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DDO Ethics

Lifeisgood
Posts: 295
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7/9/2009 8:47:44 AM
Posted: 7 years ago
I'm still uncertain as to the specific ethics of DDO.... Here are some things I am unsure about.

1) BOP. I had always assumed the instigator usually carried the burden of proof, until Skeptic told me otherwise. The whole issue seems so confusing to me.

2) First-round arguments. Does the instigator have a polite obligation to give an argument in the first round? Or does it work better for the instigator if he does not post first-round arguments? Is it the other way around?

3) Advertisement. I noticed that several members advertise their recent debates on their signatures. Is this... poor manners? Also, what about voting for yourself or sending messages to others to vote for you? What about voting for yourself when your opponent cannot?

4) Friendships. What exactly is the relationship between friends? Are friends obliged to analyze/vote on each other's debates, or what?

5) Semantics. What exactly qualifies a semantic argument? Is it any argument based upon words? Or is it an argument based upon words that takes the debate away from it's original purpose? I thought it was the first, but I'm not sure anymore.

6) Definitions. Who must give the definitions, and must the other person always accept them? Also, which dictionary sources are considered 'reliable'?

This is all for now, but I still have a few more. I post them when I remember.
Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt." - Abraham Lincoln
Lifeisgood
Posts: 295
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7/9/2009 9:07:15 AM
Posted: 7 years ago
Also, what about arguing in the comments section of a debate?
Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt." - Abraham Lincoln
Rezzealaux
Posts: 2,251
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7/9/2009 9:08:28 AM
Posted: 7 years ago
At 7/9/2009 8:47:44 AM, Lifeisgood wrote:
I'm still uncertain as to the specific ethics of DDO.... Here are some things I am unsure about.

I'm not exactly DDO mainstream, but here are my thoughts.

1) BOP. I had always assumed the instigator usually carried the burden of proof, until Skeptic told me otherwise. The whole issue seems so confusing to me.

Each claim has its own BOP - this includes the resolution. My argument is that the resolutional BOP is of much greater significance than the individual BOP's for contentions, and thus the instigator has "The BOP".

2) First-round arguments. Does the instigator have a polite obligation to give an argument in the first round? Or does it work better for the instigator if he does not post first-round arguments? Is it the other way around?

I think it's generally preferred that the instigator say something in his R1.

3) Advertisement. I noticed that several members advertise their recent debates on their signatures. Is this... poor manners? Also, what about voting for yourself or sending messages to others to vote for you? What about voting for yourself when your opponent cannot?

Advertise: personal choice. I find it rather unsightly, but I don't mind much.
Sending messages: to VIEW debates is fine. to VOTE FOR YOU, no.
Voting for yourself: I vote for myself. Whether my opponent can or can't is their problem.

4) Friendships. What exactly is the relationship between friends? Are friends obliged to analyze/vote on each other's debates, or what?

Are friends on MMORPG's obligated to help each other grind?
Are friends on MMOFPS's obligated to stay on the same team?
TBH, this is a stupid question.

5) Semantics. What exactly qualifies a semantic argument? Is it any argument based upon words? Or is it an argument based upon words that takes the debate away from it's original purpose? I thought it was the first, but I'm not sure anymore.

When people call semantics, they're basically saying "You steered the debate to a place where I do not know how to respond, therefore you are a bad person and everyone who doesn't agree with me is also a bad person". Semantics can pretty much only happen on DDO debates if the instigator neglects to define the key terms. Which means they really have no right to complain about their contender if the contender decides to go for "semantics".

6) Definitions. Who must give the definitions, and must the other person always accept them? Also, which dictionary sources are considered 'reliable'?

If the contender gives definitions, the instigator should not change them. If the instigator does not like the definitions, they don't have to take the debate.

If the contender gives some definitions, the instigator can add.

If the contender gives no definitions, the instigator can make them

Most people will not refute dictionary sources.
: If you weren't new here, you'd know not to feed me such attention. This is like an orgasm in my brain right now. *hehe, my name is in a title, hehe* (http://www.debate.org...)

Just in case I get into some BS with FREEDO again about how he's NOT a narcissist.

"The law is there to destroy evil under the constitutional government."
So... what's there to destroy evil inside of and above the constitutional government?
KRFournier
Posts: 690
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7/9/2009 9:15:39 AM
Posted: 7 years ago
Debate.org is an informal debating site, so these ethics will basically vary from person to person. Some things are widely accepted. For example, it's widely accepted to be wrong to vote in favor of a debater that forfeited.

