Michigan Summer Institutes
2019 — Ann Arbor, MI/US
Policy Paradigm ListAll Paradigms: Show Hide
Judging Philosophy - Tim Alderete -The Meadows School - email@example.com
I've tried to make this much shorter:
-It's either Aff prep or Neg prep - No one preps for free.- Text, from a debater I just judged to their coach, who is a friend of mine: “What is your friend on? He started my timer early because I took a deep breath.” Me: I'm gonna put that in my Paradigm!
-I do want to be on the email chain, but I won't be reading along with your speech doc - firstname.lastname@example.org
-I am cantankerous about Prep time - for me, it ends when you hit Send on the Email.
-The majority of my decisions will revolve around a lack of flowing or line by line structure.
-I will vote for most any coherent argument. A "coherent" argument must be one that I can defend to the team or debater who lost. Many think this makes me interventionist, but they don't pref me anyway.
-I not the best judge for bad arguments, the Politics Disad, or dumb theory. I will try to take them as seriously as you do, but everyone has their limits. (For example, I have never voted for disclosure theory, because I have never heard an intelligent argument defending it.)
-I will not vote for Objectionable or Offensive arguments. The "Contact Information Disclosure" argument is dangerous and unethical because it abets online predators. It will receive a loss and minimum points.
-I don't give great speaker points. To compensate, if you show me decent flows you can get up to an extra point. Please do this Before I enter the ballot.
-I "can handle" your "speed" and I will only call "Clearer" once or twice if you are unclear.
-I have judged and coached a lot of LD rounds – I like philosophical arguments more than you may expect.
-I have judged and coached a lot of Policy rounds – I tend to think like a Policy debater.
If I'm in the judge pool or I am about to judge your debate and forgot to post my updated paradigm, email me and I'll upload it.
My complete philosophy/paradigm/preferences for policy debate is over 3,600 words long, but the bottom line is I'm a techy policy guy that likes A) real policy solutions, B) details about the solution you choose to advocate, and C) a substantive nuanced discussion of the real world costs, benefits, and trade-offs of the same.
Email chain: email@example.com –always
Bored? Well there's an answer to that too. https://play2048.co/
Will update again for Northwestern -with a longer paradigm
I think the game is best when students are comfortable and presenting arguments at a high level. I will try my best to adjudicate the debate in front of me. Here are some things to keep in mind:
1. I'm decently versed in anti-blackness literature. So if that is your thing, awesome. I'm excited to hear your particular work. Just know because of my background I have a high threshold for that argument set. If it's not, that's ok but just know I expect arguments to have a certain level of depth to them and won't just vote on arguments that I don't understand.
2. I haven't judge alot on this topic. So different topic phrasings have to be parsed out for me.
3. I'm all about the link and impact game
4. Not a fan of the overly confrontational approach
5. Slow down on analytics
6. I'm very expressive judging debates so pay attention to the non-verbals
7. FW is cool with me - has to be impacted well.
8. DA/CPs are cool if explained well.
9. Will vote on condo - not a fan of conditional planks
Hope this helps.
Hey, my name is Genevieve Barnett and I am a debater with Liberty University. I have debated with Liberty's team for 2 years now and my experience in debate so far has been limited to policy debate.
Delivery: In terms of speech delivery, I have no problem with spreading, as long as words are intelligible and clear. Style, while important in some aspects, will never outweigh arguments that are made in speeches. Well-formed, clearly articulated points must supersede style, otherwise there will be no substance in the debate.
Line by Line: Debate should be whatever the teams involved want it to be. Explain your points well and I will vote on them. I will evaluate the debate based off of the line by line. That means if one team makes a role of the ballot and it is dropped, my entire framework for evaluating the round will be the conceded ROB. That also means that if an argument is not extended throughout the speeches in a debate, I will find it hard to vote on. The same is also true for new arguments in later speeches. An exception to this rule, however, is when debaters provide a reason they should be allowed new arguments in later speeches and their opponents do not contest it.
Topicality: Topicality will always be a viable strategy in front of me. Explain the arg well, out-debate your opponents, and you'll get the ballot. But, if you're really going for it, you better commit in the final speech.
Kritiks: Same as topicality: win the argument and I will vote for you. I have a high threshold, however, for debaters to explain the links, alternative, and impacts. If I don’t know how the alt resolves its impacts, I can’t vote on the alt and I won’t kick it for you unless you tell me otherwise. Links need to be clearly explained and contextualized to the AFF. The impact needs to be fleshed out and you need to tell me why it outweighs the other arguments in the round.
Flowing: Yes, I do flow. I will do my best to note all of the arguments you make in your speeches provided that I can hear you clearly.
At the end of the day, I will evaluate the debate by the rules debaters establish within round. Have fun and debate well!
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Yes, I want to be on the email chain. Feel free to email me with any questions you may have about the round!
add me to the email chain- email@example.com
Judge instruction for how I should evaluate / prioritize arguments matters a lot. I am completely willing to suspend all logic and evaluate the round based on the flow. Truth is unimportant for me. I will flow cross x.
I decide rounds rather quickly, and I think about the debate less than the average judge. That is not out of a lack of care. The more time I spend mulling over the debate the greater the risk I will unconsciously insert my own interventions as I get further away from the debate itself. I do my best to minimize this. That means it is on the debaters to explain how different arguments interact, since I am less willing to try and parse that together in the post round. Also why I think judge instruction for how to prioritize arguments matters more for me than a lot of judges.
I am unlikely to decide a debate solely on what occurred outside of the round.
I don’t like to decide debates on my own opinions of evidence quality. Telling me to read a card after the round is not an argument, you are instead asking me to arbitrarily insert my own opinion and vote on it, which I do not like to do but will if both teams force it. If your card is better and you should win the argument because of it, then explain why that is the case and what you hope I would conclude from reading the card.
Insert generic statement about how while all judges have their predisposition, I try my best to limit it when making decisions. I probably would rather not be judging a debate in the first place, so while I have my preferences it doesn't end up bothering me what you run, and a couple stronger preferences are noted further below.
I know that is not particularly reassuring if you end up with me as an unfamiliar judge in the back as most try and make the same claim. So things that may illuminate my potential biases - I read exclusively policy argument for four years at the University of Iowa and throughout high school. I currently am a graduate assistant coach at the University of Iowa, and primarily coach a K team (though to be fair, most of my utility comes from helping to answer policy affs). People at Iowa have told me I tend to think about debates in a very quantitative manner, so whatever that means. I am currently getting my MPH degree in Biostatistics. Two people who have influenced how I think about both debate and in general are Ethan Museand Ellis Chen. My baseline emotion is something close to boredom. My astrological sun sign is a capricorn. My ssn includes a 3.
Argument specific preferences
For framework rounds, I tend to prefer aff arguments that impact turn fairness, clash, etc. more than arguments centered around ethical subject formation. For the neg, fairness and limits are better than advocacy skills type arguments.
For CPs, I default to judge kick unless successfully instructed to otherwise. Sufficiency framing tends to not make that much sense to me, but you do you. I'm pretty lenient with what the negative is allowed to fiat.
My knowledge of the courts / judiciary branch is unusually terrible. Err towards overexplaining those things to me if the nuances matter.
If your 1nc is close to 9 off policy arguments and one half highlighted singular K card, and that K becomes the majority of the block, I feel much sympathy for the 1ar.
Notes for High School Debaters Only (hopefully)
- noticing this a lot with high school debaters lately, asking "did you read x card" DOES count as cross x time. I will be very annoyed if / when I realize that you were not running the timer for the minute you spent asking clarification questions about what cards your opponent read. If you are asking clarification questions about what the other team said and are not running either the prep or cx timer while doing so, I will dock 0.2 speaks from both members of the same team.
- A marked doc is shows all the cards that you marked, meaning stopped reading part way through. It shows where the cards were marked. A marked doc is NOT for removing cards that you didn't read. Too many teams are asking for marked docs when the opponent didn't mark any cards, just skipped some.
- An ethics violation is a reason to stop the round, clipping, miscutting cards, etc. The next time one of you make an ethics violation I will decide right then. There is no debating it out. If you want to debate it out, it's not an ethics violation and do not call it such. This is not trendy. Only make it if you are truly sure that your opponent did something unethical in regards to evidence (cuts in middle of paragraph, strawman, etc). I am very hesitant to vote down a high school student because they read a card that was missing an author qualification that probably some sophomore on their team cut.
Put me on the email chain: firstname.lastname@example.org
Debated for Niles West 4 years, now debate at UTD, go for what you want, ill try to adapt.
LD exception - If an argument can be described a a 'trick', please dont read it in front of me. Likewise, if your theory argument is based on something you opponent didn't do, it is probably unpersuasive to me.
Go for what you want to go for, if you got a K aff, make sure you can beat framework, if you go for a process cp, make sure you can beat theory, etc, etc, I will try my hardest to adapt and judge the round as objectively as possible.
I love line-by-line. The more you engage with your opponent's arguments, the more likely you are to win and the higher your speaks will be.
I won't vote on things that happened out of round or in other debates.
You can insert rehighlightings of the other team's evidence, text of a card only needs to be read once for it to be evaluated.
No racism/sexism/etc, be nice. Don't do that thing where you delete tags or read new affs on paper or stuff like that to make your speech harder to read.
I've become more willing to comb through evidence over the years, but it's mostly out of curiosity since debaters seem to be getting better at spinning ev, obviously I have my limits, but the debate includes the debate over the evidence.
I think conditionality is good, it seems to be necessary in this day and age when topics are very broad. I've become more neg biased recently but maybe it's just my disillusion with one unwarranted sentence of condo bad somehow becoming an entire 2ar. Condo in general seems to have gotten significantly more shallow. There probably is some point at which condo becomes bad, but I can't truthfully see myself voting for condo bad absent some egregious neg strategy or technical error.
Since it has come up more than once, my stance on judge kick is that I will presume judge kick if nothing has been said on theory, if the aff wants to win no judge kick, then you must at least make the arg in the 1ar.
You get infinite condo against new or undisclosed affs.
I personally don't particularly like process cps, this is a sliding scale, as consult ICJ or a commission cp seems less competitive than something like a states cp on face, but it seems like people are either unwilling or unable to actually invest time in theory in the 1ar anyways, so it often doesn't matter. I think fiating multiple actors (think both USFG and the states, not the states cp, or fiating compliance with another actor whom you fiat) is probably cheating, but I can be convinced otherwise. I tend to lean neg on theory questions despite all that
I like Ks the more specific the link analysis is. I tend to think of Ks as one or multiple thesis statements that, if won, should theoretically disprove the aff. This means the more you pull warrants from cards, explain the aff in the terms of your K, etc, the more likely it is that you beat the perm since that explanation makes links a lot more salient. That's a lot more persuasive than big aff/neg framework pushes to me
FW/T vs K affs. Since this is the only portion of a paradigm that matters for most pref sheets, yes I will vote on framework, yes I will vote against it. These debates seem to come down to impact comparison, as usually it seems hard to win either topical affs are necessary to prevent the entire collapse of this activity, versus framework is genocide, which makes winning as much of your impact quite important. Fairness impact seem to make intrinsic sense to me if debate is a game, but im not sure why that is a catch-all win if the aff wins debate rounds have impacts.
On a side note, I hate long overviews. Overviews should be for args that either: a. Are significantly more important and necessary for your argument to work, or b. Don't make sense when on the line-by-line (eg, meta-framing for how I should evaluate a debate). If you can do it on the flow, do it on the flow.
Please say something about the affirmative case...
I am the debate coach at Blue Valley North HS. I was a policy debater at Wichita State University (2012) and a graduate assistant at the University of Kansas. I have taught camp at Michigan or Kansas every year since I graduated. I typically judge 50-80 policy rounds per year (has been fewer during the pandemic), plus some pf/ld/speech.
email chain: brianbox4 @ gmail dot com - do not stop prep until you hit send on the emal.
I want you to debate how someone who debated in college wants you to debate. Demonstrate a confident command of the topic literature. You should read lots of evidence, I'll read your evidence. Speak clearly. Communicate to the judge. Have a clear plan for cross-examination. Your speeches should reflect thoughtful execution of an intentional strategy. Don't read random things in the 1NC for the sake of reading them. Keep the debate moving, don't steal prep, say when you mark a card. Don't rely on obfuscation or seek to avoid clash. Engage the core of their position.
I care far more about your ability to send an email, speak clearly and refute arguments than the type of arguments you read. Good debate good, bad debate bad. I will vote for any argument you win.
At the first tournament of the year I gave multiple teams speaker points that I thought communicated that they were really good. After reviewing the points at the end of the weekend, I realized I need to adjust for inflation. I will work from the assumption that 28.8 means "should break," 29.0 means "should get a bye through the hypothetical partials" and 29.5+ means "should get a speaker award."
I will vote on defensive arguments against incomplete affirmatives. E.g. If the affirmative "plan" is the resolution plus one word I am willing to vote negative on stock issues. The aff advocacy is not distinguishable from the status quo and does not match the recommendation of the solvency evidence. I don't think there is a way of establishing a topicality violation outside of the words in the plan, but I also have no intention of allowing the aff to read the resolution, say "we meet, the CP isn't competitive and the DA doesn't link, but also we solve these really specific advantages." You should punish the aff for reading a vague plan. This is me saying I will vote on stock issues or vagueness.
Evidence matters a lot. I read lots of evidence and it heavily factors into my decision. Cross-ex is important and the best ones focus on the evidence. Author qualifications, histories, intentions, purpose, funding, etc. matter. The application of author indicts/epistemic arguments about evidence mean more to me than many judges. I find myself more than willing to ignore poorly supported arguments.
I cannot emphasize enough how much clarity matters to me. If you have dramatic tone changes between tag and card, where you can barely be heard when reading the text of evidence, you will get lower points from me. If I can't understand the argument, it doesn't count. There is no difference between being incoherent and clipping. Reading directly into the screen at top speed, no matter how clear you are, is still nearly impossible for me to understand.
Either get good or get good at going for theory. Judge kick is the logical extension of conditionality. I am far more likely to be convinced by a qualitative interpretation than a quantitative one. I am more likely to vote aff on an objection to counterplan competition than I am an argument limiting the scope of negative fiat. Obviously the two are not entirely separable. This is not me saying "don't go for theory," this is me saying that your theory argument needs to be more than simply describing what happened in the debate.
The link matters the most.The first thing I look at is the link. When in conflict, it is more important to spend time on the link than the impact.
Montgomery Bell Academy
University of Michigan - Assistant Coach, Institute Instructor
Juan Diego Catholic
Notre Dame in Sherman Oaks
Jordan (UT) 96-98
College of Eastern Utah 99
Cal St Fullerton 01-04
Points will generally stay between 27.5 and 29.9. It generally takes between a 28.6 and 28.7 to clear. I assign points with that in mind. Teams that average 28.65 or higher in a debate means that I thought your points were elimination round-level debates. While it's not an exact science, 28.8-28.9 mean you had a good chance advancing the elimination rounds, 29+ indicates excellence reserved for quarters+. I'm not stingy with these kinds of points and they have nothing to do with past successes. It has everything to do with your performance in THIS debate.
1. Jumping is no longer considered prep.
2. Please do your best to reserve restroom breaks before the opposing team's speeches and not right before your own.
3. Try to treat each other with mutual respect.
4. Cards MUST be marked during the speech. Please say "Mark the card" and please have you OR your partner physically mark the cards in the speech. It is not possible to remember where you've marked your cards after the speech. Saying "mark the card" is the only way to let your judge and competitors know that you are not intending to represent that you've read the entirety of the card. Physically marking the card in the speech is necessary to maintain an accurate account of what you did or didn't read.
My 20 years in the community has led me to have formulated some opinions about how the activity should be run. I'm not sharing these with you because I think this is the way you have to debate, but because you may get some insight about how to win and earn better speaker points in front of me.
1) Conceded claims without warrants - A conceded argument is only given as much weight as the warrant that supports it. You still must have a warrant to support your claim...even if the argument has been conceded. If no warrant has been provided, then it wasn't ever an argument to begin with. For theory arguments to rise to the level of an actual "argument", they have to be properly warranted. If your conditionality argument takes less than 5 seconds to read, it's probably not an argument. "Condo -strat skew, voter....I hope they drop it" very well might be dropped, and not voted on. Politics theory arguments and Permutations fall into this same category. A perm must describe how it resolves the link to the net benefit to be an argument. You can't win on "perm: do the cp" without a reason it resolves the aff and should be theoretically allowed. "Vote NO" and "Fiat solves the link" need to have warrants also. If you are the victim of a theory arg like this, vote no, or intrinsicness, or whatever short thought, do not give up on this argument. You should be honest about not having flowed the argument because of its absurd brevity. You should also make arguments about how the development of those arguments in the 1ar are all new and should be rejected and your new answers be allowed. Affirmatives should make complete theory args in front of me, and negatives shouldn't be afraid to point out that the argument lacked a credible warrant.
2) Voting issues are reasons to reject the argument. (Other than conditionality)
3) Don't make affirmative statements in CX to start your response to a CX question you disagree with. For example, if one is asked "Is your plan a bad idea?' You shouldn't start your response with "sure" or "right", and then go on to disagree with the question. If you need a filler word or phrase, find one that doesn't posit an affirming response.
4) Debate stays in the round -- Debate is a game of testing ideas and their counterparts. Those ideas presented inside of the debate will be the sole factor used in determining the winning team. Things said or done outside of this debate round will not be considered when determining a winning team.
Topicality vs Conventional Affs: I default to competing interpretations on topicality, but can be persuaded by reasonability. Jurisdiction means nothing to me because I see jurisdiction being shaped by the questions of predictability, limits, and fairness. Topicality is a voting issue.
Topicality vs Critical Affs: I generally think that policy debate is a good thing and that a team should both have a plan and defend it. Given that, I have no problem voting for "no plan" advocacies or "fiat-less" plans. I will be looking for you to win that your impact turns to topicality/framework outweigh the loss of education/fairness that would be given in a "fiated" plan debate. I generally think affirmative teams struggle with answering the argument that they could advocate the majority of their aff while defending a topical plan. I also think that teams who stress they are a pre-requisite to topical action have a more difficult time with topical version type arguments, then teams do who impact turn standards. If you win that the state is irredeemable at every level, you are much more likely to get me to vote against FW. The K aff teams who have had success in front of me have been very good at generating a reasonable list of arguments that negative teams could run against them in order to mitigate the fairness impact of the T/FW argument. This makes the impact turns of a stricter limit much more persuasive to me.
I'm also in the fairness camp as a terminal impact, as opposed to an emphasis on portable skills. I think you can win that T comes before substantive issues.
One note to teams that are neg against an aff that lacks stable advocacy: Make sure you adapt your framework arguments to fit the aff. Don't read..." you must have a plan" if they have a plan. If a team has a plan but doesn't defend fiat, and base your ground arguments on that violation.
Counterplans and Disads: The more specific to the aff, the better. There are few things better than a well-researched PIC that just blind sites a team. Objectively, I think counterplans that compete on certainty or immediacy are not legitimate. However, I still coach teams to run these arguments, and I can still evaluate a theory debate about these different counterplans as objectively as possible. Again, the more specific the evidence is to the aff, the more legitimate it will appear.
The K: I was a k debater and a philosophy major in college and you are welcome to run a criticism in front of me. I prefer criticisms that are specific to the resolution. If your K links don't discuss arms sales this year, then it's unlikely to be very persuasive to me. I think that impact comparisons usually become the most important part of a kritik, and the excessive link list becomes the least of a team’s problems heading into the 2nr. You need to win that either a) you turn the case and have an external impact or b) you solve the case and have an external impact. Root cause arguments are good, but rarely address the timeframe issue of case impacts. If you are going to win your magnitude comparisons, then you better do a lot to mitigate the case impacts. I also find most framework arguments associated with a K near pointless. Most of them are impacted by the K proper and therefore depend on you winning the K in order to win the framework argument. Before devoting any more time to framework beyond getting your K evaluated, you should ask yourself and clearly state to me, what happens if you win your theory argument. You should craft your "role of the ballot" argument based on the answer to that question. I am willing to listen to sequencing arguments that EXPLAIN why discourse, epistemology, ontology, ect. come first.
Conclusion: I love debate...good luck if I'm judging you and please feel free to ask any clarifying questions.
In an effort to promote disclosure at the high school level, any team that practices near-universal "open source" will be awarded .2 extra per debater if you bring that to my attention prior to the RFD.
Pronouns are she/her
Director of Debate at GBS since 2019, assistant coach for a year before that
My job mostly involves teaching (novice debate + varsity policy + English/Social Studies), admin work. I do not know the topic and I didn’t work at camp. I do not know topic acronyms.
I like cats more than I like people.
*My teams do everything - some are hard right policy teams and some are ... not that. I tend to think that debaters debate best when they find their own brand of debate and let their personality shine through.
*Style: Don’t be a jerk for the sake of it, but you shouldn’t feel pressure to be sugary sweet if you’re not - expectations of civility, politeness, etc tend to fall on non cis dudes and BIPOC disproportionately. Therefore a little attitude is fine with me. It’s a competition.
*I've deleted most of my philosophy because I found this year that the rounds where I was most confused about what on Earth teams were doing were the ones were people were trying to over adapt. Please don't do this. I find I'm much better at adapting to teams than teams are at adapting to me (no offense.) Here are just the absolute most important things.
*Won't judge kick for you automatically. You can make the arg that I should judge kick for you; it just won't be my predisposition to do so automatically.
*Clarity is very important to me. So is pen time.
*I often end up flowing straight down as an inevitable consequence of sloppy line by line.
*Zero risk is a thing. Love me some smart defensive arguments against silly arguments.
*I tend to decide quickly and give my best rfds when that’s the case. Don’t be offended - it doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good debate.
*If you're making new args late in the debate you're likely to have to justify them to me. That doesn't mean don't do it, it just means defend your actions.
* No touching.
*Clipping = zero points and a hot L. Clarity to the point of non-comprehension that causes a clipping challenge constitutes clipping.
*Please stop trying to classify me as a "K person" or a "policy person." This divide is exceptionally harmful to the community. Spoiler alert, you'll be a better debater if you're flex. I grew up in policy land but also debated in college on the left coast so when people try to classify me they're usually wrong. I get bored easily so I enjoy judging a wide range of debates. I like the topic and think taking action in the 1AC is important... I like even more when judges let the debaters do the debating and try to decide the round as objectively as possible. The times when my background and preferences come into play are only when the debaters don't resolve issues for me and I have no choice but to insert my own opinion.
I welcome any questions you might have and really quite enjoy talking about judging practices. Feel free to email me anytime.Please copy your coach when you email me.
Refutation, refutation, refutation!
Picky about evidence quality
Boston College '21. I'm a first year law student, and I really enjoy this topic. I really enjoy debate in general.
For college debate, I'm most competent in K and clash debates, but I like policy too- just make sure to signpost and be clear on your tech. I've been every speaker position and made most styles of argument at some point in my career.
Here is how I generally judge rounds:
1) I form my decision by looking at the arguments in the final two speeches, and then work backwards on the flow as needed. I will look for the simplest and cleanest path to a ballot.
2) I start by answering questions on fw/rotb/rotj and use them to resolve other things on the flow. By default, I vote for the team that does the better debating, and I think the role of the ballot and judge is to decide a winner and loser in the debate.
(In most cases, framework/theory alone will not be enough for me to completely throw out ontology claims. "If they win on substance it's because we couldn't test them" is usually not the most persuasive argument. Same with "they link harder because they made an argument against us." Those types of arguments are usually circular. You should always have and defend a theory of how the world/debate works.)
3) I decide the round by weighing both teams' risk of offense. Most of my decisions come down to the strength of the links compared to the net benefit of the case/perm. Uniqueness is important because it determines the net effect of the links.
4) The quality of the link debate will greatly influence how I weigh impacts. It's difficult for me to weigh impacts in a void. Impact calculus should be holistic.
5) Where I don’t have enough analysis on the flow to decide these things, I look to evidence quality and compare warrants. It’s not really fair for a judge to do that, so you should weigh the evidence for me.
Here are some other points on how I approach judging:
1) Incomplete, blippy arguments in the 1NC/2AC are entitled to new responses. But ideally the debate should get smaller over time, not larger. Late-breaking arguments tend to hurt the team making them.
2) Please don’t pref me if your style is to get up in the block and read 50 cards at a dizzying pace. It will mess up my flow. More analysis > more cards.
3) I'm tech over truth but not to the point where i'll vote on a random unwarranted perm or a 5-second theory shell just because it gets dropped. Technical concessions matter, but only to the extent you leverage them in your analysis of the argument itself.
Good luck, have fun, and feel free to ask any questions!
Head Coach - Washburn Rural High School, Topeka, KS
Email chain - email@example.com
First thing is first, if anything in this paradigm isn't clear enough, feel free to ask me before the round, I'd be more than happy to clarify.
NATO topic updates:
Plan vagueness is becoming a problem that is increasingly important on a topic with such poor negative ground. If you want good points, you should be ready to describe what your plan does in cx. If you want great points, you should also let some other things compete with said plan. The negative can win in front of me on a resolutionally based vagueness argument.
If your plan says "one or more of the following" I am more than willing to vote neg on a T argument with an aff conditionality argument.
If you are negative and read T - Article 5, you have not read a definition and thus have not introduced a full topicality argument into the round. Until a definition of NATO is read, I will not vote for the argument even if dropped, because you have not met the burden of proof that NATO is Article 5.
10 minutes of prep is a lot. Debate rounds are very long, especially if I have to keep judging some of them online. At a tournament with 10 minutes of prep, I will boost speaker points by +.1 each if you agree to use 8 minutes of prep, and +.3 each if the teams use 5 minutes of prep.
Tl;dr - I judge quite a bit, about 100 rounds last year, and am generally pretty familiar with the topic from coaching and working at camps. As a competitor I gravitated toward plan oriented affs and CP/DA strategies on the neg and have coached teams who debate similarly, but I am open to you debating however you would like to. I have literature deficiencies in some areas that make me less knowledgeable of certain strategies. I am also a teacher who believes in debate as an educational activity, so I am generally open to listening to you debate in whatever fashion you're the most comfortable.
If you would like to know more specifics, they are below.
Topicality: I feel like topicality is usually a question of competing interpretations, but just like anything else in debate, you can persuade me otherwise. I tend to think that debaters are not great at explaining the terminal impact that they have on T flows, and particularly, how offensive arguments interact with one another. I have seen a lot of 2ARs recently where the aff doesn't extend a terminal impact to their counter interp. I pretty much always vote neg in these situations. All too often the neg will go for a limits DA and the aff will say precision, but no one will discuss which one has more value in creating a stable model for debate. Reasonability alone is not an argument that makes sense to me, absent an offensive argument. Good is good enough is nonsense - if you are close to beating a DA, I'm still going to vote neg on the DA outweighs. If you want to utilize a reasonability argument more persuasively, I would suggest that you frame it almost like sufficiency on the counterplan and have an offensive reason that inclusion of the aff is good. As far as spec debates, I usually find them quite dull. I am very unlikely to vote on a hidden specification argument.
T USfg: I find that T USfg debates to me are usually an issue of fairness. If the neg ultimately tries to win a topic education vs education of the aff argument, they will likely lose. It is probably better to either win that fairness is an independent impact that outweighs education, or win that clash allows you to solve the aff's education offense. Central to convincing me to vote for a non-resolutionally based affirmative is their ability to describe to me what the role of the negative would be under their model of debate. K affs can gain a lot of leeway with me by being in the direction of the resolution and defending at least some links in the realm of topic literature. I am not a very good judge for affs that have no resolutional basis. If you want to win an affirmative with little to no educational basis, I think the best way to win my ballot is to impact turn topicality/predictability/fairness, and not really defend a counterinterp that is designed to solve any limits. I think that many negative teams defending T against a planless aff are not very ready to defend that debate is good, so challenging this premise is often an easy path to victory in front of me. Regardless, I also think that the aff has a better chance by focusing most of their time on impact turning framework and then using the directionality of the aff toward the topic in order to win some defense against the negs framework claims.
Theory: Most theory debates are people reading blocks back and forth and are totally useless and a recipe for low points. I usually default to rejecting the argument and not the team. Conditionality is an exception to that rule, and one that is pretty winnable in front of me. If you do not mention the topic that I am adjudicating a debate on, and how the division of ground affects the importance of conditionality on that topic, I am likely to assume that you are just reading a backfile and your points will reflect that.
Kritiks: I tend to judge more rounds that are policy v policy or policy v K. That doesn't mean I don't vote on the K, it simply means that I tend to not be as deep in the literature on these debates, and your arguments might require a bit more explanation. The most persuasive version of kritiks in front of me right now either make a large push for an alternative that resolves either some of the aff impacts or a larger impact than the aff, or go for a very large framework push that I should not weigh the aff. I think that good K teams are able to contextualize their argument with the world of the affirmative. If the neg is going to try and go for just framework and a link/ethics argument, I think it is important that they focus a substantial amount of time on the framework debate, and try and have an interpretation of framework that is not completely arbitrary. If you are able to win framework and a unique link then you're probably good without an alt. If you are going to go for an alternative, it is probably important that you explain to me how the alternative functions and how the alt resolves the links to the K and probably portions of the affirmative, otherwise you will be susceptible to losing on the aff outweighs. Be descriptive of how the alt functions. I am intrigued by the idea of philosophical/ideological competition or competing imaginaries or whatever you want to call it. I think that it is likely a model for competition that would make being negative pretty broken, but I also think that aff teams are not very good at debating why this model for competition is bad, and thus it is pretty winnable for the neg to me that they compete in that way and they can fiat their alt with no aff perms.
Disads/Counterplans/Case: These are the types of debate I am most familiar with. I think the case debate is under utilized, and that the education topic in 2017-2018 was the beginning of the end of case debate. I wish that more teams would focus on the internal links to the aff advantages instead of just reading impact defense and hoping that a CP solves with a small risk of a bad DA. I think delay counterplans are cheating. Process CPs might be necessary on some topics, and the negative can convince me that they are competitive, but the aff can also convince me that they are not.
Things I like: Evidence comparison. Debaters who don't read off their computer for the whole debate. Well thought out strategies. Debaters who are funny/having fun. Warranted arguments/smart analytics. Rebuttals that paint a clear picture of what an aff/neg ballot means.
Things I dislike: Bluetooth speakers, must define all terms, running arguments you don't really understand, death good, topicality = genocide, general rudeness, stealing prep time, and clipping cards.
Disclaimer: I love the activity of debate, and think that it is a place where all types of debate styles/debaters should be welcome. If you are excessively rude to the other team (laughing during speeches, being disrespectful in cross-x, etc) I will let you know. If the behavior continues, there is a strong chance that I will vote against you on principle.
Current Director of Speech and Debate at NSU University School in Davie, FL.
Former Director of Forensics and Full time policy debate coach at Cypress Bay High School in Weston, FL (7 years).
General: First judging philosophies are silly. Read whatever arguments you would like to read that you think are best appropriate for that round. I will not wholesale discount or credit arguments at face value. I think people should be nice to each other. I believe in tech over truth within reason, a shitty argument is a shitty argument regardless if it's conceded but, if an argument is dropped it's probably true and my threshold for extension/impact calc is much lower. I will also add .5 to your speaker points (guidelines below) if you engage in GOOD LBL Debate that include numbers in the 2AC. I miss organization. I prefer to have the least amount of judge intervention this means saying things like "extend" are necessary for me. Most importantly I believe the debate round isn't about me it's about the debaters. You do you and you'll be fine (mostly).
Pet Peeves that may result in lower speaker points
1) Longer than 20 second overviews on ANYTHING ever.
2) Claiming you'll go LBL and then failing miserably
3) Responding to a CX question with "we don't take a stance on that"
4) Being generally rude/mean to others. Making people feel unsafe, forcing disclosure of identities etc.
5) I'll do X debate here. This is inefficient but more importantly it normally means you're answering arguments that are in fact not on that place on the flow.
Framework Debates: I don't think you need to defend a plan or the state but I do think you need to defend your interpretation of debate if pressed. Fairness/Predictability are probably good impacts but I can be persuaded otherwise. I think "fair for whom?" Is also an appropriate question when asked in a persuasive manner. I find when I do end up voting on FW it's entirely frustrating if all of the arguments from one side are in a long narrative overview and the other is extending specific arguments on a flow. I am not inclined to take arguments from one piece of a flow and apply them elsewhere without being told.
Planless Debates: I think these debates can be awesome and really enjoyable to watch, however I think you need to defend your interpretation of debate. If that means you don't have to talk about the resolution then tell me why. If that means you don't have to have a plan text that's fine just explain/defend yourself. I sometimes find Framework arguments responsive, and reasons to reject the affirmative it quite honestly just depends on the debate round.
Topicality: I think a lot of the affirmatives on this year's topic are not topical. I'll default to competing interpretations if not told otherwise. I find arguments that Fairness/predictability are good and pretty persuasive. Topicality is never a reverse voting issue, but some K's of T might be persuasive. I think if you go for T in the 2NR you need to extend your Interp, Violation & Impacts clearly.
K's: IF you read high theory stuff (Baudrillard mainly) I might not be the judge for you and/or you need further explanation. Psychoanalysis is bunk science is a believable arg for me. And Presumption is never a winning strategy. Something like Hostage taking really shouldn't be read in front of me, I find myself thinking "who cares" I think rejection is enough of an alternative almost all of the time. Reading FW against K's I don't really ever think is a round winning argument. I'm most likely going to default that the aff gets !!s and the K gets to exist.
CPs/DAs: I don't see these debates very often, but few things. I don't think counter-plans need to be textually competitive. I think if you don't have offense on the disad I'm not likely to vote aff, I don't think terminal defense is almost ever a thing. And I am not willing to judge kick arguments. I AM NOT AN ECONOMIST do not assume I understand anything about the economy at all. It's for everyone's benefit I promise.
Speaker points ... I've done a lot of thinking about this and have decided that my speaker points did not reflect the current inflation and probably unfairly punish teams from breaking when speaker points matter. I will try to follow to the following guidelines:
medicore (you probably aren't breaking): 28.3-28.8,
I'm almost impressed. Perhaps you'll break": 28.8-29.3
I'm impressed, you even were organized and did LBL: 29.4-29.7
Best speech I've ever seen. 29.8-30
E-mail me if you have any questions and include me on email chains please :) firstname.lastname@example.org
PUBLIC FORUM TOC PHILOSOPHY 2019
1) I primarily judge policy so most of my reasoning etc will default to policy norms instead of PF norms.
2) BE NICE!!! This includes using offensive/racist/sexist/rhetoric. If this is done you will receive 20 speaker points.
3) I think the 2nd rebuttal needs to answer the speech that has preceded it, and extend theirs.
4) I judge/evaluate arguments as they are presented on the flow. Arguments should be answered in the order they are presented.
5) You should flash speeches or use email chains. Prep is continuously running once speeches end.
6) Terminalize your impacts. There are 3 ways and only 3 ways to evaluate impacts: magnitude, timeframe and probability. Nothing else. Use those. Anything else (like scope) will result in a loss of speaker points.
7) You must read dates. I highly recommend you do not paraphrase evidence. I will evaluate paraphrased evidence as analytics not as real evidence.
8) Disclosure is your friend. You must disclose before the debate to myself/and the other team. Doing so will result in higher speaks. If someone discloses and either a) you do not and they read disclosure theory OR b) you LIE about what you've disclosed, I consider this a TKO. This means if disclosure theory is read in the round then it is basically over. Not disclosing or lying is indefensible.
9) You can only extend things in a subsequent speech if it was in the previous speech. This means defense in summaries, impacts in all speeches, evidence extended etc.
10) Defense does not win debate rounds, you need to extend/evaluate/weigh OFFENSE. A failure to do so will result in a mental coin flip on my part because it's impossible to evaluate competing/unwarranted defensive claims.
These are most of the predispositions I have about arguments that I can think of, these are not ironclad as my views on debate are constantly in flux. However, without being instructed otherwise, the below points will likely influence how I evaluate the debate.
-Please add me to the email chain, email@example.com and please make the subject something that is easy to search like "NDT 4 - Michigan DM v UCO HS."
-I prefer to flow on paper, but if you would like me to flow on my computer so I can share the flow after the debate, just ask.
-I read along with speech docs and prefer clear, relatively slow, and organized debates. I am still trying to hone flowing in online debate.
-I cannot emphasize enough how important card quality and recency should be in debates, but it requires debaters to frame arguments about that importance.
-If you break a new aff and you don't want to share the docs, I will chalk it up to academic cowardice and presume that the aff is largely a pile of crap.
-Evidence can be inserted if the lines were read in CX, but otherwise this act is insufficient. I will only look at graphs and charts if they are analyzed in the debate.
-I generally think war good arguments are akin to genocide good. I also think dedev is absolute nonsense.
-The past year of my life has been filled with the death of loved ones, please don't remind me of it while I'm judging a debate. I categorically refuse to evaluate any argument that could have the thesis statement of death good or that life is not worth living.
-Affs should be willing to answer cross-x questions about what they'll defend.
2021-2022 Topic Thoughts:
-I am more involved in argument coaching than I have been in the past view years, but I am not an anti-trust lawyer so a lot of the terms and concepts that debaters distort are lost on me. I sense that I will give a series of RFDs this year that are premised around, "you might be upset with this decision, but this concept was not adequately explained to me."
-I hope the affirmative holds the negative accountable for the expansive interpretation of fiat. For the most part, I do not understand how the states CP legally functions. CPs that are premised on a distinction without a difference do not excite me.
-T arguments about terms that are not in the topic are interesting, but why?
How to sway me:
-More narrativization is better than less
-Ev quality - I think higher quality and recent ev is a necessity. Make arguments about the qualifications of authors, how to evaluate evidence, and describe what events have happened to complicate the reading of their evidence from 2012.
-The 2nr/2ar should spend the first 15-20 seconds explaining how I should vote with judge instruction. If you laid a trap, now is the time to tell me, because I’m probably not going to vote on something that wasn’t flagged as an argument.
-I can flow with the best of them, but I enjoy slower debates so much more.
-More case debate. The 2ac is often too dismissive of case args and the neg often under-utilizes them.
-If reading cards after the debate is required for me to have comprehension of your argument, I’m probably not your judge. I tend to vote on warranted arguments that I have flowed and read cards to evaluate particular warrants that have been called into question. That said, I intend on reading along with speech docs this year.
-I think internal links are the most important parts of an argument; I am more likely to vote for “Asian instability means international coop on warming is impossible” than “nuclear war kills billions” OR “our patriarchy better explains x,y,z” instead of “capitalism causes war.”
-I like when particular arguments are labeled eg) “the youth-voter link” or “the epistemology DA.”
-If you're breaking a new aff/cp, it's probably in your best interest to slow down when making highly nuanced args.
Things I don’t like:
-Generally I think word PICs are bad. Some language obviously needs to be challenged, but if your 1nc strategy involves cntl-f [insert ableist term], I am not the judge for you.
-Overusing offensive language, yelling, being loud during the other team’s speech/prep, and getting into my personal space or the personal space of others will result in fewer speaker points.
-If you think a permutation requires the affirmative to do something they haven’t, you and I have different interpretations of competition theory.
-Old evidence/ blocks that have been circulating in camp files for a decade.
-This topic is poorly written and lets the aff get away with murder. Given that, I want to see debates that have coherent stories for violations and interpretations. I voted neg frequently on the NHI topic on limits, which charts many of my views on this topic.
-I am probably a better judge for the K than most would suspect. While the sample size is small, I think I vote for critical args around 50% of the time they're the center of the debate.
-A debate has to occur and happen within the speech order/times of the invite; the arguments are made are up to the debaters and I generally enjoy a broad range of arguments, particularly on a topic as dull as this one.
-Too often I think critical affs describe a problem, but don’t explain what voting aff means in the context of that impact.
-Is there a role of the ballot?
-Often I find the “topical version” of the aff argument to be semi-persuasive by the negative, so explain to me the unique benefit of your aff in the form that it is and why switching-sides does not solve that.
-Framework: Explain the topical version of the aff; use your framework impacts to turn/answer the impacts of the 1ac; if you win framework you win the debate because…
-Links should be contextualized to the aff; saying the aff is capitalist because they use the state is not enough. I'm beginning to think that K's, when read against policy affs, should link to the plan and not just the advantages, I'm not as sold on this as I am my belief on floating pic/ks (95 percent of the time I think floating PIC/Ks aren't arguments worthy of being made, let alone voted on)
-Alternative- what is the framework for evaluating the debate? What does voting for the alternative signify? What should I think of the aff’s truth statements?
