University of Wyoming Round Robin
2021 — Online, WY/US
All Paradigm ListAll Paradigms: Show Hide
Director of Speech and Debate, Kent Denver
Please include me in email chains; my email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do what you do best, and I will try to leave my predispositions at the door. I have voted for and against every kind of argument. How you debate matters more than what you debate.
I care most about your ability to successfully communicate and defend your arguments by flowing, doing line-by-line, speaking clearly, and thoroughly explaining your arguments throughout the debate. The best tip I can give you is to go for less distinct issues as the debate develops and to focus on explaining and comparing your best points to your opponent’s arguments more.
Argument resolution is the most important part of debating. Making choices, explaining what issues are most important, identifying what to do with drops, answering “so what” questions, making “even if” statements, and comparing arguments (links, impacts, solvency, etc) are all examples of the kinds of judge instruction that winning rebuttals should focus on.
I value the research skills that debate fosters. I want students to demonstrate their topic knowledge and to utilize their specific research. I think a lot of teams get away with reading poor evidence. Please make evidence comparison (data, warrants, source, or recency) a significant part of the debate. Evidence that is highlighted in complete and coherent sentences is much more persuasive than evidence that is not.
I do not follow along with the speech document and will tell you clear if I can’t understand you. I am more likely to read evidence that is discussed and explained during the debate and will use the debater's explanation to guide my reading. I am unlikely to read evidence that I didn't understand when it was initially presented, or to give much credit to warrants that only become clear to me after examining the evidence.
The affirmative should present an advocacy that is grounded in topical policy and critical literature. The negative should clash with ideas that the affirmative has committed to defending. I am most impressed by teams that demonstrate command of their arguments, who read arguments with strong specific links to the topic, and who come prepared to debate their opponent’s case. I am less impressed with teams that avoid clash by using extreme conditionality, plan vagueness, generic positions without topic nuance, and reading incomplete arguments that lack clear links or solvency advocates.
Maggie Berthiaume Woodward Academy
Current Coach — Woodward Academy (2011-present)
Former Coach — Lexington High School (2006-2008), Chattahoochee High School (2008-2011)
College Debater — Dartmouth College (2001-2005)
High School Debater — Blake (1997-2001)
email@example.com for email chains, please.
1. Please be nice. If you don't want to be kind to others (the other team, your partner, me, the novice flowing the debate in the back of the room), please don’t prefer me.
2. I'm a high school teacher and believe that debates should be something I could enthusiastically show to my students, their families, or my principal. What does that mean? If your high school teachers would find your presentation inappropriate, I am likely to as well.
3. Please be clear. I will call "clear" if I can't understand you, but debate is primarily a communication activity. Do your best to connect on meaningful arguments.
4. Conduct your own CX as much as possible. CX is an important time for judge impression formation, and if one partner does all asking and answering for the team, it is very difficult to evaluate both debaters. Certainly the partner not involved in CX can get involved in an emergency, but that should be brief and rare if both debaters want good points.
5. If you like to be trolly with your speech docs (read on paper to prevent sharing, remove analyticals, etc.), please don't. See "speech documents" below for a longer justification and explanation.
6. I am not willing or able to adjudicate issues that happened outside of the bounds of the debate itself — ex. previous debates, social media issues, etc.
7. In debates involving minors, I am a mandated reporter — as are all judges of debates involving minors!
8. I’ve coached and judged for a long time now, and the reason I keep doing it is that I think debate is valuable. Students who demonstrate that they appreciate the opportunity to debate and are passionate and excited about the issues they are discussing are a joy to watch — they give judges a reason to listen even when we’re sick or tired or judging the 5th debate of the day on the 4th weekend that month. Be that student!
9. "Maggie" (or "Ms. B." if you prefer), not "judge."
What does a good debate look like?
Everyone wants to judge “good debates.” To me, that means two excellently-prepared teams who clash on fundamental issues related to the policy presented by the affirmative. The best debates allow four students to demonstrate that they have researched a topic and know a lot about it — they are debates over issues that experts in the field would understand and appreciate. The worst debates involve obfuscation and tangents. Good debates usually come down to a small number of issues that are well-explained by both sides. The best final rebuttals have clearly explained ballot and a response to the best reason to vote for the opposing team.
I have not decided to implement the Shunta Jordan "no more than 5 off" rule, but I understand why she has it, and I agree with the sentiment. I'm not establishing a specific number, but I would like to encourage negative teams to read fully developed positions in the 1NC (with internal links and solvency advocates as needed). (Here's what she says: "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.") If you're thinking "nbd, we'll just read the other four DAs on the case," I think you're missing the point. :) It's not about the specific number, it's about the depth of argument.
Do you read evidence?
Yes, in nearly every debate. I will certainly read evidence that is contested by both sides to resolve who is correct in their characterizations. The more you explain your evidence, the more likely I am to read it. For me, the team that tells the better story that seems to incorporate both sets of evidence will almost always win. This means that instead of reading yet another card, you should take the time to explain why the context of the evidence means that your position is better than that of the other team. This is particularly true in close uniqueness and case debates.
Do I have to be topical?
Yes. Affirmatives are certainly welcome to defend the resolution in interesting and creative ways, but that defense should be tied to a topical plan to ensure that both sides have the opportunity to prepare for a topic that is announced in advance. Affirmatives certainly do not need to “role play” or “pretend to be the USFG” to suggest that the USFG should change a policy, however.
I enjoy topicality debates more than the average judge as long as they are detailed and well-researched. Examples of this include “intelligence gathering” on Surveillance, “health care” on Social Services, and “economic engagement” on Latin America. Debaters who do a good job of describing what debates would look like under their interpretation (aff or neg) are likely to win. I've judged several "substantial" debates in recent years that I've greatly enjoyed.
Can I read [X ridiculous counterplan]?
If you have a solvency advocate, by all means. If not, consider a little longer. See: “what does as good debate look like?” above. Affs should not be afraid to go for theory against contrived counterplans that lack a solvency advocate. On the flip side, if the aff is reading non-intrinsic advantages, the "logical" counterplan or one that uses aff solvency evidence for the CP is much appreciated.
What about my generic kritik?
Topic or plan specific critiques are absolutely an important component of “excellently prepared teams who clash on fundamental issues.” Kritiks that can be read in every debate, regardless of the topic or affirmative plan, are usually not.
Given that the aff usually has specific solvency evidence, I think the neg needs to win that the aff makes things worse (not just “doesn’t solve” or “is a mask for X”). Neg – Please spend the time to make specific links to the aff — the best links are often not more evidence but examples from the 1AC or aff evidence.
What about offense/defense?
I do believe there is absolute defense and vote for it often.
Do you take prep for emailing/flashing?
Once the doc is saved, your prep time ends.
I have some questions about speech documents...
One speech document per speech (before the speech). Any additional cards added to the end of the speech should be sent out as soon as feasible.
Teams that remove analytical arguments like permutation texts, counter-interpretations, etc. from their speech documents before sending to the other team should be aware that they are also removing them from the version I will read at the end of the debate — this means that I will be unable to verify the wording of their arguments and will have to rely on the short-hand version on my flow. This rarely if ever benefits the team making those arguments.
Speech documents should be provided to the other team as the speech begins. The only exception to this is a team who debates entirely off paper. Teams should not use paper to circumvent norms of argument-sharing.
I will not consider any evidence that did not include a tag in the document provided to the other team.
Debated at: College Prep, Wake Forest
Coaching at: George Mason (College Policy), Glenbrook South (HS Policy), & Harker (HS LD & PF)
Coached at: Bronx Science (Policy), College Prep (Policy & PF), Eagle (Policy), Minneapolis South (Policy)
2023 Summer Camps Taught/Judged Debates at: RKS
Accolades: Gonzaga 2022 Champion, ADA Championship 2023 Winner, CEDA 2023 Co-Champion, NDT 2021 Double Octa-finalist, NDT 2022 Octa-finalist, NDT 2023 Quarter finalist
Please add me to the email chain - ask me for my email before the debate begins please
If you are debating at your last tournament and/or I am judging you at one of your last tournaments please let me know - making it through debate is a huge accomplishment and deserves all the speaker points in the world.
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If you read nothing else:
1. I'll make my decision on the flow and will vote on dropped arguments I don't believe. Tech determines what is true given there is a warrant and impact.
2. I like warrants, framing issues, impact calculus, judge instruction, organized flows, and high quality solvency advocates.
3. I do not have the ability to adjudicate disputes about anything outside of the debate nor personal attacks against your opponent.
4. Have fun, but also have respect for everyone in the room. Be cognizant of the space you take up and how you choose to do so.
5. The "easy way out," when executed, is S tier strategy because it means you were able to create, negotiate, and implement win conditions in your favor. I like bold decision-making, and I respect strategic vision.
6. Despite any preferences or hot takes described in this paradigm, I will vote for any argument*** regardless of my personal thoughts on debate
7.I make quick decisions because I consider the debate as I judge, and I have a hard time sitting still for a long time. Do not take it personally or as a sign that there was poor debating
***except for RVI's, LD nonsense, & violent ideologies / ad homs
Other Relevant Info:
- I genuinely have zero preference for how you choose to debate and/or what the debate ought be, given you're not a jerk about it.
- I'm happy to answer any questions in person//via email - please do not reach out to me via any other medium. I will not respond to you.
- More often than not, I find myself protecting the 2nr from new 2ar arguments that are unjustified and/or not traceable to the 1ar. If something's new in your last rebuttal, justify it or hide it.
- I will probably be following along with you while you're reading evidence. With that said, I have no problem deciding my ballot on clipping if seemingly egregious and/or intentional.
- You can assume I'm familiar with the topic and your arguments, but I am always a fan of clarifying both acronyms and abbreviations.
- Evidence is what the debaters interpret it ought be, as long as they can justify & legitimate the warrants, claims, and expertise introduced into the debate.
- FORFEITS / SICKNESS / ETC: My immediate reaction in all but extreme instances is to contact tabroom. However, I understand situations arise and different administrations operate under different policies. Thus, I want to be clear and transparent about my course of action and personal protocols. If a team decides to debate, despite extenuating circumstances, I will NOT penalize any speaker points nor will I take it upon myself to undermine the energy and efforts demonstrated by debaters. I will adjudicate the debate as normal and attempt, as always, to give advice and thoughts on the debate after I submit my ballot. If a debater has to be a maverick and fly solo, I will contact tabroom and adjudicate the debate as normal. I will not penalize the solo debater nor the debater who is missing for whatever reason. The missing debater will be assigned average points. I am incredibly flexible and believe in debate being accessible - let me know what you need for the round to be a safe space.
