The International Debate Education Association (www.idebate.org) has just launched Debatepedia.org, a wiki with the ambitious mission of becoming the world’s “Wikipedia of debate and reason”. On Debatepedia, people can help edit and co-create an encyclopedia of debates by adding pro and con arguments and compiling bodies of supporting evidence within a unique pro/con “logic tree” structure. Debatepedia is also a place for documenting the positions of leaders and organizations. The potential range of debates on Debatepedia is limitless and includes topics that are international, national, and local in scope. It also intends to offer different language versions. Its ambitious mission will have a major impact on the way citizens engage in pressing debates, draw personal conclusions, and even influence their representatives and leaders.
Debatepedia was founded by Georgetown students and alumni in the Winter of 2006, who then outsourced a software project to India in the Spring and Summer of 2007, creating software that enables users to easily use and manipulate the original and essential “logic-tree” pro/con structure of debates. Debatepedia merged with IDEA in the summer of 2007, joining a talented international team, and benefiting from the migration of roughly 500 refined debate articles from IDEA’s existing Debatabase (the product of over 8 years of work). The merger of these teams under the umbrella of IDEA and its network has made the new Debatepedia into a powerful force of effort, vision, and potential. With Debatepedia’s launch, the focus moves to building a vibrant wiki community of volunteer editors. Like Wikipedia, such a community is fundamental to its mission.
Debatepedia’s launch is a call to debaters, students, experts, and citizens to register on Debatepedia and become active editors and members of its community. It encourages editors to engage for personal reasons in the issues they care most about, using Debatepedia as a tool to gather and weigh pros and cons, and back up the positions they take. For debaters, its the ultimate forum for gathering and depositing evidence. In the coming year, Debatepedia’s focus is squarely on the hottest debates in the world today. For those living in or interested in the United States, it will be featuring roughly 50 essential debates that surround the 2008 US presidential and congressional elections.