd is happy about this or not. So if you think in such a way, you might face that the attachment and certain identifications with some members (those you think that they are likely as you, or you think that they are here with good intention) is what is making troubles at least.

Quote
Truly, friends, for the arising of greed these two are the cause. Which two? An agreeable object and unwise (conceit) thinking.

Truly, friends, for the arising of aversion these two are the cause. Which two? An agreeable object and unwise (conceit) thinking.


And! You can not keep others for fighting each other.

So over all I simply remember you on some basics as it is a very fact that most "forum owner" are actually far away from misbehaviour them selves and such starts always with personal preferences and seldom with good judgment and simply keeping precepts in their basic forms:

In addition to providing these incentives for honestly admitting misbehavior, the Buddha blocked the paths to denial. Modern sociologists have identified five basic strategies that people use to avoid accepting blame when they've caused harm, and it's noteworthy that the Pali teaching on moral responsibility serves to undercut all five.

The strategies are:
 to deny responsibility,
to deny that harm was actually done,
to deny the worth of the victim,
to attack the accuser,
and to claim that they were acting in the service of a higher cause.

The Pali responses to these strategies are:

(1) We are always responsible for our conscious choices.
(2) We should always put ourselves in the other person's place.
(3) All beings are worthy of respect.
(4) We should regard those who point out our faults as if they were pointing out treasure. (Monks, in fact, are required not to show disrespect to people who criticize them, even if they don't plan to abide by the criticism.)
(5) There are no — repeat, no — higher purposes that excuse breaking the basic precepts of ethical behavior.


Banner, delete,... is always out of the roots of evil deeds. There is no killing, harming without faults at the first place.

But of course, you can kill for what you love and with quarantine the hell-wards will not ask you why.

"From where would we get any heedfulness, master? — when parents are to be supported, wife & children are to be supported, slaves & workers are to be supported, friend-&-companion duties are to be done for friends & companions, kinsmen-&-relative duties for kinsmen & relatives, guest duties for guests, departed-ancestor duties for departed ancestors, devata duties for devatas, king duties for the king, and this body also has to be refreshed & nourished."

"What do you think Dhanañjani? There is the case where a certain person, for the sake of his mother & father, does what is unrighteous, does what is discordant. Then, because of his unrighteous, discordant behavior, hell-wardens drag him off to hell. Would he gain anything by saying, 'I did what is unrighteous, what is discordant, for the sake of my mother & father. Don't [throw] me into hell, hell-wardens!' Or would his mother & father gain anything for him by saying, 'He did what is unrighteous, what is discordant, for our sake. Don't [throw] him into hell, hell-wardens!'?"

"No, master Sariputta. Even right while he was wailing, they'd cast him into hell."

"What do you think Dhanañjani? There is the case where a certain person, for the sake of his wife & children ... his slaves & workers ... his friends & companions ... his kinsmen & relatives ... his guests ... his departed ancestors ... the devatas ... the king, does what is unrighteous, does what is discordant. Then, because of his unrighteous, discordant behavior, hell-wardens drag him off to hell. Would he gain anything by saying, 'I did what is unrighteous, what is discordant, for the sake of the king. Don't [throw] me into hell, hell-wardens!' Or would the king gain anything for him by saying, 'He did what is unrighteous, what is discordant, for our sake. Don't [throw] him into hell, hell-wardens!'?"

"No, master Sariputta. Even right while he was wailing, they'd cast him into hell."

"What do you think Dhanañjani? There is the case where a certain person, for the sake of refreshing & nourishing his body, does what is unrighteous, does what is discordant. Then, because of his unrighteous, discordant behavior, hell-wardens drag him off to hell. Would he gain anything by saying, 'I did what is unrighteous, what is discordant, for the sake of refreshing & nourishing my body. Don't [throw] me into hell, hell-wardens!' Or would others gain anything for him by saying, 'He did what is unrighteous, what is discordant, for the sake of refreshing & nourishing his body. Don't [throw] him into hell, hell-wardens!'?"

"No, master Sariputta. Even right while he was wailing, they'd cast him into hell."

"Now, what do you think, Dhanañjani? Which is the better: one who, for the sake of his mother & father, would do what is unrighteous, what is discordant; or one who, for the sake of his mother & father, would do what is righteous, what is concordant?

"Master Sariputta, the one who, for the sake of his mother & father, would do what is unrighteous, what is discordant, is not the better one. The one who, for the sake of his mother & father, would do what is righteous, what is concordant would be the better one there. Righteous behavior, concordant behavior, is better than unrighteous behavior, discordant behavior.[2]

"Dhanañjani, there are other activities — reasonable, righteous — by which one can support one's mother & father, and at the same time both not do evil and practice the practice of merit.


Stay neutral and start to stick to the basics, or try to get there a little. Of course its lesser a matter of preferences but of basic confidence and faith.


And maybe you like to start to care about the bbc-code problem ... (look at the code in my post and how it appears) as this would be maybe a good side work as a admin.
« Last Edit: June 17, 2013, 07:29:56 am by Hanzze »

GoGet

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Re: Time for some change?
« Reply #8 on: June 17, 2013, 07:31:06 am »
Beginners

We get a lot of beginners.  Beginners don't need to be looking into subjects like emptiness and the self, especially in an atmosphere where no one agrees.  Beginners should be concerned with their practice, first and foremost and study of appropriate subject - Four Noble Truths, Eightfold Path, Dependent Origination.  Of course it's impossible to keep beginners out of the discussions we have on more advanced topics, which of course leads us to another dilemma.

