What are the limitations to speech on this forum (beyond ToS)?

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fwiw
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What are the limitations to speech on this forum (beyond ToS)?

Post by fwiw » Sat Mar 23, 2019 10:48 am

I looked at the ToS and could not find the justification for the idea that every conversation on this forum should be about dharma, which I imagine means discussing doctrinal points while referring constantly to the texts and seeing how they apply to the various situations under scrutiny in said conversation.

I think it's safe to say that there is actually very little of the above taking place on this forum. Including from moderators. However, one of the moderators said
And yes, you're right, it has nothing to do with spreading Dhamma; it's just more political discussion. And that's why we don't allow any more political discussions, even lounge type topics, even the popular music thread. Now DWT just focuses on Dhamma. And the same should be done here too; this is for discussion of engaged buddhism. So now that we've all had the chance to express our opinions, time to close this and return to discussing engaged buddhism.
What I understand from the above is that on DWE, the same thing as what is happening on DWT should happen, which means, in my opinion, discussing doctrinal points while referring constantly to the texts and seeing how they apply to various situations (because this is what happens on DWT). And then based on that, the discussion quoted above was locked down because it was not enough about "Dha(r/m)ma" and "engaged buddhism". I am not going to comment on the reason for such a double standard, but will only point out that said moderator himself has opened several threads to discuss purely politics, which seems rather odd after having made the above statement.

Another thread was locked down by another moderator for the following reasons:
In the last five days, the conversation has been between only two people.
In the last X days (where X is much greater than 5) the conversation has had nothing whatever to do with the Dharma (however you choose to spell that).

The two people still interested may continue in private if they wish.
Meanwhile, I will lock the topic unless or until someone else expresses a wish for it to re-open (PM me with your reason).
So, it is apparently not allowed to be only 2 persons momentarily engaging in a particular discussion. This is rather strange because that same moderator has posted at least 80% of the posts in the 3-pages long thread The War On Plastic, not to mention other threads about climate change. I am actually happy that he can spread the word out there about the issues he feels deeply about, but if he, as a moderator, prevents others from being able to do the same, by shutting down a thread because the average number of participants over a certain amount of time is not higher than 2, I think it is fair to point out the double standard.

Also, as I said earlier, what does "having something to do with dharma" mean, exactly? Certainly not discussing doctrinal points while referring constantly to the texts and seeing how they apply to various situations. In my opinion, looking for the truth about a particular situation is looking for the dharma of said situation. Therefore, when that happens in a conversation, it's a conversation about dharma. (That is of course the case only if the discussion is actually about looking for the truth, in a honest way, putting ego-affirming motivations aside, being ready to concede any point at any time to anyone if it is the intellectually honest thing to do.)

After reading both these statements from moderators, I can see that most of what I say here can easily fall in the categories they have singled out as reasons for censure (not enough engagement from other users, not close enough to doctrinal Buddhist discussion etc.). Therefore, for the sake of all participants, I ask the question:

What are the limitations to speech we should impose on ourselves when posting on this forum (of course beyond what is stated in the ToS), if we want to avoid the prospect of being silenced at any time for any of the above reasons?

I think users deserve to know what the rules are, so that they can have a minimum of transparency about what posting on this forum entails.
... in my opinion

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Kim O'Hara
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Re: What are the limitations to speech on this forum (beyond ToS)?

Post by Kim O'Hara » Sat Mar 23, 2019 12:19 pm

fwiw wrote:
Sat Mar 23, 2019 10:48 am
...one of the moderators said
And yes, you're right, it has nothing to do with spreading Dhamma; it's just more political discussion. And that's why we don't allow any more political discussions, even lounge type topics, even the popular music thread. Now DWT just focuses on Dhamma. And the same should be done here too; this is for discussion of engaged buddhism. So now that we've all had the chance to express our opinions, time to close this and return to discussing engaged buddhism.
...
Before we go any further, please provide a source for this quote, for context. It makes a difference whether the mod was speaking as a mod (ideally green text like this) or as an private individual (not that we can always be as clear on that as we would like).

