Reasonable pro-con discussions on controversial topics


  • Pros: 

    Structured debate with a clean website and format. Arguments are easily sorted into pros and cons.


    Most arguments aren't binary like the site wants. Moderators can be heavily biased. Many topics require approval to post any topic.

    If you want a nice place to quickly scrub over an issue and grab some pros and cons, Kialo is a good place. Unfortunately, the restrictions that plague interacting with the site can be detrimental. For instance, a topic on PETA was composed mostly of bunk science, but posting factual, supported evidence was rejected by the moderator before it was made available to view by others for various reasons.

    It's a neat idea, and the internet is in dire need of a platform that enforces some form of stricter moderation for nicer debate and discussion. However, with the strict level of control Kialo forces among its users, and potential bias that's been shown in certain topics from anonymous moderation, I can't recommend it to the wider internet at this moment.

    Racecar palindrome has used this product for one month.
  • Jeff WhitlockFounder & CEO @ Unbird

    Amazingly well-structured debates.


    Unclear how quality control is maintained. No real "social" aspect to product, such as clout, etc.

    Try it out!

    Jeff Whitlock has used this product for one day.


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Marcel Phillipe@xodobe_ · Digital Product Designer - Berlin
Great idea. I've thought about how to create a rational duscussion platform last year too. Can you tell us a little bit about what you think a healthy discussion is and how you translated that into an interface? I'd like to read a medium article on that
Jordan Krueger@jordankrueger · Organizer, activist, community builder.
Oh brother. This is the absolute wrong way to solve problems. The idea that "reasonable discussion" is all that's needed to enlighten people is exactly how today's mass media ended up so toxic. And the problem is demonstrated quite explicitly on the screenshots presented here! I assume they chose the "flat earth" discussion as an example because it seems so whacky and implausible. But here's the thing: SOME PEOPLE REALLY BELIEVE THE EARTH IS FLAT and want nothing more than for their ideas to be elevated into "reasonable discussion." Similarly, some people REALLY BELIEVE that climate change is a hoax – indeed, most of the elected Republicans in Congress believe this very thing. Is "reasonable discussion" really the fix for this idiocy? If so, why? And how? Head on down the rabbit hole and it gets even worse. Some people believe the Sandy Hook massacre was a "false flag" operation to lay the groundwork for banning guns. Should we debate with those people, despite all the horrible evidence that makes their theory utterly moot? How would it make you feel if your child's body had been destroyed by an AR-15 and people were having a "reasonable debate" about whether you were a paid actor? "Reasonable discussion" – or the lack thereof – is simply not what we're missing. We have lots of 50/50 discussions happening with talking heads on TV every day. It doesn't solve anything because the problem is NOT that we just need to get two people in a room to "hash things out" in a reasonable way. The problem is moreso that people refuse to educate themselves or accept the overwhelming evidence that disproves their position. On climate change, for example, the evidence is UTTERLY clear – one only has to look at it and be willing to accept the consensus. Having a debate about climate change makes things worse for everyone because it makes it seem like there IS a debate to be had, when there's obviously not. Having that debate elevates crazy conspiracy theories to the level of science.
Benny Lewis@irishpolyglot · Founder of Fluent in 3 Months
@jordankrueger Your comment doesn't seem remotely related to the product, but to the concept of reasonable discussion itself. I get that you disagree with it being the most effective way to change some people's minds, but that's a fault of human (lack of) reason, and limited to those who go into a discussion with limited ability to have an open mind. No product is going to easily solve stubbornness, and if someone is extremely convinced they are right, then reasonable debate isn't going to help much. But the ineffectiveness of reasonable discussion on extreme views, doesn't mean that it won't work effectively on those who are on the fence. If you go to a site like that already convinced you're right and the other view is wrong then it's likely you aren't going to get any good use out of it. But there are a lot of people who are sick of marketing, filtered biased views, Facebook feeds etc. being the source of their opinions getting formed, so something balanced like this tool can help them clearly see both sides and develop an informed opinion. There are tons of things I know that I don't know, but that Googling or asking friends often can't lead me to the best answer. In that way, it can be a great tool to solve a problem.
Jordan Krueger@jordankrueger · Organizer, activist, community builder.
@irishpolyglot "If you go to a site like that already convinced you're right and the other view is wrong then it's likely you aren't going to get any good use out of it." So you're saying that people should be open minded about the ideas that climate change is a hoax, that the Sandy Hook massacre was a "false flag," or that Obama was born in Kenya? Are those ideas I should be "open minded" about?
Benny Lewis@irishpolyglot · Founder of Fluent in 3 Months
