Wikidebates:Founding principles

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Wikidebates’ founding principles set up the guidelines which define the ways this encyclopaedia was created and how operates. They are at the root of every rule and recommendation surrounding this project. These principles are exhaustivity, charity, non-partisanship, readability, impersonality, verifiability, free content, mutual respect and civility.

Principles regarding neutrality

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Comprehensiveness

Any debate and any assertion is welcome on Wikidebates, regardless of its justification or of how prevalent it is in society. This principle is only bounded by the limits of the Law, and by the principle of verifiability.

Are therefore inventoried on Wikidebates: minority assertions, inexact assertions, extremist, immoral or non-scientific assertions; so long as these can be assessed as existing in the public sphere, and do not go against the law. What matters is not that there be as many “for” and “against” assertions, but rather that each assertion be listed.

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Charity

Each debate must be presented in a way that is the most favorable possible to each side, pro or con.

Thus, arguments must be formulated in their strongest and most convincing versions. In support of a claim, the bibliography, websites, videography and chosen quotes must favor solid arguments and quality sources. Arguments which are poor in content, dishonest, grossly exaggerated or distorted are not welcome on Wikidebates.

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Non-partisanship

Wikidebates takes no side and supports no other claim than those contained in its founding principles.

Thus, no argument indexed on Wikidebates is endorsed by either the encyclopaedia or its governing body. Arguments are inventoried only insofar as they are supported by individuals or groups who express them publicly. No moral claim or judgement – explicit or implicit, positive or negative – can thus be expressed other than the arguments or rebuttals which are inventoried, and of the limits the founding principles.

Principles regarding the encyclopaedic nature of the project

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Readability

Wikidebates aims at providing concise and structured content, written in a clear and accessible language.

Pages must respect a predefined presentation format focused on arguments. Arguments must be summarised using simple vocabulary and syntax, as well as be grouped by family when numerous. Each claim is expanded and developed in a specific separate page. Sub-debates, when complex, are to be treated as debates in their own right in distinct pages, to which the reader is guided if in desire to study the matter further.

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Impersonality

Besides quotes, claims indexed on Wikidebates are not to be personal opinions or testimonies, but general arguments, presented without direct reference to their authors or proponents.

Thus, Wikidebates should not reference claims formulated in ways such as “I believe that […]” or “So and so says that […]”, but rather directly what the claim is.

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Verifiability

Content on Wikidebates must be supported by sources.

Thus, all arguments indexed must be attributed to an author or to a well identified group. If a claim being made is considered senseless by contributors, a sourced citation or quote is to be provided proving that such a claim is truly supported. Introductions to debates which contain quotes, numbers or obscure information must mention the source which supports them.

Principles regarding the collaborative nature of the project

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Free content

Wikidebates is an encyclopaedia published under the Creative Commons 3.0 licence, granting identical sharing and paternity terms of use.

Anyone is free to copy, modify and distribute Wikidebates content, under the condition that the source and licence be provided, and that produced/modified content remain under aforementioned licence. Added content must comply with copyright law.

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Respect and civility

Contributions and exchanges between contributors are made in accordance with the rules of common courtesy.

As a contributor, you are required to respect your fellow contributors, even when you disagree with them. You must remain polite, courteous and respectful. You are to seek consensus rather than being aggressive towards people, or formulating insulting generalisations. Keep your cool in the face of a heated argument, and avoid any “editing warfare”. Take part in the spirit of good faith, and assume that your fellow contributors are in the same mind-frame, unless it is obviously not the case. Try to be open, welcoming and friendly.

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