Greenhill Fall Classic
2021 — NSDA Campus, TX/US
Policy RR Paradigm ListAll Paradigms: Show Hide
I am a mathematics student at the University of Chicago (Class of 2023). I debated for three years at New Trier (Class of 2019). During my senior year, I broke and received speaker awards at most national tournaments and received four bids to the TOC.
My hearing is below average (probably C to C+ range) and online debate certainly doesn't help that, so please try to speak more slowly and clearly than usual.
I tend to think of debates as a competition of narratives, where I vote for the team that has constructed a more persuasive story as to why they should win. High quality evidence is the most determinative factor in how persuasive your narrative will end up being to me. Evidence doesn't have to come in the form of a traditional card, but has to involve some kind of data/empirical truth that justifies a claim. In most varsity debates, I will read nearly all relevant evidence during and after the round. I don't have "argument preferences" per se, but I more believe that you should argumentatively and strategically follow the highest quality literature on the topic.
I often feel most comfortable deciding a round when I understand what the conditions are under which either team would win or lose. This is easiest for me in substantive policy rounds. At most tournaments I end up judging zero K/clash debates. I can evaluate kritikal debates, but in close rounds I find it harder to have a clear mental picture of how the arguments in the debates interact in a K round than in a policy round. The questions I often find myself asking in these rounds are “what part of the aff’s political strategy/method is the neg critiquing?” and “how should I evaluate the alt as a methodology against the aff?”
In terms of evaluation, theory/topicality rounds are also not my wheelhouse. I often end up feeling like I don't understand why the team going for theory/topicality should win the debate. I would prefer a substantive strategy if viable. Please be clear and thorough if you are going for a procedural argument, and if it is a framework debate, try to spice up the arguments a little bit - I find that framework/T-USfg debates can get a little stale. For many K affs, going for a substantive argument (that can even be framework-adjacent) is competitively viable - presumption and the Marx K are two of my favorites.
I will try to award competitive speaker points. I think of 28.8+ as worthy of elimination rounds, 29.1+ as speaker award territory, and 29.3+ as reserved for among the best speeches of the tournament.
People/things in the pop culture canon to reference/joke/meme for additional speaker points: Formula 1, Jeopardy!, the New York Times Crossword, Roland Kim.
Negative points for being rude/offensive, cheating, and math jokes.
Director of Debate at the University of Texas
email@example.com - please add me to your email chain
Square up. Friday night lights. Fight night. Any given Sunday. Start your engines and may the best debater win.
My bias is that debate is competitive and adversarial, not cooperative. My bias is that debate strategies should be evidence-centric and, at a minimum, rooted in an academic discipline. My bias is that I do not want to consider anything prior to the reading of the 1AC when making my decision. My bias is that I will only flow one speaker in each rebuttal unless it is clearly and compellingly established in the constructives why I should flow both speakers in the same speech.
For me to vote on an argument it must have a claim, warrant, and impact. A claim is an assertion of truth or opinion. A warrant is an analytical connection between data/grounds/evidence and your claim. An impact is the implication of that claim for how I should evaluate the debate.
I think about permutations in a very precise way. I do not think it's the only way to think about them but I am unlikely to be persuaded to think otherwise. I think that a plan specifies a desired outcome. There are a set number of means to achieve the desired outcome. I also think that a counterplan or alternative specifies a desired outcome with a set number of means to achieve that outcome. A permutation asserts that it is theoretically possible for there to be a means of action that satisfies both the outcome of the plan and the counterplan or alternative. A permutation could be expressed as where the set numbers of the aff's and the neg's strategies overlap. Permutations are defense. Rarely do they "solve all their offense." It would behoove affs to know what offense they are "no linking" with the perm and what offense the perm does not resolve. This discussion should ideally begin in the 2AC and it must take place in the 1AR.
---"Perm do the counterplan" and "perm do the alt" are claims that are often unaccompanied by warrants. I will not vote for these statements unless the aff explains why they are theoretically legitimate BEFORE the 2AR. I am most likely to vote for these arguments when the aff has 1) a clear model of counterplan/alternative competition that justifies such a perm AND 2) an explanation for where the aff and the cp/alt overlap
I would prefer that debaters engage arguments instead of finesse their way out of links. This is especially awful when it takes place in clash debates. If you assert your opponent's offense does not apply when it does I will lower your speaker points.
In that vein, it is my bias that if an affirmative team chooses not to say "USFG Should" in the 1AC that they are doing it for competitive reasons. It is, definitionally, self-serving. Self-serving does not mean the aff should lose, just that they should be more realistic about the function of their 1AC in a competitive activity. If the aff does not say "USFG Should" they are deliberately shifting the point of stasis to other issues that they believe should take priority. It is reciprocal, therefore, for the negative to use any portion of the 1AC as it's jumping off point.
I think that limits, not ground, is the controlling internal link for most T-related impacts. Ground is an expression of the division of affirmative and negative strategies on any given topic. It is rarely an independent impact to T. I hate cross-examination questions about ground. I do not fault teams for being unhelpful to opponents that pose questions in cross-examination using the language of ground. People commonly ask questions about ground to demonstrate to the judge that the aff has not really thought out how their approach to the resolution fosters developed debates. A better, more precise question to ask would be: "What are the win conditions for the negative within your model of competition?"
***Old Paradigm (Still True)***
I judge debates based on execution. My decisions rarely come down to just 2NR v 2AR. They are strongly influenced by how ideas develop in CX, the block, and the 1AR.
The best rebuttals will isolate a unique impact and explain why their opponent's impact is either less important or impossible to resolve. The most persuasive rebuttals, to me, are those that explain how I should evaluate the debate given the available information. This is especially true in debates about debate where neither side agrees on a normative method for evaluation.
I can't stress how irritated I am by students that make sweeping claims about argument styles that they don't usually engage in. Debate is hard and everyone puts in an incredible amount of work. Oftentimes, people don't get credit for their effort. That stinks. That does not mean, however, that other folks' contributions are less valuable than yours because they approach the game differently.
I think there is an important role for philosophical arguments in debate, with caveats. Ks should disprove solvency. I think creatively interpreting the resolution is interesting. Affirmative teams that decide the resolution doesn't matter in advance of the debate and only impact turn their opponent's positions bore me. I would rather affs be deliberately extra-topical than anti-topical. Link arguments should be consistent with framework arguments. The terms used in speeches and tags should reflect the language of the literature base they are meant to represent. Not all Ks of humanism are the same. Not all Ks are Ks of humanism.
I think there is an important role for policy arguments in debate, with caveats. Vague plan writing does not equal strategic plan writing. Impact evidence is often outdated and/or includes multiple alt-causes. I perceive a degree of self-righteousness from debaters that have extensive experience going for T-USFG but have little experience going for T in other situations. I perceive a higher degree of self-righteousness from debaters who preach the merits of research when going for T-USFG while very obviously reading evidence they copy and pasted from other school's open-source documents.
What you should expect of me:
1) I will evaluate the debate and cast a provisional decision about which team did the better debating based on the content of the speeches and the cross-examinations.
2) I will flow your debate in an excel template and save a copy after the debate for scouting purposes.
How I think about debate:
I. The aff's burden is to prove that the 1AC is A) an example of the res and B) a positive departure from the squo. The neg should disprove the 1AC and can win by establishing that the aff is wrong about either A or B. The neg can also win by offering a counter-proposal that competes with and is net beneficial to the 1AC.
II. In order to accomplish A, the aff should be able to:
1) provide an interpretation of the resolution
2) explain how the 1AC meets their interpretation of the resolution
3) demonstrate that their vision of the resolution is superior to the neg’s
III. In the event that the aff argues they do not have to abide by the terms of the resolution, the aff should be able to:
1) provide sound reasoning for why the agreed upon point of stasis fails to address the agreed upon controversy area
2) explain the roles of the aff and the neg in their vision of debate
3) demonstrate that their vision of debate is superior to the neg’s
IV. The aff cannot win by simply flipping the burden of proof and indicting the neg’s interpretation of the resolution.* The aff must at all times defend a contestable proposition. If III (see above) occurs, the neg's burden is not to disprove the solvency and harms of the 1AC (B). Rather, all the neg should have to disprove is that abandoning A is necessary to solve/talk about B. If the neg can demonstrate that the original stasis point can accommodate the harms area then the aff has not proven that abandoning the res must occur.
*Exceptions to IV: language Ks, conditionality bad
Things I enjoy:
· When debaters express a nuanced knowledge of the resolution/controversy area
· Good jokes
· Bold choices
· Exposing specious arguments in C-X
· Solvency debates
· Links to the plan
· Supporting claims with high-quality research
· Final rebuttals that begin with a brief explanation of the key issues in the debate and why they have won given the arguments presented in earlier speeches
· When debaters prioritize answering the question, “What should debate look like?”
· Creative permutations—a perm says that there is a possible world in which both the 1AC and the counter-proposal can occur simultaneously, or that the counter-proposal is an example of how the aff’s proposition could be implemented—the aff should describe the permutation in both rebuttals and explicitly argue what elements of the neg’s strategy it mitigates/solves. Asserting the hypothetical validity of a perm and being intentionally vague until the 2AR does not an aff ballot make.
Things I don’t enjoy:
· When debaters compensate for dropping an argument by asserting that it is new
· When embedded clash becomes an excuse for not flowing
· When debaters make straw person characterizations of argument styles they do not personally engage in
· Trained incapacity
· “Death good”/ “death not real”
· Basic strats
· Recycled strats
· Recycled blocks
· K 1NC shells that I can find in my inbox from previous seasons
· “Procedural fairness”
· Teams that don’t take advantage if/when their opponent impact turns fairness
· Affs that don’t defend a substantial departure from the squo
· Affs that don’t specify the terms of the 1AC/backtrack on the terms of the 1AC for the purpose of permuting the neg’s counter-proposal
· Bad internal links
· C-X belligerence
· Hyperbolic impacts
· Counter-perms (honestly, it’s been 10 years and I still don’t get it)
· Asserting “perm do the counter-proposal” when it’s shamelessly severance
· When great CX moments don’t make it into the speeches
· Failing to capitalize on 2AC/block choices and settling for coin flip decisions
· “Point me to a line in the card where it says…” OR “I just ctrl F’ed that word in the document and it isn’t there”
Associate Director of Debate @ Greenhill
Still helping KU in my free time
Please add me to the email chain: firstname.lastname@example.org
College debate announcement for anti-trust topic (Kentucky tournament): The extent of my topic knowledge is the three practice debates I've listened to.
I love debate and I will do my absolute best to make a decision that makes sense and give a helpful RFD.
I want to give you a sense of my decision making process, which I think is especially important for high school debaters since I am judging many more of those this year. I begin processing the debate with link/uniqueness in most cases. I do this because it is typically the more complex aspect of the debate and needs to be debated with the most care and detail. Ultimately I don't think this influences the outcome a ton but it does mean that I do not just compare the impacts and then vote. There are many features of any given argument that also influence how those impacts may or not play out. A lot of 2NR/2AR's start with impact comparison and that is awesome and I am not asking you to change that. Just make sure this does not trade off with robust explanation/comparison/synthesis of the other parts of the argument.
Competing interpretations are easier to evaluate than reasonability. You need to explain to me how we determine what is "reasonable" if you are going for reasonability. I am typically more persuaded by arguments about limits and fairness. (I think as a community we have done a poor job teaching 2A's how to handle topicality.)
Affirmatives should be about the topic. I will be fairly sympathetic to T-USFG arguments if I do not know what the aff means re: the topic after the 1AC.
I think teams are meming a bit on both sides of T-USFG/Framework debates. Phrases like "third and fourth level testing" and "rev v rev debates are better" are kind of meaningless absent robust explanation. Fairness is an impact that I will vote on. Like any other impact, it needs to be explained and compared to the other team's impact. I have also voted on arguments about ethics, education, and pedagogy. I will try my best to decide who wins an impact and which impact matters more based on the debate that happens.
I do not think the neg has to win a TVA to win topicality; it can be helpful if it happens to make a lot of sense but I don't think the negative is under any obligation to provide a way to solve the aff.
I would love to see you go for a disad and case in the 2NR. I do not find it persuasive when an affirmative team's only answer to a DA is impact framing. Impact framing can be important but it is one of a number of arguments that should be made.
-CJR specific/Maybe also true for the water topic: I am aware the DA's aren't all great. I don't think that's a reason to give up on them. It just means you need a CP or really good case arguments.
I really enjoy an old-fashioned k vs the aff debate. I think there are lots of interesting nuances available for the neg and the aff in this type of debate. Here are some specific thoughts that might be helpful when constructing your strategy:
1. Links of omission are not links. Links of “commission” will take a lot of explaining.
2. Debating the case matters unless there is a compelling framework argument for why I should not evaluate the case.
3. If you are reading a critique that pulls from a variety of literature bases, make sure I understand how they all tie to together. I am persuaded by aff arguments about how it's very difficult to answer the foundation of multiple bodies of critical literature because they often have different ontological, epistemological, psychoanalytic, etc assumptions. Also, how does one alt solve all of that??
4. Aff v. K: I have noticed affirmative teams saying "it's bad to die twice" on k's and I have no idea what that means. Aff framework arguments tend to be a statement that is said in the 2AC and repeated in the 1AR and 2AR - if you want fw to influence how I vote, you need to do more than this. Explain how it implicates how I assess the link and/or alternative solvency. Done well, I do think aff fw arguments can be really useful.
Generic counterplans are necessary and good. I think specific counterplans are even better. Counterplans that read evidence from the 1AC or an aff author - excellent! I don't have patience for overly convoluted counterplans supported by barely highlighted ev.
I do not subscribe to (often camp-driven) groupthink about which cp's "definitely solve" which aff's. I strongly disagree with this approach to debate and will think through the arguments on both sides of the debate because that is what debate is about.
Solvency deficits are a thing and will be accounted for and weighed along with the risk of a DA, the size of the DA impact, the size of the solvency deficit, and other relevant factors. If you are fiating through solvency deficits you should come prepared with a theoretical justification for that.
I am generally neg leaning on cp theory but if you want to make an argument about why a certain cp is illegitimate (cough, con con) I will do my best to objectively evaluate that argument.
Some people think it is auto-true that politics disads and certain cp's are terrible for debate. I don't agree with that. I think there are benefits/drawbacks to most arguments. This matters for framework debates. A plan-less aff saying "their model results in politics DA's which is obviously the worst" will not persuade absent a warrant for that claim.
Love a good case debate. It's super under-utilized. I think it's really impressive when a 2N knows more about the aff evidence than the aff does.
Please don't be nasty to each other; don't be surprised if I interrupt you if you are.
I don't flow the 1AC and 1NC because I am reading your evidence. I have to do this because if I don't I won't get to read the evidence before decision time in a close debate.
If the debate is happening later than 9PM you might consider slowing down and avoiding especially complicated arguments.
For debating online:
-If you think clarity could even possibly be an issue, slow down a ton. More than ever clarity and quality are more important than quantity.
-If my camera is off, I am not there, I am not flowing your speech, I probably can't even hear you. If you give the 1AR and I'm not there, there is not a whole lot I can do for you.
I've coached LASA since 2005. I judge ~100 debates per season on the high school circuit.
If there’s an email chain, please add me: email@example.com.
If you’re using a flash drive, prep stops when you pull the flash drive out of your computer. If you’re using an email chain, I won’t count attaching and emailing as prep time. Please do not steal prep.
If you have little time before the debate, here’s all you need to know: do what you do best. I try to be as unbiased as possible and I will defer to your analysis. As long as you are clear, go as fast as you want.
Most judges give appalling decisions. Here's where I will try to be better than them:
- They intervene, even when they claim they won't. Perhaps "tech over truth" doesn't mean what it used to. I will attempt to adjudicate and reach a decision purely on only the words you say. If that's insufficient to reach a decision either way--and it often isn't--I will add the minimum work necessary to come to a decision. The more work I have to do, the wider the range of uncertainty for you and the lower your speaks go.
- They aren't listening carefully. They're mentally checked out, flowing off the speech doc, distracted by social media, or have half their headphones off and are taking selfies during the 1AR. I will attempt to flow every single detail of your speeches. I will probably take notes during CX if I think it could affect my decision. If you worked hard on debate, you deserve a judge who works hard as well.
- They give poorly-reasoned decisions that rely on gut instincts and ignore arguments made in the 2NR/2AR. I will probably take my sweet time making and writing my decision. I will try to be as thorough and transparent as possible. If I intervene anywhere, I will explain why I had to intervene and how you could've prevented that intervention. If I didn't catch or evaluate an argument, I will explain why you under-explained or failed to extend it. I will try to anticipate your questions and preemptively answer them in my decision.
- They reconstruct the debate and try to find the most creative and convoluted path to a ballot. I guess they're trying to prove they're smart? These decisions are detestable because they take the debate away from the hands of the debaters. If there are multiple paths to victory for both teams, I will take what I think is the shortest path and explain why I think it's the shortest path, and you can influence my decision by explaining why you control the shortest path. But, I'm not going to use my decision to attempt to prove I'm more clever than the participants of the debate.
- I’m not a professional debate coach or even a teacher. I work as a finance analyst in the IT sector and I volunteer as a debate coach on evenings and weekends. I don’t teach at debate camp and my topic knowledge comes primarily from judging debates. My finance background means that, when left to my own devices, I err towards precision, logic, data, and concrete examples. However, I can be convinced otherwise in any particular debate, especially when it’s not challenged by the other team.
- Tech over truth in most instances. I will stick to my flow and minimize intervention as much as possible. I firmly believe that debates should be left to the debaters. I rarely make facial expressions because I don’t want my personal reactions to affect how a debate plays out. I will maintain a flow, even if you ask me not to. However, tech over truth has its limits. An argument must have sufficient explanation for it to matter to me, even if it’s dropped. You need a warrant and impact, not just a claim.
- Evidence comparison is under-utilized and is very important to me in close debates. I often call for evidence, but I’m much more likely to call for a card if it’s extended by author or cite.
- I don’t judge or coach at the college level, which means I’m usually a year or two behind the latest argument trends that are first broken in college and eventually trickle down to high school. If you’re reading something that’s close to the cutting edge of debate arguments, you’ll need to explain it clearly. This doesn’t mean I don’t want to hear new arguments. On the contrary, a big reason why I continue coaching debate is because I enjoy listening to and learning about new arguments that challenge my existing ways of thinking.
- Please mark your own cards. No one is marking them for you.
- If I feel that you are deliberately evading answering a question or have straight up lied, and the question is important to the outcome of the debate, I will stop the timer and ask you to answer the question. Example: if you read condo bad, the neg asks in CX whether you read condo bad, and you say no, I’ll ask if you want me to cross-out condo on my flow.
- Don't over-adapt to me in these debates. If you are most comfortable going for procedural fairness, do that. If you like going for advocacy skills, you do you. Like any other debate, framework debates hinge on impact calculus and comparison.
- When I vote neg, it’s usually because the aff team missed the boat on topical version, has made insufficient inroads into the neg’s limits disad, and/or is winning some exclusion disad but is not doing comparative impact calculus against the neg’s offense. The neg win rate goes up if the 2NR can turn or access the aff's primary impact (e.g. clash and argument testing is vital to ethical subject formation).
- When I vote aff, it’s usually because the 2NR is disorganized and goes for too many different impacts, there’s no topical version or other way to access the aff’s offense, and/or concedes an exclusion disad that is then impacted out by the 2AR. Without a credible counter-interpretation that the aff meets and that establishes some sufficient limits on the scope of debates, I lean negative.
- Over the years, “tech over truth” has led me to vote neg on some untruthful T violations. If you’re neg and you’ve done a lot of research and are ready to throw down on a very technical and carded T debate, I’m a good judge for you.
- I'm a stickler for the quality of a definition, especially if it's from a source that's contextual to the topic, has some intent to define, is exclusive and not just inclusive, etc.
- Reasonability is a debate about the aff’s counter-interpretation, not their aff. The size of the link to the limits disad usually determines how sympathetic I am towards this argument, i.e. if the link is small, then I’m more likely to conclude the aff’s C/I is reasonable even without other aff offense.
- The kritik teams I've judged that have earned the highest speaker points give highly organized and structured speeches, are disciplined in line-by-line debating, and emphasize key moments in their speeches.
- Just like most judges, the more case-specific your link and the more comprehensive your alternative explanation, the more I’ll be persuaded by your kritik.
- I greatly prefer the 2NC structure where you have a short (or no) overview and do as much of your explanation on the line-by-line as possible. If your overview is 6 minutes, you make blippy cross-applications on the line-by-line, and then you drop the last three 2AC cards, I’m going to give the 1AR a lot of leeway on extending those concessions, even if they were somewhat implicitly answered in your overview.
- Framework debates on kritiks rarely factor into my decisions. Frequently, I conclude that there’s not a decisive win for either side here, or that it’s irrelevant because the neg is already allowing the aff to weigh their impacts. Usually, I find myself somewhere in the middle: the neg always has the right to read kritiks, but the aff should have the right to access their advantages. Kritiks that moot the entire 1AC are a tough sell.
