Why was E-Sangha controversial?

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Re: Why was E-Sangha controversial?

Postby kirtu » Sat Dec 22, 2012 2:41 am

songhill wrote:
kirtu wrote:
Correctly moderated groups have a higher signal to noise ratio and much less misinformation.


First of all, what are the specific elements of a "correctly moderated" Buddhist forum? Misinformation is certainly not one of them—not in the TOSs I have read over the years. How do you determine misinformation? The term is too abstract. On one forum, I commented that Dogen's succession certificate (shisho) was a medieval forgery; I even included the citation. I was kicked out of the group. That wasn't about misinformation—it was censorship.


Sure, I would agree. Correct moderation is not easily definable but outright censorship is not what I had in mind.

eSangha took the stance that denying rebirth and karma was out of bounds and also was somewhat restrictive on the nature of enlightenment specifically wrt Zen experience even if such views are in fact representative of streams of Zen. It should not have been so restrictive while at the same time attempting to uphold the core of Buddhism. It was concerned with creeping New Age influences but could have employed a lighter hand.

As for misinformation per se not being represented in the TOS's - the eSangha TOS from memory did explicitly address denial of karma and rebirth. I don't remember whether it codified models of Buddhahood. It thus sought to restrict misinformation through these rules.

How would you improve moderation in general?

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Re: Why was E-Sangha controversial?

Postby songhill » Sat Dec 22, 2012 4:34 am

kirtu wrote:How would you improve moderation in general?

Kirt


For starters, Dharma Wheel might do what some IV league schools do with the so-called "student evaluation" only apply it to moderators. A simple check-off rating list might be helpful after discussants post x amount of comments (e.g., 500). A 5 would be the highest rating for a moderator. 3 gets into the territory of "this moderator needs some help." Also the TOS rules need to be clearer and less ambiguous. There also needs to be a statement of the rights of discussants relating, for example, to academic freedom. The unintended consequences of this might make Dharma Wheel more helpful, demonstrating a concern for fellow discussants.
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Re: Why was E-Sangha controversial?

Postby kirtu » Sat Dec 22, 2012 5:27 am

songhill wrote:
kirtu wrote:How would you improve moderation in general?


For starters, ... might do what some IV league schools do with the so-called "student evaluation" only apply it to moderators. A simple check-off rating list might be helpful after discussants post x amount of comments (e.g., 500). A 5 would be the highest rating for a moderator. 3 gets into the territory of "this moderator needs some help." Also the TOS rules need to be clearer and less ambiguous. There also needs to be a statement of the rights of discussants relating, for example, to academic freedom. The unintended consequences of this might make ... more helpful, demonstrating a concern for fellow discussants.


I meant in general. So you'd like a kind of evaluation of moderators and clearer TOS rules (I thought they were pretty clear on eSangha and other sites I have been on). When we start going down the "rights of discussants relating, for example, to academic freedom" route .... I'm not a big fan of "rights" because to some extent they are antithetical to an enlightened society and to enlightened speech and discussion (which I hope is what we are striving for). As an example, we have various rights controversies in the US on an hourly basis, some legitimate and some not so legitimate but all a logical evolution of the conflict between principle and codification of rules. I spent several years writing rules based expert systems for an intelligent system fielded by a Fortune 70 company and know that precision in rules is very difficult and much more difficult in social systems (and that Goedel proved essentially that we can't cover everything without resorting to a higher system - it is possible that deontic logic could cover this but it hasn't been applied to TOS systems to my knowledge [and anyway, people wouldn't really follow it without applying an executable system] - there's a mini-paper "Deontic Logic Applied to Discussion Board TOS").

I think it's appropriate to ask "Can't we all just get along?" without irony. And if not, why? People do need protections from powerful interests as we see demonstrably in the US and other nations demonstrating a significant degree of social inequality. Quite frankly some people would like to saction me at times for addressing US social problems (which I did strenuously on eSangha and was warned about a few times) and for being an open sceptic about the so-called progressive values of the major English speaking cultures but at the end of the day I'm not trying to insult or denigrate anyone or cause harm. Do/did people really need codified protections on boards like eSangha? I was surprised at some of the decisions by moderators there sometimes but usually it seems to me they got it right. Anyway, I think no one was banned for life and the intention was to facilitate open discussion without people being harmed or muzzled (a point that some dispute of course). But at the end of a banning (ugh .... :crying: - can't we find an alternative like a time out box from hockey or something) people could rejoin the board.

