Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Please go directly to HonestArgument.com

This blog is inactive. All Honest Argument site news is now accessed directly from the HonestArgument.com site

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Help Documentation Completely Rewritten

We have completely rewritten the Honest Argument Help documentation. It is now broken down into separate sections corresponding to the different ways you can interact with the site:
The Creating Arguments section also includes an illustrated tutorial.

Additionally, we have added a Glossary.

Of course, there is still the site Overview, as well as a FAQ.

Friday, April 20, 2007

New node types

There are two new Node types to note. Stylistically, they track closely with the existing Node types, so there should be little confusion.

Both represent Nodes that link to an independent Argument.

In the context of an Argument where you encounter an arrow, it should be viewed within that argument as a normal supporting or refuting assertion toward its parent. A green arrow represents a supporting assertion that links to a new Argument, red represents a refuting assertion that links to a new Argument.

When you click through an arrow Node to the full Node text, you will have the option of returning to the current Argument or clicking through to the independent Argument represented by the Node.

The two obvious reasons for introducing this change are to:

  1. Reduce (if not eliminate) duplication of effort and content, and

  2. Reduce the outward or immediate complexity of the larger Arguments

As of now, the ability to spawn independent Arguments off from existing Arguments is reserved to Site Administrators. However, the ability to include existing Arguments as components of larger Arguments will be available to all Argument Moderators shortly.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Move Argument Nodes

When clicking through an Argument Node box to the extended description, there is now a "Move Node" option in addition to the Add/Edit/Delete Node options. This allows you to move that Node (along with all its children) to a new parent node within the Argument.

This is available both for Pending Arguments as well as those in General Discussion.

Additional notes:

  • As with Edit/Delete, the Move node option is only available to the Node owner or the Argument Moderator.

  • You cannot, for what should be obvious reasons, move a Node under one of its descendants

Monday, March 19, 2007

External Argument Diagrams now with text

External Argument diagrams (reached through the "Put this Argument on your site" link on the main Argument page) now include the Argument Node short text.

The outing of Valerie Plame was a criminal act The CIA certified to the Justice Department that it was illegal Plame was not covert, she was an analyst Contradicted by CIA referral to DOJ Contradicted by multiple coworkers at CIA Contradicted by Plame testimony to Congress CIA Directory Hayden confirms undercover status Plame's identity was well-known in Washington D.C. Contradicted by CIA referral to DOJ Court filings attest to covert status

Thursday, February 15, 2007

A new way to create Arguments

The old - but still legitimate - way to create Arguments was that a Moderator created the Argument, and built it out in response to user comments (adding new nodes, modifying existing nodes).

Back in December, we opened the Arguments up so that any registered user could add nodes to any Argument. Recently, we added the Argument Request facility.

Combine these two new features, and you have a new, more collaborative way to map out Arguments. Here's an example of how this might work:

  • User A creates an Argument Request

  • User B creates an Argument, based on User A's Request, adding a couple of supporting/refuting assertions

  • Users C, D, E and F add additional assertions

The end result should be more rapidly mapped Arguments.

You can still create Arguments the old way - and that is especially useful if you're a subject matter expert. But this is a great way to harness the HonestArgument.com communal knowledge to flesh out an Argument that you'd like to know more about.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

New feature - Argument Requests

Got an Argument you want to see, but don't have enough knowledge to start it yourself?

Want to start an Argument, but can't think of a good idea?

You've both come to the right place!

Whether you're the demanding sort, or the accomodating sort, Argument Requests are here for you.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Now add nodes to all arguments

We're going to experiment a little and allow all registered users to add nodes to any arguments. Just click through the box on any argument node to add a child.

Users will not be allowed to edit or delete nodes unless

  1. they created the node, or

  2. they are the argument owner

The primary reason that this wasn't done before is the expectation of abuse, and it will not be tolerated. This goes for those that add nodes, as well as the argument owners. Do not edit or delete nodes from your arguments because you don't like them, or your account will be terminated.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Looking for a few good conservative blogs

Our first blogads run comprised a month each on a liberal blog, a libertarian blog, and one populated by sociology professors.

For our next run, we're looking for suggestions for conservative blogs to balance out the liberal blog(s) we've picked to be next.

Criteria include:

  • a level-headed nature to their postings

  • intellectual honesty - willing to admit their mistakes and make corrections

  • frequent backlinks from other conservative blogs

  • high traffic

  • most importantly, cheap

Feel free to self-link or link your friends in comments, but none of the criteria are really optional.

Thanks in advance for the help!

Beware of Speed Bumps

HonestArgument.com is undergoing active development and enhancement. You could even say it's in beta as the Web 2.0 kids say.

