A Tool For Master Debaters

So this website is kinda neat: Debategraph. It's like wikipedia for debates, where users can contribute all the known arguments to various sides of common debates. At first I was worried that lengthy debates would become harder and harder to follow as more and deeper nested trees are created, but it looks like they have some nifty tools for navigating through the stormy seas of argument. My one complaint is that it seems difficult (impossible?) to link directly to individual sub-arguments.

Anyway, check it out.

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A tool for Master 'baters

I'm going to pray that this is a success. It might not be. It's not entirely different from Usenet debate trees, and Usenet is not a great source of hope if you're envisioning a neatly laid out structure. Maybe the key difference is that the whole debate remains editable from beginning to end, including, presumably, the structure.

I checked out the climate change diagram and it looks a bit like stub - i.e., it has a long way to go before really covering the debate. So it's mostly promise and hope right now.

Agreed. It's a clever idea,

Agreed. It's a clever idea, but I wasn't impressed by the current incarnation.


It looks like a solid and promising start for a tool. Searching/querying was weak, and I couldn't easily see a thread of comments on any issue. (Not that there are a lot yet.)

"Debategraph" has less than 1000 hits on Google, so it's hardly even out there. I'm going to write the authors and see what they're thinking.

Thank you

Micah, many thanks for finding and writing about us — and Constant, Scott, and Ladlestein thank you for your feedback too.

We're still in the early stages of development, iterating continuously to refine the usability and functionality of Debategraph, and as you note most of the current maps have plenty of scope for further development before they reach full maturity.

If you are interested, the background to our work is described in more detail here, and if there are features that you would like to see added or aspects of the current design that you would like to see improved, let me know and we will work to integrate them as soon as possible.

A couple of quick notes in response to your observations. It is possible already to link directly to any element or strand of a debate using the Share feature (located near the top right hand corner of the screen, which is also how you generate the code to embed the debate snapshots in blog posts). If you would like me to guide you through this process let me know.

As well as the vertical tree structure, it's possible to cross-relate "horizontally" within and between debates, with the latter enabling semantically linked clusters of debates to emerge as people begin to map interrelated debates.

Co-founder, Debategraph


Micha, apologies for my dyslexic spelling of your name in the comment above.


cool but subjects lame

It looks very cool! However, the subject matter is lacking. No good economics and zero search results for "socialism" or for "anarchy" ... but I guess its just getting started. I will save the link, and check back.

I think there is a very good

I think there is a very good reason there aren't those subjects yet. I'd expect the more typical, well known, tried-and-true debates to be posted first, while the more obscure, arcane stuff like the Socialist Calculation debate to only come much later, if at all.

They will come

I think there is a very good reason there aren't those subjects yet.

Actually I think the main reason for the lack of development is that this is still at the "if you build it" stage of "if you build it they will come". I browsed a few of the diagrams, and almost all the entries I checked were written by David Price - the same guy who dropped in to the comments here.

In any case, I find it to be an impressive bit of programming, and attractively designed, and I would love to have a reference that accomplishes what this intends to accomplish.

obscure, arcane, and primary

Socialist calculation may be obscure to the average web surfer, it is still the difference between famine and totalitarianism in Mao's china and prosperous and free Taiwan.

But, I agree that first come the every day policy debates, and maybe later the core theory.