Voting Policy

How to vote

Basics

  • Strive to be fair.

  • Understand that moderators are unpaid volunteers, as are voters.

Eligibility

By casting any vote, you agree to be bound by this Voting Policy. If not reading all of it, ensure you at least understand the Core Values and Casting Votes sections.

Shortly after completing the following two steps, voting privileges should automatically be enabled:

  1. Complete at least two rated debates which are eligible for moderation, each containing no more than a single forfeiture, using the open voting system (as opposed to judicial selection). OR Make 100 non-spam forum posts.

  2. Be registered at least three days.

Votes cast by ineligible accounts will generally be deleted.

Repeated poor voting without improvement, or any malevolent voting, may result in the suspension of voting eligibility until improvement is demonstrated.

Core Values

While there are many valid voting paradigms, votes determined to be in violation of the following values will be deleted.

Sufficiency

A sufficient vote is one which explains why the voter regarded one debater as excelling beyond the other within any metric they award. It is not sufficient to merely state that “X had more/better arguments,” because nothing in that statement suggests why; it is merely a restatement of the chosen award.

A sufficient vote must explain all points awarded. Such as, if you award argument and conduct points, but explain only the former, your vote will be removed for being insufficient.

A sufficient vote must not merely reiterate who you agreed with, rather you should be able to vote against your preferred side should their case be inferior. Related to this, votes based on outside content are deemed insufficient; said content may still be commented upon if made clear it is not a determinant.

Readership Responsibility

Any vote must always indicate two things about the voter:

  1. That they personally read at least the main points, and

  2. That they are the voting based on the content inside the debate proper.

To be clear: pre-existing bias for or against either side, must never be a decisive factor in any point allotment.

Opening Voting vs. Judicial Decision

Each debate here uses one of two voter assignment systems: Open Voting (the default), or Judicial Decision. Under Open Voting any member eligible to vote, may do so freely within the voting period (from a minimum of one week, to a maximum of six months). Judicial Decision debates have pre-selected judges, and the voting period closes immediately upon their votes being cast.

Reported votes will be reviewed by the moderation team for either, but with the uncertain time window of Judicial Decision debates, as well as the pre-selection of specific voters (presumably with their habits known), their votes are naturally held to a slightly lower standard.

Casting Votes

The act of casting votes on DebateArt.com is not treated like common popular voting, but instead reasoned judgments. The offered reason for the decision must be publicly accessible.

Each debate uses one of two point assignment systems: Categorical (the default), or Winner Selection. The core metric under either is the comparative strength of arguments, which must always be reviewed even if left a tie (in which case less detail is required, but some reason for said tie based on the debate content must still be comprehensible within the vote). Winner Selection requires no level of detail beyond arguments, as no other metrics are scored directly (they may still bolster or weaken arguments); whereas Categorical (AKA “four points”) debates use four metrics for comparative performance insights while awarding up to seven points.

To award any category, a voter must explicitly perform the following three steps:

  1. Provide specific references to each side’s utilization within the said category.

  2. Weigh the impacts against each other, including if any precluded others.

  3. Explain the decision within the greater context of the debate.

As an example: “Pro used rock, con used paper. While pro showed that rocks last longer than paper, which outweighs con’s appeal to novelty that paper is newer than rocks; within the game of Rock/Paper/Scissors that this debate was about, the paper clearly wins against the rock.” While more is usually better, a dissertation is never required.

Arguments

Mandatory! Three points.

Goes to the side that, within the context of the debate rounds, successfully affirms (vote pro) or negates (vote con) the resolution. Ties are possible, particularly with pre-agreed competing claims, but in most cases failing to affirm the resolution means pro loses by default.

Weighing entails analyzing the relative strength of one argument or set of arguments and their impacts against another argument or set of arguments. Weighing requires analyzing and situating arguments and counterarguments within the context of the debate as a whole.

