A guide on how to get the most out of your new topics
Often discussion topics start of full of promise, but rapidly deteriorate and drift off into irrelevant off-topic discussion. This guide contains a few recommendations for you on how to reduce the likelihood of that occurring when you create new topics here at Dhamma Wheel.
Take a few moments to identify the most appropriate sub-forum for your topic
Dhamma Wheel has a variety of sub-forums, carefully defined in order to facilitate different kinds of Dhamma discussion. As part of your topic, do you want to know about people's experiences? Do you want to know what the Suttas say about a particular issue? Do you want thoughts from the full spectrum of Buddhist thought? Are you challenging orthodoxy, or do you want to know what the orthodox view is?
The answers to such questions will determine which section of the forum is most appropriate for your question. Take a few moments to familiarize yourself with the forum structure and descriptions.
Structure your comments and questions as clearly as possible
What is the point you are trying to communicate and/or what is the question you're asking? Don't be cryptic or lace your topics with insinuations about those you disagree with. The more precisely you are able to define your topic, the easier it is for people to determine what is on topic and what's not. Generally, people want to do the right thing by the original poster, so remember that your opening post may be referenced or quoted directly several times throughout the topic by other members.
The title topic should also be clear and unambiguous, so as to provide the best summary possible of what people might expect to find once they open the topic. Again, avoid being cryptic or sensationalist.
Be very clear on the parameters of the discussion
- Is this intended to be a serious and focused topic, or are you open to people having a bit of a joke, or tangential discussion along the way?
- Are there certain references that you consider either authoritative or are there sources you'd rather keep outside the scope of the discussion? Where do you want to draw the line? (e.g. Sutta, Vinaya, Abhidhamma, commentary, modern teachings, scholarship, teachings of other sects, comments from bhikkhus and bhikkhunis, personal opinion)
- Are you seeking personal advice, or do you just want people to talk about the issue independently of the fact it's your issue?
Why should I bother following these recommendations?
The clearer you are in framing your topic, the easier it is for moderators to moderate the topic in accordance with your intentions. If at any point you feel the topic is going awry, don't hesitate to report offending posts or contact a moderator to help get your topic back on track.
...and if it's not my topic?
Respect that it is someone's topic. Is the comment you're about to make a positive contribution to that topic or not?