John Tao Paradigm

Last changed 1/15 11:09A CDT

BACKGROUND ~

  • Nationally ranked high school debater (2004- 2006)
  • Former Director of Debate at IUPUI (2009- 2012)
  • Former Director of Debate at the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign (2013-2015)
  • Volunteer Judge for the CUDL 4+ years
  • Chicago Debate Summer Institute Instructor (Summer 2015)
  • Solorio HS Coach (2015- Present)
  • Milwaukee Debate Legue Executive Director (2017- Present)

TL;DR (The "Round Starts in 2 minutes, Who is this judge?!") *

  • Speed: Fine
  • Line-by-line: Always
  • Signpost: Always
  • Roadmap: Yes, off the clock
  • Tag Team: Meh
  • Default paradigm: Policymaker
  • Theory: Great
  • T: Lovely
  • K: Fine
  • Framework: Meh
  • CP: Competitive
  • DA: Awesome
  • Case: Fantastic
  • Analysis: Necessary
  • Debate Formality: Meh

Longer Form (The "Oh, there's time and we should probably see what this judge is all about")*

SPEED

I'm comfortable with speed. But, with that said you need to be clear, you ideally do not do weird distracting things (like GASPS of air), you ideally slow down on tags, you ideally slow down when reading plan text/advocacy statement.

I ultimately flow based on what I hear within a round regardless of what you think you may or may not have said. I will "clear" you if you are egregiously unintelligible but that's probably a bad sign if I need to do that. If after I "clear" you and I still find myself struggling significantly with quality of presentation I will literally stop flowing for as long as I need to. With all of that said though, I do have a fairly high tolerance for speed.

There is one more important caveat I think it's necessary to say here: if you are able to spread and your opponents are clearly not able to handle it (e.g. literally cannot flow) I expect you to adapt to the round (i.e. do not steamroll a team because you are able to overwhelm them with quantity of arguments). Speed is a tool in the world of debate and I fully expect you to use it but not at the point where it becomes abusive for the other team and takes away from the educational value of the round for all parties.

LINE-BY-LINE

Please try your best to stick to the structures of the round. Please do your best to frame your arguments in the "They say but we say" structure. Even if things get messy, please do your best to consolidate, group, or summarize arugments together and respond to them in a clear manner. Try and not jump all over the place.

With all of that said, I think this is a skill that all debaters aspire for. Sometimes rounds get messy and all I really do is ask that you do your best to try and line up your arguments as best as you can. The effort is important at the end of the day. I know all judges like a clean line-by-line, and I know that it can get lost in the moment, so... all I ask is that you try your best (cause, let's be honest, is there going to be a judge that ever says "No line-by-line"?)

SIGNPOST

Part and parcel with the idea of line-by-line format is signposts. I think it's incredibly important for teams to make sure they give proper sign posts. Give me a remider of where you are, let me know where I should be flowing, let me know what's going on. Give me a sign that you're about to move to the next card (usually a "AND NEXT" is a good indicator). Signposts help keep you organized, help your opponent stay organized, and helps the judge stay organized. It's an important skill to have... and all I ask is that you try your best.

ROADMAP

Please. There are four things I've been seeing that drive me absolutely insane - and apparently there's enough for me to even write about it.

1) Roadmapping the 1AC. Don't do it. It's not necessary. It's not a thing.

2) Asking if I want a roadmap. The answer is YES. The answer is always YES (with the exception of the 1AC, because, once again, don't do it).

3) 1NC roadmap - just tell me how many off, and then where you plan on going on. Don't tell me what the Off cases are, that's not necessary.

4) Roadmap by being clear and concise: "DA, K, Case in order of solvency then advantage one." Do not roadmap: "I'm going to go a little bit on solvency, and then maybe the K...and if I have time maybe the DA...."

TAG TEAM

Tag teaming is okay as long as 1) the other team is okay with it and 2) as long as it is not abused. The person being questioned should be responding to a majority of the questions. The partner should be able to help but should absolutely not be dominating the cross-ex. Keep it minimal if you are not "standing up" during cross.

DEFAULT PARADIGM

I like policy rounds. I think debate is a forum for analyzing policy so my default is always to be a policy maker. But, with that said, I've been engaged in this activity enough that I also just see it as a free-form open game space for debaters to discuss whatever issues, in whatever format they want to. If you are making arguments that deviate outside of the traditional policy arguments that's totally cool! I'm down (with caveats I'll explain on each specific argument below) but you need to give me a paradigm to judge in otherwise it probably won't go in your favor (or at least it'll be more of an upward climb).

