Re-evaluating Walled Garden approach

Keep "Walled Garden" approach at CR?

  • Yes, the Walled Garden approach works well for me

    Votes: 18 62.1%
  • No, it's too restrictive for me

    Votes: 6 20.7%
  • I don't really have an opinion on the matter

    Votes: 5 17.2%

  • Total voters
    29

iBrian

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So far at CR we've try to apply a "Walled Garden" approach to individual faith boards.

The objectives were as follows:

1. To protect the interests of the silent majority
2. To allow individual faiths to feel more welcome at CR
3. To make the forums on CR a useful reference source on faith issues

However, such a policy has been reported by some as too restrictive.

Looking at the forums now, I'm also not sure that the objectives are being achieved.

Chiefly, we had complaints about non-Christians in the Christian forum - but when we made the effort to restrict their access, not only do many mainstream Christians now rarely post there anyway, but some even pushed the very restrictions they asked for in our faces.

I think it's also fair that people here generally want to comment on faith issues *regardless* of where the faith discussions are held.

Members give the impression of wanting to express themselves individually in terms of their beliefs, rather than speaking for their faith. But the "Walled Garden" so far restricts that.

Overall, I've been involved with managing various types of religious discussion forums - from the very civilised, to the very ugly.

I don't want to see CR become an ugly place where "anything goes" - but I don't want CR to be perceived as a stiff and inflexible place that restricts discussions unnecessarily.

I'd therefore like to get feedback from everyone who wishes to provide it, with regards to whether you feel the "Walled Garden" approach is right and works for you - or whether the walls should come tumbling down.
 
I think that in order to have a discussion about "comparative religion," you have to get people talking about their different experiences, ideas and beliefs. A homogenous mix of people who all adhere to one creed may be nice for a bit, but I think it gets pretty boring. Also, I think that a person posting about their beliefs and experiences in a multifaith dialogue ought to reasonably expect vigorous but respectful debate.

On the other side, to have "comparative religion" discussions, people also have to genuinely listen to one another and try to really understand the point of view being expressed (how else could one compare it), and barring that, they need to at least be respectful of the fact that reasonable people can disagree about most matters.

If this were a loosely or poorly moderated forum, then the second concern would probably justify a more rigid "walled garden" approach. But since there are so many good mods on this forum, it never really seemed necessary to me and often ended up being unfair to those who had non-maintstream ideas and approaches to "mainstream" religions. After all, who is really to say what a "Christian" or a "Buddhist" objectively should be?

It seems like offensive and inappropriate behavior is spotted pretty quickly and appropriate warnings are usually issued (with the occassional mistake).

That's my 2 cents anyway.
 
Different approach, perhaps....

It is my observation that the board as a whole has become more strident and nasty in the months since the emphasis was put on the "walled garden". It's really almost impossible to legislate civility, though. I will say that the general tone has degraded to the point where I am seldom bothering to post except as a moderator - and am seriously considering dropping off the site completely (which may reflect a decreased emphasis/interest on religion in my daily life more than the tone here, although the tone is a factor).

I don't know if it's the rules shift, or an influx of posters trying stridently to push their viewpoint and being stridently pushed back by others... but I think the "walled garden" is being used more as a bludgeon by certain posters than as a tool by all of us.
 
Haha, well I have an opinion but it's neither of the choices yes or no. That's probably not too helpful to you I, Brian.

I think at times the walled garden approach has been too restrictive, but overall it has served to keep the individual fora from simply becoming grounds for attack, which would also become tiresome. One solution could be to have a religious debate board, but in a way I like CR specifically because it does not have a board with this label. I like it that we must enter the grounds of the religion we want to discuss, and try to act with respect for each other while there.

The Christianity Forum has tended to be the most difficult because there are so many of us who view ourselves as Christians, yet don't fit the box one way or another. We want to talk to others who are interested in Christianity and related topics, some of us want to at least talk about the fringe ideas that push the envelope on what it means to be 'Christian,' and there is some relief for this in the Alternative boards. But even that, IMO, is too much artificial separation.

