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DDO tutorial

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7/19/2011 7:28:25 PM
Posted: 10 years ago
This is my first lesson for the DDO tutorial. Here it goes. This is a beginner tutorial for the basics:

Introduction to writing a debate resolution and setting up a debate

A debate resolution is the debate topic you want to either affirm or negate. While writing a debate resolution might seem simple at first, it is very important that the resolution is worded properly. A poorly worded or vague debate resolution can be exploited by an opponent.

A poorly worded debate resolution is open to semantic. Semantics occurs if one uses a word that has multiple meanings, and the opponent twists the meaning around so that the definition favors him or her. An opponent might also take a figure of speech, and argue against the literal meaning.

Take for example J.kenyon's debate with mecap:

Since valid, in philosophy, means:
Valid: so constructed that if the premises are jointly asserted, the conclusion cannot be denied without contradiction.[2]

J.Kenyon was able to win the debate by explaining that the argument was valid,
even though some of the premises could have been false.

Here's another example of a debate trying to use semantics but it backfired:

It should also be noted that the harder it is to negate a resolution, the more likely the resolution is going to be abused by semantics. Most likely, the audience will applauded the opponent's use of semantics and vote in favor of that opponent. So in other words, don't try to get an easy win by debating an easily defendable topic, since it will come back to bite you.

To avoid an opponent using semantics on you, it is important to define your terms before the debate. The general debate custom is that whoever defines the terms first,

Another important part of writing a debate resolution is to avoid generalizations. For example, If my resolution title was "bananas are yellow" and I was Pro, then this resolution can easily be refuted. CON can point out that bananas can be green and sometimes brown.

To avoid this pitfall ask yourself "Do all of A have attribute X,Yand/or Z?". If you can find counterexamples, then I would suggest you try to rephrase the resolution.
Finally, it is important to establish which opponent has the burden of proof, abbreviated as BOP.

The general custom is that an instigator that makes a positive claim, must provide evidence that the claim is true. Asserting that a claim is not the same as arguing that the claim is true. Evidence and logic must be used to prove the claim. More will be discussed later on how to actually come up with evidence that a statement is true.

As a result, often it is much more difficult to argue as PRO then it is to argue as CON. Unless explicitly stated, CON does not have to prove that the resolution is false, just that there is not enough evidence to prove that the resolution is true.
For example, If my resolution is that "god exists", CON does not have to prove that god does not exists, only that there is not enough evidence to prove that he exists either way.

In some situations, both opponents have an equal burden of proof. What this means is that PRO must prove that the resolution is true, and CON must prove that the resolution is false. For example if PRO states "The minimum wage should be abolished" it might be CON's burden to also explain why the minimum wage should remain. Before any debating begins, the criteria for who has the burden of proof and how the winner of the debate is determined should be established beforehand.

Please feel free to add any more information, correct, and/or discuss this first tutorial below. If there are any questions, please feel free to ask.
Open borders debate:
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7/19/2011 10:01:04 PM
Posted: 10 years ago
A resolution is a statement

Debate resolutions are affirmative statements like: "The grass is green." Resolutions are not questions. If a resolution is posed as question -- always by a new debater -- the Pro position usually is the one that answers "yes" to the question. Don't take a debate if the challenge is unclear.

The burden of proof

Be aware that there are least four theories as to who has the burden of proof:

1. Whoever is Pro.
2. Whoever instigated the debate.
3. Whoever wants a change in the status quo.
4. There is no burden of proof. Whoever makes the better argument wins.

Often 1, 2, and 3 are the same person, but not always.. 4 is usually only favored by novice debaters. Sometimes a debater calls himself Con, but is clearly the proponent of the resolution. My advice is that if it isn't clear who has the burden of proof and you think it matters, then ask through a comment before accepting. Often enough it doesn't seen to matter. If you are posting a challenge and it isn't clear who has the burden of proof, and you care, then state it as part of the challenge.

Semantic arguments

The meaning of words is determined by the context in which they are used. The word "set" in English has over 100 meaning. Consider, "He set the table with a new set of dishes, so we were all set to eat." The sentence makes good sense even though "set" is used with three different meanings in the same sentence. English is actually pretty good about not having multiple meanings. Some languages have man words with thirty or forty meanings.

