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Blackstone
To start with, I'm not in any way suggesting replacing the current debate format with something else, only adding a new feature (just wanted to clear that up right away). I don't know about anyone else, but it seems that so little gets resolved in many discussions on this site. Everyone states his or her opinion back and forth a few times, perhaps phrased differently each time, and then the thread ends. Part of the problem, it seems to me, is that it's so easy to lose focus when there are so many hands in the pot. Someone's failing to get the context of a discussion, or someone else has some other issue that he just has to get out there that might only be tangentially related to the discussion, and things get sidetracked.

Or how about this: show of hands of how many people here have had a debate opponent just about pinned down on a specific issue, then someone else comes in and makes a wild comment that draws in a whole flurry of responses from others, and the person you had initially caged just quietly slinks away amid the clamor.

Another problem with multiple free-for-all formats (which, again, I'm not asking to do away with, because such formats have their advantages, too) is that posters in that kind of environment tend feel a pressure to make their posts noticeable among the din rather than terribly thoughtful. It tends to promote schnazziness and snarkiness over reflection and digestion (there are exceptions of course, but they seem painfully rare).

But by allowing some threads where there are only two members discussing an issue (having previously consented to do so), you may find the intellectual quality of the discussion to substantially elevated. The issue I think would likely be discussed more thoroughly, and there wouldn't be as much pressure to "score points". You may even see something radical, like two opponents actually agreeing on certain points after they've had a chance to consider the subject in a somewhat less combative debating environment. Who knows, posts in a debate like that might even find themselves worthy of being quoted outside of ad.gif.

Another advantage: It would provide a better incentive to good behavior in the rest of the forum, as those unable to exercise self-control may very well find themselves shut out of (and hence, unable to disrupt) some of the most interesting discussions on the board.

So, to the two Powers That Be, do you think this idea would be at least worth trying out for a spell to see if it bears any fruit?
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JohnfrmCleveland
QUOTE(Blackstone @ May 14 2011, 04:30 PM) *
Part of the problem, it seems to me, is that it's so easy to lose focus when there are so many hands in the pot. Someone's failing to get the context of a discussion, or someone else has some other issue that he just has to get out there that might only be tangentially related to the discussion, and things get sidetracked.


I have seen message boards that have a sort of flow chart or outline format, where you can have different branches of a discussion within the same thread/topic. Most branches of the thread would be hidden (unexpanded), while the one you click on expands to show a single series of replies.

As for nothing "getting resolved," maybe now would be a good time to re-introduce my old suggestion of "I agree!" and "I disagree!" buttons at the bottom of each post, so we can keep score.

I've got a million ideas, and every one's a winner.
entspeak
QUOTE(JohnfrmCleveland @ May 14 2011, 07:46 PM) *
I have seen message boards that have a sort of flow chart or outline format, where you can have different branches of a discussion within the same thread/topic. Most branches of the thread would be hidden (unexpanded), while the one you click on expands to show a single series of replies.


This site has a threaded view option - the branches aren't collapsible , though. Just click on the Options button at the top right of the opening post and choose the Outline display mode. smile.gif
Dingo
I was on one forum that offered a separate one on one space for debate. Two people took the forum's head honcho up on it and got into an extended knock down drag-out fight. Although the opportunity remained there and does to this day no one ever ventured into that arena again.

For myself I'm satisfied to engage in a one-on-one within the confines of a broader thread. Often you will see like 3 separate one-on-ones going on in any single thread with no one getting side tracked. If someone else wants to jump in fine. Even if its just trolling I'm free to ignore the intruder or just give him a swat. The main discussion commonly ends pretty shortly for me when you realize the other person isn't going to change their position in the face of facts and the same arguments start getting recycled and you really aren't getting serious arguments; more like ideological talking points.

This phenomenon of thread destruction by distracting trolls I haven't seen much of. I figure if you get in an extended argument with somebody they are worth arguing with, otherwise why don't you just ignore them and respond to the substantive posts?

JFC
QUOTE
As for nothing "getting resolved," maybe now would be a good time to re-introduce my old suggestion of "I agree!" and "I disagree!" buttons at the bottom of each post, so we can keep score.

That reminds me too much of getting a grade. I don't come here for that.
JohnfrmCleveland
QUOTE(entspeak @ May 14 2011, 07:54 PM) *
QUOTE(JohnfrmCleveland @ May 14 2011, 07:46 PM) *
I have seen message boards that have a sort of flow chart or outline format, where you can have different branches of a discussion within the same thread/topic. Most branches of the thread would be hidden (unexpanded), while the one you click on expands to show a single series of replies.


This site has a threaded view option - the branches aren't collapsible , though. Just click on the Options button at the top right of the opening post and choose the Outline display mode. smile.gif


Well, there you go! Problem solved. Thanks.