THEORY

I used to debate theory all the time. I don't think abuse necessarily has to be proven within a round to win this argument. I do think you need to make well articulated, well warranted, well impacted out arguments though. I am more on the side of rejecting the argument and not the team but depending on the flow of the round I can be convinced otherwise. I think a well run theory argument is something a debater can fill a full 8 minutes with, if necessary. That is the level of analysis I love for theory. The quick 10s blips are not particularly compelling.

K

Okay. I really do like Ks. BUT I need to see that the team running it (whether as a negative argument or aff advocacy statement) has a very good understanding of the Kritikal arguments. I think too many K cards are incredibly power tagged and full of unnecessary jargon. Keep things simple, pretend I've never heard of your literature/author, and explain it to me, do not assume I know your literature or author. For example, if you use the term "war machine" repeatedly but never explain what the "war machine" is, I will not do the mental work for you. You need to at a minimum explain it in the beginning of your speech. I think the K debate ultimately is made or broken at the link level -- generic Ks will not really do that much for me. I want to see that you understand the K you are running, and that you can actually find specific, concrete links, into your opponents' arguments.

Second, I think alternatives should actually be viable alternatives. Tell me what the altnerative is and show me how it can work. I think that should come without saying but often I hear alternatives that don't necessarily connect with the thesis of the K or ultimately just don't make sense. If the argument does not make sense then I will very unlikely vote for it.

FRAMEWORK

Framework arguments are kind of boring these days to be honest. Try and keep it interesting by being specific. Show me how the framework interacts with the rest of your arguments. Explain to me how your framework works. Give me analysis, bring it outside of the world of generic cards and let me know how the framework works within the round we are in.

CP

Ideally CPs are non-topical and competitive. I think they are viable options but there needs to be a clear solvency story presented and particularly good impact analysis to balance the world of the plan against the world of the counter plan.

DA

DAs are great. The more specific the better. Generic DAs happen, of course, but the better the link story the better. If you can give me a good DA to the case then you have a significant chance of being able to win the round but it has to be well articulated, it has to be well warranted, it has to be well impacted out against the world of the plan.

CASE

Let's be real, the more specific case arguments you can make the better. Who doesn't like clash and actually engaging in the arguments?

ANALYSIS

Give me analysis. It's not good enough to give me impact calculus in the form of magnitude, timeframe, and significance. I need to understand how you reach the world of the impacts. I need to understand why the impacts are even a possibility. The magnitude, timeframe, and significance formula is fine and all but I need much more than that.

DEBATE FORMALITY

I may or may not run a timer at the back of the room and I strongly prefer both teams time themselves. I don't really care where you're speaking from. I'm not particularly formal about the rounds.

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* I reserve the right to modify my paradigm based upon how much coffee I've had, my understanding of your team's argument tool kit (e.g. if your coach believes (s)he is the President when evaluating rounds I will hold any team from any such school to a higher expectation that the debaters' default actor for any plan is Executive unless I am specifically told otherwise), and any number of factors. If there is anything confusing, anything you're unsure of, please feel free to ask me before the round begins. It can only be a benefit for you.

~ A comment on speaker points if I am judging a Wisconsin, non-national circuit tournament. My default speaker point calibration is set to a 28.1 in accordance with national debate trends. Within the state of Wisconsin I have traditionally held an average of 27.5/28 with the idea that points should not and cannot go lower than a 25 (as a matter of custom and as a matter of rule at many tournaments since at least 2002). However, I have recently seen ballots within the state of Wisconsin where points within the low 20s (e.g. "23") seem to be acceptable and endorsed by the state. With that in mind, I am specifically calibrating my average point distribution to a 26 to ensure consistency with state practices.

