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Archive for the ‘New Features’ Category

Tweets & Waterfalls  

For those of you who’ve already found yourselves hopelessly addicted to Twitter, we’re here to help.  We just set up a CreateDebate account on Twitter that intermittently tweets the title and a link to some of the most popular debates raging on our main site. Make sure you follow us!

Twitter works great with mobile phones so now its possible to keep up with CreateDebate while you’re on the road.  If you are lucky enough to have an iPhone, try using the Twitterrific app, it works great. On that note, since CreateDebate is optimized for Safari, the entire site looks and works great on the iPhone.

We also just rolled out some small, yet significant changes to The Waterfall.  The Public Waterfall still lists all of the newest arguments, spanning every debate. In addition, there is now a personal waterfall for each user, which only includes the arguments written by that user. To find somebody’s personal waterfall, go to their profile and click “View All” under the Arguments heading.

Every waterfall (public or personal) also has an RSS feed that makes it possible to keep track of your arguments (or anybody else’s) by using a feed reader.  Ultimately, that makes it possible to pull your arguments from CreateDebate into many other sites, like Facebook or MySpace. If you set up something cool this feature, let us know about it!

We could make it possible for your arguments to be automatically pushed into FriendFeed or Twitter. If you’d be interested in something that, let us know!

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Written by Loudacris

August 12th, 2008 at 8:06 am

Debate Descriptions  

Have you ever wanted to add a description to your debate to clarify exactly what you want everyone to debate, or to provide some further background information on the debate you’re creating?  Well now you can, thanks to the new optional  ”Debate Description” field available when creating a debate.  

We’ve also made this feature retroactive so you can go back to debates you’ve already created and add a description via the Moderator Panel. Now you no longer have to add an argument to a side of the debate to provide further information on the topic at hand, and it won’t get lost in the shuffle during the voting process.   Simply add a debate description and everyone will be able to view it to understand exactly what you want debated. 

Let us know what you think!   

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Written by Bryan

July 2nd, 2008 at 9:14 am

Introducing Debate RSS & XML Feeds  

We’re happy to announce that CreateDebate now offers fully customizable RSS & XML debate feeds. Now you can integrate a personalized debate feed into your blog, your website or your Facebook/MySpace profile. You might also want to use a news reader or RSS aggregator to watch for the exact kinds of debates that interest you!

To simplify the feed customization process, we just launched a new tool that makes it very easy to build the perfect feed. Just click here and use the drop-down selectors to specify the kinds of debates that your feed should include. Once your feed has been built, you can paste the URL into any web or client application that accepts RSS or XML feeds.

Here are some helpful resources to get you started:

RSS is a simple way to syndicate content, stories, and information. It lets you easily subscribe to a website or the sub-sections of a website that you’re interested in. All you need is a news reader to display them. If you don’t already have one, you should check out Google Reader.

To add a personalized feed to your Facebook profile, check out Blog RSS Feed Reader. Our CreateDebate profile uses this application. It’s maintenance free and very easy to set up.

For your MySpace profile, check out RSS Reader. This application makes it very easy to add your debates to your profile. You may only want to display the debates that you’ve created.

To add a custom feed to your blog, look no further than your dashboard.  WordPress, Blogger and TypePad all offer a means by which you can integrate RSS feeds into your blog. To extend the functionality of your blog, you might want to add a plugin or widget that will give you greater control over how the RSS feed is displayed. If you use WordPress, you may find the KB Advanced RSS Widget to be helpful.

If you operate your own site, you may want to take advantage of our XML API, which offers more information and greater flexibility. The API documentation explains the parameters and values that can be used to query our servers. It also explains the XML specification that is used to return the results.

Remember, all our content is under a Creative Commons License, which means you are free to mix and mash our debates into whatever app you’re building. If you are a developer interested in building a CreateDebate widget or application, we would love to hear from you! If you have questions or comments, please contact us.

