Arbital: fixing online discussion

This page is mostly for­ward look­ing. While Ar­bital does already have a ba­sic com­ment sys­tem, all the other fea­tures are not yet im­ple­mented.

Cen­tral­iz­ing discussion

In a de­bate about a com­plex topic, there are mul­ti­ple ways to get lost. One wrong step in the rea­son­ing pro­cess of­ten leads to an in­cor­rect con­clu­sion and dis­agree­ment. The pro­cess of dis­cus­sion is most use­ful to find these dis­agree­ments and re­solve them. Read­ing a dis­cus­sion is most use­ful when the reader has a similar dis­agree­ment, and read­ing about how the dis­agree­ment was re­solved (or at least the cur­rent best ar­gu­ments) will help them change their mind. One way Ar­bital will have more use­ful dis­cus­sions is by hav­ing bet­ter tools to help the reader find the parts of the dis­cus­sion that will be most helpful to them.

Th­ese kinds of de­bates are all over the in­ter­net, and vast ma­jor­ity of them are not unique, i.e. there is a very similar ar­gu­ment el­se­where. This can be pre­vented if Ar­bital can guide each reader to the one place where the par­tic­u­lar dis­cus­sion they want to have is hap­pen­ing (or, most likely, already hap­pened). We dream of a world where ev­ery­one only needs to ar­gue once about whether Vi­tamin D3 is a bet­ter nu­tri­tional sup­ple­ment than Vi­tamin D2, and ev­ery time any­one on Earth raises a ques­tion that’s already been an­swered, they can eas­ily find the an­swer and rea­son­ing on Ar­bital.

No longer will peo­ple be able to claim to know things about un­set­tled top­ics. Just like Wikipe­dia set­tled ar­gu­ments about facts, Ar­bital will set­tle un­re­solved ques­tions.

High quality

The qual­ity of the com­mu­nity and the con­tent are the most im­por­tant things on Ar­bital. While most on­line com­mu­ni­ties usu­ally start with high stan­dards, it seems that in­evitably many of them go down­hill. Ar­bital’s an­swer to that will be karma and do­minion. Those have proven them­selves to work rea­son­ably well on Stack­Ex­change sites. How­ever, SE only gives the user three choices when it comes to eval­u­at­ing the qual­ity of an an­swer: up­vote, down­vote, or do noth­ing. Fur­ther­more, most votes are dis­pensed by the peo­ple with the low­est stan­dards for up­vot­ing, and ev­ery user’s vote counts as the same. We have con­crete plans to re­solve both of those prob­lems, which will help Ar­bital’s ex­pert users have more con­trol and in­fluence in their do­main of ex­per­tise and will re­sult in the best con­tent be­ing more visi­ble.


  • More about Arbital

    Lots more in­for­ma­tion about Ar­bital vi­sion.

    • Arbital

      Ar­bital is the place for crowd­sourced, in­tu­itive math ex­pla­na­tions.