Howdy Debater!
Sign In Register


Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Debate - what does it mean to Debate, and does it have to be formal?

agsragsr 158 Points


That is a big word, but do we really understand what it means? 

Debate is contention in argument, strife, dissension, quarrelling, [controversy][, especially a formal [discussion] of subjects before a public assembly or legislature, in [Parliament] or in any deliberative assembly.

Wiki also offer definitions and examples of various forms of debates, including online.  
It clarifies that debate can be formal and informal.
Informal and forum debate is relatively common, shown by TV shows. also offers a definition for "Debate"

a discussion, as of a public question in an assembly, involving opposing viewpoints

to engage in argument or discussion 

Urban Dictionary offers yet another definition of debate.

Today, a form of intellectual self-masturbation in which one attempts to scale an ivory tower in the shortest time possible. Policy debate was founded in 1957 in an attempt to disguise the throes of the real world with dignified, "intellectual" switch-side arguments. The framers intended it to allow young people to become more active in the world around them and encourage them to do something to help the ailing world. Instead, debaters made the activity into a competition of who could spew the most statistics, impacts, horribly damnable effects/results, screaming evidence at cutthroat speed, and modern debate sprouted as a result. Debate resides close to the top of the proverbial "ivory tower", as the real world gets translated into evidence and impacts, statistics and "strats" to win tournaments. Those who participate for the fun of it are exempt from this definition; it is only applicable to debate when it is applied as a critical theory that can "benefit the world".

So bottom line - debating what it means to debate is really a waste of time.  We can argue that any formal and informal discussion can be classified as a debate if we take a more casual definition.
  1. Debate - what does it mean to Debate, and does it have to be formal?5 votes
    1. Debate must be formal
    2. A casual argument can also be classified as a Debate
  • agsragsr 158 Points
    Debate definition is not just for formal debates that are structured and political.  DebateIsland and other casual debate formats are also all debates.
  • ale5ale5 34 Points
    There is a fine line between a debate and a discussion.  Based on definitions of all 3 sources DebateIsland debates certainly qualify as debates. Many people think of debates as something very formal in a prescribed format, but if you look at the wiki definitions the number of formats and flavors is overwhelming.  Debate certainly doesn't have to be limited to a 1-1 format multi-round formats of 
    I like the debate format of DebateIsland, it is just right for flexibility and structure.  It is much more structured than reddit like run-away format, but more flexible than a formal failing debate format.
    Casual debates qualify as debates, but there is still a good debate and a bad debate.
  • islander507islander507 34 Points
    I also agree that DebateIsland got the debating format just right, balancing flexibility with structure.
    i do think that there are some people who prefer more formal debate, and there are very specifc debate formats listed in the wiki article.
    Now that most internet users use mobile, debate experience needs to evolve from writing essays to making effective points. I would suggest that a new style of debate gets added to the definition in Wiki - DebateIsland debate style.
    I vote for interpretation that debate formwt can be causual and doesn't need to be formal.
  • joecavalryjoecavalry 37 Points
    There are many reasons why I love this website. is simple, and casual unlike other websites. Debating can be casual as well not only formal.
  • inc4tinc4t 49 Points
    If I join a formal debate club and decide to do it professionally then I will consider formal debating.

    debate doesnt have to be formal, but it has to be substantiated and convincing.  

    Debate definition is not limited to formal structure, and causual debate is perfectly fine (and preferred).
    Skill for causual debate is actually very useful tomlewrn for real life, as many of our friends, coworkers, and family are not trained in formal debate. They so however consistently debate variety of topics, and that's where DebateIsland is very helpful and easy to use.
Sign In or Register to comment.

Back To Top

Debate Anything on

| The Best Online Debate Experience!
2017, All rights reserved. | The Best Online Debate Experience! Debate topics you care about. We are totally free!

Contact us
Awesome Debates

Get In Touch