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2008′s Most Popular Debates  

As 2008 comes to a close, it’s time to take a step back and look at the topics, news stories, and people that consumed our thoughts and passion throughout the year on CreateDebate.  2008 was a remarkable year in every sense of the word.  From the launch of CreateDebate into the wild to a historic election, global economic meltdowns, and enough social issues to debate for eternity this year will certainly go down in history. To that end, CreateDebate would like to take a nostalgic look backwards at the topics that shaped our world in 2008.

Political Debates

Politics was at the top of everyone’s mind in 2008, a landmark US election year which was guaranteed to make history no matter who won the Presidential race.  For the first time in history, an African-American was elected as President of the United States, thanks in large part to a phenomenal grassroots campaign leveraging the power of the Internet.  People on all sides of the political spectrum were passionate about their candidates and issues and leveraged CreateDebate as a platform to make their case.

  1. Who is going to be the next president of the United States?
  2. Was Gov. Sarah Palin the right choice for McCain’s VP running mate?
  3. Capitalism vs. Socialism:  Which economic theory is better?
  4. Are George Bush and Tony Blair guilty of war crimes?
  5. Who should I vote for in the 2008 New Mexico Senate Race?

Social Issues Debates

Social issues were also top of mind for many people in 2008.  Many oft-debated topics such as abortion and gun rights surfaced as hot button issues, as well as more recent social issues such as gay marriage, global warming, and stem cell research.

  1. Should abortion be legal?
  2. Should guns be banned in America?
  3. Should the US government fund stem cell research?
  4. Are humans responsible for global warming?
  5. How can gay marriage hurt anyone?

Religion Debates

Religion continued to be a popular subject to debate in 2008, from the very existence of a God (or gods) to interpretations of various religious doctrines, our users debated it all in 2008.

  1. Do you believe in God?
  2. Is homosexuality a sin?
  3. Has evolution been scientifically proven?
  4. Would the world be a better place without religions?
  5. Jesus Christ: Fact or Fiction?

Economic Debates

The economy was on a lot of people’s minds this year as unprecedented turbulence in the financial markets wreaked havoc throughout the world.  The US government intervened in ways not seen since the Great Depression, and people throughout the world saw the values of their homes and retirement portfolios plummet.  Through it all, CreateDebate was there to capture the thoughts and passion of the people.

  1. Should the US government bail out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac?
  2. Outsourcing of US jobs to foreign countries:  bad or good?
  3. Do you want Congress to approve the $700B bailout?
  4. Should the US remove the ban on offshore drilling?
  5. Is a federal sales tax more fair than the current income tax?

Entertainment Debates

2008 wasn’t all serious, and people took time away from worrying about the economy and politics to engage in debate about popular culture phenomena as well.  Here’s a look at some of the top less serious debates.

  1. What’s the best band of all time? 
  2. Will Mac ever beat PC?
  3. Who will be the winner of this debate?
  4. Bud Light or Miller Lite?
  5. What’s the funniest pick up line you’ve ever heard?

Most Popular Blog Posts

The CreateDebate blog gives us a great creative outlet to discuss life at CreateDebate, tout new features that we’ve rolled out, and a soapbox to voice our thoughts on different topics that shape our world.  Several of our posts caused quite a stir this year, and we hope to continue stirring the pot in the years to come.

  1. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Internet Users
  2. How to Write Strong Arguments
  3. How to Spot and Destroy Weak Arguments
  4. Top 10 Religion Debates of All Time
  5. Listening to Customers is Hard, Hard, Hard

About the 2008 Most Popular Methodology
To develop the CreateDebate Year in Review, our editors analyzed debate statistics based upon a number of factors, including traffic volume, argument volume, and diversity of participation to see which themes and trends bubble to the surface.

About CreateDebate
CreateDebate is the Internet’s leading social debating community that serves to help users make better decisions by understanding various viewpoints of a given issue.  The community is built around ideas, discussion, and democracy. CreateDebate provides a framework that makes compelling and meaningful debates easy to create and fun to use.

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Written by Bryan

December 14th, 2008 at 5:19 pm

CreateDebate is a Finalist!  

