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How can you use Q&A to:

  • effectively and efficiently create good Karma, and
  • also use it as an aid to reach the final Buddhist goal

Also what Suttas and literature, cover these topics?

  • Just avoid getting attached to points and reputation! Lol. That was just a joke :) I think by providing good answers you are helping others therefore creating good Kamma! "The gift of Dhamma excels all other gifts" – konrad01 Sep 16 '14 at 11:38
  • too broad, too opinion based IMO. – Andrei Volkov Sep 16 '14 at 11:54
  • Not really broad as I don't expect too many places where the Buddha discussed something along these lines. At most a few Suttas at the most. – Suminda Sirinath S. Dharmasena Sep 16 '14 at 12:00
  • Oh so you mean Buddhist perspective on questions and answers in general, not just StackExchange Q&A. – Andrei Volkov Sep 16 '14 at 13:55
  • Yes. With the Karmic and liberation implementations of Q&A. – Suminda Sirinath S. Dharmasena Sep 16 '14 at 16:04
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How can you use Q&A to gain good Karma and also aid to realize liberation?

By reflecting on a few principles when asking & answering:

Asking & Answering

Notice in what category does the question lie in:

"There are these four ways of answering questions. Which four? There are questions that should be answered categorically [straightforwardly yes, no, this, that]. There are questions that should be answered with an analytical (qualified) answer [defining or redefining the terms]. There are questions that should be answered with a counter-question. There are questions that should be put aside. These are the four ways of answering questions."
-AN 4.42, Questions

And if the answers given are appropriate to that kind of question:

"Monks, it's through his way of participating in a discussion that a person can be known as fit to talk with or unfit to talk with. If a person, when asked a question, doesn't give a categorical answer to a question deserving a categorical answer, doesn't give an analytical (qualified) answer to a question deserving an analytical answer, doesn't give a counter-question to a question deserving a counter-question, doesn't put aside a question deserving to be put aside, then — that being the case — he is a person unfit to talk with. But if a person, when asked a question, gives a categorical answer to a question deserving a categorical answer, gives an analytical answer to a question deserving an analytical answer, gives a counter-question to a question deserving a counter-question, and puts aside a question deserving to be put aside, then — that being the case — he is a person fit to talk with.
-AN 3.67, Topics for Discussion (I recommend reading the entire discourse since it has additional valuable advice. You might also want to read Bhikkhu Bodhi's translation)

Notice that not all questions deserve an answer since they are off-topic or have implicit assumptions which makes them so. Here's an article regarding this kind of questions which I think is worth reading.

Asking

When asking, be aware of the motive behind your question:

Ven. Sariputta said: "All those who ask questions of another do so from any one of five motivations. Which five?

"One asks a question of another through stupidity & bewilderment. One asks a question of another through evil desires & overwhelmed with greed. One asks a question of another through contempt. One asks a question of another when desiring knowledge. Or one asks a question with this thought, 'If, when asked, he answers correctly, well & good. If not, then I will answer correctly [for him].'

"All those who ask questions of another do so from any one of these five motivations. And as for me, when I ask a question of another, it's with this thought: 'If, when asked, he answers correctly, well & good. If not, then I will answer correctly [for him].'
-AN 5.165, On Asking Questions


For a broader and more in-depth understanding of this topic, I recommend reading the related discourses which are mentioned at the end of the discourses linked above and a brilliant book written by Thanissaro Bhikkhu named Skill in Questions: How the Buddha Taught. It has many examples of Q&A's that fit the above categories.

  • Well said indeed. Good answer. – Suminda Sirinath S. Dharmasena Sep 16 '14 at 15:09
  • One thing you can add is the Karmic and liberation angle for completeness. This was what I was looking for. Nevertheless a very good answer. – Suminda Sirinath S. Dharmasena Sep 16 '14 at 15:32
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    Keep this accepted for the time. But would be great to have the karma and liberation angle. – Suminda Sirinath S. Dharmasena Sep 16 '14 at 15:50
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    I think there is no such explicit relationship in the discourses. However, one can understand that by knowing the motivations & the categories of questions, one will be communicating more effectively or, in other words, "making good karma". One can avoid a lot of confusion and misunderstanding by being clear on the motivation, what kind of topics are worth discussing and with whom. These kind of distinctions really help one avoid unskillful speech. The above discourse, AN 3.67, is very rich in these kind of distinctions. One can definitely see the karma aspect of it there. – Unrul3r Sep 16 '14 at 16:06
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    I've read it a long time ago. It's an older book (2002) with many essays. He mentions some of those essays in the book I mentioned above. It seems that Skill in Questions is a more mature and organized book. I think the content may overlap, but I'm not sure. If you want to read that booklet and add an answer with what you find in it, feel free. – Unrul3r Sep 16 '14 at 16:47

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