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CreateDebate Featured in Roll Call  

Who Needs the Pundits? Debate It All Online
By Tricia Miller
Roll Call Staff
September 9, 2008

During an election year many people start to channel television pundits such as Keith Olbermann, Chris Matthews or Rachel Maddow. They spend so much time arguing over the water cooler that they start to talk about sending off an audition tape to a number of their favorite cable news shows. And now they have yet another way to sharpen their arguing skills.

Two relatively young Web sites — CreateDebate.com and Debate.com — have recently unveiled election-focused sites that allow aspiring pundits to debate each other online.

While the original sites allowed visitors to debate everything from the best video games to the worst sports teams, the updated sites focus on candidates, political races and local issues.

“I think the whole idea of finding places to debate like this online is catching on,” said Georgetown University political science associate professor Diana Owen. But, she warned, these sites are unlikely to have much effect on the national election.

Owen said she “always gets excited” to see candidates and outside groups develop new Internet ventures to get voters involved but that few of these, including candidate Web sites and YouTube videos, have changed the outcomes of elections.

Entrepreneurs like Bryan Orme hope she’s wrong. His site, CreateDebate.com, is gearing up for the general election by promoting a new politics alias, CreateDebate2008.com, which he and his partners launched in August. The site allows users to initiate a discussion over a political topic — say, Obama vs. McCain — and then support their views. Users argue for one side or the other and then vote for the best arguments. The most popular arguments rise to the top, while unpopular arguments disappear.

For example, in a debate over who will be the next president, user “Kneville” supplied the most popular argument in favor of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

“As much as I think we need a change in the White House, I think that McCain is liberal enough of a Republican to be elected,” Kneville wrote. “Obama is too polarizing and too liberal for the majority of the country. ”

On the other side, a supporter of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) identified as “Sysiphuslove” wrote, “Obama was nominated in an entirely new way — with the power of the Internet behind him, and everything that entails — and he isn’t a serf of the big-money interests that have kept real change from taking place in Washington.”

Orme said high interest in the election made the addition of a separate site focused on politics a natural extension.

“Our target audience is people that are interested in the issues pertinent to that particular debate and want a platform to debate those,” Orme said.

Orme hopes that as the site grows, more users will weigh in on state and local races. When users register on the politics site, they can enter their ZIP codes and see lists of debates on federal races in their area. He also sees it as another tool candidates or staffers could use online. For instance, a candidate could use it to see what his constituents are talking about and even offer rebuttals to those who may misunderstand or disagree with his decisions.

Owen said the idea of these sites having an impact at a local level is more realistic. She said that similar sites in the U.K. and Germany created two years ago helped politicians see which issues their Internet-savvy constituents cared most about.

The second site, Debate.com, began as a relatively simple site late last year. The brainchild of husband-and-wife team Philip and Crystal Ferreira, it has grown to more than 5,000 registered users and was relaunched last week in its third iteration.

The Ferreiras’ site allows an “instigator” to establish a debate topic and a specific number of rounds in the debate. That instigator can then invite another user to represent the other side or wait for someone else to join independently. In the newest version of the site, users can search for opponents based on ideology, geographic location, gender or other characteristics. Once the last round is over, other individuals can cast a vote in favor of one debater or the other, ultimately choosing the winner.

Philip Ferreira said the couple’s own political discussions inspired the idea for Debate.com, though the site hosts debates on a wide variety of subjects. He said they haven’t done much to promote Debate.com at this point and have attracted users by word of mouth, but they will begin advertising now that the most recent update is public.

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Written by Loudacris

September 16th, 2008 at 5:09 pm

People Sort  

There have been several inquiries lately regarding the sort people algorithms.  As many of you have pointed out, the nuts and bolts of a few of the sort methods have changed recently.  I can’t give away all of the secret sauce but here’s a few hints pertaining to how the algorithms work:

Most Outspoken: number of arguments posted
Most Creative: number of debates created
Most Provocative: how many people vote for your arguments
Most Persuasive: how many people like your arguments

The cool part about the people categories is the Activity Period filter. Whenever you change the period, the rankings are determined on-the-fly. Everyday I check to see who’s tops for the day.

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Written by Loudacris

August 28th, 2008 at 7:12 am

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

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised . . .  