@jordankrueger Anyone is free to be open-minded about such things *the very first time they hear them*. So I'm saying that people have a right to initially be open-minded when they hear something for the first time. I don't know why you think that from here, I'm suggesting that YOU should be open-minded about these things. That's very far from what I'm saying. What I think we can agree on, is that sticking to said claims despite evidence or reasonable (ideally brief) discussion is where the problem lies, not the fact that free society allows people to discuss all ideas. Once they see arguments or evidence, if they are TRULY open-minded then they are being open to both sides, and will see that the right arguments far outweigh the wrong ones, so it's time to form a conclusion. That's what open-mindedness means, not that silly beliefs deserve the same amount of respect as non-silly ones. The problem is that we don't generally have good platforms to do this, and instead they hear echo chambers that take impartial mild thoughts and turn them into solid almost invincible opinions. In a more open system, people could propose as many silly ideas as they like and they'd be shot down and lose momentum immediately. The only loss would be that it could be time-consuming to have to address something so obviously wrong - which is a small price to pay to have no large groups forming around bad ideas. Instead of that, we have silly ideas in systems that actually help them grow. And they end up growing beyond the point where reasonable discussion can make dents as easily, which is why I agree with you about systems like this not working well specifically for people who are already steadfast in their beliefs. But it will work with someone who isn't sure and wants to investigate a claim. Even if the premise of a given argument is stupid, sometimes we start with stupid ideas and need to hear why don't work. Until we go through this process, we can never learn. It doesn't mean that your examples have equal relevance to other debates, especially since they've already been debunked beyond reasonable doubt, but it does mean that "climate change is a hoax" is a suggestion, and if someone with no opinion on the matter hears it, he/she can either find good ways to investigate if it's true, or can listen to echo chambers, advertisements, politicians with an agenda, and other biased poorly uninformed sources. Taking this to an illogical extreme that you should be open-minded about things you've already formed strong opinions on, ignores the point I'm making. If we strengthen good ways to address something, then we kill bad ideas at their source. If we don't have those good ways, as you suggest by being against a tool like this, then it's like you are suggesting that we should let things go on as they are, and try to focus on changing people's minds when they have formed solid opinions, which involves much more extreme measures. Unless you are offering a better solution? Even if you have some ideas, it seems to me that you are only seeing the end of the story; people who are wrong and convinced they are right. What about the start of the story? Yes, there are people who are open-minded and have other reasons to fight for wrong ideas, because it influences them and that ties in with their narrative. So a reasonable debate won't work easily on them either. But the majority of people who rally for something don't have a stake in it, and were simply convinced of it when they could have heard arguments either way. This is a globally relevant point - taking extreme examples to prove laughing people away when their views clash with yours, doesn't address what I said about people who are on the fence. For any one of your examples, if someone /did/ want to hear two sides before forming an opinion, then I guess it's "unfortunate" that they are open to views that clash with mine, but it's still fortunate that they are willing to be open to seeing why that premise may not hold water. Ridiculing them for thinking such silly things will only backfire. I've had many silly ideas in my lifetime and whenever someone discussed them with me reasonably, or I saw unbiased evidence to the contrary, then I got over them. I'm sure there are beliefs I have that aren't valid, but if they are a deeper part of my personality, then a debate platform won't free me of them. It doesn't mean it's not good for tackling so many other issues.
Karim Maassen@karimmaassen · Founder / CEO
This is the best thing I've seen on Product Hunt so far. Are you planning on (API) integration with other platforms? I could definitely see potential in a symbiosis of some kind with my start-up.
Rick Terrill@rickdt · Developer at Big Swing
Really nice UX in this app!
Pau Todó@megaperl ·
I know, I'm late: I've just discovered the platform. Now I can't stop blaming myself for not having created something like this before. Honestly; this is one of the best value propositions I've seen in this business for many-many years. The UX is impeccable (although we could discuss the general logic of the tree-visualization, divided in a simple binary system where it's hard to agree which claims belong to what color), the navigation is a bit hard to get and memorize at first glance, yet you get the idea quite intuitively. But, what's most important, it works! I browsed like 12 different discussions so far and (can you believe that?) I couldn't find a single troll! No Hitler comparisons, no gratuitous insults. Just people reasoning in 500 characters (good idea). I've read a review somewhere missing the use of visual media. Why? To transform reasoned debate into meme-wars? We have Facebook for that! Bravo, guys. Really. 10 points. I'm jealous!