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Argdown (argdown.org)
627 points by Qaphqa 33 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 174 comments



It would have been helpful to me, if the page would try to explain and "sell" not just the tool, but the idea of argument maps too (e.g. in a few initial paragraph).

I've met the concept of argument map for the first time, and had to google it to gain some understanding: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argument_map


I think this image from elsewhere in the comments does a reasonable job of showing both what an argument map looks like and why you might want one.

http://www.argunet.org/wordpress-argunet-2/wp-content/upload...


I wish Kialo [0] would allow you to export their giant argument maps in this sort of markdown, instead of their crappy outline format.

[0] http://www.kialo.com/


hm. Looks like monoidal category theory.


> if the page would try to explain and "sell"

It's a specific tool for argumentation. I don't think they need to explain what argumentation is.


Argument maps are not “a tool for argumentation”; they’re not intended to be used in every context in which people argue. If they were, we all probably would have heard of them already at some point, if just as “that weird thing I see no reason to use.”

Argument maps are intended to either analyze or formalize the sides of an argument, in one of two contexts:

• contexts like civic policy, where a third party (e.g. an analyst working for a politician) wants to create an executive summary of a debate for consumption by a policy-maker, usually by watching/reading, and then “digesting”, a lot of arguments. (In this context, it also helps to be able to merge argument maps, efficiently unifying nodes that are semantically similar while keeping their dissimilar children.)

• In cases of formal debate, where the goal of the debaters is, as often as not, not for one side to dominate the other with rhetoric, but rather for everyone to “adversarially collaborate” to discover the complete shape of the debate—to map all the pros and cons—so that they can then go over the mapped argument and judge its merits for themselves, rather than working form the incomplete information they started with (usually just the information held by their “side.”)

Combine these two, and you get “barristers on both sides of a court, working for a judge as analysts to help them understand both sides of a case”—as in truth-discovering (rather than guilt-deciding) judicial systems like Scotland’s; or as in grand juries or coroner’s inquests.

(You can also use argument maps in your personal life, if you want to be really objective about deciding whether to believe something. But the contexts in which there are so many good arguments on both sides that you’d get a different answer than the one you’d get by just listening to the debate with an open mind, would be rare. For a cute analogy, they’re “asymptotes of discourse”: places where you’re dividing infinite evidence by infinite evidence, and so need something more powerful than regular mental arithmetic to get a solution.)


"In cases of formal debate, where the goal of the debaters is, as often as not, not for one side to dominate the other with rhetoric, but rather for everyone to “adversarially collaborate” to discover the complete shape of the debate—to map all the pros and cons—so that they can then go over the mapped argument and judge its merits for themselves, rather than working form the incomplete information they started with (usually just the information held by their “side.”)"

I did formal (policy) debate and my goal was always to win. Are there forms of formal debate which are really oriented towards sketching out a complete argument landscape?


> I did formal (policy) debate and my goal was always to win

I find this POV difficult to understand. Maybe I'm misunderstanding (and what is "policy" debate vs plain old debate?)

. Did you want to win for a reason other than winning?

. Did you ever feel you were wrong but won anyway?

. Did anybody make you doubt your position? If so what was your response?

. My position is to find the 'truth' so if I'm shown wrong I'll accept it quickly. Do you think this is a flawed approach compared to yours?

Not hostile, but curious, thanks.


No hostility detected! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Policy_debate

Policy debate is a formal style of competitive debate, characterized by a high degree of "game" like behavior and, most notably, the act of making arguments as fast as possible, so as to literally make it impossible for your opponent to answer them all.

Mostly its a high school thing, but there are some college leagues.

To answer your questions:

- Winning made me feel smart and cool.

- Never, but I also don't feel I was right either, really. I mean the relationship to the substance of the ideas in the debate is so tenuous. It really is a kind of high speed game of conceptual chess, more than an argument.

- The policy debater takes up and puts down positions like tools. One round you might make an argument you defeated in the previous round. You might argue against your very own position.

- As a data scientist (and a scientist and philosopher in general) I'm with you about truth being important (as far as that goes) but policy debate is much more about developing a facility with ideas. A certain detachment from specific ideas is actually very important to finding the true ones, and policy debate helps you see that.

On the other hand, it does make people cynical. I see a lot of what is wrong with this country in my training as a debater. Its a thing taught mostly to rich kids at private schools and it teaches them to bullshit, which is a critical skill if you're to lord it over the plebes. The world might be better off it we didn't know how.

My view these days is that I'm quite skeptical of strong claims made either way and that I prefer virtue ethics, which say we should focus less on complex schemes to understand and manipulate the world and more on our character moment to moment.


Excellent answer, very informative, thanks!


I would agree with this pointed question.

I've been studying the informal fallacies and it dismayed me to discover that lawyers typically USE, instead of AVOID, many of these fallacies... precisely because it wins cases. Their purpose is to win, not to be the most correct.

Winning is thus a perverse incentive in truth discovery. Maybe conflating competition with truth discovery was a bad idea? I guess, it's impossible to dispassionately plead a court case when livelihoods are at stake, and thus competition is inevitable...

I would like to think that if I was a lawyer arguing a case, and I knew that using a certain fallacy would work, I wouldn't use it... but who knows.


> I did formal (policy) debate and my goal was always to win. Are there forms of formal debate which are really oriented towards sketching out a complete argument landscape?

I don't think this exists yet, but it should. It may just end up with everyone arguing over what the meaning of "truth" is, but I'd still watch it.


In principle, the adversarial system of justice in the United Systems is supposed to sort of work in this way (though the judgement is by a third party). Even though each party is focused on winning, the structure is supposed to give rise to fairness by construction.

Whether that happens in practice is... debatable.


A better example might be an inquisitorial justice system, in which a theoretically neutral party attempts to reach a conclusion and a defensible support for it.


Thanks for this intro.

I'm a bit baffled about this:

> merge argument maps, efficiently unifying nodes that are semantically similar

Is the merging done automatically? If so, this together with some other comments in the thread seems to imply that the software has an ontology mapped onto the arguments—which to my knowledge was so far a pipe dream for most people, on the order a bit below generic AI and somewhere around Watson. Am I mistaken, is there anything practical in this space? Or does the semantic mapping just mean lotsa handiwork?


I wrote and defended a thesis proposal on this topic in which the goal was to automate, to the greatest degree possible, merging nodes which mean the same thing. One example is "CO2 causes climate change" and "Climate change is caused by carbon dioxide", both saying the same thing, but neither of which would submit to a simple string comparison. As it turns out, there are Watson-like agents beginning to emerge in the open source arena, including OpenSherlock, my project, which is taking forever to complete owing to the enormous amount of experimental work that must be accomplished.


