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IDEA's Debatepedia is the new online encyclopedia of debate, argumentation, and critical analysis. Developed by an international team of researchers and educators, Debatepedia serves as a handy resource for knowledge-seekers on the net. Using Wikipedia software, and like Wikipedia[1], Debatepedia allows for contributors around the world to comment on, enhance, and even create their own articles. Unlike Wikipedia, Debatepedia utilizes a unique logic tree, which, most notably, presents both the pros and cons of an issue in a simultaneous fashion. So, if you are worried about researching articles that are slanted one way or the other, Debatepedia makes it clear, by presenting two opposing sides of provocative and engaging issues. Along with its appealing affirmative/negative presentation of public debates, Debatepedia also serves as a more traditional encyclopedia, with educational articles on debate/argumentation, and informational articles on a variety of related topics. Finally, as an international resource, Debatepedia is also a place where schools, clubs, communities, and countries can post information about themselves, with links to their own websites. Overall, Debatepedia is an important and multi-functional resource for debaters, debate educators, or just about anyone who enjoys a good argument. Most importantly, with its wiki-technology and its democratic vision, Debatepedia allows and encourages you to get in on the debate. Debatepedia is transparency, technology, and democracy at its best, working to serve and to include you.

Developmental History

Certainly, debate is not new, in fact, neither is presenting two sides of an issue. But, in this media saturated world, oddly enough, two sides of an issue presented with reasoned, researched, and respectable arguments on either side is a rarity. Unfortunately, many of the most accessible sources of information (television news, radio, and so on) do not have the time to present meaningful debates; rather, due to competition and other reasons, they opt for sound-bites and spectacle, instead of reason and logic.

To an information world that can be at times off-kilter, Debatepedia brings balance. Rather than dismissing the other side, Debatepedia presents both sides, because it believes in the process of open-minded critical analysis, a fundamental trait of democracy, and a necessary principle for a global community, where ideas and ideologies may otherwise simply slip into the ease of dramatic clashes, instead of the patient cooperation of intellectual and educational exchange. Debatepedia is less about trouncing the other side, than it is about respecting the other side, whatever the other side may be.

The history of Debatepedia dates as far back as 1999. In May of 1999, the International Debate Education Association (IDEA)[2] released [Debatabase], an online resource that presented both the affirmative and the negative sides to a debate. (In a way, Debatabase itself relates to older print presentations of simultaneous argumentation, such as the Pro/Con series of print books, which date back to 1896)[3]. Built especially as a resource for its debaters the world over, Debatabase soon became a handy resource for debaters and educators alike, who could directly contribute to and who continue to contribute to Debatabase [4]. In fact, Debatabase continues to commission topics[5], many of which are adapted into the present Debatepedia.

In the summer of 2006, at Georgetown University, Brooks Lindsay and William Wnekowicz founded the original version of Debatepedia, a Pro/Con presentation of debates utilizing Wiki technology. Their innovation provided a useful step-forward in online debate/argument resources, because with Debatepedia, users could contribute articles (as they would for a wiki), but within a format that simultaneously presented both sides to a debate topic or motion. Brooks Lindsay and William Wnekowicz were joined by the 2003 state debate champion and debate instructor Clayton Keir; together, they successfully launched Debatepedia.

In the fall of 2006 , Noel S. Selgzi of the International Debate Education Association[6] (IDEA) began proposing the development of IDEAWiki, an online encyclopedia on debate, debate theory, and argumentation, by employing a team that included himself, Marjan Stojnev, and Dalbir S. Sehmby. In honour of Black History Month, IDEAWiki was launched in February of 2007. Complimenting IDEA's existing educational debate resources, such as the Pro/Con format of Debatabase and its audio and video resources, IDEAWiki presented articles in the more traditional and commonplace fashion of print encyclopedia or online wiki.

By the summer of 2007, however, Brooks Lindsay and Noel Selegzi decided to merge their projects, resulting in IDEA's new Debatepedia, a Pro/Con wiki, with educational articles, and organizational profiles, making it a complete online reference site for debate and argumentation.

