Wikinews interviews Brooks Lindsay, founder of Debatepedia

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Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Brooks Lindsay, founder of Debatepedia
Image:Brooks Lindsay from Debatepedia

A reporter from Wikinews recently interviewed Brooks Lindsay, who is the founder of the online wiki Debatepedia, which claims to be the 'Wikipedia of Debates.'

Brooks told Wikinews that "Debatepedia is a non-profit, free wiki encyclopedia of debates, pro and con arguments, and supporting evidence and quotes from scholars, experts, and op-ed writers (those figures that are actively engaged in these public debates)." He continued with "some people have called it the 'Wikipedia of debate', which is a pretty accurate description of what we are trying to do."

He finished by stating that the site is "trying to cover all of the pro and con arguments in any public debate, on any topic from a global to a local level, from any region in the world, and hopefully, in the future, in any language. The objective is to frame debates in a pro/con structure - when they appropriately belong in a pro/con structure - so that people can effectively "weigh" the "sides" in a debate, deliberate, draw conclusions, and take a stand. "

The second question asked why he founded Debatepedia. He replied by saying that "With arguments, evidence, and quotes being scattered across the Internet, it is currently too difficult for citizens to view all the pros and cons, quotes, and supporting evidence in debates, deliberate and take a stand. We are trying to fill this void, on a global scale, and by open-sourcing the effort over MediaWiki software."

When asked how Debatepedia will develop in the future Brooks said that he expects "the community of editors to grow to a much greater extent." He also said that he hoped to be able to "clean up some of the software elements," of the site.

When questioned about the importance of Debatepedia, Mr. Lindsay said that "Debatepedia is important for the reader and citizen as a tool to deliberate more effectively, develop greater conviction in what is righteous and what is not, and to generally increase citizen-engagement in debates, issues, and advocacy, across the world. For the writer, it is a way to have a greater voice and impact on other people, and other people's thinking; it's a great public service to help edit on Debatepedia, like on Wikipedia. Finally, there is the potential that Debatepedia will be used by leaders and representatives as a way to deliberate through a topic that they have to vote on, or as a destination to direct constituents to deliberate." He said it was "perhaps a lofty goal, but real nevertheless."


This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.

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