Nah, more like clicking one node and then another and having them snap together and union their children.


> judicial systems like Scotland's

I'm unfamiliar, but very curious--could you elaborate?


Sounds like the difference between common law and civil law?

https://onlinelaw.wustl.edu/blog/common-law-vs-civil-law/

Not sure that Scotland really qualifies as a civil law?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scots_law


It's not. Common vs civil law (i.e. where law comes from) is orthogonal to the roles of the fact-finder and parties in a dispute at trial. Most Americans will be familiar with an adversarial model, where each side's lawyer is making the best case for their side. In Scotland, the responsibility is aligned differently, towards helping the judge to discover the truth.


From that link:

"In civil law countries, judges are often described as “investigators.” They generally take the lead in the proceedings by bringing charges, establishing facts through witness examination and applying remedies found in legal codes."

"In contrast, in a common law country, lawyers make presentations to the judge (and sometimes the jury) and examine witnesses themselves."

Also, asked my wife who is Scottish litigator:

Most law that is case law but not criminal legislation is civil law. We not have an inquisitorial system system but in practice judges do ask questions regarding legal submissions made by parties.


So if I say that outliners and mind maps are for organizing ideas, then by knowing what ideas are you automatically know how to use outliners and mind maps?


There is an open source "concept map" platform known at Compendium available from the Open University's Knowledge Media Institute. It was invented precisely to help tame conversations in a conceptual space known as "issue-based information systems". Let me explain: Compendium is for "dialogue mapping", not "argument mapping". Dialogue mapping grew up in the fast-moving arenas of town hall planning meetings which frequently turn wicked ("over my dead body you'll put that freeway through this town"). There, the cognitive overhead of recording what is being uttered must be at an absolute minimum. Jeff Conklin invented the approach and described it in a paper about "gIBIS", and that approach eventually became the open source Java platform Compendium. As an alternative to explore this space, consider visiting http://debategraph.org/


No but if it is really sunny outside and I do some research and discover the concept of a hat. Then later when I google for a hat, I know what a hat is, and I am not confused by websites that are selling hats.


It's so bemusingly fitting that your two comments don't quite seem to agree on what exactly your argument is.


It does not follow that given a concept of a hat, you recognize one. It’s like the difference between epistemology and phenomenology.


I'd say that's precisely what they need to do, before explaining anything else.

First rule of explaining anything in an understandable way: define your terms.


A simple syntax (kind of Markdown) for complex argumentation, defining complex dialectical relations between arguments. Your document is transformed into an argument map while you are typing.

Screenshot: http://www.argunet.org/wordpress-argunet-2/wp-content/upload...


This site desperately needs a picture like the one you just posted on its front page.


Agreed. I read the front page and concluded it was a way to write nested lists with colored +'s and -'s.


I dunno, if you click [map] on one of the argdown examples, it interactively flips to the diagram of said syntax.

I didn't find that too difficult to discover. It even seemed more interactive.


True, but most people won't click on map.


I did :-)


It is a great picture to show its cabalities, the front-page examples are quite simple.


I entirely missed that button and came all the way back to HN comments to find screenshots..


Yeah, this is a much more convincing sell to me than anything else.


Thank you. I was searching their homepage for an example like this. The picture shows very clearly what Argdown does.


Do pro/con trees actually work in real life? I played with something like this when using Kialo for a while, and my impression was that this technique doesn't help much. Shoehorning everything into a pro or con is one thing, duplication of points in many places in a tree is another.

I abandoned Kialo with a conclusion that pro/con trees don't map well to reality; we need graphs of facts and their relationships.

(Also, my gut feeling is that when you're talking about "arguments" instead of "facts", "evidence" and probabilities, you're in business of convincing, not truth seeking).

But that's not to diss this project. As an implementation of pro/con trees it's excellent, and I'd prefer typing in this language a millon times more than clicking around Kialo.


> duplication of points in many places in a tree

It seems (but I might be wrong) that this syntax allows for nodes to also reference other nodes rather than embedding them (see e.g. the third example on the page, though it’s too trivial to tell if that’s what it’s doing for sure.) I think they expect you to draft the argument map, then go back over it and iteratively reduce it by manually normalizing duplicate sub-arguments into one canonical sub-argument in one place + references to it in other places.

> Also, my gut feeling is that when you're talking about "arguments" instead of "facts", "evidence" and probabilities, you're in business of convincing, not truth seeking.

Usually the point of this kind of software (argument-mapping software) is to, first, efficiently capture an argument that exists, either as a sort of “court stenographer” during the argument, or from a recording after the fact. You want the tree of pros and cons (really, rebuttals / consequents / syllogisms / a bunch of other smaller categories) because you’re trying to capture the structure of the discussion itself.

Then, once you have captured that structure, argument-mapping software has tooling to allow you to massage (refactor!) the discussion from its original shape, into one that lets you more efficiently get at the truth. Turn things graphical, assign arguments weights, unify duplicate branches, etc.

Argument mapping is not just about pro/con trees; but pro/con trees are a nearly-lossless way to capture how people actually debate things, so they’re a good “ingested primary source” format to keep around and refer back to when you’re trying to summarize and judge a debate (rather than having to listen to the audio transcript over and over, or read through a linear stream of debate text.)


> Argument mapping is not just about pro/con trees; but pro/con trees are a nearly-lossless way to capture how people actually debate things, so they’re a good “ingested primary source” format to keep around and refer back to when you’re trying to summarize and judge a debate (rather than having to listen to the audio transcript over and over, or read through a linear stream of debate text.)

We have used Kialo for exactly this. The parties that we suspect to start quarrelling about a decision have to capture their reasoning in a Kialo and send it to everybody before the actual meeting. And then we use the Kialo tree as a source document during the meeting. And if new arguments are brought up, the person taking notes just adds them.

Or if a heated debate ensues, one person starts mapping the arguments in Kialo, for later reference.

One problem we ran into though, is that older management folks seem to prefer traditional meeting notes, instead of hipster pro/con trees. Also, argument trees don't allow for nice print outs.


Huh, I haven't thought of using them as an input format, a form that matches the typical structure of a discussion. Thanks!

> I think they expect you to draft the argument map, then go back over it and iteratively reduce it by manually normalizing duplicate sub-arguments into one canonical sub-argument in one place + references to it in other places.