- I’m not a good judge for “role of the ballot” arguments, as I usually find these to be self-serving for the team making them. I’m also not a good judge for “competing methods means the aff doesn’t have a right to a perm”. I think the aff always has a right to a perm, but the question is whether the perm is legitimate and desirable, which is a substantive issue to be debated out, not a gatekeeping issue for me to enforce.
- I’m an OK judge for K “tricks”. A conceded root cause explanation, value to life impact, or “alt solves the aff” claim is effective if it’s sufficiently explained. The floating PIK needs to be clearly made in the 2NC for me to evaluate it. If your K strategy hinges on hiding a floating PIK and suddenly busting it out in the 2NR, I’m not a good judge for you.
- Just like most judges, I prefer case-specific over generic counterplans, but we can’t always get what we want.
- I lean neg on PICs. I lean aff on international fiat, 50 state fiat, condition, and consult. These preferences can change based on evidence or lack thereof. For example, if the neg has a state counterplan solvency advocate in the context of the aff, I’m less sympathetic to theory.
- I will not judge kick the CP unless explicitly told to do so by the 2NR, and it would not take much for the 2AR to persuade me to ignore the 2NR’s instructions on that issue.
- Presumption is in the direction of less change. If left to my own devices, I will probably conclude that most counterplans that are not explicitly PICs are a larger change than the aff.
- I’m a sucker for specific and comparative impact calculus. For example, most nuclear war impacts are probably not global nuclear war but some kind of regional scenario. I want to know why your specific regional scenario is faster and/or more probable. Reasonable impact calculus is much more persuasive to me than grandiose impact claims.
- I believe that in most cases, the link is more important for determining the direction of risk than uniqueness. The exceptions are when the uniqueness can be definitively determined rather than probabilistic.
- Zero risk is possible but difficult to prove by the aff. However, a miniscule neg risk of the disad is probably background noise.
- I actually enjoy listening to a good theory debate, but these seem to be exceedingly rare. I think I can be persuaded that many theoretical objections require punishing the team and not simply rejecting the argument, but substantial work needs to be done on why setting a precedent on that particular issue is important. You're unlikely to win that a single intrinsic permutation is a round-winning voter, even if the other team drops it, unless you are investing significant time in explaining why it should be an independent voting issue.
- I think that I lean affirmative compared to the rest of the judging community on the legitimacy of counterplans. In my mind, a counterplan that is wholly plan-inclusive (consultation, condition, delay, etc.) is theoretically questionable. The legitimacy of agent counterplans, whether domestic or international, is also contestable. I think the negative has the right to read multiple planks to a counterplan, but reading each plank conditionally is theoretically suspect.
- I usually take a long time to decide, and give lengthy decisions. LASA debaters have benefitted from the generosity of judges, coaches, and lab leaders who used their decisions to teach and trade ideas, not just pick a winner and get a paycheck. Debaters from schools with limited/no coaching, the same schools needed to prevent the decline in policy debate numbers, greatly benefit from judging feedback. I encourage you to ask questions and engage in respectful dialogue with me. However, post-round hostility will be met with hostility. I've been providing free coaching and judging since before you were birthed into the world. If I think you're being rude or condescending to me or your opponents, I will enthusiastically knock you back down to Earth.
- I don't want a card doc. If you send one, I will ignore it. Card docs are an opportunity for debaters to insert cards they didn't read, didn't extend, or re-highlight. They're also an excuse for lazy judges to compensate for a poor flow by reconstructing the debate after the fact. If your debating was disorganized and you need a card doc to return some semblance of organization, I'd rather adjudicate the disorganized debate and then tell you it was disorganized.
Head Coach - Washburn Rural High School, Topeka, KS
Debated at Manhattan High School
Email chain - firstname.lastname@example.org
First thing is first, if anything in this paradigm isn't clear enough, feel free to ask me before the round, I'd be more than happy to clarify.
Short update: 10 minutes of prep is a lot. Debate rounds are very long. If all debaters agree, at a tournament with 10 minutes of prep, I will boost speaker points by +.1 each if you agree to use 8 minutes of prep, and +.3 each if the teams use 5 minutes of prep. All parties must agree before the round, not decide in the middle of the round.
Tl;dr - I judge quite a bit, about 100 rounds last year, and am generally pretty familiar with the topic from coaching and working at camps. As a competitor I gravitated toward plan oriented affs and CP/DA strategies on the neg and have coached teams who debate similarly, but I am open to you debating however you would like to. I have literature deficiencies in some areas that make me less knowledgeable of certain strategies. I am also a teacher who believes in debate as an educational activity, so I am generally open to listening to you debate in whatever fashion you're the most comfortable.
If you would like to know more specifics, they are below.
Topicality: I feel like topicality is usually a question of competing interpretations, but just like anything else in debate, you can persuade me otherwise. I tend to think that debaters are not great at explaining the offense that they have on T flows, and particularly, how offensive arguments interact with one another. I have seen a lot of 2ARs recently where the aff doesn't extend a terminal impact to their counter interp. I pretty much always vote neg in these situations. All too often the neg will go for a limits DA and the aff will say precision, but no one will discuss which one has more value in creating a stable model for debate. Reasonability alone is not an argument that makes sense to me, absent an offensive argument. Good is good enough is nonsense - if you are close to beating a DA, I'm still going to vote neg. If you want to utilize a reasonability argument more persuasively, I would suggest that you frame it almost like sufficiency on the counterplan and have an offensive reason that inclusion of the aff is good. As far as spec debates, I usually find them quite dull. I am growing weary of affs that obviously defend a certain agent with their solvency advocate and advantages but will not defend that agent when debating an agent counterplan. Stop this and defend your arguments please.
Framework: I find that framework debates to me are usually an issue of fairness. I find myself generally not super persuaded by the value of topic education vs the value of whatever educational outlet the affirmative has chosen to discuss is. The aff usually has better evidence about the importance of their particular educational outlet anyway, especially given the fact that they know what it is and can adequately prepare for it. Fairness is a bit more contestable from the negative perspective, in my opinion. Central to convincing me to vote for a non-resolutionally based affirmative is their ability to describe to me what the role of the negative would be under their model of debate. K affs can gain a lot of leeway with me by being in the direction of the resolution and defending at least some links in the realm of topic literature. I am not a very good judge for affs that have no resolutional basis. Regardless, I also think that the aff has a better chance by focusing most of their time on impact turning framework and then using the directionality of the aff toward the topic in order to win some defense against the negs framework claims.
Theory: Most theory debates are people reading blocks back and forth and are totally useless. I usually default to rejecting the argument and not the team. Conditionality is a potential exception to that rule, but it has been a long time since I saw a team ready to debate condo very well.
Kritiks: I am not as familiar with the literature base for this style of argumentation. That doesn't mean I don't vote on the K, it simply means that you need a little more explanation for your argument than you otherwise might. I think that good K teams are able to contextualize their argument with the world of the affirmative. Recently I've judged a bunch of K debates where the links all seem to be descriptions of the status quo, but the affirmative is not very good at winning that the aff is in the direction of the alt. If the neg is going to try and go for just framework and a link/ethics argument, I think it is important that they focus a substantial amount of time on the framework debate, and try and have an interpretation of framework that is not completely arbitrary and should try and win that there is a unique link to the aff. If you are able to win framework and a unique link then you're probably good without an alt. If you are going to go for an alternative, it is probably important that you explain to me how the alternative functions and how the alt resolves the links to the K and probably portions of the affirmative, otherwise you will be susceptible to losing on the aff outweighs. Be descriptive of how the alt functions. I have also found myself recently voting for the aff in the vast majority of debates where the 2NR does not have a thorough contestation of the affirmative. You don't explicitly have to go to the case pages, but you should definitely be calling into question the truth of the 1ACs internal link chains or the efficacy of it to solve the problems that it seeks to solve.
Disads/Counterplans/Case: These are the types of debate I am most familiar with. I think the case debate is under utilized, and that the education topic may have been the worst thing in recent memory at teaching people to debate the case. I wish that more teams would focus on the internal links to the aff advantages instead of just reading impact defense and hoping that a DA outweighs. I think delay counterplans are cheating. Conditions and consult counterplans I can easily be convinced are cheating, but having a solvency advocate helps.
Things I like: Rebuttals that paint a clear picture of what an aff/neg ballot means. Evidence comparison. Debaters who don't read off their computer for the whole debate. Debaters who are funny/having fun. Warranted arguments/smart analytics. Well thought out strategies.
Things I dislike: Bluetooth speakers, must define all terms, running arguments you don't really understand, death good, topicality = genocide, general rudeness, stealing prep time, and clipping cards. If you enjoy doing these things, you probably don't want me to judge you.
Disclaimer: I love the activity of debate, and think that it is a place where all types of debate styles/debaters should be welcome. If you are excessively rude to the other team (laughing during speeches, being disrespectful in cross-x, etc) I will let you know. If the behavior continues, there is a strong chance that I will vote against you on principle.
I will choose from among the arguments presented to me. I pay close attention and keep an accurate flow of the debate. Both are important to me. Cross examination exchanges are important as well in shaping how I view arguments and debates. Consequently, I usually have thoughts about who won the debate immediately after its conclusion. Then my decision making process goes something like this: (1) who do I think won and why? (2) does that team think they won for this reason? (3) why does this team team think they won? (4) Are they correct? (5) why does the other team think they won? Are they correct? (6) who has the better claim to victory? (7) Decide. (8) what will be the losing teams complaint and what will I say? (9) Vote. 10. Deliver.
I vote for plans, counterplans, interpretations, performances, alternatives, permutations and presumption. You should be clear about what you are asking me to vote for. Know your plan, interpretation, etc. Know the other team's interpretation, permutation, etc. I usually start with a very narrow question to resolve a debate and they center around these issues. I usually ignore role of the ballot arguments except and unless it helps me resolve an otherwise irresolvable debate. I will usually just dismiss these arguments.
As a judge in a competitve academic activity I find that maintaining fairness is a paramount concern. Deciding these issues usually take precenden over other issues because as ther judge I am the only protection that eitther team has against unfair practices and these matters must be resolved immediately, in the round. Education is an important but secondary concern for me in my role as judge. It's a primary concern of mine as coach. You will notice that my decisions focus exclusively on who I voted for and why and rarely on what I think either team could do better or where either team or debaters came up short. I will talk about these things if asked, but I am primarly concerned with delivering a correct decision that resonably honors both team's expectations. A decision that is fair.
Card clipping: I have been convinced that this is an important thing. If you are caught card clipping in any debate that I am judging I will vote againtst you and give you 0 speaker points and ensure that you receive any and all of the proper punishment. However, anyone who accuses another debater of card clipping in any ddebate that I am judging will be held to an incredibly high burden of proof of clear and convincing evidence. That's something less than beyond a resonable doubt, but should still effectively deter anyone from making any weak accusations. I would much rather not have to decide this debate. Also, it would help me and you significantly if you included a materiality argument when making such an accusation. I.e. the other team clipped cards AND it's materially impacting the outcome of this debate. This is the equivalent of an in round abuse requirement.
Lastly, I do not vote for critiques of performances in front of white audiences. I am not a white audience. You must take note of this when you debate. Even if there are white people around, they don't matter to me as a judge (even on a panel).
Minneapolis South/Occasional judging for Minnesota
My email is izakgm [at] gmail.com, add me to the email chain before the round, please and thank you.
Good debating overwhelms anything else on here. I've coached and judged teams of all styles. I will try my best to evaluate the round on your terms and not my own.
do whatever you gotta do for your internet quality. I'd like camera on but if you can't, you can't, and I won't hold it against you and you don't need to explain to me.
Some tweaks for the TOC based on things I've noticed judging this year.
How I judge - big picture > minutia.
I appreciate explicit impact comparison, judge instruction, and when the 2nr/2ar starts in a place that helps me resolve the rest of the debate. I don't mean "they dropped my role of the ballot!!!!!!". If you say "extinction outweighs" but don't tell me what it outweighs, I'll just assume you mean its important since you haven't made a comparative claim.
I'm flow centered, but not a fan of cheap shots or punishing small mistakes. I'm not a perfect flow. In fact I am certainly one of the worst flowers on the circuit and yet I use my flow to decide the round. If you want me to evaluate your argument its on you to make sure its on my flow. Late breaking and unforeseeable arguments may justify new responses. I do have 2n sympathyTM and will check the 2ar against arguments that weren't in the 1ar. 2nr line drawing or instruction remains helpful.
I think in terms of risks, including zero risk and presumption. Offense/defense works well a lot of the time, but I'm not a cultist. If internal links are missing and the other team points it out without reply, I'm not giving you 1% just for fun.
I think I used to be harder on the 1ar and 2nr. Now I give a bit more leeway if there was sufficient explanation earlier in the debate. I pay close attention to and often flow cross-x if its going somewhere.
I read less evidence than many judges at the end of the round. If your superior evidence quality is not explained, I might miss it. I will not reconstruct the round through the docs afterwards. I won't read along unless I suspect clipping. If you deliver the text of your evidence incomprehensibly fast I will not read the text of it later to figure out what you said. Again, the burden of communication is on you.
I love strategic concessions and rehighlightings. If you are right and you read it in the speech, I will prioritize your analysis. It makes sense to insert things like charts. If its "a stake the round on it" kind of issue, please do not insert a rehighlighting, I need you read it. If its just an FYI about a tertiary issue... go off I guess.
I'm pretty expressive and might intervene vocally to move you off a stale cx direction or motion to move on if you are repeating yourself in the speech. My resting face is rather stern, don't take it personally. I'm probably still vibing with you.
FW v K aff - Yes, I will vote either way. It comes down to links and impacts like any other debate and the best teams in these rounds have offense and defense.
Neg teams: I'll be honest, if you say debate is a game more than twice my eyes start to glaze over. Fairness can be an impact but it usually feels like a small one. By this I mean if the aff wins any impact at all it will be more important to me than fairness. If that's your approach you'll need to be playing great defense (lots of ways to do this) or really filtering out aff offense somehow. I say this and yet I think fairness/clash is by far the most strategic version of this argument. Y'all think I didn't notice you just ctrl-f'd your fairness blocks with clash? Ignoring the questions posed by the aff or repeatedly mischaracterizing the aff's claims will likely result in an aff ballot.
Aff teams: I'm open to whatever approach you want to take. I'm personally more interested in strategies built around a counter interpretation even if its not an intuitive (or predictable) one, will vote for impact turns alone and in many cases that is more strategic. Just FYI, I do not know what the symbolic economy is, so if you are the first one to explain it to me then kudos. I think I just learned what a psychoanalytic drive is last month but I still might not understand it. If the TVA is something I'm thinking about during my decision time, even if you dropped it, then you've written or explained your aff poorly If your model doesn't explain a role for negation, or your aff is so uncontroversial that it doesn't hold up to a basic inherency push, I can see myself voting neg easily.
Ks on the neg - Love these debates. Explanation is vital on both sides. Aff teams that explain their internal links and solvency have the most success against ks in front of me. Aff framework arguments that exclude kritiks entirely will be a tough sell. If the alt is cheating, you can point that out tho ;) I've yet to hear a persuasive explanation for judge choice - I will only vote on benefits of your plan that you explain. Neg teams do well with strong links that implicate the case. You don't always need an alt in the 2nr, but you might be better off defending an imperfect alt instead of just the squo, especially if the 2ar is on to you. Perms are a valuable tool but 90% of aff wins would be on case outweighs whether the perm was present or not.
Policy stuff - Yes. I like internal link and solvency presses. Impact defense can make sense, but "x doesn't cause extinction" might not get your there if the other team has a nuanced impact comparison. I have a loose attachment to the "link first" camp until you tell me otherwise. My time in Minnesota has left me with a love for impact turns, don't care how dumb it seems. If you can't beat stupid... I don't know what to tell you.
I struggled with Judge Kick for a while. I've come around. I still enjoy strategic and narrow 2nrs (i.e. not making me do this). If you explicitly (saying "squo is always an option" in 1nc cx counts) flag this as an option by the end of the block I'm game. I am open to affs that ask me to stick the 2nr to the cp.
Things it might be helpful to know about me/carrots+sticks/hot takes inspired by OTT
- I'd love to be a judge that fully resolved framing first before substance. Unfortunately the quality of debating here is often such that I have to resolve some substance to figure out what to do.
- i understand why no one does this but if the aff team took a stance on something (like an actual explanation of how they solve not solely hedging against agent cps) and the neg fiats through a solvency deficit based in literature and the aff went for theory I might be more likely to vote aff than most. This obviously goes out the window if the aff says the phrase "for the purpose of counterplan competition" at any point in cx.
- If your wiki is sparse your points are capped at 28.6 - its JV behavior, you get JV points.
- If you can't answer basic CX questions about a position you are asking for an L 27. If you think the round is over and you stop your rebuttal VERY early because you have already won (invoke a TKO correctly), the baseline for your points is 29.4.
- I'm lukewarm for plan text in a vacuum. "Only non-arbitrary" blah blah blzh both teams should just debate about what the aff does. I will require some extra convincing before the 2ar and will heavily protect the 2nr here.
- truly random defaults that have come up more than once in rounds that I want on the record: perms are tests of competition so I will jettison them if they would hurt the aff. you can implicitly answer a "ballot pic" by trying to win the round. you can implicitly answer a lot of stuff really I'm not the most strict at lining things up, but if I don't get it that's on you.
If you still have questions, please feel free to email or ask me before the round!
Old CJR thoughts archive
- learning about the criminal justice system is nice. If you teach me something about the topic (yes critical knowledge is part of the topic get over yourself) over the course of the debate, boost to your points. If your aff is about cyberattacks strike me, I simply don't care. If your aff is about cyberattacks and you debate the internal link level well enough to convince me that you were actually talking about criminal justice reform,
- i have some professional experience working on police reform. I live in Minneapolis and South high is blocks from where the 3rd precinct burned. My personal belief is ACAB. I feel familiar with many of the practical arguments for and against abolition, so I have a high threshold for link debating. aff teams, feel free to go for "abolition bad" instead of the perm...
I competed in policy for three years in high school at Parkview Arts/Science Magnet High School; I did an additional year at the University of Kentucky. I am now on the coaching staff at Little Rock Central High School. I have a bachelor's and a master's in Communication Studies and a master's in Secondary Education. I said that not to sound pompous but so that you will understand that my lack of exposure to an argument will not preclude me from evaluating it; I know how to analyze argumentation. I have represented Arkansas at the Debate Topic Selection for the past few years (I authored the Middle East paper in 2018 and the Criminal Justice paper in 2019) and that has altered how I view both the topic process and debates, in a good way. I think this makes me a more informed, balanced judge. 2020 marks the first year, of a three-year rotation, on the NFHS Wording Committee; do with this information what you want.
I find that many teams are rude and obnoxious in round and don’t see the need to treat their opponents with dignity. I find this mode of thinking offensive and disrespectful to the activity as a whole
I consider myself an open slate person but that doesn’t mean that you can pull the most obscure argument from your backfiles and run it in front of me. Debate is an intellectual game. Because of this I find it offensive when debaters run arguments just to be running them, do not run your arguments if you don’t think they can win you the round!
I don’t mind speed and consider myself an exceptional flower. That being said, I think that it helps us judges when debaters slow down on important things like plan/CP texts, perms, theory arguments, and anything else that will require me to get what you said verbatim.
Saying anything remotely racist, ableist, transphobic, etc will get you an auto loss in front of me. If that means you need to strike me then do us both a favor and strike me.
Update for Online Debate
Asking "is anyone not ready" before an online speech an excise in futility; if someone's computer is glitching they have no way of telling you they aren’t ready. Wait for verbal/nonverbal confirmation that all individuals are ready before beginning your speech, please. If my camera is off, I am not ready for your speech. Do not begin the speech at your fastest speed. Makes it very difficult to begin flowing in the online environment. Online debate makes speed a problem for all of us. Anything above 75% of your top speed ensures I will miss something; govern yourselves accordingly.
Please make sure I can see your face/mouth when you are speaking if at all possible. I would really prefer that you kept your camera on. I understand how invasive of an ask this is. If you CANNOT for reasons (tech, personal reasons, etc.) I am completely ok with going on with the camera off. Debate is inherently an exclusive activity, if the camera on is a problem I would rather not even broach the issue.
I would strongly suggest recording your own speeches in case somebody's internet cuts out. When this issue arises, a local recording is a life saver. Do not record other people's speeches without their consent; that is a quick way to earn a one-way trip to L town sponsored by my ballot.
Lastly, if the round is scheduled to start at 2, don’t show up to the room asking for my email at 1:58. Be in the room by tech time (it’s there for a reason) so that you can take care of everything in preparation for the round. 2 o’clock start time means the 1ac is being read at 2, not the email chain being set up at 2.
