Matthew Feng ParadigmLast changed 9/23 1:27A EDT
I competed for four years for Plano West Senior High School mainly in Public Forum and Extemporaneous Speaking, currently debate in college in British Parliamentary, have judged at a reasonable amount of national tournaments in the past three years (mostly along the east coast), and help out both Plano West and Dalton. Last year (2016-17), I was affiliated with Plano West and Flanagan.
Look, I don't think that I judge particularly differently from other judges - I think that I am open to evaluating all arguments but have different thresholds for evaluating certain types of arguments. I like consistency and really appreciate weighing. There are some particulars that I've listed below that have been commonplace in debate over the past few years, but here is the top-down:
I'll look for the path of least resistance for my ballot - that means giving me proper extensions of arguments (i.e. warrant and impact extension in both the summary and final focus) as well as a framework under which I can evaluate them. What's really important is that I really, really want you to weigh. I can't discern which of ten poorly weighed arguments is more important, but I can easily vote on one argument that is presented as the most important in the round. If I am not presented with a way to weigh, I would default to my own intuitions, but for your sake, you should do the weighing for me so you don't leave the round vehemently disagreeing with my decision (which, to be clear, would be because of your absence of weighing).
Technical Idiosyncrasies: The main questions I get are about the obligations of each speech. I'm fine with anything. In general, I think that if the second rebuttal goes back to frontline their case (which by no means is required by me), then the first summary is then required to extend defense on the relevant parts of the flow that were defended by the second speaker on the second speaking team. That means that the first speaking team does not necessarily need to extend defense in the summary if the second speaking team did not do that in their rebuttal. That said, I think that my flow is not perfect and that everything is a signaling effect - if you choose to still make an extension of some defense in the first summary, it will show to me that that's clearly important, and it will be easier for me to follow you in the round.
Rebuttal DAs: I'm not a huge fan of these - I think that they can be super blippy and also, particularly in the second rebuttal, are quite abusive. I don't know how I would handle these, but I think a fair expectation you can have is, if the round is at all close, I would assign less importance to these arguments and would be hesitant to vote on these.
Theory/T/Ks: I think there is a place in PF for them, but I think that a vast majority of instances in which these arguments are read, they are poorly fleshed out or misapplied (e.g. reading NIBs Bad when the arguments aren't NIBs). In those instances, I will have an absurdly low threshold for accepting a response to the argument, but I don't want this to deter you from reading these arguments if you think your opponents genuinely are perpetrating some egregious abuse or if you think that the round is important for a specific message. That said, I would proceed with caution about reading these arguments.
Speaks: I try to follow the scale for the tournament. That being said, I think that speaks are a good way for me to express appreciation or disapproval for things that might not be reflected by a binary win/loss, such as being cordial and maybe making the round more fun. Additionally, I think that particularly interesting, smart, or strategic arguments/decisions in the round will also cause me to give you better speaks (the converse of this is that if you are reading baseless arguments, I might still reward you with the win if you're ahead on the flow by a considerable margin, but I probably would give you comparatively lower speaks).
Jargon: I'm not a big fan of jargon - I think I probably get a vast majority of it, but I think that a lot of jargon is misapplied. In general, explaining something in plain terms will increase the probability that I understand your argument, so it's in your interest to do that. One thing in particular that I really don't get is this new 'uniqueness controls the direction of the link' or something - like I am pretty sure I get it, but just use real words.
Speed: Proceed with caution. I think that I can keep up with briskness and can catch most things said at faster paces, but keep in mind that my experiences and relative understanding of speed are based on Public Forum. In this event, neither you nor I should have to ever feel as though we are going too fast.
Evidence: I think that debaters should be unafraid of me calling for evidence. I'll call it if I'm told to call it explicitly, but I think it's also reasonable for me to call something that plays a significant role in the round that may sound too good to be true or to call clashing evidence when there is no resolution in the round. I wouldn't hesitate to vote on an evidence violation if it's particularly egregious, and often times when I find something is being misconstrued, it's a piece of evidence that was important for a key argument anyway. But I think what you should make sure of is that your evidence is at least generally solid and that your portrayal is consistent with the original intent.
Crossfire: I'm not going to lie, I spend crossfire on a lot of different things. Sometimes I'll listen, in other instances I'll use it to fill out the ballot (i.e. write comments to debaters), other times I'll think hard about the round and the prior speech, and yet other times I will probably use it unproductively. But in all instances, I won't be listening particularly deeply to crossfire, and you should definitely not consider an argument made in crossfire as something that has registered to me on the flow. I sometimes will pick up on things said in crossfire but not always, and that consideration should guide your decisions.
If any questions still remain, feel free to ask me before the round.