That can work with this application/language. It doesn't work with Kialo, unfortunately, where you had different people contributing different nodes of the tree and AFAIR maybe, sometimes, someone then going over the tree and cleaning it up.

> Then, once you have captured that structure, (...) massage (refactor!) the discussion (...) into one that lets you more efficiently get at the truth.

One thing I tried to say is that I believe an argument tree isn't a right end format here, both because it's about arguments (vs. facts and their relationships), and because it's a tree. I think the end format must be a directed graph, very likely containing cycles (mutually supporting arguments).

Why I don't like arguments in the final format? Because they're kind of like an applied function. They hide the parameters. You can decompose an individual argument into pieces of facts and their relationships; an argument takes those, and assigns hidden weights to them - you care about some facts and relationships more than others, and this is usually implicit in the argument (and a source of confusion when doing this multiplayer, a-la Kialo).

I think it'll be more productive to decompose the arguments and deduplicate the resulting graph, and then work at the facts-and-relationships level. The benefits are that all components are now much easier to objectively verify, and whatever conclusion you then read out of this graph could be validated easier.

Note I just think that it'll work better, I haven't really tried it. I have on my TODO list somewhere to take a particular nontrivial topic, like e.g. "animal suffering"[0], and try to decompose it this way to see whether this format will actually work in practice.

--

[0] - It's a topic on which I have no formed opinion at this point, only bunch of inconsistent feelings and heuristics, so I shouldn't have too many preconceptions and biases here. It also seems hard enough to teach me something about myself.


>directed graph [...] containing cycles

Can you clarify what you mean with cycles? As written it sounds like you think sound arguments contain circular reasoning...

I can see a branching opening and closing in a unidirected graph being the result of a sound argument^, but since you cannot move freely in both directions I don't know if it would count as a cycle.

^ The argument being: some process has a positive an negative effect (one thing happens, another thing never happens), the positive and negative effects are observed in nature, supporting the conclusion that the process in fact is the cause of the two effects.


Feedback loops.

I don't think modelling "from argument X follows argument Y" is productive; what's productive is modelling that observable phenomenon X is correlated with Y, or causes Y, or has this-and-that impact on Y. At this level, things can be stuck in feedback loops, either positive or negative.

Will increase in coal exports of Poland increase Poland's CO₂ footprint? Let's try to model it the way I think about it:

     Coal exports
          ^
          | [provides Z coal to]
          |
          |     [needs α*X = A kWh for coal]
     Mining coal <---------------------\
          |                            |
          | [provides X coal to]       |
          v                            |
   Coal power plants                   |
    |     |                            |
    |     | [γ*X = Y kWh burning coal] |
    |     v                            |
    |  Electricity --------------------/
    |
    | [burned coal into β*X = N kg of CO₂]
    v
  CO₂ emissions
You have a cycle there: Mining coal -> Coal power plants -> Electricity -> Mining coal. Given A < Y, it's a negative feedback loop. It's a cycle that exists in real life (and the basis of the concept of EROI)!

If this were a reactive model, you could tweak the value of Z to see how X, Y, A and ultimately N change. But even without reactivity, you can clearly see that the answer to original question is "yes, increasing coal exports will increase Poland's carbon footprint". And there's little left open to interpretation or accusations of subjectivity.

If you don't like the answer that the model gives, it also makes some alternative strategies apparent! In this case: can we find a way to reduce α or β to compensate? Or increase γ? Or maybe add an alternative CO₂ sink for the Coal power plants -> CO₂ emissions edge? Note that these alternative strategies involve manipulating reality, not your argument.

I think we should be doing more of this kind of modelling. Building more accurate maps of the world, and reasoning straight from them, instead of trying to build complicated webs of arguments.


> (Also, my gut feeling is that when you're talking about "arguments" instead of "facts", "evidence" and probabilities, you're in business of convincing, not truth seeking).

Depending on context pro/contra is probably what can be generated from facts when comparing things, so facts should be persistent, pro/contra dynamically generated.


Yes, I came to the same conclusions. Pro/contra trees look like an answer to a query on the graph.

One thing I find manually written pro/contra trees don't capture is that the same observation can be simultaneously a pro and a contra, or can flip between being pro and a contra depending on strength of that observation, or surrounding context.

Ultimately, I find those trees a nice visualization, and writing them an interesting exercise in structuring your thoughts, but I'm not convinced whether or not they're helpful at getting to the truth.


Are you aware of other tought structuring tools, that are better for 'getting to the truth' as you say it? I haven't yet found a proper structure for purposes of collecting and categorizing ideas, and for reasoning about them.

A tree structure is great for it's simplicity. It maps well to most use cases I need, but not all of them. A strict tree is too limiting and cannot avoid duplication. I'd like a tool that could build a structure that is almost-a-tree would be visualized as a tree, but it would allow a special case linking between any two nodes.

A general graph lacks the necessary structure. Without the structure, the tool isn't really supporting me and I can just use the yEd graph editor. I could use some queries on the graph to shape it into tree on demand, but then I lose mind's spatial ability to navigate the graph.


No, I'm not aware of better tools. I'm beginning to feel like I should start prototyping one.

I though about this topic a bit on numerous occasions, and I keep feeling that trees don't map well to this use case. I still think a directed graph is necessary, and likely one supporting cycles. The structure will be imposed by reality itself. Anything less than a directed graph will fail to capture causal relationships between entities.

yEd... well, I spent a lot of hours with yEd Live recently, and I have complaints :). Like, where's the ability to simply place a piece of text on a diagram as a node?! It's ironic, but it seems to me that in 2019, there still isn't a good tool implementing the simple concept of infinite, pannable, zoomable canvas for typing on it and building arbitrary directed graphs on it.


Lately I've started using DrawExpress mobile app. It fits your description. A bit finicky, but I've adapted to its quirks. Swiping keyboard on phones is a quick way to enter a bit of text on node, and it fits well with gesture-based interface. The only problem, I find myself spending too much time manually arranging node positions.

Regarding structure, I agree with you that directed graph is most powerful. But for visualization and editing I would propose shaping graph into a tree. This reshaping can be done many ways, it's like a query into a DB. Here's a quick mockup made in yEd: https://i.imgur.com/LGTNbuz.png

While directed graph is necessary for internal data representation, tree structure is a perfect fit for many specific cases: categorization; argumentation (like this HN thread); tagging/grouping; lisp s-expressions. Trees capture those things beautifully, while enabling easy navigation with arrow keys or finger swipe.