Full Judging Record

Tournament Date Ev Rd Aff Neg Vote Result
MDL Season Championship 2/1/2020 VCX Finals Homest LP MarUni SL Neg Neg on a 5-0
MDL Season Championship 2/1/2020 VCX Rd3 RufKin RL ForAtk MH Neg
The Wisconsin State Debate Tournament 1/18/2020 VCX Semi La Crosse Central BT Homestead KW Neg Neg on a 3-0
WDCA Pref Sandbox 1/18/2020 VCX Semi La Crosse Central BT Homestead KW Neg Neg on a 3-0
WDCA Pref Sandbox 1/18/2020 VCX R5 Homestead HY Rufus King BR Neg
The Wisconsin State Debate Tournament 1/18/2020 VCX R5 Homestead HY Rufus King BR Neg
The Wisconsin State Debate Tournament 1/18/2020 VCX R2 Homestead KW Rufus King LR Aff
WDCA Pref Sandbox 1/18/2020 VCX R2 Homestead KW Rufus King LR Aff
WDCA Pref Sandbox 1/18/2020 VCX R1 Madison East RH Neenah PF Aff
The Wisconsin State Debate Tournament 1/18/2020 VCX R1 Madison East RH Neenah PF Aff
Heart of Wisconsin Invitational 2019 11/8/2019 VPol R3 Madison East JK Rufus King BR Neg
West Bend Debate Extravaganza 11/2/2019 VCX R3 Homestead HL Rufus King RB Aff
West Bend Debate Extravaganza 11/2/2019 VCX R2 La Crosse Central BT Madison East RS Neg
Wisconsin State Debate Tournament 1/19/2019 VCX Final Marquette Univ TM Homestead GW Aff Neg on a 3-2
Wisconsin State Debate Tournament 1/19/2019 VCX R5 Rufus King RK Marquette Univ MS Aff
Wisconsin State Debate Tournament 1/19/2019 VCX R3 La Crosse Central BT SPASH JS Aff
Wisconsin State Debate Tournament 1/19/2019 VCX R1 Homestead GW Marquette Univ LW Aff
MCFL Debate Qualifier 1/12/2019 VCX R1 Rufus King KR Marquette Univ ML Neg
Southern Wisconsin District Tournament 1/5/2019 CX R5 LaCro BT MarUni LW Neg Neg on a 3-0
Southern Wisconsin District Tournament 1/5/2019 CX R3 MarUni MT LaCro BT Aff Aff on a 3-0
MDL T4 Reagan Rumble 12/8/2018 VCX R3 RonRea AD RufKin AJ Aff
Glenbrooks Speech and Debate Tournament 11/17/2018 VCX R7 Dowling Catholic WH St. Andrew's Episcopal JL Aff
The Annual No Frills Tournament 11/17/2018 NCX R1 Homestead KG North Division CM Aff
Badgerland 11/9/2018 OCX R5 Glenbrook North CB Rufus King KW Aff
Badgerland 11/9/2018 OCX R4 Rufus King JS Glenbrook North CJ Neg
Badgerland 11/9/2018 OCX R3 Glenbrook North CK Rufus King WR Aff
West Bend Debate Extravaganza 11/3/2018 VCX R3 Fort Atkinson BH Homestead WP Neg
West Bend Debate Extravaganza 11/3/2018 VCX R1 Madison East KJ Marquette Univ LW Aff
Milwaukee Debate League T3 All Hallows Classic 10/27/2018 VCX R3 MarUni LW ForAtk PM Aff Aff on a 3-0
Brookfield East Debate Tournament 10/20/2018 VCX R2 Mukwonago GM SPASH JG Aff
Brookfield East Debate Tournament 10/20/2018 VCX R1 Madison East HR Rufus King WK Aff
Golda Meir Debate Invitational 9/29/2018 VCX R3 Marquette Univ SR Neenah PW Aff
Golda Meir Debate Invitational 9/29/2018 VCX R1 Marquette Univ ML Madison East SR Aff
The Hilltopper Classic 9/15/2018 VPol R1 La Crosse Central NL Fort Atkinson KM Aff
ETHS Superb Owl 2/2/2018 CX VCX Qu Blue Valley Southwest EM Glenbrook North JK Aff Neg on a 2-1
ETHS Superb Owl 2/2/2018 CX R5 St. Ignatius CP MP Glenbrook North BF Neg
ETHS Superb Owl 2/2/2018 CX R4 Niles West AP Glenbrook South AK Neg
ETHS Superb Owl 2/2/2018 CX R3 Walter Payton CP LA Niles West BF Aff
RCC T3 12/1/2017 VCX VR5 TAFT LS Phoenix Military LU Aff
RCC T3 12/1/2017 VCX VR4 Lincoln Park C Thomas Kelly AC Aff
RCC T3 12/1/2017 VCX VR3 Lincoln Park CS Northside CP SZ Aff
RCC T3 12/1/2017 VCX VR1 Walter Payton CP RY Thomas Kelly CL Aff
Badgerland Debate Tournament 11/10/2017 OCX R5 Glenbrook North BF SPASH BJ Aff
Badgerland Debate Tournament 11/10/2017 OCX R4 SPASH SV Glenbrook North SJ Aff
Badgerland Debate Tournament 11/10/2017 OCX R3 SF Roosevelt CW Glenbrook North CL Neg
