Discussion structure

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How to read discussions

Statements: Statements about a topic.

Resolution: Outcome of the discussion.

(Resolved, i.e., the resolution has been updated to the main page.)


1 : This argument attacks the statement. Arguments always point to one level up in the hierarchy. --Jouni 17:48, 8 January 2010 (UTC)

2 : This argument defends argument #1. --Jouni 17:48, 8 January 2010 (UTC)
3 This is an invalid defence of #1 because it is successfully attacked by argument #4. --Jouni 17:48, 8 January 2010 (UTC)
4 : This is a valid attack of #3, because it is itself not successfully attacked. --Jouni 17:48, 8 January 2010 (UTC)
5: This is a branch. The argument one level higher (#4 in this case) defends this argument, but this argument points to a new statement, not the original one of this discussion. --Jouni 11:27, 10 January 2010 (UTC)


Research question about the structure of a discussion
What is a structure for a discussion about an attribute such that it
  • is applicable to any discussion about any attribute in an assessment,
  • can be applied both a priori (to structure a discussion to be held) and a posteriori (to restructure a discussion already held),
  • complies with the pragma-dialectics.


The structure of the discussion follows the principles of the pragma-dialectics.[1]R↻


The discussion has three, sometimes four parts: statements, argumentation, resolution, and sometimes nuggets. These are briefly described below using a discussion template. Argumentation consists of defending and attacking arguments and comments.

For discussing, the discussion structure should be used. Click the blue capital D in the toolbar on top of the edit window to apply the discussion template. This is how the discussion format appears:

How to read discussions

Statements: The explication of a dispute. It consists of two or more conflicting statements, each of which is promoted by a discussant. There is always an implicit statement that none of the explicit statements are true. Therefore, it is enough to explicate one statement.

Resolution: The resolution is the outcome of the discussion. A full resolution is found when only one of the original statements remains valid. Partial resolutions are situations where there are still several conflicting but valid statements. The contents of a resolution are transferred to the actual contents of the attribute; after this, the discussion is called resolved. It should be noted that resolutions are always temporary, as even fully resolved discussions can be opened again with new arguments.

(Resolved, i.e., the resolution has been updated to the main page.)

--1 : The argumentation contains the actual discussion and is organised as hierarchical threads of arguments. Each argument is either an attack against or a defence for a argument (called target). The original statement can also be used as the target argument. As arguments always point to another argument, they form a hierarchical thread structure. It is also possible to use coordinative arguments where two or more arguments together act like one argument. Each argument is valid unless it has no proponents (a discussant promoting the argument) or it is attacked by a valid argument. In addition to attacks and defences, also comments can be used for asking or offering clarification; comments do not affect the validity of the target argument. For example, this paragraph is a comment. --Jouni 23:57, 2 January 2010 (UTC)
2: If you agree with the argument one level higher (the original statement in this case), you should use this defending argument template. --Jouni 23:57, 2 January 2010 (UTC)
3: If you disagree with the argument one level higher (the original statement in this case), you should use this attacking argument template. --Jouni 23:57, 2 January 2010 (UTC)
4 This argument is invalid because it is attacked by a valid argument (#5). If you want to make it valid again, you should successfully invalidate all the attacking arguments. --Jouni 23:57, 2 January 2010 (UTC)
5 : This is the argument that attacks argument #4. The numbering does not have any specific order or meaning, they are just used for specifying arguments. It is easiest to use the first free whole number for a new argument, and use that as a reference when needed. --Jouni 23:57, 2 January 2010 (UTC)

Nuggets are mainly used in a posteriori discussions. Nuggets are freely structured text containing the original discussion, from which the actual argumentation is then restructured. A nugget cannot be changed afterwards, and in this respect it is a different kind of contribution than all other parts in open assessment.

Ongoing and resolved discussions

On the main page, you should make links at the relevant points to the respective discussions. There are two possibilities:

  • D↷ Link to an ongoing discussion.
  • R↻ Link to a resolved discussion.

Because all discussions can be re-opened, the difference between ongoing and resolved is not whether people are likely to participate in the discussion in the future or not. Instead, a resolved discussion (R↻ ) means that the current outcome of the discussion, whether a full or partial resolution, or not yet a resolution at all, has been transferred to the main page, i.e. the contents of the main page reflect the current status of the discussion. In contrast, an ongoing discussion (D↷) means that in the discussion itself, there is some information that is not yet reflected on the main page; therefore, the reader should read the discussion as well to be fully aware of the status of the page. This way, there is not a need to constantly update the main page during an active discussion. The updating can be done when the outcome of the discussion has stabilised.


  • If you agree with an argument made by others, you can place your signature (click the signature button in the toolbar) after that argument.
  • Arguments may be edited or restructured. However, if there are signatures of other people, only minor edits are allowed without their explicit acceptance.

In order to contribute to a discussion you need to have a user account and be logged in.

Organising discussions afterwards (a posteriori)

How to make a fast edit for long discussion chain:

  1. Create the page with same topic as discussion to Opasnet
  2. Copy and paste discussion from the original page and save it to Opasnet
  3. Attach link of original discussion source/page, save the page and make a permanent link of this Opasnet page.
  4. Attach permanent link to a new version of page.
  5. Remove all text that is irrelevant of page topic (names, times, extra attachments etc.).
  6. Classify statements with suitable categories (e.g. statements can be listed with stars).
  7. Remove all overlapped statements.
  8. Move classified statements to the Opasnet page with the same topic (e.g assessment or variable page with same topic). Substitute removed statements with the link of the new place of statements.

See example of the edited discussion in Discussion of health effects of PM2.5 in Finland(in Finnish)

See also


  1. Eemeren, F.H. van, & Grootendorst, R. (2004). A systematic theory of argumentation: The pragma-dialectical approach. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.