Reshaping into tree allows for some neat layouts. For example, by scaling geometry down with each child, your whole graph can fit inside predictable area, without any node overlapping. See more here: http://treevis.net/

One could add a reactive capabilities to each graph node. The node would respond to different triggers by changing it's attributes, or relations to other nodes. The graph/tree can be built step by step via triggering specific node responses (add child, delete node, connect/disconnect). Responses could also change node attributes, to bring interactivity and ability to simulate mental models.

This is what I'm working on in spare time, but these days the bread-bringing job drains my energy away :( \

Great thread, BTW.


I've also been thinking about building a tool like this for a really long time. I would be interested in collaborating, so I'll send you an email!


I've described a tool I'm currently designing in the sibling thread. I'm planning on building it in re-frame, which is basically React + Redux made for ClojureScript. I've learned Clojure just for this project, I could not make it work with any other language I knew. I'm currently learning Datomic because it might be the ideal way of capturing, growing and querying this knowledge graph.

We should join some kind of communication group to see if we are after the same thing, and to track each others progress. Maybe a new reddit group?


I think Connor White Sullivan is was working on something like this as of last Conj https://twitter.com/conaw http://roamresearch.com/ I also know Jeremy Taylor (who works on Crux) was working on a DataScript based org mode like graph tool


Hi, that sounds awesome! I'm also very interested in learning Clojure/ClojureScript, and re-frame sounds great. I think it would be important to choose a functional language for this project. I've also been thinking about using Haskell, and writing the core engine in Idris. (I also recently had an idea for an experiment after reading about Nix expressions, and how I might be able to use some of these underlying concepts and algorithms.)

I've created a Discord chat group for the project I've been wanting to work on. Please feel free to join with this link: https://discord.gg/7Ca3R8

I think we might have a few people in here who are working on different ideas in the same space, so it would be great to bounce ideas off each other. A Reddit group also sounds good!


As a shameless plug: I created a chat room on my own graph-based collaboration platform you can join via this link: https://app.woost.space/#page=5W4B6pA5yVDprYMkRyLuE1

I hope a bunch of interested people manage to organize and build something great!


I've used https://whimsical.com/ (no affiliation) to do mind maps, which is a GUI tool, and it supports doing arbitrary lines/arrows, but it's not super happy with doing that.

GraphViz will go from text to whatever tree-ish graphical representation you want, but naturally there is some time investment required, especially if you want pretty output.


Just tried whimsical. It's impressive for online tool, but the UX is too slow for me. I need a fast visual tool to create graphs, GraphViz is just the rendering part. Thanks for suggestions, though.


One thing I've been considering is that facts are used to support underlying assumptions that would be useful if coaxed out. Facts aren't arguments, they're neutral things that people pick and choose from to shape their worldview.

If I could conclusively establish that, on average, there's a 3% chance that your house is robbed this year, some people will view that as a risk to mitigate and some won't.


I build a graph-based argument mapping system with community moderation with a friend as our CS master theses: https://github.com/woost/wust

I'm happy to discuss this whole topic with interested people, as I think it is a very important problem. I believe it may be possible in the long-term to fix politics with these kinds of technology. I wanted to do my PhD in this area, but wasn't able to get any funding. So I'm starting a Startup now, that does graph-based collaboration software (with the future hope to bring more focus into arugment mapping): https://app.woost.space

If interested, I can also send you my master thesis, just reach out per email.


I have similar feelings about Kialo. I've been experimenting with a site concept that seeks to make canonical statements (fact/value statements, policy statements, questions) that could be associated with others while avoiding the pro/con binary. After all, one man's con can often be another man's pro, depending on the underlying assumptions, and things don't always fit neatly into those categories.


"(Also, my gut feeling is that when you're talking about "arguments" instead of "facts", "evidence" and probabilities, you're in business of convincing, not truth seeking)."

That's funny since for me it's the other way around, in philosophy "facts" are taken with great suspicion but arguments are fine.


Some analytical types love these things and if they make a decision.... maybe that is enough.

I do find people who are analytical types sometimes greatly overestimate the "known" and underestimate the unknown / nuances.


A very long time ago I worked in https://groupidea.com/ where we tried solving this in a way much like the one you proposed.


They actually do have linking[0] and map creators are usually quite anal about only having one instance of each argument in a map. So instead of accepting your suggestion they will just link the already present one there, which can be a bit annoying.

[0] https://www.kialo.com/its-possible-that-early-belief-in-the-...


This source repo is really fantastic code. If you are implementing a new language this is a nice one to emulate.

They've got a Language Server Protocol Implementation, VS Code Extension, Code Mirror mode, and more, and the code and even config files project wide are all very well done.

Great stuff.


Would you be able to provide some specific examples?


Language Server Protocol Implementation, VS Code Extension, Code Mirror mode I'd guess


Not sure why on the downvotes. I was more curious if you could link to a specific source file.


There's a GitHub link on the top-right of their home page.


Right. I totally missed that. Thanks for pointing that out.


Very cool. Better technology in the area of discussion and disagreements will go a long way (longer than I think most people realize). We need a "bicycle for the mind" concept for online discussion.


I agree. But this is half the solution. The other half is an authoritative source that tracks the arguments and evidence for various hypotheses and theories. So a layperson can understand the basic argument and the strength of the evidence for or against it in about 15 minutes, but fractal in nature so that one can descend all the way down to the raw data if they choose. Something like Wikipedia, except for hypotheses and theories about how existence works. Then we can just link people to a source that outlines the flaws in their pet theories.

Side note: I think diet advocates and climate enthusiasts would be in for a bit of a shock from such a resource when they have to deal with the fact that epidemiology and model building are some of the weakest forms of evidence. But I digress.


This is something I have had at the back of my mind for a few years now - a website that lets people upload hypotheses and link evidence that supports or rejects the hypothesis.

Such a website would allow people to gain insights, by gathering individual bits of evidence observed in various news articles, research papers, etc. and linking them together to form a larger picture.


No way, I've always wanted to create something like this too. This person https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20477924 also shares our idea:

> I would love to see this baked into a social network as a substrate for semi-structured debate.

Gaining insight and collecting disparate facts to form a bigger picture, an "argument map", with the ability for others to collaborate--that's exactly it.

However in addition to all the great use cases you've outlined, I also see potential for personal use, particularly in making structured decisions.

