Last changed on
Sat November 6, 2021 at 12:28 AM PDT
Quick update for online: I will try to keep my camera on so you can see my reactions, but if my internet is slowing down and hurting the connection, I’ll switch to audio only. For debaters, just follow the tournament rules about camera usage, it doesn’t matter to me and I want you to be comfortable and successful. I will say clear or find another way to communicate that to you if need be. If at all possible, do an email chain or file share (and include your analytics!!) so we can see your speech doc/cards in case technology gets garbled during one of your speeches (and because email chains are good anyway). We’re all learning and adjusting to this new format together, so just communicate about any issues and we’ll figure it out. Your technology quality, clothes, or any other elements that are out of your control are equity issues, and they will never have a negative impact on my decision.
TLDR I am absolutely willing to consider and vote on any clear and convincing argument that happens in the round, I want you to weigh impacts and layer the round for me explicitly, and I like it when you're funny and interesting and when you’re having fun and are interested in the debate. I want you to have the round that you want to have—I vote exclusively based on the flow.
If you care about bio: I’m a coach from Oregon (which has a very traditional circuit) but I also have a lot of experience judging and coaching progressive debate on the national circuit, so I can judge either type of round. I’ve qualified students in multiple events to TOC, NSDA Nats, NDCA, has many State Championship winners, and I’m the former President of the National Parliamentary Debate League. See below for the long version, and if you have specific questions that I don't already cover below, feel free to ask them before the round. I love debate, and I’m happy to get to judge your round!
Yes, I want to be on the email chain: elizahaas7(at)gmail(dot)com
Pronouns: she/her/hers. Feel free to share your pronouns before the round if you’re comfortable doing so.
I vote on flow. I believe strongly that judges should be as non-interventionist as possible in their RFDs, so I will only flow arguments that you actually make in your debates; I won't intervene to draw connections or links for you or fill in an argument that I know from outside the round but that you don't cover or apply adequately. That’s for you to do as the debater--and on that note, if you want me to extend or turn something, tell me why I should, etc. This can be very brief, but it needs to be clear. I prefer depth over breadth. Super blippy arguments won't weigh heavily, as I want to see you develop, extend, and impact your arguments rather than just throw a bunch of crap at your opponent and hope something sticks. I love when you know your case and the topic lit well, since that often makes the difference. If you have the most amazing constructive in the world but then are unable to defend, explicate, and/or break it down well in CX and rebuttals, it will be pretty tough for you if your opponent capitalizes on your lack of knowledge/understanding even a little bit.
I’m pretty standard when it comes to types of argumentation. I've voted for just about every type of case; it's about what happens in round and I don’t think it’s my right as a judge to tell you how to debate. Any of the below defaults are easy to overcome if you run what you want to run, but run it well.
However, if you decide to let me default to my personal preferences, here they are. Feel free to ask me if there's something I don't cover or you're not sure how it would apply to a particular debate form, since they’re probably most targeted to circuit LD:
Have some balance between philosophy and policy (in LD) and between empirics and quality analytics (in every debate form). I like it when your arguments clash, not just your cards, so make sure to connect your cards to your theoretical arguments or the big picture in terms of the debate. I like to see debates about the actual topic (however you decide to interpret that topic in that round, and I do give a lot of leeway here) rather than generic theory debates that have only the most tenuous connections to the topic.
For theory or T debates, they should be clear, warranted, and hopefully interesting, otherwise I'm not a huge fan, although I get their strategic value. In my perfect world, theory debates would happen only when there is real abuse and/or when you can make interesting/unique theory arguments. Not at all a fan of bad, frivolous theory. No set position on RVIs; it depends on the round, but I do think they can be a good check on bad theory. All that being said, I have voted for theory... a lot, so don't be scared if it's your thing. It's just not usually my favorite thing.
Framework debates: I usually find framework debates really interesting (whether they’re couched as role of the ballot arguments, standards, V/C debates, burdens, etc.), especially if they’re called for in that specific round. Obviously, if you spend a lot of time in a round on framework, be sure to tie it back to FW when you impact out important points in rebuttals. I dislike long strings of shaky link chains that end up in nuclear war, especially if those are your only impacts. If the only impact to your argument is extinction with some super sketchy links/impact cards, I have a hard time buying that link chain over a well-articulated and nicely put together link chain that ends in a smaller, but more believable and realistically significant impact.
Parli (and PF) specific framework note: unless teams argue for a different weighing mechanism, I will default to net bens/CBA as the weighing mechanism in Parli and PF, since that’s usually how debaters are weighing the round. Tie your impacts back to your framework.
Ks can be awesome or terrible depending on how they're run. I'm very open to critical affs and ks on neg, as a general rule, but there is a gulf between good and bad critical positions. I tend to absolutely love (love, love) ones that are well-explained and not super broad--if there isn't a clear link to the resolution and/or a specific position your opponent takes, I’ll have a harder time buying it. Run your Ks if you know them well and if they really apply to the round (interact with your opponent's case/the res), not just if you think they'll confuse your opponent or because your teammate gave you a k to read that you don’t really understand. Please don't run your uber-generic Cap Ks with crappy or generic links/cards just because you can't think of something else to run. That makes me sad because it's a wasted opportunity for an awesome critical discussion. Alts should be clear; they matter. Of course for me, alts can be theoretical/discourse-based rather than policy-based or whatnot; they just need to be clear and compelling. When Ks are good, they're probably my favorite type of argument; when their links and/or alts are sketchy or nonexistant, I don't love them. Same basic comments apply for critical affs.
