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Rules ·  Survival Guide ·  Terms of Service
Survival Guide

America's Debate hosts some of the most civil and most constructive political debate on the internet. Our community is thriving thanks to combination of involved members, dedicated staff, and elementary rules. Our members are very protective of the America's Debate community, and actively involve themselves in improving the quality of debate.

The Survival Guide serves to assist all members, new and old, in what behavior is appreciated and expected when participating at America's Debate. It includes details on debating tactics and the citing of sources, as well as personal attacks, communicating with the staff and members, and more.

This guide was created using member suggestions to build on our former guidelines, and will continually evolve as necessary. Thank you for taking the time to review it. Please feel free to contact any staff member with comments or suggestions related to this guide.

Blanket Statements
Communicating with other members
Credibility - Establishing and Maintaining
Helping Out
Homework / Students / Teachers
Logic Fallacies
Personal Attacks
Reporting Posts
Spelling and Grammar
Starting New Topics
Working with the staff

> Blanket Statements
The use of unsupported blanket statements does not add credibility to your position.
> Individuals who resort to blanket statements and name-calling lose credibility. Most people here are sharp enough to recognize this tactic.

> Blanket statements often take threads off the topic because members feel a need to defend their affiliations and not the specific subject at hand. This is not constructive.
> Communicating with Other Members
There are several means by which members can contact other members at America's Debate in a non-public fashion. The preferred method is by Personal Message, although email is also available. Members may also optionally include contact information for internet messaging services in their profile. The following outlines general practices and proper courses of action to take in the event of a problem.
> Most members prefer to only debate on the forum, and not via PM.

> If another member sends you a threatening, abusive, or harassing PM or email, the recommended course of action is to forward all related correspondence to an Administrator for investigation.

> Sending email to another member via the forum reveals your email address to that member. If you do not wish to disclose your email address, do not send email via the forum.

> If a member sends you email via the forum, your email address has not been revealed. Our software protects your email address from being disclosed. If you respond to that email, the recipient will, of course, know your email address.

> You may turn off the ability for other members to send you email by adjusting your Email Settings in your Control Panel.

> You may block individual members from sending you Personal Messages by adjusting your Block List in your Control Panel.
> Credibility - Establishing and Maintaining
Establishing credibility with the other members takes time. There is, however, a lot you can do to help speed the process along.
> Cite your sources, and be prepared to back-up your argument. Don't make us ask for your sources after making a bold statement. Providing sources early and often solidifies your argument, and solid arguments help establish credibility.

> Follow the rules. Everyone who wishes to participate must follow the rules.

> Use proper spelling and grammar. If your posts are difficult to read, many people will likely not read them. If we don't read them, we don't know if you're credible.

> Disagree without being disagreeable. You can tell someone how you feel without telling them off.

> Your post count means nothing. Posting simply to increase your post count does not add to your credibility.
> Exposure
As America's Debate continues to grow, our readership is increasing dramatically.
> The posts you submit here are potentially being read by tens of thousands of people. Between November 2002 and November 2003, we had over 450,000 visits, and over 3,500,000 pages requested.

> Guests from over 60 unique government departments or agencies that have visited America’s Debate may read the posts you submit here. Some departments and agencies continue to visit on a regular basis.

> The posts you submit here make it all the way around the world. America's Debate regularly has visitors from over 110 unique countries.
> Helping out
America's Debate thrives on help from our members. The following are just a few of the ways you can help lend a hand:
> It is important to report violations of the rules. While the staff makes our best effort to review every post, the volume of posts received dictates that we will inevitably miss some. Please help us and report any rule violations we may miss.

> If you see a topic that is that is straying off subject and you have something to add, try to help steer the topic back on subject. A good way to do this is to copy the question to debate from the very first post in a topic and past it into your post. Putting the question in bold helps, too.

> From time to time, members post questions about forum usage in the Comments and Suggestions forum. If you know the answer, by all means post it.
> Homework / Students / Teachers
We recognize that America's Debate is often used as a resource for educational research. We are honored that so many students and educators chose us as a source for their studies.
> Students: You are not allowed to start topics specifically for soliciting homework help. We will not do your homework for you.

> Students: Any topics started that solicit homework help will be closed and deleted.

> Teachers: Do not assign your students to post here, and do not offer extra credit if students participate here. Our members must choose to be here on their own accord, and must not be required to participate to earn a grade or extra credit.
> Logic Fallacies
The following sites deal with logic fallacies and how they may relate to a debate site like ours. These sites will help you to better present your arguments, and to recognize when someone is trying to pull the wool over your eyes.
> Personal Attacks
While some personal attacks are blatant and obvious, others are hard to define and must be determined on a case-by-case basis. Here are some general guidelines to help you avoid making personal attacks, and what to do if you feel you have been personally attacked:
> Debate the post, not the poster. Disagree without being disagreeable. There is no need to attack or belittle another member simply because you disagree.

Making statements about a group to which someone belongs is not a personal attack if the statement is appropriate in the context of the debate. There is certainly a difference between saying conservatives/liberals are contributing to the downfall of society and saying liberals/conservatives are a bunch of stupid idiots.

>If you feel another member personally attacked you, it is important that you not respond to the attack in the topic. Report the post, and the situation will be addressed.