For example, purchasing decisions: researching to buy or not to buy widget X (in my case recently, sentiment analysis on stocks). With the creation of a simple browser plugin that allows you to highlight text and quickly add it to the map, it would make it easy to centralize all misc pieces of information supporting/rejecting a decision. Supporting "evidence" added this way will automatically link to the source, and optionally snapshot the page to ensure context of the particular supporting evidence is never lost.

I think it would be a fun project to create. If you ever think to actually work on this, or if you're interested in working on this together, let me know!


Me too! I would also love to build this, and I've actually been thinking about it for ~5 years! This is one of the projects I was always planning to work on if I didn't need to worry about money. I don't want to monetize the site with ads, and I also didn't want to worry about chasing after donations. I was thinking that the core product could possibly be monetized for businesses to make better decisions, but that would be too risky (since most startups fail), and it would also dilute the vision (Wikipedia-scale fact database with weighted nodes and edges, to find answers and probabilities for humanity's biggest questions.) I should have really started working on it a long time ago.

I actually just started seriously thinking about it again over the last few weeks, so this HN comment thread is really surprising! I'm definitely interested in helping with development, and maybe sponsorship at some point in the future.

EDIT: This HN thread was the kick I needed to get started, although I don't know how much time I'll be able to spend on it. I'm really busy with my startup, so this will have to be an evening/weekend project for now. I've just registered FactGraph.org. (I'm not 100% sure about the name, but I haven't been able to think of any better names.)


Alright your recent edit has convinced me. I'm down to work on this together if you are! I'll send you an email once my day's over.

Names like KnowledgeGraph etc were what I came up with previously. I'll check my notes, think I had a few other good ones..


Hey, I've just started a Discord group for people who are interested in this kind of project. Please send me an email if you would like to join! (In my profile.)


Will do!



Hello, I've just started a Discord group for people who might be interested in this kind of project. Please send me an email if you would like to join! (In my profile.)


Kialo has something a lot like what you want. The wheel widget on the splash screen lets you see explore the arguments and counterarguments and then drill down.

https://www.kialo.com/the-rebel-alliance-would-defeat-the-un...

https://www.kialo.com/should-people-have-the-right-and-means...


I don't think super sound argumentation is really the solution to everything. There is this documentary Fog of War about the Vietnam War and one lesson there is that rationality alone won't save us. On the contrary it might have almost provoked nuclear war. ;)

About the side note, what forms of evidence do you think are stronger?


What else than rationality would be better? Gut feelings? Emotional arguments?

I guess you probably mean something like "taking into account human element", but all I can see when someone says "rational thinking isn't a solution" is something that boils down to "2+2 = 4 doesn't feel right to me, 2 cows plus 2 apples is not like 4 cows, therefore math isn't the answer". There are rules to thinking, and just because some people fail to use those rules correctly, doesn't mean the rulebook is bad.

(I don't know if by reference to provoking a nuclear war you mean MAD, but I think there's a solid argument that MAD saved us from nuclear war, and if people relied instead on more emotional calculus, we'd nuke ourselves to extinction a long time ago.)


Very much agree, let's not forget that this kind of thinking is most likely the reason Steve Jobs is not anymore among us. Rational reasoning does certainly not always lead to the best outcome, but on average, it does.

> What else than rationality would be better? Gut feelings? Emotional arguments?

Beliefs. :(


Who says argument maps rely on rationality? Many arguments are based on emotions and subjective values. Those can also be represented in the tool.


Yeah, but people utilize the reputation of institutions (like the NYT, Wikipedia, universities, churches, public figures, etc) all the time to add legitimacy to their ideology. If we want to spread a rational understanding of the world, then we need our own trusted institution. I think Wikipedia has shown that a user edited source can be a positive influence in this area. It's not sufficient, but it would help. Right now you have people flinging one-off scientific articles at each other and almost nobody who does this has any clue how actually important (or, more often, not) these articles are.


Hello, I've just started a Discord group for people who might be interested in this kind of project. Please send me an email if you would like to join! (In my profile.)


This fractal debating is kind-of captured by Kialo [0], not that it makes much difference on anyone's opinion.

[0] https://www.kialo.com/should-hpv-vaccinations-be-compulsory-...


Strongly agreed, and I'm happy this was created, even though I'm not convinced it's going in the right direction. We do need people experimenting with tech that lets us streamline reasoning and arriving at group consensus.


I always look in wonder at how americans are so in argumentation. I mean, you even have a whole set of tools and now a "markdown of sorts" for argumentation.

As an european, this never ceases to amaze me.


Americans are dualists [1] who believe there is both good and evil, and the best thing is to have both (all) sides fight it out to see who wins.

You can see this throughout the culture, from the legal system, to robust support for free speech, to the quite frankly Christian morality (a belief that there is original sin in the body politic that must be atoned for) that permeates even the most hardcore progressive, atheistic left.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dualistic_cosmology


You're half right. It's best to consider all sides of an argument, however the people that believe that there are only two sides are generally considered idiots. The fact that there are only two major political parties is just a mathematical consequence of the election system, not a reflection of the population's actual beliefs.


It's not just a mathematical artifact though. Political affiliation has deep cultural significance in the US. It permeates every aspect of a person's life and affects all of their relationships. There are plenty of Americans who will demand to know what you think of the president, on first meeting you, and then decide whether or not they like you based on the answer to that single question.

You don't see this in countries with many political parties that each grab only a small piece of the pie.


> There are plenty of Americans who will demand to know what you think of the president, on first meeting you, and then decide whether or not they like you based on the answer to that single question.

There are plenty of americans who will form their opinion of you based on which sports team you like, as well.

I think your observation is not so much one of politics permeating all aspects as it is that our current culture is superficially tribalistic in nature, with many tribal signifiers being used.


> There are plenty of Americans who will demand to know what you think of the president, on first meeting you, and then decide whether or not they like you based on the answer to that single question.

This is a relatively new phenomenon that will hopefully not be around for long.


As an American, I was taught that our style of debate, with its understanding of dialectic and rhetoric, was ultimately grounded in ancient Greek traditions. I don't know how true that is, though.

Most public policy debate is so empty as to be worthless, and these tools don't change that. The typical English-language dialectic debate suffers from poor metaphysics and ontology, and in the USA this is compounded by a society that shuns math and logic skills. The typical USA debate is about feelings, not about evidence.

There are two investigations into philosophy, namely speech acts and pragmatics, which happened in English-language philosophy first, and may be due to English itself.


The main centres of argumentation research are in Europe (Amsterdam, Switzerland, Lisbon, and several groups in Germany and the UK) and in Canada (Univ. of Waterloo). In the US, there is a heavier focus on "critical thinking" as a pedagogical tool.


