I am not active on Hinduism much, but lately, a couple of my friends from here shared a few posts with me from here, which I feel are ridiculous to be even posted in public.

Rather than answering such questions, these needs to be closed/deleted, reported and the user needs to be warned for the same. If the posts are posted by the same user again related to such topics, then some strict action should be taken (i.e, banning the user from Hinduism).

Questions should be neglected from the website which promotes:

  • Rape and related questions
  • Disrespecting other religions
  • Spreading fake preachings
  • Child & Women abuse
  • Racism

Some examples of such questions:

Now am not saying that the above might incite or encourage people from doing so but in general, these questions are controversial, and moreover, incite bad behaviour in people and hence, they are better ignored.

  • Welcome back :-) Thanks for bringing this issue upfront. I can see most of the questions are closed. Only two are left opened among which one is rightfully treated with downvotes. – TheLittleNaruto Jan 20 at 6:58
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    I think we should add this comment from @Pandya to the list of community specific close/flag reasons: I’m voting to close this question because we do not endorse the justification of crime (which is legal issue) with any of the religious law system. – TheLittleNaruto Jan 20 at 7:15
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    @TheLittleNaruto - I am sure you understand doctrine of Karma. And even you would agree that victim is just getting fruits - which by no means implies that the legal system should let the guilty go unpunished. If legal system does so then they are incurring bad karma. Only those who have a negative view on Hinduism would twist doctrine of karma to say that Hinduism endorses crime. – Carmen sandiego Jan 20 at 7:38
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    @TheLittleNaruto I think such posts should be nuked not even closed. – Mr_Green Jan 20 at 7:53
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    I suggest make such questions off-topic as they are heinous crimes. – Ankit Sharma Jan 20 at 9:08
  • @Carmensandiego Refer Mr_Green's answer – TheLittleNaruto Jan 20 at 9:49
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    @TheLittleNaruto - I don't know what ethics got to do here. A person asks whether suffering is justifiable on basis of karma , and that should be closed just because answering anything other than no would be unethical ? That does not make any sense. Such kind of behaviour is seen in those who are not well versed with Hinduism but have taken upon themselves the mandate to showcase Hinduism in good light. – Carmen sandiego Jan 20 at 19:03
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    @Carmensandiego - the only question to ponder is this - What do shastras say about revealing the secrets of Karma to a large/layman audience ? It might very well be the intention of Bhagavan that high secrets are only discussed with a scholarly audience, because layman do not have the mental prowess to discern a fact without emotion. I suggest we remove sensitive crimes from the topic, and make it a minor crime, like 'If karma is real, is stealing justified?'. Nuking/Closing such questions is a sign of lack of confidence or complete knowledge about scriptures. – mar Jan 21 at 0:29
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    Thanks @ram,.Yes, some secrets are better learnt by themselves. Knowing bits and pieces is always danger to society, for such fragile matters. – Mr_Green Jan 21 at 2:05
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    @ram And also even if you make the post in layman terms, the answer is same for even illegal activities. So, it is a win-win. – Mr_Green Jan 21 at 2:43
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    @ram - indeed the questions can be framed better. But the sense I am getting from those advocating closure of such questions is that Hinduism is on weak ground and thus we are better off nuking such questions altogether. And to back this stance we are asked to follow ethics > legal > Hinduism thereby implying that Hinduism is to adapt itself to modern sensibilities. While reality is that Hinduism was never at odds and we should be evaluating how far we have astrayed from dharmic path – Carmen sandiego Jan 21 at 4:42
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    @Carmensandiego - I agree with everything you said. The notion that society > religion is the one that actually ends up spoiling society, because the limited intellect tries to determine what is good for society instead of leaving it to Rishis – mar Jan 21 at 5:37
  • Why do you say they will incite bad behaviour - I believe they can incite good behaviour. If shastras say 'you can only hit your wife with grass, not hand' - that is a good thing. – mar Jan 21 at 9:02
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    @ram you can only hit your wife with grass, not hand - That's abuse and regardless of what, wife is not supposed to be hit. Period. – Mr. Alien Jan 21 at 10:36
  • @Mr.Alien - next you're going to say 'hitting children is abuse' ? spare the rod, spoil the child. – mar Jan 21 at 23:27

