Bennett Eckert ParadigmLast changed 4/14 9:23P UTC
Updated for ETOC 2020.
In the fall, I'll be a PhD student in philosophy at MIT.
I coach Greenhill. I am conflicted from ETHS and Harrison.
Things to know
 I do not flow author names.
 I will not vote for exceptionally bad theory arguments. Exceptionally bad arguments include but are not limited to: "neg may only make 2 arguments," "must spec CP status in speech," "must read an explicit standard text," "must contest the aff framework," and "must spec what you meant when you said 'competing interps.'" By contrast, arguments that are fair game are CP theory, plans good/bad, some spec args, AFC good/bad, etc. Good theory debates are awesome and fun to judge and strategic theory is fine, but theory debates about arguments this bad are honestly just not worth my time.
 I value explanation a lot. I vote aff in a lot of debates in which the neg goes for a ton of arguments, each of which could be a winning 2NR but end up getting very under-explained. I have also voted for a lot of debaters whose evidence is not amazing but who give very good explanations/spin for that evidence.
 I am unlikely to be convinced that something categorically outweighs something else (e.g. .01% risk of extinction outweighs, fairness outweighs everything no matter what, etc.). Your weighing arguments should be contextual/comparative.
 I really enjoy good T, policy-style, theory, and K v. policy aff debates. I think that most "phil" positions are bad philosophy and bad for debate. I like philosophy, but "phil" in LD is not that. I think that many "phil" positions just straight up do not have a warrant and if I do not think that an argument has a warrant, I will not vote for it.
 I have voted for T/framework against K affs more often than I have voted against it. When I vote neg in T/FW debates, I normally vote on skills-type impacts and topic education impacts, and I almost never vote on "fairness is an intrinsic good." When I vote aff in these debates, I normally think that the aff has done something to mitigate the neg's impact (e.g. a counter-interpretation that solves, link/impact defense) and won a good-size piece of offense for their counter-interpretation. I think the aff in these debates needs to have a counter-interpretation and should prove that that counter-interpretation is better than the neg interpretation.
 I don't really understand most "high theory" arguments (Baudrillard, Bataille, Deleuze, etc.). The bar for explanation is pretty high.
 I am very unlikely to vote on a "risk of offense" argument on theory. The debater initiating theory has to generate a real/substantial advantage to their interpretation that I could describe without using the term "risk of offense".
 “Reasonability” means to me that the person answering theory need only meet a “reasonable” interpretation, rather than the optimal interpretation. “Reasonability” does not mean to me: “evaluate just whether our particular aff should be allowed,” “only demonstrated/in-round/whatever-you-call-it abuse matters,” or “we may ‘reasonably meet their interpretation.’”
I think that reasonability is most persuasive against theory arguments with a very small impact. The best arguments for reasonability argue that requiring debaters’ practices to meet a certain (reasonable) standard, rather than requiring them to meet the optimal standard, produces the best debates. Generic “competing interps is bad” arguments are not great args for reasonability.
 Please slow down on theory arguments, especially if you don't put them on their own pages.
 I'm not interested in listening to call-outs of or jabs at other schools, debaters, coaches, etc. E.g. I don't want to hear "[School X] always does this!" or "Of course [Debater Y] is going for [Argument A]!"
 You cannot "insert highlighting" or a list of what the aff defends. If either the warrant in a card is given by a chart/table or you want to insert a very long list, then you should at least describe what the chart/table says or identify the source of the list, what it's a list of, and that you'll defend it (respectively).
 I quickly get lost in debates that use the word "fiat" a lot. I don't think that the terms "pre-fiat" and "post-fiat" are very illuminating; it's not clear to me what they mean in most contexts or what the significance of supposed distinction between "pre-" and "post-fiat" is supposed to be. I also think that using the word "fiat" as a verb is obfuscatory in a lot of contexts; it's not clear to me that "fiatting" an action is anything over and above just saying that someone should do it. Relatedly, I don't think that "truth-testing" means the aff doesn't have to defend fiat or implementation. (This is largely because I don't know what "truth-testing" does to sidestep the justification for fiat, which comes from the word "ought" in the resolution.)
 Framework on both sides in K debates is often under-developed. K 2NR's that include a robust framework argument and explanation of how that includes the neg impacts and excludes weighing the case make it much easier to vote neg. Similarly, 2AR's on the K that include robust "exclusive plan focus good" or "let us weigh the case + case outweighs" arguments make it much easier to vote aff. When neither side clearly labels and develops a framework argument, I find it very difficult to piece these debates together/determine what each side thinks I should be evaluating in the debate.
 What is up with this sending cards in the body of the email thing? It is fine in principle to send cards in the body of the email. But if your opponent asks you to send them in a document instead, then you need to take your prep time to compile and send a speech doc (or if you are out of prep time, you should start your speech time to compile + send the doc).
Things About Cheating
 I think that evidence ethics matters regardless of whether an argument/ethics challenge is raised in the debate. If I notice that a piece of evidence is miscut, I will vote against the debater who reads the miscut evidence.
