EDEB8 - Ultimate Online Debating
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Conversation with an EDEB8 critic

Every so often I get emails from people who hate EDEB8, usually because they are actually opposed to debating online more generally. I got permission to publish our conversation on a condition of anonymity. I do try to talk with everyone to see if they have valuable insights to offer with regard to how online debating could be improved. That wasn't so in this case, unfortunately, but I just want to show people that I don't mind getting any feedback at all.

We had an email exchange in which we discussed what the roles of debate sites, judges and debaters ought to be. I think it would also prove valuable to others who might want to understand what online debating is all about.

Here's the short version: he believed debate sites should impose exacting controls on style and formatting of cases, as well as requirements on judges. My philosophy with edeb8, by contrast, is to accommodate all kinds of styles and approaches to debating. Note that I'm not at all opposed to supporting the kinds of requirements this conversation touched on, just imposing them on every single debate. While nothing constructive was reached as a result of these discussions, perhaps this could be a springboard for further ideas and exploration.

The long version is reproduced below. The emails have only been edited to remove content outside of the scope of the general roles given above, as the correspondent also had issues with specific members. Remember if you want to ask me anything, just use the "Contact Us" link in the footer.

For ease of reading, my replies to their emails are in italics.



I am still somewhat confused about the judging. Can all members vote or must you first be selected as a judge based on your qualifications. Long RFDs do not make voting decisions better if they suffer from confirmation bias or in-group/friend bias.

Do the judges look for all forms of plagiarism and cherry-picking and inadequate citing of sources?

There is a member... that copies and past almost everything without properly quoting the material and he has the same debates several times and uses the same arguments and evidence. I think he used the same arguments and evidence at your site on a debate... In the debate here, the opponent forfeited early because he really had no interest. I think 8 or 9 voted for him at your site and did not mention Sargon’s plagiarizing. That might be because his opponent did not finish the debate because it really did not interest him. I find that problematic in that why did he accept the debate.

I have been reviewing the Elo ranking formula... which appears to be flawed. What formula is used at your site.




First of all, though, let me say that my voting system is not perfect... But in the future, I would be surprised if somebody does not try to game the system. I want to make it clear that I am actively developing the site and take feedback from everybody very seriously. My main goal is to create a top-quality formal debating site, and if members request something consistent with that goal, I implement it. This includes the judging system, although no user has ever even challenged it so far.
There's no such thing as a qualification to judge. In the real world, judges for top tournaments are selected by a process of accreditation, which is based not on ability but traineeships. I find this model particularly flawed as essentially the judges who get picked are the ones who most agree with the other judges. This usually leads to in-group bias. But the standards are completely inconsistent throughout the world. Trust me, I could never in the world accredit as an LD judge, yet I accredited for Australs with no prior experience before the first round. I was a chairperson by round three of my first Australs.
I find the term "vote" misleading though. "Votes" are used on polls. "Judgements" are given on debates. I avoid the term vote on EDEB8, and at every step make sure people are aware of what a judge has to do in a debate. This includes posing the questions carefully (there's only three on EDEB8, not eight). I always monitor how the judging system is being used and would contact poor judges to help them improve. But all members can vote.
You wouldn't rate a long RFD highly though if it's obviously biased. You'd rate it low. Everybody has the chance to rate everybody else's votes. The logic is that nobody will be friends with so many people on EDEB8 as to control more than half of the vote ratings. Again, in practice, this has led to what I consider to be highly accurate ratings of votes. This is why I said a very important balance on the whole system is people not ignoring their ratings.
Personally, as a judge, I don't [look for plagiarism etc] unless the opponent points them out. The debaters have to convince me of everything, and I hold both debaters up to a high standard when I'm judging. In a real life debate, I wouldn't either, unless the opponent points those things out. If they do point them out, and they're accurate, that's a huge negative for the speaker. Cherry picking is a hard one. The goal of debate is to convince, and telling the truth is not the only strategy for being convincing (though if caught blatantly lying, that's extremely unconvincing). Personally I don't score that one highly negatively, but of course take that into account. Sources also depends on the debate.
I recognize, however, that others will have different judging styles. That's fine. I respect that. Provided that the judgements are useful and helpful, as opposed to a biased interpretation of who won, I am in favor of it. I'm sure many judges do look for these things.
I should add that if he doesn't have the rights to use certain material, that material is removed and the member spoken to. You must almost always provide attribution if you're claiming fair use of an extended text. However, it's up to users to prove that and point that out. I can't check for plagiarism on every single argument ever posted. If you could provide me with more detail on what exactly he copied and from where he copied it I'd be glad to take action.
Sometimes [using the same arguments and evidence multiple times i]s legitimate. For example, a debater practicing a case for an upcoming prepared tournament would want to run their case against several opponents to test it out. However, you'd probably want to adapt to the arguments your opponent is using. Real life debaters do this too, by the way. Before a major tournament they do the same debates against different teams endlessly. It's frustrating to judge. But I don't think it would be fair to ban the practice.
...a number of voters said exactly what you just said - why did he accept the debate? Or as feedback, saying don't accept debates you won't finish. But you'll notice that the votes on that debate were almost all rated low. That was one of the first debates on the site and most of the judges have improved significantly since then.
...[my elo formula is] remarkably more complex, closer to Elo's original formula, where neither side gets special advantages. This is the PHP function I use on each debater after a debate to calculate their new ELO score:
function elochange($myelo, $theirelo, $result){ $expectedoutcome = 1 - 1/(1+pow(10,($myelo-$theirelo)/400)); $returnvalue = $myelo + 40 * ($result - $expectedoutcome); if($result==1 && $returnvalue<($myelo+5)) $returnvalue=$myelo+5; if($result==0 && $returnvalue>($myelo-5)) $returnvalue=$myelo-5; return intval($returnvalue);}
That's the point of Elo (you'll note that in my system, the winner always gains at least 5 points and the loser always loses at least 5). Elo measures the statistical probability that one debater can beat another. It is not a measure of skill. For example, if I have 100 more Elo points than another debater, that means I am statistically going to beat them in 2/3rds of all debates we have. Look at my Elo score on DDO. I've lost debates because I tend to take on hard ones everybody else claims are impossible to win. Sometimes I win, sometimes I lose, but I find that more fun and challenging. Elo was a statistician, not an expert.
Hope that answers your questions!



