# The Inmates are Running the Asylum?

I read this post of the user vedicd. The question he tried to raise was valid, but his approach was probably wrong. If he knew the answers were wrong, then he should have posted the correct answer there. Nevertheless, I feel the point he was trying to raise regarding the overall status of the site to be correct.

Currently most of us who are active here are from programming or coding background. In someway we are kind of geeks. I used to be a developer and from engg. background. So I know it's natural for us the way we talk, address each other, ask and answer the questions here. But this is making the site look like built by the geeks for the geeks.

Now what I wonder is, whether we want to keep the site that way or improve it so that people from spiritual background (who are a bit conservative and serious about religion) can participate here conveniently instead of trying to delete their accounts?

NB: The title of this post is an English proverb which is used to funnily express the situation when wrong people are running the business or in charge of something.

## Update

I am feeling a bit sad because it seems like the discussion has turned into some form of argument where we are trying to explain ourselves. But my purpose behind this post was to open the discussion, "What we can do so that religious experts and practitioners will feel comfortable participating here." I was expecting some suggestions like Mr.Green has provided in his answer.

But may be my explanation was too honest and people took it to the heart. I didn't mean to say that any one is wrong, I just wanted to prevent that from happening in the future. I want us to not do such things that others have to say wrong people are running the show. I just didn't want people to raise questions like "What's going on here?". I know some religious people can be rude and stubborn. So opened the discussion thinking about the future. That's all. I thought my illustration regarding how we approach to answer a question would be funny, but may be my sense of humor is bad. We all google and answer questions, that's not a problem. What I wanted to illustrate was that expert people can provide original answers which would enhance site's quality. So I wanted to know your suggestions for improving the environment around here. We are a handful users active here, for no reasons there should be misunderstanding between us. If any concerns or problems then let's chat and clear it out. Please don't take things personal and feel free to share your suggestions. Thanks.

• This is the first time I disagree with you. It is very surprising that I can't understand your post, but, am I missing something? – user3459110 Jul 3 '14 at 10:42
• I have just expressed the concern that some religious users might raise regarding whether we, as geeks, are unfit for running a religious site. I have posted this keeping future religious users in view, who might be skeptical about things here like in the post i refereed in the question. – Be Happy Jul 3 '14 at 10:45
• Well, how is it in relation to the vedicd's post? – user3459110 Jul 3 '14 at 10:48
• You raised a correct concern. Instead of pointing others, I will just tell my story, I don't know much about Hinduism but I am giving answers by googling and finding sources instead of sharing my own knowledge. many times I avoid it but if I know atleast 30% then I google it to find source and answer it. – Mr_Green Jul 3 '14 at 10:49
• @AwalGarg vedicd expressed his dissatisfaction over the way things are going here. I understand his sentiment. May be he is a serious religious conservative. So I asked the question here for suggestions that we can do to make the site more friendly to non geeky users who are serious regarding religious stuff. – Be Happy Jul 3 '14 at 10:51
• But then, don't you think vedicd had more wrong at his part? He opened an entire meta post, engaged so many people, and was very much affirmed to what he said. He wasn't ready to listen to anyone, that's why I didn't jump in the conversation. But, I do agree with your concern in general. Thanks for clarifying... :) – user3459110 Jul 3 '14 at 10:56
• @Mr_Green your frankness touched my heart :) I really think if we are honest with ourselves, then more experienced users will like to participate here. I know this can be a concern to some religious people, hence even though discussing it is not pleasing, I mentioned it anyway. – Be Happy Jul 3 '14 at 11:06
• @AwalGarg yeah, his approach was wrong as I mentioned in the question. If something is not correct, then we should discuss it calmly and find a way out rather than being arrogant. But I know certain religious people can be such stubborn. – Be Happy Jul 3 '14 at 11:09
• Exactly, other people were trying to be polite, AND helpful. But you know, even God can't help those who don't want to help themselves... +1 for a nice post. (Hey, I see you as future mod! :P) – user3459110 Jul 3 '14 at 11:11
• @Mr_Green How do you calculate how much you know in percentage if you don't know the entire thing? :P (just asking... lol) – user3459110 Jul 3 '14 at 11:16
• @AwalGarg hehe good point.. it was actually just a word I get in mind to use. :) – Mr_Green Jul 3 '14 at 11:23

The success and quality of a Q&A site depends upon having good experts, researchers, practitioners, etc. Everyone can ask a question but not everyone can answer one. So we need to have experts on this site. And for that we need to improve the site's environment and quality so that such users will feel comfortable participating here.

