Why was E-Sangha controversial?

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Re: Why was E-Sangha controversial?

Postby Yudron » Sat Feb 02, 2013 10:40 am

ram peswani wrote:
gregkavarnos wrote:.
How are the Krishna people treating you Ram? Are you content with their degree of acceptance of your theories?


Treating ?

I am truely thankful to you for your ignorant replies to Lotus sutra.
In this last one month I have progressed a lot.
I am a BRAHAMKUMAR with every drop of my blood.
I have donated my portion of my house to Braham kumar Satsang for the benefit of others.
Also i have started sharing my wealth for their benefit.
My meditation is going wonderfully.
My quality of life (health, relationship, peace) is getting better and better.

I do wish that I could share some of this with Buddhist world. But I am feeling sadness for all Bhuddists.
Brahmkumars are Shiva devotees and not Krishna devotees[/quote]

I'm glad you are happy. Don't worry about us, though. We're doing okay.
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Re: Why was E-Sangha controversial?

Postby purple rose » Sat Feb 02, 2013 10:49 am

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:focus: "Why was E-Sangha controversial?"
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Re: Why was E-Sangha controversial?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sat Feb 02, 2013 11:38 am

ram peswani wrote:Treating ?

I am truely thankful to you for your ignorant replies to Lotus sutra.
In this last one month I have progressed a lot.
I am a BRAHAMKUMAR with every drop of my blood.
I am glad to hear that you have found your niche and acceptance for your ideas.
I have donated my portion of my house to Braham kumar Satsang for the benefit of others.
Also i have started sharing my wealth for their benefit.
But then again, if you were to donate a portion of your house to me and share your wealth with me you may find me very receptive and supportive of your opinions too. This, though, can easily be the subject of whole other thread, so I am not going to digress further.
Brahmkumars are Shiva devotees and not Krishna devotees
I'm sorry, my mistake. :emb: I mistakenly believed you had become involved with ISKCON.

Anyway, back to the point of my question to Ram. My point is that any social space (and internet fora are social spaces) is going to be defined by those that inhabit this space. This means that it will reflect the views/propensities of those that administer and utilise this space. There will be an aim behind the establishment of the space and rules to govern behaviour within the space in order for the users to feel comfortable. Some people will be accepted and others rejected.

Now, one may say that, as Buddhists we should have a high degree of tolerance for people that challenge our view. That we should be more capable of accepting critique. That we should have higher tolerance for the socially challenged amongst us. Greater compassion for those that abuse us. Less clinging to ideas of gain and loss. Etc... Basically, that all Buddhists should be Buddhas/Bodhisattvas.

This is a ridiculous expectation. It's like walking into a boxing gym and expecting all the people training there to be Muhammed Ali. Completely unrealistic.

Then there is the fact that people come to a forum in order to, well... You can read "wisdom's" post for an explanation.

Not everybody that comes here wishes to be challenged, badgered, assaulted, asked to justify their views, debated, etc... Some do, of course.

Then there is the last issue I wish to deal with. Many people come to Dharma Wheel (or variants thereof, of any particular view, whether philosophical or religious) and proclaim that their view is the right view and everybody else's is wrong. When they get "bitch slapped", which inevitably they will, they cry "Foul!" and "I thought Buddhists didn't try to impress their views..." or any other such nonsense. In Greece we say: "If you go looking for something, you will get it." Looking for a fight? Somebody will oblige you. Looking for information? Somebody will oblige you. Looking for support? Somebody will oblige you. But when you get disruptive, that's when the moderators step in. That's when you get what you "deserve". That's when the moderators will oblige you.
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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 uan » Sun Feb 03, 2013 4:56 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:Then there is the last issue I wish to deal with. Many people come to Dharma Wheel (or variants thereof, of any particular view, whether philosophical or religious) and proclaim that their view is the right view and everybody else's is wrong. When they get "bitch slapped", which inevitably they will, they cry "Foul!" and "I thought Buddhists didn't try to impress their views..." or any other such nonsense. In Greece we say: "If you go looking for something, you will get it." Looking for a fight? Somebody will oblige you. Looking for information? Somebody will oblige you. Looking for support? Somebody will oblige you. But when you get disruptive, that's when the moderators step in. That's when you get what you "deserve". That's when the moderators will oblige you.
:namaste:



Part of the reason E-Sangha was controversial, is for the reason above, but with some additional subtleties. Being human, some of the moderators didn't like when they got "bitched slapped." In part, that was because many of the moderators were also participants in the discussions and arguments and there was a feeling by some that some moderators would use their mod powers to win arguments or silence disagreements.