Others are pretty gray, such as burden of proof. I happen to agree with you that BOP is the instigator. Others think it lies with Pro. This is one reason why I only accept debates in which the instigator is Pro, as it eliminates confusion. Although, even then, some people place BOP on the person with the most "outrageous" claim, whatever that means.

Semantics is a gray area too. For example, I think it's valid to attack a resolution based on it being an absolute assertion, such as "Elvies never died." However, I do get annoyed when someone works are to establish a debate with an opening argument just to be attacked using an alternative definition or interpretation of the resolution. Either way, given the informality of DDO, it's important to word your resolution carefully and take what comes. The best debaters on this site can turn any attempt at semantics in their favor.

In the end, I think the key is to show respect. If someone throws BOP at you, then provide it. After all, you did take a position on the matter. If someone uses semantics, then roll with it or call it out in a way that makes your opponent look like their not really debating. If you want to advertise your debates, do so with the expectation that people may vote against you. This is my rule of thumb.
MTGandP
Posts: 702
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7/9/2009 12:05:39 PM
Posted: 7 years ago
At 7/9/2009 8:47:44 AM, Lifeisgood wrote:
I'm still uncertain as to the specific ethics of DDO.... Here are some things I am unsure about.
Most people here are unsure about the same issues.

1) BOP. I had always assumed the instigator usually carried the burden of proof, until Skeptic told me otherwise. The whole issue seems so confusing to me.
Burden of proof depends on the resolution. Usually, though, both sides have burden of proof.

2) First-round arguments. Does the instigator have a polite obligation to give an argument in the first round? Or does it work better for the instigator if he does not post first-round arguments? Is it the other way around?
My personal policy is this:
-If I'm Pro, I post an opening argument.
-If I'm Con but still have half of the burden of proof, I post an opening argument.
-If I'm Con but Pro has more burden of proof, I let Pro go first.

3) Advertisement. I noticed that several members advertise their recent debates on their signatures. Is this... poor manners? Also, what about voting for yourself or sending messages to others to vote for you? What about voting for yourself when your opponent cannot?
I have no personal problem with ads. With voting, you should vote fairly, of course. I usually vote for myself even if I think my opponent may have done a little better, but if it's clear that my opponent won then I'll vote for my opponent.

4) Friendships. What exactly is the relationship between friends? Are friends obliged to analyze/vote on each other's debates, or what?
Some people (like mongeese) are selective about their friends. Some others (like s0m31john) have hundreds of friends. Either perspective has its advantages. But I don't think friends are really obligated to do much.

5) Semantics. What exactly qualifies a semantic argument? Is it any argument based upon words? Or is it an argument based upon words that takes the debate away from it's original purpose? I thought it was the first, but I'm not sure anymore.
Any argument based on words and definitions. However, this usually takes the debate away from its original purpose.

6) Definitions. Who must give the definitions, and must the other person always accept them? Also, which dictionary sources are considered 'reliable'?
Usually the instigator in round one gives definitions. Unless the instigator says something like "by accepting this debate you accept my definitions", the contender may offer "better" definitions and explain to the voters why they are better.

For online dictionaries, http://www.merriam-webster.com... and http://www.thefreedictionary.com... are the best. http://dictionary.reference.com... is also reputable, though not quite as common. http://plato.stanford.edu... is a really good encyclopedia of philosophy. Some people like to use Wikipedia for definitions; I personally don't use it for definitions, but it's usually reliable and has a broader range of subjects than other dictionaries or encyclopedias. Black's Law Dictionary, though not available online, is the official source for definitions in LD debate.
iamadragon
Posts: 157
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7/9/2009 12:13:12 PM
Posted: 7 years ago
Arguing about the "burden of proof" is stupid, a waste of time, and something only annoying fools resort to. We can all avoid fooling around with that garbage if we:

Make claims.
Support those claims.

That's how a debate works. Then, we can:

Refute those claims.
Make other claims.
Support those claims.

Voila, a debate, and no fooling around with idiocy.
Lifeisgood
Posts: 295
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7/9/2009 1:19:53 PM
Posted: 7 years ago
At 7/9/2009 9:08:28 AM, Rezzealaux wrote:
Each claim has its own BOP - this includes the resolution. My argument is that the resolutional BOP is of much greater significance than the individual BOP's for contentions, and thus the instigator has "The BOP".

That's exactly what I thought, but Skeptic told me that that was only the case in 'real life'. I didn't understand that.

