Writing Good Claims

For many new Kialo users, it’s easy to think of a claim like a comment on a more traditional platform – a space to express the entirety of their views on a particular discussion. While one could certainly use Kialo for that, it won’t let you take full advantage of the benefits the structure offers.

Rather, it’s better to think of claims like premises or links – individual sub-points of arguments, rather than the entire argument, including examples and analogies, in one go. This approach has several benefits that are not otherwise available:

  • It lets you reuse claims through linking (see: Moving/Linking a Claim). Rather than needing to write and rewrite the same content over and over again, you can reuse entire branches when they’re relevant in multiple locations – not just saving time, but also letting you and other users see how arguments interact with each other.
  • It lets you target particular parts of an argument for supporting ideas, or counter-arguments. When all of your thoughts on a topic are packed into one claim, you’ll quickly find the next level down becomes unwieldy, as you and other users try to support and respond to every part of the claim.
  • It lets you and other participants focus in on the parts of the discussion you’re most interested in – or able to contribute to.

All of this means that sometimes you’ll come to a discussion and find your opinion has already been expressed – but there are still plenty of other ways you can show support for those arguments that you find personally persuasive. You can add supporting claims to back them up, or respond to others’ cons; you can vote on the impact of those claims to express your opinion (see: What is Voting?).

If you find an argument or idea that hasn’t been expressed or fully fleshed out, then it’s time to add some claims of your own! Some things will make your claim more effective than it would otherwise be:

Make one point at a time.

As above, this is a really key aspect of Kialo! If you make multiple points in one claim, you risk creating confusion and obscuring parts of your arguments. Examples are often better placed as their own pro claims beneath a claim, rather than integrated into it.

Keep claims short, simple and to the point.

Avoid introductory statements, restatements, and, in most cases “hedging language”. These are common ways that we communicate when talking out loud or writing a long-form piece – and absolutely have their uses – but are ill-suited to the bite-sized structure of a Kialo discussion.

Keep claims directly relevant to their parent.

If a claim doesn’t fit anywhere in the discussion yet, there are probably some other claims you’ll need to create first! Claims should directly support or weaken their parent claims.

Use research, evidence and facts to support your claims.

You can link directly to external sources when they back up the points you’re making (see: Adding a Link). Claims generally shouldn’t be speculative, but when they are:

Use logic to support your claims.

Just throwing an idea out there is rarely persuasive! Even if you’re dealing in an area where there’s a lack of research and evidence available, you can still explain the logical links that lead you to draw the conclusions you’re drawing. Meanwhile, keep an eye out for logical fallacies.

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