I do not wish to impose my views on the activity through my ballot. What I mean by this is that I think you certainly ought to debate in front of me in a fashion consistent with what you're best at--and allow me to adapt to you. I fundamentally believe that nearly all aspects of debate are negotiable, and certainly a multitude of different kinds of strategies can be fun to watch and fun to do. I believe those who insist on debate conforming to their view of the activity are narcissistic and don't get the point. I also think that the notion of the inevitability of intervention does not remove the responsibility to evaluate issues in a fair and honest fashion--in fact it strengthens this obligation. I will do my best to make decisions which are not informed by my predispositions but rather a serious evaluation of the issues as they were debated. My burden of striving for non-intervention will not prevent me from passing judgment. This ought not be confused. I will make a decision based on judgments I make (clearly) but I will not be dishonest about the objective flow of the debate in order to cater to my own debate ideals. I am a debate nihilist (you might say), I begin with the assumption that what you can do in debate is only limited by your imaginative capacity to justify your argumentative choices. There is no strategy that I didn't try as a debater--who would I be to tell you that you can't do the same?
Despite my strong belief that our predispositions should have no effect on the outcome of our judging, I must admit that I obviously do have predispositions about this activity. I've spent enough time doing it, and even more time thinking about it, that I am not a clean slate. I'll put my slate away for the sake of fair deliberation, but here's a glimpse of what my slate looks like.
Topicality: Unless argued persuasively otherwise, I default to assuming that topicality is both a voting issue and an issue of competing interpretations. I went for topicality a fair amount in debate. I truly believe that affirmatives who make a good faith effort to support the topic (even if for a very abstract or nuanced reason) are the most strategic. Even some of the most strategic critical affirmatives I've ever seen affirmed the topic. I suppose a good general rule is that if you're not trying to be topical, you should have a good reason why. I have never heard a definition of reasonability in my entire life that made more sense to me than competing interpretations (doesn't mean I'm not open to the possibility). I believe that the specificity of the standards and how effectively they are compared (T debates are impact debates like everything else) is often the decider.
Counterplans: I tend to assume that counterplans are a very useful strategy available to the negative. I am not predisposed against conditional counterplans, and frankly I'm also not predisposed against multiple conditional counterplans. Surprisingly perhaps, I also am not strongly against counterplans which don't compete textually (particularly if they are authentically within the scope of the topic). The reason I think textual competition is usually a good limit is precisely because most counterplans which textual competition limits out are those which detract from topic education. If yours doesn't and you can justify your counterplan you're fine. If you say there's a textually competitive version of the counterplan I will know if you're lying (just so you know). It's really all about what you can justify. The quality of your solvency evidence is generally a great indicator of how smart your counterplan is.
The kritik: We shouldn't be afraid to have kritik debates because they serve as a way of making sure that our assumptions can be justified. That being said, our assumptions can be justified, and I appreciate people who do in fact engage critical teams and make an effort to defend the perspectives which inform their arguments. A few uphill battles critical debaters might find with me are that I often think critical framework arguments do not particularly limit the affirmative very much. For example, the reason it doesn't make sense to me to say that representational debating is object fiat or utopian fiat is that disads and cases are also representational. There is no part of debate that isn't already a performance, and there is no part of debate that isn't already representational. It's about the desirability of those representations. Another roadblock critical debaters might find with me is that I have no problem signing off on topicality or evaluating the framework debate against the kritik. I did this plenty against kritik teams, and I'm not opposed to framework if you cannot justify the way your kritik is framed. If they're responsible for their representations why aren't you? I don't like the fact that kritik debaters uniquely have to have a sheet of paper justifying the existence of their argument right out of the gates, but if you cannot win that your argument should exist I think you should find a different argument. I also am a sucker for sophisticated and clever permutation arguments. Perhaps this is why I think the best kritiks are topic specific and turn the case.
Theory: I think theory serves a vital role in regulating debate trends, like a filter. Sometimes a strategy is a winning one precisely because it's not crafted in a fashion that is fair. Sometimes a strategy is antithetical to education to a degree that merits its total exclusion. Again, these questions are answered best through a framework of competing interpretations where sophisticated impact calculus happens at the level of the standards debate. If you can justify it, you can do it. Theory debates are one of the best tests of whether or not you can justify your given strategy. For this reason, I take it seriously and think it should be evaluated first. I will not evaluate it first only in the circumstance where you lose the priority debate (which sometimes happens). My default assumption is that fairness and education are both good, and keep the activity alive. This does not, however, remove the obligation to demonstrate why something is theoretically objectionable to a degree that merits the ballot. I also tend to fall further on the potential abuse side of the spectrum than the real abuse side. Just because you don't perform abuse (in the sense of how much of their strategy has in-round utility) does not automatically mean the way your strategy is positioned is suddenly educational or fair.
