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Rules for Debating:

 

 

Nowadays terms like "debate" and "argument" connote something sour in everyday society, especially when it pertains to the Internet. Woefully undereducated, people are quick to picture personal attacks, slander, and needless melodrama rather than the actual intellectual merit such terms originally denoted. Academically, arguments and by extension whole debates, when moderated correctly, are wonderful tools to help people come together to solve differences and complex problems. Despite the shallow impressions of postmodern culture, arguing is an art, a science, and a necessity for intellectual advancement. Now, be warned: debates can get heated and at times are likened to a full-contact sport, but as it has been said: steel sharpens steel. Those that abide by the time-honoured rules with character and mental fortitude will gain immense knowledge from this mental sparing. Arguing/Debating is an effective, time-tested method for presenting and evaluating people’s opinions on a subject clearly and in a logical manner.  If you have an opinion on something, there’s a news story that interests you, or something going on in the world that just “grinds your gears” and want to make some noise about it, then the “Debate” forum is perfect for you. Here you will gain insight and personal growth through such trials. Meanwhile while you will be growing and learning, others will stagnate in their comfort zones, too afraid to have their egos and pet-opinions bruised. Here, you can make a difference many do not muster the inner strength, integrity, and raw effort to make.

 

 

This forum's impetus is to give users a safe place to talk about what is on their mind and to gain insight from other users on said topics. Also, it is here to give people a platform to discuss and persuade others towards the position or opinion they hold. But above all, the debate section is designed so people can have a safe place to actually get to the root of an issue and find a solution through conflict resolution and cooperation . A debate is somewhat different from normal discussion in that regard; you will take your position on the topic and defend it. Your position might be anywhere from almost the same to completely the opposite.

Despite the adversarial nature of debating, it is a great tool that has been used for thousands of years to solve large and small scale issues alike. A great example of how a debate can be used is for the creation of policy; all democratic nations use debating for the purpose of not just creating laws, but for laying the foundation that is their constitutions and human rights. Those that don’t agree with a certain policy can use a debate as an effective way to persuade people to change their opinions on that issue.

 

 

How a debate works on our forum:

 

 

  1. A person posts an article, or simply writes something down in a new topic of debate; anyone can do this on any subject he/she chooses.
  2. That person will formulate the subject into an argument, e.g., “I believe that firearms should be better controlled in our nation; and here is my reasoning and how it can be accomplished.” or “Nintendo makes the best console ever, and here’s why they will continue to dominate.” or “I think that dogs make the best pets and everyone should have one.” or “Religions are harmful to society and should be abolished.” or “A peoples’ homes are their sovereign property and the government should back off and not interfere.”
  3. This is a place for discussing hard facts, not theories or personal opinions; you absolutely must have evidence to back up your claims and post links to primary sources. Failure to do so will result in no less than a warning from a moderator or admin and deletion of the thread; second-hand or questionable information will be contested through fact-checking. The stronger and greater the number of sources to back up your subject the stronger and more powerful your argument will be. For instance, if you post links to multiple peer-reviewed articles from a professor at Cambridge, MIT, another university, etc… or directly from an interview of an expert/professional on the subject, it will hold a lot more weight than posting something from a random, unknown site owned by John Q. Public on the interwebs.
  4. If a person does not know much about the topic it is advisable that he/she should not enter into the debate; we don’t want people to accidentally make themselves to look less than intelligent and detract from the conversation with non sequiturs and assertions based on lack of knowledge. But, by all means if you are not that versed on the topic ask questions and watch/read from the sidelines to learn about the issues; this is exactly what this forum is for.
  5. Anyone is welcome to challenge, pose questions, or comment on the topic, no exceptions. Just be ready to back up what you say with hard fact.
  6. Each person may respond with one post and then give someone else a chance to post; so no spamming the topic with multiple posts in a row by one member.
  7. Each participant will give ample time for people to respond; no hurrying people up just because you have a “humdinger ready to post.”
  8. If you notice a typo or error in your post, then you may edit your post and correct the mistakes, however you must make a note at the bottom of your post of the changes you made. Beyond error/typo correction, once someone has posted a reply editing your post is not allowed in the Debating forum; you are not allowed to “add more sources” or change your post in any way. So, if you have more to add you will wait until your next turn.

A.              If you post something and then change it once someone else has posted a reply you will be suspended from the debate forum for a time depending on the severity of the infraction; of course repeat offenses will include greater spans of time in your suspension and/or possibly a total ban specifically from the Debate forum.

9.               How a person will conduct him/herself in a debate; violation of the following rules will bring disciplinary actions upon the offender, including, but not limited to a permanent ban from the Debate forum and possibly SoM entirely:

A.              Have fun, learn, and teach people about various subjects.

B.              Users will always respect one another no matter what stance he/she has and/or how different it is from his/her own.

