People argue. A lot. Especially on the internet. Usually it goes something along these lines:

> - Jon: Macs are awesome! > - Bob: Macs can suck me. > - Jon: Yeah, well, like, windoze is any better, is it? > - Bob: Fuck yeah! WINDOWS FOREVER! > - Jon: You’re a retard. > - Bob: Fanboi! > - Esaa: … linux? > - Jon & Bob: Shaddup!

… you get the idea. It goes on and on, and any attempt at a sensible argument is usually lost in the dross of the internet.

Often, this is seen as the norm, and nobody really cares all that much - it’s what the internet is, after all, everybody knows the inntertoobes are SERIOUS BUSINESS! Really, though, with all the people tied into the internet, there’s serious potential for discussion of serious topics.

I think we could have a site to facilitate useful discussions on the internet. A site where people could present their points of view and discuss them, presenting and considering rational arguments for and against their point of view.

I think, at least personally, I would rather visit such a site than one like Wikipedia when looking for information on a topic. Reading a single so-called ‘unbiased’ point of view on a given topic is usually very unproductive, and you’re left wondering what bias the proffered point of view truly held. Much better, then, to consume two or more heavily, unabashedly, completely biased points of view - one for each major point of view on the topic. People will always give you more information when arguing for their favorite point of view, than they will give you when trying to present an unbiased point of view.

I see something like this: A site organized due to topics. Either visit a topic, or create your own if your favorite argument isn’t represented yet. Let’s take the age-old debate presented above - Macintosh vs. Windows vs. Linux. This is one of the most notorious debates to appear in a recurrent fashion on the internet, possibly second to none (or at least, second only to emacs vs vi). Visiting the WML debate, as I’ll note it from here on out, an interested party would see the three major points of view, all on the same page. This is very important, a central point of design on the site - all points of view are created equal, in the view of the site. As long as a PoV makes the cut as a major PoV (more on this later), it doesn’t matter HOW many people side with it, it’s held with (and displayed with) as much importance as any other. Design-wise, this means a very wide layout, maybe even a layout that purposefully scrolls in two dimensions, so that all PoVs can be displayed side-to-side.

On a lower level, each PoV would consist of arguments. This is not an argument in the sense “let’s have an argument”, but rather a single argument for the PoV. (Note that I said ‘for’ the PoV - this site should have no concept of ‘against’ arguments. Personally, I’ve always found that an ‘against’ argument can be translated to, and argued much better as, a ‘for’ argument from the other side. Also, this makes everything much more friendly and happier, less tensions in the community.) Each argument would consist of ‘Weigh-in’s from each PoV, and these weigh-ins would be displayed lined up, from one side of the page to the other. Each argument can have sub-arguments, which are ways that the various PoVs differ, but that all belong in the same category of argument. These arguments and sub-arguments can be nested to a (for all intents and purposes) infinite level, so any topic, no matter how tangled, could be presented in a topic on this site.

As a registered site user visiting an existing topic, you would first have to choose a side before interacting, and from that point on, you could only interact with that side. Each side would have a miniature, very simplistic discussion forum. You can only see your side’s forum, and only once choosing the side. You can change sides, but doing so is limited - you can only do it every so often, and can only do it so many times in total for a given topic (to prevent abuse). Also, all interactions from you in the PoV are greyed-out, to make it obvious that you no longer hold that opinion. They are not eligible for promotion (again, see below).

Once you’ve chosen a side, you can help make the side’s arguments more sensible. For each argument, there can be multiple weigh-ins from each side - only the top weigh-in appears to normal page visitors, but you, as a member of the side, can see all of the weigh-ins from various members of your side. You can vote for weigh-ins, so that the most well-thought out and well-presented weigh-in from the entirety of your side’s community is the one presented in the argument on the page to other sides, and site visitors.

Another element of the voting system, is that the arguments with the largest number of total votes (on all weigh-ins from all PoVs / sides) float to the top of the page. The most active arguments, with the most weigh-ins and votes, will show up at the top of the page - this way, all the major strengths of all of the PoVs would appear near the top.

Over-all, this system should facilitate at least somewhat thoughtful discussion on the internet. That is, more thoughtful than is normally seen. It should also give people a chance to see the extremes of a topic, rather than some arbitrary argued-over so-called ‘unbiased’ mid-point.

To re-iterate some of the major points that i’ve already stated, but want to be sure to grind into yon reader…

We all have our biases - let’s be proud of them! Rather, let’s be proud of them - together.