Major Updates to TheRationalDebate Released!

I’m happy to announce that a major overhaul of TheRationalDebate is now released!  The goals for this release are to:

  1. Simplify.  The site is now focused on opinion boards.  People weren’t using the debating features, so I decided to slim the site down and remove issues, arguments and comments.  The old data is all still available, so it can be restored if I ever decide to add it back.
  2. Improve the UI.  I’ve never been confused for a graphic designer, but I feel that the latest iteration of the site is cleaner and easier to use.
  3. Support Mobile.  Go ahead, try out the site with your smartphone or tablet.  It works much better now.

Check out TheRationalDebate and let me know what you think!

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Post Links to Facebook with the Rational Button

Do you like to post links to Facebook?  If you do, the Rational Button makes it really easy for you to post anything you see on the web to Facebook.  Get the Rational Button here.  Here’s how it works:

While browsing the internet, you come across an article, video, etc. that you think is a well thought out, rational source for your opinions.  Click the Rational Button on your browser toolbar to bring up a window to post it:

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If your account is connected to Facebook, you can post the article to Facebook right from here!  In the screenshot above, the Facebook icon is checked, so the link will be posted on Facebook.  Don’t want to post the article to Facebook?  Simple, just uncheck the Facebook icon.

If you decide to post to Facebook, here’s what it will look like on your timeline:

Here’s what the post will look like on Facebook.  The ‘R’ icon is my Facebook profile picture.  If you post, your profile pic will be there instead of the ‘R’.

It will look exactly the same as if you copied and pasted the URL in your status update bar on Facebook.  The only difference is the ‘via TheRationalDebate’ text at the bottom.

If you already have an account on TheRationalDebate but haven’t connected to Facebook yet, use the Rational Button to post something.  The window will give you the option to connect your account:

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If you don’t have an account on TheRationalDebate and you want to get started, the easiest way is to sign up using the ‘Sign In with Facebook’ button.  Click the Facebook button to sign up and connect your account to Facebook in one step!

Hit the Rational Button

When you’re browsing the web and you read or watch something that you want to remember as a source for your opinions, what do you do?  You’d like to remember it and organize it somehow, but how can you do that so it’s separate from all the other bookmarks that you have?  The answer is simple – post it to your Opinion Board on TheRationalDebate.  This is now easier than ever: you can click a Rational button on your browser toolbar to post it directly to your Opinion Board.  Get the Rational button here!  Here’s an example of how it works:

A friend of mine posted an article to Twitter from The Economist, and while reading it I thought it was really good article that I will want to remember as a source for my opinion on vaccines.  So, to add this article to my Opinion Board, I can simply click the Rational button on my browser toolbar:

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Clicking the Rational button causes a window to appear right on the page:

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Now I simply pick the Opinion Board I want to post the article to (or I can create a new board if I want), add my comments and click the ‘Add Post’ button and it’s done!

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Once the post is created, I can either click the link to check out my Opinion Board, or simply close the window to go back to reading the article.  Easy!  The screenshots above show the Rational button in Chrome, but it’s also been tested with Internet Explorer 8+, Firefox, Safari, and Opera.

Get the Rational button for your browser and start bookmarking rational sources out on the web today!

If you’re curious about seeing my Opinion Board on vaccines, check it out here.  If you agree with me, sign in or sign up and repost my sources to your board to get started.  If you disagree, I’ve yet to see any rational arguments against vaccinations, so let’s see your Opinion Board!

Organize Your Sources and Opinions on TheRationalDebate

It’s really tough to compose a well thought out rational argument without choosing reliable sources and organizing them somehow.  With that in mind, how do you organize your sources and opinions?  While thinking about this after TheRationalDebate launched earlier this year, I realized that a great addition to the site would be something that lets you organize your sources and opinions.  I’m happy to announce that you can now use TheRationalDebate to do exactly this by using the new Opinion Board feature!

How Opinion Boards Work

You can post any URL to your boards on TheRationalDebate.  It can be a blog article, a YouTube video or anything else on the web. If it has a URL, it can be posted.  For example, let’s say you want to organize your opinion on global warming.  So you’re browsing the web, and you come across a great article from NOAA on some recently published research.   Simply post the URL of the article to your global warming board.  You can do this by copying and pasting the URL, or by using the rational button.  As you do this for other pages on the web, your board will help you cultivate your sources and learn more about the subject.

The homepage on TheRationalDebate has changed to show a site-wide feed of Opinion Board posts. (Editors note – as of November 2013, the homepage has been simplified.  You can still search for Opinion Boards using the search feature at the top).  As you’re reading what other people have posted, you may find something that you want to post too.  You can do this really easily by reposting the URL to your board.  Just click the repost link on any post: repost-2.0

Using Opinion Boards to Organize and Share Your Opinions

Use your boards to bolster your opinions before creating a rational argument, or use the board to help form your opinion if you’re not yet sure.  Either way, now that you’ve organized your sources, the next time you’re discussing global warming with a friend, all of the sources that help form your opinion will be organized in one spot.  You can even share your board with your friend on Google+, Twitter, and Facebook.  The basic building block of a rational, well thought out argument is credible sources based on facts.  The next time you’re arguing an issue with someone, ask to see your friend’s opinion board when they cite facts they heard “somewhere”.  And be ready with sources on your boards.

Opinion Boards are not limited to global warming or politics.  You can create as many boards as you want for whatever you want.  Are you a teacher?  Create education boards that track sources for how you think your school can be improved. Do you love sports? Create a board on why you think the Cubs will be a contender in the next few years.  It’s really up to you – create Opinion Boards for anything.

What’s Next for Opinion Boards

There are many updates planned for Opinion Boards, including Facebook integration, the ability to ‘follow’ another person’s boards, and a browser plugin that will let you post to your boards right from you browser toolbar.  As you’re using your new Opinion Boards, I’d love to hear your thoughts on what we should add. Get started creating your Opinion Boards and then let us know what you’d suggest to make it better.  Let us know in the comments, or contact us.

Invite Your Friends to Join TheRationalDebate

Do you know someone who needs to organize their sources for arguments?  Were you having a discussion with someone who didn’t have backup for their claims?  If you do, then invite them to join TheRationalDebate.com.  It’s easy!  Once you login, click the arrow or your name in the top right corner:

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Just click the invite item, and a dialog box will pop up:

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Put your friends’ email address in the “To” box.  If you want to send the invite to more than one person, simply put a comma between each email address.  You can personalize the email text by putting in your name (just click the gray box to change it), and you can also add whatever text you want to personalize the message.  After clicking the ‘Send Invite’ button, we’ll send the email and you’ll get a confirmation screen:

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If you want to send another invite, just click the ‘Send Another’ link!

Editors note – this post was updated on November 12th, 2013 to update the text and pictures reflecting site updates since the post was originally published.

TheRationalDebate.com Launched!

Welcome to TheRationalDebate Blog!  TheRationalDebate.com is a place for rational people to debate real issues and to learn from real arguments on the issues that affect us the most.  To learn more about TheRationalDebate.com, check out the about page.  Here you can read all about the website and watch a few videos of the site in action.

I’m planning on using this blog to make site announcements, gather site feedback, and to comment on great debates and arguments going on at TheRationalDebate and elsewhere.  You can subscribe to this blog using the subscribe box to the right and check us out on Facebook and Twitter!

I’m really excited about TheRationalDebate.  If you agree with what the site is trying to accomplish, sign up and join in!  Also, I’m curious – what are your experiences with debating or arguing issues on the internet in the past?  Would a tool like TheRationalDebate.com have made arguing important issues easier/better/more productive?  Leave a comment and let me know!