-I’m not a fan of high theory Ks, but statistically vote for them a decent percentage of the time.
-When reading the K against K affs, the link should problematize the aff's methodology.
Answering the K:
-Make smart permutation arguments that have explained the net benefits and deal with the negatives disads to the perm.
-You should have a framework for the debate and find ways to dismiss the negative’s alternative.
-Overviews that explain the story of the disad are helpful.
-Focus on internal links.
-Your CP should have a solvency advocate that is as descriptive of your mechanism as the affirmative’s solvency advocate is.
-Consult and conditions counterplans are probably illegitimate on most topics, on this one [shrug emoticon].
-Conditionality is cheating a lot like the Roth test: at some point it’s cheating, otherwise neg flex is good.
-Affs should explain why the negative should lose because of theory, otherwise I’ll just reject the arg.
-I'll likely be unsympathetic to args related to ADA rules, sans things that should actually be rules like clipping.
-I’m generally okay with kicking the CP/Alt for the neg if I’m told to.
Copied and Pasted from my judge philosophy wiki page.
Director of Debate at Pace Academy
15 years judging and coaching high school debate. First at Damien High School then at Greenhill. Generally only judge a handful of college rounds a year.
Zero rounds on the current college topic in 2020.
Coached at the University of Wyoming 2004-2005.
I have decided to incentivize reading strategies that involve talking about the specifics of the affirmative case. Too many high school teams find a terrible agent or process cp and use politics as a crutch. Too many high school teams pull out their old, generic, k's and read them regardless of the aff. As an incentive to get away from this practice I will give any 2N that goes for a case-only strategy an extra point. If this means someone who would have earned a 29 ends up with a 30, then so be it. I would rather encourage a proliferation of higher speaker points, then a proliferation of bad, generic arguments. If you have to ask what a case strategy involves, then you probably aren't going to read one. I'm not talking about reading some case defense and going for a disad, or a counterplan that solves most of the aff. I'm talking about making a majority of the debate a case debate -- and that case debate continuing into the 2NR.
You'll notice "specificity good" throughout my philosophy. I will give higher points to those teams that engage in more specific strategies, then those that go for more generic ones. This doesnt mean that I hate the k -- on the contrary, I wouldn't mind hearing a debate on a k, but it needs to be ABOUT THE AFF. The genero security k doesnt apply to the South Korean Prostitutes aff, the Cap k doesnt apply to the South Korea Off-Shore Balancing aff - and you arent likely to convince me otherwise. But if you have an argument ABOUT the affirmative --especially a specific k that has yet to be read, then you will be rewarded if I am judging you.
I have judged high-level college and high school debates for the last 14 years. That should answer a few questions that you are thinking about asking: yes, speed is fine, no, lack of clarity is not. Yes, reading the k is ok, no, reading a bunch of junk that doesn't apply to the topic, and failing to explain why it does is not.
The single most important piece of information I can give you about me as a judge is that I cut a lot of cards -- you should ALWAYS appeal to my interest in the literature and to protect the integrity of that literature. Specific is ALWAYS better than generic, and smart strategies that are well researched should ALWAYS win out over generic, lazy arguments. Even if you dont win debates where you execute specifics, you will be rewarded.
Although my tendencies in general are much more to the right than the rest of the community, I have voted on the k many times since I started judging, and am generally willing to listen to whatever argument the debaters want to make. Having said that, there are a few caveats:
1. I don't read a lot of critical literature; so using a lot of terms or references that only someone who reads a lot of critical literature would understand isn’t going to get you very far. If I don’t understand your arguments, chances are pretty good you aren’t going to win the debate, no matter how persuasive you sound. This goes for the aff too explain your argument, don’t assume I know what you are talking about.
2. You are much better off reading critical arguments on the negative then on the affirmative. I tend to believe that the affirmative has to defend a position that is at least somewhat predictable, and relates to the topic in a way that makes sense. If they don’t, I am very sympathetic to topicality and framework-type arguments. This doesn’t mean you can’t win a debate with a non-traditional affirmative in front of me, but it does mean that it is going to be much harder, and that you are going to have to take topicality and framework arguments seriously. To me, predictability and fairness are more important than stretching the boundaries of debate, and the topic. If your affirmative defends a predictable interpretation of the topic, you are welcome to read any critical arguments you want to defend that interpretation, with the above stipulations.
3. I would much rather watch a disad/counterplan/case debate than some other alternative.
In general, I love a good politics debate - but - specific counterplans and case arguments are THE BEST strategies. I like to hear new innovative disads, but I have read enough of the literature on this year’s topic that I would be able to follow any deep debate on any of the big generic disads as well.
As far as theory goes, I probably defer negative a bit more in theory debates than affirmative. That probably has to do with the fact that I like very well thought-out negative strategies that utilize PICS and specific disads and case arguments. As such, I would much rather see an affirmative team impact turn the net benefits to a counterplan then to go for theory (although I realize this is not always possible). I really believe that the boundaries of the topic are formed in T debates at the beginning of the year, therefore I am much less willing to vote on a topicality argument against one of the mainstream affirmatives later on in the year than I am at the first few tournaments. I’m not going to outline all of the affs that I think are mainstream, but chances are pretty good if there are more than a few teams across the country reading the affirmative, I’m probably going to err aff in a close T debate.
One last thing, if you really want to get high points in front of me, a deep warming debate is the way to go. I would be willing to wager that I have dug further into the warming literature than just about anybody in the country, and I love to hear warming debates. I realize by this point most teams have very specific strategies to most of the affirmatives on the topic, but if you are wondering what advantage to read, or whether or not to delve into the warming debate on the negative, it would be very rewarding to do so in front of me -- at the very least you will get some feedback that will help you in future debates.
Ok, I lied, one more thing. Ultimately I believe that debate is a game. I believe that debaters should have fun while debating. I realize that certain debates get heated, however do your best not to be mean to your partner, and to the other team. There are very few things I hate more than judging a debate where the teams are jerks to each other. Finally, although I understand the strategic value to impact turning the alternative to kritiks and disads (and would encourage it in most instances), there are a few arguments I am unwilling to listen to those include: sexism good, racism good, genocide good, and rape good. If you are considering reading one of those arguments, don’t. You are just going to piss me off.
University of Michigan '20
Traverse City Central '17
Affiliation: Walter Payton
I'm a student at the University of Michigan, and I debate with Harrison Hall there. I study history (of science) and German.
-I like specific, nuanced, and technical debates. I'll try to leave my argumentative predispositions and preferences out of judging.
-Truths are settled by the arguments made in a debate. I'll vote on anything, provided that it is substantiated. Everything is permitted. I'd prefer to see people answer what are thought to be bad arguments rather than telling me that they are bad.
-I judged debates at the Michigan debate camp this summer, so I have some familiarity with the high school topic. The only time where you may need to fill in some topic details is in T debates. By the way, I think I'm pretty good in T debates, provided the negative has a limiting interpretation that isn't an absolute mischaracterization of the topic literature. Teams that explain the virtues of a reasonably limited topic grounded in the literature will usually win in front of me. This usually means answering the question of limits in the abstract versus what one can reasonably expect based on popular literature about the topic.
-Judge direction is important. I often find myself confused by what debaters want me to do with arguments that are won after debates. This doesn't mean that you have to explain the obvious. What this means is that, for example, debates that involve complicated counterplans and disadvantages or complex internal link turns often require a great deal of judge intervention because it's not obvious what some claims mean given everything else that is happening in a debate. Teams should insert phrases like "even if" or "if we win X, that means we win Y" in their speeches if they view some issue differently than what someone could reasonably deduce from a set of claims.
-Strong, definitive, and specific contextualization of link arguments (for a disadvantage, critique, or whatever) will both boost speaker points and increase the persuasiveness of your argument. I especially enjoy watching teams read lines from evidence, quote the opposing team in their speech, etc. in order to give force to an argument. This is especially true in the case of K arguments that rely on links about discursive representations, epistemological assumptions, etc.
-I sometimes read cards during debates, and usually, I prefer a document after the debate so I can easily reference cards that are important in the last speeches. Evidence quality is important, and reading a couple strong pieces of evidence on a particular question can usually overcome a substantial difference in quantity of cards read, provided that teams debate about evidence equally.
-I don't think that I have a very strong slant in framework debates. I generally prefer judges who don't have strong ideological presumptions, so I'll try to keep mine out of the debate. I like framework debates when both sides pick a narrow set of offense that is explained well in relation to the other team's arguments. Pick and choose in the final speeches. Often, framework debates lack good impact calculus which makes it hard to decide without considerable intervention. I've read for framework this year, but it's also been read against me.
Teams reading K affs, in my experience, should defend either a model of debate that has benefits in terms of how debaters interact with and think about the world, or a set of arguments about why imposing a particular and limited interpretation of the resolution is bad. Teams that win framework debates in front of me often do both of these things. In order to do this persuasively, teams should explain why competition is an important component of their (new) model of debate. Obviously, I'm interested in people innovating here, so if you have something different to say, please do so!
Negative teams, I think, are best served by explicating the virtues of clash broadly. What kind of culture is produced by a community that debates about a limited topic for an entire year? What kind of people does this style of debate produce? Pairing this offense with smart defensive arguments about aff team's offense often makes procedural constraint an alluring option.
-I particularly enjoy argument innovation, so if you have something new to say or a new way of explaining something, I'll probably be interested and be willing to give higher points because of this.
-I agree with nearly everything in Kevin Hirn's judge philosophy, and his coaching has deeply influenced how I think about debate, so if you're looking for something specific, you may want to look there. Brad Bolman and Calum Matheson have also influenced me a great deal.
Yes, email chain. firstname.lastname@example.org
Debater--The University of Michigan '91-'95
Head Coach--Oak Park and River Forest HS '15-'20
Assistant Coach--New Trier Township High School '20-
--Old School Policy.
--Like the K on the Neg. Harder sell on the Aff.
--Quality of Evidence Counts. Massive disparities warrant intervention on my part.
--Not great with theory debates.
Advantage vs Disadvantage
More often than not, I tend to gravitate towards the team that wins probability. The more coherent and plausible the internal link chain is, the better.
I can and will vote against an argument if cards are poor exclusive of counter evidence being read.
Not a big fan of Pre-Fiat DA's: Spending, Must Pass Legislation, Riders, etc. I will err Aff on theory unless the Neg has some really good evidence as to why not.
I love nuanced defense and case turns. Conversely, I love link and impact turns. Please run lots of them.
I am largely okay with a fair amount of condo. i.e. 4-5 not a big deal for me. I will become sympathetic to Aff Theory ONLY if the Neg starts kicking straight turned arguments. On the other hand, if you go for Condo Bad and can't answer Strat Skew Inevitable, Idea Testing Good and Hard Debate is Good Debate then don't go for Condo Bad. I have voted Aff on Conditionality Theory, but rarely.
1. I have grown weary of vague plan writing. To that end, I tend think that the Neg need only win that the CP is functionally competitive. I think the Plan is about advocacy and cannot be a moving target.
2. Perm do the CP? Intrinsic Perms? I am flexible to Neg if they have a solvency advocate or the Aff is new. Otherwise, I lean Aff.
PIC’s and Agent CP’s are part of our game. I err Neg on theory. Ditto 50 State Fiat.
No object Fiat, please. Or International Fiat on a Domestic Topic.
International Fiat is a gray area for me. The Neg needs a good Interp that excludes abusive versions.
Solvency advocates and New Affs make me lean Neg on theory.
I will judge kick automatically unless given a decent reason why not in the 1AR.
If you lean on K Affs, just do yourself a favor and put me low or strike me. I am not unsympathetic to your argument per se, I just vote on Framework 60-70% of the time and it rarely has anything to do with your Aff.
That said, if you can effectively impact turn Framework, beat back a TVA and Switch Side Debate, you can get my ballot.
Topic relevance is important.
If your goal is to make blanket statements about why certain people are good or bad or should be excluded from valuable discussions then I am not your judge. We are all flawed.
I do not like “debate is bad” arguments. I don't think that being a "small school" is a reason why I should vote for you.
Kritiks vs Policy Affs
Truth be told, I vote Neg on Kritiks vs Policy Affs A LOT.
I am prone to voting Aff on Perms, so be advised College Debaters. I have no take on "philosophical competition" but it does seem like a thing.
I am not up on the Lit AT ALL, so the polysyllabic word stews you so love to concoct are going to make my ears bleed.
I like reading cards after the debate and find myself understanding nuance better when I can. If you don’t then you leave me with only the bad handwriting on my flow to decipher what you said an hour later and that’s not good for anybody.
When I usually vote Neg its because the Aff has not done a sufficient job in engaging with core elements of the K, such as Ontology, Root Cause Claims, etc.
I am not a great evaluator of Framework debates and will usually err for the team that accesses Education Impacts the best.
Because it theoretically serves an external function that affects other rounds, I do give the Aff a fair amount of leeway when the arguments start to wander into a gray area. The requirement for Offense on the part of the Affirmative is something on which I place little value. Put another way, the Aff need only prove that they are within the predictable confines of research and present a plan that offers enough ground on which to run generic arguments. The Negative must prove that the Affirmative skews research burdens to a point in which the topic is unlimited to a point beyond 20-30 possible cases and/or renders the heart of the topic moot.
Plan Text in a Vacuum is a silly defense. In very few instances have I found it defensible. (NATO TOPIC NOTE: I am finding myself being more sympathetic to the Aff on PTIV. If your plan focus somehow includes something outside of "security cooperation" or defense related assets, then PTIV is a justifiable defense, but you do need to deal with the solvency implications.)
Limits and Fairness are not in and of themselves an impact. Take the impacts to the next level.
Things that make me happy:
Nuanced Case Debates. Obviously being prepared. Impact Turns. Link Turns. (not at the same time) Specific Links. Tricks and Traps. Debating evidence. Beating an argument in Cross Ex.
Things that make me unhappy:
Wipeout. Spark. OSPEC. Wipeout. Over highlighting. Hidden Theory Arguments. New Affs Bad. Poor disclosure ethics. Wipeout. Not using that awesome thing your partner said in CX in your speech. Trying to prove why debate makes people bad. Wipeout. Calling me “judge.” Turning debates into poetry slams or video games.
Oh, and Wipeout.
PUBLIC FORUM SUPPLEMENT:
I judge about 1 PF Round for every 50 Policy Rounds so bear with me here.
I have NOT judged the PF national circuit pretty much ever. The good news is that I am not biased against or unwilling to vote on any particular style. Chances are I have heard some version of your meta level of argumentation and know how it interacts with the round. The bad news is if you want to complain about a style of debate in which you are unfamiliar, you had better convince me why with, you know, impacts and stuff. Do not try and cite an unspoken rule about debate in your part of the country.
Because of my background in Policy, I tend to look at things from a cost benefit perspective. Even though the Pro is not advocating a Plan and the Con is not reading Disadvantages, to me the round comes down to whether the Pro has a greater possible benefit than the potential implications it might cause. Both sides should frame the round in terms impact calculus and or feasibility. Impacts need to be tangible.
Evidence quality is very important.
I will vote on what is on the flow (yes, I flow) and keep my personal opinions of arguments in check as much as possible. I may mock you for it, but I won’t vote against you for it. No paraphrasing. Quote the author, date and the exact words. Quals are even better but you don’t have to read them unless pressed. Have the website handy. Research is critical.
Speed? Meh. You cannot possibly go fast enough for me to not be able to follow you. However, that does not mean I want to hear you go fast. You can be quick and very persuasive. You don't need to spread.
Defense is nice but is not enough. You must create offense in order to win. There is no “presumption” on the Con.
While I am not a fan of formal “Kritik” arguments in PF, I do think that Philosophical Debates have a place. Using your Framework as a reason to defend your scholarship is a wise move. Racism and Sexism will not be tolerated. You can attack your opponents scholarship.
I reward debaters who think outside the box.
I do not reward debaters who cry foul when hearing an argument that falls outside traditional parameters of PF Debate. Again, I am not a fan of the Kritik, but if its abusive, tell me why instead of just saying “not fair.”
Statistics are nice, to a point. But I feel that judges/debaters overvalue them. Often the best impacts involve higher values that cannot be quantified. A good example would be something like Structural Violence.
While Truth outweighs, technical concessions on key arguments can and will be evaluated. Dropping offense means the argument gets 100% weight.
The goal of the Con is to disprove the value of the Resolution. If the Pro cannot defend the whole resolution (agent, totality, etc.) then the Con gets some leeway.
I care about substance and not style. It never fails that I give 1-2 low point wins at a tournament. Just because your tie is nice and you sound pretty, doesn’t mean you win. I vote on argument quality and technical debating. The rest is for lay judging.
Relax. Have fun.
University of Michigan 2015-2019
La Costa Canyon HS 2011-2015
Please add jgold717 at gmail dot com to the email chain.
I debated for 8 years and qualified to the NDT 3 times for Michigan. I was an assistant coach for various high schools while I was in college but I am no longer a debate coach, I just judge occasionally. I am currently in my third year of law school at the University of San Diego. Because I am no longer super heavily involved in debate I don't have very much topic knowledge; please err on the side of over-explaining things to me. In my experience judge philosophies are often a reflection of what someone wants you to think they think, not what they actually think, so I will try to keep this short, sweet, and honest.
In general I have few preferences on which arguments you read in front of me. I always prefer judging slower debates with warranted presentation, quality evidence, and "truer" arguments than whatever the opposite of that is. I also prefer to see debaters doing what they do best rather than adapting to me. During my time as a debater I mostly read "traditional" policy arguments and thus am most comfortable evaluating these kinds of debates. But, I have read and coached basically every kind of argument that exists and try hard not to bring any predispositions with me.
A few things I would note that are pretty important to me regardless of what kind of argument you are reading:
(1) Impact calc and comparison
(2) Warranted explanations of your arguments as opposed to just tagline-level explanations
(3) Argument quality. I wouldn't consider myself "truth over tech" - I am perfectly willing to vote on "bad" arguments if they are warranted and won, and I am very flow-centric, but I would rather hear well-developed arguments with coherent internal links.
(4) Meta-level strategic interactions between arguments. I find this is increasingly true as decision times have gotten shorter in college debate. This is honestly not my preferred way to judge, as I would of course rather have time to fully consider each argument individually and in the context of the entire debate, but if I only have 20 minutes to determine who did the better debating, this is the most effective way I know how.
(5) Two "rules" - No "inserting this re-highlighting into the debate" - you have to read it (referencing in speech/cx/analytic is sufficient as well). I also will not vote on any arguments about things that occurred outside the debate.
Online debate: If my camera is off I am probably not at my computer so please don't start speaking. I would strongly prefer debaters also leave their cameras on while debate things are happening so I know everyone is present when needed.
Kritiks (neg): I am comfortable with most common kritik arguments, but if yours is particularly esoteric you may need to invest some time in explaining your theory to me. Specific links with embedded impacts/case turns are great. When I vote neg for kritiks it is often because the aff made an error on the framework debate and the neg was able to neutralize a lot of the aff's case offense.
Kritiks (aff)/planless affs: My personal preference is that the aff should defend a topical plan, but of course I try not to bring my biases with me. As with everything, focus on impact calc and comparison. I am perfectly willing to vote on procedural fairness as a prior question if the neg has a warranted explanation as to why I should, but it is not an automatic presumption that I'll always apply. I often vote for the team that explains why their offense has a higher level of explanatory power than their opponent's by explaining the role of the ballot, the judge, debate as a whole, etc. These debates are frequently hard for me to decide because both teams build up their own points of offense well but don't interact with their opponent's offense sufficiently. I urge you to LISTEN carefully to exactly what the other team is saying, flow, think critically about their arguments and how they interact with your own, and then respond. Don't be overly block reliant, and don't give "throw everything at the wall and see what sticks" speeches. Focus on a central point of offense that gives me a story to tell in the RFD for why your offense is better than theirs.
Theory/CPs: Unlikely to vote on theory absent something fairly egregious. I think all theory arguments other than conditionality are probably reasons to reject the argument, not the team. I lean neg on conditionality with 1 or 2 conditional options, 3 is borderline, and at 4+ I lean aff (especially if they are contradictory). HOWEVER I do think theory can be VERY convincing against certain kinds of CPs (such as international fiat, delay, multi-actor fiat, some process cps for example) if explained as a reason to reject the argument in the 2ar. Judge kick by default, but persuadable the other way (I was a slow 2a, I get it).
Part-time coach at the University of Kentucky, formerly debated at UK (graduated in 2020)
add me to the email chain: genevieveelise1028 at gmail dot com
I am not as actively involved in debate as I used to be. I will judge a fair amount, but don't spend a lot of time outside of tournaments doing topic research, so my level of familiarity is shaped by the debates I judge and/or what my debaters need from me during a tournament. That being said, I'm actively involved in public policy related spheres (primarily international relations) and am a quick read, so most of the time I'll get what you're saying as long as you don't assume I know a bunch of stuff about how prior debates on the topic have played out.
I like for debate to be fun and will generally enjoy judging in debates where it is clear you are having a good time and doing what you're passionate about. Don't be afraid to let your personality show in how you debate - being funny or spicy in the CX are often times I enjoy the debate the most. I was a very committed debater who understands the amount of time and dedication it takes to do this activity seriously, so I will work very hard to make sure that I am evaluating your debate in a way that respects the hard work that you have put into the activity, and the time and energy you are using to be present at each tournament.
Disad and case is awesome, more case analysis that is smart will be rewarded in points. I think smart and specific counterplans are cool. The more specific and in grounded in the literature your CP is, the less likely I am to care about theory. However, counterplans that just fiat that something bad doesn't happen, or counterplans that are generally questionable on premise, I sometimes find annoying and frustrating to judge.
Topicality (vs aff with a plan)
I think a limited topic is good and care immensely about the comparison of one version of the topic to another when it comes to T. If you cannot explain coherently what the difference between the two topics are, I am much less likely to care about your very abstract appeals to the notion of limits or ground.
I think this is one place where my caution above about how much I am involved in debate should apply --- you may think "this T arg never wins, the community doesn't agree with this, etc" and I am pretty firmly out of the loop on that, so I honestly won't know one way or the other.
K (vs aff with a plan)
I judge K's as I would any other argument - I think they need to have a clearly explained link, internal link, impact, and alternative. Being more specific about the topic is far better than some random backfile check about Baudrillard. You should explain your arguments clearly vs using buzz words because I will be much more likely to understand what you are trying to communicate.
The specificity of the link and explanation of the link and how it coheres with your broader theory about the world and interacts with the consequences of the plan are all things that strongly influence how much I am persuaded by the K. I find myself less often voting for the K in debates where the neg relies on a strong framework/prioritize rhetorical/discursive links path but would not preclude this entirely because the aff is often time pressured and poorly equipped to debate about framework and fiat.
I have found myself voting both ways in framework debates, but am usually persuaded by the benefits of clash, procedural fairness, etc. The more specific the aff is to the topic & good aff cards are things that most often lead to an aff ballot in these debates. The negative making a strong, coherent push that includes arguments that appeal to clash while providing defense that proves the topic is compatible with the affs theory are things that most often lead to a neg ballot in these debates.
I think specific strategies against these affs are interesting and good (whether that be a da/k/pic) and will reward this specific research with speaker points. I generally think if something is in the 1AC I am likely to believe there is a link to your argument, and am very persuaded by strategies that utilize the cx to pin down specificities of the 1ac advocacy and then predicate the strategy off of that. If the aff is unwilling to speak specifically about the strategy of the advocacy, I generally tend to be more persuaded by framework.
I generally am not persuaded by strategies that rely on the idea that we should destroy debate, or that extinction is good.
I appreciate the accessibility benefits of online debate but do think it suffers from some quality deficit. If my camera is off during prep time, I have probably walked away for a number of reasons. I'll generally try to pop my camera back on when I get back to signal I have returned, and will also usually keep a headphone in to maintain awareness of when you stop prep. Just give me a sec to turn on my camera and get settled before you launch into an order or the speech. I do have a finnicky webcam, so if I am still in the zoom but my camera suddenly went off during a speech, I'm probably just there and haven't realized my camera is off yet....this is a wip that I'm trying to fix before the NDT.
I tend to lean towards conditionality being good, but would be persuaded otherwise in particularly egregious incidents.
I like when lots of quality evidence is read, and will often read your evidence (and if evidence is referenced in a cx, will usually try to find what you are referencing while it's being discussed). That being said, evidence is best paired with strong judge instruction in the rebuttals. There are instances when evidence is good enough to speak for itself, but in a debate where both sides read decent ev on an issue, I will often find myself voting for the team who tells me how and why their arguments matter more.
After hosting a bunch of tournaments in my time at UK, I am sympathetic to the pleas of tournament hosts and tabrooms. Please be on time, keep things efficient in debates, and clean up behind yourselves.
My facial expressions are likely unrelated to the things you are saying. In particular, I may come across low-energy. This doesn't mean that I am unhappy with the debate (although if I find your debating upbeat, engaging, and high-energy I will probably be a bit more likely to mirror that). Tournaments are a long-haul, I judge a lot of debates at each tournament (often every debate), and there seems to be increasingly little time afforded to restorative things like sleep or eating, so don't worry too much if I'm coming across a little sleepy.
Hello! My name is Matt, and I am a former Liberty University debater.
I would like to be on the email chain: email@example.com
I have a extremely high threshold to vote on SPARK. Probably the best not to read it in front of me. More below.
1. As a judge I am fine evaluating both k and policy args. I don't lean one way or the other on the ideological spectrum. I think everything is debatable. I'll listen to whatever you put forth. I vote based on who I feel won the argument.
2. Don't expect me to unpack big words/concepts for you. Explain them out to me within the context of your opponents args.
3. I tend to go based off the flow.
4. I think 2 conditional arguments are fine. If 3 are presented, you could successfully argue to me that this is bad. I would lean more toward the aff side of the debate if there are 4+ conditional args.
5. Keep it respectful. Anything else is unacceptable.
Good luck with your debating!
firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com (please put both).
I have judged a lot of debates. I view myself as a reasonable judge. I have judged every type of debate and find myself capable in any instance. Preference towards policy aff v whatever on the neg, but have voted many times for planless aff v fw or a K.
2022 Update- I am not longer actively coaching debate. Please do not assume that I know a lot about the topic, have any idea what some other school's aff is, or have strong feelings about what obscure topic wordings mean.
Allison.firstname.lastname@example.org. - Put me on the chain please. I will not follow along with the doc or read cards I don't think are necessary to make a decision but spelling my first name is annoying and this was buried near the bottom of my philosophy.
Here are a few ways that I think my judging either differs from others or has changed with online debate:
1) I flow and do not open your speech documents during your speeches. That means you need to try to present arguments in a way that is flowable. Make sure tags are clear. Answer arguments in an order I can follow (such as the order in which they are presented). Add structure and signpost. Avoid reading giant analytical paragraphs without breaking things up. Avoid jumping around the flow arbitrarily or reading blocks in places where they dont belong. Doing these things make sure that I not only have a record of what you said, but helps me understand how you think what you are saying applies/responds to your opponents arguments. When you don't do these things, you increase the odds that I misunderstand what you think you have answered.
2) Make comparisons. I read less evidence during and after debates than other judges. I start my decisions by looking at my flows, deciding what the key questions are, resolving things that I can, and only then look at evidence. Make comparisons between your warrants, quality of evidence. Draw out the interactions for me rather than forcing me to do these things for you. I see that as intervention, but the way that many debaters give rebuttals these days sometimes makes it impossible to decide without that intervention. I would much rather let you do the comparing.
3) I am not in the cult of big impacts/try or die. You need to solve for something. Your counterplan needs a net benefit. I can be convinced to vote for low risk, but presumption and zero risk exist. Not everything needs a card. Smart analytics can knock down the risk of some pretty silly arguments. If the other team does have evidence of sufficient quality, however, a card to the contrary would go a long way.
4) I don’t think I am a bad judge for the k if you debate the k technically, especially on the neg. I am not great for any argument if you are overly relying on an overview to get things done, are speaking in paragraphs without considering flowability, or are addressing components of the debate in ways that ignore the line by line. I am better for specific links and alts that I would be able to explain back to the other team what they do based on the explanation you offered in the round. I think 90% of the time spent on “framework” when the neg reads a k is a waste of time by both sides. The neg gets links to what the aff said and did. The aff gets to weigh the implementation of the plan. Unless another way of thinking about this is presented and dropped, this is how I end up evaluating the debate anyway. I am less of a fan of critical affirmatives that are not topical, do not relate to the topic in a significant way, etc. In K aff vs framework debates, the aff is helped if I can understand what reasonable ways the negative could anticipate an aff like yours and reasonably respond to it.
5) I would rather you make link arguments to kritiks about assumptions that the other team has made during this debate rather than ask me to evaluate something that happened other debates or outside of debates. Other debates had judges who rendered their own decisions. If there are serious concerns about a debater's out of round behavior, please take that to their coaches or tournament administrators.
6) Process debates are boring. They might be necessary on some recent topics, but they are so boring on topics where there are great disads. They would be better with some evidence that suggest this process ought to exist/be used, even better if there are cards about the topic or aff. For example, I am far more into con-con about a constitutional/legal question than con-con to withdraw from NATO. But really, wouldn’t it be cool if we picked debate topics that were actual controversies? Wouldn’t it be cool if topics that had some controversy were limited in a way that makes some sense?
7) When you steal prep time, you are stealing my decision time. Please don’t. If you are making changes to your speech doc (deleting analytics, rearranging blocks, combining multiple docs into one, etc) you should have a prep timer running. Sending a doc is fine outside of prep but should be done efficiently, especially if you are debating at the varsity/open level. Refusing to start CX until you have a marked copy is also a big waste of my time unless you are planning to ask questions that are affected by these markings. I have yet to see that happen, so let's get on with it.
8) In online debate, you MUST make an effort to be clearer. NSDA campus makes you sound like a robot eating rocks. What was passable on classrooms.cloud doesn’t cut it on campus. I should be able to understand the body of your evidence, distinguish tags from cards, etc. I do not open speech documents when you are speaking. I need to be able to hear and understand you.
9) It is much harder to pay attention to online debates. This isn’t your fault. It is a feature of the format. I have found cross-ex in particular difficult to follow and keep in focus. People talking at once is really rough online, and I appreciate attempts to limit this by keeping answers reasonable in length and not cutting off reasonable answers. I will do my best in every debate to give you every bit of attention I have, but it would help me if you would forefront cross-ex questions that might matter to your strategy. Asking the other team what they read is cross-ex time.
Old Philosophy- I don't disagree with this:
I think I am a relatively middle of the road judge on most issues. I would rather hear you debate whatever sort of strategy you do well than have you conform to my argumentative preferences. I might have more fun listening to a case/da debate, but if you best strat or skillset is something else, go for it. I might not like an argument, but I will and have voted for arguments I hate if it wins the debate. I do have a pretty strong preference for technical, line by line style debate.
I am open to listening to kritiks by either side, but I am more familiar with policy arguments, so some additional explanation would be helpful, especially on the impact and alternative level. High theory K stuff is the area where I am least well read. I generally think it is better for debate if the aff has a topical plan that is implemented, but I am open to hearing both sides. To be successful at framework debates in front of me, it is helpful to do more than articulate that your movement/project/affirmation is good, but also provide reasons why it is good to be included in debate in the format you choose. I tend to find T version of the aff a pretty persuasive argument when it is able to solve a significant portion of aff offense.
I don’t have solid preferences on most counterplan theory issues, other than that I am not crazy about consultation or conditions cps generally. Most other cp issues are questions of degree not kind (1 conditional cp and a k doesn’t seem so bad, more than that is questionable, 42 is too many, etc) and all up for debate. The above comment about doing what you do well applies here. If theory is your thing and you do it well, ok. If cp cheating with both hands is your style and you can get away with it, swell.
I have no objection to voting on “untrue” arguments, like some of the more out there impact turns. To win on dropped arguments, you still need to do enough work that I could make a coherent decision based on your explanation of the argument. Dropped = true, but you need a claim, warrant, and impact. Such arguments also need to be identifiable in order for dropped = true to apply.
It’s rarely the case that a team wins every argument in the debate, so including relevant and responsive impact assessment is super important. I’d much rather debaters resolve questions like who has presumption in the case of counterplans or what happens to counterplans that might be rendered irrelevant by 2ar choices than leaving those questions to me.
I try my best to avoid reading evidence after a debate and think debaters should take this into account. I tend to only call for evidence if a) there is a debate about what a card says and/or b) it is impossible to resolve an issue without reading the evidence myself. I prefer to let the debaters debate the quality of evidence rather than calling for a bunch of evidence and applying my own interpretations after the fact. I think that is a form of intervening. I also think it is important that you draw out the warrants in your evidence rather than relying on me to piece things together at the end of the debate. As a result, you would be better served explaining, applying, and comparing fewer really important arguments than blipping through a bunch of tag line/author name extensions. I can certainly flow you and I will be paying attention to your speeches, but if the debate comes down to a comparison between arguments articulated in these manners, I tend to reward explanation and analysis. Also, the phrase "insert re-highlighting" is meaningless to someone who isn't reading the docs in real time. Telling me what you think the evidence says is a better use of your time
I like smart, organized debates. I pay a ton of attention and think I flow very well. I tend to be frustrated by debaters who jump around or lack structure. If your debate is headed this direction (through your own doing or that of the other team), often the team that cleans things up usually benefits. This also applies to non-traditional debating styles. If you don’t want to flow, that’s ok, but it is not an excuse to lack any discernible organization. Even if you are doing the embedded clash thing, your arguments shouldn't seem like a pre-scripted set of responses with little to no attempt to engage the specific arguments made by the other team or put them in some sort of order that makes it easier for me to flow and determine if indeed arguments were made, extended dropped, etc.
Please be nice to each other. While debate is a competitive activity, it is not an excuse to be a jerkface. If you are "stealing prep" I am likely to be very cross with you and dock your speaker points. If you are taking unreasonably long amounts of time to jump/email your docs or acquire someone else's docs, I am also not going to be super happy with you. I realize this can sound cranky, but I have been subjected to too many rounds where this has been happening recently.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask.
Thoughts on Pf and LD:
Since I occasionally judge these, I thought I should add a section. I have either coached or competed in both events. I still have a strong preference for flow-centric debate in both activities.
-You may speak as quickly or slowly as you would like. Don't make yourself debate faster than you are able to do well just because I can keep up
-You can run whatever arguments you are able to justify (see policy debate section if you have more specific questions)
-Too many debates in these events spend far too much time debating framing questions that are essentially irrelevant to judge decisions. Those frames mean little if you cant win a link. If you and your opponent are trying to access the same impact, this is a sign that you should be debating link strength not impact strength. Your speech time is short. Don't waste it.
-Make useful argument comparisons. It is not helpful if you have a study and your opponent has a study that says the opposite and that is the end of the argument. It is not helpful if everyone's authors are "hacks." With complicated topics, try to understand how your authors arrived at their conclusions and use that to your advantage.
-Stop stealing prep. Seriously. Stop. It is not cute. Asking to see a source is not an opportunity for your partners to keep prepping. If a speech timer or a prep timer isn't going, you should not be writing on your flows or doing anything else that looks like prepping. I see this in a disturbing number of PF rounds. Stop
-Give a useful road map or none at all. Do not add a bunch of commentary. A road map should tell a judge what order to put pieces of flow paper into and nothing more. Save your arguments for your speech time.
-Paraphrasing is bad. Read quotations. Send out ev in carded form ahead of time. If you are a varsity, national circuit level competitor, you should have figure out efficient ways to manage allowing the other team to review your evidence.
Paideia 2019 Michigan 2023
2022 CEDA Finalist
I debated for four years in high school and continue to debate in college. I primarily run Kritikal race theory arguments such as Wilderson and Moten, although I have dabbled in the Baudrillard and high theory stuff. If you ever wanna talk about any specific body of literature talk to me after the round or feel free to shoot me an email. I like debate and generally try to make this community a welcoming space for those that choose to participate. As a result, I hope you enjoy your time in your rounds and the activity broadly because it is truly a great place.
Thoughts on debate overall- As someone who has been in environments in which his arguments are not being taken seriously, I want to push debate to counter these behaviors. To me, the role of a judge is to consider and adapt one's beliefs to the arguments presented. As a result, I will do my absolute best to fully consider the arguments made, render the best decision I can, and give comments that I think will aid you in your future debates. With that being said, I am definitely a better judge for certain arguments than others and I thus have my own preferences with arguments. Honestly if you can flow, do line by line, and have arguments that make sense you'll be good and should not tailor a particular strategy to me.
Thoughts on NATO/Emerging tech- has the potential to be one of the cooler topics that I have personally judged. I generally don't enjoy IR topics, but I have to admit I have enjoyed doing both policy and K research on this topic. Did a policy lab for three weeks and kritikal lab for four weeks, so in theory, I know what you're talking about and will be able to point you in the right direction during the RFD. This topic is complex but also somewhat intuitive, so I hope at the end of the day, you have fun and take risks that other topics may not traditionally allow.
Thoughts on online debate- It can be good and it can be really really bad. I encourage you to have face cams on, at least during speeches and CX but understand if you are not comfortable with that or just choose not to. I'm a pretty good flow overall, but if there is a tech issue or the speech becomes unclear, I'll do my best to let that be known.
Case/Impacts- Case debate is generally important; you should have some way to implicate the case whether it is turns case on a DA, a CP that solves, or just going for case or solvency takeouts. If it's a K debate, I still care, but I think teams should explain what the actual impact to a given case argument is. For instance, if you want the state can be good, explain why that matters beyond just it means "the AFFwas wrong about something". Explain why it implicates solvency, why it means the method they've chosen to resolve their impact might be flawed, or how it implicates another flow within the debate.
DAs- For the most part I understand DAs although I'm probably rusty on the political scenes, I think I get the main ideas. To me the most important things are link and internal link work so focus there.
CPs- I'm cool with whatever for the most part as long as you have a solvency advocate. I like Perms though, and think judge kicking sorta makes sense but can defs be persuaded otherwise.
Topicality- Definitely more AFF-biased. I honestly think reasonability and predictability arguments for the AFF trump most NEG args. With that being said if you think an AFFis blatantly untopical, odds are I do too so go for it if you think it's the right 2NR. I greatly prefer a ground 2NR to JUST a limits 2NR. My ideal combines the two but that's probs just a me thing.
Ks- I'm fine with Ks. I think links should be either in the context of doing the plan, the assumptions around particular impacts, or why a particular AFF theory (such as realism or whatever) might be bad. Ideally, an alternative is able to solve these but if a convincing presumption push is made, I will evaluate the debate that way. What somewhat annoys me is these debates come down to who can better read blocks and not flow. I think K debaters get a lot of fire for this trend but I have seen it with policy debaters as well, so please try your best to continue to do line by line and debate off the flow. For answering the K, you're best tool will always be the 1AC so do your best to leverage it as much as possible.
Theory- 3 Condo is good, 4 there is some grey area and it'll come down to the flow, 5 or more I'm pretty AFF bias. But if it's a new AFF feel free to go 13 off. Most theories to me are a reason to reject the arg not the team. I have never understood the "perv con means we get to sever our reps" type arguments. To me, if you want to make this argument, the 2AC needs to prove specifically why the contradiction made it impossible to effectively answer the arguments, or the 1AR has to show specific forms of abuse, i.e. cross applying args from flows. With that being said I like consistency within flows. If you are answering a pess K, read authors that actually disagree with pess AND would likely agree with the 1AC. If you are running pess, don't read conflicting authors because I will notice and it will put you in a tough spot if the other team points it out.
K AFFs- Please talk about the topic but still go for it. It helps if you defend some kind of a method that solves your impacts but if that's not your thing please still explain either what the ballot does or why solvency isn't necessary. I dislike AFFs in which it is clear the entire purpose is to just beat topicality; these are both unstrategic for me and often make me more sympathetic to NEG solvency/framework/alt pushes.
K AFFs vs FW- framework debates are my favorite debates I've had, I'm always interested in the new ways people find at interpreting the topic, but at the same time, any team can lose or win on framework. Fairness and clash are impacts but need to be explained likely more than you are planning on. Adding on to this, I am cool with the impact turn approach but would much rather judge a round in which an AFF team defends a model of debate and the respective sides debate those issues out.
K vs K- AFF gets a perm, reject alts aren't very convincing unless the AFF isn't really doing anything either. And I will never vote on arguments that are tied to another person not being X identity group unless it is non-black people reading black scholarship.
