Dharmajim wrote:There is an aspect to the history of e-sangha that I think should be taken into account. Many of the initial participants at e-sangha had bitter experience with previous online inter-Buddhist forums. I am thinking particularly of Tricycle, which used to operate an online forum that in some ways was structured along the lines of e-sangha. I was a participant in the Tricycle Forum, so I am speaking from firsthand knowledge.
The Tricycle Forum collapsed due to Tricycle's inability to effectively moderate trolls who became more and more aggressive. Some of their posts bordered on the threatening. My recollection is that at least one person was actually threatened. Sarcasm and name calling became pervasive. When it reached that stage Tricycle closed it down, and I don't blame them. It takes a lot of time and commitment to moderate such a forum and achieving the right balance is a difficult challenge. That is why, when one small Tibetan sect was banned from e-sangha that, in my experience, did not deserve it, I did not protest. I felt that I understood the motivation, which was not to have a repeat of what happened at Tricycle (and some other early online inter-Buddhist groups; for example there was a very large, many thousands, inter-Buddhist group at MSN groups which collapsed for similar reasons).
Understanding this background has helped me to comprehend some of the decisions that were made even when I didn't agree with them. I hope this is of some assistance.
This is a very helpful perspective, Jim. Thankyou for bringing it. I believe, in the realm of causes and conditons, this is just how things are. As we here (and in the new upcoming forums) will be 'influenced' by our experiences at E-sangha, and hence in our style and direction, so have they.
There is no single cause for anything, and whilst I find some parts of the moderation there not agreeable to me, it does not mean that E-sangha was a write off or poor even now.
In fact it is still a valuable contributor to Buddhist discussion, community and exploration.
The fact is everyone is just where they are, and I have never been guilt free in any of what has happened in our world. The fact that there are many complaints is a function of some over zealous moderation and lack of transparency, which I have disagreed with as well - and still would, but also that it is the largest board at the moment - it is hard to please everyone and the stance as taken is what it is. As Jim points out, it is not always easy to strike that balance, and the team at the helm do have a certainly cultural element (cultural as in similarity in outlook/approach). Still, they are doing what they know and that is the case for nearly all of us, I suspect.
I would not write them off completely yet. Things change and they do play a valuable - and fundamentally sound role, I believe as I said above.
And even if one does, there are now quite a plethora of Buddhist/spiritual forums around with scatterings of good practitioners around - a community which E-sangha also helped us bring together in the first place. So we are where we are - let's look ahead.
Bless E-sangha, bless the world, bless us all.