If it's not too much trouble, can you link to the research centres you're talking about?


I'm reluctant, because I don't think the discipline as a whole has many scientific merits, except for the more formal work in computer science. Anyway, here you go:

* Pragma-dialectic school (Amsterdam, F. van Eemeren) [1]

* Argumentation Schemes & Informal logic, Univ. of Windsor, D. Walton [2,3]

* Rhethorics and Argumentation, Univ. of Waterloo, C. Tindale [4,5]

* Switzerland, Lugano Group (IALS) [7]

* Lisbon ArgLab Group, New Univ. of Lisbon, M. Lewinski, F. Macagno [6]

* Germany, Research Group for Nonmonotonic Logic and Formal Argumentation, Univ. Bochum [8]

* Germany, KIT Group, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology [9]

The last two groups are more to my taste, and there is also Chris Reed and his team in the UK. The prevalent theoretical traditions are argumentation schemes and informal logic in Canada, developed by Walton and his scholars, and the pragma-dialectic tradition in Amsterdam, developed by van Eemeren and his many scholars.

[1] https://gsh.uva.nl/content/research-masters/argumentation-rh... [2] https://www.dougwalton.ca/ [3] http://www.uwindsor.ca/crrar/ [4] http://www.uwindsor.ca/argumentationstudies/ [5] http://www.uwindsor.ca/crrar/ [6] https://www.arglab.ifilnova.pt/en [7] https://search.usi.ch/en/organisational-units/332/institute-... [8] http://homepage.ruhr-uni-bochum.de/defeasible-reasoning/inde... [9] http://debatelab.philosophie.kit.edu/


Interesting, thank you! I didn't actually think such a thing existed. Can you expand on the lack of scientific merits?

I gather it's a mix of sociology,philosophy,communication and logic?


> Funded by Debatelab, KIT Karlsuhe

And Christian Voigt apparently resides in Berlin.


Eh, I think most people of science in general are into argumentation because it allows you to flesh out ideas more.

I don't think, looking at the history of fields like logic, people from the US (guessing you meant that, not Americans in general) have more representation than other countries. Take a look at this list for example: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_logicians


I think the parent actually meant "debate", which to me as a fellow European also seems to be a very American thing.

I don't think that debating and abstract logic are very related fields.


Yeah. Debates are weird, and IMO poisonous to mind.

Taking a topic, splitting into two teams and fighting it out with words until the victor remains is the exact opposite of what you want to do to reach any useful conclusion on any topic.


Perhaps an alternative is to split into guilds - many of them - and pose an Epic Quest; game moves are contributions to a dialogue (conversation) map which, first, responds to the quest (a deep question) with position/answer statements to be followed by evidence fields the guilds collect to support their position. Other guilds can come in and gain game points by adding support to the game moves of others, or, for that matter, challenging them with evidence to the contrary. Game moves include Questions, as well as answers and pro and con arguments. Thus, this is not a simple Pro-Con ecosystem, but, instead, a conversational one. This, in theory, can be viewed through several lenses, two of which are "debate" and "learning conversation". To the extent that the epic quest is one which, effectively, crowd sources the world views expressed by guilds, and to the extent that rules of engagement mean that the pugnacious arguments remain inside the guilds and what comes out forms valuable contributions to the conversation which is the quest, then "all boats rise". John Seely Brown did a 6 minute Youtube with the opening sentence: "I would rather hire a high-level World of Warcraft player than an MBA from Harvard", and that point is evidence to support the model I'm suggesting here, something like "World of Warcraft meets Global Sensemaking". JSB's point is that guilds perform magic on humans; less tendency to argue, more tendency to find ways to remain on truth seeking missions rather than "selling" personal versions of truth.


Yeah, I was in a debate team in high school. I suppose it is good training for people who end up becoming lawyers and have to defend people that they may or may not really believe are innocent, but as someone who ended up going into science I see how it is a bit grotesque -- the idea in competitive debates is that rhetoric matters more than actual factual information and that a good debater can argue either side with equal ease.


I'm an European CS student, and I was a part of debate team in high school as well. You are certainly right that lawyers will get most of them, since they are closely related to actual lawyer work.

On the other hand, I don't think rhetoric matters more than facts. At least in my country, most of the arguments in the debate have to be based on some data/studies to be taken seriously. You still have to be a good speaker, of course, because you have to get the point across, but you can't win the debate without a prepared case just because you are charismatic.

Lots of times we had to argue for both sides during the tournament; the topics were chosen accordingly, as not to be "solvable". Of course in normal world you probably want to find some kind of compromise, but to be able to do that, you have to assess what each course of action will achieve. And debating helps you build the skillset to do just that.


Sure. It helps if you can formulate the pros and cons of each course of action, though, because that's the first step of finding a proper compromise. From my experience, that is what debate teaches you.

For example, most of the debates we have done in high school we did from both sides; I don't think the general message was supposed to be "just argue loud enough and you'll be right", but rather "hey, look at this problem from these two sides. Crazy how both of them are partly true, isn't it?".

I think the human default is to stick to whatever your opinion is at the moment. Most of the people will never look from other POV. Maybe they won't even realise that the other POV can be right, when they are so sure they themselves are right.


> Taking a topic, splitting into two teams and fighting it out with words until the victor remains is the exact opposite of what you want to do to reach any useful conclusion on any topic.

I agree only if the debate's intention is to declare a winner and a loser. Having a formal session to discuss topic with opposing sides allows for well-planned arguments. OFf-the-cuff discussion, while useful, can only get you so far.


Winner/loser mentality is one half of the problem; the other half is that pretty much nothing in real life can be productively split into exactly two opposing sides or views.


Yes, I meant that. Thanks for clarifying!


The underlying project was “argunet” (http://www.argunet.org/)


Is there a syntax for pro/con weight? One issue I run into a lot is leaning on a single massive point to counter a bunch of weak points.


At first I thought this was a parser to automatically convert help text for a command into an argument parser. Something I didn’t realize I needed until right now. Someone write that thing too!


http://docopt.org/ — turns help text in a Python doc string into an argument parser.

After a doc string put:

    import docopt
    args = docopt.docopt(__doc__, version='0.0.1')
Edit: krapht points out there is now support for multiple languages: https://github.com/docopt


I use Docopt now for every CLI script I write, using Docopt language ports. Skipping argument parsing boilerplate is so nice, not to mention now I don't have to remember how each different language is supposed to idiomatically parse CLI arguments.


