Debatepedia User Guide
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This page is a tutorial on all of the basic, need-to-know things on Debatepedia. It will jump-start your ability to browse, edit, and engage with the Debatepedia community.
Registering and login in
Go to the "log in / create account" button in the upper-right of the screen, click this, and enter your basic information. We encourage you to use your real name as your "user name", particularly if you are a debater. You will be able to use your user page as a profile and bio page, so it may be worthwhile for you to provide a real name and build your actual profile.
Communicating with other members of the community
Debatepedia is a community of editors like you, and we encourage you to communicate with the rest of this community by going to the Main Page discussion page, the talk pages of articles, or to the user pages of other members of this community (user pages are best accessed by going to the "history" tab at the top of the screen and seeing who has contributed what to an article of interest to you). You are welcome to write almost anything on these pages (questions, comments, suggestions), as long as it's appropriate and relevant to the other user.
We also encourage you to communicate directly with Noel Selegzi, the President of IDEA, or Brooks Lindsay, the founder and chief editor of Debatepedia by going to our user pages and writing a comment or question on just about anything. You can also contact us by email or phone with any of your questions. We're here to answer your questions and help integrate you into the Debatepedia community, so really feel free to send us a message, email, or give us a phone call.
Almost everything on Debatepedia can be accessed through the "navigation" and "interactions" boxes in the upper left part of the screen as well as the toolbar on the upper right part of the screen.
- The contents page is your access portal to all categories, portal, articles, and other areas on the site.
- If you are looking for ways to contribute, go to the community portal, where tasks that need doing are listed.
Learning to edit
- Be bold. Don't be afraid to edit. If you make a mistake you or others can revert it through the "history" tab. Be bold, click "edit", and save your changes.
- Edit anything. As a wiki, you are free to edit anything on the site, with the exception of a few restricted pages, such as the main page.
- To edit, you can click the "edit" tab at the top of the page, make your edit, and press save. But, on Debate Pages (which have the pro/con "logic tree" structure, we encourage you to click the "pencil" icons throughout the page, where you desire to edit, make your argument/edit, and press save at the bottom of the editing "window".
- Make sure you abide by Debatepedia's editing policies, the essentials of them being:
- Respect other users.
- Arguments should be presented in a fair and balanced way and with sober dispassionate language. While you should present arguments in their natural biased form, you must be fair, balanced, and dispassionate in the language you use.
- Document the supporting evidence for evidence (quotes, studies, articles). Only arguments that can muster supporting evidence from reliable published sources can remain on Debatepedia. You can make argument pages for the purpose of documenting a vast array of supporting evidence for a particular argument. Do this simply by placing two brackets around an argument on a debate page ([[ ]]), pressing save, and then by clicking on the now red argument, whereupon you will be take to the new argument page where you can document supporting evidence.
- See Help:Editing, which acts as a full guide to editing on Debatepedia.
- Also see Wikipedia's tutorial on editing, which will help you learn the very basic and most important MediWiki (the software Wikipedia and Debatepedia uses) editing techniques and tools.
- The Wikipedia Cheatsheet is also valuable as a starting place.
- See below for understanding debate-page editing on Debatepedia, which is slightly different than the above.
Learning to use debate page software and icons
Debate pages on Debatepedia are based on a unique pro/con "logic tree" structure. Debates start with a main "yes"/"no" question. The pro/"yes" and con/"no" arguments are then divided into a split screen. Subquestions help organize the pros and cons of often large debates into more chewable parts (economic, social, legal...). Subquestions are simply there for the purpose of organizing pros/cons within the larger debate or "yes"/"no" question; they are not there for opening tangential debates to the main debate/question.
Manipulating the Debatepedia "logic tree" structure 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 on debate pages. With this software, editors can:
- Shift up or down subquestion sections and their contents (arrow icons):
- Insert new subquestion sections (box icon):
- Delete old or unneeded subquestions (red icon):
Creating new debates and pages
You can create new pages whenever you want on Debatepedia. The basics are to think of a short debate title ("Capital Punishment") and question ("Is capital punishment justified"). Take the title and type it into the "Search Box" and press go. Make sure the debate doesn't already exist, and maybe search a couple similar titles to make sure. At the top of the search results for a page that is not found, you will be presented the option to create a regular page or to create a debate page with pro/con "logic tree" structure pick the later for a debate page or the former for regular pages (argument pages, position pages, encyclopedic articles on events in the debate world...)
What's the mission, why should to edit, and what to aim for?
Debatepedia's has a very important social mission, which we often summarize by saying that it intends to become the "Wikipedia of debate". In brief, Debatepedia is bringing Wikipedia revolutionary wiki model to the most important function of democracy: debate. It is a place for editors, readers, citizens, and decision-makers to frame complicated debates, arguments, and evidence, and to figure out where they stand and take a position. It is only possible to have healthy democracy if citizens can access the rationales for or against key questions facing their countries and the world. Become and editor for these personal and social reasons. See the mission and vision of Debatepedia for a greater understanding of what we are after.
The best way to achieve this mission is to aim in each article and debate toward a very high standard, which we call feature article status. These are exemplary articles on Debatepedia, that abide by Debatepedia's editing policies, and uphold a variety of other quality standards. For debates, it's where all the core arguments are clearly and fairly presented, and the core supporting evidence, quotes, studies, and articles are presented as well. It is also where the positions of the politicians, organizations, country governments, and other key players are presented. Editors that create feature articles are rewarded with awards on their users pages and possible being given steward (administrator) editorial privileges as well as having their article "featured" on the main page of Debatepedia and in the hall of feature articles. See Debatepedia Steward