John Cowan cowan at
Sun Sep 30 10:32:09 UTC 2001

Karsten M. Self scripsit:

> This problem is inherently a filtering issue, not a transport and
> presentation issue.

This is somewhat OT, but I can't entirely agree; I believe it is also
a structuring issue.  The trouble with email (or web-forum) debate
is that the total lack of structure makes it just a running, and
generally repetitive, conversation.

The IBIS methodology developed by Kunz and Rittel 30 years ago
structures debate using an Issue-Position-Argument division.
This is analogous to, but freer than, formal Roberts Rules viva voce debate.
The normal practice on mailing lists is to raise an issue, take
a position on the issue, and argue for the position all in one
message.  Replies are mixtures of trying to deprecate the issuel,
raise alternate positions and argue for them, and oppose the
existing arguments.  IBIS gives people the tools to separate these.

I am currently working on a set of tools called Elephant that implement IBIS.
Elephant will be an open-source, Web plus email based implementation.
For details on Elephant, see the following wiki entries:

I urge anyone who wishes to collaborate with me on getting Elephant
ready to roll, and who is a Perl programmer with some time to
spare, to contact me.  I could use some help.

John Cowan               cowan at
Please leave your values        |       Check your assumptions.  In fact,
   at the front desk.           |          check your assumptions at the door.
     --sign in Paris hotel      |            --Miles Vorkosigan
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