The following is a guide to editing on Debatepedia. It provides detailed explanations of editing objectives, processes, research, and rules.
Why should I edit on Debatepedia?
Main article: Debatepedia:Mission
Edit on Debatepedia if you are a debater, can identify passionately with its mission, and/or have special knowledge in a field that you believe others would benefit from. In a nutshell, that mission is to take what Wikipedia has demonstrated in terms of the power of wiki technology, and apply it toward improved evidence-gathering, case-building, and reasoning among the public as well as decision-makers. This is terribly needed today, as is so clearly demonstrated in such places as Al Gore's book the Assault on Reason. Another important mission is to empower individual debaters and debate teams to collaborate more effectively in gathering evidence and winning debate competitions. If you identify with this, please join us.
What am I aiming for in my editing?
Improving articles to the achievement of feature article status is the main editorial objective on Debatepedia. Feature articles are ones that best fulfill the mission of Debatepedia and benefit the general public on their subject area. For the different kinds of articles that can be found on Debatepedia, here are some of the criteria for feature article status ( See Feature Article page for more detail):
- Objectives for Debate pages: A feature debate article should have some of the following objectives and characteristics:
- Briefing quality: This means that a voter, decision-maker, or policy-maker could rely on it for deliberating and deciding on a debate.
- Comprehensive pros and cons: Includes basically all of the main pro/con arguments in the debate, with sound summaries of those arguments.
- Sound and valid argument structures: Arguments should be constructed soundly, with a claim (bolded) providing the gist of the argument and its conclusion, and the rest of argument consisting warrants that directly support the claim/conclusion. Some evidence should be provided in the argument summary on the main debate page, but large bodies of supporting evidence for an argument should be reserved for the own pages of individual arguments.
- Many-to-all of its arguments have been made into their own pages (being linked to on the main debate page), with extensive bodies of supporting evidence in the form of quotes, facts, and other forms of evidence. See Debatepedia:Making Argument Pages
- Supporting evidence is drawn from and cited to reliable published sources.
- The language and wording of the article is sober, civil, and dispassionate, although assertive and compelling. editing policies.
- Argument pages: Feature argument status here is based largely on the quality and depth of the supporting evidence provided for the argument. A diversity of quotes, links to articles, and original synthesized facts is desirable. (Also see Debatepedia:Making Argument Pages
- Positions pages: These are pages that utilize the pro/con structure, but for the presentation of the positions held by the various players in the field relevant to a debate. The main editorial goal here is to present the main positions of the relevant players, organizations, countries..., such that an individual can be well informed about the world's varying perspectives on an issue.
- Debate-related pages: Debate-related articles should all meet the basic criteria of being informative and useful to those interested in the field of debate. They should not "re-invent the wheel" by describing things that resources such as Wikipedia have already cover, but should focus on adding value around the specific relation of things to the world and discipline of debate and reasoning.
- Debate group pages: These pages are really wide-open to the intentions and purposes of the debate group, club, or association that initiates them. The purpose is for debaters and debate teams to utilize these pages in whatever way benefits them most.
What should I edit and contribute and how?:
Edit anything in anyway, as long as it improves Debatepedia and abides by its rules. But, the following are some of the things you can do, and ways you can do them:
- Create new debate articles ("Yes"/"No" questions) in areas of interest and/or relevance to you. In order to create a new debate page, first isolate the debate topic. First, develop a coherent "yes/no" question in your mind, and then think of a descriptive title for that specific debate. Now, take this title, and type it into the "search" box on Debatepedia on the left tool bar. Press "Go". Look through the results below. If you find that your debate topic does not already exist, then go to the top of this page where it reads, "Click here to create New Debate along with structure?" and click "New Debate". Your new debate page will be created. Then, the first thing you should do is enter the "Yes"/"No" debate question that you designed out the outset in the top rectangle where it says "Write main debate question here..." You have just created a new debate page on Debatepedia.
- Research and write argument summaries in debate articles. An argument summary on Debatepedia is a summary of a specific pro or con line of logic within a debate. You might think of a unique argument creatively on your own or find it through research online or elsewhere. Writing an argument first involves clicking on the "pencil" (edit) icon within a debate structure. Be bold in doing this and realize that any mistakes you make can be reverted through the history page of an article. The first thing to do, is create a one-sentence as-brief-as-possible summary of your argument, which may just include the conclusion of the argument. This is sometimes called the claim of an argument. Make this bold. Now write out the basic supporting line of logic in this argument. You may want to through in a couple of facts and possible a quote here or there, but remember that you can also make this argument into its own argument page, where you can add buckets of supporting evidence, quotes, links to articles, and so-forth. So, don't overdo the argument summary with too much support.
- Create evidence pages for specific arguments, and add supporting evidence endlessly in the form of facts, quotes, links to supporting articles, and more.' See Debatepedia:Making Argument Pages
- Write and re-arrange subquestions within debates. See "Manipulating the Logic Tree method" below.
