Brian Marick posts this note he wrote asking for friendliness and civility in a mailing list debate.
I’m with Brian.
Debate is an argument between opposing points of views. Debaters support their own position and focus on weaknesses in the other position. People in debate seek to prove their point and disprove the others point. Debate favors those with the best debating skills, not necessarily those with the best ideas. Some one wins and some one loses.
Dialogue is an exchange of views and supports people thinking together. People in dialogue seek to understand the others point of view, and are open to learning from it. Dialogue allows additional options to emerge. People in dialogue may not walk away agreeing with the other person, but they know more about the other person, and understand more about why they believe the way they do.
In the long run, dialogue is more likely to shift opinion than debate.