If we're going to have more formal debates we should probably discuss how to hold them properly, so that'll be what this thread is for: thrashing around ideas for the logistics of this thing, in the hopes we can come to a consensus.
I'd say the team sizes isn't really too much of a concern, so long as it's not too unwieldly, they should probably be equal teams, although I see no reason why there can't be some sort of one-vs-many bouts.
The way we debated in college was this: Two teams of two members debated a motion, with one side for the motion and the other against, the order o speaking would go as follows: The 1st member of the "for" team would speak, then the 1st member of the against team would speak, then 2nd member of the for team, 2nd member of against team. Each person would speak for seven minutes, and after the first minute of speaking had passed, the opposition would be allowed to interject with questions or "points of information."
After these initial rounds, the debate would be opened to the floor for the audience to ask questions, and then, a member from each team would have four minutes to sum up their arguments, and answer questions.
I personally think that this style of debate wouldn't transfer too well to online debating, but it's just an example, hopefully other people will come up with some better ideas.
This is my suggestion for the format:
Someone posts a topic and states if they are for or against it and gives their first argument. The first post should also include a definition. Someone else counters the first argument. We continue going back and forth, following the rule that if one side has posted, then they must wait until the other side has responded before posting again. At any point if someone sees an invalid argument (usually because of a logical fallacy) they point it out, and the person who stated the invalid argument must fix it. If the argument just isn't sound (incorrect claim, etc.) then that is up to the next poster to prove. If three days pass without a post, the debate is considered over and group members (preferably ones who didn't actually debate) state who they think did a better job and explain why, as well as giving both sides constructive criticism.
I think expanding on that, fixed teams of I'd say no more than three, going in some sort of order, to stop debates turning into the kind of stupid free-for-all we're trying to avoid.
Also, fixed length, otherwise debates could go on forever, perhaps one opening statement each followed by 3-5 alternating replies each, Each post shouldn't amount to more than, say, 2000 words.
If I may interject...I think there should be some rules on how to post. For example, o replies (the red button on the bottom of each post that says "Reply"), each person posts his/her point in a new post on the thread. They confuse me :(
I propose we always reply to the original post, that should order them properly, if we all stick to that rule, it will keep it uncluttered and cause a minimum of confusion.
And how should we divide into teams?
Perhaps we could have one discussion page where people suggest a topic and others can express their interest and their preferred team, and once we have teams we can start a separate discussion for the actual debate? Maybe have a minimum of one and a maximum of four per team? I don't think it matters if the teams are even.
Agreed. One topic for organising the debate and one for the debate proper.
I think there should also be an adjudicator of sorts, to make the first post of the debate introducing the topic, as well and just generally keeping things running. I guess they could also work as a deciding vote in the event of a tie.
So we seem to have some idea of how this is going to work sorted out, anyone got any ideas for our first topic?
What we'll discuss will matter on where your from and what areas people care about. Technology, Business and vaguely politics interest me. Recent news should be a good source for debate, though I think US news would dominate this, and as I'm a Brit my well founded reasoning's on tuition fees and the Falklands among others would get little informed debate (for now at least)
For a start ACTA and CISPA could be a starting point of law's for the internet. At the moment I'm slightly for these.
Others in the/my news that I like are Formula 1 in Bahrain, Japan's power cuts Vs using nuclear power and do video games cause aggression.
OMG! You support ACTA?! You bastard! You're going down Mister ;D
Hey, slightly in favour. I set up the discussion to explain. (ah, good old controversy)