Instigator / Pro

Resolved, debates should not end with a no-vote tie


The debate is finished. The distribution of the voting points and the winner are presented below.

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Contender / Con

Resolved, debates should not end with a no-vote tie. Currently as of this date, [06/13/2020, two months shy of 2 years of debating on], 1,150 debates on DART have been finished. Of these, 45 have ended with no votes cast, yielding an automatic tie. Also currently, there are 17 debates in voting status with 3 of those with no votes cast. While that only represents 4.1% of all finished and in-voting status, each one is likely a disappointment to the pair of debaters who have engaged the debate.

By initiating or accepting a debate, I’ll wager that even the most callous member of the site has a care to have their time involved in debate recognized, at least, if not appreciated, else why are we here? It is a fact that about 100 more of us prefer the forum section than debate, but the fewer of us who do debate do so with the hope that our debates are attended by sufficient interested parties by whatever motivation attracts us. 23,944 comments of debate observers have been created as of this date on 1,202 total debates engaged in nearly two years; an average of 19.9 per debate. And yet, those interested sufficiently to comment leave 45 debates without a vote. The average votes cast by each member is but 13.3 votes, each.

I conclude that voting on debates needs incentive to do so, just as there is incentive to initiate, accept, and comment on debates. The only other activity that is measured by DART relative to debate is voting, yet no incentive exists to do so beyond counting our individual votes. The time has come to actively rate in ELO by votes cast, not only by count, but additionally, by willingness to prevent a debate from finishing with a no-vote conclusion. I suggest a voluntary membership position of Debate Rescue Volunteer; a select group of members, whose count need not be limited but only by their willingness to participate, dedicated to the proposition that no debate be allowed to finish in a no-vote status.

Round 1

I am grarteful Rational Madman has agreed to this debate.

I Argument: Debate no-votes should be abolished
I.a As noted in Description, 4% of all debates on DART result in finished debates of no-vote, resulting in a tie.[1] I am not opposed to debates ending in a tie in which there are multiple votes, but to allow a debate to dwindle in interest such that there is no member or moderator vote after the voting phase has reached its calendar end countdown is a shame and a disservice to both participants. 
I.b I recognize that some debates concern subjects that are either disagreeable, absurd, whimsical, offensive, unpopular, and other adjectives, but if a member has proposed a debate that passes the muster of DART debate policy, and another member has agreed to debate the subject, I believe the debate ought to attract the concern of at least one other member/moderator sufficient to want to see a worthy outcome for the participants’ effort.
I.c In the process of accruing the stat of no-votes for the 1,150 finished debates [45 voteless debates], I noted as well approximately 180 – 200 debates having just 1 vote, making this issue more like in excess of 15% with very limited voting. I do not necessarily argue against one-vote debates, but I am in favor of imposing that no debate conclude in a no-vote tie.
II. Argument Solution: Debate Rescue Volunteers
II.a My solution is simple: establish a new quorum of members on a strictly voluntary basis, called Debate Rescue Volunteers [DRVs] Who would, by personal responsibility, agree to observe any debate in danger of concluding a voting phase without a vote registered, and rescue that debate with a vote using all the current parameters by policy that constitute a proper vote, i.e. consideration of arguments, sourcing, spelling and grammar, and conduct.  Only members qualified to vote can be DRVs.
II.a.1 We currently have a system in place to offering warning of a debate about to conclude its designated voting phase duration [established by Instigator] by use of the red icon beneath the green debate status “Voting” that indicates a 3-day period to end of voting [scrolling over the icon indicates the graphic meaning.][2] At least one DRV [preferably more] would agree to address such coded debates to rescue that debate from the default tie.
II.b The action of DRVs ought to earn incentive rating value for stepping up to rescue otherwise doomed debates to the oblivion of a default tie. This would be earned by acting to rescue debates, not merely for volunteering. It would improve voting skills, never a bad consequence, and, as a result, also improve the debate skills of members volunteering to be a DRV.
II.b.1The debate in need of rescue would delay beyond the original expiration of the voting phase in voting status until rescued, or, by agreement of both participants in comments, allow the debate to expire as a no-vote tie. This would allow debate participants the freedom to accept a debate rescue with a definitive winner and loser, or agree to the status quo of a tie.
II.c As a sign of good faith, I volunteer to be a Debate Rescue Volunteer, and hope that others would join the effort.
I surrender the floor to RationalMadman.