I think it's generally preferred that the instigator say something in his R1.

Well of course he has to say something. Otherwise, he'd get killed by semantic debaters. But I was talking more about the arguments and such.

Advertise: personal choice. I find it rather unsightly, but I don't mind much.
Sending messages: to VIEW debates is fine. to VOTE FOR YOU, no.
Voting for yourself: I vote for myself. Whether my opponent can or can't is their problem.

Okay.

Are friends on MMORPG's obligated to help each other grind?
Are friends on MMOFPS's obligated to stay on the same team?
TBH, this is a stupid question.

I didn't understand any of that. How is my question stupid? I have never had an online friend before, and I'm not sure what it means. I was giving a suggestion because I had no idea.

When people call semantics, they're basically saying "You steered the debate to a place where I do not know how to respond, therefore you are a bad person and everyone who doesn't agree with me is also a bad person". Semantics can pretty much only happen on DDO debates if the instigator neglects to define the key terms. Which means they really have no right to complain about their contender if the contender decides to go for "semantics".

Okay. So your saying that semantic arguments here are arguments that take the debate away from its original purpose, right? And you are also saying that semantic arguments are justified, correct?

If the contender gives definitions, the instigator should not change them. If the instigator does not like the definitions, they don't have to take the debate.

Wait a minute... didn't the instigator start the debate in the first place...? Or do mean the contender? And is there any case when the instigator can change the definitions?

Most people will not refute dictionary sources.

What I was asking was if some dictionary sources are more reliable than others.
Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt." - Abraham Lincoln
brian_eggleston
Posts: 3,347
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7/9/2009 1:57:17 PM
Posted: 7 years ago
Personally speaking, I believe the opponent should follow the instigator's lead: LD, informal, serious, humorous or whatever.

However, I do agree that advertising is in very poor taste.
Visit the burglars' bulletin board: http://www.break-in-news.com...
Lifeisgood
Posts: 295
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7/9/2009 2:07:05 PM
Posted: 7 years ago
At 7/9/2009 1:57:17 PM, brian_eggleston wrote:
However, I do agree that advertising is in very poor taste.

Uuh...
Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt." - Abraham Lincoln
mongeese
Posts: 5,387
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7/9/2009 3:37:21 PM
Posted: 7 years ago
At 7/9/2009 8:47:44 AM, Lifeisgood wrote:

1) BOP. I had always assumed the instigator usually carried the burden of proof, until Skeptic told me otherwise. The whole issue seems so confusing to me.
The way I see it, it is on the Instigator, unless the Instigator specifically states that the debate will be an exception, with CON having BoP.
2) First-round arguments. Does the instigator have a polite obligation to give an argument in the first round? Or does it work better for the instigator if he does not post first-round arguments? Is it the other way around?
I think that that's their choice. Of course, it opens up semantics.
3) Advertisement. I noticed that several members advertise their recent debates on their signatures. Is this... poor manners? Also, what about voting for yourself or sending messages to others to vote for you? What about voting for yourself when your opponent cannot?
Sig advertising is perfectly fine.
Voting for yourself is okay, although it is polite to not vote on debates where your opponent can't vote.
I ask my friends to look over my debate, but not to vote for me. They sometimes vote against me.
4) Friendships. What exactly is the relationship between friends? Are friends obliged to analyze/vote on each other's debates, or what?
As MTGandP said, I am more selective about friends, so I ask some of my closer friends to review my debates.
5) Semantics. What exactly qualifies a semantic argument? Is it any argument based upon words? Or is it an argument based upon words that takes the debate away from it's original purpose? I thought it was the first, but I'm not sure anymore.
Semantics is when the Instigator fails to establish anything in the first round, allowing the Contender to take the debate in any direction that he pleases. I find this perfectly okay, because it encourages creativity and for the Instigator to do something about it.
6) Definitions. Who must give the definitions, and must the other person always accept them? Also, which dictionary sources are considered 'reliable'?
I always use Merriam-Webster. Generally, definitions are decided by whoever decides them first.

Well, those are my answers.
Rezzealaux
Posts: 2,251
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7/9/2009 5:08:46 PM
Posted: 7 years ago
That's exactly what I thought, but Skeptic told me that that was only the case in 'real life'. I didn't understand that.

I'm not sure what "real life" is referring to, so I can't really respond to that.

Well of course he has to say something. Otherwise, he'd get killed by semantic debaters. But I was talking more about the arguments and such.

