Daily Kos would be a very different place.
The differences between debate and discussion are many and varied. Daily Kos is primarily a platform for discussion rather than debate, and I'm very glad that it is.
It has been suggested http://www.dailykos.com/... that diaries, and comments in response to them should be seen primarily in terms of debate and its accompanying protocol.
That would mean, I would think, that the diarist states a proposition to be debated, and then proceeds to lay out their assumptions and conclusions, along with any references they feel might be pertinent, and sits back to wait for a counter proposition to be presented. Any commenter is thus seen either as an opponent or proponent of the debate, and all comments are to be judged by their specific relevance to the original proposition.
Three, and only three, outcomes are available in this paradigm:
you convince your opponent; your opponent convinces you; you agree to disagree.
One of the interesting effects of this assumption is that the diarist is not, in fact, obliged to defend his original assumption; rather, a commenter who proposes a counter proposition is obliged to provide evidence of their own in order to establish them as a legitimate debater. Questioning the assumptions or logic or conclusions of the original diary is then automatically outside the bounds of serious debate, and any commenter who does so can legitimately be called a "bad faith" debater, or otherwise harshly treated as distracting from the smooth flow of the debate.
Within this paradigm, it becomes impossible for an accusation of Conspiracy Theorist to be made. The diarist is merely setting out one side of a potential debate, and all statements within the diary should be taken in the context of the debate point. The fact that CT is by definition not refutable by real data becomes irrelevant because it is incumbent on an opponent to present a better case for the opposition case, rather than on the proponent to justify the proposition. Truth is not a necessary factor in a debate, only the ability to make your points within the specified structure.
Debates are not, at base, intended to produce anything except a decision as to which side had the better debater. Certainly not truth, usually not development of knowledge, seldom any lessening of rancor around a subject. They're equivalent to a tennis match with well trained referees standing on the sidelines judging points, with a win/lose/tie outcome.
There is nothing in the TOS at Daily Kos that says a diary cannot be constructed to set up a formal debate scenario. I can see no reason why there should be. But if that is indeed the intention of any given diary, then formal notice should be given at the top of the diary, along with a formal statement of the subject of the debate, and the names of the referees.
If that is not done, then questions as to the validity of the premises, logic, and conclusions of the diary are legitimate, errors in referencing and interpreting sources can and should be pointed out, previous conclusions by the diarist are fair game unless the discrepancy can be adequately explained, and the presumption of "bad faith" - i.e., breaking the "rules" of the debate - should never come up.
For myself, I read diaries to learn about the subjects contained therein, not to learn about how to be a better debater. The vast majority of the diaries on Daily Kos support that desire on my part. It is only today that I've realized that a few diaries, which are written very much in the same manner as the majority, are in fact not intended to begin conversations with the users here, but to provide their author with a platform upon which debate points can be scored without the incumbrance of a referee.
From that viewpoint, I can accept that all the insults, direct or insinuated, that have been leveled at me were legitimate. I certainly was not adhering to the formal rules of debate, and thus I was a disruption to what the diarist considered should have been the serene flow of point and counterpoint.
Of course, from that viewpoint I also must conclude that the hypotheses and conclusions that the diarist has written about in the last six months or so have little or no reason to have anything to do with reality, and were chosen primarily to serve the diarist's penchant for debate. I congratulate him for having given me a puzzle that has taken me almost seven months to work out. And, if he wishes to continue in that mode, I look forward to seeing him state the terms of his challenges in a more formal manner in subsequent diaries. A list of potential impartial referees who are specifically trained in debating techniques, rather than simply having commenters jump in to call "foul" on a more or less random basis, would also be useful. (Along with the admission that having the original debater calling those fouls is certainly not a part of the rules of debate.)