Two fold Solution to the Problem

In case of less time, ignore this paragraph: It can be observed that off late instead of questions about scriptures and spirituality, the balance has tilted to the side of questions with “different” content which necessitates this discussion. Some users may find certain content offensive while others may find it completely normal. For example some find doubting the credibility against white gurus offensive, some find cow slaughter offensive (like me), some are averse to the idea of homosexuality, some may endorse violence (to maintain dharma) whereas for others, such topics maybe completely alright to discuss. Further as the website is not restricted to a single country but is accessible worldwide, closing a question on the basis of legality will also be a subjective matter. For example some countries may allow polygamy whereas others may look down upon it. It maybe offensive to some it may not be offensive to some. For most (including me) rape is a heinous crime but for some like the OP seeking clarification for the victim deserving it in of the the questions above (not OP of meta post) it may or may not be. Some questions maybe destroying the very spiritual essence of Sanatana Dharma. Another example (in the current scenario a trivial issue yet in the future maybe out of proportion) is probably in future giving donations to Brahmins as per scriptures maybe considered illegal (I don’t endorse such a grossly incorrect view) or may offend some (we’d rather give to an old age home or say giving donation to Brahmins incites caste based discrimination. People can twist things in any manner, etc.). (Note Brahmins’ donation and the heinous crime of rape in my opinion are in no way comparable, please see the solution below before erupting)

The gist of the above paragraph is that based on mere legality (subjective per country) or the offensive (subjective per person) nature of questions, taking authoritative action may eventually lead to a clash of views and consequently unhealthy disputes.

Yet, despite the varied views, there seems to be a consensus in the community about the fact that certain posts are out of place. We must remember that the fundamentals of this Hinduism (and consequently this site), inter alia, are primarily based on Scriptures and spirituality. Hinduism is all about being a good and pure person and the religion itself does not in anyway endorse crimes (certain scriptures may contain controversial passages but ascertaining some of them as interpolations or not is a separate matter, we must focus on the spiritual aspect here). This religion, and so also a truly spiritual person, is about refraining from committing any unnecessary violence (अहिंसा परमो धर्मः), focusing on the betterment of all (वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम्) and engaging in obtaining the 4 fruits of dharma artha Kama and if possible, moksha.

Note- We cannot limit someone from asking questions to which answers are found in scriptures, whether they are not agreeable to some (eg. hitting of student by teacher). Therefore I have proposed a two fold solution below. For applying the solution, keep in mind the language and actual intent (not one we feel is plausible) of the question is to be given prime importance. A question which merely asks the view of Hinduism on something must be allowed (and the solution for the same is as per solution 2 in the two fold solution). A question which seeks justification for crimes is to be deleted with immediate effect. Also note justification clearly comes under opinion based/ personal advice.

Accordingly, while upholding the essence of Hinduism (and without disrespecting even the interpolated scriptural content) , the site rules, considering and duly respecting the fact that certain posts maybe offensive and yet without delving into the legality or offensive nature (owing to subjectivity) of the contents I propose a two-fold solution (part of which also has been proposed by others) for which the criteria has been outlined below and a step by step solution has also been illustrated :

I. Two fold solution:

1. Closing/ deleting/ downvoting questions

A. Closing the Question (this solution upholds site rules) - The criteria to close are already pretty exhaustive and a few of the “offensive” posts cited above do fit the criteria:

B. Deleting the Question- (This solution helps curb denigrating the essence of Hinduism by seeking justification for wrongful acts) For deleting the Question, the following criteria must be met:-
“questions and answers that aim to clearly justify any act good or wrongful (the victim deserved it and other forms of victim blaming), aim to seek approval for any wrongful acts (Can I do this?) must be deleted, whether or not being closed based on one of the already existing criteria.

For the purposes above, the definition of wrongful (as mentioned by the OP) is as follows: a) relating to emotional, physical (including sexual) violence of any sort, towards any creature, barring wars which have scriptural reference b) causing discrimination based on gender, colour, caste, age, nationality”

C. Downvoting the Question
(This helps respect and uphold each persons views in the community and doesn’t steal the right to hold their views)
If a question/answer doesn’t fit in any of the closing or deleting criteria, and the user still feels that it is offensive, the user is free to express his views by downvoting the post and at the same time commenting his reason for downvoting. out of courtesy. A healthy discussion between the poster and voter may ensue later. I don’t see any downvote except mine on the karma rape justification question.