The primary question was answered; all members can vote, which is problematic for me.

What is the average, median and mode ages of your members?

I find your comments about the qualification of judges interesting. I am familiar with the debate judging in the IHSA – Illinois High School Association and the Chicago Debate League. All debates are policy debates and judges are trained in how to judge policy debates, e.g., what points must be addressed. When possible, adults are used to judge debates. Of course, most of these debates involve one topic that is debated by all teams during that debate year, including for the final. Then a new policy debate topic is chosen by a committee for the next year.

Obviously, this is not possible for online debates, except possibly requiring all judges to be adults.

http://chicagodebateleague.org/about/contact-us/

http://results.the3nr.com/2010-2011/2011%20Illinois%20State%20Varsity%20CX%20Results.pdf

Comparing live debates with written debates is like comparing apple to oranges. Plagiarism in speeches and live debates can occur; but, it is not the same as copying and pasting huge amounts of text in an online text debates about very complex topics...

As to what a “vote” is or is not. Yes, voting is used in polls, which would reflect opinions. But “voting” is used for almost everything where a winner is declared, except in most sports, except sports that require judging – diving, ice skating, gymnastics, and games, e.g., chess, poker, etc. Calling it judging does not change its character. Voting is used in elections, which reflect opinions about all the qualification of each candidate; the voters are making judgments and evaluations; however, it is usually based solely on confirmation bias.

In the USA in most criminal trials, a jury is composed of 12 members. Federal grand juries have from 16 to 23 members. Each jurist makes a reasoned judgment about the innocence or guilt of the defendant before voting. Each of the 12 to 23 jurists casts a vote. Before you can be a jurist in any trial in the USA, you must be at least 18. This helps ensure a necessary degree of maturity and education about life.

The idea that the minimum number is from 12 to 23 jurists makes sense; it helps ensure fair decisions. I believe that all online debates should require a minimum of at least 12 voters or judges or those debates should not count in the scoring system. And, all voters should be at least 18 years of age.

...Ensuring that all voters are 18 or older is problematic for online debate sites because age verification is not required....why would adults want to join a site that is primarily for teenagers?

...You state, “This includes posing the questions carefully (there's only three on EDEB8, not eight).”

What exactly does that mean? Who is posing what questions? Are you saying that each judge or voter must answer three questions when judging the debate, i.e., did the debaters address those questions in their arguments and evidence? What are those questions? And, how do you ensure that each judge as complied with the judging standards?

I don’t know how many debates are done daily at EDEB8, but for you to monitor all judging would appear to be a gargantuan task.

“Everyone has the chance to rate everybody else’s votes.” Umm, how does that stop a person with hundreds of friends... from having those friends vote for him/her regardless of the better arguments and evidence presented by the opponent?

At your site, how does a clear progression from simple votes... prove anything. Have you analyzed all [their] votes for correctness? Has a panel of judges analyzed all[their]votes for correctness?

...If many EDEB8 voters rate another voter’s votes as poor or inaccurate, is that voter precluded from voting again? Let’s say you talk to that voter repeatedly, but he/she still votes for his friends, what happens then? Is he/she barred from voting?

...Yes, the goal of a debate is too convince; but, if you are plagiarizing and cherry picking and no one spends enough time to figure out that you are cheating because they themselves do the same thing or don’t care, what is the point of debating?

To properly review all arguments and evidence in a 5 round debate with 10,000 characters per debater per round with multiple sources, especially a scientific debate... can take hours, 3 to 5. Very few voters will spend that much time. So, most voters will never figure out what is being plagiarized or cherry picked. Furthermore... you are not qualified to even debate that topic or vote on it. You can usually figure out that 15 year old kids are plagiarizing... All their argument rounds should start with and end with a quotation mark and a source reference, except where they say “thank you.”

If no one at your site has figured out that Sargon is a debate cheat and cherry picks and plagiarizes without properly quoting, then the judging at this site is most likely not much better...

