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Debate forum rules and guidelines

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posted on Apr, 28 2003 @ 07:56 PM
The debate forum is a concept we've discussed in the Cosmic forum for some time... a place for quality back-and-forth structured debate on contemporary, provocative and important topics that are at the forefront of ATS topical discussions. However, not until the forum code-base was properly under complete control and on a dedicated server did this concept really make sense. We already have dozens of new hacks to the code, what's one more?

The rules here will be similar to any formal debate you've seen or heard about. In general, it's very simple. Members allowed to debate are assigned a "Debater" status by Administration, and allowed to post.

Posts in the debate forum should not exceed 800 words, if you can't make a singular point in fewer works, you should not be attempting an online interactive debate.

A chair (forum staff) will begin the debate by introducing the teams (or individuals) and announcing the topic.

Points of information (links) may only be offered every third post from either team or individual. Points of information may only be given to opposing teams and should generally be not more than two links per post. Once you have accepted a point of information you can't just ignore it and carry on. You must deal with it or risk the forum's wrath.

Points of order concerning the procedure of the debate must be addressed to the chair. These can be brought at any time and take priority over all other posts. However these are only used in exceptional circumstances when the rules and standing orders are being abused and the speaker making the point must be certain that the point of order is appropriate. Any abuse of points of order will be penalised by adjudicators and in general these are avoided by most speakers.

Speakers must observe ATS Terms and Conditions, i.e. bad language is not permitted and is considered automatic loss of debate.

If the debate is limited to a fixed number of posts, the last posted on each side is expected to sum up his/her side's argument and rebutt or refute the arguments of the other side while maintaining the 800 word-per-post maximum. Generally this speaker will not add a great deal of new information to the debate.

Rebuttal is vital in any competitive speech. Any argument left unchallenged is allowed to stand.

Heckling is also common in some debates. This involves members of the forum offering some good humoured abuse to the competitors in the chit chat section of the site. However there is a fine line between heckling and barracking and members of the audience should remember to respect the speaker. Heckling can be scary at first but you will soon get used to it.

Remember you do not necessarily have to believe the side of the motion you are on. You just have to make it appear as though you strongly believe in it 800 words at a time. In competitive debates you will have very little choice as to which side of a motion you get.

If you can use humour it can be extremely effective in a debate. You can ridicule and destroy an opponents whole post with a one line joke attacking it. But don't go over the top, while humour helps, adjudicators may not be impressed by stand up routine with little substance. Although humour can be an advantage don't worry if you can't crack a joke to save your life (or speech).

If you are engaged in an online interactive debate here at Above Top Secret, you are expected to commit to responding to your opponent. Responses of greater than 24 hours after your opponents post are frowned upon, and if the time lag exceeds 36 hours, the point is forfeit. You may petition the forum staff for extenuating circumstances, and if you opponent allows, the debate may be reopened.

Good luck, and have fun.

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