Let us be honest, probably none of us are actual experts. What to speak of being an expert, not all of us are even spiritual practitioners. But still we are doing good and probably trying to pretend as experts by suing candy coated words and remarks. Let me illustrate what's the difference between us and an expert.

1. A geek's approach of answering a question

• Finds two three relevant links along with Wikepedia.
• Copies the contents from their and pastes it as a nicely formatted answer.
• With small letters or hyperlinks provides a reference to the source.
• And voila! we have an expert answer to the question.

The Result:

• Answer obtained within minutes to hours.
• Answer may or may not be completely correct. (copied answer can be biased or morphed due to personal experience and interpretations of people who themselves are not experts)
• The user who answered the question may not even have prior knowledge about the subject.

2. A practitioner's approach of answering a question

• The practitioner tries to remember where and in which scripture the subject was mentioned.
• If successfully recalls then directly opens the chapter in the scripture and goes to the verse.
• If fails to recall the verse, then goes by all the verses of the chapter one by one until the correct one has been found.
• Writes the answer and types the Sanskrit text into ISAT format if the ISAT text is not already available and gives the meaning.
• Provides the reference to the chapter, verse of the scripture.
• And voila! we have an expert answer to the question.

The Result:

• Answer obtained within hours to days.
• Answer is reliable as quotes directly from the source.
• The user who answered the question may have prior knowledge about the subject.

3. An expert's approach of answering a question

• The expert knows exactly which verse of which scripture answers the question.
• Directly types the question stating this and this verse of this scripture states thus. (May or may not add the original text as he doesn't need to verify. He just knows.)
• And voila! we have an (actual) expert answer to the question.

The Result:

• Answer is reliable as quotes directly from the source.
• The user who answered the question has prior knowledge about the subject.

From this we need to identify whether we are actually experts. I know, it's hard to find that kind of experts, but because such experts do exist we need to be honest with our own position and hope our community gets as much as such. If the reason behind this site is not to amass some badges and reputation (which any geek would certainly like) so that we can showoff, but to share and increase our knowledge about spiritual and cultural values of Hinduism, then we certainly should hope for more spiritual practitioners and experts. And for that we need to change the environment a bit around here. Currently it really feels like a playground where users are importing content from other sites and earning reputation and badges. The concept of reps and badges suits well for geeks and motivates them, what the hell geeks won't do to see nice +10s and badges on their profile. That's why Jeff Atwood who himself is a geek implemented it in stackoverflow. The rep system works good in programming context where answers can be validated by all and answers are most of the times original creations of the poster. But in religious context it doesn't work that well. It although is a good motivator can also be a demotivator for some religious people. Let me explain.

The reason why a religious practitioner may not like to participate here is simple. It is because here everyone becomes equal. In terms of reputation score those who seriously study and practice the religion are same or even lower to those who do not practice it at all. Please do not mind it, but its worth mentioning the possibility that some of us geeks have not even read our original scriptures like Gita, Bhagavata once. But still we are doing well due to our ability of search, find, copy and paste. I don't mean to say this is wrong. In fact, what else we'll do if we don't know the answer but want to answer a question! So what I mean to say is that this will discourage religious practitioners and serious users from participating in the site. There will remain no difference between someone who is a practitioner or a monk trying to provide original answers and someone who doesn't take religion and spiritual practices much seriously but providing answers anyway from various sources. I wonder if this is way some fellow practitioners who used to participate here are no longer coming or participating. So on this point I seek your valuable opinions and suggestions.

Second thing is that, our main chat room is also completely geeky. Apart from deciding what would be a good question to ask, who answered what, other chats are mostly about geeky stuffs like gadgets, TV shows, badges, reputations, etc. The way of our talking there is also geeky. It's only obvious because most of the time it stays occupied by geeks like us. But I think the religious minded people may not like our interest and way of talking. So what do you suggest? Should we create another chat room where serious users and practitioners would feel comfortable to chat and spend time? If you visit any spiritual and religious forum then you will find how humbly and respectfully they address and talk with each other. After all, this is a site about religion. So we will certainly have serious users. So we need to do something so that they will like it here. That way Hinduism.SE can be the best place on the Internet for those who love and want to discuss about Hinduism and spirituality.

