Open Debate Engine -- Enabling Effective Online Debate
Project Street Address
1325 13th St. NW #21
Project Postal/Zip Code
Will you launch your idea as a business or non-profit?
Web site (url)
Name Your Project
Open Debate Engine -- Enabling Effective Online Debate
Describe Your Idea
What is your idea? What makes it innovative? Why is it important?
Existing public debates on some of our greatest global challenges (Terrorism, Climate Change, Iran's Nuclear Program, etc.) are often shallow or overcome with partisan rhetoric. Effective public policy requires an informed electorate but the technical minutiae and constant back-and-forth can be numbing. The internet has the potential to correct this by allowing for larger numbers of citizens to engage with each other but in practice it tends to reinforce these negative tendencies.
What is needed is not another website where users can argue back and forth but a way for users to work together to build the best-possible version of an argument, then let other users edit and organize these arguments into positions. The goal of the Open Debate Engine project is to create an open-source publishing tool that will enable organizations or individuals to create and manage structured debates on the policy topic of their choosing. For example, a human rights group could setup the software on a new domain 'debateguantanamo.org' and invite others to buildout the best arguments for or against the U.S. policy of indefinite confinement.
Users will also be able to quickly integrate or embed arguments from one site to another so a user who is blogging about Guantánamo could embed an argument from the debateguantanamo.org site on their blog or a user who has setup a 'humanrightsdebate.org' site could pull arguments from the Guantánamo site into their own argument tree. Other users could setup networks or search engines to comb all existing open debate engine sites to help users find the debate they are looking for. Instead of having one site where all debates could occur, this model allows these debates to develop organically -- initiated and maintained by those with the most interest in the topic.
What will be the impact of your idea?
- For individuals or organizations involved in these debates, the software allows them a new platform for enhancing the public debate;
- For students or interested lay-persons, these debate sites would provide a wealth of information on the topic in a structured format;
- For educators, the system could demonstrate good argumentation skills and guide students in how to form sound positions.
Presentation on How Users will use Open Debate Engine:
This Entry is about (Issues)
People: We are looking for ideas from people who can make them happen.
I (Greg Schnippel) am the principal developer and architect of the Open Debate Engine project. I have over 10 years experience writing, developing, and managing web sites, online campaigns, and open-source projects with an emphasis on using the internet for advocacy and social change. I also competed nationally in two-person debate at the high-school and collegiate level as both a participant and coach and authored several textbooks and handbooks on effective argumentation.
I have already launched a demonstration site for this concept at Spacedebate.org. For this test, I focused on the very narrow (and esoteric) topic of space weaponization to experiment with the concept on a less politically charged topic than global warming or the Iraq war. The site has been very successful with hundreds of contributions and thousands of resources posted but it is limited in how much the user can contribute. I've learned from the successes and failures of this site on what is needed for this idea to succeed.
How much will it cost to launch your idea?
The current timeline of the project is to:
- Migrate existing software to the popular open-source Drupal platform to maximize flexibility and longevity of project; (60 hours);
- Buildout new tools to let users more easily export and embed arguments on other platforms, improve editing functionality, and create and share their own cases / position statements (60 hours);
- Do a review of the information architecture and user interface and test with users (40 hours);
- Finish populating new demonstration site on "Policy Responses to Iran's Nuclear Program" and migrate to new platform (20 hours);
- Launch open-source site for project and setup tools for soliciting user / developer feedback (20 hours);
This could be accomplished (working on a part-time basis) for a budget of $10,000 over the next 6 months with the remaining six months of the project devoted to marketing, supporting users and developers, and continuing to build and manage the Iran demonstration site.
Over the long-term, this project would become sustainable following the consulting model used by many other successful open-source projects (ex. CivicCRM, Drupal, WordPress, Gallery, etc.) The product would be available free of charge for all users but if a user or organization needed help getting it setup or customized, they could be charged a nominal consulting fee which would go towards the upkeep and development of the project.
|Spacedebate.org- Single Argument View.jpg||200.07 KB|
|Spacedebate.org - Home Page.jpg||143.38 KB|
|Spacedebate.org - Embedding Arguments on other Sites||25.41 KB|
|Spacedebate.org - Editing Arguments||16.73 KB|
|226 weeks ago Greg Schnippel said: Paul - I think we're definitely on the same page with the necessity of building up a community. For this project, my natural ... about this Competition Entry. - read more >|
|227 weeks ago Paul Evans said: Thanks for that. The community we're most engaged in is in Northern Ireland. Slugger O'Toole is easily the most active political blog in ... about this Competition Entry. - read more >|
|227 weeks ago Greg Schnippel said: Hi Paul - Thanks for the feedback, I'd love to hear more about the project you are working on and what you are trying to achieve. ... about this Competition Entry. - read more >|
|227 weeks ago Paul Evans said: Greg, I work on a very successful high volume political website in Northern Ireland. We have the audience and the capacity to make ... about this Competition Entry. - read more >|