Using just this thread and Greg's involvement as an example, Greg as a moderator could just as easily ban someone or remove their posts (which I haven't seen him do - it's just an example). If he were to do that, he could rationalize that the person got what they "deserved", but in context of fair play, one side can't be an advocate for a point of view and arbiter at the same time. Whereas, it's totally fine and understandable when Tara, or one of the other moderators who hasn't been participating comes in to keep things on track.

The other issue with E-Sangha is that it was very large and influential in terms of Buddhist forums. It did cast a wide net. When issues did come up, they were magnified by the size of the forum itself. In human affairs, great and small, there will always be supporters and distractors. Even a kid in pre-school has them (those who are friends, those who he/she fights with or ignores). E-Sangha had its share of distractors and with the Internet, it's easy for distractors to express themselves. E-Sangha is only controversial to the extent of its visibility in the community, which really would be the online Buddhist community, or a subset of it. I'm not sure too many Christians, gamers, news junkies, bird watchers, etc. really have much of an awareness of E-Sangha or the controversy around it.
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Re: Why was E-Sangha controversial?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sun Feb 03, 2013 7:19 pm

I'm going to say it again: a moderators job is not stifle views, but to ensure that any view is expressed in a polite and intelligent manner. People don't get banned from Dharma Wheel for holding a certain type of view but for expressing the view in an antisocial manner. Now one may argue that some views are antisocial by their very nature (racist, sexist and homophobic views for example) so we disallow them from scratch via the Terms of Service. But if somebody does not read the terms of service before becoming a member of the site, then there is still a whole series of prompts from moderators and administrators before they even get near being banned. Of course the individual personality of the moderators plays a role, some are more strict and hand out a formal warnings, others are laxer and will try to solve the problem informally and, of course, the system can be open to abuse. But bans are normally imposed by a group decision, so there are checks in place (ie they are not handed out indiscriminately by indivduals).

So some people are saying that e-sangha staff were discriminatory and clamped down hard on certain views. In an online community of (if I remember correctly) some 20,000 people this is to be expected. If, let's say, 1% of the members are disruptive that means there will be 30 members that constantly need moderating, on a site this size. It means 2000 members on a site the size of e-sangha. There are 7 staff here, so that's 4-point-something members per staff member to deal with. At e-sangha, even with 20 staff members, that's 1000 disruptive members per staff member to deal with. Even if they had 200 staff (which e-sangha never had) it is still 100 disruptive members per stafff member. It quickly becomes a case of having to kill the rooster to scare the monkeys, otherwise all hell breaks loose.
"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 Johnny Dangerous » Sun Feb 03, 2013 7:24 pm

Gotta point out, there are all kinds of people who have authored contentious threads here and not gotten kicked off or censured.

So i'm sure the mods make errors sometimes, but clearly the fact that threads like this, and others exist is proof that there is no blanket policy in place of excluding contrary views, and that how people say stuff actually matters. That doesn't mean there haven't been individual errors in judgement or whatever, but obviously things would simply be quieter then they are now if the mods were as dictatorial as some are claiming.

Anyone who has used forums long enough knows what stuff looks like when mods do get overzealous, and usually it means an ominous quiet, rather the racket that is DW!
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Re: Why was E-Sangha controversial?

Postby Jikan » Sun Feb 03, 2013 7:50 pm

Johnny Dangerous wrote:Gotta point out, there are all kinds of people who have authored contentious threads here and not gotten kicked off or censured.

So i'm sure the mods make errors sometimes, but clearly the fact that threads like this, and others exist is proof that there is no blanket policy in place of excluding contrary views, and that how people say stuff actually matters. That doesn't mean there haven't been individual errors in judgement or whatever, but obviously things would simply be quieter then they are now if the mods were as dictatorial as some are claiming.