Testimonials and articles about Debatepedia

David Weinberger, Fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, "Debatepedia for when neutrality is premature", 2/13/07 - "Much as I love Wikipedia — and I love it so much that I'm giving it candy hearts on Valentine's Day — its policy of neutrality sometimes forces resolution when we'd rather have debate. Yes, competing sides get represented in the articles, and the discussion pages let us hear people arguing their points, but the arguments themselves are treated as stations on the way to neutral agreement. So, there's room for additional approaches that take the arguments themselves as their topics. That's what does, and it looks like it's on its way to being really useful. Like Wikipedia, anyone can edit existing content. Unlike Wikipedia, its topics are all up for debate. Each topic presents both sides, structured into sub-questions, with a strong ethos of citation, factuality, and lack of flaming; the first of its Guiding Principles is "No personal opinion." Rather, it attempts to present the best case and best evidence for each side. Debatepedia limits itself to topics with yes-no alternatives and with clear pro and con cases. To start a debate, a user has to propose it and the editors (who seem to be the people who founded it...I couldn't find info about them on the site) have to accept it. This keeps people from proposing stupid topics and boosts the likelihood that if you visit a listed debate, you'll find content there. It also limits discussion to topics that have two and only two sides, which may turn out to be a serious limitation. But, we'll see. And it can adapt as required. Will Debatepedia take off? Who the hell knows. But it's a welcome addition to the range of experiments in pulling ourselves together."

Sam Rose, Information Technology and Services Consultant and Contractor, "Beyond the wiki consensus: Debatepedia" 2/10/07 - "I received an email from the founder of Debatepedia, and indeed, it seems a very well thought out and highly qualitative resource. Promoting P2P forms of organization does not mean an exclusively favouring the most pure p2p architectures. In many cases, elements of centralization or decentralization may be beneficial to the overall participatory dynamic, and avoid lowest common denominator effects. This, I believe, is such an example of the good usage of a priori filtering. Wikisoftware is based on the a priori principle of consensus, and chooses a neutral point of view; in contrast, the Debatepedia project acknowledges the controversial nature of issues, and allows a qualitative presentation of arguments and facts by experts. It seems a very useful tool for policy debates, that could used in many settings."

Brief Bios Of the Developers

  • Brooks Lindsay: Founder of Debatepedia and chief editor. Brooks lives in Logan Circle in Washington, DC, and works full-time on the development of Debatepedia. He graduated from Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service in 2006, earning a bachelor's degree in International Politics, with a specialization in US Foreign Policy Processes. Brooks Lindsay was born in Seattle, Washington in 1983.
  • Noel Selegzi: President of IDEA. Mr. Selegzi founded the IDEA wiki in February of 2007, and initiated the dialogue that led to the merging of the original Debatepedia and Debatepedia team with the International Debate Education Association. He is a central figure in the big-thinking surrounding Debatepedia, and its marketing and fund raising components. He has also been a Program Director at the Open Society Institute since 1997.
  • William Wnekowicz: Co-Founder of Debatepedia and information technology specialist. William is currently studying Management, Operations and Information Management and Finance at Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business. William Wnekowicz was born in New Jersey in 1986.
  • Dalbir Sehmby: Content/article developer and editor. Originally from Canada, Dalbir currently lives in Kaunas, Lithuania. He is an IDEA[7] Consultant for the The People Speak[8], an initiative from the United Nations Foundation (UNF)[9]. He is also currently serving as the Head of Curriculum for the Mazas Pasaulis Language and Communication Center, where he teaches English. A graduate of the University of Alberta's[10] Office of Interdisciplinary Studies, Dalbir completed his doctorate in Film/Media Studies and Comparative Literature under the co-supervision of Prof. E.D. Blodgett and Prof. Jonathan Hart.
  • Marjan Stojnev: Marjan has been called the "IDEA Tech Genius". He was fundamental in scripting the migration of disparate pieces of information into the coherent, current Debatepedia.
  • Hernan Bonomo: Hernan is the designer for the International Debate Education Association, and is responsible for having crafted all of the branding elements of the IDEA website. He has worked on Debatepedia to help coordinate its branding with the broader IDEA image.
  • Clayton Keir: Clay is an editor on Debatepedia. Clayton graduated from Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service with a bachelor's degree in International Politics, with a specialization in Security Studies. Clayton was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1985, and was the 2003 Debate Champion of the state. Clayton was also a debate instructor at the National Debate Forum summer institute in Boston, Massachussets.
  • Britt Blaser: Britt is the Founder of Open Resource Group and Independence Year. He is a technologist and adviser to Debatepedia.
  • Arminda Lathrop:
  • Rachel Aicher:
  • Melissa Hagemann:

IDEA Resources

See Also

Other About pages:

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