:thanks:
Kim

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Buck McGeehy
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Re: What are the limitations to speech on this forum (beyond ToS)?

Post by Buck McGeehy » Sat Mar 23, 2019 5:07 pm

If I may be of help, the quote is from the last post in the following locked thread: viewtopic.php?f=11&t=543&start=20

My understanding of DNS's comment is that there is no prohibition on talking about worldly matters. In fact there are specific chat areas on this forum, I believe. Rather, if I understand DNS correctly, the aspiration in a Buddhist discussion forum is to focus on Dharma discussion, or how worldly matters may be engaged in the context of our Dharma practice.

On the other hand, comments devoid of any Dharma content are not necessarily prohibited by TOS, if I understand correctly. Rather, they are just a distraction from what the forum is all about, and they can be disruptive, as witnessed in other contexts not to be specifically identified here.
Engaged Buddhism - A movement within Buddhism which puts emphasis on taking affirmative actions within one's community to address manifest human suffering such as poverty, hunger, environmental harm, and public health issues.

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Buck McGeehy
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Re: What are the limitations to speech on this forum (beyond ToS)?

Post by Buck McGeehy » Sat Mar 23, 2019 7:10 pm

Further clarification:
DNS wrote:
Mon Nov 12, 2018 3:15 am
DWE provides an outlet for Dhamma Wheel refugees who wish to discuss politics with Buddhist kalayana-mittas (spiritual friends) for a potential Dhammic perspective in addition to the engaged Buddhism discussion that is also offered here.
In my view, we should aspire in our posts to embody kalayana-mittas. That will not always happen, and as far as I know, it is not a requirement under TOS.
Engaged Buddhism - A movement within Buddhism which puts emphasis on taking affirmative actions within one's community to address manifest human suffering such as poverty, hunger, environmental harm, and public health issues.

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Kim O'Hara
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Re: What are the limitations to speech on this forum (beyond ToS)?

Post by Kim O'Hara » Sat Mar 23, 2019 10:32 pm

Buck McGeehy wrote:
Sat Mar 23, 2019 5:07 pm
If I may be of help, the quote is from the last post in the following locked thread: viewtopic.php?f=11&t=543&start=20
Thanks, Buck.
As I suspected, it has been taken out of context.
My understanding of DNS's comment is that there is no prohibition on talking about worldly matters. In fact there are specific chat areas on this forum, I believe. Rather, if I understand DNS correctly, the aspiration in a Buddhist discussion forum is to focus on Dharma discussion, or how worldly matters may be engaged in the context of our Dharma practice.

On the other hand, comments devoid of any Dharma content are not necessarily prohibited by TOS, if I understand correctly. Rather, they are just a distraction from what the forum is all about, and they can be disruptive, as witnessed in other contexts not to be specifically identified here.
That's not really accurate. Perhaps you will see why, if I reply to the OP now.

:namaste:
Kim

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Dorje Shedrub
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Re: What are the limitations to speech on this forum (beyond ToS)?

Post by Dorje Shedrub » Sat Mar 23, 2019 10:55 pm

TOS wrote:Dharma Wheel (Engaged Buddhism) is a combined Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana Buddhist forum focused primarily on bringing together a community of people who are interested in the application of the Dhamma/Dharma to social, and environmental concerns.


There are tons of online forums to discuss politics and every other imaginable topic, but this forum has a Buddhist focus as stated in the TOS. Because this is a new forum, moderators have not strictly enforced this however, threads not related to the Dhamma/Dharma are subject to being considered off-topic. If the Dharmic relationship is not clearly evident, it would be helpful for the op to explain the connection.

DS

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Kim O'Hara
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Re: What are the limitations to speech on this forum (beyond ToS)?

