Why was E-Sangha controversial?

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Why was E-Sangha controversial?

Postby Rakshasa » Tue Dec 18, 2012 6:18 pm

I only started browsing Buddhist forums about a year or two ago and have often read the mention of "E-Sangha" in the negative connotation. I did some google search to check out about why it was so controversial and came to know that it was hacked.

Why was it hacked? And why was it not resurrected again? I am getting the intuition that there may have been some Theravada-Mahayana conflicts in that forum?
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Re: Why was E-Sangha controversial?

Postby Yudron » Tue Dec 18, 2012 6:46 pm

Rakshasa wrote:I only started browsing Buddhist forums about a year or two ago and have often read the mention of "E-Sangha" in the negative connotation. I did some google search to check out about why it was so controversial and came to know that it was hacked.

Why was it hacked? And why was it not resurrected again? I am getting the intuition that there may have been some Theravada-Mahayana conflicts in that forum?


I think you will get a lot of opinions on that! But I personally did not witness any Theravada-Mahayana conflicts.

The moderators took stances on nearly every controversial subject in Buddhism by banning a lot of groups and perspectives--much more heavy handed than things are in this forum. I heard there were lawsuits filed against them, and so on. They would ban people left and right, and there was a lot of evidence that they read people's personal messages to each other, even though they denied it. Kind of a paranoid embattled feeling. I'm sure the mods were all good people and very earnest in what they were doing, but it was becoming quite negative by the time I went into retreat in early 2009. That being said, before that it was very large and active for a while, and therefore fun for me. I wasn't on the internet when it was hacked.

Running a board like this, and taking so much heat for your decisions and actions would be beyond my capacity to handle. People react in various ways to the stress.
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Re: Why was E-Sangha controversial?

Postby Konchog1 » Tue Dec 18, 2012 7:19 pm

I agree with Yudron. I only used E sangha for about a year (iirc) before it went down, so I didn't have much experience with the site. But as I recall, there were no problems between Mahayana and Theravada, but a lot of Zen people got banned for posting ideas against the TOS.

That was basically it. Different groups and individuals violating the TOS, getting banned, and complaining about it.
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Re: Why was E-Sangha controversial?

Postby Jikan » Tue Dec 18, 2012 7:33 pm

Konchog1 wrote:That was basically it. Different groups and individuals violating the TOS, getting banned, and complaining about it.


That's the short version (I was a moderator for about two years before e-sangha imploded). I understand there's someone who was banned at e-sangha and a few other boards out there who is writing a book on this topic and may well be reviewing DharmaWheel right now for material.

One instance of friction came up regarding some American Zen approaches to the definition of Buddhahood, which were in patent contradiction to traditional definitions. The moderators & admins took one side, some users took the other, and the rest is cyber history. A Zen-specific forum (ZFI) emerged from that particular brouhaha; I understand it's still up and running, although with somewhat different leadership. There are a number of good participants there.
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Re: Why was E-Sangha controversial?

Postby Karma Dondrup Tashi » Tue Dec 18, 2012 7:47 pm

It wasn't controversial it was just sexy and it knew it.

:stirthepot:
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Re: Why was E-Sangha controversial?

Postby justsit » Tue Dec 18, 2012 8:00 pm

Apparently it was not resurrected because all the data had been lost, and the thing had gotten so big. It was pretty much funded by one person, AFAIK, and the costs to handle the size became prohibitive.
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Re: Why was E-Sangha controversial?

Postby David N. Snyder » Tue Dec 18, 2012 10:20 pm

justsit wrote:It was pretty much funded by one person, AFAIK, and the costs to handle the size became prohibitive.


I don't think so. There were google ads and other advertising all over the place and there were also "Gold donors" "Silver donors" and "Bronze donors" of members who gave and/or pledged a certain amount every month. I believe there was more than enough funds to keep it going; it was hacked and he didn't have back-ups.

FYI, we do back-ups here. :smile:

It was around 1.2 million total posts at the end and over 58,000 members, so apparently he (or they) lost interest in trying to re-start it from scratch.
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Re: Why was E-Sangha controversial?

Postby viniketa » Tue Dec 18, 2012 10:50 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:I believe there was more than enough funds to keep it going; it was hacked and he didn't have back-ups. It was around 1.2 million total posts at the end and over 58,000 members, so apparently he (or they) lost interest in trying to re-start it from scratch.


