Debate editors guide

This guide is meant to tell you what additional options you have when you are a debate editor.

Editing your debate

You should no longer have to click on ‘improve this’ in order to make changes to the debate. Instead there are three tabs at the top of the debate above the debate motion; ‘view’ which is the normal view that everyone has of the debates. ‘edit’ where you can make changes and ‘improvements’ where any suggestions by others go for you to check.


When you click on edit you are presented with a lot of editable fields.

Motion: The title of the debate

Abstract: The introduction of the debate

Vocabularies: Themes: shows which theme the debate will come under in the main debatabase homepage. You must also add a sub theme (ones with – next to it) and can have as many as you want, including from other themes. If the debate has no themes it won’t be possible to find it by browsing.

Tags: to help search engines so generally the more the better but make sure they are relevant.

Language: Do not change!

Curator: who the curator of the debate is [do not change!]

Editors: same as curators – you can add more besides yourself if you wish but we would like to be informed.

Authors: The person who wrote the debate – this is often blank as it was added after most debates were added so we may eventually fill it in.

Next we get the main body of the debate with all the points in a long list. Each has:

Point title: pretty obvious!

Point type: For or against, if set as –none- it will not show on the debate so you may wish to change it to this if you are going to spend some time editing a point.

Point: The body of the point

Counterpoint: the body of the counterpoint

Appendix: whatever extra text you have that is relevant to the point but would make the point too long.

Bibliography: All the works cited in the debate, so if you add a reference also add it to the bibliography

Further Reading: Where users can find more information on the subject of the debate

Related Publications: This is any idea press books that are relevant to the debate you can ignore it as we will add any we think relevant

Related Debates: Other debates in the debatabase that are on similar topics – if you type a word and wait a while you should be prompted with the debates that have that word in the motion.

Related Websites: This can be any website; it should really be used in a similar way to further reading. If you have a debate on the European Parliament for example you may want to link to the European Parliament’s homepage.

Image: This is only relevant to debates on microsites. The main debatabase does not have this enabled.

When finished making any changes you are making click on save or preview and then save.  


These are what users submit through the ‘improve this’ button and one of the main roles of an editor is to evaluate and edit these suggested improvements.

You will see a list of the improvements that have been suggested for that debate. This will show which point the improvement is for, who submitted it, the type of improvement and whether the improvement has yet to be looked at (Created) is rejected by editor, accepted by editor, rejected by curator or accepted by curator.

You can now click on the improvement you wish to check.

Alternatively to get to the improvement for a debate you are editor for you can go through the email which will be sent to you when someone submits an improvement. It will be titled ‘New improvement submitted for debate: <debate title>’ and will have a link through to the improvement.

Editing an improvement.

When you go into an improvement you will see body of the improvement. To highlight the changes from the current text click on ‘Argument details’ which will show changes in red with the original on the left (yellow background) and the improvement on the right (green background).


The main disadvantage of this is that it shows the coding such as <p> to create paragraphs so it can be slightly confusing to read.

You now click in the edit tab and will get a screen very like the screen for editing the full debate but with only the relevant point/counterpoint that has been improved. This means you can change the improvement if you believe it is a change worth making but has not been written into the debate in the best way possible.

In order to accept or reject the change (more on how to decide whether to accept the change below) use the drop down menu that starts with the option created and select whether to accept or reject the improvement. The notes will allow you to add a comment; which may be a reminder for yourself of your reasoning or may be to the curator or the author of the improvement.

If you decide to reject the improvement then you will be given a list of reasons why

I have found that often the reason is not listed; for example when the user has put their improvement on the wrong side of the argument or has added a comment when they should have used ‘discuss this’ when this is the case it is best add a note to that effect in case the user checks back.

Finally click save. If there is a curator this improvement will now go into the list for the curator to check before it goes live.

How to decide if an improvement is beneficial to the debate

A lot of this is going to depend upon your knowledge of the debate and how you believe it needs to be improved rather than a set of rules on what makes a good improvement.

First of all I am sure you will have already have read the guide to writing debatabase debates which covers what should be in each point and this applies to improvements as much as to the original debate.

There are some things that will almost always be accepted; someone correcting a typo or grammar mistake for example, or else someone adding a reference (assuming it is relevant and says what they say it says). If the improvement is adding more evidence to a point where there is already evidence you may want to move it to the appendix.

Equally in many cases it will be obvious an improvement should be rejected; when it reads like a comment not an addition to the debate, if it is spam or otherwise irrelevant, if it is potentially offensive etc.

More complex is when more analysis or explanation is being added in which case you might want to ask several questions of the improvement;

  • First of all is the argumentation sound?
  • Is the improvement simply adding evidence, explanations or references where one did not exist before?
  • Does this improvement fit in with the point? If not can it be easily edited so that it does?
  • Is the improvement in the right place? Is it a big enough issue that it requires a new point rather than just an addition to a pre-existing point?

What an editor can and can’t do has not been finalized and so feel free to make suggestions. There are also some areas that we are still working on that will affect editors; most particularly debates that have not been completed and are unpublished  which will be more open to editing and also tools to show what needs improving on a debate.