Good morning, everyone! Many have lamented the departure of the Extended Discussion sub-forum, a space where users were encouraged to share their opinions on a variety of discussions on any subject a user could be bothered to make a subject for. While sometimes valuable, too often these discussions devolved into mudslinging and pettiness and so the sub-forum was soon relegated to a mere tag ("Debate") in the General Discussion forum. It hasn't caught on, and when it has been used the same old issues would arise. The idea of users engaging one another on complicated subjects like politics, religion, and others is largely dead due to the community's inability to play nice with one another. Users are generally disinterested in wading through the muck and staff aren't interested in facilitating discussion that often leads to deleted posts, warnings, and sometimes bannings. This has left a void in the community for those who want to take part in these discussions with their SC peers. To fill this void, we've decided to undertake a new initiative to allow people to flex their debate muscles while maintaining some semblance of order. We're adopting a more formal approach to debate, and we'd like your feedback on how we intend to execute this "new" idea. A More Formal Approach The change, as it were, is the adaptation of a formal setting to give our debates more structure and fewer opportunities for bad apples to spoil the bunch. Moderation will be more strict in this sub-forum than others, obviously, but we're also shouldering more responsibility on posters who wish to participate. We think these responsibilities are pretty sensible for anyone who is interested in a genuine discussion. The new sub-forum will work thusly: Regular posters will not be able to create new threads, only appointed "mediators" will be able to do this. Mediators will act as a sort of mini-mod, keeping everyone on-topic and intervening when things get too personal. They will choose the topics, whether internally or with community feedback (up to them) and go about the business of keeping posters on-track. Discussions will have a timer (two weeks, for example) before being closed and archived. Discussion topics will make a clear declaration in the title. For example, "The US Should Back Out Of NAFTA". Posters who choose to take part must state clearly if they agree with the premise of the thread or disagree then vigorously support their argument. No waffling between sides, no attempts to be above-it-all, a side must be taken and arguments for that side must be constructed while addressing points from the other. This allows mediators (and other posters) to better gauge the weight and value of individual users' posts. Multiple posts from the same users will be kept rare to give others a chance to speak. There is no "winner". Users are simply encouraged to read the thread and come to their own conclusions as to who made a more convincing argument. The idea here isn't to change minds but to challenge users to either defend positions they themselves agree with or to provide them the opportunity to take a side they normally wouldn't. Admittedly, this is a very heavy-handed approach and some of the nuances of these positions could be lost. But we feel that more focus with tighter moderation (or in this case, mediation) will be a healthier and more welcoming environment for more posters. If ED had one serious flaw above all others it was that only a certain few posters would dominate the conversation, saturating it with gish gallops, sentence-by-sentence rebuttals, and often would end up with ad hominem attacks. With this model, we hope to remove the incentive to "win" the debate with hot takes and petty insults and get more people to participate. Of course, we wouldn't just launch this thing without some user feedback. While some form of this method is what will eventually go live I didn't want to deprive the community the opportunity to share their thoughts on our new direction for forum debate. Please leave a response about your thought, concerns, and advice. Thank you, and have a wonderful weekend!