Revision as of 17:13, 7 September 2007
Debatepedia has been developed as an interactive educational resource for people around the world, focusing particularly on the field of debate. It has a powerful mission to improve the the quality and depth of debates, reasoning, and deliberation in communities of all kinds. It also aims to reveal where powerful policy-makers, individuals, and interest groups stand on debates (position pages), and how legislation, ordinary people, and the world are effected by them, helping answer the question, "Why do we debate?". Within the debate community, Debatepedia aims to become a multidimensional resource for uncovering evidence, as well as a socially productive outlet for the extensive research done by debaters and their talented minds. In addition to these argument-building functions, Debatepedia is also a place for debate clubs and schools to identify themselves, their histories, and milestones, all in the interest of building and showcasing the international, multicultural, multilingual world of debating. Below is an outline of the elements of Debatepedia's ambitious mission to create positive change in the world:
Improve the depth and quality of debate and reasoning
Debatepedia aims to enhance the quality and resources for debate communities, the broader public, and policy discourse. Debatepedia empowers editors and thinkers to arrive at a new level of structured debate, reasoning, and deliberation. It achieves this through a combination of several elements: the same wiki technology that has allowed Wikipedia to become a revolutionary movement; an ideal pro/con "logic tree" structure; the capacity to create pages for specific arguments and their mass of supporting evidence. This all allows for a depth and quality of debate, and a scope of coverage in topics, that has never been achieved before. One way to frame all of this is to think of Debatepedia as the Wikipedia of debate and reasoning.
In a time when Al Gore (in The Assault on Reason ) and others are citing an appalling lack of evidence-based reasoning and deliberation among both the public and decision-makers, Debatepedia seizes upon a special moment of opportunity to create change in the world. Indeed, Al Gore believes the Internet holds the greatest opportunity for combating the "assault on reason". We believe Debatepedia has the greatest potential online of leading this charge. Ultimately, it aims to empower citizens to better break-down complicated issues, question policies, take principled positions, and vote with greater confidence. In some ways, Debatepedia's pro/con articles have the potential to become the ultimate voter guides. Debatepedia also intends to achieve a respect among policy-makers themselves as a pro/con resource to aid (or even substitutes for) policy briefings on complicated issues and debates ahead. One of the keys to making this happen is the wiki technology that it adopts. While some fear the fact that wiki technology allows any registered user to edit, Debatepedia applies the right level of structure, rules, and regulations to ensure that the energy of this level of openness can be channeled successfully toward fulfilling Debatepedia's mission. For sure, Wikipedia has demonstrated that wiki technology can be immensely powerful and successfully harnessed. Debatepedia takes the implications of Wikipedia's success, and applies them to the important task of debate and reasoning.
Become a resource as well as outlet for the formal debate community
Debatepedia as a depository of evidence: One of the main practices of debaters is the collection of evidence. Debatepedia aims to be a gold-mine for such an effort, improving the ability of debaters who use the resource to debate and compete. The structure of pro/con debate articles allows debaters to anticipate every angle that their competition may take. Links to individual argument pages from those main debate pages allows debaters to dig deep into the body of evidence, quotes, facts, articles, and studies supporting specific arguments. Argument pages also help debaters anticipate counter-claims. Once a debater is done with a competition, Debatepedia acts as an outlet for their research and evidence. Debaters can easily enter the contents of their evidence note cards within Debatepedia's intuitive structure. The collective result is that it becomes easier and easier for debaters to research evidence. In turn, when you research your next debate topic, you'll find the evidence conveniently structured and presented on Debatepedia.
Channeling the debate community toward positive social ends: Debatepedia also provides debaters with the opportunity to apply their talents and research to productive ends among policy-makers and the general citizenry. Famous debate coach Ross Smith of Wake Forest University sees the debate community as an ocean of research, evidence, intellect, and talent, that needs to be tapped by the broader intellectual, policy-making, and voting community. Ross Smith is an advocate of Debatepedia as such a channeling force. Again, it is important to understand that debates have a real impact in the world and on people's lives. Please consider helping build this resource as a way to apply your debate talents toward positive social ends in the world.