The solution is irrelevant to this debate.

My opponent is offering a 'solution' to a problem that we are debating is even a problem in the first place (what he offers is not a solution, that organisation he is suggesting would already unofficially exist as the people voting if voting was truly essential). It is very important in debates to establish what it is that the debate is about, in this case Pro has spent easily 90% of his case debating about the solution when this entire debate is solely focused on whether or not the 'problem' is a problem.

What Pro asserts is that:
 to allow a debate to dwindle in interest such that there is no member or moderator vote after the voting phase has reached its calendar end countdown is a shame and a disservice to both participants. 
- Pro, Round 1 (R1).

This was actually the only words in R1 from Pro that truly expressed his side of the debate and touched on the topic. The entire remainder of R1 from Pro was addressing a way to supposedly stop debates ending in no-vote ties, it didn't actually explain why they shouldn't end that way.


Rating, Competition and the Non-Forum crowd of this Website

A major would-be contention from Pro (based on the debate's description, written by him) is that while most of the website is pretty non-competitive and focused on the forums, those of us that wish to debate competitively are still relevant and our subculture needs to be assessed independent of the usual Forum-goer who couldn't care less whether or not debates are voted on. I don't challenge Pro on this, instead I challenge him on whether or not it truly is in the spirit of competition to artificially push for debates to end in non-ties, or to even stranger push for them to end in voted ties rather than no-vote ties.

You see, I firmly believe that not only is drawing people into debates part of the competition but that the website's Rating system and the way it evolved is going to be inescapable devalued and sabotaged if we as a culture begin voting purely for the sake of it and incentivising votes from people who otherwise would let debates remain unvoted.

Something that you may not know is that no-vote ties don't change Rating while voted ties do (they punish the higher rated debater and reward the lower-rated debater). The source for this is also the source where I prove that it was myself and the admin who conversed to achieve this early on in the Rating system's evolution.

Due to a thread and issue that I raised as it was in particular hurting me (I don't deny selfish motive), the admin was notified and sympathetic to the fact that no-vote ties should not hurt the higher ranked debater, the only punishment should be that neither gets to increase their Rating for the time spent doing it.

What we want to change is not to prevent punishing for ties, that's how ELO works and if you tied with a player that has much lower rating than you, you lose your rating and the other way around, but we want to kinda disable this when there are no votes, so it's simple as that.

A day later:
Okay, so I have changed the implementation to the one mentioned before, all forfeits OR no casted votes make the debate failed and prevent the rating change.

What this enabled was that situations where neither participated (all forfeited) rewarded only voters (as they got a vote that counts towards their voting medals) but not the debater who was lower-ranked, even though technically there is a voted-tie. This worked in tandem with the stagnancy of debate Rating in cases of no-vote ties such that ties only punished the higher ranked debater if it was a voted tie and this was both suggested by me and agreed on by many influential site members, evident mostly from the fact that there was 0 public backlash or issue about this change.

It is here that we must explore what competitive nature is and what indeed does separate the 'Debates' subculture of the site from the 'Forums' subculture. I believe that a simple dictionary definition wouldn't contextually suffice, we need something in an environment that involves communication and where the win-condition is based on the perception and actions people take as a result of one's words, namely marketing.

Generally, a market is called a place where sellers sell their goods and service in exchange for money. The market can differ on the basis of products or services sold or on the basis of other factors like government regulation, taxes, legality of exchange, price ceiling, buyers target, etc. and the simplest meaning od word competition is when two or more parties try to gain competitive gain or win over one another.

