The Instigator
MMCD
Con (against)
Losing
13 Points
The Contender
brittwaller
Pro (for)
Winning
25 Points

Is Debate.org a fair democracy?

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 9 votes the winner is...
brittwaller
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/18/2010 Category: Politics
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,397 times Debate No: 11463
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (11)
Votes (9)

 

MMCD

Con

Debate.org offers us many trappings of democracy. Open participation and the opportunity to vote. Does this make it a democracy or merely an institution with the trappings of democracy?

Is the voting system fair and transparent? Is there anything to prevent people from creating additional voices to support themselves, aka 'sock puppets'? Can an election on debate.org be subverted or taken over?

Debate.org allows for voting on the debate results, but not on their policies. Is this a autocracy masquerading as a democracy?

Is the voting system just window dressing to give us a sense of participation rather then meaningful influence?
brittwaller

Pro

Thank you for posting.

First, some definitions.

Democracy -
–noun,plural-cies.
1. government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system.
2. a state having such a form of government: The United States and Canada are democracies.
3. a state of society characterized by formal equality of rights and privileges.
4. political or social equality; democratic spirit.
5. the common people of a community as distinguished from any privileged class; the common people with respect to their political power.

http://dictionary.reference.com...

fair -
–adjective
1. free from bias, dishonesty, or injustice: a fair decision; a fair judge.
2. legitimately sought, pursued, done, given, etc.; proper under the rules: a fair fight.
3. moderately large; ample: a fair income.
4. neither excellent nor poor; moderately or tolerably good: fair health.
5. marked by favoring conditions; likely; promising: in a fair way to succeed.

http://dictionary.reference.com...

I assume the primary question (and there were plenty) we are concerned with would be, "Is debate.org a fair democracy?"

Of course not. Nor is it an unfair democracy -- it is not a democracy to begin with, it is a privately owned website, which as most know makes no such claim as being a "democracy," or fair. Why would you think to begin with that this is either?

"Does this make it a democracy or merely an institution with the trappings of democracy?"
-Neither.

"Is the voting system fair and transparent?"
-It is transparent. No "voting system" is fair.

"Is there anything to prevent people from creating additional voices to support themselves, aka 'sock puppets'?"
-I believe that IP addresses are logged, so yes, even though I also think this can be avoided via proxy server. A person has to have a (valid?) phone number to vote at all, but this has never stopped anyone from attempting to create multiple accounts.

"Can an election on debate.org be subverted or taken over?"
-Election?

"Debate.org allows for voting on the debate results, but not on their policies. Is this a autocracy masquerading as a democracy?"
-It is a business, ostensibly.

"Is the voting system just window dressing to give us a sense of participation rather then meaningful influence?"
-If that's how you prefer to take it, yes. You tell me. I look forward to it.
Debate Round No. 1
MMCD

Con

I'd like to thank my opponent for his use of the dictionary, it is useful for us to understand the terms at hand. However, democracy is a more nuanced term then what we find in the dictionary. It is complex, multifaceted and has a number of sides to consider. We should not focus so much on semantics that we lose focus on what this debate is about.

John Simon said that:
Democracy encourages the majority to decide things about which the majority is ignorant.

Debate.org does fulfill this qualfication. I would concede that there is a genuinely democratic spirit, we are encouraged to ask about anything. In fact, the presence of this debate, shows that we are permitted to challenge and question existing power structures, this alone does not make a fair democracy.

"Democracy is the only system that persists in asking the powers that be whether they are the powers that ought to be." - Sidney Harris

Here we are not encouraged. The administration of this site and the formulation of its policies are a 'black box' - we do not how they are formulated or how it is run. There is no transparency to the system.

To argue that no voting system is fair is to undermine every electoral system. If all voting wasnt fair, then no government would be legitimate. Our faith in governments is based on the belief that an election was fair and broadly representive of the peoples wishes. It is in this vein that we say the people have been given the government a mandate to do whatever. In systems where we see the election as unfair, we do not award government any sort of agency, they were just merely elected, but do not have any sort of mandate from the people and likely very little obligation to do anything for the electorate. So we do try to distinguish between fair and unfair elections, and the distinction is important and meaningful.

We bring our expectations about elections into plenty of other forums, we have student council elections, condominium group meetings, and elections are a common way of selecting people in clubs and businesses. To argue that this is a business and imply it is not an appropriate place to have democratic expectations rings hollow. Businesses employ elections and voting structures when it suits their purpose. Though let me be clear, I'm not arguing that businesses are democracies, merely that there is a role for democracy within businesses. I would argue that businesses are not fair democracies, they merely use elections and voting in limited, usually insignificant ways to reinforce the trappings of democracy.