Post by Kim O'Hara » Sat Mar 23, 2019 11:25 pm

Hi, fwiw - welcome back.
fwiw wrote:
Sat Mar 23, 2019 10:48 am
I looked at the ToS and could not find the justification for the idea that every conversation on this forum should be about dharma,
You won't find it there, because it isn't there.
fwiw wrote:
Sat Mar 23, 2019 10:48 am
which I imagine means discussing doctrinal points while referring constantly to the texts and seeing how they apply to the various situations under scrutiny in said conversation.
That would be both unnecessary and unworkable.
fwiw wrote:
Sat Mar 23, 2019 10:48 am
I think it's safe to say that there is actually very little of the above taking place on this forum. Including from moderators.
Quite true. As I said in another conversation about the way the forum is working, dharma as such isn't mentioned here very much because it forms a background set of assumptions (for ourselves) and agreements (with other users) which hardly needs to be stated, and that when it is stated it hardly needs discussing. If we are talking to non-practitioners, we often have to talk about why we think as we do, but not here. That suggests that an Engaged Buddhism board will normally be what we see here: politics and current events, opportunities for activism, etc.
fwiw wrote:
Sat Mar 23, 2019 10:48 am
However, one of the moderators said
And yes, you're right, it has nothing to do with spreading Dhamma; it's just more political discussion. And that's why we don't allow any more political discussions, even lounge type topics, even the popular music thread. Now DWT just focuses on Dhamma. And the same should be done here too; this is for discussion of engaged buddhism. So now that we've all had the chance to express our opinions, time to close this and return to discussing engaged buddhism.
What I understand from the above is that on DWE, the same thing as what is happening on DWT should happen, which means, in my opinion, discussing doctrinal points while referring constantly to the texts and seeing how they apply to various situations (because this is what happens on DWT). And then based on that, the discussion quoted above was locked down because it was not enough about "Dha(r/m)ma" and "engaged buddhism". I am not going to comment on the reason for such a double standard, but will only point out that said moderator himself has opened several threads to discuss purely politics, which seems rather odd after having made the above statement.
You have taken this quote out of context and proceeded to misinterpret it. David was talking about DWT, in a thread which was primarily about DWT. DWT is not DWE - different aims, different rules, different mods.
When David said, "And the same should be done here too; this is for discussion of engaged buddhism. So now that we've all had the chance to express our opinions, time to close this and return to discussing engaged buddhism," he was referring to DWE but was not particularly advocating the scripture-all-the-way style which you "imagined" earlier. Indeed, since he assisted in setting up DWE and developing its TOS, I think it's safe to say he approves (generally!) of the way it operates.

fwiw wrote:
Sat Mar 23, 2019 10:48 am
Another thread was locked down by another moderator for the following reasons:
In the last five days, the conversation has been between only two people.
In the last X days (where X is much greater than 5) the conversation has had nothing whatever to do with the Dharma (however you choose to spell that).

The two people still interested may continue in private if they wish.
Meanwhile, I will lock the topic unless or until someone else expresses a wish for it to re-open (PM me with your reason).
That was me. :smile:
For the record, no-one at all has PM'ed me about it - including the two participants, chownah and yourself.
:thinking:
fwiw wrote:
Sat Mar 23, 2019 10:48 am
So, it is apparently not allowed to be only 2 persons momentarily engaging in a particular discussion. This is rather strange because that same moderator has posted at least 80% of the posts in the 3-pages long thread The War On Plastic, not to mention other threads about climate change. I am actually happy that he can spread the word out there about the issues he feels deeply about, but if he, as a moderator, prevents others from being able to do the same, by shutting down a thread because the average number of participants over a certain amount of time is not higher than 2, I think it is fair to point out the double standard.

Also, as I said earlier, what does "having something to do with dharma" mean, exactly? Certainly not discussing doctrinal points while referring constantly to the texts and seeing how they apply to various situations. In my opinion, looking for the truth about a particular situation is looking for the dharma of said situation. Therefore, when that happens in a conversation, it's a conversation about dharma. (That is of course the case only if the discussion is actually about looking for the truth, in a honest way, putting ego-affirming motivations aside, being ready to concede any point at any time to anyone if it is the intellectually honest thing to do.)

