In the past, I've suggested/requested a more robust blocking feature on the site, so that people would not just be prevented from sending you private messages, but also prevented from interacting with your content (such as commenting on your debates and continuing to pester you that way).
Now, while I still like that idea, I do see one major area where it could backfire; Blocking people from voting.
Lets say a feature were to be added to the site where you could mechanically block a person from voting on your debates. What would then stop a person from blocking all the major active users of the site, except for one person whom they had made a previous agreement with to vote in their favor?
Let me give you an example of how this kind of abuse could (hypothetically) work;
- I create a debate where I allege that "Dogs are made of Golden Cheese!"
- I then contact my friend "Bob" and tell him to accept the debate.
- Bob agrees to debate really badly and make a total ass of himself.
- At the same time, I go through and block all the serious voters on the site from voting, including moderators.
- After the debate ends, I contact my friend "Joe" and tell him to come vote for me.
So I have this obviously absurd debate, but I've rigged it in a way that prevents me from losing because I've blocked anyone who may vote against me, and I know at least one guy who is guaranteed to vote for me. A few newbies who I neglected to block may throw in their votes, but I can probably get most of their votes removed by reporting them, and I'll just be more careful to block them in the future.
Now, I've already started to see an example of a user who engages in behavior similar to this. In another thread, I talked about a user who tries to harass and intimidate voters to prevent them from voting against him. It seems that user is now keeping a list of everyone who voted against him anyway after his attempts at intimidation failed, and is declaring that those users are no longer allowed to vote on his debates. His argument basically goes like this...
Bob, Joe and Frank are no longer allowed to vote on this debate... because the fact that they voted against me in the past PROVES THEY ARE DISHONEST!Moderators will be REQUIRED to remove any votes that I disagree with and my opponent, by accepting this debate, must also agree to go along with everything I say and also demand that votes be removed if they are against me in any way!Furthermore, votes will be removed if they do any of the following;1. Interpret my argument in a way that I later decide isn't what I really meant!2. Claim my sources are bad (even if they are).3. Claim my arguments are bad (even if they are).4. Claim my opponent won for any reason.5. Award any points to my opponent at all!6. Fail to hold my opponent accountable for 115% of the burden of proof and remember that I'm right before the debate even starts.Those are all DISHONEST things to do! You can't do any of that!
I mean... Really? Who would ever accept a debate with "rules" like that? And yet, that is exactly what I'm starting to see happen more and more often on this site.
I'm actually engaged in a debate right now where my opponent ignored most of the debate description and decided to argue a topic other than what the actual topic of the debate was. So I definitely understand the temptation to engage in these sorts of shenanigans where setting up an obscene number of rules appears to funnel your opponent into the type of argument you wanted them to make.
But there has to be some sort of reasonable limit on this kind of thing. And when we get to the point where debaters have banned people from voting simply because they disagree with them, and are requiring their opponent to agree to some insane standard before the debate even starts, haven't we gone a little too far?
So here are my questions;
1. If debaters create these sorts of rules, including lists banning specific people from participation, are those rules actually going to be enforced?
2. What prevents the type of abuse I described before, where a sinister user may attempt to ban everyone that is likely to disagree with them, allowing only people to vote that are likely to vote in their favor?