The #1 priority of the Open Debate Questions platform is to have candidates answer questions about the important issues that affect voters' everyday lives. The participation guidelines and platform moderators are in place to create a safe, welcoming environment for all users, to make sure your question is eligible to be asked on TV and livestreams, and to protect the integrity of the voting process. The guidelines that help us accomplish that are as follows:
We reserve the right to remove questions that violate these terms, and to remove and reverse suspicious or fraudulent voting activity. All linked content will be reviewed to make sure it adheres to these criteria and is relevant to the question before being published.
In addition, we reserve the right to re-categorize submissions to better align with the overall organization of the site, and to modify, moderate, or combine ideas to maintain the integrity of the voting process and the quality of user experience. This includes the right to remove submissions that are duplicates.
We define a duplicate as any question that shares the same or very similar intent as a previously submitted question. The point of the question platform is to measure the true support for unique questions. Having multiple submissions of a single question dilutes the votes and advocacy for it. Hundreds -- and sometimes thousands -- of new questions are submitted each day, and a great deal of them bear close similarity to existing questions on the site. For similar questions, we aim to herd together questions that would ultimately reveal the same distinctions between candidates or understanding of a single candidate’s position on an issue.
Example of questions considered to be duplicates:
(A) “What steps would you take toward ensuring that college students don’t enter the workforce saddled with debt? I have over $50K in loans and can't afford to buy a house or start the small business I was planning for.”
(B) “How would you reduce students’ post-college debt-load?”
In that case the intent of the question is the same, but the wording and the supporting text are different. Questions that provide personal stories or connection to the question will be given preference.
Example of questions NOT considered to be duplicates:
(A) “If elected president, will you pardon Edward Snowden?”
(B) “Do you consider Edward Snowden a hero or a traitor?”
While both of these questions are about Edward Snowden and appear very similar, they are asking a different question. Questions that are related but have a different focus -- even just a slightly different focus -- should be allowed to stand on their own.
We have implemented several measures to ensure the transparency and fairness of all changes.
First, moderation is a community effort. Users may flag questions for violations of the Participation Guidelines and suggest merges between similar questions.
Second, a team of well-respected experts from a diverse range of organizations and websites is available to weigh in on questions of policy when the similarity between questions is ambiguous.
Third, authors will be notified of all changes made to their submissions and given the chance to clarify their intent or request a reversal.
Beyond the hard-and-fast rules listed above, these tips will help you win more votes, increase your question’s chance of being selected for the live event, and get the answers you’re looking for from candidates.