In competition when one party wins then automatically another party loses. By understanding the terms market and competition, we can deduce that market competition is where two or more companies or organization strive to gain profit by competing with one another using various tactics.

The reason I prefer this to a simple dictionary definition or even an explanation of debating itself, is that this website and the dynamics in formal debating are something extremely rare in the world (after all, this website was built upon the concept of, one of the only site of its kind ever until recent times when Debate Island, Edeb8 and Debate Art showed up. 

There isn't enough data or formal analysis of the nature of online competitive debating to give you a contextual definition of how competition works, the reason I compare it to marketing is that persuasion and profit (via Rating) are extremely justifiable parallels to qualify this applying to formal debating, which Pro agrees is a separate subculture from the casual Forums type of debating.

Debaters enter the arena to use their powers of persuasion in order to profit with Rating at the end of it (or at least lessons learned). Pro argues that one gains no lesson when no one votes, however Con retorts this completely arguing that the very nature of competitive debating is that every single thing you earn is down to you and your ability to market both your debate and your case within that debate. If no one even wants to read the debate because the topic is too niche or boring, that's your fault and you should do better 'market research' on the voters if you want to sufficiently garner the profit of Rating. If no-one votes because your particular case was too boring and unentertaining to read, that is also your fault. The only case where perhaps it really is unfair is when it is due to your opponent being very drawn out in length, and dull in tone that the readers give up. In this case, you should simply learn to steer clear of that opponent if they can be avoided and to invest less effort into debates with them perhaps, as they're clearly going to push away anyone voting if this consistently occurs with debates that they participate in.


Whether carrot, stick or 'we just gotta do it' mantra is used, the motive behind voting in Pro's solution highlights a flawed concept of purpose in this website and what it stands for.

Along the lines of the previous section, where I compare DART's formal debating to competitive marketing, I would like to raise a scenario to the readers of this debate:

Two products or services lie before you, two marketers try to sell them to you and you are asked what you decided. You answer 'I am unconvinced by both and frankly, I don't care at all about this product and don't feel like I am equipped to judge who even marketed it better, at this moment in time.'

In a horrified reply, Fauxlaw (Pro) yells 'you are corrupt, in fact when only one person decides it's also corrupt! We need more deciders on who persuaded better and you ought to do it, it's your duty!'

You get frightened, the cult of Debate Rescue Volunteers chants 'vote! vote! vote! vote!' it quietens your resistance, slowly you declare one the winner and force yourself to concoct a reasonable enough justification for it, just to shut the chanters up and lessen the impact peer pressure and stigma against you. What would that mean had happened to the overall ecosystem of debate votes?

It would mean that the average quality would be reducing, not increasing. If people want to vote, let them and indeed encourage them if they're only not voting out of lack of effort. Nonetheless, we need to respect that it's not out of a duty or severe social pressure on them to vote that they should vote, it's out of their love for the debate topic and the case presented by the winner.

People come to this website of their own free will, it's not their job to judge debates and in fact, it's not even remotely their duty to even once open the 'Debates' section of the website. This is a leisurely pastime and some of us get our 'kicks' by being more competitive and it's our duty to market those debates and appeal to the select few who are willing to vote, it's not up to the voters to artificially, out of peer-pressured loyalty and cult-like mantra, add low quality votes in order to compensate for the lack of appeal that the debates and/or debaters have.