All other point categories connect to arguments, ideally enhancing them, but may be weighted separately; particularly if the awardee for arguments nevertheless fell short in another area so as to mitigate their margin of victory.

Sources

Optional. Two points.

Goes to the side that (with a strong quality lead) better supported their case with relevant outside evidence and/or analysis thereof. If both sides have done their research due diligence, these points are usually tied.

A side with unreliable sources may be penalized, but the voter must specify why the sources were unreliable enough to diminish their own case (such as if the other side called attention to the flaws, thereby engaging with sources in a more effective manner with impacts to arguments; thereby flipping the source and harming the opposing argument).

Things not to award sources for (barring for exceptional cases):

  • Common knowledge… E.g., that Wikipedia says JFK was the president of a country, which is unlikely to enhance any impacts (unless the other side is denying that).

  • The subject of the debate… E.g., in a biblical debate, preferring one side’s analysis of the bible itself already speaks directly to the argument points, not exceptional sourcing.

  • A lead of only a couple sources, even if only one side had any. While quantity isn’t the standard, there is a minimal threshold for consideration.

  • Source spam without relevant analysis by the presenter. Sources are awarded for quality, not mere quantity.

  • The voter’s own research on the topic.

While a voter may choose to, there is no requirement to study any source beyond the precise part(s) quoted or paraphrased by either debater (and even then, within reason). Further, overly studying a source beyond what was presented, risks basing a vote upon the outside content of your own analysis instead of that offered by the debaters. If neither debater even alluded to details from a source a voter mentions, the vote has probably crossed this line. The one exception where it is acceptable to do this would be a situation in which the voter notices one side blatantly lying about what is present in their source (even if that criticism wasn’t brought up by the opponent). Note that this does not include implied warrants (For example, Debater A gives a statistic of rising temperatures and says “this source supports my argument that people will be eating more ice cream in the years to come”... The warrant here is implied, not explicitly stated. The voter should not use this as an excuse to say Debater A lied about the contents of the source).

Invalid if: No comparison of the two side’s source utilization is offered. No assessment of the impact on arguments from at least one source directly mentioned.

Legibility (formerly Spelling and Grammar)

Optional. One point.

Awarded as a penalty for excessive abuse committed by the other side, wherein sections of the debate become illegible or at least comparatively burdensome to decipher.

Examples:

  • Unbroken walls of text, or similar formatting attempts to make an argument hard to follow.

  • Terrible punctuation throughout.

  • Overwhelming word confusion, or regularly distracting misspellings.

  • Jarring font and/or formatting changes.

Good formatting to include simple to follow section headings are ideal, but if the other side was easily legible, the point may not be awarded. The goal isn’t to nitpick, the problem(s) should usually be obvious at a glance.

Invalid if: Awarded for minor errors, such as “during R3 pro wrote ‘of’ instead of ‘off,’” or even there/their/they’re type confusion.

Conduct

Optional. One point.

Awarded as a penalty for excessive abuse committed by the other side, such as extreme unsportsmanlike or outright toxic behavior which distracted from the topical debate. Common examples are repeatedly using personal attacks instead of arguments, committing plagiarism or otherwise cheating.

The disrespect of even a single forfeiture necessitates this penalty unless there is reason to withhold it. Repeated forfeitures are grounds for casting conduct only votes without any consideration to arguments (continued in Forfeitures).

Invalid if: Both sides had similar types and/or magnitude of misbehavior, or it is too minor for a reasonable person to be significantly distracted from the topic. Further, a conduct penalty is not warranted for mere dislike of the topical contentions or weak argumentation.

Further notes

  • Points neither awarded nor commented upon, are considered wholly ungraded. Generally, this is fine, as is remarking on something but leaving it within the tied range even if leaning a certain way. However, exploitive withholding of any category overwhelmingly against your majority point awardee, is evidence of profuse bias, and is therefore subject to vote deletion (e.g., someone forfeits half the debate and receives a favorable argument vote unmitigated by conduct).