Framework: I will vote on any framework impact, but I should also clarify that the words "fairness" and "education" alone are not impacts - they require explanations and impact calculus for me to evaluate them as such. The best TVAs are carded; re-highlighting 1AC evidence is especially good. Winning a role for the ballot/judge only wins you the debate if you explain to me how & why that is the case. I think it would be wise for the 2NR to respond to the case or at least make an argument as to why you do not need to. I am sympathetic to a 2AR extending their case impacts as net benefits to their model of debate, but that requires a clear internal link explanation as to how they only apply to your interp. Impact calculus is still a thing in Framework debates, which means more than "procedural fairness comes first" or "they dropped the aff so we outweigh," A.K.A. tell me why the model you're advocating for is best for and beyond debate. I don't care what impact(s) either side goes for, and I have zero opinion on what the best AFF strategy vs framework entails. I will vote on whatever, but I really dislike listening to you read your coaches' old blocks with zero innovation or attempt at sounding like yourself.
T: T is an evidentiary argument, which means that definitions and qualifications matter. Caselists and impacted out comparisons of both models of debate are important. Impact calc determines not only speaker points but also the direction I lean post debate. Ground is not an impact - it's an internal link. Explain why the ground you lost was important and why those arguments are valuable to your model of debate. Reasonability is best explained as aff predictability. "Aff ground outweighs" is an underutilized argument that I tend to find very persuasive. To go for reasonability, you need a "we meet."
K Affs: You do you. Plans are never necessary for my ballot. I think the "what do you do" question is silly & often misses the boat, but I also have no problem voting on presumption if there isn't an impact with some sort of solvency claim in the 2ar.
CP: Clearly explain and identify the net benefit and how you solve the aff // what parts of the aff you solve in both the block and 2nr. I'll vote on theory if well executed and/or completely dropped. Slow down when explaining counterplan tricks. Probably good to have a solvency advocate, but I won't be mad if you don't. I'll auto judge kick unless instructed not to. I'm a fan of flagging sufficiency framing and other framing issues in both the block and 2nr -- judge instruction is the quickest way to my ballot.
K: I think overviews should at the very least consist of impact calculus and a general thesis claim of your theory of the world/power/etc and how it applies to the affirmative writ large. If your strategy is less reliant upon winning the line by line, I'm your judge as long as you have a reason why your theory of the world and the arguments you have won mean that the arguments you not answering are not true//are wrong and/or do not matter in terms of the debate and ballot. Links should all have impacts and be pointing out specific instances in the 1ac/2ac/cross-ex/AFF. I default to thinking the perm is a question of methods unless directed otherwise. Overly generic 2ACs should lose more than they do. The most compelling 2nr is one with impact calculus, clear links with impacts, and an explanation as to how the alt solves the links (or a reason why the links take out aff solvency if you choose to kick the alt).
DA: Carded links to the aff and warranted impact calculus are must haves. One great card well explained and extended is better than 6 meh ones. In depth turns case analysis is extremely persuasive -- not only the aff's impacts but also internal links // solvency claims. Politics is a real disad, even if quirky. There is no such thing as zero percent risk of a disad, but I am also not one to apply a specific numerical value to the risk of any argument since I think all impact calculus has to be relative to the AFF-- I primarily default to impact calculus and turns case analysis in close debates to determine whether or not the disad is substantial enough to reward a negative ballot.
Case: Generic impact defense without specificity is not and never will be strategic. In depth case debate is underutilized and underrated. Case debate should include extending 1nc cards with warrants beyond a tagline, evidence comparison, why i should care if you win this argument, and reading more cards. Again, I'll happily vote on presumption in any and all debates.
Theory: I really don't care if conditionality is truthfully good or bad, so go for theory if it makes the most strategic sense. I will vote on cheap shots as long as they are executed correctly. Yes, I think some counterplans/ks are cheaty, but it's not my job to prove they are. If you're not going for 50 States fiat is cheating, I'm assuming you've won the rest of the counterplan flow. Speaker points will not be sapped if you choose to go for theory in the 2nr/2ar given you've made the correct strategic decision.
-I do not find arguments about calling in Tabroom to adjudicate disputes helpful nor fruitful as a response to link arguments or performative disads unless there is a tournament-specific or tournament-participation level issue raised.
-Evidence qualifications matter to me. What kinds of qualifications is up to you and determined by the type of evidence presented. Citations ought be thoughtfully constructed.
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Most of my thoughts in regards to policy debate apply here. However, I will clarify a few issues unique to LD.
RECENT UPDATE: I WILL NOT EVALUATE INDEXICALS, PHIL, TRICKS, NOR SILLY ARGUMENTS DESIGNED TO AVOID DEBATING YOUR OPPONENT. I BELIEVE IN CLASH AND WOULD PREFER TO WATCH A DEBATE WHERE DEBATERS ARE NOT AFRAID TO DISAGREE WITH THEIR OPPONENTS, INSTEAD OF SPAMMING LOW QUALITY ARGUMENTS THAT BARELY COUNT AS AN ARG TO BEGIN WITH.
Criterion: I understand criterion to not only be a question of how I evaluate impacts and solvency but also how I evaluate the aff vs the negative in terms of theories of the world/power/etc. This has a few implications: a) You should make specific arguments applying your criterion to your case and opponent's case in explaining why I should prefer yours. b) I like specific indicts to criterions outside of whether or not it can explain your scenarios. Tell me why it's a bad model for debate and/or why the theory itself is bankrupt//unethical//wrong. c) Tell me why you still win even if you lose the framing debate. Criterions don't determine a debate but rather direct how I evaluate the content of the cases -- judge instruction and "even if" statements are your friend.
Trickshots/Theory: I truly dislike one sentence reasons to reject the team that seem and are arbitrary in nature. However, if mishandled by your opponent and/or conceded, I have no problem making any and all decisions based off theory and/or cheapshots given it's there's an impact and warrants extended in the rebuttals.
Form Questions: Before you ask me, yes by all means I can keep up with you and don't mind at all if you want to spread or go fast. All I ask is that you're clear and if making mostly analytical arguments are leaving me some pen time to write down what you're saying. I believe in affirmative disclosure, but won't base my decision or speaker points on it unless that is an argument leveraged by the negative. Final rebuttals should have "voters" but also line by line and/or contestation of your opponent's points in the prior speech. I'm down for whatever argument you want to read and will also not be mad if you prefer to do more traditional LD in front of me.
Above points in LD and Policy most likely apply to my thoughts here.
Form Questions: in all speeches you are responsible for responding to your opponent. Thus, I think the first rebuttal // summary // final focus should both extend their arguments and answer their opponents. As the second rebuttal // summary // final focus does the same. I do not think counterplans or kritiks are cheating. Evidentiary standards in PF truly make me sad - if you plan on not sharing the evidence you read until asked and/or will only send links/citations to your piece of evidence instead of the full card, please do not include me on the email chain. I would rather not be a recipient of links to random studies and internet sources that do not tell me explicitly what you read and didn't read. I will not vote you down for being "speedy," but please give me a second or two of pen time between arguments to be able to keep up with you.
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tldr: you do you ... except please note that I do not like RVI's and would prefer to not vote on them.
Please add me to the email chain - firstname.lastname@example.org
I'm a second year policy debater for University of Wyoming and two time qualifier to the NDT.
Debate is fun, you should make it safe and enjoyable for everyone.
Good warrants beat out bad cards.
Impact and evidence comparison is great - write my ballot for me.
Be clear in transitioning from cards to tags to analytics - monotone makes it harder to flow and will hurt your speaks.
Cross-x is a speech, I flow the arguments made here. Prep time is not CX time - asking questions outside of small clarifications during prep time is not what prep time is for and I will not flow those arguments.
Please do not send cards in the body of the email chain. Please use an email chain instead of speech drop.
Don't need to call me judge - just Kaitlyn is fine.
Any theory but condo is a reason to reject the argument not the team. Infinite condo is probably good, but the aff can win condo bad. Best neg offense is neg flex, affs should point out specific conditionality abuse in round. Hard debate is good debate.
Case debate is great - people don't do it enough. Love creative turns, innovation is good.
Topicality is fun - make sure you contextualize impacts - offense is everything in these debates. Tell me why your vision for debate is best - don't just be a definition robot.
For clash debates, give me a reason the aff is bad. The cap K vs K affs is probably not a reason the aff is bad - it will lose to the perm unless you have a hyper specific link. Same is true for Ks v. policy affs - need a reason why the aff's scholarship, impact, ideas, etc. is bad - or it will lose to the perm.
Fairness is an internal link not an impact on framework. Clash, skills, etc. are impacts - and they are often good ones.
Not sold on out of round spillup for K affs - give me a reason why your aff is good besides more people will talk about it out of round.
I've only judged a few debates on this topic - don't assume I know what you're talking about or the acronyms used.
LARP > K > phil > tricks
Infinite condo is less good for LD - aff is still served well by pointing out specific time/strat skew that occurred in round.
Cheyenne East High School, 1999-2002
University of Wyoming, 2002-2006
Coached Policy Debate for 15 years, including Cheyenne East, The Harker School, Westwood High School, University of Wyoming, UTSA, UC-Berkeley, Dartmouth College.
I am not judging as many debates these days, so I might not be "in" on some of the nuances in your debates, especially if you've had a particular debate many times.
I prefer you affirm the topic and can only think of having voted on "all limits bad" in a matchup of roughly equal teams once (in well over 1,000 debates judged). My opinion is that the best questionably topical affirmatives critique the negative's interpretation, not topicality more broadly.
I do not say "clear" if I think you are unclear. I just listen and take notes. It is your responsibility to appropriately communicate your arguments.
I am a skeptic by nature. Where I hear many judges comparing large risks of things, I find myself comparing low risks of things.