Anyone who has used forums long enough knows what stuff looks like when mods do get overzealous, and usually it means an ominous quiet, rather the racket that is DW!


True story.

Speaking for myself as a mod, I know for a fact I've let some serious nonsense slide. This is just human error. I'm trying to get better as I go. Also, we're volunteers and there are a finite number of us, so there will be gaps sometimes. Some of the mistakes I've made have been in attempting to invite multiple points of view to participate, which as involved keeping controversial threads open well beyond their freshness date.

:shrug:

apologies for going off-topic.

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Re: Why was E-Sangha controversial?

Postby uan » Sun Feb 03, 2013 8:21 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:I'm going to say it again: a moderators job is not stifle views, but to ensure that any view is expressed in a polite and intelligent manner. People don't get banned from Dharma Wheel for holding a certain type of view but for expressing the view in an antisocial manner...

So some people are saying that e-sangha staff were discriminatory and clamped down hard on certain views. ...


I'm not sure if your response was in response to my post or not. Just to clarify, I was offering thoughts on the topic "Why was E-sangha controversial?". We could suppose, just for clarity, that E-sangha and every single moderator was faultless 100% of the time. The question "why was E-sangha controversial?" stills stands. I don't think anyone has stated that E-sangha wasn't controversial to some degree.

I used you as a "hypothetical what if (Greg) decided in this thread to..." that was close at hand, not in some passive circumambulative way to imply that moderators at DW were in the habit of banning people here for points they disagree with. It was to give a sense of what some were accusing certain moderators in E-Sangha of doing. Obviously, the accusations themselves are not proof that it was being done, but the accusations are part of the evidence as to why E-Sangha was "controversial".

Some of the accusations also were that people who were banned were given no warning nor reason for their bans.

Sorry for being confusing in my statement and being unclear in how I was using you and DW as an example.

As for the rough and tumble nature of online buddhist forums rubbing some folks the wrong way, that may be true, but I don't think that was why E-Sangha was considered controversial, or at least not as a contributing factor to the extent in which it (E-sangha) was seen as controversial.
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Re: Why was E-Sangha controversial?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sun Feb 03, 2013 8:30 pm

Firstly I just want to say that I did not take your post personally, I took it just the way you meant it so don't worry, no feathers were ruffled! :smile: As you can see I tried to tie the hypothetical back into the practical with my answer.
Some of the accusations also were that people who were banned were given no warning nor reason for their bans.
Really? I seem to remember a five (or four) "star" rating system in each user profile visible only to staff and the user themselves which showed how many warnings one had accrued so they knew how close they were to getting banned.

I can imagine that there were "off hand" bannings of known trolls and trouble makers. Though this may seem harsh at first glance, my experience, thus far, with known troublemakers banned from other sites is that: "once a troll, always a troll". Or to use a more common metaphor: you can't teach a new dog old tricks. Sad but true.
"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."
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Re: Why was E-Sangha controversial?

Postby Ramon1920 » Sun Feb 03, 2013 10:07 pm

The reason it was controversial was because none of the moderators had significant enough clout to convince posters that their reasons for censorship or rebuttals were valid. People came to resent the moderators who they thought of as peers.

Sometimes the moderators held grudges, sometimes the moderators were wrong, I remember once I was temporarily suspended because a mod misread what I wrote, their error, and when I brought it up with other mods, they deliberated and some decided to censor my posts left and right, and other mods defended them. I've since resolved things, and it's all water under the bridge now, but this is the history of E-sangha. Looking back on it now, aside from some childishness, E-sangha conducted itself well.

Also, E-sangha was openly against a particular pala practice, which ruffled some feathers.
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Re: Why was E-Sangha controversial?

Postby uan » Sun Feb 03, 2013 10:15 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:Firstly I just want to say that I did not take your post personally, I took it just the way you meant it so don't worry, no feathers were ruffled! :smile: As you can see I tried to tie the hypothetical back into the practical with my answer.


