Sandra W Silvers Invitational at Calhoun
2020 — NSDA Campus, GA/US
Lincoln Douglas Paradigm ListAll Paradigms: Show Hide
I competed in Lincoln-Douglas for three years in high school, and Public Forum for one. I've been coaching and judging LD and PF since then.
I don't want to be on the email chain/speech drop/whatever. Debate is a speaking activity, not an essay writing contest. I will judge what you say, not what's written in your case. The only exception is if there is an in-round dispute over what was actually said in a case/card.
You are welcome to time yourself but I will be timing you as well. Once my timer starts, it will not stop until the time for a given speech has elapsed. You may do whatever you like with that time, but I will not pause the round for tech issues. Tech issues happen and you need to be prepared for them.
I prefer a slower debate, I think it allows for a more involved, persuasive and all-around better style of speaking and debating. It is your burden to make sure that your speech is clear and understandable and the faster you want to speak, the more clearly you must speak. If I miss an argument, then you didn't make it.
No. There is designated CX time for a reason. You can ask for evidence during prep, but not clarification.
LARP - Please don't. Discussion of policy implications is necessary for some topics, but if your case is 15 seconds of "util is truetil" and 5:45 of a hyperspecific plan with a chain of 5 vague links ending in two different extinction impacts, I'm not going to be a fan. Realistically speaking, your links are speculative, your impacts won't happen, and despite debaters telling me that extinction is inevitable for 15+ years, it still hasn't happened. Please debate the topic rather than making up your own (unless you warrant why you can do that, in which case, see pre-fiat kritiks). If there is no action in the resolution, you can't run a plan. If there is no actor, don't a-spec. If you want to debate policy, do policy debate.
I will intervene on evidence ethics if I determine that a card is cut in such a way as to contradict or blatantly misrepresent what an author says, even if not argument is made about this in the round. I have no patience for debaters who lie about evidence. Good evidence is not hard to find, there's no need to make it up and doing so simply makes debate worse for everyone.
Role of the Ballot: A role of the ballot argument will only influence how I vote on pre-fiat, not post-fiat argumentation. It is not, therefore, a replacement for a framework, unless your entire case is pre-fiat, in which case see "pre-fiat kritiks". A role of the ballot must have a warrant. "The role of the ballot is fighting oppression" is a statement not an argument. You will need to explain why that is the role of the ballot and why it is preferable to "better debater". Please make the warrant specific to debate. "The role of the ballot is fighting oppression because oppression is bad" doesn't tell me why it is specifically the role of this ballot to fight oppression. I have a low threshold for voting against roles of the ballot with no warrants. I will default to a "better debater" role of the ballot.
Theory: Please reserve theory for genuinely abusive arguments or positions which leave one side no ground. I am willing to vote on RVIs if they are made, but I will not vote on theory unless it is specifically impacted to "Vote against my opponent for this violation". I will always use a reasonability standard. Running theory is asking me as the judge in intervene in the round, and I will only do so if I deem it appropriate.
Pre-fiat Kritiks: I am very slow to pull the trigger on most pre-fiat Ks. I generally consider them attempts to exclude the aff from the round or else shut down discourse by focusing the debate on issues of identity or discourse rather than ideas, especially because most pre-fiat Ks are performative but not performed. Ensure you have a role of the ballot which warrants why my vote will have any impact on the world. I do like alts to be a little more fleshed out than "reject the affirmative", and have a low threshold for voting for no solvency arguments against undeveloped alts.
Post-fiat Kritiks: Run anything you want. I do like alts to be a little more fleshed out than "reject the resolution", and have a low threshold for voting for no solvency arguments against undeveloped alts.
Topicality: Fine. Just make sure you specify what the impact of topicality on the round is.
Politics Disadvantages: Please don't. If you absolutely must, you need to prove A: The resolution will occur now. B: The affirmative must defend a specific implementation of the topic. C:The affirmative must defend a specific actor for the topic. Without those three interps, I will not vote on a politics DA.
