Please help the moderator: valid emails!

Hi to all the wonderful commenters.

A couple of times recently I have tried to contact commenters offlist to discuss matters in the comments, and the emails have not been valid. Please remember that using a valid email address is a condition of using this site, and I will not allow any comments if I find that the email you submit is not valid. Of course, it may be a simple mistake, so please take care when entering the email address.

The reason I have raised this matter is this. In the past, we have had some energetic discussions on this forum, and like many places on the internet, the standard of discussion can sink to personal slurs and attacks. WordPress gives fairly simple tools for allowing or unallowing comments, and this works fine in the majority of cases. Most commenters are constructive and useful, and the few outright trolls can be easily excluded.

The problem is the grey areas: comments where I think, “Should I allow this?”, and usually err on the side of acceptance, while hoping that the tone of the dialogue will improve. But it often doesn’t, and the comments gradually descend down a slide of snark, but there’s no obvious cut-off point where I can say, “This is too much”.

I’ve read around various discussions of the issue, and one point that I read I took to heart. That is: it is the responsibility of the moderator (which is me) to engage with commenters and ensure a quality of dialogue. This doesn’t really happen through writing policies. It happens by reaching out to people.

So from now on, when I am faced with a comment that I am unsure of, rather than either allowing or unallowing it, I will email the commenter offlist, explain what the problem is, and ask if they can reconsider their original comment. I hope that this will encourage commenters to continue to contribute, and create a better atmosphere for genuinely constructive criticism.

So, back to emails: if you don’t give a valid email address, I can’t contact you offlist. Currently this applies to the commenter “What happened to Buddhism?” Can you please supply a valid email address? (Oh, and by the way, I prefer real names, although I understand that there are sometimes good reasons for using pseudonyms.)

22 thoughts on “Please help the moderator: valid emails!

    • Hi Ven,

      The trolls come from time to time. Spam, not so much – the filters seem to deal with it. For me the most difficult thing is not the trolls, but the genuine people who really have something to say, but don’t know how to say it well. Which, I hasten to add, means me most of the time…

    • Possibly what would be best Bhikkhu Sujato would be for you to invite your esteemed colleagues to post their views and join your blog:as no doubt they are far more vast than anyone elses and would be of great benefit to all.. So Ven Yeshe why don’t you join the Blog and and then you will all be together in your interconnectness. yYou could give everyone your blogsit too and that of your superior colleagues and the other great Buddhist who rule this country.

      Best wishes…may you all be happy🙂

    • monks are the same as people – there are good ones and there are…… its the human race after
      all – if you think monks are all good then you could be in for a surprise – they are not all without
      Bias as ajahn brahm has found out – and many of us have found out from Him ! sujato also
      takes “strong standpoints” – pointers to the unconditioned – the asankhata ????? i wonder

  1. That’s really kind of you, puting so much effort into moderating!

    By the way it is rather normal to have harsh discussions on forums (consider Godwin’s law http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin's_law ) so don’t blame yourself if you get a few comments slip by

    it is the nature of internet that people argue and act differently, because in anonymity you aren’t bound to any rule of society and it feels like you can get away with anything

  2. I think it is important for all bloggers and internet uses to know that even though there are different traditions in Buddhism really they all know each other and possibly gossip about each others students etc .. so there is no unbias situation ..or situation where you can really be honest..

    I am not saying all of buddhism is a sort of cult…umm but then I am not saying it is not!

    So beware and be careful bloggers… big brother and gran are always watching you!

    Just be really sweet and nice all the time or discuss intellectual aspect of the Suttas.. and you will be right!

    Best wishes

    Mega Metta

    • ..no actually i am sure all good buddhists sites are very unbias and you can say want you need (with right speech) without being judged…especially here🙂

    • one last post..I think you risk people not giving honest views if they have to use real names; would the truth of how many monks and nuns felt about women ordaining have been known if had to use real names?

      Don’t you think using real names people will tend to tell you what you want to hear and it will become all nice and polite; very “Brady Bunchish” but issues and views will be suppressed

      …but to be fair to the Bhante Sujato, so he doesn’t have to deal with too many weirdo’s (stop looking at me) maybe people could registar with their real names but choose to use a psyeudonym (who can spell that word) on the blog if they want…although that is also putting alot of trust in Bhante Sujato…umm

      and maybe have a little anonymous box in the corner where people can just put in random thoughts of one sentence or more for the real anonymous freaks, weirdos and psychos with serious issues ..no just kidding

      and … also to be fair to people who can’t spell people Bhante Sujato could put in a spell checker!

      see youse

  3. I believe that people should only use their real names. As Buddhists we should not hide behind pseudonyms and there are millions of other forums on the Net for those who do not wish to divulge their identity! Honesty is a cornerstone in Buddhism and all genuine Buddhist forums should promote this quality and of course this will weed out trolls, spams and improve the quality of the posts as well.

    Let’s be brave and take the challenge!

    • Bhante, I do agree that there is a need for using pseudonyms in most Internet forums but I would like to think that Sujato’s Blog is something that goes against the stream! On a more serious note, just as an example, it would have been great if we knew the monks and (nuns?) who were opposed to Bhikkhuni Ordinations. Almost all those who were opposed used pseudonyms (good ones at that, like, Dhammalight etc) and what is sad is that there was no way of finding out who they were so that we could approach them directly and find out the reason for their views. In fact, I have asked the question from some monks just to find out whether any one of them had any good reason for taking such a position. Surely, Buddhists will not go to the extreme of physically threatening someone simply because they put forward a different opinion on this blog? or will they? If there are violent Buddhists subscribing to this Blog, sure, I agree pseudonyms have a place but it is nice to have the ability to openly say what one believes on matters relating to Buddhism – yes, on other topics perhaps one has to be more careful. I’d vote for the spirit of openness in Buddhism so how about if you were to say that you encourage people to use their real names and that way those who want to use a mask can also participate without fear of being crucified or stalked by bogeymen?