After reading both these statements from moderators, I can see that most of what I say here can easily fall in the categories they have singled out as reasons for censure (not enough engagement from other users, not close enough to doctrinal Buddhist discussion etc.). Therefore, for the sake of all participants, I ask the question:

What are the limitations to speech we should impose on ourselves when posting on this forum (of course beyond what is stated in the ToS), if we want to avoid the prospect of being silenced at any time for any of the above reasons? [emphasis added]

I think users deserve to know what the rules are, so that they can have a minimum of transparency about what posting on this forum entails.
Your key question (bolded) deserves an answer so I will do the best I can in the time I've got.
(1) The formal rules and guidelines are the TOS.
Beyond that ...
(2) Given what I said above about dharma being the background rather than the foreground of our discussion, most of our topics will be about current affairs (although some will be just for fun, and some will focus on Buddhism as such). There won't be much reason to talk about our motivation that is of course welcome.
(3) Right Speech. Anything dishonest or malicious tends to be censured or censored quickly. (That's in the TOS anyway, in different words.)
(4) Some connection to engaged action in the world is desirable.
(5) The team members have slightly different priorities and roles, which will inevitably be reflected in their (our) decisions.

For the record (although you've probably worked it out), I am the primary moderator and admin; Dorje Shedrub provides moderation support, while David provides admin support but rarely engages in moderation.

Finally ... I have given you this much space in the interests of transparency but I don't want a long-running thread about DWE as such or about moderation decisions. And I absolutely will not tolerate any more discussion of DWT or its polices here.

:namaste:
Kim

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lyndon taylor
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Re: What are the limitations to speech on this forum (beyond ToS)?

Post by lyndon taylor » Sun Mar 24, 2019 12:38 am

Actually I PMd you about it and commented on it, I think the Venezuela thread shouldn't have been locked.
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk.

http://trickleupeconomictheory.blogspot.com/

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Re: What are the limitations to speech on this forum (beyond ToS)?

Post by Kim O'Hara » Sun Mar 24, 2019 1:32 am

lyndon taylor wrote:
Sun Mar 24, 2019 12:38 am
Actually I PMd you about it and commented on it, I think the Venezuela thread shouldn't have been locked.
Hi, Lyndon,
You posted to another thread wondering where fwiw was, and then PM'ed me saying it "would be good to hear from him" but you didn't mention Venezuela in either of those and I can find no other PM's from you in that timeframe.
Perhaps your memory is a bit blurred?
If you can find the PM you're thinking of, please re-send it.

:namaste:
Kim

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Re: What are the limitations to speech on this forum (beyond ToS)?

Post by lyndon taylor » Sun Mar 24, 2019 2:12 am

Well I'm saying it now, I don't think the thread should have been locked, I was getting valuable information from reading it.
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk.

http://trickleupeconomictheory.blogspot.com/

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Re: What are the limitations to speech on this forum (beyond ToS)?

Post by Buck McGeehy » Sun Mar 24, 2019 7:12 am

Dorje Shedrub wrote:
Sat Mar 23, 2019 10:55 pm
If the Dharmic relationship is not clearly evident, it would be helpful for the op to explain the connection.
Makes sense to me.
Engaged Buddhism - A movement within Buddhism which puts emphasis on taking affirmative actions within one's community to address manifest human suffering such as poverty, hunger, environmental harm, and public health issues.

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fwiw
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Re: What are the limitations to speech on this forum (beyond ToS)?

Post by fwiw » Sun Mar 24, 2019 10:04 am

Dorje Shedrub wrote:
Sat Mar 23, 2019 10:55 pm
this forum has a Buddhist focus as stated in the TOS. Because this is a new forum, moderators have not strictly enforced this however, threads not related to the Dhamma/Dharma are subject to being considered off-topic.
Well, this confirms everything I suspected. Now, at least, it's clear. Thanks.
... in my opinion

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Re: What are the limitations to speech on this forum (beyond ToS)?