  • With the exception of arguments, certain things are naturally implied by their absence of remarks... Such as: If only one side forfeited, the other side showing up warrants no comment as it is implied. If one side made an argument illegible, so long as the other side did ok, pointing out issues of just one side implies the other did not make the same mistakes.

  • It is necessary to explain all awarded points, but a mitigating point against your primary point recipient need not be as detailed for the vote to remain if not good, at least borderline.

  • A debate may have special rules specified within the description. These are not strictly enforced by moderation, but a voter may choose to abide. If a voter is choosing to and there was a challenge to said rules within the debate, some analysis of that challenge is highly suggested.

  • With regards to the subjective nature of voting, often arguments are exceedingly close. A good voter might change who they would determine the winner of that metric week to week if they reevaluated the debate. However, if awarding other points, it should be for a clear and decisive margin of victory.

Disqualifications

There exist special cases, which modify how rules are otherwise enforced. These all tie back to the spirit of fairness, to encourage good sportsmanship, and ultimately to be less wasteful of people’s time. In the following cases, it would be unfair to require voters to expend greater effort than the least of the two sides in a debate. As such, a voter may elect to vote citing one of the following labels decreasing or even eliminating the need for further analysis.

Note: Calling these disqualifications may be a touch too harsh, but victory within them is exceedingly rare.

Plagiarism

Plagiarism is passing off the intellectual property of another as your own. Plagiarism poisons the very spirit of debate. Plagiarism is such an extreme offense, that even if identified outside the debate it may be voted with prejudice against the offender in all categories. While there exist minor cases that do not necessitate such grave sanctions, the determination of the degree of it generally rests with each voter.

An argument dependent upon plagiarized material lacks any leg to stand on once said material is dismissed.

If credit is given and the copy/pasted sections are properly marked, it is not plagiarism. It may however fail to be a meritable argument for lack of analysis from the debater, even while doing fantastic on the sourcing. An argument composed of more than 50% of quotes is not assured to cross this line but is in clear danger of it.

Forfeitures

Forfeitures harm both arguments and conduct.

A forfeiture occurs when either side in a debate is a true no show for a round, allowing the timer to expire. It is not to be confused with merely waiving a round, or having an abysmally poor argument (see Foregone Conclusions below).

Any unexcused forfeited round merits an automatic conduct loss, but arguments must still be voted on or justified as a tie. Repeated forfeitures waives the need to consider arguments (you still may, but by the choice of one side to miss at least 40% of the debate, the requirement ceases. And yes, this does apply to Choose Winner, which otherwise would not allow conduct to be the sole determinant).

Should either side forfeit every round or every round after their initial arguments (waiving is not an argument), the debate is considered a Full Forfeiture, and any majority votes against the absent side are not moderated (a vote may still be cast in their favor of the absentee, but is eligible for moderation to verify that it is justified via the normal voting standards).

Concessions

If either side explicitly conceded the debate, only votes which cast a majority allotment in favor of the conceder are eligible for moderation. That said, the voter may otherwise assign points as they wish; such as giving conduct to the conceding side as a reward for stellar sportsmanship (even while conduct is otherwise limited to a penalty).

This is invalid if the concession was not explicit, not intended, or not part of the debate proper (such as a debater in the comment section saying they would vote in favor of their opponent).

Foregone Conclusions

For debates in which any reasonable person would know the argument outcome from barest of skimmings, they may rightly be declared a foregone conclusion and held to a somewhat lower standard when voting against the dolt. Effectively, if one side does not give enough of a topical argument to weigh, then there is no need to write a more detailed vote than their lack of a case.

While the sufficiency standard clearly points to appeals to the quantity of arguments not being enough, someone with a single line assertion against a warranted case with sources simply does not merit the same level of consideration. Similarly, someone who never advances their case beyond obvious non-sequiturs, or commits the not even wrong fallacy regarding the resolution, has also not earned detailed analysis beyond pointing that out. I.e., sufficiency goes both ways, a debater must first offer a sufficient argument for sufficient consideration to occur.

