A community guide written by: Barney
Note: Gitbook does not support underlining. To view this guide with full formatting, go to: tiny.cc/DebateArt
Write your arguments in Google Docs, or another text editor with spell check . Whatever style you use, aim for personal consistency within any single debate.
The most important part of text debating is the ability for readers to easily follow your arguments. If you adhere to these suggestions, you’ll be well on your way to victory.
- Titles: Bold and Underlined
- Numbering them can also help, particularly if each is an independent line of reasoning. These numbers can be continuous on both sides.
- To help delineate, use two blank spaces before starting another one.
- Subtitles: Underlined, Just Underlined
- These will often include quotes from your opponent, when addressing various parts of their case under any main topic heading.
- Use only one blank space between these.
- Normal: Nothing fancy, but give a full empty space after each paragraph.
- Quotes: “Always use double quotation marks!”
- Opponent quotes as headings, should be handled as “Titles” or “Subtitles.”
- In line quotes must be credited to their author, and should be bold or italic.
- If changing any words, put brackets [around] whatever’s altered.
- Normal punctuation can be added and capitalization corrected without notation, but question and exclamation marks must be outside the quotation.
- Block Text: | Indented
- This is handled with a quotation symbol on the toolbar, or ctrl+bracket.
- Quotes which go for more than two or three lines should utilize these, with an introduction in normal text immediately above it.
- These are a poor choice for short opponent quotes lines to be responded to, because they obfuscate the intentional reply with too much space between.
- Sources: According to Nasa.gov, the earth indeed orbits the sun.
- Either create links where relevant, or do numbered callouts to a source list posted at the end of each round (such as the footnote list in this document).
- MLA and other academic citation standards are neither required nor encouraged.
- Do not source spam! Think quality over quantity. If you have three sources saying the same thing, just repeat the most credible.
Ensure your definitions are outlined. If disagreeing with any established one(s), make a brief case for the superior authority of your alternative(s).
A quality opening round will look something like this:
Preamble: I shall prove my case on two fronts, which shall be given their own sections below
Burden of Proof The resolution means X, so I should win if I prove Y. Conversely, my opponent should win if he or she proves Z .
Merriam-Webster defines the following:
1. Blah (first major contention): Various lines to support blah, spread across multiple paragraphs with their own subheadings.
Subpoint There should be at least a couple of these. 2. Blarg: Various lines to support blarg...
Maintain the consistent main titles so that voters can easily follow argument lines.
Extend any important dropped arguments, particularly any sub-points which may have lacked their own headings but you feel should receive extra consideration from judges.
Burning Humans Is Wrong: I offer this simple Modus Ponens (“mode of affirming”) refutation of pro’s case:
- P1: If she weighs the same as a duck, then she’s a witch.
- P2: She weighs the same as a duck.
- C1: Therefore, she’s a witch!
- P1: If she’s human, then she must weigh more than a duck.
- P2: She does not weigh more than a duck.
- C1: Therefore, she’s not human!
- P1: If she’s a witch, then we burn her!
- P2: We burnt her!
- C1: Therefore, she must have been a witch!
Often you’ll see whole paragraphs of opponent text which boil down to affirming the consequent.
You can restructure the core of their case into logical forms, but just be ready for them to cry strawperson (they’ll probably do that regardless).
Don’t make new argument lines (Final Round Blitzkriegs are frowned upon by voters). Summarize your key points, and why a voter should favor your arguments.
A quality closing round will look something like this:
1. Blah My opponent dropped this point, so extend. 2. Blarg My opponent dropped this point, so extend. Conclusion: I have proven Y, which affirms X. My opponent could not prove Z with any consistency.
Arguments My key points were A, B, and C. To which my opponent dropped all but C, leaving A and B uncontested.
My opponent’s key points were J and K. To which I solidly refuted the truth of J, and showed that K was off topic.
Sources My sources were more reputable being from .gov and .edu sites, whereas my opponent used video blogs from the ancient aliens guy. It’s true they used many more sources, but the Voting Policy spells out why such fluffery is meaningless: “appeals to quantity are not sufficient to justify awarding sources points.”
A particularly strong source of mine was… (if voters give source points, they must specify at least one and its impact on the debate, so help them out by reminding them of your favorite).
Unless clearly indicated otherwise, you are taking credit for writing anything you post.
There are only three strict rules on avoiding accidental plagiarism:
- 1.If you copy/paste anything, put “quotation marks” around it, and provide a link.
- 2.If paraphrasing (putting what they said into your own words), still provide a link.
- 3.If no link is available, still give credit. Example: “Descartes put it best with his we think therefore we are” .
