Many websites exist for online disagreements. However, they are almost exclusively open forum based, without any method of quality control. They are often reduced to distorted echo chambers perfect for ideologues, and suboptimal for anyone hoping to learn or otherwise grow as a person.
DebateArt.com offers the unique value proposition of a safe environment for competitive one-vs-one text debates, wherein participants own up to the intellectual quality they are capable of presenting. The results of this are then judged by the community to determine a winner, using standards which mitigate partiality (see: Voting Policy).
We use text debates, a communication format in which two participants defend their opposing positions on the chosen topic, using the written word.
Each debate has three important informational elements pre-agreed before the start:
Title, which unless specified otherwise serves as the resolution.
Details, which lists the various mechanical constraints such as the character limit and number of rounds.
Description, which allows inclusion of any pertinent details to include definitions, expanded resolution, special rules, and scope limitations.
Each debate has three areas separated by tabs:
Arguments, which is the field of play.
Comments, which is essentially the stands. Debaters should minimize contact with it during the competition; while they may ask for clarifications on a vote or correct a typo in their case, they must never try to win here.
Votes, which is where judgements are cast based on what transpired within the arguments.
Each debate has 5 stages: Creation, Challenge, Argumentation, Voting, and Post Voting.
Debates may be instigated by any user in good standing.
The topic may be on almost anything, but ideally should be non-obtuse. If the topic is not the resolution to be argued, clarification should be made in the full description.
The instigator may elect to be pro or con related to affirming or negating the resolution.
By default debates are open challenges for anyone to accept, but may be issued as a direct challenge toward a specific contender. Direct challenges remain hidden with locked comment sections until accepted, so should only be issued after gaining consensus as to the terms of the debate. If the challenge is declined, the debate will cease and automatically delete itself.
By default debates use the open voting system, in which anyone may vote. If opting for a judicial decision, specific judges are invited. Similar to a direct challenge, if any decline judging, the debate will cease and automatically delete itself.
Debates created as open challenges are publicly visible, may be commented upon, and certain perimeters may be edited by the instigator.
During this phase, the instigator may delete the debate for any reason. If no one volunteers to be the contender, the debate will automatically delete itself after several days.
Once any user in good standing accepts the challenge, most of the debate settings lock, and it advances into the next stage.
In this stage participants take turns publishing their arguments, to which they each have up to five opportunities as determined by the pre-selected number of rounds at the time of creation.
Debaters can make as many contentions as the character limit allows (to include citing evidence to raise them from assertion to warranted argument), but should aim to be respectful to both the other debater and any potential voters.
If no argument is published within the time limit (12-hours to 2-weeks), the debater will automatically forfeit the round, and presumably be penalized by voters.
Regarding sources, no particular citation format is required, but it is highly recommended for ease of voting, that all citations be listed within the body of text at the bottom of each relevant argumentation round. However, if pre-agreed by both debaters, it is acceptable to document sourcing references in the comment section. If not pre-agreed, voters may dismiss the sources in question and/or assign a conduct penalty for character limit violations.
When all arguments have been published, the debate goes into the next stage.
During this period, the community or the appointed judges select the debate’s winner. The criteria is discussed at length in the Voting Policy.
The winner need not be right, judges can and should vote against their own beliefs.
Votes may of course be challenged, but should be done respectfully.
After the winner has been selected, the debate goes into the next stage.
The debate is considered finished, at which point everyone involved is encouraged to discuss it in the comment section.
The instigator may edit most things until the challenge is accepted, save for the following: Voting system, Required rating, and Contender. They may also opt to delete the debate for any reason at this stage.
Otherwise with mutual permission from the instigator and contender, a moderator can edit the following until voting concludes: Title, Category, Rating Mode, Short Description, Full Description. Likewise, moderators can delete debates by mutual consent of the contestants, or occasionally for extenuating circumstances (usually involving blatant Code of Conduct violations).
No one can edit the content inside any rounds once they are posted.
Authors may edit or delete their comments for up to 30 minutes after posting. In order to edit or delete the comment, on the right side of it click on the pen or trash can icons respectively.
Moderators can edit or delete any comments at any time, but will respectfully only do so by request or to address grievous Code of Conduct violations.
Links to specific comments are available, embedded in the comment number on the right side.
Unfortunately votes may not be directly edited, they must instead be deleted and re-cast with any changes. Alternatively, extensions or corrections may be posted in the comment section.
The author of a vote can delete it for the first 30 minutes after publishing. Afterward, they must request a moderator delete it for them.
Votes which fall short of the voting standard, are also eligible for deletion if reported.
In Judicial Decision debates, there is a known error that if there is only one judge, their vote may not be deleted.
Q: What does it mean to be a user “in good standing”?
A: As per the Code of Conduct, a user may lose the privilege to create debates and/or accept challenges (referenced as “participation” in the notifications) if abused. Debates in wanton violation of that, are eligible for summary deletion.
Q: May I play devil’s advocate for a position I’m against?
A: Yes. Sometimes doing this is encouraged, as it’s a great way to come to understand the merit of differing viewpoints.
Q: Are special rules binding?
A: That is up to voter discretion. Usually breaking them merits a conduct penalty, but a voter may consider them to be in bad faith, so dismiss out of hand.
Q: May a vote ever consider things from outside the arguments?
A: Generally no, but if a voter properly justifies it there are exceptions; such as if a spectator identifies plagiarism.
Q: Can more rounds be added to a debate?
A: Before the debate reaches the argumentation phase, yes. Afterward, no.
Q: Can I withhold my arguments until the final round, to prevent the other side from having a chance to respond?
A: Technically you can, but this well known cheat is called a “final round blitzkrieg,” which is universally despised by voters; who will most likely dismiss it with prejudice.
Q: May I concede a debate?
A: Yes. Ideally you should still refrain from forfeiting, as it’s very rude.