And, you apparently don’t have a problem with members debating the same debate multiple times using the same arguments and evidence for the sole purpose of raising their rankings. In real life debates, e.g., national high school and college debates, of course the same debate is debated by the teams for the entire year until the finals. There are hundreds of high schools and universities competing to win the finals. Then for the next year the policy debate topic is selected for that year. Surely, you are not saying that is the same as members at an online debate site arguing the same debate topic over and over again to increase their rankings.

Maybe, it is just not possible to have fair judging at any online debating sites were debate results are determined by members’ votes. And, it is not practical to have all online debates judged by professional judges that are all 18 years of age or older, especially since no online debate sites require age verification.




I think our differing backgrounds in formal debate adjudication has a lot to do with our disagreements. I won't pretend to be an expert on how US debate tournaments are organised, but more so with Australasian and European styles used in the major international tournaments. As I result, reading through your email, I suspect we each have a fundamental disagreement on what a judgement actually is, and more importantly, what a debate actually is.
I wrote an article long ago defining what I call the five "levels" of voting.
1. Vote bombing - just providing a personal opinion2. Biased - considering only one side's arguments3. Good - considering both side's arguments4. Exceptional - considering all of the arguments on both sides in detail5. Constructive - providing useful feedback to both sides on that basis
I use that scale because the ultimate goal of judging is not to reach a result fairly - I would call that merely a "good" judgement. Voting should be a learning tool to help debaters improve for next time. This is where I think our disagreement is. You expect voters to think about the logic and rational behind the arguments of both sides - in foreign formats doing something like that when deciding a winner could get a judge disqualified. Judges can never make an argument for a debater. The winner is therefore only determined on the basis of the convincing-ness of the logic presented in the debate. Gaps in logic the judge notice might form a part of the judge's feedback though. They're part of how a debater can improve their case, and things that their opponents should have pointed out.
I would never vote for a political office like that. I would think about the politician's statements critically but openly. And I think that's how you approach debates as well. Correct me if I'm wrong.
Nevertheless, I will say that debating is, like football, inevitably going to be played by different rules all over the place. That extends itself to judging models. One of the fine balancing acts I recognize I have to try to juggle is that debaters used to BP will be offended if the judge inserts themselves into the debate, and Policy debaters will be offended if the judge does not. Therefore, I deliberately made EDEB8 accessible to a wide variety of judging styles. Ultimately, a truly convincing debater should be able to convince judges from just about any background, provided that those judges are open about what they are looking for to help the debater learn and improve. There's inherent risks with that, but I believe it's superior to a debate site only for users of one particular style.
I know that bit doesn't directly answer any of your questions, but I think it's important context to bear in mind. I'll get on to some of the specific things you mention...
"What is the average, median and mode ages of your members?"No idea, because EDEB8 does not require members to give their date of birth. I can tell you that the median age is "unspecified".
I will say that I don't agree with making the assumption that young=ignorant. If there is a clear-cut reason why young people cannot be good judges, then I'll look into that, but to me I don't understand the rationale you have. I was judging debates regionally before I turned 18 (granted, I was 17, but the principle holds). Furthermore, how on earth would I check? People can list any date of birth online that looks even moderately legitimate, as you know. I hope you don't mind then if I deal with this next point out of the order you wrote it:
"This helps ensure a necessary degree of maturity and education about life."Your issue isn't a lack of maturity or education about life, it's confirmation bias. In my experience, confirmation bias affects adults more than young adults, because young adults are less likely to have strong opinions and are more easily prone to manipulation by a skilled rhetorician. I'm curious, however, about why a judge's experience should be relevant at all, provided that they know how to judge properly. Are debaters in your styles supposed to appeal to prior experience? Because it seems that if so, there could be an opportunity for me to provide an option for a filter in the debate setup options, to restrict who can judge the debate (based on their self-reported information, so it's sort of futile, but I can't see what more I could do with that). Wouldn't be something I personally agree with, but I suppose if it helps accommodate your debate style I'd be happy to add it. Should I? Which brings me to this point:
""Ensuring that all voters are 18 or older is problematic for online debate sites because age verification is not required."What possible age verification could I require? Scanned passports that I send through to interpol to check every time? There's no international mechanism for verifying a person's age, nor is there even a way that works in the majority of cases without posing a huge hassle for users...
"I doubt that you would ever have a live debate about that topic"You'd be surprised the kinds of topics we get sometimes... but in general you're right. The internet does afford an opportunity to do more research on, and to think more about one's opponent's statements. I think that's a great thing. But we also need to realize that increases the opportunities to attempt to cheat. As the mantra is in many other codes, it's only cheating if you get caught. Insofar as my role as a judge is to evaluate the arguments made in the debate to provide a decision, catching cheaters is something I consider outside of my role as a judge. But of course, if they are caught cheating, including plagiarizing, then that destroys their whole case. Naturally, I completely understand if you find that wrong. As I said, my goal is to allow good, fair and helpful judges from all walks of debating life to operate.
I consider this quite different from, say, vote bombing. Not noticing plagiarizing in my view can still be a level 5 vote if it helps both sides improve and is fair. But a vote bomb is bad no matter what you say to justify it.