I thought I remembered something like that on AD, but I was searching for it on the home page.
Maybe Maybe Not
The threaded view option isn't the same thing as one-on-one debate Blackstone suggests.

I too was on a site where this feature was available, but rarely used.

If it's an easy thing to add, why not give it a try and see how it goes? (Actually, so long as everyone adheres to the rules set out by the original poster, you could probably do it right now without any added features on the board: Just set out a statement for debate, include a poll, set limits on post length, number of chances for rebuttal, and response time, then stake out your position as Yea or Nay and ask for an opponent, while asking all others to refrain from posting until the formal debate is over.)
Blackstone
QUOTE(Dingo @ May 14 2011, 08:08 PM) *
I was on one forum that offered a separate one on one space for debate. Two people took the forum's head honcho up on it and got into an extended knock down drag-out fight. Although the opportunity remained there and does to this day no one ever ventured into that arena again.

Interesting. What was the volume like on that forum, compared to AD? Were there a lot more or a lot fewer people posting there? I'm just trying to figure out why that might have turned out the way it did there. Because a common experience of mine on debate boards (here and elsewhere) has been that of having an initially productive, interesting debate with another member, that gets interrupted by someone else that derails the whole thing. The interruption may appear innocuous enough at first - say, someone asking a question on a particular point - but then the person keeps belaboring the point, and you begin wondering if you're explaining yourself clearly enough, but soon it becomes clear that the person is either really slow or just there to cause trouble, and by that time the other person you've been debating with has gone away.

Sometimes it's even worse, as when a third person comes along and deliberately quotes a fragment of your comment completely out of context, and you have to set the record straight, and again the discussion derails. That's why I would think one-on-one debates could provide an opportunity to let a productive debate really flourish (because personally, I love both reading and participating debates that are chock-full of facts and insights and good research and low on pettiness).

So while it may be true that one-on-one debates can provide an oppurtunity for "knock down drag-out fights" (though I have a hard time understanding how it could offer more of one than the conventional format does), and admittedly might also sometimes lead to boring, bizarre, esoteric debates, I think the really good debates that a format like that would provide a unique opportunity for would much more than compensate for the potential negatives.
Dingo
QUOTE(Blackstone @ May 18 2011, 08:36 AM) *
QUOTE(Dingo @ May 14 2011, 08:08 PM) *
I was on one forum that offered a separate one on one space for debate. Two people took the forum's head honcho up on it and got into an extended knock down drag-out fight. Although the opportunity remained there and does to this day no one ever ventured into that arena again.

Interesting. What was the volume like on that forum, compared to AD? Were there a lot more or a lot fewer people posting there? I'm just trying to figure out why that might have turned out the way it did there. Because a common experience of mine on debate boards (here and elsewhere) has been that of having an initially productive, interesting debate with another member, that gets interrupted by someone else that derails the whole thing. The interruption may appear innocuous enough at first - say, someone asking a question on a particular point - but then the person keeps belaboring the point, and you begin wondering if you're explaining yourself clearly enough, but soon it becomes clear that the person is either really slow or just there to cause trouble, and by that time the other person you've been debating with has gone away.

Sometimes it's even worse, as when a third person comes along and deliberately quotes a fragment of your comment completely out of context, and you have to set the record straight, and again the discussion derails. That's why I would think one-on-one debates could provide an opportunity to let a productive debate really flourish (because personally, I love both reading and participating debates that are chock-full of facts and insights and good research and low on pettiness).

So while it may be true that one-on-one debates can provide an oppurtunity for "knock down drag-out fights" (though I have a hard time understanding how it could offer more of one than the conventional format does), and admittedly might also sometimes lead to boring, bizarre, esoteric debates, I think the really good debates that a format like that would provide a unique opportunity for would much more than compensate for the potential negatives.

Frankly I don't mind folks butting into a one on one debate. Sometimes the debate is so nowhere it needs new blood. If it's just strictly trolling, as I said before, I'm free to ignore the troller. Maybe because I am a veteran of more slam bang anything goes political forums, nothing that shows up on this more moderated structured site seriously distresses me except an occasional excess of regulation.

I think it's pretty simple, folks didn't see any advantage to a one on one space. A one on one in an open thread seems to work well if you don't let yourself get distracted by 3rd parties that don't bring anything to the debate and if they do add something then it is a plus.

And if posters were more honest they would admit that trollers often supply a counterpoint so necessary in a debate format. You can use them as a catalyst to offer opinions or information that you wish to share. You can even put them down, nicely of course, innocent.gif and get whatever satisfaction that supplies. Those aspects may help explain why they get more than the usual number of responses.

The other forum had and has at least as much traffic as this one.
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