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Thread: How can we improve?

  1. #1

    How can we improve?

    Dear members,

    How can we improve the Buddhism Without Boundaries website? Any suggestions?



  2. #2
    Forums Member justusryans's Avatar
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    I really enjoy Buddhism Without Boundaries. My point of view is we need more people to interact on posts. I’m not one to talk...I certainly could do better, and I need to do so. Much of the time I find myself just following posts.





  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by justusryans View Post
    I really enjoy Buddhism Without Boundaries. My point of view is we need more people to interact on posts. I’m not one to talk...I certainly could do better, and I need to do so. Much of the time I find myself just following posts.





    Hi Mike,

    Thank you so much for replying!

    Quite a few members seem to log in every day for a couple of minutes and then they go away again, without joining in with any topics or starting any new ones. Also, new people often join and then seem to disappear again without even saying "Hello"!

    Considering that there's a membership of over 3000, its very disheartening, because this used to be an active, lively community.... and so I'm hoping there will be some response here on this thread to help us get things going again.






    .

  4. #4
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    I go on three sites at the moment, and the other sites are pretty quiet too. It would be interesting to hear from people who have never posted as to why they don't, as otherwise we are making best guesses. When I post I always keep in mind that I'm talking to those who don't post too, in case it might be of some interest or use to them in their practice. My experience at the Buddhist center I attended for many years was similar. We would get many new people dropping in to the centre at key times such as the September restart of courses after the summer break. Of the eighty or so people there might be twenty next time, and this quickly fell off. For one of the largest cities in the country, with a large influx of university students too, it was a bit disheartening.Few new people would actually take part in any discussions we had other than to introduce themselves.

    One interesting thing to come out of the many discussions we had about lack of take-up was the sheer number of different reasons people gave for coming in the first place. There were probably as many different reasons as there were people, and I assume this is the same for on-line communities too. It may be that people have been looking for something different recently as a response to some current trend such as Goenka meditation, and just want to find out more about Buddhism, or even find out why their Goenka meditations aren't working as they were told they would. I'm not attacking it, just pointing out that it takes up a lot of posts on other sites.

    It may also be that those wanting discussions go to other areas of the internet like Reddit or Facebook or Snapchat or whatever the latest fad in communicating is at the moment. I tried Reddit for a while but found the discussions about Buddhism far too technical and lacking the sense of community I know you try to develop here.

    My own experience on the internet is that few discussions are 'open' type discussions, and posts either lead to answers, which end the discussion, or are pushing some aspect of Buddhism or meditation and are worded so as to be a 'closed' type (I did a lot of research as a teacher about class and group discussions, and how to bring more students into discussions, so sorry if I'm a bit technical here). The Dharma is both a strength and weakness when taken up by people in a society dominated by other belief systems. In one way we have access to what was hidden in other countries for many years and the freedom to explore it, but we have no cultural impetus to take it forward or to provide easily accessed to communities of like-minded people following the norms of society. It's easy then for someone to say that the Dharma says something, so end of discussion. There's little 'wriggle room' when the Dharma is not up for grabs like this or where authority is based on certified unbroken schools of teaching and you'd better not try to introduce something not rubber-stamped as authentic.

    I stopped going to the Buddhist centre when it decided it was no longer a 'Western' version of Buddhism, trying to find a Western identity, and became 'closed' to discussion about how it could develop, and I also now try not to post on such closed discussions on sites such as this (not that there are many on this site) although I do read them all.

    Maybe not posting is just a phase that the internet is going through and if we wait long enough then things will change and people will post more. or maybe those who do post can explore how discussions can develop in a more open way, inviting a response rather than informing, however well meant, and closing the discussion. Or maybe not. What do others think?

  5. #5
    Global Moderator Esho's Avatar
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    I cant imagine how to improve with so few active members -philg, olderon and mike- coming time to time to post an opinion to what Aloka has posted. This forum used to be a very vivid place but that was a long time ago. Today the forum is static and I don't know how to make it more lively. Maybe it is part of its evolution; a cycle that has completed and it evolved into a quiet and slow place. Things change sometimes slowly, some times fast. This situation eventually will change; as philg said, more than informing, lets post threads open to discussion, or to share personal experiences with our daily practice.


  6. #6
    Technical Administrator woodscooter's Avatar
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    It seems to me that there are two reasons why is has become quieter here.

    The first one, as some have already mentioned, is that times have changed. The bulletin-board format for discussion has been replaced by Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the others. That's not to say our kind of format is no longer useful, but I think it is much more for specialist groups. There's not much attraction for casual passers-by.