I'll leave it at that for now, I will use more sources and solid info in Round 2, this was more me explaining stuff. I hope that you enjoyed.
Round 2
I Argument: Marketing fails to reach everyone
I.a Frankly, I appreciate the arguments RationalMadman presents. I am unaware of much his arguments, particularly with regard to how ratings actually work. However, in some respects, I am lost in the weeds even though I do understand the foundation of his argument in several modes: that a debate is a marketable product, that the debate crowd and the forum crowd are after different, uh, rewards, not to stress the word by oversimplification. In that regard, debate is certainly more of a product, whereas forum seems a better service-oriented feature of conversation, if I can use product vs. service in the context of conversation. And, thirdly, that the responsibility of the debate participants is not only to sell their respective burdens of proof by argument with credible sourcing, but to sell the language of argument itself. I completely understand the relevance of marketing as a debate tactic.
I.a.1 So, reward becomes a germane issue in debate regardless of the lack of monetary worth. As a result, we are wired to win. The object of debate is not just to argue a point, but also to argue it successfully in the eyes of others, swayed, or not, by one’s argument. As such, reward by acclamation of others is it’s own reward. When that reward is denied by loss, the reasons are generally obvious, and we can learn lessons from loss if we’re practical in our approach to failure.
I.b However, a tie, which has no effect on ELO rating, is a loss of far more insidious nature to a debate participant, particularly when that tie is due to a no-vote result, as opposed to a voted tie. I will explain the psychology of both in reverse order.
I.b.1 A tie by voted results still offers the lessons-learned opportunity to debate participants because the voters are still obligated to their RFD by description of their judgment of argument, sourcing, spelling & grammar, and conduct. While there are flaws in all of these features of judgment, particularly committed by voters being too general, or worse, lacking specific critique whereby lessons are learned, they still have the potential of offering good advice for future debates, thereby strengthening debate skill.
I.b.2 However, a tie by no vote offers no such reward of lessons learned, which is why I contend that, although having no effect on rating, the debate concludes with no lesson at all by which to improve future debates. To my thinking, this is worse than a voted loss. 
I.c Con provides a valid argument that the marketing of the no-vote debate may have been completely lacking. No votes because there is no interest in the debate as presented. However, a no-vote condition will leave the debater totally clueless with regard to what it was about the debate that did not attract attention. I get it; some people have no skill stringing words together on a page. We all sometimes struggle with that boredom in presentation; I certainty do, and I am a published writer by profession. “Writer’s block is a real condition. Additionally, we all may have an idea for a debate that is simply a stink bomb of a subject. I recognize having those bombs in my personal history as a writer and a debater. However, the alternative to just stop writing is not acceptable to me. Others may feel differently, and we certainly have the record of members who drop out to demonstrate that particular failure.
I.d I contend, and conclude, that while the practicality of the rating system being unaffected by ties, the debater is defeated twice over by no-vote debate conclusions. I reject the notion that all no-vote debate conclusion are due to content marketing failure, mainly because the nature of marketing is such that there are very few products for sale that interest everyone, just as there are few products for sale that interest no one. 
I conclude my round 2

Pro says that the effort is wasted and unrewarded in a no-vote tie scenario and that this isn't fair on the debater at all.