It seems to me that any topic that touches on Christian themes, whether they are mainstream or alternative, conservative or progressive, should all be welcome in the Christian forum. If people want to learn the tenets of Christianity, well, there are other places to do that. It's clear that there is such a wide range of thinking on what it means to be a Christian that we could not accomdate the diversity of beliefs here in any way that would be fairly representative. (I'll add here that I think Q and Juan have been doing an outstanding job in the foum lately, and it is not easy.) The main experience here is how individuals apply what they think their religion is to their lives. That does not prevent scholarly discussion. Maybe if someone wants to start a thread with a more defined focus and does not want to spend time warding off challenges to the main theme of the thread, there can be come way to designate that kind of thread. added: we've also been successful in the past with 'fellowship' threads, even without designating them as such. People particpate in those threads in a more 'sharing' and less 'debating' mode pretty much without being told to.

I think that with common sense and good manners we can manage just fine with a picket fence rather than a brick wall.

2c,
lunamoth
 
Namaste all,

i voted for the walled garden approach. the approach, itself, isn't the main issue, in my view. it is how some individual beings chose to go about using said approach.

to be frank with you i suspect that there are two, main, forms of dialog that people are interested in with regards to their religious views.. a) sharing with like-minded individuals, where the empahsis is upon sharing and fellowship rather than doctrinal defense and so forth and 2) Apolegetics, i.e. the discussion of defending ones views and providing arguments to support them and so forth.

perhaps it would be enough to simply rework the soil in the various gardens and add a new row of vegetables called Apolegetics or something appropos to the view being expressed which can serve to funnel the discussion into the correct area.

sure, these are all sort of arbritary decisions and divisons and there is alot of profundity in the statement: you cannot please all people at all times.

the consideration is how to provide a "safe haven" for liked minded beings to share and how to facilitate a healthy discussion which those beings can choose to partake of or not. perhaps simply adding more rows to the garden will resolve the issue :)

metta,

~v
 
I'd therefore like to get feedback from everyone who wishes to provide it, with regards to whether you feel the "Walled Garden" approach is right and works for you - or whether the walls should come tumbling down.

My response:

Having only been "back" a few days, I think the "garden" where I am is pretty much open to being intruded upon...I like the concept of having an area that is primarily not for challenges or attacks but for general information and friendly exchange...

Also I think there is room for design of a particular environment which reflects the particular religion or faith with input from members so there can be more creative expression.

The richness of a forum like this should be based on mutual respect and appreciation of our diversity.

- Art
 
If one wants to enter the "garden" of another, one will ask to enter and be respectfull while there. It is only proper social manners, to do so.

Anyone who thinks less or null of such socially acceptable "behaviors", mayhap have no business being part of CR to begin with...

my thoughts

v/r

Q

edit: I also think a "free for all forum" would be a serious problem to try and contain (somehow "fix" just doesn't come easily to mind). So, I wouldn't entertain that option in any part of CR.
 
I like the "walled gardens" for individual religions, but find the "walled districts" of Abrahamic, Eastern thought, Alternative, and Modern Religions a bit restrictive. {I understand that this might make things easier to find, but it also makes things easier to avoid, as well. ;) } I seldom bump into the folks from the Modern Religions area, except maybe in the comparative studies area. The "walled gardens" for individual religions are nice to provide a sanctuary for times when a certain religion becomes the target of attack.

Isn't that the way it has evolved in society--there are "walled gardens" or churches that serve a specific religion, where people of similar beliefs can gather and exchange ideas specific to that religion without fear of attack from those who disagree? "Churches," or "Sanctuaries," of radically different religions can exist side-by-side within a neighborhood harmoniously, with neighbors encountering each other peacefully for discussion within the neighborhood, at coffee ships, pubs, libraries, etc. {Specific Genres of churches are not assigned to segregated districts. When this happens, you can get "turf wars," or prejudices about "people from the wrong side of town." You also don't get the opportunity to run into some interesting people due to this type of segregation.}
 
I'm wondering if perhaps what's required is a new board structure - with a main section of boards for discussion of different religions, and another main section for fellowship within religions. Not sure how that would work, though. Will need to think on it. Seems there are two distinct needs to be catered for.
 
