West Point Debate Tournament
2022 — West Point, NY/US
Policy Paradigm ListAll Paradigms: Show Hide
Major Joseph Amoroso is an Instructor of American Politics in the Department of Social Sciences at the United States Military Academy at West Point. His research focuses on American political behavior and civil-military relations, specifically studying how military experience influences participation in electoral politics.
Underwent USMA policy debate training and understands the parameters of the activity. Leans towards practical impacts and clear analysis in the final rebuttals. Debaters should weigh their impacts and explain why the arguments they believe they are winning means why they should win the round.
Debated: Norman High School (2005- 2009), University of Oklahoma (2009-2014)
Coached: University of Texas at San Antonio (2014-2015)
Caddo Magnet High School (2014-2015)
Baylor University (2015-2017)
University of Iowa (2017-2022
Assistant Director of Debate at James Madison University Aug. 2022-present
Updates- Feb 2023
Think of my paradigm as a set of suggestions for packaging or a request for extra explanation on certain arguments.
Despite the trend of judges unabashedly declaring themselves bad for certain arguments or predetermining the absolute win condition for arguments, I depart from this and will evaluate the debate in front of me.
Judge instruction, judge instruction, judge instruction!
Sometimes when we are deep in a literature base, we auto apply a certain lens to view the debate, but that lens is not automatic for the judge. Don’t assume that I will fill things in for you or presume that I automatically default to a certain impact framing, do that work!
Argument framing is your friend.
“If I win this, then this.”
Even if we lose ontology, here is why we can still win.” This is important for both debating the K and going for the K.
Zoom debate things:
Don’t start until you see my face, I will always have my camera on when you’re speaking!
Clarity over speed, please- listening to debates over zoom is difficult, start out more slowly and then pick up pace, but don’t sacrifice clarify for speed.
Ethics violations-Calling an ethics violation is a flag on the play and the debate stops. Please, please do not call an ethics violation unless you want to stop the debate.
Top level thoughts: I am not too biased against any particular argument, it's your round so do what you do, but do it well.
I did however primarily read kritiks, but I have also done strictly policy debate in my career, so I have been exposed to a wide variety of arguments and I am not someone who will always vote for the k or for FW. I like to think that I am a favorable judge for either.
I judge the debate in front of me and avoid judge intervention as much as possible. In this sense, I am more guided by tech because I don't think you can determine the truth of any debate within the time constraints. HOWEVER, I think you can use the truth to make more persuasive arguments- for example, you can have one really good argument supported by evidence that you're making compelling bc of its truthiness that could be more convincing or compelling than 3 cards that are meh.
I judge a good number of T v. K aff debates and am comfortable doing so.
Sometimes these debates are overly scripted and people just blow through their blocks at top speed, so I think it's important to take moments to provide moments of emphasis and major framing arguments. Do not go for everything in the 2NR, there is not enough time to fully develop your argument and answer theirs. Clearly identify what impact you are going for.
Internal link turns by the negative help to mitigate the impact turn arguments. Example- debating about AI is key to create AI that does not re-create racial bias. TVA can help here as well!
The definitions components of these debates are underutilized- for example, if the aff has a counter interp of AI, have that debate. Why is their interp bad and exacerbate the limits or ground issues? I feel like this this gives you stronger inroads to your impact arguments and provides defense to the aff's impact turns.
K aff's- It is way less compelling to go for impact turns without going for the aff and how they resolve the impact turns. You cannot just win that framework is bad. It is more strategic for the aff to defend a particular model of debate, not just a K of current debate.
Updated- It’s important to find balance between theoretical explanations, debate-ification of arguments, and judge instruction. More specifically- if you have a complex theory that you need to win to win the debate, you HAVE to spend time here. Err towards more simple explanation as opposed to overly convoluted.
Think about word efficiency and judge instruction for those theoretical arguments.
Although, I am familiar with some kritiks, I do not pretend to be an expert on all. There are still many kritiks that I have trouble understanding. That being said, I think that case specific links are the best. Generic links are not as compelling especially if you are flagging certain cards for me to call for at the end of the round. It seems that many times debaters don't take the time to really explain what the alternative is like, whether it solves part of the aff, is purely rejection, etc. If for some reason the alternative isn't extended or explained in the 2nr, I won't just apply it as a case turn for you. An impact level debate is also still important even if the K excludes the evaluation of specific impacts. It is really helpful to articulate how the K turns the case as well. On a framing level, do not just assume that I will believe that the truth claims of the affirmative are false, there needs to be in-depth analysis for why I should dismiss parts of the aff preferably with evidence to back it up.
The 2NR should CLEARLY identify if they are going for the alternative. If you are not, you need to be explicit about why you don't need the alt to win the debate. This means clear framework and impact framing arguments + turns case arguments. You need to explain why the links are sufficient turns case arguments for me to vote negative on presumption.
CPs- I really like counterplans especially if they are specific to the aff, which shows that you have done your research. Although PIKs are annoying to deal with if you are aff, I enjoy a witty PIK. However, make it clear that it is a PIK and explain why it solves the aff better or sufficiently. Explain sufficiency framing in the context of the debate you're having, don't just blurt out "view the cp through the lens of sufficiency"--that's not a complete argument.
Generic cps with generic solvency cards aren't really going to do it for me. However, if the evidence is good then I am more likely to believe you when you claim aff solvency. There needs to be a good articulation for why the aff links to the net benefit and good answers to cp solvency deficits, assuming there are any. Permutation debate needs to be hashed out on both sides, with Da/net benefits to the permutations made clear.
DAs- I find it pretty easy to follow DAs. However, if you go for it I am most likely going to be reading ev after the round, so it better be good. If your link cards are generic and outdated and the aff is better in that department, then you need to have a good reason why your evidence is more qualified, etc.
Make the story of the DA AND your scenario clear, DAs are great but some teams tend to go for a terminal impact without explanation of the scenario or the internal link args. Comparative analysis is important so I know how to evaluate the evidence that I am reading. Tell me why the link o/w the link turn etc. Impact analysis is very important, timeframe, probability, magnitude, etc., so I can know why the Da impacts are more important than the affs impacts. A good articulation of why the Da turns each advantage is extremely helpful because the 2ar will most likely be going for those impacts in the 2ar.
Theory- I generally err neg on theory unless there is a really good debate over it. Your generic blocks aren't going to be very compelling. If you articulate why condo causes a double turn, etc. specific to the round is a better way to go with it. I think that arguments such as vague alternatives especially when an alternative morphs during the round are good. However, minor theory concerns such as multiple perms bad aren't as legitimate in my opinion.
Other notes: If you are unclear, I can't flow you and I don't get the evidence as you read it, so clarity over speed is always preferable.
Don't be rude, your points will suffer. There is a difference between being aggressive and being a jerk.
Impact calc please, don't make me call for everyones impacts and force me to evaluate it myself. I don't want to do the work for you.
The last two rebuttals should be writing my ballot, tell me how I vote and why. Don't get too bogged down to give a big picture evaluation.
Accomplish something in your cross-x time, keep me interested, have an agenda during your cx and use the answers you get in cx and incorporate them into your speeches. Cx is wasted if you pick apart the DA but don't talk about it in your speech.
Ok. After a sememster, seen enough rounds of LP to update this now. Add me to the email chain. NYU's network is slow so I won't look until after the rd and also still thinkis it worsens judges flows to be reliant on the doc. Still flowing on paper.
Conduct: Be organized, Be ready. Be considerate. Stop stealing prep time. It’s a nasty habit. You are taking time from my life that I will never get back. Shorter, decision time limits mandate better time management on your part as well. Ethics challenges are ALWAYS a voting issue. Out of the loop on how that even became a question and REALLY don't care.
General Approach: Debaters work hard so I will make every effort to be very thoughtful and conscientious as your judge. Whatever decision allows me to inject myself the least into the interpretations of issues in the round is the one I will attempt to make. Did a ton of topic research and still surprised about the directions of many affs so best advice -- you do you.
Making My Decision: Compare positions, ev and tell a story in the last rebuttal that frames the round the way you wish me to decide it. I’ll vote where you tell me if it's coherent. If you have multiple stories, prioritize them. Don't rely on my post-round reconstruction. If you only spend 10 seconds on a key point in your last rebuttal, don't expect me to spend much more than that evaluating it in my decision. Most rounds come down to impact assessment and warrant comparisons.
Tech vs. Prep - I have sympathy for unexpected tech issues but not poor preparation that delays the tournament & wastes everyone's time. If you're debating online: a) Check your tech between rds for charge etc. b) Have a back-up (phone, tablet, etc.) in case your laptop malfunctions mid-speech. c) Get verbal or visual confirmation everyone is back and ready before starting ALL your speeches d) don't record people without permission e) slow down 10-20% because it's hard to hear/decipher stuff online f) figure out how you two will communicate during prep whether it's discord, facetime, or by cell.
Tech vs. Truth Tech over truth is an inflection point not a value system. My voting record reflects a tech leaning but that's more reflective of how truth is framed in the 2AR vs. my role to protect the neg. Application of either really comes down to the skills and execution of the particular debaters.
EVIDENCE - Card docs are helpful in open. Less so in jv and I only ask for specific cards if at all in novice. An author’s name is not an argument. Don’t confuse the two. Provide warrants for why your ev is better than theirs. Recuts of opponents' ev need to be read in round not just inserted into the doc to be assessed on my flow.
The Aff: Do what you want in terms of policy, K or performance. I'm game. Set up how to evaluate your approach to affirmation prior to the 2AR so there is some level of predictability and discussion for the neg. There need to be advantages to that approach (i.e. EXTERNAL -- why is it or is it not productive? or INTERNAL -- what does it communicate or provide you with in the debate space of importance?) the same as with substantive arguments. If you are performing, make sure that the role of the ballot is articulated and extended and not a 2AR surprise. You will get better points. My evaluation will come down to offense on the FWK flow based on impacts identified by the debaters unless it's one of those rare rounds where the neg has a tight, specific strat. Speaking of....
The Neg: Have a clever, tight strategy. Don’t whine. If you want to defend your right to a politics link or a certain interp, go for it. Presumption matters and is underutilized.
TOPICALITY/FWK: I’ll vote on T/FW if you win the relevant internal/external impacts in the debate. T - Subsets debate have suffered from a lack of nuance on both sides. Pulled the trigger more than once but would prefer real discourse when possible. All animals vs. one Malayan horned frog (Yes, that's real. Look it up!) both seem like pointless extremes. All subsets aren't created equal, in terms of lit base, and what they would allow future affs to do. I'd rather you read another DA if we can't get better at this debate.
DA Country faces some interesting decisions that will manifest after this week's election. That impacts your internal link stories. JMU's selective bi-part card from last year is still true. Think before you read. Providing reasons why the DA turns case are always a good idea.
CPs Smart CPs always add to your strategy. If you read CPs with lots of conditional planks or more than 3 conditional advocacies in a rd, I'm not the right judge for you. Do feel free to take advantage of teams that read & react without studying your CP text carefully. Also, can a brother get some solvency ev with that CP text? Sympathetic to "1AR gets new answers" vs CPs with no 1NC solvency. Remember, this is a legal topic. Courts, executive agencies & state legislatures have different powers from Congress that impact wording, function and execution. I'll listen and weigh solvency deficits if the AFF is correct on function. I don't judge kick without specific instruction to do so.
K AFF/NEG: For teams that generate links from messed-up, in-round behaviors or focus on the debate space-No changes. If teams defend external claims and impacts, winning anti-blackness is a superstructure or capitalist gov't solutions have failed on-balance is necessary but not sufficient as it was in the past. Quality examples are more essential and more available including images of unjust black death, galvanized micro-political movements resisting capitalism, racial injustice, colonialism, and militarism in over 80 countries as well as government crackdowns plus counter-movements like expanded militia activity and events like the DC insurrection. More recently, we're encountering baby steps of corporate accountability, record increases in bias attacks, the first whole-of-government anti-oppression audit in history [including specific mention of anti-blackness] passage of 112+ voter suppression laws, and the gutting of Roe v Wade. Your arsenal needs solid answers to scalability, empirical solvency, and why gov't action will not inevitably be needed. Include good reasons why the K turns case.
Pet Peeves that lower points: 1--DON’T CURSE EXCESSIVELY in your speeches. If someone slips up but is making an earnest effort, no problem. Don't hae a bright line for you but if you need to ask, you're probably excessive. Community norms have forced me to exempt external sources with curses (films, music, poetry. etc) and advocacy statements. 2--DON'T BE SLOPPY WITH SOURCES Ex. You say “Read the Jones 10 ev after the round!” I read it and it sucks. In the post-round, it becomes “I meant to say Roberts, not Jones,” or “There were three pieces of Jones ev I meant the 1AR card.” That's a "you" problem. Effective communication good.
I debated in the Chicago Urban Debate League for Whitney Young HS from 1998-2001 and for the United States Naval Academy from 2002-2005. I think I may have judged a round or two about 10 years ago, but have otherwise been out of debate since 2005. I am still in the Navy and have a technical background in flight test. The West Point Tournament is my first time judging on this topic so do not assume I am familiar with any of the topic area language. You may also assume that I’m a bit rusty on typical debate lingo though I can get back up to speed on this fairly quickly.
Please add me to your doc thread: firstname.lastname@example.org. This is mostly for me to familiarize myself with the topic, not because I’m looking at it during a round.
In no particular order, here are my thoughts on a few things:
1. Respect - Treat everyone in the room with respect and as if they are intelligent human beings. The round will be personal insult free – debate your opponent’s arguments, not their person.
2. Novice note – One of the biggest problems that occurs in Novice debates is a lack of clash. Do not just read a lot of cards or a block expecting them to directly answer your opponent’s arguments. This holds especially true as a round progresses and blocks are no longer round specific. You’ll win by making good arguments which directly refute your opponent. You don’t want me guessing or interpreting evidence on my own at the end of the round, it may not end up in your favor.
3. Kritiks/Performance/Ks of debate – I debated in ADA District 7 which should speak for itself. This means I’m a lot more familiar with policy heavy debates. This doesn’t mean I won’t vote for your position, but expect to slow down a little and have to explain it clearly to me. I believe debate is one of the best educational activities there is and a good philosophical/critical thinking/framework debate can achieve that purpose, but the further you stray from a traditional policy debate, the easier it will be for an opponent to win a fairness/right forum arg. Give me something solid to vote for, not something nebulous.
4. Topicality – I will vote on this first, unless told otherwise. However, the neg has to win whatever fairness/ground debate is had. If the aff is reasonably topical, then the neg has to gain more ground to win. Of course I say this with zero topic experience.
5. Disadvantages – Have good links and internal links. Perform a risk calculus at the end of the round. I may not always vote for extinction/nuclear war if the risk of it occurring is small versus a higher likelihood of something less than extinction.
6. Counterplans – I’ll vote for them. The more unique they are from the aff’s plan, the better.
7. Flowing – I flow on paper. Make it easy for me to flow. Roadmaps and signposting are awesome. I don’t plan to read any evidence unless it becomes contentious or critical for round evaluation. At that point I’m reading it after the round.
8. Clarity – Be clear. I probably won’t ask you to be clearer if I can’t understand you. If I don’t understand what you’re saying, I can’t evaluate it.
9. 2NR/2AR – Make it clear to me what I should be voting for and why. Don’t just regurgitate previous arguments without telling me why yours is better. Your final strategy should be consistent with itself and not contradictory.
Four years policy debate at GMU
Yes I want to be on the chain - Email: email@example.com
- PLEASE treat everyone in the room with respect, especially your opponents
- I flow straight down, it's in your best interest to keep it as organized as possible
- More familiar with policy args, but have and will vote for critical args
- Inserting re-highlighting is good if you are pointing out specific context that is left out and in small doses, not if you are essentially making a new card out of it
- These are my general thoughts but things can obviously change on a debate by debate basis depending on how the round goes
Notes for Online Debate:
- Please be conscientious of speed and clarity. I never will negatively impact your speaks because of mic issues but I can only vote on what I hear.
- If my camera is off assume I am not there.
Policy v Policy
- I will look through the evidence so a card doc would be useful; however, good evidence shouldn't be a substitute for poor explanation.
- Please make sure to extend full arguments. If you just say there is "no impact to US-China war" in the 1ar with no explanation for why, I will not vote for it in the 2ar even if dropped in the 2nr. That is just a phrase not an argument.
- Limits/ground is the impact I find most persuasive. It will take more work to go for precision or other impacts but I can be swayed
- I tend to err on competing interpretation but actually can be persuaded by reasonability IF explained properly
Condo - tend to be neg leaning though more than three starts to push it. More open to condo args if the CP's are particularly abusive or if they've read multiple with no solvency advocates
PICs - I'm fine with PICs out of specific portions the aff defends. Not the judge for word PICs (unless they say something absolutely egregious in their plan text)
No solvency advocate CPs - I probably don't think this is a reason to reject the team, but I will likely be annoyed and lower speaks if you don't have one. Exceptions if you're against new affs or it is a very niche CP to answer a specific impact.
Other theory - 99 out of 100 times, if it's not condo, it's a reason to reject the arg. You need a clear reason why they skewed the round to get me to drop them even if it is dropped. Having said that, if you win that a CP is illegitimate you're probably in a good spot anyways.
Top Level: I've found myself judging more of these debates than I expected so I want to update this portion of my paradigm. I tend to have a higher threshold for 2ar re-articulation of arguments than most judges so I find myself voting neg more often in these debates than other rounds I judge.
Policy aff v the K:
- I tend to err aff on the f/w portion of the debate. Weigh the aff vs the alt, key to fairness, etc. are all args I tend to find more persuasive. Impact framing is the portion of the debate you should focus on. Make sure you're answering all the nuances of the util v structural violence (or any other framing) debate
- Be careful with the link debate. Even if you win that your case outweighs the neg can still win a link turns case arg that can make it tough for you to get my ballot.
K's v Policy Affs:
- Impact framing will essential. You will have a hard time persuading me that I should just reject the aff for some reason, but can definitely persuade me that your impact outweighs/is more crucial to discuss in the debate space.
- Specificity of the link is going to be important. Generic state bad links aren't going to be as persuasive as links to the specific action of the plan.
- Simplify the debate. Don't spread yourself too thin, try and pick just one link for the 2NR (unless two are very poorly answered but I'd cap it there) and really impact it out.
- I find embedded turns case args on the link debate very persuasive if it is a specific link to the aff.
- Clarity on the alt will be important. This is an area of the debate that I feel like gets under-explained throughout the debate. I like some explanation of what your alt materially looks like and how it resolves the link.
F/W v K affs:
- Fairness can be an impact, but I generally find the way teams explain it is more of an internal link to education (a pretty good one at that).
- When the aff is reasonably in the direction of the topic - I tend to place a lot of weight on the TVA and need explanation of lost ground and why the ground you lost is good.
- When the aff is blatantly anti-topical or an aff that is meant to be a personal strategy, go for clash good. I don't believe you need a TVA in this instance (or should extend one) as long as you have a good reason why the discussions that happen under your model of debate are good.