2. Disclaimer Banner

(This solution ensures that while quoting from scriptures, though parts of which are interpolated, the content of some scriptures too are respected, yet certain acts are not endorsed by the community)
Similar to a citation banner I propose the introduction of a banner called the disclaimer banner which reads:
“Neither does the community nor the religion support/ endorse/ recommend any kind of mental, physical violence, discrimination based on gender, colour, caste, age, nationality and resorting to the same is not recommended”

This solution will entail having a healthy discussion on the topic and yet by this way the intention of a person reading any controversial answers may be less likely to be influenced to perform such acts and it also shows meaningful non-endorsement of the community of commonly unaccepted deeds.

When to use the Disclaimer banner?
As explained below in the step by step guide, this banner is to be used in the event of questions obtaining a general view of wrongful acts, that could not be deleted (whether or not they were closed but may have answers and those answers must still have the banner) because they didn’t meet the criteria (closing criteria or they don’t seek justification/ victim blaming and hence can’t be deleted) and hence yet have “offensive content” Wrongful acts as stated in the above paragraph again means:

“relating to emotional, physical (including sexual) violence of any sort, towards any creature, barring wars which have scriptural reference b) causing discrimination based on gender, colour, caste, age, nationality”

Examples of questions/ answers where this banner can be used:

Note: Where an answer does not quote from a scripture and is of such “wrongful” type then it must be flagged for deletion (not even citation or disclaimer banner) as it is of a very sensitive topic. Such a user must only comment. Eg. The answer provided to If karma is real then is rape justified?

II. Step by Step guide to deal with offensive questions and applying the aforementioned two fold solution

Step 1: check whether the “offensive” question only (not answer) meets any of the criteria to be closed and exercise close vote.
Step 2: check if the “offensive” question or answer justifies/ seeks approval for wrongful acts, if yes, flag for moderator invention with the words - ‘wrongful justification please delete’
Step 3: if step 2 fails i.e. offensive question doesn’t meet the deletion criteria, then it is subjectively offensive and hence the user is free to exercise their downvote
Step 4: If the Q/A does not get deleted, monitor any answers on the question. When a user answers a question fitting the criteria mentioned in solution 2, then he himself must flag the answer for the banner, or another user seeing the answer must flag it for banner wit the words - “disclaimer banner required”. Though the answer will answers from scriptures it would not support or encourage any wrongful acts.

Let’s apply the steps to the following questions:

a) If karma is real then is rape justified? - so we see if it can be closed as per Step 1: yes as opinion based
Deleted as per Step 2: yes
no need to go to step 3

b) Under which circumstances physical punishment to wife is allowed?, Does a wife who disobeys her husband be really torn to death by dogs? What is the context in which this verse is stated

Step 1: cannot be closed as it is not opinion based etc.
Step 2: cannot be deleted as it doesn’t seek justification
Step 3: if yet offensive please use your right downvote
Step 4: is it concerned with wrongful act? Yes. Therefore flag Q/A for disclaimer banner.

Hope this two fold solution is agreeable to the unified community/ the factions If any/ in at least a majority. anyone wishes, please propose changes to better the solution and the disclaimer banner can be discussed in detail on a separate meta post.

