Eh, I think it's pretty good where it is. The nature of the beast is that things invariably get heated, and it's far from reflective of the wider community here - we wouldn't want new folks getting bad impressions. I have no issue with it being somewhat tucked away, I think we risk traffic from people who may not be natural Serebii-ites otherwise.
Not that I don't think the debate forum needs an overhaul in other ways...
If the debate forum is something we have to hide for fear of bad impressions, it should just be nuked.
What do you mean by natural serebii-ites? Do you mean people just browsing and registering for the sole purpose of debating a single topic? That's not necessarily bad: even accounts created on impulse have the possibility of becoming long term contributors.
It doesn't need nuking - I broadly agree with the guidance that the mature nature begets a different tone. Do we want that to be the tone that potentially reflects the whole forum though? I do think it needs to kept quite distinct.
On the second point: yes, that's what I was getting at. I think it depends on what traffic you want to drive and what you want the focus of the forums to be. I know of other forums which actually restricted miscellaneous topics to more established members as a pseudo-guarantee of quality - impulse accounts may not be committed to the long-term health of what is ultimately a Pokémon forum.
I guess I'm not really sure how the debate forum being two or three finger clicks away versus one click away saves the site that much reputation. Besides, I don't think it's all bad. I mean, yes there are trash debaters but I think their volume and impact is being a bit exaggerated. I don't think it's fair to judge a section by its worst, otherwise we might have to hide a few more forums. Shipping and clubs come to mind, does anyone remember the Pokephillia club? Haha.
GrizzlyB made a post awhile back that I think is relevant here. Bad activity>No activity
Smart people frustrated arguing with dumb people is still going to produce something more worthwhile than smart people agreeing with eachother. Bad posts and bad debaters can simply be dealt with by momoderation. Sure, it's extra busy work but if it's really that much of a pain I'm sure they could find some poor sucker to volunteer.