Author consent does not dismiss plagiarism. Accidentally plagiarizing does not dismiss plagiarism. Not having many words copied does not dismiss plagiarism. Even common knowledge does not dismiss plagiarism. Just follow the above rules.
As a debater, if you spot it, give the audience proof of the crime; then continue your case.
As a voter, automatically give conduct to the side which did not commit plagiarism (and state “plagiarism” in your RFD), then assign a penalty to arguments based on the degree of cheating. A minor slip up (like borrowing a line of rhetoric to emphasize a point) is wholly forgivable, building a case reliant upon plagiarized material (such as instead of making your own argument, merely copy/pasting one from Stephen Hawking) is not.
In each debate there are three sides, each with their own Burden of Proof (BoP).
- Pro has a duty to provide adequate evidence to prove (or strongly imply) the resolution.
- Con has a duty to attempt to disprove (or cast strong doubt upon) the resolution, be that by providing direct evidence against it, or refuting all the evidence provided by pro.
- Voters have duties both to show they read the debate, and they are not merely voting in favor of pre-existing bias .
Additionally, the instigator has the pre-BoP duty to craft a coherent resolution.
The topic is usually synonymous with resolution (if not, clarify in the detailed description).
Be precise to the debate you wish to have, and ideally make it a single clause statement. If a resolution contains multiple clauses, pro has not met BoP until each is supported.
If the clauses would support each other, pick one for the resolution, and use the other(s) as supporting contentions.
The difficulty in proving the resolution ties both to the topic, and any qualifier statements included within the resolution. Absolutes (words like "always" and "never") are most hard to prove, complete uncertainties (words like "maybe" and "possible") are least hard to prove.
Something ought to change…
A quality opening round must address the Why and How.
- If the Why is missing, they are easily countered by the lack of benefit.
- If the How is missing, they are easily countered with impracticality and limited resources.
Sample: Preamble: A quick warrant free introduction (if not already handled in the description).
1. Justification (AKA Value Proposition): Why a change should occur. Sub-points may or may not be necessary, but if using them...
Blah First justification subpoint.
Blarg Second justification subpoint.
II. Practicality: How the desired change can occur.
Blah First practicality subpoint.
Blarg Second practicality subpoint.
Something is true…
A quality opening should address Qualitative standards and Falsifiability.
- If it cannot be described, it cannot be proven.
- If non-falsifiable, it is meaningless.
Pro can do something better than Con… Examples: Rap battles, better memes, cooler movie clips, etc.
A quality opening should address expected judgment standards (or the lack thereof). These are one category of non-moderated debates, and as such, Winner Selection is suggested as the scoring system.
Non-traditional debates designed to amuse and delight more than convince… Examples: Australia does not exist, Trayvon Martin would have still died if white, etc.
Again, Winner Selection is suggested as the scoring system, as these are not eligible for moderation.
Rich text formatting is not allowed in votes, but please do the moderators a favor by labeling separate parts of your vote, and putting space between paragraphs.
One layout a vote might use…
Gist: [A one sentence description of what happened in the debate, such as “pro was in over his head, whereas con knew the topic so well he ended up teaching it to pro.”]
1. [First key point… usually it will be a bolded title within the debate] [Commentary on point]
2. [Second key point] [commentary on point]
3. [Third key point] [commentary on point] --- Arguments: [pro or con] See above review of key points. [Quick commentary on the weighting and result (always required)]
Sources: [leave tied unless substantial lead] [How sources affected each side of the debate, name at least one specific source and why you liked it (required if awarded).]
Legibility (AKA, Spelling and Grammar): [leave tied unless someone was illegible] [Specify some errors which were bad enough to distract you from the debate (copy/paste is your friend), say why they were excessive (little typos are not excessive), and finally how the other person did (this is all required if awarding the point, the idea is to make sure you’re being fair).]
Conduct: [penalize forfeitures, cheating, massive rudeness] [Specify some horrible things which stood out as you read the debate (if you really need to dig, it probably wasn’t quite that bad), say why they were excessive, and finally mention how the other person did (again, required if awarded).]
There’s been a missing spaces problem identified with MS Word. If using it, copy/paste into another application, and then copy/paste from that into the debate.
This is suggested serves the double purpose of foreshadowing the rationale behind your arguments, and to reduce ambiguity as early as possible.
If instigating, please put definitions into the description; that way both debaters have pre-agreed to them.
Each part could be individually proven, but half the advantage is the connections are so intuitive that this is not always necessary.
René Descartes' Cogito ergo sum technically translates to “I think therefore I am.” The title of the book he wrote it in would be nice, but not necessary, as credit is clearly given.
They further are supposed to vote using a Trinity Paradigm, but there are whole other guides for that.