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nebraska29
I'm going to try and take a stab at something that has been bothering me as of late. I've tried ignoring it, but it appears that we do have a problem here on the board. unsure.gif

In creating debate questions, we all need to remember that we need to make "open" and constructive questions. In other words, we have to resist the impulse to create "loaded" questions. I've been guilty of this to some degree, and I think we all have from time to time. We all hold passionate beliefs about what is right and wrong in regards to government, sometimes we can lose track of the fact that those in the "wrong" feel likewise too. thumbsup.gif tongue.gif

Here is an example. Let's say I create a thread about president Bush opposing tobacco tax increases for SCHIP legislation.

I should not create debate questions such as:

QUOTE
1.)Why does the president support cancer over children?

2.)Why aren't children a priority in the Bush administration?

3.)Is Bush a fascist pro-military imperialist who hates children?


Better questions would be:

QUOTE
1.)Should SCHIP be funded through increased tobacco taxes? Why or why not?

2.)Should middle class children, be covered under SCHIP, or is that the responsibility of middle class parents to provide to their children?

3.)Is SCHIP the best way to cover children for health care?, if not, please outline an alternative plan.


The first three questions would be unfair of me to post towards other members. I read more than a few debate qeustions like this and it's not really what AD is about. Taking the opposite side of the question in some of these threads puts me, in unstated but clearly implied ways, a fascist, a communist, or a "collectivist," which is a patently absurd and a gross mischaracterization of my views. Ditto the hypothetical questions I created above. Republicans aren't for cancer, and they don't hate children. That is equally unfair of me to paint other members right out of the gate.

I believe we need something like what follows for new members to be steered towards when they join. Most folks catch on quickly, but a refresher certainly doesn't hurt those of us who have been here awhile.

QUOTE
Debate question FAQ

1.)Create "open" and constructive questions

2.)If your question implies something negative about those who disagree, it is a "loaded" question, please try again.

3.)If the question is created out of your viewpoint on an issue, it is "loaded." Please try again.

4.)If your question contains loaded phraseology(i.e.-welfare queens, greedy corporations, treehuggers, defeatocrats, republicants, welfare-warfare) it is a "loaded" question, please try again.

5.)If the premise of your question sounds like your party's platform, it's a "loaded" question. Please try again.


I'll get off my soap box for the time being. I would like to see us try and focus more on creating better questions that dont' shoot other members right at the front door of the topic. We are a better board than that. thumbsup.gif
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Dontreadonme
I'm speaking as a debater, not a moderator when I say that I think you're spot on nebraska29. One of the great things about ad.gif is that I've learned a great deal about subjects I don't know much about from people I've never met. But the topics I've learned from are exactly those where people weren't forced to defend themselves against oblique defamation, just because they disagreed with the tone of the topic opener.
Much of the addiction to debating is to argue your point and to try and show others an alternative point of view. We have experts, wonks and enthusiasts from almost every walk of life, profession and experience, and the fact that this meltng pot of poeple can debate with civility and come out better informed for it makes this a special place in the internet.
But it all starts with informed and open minded debate questions. Passion will obviously come out during the debate, but it doesn't need to be the propellant to get it started.

By and large, I think that your FAQ is a good guidline for posters to think about what they are trying to accomplish when they start a topic.
BaphometsAdvocate
QUOTE(nebraska29 @ Sep 9 2007, 08:10 PM) *
I'm going to try and take a stab at something that has been bothering me as of late. I've tried ignoring it, but it appears that we do have a problem here on the board. unsure.gif

In creating debate questions, we all need to remember that we need to make "open" and constructive questions. In other words, we have to resist the impulse to create "loaded" questions.

oh sure when I say it, it's bad thing zipped.gif
nebraska29
QUOTE
oh sure when I say it, it's bad thing zipped.gif


BA-I've got nothing but love for ya(in a non-Larry Craig kind of way mrsparkle.gif ) so please understand that as I type what comes next.

You may have had a legitimate point. The problem wasn't if you brought it up, the problem had to do with where you brought it up. Hence why this was posted:

QUOTE
If you feel the questions are a violation of the Rules please report the topic, otherwise focus and debate in a civil fashion


The proper place for that kind of thing is the comments/suggestions section. If I had posted this in any other section, I would've been called on it.
CruisingRam
BA- why is it a loaded question? I mean, it is a very valid question to wonder why a gay with an exemplary life be denied the opportunity to serve, while a felon can be sentenced to serve? rolleyes.gif - valid question, not loaded at all- it is only loaded because there is no logical explanation of why we do some things that are so freakin' insane.

