How would you build a personal "kialo" tree of points & counter-points on a topic?

A couple years ago, I discovered the website and the way they organize points and counter-points in a debate or discussion was exactly what I’d been craving for expressing my own thought process on things. I’m the type that is always debating with myself, thinking about multiple sides of an issue, weighing the pros and cons…and each “yay” or “nay” argument opens up its own series of “yeah buts” lol

Kialo’s format is like a growing tree of all the points and counter-points anyone offers, which gives the reader a nice map of the different sides and perspectives around an issue.

I’d love to put some of my own internal debates with myself on “paper” in Obsidian.


Ohh this is interesting! I’m trying it now but am initially concerned that there isn’t a way to join multiple earlier claims together. (or did i miss that?)

I was thinking about how to do something like this in Obsidian too. It consists mainly of making sure you distinguish your notes between objective facts and your thoughts. Then ensuring that each thought is based on a fact, or an earlier thought.

more details here: Obsidian for making sense of things | by Ensley Tan | Jul, 2022 | Medium


Thanks for sharing this.

I have been unknowingly looking for this for sometime now.

I am definitely invested in figuring out a close replica of this in Obsidian.


i appreciated that article…more stuff for me to chew on in my quest to figure out the best way i should approach this app lol

also, good point about joining multiple earlier claims

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thank you! Yeah figuring out how to do something similar in Obsidian would be so cool.

For some broader context: Kialo is an example of a class of software sometimes called computer-supported argument visualization (CSAV) software, which includes argument mapping software, and is part of the field called argument technology.

The original question above could be rephrased more generally as “How would you do argument visualization in Obsidian?” And the answers to that question could be seen as having two parts:

  1. the data model or semantic model that you use to organize the data, i.e., the “argument ontology” as ontology engineers would call it, and
  2. the visualization technique or visual form that you use to visualize the data.

You don’t have to think about those two parts in that order; you may decide on a visual form first, and then look for a data model that fits, or vice versa. Either way, it would be a good idea first to make a list of requirements that you would like your system to meet and to look at a variety of existing options.


Regarding data models, one major decision you would need to make is whether you are storing the data that you want to visualize in a single note or in multiple notes.

  1. If you want to store data in one note, you may want to write using the Argdown syntax and visualize using the Argdown plugin.
  2. If you want to store the data in multiple notes (one idea per note), then you will have more flexibility in designing your own argument ontology, and you even have a choice of visualization plugins: Juggl or Excalibrain. Also potentially helpful are the Supercharged Links plugin (for displaying icons for different note types in lists of links) and (as mentioned in @ens’s blog post above) the Breadcrumbs, Dataview, and Graph Analysis plugins.

At present, I use Dataview and Breadcrumbs to categorize and collect all notes that inform a particular topic.


I think the same plugins and codes can be used for structuring arguments too.

I’ll elaborate later.


@Expeditioner: The Breadcrumbs plugin has big potential for argument visualization. In particular, I noticed that the “Breadcrumbs Visualization” panel has a menu with different visualization types, one of which is “Sunburst”, which is the type of circular visualization that Kialo uses on the front page of each debate topic. The sunburst visualization does not (yet) work in my installation of Breadcrumbs, but if you can get it to work, then the combination of the Breadcrumbs sidebar matrix and sunburst visualization basically gives you a personal Kialo. You just need to supply the argument model via note tags and typed links and edit the Breadcrumbs settings to match.

@Stardacus-Captain: If you are interested in producing a Kialo-style color-coded sunburst visualization, you could experiment with color-coding links using the Supercharged Links plugin, and if that does not work together with the sunburst visualization in Breadcrumbs, you might contact the developer of Breadcrumbs and submit a feature request for a “stylable” sunburst visualization?

Kialo seems to have a simple argument model consisting of a single thesis/position supported or opposed (iteratively) by pros and cons, but one could add other types of nodes/notes to the model. For example, another simple argument model called issue-based information system (IBIS) or issue mapping, adds a type of node called issue/question, and allows issues, positions, pros, and cons to be networked according to simple rules. Another potentially useful type of node is evidence, which can be used to separate the pros and cons from their supporting evidence. IBIS was discussed in a previous topic that may provide inspiration: Tips for making an issue-based information system.

One of the screenshots posted above by @Expeditioner mentions the five whys method, which is easy implement in IBIS notation, where the five whys would just be a chain of nodes: questionanswerquestionanswer → (etc.).

Here is my template for each argument. I recommend using these plugins: Templater, Dataview, and Better Inline Fields:

<sub>Type:: <%tp.system.suggester(["Reality-based", "Ideal-based"], ["Reality-based", "Ideal-based"]) %></sub>

List where contains(reason,[[]])
Unintended consequence::
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Very interesting post!
Thank you for providing the template :slight_smile:
@Ooker Could you tell a abit more about your setup?

I need some more questions to know where should I begin. Can you give some?