Literally no system can be without unintended consequences (Goedel again). But can't we maximize discussion and interaction without heavy handed rule based systems?

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Re: Why was E-Sangha controversial?

Postby Dan74 » Sat Dec 22, 2012 3:30 pm

I say let the members have the right to warn the mods. We have to turn the tables around on these power-hungry oppressors. Viva la Revolution! Image

Then once a mod has, lets say, a dozen warnings (we'll be generous) he/she is suspended for a month, to cool off. Three suspensions=ban.

Transparent and accountable government is the key. Down with dictatorship!
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Re: Why was E-Sangha controversial?

Postby wayland » Sat Dec 22, 2012 4:51 pm

It's hard to get the balance right, especially if the mods don't know anything about new members. Some people join sites to troll or push some weird agenda of their own, in which case (after a warning etc) they should be banned. I've seen a few sites where just about anything goes and it's not pretty either. No easy answers but courtesy and giving people the benefit of the doubt go a long way.
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Re: Why was E-Sangha controversial?

Postby JKhedrup » Sat Dec 22, 2012 4:58 pm

say let the members have the right to warn the mods. We have to turn the tables around on these power-hungry oppressors. Viva la Revolution!


I agree! But then you have to pay me a salary- at least enough to sponsor the monks in the house of my teachers at Sera.

(Just kidding)
A foolish man proclaims his qualifications,
A wise man keeps them secret within.
A straw floats on the surface of water,
But a precious gem placed upon it sinks to the depths
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Re: Why was E-Sangha controversial?

Postby songhill » Sat Dec 22, 2012 5:27 pm

kirtu wrote:

I meant in general. So you'd like a kind of evaluation of moderators and clearer TOS rules (I thought they were pretty clear on eSangha and other sites I have been on). When we start going down the "rights of discussants relating, for example, to academic freedom" route .... I'm not a big fan of "rights" because to some extent they are antithetical to an enlightened society and to enlightened speech and discussion (which I hope is what we are striving for). As an example, we have various rights controversies in the US on an hourly basis, some legitimate and some not so legitimate but all a logical evolution of the conflict between principle and codification of rules. I spent several years writing rules based expert systems for an intelligent system fielded by a Fortune 70 company and know that precision in rules is very difficult and much more difficult in social systems (and that Goedel proved essentially that we can't cover everything without resorting to a higher system - it is possible that deontic logic could cover this but it hasn't been applied to TOS systems to my knowledge [and anyway, people wouldn't really follow it without applying an executable system] - there's a mini-paper "Deontic Logic Applied to Discussion Board TOS").

I think it's appropriate to ask "Can't we all just get along?" without irony. And if not, why? People do need protections from powerful interests as we see demonstrably in the US and other nations demonstrating a significant degree of social inequality. Quite frankly some people would like to saction me at times for addressing US social problems (which I did strenuously on eSangha and was warned about a few times) and for being an open sceptic about the so-called progressive values of the major English speaking cultures but at the end of the day I'm not trying to insult or denigrate anyone or cause harm. Do/did people really need codified protections on boards like eSangha? I was surprised at some of the decisions by moderators there sometimes but usually it seems to me they got it right. Anyway, I think no one was banned for life and the intention was to facilitate open discussion without people being harmed or muzzled (a point that some dispute of course). But at the end of a banning (ugh .... :crying: - can't we find an alternative like a time out box from hockey or something) people could rejoin the board.

Literally no system can be without unintended consequences (Goedel again). But can't we maximize discussion and interaction without heavy handed rule based systems?

Kirt


Historically looked at, the unintended consequences of heavily moderated discussion groups goes more or less the way of E-Sangha. ZFI and NewBuddhist are good examples. A rule system always exists not to mention a system of power. The rule system is internalized in the moderators, themselves, which is a capricious one. It is sort of like the "blue-caps" (state security) of the Stalinist era, in the sense that giving an infallible creature power, they will naturally abuse it.
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Re: Why was E-Sangha controversial?

Postby KeithBC » Sat Dec 22, 2012 9:47 pm

songhill wrote: giving an infallible creature power, they will naturally abuse it.
(I assume you meant "fallible".) This is the untrue orthodoxy of anarchism.

