Proposal; Debaters cannot argue with or try to influence voters regarding their vote.

Author: Raltar ,

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  • Raltar
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    Raltar
    Currently, DebateArt has a rule against 'Vote Rigging', as follows;

    C. Vote Rigging
    Vote rigging is when someone solicits deliberately biased votes in order to rig the outcome of a vote.
    I propose that there is also an inverse possibility. Instead of "rigging" votes by asking biased individuals to vote on your behalf, it is also possible to harass, pester, intimidate or otherwise try to influence an unbiased voter to vote in your favor, or prevent them from voting entirely. This can be used to either influence people to vote for you in a circumstance where they would otherwise vote for your opponent, or simply not vote at all, thus preventing a vote for your opponent. 

    This would essentially be the debate-world equivalent of real-world Voter Suppression and/or Voter Intimidation.

    I believe this sort of behavior should be against the rules.


    I have seen at least one user (whom I shall not name here) engaging in this behavior.

    Recently, there was a debate which was worded in a very sneaky way to make it impossible for anyone to reasonably "win" the debate. The wording worked something like this;

    The sun... rises... IN... "The West" *snicker**snicker*
    Naturally, this was a troll debate designed as a trap. When Con argues the widely accepted scientific fact that the sun rises in the direction of East and sets in the direction of West, Pro merely says he was actually talking about the location East and the location West, meaning because the sun does indeed rise in "The East" at some point in time, so Pro's argument must be correct by default.

    One of the moderators described that debate in these exact terms;

    This was the worst troll debate in the history of bad troll debates.
    In spite of that fact, the instigator of that debate has been arguing with, insulting and attacking every single person who has cast a vote against him in that debate. He started doing this even before the debate was over by insisting that Con had "conceeded" the debate (which Con denied) and then threatening anyone who disagreed that their vote would be removed by the moderators if they dared to vote for Con.

    After the debate was over and people began voting, he continued to call out and harass specific individuals in the comments by insisting their their votes were "dishonest" and that he was going to get moderator's to remove them. I'm not sure to what extent he may have harassed other users, but he even contacted me via a private message. He later posted the contents of that private message into the comments (which I believe may violate a separate rule about 'PM Doxxing').

    The troll debate wasn't the only circumstance where this particular user engaged in this sort of behavior either. He has done similar things in other debates he was a participant in, often attacking everyone who voted against him as "dishonest" and praising everyone who votes for him as "honest" in the comments section. He regularly tries to argue with people about their reasoning for casting certain votes and virtually attempts to start the debate all over again in the comments against anyone who disagreed with his logic (keeping in mind that his "logic" is rarely more than clever wordplay).

    Frankly, I don't think this kind of behavior should be tolerated. Harassing people and attempting to intimidate them into changing their vote is just as bad as soliciting biased voters in the first place. And while I'm sure everyone is going to be inclined to think their argument is better than their opponent's argument, that doesn't give you the right to start contacting people via private message to argue with them over it. If you think a vote is bad or against the rules, report it to the mods and let them do whatever they will do with it. Otherwise, just shut up and take your lumps if the voters decided to vote against you.

    In a best case scenario, this kind of behavior is "backseat modding" at the least, and in a worst case scenario it is outright harassment. And either way, it is bad sportsmanship.
  • bsh1
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    --> @Raltar
    On the general topic of the OP, voter intimidation is covered under rules which prohibit harassment. Debaters are able to argue with voters up to a point. And I think it's fine and dandy that debaters are able to do that. It keeps voters honest and may even help them cast better votes. That said, a debater, just like any user, does not have the right to harass any other user. Once the argument turns into harassment, the debater has crossed a line and needs to stop. If you feel as if you are being harassed, contact moderators about that specific issue.

  • ethang5
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    --> @Raltar
    I saw the same thing, and felt the same way. Do make a complaint to bsh1 of virt if you feel its warranted.
  • Raltar
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    --> @ethang5
    Thanks for the support!

    I did discuss it with bsh1 and I believe he addressed it, although I don't know any details.

    (There is another thread in this forum which actually brings up the argument from the opposite point of view, and a lot of the responses to that topic were basically telling the guy to chill the hell out.)
  • drafterman
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    I agree that it is completely bad form to argue with anyone's vote or to influence a person to vote some way. If you could not make your points clear and convincing in the debate, then you get nothing, you lose.

    While I think it should be socially unacceptable and frowned upon, I do not think that it, in itself, should be a CoC violation except when it verges into existing harassment prohibitions.
  • bsh1
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    Drafter and I are in agreement on this question.
  • Raltar
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    --> @drafterman
    I do not think that it, in itself, should be a CoC violation except when it verges into existing harassment prohibitions.

    That seems reasonable, for the most part. The only real distinction I can make is that it may be a somewhat different type of violation when the goal is to explicitly discourage people from voting against you. 

    In this case, it seems like outright harassment is what it is likely to become. Although I've added the user in question to my block list, it has now escalated to him complaining about being blocked in the comments of my other debates, as well as him putting me on a special list of people who are no longer allowed to vote