In a Nutshell
- Participate in and watch live video debates
- No direct administrator support
- A fun but small community of video debaters
Dojo Rating: Fantastic (4 ninja stars)
Qallout – pronounced Call Out – is was founded to: “Demolish echo chambers. We encourage people to be truth-seekers. Engage with naysayers and dissidents—challenge yourself to truly understand the arguments surrounding the topics you feel passionately about.”
The founders of the site observed that in text debates, people often become hostile, abusive, and generally disrespectful of others views. But when two people are face to face with one another, they show much greater empathy, understanding, and a willingness to listen to each other. So they created a system that makes it easy to have face to face debates.
Qallout also strives to create a “no-bullshit” zone. By this, they mean a place where debates are earnest and heartfelt, rather than simply arguing for the sake of winning or propaganda. This is accomplished by setting cultural norms through their resident debater’s program and by instructing their tournament judges not to reward cheap tactics in their tournaments.
What They Offer a Debater
Real-time video debate
Qallout’s primary offering is one-on-one live video debates. Once registered on the site, you can create a topic for debate, or search for others who have a topic they have proposed. If you create a topic, the site will give you a link to advertise for opponents on social media. Once accepted, the two participants can use messaging on the site to set a time for the debate. Once both parties are live on the site, and on the page for the debate, they can start the debate.
During the recording, debaters can see and hear one another in real time. Each debate has a time limit, set by the person who created the debate. 45 and 30-minute debates are the norms. The creator of the debate can choose a free-form format where both can speak at any time or a moderated format where each side can speak for up to 3 minutes before passing microphone control to the other. This moderated format also gives both speakers equal time to speak overall. Debates can end early if both debaters choose to end their arguments.
Once a debate is complete it is recorded to Youtube and becomes available on the Qallout site for others to watch. The audience of a debate and the debaters can cast a single vote for the Pro or Con, or cast an Undecided vote. Anyone can also make text or video comments on the debates.
Qallout also has community debates which are not held real time. Anyone can start a community debate by posting a topic of discussion. Participants can vote on the topic, and/or leave a text or video argument on the topic. Such debates are open-ended discussions and are largely unstructured.
Qallout has begun to focus more on their cash prize debate tournaments. These are the most frequent types of debates currently seen on the site. These are always held in the live Video format using a 30 minute moderated format. Each debater gets 15 minutes in total and may speak for no longer than 3 minutes at a stretch. Pro speaks first, then Con.
Tournament rounds are judged partly by popular vote, but also by official judges for the site. Judging criteria is focused on an impartial judgment of the strength of arguments with respect to the debate’s topic/resolution. Most of the judges are ex-scholastic debaters and are asked to focus on offering constructive criticism and critique of the round.
To date, the tournament entry has been free, but future tournaments may start to charge an entry fee, especially for the end of year championship events. Prizes are paid by electronic transfer, and as a winner of their August event, I can attest that they are paid promptly.
Debate Dojo Assessment
In full disclosure: I am a personal fan of Qallout and I have an affiliate relationship with them (something they offer their more active debaters). If you sign up for one of their tournaments through our site links – (like this one) – I get a small commission.
Qallout is still a fairly new site and some of their features are still being refined. It can be a little difficult to get started because they don’t offer a lot of instruction. That said, once you get the hang of the technology, which is not difficult. The site is very intuitive and easy to use. Jumping into a debate with another user of the site is simple. The biggest challenge tends to be coordinating a time for both participants to participate.
The community is medium sized as sites go but very active. They have a “Resident Debater” program for their most active users who also represent the values of the site mission. These debaters keep a roster of topics to for others to challenge and help introduce new users to the site. I’ve made quite a few new friends while debating on the site, as well as a few rivals. Both are a good thing. The personal nature of the debates really does tone down the hostility of argumentation. Live debates are almost always more civil than their textual counterparts.
The level of competition you will find varies. Some debaters focus on exploration and discussion while others are in it to win it. In the higher levels of the tournaments, scholastic debaters are the norm, but in early rounds, there is a wide variety of styles and levels of acumen. Debates outside the tournament are more evenly mixed, with some being done purely for amusement, and others to settle disputes on serious topics.
The video format is also great if you want to polish your public speaking acumen or practice for scholastic debate. At the moment, I am not aware of any other sites offering this kind of debating platform or service and that makes Qallout very special. That said, the format also can be limiting due to the short duration of the debates, and the need to be there live to engage. The community debates do offer an alternative, but they are not the sites primary focus.