"I'm ambivalent about the 'truth' of almost every argument, and I enjoy good debate no matter its substantive or ideological leaning. Unsurprisingly, I've seen both sides of the ideological spectrum debated superbly at times and miserably at other times, and I am far more concerned with judging whether or not you make your arguments well than where you fit along some pre-ordained spectrum of K---Policy. How I evaluate these debates depends entirely on how good you are, and has little to do with how leftist or right-wing you are. As utterly obvious as this is to me, somehow I think it gets lost in the mad dash for teams to stack their strike sheets with people they think are ideologically congruent with their preferences. But in case you're wondering, I went for everything as a debater."
As with everything, specificity and hard work are the gold standard. I’m much more interested in your updated case hit than whether or not you can read consult congress blocks.
If you are trying to persuade me to take some “leap of faith” beyond reason and rationality in order to make my decision, I cannot help you. I’m sure there’s a comet for you to hitch a ride on soon, but I’m not tagging along.
“'Reject the argument not the team' is frequently enough for theory debates unrelated to conditionality. It is certainly enough when the voting issue claim is just 'it's a voter for fairness and education' - that is a claim without a warrant and it is unlikely I will vote on that claim even if it is dropped (the debate world where random voting issue prolif took over substantive debating is not one I would prefer to return to). But having said that, you can might get me to vote on theory if you have a well explained reason to reject the team.”
“The framework debate has gotten pretty stale, but I understand the utility of it. If you are going to talk about framework please play defense. I see far too many debates where the policy team wins that the other side kills debate, but the K team wins that policy debate is bankrupt. If either side did just a bit to disprove the totality of these claims, they would likely win.”
"Even if...because...: Yeah, I ripped this idea off from Becky Galentine, I know, but I have yet to hear a more effective tool for rebuttals. You aren't winning everything. So it would behoove you to protect yourself by indicating why you still win even if your opponent should win some of their important arguments."
-Evidence comparison > evidence reading.
-Dropped arguments are only as good as originally conveyed.
-Prep time stops when you save your speech, which you should announce.
-I don’t have a particularly good method for speaker points. Some arbitrary combination of aesthetics, strategy and style.
-I am unlikely to determine that something outweighs topicality.
-The link determines the direction of the link.
*If you are scanning this philosophy as a nonmember of the community, seeking out quotes to help your political "culture war" cause you are not an honest broker here and largely looking for clickbait. I find your endeavors an unfortunate result of a rage machine that consumes a great deal of quality programs without ever helping them thrive or grow. Re-evaluate your life and think about how you can help high schools and middle schools around this country develop speech and debate programs, core liberal art educational, to improve the quality of argumentation, that otherwise is lacking. In the end, as an outsider looking in, you are missing a great deal of nuance in these philosophies and how they operate in the communities (multiple not just one) around the US and the world.
If you have landed here as a representative of Fox News or an ally or affiliate, I would like to see the receipts of the bias that has and continues to perforate your organization from Roger Ailes to Tucker Carlson and more. Here is my question, when you learned about the Joe McCarthy era of conspiracy theory, along with the hysteria and demonization of potential Americans who are communist (or sympathizers) and "pinko" (gay or sexual "deviants"), is your gripe with McCarthy that he had a secret list without evidence, or do you recognize that a core problem with McCarthy is his anti-democratic fear that there actually ARE communists, gay, trans, bisexual, Americans?
My next question is when and where you think it is acceptable for a person with strong beliefs to exist in democratic spaces. Bias is inevitable and part of this debate game. Organizations attempt to manage types of bias and coaches and debaters learn how to adapt to certain bias while attempting to avoid problematic bias. What do you think? Would right leaning presidential candidates vote for an argument that affirms trans athletes in sports? Should a trans judge leave their identity entirely at the door and embody a leading republican presidential candidate who is against medical care for trans persons? Both answers are no. The issue you seek to lambast for viewership clickbate is much deeper and more complicated than a 3 minute video clip can cover. Thank for reading.
Background: Indiana University Director of Debate as of 2010. Background is primarily as a policy debater and policy debate coach.
Email Chain: Bdelo77@gmail.com
The road to high speaker points and the ballot
I reward debaters who have a strong knowledge of the topic. Those debaters who can articulate intricacies and relationships amongst topic specific literature will meet what I believe are the educational benefits of having a topic in the first place.
Using evidence to assist you with the argument you are trying to make is more important than stringing evidence together in hopes that they accumulate into an argument. “I have a card judge, it is real good” “pull my 15 uniqueness cards judge” are not arguments. Ex: Obama will win the election – a) swing voters, Rasmussen poll indicates momentum after the DNC b) Washington post “Romney has lost the election” the base is gone… etc. are good extensions of evidence.
Less jargon more eloquence. I get bored with repeated catch phrases. I understand the need for efficiency, but debaters who recognize the need for innovation by individuals in the activity will receive more points.
Speed: I expect I can digest at least 70% of your speech. The other 30% should be general human attention span issues on my part. I firmly believe debate is a communication event, I am saddened that this has been undervalued as debaters prepare for tournaments. If I agree with X debater that Y debater’s speech on an argument was incoherent, I am more and more willing to just ignore the argument. Computer screens and Bayesian calculus aside, there is a human in this body that makes human decisions.
Should affs be topical?
Affs should have a relationship to the topic that is cogent. If there is no relationship to the topic, I have a high standard for affirmatives to prove that the topic provides no “ground” for a debater to adapt and exist under its umbrella. Negatives, this does not mean you don’t have a similar burden to prove that the topic is worth debating. However personally I think you will have a much smaller hill to climb… I find it disturbing that debaters do not go further than a quick “topical version of your aff solves” then insert X switch side good card… Explain why the topical version is good for debate and provides argument diversity and flexibility.
Policy debate is good: When I prep our files for tournaments I tend to stay in the policy-oriented literature. This does not mean that I am unwilling to cut our K file or K answers, I just have limited time and job related motivation to dive into this literature.
K Debate: Can be done well, can be done poorly. I do not exclude the arguments from the round but nebulous arguments can be overplayed and abused.
(Updated 3-2-2022) Conditionality:
1) Judge Kick? No. You made your choice on what to go for now stick with it. 2NRs RARELY have the time to complete one avenue for the ballot let alone two conditional worlds...
I tend to believe that one conditional substantive test of the plan advocacy is good (agent CP, process CP, or ?) and I am open to the idea of the need for a second advantage CP (need to deal with add-ons and bad advantages) or K within limits. I'm not a fan of contradicting conditional advocacies in how they implicate 2AC offense and potential.
Beyond 1-2 conditional arguments, I am torn by the examples of proliferating counterplans and critiques that show up in the 1NC and then disappear in the negative block. There is a substantive tradeoff in the depth and quality of arguments and thus a demotivation incentive for the iterative testing and research in the status quo world of 3+ conditional advocacies. The neg's, "write better advantages" argument has value, however with 2AC time pressure it means that 1ACs are becoming Frankenstein's monster to deal with the time tradeoff.
Plans: I think the community should toy with the idea of a grand bargain where affirmatives will specify more in their plan text and negs give up some of their PIC ground. The aff interp of "we only have to specify the resolution" has pushed us in the direction where plans are largely meaningless and aff conditionality is built into core 2AC frontlines. The thing is, our community has lost many of its fora for discussing theory and establishing new norms around issues like this. Debaters need to help be the change we need and we need more in-depth theory discussions outside of the rounds. Who is the Rorger Solt going to be of the 2020's?
I find myself more willing to judge the evidence as it was debated in the round (speeches and cx), and less willing to scan through piles of cards to create a coherent understanding of the round. If a debate is being had about the quality of X card, how I SHOULD read the evidence, etc. I will read it.
Sometimes I just have an interest in the evidence and I read it for self-educational and post-round discussion reasons.
I will work extremely hard to evaluate the debate as the debaters have asked me to judge it.
*Updated for 2023*
2018-Present: Policy Coach at Rock Springs High School
2007-2011: NPTE Debate at University of Wyoming: Highest national ranking: 4th; 4x national qualifier for NPTE; attended NPDA/NPTE 6x’s (between both tournaments); highest placing at National Tournament: Semi-finalist; Between 2009-2012 ranked top 20 in NPTE points receiving First Round Bids.
2004-2007: Debate at Rock Springs High School in Rock Springs, Wyoming
Approximate number of rounds judged per year: 35+
Please add me to the email chain: email@example.com
Note: Over the past seasons, I have seen numerous teams use the ‘small schools’ argument on theory and procedural positions. Moving forward, I will not listen to, flow or evaluate these types of arguments. Being from a ‘small school’ with limited financial resources and limited ability to travel nationally, these types of arguments suppose that we as competitors have also a limited ability to intelligently evaluate and present competitive arguments due to our position in the community. Utilizing these arguments in order to establish a model of debate based in assumptions of limited abilities of teams, such as ours, is marginalizing our ability as competitors and individuals, it also places unrealistic perceptions of who we are as policy debaters, thus please refrain from reading these arguments. Fight against, what Brian Delong of IU calls "The Cult of the Card". Taking no notice of this position in round can effect speaker points awarded.
Note 2: NO NEW OFF-CASE POSITIONS IN THE 2NC, I WILL NOT FLOW IT!!!! (unless warranted by offensive language/actions, ethics violations, far-reaching 2AC abuses/skews)
Average Speaker Points: 28.5
Spreading is fine, speed is important but clarity is more important. Slow down on analytics, include them in the email chain. Also slow down 20% on tags and authors. Differentiate between tags and the internals of your cards. With the online format, make sure that you are either decreasing your speed on analytics or you are sending them out in the speech doc. I have noticed in cases that some analysis can get missed with the tubes of the internet.
If it’s conceded it’s true; I'll pic out of really terrible arguments (racism, sexism, otherization, etc.), also reading more cards that aren’t true, doesn’t mean I will prefer.
Policy-------------------X---------------------Ks (Aff or Neg)
I am good with either a policy debate or K v. K debate; just make sure to explain your argument thoroughly.
Analytics have their place, however they should be based in the literature, this also includes theory and theory blocks. Speaker points check...cite literature as an argument and I will bump up .5! (make sure I hear it!)
Conditionality good--X----------------------------Conditionality bad
Conditionality is generally good, but I could be persuaded otherwise. This is a vote down the team theory approach.