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    This would be most appropriate approach to handle abysmal posts. Thanks for the answer. – TheLittleNaruto Jan 21 at 12:10
  • Finally, a sensible person in the thread with whom can be discussed to. I quite agree with your approach but here's my concern. Asking about is doing/performing X thing fine, ofcourse the clarity can be given vs whoever is reading is two different thing. For eg: @ram just mentioned in one of the comments that hitting a girl with grass is fine and not hand, and according to me, I would rather not answer nor I will entertain such questions because though the question is requesting for what Hinduism says, we are not supposed to promote that behaviour in any way. – Mr. Alien Jan 21 at 12:34
  • Keeping the questions as is will increase the moderation efforts, will lead to unnecessary debates and heartburns. That's my take on the topic and hence I had raised a concern which I feel is valid. We are already facing a lot of rape related issues in India and by whatever means, we should not be discussing right or wrong regardless in what context the discussion is happening. – Mr. Alien Jan 21 at 12:35
  • @Mr. Alien, the nature of the community is such that people like unnecessary debate instead of finding a solution, that’s not gonna increase any moderation effort. But ya the disclaimer bar may increase moderation efforts. We can ask the CCMs to give the disclaimer banner privilege to users above 2000 reputation (users having access to moderation tools). Wonder if it’ll work? As for the grass comment, i still do find it offensive and hence the downvote but can’t close or delete because it does not seek justification. I observe that good spiritual questions are also not getting many votes. – Archit Jan 21 at 17:03
  • Alien, also if despite any user’s answer’s language is such that it appears that he does encourage it despite the disclaimer on top; downvote. else it becomes a subjective matter (I didn’t endorse; No, you did encourage) and again subject to fighting. Currently also there doesn’t seem to be any debate on the question itself (the karma and rape and all). It just shows ignorance on everyone’s part because only I downvoted that. So these questions aren’t causing much debate. If his language is bad, simply downvote and at least one person should leave a comment. & flag for mod intervention? – Archit Jan 21 at 17:10
  • "I don’t see any downvote except mine on the karma rape justification question." - FYI, there are 3 upvotes & 4 downvotes. If you click on the net vote count it will expand to show the up-down vote counts. – sv. Jan 21 at 18:32
  • 'But 3 upvotes is still appalling' - to be fair, the question begins with an apology ('Please don't get offended'). It's a philosophical question, so it's best not to attribute motives to OP and upvoters. Users like myself just want to have discussion about a subject even while not endorsing any of it. Only a person who thinks like a scholar understands this nuance. – sv. Jan 21 at 19:13
  • E.g., consider three judges arguing between themselves on the kind of punishment to be awarded to a rapist. One judge argues the sentence shouldn't be too severe, while the other two recommending the harshest punishment. Me as a student of law should be able to discuss the same topic without getting too emotional about the topic of 'rape'. The way I see it, lot of folks here have a very narrow way of looking at things. To them, any 'discussion about rape' is automatically 'endorsing rape' and 'it will incite people to commit rape'. – sv. Jan 21 at 19:14
  • @sv, hence my answer which allows for discussion yet having a disclaimer, similar to the one you mentioned by the OP, but by the community instead. It incorporates even your grievances expressed below. Having a normal discussion yet also not endorsing anything with a simple disclaimer. The answer considers both supposedly broad minded and narrow minded people’s views. – Archit Jan 21 at 19:16
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    I haven't read your answer fully, which I will later and comment on it. But look at the title of the post here, "Need to take down abysmal posts from the main site" - OP, instead of having an open discussion about the topic, is straightaway telling others what to do. He's already made up his mind and he & his friends are already voting to closing down posts he linked. This needs to be immediately stopped. – sv. Jan 21 at 19:21
  • Not a time to chill. Check this comment: hinduism.stackexchange.com/questions/27874/…. These guys are actually closing down questions when people are still discussing about it here. – sv. Jan 21 at 19:37
  • I agree with what you are proposing (i.e., adding a disclaimer banner) but some examples you took seem wrong IMO. E.g. I don't agree with closure/deletion of If karma is real then can the victim of a crime also be partially blamed? - it's a philosophical question about karma. OP didn't ask, "I want to go & rape a person now, but before I do it, please tell me if karma allows it..." Unless it's specifically worded that way we shouldn't close or flag the Qn as offensive. – sv. Jan 22 at 19:33
  • And if your disclaimer banner solution is accepted, it's going to need support from SE to implement. Even if SE does provide the support, there is going to be a lot of debate between users (similar to what's going on under this post) on how to qualify questions as academic vs. those seeking justification to commit illegal acts. A large # of users here just don't seem to understand this site is also a place for asking academic questions on controversial topics without endorsing any illegal acts. E.g., see this post on Judaism SE. – sv. Jan 22 at 19:47
  • @sv agree with what you’re saying (though the karma rape Q is clearly opinion based it should be at least closed as such). For eg. If a Q asks did XYZ deserve to be born as a dog cat rat etc? We are no one to decide (if scripture says so merely mention that else close the answer as opinion based, we are no one to decide whether he deserved it). 2. so let’s say we put such a disclaimer banner on even justification posts (if they’re not closed as opinion etc. Don’t delete?). – Archit Jan 23 at 2:27
  • @sv 3. If SE doesn’t agree then we type a standard disclaimer in a separate meta (where most agree) and edit any question related to the sensitive topic and put a disclaimer in italics (standard text no banner, in case SE doesn’t agree). If we get a banner, we can ask SE to give it for users above 2000 (with moderation tools). If they don’t agree, We can edit anyone’s post with the simple textual disclaimer in italics that way and there won’t be much moderation headache too? I’m deleting our previous chill don’t chill comments it’s causing unnecessary traffic, if you can do the same too :) – Archit Jan 23 at 2:31

I agree with Mr. Alien. As a community, we discussed this before but looks like it was ignored by some comunity members. I request community members not to encourage posts that are decided as off-topic already. If needed, please have a meta-discussion before moving forward.