I argue that making the debate appealing is part of the skill and the work ethic needs to be applied to that result. It's that simple, we disagree on a fundamental thing and Pro hasn't remotely explained why it's the voter who has to find interest in the debate and not the debater(s) whom must make it appealing to would-be voters.
Round 3
I Rebuttal: “…the website's Rating system and the way it evolved is going to be inescapable devalued and sabotaged”
I.a This is a bold claim by my opponent from his round 1 argument, regarding Rating. Unfortunately, the argument stands unsupported by evidence. It is merely an opinion of one of a number of future possibilities of my proposal to make no-vote debate outcomes a violation of policy. I never said “…we as a culture [would]begin voting purely for the sake of it,”as argued by Con subsequent to the quote above. It is an assumed future predicted by Con, but again, without supporting evidence. Since Con addresses a malleable rating system [“it evolved”], I must conclude that it either will evolve capably, or not. There is a feature of process analysis, with which I am professionally familiar known asFailure Modes and Effects Analysis,which is a structured study of current process, and what failures currently plague it, and by what specific means it can be modified to both correct existing failures, and prevent future failures should they occur. This is not a guessing game, there are specific means to address a process by analysis of what the failures are, at what frequency they occur, and what mitigating factors exist to correct and prevent current potential failures, and by that analysis, create process modifications that will address future failure potential by either in-process correction, or, better, by in-process prevention. Such an analysis of the current voting and rating processes can prevent Con’s predicted failure modes.
II Rebuttal: Site admin
II.a Con’s round 1 argument referring to “Site admin” may have been language understood by site administrators, but as a debate argument, if fails Con’s own subsequent argument of marketing an argument. This one fails miserably; too deep into the weeds to follow without a site admin guide. Whom Con is quoting here is not referenced. It could be a site admin; it could be a streetwalker. I don’t know, and I have no clue to what “A day later” refers, and, therefore, I am dismissed from capability of rebutting it. Memo to Con: sale failed, my friend. Too many weeds.
III Rebuttal: “Carrot, stick, or gotta do it”
III.a Clever line, but, once again, an unsourced, therefore unsupported argument of expectation. See rebuttal I above. Same commentary. No need to repeat it.
III.b My “horrified reply” is, yet again, a good line, and a better sale than “Site admin,” but, for all color, glitz, and sound effects, the market just does not accept putting words in another’s mouth, unless one can support by evidence that it was ever said by the party alleged to have said it. That would be me, by name, in Con’s argument. Nope. I have never said the current voting policy is corrupt, and I do not think it is. Flaws can be nearly perfectly innocent, and nearly perfectly resolved without their being a hint of corruption. Even bad products can have good marketing.
IV Rebuttal: Wasted effort
IV.a Con’s round 2 rebuttal was short and sweet, declaring that I argue for “fairness.” I did not try to demonstrate fairness in this debate, and I never said it. Con is assuming my conversations again. Is that a valid argument, let alone a rebuttal?  I said that no-vote debates render “disservice” to the debate participants. “Fair,” in the use of the word as expressing justice, honesty, and freedom from bias,[1] has naught to do with service, or dis, but with reciprocal action that is open and forthright. Reciprocal, as in you debate, I vote. It seems a practical arrangement, particularly when members of DART who also engage debate also engage voting. My opponent wishes to charge that I am seeking "fairness."
IV.b I noted statistics in round 1 that are relevant to this debate. I stated in the Description that there were, as of the launch of the proposal, some 1200 debates engaged since the beginning of the site, or at least since the beginning of counting debates. In addition, there have been almost 24,000 comments, averaging almost 20 per debate. That is a sizeable number of comments for debates that, as my opponent suggests, are not marketable. While I appreciate my opponent’s marketing prowess, I am not convinced that it is a “must” ingredient. No, there is some other factor neither of us have uncovered that is the cause of some debates reaching a no-vote condition, even though only 4% of debates suffer that result.
IV.b.1 Further, given the statistics of debate and debate comments, I conclude that Con has not offered such a simple answer by concluding that I allege voters must “find interest in the debate and not the debater[s] whom must make it appealing to would-be voters.”Clearly, almost 20 comments per debate are noting sufficient interest to comment on the debate because they are drawn to the debate in the first place. This fact negates Con’s argument that some debates are not marketable.  That opinion must be supported by facts of their own. Pro has not remotely explained why the debate participants must make debates appealing to would be voters.
I pass the debate to Con for his conclusions, and urge voters to vote for Pro.

[1]The string of words is from the Oxford English Dictionary [OED] as synonyms for “fair” when used within the construct of these synonyms.

Throughout this debate, Pro has continued to make it about finding a solution to the problem, rather than presenting the case to you that the problem truly is a problem as opposed to a healthy consequence in debating for marketing it poorly and debating in too dull a manner.

I'm gonna put it real simple, it's up to the debaters to market their debates for the profit of Rating. If they fail to, the result of a no-vote tie isn't unfairly punishing the higher Rated debater thanks to a 'zero increase or decrease' stopping mechanism that the admin enacted and which I linked to the threads regarding in my Round 1. This debate comes down to who the blame is on; the debaters or the voters. I say the debaters, you as a voter get to decide. ;)