Online communities are not necessarily top-down, authoritatively run businesses. Wikipedia is an example of an online community that allows for considerable involvement by their members. The policies are formulated through a consensus of the members. No equivalent exists in debate.org.

If IP addresses are logged, is there any evidence that these are policed for manipulation? If would require some effort on behalf on debate.org, though not alot. Can we see any evidence that there is an attempt to curb manipulation of the voting on the debates? If there isnt, then how can we have any confidence in these processes?

Voting on debate.org (rather then an election) can be subverted the manipulation of the system. It would be fairly easy to 'game' the system by voting multiple times yourself. This is different then persuading or manipulating your friends to vote for you in a debate, that on the other hand is a legitimate tactic used everywhere in every election. Stuffing the ballot box however isnt.
brittwaller

Pro

Again, thanks to my opponent for posting.

"I'd like to thank my opponent for his use of the dictionary, it is useful for us to understand the terms at hand. However, democracy is a more nuanced term then what we find in the dictionary. It is complex, multifaceted and has a number of sides to consider."
- Perhaps. However, until you can provide a definition that expresses the subtleties of democracy, I will rely on the dictionary I used in R1.

"John Simon said that:
'Democracy encourages the majority to decide things about which the majority is ignorant.'
Debate.org does fulfill this qualification. I would concede that there is a genuinely democratic spirit, we are encouraged to ask about anything. In fact, the presence of this debate, shows that we are permitted to challenge and question existing power structures, this alone does not make a fair democracy."
-This debate challenges no power structure. The power structure is: Phil. That's it. If anything, debate.org is more of a monarchy than a democracy. Phil owns the site, he has total control over its existence and content, and if you "challenge" or "question" his rights to this authority, he can ban you, within his rights. Ask Askbob.
http://ddofans.com...
http://ddofans.com...

"'Democracy is the only system that persists in asking the powers that be whether they are the powers that ought to be.' - Sidney Harris
Here we are not encouraged. The administration of this site and the formulation of its policies are a 'black box' - we do not how they are formulated or how it is run. There is no transparency to the system."
-This is a non-issue. DDO makes no claim to be a democracy, and because Phil owns the website, it is HIS to run as HE pleases. Separately, even true democracies are not transparent to their constituents.

"To argue that no voting system is fair is to undermine every electoral system. If all voting wasn't fair, then no government would be legitimate."
-I believe you hit the nail on the head.

"Online communities are not necessarily top-down, authoritatively run businesses."
- True. This one, however, happens to be.

"If IP addresses are logged, is there any evidence that these are policed for manipulation? If would require some effort on behalf on debate.org, though not a lot. Can we see any evidence that there is an attempt to curb manipulation of the voting on the debates? If there isn't, then how can we have any confidence in these processes?"
- http://www.debate.org... see page 2

"Voting on debate.org (rather then an election) can be subverted [via?] the manipulation of the system. It would be fairly easy to 'game' the system by voting multiple times yourself. This is different then persuading or manipulating your friends to vote for you in a debate, that on the other hand is a legitimate tactic used everywhere in every election. Stuffing the ballot box however isn't."
- This brings out the second part of my argument. Although DDO is NOT a democracy, insofar as "democratic" features are concerned, it is as fair as any other democracy. Stuffing the ballot box, gerrymandering, lobbying (aka bribery) are all tactics used by the parties vying for power within democracies. Though not legitimate, they are part of the reality of what a democracy in fact is.
http://www.washingtonpost.com...

So:
1. Democracy involves power, mandated from the community (democracy is literally "rule by the people") to a government. DDO is not a government, and the only democratic process we have here, voting, is exercised not to form any kind of government over us, but only to select the winner of a debate.
2. Insofar as voting on debates is "democratic," it is fair.

I look forward to your final round.
Debate Round No. 2
MMCD

Con

Thank you for posting your comments

Many of your comments bolster my argument however, that debate.org is not a fair democracy. You concede a number of points, that debate.org is in many ways not a democracy. You agree that the power structure is not democratic. The question is not does debate.org fulfill its claim to be a fair democracy, but is it a fair democracy. The fact is not make a claim to be democratic is irrelevant, we are only considering whether or not it is democratic.

Most democracies are transparent to their constituents in most of their processes. Elections are held with the whole process being shown in public. Laws are made in public, through a visible process. Debate.org does not have this level of transparency.

