My kids keep making fun of me for my paradigm being too long so I decided to make a shorter updated version, but I'll leave the old stuff on the bottom for posterity. All the stuff I say in the old essay is still true unless it contradicts something written up here. Updated 12/22/2019. (Update 2: Apparently even in my short version I’m super verbose so I’ll give you a super cliff notes as well).
-Put me on the email chain but I flow off your speech.
-Warrants are super important, and I won’t vote on arguments without them.
-More impact comparison, no matter what kind of debate you do.
-Everything is fine, and I’m a lot better judge for neg FW than I used to be.
-Go for theory and T more.
-Don’t be shifty or mean.
-Zero risk is possible and defense can be terminal, but it often isn’t.
Paradigm, Short(er) Edition:
-Email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Put me on the email chain please, though I won't read along outside of curiosity etc. reasons. I flow based on the words I hear, not what's in your document. This means clarity is of utmost importance. I'll say clear up to three times, but if I don't hear an argument the onus is on you. My hearing is also apparently not as good as it once was so this is crucial. It also means if you want me to flow a rehighlighting, you have to actually read the important stuff.
-I'll vote on anything (with the exceptions of racism good, etc.) as long as it's warranted and impacted out. However, arguments do consist of a claim, a warrant, and an impact. If your argument doesn't contain a warrant I won't vote on it and I'll give the other team pretty much infinite leeway on answering it in later speeches. My threshold for blippiness is going up and, from recent panel results, is probably higher than your average judge's. When in doubt, explain.
-While I think I've developed a reputation as a K judge and coach, I'm definitely getting more middle of the road the more I judge, and I think my record in recent framework rounds is near 50-50 or even slightly favoring the team reading framework. I find fairness is usually least persuasive when gone for as an impact of its own, and most persuasive as an internal link to other impacts. The arguments I find most compelling when going for neg framework have to do with the educational value of beginning with the USFG as a starting point or of switching sides as pedagogy. Impact comparison is paramount in these debates and I usually vote for the team who does the most of it.
-Because it bears repeating, impact comparison is paramount. I find one of the most common post-round comments I give to be "there could have been more impact work," whether it's a T debate, FW debate, or DA/case. I would always err on the side of more.
-I love tricky and creative arguments but if your strategy relies on shiftiness and deceit I'm probably not the judge for you. This means if your cxes consist of a lot of "we don't have to answer that" or other forms of question dodging I will be greatly displeased. A good rule of thumb to follow: if truthfully answering questions about your argument hurts you strategically, you probably just shouldn't make that argument.
-I find it funny when judges say "I have a general predisposition against violence" or stuff like that then go on to vote on heg good in half their rounds. I too am predisposed against violence but if your argument includes advocating for violent revolution or whatever to me that's no different (and probably more morally defensible) than advocating for US empire. It's almost like certain forms of violence are naturalized and camouflaged to maintain the supremacy of whiteness and the global liberal order... That said I'll vote on heg good too and will try my best to counteract my personal bias against such.
-Affs should be reading and going for way more theory and negs should be going for way more T (at least in front of me). I find teams these days are getting away with the most ridiculously abusive counterplans and affs because everyone's too scared to go for theory against them.
-Most of all, have fun! Debate as an educational space is great and important but I'd rather have enjoyable debates bereft of educational value than educational debates that everyone hates. You only have 4-8 years on average to enjoy this strange and wonderful activity, and I want everyone to make the most of it and not just look back on their debate careers with ressentiment.
Quick LD cheat sheet for Apple Valley:
-I judge/coach policy mainly but judge a couple LD tournaments a year, and have judged multiple bid rounds, RRs, etc. in LD
-Anything goes: tricks, Ks, value/criterion, LARP, whatever. As a former philosophy major, I'm pretty familiar with all major moral theories that get used in phil debates and I judge a lot of K debates in policy so I shouldn't have a problem with whatever you read
-Depth>breadth in terms of argument development. I'm more likely to vote on well-developed arguments that are answered than dropped blips, although I will vote on the dropped blips occasionally as well.
-The one thing I ask is that you SLOW DOWN ON THEORY, maybe by about 20-30%. Any other argument you're fine going full-speed but my tiny policy brain can't flow LD theory at 300 wpm so if you want me to flow your arguments, slow down a bit.
-I'm not gonna disclose speaks, sorry. I get this is seemingly a norm in circuit LD so maybe I just need to adjust the way I think about this but it makes me fairly uncomfortable do so.
What do I need to know?
I'm the varsity policy coach for West Des Moines Valley for my 3rd (non-consecutive) year now, and in the past I debated for Des Moines Roosevelt and the University of Iowa. I just graduated from Grinnell College with a degree in Philosophy and Gender Studies. Over my first two years of coaching I ended up judging 70 or so rounds a year, mostly at bid-level tournaments.
Do what you want, within the reasonable guidelines of not being racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, and so on. I believe that debate is an activity for the debaters, and while I consider my role as judge to be that of an educator, the educational model I follow is one which is substantially less horizontal than traditional ones, in that I think my job as judge is to learn from you, as well as hopefully encourage and strengthen your competitive abilities.