That being said- rolleyes.gif thumbsup.gif - I understand the frustration from some of the sillier questions we have been barraged with lately. rolleyes.gif
nighttimer
QUOTE(nebraska29 @ Sep 9 2007, 08:10 PM) *
I believe we need something like what follows for new members to be steered towards when they join. Most folks catch on quickly, but a refresher certainly doesn't hurt those of us who have been here awhile.

QUOTE
Debate question FAQ

1.)Create "open" and constructive questions

2.)If your question implies something negative about those who disagree, it is a "loaded" question, please try again.

3.)If the question is created out of your viewpoint on an issue, it is "loaded." Please try again.

4.)If your question contains loaded phraseology(i.e.-welfare queens, greedy corporations, treehuggers, defeatocrats, republicants, welfare-warfare) it is a "loaded" question, please try again.

5.)If the premise of your question sounds like your party's platform, it's a "loaded" question. Please try again.


I'll get off my soap box for the time being. I would like to see us try and focus more on creating better questions that dont' shoot other members right at the front door of the topic. We are a better board than that. thumbsup.gif



Well, if anyone's qualified to start this thread, I'd guess the board's Best Topic Creator would be the one to do it.

This isn't going to win me any popularity points, but based on personal experience I don't think you should be able to start a thread until you've been a member of the board for at least 30 days or you've generated at least 100 posts. I look back at some of the threads I started back in the day (okay, 2003) and most of them were so bad they make me wince. Talk about loaded. Like a baked potato. rolleyes.gif

As someone who's created and replied to a fair share of loaded questions, I understand how tiresome it can be when the questions poised don't come from a place of honest curiosity or the desire to generate real debate. Then again, there are times when posters are very emotional, angry, confused or otherwise not exactly cool and detached. That is when you get threads that are obviously set up to settle scores, grind axes and promote agendas.

And those threads suck. tongue.gif Crap questions make for crap answers.

It's a tricky balancing act to figure out how to phrase a query so that it straddles the line between being innocuous, yet provocative. Then again, Threads from Hell deserve to die a quick, ignoble death by neglect and disinterest. Sometimes I'll start a thread and once my question have been answered, I'm good.

By and large, this is an inexact science. Some worthy threads wither on the vine because they don't generate any buzz while others seemingly far less worthy of attention go on and on like the Energizer bunny. There's about at least a half-dozen threads on the board right now that deserve to have a stake pounded through their hearts and it would be a mercy killing.

However, I figure that eventually the dust settles and the crap threads with their crap questions are seen for what they really are: flame bait and nothing more. Sic semper tyrannis---and lousy threads.
BaphometsAdvocate
QUOTE(CruisingRam @ Sep 9 2007, 10:37 PM) *
BA- why is it a loaded question? I mean, it is a very valid question to wonder why a gay with an exemplary life be denied the opportunity to serve, while a felon can be sentenced to serve? rolleyes.gif - valid question, not loaded at all- it is only loaded because there is no logical explanation of why we do some things that are so freakin' insane.

You might remember my Gays In The Military thread? Similar questions, less flame bait.
lederuvdapac
nebraska29, if you check the comments and suggestions archive, I began a topic a few months ago on the exact same subject and I fully agree with what you are saying. The questions are so loaded with opinion that one is no longer debating an issue but rather the views of the topic creator. Perhaps the moderators could be more adament about open debate questions? Possibly by PMing members with suggestions for how to reword their questions?
Trouble
QUOTE(lederuvdapac @ Sep 10 2007, 03:48 AM) *
nebraska29, if you check the comments and suggestions archive, I began a topic a few months ago on the exact same subject and I fully agree with what you are saying. The questions are so loaded with opinion that one is no longer debating an issue but rather the views of the topic creator. Perhaps the moderators could be more adament about open debate questions? Possibly by PMing members with suggestions for how to reword their questions?


It is a good idea but the mods stressed that they had to be contacted. When I asked the same thing here was the response.

QUOTE(AMLord)
As for Mods re-writing topic discussion questions--it's a bad idea. For one, it would lead to accusations that all questions are not only approved by the Moderation team (an accusation one could already make, given that inappropriate threads are closed), but are written by them as well. This will lead to accusations that all the discussions on ad.gif are driven by the Mods and not by the folks that post here.

Second of all, how can a Mod not only decipher what an inflammatory opening post was driving at, but re-write it in a way that captures that intent and fits within the Rules? Should Mrs. P put in the time and effort to research TM's rant and come up with a more neutral way of phrasing it? What if TM doesn't agree? What if Mrs. P disagrees with the entire basis of the thread? This is an impossible burden on the Moderators.

The content here is created by the posters and is driven by what the posters want to talk about. It isn't about what the Moderators allow, as the Moderators only prune what is outside of the rules. We do not edit the content of anyone's posts or topics for debate, nor should we.