You've also argued that no voting is fair, and that no government is legitimate. If you believed that to the core, then we should all rise up against tyranny. I think few people really feel that way in our democracies. We think the process has flaws, but none so great that it compromises our belief in the legitimacy of governments. We do not think every election was stolen and the process manipulated. What we are asking is if the election is sufficient to satisfy our expectations of a reasonable process. You do show evidence of how the IP addresses are logged, and this does reinforce the integrity of the electoral system. I have more confidence that the voting process for the debates has more legitimacy to know this... but really, it does not address the concerns about the power structure.

Without a democratic element to the power structure, I cannot really call debate.org a fair democracy. The mere presence of democratic trappings such as voting on elections is window dressing is the real question of the power structure is undemocratic. Even the most undemocratic places, such as the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China have elections and legislatures, but this is only meant to distract from the fact that these elections do not elect the real power structure.

Online, we have a choice in how online communities are run and structured. There is a variety of power structures, and some offer meaningful user participation, but debate.org is a monarchy as you say. Not only can we not have a say in the power structures, but we cannot create the policies that rule this community.
brittwaller

Pro

Thank you for creating this debate.

"Many of your comments bolster my argument however, that debate.org is not a fair democracy."
- This is only because I am arguing that DDO is not a democracy. If DDO is not a democracy, it cannot be a fair democracy.

"You concede a number of points, that debate.org is in many ways not a democracy."
- Rather, DDO is in *no* way a democracy. The democratic element, voting on debates, selects the winner of a debate and nothing more. There is no competition for power, as there is no power to be won.

"The question is not does debate.org fulfill its claim to be a fair democracy, but is it a fair democracy. The fact is not [DDO does not] make a claim to be democratic is irrelevant[?], we are only considering whether or not it is democratic."
- Not according to the debate topic. Again, in order for DDO to be a "fair democracy" it has to be a democracy. It is not; thus, you are asking the wrong question. If you make a debate similar to this again, you should simply be the PRO for an unambiguous *statement* such as: "DDO is not a democracy." As it is, you see to assume that DDO already is a democracy, but that it is not a fair one.
I am aware semantic arguments have gone out of style; sue me.

"Most democracies are transparent to their constituents in most of their processes. Elections are held with the whole process being shown in public. Laws are made in public, through a visible process. Debate.org does not have this level of transparency."
- Nor does DDO have constituents*, elections to power, or laws.
*http://dictionary.reference.com...

"What we are asking is if the election is sufficient to satisfy our expectations of a reasonable process. You do show evidence of how the IP addresses are logged, and this does reinforce the integrity of the electoral system. I have more confidence that the voting process for the debates has more legitimacy to know this... but really, it does not address the concerns about the power structure."
- In other words, the democratic element of voting on debate winners is as "fair" as it can be.

"Without a democratic element to the power structure, I cannot really call debate.org a fair democracy."
- And you would be correct.

"Online, we have a choice in how online communities are run and structured."
- Not while on DDO.

"There is a variety of power structures, and some offer meaningful user participation, but debate.org is a monarchy as you say."
- This statement renders discussion of "fair" democracy void.

"Not only can we not have a say in the power structures, but we cannot create the policies that rule this community."
- As a general rule, a king's subjects are not privy to such things.

Long live King Phil I!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Debate Round No. 3
11 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Sorrow 7 years ago
Sorrow
It is both a democracy and oligarchy. You could say that when a few particular individuals vote on a subject and you see that they have a 99% win rate, people tend to agree with their decisions wholly, no matter their own personal opinion.

Voting may be a disillusion, as voters tend to jump on bandwagons or "votebomb" constantly, but this is a debate forum, so consensus will never be reached.

I've never seen moderators post or debate either, and as the debate terms are chosen by us and automatically ensured through bots, we can conclude that the majority does indeed rule.
Posted by brittwaller 7 years ago
brittwaller
Did I? I haven't debated in a while, I think that's it.
Posted by Korashk 7 years ago
Korashk
brittwaller, all you did was support Con's side with different arguments.
Posted by InsertNameHere 7 years ago
InsertNameHere
It's not. Europeans can't vote. >.<
Posted by Puck 7 years ago
Puck
"If IP addresses are logged, is there any evidence that these are policed for manipulation? "

Yes. lol
Posted by MMCD 7 years ago
MMCD
Kinesis: hahaha, cute. No, this is my only account.
Posted by joedoe 7 years ago
joedoe
"3. a state of society characterized by formal equality of rights and privileges."

You mean dat one?
Posted by Korashk 7 years ago
Korashk
Pro's arguments seem fairly weak to me so far. Also, in my opinion DDO fits one of the provided definitions of democracy that you provided fairly well. Definition #3 by the way.
Posted by Puck 7 years ago
Puck
Clearly it's brittwaller's. >.>
Posted by Koopin 7 years ago
Koopin
Whose 2nd account is this?
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