K affs v F/W:
- The easiest way to get my ballot is if you win your impact and win the "limits/clash means they can't access the aff's benefits even if it is theoretically good" arg you are in a very good place so long as you don't royally mess up the TVA debate or SSD. Having said that: I am open to other strategies, do your thing, but just understand that I will need more explanation than your typical judge.
- We meet probably not ideal unless the neg messed up the interp.
- If you are an aff that is in the direction of the topic, counter-definitions should be your friend.
- If your aff is outside the scope of being able to do so, you need to impact turn their model of debate. I am not gonna be persuaded by a counter-interp that was clearly designed to include your aff. Obviously extend your interpretation, but don't use it to try and mitigate their offense.
- Things to avoid: I do not find blanket stating "k debate is predictable" persuasive. Give me a reason why your specific aff is predictable for the negative to debate if you want to go that route.
K v K
I will not be as knowledgeable in K literature as either team is going to be. The best thing you could do to get my ballot is to make the debate simple. I may not be familiar with a lot of your terminology - and I am not going to vote on something I do not understand - so you may benefit by clearly explaining certain terms or at least having evidence that is clearly highlighted to define abstract terms/concepts.
Impact framing/explanation is going to be key in these rounds.
-yes email chain: firstname.lastname@example.org
-if you would like to contact me about something else, the best way to reach me is: email@example.com - please do not use this email for chains I would like to avoid cluttering it every weekend which is why I have a separate one for them
-debated in high school @ Mill Valley and college @ NYU for 7 years total - mostly policy arguments in high school, mix of high theory and policy in college
-head LD/policy debate coach at Bronx Science and assistant policy coach at The New School, former assistant for Blue Valley West, Mill Valley, and Mamaroneck
-spin > evidence quality, unless the evidence is completely inconsistent with the spin
-tech > truth as long as the tech has a claim, warrant, and impact
-great for impact turns
-fairness is more of an internal link or impact filter than an impact itself
-don't like to judge kick but if you give me reasons to I might
-personally think condo has gone way too far in recent years and more people should go for it, but I don't presume anything for theory questions
-most of the rounds I judge are clash debates, but I've been in policy v policy and k v k both as a debater and judge so I'm down for anything
-apparently, I take a long time with my decisions - often I go all the way to the decision time - this does not say anything about the debate, I am just trying to give the best feedback possible, so don't read into it
-I'm a masters student studying the history of 20th-century French social thought - aside from that debate is basically all I do and I don't have a lot of other hobbies - I listen to audiobooks and read in transit, occasionally play some video games - between coaching both high school and college I am at debate tournaments nearly every weekend of the season - I find myself incredibly lucky that I get to spend most of my time thinking about history, philosophy, theory, policy, and ideas - I love learning interesting things in debates and if you want to chat about something, feel free to reach out
Overview: Debate is for the debaters so do your thing and I'll do my best to provide a fair decision despite any preferences or experiences that I have. I have had the opportunity to judge and participate in debates of several different formats, circuits, and styles in my short career. What I've found is that all forms of debate are valuable in some way, though often for different reasons, whether it be policy, critical, performance, LD, PF, local circuit, national circuit, public debates, etc. Please have fun! Debating is fun for you I hope!
How to use - look for your section. First with what format you are in. Now that I'm judging/coaching both LD and policy at the same time, I've split it up between the two activities, with the things that I find most relevant to each. Second with the kind of debate you think you might have in front of me - based on what you read, your opponent reads, the panel, etc. If there's a kind of debate you think you are going to have that you don't find though, try scanning the other activity for the bolded parts to see if it's mentioned. I would prefer that you do not change your style of debate based on what you think my preferences are, but instead read what you've dedicated your time to, feel most passionate about, and feel most confident in.
Speaking and Presentation: I don't care about how you look, how you're dressed, how fast or in what manner you speak, where you sit, whether you stand, etc. Do whatever makes you feel comfortable and will help you be the best debater you can be. My one preference for positioning is that you face me during speeches. It makes it easier to hear and also I like to look up a lot while flowing on my laptop. For some panel situations, this can be harder, just try your best and don't worry about it too much.
In terms of clarity - I do not like to follow along in the speech doc while you are giving your speech. I like to read cards in prep time, when they are referenced in cx, and while making my decision. I will use it as a backup during a speech if I have to. This is a particular problem in LD, that has been exacerbated by two years of online debate. I expect to be able to hear every word in your speech, yes including the text of cards. I expect to be able to flow tags, analytics, theory interps, or anything else that is not the interior text of a card. This means you can go faster in the text of a card, this does mean you should be unclear while reading the text of a card. This also means you should go slower for things that are not that. This is because even if I can hear and understand something you are saying, that does not necessarily mean that my fingers can move fast enough to get it onto my flow. When you are reading analytics or theory args, you are generally making warranted arguments much faster than if you were reading a card. Therefore, you need to slow down so I can get those warrants on my flow.
I'm bad at yelling clear. I try to do it when things are particularly egregious but honestly, I feel bad about throwing a debater off their game in the middle of a speech. For rebuttals and analytics that I can't find when I grumpily tab to the speech doc, I will yell clear twice before I stop flowing. If it's in the speech doc, I'll probably flow the important things off the doc unhappily, but it will affect your speaker points.
Logistical Stuff: I would like the round to run as on-time as possible. There are a few reasons for this. First, I like it when tournaments run on time and the primary determiners of their timeliness are debaters and judges. Tabrooms like this too, and they already have a hard enough job. Second, I would like to have as much time for my decision as possible. In the decision time, I am trying to put together both the best decision possible and also the best feedback possible for you to improve. I can think of a few decisions off the top of my head that I've later thought might've been wrong or where my explanation in RFD didn’t make much sense - let's be real, judges are human and everyone makes mistakes - for all of these decisions that come to mind however, limited time to actually make my decision played a significant factor. I try my best, but please, it really is better for you if you do everything you can to make things run quickly. Docs should be ready to be sent when you end prep time. Orders/roadmaps should be given quickly and not changed several times. Marking docs can happen outside of prep time, but it should entail only marking where cards were cut. CX or prep time needs to be taken to ask if something was not read or which arguments were read. I think it’s your responsibility to listen to your opponent’s speech to determine what was said and what wasn’t. I don’t take time for tech issues and am of course fine with bathroom breaks or whatever debaters need - tournaments generally give plenty of time for a round and so long as the debaters are not taking excessive time to do other things like send docs, I find that these sorts of things aren’t what truly makes the round run behind.
Email chain or speech drop is fine for docs, which should be shared before a speech. I really prefer Word documents if possible, but don't stress about changing your format if you can't figure it out. Unless there is an accommodation request, not officially or anything just an ask before the round, I don't think analytics need to be sent. Advocacy texts, theory interps, and shells should be sent. Cards are sent for the purposes of ethics and examining more closely the research of your opponent. Too many of you have stopped listening to your opponents entirely and I think the rising norm of sending every single word you plan on saying is a big part of it. It also makes you worse debaters because in the instances where your opponent decides to look up from their laptop and make a spontaneous argument, many of you just miss it entirely.
Stop stealing prep time. When prep time is called by either side, you should not be talking to your partner, typing excessively on your computer, or writing things down. My opinion on “flex prep,” or asking questions during prep time, is that you can ask for clarifications, but your opponent doesn’t have to answer more typical cx questions if they don’t want to (it is also time that they are entitled to use to focus on prep), and I don’t consider the answers in prep to have the same weight as in cx. Prep time is not a speech, and I dislike it when a second ultra-pointed cx begins in prep time because you think it makes your opponent look worse. It doesn’t - it makes you look worse.
Speaker Points: I try to adjust based on the strength of the tournament pool/division, but my accuracy can vary depending on how many rounds in the tournament I've already judged.
29.5+ You are one of the top three speakers in the tournament and should be in finals.
29.1-29.4 You are a great speaker who should be in late elims of the tournament.
28.7-29 You are a good speaker who should probably break.
28.4-28.6 You're doing well, but need some more improvement to be prepared for elims.
28-28.3 You need significant improvement before I think you can debate effectively in elims.
<28 You have done something incredibly offensive or committed an ethics violation, which I will detail in written comments and speak with you about in oral feedback.
The three things that affect speaker points the most are speaking clearly/efficiently, cross-x, and making effective choices in the final rebuttals.
I enjoy reading large fantasy and sci-fi novels in my free time. Relatable references to such in a final rebuttal speech can earn up to +.2 speaker points :) - I especially like Brandon Sanderson. Sci-fi/speculative fiction affs are also super cool.
How you should pref me: I don't believe in ranking myself as a "1" for certain kinds of debates or a "strike" for others. I am interested in many kinds of debate and try to evaluate any argument presented in front of me to the best of my ability. Also, I really hate the idea of being confined to certain bubbles in debate or being isolated from interesting arguments. All that being said, I of course have more experience in some arguments than others, and the biases that come with that. I come from policy debate. I started my sophomore year of high school, where I competed in mostly lay divisions aside from two weeks of debate camp. I then competed for 4 years on the NDT/CEDA circuit in college, had some moderate success, etc.
Though I say I did lay debate, it was very unlike what you would consider "traditional" debate in LD. I did in fact not spread, have debates mostly in front of parents, and not read so-called "progressive" arguments like kritiks or theory very often. However, all those debates were done with policy resolutions and in a policy format. This involved some "stock issues" debate, which I don't think is useful to elaborate on, but mainly just standard disads, advantage cps, some pics, solvency arguments - what you all would call "larp," just at a slower speed and with more traditional appeal. In college, I was fairly flexible for policy standards, and oscillated between reading stuff with big stick impacts and kritiks with a lot of French theory authors. In college I spread and exclusively did "progressive" debate - I spent a lot more time on debate overall in college than in high school.
The debates that I've had by far the most experience with overall are plans vs. cp/da, plans vs. kritiks, and k-affs vs. t-fw. Secondary to those are probably k v. k debates. The kinds of debates that I've had the least amount of experience with are what you would call "traditional." I come to these debates from the opposite perspective of you all - things like value/value-criterion feel jargony and I often struggle to figure out what it means for how I should decide the debate. If you are having this kind of debate in front of me, please treat me like a true lay person, and assume that unless you are reading util I will be probably unfamiliar with your framework and will not automatically know why you winning your value-criterion means that you should win the debate.
Phil Debates: Something I am fairly unfamiliar with, but I've been learning more about over the past 6 months (02/23). I have read, voted for, and coached many things to the contrary, but if you want to know what I truly believe, I basically think most things collapse into some version of consequentialist utilitarianism. If you are to convince me that I should not be a consequentialist, then I need clear instructions for how I should evaluate offense. Utilitarianism I'm used to being a little more skeptical of from k debates, but other criticisms of util from say analytic philosophy I will probably be unfamiliar with.
Plans/DAs/CPs: See the part in my policy paradigm. Plans/CP texts should be clearly written and are generally better when in the language of a specific solvency advocate. I think the NC should be a little more developed for DAs than in policy - policy can have some missing internal links because they get the block to make new arguments, but you do not get new args in the NR that are unresponsive to the 1AR - make sure you are making complete arguments that you can extend.
Kritiks: Some stuff in my policy paradigm is probably useful. Look there for K-affs vs. T-fw. I'm most familiar with so-called "high theory" but I have also debated against, judged, and coached many other kinds of kritiks. Like with DAs/CPs, stuff that would generally be later in the debate for policy should be included in the NC, like ROBs/fw args. Kritiks to me are usually consequentialist, they just care about different kinds of consequences - i.e. the consequences of discourse, research practices, and other impacts more proximate than extinction.
ROB/ROJs: In my mind, this is a kind of theory debate. The way I see this deployed in LD most of the time is as a combination of two arguments. First, what we would call in policy "framework" (not what you call fw in LD) - an argument about which "level" I should evaluate the debate on. "Pre-fiat" and "post-fiat" are the terms that you all like to use a lot, but it doesn't necessarily have to be confined to this. I could be convinced for instance that research practices should come before discourse or something else. The second part is generally an impact framing argument - not only that reps should come first, but that a certain kind of reps should be prioritized - i.e. ROB is to vote for whoever best centers a certain kind of knowledge. These are related, but also have separate warrants and implications for the round, so I consider them separately most of the time. I very often can in fact conclude that reps must come first, but that your opponent’s reps are better because of some impact framing argument that they are making elsewhere. Also, ROB and ROJ are indistinct from one another to me, and I don’t see the point in reading both of them in the same debate.
Topicality: You can see some thoughts in the policy sections as well if you're having that kind of T debate about a plan. I personally think some resolutions in LD justify plans and some don't. But I can be convinced that having plans or not having plans is good for debate, which is what is important for me in deciding these debates. The things I care about here are education and fairness, generally more education stuff than fairness. Topicality interpretations are models of the topic that affirmatives should follow to produce the best debates possible. I view T like a DA and vote for whichever model produces the best theoretical version of debate. I care about "pragmatics" - "semantics" matter to me only insofar as they have a pragmatic impact - i.e. topic/definitional precision is important because it means our research is closer to real-world scholarship on the topic. Jurisdiction is a vacuous non-starter. Nebel stuff is kind of interesting, but I generally find it easier just to make an argument about limits. Reasonability is something I almost never vote on - to be “reasonable” I think you have to either meet your opponent’s interp or have a better one.
For JF23 - Plans are debatable, but if your interpretation is that "open borders" means you get to spec any single border between two states, you should be prepared for a very large limits disad. The resolution does not have an actor and does not say "ought" or "should." Please keep this in mind when having debates about whether affs have to defend implementation or a policy.
RVIs: The vast majority of the time these are unnecessary when you all go for them. If you win your theory or topicality interp is better than your opponent's, then you will most likely win the debate, because the opposing team will not have enough offense on substance. I'm less inclined to believe topicality is an RVI. I think it’s an aff burden to prove they are topical and the neg getting to test that is generally a good thing. Other theory makes more sense as an RVI. Sometimes when a negative debater is going for both theory and substance in the NR, the RVI can be more justifiable to go for in the 2AR because of the unique time differences of LD. If they make the decision to fully commit to theory in the NR, however, the RVI is unnecessary - not that I'm ideologically opposed to it, it just doesn't get you anything extra for winning the debate - 5 seconds of "they dropped substance" is easier and the warrants for your c/i's standards are generally much better than the ones for the RVI.
Disclosure Theory: This is not a section that I would ever have to write for policy. I find it unfortunate that I have to write it for LD. Disclosure is good because it allows schools access to knowledge of what their opponents are reading, which in pre-disclosure days was restricted to larger programs that could afford to send scouts to rounds. It also leads to better debates where the participants are more well-prepared. What I would like to happen for disclosure in general is this:
1) previously read arguments on the topic are disclosed to at least the level of cites on the opencaselist wiki,
2) a good faith effort is made by the aff to disclose any arguments including the advocacy/plan, fw, and cards that they plan on reading in the AC that they've read before once the pairing comes out,
3) a good faith effort is made by the neg to disclose any previously read positions, tied to NC arguments on their wiki, that they've gone for in the NR on the current topic (and previous if asked) once they receive disclosure from the aff,
4) all the cites disclosed are accurate and not misrepresentations of what is read,
5) nobody reads disclosure theory!!
This is basically the situation in college policy, but it seems we still have a ways to go for LD. In a few rare instances I've encountered misdisclosure, even teams saying things like "well it doesn't matter that we didn't read the scenario we said we were going to read because they're a k team and it wasn't really going to change their argument anyways." More intentional things like this, or bad disclosure from debaters and programs that really should know better, I don't mind voting on. I really don't like however when disclosure is used to punish debaters for a lack of knowledge or because it is a norm they are not used to. I will vote for it, but I won't feel good about it, and it may reflect in speaks. You have to understand, my roots are as a lay debater who didn't know what the wiki was and didn't disclose for a single round in high school. For my first two years, I debated exclusively on paper and physically handed pages to my opponent while debating after reading them to share evidence. For a couple years after that, we "flashed" evidence to each other by tossing around a usb drive. I've been in way more non-lay debates since then and have spent much more time doing "progressive" debate than I ever did lay debate, but I'm very sympathetic still to these kinds of debaters.
Especially if a good-faith attempt is made, interps that are excluding debaters based on a few minutes of a violation, a round report from several tournaments ago, or other petty things make me sad to judge. My threshold for reasonability in these debates will be much lower. Having some empathy and clearly communicating with your opponent what you want from them is a much better strategy for achieving better disclosure practices in the community than reading theory as a punitive measure. If you want something for disclosure, ask for it, or you have no standing. Also, if you read a disclosure interp that you yourself do not meet, you have no standing. Open source theory and disclosure of new affs are more debatable than other kinds of disclosure arguments, and like with T and other theory I will vote for whichever interp I determine is better for debate.
Other Theory: I really liked theory when I did policy debate, but that theory is also different from a lot of LD theory. What that means is I mainly know cp theory - condo, pics, process cps, perm competition (i.e. textual vs. functional, perm do the cp), severance/intrinsicness, and other things of that nature. You can see some of my thoughts on these arguments in the policy section. I've also had some experience with spec arguments. Like T, I view theory similarly to a da debate. Interpretations are models of debate that I endorse which describe ideally what all other debates should look like. I almost always view things through competing interps. Like with T, in order to win reasonability I think you need to have a pretty solid I/meet argument. Not having a counter-interp the speech after the interp is introduced is a major mistake that can cost you the round. I decide theory debates by determining which interp produces a model of debate that is "best." I default to primarily caring about education - i.e. depth vs. breadth, argument quality, research quality, etc. but I can be convinced that fairness is a controlling factor for some of these things or should come first. I find myself pretty unconvinced by arguments that I should care about things like NSDA rules, jurisdiction, some quirk of the tournament invitation language, etc.
Tricks: I think I've officially judged one "tricks" round now, and I've been trying to learn as much as I can while coaching my squad. I enjoyed it, though I can't say I understood everything that was happening. I engaged in some amount of trickery in policy debate - paradoxes, wipeout, process cps, kicking out of the aff, obscure theory args, etc. However, what was always key to winning these kinds of debates was having invested time in research, blocks, a2s - the same as I would for any other argument. I need to be able to understand what your reason is for obtaining my ballot. If you want to spread out arguments in the NC, that's fine and expected, but I still expect you to collapse in the NR and explain in depth why I should vote for you. I won't evaluate new arguments in the NR that are not directly responsive to the 1AR. The reason one-line voting issues in the NC don't generally work with me in the back is that they do not have enough warrants to make a convincing NR speech.
T-Framework: It seems this is the main reason most people read paradigms these days. I have voted both ways in these debates, and have been on both sides (2A reading a k aff & 1N going for fw in the block) of the framework debate in my career.