I think that a piece of evidence is miscut if:
it starts and/or ends in the middle of a sentence or paragraph.
text is missing from the middle of the card (replacing that text with an ellipsis does not make it okay),
the next paragraph or another part of the article explicitly contradicts the argument/claim made in the card,
the card is highlighted in a way that modifies or does not accurately represent the author’s claim [Be careful with brackets - I don’t think they always mean a card is miscut, but I’ve seen that they very often do. I think that brackets, more often than not, are bad - if a bracket changes the strength of a claim made by the author, or in some other way changes the *meaning* of the evidence, it is miscut] [also, I think that highlighting only part of a word is the same as bracketing - if you highlight only part of a word, then the word you read is not what the author wrote],
the cite lists the wrong author or article title (I hope to decide 0 debates this year on citations - I’ll only decide debates on them without challenges in the most egregious cases).
If I decide a debate on evidence ethics, I will let the debate finish as normal. If the debate is a prelim, I will decide speaks based on the content of the debate and subtract two speaker points from the debater that I vote against. If the debate is an elim, I will submit my ballot and won’t say anything about my decision until the debate is announced.
If both sides read miscut evidence, I will vote against the debater who read miscut evidence first. (I really don’t love this as a way to evaluate these debates, but the only comparable scenario that I can think of is clipping, and that’s how I would resolve those debates.)
I do not plan to go out of my way looking for miscut evidence or checking to see whether every card is cut correctly. If I do notice that something is miscut, I will vote against the debater who reads it regardless of whether a challenge is made.
Please do not hesitate to ask questions about this before the debate.
 If a debater says that a piece of evidence is miscut in round and their opponent clarifies that they are making an "evidence ethics challenge" (and the former person confirms that they want to make a challenge), the debate ends. I will read all of the relevant stuff and then make a decision. Whoever is correct on the evidence ethics challenge wins the debate. The loser will get the lowest speaks I can give.
In lieu of an evidence ethics challenge, I am also ok with asking your opponent to just strike the cards from the doc/cross them off the flow in cx and have the rest of the debate but calling a challenge if they refuse to do so (this is noble but not required). You could also make arguments about why misquoting is bad, but I'm compelled by a response that basically says "call an ethics challenge or don't make the argument; we'll stake the debate on it." Indeed, I think that if you make an evidence ethics argument, you should be willing to stake the debate on it. If you don't stake the round on it, you'll still win (if they committed the evidence ethics violation), but your speaks will be worse than they otherwise would have been.
 Clipping is cheating! I read along with most cards, and if I notice that someone is clipping, I'll vote against them and give them the lowest speaks that I can give. I will not stop the debate unless a challenge is made, but if I notice clipping, I will vote on it regardless of whether a challenge is made. For clipping challenges, I'll follow the same procedure that I follow with evidence ethics (above). A similar procedure that might be helpful to look at is written out more formulaically in the NDCA guidelines: <https://static.squarespace.com/static/53416a18e4b0aa2aaadf85e4/t/53665f81e4b03af4b79e088f/1399218049326/clipping.pdf>. (The NDCA guidelines say that clipping has to be at least 5 words, but that seems to me like too many. Skipping ~3 words is definitely clipping, and skipping fewer (i.e. 1-2) is also bad and potentially a VI!)
Things I Won't Vote On
Oppression good (if you concede that your position entails that oppression is good, then your position is that oppression is good)
Awful theory args
I will give speaks based on how well I think you should do at the tournament. I also give higher speaks to reward strategies and arguments that I think are good/enjoyable to listen to/generally fun.
Here's a rough scale of how I'll give speaks:
30 = you should win everything. I've given one 30 and one 29.9. I would have given a 30 to the person to whom I gave a 29.9 if they had put topicality in the 1NC.
29.5-29.9 = you should be in late elims
29-29.5 = you should clear
28.5-29 = you should be on the bubble
27.5-28.5 = average
26.5-27.5 = you made some important strategic errors/lacked a clear strategy
<26.5 = I found something about this debate very annoying
Average speaks by tournament this year (note that some of the lower numbers here are slightly misleading because they include 25's for clipping and low speaks for evidence ethics):
St. Mark's: 28.36
Apple Valley: 27.85
Just disclose, ok? If you don't meet some minimum threshold for disclosure (the Greenhill tournament disclosure policy requires what I consider the minimum acceptable disclosure) and your opponent reads disclosure theory, then you're going to lose.
The aff must tell the neg what aff they're going to read unless it's a new aff.
At the Greenhill RR/tournament I am going to adjudicate disputes about the disclosure policy exclusively on the basis of who I think is correct. Both debaters can say their piece/explain the situation but I will not decide these disputes "on the flow." To be clear, I'll still evaluate arguments like "must disclose full text/open source/etc." like other normal theory arguments. But I will decide disputes about the disclosure policy such as those about: lying about what the aff said, whether someone didn't disclose tags/cites/whatever, whether someone waited too long to disclose, etc. based on what I think about the disclosure policy. I will not listen to debates about whether the disclosure policy matters/how it's worded/whether your school doesn't have a wiki (you should have foreseen this problem)/how bad the wifi is/etc. If you have questions about how I interpret the disclosure policy, feel free to ask me whenever.
The wiki goes down every year during the Greenhill tournament. When it does, both debaters should make an effort to contact each other to disclose.
People that have influenced my views on debate