Open Debates Strategy Information

Open Debates Strategy

This document aims to teach and clarify how users interact with the ELO system in the Open Debates Discord server.

Agreeing on Propositions

The ELO system in Open Debates relies on audience votes, making it integral for the motion to be easily understood and reflective of the debaters’ willingness. Propositions should be clear, concise, plausible and reflect the stances the debaters are willing to take - a lack of this may result in:

  • Debating a stance you do not actually disagree with, needlessly risking your ELO

  • Losing a debate due to unfair phrasing

  • Voters joining at a later time voting based on their personal interpretation of the motion as opposed to what is being debated

  • The motion not being precise enough, making it too broad to discuss

  • Potential debaters and voters not contributing due to finding the motion confusing

To avoid said scenarios and eliminate potential confusion, we recommend that propositions meet the following criteria:

  • Be a statement as opposed to a question

  • Be in the form of an argument to avoid ambiguity

  • Be agreed upon by all debating parties prior to being set

Taking Positions

Both debaters and non-debaters need to set their stance upon entering a debate. When taking positions, use the commands $for, $against, $debate or simply $df (debate for) or $da (debate against). Take particular care in taking the right stance, as your stance cannot be reversed once set.

If a debater takes the wrong side, it is important that the debate does not proceed, and do not enter debates where your opposition has taken the wrong stance. If a false stance is taken, the topic can be reset; this is done either by voting for someone else’s or setting a new topic yourself ($topic). To avoid accidentally taking the wrong stance, make sure to set a topic that follows the aforementioned guidelines and double check your commands before sending them in the chat.

Becoming a Debater

Prior to debating, consider the following factors:

  • Am I convinced that I can persuade others of my position

  • Do I have enough points to entertain a fulfilling debate

  • Am I ready to debate, or limited due to external factors such as prior commitments or bad connection

We heavily suggest debating, as this is the integral focus of the system. However, we also want to incentivise the best arguments being pitted against each other, and it likely is not in your best interest to risk ELO over weak arguments or a small number of points. This has the effect of keeping the number of active debaters to a minimum, making the debate less cluttered and of overall higher quality.

Another factor to consider is that when joining an already active debate, you may not be granted all the necessary time to fully argue your points. Ultimately, the act of becoming a debater should be evaluated to ensure you are in the right situation for risking your ELO.


When you believe a debate has ended and decide to vote, consider these factors in prioritised order:

  1. Who, at the end of the debate, do you agree with
  2. Who was better stylistically

The system is based on you voting for the individual which you perceived as best, so the second factor may be useful as a tiebreaker if two or more individuals are arguing for the same side of the motion. Also keep these points in mind when debating - present your arguments in style!


Your vote is more heavily weighted the longer you were listening for, and it is important to set your stance ($for, $against) as soon as possible for the bot to register this. Set your stance as soon as you enter an active debate, even as a non-debater, or your vote will be less significant at the end of the debate.

Votes can also be changed multiple times throughout a debate, so remember that if you are convinced by another party after voting, you are still able to change your vote


A voter’s stance determines how heavily their vote is weighed, and is more powerful if voting for a stance they did not initially agree with.

This should not influence how you set your stances, as the system assumes you are honest about your stance. This does not apply to debaters, as they are allowed to argue devil’s advocate positions (stances they do not personally agree with). However, refrain from voting for someone that has not actually convinced you, as that would go directly against the entire system’s purpose.


A debate concludes when half of the stance takers vote to conclude ($conclude). This grants a lot of power to the audience, and it is important to use this power responsibly. Votes to conclude cannot be undone, so only cast them when you think the debate should end.

Upon concluding, everyone present in the voice chat will be muted as the bot calculates the ELO changes. Once this is done the debate is officially over and everyone will be unmuted, allowing discussion and a new topic to be set.