Neg --I think negative teams here most often miss why things like fairness and education are important. Impact these claims out into some tangible benefit that I can compare against the impact turn. Writing a neg ballot only on procedural fairness is hard for me. I find a lot of these debates to end up pretty tautological - "fairness is an impact because debate is a game and games should have rules or else they'd be unfair," etc. These debates leave me wondering how to compare fairness to something tangible like psychological violence or political passivity in a traditional impact calc sense. I find fairness much more convincing to me as an impact filter, i.e. a reason to be skeptical of the case page, ensuring better clash, etc. This is considered a hot take by a lot of people, but I really don't understand why. Many teams in front of me will win that fairness is necessary to preserve the game, but never take the next step of explaining to me why preserving the game is good. In that scenario, what "impact" am I really voting on? Even if the other team agrees that the game of debate is good (which a lot of k affs contest anyways), you still have to quantify or qualify how important that is for me reasonably compare it to the impact turn. Perhaps if you read something like deontology arguments that say fairness is a virtue I must always preserve, I could vote on it alone, but in a utilitarian sense, I just don't know how to weigh it against anything. Fairness as a filter to some neg arguments and a more external impact like skills or topic-specific education is a much more convincing ballot for me. When I do vote on fairness alone, it is usually because the negative team has also forwarded substantial defensive arguments like a convincing TVA, read it on the neg, or c/i links to aff offense that mitigates the risk of the impact turn to nearly zero.
Aff -- I generally prefer aff strategies that just impact turn framework. I have seen and voted for predictable counter-interps, but a lot of the time it feels like an uphill battle. Most of the time, the neg is able to tie a good chunk of their offense to the predictability portion of the debate, which really hurts c/i solvency. That being said, a counter-interp can still mitigate a good amount of neg offense, so it may be still good to have one even if you are impact turning some of the neg's stuff. I just wouldn't recommend it as the focus of your strategy. Like the neg however, aff teams need to do more than make nebulous references to things like psychological violence. What kind of violence, and why is it more important than debating the topic? Explain to me in clear terms what the impact to your impact turn is. Be careful of large defensive arguments. I have dropped a number of teams who mishandle read it on the neg or who read impact turns that link to their own interp.
Everyone needs to compare their impacts to the other side's as well as relative solvency of the interps, and tell me why I should vote for them. For some reason, impact comparison just seems to disappear from debaters' repertoire when debating framework, which is really frustrating for me.
Kritiks: Both sides of these debates often involve a lot of people reading overviews at each other, especially in high school, which can make it hard to evaluate at the end of the round. Have a clear link story and a reason why the alternative resolves those links. Absent an alt, have a framework as to why your impacts matter/why you still win the round. For affs, pick either the impact turn strat or the perm strat and stick with it. I like impact turns better, but sometimes perms are more strategic. I'm not sure how useful this is, but the way I think about kritiks may also be a bit different than what you're used to. Rather than thinking about it as a non-unique disad with a counterplan, I think about the impacts as negative effects of the status quo, the alternative as a way of resolving the status quo, and the links as reasons why the aff prevents the alternative from happening, rather than something that directly causes the impacts. This framing helps me a lot when I'm thinking through permutations. This is of course when I'm evaluating something like fiat. Winning that the debate should only be about representations and that the affirmative's reps are bad for scholarship is also a convincing ballot for me.
Literature I am intimately familiar with (have run these arguments frequently and/or have done other research outside of debate into them): Cap, Psychoanalysis (more Lacan than Freud), Baudrillard, Foucault, DnG, Bataille, plant ontology (lol), Bifo, Edelman, Puar.
Literature I am somewhat familiar with (have run these arguments infrequently or done some coaching on them): Derrida, Wilderson, Warren, Set Col.
Anything else assume that I have little or no familiarity with.
Affirmatives: I think all affs should have a clear impact story with a good solvency advocate explaining why the aff resolves the links to those impacts. I really enjoy affs that are creative and outside of what a lot of people are reading, but are still grounded in the resolution. If you can find a clever interpretation of the topic or policy idea that the community hasn't thought of yet, I'll probably bump your speaks a bit.
Disads: Love 'em. Impact framing is very important in debates without a neg advocacy. A lot of disads (especially politics) have pretty bad ev/internal link chains, so try to wow me with 1 good card rather than spitting out 10 bad ones. 0 risk of a disad is absolutely a thing. I don't automatically presume a 1% chance of the link for the whole debate just because you read 1 or 2 bad cards in the 1NC. You have to actually win the link debate for me to grant you a chance of a link.
Counterplans: They should have solvency advocates and a clear story for competition. Exploit generic link chains in affs. I read some wonky process cps and pics in my career but if the aff wins theory then they win theory. I won't judge kick unless you tell me to in the 2NR, and preferably it should have some kind of justification.
Topicality: I default to competing interps. Be clear about what your interp includes and excludes and why that is a good thing. I view topicality like a disad most of the time, and vote for whoever's vision of the topic is best. I find arguments about limits and the effect that interpretations have on research to be the most convincing.
Theory: Being a 2A I think makes more inherently sympathetic to affs on theory questions and the like. I think condo has gone way too far in recent years, especially with multi-plank counterplans that have dozens or hundreds of possible combinations that can all be kicked. If the aff wins new affs are good, it doesn't make sense to me why new affs would then justify unbridled conditionality. That being said, I do my best to evaluate theory arguments as well as I would any other argument in debate. I haven't thought too hard about other theory questions. If you're winning it as a reason to reject the team, feel free to go for it no matter how silly you think it is.
Please put me on the email chain firstname.lastname@example.org
I am a coach at Binghamton, where I debated for four years. I qualified to the NDT a few times, and have now been coaching Bing for three years.
My primary debate interests are disability studies, semiocap, various post modernism(Foucault, Delueze, etc), but I'm pretty familiar with most K literature currently in circulation.
I mostly judge K v K debates, but vote for framework a decent amount when its presented to me(I'll talk about why in a bit)
K v K
Aff's being able to articulate solvency/framing for the ballot is important to me. I'm not great for affs that are simply theories of power that explain why the status quo is bad. Being able to explain the aff's relationship to debate and why your pedagogy is good goes a long way in beating back presumption.
Neg teams need to focus on constructing the alt in a way that is as distinct from the aff as possible, and honestly with me in the back you can get away with simply a reject alt or something more like framework style argument instead of articulating aff solvency. My point here is to say, don't let the perm be an easy way out.
also please call out floating pics, it feels bad voting neg when the aff team doesn't realize how unfair the winning argument was.
A big thing I have noticed when I judge these debates is that because each team will inevitably have offense, which team has better defense in the form of the TVA or the Counter Interpretation is often a deciding factor for me. Aff teams need to make sure they don't brush off the TVA in particular as I think it can mitigate a lot of the aff's offense when done right.
Am fine if the aff wants to just impact turn the neg's offense as well, just make sure you are dedicating a lot of time to this and not taking the fact that I will likely agree with you personally for granted.
Fairness is not too persuasive to me as an impact but I will vote for it if you win the argument. I think skills, education, dogma etc are better impacts though and you'll probably have better success with those.
When policy teams are aff, both sides should prioritize winning the framework argument as to whether or not the aff gets to weigh the plan. Also in these debates, the neg needs to focus on impact calc and explaining what solvency means in context of my ballot. Otherwise you risk losing to the try or die framing of the affirmative.
Preferred name: Kat
I would like to be on the email chain: email@example.com
*****IF YOU READ/REFERENCE SEXUALLY EXPLICIT/VIOLENT CONTENT I AM NOT THE JUDGE FOR YOU.*****
Senior at Liberty University, and I debated policy for 4 years in high school (shout out to Long Branch High!). Surprise, I'm judging now !
My credentials ig:
- 2021 NDT third team
- 2022 NDT First Round (TOP TEN YERRRR)
- First Liberty invite to the Kentucky Round Robin (MOOP)
- Long Branch High volunteer Policy Coach
- Judged Policy, LD, Parli, PF, and speech events
I'm a black woman with an immigrant background. Do with that what you will.
If you're a K team, I'm a huge fan of K's! I'm familiar with: Cap K, Thoreau, Antiblackness, Afropess, Afrofuturism, Orientalism, Bataille, Nietzsche, Fem, Baudrillard, and I'm sure I'm missing others. Just bc I'm comfortable with these, don't be sure I'll know all of your buzz-words and theory. Explanations are good, detailed explanations are best.
If you win the following, you'll win the debate:
1.) Give me the Link. Just because I consider the truth doesn't mean that you could assert that the Aff is racist, sexist, neoliberal, or whatever without a specific link. If you can prove to me why the foundations of the Aff are suspect and make your impacts worse, you've done your job and the link debate is yours.
2.) Impact weighing. I need clash and impact comparison. Sure, tell me what your impact is and why it matters, but explain why it matters in relation to your opponent's impacts (ie: structural violence is happening now, extinction is far off. Immediacy outweighs).
3.) Alt explanation. I gotta know what it does. In explaining the Alt, you need to explain how it's different from the SQUO, and why a permutation wouldn't immediately resolve your impacts and the links. If you don't need to win the Alt, just gotta explain why not.
4.) Judge Instruction. Give it to be straight, what do you want me to do? What is my role in the discussion/in this competitive space? What are the implications of the ballot?
Do these things, and you're golden. :^)
Do most of the same stuff as above, only difference is that you should have substantive answers to framework. Again, don't just assert that FW is sexist, racist, whatever WITHOUT a reason why. I jive with K-Affs, and I think performances could be powerful. Just make sure everything is done with a purpose.
Your counter-interpretation is the framing for my ballot as well as the model of debate you advocate for. I'll vote on any, esp if the other team drops it.
ROB's are muy importante in a framework debate.
I'm guilty of wildly-long overviews-- but for your sake pls no more than 2 minutes. Pls.
Policy, because I can't abandon my first love:
I love me some tasty DA's and CP's, as long as the internal link chain makes sense.
I'm sympathetic to Condo as an arg if it's 6+ off. Anything below that and you're on your own, my friend.
Impact turns are cool. I'll vote for anything as long as it isn't death/extinction good and structural violence/racism good.
1.) FAIRNESS ISN'T AN IMPACT! It's an internal link to education.
2.) Clash is the most convincing impact to me-- without it, policy debate would be Lincoln Douglas-- just two people talking at each other. Wait, am I allowed to say that? Oh well, it's in here now.
3.) Predictability is sort of a toss-up. If you didn't prepare for Cap or other K's that you knew would come with the topic after the first few tournaments, that's on you. But I will vote for it if you tell me how predictability makes you all better debaters.
Please do not put me in any T or Theory debates. I can't do it.
>Impact calc is MUY IMPORTANTE!!! Weigh between your and your opponent's impacts, please. Explain why you outweigh.
>Ask QUESTIONS in Cross-Fire! This is two-fold: 1. "[explains case]... what do you say to that?" isn't a question, and 2. Being POLITE when asking questions is key. Please don't bully the other team.
>Tell me how to write my ballot, and what you're going to win on in this debate.
>I'm a policy person so I don't see a problem with counterplans in PF. This being said, "This is PF, counterplans aren't allowed!" isn't an argument. Attack it instead.
>In addition, speed isn't a problem for me. But do recognize that if the other team makes it a voter, you have to justify your use of speed in that instance.
>And please, PLEASE, answer as many of the opponent's arguments WHILE extending your case. Chances are they didn't answer everything you said.
>Finally... have funsies. :^)
Onto the Fun Stuff (TM):
I love it when debaters have a sense of humor. Have fun and crack a joke every once in a while; debating/judging is exhausting, you know.
Recently, I've been into yassifying names and random items (adding -iana at the end). Feel free to do it for some speaks! And lmk if you want to be yassified in the RFD!
Over Quarantine, I've been binging The Crown, Attack On Titan, and Miraculous Ladybug-- do with that info what you will.
If you ask me to dap you up before or after the debate, a minor speaks boost is in your future. (this is pre-corona. a virtual dap is also acceptable.)
If you're racist, sexist, ableist, homophobic, rude, or discriminatory in any way toward your partner or opponent, I will stop the round and your speaks are getting docked. Behaviors like that make the debate space less hospitable. And, yes, that includes extremely 'punking' the other team.
Rhetoric is a voter. If it frames the debate and it's a big enough deal to potentially ruin your debate experience, I'll vote on it.
I’m currently a junior at Liberty University and debated in high school at University High School (Jersey Urban Debate League). This is approximately my 7th year in debate and as such I have engaged in both 'traditional' and now 'performance' style debate. Ultimately, I have come to conclusion that debate is a game but this game also has real life effects on the people who choose to participate in it. Therefore, BE NICE, HAVE FUN, and DO YOU!!!
I have found in my time debating that there are a few things that debaters are looking for when they read judging philosophies (including myself) so I’ll get straight to the point:
K's: I’m fine with them and have run them for quite some time in my career. However, this does not mean run a K in front of me for the fun of it - rather it means that I expect you to be able to explain your link story and the way the alternative functions. I find that most teams just make the assumption that the Aff doesn’t get a perm because "it’s a methodology debate". That’s not an argument, give me warrants as to why this is true if this is the argument you are going to for. K Aff's are fine often times debaters lose sight of the strategic benefits of the Aff, So a simple advice I can give is DONT FORGET YOUR AFF!!
DA's: In general I like strong impact analysis and good link story. Make logical argument and be able to weigh the impact story against the Aff.
CP’s: I am open all types of CP’s you just have to prove the competitiveness of said CP and make sure it has a net benefit.
FW: Again….Debate is a game but this game has real life implications on those who choose to engage in it. I think FW can be strategic against some Aff’s but don’t use it as a reason to not engage the Aff. Win your interpretation and weigh your impacts. Aff’s: don’t blow off FW answer it and engage it or tell me why you are not engaging in it.
Theory: Not a big fan of it, but make sure you slow down as to ensure I get all the arguments you are making. But do you!
Cross X: I think this is the best part of debate and LOVE it. Don’t waste those 3 min, they serve a great purpose. I am ALWAYS paying attention to CX and may even flow it.
*** Please remember that I am not as familiar with the high school topic so don’t assume I know all the jargon ***
Last but not least, watch me!(take hints from the visual cues that I am sending)
You can add me to the chain: firstname.lastname@example.org
I debated at NYU for 3 years and also in high school, reading mostly soft-left affs with plan texts and a mix of T, K, CP with occasional disads on case. I've been in the working world the past few years managing electoral campaigns. I've now returned for grad school at NYU and am helping out the team this weekend.
This is my first tournament on the personhood tournament so a) slow down on tags and cites so I have a chance to get back up to speed with my flows and b) don't assume I know all of the funky topic-based arguments.
Rather than a strong preference for a particular style of debate just be smart and clear especially in your rebuttals. If I'm not clear on why the DA uniqueness or the Kritik alt solvency, it will be much harder to win my ballot.
On the big issues, it matters to me how you treat other humans so try to be respectful and not a jerk. Talking over your partner is a no-no since they deserve respect as well.
Disads on Econ, Politics and Leadership are core issues and I know Court Clog. The topic Disads, please take a little more explanatory time.
Yes, i'm willing to vote on theory but wading through a condo debate is't the most fun I've had in life.
Counterplans can be condo, dispo etc but I'd rather not have a bunch of conditional planks thrown around. If you want to read 3 advocacies as long as there's only one in the 2NR, I'm ok with that but above that, you're fighting uphill. I won't judge kick the CP for you.
Haven't had enough rounds to have a leaning on if I vote aff or neg on framework so we'll have to see. For now, it's really just which side does the better job debating. As far as theory knowledge, be aware that I'm in grad school for bioethics so depending on your genre you might walk into my expertise.
My default is the aff gets to weigh the case against the K and they have a right to a perm.
Anything else, please ask before the round.
Background: Currently, a coach for Liberty University, where I also debated for 4 years, NDT and CEDA octofinalist, and 2021 CEDA Top Speaker. Started by doing traditional policy args, moved to Kritical things, and ended as a performance debater with most of my arguments starting with black women and moving outward such as Cap, AB, Set Col, and so on). started debate in college as a novice and worked my way to Varsity so I do have a pretty good understanding of each division. Also, I'm a black woman if that wasn't obvious or you didn't know lol
I’m here for the petty and I stay for the petty I will vote on the petty but there is a difference between petty and mean I won't vote on mean it makes me very uncomfortable
Judging wise (general things)
How I view debate: Debate is first and foremost a game, but it’s full of real people and real consequences so we should keep that in mind as we play even though it’s a game that definitely has real-life implications for a lot of us.
Facial Expressions: I often make facial expressions during the debate and yes they are about the debate so I would pay attention to it my face will often let you know when I vibing and when I’m confused
Speaker points: --- totally subjective I try and start at 28.7 and then go up and down based on a person’s performance in a debate ---- in the debate, it becomes a trend to ask for higher speaks which is fine but if your gonna do that you best not suck or I will automatically give you a 28.3, also I feel like you need a justification for asking for those speaks outside of a speaker award --- I try to be nice and fair here
Speed: Don’t risk clarity over speed I’m not straining my ear to make sense of mus
Dont go far when the debate is over I tend to know my decision when the debate ends
If you are gonna email questions later pls let me know so I can keep my flows I often throw them away I wanna be to help but its hard for me to answer your questions after the fact if I don't have my flows
Debated a lot of K's, read a lot of K’s as a debater I don’t know every K in existence but with a thorough explanation and well execution, I will probably be fine.
I have a larger threshold for the K because I expect you to explain the linked 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 (it’s obvious and annoys me just do what you do best)
I like performative links, not personal attacks. 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 is one of my favorite parts of the debate I enjoy the creativity of these!! 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. Those that are on 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 storyline going throughout the entirety of the debate.
When you get into FWK/T debates, extend and explain your counter-interpretation. What is your model and why is it good? That plus impact turns = an easy ballot from me.
I think a lot of K teams assume reading your aff is good in debate is gonna do something very big on K aff’s having a reason on why their aff in the debate is good.
It's a strategy that is read against K aff's, it's a strategy tbh I enjoy and am more sympathetic to than most would think. 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 fwk.
PSA - fairness is not an impact... at best, it’s an internal link. Unless the aff has no justification for their aff, then you got a good chance of getting my ballot by reading fairness. I find it most compelling when you prove in round abuse.
I think a TVA is a must. 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 one round, then explain why that is better.
Lmao these are things that exist in debate too…
Das I would say make sure you have a clear and warranted link story and awesome impact calc.
And CP’s I’m open to all CPs kinda think of CPs in the context of having a net benefit and how does the CP solve the aff? It's also nice if your CP is competitive...
I think theory is procedural 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 v K:
Engage the K!Too many times policy teams just write over the K with their fwk 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 fwk to get to weigh your aff but that is all the fwk 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.
How to get better speaker points with me
Be nice, be funny, be personable
Organized docs and speeches
Mention Scandal/Olivia Pope whom I love in your speech I will bump your speaks like .4
Ohhh and for the black folks ask for speaker points and ye shall receive lol I might not be able to always give you the ballot, but I can give you a 30
A 2NR/2AR with judge instruction is literally the freakin best thing ever
Affiliations: GMU, Wake Forest, Michigan State
Here are some of the things that are useful to know about me as a judge.
1. When judging topicality debates, I rely very heavily on evidence, and often to a much greater extent than I do the actual debating. This is not necessarily true of my judging style in other domains, and I realize it may not be logically justified or coherent. It makes sense to spend your time talking about your and your opponent’s evidence and its context. I don’t particularly care if something is predictable if it technically falls under the bounds of the resolution. I also do not think I have used the word “reasonability” in an RFD in at least the past 10 years.