    The second reason is that BWB is quite selective with new member registration. We try to filter out time-wasters and oddballs such as UFO hunters. There are Buddhist discussion sites who take on everybody, and their 'discussions' often degenerate into online fist-fights. That's been actively discouraged at this site. The side-effect of this kind of policy is that there's very little scandalous and garish content to attract the masses.

    We've created a place in the Internet for level-headed exchange of views and a source of information for newcomers. The aggressive or opinionated posters have been shooed away, and those who seek excitement have drifted away.

    To attract more new members into this environment, we might need to be seen as something other than a forum for all sorts of Buddhism. We may want to narrow our focus, to become more distinctive.

  7. #7
    Forums Member Olderon's Avatar
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    Great question, Aloka.

    My experience is that it has to do with common interests and having "experienced and authoritative" participants (quasi-gurus) available for sought advice or experience sharing with regard to given topics. For example: The busiest sites seem to have "seekers" of information, or educational resources. Quora ( a site relating to science and politics )is a good example of this, and those exploring Buddhism is another, such as our site and a multitude of others.

    I can't think of anything, which would improve this site.

    Sorry,

    Ron

  8. #8
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    Hi Aloka

    As the Zen patriarch said "you are perfect as you are, but there's always room for improvement"

    There have been a number of very insightful comments made already

    I found Philg's post resonated with me the most, I think that he describes a common experience within western Buddhism at least in the UK

    People are drawn to Buddhism, often through Mindfulness, look at sites such as BWB and are interested but don't feel engaged.

    A lot of the posts, quite rightly are obviously by quite long term, knowledgeable practitioners. Just the people you need to expound the Dhamma in a concise accurate way, which is an aim of the BWB, one of the reasons I have such high regard for the site

    However, from my own experience in groups, corroborated to some extent by Philg's comments, there are many reasons why people are looking at Buddhism, few of them start with getting an appreciation of the finer points of emptiness

    I would say most of them are looking for the relevance of Buddhism to their daily experience of dukkha.

    If you are looking for the most successful integration of Buddhism in the west, I would point to the vipassana movement in the USA

    Joseph Goldstien, Tara Brach, Gil Fronsdal all expound the dhamma in terms of the experience of the audience of daily life, for them, the deepest teaching is the twelve aspects of the four noble truths

    Difficult to do in terms of a short post I grant, but I think we can all resonate with "Understand Dhukka"

  9. #9
    Forums Member trusolo's Avatar
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    Hi Aloka,
    In my case, I often look at latest posts, think of replying, postpone it for later, and then it kind of fizzles away or becomes dated because someone else brings out the same point in the discussion.

    I should also mention that I have noticed a huge gap in “viewed” vs. “replies” numbers. The number of views per post are pretty healthy! This is also one of those few rare sites where no one person or personality dominates and no one is trying to impress anyone - perversely enough people like that sort of thing and I have noticed in other forums including science ones where moderators are some kind of authority figures and there is almost a competition amongst members as to who pleases the higher ups the most. Of course I could be totally wrong and just getting a wrong picture of other forums. This is a very self-driven kind of discussion group. I suspect that a lot of people fall into two extreme camps - ones who think they already know and the ones who want definitive answers. Open ended super civil discussions like here may not appeal to both such groups.

  10. #10
    Forums Member JadeRabbit's Avatar
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    Hi Aloka,

    Firstly, thank you so much for continuing to support and try to promote discussion on BWB, it's very much appreciated. I don't feel you need to change anything, but agree things have changed a lot since I joined in 2010.

    As others have said, the way people access the internet/forums/apps has changed. My 18 year old daughter, for instance, tends to use the latest apps (exclusively on her phone, not a PC/laptop), and dips in and out of them all so quickly. So maybe it's something where people spend less time in forums in general and don't reflect or spend time replying to posts.

    My own personal reason, is that the longer I practice, the less I have to say, so tend not to respond or provide input - for which I apologise!

    Thinking wider, I also feel there's a general downturn in interest in Buddhism, as many of the great teachers who brought Buddhism to the West in the 60's and 70's have sadly died. There seem very few strong characters that are publicly known now. The 'mindfulness movement' initiated by Jon Kabat-Zinn in the 1970's has also become a bit of a fad and we now have a lot of 'McMindfulness' fluff, which isn't very helpful unless people decide to take up a regular meditation practice and seek out some decent information on the subject (such as BWB!).

    Anyway, I hope you're not too down-heartened by what's happening at the moment.

    Best wishes,

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