I just read the rules for this section of the forums, and I'm not sure I like them being applied generally to all debate and discussion. I also need clarification on a couple of things.
I absolutely love rule #1, and #2 and #3 are fine.
I'm confused here, though:
"(4) A discussion thread is to be left open-ended. This means it will remain open for an indefinite period of time. This is different from debate, where two sides hold logical arguments against one another in an effort to defeat the other side and come to a conclusion; debates may also be timed."
What determines if it is a discussion thread or a debate thread? Is it that discussions are anything started by a community member with no rank insignia, whereas the debates are the posts started by Admins and OB as little Debate Forum mini-tournaments with time limits? I think it would be helpful to make a distinction by providing definitions for debate vs. discussion.
"(5) You must provide your opinion/views in a debate, unlike a discussion where you may simply provide relevant information or ask questions."
I initially reacted negatively to this one, until I realized that there is a distinction between "debate" and "discussion." Basically, if the purpose of the discussion is to seek out truth, rather than to win or convince someone of your point of view, I think it's better to drop relevant information and allow the facts to speak for themselves, more or less. If the purpose is to defend your own bias, I find it much less helpful... but that makes sense as a rule for a Debate Team-style structuralized debate.
"(6) Any member of the forum may post, and as they post they take sides with the content or opinion of their first post, and may not switch sides during the debate."
If this applies only to debates, it makes sense to me. Again, though, I feel that having to stand by everything you've said since the beginning and not being allowed to say "oops" in light of new information detracts from the honesty of a discussion.
Rule #7, about posting twice in a row, could go either way for whether or not it should only apply in organized Debates, or just in general for anything posted in this forum.
I would suggest maybe making a couple of subheadings for the debate forum rules, such as "General Forum Guidelines" containing maybe rules 1-3 and 7-9, and then "Organized Debate Contest Rules" or something which includes rules 4-6.