Now, I will try to explain why I agree with Mr.Alien, in my perspective:

First of all, none of us here hold any ill intention - in asking, answering, or commenting on such posts. I understand, as a community, we are just trying to discuss and take info from the available Hindu documents & understandings as much as possible. I respect and appreciate that.

But, this is a request that as we are in beta, we can define the scope properly and better. So, our content will be richer with what exactly Hinduism stands for and how it can be used by young people who are visiting this site in the 100's every day. To make such richer content, we should bound with ethics. Whatever we are sharing, discussing here now will shape the future readers of this site. We don't know how the readers will take our content - as granted, will misunderstand, will find it offensive. Either way, as a community, it is our responsibility to avoid such misunderstandings as much as possible.

So, I suggest - Our content should bound with ethics and legality, in coordination with SE guidelines and CoC.

To explain this more, if a question is about something ethically wrong (or illegal), then the possible answers will be neutral or legally wrong, legally right. Now, we don't know which answer the future reader will grasp. If they grasp an illegal answer it could lead to unfortunate events in real life. We possibly should not be part of or indirectly responsible for such events. So, we should not encourage or endorse in any way. We should stay away from it. All I am requesting is to keep ethically wrong posts out of scope.

If an expert thinks they can beautifully handle this, think again, you won't be the single person to answer such posts. Better to step back and close it. Please be ethically reasonable and responsible.

If OP asks questions like:

  • "What is the punishment for hit and run?"
  • "Doing Japa standing in the middle of the highway where the planets align"

Don't answer. Just close it! and flag if it offends you

As a human, we follow humanity guidelines first, then nation guidelines and then religion guidelines. And as a community member, we should first follow ethics, then SE guidelines, and then discuss Hinduism in that scope. Going reverse will create a nuisance in the formed society/community.

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    Nicely summarised and even covered past relevant meta ignored by then mods. – Ankit Sharma Jan 20 at 10:43
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    "So, I suggest - Our content should bound with ethics and legality, in coordination with SE guidelines and CoC." - this is a slippery slope with very disastrous consequences for the site. Before you know, everyone will be offended by something or other or point out what's written in an answer is illegal and starts flagging them as offensive. Read this answer on Islam SE where they decided to allow scholarly discussions about homosexuality and Sharia irrespective of what the texts actually say. This is what a mature site with mature users does. – sv. Jan 20 at 18:22
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    @sv. anti-gay and rape are two different things, only if you guys have enough knowledge to understand that – Mr. Alien Jan 21 at 11:33
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    Your question is not just about Q&A related to 'rape', it covered several other sensitive questions/topics on the main site. Why are you so obsessed with 'rape'? If it was just about 'rape' why did you link so many other posts? Why are you talking about 'Racism' and 'Disrespecting other religions'? My comment above is with respect to all sensitive topics. Still not sure why you are so obsessed with 'rape'. @Mr.Alien – sv. Jan 21 at 17:47

I am beginning to realize why our sages insisted on sticking to oral traditions as compared to writing it down. If not mistaken there was prohibition on Vedas being written. Anyways.

It is disheartening to see old timers who are well versed with scriptures getting themselves entangled into what will be acceptable and what is not acceptable to site visitors , HSE community etc. Moreover the notion that answers straight from scriptures may incite bad behaviour is stretching it a bit too much.

Let's take the example of hitting women with grass being permissible with scriptures that is being discussed in comments.

Is it illegal today ? Yes.

Does it mean that our ancients were incorrect to follow it ? Ofcourse not. And not because times were different. They were not wrong because correcting wives in this manner was sanctioned in the dharmashastras.

Does it mean scriptures were promoting bad behaviour? Not at all. Husband , assuming that he has not lost right to hit because of his other transgressions, is carrying out his duty. And failure to do so means he will incur bad karma. Moreover wife will incur bad karma for not correcting her behaviour.