My previous paradigm had a thorough explanation of how I evaluate most arguments. For the sake of prefs and pre round prep I have decided to amend it. When I debated, I was mostly a T/CP/DA debater. That being said, I am open to just about any form of argumentation you want to make. If it is a high theory argument don’t take for granted that I understand most of the terminology your author’s use.
I will prioritize my ballot around what the 2NR/2AR highlights as the key issues in the debate. I try to start with the last two speeches and work my way back through the debate evaluating the arguments that the debaters are making. I don’t have to personally agree with an argument to vote for it.
Too often debaters read a lot of blocks and don’t do enough engaging in these kinds of debates. The “Role of the Ballot” needs to be explicit and there needs to be a discussion of how your ROB is accessible by both teams. If you want to skirt the issue of accessibility then you need to articulate why the impact(s) of the aff outweigh whatever arguments the neg is going for.
I am less and less persuaded by fairness arguments; I think fairness is more of an internal link to a more concrete impact (e.g., truth testing, argument refinement). Affs should be able to articulate what the role of the negative is under their model. If the aff is in the direction of the topic, I tend to give them some leeway in responding to a lot of the neg claims. Central to convincing me to vote for a non-resolutionally based affirmative is their ability to describe to me what the role of the negative would be under their model of debate. The aff should spend time on impact turning framework while simultaneously using their aff to short circuit some of the impact claims advanced by the neg.
When affs lose my ballot in these debates it’s often because they neglect to articulate why the claims, they make in the 1ac implicate/inform the neg’s interp and impacts here. A lot of times they go for a poorly explained, barely extended impact turn without doing the necessary work of using the aff to implicate the neg’s claims.
When neg’s lost my ballot in these debates it’s often because they don’t engage the aff. Often times, I find myself having a low bar for presumption when the aff is poorly explained (both in speeches and CX) yet neg’s rarely use this to their advantage. A good framework-centered 2NR versus most k affs involves some type of engagement on case (solvency deficit, presumption, case turn, etc.) and your framework claims; I think too often the neg gives the aff full risk of their aff and solvency which gives them more weight on impact turns than they should have.
If you want to read a critique of debate I have no problems with that. Some judges have a problem with it but any activity that can’t listen to internal criticism doesn’t deserve to be called an academic challenge.
I am sick and tired of you LD debaters refusing to engage substance and only read stupid theory arguments you barely understand. If you spend your time in the 1AR going for theory don’t you dare fix your lips to go for substance over theory and expect my ballot in the 2AR. LD, in its current state, is violent, racist, and upholds white supremacy in debate; if you disagree do us both a favor and strike me. Always expecting people to open source disclose is what is driving a lot of non-white people from the activity. I spend most of my time judging policy so an LD round that mimics a policy debate is what I would prefer to hear.
Don’t read frivolous theory in front of me, I’m not voting for it. I’m sick of LDers not flowing then thinking they can ask what was read “before” CX starts. Once you start asking questions, THAT IS CX TIME. If you go over time, I will stop you and your opponent will not be required to answer questions. Lastly, most of these philosophers y’all love quoting were violently racist to minorities. If you want me (a black man) to pick you up while you defend a racist you be better be very compelling and leave no room for misunderstandings.
I came into this activity as a fierce competitor, at this juncture in my life I’m in it solely for the education of the debaters involved; I am less concerned with who I am judging and more concerned with the content of what I debate. I am an educator and a lover of learning things; what I say is how I view debate and not a roadmap to my ballot. Don’t manipulate what you are best at to fit into my paradigm of viewing debate. Do what you do best and I will do what I do best in evaluating the debate.
Assistant Director of Speech and Debate at Presentation High School and Public Admin phd student. I debated policy, traditional ld and pfd in high school (4 years) and in college at KU (5 years). Since 2015 I've been assistant coaching debate at KU. Before and during that time I've also been coaching high school (policy primarily) at local and nationally competitive programs.
Familiar with wide variety of critical literature and philosophy and public policy and political theory. Coached a swath of debaters centering critical argumentation and policy research. Judge a reasonable amount of debates in college/hs and usually worked at some camp/begun research on both topics in the summer. That said please don't assume I know your specific thing. Explain acronyms, nuance and important distinctions for your AFF and NEG arguments.
The flow matters. Tech and Truth matter. I obvi will read cards but your spin is way more important.
I think that affs should be topical. What "TOPICAL" means is determined by the debate. I think it's important for people to innovate and find new and creative ways to interpret the topic. I think that the topic is an important stasis that aff's should engage. I default to competing interpretations - meaning that you are better off reading some kind of counter interpretation (of terms, debate, whatever) than not.
I think Aff's should advocate doing something - like a plan or advocacy text is nice but not necessary - but I am of the mind that affirmative's should depart from the status quo.
Framework is fine. Please impact out your links though and please don't leave me to wade through the offense both teams are winning in that world.
I will vote on theory. I think severance is prolly bad. I typically think conditionality is good for the negative. K's are not cheating (hope noone says that anymore). PICS are good but also maybe not all kinds of PICS so that could be a thing.
I think competition is good. Plan plus debate sucks. I default that comparing two things of which is better depends on an opportunity cost. I am open to teams forwarding an alternative model of competition.
Disads are dope. Link spin can often be more important than the link cards. But
you need a link. I feel like that's agreed upon but you know I'm gone say it anyway.
Just a Kansas girl who loves a good case debate. but seriously, offensive and defensive case args can go a long way with me and generally boosters other parts of the off case strategy.
When extending the K please apply the links to the aff. State links are basic but for some reason really poorly answered a lot of the time so I mean I get it. Links to the mechanism and advantages are spicier. I think that if you're reading a K with an alternative that it should be clear what that alternative does or does not do, solves or turns by the end of the block. I'm sympathetic to predictable 1ar cross applications in a world of a poorly explained alternatives. External offense is nice, please have some.
I acknowledge debate is a public event. I also acknowledge the concerns and material implications of some folks in some spaces as well. I will not be enforcing any recording standards or policing teams to debate "x" way. I want debaters at in all divisions, of all argument proclivities to debate to their best ability, forward their best strategy and answers and do what you do.
Card clipping and cheating is not okay so please don't do it.
NEW YEAR NEW POINT SYSTEM (college) - 28.6-28.9 good, 28.9-29.4 really good, 29.4+ bestest.
This trend of paraphrasing cards in PFD as if you read the whole card = not okay and educationally suspect imo.
Middle/High Schoolers: You smart. You loyal. I appreciate you. And I appreciate you being reasonable to one another in the debate.
I wanna be on the chain: email@example.com
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org --- of course I want to be on the chain
Program Manager and Debate Coach, University of Michigan
Debate Coach, Whitney Young High School (2010-20), Caddo Magnet (2020-21), Walter Payton (2018, 2021-)
Last updated: September, 2021 (topic specific thoughts on antitrust/water are in topicality)
Philosophy: I attempt to judge rounds with the minimum amount of intervention required to answer the question, "Who has done the better debating?", using whatever rubrics for evaluating that question that debaters set up.
I work in debate full-time, so I attend a billion tournaments and judge a ton of debates, lead a seven week lab every summer, talk about debate virtually every day, and research fairly extensively. As a result, I'm familiar with the policy and critical literature bases on both the college antitrust topic and the HS water topic.
I’ve coached my teams to deploy a diverse array of argument types and styles. Currently, I coach teams that primarily read policy arguments. But I was also the primary argument coach for Michigan KM from 2014-16. I’ve coached many successful teams in both high school and college that primarily read arguments influenced by "high theory", postmodernist thought, and/or critical race literature. I'm always excited to see debaters deploy new or innovative strategies across the argumentative spectrum.
Impact turns have a special place in my heart. There are few venues in academia or life where you will be as encouraged to challenge conventional wisdom as you are in policy debate, so please take this rare opportunity to persuasively defend the most counter-intuitive positions conceivable. I enjoy judging debaters with a sense of humor, and I hope to reward teams who make their debates fun and exciting (through engaging personalities and argument selection).
My philosophy is very long. I make no apology for it. In fact, I wish most philosophies were longer and more substantive, and I still believe mine to be insufficiently comprehensive. Frequently, judges espouse a series of predictable platitudes, but I have no idea why they believe whatever it is they've said (which can frequently leave me confused, frustrated, and little closer to understanding how debaters could better persuade them). I attempt to counter this practice with detailed disclosure of the various predispositions, biases, and judgment canons that may be outcome-determinative for how I decide your debate. Maybe you don't want to know all of those, but nobody's making you read this paradigm. Having the option to know as many of those as possible for any given judge seems preferable to having only the options of surprise and speculation.
What follows is a series of thoughts that mediate my process for making decisions, both in general and in specific contexts likely to emerge in debates. I've tried to be as honest as possible, and I frequently update my philosophy to reflect perceived trends in my judging. That being said, self-disclosure is inevitably incomplete or misleading; if you're curious about whether or not I'd be good for you, feel free to look at my voting record or email me a specific question (reach me via email, although you may want to try in person because I'm not the greatest with quick responses).
0) Online debate
Online debate is a depressing travesty, although it's plainly much better than the alternative of no debate at all. I miss tournaments intensely and can't wait until this era is over and we can attend tournaments in-person once again. Do your best not to remind us constantly of what we're missing: please keep your camera on throughout the whole debate unless you have a pressing and genuine technical reason not to. I don't have meaningful preferences beyond that. Feel free to record me---IMO all debates should be public and free to record by all parties, especially in college.
1) Tech v. Truth
I attempt to be an extremely "technical" judge, although I am not sure that everyone means what everyone else means when they describe debating or judging as "technical." Here's what I mean by that: outside of card text, I attempt to flow every argument that every speaker expresses in a speech. Even in extremely quick debates, I generally achieve this goal or come close to it. In some cases, like when very fast debaters debate at max speed in a final rebuttal, it may be virtually impossible for me to to organize all of the words said by the rebuttalist into the argumentative structure they were intending. But overall I feel very confident in my flow: I will take Casey Harrigan up on his flowing gauntlet/challenge any day (he might be able to take me if we were both restricted to paper, but on our computers, it's a wrap).
In addition, being "technical" means that I line up arguments on my flow, and expect debaters to, in general, organize their speeches by answering the other team's arguments in the order they were presented. All other things being equal, I will prioritize an argument presented such that it maximizes clear and direct engagement with its counter-argument over an argument that floats in space unmoored to an adversarial argument structure.
I do have one caveat that pertains to what I'll term "standalone" voting issues. I'm not likely to decide an entire debate based on standalone issues explained or extended in five seconds or less. For example, If you have a standard on conditionality that asserts "also, men with curly unkempt hair are underrepresented in debate, vote neg to incentivize our participation," and the 1ar drops it, you're not going to win the debate on that argument (although you will win my sympathies, fellow comb dissident). I'm willing to vote on basically anything that's well-developed, but if your strategy relies on tricking the other team into dropping random nonsense unrelated to the rest of the debate entirely, I'm not really about that. This caveat only pertains to standalone arguments that are dropped once: if you've dropped a standalone voting issue presented as such in two speeches, you've lost all my sympathies to your claim to a ballot.
In most debates, so many arguments are made that obvious cross-applications ensure precious few allegedly "dropped" arguments really are accurately described as such. Dropped arguments most frequently win debates in the form of little subpoints making granular distinctions on important arguments that both final rebuttals exert time and energy trying to win. Further murkiness emerges when one realizes that all thresholds for what constitutes a "warrant" (and subsequently an "argument") are somewhat arbitrary and interventionist. Hence the mantra: Dropped arguments are true, but they're only as true as the dropped argument. "Argument" means claim, warrant, and implication. "Severance is a voting issue" lacks a warrant. "Severance is a voting issue - neg ground" also arguably lacks a warrant, since it hasn't been explained how or why severance destroys negative ground or why neg ground is worth caring about.
That might sound interventionist, but consider: we would clearly assess the statement "Severance is a voting issue -- purple sideways" as a claim lacking a warrant. So why does "severence is a voting issue - neg ground" constitute a warranted claim? Some people would say that the former is valid but not sound while the latter is neither valid nor sound, but both fail a formal test of validity. In my assessment, any distinction is somewhat interventionist. In the interest of minimizing intervention, here is what that means for your debating: If the 1ar drops a blippy theory argument and the 2nr explains it further, the 2nr is likely making new arguments... which then justifies 2ar answers to those arguments. In general, justify why you get to say what you're saying, and you'll probably be in good shape. By the 2nr or 2ar, I would much rather that you acknowledge previously dropped arguments and suggest reasonable workaround solutions than continue to pretend they don't exist or lie about previous answers.
Arguments aren't presumptively offensive or too stupid to require an answer. Genocide good, OSPEC, rocks are people, etc. are all terribly stupid, but if you can't explain why they're wrong, you don't deserve to win. If an argument is really stupid or really bad, don't complain about how wrong they are. After all, if the argument's as bad as you say it is, it should be easy. And if you can't deconstruct a stupid argument, either 1) the argument may not be as stupid as you say it is, or 2) it may be worthwhile for you to develop a more efficient and effective way of responding to that argument.
If both sides seem to assume that an impact is desirable/undesirable, and frame their rebuttals exclusively toward avoiding/causing that impact, I will work under that assumption. If a team read a 1AC saying that they had several ways their plan caused extinction, and the 1NC responded with solvency defense and alternative ways the plan prevented extincton, I would vote neg if I thought the plan was more likely to avoid extinction than cause it.
I'll read and evaluate Team A's rehighlightings of evidence "inserted" into the debate if Team B doesn't object to it, but when debated evenly this practice seems indefensible. An important part of debate is choosing how to use your valuable speech time, which entails selecting which pieces of your opponent's ev most clearly bolster your position(s).
2) General Philosophical Disposition
It is somewhat easy to persuade me that life is good, suffering is bad, and we should care about the consequences of our political strategies and advocacies. I would prefer that arguments to the contrary be grounded in specific articulations of alternative models of decision-making, not generalities, rhetoric, or metaphor. It's hard to convince me that extinction = nbd, and arguments like "the hypothetical consequences of your advocacy matter, and they would likely produce more suffering than our advocacy" are far more persuasive than "take a leap of faith" or "roll the dice" or "burn it down", because I can at least know what I'd be aligning myself with and why.
Important clarification: pragmatism is not synonymous with policymaking. On the contrary, one may argue that there is a more pragmatic way to frame judge decision-making in debates than traditional policymaking paradigms. Perhaps assessing debates about the outcome of hypothetical policies is useless, or worse, dangerous. Regardless of how you debate or what you debate about, you should be willing and able to mount a strong defense of why you're doing those things (which perhaps requires some thought about the overall purpose of this activity).
The brilliance and joy of policy debate is most found in its intellectual freedom. What makes it so unlike other venues in academia is that, in theory, debaters are free to argue for unpopular, overlooked, or scorned positions and ill-considered points of view. Conversely, they will be required to defend EVERY component of your argument, even ones that would be taken for granted in most other settings. Just so there's no confusion here: all arguments are on the table for me. Any line drawn on argumentative content is obviously arbitrary and is likely unpredictable, especially for judges whose philosophies aren't as long as mine! But more importantly, drawing that line does profound disservice to debaters by instructing them not to bother thinking about how to defend a position. If you can't defend the desirability of avoiding your advantage's extinction impact against a wipeout or "death good" position, why are you trying to persuade me to vote for a policy to save the human race? Groupthink and collective prejudices against creative ideas or disruptive thoughts are an ubiquitous feature of human societies, but that makes it all the more important to encourage free speech and free thought in one of the few institutions where overcoming those biases is possible.
3) Topicality and Specification
Overall, I'm a decent judge for the neg, provided that they have solid evidence supporting their interpretation.
Limits are probably desirable in the abstract, but if your interpretation is composed of contrived stupidity, it will be hard to convince me that affs should have predicted it. Conversely, affs that are debating solid topicality evidence without well-researched evidence of their own are gonna have a bad time. Naturally, of these issues are up for debate, but I think it's relatively easy to win that research/literature guides preparation, and the chips frequently fall into place for the team accessing that argument.
Competing interpretations is potentially less subjective and arbitrary than a reasonability standard, although reasonability isn't as meaningless as many believe. Reasonability seems to be modeled after the "reasonable doubt" burden required to prove guilt in a criminal case (as opposed to the "preponderence of evidence" standard used in civil cases, which seems similar to competing interps as a model). Reasonability basically is the same as saying "to win the debate, the neg needs to win an 80% risk of their DA instead of a 50% risk." The percentages are arbitrary, but what makes determining that a disad's risk is higher or lower than the risk of an aff advantage (i.e. the model used to decide the majority of debates) any less arbitrary or subjective? It's all ballpark estimation determined by how persuaded judges were by competing presentations of analysis and evidence. With reasonability-style arguments, aff teams can certainly win that they don't need to meet the best of all possible interpretations of the topic, and instead that they should win if their plan meets an interpretation capable of providing a sufficient baseline of neg ground/research parity/quality debate. Describing what threshold of desirability their interpretation should meet, and then describing why that threshold is a better model for deciding topicality debates, is typically necessary to make this argument persuasive.
Answering "plan text in a vacuum" requires presenting an alternative standard by which to interpret the meaning and scope of the words in the plan. Such seems so self-evident that it seems banal to include it in a paradigm, but I have seen many debates this year in which teams did not grasp this fact. If the neg doesn't establish some method for determining what the plan means, voting against "the plan text in a vacuum defines the words in the plan" is indistinguishable from voting for "the eighty-third unhighlighted word in the fifth 1ac preempt defines the words in the plan." I do think setting some limiting standard is potentially quite defensible, especially in debates where large swaths of the 1ac would be completely irrelevent if the aff's plan were to meet the neg's interp. For example: if an aff with a court advantage and a USFG agent says their plan meets "enact = Congress only", the neg could say "interpret the words USFG in the plan to include the Courts when context dictates it---even if 'USFG' doesn't always mean "Courts," you should assume it does for debates in which one or more contentions/advantages are both impertinent and insoluable absent a plan that advocates judicial action." But you will likely need to be both explicit and reasonable about the standard you use if you are to successfully counter charges of infinite regress/arbitrariness.
Topicality on water: There aren't very many good limiting devices on this topic. Obviously the states CP is an excellent functional limit; "protection requires regulation" is useful as well, at least insofar as it establishes competition for counterplans that avoid regulations (e.g. incentives). Beyond that, the neg is in a rough spot.
I am more open to "US water resources include oceans" than most judges; see the compiled evidence set I released in the Michigan camp file MPAs Aff 2 (should be available via openevidence). After you read that and the sum total of all neg cards released/read thus far, the reasoning for why I believe this should be self-evident. Ironically, I don't think there are very many good oceans affs (this isn't a development topic, it's a protection topic). This further hinders the neg from persuasively going for the this T argument, but if you want to really exploit this belief, you'll find writing a strategic aff is tougher than you may imagine.
Topicality on antitrust: Was adding 'core' to this topic a mistake? I can see either side of this playing out at Northwestern: while affs that haven't thought about the variants of the 'core' or 'antitrust' pics are setting themselves up for failure, I think the aff has such an expansive range of options that they should be fine. There aren't a ton of generic T threats on this topic. There are some iterations of subsets that seem viable, if not truly threatening, and there there is a meaningful debate on whether or not the aff can fiat court action. The latter is an important question that both evidence and normative desirability will play a role in determining. Beyond that, I don't think there's much of a limit on this topic.
4) Risk Assessment
In front of me, teams would be well-served to explain their impact scenarios less in terms of brinks, and more in terms of probabilistic truth claims. When pressed with robust case defense, "Our aff is the only potential solution to a US-China war that's coming in a few months, which is the only scenario for a nuclear war that causes extinction" is far less winnable than "our aff meaningfully improves the East Asian security environment through building trust between the two great military powers in the region, which statistically decreases the propensity for inevitable miscalculations or standoffs to escalate to armed conflict." It may not be as fun, but that framing can allow you to generate persuasive solvency deficits that aren't grounded in empty rhetoric and cliche, or to persuasively defeat typical alt cause arguments, etc. Given that you decrease the initial "risk" (i.e. probability times magnitude) of your impact with this framing, this approach obviously requires winning substantial defense against whatever DA the neg goes for, but when most DA's have outlandishly silly brink arguments themselves, this shouldn't be too taxing.
There are times where investing lots of time in impact calculus is worthwhile (for example, if winning your impact means that none of the aff's impact claims reach extinction, or that any of the actors in the aff's miscalc/brinkmanship scenarios will be deterred from escalating a crisis to nuclear use). Most of the time, however, teams waste precious minutes of their final rebuttal on mediocre impact calculus. The cult of "turns case" has much to do with this. It's worth remembering that accessing an extinction impact is far more important than whether or not your extinction impact happens three months faster than theirs (particularly when both sides' warrant for their timeframe claim is baseless conjecture and ad hoc assertion), and that, in most cases, you need to win the substance of your DA/advantage to win that it turns the case.