Your opening argument should give enough context to define what the words in the resolution mean. That context might include a whole opening argument, a description of the general area of debate, or specific definitions.

Personally, I don't buy attempts to use unexpected alternate meanings. A recent debate affirmed "Planes can't fly." and then tried "Oh, I didn't mean airplanes, I meant planes that are used by carpenters (or whatever it was)." No, "planes" in the context of "fly" is clearly understood to mean "airplanes." The trick is not clever and should be punished by the opposing debater and by the judges of the debate.

However, if the meaning is not clear from context then semantic arguments are valid. "Atheist" means "lacking a belief in a god or gods" to most atheists, but it means "denying the existence of God" to many religious people. Under the first definition, an agnostic is an atheist. Lacking definition at the outset, semantic arguments are likely. Religious debates seem to be full of semantic arguments, but there are others. A "theory" in science is not the common meaning of "theory," for example.

Pick subjects you know

When considering resolution, think of subjects that you know something about and that you find interesting. It's not important whether the fate of humanity depends on the outcome f the debate or not. If you are not interested in the subject, you won't put in the time required to make a good debate. Make the resolution a clear statement and make sure all the words are defined either explicitly or by context.
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7/20/2011 1:57:16 AM
Posted: 10 years ago
As a student, I'd like to thank Roy and Dark for the time they've spent on the tutorials. If I may, let me add this: Obvious as it is, don't create resolutions that kill your side of the argument like I did here:

In this debate the wording 'there is no reason to' killed my side of the argument as opposed to something like 'swearing is on a whole not beneficial to society' .

Also, would the leaders prefer that this thread has student comments (like this one) or not?
"Tis not in mortals to command success
But we"ll do more, Sempronius, we"ll deserve it
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7/20/2011 12:04:31 PM
Posted: 10 years ago
10. Brittwallers Cookbook

This cookbook was initially developed several years ago as a predecessor to this new user thread. It was aimed at helping less experienced debaters achieve better debates.

It was never fully employed until now. The main proponent of this cookbook was Brittwaller, a well know and very respected member of Brittwaller passed away Aug. 16th 2010 he was 29, and has been and will be severly missed.

Brittwallers profile

Rest in Peace Britt Waller

We included this cookbook as a way to honor and remember Brittwaller.

I hope you can find the time to read this cookbook. It is a lot to take in but this is the advice of some of our best debaters. I'm sure you will learn something and be able to apply what you have learned to one of your next debates.


There are many means and reasons to have good etiquette.

The simplest way to practice great etiquette is to have the first and last sentences in your debate are a welcome to your opponent. Thank him for his or her intelligence (no matter what you personally think). You can also in this first opening paragraph ask him to keep the debate mannerly if he's been rude. You can also suggest that he keep away from such and such a topic, as it doesn't pertain to the debate. Really the opening paragraph is as much a way to keep the debate friendly, factual and on point as it is to make yourself look more mannerly and intelligent.

Personally when I read a debate and see that one opponent has started out by being mannerly while the other has just gone right into his/her argument, I immediately get a better opinion of the more mannerly person. Also the opening paragraph is the first thing voters will read. You look much better if you start out by being mannerly and your opponent doesn't.

Additionally one can practice good etiquette towards the end of your debate. This reaffirms your politeness (in case you seemed rude anywhere in the debate) and reminds both your opponent and your voters of the desire to keep the debate mannerly. This will ward off any insults your opponent my throw at you the next round, because your opponent will realize how poorly the insults will make him look in the eyes of the voter.

With that being said, try to refrain from personal insults throughout your debate, as it will only give your opponent ammo on being more polite than you and bringing up your insults in the opening paragraph of his next round. One can have excellent arguments, but if he is rude the chances of him winning the debate are much less than they would have been had he been polite.

Etiquette not only remains in use in the debate itself but also extends to the comments section. Although a comment can be anything, more intelligent debaters will refrain from insulting each other in the comments section and refrain from divulging into personal rants. Please save rants for the forums. Also, if you are placing a comment, try to make that comment more on constructive criticism of both debaters than on tearing down someone's argument. Constructive criticism will make you look more intelligent, and both debaters will appreciate your insight. Also constructive criticism will help voters determine who placed a better argument. Additionally, writing the reasons why you voted the way you did is another excellent use of the comments section.

