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Time, issue, position, argument, evidence, source, authority

(Redirected from IPA)

Time/issue/position/argument/evidence/source/authority (or TIPAESA) is an all-purpose way to organize arguments. It is generally followed in Talk pages, abbreviated and informal.

Time is the basic organizing scheme. If the list is prescriptive like an agenda, then events are scheduled for times in the future. If the list is descriptive like meeting minutes (based on that agenda but deviating from it in whatever way) or Talk files, then generally it's a log from past into present. Keeping files, e.g. board meetings, in one form from future agenda to past minutes, and giving them one consistent name from proposal to ultimate review, makes it easy to refer to them elsewhere.

An issue is something that did or will come up at a point in time. If it keeps recurring, it is cyclic, and will appear multiple times on a linear time scale, and is important to resolve or limit early to avoid escalating out of control. Non-obvious issues that are detected only after many concrete issues are observed in the later timeline, should become earlier, abstract, issues... within reason.

A position is a prescriptive statement about an action to be taken, policy or limit to be set. It 'draws the line somewhere'. Typically there will be more than one position on an issue. If not, the issue may not even been an issue, and documenting it may be a matter of form, or simply complicating things. Generally, a dissent creates two positions: majority and minority, and an issue that they disagree on. So timelines fork into time/issue/positions from time alone.

An argument is a 'reason why' a position is valid. Normally a sentence that includes the word 'because' has a position in front of it, and an argument after it, i.e. "You shouldn't be President of the United States BECAUSE You're a moron". In this statement, "You shouldn't be President of the United States" is a position, and "You're a moron" is an argument that validates that position. In general, facts are arguments, and facts are conceivably disprovable by tests. Positions without arguments are generally relying on some widely shared source or authority (See below).

A piece of evidence is some relatively objective output of a test or trial or some 'smoking gun' that is generally acceptable as evidence of the argument. This means more or less what it means legally.

A source is a documented compilation of evidence, e.g. a history book, a peer-reviewed journal, or something. It can also be a person in popular parlance, but in general it's better to refer to a person as an:

Authority is a person who's bet their reputation or body on the source being accurate, i.e. they are its author, they take risks if it is 'wrong'. A position sometimes is acceptable as valid simply because of authority without any argument, evidence, or source. This is the case in Talk files, mostly, as everyone is assumed to have a right to speak, and signatures are included. An anonymous party who provides argument/evidence/source in depth, however, has as much influence or more as someone known as an authority who signs their name, and this is an important way to remove en:groupthink from group discussions.


The IPA or issue/position/argument or issue/policy/argument format is the minimal subset of TIPAESA form to be used when:

  • there is no deadline or time horizon applying, e.g. the issues aren't on a meeting agenda for resolution any time soon, or may not be amenable to any single decision
  • the arguments are loose and not well stated enough to have specific evidence attached, or the relevance of the evidence has yet to be established, or no authority exists to 'admit' it
  • no one has expressed any concerns about the source or authority behind the evidence

If people begin to dispute evidence, or if the issue must be resolved decisively by a certain time or deadline, or before some other event can happen, then the IPA form is easy to expand to TIPAESA form.

IPA form is used on many political wikis to accomodate multiple point of view.