I was a member there for several years. There were some funds, not that much, really. Very few were actual paying members. The ad income was small. In the end, the person who had maintained the servers couldn't afford the time nor the money to maintain the level of servers it needed for the hits it got on top of the level of security once the cyber attacks started. So, there were administrative issues that were made worse by the attacks. There was a long period of concentrated attacks that started just before I stopped looking in on it.

There was a bit of internecine squabbling (not just with Theravada/Mahayana) that a certain amount of moderator inflexibility tended to exacerbate. The Zen issue mentioned above reverberated off-board for awhile, with some moderators becoming targets at their home (Namdrol, for one). But the board was also under constant barrage from non-Buddhists and other religions. I don't know that they ever traced the source of the attacks. In the end, they did lose all the data after one attack and it would have been too expensive and time consuming to try to re-build.

Lots of lessons, there, for DW and others. One of the primary being to stay on top of "right speech" issues such that intractable arguments don't get started.

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If they can sever like and dislike, along with greed, anger, and delusion, regardless of their difference in nature, they will all accomplish the Buddha Path.. ~ Sutra of Complete Enlightenment
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Re: Why was E-Sangha controversial?

Postby songhill » Tue Dec 18, 2012 11:05 pm

Bernard Shaw, I my view, sums up what went wrong with E-Sangha and the recurrent problem with Buddhist discussion groups, in general.

The censorship method ... is that of handing the job over to some frail and erring mortal man, and making him omnipotent on the assumption that his official status will make him infallible and omniscient. — George Bernard Shaw (1856–1950)
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Re: Why was E-Sangha controversial?

Postby Kunzang » Tue Dec 18, 2012 11:31 pm

It is strongly recommended that you wear your highest quality tinfoil hat before reading this post. :spy:

Even before e-sangha started there was a conspiracy theory being circulated that there is a Jesuit who is virulently anti-Buddhist and has former ties to the CIA who has been responsible for starting some of the most popular Buddhist discussion forums on the net (all now defunct -- or are they? :thinking:). His goal, of course, being to damage Buddhism from within its own ranks (a classic spook technique). At one time, the individual and some of his aliases was named by a "researcher", along with "proof" of his activity. I'm not going to link to that person's "research", but she and her website are not hard to find.

Now for the curious part: I joined e-sangha a couple of months after it started. Initially, a user named "Nevermind" was member number 1, and "Teyes" was member number 2. Nevermind used to sign his posts with one of the aliases mentioned by the aforementioned researcher. After a few months, Teyes (now identified as the Founding Member) wrote a story explaining why he started e-sangha; sometime shortly after that story appeared Nevermind's member number changed to 53 -- and then not too long after that Nevermind's account disappeared altogether. To add to the cloak-and-dagger appeal of this tale was Nevermind's avatar which was a hooded medieval monk with the face obscured.

So, there you have it. E-sangha was really just a psy-op project meant to discredit Buddhism. :spy:
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Re: Why was E-Sangha controversial?

Postby viniketa » Tue Dec 18, 2012 11:41 pm

Kunzang wrote:It is strongly recommended that you wear your highest quality tinfoil hat before reading this post.


Hipwaders might be more useful. :smile:

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If they can sever like and dislike, along with greed, anger, and delusion, regardless of their difference in nature, they will all accomplish the Buddha Path.. ~ Sutra of Complete Enlightenment
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Re: Why was E-Sangha controversial?

Postby KeithBC » Tue Dec 18, 2012 11:56 pm

It was unpopular in some sectors because it took an active stance on Buddhist orthodoxy. Personal views that were not substantiated by scripture were not welcome. The anarchist sector of the Internet population could not stand being moderated, as is true on any well-run forum. It went down because it was hacked by people who took exception to its orthodox position.

No forum that is readable is fully funded by advertising. The good ones all require a substantial ongoing investment by the owners. Conversely, the ones that are supported only by advertising are unusable. I think that, after it was hacked, its owner was unwilling to re-invest in it. There were legal threats made against the owner at the time, that he may have been unwilling to try to fight.
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Re: Why was E-Sangha controversial?