"I believe that all online debates should require a minimum of at least 12 voters or judges or those debates should not count in the scoring system."Real life debates I'm familiar with are usually judged solo, and judges are never fired mid-tournament no matter how badly they do (once they accredit). Finals are usually judged in panels of 9, semis in panels of 5, and top debates in panels of 3. I would personally be satisfied with one good vote, but not 12 mediocre ones...
"This includes posing the questions carefully (there's only three on EDEB8, not eight)...What exactly does that mean?"With voting, there are 3 things judges need to answer on edeb8. This is much closer to actual judge's ballots in most tournaments.
"What are those questions?"By the way, these questions are carefully constructed in consultation with other professional judges to encourage poor voters to leave just one point, and good voters to leave four. They have been extraordinarily successful at this...
"And, how do you ensure that each judge as complied with the judging standards?"The what now? There are judging standards!? Please, do educate me on where I can find the internationally applicable set of rules for all debate judges. I know policy has their own set of rules but very few competitions are like that. British Parliamentary, the most popular format in the world, has next to none. In fact Oxford BP debates are typically just judged by the applause level of the audience.
"Umm, how does that stop a person with hundreds of friends from having those friends vote for him/her regardless of the better arguments and evidence presented by the opponent?"Because there are more than 200 users who view the vote who are not the user's friend. As I said in my last email, I recognize this isn't always a fair assumption, but I think the cases that it doesn't hold true for would be isolated enough that I can work through them on a case-by-case basis. To date this has never happened on edeb8, so far as I am aware.
"If many EDEB8 voters rate another voter’s votes as poor or inaccurate, is that voter precluded from voting again? Let’s say you talk to that voter repeatedly, but he/she still votes for his friends, what happens then? Is he/she barred from voting?"More likely banned from the site altogether, but long before that happens I can guarantee they will opt to just leave one point decisions instead of 4-point...
"if you are plagiarizing and cherry picking and no one spends enough time to figure out that you are cheating because they themselves do the same thing or don’t care, what is the point of debating?"To have fun arguing things. I've learned the hard way to always work out when one is cheating from my opponent's arguments. Based on this and your next paragraph, you reaffirm my belief that to you, debating is about figuring out what the best alternative, or right answer is. I'll be fair in saying that it does seem like a lot of policy debating is structured around that. But at its core debating is a much bigger picture.
Let me give you an example. I once lost a debate at BP nationals because a judge inserted themselves into the debate by claiming that my position that "Sudan has a piracy problem" is absurd because Sudan is a landlocked country. Notwithstanding the judge's complete ignorance of geography, my opponents hadn't even made that argument. The reason why judges are not meant to insert themselves into the debate is that the debaters can't respond to the judge's claims, but rather only their opponent's. Luckily I was able to bar that judge from judging at the next year's tournament. To my mind, the fact that the judge happened to be factually inaccurate is irrelevant. Even though online we can do a lot more research on facts, debating relies only on truth insofar as the truth is convincing.
A lot of younger debaters think they need to know a million facts and be extremely well versed in logic in order to win. In fact, among junior teams, the best teams are usually those that distort the truth and use different debating tricks effectively. At that age they generally haven't worked out how to respond to them yet. Although I think debating raises intelligence as you become more experienced in it, it actually has very little to do with being right at its core.
"And, you apparently don’t have a problem with members debating the same debate multiple times using the same arguments and evidence for the sole purpose of raising their rankings."It's almost impossible to prove that the sole purpose is to raise their rankings. I debated things online before prepared tournaments all the time...
"Maybe, it is just not possible to have fair judging at any online debating sites were debate results are determined by members’ votes. And, it is not practical to have all online debates judged by professional judges that are all 18 years of age or older, especially since no online debate sites require age verification."Depends what you call fair. Giving far consideration to the arguments on both sides is what I call fair, giving biased consideration towards the side that happens to be right when you investigate all the sources in detail is what I gather you call fair. In general I think debates are a poor source of facts. Read Wikipedia if you want to see young people writing up things they think they know in a factual manner. Debate is not essay writing. But to me, debates not being accurate and debates not being fair are totally different.
"that is fine, but you have to use quotation marks when you do quote him and use his words, and, you must cite the link to the source"This is what you would do in an essay. His quotation here is short and clearly qualifies as fair use. The fact that it was accurate and attributed disqualifies it as being plagiarism. I'll be open with you that while I always paraphrase, I don't always give away sources unless asked for them. I approach debating online like I am giving a speech... it's not plagiarism if I were to write simply, for example: "All the world's a stage, and all the people merely players" - Shakespeare (without mentioning his first name, the play he wrote that in etc)...
Let me say this in closing. I don't mean to offend, or sideline your views on how debates ought to operate... I would never blame you for that. Likewise I hope you can understand that what you see as cheating, I simply see as junior-level debating... What you just said in your email is merely extremely constructive feedback to me.
Please don't take that as a negative response though. I do want to maintain the site to remaining open to all judging styles. But I would like to use whatever means possible to keep judging standards high while not excluding good judges with a moderately different understanding of debate. The reality of online debating is that you have to put up with different styles, techniques and principles from all around the world. That may not sit well with purists who like to stick to particular formats or ideologies of how debates are conducted. But ultimately, that generates a global celebration of intercultural learning and exchange that's very valuable for the world.



