SimpleDebate: Debating controversial issues

When I have an idea for improving something, it will nag at my mind all the time until I implement it. This was also the case with SimpleDebate. Since I became a member of the german pirate party, it was clear to me, that there is an discussion problem in the pirate party.

It is not like there are no discussions, actually there is a lot of discussion going on. There are mailinglists, wiki, forum and pirate pads (I do not count LiquidFeedback as a discussion tool, because thats one of the things it really isnt IMO). But most of the discussiondo not seem to make any progress. They either get inactive very soon, or they just end up in a lot of trolling. In most cases you have to spend a lot of time to find the good arguments. Hence there is often no discussion at all.

This can seen very clearly at LiquidFeedback. The developers of LiquidFeedback said to themselves when they designed the system, that their objective is not to build a discussion plattform. They only wanted to build a voting tool with a small constructive feedback cycle. So you can set discussion links etc. to the discussion platform you like. But often there is no discussion.

So I started developing SimpleDebate. The idea is to have non-constructive system, which simply aggregates the pro- and contra-arguments. Exactly the part not covered by LiquidFeedback. So anybody can post something and others can answer (like on a mailinglist). But they have to categorize their answer as being supportive or opposing. Each answer itself is again a post to which you can post answers.

This wouldn’t make a useful system, because people could just spam it with unuseful arguments. Some supporting a thesis could just enter a lot of opposing-answers as spam to hide the good opposing arguments. Hence I added a ranking system. Everybody can vote if she thinks some post is good or not. Posts many people like, get shown at the top. Ok, but this doesn’t help either with a spam attack, because a majority could still drown minorities. Hence your votes are only counted if they are on your side. So if you agree with some thesis, your votes on the opposing arguments will just not be counted and vice versa.

I first implemented a test version and hosted it on Google AppEngine: http://simpledebate.appspot.com/

Then I created a initiative in LiquidFeedback to see how many people think this is useful. Because the Feedback was mostly positive, I started writing a version with OpenID support and wich does not need AppEngine to be run. That version is now finished and you can download the war-Archive at sourceforge. You just need to edit some config-files in the war-Archive and you will be ready to run it on your server.

You can find further ideas about discussion software in the pirate-wiki of AG Demokratie.

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One Response to SimpleDebate: Debating controversial issues

  1. continuously i used to read smaller posts which as well clear their motive, and that is also happening
    with this piece of writing which I am reading at this time.

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