Postby Kunzang » Wed Dec 19, 2012 12:01 am

viniketa wrote:
Kunzang wrote:It is strongly recommended that you wear your highest quality tinfoil hat before reading this post.


Hipwaders might be more useful. :smile:

:namaste:


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:D
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Re: Why was E-Sangha controversial?

Postby Jinzang » Wed Dec 19, 2012 3:06 am

E-Sangha enforced a conservative view of Buddhism and those who held a different viewpoint both resented that and being moderated when they expressed that disagreement.
Lamrim, lojong, and mahamudra are the unmistaken path.
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Re: Why was E-Sangha controversial?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed Dec 19, 2012 8:32 am

KeithBC wrote:The anarchist sector of the Internet population could not stand being moderated, as is true on any well-run forum.
I am an anarchist AND (now) a moderator (here) and was a member of e-sangha and never had a problem with the set up (nor was ever warned or banned for my behaviour)! What do you make of that my dear Keith? :smile:
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Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: Why was E-Sangha controversial?

Postby Fruitzilla » Wed Dec 19, 2012 9:40 am

KeithBC wrote:It was unpopular in some sectors because it took an active stance on Buddhist orthodoxy. Personal views that were not substantiated by scripture were not welcome. The anarchist sector of the Internet population could not stand being moderated, as is true on any well-run forum. It went down because it was hacked by people who took exception to its orthodox position.

No forum that is readable is fully funded by advertising. The good ones all require a substantial ongoing investment by the owners. Conversely, the ones that are supported only by advertising are unusable. I think that, after it was hacked, its owner was unwilling to re-invest in it. There were legal threats made against the owner at the time, that he may have been unwilling to try to fight.


Actually, a big part of the "anarchist" sector of the internet population usually doesn't mind being moderated at all, as long as the moderation is grounded in respect and reason. The thing which people mostly got angry about was the heavy handed, unthinking, fundamentalist approach to said moderation.
IIRC Dhamma Wheel was founded before e-sangha got hacked, because a lot of Theravadins didn't want to be there anymore.
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Re: Why was E-Sangha controversial?

Postby Fruitzilla » Wed Dec 19, 2012 9:42 am

gregkavarnos wrote:
KeithBC wrote:The anarchist sector of the Internet population could not stand being moderated, as is true on any well-run forum.
I am an anarchist AND (now) a moderator (here) and was a member of e-sangha and never had a problem with the set up (nor was ever warned or banned for my behaviour)! What do you make of that my dear Keith? :smile:
:namaste:


Ehm, your views are solidly on the "good" side of the fence where e-sangha was concerned, so it's quite logical you never had a problem.
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Re: Why was E-Sangha controversial?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed Dec 19, 2012 10:27 am

Fruitzilla wrote:Ehm, your views are solidly on the "good" side of the fence where e-sangha was concerned, so it's quite logical you never had a problem.
Are you insinuating that my views are not "good"? :spy:
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Why was E-Sangha controversial?

Postby udawa » Wed Dec 19, 2012 11:22 am

The demise of esangha was explained thus by Malcolm Smith in an earlier thread http://dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f=40&t=4601&start=160

E-sangha was hacked by tamil tiger hackers who were pissed at a debate about Sinhalese nationalism occuring on E-Sangha at the time-- then the hosting company pooched the backup when the database was corrupted. All very straightforward and nothing mysterious.

For the most part, all the other successful Buddhist boards are running under modified sets of rules developed out of their experience at e-Sangha.

E-Sangha, for the most part, failed because it tried to satisfy the competing values of three major Buddhist traditions, Thervada, Zen and Tibetan Buddhism. Now there are three boards, with three different sets of former E-Sangha moderators in these three spheres. And they all have policies more or less derived from E-Sangha with modifications made according to their own experience.

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Edwards: You are a philosopher. Dr Johnson: I have tried too in my time to be a philosopher; but, I don't know how, cheerfulness was always breaking in.
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Re: Why was E-Sangha controversial?

Postby Fruitzilla » Wed Dec 19, 2012 12:25 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:
Fruitzilla wrote:Ehm, your views are solidly on the "good" side of the fence where e-sangha was concerned, so it's quite logical you never had a problem.
Are you insinuating that my views are not "good"? :spy:


Only where they differ from mine. :tongue:
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