I haven’t been at your site enough to know how it is funded and whether you have hundreds of advertisements running 24-7... Do you?

Are you a wealthy debate philanthropist devoted to the art of debating or a dot.org opportunist or combination of the two?

...We will have to agree to disagree about what debating is about and what constitutes cheating. Live policy debates are much easier to judge. You seem to be dwelling on live debates and somehow are saying that the rules for live debates are the same as for text debates online. They are not.

The Chicago Style manual should not be optional on how to quote or reference material, articles, books, etc.; and, if the kids at online debate sites can’t learn what those rules are; they should be posted, and if not followed, an automatic loss; and if not followed by both debaters, debate cancelled.

But, wouldn’t that hurt membership?

Yep!

So, there is the conundrum. Is increasing membership more important or solid honest quality debates? You can’t have both easily.

Would the quality of debates improve? You bet they would! Would it be harder to plagiarize? Yes it would. Are those not laudable goals? Well, at college universities they are. But those lofty goals are not needed at online debate sites where most members are teenagers.

You seem to be trivializing all the qualities I believe are important in debates...

Are terms like intellectual honesty now archaic?

Is solid verifiable evidence not sacrosanct for online text debates?

How can citing books that the voters can’t read on the internet be valid? Unless the debater sends copies of all those books to the voters or allows them weeks to order than from college libraries, those sources should not be allowed. How can that possibly be considered honest and valid? If almost all that debater’s arguments and quotes are form those books, how can any member vote for that debater without verification? Well, they can’t. So, the conclusion is that those qualities are not important in debates between teenagers at online debate sites.

Snake oil salesmen never have had intellectual honesty, but they were convincing.

Snake oil salesmen, like Bas Lansdrop (Mars One), are good at convincing but that does not make them honest or right...

I think debating on the internet is a waste of time for adults, which is why these sites are composed mainly of teenagers or people under 25...

I would create a site where you could only join with a credit/debit card where that had to be verified, which would eliminate most teenagers. This is done for online legal poker sites in Nevada to ensure that only players that are 21 or older play. But, why would I bother creating an online debate site. I see no value whatsoever in online debate sites.

[dot org] must make enough to pay domain and software fees, and some return for the owners or why have them?




Honestly, I'm glad for the feedback. I think it's super-useful for me to better understand what others are thinking.
"Are you a wealthy debate philanthropist devoted to the art of debating or a dot.org opportunist or combination of the two?"
Edeb8 has no advertising. It generates no revenue or income. It is privately owned. I pay for it all out of my own pocket, essentially by keeping my expenses low. I can tell you the site's annual operating expenses are projected to be about $70 NZD. Nope, that's not an error. In fact I'm trying to get the site incorporated as a not-for-profit charity, but that always takes some time in this country, especially since I can't afford legal fees.
"You seem to be dwelling on live debates and somehow are saying that the rules for live debates are the same as for text debates online. They are not."
There's no need to reinvent debating in my view. Different sites have tried different approaches to making debating work in cyberspace... today the experience can be much better approximated through sites like edeb8. That experience is also why so many people flock to team debates, video debates etc.
"if the kids at online debate sites can’t learn what those rules are; they should be posted, and if not followed, an automatic loss; and if not followed by both debaters, debate cancelled."
Do you understand the difference between a competitive essay writing site and a debate site? If so, what do you think that difference is? Serious question.
"Is increasing membership more important or solid honest quality debates?"
So a debate with bad grammar cannot be solid, honest and quality? How so? This seems akin to the practice, many decades ago, of excluding debaters with strange accents or lisps from formal competitions. There are people on edeb8 for whom English isn't even their first language, but they make a decent effort. You really think it's fair to give them an automatic loss if they get verb agreement wrong once? I write things like I speak them (that's just my writing style). Look at this email. Count the number of incomplete sentences. In fact, look at your email. I could find at least a dozen ways to disqualify your opinion just on a cursory glance if grammar mattered so much...
For me, I care about membership only insofar as that means serious debaters have people to debate against. I'm not interested in thousands of pageviews per day like ddo gets, not least because my server wouldn't handle that well. I've marketed edeb8 directly to people interested in serious formal debating.
"Are those not laudable goals? Well, at college universities they are."
I'm a graduate from the top university in the country. I was a champion debater there. I'm not making any of this up and can back up these claims with evidence if you like. I know that what I would say in a debate room is very different from what I would say in a formal assignment. Academia is about studying facts, without bias or persuasion. Debate is about proposing ideas convincingly for the topic and side assigned. The same is true of high school debate, by the way. At school, kids learn facts. At debate, kids learn to win arguments.
By the way, isn't your claim that online and real debate are different really disingenuous if you also claim online and real formal writing is the same?
"I totally disagree with you that the purpose of a debate is only to convince, especially text debates on the internet."
I'm curious. What do you think it is?
"Are terms like intellectual honesty now archaic?"
All terms are context-dependent. You can use a lack of intellectual honesty against your opponent in a debate. You are not mandated to look at it as a judge if it's not brought up in a debate.
"Is solid verifiable evidence not sacrosanct for online text debates?"
Why would it be? Again, this is an honest question. I'm trying to understand what you think debates are supposed to achieve.
"How can citing books that the voters can’t read on the internet be valid?"
...The point of sources ought to be to provide attribution and, if challenged (or in case it is), validation for facts. If somebody else has a better source for their facts, then judges can look to that to determine who is more likely to be right. But the opponent needs to make that argument.
That's how it can be valid. It does not need to be like that. You can judge stuff however you like on edeb8, provided debaters find it useful and constructive. The approach I just described, however, cannot be called intellectually dishonest. It merely shifts the onus of verifying the argument from the judge to the debater.
"Snake oil salesmen, like Bas Lansdrop (Mars One), are good at convincing but that does not make them honest or right."
I pass no judgement on Bas, since I really don't know. But I do know that debates have never been judged on who is the most honest or correct. Suppose I had to defend a resolution that I knew for a fact was wrong, in some big tournament. Would you call on me to resign because of the luck of the draw? Is that fair to me? Bas chose the claims he made. Snake oil sellers chose to sell their miracle cures. But in a debate, your hand is forced. This is why debating has never in history implemented a rule like this.
"But, from what you have said, that is irrelevant at your site too, as long as the voters are convinced."
There's a difference between me forcing it to be relevant and it being irrelevant. It's irrelevant to me as a voter, but I don't force it to be irrelevant on other voters. I respect all judging styles that yield useful outcomes for encouraging the growth of debaters in their craft.
"I think debating on the internet is a waste of time for adults"
That's fine. As an adult I think online poker is a waste of time, but I don't bash the rules. Debating, in my view, is a useful skill. Win or lose. And it's a lot of fun.
"They must make enough to pay domain and software fees, and some return for the owners or why have them?"
...the reason for having debate sites is rarely financial. I see real value in debate for both personal development and positive intercultural communication. I won't spend time debating what you should believe in. But I want you to understand why I, as an adult, fundamentally don't accept that view.