So should I hit wife with grass if I want to abide by scriptures? No. It is illegal act.

But I don't want to incur bad karma . What to do ? If state has enacted laws that are against dharmashastras then karma doctrine says that bad karma will be borne by state ( in a democracy this would be - those who have been voted to power and those who have voted such people to power).

Now what's the issue when we try to nuke such questions. The biggest problem is that genuine seekers of knowledge will end up gobbling information from not so reputed sites , and they usually are of two forms

  • Hinduism promotes violence towards women
  • Scriptures contain information that belonged to a different era, and require updation

Both are absolutely wrong. But I guess some in here feel they are doing Hinduism a great service by nuking such questions from this site.

  • Agree, except for the grass blade part. But we can’t prevent users from feeling offended. Read my long long essay, it contains part of what you’ve stated here. Those who find it offensive, Simply downvote by stating reason in comment. Only those asking fir justification - does the wife deserve it? Such must be closed as opinion based as per the long long essay. – Archit Jan 21 at 18:07
  • "But I guess some in here feel they are doing Hinduism a great service by nuking such questions from this site." - Absolutely yes. Many users are not being respectful enough as they should be. If you check other religious SE sites, even discussing delicate matters is done by keeping in mind all the possible emotions it could trigger. The way the question and answers are in detail is really respectful and appreciable. It looks like the people really love and respect their religious sites. Why can't we do the same? Unfortunately, This is an "ideal" or "impossible" case for HSE. – Mr_Green Jan 25 at 4:34
  • For everyones information, link1, link2 (closed this, they know where to draw proper line), link3, link4 – Mr_Green Jan 25 at 4:38

You say:

Questions should be neglected from the website which promotes Rape and related questions Disrespecting other religions Spreading fake preachings Child & Women abuse Racism

Asking a question about something is not the same thing as promoting it.

If I ask the question "Is killing a cow a major sin in Hinduism? would you accuse me of "promoting killing of cows"?

I understand that objectionable content has to be removed but show me the questions from your list that are actually "promoting rape" etc.

I don't think if any post was really promoting rape or something similar it would require a meta post to get it deleted. Users can flag and get it deleted within no time.

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    Here I agree that a user might post question as such with no bad intention. But we should consider the audience who all are going to read the post rather than the poster. I may not be able frame it any better than @Mr_Green's answer. But I hope you get the idea/reason – TheLittleNaruto Jan 20 at 11:49
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    TBH, I don't care much about the killing of cows. Many countries do that, even India (only a few states don't). This doesn't count as ethics. This counts as a personal emotional belief for some who feel offended discussing such things. They can downvote and move on. Or this can be discussed here as a new post if anyone has a problem with cow killing topic. Coming to "promoting rape", If we are discussing rape with laws mentioned in Hinduism which will definitely clash or say something different than what actual government laws state. We are deviating readers to not follow the actual laws. – Mr_Green Jan 20 at 13:44
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    @Mr_Green - there are government laws prohibiting cow slaughter. It's just as much 'illegal' as rape, although the punishments may differ. – mar Jan 21 at 0:21
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    @ram it was my personal opinion. Considering "rape" is globally illegal. The same doesn't apply to cow slaughtering. User sv will steer this to US law if we talk about cow slaughtering. He is nitpicking to make his point and leaving the bigger picture. – Mr_Green Jan 21 at 2:09
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    cow slaughter and rape are way too different things @ram ... it's more of a common sense rather than a religion thing – Mr. Alien Jan 21 at 7:56
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    @Rickross asking a question on what does hinudism have to say on rape is one thing, a user might answer that it's fine is another, am talking more around the latter thing. Moreover, regardless of what scriptures or religion says, the above literally makes no sense asking and relating it to a religion. It's a crime and has nothing to do with a religion. – Mr. Alien Jan 21 at 8:00
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    If you want to ask for Karma, ask a question like, if I do a bad thing, how does my karma get affected, or ask a question related to the scriptures like I had asked one earlier - hinduism.stackexchange.com/questions/2399/… – Mr. Alien Jan 21 at 8:00
  • @Mr.Alien - "It's a crime and has nothing to do with a religion." - umm.. what ? almost 50% of religion is about what is a crime and what is not - that is literally what 'Shastras' mean - Orders - that dictate what to do, and what not to. No shastra tells that rape is allowed. That means, if you rape, you will be punished. The same shastra also tells that if a person did get raped, it was because of their past karma. This is an extremely nuanced stance where the victim got punished for his past action and the criminal will get punished for his current action. – mar Jan 21 at 8:27
  • @Mr.Alien - "cow slaughter and rape are way too different things.." - one of the rare instances where shastras permit lying is to save a cow's life. It may not be important to you, but it is for a lot of Hindus. "it's more of a common sense rather than a religion thing" - where did this 'common sense' spring out of ? it came from religion only. Religion has tenets that cover EVERY SINGLE FACET of life - from the moment you wake up, to how you bathe, what to eat, what to wear, where to work, whom to marry, how to die etc. – mar Jan 21 at 8:30
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    To those who can't see anything but cow slaughter in my answer and trying to compare it with rape -- that was used just an example, if replaced by anything else, like human slaughter, my argument still remains the same. – Rickross Jan 21 at 18:03
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    " It's a crime and has nothing to do with a religion." --- not sure what's being talked about. Religious texts deal with various types of crimes and the respective punishments (or consequences) in great details. – Rickross Jan 21 at 18:05
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    If you consider this site to be one about Hinduism, which primarily revolves around what is being written in various Hindu scriptures, and still want to impose the proposed kind of censorship then let's pack our bags and shut this site down. – Rickross Jan 21 at 18:10

