Harvards project on Online Deliberation and Discourse seems very relevant. Some good thoughts about ideal features of discourse software.
To promote effective deliberation, both the topic and the timeline for discussion should be announced at the start of the discourse. When the deadline nears, the discussion should move into a stage where members deliberate on proposals. During this period, it is essential that members on both sides of the issue attempt to see it from their opponent’s perspective. The very nature of deliberative discourse is to attempt to evaluate all arguments—including those to which you are initially opposed—and evaluate them only on the relative strength of their arguments. The Berkman Center has developed in-house “rotisserie” software which could be integrated in some form into discourse software. This system forces participants to comment on proposals which they may be opposed to, as a means of promoting understanding of different viewpoints. First, a question is posed to all group participants. Participants answer the question, then send their responses back to the server, where they are “shuffled” and sent back to participants. Participants then read the response and submit a critique of that response back to the server. This forces participants not only to explicate their views, but also critique the views of others. As such, it would be an ideal feature of discourse software.