For funkier performance Ks/affs, narratives and the like, go for them if that's what you want to run. Just make sure 1) to tell me how they should work and be weighed in the round and 2) that your opponent has some way(s) to access your ROB. Ideally the 2nd part should be clear in the constructive, but you at least need to make it clear when they CX you about it. If not, I think that's a pretty obvious opportunity for your opponent to run theory on you.
I'm also totally good with judging a traditional LD/Parli/Policy/PF round if that's what you're good at--I do a lot of that at my local tournaments. If so, I'll look at internal consistency of argumentation more than I would in a progressive debate (esp. on the Neg side).
I'm fine with speed; it's poor enunciation or very quiet spreading that is tough. I'll ask you to clear if I need to. If I say "clear," "loud," or “slow” more than twice, it won't affect my decision, but it will affect your speaks. Just be really, really clear; I've never actually had to say "slow," but "clear" and "loud" have reared their ugly heads more than once. If you’re going very quickly on something that’s easy for me to understand, just make sure you have strong articulation. If you can, slow down on tags, card tags, tricky philosophy, and important analytics--at the very least, hammer them hard with vocal emphasis. My perfect speed would probably be an 8 or 9 out of 10 if you’re very clear. That being said, it can only help you to slow down for something you really need me to understand--please slow or repeat plan/CP text, role of the ballot, theory interp, or anything else that is just crazy important to make sure I get your exact wording, especially if I don't have your case in front of me.
Don’t spread another debater out of the round. Please. If your opponent is new to the circuit, please try to make a round they can engage in.
I love humor, fire, and a pretty high level of sassiness in a debate, but don’t go out of your way to be an absolutely ridiculous ass. If you make me chuckle, you'll get at least an extra half speaker point because I think it’s a real skill to be able to inject humor into serious situations and passionate disagreements.
I love CX (in LD and Policy)/CF (in PF) and good POIs (in Parli), so it bugs me when debaters use long-winded questions or answers as a tactic to waste time during CX or when they completely refuse to engage with questions or let their opponent answer any questions. On that note, I'm good with flex prep; keep CXing to your heart's desire--I'll start your prep time once the official CX period is over if you choose to keep it going. CX is binding, but you have to actually extend arguments or capitalize on errors/concessions from CX in later speeches for them to matter much.
If I'm judging you in Parli and you refuse to take any POIs, I'll probably suspect that it means you can't defend your case against questions. Everyone has "a lot to get through," so you should probably take some POIs.
Weird quirk: I usually flow card tags rather than author names the first time I hear them, so try to give me the tag instead of or in addition to the cite (especially the first few times the card comes up in CX/rebuttal speeches or when it's early in the resolution and I might not have heard that author much). It's just a quirk with the way I listen in rounds--I tend to only write the author's name after a few times hearing it but flow the card tag the first time since the argument often matters more in my flow as a judge than the name itself does. (So it's easiest for me to follow if, when you bring it up in later speeches or CX, you say "the Blahblah 16 card about yadda yadda yadda" rather than just "the Blahblah 16 card.") I'll still be able to follow you, but I find it on my flow quicker if I get the basic card tag/contents.
Final Approach to RFD:
I try to judge the round as the debaters want me to judge it. In terms of layering, unless you tell me to layer the debate in another way, I'll go with standard defaults: theory and T come first (no set preference on which, so tell me how I should layer them), then Ks, then other offs, then case--but case does matter! Like anything else for me, layering defaults can be easily overcome if you argue for another order in-round. Weigh impacts and the round for me, ideally explicitly tied to the winning or agreed-upon framework--don't leave it up to me or your opponent to weigh it for you. I never, ever want to intervene, so make sure to weigh so that I don't have to. Give me some voters if you have time, but don’t give me twelve of them. See above for details or ask questions before the round if you have something specific that I haven't covered. Have fun and go hard!
Additional note if I'm judging you in PF or Parli:
- PF: Please don't spend half of crossfire asking "Do you have a card for x?" Uggh. This is a super bad trend/habit I've noticed. That question won't gain you any offense; try a more targeted form of questioning specific warrants. I vote on flow, so try to do the work to cover both sides of the flow in your speeches, even though the PF times make that rough.
- Parli: Whether it’s Oregon- or California-style, you still need warrants for your claims; they'll just look a little different and less card-centric than they would in a prepared debate form. I'm not 100% tabula rasa in the sense that I won't weigh obviously untrue claims/warrants that you've pulled out of your butts if the other team responds to them at all. I think most judges are like that and not truly tab, but I think it's worth saying anyways. I'll try to remember to knock for protected time where that’s the rule, but you're ultimately in charge of timing that if it's open level. Bonus points if you run a good K that's not a cap K.