Dear all, I would like to introduce you to a new section opening in the Square called the Crucible - so named, because it is where ideas and opinions on a range of issues will be forged in the white heat of debate. I have already explained briefly the procedure for initiating and maintaining debate here: http://www.nigeriavillagesquare.com/board/main-square/43844-nvs-debates-proposal.html However, for the avoidance of confusion, I will list the rules here again: 1. The Debate opens when a villager (who I will refer to now on as the Proponent) creates a thread whose title will contain a description of the issue he wishes to debate. 2. In the first post on this thread, the Proponent will state his position in a single sentence. He will then call for villagers who wish to debate against this position to do so. He should keep the issue simple (i.e. not to try to cram too many issues into the debate) otherwise the debate can easily be led off-track. Optionally, the Proponent can explain why he holds this position - he doesn't have to do this, but it will speed up the debate and encourage responses if he does. Only timeless issues will be debated, not news stories. This means that a topic like "It is right for Ribadu to be redeployed" is not acceptable; however, a topic like "Government officials should have fixed terms of service that can only altered by a clear presidential statement" is. Also, any position that a Debater holds in a debate should not be deemed to be a position they hold outside the debate, and as such any argument made within the debate such not be referenced elsewhere. 3. Any villager wishing to debate against the Proponent will then signify their intention by making posts on the newly created thread stating their positions also in a single sentence. They may (optionally) state why they hold their positions. 4. The Proponent must then clearly indicate who (of all the respondents) he wishes to debate with. (I will refer to this selected villager as the Opponent, and to both of them together as the Debaters.) 5. Once the Opponent has been selected, a Moderator needs to be chosen. The role of the Moderator will be: - to keep the debate focused by reminding the Debaters to stay on-topic; - to weed out off-topic posts by alerting a board moderator to these so that they can either be moved to another thread or deleted entirely (see point 10); - to end the Debate if one of the Debaters fails to respond in good time (see point 8) or if she feels the debate has gone on for too long (see point 12); - to summarise the points made by the Debaters at the end of the thread (see point 13). The Moderator can either be chosen by the Proponent and/or Opponent issuing a call on the thread for a Moderator and then picking from the list of volunteers, or by approaching specific villagers and asking them to moderate. 6. The Debaters may choose not to debate with a Moderator is one isn't available. However, they have to then trust that they will not stray off-topic, and they will have to fully take on the role of policing the thread for off-topic or insulting posts by alerting a board moderator to these. Lastly, they themselves will need to produce a fair summary of their positions at the end of the debate. 7. Once a Moderator has been chosen, the debate may start. The Proponent will start by responding to the first post made by the Opponent in which he stated his position; after this, the Opponent will respond to this new post by the Proponent, and so on. 8. A Debater must respond to a post within 36 hours, otherwise the Moderator may declare the Debater as absent and may choose to end the debate. If a Debater knows that they will not be available in the next 36 hours, they should make a post on the debate thread informing everyone of the next possible date they will be able to make a post. If the absent Debater fails to make a post before or on the date they have set, then the Moderator may choose to end the debate. 9. No other villager may participate in the debate - only the Proponent, Opponent and Moderator may make posts on the debate thread. If a villager wishes to make a comment or ask a question, he should create a new thread (preferably with a similar title to the debate thread) - but he should do this only if a thread like this does not exist already. Then he can make his post there. Such a thread will not be moderated, so the thread will just be like any other thread on the board. 10. If a villager other than the Debaters and Moderator makes a post on the debate thread, the Moderator will cause a new thread to be created and cause the villager's post to be moved to that thread. He may also cause insulting posts to be deleted in their entirety. 11. If a Debater feels he has been insulted in a post, he can ask his fellow Debater to amend the offending post or to delete it entirely. The fellow Debater may comply, or he may insist that his post should stand and give his reasons. The offended Debater has two options - he may accept the reason given, or he may choose not to debate any further, in which case the debate ends. 12. The debate ends when: - Either of the Debaters calls for it to end because they have made all the points they can make on the issue; - The Moderator ends the debate because it has run on for too long, say over a month (this is not hard and fast, though); - The Moderator ends the debate because one of the Debaters has been absent for longer than the stipulated period (see point 8); - Either of the Debaters calls for it to end because they have been insulted by their fellow Debater and don't wish to continue debating with him (see point 11). 13. At the end of the Debate, the Moderator will produce a summary of the points made by both Debaters. This will be helpful to those who revisit the debate at a future date and who may not have the time to go through every single post made to determine the positions of both Debaters. [I have deleted the examples I gave, as we now have real world examples of how a debate may proceed.] To get things off to a smooth start, I'll offer my services as debate moderator for the first three debates unconditionally. After that... well, we'll see. So - if you are interested in debating an issue with someone else, open a new thread, issue a call for debaters and get going!