2. Theory things: I am bad for ‘cheap shot’ voting issues. I am not great for the states counterplan. If the aff does the states theory thing well, your odds are decent. I’ll also vote on conditionality bad. It probably becomes a threat once you read three advocacies
3. Sometimes, focusing on having a lot of defense with only a sliver offense can work really well.
4. I’m bad for extremely short-term impacts. If something catastrophic is supposed to happen in just a few months, I probably don’t believe the evidence. Probably exceptions will arise, but in particular I do not care for the following frequently stated sentence: “Our impact comes first, so it can turn theirs, but their impact cannot turn ours.”
5. Something I dislike is when a speaker begins reading from a partner’s laptop mid-speech, and almost always at a different pace and volume than the rest of the speech. Often, a speaker will also crouch down to read off of the second laptop, making it much harder to hear.
6. If a policy 1AC forgets to read the plan in the 1AC, I’d much rather have everything get sorted out at the beginning of cross-x, and then move on with it.
Samantha Godbey, PhD
Director of Debate
West Virginia University
Debaters please send speech docs here: email@example.com I only check this email at debate tournaments.
If you would like to contact me, not during a debate tournament please email at SamanthaEGodbey@gmail.com.
A note about my education-I started as a novice in 2004 (fossil fuels)- debated through college mostly in CEDA Northeast. My PhD is in Political Science, in particular my dissertatation is on the American public policy process in the area of human trafficking policy. I also have comped in International Relations and Comparative Politics- I have never taken a communications class in my life. All of that means literally nothing except that there are pretty good odds I have not read whatever it is you are reading (policy or k lit). It is your job to explain it to me and pursuade me, not assume that I already know what you are talking about.
How I feel about arguments
I want you all to do whatever it is you do best/ enjoy the most. There is nothing I won’t listen to/ vote on. I really like offense. It is very persuasive to me. I feel as if that is what I look for when I am making my decision at the end of the round, I also like when debaters tell me how they won. I don't like having to look for those reasons/ decide which is most important myself.
Im not crazy about judge intervention, I do my best to come in to every round as tabula rasa as possible. It is your responsibility to persuade me in one way or another to get my ballot.
I believe that I am extremely flow centric (unless you tell me not to be), also seems like I should note that I flow what you say not what is in your speech doc. I wont have your speech doc open at any time unless I am reading cards at the end of the debate. So, if its said in the round, it'll be on my paper. The round is therefore decided by my flow (again, unless told otherwise).
I vote for who wins the debate, I find all types of arguments persuasive from critical to straight up policy. I don't care what you do, just do what you do best (and impact it).
Heather Holter Hall
Salem and Tallwood High School Debater 1990-93
Liberty University Debater 1993-96
Liberty University Assistant Debate Coach 20+ years
I love this activity and I look forward to meeting you.
Congratulations on being at a debate tournament! I like debates with a few pieces of quality research that you can explain well plus some smart logical arguments. You should focus on good explanation of arguments and on getting better at flowing. Putting lots of extra pieces of research that you have never read before into your speech is a waste of your time. I would much rather hear you explain research that you understand, compare that research to your opponent’s research and arguments, and tell me why the plan is either a good or bad idea. The most important comparison in the debate you can make is to tell me whose impacts are bigger, come first, or are more likely.
I will flow what is spoken in the debate, not the speech document. You should highlight and read complete sentences. I do not count sentence fragments as arguments.
If it is an online debate, please make sure you SEE or HEAR me on the camera before you begin your speech. Please say out loud when you are done with prep time and post how much you have left in the chat. When you say prep time is done, you should be ready to email the speech document immediately.
For everyone else:
I have spent the majority of the last 20 years coaching novice debate. I also judge a lot of novice and jv debates. This means that I am not deep into the lit base for most arguments. My days are full of explaining and re-explaining basic debate theory. You should view me as someone who loves learning something new and the debate as your opportunity to teach me. If you want me to assess arguments based upon previous in-depth knowledge of a particular lit base, you will probably be very disappointed. I love the strategic use of each student’s scholarship but get me on the same page first.
Likewise, the theory debates I am used to judging are pretty basic. I would love to hear a well-developed theory debate at a high level, but you will need to slow down, give full warrants, and not assume that “lit checks” means the same to me as it does to you.
About preferred types of arguments—smart strategy with good support that is clearly communicated usually wins. I prefer consistent, thoughtful strategies with a few well developed arguments, but, sadly, I have voted for negatives who won simply by overwhelming the 2AC with skimpy highlighting of 7 off case positions.
I have voted for everything, but I do not judge alternate formats of debates often so you will probably want to slow down, make well developed arguments, and assume I do not know. As long as I am judging and there is a win to assign, my main assumption is that every team is playing the game, maybe in different ways, but still just playing the game. I can only make decisions based on words or actions in a particular debate. I will not begin to speculate about another person’s motive or intentions--that is a job for someone else.
I will flow what is spoken in the debate, including cx. I will reference the speech doc, BUT if I can’t understand your words or if the words you say do not make grammatically complete sentences, they won’t make it on my flow and only my flow counts. Likewise, if you are hedging the debate on a warrant buried three sentences deep in the fourth card by Smith, you will need to say more than “extend Smith here.” The more concrete and specific your warrants are, the more likely you are to persuade me.
If it is an online debate, you need to SEE or HEAR me on the camera before you begin your speech. Yes, this has happened more than once lol. Don’t steal prep—it is obvious and annoying.
Feel free to strike me. I am not offended at all if you think I am not a good judge for you. Hopefully, I still get a chance to meet you at a tournament and chat.
Finally, I hope you all have a great tournament, learn new things, think deeply, speak well, meet fascinating people, and win lots of debates (unless you are debating my teams)! Have fun and please say hi in between debates!
I see debate as a space where what counts as reason and what is understood as reasonable is constantly under construction and contestation, which is also to say that I’m down to hear any kind of argument that you think you perform at your best.
I am most familiar with the array of K arguments. This is partly because, in my life outside debate, I am an assistant professor at Skidmore College, where I teach classes listed in our Religious Studies, American Studies, Black Studies, and Gender Studies departments. I love judging debates that draw on and theorize from the literature coming out of those interdisciplines and ones adjacent to them. I am very supportive of performance debate, because–again–I understand all debate as performance. So, if you see a performative contradiction, definitely go ahead and point it out.
I also like debates that think through the theory of debate itself. I look forward to hearing framework arguments, since they give us all a chance to think through what we are doing and to what ends. I often like judging novice debaters for the same reasons.
In the rounds themselves. Again, do you! In general, I think it is the debater’s job to tell me clearly what is in their cards (if you have cards, and I don’t assume that you will!). I flow based on what you say, not based on reading your cards (I’ll read along during the speeches but am unlikely to go back through the cards beyond that). On the neg, in most cases I would rather you debate really well on a few substantial arguments than try to cram in a laundry list of off-case positions.
One thing you might want to know about me is that I wasn’t a debater in college. I’ve been judging debates for Liberty about five years now after getting to know the activity through debater friends and through my scholarship. I realize that this is odd in a community where almost everyone else has prior experience and knows the rhythms, histories, and conventions of the activity. If this means that I am sometimes behind the curve on some of the super obscure techy arguments and need them spelled out, I think my nontraditional way into the activity and my outside work can sometimes be a superpower for strategizing with you about creative ways to synthesize literatures into arguments and strategies.
Judge Paradigm for Frank Irizarry, Suffolk University
Name: Frank Irizarry
College: Suffolk University
Current Profession: Professor/Debate Coach
Judging for: Suffolk University Debate / The Boston Debate League
I was a CEDA debater at Marist College (1989-1993) and I coached at the college level for 15 years (Northern Illinois University, Syracuse University, Pace University, University of Florida, Suffolk University). I have been actively involved with the Boston Debate League for the last 14 years and I judge periodically for the BDL. I have judged policy debate for a long time.
After a 14 year "sabbatical" from coaching, I am back coaching college debate for Suffolk University. I am looking forward to this next act in my debate journey.
I am fairly open to whatever debaters want to do stylistically in a debate round. I wasn't always like that but time away gives you some perspective and I realize that this activity belongs to the debaters so I try to create minimal interference in their argument/advocacy strategy.
If you'd like to know about my thoughts on the typical things debaters generally like to ask about, here goes:
Rate of Delivery: Go as fast as you'd like as long as you are CLEAR.
Quantity of Arguments: I prefer a few well developed arguments but if your strategy involves making lots of arguments early in the debate, so be it.
I am willing to vote on: Topicality, Counterplans, Generic Disadvantages, Conditional Negative Positions, Debate Theory Arguments, Critical Arguments.
I am probably in the minority here but I dislike multiple counterplans in a debate. I think it makes for bad debate. I have voted for teams reading multiple CP's but it never makes me happy.
Ultimately, I like well reasoned arguments, a defense of those arguments and clash on the arguments in the debate.
I dislike rudeness directed toward me or your opponent.
If you have any questions, just ask!
Debater for NYU for four years. I've since graduated and only judge/assist with rounds a few times a year. As a result, note that I am not living and breathing the topic like the rest of you!
The main thing you should do in debate is have fun!
But if you're competitive too, here's what you should know about how I judge:
I vote on a mix of tech vs. truth. I vote based on the flow and the way you frame the debate/what my ballot means in the rebuttals. However, if I don't know what your arg is before the rebuttals, I won't evaluate it i.e. no sandbagging. Be responsive to other teams' arguments and give a roadmap. Spreading is fine. However please be mindful - If you're fast, project and enunciate, it's all good. If you're fast and have no clarity or a very low volume, you're in trouble. Slow down on your overviews and analytics. What I hear is what's on the flow. If you want something flagged, tell me to flag it. If you're going to a new sheet, say so. If you want me to understand a crucial point, sit on it. If you go acronym crazy, you might lose me. If you're playing any music/video/other media, it's in your best interest that I can hear you over whatever you're playing. Don't cut cards. Mark cards sparingly. Know the difference.
Theory, T and Framework can be voters if you give legitimate reasons why they should be. I will vote on Ks of Theory, T or Framework, but you MUST HAVE A COUNTERINTERPRETATION. ROBs are self-serving when you assume saying "role of the ballot" creates an automatic d-rule. ROBs are good when you tell me why yours specifically is good. This means having warrants as to why I should vote on the round that way.
For folks who decide to forfeit ballots to have an open discussion/forum in lieu of a formal round - you will not convince me to stay for the discussion. This is because I do not agree with such teams. Yes, there is an educational benefit to having open discussion, but these don't have to happen in lieu of debate rounds. I think most of us in this activity can agree there is an educational benefit to debate rounds for BOTH teams - including when a team doesn't feel they have a "winning" strategy or complete understanding of the other team's arguments. On top of that, forfeiting poses the losing team as the martyr of the round and the winning team as the sole authority on a specific issue. To me, that's not right. Main point: other educational methods can happen on your own time.
Args that will place you on an uphill battle to convince me:
- Our ROB is to vote for us (as stated above)
- Args not clarified until the rebuttals (sandbagged args)
- This "ism" is the root cause of all "isms"
- Sweeping solvency claims
- "We don't know/can't tell you what X will look like but we're advocating for X"
- Links of omission
Timing is on you. You don't have to count flash drive time but don't be obnoxious. Don't steal prep. I will not pause time if your speech has already started (except if there are serious issues, including tech issues within reason). Don't be disruptive during the other team's prep (even pre round prep). Be respectful to the other team, but especially to your partner.
My name is Aarush Jambunathan, I'm a sophomore at George Mason University. My pronouns are he/him/his. Please let me know what you would like me to refer to you by.
Put me on the chain, my email is firstname.lastname@example.org
WHAT FOLLOWS IS FOR POLICY UNTIL TOLD OTHERWISE
TL;DR for all y'all pre-round point-grabbers (no judgement):
I am a 2N so I like weird args. Don't be actively "-ist" or you will immediately lose and get your speaks punted into the mariana trench; I'm OK with speed as long as I'm on the email chain; If you're spreading and you aren't clear on your tags you will not get good speaks; I don't care if you swear; I value tech over truth 90% of the time IMO; I like arguments like T and FW; If you run a K I am probably not the judge for you - I'm not anti-K but I will rarely vote for a K that I don't understand, so if you run a K please make sure you explain exactly what it is and does in round as it will buoy your chances of victory; Don't read Judge Kick Condo CPs - if they are read against you, any condo bad arg will be held against them no matter how weak so long as it is fully extended; If you wanna run troll arguments go ahead - if you make them funny you might even win.
As a person, I'd like to say that I'm moderately funny and likable, but I guess I'm a biased source on that end. My favorite animal is a Giant Panda, bears in general are just nice. I play the trombone & guitar to varying levels of success, and listen to just about anything you could put on. Yes, I do mean anything. Try me.
My friends tell me I have a more-than-healthy dependence on caffeine, which I'm willing to admit might be true (I have tried many an energy drink and can tell you with great confidence which ones are "good" and which ones are not worth the effort), and I am far from the most athletic person in any given room.
I've lived in India, Singapore, Minnesota(skol vikes), and Virginia over the years, and have broken my right ankle seven separate times by falling down seven separate flights of stairs. I don't know how I managed it, either.
I like to ski.
As for previous debate experience, I've dabbled in Policy, Congress, Big Questions, and a little bit of LD, but I did Congress as my main event. I enjoy it, so please don't trash it. I'm currently doing Policy at GMU.
Now on to my actual paradigm and judging strats, in no major order:
- If you actively make racist/homophobic/transphobic/sexist/etc. comments I will immediately drop you and report you, as well as write what you said on the ballot. If necessary I WILL STOP THE ROUND. Don't be that person. Fake accents count too. If I say something offensive to y'all, call me on it. I don't wanna be rude.
- I couldn't care less if y'all swear in front of me, and I'll probably accidentally swear in front of y'all, so let me know if it's uncomfortable for you. I can't promise it won't slip out, but I'll try my best to censor myself. Apologies in advance.
- If I had to describe myself on the whole "Tech vs. Truth" thing I'd probably value tech over truth 90% of the time, but both are gonna be considered
- If you're gonna spread, please do it at a speed that you're comprehensible at. If you're JV or higher, I expect comprehension and clarity, and if you're Novice or Rookie, I expect at least an effort. Obviously, if you're not in an event that spreads, this doesn't apply.
- I like T, theory, and FW arguments, but you've gotta explain why I should give a crap about whether or not the aff/K/CP is extra-t/abusive. If you don't win a violation and an impact, there's no issue with the argument you're reading against.
- I am not a K debater. I will vote for the K only if I can understand it. If you read a K and cannot describe what it actually does in round, I will rarely vote for it. This is not to say that I am anti-K, nor that I think K args are inherently unfair, but I am not comfortable voting for an argument I know nothing about.
- I hate Judge Kick Condo. Any, and I mean ANY, argument against it will be weighed if it's carried through, no matter how weak. If, by some stroke of freak luck, there is no opposition to this idea by the Aff, I will carry out my duty. I'll be unhappy, but I'll do it. It is NOT MY JOB to kick your arguments for you. I won't vote you down for reading it automatically, but please - as a 2N, there are better args to run.
- If y'all're making an email chain, include me on it. It should be stated up top, but here it is again anyway: email@example.com
- I enjoy seeing someone get roasted as much as the next person, but please refrain from making personal attacks during rounds. If it's an exceptionally good one, you might get a pass or additional speaker points depending on how you're doing in round currently, but otherwise your speaker points will probably go down. Play it safe until you're sure you can absolutely decimate them in one shot.
- I have major RBFS. I promise I'm not mad. If I was mad, you'd know.
- In general, call me on my stuff. I'd be welcome to discuss an RFD with y'all, and I'll explain my reasoning, but attempting to argue my decision after round serves no purpose but actively lowering your speaks.
- First person I judge in a tournament to email me the OK I PULL UP capybara video (the full length one, not the original), a picture of flow paper, and your preferred G2 width and color for Neg in the body of the email as they enter the room gets a crisp high five, barring the violations mentioned above, as a reward for reading the full paradigm.
THIS IS WHEN YOU'RE TOLD OTHERWISE: WHAT FOLLOWS IS EXCLUSIVELY FOR CONGRESS:
- Same general rules of don't be mean as above.
- I really like it when you snarkily rebut another senator/representative, but if you do so please make sure you're snarkily rebutting their argument, and not just straight-up insulting them in round. If it's particularly funny, I may just let it slide, but you certainly won't be getting ranked higher for just roasting somebody on how they dressed. Poke holes in the bill and their speeches!
- While I have access to the packet, I have done no research on the topic. Treat me like I don't know what you're talking about, because I probably don't.
- If you cite a source that's just... terrible(think Alex Jones or the ever-ubiquitous "the times"), then you'll get a lower rank. If you get pressed on it and can make it sound believable, you'll get a better rank just for sheer nerve and for pulling it off.
- If you spread from the get-go in your speech I will not like you. You may still get ranked well, but know that it will not be happily. Spreading should only be done when you're trying to finish a sentence before time gets called, and even then only as a last resort. If you want to spread, compete in policy.
- If you egregiously butcher someone's name, AFTER THEY HAVE CORRECTED YOU, you will not get a good ranking. Take a gander at my name and guess why I have strong opinions about this.
- PO, do your best. As long as you're tracking precedence/recency, you'll probably be ranked(unless you do the above or everyone else in the chamber is just so phenomenal that they push you out of the ranks - a very unlikely scenario.)
- If you want clarification on your ballot, feel free to email me: firstname.lastname@example.org , and I'll try to get back when I can and give whatever addtl. feedback you wanted.
Hope to see y'all in round!
email@example.com - Add me to your chain
My judging philosophy is, merely, I'll vote for the best arguments. If you're thinking, "well duh!" then you'd be right. Here's what I think that means:
I have little preference for Policy over Kritik debates. I'll vote for either and anything in between. It's up to the debaters to articulate to me why their position is best. This involves you explaining your arguments and telling me the story about why your arguments are better than the others. Policy internal link stories need to be, reasonably, believable in order to substantiate terminal impacts. This goes for policy AFF arguments as well as DA's. Additionally, Kritik debates can raise important and interesting advocacy issues that warrant attention. Don't leave the debate open for me to add my interpretation. Your lack of explaining the arguments is not grounds for me to default to your position.
Framework debates can be interesting ways to engage with questions about what the debate round (or debate in general) should be about. Tell me why your particular framework is advantageous to the debate and do the work explaining why I should prefer it over your opponent's.
Much like framework, I think T is a legitimate argument but not the end all be all. A NEG T argument against a performance AFF is legitimate for debate. The AFF needs to engage the T arguments and the NEG needs to defend their position. Even if I disagree with the T's interpretation, I'll vote for it if there is a clear interpretation and technically sound. Don't think this means performance AFF's are at a disadvantage, I suspect performance positions are prepared to engage the T debate and the Kritik arguments against T are equally legitimate.
We can go line-by-line about the specific parts of the debate in round. I see my job as the in-round judge to determine who is making the better arguments in the debate. You need to do the work to win the ballot. Please feel free to ask away but, generally speaking, I don't think one kind of argument is "weaker" than others. All are worth legitimate consideration.