That's what I meant, it's generally preferred that the OP gives his case.

I didn't understand any of that. How is my question stupid? I have never had an online friend before, and I'm not sure what it means. I was giving a suggestion because I had no idea.

I was giving examples about other types of online friends. World of Warcraft is a famous MMORPG, Halo 3 is a famous MMOFPS. If you didn't understand any of that, then it's clear you're new to the internets.

In any case, this question has now been answered by another user.

Okay. So your saying that semantic arguments here are arguments that take the debate away from its original purpose, right? And you are also saying that semantic arguments are justified, correct?

The thing is, I don't buy this "original purpose" argument. If OP fails to define the resolution clearly, then I will define the resolution in a way that will benefit me the most. Humans are incapable of reading the "true intention" of another person outside of that person's actions. If OP is such a failure at communicating what they're trying to debate in their R1, then I'd think it's even a preferable choice to employ "semantics".

I don't get why people are all opposed to semantics. It's just another tool in the box, and just because it's in there doesn't mean it's gonna be used all the time. The common argument against semantics-ism is that it'll be abused to define like, United States to be some micro-island-country in Northern Europe. Though I agree that semantics can be done ridiculously, I think the voter will have enough common sense and enough courage to just say, "what the f*ck is this?" to the semantics debater.

Semantics is just another tool in the box.
Doesn't mean it'll be used on everything.

If the contender gives definitions, the instigator should not change them. If the instigator does not like the definitions, they don't have to take the debate.

Wait a minute... didn't the instigator start the debate in the first place...? Or do mean the contender? And is there any case when the instigator can change the definitions?

Oh. Whoops. You're right. I meant "If the instigator gives definitions, the contender should not change them. If the contender does not like the definitions, they don't have to take the debate."

What I was asking was if some dictionary sources are more reliable than others.

I'm not sure what you mean? I don't understand the concept of an unreliable dictionary. Most dictionaries have pretty much the same definitions for every word. Perhaps an unabridged dictionary will give you etymologies and obsolete usages and etc., but it really doesn't matter all that much.

If you want to look formal and prestigious, go for Oxford or American Heritage. If you don't care, just go for dictionary.com. If you want a specifically worded definition, go find your own dictionary site.
: If you weren't new here, you'd know not to feed me such attention. This is like an orgasm in my brain right now. *hehe, my name is in a title, hehe* (http://www.debate.org...)

Just in case I get into some BS with FREEDO again about how he's NOT a narcissist.

"The law is there to destroy evil under the constitutional government."
So... what's there to destroy evil inside of and above the constitutional government?
TheSkeptic
Posts: 1,362
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7/9/2009 6:07:36 PM
Posted: 7 years ago
At 7/9/2009 5:08:46 PM, Rezzealaux wrote:
That's exactly what I thought, but Skeptic told me that that was only the case in 'real life'. I didn't understand that.

I'm not sure what "real life" is referring to, so I can't really respond to that.

Let me clarify that, since I put it somewhat poorly.

I think the idea of a BOP would only be applicable in real life situations. If someone where to walk up to you and say "prove ghosts don't exist", the burden is not on you but on him. For he is the one instigating the conversation/debate about it, so it should be at least his onus to conjure up some evidence for his position. In a more realistic situation is when dealing with the law. Someone always have the burden of proof while the other had the burden of assumption, also known as being innocent until proven guilty.

In a debate I'd reckon it's different. Both sides come into agreement about a certain resolution, so both sides need to demonstrate why they hold their position on the topic. No one is forcing you to debate, so the burden should be at equal footing.

I suspect the reason why people get confused about the application of the BOP in debating is because it is a concept used regularly in law and science, which are similar but still different situations from a debate.
resolutionsmasher
Posts: 579
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7/9/2009 6:54:08 PM
Posted: 7 years ago
Everyone has the burdent of proof to prove what they say is right and what their opponent says is wrong. I either is not addressed then you're not debating with all of your marbles.

The whole definition of being the instigator implies that you are giving the oppening arguements. If you think that a debate is important enough to post then you put an opening arguement. Of course if someone takes your incomplete challenge then they have no room to complain.

It's you sig. Do what you want.

Semantics aren't clearly defined. If you think it's relevant and usefull then post it. Just know that you do so at your own risk. Read the TOS if you got a question.