Things I dislike: speaking past the timer, idk it's a weird pet peeve just be reasonable, and don't ramble on after the speech is over. Saying "debate becomes monologue" or "creates bad people" (insert Karl Rove joke); neither of the things are true and honestly so played out that they become cringe. I think this trend is finally over but saying "it's T not FW" has not and will never be a thing in my eyes. This list will likely grow, and I promise I do not plan on docking speaks for these things I just find it annoying.
My ideal debater combines the persuasion and ethos of Giorgio Rabinni and Natalie Robinson, the technical skill of Taj Robinson and Elon Wilson the work ethic of DML and Pranay Ippagunta, the judging abilities of Corey Fisher, Vida Chiri, Devane Murphy, Shree Awsare, and Taylor Brough and the attitudes of Nate Glancy, Jimin Park, Ariel Gabay, and Ben McGraw. If you are able to display any of these qualities to the level that these debaters have, you have set yourself up to thrive in this activity.
Extra Points: if you make me laugh or honestly look like you're having fun I'll give extra points. Throw some shade be petty cause that's honestly all debate is: throwing shade at 300 words per minute.
Email: email@example.com --- of course I want to be on the chain
Program Manager and Debate Coach, University of Michigan
Debate Coach, Whitney Young High School (2010-20), Caddo Magnet (2020-21), Walter Payton (2018, 2021-)
Last updated: September, 2022 (topic specific thoughts on emerging tech/legal personhood are in topicality)
Philosophy: I attempt to judge rounds with the minimum amount of intervention required to answer the question, "Who has done the better debating?", using whatever rubrics for evaluating that question that debaters set up.
I work in debate full-time, so I attend a billion tournaments and judge a ton of debates, lead a seven week lab every summer, talk about debate virtually every day, and research fairly extensively. As a result, I'm familiar with the policy and critical literature bases on both the college antitrust topic and the HS water topic.
I’ve coached my teams to deploy a diverse array of argument types and styles. Currently, I coach teams that primarily read policy arguments. But I was also the primary argument coach for Michigan KM from 2014-16. I’ve coached many successful teams in both high school and college that primarily read arguments influenced by "high theory", postmodernist thought, and/or critical race literature. I'm always excited to see debaters deploy new or innovative strategies across the argumentative spectrum.
Impact turns have a special place in my heart. There are few venues in academia or life where you will be as encouraged to challenge conventional wisdom as you are in policy debate, so please take this rare opportunity to persuasively defend the most counter-intuitive positions conceivable. I enjoy judging debaters with a sense of humor, and I hope to reward teams who make their debates fun and exciting (through engaging personalities and argument selection).
My philosophy is very long. I make no apology for it. In fact, I wish most philosophies were longer and more substantive, and I still believe mine to be insufficiently comprehensive. Frequently, judges espouse a series of predictable platitudes, but I have no idea why they believe whatever it is they've said (which can frequently leave me confused, frustrated, and little closer to understanding how debaters could better persuade them). I attempt to counter this practice with detailed disclosure of the various predispositions, biases, and judgment canons that may be outcome-determinative for how I decide your debate. Maybe you don't want to know all of those, but nobody's making you read this paradigm. Having the option to know as many of those as possible for any given judge seems preferable to having only the options of surprise and speculation.
What follows is a series of thoughts that mediate my process for making decisions, both in general and in specific contexts likely to emerge in debates. I've tried to be as honest as possible, and I frequently update my philosophy to reflect perceived trends in my judging. That being said, self-disclosure is inevitably incomplete or misleading; if you're curious about whether or not I'd be good for you, feel free to look at my voting record or email me a specific question (reach me via email, although you may want to try in person because I'm not the greatest with quick responses).
0) Online debate
Online debate is a depressing travesty, although it's plainly much better than the alternative of no debate at all. I miss tournaments intensely and can't wait until this era is over and we can attend tournaments in-person once again. Do your best not to remind us constantly of what we're missing: please keep your camera on throughout the whole debate unless you have a pressing and genuine technical reason not to. I don't have meaningful preferences beyond that. Feel free to record me---IMO all debates should be public and free to record by all parties, especially in college.
1) Tech v. Truth
I attempt to be an extremely "technical" judge, although I am not sure that everyone means what everyone else means when they describe debating or judging as "technical." Here's what I mean by that: outside of card text, I attempt to flow every argument that every speaker expresses in a speech. Even in extremely quick debates, I generally achieve this goal or come close to it. In some cases, like when very fast debaters debate at max speed in a final rebuttal, it may be virtually impossible for me to to organize all of the words said by the rebuttalist into the argumentative structure they were intending. But overall I feel very confident in my flow: I will take Casey Harrigan up on his flowing gauntlet/challenge any day (he might be able to take me if we were both restricted to paper, but on our computers, it's a wrap).
In addition, being "technical" means that I line up arguments on my flow, and expect debaters to, in general, organize their speeches by answering the other team's arguments in the order they were presented. All other things being equal, I will prioritize an argument presented such that it maximizes clear and direct engagement with its counter-argument over an argument that floats in space unmoored to an adversarial argument structure.
I do have one caveat that pertains to what I'll term "standalone" voting issues. I'm not likely to decide an entire debate based on standalone issues explained or extended in five seconds or less. For example, If you have a standard on conditionality that asserts "also, men with curly unkempt hair are underrepresented in debate, vote neg to incentivize our participation," and the 1ar drops it, you're not going to win the debate on that argument (although you will win my sympathies, fellow comb dissident). I'm willing to vote on basically anything that's well-developed, but if your strategy relies on tricking the other team into dropping random nonsense unrelated to the rest of the debate entirely, I'm not really about that. This caveat only pertains to standalone arguments that are dropped once: if you've dropped a standalone voting issue presented as such in two speeches, you've lost all my sympathies to your claim to a ballot.
In most debates, so many arguments are made that obvious cross-applications ensure precious few allegedly "dropped" arguments really are accurately described as such. Dropped arguments most frequently win debates in the form of little subpoints making granular distinctions on important arguments that both final rebuttals exert time and energy trying to win. Further murkiness emerges when one realizes that all thresholds for what constitutes a "warrant" (and subsequently an "argument") are somewhat arbitrary and interventionist. Hence the mantra: Dropped arguments are true, but they're only as true as the dropped argument. "Argument" means claim, warrant, and implication. "Severance is a voting issue" lacks a warrant. "Severance is a voting issue - neg ground" also arguably lacks a warrant, since it hasn't been explained how or why severance destroys negative ground or why neg ground is worth caring about.
That might sound interventionist, but consider: we would clearly assess the statement "Severance is a voting issue -- purple sideways" as a claim lacking a warrant. So why does "severence is a voting issue - neg ground" constitute a warranted claim? Some people would say that the former is valid but not sound while the latter is neither valid nor sound, but both fail a formal test of validity. In my assessment, any distinction is somewhat interventionist. In the interest of minimizing intervention, here is what that means for your debating: If the 1ar drops a blippy theory argument and the 2nr explains it further, the 2nr is likely making new arguments... which then justifies 2ar answers to those arguments. In general, justify why you get to say what you're saying, and you'll probably be in good shape. By the 2nr or 2ar, I would much rather that you acknowledge previously dropped arguments and suggest reasonable workaround solutions than continue to pretend they don't exist or lie about previous answers.
Arguments aren't presumptively offensive or too stupid to require an answer. Genocide good, OSPEC, rocks are people, etc. are all terribly stupid, but if you can't explain why they're wrong, you don't deserve to win. If an argument is really stupid or really bad, don't complain about how wrong they are. After all, if the argument's as bad as you say it is, it should be easy. And if you can't deconstruct a stupid argument, either 1) the argument may not be as stupid as you say it is, or 2) it may be worthwhile for you to develop a more efficient and effective way of responding to that argument.
If both sides seem to assume that an impact is desirable/undesirable, and frame their rebuttals exclusively toward avoiding/causing that impact, I will work under that assumption. If a team read a 1AC saying that they had several ways their plan caused extinction, and the 1NC responded with solvency defense and alternative ways the plan prevented extincton, I would vote neg if I thought the plan was more likely to avoid extinction than cause it.
I'll read and evaluate Team A's rehighlightings of evidence "inserted" into the debate if Team B doesn't object to it, but when debated evenly this practice seems indefensible. An important part of debate is choosing how to use your valuable speech time, which entails selecting which pieces of your opponent's ev most clearly bolster your position(s).
2) General Philosophical Disposition
It is somewhat easy to persuade me that life is good, suffering is bad, and we should care about the consequences of our political strategies and advocacies. I would prefer that arguments to the contrary be grounded in specific articulations of alternative models of decision-making, not generalities, rhetoric, or metaphor. It's hard to convince me that extinction = nbd, and arguments like "the hypothetical consequences of your advocacy matter, and they would likely produce more suffering than our advocacy" are far more persuasive than "take a leap of faith" or "roll the dice" or "burn it down", because I can at least know what I'd be aligning myself with and why.
Important clarification: pragmatism is not synonymous with policymaking. On the contrary, one may argue that there is a more pragmatic way to frame judge decision-making in debates than traditional policymaking paradigms. Perhaps assessing debates about the outcome of hypothetical policies is useless, or worse, dangerous. Regardless of how you debate or what you debate about, you should be willing and able to mount a strong defense of why you're doing those things (which perhaps requires some thought about the overall purpose of this activity).
The brilliance and joy of policy debate is most found in its intellectual freedom. What makes it so unlike other venues in academia is that, in theory, debaters are free to argue for unpopular, overlooked, or scorned positions and ill-considered points of view. Conversely, they will be required to defend EVERY component of your argument, even ones that would be taken for granted in most other settings. Just so there's no confusion here: all arguments are on the table for me. Any line drawn on argumentative content is obviously arbitrary and is likely unpredictable, especially for judges whose philosophies aren't as long as mine! But more importantly, drawing that line does profound disservice to debaters by instructing them not to bother thinking about how to defend a position. If you can't defend the desirability of avoiding your advantage's extinction impact against a wipeout or "death good" position, why are you trying to persuade me to vote for a policy to save the human race? Groupthink and collective prejudices against creative ideas or disruptive thoughts are an ubiquitous feature of human societies, but that makes it all the more important to encourage free speech and free thought in one of the few institutions where overcoming those biases is possible.
3) Topicality and Specification
Overall, I'm a decent judge for the neg, provided that they have solid evidence supporting their interpretation.
Limits are probably desirable in the abstract, but if your interpretation is composed of contrived stupidity, it will be hard to convince me that affs should have predicted it. Conversely, affs that are debating solid topicality evidence without well-researched evidence of their own are gonna have a bad time. Naturally, of these issues are up for debate, but I think it's relatively easy to win that research/literature guides preparation, and the chips frequently fall into place for the team accessing that argument.
Competing interpretations is potentially less subjective and arbitrary than a reasonability standard, although reasonability isn't as meaningless as many believe. Reasonability seems to be modeled after the "reasonable doubt" burden required to prove guilt in a criminal case (as opposed to the "preponderence of evidence" standard used in civil cases, which seems similar to competing interps as a model). Reasonability basically is the same as saying "to win the debate, the neg needs to win an 80% risk of their DA instead of a 50% risk." The percentages are arbitrary, but what makes determining that a disad's risk is higher or lower than the risk of an aff advantage (i.e. the model used to decide the majority of debates) any less arbitrary or subjective? It's all ballpark estimation determined by how persuaded judges were by competing presentations of analysis and evidence. With reasonability-style arguments, aff teams can certainly win that they don't need to meet the best of all possible interpretations of the topic, and instead that they should win if their plan meets an interpretation capable of providing a sufficient baseline of neg ground/research parity/quality debate. Describing what threshold of desirability their interpretation should meet, and then describing why that threshold is a better model for deciding topicality debates, is typically necessary to make this argument persuasive.
Answering "plan text in a vacuum" requires presenting an alternative standard by which to interpret the meaning and scope of the words in the plan. Such seems so self-evident that it seems banal to include it in a paradigm, but I have seen many debates this year in which teams did not grasp this fact. If the neg doesn't establish some method for determining what the plan means, voting against "the plan text in a vacuum defines the words in the plan" is indistinguishable from voting for "the eighty-third unhighlighted word in the fifth 1ac preempt defines the words in the plan." I do think setting some limiting standard is potentially quite defensible, especially in debates where large swaths of the 1ac would be completely irrelevent if the aff's plan were to meet the neg's interp. For example: if an aff with a court advantage and a USFG agent says their plan meets "enact = Congress only", the neg could say "interpret the words USFG in the plan to include the Courts when context dictates it---even if 'USFG' doesn't always mean "Courts," you should assume it does for debates in which one or more contentions/advantages are both impertinent and insoluable absent a plan that advocates judicial action." But you will likely need to be both explicit and reasonable about the standard you use if you are to successfully counter charges of infinite regress/arbitrariness.
Topicality on NATO emerging tech: Security cooperation almost certainly involves the DOD. Even if new forms of security cooperation could theoretically exclude the DOD, there's not a lot of definitional support and minimal normative justification for that interpretation. Most of the important definition debates resolve substantive issues about what DA and impact turn links are granted and what counterplans are competitive rather than creating useful T definitions. Creative use of 'substantially = in the main' or 'increase = pre-existing' could elevate completely unworkable definitions into ones that are viable at the fringes.
Topicality on Legal Personhood: Conferring rights and/or duties doesn't presumptively confer legal personhood. Don't get me wrong: with evidence and normative definition debating, it very well may, but it doesn't seem like something to be taken for granted. There is a case for "US = federal only" but it's very weak. Overall this is a very weak topic for T args.
4) Risk Assessment
In front of me, teams would be well-served to explain their impact scenarios less in terms of brinks, and more in terms of probabilistic truth claims. When pressed with robust case defense, "Our aff is the only potential solution to a US-China war that's coming in a few months, which is the only scenario for a nuclear war that causes extinction" is far less winnable than "our aff meaningfully improves the East Asian security environment through building trust between the two great military powers in the region, which statistically decreases the propensity for inevitable miscalculations or standoffs to escalate to armed conflict." It may not be as fun, but that framing can allow you to generate persuasive solvency deficits that aren't grounded in empty rhetoric and cliche, or to persuasively defeat typical alt cause arguments, etc. Given that you decrease the initial "risk" (i.e. probability times magnitude) of your impact with this framing, this approach obviously requires winning substantial defense against whatever DA the neg goes for, but when most DA's have outlandishly silly brink arguments themselves, this shouldn't be too taxing.
There are times where investing lots of time in impact calculus is worthwhile (for example, if winning your impact means that none of the aff's impact claims reach extinction, or that any of the actors in the aff's miscalc/brinkmanship scenarios will be deterred from escalating a crisis to nuclear use). Most of the time, however, teams waste precious minutes of their final rebuttal on mediocre impact calculus. The cult of "turns case" has much to do with this. It's worth remembering that accessing an extinction impact is far more important than whether or not your extinction impact happens three months faster than theirs (particularly when both sides' warrant for their timeframe claim is baseless conjecture and ad hoc assertion), and that, in most cases, you need to win the substance of your DA/advantage to win that it turns the case.
Incidentally, phrasing arguments more moderately and conditionally is helpful for every argument genre: "all predictions fail" is not persuasive; "some specific type of prediction relying on their model of IR forecasting has little to no practical utility" can be. The only person who's VTL is killed when I hear someone say "there is no value to life in the world of the plan" is mine.
At least for me, try-or-die is often bizarrely intuitive based on argument selection (i.e. if the neg spots the aff that "extinction is inevitable if the judge votes neg, even if it's questionable whether or not the aff solves it", rationalizing an aff ballot becomes rather alluring and shockingly persuasive). You should combat this innate intuition by ensuring that you either have impact defense of some sort (anything from DA solves the case to a counterplan/alt solves the case argument to status quo checks resolve the terminal impact to actual impact defense can work) or by investing time in arguing against try-or-die decision-making.
Counterplan theory is a lost art. Affirmatives let negative teams get away with murder. And it's getting worse and worse every year. Investing time in theory is daunting... it requires answering lots of blippy arguments with substance and depth and speaking clearly, and probably more slowly than you're used to. But, if you invest time, effort, and thought in a well-grounded theoretical objection, I'll be a receptive critic.
The best theory interpretations are clear, elegant, and minimally arbitrary. Here are some examples of args that I would not anticipate many contemporary 2N's defeating:
--counterplans should be policies. Perhaps executive orders, perhaps guidence memos, perhaps lower court decisions, perhaps Congressional resolutions. But this would exclude such travesties as "The Executive Branch should always take international law into account when making their decisions. Such is closer to a counterplan that says "The Executive Branch should make good decisions forever" than it is to a useful policy recommendation.
--counterplans should not be able to fiat both the federal government and additional actors outside of the federal government. It's utopian enough to fiat that Courts, the President, and Congress all act in concert in perpetuity on a given subject. It's absurd to fiat additional actors as well.
There are other theoretical objections that I might take more seriously than other judges, although I recognize them as arguments on which reasonable minds may disagree. For example, I am somewhat partial to the argument that solvency advocates for counterplans should have a level of specificity that matches the aff. I feel like that standard would reward aff specificity and incentivize debates that reflect the literature base, while punishing affs that are contrived nonsense by making them debate contrived process nonsense. This certainly seems debateable, and in truth if I had to pick a side, I'd probably go neg, but it seems like a relatively even debate (and it's at minimum a better argument than many of the contrived and desperate solvency deficits that flailing affs teams extend against counterplans).
Competition debates are a particularly lost art. I'm not a great judge for counterplans that compete off of certainty or immediacy based on "should"/"resolved" definitions. I'm somewhat easily persuaded that these interpretations lower the bar for how difficult it is to win a negative ballot to an undesirable degree. That being said, affs lose these debates all the time by failing to counter-define words or dropping stupid tricks, so make sure you invest the time you need in these debates to win them.
"CPs should be textually and functionally competitive" seems to me like a logical and defensible standard. Some don't realize that if CPs must be both functionally and textually competitive, permutations may be either. I like the "textual/functional" model of competition BECAUSE it incentives creative counterplan and permutation construction, and because it requires careful text-writing.
Offense-defense is intuitive to me, and so teams should always be advised to have offense even if their defense is very strong. If the aff says that the counterplan links to the net benefit but doesn't advance a solvency deficit or disadvantage to the CP, and the neg argues that the counterplan at least links less, I am not very likely to vote affirmative absent strong affirmative framing on this question (often the judge is left to their own devices on this question, or only given instruction in the 2AR, which is admittedly better than never but still often too late). At the end of the day I must reconcile these opposing claims, and if it's closely contested and at least somewhat logical, it's very difficult to win 100% of an argument. Even if I think the aff is generally correct, in a world where I have literally any iota of doubt surrounding the aff position or am even remotely persuaded by the the negative's position, why would I remotely risk triggering the net benefit for the aff instead of just opting for the guaranteed safe choice of the counterplan?
Offense, in this context, can come in multiple flavors: you can argue that the affirmative or perm is less likely to link to the net benefit than the counterplan, for example. You can also argue that the risk of a net benefit below a certain threshold is indistinguishable from statistical noise, and that the judge should reject to affirm a difference between the two options because it would encourage undesirable research practices and general decision-making. Perhaps you can advance an analytic solvency deficit somewhat supported by one logical conjecture, and if you are generally winning the argument, have the risk of the impact to that outweigh the unique risk of aff triggering the DA relative to the counterplan. But absent any offensive argument of any sort, the aff is facing an uphill battle. I have voted on "CP links to politics before" but generally that only happens if there is a severe flaw in negative execution (i.e. the neg drops it), a significant skill discrepancy between teams, or a truly ill-conceived counterplan.
I'm a somewhat easy sell on conditionality good (at least 1 CP / 1 K is defensible), but I've probably voted aff slightly more frequently than not in conditionality debates. That's partly because of selection bias (affs go for it when they're winning it), but mainly because neg teams have gotten very sloppy in their defenses of conditionality, particularly in the 2NR. That being said, I've been growing more and more amenable to "conditionality bad" arguments over time.
However, large advantage counterplans with multiple planks, all of which can be kicked, are fairly difficult to defend. Negative teams can fiat as many policies as it takes to solve whatever problems the aff has sought to tackle. It is unreasonable to the point of stupidity to expect the aff to contrive solvency deficits: the plan would literally have to be the only idea in the history of thought capable of solving a given problem. Every additional proposal introduced in the 1nc (in order to increase the chance of solving) can only be discouraged through the potential cost of a disad being read against it. In the old days, this is why counterplan files were hundreds of pages long and had answers to a wide variety of disads. But if you can kick the plank, what incentive does the aff have to even bother researching if the CP is a good idea? If they read a 2AC add-on, the neg gets as many no-risk 2NC counterplans to add to the fray as well (of course, they can also add unrelated 2nc counterplans for fun and profit). If you think you can defend the merit of that strategy vs. a "1 condo cp / 1 condo k" interp, your creative acumen may be too advanced for interscholastic debate; consider more challenging puzzles in emerging fields, as they urgently need your input.
I don't think I'm "biased" against infinite conditionality; if you think you have the answers and technical acuity to defend infinite conditionality against the above argumentation, I'd happily vote for you.
I don't default to the status quo unless you explicitly flag it at some point during the debate (the cross-x or the 2nc is sufficient if the aff never contests it). I don't know why affs ask this question every cross-x and then never make a theory argument about it. It only hurts you, because it lets the neg get away with something they otherwise wouldn't have.
All that said, I don't have terribly strong convictions about any of these issues, and any theoretical predisposition is easily overcame by outdebating another team on the subject at hand.
Most theoretical objections to (and much sanctimonious indignation toward) the politics disadvantage have never made sense to me. Fiat is a convention about what it should be appropriate to assume for the sake of discussion, but there's no "logical" or "true" interpretation of what fiat descriptively means. It would be ludicrously unrealistic for basically any 1ac plan to pass immediately, with no prior discussion, in the contemporary political world. Any form of argument in which we imagine the consequences of passage is a fictive constraint on process argumentation. As a result, any normative justification for including the political process within the contours of permissible argument is a rational justification for a model of fiat that involves the politics DA (and a DA to a model of fiat that doesn't). Political salience is the reason most good ideas don't become policy, and it seems illogical for the negative to be robbed of this ground. The politics DA, then, represents the most pressing political cost caused by doing the plan in the contemporary political environment, which seems like a very reasonable for affs to have to defend against.
Obviously many politics DAs are contrived nonsense (especially during political periods during which there is no clear, top-level presidential priority). However, the reason that these DAs are bad isn't because they're theoretically illegitimate, and politics theory's blippiness and general underdevelopment further aggravate me (see the tech vs truth section).
Finally, re: intrinsicness, I don't understand why the judge should be the USFG. I typically assume the judge is just me, deciding which policy/proposal is the most desirable. I don't have control over the federal government, and no single entity does or ever will (barring that rights malthus transition). Maybe I'm missing something. If you think I am, feel free to try and be the first to show me the light...
7) Framework/Non-Traditional Affs
Despite some of the arguments I've read and coached, I'm sympathetic to the framework argument and fairness concerns. I don't think that topicality arguments are presumptively violent, and I think it's generally rather reasonable (and often strategic) to question the aff's relationship to the resolution. Although framework is often the best option, I would generally prefer to see a substantive strategy if one's available. This is simply because I have literally judged hundreds of framework debates and it has gotten mildly repetitive, to say the least (just scroll down if you think that I'm being remotely hyperbolic).
My voting record on framework is relatively even. In nearly every debate, I voted for the team I assessed as demonstrating superior technical debating in the final rebuttals, and that will continue in the future.
I typically think winning unique offense, in the rare scenario where a team invests substantial time in poking defensive holes in the other team's standards, is difficult for both sides in a framework debate. I think affs should think more about their answers to "switch side solves your offense" and "sufficient neg engagement key to meaningfully test the aff", while neg's should generally work harder to prepare persuasive and consistent impact explanations. The argument that "other policy debates solve your offense" can generally push back against skills claims, and the argument that "wiki/disclosure/contestable advocacy in the 1ac provides some degree of predictability/debateability" can often push back against "vote neg on presumption because truth-testing- we literally couldn't negate it" but for some reason in many debates neg's completely blow off these arguments.
I'm typically more persuaded by affirmative teams that answer framework by saying that the skills/methods inculcated by the 1ac produce more effective/ethical interactions with institutions than by teams that argue "all institutions are bad."
Fairness is not necessarily an impact; it certainly may implicate the education that the aff produces, but calling fairness "procedural" doesn't bestow upon it some mystical external impact without additional explanation (i.e. without an actual explanation attached to that). Fairness is an abstract value. Like most values, it is difficult to explain beyond a certain point, and it can't be proven or disproven. It's hard to answer the question "why is fairness good?" for the same reason it's hard to answer the question "why is justice good?" It is pretty easy to demonstate why you should presume in favor of fairness in a debate context, given that everyone relies on essential fairness expectations in order to participate in the activity (for example, teams expect that I flow and give their arguments a fair hearing rather than voting against them because I don't like their choice in clothes). But as soon as neg teams start introducing additional standards to their framework argument that raise education concerns, they have said that the choice of framework has both fairness and education implications, and if it could change our educational experience, could the choice of framework change our social or intellectual experience in debate in other ways as well? Maybe not (I certainly think it's easy to win that an individual round's decision certainly couldn't be expected to) but if you said your FW is key to education it's easy to see how those kinds of questions come into play and now can potentially militate against fairness concerns.
I think it's perfectly reasonable to question the desirability of the activity: we should all ideally be self-reflexive and be able to articulate why it is we participate in the activities on which we choose to dedicate our time. After all, I think nearly everybody in the world does utterly indefensible things from time to time, and many people (billions of them, probably) make completely indefensible decisions all the time. The reason why these arguments can be unpersuasive is typically because saying that debate is bad may just link to the team saying "debate bad" because they're, you know, debating, and no credible solvency mechanism for altering the activity has been presented.
I know I just explained a rationale for potentially restricting your framework impacts to fairness concerns. But still it's nice and often more fulfilling from a judge's perspective to hear a defense of debate rather than a droll recitation of "who knows why debate's good but we're both here... so like... it must be." If that means "procedural fairness" is de-emphasized in favor of an explanation for why the particular fairness norms established by your topicality interpretation are crucial to a particular vision of the activity and a defense of that vision's benefits, that would be a positive development.
If you're looking for an external impact, there are two impacts to framework that I have consistently found more persuasive than most attempts to articulate one for fairness/skills/deliberation, but they're not unassailable: "switch-side debate good" (forcing people to defend things they don't believe is the only vehicle for truly shattering dogmatic ideological predispositions and fostering a skeptical worldview capable of ensuring that its participants, over time, develop more ethical and effective ideas than they otherwise would) and "agonism" (making debaters defend stuff that the other side is prepared to attack rewards debaters for pursuing clash; running from engagement by lecturing the neg and judge on a random topic of your choosing is a cowardly flight from battle; instead, the affirmative team with a strong will to power should actively strive to beat the best, most well-prepared negative teams from the biggest schools on their terms, which in turn provides the ultimate triumph; the life-affirming worldview facilitated by this disposition is ultimately necessary for personal fulfillment, and also provides a more effective strategy with which to confront the inevitable hardships of life).
Many aff "impact turns" to topicality are often rendered incoherent when met with gentle pushback. It's difficult to say "predictability bad" if you have a model of debate that makes debate more predictable from the perspective of the affirmative team. Exclusion and judgment are inevitable structural components of any debate activity that I can conceive of: any DA excludes affs that link to it and don't have an advantage that outweighs it. The act of reading that DA can be understood as judging the debaters who proposed that aff as too dull to think of a better idea. Both teams are bound to say the other is wrong and only one can win. Many aff teams may protest that their impact turns are much more sophisticated than this, and are more specific to some element of the topicality/FW structure that wouldn't apply to other types of debate arguments. Whatever explanation you have for why that above sentence true should be emphasized throughout the debate if you want your impact turns or DA's to T to be persuasive. In other words, set up your explanation of impact turns/disads to T in a way that makes clear why they are specific to something about T and wouldn't apply to basic structural requirements of debate from the outset of the debate.
I'm a fairly good judge for the capitalism kritik against K affs. Among my most prized possessions are signed copies of Jodi Dean books that I received as a gift from my debaters. Capitalism is persuasive for two reasons, both of which can be defeated, and both of which can be applied to other kritiks. First, having solutions (even ones that seem impractical or radical) entails position-taking, with clear political objectives and blueprints, and I often find myself more persuaded by a presentation of macro-political problems when coupled with corresponding presentation of macro-political solutions. Communism, or another alternative to capitalism, frequently ends up being the only solution of that type in the room. Second, analytic salience: The materialist and class interest theories often relatively more explanatory power for oppression than any other individual factor because they entail a robust and logically consistent analysis of the incentives behind various actors committing various actions over time. I'm certainly not unwinnable for the aff in these debates, particularly if they strongly press the alt's feasibility and explain what they are able to solve in the context of the neg's turns case arguments, and I obviously will try my hardest to avoid letting any predisposition overwhelm my assessment of the debating.
8) Kritiks (vs policy affs)
I'm okay for 'old-school' kritik's (security/cap/etc), but I'm also okay for the aff. When I vote for kritiks, most of my RFD's look like one of the following:
1) The neg has won that the implementation of the plan is undesirable relative to the status quo;
2) The neg has explicitly argued (and won) that the framework of the debate should be something other than "weigh the plan vs squo/alt" and won within that framework.
If you don't do either of those things while going for a kritik, I am likely to be persuaded by traditional aff presses (case outweighs, try-or-die, perm double-bind, alt fails etc). Further, despite sympathies for and familiarity with much poststructural thought, I'm nevertheless quite easily persuaded to use utilitarian cost-benefit analysis to make difficult decisions, and I have usually found alternative methods of making decisions lacking and counter-intuitive by comparison.
Kritik alternatives typically make no sense. They often have no way to meaningfully compete with the plan, frequently because of a scale problem. Either they are comparing what one person/a small group should do to what the government should do, or what massive and sweeping international movements should do vs what a government should do. Both comparisons seem like futile exercises for reasons I hope are glaringly obvious.
There are theory arguments that affs could introduce against alternatives that exploit common design flaws in critical arguments. "Vague alts" is not really one of them (ironically because the argument itself is too vague). Some examples: "Alternatives should have texts; otherwise the alternative could shift into an unpredictable series of actions throughout the debate we can't develop reasonable responses against." "Alternatives should have actors; otherwise there is no difference between this and fiating 'everyone should be really nice to each other'." Permutations are easy to justify: the plan would have to be the best idea in the history of thought if all the neg had to do was think of something better.
Most kritik frameworks presented to respond to plan focus are not really even frameworks, but a series of vague assertions that the 2N is hoping that the judge will interpret in a way that's favorable for them (because they certainly don't know exactly what they're arguing for). Many judges continually interpret these confusing framework debates by settling on some middle-ground compromise that neither team actually presented. I prefer to choose between options that debaters actually present.
My ideal critical arguments would negate the aff. For example, against a heg aff, I could be persuaded by security K alts that advocate for a strategy of unilateral miltary withdrawal. Perhaps the permutation severs rhetoric and argumentation in the 1ac that, while not in the plan text, is both central enough to their advocacy and important enough (from a pedagogical perspective) that we should have the opportunity to focus the debate around the geopolitical position taken by the 1ac. The only implication to to a "framework" argument like this would be that, assuming the neg wins a link to something beyond the plan text, the judge should reject, on severence grounds, permutations against alts that actually make radical proposals. In the old days, this was called philosophical competition. How else could we have genuine debates about how to change society or grand strategy? There are good aff defenses of the plan focus model from a fairness and education perspective with which to respond to this, but this very much seems like a debate worth having.
All this might sound pretty harsh for neg's, but affs should be warned that I think I'm more willing than most judges to abandon policymaking paradigms based on technical debating. If the negative successfully presents and defends an alternative model of decisionmaking, I will decide the debate from within it. The ballot is clay; mold it for me and I'll do whatever you win I should.
9) Kritiks (vs K affs)
Seriously, I don't have strong presuppositions about what "new debate" is supposed to look like. For the most part, I'm happy to see any strategy that's well researched or well thought-out. Try something new! Even if it doesn't work out, it may lead to something that can radically innovate debate.
Most permutation/framework debates are really asking the question: "Is the part of the aff that the neg disagreed with important enough to decide an entire debate about?" (this is true in CP competition debates too, for what it's worth). Much of the substantive debating elsewhere subsequently determines the outcome of these sub-debates far more than debaters seem to assume.
Role of the ballot/judge claims are obviously somewhat self-serving, but in debates in which they're well-explained (or repeatedly dropped), they can be useful guidelines for crafting a reasonable decision (especially when the ballot theorizes a reasonable way for both teams to win if they successfully defend core thesis positions).
Yes, I am one of those people who reads critical theory for fun, although I also read about domestic politics, theoretical and applied IR, and economics for fun. Yes, I am a huge nerd, but who's the nerd that that just read the end of a far-too-long judge philosophy in preparation for a debate tournament? Thought so.
10) Addendum: Random Thoughts from Random Topics
In the spirit of Bill Batterman, I thought to myself: How could I make this philosophy even longer and less useable than it already was? So instead of deleting topic-relevent material from previous years that no longer really fit into the above sections, I decided to archive all of that at the bottom of the paradigm if I still agreed with what I said. Bad takes were thrown into the memory hole.
Topicality on water: There aren't very many good limiting devices on this topic. Obviously the states CP is an excellent functional limit; "protection requires regulation" is useful as well, at least insofar as it establishes competition for counterplans that avoid regulations (e.g. incentives). Beyond that, the neg is in a rough spot.
I am more open to "US water resources include oceans" than most judges; see the compiled evidence set I released in the Michigan camp file MPAs Aff 2 (should be available via openevidence). After you read that and the sum total of all neg cards released/read thus far, the reasoning for why I believe this should be self-evident. Ironically, I don't think there are very many good oceans affs (this isn't a development topic, it's a protection topic). This further hinders the neg from persuasively going for the this T argument, but if you want to really exploit this belief, you'll find writing a strategic aff is tougher than you may imagine.
Topicality on antitrust: Was adding 'core' to this topic a mistake? I can see either side of this playing out at Northwestern: while affs that haven't thought about the variants of the 'core' or 'antitrust' pics are setting themselves up for failure, I think the aff has such an expansive range of options that they should be fine. There aren't a ton of generic T threats on this topic. There are some iterations of subsets that seem viable, if not truly threatening, and there there is a meaningful debate on whether or not the aff can fiat court action. The latter is an important question that both evidence and normative desirability will play a role in determining. Beyond that, I don't think there's much of a limit on this topic.
ESR debates on the executive powers topic: I think the best theory arguments against ESR are probably just solvency advocate arguments. Seems like a tough sell to tell the neg there’s no executive CP at all. I've heard varied definitions of “object fiat” over the years: fiating an actor that's a direct object/recipient of the plan/resolution; fiating an enduring negative action (i.e. The President should not use designated trade authority, The US should not retaliate to terrorist attacks with nukes etc); fiating an actor whose behavior is affected by a 1ac internal link chain. But none of these definitions seem particularly clear nor any of these objections particularly persuasive.
States CP on the education and health insurance topics: States-and-politics debates are not the most meaningful reflection of the topic literature, especially given that the nature of 50 state fiat distorts the arguments of most state action advocates, and they can be stale (although honestly anything that isn't a K debate will not feel stale to me these days). But I'm sympathetic to the neg on these questions, especially if they have good solvency evidence. There are a slew of policy analysts that have recommended as-uniform-as-possible state action in the wake of federal dysfunction. With a Trump administration and a Republican Congress, is the prospect of uniform state action on an education or healthcare policy really that much more unrealistic than a massive liberal policy? There are literally dozens of uniform policies that have been independently adopted by all or nearly all states. I'm open to counter-arguments, but they should all be as contextualized to the specific evidence and counter-interpretation presented by the negative as they would be in a topicality debate (the same goes for the neg in terms of answering aff theory pushes). It's hard to defend a states CP without meaningful evidentiary support against general aff predictability pushes, but if the evidence is there, it doesn't seem to unreasonable to require affs to debate it. Additionally, there does seem to be a persuasive case for the limiting condition that a "federal-key warrant" places on affirmatives.
Topicality on executive power: This topic is so strangely worded and verbose that it is difficult to win almost any topicality argument against strong affirmative answers, as powerful as the limits case may be. ESR makes being aff hard enough that I’m not sure how necessary the negative needs assistance in limiting down the scope of viable affs, but I suppose we shall see as the year moves forward. I’m certainly open to voting on topicality violations that are supported by quality evidence. “Restrictions in the area of” = all of that area (despite the fact that two of the areas have “all or nearly all” in their wordings, which would seem to imply the other three are NOT “all or nearly all”) does not seem to meet that standard.
Topicality on immigration: This is one of the best topics for neg teams trying to go for topicality in a long time... maybe since alternative energy in 2008-9. “Legal immigration” clearly means LPR – affs will have a tough time winning otherwise against competent negative teams. I can’t get over my feeling that the “Passel and Fix” / “Murphy 91” “humanitarian” violations that exclude refugee, asylums, etc, are somewhat arbitrary, but the evidence is extremely good for the negative (probably slightly better than it is for the affirmative, but it’s close), and the limits case for excluding these affs is extremely persuasive. Affs debating this argument in front of me should make their case that legal immigration includes asylum, refugees, etc by reading similarly high-quality evidence that says as much.
Topicality on arms sales: T - subs is persuasive if your argument is that "substantially" has to mean something, and the most reasonable assessment of what it should mean is the lowest contextual bound that either team can discover and use as a bulwark for guiding their preparation. If the aff can't produce a reasonably well-sourced card that says substantially = X amount of arms sales that their plan can feasibly meet, I think neg teams can win that it's more arbitrary to assume that substantially is in the topic for literally no reason than it is to assume the lowest plausible reading of what substantially could mean (especially given that every definition of substantially as a higher quantity would lead one to agree that substantially is at least as large as that lowest reading). If the aff can, however, produce this card, it will take a 2N's most stalwart defense of any one particular interpretation to push back against the most basic and intuitive accusations of arbitrariness/goalpost-shifting.
T - reduce seems conceptually fraught in almost every iteration. Every Saudi aff conditions its cessation of arms sales on the continued existence of Saudi Arabia. If the Saudi military was so inept that the Houthis suddenly not only won the war against Saleh but actually captured Saudi Arabia and annexed it as part of a new Houthi Empire, the plan would not prevent the US from selling all sorts of exciting PGMs to Saudi Arabia's new Houthi overlords. Other than hard capping the overall quantity of arms sales and saying every aff that doesn't do that isn't topical, (which incidentally is not in any plausible reading a clearly forwarded interpretation of the topic in that poorly-written Pearson chapter), it's not clear to me what the distinction is between affs that condition and affs that don't are for the purposes of T - Reduce
Topicality on CJR: T - enact is persuasive. The ev is close, but in an evenly debated and closely contested round where both sides read all of the evidence I've seen this year, I'd be worried if I were aff. The debateability case is strong for the neg, given how unlimited the topic is, but there's a case to be made that courts affs aren't so bad and that ESR/politics is a strong enough generic to counter both agents.
Other T arguments are, generally speaking, uphill battles. Unless a plan text is extremely poorly written, most "T-Criminal" arguments are likely solvency takeouts, though depending on advantage construction they may be extremely strong and relevant solvency takeouts. Most (well, all) subsets arguments, regardless of which word they define, have no real answer to "we make some new rule apply throughout the entire area, e.g. all police are prohibitied from enforcing XYZ criminal law." Admittedly, there are better and worse variations for all of these violations. For example, Title 18 is a decent way to set up "T - criminal justice excludes civil / decrim" types of interpretations, despite the fact it's surprisingly easy for affs to win they meet it. And of course, aff teams often screw these up answering bad and mediocre T args in ways that make them completely viable. But none of these would be my preferred strategy, unless of course you're deploying new cards or improved arguments at the TOC. If that's the case, nicely done! If you think your evidence is objectively better than the aff cards, and that you can win the plan clearly violates a cogent interpretation, topicality is always a reasonable option in front of me.
Topicality on space cooperation: Topicality is making a big comeback in college policy debates this year. Kiinda overdue. But also kinda surprising because the T evidence isn't that high quality relative to its outsized presence in 2NRs, but hey, we all make choices.