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

Postby mantrika » Wed Feb 06, 2013 12:26 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:


Doesen't suprise me. In my experience Anarchists are some of the most narrow minded, fundamentalistic and sectarian people you can come across. It's our way or the high way.
I'm not saying you possess all these traits but as being involved in such a scene will make you immune to this cultish pseudo authoritarian behaviour after a while and not see it and also affect your way of thinking.
Majority of the Anarchists are behaving like they are part of some kind of ideological, moralistic and emotionally reactive hive mind that controls what/how to believe, think and behave, worse than most religious sects and akin to some of the worst cults out there. Which is ironical and sad to say the least.

E-sangha is the Worst forum i ever experienced in this regard. All the criticism i seen about them is valid. I really hope some of the stories i heard are not true though. Like where the moderators monitor even the pm's members sent between each other and banned several people just for expressing criticism or opinions against the e-sangha orthodoxy in PM between each other! I was just a lurker there because of this, so i'm not some kind of buthurt former member that got banned, now out on a agenda.
Typical example of abuse of power and fundamentalism. Worst thing about e-sangha was that that it was a buddhist forum. I find it's TOS, overly orthodox and heavy handed moderation and power abuse to be antithetical and a bad rep for buddhism in general. Even on all of the fundamentalist christian and muslim forums i seen it's not even nearly as bad as e-sangha was. Way more open, allowing and fair actually..
Sometimes i see little remnants of this attitude here on dharma wheel as well, but it doesn't bother me that much. I guess people are different and it's not that bad afterall.

I'm surprised and a bit disappointed though, that so many members here seem to like and defend e-sangha.
Or doesn't understand the criticism at all as they them selves didn't get banned or whatever.
As even for me as a regular lurker it was obvious, that's why i newer joined like i said.

The positive side of e-sangha was the wealth of information and very advanced discussions.
I wish it were archived or even resurrected so i could lurk there again.
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Re: Why was E-Sangha controversial?

Postby Salomon » Wed Feb 06, 2013 1:52 am

J'ai de l'espoir en ce forum. Je pense qu'il y a assez d'intelligence ici pour améliorer les choses.

Edit: Haha I spoke in French...

I said I have hope in this forum. I think there are enough smart people here to improve things.
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Re: Why was E-Sangha controversial?

Postby Ramon1920 » Wed Feb 06, 2013 4:08 am

I know some of E-sangha's staff put a lot of effort into the site. They really tried to have a supportive conducive place for Buddhists to discuss. I'm certain there was some ego tripping on behalf of some mods because of some private messages I got from them in an attempt to taunt me. But others were really trying to make it work.
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Re: Why was E-Sangha controversial?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed Feb 06, 2013 8:17 am

mantrika wrote:Doesen't suprise me. In my experience Anarchists are some of the most narrow minded, fundamentalistic and sectarian people you can come across. It's our way or the high way.
I'm not saying you possess all these traits but as being involved in such a scene will make you immune to this cultish pseudo authoritarian behaviour after a while and not see it and also affect your way of thinking.
Nah... I don't think that was the reason I never got into trouble. I reckon it was because I refrained from being judgmental, abraisive and all-knowing. Being polite and not overly opinionated tends to win friends. ;) e-sangha was my first foray into online communities and so I was a little intimidated by the whole deal. Being new to the world of Buddhist philosophy I was there to learn and not to argue my position. So no, your analysis is way off the mark (though it does not lack some truth). Plus I find it extraordinarily judgmental
Majority of the Anarchists are behaving like they are part of some kind of ideological, moralistic and emotionally reactive hive mind that controls what/how to believe, think and behave, worse than most religious sects and akin to some of the worst cults out there. Which is ironical and sad to say the least.
True and false at the same time.
E-sangha is the Worst forum i ever experienced in this regard...
e-sangha was not an anarchist forum. I'll take it you have finished judging all Anarchists and have now started on judging the people at e-sangha?
Typical example of abuse of power and fundamentalism. Worst thing about e-sangha was that that it was a buddhist forum. I find it's TOS, overly orthodox and heavy handed moderation and power abuse to be antithetical and a bad rep for buddhism in general. Even on all of the fundamentalist christian and muslim forums i seen it's not even nearly as bad as e-sangha was. Way more open, allowing and fair actually.
Might have to do with the fact that they have the power and do not feel like they have something to defend? :shrug:
Sometimes i see little remnants of this attitude here on dharma wheel as well, but it doesn't bother me that much. I guess people are different and it's not that bad afterall.
Thanks for the compliment! :thinking:
"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."
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Re: Why was E-Sangha controversial?