Actor/PIC/Consult/Process CP good--X------------------------------- Actor/PIC/Consult/Process CP bad
The CP is an essential tool for the Neg, all are strategic. That being said I am open to theory objections and if won by the Aff, I will reject the argument (if indicated). For Courts CP, run them, but be able to clearly articulate how the Courts would be able to hear the Aff plan; be it a test case (include your test case, or be able to defend the timeframe deficit awaiting the next available test case) or defend SCOTUS using a Writ of Crit to rule. Also, it would be wise to include the basis of ruling within the text of the CP. Args directly questioning the mechanisms by which the CP functions and can be very persuasive for me.*
Politics DA good------------------X------------Politics DA bad
Read the appropriate Tix DAs and you’re good, however, as in 2020, reading Prez Tix DAs two days after the elections is frustrating. DO NOT DO IT!
1AR gets new args--------------X----------------------1AR doesn’t get new args
I will give the 1AR room to present new extrapolations of the Aff positions and to respond fully to the block, however running a new position/link turn/mpx turn or a new response to a Neg position isn’t the best and it’s probably too late in the debate to truly develop said position.
UQ matters most-----------------------------X---Link matters most
A solid link into an argument is incredibly important, no matter how unique an argument is, if it doesn’t apply, it doesn’t apply!
Love T-X---------------------------------------------Hate T
I love T!! Evidence again is very important and please read it. I will prefer your standards if you have evidence supporting. Explain your mpx, violation and why you should win. Make sure that if you are going for T, either send a doc with analytics or ensure that you are clear.
Generics solve your ground claims, all though they might not be the most in-depth or educational, they do provide access to clash, and even if they are generic, there is evidence that supports those claims which is still educational. Limits, however, means that the Neg can produce in-depth arguments due to having a limited research burden and lit base.
Fairness is an mpx--------------------------------X-----Education is an mpx
Debate is a game, but, it is a game is which the motive is academic.
Reasonability opens the door for judge intervention, what I believe is reasonably topical and what the next person does, is inherently different. I’d rather hear the mpx of topicality weighed as a net benefit to the presented interpretations.
Longer ev--------------------X---------------------More ev
Whatever way you want to present your evidence is up to you. Your evidence represents your argument, not the tag, if the tag is misrepresentative or an embellishment of the ev then that argument will be given less weight in the round*
"Insert this rehighlighting"--------X---------------I only read what you read
I will only evaluate only what is read during the speech act, unless told to evaluate a rehighlighting (should be sent in the doc) or told to evaluate a card vs. another card.
Durable FIAT solves circumvention--------------------X---Durable FIAT is not a thing
There are a number of ways that a position can be undermined that FIAT cannot account for. However, FIAT would protect teams from args like “plan doesn’t pass”.
A team doesn't need to hide their argument or not disclose their arguments, not disclosing makes for a sloppy debate and a bunch of people not knowing what is going on.
Analytic Perm-----------------------------X-Evidence-based Perm
The words "Perm Do Both" (or similar analytics) mean nothing to me unless you explain how it functions, what level of competition the perm is testing and read evidence indicating a net benefit to said perm. BTW...I love the perm debate!
Existential Mpx---------------X-----------------Systemic Mpx
Tell me how to vote and what mpx to evaluate. This is also more of mpx weighing analysis, not framework. Framework is how debate should be or included within the realm of debate. Mpx prioritization is a question of the specific magnitude of that mpx.
Letter of the Plan Text-X------------------------Intent of the Plan Text
In regards to construction of the plan/counterplan/advocacy/permutation texts, I have a high threshold for properly written texts, meaning that text must do what is indicated that it will do. In a number of rounds, I have found that teams seems to misunderstand or misrepresent what the letter of the text actually would do. This can be as easy as using the wrong diction, syntax and/or semantics...for example using "apart" meaning not a part of vs. what is intended "as a part of" in the text. Just the simple change to this verbiage means that the functional implementation of the policy would be drastically different and not uphold what the solvency advocate intends. Prior to the round please evaluate texts, and the opponent texts as I am willing to vote/reject on miswrote texts in round, however it does have to be on the flow for me to vote.
If it matters to you, I used to make critical and performance based arguments. I have coached all types. I generally like all arguments, especially ones that come with claims, warrants, impacts, and are supported by evidence.
Do you (literally, WHATEVER you do). Be great. Say smart things. Give solid speeches and perform effectively in CX. Win and go as hard as it takes (but you dont have to be exessively rude or mean to do this part). Enjoy yourself. Give me examples and material applications to better understand your position. Hear me out when the decision is in. I saw what I saw. Dassit.
Add me to the email chain- firstname.lastname@example.org
My "high" speaker points typically cap out around 28.9 (in open debate). If you earn that, you have delivered a solid and confident constructive, asked and answered questions persuasively, and effectively narrowed the debate to the most compelling reasons you are winning the debate in the rebuttals. If you get higher than that, you did all of those things AND THEN SOME. What many coaches would call, "the intangibles".
Speaking of speaker points, debate is too fast and not enough emphasis is put on speaking persuasively. This is true of all styles of debate. I flow on paper and you should heavily consider that when you debate in front of me. I am a quick and solid flow and pride myself in capturing the most nuanced arguments, but some of what I judge is unintelligible to me and its getting worse. Card voice vs tag voice is important, you cannot read analytics at the same rate you are reading the text of the card and be persuasive to me, and not sending analytics means I need that much more pen time. Fix it. It will help us all. Higher speaker points are easier to give.
Thank you, in advance, for allowing me to observe and participate in your debate.
**Just a brief update for the high school community on the Inequality topic:
T - Taxes and Transfers - Heavily lean Aff here, but the Neg can win it I guess.
Process CPs - Good luck with these in front of me.
If you feel the need to not take prep before the 2AC or 2NC, good luck with that as well in front of me.
**Updated Summer 2023**
Yes I would like to be on the email chain: email@example.com
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!
Updated for NU 22
NOTE: I have not thought about debate since the 2022 NDT. I am excited to be back but know that these rounds will be the first time I am hearing about Legal Personhood.
Yes Email Chain firstname.lastname@example.org
The short version
I am a judge who will vote for essentially any argument. I am as likely to vote on FW versus K affs than I am to vote for impact turns on FW. Simply put, run whatever arguments you are the most comfortable with and dont feel the need to change your style for me.
I will say that because of my debating style I am much more experienced in Policy v Policy and Policy v K debates but I still view K v K debate as amazing and will be excited whenever I get a chance to judge one of those rounds! NOTE: I am super inexperienced at Pomo debates. I have and will continue to vote for them IF I can understand them, pref me if you read those arguments at your own risk.
I think it is important as I judge more rounds to note areas that I have noticed that have become more important to me. The biggest thing I have noticed is debate is a communication event as a result I place a higher premium on communication than some other judges do. Don't read great evidence and leave it at that but rather connect it to the debate round as a whole. I am a judge who loves judge instruction and telling me how I should evaluate arguments or impacts is going to put you in a much better position than simply hoping that I will follow your same line of thinking.
The long version: Most of these comments below are my specific thoughts. Things like DA's and CP's are pretty straightforward. Have a link for the DA and be able to solve some or all the aff with the CP.
Tech over truth: If an argument goes conceded and you impacted it well enough and explain why I should vote for it, I will.
Speed: I have a high threshold for speed and will yell clear out twice in a speech before I stop flowing. That being said with this year most likely being all on Zoom it is important to go at a speed that everyone can understand online. I recommend 80% of your normal speed but you know what works best for you.
K-affs: This is an area where I have experience in but was never my main focus during debate. K's and K affs are the areas where I am the most likely not to vote on an argument because I did not understand it. All that means is to make sure to explain your argument and dont assume that I will fill in the gaps with the same level of knowledge that you all have.
I prefer affs that are in the direction of the topic (that doesn't mean defending USFG action) but affs that are not in the direction of the topic are still able to win my ballot if it is well debated.
K-aff's Vs T/FW: My opinion of what arguments against framework that I find persuasive is still very malleable. All that really means is answer framework in whatever way you think is the most strategic. Reading my advice on T/FW vs K-aff's will give you a good idea of what I find important and being able to beat those arguments will put you in a good place in the debate. Affirmative teams usually win against T/FW in front of me when you prove that the neg's interp excludes the possibility of being able to discuss your scholarship (got to beat the TVA), combined with offense.
After judging multiple framework vs K aff rounds I have come to find that I am more persuaded by whatever team does better impact comparison (why does fairness outweigh education or vice versa?). I will also say that I am less persuaded by general debate bad arguments. I agree that the community is messed up and there is a lot we can do to improve it but saying that debate provides no benefit is a harder sell. If that is your A strat you are not out of luck instead it just requires you to invest more time in this argument if you would like to win it. In general impact turning, T/FW is very viable in front of me.
T/FW vs K-aff's: Im relatively open to all type of negative impacts for framework. I am much more persuaded by T impacts that are centered around skill-building or resolution focus good compared to impacts such as fairness but again am open to any impact. TVA's are pretty much must haves and at the very least make your odds of winning much higher.
K's: Just like above I have some experience but it was not my main focus. Having links to the aff and winning impact calc and/or framework will put you in a good spot.
Going for CP's: I default to no judge kick unless told otherwise.
Theory: Theory is a tool that is underutilized by a lot of aff teams Neg's get away with a lot and needs some checks. Condo theory I view as a reason to reject the team. I am more lenient on reject the arg with everything non-condo but I can be convinced why reading those CP's in the first place is a reason to reject the team. I enjoy theory debates less typed out/reading blocks and more engaging on the line by line and vision of debate.
Topicality for policy affs: Having a specific violation and examples of in round abuse puts you in a better place than just a generic T-shell. Also in the later speeches if you are still going for it, make sure to explain what a world of your interp looks like (What affs are aloud, why are only those affs good for debate, etc)
Impact Turns: Love them and think they are underutilized as well. I have had experience with impact turns from Heg bad to Nuke war good.
Prep: I do not count flashing/emailing as prep, as soon as your document is finished you can stop prep. If I see you stealing prep I will call you out once and then start the clock for your prep.
Language: Your language matters racist,homophobic,abelistic,misgendering language is probelmatic just be kind to people.
Clipping cards: If someone is accused of clipping cards the round will stop, you must have video evidence and make the claim in the round. Clipping cards causes an instant loss and low speaks. Accidents happen just make sure you are reading everything you said you read. Mark where you said to mark.
If you have any questions before the round don't be afraid to ask!