Whether we realize or not, the fact is that future belongs to guys like us. If you see, almost all of us who are active here are within the age range of 20-25. We are the next generation and frontier of our culture. But most of us are geeks and influenced by the western culture. Some serious minded people may not like that. But we have the potential to create a great community here. We have have pretty well experienced users here, just that we have not been able to focus on the quality, environment and future of the site. It's our responsibility to create a nice environment here so that elder and spiritually experienced users, serious researchers and practitioners and experts will feel comfortable to participate here. This is a site about religion, which also concerns people who are not technical geeks, rather serious about it. If we want this to be an authentic and good site, then we have to cast aside any biased and wrong feelings and become honest and open. Please share your thoughts and suggestions on this. My point is simple, let's not make the site such that people will say the inmates are running the asylum.

• Thank you for this answer, one of the most relevant one in the meta until now. – user11 Jul 3 '14 at 16:31

Yes. Yes, you are.

This is the scary part, the great leap of faith that Stack Overflow is predicated on: trusting your fellow programmers. The programmers who choose to participate in Stack Overflow are the “secret sauce” that makes it work. You are the reason I continue to believe in developer community as the greatest source of learning and growth. You are the reason I continue to get so many positive emails and testimonials about Stack Overflow. I can’t take credit for that. But you can.

Jeff - co-founder of Stack Overflow, the site that eventually led to the creation of this one - wrote that nearly 6 years ago now, and it's still just as true for each new site. Every new Stack Exchange site that is launched is defined, refined and operated by you, the people who use it. All the time and effort that folks like me put into the underlying software, into education and guidance... Is all for nothing if you aren't building a place where folks like you can share answers to those critical questions that arise in your day to day lives. And if you are... the credit for that is all yours.

## So be the site you want to see

Do you want this to be a place where those you hope to teach and to learn from feel unwelcome, feel like outsiders? Do you want this to be a place where questions are ill-defined and answers written with carelessness and apathy? I hope not...

At the end of the day, this site that you are building is a reflection of what you want. So decide now what that is, and let that inform all that you do here...

• You did a good writeup on you's and us, thank you :P – user3459110 Jul 6 '14 at 4:39

I have radically changed this post as the example user in the debate is now no more a member of this site (Refer old revision). I agree what jabahar says, my suggestions would be :-

1. Insist your cousins, especially the elder ones to join this website as they would be best in terms of knowledge
2. Lets not decide the rules based on single users opinion, instead we should explain them the rules rather than changing them according to their convenience ...
3. I would really like the Experts to be active here, unfortunately I see merely 2-3 of them being active, rest are visitors
4. Please support interesting questions by upvoting them, more you upvote, more are the chances for the question to get listed under Hot Network Questions list, this will help us with the visitors statistics as well as New users registering on the site. We are not posting questions here for the sake of asking or to gain reputation points, its always for the site so remember that.
5. Existing users with privileges should take some responsibilities and make use of the tools they get, for example, edits, reviewing posts, upvoting/downvoting posts etc.
6. Try to stay active in Chat rooms and discuss about the website
• ಢ_ಢ the first comment I receive is : Please provide a reference to support your answer sorry, but I only do that when required. I will stop if you don't like it... :) – user3459110 Jul 3 '14 at 11:47
• @AwalGarg lol no, I am completely fine with that, and its not just you, there are many, I can provide links to their comments and I don't find anything wrong in that – Mr. Alien Jul 3 '14 at 11:50
• Yeah, I had cheenbabes in my mind when I said I wonder why they are not coming. So we can't do much then for people who are serious minded about religion? – Be Happy Jul 3 '14 at 11:51
• @jabahar Exactly, take some time and read my answer, I guarantee you its worth reading, its all the things I see out here, real users are not active, enthusiasts answers are not accepted by users here... So the site is fine as of now... – Mr. Alien Jul 3 '14 at 11:54
• @Mr.Alien ahh.. i feel you took the question a bit personal. No one is doubting your experience. In fact when I said we have experienced users here I had you in my mind because on SE sites you are the most experienced one here. I just wanted to know if we can do something that religious users will feel comfortable here. – Be Happy Jul 3 '14 at 11:54
• @AwalGarg i have also done that with him....and will do it again if looks applicable to me. – Ankit Sharma Jul 3 '14 at 11:55
• @jabahar I think you should read the disclaimer.. and sorry if you felt that I took the question personally but I've stated About Me as well :) I am not that hardcore religious guy, so these all experiences over here are just live and general, I will edit my answer – Mr. Alien Jul 3 '14 at 11:59
• @Mr.Alien,Ankit, oh c'mon guys. Don't let it flow like this. Just enjoy the site, if you don't like something, just downvote it. These problems will arise no matter how civilised, understanding everyone might be until we get mods. So just vote to have mods, and get more and more mod nominations. Leave this, lets all just contribute content. These topics should be discussed by mods only. No one of us it yet so experienced with this very site. Lets not try to force shaping it into something we don't know off. If you get my point, tell others, if not, tell me... :) – user3459110 Jul 3 '14 at 12:09
• I totally agree with above comment ^^ – Mr. Alien Jul 3 '14 at 12:09
• @Mr.Alien Well, it costs 10 crore bucks... pay me now! – user3459110 Jul 3 '14 at 12:12
• @AwalGarg I voted your comment, and thats what it deserves, be like a tortoise Without moh-maya :p – Mr. Alien Jul 3 '14 at 12:17
• @Awal Garg,Mr.Alien, Amen! It was just my concern for the future of the site seeing a fellow religious believer getting disappointed and raising questions about what's going on here. But, let's keep that matter off for the future and let those guys make their own decisions. – Be Happy Jul 3 '14 at 12:18
• @jabahar tathastu :P We all appreciate your (completely constructive) work on raising the concern, and I think it is already apparent to you, right? – user3459110 Jul 3 '14 at 12:20
• @jabahar I really liked that you raised this issue, but as I said, none of the experts take part in the discussion, for example I invited this user for a discussion and he ignored, also I do randomly ping users posting low quality to explain them how the site works but again, no involvement :) – Mr. Alien Jul 3 '14 at 12:26
• @AwalGarg avasya :) – Be Happy Jul 3 '14 at 12:26

