Given a website that enables its users to debate on various topics, how would people prefer to write down and share their own opinion and argument? Would it be beneficial to constrain it like Twitter does?

I am working on a website that enables people to discuss and debate. The purpose is to provide an efficient way of tracking down the different points made by each side. This implies that users participate by entering their arguments. Obviously, I want to provide the best UX for this task. I wonder how I can tackle this issue. A first step would be to know if there is any research backing up some perticular design.

Any help focusing on a process to follow would be highly appreciated as well.

  • "Efficient way of tracking down the different points made by each side"? You're talking about handwork by humans, because you're not going to solve it as an AI problem (it's too big). So apart from forcing the discussants to pre-process their arguments, which you can't even if they're agreeable because people don't write in deep structure, you're imposing an enormous editing problem on whoever runs the site. – MMacD Dec 2 '16 at 11:38
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    The only helpful comment I have is that maybe you should give the user the option of flagging whether or not their response is "for" or "against" the topic being discussed. – fletch254 Dec 2 '16 at 12:21

The best example that comes to mind is Amazon's Customer Review feature. Consider each product as a topic. You could pose the topic as a top headline, and display the top-voted arguments either for or against the argument. In lieu of a star system, a user would flag either "For" or "Against" while submitting.

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There are millions of users who understand this convention and there are some implicit benefits to this well thought-out approach. Duplicate or low-quality arguments are generally not voted to the top. Showing the top arguments reduces the strain of sifting through mounds of arguments. A two-column format readily shows one side versus the other.

The caveat is that numerical voting in this way shows the order of magnitude weighing for versus against, which can greatly influence an individual's position on an argument. So if it's important to your project, you can hide that part until after a user enters their argument.

  • It is a really good example, I agree. And yes, avoiding some biais is another issue to consider. I was more looking for studies or comparisons. Good answer anyway. – asiegfried Jan 4 '17 at 12:36

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