The purpose of Virtual Agora is to facilitate a productive dialogue among people with different views. In order for everyone to have equal opportunities to promote and defend their opinions in a public square, a new, precisely formalized debating protocol has been invented:

  1. Participation in the debates is only for registered members of the Forum. However, the Forum is public, and available for everyone to read.

  2. Participants are asked to use their real identities. In exceptional cases Forum operators may accept aliases, at the operators’ discretion.

  3. When signing up for the Forum, each participant receives a credit of W$1,000 (one thousand Wisdom Dollars). Every post on the forum requires an investment of some Wisdom Dollars.

  4. A statement-opening debate on a given issue is called a challenge, and it needs to be phrased in the form of a thesis that can be proven true or false. A user opening the challenge needs to invest a minimum of W$11 and a maximum of W$100 based on a conviction that the challenge will be resolved as true. The challenge is presented for debate for a limited time, typically one week.

  5. The debate on a challenge starts as soon as a moderator is assigned. In the beginning, Forum operators will be assigning moderators. Eventually, active Forum members will serve as moderators. Besides overseeing the debate, the main role of a moderator is to make a one-person decision as to whether the challenge should be resolved as true or false. The decision should be made based only on the arguments presented in the Forum, not based on the knowledge available to the moderator outside the Forum.

  6. Every comment posted in support of a challenge or in opposition to it requires an investment of a minimum of W$2 and a maximum of W$10. A user can post multiple comments.

  7. Users can express support for, or opposition to, the challenge or to any other post, without posting a comment, by clicking one of two buttons: “W$1 AGREE” or “W$1 DISAGREE.” This will constitute an investment of W$1.00 for or against the corresponding statement.

  8. A Forum member assigned as a moderator for a given challenge can make comments, request explanation, and ask questions but is not allowed to “invest” any of his or her Wisdom Dollars in that particular challenge.

  9. After the challenge is resolved by the moderator, the Forum member who initially presented challenge earns or loses the amount of Wisdom Dollars invested in the challenge. For example: A new user with a W$1000 balance places a challenge and invests W$60 in it. If the challenge is resolved as true, this user earns W$60 and ends up having W$1060. If the challenge is resolved as false, this user loses W$60 and ends up having only W$940.

  10. After the resolution of a challenge, every participant who responded to this challenge earns or loses his or her investment in this challenge. For example, a user who posted a comment supporting the challenge and invested W$5 in that comment earns W$5 if the challenge is found true, and loses W$5 if the challenge is found false.

  11. Members of the Forum placing a challenge are encouraged to form the challenge in a way that the outcome could be determined by finding facts and solid scientific deduction supporting it.

  12. A member of the Forum who is not satisfied with the resolution of his or her challenge is encouraged to rephrase the challenge and post it again. Similarly, members of the Forum are encouraged to re-post challenges resolved previously if new data become available which may change the outcome of the challenge.

  13. Before placing a challenge, participants are encouraged to check for currently open challenges. If they intend to post a challenge that rephrases the issue of a currently open challenge, they are encouraged instead to post comments to the currently open challenge. Site administrators will postpone the opening for debate challenges that duplicate currently open challenges.

  14. Before placing a challenge, participants are encouraged to search for previously closed challenges on the same subject. By checking the arguments presented in the already closed challenge, members can plan their winning strategy for the challenge they plan to post.

  15. Forum members can place a challenge questioning the objectivity of a moderator. If such challenge is determined true, the challenged person loses his or her moderator status. Such a user can post a challenge asking for restoration of moderator status.

  16. The Hyde Park section is for general comments and conversations; investing Wisdom Dollars is not required in this section.   

Introductory provisions

  1. Ultimately, users will be able to open a debate on any topic about which they desire to have a dialogue within their community.

  2. During the trial period only a few topics will be opened for public dialogue. In this controlled environment Virtual Agora plans to build a community of people appreciating this concept. Those early adopters will become custodians of this format of conducting public debates.

  3. The current format of the Forum emerged from the conviction that a more efficient model of conducting public debates is needed. The Forum operators encourage your comments and critiques in a strong belief that the joint effort of the Virtual Agora community will bring many enhancements to the original concept.