MyDebates encourages political discussion — and MySpace membership

MySpace has launched a new site called MyDebates, which has apparently been blessed by the Commission on Presidential Debates as “the official online companion to the 2008 presidential debates.” It’s a place for MySpace users and others to watch the debates, as well as learn more about the candidates and get more involved in the election process.

Social networking site MySpace is hardly the first site to take advantage of the excitement about the November election. Google, for example, has an election gadget that lets you track news about the candidates and races that you’re interested in. Youth voting initiative Rock the Vote already announced a partnership with MySpace, and is also enabling voter registration via Microsoft’s Xbox Live gaming community.

MyDebates offers a fun, accessible interface — it’s friendly enough that I can at least imagine potential voters who are otherwise overwhelmed or uninformed using the site to figure out whether they support Barack Obama or John McCain. Features include live video of the debates, a map of which users support which candidates in which states and even an option to submit questions to debate moderator Tom Brokaw. On the downside, although anyone can use the site, it constantly pesters you to sign up for a MySpace account.

Perhaps the best starting point on MyDebates is the “issue quiz,” which asks you questions about a wide variety of topics, then tells you which candidate you agree with on each of them. And when you’re done, you have an embeddable widget that lets your friends know your opinions. My widget is below. (As with all polls, the cookie-cutter positions described in the widget don’t always match my positions perfectly.) I guess I am leaning a bit in one direction …


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