Proposal: Buddhism

I've always felt one of the greatest strengths of Buddhism is it's malleability. There are hundreds of sects and probably millions of ways to view/answer/experience most questions beyond the four noble truths, the 3 jewels and the eightfold path (which, I think, most sects adhere to in some respect, or at least agree on, or at least recognize.) I personally love the fact that this is true, it means I can get several view points on a single point of teaching depending on what sect I'm reading from at any given point.

But, and this is important, stack overflow is a Q&A site. There is expected to be a single best answer. I'm not sure that's advisable with Buddhism or, frankly, even possible.

How does this community propose to avoid every question turning into a huge rolling debate while also acknowledging that we may all view concepts like impermanence and bodhisattvas in different ways? How do we allow for multiple truths in a single truth forum?

2 Answers 2


The purpose of a Stack Exchange site is to create a work of reference in any given subject. If there are "hundreds of sects" and, presumably, hundreds of ways to answer a question, it is up to the author to fully qualify (and the community to enforce) what they are looking for so the question is, essentially, "answerable."

Stack Exchange is designed to build a work of reference, not a discussion forum. At some point the Stack Exchange engine itself stops helping people organize great Q&A, and becomes more of a hindrance to protracted conversation and debate. But that is by design.

If the preponderance of questions simply needs that type of huge, rolling debate you suggest, Stack Exchange may simply NOT be the best tool for that job. But I'm not ceding that point — we have several sites that discuss doctrine, even in the face of differing "teachings" on the subject. The community simply needs to figure out how to make the site work for them, and decide what activities they will have to simply forgo if we are to avoid all the in-fighting and debates that simply will not work in this format.

  • I'd probably argue that if this is the case, then yeah, SE just isn't the place for this sort of forum. I understand that everyone likes SE these days, it's kind of the "flavor of the year", but it can't really work for something like this. It's not just that there is no one right answer, it's that there is great wisdom in contemplating contradictory answers to come to your own truth. Thinking there is one, simple, straightforward answer is counter-productive for the vast majority of questions in this domain. But hey, maybe that's just my opinion after all, right? ;)
    – Jae Carr
    Apr 25, 2014 at 13:05
  • 2
    @JayCarr Your points are valid, but you're also measuring (rejecting) the validity of this site by its (in)ability to openly contemplate contradictory answers in a open-discussion format. This site simply is not designed for that. That doesn't mean it cannot be extremely successful as a repository of knowledge. Look at the Judaism and Christianity sites (for example). In terms of how SE has advanced those subjects, those sites are extremely successful. So, as I said, I'm not ceding the "this site cannot work" point. It simply takes a clear understand of the purpose of this site. Apr 25, 2014 at 13:11
  • @Robert_Cartaino You may have a point at that. Perhaps if people were very very specific in asking their questions (noting a particular school of thought they are after, for example) then it may work. And so long as big questions that invite debate (what is (the) Buddha, for example), there is probably a place for it. I'm just...skeptical. I wish a few more users would get on here and discuss the topic though, as I think it's fairly critical to the usefulness of the site...
    – Jae Carr
    Apr 25, 2014 at 13:15


There are hundreds of sects, each has its own doctrine, that should be somewhere documented. You tag a question with the name of that sect, so that there will be only one best answer, documented with proper reference. It's just like Christianity is currently working.

If there's no official reference, there should be some external articles about the sect and its doctrine, that can be verified to be correct or incorrect. However, with the lack of any such reference, the question will be simply not answerable under Q&A principles. But the answer stating there's no answer and documenting that fact is also an answer :)

  • This is one of the odd things about the SE sites that aren't stack overflow. We seem to be doing a lot of linking to things that are already on the internet somewhere. Is the only purpose of this site to centralize reference links then? With your proposal it would be impossible (or at least discouraged) to add any new thoughts or perspectives.
    – Jae Carr
    Apr 28, 2014 at 13:32

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