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This article was published on May 7, 2012

Naqeshny: A debating platform to help you make informed decisions

Naqeshny: A debating platform to help you make informed decisions
Nancy Messieh
Story by

Nancy Messieh

Lesotho-born and raised, Nancy Messieh, The Next Web's Middle East Editor, is an Egyptian writer and photographer based in Cairo, Egypt. Fol Lesotho-born and raised, Nancy Messieh, The Next Web's Middle East Editor, is an Egyptian writer and photographer based in Cairo, Egypt. Follow her on Twitter, her site or Google+ or get in touch at [email protected]

Naqeshny is a brand new social network, launched out of Egypt, which brings the art of debate into a public online arena.

Naqeshny, which literally means ‘discuss with me’, is the brainchild of Cairo-based developer and designer firm, Mash.

Offered both in English and Arabic, the site makes it easy to create one-one-debates, as well as ‘public’ debates where all Naqeshny members can duke it out over their topics of choice.

Users can create debates and wait for others to join, or can jump right into active public debates, giving their point of view, and voting on the opinion they like best.

Getting started on Naqeshny

When you first sign up for a Naqeshny account, you’ll be presented with a series of questions, most of which stem from the current political climate in Egypt.

After answering those questions, you’ll be assigned a team, with each team distinguished with the use of a colour. At first glance, the ‘teams’ don’t appear to really do much other than point out other users whose opinions are similar to yours, based on the way you answered the questions.

Explaining the concept of the colour distinctions, Mash CEO Kareem Diaa told us, “Users are also connected through their views rather than their friendships; those with a similar mindset have the same color.”

He adds: “Looking back at what happened in egypt the last period, we find that people grouped themselves into parties and instead of each person having his own opinion, he adapts to the opinion of the whole party. We decided, as Naqeshny founders, to implement our new virtual parties.”

So rather than people describing themselves according to their political affiliations, users can instead be described in terms of something as simple as a colour.

Kareem continues, “The color scheme is a way to group individuals with similar perspectives. We would like to leave it up to users to perceive, interpret, and draw their own conclusions rather than state explicitly what we think their mindset is.”

It is their hope that with time, people from different political backgrounds will in fact find themselves on the same side of the tracks when it comes to their opinions on the debating platform.

Let the debating begin

Once you’ve signed up, you can begin to participate in open public debates, or create a debate of your own. When creating a debate, you can write your question, your position, choose how many votes are needed for either argument to win (25 to infinity), designate how long the debate will last (1 to 15 days), select a category and designate a user you want to debate, with if you want.

Once the debate kicks off, arguments are featured in two columns, and in public debates, users can add their opinion, and choose which side of the debate they support. Opposing arguments are displayed in side-by-side columns.

The voting process is a little confusing since you can vote for one individual comment, but cannot vote for the original argument itself, and when adding your opinion to the argument, the vote count doesn’t change.

Voting eccentricities aside, the debating platform that Naqeshny offers is definitely interesting, and challenges the user to get their point across in 300 characters or less (although that feature has already found itself the subject of abuse, with users posting consecutive comments to get their point across).

User profiles feature all of their debating activity – comments they’ve left, debates they’ve created, how they’ve voted and more. Naqeshny also adds a little bit of gamifaction into the mix, displaying each user’s success rate.

The inspiration behind the site

Explaining the inspiration behind creating the site, Kareem told The Next Web, “The website was born as a result of the events taking place in Egypt and the rest of the world, where most citizens are preoccupied with politics and issues concerning their future.”

He adds: “Naqeshny aims to be a part of this and help individuals around the world learn how to engage in discourse and social interactions in a civilized manner. We decided to build Naqeshny which gives the user the opportunity to read, interact in a well formatted debate yet user friendly, however our main aim is to embrace our difference by understanding our thoughts.”

While Naqeshny isn’t the first online debating platform, Kareem says that it should be viewed in a unique light.

“Naqeshny is the first online social network that aims to assist active individuals to make well-informed decisions. Through Naqeshny, users are exposed to various perspectives with regards to a vast array of topics.”

Our verdict

With a predominantly Egyptian userbase at the moment, Naqeshny’s debates are firmly focused on the local political scene in Egypt, but with its bilingual interface, there’s no reason the site cannot be used by anyone, anywhere in the world.

While Twitter has become something of a debating platform unto itself, it was never intended to be used that way, and anyone who has gotten into a debate with 2 or 3 people on the microblogging platform knows how confusing and inconvenient that can be.

By taking the debate to a platform like Naqeshny, users have all the tools at their disposal to get their point of view across, and connect with other like-minded people.

The Mash team aren’t limiting the Naqeshny experience to the website alone, with a dedicated ‘Naqeshny’ button in the works which will allow readers to get their debating on, out and about on the Web. Kareem tells us that deals have already been secured with three major newspapers in Egypt.

Of course Naqeshny is not entering an empty space, and is not the first debate platform we’ve taken a look at here at The Next Web. We introduced you to Barkles last November, and the service has recently decided to close its doors for good.

A niche social network is a much harder sell, and Naqeshny certainly has its work cut out for it. If nothing else, it’s definitely proved to be a great debating ground for the many, endless political and social arguments that Egypt has witnessed over the past year.

What do you think of Naqeshny? Let us know in the comments.