You might want to participate in a constructive formal or informal debate just because you like voicing your opinion, but you might also find the content of debates sites useful for researching and writing blog posts, articles, and research papers.
The following sites are highlighted because they are well organized, fairly intuitive to use, and are focused on presenting both sides of controversial issues. No doubt there are other similar sites not listed in this article, so please share the ones you favor.
CreateDebate.com is in my view the most clearly organized and easiest debate site to participate in. After registering an account and setting up your profile, you can both create debates and participate in existing ones.
As you might expect the topic and issues on the site run the gamut, from “Is it right for parents to beat their kids?” to “Is Earth the product of creation or evolution?” Hot button issues include abortion, animal rights, drugs, George Bush, marijuana, oil, and terrorism.
Popular debates are listed on the homepage, but you can browse and search debates in various categories, including politics, technology, religion, science, sports, and entertainment. You can also create debate communities, which are especially useful for classroom environments.
Starting a debate is very simple. You choose one of two types of debates: Sided Debates, which are “designed for issues that can be broken down into two distinct sides,” such as, “Should violent video games be banned?”, and Popularity Contests, in which there are number of different potential responses and winners, e.g. “What is best video game on the market today?”
CreateDebate is pretty much like a social networking site in which you can create and manage your debates, add “allies” and “enemies” to your profile, as well participate in ongoing conversations. The site is clean, well, organized, with no obtrusive ads.
ForandAgainst.com is another well organized and focused debate site covering a very wide range of topics, from the arts, beauty and fashion, to politics, and travel.
Current popular debates include, “God Does Not Exist,” “Abortion Should Be Banned,” “Gay Marriage Should Be Legal,” and “School Uniforms Are Definitely a Good Thing.”
Similar to CreateDebate, ForandAgainst makes it very easy to create a debate using a three-part form. Members of the site can vote for or against an issue, as well, of course, state their own opinion in the comment section. There’s also a section for members to write and post articles about any issue of importance.
Debate.org has a slightly different format than the above sites. Debates are initiated by one site member challenging another to argue an issue. According to the site, “Each debate is made up of 1-5 rounds in which each member can post their arguments and rebut the arguments made by their opponent. Once both sides have posted their arguments, the members of the community vote for the winner.”
Categories and topics are also varied, including religion, news, sports, technology, and education. Currently running debates include the marijuana issue, theism vs. atheism, gun control rights, and the question of whether or not “The TSA needs to be abolished,” that is, should the Transportation Security Administration be able to conduct body scans in U.S airports?
The formal, back and forth, written arguments presented by Debate.org site members seem to provide a way to more deeply explore issues rather than simply writing one or two-sentence comments or sound bytes like you often get in mainstream media.
Debate.org looks to be a great place to develop debating skills in a safe and constructive platform. Consisting of 22,741 members, with over ten thousand posted debates, Debate.org might very well be a great community to join and build relationships in.
A healthy democracy requires that people be able to debate topics and express their opinions and carefully consider various sides of important issues; these sites are useful in that regard.
Let us know about other active debate sites you recommend.
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