Narratives: Fine, as long as you preface with a framework which explains why and how narratives impact the round and tell me how to evaluate it.
Conditionality: I'm permissive but skeptical of conditional argumentation. A conditional argument cannot be kicked if there are turns on it, and I will not vote on contradictory arguments, even if they are conditional. So don't run a cap K and an econ disad. You can't kick out of discourse impacts. Performance is important here.
Word PICs: I don't like word PICs. I'll vote on them if they aren't effectively responded to, but I don't like them. I believe that they drastically decrease clash and cut affirmative ground by taking away unique affirmative offense.
Presumption - I do not presume neg. I'm willing to vote on presumption if the aff or neg gives me arguments for why aff or neg should be presumed, but neither side has presumption inherently. Both aff and neg need offense - in the absence of offense, I revert to possibility of offense.
Pessimistic Ks - Generally not a fan. I find it difficult to understand why they should motivate me to vote for one side over another, even if the argument is true. I have a fairly low threshold to vote on "psychoanalysis is unscientific nonsense" arguments because....well, they're kinda true.
Ideal Theory - If you want to run an argument about "ideal theory" (eg Curry 14) please understand what ideal theory is in the context of philosophy. It has nothing to do with theory in debate terms, nor is it just a philosophy which is idealistic. If you do not specify I will assume that you mean that ideal theory is full-compliance theory.
Disclosure - I will not vote on disclosure arguments.
Framework - Please have an actual warrant for your framework. If your case reads "My standard is util, contention 1" I will evaluate it, but have a very low threshold to vote against it, like any claim without a warrant. I will not evaluate pre-fiat framework warrants; eg, "Util is preferable because it gives equal ground to both sides". Read the philosophy and make an actual argument. See the section on theory - there are no theory-based framework warrants I consider reasonable.
Since I've gotten some questions about this..
I judge on a 5 point scale, from 25-30.
25 is a terrible round, with massive flaws in speeches, huge amounts of time left unused, blatantly offensive things said or other glaring rhetorical issues.
26 is a bad round. The debater had consistent issues with clarity, time management, or fluency which make understanding or believing the case more difficult.
27.5 is average. Speaker made no large, consistent mistakes, but nevertheless had persistent smaller errors in fluency, clarity or other areas of rhetoric.
28.5 is above average. Speaker made very few mistakes, which largely weren't consistent or repeated. Speaker was compelling, used rhetorical devices well.
30 is perfect. No breaks in fluency, no issues with clarity regardless of speed, very strong use of rhetorical devices and strategies.
Argumentation does not impact how I give speaker points. You could have an innovative, well-developed case with strong evidence that is totally unresponded to, but still get a 26 if your speaking is bad.
While I do not take points off for speed, I do take points off for a lack of fluency or clarity, which speed often creates.
Please please please cut cards with complete, grammatically correct sentences. If I have to try to assemble a bunch of disconnected sentence fragments into a coherent idea, your speaker points will not be good.
If there are any aspects of the debate I look to before all others, they would be framework and impact analysis. Not doing one or the other or both makes it much harder for me to vote for you, either because I don't know how to evaluate the impacts in the round or because I don't know how to compare them.
Public Forum Paradigm
I default to an "on balance" metric for evaluating and comparing impacts. I will not consider unwarranted frameworks, especially if they are simply one or two lines asserting the framework without even attempting to justify it.
I will evaluate topicality arguments, though only with the impact "ignore the argument", never "drop the team".
Yes, I understand theory. No, I don't want to hear theory in a PF round. No, I will not vote on a theory argument.
No. Neither the pro nor the con has fiat.
No. Kritiks only function under a truth-testing interpretation of the con burden, I only use comparative worlds in Public Forum.
The pro and the con have an equal and opposite burden of proof. Because of limited time and largely non-technical nature of Public Forum, I consider myself more empowered to intervene against arguments I perceive as unfair or contrary to the rules or spirit of Public Forum debate than I might be while judging LD or Policy.
