48th Annual Harvard National Forensics Tournament

2022 — Online, MA/US

Public Forum Debate Judge Information


UPDATE - Please see our "Live Doc" for PF debate for a better, more complete version of the information on this page.  Here.  The "Live Doc" is so named because we update it throughout the tournament as warranted.


This page has the following information

(0) Before the tournament - (a) Entering your paradigm; (b) Specifying conflicts

(1) Schedule: (a) Finding the schedule, (b) An explanation of "double flighting".

(2) Links: (a) judge lounge and (b) drop in "office hours".

(3) Three jobs as a judge: (a) choose winner, (b) award speaker points, (c) provide written feedback.

(4) Instructional material for new and newer judges: (a) Introduction to judging Public Forum, (b) How to enter a ballot in Tabroom, (c) How to take notes ("flow"), and (d) an example of a debate round.

(5) All judges - Logistics - please read: What to do (a) before the round, and (b) after the round.

(6) All judges - The Classrooms.cloud video platform (a) getting to your room, (b) getting help.



(a) Enter your judge paradigm

What is a paradigm: A judge paradigm is a brief description of your preferences to help debaters adapt to you.  A paradigm can be brief - even a sentence or two.  If you are a new judge, you may want to tell debaters that they should avoid jargon and should not speak too quickly.  You can even say that you are relatively new to judging.

How to enter your paradigm: Log into Tabroom.com.  Look on the right side of the Tabroom homepage.  Under the JUDGING heading, click on the blue PARADGIM button.  Enter your paradigm into the text box.  Then click the blue SAVE PARADIGM button below the textbox and toward the right.  You can always edit your paradigm as you discover other aspects of debate that you want to make debaters aware of with regard to your preferences. 

(b) Specifying conflicts 

What is a "conflict"?  Tabroom will not let you judge anyone from your own school.  But you might know someone from another school well enough to compromise your ability to judge them objectively.  If you know of a conflict, you should record it in Tabroom. 

Conflicts are rare for people who are not longtime participants in debate. 

But if you are a former debater, a coach, or someone who has worked in a debate institute, please be sure to record the appropriate conflicts.

If you debated in high school, specify the school you debated for as a conflict (unless it was a very long time ago and you don't know anyone from your high school as a result of your own connection to that school).

How to record a conflict in Tabroom.  Look on the right side of the Tabroom homepage.  Under the JUDGING heading, click on the blue STANDING CONFLICTS button.  Enter either debater-specific or school conflicts.  Remember - you do NOT have to enter a conflict for people on the team from the school you are judging for at this tournament because Tabroom will not assign you to a debate involving a team from that school. 



Judge drop-in office hours

See links and scheduled times in Section (2), below. 

Finding the tournament schedule


The schedule is here.

For all rounds on Saturday and all but the last round on Sunday, we divide judges into two groups:

Varsity / Middle School

Junior Varsity / Novice

To know which group you are in, (1) click on your username (email address) in the upper right corner of the Tabroom screen; (2) on the RIGHT side of the screen, look for the JUDGING heading and click on the yellow CURRENT BALLOTS & PANELS button below it. 

If, for example, you are a VARSITY / MIDDLE SCHOOL judge, you may be assigned a Varsity round or a middle school round.  The second column in the schedule table tells you when you can expect the assignments to come out for either of those types of rounds.  For example - for the first round on Saturday morning:

You might get an assignment in the Varsity division at 9:15 AM.

You might get an assignment in the middle school division at 9:30 AM.

If you are a junior varsity / novice judge:

You might get an assignment in the Junior Varsity division at 9:45 AM.

You might get an assignment in the Novice division at 10:00 AM.

The subsequent columns specify when debaters and judges should:

CHECK IN - i.e., drop in to the Zoom room to make sure they can connect and that their technology is working;

REPORT - i.e., come back to the Zoom room and stay if they will be debating in the flight 1 round;



An explanation of "double flighting".  This tournament is "double-flighted".  Here's what that means:  

Judges will receive assignments for a *pair* of back-to-back debates that they will judge.  For example, a judge assigned to adjudicate Round 1 might, for example, adjudicate a debate between Keene Valley and Lake Placid for "Flight A".  After finishing that debate and submitting their ballot, the judge will adjudicate a second debate for that round between two more teams - e.g., a debate between Northville and Saranac Lake.