After more than 50,000 nominations and 80,000 verified votes, we’re pleased to announce that CreateDebate is a finalist in Mashable’s 2nd Open Web Awards!

Mashable has selected the three start-ups in each category that have received the most votes. CreateDebate was nominated in the politics category and thanks to you we are only 1 round away from winning the whole thing!

We are very excited to be in the final and we would love even more to win. Therefore please vote for us using the widget below. Remember you can vote once every 24 hours between now and midnight PST on December 14th.

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Written by Loudacris

December 3rd, 2008 at 2:11 pm

We Need Your Vote!  

Thanks to you, CreateDebate has been officially nominated in Mashable’s 2008 Open Web Awards in the Politics category!  You can read the official announcement here.

Now it’s time to help us win the award by voting for us!  You can vote for one company in each category per day until midnight on November 30th.

About the Open Web Awards:
The only multilingual international online voting competition that covers major innovations in web technology.  It is a unique opportunity for the most accomplished websites and services to receive international recognition for their achievements.

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Written by Loudacris

November 19th, 2008 at 7:21 pm

Nominate CreateDebate!  

Mashable is once again holding the 2008 Open Web Awards.  Open Web Awards is the only multilingual international online voting competition that covers major innovations in web technology.

Help us win recognition by nominating us!  Nominations close Sunday, November 16th at 11:59 pm PST so there’s no time to sleep on this.

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Written by Loudacris

November 13th, 2008 at 4:34 pm

Election Book Contest Results  

After weeks of campaigning, mudslinging on both sides, maverick-like arguments for and against each candidate, promises of change, and too many late night CreateDebate coding sessions to count, the big question still remains unanswered: who won the CreateDebate Election Book Contest?

Well, the final count is in, and here are the winners. Drumroll please!

Place Person Points Earned
1 Kuklapolitan  Kuklapolitan
+ 358
2 Tamisan  Tamisan
+ 333
3 joecavalry  joecavalry
+ 331
4 andsoccer16  andsoccer16
+ 199
5 Jamais  Jamais
+ 157

Congratulations to the winners of these great books from the Hachette Group. We’d like to thank everyone for participating in the contest, hopefully you found it as interesting as we did.

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Written by Bryan

November 6th, 2008 at 10:42 pm

Karma Bombing and dealing with Trolls  

Recently on CreateDebate, we had a situation where a user, instead of attacking users’ arguments with logic and good rebuttals, decided it would be easier to try to karma bomb people they disagreed with.  They could have responded to specific points the users made, but instead went into the user’s post history and voted down almost 800 arguments of two users.

One of the statistics we use to judge the strength of a debater is the efficiency percent.  We calculate this by dividing your number of positive votes by the total number of votes.  Essentially, it shows if people think your arguments are solid, use good supporting evidence, and are well reasoned.  A recent look at some negatively scored arguments shows personal attacks, opinion without any reasoning behind it, and a few racist remarks.  The vote attack made the victim’s efficiency drop to the point that they looked like they were debating with the logic of a raving fanatic.

Any site that allows open debate or open posting where anyone can easily sign up and start putting their opinion online will inevitably get a few trolls.  Some sites deal with the problem by using moderators who vet every posting before they become visible on a site.  Some sites use moderators who watch and remove troll posts.  A more democratic version of the moderating system is to let everyone become a moderator, which is the system we’ve gone with.  Aside from showing which arguments are the best in a debate, the argument voting system allows people to vote down arguments by the trolls until they’re no longer visible, essentially making everyone a moderator.

The karma bomb we recently saw is a reflection of people using their power as a moderator to personally attack another user.  So in addition to rolling back the massive amount of downvotes, we put in place a system that watches for karma bombs like this one.  If a large number of votes are going to attack or artificially inflate people’s points, the vote system enforces a cool-down period.  The cool-down period should guide people instead to rebut arguments with well-developed arguments.