University of Wyoming
Last updated: 9-12-22
Email chain: email@example.com
Feb 2022 update: If your highlighting is incoherent gibberish, you will earn the speaker points of someone who said incoherent gibberish. The more of your highlighting that is incoherent, the more of your speech will be incoherent, and the less points you will earn. To earn speaker points, you must communicate coherent ideas.
If you want to read far more than necessary on my judging process: https://wyodebateroundup.weebly.com/blog/reflections-on-the-judging-process-inside-the-mind-of-a-judge
I put a pretty high premium on effective communication. Too many debaters do not do their evidence justice. You should not expect me to read your evidence after the round and realize it’s awesome. You should make sure I know it’s awesome while you read it. I find many debaters over-estimate the amount of ideas they believe they communicate to the judge. Debaters who concentrate on persuading the judge, not just entering arguments into the record, will control the narrative of the round and win my ballot far more often than those who don’t. I have tended to draw a harder line on comprehensibility than the average judge. I won’t evaluate evidence I couldn’t understand. I also don’t call clear: if you’re unclear, or not loud enough, I won’t intervene and warn you, just like I wouldn't intervene and warn you that you are spending time on a bad argument. Am I flowing? You're clear.
Potential biases on theory: I will of course attempt to evaluate only the arguments in the round, however, I'll be up front about my otherwise hidden biases. Conditionality- I rarely find that debaters are able to articulate a credible and significant impact. International actor fiat seems suspect. Uniform 50 state fiat seems illogical. Various process counterplans are most often won as legitimate when the neg presents a depth of evidence that they are germane to the topic/plan. Reject the arg not the teams seems true of nearly all objections other than conditionality. I will default to evaluating the status quo even if there is a CP in the 2NR. Non-traditional affirmatives- I'll evaluate like any other argument. If you win it, you win it. I have yet to hear an explanation of procedural fairness as an impact that makes sense to me (as an internal link, yes). None of these biases are locked in; in-round debating will be the ultimate determinant of an argument’s legitimacy.
Clock management: In practice I have let teams end prep when they begin the emailing/jumping process. Your general goal should be to be completely ready to talk when you say ‘end prep.’ No off-case counting, no flow shuffling, etc.
Cross-x is a speech. You get to try to make arguments (which I will flow) and set traps (which I will flow). Once cross-x is over I will stop listening. If you continue to try to ask questions it will annoy me- your speech time is up.
Pet-peeves: leaving the room while the other team is prepping for a final rebuttal, talking over your opponents. I get really annoyed at teams that talk loudly (I have a low threshold for what counts as loudly) during other teams speeches- especially when it’s derisive or mocking comments about the other team’s speech.
Director of Debate, Harvard University.
BA, Harvard; PhD, Johns Hopkins
Please put harvard.debate(at)gmail.com on the email chain, but see note 1 below.
Updated January 2021:
The first thing to know about me as a judge is that I take overviews in the final rebuttals very seriously. The team that correctly identifies the critical arguments for each side will generally win, even if they have problems elsewhere on the flow or if I have other reservations about the argument. In other words, most of the time, the team that gets my ballot has done a better job of (a) identifying the most important arguments in the debate and (b) persuading me that in evaluating those particular arguments I should believe them. Similarly, I've found that in most of my decisions I end up telling the losing team that they have failed to persuade me of the truth of their most important argument. Occasionally this failure of understanding is due to a lack of clarity on the part of the speaker(s), but more often it is due to a lack of detailed explanation proving a particularly significant argument to be correct.
As a judge, I am usually skeptical of anything you say until you convince me it is correct, but if you do persuade me, I will do the work of thinking through and applying your argument as you direct me. It is usually easy to tell if I am persuaded by what you are saying. If I’m writing and/or nodding, you’ve probably succeeded. If I’m not writing, if I’m giving you a skeptical look, or if I interrupt you to ask a question or pose an argument I think you should answer, it means I’m not yet convinced.
In close debates, in which there are no egregious errors, I tend to vote for the team that articulates a better strategic understanding of the arguments and the round than for the team that gets lucky because of a small technical issue. My propensity to resolve arguments in your favor increases as you communicate to me that you understand the importance of some arguments relative to others. I am usually hesitant to vote against a team for something they said unless it is willful or malicious.
A few other tidbits:
1. I will not read the speech doc during your speech. The burden is on you to be comprehensible. Part of me is still horrified by this norm of judges following along.
2. If what you have highlighted in a card doesn’t amount to a complete sentence, I will most likely disregard it. Put differently, a word has to be part of a sentence in order to count.
3. CX, just like a speech, ends when the timer goes off. You can’t use prep time to keep asking questions or to keep talking. Obviously, this doesn’t apply to alt use time.
4. Please number your arguments. Seriously. Do it. Especially in the 1NC on case and in the 2AC off case.
5. Pet Peeve Alert. You have not turned the case just because you read an impact to your DA or K that is the same as the advantage impact. For example, saying a war with china causes poverty does not mean the DA turns a poverty advantage. It simply means the DA also has a poverty impact. In order to the turn the case, the DA must implicate the solvency mechanism of the affirmative, not simply get to the same terminal impact.
6. [Since this situation is becoming more common...] If the affirmative wins that conditionality is bad, my default will be to reject conditionality and make any/all counterplans unconditional. Pretending that the counterplan(s) were never introduced is illogical (they stay conditional) and solves nothing (the affirmative can't extend turns to the net benefit).
Head Coach of Rowland Hall
Do what you do best. I’m comfortable with all arguments. Practice what you preach and debate how you would teach. Strive to make it the best debate possible.
Key Preferences & Beliefs
Debate is a game.
Literature determines fairness.
It’s better to engage than exclude.
Critique is a verb.
Defense is undervalued.
I flow on my computer. If you want a copy of my flow, just ask.
I think CX is very important.
I reward self-awareness, clash, good research, humor, and bold decisions.
Add me to the email chain: mikeshackelford(at)rowlandhall(dot)org
Feel free to ask.
Want something more specific? More absurd?
Debate in front of me as if this was your 9 judge panel:
Andre Washington, Ian Beier, Shunta Jordan, Maggie Berthiaume, Daryl Burch, Yao Yao Chen, Nicholas Miller, Christina Philips, jon sharp
If both teams agree, I will adopt the philosophy and personally impersonate any of my former students:
Ben Amiel, Andrew Arsht, David Bernstein, Madeline Brague, Julia Goldman, Emily Gordon, Adrian Gushin, Elliot Kovnick, Will Matheson, Ben McGraw, Corinne Sugino, Caitlin Walrath, Sydney Young (these are the former debaters with paradigms... you can also throw it back to any of my old school students).
Most of what is above will apply here below in terms of my expectations and preferences. I spend most of my time at tournaments judging policy debate rounds, however I do teach LD and judge practice debates in class. I try to keep on top of the arguments and developments in LD and likely am familiar with your arguments to some extent.
Theory: I'm unlikely to vote here. Most theory debates aren't impacted well and often put out on the silliest of points and used as a way to avoid substantive discussion of the topic. It has a time and a place. That time and place is the rare instance where your opponent has done something that makes it literally impossible for you to win. I would strongly prefer you go for substance over theory. Speaker points will reflect this preference.
Speed: Clarity > Speed. That should be a no-brainer. That being said, I'm sure I can flow you at whatever speed you feel is appropriate to convey your arguments.
Disclosure: I think it's uniformly good for large and small schools. I think it makes debate better. If you feel you have done a particularly good job disclosing arguments (for example, full case citations, tags, parameters, changes) and you point that out during the round I will likely give you an extra half of a point if I agree.
firstname.lastname@example.org please add me to an email chain.
previous coaching: Niles West (2016-present), Walter Payton (2014-2016), Wayzata (2009-2013), Moorhead (2007-2009), University of Minnesota (2011-2015, plus various tournaments since), Concordia College (2006-2009).
I generally judge 75+ debates on the high school topic.
updated September 2019
I'm updating my philosophy not because of a meaningful change in how I evaluate debates, but because I think the process of how I decide debates is more important than how I feel about individual arguments.
I judge debates in the way they are presented to me. This means you control the substance of the debate, not me. As such, the team that will win is the team that is best able to explain why their arguments are better than their opponent's arguments.
I start deciding a debate by determining if I need to read evidence. I often read very few cards at the end of a debate. In many debates, the quality of evidence, its qualifications and even warrants or conclusions go uncontested. I'm not the judge to reconstruct the debate for you. Then, I assign "risk" to the positions forwarded in the last rebuttals. The type of "risk" is determined by the debate--anywhere from "does the DA outweigh the aff" to "do the representations lead to a unique impact" to "does the performance actively resist forms of oppression". Link and impact analysis is therefore extremely important. You probably won’t like the decision if I decide what is most important.
Most of my topic research revolves around critiques. I have also worked at a summer institute almost every year since 2005. Chances are I am familiar with your literature base, no matter which side of the library it's housed in. However, you still need to explain your arguments for me to consider voting for them.
If you want me to consider the status quo as an option, you should tell me in the 2NR: I will not default for you. Outside of conditionality, I default to rejecting the argument, not the team unless instructed otherwise.
Note on decision times: the longer it takes to finish the debate, the less time I have to adjudicate, so it is in your best interest to be efficient.
Speaker points are influenced by a variety of factors. While I do not have a specific formula for integrating all the variables, your points are reflected by (in no particular order): argument choice, clarity, execution, participation in the debate, respect for others, strategy, and time management. I tend to reward debaters for specific strategies, humor, personality and speeches free of disposable arguments.
Yes, put me on the chain: email@example.com
Please let me know if there are any accessibility requirements before the round so I can do my part.
Updated for 2023-24
I currently coach full-time for Michigan State University. Previously, I coached at Dartmouth for five years from 2018-2023. I debated at the University of Central Oklahoma for four years and graduated in 2018.
The 2023-24 season is the first time in a long time where I am not actively coaching a high school team. If you see me entered in the judge pool at a high school tournament this year, it's primarily for recruiting purposes (Go Green!). I am not an expert in the 23-24 high school topic, so please take this into account when using acronyms or making niche references.