Debaters - Each team should carefully look at which flight they have been assigned to when pairings come out.  If they will be debating in Flight 1, they should go to their room promptly.  If they will be debating in Flight B, they should be available for the debate 45 minutes after the start time for Flight 1.



Judge office hours - No more office hours scheduled at this time.

Getting to the JUDGE LOUNGE:

Go to https://harvard.classrooms.cloud/ 

You may have to log into CLASSROOMS.CLOUD at this point.  Use the same username and password that you use for Tabroom.com.

Select the CLASSROOMS dropdown on the red ribbon (second from left)

Select any of the Public Forum wings (Varsity, JV, Novice, MS).  A series of "room" buttons will appear.

The judge lounge is the first button in the second row.  Click on it to enter the judge lounge.

Select "Join via Website" (it's easier than the other option - Join via Zoom App - but you can do that if you want).



(a) Choose the winner of the round:

Judge based on *what you hear in the round*.  As much as possible, set aside your opinions and outside knowledge so that neither team is debating *you* implicitly.  Also - if a team does not respond to an opponent's argument, then they have *conceded* that argument.  Note - During the round, please do not engage in substantive discussion of the arguments with the debaters - e.g., you may not ask them questions about their arguments.  Only after you enter your ballot (see Judge Logistics, below) may you discuss the arguments.   

(b) Award speaker points

Award each TEAM in the round speaker points ranging from 25 to 30, in half-point increments (e.g., 28 or 28.5). 

You may award the winning team fewer speaker points in total than the losing team.  So-called "low point wins" happen when one team wins the arguments but is particularly rude.  Or when one team seems to be clearly better than the other team but makes one critical error.  Low-point wins are infrequent - occurring a few percent of the time.

Consult the scale on the right side of the ballot (scroll down a bit) for guidelines on the point scale.  

(c) Provide written feedback on the ballot

Please be sure to provide *WRITTEN* feedback on the ballot, even if you also provide oral comments after the round.  That way, coaches can see what happened (and the kids won't forget what you said). 

Your comments should focus on which argument or arguments were most important.  Why did you find the opponent's responses to those arguments unconvincing (e.g., their evidence was old)?  Or - Perhaps both sides had good main points, but one side's arguments were more "weighty" than the other side's. 




  • Introduction to judging Public Forum Debate (~ 16 minutes) - here.  NOTE - At ~ 13:32, the video describes the coin flip that determines which team is PRO and CON, and which team speaks first.  At in-person tournaments, the coin flip takes place with an actual coin.  But at this online tournament, the coinflip will take place over the internet, and as mentioned in the video, as a judge, that means you will not be involved.  But you sill must check with the debaters before the round starts to be sure your ballot lists the PRO/CON designations and team speaking order correctly.  If it doesn't, reload your ballot.
  • How to enter a ballot on Tabroom.com (~ 6 minutes) - here.  NOTE - We made this video for judges participating in online tournaments using the NSDA Campus video platform.  This tournament uses the Classrooms.cloud video platform.  This video briefly mentions getting to your video room for the debate at about 1:15, but that particular step may differ a bit at this tournament.  See Section 6 of this page for information on how to get to your video room on the Classrooms.cloud video platform.  
  • How to take notes ("flow") a debate round (~9 minutes) - here.
  • Example of a debate round - Optional - To see a debate round, see this video (~ 40 minutes) - here.  




(1) Watch for your next assignment 

(1a) Watch for texts AND emails when the next round is due out (see schedule - Section (1).

(1b) Click on your username in the upper right corner of the Tabroom webpage.  Note that sometimes, texts and emails don't go through.

(1c) Come to the judge lounge (see links in Section 2, above).  The judge lounge host can double check if you have an assignment.  Let them know your last name and the school you are associated with (or if you are hired). 