STM T debates have been underwhelming in my assessment. T - No ADR... well at least is a valid argument consisting of a clear interp and a clear violation. It goes downhill from there. It's by no means unwinnable, but not a great bet in an evenly matched ebate. But you can't even say that for most of the other STM interps I've seen so far. Interps that are like "STM are these 9 things" are not only silly, they frequently have no clear way of clearly excluding their hypothesized limits explosion... or the plan. And I get it - STM affs are the worst (and we're only at the tip of the iceberg for zany STM aff prolif). Because STM proposals are confusing, different advocates use the terms in wildly different ways, the proposals are all in the direction of uniqueness and are difficult to distinguish from similar policy structures presently in place, and the area lacks comprehensive neg ground outside of "screw those satellites, let em crash," STM affs producing annoying debates (which is why so many teams read STM). But find better and clearer T interps if you want to turn those complaints about topical affs into topicality arguments that exclude those affs. And I encourage you to do so quickly, as I will be the first to shamelessly steal them for my teams.
Ironically, the area of the topic that produces what seem to me the best debates (in terms of varied, high-quality, and evenly-matched argumentation) probably has the single highest-quality T angle for the neg to deploy against it. And that T angle just so happens to exclude nearly every arms control aff actually being ran. In my assessment, both the interp that "arms control = quantitative limit" and the interp that "arms control = militaries just like chilling with each other, hanging out, doing some casual TCBMs" are plausible readings of the resolution. The best aff predictability argument is clearly that arms control definitions established before the space age have some obvious difficulties remaining relevant in space. But it seems plausible that that's a reason the resolution should have been written differently, not that it should be read in an alternate way. That being said, the limits case seems weaker than usual for the neg (though not terrible) and in terms of defending an interp likely to result in high-quality debates, the aff has a better set of ground arguments at their disposal than usual.
Trump-era politics DAs: Most political capital DAs are self-evidently nonsense in the Trump era. We no longer have a president that expends or exerts political capital as described by any of the canonical sources that theorized that term. Affs should be better at laundry listing thumpers and examples that empirically prove Trump's ability to shamelessly lie about whatever the aff does or why he supports the aff and have a conservative media environment that tirelessly promotes that lie as the new truth, but it's not hard to argue this point well. Sometimes, when there's an agenda (even if that agenda is just impeachment), focus links can be persuasive. I actually like the internal agency politics DA's more than others do, because they do seem to better analyze the present political situation. Our political agenda at the national level does seem driven at least as much by personality-driven palace intrigue as anything else; if we're going to assess the political consequences of our proposed policies, that seems as good a proxy for what's likely to happen as anything else.
Glenbrook North 2017
University of Michigan 2021
I've judged at more tournaments in the past year than the previous 4, have never judged at the college level, and have been out of debate since leading a lab at Michigan in the Summer of 2020. Some suggestions --- in addition to my earlier thoughts and feelings about debate listed below this --- that could be used to your advantage:
-I am corporate but know nothing about anti-trust law
-I've always found Topicality/Framework arguments more compelling than their affirmative answers
-CX is awesome; asking about lines of evidence that don't impact the debate is lame
-Most claims of "X was conceded" are lies; lying is not only a violation of one of the 10 Commandments, but extremely irritating and impacts speaker points
-Please slow down on T in the 1NC and 2AC - I don't like trying to figure out what's happening in the block
-Arguments have way more cross-applicability than usually suggested and tension between them is often not capitalized on
-I am a sucker for: carded turns case arguments, all the 1AR cards, judge instruction, absurd uses of fiat, Game of Thrones
Stuff I wrote a few years ago that I still agree with
The flow is the only thing that matters - your ability to explain the arguments imbedded in your evidence and articulating why they are superior to your opponents' matters more than the quantity and quality of evidence you have read in the debate.
Judge intervention is awful, I refuse to do it. If the "sky is pink" is unanswered by your opponent, I will presume the sky is pink. If "Topicality - Agent Specification" is unanswered by your opponent, I will presume that teams must specify their agent in order to be topical. But, if you don't explain why this argument wins you the debate, I will not presume it does. Again, the flow is the only thing that matters.
Clarity and persuasion matter immensely to me.
So does impact comparison. I care much less about "magnitude" and "timeframe" than "economic collapse causes a nuclear war faster than democratic backsliding" and "U.S.-Russia war kills more people than U.S.-China war
**Just a brief update for the high school community on the NATO topic:
T - Article V is a non-starter. Article V is a component of NATO...enough said.
If "one or more of the following" is in your plan, I will dock you one or more of the following: wins, speaker points (in increments of 1)
Plan vagueness is way more effective if couched in terms of T; otherwise, don't read it.
**Updated Fall 2021**
Yes I would like to be on the email chain: firstname.lastname@example.org
I will listen to all arguments, but a couple of caveats:
-This doesn't mean I will understand every element of your argument.
-I have grown extremely irritated with clash debates…take that as you please.
-I am a firm believer that you must read some evidence in debate. If you differ, you might want to move me down the pref sheet.
I have been a long-term fan of the great Shannon Sharpe. Now that he is the co-host of Undisputed, he often serves up Hot Dubs and Hot Ls daily. Please see ways below in which you or your team might earn one of these Dubs or Ls:
To Earn a Hot L:
1. You stumble, fumble or go silent on a fundamental series of CX questions related to your Aff, primary Neg position or issues germane to the topic.
2. You are blatantly racist, homophobic, sexist or are in any other way discriminatory in the debate space.
3. You decide that theory, skepticism or RVIs are more important than substance (specifically for LD).
4. You clip or cross-read.
To Earn a Hot W:
1. Debate well!
2. Be nice!
3. Don’t do any of the things in the Hot L section!
Note to all: In high school debate, there is no world where the Negative needs to read more than 5 off case arguments. SO if you say 6+, I'm only flowing 5 and you get to choose which you want me to flow.
In college debate, I might allow 6 off case arguments :/
Good luck to all!
Yes email chain-- email@example.com
I am currently a coach at Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart. I debated in high school at Washburn Rural and in college at the University of Kansas.
I am very involved on the HS NATO topic. I judge a lot, research a lot, and am very familiar with it.
I am more familiar with policy arguments (plans, da's, cp's, t) than I am k's and un-topical/non-traditional affirmatives.
I prefer debates in which debaters defend well developed, well researched, core of topic arguments. I do not prefer debates in which debaters rely on deception, trickery, or clash-evasion to win.
If you are having fun, I will like judging you. If you look like you are miserable or if you treat your opponents miserably, I am not the judge for you. Being competitive, taking debate seriously, and being focused do not preclude having fun. Being mean doesn't make you good, it makes you unbearable to listen to.
If you debate from your flow (especially if you are flowing on paper) I will probably think you are super cool and talented and good at debate.
NATO topic proclivities
Very bad for T-article 5 (I would probably not read it in the 1nc if I am the judge)
I lean pretty neg on "perm do the cp" vs the bilat cp. I can pretty easily be convinced that NATO is a political organization with legal personality, and am skeptical that it is simply a collection of countries.
I am probably better for the aff than the average judge on this topic for permutations against the cease nato cp. I have yet to see an aff go for it, and I do think it is certainly possible for the neg to beat the perm with either theory or substance, my intuition is that most aff's probably are not the end-all be-all of NATO.
General proclivities/pet peeves
Please stop asking/offering a marked copy. Unless the speech marked multiple cards (like 4+), it is not worth the time to send out the copy.
I strongly prefer closed cx and give better points to debaters who are capable of fielding their own cx questions and trust their partners enough to allow them to field their own.
I am much more compelled by a small number of very well developed arguments than a large number of poorly developed arguments. Poorly developed arguments should be flippantly disregarded.
Argumentative narrative is very important to me. Packaging arguments effectively goes a long way with me, regurgitating arguments thoughtlessly does not tend to get a lot of weight in my decisions.
2NC CP's out of add ons are probably legitimate. 2NC CP's out of straight turned DA's are lazy. If you introduced a legitimate opportunity cost to the affirmative, you should be willing to defend it.
I will not evaluate arguments about an individual's character or behavior that occurred outside of the debate. I am an adult and I feel uncomfortable and unwilling to decide the moral worth of individual actions of high schoolers.
The longer I am a coach, the more I think most ethics violations are accidents or misunderstandings. While some practices, such as clipping or evidence fabrication, are worthy of rejecting the team, I tend to have a large presumption toward alternative remedies.
I'm a big advocate of comparative impact analysis and what I mean by that is explaining your impacts not just in relation to the affirmatives but reasons for why your arguments turn their impacts or come first or any other consideration you think gives me a reason to vote for you. At the end of the day the surest way to get my ballot is to do a better job explaining why I should vote for you compared to the reasons the other team is giving me. The team that does the better job of framing the debate usually wins.
Not my favorite argument, but am open to hearing the debate. I'm open to reasonability or competing interpretations. I don't have an image of what is and what is not topical and than bring some bias from that in, I will only evaluate from a tech perspective on this debate, which means if an aff is horrible for the topic and explodes limits but you argue that in an ineffective manner than you will lose. If you deserve to win the debate I will vote for you, no matter my feelings on topicality.
Theory is fine, I'll vote for anything from Condo to Process CP theory if you do a good job explaining it. Make sure you are doing comparative analysis as well as impact explanation.
I think that most K teams do the bare minimum with the argument and would not get my ballot because they rely on generic links and don't give specific applications. You should always make sure to explain the thesis of your K as well as your link arguments in detail.
A good specific CP to the aff is always a great debate. Just make sure to explain the difference between the CP and the Aff if it is a confusing one (e.g. you don't need to explain the consultation process in great detail if you read a consult CP, we all get it, it's consult).
These are fine. Politics, plan based DA's, whatever. The internal link and impact parts of the debate are the most important to me, do this well and you will be rewarded.
Update: This is still accurate. I am actively coaching / cutting cards on the HS topic.
Put me on the email chain: firstname.lastname@example.org --- Makes life easier.
Hi, I'm Dave.
I debated 4 years in High School in Albuquerque, NM. I graduated in 1989.
I also debated for 4 years in College at Arizona State and transferred to UMKC. I won CEDA Nationals and graduated in 1994.
After that, I was a grad assistant at the University of North Texas and coached debate for 2 years.
and then got married and took my wife's last name changing mine from Genco to Kingston.
and then was a grad assistant at KU for a couple of years.
and then was the Assistant Director at UMKC until 2000.
From 1994 until 2000 I taught at a bunch of camps.
I've helped out several college teams here and there in the last 5-6 years.
I am currently cutting cards and coaching Blue Valley Northwest on the high school topic.
If you have any questions ask.
TL/DR: I really don't have a preference for what you do in a debate round. I've judged a ton of them over the years. I suggest you do something that you do well.
K: Everyone wants to know if I'm ok with "the K" or "the criticism" or a "performance". Sure. That sounds good to me. I understand those types of arguments. I've become more up to date with some high theory and race/structural Ks. You do you. I don't hold them against you.
CP: You don't have to answer the aff if the Counterplan solves all of the aff and you should point out what disads/turns are net benefits to the counterplans. I do not default to judge kick. I default to you're stuck with what you go for unless you make some argument about it. If you make an argument about the counterplan being condo, then you have to kick it unless you make judge kick args.
DA: They're good. Uniqueness, link or impact defense, and foundational warrant comparison are all good ways to help resolve things. Please don't read generic impact stuff that doesn't take the context of the round into account. It helps my decision and comments if you differentiate your warrants or find ways to compare your link to the turn or vise versa. Do I believe in zero risk? Kinda. Dropped args are probably zero risk. But I default to the arguments made about risk. Generally though, I default to some risk on a contested debate unless the resolution of the arguments is made very clear (Uniqueness goes the wrong direction, dropped args with some analysis, deeper warrants etc.)
T: If you have a good interp you can defend and can do standard debating well, I'm willing to hear the debate.
K Affs: I have been more in touch with this style of debate in recent years. I'm pretty neutral in FW debates. If you're aff vs FW, isolate a couple pieces of offense and you should be all right.
Theory: I don't care about how many or what kind of condo if you can defend it.
I try to stay neutral in my judging and vote on things said in the round, not things that I make up about things you say. I'll make things up if that's the only way to resolve stuff, but I never feel good about it. Don't make me feel bad, plz.
I don't care how fast you go as long as you don't have mush mouth and I can understand it.
I try not to be a jerk about prep time, please don't be a jerk about it either. That being said, we do have to have a debate and it does have to finish on time, so don't steal prep.
Also, don't clip cards. I read along in the speech doc.
Don't flash docs that contain a ton of cards you're never going to read, and don't mess with the speech docs (remove navigation, purposefully try to avoid sharing, or do other random crap that is borderline cheating). The other team gets to see everything you read, and vice versa.
None of that doesn't mean that you can expect me to ignore arguments that aren't in a speech doc. If it was said, it's an argument. You should FLOW.
I don't like posturing between speeches and during CX in debates. If you have comments to make about the way the other team is debating or the arguments they choose, then you should make them as an argument in a speech.
Speaker Points: I'm trying to achieve more clarity about how I assign speaker points. This should give you a good idea about what I'm thinking when I assign them. This is a bit of an upward departure from points I have given in the past. Basically, I'm looking at points as a consideration of whether or not I think the debating you did was of elim rounds quality or that your performance was worthy of putting you on track to win a speaker award. I have my standards, but my points will probably end up being .2 or so higher than I have given in the past.
Bonus speaker points if you find a way to win that doesn't assume you win all of your arguments.
Have fun and Good Luck!
I am the Co- Director of Debate at Wylie E. Groves HS in Beverly Hills, MI. I have coached high school debate for 47 years, debated at the University of Michigan for 3.5 years and coached at Michigan for one year (in the mid 1970s). I have coached at summer institutes for 47 years.
Please add me to your email chains at email@example.com.
On the 2021-2022 water resources topic, I have judged eight policy rounds: two rounds at Marist, voting negative both times, one round at Groves, voting affirmative and one at Golden Desert, voting affirmative, two rounds at UGA, voting affirmative and negative and, finally two rounds at the Detroit Urban Debate League Championships, voting negative twice. I also judged 3 LD rounds at Groves, and one PF round at Wayne State. I also worked/administered at the Detroit Urban Debate League's Summer Institute.
I judged 18 tournament rounds on the 2020-2021 criminal justice reform resolution, at the Grapevine Classic, Marist Ivy Street, Wayne State Pappas Memorial, JW Patterson Invitational (OK), University of Georgia, University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Woodward Academy JV/Novice Nationals, NAUDL Round Robin and West Bloomfield Invitational (MI), voting affirmative 13 times. I also judged three college debate rounds (alliances topic) at the University Kentucky and Wayne State, voting affirmative once. I judged six public forum rounds on the no first use topic at the University of Michigan and Dexter HS (MI) HS, voting pro three times. In addition, I judged seven rounds on the NSA surveillance topic at Michigan JV State Finals, UNLV-Golden Desert and Lexington (MA), voting con six times as well as seven rounds on the West Africa Urbanization resolution at the Providence (NC) HS Classic and the Rushmore (SD) Challenge, voting pro three times. I judged two Lincoln-Douglas debates for the Detroit Catholic Forensic League, voting negative twice. I co-administered and taught at the Detroit Urban Debate League Summer Institute, which addressed this year's policy resolution. I actively coach and co-direct the Groves Debate Team on the resolution.
I am open to most types of argument but default to a policy making perspective on debate rounds. Speed is fine; if unintelligible I will warn several times, continue to flow but it's in the debater's ball park to communicate the content of arguments and evidence and their implication or importance. Traditional on- case debate, disads, counterplans and kritiks are fine. However, I am more familiar with the literature of so-called non mainstream political philosophies (Marxism, neoliberalism, libertarianism, objectivism) than with many post modern philosophers and psychoanalytic literature. If your kritik becomes an effort to obfuscate through mindless jargon, please note that your threshold for my ballot becomes substantially higher.
At the margins of critical debate, for example, if you like to engage in "semiotic insurrection," interface psychoanalysis with political action, defend the proposition that 'death is good,' advocate that debate must make a difference outside the "argument room" or just play games with Baudrilliard, it would be the better part of valor to not pref me. What you might perceive as flights of intellectual brilliance I am more likely to view as incoherent babble or antithetical to participation in a truly educational activity. Capitalism/neoliberalism, securitization, anthropocentrism, Taoism, anti-blackness, queer theory, IR feminism, ableism and ageism are all kritiks that I find more palatable for the most part than the arguments listed above. I have voted for "death good" and Schlag, escape the argument box/room, arguments more times than I would like to admit (on the college and HS levels)-though I think these arguments are either just plain silly or inapplicable to interscholastic debate respectively. Now, it is time to state that my threshold for voting for even these arguments has gotten much higher. For example, even a single, persuasive turn or solid defensive position against these arguments would very likely be enough for me to vote against them.
I am less likely to vote on theory, not necessarily because I dislike all theory debates, but because I am often confronted with competing lists of why something is legitimate or illegitimate, without any direct comparison or attempt to indicate why one position is superior to the other on the basis of fairness and/or education. In those cases, I default to voting to reject the argument and not the team, or not voting on theory at all.
Specifically regarding so-called 'trigger warning' argument, I will listen if based on specific, explicit narratives or stories that might produce trauma. However, oblique, short references to phenomena like 'nuclear war,' 'terrorism,' 'human trafficking,' various forms of violence, genocide and ethnic cleansing in the abstract are really never reasons to vote on the absence of trigger warnings. If that is the basis for your argument (theoretical, empirically-based references), please don't make the argument. I won't vote on it.
In T or framework debates regarding critical affirmatives or Ks on the negative, I often am confronted with competing impacts (often labeled disadvantages with a variety of "clever" names) without any direct comparison of their relative importance. Again, without the comparisons, you will never know how a judge will resolve the framework debate (likely with a fair amount of judge intervention).
Additionally, though I personally believe that the affirmative should present a topical plan or an advocacy reasonably related to the resolution, I am somewhat open to a good performance related debate based on a variety of cultural, sociological and philosophical concepts. My personal antipathy to judge intervention and willingness to change if persuaded make me at least open to this type of debate. Finally, I am definitely not averse to voting against the kritik on either the affirmative or negative on framework and topicality-like arguments. On face, I don't find framework arguments to be inherently exclusionary.
As to the use of gratuitous/unnecessary profanity in debate rounds: "It don't impress me much!" Using such terms doesn't increase your ethos. I am quite willing to deduct speaker points for their systemic use. The use of such terms is almost always unnecessary and often turns arguments into ad hominem attacks.
Finally, I am a fan of the least amount of judge intervention as possible. The line by line debate is very important; so don't embed your clash so much that the arguments can't be "unembedded" without substantial judge intervention. I'm not a "truth seeker" and would rather vote for arguments I don't like than intervene directly with my preferences as a judge. Generally, the check on so-called "bad" arguments and evidence should be provided by the teams in round, not by me as the judge. This also provides an educationally sound incentive to listen and flow carefully, and prepare answers/blocks to those particularly "bad" arguments so as not to lose to them. Phrasing this in terms of the "tech" v. "truth" dichotomy, I try to keep the "truth" part to as close to zero (%) as humanly possible in my decision making. "Truth" can sometimes be a fluid concept and you might not like my perspective on what is the "correct" side of a particular argument..
An additional word or two on paperless debate and new arguments. There are many benefits to paperless debate, as well as a few downsides. For debaters' purposes, I rarely take "flashing" time out of prep time, unless the delay seems very excessive. I do understand that technical glitches do occur. However, once electronic transmission begins, all prep by both teams must cease immediately. This would also be true if a paper team declares "end prep" but continues to prepare. I will deduct any prep time "stolen" from the team's prep and, if the problem continues, deduct speaker points. Prep includes writing, typing and consulting with partner about strategy, arguments, order, etc.
With respect to new arguments, I do not automatically disregard new arguments until the 2AR (since there is no 3NR). Prior to that time, the next speaker should act as a check on new arguments or cross applications by noting what is "new" and why it's unfair or antithetical to sound educational practice. I do not subscribe to the notion that "if it's true, it's not new" as what is "true" can be quite subjective.
PUBLIC FORUM ADDENDUM:
Although I have guest presented at public forum summer institutes and judged some public forum rounds, it is only these last few weeks that I have started coaching PF. This portion of my philosophy consists of a few general observations about how a long time policy coach and judge will likely approach judging public forum judging:
1. For each card/piece of evidence presented, there should, in the text, be a warrant as to why the author's conclusions are likely correct. Of course, it is up to the opponent(s) to note the lack of, or weakness, in the warrant(s).
2. Arguments presented in early stages of the round (constructives, crossfire) should be extended into the later speeches for them to "count." A devastating crossfire, for example, will count for little or nothing if not mentioned in a summary or final focus.
3. I don't mind and rather enjoy a fast, crisp and comprehensible round. I will very likely be able to flow you even if you speak at a substantially faster pace than conversational.
4. Don't try to extend all you constructive arguments in the final stages (summary, final focus) of the round. Narrow to the winners for your side while making sure to respond to your opponents' most threatening arguments. Explicitly "kick out" of arguments that you're not going for.
5. Using policy debate terminology is OK and may even bring a tear to my eye. I understand quite well what uniqueness, links/internal links, impacts, impact and link turns, offense and defense mean. Try to contextualize them to the arguments in the round rather than than merely tossing around jargon.
6. I will ultimately vote on the content/substance/flow rather than on generalized presentational/delivery skills. That means you should flow as well (rather than taking random notes, lecture style) for the entire round (even when you've finished your last speech).
7. I view PF overall as a contest between competing impacts and impact turns. Therefore specific impact calculus (magnitude, probability, time frame, whether solving for your impact captures or "turns" your opponents' impact(s)) is usually better than a general statement of framework like "vote for the team that saves more lives."
8. The last couple of topics are essentially narrow policy topics. Although I do NOT expect to hear a plan, I will generally consider the resolution to be the equivalent of a "plan" in policy debate. Anything which affirms or negates the whole resolution is fair game. I would accept the functional equivalent of a counterplan (or an "idea" which is better than the resolution), a "kritik" which questions the implicit assumptions of the resolution or even something akin to a "topicality" argument based on fairness, education or exclusion which argues that the pro's interpretation is not the resolution or goes beyond it. An example would be dealert, which might be a natural extension of no first use but might not. Specifically advocating dealert is arguably similar to an extratopical plan provision in policy debate.
9. I will do my level headed best to let you and your arguments and evidence decide the round and avoid intervention unless absolutely necessary to resolve an argument or the round.
10. I will also strive to NOT call for cards at the end of the round even if speech documents are rarely exchanged in PF debates.
11. I would appreciate a very brief road map at the beginning of your speeches.
12. Finally, with respect to the presentation of evidence, I much prefer the verbatim presentation of portions of card texts to brief and often self serving paraphrasing of evidence. That can be the basis of resolving an argument if one team argues that their argument(s) should be accepted because supporting evidence text is read verbatim as opposed to an opponent's paraphrasing of cards.
13. Although I'm willing to and vote for theory arguments in policy debate, I certainly am less inclined to do so in public forum. I will listen, flow and do my best not to intervene but often find myself listening to short lists of competing reasons why a particular theoretical position is valid or not. Without comparison and refutation of the other team's list, theory won't make it into my RFD. Usually theoretical arguments are, at most, a reason to reject a specific argument but not the team.
Overall, if there is something that I haven't covered, please ask me before the round begins. I'm happy to answer. Best wished for an enjoyable, educational debate.
Jake Lee (He/Him)
Present and Past Affiliations:
Current High School Affiliation - Head Coach and Math Teacher at the Mamaroneck High School
Former College Affiliation - Assistant Coach at the University of Michigan ('20-'21)
Former Assistant Coach - Pine Crest ('18-'21), Strath Haven ('19)
Former Debater - University of Pittsburgh ('16-'20), Qualified to NDT ('19) D7!
Former Debater - Glenbrook South ('12-'16)
My Email for the Chain: firstname.lastname@example.org
HS Debaters ALSO add: email@example.com
In-Depth Judging Record: View this Speadsheet (if you are into data and stuff)
Congrats on Qualifying to the TOC!! This is a major accomplishment, and every debater deserves to be celebrated for all of your hard work on getting to the TOC.
Before the start of every round, each debater is going to go around to say their name, their pronouns, and one fun fact about each other. You all come to tournaments too stressed and forget to have fun at debate tournaments. Having this little icebreaker makes rounds more enjoyable since we all are here to have fun and compete in a safe, friendly environment. It does not matter if you know each other, it helps reduce the tension in the room.
No more of this "can you send a marked copy of the doc, and take out the cards that you did not read". No more, you all should be FLOWING! This is a terrible excuse for not paying attention. Any team that asks for this request, I'm going to run your prep time, the other team can stall as long as they want because you decided not to flow. I don't care if they purposely run your time to ZERO, FLOW! You have the doc in front and all you have to do is listen. If I can flow without looking at the doc, you can too!
Tech > Truth, a dropped argument on the flow is a true argument on the flow.
Will not vote on Death Good, Racism Good, Sexism Good, etc.
Explanation matters more than evidence. Cards only matter to break ties in arguments when warrants/arguments are explicitly contested.
Condo is probably fine. New affs justify condo and maybe perf con.
You are NOT allowed to insert the re-highlighting of a card. You MUST read you re-highlighting. I will not flow it
Number your arguments - Debate like Dartmouth, makes the flow so much better
Stop Calling me Judge, just say my name lol
NATO Topic Thoughts:
Majority of the debates this year I have judged have been clash/K rounds. I think the one thing that bothers me about these debates quite often is the topic if just forgotten and these debates become generic framework/extinction outweighs debates rather than something specific to the topic.
T-A5 is the worst argument on this topic. I just WON'T vote on IT.
Most DA's seem pretty weak right now, but I can be convinced otherwise with good evidence spin
Is there a good Biotech AFF? One team has so far shown me a good biotech on this topic.
Consider the Following:
1) Implicate Arguments: A lot of you are able to explain what the claim of an argument, good. Some of you are able to tell me what the warrants to the claim are, great. Barely any of you implicate why your arguments matters in the debate, oh. Yes, an argument has a claim and a warrant, but you also need an implication as to why this argument matters to the flow. Let's use the following as an example for what I mean. 95% of you would say the following: "the economy is collapsing now which leads to war, so vote neg". Okay Good that's just a claim. 4% of you would say the following: "the economy is collapsing now, wages and jobs declining, inflation rising, all means the likehood of war is high because of diversionary war, so vote neg". Okay now we got some warrants. The very 1% of you say this "the economy is declining now, the AFF's evidence does not answer our warrants about wages and jobs declining and inflation on the rise which means we win the UQ debate of the DA--this increases the likehood of war due to diversionary war tactics which none of their impact defense address which you should prevent the 2AR from making new answers--vote neg". Okay now see why this argument is just substantially better then the argument extension at the start. IF you do not tell me why I should care about this argument, or what I should even do with this argument at the end of the debate, you are making it a lot harder for me to judge the round for you.
2) Theory Debates: Please just stop reading pre-written blocks in these debates. I know you think you are "answering" the argument, but you are really not. Do Line-by-Line as you would normally do on any other flow. Just say "they say neg flex, their interpretation cannot solve neg flex because x which proves our interpretation is better". That is just so much better to listen to because it actually shows you are actively listening and thinking about your opponent's arguments in the round.
3) Warrant Comparison: The best speakers in debate not only do evidence comparison, but they also do warrant comparison. It's good that some of you really do care about evidence quality such as "this card is too old" or "their evidence is from paid off hack". Obviously implicate why that matters as directed in the subpoint above. To go a step further, you should compare your warrants to your opponents. "Their argument about jobs falling is wrong, our evidence from yesterday cites numerous charts and graphs from the government that jobs are rising, their data is from one small town in Rhode Island, prefer our evidence". This sound of argumentation just sounds so much better then just "they are wrong, jobs are rising because our card is newer". Compare and Implicate Warrants, you will get boosted speaks for doing it.
4) Framework Debates: These debates are often quite frustrating to resolve at the end of the day. To win Framework on either the AFF or NEG, you need to do impact calculus! This gets really left out in these debates and ends up being two ships passing each other. Use the language of the other team to really help me guide the debate. The other thing that annoys me that teams do not do is explaining their interpretation of debate. Both sides just breeze through this when this actually matters to me a lot as to why you resolve your own offense and why they link to your own offense. Debating and refuting each other's interpretations matters a lot and gets you a lot farther in the debate.
5) Counterplan Texts: Counterplan texts need to not be vague or incredibly short to the point where it does not make any sense as to what the counterplan is doing. Example "The USFG should develop a data strategy that promotes innovation". Okay, so what does this actually do? What is a data strategy? How does that promote innovation? If you cannot answer those questions, then you have shot yourself in the foot by reading a bad counterplan text. The counterplan text should describe what the counterplan is doing. Bad counterplan texts make you and your partner bad in cross-x.
6) Hiding ASPEC and other Tricks: It seems to always happen at Blake, but there was a proliferation of teams reading ASPEC/other small voting issues and then HIDING it. Cowards! Any team that does this, the AFF team just needs to say CX Checks and then move on, no need to justify the "new" argument. I will ONLY vote on these arguments IF they are on a SEPARATE FLOW and DEVELOPED PROPERLY in the 1NC.
7) Impact Calc???: Where did it go? A lot of people are forgetting to do impact calc? I'm not sure why since we do those fun impact calc tournaments! Please do impact calc to help with impact framing!
High Schoolers - Some College Debaters you should look up to: Kelly Skoulikaris, Michael Scott, Andrew Pak, Henry Mitchell, Maya El-Sharif, Bella Piekut, Josh Harrington, David McDermott, and Nate Glancy
High School Coaches I agree with - Jeremy Hammond, DB, Gabe Koo, Eric Forslund, Allie Chase, Tim Lewis, Peter Susko, Scott Wheeler, and Yao Yao Chen
Schools I have Judged the Most: Lexington, GBN, Calvert Hall, New Trier, Berkeley Prep, Bronx Science, Peninsula, and GDS
Top 5 Favorite Topics I debated/coached (top was favorite) : Domestic Surveillance (2016), Executive Authority (2019), Transportation Infrastructure (2013), Alliances (2021), Oceans (2015)
Top 5 Least Favorite Topics I debated/coached (top was worst): Education (2018), National Health Insurance (2018), Space (2020), Latin America (2014), NATO (2022)
(Old Thoughts from Previous Topics)
CJR Topic Thoughts:
The lack of to no 1AR cards being read is happening too often.
Topicality is becoming very meh to me. I have yet to hear a persuasive interpretation that does not make impossible to be aff without complaining about how being neg is too hard. Like yes being neg on this topic is probably hard, but just saying that is not persuasive to me to vote neg.
So what is the DA now since Elections is done?
Been more sympathetic to process CPs on this topic. Still needs to meet the requirements outlined below.
Why are people talking about Space Elevators on this topic?
The abolition critique is cool.
It feels really ironic that teams who have "framing contentions" do not do any framing at all. Both aff and neg are at fault for just reading cards and not "framing" anything. Please make some role of the ballot/judge or something to frame the debate if there is one.
Alliances Topic Thoughts:
Assurance and Deterrence DAs are the best on this topic. Please put these DAs on case when relevant, just makes things flow easier
Topicality debates seem interesting on this topic
Michigan Debater 2015-2020
2016-17 2N (50:50)
2017-18 2N (20:80)
2018-19 2N (10:90)
2019-20 2A (.1:99.9)
I started debate as a novice in college so I have much love for the newbies. Empowering novices to form their own opinions on debate is VERY important in creating actual innovation and sustainable participation Into the future. Over the years I shifted away from reading “traditional policy” arguments but still have a very good grasp on most things policy (not a fan of theory unless the arguments go deeper than “you made it harder for us” like what are actual theories of argumentation that would say that kind of debating is bad for x,y,z reason is wayyyy more interesting imo).
Email me with questions (firstname.lastname@example.org) or ask me before the round. I think debate should be more collaborative so reach out at any point in the season and I’ll get back to you with comments as soon as I can!
Do it and I'll judge it, it's your world.
Ill prob be in a lot of “clash” debates so I’ll start my thoughts there:
K v Policy-
Theory Check- I’m familiar with a lot of different theories and I love to read so put me hip to more! I locked in on Moten/fugitivity as the core theory for most of my arguments later in my career. Other than that I spent most of my time between black anthro, Afro-futurism, Black Marxism (Which all often times overlapped)
K Aff- Of course I wanna hear it idc too much about the form or content specifically just that you know what you’re talking about and why it matters. I need a reason why the aff as a project is something different from the squo or what gives UQ for me to vote for you? (I.e. if resistance is already happening in the squo what does voting aff do to continue/further/strengthen/etc what’s happening or why is it a necessary departure from the way we resist now?). Point out the nuances in your theory/argument that answer the generic pushes made against your aff and make sure if you do it, it matters. Why is the music important? Why did you read that poem? And why is the fact that they were ignored by the other team matter? Craft me a clear picture of your impacts, how you solve/what metric should I use to think about solvency, and why the negs model can’t access it and you’ll be in a good spot for the ballot in speaker points.
F/W: Make sure you go for impacts and not I/Ls. I.e. Limits isn’t an impact imo insofar as limits matters because a meaningful role for the neg in debate is important to produce the most educational debates(Education is the impact). Clash is important because it helps with argument refinement which makes us better advocates. Clash is not the impact it’s how we get to be better at something. Procedural fairness makes sense to me if you go for a specific reason why the aff is not T. Using 1ACev and aff spin to explain the violation and why T comes first (what is the impact to procedural fairness) will be you in a good spot in front of me. I’m middle of the road on how much TVA needs to solve the aff- but the TVA should be a viable topical aff or it’s almost a nonstarter for me. I think going for a more of a T style argument makes a TVA less necessary because you’re making the argument that the advocacy isn’t topical not that a plan is needed. In these scenarios thinking through and Extra T or Effects T argument could be good here and if done well is a very devastating module to your generic f/w shell.
Policy Affs: Be as specific as possible. Your aff doesn’t need to solve the K, you need the solve the 1AC impacts. I think most times aff teams beat themselves in these debates because they try to make the 1AC something it’s not which helps give credence to a lot of the link args k teams usually go for. The Alt can’t solve the 1AC more than likely so invest your time on doing clear impact calc and I/L comparison instead of shouting black people die in a nuclear war a billion times. The alt is usually the weakest part of the K so if they can’t solve they’re impacts and you can then that’s an easy aff ballot. Link D is important but I think if you’re explaining why you’re scenario is credible and how the plan can actually do something about it then that’ll beat back most of the generic links k teams go for. You have to have to have to deal with their theory of power. It can be with the perm, defense, turns- it doesn’t matter, you just need ink there. The neg team will try to use that to make overarching claims that control the debate so listen and ask questions about their theory of power and tailor your responses accordingly. In front of me you’d be better off looking for what the nuances of their K are instead of reading your 3 year old 2AC blocks- smart analytics can save the day vs the k.
K vs Policy Aff- Win your theory of power cleanly and apply it on the LBL and you’re in a great spot. I’m good for kicking the Alt but you gotta either say You’re not going for it or you don’t need it to win the debate or some other signifier or I’ll weigh Alt solvency vs Plan solvency. Creative aff specific links are the best and yield good points. Less overview more LBL. Clear impacts and comparison is important to help frame my decision. Use the f/w debate to control the ballot on how arguments are evaluated. I think it’s imperative to have case defense or you leave too many doors open.
Policy v Policy- Impact calc is soooo important. Ev comparison is soooo underutilized. Clash please- when there’s not clash it’s because I don’t think you know your argument well enough to talk about your argument and also how it interacts with other arguments. I’ll read cards after the rd if I must but I’m only reading to see if you lied about what your ev says/if it’s power tagged or If it’s close so the tie breaker is ev quality.
1 Long card>>> 3 short decent cards
More analytics>>More cards
9 off with 2 viable options<<<<<4 off with 4 viable options
1 CP with planks=Multiple CPs
PTX DA (The elections is the exception ????)<<<<<<<
Good case debating will take you far on both sides.
Impact turn debates are lovely
Good T debates are masterful
K v K- My favorite debates. Most of my fondest memories of debate have come out of these rounds and have challenged me to really dig deeper into my scholarship. I’m excited to share in this experience from the other side now.
Im middle of the road on yes/no perms in these debates- I think there’s arguments to be made on both sides. I’m not convinced that simply because it’s a k v k debate means you don’t get a perm. The more of a distinction you can make between your theory of power and theirs the better spot you’ll be in at the end of the debate. Tell me why they can’t access the nuances of your theory and why that makes your project preferable. Solvency is important- how does what you do resolve your harms. On the neg presumption is a good push to make in conjunction with the K if the aff doesn’t explain a process by which the can reduce their harms. I don’t think any link in these types of debates can be omission. You have committed yourself to a theory of power that explains whatever function of the world, so if that theory fails to take something into account just saying “we didn’t have time to talk about it” really won’t fly here.
*NOTE*-I think that norms of debate allow people to get away with certain things because “we” (I use that term VERY loosely)have decided they are legit things to do. I.e. I think the Gordon card is one of the most egregiously overused card and I believe there to be a huge dissonance between the actual argument Lewis Gordon makes and how the community has normalized. Its use almost feels like a form of erasure because if you’re reading Gordon it would seem that the argument being made should at least include the phrase “black existentialism” since that’s where his theory arises from. Instead it gets minimized as an AT:Blackness and we keep it pushing. I don’t fuck with that. Never have. I won’t intervene in a debate unless I have to BUT I will not accept certain things because it’s a “norm”- that shit gotta stop and judges/coaches have to help push that change. Your DA is crap, instead of winning with crap why would we not push *actual* argument refinement instead of the same scenarios decade after decade? Okay I’m off my soapbox- let’s just push to be greater, okay? Cool.
There can be 0% risk of a link if you don't generate a sufficient amount of UQ for it. So I tend to believe UQ controls the direction of the link not the other way around.
Don't let your competitive intensity cross the line to being problematic.
CX is important. Get what you need and use it. Make sure I see the vision of the questions at some point in the debate.
I really do love to hear arguments that expand my view and understanding of debate and the world so I'm perfect to try your funky args out on and I'll try my best to give you quality feedback!
Have fun and try not to be libidinal
END OF NEW PARADIGM- You can keep reading if you wanna see my less organized thoughts on various arguments
Started debate as a novice in college reading only policy args and now read almost exclusively K args- I like to hear creative and innovative takes on both sides.
Theory: Can be very dope if both sides are making in-depth analysis. Can be boring if it's just shallow blips about infinite prep time.
2 Condo is cool
Perf Con can be a voter but is probably better utilized to bolster other arguments You're making
50 state fiat is a toss up, lean slightly neg
Neg gets international fiat if the aff uses International fiat for some reason otherwise probably a no go for me
I default to squo is always an option so I'll judge kick CPs and Alts if I think you link to whatever DA you're going for if that means doing nothing is still better than doing the aff. However, if you don't say that in the 2NR I am willing to stick you with it if the 2AR makes some convincing args as to why I should.
Idc about what happened before the round unless I witnessed it. I'm a judge, not a referee. Its a debate, not just random arguing
T: What's "reasonable" is a matter of winning why your aff/interp is or should be a predictable way of reading the topic. So I guess to me T is implicitly an argument that ask me to choose whose interp is most reasonable to debate over. I think aff teams spending time explaining why they should win even if you don't win your interp is necessary but not always sufficient defense. Procedural fairness can be an impact but my default frame is potential abuse isn't a voter so keep that in mind when impacting out why the violation matters. 2NR/2AR impact calc is a big part of my decision but just as important is the I/L level. Don't just tell me topic education matters/is good tell me why your interp leads to the best form of topic education and why their interp distorts that.
Cp: Consult CPs and Process CPs are meh. Good Adv and UQ CPs are dope. Pics can be good pending debate. Pics with no solvency advocate are probably sus though. Generally err on the side of having an advocate for your CPs. Don't have strong feelings either way about kicking planks.
DA: I'm not just gonna spot you a link and just saying "no link because it's not about our specific plan" or whatever isn't good enough without telling me why that difference matters. Affs should make presses on the I/L level because a lot of DAs fall apart there. DA turns case work is important. Impact framing in the last two rebuttals is useful in helping me distinguish what scenario I should prioritize solving.
Case: Important in almost every debate on both sides imo. Use your 1AC as a weapon on every flow. Use offense and defense on other flows to push back against the aff. I'm down to vote on presumption if the aff doesn't meet the burden of altering the squo. Impact turns are dope. CO2 good is meh. War good? Could be I guess.