At some point I think the onus has to be taken on the individual to prove the questions are intentionally inflammatory. That is 90% of your arguement right? Someone says the question was loaded and the creator thought it unbiased. For example I found Paladin Elspeth's questions to be fair. The questions did not strike me as loaded or malicious. The point is there are those who did take exception. I think such issues should be addressed openly and quickly.

For what it is worth nebraska29, this was precisely why I took a set of questions and then went through the exercise of rephrasing them. The goal was to show there are many ways to asking the same question. There may occasionally arise questions when we want to ask and the questions that are not compliant with the rules, hey it happens to the best of us.
Wertz
QUOTE(nebraska29 @ Sep 9 2007, 08:10 PM) *
In creating debate questions, we all need to remember that we need to make "open" and constructive questions. In other words, we have to resist the impulse to create "loaded" questions.

This issue has been raised a few times (though it's always worth reiterating) and it is one of the things that the staff addresses as part of the moderation process. It is also one of the things that members should be reporting.

QUOTE(lederuvdapac @ Sep 10 2007, 05:48 AM) *
nebraska29, if you check the comments and suggestions archive, I began a topic a few months ago on the exact same subject and I fully agree with what you are saying. The questions are so loaded with opinion that one is no longer debating an issue but rather the views of the topic creator.

In that thread, Jaime made the following observations:
QUOTE(Jaime @ Jan 7 2007, 02:47 PM) *
You are correct that from time to time members attempt to open a debate that appears to be a blog rant in disguise. We try to keep that type of debate off the board but it's all a matter of interpretation too. ... If you see a topic that you think is a rant in debate's clothing, report it. If we don't hear from you, we sometimes miss things.

In an earlier thread concerning topics closed due to questions being "too vague or missing", Mike explained that, at the time, this included questions with an inherent bias:
QUOTE(Mike @ Jul 31 2005, 10:51 PM) *
We require a clear question to debate to make sure that your topic can be as productive as possible. We close topics when either the questions to debate assume opinion as fact, or when the author editorializes within the actual questions.

Since then, a new automated response option has been added for closed topic announcements:
QUOTE
Topic closed...

Reason: Question to debate inflammatory and/or not conducive to reasoned debate.

This was only added a few weeks ago, but you may be seeing more of it in the future - though we can always hope that it won't be necessary...

But to reiterate a point that has been made in these threads ad nauseam, 90% of disciplinary action - as well as the closure of threads, editing of posts, and so on - is taken because posts or threads are reported by members of the forum. (Okay, I don't have a source for that 90%, but it's a reasonable guesstimate based on reported post traffic. tongue.gif ) And, to give the membership due credit, many threads with "loaded" questions have been reported. A number of them have been closed - and some of those have been reopened with new questions for debate.


QUOTE(lederuvdapac @ Sep 10 2007, 05:48 AM) *
Perhaps the moderators could be more adamant about open debate questions? Possibly by PMing members with suggestions for how to reword their questions?

In one of the earlier threads on this subject, Mike pointed out that:
QUOTE(Mike @ Jul 31 2005, 10:51 PM) *
The easiest way to avoid having a topic closed as 'too vague' or 'no question to debate' is to make sure it follows the help topic Starting New Topics

That advice stands. It should also be noted that the Rules prohibit inflammatory posts in general - and the Survival Guide discourages any post that is not conducive to reasoned debate. It should go without saying that such directives are particularly important in a post that is supposed to be initiating a constructive debate. Obviously, though, there are some contributors who don't get that. And they should be reported.

As to Moderators PMing members with suggestions on rewording their questions, that already happens - but such input must requested by the participant. Every thread that is closed because of the opening post (whether it's for unclear questions, unconstructive questions, missing questions, or too much editorializing within the questions) contains this notice:
QUOTE
Recommended action: If you started this topic, please contact the staff member who closed it by clicking the PM button below this post with a revised question to debate.

And we mean it. All feedback that we get from people whose topics have been closed is addressed. Moderators have often exchanged several PMs with contributors in an effort to hammer out questions that are conducive to reasoned debate. Numerous threads have been reopened (or new threads have replaced them) after such discussion - probably more than you'd think. (Those notices also include links to the Starting New Topics thread in the Help section, the Rules, the Survival Guide, and Staff Directory - all of which everyone here should be familiar with).

In short, the system itself seems to be working. All we need is for people to keep reporting posts - any posts - that they feel are violating the rules or are otherwise failing to contribute to constructive debate. We do not respond to every person who reports a post, we do not take action on every post that's reported, and we do not publish any disciplinary action arising from reported posts; but we do take note of every report, giving them due consideration (often at length), and taking what action we ultimately decide is appropriate, if any. And we are very, very, very grateful to those members who have the interest and take the time to help us maintain our standards - including those who start threads like this one. thumbsup.gif
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