We maintain a development environment in which we test all of our enhancements prior to moving them to the HonestArgument.com domain. Occasionally, however, we (and sometimes you) encounter a problem that we didn't find in the development environment.

So please be patient if you encounter a problem, and because you're such a great person, we know you'll let us know at:


just in case we don't already.


New and updated nodes now in bold

If you're logged in, and viewing arg diagrams with text, new and updated nodes now appear as bold text. "New and updated" is calculated from the beginning of your last visit, so any nodes created or updated during your visit will also appear to you as new even if you saw them before.

Keep the suggestions coming!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

New: Argument diagrams with text

Several users have suggested an alternate diagram layout that includes the short text descriptions beside the node blocks. The image above serves as an example of this layout.

This is now the default layout. A link below the Argument diagram enables you to switch back and forth between with/without text modes, and your choice will persist for the session. (Note that this link is only present when viewing Arguments in general discussion, not temporary Arguments, although the operative mode is applied to temporary Arguments also).

Let us know what you think.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Putting Argument Diagrams on Your Site

A key feature of HonestArgument.com is the ability to put Argument Diagrams on any website, including yours.

Obviously, this will be of greatest value to the individual Argument Moderators - in exchange for undertaking to catalog the Arguments, they get to display the fruits of their labor on their own sites, for the benefit of their own readers. But any Argument Diagram can be placed on any site by anbody, including public resources such as Wikipedia.

Here we present an example of what an Argument Diagram will look like on another site, in this case a Blogspot blog. This is indeed an actual Argument on the HonestArgument.com site.

Abramoff scandal is a Republican scandal Abramoff donated no money to Democrats Abramoff's clients and lobbyists donated to Democrats Congressional Democrats have little to no legislative influence Donations to Democrats decreased under Abramoff Abramoff central to 'K Street Project' Donations pervasive throughout Republican establishment Many conservatives admit it's a Republican scandal
It even behaves almost exactly like an Argument Diagram would on the site:

  • Mouse over the various nodes to read the brief descriptions

  • Click through nodes to read the complete node text

The only real difference is that clicking through a node opens a new browser window on HonestArgument.com so your readers don't leave your site.

The technology behind this is simply an image map. Every Argument Diagram page contains a link to "Put this argument on your site!" Clicking that link will take you to a page with a code listing that you can cut and paste into your own site.

Additional notes:

  • The image part of the image map is stored on the HonestArgument.com server, so you don't have to incur the bandwidth cost

  • The image map text that you paste in your page is static and will not track changes to the Argument itself. If the Argument is updated on the HonestArgument.com site, and you wish to reflect that on your site, you will again need to click the "Put this argument on your site!" link on the Argument Diagram page, and again copy the image map code to your site.

  • Using this feature requires that you adhere to the HonestArgument.com copyright policy. You must not alter the image map code in any way, for any reason. If you are the Argument Moderator, any changes must be made to the Argument itself on the HonestArgument.com site as explained above.

  • No tracking of your users is done other than that performed by Google Analytics, or the generic site statistics gathered by our hosting provider.

Finally, although image maps are a mature technology, our testing of this has not been extensive. We have only yet encountered one issue, and for that we recommend that you not attempt any formatting of the image map text that you paste into your page - simply paste the "blob" of text as is.

As such, do not hesitate to contact us if you should have a problem with your site.

We hope that you will find this feature useful for yourself and your users!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

About HonestArgument.com

At their best, blogs and other forums (fora) on the net serve as individual nodes in a great and widespread conversation. However, these media inherently suffer from multiple flaws, the most important of which is that you rarely see an attempt at cataloguing the entirety of an argument. In the few cases where this is laid out, it is almost always done so in a simplistic list of assertions for and against the argument.

HonestArgument.com is a place where people gather to discuss topics big and small, to hash out a complete argument. What makes this site especially interesting is that the argument is mapped out visually, in a tree structure of supporting and refuting assertions, until the argument reaches a natural conclusion.

The arguing, of course, is not the point of the site, but simply the means of getting there - exposing the half-truths, untruths and fallacies that the hacks use to convince you that their side is right. Just as importantly, the hacks don't get to hide from inconvenient facts, or assertions that fail to fit neatly into their belief systems.

Simply put, HonestArgument.com imposes structure and completeness on an argument.

An argument starts with a thesis, along with a few assertions that support and/or refute that thesis. Once the user community starts discussing the argument, additional assertions are identified and each of the assertions is extended out with its own supporting and refuting assertions.

The result is not only a complete argument, in which all of the points and counterpoints are identified, but the argument is mapped out into a visual structure that enables a holistic understanding of the topic.

HonestArgument.com is a free site and open to all. We hope to discuss sports, movies, music, politics, technology or any topic that you feel could benefit from structure and completeness.

So head on over to http://HonestArgument.com and join the fray!