I am really glad to see that the community resolved this issue on its own. Well done! I would like to echo a bit what others said and add a few more comments.

I agree with Mr_Green’s answer. As a company we ask users two things:

  • Follow the Q&A format. Hinduism Stack Exchange is not a discussion club:

    You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face. Chatty, open-ended questions diminish the usefulness of our site and push other questions off the front page.

    Even philosophical questions should be applied and answerable. Questions asking for justification of an action or seeking for opinions do not seem being on-topic on a SE site.

  • Adhere to the Сode of Conduct. The CoC is the same for all network sites. We do care about our users’ feelings. There are a lot of tricky areas where things can get easily and fast go south. If one is not sure about the outcome of a question, we recommend avoiding posting it.

Archit proposed an interesting way to handle this situation. Stack Exchange can help the community with implementing the plan. We can enable a “controversial post” notice feature on Hinduism SE. The “controversial post” notice is a special box at the top of a question that alarms the reader. We can add almost any text to the box. Only moderators can add this box to a question. Here is an example on IPS

If Hinduism SE wants to have this feature on, you need to get a community consensus on having this feature and the text in the box. I think the first good step would be holding a meta discussion about it.

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    "I am really glad to see that the community resolved this issue on its own." - I see multiple conflicting answers here so what do you think was the resolution? – sv. Mar 11 at 2:29
  • Hi, @NicolasChabanovsky Looks like the community needs the banner as per this meta post. please check. Thanks. – Mr_Green Mar 19 at 15:59
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    @Mr_Green Hi! If you feel that it is time to add the post notice, would the mods mind to add status-review to the question so it goes to our system. Thank you! – Nicolas Chabanovsky Mar 19 at 16:29

... which I feel are ridiculous to be even posted in public.

Ridiculousness of something is subjective. When we ain't done with objective truths, bringing a subjective reason in a discussion won't serve any purpose.

Rather than answering such questions, these needs to be closed/deleted, reported and the user needs to be warned for the same.

Why? Where is the reason? Is ridiculousness the reason (against which a point has already been made prior to this quote)? or the reason includes in the main question itself as follows-

Now am not saying that the above might incite or encourage people from doing so but in general, these questions are controversial, and moreover, incite bad behavior in people and hence, they are better ignored.

Okay, so reasons you have cited are (followed by rhetoric references of questions) -

  1. These questions are controversial.
  2. Incite bad behavior in people.

Let me deal the reasons individually,

  1. These questions are controversial.

How controversial? What's controversial is again subjective. When we ain't concluded with objective truths, then bringing subjective reason in a discussion won't serve any purpose. Moreover, even if they turn out to be controversial by a hypothetical universally agreed upon definition of controversy, I am not sure if controversial questions are to be banned here?

  1. Incite bad behavior in people.

Inciting bad behavior is more or less same as your following statement or at most its implication.