Policy V K: Down with all Ks, but if you don't know the theory it's not gonna go well for you. Plan in a vacuum is meh but you should answer it. Link debating is super important. If the links are to the squo, how does that still implicate the aff? ROJ/ROB args are just impact framing arguments so explain what that means in terms of how I should view the debate during my decision. Wether Alt solvency matters or not is up for debate but I do believe its a good place to sit for either side. I think aff teams that defend their reps as good contingent views of whatever their scenario is tend to do better versus the K instead of trying to morph the 1AC to solve for stuff that's outside its scope. Perm should tell me what it would look like to do that particular combination of the aff and the K. Why do the links not apply to the perm? Otherwise I tend to be persuaded that if the Alt is to reject the aff then the perm that includes the aff still links. The 2AR doesn't always have to go for the perm to win, sometimes it hurts the ethos of some of your other offense. When you extend the K in the block you should us the LBL as your friend. It makes it easier to see when a 1AR argument is new and it tends to makes the aff team have to collapse more. Both sides should react to how the other team articulates the nuisances of their particular arguments instead of just responding to the version of the arg you know.
K v FW: I think about these debates as the love child of t and theory in many aspects. I think teams are most successful when they can explain why whatever they think debate should be for can both sustain robust debates and produce some kind of benefit for the topic or as a frame more generally. Therefore, I'm more interested in competitive equity type arguments as opposed to fairness as an intrinsic good type arguments. I feel that using competitive equity instead fairness allows you to circumvent a lot of the affs "but what is fairness *mix drop*" type args. Equity suggests a correction for structural unfairness. So spend time unpacking why your model is the most can include the aff in a manner that allows both sides to participate in a equitable way. Limits, ground and clash seem to best be served as I/L to impacts. I.e. limits seems to be important to preround and pre tournament prep. Why is preserving that something that's important to sustaining robust debates? Tvas are best when they're actually topical and use the language of the aff. I think state good/bad type args can be important here. I'm not convinced by "they follow speech time rules" type arguments because most teams aren't arguing that they should be able to break the rules. Rather, it's usually an argument that fw is a norm imposed as a rule and that's bad for whatever reason. I would try to leave time to extend your best argument or two on case in the 2NR- pushes back against 2AR grandstanding and is a pretty good ethos moment to show you were trying to engage with the aff. I will lean neg on fw comes first but I think if that's not a well impacted out argument in the 2NR and you don't go to case you may be leaving more doors open than you want to. RT: Using the 1AC as a weapon. Aff teams that can explain why they have a c/I that can solve both sides offense tend to be in a better spot but I'm open to hear why that might not matter. I usually think you should have a clear link to the topic in some way otherwise I'm more inclined to believe you're just trying to rig the game in your favor. Defense only in the 2AR on fw can be a winner to me if you win a reason I should evaluate the affs impacts first so winning aff impacts and solvency are at least as important as your turns on fw. Solvency in these debates can look like a bunch of different things but it is important to tease out how you do those things and for the neg why they don't do those things/debate isn't key. Presumption/ballot pushes alone can be a winning 2NR but you gotta be putting some good analysis here. Using their evidence to explain why they don't solve is a smart move. You don't have to necessarily recut it but you should explain why they aren't what their authors are describing because a lot of k affs aren't. I believe presumption can flow aff easier in these debates than other rounds but I default to the squo being a neg ballot unless instructed otherwise. So if you do wanna go for presumption you may wanna tell me what that actually means. Is the squo>aff b/c of a L/T? Is it b/c the aff doesn't meet the burden of changing the squo? Is it because my ballot can't solve or isn't needed to solve the aff? Idk. Tell me please. My ballot is only ever a referendum on who I think won the round. How I should evaluate the arguments that make me pick a winner or loser are most useful in helping me back my decision.
K v K: These debates can be sweet af or just random posturing on both sides. No perm in method debates only makes sense if you're actually winning a link. Why is it fair to say I should hold K affs to a different standard for perms than I would a policy aff? However, if you do win a link and an alt/reason you don't need one then no perms makes way more sense because then the aff is probably doing some shifty stuff that troubles other portions of the debate as well. External impact to the K is less important in these debates to me because winning a link usually means you control the I/L to the affs impacts but having one is a good tiebreaker. I/L debating is very important to helping frame what theory is preferable in my decision making.
Debated for Liberty University.
Current: University of Florida
Yes email chain: email@example.com
TLDR: Do not feel the need to adapt to my preferences I will do my best to judge fairly. Be persuasive and tell me why arguments are important. Dropped arguments are true arguments, but you need to still explain them and why they matter.
Slow down on analytics people can only write/type so fast, so slow down if you want me to flow it all. Same applies for theory arguments.
I do not have a concrete method for assigning speaker points. That being said things that help are: clarity, volume (not a big fan of barely being able to hear someone), cross ex (good questions/good answers), and strategic decisions.
K: Have a specific link to plan action/reps/epistemology makes it a lot easier to win instead of generic state links- those are cool and all, but at least contextualize it. Many times bad link debating is done so that the link explanation could have been read against any affirmative on any topic. Those are bad ways of explaining a link and it should be articulated in context of the round that is being had. That can take a variety of forms such as reading through the other team's evidence and pulling quotes that prove your link argument or the logic of the link. It could also take the form of using the answers that other teams provide in cross ex. Each link should have it's own unique impact and it would behoove you to explain how the link turns the case.
Framing for these debates is essential and direction is key for what to prioritize. It's nice to win the alternative, but I don't think it's necessary. IF you are not going for the alternative make it clear otherwise I will evaluate the perm and whether the alt can overcome the instances of the links.
CP: A good CP and DA combo is a solid option for the 2NR. I also enjoy well thought out PIC's. CP's don't necessarily need evidence, but it is preferred (solvency advocate theory is probably a good arg against this).
Maybe it's just me, but after a team spreads through the planks and card for a CP I am still somewhat unsure what it does. Explanation is important in terms of explaining how it solves and why it is different from the affirmative.
DA: Explain it well and it's interaction with the case. You need to do the analysis of why it outweighs the case or turns it. Do comparative evidence analysis and provide reasons why their evidence is not as warranted or does not really answer the DA and tell me why your evidence is better. That does not mean "our ev post dates by 3 days so it's better", but rather "our evidence analyzes long term trends through X method that provides a predictive claim, and their's is an opinion article".
T: Not really a big T expert, so explanation is key.
Generally I believe that over limiting is better than under limiting due to in depth research providing better education. Provide a coherent view of what the topic would look like without the limit that you set on it versus what the affirmative justifies when you are impacting out the T debate. That could include a case list that they justify that explodes research burdens or specific ground loss. You do not have to win in round abuse. Just impact it out well and you should be good.
Analyze the other teams evidence and make smart args against it. I think that is specifically true in the context of things like T subs (some ev makes claims of what substantial is not, but does not set a standard for what is substantial).
Framework: Strategic and I vote on it. However, I think that there are a few different ways to do it that are less offensive / more strategic. Top level winning that debate is a game probably means that fairness is an impact, but that work needs to be done. If education is the impact you are going for there must be good reasons why policy education is desirable or better than critical education. I think it is less strategic to make arguments like "our education spills over and we can one day do _____ to change the system"... that relies on a notion of spill over from policy education. If that is true, why then does that spillover not apply to the affirmative and their method/epistemology?
Theory: Dropped theory arguments are pretty easy to vote on, so don't drop them. Provide a reason why the abuse outweighs any other possible impact and make it a big deal. Just don't blaze through it and expect to win even if it was dropped.
-Policy AFF's: Tell a coherent story and do good impact calculus. Often times teams forget to do that and it's a super important part of the last rebuttals. If you are reading a hard right AFF I find it is better to just stick with it and go for util/death outweighs. I really do think it's more strategic against the criticism to go hard right.
-K AFF's: I think there is a great value to critical affirmatives. Just be prepared for the framework debate and explain why your model of debate is better or have disads to their model. I find it very helpful when critical affirmative provide examples and have in depth historical knowledge about their theory. In addition, providing examples of things the aff could do or would do helps to materialize some of the theory that can make it easier to grasp especially if it is not a literature base I am familiar with.
I typically find that most teams are not ready to defend the entirety of their aff, so if you are negative against a K aff I think that a well developed PIK argument and some case arguments are rather strategic.
There is no single way to my ballot and there are often a variety of strategies that can work in the debate. Be smart and strategic... I often find that the debates I enjoy the most are guided by bold choices from the debaters.
Be nice to other debaters. That doesn't mean you can't be witty or funny just be respectful of others. I think debate is a great activity to make new friends and to enjoy yourself. There is no need to take yourself and other people too seriously, creating a fun environment to debate in makes debates 100% more enjoyable. Jokes are also appreciated. On second thought... maybe don't.
Assistant Debate Coach Glenbrook North 2014-
Assistant Debate Coach Berkeley Preparatory School 2010-2014
Assistant Debate Coach University of Miami 2007-2009
Assistant Debate Coach Gulliver Preparatory School 2005-2010
I feel strongly about both my role as an impartial adjudicator and as an educator – situations where these roles come into conflict are often where I find that I have intervened. I try to restrain myself from intervening in a debate, but I make mistakes, and sometimes find myself presented with two options which seem comparably interventionary in different ways, often due to underarticulated argumentation. This effort represents a systematic effort to identify the conditions under which I am more or less likely to intervene unconsciously. I try to keep a beginner’s mind and approach every debate round as a new learning opportunity, and I do usually learn at least one new thing every round – this is what I like most about the activity, and I’m at my best when I remember this and at my worst when I forget it.
My default paradigm is that of a policy analyst – arguments which assume a different role (vote no, performance) probably require more effort to communicate this role clearly enough for me to understand and feel comfortable voting for you. I don’t really have a very consistent record voting for or against any particular positions, although identity- and psychology-based arguments are probably the genres I have the least experience with and I’m not a good judge for either.
Rather, I think you’re most interested in the situations in which I’m likely to intervene – and what you can do to prevent it – this has much less to do with what arguments you’re making than it does with how you’re making them:
Make fewer arguments, and explain their nature and implication more thoroughly:
My unconscious mind carries out the overwhelming majority of the grunt work of my decisions – as I listen to a debate, a mental map forms of the debate round as a cohesive whole, and once I lose that map, I don’t usually get it back. This has two primary implications for you: 1) it’s in your interest for me to understand the nuances of an argument when first presented, so that I can see why arguments would be more or less responsive as or before they are made in response 2) debates with a lot of moving parts and conditional outcomes overload my ability to hold the round in my mind at once, and I lose confidence in my ability to effectively adjudicate, having to move argument by argument through each flow after the debate – this increases the chances that I miss an important connection or get stuck on a particular argument by second-guessing my intuition, increasing the chances that I intervene.
I frequently make decisions very quickly, which signals that you have done an effective job communicating and that I feel I understand all relevant arguments in the debate. I don’t believe in reconstructing debates from evidence, and I try to listen to and evaluate evidence as it's being read, so if I am taking a long time to make a decision, it’s probably because I doubt my ability to command the relevant arguments and feel compelled to second-guess my understanding of arguments or their interactions, a signal that you have not done an effective job communicating, or that you have inadvertently constructed an irresolveable decision calculus through failure to commit to a single path to victory.
In short, I make much better decisions when you reduce the size of the debate at every opportunity, when you take strategic approaches to the debate which are characterized by internally consistent logic and assumptions, and when you take time to explain the reasoning behind the strategic decisions you are making, and the meta-context for your arguments. If your approach to debate strategy depends upon overloading the opponent’s technical capabilities, then you will also likely overload my own, and if your arguments aren't broadly compatible with one another, then I may have difficulty processing them when constructing the big picture. I tend to disproportionately reward gutsy all-in strategic decisions. As a side note, I probably won’t kick a counterplan for you if the other team says just about anything in response, you need to make a decision.
Value proof higher than rejoinder:
I am a sucker for a clearly articulated, nuanced story, supported by thorough discussion of why I should believe it, especially when supported by high-quality evidence, even in the face of a diversity of poorly articulated or weak arguments which are only implicitly answered. Some people will refer to this as truth over tech – but it’s more precisely proof over rejoinder – the distinction being that I don’t as often reward people who say things that I believe, but rather reward fully developed arguments over shallowly developed or incomplete arguments. There have been exceptions – a dropped argument is definitely a true argument – but a claim without data and a warrant is not an argument. Similarly, explicit clash and signposting are merely things which help me prevent myself from intervening, not hard requirements. Arguments which clash still clash whether a debater explains it or not, although I would strongly prefer that you take the time to explain it, as I may not understand that they clash or why they clash in the same way that you do.
My tendency to intervene in this context is magnified when encountering unfamiliar arguments, and also when encountering familiar arguments which are misrepresented, intentionally or unintentionally. As an example, I am far more familiar with positivist studies of international relations than I am with post-positivist theorizing, so debaters who can command the distinctions between various schools of IR thought have an inherent advantage, and I am comparably unlikely to understand the nuances of the distinctions between one ethical philosopher and another. I am interested in learning these distinctions, however, and this only means you should err on the side of explaining too much rather than not enough.
A corollary is that I do believe that various arguments can by their nature provide zero risk of a link (yes/no questions, empirically denied), as well as effectively reduce a unique risk to zero by making the risk equivalent to chance or within the margin of error provided by the warrant. I am a sucker for conjunctive/disjunctive probability analysis, although I think assigning numerical probabilities is almost never warranted.
Incomprehensible value systems:
One special note is that I have a moderate presumption against violence, whether physical or verbal or imaginary – luckily for me, this has yet to seriously present itself in a debate I have judged. But I don’t think I have ever ended up voting for a pro-death advocacy, whether because there are more aliens than humans in the universe, or because a thought experiment about extinction could change the way I feel about life, or because it’s the only path to liberation from oppression. While I’d like to think I can evaluate these arguments objectively, I’m not entirely sure that I really can, and if advocating violence is part of your argument, I am probably a bad judge for you, even though I do believe that if you can’t articulate the good reasons that violence and death are bad, then you haven’t adequately prepared and should probably lose.
I like the growing practice of emailing flows and debriefing at the end of a day or after a tournament – feel free to email me: kmmccaffrey at gmail dot com. It sometimes takes me a while to fully process what has happened in a debate round and to understand why I voted the way I did, and particularly in rounds with two very technical, skilled opponents, even when I do have a good grasp of what happened and feel confident in my decision, I do not always do a very good job of communicating my reasoning, not having time to write everything out, and I do a much better job of explaining my thinking after letting my decision sit for a few hours. As such, I am very happy to discuss any decision with anyone in person or by email – I genuinely enjoy being challenged – but I am much more capable and comfortable with written communication than verbal.
Debate Coach - University of Michigan, Niles West High School
Institute Instructor - Michigan Debate Institutes
Michigan State University '13
Brookfield Central High School '09
I would like to be on the email chain - my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
A few top level things:
- If you engage in offensive acts (think racism, sexism, homophobia, etc.), you will lose automatically and will be awarded whatever the minimum speaker points offered at that particular tournament is. This also includes forwarding the argument that death is good because suffering exists. I will not vote on it.
- If you make it so that the tags in your document maps are not navigable by taking the "tag" format off of them, I will actively dock your speaker points.
- Quality of argument means a lot to me. I am willing to hold my nose and vote for bad arguments if they're better debated but my threshold for answering those bad arguments is pretty low.
- I'm a very expressive judge. Look up at me every once in a while, you will probably be able to tell how I feel about your arguments.
- I don't think that arguments about things that have happened outside of a debate or in previous debates are at all relevant to my decision and I will not evaluate them. I can only be sure of what has happened in this particular debate and anything else is non-falsifiable.
- The 1AC not being sent out by the time the debate is supposed to start
- Asking if I am ready or saying you'll start if there are no objections, etc. in in-person debates - we're all in the same room, you can tell if we're ready!
- Email-sending related failures
- Dead time
- Stealing prep
- Answering arguments in an order other than the one presented by the other team
- Asserting things are dropped when they aren't
- Asking the other team to send you a marked doc when they marked 1-3 cards
- Asking me if I need a card doc - I will ask you if I want you to start putting a card doc together.
- Disappearing after the round
Online debate: My camera will always be on during the debate unless I have stepped away from my computer during prep or while deciding so you should always assume that if my camera is off, I am not there. I added this note because I've had people start speeches without me there.
Ethics: If you make an ethics challenge in a debate in front of me, you must stake the debate on it. If you make that challenge and are incorrect or cannot prove your claim, you will lose and be granted zero speaker points. If you are proven to have committed an ethics violation, you will lose and be granted zero speaker points.
*NOTE - if you use sexually explicit language or engage in sexually explicit performances in high school debates, you should strike me. If you think that what you're saying in the debate would not be acceptable to an administrator at a school to hear was said by a high school student to an adult, you should strike me.
Organization: I would strongly prefer that if you're reading a DA that isn't just a case turn that it go on its own page - its super annoying because people end up extending/answering arguments on flows in different orders. Ditto to reading advantage CPs on case - put it on its own sheet, please!
Cross-x: Questions like "what cards did you read?" are cross-x questions. If you don't start the timer before you start asking those questions, I will take whatever time I estimate you took to ask questions before the timer was started out of your prep. If the 1NC responds that "every DA is a NB to every CP" when asked about net benefits in the 1NC even if it makes no sense, I think the 1AR gets a lot of leeway to explain a 2AC "links to the net benefit argument" on any CP as it relates to the DAs.
Translated evidence: I am extremely skeptical of evidence translated by a debater or coach with a vested interest in that evidence being used in a debate. Lots of words or phrases have multiple meanings or potential translations and debaters/coaches have an incentive to choose the ones that make the most debate-friendly argument even if that's a stretch of what is in the original text. It is also completely impossible to verify if words or text was left out, if it is a strawperson, if it is cut out of context, etc. I won't immediately reject it on my own but I would say that I am very amenable to arguments that I should.
Inserting evidence or rehighlightings into the debate: I won't evaluate it unless you actually read the parts that you are inserting into the debate. If it's like a chart or a map or something like that, that's fine, I don't expect you to literally read that, but if you're rehighlighting some of the other team's evidence, you need to actually read the rehighlighting. This can also be accomplished by reading those lines in cross-x and then referencing them in a speech or just making analytics about their card(s) in your speech and then providing a rehighlighting to explain it.
Affirmatives should have a solvency advocate. What that looks like is up for debate. I think debates that stray too far from what a reasonable person would constitute an advocacy for a policy change distort the literature base in ways that make it impossible for the negative to respond to the aff. This is compounded by excruciatingly vague plan texts that enable the aff to "no link" out of what are obvious disads to the affirmative. If your style of debate is built around manipulating and bastardizing literature to create affs that say and defend nothing, I'm probably not the judge for you. I think this vision of debate disincentivizes in-depth negative research. If you refuse to specify what your aff does, I am probably not the judge for you. If you think that saying "a thing is bad" constitutes an aff without saying what your aff does about it, I am a bad judge for you.
Topicality: I enjoy judging topicality debates when they are in-depth and nuanced. Limits are an an important question but not the only important question - your limit should be tied to a particular piece of neg ground or a particular type of aff that would be excluded. I often find myself to be more aff leaning than neg leaning in T debates because I am often persuaded by the argument that negative interpretations are arbitrary or not based in predictable literature.
5 second ASPEC shells/the like that are not a complete argument are mostly nonstarters for me. If I reasonably think the other team could have missed the argument because I didn't think it was a clear argument, I think they probably get new answers. If you drop it twice, that's on you.
Counterplans: For me counterplans are more about competition than theory. While I tend to lean more neg on questions of CP theory, I lean aff on a lot of questions of competition, especially in the cases of CPs that compete on the certainty of the plan, normal means cps, and agent cps.
Over time I have gone from being somewhere in the middle on the question of "does the neg need a solvency advocate for the cp?" and I have found myself very strongly on the side of "yes." A lot of the debates I've judged over the past few years have had the scope of what the neg should get to assert with no evidentiary support go from semi-reasonable to impossible distortions of the literature and REALITY in ways that the aff could never reasonably answer. I DO think what constitutes a solvency advocate for the neg is affected by whether or not the aff has a solvency advocate. For affirmatives that do not have one, my threshold for what I expect the neg to have is much much lower.
I think that CPs should have to be policy actions. I think this is most fair and reciprocal with what the affirmative does. I think that fiating indefinite personal decisions or actions/non-actions by policymakers that are not enshrined in policy is an unfair abuse of fiat that I do not think the negative should get access to. For example: the CP to have Trump decide not to withdraw from NAFTA is not legitimate, while the CP to have Trump announce that a policy that he will not withdraw from NAFTA would be. The CP that has the US declare it will not go to war with China would be theoretically legitimate but the CP to have Trump personally decide not to go to war with China would not be.
Disads: I am not very sympathetic to politics theory arguments (except in the case of things like rider disads, which I might ban from debate if I got the choice to ban one argument and think are certainly illegitimate misinterpretations of fiat) and am unlikely to ever vote on them unless they're dropped and even then would be hard pressed. I'm incredibly knowledgeable about politics and enjoy it a lot when debated well but really dislike seeing it debated poorly.
Conditionality: Conditionality is often good. It can be not. I have found myself to be increasingly aff leaning on extreme conditionality (think many plank cps where all of the planks are conditional + 4-5 more conditional options). Conditionality is the ONLY argument I think is a reason to reject the team, every other argument I think is a reason to reject the argument alone. Tell me what my role is on the theory debate - am I determining in-round abuse or am I setting a precedent for the community?
Kritiks: I consider myself a policymaker unless you tell me otherwise, the implication of that being that if you want me to consider my ballot as something other than advocating a hypothetical policy that would be enacted, you need to explain to me what it is and why that is better than the framework the affirmative is providing.
I've gotten simultaneously more versed in critical literature and much worse for the kritik as a judge over the last few years. I think that often times teams who read exclusively critical arguments get away with asserting things as true with no evidence or explanation and judges treat it as a complete argument or incontrovertible truth. I'm not one of those judges.
Your K should ideally be a reason why the aff is bad, not just why the status quo is bad.
Yes the aff gets a perm, no it doesn't need a net benefit.
Affs without a plan: I generally go into debates believing that the aff should defend a hypothetical policy enacted by the United States federal government. I think debate is a research game and I struggle with the idea that the ballot can do anything to remedy the impacts that many of these affs describe.
I certainly don't consider myself immovable on that question and my decision will be governed by what happens in any given debate; that being said, I don't like when judges pretend to be fully open to any argument in order to hide their true thoughts and feelings about them and so I would prefer to be honest that these are my predispositions about debate, which, while not determinate of how I judge debates, certainly informs and affects it.
I would describe myself as a good judge for T-USFG against affs that do not read a plan. I find impacts about debatability, clash, iterative testing and fairness to be very persuasive. I think fairness is an impact in and of itself. I am not very persuaded by impacts about skills/the ability for debate to change the world if we read plans - I think these are not very strategic and easily impact turned by the aff.
I generally am pretty sympathetic to negative presumption arguments because I often think the aff has not forwarded an explanation for what the aff does to resolve the impacts they've described.
I don't think debate is roleplaying.
I am uncomfortable making decisions in debates where people have posited that their survival hinges on my ballot.
Feb 2023 Update: I will be adjusting my points based on the assumption that >29.1 is required to clear.
Email: email@example.com (I ALWAYS want to be on the email chain. please do email chains instead of sharing in the zoom chat/NSDA classroom)
Past Affiliations: Niles West High School, Wayne State University, Seaholm High School, Birmingham Covington School, the School of Hard Knocks, the School of Rock, a school of fish
The short version -
Tech > truth. A dropped argument is assumed to be contingently true. "Tech" is obviously not completely divorced from "truth" but you have to actually make the true argument for it to matter. In general, if your argument has a claim, warrant, and implication then I am willing to vote for it, but there are some arguments that are pretty obviously morally repugnant and I am not going to entertain them. They might have a claim, warrant, and implication, but they have zero (maybe negative?) persuasive value and nothing is going to change that. I'm not going to create an exhaustive list, but any form of "oppression good" and many forms of "death good" fall into this category.
Non-traditional – I believe debate is a game. It might be MORE than a game to some folks, but it is still a game. Claims to the contrary are unlikely to gain traction with me. Approaches to answering T/FW that rely on implicit or explicit "killing debate good" arguments are nonstarters.
1) I'm not a very good judge for arguments, aff or neg, that involve saying that an argument is your "survival strategy". I don't want the pressure of being the referee for deciding how you should live your life.
2) The aff saying "USFG should" doesn't equate to roleplaying as the USFG
3) I am really not interested in playing (or watching you play) cards, a board game, etc. as an alternative to competitive speaking. Just being honest.
4) Name-calling based on perceived incongruence between someone's identity and their argument choice is unlikely to be a recipe for success.
Kritiks – If a K does not engage with the substance of the aff it is not a reason to vote negative. A lot of times these debates end and I am left thinking "so what?" and then I vote aff because the plan solves something and the alt doesn't. Good k debaters make their argument topic and aff-specific. I would really prefer I don't waste any of my limited time on this planet thinking about baudrillard/bataille/other high theory nonsense that has nothing to do with anything.
Unless told specifically otherwise I assume that life is preferable to death. The onus is on you to prove that a world with no value to life/social death is worse than being biologically dead.
I am skeptical of the pedagogical value of frameworks/roles of the ballot/roles of the judge that don’t allow the affirmative to weigh the benefits of hypothetical enactment of the plan against the K.
I tend to give the aff A LOT of leeway in answering floating PIKs, especially when they are introduced as "the alt is compatible with politics" and then become "you dropped the floating PIK to do your aff without your card's allusion to the Godfather" (I thought this was a funny joke until I judged a team that PIKed out of a two word reference to Star Wars. h/t to GBS GS.). In my experience, these debates work out much better for the negative when they are transparent about what the alternative is and just justify their alternative doing part of the plan from the get go.
Theory – theory arguments that aren't some variation of “conditionality bad” are rarely reasons to reject the team. These arguments pretty much have to be dropped and clearly flagged in the speech as reasons to vote against the other team for me to consider voting on them. That being said, I don't understand why teams don't press harder against obviously abusive CPs/alternatives (uniform 50 state fiat, consult cps, utopian alts, floating piks). Theory might not be a reason to reject the team, but it's not a tough sell to win that these arguments shouldn't be allowed. If the 2NR advocates a K or CP I will not default to comparing the plan to the status quo absent an argument telling me to. New affs bad is definitely not a reason to reject the team and is also not a justification for the neg to get unlimited conditionality (something I've been hearing people say).
Topicality/Procedurals – By default, I view topicality through the lens of competing interpretations, but I could certainly be persuaded to do something else. Specification arguments that are not based in the resolution or that don't have strong literature proving their relevance are rarely a reason to vote neg. It is very unlikely that I could be persuaded that theory outweighs topicality. Policy teams don’t get a pass on T just because K teams choose not to be topical. Plan texts should be somewhat well thought out. If the aff tries to play grammar magic and accidentally makes their plan text "not a thing" I'm not going to lose any sleep after voting on presumption/very low solvency.
Points - ...are completely arbitrary and entirely contextual to the tournament, division, round, etc. I am more likely to reward good performance with high points than punish poor performance with below average points. Things that influence my points: 30% strategy, 60% execution, 10% style. Being rude to your partner or the other team is a good way to persuade me to explore the deepest depths of my point range.
Cheating - I won't initiate clipping/ethics challenges, mostly because I don't usually follow along with speech docs. If you decide to initiate one, you have to stake the round on it. Unless the tournament publishes specific rules on what kind of points I should award in this situation, I will assign the lowest speaks possible to the loser of the ethics challenge and ask the tournament to assign points to the winner based on their average speaks.
I won't evaluate evidence that is "inserted" but not actually read as part of my decision.
Misc procedural things:
1. He/him/his; call me DML or Dustin, preferably not "judge;" if you call me Mr. Meyers-Levy I'll assume you think I'm old and I'll give you old person points
2. Debated at Edina HS in Minnesota from 2008-2012, at the University of Michigan from 2012-2017, and currently coach at Michigan and Glenbrook North
3. Please add me to the email chain: dustml[at]umich[dot]edu. College debaters only: please also add debatedocs[at]umich[dot]edu (note that this is not the same as the community debatedocs listerv).
4. Nothing here set in stone debate is up to the debaters go for what you want to blah blah blah argument is a claim and a warrant don't clip cards
5. Speaks usually range from 28.5-29.5. Below 28.5 and there are some notable deficiencies, above 29.5 you're going above and beyond to wow me. I don't really try to compare different debaters across different rounds to give points; I assign them based on a round-by-round basis. I gave a 30 one time a decade ago because I lost a bet. I doubt it'll ever happen again.
6. If you're breaking something new, you'll send it out before your speech, not after the speech ends or as it's read or whatever. If you don't want to comply with that, your points are capped at 27. If you're so worried that giving the neg team 9 extra minutes to look at your new aff will tip the odds against you, it's probably not good enough to win anyway.
7. I feel like my decision times get shorter and shorter by the tournament. I highly encourage you to think about whether you really need to spend time making the other team send a copy of every card they marked and read or didn't read after their speech.
8. Each person gives one constructive and one rebuttal. The first person who speaks is the only person I flow (I can make an exception for performances in 1ACs/1NCs). I don’t flow prompting until and unless the assigned speaker says the words that their partner is prompting. If you need some part of this clarified, I’m probably not the judge for you.
9. If you would enthusiastically describe your strategy as "memes" or "trolling," you should strike me.
NDT 2023 pref guide:
Consider preffing me low or striking me if you:
--make arguments about the other team as individuals and/or out-of-round conduct
--don't intend to talk about the plan when you're neg
--want an "evidence over spin" judge in high-level topic debates--I've done nearly exclusively K work this year, and when I've judged these debates I've usually (and often unknowingly) voted for whoever bluffed better about what their evidence said/what was true about how the topic worked
--largely/only go for procedural fairness as your framework impact and rarely make a serious effort to engage/access the case against K affs
--plan to beat Ks on the aff by going for "extinction outweighs" and hegemony/economy/LIO/etc impact turns
--are worried about judges who err neg on T against a policy aff
Consider preffing me in gettable range or high if you:
--go for the K while talking about the plan and have creative explanations of link uniqueness, alt solvency, and impact calculus
--are ready to substantively defend your affirmative against the premise of most common Ks while pressing the neg on the necessity of the aforementioned burdens of link uniqueness, alt solvency, and impact calculus in the context of their theories
--go slower--I haven't ran the numbers, but in close debates where one side slows down enough that I can write down 80-90% of what they say verbatim (rather than using shorthand, skipping warrants, and/or ignoring grammar and spelling), I usually find myself voting for that team
--go for clash as your framework impact while talking about the aff a lot
--have affirmatives with simpler premises and/or neg strategies that don't require a lot of topic knowledge ready
--go for T against policy affs--I might not know much about the topic, but that makes me better for the negative overall, because I don't really care about community consensus about what arguments are good or not
When making my decisions, I seek to answer four questions:
1. At what scale should I evaluate impacts? How do I determine which impact outweighs the others?
2. What is necessary to address those impacts?
3. At what point have those impacts been sufficiently addressed?
4. How certain am I about either side’s answers to the previous three questions?
I don’t expect debaters to answer these questions explicitly or in order, but I do find myself voting for debaters who use that phrasing and these concepts (necessity, sufficiency, certainty, etc) as part of their judge instruction a disproportionate amount. I try to start every RFD with a sentence-ish-long summary of my decision (e.g. "I voted affirmative because I am certain that their impacts are likely without the plan and unlikely with it, which outweighs an uncertain risk of the impacts to the DA even if I am certain about the link"); you may benefit from setting up a sentence or two along those lines for me.
Intervention on my part is inevitable, but I’d like to minimize it if possible. The way I try to do so is by making an effort to quote or paraphrase the 1AR, 2NR, and 2AR in my RFD as much as possible. This means I find myself often voting for teams who a) minimize the amount of debate jargon they use, b) explicitly instruct me what I need in order to be certain that an argument is true, and c) don’t repeat themselves or reread parts of earlier speeches. (The notable exception to c) is quoting your evidence—I appreciate teams who tell me what to look for in their cards, as I’d rather not read evidence if I don’t have to.)
I flow on my computer and I flow straight down. I appreciate debaters who debate in a way that makes that easy to do (clean line-by-line, numbering/subpointing, etc). I’ll make as much room as you want me to for an overview, but I won’t flow it on a separate sheet unless you say pretty please. If it’s not obvious to me at that point why it’s on a separate sheet, you’ll probably lose points.
Consider going a little bit slower. I think debate is easier when you slow down. I like when debaters do it; it makes it easier to flow everything you say. I prefer voting on arguments that I am certain about, and it is much easier to be certain about an argument when I know that I have written down everything that you’ve said.
Presumption always goes negative because the affirmative always has the burden of proof.
I am "truth over tech." I will not vote for something if I cannot explain why it is a reason that one side or the other has done the better debating, even if it is technically conceded by the other team. Obviously, this is not to say that technical concessions do not matter--they're probably the most important part of my decisionmaking process! However, not all technical concessions matter, and the reasons that some technical concessions matter might not be apparent to me. A dropped argument is true, but non-dropped arguments can also be true, and I need you to contextualize how to evaluate and compare those truths.
I appreciate well-thought-out perms with a brief summary of its function/net beneficiality in the 2AC. I get frustrated by teams who shotgun the same four perms on every page, especially when those perms are essentially the same argument (e.g. “perm do both” and “perm do the plan and non-mutually exclusive parts of the alt”) or when the perm is obviously nonsensical (e.g. “perm do the counterplan” against an advantage counterplan that doesn’t try to fiat the aff or against a uniqueness counterplan that bans the plan).
I’d prefer that you read rehighlightings and not insert them, unless you’re rehighlighting a couple words. You will lose speaker points for inserting a bunch of rehighlightings, and I’ll happily ignore them if instructed to by the other team.
1. Debate is indisputably a game to some degree or another, and it can be other things besides that. I like when teams split the difference and account for debate’s inevitably competitive features rather than asserting it is only one thing or another.
2. I think I am better for K affs than I have been in the past. I am not worse for framework, but I am worse for the amount of work that people seem to do when preparing to go for framework. I am getting really bored by neg teams who recycle blocks without updating them in the context of the round and don’t make an effort to talk about the aff. I think the neg needs to say more than just “the aff’s method is better with a well-prepared opponent” or “non-competitive venues solve the aff’s offense” to meaningfully mitigate the aff's offense. If you are going for framework in front of me, you may want to replace those kinds of quotes in your blocks with specific explanations that reference what the aff says in speeches and cards.
3. I prefer clash impacts to fairness impacts. I vote negative often when aff teams lack explanation for why someone should say "no" to the aff. I find that fairness strategies suffer when the aff pushes on the ballot’s ability to “solve” them; I would rather use my ballot to encourage the aff to argue differently rather than to punish them retroactively. I think fairness-centric framework strategies are vulnerable to aff teams impact turning the neg’s interpretation (conversely, I think counter-interpretation strategies are weak against fairness impacts).
4. I don't think I've ever voted on "if the 1AC couldn't be tested you should presume everything they've said is false"/"don't weigh the aff because we couldn't answer it," and I don't think I ever will.
5. I think non-framework strategies live and die at the level of competition and solvency. When aff teams invest time in unpacking permutations and solvency deficits, and the neg doesn’t advance a theory of competition beyond “no perms in a method debate” (whatever that means), I usually vote aff. When the aff undercovers the perm and/or the alt, I have a high threshold for new explanation and usually think that the 2NR should be the non-framework strategy.
6. I do not care whether or not fiat has a resolutional basis.
Ks on the neg/being aff vs the K:
I am getting really bored by "stat check" affs that respond to every K by brute-forcing a heg or econ impact and reading the same "extinction outweighs, util, consequentialism, nuke war hurts marginalized people too" blocks/cards every debate. That's not to say that these affs are non-viable in front of me, but it is to say that I've often seen teams reading these big-stick affs in ways that seem designed to avoid engaging the substance of the K. If this is your strategy, you should talk about the alternative more, and have a defense of fiat that is not just theoretical.
I care most about link uniqueness and alt solvency. When I vote aff, it's because a) the aff gets access to their impacts, b) those impacts outweigh/turn the K, c) the K links are largely non-unique, and/or d) the neg doesn't have a well-developed alt push. Neg teams that push back on these issues--by a) having well-developed and unique links and impacts with substantive impact calculus in the block and 2NR, including unique turns case args (not just that the plan doesn't solve, but that it actually makes the aff's own impacts more likely), b) having a vision for what the world of the alt looks like that's defensible and ostensibly solves their impacts even if the aff wins a risk of theirs (case defense that's congruent with the K helps), and/or c) has a heavy push on framework that tells me what the alt does/doesn't need to solve--have a higher chance of getting my ballot. Some more specific notes:
1. Upfront, I'm not a huge fan of "post-/non-/more-than/humanism"-style Ks. I find myself more persuaded by most defenses/critical rehabilitations of humanism than I do by critiques of humanism that attempt to reject the category altogether. You can try your best to change my mind, but it may be an uphill battle; this applies far more to high theory/postmodern Ks of humanism (which, full disclosure, I would really rather not hear) than it does to structuralist/identity-based Ks of humanism, though I find myself more persuaded by "new humanist" style arguments a la Fanon, Wynter, etc than full-on rejections of humanism.
2. There's a new trend of Ks about debt, debt imperialism, etc. I may not be the best judge for these arguments, simply because of my difficulty with understanding economics on its own terms, let alone in the context of a K. It's not for lack of trying to understand or familiarize myself, I just have tremendous difficulty understanding even basic economic concepts at a fundamental level, and this is seriously amplified when those concepts are being analyzed by relatively complex critical theory. This isn't to say these arguments are unwinnable in front of me (I've voted for them this year and in past years), but you may want to consider something else and/or investing a really large amount of time in explaining the fundamentals of your arguments to me.
3. I also don't really get all these new Ks about quantum physics in IR and stuff. Again, it's me, not you. I was an English major; every time I try to read these articles I get a headache. I'm interested, I promise, and if you can explain it to me I'll be very appreciative! But for transparency's sake, I think it's highly unlikely that you'll be able to both explain the argument to me in a way that I can comprehend AND invest the time necessary to win the debate in your 36 collective minutes of speaking time.
4. I'm quite interested in emerging genres of critical legal theory. I think I would be a good judge for Ks that defend concrete changes to jurisprudence and are willing to debate out the implications of that.
5. I think that others should not suffer, that biological death is bad, and that contingent agreement on truth is possible and a better basis for action than nothing. If your K disagrees with any of these fundamental premises, I am a bad judge for it.
6. I don't get Ks of linear time. I get Ks of whitewashing, progress narratives, etc. I get the argument that historical events influence the present, and that events in the present can reshape our understanding of the past. I get that some causes have complex effects that aren't immediately recognizable to us and may not be recognizable on any human scale. I just don't get how any of those things are mutually exclusive with, and indeed how they don't also rely on, some understanding of linear time/causality. I think this is because I have a very particular understanding of what "linear time" means/refers to, which is to say that it's hard for me to disassociate that phrase with the basic concept of cause/effect and the progression of time in a measurable, linear fashion. This isn't as firm of a belief as #5; I can certainly imagine one of these args clicking with me eventually. This is just to say that the burden of explanation is much higher and you would likely be better served going for more plan-specific link arguments or maybe just using different terminology/including a brief explanation as to why you're not disagreeing with the basic premise that causes have effects, even if those effects aren't immediately apparent. If you are disagreeing with that premise, you should probably strike me, as it will require far longer than two hours for me to comprehend your argument, let alone agree with it.
7. "Philosophical competition" is not a winner in front of me. I don't know what it means and no one has ever explained it to me in a coherent way.
1. 95% of my work in college is K-focused, and the other 5% is mostly spot updates. I am surrounded by lawyers in my personal life, so I am better at keeping up with jurisprudential arguments about rights/duties than arguments about, like, the macroeconomic effects of copyrighting AI art.
For high school, 75-80% of my work has been policy-focused. I am pretty bored by impact turn debates. I wish neg teams would make more arguments about how the US does security cooperation and fewer arguments about NATO.
2. “Link controls uniqueness”/“uniqueness controls the link” arguments will get you far with me. I often find myself wishing that one side or the other had made that argument, because my RFDs often include some variant of it regardless.
3. Apparently T against policy affs is no longer in style. Fortunately, I have a terrible sense of style. In general, I think I'm better for the neg for T than (I guess) a lot of judges; reading through some judge philosophies I find a lot of people who say they don't like judging T or don't think T debates are good, and I strongly disagree with that claim. I'm a 2N at heart, so when it comes down to brass tacks I really don't care about many T impacts/standards except for neg ground (though I can obviously be persuaded otherwise). I care far more about the debates that an interpretation facilitates than I do about the interpretation's source in the abstract--do explanation as to why source quality/predictability influences the quality of debates under the relevant interpretation.