C.              You will not address a person disrespectfully, when referring to someone you will respectfully use his/her proper screen name if it is informal and by “My opponent” if it is formal.

D.              You are here to dismantle arguments not living people. You may not attack or berate your opponent. This means no childish behaviour such as TYPING IN ALL CAPS, name calling, cursing/swearing, threats, or strawman accusations; e.g. “You are just a stupid [Christian, Muslim, Liberal, Conservative, Capitalist, Socialist, etcetera]!” or “You are just a fanboy of [SEGA, Sony, MLP]!” or “Since you believe in abortion and thus that the world is overpopulated, why don’t you help by killing yourself?”

E.               No one is allowed to intimidate, bully, or marginalize someone or his/her stance/argument based on his/her perceived higher moral stance, education, age, class, creed, sexual orientation, gender, heritage, or title on this site, period. In other words your argument will stand or fall on its own merits not your position.

F.               Users are required to keep on topic; there will be no spamming or irrelevant/off topic information posted in a thread discussing a set topic. If a debater goes off into left field it had better have something to do with the topic and argument at hand. No thread jacking; if you have a separate topic you want to discuss you are fully within your right to start your own thread or find one on the topic that already exists.

G.              No posting multiple threads on the same topic; if you have a new news story or article that you want to debate but the subject has already been discussed, we would rather have you bring this new information to light in the old thread than creating many threads on the same topic. New posts will always bump an old thread to the top so people will notice it. However, if you create a new thread anyway do not be surprised if you find it merged into the old one and depending on how many times you have done this you might receive a warning from a mod as well.

H.              It is strictly against our policy and the law for any person(s) to threaten any individual in this forum or in the world, be it political figure, celebrity, groups of people, cities, nations, or structures. Any threat leveled at an individual, be it just a passing fancy about causing harm to someone, killing, blackmailing, or harming his/her family, acquaintances, property, or threats of genocide on (a) specific group(s), threats to a nation, city, building, or property will be treated as a serious threat and anyone doing so will absolutely face a ban from SoM and will certainly be reported to the proper authorities. Watch what you type and say; it is okay to not like a person’s actions and to dislike him/her, but it is not okay in the slightest to threaten harm on him/her. When debating about such people and/or things you dislike keep on topic and not after the person.

I.                 If your stance and argument has been disproven through debate you must accept this and either move on or seek more information and sources to further back up your stance. Likewise, if you have disproven someone be gracious; no one likes a braggart or a bad winner. You will always show your opponent respect in all instances; this is an absolute. We want rousing and enlightening debates, not hurt feelings and bruised egos; be always humble in victory and gracious in defeat. This is not about you - it is about truth.

10.            If it is deemed necessary and/or upon the request of participants, a moderator, who will remain neutral and not join the argument or give his/her opinion, will be assigned to the topic to officiate. This “moderator” does not have to be a member of the admin/mod team per se, but he/she must remain truly neutral and not state an opinion on the topic, join in the debate, or show any kind of favouritism. If the moderator fails to abide by these strictures then he/she will be removed and/or face possible punitive action.

11.            At times we might create a proper academic debate with teams; in that case, as above in #10, a neutral moderator will be assigned to officiate.

A.              People then can join either team and formulate a proper, well thought out argument based on their insights and opinions.

B.              The moderator will then introduce the topic and then give each team leader the opportunity to present the team’s argument.

C.              The moderator will then recognize each person on alternating teams in turn starting with the team supporting the topic (the “pro” stance) followed by the team in opposition (the “con” stance); they will field arguments and rebuttals as recognized by the moderator.

D.              After each time a single team member on each team has presented his/her case/rebuttal the moderator will “score” the exchange and give his/her opinion as to what the strengths/weaknesses were in each person’s speech and material.

E.               After each member of each team has had a turn the moderator will tally up the points and declare which team won.

F.               Both teams and the members within will respect the moderator’s judgement.

G.              It is fully permissible for any member to request an academic debate be created on the topic of his/her choosing; however, the moderator is given the authority to define/refine the topic if it is presented too broad or loosely thought out.

12.            Principal Responsibilities of a debate moderator:

A.              The moderator will lay out the topic of debate.

B.              He/she will remind everyone of the rules and procedures.

C.              If necessary he/she will aid in defining the topic and each side’s official stance in plain words.

D.              The debate moderator will help team members to gain an understanding of some of the objectives which can, and should be achieved. Objectives such as this can include teaching participants in how to make convincing arguments from another frame of reference than what that person holds, this would definitely be the case if a person decides to play “devil’s advocate” by debating a position that he/she does not actually agree with. Experiences such as this will grant an opportunity that will help to further develop person’s knowledge to understand and respect the rights of people that hold opinions and beliefs that are different from his/her own.

 

All questions, comments, and suggestions concerning the rules should be posted here.

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