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IPA

An issue position argument or IPA is a framework for discussion first proposed in the 1980s at Berkeley as the best way to represent complex discussions in hypertext. It creates a "decision tree" structure associating multiple arguments for or against positions that are taken on an issue. In a wiki, the issue, position and argument can be organized as different headling levels for convenient navigation.
The IPA method encourages or requires participants to:
  • clearly define the issue from a neutral point of view (NPOV).
  • separate the issue from the positions that each participant or faction takes on it
  • allow the development of multiple positions on an issue.
  • develop arguments in support or against each position.
Since the position (or "solution") is stated separately from the issue, those who don't want to take that position have the option of taking a different position, while agreeing on the nature of the problem. The IPA method supports consensus building by first seeking agreement on issues and terms without requiring agreement positions which can be debated on their merits. It also serves to avoid false consensus by providing for multiple positions.

IPA's can be used to settle disputes - see: IPA challenge, issue statement, position, argument. point of view



Issue


The issue is a problem or situation or dilemma or tradeoff or point of conflict - literally anything that is "at issue". It is a deliberately abstract term so that there is basically no intellectual argument that cannot be accomodated in this strucure.

Crafting the issue statement:

Summarize the issue in one or two sentences. Be objective, and avoid putting any feelings or opinions into the descrition. Then provide one or two sentences which adress the significance of the issue: why does the GPC need to have a position on this issue?

Position


When you propose a position on an issue, be sure to be clear who or what is to take that position. An organization's position on an issue may be different from a member's position. Describe what the position should be and what actions or responsibilities arise from taking that position. Stay focused on actions rather than exposition, and keep the position statement to a short paragraph. Approved positions will be added to the platform as a number of bullet points with a short explanatory statement, so feel free to craft your position statement in a way that could ultimately appear in the platform. Ensure your position is clear by expressing it in terms of "will do's" and "will not do's". Finally, once you think you are done, switch hats and develop a position which opposes you own.

Argument


Arguments are like the body of an essay, assembled and organized facts and considerations, either supporting or opposing a position. Generally speaking, the more research you do, the better your argument will be. Don't expect people to take your word for it. Provide links to supporting evidence and opinions. The argument can also elaborate on the history or terminology surrounding the issue.

alternate argument


another position

argument against


Extensions of the IPA structure have been used for wiki meetings where the time horizon takes on special status, making a "deadline issue position argument" or - more generally - a time issue position argument? structure. In some other extensions, the argument organizes evidence, sources and authority that provides it, accepts it, or argues it. Thus a complete structure is TIPAESA.


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