I can accept that if you give a large enough group of people power, some in the group will abuse it. It is untrue to say that they all will. Some people are made of better stuff than that.

Om mani padme hum
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Re: Why was E-Sangha controversial?

Postby lowlydog » Sun Dec 23, 2012 2:01 am

Dan74 wrote:I say let the members have the right to warn the mods. We have to turn the tables around on these power-hungry oppressors. Viva la Revolution! Image

Then once a mod has, lets say, a dozen warnings (we'll be generous) he/she is suspended for a month, to cool off. Three suspensions=ban.

Transparent and accountable government is the key. Down with dictatorship!



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

Postby catmoon » Sun Dec 23, 2012 3:48 pm

Only one way to deal with this.

Sergeant Schultz knew everything there was to know.
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Re: Why was E-Sangha controversial?

Postby porpoise » Sun Dec 23, 2012 3:49 pm

songhill wrote: The lesson it did not learn is that moderating can be a double-edged sword. Owners need to do a better job of vetting and supervising their moderators. There should even be a term limit imposed upon moderators. There are ways to improve Buddhist discussion groups but, so far, I have not seen any good moderated discussion groups. They are being run as lite E-Sanghas.


But being a moderator can be very challenging, and is sometimes a thankless task. Maybe you should volunteer your services? :tongue:
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Re: Why was E-Sangha controversial?

Postby songhill » Sun Dec 23, 2012 5:22 pm

porpoise wrote:
songhill wrote: The lesson it did not learn is that moderating can be a double-edged sword. Owners need to do a better job of vetting and supervising their moderators. There should even be a term limit imposed upon moderators. There are ways to improve Buddhist discussion groups but, so far, I have not seen any good moderated discussion groups. They are being run as lite E-Sanghas.


But being a moderator can be very challenging, and is sometimes a thankless task. Maybe you should volunteer your services? :tongue:


It might well be challenging and a thankless task—I agree—but most jobs are, included the ones that you get paid for. I have been involved in Buddhist discussions groups since before the Internet. Universal Zendo was the first Internet discussion group that I joined. It had an axe to grind. It was Japansy. Wouldn't tolerate Pali or Sanskrit terms—Japanese, yes. I think I lasted two weeks on it. Bottom line: Discussion groups are really systems of power. When you put moderators in positions of power, they usually abuse their position. BliefNet was one of the biggest abusers. After BliefNet, I really had to rethink who Western Buddhists really were. They weren't like Asian Buddhists—not by a long shot. Most seemed like they were on antidepressants and had mental issues. Others were recovering alcoholics. They didn't like to debate; didn't know very much about Buddhism, either—and were too damn lazy to learn. In fine, Buddhist discussion groups have some real problems.
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Re: Why was E-Sangha controversial?

Postby JKhedrup » Sun Dec 23, 2012 5:29 pm

Have you tried starting a board yourself running it along the guidelines you have proposed, Songhill? I would join if you did, and would be curious to see how things manifested using that paradigm.
A foolish man proclaims his qualifications,
A wise man keeps them secret within.
A straw floats on the surface of water,
But a precious gem placed upon it sinks to the depths
-Sakya Pandita
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Re: Why was E-Sangha controversial?

Postby songhill » Sun Dec 23, 2012 6:19 pm

JKhedrup wrote:Have you tried starting a board yourself running it along the guidelines you have proposed, Songhill? I would join if you did, and would be curious to see how things manifested using that paradigm.


You're welcome to come to my blog, The Zennist. I don't censor comments. You can kick-ass if you wish. I realized that when blogs came on the scene it was time to move on. So I created The Zennist blog which has been successful. You might enjoy it. It is really dedicated to achieving the gnosis of pure Mind and it ramifications which Western Buddhists have completely missed. The only reason I post here is to get a sense of where the newbie/prithagjanas are coming from. It helps in creating new blogs.
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Re: Why was E-Sangha controversial?

Postby Dechen Norbu » Tue Dec 25, 2012 9:15 pm

No wonder you didn't like E-Sangha, Songhill (aka Zennist).
One of the reasons we had mods was to prevent people like you from spreading nonsense like Dark Zen there, so I can't say your opinion comes as a surprise.
Last edited by Sherab Dorje on Tue Dec 25, 2012 9:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: removed "profanity"
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Re: Why was E-Sangha controversial?