There aren't any arguments outside of the parameters established earlier that I either won't or haven't voted on, and I'm down to hear whatever you enjoy most and are best at. What I find most disappointing while judging is when I see competitors who seem actively disengaged from the round for whatever reason, and as such I think I should facilitate enjoyment of the round by encouraging you to read and do whatever makes you happy.
With that said, here are my thoughts and presuppositions about specific arguments. All of them can be changed and I will always prefer arguments made within the debate to my thoughts outside of that round, but these are my "defaults" that I will revert to absent arguments to the contrary:
Top Level Stuff:
- Tech over truth but tech is guided by and generally adheres to the "truth," whatever that may be. In other words, I'll evaluate the round based off the flow and the arguments made in round, but determining which argument wins in a technical debate is something which is limited by, or at least shaped by, the truth of those arguments. "Global warming causes extinction" and "Global warming prevents an ice age, which causes extinction" are both viable arguments in a debate round, but the former is going to be easier to win because it is more in line with reality.
- On that note, dropped arguments are true arguments but an argument consists of a claim, a warrant, and an implication (impact). If you say that your opponent dropped X arg so you win the debate, that may be true, but you still need to explain why X arg wins you the debate. One of the things that is most frequently missing from high school policy rounds is the impacting of conceded arguments, and this often presents major difficulties to my ability to evaluate the debate, especially in messy rounds where both teams drop arguments all over the flow. If you want an easy way to win (and get good speaker points) make sure you are explaining not only that your opponent has dropped your arguments, but also what it means that they have dropped your arguments. All of the above is of course true in the case of contested arguments as well, but I find the implication debate appears a lot more naturally in those circumstances.
- Do as much as you can get away with. Again, everything here is just my personal bias or default, and just because I say I don't like or disagree with an argument doesn't mean you shouldn't make it or read it.
- "Zero risk" is certainly possible but often unlikely. What I mean by this is that if the neg says "The plan leads to an increase in hair loss, and warming causes extinction" and the aff says "No link--no warranted reason the aff leads to hair loss and no internal link between hair loss and warming," I'm not going to decide that since the aff only made defensive arguments that there's "only a risk" of the DA occurring. Smart defensive arguments (including and sometimes especially analytics) can take out entire disads and advantages, but if they're not terminal I am going to be more susceptible to "only a risk" logic.
- I love a good impact turn debate (who doesn't?) and find they're often the most strategic option given that your opponents' evidence about their aff or DA or whatever is often (and probably even should be) better than your cards to answer it.
- Impact comparison is obviously crucial but it seems a lot of debaters forget the comparison part of the phrase. If your overview is just "our impact is big, fast, and probable" you've done the first step, now explain why your impact is bigger, faster, and more probable. Even more astute debaters will attempt to evaluate which of those metrics they are most likely to be winning, and then make arguments as to why I should prefer that one; e.g. "magnitude before timeframe" and so on.
- Most politics theory arguments are, in fact, garbage, but I will happily assign zero risk to the disad if they're conceded. Just because it's a bad argument doesn't mean you shouldn't have to answer it (which is a metric that is, in general, true for how I evaluate debates).
- My personal bias is that most process counterplans, consult, and so on, are generally cheating because they are A. usually marginally competitive at best and B. steal a lot of aff ground. If you're aff you should almost certainly be reading theory against these arguments, and if you're neg you should be prepared to defend them. All that said, I think "cheating" counterplans are usually a great strategic choice because they steal aff ground and because most aff teams aren't prepared to extend theory in the face of your 15-point 1NR block, so if you have them, it's probably wise to read them. Again, do as much as you can get away with.
- I generally really like PICs on the other hand, with the obvious caveat that the more well-researched and specific to the aff they are the better.
- The common thread between these two presuppositions is that I generally believe the best counterplans are those with a specific solvency advocate that distinguishes them from the aff. What the bar for this solvency advocate is is a matter of debate, but the more contextualized to the aff your cp is the less likely you are to lose it to theory.
- I'll judge kick for you, but only if you tell me to and the aff doesn't tell me you can't. The "logical policymaker" in me thinks the squo should always be an option, but the "debate is a game" person tells me this is bad for the aff, so just make an argument why I should/shouldn't do so if the aff ends up being worse than the CP
- The link debate is probably the most important here since you'll usually be winning that your thing is *~bad~* and the debate will usually come down to whether the aff actually does that thing or not and thus gets access to a perm. That said, if you're reading a big stick policy aff you should probably just bite the bullet and go for the impact turn if there's no chance you can win a link turn.
- In KvK debates I don't really find myself having a default when it comes down to whether "method debates" mean the aff gets a perm or not. I guess I don't really see why the fact that we're talking about methods means that those methods don't have to be competitive, but if we're not viewing the aff as a test of the resolution's truth value maybe that changes. Either way, simply asserting that "method debates means no perms" probably isn't sufficient and I like when these debates get in depth
- Similarly, the zaniness of your perm arguments should probably be proportional to the zaniness of the 1AC&1NC, and the same for perm answers. Creative perms that are based in your literature have often been effective in front of me, and the neg should rely on similar creativeness in answering them. In other words, why limit yourself to "perm do both" when you could tell me the perm is a radical cooption of their method which makes you the true symbolic terrorists, or something?