From watching the growth and evolution of many other websites who try to tackle the problem of trolls, it’s a constant battle between the “griefers” and the community.  Wikipedia, digg, reddit, mixx, facebook, myspace, and plenty of other social sites all have their own system for dealing with the problem, but it the more well developed sites all rely on the community to watch itself for trolls. We’re toying with some ideas from these sites, like how digg lets you see who voted on your arguments, or how twitter allows you to block users from showing up in your version of the site.  At the same time we need protection from trolls, we also don’t want to lose the core democratic debate process, where everyone has a say.

We’re constantly trying to make the debate experience better at CreateDebate, so let us know if the karma bomb protection is as annoying as airport security, and if you think it needs to be tweaked, or if it’s unobtrusive enough that the benefits we all get make it worth the effort.  We’re still thinking through changes to our overall points system, but this system should work in the meantime.  And as always, let us know what you think, either through site messages, or by using the feedback page.

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Written by Dan

October 15th, 2008 at 11:18 pm

Election Book Giveaway Contest  

With 3 weeks to go until the election, we’re happy to announce that we’ve teamed up with The Hachette Book Group to offer eleven great Election related books to our most active users.  We will be giving away all 11 of the following books to the 5 CreateDebate user’s who accumulate the most points from October 14th through November 4th.  Per Hachette, this contest is only available for people located in the US and Canada (no PO Boxes please). Each winner will receive one copy of ALL 11 books! (Audio books available instead as a prize where listed.)

  1. Mike’s Election Guide By Michael Moore
  2. It’s a great year to be an American and a voter. Don’t miss out on MIKE’S ELECTION GUIDE – the indispensable book that belongs in every American’s back pocket this season.- Also available as audio book  ISBN: 97804465462702.

  3. The Preacher and the Presidents By Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy.
  4. Reveals how the world’s most powerful men and world’s most famous evangelist, Billy Graham, knit faith and politics together.- Also available as audio book. ISBN: 97815999510413.

  5. Hard Call By John McCain.
  6. In Hard Call, acclaimed authors John McCain and Mark Salter describe the anatomy of great decisions in history by telling the remarkable stories of men and women who have exemplified composure, wisdom, and intellect in the face of life’s toughest decisions.- Also available as audio book.  ISBN: 97804466991124.

  7. The American Journey of Barack Obama By The Editors of Life Magazine
  8. Covers the candidate Barack Obama from his childhood and adolescence to his time as editor of The Harvard Law Review and his Chicago activist years, culminating with the excitement and fervor of the historic 2008 Democratic National Convention.  ISBN: 97803160456055.

  9. Goodnight Bush By Erich Origen and Gan Golan.
  10. A hilarious and poignant visual requiem for the Bush administration.  ISBN: 97803160404196.

  11. Takeover By Charlie Savage
  12. Takeover tells the story of how a group of true believers, led by VP Cheney, set out to establish near-monarchical executive powers that, in the words of one conservative critic, “will lie around like a loaded weapon” for any future president.  ISBN: 97803161180577.

  13. Her Way By Jeff Gerth and Don Van Natta Jr.
  14. The first truly balanced investigation into the life and career of Hillary Rodham Clinton, Jeff Gerth and Don Van Natta Jr.’s masterful biography.- Also available as audio book.  ISBN: 97803160174358.

  15. Dream in Color By Congresswoman Linda Sánchez and Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez.
  16. Often considered Congress’s Odd Couple, these warm witty sisters are not only perfect role models for young Latinas in the US, but for all young women looking to break out and create a brighter future for themselves.  ISBN: 97804465080499.

  17. From Hope to Higher Ground By Mike Huckabee
  18. In his insightful and plainspoken manner, Mike Huckabee carries hope to Americans and provides practical solutions to current problems in our nation.ISBN: 978159995155310.

  19. The Revolution By Ron Paul
  20. In this book, Texas congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul provides answers to questions that few even dare to ask.  ISBN: 978044653751311.

  21. What You Should Know About Politics . . . But Don’t: A Nonpartisan Guide to the Issues By Jessamyn Conrad.
  22. The first and only issue-based nonpartisan guide to contemporary American politics.

We look forward to seeing a lot of great arguments supporting your candidates in these next three weeks before the election.