I am a traditional judge.
Do not spread.
Civility is essential.
I value clear communication. Sign posts and voters are excellent tools.
I value clash. So listen to your opponent and tell me why they are wrong and your side is better.
Give weight to the most important arguments and tell me why they are the most important.
Write the reason for decision for me.
I am an erstwhile LD/PF debater, and I have been called back to be a judge in this crazy world. Online debating and judging is new for most of us, but I am eager to assist in making this situation more normal-crazy than crazy-crazy. And if we are at a live, real, honest-to-God in-person tournament, then I promise you that the crazy ain't just in the internet: Here, There Be Dragons. I wish you the best of luck and skill as you debate this year!
Email for evidence chains and whatnot: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ultra Important Ground Rules
In 85% of things, I am a laid-back and low maintenance judge, but I do have a few nonnegotiable rules that must be followed in order to have a fair and fun matchup. These should be common sense, but god knows common sense is less common than it should be.
-Courtesy is the most important thing I consider in rounds. If you do not treat your opponent with respect, chances are that I will not respect you on the ballot. If anyone harms the integrity of the round by being discriminatory, rude, or unprofessional, I will immediately stop the round. You do not have to like your opponent, but you should at least pretend to do so for about an hour. If you have a legitimate problem with the other team, please bring up your concerns before the final focus or final segment.
-Given the circumstances of having to rely on technology for some tournaments, tech problems are not rare. If you have had troubles with connections or hardware, please let me know beforehand so we don't have to trouble shoot problems during the round.
-Please, for the love of all that is holy, do not spread (i.e. speed-read). I will not be able to understand you, and that's gonna be rough, buddy. If for some reason you must, I will require you to drop your case in the file share for mine and your opponent's benefit so we can at least try to follow your barrage.
-Concision and clarity are key. If I can not follow your arguments or identify your contentions, links, or impacts in my flow, I will probably assume that you are being willfully obtuse which is not a good look. Reminder: Neither PF nor LD debate is about proving that you are the smartest person in the room or showing me that you have the best words; it is about proving that you have the most cogent and sensible argument. This is about communication, not obfuscation.
-Do not, do not, do not introduce new contentions in rebuttals, summaries, or final focuses. That is called playing dirty. Likewise, please refrain from introducing new constructive evidence in the last half of the debate round; defending evidence is still admissible and is encouraged.
-Nuclear Stuff (PF): I know every debater and their mother
likes LOVES to throw in nuclear war as the ultimate harm or impact for either their case or rebuttal, so much so that it has become a meme of sorts. I find this to be an exceptionally tiring thing to listen to as a judge. Nuclear war is such a complex, and more importantly a serious and severe topic that using it frivolously in a debate comes across as childish at best, and cynical at worst. Trivially connecting the incomprehensible Horrors of nuclear war with a topic like urban development or cryptocurrency just comes across as intentional malpractice. If your topic justifiably includes nuclear war as an impact, I will need an iron clad link chain and evidence connecting the two, more than just asking me to assume that it will happen. Be professional. (I apologize for my rant and the irritation shown in it).
-I will generally base speaker points on rhetorical skill rather than argumentative technicals.
-If you do plan on running a K argument, please let me know before the round starts. If you are, I will probably require you to drop your case in the file share or evidence chain for the benefit of myself and the other team. Likewise, theory arguments are cool (really!), but they must be constructed in a clear and cogent manner. I should not have to work to understand what you are saying.
-Constantly tell me why I should vote for you. In other words, weigh impacts and extend your arguments. Please don't just repeat your contentions for every segment. That ain't debate, friend-o.
-Don't assume that I am a genius. Signpost your contentions and your cards, if possible.
I debated national circuit LD at Starr's Mill High School '12 (GA) and did Policy at Vanderbilt University '16 (TN).