Badgerland Debate Tournament 11/10/2017 OCX R2 Madison East HR Glenbrook North JO Neg
Badgerland Debate Tournament 11/10/2017 NCX R1 Glenbrook North PS Rufus King SJ Aff
Golda Meir Debate Invitational 10/20/2017 SVP Saturd Madison East JS Reagan IB SI Neg
Golda Meir Debate Invitational 10/20/2017 SVP Saturd Mukwonago GW Homestead KW Aff
Golda Meir Debate Invitational 10/20/2017 SVP Saturd Homestead WK Marquette Univ DM Neg
Sun Warrior LS Season Opener RCC T1 10/13/2017 VCX OR1 LanTec CT WhiYou WM Neg
Trevian Invitational former New Trier Season Opener 10/7/2017 Open R6 Westminster VF Lindblom Math and Science DS Neg
Trevian Invitational former New Trier Season Opener 10/7/2017 Open R5 Maine East NB Niles North BS Neg
Illinois Debate Coaches Association JVNovice State 3/10/2017 NCX Octas OakPar GH NilWes AS Aff Aff on a 3-0
Illinois Debate Coaches Association JVNovice State 3/10/2017 NCX R5 JonPre CR GleSou KF Neg Neg on a 2-0
Illinois Debate Coaches Association JVNovice State 3/10/2017 NCX R4 GleNor BP GleSou BY Neg Neg on a 2-0
Illinois Debate Coaches Association JVNovice State 3/10/2017 NCX R3 GleNor NO WhiM. OM Neg
RCC Tournament 2 11/4/2016 NOV NRS WalPay YC EvaTow LK Neg Neg on a 2-1
RCC Tournament 2 11/4/2016 VCX OR4 NorCP BM EvaTow CJ Aff
RCC Tournament 2 11/4/2016 VCX OR3 LanTec AD JonCP DE Aff
RCC Tournament 2 11/4/2016 NOV NR2 WhiM. MS LanTec CG Neg
JVNovice Opener Glenbrook South 9/24/2016 NCX R4 Homewo King & Moore NilWes Rizvi & Waters Aff
JVNovice Opener Glenbrook South 9/24/2016 JVCX R3 GleNor Ko & Williams NewTri Jo & Miller Neg
JVNovice Opener Glenbrook South 9/24/2016 JVCX R2 NewTri Lim & Blake GleNor Burdeen & Doughty Aff
JVNovice Opener Glenbrook South 9/24/2016 JVCX R1 NilNor Theccanat & Ivackovic GleNor Ji & Levin Aff
Niles Township Invitational 9/9/2016 POL Rd 5 West Des Moines Valley HD Glenbrook North CR Aff
Niles Township Invitational 9/9/2016 POL Rd 4 Glenbrook North JL Minneapolis Washburn EP Aff
Niles Township Invitational 9/9/2016 POL Rd 3 Glenbrook North DB Lane Tech College Prep H.S. MT Aff
Illinois Debate Coaches Association JV and Novice State 3/11/2016 NCX Octas NewTri BE WalPay WW Neg Aff on a 2-1
Illinois Debate Coaches Association JV and Novice State 3/11/2016 NCX Rd 5 EvaTow BL NewTri KN Neg Neg on a 2-0
Illinois Debate Coaches Association JV and Novice State 3/11/2016 NCX Rd 4 NilNor IF NilWes MV Aff Aff on a 2-0
Illinois Debate Coaches Association JV and Novice State 3/11/2016 NCX Rd 3 NorCP MM LanTec ZN Neg Neg on a 2-0
Illinois Debate Coaches Association JV and Novice State 3/11/2016 NCX Rd 2 Homewo JJ GleSou KS Neg Neg on a 2-0
Maine East Regatta 2/5/2016 OPEN rd 4 Niles West SG Glenbrook North JZ Aff
Maine East Regatta 2/5/2016 OPEN rd 3 Niles West BN Maine East H.S. BL Aff
Maine East Regatta 2/5/2016 OPEN rd 2 Glenbrook North FZ Niles West CB Neg
ETHS Dead Presidents Invitational 1/29/2016 NCX R6 Niles West KS Glenbrook North BF Aff
ETHS Dead Presidents Invitational 1/29/2016 NCX R4 Glenbrook South SM New Trier KN Neg
ETHS Dead Presidents Invitational 1/29/2016 NCX R3 Lane Tech AD Northside CP KC Aff
ETHS Dead Presidents Invitational 1/29/2016 NCX R2 New Trier FK Glenbrook South LU Neg
ETHS Dead Presidents Invitational 1/29/2016 NCX R1 Northside CP OP Niles West MV Aff
Homewood Flossmoor Classic 11/13/2015 NP Octas GleNor XX NilNor IK Aff Aff on a 3-0
Homewood Flossmoor Classic 11/13/2015 NP 5 GleNor FL NilWes SS Aff
Homewood Flossmoor Classic 11/13/2015 NP 4 NilWes CK GleNor Kim Neg
Homewood Flossmoor Classic 11/13/2015 NP 3 GleNor RW NilNor SP Aff
Homewood Flossmoor Classic 11/13/2015 NP 2 GleNor FV NilWes KS Aff
Homewood Flossmoor Classic 11/13/2015 NP 1 GleNor CH NilNor AS Aff