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 love all aspects of the game. I would be profoundly bored if I only judged certain teams or arguments. At most tournaments I find myself judging a little bit of everything: a round where the 1NC is 10 off and the letter 'K' is never mentioned, a round where the affirmative does not read a plan and the neg suggests they should, a round where the neg impact turns everything under the sun, a round where the affirmative offers a robust defense of hegemony vs a critique, etc. I enjoy judging a variety of teams with different approaches to the topic.
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.
If I had to choose another judge I mostly closely identify with, it would be John Cameron Turner but without the legal pads.
I don't mind being post-rounded or 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 am excited to judge your debate. Even if I look tired or grumpy, I promise I care a lot and will always work hard to evaluate your arguments fairly and help you improve.
What really matters to me
Evidence quality matters a lot to me, probably more than other judges. Stop reading cards that don't have a complete sentence and get off my lawn. I can't emphasize enough how much I care about evidence comparison. This includes author quals, context, recency, (re)highlighting, data/statistics, concrete examples, empirics, etc. You are better off taking a 'less is more' approach when debating in front of me. For example, I much rather see you read five, high quality uniqueness cards that have actual warrants highlighted than ten 'just okay' cards that sound like word salad.
This also applies to your overall strategies. For example, 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 uniqueness 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. To be clear, I am totally down with 'big 1NCs' -- but I get a little annoyed when teams proliferate incomplete positions.
I expect you to treat your partner and opponents with basic respect. This is non-negotiable. Some of y'all genuinely need to chill out. You can generate ethos without treating your opponents like your mortal enemy. Pettiness, sarcasm, and humor are all appreciated, but recognize there is a line and you shouldn't cross it. Punching down is cringe behavior. You should never, ever make any jokes about someone else's appearance or how they sound.
Impact framing and judge instruction will get you far. In nearly every RFD I give, I heavily emphasize judge instruction and often vote for the team who does superior judge instruction because I strive to be as non-interventionist as possible.
Cowardice is annoying. Stop running away from debate. Don't run away from controversy just because you don't like linking to things. This also applies to shady disclosure practices. If you don't like defending your arguments, or explaining what your argument actually means, please consider joining the marching band. Be clear and direct.
I appreciate and reward teams who make an effort to adapt.Unlike many judges, I am always open to being persuaded and am willing to change my mind. I am rigid about certain things, but am movable on many issues. This usually just requires meeting me in the middle; if you adapt to me in some way, I will make a reciprocal effort.
Camera policy: I would strongly prefer that we all keep our cameras on during the debate, but there are 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?
I care more about solvency advocates than most judges. This does not mean I automatically vote against a counterplan without a solvency advocate. Rather, this is a 'heads up' for neg teams so they're aware that I am generally persuaded by affirmative arguments in this area. It would behoove neg teams to read a solvency advocate of some kind, even if it's just a recutting of affirmative evidence.
I will only judge kick if told to do so,assuming the aff hasn't made any theoretical objections.
I treat certain arguments that are 'above the game board' differently.This includes callouts of many varieties, certain K procedurals, and arguments that are personal in nature. For example, I am not going to view an argument about someone's personal Twitter account through an offense/defense lens because that makes zero sense. The same is true for arguments that are a version of 'I know what you read last summer.' Not only are these arguments generally not super persuasive, but to me they are different category entirely. If you genuinely believe your opponent has made the round/community unsafe in some way, me voting against them doesn't solve much. When you introduce an argument of this variety, just know that you assume certain risks with the way I evaluate them.
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.
At the college level, I expect ya'll to handle these issues like adults. If you make an evidence ethics accusation, I am going to ask if you want to stop the round to proceed with the challenge.
Updated September 2023 to reflect a few changes.
Tldr; I come from an exclusively policy background. I had zero experience in LD before I started coaching HW in 2018. 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. 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. I would be happy to judge a good phil debate.
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.
1. Yes, include me on the doc chain – firstname.lastname@example.org
2. No, I am not ok with you just putting the card in the text of the email
3. Idk if the aff has to read a plan. I would obviously prefer it because I'm used to it, but I also would prefer if I were in for zero rounds, so…
4. No, you should not try to read Baudrillard or other post-modern theories against me. This is not a challenge. It's not a threat, it's a warning.
5. Yes, you should (please) slow down while debating if you are online. There are glitches in streaming and it’s hard enough to understand you. For a while, I tried following along with the docs when I missed something, but we all know that just leads to more errors. This is your warning: if you are not clear enough to flow I will not try to flow it. I will give two warnings to be clear (and one after your speech in case you didn’t hear me). If you choose to keep doing you, don’t expect to win or for me to know what you said. On the flip side, if you are actively slowing down to make the debate comprehensible, you will be rewarded with a speaker point bump.
6. JESUS CHRIST PLEASE stop trying to debate how you think I want you to. It's never a good look to over-adapt. The only exception isis you want to go for Baudrillard and somehow ended up with me as a judge. Then please over-adapt. I cannot stress enough the importance of adaptation if you are trying to tell me post-modern theory or that death is cool.
- I am chronically ill. If you pref me, there is a chance I have a flare up while judging you. This means I will finish the debate with my camera off but am still there. I just want some privacy while sick/you really don't want to see my face if I turn my camera off.
- I am a blunt judge. If you choose to pref me, that’s on you. Blow me up and I might say some harsh things. I wont call you out of your name, but I will be very clear about your skills (or lack thereof) in the debate.
- I also might cry...I'm clinically hypersensitive from PTSD. If I cry and you weren't being a total jerk, don't over-apologize and make the RFD about me, lets just plan on a written RFD in that case.
The longer version:
I've been told you need to average a 29.2 to clear nowadays. Because of that:
-a learning speech will be 28.4-28.7,
-an average speech will be 28.8-29.1,
-a clearing level speech will be 29.2-29.5,
-a top ten speaker will be 29.6-29.9.
I'm not giving 30s. Ya gotta be perfect to get a 30, and Hannah Montana taught me that nobody's perfect.
If you get below a 28.4 you probably severely annoyed me.
If you get below a 28, you were probably a problem in the debate, ethically.
-I’ve rarely judged a planless debate where the neg has not gone for framework. In instances where I have, the neg was policy style impact turning a concept of the aff, not going for a K based on a different theory of the world.
-I generally went for framework against planless affirmatives when I debated, and therefore am a bit deeper on the neg side of things. That being said, I also have a standard for what the neg needs to do to make a complete argument.
-I don’t think topicality, or adhering to a resolution, is analogous to rape, slavery, or other atrocities. That doesn't mean arguments about misogynoir, pornotroping, or other arguments of that nature don't work with me. I understand the logic of something being problematic. It's just the oversimplification of theory into false comparisons I take issue with.
-I don’t think that not being topical will cause everyone to quit, lose all ability to navigate existential crises, or other tedious internal link chains. That being said, I love an external impact to framework that defends the politics of government action.
-I would really prefer if people had reasonable arguments on topicality for why or why they don’t need to read a plan, rather than explaining to me their existential impact to voting aff or neg. In the same way that I'm not persuaded the neg will quit or extinction will happen if you don't read a plan, I also don't think extinction will happen if you lose to topicality. Focus instead on the real debate impacts at hand. Though, as said above, I love a good defense of your politics, and if that has a silly extinction impact that's fine.
-I find myself persuaded that the case can not outweigh topicality. Arguments from the case can be used to impact turn topicality, but that is distinct from “case outweighs limits” in my mind. T is a gateway issue. If the neg goes for T, that's what the debate is about. This is why I think many planless 1ACs are best when they have a built-in angle against framework.
Neg K v plans:
-Generally, the alt won’t solve when the aff does a serious push, but the aff will let the neg get away with murder on alt solvency.
-Generally, the alt doing the plan is a reason to reject the alt/team absent a framework debate, which is fine.
-Generally, contradictions justify severance
-Generally, the neg is allowed to read Ks
-I'm getting more and more persuaded the neg needs a big push on framework to beat the perm. If the alt is fiated and not mutually exclusive with the plan, there is almost no way to convince me that the perm won't solve.
-Framework debates are won by engaging the theory aspect and is pragmatism/action desirable, not just one. Typically the neg spends a bunch of time winning the aff is an unethical method, while the aff is talking about fairness and limits.
K v K debate:
I tend to find myself thinking of things in terms of causality, so if that’s not your jam you gotta tell me not to think in that way. I have *technically* judged a K v K debate, but I'm pretty sure it was a cap debate that was more impact turn-y than theory of power-y.
I'm interested in seeing debates like this despite my lack of experience.
K stuff in general:
-My degree is in math. While y’all were reading a lot of background lit, I was doing abstract algebra. You might have to break it down a bit. I'm reading a bit more of the stuff y'all debate from in grad school, but it's still safe to eli5.
-I am more persuaded by identity or constructivism than post-modernism.
-I DO NOT recommend reading Baudrillard, Bataille, etc. You might think "but I'm the one that will change her mind;" you aren't. I will be annoyed for having to judge the debate tbh. You have free will to read it if you want, but I have free will to tank your points with ZERO remorse. If this third warning doesn't do it for you, you are responsible for your speaker points.
General: I don't like to read cards as a default. If a card is called into question or my BS meter is going off, I will read the card. Absent that, I'm mostly about the flow and ethos. Tell me what warrants in your card you want me to know about. Point out the parts in the other team's evidence that are bad for them. That makes my judging job easier AND gives you a sick speaker point boost.
-Tell me if I can (or can’t!) kick it for you. I may or may not remember to if you don’t. I may or may not feel like you are allowed to if you don’t.
-Reading definitions of should means the perm or theory is in tough shape. It's not unwinnable, but I was a 2A… Tricky process counterplans that argue to result in the aff by means of solvency, but are *actually* competitive (more than just should and resolved definitions), game on. If that means you have to define some topic words in an interesting way, I'm fine with that. Also, despite being a classic 2A, I find myself holding the aff to a higher standard sometimes. Maybe it's because I went to MSU, but a lot of times I find myself thinking "this CP obviously doesn't solve. why doesn't the aff just say that or try to cut a card about it???"
-Make the intrinsic perm great again
-Links to the net benefit is usually a sliding scale. But sometimes links have a certain threshold where it doesn’t matter which links less. Please consider this nuance when debating.
-TBH – y’all blaze through theory blocks with no clarity and then get confused when I have no standards written down. These debates are bad. Be more clear. Speak at a flowable pace. Maybe make your own arguments. Idk.
