I decided to create a topic outlining what I believe to be some important points to remember when debating on this board, or anywhere for that matter, to ensure that the debate that is going on here is constructive and thought provoking. Feel free to add your own suggestions below. I'll also be updating this post periodically when I come up with more ideas over time.1) Don't insult the people you are debating with
Although it may feel like it to you, calling someone an "idiot" or "dumb" or a "bigot" or whatever does not weaken his or her argument nor does it strengthen your own. Although your parents, friends and politicians may give you the impression that debating involves screaming and calling your opponents names, it really shouldn't. I would even avoid calling your opponent's arguments or ideas stupid because one can find that insulting as well.
Instead of attacking a person or their mindset in general, attack his or her arguments and logic. (PROTIP: Attacking someone's logic does not involve typing "YOUR LOGIC IS STUPID AND FLAWED!")
If one of his or her points doesn't seem to make sense, say something like, "Well, I'm not so sure about this point because etc." Try to sound as non-threatening as possible so you don't start a massive flame war that requires the mods' intervention.2) Cite your sources
Now, this doesn't mean you have to add footnotes to your post and include a massive bibliography citing a hundred different papers by prestigious scientists/psycologists/whoever. If you are going to post some controversial information in your post, just say where you heard or saw it. It could be as simple as "I heard from my friend that. . ." This will also force you to think about the credibility of your sources and reflect on the validity of your argument based on these sources. If you are arguing that the world is going to end this Sunday because your crazy uncle said so, maybe you need to consult other sources and see if they can convince you otherwise.
Also, Wikipedia really isn't that
bad. Sure, everyone and their baby nephew can spam it with false information but also remember that anyone can correct it as well. Wikipedia is probably accurate >99% of the time, especially when it comes to well cited articles. Sure, there are better sources but Wikipedia is much better than nothing at all.3) Don't be afraid to admit you are wrong
Believe it or not, it is okay to be wrong and it helps everyone included in the debate when you admit that part or the entirety of your argument is invalid. Nobody is perfect and nobody pops out out nothing but infallible arguments all of the time. Digression isn't the best debate tactic but stripping down your weaker arguments only makes those remaining appear stronger.
It is also okay to admit uncertainty about a component of your argument. If you are not sure about something it is better to say so and maybe check one of your sources later than to lie about it now and say you know something for a fact. If someone does find out you are wrong and points it out, it makes your entire argument look bad.4) Consider your opponents point of view
Chances are, there is a reason why your opponent thinks the way they do. Put yourself in your opponents shoes and try to argue against your own argument. This will help you realize the flaws in your own argument as well as the stronger points you will need to tackle in your opponent's. You may even realized that you were wrong yourself and need to switch sides. This is often the best case scenario because now you know everything about the mind of one of your opponents because you were once one of them.5) You do not "win" a debate by proving your opponent's weakest arguments wrong
You don't "win" a debate until you have addressed all
of your opponents arguments and they admit defeat. (Keep in mind that "winning" the debate doesn't make you right or wrong. It just means you "won" the debate.) Although it helps to get weaker arguments out of the way for cleanliness' sake, what you really want to do is disprove your opponents' strongest arguments. If you cannot, then it may be time to look at your own and test whether or not they are as strong as theirs and decide whether or not it is time to switch sides or become "undecided". (PROTIP: Just because your opponent makes spelling and grammatical errors does not mean that they are an idiot and are therefore completely wrong about everything they talked about.) 6) It is okay to be undecided
Sometimes it is best not to take sides. However, being undecided does not mean you cannot participate in the debate. Feel free to attack either side's arguments and maybe you will eventually find yourself choosing a side after all. Maybe you can act as a kind of moderator between the two arguing parties. (As long as Cort 'n' co. don't mind you stepping on their turf.
Alright, that's all for now. Feel free to add your own suggestions or debate the ones I have already posted. (This is a topic in the "Debate" forum, after all.)