Young people feel they lack a free space for discussion on the internet where their opinions are not belittled, or discussion stopped through insults, trolling, or bullying. The organisation Centar za Kulturu Dijaloga (CCD) provides Bosnian youth with a platform where they can debate freely about all sorts of issues and express their opinion and learn to understand other people's opinions: Debatologija.
CCD posts a few topics per week that members can debate on. A jury panel selects the best debaters of the week and month and recognises them on the site with an interview. A site moderator ensures that the debate is lively, but follows the rules of debate: people need to develop arguments, engage with each other's ideas and not denigrate the other side. This ensures that the Debatologija helps participants, who are mostly students, to develop their argumentation skills, and their understanding of the topics they debate.
Topics vary wildly, but are created to attract young people to the site and connect them with the ways in which policies and politics impact on their daily lives. Thus, the July topics covered sports bans, internet espionage, the position of interns, Croatia's external policy towards its neighbours after EU accession. Other topics acros the year covered Greek-Macedonian relations, political extremists, quotas for female workers in the EU, private versus public university education and the position of the UK in the EU.
The most important lessons that CCD has observed from the debates is the way young people stimulate each other to develop the strongest arguments they can and to provide reliable sources for their arguments, thereby increasing everyone's knowledge. On top of that, they have learned that debates exist even when differences of opinion are not diametrically opposed, but that there are more nuanced ways of disagreeing. Overall, participation numbers in Debatologija have increased: from 989 hits and 35 posts in September, to 1324 hits and 43 posts in October, to 1711 hits and 62 posts in November and a strong 2500 hits and 100 posts in December.
The Debatologija debates of July to December were part of the project idebateEU. This is a cooperation project of IDEA Amsterdam, IDEA London and ten IDEA members from all across Europe. The project aims to improve cooperation between IDEA and its members and between members, sharing debate methodologies and organisational knowledge in the framework of common activities on European topics. The project is made possible with support of the Europe for Citizens Programme of the European Commission.