Always give your own definitions. Never agree to an opponent's and always check your opponent's definitions for lying.
In the relationship between Obama and the rest of the U.S..... I think the U.S. is getting the short end of the hockey stick.
resolutionsmasher
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7/9/2009 6:55:14 PM
Posted: 7 years ago
At 7/9/2009 9:07:15 AM, Lifeisgood wrote:
Also, what about arguing in the comments section of a debate?

Go for it. That's what it's there for.
In the relationship between Obama and the rest of the U.S..... I think the U.S. is getting the short end of the hockey stick.
Alex
Posts: 2,058
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7/9/2009 7:13:19 PM
Posted: 7 years ago
BOP.

Pro argues and proves the resolution.

Con argues and negates the resolution.

Both must prove their own arguments for them to be valid.

Fair enough yeah?
Why kill people who kill people to show that killing people is wrong?
ToastOfDestiny
Posts: 990
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7/9/2009 7:14:09 PM
Posted: 7 years ago
1) BOP. I had always assumed the instigator usually carried the burden of proof, until Skeptic told me otherwise. The whole issue seems so confusing to me.
My rule is that the BOP is always on the claimant. As an LD debater, if my opponent makes a claim, I expect there is logic or a source to back it up. I feel placing a BOP on the Instigator alone is unfair - it can lead to the impossible, like proving a negative.

2) First-round arguments. Does the instigator have a polite obligation to give an argument in the first round? Or does it work better for the instigator if he does not post first-round arguments? Is it the other way around?
I'm not sure. It would depend on the resolution, and how formal the debate is. If it's a structured, LD/PF/Policy debate, the instigator should post their first round argument. Otherwise, I'm not sure. If the instigator fails to post an R1 argument, then pulls some semantics trap in R2, they lose a conduct point.

3) Advertisement. I noticed that several members advertise their recent debates on their signatures. Is this... poor manners? Also, what about voting for yourself or sending messages to others to vote for you? What about voting for yourself when your opponent cannot?
I don't mind someone advertising one debate, so long as it is tied or they have been vote-abused. I vote for myself, unless my opponent states he/she cannot. Feel free to vote for yourself. Presidential candidates do it all the time.

4) Friendships. What exactly is the relationship between friends? Are friends obliged to analyze/vote on each other's debates, or what?
Nope. Unless you actually know a DDO friend, there is no obligation. I view friendship as an acknowledgement of somebody on this site.

5) Semantics. What exactly qualifies a semantic argument? Is it any argument based upon words? Or is it an argument based upon words that takes the debate away from it's original purpose? I thought it was the first, but I'm not sure anymore.
It depends on how the person who has been semanticated reacts.

If the instigator has a clear resolution and intent to debate, but the contender twists definitions, I frown on semantics. The instigator must point this out in later rounds, however.

If the instigator has a clear resolution, but doesn't respond to being semanticated (like in the debate "poison is bad") and the contender effectively argues his definition, then I'm fine with it.

If the instigator lays a semantics trap, I'm against it.

6) Definitions. Who must give the definitions, and must the other person always accept them? Also, which dictionary sources are considered 'reliable'?
I'll take definitions from any large dictionary source.
At 10/11/2009 8:28:18 PM, banker wrote:
Our demise and industrial destruction
At 10/11/2009 10:00:21 PM, regebro wrote:
Only exists in your head, as already shown.

At 10/11/2009 8:28:18 PM, banker wrote:
reveal why you answer with a question mark
At 10/11/2009 10:00:21 PM, regebro wrote:
Because it was a question.

RFDs Pl0x:
http://www.debate.org...
Rezzealaux
Posts: 2,251
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7/10/2009 12:53:54 AM
Posted: 7 years ago
At 7/9/2009 6:07:36 PM, TheSkeptic wrote:
At 7/9/2009 5:08:46 PM, Rezzealaux wrote:
That's exactly what I thought, but Skeptic told me that that was only the case in 'real life'. I didn't understand that.

I'm not sure what "real life" is referring to, so I can't really respond to that.

Let me clarify that, since I put it somewhat poorly.

I think the idea of a BOP would only be applicable in real life situations. If someone where to walk up to you and say "prove ghosts don't exist", the burden is not on you but on him. For he is the one instigating the conversation/debate about it, so it should be at least his onus to conjure up some evidence for his position. In a more realistic situation is when dealing with the law. Someone always have the burden of proof while the other had the burden of assumption, also known as being innocent until proven guilty.

If you say "ghosts don't exist", you have burden of proof. If another guy comes up to you and says "prove ghosts don't exist", you don't have BoP, because you didn't say anything. If the other guy says "ghosts exists, prove that they don't", he has a burden of proof he's neglecting and he's attempting to place one on you that you don't have - until you start arguing that ghosts don't exist. At which point both of you would have a BoP.

