More productive conversations to build a better Singapore.

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  FEATURES

What's the discussion about?

Read an objective and unbiased introduction to understand the key terms, concepts, and facts (including user-submitted facts) to level up before you join the discussion.

Too long; didn't read all comments?

We know it is a chore to read long lists of comments, so we automatically summarise the conversation for you, with interesting graphs and data analysis.

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Let our system guide you towards leaving better comments. If you want to really improve, read through our commenting lessons and get advice from world-class debaters on how to write persuasive and succinct comments.

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Chronologically-ordered comments are a pain to read. We make it more intuitive by arranging the comments by perspectives, so you can tell at a glance who are the key voices (and what are their viewpoints).

  BENEFITS

For the Public

Online comments today are increasingly disrespectful, divisive, and unproductive. We want commenting to be respectful, responsible and a little more rational especially on controversial issues.
Our objective introduction sets the facts straight (and you can add any new facts as they appear). The commenting system and peer moderation system both help improve the quality of comments. The auto-summary analyses the comments and provides data so you know where the majority stand, what the important minority views are, and where the key disagreements and consensus areas are.
We want you to be a part of more productive conversations to build a better Singapore.

For Policy Makers

It is a challenge to make sense from the chaos and noise of internet forums and comment sections. Our system helps policy makers see where people stand on issues, so they can take into account the majority and minority views when they design or refine policies. We hope that policy makers can also add facts to the introduction to frame the issue properly for the rest of us, and maybe even engage in the conversation to lend clarity to some issues.
We know they care about building a better Singapore, so we want them to be a part of productive conversations that help them achieve that.

TOPICS


Do you support or oppose the decision to completely ban shisha?

38.6% SUPPORT
61.4% OPPOSE
[09 Nov 2014]

SUPPORTOPPOSE
Most Actively Discussed:
Ordinary Citizen
25%75%
1 comments
4 votes
3 comments
12 votes
Business Owner100%0%
1 comments
3 votes
Regulator / Policy Analyst33%67%
1 comments
4 votes
1 comments
9 votes
TOTAL38.6%61.4%
3 comments
11 votes
4 comments
21 votes

Key Disagreements

[pending more comment data]
The strongest point that argued on the side "support" came in the category of "regulator / policy analyst" from commenter Anonymous who said: "Personally I also have concerns with the ban, but for the sake of playing devil's advocate: When do we ban something? We ban it if (a) it causes (or has the potential to cause) harm to others, (b) if there are very few (or no) redeeming qualities of the thing in question, and (c) it is practical to do so. Let me use guns as an extreme example: we ban people from owning guns in Singapore because guns can cause a lot of harm, and there really aren't any good reasons to own a gun here. So does shisha fit into that criteria? Unfortunately for most of the commenters here, it appears to fit. Shisha causes harm to the smoker and to those around the smoker (2nd hand smoke), and there are no redeeming qualities for shisha. Some of the commenters here have said that alcohol is like shisha - but that is not quite true because there are some studies ( www.ynhh.org/about-us/red_wine.aspx ) that say that a glass of red wine is good for you, so there are some redeeming qualities for alcohol. Some of you asked why shisha should be banned if cigarettes are still allowed, given that cigarettes are just as bad. While it is a valid point, it is not a valid rebuttal of the policy. What you are actually saying is that we should ban both, not that we should ban neither one. My personal guess is that it is (c) that explains why they would rather ban shisha first and cigarettes later. Given the small number of shisha smokers in Singapore, it is likely to be easier to enforce a ban on shisha. Given the huge number of cigarette smokers here, a ban on cigarettes might have a huge backlash effect (just guessing). Again, my personal view is on the other side but I wanted to play devil's advocate."
On the other hand, the strongest point that argued on the side "oppose" came in the category of "regulator / policy analyst" from commenter aristoitle who said: "Even if we accept that shisha is very unhealthy, a complete ban is an overreaction. The appropriate reaction would have better balanced the two opposing principles at play here. On the one hand, people should be able to choose what they do. On the other, if those choices lead to harm to other people or other societal costs, the government may need to step in. A complete ban basically tosses out the first principle in favor of the second. A more balanced reaction would have been, in order: 1) to educate the consumer about the dangers of shisha to himself and those near to him 2) to use other sorts of "nudges" to discourage shisha smoking, such as requiring the same gory images on cigarette packages to be displayed 3) to use taxation to make shisha smoking more expensive 4) to introduce a partial ban, either in terms of hours of location Only after 1-4 is shown to be insufficient (because the public harm outweighed the private benefits) should a complete ban have been considered. We haven't even heard any reason why 1-4 wouldn't have worked. So the government has overreacted on this one."

