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Is there a safe way to have forum debates on hot/controversial topics? Or, do debates always lead to trolling?
Increasing the ban hammer frequency leads to the safest way of avoiding controversial topics
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I would not say that they do but quite a bit of the time they do.
Maybe you could confine all debates to a special subforum where only long time (and trust worthy) members of your community could participate.
Add extra moderators to your Debate section to ensure the conversation and debates do not get out of hand and lead to troll wars.
I don't think that a debate can lead to trolling. Maybe it can cause a flaming war when the debate is particpated by factions. But usually, a debate is a good reason to join a discussion because most of the debate threads that I had seen have intellectual comments. And if there is trolling, I guess it is more of the troll than the topic.