The map view relies on color for information, which makes it hard to read as a colorblind user.


And there's no legend/explanation for the colors at all on the pictures :(

And the black text color doesn't work that well on most of the backgrounds :/


Yes, we need to work on that. I added your comment as an issue (https://github.com/christianvoigt/argdown/issues/113). Thanks for your feedback!


Hi, I'm the developer of Argdown. Thank you for all your feedback. As some of you already mentioned, so far Argdown has been mainly used by philosophers in an academic context, so it is great to hear what people with other backgrounds think about it.


This reminds me of arguman.org: https://arguman.org/


idea: reddit/HN tree-comments, with nodes liks in argdown. I.e. instead of a "reply" button, you select the type of rebuttal. Sibling comments compete to address that particular aspect the best.

You can instead open a deeper layer, to instead counter that point.

i.e. the kind of thing that can happen with tree-comments, just with explicit structure.


Needs some syntax for referring to definitions of terms used in the arguments. Terms like “easier” and “complex” need formal, agreed on, definitions for the example arguments to make any sense.



That could work! They just need to show some examples of using it for that purpose.


I would love to see this baked into a social network as a substrate for semi-structured debate. Bookmarking for later reference.


I'd like to see something like this used to display people's arguments in social media. Something like a mythical "machine learning argument analysis" process would look at comments and threads, then spit out something like Argdown. Then people could see what structure and flow different discussions have.

Could also be useful if there was such a mythical tool that could gently teach people to debate in a more logical manner. The user would write their comment, but before it is submitted, it is analyzed and helpful tips or edits shown to the user.

As an aside, I wonder how good grammar checkers have become since the Word 97 days? My grammar is utterly terrible and I wish I could get it proofread before I make comments.


That would be amazing. I'm putting that on my 'things to explore with machine learning when I finally get into that space' list.


Agreed, I'd very like to see something like this to be a thing.


I have heard that Twitter is working on something like this. The hard part of course being the detection of what is an argument and what is commentary or anecdote sharing.

>As an aside, I wonder how good grammar checkers have become since the Word 97 days? My grammar is utterly terrible and I wish I could get it proofread before I make comments.

Try it for free, Google Docs added it recently for English. Otherwise, perhaps one of these dedicated sites or use their browser extensions, will be of interest:

https://languagetool.org/ https://grammarly.com/ https://www.gingersoftware.com/grammarcheck


In case it's useful I immediately got a dead link https://argdown.org/guide/a-first-example/ from this page https://argdown.org/guide/


Needs the .html, works on the left sidebar fortunately: https://argdown.org/guide/a-first-example.html


Thanks! I added an issue for this (https://github.com/christianvoigt/argdown/issues/115) and will fix this as soon as I find the time.


The default red/green background colors should be lightened dramatically, eg ffcfcf and cfcfff. The colored arrows should just be black imo.

People will fuss over red green color blindness as well. May want to add a small visual indicator that can be seen in a grayscale version, like a plus or minus above each box, or the words pro and con.

This is a starting point, an experienced designer should be able to find settings for a much better looking and functional default look.


You are right, color blindness and grayscale exports are things we need to think about. I added your ideas as an issue (https://github.com/christianvoigt/argdown/issues/113).


Using a tool such as graphviz directly allows for more flexibility. Reasoning is not simply reducible to syllogisms and lists of pros and cons.


I think this will also be useful for decision makers.

With this tool you can ask for pro and con arguments and have a good way to write them down.


FYI to the owner of Argdown.org if around- Your getting started page linked here 404's: https://argdown.org/guide/a-first-example


Thanks! I added an issue for this (https://github.com/christianvoigt/argdown/issues/115) and will fix this as soon as I find the time.


It would be really nice to have emacs package that supports argdown compilation and syntax.


If you're already using Emacs, this use case seems like it could be handled with org-mode and a custom export implementation.


Nice, I think that would be even better.


Amazing work, this is phenomenal. It says it is funded by Debatelab http://debatelab.philosophie.kit.edu/ which is also fascinating.


Orthogonally, I wish there was a better mechanism to embed various markups in code comments. Something that editors can render in-place.

Arguments like this would be perfect for in-situ descriptions of design decisions.


See also "Laws of Form" notation, diagrams as logical formulas. http://www.markability.net/


I think I will use it for myself, because opinions are "lazy" for me (I produce one when I need one) but I don't think they are self-consistent, except for the expert philosophers.


This link was much more helpful: https://argdown.org/sandbox/map


Already a popular platform exist for some time https://en.arguman.org/


The argdown theme in vscode (that is recommended to install) is surprisingly nice as well. Does anyone know if it's a derivative of something?


Just realised that it is the default vscode light theme! I clearly have never used it ...


Can never get enough of documentation as source code (DaSC) tools :)

This looks awesome. This would be way more cumbersome in plantuml.

Big thanks to authors.


So... what is it, exactly? That page has a lot of words, but they're not ones that make any sense to me.


Agreed:

“argumentation”, “pro & contra lists”, “dialectical relations” “premise-conclusion structures

..all appear within the first 100 words and I don’t know what any of them mean. I’m a a native English speaker with a technical education and I am lost!

Is the site aimed at some profession where these words are commonly used?!


Before I gave up on finding out what this was and closed the website, I saw that the copyright author on the bottom of the page was German or affiliated with a German university. I'm fine with giving the person a pass on some of this language, and drawing on the German I know (and having lived there, somewhat familiar with how Germans would say things in English), I think:

- argumentation should be arguments or in more words: "these are the arguments I'm presenting to support my claims."

- pro/contra is pros/cons

- I have never heard the word 'dialectical'

- premise-conclusion structure I think is something like hypothesis-conclusion, maybe?


Dialectical comes from greek philosophy where the proponents of two opposing views would have a conversational debate with reasoned arguments to try to find the truth.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dialectic


> Before I gave up on finding out what this was and closed the website

Really ? Instant gratification type ?


Hoo boy, how did you live your life without dialectical materialism?


Is the site aimed at some profession where these words are commonly used?!

It's created by a philosophy professor and aimed at students of philosophy and other interested in argumentation, so yes. But the terms aren't all that hard to figure out.

- Argumentation, giving reasons in support of an idea or claim.

- pro and contra lists, lists of reasons for (pro) and against (contra) a claim.

- dialectical relations, the relations between the claims made in an argument. For example, how one claim supports or undermines another claim.

