I mean, I don't care much either way but... can't there just be some kind of way to take Debates off-site or something? It wouldn't be deleting it because I do feel it is important to have. Instead, someone clicks on the debates section and they get ported to a similar looking site but isn't actually connected to YCM (as in, the threads there don't show up under recent topics here, etc.).
In terms of how things would work from there: political and divisive topics on YCM would be heavily moderated (as in, they have to stay under extremely strict guidelines), BUT in exchange, the sub-site would be much more lax in terms of moderation.
Would require linking Debates elsewhere, and that's more work for the staff members to set up and moderate. Easier option is just crack down on Debates stuff outside its intended area here. However, it requires that the team actually do something about keeping Debates stuff where it should be.
It could be beneficial in keeping this site lighter while it gives those people who actively post in debates a greater amount of freedom in a different form (which, from what I understand, is a concern?)
The "freedom" thing is tied to members feeling that our presence doesn't allow for actual debates (i.e. see complaints in other thread). Or moreso, the team doesn't go into / post in the section so we know nothing about how things turn out in the section and/or butt in when it's not called for.
Basically, let Debates users have their discussions and whatnot without the staff interfering.
Debates has a set of rules in place for the purpose of maintaining civility when having debates; just follow them, don't engage in personal attacks/name calling and you won't have the team coming in to scold people.
Regarding statuses (I mean, I don't use 'em much so I don't exactly know how they're being used to promote debates), they could be used to give the topic title of said debate and a link to take you to the debate thread itself. Rather than putting your own opinion in your status, you leave your own thoughts within the thread and simply promote the thread itself so people can see it and - if they're interested - respond to it (in-thread of course, not in the status).
Mostly bringing up topics that should be in Debates, given nature.
Responses are in bold/italics.
Honestly the more I think about the issue with debates the more I feel the section does need a dedicated moderator. Someone willing to remain impartial and willing to deal with the types of toxicity that the section can generate. I know we've done away with section moderators but this is certainly an area where it is worth reconsidering that stance. Even if we can't find someone who would be a good fit for the section we really do need to hammer out a rules system that kills any toxicity before it has had any chance to really generate. The most obvious being harsh warnings and temporary bans from posting in the section.
I would probably suggest you weigh in on the proposal that was mentioned in the mod area then, as a sample warn scale has been made. Look it over and see if it requires work or it's suitable for the area.