Re: Different approach, perhaps....

Since I am the Newbie here, all I can offer is my fresh perspective(that is why I am the one voting for "I don't have an opinion"). So far, I have enjoyed the walled garden approach because I feel comfortable knowing that a personal attack will be addressed by a moderator. I have been on a religious debate forum where name calling and sarcasm ruled the day.

I think that an Apologetics Thread instead of debate is a good idea. Do you think that providing a "handout" on comparing dialogue and debate would stop the nastiness? There is a time and place for debate but not on matters of faith, IMHO. I have a resource for using dialogue as a tool for dealing with controversial issues here in the US and could follow up on some research if that would help.

Hasta Luego, Jamarz
 
Just breezin' through, but thought I might chime in on this.

It seems to me there are going to be difficulties no matter how the fora are set up. IMHO, the problem is a proceedural issue. Personally, I think the basic idea of walled gardens is a pretty good groundwork to start from. I agree, there may be room for adjustment, but the overall concept I find quite appealing.

There remains certain issues of what differentiates between "core" and "fringe" (or "mainstream" and "alternative") variations on given themes, and how to allow alternative views without alienating mainstream participants. While I think I get where Luna was headed (HI Luna! :) ), I'm not sure adding more fora is the solution. There are already "general" as well as "comparative" boards. Those brave (or foolhardy) souls willing to venture beyond the borders of their walled gardens have ample opportunity to mix and mingle with other faiths. I do see the walled gardens as safe havens for the more...timid,... or perhaps the word is "resolute."

In any event, trying to "define" what is acceptable and what is fringe has been a sticking point as long as I can remember here, and the trouble is that I don't see any real solution to do away with it. Vaj hit the nail on the head, you can't please everyone all of the time. No matter how hard you try.

I think there is a good foundation here, a good fundamental framework. Some tweaking may be in order, but I do not see how a major overhaul will change the underlying issues. No matter who is included, someone will end up feeling ostracized. I am thinking the issue may be better dealt with by education of the participants, rather than structural change of the framework. My opinion, anyway.

Frankly, I never had any personal issue with the "alternative" bunch in Christianity, but since there were (at that time) those who were regular participants who did feel put upon, I acted as I saw fit. Perhaps the times are a-changin', perhaps there is a bit more room now to deal with others. I always figured it would be one day at a time, and take it as it comes.

G'nite all!
 
This forum is never going to arrive a a point of self-regulating equalibrium. You're always going to need moderators. I think the idea of the walled gardens is to attract participants who, how can I say this...have less of a capacity to accept criticism of their religion. I guess the question really is if there are enough of that type of people that it's worth the extra gray hairs. Personally, I think that the only restrictions that make sense are a general prohibition on language which exceeds a TVPG rating, blatant personal attacks, and overt spamming.

Chris
 
China Cat Sunflower said:
This forum is never going to arrive a a point of self-regulating equalibrium. You're always going to need moderators. I think the idea of the walled gardens is to attract participants who, how can I say this...have less of a capacity to accept criticism of their religion. I guess the question really is if there are enough of that type of people that it's worth the extra gray hairs. Personally, I think that the only restrictions that make sense are a general prohibition on language which exceeds a TVPG rating, blatant personal attacks, and overt spamming.

Chris

Hi, Chris. :)
While I agree with your assestment that there are spiritually weak people, are they to be despised? Wouldn't providing a sanctuary for the "spiritual babes" and the "wounded warriors" where they can grow strong enough to survive in a less protective environment be the compassionate thing to do?
 
I dunno, Seattlegal, I'm pretty "resolute" about there being more than one Path to Divinity - and I'd even go a step further and say that these other paths all lead to the same Christian `God.' And so it makes no difference if I am a Hindu or a Muslim, in that respect. Oh, and did I mention, I am resolute.

But yes, if I had resolve about treading the path of say, a Catholic, or a Methodist, then I'd probably be grateful for a space where I could discuss my religious beliefs - without being challenged by folks who might feel that "anything goes!"