No friends, the revolution will be here, online, and soon it will be coming to you in the form of CreateDebate2008.com.

Those of you who have been frequenting CreateDebate already have a feel for how these arguments are designed to stimulate critical thought, engage users, and hopefully provide a platform for useful discussion. In and of itself this is a worthwhile goal, but in the context of an election, it is that much more significant.

Unless you’ve been living in a cave somewhere, then you know that these are very, very exciting times in United States politics. But excitement comes with a bit of peril, does it not?

War, potential recession, credit crunches, and housing bubbles are just a few of the things which have U.S. citizens poised to participate. People are eager to heighten their level of engagement. Citizens are clamoring for a voice and wanting to be heard upon acquiring that voice. And this is true on every side of the political spectrum.

The internet is a major part of this rising tide. For better or for worse, print media is going the way of the dinosaurs, and that leaves us with the internet. That leaves us with an opportunity to be one of the most informed voting populaces which has ever amassed to the polls. There simply are no more excuses!

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Written by PolyMath77

July 29th, 2008 at 1:01 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

Top 10 Religion Debates of All Time  

Ever since mankind has been roaming the Earth, people have been philosophizing on the role of religion in their existence and wondering if there was an “intelligent being” that put them here on this Earth.  Whether it was the Christian God, the Muslim Allah, the Supreme Being of Scientology, the Flying Spaghetti Monster of Pastafarianism, or the evolution of the Atheists, people will argue until they’re blue in the face about their religion.  To me, only one thing is for sure, nobody really knows what happened because none of us were there.  But don’t let that get you down, there are plenty of arguments for and against all sorts of different religious beliefs.  From the highly believable to the “you can’t seriously believe that, can you?” and everywhere in between, CreateDebate presents to you the top 10 Religious Debates of All Time. 

 10.  Was Ra, the Egyptian Sun God,  the father of all the Pharaohs? Ra, the Egyptian Sun God
Ancient Egyptians believed that Ra was the Sun God, commander of the sky, earth, and underworld.  He is the most central god of the Egyptian pantheon. Most Egyptians believed that Pharaohs were the sons of Ra and erected solar temples and obelisks in his honor.  However, some Egyptians did not believe that Ra created the Earth but didn’t have an appropriate outlet to vent their frustrations (especially if they preferred their heads to remain attached to their body).   

9.  Was Haile Sellasie I, the former Emperor of Ethiopa God incarnate? 
Rastafarians believe that Haile Sellasie I is the living God incarnate, or the Messiah, who will lead the people of Africa and African diaspora to freedom.  Rastafarians believe that exiled Africans will one day return to Ethiopa with the help of the Messiah to escape the oppression caused by Babylon.  The Rastafarians movement was started primarily in Jamaica, although the ranks of Rastafarians throughout the world is estimated to be near 1 million strong.   

8.  Is Scientology a cult?
The Church of Scientology, originally founded by L. Ron Hubbard, believes “that Man is basically good, that he is seeking to survive, [and] that his survival depends on himself and upon his fellows and his attainment of brotherhood with the universe” (from Church of Scientology’s statement of beliefs).   However, many people believe that this Church is a cult that was set up as a tax shelter for Hubbard’s Dianetics book profits and that is primarily intended to extract large sums of money from their celebrity cult members.  

7. Was Jesus married to Mary Magdalene?
This debate was popularized by the highly successful (and highly controversial) book “The DaVinci Code” by Dan Brown.   The book claims that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene, had a child, and the Church covered it up through the years for self-serving reasons.  While Brown has stated that the book is fiction, it has caused much debate and controversy, especially within the Roman Catholic Church. 

6.   Are Mormons Christians?
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was founded by Joseph Smith, Jr. in the Spring of 1820 after publishing the Book of Mormon, one of the faith’s scriptures, which Joseph Smith said he translated from plates of gold that were buried near his home in a place shown to him by the angel Moroni. Many traditional Christians reject Mormonism as a Christian religion, claiming that the story of Joseph Smith and the Golden Plates is fiction and that he was not a prophet. 