This should not be declared lightly, as it is ripe for a challenge if both sides put real effort into the debate, and abuse of this declaration is a fast way to lose voting privileges. Someone conceding the resolution itself but insisting they won anyways because they are ultimately right, is a prime example of a forgone conclusion. However, even a case made of Gish Gallops should not render the debate a foregone conclusion without the need to analyze the other side, but it exemplifies a time where no voter would be expected to read every line.

Cheating

People lacking in intellectual integrity will always devise more ways to cheat. If you spot some true rubbish that invalidates their argument or the spirit of debate, call it out with a vote against them on conduct (or more as warranted by the comparative arguments) and move on.

A few examples:

  • Plagiarism. This is listed above with its own section, but is worth repeating.

  • A final round blitzkrieg… This is when someone (usually a contender) intentionally and repeatedly withholds their argument until the end to deny the other side any chance to counter them. As this is contextually not a natural part of the debate, it can be dismissed as such. … Not to be confused with the mere act of having a final round.

  • Absurd special rules. Whereas some clarifications in the description are conducive to the spirit of debate, others are clearly set to swindle someone out of having an actual debate. Obvious examples include: “no refutations,” “must waive all rounds,” etc. This tactic should never be rewarded. … Not to be confused with merely somewhat unfair ones, like setting favorable definitions (to which their opponent could have requested alterations prior to the start).

  • Flagrant misbehavior in the comment section, such as threats, or voter manipulation (not to be confused with polite requests for more details, or encouraging more votes in general).

Kritiks can be annoying, but are not inherently cheating.

Vote Removal

Any votes in violation of the above are eligible for deletion. Ones determined to be borderline will not, even if the moderation team is likely to provide feedback to improve future votes from the user in question. Borderline is a broad area, wherein moderation leaves a vote in place but has hesitation.

When reporting a vote, unless the problem is obvious, alerting a moderator to your core issue with the vote (either in the comment section or as a direct message) is strongly suggested.

Moderators will publicly review reported votes in the comment section, and delete or not delete each vote in question. They may also reevaluate at their discretion. In a non-moderator capacity, they may even choose to vote.

Sadly, moderators cannot modify score allotments for votes partly below the standard, so must delete it in whole. The moderation team mechanically can only delete votes within the voting window. For cases of suspected malicious voting patterns, votes may be reviewed up to one month after voting has concluded.

Voters with previously deleted votes may revote so long as they refine their reason for their decision; especially to factor in feedback from moderators. However, fixing just what a moderator pointed out does not guarantee it will pass reinspection (e.g., a vote deleted swiftly for failing to mention arguments, might be deleted again for an invalid legibility award, even if now mentioning the arguments).

Votes which in no way try to shift the outcome, are less likely to be moderated. Again, moderators are volunteers, so please be conscientious of our time. On a related note, if reporting, do so fairly and promptly, instead of as a strategy.

The following at the most common reasons a vote will be deleted:

  • Bias

  • Tied Arguments

  • Vote Bombs

  • Fluff Votes

  • Based on Outside Content

  • Non-Sequitur.

Bias

In voting, from the outset of reading a debate, there must be the strong possibility that a voter will vote for either side, if there’s not, then they should at least withhold any point allotments.

Three common ways this occurs are:

  1. Retaliation against one debater, such as they recently beat the voter in a debate or voted against them. Votes which would otherwise be ruled borderline but are suspect for this will be deleted.

  2. Favor for one debater, such as vote trading.

  3. Overwhelming opinion on the topic. Very often seen in religious and political debates, wherein a voter refuses to even consider merits to the opposing argument… This is frankly demeaning to the side they wish to favor, pretending they are so weak as to need such fluffery.

Tied Arguments

While arguments may be determined as a tie, without that analysis or an exception, they must be weighted.