You are again distorting what I said. And, what the Hades does competitive essay writing have to do with properly quoting other people’s words, books, etc. in an online text debate? Do I know the difference. What is your college degree in? And, yes that fact does matter! You insult me by going there.

I never mentioned bad grammar once, which I am defining as improper sentence structure, e.g., run-on sentences, improper punctuation between two independent or dependent clauses, etc. I mentioned properly citing sources in online text debates. And, I never claimed it had to be as formal as when writing a PhD dissertation.

I brought up the Chicago Manual of Style only for how sources, e.g., books, articles, magazines, internet links should be cited, even per internet text debates. There is no logical reason for not properly referencing sources and quotes, unless you don’t care. It appears that... you don’t think it is important...

And, I actually was not aware of competitive essay writing on the internet; if member are allowed to vote versus professional judges, it too must be pure BS. And, $60.61 USD is very cheap. No advertising sounds great.




I don't mean to offend anybody. I am just trying to understand your expectations of edeb8 and online debating in general. Sorry for any offence I caused.
"And, what the Hades does competitive essay writing have to do with properly quoting other people’s words, books, etc. in an online text debate?"I want to understand what you think the difference is. My expectation of almost all of what you write a formal debate should look like... is what I'd find in a formal essay. So I really want to know whether you expect all online debates to be like a series of formal essays written by experts on the subject. You do say "I never claimed it had to be as formal as when writing a PhD dissertation", but apparently you expect sources to be cited as formerly, and even want to limit what sources are considered acceptable to those one can rapidly just click on, digest, and still somehow know are authoritative.
"What is your college degree in?"Bachelor of Commerce with double major in Marketing and Management. Interested to knowwhy you think this matters.
"I never mentioned bad grammar once, which I am defining as improper sentence structure, e.g., run-on sentences, improper punctuation between two independent or dependent clauses, etc."Probably because of your interesting definition. Grammar is the whole system and structure of language in general. So when you say stuff like "...also doesn’t put quotations marks around exactly what [they are] quoting" that's generally considered a grammar error (that he made, not your weird double plural - also, I know that technically it's also "improper punctuation between two ... dependent clauses" but I'm sure you see my point). [note: this section has been edited out as it was extremely critical of one member in particular, as opposed to a more general site issue]
"It appears that ... you don’t think [citing sources] is important."...I'm sure many voters on edeb8 would take exactly that sort of thing into account. All I'm saying is that I don't want to impose it. Different people place emphasis on different parts of the overall argument, but that doesn't mean they're not fair or good voters.
"And, I actually was not aware of competitive essay writing on the internet; if member are allowed to vote versus professional judges, it too must be pure BS."Different expectations yields different results.



Please let’s dispel with the nonsense.

How hard would it have been for... anyone to site the titles and author of those books. Or, the title and author of the other links he used?

He cherry picket and misrepresented facts. Here is just one example...I have page more on this and spend days analyzing it .

