Saturday 27 October 2007 — This is over 15 years old. Be careful.
Debatepedia is a great new addition to the ecosystem of Wikipedia spin-offs. It is a collection of debate topics run curated by the International Debate Education Association for the benefit of student debaters. The topics are carefully broken down into subquestions, with pros and cons logically presented, with links to evidence and advocacy groups.
They of course have pages devoted to current hot topics, like death penalty and same-sex marriage, as well as controversies I was unaware of, like goat-giving at Christmas.
This seems like a great resource for people interested in learning more about an issue, either to help understand all of the viewpoints, or to brush up on their opponents’ likely counter-arguments.
I would love to see historical debating points. The topics on Debatepedia are all current controversies. What about issues which are well-resolved now but were controversial in the past? What would the Debatepedia of 1907 or 1807 or even 1507 look like? Should women be given the right to vote? Is slavery acceptable? Can witchcraft be detected and cured? I think it would be fascinating to see how reasonable people of those times argued these points.
Some time ago I was talking with a friend (Gadi Evron) about viewing wikipedia as an historical mirror of a culture\society. Consider:
Wikipedia is partly a mirror of cultural consensus rather than facts. This may be clearly seen by the fact that Wikipedia entries in different languages may be different. Since articles in Wikipedia usually contain the '*current* concensus', looking at historical backups of Wikipedia might be highly educational. A drug that was considered non-harmful will now be considered harmful. A technology that was 'all the rage' will now be seen differently, and so on.
Using Debatepedia for this instead of Wikipedia will make it even more useful.
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