Key Consensus Areas

[pending more comment data]
The least debated area was the category/perspective of business owner, which might indicate some consensus there.

READ MORE

More Issues

[21 Aug 2014]
PROPOSEOPPOSE
Most Actively Discussed:
Customer
58%42%
4 comments
21 votes
2 comments
16 votes
Taxi Industry36%64%
1 comments
4 votes
2 comments
7 votes
Observer, Analyst, Or Regulator61%39%
2 comments
21 votes
2 comments
13 votes
TOTAL55%45%
7 comments
46 votes
6 comments
36 votes

Key Disagreements

Customers were divided on whether Uber was as safe and reliable as regular taxis or not.
The strongest point that argued on the side "propose" came in the category of "Observer, Analyst, or Regulator" from commenter kennethkang who said: "As a concept, I support having more taxis on the road, as long as they are safe, of a predictable standard and drivers are competent / service oriented. Uber is able to facilitate that. As long as Uber is able to regulate its driver pool, in terms of the car that they drive, safety track record and service quality, these ad hoc drivers are in essence no different from licenced taxi drivers. Uber can subject its drivers to similar standards as licensed taxi drivers would. It is also in the interest of Uber to ensure their drivers are of quality, as consumers are unlikely to use the UberX service if they perceive ad hoc drivers to be unsafe. This is a situation where regulation can be relaxed (not neglected) to give more options for consumers."
On the other hand, the strongest point that argued on the side "oppose" came in the category of "Customer" from commenter sylvia who said: "These days drivers are getting distracted with their mobile phones – running multiple taxi booking apps, checking for location hotspots where there's customers, accepting next booking even if there's customer onboard the taxi. The introduction of Ubertaxi app adds on to the amount of distractions and compromises the safety of passengers."

Key Consensus Areas

Commenters generally agreed that the existing taxi services could be improved, in terms of the number of taxis available during peak hours.
The least debated area was the category/perspective of Taxi Industry, which might indicate some consensus there.

READ MORE
[09 Aug 2014]

We received 3 arguments and 38 votes.
#1: Improve Dispute Resolution voted 78% for support to 22% for oppose,
#2: Create a Family Justice Court voted 0% for support to 100% for oppose,
and Broader Perspective voted 0% for support to 0% for oppose,

Key Disagreements

Commenters were divided on whether the reforms were sufficient to address the problems raised.
The most hotly debated area was the category/perspective of #1: Improve Dispute Resolution.
The strongest point that argued on the side "support" came in the category of "#1: Improve Dispute Resolution" from commenter gauravkeerthi who said: "Dragging a family through a long, messy, and sometimes public dispute will never help them heal their wounds; it only widens the rifts. There must be better - and less messier - dispute mechanisms available to families. "
On the other hand, the strongest point that argued on the side "oppose" came in the category of "#2: Create a Family Justice Court" from commenter Anonymous who said: "Also testing"

Key Consensus Areas

There was consensus that Recommendation #1 was worth pursuing.
The least debated area was the category/perspective of Broader Perspective, which might indicate some consensus there.

READ MORE
[21 May 2014]

We received 2 arguments and 26 votes, in these categories: public transport user, taxpayer, and observer / analyst.

