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Debate: The future of Debatepedia

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Debating the pros and cons of proposals to improve Debatepedia.org

Background and context

This page is intended to be a central place for a debate about Debatepedia's future. Individual subsections/subquestions ought to consist of e.g. proposals for changes/new features on this server, followed by pro/con arguments.

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Rating/voting system - would it be beneficial?

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Pro

  • Rating system would allow polling on quality of arguments. This function would enable readers to rate each argument according to its perceived logical quality, factual backing, and overall importance. The average of all users opinions would likely reflect the true strength of arguments, and the weakness of others. For casual readers, this would be important in finding and focusing on the most important arguments.
  • Voting system would provide feedback. If implemented on a larger scale, this system could be a useful feedback for the editors - which argument needs developing, better explanation, new evidence, or which are well developed and accepted by the public on the other hand. Also, no vote has ever been neither 100% reliable nor accurate - there is no absolute truth, so these words doesn't even make sense in this context. Vote is an expression of one's (possibly wrongful) feeling about some subject. Vote reflects opinion about a subject, how can this possibly be accurate/inaccurate? The outcome of a poll, consequently, reflects the distribution of opinion(s) among people - again, this distribution may be a wrongful one (in somebody's eyes), but getting info about it is the whole point of the voting system, so complaining about inaccuracy and unreliability is completely fallacious.
  • Abuse of the voting system can be prevented. To prevent abuse by random visitors, the rating system could be available only to a subgroup of users, e.g. long-registered users (that had e.g already contributed to some debates), or even only to sysops. Maybe the best option would be to have a special rater/voter permission, that could be rather easy to gain (e.g. after passing some Turing test), so the voting would not be available only to some elite. While it is basically true that there is currently no good way how to prevent somebody from multiple voting, partial measures - e.g. enabling only one vote per one IP address (in some time frame) are rather successfully used on servers that implement voting for general public.




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Con

  • Creating rating system would require major software developments. The addition of a voting and rating system would require creating a significant add-on to the MediaWiki software of Debatepedia. If efforts to find a pro bono software developer fail, this could be fairly costly.
  • These votes can never be 100% reliable and accurate. What one might consider a good argument (because it is - for example - funny), others may find unreliable, contradicting the Ethics code, etc. Additionally, random visitors could take the voting system less seriously than common users - and how can we decide who has just voted?
  • Voting on arguments could just follow partisan lines. For many debates, partisan individuals may hold a particular belief or opinion on a certain debate, having drawn the conclusion that one side is right. They might then simply vote down all the opposing arguments to the lowest level and all of the supporting arguments to the highest level without regard to each arguments individual strengths or weaknesses.
  • Creating an "elite". If we prevent random users from rating arguments, not only do we make the system less attractive for random visitors, but we also create an "artificial elite" - an elite of sysops (or whoever else would be eligible to vote) who could easily rate their own arguments as "good" and arguments of non-privileged users as "useless". There is no software that could prevent that.
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Should Debatepedia adopt an ethical code?

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Pro

  • Debating stands on moral pillars. The thing is, the moral pillars debating stands on are also protection of human lives and "doing good things for the society". An unacceptable argument is always the one which violates an ethical code - e.g. "We should kill every second child in Africa, because less people would have more to eat." Without an ethical code, some debates may easily get "out of control".




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Con

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Write Subquestion here...

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Pro

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Con

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