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Written by Loudacris

June 23rd, 2008 at 8:12 am

Argument Tags  

We are very excited to introduce our newest feature: Argument Tags. Now every time you create a new argument you can create a set of keywords or tags that summarize the main point of your argument, so you can let other users easily identify what your argument is about. Tags enable you to categorize your argument when it may fall outside the bounds of the sides of a debate or when you want to summarize the main point of your argument in a popularity contest.

Tags are displayed on the right side of each debate where you can see the overall score for each tag as well as view all arguments with the same tag (example: Which is the best superhero movie?). Also, the top three argument tags are displayed for Popularity Contests while you’re browsing debates so you can get a sneak preview of the debate, and see which arguments are winning.

Please send us feedback on this new feature. We love hearing from you!

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Written by Paola

June 18th, 2008 at 11:43 pm

More Accurate Scoring  

We just implemented a completely new algorithm to make the debate scoring system more accurate and more transparent.  When you add an argument you will now have the opportunity to explicitly identify the side where you’d like your argument’s votes to be allocated.

To make it as user-friendly as possible, CreateDebate will do its best to predict which view you support but the final call is up to you.  If you realize that you need to change where the points are being allocated, you can just edit your argument and switch it up (so as long as nobody else has voted or replied already).

Thanks for continuing to share your thoughts & suggestions!  As always, we’d love to hear what you think of this new improvement.

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Written by Loudacris

May 31st, 2008 at 5:05 pm

The Waterfall  

We’re happy to introduce another cool new feature: The Waterfall.  The Waterfall gives you an easy way to find the newest arguments that have just been posted to CreateDebate, looking across every debate.  We think you’ll find The Waterfall to be a great all-purpose landing page since it serves up all of the newest content on a silver platter.  We have also whipped up a new RSS feed that can deliver The Waterfall directly to your favorite reader.  For more information about the RSS feed you can read this.

Keep sending us your feedback!  What do you think of The Waterfall?

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Written by Loudacris

May 28th, 2008 at 9:21 pm

New & Improved Voting  

Just rolled out a much needed feature that I hope you’ll all enjoy!  Finally, the voting buttons have a brain.  Throughout the entire site you’ll now be able to see which arguments you’ve already voted on (and how you voted).  Feel free to change your up/down vote for any argument as much as you’d like.  If you’d like to retract your vote, you can do that too.

Thanks for all of your feedback.  In the next couple of weeks we’ll be dropping a bunch of new features that will address many of your comments.  As always, we’re looking to you for your thoughts on how CreateDebate should work, so keep sending us your ideas & suggestions!

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Written by Loudacris

May 22nd, 2008 at 6:51 pm

Sort By New Activity  

CreateDebate Right Side MenuOne of the basic premises of CreateDebate is that it must be simple to find the debates that interest you. This is why we’ve spent so much time building the main Browse Debates view. We have always let you sort the debates (and your search results) in a number of ways. If you haven’t tried it already, go ahead and play around with the sorting options on the right side menu: you can pivot the debates in many ways. You can also sort within specific categories (sports, entertainment, politics, etc).

Today, we are happy to announce the addition of the New Activity sorting option. This algorithm allows you to see which debates have had new arguments added recently. This sorting option adds a “traditional forum” feeling to CreateDebate because the debates with the newest posts are bumped to the top. Using this sorting option is a great way to discover upcoming debates that were recently created but haven’t yet built the head-of-steam needed to become heated. It is also a great way to a rediscover older debates that have fallen of the Most Heated page but are still getting lots of attention and participation.

What do you think? We always love to hear your feedback!

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Written by Loudacris

May 8th, 2008 at 7:01 am

Listening to Customers is Hard, Hard, Hard  

I just finished reading a great article, written by Albert Wenger at his Continuations blog. Albert is a partner at Union Square Ventures and I’ve found his writings to be concise (always appreciated) and meaningful. Last week, he wrote about the importance and difficulty of listening to your customers. More food-for-thought than advice, the article throws out three questions and some common problems associated with each.

