Should I use the Term Paper format in Great Debates?

I like to post in GD, however I get in trouble with the other posters for not doing it a certain way. In high school, I had to do term papers for a few of my teachers. I just wanted to know, should my post include a bibliography and links to all my sources, just like a term paper?

Could you give a link to you getting in trouble with OPs in GD? The only times I’ve seen posters ‘get in trouble’ in GD is when they either post a drive by link with a line or two saying ‘discuss’, or post an obscure or highly inflammatory OP that is more a troll than a debate.

There isn’t a set format for debating in GD. My advice is to think through your OP and the question or questions you want to ask, don’t post drive by links or links to long articles or books that you expect the poster to read through completely in order to engage in the debate (cut and paste relevant parts of what you are citing, assuming you are giving a link, that describes or defines the questions you want to ask or the positions you want to debate)…other than that, I think the sky is the limit. You might not get a good reception for your position, but I doubt anyone will ping you on the format.


Would they be easier to understand though if they were written like essays, though?

Sure. Just try not to make them too long. (<-----Here, take my advice, I’m not using it!)

There are two fora on the board where supporting your assertions with reputable sources is pretty important and expected if you want to have a discussion really go anywhere. Those are General Questions and Great Debates. You don’t necessarily need footnotes or a bibliography per se, it’s just nice if you link to examples. In that case, I did choose to cite my sources at the end, because it interrupted the flow less. But more often I make the links part of the text.

If the point you’re making isn’t too outrageous, you can often get away without doing this, but the second you stir up controversy, someone will request a citation, generally by posting, “Cite?”

In MPSIMS, IMHO and The Pit, people are less likely to ask for a cite if you’re talking about an opinion you hold, but if you move into making factual assertions, expect to be asked for a cite. You’re a little socially freer to say “no, this isn’t GQ, and this is based on my experiences,” but it’s best to own your opinions as opinions, or else be prepared to back up your facts.

But don’t worry. We’re really not as obnoxious as this post makes us sound. Well, most of the time. :wink:

Yeah, you definitely want to avoid the TL/DR effect of posting a huge wall of text. Also, you probably want to avoid making the OP to stiff and stilted, like a position paper or something like that, since that has the potential to get peoples backs up. And you definitely want to take WhyNot’s advice on citing any factual assertions you make, or being clear if you are just asserting your opinion…even then you might get called on it, depending on how controversial the topic.

My advice would be to give your term paper format a try and see how it goes. If it doesn’t go over well you’ll know fairly quickly. :wink:

(And keep trying. Writing an OP that both engages the posters on this board and doesn’t set them off is a hit or miss proposition. I still haven’t gotten the hang of it, as most of my OPs general are lucky to run a few pages. I simply don’t have the background or vertical expertise to craft an OP that is really engaging to the bulk of the posters in GD or GQ…which is fine, as usually I have very limited questions that are easy to answer and don’t require 16 pages to settle)


Another thing to remember is how easily these threads lose focus. If you start with an OP that has a lot of text, that just multiplies the likelihood that other posters are going to latch on to some secondary issue rather than discuss your main point. And that can be annoying if you put a lot of effort into the topic and everyone else wanders off on to another subject.

I think a full bibliography would be a little much. I think the criticism has been that you don’t fully explain what you are thinking and why you believe it, and you need to use facts to back that up.