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
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
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.
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,
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
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
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 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
> 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
, 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
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
> Starting New Topics
Before starting a new topic, it is highly
recommended that you read the Starting
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.
Members here use every debating tactic imaginable.
With time, you will begin to recognize these tactics. Please keep the following
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
Twisting people's words or quoting them out of context
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
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
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.
Total Posts: 365,579
Registered Members: 4,671
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58 new posts
0.7 new members
Top 5 posters:
1. Ted (11,416 posts)
2. CruisingRam (7,934 posts)
3. Mrs. Pigpen (7,351 posts)
4. Dontreadonme (6,452 posts)
5. AuthorMusician (6,393 posts)
Welcome new members!
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What is so Bad about the Defict?!?!
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