> Only members can be personally attacked. Short of libel, public figures are fair game.
> Reporting Posts
Members are encouraged to report posts they believe are in violation of the rules. To report a post, simply click the "Report" button above any post. Please follow these guidelines when reporting posts:
> The Report feature is to be used only to report violations of the rules. Do not use the Report feature to communicate with the staff. Do not use the Report feature to submit your post.

> When reporting posts, be sure to include which rule(s) you believe has been violated, and by whom.

> Do not report the same topic more than once within 24 hours. When a post is reported, the staff receives a mass email containing a link to the post in question. The reported post is then reviewed in context.

> Topics in "Comments and Suggestions" and "Casual Conversation" should not be reported for straying off topic. These forums allow flexibility when it comes to the direction of the discussion.
> Sources
Sources and citations in support of your opinions will lend credibility to your posts. If you do not provide sources, someone will likely ask for them. Please don't be offended if someone does ask for sources for something you posted. We are simply requesting more information in an effort to better understand your position.
> When asked for sources, don’t respond with something like, "Do a Google search." We are all aware of Google. We are asking, "What specific sources do you have in support of that statistic," or, "What sources did you view that helped you form your opinion?"

> Don’t simply post a link and expect everyone to find what it is on that link you wanted us to see. Explain why you are citing it and how it supports your opinion.

> Warn us before sending us to a PDF file, a Word DOC file, a large image, or any media requiring special software to view. It is the polite thing to do.

> Do not ask for sources if you do not plan on reading them.
> Spelling and Grammar
Proper spelling and grammar is recommended in order to build credibility and increase the likelihood that your opinions will be taken seriously. A few extra moments spent proofreading certainly does not harm anyone.
> We have a Spellcheck integrated into the forum. Simply click the "Spell Check" button before submitting a post to bring up an easy-to-use spellcheck.

> Avoid “Internetisms.” Cuz, wuz, kewl, ppl, and yallz are not words.

> Avoid the usage of all small caps (i am an american). By capitalizing words that should be capitalized, your posts are easier to understand.

> Avoid mixed caps (I aM an aMeRicAn). Most people simply find that to be annoying, and many will skip your posts outright.

> Avoid all capital letters (I AM AN AMERICAN). It is considered SHOUTING and there is no reason for that in a civil debate.

> If you are including someone else's words in your post, be sure to use the [QUOTE][/QUOTE] feature. Consistently failing to use the [QUOTE][/QUOTE] feature will likely result in a PM from a staff member.

> Respect the language. No one is expected to be a perfect grammarian or even speak English fluently. Everyone is, however, expected to make their best effort to convey their opinions in a clear and easily understandable form.
> Starting New Topics
Before starting a new topic, it is highly recommended that you read the Starting New Topics section of our help file [link]. Here are the key points:
> All new topics must have a clear, concise question to debate.

> New topics that do not have a clearly defined question to debate will be closed.

> In order to avoid SPAM, new members must meet certain undisclosed criteria before starting new topics. The requirements are low, and are easily exceeded within a short period of time by those who are truly here to debate.
> Tactics
Members here use every debating tactic imaginable. With time, you will begin to recognize these tactics. Please keep the following in mind:
> There are no winners here. Issues are debated because there is not universal agreement on the issue. No one will be awarded points for being right or for proving someone else wrong. While debate can change minds, it is rare that someone can be proven wrong on an issue.

> Twisting people's words or quoting them out of context is wrong.

> One-liners are rarely debatable, and are not constructive. Posts that aren't constructive are against the rules. Posts simply stating, "I agree!" or, "Good Job!" are better sent through PM.

> Read the entire topic before posting, even if it's long. It is usually easy to tell when a member hasn't read the topic before posting.

> Please do not proselytize. Nobody is here for a religious lesson, and rarely is one's faith provable or disprovable.
> Working with the Staff
Please treat the staff courteously and respectfully. Everyone on the staff is a volunteer. We are here because we enjoy debating. Our views and backgrounds are diverse and varied, but we share common goals. The staff works to provide the most civil and constructive debate on the Internet.
> If you disagree with moderation decision or action, you are welcome to contact the staff member who made the decision or action for clarification. If you do not feel the situation has been properly resolved after contacting the staff member who made the decision or action, you are welcome to contact another staff member. Our diverse staff represents nearly every side of any issue (even the wrong ones). It may help to discuss a situation with a different staff member who can lend a more sympathetic ear.

> Decisions made by Administrators are final. If an Administrator states through any form of correspondence, "This issue is closed," there will be no further discussion about the situation without disciplinary action.

> If contacting more than one staff member with identical requests, be sure to let each staff member know that s/he is not the only recipient of the request. Double-requests = double-work.

> Believe it or not, we have had people ask us to ban them, either directly or through an ultimatum (You better ban me or I'll...!). We do not play games. When requests such as these are received, they are immediately, permanently, and irreversibly honored.
Site Statistics
Total Posts: 365,785
-Topics: 22,608
-Replies 343,177
Registered Members: 4,671
Daily Averages:
3 new topics
51 new posts
0.7 new members
Top 5 posters:
1. Ted (11,416 posts)
2. CruisingRam (7,934 posts)
3. Mrs. Pigpen (7,373 posts)
4. Dontreadonme (6,452 posts)
5. AuthorMusician (6,393 posts)
Welcome new members!
· queenkylee37
· JacobSmith
· scook
· AbwTX
· JohnThomson
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25 most viewed topics
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25 most replied topics

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