Please try to avoid criticizing other debaters' reasons in the comments section unless they are blatantly biased. Additionally try to refrain from placing your comments in the comments section until the debate is in the voting period. The comment section should only be used before the voting period if a debater missed the deadline and wished to post his argument in the comment section, or before the debate has been accepted to further clarify the resolution and/or parameters of the debate.

Overall, etiquette is one of the most important tools a debater has, if used properly, debaters can become much more advantaged in their coming debates by applying these simple guidelines.


Logic is critical if you want your debates to actually make sense and if you want your arguments to be solid. Basically, by using logic correctly, your argument will be fool-proof. The following is a little how-to for logic.

[b]Syllogisms (Deductive Reasoning)[/b]

A syllogism uses premises to infer a conclusion. Here is the basic layout:

If p, then q.
Therefore, q.

By saying "If p, then q", we say that if p occurs, then q will follow. The second line "p" means that p has occurred. To keep your argument sound, these first two premises must be true. "Therefore, q" means that because of the first two premises, q has occurred. This is a direct syllogism. Let's look at an actual example.

If it rains, then I will be wet.
It is raining.
Therefore, I will be wet.

Now if you've ever stepped outside under the rain, you'd know that it makes you wet. So since the premises are both true, the conclusion must be true. Here's another example.

If it rains, then pigs will fly.
It is raining.
Therefore, pigs will fly.

This is false, of course. Pig's don't fly, and even if they did, I doubt it would be because of rain. Because one of the premises has been proven false, the conclusion is false.

There are also more types of syllogisms, but that was just the most basic one. All you need to know is that the premises must be true in order for the conclusion to be true. So to recap:

A conclusion is false if at least one of the premises used to reach it are false.
If your conclusion (resolution) is reached by using true premises, then it cannot be disproved.
To keep your argument solid and sensible, make sure your arguments are logical and according to your premises, your conclusion must be true.

[u]Inductive Reasoning[/u]

Inductive reasoning is kind of like deductive reasoning, but it's not as effective and you should probably avoid it. Basically, inductive reasoning assumes a conclusion based on one's own knowledge. For example:

All observed crocodiles are less than 40 feet long.
Therefore, all crocodiles are less than 40 feet long.

Now, I'm pretty sure nobody has seen a 40 foot crocodile. That would be quite silly, after all. However, just because one hasn't been observed doesn't mean it exists. There could be one right outside your window! That is the problem with inductive reasoning; it turns assumptions into facts. You want to avoid this kind of reasoning in your debates, and attack it whenever you find it in an opponent's argument. So, for example, if I was debating the user LR4N6FTW4EVA on "There is no crocodile that is more than 40 feet long", and he, being the silly person that he is, said, "Well, I've never seen one, and nobody else has, so that must mean it doesn't exist", that would be inductive reasoning. I would point out the fact that just because it was never recorded doesn't mean it doesn't exist.


Using reductos is kind of like using a process of elimination. The basic layout goes like this:

X implies either Y or Z.
Y is impossible.
Therefore, Z.

One action cause two different reactions; however, if you prove that one of those reactions is impossible (or near impossible), then one can logically conclude that the result will be Z. For instance, say I wanted to prove:

Choosing random answers to SAT question [don't do that, by the way] implies either passing or failing.
It is HIGHLY improbable that I will pass the SAT by choosing random answers, given that there are five choices to every question, and hundreds of questions.
Therefore, I will fail [most likely].

See how I made Y appear impossible? Logically, this gives us no choice but to conclude that X implies Z. So, if you were supporting a resolution in a debate, you could use a reducto in this fashion, for example:

Resolution X implies either Negative Outcome Y or Positiv
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7/20/2011 12:06:35 PM
Posted: 10 years ago
In writing, it is generally good to inject a certain amount of personality to not only distinguish yourself from other writers, but to make your longer arguments more readable and interesting.
Correct punctuation and grammar will help accentuate your argument to a limited degree, while a lack thereof will hurt you tremendously. You cannot expect your opponent or your readers to take you seriously if you do not even show a basic understanding of the written English language.
Avoid using large words if you do not know their precise meaning. Incorrect usage of such words reflects poorly on the writer and will often times make people question your overall intellect. On the same subject, overuse of so-called "twelve dollar words" generally makes the writer look pompous. Flowing, adjective-filled sentences always trump the use of these words.
Typically in writing for an argument, you would want to begin with a thesis (often times called a Resolution in debate). After this basic introduction you should begin each paragraph with a topic sentence that tells the reader what he can expect from the rest of your paragraph. The rest of the paragraph is where you will include substance, evidence, and examples to support your topic sentence. These topic sentences should support your thesis statement.
It should be noted that when debating online, as with most online activities, you lose your speaking voice and body language - parts of you that would be a vital asset in a real-life debate. For some, this means the loss of inflection and humour, as well as gesturing and facial expression. For others that may not be so eloquent a speaker, it means a more equal footing. In either case, it is necessary to find your writing voice and use it to its fullest extent.
You can think of your writing voice as a verbal personification of yourself. Tone is difficult enough to infer for most readers as it is, so as a debater you want to make it as easy as possible for them, for their sake and yours. There are a number of ways that you can do this.
First, and most importantly, write in plain English. Use correct capitalization, grammar, and spelling (spelling is the easiest thing to correct as there is a Spellchecker feature on the site - making mistakes look that much worse due to a writer's simple laziness.) Never write using internet slang, and never write complete sentences of all CAPS. Make paragraphs with line-breaks here and there. I cannot stress this enough. Without it looking as though you at least tried to write correctly (for the sake of ease of reading) you will probably be looked down upon and mocked. Just giving fair warning.
Second, strive to be Clear, Concise, and Correct.
CLARITY: Don't mince words or make ambiguous statements. Say what you mean.
CONCISION: This will in part depend on your personal style, of course. In general, however, it is best to avoid long, stringy sentences where your meaning can be easily lost on the reader. Try to write compact yet powerful sentences that help your arguments flow. Get rid of useless words and phrases. (You are not Kant or Hegel.)
CORRECTNESS: Be correct concerning both language usage and the internal dynamic of your argument. In regard to usage, semantics debaters will easily tear you to pieces if you get out of step. In regard to your argument, having the facts on your side is always helpful, obviously. Of course, you may be tactically supporting non-existent points in the hope that your opponent will bite on them, so the denotation of "correct" does not always apply.
I hope you will take these tips and use them to improve your writing when debating on!
Major contributors: brittwaller
Posts: 4,509
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7/20/2011 2:57:40 PM
Posted: 10 years ago
Some experienced debaters lapse into using debate jargon, packing arguments with "framework," "warrant," "cards," named fallacies, and so forth. There are two reasons for avoiding that. It makes the debate hard to read if you can figure it out, and impossible to read for novices. The debater has a responsibility to be clear, so it is in the category of a spelling and grammar penalty. The second reason is that saying for, example, "that's the fallacy of the contrapositive" doesn't say what the problem is directly, but invites the reader to construct the argument in accord with the hint of what it is. The error ought to be claimed explicitly, not given as a homework assignment. It's akin to saying that an argument is given in a reference -- the argument must be made, not referenced.

Also, it's a bad habit to use debate jargon. If you do that in an ordinary conversation, people will quickly lose interest in what you have to say.
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4/19/2012 11:56:48 AM
Posted: 10 years ago
If you want to add pictures directly into your debates, it is a rather simple process.

Step 1:
The first thing you have to do is save the picture you want to use in your argument to either your computer or a folder on your desktop where you can access it later.

Step 2:
When you are on DDO, there is a tab that says "My Photos" which is under the account menu. Under that tab you can create a new photo album or use an already existing one to upload your photos

Step 3:
Simply upload any photos you want to use in your arguments to the photo albums by clicking the "add" button. There are many ways to add photos to an album but this is the simplest

Step 4: Make sure the photo was successfully uploaded. Sometimes you have to do it twice because it didnt work the first time around

Step 5: Now in the debate you are in, click on "Rich text" at the top left corner of the box where you type your arguments. Scroll to the place you want to insert the picture.

Step 6: In the Photo Album, "Copy" the photo, not the URL just the photo, then simply "Paste" it into your arguments where you want it.


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