Postby Indrajala » Wed Feb 06, 2013 8:35 am

I know some of E-sangha's staff put a lot of effort into the site. They really tried to have a supportive conducive place for Buddhists to discuss. I'm certain there was some ego tripping on behalf of some mods because of some private messages I got from them in an attempt to taunt me. But others were really trying to make it work.


I think it goes without saying that E-Sangha was really the first of its kind. Before it there were online communities and bbs servers, but they never took off the same way E-Sangha did perhaps because the internet population hadn't grown sufficiently. For whatever reason E-Sangha surged in popularity and trying to run a forum as pan-Buddhist as it was was presumably no easy task. Some mods were understandably more skilled than others.

Ironically the project succeeded in many ways by failing. It spawned several forums which each adjusted their own rules based on experiences had on E-Sangha, several of which have demonstrated stability and long-term viability like Zen Forum International, Dhamma Wheel and so on. Many of the mods from E-Sangha ended up running these same forums.

Internet Buddhist communities are still young, so they'll go through growing pains. We shouldn't cling too much to the failings and injustices of past forums that are now a bygone era.

I was happy at E-Sangha and never had any problems. I was really disappointed when it crashed and never returned. Nevertheless, in due time other forums, like this one, came to exist to fulfill the same role: an online community of volunteers discussing Buddhism and hopefully learning a lot in the process. There will be more controversies inevitably, but that's all part of the process of evolution of communities.
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Re: Why was E-Sangha controversial?

Postby alpha » Wed Feb 06, 2013 10:10 am

I am really amazed by your stamina ,guys.

Some people were born with the sole purpose of uttering words.
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Re: Why was E-Sangha controversial?

Postby Kim O'Hara » Wed Feb 06, 2013 1:34 pm

Huseng wrote:I think it goes without saying that E-Sangha was really the first of its kind. Before it there were online communities and bbs servers, but they never took off the same way E-Sangha did perhaps because the internet population hadn't grown sufficiently. For whatever reason E-Sangha surged in popularity and trying to run a forum as pan-Buddhist as it was was presumably no easy task. Some mods were understandably more skilled than others.

Ironically the project succeeded in many ways by failing. It spawned several forums which each adjusted their own rules based on experiences had on E-Sangha, several of which have demonstrated stability and long-term viability like Zen Forum International, Dhamma Wheel and so on. Many of the mods from E-Sangha ended up running these same forums.

Internet Buddhist communities are still young, so they'll go through growing pains. We shouldn't cling too much to the failings and injustices of past forums that are now a bygone era.

I was happy at E-Sangha and never had any problems. I was really disappointed when it crashed and never returned. Nevertheless, in due time other forums, like this one, came to exist to fulfill the same role: an online community of volunteers discussing Buddhism and hopefully learning a lot in the process. There will be more controversies inevitably, but that's all part of the process of evolution of communities.

Agreed on all points :smile:
I will just add that its last few months were noticeably more conflicted than the previous year or so that I had known it, so anyone who only came on the scene late will have a more negative view of it than it deserves.

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

Postby Jikan » Thu Feb 07, 2013 3:06 pm

Kim O'Hara wrote:I will just add that its last few months were noticeably more conflicted than the previous year or so that I had known it, so anyone who only came on the scene late will have a more negative view of it than it deserves.

:namaste:
Kim


That was my experience as well. I participated at e-sangha for roughly five years (maybe a bit more), and it seemed very stable and sociable for the first four and a half of those.
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Re: Why was E-Sangha controversial?

Postby Simon E. » Thu Feb 07, 2013 4:02 pm

Its not possible to know with any degree of accuracy what goes on behind the scenes, but subsequent events suggest that the final 6 months to a year of E Sangha coincided with a kind of existential crisis in the lives of a couple of key players.
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