My background is as a former policy debater for West Point. I have a background in both running straight up policy args and Kritik args.
Please add me to the email firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Currently the Assistant Director of Debate at JMU. I debated on the local Missouri Circuit as a high school student and debated for 3 years at UCF when they still had a policy team (2011-2014). I coached Berkeley Prep for 2 years while in college, coached JMU as a grad student, took some time off to finish my PhD, and have recently returned to debate.
My decision-making process/how I approach debates:
I tend to prioritize solvency/links first when evaluating a debate. I think it's totally possible to win zero risk of an impact and I'm definitely willing to vote on presumption (but if that's your strategy I expect you to do the work to make it explicit).
I like well-explained, smart arguments. I would rather hear you explain something well with good examples than read a ton of cards that all say the same thing. I'll stick as close to the flow as I can and judge the debate based on how the debaters tell me to judge.
An argument has a claim, warrant, and impact. Dropped things only matter if you make them matter. It is your job to frame the voting issues in the round for me and make it clear how I should weigh arguments against one another.
I prefer to minimize how much evidence I read after the round. I expect you to do more than shadow extend things. If all I have on my flow by the end of the round is an author name, I'm not hunting that card down to figure out the warrant for you.
I flow on paper and line things up on my flow. Please give me sufficient pen time on analytics, signpost, and keep things organized. If I am unable to get something on my flow because you did not do these things or because you were not clear, that's a you problem. I will always do my best to get everything written down, even if it's in the wrong place, but it will make it more difficult for me to meaningfully weigh arguments against each other, which means longer decision times and probably worse decisions.
I don't flow CX, but will pay attention throughout CX and jot down notes if something particularly important/eye-catching seems to be happening. If something occurs in CX that you want me to vote on, it needs to make it into a speech.
I do not follow the speech doc while flowing. I may have the document open and refer to specific cards if they are referenced in CX, but I won't be flowing from your doc or reading your evidence along with you during your speech.
If you play music/videos/etc. while you are speaking, please ensure the volume of the music is substantially quieter than the volume of your voice. I have some auditory processing issues that make it extremely difficult for me to understand people's voices while there is any kind of background noise. I want to flow and evaluate your arguments, but I can't do that if I can't process your words.
I vote on things that happened during the debate. I do not vote on things that the other team (or their friends, coaches, squad-mates, acquaintances, enemies, etc.) did during pre-round prep, in the hallway yesterday, at the bar last tournament, this morning at the hotel, etc. I will not attempt to adjudicate interpersonal events I was not present to witness.
I generally think debate is good. That doesn't mean I think debate is perfect. There are absolutely valid critiques of debate that should be addressed, and I think there is value in pushing this activity to be the best version of itself. However, if your arguments rely on the assumption that debate is irredeemably bad, I'm probably not the right judge for you. I think you need a model of debate that you think is desirable and achievable within the confines of an activity in which two sides argue with each other and at the end one side is selected as a winner.
Most debaters would benefit from slowing down by about 20%. Not because speed is bad, but because few debaters are actually clear enough for the average judge to get a good flow when you're going at 100% speed.
Examples, examples, examples. If you take one thing away from my paradigm, it is that I like to be given examples. What does your theory look like in practice? What kinds of plans are included/excluded under your T interp? Etc.
Please do not assume I know what your acronyms/etc mean. If I don't know what the bill/organization/event you're talking about is, I'm not sure how I'm supposed to evaluate your link story.
I will open the speech doc, but will not necessarily follow along. I may look at a card if something spicy happens in CX, if you're referring to a card in a rebuttal, etc., but I do not look at or flow from the doc. If you are not clear enough for me to flow without looking at your doc, I will not fill in gaps from the doc.
I take ethics challenges extremely seriously. I consider them to be an accusation of academic dishonesty equivalent to plagiarism in a class. Just like any other instance of academic dishonesty, ethics violations can have serious consequences for debaters and programs, and the perception that our activity condones such behavior could have serious repercussions for the survival of our activity. If an ethics challenge is issued, that is the end of the debate. If the tournament invitation includes a protocol for handling ethics challenges, I will follow the tournament rules. If the tournament does not have a clear set of protocols, I will clarify that an ethics challenge has been issued, make a determination in regards to the challenge, and either vote for the team issuing the challenge or for the team against whom the challenge was issued.
Because of the seriousness of ethics challenges, I consider it the responsibility of the team issuing the challenge to 1) prove that a violation (defined as card clipping or intentionally manufacturing or mis-representing the source or content of evidence) occurred and 2) provide a reasonable degree of evidence that the violation was intentional or malicious (i.e., I do not consider someone mumbling/stumbling over words because they were tired to be the same thing as intentional card clipping, and do not think it should have the same consequences).
That said, I understand that proving intent beyond a reasonable doubt is an impossible standard. I do not expect you to prove exactly what was going on in the other team's mind when the event happened. However, you should be able to show that the other team reasonably should have known that the cite was wrong, the text was missing, etc. and chose to engage in the behavior knowing that it was unethical. I do not think we should be accusing people of academic dishonesty as a strategy to win a round. I also do not think we should be engaging in cheating behavior to win rounds. No one debater's win record is worth more than the continued health of our activity as a whole. If we would like this activity to continue, we must have ethical standards, including not cheating and not frivolously accusing people of cheating.
These are relative for each division (e.g., what I consider an "average performance" that gets a 28.3 in novice will be different from what I think of as an "average performance" that gets a 28.3 in varsity)
29.5-30: You should be in the top 3 speakers at the tournament. I can count the number of performances I have seen that are worthy of above a 29.5 on one hand.
29-29.5: This was an incredible performance. I expect you to be in late out rounds at this tournament and/or to win a speaker award
28.5-29: This was an above-average performance. Something about your speeches/CXs impressed me. Keep this up and I anticipate you will clear.
28-28.5: This was an average performance. You had some good moments, but nothing incredible happened.
27.5-28: I like your attitude. Some rough things happened during this round. Maybe you dropped an off-case position, only read blocks, were extremely unclear, etc.
Below a 27.5: Something majorly wrong has happened in this round. You failed to participate meaingfully in the debate and/or failed to demonstrate basic human decency toward other people in the room.
Yes, please. I love a good case debate, particularly when it is grounded in specific and detailed analysis of what the aff claims their plan/advocadcy does vs what their cards actually say.
I judge a lot of these debates, and enjoy them. Ultimately, these are debates about what we think debate should be. Because of that, I think you need a clear description of what your model of debate looks like, what it includes/excludes, and why that's a good thing.
Debate is an educational activity unlike any other, and I think that's a good thing. I generally default to believing education is the most important impact in these debates, but can absolutely be persuaded that something else (i.e. fairness) should come first.
Despite what I just said, I think the competitive nature of debate is also good, which means there should probably be at least some parameters for what the activity looks like that allows both sides a reasonable shot at winning. What that looks like is up for debate.
I prefer affirmatives with some clear tie to the resolution. That doesn't mean you have to fiat a topical plan text, but I do think it means debate is better when the affirmative is at least in the direction of the topic and/or about the same general content as the resolution.
Your TVA needs to actually access whatever offense the aff is leveraging against T. Lots of TVAs fail this test. I think a good TVA can be super important, but a bad TVA is typically a complete waste of time.
Against policy affs, I think giving me specific examples of ground you lost (not just "we lost some DAs" but "We specifically couldn't read these 2 core DAs and this core CP") is important. If you can show in-round abuse via spiking out of links, that would be ideal.
Please give me pen time.
If your counterplan has a bajillion hyper-specific planks, you need to slow down enough for me to at least get an idea of what they are in the 1NC.
I like counterplans that are specific, well-researched, and have a clear basis in a solvency advocate. I don't love counterplans that have a million planks that are not clearly explained until the block or the 2nr and are not grounded in some kind of solvency advocate/literature.
You should be able to clearly articulate how the implementation of the CP works. I think most aff teams should spend more time articulating solvency deficits based on the negative team's inability or refusal to articulate what the implementation process of the CP looks like in comparison to the aff.
I think conditionality is good, within reason. I think PICs are good, within reason. I think multi-actor fiat, counterplans with a zillion planks, etc. are probably not great, but generally are reasons to reject the argument, not the team. I can be convinced that any of the above opinions are wrong, given the right arguments by either team.
Please make clear what your acronyms mean, what your specific link story is, etc. early in the debate. I don't spend a ton of time judging giant big-stick policy rounds, so I'm probably not as versed in this literature as you. Please don't make me spend 20 minutes after the debate trying to decipher your impact scenario. Give me a very clear explanation in the 2nc/1nr overview.
I think the aff gets to weigh their impacts if they prove that the ideas underwriting those impacts are good and accurate. I think the neg gets links to the aff's reps/discourse/etc. I think the negative needs to win a specific link to the aff (i.e., not just to the status quo) and also either that the links are sufficient to undermine the aff's internal links or that the alternative can resolve the links. I don't think any of those statements are particularly controversial.
The role of the ballot is to decide who did the better debating in this round. Always. How I should evaluate what counts as "better debating" is up for debate, but I am pretty unsympathetic to obviously self-serving roles of the ballot.
If you say the phrase "vote aff to vote neg" or "vote neg to vote aff" in a round I am judging, you owe me $10.
John Katsulas, Director of Debate, Boston College
30 years coaching
Here are the rules for debate:
1) The affirmative side must advocate a plan of action by the United States Federal Government. If you merely read poetry, dance, or play music, you will lose.
2) The negative side must defend a consistent policy position in the debate. The negative may choose to defend the status quo, or the negative may advocate an unconditional counterplan.
3) Topicality is a voting issue and never a reverse voting issue.
4) Conditionality is prohibited.
5) The resolution is worded as a policy proposition, which means that policy making is the focus of debate.
6) Kritiques are not welcome.
7) Performance-style debate belongs in theatre productions.
Here are suggestions for debating in front of me:
1) The affirmative side has huge presumption on topicality if they can produce contextual evidence to prove their plan is topical.
2) Agent counterplans are fine. Don’t waste your time arguing PICS bad arguments against them. The legitimacy of international fiat is debatable, but I definitely believe there are far stronger arguments favoring limiting fiat to U.S. governmental actors.
3) Politics disadvantages are welcome. I like to hear them. Affirmatives should attack the internal link stories on many of these disadvantages. This is frequently a more viable strategy than just going for impact turns.
4) Both sides should argue solvency against affirmative plans and negative counterplans. Both sides should attack the links and internal links of impacts.
5) If you are incomprehensible, I won’t re-read all of your evidence after the debate to figure out your arguments.
6) Negative can win my ballot on zero risk of affirmative case solvency. Many affirmatives cases are so tragically flawed that they can be beaten by an effective cross-examination and/or analytical case presses.
7) I am very strict on 1ARs making new answers to fully developed disadvantages which don’t change from the 1NC.
8) Cross-examination answers are binding.
9) ASPEC: I won’t vote on it UNLESS you ask in cross-ex and they refuse to specify an agent.
10) Too late to add new links and impacts to your disadvantages during the first negative rebuttal.
I have a low threshold for dismissing non-real world arguments like nuclear war good and wipe-out.
SHORTEST VERSION: THINGS I BELIEVE ABOUT DEBATE
Lawful Good -----|----Neutral Good -----|----Chaotic Good
1AC Plan Texts, ----|----- Case Debate,------|----Performance Debate,
Open Debaters -----|----Novice Debaters----|----JV Debaters
Lawful Neutral ---|---True Neutral------|---- Chaotic Neutral
Topicality -----------|----Counterplans ------|------Dispositionality
Lawful Evil -------|----Neutral Evil ------|-----Chaotic Evil
Framework args ---|----Standard Nuke ----|----- Baudrillard
from 1996 that ----|---- War Disad
say no K's
You are prepping and don't have time to read everything, or interpret. So this is the stuff you most need to know if you don't know me :
1) I run The New School program. The New School is in the Northeast, around the corner from NYU where I actually work full time. (CEDA has Regions, not Districts. The NDT and the Hunger Games have Districts.) I care about things like novice and regional debate, and pretty much only coach for resource poor program. You need to know this because it affects how I view your ETHOS on certain "who are we" arguments.
2) Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Skip the rant below about want/need to be on chain.
3)SLOW THE HELL DOWN ONLINE. I flow on paper. I need PEN TIME. I am not reading along with the doc unless the connection gets bad or I have serious misgivings.
4) Do what you need to do to make the tech work.
5) Do what you do in this activity. Seriously, especially in novice, or on a panel, you are not 100% adapting to me, so change how you debate those things a bit maybe, but not what you debate. To help with that:
6) Yes, my threshold for "is there gonna be a nuclear war" is WAY higher than it is for "what we talk about in the debate round going to affect us personally". I will vote on the wars, but I don't enjoy every debate about prolif in countries historically opposed to prolif. That isn't "realism" - that's hawk fetish porn. So if this IS you, you gotta do the internal link work, not read me 17 overly-lined down uniqueness cards.
7) I am more OFTEN in K rounds, but honestly I am more of a structural K person than a high theory person. Yes, debate is all simulacranow anyway, but racism and sexism - and the violence caused by them - ARE REAL WORLD. Your ability to talk about such things and how they relate to policies is probably one of your better portable skills for the modern world in this activity.
8) Performance good. Literally, I have 2 degrees in theater. Keep in mind that it means I am pretty well read on this as theory. All debate is performance. (Heck, life is performance, but you don't have time for that now...). My pet peeve as a coach is reading through all the paradigm that articulate performance and Kritikal as the same thing. It.Is.Not. Literally, it is Form vs. Content.
9) Winning Framework does not will a ballot. Winning Framework tells me how to prioritize or include or exclude arguments for my calculation of the ballot. T is NOT Framework (but for the record I err towards Education over Fairness, because this activity just ain't fair due to resource disparity, etc, so do the WORK to win on Fairness via in round trade offs, precedents, or models.)
10) Have fun. Debate can be stressful. Savor the community you can in current times.
PS: I am probably more flow focused than you think, BUT I still prefer the big picture. Tell me a story. It has to make sense for my ballot.
Last Year's Version
The 2020 Preamble:
1) Bear with my tech for September for the first round of each day - I work across multiple universities and I am still sorting out going across 3 Zoom accounts, 5 emails accounts, and 2 Starfish accounts for any given thing. Working from home for 6 months combined my day-job stuff into my debate stuff, so I may occasionally have to remember to do a setting. This is like the worst version of a Reese's peanut butter cup.
2) Look, it would be great if I COULD see you as you debate. I am old - I flow what you say and I don't read along with the speech doc unless something bad is happening (bad things include potential connection issues in 2020, concerns over academic integrity/skipping words, and you don't actually do evidence comparison as a debater when weighing your cards and theirs). I don't anticipate changing that in the online debate world. But also, tech disparity and random internet gremlins are real things (that's why we need so many cats in the intertubes), so I ALSO understand if you tell me the camera is off for reasons. That's cool.
3) Because of connections and general practices - SLOW DOWN. CLARITY is super important. (Also, don't be a jerk to people with auditory accommodation needs as we do this). Trade your speed drills for some tongue twisters or something.
4) Recording as a back up is probably a necessary evil, but any use of the recording after a round that is shared to anyone else needs explicit - in writing, and can be revoked - permission of all parties present. PRACTICE AFFIRMATIVE CONSENT. See ABAP statement on online debate practices.
5) I have never wanted to be on the email chain/what-not; however, I SHOULD* be on the chain/what-not. Note the critical ability to distinguish these two things, and the relevance of should to the fundamental nature of this activity. Email for this purpose: email@example.com .
(Do not try to actually contact me with this address - it’s just how I prevent the inevitable electronically transmitted cyber infection from affecting me down the road, because contrary to popular belief, I do understand disads, I just have actual probability/internal link threshold standards.)
((And seriously Tabroom, what the F***? First you shill for the CIA, and now you want to edit the words because "children" who regularly talk about mass deaths might see some words I guarantee you then know already? I was an actual classroom teacher....debate should not be part of the Nanny State. Also this is NEW, because the word A****** used to be in my paradigm in reference to not being one towards people who ask for accessibility accommodations. ARRGGHHH!!!))
Things I am cool with:
Tell met the story
Critical Lit (structural criticisms are more my jam)
Performative strategies - especially if we get creative with the 20-21 format options.
CP fun times and clever intersections of theory
A text. Preferable a well written text. Unless there are no texts.
Not half-assing going for theory
You do you
Latin used in context for specific foreign policy conditions.
Teaching Assurance/Deterrence with cats.
Things that go over less well:
Accidentally sucking your own limited time by unstrategic or functionally silly theory
Critical lit (high theory … yes, I know I only have myself to blame, so no penalty if this is your jelly, just more explanation)
Multiple contradictory conditional neg args
A never ending series of non existent nuclear wars that I am supposed to determine the highest and fastest probability of happening (so many other people to blame). You MAY compare impacts as equal to "x number of gender reveal parties".
Not having your damn tags with the ev in the speech doc. Seriously.
As a general note: Winning framework does not necessarily win you a debate - it merely prioritizes or determines the relevancy of arguments in rounds happening on different levels of debate. Which means, the distinction between policy or critical or performative is a false divide. If you are going to invoke a clash of civilizations mentality there should be a really cool video game analogy or at least someone saying “Release the Kraken”. A critical aff is not necessarily non Topical - this is actually in both the Topic Paper for alliances/commitments and a set of questions I asked at the topic meeting (because CROSS EX IS A PORTABLE SKILL). Make smarter framework arguments here.
Don't make the debate harder for yourself.
Try to have fun and savor the moment.
*** *** ***
*Judges should be on the chain/what-not for two reasons: 1)as intelligence gathering for their own squad and 2) to expedite in round decision making. My decisions go faster than most panels I’m on when I am the one using prep time to read through the critical extended cards BEFORE the end of the debate. I almost never have the docs open AS the debaters are reading them because I limit my flow to what you SAY. (This also means I don’t read along for clipping … because I am far more interested in if you are a) comprehensible and b) have a grammatical sentence in some poor overhighlighted crap.) Most importantly, you should be doing the evidence comparisons verbally somehow, not relying on me to compare cards after the debate somehow. If I wanted to do any of that, I would have stayed a high school English teacher and assigned way more research papers.
Updated for 2014-2015 debate season.
I am no longer awarding points for people taking the veg pledge. However, I still strongly believe that if you care about the environment, racism, or injustice that you should register at tournaments vegetarian or vegan. Tournaments will provide for your nutiritional needs and you will have abstained from using your registration fees paying for the slaughter of sentient creatures whose death requires abhorent working conditions for people of color, massive greenhouse gas emissions, and the death of individuals.
What people decide to consume is a political act, not a personal one. Deciding to consume flesh at debate tournaments continues the pattern of accepting violence and discrimination. This happens for workers, for people living in food deserts, people living in countries across the world, and for the non/human animals sent to slaughter. Tournaments are not food deserts. Your choice to consume differently can make a tangible impact on debate as a community and beyond. Your choice has global and local ramifications. I urge you to make the correct choice in registering your dietary choice even if it has no impact on your speaker points. Several people said that they didn't want to be coerced into making the decision to go vegetarian or vegan at tournaments for speaker points. Now is your chance to make that choice without the impact of speaker points.