If, after time has passed, a beginner feels like looking into Mahayana teachings and practice, there should be nothing offered to discourage this.  FreeSangha is not the most Mahayana-friendly friendly place, as evidenced by most of the Mahayanists that have spend time here have left.  I don't think it's right or fair for people to be slinging personal biases about their particular affiliation at the expense of other traditions.  We need to keep in mind that Theravada and Mahayana are quite different in certain respects and those differences should be met with respect rather than criticism.

Moderation

Needs to be fair and consistent.  Some contentious threads are locked and others are left open.  People can talk smack about Mahayana or it's teachers but the seconds someone uses the word "Hinayana", all hell breaks loose and nobody does anything about it.  People are allowed to perpetrate outright lies in support of their positions and the posts are allowed to remain and the thread locked.  Obvious trolls are ignored.

There are also subjects that the mods shouldn't allow.  If they are going to moderate a general interest Buddhist forum, they must understand that there are certain topics that simply should not be available to the public.  I'm speaking of the more esoteric practices of the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions.  Out here in the Real World discussions of things like Mahamudra, Dzogchen, Yidam and other practices are never conducted within earshot of those who have not been given permission to do those practices.  In many cases they aren't even allowed to see sadhanas or liturgies.  If our current staff doesn't have the background to moderate such topics in an appropriate manner, then someone should be recruited to do so (or maybe ask Caz to come back).  Allowing discussions of such practices to occur is just plain wrong and thumbs a collective nose at those traditions.

Despite these criticisms, I believe I've learned quite a bit on this forum.  I haven't really learned a thing about the Dharma or practice, but I've never come here for that.  I have my guru and lineage teachers for that.  What I have learned is a bit more about patience and knowing when to keep my virtual mouth shut.  I'm not perfect in that regard.

Offline Hanzze

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Re: Time for some change?
« Reply #9 on: June 17, 2013, 07:45:30 am »
Quote
Despite these criticisms, I believe I've learned quite a bit on this forum.  I haven't really learned a thing about the Dharma or practice, but I've never come here for that.  I have my guru and lineage teachers for that.  What I have learned is a bit more about patience and knowing when to keep my virtual mouth shut.  I'm not perfect in that regard.

Mind that...

I believe I've learned quite a bit on this forum.

I haven't really learned a thing about the Dharma or practice

Stick to the first one, and don't believe that you even have an idea of practice. It's the fist one that matters and makes effects, not your believe of how it would be nice.

Offline songhill

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Re: Time for some change?
« Reply #10 on: June 17, 2013, 08:24:58 am »
A real family or a real community doesn't go around banning people. People have to accept the fact that people have differing POVs. I have a large circle of friends in Atlanta. In a way we are more like a tribe. You just don't go kicking people out of the tribe. Our strength is our love for each other despite all of our differences. As tribal members all of us really have to practice love and toleration in a major way. Western Buddhists are not good at love or toleration. It's very sad. I have been around Buddhist forums since they first began. I think more people have been banned from these forums than the numbers of non-banned members. E-sangha was a prime example.

I enjoy the debates. It is a chance for newbies to watch from the sidelines to see who has the facts on their side and who doesn't. But I know some hate debates. They want a mutual admiration community—everyone has to walk in lockstep. But that is not feasible. That would be good for North Korean, but not in the good ole USA.

A rich Buddhist community must have diversity. It must also be challenging and exciting. Controversy and debate must be tolerated. Newbies need to learn to be less sensitive. Going up the learning curve is not easy. A lot of old baggage has to be tossed out. That can be painful. But nevertheless it has to be done. Back to my tribal ideal: we all have to love each other and show toleration for our differences. On that note, we can have a kick-ass community.

Love ya all !!!

Offline Hanzze

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Re: Time for some change?
« Reply #11 on: June 17, 2013, 08:43:33 am »
So I guess one should ask one self a very important question: Am I hear to practice and learn or am I hear to socialize?

And that goes for the maintainer as well. And I guess I don't need which of both leads to freedom and and of suffering and which to an increasing of problems and pain. Love and hate is a wheel.

Offline ground

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Re: Time for some change?
« Reply #12 on: June 17, 2013, 09:18:09 am »
Am I hear to practice and learn or am I hear to socialize?
Or am I listen to preach?  :fu:

Offline ground

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Re: Time for some change?
« Reply #13 on: June 17, 2013, 09:21:51 am »
Any thoughts on this? Or suggestions? Or criticism? :namaste:
Thoughts, suggestions or criticism are not likely to change anything ... just a thought.  :fu:

Offline songhill

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Re: Time for some change?
« Reply #14 on: June 17, 2013, 09:40:29 am »
Any thoughts on this? Or suggestions? Or criticism? :namaste:
Thoughts, suggestions or criticism are not likely to change anything ... just a thought.  :fu:

You're right Ground, especially, if you're telling this to shrubbery or a piece of lawn furniture. But I believe the owner of this forum is a very sincere person—our thoughts, suggestions, and criticisms do matter at some point. Change, by the way, it not essential if it is change for the sake of change.

 


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