A Dialogue on the Value of Debate

In openDemocracy:

You can’t be involved for long with openDemocracy – or with any serious new-media publication – without soon needing a reply to the “cheap-talk” challenge: “what’s all this debate for anyway?” Are we just doing fire-drill, waiting for the day when holding power to account will be a matter of saving civilisation? Or does all this talk do more? Does it define who we are, and, in pervasive ways we hardly notice, change our behaviour, our beliefs of what is possible and our impact on those around us?

These are the big questions of “why debate?” But the answers will also inform all the everyday decisions that a web publication needs to make. Should commenters be registered? Is anonymity allowed? Does reputation grow? Should the debating community moderate itself? Should different areas have different levels of “openness”? Should articles be commissioned to fit into well-conceived debates, or should editors rely on unprompted submissions to create debate? Why should philanthropists or public bodies fund the sort of conversation that we make?