Recently, I came across a debate handbook written by Alfred C. Snider of the University of Vermont. The complete text can be found here. I read through it with an eye for concepts that could be applied to online debate. One of the best takeaways was The Code of the Debater (albeit, its somewhat cheesy).
I’ve reprinted it below. In the web 2.0 world of user-generated content, I think that guidelines like these make a whole lot of sense. Whether you prefer to debate in the comments section of Digg, in the self subreddit or on CreateDebate, try to keep these guidelines in mind. You will be more effective in expressing your point and your reputation will improve.
- I will research my topic and know what I am talking about.
- I will respect the subject matter of my debates.
- I will choose persuasion over coercion and violence.
- I will learn from victory and especially from defeat.
- I will be a generous winner and a gracious loser.
- I will remember and respect where I came even though I am now a citizen of the world.
- I will apply my criticism of others to myself.
- I will strive to see myself in others.
- I will, in a debate, use the best arguments I can to support the side I am on.
- I will, in life, use the best arguments I can to determine which side I am on.
- I will respect their rights to freedom of speech and expression, even though we may disagree.
- I will respect my partners, opponents, judges, coaches, and tournament officials.
- I will be honest about my arguments and evidence and those of others.
- I will help those with less experience, because I am both student and teacher.
- I will be an advocate in life, siding with those in need and willing to speak truth to power.