All that being said, how you choose to debate is a political choice as well. You can debate however you like but you should realize that the methodology and the content you put forth are not neutral choices. Whatever choices you make you should be ready to defend them in round. “As Stuart and Elizabeth Ewen emphasize in Channels of Desire: The politics of consumption must be understood as something more than what to buy, or even what to boycott. Consumption is a social relationship, the dominant relation-ship in our society – one that makes it harder and harder for people to hold together, to create community. At a time when for many of us the possibility of meaningful change seems to elude our grasp, it is a question of immense social and political proportions.” (hooks 376).
If it is not already clear, I will say it outright: I view debate as a space for education, activism, and social justice. This does not mean I won't vote on framework or counterplans. What it does mean is that the arguments that I will find most appealing are those arguments that speak to how traditional approaches to debate are beneficial to us as individuals to create a better world. It is not that fairness is irrelevant, but that fairness is relevant only to that extent. Fairness plays a part in constructing meaninful education and activism but is not the sole standard to enable good debate. Concepts of fairness are not value-neutral but it is a debate that can be defend and won in front of me since I do not think fairness is irrelevant either. For teams breaking down such structures, you still must win the debate that your approach to debate is better for advacing causes of social justice. If you like policymaking and are running counterplans you merely need to win that your counterplan is a better approach. The same applies for theory violations. I will vote on them if you win that the impact to the violation is important enough for me to pull the trigger. The same is also true for kritiks and other styles of debate. Win that your approach and your argument deserves to win because of the impact that it has.
Again, to be clear, this does not mean that I intend to abandon the flow or vote based upon my personal beliefs. My belief is that debate is more than a game and that the things we say and do in it are not neutral-choices. This does not necessarily mean that so-called traditional policy debate is bad but that the way it should be approached by those teams should not be assumed to be neutral.
Whether it is what you eat, or what you debate, your choice is political. Our world can change. It is up to all of us to make it happen. Movements are already happening all around us. Don't let the norms dictate what you debate or what you consume. Debate should be at the forefront of these initiatives. Use the education you gain in debate to say something and to do something meaningful both in round and beyond.
I debated at the University of Georgia for four years and wasn't good. I have been coaching at Binghamton for two years. I am PhD student in philosophy. I love debate as an educational activity even if I favor its critical/emanciaptory disposition highly. I enjoy working with both varsity and novices. In the latter case, I'm happy to spend the time to explain the idiosyncratic stuff that we do in debate.
Policy vs. Policy: If I'm here, someone has screwed up their prefs.
Policy vs. K: I'm happy to vote tech over truth in a lot of cases, but the one place that I probably have strong opinions is that I think that education is the point of this activity. Teams that say that 'debate is bad' without an independent articulation of the value of a ballot are on a par with teams that argue that fairness is a real impact. They are on a par because neither team is giving a substantive argument in favor of their framework as a model not simply for debaters can engage with one another but why they should engage with one another in the specified way.
Also, impact calc matters a lot. Policy teams by and large don't know what util is. K teams need to do judge instruction if I'm not defaulting to being a policy maker, etc.
K vs. K: Specificity is sovereign. We all know the buzz words. If you're in a method debate, then indict the method. Making sweeping ontological claims without specific engagement with the aff is bad debating. Not explaining a permutation and just relying on shiftiness is bad debating.
Theory: I err slightly conservative, but I'll vote on it if you spend the time on it.
Add me to the email chain at firstname.lastname@example.org
CatNats Update: Forgot to update this - oh well. The ensuing philosophy is dated. The bottom line is, "I have experience. It's your activity. Make good arguments."
Experience: 4 years debating at Marist, 2 years coaching at Pepperdine, intermittent coaching at UWashington and Seattle high schools. Currently at Dutchess Community College coaching full-service.
After a brief hiatus and exodus from the Northeast, I'm back! I think judging philosophies are a good thing, but I've been out for so long that it's difficult for me to put into words what I'm "looking for." Moreover, I don't think that debate is about what I'm "looking for" (debaters don't debate for my edification), but it's about what students want to get out of it.
So, here's the old 2011-2012 version with changes applied as needed:
"Despite my sincerest efforts, I am still not the fastest of flows. As a result, I tend to look at rounds/speeches in a more holistic fashion and am not super-persuaded by arguments about line-by-line drops as concessions. Conceptual drops, however, still apply. Keep it clear and this shouldn't really be a problem.
Also, a few thoughts on niceness... I might be one to say that a little bit of antagonism is good in debate but I place the emphasis on the "little" as opposed to "antagonism." Let's face it - you're competing and you don't have to be all buddy-buddy with the opposite team (if you want to be, awesome!). It's cool to show that you know what you're talking about in CX but it's an entirely different thing to be an outright jerk. The whole "eye rolling/raising the voice/acting generally disgusted by the other team" thing just doesn't fly with me. Your speaks will probably reflect this if it gets to be too much. Snarky comments during the RFD also don't fly (and it perceptually discredits your skills as a debater...).
I debated for Marist and we were kind of non-traditional in our lines of argumentation. But, this doesn’t mean that I’m all about the K or non-traditional debate. Make sense? I hope so.
Anyway, I’m a sucker for a good, well-warranted debate. You have two hours to make me vote for you – and I’m not going to do the work for you. This probably means that you shouldn’t run your blippy DAs, framework, or shallowly articulated Ks in front of me. This also means that you shouldn’t run a K and assume I understand what your author’s talking about or run a DA and assume I keep up with every current event imaginable. Debate is about understanding the “why”s of a situation – not about spitting out as many cards as possible.
If you’re running T or framework, give me tangible reasons why I should vote for you – none of this “potential abuse” nonsense. I typically don’t buy “fairness” as a valid argument. If you’re on the flip-side of the T/framework debate, impact turns are a good route to go. Tons of arguments about how the other team is “excluding” you? Not so much.
As for those of you wondering if you should run a K or a DA/CP… either one is fine. Just explain it well. See my call above for warrants. I'm relatively well-versed in critical literature (lots of crit. ped. and cultural theory...) and am usually up-to-date, current events-wise.
And, if you’re wondering if your performance/non-traditional arguments are “safe” in front of me – yeah, they are. But, just because you sing/dance/read a poem/talk about identity, it doesn’t mean I have to vote for you. Give me the reasons why this is important, just like you would for a straight-up position. To me, performance/non-trad needs “solvency”, like any other argument. An example? It’s fine to talk about why the topic is bad – now what are you going to do about it…?
I'm fairly expressive non-verbally as a critic. If I look absolutely perplexed or stop flowing, there's definitely a reason why. Take that in-round feedback and tailor your arguments accordingly. It might mean that you have to take a step back and explain your argument with a little bit more depth but it'll be worth it. I promise."
Yes, include me on the email chain. email@example.com
Brooklyn Tech: 2011 - 2012 (those three novice UDL tournaments apparently count), 2017 - 2021 (coach)
NYU: 2014 - 2018
The New School: 2018-2020 (coach)
***I used to keep my video off for rounds, but I've since learned that it's a mistake for the morale of the debater as well as for confirming whether or not I'm actually in the room. If my camera is off, I am not in the room. Please do not start speaking***
In case you're pressed for time
1. Do you. Have fun. Don't drop an important argument.
2. If there is an impact in the 2NR/2AR, there's a high chance you've won the debate in front of me. I like going for the easy way out and impacts give me the opportunity to do that. Impact comparisons are good too. NEG - LINKS to those impacts matter. AFF - how you SOLVE those impacts matter. Outside of that context, I'm not sure how I should evaluate.
3. I flow on paper, so please don't be upset if I miss arguments because you're slurring your words or making 17 arguments/minute.
4. Don't assume I know the acronyms or theories you're talking about, even if I do. This is a persuasion activity, so no shortcuts to persuading me.
5. Obviously, I have biases, but I try not to let those biases influence how I decide a round. Usually, if debaters can't accomplish #2, then I'll be forced to. I prefer to go with the flow though.
6. If at the end of the round, you find yourself wanting to ask my opinion on an argument that you thought was a round winner, know that I have one of two answers: I didn't consider it or I didn't hear it. Usually, it's the latter. So try not to make 5 arguments in 20 seconds.
**ONLINE DEBATE**: You don't need to yell into your mic. I can hear you fine. In fact, yelling into your mic might make it harder for me to hear you. Which means you may lose. Which is bad. For you.
**PF ONLY**: I didn't care about your Sunday best in person and I care even less about it online. If you want to keep your camera off when I'm judging, it's fine (particularly if your connection isn't strong). You're not going to lose the round or lose speaks for it. Also, I don't know why asking for evidence isn't done in advance or automatically considered taking prep time. Just know that, in front of me, if it takes more than 2 minutes to ask for evidence, it's coming out of your prep. And 3 minutes is not a lot of prep to begin with.
If you're not so pressed for time
I debated for four years at NYU and ran mostly soft left affs. I think that means I'm a pretty good judge for these types of affs and it also means I'm probably able to tell if there is a genuine want for a discussion about structural violence impacts or if they're just tacked on because K debaters are scary.
I do think debate is a game, but I also think people should be allowed to modify the "rules" of the game if they're harmful or just straight up unlikeable. I guess now would also be a good time to point I'm a game designer, so I like thinking about the implications of declaring debate to be "just" a game or "more than" a game. Now to the important stuff.
Speed: Through a card, I'll tolerate it. Through a tag or analytics, I'll be pretty annoyed. And so will you, because I'll probably miss something important that could cost you the round. When reading a new card, either verbally indicate it ("and" or "next") or change your tone to reflect it.
Planless affs: Even in a game, some people just don't want to defend the government. And that's perfectly okay. But I would like the aff to be relevant to the current topic. I feel like some affs are just random backfile cards put together with slightly altered tags. Not a big fan of those, but I'll still vote for them if I'm convinced enough in a round.
CP: Wasn't really much of a CP debater and I don't really coach teams that run CPs, except the basic novice ones that come in a starter kit. I think they're a fine argument and am willing to vote on them.
DA: You could never go wrong with a good DA. DAs, when run correctly, have a really good, linear story that can be extended in the neg block and could be used to effectively handle aff answers. Feel free to go crazy.
Ks: I can't think of a neg round where I didn't run a K. I've run cap, security, queerness, my aff, and some variations of Black feminism. But please, do not talk to me as if I know your K. If you're running pomo, I most definitely don't know your K and will need to be talked through it with analogies and examples. If you're running an identity K, I probably do know your K but expect the same from you as I expect from a pomo debater. Cap, security - you get the memo.
T: My favorite neg arg as a senior. I'm always down for a good T debate. I do think that sometimes it's used as a cop-out, but I also think that some affs aren't forwarding any sort of plan or advocacy. Just stating an FYI and a neg can't really argue against that. So T becomes the winning strategy.
Framework: Not exactly the same as T, but I still **like** it. If you're a non-Black debater, I do not care what variation of Framework (or T) you're running in front of me. Just call it framework.
Theory: Important, but the way debaters speed through their theory shells makes me question just how important it is. Again, slow down when reading theory in front of me so it's actually an option for you at the end of the round.
Most likely, if you've had me as a judge, then you know my timer. This is where I downloaded it from (and yes, it's wrestling-related): https://youtu.be/-TkA3ObTSLc
Ian Lowery (also goes by "Izzy" and/or "Bishop"),
Assistant Director of Debate at George Mason University (2022 - Present).
Former Policy Debater at George Mason University (2014 - 2018).
Former Assistant Coach for James Madison University (2020 - 2022).
Top Level: I believe that my role as the judge is to absorb the information provided within the round and decide who wins based on the debater's ability to explain and defend their positions. Do whatever you were going to do before you saw my name on the pairing. Treat the following as proclivities that may make my decision easier or increase your speaker points.
I mostly ran kritical arguments during my time as a debater. In my earlier years I did traditional policy but most of my relevant experience is with the K.
Tech over Truth - I feel strange about the fact that I need to specify this but I believe in voting on the flow. I'm not the best flow, but I try. And unless I am more than 85% sure that a statement or argument is universally false, it can be debated and proven true on the flow. Beyond that, I will still try to be unbiased in my evaluation your argument, but you're rolling the dice.
- Examples of what breaks my 85% threshold: "Death Good" or Wipeout - The concept that the outcome of a debate can constitute a denial of anyone's existence or directly harm their ability to exist - Not all, but most out of round spillover claims - Reverse voting issues - Spec Arguments -
- I will evaluate arguments which suggest that I should not flow or not decide the round based on traditional policy argumentation standards - but their needs to be a clearly articulated net benefit to doing that (better pedagogy, more accessibility, etc.) - and I need to be given an alternative method of evaluating the truth-value of arguments. Otherwise, I don't see how I won't just end up voting on the flow anyway or flipping a coin to decide who wins.
Conduct - Don't be a jerk. It's alright to be aggressive, but have a point behind it. At it's core, I think debate is a game, so everyone should have fun.
Time - I don't keep track of time well in my personal life or in debates. Please don't rely on me for that. Keep track of your own and your opponent's time.
E-mail Chain - Yeah, put me on it: firstname.lastname@example.org
Topicality - See Section 3.01 of Judd Kimball's paradigm. Please slow down on the analytics for me. I default to competing interpretations but find myself easily swayed by reasonability in some instances.
Theory - I like theory debates. It's often a viable path to victory in most debates when I'm in the back.
Counterplans - I'm fine with most CPs. Not a huge fan of process, delay, or conditional multiplank CPs. Judge kicking isn't really my thing (I will if the neg says I should and the aff doesn't respond, but don't expect me to on default).
Kritiks - I prefer alts that actually claim to do something. I don't like links of omission. Argue your position well and prove that you have an understanding of your literature base = I will probably want to vote for you.
Kritical Aff's/Framework - I am willing to vote on alternative interpretations of debate or turns to framework. I don't consider "fairness" an impact by default, but certainly can be convinced to vote for it if well impacted in the round. If the Aff doesn't have any clear bridge to the topic/resolution, I'll be more sympathetic to fairness arguments.
If you have any questions, hmu at email@example.com
Let me start with the two most important words: be civil!
My own experiences with debate are fairly well-rounded. I started as a policy debater doing speed debate in the CEDA circuits. I then went on to coach at two universities that competed in NEDA, where debaters have to be more audience-friendly and consider quality delivery in both public forum (crossfire) and policy debates. My experiences with LD debate, on the other hand, come mostly as judge, and while I have experience with speed debating in my past, I am still catching back up a bit.
Regardless of the debate format, I personally approach judging from a tabula rasa mentality. I won't make an argument or a connection for you, even if it seems painfully obvious to me. I will entertain any kind of argument (from technical arguments to K's), but I appreciate debaters who can directly weigh the sides against one another and value impact calculus.
As I already alluded to, I am a major proponent of civility in debate which I feel is too often ignored. I expect students to maintain civil discourse with one another in spite of their passion.
I competed in policy debate many years ago for Kansas and coached Lincoln Douglas debate for Penn State the past five years. This is my first year as a CEDA/NDT coach/judge. As an argumentation instructor, I value the quality of evidence and arguments. So, if challenged I will examine the evidence (all of it including the unhighlighted and minimized sections) in the round—best say what you claim it says. I also want to hear warranted arguments, not labels –i.e. just saying “education” on topicality is not sufficient. I, to the best of my ability, adopt the perspective of tabula rasa and will listen to any argument presented in the debate, EXCEPT I still retain common sense. If you tell me the sky is green with orange polka dots, I won’t buy it.
As mentioned, any types of arguments (Ks, counterplans, topicality, etc.) are accepted and can win you the debate, if you convince me why your position is best. I expect to hear an explanation for how you have won in your team’s final rebuttal. Plan-less affs are not my favorite, but I will listen. Not fond of PICs, but again I will listen.
I don’t view debate as a “game”. I perceive it to be an educational activity in which the participants demonstrate their acumen, analytical and argumentative abilities.
Be smart, be civil, have fun.
Online for NDT
I debated for four years in high school and three years at Liberty. I debated as both a 2A and 2N (double 1’s and 2’s in high school at different points). I mostly debated a “CP and politics” type strategy on the neg and also enjoyed going for T and theory when it was strategic. I did read the K sometimes though.
I try my best to let the arguments in the debate determine how I evaluate the round although I will admit that I have biases that can influence how I view certain arguments. I have included some opinions that I hope you will find useful in specifically tailoring your arguments to me. I am flow centric. I enjoy clash. I believe that both sides should have an equal opportunity to win the round, so while not defending a “policy action” (ie not having a plan text) doesn’t mean you will automatically lose in front of me, I believe that if pressed, you should have some sort of a division of “ground” that enables the opposing side an equal chance to win (I believe in “fairness”). I believe that having to argue in favor of something you don’t believe is beneficial (“switch side debate is good”). I have a minimal threshold for arguments for me to evaluate them, they must have a warrant that makes sense. It is important for you to talk about impacts and compare them to the other side’s impacts on all arguments. I do not evaluate arguments that aren’t in the last two rebuttals. I don’t think debates should get personal, it should be about the arguments, not the people. I try not to have to read evidence, I prefer it to be explained and impacted in the debate, “call for this card after the round” is not an argument, explaining the warrants of the evidence in question is a more productive use of your time.
T + Theory
I will vote on T/Theory. I lean towards competing interpretations on T and that Condo is usually ok (1 CP and 1 K). I ere Aff on T, Neg on Theory. Please remember to impact these arguments, it’s not a “Voter” just because you say it is. T is not a reverse voter. Please be aware of argument interaction between different theory arguments.
CX starts (my timer starts) promptly after the end of the constructive speech. Open CX is fine, however I feel that it is best to not engage in it whenever possible. I think the CX is an underutilized speech, and good questions are often not turned into arguments, it is important to turn CX questions and answers into arguments during a speech. I don’t flow CX but I do pay attention. CX greatly influences how I award my speaker points.
I like clever PIC’s (not word PIC’s). I ran SC CP and politics a lot. However, I’ve been doing some thinking about agent CP’s, and the more I think about them the more I think they aren’t competitive (if the agent is within the USFG). Obviously this is a debate to be had and I can be persuaded either way. I am not a fan of delay or multiple CP’s (the exception to the multiple CP’s is if you are reading advantage CP’s and/or unconditional CP’s). In the 1NC, please SLOW DOWN when reading your CP text so I know what the CP is, thank you in advance. For conditional CP’s, unless the 2NR explicitly says that the SQ is still an option, if you go for the CP I transition into Plan vs CP framework in which the CP must be net beneficial to warrant a neg ballot.
I am not the biggest fan of the K. That being said, I will and have vote/d for/on the K, I would say that I just have a high threshold for the level of explanation that needs to occur for these kinds of arguments to be persuasive and make sense. I do not appreciate a bunch of post modern jargon; the simpler you can explain your K the better. Please explain what your alternative is and what voting for you means/does, what the role of the ballot is, and why all of that is more important than an endorsement of the Aff. I find that when I don't vote for a K it is usually because the explanation of what the alternative is/does is lacking. While I do not find some K's to be very persuasive, just because the debate makes me grumpy(ier) doesn't mean I won't vote for you, I'll probably just complain about it afterwards (although I will happily provide you with a list of my least favorite K's upon request). I will say that I very much dislikes K's based on a link of omission. If in doubt, read what you are best at and most comfortable with and tell me not to be so grumpy.