Incidentally, phrasing arguments more moderately and conditionally is helpful for every argument genre: "all predictions fail" is not persuasive; "some specific type of prediction relying on their model of IR forecasting has little to no practical utility" can be. The only person who's VTL is killed when I hear someone say "there is no value to life in the world of the plan" is mine.
At least for me, try-or-die is often bizarrely intuitive based on argument selection (i.e. if the neg spots the aff that "extinction is inevitable if the judge votes neg, even if it's questionable whether or not the aff solves it", rationalizing an aff ballot becomes rather alluring and shockingly persuasive). You should combat this innate intuition by ensuring that you either have impact defense of some sort (anything from DA solves the case to a counterplan/alt solves the case argument to status quo checks resolve the terminal impact to actual impact defense can work) or by investing time in arguing against try-or-die decision-making.
Counterplan theory is a lost art. Affirmatives let negative teams get away with murder. And it's getting worse and worse every year. Investing time in theory is daunting... it requires answering lots of blippy arguments with substance and depth and speaking clearly, and probably more slowly than you're used to. But, if you invest time, effort, and thought in a well-grounded theoretical objection, I'll be a receptive critic.
The best theory interpretations are clear, elegant, and minimally arbitrary. Here are some examples of args that I would not anticipate many contemporary 2N's defeating:
--counterplans should be policies. Perhaps executive orders, perhaps guidence memos, perhaps lower court decisions, perhaps Congressional resolutions. But this would exclude such travesties as "The Executive Branch should always take international law into account when making their decisions. Such is closer to a counterplan that says "The Executive Branch should make good decisions forever" than it is to a useful policy recommendation.
--counterplans should not be able to fiat both the federal government and additional actors outside of the federal government. It's utopian enough to fiat that Courts, the President, and Congress all act in concert in perpetuity on a given subject. It's absurd to fiat additional actors as well.
There are other theoretical objections that I might take more seriously than other judges, although I recognize them as arguments on which reasonable minds may disagree. For example, I am somewhat partial to the argument that solvency advocates for counterplans should have a level of specificity that matches the aff. I feel like that standard would reward aff specificity and incentivize debates that reflect the literature base, while punishing affs that are contrived nonsense by making them debate contrived process nonsense. This certainly seems debateable, and in truth if I had to pick a side, I'd probably go neg, but it seems like a relatively even debate (and it's at minimum a better argument than many of the contrived and desperate solvency deficits that flailing affs teams extend against counterplans).
Competition debates are a particularly lost art. I'm not a great judge for counterplans that compete off of certainty or immediacy based on "should"/"resolved" definitions. I'm somewhat easily persuaded that these interpretations lower the bar for how difficult it is to win a negative ballot to an undesirable degree. That being said, affs lose these debates all the time by failing to counter-define words or dropping stupid tricks, so make sure you invest the time you need in these debates to win them.
"CPs should be textually and functionally competitive" seems to me like a logical and defensible standard. Some don't realize that if CPs must be both functionally and textually competitive, permutations may be either. I like the "textual/functional" model of competition BECAUSE it incentives creative counterplan and permutation construction, and because it requires careful text-writing.
Offense-defense is intuitive to me, and so teams should always be advised to have offense even if their defense is very strong. If the aff says that the counterplan links to the net benefit but doesn't advance a solvency deficit or disadvantage to the CP, and the neg argues that the counterplan at least links less, I am not very likely to vote affirmative absent strong affirmative framing on this question (often the judge is left to their own devices on this question, or only given instruction in the 2AR, which is admittedly better than never but still often too late). At the end of the day I must reconcile these opposing claims, and if it's closely contested and at least somewhat logical, it's very difficult to win 100% of an argument. Even if I think the aff is generally correct, in a world where I have literally any iota of doubt surrounding the aff position or am even remotely persuaded by the the negative's position, why would I remotely risk triggering the net benefit for the aff instead of just opting for the guaranteed safe choice of the counterplan?
Offense, in this context, can come in multiple flavors: you can argue that the affirmative or perm is less likely to link to the net benefit than the counterplan, for example. You can also argue that the risk of a net benefit below a certain threshold is indistinguishable from statistical noise, and that the judge should reject to affirm a difference between the two options because it would encourage undesirable research practices and general decision-making. Perhaps you can advance an analytic solvency deficit somewhat supported by one logical conjecture, and if you are generally winning the argument, have the risk of the impact to that outweigh the unique risk of aff triggering the DA relative to the counterplan. But absent any offensive argument of any sort, the aff is facing an uphill battle. I have voted on "CP links to politics before" but generally that only happens if there is a severe flaw in negative execution (i.e. the neg drops it), a significant skill discrepancy between teams, or a truly ill-conceived counterplan.
I'm a somewhat easy sell on conditionality good (at least 1 CP / 1 K is defensible), but I've probably voted aff slightly more frequently than not in conditionality debates. That's partly because of selection bias (affs go for it when they're winning it), but mainly because neg teams have gotten very sloppy in their defenses of conditionality, particularly in the 2NR. That being said, I've been growing more and more amenable to "conditionality bad" arguments over time.
However, large advantage counterplans with multiple planks, all of which can be kicked, are fairly difficult to defend. Negative teams can fiat as many policies as it takes to solve whatever problems the aff has sought to tackle. It is unreasonable to the point of stupidity to expect the aff to contrive solvency deficits: the plan would literally have to be the only idea in the history of thought capable of solving a given problem. Every additional proposal introduced in the 1nc (in order to increase the chance of solving) can only be discouraged through the potential cost of a disad being read against it. In the old days, this is why counterplan files were hundreds of pages long and had answers to a wide variety of disads. But if you can kick the plank, what incentive does the aff have to even bother researching if the CP is a good idea? If they read a 2AC add-on, the neg gets as many no-risk 2NC counterplans to add to the fray as well (of course, they can also add unrelated 2nc counterplans for fun and profit). If you think you can defend the merit of that strategy vs. a "1 condo cp / 1 condo k" interp, your creative acumen may be too advanced for interscholastic debate; consider more challenging puzzles in emerging fields, as they urgently need your input.
I don't think I'm "biased" against infinite conditionality; if you think you have the answers and technical acuity to defend infinite conditionality against the above argumentation, I'd happily vote for you.
I don't default to the status quo unless you explicitly flag it at some point during the debate (the cross-x or the 2nc is sufficient if the aff never contests it). I don't know why affs ask this question every cross-x and then never make a theory argument about it. It only hurts you, because it lets the neg get away with something they otherwise wouldn't have.
All that said, I don't have terribly strong convictions about any of these issues, and any theoretical predisposition is easily overcame by outdebating another team on the subject at hand.
Most theoretical objections to (and much sanctimonious indignation toward) the politics disadvantage have never made sense to me. Fiat is a convention about what it should be appropriate to assume for the sake of discussion, but there's no "logical" or "true" interpretation of what fiat descriptively means. It would be ludicrously unrealistic for basically any 1ac plan to pass immediately, with no prior discussion, in the contemporary political world. Any form of argument in which we imagine the consequences of passage is a fictive constraint on process argumentation. As a result, any normative justification for including the political process within the contours of permissible argument is a rational justification for a model of fiat that involves the politics DA (and a DA to a model of fiat that doesn't). Political salience is the reason most good ideas don't become policy, and it seems illogical for the negative to be robbed of this ground. The politics DA, then, represents the most pressing political cost caused by doing the plan in the contemporary political environment, which seems like a very reasonable for affs to have to defend against.
Obviously many politics DAs are contrived nonsense (especially during political periods during which there is no clear, top-level presidential priority). However, the reason that these DAs are bad isn't because they're theoretically illegitimate, and politics theory's blippiness and general underdevelopment further aggravate me (see the tech vs truth section).
Finally, re: intrinsicness, I don't understand why the judge should be the USFG. I typically assume the judge is just me, deciding which policy/proposal is the most desirable. I don't have control over the federal government, and no single entity does or ever will (barring that rights malthus transition). Maybe I'm missing something. If you think I am, feel free to try and be the first to show me the light...
7) Framework/Non-Traditional Affs
Despite some of the arguments I've read and coached, I'm sympathetic to the framework argument and fairness concerns. I don't think that topicality arguments are presumptively violent, and I think it's generally rather reasonable (and often strategic) to question the aff's relationship to the resolution. Although framework is often the best option, I would generally prefer to see a substantive strategy if one's available. This is simply because I have literally judged hundreds of framework debates and it has gotten mildly repetitive, to say the least (just scroll down if you think that I'm being remotely hyperbolic).
My voting record on framework is relatively even. In nearly every debate, I voted for the team I assessed as demonstrating superior technical debating in the final rebuttals, and that will continue in the future.
I typically think winning unique offense, in the rare scenario where a team invests substantial time in poking defensive holes in the other team's standards, is difficult for both sides in a framework debate. I think affs should think more about their answers to "switch side solves your offense" and "sufficient neg engagement key to meaningfully test the aff", while neg's should generally work harder to prepare persuasive and consistent impact explanations. The argument that "other policy debates solve your offense" can generally push back against skills claims, and the argument that "wiki/disclosure/contestable advocacy in the 1ac provides some degree of predictability/debateability" can often push back against "vote neg on presumption because truth-testing- we literally couldn't negate it" but for some reason in many debates neg's completely blow off these arguments.
I'm typically more persuaded by affirmative teams that answer framework by saying that the skills/methods inculcated by the 1ac produce more effective/ethical interactions with institutions than by teams that argue "all institutions are bad."
Fairness is not necessarily an impact; it certainly may implicate the education that the aff produces, but calling fairness "procedural" doesn't bestow upon it some mystical external impact without additional explanation (i.e. without an actual explanation attached to that). Fairness is an abstract value. Like most values, it is difficult to explain beyond a certain point, and it can't be proven or disproven. It's hard to answer the question "why is fairness good?" for the same reason it's hard to answer the question "why is justice good?" It is pretty easy to demonstate why you should presume in favor of fairness in a debate context, given that everyone relies on essential fairness expectations in order to participate in the activity (for example, teams expect that I flow and give their arguments a fair hearing rather than voting against them because I don't like their choice in clothes). But as soon as neg teams start introducing additional standards to their framework argument that raise education concerns, they have said that the choice of framework has both fairness and education implications, and if it could change our educational experience, could the choice of framework change our social or intellectual experience in debate in other ways as well? Maybe not (I certainly think it's easy to win that an individual round's decision certainly couldn't be expected to) but if you said your FW is key to education it's easy to see how those kinds of questions come into play and now can potentially militate against fairness concerns.
I think it's perfectly reasonable to question the desirability of the activity: we should all ideally be self-reflexive and be able to articulate why it is we participate in the activities on which we choose to dedicate our time. After all, I think nearly everybody in the world does utterly indefensible things from time to time, and many people (billions of them, probably) make completely indefensible decisions all the time. The reason why these arguments can be unpersuasive is typically because saying that debate is bad may just link to the team saying "debate bad" because they're, you know, debating, and no credible solvency mechanism for altering the activity has been presented.
I know I just explained a rationale for potentially restricting your framework impacts to fairness concerns. But still it's nice and often more fulfilling from a judge's perspective to hear a defense of debate rather than a droll recitation of "who knows why debate's good but we're both here... so like... it must be." If that means "procedural fairness" is de-emphasized in favor of an explanation for why the particular fairness norms established by your topicality interpretation are crucial to a particular vision of the activity and a defense of that vision's benefits, that would be a positive development.
If you're looking for an external impact, there are two impacts to framework that I have consistently found more persuasive than most attempts to articulate one for fairness/skills/deliberation, but they're not unassailable: "switch-side debate good" (forcing people to defend things they don't believe is the only vehicle for truly shattering dogmatic ideological predispositions and fostering a skeptical worldview capable of ensuring that its participants, over time, develop more ethical and effective ideas than they otherwise would) and "agonism" (making debaters defend stuff that the other side is prepared to attack rewards debaters for pursuing clash; running from engagement by lecturing the neg and judge on a random topic of your choosing is a cowardly flight from battle; instead, the affirmative team with a strong will to power should actively strive to beat the best, most well-prepared negative teams from the biggest schools on their terms, which in turn provides the ultimate triumph; the life-affirming worldview facilitated by this disposition is ultimately necessary for personal fulfillment, and also provides a more effective strategy with which to confront the inevitable hardships of life).
Many aff "impact turns" to topicality are often rendered incoherent when met with gentle pushback. It's difficult to say "predictability bad" if you have a model of debate that makes debate more predictable from the perspective of the affirmative team. Exclusion and judgment are inevitable structural components of any debate activity that I can conceive of: any DA excludes affs that link to it and don't have an advantage that outweighs it. The act of reading that DA can be understood as judging the debaters who proposed that aff as too dull to think of a better idea. Both teams are bound to say the other is wrong and only one can win. Many aff teams may protest that their impact turns are much more sophisticated than this, and are more specific to some element of the topicality/FW structure that wouldn't apply to other types of debate arguments. Whatever explanation you have for why that above sentence true should be emphasized throughout the debate if you want your impact turns or DA's to T to be persuasive. In other words, set up your explanation of impact turns/disads to T in a way that makes clear why they are specific to something about T and wouldn't apply to basic structural requirements of debate from the outset of the debate.
I'm a fairly good judge for the capitalism kritik against K affs. Among my most prized possessions are signed copies of Jodi Dean books that I received as a gift from my debaters. Capitalism is persuasive for two reasons, both of which can be defeated, and both of which can be applied to other kritiks. First, having solutions (even ones that seem impractical or radical) entails position-taking, with clear political objectives and blueprints, and I often find myself more persuaded by a presentation of macro-political problems when coupled with corresponding presentation of macro-political solutions. Communism, or another alternative to capitalism, frequently ends up being the only solution of that type in the room. Second, analytic salience: The materialist and class interest theories often relatively more explanatory power for oppression than any other individual factor because they entail a robust and logically consistent analysis of the incentives behind various actors committing various actions over time. I'm certainly not unwinnable for the aff in these debates, particularly if they strongly press the alt's feasibility and explain what they are able to solve in the context of the neg's turns case arguments, and I obviously will try my hardest to avoid letting any predisposition overwhelm my assessment of the debating.
8) Kritiks (vs policy affs)
I'm okay for 'old-school' kritik's (security/cap/etc), but I'm also okay for the aff. When I vote for kritiks, most of my RFD's look like one of the following:
1) The neg has won that the implementation of the plan is undesirable relative to the status quo;
2) The neg has explicitly argued (and won) that the framework of the debate should be something other than "weigh the plan vs squo/alt" and won within that framework.
If you don't do either of those things while going for a kritik, I am likely to be persuaded by traditional aff presses (case outweighs, try-or-die, perm double-bind, alt fails etc). Further, despite sympathies for and familiarity with much poststructural thought, I'm nevertheless quite easily persuaded to use utilitarian cost-benefit analysis to make difficult decisions, and I have usually found alternative methods of making decisions lacking and counter-intuitive by comparison.
Kritik alternatives typically make no sense. They often have no way to meaningfully compete with the plan, frequently because of a scale problem. Either they are comparing what one person/a small group should do to what the government should do, or what massive and sweeping international movements should do vs what a government should do. Both comparisons seem like futile exercises for reasons I hope are glaringly obvious.
There are theory arguments that affs could introduce against alternatives that exploit common design flaws in critical arguments. "Vague alts" is not really one of them (ironically because the argument itself is too vague). Some examples: "Alternatives should have texts; otherwise the alternative could shift into an unpredictable series of actions throughout the debate we can't develop reasonable responses against." "Alternatives should have actors; otherwise there is no difference between this and fiating 'everyone should be really nice to each other'." Permutations are easy to justify: the plan would have to be the best idea in the history of thought if all the neg had to do was think of something better.
Most kritik frameworks presented to respond to plan focus are not really even frameworks, but a series of vague assertions that the 2N is hoping that the judge will interpret in a way that's favorable for them (because they certainly don't know exactly what they're arguing for). Many judges continually interpret these confusing framework debates by settling on some middle-ground compromise that neither team actually presented. I prefer to choose between options that debaters actually present.
My ideal critical arguments would negate the aff. For example, against a heg aff, I could be persuaded by security K alts that advocate for a strategy of unilateral miltary withdrawal. Perhaps the permutation severs rhetoric and argumentation in the 1ac that, while not in the plan text, is both central enough to their advocacy and important enough (from a pedagogical perspective) that we should have the opportunity to focus the debate around the geopolitical position taken by the 1ac. The only implication to to a "framework" argument like this would be that, assuming the neg wins a link to something beyond the plan text, the judge should reject, on severence grounds, permutations against alts that actually make radical proposals. In the old days, this was called philosophical competition. How else could we have genuine debates about how to change society or grand strategy? There are good aff defenses of the plan focus model from a fairness and education perspective with which to respond to this, but this very much seems like a debate worth having.
All this might sound pretty harsh for neg's, but affs should be warned that I think I'm more willing than most judges to abandon policymaking paradigms based on technical debating. If the negative successfully presents and defends an alternative model of decisionmaking, I will decide the debate from within it. The ballot is clay; mold it for me and I'll do whatever you win I should.
9) Kritiks (vs K affs)
Seriously, I don't have strong presuppositions about what "new debate" is supposed to look like. For the most part, I'm happy to see any strategy that's well researched or well thought-out. Try something new! Even if it doesn't work out, it may lead to something that can radically innovate debate.
Most permutation/framework debates are really asking the question: "Is the part of the aff that the neg disagreed with important enough to decide an entire debate about?" (this is true in CP competition debates too, for what it's worth). Much of the substantive debating elsewhere subsequently determines the outcome of these sub-debates far more than debaters seem to assume.
Role of the ballot/judge claims are obviously somewhat self-serving, but in debates in which they're well-explained (or repeatedly dropped), they can be useful guidelines for crafting a reasonable decision (especially when the ballot theorizes a reasonable way for both teams to win if they successfully defend core thesis positions).
Yes, I am one of those people who reads critical theory for fun, although I also read about domestic politics, theoretical and applied IR, and economics for fun. Yes, I am a huge nerd, but who's the nerd that that just read the end of a far-too-long judge philosophy in preparation for a debate tournament? Thought so.
10) Addendum: Random Thoughts from Random Topics
In the spirit of Bill Batterman, I thought to myself: How could I make this philosophy even longer and less useable than it already was? So instead of deleting topic-relevent material from previous years that no longer really fit into the above sections, I decided to archive all of that at the bottom of the paradigm if I still agreed with what I said. Bad takes were thrown into the memory hole.
ESR debates on the executive powers topic: I think the best theory arguments against ESR are probably just solvency advocate arguments. Seems like a tough sell to tell the neg there’s no executive CP at all. I've heard varied definitions of “object fiat” over the years: fiating an actor that's a direct object/recipient of the plan/resolution; fiating an enduring negative action (i.e. The President should not use designated trade authority, The US should not retaliate to terrorist attacks with nukes etc); fiating an actor whose behavior is affected by a 1ac internal link chain. But none of these definitions seem particularly clear nor any of these objections particularly persuasive.
States CP on the education and health insurance topics: States-and-politics debates are not the most meaningful reflection of the topic literature, especially given that the nature of 50 state fiat distorts the arguments of most state action advocates, and they can be stale (although honestly anything that isn't a K debate will not feel stale to me these days). But I'm sympathetic to the neg on these questions, especially if they have good solvency evidence. There are a slew of policy analysts that have recommended as-uniform-as-possible state action in the wake of federal dysfunction. With a Trump administration and a Republican Congress, is the prospect of uniform state action on an education or healthcare policy really that much more unrealistic than a massive liberal policy? There are literally dozens of uniform policies that have been independently adopted by all or nearly all states. I'm open to counter-arguments, but they should all be as contextualized to the specific evidence and counter-interpretation presented by the negative as they would be in a topicality debate (the same goes for the neg in terms of answering aff theory pushes). It's hard to defend a states CP without meaningful evidentiary support against general aff predictability pushes, but if the evidence is there, it doesn't seem to unreasonable to require affs to debate it. Additionally, there does seem to be a persuasive case for the limiting condition that a "federal-key warrant" places on affirmatives.
Topicality on executive power: This topic is so strangely worded and verbose that it is difficult to win almost any topicality argument against strong affirmative answers, as powerful as the limits case may be. ESR makes being aff hard enough that I’m not sure how necessary the negative needs assistance in limiting down the scope of viable affs, but I suppose we shall see as the year moves forward. I’m certainly open to voting on topicality violations that are supported by quality evidence. “Restrictions in the area of” = all of that area (despite the fact that two of the areas have “all or nearly all” in their wordings, which would seem to imply the other three are NOT “all or nearly all”) does not seem to meet that standard.
Topicality on immigration: This is one of the best topics for neg teams trying to go for topicality in a long time... maybe since alternative energy in 2008-9. “Legal immigration” clearly means LPR – affs will have a tough time winning otherwise against competent negative teams. I can’t get over my feeling that the “Passel and Fix” / “Murphy 91” “humanitarian” violations that exclude refugee, asylums, etc, are somewhat arbitrary, but the evidence is extremely good for the negative (probably slightly better than it is for the affirmative, but it’s close), and the limits case for excluding these affs is extremely persuasive. Affs debating this argument in front of me should make their case that legal immigration includes asylum, refugees, etc by reading similarly high-quality evidence that says as much.