I will address you other points later, but these type of scientific debates should be restricted to member with advance degree in physics, not 15 year olds that have no clue that they are talking about.


Again, this presumes your model of debating. The way I learnt it, the aim of debating is not to be accurate and true, but to be convincing. If Sargon deliberately didn't say those things because they would be damaging to his position, then that might be a risky strategy but still a valid one.
It's probably not so much that voters are incapable of critical analysis. It's more that they don't consider it their role to do that, but rather the debater's. One of the most important responsibilities a debate coach has in most of the world is to teach their students to think critically.
"I will address you other points later, but these type of scientific debates should be restricted to member with advance degree in physics, not 15 year olds that have no clue that they are talking about."Only if you accept the principle that a person should not be allowed to be wrong in a debate.
Most of the rest of the email you've already told me.
Look, what's the worst possible harm here? ...I mean, nobody should ever imagine debates are a source of facts. I've seen debates by top scientists rife with confirmation bias for the purpose of winning the immediate debate. Consider political debates as a commonplace example of this. How many times do politicians actually speak the truth in those? They just want to sound convincing at the time, and many are really good at it.
I highly suggest you actually watch some top-level World's debates and spot all the logic errors, misdirections, unsourced statements, and made-up facts or lies. I imagine you'd be shocked. Debating has always been like that. Take any historical final there's a video for. Other debaters in the debate have to have the skill to analyse those things critically. You'll note that the teams that win are not always the ones that are the most absolutely logically correct. And these are the top debaters and judges in the world!

Debating is something that requires valid information and sources.

“National Forensic Association”

“EVIDENCE IN DEBATE”

“Students should only use evidence that is accurate and thoroughly referenced in their speeches. (ALL EVIDENCE MUST BE FROM A PUBLISHED SOURCE, AVAILABLE TO THE PUBLIC, AND VERIFIABLE AT THE TOURNAMENT.)”

http://www.nationalforensics.org/lincoln-douglas-debate/ld-rules

Although these are live debates, there would be no reason to assume that the evidence rules would change for an online text debate.

So, I don’t know where you are getting your information about sources; maybe debates are done differently in Australia or whatever country you are from.

Honesty and or truth require proper citing of all sources and quotation marks around everything that is not yours. Convincing is important, but is meaningless if you are a cheat. Again, snake-oil salesmen are convincing...

Who actually posted the rules for this debate?... Is that how all debates are at your site? The instigator sets the rules. The site should set the rules, not the instigator. Never heard of that in my debate life. The rules should be simple. 1. Pick a topic, 2. Debate it. 3. Properly post all sources and quote all information you are copying and pasting from internet sources, books, articles, etc. The topic of the debate should state the proposition.

Am I expecting too much from online debating? Not really; but, no site is willing to do what is needed to be a legitimate online text debating site...

I see now, you actually only have 150 members and you opened on November 2013. There have only been 51 completed debates. This would explain why your annual cost of operation is only about $62 US. I suspect that if your membership does start to grow, you will eventually have to resort to advertising...

I copied and pasted your “Top Judges in the World” list into Excel. On that list are 150 judges. 120 of those top judges have a 0% score and no votes. I guess the ranking is based on number of votes, but appears to be inaccurate because some judges at the bottom of list have votes but zero percentages, the person in ranked 142... has a 0% and 2 votes; there are 44 people above him that have a 0% and no votes. I guess there must be something missing from that list on how the ranking are determined. I think keeping this judge ranking system going as your membership grows from 150 to tens of thousands will be problematic.