Post by Kim O'Hara » Sun Mar 24, 2019 10:24 am

fwiw wrote:
Sun Mar 24, 2019 10:04 am
Dorje Shedrub wrote:
Sat Mar 23, 2019 10:55 pm
this forum has a Buddhist focus as stated in the TOS. Because this is a new forum, moderators have not strictly enforced this however, threads not related to the Dhamma/Dharma are subject to being considered off-topic.
Well, this confirms everything I suspected. Now, at least, it's clear. Thanks.
I don't disagree with what DS said but I would have put it a bit differently, perhaps changing the emphasis.

DWE was never intended to function as an alternative news site - as DS said, "There are tons of online forums to discuss politics and every other imaginable topic, but this forum has a Buddhist focus." On the other hand, we're not generally going to object to news, current affairs, politics, jokes, etc, even if they have nothing to do with the dhamma so long as they (1) may reasonably be expected to be of interest to members and (2) don't overstay their welcome by swamping the good stuff or by causing dissension.
My own feeling is that it's good to be able to share all kinds of things with a group of people with good values.

That's about as clear as we can make it for now, I think. I'm happy to leave it at that, if everyone else is.

:namaste:
Kim

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fwiw
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Re: What are the limitations to speech on this forum (beyond ToS)?

Post by fwiw » Mon Mar 25, 2019 6:40 pm

Kim O'Hara wrote:
Sun Mar 24, 2019 10:24 am
DWE was never intended to function as an alternative news site - as DS said, "There are tons of online forums to discuss politics and every other imaginable topic, but this forum has a Buddhist focus." On the other hand, we're not generally going to object to news, current affairs, politics, jokes, etc, even if they have nothing to do with the dhamma so long as they (1) may reasonably be expected to be of interest to members and (2) don't overstay their welcome by swamping the good stuff or by causing dissension.
My own feeling is that it's good to be able to share all kinds of things with a group of people with good values.

That's about as clear as we can make it for now, I think. I'm happy to leave it at that, if everyone else is.
My idea has always been that whatever is linked to world peace and general conditions conducive to Buddhist practice (such as capital, leisure) would be appropriate to discuss here. I was apparently wrong.

Which is why I think it would be useful to clarify these things so that the users understand and know when they are having a behavior that is frowned upon by the moderation.
... in my opinion

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Re: What are the limitations to speech on this forum (beyond ToS)?

Post by Dorje Shedrub » Mon Mar 25, 2019 7:37 pm

fwiw wrote:
Mon Mar 25, 2019 6:40 pm
Kim O'Hara wrote:
Sun Mar 24, 2019 10:24 am
DWE was never intended to function as an alternative news site - as DS said, "There are tons of online forums to discuss politics and every other imaginable topic, but this forum has a Buddhist focus." On the other hand, we're not generally going to object to news, current affairs, politics, jokes, etc, even if they have nothing to do with the dhamma so long as they (1) may reasonably be expected to be of interest to members and (2) don't overstay their welcome by swamping the good stuff or by causing dissension.
My own feeling is that it's good to be able to share all kinds of things with a group of people with good values.

That's about as clear as we can make it for now, I think. I'm happy to leave it at that, if everyone else is.
My idea has always been that whatever is linked to world peace and general conditions conducive to Buddhist practice (such as capital, leisure) would be appropriate to discuss here. I was apparently wrong.

Which is why I think it would be useful to clarify these things so that the users understand and know when they are having a behavior that is frowned upon by the moderation.
As Kim explained, it is a bit subjective, but world peace is definitely a Buddhist topic. My point is that we should attempt to have a Dharma focus even if it is implied, such as topics about animal rights, capital punishment, environmental care, etc.

DS
"As far as social economic theory is concerned, I am Marxist. " ~ HHDL

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