Please be as prompt and courteous as possible. You should have all tech stuff ready to go at the starting time of the debate (viewing laptop on, speech jumped, etc.) If you do not have a viewing laptop, and the other team doesn’t have a laptop, give them one of your laptops (you should flow on paper anyways). DO NOT: intentionally include 9 million cards that you aren’t going to read into your speech document (please feel free to ask for a new speech document with just the marked cards that are read, no charge), intentionally disorganize your speech document, steal prep-time (no one should be doing anything during “jumping” time). I am rather trusting on this issue so feel free to police yourselves, I won’t hold it against you if you call your opponents out (even if they are behaving).
I do not prompt for clarity, if I can’t understand you, I will stop flowing and make a face at you. I believe that judge adaptation is an important part of debate and so if you have a question about anything I have not covered here, please feel free to ask, but I will get angry if it’s clear you haven’t read this.
When in doubt: "Make with the good debating, not the bad debating."
Please include me in your speech doc thread. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org
I enjoy coaching and judging novice debates. I think the novice division is the most important and representative of what is good in our community. That being said, I opposed and still oppose the ADA Novice Curriculum Packet. It's an attempt by some in the community, who don't even have novice programs, to use the novice division to further their vision of what debate "should" look like. I don't like that.
I really like judging debates where the debaters speak clearly, make topic specific arguments, make smart analytic arguments, attack their opponent’s evidence, and debate passionately. I cut a lot of cards so I know a lot about the topic. I don’t know much about critical literature.
Framework debates: I don’t enjoy judging them. Everyone claims their educational. Everyone claims their being excluded. It’s extremely difficult to make any sense of it. I would rather you find a reason why the 1AC is a bad idea. There’s got to be something. I can vote for a no plan-text 1AC, if you’re winning your arguments. With that being said, am not your ideal judge for such 1AC’s because I don’t think there’s any out of round spill-over or “solvency.”
Topicality: Am ok with topicality. Competing interpretations is my standard for evaluation. Proving in-round abuse is helpful but not a pre-requisite. If am judging in novice at an ADA packet tournament, it will be very difficult to convince me to vote on topicality. Because there are only 2-3 1AC's to begin with, there's no predictability or limits arguments that make any sense.
Disadvantages: Like them. The more topic specific the better.
Counterplans: Like them. The more specific to the 1AC the better. Please slow down a little for the CP text.
Kritiks: ok with them. I don’t know a lot about any critical literature, so know that.
Rate of Delivery: If I can’t flow the argument, then it’s not going on my flow. And please slow down a little bit for tags.
Likes: Ohio State, Soft Power DA’s, case debates
Dislikes: Michigan, debaters that are not comprehensible, District 7 schools that cut and paste evidence from other schools and present it as their own without alteration. Do that in front of me and I might vote against you automatically.
I've been the Director of Debate at the US Naval Academy since 2005. I debated at Catholic University in the late 90s/early 2000s.
Put me on the doc thread: email@example.com. If this is an open debate, probably better put Adrienne on it too firstname.lastname@example.org
Four things I hate--this number has gone up:
1. WASTING TIME IN DEBATES--what is prep time? This isn't an existential question. Prep time is anything you do to prepare for a debate. That means when it's start time for the debate, everyone should be READY TO START--restrooms visited, water gathered, stand assembled, doc thread started, timer in hand, snacks ready for your judge (jk). Any of these things that need to happen during a debate are technically prep time and thus should probably happen either during your prep or the other team's prep. The 2:15 decision deadline is an unequivocal good because it makes me 100% more likely to get a reasonable amount of sleep at night which makes me a better judge/coach/administrator/human, but y'all need to get better at managing your time to make it work.
2. Elusiveness (especially in Cross-Ex but during speeches too): “I don’t know” is an acceptable answer. Taking your questioner on a goose-chase for the answer to a simple question is not. Pretending you don't know how the plan works or what it does or that there are a whole bunch of ways it MIGHT happen is not persuasive to me, it just makes it look like you don't know what's going on. Answer the counterplan; tell me it's cheating--I'm one of the like 5 judges in the community who believe you.
3. Debaters who get mad that I didn’t read their one piece of really sweet evidence. If you want me to understand the warrants of the evidence and how they compare to the warrants of the other team’s evidence, maybe you should talk about them in one of your speeches. Read less bad cards and talk about the good ones more--tell me how your one good card is better than their 12 bad ones.
4. Rudeness. Don’t be rude to your partner, don’t be rude to the other team, and DEFINITELY don’t be rude to me. Excessive cursing is frowned upon (louder for the people in the back). Conversely, if you are nice, you will probably be rewarded with points. Entertain me. I enjoy pop culture references, random yelling of "D7", humorous cross-x exchanges, and just about any kind of joke. I spend a LOT of time judging debates, please make it enjoyable, or at least not uncomfortable.
Performance/Ks of Debate:
I’m going to be painfully honest here and say that I don’t like performance debate or critiques of current debate practices. I’m also going to state the obvious and say that I really like policy debate. Why? Well, I guess it’s the same reason that some people root for the Yankees over the Red Sox—I’m evil. Actually, it’s because I think there are a lot of specific educational benefits to traditional policy debate that you can’t get anywhere else. There might be a lot of educational benefits to performances, but I think that you can get those benefits from doing other activities too, which isn’t necessarily true of policy-style debate. If this makes you want to strike me, I heartily encourage you to do so.
HOWEVER--the opposing team would need to advance those arguments to win the debate. Do I think status quo debate is good? Yes. Will I vote on "debate is good" without that argument having been made? No. If the opposing team concedes the framework debate or doesn't advance "status quo debate good" as their framework arg, I'm not going to vote on it, obviously; the debate would proceed as agreed to by both teams. I have judged these debates before and have voted on the arguments in the round.
Whatevs, if it’s your thing, you can do it in front of me. I’m pretty smart, which means I attempt to avoid reading post-modern philosophy as much as possible, and the only languages I currently speak with any level of fluency are English and Pig Latin. This means you should probably SLOW THE HELL DOWN and find a convenient time to define any words that are Greek/German/made up by an aging beatnik. The problem I have with most Ks is that they have totally sweet, awesome impacts but there’s little link to the aff (or no harder link to the aff than to the status quo), so maybe that’s something that both the aff and neg should work on in the round. I really prefer Kritiks with alternatives, and I prefer the alternative not be “reject the plan”.
I think lots of counterplans (consult, international actor, conditions, etc) are probably cheating. As a director of a small school, I don't have a huge problem with cheating if you can defend it and do it well. I wouldn't make this the "A strat" for me if you've got other options, but I appreciate that there sometimes aren't any and I promise not to throw things or set the ballot on fire if you've gotta roll with it.
Not to sound like a grumpy old person (though I am) but I think conditionality run amok is hurting debate. I'm probably okay with 1 CP, 1 K, and the status quo as an option until the 2nr (test the rez from a variety of standpoints, etc). Any more than that and you're pushing my buttons. I'm about as likely to "judge kick" a CP for you as I am to kick a winning field goal for the Steelers (not gonna happen).
There’s nothing better than a good disad. Well there are a few things, but none of them should be happening in a debate round. What do I mean by a good disad? Well, it should have a pretty clear, and ideally pretty specific, link to the affirmative. It should also (and here’s the part lots of debaters forget about) have some form of internal link that goes from the link to the impact. Aff—if the neg doesn’t have one of those things, you might want to point it out to me.
If your disad makes my internal BS-ometer go off I'm gonna tank your points.
I think my old philosophy on this point was tremendously vague and unclear (probably much like me in T debates when I was a debater). So I’ll say this instead. I don’t evaluate T like it’s a disad, which I think is the current fashionable thing to say, because unlike lots of people, I don’t think your aff advantages can outweigh T in the way that the aff could outweigh a disad. If you’re not T it’s game over in front of me—you can thank my ADA roots. So I don’t focus as much on the “best” interpretation—if the aff interp is good but not as good as the neg’s, the aff will probably win in front of me. This means I think the neg really needs to focus on the ground and limits debate—here is where you can persuade me that something is really bad. Again, I have a small school and understand the need for predictability. So tell me how the aff’s interpretation is going to make my life miserable because it allows for xyz.
I think topics are becoming more broad and vague, and understand negative frustration at attempting to engage in a debate about the plan's mechanism or what the plan actually does (often the very best parts of a debate in my opinion). I feel like I can be fairly easily persuaded to vote against a team that just uses resolutional language without a description of what that means in a piece of solvency evidence or a cross-examination clarification. I think neg teams will need to win significant ground loss claims to be successful in front of me (can't just roll with agent cps key) but I think I am more easily persuaded on these arguments than I have been in the past.
Paperless Policy:I'm at email@example.com. Or I can do the situational dropbox thing. Whatever. Regale me with your evidence. I don't read it during the round, I just want it all for post-round evaluation and caselist obligations. I still flow based on what you SAY so don't cut corners on clarity just because I have your speech docs in my inbox.
Flowing: Seriously, I’m not reading your evidence during your speech. Why doesn’t anyone ever trust me on this? Did I do something in a past life that makes debaters pathologically incapable of believing me? Anyway, if you’re not articulating your distinct arguments, you’re taking your chances that I’m not getting what you’re trying to put out there. I consider debate to be a contest between teams to communicate to me what should be on my flow and where, so orient your argumentation accordingly.
Everything Else: I characterize myself as a critic of argument, which is the pretentiousway of saying that I listen to everything, but that, all else equal, certain things are more compelling than others.
NOTE: Do not necessarily interpret any of my preferences as bans on any kind of arguments, or even guides to how to select down. It's a threshold of believability issue.
Policy Debates: Compare your impacts, weigh them, and tell me a story of the world of voting Aff vs. voting Neg. I’ll choose the one that’s comparatively advantageous.
I prefer fewer positions withlonger evidence, clearer scenarios, and more analysis of impact probability ratherthan harping on the massive scale of the impacts. If I hear that a slight increase in spending collapses the world economy triggering a nuclear war, you may as well tell me aliens are invading. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll vote on it, but I’ll die a little inside and there’s frighteningly little of my soul left to kill – I’m a lawyer.
I’m not particularly excited about the world of flinging 4 CPs at the Aff and just playing the coverage game. It’s just not the makings of a compelling debate, you know? Pick a lane! And it doesn’t seem especially cool on a topic featuring legal scholars proposing almost infinite specific counter-proposals to research. I’ve got no preferences on CP/Perm theory arguments other than it bugs me that people don't feel compelled to explain the abuse story like they would on T. I do not think the blip "the Perm is severance" is enough to get the job done and if I’m going to vote on it, I’d really prefer if, before the round is over, I can comfortably explain why it severs and preferably a reason why that is uniquely disadvantageous. But given that caveat, I'm more than willing to vote on these args because people all too often don't answer them well enough, probably because they don't know how to flow anymore. NOTICE A TREND!
In other words, if you're going the policy route, you’ll make me so happy teeing off with specific arguments tied to the real academic/policy debate over the subject.
And if you’re reading this harsh criticism of policy debate with a smug look on your face, slow your roll there Kdebater...
Kritik Debates: Kritiks challenge the advocacy of the other team in salient ways that could be lost in a pure utilitarian analysis. Issues of exclusion and oppression ingrained in the heart of a policy proposal or the representations of the other team can be called out with kritiks ranging from simple “-ism” args to a postmodern cavalcade.
It is NOT an excuse to say random pomo garbage that sounds cool but doesn’t bear upon what’s happening in the round. Esoteric ramblings from some dead French or German thinker can – and often do – have as little to do with the debate round as the hypothetical global nuclear wars that have killed us a million times over in this activity. Look, I actually KNOW what most of that garbage means, but that's not a reason for you to not make sense. Make the K relevant to the specific policy/issue discussion we’re having and I’ll be very happy.
Again, I vote on this stuff, but see above about killing me inside.
When it comes to K/Performance Affs, I’m pretty open to however you justify the Aff (metaphorically, as activism, as some kind of parable), so long as deep down you’re advocating that all things equal, “giving rights or duties to the things listed in the topic would be good.” Faint in the direction of the topic and you’re in good shape.
With that caveat, if you outright refuse to "affirm" anything in the "topic," that's all well and good, just be a really good T/Framework debater. I'll vote for a compelling justification — I’ve recently been told that according to Tabroom, I’m almost exactly .500 in K v. Framework debates over the last few years. I don’t know if that’s true, but it sounds right. Frankly, I'd rather hear "we can't be Aff because the resolution is broken and we'll win the T/Framework debate" than some squirrely "we're not topical, but kind of topical, but really not" thing.
But who am I to judge! Oh right... I'm the judge. Kinda my job.
An honest pet peeve (that I can be talked out of, round-by-round) is that I don't think “performance” means acting out the argument in-round. For example, Dadaism is an argument, not a reason to answer every question with “Fishbulbs!" You job is to sell me that people answering questions with “Fishbulbs” would be good – if you’re doing it in-round you’ve skipped the foundational part.
Topicality: I feel like I've told enough people in enough rounds about this that I'm comfortable putting it here: if you're running this Scalia evidence as a definition of "vest" despite the fact that it is EXPLICITLY not about rights and duties and solely about Article II power or if you're running the "rights are 15 things" from a definition about how the Indian legal system makes distinctions between constitutional rights and statutory legal rights, you're engaged in an act of such intellectual dishonesty that I think I'm willing to vote on that alone if the other team mentions it.
Every time you steal prep time will also kill me a little more inside. But you’re going to do it anyway.
Director of Debate at George Mason University.
Please add me to chain: firstname.lastname@example.org
Top level Personhood Topic/Online Debating thoughts:
-I have done everything possible to avoid thinking about AI for this season. I almost definitely am not in "the lit" for the AI area.
-T "All" is silly in all its forms. Being aff is so hard on this topic, I am going to be incredibly aff leaning on T questions this year.
-I think the tva's on this topic are quite good. AFF K teams that do not defend legal personhood should keep this in mind on framework debates and not blaze over the TVA debate.
-Asking "is anyone not ready" before an online speech is silly. Wait for verbal/nonverbal confirmation that all individuals are ready before beginning your speech.
-If my camera is off, I am not ready for your speech.
-I do not consent to being recorded.
-For accessibility reasons, please make sure I can see your face/mouth when you are speaking if at all possible.
-Please do not begin the speech at your fastest speed. Makes it very difficult to begin flowing in the online environment.
5+ Random Things that Annoy me:
1. Hostility - I am too old, too cranky, and too tired to hear undergraduate students treating opponents, partners, or me like trash. I literally can't handle the levels of aggression some rounds have anymore. Please just stop. Be community minded. You are debating another person with feelings, remember that. Opponents are friends on the intellectual journey you are having in debate, not enemy combatants. Give people the benefit of the doubt and try to practice grace in rounds.
2. Cards in the body of the email.
3. Yelling over each other in cx - everyone will lose speaks.
4. Interrupting your partner in cx - I am seriously close to saying I want closed cx, I am so annoyed at how egregious this is becoming. I will deduct speaks from both partners.
5. Extending Cross ex past 3 minutes. I will actively stop listening in protest/leave the room. Anything past the 3 minutes should be for clarification purposes only.
6. Wipeout, Baudrillard, Malthus, Con Con CPs, Strike 'x' country CPs, trivializing the holocaust, reading re-prints of books from 1995 but citing it as the reprint date, fiating mindset shifts.
Competing Interpretations > Reasonability
Predictable Limits > Ground/Education
Debate-ability > Framer's Intent (I'm okay with voting that certain parts of the topic should not have been included if the topic committee just messed up the wording)
If cross ex actually checked for specification questions (i.e. "who is the actor" - and they tell you "Congress") - that is the only argument the 2ac needs to make against a 1NC spec argument.
NOVICE NOTE: I think it is ridiculous when novices read no plan affs - do whatever you want in other divisions, but these kids are just learning how to debate, so providing some structure and predictability is something I think is necessary. I err heavily on framework in those debates for the negative in the first semester.
Besides conditionality, theory is a reason to reject the argument and not the team. Anything else is an unwinnable position for me. I genuinely do not know how I lean in condo debates. Some rounds I feel like the amount of conditional positions we are encouraging in debates is ridiculous, others I wish there were more. Open to being convinced in either direction.
Are awesome. The trickier, the better. I’m okay with most of them, but believe that the action of the CP must be clearly explained at least in the 2NC. I don’t vote on something if I don’t know what my ballot would be advocating. I shouldn’t have to pull the CP text at the end of the round to determine what it does. I err to process/agent/consult cp’s being unfair for the aff (if you can defend theory though, this doesn’t mean don’t read them). Also, I think that perm do the cp on CPs that result in the plan can be rather persuasive, and a more robust textual/functional cp debate is probably necessary on the negative's part.
**Delay and consultation cp’s are illegit unless you have a specific solvency advocate for them. Agenda DA Uniqueness cp’s are too – I’m sorry that the political climate means you can’t read your politics strat on the negative, but that doesn’t mean you should be able to screw the aff’s strategy like that. Have other options.
Important CP Judge Kick Note: I always judge kick if the negative would win the debate on the net benefit alone. However, I will not judge kick to vote on presumption. Going for a CP forfeits the negative's right to presumption.
Wonderful. Disadvantages versus case debates are probably my favorite debates (pretty much every 2NR my partner and I had). I love politics disads, I think they are educational in many ways and you cannot convince me that they are not good for debate. However, I can be very persuaded by no backlash/spillover answers on the internal link – in so many situations the internal link just makes NO sense. I think there is such a thing as 100% no link and love thumper strategies. Like elections DA's - not a huge fan of impact scenarios relying on a certain party/candidate doing something once they get in office. Think shorter term impact scenarios are necessary.
2022 update: For the past several years my work with Mason Debate has primarily focused on research and coaching of our varsity policy teams and novices. I am not keeping up with the K lit as I was a few years ago. Please keep this in mind. Everything below is from a few years ago.
I wrote my thesis on queer rage and my research now focuses on a Derridian/Althusserian analysis of Supreme Court rhetoric - but that does not mean I will automatically get whatever random critical theory you are using. Due to who I coach and what I research for academics, I am most familiar with identity theories, biopower, Marxism, any other cultural studies scholarship, Baudrillard, Derrida, and Deleuze. If your K isn't one of those - hold my hand. I think the most persuasive kritik debaters are those who read less cards and make more analysis. The best way to debate a kritik in front of me is to read slower and shorter tags in the 1NC and to shorten the overviews. I find most overviews too long and complicated. Most of that work should be done on the line-by-line/tied into the case debate. Also, debating a kritik like you would a disad with an alternative is pretty effective in front of me. Keep it clean. Unless your kritik concerns form/content - be organized.