As we continue to build CreateDebate into a business, we have frequently found ourselves addressing these same questions. In the spirit of transparency, I thought I would take a crack at answering Albert’s questions from the current perspectives of the CreateDebate team.

Which customers should we listen to?

This question should probably read: Should we listen to our early-adopters or should we listen to what we believe to be our “mainstream” customers? We are about 1 week into our public beta and, fortunately, we already have a nice stable of committed early-adopters that have found real utility in using CreateDebate. We are thrilled about this and we are committed to rewarding our early-adopters with a feature set that over delivers on their requests. At the same time, however, we must remain fully-focused on building CreateDebate into a highly scalable decision-making tool that is capable of providing significant value to paying customers.

Paying Customers? Don’t worry, we’ll never charge you to use CreateDebate.com. Rather, at some point in the near future, we do expect to charge licensing fees in exchange for private use of the CreateDebate application software. We have already been contacted by several enterprise & governmental organizations interested in deploying our software and we think this business model has a significant amount of promise.

At the end of the day, the answer to this question isn’t as tricky as it seems. First and foremost, we are dedicated to building CreateDebate into a community. To be successful, we must embrace our early adopters and their new feature requests. We always discuss new feature requests as a team and do our best to prioritize and temper those requests against our vision of the “mainstream” customer. In a nutshell, our strategy is to grow our community by continually improving our software. By doing so, it is our hope that the CreateDebate application will become a powerful decision-making software package worth paying for.

How should we listen to our customers?

We get a lot of critical feedback and suggestions via email. At this stage in the game, virtually every email that we receive prompts a personal response. We alway log the comments and do our best to group and prioritize them. The problem with email feedback, though, is that it sometimes proves difficult to accurately deduce exactly what our community really needs, as opposed to what a small, vocal subset of our community thinks that it wants.

In light of this contradiction, our preferred forum for listening to our customers has become the website itself. Last week, one of the most popular debates on CreateDebate focused on the new features that people would like to see incorporated the site. The debate spurred lots of arguments and votes and gave us a much better perspective on the new features that our community needs. As a result, we went to work and delivered a bunch of new features over the weekend, including:

  • A new way to sort the arguments within a debate (“Sort By Newest”)
  • A better way to catch up on new activity (“New Activity Quick Glance”)
  • Permalinks for each argument to facilitate more sharing
  • RSS feeds for the Most Heated and Newest debates
  • A more secure Address Book

How should we reconcile listening to our customers with our strategy?

Our goal is to build an incredibly useful tool that will help groups of people to sort through issues, viewpoints and opinions so that better decisions can be made. I’ve already noted that our strategy is to grow our community by continually improving our software. This is a strategy that we fully believe in and are committed to following. To that end, we are dedicated to making listening to customers a priority and constant process as opposed to a one off exercise.

As far as the reconciliation process goes, I’m afraid that we haven’t yet fully figured it out. The good news, however, is that we are aware of the importance of the task at hand. I fully expect this year to be full of twists and turns as our community grows and our software becomes more sophisticated. Most of all, I hope that you will stay around to help us grow and let us know what we are doing right (and not-so-right). If you have feedback, please share!

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Written by Loudacris

May 5th, 2008 at 5:27 pm

Debate RSS Feeds  

We’ve been thinking about the feature suggestions everyone mentioned in the debate about What features should be added to CreateDebate. Loudacris already let everyone know that we added the date view to debates to view arguments arranged by date as well as the point view. This should make it easier to follow the logical flow of a debate, and to see what arguments might have influenced responses.

The second new feature from the feature requests is RSS feeds of the most recent debates and most heated debates, so you can keep track of the online debates on CreateDebate in your favorite RSS Reader. The About RSS page has the list of feeds we have set up, and more information about how to subscribe to RSS feeds. We’re still working on more of the features mentioned, so stay tuned.

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Written by Dan

May 5th, 2008 at 12:32 pm