I know, the post is dead, by my two cents..

Are we allowing people to take this site hostage? Just because a person (conservative or liberal) doesn't affirm to my world-view should I ban him by coercion?

What will be the reaction of such people if someone posted a question about Kamasutra or the status of Khajuraho?

What will be the reaction of people when this site will encounter other controversial topics like Brahma and Saraswati relationship (father-daughter)?

I'm not talking about stuffs like Wendy Doneiger's book, 'Hindu: Alternate History' rather I'm talking about '300 Ramayanas' by Ramanujam.

I know people from chat.HI who more than often have deleted their answer from fear of getting downvoted.

It's for the community to decide what they derive out of this site, a typical white-washed Hindu community which will try to disown every contrasting viewpoint/interpretation than a particular set or a more vibrant and lively discussion room where all views are respected.

• Are we allowing people to take this site hostage? - NO :) – Mr. Alien Jul 3 '14 at 17:47

Now what I wonder is, whether we want to keep the site that way or improve it

There is no need of improving the site. The improvement should come under the users of this site. Some of the points which I think every user should follow are:

• Give respect to other users.
• If some users is commenting in offensive way, please flag the comment instead of elongating the discussion in to a debate.
• [old one] Don't just downvote a post, comment it.
• Try to be in Hinduism chat room. It may help the philosophers to understand how this site works.
• yes, i meant the improvement of the environment around here like you have stated. – Be Happy Jul 4 '14 at 5:28

After seeing all the answers above I personally feels that there is nothing remains to mention or explain... Everyone has explained their opinions...

But the thing is raised here regarding whether we need to flag off topic to the one who is looking for the scientific justification or not. I feels that we can allow the questions in which we literally requires scientific justification. So for that as Jabahar has mentioned we need experts who is having deep knowledge of Hinduism. As everyone mentioned and as we see everyone here is from programming or other IT related background. Just because we are here on SO. We need to do kind of publicity of this Site so that other people also take interest here and take part actively.

Now here almost everybody knows everyone but most of the leading users (except Ankit Sharma and Mr.Alien) are not actively coming over the chat. So I just urge other members of Hinduism as well that please join the chat and be interactive. We can share our ideas there as well.

And regarding posts over Vedicd you can check his profile he has mentioned himself in the description. He is just roaming around and messing up the things. Earlier his name was delete me* on SO. He once joined a room where usually I do chat and started messing up. When I asked him why he is doing that the I got the answer that Because I want to delete my account. So there is no point to take a look over this kind of user.

P.S.: Bare me if I have made any mistake then .

• Bare me if I have made any mistake then yes there are spelling mistakes in your post. :P – Mr_Green Jul 4 '14 at 5:33
• @Mr_Green Lol.. Done.. :D – The Hungry Dictator Jul 4 '14 at 5:38