4. I think judge kick makes intuitive sense, but I won't do it unless I'm told to. That said, I also think I have a lower threshold for what constitutes the neg "telling me to" than most. There are some phrases that signify to me that I can default to the status quo by my own choosing; these include, but aren't necessarily limited to, "the status quo is always a logical policy option" and/or "counter-interp: the neg gets X conditional options and the status quo."
5. Here are some aff theory arguments that I could be persuaded on pretty easily given a substantive time investment:
--Counterplans should have a solvency advocate ideally matching the specificity of the aff's, but at least with a normative claim about what should happen.
--Multi-actor fiat bad--you can fiat different parts of the USFG do things, and international fiat is defensible, but fiating the federal government and the states, or the US and NATO, is a no-no. (Fiating all fifty states is debatably acceptable, but fiating some permutation of states seems iffy to me.)
--No negative fiat, but not the meme--counterplans should take a positive action, and shouldn't fiat a negative action. It's the distinction between "the USFG should not start a war against Russia" and "the USFG should ban initiation of war against Russia."
--Test case fiat? Having osmosed a rudimentary bit of constitutional law via friends and family in law school, it seems like debate's conception of how the Supreme Court works is... suspect. Not really sure what the implications of that are for the aff or the neg, but I'm pretty sure that most court CPs/mechanisms would get actual lawyers disbarred.
--“…large advantage counterplans with multiple planks, all of which can be kicked, are fairly difficult to defend. Negative teams can fiat as many policies as it takes to solve whatever problems the aff has sought to tackle. It is unreasonable to the point of stupidity to expect the aff to contrive solvency deficits: the plan would literally have to be the only idea in the history of thought capable of solving a given problem. Every additional proposal introduced in the 1nc (in order to increase the chance of solving) can only be discouraged through the potential cost of a disad being read against it. In the old days, this is why counterplan files were hundreds of pages long and had answers to a wide variety of disads. But if you can kick the plank, what incentive does the aff have to even bother researching if the CP is a good idea? If they read a 2AC add-on, the neg gets as many no-risk 2NC counterplans to add to the fray as well (of course, they can also add unrelated 2nc counterplans for fun and profit). If you think you can defend the merit of that strategy vs. a "1 condo cp / 1 condo k" interp, your creative acumen may be too advanced for interscholastic debate; consider more challenging puzzles in emerging fields, as they urgently need your input.” -Kevin "Kevin 'Paul Blart Mall Cop' James" James Hirn
I have a PhD in Philosophy. I was 3rd speaker and a semifinalist at the NDT (in 2012?). I read: Baudrillard, Bataille, Deleuze and Guattari, Nietzsche. I didn't read: topical plans. I will vote on T, though I don't think fairness is an especially compelling impact. I defer to an offense/defense paradigm unless told to do otherwise.
Speaker points start at 27.5. 28.2-28.4 marks an average speaker.
Don't adapt. Be bold.
Mollison.JamesA@gmail.com for the chain. (Sigh.)
Butin scale is:
Judge adaptation, by my lights, is better saved for “smaller” or “more technical” aspects of debates, as opposed to being something that should inform your overarching strategy. Besides, it pains me to watch a poorly executed version of an argument that I agree with, whereas a poorly executed version of an argument that I disagree with strikes me as a matter of indifference. So, your best bet is probably to argue whatever you like to argue if I’m your judge.
I incline, as much as I can, against intervening in debates that I judge – though I oscillate as to whether I take this to express some vague pretension to intellectual integrity or mere laziness. This isn’t to say I don’t intervene. (For example, I have yet to develop a criterion for new arguments that amounts to anything more than thinking “I saw it coming, so you should have too.”) Nevertheless, it is to say that I try not to intervene more than I must to make a decision. If your argument is valid or strong, I’m willing to vote for it. (Soundness and cogency are far too high a bar for most arguments to pass, and I can’t make claims about the soundness or cogency of your arguments without portending to know things about the world, which gets us all in hot water.) So, again: read what you’d like.
If no one in the debate tells me how to judge it, as is the case more often than not, I default to some sort of opportunity-cost calculation thingy, maybe with some offense-defense jargon thrown in so that I sound like I know what I’m talking about. To be clear, I consider such methods inadequate to the task of doing justice to the messy value oriented questions that debates typically devolve into. Nevertheless, I resort to such crude methods because I think it’s fair to presume that most policy debaters take some such paradigm for granted – and it’s not my place to ruin your fun. (For my part, when I read the room, I often think something like: “Are these calculators trying to make heads or tails of ethical questions? Fascinating.”) If someone in the debate tells me I shouldn’t do the cost-benefit-analysis thingy, great. But you’ve been warned about what I’ll do if left to my own devices. Chalk it up to the aforementioned inability to distinguish intellectual integrity from laziness.
In descending order of preference, I suspect that these are the kinds of rounds you want me to judge for you:
1. “Clash” of “Civilizations” Debates
2. Critique v. Critique Debates
3. Policy v. Policy Debates
Here’s some explanation for this ranking.
1. “Clash” of “Civilizations” Debates – On the one hand, I didn’t read plans, topical or otherwise. I was what some call “a critique debater.” On the other hand, my familiarity with the standard policy-debate replies to critical arguments is developed enough that I don’t hesitate to vote for policy teams against critical arguments. Indeed, I often find myself voting on arguments that, in my bones, I believe are false. To cite a sadly common example, I don’t think fairness is an impact; if a game is shown to be unethical, bellyaching about equal due within the game seems to me to be beside the point. Similarly, the argument that “clash is unique to debate, so it must be its purpose” is worse than Aristotle’s argument from function, which I bet you don’t believe either. Yet, I vote on fairness and clash as impacts regularly. “Topical versions of the affirmative” and “switch side debate solves” arguments are counterplans in disguise – and I expect critique debaters worth their salt to be wise to such tricks by now.
2. Critique v. Critique Debates – I list these debates second because they tend to be messy, with teams struggling to generate clear competition claims. The struggle is often bad enough that judge intervention is required at a more fundamental level of the debate than usual. So, if you have me in these debates, try to hold my hand when it comes to explaining how the arguments in the debate ought to be compared. Otherwise, I’ll intervene in an unexpected place based on what I consider to the philosophical ground-floor of the debate – and to wit, I’ll blame you for my doing so. Another reason I put these second is that there are many different kinds of critique arguments and you likely don’t want me to judge all of them. I mostly read Baudrillard, Bataille, and other bastard children of Nietzsche born in France. As a result of these research interests, which I still champion, I dislike critical strategies that shrilly moralize or rely heavily on some taken-for-granted notion of identity. Don’t worry, though. Should you choose to moralize your opponents and should they choose to grovel apologetically, I’ll vote for you – quickly, too.
3. Policy v. Policy Debates – I like to think I can judge debates about counterplans, disadvantages, and case. Nevertheless, and regardless of what year it is, I probably haven’t done any research on the topic. There are too many things that I want to read for me to whittle away my eyesight reading about process counterplans. Technical terms from topic literature, acronyms, tricky procedural distinctions – you will have to explain these things to me patiently. Otherwise, I approach these debates like a toddler in a knife store. Let me be explicit: I enjoy a case beatdown as much as the next judge, but you may need to catch me up to speed before I know what, exactly, is going on.
Many of the debates that I judge are what I call “a double loss.” A double loss occurs when neither team has effectively precluded the possibility of me voting for their opponents (without intervening for them, that is). If I judge you and the debate is a double loss, I will likely tell you as much. This isn’t intended to hurt your feelings. But it is intended to remind you: you left enough doors open that you’re letting me decide the debate haphazardly. My RFD is bad, you say? You should have written a better one for me.
After a debate is over, I tend to ask myself: (i) “what is the central question of this debate?” and (ii) “which team requires me to do less work in order to write a ballot for their side?”
If the debaters themselves have not told me the answer to the first of these questions, and in keeping with my feeble attempt to fall back on some ill-defined policy-debate-norm that I assume policy debaters take for granted, then I answer the first question with something like: “the central question of the debate is how effectively avoid bad stuff, like a big boom-boom with horror-show theatrics.” Don’t like that? Nor do I. But if you don’t tell me not to do the cost-benefit analysis calculation-thingy, that’s what I’ll fall back on. You’ve been warned twice now.
Unfortunately, debaters often require that I do a great deal of work to rationalize voting for them. I’m frequently left doing impact comparisons, having to think through the priority among arguments, asking what arguments undercut others… These are all signs that I’m judging “a double loss.” Woof. So, like I say, I ask myself (ii) “which team requires me to do less work in order to vote for them?” I then incline toward thinking whatever team that is has likely won the debate. Just to be sure, though, I go back through my notes and see whether there are adequate answers to all of the bits and pieces the other team may whine about in an attempt to convince me, after the fact, that they won the debate. If the answers are adequate, I vote for the team who lost less, that is, for the team who requires that I do less work for them. If the answers aren’t adequate, then I ask myself why it took so much effort to discover this team’s winning argument... and, very likely, still vote for the other team because they didn't need me to do so much work for them.
I’ve made at least three wrong decisions when judging debates. If I do this to you, I will let you know once I realize as much.
Good on you for reading more than the bare minimum.
My name is James. I was a critique debater who called everything an impact turn.
Don’t lose the forest for the trees.
Try to enjoy - well, everything you do, but also - your debates.
Here's my old judging paradigm, which is now a simulacra of sorts.
I don't have much time...
I agree with Calum Matheson's debate paradigm, for now, with a certain degree of deviation which needn't really concern anyone. It reads:
Do as thou will shall be the whole of the law. All styles of debate can be done well or done poorly. Very little offends me. If you can’t beat the argument that genocide is good or that rocks are people, or that rock genocide is good even though they’re people, then you are a bad advocate of your cause and you should lose. If it’s so wrong and you’re so right, then it should be easy for you to win. Is that really too high a bar? If so, then I have a 26.5 here for you. Do you like it? I made it myself. Just for you.
Debates are almost always decided in part by preconceived ideas which we presume to be shared. The same holds true for debate-theoretical issues. Due to time pressure, size, or whatever, many debates leave some element that a judge must decide for themselves, like “What is the standard for a new argument?” or “What does it mean for something to be conceded?” As a result, I have rewritten this to focus on those factors. All of these are defaults. Contrary arguments by a team in a debate always override them. I would like to intervene as little as possible, but am unwilling to pretend that anyone's objective.
1. An argument contains at least a claim and a reason. It constitutes intervention for a judge to ignore a dropped argument on the basis of its soundness, rather than its validity. If you don't know what that means, you should look it up--it might be helpful more generally.
2. One makes an argument, and then reads evidence to support it. The evidence is not the argument. Many judges read too much evidence, which invites them to intervene. In thebest case, reading fifty cards and taking forever to make a decision means you’re reading too much into cards, forgetting the debate, and thus taking the debate away from the competitors. You should use your evidence carefully and sparingly with me. I’d rather you read a few high-quality cards than a big pile of crap. The quality of arguments matters, not the quantity of evidence.
3. “Any risk” is inane. Below some level of probability, signal should be overwhelmed by noise, or perhaps the opposite effect might occur. Pretending that one can calculate risk precisely is stupid. Are you really sure that the risk of a disad is fifteen percent? Are you sure it’s not, say, twenty? Or maybe ten? Or, God forbid, twenty-five? If you are able to calculate risk with such precision, please quit debate and join the DIA. Your country needs you, citizen. If not, recognize that risks can be roughly calculated in a relative way, but that the application of mathematical models to debate is a (sometimes) useful heuristic, not an independently viable tool for evaluation.
4. Uniqueness cannot determine the direction of a link. This is not an opinion, just a statement of fact. Some outcome is more or less likely to happen in the future, but because it’s a prediction, the probability is almost never 100%. The link is a net assessment of how the plan changes this—it’s a yes/no, up/down thing. So if one team wins the direction of the link, they should win the argument (although winning the sign of the change doesn’t mean that its magnitude is necessarily enough to result in a particular outcome).
Here’s an example: the Aff has three advantages. The Neg has a counterplan that definitely solves two of them, and definitely does not solve the third. The Neg only has inherency arguments on that advantage, which is the only net benefit to the counterplan. Does the Neg win? No. They have no offense so the counterplan can’t possibly be better than the Aff alone. This situation is identical to the case when a counterplan solves all of the case, the Neg wins uniqueness to the net benefit, but the Aff wins (non-unique) link turns.
5. An argument that is conceded is “true” for the purpose of the debate and joins the set of other usually unspoken presuppositions, like “things can cause things,” “death is bad,” “the Obama mentioned in the cards is the president of the United States,” and so forth. This means that if something is conceded by the negative bloc (for example) and then becomes relevant again as a reaction to the 2nr, the Aff’s extension of it is not new.
6. My criteria for “new” applications of an argument: if I could see it coming when the team made the argument originally then their use of it later on is not new. I know this isn’t a perfect standard, but I can’t think of a better one. If a claim or reason is not made until the rebuttals then that component of the argument is new, but not necessarily the whole argument. It’s not enough to say “this is new.” You must say that that’s bad for some reason.
7. Offense/defense isn’t always appropriate for theory arguments. The team that makes the argument has the burden to show that it’s okay to do that, but they don’t need to prove that something is particularly good—just okay. Theory arguments should be rooted in something fundamental. There are hypothetical benefits of debate, then practices that further them, then specific arguments that are examples of those practices. These principles rarely result in a counterinterpretation that isn’t an arbitrary, self-serving turd shat gracelessly into a shallow theory debate.
8. The idea that the Aff determines the meaning of words in the plan is wrong. If so, then nothing would stop them from saying “by Iraq we meant Iran,” “decrease means make more,” or whatever. Topicality arguments would be impossible. Competition and disad links even worse. Cleverly written Affs could have some ambiguity in their advantages so that words in the plan could be suddenly and arbitrarily redefined in ways that still allow the plan to have advantages. The meaning of the plan wouldn’t be predictable. Here’s the plan you hand the Negative before the debate: “The USFG should set fire to children. Survivors will be eaten by cobras.” The Neg spends half an hour prepping (some “cobras aren’t big enough to eat kids” cards, maybe a PIC out of children who agree to join the Marine Corps, a "Russia likes cobras/hates children" card, etc) and then the debate starts and the 1AC is about why the war in Iraq is immoral and we should ban depleted uranium shells. Seems to me that a better interpretation is that both sides should debate over the meaning of the words in the plan text—which the Aff should be ahead on since they chose the words.
9. Unless the Negative makes an argument to the contrary, going for a counterplan in the 2NR means that the only relevant comparison is the counterplan versus the plan. If the plan is better than the counterplan, the Aff does not need to be compared to the status quo. It is “logical” for the judge to compare the plan to the status quo if the counterplan is a bad idea, but it’s similarly logical for the judge to vote for only part of the plan, or the plan plus some undiscussed-but-implied alternative, delay the plan for a couple of months, or to unilaterally decide that a disad isn’t intrinsic. Saying “status quo is always an option” doesn’t resolve this—an option for who? The 2NR or the judge? If you want the status quo to be considered along with the counterplan, you should say so clearly.
10. Debates should be about opportunity cost. Disadvantages should be intrinsic to the plan. Many people seem not to understand what this means. If the impact to a disad is that the same actor doing the plan would then do something bad, this disad is not intrinsic—i.e., nothing about the plan means that the disadvantage necessarily results. Example: the plan has the US Congress withdraw US troops from Iraq. The Neg says “Congress would then choose not to repeal the Jackson-Vanik amendment and that would hurt US-Russian relations.” This disadvantage is not intrinsic, because the same actor—Congress—could do the plan and still repeal Jackson-Vanik. A legitimate Aff response is “Congress could do the plan and still repeal Jackson-Vanik.” Here’s where some people seem to get stuck: the Aff argument “we could do the plan and Congress could give Alaska back to Russia” is not a legitimate argument. Intrinsicness arguments are like permutations of the status quo—they test to see if the Aff could do the plan and still maintain the decision that the negative says the plan trades off with (Jackson-Vanik). They can’t introduce new options to solve the same impact because that tests the necessary magnitude of the cost, not whether or not two courses of action are actually exclusive of one another. The “plan plus return Alaska” argument tests competition with a hypothetical world where we’re giving back Alaska, which is not the world that the Negative defends. There are many, many ways around this intrinsicness requirement for the Negative, and I have very rarely voted Aff on this argument.
11. In critical debates, the role of the judge is very important (“critique” is not spelled with a “k” in English, and we didn’t fight the Boche on and off for thirty years just to revert to their barbarian customs). If the alternative uses an agent other than that proposed by the Aff, it is necessary to make this clear and justify the change. I don’t think the default position for the judge is as a government policy maker—without further instruction, I will suppose that the judge should just select the best option regardless of the agent, but this presents a number of serious problems that are worthy of attention by both teams, as whoever wins the “role of the judge” generally wins the debate.
12. All debates are impact debates. If team one wins that (impact x risk) of their arguments is larger than (impact x risk) of team two's arguments, team one wins. Although the standards for evaluating impacts is different in different debates (e.g., "liberty outweighs life," "moral action outweighs consequences"), this is true in theory debates, policy debates, and critical debates because the "impact" is just the reason to care about whatever you said. Impact calculus is thus very, very important, probably more important than any other aspect of a debate. Oddly enough, I think this is also the least-developed part of most debates. Bear in mind how conceded arguments influence impact uniqueness--in many debates, someone kicks a disad with a nuclear war impact by conceding that it's not unique and doesn't link. This means that the judge is making a decision about two opposing contingent worlds, both of which contain a nuclear war, usually in the next few years. Shouldn't timeframe matter more then since we'll all be fighting Super Mutants and learning to make our own bullets in a couple of years? In a related note, it's strange to me how little people exploit the impacts that they do win since the scale of impacts people discuss would clearly effect one another not just at the internal link level (e.g. "econ collapse hurts heg") but at the level of terminal impacts vs. internal links (a nuclear war might cause pandemics, or collapse the economy, or whatever--at the very least, we'd probably quit enforcing the plan once the time came to discuss the finer points of radioactive cannibalism).
13. Nearly always, what Aff teams call "not unique" arguments are actually brinks. Because most disads are cartoonishly stupid, they are also unique, because the magnitude of change that they're talking about is extreme. Example: "the plan spends money; hurts the economy; econ collapse = nuke war." If the Aff says "economy low now," that's probably good for the Neg, because their impact ev is talking about a situation where the economy has completely collapsed, so the Aff claim arguably adds plausibility to their argument. Link uniqueness is different of course.
14. Debate is ultimately about communicating your ideas to a judge to persuade them to vote for you. If I cannot understand you, I will not be persuaded to vote for you. It is the burden of debaters to communicate clearly. I will not say “clear.” I will just ignore you without remorse, since the most basic goal of a debater is to be understood by the judge. This doesn't apply if it's not your fault, e.g., you're too far away and I can't hear you.
15. A few notes on language: Speaker points are entirely subjective. They reflect how much I like a set of speeches as a performance; feel free to fight with me about them but be aware that I have never cared. If you have an accent, speak a dialect, or whatever, I would not penalize you. That said, if you think that the first syllables of "tyrant" and "tyranny" are pronounced the same way, I wish you ill. Similarly, the aff does not "cause the Holocaust," unless this is an unusually bizarre counterfactual debate. "Knight Ridder" is a news agency; "Night Rider" was an 80's television series. "G.A.O." is an acronym, not a name. "Genocide" is a noun. The adjectival form is "genocidal." "Genocide" is not a verb. "Critique," as previously mentioned, is spelled with a "C," and as a rule, unnecessary use of German never made an argument sound less insidious. "Spec" is an annoying abbreviation; "tix" is one whose users should be condemned to a short life of hard labor in a Siberian uranium mine.
Again, all of these are defaults, and I ignore them when teams I judge make contrary arguments. Please do feel free to contact me with questions about how I judge or ideas for change. I will update this periodically.
Some Thoughts Regarding Topics Past and Present:
Space: "I want to be buried in an anonymous crater inside the moon. I want to build miniature golf courses on all the stars. I want to prove that Atlantis was a summer resort for cave men. I want to prove that Los Angeles is a practical joke played on us by superior beings on a humorous planet. I want to expose heaven as an exclusive sanitarium filled with rich psychopaths who think they can fly. I want to show that the Bible was serialized in a Roman children’s magazine. I want to prove that the sun was born when God fell asleep with a lit cigarette, tired after a hard night of judging. I want to prove once and for all that I am not crazy."
Executive Authority: "Scientists always said there is no such thing as a soul. Now they are in a position to prove it. Total Death. Soul Death. It’s what the Egyptians called the Second and Final Death. This awesome power to destroy souls forever is now vested in farsighted and responsible people in the State Department, the CIA, and the Pentagon. Governments fall from sheer indifference. Authority figures, deprived of the vampiric energy they suck off their constituents, are seen for what they are: dead empty masks manipulated by computers. And what is behind the computers? Remote control. Of course. Don't intend to be here when this shithouse goes up. Nothing here now but the recordings. Shut them off, they are as radioactive as an old joke."
NHI: "Incredible nervous state, trepidation beyond words: to be this much in love is to be sick (and I love to be sick)."
Emissions: "Already many of the surrounding buildings had disappeared beneath the proliferating vegetation. Huge club mosses and calamites blotted out the white rectangular faces, shading the lizards in their window lairs. Beyond the lagoon, the endless tides of silt had begun to accumulate into enormous glittering banks, here and there overtopping the shoreline like the immense tippings of some distant goldmine. The light drummed against his brain, bathing the submerged levels below his consciousness, carrying him downwards to warm pellucid depths, where the nominal realities of time and space ceased to exist. Guided by his dreams, he was moving back into his emergent past, through a succession of ever stranger landscapes centered on the lagoon, each of which seemed to represent one of his own spinal levels."
Some things that I, a judge of college ~policy~ debates, find myself desirous of on the eve of the 2019-2020 debate season:
1. I want to know what the central question of a given debate is and what the criteria for its evaluation are.
2. I want to be impressed by your debating. Failing that, I will settle for being mystified.
3. I want to experience moments of creativity, intellectual, artistic or otherwise (!?).
4. I want the above to proceed from within the space of debate's rules (someone will speak, someone will lose, no one will touch and so on and so forth).
5. I want for the poems and stories you read that they should not become so burdened by the impresses of reality at the end of your debates.
6. I want that debate itself should become a little bit less convinced of its own reality. Where has play gone off to? I would like to know.
7. I want debate to be fun. If you are having fun debating, share. Please.
8. I want you to know what my email is. firstname.lastname@example.org
Now: UC Berkeley
Please add me to the email chain: email@example.com
Affiliations and History
Current Director of Debate at Westminster and have been there since 2018. Debated in college between 2008 and 2012. Actively coaching high school debate since 2008.
I am not the kind of judge who will read every card at the end of the debate. Claims that are highly contested, evidence that is flagged, and other important considerations will of course get my attention. Debaters should do the debating. Quality evidence is still important though. If the opposing team's cards are garbage, it is your responsibility to let that be known. Before reading my preferences about certain arguments, keep in mind that it is in your best interest to do what you do best. My thoughts on arguments are general predispositions and not necessarily absolute.
T – Topicality is important. The affirmative should have a relationship to the topic. How one goes about defending the topic is somewhat open to interpretation. However, my predisposition still leans towards the thought that engaging the topic is a good and productive end. I find myself in framework debates being persuaded by the team that best articulates why their limit on the topic allows for a season's worth of debate with competitively equitable outcomes for both the aff and the neg.
Disads/Case Debate – While offense is necessary, defense is frequently undervalued. I am willing to assign 0% risk to something if a sufficient defensive argument is made.
Counterplans – Conditionality is generally fine. Functional competition seems more relevant than textual competition. If the affirmative is asked about the specific agent of their plan, they should answer the question. I increasingly think the affirmative allows the negative to get away with questionable uses of negative fiat. Actual solvency advocates and counterplan mechanisms that pass the rational policy option assumption matter to me.
Kritiks – I teach history and economics and I studied public policy and political economy during my doctoral education. This background inherently influences my filter for evaluating K debates. Nonetheless, I do think these are strategic arguments. I evaluate framework in these debates as a sequencing question regarding my resolution of impact claims. Effective permutation debating by the aff is an undervalued strategy.
Theory – A quality theory argument should have a developed warrant/impact. “Reject the argument, not the team” resolves most theory arguments except for conditionality. Clarity benefits both teams when engaging in the substance of theory debates.
Scale - Adjective - Description
29.6-30 - The Best - Everything you could ask for as a judge and more. (Top 5 speaker award)
29-29.5 - Very, Very good - Did everything you could expect as a judge very, very well. (Top 10 speaker award)
28.6-28.9 - Very Good - Did very well as a whole, couple moments of brilliance, but not brilliant throughout.
28.3-28.5 - Good - Better than average. Did most things well. Couple moments of brilliance combined with errors.
28-28.2 - OK - Basic skills, abilities, and expectations met. But, some errors along the way. Very little to separate themselves from others. Clearly prepared, just not clearly ahead of others.
Below 28 - OK, but major errors - Tried hard, but lack some basic skills or didn’t pay close enough attention.
Current Affiliation = Notre Dame HS (Sherman Oaks, CA)
Debates Judged on this topic: about 40 Rounds (UMich Debate Institute)
Prior Experience: Debated policy in HS at Notre Dame HS in Sherman Oaks, CA (1992-1995); Debated NDT/CEDA in college at USC (1995-1999); Assistant debate coach at Cal State Northridge 2003-2005; Assistant debate coach at Glenbrook South HS Spring of 2005; Director of Debate at Glenbrook North HS 2005-2009; Director of Debate at Notre Dame HS Fall of 2009-Present.
My defaults go into effect when left to my own devices. I will go against most of these defaults if a team technically persuades me to do so in any given debate.
If you start taking excessive time to flash your document, I will start instituting that "Prep time ends when the speaker's flash drive is removed from her/his computer."
I am familiar with the topic (4 weeks of teaching at Michigan at Classic and involved in argument coaching at Notre Dame).
Delivery rate should be governed by your clarity; WARRANTS in the evidence should be clear, not just the tagline.
Clarity is significantly assisted by organization - I flow as technically as possible and try to follow the 1NC structure on-case and 2AC structure off-case through the 1AR. 2NR and the 2AR should have some leeway to restructure the debate in important places to highlight their offense. However, line-by-line should be followed where re-structuring is not necessary.
Ideal 2AR Structure
Offense placed at the top (tell me how I should be framing the debate in the context of what you are winning), then move through the debate in a logical order.
2NR's Make Choices
Good 2NR strategies may be one of the following: (1) Functionally and/or textually competitive counterplan with an internal or external net benefit, (2) K with a good turns case/root cause arguments that are specific to each advantage, (3) Disadvantage with turns case arguments and any necessary case defense, (4) Topicality (make sure to cover any theory arguments that are offense for aff). My least favorite debates to resolve are large impact turn debates, not because I hate impact turns, but because I think that students lose sight of how to resolve and weigh the multiple impact scenarios that get interjected into the debate. Resolving these debates starts with a big picture impact comparison.
Reference evidence by warrant first and then add "That's [Author]." Warrant and author references are especially important on cards that you want me to read at the end of the debate. Also, evidence should reflect the arguments that you are making in the debate. I understand that resolving a debate requires spin, but that spin should be based in the facts presented in your evidence.
I have been getting copies of speech documents for many debates lately so I can read cards during prep time, etc. However, note that I will pay attention to what is said in the debate as much as possible - I would much rather resolve the debate on what the debaters say, not based on my assessment of the evidence.
Safer to go for offense, and then make an "even if" statement explaining offense as a 100% defensive takeout. I will vote on well-resolved defense against CP, DA's and case. This is especially true against process CP's (e.g., going for a well-resolved permutation doesn't require you to prove a net benefit to the permutation since these CP's are very difficult to get a solvency deficit to) and DA's with contrived internal link scenarios. Winning 100% defense does require clear evidence comparison to resolve.
I like a well-developed topicality debate. This should include cards to resolve important distinctions. Topical version of the aff and reasonable case lists are persuasive. Reasonability is persuasive when the affirmative has a TRUE "we meet" argument; it seems unnecessary to require the affirmative to have a counter-interpretation when they clearly meet the negative interpretation. Also, discussing standards with impacts as DA's to the counter-interpretation is very useful - definition is the uniqueness, violation is the link, standard is an internal link and education or fairness is the impact.
Word PIC's, process, consult, and condition CP's are all ok. I have voted on theory against these CP's in the past because the teams that argued they were illegit were more technically saavy and made good education arguments about the nature of these CP's. The argument that they destroy topic-specific education is persuasive if you can prove why that is true. Separately, the starting point for answers to the permutation are the distinction(s) between the CP and plan. The starting point for answers to a solvency deficit are the similarities between the warrants of the aff advantage internal links and the CP solvency cards. Counterplans do not have to be both functionally and textually competitive, but it is better if you can make an argument as to why it is both.
All parts of the DA are important, meaning neither uniqueness nor links are more important than each other (unless otherwise effectively argued). I will vote on conceded or very well-resolved defense against a DA.
Good K debate should have applied links to the affirmative's or negative's language, assumptions, or methodology. This should include specific references to an opponent's cards. The 2NC/1NR should make sure to address all affirmative impacts through defense and/or turns. I think that making 1-2 carded externally impacted K's in the 2NC/1NR is the business of a good 2NC/1NR on the K. Make sure to capitalize on any of these external impacts in the 2NR if they are dropped in the 1AR. A team can go for the case turn arguments absent the alternative. Affirmative protection against a team going for case turns absent the alternative is to make inevitability (non-unique) claims.
Framework is applied in many ways now and the aff should think through why they are reading parts of their framework before reading it in the 2AC, i.e., is it an independent theoretical voting issue to reject the Alternative or the team based on fairness or education? or is it a defensive indite of focusing on language, representations, methodology, etc.?. Framework impacts should be framed explicitly in the 1AR and 2AR. I am partial to believing that representations and language inform the outcome of policymaking unless given well-warranted cards to respond to those claims (this assumes that negative is reading good cards to say rep's or language inform policymaking).
Neg framework is particularly persuasive against an affirmative that has an advocacy statement they don't stick to or an aff that doesn't follow the resolution at all. It is difficult for 2N's to have a coherent strategy against these affirmatives and so I am sympathetic to a framework argument that includes a topicality argument and warranted reasons to reject the team for fairness or education. If a K aff has a topical plan, then I think that framework only makes sense as a defensive indite their methodology; however, I think that putting these cards on-case is more effective than putting them on a framework page. Framework is a somewhat necessary tool given the proliferation of affirmatives that are tangentially related to the topic or not topical at all. I can be persuaded that non-topical affs should not get permutations - a couple primary reasons: (1) reciprocity - if aff doesn't have to be topical, then CP's/K's shouldn't need to be competitive and (2) Lack of predictability makes competition impossible and neg needs to be able to test the methodology of the aff.
I prefer substance, but I do understand the need for theory given I am open to voting on Word PIC's, consult, and condition CP's. If going for theory make sure to impact arguments in an organized manner. There are only two voting issues/impacts: fairness and education. All other arguments are merely internal links to these impacts - please explain how and why you control the best internal links to either of these impacts. If necessary, also explain why fairness outweighs education or vice-versa. If there are a host of defensive arguments that neutralize the fairness or education lost, please highlight these as side constraints on the the violation, then move to your offense.
Classic Battle Defaults
These are attempts to resolve places where I felt like I had to make random decisions in the past and had wished I put something in my judge philosophy to give debaters a fair warning. So here is my fair warning on my defaults and what it takes to overcome those defaults:
(1) Theory v. Topcality - Topcality comes before theory unless the 1AR makes arguments explaining why theory is first and the 2NR doesn't adequately respond and then the 2AR extends and elaborates on why theory is first sufficiently enough to win those arguments.
(2) Do I evaluate the aff v. the squo when the 2NR went for a CP? - No unless EXPLICITLY framed as a possibility in the 2NR. If the 2NR decides to extend the CP as an advocacy (in other words, they are not just extending some part of the CP as a case takeout, etc.), then I evaluate the aff versus the CP. What does this mean? If the aff wins a permutation, then the CP is rejected and the negative loses. I will not use the perm debate as a gateway argument to evaluating the aff vs. the DA. If the 2NR is going for two separate advocacies, then the two separate framings should be EXPLICIT, e.g., possible 2NR framing, "If we win the CP, then you weigh the risk of the net benefit versus the risk of the solvency deficit and, if they win the permutation, you should then just reject the CP and weigh the risk of the DA separately versus the affirmative" (this scenario assumes that the negative declared the CP conditional).
(3) Are Floating PIK's legitimate? No unless the 1AR drops it. If the 1AR drops it, then it is open season on the affirmative. The 2NC/1NR must make the floating PIC explicit with one of the following phrases to give the 1AR a fair chance: "Alternative does not reject the plan," "Plan action doesn't necessitate . Also, 2NC/1NR must distinguish their floating PIK from the permutation; otherwise, affirmatives you should use any floating PIK analysis as a outright concession that the "permutation do both" or "permutation plan plus non-mutually exclusive parts" is TRUE.
(4) Will I vote on theory cheap shots? Yes, but I feel guilty voting for them. HOWEVER, I WILL NEVER VOTE FOR A REVERSE VOTING ISSUE EVEN IF IT WAS DROPPED.
Who is a Good Debater
Anna Dimitrijevic, Alex Pappas, Pablo Gannon, Stephanie Spies, Kathy Bowen, Edmund Zagorin, Matt Fisher, Dan Shalmon, Scott Phillips, Tristan Morales, Michael Klinger, Greta Stahl, George Kouros. There are many others - but this is a good list.
Your Opponents, Your Teammates, Your Coaches, Your Activity.
Extra Notes CP/Perm/Alt Texts
The texts of permutations, counterplans, and alternatives should be clear. I always go back and check the texts of these items if there is a question of a solvency deficit or competition. However, I do feel it is the burden of the opposing team to bring up such an argument for me to vote on it - i.e., unless it is a completely random round, the opposing team needs to make the argument that the text of the CP means there is a significant solvency deficit with the case, or the affirmative is overstating/misconstruing the solvency of a permutation because the text only dictates X, not Y, etc. I will decide that the aff does not get permutations in a debate where the affirmative is not topical.
I try to follow the flow the best I can - I do double check if 2AR is making arguments that are tied to the 1AR arguments. I think that 2AR's get significant leeway to weigh and frame their impacts once the 2NR has chosen what to go for; however, this does not mean totally new arguments to case arguments, etc. that were presented before the 2NR.
Frame claim in comparison to other team's response, extend important warrants, cite author for evidence, impact argument to ballot - all of these parts are necessary to resolve an argument fully. Since debate is a game of time management, this means going for fewer arguments with more thorough analysis is better than extending myriad of arguments with little analysis.
Complete disrespect toward anyone who is nice; no one ever has enough “credibility” in this community to justify such actions. If there is a disrespectful dynamic in a debate, I ALWAYS applaud (give higher speaker points to) the first person to step down and realize they are being a jerk. Such growth and self-awareness should rewarded.
Fear to Engage Bad
Win or lose, you are ultimately competing to have the best debate possible. Act like it and do not be afraid to engage in the tough debates. You obviously should make strategic choices, but do not runaway from in-depth arguments because you think another team will be better than you on that argument. Work harder and beat them on the argument on which she/he is supposedly an expert. Taking chances to win debates good.
And, as Lord Dark Helmet says, “evil will always triumph over good because good is dumb.”
Scott Phillips- for email chains please use iblamebricker@gmail in policy, and firstname.lastname@example.org for LD
Coach@ Harvard Westlake/Dartmouth
If you would like to increase your chances of getting my ballot dramatically here are a list of things your opponents are most likely not doing that you can take advantage of
-go for theory
-Listen to what the other team is saying and give a speech that demonstrates that you did by answering all of their arguments correctly and in the order in which they were presented . Do not read a collection of non responsive blocks in random order.
-read qualified, recent, high quality evidence that is highlighted to make grammatical and conceptual sense. Call out people who do not. Read evidence appropriately, not unnecessarily/repetitively.
-Know what your evidence says- if your 2NC OV is "LOL THEY DROPPED X" and you did not read a card that even mentions X let alone explains it you are doing things wrong. Teams who call out such shenanigans will be rewarded.
-make smart, complete analytic arguments. Especially about: link threshold, "sufficiency" of solvency, Kritiks, analytic CPs.
Economic decline causes war- not an argument
Economic decline causes war: diversionary theory- still not an argument
Economic decline causes war: diversionary theory is statistically proven and shows politicians try to regain popularity lost due to poor economic conditions by starting conflicts and triggering rally around the flag effects- this is about the bare minimum
This is particularly true for 2ACs on the case. A smart analytic about an internal link is almost always better than impact defense in the genre of "disease/warming only kills 4 billion people"
-Resolve arguments- do not just explain your side, explain why it responds to/defeats the other side. Don't just say "our impact is fast" , explain why theirs is slow and why timeframe outweighs whatever criteria your opponents impact is best at. This is particularly important in debates where each side reads 10 impacts and the only other "debate" going on is impact defense.
-Debate FW strategically, and specifically. The way people argue "weigh the case" vs "its scholarship" is not a debate, its a plea for judges to intervene on the side they personally agree with. I am willing to completely ignore what the other team said if you win your FW makes it go away, the way 99% of people debate FW today does not do this/is a waste of time. If you go for "weigh the case" vs links to the plan it will hurt your points because you are demonstrating you either do not understand framework or did not listen to your opponents, neither of which proves you did the better debating. Similarly, if you say "scholarship" as shorthand for "you link you lose" but never actually explain what is problematic about the aff "scholarship" that would hurt your points.
-Know what you are talking about. I have heard some explanations of how different aspects of the law would work this year that upon researching/asking lawyers turn out to be wildly off base/backwards. A lot of this relates to "creative" interpretations of evidence. If you are going for court clog you should know/be able to explain, or barring that have cards explaining, how the court system works. I do my best to not let this influence evaluation of arguments, but if you say "there are 11 supreme court justices" and the other side calls you on it this would damage your credibility.
Online debate update
-i will have camera on or off if debaters prefer-feel free to express your preference
-I am using a desktop computer (for tabroom/to see your doc, I'm flowing on paper) without a webcam and using Zoom etc on a tablet sitting next to me. This means I'm rarely looking "at" the camera
-my headset is wireless, I may get up and move around during CX/prep but I can hear even if I'm not on camera
My general philosophy is tech/line by line focused- I try to intervene as little as possible in terms of rejecting arguments/interpreting evidence. As long as an argument has a claim/warrant I can explain to your opponent in the RFD I will vote for it. If only one side tries to resolve an issue I will defer to that argument even if it seems illogical/wrong to me- i.e. if you drop "warming outweighs-timeframe" and have no competing impact calc its GG even though that arg is terrible. 90% of the time I'm being postrounded it is because a debater wanted me to intervene in some way on their behalf either because that's the trend/what some people do or because they personally thought an argument was bad.
Rounds Judged on the topic- a lot
My Ideal affirmative- 2 well constructed advantages
My Ideal 1NC- 5 off and case
Cliffs Notes-Top 10 Things you should know
1. I vote on arguments commonly considered "bad" frequently because a team mishandles them, it is my belief belief that most bad arguments can be defeated by making a thumbs down motion, so if you fail to meet that minimum threshold I will be qualmless voting against you. The overarching principle of my judging is "least intervention"-Much like Harrison Ford in Ender's Game under no circumstances will I help you with bad arguments, I believe in self help.
2. I vote on kritiks a lot because the team answering them reads a lot of bad generic answers instead of making analytic arguments based on the specific arguments they have made in that debate. To clarify this sentence - what I mean is an analytic based on your 1AC- ie "tradable permits empirically don't cause commodification and extinction since we already have them for SO2". In general I think most debaters have no idea what they are saying when reading a K and that affirmatives SHOULD win about 80-90% of the debates in which the negative goes for one.
3. No plan affs- 100% of the time when I vote against you on framework its because the other team won theory was a trump card over issues like education/K impacts and you didn't advance theory offense for your interpretation. I end up voting for no plan args frequently because the neg collapses/has no idea what to do.
4. Theory needs to come back with a vengeance
A. Entirely plan inclusive counterplans- I have never heard a theory argument to defend them that passes the minimum threshold explained above. That being said, winning a solvency deficit against them is basically impossible.
