Novel Guidelines for Debate

Maximizing Ensurance of Fair Exchanges

  • DIO is prepared to devote considerable page-space to the publication of written debates. Those who wish to engage in such should contact the Editor Robert M. Bryce (301-865-3580) or the Publisher (410-889-1414; answering machine always on: just speak up after the beep).

  • In order to establish and maintain fair discussion in all DIO debates, the rules governing them will be clearly set out here, with the kickoff contributor designated as party “A” and the other contributor as “B”.

  • [1] Though each side's contributions may go back&forth several times, the entire series of exchanges will be completed before publication, so that all contributions of each debate will be released together in a single issue. Round-by-round, each party has 3 months to respond (though one hopes for [much] better celerity), after receipt of the other's contribution.

  • [2] During the creation of the debate's series of exchanges, when each contribution is sent to the other party (and simultaneously to DIO) it is thereby registered by the act of said transmission. Revisions may only occur before the response to it is sent, or by permission of the other party.

  • [3] Once DIO agrees to publish a debate on a specified subject, between two specified parties, then — unless special (agreeable-to-all) exception is made — A's opening contribution should not exceed 5000 words.

  • [4] After this initial contribution by A, the reply by B cannot exceed it in length. And, subsequently, each contribution's length can be no more than half of the length of the longer of either party's previous contribution. (Exceptions on response-time [and even length] will of course be made when both parties and DIO are amenable.) Applying simple geometric-series-sum math here: the debate's total text can be no more than four times A's first contribution, so the debate's max length will be 20000 words, or roughly thirty DIO pages.

  • [5] After B's 1st response to A, the following central rule applies to the remainder of the action: either side may respond to the other's latest contribution by opting to allow the other party's latest contribution be the end of the debate. (And failure to respond within 3 months, with a new contribution, will have the same effect.)
    This unprecedented new rule creates two benefits:
    [a] The always-preferred advantage of going-last is offset by the other party's advantage of controlling debate-end's timing.
    [b] Thus, if either party cannily plans to hold-back his fave-crusher argument until a going-last-so-no-response-possible contribution, it can't happen.

  • [6] For debates in which one of the two sides is argued by a DIO-affiliated person, the other party is naturally granted the right to choose rôle A or B.
    [Note that Rule[5]  lowers the import of which is which.
    But, for a debate between two non-DIO persons: if they cannot agree on rôles, they will be settled by a coin-flip. If distance prevents this, then each will simultaneously mail the other an envelope containing a single digit: “0” or “1”; if the two digits' sum is even, then the participant whose last name is first alphabetically becomes A; if odd, then B.]

  • [7] Though DIO may suggest editorial improvements in contributions of a debate, each author will be his own final editor.
    [There is just one exception: any libellous statement submitted must be weighed by DIO on its accuracy, relevance, and import. (Such statements obviously will not here be pre-guaranteed publication, sight unseen; though they are not barred per se unless both participants mutually pre-agree on the point.) But we must say upfront that we strongly discourage such material — primarily because we intend that our debates will represent a refined level of learned, unsensational, and amiable disagreement. Indeed, it is our belief that most of academic discourse's justified unamiable fireworks occur precisely because of the lack of serious openness of debate; thus, the very fact of the debate itself should discourage abusiveness.]

  • [8] As a failsafeguard against inevitable imperfection in any exchange, both sides are free to include (in the published DIO debate's text) their addresses — email, website, or whatever — where a DIO reader may reach them for post-DIO exploration of the contended issue.