I don't buy innocent until proven guilty.
It is a false dichotomy.

In a debate I'd reckon it's different. Both sides come into agreement about a certain resolution, so both sides need to demonstrate why they hold their position on the topic. No one is forcing you to debate, so the burden should be at equal footing.

Debate's differences are not significant when it comes to BoP. Using the previous example, let's say that guy makes a debate where he is PRO, for "Ghosts exist". If you take the CON, you do not have to argue that "Ghosts do not exist", all you have to do is show that PRO fails to prove the resolutional BoP.

I suspect the reason why people get confused about the application of the BOP in debating is because it is a concept used regularly in law and science, which are similar but still different situations from a debate.

It ought to be a concept embedded in common sense, but whatever. With >85% of the world religious, it shouldn't be that surprising...
: If you weren't new here, you'd know not to feed me such attention. This is like an orgasm in my brain right now. *hehe, my name is in a title, hehe* (http://www.debate.org...)

Just in case I get into some BS with FREEDO again about how he's NOT a narcissist.

"The law is there to destroy evil under the constitutional government."
So... what's there to destroy evil inside of and above the constitutional government?
burningpuppies101
Posts: 1,268
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7/10/2009 6:02:29 AM
Posted: 7 years ago
At 7/9/2009 8:47:44 AM, Lifeisgood wrote:
I'm still uncertain as to the specific ethics of DDO.... Here are some things I am unsure about.

Here's my approach, but by no means do you need to accept it.

1) BOP. I had always assumed the instigator usually carried the burden of proof, until Skeptic told me otherwise. The whole issue seems so confusing to me.

It often depends on the topic itself. If it is a well written topic, then BOP is on both debaters, and that's ideal. But all too often, the topic is skewed in such a way that the BOP is on the contender of the debate, since the instigator wants an easy win. But in most cases, it should be the instigator of the debate, for he is the one presenting the claim of the topic, and trying to prove it. Then again, the contender has equal BOP to prove that the topic is wrong. So final answer, it's on both debaters.

2) First-round arguments. Does the instigator have a polite obligation to give an argument in the first round? Or does it work better for the instigator if he does not post first-round arguments? Is it the other way around?

I never post first round arguments. I post a guideline to the debate, and some rules I'd love to have followed in it. This was a habit from back when vote bombing was alive and active. But I still like it.

3) Advertisement. I noticed that several members advertise their recent debates on their signatures. Is this... poor manners? Also, what about voting for yourself or sending messages to others to vote for you? What about voting for yourself when your opponent cannot?

I don't really care if people advertise, since I don't read signatures too much, and too much hyperlink just turns me away from their signature. Voting for yourself is fine, although it gets trickier if your opponent cannot, because they could be lying for the extra 7 points. But in any case, would you not load your gun in a fire fight because you think your opponents don't have bullets?

About sending messages: I'm fine with it, since it sometimes leads me to reading really interesting debates. I don't mind if people ask me to vote on it, since I don't vote based on who asked me to. I *do* mind if people ask me to vote for them. Asking people to view debates is also fine in my book.

4) Friendships. What exactly is the relationship between friends? Are friends obliged to analyze/vote on each other's debates, or what?

Relationship between friends: Whatever you want it to be.
Obligations: there are none.

5) Semantics. What exactly qualifies a semantic argument? Is it any argument based upon words? Or is it an argument based upon words that takes the debate away from it's original purpose? I thought it was the first, but I'm not sure anymore.

The dictionary definition of semantics is the arguing about words. In a debate, it's often about definitions someone provides, or about what the topic means. In face-to-face debates, semantics is usually about that. However, on DDO, people all too often abuse what they think is semantics to pull the debate out of what it should be about. For instance, a debate about God's existence would turn into a debate about pantheism, which believes that everything in the universe is God. But obviously, the instigator didn't mean pantheism when he talked about God's existence.

6) Definitions. Who must give the definitions, and must the other person always accept them? Also, which dictionary sources are considered 'reliable'?

If the instigator doesn't give definitions, it's his loss, and the contender is free to do so. At the same time, the contender is free to give definitions even if the instigator does, and argue about which one they should accept. You never have to accept anything in a debate.

Reliable: All up for argument.

This is all for now, but I still have a few more. I post them when I remember.
Omnes te moriturum amant 

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