    • Is Guptila and gdesilva the same person? Is it a real name? Who knows? How is a reader in Timbuktu to know which names are real and which are not? Baddies use pseudonyms and goodies do not? Maybe my mum gave me a pseudonym when I was born?

    • Some one said “On a more serious note, just as an example, it would have been great if we knew the monks and (nuns?) who were opposed to Bhikkhuni Ordinations. Almost all those who were opposed used pseudonyms (good ones at that, like, Dhammalight etc) and what is sad is that there was no way of finding out who they were so that we could approach them directly and find out the reason for their views”.

      Maybe this is a good argument for pseudonyms! I mean if whoever wrote this wasn’t a Buddhist and didn’t like what someone said and decided to track them down etc etc..Does the Buddha have any views of the difference between privacy and honesty or secrecy?

    • Well, if pseudonyms gives people a sense of security that’s a good thing and keep using them but it is dangerous to be under the delusion that it is not possible to uncover your precious identity without too much effort if one really wants to! It certainly does is give some a warm feeling and I agree, why not enjoy it while it lasts.

      BTW, gdesilva and guptila, used here, refer to a single group of five aggregates🙂

    • Just forgot to add….this discussion arose because the moderator had issues with dealing with ‘unwanted’ comments or wanting to weed out comments made with a different motive other than contributing to Dhamma discussion.

      Using pseudonyms adds just that extra workload for the moderator with very little gain for those who want to use pseudonyms. As I said, you may think that your identity is safe but in reality it is only safe from those who do not mean any harm. Anyone who has been involved in this game will know how easy it is to crack someone’s identity on the Net, if that is the ultimate aim.

      By not using pseudonyms we can help the moderator a little bit in his job but if people feel that it is more important to hide your identity from other Buddhist friends then ultimately how much free time the moderator has is what is going to decide this issue.

    • Dear Guptila

      “Using pseudonyms adds just that extra workload for the moderator”. Did the moderator say that?

      “with very little gain for those who want to use pseudonyms”. How do you know?

      Isn’t Bhante Sujato pseudonym?

  4. hello venerable sujato,

    my name is gregory newton. i was wondering if you could help me out. sister thanasanti said i might ask you about this. i am getting some artwork done on my arms dharma punx style. i’m looking for the actual pali text for the eight folds. not the english characters that sound out the pali words, but the pali indic characters themselves. for example according to wikipedia ‘theravada’ is थेरवाद.

    i have found the pali text society’s web page and translator but of course this has the phonetic english translation of the pali words.

    kind regards and much metta,
    gregory newton
    newton.gregorys@gmail.com

    re: looking for the pali characters for the folds….

    samma ditthi
    samma sankappa
    samma vaca
    samma kammanta
    samma ajiva
    samma vayama
    samma sati
    samma samadhi

    • Hi Gregory,

      Oh, i do love a challenge!

      Just to clarify, there is no Pali script. The Pali language is written in the letters of whatever the local usage is. In Thailand they use Thai letters, in Burma Burmese, and so on. In India, Pali would have been transcribed according to whatever the local system was.

      Now, the thing is that all of these local systems (excepting some in the extreme north-west) are variants of the ancient Brahmi characters that Ashoka used circa 200BCE. As such, they are all phonetic systems, i.e. they represent character for character the sounds used.

      The system we use today internationally is also a phonetic system, but using Roman characters (and a few diacritical marks). In other words, you can take a Pali passage written in, say, Thai, and simply transpose character-for-character to the Roman equivalents and it ends up exactly the same. This is what is done on the VRI Tipitaka website – you can read the Tipitaka in many different scripts.

      None of which helps you get what you want, but there you go.

      What I think you are actually asking for is the eightfold path in devanagari script – devanagari being one of the most common scripts used in modern India, and closely associated with Sanskrit studies. The example you give from Wikipedia is devanagari. Doing a bit of sleuthing on the VRI site, here is the eightfold path in devanagari:

      सम्मादिट्ठि
      सम्मासङ्कप्पो
      सम्मावाचा
      सम्माकम्मन्तो
      सम्माआजीवो
      सम्मावायामो
      सम्मासति
      सम्मासमाधि

      You should be able to read this, as you have posted devanagari characters before, but if you have any problems just install a Unicode devanagari font. If you’re getting it tattooed, make sure you have a look around and get a good font!

      Which raises the question – if all things are impermanent, isn’t a tat a little, well, lasting? Just sayin’…

    • thank you venerable sujato!
      i appreciate the explanation of the script type’s actual name and history. i want to know i have them right before i get them permanently inked on my arm. i’m putting them on the eight folds of the buddha’s robe. i also learned that these characters don’t have an upper case or lower case which makes me even more fond of the idea and design.
      metta metta!
      gregory newton

      btw – whenever the question of ‘what is permanent?’ comes up in a dharmas talk i always say ‘death’. i’ll have to add ‘tats’ to the list. tats and death. i love that i we can laugh about that. ‘everything that arises’. right?

    • Tats and death, right. On the weekend I was in Newcastle (a city just north of Sydney), and the lovely Yoga center was upstairs above the “Diabolical Tattoo Parlour”. There’s all kinds of symbolism right there…

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