Topicality on arms sales: T - subs is persuasive if your argument is that "substantially" has to mean something, and the most reasonable assessment of what it should mean is the lowest contextual bound that either team can discover and use as a bulwark for guiding their preparation. If the aff can't produce a reasonably well-sourced card that says substantially = X amount of arms sales that their plan can feasibly meet, I think neg teams can win that it's more arbitrary to assume that substantially is in the topic for literally no reason than it is to assume the lowest plausible reading of what substantially could mean (especially given that every definition of substantially as a higher quantity would lead one to agree that substantially is at least as large as that lowest reading). If the aff can, however, produce this card, it will take a 2N's most stalwart defense of any one particular interpretation to push back against the most basic and intuitive accusations of arbitrariness/goalpost-shifting.
T - reduce seems conceptually fraught in almost every iteration. Every Saudi aff conditions its cessation of arms sales on the continued existence of Saudi Arabia. If the Saudi military was so inept that the Houthis suddenly not only won the war against Saleh but actually captured Saudi Arabia and annexed it as part of a new Houthi Empire, the plan would not prevent the US from selling all sorts of exciting PGMs to Saudi Arabia's new Houthi overlords. Other than hard capping the overall quantity of arms sales and saying every aff that doesn't do that isn't topical, (which incidentally is not in any plausible reading a clearly forwarded interpretation of the topic in that poorly-written Pearson chapter), it's not clear to me what the distinction is between affs that condition and affs that don't are for the purposes of T - Reduce
Topicality on CJR: T - enact is persuasive. The ev is close, but in an evenly debated and closely contested round where both sides read all of the evidence I've seen this year, I'd be worried if I were aff. The debateability case is strong for the neg, given how unlimited the topic is, but there's a case to be made that courts affs aren't so bad and that ESR/politics is a strong enough generic to counter both agents.
Other T arguments are, generally speaking, uphill battles. Unless a plan text is extremely poorly written, most "T-Criminal" arguments are likely solvency takeouts, though depending on advantage construction they may be extremely strong and relevant solvency takeouts. Most (well, all) subsets arguments, regardless of which word they define, have no real answer to "we make some new rule apply throughout the entire area, e.g. all police are prohibitied from enforcing XYZ criminal law." Admittedly, there are better and worse variations for all of these violations. For example, Title 18 is a decent way to set up "T - criminal justice excludes civil / decrim" types of interpretations, despite the fact it's surprisingly easy for affs to win they meet it. And of course, aff teams often screw these up answering bad and mediocre T args in ways that make them completely viable. But none of these would be my preferred strategy, unless of course you're deploying new cards or improved arguments at the TOC. If that's the case, nicely done! If you think your evidence is objectively better than the aff cards, and that you can win the plan clearly violates a cogent interpretation, topicality is always a reasonable option in front of me.
Topicality on space cooperation: Topicality is making a big comeback in college policy debates this year. Kiinda overdue. But also kinda surprising because the T evidence isn't that high quality relative to its outsized presence in 2NRs, but hey, we all make choices.
STM T debates have been underwhelming in my assessment. T - No ADR... well at least is a valid argument consisting of a clear interp and a clear violation. It goes downhill from there. It's by no means unwinnable, but not a great bet in an evenly matched ebate. But you can't even say that for most of the other STM interps I've seen so far. Interps that are like "STM are these 9 things" are not only silly, they frequently have no clear way of clearly excluding their hypothesized limits explosion... or the plan. And I get it - STM affs are the worst (and we're only at the tip of the iceberg for zany STM aff prolif). Because STM proposals are confusing, different advocates use the terms in wildly different ways, the proposals are all in the direction of uniqueness and are difficult to distinguish from similar policy structures presently in place, and the area lacks comprehensive neg ground outside of "screw those satellites, let em crash," STM affs producing annoying debates (which is why so many teams read STM). But find better and clearer T interps if you want to turn those complaints about topical affs into topicality arguments that exclude those affs. And I encourage you to do so quickly, as I will be the first to shamelessly steal them for my teams.
Ironically, the area of the topic that produces what seem to me the best debates (in terms of varied, high-quality, and evenly-matched argumentation) probably has the single highest-quality T angle for the neg to deploy against it. And that T angle just so happens to exclude nearly every arms control aff actually being ran. In my assessment, both the interp that "arms control = quantitative limit" and the interp that "arms control = militaries just like chilling with each other, hanging out, doing some casual TCBMs" are plausible readings of the resolution. The best aff predictability argument is clearly that arms control definitions established before the space age have some obvious difficulties remaining relevant in space. But it seems plausible that that's a reason the resolution should have been written differently, not that it should be read in an alternate way. That being said, the limits case seems weaker than usual for the neg (though not terrible) and in terms of defending an interp likely to result in high-quality debates, the aff has a better set of ground arguments at their disposal than usual.
Trump-era politics DAs: Most political capital DAs are self-evidently nonsense in the Trump era. We no longer have a president that expends or exerts political capital as described by any of the canonical sources that theorized that term. Affs should be better at laundry listing thumpers and examples that empirically prove Trump's ability to shamelessly lie about whatever the aff does or why he supports the aff and have a conservative media environment that tirelessly promotes that lie as the new truth, but it's not hard to argue this point well. Sometimes, when there's an agenda (even if that agenda is just impeachment), focus links can be persuasive. I actually like the internal agency politics DA's more than others do, because they do seem to better analyze the present political situation. Our political agenda at the national level does seem driven at least as much by personality-driven palace intrigue as anything else; if we're going to assess the political consequences of our proposed policies, that seems as good a proxy for what's likely to happen as anything else.
New Note - I'm totally uninterested in adjudicating arguments that endorse self harm, suicide, or purposeful death. I won't auto-vote against you but if someone you're debating asks me to stop the debate I will. If I end up voting for you, you will not like your points.
Things like wipeout/spark/other impact turns are a little different than this category for me and you can still read those types of hypothetical impact turns as they don't feel the same as [self harm good].
I am a coach at the University of Texas-Austin and Westwood High School. Conflicts: Texas, LASA, Westwood, St Vincent de Paul, Bakersfield High School
Email Chain: yes, email@example.com
Debate is an activity about persuasion and communication. If I can't understand what you are saying because you are unclear, haven't coherently explained it, or developed it into a full argument-claim, warrant, impact, it likely won't factor in my decision.
While there are some exceptions, most debaters I've judged the last few years are pretty unclear, so its likely I will miss some arguments. Zoom has magnified this issue for me (not necessarily the debaters fault). Final rebuttals offer you a space to retrace the part(s) of the debate you think are most relevant to the decision. This both makes it much more likely I will understand your argument and will likely improve your speaker points.
The winner will nearly always be the team able to identify the central question of the debate first and most clearly trace how the development of their argument means they're ahead on that central question.
Virtually nothing you can possibly say or do will offend me [with the new above caveat] if you can't beat a terrible argument you probably deserve to lose.
Everyone seems to have intense clashphobia these days - this isn't about policy or k debate, its across the board and going for the least covered option seems to be everyone's mantra. I get why you think that's strategic, but typically it results in shallow rebuttals, frustrating decisions, 1-1-1 panels and lower points. Specific AFF/NEG research that demonstrate the third and fourth level testing everyone seems to think is important wil be rewarded with higher points. All in on "not our ___" will not.
I flow CX, unless its some random clarification question you forgot I will stop flowing CX after 3 minutes. The "I'm going to ask a million questions while my partner preps their 2NC" has gotten ridiculous.
newer - I don't judge many non-framework debates anymore. I tend to vote neg when the neg wins clash is the biggest/most portable impact + explanation for how it improves over the year as a result of their interp and access aff offense via TVA or SSD. I tend to vote AFF when they win an impact turn to the end result of clash alongside robust answers to the NEG ballot can't access that offense args. I think 2NCs that lack an explanation of how 2nd and 3rd level testing occurs under their interp and changes over the year, with examples, lacks credibility when going for only clash matters (you can maybe win the debate on a different terminal impact, but lately I haven't really voted on other ones). Fairness is both an internal link and an impact. Debate is a game but its also so much more. You can persuade me to think one way or the other in any given debate and I've learned to love judging these debates because I often learn new things about the activity and its potential.
older - but not un-true
I find myself voting negative a lot on procedural fairness a lot. K affs seem to have a lot of trouble deciding if they want to go for the middle ground or just impact turn--pick a strategy and stick to it 1AC-2AR and you're more likely to be in a good place. The block is almost always great on T, the 2NR almost always forgets to do terminal impact calculus. Testing arguments become much more persuasive to me when you give specific examples for how those would occur. What neg args would you be able to read against a potential TVA? Why is it good for the 2AC to research those positions, how would you researching answers to their answers be beneficial? A lot of this stuff just gets assumed and I think that a lot of repetitiveness from most framework 2NCs can be substituted for this kind of depth early in the debate. 2NRs sometimes seem to spend so much time on why they access AFF lit base/impacts that they don't end up extending a terminal impact or external offense at all. I think it's difficult to win a debate when you basically go for a CP w/o a net benefit.
I'm a lot better for framework that sounds closer to T with a limits and clash as the primary impacts then the soliloquy on the most superior model for debate. Clash as the most important internal link to education/fairness/skills/game etc. is usually more persuasive to me than other arguments on T.
-If your CP competes based on the certainty or immediacy of the plan, it doesn't take a ton on theory for me to reject the counter plan.
-I won't kick it for you unless you tell me to. Judge kick makes more sense to me than it used to, but I still think the AFF can win it shouldn't be allowed.
-"perm do both" or "perm do cp" with no explanation isn't a complete argument. I get that given negative off-case prolif sometimes this feels inevitable, but I'm confident results will improve if you give warrants for any permutation that you think it's likely will find its way into the 2AR.
-affs usually lose these by forgetting about the case, negs usually lose these when they don't contextualize links to the 1ac. If you're reading a policy aff that clearly links, I'll be pretty confused if you don't go impact turns/case outweighs.
-link specificity is important - I don't think this is necessarily an evidence thing, but an explanation thing - lines from 1AC, examples, specific scenarios are all things that will go a long way
-they should be intrinsic to the plan, with enough time investment affs can potentially win that agenda politics disads are not a logical opportunity cost.
-uniqueness controls the direction of the link typically makes the most sense to me, but you can probably convince me otherwise
I haven't judge many rounds. Likely quite bad for tricks - arguments need a claim, warrant and impact to be complete. Dropped arguments are important if you explain how they implicate my decision.
Unlikely you'll convince me the aff doesn't get to read a plan for topicality reasons. K framework is a separate from this and open to debate.
Lane Tech - 2012 - 2013
Iowa City High - 2013 - 2016
University of Northern Iowa - 2016 - 2017
Emporia State 2018 - 2021
Berkeley Prep - 2021 -
Updated for Greenhill Round Robin
better for k v k or policy v k
email chain - BerkeleyPrepDocs@gmail.com
- have aff specific link explanations regardless of offcase position - that doesnt mean that every card has to be specific to the aff but your explanation of the link should be as specific to the 1AC as you can make possible - extra speaker points to those who can successfully pull lines
- that being said, "as specific to the 1AC" means you could have a really good link to aff's mechanism. or you could have a great state link. or a link to their impacts. etc. it doesnt matter to me what the link is as long as it is well developed and made specific to what the 1AC is. I dont want to hear the same generic state link as much as the next person but if you make it creative and you use the aff than I dont see a problem.
- affirmatives could be about the topic, or they could not be, its up to you as long as whatever you choose to do you can defend and explain. If you're not about the topic and its a framework debate, I need to know what your model of debate is or why you shouldnt need to defend one etc. if youre reading a performance aff, the performance is just as important if not more than the evidence you are reading - so dont forget to extend the performance throughout the debate and use it to answer the other teams arguments.
- whether its one off or 8 please be aware of the contradictions you will be making in the 1NC and be prepared to defend them or have some sort of plan if called out.
- on that note theory debates are fine and could be fun. im not that opposed to voting on theory arguments of all varieties as long as you spend a sufficient amount of time in the rebuttals to warrant me voting on them. most of the time thats a substantial amount if not the entirety of one or more of your rebuttals.
- perm debates are weird and i dont feel great voting for "do both" without at least an explanation of how that works. "you dont get a perm in method debates" feels wrong mostly because like these are all made up debate things anyways and permutations are good ways to test the competitiveness of ks/cps/cas. that being said, if you have a good justification for why the aff shouldnt get one and they do an insufficient job of answering it, i will obviously vote on "no perms in method debates"
- dropped arguments are probably true arguments, but there are always ways to recover, however, not every argument made in a debate is an actual argument and being able to identify what is and isn't will boost your speaker points
- do you and have fun with it. as long as you are doing what you do best I don't care if its one off or politics, reject the rez or fracking.
Updated for the Mid America Cup 2020 -
Thought I would update this to reflect some changes to my outlook on both my career in debate and judging. most of what i have said below still applies but these are the more pertinent changes:
1) I have developed a more flex approach the activity and doing so has made me a better judge for both policy teams and k-teams. Bassically - go for whatever arg you want whether it be elections or bataille
2) rebuttles have become even more important and your speaker points will reflect your performance in the last few speeches than it will in the constructives
3) online debate is ripe with potential hurdles and pitfalls - we will work as a group to come to the best solution so dont worry if something comes up that makes us stop or redue.
4) email chain - if you could put both firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com on the chain that would be much appreciated
Updated for Dowling 2018
TLDR: Almost exclusively read kritiks throughout my entire time in debate, so this is written largely for those teams/debates. That being said, I don't think that my paradigm should influence what you read in the round, in the end I would much rather see you do whatever you are most comfortable or best with, instead of what you think I want to hear.
As a debater, I read almost exclusively kritiks, which includes a wide range of performance, existential philosophy, reps kritiks, antiblackness, queer theory, death good etc. But this pretty much only really means like 2 things. 1) I'm not one someone with a "No Plan, GTFO" belief-system - in fact I'm the opposite, and enjoy plan-less debate immensely. 2) while there is a fair chance I understand what your literature base is, this means I hold your explanation to a higher threshold and will probably have a lot of thoughts after the round about how you could better utilize it.
Other than that my understanding of the literature doesn't play a part in how I determine rounds. While I might be considerably more bored in a policy centric round where I have to weigh the counter-plan and ptx against a "USfg should do" plan text, that doesn't mean I wont actively judge the round to the best of my ability, it also doesn't meant that I wont be equally as bored in a k v k debate. Just win the argument and make my decision easy.
I evaluate framework v a k aff that doesn't defend the resolution as I would hope any other judge would. Unless otherwise specified I'll always default to a model of debate question and which team has presented me with a more desirable model. This means I can be equally persuaded by either teams model, its just a question of what arguments are presented and how they are utilized.
Aff side bias? - I'm not sure. I think my judging record just reflects what I said above, I hold the 2nr to a high standard because I'm also a 2n and more often then not am judging critical debates when I'm on the national circut. An insufficient 2nr makes it difficult to vote neg.
anything else? - feel free to ask, I'd be happy to answer any questions you have.
*Find all of the relevant water puns and you get a +.2 speaker boost. One guess per debater. Sink or Swim on this
Jake Lee (He/Him)
Present and Past Affiliations:
Current High School Affiliation - Head Coach and Teacher at the Mamaroneck High School
Current College Affiliation - Assistant Coach at the University of Michigan
Former Assistant Coach - Pine Crest ('18-'21), Strath Haven ('19)
Former Debater - University of Pittsburgh ('16-'20), Qualified to NDT ('19)
Former Debater - GBS ('12-'16)
HS Debaters add: mamaroneckdebate[at]googlegroups[dot]com
College Debaters add: umichdocs[at]gmail[dot]com
6th year Judging High School Debate, 2nd year Judging College Debate
Tech > Truth
I'm good for anything. I have judged all various types/styles of debate. Do whatever makes the debate flow well.
Will not vote on Death Good, Racism Good, Sexism Good, etc.
Explanation matters more than evidence. Most debaters give shallow explanations of their arguments. Cards only matter to break ties in arguments when warrants/arguments are explicitly contested.
Condo is probably fine. New affs justify condo and maybe perf con. International Fiat is probably bad. Do not coast through your theory blocks to answer theory. Clash with your opponents arguments
You are NOT allowed to insert the re-highlighting of a card. You MUST read you re-highlighting. I will not flow it and speaks will be docked
Water Topic Thoughts:
I do research on this topic pretty much all of the time since debate is practically my full time job.
The States Counterplan wave is real. These debates seems to be very enjoyable. I am not afraid to vote for 50 State fiat bad, however, that does not mean I will not vote for 50 state fiat good
T debates seems to be stale. Haven't heard a decent topicality argument so far
Antitrust Topic Thoughts:
I have very little topic knowledge. I do know a bit about antitrust law, but gonna need a little more unpacking
Heard its pretty neg side bias, so 1NCs better be stacked with stuff other then just politics, federalism and states
Cap debates I've heard sound interesting.
Specific Debate Thoughts:
Counterplans: Fine for Counterplans. Advantage CPs are under-utilized in debate. Some process counterplans are more legitimate than others.
Disadvantages: Fine for DAs, Impact Calculus is a must, filtering your offense out is important.
Topicality: Will reward high speaks for a good T debate, but that does not mean you should go for T just for the points. Limits > Ground. Stop calling T arguments by an author name (ie T-Pearson, last year instead of T-Reduce)
Critiques: Fine with Critiques, pretty well versed in most literature ranging from Security and Cap to Identity-based and High Theory K's. Still believe Links about the plan > Links about advantage thesis/impacts, extinction probably outweighs, and an alternative should have to do something. The Framework debate impacts my decision calculus the most in these types of debates.
Framework: These debates tend to drift away from offense. Condensing the debate to your best impacts are the best debates. Best impact to Framework is CLASH and TOPIC EDUCATION. I can see Fairness as an impact, but view it honestly as an internal link. AFFs are better off impact turning the negative's offense and weighing their counter-interpretation. NEG teams needs to answer the AFF's specific arguments. Generically stating fairness and clash won't get you very far.
Why don't more people read Heg/Cap Good against K affs? Much rather see that debate than a Framework Debate.
**Side Note about Counterplans: Counterplans are becoming more and more abusive and the AFF just lets things slide a bit too much. The fact in the HS scene has a cascade of teams reading multiplank-advantage CPs that the STATES are doing without a solvency advocate is pretty ridiculous. Now, will I auto vote AFF on theory, no, but make the argument very compelling and it is pretty decent.
Yes, I want to be on the email chain, please put both emails on the chain.
I attempted to resist the point inflation that seems to happen everywhere these days, but I decided that was not fair to the teams/debaters that performed impressively in front of me.
27.7 to 28.2 - Average
28.3 to 28.6 - Good job
28.7 to 29.2 - Well above average
29.3 to 29.7 - Great job/ impressive job
29.8 to 29.9 - Outstanding performance, better than I have seen in a long time. Zero mistakes and you excelled in every facet of the debate.
30 - I have not given a 30 in years and years, true perfection.
I am willing to listen to most arguments. There are very few debates where one team wins all of the arguments so each of you must identify what you are winning and make the necessary comparisons between your arguments and the other team's arguments/positions. Speed is not a problem although clarity is essential. If I think that you are unclear I will say clearer and if you don't clear up I will assign speaker points accordingly. Try to be nice to each other and enjoy yourself. Good cross-examinations are enjoyable and typically illuminates particular arguments that are relevant throughout the debate. Please, don't steal prep time. I do not consider e-mailing evidence as part of your prep time nonetheless use e-mailing time efficiently.
I enjoy substantive debates as well as debates of a critical tint. If you run a critical affirmative you should still be able to demonstrate that you are Topical/predictable. I hold Topicality debates to a high standard so please be aware that you need to isolate well-developed reasons as to why you should win the debate (ground, education, predictability, fairness, etc.). If you are engaged in a substantive debate, then well-developed impact comparisons are essential (things like magnitude, time frame, probability, etc.). Also, identifying solvency deficits on counter-plans is typically very important.
Theory debates need to be well developed including numerous reasons a particular argument/position is illegitimate. I have judged many debates where the 2NR or 2AR are filled with new reasons an argument is illegitimate. I will do my best to protect teams from new arguments, however, you can further insulate yourself from this risk by identifying the arguments extended/dropped in the 1AR or Negative Bloc.
GOOD LUCK! HAVE FUN!
Yes, I want to be on the email chain. Codymorrowtx1@gmail.com
Assistant Coach @ Mamaroneck, 2020-Present
Assistant Coach @ Lexington, 2019-20
Debated @ Northside College Prep, 2015-19 (TOC x2)
The sections below this are a set of my opinions on debate, not a stringent set of guidelines that I always adhere to when making decisions. Debate is an incredibly valuable activity, and thus I encourage you to go for the arguments that you enjoy instead of overcorrecting to my paradigm. I tend to like most arguments - my only distinction between good and bad debates is whether or not your argumentation is strategic and nuanced.