I think I am a standard national circuit LD judge. If you only have experience with local debate, this means that I'm fine with (and proactively prefer) spreading and non-traditional arguments. However, if doing so, I recommend using a email chain, for which my email is email@example.com.
My general preference for debate argument types is Framework >= Plan-Focused/Util > Theory >> Kritiks.
I like philosophy debate a lot, especially analytical ethical philosophy. If you frequently read cards from Singer, Korsgaard, Mackie, and the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy in general, I would probably really enjoy judging you.
- I enjoy cases that are balanced between framework and contention-level offense, e.g., the AC spending half its time justifying an ethical system (utilitarianism, Kant, Hobbes, virtue ethics, divine command, moral skepticism, etc.) and then the rest on offense under that framework.
- I'm extremely opposed to theoretically-justified frameworks/affirmative framework choice. I think these things kill philosophy education, which is the most useful part of debate. If you can't prove that util is objectively true, what's even the point of pretending it's true if we have no reason to believe it?
- I'm not a fan of vague standards like "structural violence" where practically anything commonly considered bad can be considered an impact. Winter and Leighton are the bane of my existence.
- Your impacts need to actually link to an ethical philosophy in the round. Explain to me why I should care about people dying, why human rights exist, and why racism is bad in the context of the round.
I can enjoy a Plan-focused or whole-resolution util debate just as much, however, and I've done Policy in the past.
- Weighing is wonderful, and probably the point where you will best be able to pick up high speaks.
- Things like author-specific indicts or methodological critiques of particular studies are fantastic. Tell me things like, "This study only has a sample size of n=24" or "The study's authors indicated the following problems with their own study."
- Impact turns are great. I can’t promise it’s always the best idea, but I’ll probably love it if the 1AR is four minutes of “global warming good” or "economic collapse prevents nuclear war."
- Counterplans are a very important neg tool, but I think some of the more abusive ones, like 50 States CP or Consult CP are difficult to defend in terms of making debate a good activity.
- In LD, I'd prefer you just read one unconditional CP.
- If the AC is super spiky, please number the spikes. This will make it a lot easier for me to flow. If you spout out single-sentence arguments for a full minute, I’ll be more inclined to vote on them if I can clearly tell where one ends and another begins.
- I like clearly articulated theory shells in normal Interpretation-Violations-Standards-Voters format. It makes it much easier to flow compared to paragraph theory.
- I would prefer if you shared pre-written shells in the email chain, even if they're only analytical.
- I default to competing interpretations but am receptive to reasonability if mentioned.
- I like RVIs and will often vote on them, especially for the aff. If you're the aff and you're not sure if you should go for 4 minutes of the RVI in the 1AR, my advice is probably yes.
- Post-fiat Kritiks are fine. I'm not very receptive to pre-fiat Kritiks. If you aren't sure about the distinction, think about whether your alternative negates the resolution. For example, if the resolution is "The US gov should do [x]", and your alternative is "The US gov should not do [x]" or "The US gov should instead do [y]", that's fine. If your alternative is only "People around the world should..." or "The judge should..." or "The debate community should...," I'm probably not going to enjoy it. If the alt doesn't even have an actor and is just to "reject the aff," that's even worse.
- Although I’m generally well-versed with the basic ones like Cap/Security/Fem K, my understanding of the more esoteric ones falls off. Although I will try to evaluate the round as fairly as possible, I haven’t spent much time reading 1970s Continentals, and you can’t assume that I’ll have intimate knowledge of their arguments ahead of time.
- I lean towards the Role of the Ballot being just whoever proves the resolution true or false (offense-defense is also acceptable).
- Fairness definitely matters. Education might matter to some degree. I am very loathe to consider anything else as an independent voter. If your argument is nothing more than "Util justifies slavery, so auto-drop them," I am not likely to be agreeable.
- If your NRs often include the claim, "It's not a link of omission; it's a link of commission," I am probably not the judge for you.
- I'm fine with flex prep (asking questions during prep time) if you want it. I think it's a good norm for debate.