Hey,

I'm from New Zealand, not that it matters. On an online debate site, one has to be accepting of all kinds of formats and styles. It's like when Americans automatically dislike people who don't spell words the same as they do. Ultimately it's a bit pointless. Edeb8 has been specifically designed so you can set it up for more formats than any other debate site. It even supports LD debates with live text-based crossfire, among other world firsts. But that doesn't mean that every debate must be set in the same way. If you want to make a site exclusively for LD debate, be my guest. I'll even give you my site's source code so you can get a head start. But a site that supports more formats and encourages people from more places around the globe to join and practice is in my view far more valuable.
"Debating is something that requires valid information and sources."As I mentioned right at the outset, I'm not at all an expert on American forms of debating. One thing I do know is that LD puts a lot of emphasis on prepared arguments and usually has a lot of quoted material. The stipulation in the same guide that "In both prepared speeches and speeches composed with limited preparation time, debaters should use evidence that is accurately and directly quoted.", for example, would be impossible in impromptu formats (ie 90% of the debating that happens globally).
Nevertheless, if this had been an LD debate to be judged by LD standards I would agree with you. Don't assume that every debate on the internet will fit with the format you have specified. World Schools, Australs, British Parliamentary, American Parliamentary etc are all examples of competitions where this rule does not hold.
But note this important thing I think you've missed about the LD rules: it's up to the opposing team to make a claim of an ethics violation. The judge may not declare evidence to be invalid, the opposing team must do so. So the burden still falls on the debaters, not the judges, even in LD. I stand by my claim that never has formal debating ever allowed judges to participate in the debate, be that by calling evidence invalid or any other way. It would be like if a judge was also a prosecutor in the same trial. So essentially LD also agrees with me - it's the debaters that actually need to make the argument.
"there would be no reason to assume that the evidence rules would change for an online text debate"Wasn't it you who was saying just 2 emails or so ago that I shouldn't assume online debate is like real life? Interesting how things come around like that.
"Honesty and or truth require proper citing of all sources and quotation marks around everything that is not yours."First of all, I'm not sure that's actually true. Suppose somebody paraphrases an idea that isn't theirs.
And second, I don't accept that debating is about finding the truth. Again, you are free to believe debating will give you two well-researched and authoritative opposing perspectives about something, but ultimately I guarantee that you'll find yourself disappointed.
"Convincing is important, but is meaningless if you are a cheat. Again, snake-oil salesmen are convincing."And you don't believe that in the topic "this house would purchase snake oil", the convincing snake oil salesperson would win? If not, then please describe how they can possibly win if there aren't actually any benefits to snake oil. And if it follows their defeat in the motion was a foregone conclusion, please elaborate on how you think debating is fair...
"Who actually posted the rules for this debate? Sargon? Is that how all debates are at your site? The instigator sets the rules."Not always. The site also posts "random challenges" with randomized rules. When the site itself is not the instigator, however, the instigator can set the rules. This allows them, for example, to say they want to have the debate in LD style or anything else.
"The rules should be simple. 1. Pick a topic, 2. Debate it. 3. Properly post all sources and quote all information you are copying and pasting from internet sources, books, articles, etc."Where we have a disagreement is whether these should be rules binding on debaters or rules binding on judges. It is my claim that debaters need to be the ones to call out dishonest behavior in the debate.
"Can your debaters use the “comments” section to post more arguments and evidence about their debates?"Although voters can do what they want, it is specifically pointed out to debaters on the site not to argue in the comments section, and to voters not to change their votes because of any pressure from debaters. If there were a debater demonstrating a clear pattern of doing this I would take action.
"I suspect that if your membership does start to grow, you will eventually have to resort to advertising like DDO. If that happens, I don’t see how your site will be any different than DDO."I have made three promises with regard to edeb8: it will stay online, it will never have any advertising, and membership will never cost money. I keep my promises. There are funding models outside of these three things I have looked at, including voluntary donations, but even that's not looking necessary right now for at least four years... Even during periods of high activity, however, my site has proven extremely resilient. Currently we have at max about 5 members online, but I've done tests with about 50 online and it runs fine on the current setup...
I'm hoping the site doesn't grow too much. I only want serious debaters, and the more it grows the harder it is for me to develop and moderate the site as a part-time hobby. Therefore I'm trying to make serious debaters aware that it exists but keeping it from being popular enough to attract trolls and such. I take my responsibilities as the site administrator very seriously.
In short, advertising is off the table for funding models. Several users have actually asked me to add ads to fund even more features, but I've always said no, and always will. They're annoying for users, a pain to maintain, difficult to moderate, and don't even generate that much revenue compared to other methods. All around a bad deal.
"I guess the ranking is based on number of votes, but appears to be inaccurate because some judges at the bottom of list have votes but zero percentages, the person in ranked 142... has a 0% and 2 votes; there are 44 people above him that have a 0% and no votes."No, that's accurate. Users are ranked by score multiplied by votes. A 0% score means unrated. Until they have been given feedback on their judgments they don't appear near the top. I considered removing all the users from the list who had scores of 0 to avoid confusion but some others gave me feedback that they didn't understand why they didn't appear at all in the top judges list.
"I think keeping this judge ranking system going as your membership grows from 150 to tens of thousands will be problematic."The site won't get tens of thousands, I promise you... Even so, I don't do the ranking algorithm manually, it's done automatically by the server. With the amount of caching the server does I can assure you this part of the site will never be a problem. If there is ever something that performs poorly it will likely by the chat system or something similar that's memory intensive for the server...
Let's not be cynical about this though. I'm trying to think of what would be useful and constructive for resolving this. Perhaps, an option when setting up the debate, requiring links to everybody on the internet whom you took things from? Perhaps I could partner with an anti-plagiarism checker? Please feel free to comment your suggestions...
PS. the only thing that I'm not open to is anything that limits what styles or systems are allowed. But adding support for debaters who do wish for an experience closer to what you described is fine. I'm just not going to universalize it.



We will have to agree to disagree. However, what I said about evidence and sources is right on the money and how it should be...

I don’t think online debating will grow much, except among kids.

Are you plotting your rate of growth? It does not appear that much is happening at your site. Have the members told you way?

Good luck and goodbye.




[final note: edeb8 has grown 350% from Jan-Mar this year, without any significant demographic shift]


So there you have it folks! If you've made it this far, why not leave your thoughts in the comments?


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Comments

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nzlockieComment posted by nzlockie
2014-04-04 08:55:23
Haha, I made it this far! Nearly lost me in the middle though...

PinkieComment posted by Pinkie
2014-04-04 15:49:35
I think he was talking about me in the beginning, hahaha....
BlackflagComment posted by Blackflag
2014-08-19 09:05:32
Woah, I skipped out halfway.