- premise conclusion structures, a conclusion is a statement of what is claimed to be true, and the premises are statements that support the conclusion. In arguments, these are structured (hopefully) by logical relations so that the premises have some bearing on the truth of the conclusion. The conclusion can be inferred from the premises. If the premises are true, the conclusion is true (or more likely to be true).

Here's an explanation of premise-conclusion structure by the developer [0]:

Logically an argument consists of nothing else but sentences. But these sentences play different roles in an argument. Every argument has one inferred sentence (the conclusion) and at least one sentence from which the conclusion is inferred (a premiss). This premiss-conclusion structure is visualised as a sentence list: First all premisses of the argument are listed. Each horizontal line symbolizes an inference. Under the line the conclusion is listed (sometimes there are preliminary conclusions). Under the last line stands the main conclusion of the argument.

[0]: http://www.argunet.org/2013/04/03/so-what-exactly-is-an-argu...

Argdown is a syntax for writing arguments made up of premises and conclusions in the form of pro and contra lists. It then creates a diagram of the relationships between the premises and conclusions.

There's a better explanation here: http://www.argunet.org/2018/10/26/new-beginning-introducing-...

avip 33 days ago [flagged]

It’s all Latin for we know something you don’t


Agreed.

I clicked on the link, and my thought process was something like:

The name invokes markdown, so it sounds like something for marking up args but I have no idea what args are.

> A simple syntax for complex argumentation

What does that even mean?

Clicked on "Getting Started" and immediately it wants me to install something and/or use a sandbox. Well, I'm not going to install anything when I have no idea what it even is, and I'm also not going to bother trying out the sandbox because I have no idea what it is.

The next three text blocks on the main page:

> Simple - Writing pro & contra lists in Argdown is as simple as writing a Twitter message. You don't have to learn anything new, except a few simple rules that will feel very natural.

Oh, so it's a markup language for writing lists?

> Expressive - With these simple rules you will be able to define complex dialectical relations between arguments or dive into the details of their logical premise-conclusion structures.

No wait, it's a markup language for making mind maps?

> Powerful - Your document is transformed into an argument map while you are typing. You can export your analysis as HTML, SVG, PDF, PNG or JSON. If that is not enough, you can easily extend Argdown with your own plugin.

Well whatever this is, it can export to other file formats. Too bad the website never bothered telling me what it was, so by this point I just gave up.


It's an expert tool, and you and I are not experts in the relevant field. That's honestly all I need to know: I am not the target audience for this.


The screenshot and example linked here are rather curious: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20475870

Though personally I'd still like to read up on the technique.


looks like it might make a good general purpose graph editor


The dot language used by graphviz is simple enough and portable to web implementations [0][1]. I think this is more useful for its specific domain.

[0] https://github.com/dagrejs/dagre-d3/wiki

[1] https://github.com/mdaines/viz.js


TBH I think the Argdown source is much more readable than this I found from one of your links:

    /* Example */
    digraph {
        /* Note: HTML labels do not work in IE, which     lacks support for <foreignObject> tags. */
        node [rx=5 ry=5 labelStyle="font: 300 14px     'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica"]
        edge [labelStyle="font: 300 14px 'Helvetica Neue',     Helvetica"]
        A [labelType="html"
           label="A <span style='font-    size:32px'>Big</span> <span style='color:red;'>HTML</span>     Source!"];
        C;
        E [label="Bold Red Sink" style="fill: #f77; font-    weight: bold"];
        A -> B -> C;
        B -> D [label="A blue label" labelStyle="fill:     #55f; font-weight: bold;"];
        D -> E [label="A thick red edge" style="stroke:     #f77; stroke-width: 2px;" arrowheadStyle="fill: #f77"];
        C -> E;
        A -> D [labelType="html" label="A multi-rank <span     style='color:blue;'>HTML</span> edge!"];
    }


Like I said, I agree for verbose cases like complex logical arguments, where the contents of each node are longer and should look more paragraph-like. You're also picking an example with tons of formatting in it. If you have a bit less formatting, shorter node labels, and proper indentation, it looks great. From the second library I linked's demo page [0]:

  digraph G {
  
   subgraph cluster_0 {
    style=filled;
    color=lightgrey;
    node [style=filled,color=white];
    a0 -> a1 -> a2 -> a3;
    label = "process #1";
   }
  
   subgraph cluster_1 {
    node [style=filled];
    b0 -> b1 -> b2 -> b3;
    label = "process #2";
    color=blue
   }
   start -> a0;
   start -> b0;
   a1 -> b3;
   b2 -> a3;
   a3 -> a0;
   a3 -> end;
   b3 -> end;
  
   start [shape=Mdiamond];
   end [shape=Msquare];
  }
Or, if you don't care about colors and shapes (which you probably don't on a first pass-through):

  digraph G {
  
   subgraph cluster_0 {
    a0 -> a1 -> a2 -> a3;
    label = "process #1";
   }
  
   subgraph cluster_1 {
    b0 -> b1 -> b2 -> b3;
    label = "process #2";
   }
   start -> a0;
   start -> b0;
   a1 -> b3;
   b2 -> a3;
   a3 -> a0;
   a3 -> end;
   b3 -> end;
  }
It's not the prettiest once you start using the advanced formatting features (some of which are already present in the first example), but it's simple and straightforward enough for manual or scripted graph layout/rendering across a broad range of use cases, and I highly recommend it as a go-to. I use it to autogenerate DAG plots in my multi-messenger astrophysics library documentation [1] and also manually to reason through things, though, again, I agree that Argdown's syntax looks better for the latter verbose use case.

I was just disagreeing with the notion that Argdown is useful in the general case, where I find that graphviz .dot format is already closer to what I would want a general graph-layout markup language to look like (despite being far-from-perfect). It's less optimized for the verbose case, but it starts pretty minimal and can be extended without too much pain in whatever direction is best.

[0] http://viz-js.com

[1] https://multimessenger.science/llama.pipeline.html


This uses Graphviz


...as one of the rendering backends. The syntax is what I assume was being referred to.


This looks amazing! Can't wait to try it out.


Who's the target market for this?


Philosophers. We were using the early predecessor of this in our philosophy of science course 10 years ago or so (the TA was the guy who’s now the professor behind this project). It’s a pretty neat way to analyze informal logic.


This looks amazing, can't wait to try it!


The documentation is written with a Vue.js static site generator documentation tool called VuePress. You use markdown for that, ironic.


this would be helpful in jupyter notebooks i hate having to draw decision trees with graphviz


And there I was thinking that it was a CLI argument parser generator.


glad I wasn't the only one




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