Kyle Dennis Paradigm

Last changed 30 September 2016 12:43 PM CST

I record nearly all of the parliamentary debates that I judge on my MacBook. During the debate, you will see me creating position/answer markers so that I can easily recall any portion of the debate during my decision. I have developed a basic system to govern the conditions under which I will review the recording— (1) if I think I have missed something (my fault) I will note the time in the recording on my flow, (2) if there is a question about exact language raised by the debaters in the round, (3) if there is a Point of Order about new arguments in rebuttals, (4) I will review the exact language of any CP/Alt Text/ Theory Interp. Outside of those circumstances, I typically will not review recordings. This new process has had a couple of important impacts on judging. I don’t miss arguments. I will take as much time to review the debate afterwards if I believe that I’ve maybe missed something. It has made my decisions clearer because I can hold debaters accountable to exact language. It does, however, mean that I am less likely to give PMR’s credit for new explanations of arguments that weren’t in the MG. It also means that I’m more likely to give PMR’s flexibility in answering arguments that weren’t “clear” until the MOC. I don’t provide the recording to anyone (not even my own team). Within reason, I am happy to play back to you any relevant portions that I have used to make my decision.

If you have questions about this process, please ask. I encourage my colleagues to adopt this practice as well. It is remarkable how it has changed my process. If your team chooses to prefer (or, in the case of the NPDA, not strike) me, there are a couple of promises that I will make to you:I understand that the debaters invest a tremendous amount of time and energy into preparing for a national tournament. I believe that judging any round, especially national tournament rounds, deserves a special level of attention and commitment. I try not to make snap decisions at nationals and it bothers me when I see other people do it. I know that my nationals decisions take longer than I will typically take making a similar decision during the rest of the year. If you spend 4 years doing something, I can at least spend a few extra moments thinking it over before I potentially end that for you.

I flow on paper. I find that I am more connected to the debate and can deliver more complete RFDs if I am physically writing down arguments rather than typing. When I watch my colleagues multi- tasking while judging debates, I am self-conscious that I used to do the same thing. You will have my complete attention. I can also guarantee you that my sleep schedule at tournaments will not hinder my ability to give you my full attention. I have made a substantial commitment to wellness and, if I am being honest, I have seen/felt significant improvements in my life and my ability to do my job at debate tournaments. Once again, you will have my complete attention.

Finally, I can tell you that I have come to a point that I am unwilling to categorically reject any argument. I have voted for negative teams with a 1NC strategy of a K, CP, DA, and case arguments (who collapse to an MO strategy of the criticism only) more times this year than I ever thought I would. Smart debaters win debates with a variety of strategies—I don’t think that I should limit your strategy choices. The debate isn’t about me. If we can’t embrace different styles of argument, this activity gets very annoying very quickly.

If I get to judge you, there are a couple of promises that I want you your team to make to me: Please slow down when you read plan texts, theory interpretations or perm texts unless you are going to take the time to write out a copy and provide it to me. Please do not get upset if I misunderstand something that you read quickly (an alt, for example) if you didn’t give me a copy. I will review exact text language on my recording, if necessary.

Please do your best to engage the other team. I like watching critique debates, for example, in which the affirmative team engages the criticism in a meaningful way rather than reading common framework or theory objections. Please make all of your interpretations on theory as clear as you possibly can. This isn’t exactly the same as asking you to read it slowly—for example, a PICS Bad debate should have a clear interpretation of what a “PIC” is to you. I have generally come to understand what most members of the community mean by “textual" versus "functional” competition—but, again, this is a theory debate that you need to explain clearly.

Finally, please do not assume that any of your judges are flowing/comprehending every single word that you’re saying at top speed. As long as I have been involved in this activity, the most successful debaters have recognized that there is an element of persuasion that will never go away. I think that the quickness/complexity of many of the debaters have far surpassed a sizeable chunk of the judging pool. I often listen to my colleagues delivering decisions and (in my opinion) many struggle or are unwilling to admit that portions of the debate were unwarranted, unclear, and difficult to understand. I have often observed an undue burden to make sense of 2-3 second blips placed on critics by debaters—this activity doesn’t work unless you help me to understand what is important. I have the perspective to acknowledge that if a critic doesn’t vote for one of my teams, that there is something that we could have done better to win that ballot. I would simply ask that you dial back your rate of delivery slightly. Understand that there are times that slowing down makes sense to put all of the arguments in context. The most successful teams already do this, so I don’t imagine that this is a very difficult request.

Other notes: I flow the LOR on a separate sheet of paper. My speaker point range is 27-30. I don’t give out many 30’s, but I am happy to give quite a few 29’s. I will protect you from new arguments (or overly abusive clarifications of arguments) in the rebuttals. At a typical tournament, I will be involved in all aspects of prep with my team. Regardless of what I would disclose, for me, clarity is your best bet. I generally advise my teams to assume that your judges don’t know what you’re talking about until you tell them. I generally try to remove my previously existing understanding from the debate as much as possible.

TL, DR: I want to make the best decision that I can, given the arguments in the debate. If I’m going to end your NPTE, I will do so thoughtfully and with my full attention—that’s a promise. Make the debate about you, not me. I love this activity and all of the people in it. I make a conscious effort to approach decisions (especially at nationals) with respect for the activity and the people in the debate. 

Full Judging Record

Tournament Lv Date Ev Rd Aff Neg Vote Result
Golden Gate Invitational C 2015-10-03 Open Quarte Berkeley KZ Washburn BB Opp Opp 2-1
Golden Gate Invitational C 2015-10-03 Open Octs Missouri Western State University MS El Camino CJ Gov Gov 3-0
Golden Gate Invitational C 2015-10-03 Open R6 El Camino GM Concordia MW Opp
Golden Gate Invitational C 2015-10-03 Open R5 Concordia LL Berkeley JG Opp
Golden Gate Invitational C 2015-10-03 Open R2 Missouri Western State University MS Condordia MT Gov
Golden Gate Invitational C 2015-10-03 Open R1 Washburn BK Concordia RV Gov