Creating “the Wikipedia of pros and cons”
Debatepedia Founder Brooks Lindsay will host a panel focusing on projects and individuals attempting to build what amounts to “the Wikipedia of debates” or “the Wikipedia of pros and cons”. The panel will bring together Debatepedia founder Brooks Lindsay, Debatewise founder David Crane, Opposing Views founder Russell Fine, and ProCon.org editor Kambiz Akhavan. We will discuss our successes and failures over the past three years, and the way forward for clarifying public debates via wiki and other technologies.
This workshop will cover new online efforts to fix a problem in the modern “public debate”: that arguments in major public debates are scattered across hundreds of resources, making it impossible for the public as well as decision-makers to fully “weigh all the pros and cons” in debates facing them. Wiki projects attempting to address this problem include Debatepedia, Debatewise, Chains of Reason, and Wikidebate, among others. Non-wiki approaches include ProCon.org, Opposing Views, CreateDebate, Convinceme, Helium, ForAndAgainst, and many others. Certainly, enough energy surrounds this problem and solution that many have begun calling it an industry, referring to it as the “the in-depth citizen-journalism of public debates.” Certainly, the industry has reached a significant level of development, and the wiki component of it is growing quickly. It is for this reason that we have organized a panel at Wikisym.
The wiki approach has significant advantages in certain areas of the “in-depth journalism of public debates”, particularly in the area of documenting debates and arguments in a pro/con encyclopedia fashion. That is, documenting the arguments and quotes that are already “out there” in “the public debate”, and centralizing them via wiki technology into a single pro/con encyclopedia. The panel at Wikisym will discuss the work being done to build such a resource at Debatepedia and Debatewise and at similar projects ProCon.org and Opposing View (neither of which are wikis). It will discuss philosophies, successes, challenges, and the way forward for the future of the public debate – via wikis and non-wikis.
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