-It is debatable whether an argument is a reason to reject the argument or team.
-2ACs that spend 15-plus seconds on the theory shell will see a lot more mileage and viability for the 2AR. One-sentence blips with no warrants and flow checks will be treated as such.
-impact comparison and turns case are lost arts in theory debates.
-Yes, there can be zero DA. No, it’s not as common as you think.
-answer turns case!!!
*Updated September 2023*
I debated for four years at Marquette University High School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Go Packers/Brewers/Bucks! In college, I debated for four years at Michigan State University, earning three first-round bids and a semifinals appearance at the NDT.
Currently, I work on the non-debate side of Michigan State, doing education data analysis, program evaluation, and professional development. On the side, I coach for Georgetown University. I still love debate, but it is no longer my day job. Given that, I'm not a content expert on this topic like some of your other judges might be.
More generally, any given debate can get in-depth quickly, so you should be careful with acronyms/intricacies if you think that your strategy is really innovative or requires a deep understanding of your specific mechanism. Teams sometimes get so deep in the weeds researching their business that they forget to provide a basic explanation for the argument's context/history/background. Instead, they jump into the most advanced part of the topic. If something is creative, that's an issue because it's likely the judge's first time hearing it.
Everyone says it and almost no one means it, but I think that you should debate what you care about/what interests you/what you're good at doing. In other words, put me in the "big-tent" camp. All of the stuff below is too long and shouldn't impact your debating (maybe besides the meta issues section). It really is just my thoughts (vs. a standard), and is only included to offer insight into how I see debate.
META ISSUES/ABBREVIATED PHILOSOPHY/STRIKE CARD ESSENTIAL
1. Assuming equal debating (HUGE assumption), I'm *really* bad for the K on the neg/as planless aff. I find myself constantly struggling with questions in decision-time like: Does the neg ACTUALLY have a link to the plan's MECHANISM or even their SPECIFIC representations? What is the alternative? How does that advocacy change the extremely sweeping and entrenched problems identified in the 1NC/2NC impact evidence? If it's so effective, why doesn't it overcome the links to the plan? If the alt is just about scholarship/ethics/some -ology, how does that compare to material suffering outlined by the 1AC? This year, some of these biases are accentuated by the "disarm" and negative state action planks of the topic. On the affirmative, I think there are many creative ways to critically defend the idea of ending nuclear weapons (especially by the "United States" rather than the "United States federal government"). On the negative, I have hitherto been unimpressed with the Ks of "disarm" (like the ACTUAL "We end the nukes and dismantle them because they risk horrific US first use/nukes are bad" disarm) I've seen.
In the end, when I vote negative for Ks or affirmative for planless affs, it's generally because the losing team dropped a techy ballot like ethics first, serial policy failure, or "we're a PIK." Do you, don't overadapt, and feel confident that I approach every debate with the intention of deciding the question of "who did the better debating?" REGARDLESS of the subject of the debate. Relatedly, know that I'm excited to have the chance to evaluate your arguments (even if it's really late and I'd rather not be judging at all in the abstract) basically no matter what you say. Instead, I would take my above biases as things to keep an eye out for from your opponents/come up with novel responses to/overcover/etc.
2. College debate made me more oriented to tech than truth. In my experience as a debater and judge, ignorance of tech resulted in a callous dismissal of arguments as “bad” and increased judge intervention to determine what is “correct” instead of what was debated in the round and executed more effectively. That said, truth is a huge bonus, and being on the right side makes your task of being technically proficient easier because you can let logic/evidence speak a little for you.
3. I care about evidence quality - to an extent. Debate is a communicative activity, and I'm not going to re-read broad swaths of evidence to ensure that your opponents read a card on all their claims. To be clear, I do think that part of my role in judging is comparing evidence *when it's contested and through the lens with which it was challenged.* Put concretely, if your 2NR says "all their evidence is trash and doesn't say anything" or is silent on evidence comparison, I'm not gonna be doing you any favors and looking at the speech doc. I'm certainly not going to be reading un-underlined text in 1AC/1NC cards without explicit direction of what I'm looking for. Instead, if you're like "Their no prolif cards are all before Kishida and only talk about means vs. motive," I'm happy to read a pile of cards, looking to assess their quality on those two grounds. If that sounds time-consuming for your final rebuttals, it is. You should create time by condensing the debate down to the core issues/places of evidentiary disagreement.
4. Every round could use more calculus and comparisons. The most obvious example of this thesis is with impact calc, but I think there is a laundry list of other examples like considering relative risk, quality of evidence, and author qualifications. As a format, any of these comparisons should have a reason why your argument is preferable, a reason why that frame is important, and a reason why your opponent’s argument is poor/viewed through a poor lens. In the context of impact calc, this framework means saying that your impact outweighs on timeframe, that timeframe is important, and that while your opponent’s impact might have a large magnitude, I should ignore that frame of decision-making. Engaging your opponents’ arguments on a deeper level and resolving debates is the easiest way to get good points. Beyond that, making a decision is functionally comparing each team’s stance/evidence quality/technical ability on a few nexus questions, so if you’re doing this work for me you will probably like my decision a lot more.
5. I hold debaters to a high standard for making an argument. Any claim should be supported with a warrant, evidence, and impact on my decision. Use early speeches to get ahead on important questions. For instance, I won’t dismiss something like “Perm do Both,” but I think the argument would be bolstered by a reason why the perm is preferable in the 2AC (i.e. how it interacts with the net benefits) instead of saving those arguments for the 1AR/2AR. By the way, you should consider this point my way out in post-rounds where you're like "but I said X...It was right here!" For me, if something is important enough to win/lose a debate, you should spend a significant amount of time there, connect, and make sure your claim is *completely* and *thoughtfully* warranted.
6. All debates have technical mistakes, but not all technical mistakes are equal or irreversible. Given those assumptions, the best rebuttals recognize flaws and make “even if” statements/explain why losing an argument does not mean they lose the debate. I think debaters fold too often on mistakes. Just because you dropped a theory argument doesn’t mean you cannot cross-apply an argument from another theory argument, politics, or T to win.
7. I'm a bad judge for yes/no arguments like "presumption," "links to the net benefit absolutely," or "zero risk of X." I think the best debaters work in the grey areas.
8. Things people don't do enough:
a) Start with the title for their 1NC off case positions (i.e. first off states)
b) Give links labels (i.e. our "docket crowdout link" or "our bipart link")
c) Explain what their plan actually does - For instance (in college), what nuclear forces do you disarm? Who does it? What is the mechanism? I've decided that if the aff is vague to an egregious extent, I'll be super easy on the negative with DA links and CP competition. Aff vagueness is also a link to circumvention and explains why fiat doesn't solve definitional non-compliance. I will say, I'd rather lacking aff clarity (e.g. when aff's include resolutional language in their plan and say "plan text in a vacuum") be resolved by PICs/topic DAs than by T. I don't think that the negative gets to fully define the plan or have some weird positional competition vision for T even if I think 2As frequently dance around what they do. Punish affs for ambiguity and lazy plan writing for the purposes of T on substance!
d) Call out new arguments - I don't have sympathy if you *wish* you said no impact in the 2AC. There are times that I wish it existed, but there isn't and can't be a 3AC. I will say that for mostly pragmatic reasons, I'm not to the point of reviewing every new 1AR argument. I'll protect the 2NR for the 2AR, but you have to do the work before that.
9. Random (likely to change) topic thoughts:
a) Both sides are likely to get to some risk of Russia and/or China nuke war. The best 2Ns/2As will dehomogenize these impacts based on scenarios for escalation and their internal links.
b) Be careful your UQ CP doesn't overwhelm the link to your DA. Sometimes the neg goes a bit too far. I do love a good UQ CP though!
c) This is a rare topic where I'm less interested in process stuff! Who would've thought?
d) Debated equally, I'm 60/40 that we should include NFU subsets and "disarm" actions that fall short of "elimination/abolition." I get the evidence is good. I'd just abstractly rather have these arguments as affs than PICs/would prefer a bit more than the smallest topic since single payer.
Planless affirmatives – The affirmative would ideally have a plan that defends action by the United States (least important). The affirmative should have a direct tie to the topic. In the context of the college resolution, this means you would have a defense of decreasing nukes/their role (pretty important). The affirmative MUST defend the implementation of said "plan" - whatever it is (MOST important). While I will NOT immediately vote negative on T or “Framework” as a procedural issue, if you don’t defend instrumental implementation of a topical plan *rooted in the resolutional question*, you will be in a tough spot. I’m especially good for T/Framework if the affirmative dodges case turns and debates over the question if nukes are good or bad. In particular, I am persuaded by arguments about why these affirmatives are unpredictable, under-limit the topic, and create a bad heuristic for problem-solving. Short version is that you can do you and there is always a chance I’ll vote for you, but I’m probably not an ordinal one for teams that don’t want to engage the resolutional question.
I do want to say that at tournaments with relaxed prefs, I will do my absolute best to keep an open mind about these assumptions. That shouldn't be read as "Thur says he's open to our planless aff - let's move him up to push down 'policy' people." It should be read as if I come up at one of these tournaments, you might as well do what you're most comfortable with/what you've practiced the most instead of over-adapting.
Critiques—Honestly, just read the first point in the "meta issues" section. I understand neolib/deterrence/security pretty well because they were a big part of my major. If you want to push against my confusion on the K (as a concept), you need to have specific links to the plan’s actions, authors, or representations. Again, trying to be honest, if you're itching to say Baudrillard, Bataille, Deleuze, death good, etc., I'm not your guy. On framework, the affirmative will almost surely be able to weigh their 1AC (unless they totally airball), and I'm pretty hesitant to place reps/scholarship/epistemology before material reality. One other thing - substitute out buzzwords and tags for explanation. Merely saying "libidinal economy" or "structural antagonism" without some evidence and explanation isn't a win condition.
In terms of being affirmative against these arguments, I think that too often teams lose sight of the easy ballots and/or tricks. The 1AR and 2AR need to “un-checklist” those arguments. In terms of disproving the critique, I think I’m pretty good for alternative fails/case outweighs or the permutation with a defense of pragmatism or reformism. Of those 2 - I'm best for "your alt does nothing...we have an aff..."