- I do not care if you sit or stand.
Read the Plan-focused/Util and Kritiks sections of the LD paradigm, but you can ignore most of the rest. Due to my LD background, I am much more willing to vote on philosophical positions. If you want to go for "Don't do the plan because objective morality doesn't exist" or "Pass the plan because that's most in line with Aristotle's notion of virtue," I'm totally fine with that.
- I still prefer clearly articulated Interpretation-Violation-Standards-Voters theory shells, even in Policy.
- I'm more willing to accept conditional CPs in Policy, although it gets really sketchy with conditional K's, especially if there's performative contradictions.
- I'm probably more willing than most Policy judges to consider analytics. I don't think you need a card for every argument you make, and oftentimes just having a warranted argument is sufficient.
Public Forum Paradigm
I understand that Public Forum has different end goals than LD or Policy. I will try to evaluate it through the following in contrast to LD or Policy:
- I will not require explicit ethical frameworks. If something sounds bad, like "It kills people" or "It hurts the economy" or "It is unfair," I'll try to evaluate that in some gestalt manner. You can probably expect a little bit of judge intervention might be necessary in the case of mutually exclusive impact frameworks and lack of weighing.
- I will generally keep in mind who is "speaking better." Although this will not change my vote in most cases, if the round is really close I might use that as the determiner.
- If I ask for a card and you can't find it, especially if it has a statistic, I will drop 1 speaker point for poor evidence norms.
Clash. Most importantly, I value clash rather than distracters or debate "theory." For all forms of debate, clash is essential; beyond initial presentation of cases, "canned" or pre-prepared speeches are unhelpful.
Evidence. I prioritize proof. Therefore, I value evidence over unsubstantiated opinion or theory, and I especially value evidence from quality sources. Be sure that (i) your evidence is from a quality source, (ii) your evidence actually says what you claim it does, and (iii) you are not omitting conditions, limitations, or contrary conclusions within your evidence.
Delivery. I debated back in the day when delivery mattered. Persuasion is still key, so if you are monotone, turn your back, or never bother with eye contact, your speaker points will likely suffer accordingly. You may speak quickly, but you must be clear, particularly with contentions. Eye contact and a well-organized, well-documented case are much appreciated. Always bear in mind that you’re trying to persuade the judge(s), not your opponent(s) or your computer, and focus accordingly.
Weighing arguments. I don’t weigh all arguments equally. You can spread if you want, but the decision will go to the team that carries the majority of the most-substantive issues with greater impacts. I appreciate policy arguments (vs. theory), especially if they relate to law (e.g., the Constitution), economics, international trade (e.g., the WTO), international relations (e.g., the UN or international law), or government policy.
Organization. This is essential. Off-time roadmaps are okay. I try to flow carefully. Please structure your case with numbered/lettered points and sub-points. When refuting arguments, please cross-refer to your opponent(s) case structure (preferably by number/letter) and be very organized for me to keep track.
Resolutions. Please debate the resolutions. Thought has gone into these and their specific wording. Regardless of the form of debate, I prefer that students debate the resolution, and I am not a fan of “Kritiks,” “Alts,” or the like. Whatever the rubric or euphemism, if they relate specifically to the topic, okay, but if they are generic or primarily distractive, I may disregard them. In any event, they are no excuse for failing to deal with the current resolution, for failing to clash with the other side’s specific arguments, or for failing to organize your own points with a clear structure.
Ridiculous rulemaking. Please spare me any “observation” or “framework” that attempts to narrow the resolution or to impose all of the burden on your opponent(s) (e.g., “Unless the other side carries every issue, I win the debate”).
Other pet peeves. These include: not standing during speeches, answering for your partner, claiming that you proved something without reading evidence, claiming evidence says something it doesn’t, rudeness, speaking faster than you can organize thoughts, failing to clash, forgetting that debate is ultimately about persuasion, debating during prep time, etc. Avoid hyperbole: not every issue leads to “global thermonuclear war”.
