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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 logging in

Click on the "log in / create account" button in the upper-right of your screen and enter your basic information. We encourage you to use your real name as your "user name". 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.

Debatepedia is a wiki where anyone can edit; "the Wikipedia of debate"

Debatepedia is a wiki, where you and anyone else in the World can edit anything and build content, with the only restriction that your contributions abide by the Debatepedia editing policies. A wiki allows you to edit any content that others have submitted and allows others, in turn, to edit what you have added. It is the most open and democratic editing environment in existence, and this is precisely why Wikipedia has become such a valuable public resource. Such openness is also why other open-source projects (where anyone can make improvements), such as Firefox and Linux, have been so amazingly successful. Debatepedia simply applies the same open-source, democratic principles and the same wiki technology powering Wikipedia to the most important practice of democracies - debate.

Editing basics

  • Be bold. Don't be afraid to edit. If you make a mistake you or others can revert it through the "history" tab, so be bold.
  • Debatepedia's editing policies in a nutshell
    • 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.
    • Present arguments that have supporting evidence in the form of quotes, studies, articles, and facts referenced to credible sources. Only arguments that can muster supporting evidence from reliable published sources can remain on Debatepedia.

Editing debate pages

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):

Argument pages

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 taken to the new argument page where you can document supporting evidence.

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...)

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 and the Debatepedia project.

We also encourage you to communicate directly with Brooks Lindsay the founder and chief editor of Debatepedia. 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.

Navigating Debatepedia

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.

Also see:

The case for editing on Debatepedia

The first reason to join Debatepedia and begin editing is self-interested. Debatepedia is the ideal way to deliberate on the tough questions that surround us in society, so that we can take firm positions as citizens and vote effectively. This is not only in reading existing Debatepedia articles, but in using Debatepedia to frame the arguments and evidence we come across in newspapers, journals, books, and other places so that we can better deliberate, draw conclusions, assert personal positions effectively within our communities, and vote with confidence.

The second reason for joining Debatepedia as an editor is social. Just as you can benefit from reading pro/con articles and rataionlizing your own position, others benefit from this too. When you write pro/con articles and help break-down and frame a debate on Debatepedia, you are making it easier for other people to think-through that debate, draw conclusions, and act effectively as a citizen.

What are Debatepedia's standards

You and other editors are tasked with moving the articles that you engage on to feature article status. These are exemplary articles on Debatepedia, that abide by Debatepedia's editing policies, and uphold a variety of Debatepedia's highest 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 on argument pages linked out from Debate pages. Feature articles should also have the positions of the all the key, relevant politicians, organizations and activist groups, country governments, and other stakeholders.

Editors that create feature articles are rewarded with awards on their users pages and possible being given 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

See also

  • 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.

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