Build an interactive community of individuals, teams, and organizations
Debatepedia is meant to be a tool for debate teams, debate organizations, non-profit organizations, and other groups to create their own pages, where they can discuss the projects they are working on, list their team members, network among other team members, show-off debate victories, stories, and other achievements relevant to debate.
See Debatepedia:Group Pages for more information
Foster an understanding of where relevant leaders and experts stand on debates and how debates affect policy outcomes, ordinary individuals, and the world
It is important to understand not only the raw arguments and rationales within debates, but also to understand where the actual relevant, powerful minds stand on the issues. "Position" pages allow for this. They parallel debate pages, focusing on revealing where government leaders, politicians, experts, academics, think-tanks, interest and activist groups, military leaders, and more stand on a debated issue. This allows for an understanding of where the various power-interests stand and how they vie for power and change. It also reveals, in part, that debates have a turbulent effect on policy, power, ordinary people's lives, and in shaping the world around us. Debates are not merely academic pursuits; they have real, often dramatic effects that need to be understood, and which "position" pages help reveal. The other feature on Debatepedia -- that you can help build -- are at the bottom of every debate page, where anyone can help list the legislation that surrounds a debate and other real-world effects of a debate. One of the main purpose of this all is to answer the questions, "Why do we debate? Why is it important?". Teaching the importance of debate is a way to make it more common and popular, and to improve the general intelligence of a citizenry and decision-makers.
Engaging editors in building a resource on the practice of argumentation, logic, and reasoning
Debatepedia also aims to be an encyclopedia of information on argumentation, reasoning, and logic. The mission here is to help guide debaters and citizens in the practice of sound debate and argument construction and presentation. The intention with this is to benefit both the quality of the arguments being written on Debatepedia as well as the ability of individuals to debate and persuade effectively in other forums online, in the world, and on debating floors.
Affecting positive change at the individual/debater/voter level
This includes the following aims:
- Help individuals learn about the world through debate. Because debated issues are often important, and test social values, reading and engaging on Debatepedia is a wonderful way to consider the thinking present in the world and the difficulties faced by humans.
- Stimulate realization of one's own values and beliefs in the process of inquiring into topics and weighing pros and cons. Foster confidence in these beliefs and the capacity to defend them.
- Issues and topics that are worth debating are often important and impact peoples lives greatly, making time spent reading and writing on Debatepedia a good use of ones time.
- Create a positive question-asking and critical mentality among individuals, fostering their passioned engagement in the shaping of policy and other matters.
- Help individuals bring structure and simplicity to complicated issues, so that they can then break-them down in making a case, such that they can compel other individuals.
- Provide a sense of community to individuals, particularly with other individuals that share the common vision of Debatepedia and rational debate and deliberation.
- Provide a sense of productive engagement in shaping rational dialogue and discourse.
- Develop a resource that allows voters to confidently vote based on their principles for certain candidates or on certain issues.
- Produce a resource that acts as the ultimate "voter guide".
- Enable debaters to debate more effectively, gain confidence, and grow.
- Provide debaters with an outlet for their immense bodies of research and strong intellectual talents.
Affecting positive change at the societal and decision-making level
- Enable more nuanced and rational social exchanges, and provide a structure and the tools for this.
- Enable better deliberations, calculations, and policy outcomes.
- Foster understanding and respect for legitimate differences of opinion and values. Demonstrate that there are frequently two legitimate sides to an issue, that debates are often complicated and nuanced, and foster, therefore, a greater environment for understanding a civility among groups.
- Provide a resource that will allow government staffers to form coherent and full briefings to their leaders, so that those leaders can better deliberate, decide, and act. Produce "briefing-quality" debate articles.
- Help demonstrate the potential for applying powerful technologies toward the objective of aiding policy development.