- Write descriptive pages on Debatepedia regarding debating methods, styles, historical figures as well as event, team, organizations, champion bios and other pages. Debatepedia is intended to be a wiki encyclopedia of all things debate; not just of debates and arguments. Therefore, feel free to search for, start, and write any articles that are relevant to debate. However, be conscious of what has already been written in Wikipedia on subjects. Try not to "re-invent the wheel" by making articles on Debatepedia that already exist on Wikipedia or other wiki websites. The goal is to add value. One of the ways to do this is to focus on articles that are of special relevance to the world of debate, or by addressing in an article on, for example, Karl Popper, only his relationship to the world of debate. Here are some of the kinds of pages you might be writing on Debatepedia:
- Debate and reasoning methods
- Debate events.
- Bios of past and forthcoming events.
- Functional pages designed to help event collaborations and efforts.
- Debating records in Parliament or Congress.
- The nature and progress of debate and dialogue in developing countries.
- Bios of debate Champions at any level.
- Debate teams: These pages can be biographical as well as functional. Teams can use them to coordinate their efforts internally as well as externally.
- Debate organizations and societies: These pages can also be for biographies as well as for functional communications among debate societies.
- To do this, first search for the article to make sure that it doesn't already exist.
- Edit and improve existing content, including spelling, grammar, structure, word usage, font (bolding, italics, underlining), the structure of articles, arguments and their logical structure, subquestions, the logical flow and structure of subquestions within an article (by manipulating the "logic tree" architecture), citations (adding or checking citations to reliable sources), and anything else felt deemed appropriate by you to improve.
Creating new pages
Basic editing tools and tips for regular pages on Debatepedia:
When in an editing window, there are many tools available to you. These tools are provided at the top of the editing window, in the form of icons. You can run your cursor over these tools and a description of their function will appear. Then, if you highlight the text you, for example, want to make bold, you can then click on the "B" (bold) tool and that function will be performed around that text. Generally, one of the best ways to learn how to edit is to read through existing debates, observe certain outputs such as a citation or an imported image, click on "edit" and observe what was done in the wiki language to achieve that particular rendering you are trying to emulate.
The most important tools to know:
- Bolding (how to: described above) All arguments should have a header, summary of the argument below, and this should be bolded.
- Bullet points: Bullet points are a good way to break down the "points" or "evidence" in an argument. This can be done by putting a Astrix (*) before an independent line of content.
- Citations: To cite a source, simply cut the url (the domain name "address" that appears at the top of browswers) from a utilized source website, and paste it at the end of the sentence or paragraph you are trying to cite. You can highlight that url and press the hyperlink icon in the MediaWiki tool bar or you can just place a single bracket on each side of the url.
- External links: Links out to other websites, articles... is just the same as a a citation, accept that, in order to "hyperlink" a word or name, you put a single bracket, the url, a space, the name then a second closing bracket.
- Internal links: If you want to make a link in one Debatepedia article to another Debatepedia article, you simply need to type the name of the other article and place two brackets on either side of the exact name of that article.
Manipulating Debatepedia's pro/con "logic tree" architecture and software:
In coordination with IDEA, Debatemedia Inc. developed with a great Indian software firm called QuadOne special software so that you can effectively manipulate Debatepedia's unique "logic tree" architecture in your creation of quality debate articles. With this software, editors can:
- Create new debate pages with the structure automatically deployed: As described above, this simply involves searching for a debate title of your choosing (with "Debate:[then the title]" in front of it), making sure it doesn't exist, and then clicking on "New Debate".(Also, you should use the "go", not the "search" option in the search box).
- Shift up or down subquestion sections and their contents (arrow icons): These icons appear in the debate architecture, and are simply the up and down arrows in the advanced table of contents and on every subquestion box. They are for when a user believes that the logical flow and line-up of subquestion sections in a debate can be improved by shifting the order of subquestion sections up or down. There is no magic formula for determining why a subquestion section should be shifted up or down, but some factors include importance (with more "important" subquestion sections appearing nearer the top of the order) and association (with thematically similar subquestion sections appearing next to one another).
- Insert new subquestion section (box icon): A subquestions section is a single subquestion and its "yes"/pro and "no"/con boxes. The icon for this appear to the right of the up and down arrow icons and is just a little box with the look of a subquestion section. All debates (yes/no questions) have sub-debates (yes/no subquestions). Subquestions are a good way of breaking down, categorizing, and simplifying a certain debate topic. If you feel that a certain list of pros and cons is too long, you should ask yourself, "how can I break this down?", and, "what sub-debates exist within this chunk of pros and cons?". Get in the habit of question-asking. When you discover a good subquestion, click on the New Subquestion Section icon on the subquestion below where you would like the new subquestion section created. A new subquestion section will be deployed, and you can begin editing and importing arguments in that new section. When a new debate page is created, only three subquestion sections appear. The average debate has about 7 subquestion sections, so you will have to create subquestion sections as you go.
- Delete old or uneeded subquestions (red icon): This is the red icon. Deleting subquestion sections is a fairly rare practice. It is usually necessary if you decide to merge two existing subquestion sections, rendering one of them simply a shell.
- Subquestion background icon (blue book icon): This is the bright blue icon. Click on this to add background content to a subquestion and/or to its section. This might be information framing helping frame why the question is asked, giving a definition to a term used in the subquestion, providing some background information on the content in the section, or providing links out to resources that specifically address the area covered by that particular subquestion.
- Being critical versus critical thinking
- Core elements of debate
- Discovering the World through Debate
- Educational debate
- Logical fallacy
- Principle of charity
- Standard of evaluation
- Structure of an argument
- The principle of cooperation