B. More than 2 conditional counterplans is just you being a chazzer
C. K frameworks/roles of the ballot that stack the deck absurdly are worse than entirely plan inclusive counterplans
D. Reject argument not team produces terrible debates with very bad strategies. Voting on theory doesn't fix this, but it improves it substantially.
5. I believe you have a choice
A. Clearly articulate your ground/say as much in CX
B. Because your position is vague you are susceptible to a reduced credibility modifier that taints many of your arguments. Plan vagueness affects plan solvency, alternative vagueness affects.... etc.
6. IMO there are, in fact, risks of things. Debaters should be aware of this and make arguments about how I should resolve risk. The plan may be popular with 5 people and unpopular with 6, should I place more emphasis on the number of people or maybe are those 5 more important? Very few link cards establish such a clear threshold that you can say with certainty (when contested) yes definite link. (this point is largely irrelevant now as the tides of history have turned and no risk people have been successfully marginalized)
7. I will always defer to debater argument resolution if one side does it and the other doesn't-no matter how bad or illogical I think the argument is. This is to me, the most important part of debate.
8. I try really hard to flow well. Teams who willfully ignore line by line/structure - I will not do work for you to figure things out if the other team does line by line barring some argument why I should.
9. I often call for lots of evidence after a debate, most of the time this is just out of curiosity. When making my decision evidence is only a factor when it is a point of contest or someone has made an argument for why it should be a part of the decision. I am not a judge who reads every card from both sides and makes a decision based on the evidence.
10. Evidence quality in debate is in terminal decline. If you have good evidence and you make an issue of it in the debate (talk about quals, or recency for uniqueness) you will most likely crush.
Making a decision:
Everything is debatable but speech times: The role of the ballot, whether evidence or analytic arguments are more important, is it acceptable for the other team to read off their computers, who gets presumption and why etc. If neither team makes an argument on the issue, the following are my defaults:
1. Evidence and analytic arguments are treated equally- I will look at the total sum of explanation offered for an argument, from any form. So if a well explained analytical will beat a poorly written piece of evidence. If one teams reads qualifications and the other doesn't, the team who read quals will receive a slight bump in the level of quality I assess to their explanation (assuming all other factors are equal). Treating them as equal until told otherwise is my way of encouraging debate.
2. Presumption, in the case of a tie or too close to call resolution of an argument, goes to the team advocating the least change. I would use presumption in the instance where each team had an advocacy and an offensive argument, and each team dropped a terminal defense argument to their own offense such that the net risk in either direction of presented offense was exactly zero. In that instance the "hidden disad" of change makes sense as a decision making tool. In no other circumstance I can think of would I use presumption unless explicitly instructed by the debaters.
3. If an argument is unresolveable (or tough to resolve) I will use a "needs" test- the burden of explanation will be assessed to the team who NEEDS the argument to win. So for example
-on a CP permutation, if the neg would win the debate without the permutation, then the aff needs it to win- so the burden of explanation is on them
-for CP solvency, if the neg would lose if the CP did not solve the case, then the neg needs to win solvency- so the burden of explanation is on them
4. Concession= truth. If you drop epistemology comes first/is a side constraint, then it is. You can drop that framing issue and still win as long as you beat the link (that your epistemology is flawed), but you will not be allowed new answers to the impact. I use a reasonable person standard- if I was unaware that the 1NC presented a epistemology first argument (based on what was said in the 1NC, not my prior knowledge of the negative team), then if the aff says "they didn't say this, therefore our answers aren't new" I would allow it. But remember, everything is debatable. If the 2NR comes back and asserts it was clearly stated when they said XYZ, the aff has to disprove that.
5. The threshold for how good a response to an argument has to be is directly related to the quality of the initial argument. Saying "RANT" is sufficient to beat a lot of voting issues. If the other team answers RANT in their 2NC sever perms are a VI block, and thats all you say, you will be in trouble. Similarly, many counterplans (consult, recommendation, delay, lopez) are easily defeated by theory arguments but almost impossible to beat on substance. A well rounded debater should avoid trying to ice skate uphill.
6. I spend a lot of time on debate. Other than eating and playing video games, basically all of my time is spent cutting cards, coaching, writing and reading about debate. A lot of judges say "I'm not a very good flow". I'm a very good flow, I may even go as far as to say probably one of the best. All that being said, it is very possible that you could say a string of words, or utter a quote from an article I have written that fully conveys your argument to me, but would leave a less experienced/judge with a life with no idea what you were saying/what your argument was. I try to temper this fact by using a "reasonable person" standard for what makes a complete argument. I feel this is essential because otherwise any student who was in my lab, had emailed me a question, or had just read a lot of the 3NR would have an absurdly unfair advantage vs a similarly skilled student. So if I made a joke in lab about saying "purple monkey dishwasher" and that meaning "we do the whole plan minus the reps", so you say that in a debate and expect me to vote on it, I won't. Unless you are debating someone else from the lab who had equal access to that information. Similarly, even if I flowed an argument/got the jist of what you were saying, but feel that the other team is being reasonable when they say your argument was poorly explained/did not constitute an argument I will be open to that and you need to respond.
1. I like fast debate. That being said, some people give fast debate a bad name. You can be fast only after you are clear and efficient. I should be able to understand every word you say, not just the tags. If you are stammering (or displaying other verbal missteps) excessively you are going faster than you are capable of going imo.
2. Points are determined by how well you perform your function, which depends on what speeches you give. A 1AC should be perfectly smooth because you can practice it as much as you want. A 2NC assembled on the fly vs a new case can be excused a few missteps on the other hand. I think auto giving the 1N low points because they could be replaced by a robot in most debates is a bit unfair- a blazing fast 1NC and devastating 1NR can be game changing. That being said, rarely do people perform up to that level.
3. Points are assessed relative to the field in which you are competing. The same speech can be a 29 at a local, but a 27.5 at St Marks.
What is your threshold for T?
The threshold is established by the other teams answers- if they make good defensive arguments and argue reasonability well than my threshold will be high. If they don't it will be very low.
What are you favorite kinds of debate?
Ones in which there are clash, since that is not really a thing anymore its usually impact turn debates- heg bad, de-dev, CO2 ag and warming good- loved to go for these when I debated and love to see them debated now. CO2 ag is the upper limit of stupid I think is acceptable.
Did you run kritiks when you debated?
Not as much as Bricker would want you to believe. My senior year in HS and my senior year in college I went for K's about 30% of the time, in the other years of my debate less than 5%.
Did you ever read a critical aff?
By today's standards no- I always had a plan, though sometimes the advantages were not nuke war.
You bash the politics disad a lot, will you still vote for it?
Yes, almost always because the affirmative never does anything of the things that highlight the problem with politics.
Are you OK with speed?
Yes, if anything I dislike slow debate. However this is a double edged sword- if you do fast debate terribly I will punish you for it.
Is Fem IR beatable?
What race do you play in SC2?
Usually random, but if I pick -zerg.
If you were in Game of Thrones, which house would you belong to?
A note on jumping:
I want to see good debates. I'm not interested in charging you 10 seconds of prep to jump your speeches. If, however, you show total technical incompetence at jumping/severely delay the round your speaks will suffer. A good jump is like a good road map- its not hard, so get it over with quickly.
Standards for sharing should be reciprocal, and as such are established by the team willing to do the least. If Team A doesnt jump speeches as a policy that is fine by me, but then Team B is under no obligation to let Team A see any of their evidence. If Team A doesn't jump analytics, Team B doesn't have to etc.
A note on quality:
I generally believe that there are certain "norms" in debate- don't steal prep time, don't clip cards etc. These norms are not rules, and as such as a judge I don't think its my job to enforce them. In fact, I think it SHOULD be the burden of a good team to be on top of is the other team stealing prep, are they clipping cards etc. Encouraging students to take responsibility for this is the best model imo. However, there are debates where there is a huge mismatch in terms of the quality of the teams involved. I no longer think it reasonable to expect novices entered in their first varsity tournament to check to see if the Baker Award winning team they are debating is stealing prep. I also don't really care to argue with you about whether or not you are stealing prep. So my solution is that for all things that could be considered a violation of good sportsmanship I will severely jack your points if it is a debate where I subjectively decide the other team should not be responsible for checking you.SO
-If I think you are clipping cards/stealing prep/misquoting evidence/lying in cx in the finals of the TOC vs another excellent team I would expect the other team to catch you
-If I think you are clipping cards/stealing prep/misquoting evidence/lying in cx during a preset vs a vastly inferior team I will severely dock your speaker points
Hey I’m Jazmine.
(Updates for clash debates will be loaded by 1.20.23, the below is still relevant)
Yes I want to be on the email chain: email@example.com
Had a long paradigm from 3 years ago most of it word vomit so I’ll keep it simple.
I know I’ll be in clash debates as I should. Most will think I lean on one side of the "fight" which is probably true but anyone who claims neutrality is lying to ur face. So I’ll say that I have predispositions HOWEVER, I DO NOT AUTO vote on the K or vote against fwk since as a coach I develop arguments on both sides. Don’t believe me? Well check the wikis;). MY Rule of thumb is if your logic is circular and self referential with no application to what is happening in the debate or how these competing theories (Debate as a game, state good, etc. are theories so you’re not out of this comment) structure how I should be evaluating top level framing and the ballot then yea I’m not your judge [FOR BOTH SIDES]. Point out the tautology and implicate it with some defense to solvency or have it lower the threshold for how much you have to win your competing interpretation (or interpretation) and let’s debate it out.
K on K, I’m smart and pick up on levels of comprehension BUT make it make sense. The buzzword olympics was cool but I want to see where the LINKS or POINTS of difference where ever you are drawing them from so I know what does voting AFF mean or What does voting NEG mean.
like I said simple. I appreciate the linguistic hustle and am into the game, but play the damn game instead of stopping at intrinsic statements of "Debate is a game and that presumption is valid because that’s just the way it has to be because MY DA’s! :/" or "This theory of the world is true and since I entered it into the chat I win..." IMPLICATE THE PRESUMPTIONS with solvency thresholds, framing thresholds PLEASE!
THanks for coming over.
4 years at BVSW
Current Sophomore debating at Missouri State
add me to chains: elidebate35[at]gmail[dot]com
Not the best judge to have a planless debate in front of
Have done 0 research on the HS topic so keep that in mind
Competing Interps> reasonability in a T debate
Condo is good but its a debate to be had
I think that if you are reading a planless aff an advocacy statement should be part of the aff, I think it needs to be in the area of the topic and if it's not, I'm going to be very persuaded by framework. I think procedural fairness is an impact in the round and will be persuaded by it. I may be persuaded by structural fairness outweighs, but more then likely not unless very well done. The best chance a K aff has is to win a DA or a broader impact turn. If you do end up reading a k aff in front of me, I may not have a great evaluation. K v K has a decent chance of being completely lost on me unless it's a k i've gone for.
If the answer to the K is Framework and a perm, please go for it (Change due to KCKCC
I'm not deep in the lit so don't expect me to know the nuances of Baudrillard or arguments like that. I think that specific links to the aff are good and the more specific the better. I don't think links of omission are good and am very unlikely to vote on them. If you are a K team don't be deterred to go for what you feel comfortable going for but if it's really high theory explanations go a long way.
Cps should be textually and functionally competitive with the aff. This is what I have gone for in college and am very comfortable voting on them. you should make a sufficiency framing arg. I default judge kick if nothing is said in the round.
Great. I am ok with generic links but at some point in the debate you should make an arg as to why it applies to this aff specifically not just the topic as a whole. you should have impact calc in every block and in the 2nr as well.
T's a voting issue and comes before most aff theory, RVI's are not
Glenbrook North- he/him
Important update- I expect debaters I am judging to wear a mask the entire time I'm in the room, including while speaking. If you aren't okay with that, feel free to preclude or strike me. I promise I won't be offended.
T-Article 5 is the worst popular T argument I have ever seen. It is unwinnable. Don't even read it in the 1NC. The 2AC can entirely ignore it, I don't care it, I'm not voting on it.
Kritiks: Probably a bad idea in front of me
Non topical affs: You definitely want to strike me
Odds and ends:
This is not all inclusive of my thoughts. I have been in debate for a long time. Flow and respond to what the other team has said.
"Can you send a marked copy" is a reasonable pre-cx request. "Marked copy" means any cards they started reading but didn't finish should be marked. "Marked copy" doesn't mean the team sends a version of the doc that omits cards they skipped entirely. If you ask for the latter, I'm taking 30 seconds of prep away from you.
Everything needs to be in one speech doc. Getting everything together in one speech doc is prep. I stop prep when you've sent the doc.
No inserting anything into the debate besides like charts or graphics (things that can't be read aloud). If you won't take the time to say it, I won't take the time to read it. This includes rehighlightings, perm texts, etc.
I generally flow cross-x but won't guarantee I'll pay attention to questions after cross-x time is up.
Experience: I debated for 4 years at Notre Dame in CA (2011-2015); University of San Francisco (BA in Psychology); JD from UC Davis School of Law (2022). Previously taught 4 classic week labs at University of Michigan Debate Camp.
Specialize in Environmental Law (air and water cases) + business litigation.
tldr: I'll judge anything but I like policy debates more. Just make warranted arguments and tell me how I should vote and why.
- steal prep and I'm docking points
- don't make your opponent send you a marked doc for just 1-2 marked cards - that is something you should be tracking - I notice this is something teams do and then they just use the time to keep prepping their next speeches and that's giving me the ick
1. I am definitely very, very flow oriented. That being said, to have a full argument you need to make a claim, warrant, and impact. If those things aren't there, I'd rather not do the work for you and simply reward the team that did.
2. Other than that, you do you. I'm down to listen to anything you want to talk about if you can defend it well.
3. I'm super easy to read. If I'm making faces, it's probably because I am confused or can't understand what you're saying. If I'm nodding, that is generally a good thing.
4. Be good people. There's nothing I hate more than people being unnecessarily rude.
5. There is always a risk of something, but a low risk is almost no risk in my mind when compared to something with a high risk.
6. I'll always prioritize good explanation of things over bad cards. If you don't explain things well and I have to read your evidence and your evidence sucks, you're in a tough spot. That being said, I would rather not call for cards, but if you think that there is a card that I simply need to read, then say so in your speech.
7. Tasteful jokes/puns are always accepted. They can be about anything/anyone (ie Jacob Goldschlag) as long as its funny :)
Topicality: I love topicality debates because they're techy and force debaters to really explain what they are talking about in terms of impacts. That being said, 2nr's/2ar's really need to focus on the impact debate and explain to me why education is an impact or why I should prefer a limited topic over an unlimited one. Reasonability is debatable. I was a 2n in high school and I lean towards a more limited topic, but I'm very easily persuaded otherwise.
K Aff's: I am very convinced by most framework arguments on the negative side. I think that K aff's need to be closer to the resolution than not and I do not think that many of them are. However, this does not mean that I will not vote for a K aff; I just have had trouble understanding the proliferation of Baudrillard and Bataille affs, so if you are aff, you will definitely need to be doing a higher level of experience. I think Cap K's versus these aff's can be very persuasive, but I also think Framework makes a lot of sense if the aff isn't topical. That being said, do you and make smart args. I'm not the most literate in a lot of high-theory literature, so if you want to play that game in front of me, do it BUT explain your theories and I'll catch on quick.Framework: I think that "traditional" framework debates fall prey to a big exclusion DA from the aff. I think we should be able to talk about K affs and that they should be included in the topic - HOWEVER I believe that K aff's do need to prove that they are topical in some way. I lean more towards the neg in framework debates because I do think that many K aff's have little to do with the topic, but there have been so many times when K aff's actually engage the topic in a great way. That being said, on the aff be closer to the resolution and on the neg, explain how your interpretation and model of debate interacts with the aff. Most teams forget that the aff will always try to weigh their impacts against framework, which sucks because it is hard to resolve real world impacts versus theoretical arguments about fairness and education.
Theory: I will most likely lean neg on most theory questions unless a CP is simply very, very abusive, but even those can be defended sometimes :)
Disads: I love disads, specifically the politics DA. Prioritize impact work! Despite my love for DA's, most of them are dumb and you can easily convince me that they are dumb even using analytics and indicting the neg's evidence. However, I still love DA's and wish I got to go for them more in high school. Good politics debates make me happy.
Counterplans: Everything is debatable in terms of theory, so do you. If a CP is very abusive, hopefully the aff says so. If the aff concedes planks of your CP, you should make sure you say that. I think all CP's need a solvency advocate, otherwise it will be hard for the neg to win solvency and potentially theory.
Kritiks: I really like the K when the link debate is specific and I can articulate a SPECIFIC link and reasons why the aff is bad. Fair warning - I am not the most literate in high-theory arguments. This doesn't mean I won't listen to your Baudrillard K's, but it means that I have a very high threshold for SPECIFIC links and also simple explaination of the argument since I will most likely be confused until you explain yourself. The neolib k was my baby in high school and I think it answers everything. Security was Notre Dame's main thing when I was there so go for that too. Teams need to explain what I need to prioritize first, whether that is epistemology, reps, framework, or whatever, just make sure you say so! I don't like overviews and I am a big believe in putting your link and impact work where it makes sense on the line by line because it will always make sense somewhere.
carrollton sacred heart '17
university of michigan '21
yes, i want speech docs – firstname.lastname@example.org
I lean neg ideologically, but I have in the past voted for affs without plan texts. The reason for this is because I think that affs that try to go for a more middle ground approach with a robustly defended counter-interp are strategic against the way that many debaters go for framework/T. I often think about "framework" debates the same way I think about topicality/competing interpretations: what does debate look like in a world of the aff vs the neg? I strongly dislike debates where the aff doesn't defend their own interpretation of what debate should look like but instead leverage 15 mini impact turns to T that might just be inevitable/not resolved by the aff's interp.
Please slow down
I have a decent knowledge of the topic/what affs are popular so I'm pretty comfortable judging these debates. Evidence quality matters a lot to me in T debates, and the better your interp ev is the better your chances are
it's a voting issue, no RVIs, this isn't LD
I tend to be aff leaning with process CPs – If your CP tries to “compete” based on immediacy or certainty, it probably doesn’t compete. Additionally, if your CP leads to whatever the plan mandates, does it in some arbitrary way, or adds a part to the plan, I am likely to vote on the perm. If you are extending a permutation in the 1ar, it should be explained way beyond three words for me to evaluate it – what it does and how it shields the link, etc. Otherwise, I'll likely protect the 2nr from 2ar extrapolation.
If you have aff-specific or topic-specific ev to support the CP, I'll likely err neg on competition/theory.
Aff – winning a credible solvency deficit is important. Ideally, there should be evidentiary support or an internal link chain from which you can base the solvency deficit.
You read death good = you get 20-21 points (whoever said it first gets 20) and a fat L
Other than the death good stuff, I'm probably better for most K debates than people think. I am in grad school for English/Info studies and have a pretty decent understanding of most critical literature.
Identity args - I'm not the best for over-arching ontology arguments - I am particularly hesitant to assign a universal political and/or social identity to an entire population. I am particularly uncomfortable in debates where non-black debaters make Wilderson's argument about all black people experiencing social death or anything analogous to that.
Theory arguments vs the link are usually not winners for me
Block/2nr impact calc is one of the most important things that determine my decision. My decision will be the easiest if you win that the disadvantage outweighs and controls a larger internal link to solving the aff impacts/advantages than the aff actually does.
There can be 0% risk of an impact – don’t underestimate defense.
Might be an area of disagreement for some, but I think the politics link can be non-unique – it’s best if the 2ac reads a card on it.
Again, aff-specific ev is a gamechanger for competition and theory questions - but these are my defaults:
Condo – good
PICs – good
Word PICs – depends on ev, but when the ev is decent these are awesome to judge
International / 50 state fiat – usually good
Agent CPs – good
Floating PIKs – bad
SPEC – set it up in cross-ex, or I won’t vote on these
If it’s not conditionality, I’ll probably default to rejecting the argument, not the team. But, that's just a default - I can be persuaded otherwise.
Best of luck and have fun!
UC Berkeley '23
Okemos High School '19
My name is Akash Rathod and I am a freshman at UC Berkeley. I did four years of Policy Debate at Okemos High School (Okemos, MI). I qualified to the TOC with 3 bids reading mostly kritikal arguments on both the Aff and Neg (Settler Colonialism, Afropess, Psychoanalysis, Deleuze, Baudrillard). However, don’t let that influence your thoughts on me as a judge. I have found many “policy” debates much more interesting/enjoyable than many “k v k” debates. Go for whatever you think is the best strategy to win the debate and execute it to the best of your ability – I will be happy regardless of the specific content.
There is no argument I am not willing to listen to. Debate is a space to explore your intellectual interests and be creative, so you should take advantage of that. So, if you like going for the politics DA, go for it. However, you should refrain from arguments that directly attack a person’s identity (such as racism good, sexism good, etc.). I am perfectly ok with listening to extinction good.
Tech > truth – as long as an argument has some warrant attached to it, it is true until addressed by the other team. I will do my best to protect the 2NR.
Topic Knowledge – I have some familiarity with the topic, however, it will benefit you to explain complicated nuances and to spell out acronyms (only once).
I flow on my computer and like being able to line arguments up.
My email is akashrathod2019 (at) gmail (dot) com. I would like to be added to the email chain. You can also email me if you have any questions about my paradigm or want additional feedback about the round.
I will try to keep speaks in the range of 28 – 29.5.
Speaker points will be determined by your persuasiveness, clarity, and strategic mindset. Smart debaters will always outspeak debaters who are just really clear.
I won’t hack for your K – you must do the work of explaining your argument.
I don’t mind a long overview, but I would prefer it if all relevant parts could be moved to the line-by-line. I would prefer it if links were done somewhere on the line-by-line (I don’t care where just don’t put them in the overview). Also, labeling links with cool names is good.
Specificity is key – if you aren’t doing the work to show why the 1AC specifically is bad (by pulling lines from their evidence and contextualizing your 1NC cards to the action of the plan), I am likely going to buy the perm solves. You don’t need links to the plan, but you should try to contextualize your generic links to the 1AC as much as possible.
You don’t need an alt, but you should spend time framing what my ballot means in a world where there is no alt to resolve the K’s impacts.
“K tricks” are fine but be smart with them – don’t just throw stuff at the wall and see if something sticks.
FW is important – you should very clear offense here as well as defensive arguments. Having good framing cards in the 1NC (especially if you are going one-off) is important. I can be persuaded that I shouldn’t evaluate the plan.
Demonstrating robust knowledge of your theory, as opposed to constantly reading blocks off your computer, will likely boost your speaks.
FW should never be “Ks bad.” Winning the FW debate for the Aff requires having a clear reason why your model of debate is good (e.g. fairness, political deliberation, etc) and making sure you answer all the neg’s tricks (e.g. Antonio 95, fiat is illusory, etc.). Being technical here is very key and I can be convinced to weigh only the consequences of plan action.
Perms should be thoroughly explained by the 1AR.
I think a lot of the common “policy tricks” (pragmatism, extinction first, etc.) make a lot of intuitive sense, but you still need to do a good job establishing them.
Coming into the debate with a strong understanding of the neg’s position will help you immensely, so you should be reading their cards and making sure you use cross-x to really understand their argument. It will make it easier to find their weak spot.
K v K Debates
I can be convinced not to give the Aff a perm, but a lot of the neg’s arguments for why I shouldn’t are usually quite silly, but must be answered by the Aff.
Both teams need to have a robust number of historical examples.
Links and net-benefits to the perm should be clearly labeled.
While I read a K-Aff in high-school, I am very persuaded by a lot of the arguments by FW teams. You can definitely go for procedural fairness as an impact. I also like arguments about truth-testing/argumentative refinement and research. Explaining the importance of each these in the context of predictable limits can make a very easy neg ballot.
I am not very persuaded by impacts like dogmatism or state good. While I think there is some merit to the dogmatism impact, I haven’t heard a very strong argument about why that would outweigh any offense the Aff generally goes for. I think truth-testing functions as a much more persuasive defensive argument to mitigate a lot of the Aff offense. State good is more convincing to me as a K of the aff’s refusal of certain forms of political engagement.
TVAs don’t need to solve the Aff but should somehow align with the Aff’s criticism of the status quo. Having a card isn’t necessary but would be cool.
I am perfectly fine with a short 1NC shell with no cards other than definitions.
Impact turn stuff and you will probably be fine.
You don’t need a W/M.
You don’t even necessarily need a C/I – but it will make it harder for you to win unless you go for debate bad, which is perfectly fine.
Slow down when explaining your DAs – teams often breeze through several 1 or 2 sentences DAs that I can’t follow. Your 2AC analysis should have a clear warrant as to why the neg’s interpretation is bad, what the impact to that is, and how your interpretation solves. Examples here are key.
Defense is important, don’t forget it.
You should be very clear and upfront about why the TVA or reading it on the neg doesn’t solve.
Not much to say here. Impact calc is good and should be done sooner rather than later.
I don’t have many thoughts about CP theory – so do whatever you like. Words pics are probably not cool, but if you want to go for it.
You should probably have a solvency advocate. Using 1AC lines to justify a cp will boost your speaks.
I enjoy a really good T debate. Both teams should be doing a good job explaining what debate looks like under different interpretations of the topic.
I love a good impact turn debate. DeDev, Heg Good, Heg Bad, Warming Good, Extinction Good, etc. I love them all. Especially, against K-Affs or new Affs they can be very strategic and should be heavily utilized.
I will vote on new affs bad – given the neg can explain a coherent impact.
Don't clip. I will keep my eye out for it. If I catch it, I will warn you (unless it was egregious). If I catch you doing it again, I will give you 0 speaks and the loss. I will also allow the round to continue to the end.
If you believe the other team is clipping, start recording them and present the recording to me after the speech. I will listen and decide. You won't be penalized for calling out another team for clipping, as long as you do so in a manner that allows the round to continue smoothly.
If you are reading unhighlighted cards, I will expect you to read the whole thing, unless you clarify before your speech. If you don't, I will consider that as clipping.
35th year in the activity; lawyer and elected official these days…
-I vote for things that I don't like, the debate is yours to make what you will. That does not mean I have no opinions.
-T: compare evidence and impact T like a DA.
-Things I am unlikely to vote for: ticky-tacky debate; Inherency, "speed kills", claims without warrants, poorly debated T violations, "multiple perms bad".
Read a topical plan----------------------X--------------------say anything
Usually some risk---------x---------------------------------Zero Risk
Conditionality Good--------------------X----------------------Conditionality Bad
States CP Good------X------------------------------------States CP Bad
Process CPs------------------X------------------------Ew Process CPs
Competing off immediacy/certainty---------------x---------------------------No
Politics DAs are a thing-------------------x-----------------------Good Politics DAs are a thing
Read every card----------x--------------------------------Read no cards
Lots of evidence--------------------------------------x----Lots of good evidence
Judge Kick---------------------x---------------------Stuck with the CP
Reject the Team--------------X----------------------------Reject the Arg
CPs need cards--------------------------------------x----Smart CPs can be cardless
Competition is based off the plan----x--------------------------------------Neg gets to define the plan
Fiat solves circumvention---------------x---------------------------Trump's President
K alts need to do something-------------------------------X-----------but you're asking the wrong question
K links about the plan---------------X---------------------------K links about a broad worldview
Have fun and be kind.
Last updated pre-Michigan 2022
Policy debater at McQueen High School for 4 years (2015-2019), Policy debater at UMich (2019-2021).
Former coach of Glenbrook South and SLC West (2019-2021, 2022). Pursuing my Masters in Secondary Education.
Rounds judged on the 2022-2023 topic: 22
Please add me on the email chain: email@example.com
My pronouns are they/them. I am white. I am a friggin bum. I do live in a trailer with my mom. I have no need for trigger warnings. Don’t be mean and don’t be sexist/racist/homophobic etc.
I have no paradigms I explicitly look to for inspiration, but in life I am very inspired by Ricky LaFleur if that is any indication of my intelligence or judging style.
TL;DR: none of these are really hot takes, just debate well and explain stuff. Debate is about denial and error, don't be afraid to try something risky in front of me. I'm a middle-of-the-road judge, I judge a lot of clash debates.
*For Public Forum specific info, scroll to the bottom.
- Animal suffering is a relevant utilitarian consideration. You can beat animal Schopenhauer/human death good, it would be screwy if I auto-voted on that, but don’t assume I’m presumptively human-biased.
- If you run the “Speaks K”, I will auto-deduct .2 speaks.
- Accidentally using words like "stupid" or "crazy" is usually solved by an apology and would not warrant a loss.
- Write your plans/CPs correctly.
- I'd prefer you don't talk to me while your opponent is prepping.
******Thoughts on various arguments******
I feel like I’ve become somewhat neg leaning in T debates. This is because sometimes the aff is not good at extending offense to their interpretation when they don’t decisively meet the negative’s interp. I generally default to an offense/defense paradigm when evaluating T. So, affirmative, you need to have offense to your interp, or you need to persuasively explain why you meet their interp. Negative, not much to say for you here. One of the things you need to do is provide a positive and a negative caselist for your interp. Absent a positive caselist (i.e. the list of cases the aff could read), I find the aff’s overlimiting/predictability offense much more persuasive.
Also, it doesn't take rocket appliances to compare interpretation evidence, you should do it so I don't have to after the round and give you an RFD you won't like.
I like kritiks, I will listen to any kritik. I am a sucker for psychoanalysis and settler colonialism, but I like em all. Please be clear on what the alternative does and defend your worldview. I like links that are specific to the aff. I generally default to weighing the aff against a competitive alternative, unless someone tells me otherwise.
Role of the judge: Not to sleep through pairings, but I’m open to alternatives
Extinction first framing is persuasive to me, please spend time on this argument. I see a lot of K teams in high school blow this off and I have no idea why. It is a very easy way to lose the debate.
This is especially important if you are aff: perms need to have a perm text. Saying "perm", "extend the perm", and then not saying what the perm is or does irks me and doesn't constitute a complete argument. It is especially hard to evaluate when you have read 6 perms and then you just say "extend the perm" and I don't know which one you are going for.
Thoughts specific to antiblackness - I am most persuaded by specific examples on both sides. Explaining the three pillars and the libidinal economy to me isn't enough - I need specific examples of laws or actions that prove your theory as opposed to pure description.
Thoughts specific to settler colonialism - I am not sure how you can get to "settler colonialism/indigeneity etc. is ontological" by regurgitating gratuitous violence, natal alienation and general dishonor and applying it to indigenous people. Because of my thoughts above, I don't find this persuasive, but its double confusing for me because these are different areas of scholarship.
I love disads, which is unfortunate considering that there aren’t a lot of good ones on this topic. I read a lot of cards in DA/DA + CP debates, so my advice is to do a little ev comparison here and read good evidence to begin with. DAs start at 100 percent risk and the aff should take it down from there.
I am typically unpersuaded by short analytical turns case analysis in most disad overviews - I would recommend you read cards unless you can very persuasively explain a turns case argument without one.
Yay, I like counterplans! The more creative the better, get wild with it.
I like plan flaw debates and counterplan flaws matter. Write your counterplan texts correctly.
If the CP debate is gonna be heavy on CP competition, understand that English grammar/the dictionary don't interest me in the slightest and you're going to have to explain to me what a "transitive verb" is if it becomes relevant. And especially on this topic when the definition of the word "the" is apparently so important, for the love of god do some ev comparison or impact out what these definitions mean for debate-ability or something.
I love case debate. If you're negative, point out errors in aff construction and debate impact defense well. If you're affirmative, defend your baby.
Impact turn debates are my absolute favorite to judge, as they often are the best for evidence comparison and impact calculus iv you do them right.
I would prefer if you explicitly extended each impact you're going for in the 2AC. Listing a bunch off with no explanation or saying "we have impacts, they dropped them" makes impact comparison harder for me and it just isn't persuasive.
For soft left affs/framing: I'm sympathetic to probability claims coming from soft left affs but am much more persuaded by claims about why discussing structural violence impacts in debate is important or a deontology angle. For example, I would prefer you say "we should prioritize structural violence impacts in debate because that's what we are most likely to be able to engage with in real life/extinction framing indefinitely obscures structural violence" as opposed to "probability first = util" because the l think the latter is just untrue.
Non-plan affs/K affs
I used to say I wasn’t good for K aff debates, but people kept reading K affs in front of me and I realized I will vote for anything.
I think debate is a game, but you can still win a K aff. You can also persuade me that debate is something more than a game. I will listen K aff debates and evaluate them like I would any other round, but I have a few preconceptions that are relevant. If you're aff, leveraging your offense against clash/fairness/advocacy skills etc. is a good way to get me to vote aff. I am unpersuaded by affs that can't defend that there is some value in negating the aff unless your aff is some flavor of a) debate bad, b) a survival strategy, or c) anything where you argue that negation is bad or unnecessary.
If you're neg, the framework debate can be fairly generic but I think you should still address the components of the case debate that can be used as offense against framework. I am persuaded by procedural fairness as an impact, although I find that debates are easier to evaluate if you go for something external. I also enjoy when neg teams read a K or a DA against non-plan affs. It makes the debate much more interesting.
I don't unconditionally support conditionality. Feel free to go for condo bad if you're aff, just debate it well. Other theory issues are usually a reason to reject the argument, not the team (unless you just plain drop it).
I often notice that teams will read their generic theory block and not answer the specific standards of their opponent and then leave me to compare for them. If this happens in a theory debate, I usually just default to not rejecting the argument/team.
Although I might seem like I’m not paying attention, don’t judge a cover of a book by its look - I listen to cross examination intently, I just want to avoid staring at my computer screen during online debates so I don't get eye strain.
I’m okay with tag team cross ex but please don’t talk over your partner if you can help it. Remember, a link is only as long as your strongest long chain - it is better to develop CX skills and improve for the benefit of the partnership in the long term, so don’t worry if your partner sounds a little silly or if you think you can answer a question better than them. You can interrupt if needed, but don't make it egregious.
Stuff/people I like that you can reference in your speeches: Trailer Park Boys, Eminem, Minecraft, Kurt Fifelski and Thomas Nelson Vance. Ask your parents permission before seeking out info on any of this media.
Health tip – eat more soluble fiber!
Thanks for reading, have a fun round, and feel free to ask questions if my paradigm is unclear.
I have not judged much PF or LD and I have a limited understanding of some of the norms and practices of the event. I have seen a few rounds before so it’s not completely new to me. Odds are I will end up evaluating your round like I would evaluate a policy round, so see above. Counterplans (if that is what you call them) are presumed OK in my book unless someone convinces me otherwise. Spreading is also fine unless someone convinces me otherwise. I promise I have brain cells and I know what the topic is. Ask me questions if stuff in my paradigm doesn't make sense and I will explain it.
Updated Pre-Emory 1/9/2020
Email chain please: firstname.lastname@example.org
Professor and Assistant Director of Debate at Trinity University, Coach at St. Mark's School of Texas
I view my role as judge to be an argument critic and educator above everything else. As part of that, you should be mindful that a healthy attitude towards competition and the pursuit of kindness and respect are important.
Biases are inevitable but I have been in the activity for +10 years and heard, voted, and coached on virtually every argument. I genuinely do as much as possible to suspend my preconceived beliefs and default to explanation/comparison.
Quality > quantity – 1NC’s with a high volume of bad arguments will have a hard ceiling on speaker points & I will generously allow new 1AR arguments.
Speed is the number of winnable arguments you can communicate to your judge. I will usually say “clear” twice before I stop flowing your speech. If you can't flow or comprehend your partner that's a problem. If you don't sign-post I am likely to give-up on flowing your speech.
I try to flow CX so please make reference. CX is about LISTENING and responding – let your opponent finish their answer/question, acknowledge it, and then move to the next point. Be polite if you have to interrupt.
Everyone should give two speeches. I’ll only flow the assigned person during speeches.
Framework --- I’ve voted on all kinds of different impact arguments. Debate has wide-ranging value to folks and I think you should be willing to defend why it’s important to you in any given situation. Defense can be very compelling: Neg teams should win an overarching theory of how their model absorbs/turns the 1ac’s offense with explanations of switch-side or TVA examples that interface well with the aff. The TVA should be a proof of concept, not a CP. Aff teams should win a counter-interp/alternative model of what debate looks like OR terminal offense to the neg’s model of debate. Above everything, you should think strategically and react instead of just reading some dusty, generic blocks.
Gbs ‘16 Michigan ‘20
Please add email@example.com
I debated at GBS for four years and at Michigan for two. I’ve coached high school intermittently since 2016.
I haven’t cut any cards on the topic as of this writing but I know a good amount about nato and the cooperation areas through my job/school/previous debate experience - you can expect that I’ll understand the concepts and implications of your arguments but not that I have any exposure to communal consensus around the validity of any given topic strategy. This is most important if you decide to go for topicality.
My most important preferences by far are that you limit your overviews to 30 seconds or less, do rigorous line by line in every speech after the 1nc, and avoid spreading long pre-written blocks. My decision will be better and your points will be (significantly) better if you are able to do these things.
You should read a plan. This isn’t out of malice, I just find framework debates extremely boring to judge and I almost always vote neg. I’m pretty good for the k if you’re neg, though.
I don’t have any hot takes about policy strategies. If it’s well prepared and/or I can tell you’re adapting strategically during the round, I will want to vote for you. I have a soft spot in my heart for ridiculous impact turns and rider das.
brubaie at gmail -- Please add to email chains, thank you
Updated March 2022 for championship season -- congratulations yall
1. Just do what you do and do it well! I like every "style" of debate and have been lucky to debate, coach, or judge most over these past two decades. Thank you for being stewards of a beautiful game at a pivotal moment in debate history.
2. Above all. The 2NR/2AR should clearly describe what the most important issue(s) in the debate are, why they're the most important issues, and how voting your way best addresses them. Choose, compare, and dig in on a few A+ arguments over a greater volume of A- arguments.
3. Framework. I judge quite a few framework debates and like them. I don't have a strong "lean," but I do notice some slight trends;
-- For the neg, I often find that leaning on fairness/some procedural impact is best. It's the thing the neg's interp most often clearly solves relative to a counter-interp. I think the TVA + aff doesn't solve combo is an effective strategy. I often find that lots of direct pushback vs. case (even without evidence) is necessary and effective. If you don't win some significant defense to the aff it can complicate most paths to victory.
-- For the aff, it helps to clarify a role for each side and to negate/impact turn the neg's interp from there. If you don't have a description of why debating the aff is good and/or how the other team can engage then it can complicate most paths to victory. I am more moved by "here's what the neg could do" than counter-interpreting "resolved." If the DA is business confidence and the aff says "we defend that businesses shouldn't exist and spot the DA" then that can be useful in articulating meaningful neg ground under the aff's interp.
4. Evidence quality. It's very important, but the key to activating it in my RFD is rebuttal framing. The way evidence is utilized and framed in the final rebuttals is usually the most important variable in how I assess it. The easiest way to hypothesize which evidence I read is a simple if/then: if I hear a clip/quote/even an author name referenced directly in the last speech then I'll 100% read it. Beyond that I'll read for comprehension but that is less likely to drive the outcome of my RFD than direct framing by debaters.
5. Counterplans/theory. Not the worst judge for a funky counterplan. Most common 2AC theory objections seem like competition concerns remedied by kicking the counterplan. I'm not terrible for conditionality bad, but that's almost always because of tech concerns like a flippant block that doesn't answer the 2AC than truth concerns like any real aversion to conditionality (I generally think it's good).
6. Topicality. I haven't really judged a big T throwdown this year. If you prefer someone with no set preferences I'm great, but if you want someone to adhere to consensus I'm afraid I'm unsure what consensus is and will need more explanation than most. Despite my unfamiliarity with many interps, T has generally been an efficient/low-risk/high reward block option in past rounds I've judged.
7. Critiques. The more a K identifies specific parts of the 1AC/2AC that it disagrees with, the better. The aff should attempt to identify which parts of the aff are offense, why only the aff solves them, and why they outweigh. I generally think the aff gets to weigh the aff and most neg framework arguments just seem like impact calculus.
8. National championships!! Congrats again yall :) March 2022 will mark my first tournament judging in person since February 2020. I am thrilled to see you all again and to celebrate all you've done for debate. I know it's the national championship and it's tough to relax, but try as hard as you can to just have fun and enjoy it. Debate goes by way too fast and is very easy to take for granted. Sending all who read this the best of luck and hope you can lift each other up and give each other some really fun, challenging debates to end the season.
Ashton Smith, Assistant Coach, Maine East High School
Maine East '16, University of Michigan '20 (Debated all 8 years)
*Update 10/9/20 - For College Debaters*
I have not done any topic-specific research. So, take into account my lack of topic knowledge.