"K Affs"/"New Debate"/FW
- The teams I coach mostly read critical arguments, affs without plan texts, and stuff like that, I went to college to study gender theory and philosophy, and a large portion of the rounds I've judged in the past have been K rounds, so I think I've (deservedly) cultivated a bit of a prior reputation as a K hack. However, I've noticed in more recent times that perhaps I'm swinging a bit back toward the middle of the road in these debates, or at least that at the end of rounds I often find myself asking: "why didn't this team go for framework?" because the kritikal team has mishandled or neglected parts of that debate, yet the opposing team ends up going for something else. I have voted on framework in the past, I expect I will continue to do so in the future, and if it is the best option for you in any given debate you should choose it.
- I think the biggest shift in my thinking here is that over time I have stopped subconsciously viewing my vote of any given individual debate as implying that I have somehow committed some ideological boon/transgression, and instead believe that the most educational approach to facilitating debates as a judge involves me allowing debaters to challenge any and all aspects of their opponents arguments. While I believe each debate round is important as a unique pedagogical moment, I am somewhat less convinced that the results of that debate will change the world or even the (horrible and oppressive) structures of debate, and thus I believe that if a team is not capable of beating framework or topicality on its own merits, I shouldn't vote for them just because it helps the movement or is supposed to improve debate, because it probably won't.
- If you are the "K team" in this debate, you should make sure you answer args like "it's about the best model of debate/competing interps" if you're just going for arguments that boil down to "our aff is good." If it's "not what you do but what you justify," you need to ensure that you have either an adequate description of what you justify and why it's good, or an answer to the above argument.
- I'm finding myself (slightly) more compelled by "do it on the neg" style arguments against affs that just say the resolution is bad. If you are reading such an aff you probably want a defense of why you being even forced to defend the resolution in a pedagogical space is bad, not just reasons the resolution as a question is bad.
- TVAs are good and important but often not the game-ender FW teams think they are. If the aff says "state bad" then you give a big list of state actions, this still does not (on its own) mean that the state is good, and thus doesn't necessarily disprove any part of the aff's claim. If you impact out how exactly that TVA solves, preferably even with evidence, you're in a much better place. Basically, you need to actually have a warranted reason the TVA solves, not just the phrase "we have a topical version of the aff!!!"
Other random things:
My "role of the ballot" is to, as the cliche goes, determine who did the better debating, but that doesn't mean there can't be other "RoBs" within the debate. Generally I interpret these as frameworks or criteria for evaluating the different arguments and impacts within the round, so a phrase like "the role of the ballot is to vote for the team who best performatively and methodologically challenges queerphobia" would mean, to me, basically, that I evaluate arguments according to whichever team best meets such a criteria, not that my ballot serves some literal other purpose than choosing the best debater. However, this does mean that if you answer such an RoB with the phrase "the role of the ballot is to choose the team who does the better debating" I'm not sure you're being responsive to what that phrase is actually saying.
Any number of conditional options is allowed as long as you can justify you get that many, and any number of conditional options is not allowed as long you can win the opponent doesn't get that many. I don't think there's any magic number above which condo suddenly does or doesn't become okay, and as with everything I think this is a debate best left to the debaters. Despite my reputation I actually really enjoy big debates with lots of different arguments and you should always look to get away with as much as the other team will let you in any given debate.
Excessive rudeness is obviously never appreciated. I know debate can get heated sometimes and that's fine but if you get to the point of insulting the other team, your partner, etc. Jokes are always good as long as they aren't at the expense of other people, and so you should always be careful about accidentally hurting someone.
Call me Max, or judge if you absolutely feel uncomfortable with that (though being referred to as judge makes me feel weird), and put me on the email chain if you remember (my email is email@example.com).
As I've alluded to a couple times earlier, I believe that one of the reasons why debate is such an amazing activity (and it truly can be!) is because of the relatively non-horizontal nature of it compared to other educational activities, and I really want to facilitate that environment. Obviously as the person holding the sheet of paper or connected to the tabroom ballot I have a certain degree of power, but again, debate is for you (the debaters). So, as I keep reiterating, do what makes you most happy and comfortable within the debate space. Me asking anything otherwise would just be an attempt to stroke my ego as a judge and reassert my power within the room. I'm not going to stop you from doing anything as long as it does not hurt other people (which words can most certainly do, as we should all know) or cause me to be responsible for activities which would violate my contract as a coach. Read "trolly" arguments if you so desire, sit or stand to speak, go to the bathroom or get a drink of water when you need to, chat with people as long as it isn't disrupting or delaying the debate, or "dance with a chair if that's what the muse tells you to do." Do what you enjoy and I will enjoy it too.