Whereas wholly tied votes are generally considered borderline and not removed, due to their lack of any meaningful impact on the outcome. Still, if they fail to be better than spam, they will be removed.

Vote Bombs (VB)

Vote Bombs are obviously bad votes, suffering lack of analysis and/or awarding too many points without justification.

Similarly, Counter Vote Bombs are considered vote bombs. Please just report the original vote bomb.

Fluff Votes (FV)

Fluff votes are votes which attempt to fluff up their preferred side with superfluous unmerited point allotments to help crown them the winner. This includes writing arguments against one side which were not present nor implied within the debate.

Awarding clearly in the inverse of the common sense weighing to assign extra points to your majority awardee (such as giving them conduct for them forfeiting), is such a clear example of vote fluffing, that it is grounds for immediate revocation of voting privileges. Similarly withholding points obviously against them (such as you want them to win so declare their repeated forfeitures shouldn’t cost conduct), is likewise suspect.

Based on Outside Content

Any awarded point(s) must be based on the content presented inside the debate rounds. Content from the comment section, other votes, forums, your personal experience, etcetera, is ineligible for point allotments.

This is not to prevent offering feedback, but you must vote based on the debate which occurred, never the arguments they should have made. If the determinant of a vote is dependent on an analysis of things not in the proper debate, the vote is eligible for removal.

That said, we do not vote in a perfect vacuum. Your background is assured to influence how easy to follow certain contentions were, and even bias you on source types. The idea is to ensure you are at least trying to vote fairly for the debate in question, as opposed to voting as an ideologue.

If in doubt, the comment section is the ideal place for any commentary which is not part of the vote. It is also an acceptable place to expand the reasoning for your vote.

Non-Sequitur

The reason for the decision literally doesn’t make sense. … Jabberwacky!

Non-Moderated Debates

Some debates by their nature, or pre-agreement between the debaters, are not eligible for normal moderation. Of course, extreme abuse may warrant exceptions wherein moderation will intervene (such as someone voting solely for a dislike and/or like of either side).

For non-moderated debates, Winner Selection voting is strongly encouraged.

Examples of non-moderated debates include...

Subjective Competitions

Differentiated from normal debates, rap battles, poetry slams, talent shows, and the like, are too subjective to a different standard than what these rules are designed to enforce.

Comedy Debates

Debates primarily designed to be humorous or facetious, or containing primarily humorous or facetious content, are not eligible for normal moderation. That said, while not a requirement, voters on these are encouraged to judge arguments based on how funny they found each case.

Please do not join an obvious comedy debate with the intent of treating it in a wholly serious manner. Similarly, if it’s a serious topic, please don’t toxically try to turn it into a pure comedy debate (which is not to say excluding all jokes from normal debates).

Traps and Riddles

It is up to each voter if the trap was navigated or the riddle solved, and they usually lack impacts in the normal sense; therefore, they’re non-moderated.

Truisms and Tautology

The setup for a debate need not be wholly fair, but there should be grounds for either side to argue. A debate such as “the sun is hot”' are so overwhelmingly in favor of one side, that the other side is best off kritiking the setup and asking for voters to disregard the proofs. This makes it a time of voter discretion if the setup was cheating or not, so moderation is unlikely to intervene.

Further reading:

Vote Rigging

Vote rigging is any attempt to unduly influence voters on any debate. Votes determined to be based upon this, will of course be deleted. Most voters will not otherwise be penalized, as they are usually the victims rather than willing accomplices.

You may of course always request further detail from a voter, but it should not cross into clear harassment should people decide to vote against you (or not enough in your favor).

It is not vote-rigging to ask for someone to cast a fair vote.

Vote trading may or may not be vote-rigging, depending on whether the outcome of the traded votes is fixed or otherwise agreed upon before the debates are evaluated by the voters (intentionally withholding votes that would otherwise be against the person, is malicious vote-trading).