De­bate Tools

TagLast edit: 27 Jan 2021 3:59 UTC by edoarad

An online debate tool facilitates the act of debating by helping to manage the structure of argumentation. This distinguishes it from general purpose communication tools such as wikis and forums. Some online debate tools provide graphical representations of arguments, but this is not a requirement.

This wiki page and tag gives a list and characterization of debate tools. Debate tools were previously discussed here.


There exists an academic literature on argument mapping and other tools (computer aided or not) for assisting debate. The most recent survey seems to be “Computer-supported argumentation: A review of the state of the art” written in June 2009, which lists 50 tools (starting on page 94).

Online Deliberation is a related discipline that asks what are the effects of online discussions, when are they effective, and how to design better systems.

List of debate tools

Debate Map

Summary: Tree-based mapping of beliefs, arguments, and evidence.


Summary: Debating platform with rich one-on-one debates functionality and advanced discussions forum.

Summary: This… is pretty much exactly what we were looking for, isn’t it? Though it doesn’t do anything with probabilities.


Summary: Argunet enables you to create argument maps of complex debates online or offline, on your own or in a team.

bCisive Online

Summary: a simple canvas for creating a tree diagram of a debate.


Summary: a specialized form of note taking called “flowing” within the policy/​CEDA/​NDT debate community.


Summary: a DSL in python for (non-recursive) Bayesian models and Bayesian probability computations.


Scott Aaronson’s worldview manager

Summary: this is designed to point out hidden contradictions (or at least tensions) between one’s beliefs, by using programmed in implications to exhibit (possibly long) inferential chains that demonstrate a contradiction.

Summary: is a wiki system with added camp and survey capabilities. The system provides a rigorous way to measure scientific /​​ moral expert consensus. It is designed for collaborative development of concise descriptions of various competing scientific or moral theories, and the best arguments for such. People can join the camps representing such, giving a quantitative survey or measure of consensus compared to all others. Proposed changes to supported camps go into a review mode for one week. Any supporters of a camp can object to any such proposed change during this time. If it survives a week with no objection, it goes live, guaranteeing unanimous agreement to such changes to the petition by all current signers. If anyone does object, the camp can be forked (taking all supporters of the ‘improvement’), or the info can be included in a sporting sub camp.

The karma or ‘canonization’ system enables the readers to select any algorithm they wish on the side bar to ‘find the good stuff’. For example, you can compare the mind expert scientific consensus with the default general population consensus. Each camp has a forum to discuss and debate further improvements for camps. The general idea is to debate things in the forums, or elsewhere, and summarize everyone’s final /​ current /​ state of the art view in the camp statements. A history of everything is maintained, providing a dynamic quantitative measure of how well accepted any theory is, as ever more theory falsifying (when experts abandon a falsified camp) scientific data /​ new arguments… come in.

Summary: is a graph structure forum where users start with a topic and follow arguments they agree with, creating a personalized ‘story’.

This forum encourages dynamic debate that goes beyond pro/​con binary approach, similar to that employed in Proofs and Refutations.

Summary: A simple platform to start a debate on any topic. Mainly focused at general user participation.


“a simple argument mapping app, made using Google’s visualization API, jquery, and python, and running on Google’s AppEngine. Note: at this point, I don’t guarantee the persistence of saved argument maps!”—John MacFarlane

Graphically represents people’s agreement with a statement and which arguments were most used. The arguments themselves are not subjects of further investigation though. Check out this use-case of public decisions in Seattle.

Ideas for new tools

Brass Tacks

Other links

Features that a debate tool should have

(So, now that everything’s all neatly arranged in a list, the next step is to decide whether we want to start using any of these tools, or if we want to create our own.)

LWers interested in developing debate tools

See also

De­bate tools: an ex­pe­rience report

Morendil5 Feb 2010 14:47 UTC
50 points
77 comments3 min readLW link

Ar­gu­ment Maps Im­prove Crit­i­cal Thinking

Johnicholas30 Aug 2009 17:34 UTC
26 points
18 comments1 min readLW link

TakeOnIt: Database of Ex­pert Opinions

Eliezer Yudkowsky5 Jan 2010 20:54 UTC
21 points
8 comments1 min readLW link