In our time experimenting with and improving Kialo, we’ve found that some approaches to Kialo discussions work a lot better than others. These are our top tips - key things you should do or not do to make your discussions the most interesting, engaging and vibrant discussions they can be.
- Write concise claims that communicate one single point clearly - as a statement of that point, not a question or comment. Use pros and cons to elaborate or add examples, rather than trying to fit everything into one claim. This makes it easier to target pros or cons to particular parts of an argument as a whole - rather than having to constantly explain which part of a claim a pro or con is supposed to be engaging with (see: Writing Good Claims).
- Be proactive about Avoiding Duplicate Claims - discussions can get confusing fast when you have bits and pieces of the same argument all over the place! Make lots of use of the ability to copy the same claim in multiple locations - it allows you to develop one complete argument, and then use it over and over again (see Moving/Copying a Claim).
- Plan the structure of your discussion from the start - and work with other participants to do so. Generally, it’s best not to undertake a major restructuring of a discussion without involving the other participants (see: Collaborating With Other Users - Editing, Comments and Marks). In most cases, broader, more general claims should be located closer to the top level, as they have space for more detail-oriented claims to develop within them. Make sure that your claims are relevant to their parent claims and either support or weaken their relevance, plausibility or logic. If you can’t find a good location for your claim, that’s a good sign that you have more work to do to make your discussion complete (see: Structuring a Discussion)!
- Link sources as short in-text references if you cite, paraphrase or quote (see: Making Best Use of Sources). If you are quoting a source, make sure to link and use quotation marks so that other users know you are referencing someone’s work. Use precise and unbiased sources, in the language you and are participants are using in your discussion if possible. The people you are discussing with may want to read more!
- Be proactive in communicating about concerns - use marks (see: Marking a Claim for Review) and mention other participants (see: Mentioning Someone). Generally, it’s best not to make substantive edits to someone else’s claim without checking in with them (see: Collaborating With Other Users - Editing, Comments and Marks).
- Be open to constructive criticism and feedback! Someone marking your claim for review does not mean that your claim is bad, but rather that they have thoughts on how it could be improved (see: Collaborating With Other Users - Editing, Comments and Marks).
- It is usually best to get a good way into developing a discussion before starting to vote on claims (see: Using Voting). When claims are moved around, they need to be voted on again, so you can waste a lot of time if you vote too early!
When setting up your own discussions, think about who else you want as participants. Do you want to open your discussion to the world, or just to people you know? How many people do you want to involve? Do you want participants of any particular background - perhaps experts on the particular subject area? As a discussion owner, you have complete control over who else can participate, so make good use of it (see: Moderating Discussions)!