Feedback. Some students find my feedback very helpful. Even if you don’t, it’s not a time for arguing against the decision or for being disrespectful, which is counterproductive with me.
My background. I was a Policy debater who also competed in Congress, Extemp, and OO. I’ve coached PF. I am an international business attorney and former law school professor, with a background in Economics and experience working on Capitol Hill. I also teach and tutor ELA, History, and SAT (Reading/Writing); words matter.
The above thoughts apply to all forms of debate. I judge a fair amount, primarily PF and L-D. Below are some thoughts specific to those types of debate:
--I prefer line-by-line refutation. I am not a fan of dropping or conceding arguments. I do not appreciate attempts to reduce the debate to “voters,” ignoring other arguments. This is particularly inappropriate when done during your side’s first two-minute speech.
--No “scripted” speeches after the initial presentations of cases. Clash is key.
--Framework is optional, not essential. It may not be used to narrow the resolution.
--Even though you are not required to present a plan, that can’t be used as a knee-jerk response to all arguments or questions concerning Solvency or Topicality.
--Remember that “There is no presumption or burden of proof in Public Forum Debate”.
--I am not a fan of abstract philosophy. Any philosophical presentation must be tied specifically to the resolution and not presented in a generic vacuum.
--I don’t necessarily weigh framework over contentions.
--Your value and criterion should work with your contentions. Ideally, in discussing the relative merits of each side’s framework, explain specifically why your choice is more relevant rather than relying on a circular “chicken and egg” analysis (e.g., “My value comes before her value”).
I'm a former competitor in Extemp and Public Forum. I've been coaching for around ten years. I teach world history in Atlanta. I haven't judged much policy debate but I've judged and coached plenty of speech, LD, Public Forum and World Schools.
Things I like: arguments with warrants, citations, consistent logic, argument extensions, relevant questions, speaking skills (good flow, clear, etc...), theory, speech roadmaps, evidence, etc...
Things I do not like: rudeness and arguments without citations and/or warrants.
Analytic arguments are fine for any of the debate events.
Worlds Schools - Do not spread.
Policy - Kritiks, disadvantages and topicality are all fine. I like line-by-line and clear organization in your speeches. For me, an ideal debate would be polite, insightful, and have some relevance to our current historical moment. It would represent the zeitgeist so to say.
If you have any questions at all, please feel free to ask.
I graduated from Columbus High School and did 3 years of LD debate.
Speaks: I speak somewhat fast in debate, so I can handle speed when flowing but do not spread. If you decide/must speak fast or spread, create a speech doc and add me to the email chain @ firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are making an important point, you need to slow down to make sure I catch everything I need to.
1. I am more of a traditional debater. However, I am open to progressive styles of LD, but honestly I don't like/know Theory, K, etc. I am more comfortable with CPs and DAs though. So, keep in mind that I am not too familiar with it so if you're gonna do it, do it well.
2. I vote off the flow. You need to be responding to every argument that's brought up in the round, including their responses to your arguments. Please sign post because it makes my life so much easier. That being said, I don't really flow card names (i.e. Doe 19) so if you're gonna address or extend it in a later speech, use the tagline otherwise I don't know what to do on my flow.
3. The framework debate is the most important thing at the end of the round. If the framework debate is lost or no one wins, then I look towards the contention level.
4. If anything important happens in cross x, make sure you bring it up in speech because I do not flow in cross.
5. Voters in your last speech are very helpful for me to make my decision.
1. I have not debated PF but I have judged plenty of rounds and am very familiar with this style. However, I won't be open to Theory, Ks, etc. So if you must, explain it as if you were talking to someone much younger. As mentioned above, I vote off the flow, so extend any arguments made.
2. If you do present a framework and the other team doesn't, I will weigh all arguments in regards to that framework so keep that in mind.
3. Everything else is the same as above.
Otherwise, if you have any other questions, please feel free to ask or email me at email@example.com !! :)