Debatewise launches public beta of dated model

Next Story

CrunchArcade: THQ Wireless gets you inside the Playboy Mansion Grotto

Debatewise, a UK-based startup for decision-making around any issue, has gone into public beta. They are aiming to be the “Wikipedia for debate”. This former entrant in September’s Seedcamp competition puts the for and against arguments alongside each-other in a vertical column and plans to sell the resulting debates as market research to consumer trends companies and targeted advertising. Start a debate about Mercedes Vs BMWs and I guess one of the two brands could appear in the ad slot.

David Crane, founder and CEO of Debatewise says people are no longer trust neutrality and look for opposing points of view to make up their mind. To drum up interest in creating a debate and make sure tumbleweeds don’t blow through the site Debatewise is launching with a competition to win a MacBook Air, iPhone, iPod Touch and iPod.

I like Debatewise’s interface. But unfortunately I feel their business model is rapidly running out of road, to put it mildly. The ‘conversation’ about any subject is now so massively distributed across blogs, Twitter, social networks, status updates, old fashioned forums, email lists, you name it, that trying to create a single portal which tries to manually draw in people to debate something feels more like a Web 1.0 model than anything else. The startups seriously addressing this space are not creating portals but things like an API to aggregate blog feeds and commenting, Favorit being a case in point. Debatewise would be better off trying to go for ‘the Digg of decisions’ or similar maybe – a social bookmarking engine for controversy? Who knows, but I’m pretty sure it’s not this portal model. I’m hoping the affable Crane will take this on board and re-engineer the site accordingly.

  • David Crane

    I’ll come to the business model in a minute. But I think we need a place like Debatewise for the very reason that conversations are so distributed. It’s like saying there’s no need for Wikipedia because you can find all the same facts on a variety of other sites. Somewhere.

    I think it also indicates I haven’t been clear enough about what we’ve set out to do. We’re not trying to create just another place for debaters to go. We’re trying to create one place where people who want to make up their mind can come. The most important people in any debate are the audience, anything else is preaching to the choir. And I don’t think there is a site out there which really caters to the needs of the audience of a debate.

    The idea being that cater to the audience and you get people who want to convince them. Clearly this is a chicken and egg situation. People will be unlikely to contribute their knowledge until there’s an audience to convince. And there wont be an audience until there’s debates to read. Hence the competition.

    As for the business model, it’s not quite accurate to say we will sell the resulting debates as market research. Our original plan was to aggregate voting behaviour to determine patterns. However, it may well be that even more valuable will be the information gained from changes in voting behaviour after small changes to the phrasing of an argument.

    But who knows. The thing we’re trying to do is create a site that people love. I’m sorry that you don’t. Yet, that is. I’m still hopeful the affable me can win you round.

  • PR pro

    You can just tell when a start-up needs to offer Apple goods for users to join and register that some points need rethinking.

    Speaking about Seedcamp ? What happened to it ? It all went awfully QUIET.

  • jblondon

    @PR pro – seedcamp is annual.

  • Luke Eales

    I stumbled across this site about a year ago, and one criticism I had then that remains today is the design – it is quite dated, and uninspiring. I do believe the concept is worthwhile, and think that by reading more debates on this site, guests will certainly be lured into throwing in their 2 cents. I think that a redesign is in order, with better colours and a more exciting, engaging undertone.

    How about linking current news stories (a la Digg) into your debates, to give the discussions some currency and encourage webmasters to start debates around their news? This will certainly get people talking. Also, I would suggest raising the visibility of individual members – I found it very hard to spot who instigated certain points. This site has the possibility to be the Yahoo! Answers for opinions, rather than facts, if engineered correctly.

    Rebrand, get some solid discussions/debates chalked up, and I’m confident DebateWise can evolve into a destination for sharing of opinions.

blog comments powered by Disqus