I think CX is heavily underutilized by most debaters. Organized debates make my job easier and are more enjoyable.
I won’t vote on things that have happened outside of the round.
There is a fine line between being assertive and being rude in CX - please be aware of it.
Don’t threaten others or make harmful comments about someone or a group of people - you will lose the round and I will talk with your coaches.
If the coaching staff at your program encourages you to make harassment/insulting the other team a component of your strategy, I suggest you strike me, and I would encourage you to deeply reconsider if you are making debate better.
Non-Traditional Affs/Clash Debates
It’s hard for me to be convinced that policy debate actively creates bad people OR perfect policymakers; I think there’s value in challenging our understanding of the resolution and debate itself, but I also don’t think T is inherently violent.
In clash debates, I tend to vote negative when the affirmative fails to parse out the unique benefits of their model of debate, and tend to vote affirmative when the negative fails to grapple with the applicable offense of case. Organization often falls by the wayside in these debates, so I would encourage you to identify the nexus questions of the debate early and compartmentalize them to one area of the flow.
Fairness can be an impact, but it is not one by default - that requires explanation. I’ll vote for any impact on FW if effectively argued, but I personally like strategies centered around truth-testing/dogmatism. I think skepticism is healthy and that breaking out of our preferred ideological bubbles results in more ethical and pragmatic decision-making over time, but I can also be persuaded that the method the aff defends can also be consistently ethical/beneficial.
Aff teams are overly reliant on exclusion/policing arguments but almost never actually impact out the tangible consequences of the negative model as a result, or provide a reason why the ballot would resolve this. If arguments like these are what you like going for, I suggest you codify them within a reasonability paradigm that criticizes the usefulness of the competing interpretations model when it comes to K Affs.
I will say that I am quite partial to teams that go for the K against non-traditional affs (I judge FW debates frequently, and they get repetitive). Most K affs nowadays are specifically tailored to beat FW and generally rely on generic permutations to beat back K’s. I can be easily convinced that permutations exist to compare the opportunity cost of combining specific policies, and that in debates of competing methodologies the evaluating point of the debate should be reliant on who had broader explanatory power and a more effective orientation. How I decide that is up to what parameters you establish within the debate.
I’m not opposed to any of them. However, I do prefer techy K debaters - overviews should be short and the substantive parts of the debate should be done on the respective parts of the line by line.
Specificity goes beyond good links - nuanced impact and turns case explanations make it easier to vote on something tangible as opposed to nebulous platitudes. It’s easy to tell when you have a generic link wall with fill-in-the-blanks like “insert aff impact” “aff mechanism” etc.
For both teams - know the broader theories that your arguments function within (i.e. understanding what theory of IR your authors defend, or actually knowing a decent amount about the author your K is named after). Understanding these concepts outside of the context of debate will give you the tools to be more specific in round, and will often give you additional ways to leverage offense.
Aff teams with extinction impacts - stop overcorrecting to the negative team's strategy. Extinction is extinction, which is easily defensible as bad - if you're not link turning the K/going for the perm, I find it strange when the 1AR/2AR try to subsume the K's impacts/offense by describing how the inroads to extinction would be bad for X group the K is worried about ("nUcLeAr StRiKeS tArGeT uRbAn CeNtErS") ... because extinction, in the end, kills everyone. Also, K teams often capitalize on this arbitrary framing and make it a new link. Don't waste your time - win that you get to weigh your impacts and then win that your impacts outweigh.
The more specific, the better.
Yes judge kick. “Status quo is always an option,” once said, is sufficient enough for me to be willing to kick the CP unless the aff explicitly challenges it in both aff rebuttals.
Condo is good. If the 2AR is condo, it's either been dropped or you think it is your only road to victory.
I lean neg on most theory issues, but can be convinced that process CPs and 50 state/NGA fiat are bad for debate.
Invest time and organization into the competition debate - meta definitions matter just as much as word definitions in these debates because they are about competing models.
Severance perms are probably always bad, but intrinsic perms can be very useful if you know how to defend them well.
Love them, even the crappy ones - there's nothing more fun than watching someone very effectively debate in favor of something everyone in the round knows is ridiculously unlikely.
Winning framing does not mean you win terminal defense to the DA. Winning that a DA is low risk comes from substantive arguments, and then how the framing debate is resolved dictates whether or not risk probability matters. Seriously. Nebulous arguments about the conjunctive fallacy or the general low risk of existential impacts mean nothing if the 2NR can just get up and point to a unique internal link chain on their DA that has not been contested.
Impact turn debates are some of my favorite rounds to judge, but unfortunately I am often left to resolve stalemates within a debate by reading a bulk of the cards in the round and then determining on my own which ones are better, which I think functions as a disservice to everyone in the round. I don’t think that having less/worse ev necessarily means you’ll lose the debate, but you must have constant and effective comparison in-round.
Evidence comparison matters. Terminal impacts are important - so many 2NRs don't do this work (why, I don't know). Not enough teams are going for T against the egregious number of bad affs on this topic.
I don't like arguments like Embody PTX because I don't think there is a way to enforce them as a model and thus lend themselves to problematic enforcement, and it frustrates me when affirmative teams don't make the obvious case for this being true.
Aff teams should be going for reasonability more often against nitpicky T violations - not as a vague appeal, but as a better heuristic than competing interps.
Last Updated: 2/24/21
I would like to be on the email chain firstname.lastname@example.org
***I will be very upset about cards sent in the body of an email instead of a document***
***This Paradigm is written with with the idea that I will be judging policy debates, if this isn't a policy debate take what applies to you and ignore everything that doesn't***
*Overall Ideas that I have about debate*
I like all styles of debate.
I believe that debate is a fun game we play.
Why we play the game is different for everyone.
I believe that everyone should have fun playing it.
This is especially true for novice debate. I think sometimes we forget we all had a first day.
What this means is that I will make it a priority to keep the spaces I'm involved in safe.
I will acknowledge the material implications of some bodies in certain spaces, so I will not police the debate space or conform to respectability politics of ANY tournament.
I will try my best to make this space accessible for you. Let me know what I can do (this can include an email before the round).
Technical debate is good debate.
A true argument can beat a bunch of silly arguments.
An Argument is a claim with a warrant. I will only flow claims with warrants.
I will not listen to impact turns of oppression. I will stop the round and leave. Your speaker points will reflect this.
Don't use slurs outside of your social location. I will stop the round and leave. Your speaker points will reflect this.
I don't want to judge a debate based off of what happened outside of the round. It becomes really awkward for everyone. And I can't adequately attest these truth claims. Just don't do it. Please.
I flow on paper- due to technology sound transfer and audio processing I ask that you go slower than your fastest pace. 80% of your normal speed should be good. If I don't flow it, it doesn't count so don't try to argue with me on what you did/didn't say.
Spreading is a strategy used to create Layers to an argument in a small amount of time. If you are just fast without adding dimension to your argument then you are dong it wrong and should stop.
I am very expressive, you can tell if I like your argument or if you are winning an argument.
I understand adapting to judges, but from personal experience you can win in front of any critic doing what you do best.
I am open to adjusting my judging style/practice in nearly anyway that is asked of me.
I will not be offended if you ask me about my familiarity with topic specific acronyms/specific arguments. PLEASE DO SO. I want to know what you're talking about.
AFF: You should be "topical", what that means is up for debate. Does that mean in the direction of the topic? Does that mean USFG action? IDK you tell me. But criticizing the "norms" of debate without relation to the topic is iffy for me and in my opinion a negative argument. If you have a justification for it go ahead because I will be evaluating the debate based off my flow anyway, but I am sympathetic to T/Framework Arguments. But don't be discouraged I have read/do read/coach teams to read "non-topical" affirmatives and understand the strategic choice behind doing so. That non-topical affirmative MUST do something (re: differ from the status quo).
The status quo is always an option. Please don't forget the art of case debate. This goes beyond just impact defense. Don't be afraid for a good Impact Turn debate I'm all for a warming good, econ decline good, bio D loss good, ect debate.
I wholeheartedly believe that you can say the state can do a particular policy action, and that single instance is good for x amount of people, without defending the other terrible things the state has done. Example, Welfare is probably a good thing. Yes there is problems with who gets it, but a world with out it is probably worse. I also believe that wiki disclosures is good defense against predictability claims. I also believe that some teams don't even make an attempt at engagement and some framework shells are written with the intent to never have k debates exist. That's probably a bad thing to defend. Don't let that be you. Nonetheless, T debates are dope. I default to competing interpretations unless told otherwise. It will never be a reverse voter. It will never be genocide. You have to have a TVA. Your standards need to be impacted out or else they are just internal links and idk what to do with that. I will not vote on potential abuse. I want to see the blood on the flow. Where did they make the game unfair for you. I think the more specific the evidence/examples the better.
Impact framing and comparisons are major key. I'm cool with Generics DA's as long as your links are baller, but the more unique the DA the better. I believe in a 1% risk of a link. I also believe in a 0% risk of an impact. Explanation is key here. Im more willing to vote on a good story with fewer cards than me drowning in cards and trying to put together a story myself. also please tag your card 7 words or more. "more ev" is not an argument and i will not evaluate it.
I'm all for a good counterplan. 2nc counterplans are cool. 2nc amendments are cool. For me to vote on a CP you need to be super good on the case debate and differentiating the perm. Be clear on the CP text so I can flow it and also establish competition and better evaluate the argument. The states counter plan is definitely a legitimate strategy and should be protected at all cost.
I'm most familiar with argumentation in critical race theory, gender and sexuality args and identity/performance based arguments but this doesn't mean I won't listen to what you have to say if those things aren't your jazz. Reading is Fundamental. I read a lot so I will most likely know what you are talking about. I expect college debaters to also be well read. My patience increases with hs debaters learning about different arguments, none the less you should still be reading. I cannot stress this enough. Reading is imperative. My hs kids have taken a liking to old french dudes so I have tried by best as an educator to familiarize myself with that field of literature to be a better coach. I will give you that same respect as an adjudicator if I don't understand your criticism. I believe engagement and contextualizing your theory with your opponents arguments gets you a long way. Explain what the alt does. I think far too often this explanation is missing from the debate. I don't believe in just voting on links (I say this, but as I think about it you can go for links as disads to the case...idk convince me). You have to find a way to resolve those for me. Also "root cause" arguments are not links, they are just alt solvency evidence.
I don't believe in Fem IR criticisms, I don’t believe in satire performances, I’m not a fan of girl boss feminist narratives, and I have a problem with “debate bad” arguments.
Don't read theory args as a time skew. The aff gets a perm unless you say why. Conditionality: The neg can do whatever they want as long as the positions don't contradict (nothing more than 5 off please), and they make a decision in the 2nr. I will not judge kick for you. You need to make a decision. Not here for cheap shots. I really don't want to have to judge a theory debate but I understand abuse and am willing to vote on it. If you plan on going for a theory argument, a substantial amount of time needs to be spent on it in the rebuttal. SPEC arguments are the worst thing to happen to debate and I will buy anything the 2a says if its remotely responsive. As said before, I don't like performative contradictions. This also just applies to the rounds that i'm in. I don't care that the person reading framework against you also reads a k aff. It's a game. they picked a strategy that's going to win them the game.
Is binding. Is a speech. I'll write notes during this time. Please Answer questions. Don't be sketchy, I'll know it. Don't be afraid to point out if your opponents are being sketchy.
Do not Fabricate evidence. It's inexcusable. Do not clip cards. its inexcusable.
Challenges of card clipping will result in stopping the debate if material evidence is provided that proves beyond a reasonable doubt in my mind that card clipping has occurred. the offending team will receive a loss and the offending speaker will receive 0 speaker points. however if i conclude that the speaker is not guilty of clipping cards the challenging team will receive a loss and both challenging speakers will receive 0 speaker points.
***clipping cards is not a slurring of words or clack of clarity***
I'm from the school of thought that everybody in the round should have access to all evidence read in the debate. Denial to share citations or disclose is a b!+ch move. Prepared debate is good debate. Don't get this confused with breaking new, that's all fine.
MY TIME IS THE RIGHT TIME AND THE ONLY TIME THAT MATTERS. I don't count flashing or emailing as prep. Flex prep is not a thing(you cannot use cross-x as prep or time to give another speech). Speak in your assigned time slots (interpret this vaguely. It just means 1 constructive and 1 rebuttal. idc the order) unless for some performative or ethical reason that you can't (For example, if both debaters speak during the 1AC cool. There was a reason for it. Probably performative. In the rebuttal to continue the performance? Cool. Have a debater take over the line by line? Not Cool. This is a clear shift in the competitive aspect and nature of the game. Unless for some reason a debater disappears/goes missing...why would this happen? idk, but unusual things happen all the time)
Clarification questions during prep is okay. But don't try to make "a point". If you happen to be a team on the receiving end of someone trying to tear down your argument during prep, please refuse to answer.
I'll hook everyone up with speaks #PointFairy. I never want to be the reason debaters don’t break so I might over compensate, but who cares y’all are doing all the rigorous work the least I can do is help in the speaker point end.
I understand the joy of speaker awards and I will do my best to help y'all out.
I evaluate speaks of by delivery>argument choice. the team with the better Argument choice will most likely win win the round.
You'll get a 30 if you are just baller, or make me laugh uncontrollably. (I enjoy witty jokes, and I'm a big sports fan if that helps you come up with material)
+0.3 for every KD joke
(I haven't made up my mind if I will put a cap on jokes or not, so be a comedian at the risk of knowing you might not be rewarded for all the jokes)
I'll use this as a tool to teach young people how to advocate for themselves. after the round tell me what speaks you think you deserve(realistically) and I might agree with you.
when making analytical arguments I would advise going for the easiest pen to paper phrasing
if you send me your flow after the round I will up your speaks(HS ONLY)
How I make my Decisions:
I use the burden of rejoinder frame to structure how I evaluate debates.
I hold a strict line with new arguments in the rebuttals so a majority of my time will be lining up arguments.
In clash debates the easiest framing for me is what's most educational and best for the community.
I dislike students who try to post round. This has only happened to me twice. None the less I will not tolerate it. I am also willing to admit that I am wrong. But that will not change my decision. If the understanding that I get form your argument happens in a post round and not in a debate, I cannot reward you for communicating your point late in the game. This is a communication activity and if something didn't reach my flow like how you intended there isn't much I can do but listen and process to the best of my ability. If you think I made the wrong decision that's fine and you are completely entitled to feel that way. It does not change the fact that you loss.
Mics/Things you might wanna know about me:
I am Black and Queer.
When I debated I was trained to "Defend the walls" later in my career I became a "k-debater"
You all can call me Jada you don't have to say judge
I was a 2n
I'm a Dog Mom
I have a real pet peeve with what is considered violence in debate
You can insert re highlighting- you don't have to reread the card
If you wanna talk about college debate I'm here(I debated for UNLV) or I can get you in touch with someone from a program you are interested in.
Quotes from People in The Community about me:
"Super smart and a great person all around" Allego Wang
"Incredibly intelligent + really good at explaining difficult concepts" Ali saffieddine
"Their ability to compartmentalize argumentation and overall communication skills are ones I've always aspired to have and continue to grow from simple conversations I have with them. Jada's ability to empathize with students and find the grammar to communicate in ways to accommodate students needs and comprehension skills is one of the many talented characteristics they have. They will really be personal to you and your needs, with flares of individual organic wisdom they've learned over the years. They will not just lecture you. They will help you on your path to education/understanding difficult literature bases by shining light at your strengths and guiding you to find solutions to your weaknesses. Legit, Jada is one of the most influential person I've been blessed to come across" Yumasie Hellebuick
"You're the 50 cent of this community" -Chris Randall
"Jada is the love of my life" - Caitlin Walrath
"I told ppl to pref u just cuz you’re not afraid to stare a k team down and say “yea I voted on nuke war outweighs” with a smile ¯\_(ãƒ„)_/¯" -Ari Davidson
"Jada makes the best memes" JV Soccer Captain and my Teammate Dan Bannister
These are my jams at the moment do with that what you will:
Yes, include me on the doc chain – email@example.com
No, I am not ok with you just putting the card in the text of the email
Idk if the aff has to read a plan. I would obviously prefer it, but I also would prefer if I were in for zero rounds, so…
JESUS CHRIST PLEASE stop trying to debate how you think I want you to. It's never a good look to over adapt, unless you want to go for Baudrillard and somehow ended up with me as a judge. Then please over adapt.
Quick note: (Fall 2021)
I am chronically ill. you 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.
The longer version:
-I’ve never judged a planless debate where the neg has not gone for framework.
-I generally went for framework against planless affirmatives when I debated, and therefore am a bit deeper on the neg side of things.
-I don’t think topicality, or adhering to a resolution, is analogous to rape, slavery, or other atrocities.
-I don’t think that not being topical will cause everyone to quit, lose all ability to navigate existential crisis, or other tedious internal link chains.
-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.
-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.
-if you choose to pref me, that’s on you. Blow me up and I might blow back.
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
-Generally, contradictions justify severance
-Generally, the neg is allowed to read Ks
K v K debate:
Wow, you might be the first to be judged by me in this situation. Congrats! Also sorry! I have no clue what if I’m supposed to judge differently, but 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.
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 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.
-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 are in tough shape. Its not unwinnable, but I was a 2A…
-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. Except conditionality…that makes no sense.
-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 and will be treated as such.
-Yes, there can be zero DA. No, it’s not as common as you think.
-answer turns case!!!
-There is a lot uncovered here… at least I finally updated it from 2012 ¯\_(ãƒ„)_/¯
Stanford '17, '18
Yes email chain: lowelldebatedocs [at] gmail.com -- please format the subject as "Tournament Name -- Round # -- Aff School AF vs Neg School NG". Example: "NDT -- Finals -- Georgia RS vs Kentucky BT". Please send in-tournament emails to lowelldebatedocs as well. For emails that are not chain requests, debnil.sur [at] gmail.com.
Lay Debate: If this is a setting that's predominantly lay (GGSA, CA State), I will judge as a parent, unless explicitly told by both teams that they'd like a circuit debate. I think lay-friendly debate is an immensely valuable dying art. At NSDA, given the sheer number of circuit judges and my background in both lay and circuit debate, I would recommend that you adapt to the rest of the panel, especially the most lay judge. I will understand what you are doing and evaluate accordingly. I will not penalize you for making the debate more accessible for all judges.
LD: The closer you are to policy, the better. I strongly lean aff on all theory in this activity and think the time constraints make negative conditionality incredibly difficult.
Above all, tech substantially outweighs truth. The below are preferences, not rules, and will easily be overturned by good debating. But, since nobody's a blank slate, treat the below as heuristics I use in thinking about debate. Incorporating some can explain my decision and help render one in your favor.
General Background: I learned to debate at Bellarmine in San Jose, where I consistently cleared at large national invitationals, including the TOC. I also did well at lay-friendly formats like NSDA and California state. I debated for a hot second at Stanford, but ended up directing my limited debate efforts into youth outreach.
I now work full-time in tech in San Francisco. I help the policy debate team at Lowell in my spare time; this is how give back to the community I live in and to one that shaped me. While I'm not a full-time debate person, I'm involved in the team's strategy and have a good sense of arguments read around the country.
Basically, I've seen a lot of debates between great teams, and I can comfortably judge any arguments.
Ideologically, I'd say I'm 55/45 leaning right. I think my voting records don't reflect this, because K debaters tend to see the bigger picture in clash rounds.
Topic Background: I've mostly done case-specific research this topic. I also judge 1-2 tournaments a month. As a result, I have a very good sense of national argumentative trends. Below are contingent predispositions about the topic.
- I know I've been voting aff a LOT. Don't worry, I still know how to judge. I think this is because of the low quality of negative offense.
- The T definitions are real bad. A winning 2NR on T on this topic needs to explain why that does not matter. 2NRs have not been doing this particularly well, so I've been voting aff on T a lot.
- I'm fine with this new "states can do everything" advantage counterplan meta, I get it on a topic without an agent. Reading solvency advocate cards in the block is fine, but the 1AR gets to actually answer them. I will be easy to convince that fully uncarded planks solve zero.
Voting Splits: As of halfway through the CJR topic, I've judged 184 rounds of VCX at invitationals over 7.5 years. I typically judged 2-3 tournaments a year while in college, or ~15 rounds per topic for ~75 rounds total. Since I became a “coach” on the immigration topic, I have judged 5 national circuit tournaments per topic (separate from 3 to 5 in-California local tournaments in our season), for a total of 109 rounds.
Below are my voting splits across the (synthetic) policy-K divide, where the left team represents the affirmative, as best as I could classify debates. Paradigm text can be inaccurate self-psychoanalysis, so I hope the data helps.