(2) If you do NOT get an assignment, please be available in the judge lounge (link under Section (2), above) so that we can find you in case we need backup judges.  We will release judges as soon as we know our debates have started.

(3) If you DO get an assignment, click the green START button as soon as possible. Clicking START does two things:

(3a) It brings up your ballot in your browser (see Step 5, below). 

(3b) It lets us know that *you* know you will be judging a round. 

If you are not sure if you have an assignment, click on your username (email address) in the upper right corner of the Tabroom webpage.

Note - Because this tournament is double-flighted (see Section (1), above), you will most likely see TWO ballots listed - each with its own START button.  Click *both* START buttons when you get your assignment.

(4) Please proceed to your video room in a timely manner so that the round can begin.  

(5) Check sides and speaking order on your ballot

After the judging assignments go out, the two teams you will be judging determine who will defend PRO and who will defend CON, and which team will speak first and which will speak second. 

Your ballot will list the PRO and CON designations next to each team, and it will list the team speaking first above the team speaking second. 

(5a) After you and the teams you will be judging arrive in the video room, reload your ballot so that it reflects the choices the two teams have made.

(5b) Then verbally confirm that your ballot reflects what the debaters understand is happening.  E.g., say to the debaters, "I have Keene Valley speaking first on the PRO, and Northville speaking second on the CON.  Is that right?  See also the video on how to enter a ballot in Tabroom - here - from about 1:37 to 2:45.  Reload the ballot again if necessary.

(6) Determine which speaker is which so that you can appropriately award speaker points after the round concludes. 

(7) If one of the teams does not show up to your room, contact the tab staff.  See Section 6.


(8) Enter your decision and points when the round concludes - BEFORE speaking to the debaters and BEFORE entering your written comments on the ballot (that's step 11).  See also the video on how to enter a ballot in Tabroom - here 

(8a) Select the winning team from the drop-down at the bottom of the ballot and by clicking on the radio button indicating their side of the resolution. 

(8b) Enter points for each speaker (see guide at right on ballot).  

(8c) Click the SUBMIT button at the bottom, right corner of the ballot.

(8d) Remember to click the big, green CONFIRM button after checking that your entries are correct.

(9) Verbally announce the winner - At this tournament, even if you do not deliver verbal comments explaining your decision, we ask that you at least report out loud the team and side you voted for.  For example, "I voted for Keene Valley on the PRO."

(10) Verbally explain your decision - *optional* - You *may* but are not required to explain verbally why you voted the way you did.  If you do deliver verbal comments, please keep them to no more than 2 minutes.  The debaters need time between rounds to rest and eat - and so do you!

(11) Enter your written comments on the ballot

Please be sure to provide *WRITTEN* feedback on the ballot, even if you also provide verbal comments (Step 10).  That way, coaches can see what happened (and the kids won't forget what you said).

You may enter and revise your comments for the duration of the tournament (until Monday afternoon).  We recommend that you do not wait too long to write your comments because you may not remember the details of the debate.

(11a) Comments entered into the first text box (labeled "Reason for Decision") go to all participants in the round.  Explain here why you voted the way you did.

(11b) Comments best seen by only one team or the other can go into the comment box for that team.  For example, use these boxes if you want to suggest that one debater was more aggressive than necessary in cross-ex. 



Here is a video describing how to navigate the Classrooms.cloud platform - here.

Alternatively - here are the written instructions for getting to your room.

Be sure you are logged in to classrooms.cloud - by going here.  If you are not logged in, one of the options in the red ribbon across the top of the page will be LOGIN.  Click it and enter the same username and password you use to get into Tabroom.

Determine what room you need to get to - either by looking at the ballot you accessed when you clicked START, or by looking at the email or text message you received.

Once you are logged in and know your room, select the CLASSROOMS dropdown menu.  Go to the wing for your event.  For example, if you are judging a varsity round, go to the PUBLIC FORUM (VARSITY) wing.

Find your room and click on it to enter.