With only 11 days to go until November 4th, here is how the contest is shaping up:

Contest Leaderboard:
1   Tamisan  +181 points
2   joecavalry  +164 points
3   Kuklapolitan  +97 points
4   Inkwell  +93 points
5   andsoccer16  +67 points
6   waaykuul  +67 points
7   ThePyg  +63 points
8   kirstie1126  +45 points
9   dcool15  +34 points
10 bmountain  +29 points

Remember, only the top 5 users that accumulate the most points will receive a prize!  BTW, wouldn’t it be sweet if you could view a leaderboard like this from the front page whenever you’d like? Stay tuned!

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Written by Bryan

October 13th, 2008 at 6:15 pm

New Debate Statistics page  

To give more insight into debates and a different sort of view of the arguments people are using in debates, we put together a debate stats page.  The statistics reflect the kind of language people are using to debate their points, including word length, readability scoring of the arguments, and a word frequency cloud.

We’ve been putting up the election debates, like tonight’s Vice Presidential Debate Transcript, and the VP debate stats show that Palin used more complicated phrasing than Biden.  We’re using a standard formula to rate the grade level of the arguments called the Flesh-Kincaid Readability Grade Level formula.  It takes into account the average length of sentences and the average number of syllables in those words to determine the readability of the arguments.

Since the graph of word lengths shows that Biden and Palin used about the same length words, that means her sentences were longer overall. The stats for the Presidential Foreign Policy Debate show that the language level McCain and Obama used was more similar.  Both spoke at an 11th grade level of understandability.

As always, let us know what you think about the stats page, and any suggestions about other sorts of info you would want to know about debates you’re participating in.

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Written by Dan

October 3rd, 2008 at 1:02 am

CreateDebate2008 Widget  

Election Day is closing in so quickly!  We’re happy to announce that we’ve widgetized CreateDebate2008 to help get the word out.  Now its really easy to embed and share accurate election information.

Please help us inform the populace by embedding this widget on your blog, website or social network profile!  The widget is below, give it a whirl and use the get & share tab to distribute.

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Written by Loudacris

September 30th, 2008 at 7:36 pm

Presidential Candidates preparing for debate  

Here at CreateDebate, we’re following the elections closely, especially the debate coverage.  A recent cnn article about how Obama and McCain are preparing for their Presidential debate shows their respective attitudes and strategies.  McCain is continuing to campaign as usual, fitting in practice sessions and preparations with his aides when they can.  Obama has cleared his schedule and is training and preparing by looking through old footage of McCain debates, practicing with an aide playing the part of McCain.

McCain will prioritize the debate practice on Thursday, and doesn’t have a person dedicated to giving rebuttals and cross-talk.  At this point, they’re reviewing facts and questions that are likely to come up.

The two approaches focus on different aspects of the debate.  Obama is prepping hard for the activity of debating, making sure he’s ready for the pace and actions involved in exposing weaknesses in arguments, crafting your own arguments so they withstand fire from your opponent.  At this point McCain is concentrating on the facts, the technicalities that underlie the debate.  He’s memorizing facts and figures that will support his argument when he finally makes them.

Obviously both candidates are preparing for all parts of the debate, but at this point an analogy might be that if they were teams preparing for a big game.  The McCain team is running drills, concentrating on their fundamentals.  The Obama team is doing scrimmages and running game tape to analyze the opponent for weaknesses.  They are concentrating on the overall game.

What the cnn article glosses over is what these preparations might signal about the leadership skills of the candidates.  When the future president prepares to meet with foreign heads of state, what will their preparations be?  When the future president addresses the UN or the congress, how will they approach it?  We’ve had debates about whether the changes in the Vice President debate format were fair, and what the implications for the real world might be.  Watching how the candidates juggle all their obligations and the priorities they assign to the pieces of their campaigns gives us a glimpse at what the future of America might be under their presidency.

Which of the Candidates will be better prepared?   We’ll have to wait till the debate to see.   Let us know what you think about which candidate will win the presidential debate in the debate we have up.

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Written by Dan

September 24th, 2008 at 4:18 pm