CJR Topic (through Blake)
Policy v. Policy - 6-10: 37.5% for the aff over 16 rounds
Policy v. K - 2-6: 25% for the aff over 8 rounds
K v. Policy - 6-4: 60% for the aff over 10 rounds
K v. K - 0-1: 100% for the neg over 1 round
Policy v. Policy - 42-39: 52% for the aff over 81 rounds
Policy v. K - 21-32: 40% for the aff over 53 rounds
K v. Policy - 19-21: 48% for the aff over 40 rounds
K v. K - 3-3: 50% for the aff over 6 rounds
Online Debate: I love that schools with limited budgets are getting more competitive opportunities. I also love that this activity is being preserved for students during this horrendous time period. I dislike everything else about online debate.
- Please slow down 10-20%. Your mic quality is not as good as in person. I also have to balance multiple open windows too (flow, speech doc, video), so my flowing is a bit slower.
- Please send analytics. I promise you the strategic benefit is outweighed by the loss of clash, and random Internet blips mean this really helps with continuity. I won't drop your points if you don't send them, but I'll up them +0.1 if you do.
- Please keep your camera on in the entire debate, unless you have Internet issues or really prefer not to. It really helps me follow the debate and flow, and helps your persuasive capacity. But I know this can be uncomfortable for a variety of reasons. Just let me know that you're not comfortable with it before the debate - no details needed - and it's all good, no questions asked.
**Note: If your camera's off and there's a lot of dead time on your end, I will likely check what you're doing and ask you to start your speech. I've had too many debates where camera-off debaters had inordinate amounts of dead time, and I really don't have patience for prep theft.
- Please get explicit visual or audio confirmation from everyone in the debate before beginning your speech. Do not ask "is anyone not good", because if someone just isn't there, then they can't say anything.
- If my camera is off, unless I explicitly have told you otherwise, assume I'm not at the computer. I will let you know if you should expect differently (i.e., I'm having Internet issues).
- If the current speaker has significant tech problems, I'll try to interrupt your speech and mark the last argument and timestamp.
- Tip: be mindful of your ethos! It's hard to control the room online, and being a speed demon doesn't translate as well over digital media. Strategic pauses, emphasizing tags and key words, and other persuasive speaking practices have disproportionately mattered for me in speaker points, framing the debate, and my ultimate decisions.
Thoughts on Specific Arguments
Framework: I almost exclusively went for framework against planless affs in high school; identity arguments really rose in the West Coast post-2013, so this was primarily against pomo arguments. I then proceeded to work with excellent debaters on either side of this ideological divide. I have a very even, slightly right-leaning voting record. I almost always vote for whoever resolves uniqueness to impact/impact turns and the relative precedence of these arguments. I'm better for switch-side, TVA, skills impacts than procedural impacts; I think the latter requires you to win defense to the aff in some form (of course, these can be defensive framings of the former). Fairness does not seem intrinsically good if the affirmative wins impact turns to the game.
K Affs: Totally down. Develop a couple pieces of key offense and explain thesis claims. Do line-by-line (or apply your overview to specific 2AC answers, in order) unless you're incredible at generating clash without it. If you aren't, your speaks will suffer, and I will likely resolve key points of clash for the negative. I do think you get a perm, because link debating is good, but I am a big fan of reading topic disads against K affs, or picking and choosing quotations of the 1AC as bases for various disadvantages/impact turns/etc.
Ks: I know something about almost all Ks in debate. Links to the plan are great, and if you don't have them, tell me how to weigh those against the plan and its consequences. I find that framework almost always decides these debates for me. I believe I'm more of an educator than policymaker, which means representational critiques or critiques of debate's educational incentive structure will land better for me than most judges. This is reflected by my voting record, which is about 60/40 neg, since most 1ARs don't handle the framework and K tricks well.
That being said, if the neg doesn't win framework, I'm quite aff leaning in a policy versus K debate. I'm a hard sell on sweeping ontological or metaphysical claims about society; I'll likely let the aff weigh the plan; I don't think the alt can fiat structures out of existence; and I think the alt needs to generate some solid uniqueness for the criticism. The neg will have to win some major turns case arguments and do great case debating/contextualization if framework is lost.
Theory: Conditionality is good. Counterplans competing on certainty or immediacy are bad. Other theory preferences are likely determined by the topic. If you have solid lit for your CP, I'll be very receptive to its theoretical legitimacy. Presumption goes to less change - debate what this means in round. Otherwise, it goes aff in the event of an advocacy.
Topicality: Before other theory. Precision typically decides the standards debate for me. I default to competing interps. Reasonability is a question of whether substance crowdout caused by topicality debates outweighs difference in interps. Please demonstrate solid knowledge of the topic (specific case lists, arguments being read around the country, etc) to go for this well.
Policy Stuff: Like everyone, I like it. I care more about link centered debate than impact, so focus on uniqueness and link framing over terrible turns case arguments. I don't think you need evidence to make an argument -- I think many bad advantages can be reduced to zero through smart analytics, and I shower debaters who do this with high speaker points. But, the better their evidence is, the more likely you'll need your own. While I like soft left affs, they need to contextualize generic framing contentions to specific negative arguments.
Speaker Points: I flow on my computer, but I do not use the speech doc. I want every word said, even in card text and especially in your 2NC topicality blocks, to be clear. I will shout clear twice in a speech, after that, your problem.
Note that this assessment is done per-tournament: for calibration, I think a 29.3-29.4 at a finals bid is roughly equivalent to a 28.8-28.9 at an octos bid.
29.5+ — the top speaker at the tournament.
29.3-29.4 — one of the five or ten best speakers at the tournament.
29.1-29.2 — one of the twenty best speakers at the tournament.
28.9-29 — a 75th percentile speaker at the tournament; with a winning record, would barely clear on points.
28.7-28.8 — a 50th percentile speaker at the tournament; with a winning record, would not clear on points.
28.3-28.6 — a 25th percentile speaker at the tournament.
28-28.2 — a 10th percentile speaker at the tournament.
Ethics: Cheating means you will get the lowest possible points. You need a recording to prove the other team is clipping. If you mark a card, say where you’re marking it, actually mark it, and offer a marked copy before CX in constructives or the other's team prep time in a rebuttal. Flashing and emailing isn’t prep, but don’t take forever.
If there is a different alleged ethics violation, I will ask the team alleging the violation if they want to stop the debate; let both teams offer a written defense of their practice; and then decide the violation based on said written defenses. I'll evaluate these per the NSDA rulebook, since non-clipping ethics norms are quite vague, and I can't find another coherent set of norms.
Debate is the greatest game I've ever played, and it also substantially changes your subjectivity and makes life-long friendships. Enjoy it!
Currently a coach for GMU, former debater at Liberty University, 7 years debating experience overall, NDT 2x, 2019 1st round, 2019 CEDA Top Speaker, and have judged all the tingz. After doing both policy and performance debate, I have learned that the most important thing for me is to create a space for myself and the arguments I want to read. Even though I think this is an educational and competitive activity that pays the bills (#schmoney), I still think it should be fun! That being said, my hope is that you will run what you are passionate about! If that's the Econ DA, Anti-blackness K, Fem K, or USFG, then let's get it! DO YOU BOO! This also means that yes debate is a game, but its full of real people and real consequences so we should keep that in mind as we play.
The above thoughts are still true, but thought it's probably time to update this thing in the case people actually read it. The biggest update is making sure y'all know that I want to be a puppet. I don't want to do more work than I have to, I don't want to have to read your evidence, I don't want to have to find pieces across the flow to make my decision, and I just don't want to intervene. So, please stop card dumping and just explain the warrants you have, please give me a clear ballot you want me to repeat back to you, and please talk about you really cool concepts in relation to the other team's arguments and not just as rants (even though they are really smart rants).
Now, that that's been said, I've found myself mostly in the back of the room of either KvK or clash debates, with the very rare appearance of a policy v policy round (minus novice and so my rant on theory doesn't apply to them), it may help to unpack my thoughts based on type of round.
K v K (jv/open):
There seems to be a lack of explanation burden for affs and alts recently. As a result, it normally ends up hurting the aff on presumption because the neg can kick the alt but the aff can't kick the aff. A few recommendations -
For the aff, make sure you know what your aff does and that you can explain the i/l to resolve your impacts. It really isn't enough to use words within your method to explain your method because it becomes circular logic very quickly. The second is to find ways to make it harder for the negative to kick out of the alt or have less burden to prove solvency than you do.
For the neg, take advantage if the aff has a lack of explanation. You should be pressing them to explain every impact in the aff even if they don't flag it as the big impact. I am very persuaded by presumption when its read offensively so make the aff do their job.
Other comments for k v k include the permutation debate. A lot of neg teams make the argument about no perms in a method debate and the only reason I am persuaded by that is 1ars never answer it and the 2ar answer is so new and lacks depth. As a result, aff's should probably have a better prepared answer and then I would be more open to your perm.
I vote on who wins the round which means one round I may vote on fmwk against a k aff, the next on the k aff. Each round is different so please, innovate! Even with the same argument, you should be searching for ways to re-articulate arguments. Seeing the same 1nc/2n/1nr read off same blocks is not a good look and this is speaking to both sides policy and k.
In these debates, I normally end up siding with tech over truth insofar as it has let me do the least amount of judge intervention. I want to be very clear about what I mean by this, truth normally requires me to read cards for people which if you're not explaining cards I don't want to do the work for you, which is why I say I tend to lean towards clash. I'm saying this to reassure K teams that tech > truth is not automatically a bad thing for you. Ultimately, the best debaters find a good balance between tech and truth, but again I'm a puppet so if you want me to lean a certain way, tell me to do so and why I should.
Policy v Policy (jv/open):
Again, I am rarely in these but the few I have been in tend to come down to the most random theory arguments and I have to be honest - condo is not bad. Whenever I hear condo read in front of me, it just feels like policy teams whining cause I'm like - this is literally the ground you want when you read fmwk, but now its abusive? 5 off is abusive? 3 off is abusive? I meaaaaan ... it just ain't clicking for me because its mostly teams who are absolutely losing other flows because the other team is better and theory is your hail mary. But that means I reward you for avoiding the fight? ok... That being said, people will continue to read condo and I get that - I don't want neg to read this and be like "bri says condo isn't bad in paradigm therfore I don't have to do a lot of work" - no. Please answer it accordingly. What I'm saying is I do not want to vote for condo so neg please don't create a world in which I end up voting for condo - close that door for the aff and I will forever appreciate you.
The only theory arg I find persuasive is perf con - because it means reading a k with something that contradicts makes you a fake radical. Do with that what you will.
End of update.
Now I know some debaters still like to worry about what the person in the back of the room thinks so I'll break down some key points.
-I used to say spreading is fine, but in the era of online debate, folks be more unclear than usual. Spread at your own risk because if you don't pace yourself, then it may not get on my flow.
-Explanation > reading more cards
-Organization is key. Even if the other team is messy, it puts you in a better position to clear things up for the judge so line by line can help
-I'm a very expressive person so look at my face cause my visual cues might help you out (and I oop...)
-More people should pref Tyler Wiseman.
-At the end of the debate, be sure to tell me why I should vote for you; if you don't, then you can't get big mad when I don't ... periodt
I love running the K and the moment I was able to get into critical literature in my debate career, I dived right in. That being said, two important conclusions: One, I understand the foundations of most literature bases so feel free to run them if that is the style of argumentation you prefer.
Two, I have a larger threshold for the K because I expect you to explain the link story and the alternative with warrants so don't assume that just because I know the theory means you don't have to put in the work for the ballot. Links should be contextualized to the aff - please don't restate your tags and author, but pull lines from 1ac/2ac. I would also warn against just running a K because you think I'm only a K debater. Again, DO YOU BOO! If your heart is in the K, go for it! If its not, don't force yourself.
I love performative links not personal attacks so if you are unsure what that line is, talk to your coaches or email me before you dive in. With performative links, just make sure to give a warranted analysis as to why I should vote on it and what the impact is.
Love them! I do prefer K aff's to be in the direction of the topic or make some attempt to include a discussion of the resolution, but if you are not, then at least give me a warranted explanation as to why you have chosen that route. For those that are in the topic of the resolution, have a clear impact and solvency story. Many times, debaters will get so caught up in the negative arguments that they lose sight of what is important...their aff! So make sure to keep a story line going throughout the entirety of the debate.
When you get into FMWk/T debates, be sure to extend and explain your counter-interpretation. What is your model and why is it good? That plus impact turns = a pretty easy ballot from me.
It's a strategy that is read against K aff's, it's a strategy I have won against, a strategy I have lost to, a strategy I have voted on and against. My personal outlook - debate is a game but it has real impacts that can help or harm certain individuals. While it is a competitive strategy, I do not think it is an excuse to not engage the affirmative because most of the time, your lack of engagement is what the aff will use to link turn the performance of reading fmwk (hint hint to K debaters reading this).
PSA - fairness is not an impact... at best, its an internal link to education. That being said, unless the aff has no justification for their aff, then you will have a 2% of getting my ballot by reading fairness. I find it most compelling when you prove in round abuse so be on the lookout and don't miss opportunities if you really down for that fairness life. I like the impact of education a lot more because it has better spill over claims. I also don't think you need a role of the ballot because I think fmwk is a counter RoB, but you should probably indicate that. Don't be shifty with your interp, but I believe a capable 2N will be able to accurately counter the 2AC shift and reframe the debate through the same interp in the 1nc. Please have a TVA! No, it does not need to solve the entirety of the aff because that is neg ground, but it should be able to solve the main impacts they go for. Lastly, defend your model of debate and explain why it would be better for the debate community writ large. If you are only focusing on the one round, then explain why that is better.
I don't have a preference meaning I am open to all types of CPs. What I do ask is that you have a net benefit and explain how your CP solves the aff. It's also nice if your CP is competitive...
I'm down for some good old throw downs on the DA flow, but make sure you have a clear and warranted link story and awesome impact calc for ya girl.
I think theory is procedural just make sure you explain very clearly and slowly what the violation is and why that matters...if you are going to go for theory, I expect the 2n or 2a to spend a good amount of time on it which means not just 30 sec or 1 min.
Policy Affs vs K:
Engage the K! Too many times policy teams just write over the K with their fmwk thinking that is the only work they have to do but it's just like debating a DA or CP. Do the link work and the more specific answers you have to the alt, the better position you are in. Don't just say Perm DB or Perm aff then alt, but really explain what that means and looks like in the world of the aff. I think you do need fmwk to get to weigh your aff but that is all the fmwk will get you which means don't forget to extend your aff and the impact story. A really good way to engage the K is to prove how the plan not only outweighs but resolves the specific impacts.
I think cross-ex is a really good place to assert your arguments and point out key flaws in the other team's arguments. This means you should take advantage of the time to really prove to me why the entire speech they just gave don't matter. While I think cross-ex is binding, you still have to bring it into a speech to explain why that moment was so important and the impact of it.
I debated for 3 years @ Washburn Rural
I debated for 4 years @ Emporia State (NDT '08)
I am the Director of Debate at Lawrence Free State HS (4th year at FS, 12th year as a head coach, 20th year in Policy Debate)
*Please add me to the email chain if one exists: firstname.lastname@example.org
I will do my best to answer any questions that you have before the debate.
-I don't care how fast you talk, but I do care how clear you talk. I'm unlikely to clear you but it will be obvious if I can't understand you because I won't be flowing and I communicate non-verbally probably more than most other judges. This is particularly relevant in online debate.
-I don't care what arguments you read, but I do care whether you are making arguments, responding to opposition arguments, and engaging in impact calculus (your arg v their arg, not just your arg) throughout the debate.
-I don't care what aff you read, if you defend a plan, or if you debate on the margins of the topic, but I do care if you have offensive justifications for your decisions, and if you solve.
-If you're reading generic link arguments or CP solvency cards - it will matter a great deal how well you can contextual that generic evidence to the specific affirmative plan.
-I think teams should be willing to go for theory more.
Some top level thoughts:
1) "New in the 2" is bad for debate. Barring an affirmative theoretical objection - I'll evaluate you arguments and not intervene despite my bias. But, if the other team makes an argument about it - I will disregard all new positions read in the negative block.
2) Neg ground on this topic is not very good. I'm sympathetic to the negative on theoretical objections of counterplans as a result.
3) If you're flowing the speech doc and not the speech itself you deserve to be conned in to answering arguments that were never made in the debate, and to lose to analytic arguments (theory and otherwise) that were made while you were busy staring at your screen.
4) People should assume their opponent's are winning some arguments in the last rebuttals. A decision to assume you're winning everything nearly guarantees that you are incorrect and minimizes the likelihood that you're doing relevant impact calculus. I really think "even-if" statements are valuable for final rebutalists.
-My speaker point scale has tended to be:
29+ - you should receive a speaker award in this division at this tournamnet
28.5+ - you should be in elimination debates at this tournament, and probably win one or more of those rounds
28 - you are competing for a spot to clear but still making errors that may prevent you from doing so. Average for the division/tournament.
27.5 - you are slightly below average for the division/tournament and need to spend some time on the fundamentals. Hopefully, I've outlined in my notes what those are.
27 - there were serious fundamental errors that need to be corrected.
Topicality- I really enjoy T debates, I think competing interpretations is probably true and find reasonability arguments to be uncompelling almost always. If you're not topical you should have an offensive reason that you're not. If you are topical then you should win why your vision of the resolution is superior to the negatives.
Critiques- K debaters tend to spend an extraordinary amount of time on their link arguments, but no time on explaining how the alternative resolves them. Affirmatives tend to concede K tricks too often.
Counterplans - I like smart, aff specific counter plans more than generic, topic type counter plans. I understand the need for questions CPs on this topic.
Critical affs - I'm fine with K affs and deployed them often as a debater. I find it difficult to evaluate k affs with poorly developed "role of the ballot" args. I find "topical version of the aff" to be compelling regularly, because affs concede this argument. I have been more on the "defend topical action" side of the framework debate in the last two years or so. I'm not sure why, but poorly executed affirmative offense seems to be the primary cause.
Virtual Debate Updates:
I am almost always using two computers so I can watch you speak and flow/look at docs. I would prefer that you debate with your camera on so that I can watch you speak, but PLEASE do feel free to turn it off if doing so stabilizes your audio.
Do NOT start at top speed. You should start a little slower anyway to allow judges to get acclimated to your speaking style, but I think this is especially important in virtual debate.
Do I understand why you don't want to flash theory/overviews/analytics? Of course. Do you have to do it? No. Will I be mad at you if you don't? Of course not. Would it help me flow better in many virtual debates? YES.
Do what you do and do it well. I will vote for who wins. Over-adaptation is exhausting and I can smell your soft-left add-ons a mile away. My voting record is a pretty clear indication that I judge a wide variety of debates. Who/what I coach(ed) are generally good indications of what I am about. Update: I've found myself recently in some seven off rounds. I really hate to say I am bad for any kind of debate, but I am bad for these rounds. Late-breaking debates make me tired and grumpy, and I find myself having to do way too much work in these debates to resolve them. If seven off is your thing, and I am your judge, do what you do I guess, but know this is probably the only explicit "don't pref me" in this whole paradigm.
I care a lot about quality of evidence. I would much rather hear you read a few well-warranted cards than a wave of under-highlighted evidence. Same goes for redundant evidence; if you need six cards that “prove” your claim with the same words interchanged in the tag, your claim is probably pretty weak. Evidence does not (alone) a (winning) argument make.
I think I flow pretty throughly. I often flow in direct quotes. I do this for me, but I feel like it helps teams understand my decision as we talk after a round. I reward organized speakers and meaningful overviews. I am easily frustrated by a messy card doc.
I listen closely to cross-ex.
Neg teams lose when they don’t demonstrate how their arguments interact with the 1AC. Winning that the affirmative is “flawed” or “problematic” does not guarantee a neg ballot. In my mind, there are two ways to win the k versus a policy aff: either win that the effects of the plan make the world significantly worse OR win framework and go for epistemology/ontology links. Know when framework is important and when it’s not. Give analysis as to how your links implicate the world of the aff. This is where case mitigation and offense on why voting affirmative is undesirable is helpful. These debates are significantly lacking in impact calculus. Also - the alt needs to solve the links, not the aff - but if it does, great! If you win framework, this burden is lessened. Don’t spread through link explanations. I am seeing more debates where teams kick the alt and go for the links as disads to the aff. This is fine, but be wary of this strategy when the alt is what provides uniqueness to the link debate.
Conversely, affs typically lose these debates when there is little press on what the alternative does and little analysis of perm functions. However, some teams focus on the alt too much and leave much to be desired on the link debate (especially important for soft-left affs). Defend your reps. Your framework shell should also include a robust defense of policymaking, not just procedural fairness. The 1AR should actually answer the block’s framework answers. More impact turning rather than defensive, no-link arguments.
Also, running to the middle will not save you. Some Ks are going to get a link no matter what, and tacking on a structural impact to your otherwise straight policy aff will likely only supercharge the link. So. Read the aff you'd read in front of anybody in front of me. You're probably better at that version anyway.
