I thought that the guidelines proposed on the forum above would be suitable on FA.com too. If I post them here then anyone can comment on them:
This is where two or more Members can engage in a Formal Debate. This is viewable to all but only those that are participating can post, in their own debate.
Anyone can start a debate and you either can send an invitation or accept a challenge. The starter of the Debate can control who can participate. Formal debates are Invitations or Challenges; can be done in the general forum or via PM.
This Forum will be Moderated by the staff who will enforce the rules. The starter of the debate has to make an application to the mods/admins suggesting a formal debate a topic and a person who has agreed to debate with them.
Please give numbers to 1 2 3 when you make your request.
Once the participants have been decided, then an agreement on the style/rules of the debate can be made. Since there are may variants on this you can use an existing one like on here, or any other but you must supply a link.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Debate#Formal_debate_in_education
Or you can chose the following guidelines;
If there is more then two participants then a number should be assigned and keep within that format.
A new thread is started by the in the Formal Debates forum.
1. The first 2 posts in the thread should be opening propositions by each side/participants (this should be determined by numbers of post or a time limit).
"The proposition is the statement being debated. It is stated affirmatively and conclusively, much in the manner of a scientific hypothesis. A debatable proposition is considered to be one of three types: fact, value, or policy. An effective debater can spot the type of proposition he or she must work with and determine what its specific demands are."
2. There should be several post of rebuttal (this should be determined by numbers of post or a time limit).
Then a final closing statement.Closing statements are then made in turn by each person.
3. Word limits to maybe 2500 words/post (including citations). Give each person a maximum of 2 to 3 days to respond (this should be determined by the participants).
The thread is then considered closed. Once a Debate has finished it will be locked.
Each post must have relevant content and must stay on-topic, or be a rebuttal.
Ad hominem and personal attacks are not allowed.
Proper citations must be given. There must be no plagiarism or copyright violations.
Participants and observers can reports posts that fall outside these rules or general forum rules.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Debate#Formal_debate_in_educationhttp://www.dushkin.com/usingts/guide/method4.mhtml
I think the above are quite clear and consise.
I would only add one point: moderators need to be clear what their responsibilities are, too. Too many vibrant debates on here get locked down because a moderator arbitrarily decides, "well, this isn't really going anywhere," or "well, I feel this is getting to emotional." How abou setting some firm grounds rule--like using profanity--before shutting a debate down?
I agree that the Mods will be important in these debates. I'm not sure that setting too many rules will be needed though. Perhaps we should try using just the above guidelines as a trail and see if any ammendments need to be made?