Disads: A well argued disad can be a beautiful thing. If you can't outweigh the case, read a counterplan that pairs well with your disad. If you want, read two. You could also surprise me and debate the case effectively (I will appreciate this). I do not dislike politics disads, but those which do not have any real link specificity annoy me a bit. Sometimes the politics disad is the right choice, sometimes it's not. Depends on the topic. The greater the specificity and applicability the happier I'll be. I love a well crafted topic disad. If your disad authentically turns the case, then I'll probably be inclined to thinking it's a good disad. Be prepared to debate all levels of disad uniqueness (not just top level) including link uniqueness, internal link uniqueness, and impact uniqueness.
Things that annoy me:
1) Process disads. If your disad relies on the process of the plan passing, rather than the outcome of the plan, I will not like your disad. If you say things like "the plan will be horse-traded for x" or "the plan will move x off the docket" I will be utterly dissatisfied with your lazy and bankrupt disad. To be clear, it is the job of the aff to identify how absurd your disad is. I will not hesitate to vote for shitty process disads if the aff fails to correctly answer them, but it'll make me feel bad about myself and the state of debate.
2) Theory debates which begin in the PMR. Sometimes really egregious things happen in the block. In this case, I may very well vote for theory which begins in the PMR. Example: the negative splits the block. However, I am more often than not wildly uncomfortable with theory debates in which the negative has no opportunity to contest your argument. The best example I can think of here is that the MOC should take a question. My intuition is that you get the last word, and so you should have the upper hand in dealing with these situations without putting me in an awkward position. This is one of my least favorite debate arguments.
3) Spec arguments or T arguments which have no resolutional basis. If your spec argument has no basis in the topic, or requires the aff to be extra-topical in order to meet your interpretation, I will think it's a bad argument. E-spec is a good example of such an argument. This is especially egregious in instances in which T arguments have no basis in the topic since T is supposed to be explicitly premised on the language of the topic.
4) Floating pics. Alternatives should not include anything resembling the plan. They should especially not literally include the plan text. If they do, and you do not win the debate on perm: do the alternative with appropriate theory arguments about how nonsense it is for the alt to include the plan I will be pretty pissed. The negative should have to make alt solvency arguments in order to demonstrate why the alt solves the aff, and the aff should be entitled to argue that the aff is a disad to the alt. If the alternative does not enable this debate to occur, it's more than likely theoretically bankrupt. I would hope that the aff would identify this.
5) Incorrect permutation strategies. For every silly nonsense counterplan which shouldn't exist, there is a solid permutation text which makes such counterplan look pretty silly. I really appreciate it when the aff correctly identifies the appropriate permutation, and conversely, I really don't like it when the aff fails to problematize bad counterplans with the appropriate permutation.
6) Failure to offer impact comparison. Clearly I have no desire to intervene. It is up to you to ensure that the debate is resolvable in a way that doesn't require me to compare things myself. I will always decide debates based on what occurs in your own words. I will not put the pieces together for you. I will not assume your position to be a priority if you fail to demonstrate this for me. Impact calculus is the centerpiece of how you can accomplish this.
7) Failure to identify things which are theoretically bankrupt. What bothers me the most about asinine strategies is when I'm put in a position to have to endorse them with my ballot, and I absolutely will if you fail to allow me to do otherwise. It is your responsibility to filter out irresponsible debate trends with sound objections to them. Take your responsibility seriously so that I don't have to make decisions which I know endorse things which are not good for the activity.
Summary observations: I suppose my views on the ideal strategy are almost always informed by the topic. The best K's turn the case and are topic specific, and the same can be said for the best disads. The best counterplans have very quality solvency evidence and a sensible net benefit.The best critical affs affirm the topic and discuss issues pertinent to the topic literature. There's always a good strategic option for a given topic, and it's up to you to find it. I will not be a hindrance to that process. Whatever you think is situationally best given the strengths of yourself and your opponent should be what you go with. I'll adapt to you. You'll probably debate better when you do what you're best at. Almost all debate is fun, it should be a question of what's the most situationally strategic option.
One last thing: I am a very expressive judge. 9 times out of 10 you will know what I think of your argument. I will shake my head at you if you say something really absurd, and I will nod for arguments that I agree with. I can't really control this very well (I've tried). On very very rare occasions I will verbally declare an argument to be silly during the debate. Do not take me too seriously. I vote for silly arguments when I would be intervening otherwise, and not all smart arguments are round winners. If it's very difficult for you to deal with non-verbal reactions to your arguments or this is very distracting for you, don't pref me. I literally could not possibly be less interested where I end up on your pref sheet.