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Can a wiki be used for a DebateTool? This may be one of the GreatChallengesToWikis.

Well, debate already occurs on wikis, but it is not the main purpose. It is the purpose of some projects :

Usually, using a wiki for debate is a bad idea, it stirs up passions (see DefendAgainstPassion) and you are always in a state of CommunityDoesNotAgree (or else, what's the point ?).

CollaborativeCriticism may avoid a few of these traps, since it does not necessarily need people to argue for both sides (unlike DoubleWiki), however it may also suffer from the same ForestFires and EditWars? as other Wikis.

But some aspects of wikis may prove favourable for constructive debate - things can be seen more as a clash of ideas and less as a clash of egos. Endless repeating of the same issues as in bulletin boards or newsgroups may be avoided.

One solution may be to drop SoftSecurity, having a wiki-like system but with logins, but that may not be enough as the prupose is not to keep trouble-raisers out but to keep the conflict between users healthy. You may get EditWars? where each side is claiming to be doing reasonable debate. What is needed is new CommunityExpectations for behaviour on what is and isn't an accepted pattern of behaviour. If the rules are broadly accepted by every side of the debate, it may work. (Rules can be things like only edit comments on things you agree with, etc.)

see also Wiki:SearchForTruth


I agree with "what is needed is new CommunityExpectations". I think wikis would work well for intense debate provided that the purpose of the wiki was clearly for debate, and that there was a modified set of CommunityExpectations to match. It may become even harder to deal with outliers, though; I expect you'd be ejecting people more often than on normal wikis, as the CommunityExpectations would be more stringent and more different from normal internet behavior.

However, even on normal wikis, debate occurs all the time. Usually CommunityDoesNotAgree on many topical issues; they agree on some topical issues but more importantly on some CommunityExpectations".

-- BayleShanks

The points about CommunityExpectation(s) seem especially valid, if we accept that the goal of CommunityDoesNotAgree concerns is to avoid negative behaviours (such as edit wars). This should not, however, require all of the individuals that are members of the commmunity to agree on all issues.

I hope to see at least a few wiki communities evolve to the point where differences in opionions can be discussed and debated in a polite and respectfull manner that encourages the appreciation of different perspectives. The challenge (as in all communities) is what to decide what do when the behaviour of a few becomes objectionable to the rest.

I found some of the material that Bayle recently made available about the ReportOnElectronicDeliberationSeminarTwoThousandThree both useful and encouraging in this regard.

-- HansWobbe

A related point that I have been thinking about is an idea I call "Versioning". Basically, one of the problems regarding debate on wiki is that there is the coveted page in which my argument must reside. I think this can be solved with "Versioning". Why can't there be many versions of a page. Take Wikipedia:GeorgeBush? for example. Anyone should be able to make a GeorgeBushRepublican? or a GeorgeBushDemocrat? or a GeorgeBushAnarchist?, etc. The page that is most popular will be just that. The coveted GeorgeBush? page will then include basic info, but where the debate comes in, it is spread out on respective pages, that may or may not interlink to carry arguments forward. Currently, there is no back end for such processes and they would have to just start out by us BludgeoningTheData?. MarkDilley

Mark, this is basically CostinCozianu's concept for C2. He suggested that contributors from editorial groups that work on their versions but nothing would change if every single person had his own page. He suggested a kind of quality system which would then rate and link the best of the pages. ThomasKalka thinks about MultiLinking such pages. ProWiki would allow configuring this experimentally to explore different rulesets. -- HelmutLeitner


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