Key Disagreements

Public Transport Users were divided on whether a private transport system would be more cost-effective or more costly.
The most hotly debated area was the category/perspective of public transport user.
The strongest point that argued on the side "support" came in the category of "public transport user" from commenter gauravkeerthi who said: "I think that the current train system is not sustainable and the only way to improv e it is through this method. [test synthesis ] "
On the other hand, the strongest point that argued on the side "oppose" came in the category of "taxpayer" from commenter Anonymous who said: "I totally love the trains in other countries. Why can't we have that same system here? [test comment]"

Key Consensus Areas

Commenters generally agreed that the public transportation system was inexpensive compared to other countries, but could be improved further.
The least debated area was the category/perspective of observer / analyst, which might indicate some consensus there.

READ MORE

NEWS & UPDATES


Future Topics


These are some of the more popular potential topics:
  • We believe that doctors should be allowed to help terminally-ill patients end their lives. [Laws and Society]
  • We would make community service an alternative form of national service. [Laws and Society]
  • We believe that formal debates between candidates should be an integral part of all election campaigns. [Politics and International Affairs]
  • We believe in a legislated minimum wage. [Economics]
  • We would increase income tax and not the Goods & Services Tax. [Economics]
Propose a new topic [Voting for topics coming soon].

COMMENTING LESSONS


Understanding the Issue

Before you discuss a topic, you must understand what the topic means. The key terms, concepts, and context for the discussion must be clear. A specific and unambiguous topic allows people to focus their analysis and avoid going off on tangents. The topic affects different groups of people differently; each group has its own motivations and interests that need to be understood and respected. LEARN MORE

Logical Reasoning

An argument with clear structure is easier to understand. A thesis (or claim) introduces a reader to your general point. The reasoning (or logic) explains the cause-and-effect theoretical relationship that underlies your view. Arguments need to be substantiated with evidence in the form of examples or statistics. LEARN MORE

Persuasive Writing

A good argument is most effective when communicated with a persuasive writing style. Clear and simple language is better than fancy phrases and jargon. Use metaphors, similes, quotes, and other rhetorical devices to make your message more memorable and impactful. A persuasive communicator is likeable, earnest, humble, polite, funny, and confident. LEARN MORE

Responding to Others

Read carefully what the other person has said, and try to empathise with their perspective before you respond. Find and analyse the flaws in their understanding of the topic, their thesis or claim, their cause-and-effect logic, or their examples. Explain those flaws clearly and concisely, and provide an alternative explanation. Do not be disrespectful or aggressive, as that is not persuasive. LEARN MORE

COMMENTING ADVICE

Do you have questions about how to write a specific comment on a friend's post, a discussion forum, or a blog article? Would you like to come across as more persuasive in your argument? Ask us for advice, and our panel of persuasion experts will try to help you.

[Feature coming soon. Contact me via email]

The Importance of Disagreeing Better

Watch dialectic founder Gaurav Keerthi's TEDx video at Harvard to find out.

Download my technology study and negotiation analysis research papers at Harvard that catalysed this project. Learn more about how the dialectic works, our vision, and the technology [coming soon]. I want to reinvent how commenting is done on divisive issues, so that we can have better discussions.

Gaurav Keerthi

Dialectic Founder & Developer, Debate Educator, TV Host, Author

I have been a volunteer debate educator and organiser since 1997. I started off as a student debater, and quickly realised that the lesson to learn in debate is not how to argue or to win, but to learn how to disagree with someone without disrespecting them. This is not an easy task. We tried to teach this to students when I was the President of the Debate Association (Singapore); I hoped to reach out to a wider audience with my book on debate; I aimed to popularise debate with Singapore's first Emmy nominated TV show, The Arena and my Channel News Asia show Bridging Asia: The Singapore Debates. Now, I'm trying to improve online debates with The Dialectic. If you share my vision, please connect with me.