'Experts' slug it out on issues of the day for the votes of the masses with Huffington Post's new debate feature [Updated]
12:08 pm Mar. 5, 2012
The Huffington Post is rolling out a new platform called "Great Debates"* that will stage online debates on current issues and let readers vote for a winner.
But it won't exactly be Abraham Lincoln vs. Stephen Douglas: The site is relying on willing "experts," including its army of unpaid bloggers, to debate, and on its 36.2 million users to vote. It's a drive, after all, to increase engagement more than anything else.
As it's been described to Capital, vertical editors will be responsible for recruiting debaters to contribute opposing arguments on a given subject. Readers then vote on which one made the more compelling case, and the winner is the one who changes the most people's minds with regard to their preconceived opinions on the debate topic. The whole thing gets packaged into a slick interactive graphic.
The tool had been scheduled to debut on March 1 but, as these things tend to go, launch was pushed back to this week.
And it looks like the first out of the gate is HuffPost U.K., presenting that age-old quandary: "Can stripping ever be feminist?" You can get a look at the feature there.
Debates are expected to become even more a part of the HuffPost fabric with the launch this summer of the website's online streaming video network, which will feature Skype-powered video debates between commenters. Arianna Huffington said recently that the site has been registering 5,500 new ones per day.
A Huffington Post spokesman did not immediately return a call and email for comment.
*UPDATE: Originally slated as "Great Debates," the feature is now called "Change My Mind." Huffington Post director of editorial technology Conor Whitehead-Sullivan wrote about it in a blog post Monday evening after this item ran:
At HuffPost, we believe that dissenting voices have a place in the discussion as well. So with Change My Mind, we take a more classical approach: the winners of our debates aren't the bloggers who carry the most votes, but the bloggers who swing the most users to their side.
You can read more here.
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