The purpose of MassDebater is to allow two participants to have an organized, civilized, public debate. The public, who are watching and participating, can interact on Social Media and link to 'stats' and ratings. In the end, the public decides who wins the debate and final scores and reviews are posted. Debates can be created, organized, updated, reviewed and shared via links to Social Media. Think of it like the ideosphere's very own ThunderDome. Remember the rules of ThunderDome? "Two men enter, one man leaves." Simple. Direct. To the point. Someone wins, and someone loses.
A Long Time Ago...
There were organized ways to present new ideas, challenge old ideas, and discuss pros and cons of doing things differently. Having a platform for people to ask public questions and defend their own positions created stronger, better arguments.
Old public debates were live. The only knowledge that you had access to is what you remembered or what you had written. No Internet. No smartphones.
Here and now...
There's got to be a better way...
MassDebater (Rules for Internet Debate):
1. Everyone signs up for an account using real names and photos. Celebrities or high profile accounts are "verified" for ID (similar to Twitter). No fake names. No anonymity. If you want to debate, you do it as yourself. The real you.
2. Topic Ideas can be discussed first, and then officially 'proposed'. This creates a New Undebated Topic. Invitations can be sent, along with links to an official topic page which registers response. Once a topic is 'accepted' by a contrarian, the selection and vetting process begins.
- When will debate officially start? (Date / Time)
- What are agreed-upon sources for information?
- What are rejected sources of info? Why?
- What are the agreed-upon 'facts' in the debate?
Both sides write their 'official' argument. They state their case in a simple statement written in layman's terms (no more than a single printed page).
3. After 'opening arguments' are agreed upon, each side has to learn the opposite side's argument well enough to answer questions about it. A neutral (unaffiliated) 3rd party 'judge' makes sure both sides understand each other's argument. (Example: via quiz, interview, or verbal/written assignment). Once a judge is convinced that both sides understand what they're debating, the official arguments are posted to the public Topic page.
4. The public can sign up to participate in the debate. The level of participation is controlled by the debaters. Some options could include:
- View Only (no participation)
- Ask official public questions (Q&A)
- Leave comments or chat
- Live Debate (live audience / realtime interaction)
- Share links to specific info / argument / rebuttal
5. Once the debate starts, the entire data stream is recorded and archived. This includes video, audio, text, images, links, quotes, references, sources, etc. The debate is broken down into smaller chunks and deep-linked for direct access. At the end, the Topic page becomes the 'summary' page for that official debate. Who participated, what the polls indicated, facts, questions, answers, comments and a thumbs up / thumbs down rating system that is tied to individual identity (no bots or brigading armies stuffing the ballot box.) One person gets one vote. That's it.
6. A "lopsidedness" score is calculated too (based on demographics and size of audience participating). Heavily-one sided arguments are displayed with pie charts to indicate percentages of people voting. This way debates which lean heavily one way or another are flagged as "lopsided" and presented as such. Debaters who have a high "lopsidedness score" will be given a chance to expand and diversify their audience and hold the public debate again to increase the balance level. If a high number of mixed demographic authenticated users votes a certain way, it's a more reliable indicator of true public opinion. It all comes down to sample size and demographics.
7. Debate rules would be agreed to before official debate started. The list of acceptable sources and facts would be viewable by everyone. The rules would be different depending on the type of debate (e.g., live event or written word).
- For live debates you'd have to figure out timing, moderation, audio/video, etc. These would be structured after traditional debate methods but, with transparency and accountability. These would probably come later and would be done by professionals or high-profile people.
- Written debates would be executed like a turn-based strategy (TBS) game. Each player would submit their reply, or rebuttal, and the turn would pass to the other player. The end result can only be: win, loss, or tie (and this would be a very rare occurrence where there are tied numbers.) The end of the debate is reached via various methods: a.) both sides agree b.) public decides c.) never-ending (unresolvable) d.) point-based victory
- After the debate is finished, the Topic page becomes the archive site. Debaters can decide whether the public can participate only during the live event, or whether they can continue to participate even after the debate has ended. The Topic page has links to the "stats" of the debate: high level points, rebuttals, number of sources, quotes, final conclusion. There could also be an addendum or update tool for debaters to keep their facts and references current and respond to public questions or comments.
- During the debate, arguments would be broken down to their components. A "sniff test" could be applied to determine if the debater is guilty of using logical fallacies. Using a strawman or an appeal to authority? The public could quote you and point out issues with logic. These sub-points could be voted on too. Did he really use a logical fallacy there? Public says.... YES. Over time, arguments could be improved, fallacies removed and concerns addressed. A new debate could be scheduled again with a more developed argument.
- Points are deducted for things like ad hominem arguments, personal attacks, hostility, language, body language, lies, disinformation, manipulation, etc. If you're acting like a jerk, the public will call you out and deduct points.
- Violence (or inferred violence) towards an opponent is an automatic loss.
- Repeated threats or name-calling results in a banned or negatively-rated account which other people can filter out. Users can block or mute others.
8. At the end, you'll have an 'on the record' debate about ANY topic that is organized, structured, and searchable. Users can share the debates with others or they can fork your topic and start their own version. People are held to facts. Terms are agreed to in advance. There is no way to move the goal posts or engage in ad hominem arguments. Attempting to cheat works against you and reduces your total number of points. The more you cheat the less chance you have to win.
- Blockchain-trackable voting records
- Authenticated users (biometrics)
- Systems to filter, search and sort based on criteria
- API to allow easy embed of debate everywhere
- Facebook plugin / Android / iOS apps
- Offline tools to facilitate live debate
- Anonymize user data
- Monitor abuse / gaming the system
So, yeah, .... if you built it. They will come. *
* (Just give me 1% for royalties, and we're good). 😊