Case- I’m a huge fan. With that, I think that it’s very helpful for the neg (obviously?). I believe that no matter what argument you plan to go for, (excluding T/theory) case should be in some part of the 2nr. In the context of the critique, you can use case arguments to prove that the threats of the 1AC are flawed or constructed, that there are alternative causes to the affirmative that only the alternative solves, or that the impacts of the affirmative are miniscule and the K outweighs. For CPs, even if you lose a solvency deficit, you can still win because the net benefit outweighs the defended affirmative. Going for case defense to the advantage that you think the CP solves the least forces me to drop you twice as I have to decide the CP doesn’t solve AND that the case impact outweighs your net-benefit. That seems like a pretty good spot to be in.
CP- My favorite ones are specific to the 1AC with case turns as net benefits. Aside from that, I think that I am more inclined than most to vote aff on the perm when there is a trivial/mitigated net benefit vs. a smallish solvency deficit, but in the end I would hope you would tell me what to value first. I had a big section written up on theory, and I decided it's too round-dependent to list out. I still think that more than 2 conditional positions is SUPER risky, functional > textual competition, competition is dictated by mandates and not outcomes (i.e. CPs that are designed to spur follow-on are very strategic), judge kick is good, consult/condition/delay/threaten generally suck, and interpretations matter A LOT.
Topicality- People have started flagging violations based on things not in the plan (solvency lines, advocate considerations, aff tags, 2ac arguments, etc.). This is a bad way to understand T debates. The affirmative defines the plan, positional competition is bad, plan text in a vacuum makes sense, and the way to beat teams that include resolutional language in the plan is on PICs not T.
I default to reasonability, but I can be convinced that Competing Interpretations is a decent model. The negative does not need actual abuse, but they do need to win why their potential abuse is likely as opposed to just theoretical. That is, I'll be less persuaded by a 25-item case list than a really good explanation of a few devastating new affirmatives they allow. If I were to pick only one standard to go for, it would be predictable limits. They shape all pre-round research that guides in-round clash and ensure that debates are dialogues instead of monologues. Finally, as a framing point, I generally think bigger topics = better.
They're totally broken...
I'll try to follow the below scale based on where points have been somewhat recently.
29.4 to 29.7 – Speaker Award - 1 to 10
29.2 to 29.3 – Speaker Award - 11 to 25
28.9 to 29.1 – Should break/Have a chance
28.4 to 28.8 – Outside chance at breaking to .500
28 to 28.3 – Not breaking, sub-.500
27 to 27.9 – Keep working
Below 26 – Something said/done warranting a post-round conversation with coaches
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: email@example.com - 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.
Cal debate 13-17, coached for Cal 18-22, currently coaching Houston.
I'm online for Georgetown but expect to judge in person at Texas and the NDT. Online, please slow down a bit and record your speeches in case there are connection issues.
Debate is for debaters; I'll vote for no-plan Affs, Ks, and even conditionality bad. Of course, arguments that attack opponents as people, wipeout*, spark, and "new Affs bad" will never be considered.
Default is judge kick. This can be reversed but requires ink before the 2AR.
I take judge instruction very seriously.
I have a very high bar for ethics challenges and will presume good faith error by the accused.
*Saying another value matters more than extinction is perfectly fine.
Last updated 8 September 2023
I am currently a policy and PF coach at Taipei American School. My previous affiliations include Fulbright Taiwan, the University of Wyoming, Apple Valley High School, The Harker School, the University of Oklahoma, and Bartlesville High School.
Email for the chain: lwzhou10 at gmail.com
I care that you debate the topic in a way that reflects serious engagement with the relevant scholarly literature. I would also prefer to judge debates that do not contain references to arcane debate norms or jargon.
Additionally, I expect that your evidence abides by NSDA rules as outlined in the NSDA Evidence Guide. If I find evidence that does not conform to these guidelines, I will minimally disregard that piece of evidence and maximally vote against you.
I do not believe that either team has any obligation to "frontline" in second rebuttal, but my preferences on this are malleable. If "frontlining" is the agreed upon norm, I expect that the second speaking team also devote time to rebuttals in the constructive speeches.
The idea of defense being "sticky" seems illogical to me.
I find it extremely difficult to vote for arguments that lack resolutional basis (e.g., most theory or procedural arguments, some kritikal arguments, etc.). I find trends to evade debate over the topic to be anathema to my beliefs about what Public Forum debate ought to look like.
There is also a strong trend towards under-developing arguments in an activity that already operates with compressed speech times. I also strongly dislike the practice of spamming one-line quotes with no context (or warrant) from a dozen sources in a single speech. I will reward teams generously if they invest in a few well-warranted arguments which they spend time meaningfully weighing compared to if they continue to shotgun arguments with little regard for their plausibility or quality.
Update: Exchanging evidence in a manner consistent with the NSDA's rules on evidence exchange has become a painfully slow process. Please simply set up an email chain or use an online file sharing service in order to quickly facilitate the exchange of relevant evidence. Calling for individual pieces of evidence appears to me as nothing more than prep stealing.
Stolen from Matt Liu: "Feb 2022 update: If your highlighting is incoherent gibberish, you will earn the speaker points of someone who said incoherent gibberish. The more of your highlighting that is incoherent, the more of your speech will be incoherent, and the less points you will earn. To earn speaker points, you must communicate coherent ideas."
I debated for OU back in the day but you shouldn't read too much into that—I wasn't ever particularly good or invested when I was competing. I lean more towards the policy side than the K side and I'm probably going to be unfamiliar with a lot of the ins-and-outs of most kritiks, although I will do my best to fairly evaluate the debate as it happens.
1. I tend to think the role of the aff is to demonstrate that the benefits of a topical plan outweigh its costs and that the role of the neg is to demonstrate that the costs and/or opportunity costs of the aff's plan outweigh its benefits.
2. I find variations of "fairness bad" or "logic/reasoning bad," to be incredibly difficult to win given that I think those are fundamental presuppositions of debate itself. Similarly, I find procedural fairness impacts to be the best 2NRs on T/Framework.
3. Conditionality seems obviously good, but I'm not opposed to a 2AR on condo. Most other theory arguments seem like reasons to reject the argument, not the team. I lean towards reasonability. Most counterplan issues seem best resolved at the level of competition, not theory.
4. Warrant depth is good. Argument comparison is good. Both together—even better.
5. Give judge instruction—tell me how to evaluate the debate.
None of these biases are locked in—in-round debating will be the ultimate determinant of an argument’s legitimacy.
I've judged over 1000 LD and policy rounds from novice locals to TOC elims. I am not particularly partial to a style in which you debate the topic, e.g. philosophical, kritikal, traditional, etc., but I do care that you debate the topic. Frivolous theory or kritiks that shift the question of the debate start a few steps behind for me.
Ideological stances that might influence prefs:
1. Fairness and logic are good—args to the contrary are self-defeating.
2. The aff should defend the topic; the neg should disprove the aff—I've voted against framework/for Ks a decent amount too but it's just a tougher route to take in front of me.
3. Some tricks are fine, most stretch the definition of what counts as an argument—anything that relies almost entirely on your opponent dropping it probably isn't even worth making in front of me.
4. I think Nebel T is true, but tech > truth.
5. Conditionality is probably bad in LD, but it's not that hard to defend condo good; most other counterplan issues are best resolved at the level of competition, not theory.
6. I'm inclined to think that everything other than conditionality and T should be a reason to reject the arg. Most other theoretical objections aren't particularly persuasive to me.
7. I'm generally against sandbagging both in the 1NC and 1AR. I would rather the 1NC read 1 less off case position in favor of more developed case analysis, impact calc, or fully complete arguments. I would rather the 1AR make 1 less theory argument in favor of actually explaining what the words "perm do both" mean. How much "new-ness" is allowed in the 2NR or 2AR is obviously contextual but the default is that it's determined by how new your opponent was.
8. Ev ethics are important—I'll default to the NSDA Evidence Guide.
9. I'd prefer not to read your cards—I'd rather you explain them to me.
None of these biases are locked in—in-round debating will be the ultimate determinant of an argument’s legitimacy. I'm not sure I have strong opinions about much else. Like most other judges, I like evidence quality, impact calculus, and strategic choices. Like most other judges, I dislike cheating, unclarity, and impropriety.
I will NOT hesitate drop anyone who spreads or engages in debate practices that would not be persuasive or understandable to a reasonable person—this is not negotiable. Please do not see my policy background or circuit LD experience as an invitation to make this round uninteresting for everyone involved.
1. Please time yourselves. Using a phone is fine.
2. Yes, off-time roadmaps are good.
3. Offense (why you win) is superior to defense (why you don't lose). I'm much more interested in the former; don't spend so much time on the latter.
4. The criterion/framework is not a voting issue. If you say it is, I'll make a big sad face :(.
5. I prefer more principled and philosophical arguments in debate. If the debate does become a question about the consequences of adopting some policy, I prefer empirical studies and examples over random predictions without evidence.
6. I prefer voting issues to be given as they arise on the flow, not in a discrete section at the end of rebuttal speeches.
7. You do not need to ask me to use your prep time (although I will keep track of time myself).
8. You can read my longer LD paradigm at the bottom for a more detailed view at my decision-making process.
9. You MUST follow the NSDA Evidence Rules (High School Manual here, shorter version here). I care deeply about evidentiary ethics in an academic event and I will not hesitate to punish to the full extent allowed by the rules up to, and including, voting against you.
10. I hate evasion. Direct clash with your opponent's central points is preferred.
11. I will keep a rigorous flow, time all speeches, and not hesitate to enforce those time limits.
My debate experience is primarily in LD, policy, and PF. I do not consider myself well-versed in all the intricacies or nuances of WSD strategy and norms. My only strong preference is that want to see well-developed and warranted arguments. I would prefer fewer, better developed arguments over more, less-developed arguments.
Online Procedural Concerns
1. Follow tournament procedure regarding online competition best practices.
2. Record your speeches locally. If you cut out and don't have a local backup, that's a you problem.
3. Keep your camera on when you speak, I don't care if it's on otherwise. Only exception is if there are tech or internet issues---keeping the camera off for the entirety of the debate otherwise is a good way to lose speaker points.
4. I'll keep my camera off for prep time, but I'll verbally indicate I'm ready before each speech and turn on the camera for your speeches. If you don't hear me say I'm ready and see my camera on, don't start.
5. Yes, I'll say clear and stuff for online rounds.