Eric Skoglund ParadigmLast changed 9/17 4:46P CDT
Updated September 2020. Yes email chain - eskoglund AT gmail.com
I debated in high school at Olathe South, briefly in college at the University of Kansas, and am currently the Director of Debate at Olathe Northwest High School in Kansas where I am in my 15th year of coaching high school debate, primarily on a local circuit.
Everything you read here is a default position, and I can be argued out of nearly anything you see below. Like many of my peers, as I get older, I find I have become more concerned with the truth value of the claims you're making. Your evidence and spin are obviously major components of shaping my understanding of the truth in the round.
I think the aff has a burden to relate to the resolution. The easiest way to achieve that is to propose a plan for policy action. Whatever your advocacy, all affirmatives obviously need to be prepared to defend why their approach is best for debate. Even absent specific negative argumentation, if I end the debate unclear about the meaning of an affirmative ballot, I am likely to negate on presumption.
By default my negative ballot will stand for supporting whatever is advocated in the 2NR. I will not judge kick without a bit of theoretical reasoning as to why that's appropriate for me to do; if the counterplan is in the 2NR, then I tend to believe that a negative ballot is a vote for the counterplan. I tend to think of K alts in much the same way I think of counterplans; you will benefit from explaining who is the subject of the sentence of your alt, and what the verb of your sentence means operationally.
Don't clip cards. If you can't read at the speed you want without clipping, then read slower. I will usually ask for your speech docs and will only be using those to monitor clipping and to evaluate evidence quality when it's in question, NOT to fill in my flow. In a virtual debate world, I will also use speech docs to fill in if Internet connection issues prevent me from clearly hearing your speech.
I won't say "clear" but will give you obvious nonverbal communication if I'm not with you.
Keep track of the cards you do and do not read from the speech doc, and where you mark the cards that you mark. Sending bloated speech docs that are three times what you know you can handle is a bad practice for debate. Functionally trying to trick your opponent and/or judge into believing you read a card you didn't read is really bad and is probably over the line where I start to find ways to vote against you.
Theory, overviews, and other things where you want me to listen to every word you are saying should be presented more slowly than reading evidence. Failure to do this will probably result in you asking me questions after the RFD such as "how did you evaluate this argument" and my answer being "I didn't because I didn't hear you make it". That's a frustrating time. Try to avoid it. I'm a pretty good flow but I can't transcribe full text at 350 wpm.
I like kritiks better than my reputation would probably tell you. I'm not very well read in the literature base as most of my teams tend towards the policy side of the Great Divide. I am more likely to comprehend your alternative if it literally functions within the debate space (as in a reps type situation) or if it can be imagined as some kind of a policy choice. If your A strat is to read a high theory K that relies upon me knowing Baudrillard as well as or better than you, then well I hope you have a B strat because that will be really hard for you.
I will vote on topicality and tend to prefer a competing interpretations framework. I will generally evaluate "reasonability" as the idea that there can be multiple acceptable interpretations. If you don't meet any interp in the round, you probably aren't "reasonably topical". I am extremely unlikely to be persuaded that topicality ought not be a prior question to my decision, but you're certainly welcome to try.
In order to be a viable argument, theory needs to be contextualized to the round in front of you. If you're just reading robot blocks back and forth, I'm not likely to do a whole lot of work to try to help you.
I don't think that you need to necessarily spend all 5 minutes of your final rebuttal on T or theory in order to win my ballot, but this is definitely dependent on how the argumentation has developed throughout the round.
Fundamentally, too many teams assume they're winning every argument and so they don't frame arguments in the "even if" layers that are so important to accessing your judge's understanding of what's happened in the round. The more you can break free of this, the better you will be.
Current Events in Debate
I will not lie to your coach about the argumentation that is presented in the round. I will not tolerate the debate space being used to bully, insult, or harass fellow competitors. I will not evaluate personal disputes between debaters.
I think disclosure probably ought to be reciprocal. If you mined the aff's case from the wiki then I certainly hope you are disclosing negative positions. However, I am generally unconvinced by disclosure theory as an argument in the round, especially if you rely on first establishing that X level of disclosure is the correct level.
A lot of you aren't flowing. Or you flow from the speech doc. That's a bad idea. Your speaker points will suffer mightily if you respond to arguments that were not presented - and even worse if you answer an argument the other team explicitly conceded.
The current trend of massive pre-written overviews doesn't work well for persuading me. Overviews are good but I would prefer they simply be a summary of the arguments you're extending in the context of the current round, then more line by line as you move down the flow. I think you usually shouldn't be reading a bunch of cards in an overview. I know this is a dinosaur thing to say but it's how I understand the round so there it is.
I very strongly prefer line-by-line argumentation to "whole sheet of paper" approaches to a debate. Through the choices you make, I want to see interaction with THIS round and THIS debate. A pre-written 1AR/2NR/2AR overview will usually nuke your speaker points, doubly so if I identify the same text between the 1AR and 2AR.
I can handle speed and policy-style argumentation, but I may be a bit cranky about them. I do believe that LD is a distinct event from policy debate and should be treated as such. In this limited time frame, you will do best to focus on a clear thesis that you can demonstrate to me that you understand.
My default way of evaluating an LD round is to compare the impacts presented by both sides through the lens of each side's value and criterion, if presented. If you want me to do something different please run a clear role of the ballot or framework argument and proactively defend why your approach is predictable enough to create fair debate.
Your last 1-2 minutes, at least, should be spent on the big picture writing my reason for decision. Typically the debater who does this more clearly and effectively will win my ballot.