Postby songhill » Tue Dec 25, 2012 9:19 pm

Dechen Norbu wrote:No wonder you didn't like E-Sangha, Songhill (aka Zennist).
One of the reasons we had mods was to prevent people like you from spreading BS like Dark Zen there, so I can't say your opinion comes as a surprise.


Yeah, I consider the source, too. Basically, what E-Sangha did is called censorship in case it slipped by you.
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Re: Why was E-Sangha controversial?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Tue Dec 25, 2012 9:37 pm

It's quite simple: when you come to a site and register to use it you know that there are a number of regulations that you must abide by. You agree to abide by them. If you do not like the regulations then you just leave the site or not register. Nobody is forcing anybody to stay here. Joining the site means that you accept the regulations. If the you do not abide by the regulations you get warned, suspended and banned. It is that simple. Like it or lump it (really).

Now if you believe that censorship is always a negative thing, I will like to see what you will do when somebody rocks up to your blog site with the sole intention of trolling. I am sure you will readily change your tune.

A moderators (thankless) task is to keep conversation civil and on topic, to weed out trolls and spammers and to apply the Terms of Service. Of course a moderator may abuse their power, just like a member may abuse the PRIVILEGE of being allowed to post on the site. There are procedures for dealing with both of these problems.

To date I have not seen somebody be banned due to their views, I have only seen (and have applied) warnings, suspensions and bannings due to the manner in which a member communicated their views. I think that's a pretty good record (really).

And let us not forget that all the staff here are volunteers (suckers!!!). So feel free to cut us some slack!
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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 Yudron » Tue Dec 25, 2012 10:18 pm

So you are Zenmar, huh? Or he was a "character" invented by you. I remember those posts from the Tricycle board. They seemed very aggressive at the time. Didn't you and a friend go to "interview" Malcolm's elderly teacher at his house, under false pretenses? Or was that somebody else?


songhill wrote:
Dechen Norbu wrote:No wonder you didn't like E-Sangha, Songhill (aka Zennist).
One of the reasons we had mods was to prevent people like you from spreading BS like Dark Zen there, so I can't say your opinion comes as a surprise.


Yeah, I consider the source, too. Basically, what E-Sangha did is called censorship in case it slipped by you.
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Re: Why was E-Sangha controversial?

Postby songhill » Wed Dec 26, 2012 12:24 am

Yudron wrote:So you are Zenmar, huh? Or he was a "character" invented by you. I remember those posts from the Tricycle board. They seemed very aggressive at the time. Didn't you and a friend go to "interview" Malcolm's elderly teacher at his house, under false pretenses? Or was that somebody else?


songhill wrote:
Dechen Norbu wrote:No wonder you didn't like E-Sangha, Songhill (aka Zennist).
One of the reasons we had mods was to prevent people like you from spreading BS like Dark Zen there, so I can't say your opinion comes as a surprise.


Yeah, I consider the source, too. Basically, what E-Sangha did is called censorship in case it slipped by you.


Now what do you think, Yudron, would I do such a thing like that when I am capable of so much more? :guns:
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Re: Why was E-Sangha controversial?

Postby songhill » Wed Dec 26, 2012 1:29 am

gregkavarnos wrote:I will like to see what you will do when somebody rocks up to your blog site with the sole intention of trolling.


I let them troll as long as it is about Buddhism and not sex, booze, or whatever. I edit some of the comments when a commentator is Mr. Potty Mouth. But I never, as a general rule, reject comments. Comments tend to draw interest and add to my hits. Writing a blog can take many hours. A lot of background work goes into a blog especially when karma or rebirth are an issue. When a comment follows a blog, there is not that much to find fault with. Mainly the people who come to the blog are practitioners who have realized that seeing pure Mind is the alpha and omega of Buddhism.

Dharma Wheel is a horse of a different color as compared with a blog. DW is not publishing a product for a certain type of client. DW is about maintaining a forum - a public place - for the discussion of subjects of current interest in the field of Buddhism. The duties of a moderator can, therefore, vary from one Buddhist discussion group to another Buddhist discussion group. Some moderators have an ax to grind, others don't. E-Sangha looked at from this perspective was over-moderated and police-like. Namdrol was trying to get rid of any scent of heterodoxy which meant he assumed that his reading of Buddhism was totally orthodox when in fact it was anything but orthodox. Had he relaxed and cut back on moderators and encouraged, instead, a truly open forum, E-Sangha might still be running.
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