Members of high school and college debate teams and ordinary citizens alike have a remarkable new tool for research and honing their rhetorical skills. Debatepedia, a brand new project of the International Debate and Education Association, is a wiki for civil debate and reason.

The idea is that users are able to present the pros and cons of arguments made by scholars, experts, politicians, think tanks and interest and activist groups and other opinion leaders. The views of opinion leaders are usually documentable facts, and Debatepedia allows its users to arrive at a consensus in how those facts are framed. In the process, the site lets its users to present all the info necessary for a debate team member or an average citizen to craft their own position in a rational way with footnotes.

The issues the site deals with are international, as well as domestic and even local. But over the next year?s run up to the presidential and congressional elections, there will be a special focus on 50 essential debates centering on important issues in the 2008 elections. Dave Weinberger calls it a noble idea, and I would agree.

Debatepedia founder and chief editor, Brooks Lindsay, included the Sunlight Foundation in some discussions of the project while it was being developed, and we?re appreciative to have been included. Check it out.