The separation of issue/position/argument pages is advisable in any situation where discourse about what "should" be is likely to dominate and prevent any agreement on what "is" or "was" true.
issues are areas that attract discussion
Example: Hurricane Katrina issue
positions say how issues should be interpreted or what actions should be taken
A position:is about what "should" be, and arguments about what should be, or how events should be interpreted, should be separated into a page about that position, only. This allows neutral point of view statements of issues or evidence to stand without frequent interjection of positions and statements about what "should" be seen or be done, e.g. separating the position:Bush failed on terrorism from the issue of terrorism or the rhetorical term:War on Terrorism, permits alternatives like position:Bush is winning against terrorism and term:War on Terra to be proposed and achieve some kind of equal debating status. This would be impossible if promoters of one position outnumbered the others very strongly, and the result would be a lack of participation from any person willing to promote a strongly opposing view.
The extreme view of this process is the New Troll point of view in which the arguments and positions of specifically offensive newcomers are deliberately given status above and beyond that of the current contributors. This is thought by some to be a wiki best practice to encourage factions that oppose each other to participate and to make their differences explicit.
arguments organize evidence
While an issue is a neutral statement that is "above" or "meta" to a position, an argument is a statement that is "below" or "supporting" it. Any argument that backs a position, especially with evidence which can then be refuted, cited by others, or simply used to refer to more sources) should be included on the position page, ideally marked out as its own separate section. An argument or evidence that seems to back more than one position will almost always need to be at least slightly rewritten or restated. Accordingly, an argument should be a subsection within a position, not a page of its own.
Arguments rarely deserve their own pages unless they are very commonly heard and have become a topic of debate in themselves. This is the way debatepoint.com works - arguments can themselves become issues that are subject to positions. This is however not good for creating stable works of documentation. See open politics argument for more on this contrast and a survey of all structures currently used for debate in open politics fora.
Examples of arguments that might deserve their own pages are:
- argument:reduced crime is a sign of the usefulness of abortion or
- argument:American preference for SUVs is a sign of paranoia
Note that arguments are not positions: arguments do not say what should be. Arguments organize evidence. Generally arguments can simply cite external evidence without any need to give it any examination or status of its own.
A deeper issue/position/argument/evidence/source/authority structure is used only where the consequences of accepting bad evidence are very grave, e.g. in a criminal court or major civil court proceeding.
For example the original materials regarding the correlations of crime rates and abortion rates, or the FOIA materials received by the ACLU regarding Guantanamo Bay are evidence, and when they are used in a legal case or political argument they should have parallel evidence pages to examine the validity of the source.
examine evidence on its own pages citing source and authority behind them
If there is any debate whatsoever about the validity of the evidence, split it out from the argument:
Since the underlying evidence:is is much more objective, it should often be in its own page, with links to its source, e.g. publisher, and the authority by which that source is known to have made that statement, e.g. a credible publisher states that a source they believe is in a position to know inside the US government claims that the event occurred. So Deep Throat, a cover name for a US government worker cited by the Washington Post, was only known to exist due to the claim to authority of the Post publisher and the reporters that worked for it. The Post was both the source and the authority - until such time as the source - the real name of Deep Throat - was revealed.
See TIPAESA for a description of this form.
Finally when there is a deadline or time horizon by which a decision will be made or debate will be complete, that time horizon is part of the structure and actually frames the issue.
An example is the use of the issue/position/argument structure for meeting agendas: the end time of the meeting is when the issues will be settled, or deferred to another time horizon. Assuming they will be settled, the issue should be framed in such a way as to enable decision by that time, and the positions should be on actions that can be agreed on in that time, and any arguments about the desirability of positions should be under each position.
See TIPA for a description of this form.
While the IPA structure itself is in the public domain, some associated standards and protocols are maintained by the Efficient Civics Guild for purposes of spreading open politics. Most defining documents are under CC-by-nc-sa but some excerpts are releasable under GFDL, including this one above. Feel free to improve it as you see fit.