-- Put me in the email chain: firstname.lastname@example.org
-- Most of my debate experience is "policy"-oriented. I have heard about various kritik arguments, but do not assume that I am well-read/deep in the literature. I am well-informed about this year's resolution.
-- I'm a technical, flow-oriented judge who will attempt to adjudicate the debate with as minimal intervention as possible on my part. Dropped arguments are (usually) true arguments. I appreciate tricky concessions that interact with other parts of the debate.
-- I think case-focused debates are the most interesting debates. I love impact turns and I think in-depth case analysis can substantially help negative strategies and affirmative wins against off case positions.
I'm a good judge for Topicality. I enjoy technical, well-defended interpretations of the topic. I am a fan of a well-defended reasonability argument, to contest evaluating these debates through competing interpretations. I do not immediately view any interpretation with a more limited topic as the better limit for the topic.
T-Substantial is a thing.
Regarding "Framework" - Procedural fairness is an impact, if articulated correctly.
Intelligent story telling with good evidence and analysis is something I like to hear. I generally will vote for teams that have better comparative impact analysis (i.e. they take into account their opponents’ arguments in their analysis). It is definitely possible to reduce risk to zero or close enough to it with defensive arguments, alone. This is difficult, but possible given the quality of DAs.
Counterplans are good and strategic. Read them. Debate them. I do have some issues with some PICs, Process CPs and other questionably justifiable positions.
Solvency advocates are good.
I really enjoy well-articulated kritiks that directly interact with the affirmative. I enjoy kritiks most when they’re read against kritikal affirmatives. In order to win, the negative must establish a clear story about 1) what the K is; 2) how it links; 3) what the impact is at either the policy level or: 4) pre-fiat (to the extent it exists) outweighs policy arguments or other affirmative impacts. Don’t just assume I will vote to reject their evil discourse, advocacy, lack of ontology, support of biopolitics, etc. Without an explanation I will assume a K is a very bad non-unique disadvantage. If you can make specific applications or read specific critical evidence to the substance of the affirmative, I will be much more likely to vote for you.
Re: Ontology - Too many debaters fail to fully engage the theory level debate and prove/contest metaphysical explanations for the world. In the context of some afropessimism kritiks, I appreciate a substantive debate about social death true/false.
I'm probably not the best judge to have in the back if you're reading a planless affirmative (because I spent the majority of negative debates against K affs defending T/Framework). However, I do have experience coaching "K teams" to win against framework. To win in front of me, have a good counter-interpretation and offense against their method for understanding the topic (to supplement a reasonability argument).
I do believe debate is a game. However, you can win that it is also more than a game.
I do appreciate K v K debates. A well-constructed kritik against a planless affirmative can yield a great debate. Many of my 1NRs against kritikal affirmatives (in college) were kritiks or case debates.
I love theory. Use it to attempt to limit our arguments that reduce the quality of debates or misuse negative fiat. I am least persuaded by "conditionality bad" if there are 3 or less conditional positions.
The lack of a solvency advocate bolsters most theory arguments. I believe that the existence of literature on a topic is important for affirmative preparation.
Most theory arguments are a reason to reject the argument unless there is an explanation of why I should reject the team.
Plan-inclusive Kritiks are probably bad but it’s not an immediate Affirmative ballot. I’ll evaluate both PIKs bad debates and framework on whatever happens in a specific debate.
-Yes, put me on the chain: email@example.com
-Coach at The Kinkaid School
-Coach at Dartmouth College, 2018-present
-Lab leader, University of Michigan 7-Week, 2016-present
-Assistant Director of Debate, Harvard-Westlake School, 2018-2022
I debated at the University of Central Oklahoma for 4 years and graduated in 2018.
-LD skip down to the bottom.
-No judge will ever like all of the arguments you make, but I will always attempt to evaluate them fairly. I appreciate judges who are willing to listen to positions from every angle, so I try to be one of those judges. I have coached strictly policy teams, strictly K teams, and everything in between because I enjoy all aspects of the game. Debate should be fun and you should debate in the way that makes it valuable for you, not me. My predispositions about debate are not so much ideological as much as they are systematic, i.e. I don't care which set of arguments you go for, but I believe every argument must have a claim, warrant, impact, and a distinct application. Tech and truth both matter. Evidence quality matters a lot to me. Stop reading cards that don't have a complete sentence and get off my lawn. I strive to be as non-interventionist as possible. Impact framing/judge instruction will get you far. The predispositions I have listed below are my general heuristics I use when making a decision, but I will ultimately vote for the team who wins their argument, even if it strays from these conventions. I appreciate debaters who do their thing and do it well.
-Don't base your strategy off of your (probably incorrect) assumptions about my own debate career.
-For everyone: Stop being afraid of debate. Cowardice is annoying. Don't run away from controversy just because you don't like linking to things. If you don't like defending arguments, or explaining what your argument actually means, please consider joining the marching band.
-I am growing increasingly annoyed at teams who try to proliferate as many incomplete arguments as possible in the 1NC. If your strategy is to read 5 disads in the 1NC that are missing UQ, or internal links, I will give the aff almost infinite leeway in the 1AR to answer your inevitable sandbagging. I would much rather see well-highlighted, complete positions than the poor excuse of neg arguments that I'm seeing lately. No one likes cards that could be read as fortune cookies.
-I don't mind being post-rounded or being asked a lot of questions. I did plenty of post-rounding as a debater and I recognize it doesn't always stem from anger or disrespect. That being said, don't be a butthead. I appreciate passionate debaters who care about their arguments and I am always willing to meet you halfway in the RFD.
-I'm grumpy, but I promise I care a lot.
-Camera policy: I would strongly prefer that we all keep our cameras on during the debate, but I obviously recognize the very real and valid reasons for not having your camera on. I will never penalize you for turning your camera off, but if you can turn it on, let's try. I will always keep my camera on while judging.
-Tech glitches: it is your responsibility to record your speeches as a failsafe. I encourage you to record your speeches on your phone/laptop in the event of a tech glitch. If a glitch happens, we will try to resolve it as quickly as possible, and I will follow the tournament's guidelines.
-Slow down a bit in the era of e-sports debate. I'll reward you for it with points. No, you don't have to speak at a turtle's pace, but maybe we don't need to read 10-off?
Topicality: Everyone needs to have evidence that has the intent to define whatever word/phrase is being contested. Evidence that offhandedly mentions how one rando decided to define 'substantial CJR' doesn't cut the mustard. *Predictable* limits outweighs limits merely for the sake of limits.
Framework: I vote for framework and I vote against it. I judge a lot of "clash" debates and I'm probably even in terms of my voting record. In my ideal world, affs would defend a clear, controversial advocacy that has predictable neg ground against it, but I understand that debate isn't about me. Affs should have a counter interpretation/model of debate they think is desirable. I am less likely to vote aff solely on impact turns because I really need to know what the aff's 'vision of debate' looks like compared to the neg. I understand that going HAM on impact turns is sometimes more strategic, so if that's really your style you should stick to it, but you must contextualize those impact turns to whatever DAs the neg is going for and do comparative impact work. I find myself voting neg a lot just by virtue of the aff never doing impact calculus. Unpersuaded by the argument that topical versions should have to solve literally everything ever in a 9 minute speech. Judge instruction is extremely important: please tell me what to evaluate first, what matters more, etc. I'm fine with any 'flavor' of framework- procedural fairness, clash, movement lawyering, etc. Do your thing. The neg needs to explain how the TVAs access the aff's general theory/scholarship, what those affs look like, and how it (could) resolve the aff's impact turns.
Critical affirmatives (no plan): Beyond what I have said about framework, there are a few things you can do to ensure we're on the same page. First, I need you to answer the question of "but what do you doooo tho?!" even though that question seems obsolete. I don't need a 5 minute overview explaining every part of the aff. I really just need to know what I am voting for and why that thing is good, which seems simple, but in many debates I am left wondering what I'm supposed to vote for. Second, I am often persuaded by presumption if the neg invests a decent amount of time into going for it properly. To counter this, make sure you do the minimum of answering the BWDYDT?! question above, and perhaps give me a different way of thinking about presumption as it applies to critical affirmatives. Third, you need to have a solid relationship to/critique of the resolution. If you read 9 minutes of structural claims about the world and say virtually nothing about the resolutional mechanism, we're not going to be on the same page.
Disads: I will reiterate an important component: do not hand me a stack of cards at the end of a debate that do not have complete sentences. I would rather read 5, solid, well-highlighted UQ cards than 10 poopy cards that say "it'll pass but it's clooooose!" without ever highlighting anything beyond that sentence. Uniqueness controls the direction of uniqueness and the link controls the direction of the link- not sure why that's controversial.
Counterplans: My only predisposition is that I tend to think conditionality is probably good, in most circumstances. Some teams try to get away with murder, though. Yes, I have voted on 'condo bad'. I lean neg when the CP is based in the literature and there's a reasonable solvency advocate. I lean aff when the CP meets neither of those conditions. When the neg does not have a solvency advocate for their 567 analytic planks, I am persuaded by smart aff arguments about enforcement, implementation, circumvention, etc. Judge kick: will only judge kick if told to do so, assuming the aff hasn't made any theoretical objections.
-For everyone, please focus on argument development and application in these debates rather than reading 15 backfile cards that all say the same thing.
-Stop with the mega overviews. I am not one who will particularly like the style of 6 minute overviews, and then answering the line by line with "ya that was the overview"-- just say those things on the line by line!
-Really hate it when the first question of 1AC CX is, "why vote aff?"
-1 card Ks in the 1NC can sufficiently be responded to with a thumbs down + fart noise. No, but seriously.
-If your strategy involves going for some version of "all debate is bad, this activity is meaningless and only produces bad people" please consider who your audience is. Of course you can make arguments about flaws in specific debate practices, but you should also recognize that the "debate is irredeemable" position is a tough sell to someone who has dedicated her life to the activity and tries to make it better.
-Floating PIKs: if the neg makes a PIK that clearly ~floats~ and it's flagged as such, it's up to the aff to call it out. I won't do the theory work for you. If you can't identify it/flush it out in CX, you deserve to lose.
-Examples are incredibly helpful in these debates, especially when making structural claims about the world.
-If you clip, you will lose the round and receive 0 speaker points. I will vote against you for clipping EVEN IF the other team does not call you on it. I know what clipping is and feel 100% comfortable calling it. Mark your cards and have a marked copy available.
-If you cite or cut a card improperly, I evaluate these issues on a sliding scale. For example, a novice accidentally reading a card that doesn't have a complete citation is obviously different from a senior varsity debater cutting a card in the middle of a sentence or paragraph. Unethical evidence practices can be reasons to reject the team and/or a reason to reject the evidence itself, depending on the unique situation. I have no problem voting against you for shady practices. I will happily stop the round and vote against the cheater.
-Shady disclosure practices result in you catching the L. Stop being a coward.
-If I say "clear" more than two times I will stop flowing. I say clear more than most judges because debaters are getting away with murder in terms of clarity.
-If you are a jerk to novices or inexperienced debaters your max for speaker points is a hot 25.
-Biggest pet peeve: debaters being unnecessarily difficult in cross-ex. This includes asking absurdly vague/irrelevant questions and debaters refusing to answer questions. This also includes cutting people off, and giving excessively drawn out answers to questions that can be answered efficiently. Please recognize that cross-ex is a mutual part of the debate.
-Be respectful to each other, which includes your partner. Pettiness/sarcasm is appreciated, but recognize there is a line and you shouldn't cross it. You should never, ever make any jokes about someone else's appearance or how they sound.
-If there are any access requirements, just let me know.
-At no point will I allow outside participation in the round.
-Hot take: I strongly believe the community is beginning to use arguments about trigger warnings in counterproductive ways. Trigger warnings are not designed to be used whenever someone says the words "gender violence" or when a team describes some form of structural violence. I find deployments of trigger warnings in these situations to be disingenuous and harmful. This is not to say that you can never make arguments about trigger/content warnings (sometimes they definitely make sense), but I urge you to consider whether or not the content in question actually requires such warning.
Updated September 2020 to reflect efficiency and a few changes.
Tldr; I come from an exclusively policy background. I had zero experience in LD before I started coaching HW. This means everything you do is largely filtered through my experience in policy debate, and I have outlined my thoughts on those arguments in the above sections. This is why I am a horrible judge for LD shenanigans and will not tolerate them. So many acceptable LD arguments would be nonstarters in policy, and I will not vote for incomprehensible arguments just because other judges will. I don't say this to disparage someone's preferred form of debate, but I really can't vote for arguments that do not pass the 'makes sense' test. I care deeply about the educational aspects of debate, and will always try to help you improve. However, I am going to hold the line when ridiculous arguments are involved. See the FAQ below to determine if you should pref me.
Q: I read a bunch of tricks/meta-theory/a prioris/paradoxes, should I pref you?
A: No thank you.
Q: I read phil, should I pref you?
A: I'm not ideologically opposed to phil arguments like I am with tricks. I do not judge many phil debates because most of the time tricks are involved, but I don't have anything against philosophical positions.
Q: I really like Nebel T, should I pref you?
A: No, you shouldn't. I'm sure he's a nice and smart guy, but cutting evidence from debate blogs is such a meme. If you'd like to make a similar argument, just find non-Nebel articles and you'll be fine. This applies to most debate coach evidence read in LD. To be clear, you can read T:whole rez in front of me, just not Nebel cards.
Q: I like to make theory arguments like 'must spec status' or 'must include round reports for every debate' or 'new affs bad,' should I pref you?
A: Not if those arguments are your idea of a round-winning strategy. Can you throw them in the 1NC/1AR? Sure, that's fine. Will I be persuaded by new affs bad? No.
Q: Will you ever vote for an RVI?
A: Nope. Never. I don't flow them.
Q: Will you vote for any theory arguments?
A: Of course. I am good for more policy-oriented theory arguments like condo good/bad, PICs good/bad, process CPs good/bad, etc.
Q: Will you vote for Ks?
A: Of course. Love em. See policy section.
Any other questions can be asked before the round or email me.
Name : Lauren Velazquez
Affiliated School: Niles North
I debated competitively in high school in the 1990s for Maine East. I participated on the national circuit where counterplans and theory were common.
Director of Debate at Niles North
I competed in the 90s, helped around for a few years, took a bit of a break, have been back for about 7 years. My teams compete on the national circuit, I help heavily with my teams’ strategies, and am a lab leader at a University of Michigan. In recent years I have helped coach teams that cleared at the TOC, won state titles and consistently debated in late elim rounds at national tournaments. TL/DR--I am familiar with national circuit debate but I do not closely follow college debate so do not assume that I am attuned to the arguments that are currently cutting edge/new.
What this means for you---I lean tech over truth when it comes to execution, but truth controls the direction of tech, and some debate meta-arguments matter a lot less to me.
I am not ideological towards most arguments, I believe debate structurally is a game, but there are benefits to debate outside of it being just a game, give it your best shot and I will try my best to adapt to you.
The only caveat is do not read any arguments that you think would be inappropriate for me to teach in my classroom, if you are worried it might be inappropriate, you should stop yourself right there.
DISADS AND ADVANTAGES
When deciding to vote on disadvantages and affirmative advantages, I look for a combination of good story telling and evidence analysis. Strong teams are teams that frame impact calculations for me in their rebuttals (e.g. how do I decide between preventing a war or promoting human rights?). I should hear from teams how their internal links work and how their evidence and analysis refute indictments from their opponents. Affirmatives should have offense against disads (and Negs have offense against case). It is rare, in my mind, for a solvency argument or "non unique" argument to do enough damage to make the case/disad go away completely, at best, relying only on defensive arguments will diminish impacts and risks, but t is up to the teams to conduct a risk analysis telling me how to weigh risk of one scenario versus another.
I will vote on topicality if it is given time (more than 15 seconds in the 2NR) in the debate and the negative team is able to articulate the value of topicality as a debate “rule” and demonstrate that the affirmative has violated a clear and reasonable framework set by the negative. If the affirmative offers a counter interpretation, I will need someone to explain to me why their standards and definitions are best. Providing cases that meet your framework is always a good idea. I find the limits debate to be the crux generally of why I would vote for or against T so if you are neg you 100% should be articulating the limits implications of your interpretation.
Over the years, I have heard and voted on Kritiks, but I do offer a few honest caveats:
I read newspapers daily so I feel confident in my knowledge around global events. I do not regularly read philosopy or theory papers, there is a chance that I am unfamiliar with your argument or the underlying paradigms. I do believe that Kritik evidence is inherently dense and should be read a tad slower and have accompanying argument overviews in negative block. Impact analysis is vital. What is the role of the ballot? How do I evaluate things like discourse against policy implications (DAs etc)
Also, I’m going to need you to go a tad slower if you are busting out a new kritik, as it does take time to process philosophical writings.
If you are doing something that kritiks the overall debate round framework (like being an Aff who doesnt have a plan text), make sure you explain to me the purpose of your framework and why it is competitively fair and educationally valuable.
I am generally a fan of CPs as a neg strategy. I will vote for counterplans but I am open to theory arguments from the affirmative (PICs bad etc). Counterplans are most persuasive to me when the negative is able to clearly explain the net benifts and how (if at all) the counterplan captures affirmative solvency. For permutations to be convincing offense against CPs, Affs should explain how permutation works and what voting for perm means (does the DA go away, do I automatically vote against neg etc?)
Tag team is fine as long as you don’t start taking over cross-ex and dominating. You are part of a 2 person team for a reason.
Speed is ok as long as you are clear. If you have a ton of analytics in a row or are explaining a new/dense theory, you may want to slow down a little since processing time for flowing analytics or kritkits is a little slower than me just flowing the text of your evidence.
I listen to cross ex. I think teams come up with a lot of good arguments during this time. If you come up with an argument in cross ex-add it to the flow in your speech.
Current Director of Debate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, previously coached at Wake Forest (2 years), University of Central Florida (2 years)
I believe debate is for the debaters. Do your thing, and do it well.
I try to leave as many of my argumentative preferences at the door as possible, but I generally believe a few things:
1. Debate is both a game and a site of activism, and the best conversations about aff and neg ground take both those functions into account.
2. Debaters who tell a story and make strategic decisions about where to apply nuance are more persuasive than those who delve into intricacy but don't frame it as part of a cohesive narrative of the round.
3. Quality > Quantity (of arguments, neg positions, etc)
4. Process > Product
Some things I love
- Mechanistic analysis- how do things happen in your scenario?
- Cards that are highlighted to include full sentences and warrants.
- Getting strategically aggro in CX.
- Caring about your opponents. Just don't be the worst pls.
Yes, include me on the email chain: CVVitolo at gmail
Juan Diego Catholic: 2011-2014 (1N/2A and 1A/2N)
Rowland Hall-St. Marks: 2014-2015 (1A/2N)
University of Michigan: 2015-2019 (1A/2N)
University of Kentucky: 2019-2020 (Assistant Coach)
Wake Forest University: Present (Assistant Coach)
*Please put me on the email chain: firstname.lastname@example.org - NO POCKETBOXES OR WHATEVER PLEASE AND THANK YOU*
TL;DR: You do you, and I'll flow and judge accordingly. Make smart arguments, be yourself, and have fun. Ask questions if you have them post-round / time permits. I would rather you yell at me (with some degree of respect) and give me the chance to explain why you lost so that you can internalize it rather than you walk away pissed/upset without resolution. An argument = claim + warrant. You may not insert rehighlighted evidence into the record - you have to read it, debate is a communicative activity.
General thoughts: I enjoy debate immensely and I hope to foster that same enjoyment in every debate I judge. With that being said, you should debate how you like to debate and I’ll judge fairly. I will immediately drop a team and give zero speaks if you make this space hostile by making offensive remarks or arguments that make it unsafe for others in the round (to be judged at my discretion). Clipping accusations must have audio or some form of proof. Debaters do not necessarily have to stake the round on an ethics violation. I also believe that debaters need to start listening to each other's arguments more, not just flowing mindlessly - so many debates lose potential nuance and clash because debaters just talk past each other with vague references to the other team's arguments. I can't/won't vote on an argument about something that happened outside the debate. I have no way of falsifying any of this and it's not my role as a judge. This doesn't apply to new affs bad if both teams agree that the aff is new, but if it's a question of misdisclosure, I really wouldn't know what to do (stolen from DML and Goldschlag). *NOTE - if you use sexually explicit language or engage in sexually explicit performances in high school debates, you should strike me. If you think that what you're saying in the debate would not be acceptable to an administrator at a school to hear was said by a high school student to an adult, you should strike me. (stolen from Val)
General K thoughts:
- AT: Do you judge these debates/know what is happening? Yes, its basically all I judge anymore (mostly clash of civs)
- AT: Since you are familiar with our args, do we not have to do any explanation specific to the aff/neg args? No, you obviously need to explain things
- AT: Is it cool if I just read Michigan KM speeches I flowed off youtube? If you are reading typed out copies of someone else's speech, I'm going to want to vote against you and will probably be very grumpy. Debate is a chance for you to show off your skill and talent, not just copy someone's speech you once saw on youtube.
K (Negative) – enjoyable if done well. Make sure the links are specific to the case and cause an impact. Make sure that the alt does something to resolve those impacts and links as well as some aff offense OR have a framework that phases out aff offense and resolves yours. Assume I know nothing about your literature base. Try not to have longer than a 2-minute overview
K (Affirmative) / Framework – probably should have some relation to the resolution otherwise it's easy to be persuaded that by the interp that you need to talk about the resolution. Probably should take some sort of action to resolve whatever the aff is criticizing. I think FW debates are important to have because they force you to question why this space has value and/or what needs to change in said space. Negative teams should prove why the aff destroys fairness and why that is bad. Affirmative teams should have a robust reason why their aff is necessary to resolve certain impacts and why framework is bad. Both teams need a vision of what debate looks like if I sign my ballot aff or neg and why that vision is better than the other side’s. Fairness is an impact and is easily the one I'm most persuaded by, particularly if couched in terms of it being the only impact any individual ballot can solve AND being a question of simply who's model is most debatable (think competing interps).
T is distinct from Framework in these debates in so far as I believe that:
- T is a question of form, not content -- it is fundamentally content neutral because there can be any number of justifications beyond simply just the material consequences of hypothetical enactment for any number of topical affs
- Framework is more a question of why this particular resolution is educationally important to talk about and why the USfg is the essential actor for taking action over these questions
Case – Please, please, please debate the case. I don’t care if you are a K team or a policy team, the case is so important to debate. Most affs are terribly written and you could probably make most advantages have almost zero risk if you spent 15 minutes before round going through aff evidence. Zero risk exists.
CPs – Sure. Negative teams need to prove competition and why they are net beneficial to the aff. Affirmative needs to impact out solvency deficits and/or explain why the perm avoids the net benefit. Affs also must win some form of offense to outweigh a DA (solvency deficits, theory, impact turn to an internal nb/plank of the cp) otherwise I could be persuaded that the risk of neg offense outweighs a risk a da links to the cp, the perm solvency, etc.
DAs – Also love them. Negative teams should tell me the story of the DA through the block and the 2nr. Affirmative teams need to point out logical flaws in the DA and why the aff is a better option. Zero risk exists.
Politics – probably silly, but I’ll vote on it. I could vote on intrinsicness as terminal defense if debated well.
Topicality – You need a counter-interp to win reasonabilty on the aff. I default to competing interpretations if there is no other metric for evaluation.
Theory – the neg has been getting away with murder recently and its incredibly frustrating. Brief thoughts on specific args below:
- cps with a bunch of planks to fiat out of every possible solvency deficit with no solvency advocate = super bad
- 3+ condo with a bunch of conditional planks = bad
- cps that fiat things such as: "Pence and Trump resign peacefully after [x] date to avoid the link to the politics da", "Trump deletes all social media and never says anything bad about the action of the plan ever", "Trump/executive office/other actor decides never to backlash against the plan or attempt to circumvent it" = vomit emoji
- commissions cps = still cheating, but less bad than all the things above
- delay cps = boo
- consult cps = boo (idk if these exist on the immigration topic, but w/e)
- going for theory when you read a new aff = nah fam (with some exceptions)
- 2nr cps (yes this happened recently) = boo
- going for condo when they read 2 or less without conditional planks = boo
- perf con is a reason you get to sever your reps for any perm
- theory probably does not outweigh T unless impacted very early, clearly, and in-depth
Bonus – Speaker Point Outline – I’ll try to follow this very closely (TOC is probably the exception because y'all should be speaking in the 28.5+ category):
(Note: I think this scale reflects general thoughts that are described in more detail in this: http://collegedebateratings.weebly.com/points-scale.html - Thanks Regnier)
29.3 < (greater than 29.3) - Did almost everything I could ask for
29-29.3 – Very, very good
28.8 – 29 – Very good, still makes minor mistakes
28.5 – 28.7 – Pretty good speaker, very clear, probably needs some argument execution changes
28.3 – 28.5 – Good speaker, has some easily identifiable problems
28 – 28.3 – Average varsity policy debater
27-27.9 – Below average
27 > (less than 27) - You did something that was offensive / You didn’t make arguments.
Add me to the email chain: email@example.com
Background: I debated at H. H. Dow High School and now at the University of Michigan.
Preferences that probably distinguish me from a generic judge:
The evidence says whatever you tell me it says; it's unfair for me to read all of it and decide for all of you.
Do evidence comparison beyond "they're wrong because our author disagrees."
"Permutation is intrinsic/severance" requires substantial explanation.
I can definitely do fast, but I prefer relatively slow.
These rounds are difficult for everyone involved because it seems like every judge has a different take on every argument. However, even though I certainly have predispositions here, it's unstrategic for you adjust to me because there aren't any framework arguments on aff nor neg that I've heard that I wouldn't vote on.
I have sparse experience with K v K rounds, but I wouldn't necessarily feel lost in one.
Policy aff vs neg K comes down to framework almost every time for me.
Describe to me the threshold for both voting aff and neg.
If you start your speech with 'the counterplan solves 100% of the aff and avoids the net benefit,' you should follow up with a plan-specific explanation for both.
If your counterplan doesn't 'cheat' then it's probably not good enough to go for.
I do not kick a counterplan for you.
I'm sympathetic to aff theory, especially on counterplans.
Incomprehensible two second theory shells are not voters.
Hays Watson, former head debate coach @ University of Georgia. firstname.lastname@example.org.
online debate 2020 update*** - everyone needs to adapt/adjust to the "new" normal that is online debating. Slow down, speak up, have patience, and make sure that everything (sound/camera/wifi/tech) is on and working properly. I will do my best to judge as I normally do and make the best decision possible while providing helpful feedback.
I know a bit about the HS or college topics, but assume topic knowledge is less not more. It's no longer my full time job :).
My primary goal is to evaluate the arguments made in the debate. That being said, I'm a teacher at heart and I'll also offer suggestions for how you can improve. That's why I still write full ballots and send them via email to the teams that I judge.
Here are many of my preferences, simply-stated:
Clarity trumps speed...the best debaters are able to achieve both. Think Georgia AR/RS, Natalie, Hemanth, Gomez, Q, Pauline, Hegna, Zahir.
Evidence matters...but not much more than logical, analytical arguments. Many positions (case advantages, politics, etc.) can best be defeated with smart, analytical responses. Use your brain.
Efficiency and explanation both matter - but doing one while sacrificing the other produces bad debate. Explanation seems to lose out quite a bit these days...there is such thing as being "too efficient."
Process questions determine substantive questions. The "who" of action does, in fact, determine the effectiveness of "what" action is being taken.
I prefer that Affirmatives advocate topical action. Specific plans of action are preferable over vague/generic policy suggestions. Yes, that means I still appreciate spec-based args.
I tend to find more persuasive logical/plausible scenarios ("truth") than technical/strategic ones ("tech"). A dropped DA is a dropped DA, but a card saying the economy will collapse tomorrow doesn't make it so (see above).
I reward arguments grounded in the topic literature over arguments based upon non-germane net benefits or advantages. In other words, I'd prefer that you read the econ DA and an advantage CP over a made-up counterplan with an artificial internal net-benefit or a crappy politics DA.
Links/internal links are more important (and more interesting) than uniqueness questions. Most debate impacts are silly - not everything causes extinction. Yes, advantages/harms can be linked turned. Yes, impacts can be turned as well.
I'm increasingly frustrated by the relative absence of debates about important theoretical questions. Topicality no longer is seen as a strategic Negative tool. Affirmatives consistently refuse to challenge the theoretical legitimacy of various negative positions (conditionality, politics DAs, kritiks, etc.). Why?
Impact defense alone is an insufficient way to answer an argument. I'm confused as to how case attacks based solely around impact defense have become the "norm." The best argumentative strategies involve mixture of offensive and defensive responses. "No impact" doesn't cut it.
Effective cross-examination is still the most underutilized tool in debate. Poor, un-strategic cross-ex questions (and responses) make me sad.
I can spell 'K' despite my reputation. It's impossible not to acknowledge (albeit begrudgingly) that a well explained and case-specific kritik supported by high-quality evidence is an important strategic tool. Play to your strengths - even its gooey and critical.
I flow. I still flow on paper. It's hard to flow stuff - blippy T args, theory, embedded clash on the case, etc. Keep that in mind.
Paperless good, but present levels of etiquette stink - don't waste time with tech-related problems. You should be adept at the system by now. And you're supposed to be speaking to me, not your computer screen. Just sayin'...
Don't cheat, don't harass, don't threaten. Enjoy the game while you can, don't be an asshole.
add me to the email chain: email@example.com
Do not utter the phrase "plan text in a vacuum" or any other clever euphemism for it. It's not an argument, I won't vote on it, and you'll lose speaker points for advancing it. You should defend your plan, and I should be able to tell what the plan does by reading it.
Inserting things into the debate isn't a thing. If you want me to evaluate evidence, you should read it in the debate.
Cross-ex time is cross-ex time, not prep time. Ask questions or use your prep time, unless the tournament has an official "alt use" time rule.
You should debate line by line. That means case arguments should be responded to in the 1NC order and off case arguments should be responded to in the 2AC order. I continue to grow frustrated with teams that do not flow. If I suspect you are not flowing (I visibly see you not doing it; you answer arguments that were not made in the previous speech but were in the speech doc; you answer arguments in speech doc order instead of speech order), you will receive no higher than a 28. This includes teams that like to "group" the 2ac into sections and just read blocks in the 2NC/1NR. Also, read cards. I don't want to hear a block with no cards. This is a research activity.
Debate the round in a manner that you would like and defend it. I consistently vote for arguments that I don’t agree with and positions that I don’t necessarily think are good for debate. I have some pretty deeply held beliefs about debate, but I’m not so conceited that I think I have it all figured out. I still try to be as objective as possible in deciding rounds. All that being said, the following can be used to determine what I will most likely be persuaded by in close calls:
If I had my druthers, every 2nr would be a counterplan/disad or disad/case.
In the battle between truth and tech, I think I fall slightly on side of truth. That doesn’t mean that you can go around dropping arguments and then point out some fatal flaw in their logic in the 2AR. It does mean that some arguments are so poor as to necessitate only one response, and, as long as we are on the same page about what that argument is, it is ok if the explanation of that argument is shallow for most of the debate. True arguments aren’t always supported by evidence, but it certainly helps.
I think research is the most important aspect of debate. I make an effort to reward teams that work hard and do quality research on the topic, and arguments about preserving and improving topic specific education carry a lot of weight with me. However, it is not enough to read a wreck of good cards and tell me to read them. Teams that have actually worked hard tend to not only read quality evidence, but also execute and explain the arguments in the evidence well. I think there is an under-highlighting epidemic in debates, but I am willing to give debaters who know their evidence well enough to reference unhighlighted portions in the debate some leeway when comparing evidence after the round.
I think the affirmative should have a plan. I think the plan should be topical. I think topicality is a voting issue. I think teams that make a choice to not be topical are actively attempting to exclude the negative team from the debate (not the other way around). If you are not going to read a plan or be topical, you are more likely to persuade me that what you are doing is ‘ok’ if you at least attempt to relate to or talk about the topic. Being a close parallel (advocating something that would result in something similar to the resolution) is much better than being tangentially related or directly opposed to the resolution. I don’t think negative teams go for framework enough. Fairness is an impact, not a internal link. Procedural fairness is a thing and the only real impact to framework. If you go for "policy debate is key to skills and education," you are likely to lose. Winning that procedural fairness outweighs is not a given. You still need to defend against the other team's skills, education and exclusion arguments.
I don’t think making a permutation is ever a reason to reject the affirmative. I don’t believe the affirmative should be allowed to sever any part of the plan, but I believe the affirmative is only responsible for the mandates of the plan. Other extraneous questions, like immediacy and certainty, can be assumed only in the absence of a counterplan that manipulates the answers to those questions. I think there are limited instances when intrinsicness perms can be justified. This usually happens when the perm is technically intrinsic, but is in the same spirit as an action the CP takes This obviously has implications for whether or not I feel some counterplans are ultimately competitive.
Because I think topic literature should drive debates (see above), I feel that both plans and counterplans should have solvency advocates. There is some gray area about what constitutes a solvency advocate, but I don’t think it is an arbitrary issue. Two cards about some obscure aspect of the plan that might not be the most desirable does not a pic make. Also, it doesn’t sit well with me when negative teams manipulate the unlimited power of negative fiat to get around literature based arguments against their counterplan (i.e. – there is a healthy debate about federal uniformity vs state innovation that you should engage if you are reading the states cp). Because I see this action as comparable to an affirmative intrinsicness answer, I am more likely to give the affirmative leeway on those arguments if the negative has a counterplan that fiats out of the best responses.
My personal belief is probably slightly affirmative on many theory questions, but I don’t think I have voted affirmative on a (non-dropped) theory argument in years. Most affirmatives are awful at debating theory. Conditionality is conditionality is conditionality. If you have won that conditionality is good, there is no need make some arbitrary interpretation that what you did in the 1NC is the upper limit of what should be allowed. On a related note, I think affirmatives that make interpretations like ‘one conditional cp is ok’ have not staked out a very strategic position in the debate and have instead ceded their best offense. Appeals to reciprocity make a lot sense to me. ‘Argument, not team’ makes sense for most theory arguments that are unrelated to the disposition of a counterplan or kritik, but I can be persuaded that time investment required for an affirmative team to win theory necessitates that it be a voting issue.
Critical teams that make arguments that are grounded in and specific to the topic are more successful in front of me than those that do not. It is even better if your arguments are highly specific to the affirmative in question. I enjoy it when you paint a picture for me with stories about why the plans harms wouldn’t actually happen or why the plan wouldn’t solve. I like to see critical teams make link arguments based on claims or evidence read by the affirmative. These link arguments don’t always have to be made with evidence, but it is beneficial if you can tie the specific analytical link to an evidence based claim. I think alternative solvency is usually the weakest aspect of the kritik. Affirmatives would be well served to spend cross-x and speech time addressing this issue. ‘Our authors have degrees/work at a think tank’ is not a response to an epistemological indict of your affirmative. Intelligent, well-articulated analytic arguments are often the most persuasive answers to a kritik. 'Fiat' isn't a link. If your only links are 'you read a plan' or 'you use the state,' or if your block consistently has zero cards (or so few that find yourself regularly sending out the 2nc in the body rather than speech doc) then you shouldn't be preffing me.
LD Specific Business:
I am primarily a policy coach with very little LD experience. Have a little patience with me when it comes to LD specific jargon or arguments. It would behoove you to do a little more explanation than you would give to a seasoned adjudicator in the back of the room. I will most likely judge LD rounds in the same way I judge policy rounds. Hopefully my policy philosophy below will give you some insight into how I view debate. I have little tolerance and a high threshold for voting on unwarranted theory arguments. I'm not likely to care that they dropped your 'g' subpoint, if it wasn't very good. RVI's aren't a thing, and I won't vote on them.
Topic experience: to be honest, virtually none.
TL;DR pre-round version:
Do you, I really don't care. I’d much rather listen to you go for something you can do well vs. an over-adapted round.
For email chains: firstname.lastname@example.org.
How I evaluate specific arguments:
Clash debates – I've voted both ways. Take that as you will.
Aff teams: I like it when the aff relates to the resolution in some way. That doesn’t mean you have to have a plan, but talking about the topic might be a good idea.
Neg teams: yes, I'm in the camp that thinks there is a difference between T and FW. Do: have an impact. Don’t: just yell about limits.
Kritiks – go ahead.
I understand the basics, but don't skimp on explanation. Lemme know before the 2NR how the alt functions/solves. Floating PIKs are probably not a reason to reject the team. Links of omission aren’t real; if you need them to get offense, perm probably solves.
On framework, I lean towards weighing the aff, but I can be persuaded otherwise. I'll vote on "K tricks", but you have to do more than just saying "fiat is illusory" or "serial policy failure".
Topicality – words mean things.
When it comes to evaluating the minutiae of T debates on the HS topic, I can't stress this enough: I have no topic knowledge. I won't know what your acronyms mean nor what the camp consensus is re: what's core of the topic this year, so please explain/contextualize things. It sounds obvious, but apparently I have to say it: if you don’t have a coherent violation in the 2NR, easy L.
Theory – if we really have to.
I’m not predisposed to sides, but condo's prob the only reason to reject the team. You can win that one condo is bad or 10 condo are good in front of me, it all depends. Please slow down and do actual LBL.
Counterplans – yeah.
The more specific to the aff the better. Re: where I lean on theory, see above.
I don't judge kick. Even if they dropped judge kick, I don't judge kick. If it's in the 2NR, the status quo is no longer an option.
Disads – can't beat the classics.
Don't read things that are racist. "Cops good" is an uphill battle with me.
Same with CPs, the more specific the better. Ptx disads are fine, in theory; they’re probably not bad for debate but they ARE badly constructed.
That's pretty much it. If you have any other more specific questions, ask before the round. GLHF.
email@example.com for college email chains. firstname.lastname@example.org for high school. Please make the email subject something sensible that includes the tournament and round.
Arguments have to pass the sniff test.
I'm probably among the most willing to assign negligible risk to an advantage or DA.
I'm not good for affs that don't defend a plan. If I am judging a framework round then establishing that your interpretation can be workable for the neg is probably necessary. I think logically impact turning is also a good approach but I think I'm a hard sell on fairness totally bad or predictability totally bad.
I don't closely follow any topic.
Won't vote on ASPEC or new affs bad unless either dropped for 2 consecutive speeches or 1NC time invested exceeds 10 seconds. I don't presume (or think) that a new aff justifies infinite neg flex.
I usually find most impact calc to be totally useless. Everyone says extinction so it's all about probability at that point. I think timeframe is not an intrinsically important consideration in impact calc since impacts are magnitude times probability. It's more useful to me if you try to quantify how much each argument mitigates a particular piece of offense.
Cross-applications are best made on where they are being re-applied or say something to indicate I should look elsewhere.
I'm fine for any impact turn including spark or wipeout. Aff moralizing should be accompanied with a genuine ethics argument.
I am a *very* good judge for the con on topicality. I think it’s very important that affirmatives prove inherency for topicality.
Quality of definitions is vanishingly important to me. Precision almost never matters.
Very easy to convince me that it's preferable to interpret the plan through things other than plan text in a vacuum.
I could see myself voting for intrinsicness or other disad theory.
Extinction turns case is a useless argument.
Counterplan inherency is not as important as many think, but it can be relevant especially if you choose to “kick” the cp.
I'm probably among the worst judges for the opposition on nearly all CP theory. I think the ideal version of debate would not have conditionality, but I think debate could be too hard for the neg without condo. I think 50 state fiat does not make sense logically if the hypothetical scenario is someone deciding what to do, but debate could be too hard for the neg without it.
That said if you can defend that a cp is legitimate I'm probably among the better judges for judging a competition debate/a debate around somewhat intrinsic perms.
I think CPs need to have some indication that the action is somewhat practical (somewhat being very permissive). Doesn't have to be a full-on solvency advocate that's expected of affs, but I wouldn't accept a CP that has some random individual amend the Constitution without any indication that such an action is even possible.
Affs, please connect solvency deficits to specific advantages/impacts. Negs, please never say "sufficiency framing".
Kritiques on the neg
I think about the alt the same way as a uniqueness cp.
Framework is alright but if you're going for framework you should commit to it. Otherwise I will weigh the aff by default.
I'd prefer if you don't call me "judge". I'd prefer either "Matt" or "hey you".
When you're marking a card say "marked at [word]". Don't say "cut the card at [word]"
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Blue Valley Southwest, 10-18
My background is in policy debate, but I now work exclusively with student congress. If I am judging you in a policy round, understand that I don't know anything about this topic. That being said, do what you do best and I'll try to keep up.