5.  Was the Flying Spaghetti Monster responsible for intelligent design? Flying Spaghetti Monster
 The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (CoFSM) was founded in 2005 by Bobby Henderson to protest the teaching of intelligent design in school.  Bobby parodies the theory of an intelligent designer by professing belief in a supreme creator made of spaghetti and meatballs. The CoFSM has gained a huge following, primarily on the Internet in response to the Christian movement to teach intelligent design in classrooms.

4. Is Islam a religion of violence or a religion of peace?  
This debate has received much attention, not only on CreateDebate but throughout much of the mainstream media since the terrorist attacks of 9/11.  While Islam’s central tenets preach, several extremists have taken passages from the Qur’an such as, “Make war on them until idolatry shall cease and God’s religion shall reign supreme.” (8:39)” to mean that Muslims are called to kill any non-Muslim to ensure Islam is the supreme religion of the land.   

3.   Jesus Christ: Fact or Fiction? 
Christianity claims that Jesus Christ was the Son of God who was sacrificed to absolve believer’s sins so that Christians could receive eternal life.  The Christian Bible teaches of many miracles performed by Jesus of Nazareth and of his resurrection from the dead.  However, many people dispute that he was the Son of God and that the writings of the Bible are embellished stories chosen by the Church to further their mission.   

2.   Was Mohammed a pedophile?
The Qur’an (Mohammed’s testimonies) and Hadiths (other’s reports on the life of Mohmmed) depict Mohammed marrying a 6 year old girl for his third marriage.  Many people believe that this practice (uncommon in present day) should be viewed as pedophilia.  What do you think? 

1.   Do you believe in God?
This debate still reigns as the Most Popular debate on CreateDebate thus far.  Many people define themselves by their religious beliefs (or lack thereof), which is why it deserves the spot as the number one religious debate of all time.   It seems to me that everyone, no matter what gender, nationality, ethnicity, or age has an opinion on this topic, and they love to share it.

At CreateDebate, we strive to offer an easy to use website to debate any topic that you want; whether it be religious, political, sports, or any other topic you’d like.  We are quickly building a strong community and are rolling out new features almost daily.  If you’re interested in online debating or just want to learn more about what people are arguing, check out CreateDebate

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Written by Bryan

June 30th, 2008 at 9:45 pm

Town Hall Chat Information  

The first ever CreateDebate Town Hall Chat will take place from 4-5 PM EDT on June 26, 2008. The entire CreateDebate team will be on hand to discuss the topics submitted by everyone as well as any other agenda items you’d like to discuss.

We look forward to connecting with the CreateDebate community and understanding more about what you like, what you don’t like, and suggestions for how to continually improve CreateDebate.

Accessing The Town Hall Chat

In order to access the Town Hall chat, simply click here and you’ll be taken to the chat room. The official chat will start at 4 PM EDT and will last about an hour, but the transcript will remain on the site in case you have to miss it.


We’ve received a lot of agenda items from you all and we want to make sure we address your questions. We also want to make sure we leave plenty of time for Q&A, so we’ll try to keep the
agenda light.

For starters, we’ll try to address the following:

  • Rewards Points
  • Debate Voting
  • Giving “props” for a good argument
  • CreateDebate Roadmap

We’re hoping for a big turnout, so be sure to mark your calendars, tell your friends, and bring all of your great ideas on what we can do to continue to make CreateDebate the best social debating site on the Internet.

If you can’t access the link above, the URL for the event is http://www.createdebate.com/townhall

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Written by Loudacris

June 25th, 2008 at 9:26 pm

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

The First Ever CreateDebate Town Hall Chat  

Mark your calendars now!  The first ever CreateDebate Town Hall Chat will take place on Thursday, June 26th at 4 PM EDT.  The CD team will be on hand to answer your questions, listen to your comments and suggestions, and explore any topic you’d like to discuss.

Have a topic you’d like to discuss in the Town Hall?  Post it to the Town Hall debate at any point up to the 26th and we’ll try to address it.  As with everything on CD, the meeting will be totally driven by you, the CreateDebate community.

We look forward to connecting with you all in the first of many Town Halls to come.  Be on the lookout for a communication coming soon regarding the event.  Until then, we’ll keep working hard to ensure CreateDebate remains the top social debating site on the Internet.

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Written by Bryan

June 20th, 2008 at 8:10 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