Now am not saying that the above might incite or encourage people from doing so...

So, you are contradicting your own statement leaving you with giving us only a single reason of banning these questions on the ground of them being controversial. Basically, you are calling for censorship of questions because either you couldn't argue with your friends about their criteria of ridiculousness or because you find them controversial (which is subjective). The conditioning of your friends followed by your mishandling with them philosophically ought not to become a reason to censor any philosophical questions, however abhorrent they may be, here.

At most we can ask them to water down their wordings or tones, but upright banning would be actually mishandling from our part. As long as you don't face the question the question will continue to lurk without any answer. Either downvote or an appropriate answer should be enough to handle these questions.

If Hinduism has truth, then it must have answers of all the questions, however they might sound abhorrent apparently.

Mere Yoga or ways to Moksha isn't Hinduism. Hinduism surrounds around Dharma, Artha, Kaama & Moksha. Dharma is given no less (if no more) importance than Moksha as Vishnu incarnates for sake of Dharma only, not Moksha as goes by the dictum yada yada hi dharmasya... instead of yada yada hi mokshasya. So, when Dharma is equally important than Moksha then any question basically dealing with Dharma ought not be reproached to the level of upright ban. Dharma comprises of constitution of state, morality & duties of individuals with their do's & don'ts, etc. Questions surrounding them oughtn't be banned however obsolete or abhorrent they may be.

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    "At most we can ask them to water down their wordings or tones" Yes, I think this site's lacks in proper way to ask and answer. An improper question can be modified by non scholars as well (to some extent) but answers solely depend upon experts' update. Doing this actively could be possible solution and having a disclaimer banner as Archit pointed out. – Mr_Green Jan 25 at 7:41

Now am not saying that the above might incite or encourage people from doing so but in general, these questions are controversial, and moreover, incite bad behaviour in people and hence, they are better ignored.

This is a self-contradictory statement. So which one do you think it is? If you don't think these posts encourage people to commit those acts, then why can't you just ignore these posts and move on? Do you want to censor these posts simply because you don't like them?

If you think otherwise, can you show me proof of a scholarly discussion/debate on a sensitive topic that has incited people to commit illegal acts?

A similar thing came up on Islam Meta SE on the topic of homosexuality and this is what they decided:

Should we be preventing anti-gay material?

An outright ban would be opening a box of worms because of this point you mentioned: "Islam itself contains anti-gay content." Islam contains so much that will be reprehensible to most Non-Muslims (and even many people who think they are Muslims), you'd have to censor out a lot of orthodox doctrine. Take half the criminal law parts of sharia, and you'd have to censor them based on what "be nice" lists.

My take on it is this: it has to be possible to describe Islamic doctrine exactly as it is as well as the scholarly arguments that underpin it. Endorsing the offensive parts (or apologist talk about them) however should not be tolerated.

I suggest we adopt the same policy here. Since this is a site about Hinduism, scholarly discussions about even sensitive topics should be allowed. If OP is looking for answers that justify certain actions, which are illegal in most countries, then the question can be rephrased to remove such bias or be closed/deleted if cannot be salvaged. E.g., questions like Vedas and Vedic dharma on homosexuality should be allowed but racist questions like Can we trust white gurus? Do they have any credibility? and comments like "no hate for Homosexuals but for Homosexuality" that endorse homophobia should be flagged and deleted.

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    "no hate for Homosexuals but for Homosexuality" - you're slipping on your own slope. If something is defined as sin, by definition, it is to be hated/shunned/avoided. Replace Homosexuality with Rape - and you would be accusing folks of Rape-o-phobia. Replace White-gurus with new-age-Nithyananda-gurus, and you would be praising folks for rationality instead of deriding them for racism. – mar Jan 21 at 0:23
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    "If something is defined as sin, by definition, it is to be hated/shunned/avoided." - you can do all that in the privacy of your home, but this is an SE site. The CoC comes into play with whatever you say on the very publicly visible areas of this site especially posts & comments. Saying, "Scripture XYZ severely condemns homosexuality" is a scholarly opinion and should be allowed but taking that line and actually using it against the gay community on this and any other SE site can get you in trouble. @ram – sv. Jan 21 at 0:51
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    Mods: Why are all comments getting deleted from meta posts? Did they break CoC or what? – sv. Jan 22 at 19:53

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