So what's wrong with a walled garden? In descriptions I have read, of the literal Gardens of the actual Masters ... the entire Gardens are certainly Beautiful. But the gardens are usually divided into sections, or areas, typically themed by different colors, or varieties of flowers. And without a doubt, there are areas where variety itself is the organizing principle.

Maybe things at CR don't need to change at all, or at least not fundamentally. There are forums that focus on specific religions, and religious traditions. And there are numerous areas for comparative discussion, as well as science/secular boards. I have always been glad that there are so many spaces for chat.

The only thing I might point out, is that in the Gardens of the Masters, the only walls that usually exist are the outermost walls, which guard the sanctity, and sacred space, of the Gardens themselves. Within, the boundaries between the areas are simply observed and respected. Since anyone may wander into CR, every effort should be made to help them to become aware of the CoC, and it should become quickly obvious that if they want to be disrespectful, they'll need to go elsewhere.

I don't know what else could be done at CR to help with that, unless a Golden Rule, as it were, could somehow become more explicitly underlined (eg, as an actual Header in certain places) ... as the way things are to proceed. Not that most of us have any excuse to ever really question that, anywhere, anyhow - and yet, we sometimes forget. :eek:

Namaskar,

taijasi
 
taijasi said:
I dunno, Seattlegal, I'm pretty "resolute" about there being more than one Path to Divinity - and I'd even go a step further and say that these other paths all lead to the same Christian `God.' And so it makes no difference if I am a Hindu or a Muslim, in that respect. Oh, and did I mention, I am resolute...


taijasi

:eek: I didn't think I could be shocked by much of anything anymore...but you just proved that wrong!...LOL :p
 
Quahom1 said:
:eek: I didn't think I could be shocked by much of anything anymore...but you just proved that wrong!...LOL :p
What? That names are nothing more than names? As in "sticks 'n stones?" As in, "A Rose by any other name ... ?" ;)
[oooh, I see. now I get it, Q. but remember, I may as well, just as easily have said, Siva. Makes no difference, does it? that'smy point! lol]

I'm arguing for the walled garden approach, essentially, remember. lol So if I manage nothing more, I think I probably at least represent the NEED for areas where people CAN discuss a particular faith, without feeling like the theme(s) must always be comparative! :)

Peace,

taijasi

ADDED: I guess I should specify that something I really like about CR is that folks can come here for comparative discussion, but they can also come for very good, scholarly and more "from-the-heart" discussion about individual faiths, or approaches (not that scholarly can't be "from the heart" ... it's just kind of rare).
 
I voted for walled gardens.

But, I dunno. I don't see much need in adding any more boards. I see the Belief and Spirituality forum is a good general depot for stretching the ideas of various thoughts in all religious disciplines. I have had no problem in discussing variant forms of a particular religion in there. And the Comparative Studies forum allows for contrast and debate between opposing views. Both are general enough to allow walled barriers to be broken down. Maybe grouping these apart from the specific religion forums might be helpful. Perhaps include sub-catogories as needed.
 
I voted for the walled garden.

I appreciate that various religions have their place to discuss the nuances of their beliefs and are protected from foks looking to shangai or degrade their belief system.

I enjoy going into the other walls and asking questions and getting the variety of answers.

I'm one of those Christians on the edge that has been causing problems. I have been deemed not to be Christian because I don't follow the same tenents as some.

I wouldn't mind a place where the more liberal or progressive Christians can meet and discuss, without being quoted chapter and verse and sent to a fundie Hell.... I actually think that may improve things, and allow those their space without the likes of me interfering. I could easily follow the rules when I am inside of the literal/fundamental Christianity and glady frolick and dance in the safety of a liberal/progressive Christianity board.
 
That's quite the loaded survey you've written there Brian. It seems that you wrote it just to give the appearance of being open to change on the subject without really taking input.

I like the concept of a walled garden but the walls should be made in a way that respects all religions.

Taking the Baha'i Faith out of it rightful place in Abrahamic religions just to appease Christian and Muslim fundamentalists is lame.

Also you could give the Eastern Traditions a little more respect than just calling them Eastern thoughts.

Oh, I had a thought! Let's go down to McDonald's for some cheese burgers.
 
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