Debaters should not include rules for the debate in the description of a debate.
The debate is finished. The distribution of the voting points and the winner are presented below.
After 21 votes and with 107 points ahead, the winner is...
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- Three days
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- Six months
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Not to be accepted by RM, and the debate is mostly about the stupid ass rules that most people are starting to adopt for debates. You'll see the rules in debates created by people like bsh1, analgesic or virtuoso. examples.
I'm sure bsh1 has other dick riders here that also copy his rule set. Anyway I'd prefer if one of the morons using that rule set agree to debate, but the debate is opponent to all people on the site with the exception to the guy who debate spams the site ruining literally hundreds of debates that had the potential to be good but weren't. Just to be clear, the request for RM not to debate is not a rule, merely a request, and I make it for the same reason nearly every competent debater that refuses to debate him makes it for.
For the purpose of this debate, I will be arguing based on values principles fairness, accessibility to all, and the enjoyment of participants of the site - without which this site would cease to exist.
Based on this, the reasons why debaters should be allowed to include rules, fall into two broad categories:
There are clear benefits to both debaters to include “rules”
1.a) As a defense against time wasting.
When one side places substantial effort into a good faith argument, whilst the other forfeits, produces bad faith arguments or engages in obviously poor conduct - this is detrimental to the instigator who may want a genuine discussion on an issue rather than on Kritiks, theory or trolling.
While kritiks and theory are valid - not everyone likes them, and on an informal debate site limiting such obtuse tangents that aren’t directly relevant helps to keep debates focus on the issues.
The ability to specify rules in this way helps to both inform voters exactly what should be considered anti-social, or constitutes a bad faith argument, and allows the instigator having their time wasted to spend as little time and energy as possible.
1.b) Consent to expectations, assumptions, definitions and semantics.
It takes substantial word count to argue definitions, assumptions, or preferences in the debate topic and limited room in the debate proposition. As a result, rules become a good way of establishing additional definitions and inherent assumptions (IE: that the resolution is accepted by fiat - with all implicit assumptions accepted) and to establish the general expectations of the instigator.
This ability to specify rules gives the debate challenger the ability to consent to these expectations of the instigator allows for a common understanding of the assumptions, semantics and definitions to be agreed up front without long winded explanation in the debate that sucks up the word count that could be used for genuine discussion.
This ability to fully appreciate what is being consented to both in expectation of style, conduct AND terminology is clearly critical to the challenger and the debater as it allows for transparent topic and terms of debate to be agreed by both sides while both sides can still back out.
1.c) Balanced control.
As a corollary to both 1a and 1b there is also this:
While the instigator controls the debate topic in open challenges they are otherwise powerless to control who accepts their debate: and from this whether the instigator will abuse or troll, waste their time, or present technical theory arguments and completely bypass the resolution the instigator wants to debate.
Contenders can pick and chose which debate they choose to accept and know who they are arguing against, whereas instigators on open challenges cannot easily pick the contender. This presents an inherent advantage to contenders, especially those more knowledgeable on theory and related arguments. Generalized limitations and conduct rules help to redress this imbalance, by allowing debaters to bypass some of the crazier and more esoteric off topic arguments or semantics and help reduce the impact of abuse accordingly.
Obviously, there is a limit before these rules become unfair, which is not crossed by any example provided by pro, but it does mitigate the ability of semantic lawyers trying to pick and chose debates to win on technicalities which - in the context of debate is not particular enjoyable.
This issue is much more specific to the internet where individuals accepting are not accountable in the same way that your opponent in a debate team may be; where you have to use your name, are often accountable to your school and team.
1.d) This is an open debate platform.
Not everyone wants to debate the same way, if someone wants a rap battle, or post videos, or meme fight - and wants to have fun the way they want, tailored rules allow them to do this.
Why not allow individuals to enjoy the platform the way they want by specifying the rules they are happiest debating.
2.) Lack of any actual harm.
My opponents position is that rules shouldn’t be included in a debate. As I will show - there little actual harm to anyone in having such rules in place:
2.a) You are not forced to accept rules, so why care?
If you see rules you don’t like - you are free not to accept that debate. The necessity of your consent prevents any harm of any rules from being realized.
Debaters can propose any rules in a debate they want at all - and should be free to do so on the grounds that such rules have no actual impact on anyone at all other than those willing to abide by by and accept them.
Why are placing these sorts of rules any more or less problematic than selecting 5 rounds with a 7000 word count and 6 month voting period?
2.b) You are REALLY not forced to accept rules.
Even with the above, rules are mostly a “gentleman’s agreement” for the purposes of fair play. It has been understood that the rules in debates are only enforced if consented to explicitly by both sides or not at all . As a result - you are still free to challenge definitions, rules violations, etc the same way as pro suggests in the plan outlined in his debate description.
In this respect there is absolutely no difference between pros suggested plan and the status quo other than the lack of any of benefits currently realized with the ability to specify rules.
There are examples of poor debaters, using definitions to try and bait and switch the resolution to score easy wins against weak opponents.
I would argue that this would happen with or without rules - anyone not experienced enough to realize when rules are being used to set up a cheap semantic win - is less likely to be able to deal with these arguments if presented after a debate with no rules is presented. It is thus likely to be a problem regardless of whether this information is presented in the rules or not.
The community itself helps eliminate this behaviour - warning prospective members  meaning that lack of rules in this instance would be neutral at best.
Rules clearly have defined and easily demonstrable benefit in a number of cases, these cases far outweigh the potential harms pro can provide as a challenger clearly has the ability to knowingly consent to any rules.
As a result, it is clear that there real issue issue with debaters creating their own rules if they so chose.
 https://www.debateart.com/debates/501 (info)