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Reading Arguments

This help doc touches on the Argument Life Cycle before discussing Argument Diagrams, and how to add Assertion nodes or comment on them.

The Argument Life Cycle

An Argument Administrator creates an Argument and releases it for public viewing in the Pending Arguments queue. Pending Arguments can only be modified by the Argument Administrator. All other users are limited to commenting and voting on Pending Arguments. When the Argument is voted through, it becomes an Active Argument. At that point, registered users can add new Assertion nodes to the Argument or comment on it.

Whereas any registered user can add new Assertion nodes to any Active Argument, the Argument Administrator can not only add new Assertion nodes, but also edit or delete any other Assertion nodes within the Argument - regardless of who created them. (The Argument Administrator is, of course, expected to act reasonably when doing so.)

At some point - depending on the scope and complexity - the Argument will come to a natural conclusion.

While this is all you need to know to read and interact with other people's Arguments, a fuller understanding of the Argument Life Cycle is necessary in order to create and moderate Arguments.

Navigating the Argument Diagram

Arguments are structured and displayed as a tree diagram, referred to as an Argument Diagram. The tree starts with the Thesis at the top, followed by the supporting and refuting Assertion nodes. When viewing an Argument, the main section of the browser window will be populated with the Argument Diagram, followed by user Comments.

Each Assertion is comprised of a node type indicator along with a brief description of the Assertion node's contents. Node type indicators are colored (and shaped) to represent different types of Assertions:

The children of the Thesis - those Assertion nodes that support or refute the Thesis - are indented one level from the Thesis. Those children's own supporting and refuting Assertion nodes are indented one level further. This continues as long as there is a need for further descendants.

Thus, in this diagram:

Clicking on the Assertion's node type indicator provides the full contents of the node (which may include text, links, etc.).

Adding Assertion Nodes to Arguments

Registered site Members are able to add Assertion nodes to all Arguments. You are urged to read Argument Guidelines before doing so, but we are compelled to point out a couple of rookie mistakes here:

To add an Assertion node, click on the Assertion node which you want to support or refute, then click the Add Node link. The Assertion Node entry form is comprised of three fields:

When you have finished entering your Assertion, click the Create Argument Node button. The Argument Diagram page will then display the new node in its proper position.

Commenting on Arguments

Registered site Members are also able to Comment in all Arguments. Comments can be used for expressing thoughts that don't rise to the level of an Assertion. Additionally, if you think you have an Assertion to add, but are unsure of where it should be added, or how to phrase it, put it in a comment and somebody else can add the Assertion.

Behavioral Expectations

Users are strongly cautioned not to violate the Two Commandments of the site:

Beyond that, the community expects you to act with the maturity you would display were we all gathered face to face.

Failure to abide by these rules will result in disciplinary measure ranging from written warning, to temporary suspension to termination, as well as the offending matter being removed from public view.

Join the Dialogue!

That's about all you need to know to get started. So what are you waiting for?

One final note - don't get too caught up in the "heat" of the Argument. This site is more about learning than it is about "winning."

Thanks for visiting, and for taking the time to read this.

Pending Arguments

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Create an Argument!