The debate community has experienced a scattering of online community and communication. Between CPD, HSPD, reddit, cedaforums, different discord servers, and a handful of blogs, interview series, and websites, debate lacks a dedicated, centralized node for community discussion.
As long-time debate community members ourselves, we feel that the loss of this kind of truly valuable and unique community space should spurn the birth of a new platform for discussion. And so it has! Colin Dailey and I are proud to announce to launch of Policydb8.com - a new website created by debaters for debaters. We feel that providing a space that can create and strengthen connections not only within college debate but also between the high school and college debate communities is an essential cornerstone of the growth of debate writ-large and will have a lot of benefits moving forward. Forums like these provide a comfortable space for the creation of debate sub-culture and memes and allows debaters to relax and have fun, but more importantly they act as a pillar that grows interest and participation in the activity: from practice debates conducted online to evidence sharing and co-operative argument production to finding coaching resources and learning materials, the list goes on.
While Policydb8.com will bring all of the forum features that you're familiar with from cross-x or cedaforums, it will also bring a lot more to the table:
- Live Video Conferencing - our platform will bring live video chats capable of containing groups of people with minimal drag on your computer (in testing it's quite low impact on your RAM and has flowable sound quality). We imagine this having a wide variety of applications from meetings, Q&A's, tele-coaching and lectures, to live debates and leaves the door open for the possibility of conducting tournaments through the platform (an idea we're very receptive to).
- Coaches-for-Hire Directory - we want to create a space for coaches who are looking for work to post their credentials and put themselves out there for hire. The current struggle of posting in each facebook page and hoping enough of your friends promote your post (or that the right team sees it and reaches out for that matter) is a mess, and we'd like to make it a lot easier. Imagine having a single searchable directory where high school students in need of coaching can look through a list of coaches for hire and decide who they'd like to work with the most or who fits them the best. While it's not yet finished, this service will be available within 30 days and should greatly streamline the process for both coaches and debaters.
- Clubs - The forums will include a private clubs feature that allows you to create a private group and invite friends, teammates, coaches, and students. These can be open for all to join, require approval, be fully public or require membership to view, and can also be free or come with a paid membership feature. This combined with video conferencing as well as google doc embedding opens to a wide array of possibilities from short coaching seminars and hosting remote squad discussions to conducting online debate camps. It can also provide supporting infrastructure for established "brick-and-mortar" camps to extend contact with students or conduct camp tournaments.
- File Marketplace - Evazon was a huge hit on cross-x, and we don't see any reason to do away with the basic concept of a file marketplace. Policydb8.com will have a fully functional equivalent that allows approved authors to post and sell their files on the website. It will feature a weekly politics file/Thursday file, would be posted to regularly, and we're considering creating a monthly subscription feature for it, but want more feedback from all of you on what you'd like to see in the marketplace given that college debaters will be the majority of people populating it. Most importantly, in order to maintain the quality of the marketplace, we intend to screen files that are submitted for simple edits and quality control, and we will take a lower commission than cross-x did (they took 30%, we take 10%).
- Debate-Related Content Production - we would like to sponsor and be the home for multiple of debates' interest pieces and content producers. From articles and lectures transcribed online to interviews with authors and members of the debate community to circuit news, coach and debater profiles, and commentary/think-pieces on debate itself, we would love to see the website become a centralized hub for consuming content about debate created by debaters and coaches.
- Active Debate Calendar - the website will feature an integrated calendar that lists the dates for all tournaments on the high school and college circuit and include links to tournament invites and tabroom.
- Debate Streaming - When a tournament happens, it's often not easy for debaters of all ages to find where the stream is being hosted. We think this is an easy fix, and so we plan to host and organize streaming on Policydb8.com (given the other platforms hosting those streams provide requisite permissions). This will make it a lot easier for high school students, college debaters at home, friends, and family to tune into our debates when a tournament is happening and they want to watch from home.
- An Archive - While this is not something we're 100% on yet, we'd like to get your feedback on the idea of creating a centralized archive for debate videos and past streams. Many debates exist on youtube, some exist on vimeo, others are scattered around different smaller websites or are merely sitting on hard drives in a closet. We will obviously never put a debate into the archive that a participant or institution asks us not to post and are aware of the sensitive nature of handling optics when publishing debate videos. That being said, we know there's a lot of interest in the community for being able to watch old debates and learn from them, and so we want to test the waters and get some opinions on how this could best be done.
We have a big vision for what this website could become, but we hope that in the future it can not only act as a foundation for bringing debaters together but also as a crowdfunding resource run by and for the debate community (which we will never take a cent of commission from) that can fund scholarships for students to go to camp, travel, and hopefully even help them pay for the rising costs of school.
We plan to bring even more features to the website and would love your feedback on the kinds of things you'd like to see out of us. We're happy to answer any questions you have, whether you hate the website or you love it.
Thanks for your time! We hope you'll come check out our website, create an account, and post an introduction in the forums!
We'll keep you updated via our Twitter and Facebook pages.
Edited by ColinD