Standards of Conduct for Debates

Because our democracy depends on it

These Standards of Conduct for Debates provide a framework through which we can model and revive the spirit of civility. The standards are for all candidates for public office, (including local, regional, state and national candidates), for moderators and for the audience. From our local school boards to our presidential nominees, these standards help explain the manner and respect that we all should abide by – even if and when we disagree.

Join us in telling debaters, audiences, and moderators to uphold these standards, and in agreeing to utilize the citizen standards in your everyday interactions.

Sign our petition asking the Presidential debate moderators to adopt these standards for the upcoming debates

Download the Debate Civility Scorecards to help monitor the conduct of candidates and moderators

View organizations that have signed on in support of these standards

Become a Citizen for Reviving Civility! #ReviveCivility



  1. • Be respectful of other audience members, the candidates and moderators in speech and behavior
  2. • Refrain from creating disturbances to other audience members, candidates and moderators
  3. • Take responsibility for personal behavior, speech and actions
  4. • Speak against incivility by reminding candidates it is not acceptable
  5. • Practice active listening when someone else is speaking, seeking to understand them 



  • • Be respectful of others in speech and behavior
  • • Answer the question being asked by the moderator
  • • Make ideas and feelings known without disrespecting others
  • • Take responsibility for past and present behavior, speech and actions
  • • Stand against incivility when faced with it



  1. • Address uncivil behavior by naming it and moderating the conversation to move toward a more respectful dialogue
  2. • Enforce debate rules equally
  3. • Hold candidates accountable by challenging each candidate to speak the truth and act with integrity
  4. • Treat all candidates equally in regards to the complexity of questions and debate rules
  5. • Be respectful when interacting with candidates