A Los Angeles startup called Opposing Views has raised $1.25 million to continue building a new kind of discussion site. We won’t get a chance to see the site until its public test this summer, but chief executive Russell Fine says Opposing Views will bring together a wide range of experts to help the public learn about different issues.
Even though I haven’t seen Opposing Views in action, it sounds promising. Fine — who previously co-founded horse racing site Youbet.com — says the site comes from his own desire for a place that helps readers understand complex topics.
He acknowledges that advice site About.com, with its expert-written guides to everything from automobiles to video games, was a big inspiration. But unlike About.com, Opposing Views won’t just provide expert content — as the name implies, it will bring together experts with different opinions and allow them to argue, hopefully in a way that will help readers make smart decisions for themselves. For example, Opposing Views’ page about gun control will include arguments from both the National Rifle Association and a pro-gun control group.
The startup’s approach to debate could be more useful than, say, just checking out the websites of different organizations, or comparing “pro” and “con” editorials in your local newspaper. The Opposing Views team has been developing the site for about a year now, Fine says, and part of the company’s innovation is in the site’s design. Each entry will be divided into bullet points, so that readers can see the big picture relatively quickly but can also click on an individual point to get more depth and argument. The idea is to create a lot of room for rich, nuanced discussions without completely overwhelming the reader at first glance.
This approach seems particularly well suited for political issues, and Fine says politics are an obvious focus for an election year like this one. But in the long-term, he says Opposing Views will be broader than that, and will cover “everything that consumers are interested in.”