K Affs vs. FW
For affs: I’m good for these although I do think that oftentimes the method is very poorly explained. Neg teams should really press on this and even consider going for presumption. Side note: I absolutely do not think that critical affs should have to win that the ballot is key for their method. Against framework, I most frequently vote aff when the aff wins impact turns that outweigh the neg’s impacts and have a counter-interp that resolves the majority of their offense. I can still vote for you if you don’t have a counter-interp in the 2AR but only if the impact work is exceptional. I prefer affs that argue that the skills and methods produced under their model inculcate more ethical subjectivities than the negative’s. The best aff teams I’ve seen are good at contextualizing their arguments, framing, and justifying why their model and not their aff is uniquely good. I am most frequently preffed for K v K debates. Judge instruction is extremely important I would rather evaluate those rounds based on whose method is most relevant to the debate rather than k tricks.
For neg teams: I like to see framework deployed as debate methodologies that are normatively good versus debate methodologies that are undesirable and should be rejected. Framework debates should center on the impact of certain methodologies on the debate space. “Your argument doesn’t belong in debate” is not the same thing as “your argument is hindered by forum” or “your argument makes it functionally impossible to be negative.” (fun fact: I read a lot of judges' paradigms/preferences..."debate is a game" does not = debate is a good game, and participation in that "game" does not = can't say the game is bad). I prefer more deliberation & skills-based framework arguments rather than procedural fairness, but I will vote on either as long as you have warrants and comparative impact analysis. If going for skills & research impacts, the internal link debate is most important. TVAs are great as defense against the aff’s impact turns. They do not have to solve the aff but should address its central controversy.
I feel similarly about theory debates in that they should focus on good/undesirable pedagogical practices. Arguments that explain the role of the ballot should not be self-serving and completely inaccessible by a particular team.
Topicality is a voting issue and never a reverse voting issue. T debates are won and lost on the standards level. If the affirmative wins that their interpretation solves the impact of topicality, then I see no reason to vote negative. Thorough T debates are about more than fairness. The idea that you have no game on an aff in this era is just not as persuasive as the idea that the aff’s interpretation negatively impacts future debates.
No real issues here. Specific links to case obviously preferred to generic arguments. Give me good impact analysis. As a debater, counterplans weren’t really my jam. As a judge, I can’t say that I get to vote on CPs often because they are typically kicked or are not competitive enough to survive an affirmative team well-versed in permutations. A CP should be something to which I can give thoughtful consideration. Don’t blow through a really complicated (or long) CP text. Likewise, if the permutation(s) is intricate, slow down. Pretty sure you want me to get these arguments down as you read them, not as I reconstruct them in cross. I vote for theory as much as I don’t vote for theory. No real theoretical dispositions.
1. I’m not going to bump your speaks for thanking me and taking forever to start the round because you’re asking “opponent ready? judge ready? partner ready? observers ready?” for the first 20 minutes.
2. If you do not take notes during my RFD, I will leave.
3. Don’t clip. Why do debaters in Arkansas clip so much? Answer: Because I don’t judge very much in Arkansas.
4. Keep your own time.
Email: email@example.com – put me on the chain.
Last Updated: October 2021
Topic Knowledge: I have moderate familiarity with the core affs and neg positions on the water topic. I coach for Bellarmine, but have not yet judged any rounds on the topic.
- I would prefer that debaters keep their cameras on the whole debate. Online debate is depressing enough without staring at empty black boxes the entire time. However, I won’t enforce this or penalize you for choosing to keep it off.
- If my camera is off, assume that I'm away from my computer and don't start speaking.
- If a serious tech problem occurs (a debater cutting out mid-speech being the most likely example), I will attempt to interrupt your speech and mark the last argument I heard.
- Slow down a little. It is almost certainly more difficult to flow you online than in-person, even if you have the best microphone and Internet setup possible.
- Keeping track of prep in the chat is helpful.
Tech over truth – always. Debate how you want. The below paradigm reflects my ideological predispositions, and can be easily reversed by out-debating the other team. I will read evidence after the debate to resolve closely contested issues, so judge instruction is paramount.
An argument isn’t a complete argument – even if dropped – if I can’t explain the claim, warrant, and impact in the RFD. Additional warrants, evidence, or explanation are new and merit new responses accordingly.
I generally take a long time to decide. This usually does not reflect the closeness of the round.
I evaluate rounds in terms of relative risk. In practice, this means that I will almost certainly not care about generic impact calculus or "only our impact causes extinction" framing, absent those arguments being contextualized to the link scenario and overall risk of the DA or advantage. Impacts can be of greater or lesser magnitude, but that only implicates the starting risk of each scenario – a uniqueness take-out is still a uniqueness take-out regardless of whether the rest of the link chain accesses extinction or not. A “no link” argument worth 10% is as much mitigation as a “no impact” argument worth 10%. This also means I care less about impact turns case arguments than the average judge.
1. I tend to find defenses of resolutional stasis more persuasive than impact turns to topical debate.
2. Impacts to framework based on debate’s form (e.g. fairness, clash, limits) are more effective than impacts based on debate’s content (e.g. topic education, legal engagement).
3. The closer a K comes to disproving the desirability of the plan’s enactment, the better.
4. Winning ontology or any other broad theory that purports to describe how the world works will be an uphill battle.
5. If you have to ask whether your CP is competitive, it’s probably not. That being said, if the aff mishandles the competition debate, anything’s fair game.
6. Conditionality is good.
7. Utilitarianism is good. Impact framing oriented along alternative rubrics should focus on critiquing risk assessment, not how I conduct impact calculus.
8. I will default to kicking the CP, including individual planks, unless contested.
9. Zero risk probably isn’t a thing.
10. Author quals are important. I can be convinced to assign certain cards no more weight than a comparable analytic.
Framework: In general, my predisposition is that debate is better when affirmatives defend a topical plan. If you read a planless aff, you’re best off preffing me above the judges who will auto-vote neg on framework and below the judges who are truly agnostic. Relative uniqueness and impact comparison will determine a lot of these debates.
My primary bias is that I don’t believe procedural fairness is automatically a terminal impact. Defenses of fairness as an “intrinsic good” typically are explained as “it’s necessary to sustain the game,” which still begs the question of an external justification as to why that game is good.
I’ve noticed myself voting a lot on “we meet” against framework with critical affs that ambiguously defend a plan in the 1AC.
Aff teams should invest in one or two central impact turns to the negative’s model of debate, rather than overly relying on the counter-interpretation. Neg arguments about arbitrariness are persuasive against aff counter-interpretations that don't re-define words in the topic.
I find an immense amount of irony in policy teams that complain about long K overviews while simultaneously reading 3+ minute pre-written framework overviews of their own.
K’s: I have a passing familiarity with security, neolib, Foucault, Agamben, and legalism/necropolitics. You’ll need to robustly explain everything else. Aff teams commonly lose these debates by pursuing the defensive “perm/no link” route instead of defending their aff and leveraging salient impact turns. My general skepticism of alternatives to utilitarian cost-benefit analysis means “extinction outweighs” framing is extremely persuasive. If equally debated, I’m likely to conclude the aff gets to weigh their plan and the neg gets some access to discourse-based offense.
I’m skeptical of most metaphysical, ontological, or otherwise totalizing theories that attempt to explain how the world operates. I typically assign an extraordinarily high burden of proof to win these arguments, given reasonable pushback from the other team.
Detailed roadmaps (framework, perm, link debate, etc.) are often helpful in K debates. Long overviews are fine, but should not become a pretense to discard the line-by-line and 2AC structure.
K v K debates: I don’t expect I’ll be judging many of these. Judge instruction is paramount. I can go either way on whether planless affs get a permutation.
Topicality (against policy affs): Between two interpretations of relatively equal quality, I’m a fairly good judge for the neg in topicality debates. Evidence quality matters. Limits are desirable in the abstract; limits for the sake of limits aren’t. If your interpretation is clearly contrived nonsense, you’ll be facing an uphill battle persuading me that your model reasonably establishes contours for aff research.
As Ani puts it: “The articulation of reasonability that will persuade me is that the substance crowdout generated by T debates outweighs the difference between the two interps. Note that reasonability is about the interps, not the aff. It means the aff gets their interp comparison offense plus substance crowdout as bonus offense.”
I have no strong opinions about T-Enact, either as a competition or topicality argument.
DA’s: Obviously fine. A well-explained link story and solid spin can go a long way. Absent winning some terminal claim (“the bill already passed,” “this country factually doesn’t exist,” etc.), I’ve yet to see a speech that successfully mitigated something to zero risk. I care far more about link-centered debate than impact calculus divorced from the cumulative risk of the DA. Smart analytical defense is fine, but holds significantly more weight when tied to evidence.
I find long framing contentions unpersuasive usually because they fail to present a coherent alternative model for risk assessment. I classify impact framing into two types: risk assessment (how I evaluate the relative probability of an impact), and impact calculus (how I assess which impact outweighs what). In the abstract, it will difficult to get me to abandon my inclination towards utilitarian cost-benefit impact calculus. However, most critiques of util, when accompanied by meta-level instruction about how I should evaluate the debate, can be persuasively applied to change how I determine whether an impact is "probable" or "large."
I’m more down for the rider DA than most judges. Impact turns are always fun, but maintaining organization on the flow is crucial.
CP’s: Nuanced and in-depth counterplan competition debates are some of my favorite debates to judge. Evenly debated, I tend to err aff on competition questions. If the counterplan could theoretically fiat a possible manifestation of the plan, I view the counterplan as questionably competitive at best. However, many aff teams don't invest the requisite time and refutation in later rebuttals to sufficiently answer neg competition "tricks."
Debated equally, going for a perm > going for theory against largely plan-inclusive counterplans.
Offense-defense applies to the link to the net benefit. If the counterplan links less than either the aff or the perm, in the absence of a solvency deficit that outweighs the residual link differential I’m likely to vote neg because the counterplan is the least risky option. This presumption is by no means immutable if the affirmative invests in an alternative frame for risk evaluation.
I will default to kicking the CP if neither side brings it up. If equally debated, I’ll likely err negative on judge kick as the logical extension of conditionality.
Limited intrinsicness, backed by a non-regressive theoretical interpretation, is a vastly underutilized tool against many neg CP's. A model in which counterplans must be functionally and textually competitive justifies perms that are functionally or textually intrinsic, but not both.
Theory: I’m generally neg-leaning on conditionality and view all aff interpretations based on the number of advocacies as equally arbitrary.
Aff-leaning on consult, delay, con-con, and generic counterplans that compete off immediacy and certainty. I also think multi-actor (not multi-branch) counterplans are illegitimate. Ambivalent on international fiat. Anything other than conditionality is a reason to reject the argument, not the team.
Neg-leaning on PIC’s, QPQ, multi-plank CP’s, non-enforcement, states, and generic “topic” counterplans like ESR. 2NC CP’s are good in response to new 2AC offense. Agent CP’s are theoretically legitimate but questionably competitive.
That being said, don't drop theory arguments. The line-by-line overdetermines theory debates and I will mercilessly vote against you if you concede well-explained theory arguments backed by reasons rejecting the team is justified.
Speaker Points: I’ll adjust the scale on a per-tournament basis and attempt to remain consistent throughout the tournament.
29.5+ – top speaker.
29.3-29.4 – top 5-10 speaker.
29.1-29.2 – top 20 speaker.
28.8-29.0 – a 75th percentile speaker at the tournament; should break.
28.6-28.7 – a 50th percentile speaker at the tournament.
28.4-28.5 – a 25th percentile speaker at the tournament.
28.0-28.3 – a 10th percentile speaker at the tournament.
I will type “clear” into the chat once and then verbally say it twice – after that, I will stop flowing.
I won’t actively call out clipping; the other team needs a recording to prove it. I won’t declare an auto-loss if one team alleges a clipping violation and I conclude otherwise. NDCA guidelines apply: “clipping has occurred when a debater represents they have read five words or more that they did not read in any speech.”
The ballot is yours. Speaker points are mine. Ask for 30’s and you just might receive 24’s.
Other Thoughts: With the exception of obvious or deliberate racial or homophobic slurs, in most instances I view rejecting the team as an inappropriate remedy for accidentally misgendering or using potentially problematic language. Obviously this can change for repeat offenses or a refusal to offer an apology.
Numbering arguments is good and will be rewarded with speaker points.
Probably more receptive to new(ish) 1AR arguments than most.
I’m a very expressive judge. If this bothers you, just let me know before the round.
Absent in-round contestation, I'll accept inserted re-highlightings to deter poor evidentiary practices, provided that the re-highlighting actually comes from the card your opponent read in the debate. If it comes three paragraphs later, you actually have to read the part where the author concludes the other way. I will treat this as the equivalent of an evidence indict with added context. You have to actually explain how the re-highlightings implicate the round; don't insert 10 different cards and expect me to sort through the tags later. This only applies if you are indicting the other team's evidence; if you're using the card to advance some extrinsic argument, you need to actually read it.
I will never vote on an argument that relies upon non-falsifiable things that may have occurred outside the round in front of me.
If your computer freezes or crashes in the middle of the speech, don’t worry about it – just pause the timer and wait for it to restart. Similarly, flashing isn’t prep, but if you take forever and are obviously stealing prep I’ll dock your speaks.
4 years in Kansas in high school, 4 years at Baylor University, now a grad student and coach at KU and Barstow.
Add me to the email chain please: firstname.lastname@example.org
Do what you do best, I think it is the burden of the judge to adapt to what the debaters want to do and will do my best to be unbiased when evaluating arguments.
Judge instruction/telling me how to write my ballot is really important, points will be higher and you'll be more likely to win if you put the pieces together in the 2NR/2AR, are actually honest about the parts of the debate you're winning and losing, make even if statements, etc.
I lean truth on truth vs tech questions, especially in instances of dropped args. I try to be conscious of this, but it will be helpful for you to contextualize the importance of dropped args as well as preempt potential applications of other arguments to answer it. Basically, you need warrants still.
It is really difficult for me to process what you're saying if you're talking at the same time as someone else, ex. in CX or if prompting your partner. This is especially true in the world of online debate. Try utilizing other forms of communication with your partner if at all possible.
I think you should probably have to read re-highlighted ev, not just insert it. Open to persuasion but debates where both teams are inserting re-highlightings without analysis or explanation are negative persuasive to me.
**9/19/21 addition** I am generally open to whatever arguments you want to run, with the obvious caveat being things that are racist, sexist, violent, etc are unacceptable and auto-losses. The other exception is wipeout. I am fine with the more critical arguments about death, such as Gillespie, but I am not particularly willing to listen to or vote on suffering outweighs any potential for pleasure/we are primed to be afraid afraid of death but should die anyway.
Don't start prep time until both teams are on the call/Discord channel/etc. with their partner. If you're with your partner in person and the other team is not that means prep doesn't start until they confirm they're in communication with each other.
Just like in person debate, you absolutely should not record anything other than your own speeches without explicit permission from every person on the video/recording.
If anyone's internet cuts out/anyone has a tech issue, I will pause speech time and note the last argument the speaker made prior to the issue. I'll also unmute myself and tell the speaker to pause if they haven't already.
Tech issues will not affect speaker points, but you also need to likely slow down just a little and be more clear than you would be in person.
PLEASE make sure either you or your partner can hear the judge(s) and other team if they say something during your speech, we have to be able to tell you to pause if someone's internet has cut out.
2ACs should usually make multiple theory arguments, I will vote on it if you win it.
Slow down some. Impact it out in the 2NR. Don't forget to explain what winning competing interps or reasonability actually means for you.
DAs and CPs
I don't do a lot of topic research, so it'll be helpful for both of us if you do a little more explanation on topic specific things like link stories/solvency mechanisms/etc.
Good analytics can definitely beat a crappy DA. Floor time links on politics make me sad. I like cheating CPs.
Explain why winning framework matters for you and how you still win the debate even if you lose framework.
I don’t think you need an alt to win but a well-explained one will make it much easier to do so.
2ACs should explicitly answer each of the link arguments even if it's just by explaining that it's a link to the status quo, a block that can impact out a dropped link argument well is likely to get my ballot as long as they are somewhat ahead on the framework or impact framing debate.
Good. I do think it is possible to vote neg on presumption, so specific analysis about aff solvency or method is important. I find myself voting overwhelmingly aff in debates where the negative concedes the aff in the 2NR, so I strongly recommend extending your best 1 or 2 case arguments regardless of what else you're going for.
For the neg: 1) You need to answer the case – their theory is wrong, reform is possible, etc. A 2NR that has no way to cut back the aff’s ability to impact turn fairness or topic education is in a rough spot. Presumption can be a good arg. 2) I default to fairness is not an impact but is an internal link to debatability, clash, topic education, etc. This doesn’t mean don’t go for it as an impact, just that you need a warrant. 3) Framework is about the model of debate the aff justifies, it’s not an argument why K affs are bad. If you’re going for framework as a way to exclude entire critical lit bases/structural inequalities/content areas from debate then we are not going to get along.
For the aff: 1) You need a counter interp or counter model of debate, it's really helpful if you can explain what debate looks like under this model. 2) I am not a huge fan of the 2AC strategy of saying as many disads to framework as possible without explaining or warranting any of them out. 3) Leverage your aff as an impact turn to framework. The more effectively voting aff can resolve the impact turn, the easier it will be to get my ballot.
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.
Email me if you have questions and please put me on the chain: dylan.willett8 at gmail dot com as well as firstname.lastname@example.org. I coach for the Asian Debate League. I debated for UMKC. In college, I mostly went for framework, topic DAs, and an assortment of topic critiques. As a coach I mostly have spent the last year working on core counterplans and politics DAs, but have spent a lot of time working with critical approaches to the topic as well.
*I am in Taiwan which is at minimum 13 hours ahead of the tournament I am judging so make sure to start off at a pace where I can adapt to your speed and speed up progressively through the speech because I might begin the debate a bit groggy. I give the rounds I judge my all and will be focused on your debate, but these are some strategies to make that easier for me. Another good thing to do to keep me awake and lively (I will be trying to do this myself of course but every bit helps) is to keep the debate interesting. Play to your strengths, make jokes (there are plenty of jokes to be had on the water topic and I give props for effort), have fun, be aggressive, all that stuff. While every judge will rave about how they just vote off of the flow and all judges including myself work really hard to do that, it is impossible for us to detach ourselves from persuasion on some level. The energy you give the debate is relevant. Sounding like you are winning, enjoying yourself, etc adds an intangible element to your arguments. This is something I have learned a lot over the last year, especially when judging debates online at 4am Taiwan time.*
Be bold, read something new, it will be rewarded if you do it well. Analysis of evidence is important. I have found that over the past few years I have grown my appreciation for more of the policy side of research not in an ideological lean, but rather I am more interested in process counterplans, clever disadvantages, and other arguments that I used to never engage with. If you have good cards, I am more willing to reward that research and if you do something new, I will definitely be happy.
I begin my decisions by attempting to identify what the most important arguments are, who won them, and how they implicate the rest of the debate. The more judge instruction, including dictating where I should begin my decision by showing me what is most important will help determine the lens of how I read the rest of the arguments
I find that I am really annoyed by how frequently teams are asking major flow clarifications like sending a new file that removes the evidence that was skipped. Please just flow, if there is an actual issue that warrants a question its obviously ok, but in most situations it comes across as not paying attention to the speeches which is a bit frustrating.
I like good, strategic cross-ex. If you pay attention and prepare for your cx, it pays dividens in points and ballots. Have a plan. Separate yourself and your arguments here!
I am a big fan of case debates that consist of a lot of offense – impact turns or link turns are always better than just pulling from an impact d file.
I think that I mostly lean negative on theory arguments – I would be really sad if I had to parse through a huge theory debate like condo, but am willing. I think I start from a predisposition that condo, PICs, etc are okay, and change based off the theory debate as it develops. I think theory is an important part of an affirmative strategy versus good, and especially cheaty, counterplans. I don't think education is a super persuasive argument in theory debates I have found. Way easier to go for some type of fairness argument and compare internal links versus going for some abstract notion about how conditionality benefits or hurts "advocacy skills".
In framework debates, the best teams spend a lot of their speeches on these flows answering the nuanced developments of their opponents. AFF or NEG teams that just say a different wording of their original offense in each speech are setting themselves up to lose. I am interested in hearing what debates would look like under each model. I like education arguments that are contextual to the topic and clever TVAs and impact turns are good ways to get my ballot while making the debate less stale. I find the framework teams that lose my ballot most are those that refuse to turn (on the link level or impact level, in appropriate manner) AFF offense. I find the K AFF teams that lose my ballot most are those that don't double down on their offense and explain how the NEGs impacts fit in your depiction of how debate operates.
Ks, DAs, CPs, T, FW, etc are all fine to read and impact turn – as long as I am judging a round where there is some attention to strategy and arguments are being developed, I will be happy. Definitely willing to vote on zero risk of a link.