Time Suckers

Assuage Your Internet Rage with Online Debating Game DeBunky

New startup DeBunky lets you debate strangers in real time.
 Assuage Your Internet Rage with Online Debating Game DeBunky

Mr. Batra

If you’ve never heard of New York-based site DeBunky, we won’t hold it against you. The online game is the brainchild of NYU grad Rick Batra and IP lawyer Deepal Chadha, who stealthily launched DeBunky last week. The site has been attempting to quietly build a user base among the founders’s friends and acquaintances before going public.

DeBunky works like this: Enter your own topic or choose from the list of trending topics (“sexting” or “George Zimmerman,” perhaps?), choose a position (pro or con) and click “Match.” DeBunky will hook you up with a fellow debater so that you can relive your high school debating days, Internet style. Many debates also include a judge, who acts like a referee and keeps the debaters in line, eventually choosing a winner.

When we brought up the fact that DeBunky is the perfect tool for alleviating some of your Internet anger, Mr. Batra, who left the software finance sector to work on DeBunky, laughed. “Yeah, that was kind of our thinking at first, too,” he agreed.

“We’d seen that a lot of the arguments and debates that go on online are in the comment section of blogs. Most of these end up turning into flame wars and people expounding on their own intellectual tangents and it’s not a conducive structure for them,” Mr. Batra told us by phone. “So we thought the best forum would be a place to debate with other people who are also passionate about these issues. We also wanted to make it live so it could become a spectator sport [or] a game.”

But isn’t that sort of like Omegle, we asked? “It is a little like Omegle, but it has set topics and the ability to search for others who are willing to talk about the same thing you are,” said Mr. Batra. “And then, of course, our site’s algorithm can make it so that we rank people according to their strengths.”

Mr. Batra hopes that a user’s DeBunky score will eventually become a badge of pride, much like a Klout score.

Of course, any fledgling site has its problems: Mr. Batra said that some users, a few of whom were his friends, flooded the debates with inappropriate language, which prompted the DeBunky team to delete those discussions.

“We do realize that the site could evolve into people just flinging stuff back and forth, but at this point we don’t want to highlight that,” he admitted. “This is the beta launch and we’re just starting to get interest from other parties, so of course once it has a user base we would not [delete topics].”

Mr. Batra has big plans for DeBunky’s future, including potential sponsored topics for advertisers and debates that use video chat. But for now, DeBunky is very much in its beta phase, waiting for you to toss your anger into the never-ending well of the Internet.

Follow Jessica Roy on Twitter or via RSS. jroy@observer.com

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