Note for policy v K regarding the "weigh the affirmative or nah" framework question - basically no matter how much debating occurs on this question, unless the affirmative or negative completely drops the oppositions' arguments, I find myself normally deciding that the affirmative gets to weigh their aff but is responsible for defending their rhetoric/epistemology. I think that is a happy middle ground.
Antitrust note: I think the affirmative should *at least* defend that corporations as they stand should not exist as such. Some type of critique in the direction of the resolution. Inserting the word "monopoly" into your aff is not enough of a topic relevant claim imo. In general, I believe affirmatives should defend some universalized praxis/method and that deferral is not a debatable strategy.
Overall Framework update: Procedural fairness IS an impact, but I prefer clash key to education. I find it difficult to vote for impacts that preserve the game when the affirmative is going for an impact turn of how that game operates.
Generic Case Update: I find myself voting neg on presumption often when this is a large portion of the 2nr strategy. I recommend affirmatives take this into account to ensure they are explaining the mechanism of the aff.
I find judging non-black teams reading afro-pessimism affirmatives against black debaters an uncomfortable debate to decide, and my threshold for a ballot commodification style argument low.
Individual survival strategies are not predictable or necessarily debatable in my opinion (i.e. "This 1AC is good for the affirmative team, but not necessarily a method that is generalizable). I enjoy critical methods debates that attempt to develop a praxis for a certain theory that can be broadly operationalized. For example, if you are debating "fem rage" - you should have to defend writ large adoption of that process to give the negative something to debate. It is pretty difficult for a negative to engage in a debate over what is "good for you" without sounding incredibly paternalistic.
I am partially deaf in my left ear. It makes it difficult to decipher multiple sounds happening at the same time (i.e. people talking at the same time/music being played loudly in the background when you are speaking). I would recommend reducing the sound level of background music to make sure I can still hear you. Also means you just have to be a smidge louder. I'll let you know if sound level is an issue in the debate, so unless I say something don't let it worry you.
I love flowing. I do my best to transcribe verbatim what you say in your speech so I can quote portions in my RFD. I do NOT flow straight down, I match arguments. I most definitely WILL be grumpy if speeches are disorganized/don't follow order of prior speeches. If you ask me not to flow, the amount I pay attention in the debate probably goes down to 20% and I will have mild anxiety during the round.
Debate should be fun - don't be jerks or rhetorically violent. This includes anything from ad homs like calling your opponent stupid to super aggressive behavior to your opponents or partner. Speaker points are a thing, and I love using them to punish jerks.
I am extremely expressive during round and you should use this to your advantage. I nod my head when I agree and I get a weird/confused/annoyed face when I disagree.
Deputy Director for The Office of Economic and Manpower Analysis (OEMA) and Assistant Professor of Economics in the Department of Social Sciences at USMA
Ongoing research includes the role of AI in war, specifically the applicability of several machine learning techniques for forecasting conflict around the globe.
Underwent USMA policy debate training and understands the parameters of the activity. Leans towards practical impacts and clear analysis in the final rebuttals. Debaters should weigh their impacts and explain why the arguments they believe they are winning means why they should win the round.
Academy Professor of American Politics at the United States Military Academy where he teaches courses on American Politics and Public Policy. Lieutenant Colonel Robinson is a 2000 graduate of the United States Military Academy and holds an MPA from Cornell University and a PhD in Public Administration and Policy from the University of Georgia.
Previously judged at the USMA debate tournament for several years.
Underwent USMA policy debate training and understands the parameters of the activity. Leans towards practical impacts and clear analysis in the final rebuttals. Debaters should weigh their impacts and explain why the arguments they believe they are winning means why they should win the round.
Please add me to the email chain: email@example.com
I am a senior at NYU majoring in Computer Science, who has been on the NYU debate team all four years after competing in LD at Harvard Westlake in HS. I've worked in IT for a Fortune 500 company recently. In college, I've gone for DA/CP strats most of the time as well as Cap when the round required it. Although I participated in almost all of NYU's weekly summer meetings about the topic, did practice rounds and mock debates and have been actively thinking about the AI topic area, I won't be familiar with the topic-specific acronyms and short-hand that's developed. My partner is studying abroad so I haven't competed yet this semester. Based on both my major and my personal experience, I'm super-stoked about the AI dimensions of this topic especially from the programmers' role and have been working on at aff for that area.
Case - As far as policy Affs vs. K-Affs - I prefer that you read a plan text or are in the direction of the resolution. Creativity is encouraged once that basic threshold is met. If your aff doesn't conform to that as happens at D8-hosted tournaments but you've preffed me, please explain the justifications (in-round and/or external) for why your model of debate is better than the stasis points available to the neg when the round centers on resolutional action. Presumption, Circumvention and Impact D are your friend on a topic like this. I've heard our choices discuss that teams haven't demonstrated a clear understanding of how their agent functions (e.g. what can & can't Congress or the Supreme Court do or how patent review process works in the US) so if you do, please utilize that on solvency debates, link debates and other places on the flow that are valuable to you.
Disads - Go for it. Besides your basic extensions, block overviews should be making distinctions of why your impacts come first if both teams are reading the same impacts (e.g. why is your extinction claim faster, more probable, etc) than theirs. Counterplans - Like' em. Again, creativity is good. Specific counterplans are a more valuable strategic tool than reading basic texts. More applicability to the Aff advantages the better.
CP/K Theory- Conditionality is probably good but I'm willing to hear reasons why it's not and vote on them. I default to drop the argument not the team on theory but you can convince me of the inadequacy of that punishment with the right arguments. There probably is a threshold where condo goes from protecting competitive equity to abusive. 2NR and 2AR's going for theory need to spend substantial time developing it in the last speech to get me to vote on it. Beyond Condo, PICs, Utopian FIAT, perm severance and other of the greatest hits, well-explained in-round Micro-Aggressive Disads can also be effective.
Kritiks - Unless, it's cap, your safest option is to assume I haven't read your lit base so explain your theory of power and your links stories well. Alt solvency and perm answers are places where kritiks have often been vulnerable in my competitive experience.
T/FW - My leanings are explained above but they're not absolute. Procedural fairness can be an internal link or its own impact depending on who wins that argument in the round. Please have inclusion/exclusion args on your T flow that identify what debatable ground is retained or lost by the other side's interpretations that is valuable to having debates on this topic. Effective we meets, c-interps, TVAs and your choice of in-round or external impacts are important determinants.
While I like smart teams that use c-x well, please treat each other humanely.
SIDENOTE: I'm putting together a regional webpage so if you are at a D8 school and have any photos from this year or last year with your teammates, please send them my way.
Put me on the chain: firstname.lastname@example.org
I dislike intervening in debate rounds. I would much rather apply the criteria the debaters supply and work things out that way. As a result the final rebuttals should provide me with a clean story and a weighing mechanism. If only one side provides this I will default to their standards. If neither side does this, I’ll use my own opinions and evaluations of the round.
Simply put the debate is about impacts- weigh them, their likelihood and magnitude and we’re doing fine.
I think it is the debater’s responsibility to explain the analysis of their cards, particularly on complex positions. However, I recognize the time constraints in a round and will read cards that receive a prominent place in rebuttals. But I do not like to read piles of cards and being forced to apply my analysis to them. As a side note, I rarely flow author names so don’t just extend the author’s name- also be clear to which argument the card applies to.
I’ll listen to whatever people want to say- but you should probably know my dispositions ahead of time. Be warned however, I have voted against my preferences many times and anticipate doing it again in the future.
I like kritik/advocacy debate. That being said, I do not have a knee-jerk reaction when I hear them. Part of what makes kritiks interesting is the variety and depth of responses available. To get my vote here I generally need a clear story on the link and implication levels.
I enjoy framework debates- debating about debate is fun- and as a bonus I don’t think there are any right or wrong answers- just arguments that can be made.
I rejoice the return of topicality! And I have no problem voting on topicality, even if I don’t agree with a particular interpretation, but I do think a T story needs to be clear and technically proficient.
DAs are great, and the more case specific the better. Make sure you have a clear story and try to create distinctions between multiple end of the world scenarios if that's your thing.
I don’t mind listening to PICs or other interesting CPs, and I often feel they’re good way to test the validity of a plan. However, I am open to theoretical debate here and I’m willing to vote on it.
I will vote on the easy way out of a round- I don’t try to divine the ultimate truth of what the debaters are saying. I’m just adjudicating a game- a fun game that can teach stuff and be pretty sweet- but still a game. So enjoy your round, do your job and I will too.
Philosophy Updated 9-5-17
Nick Ryan – Liberty Debate – 10th year coaching/Judging
Please label your email chains “Tournament – Rd “#” – AFF Team vs Neg Team” – or something close to that effect. I hate “No subject,” “Test,” “AFF.” I would like to be included “email@example.com”
Too often Philosophy’s are long and give you a bunch of irrelevant information. I’m going to try to keep this short and sweet.
1. I spend most of my time working with our “Policy teams,” I have a limited amount of working with our “K/Non traditional” debaters, but the bulk of my academic research base is with the “traditional” “policy teams;” don’t expect me to know the nuances of your specific argument, debate it and explain it.
2. Despite this I vote for the K a fair amount of time, particularly when the argument is contextualized in the context of the AFF and when teams aren’t reliant on me to unpack the meaning of “big words.” Don’t rely on me to find your “embedded clash” for you.
3. “Perm Do Both” is not a real argument, neg teams let AFFs get away with it way too often and it shifts in the 1AR. Perms and Advocacy/CP texts should be written out.
4. If neither team clarifies in the debate, then I default to the status quo is always an option.
5. These are things that can and probably will influence your speaker points: clarity, explanations, disrespectfulness to the other team, or your partner, stealing prep time, your use of your speech time (including cx), etc.
6. Prep time includes everything from the time the timer beeps at the end of the lasts speech/CX until the doc is sent out.
7. I think Poems/Lyrics/Narratives that you are reading written by someone else is evidence and should be in the speech document.
ADA Novice Packet Tournaments:
Evidence you use should be from the packet. If you read cards that weren’t in the packet more than once it’s hard to believe it was a “honest mistake.”
If you have any questions about things that are not listed here please ask, I would rather you be sure about my feelings, then deterred from running something because you are afraid I did not like it.
Debated at Catholic University from 2001-2005, judge for the US Naval Academy 2011-2014.
Some general thoughts about how I judge debates:
I try to evaluate debates based upon the persuasiveness, logic, and clarity of argument by each team during their speeches. I'm unlikely to read cards after the round unless I absolutely need to see them to resolve the debate.
I flow all speeches on paper (and take notes during cross-ex) unless both teams ask me to not do so. Questions asked during prep time are essentially a courtesy and I do not consider them to be “on record.” You probably can get a sense of if I am following a speech based upon whether I am taking notes or if I appear to be searching or flipping over paper. If you see a look of confusion on my face -- I'm probably not following, but it's also the case that I tend to have a resting confused face throughout most of life.
Thoughts on how I most often evaluate specific issues:
Topicality - I think the affirmative needs to be topical. I don't find the argument that other substantive or procedural arguments should come before T to be persuasive, nor do I consider T to be a reverse voting issue. I tend more towards the “reasonableness” view of topicality.
Case debate/framework arguments - I default to evaluating whether the aff is a comparatively advantageous advocacy to the status quo. I assume that the status quo is an option for the negative and could be persuaded to vote on that presumption. If you propose a different framework, I tend to consider whether I understand what each team is asking me to do to compare and resolve arguments before weighing which one is "better."
Theory debates - I place the burden on the team making a theory or procedural argument to demonstrate what practice they find objectionable, why it's objectionable, a proposed remedy, and the reasons why their proposed remedy is appropriate.
Counterplans - They need to compete with the aff, and the burden rests with the neg to demonstrate competition. I find counterplans based around clear solvency evidence comparative to the aff to be most convincing.
Disads - They need a unique link and a logical internal link to the impact. A shockingly high number of debates involve disads with evidence that was obviously not written in the context of the long chains of assumed internal links that go uncontested. I am willing to assess low or zero risk to a disad if it doesn't link to the aff, or where there is no clear support for assumed but unstated internal links. Terminal impacts of many arguments aren't all or nothing - there may be many smaller but unstated intermediate impacts. It's very helpful when teams explain the argument in more concrete terms than simply whether there is X% risk of something large, abstract, and terrible.
Critical arguments - I find critical arguments most persuasive when they are germane to the aff case (when neg) or to the topic (for K affs) without needing long chains of logical inferences and where there is a clearly explained alternative/solvency mechanism.
My thoughts on Why Debate is important are best explained here: http://havokjournal.com/nation/can-college-debate-improve-the-civil-military-divide/
COMBAT TROOPS ARE PRESENCE (this is my basic assumption unless it goes completely dropped in the round to the contrary)
Philosophy: I started intercollegiate debate as a novice in 2000 and left the activity in 2004 to begin my career as an Infantry officer in the United States Army.
I returned to the activity as judge/coach in 2012 when the Army returned me to West Point to teach American politics and government.
I believe my experience as a debater helped me become a better thinker, a better leader, and a better defense intellectual than I otherwise would have been without debate.
I find it hard to operate on any other assumption than debate is about education in the round, in the broader community, and in society writ large.
I believe we access this education through our discourse, our performance, our policy analysis of potential actions by the United States Federal Government and other state and non-state actors, as well as our understanding of ontology, epistemology, and our preconceived notions constructed by the society we live in.
I don’t think that it is possible for me (or any judge for that matter) to ever make a WRONG decision at the end of the debate round. We have designed an activity that is subjective – we have rules and guidelines (that are open for debate themselves) to help create objective standards, but at the end of the debate we quantify success by a decision made by the human being in the back of the room.
That being said there are plenty of BAD decisions in our activity that are/will be made and I am sure that I do/will make more BAD decisions than most other judges in our activity.
I believe, however, such BAD decisions happen when debaters fail to realize their ultimate goal in the round. The job of each debater is to convince, compel, persuade the person in the back of the room to cast a vote, sign a ballot, endorse the advocacy, or affirm/negate a resolution. Explain to me how you think my decision should be made. Define my calculation process or articulate a framework that can guide my method of thinking.
Mechanics: I dislike intervening in debate rounds. I would much rather apply the criteria the debaters supply and work things out that way. As a result the final rebuttals should provide me with a clean story and a weighing mechanism. If only one side provides this I will default to their standards. If neither side does this, I’ll use my own opinions and evaluations of the round.
I think it is the debater’s responsibility to explain the analysis of their cards, particularly on complex positions. I do not like to read piles of cards and being forced to apply my analysis to them.
As a side note, I have not embraced “paperless” debate since I am just recently returning to the activity. I flow on paper and I rarely flow author names so don’t just extend the author’s name- also be clear to which argument the card applies to.
I don’t appreciate sly or clever attempts to steal prep time.
I am not sympathetic to technologic difficulties.
I like to vote on the easy way out of a round- I don’t try to divine the ultimate truth of what the debaters are saying. I’m just adjudicating a fun activity that has been a very important part of my growth and development- but still an activity that is abstract and disconnected in many ways from much of society and many other aspects of our lives.
I hope you enjoy your time as a debater and your round with me as your judge regardless of the final ballot decision - do your job and I will do mine.
Freshman at George Mason University.
I have no debate experience, but I did Model UN for a couple years in high school. won't know any of the terminology but will do my best to follow along.
I evaluate the case first. Does the aff solve its impacts, ie Aff solvency is paramount. In general, I/Ls are the weakest points of affs and DA's. They also are the strongest points when not well contested. So i would look at internal link D and impact D as well as internal link turns first. Regardless of the aff, there is almost never 100% risk of the internal link chain being true, its always probabilistic.
After that I try to find out if the neg has a way for me to filter out Aff offense/solvency. This means I try to determine whether the neg has a counterplan that solves the aff advantages or a k solves case claim. Other things I'd look for is whether the Neg offense turns the Aff offense. Remember that if you go for a case turn, you need uniqueness or else its just defense.
I go on to see what the neg's impacts are for their K or Da or case turns. Again, Links and internal links matter. Rarely is the impact the thing that makes it or breaks it. Things to consider here are whether the magnitude of the internal link and the links are high. Inevitability arguments can be quite powerful. Additionally, I am in the camp that whether the uniqueness determines the direction of the link or other way around is fundamentally context dependent. Elections may hinge on a big link because things are muddled now. Lastly, there is the impact level. Turns case args are always well appreciated. They can really neutralize an aff and make debates easy. Impact comparison is obviously helpful; keep an eye out for strategic concessions you can use off of impact defense.
I prefer affs that have some relationship to the topic and that generally means more than just adding a couple words from the resolution into your 1AC. That relationship can be debated though. If you are not topical I would prefer to see you provide unique insights about the topic that traditional policy affirmatives miss. I am unlikely to be persuaded that debating topicality is the worst kinds of violence. It might be a very serious problem. You can win impact turns in front of me about why T is a problem, explain your metaphors and have in depth reasons and examples that contextualize how topicality mirrors or causes the problems you highlight. Limits is the internal link I tend to be most persuaded by. Topical versions of the Aff are big for me that actually make inroads into solving harms identified by the affirmative.
Textually AND functionally competitive counterplans AND advantage counterplans are legitimate to me. Otherwise I tend to be a bit less forgiving for CPs that are not both. Having a CP solvency advocate, especially a good one is something that would go a long way in how I view the legitimacy of the CP, not a prerequisite but certainly a boost for you. I am not the best with theory so unless its outright dropped or mishandled I wouldn't make it your A strategy.
Not likely to be convinced Ks shouldn't be allowed in debate. Winning framework is huge to how I filter out the Impacts of the debate round. I/L turns are important. Affs that make inroads into solving harms the K has identified helps to tip the scales. Alt does not necessarily have to solve in order for me to vote on a K but it does leave the negative in a tenuous position that the Affirmative should take full advantage of. I am not likely to vote outright on presumption or you link you lose. If you make well evidenced and developed impact claims from the links you win is a different story. Ks that win the "theory" of their critique on a metaphysical/ontological level but do not apply how that alters or shapes the specific impact/solvency scenario the affirmative is narrating can leave the negative in a vulnerable spot. On the flip side, affirmatives should try to take full advantage of how their unique scenario/solvency mechanism overcomes or blunts the link to the critique.
Important Things To Consider:
Clarity is big for me, especially rebuttals. Do not speed through analytics, am not the best flow currently. Recommend including your analytics in your Speech Docs. Tell me why you have won at the top of the 2NR & 2AR and prove it throughout the rest of your speech ie make it easy for me to identify what your strongest reason for winning is. Try to put together the story of the debate at the end, otherwise if I have to, then the decision may not be the one you agree with.
Director, James Madison University
20th year judging NDT/CEDA debate
CNTRL F "Short Version" for a summary version.
CNTRL F "Long Version" for rambling long version.
CNTRL F "Critical Identity Team" for full views on that.
CNTRL F "Ethics Challenge" for full views on that.
CNTRL F "Speaker Point Scale" for full views on that
CNTRL F "Procedure Notes" for info about card procedures and humbugs about CX.
Debate is game with a very serious purpose: teaching critical thinking, argument and research skills, subject knowledge, and tactical and strategic perspectives. I will take your debate seriously.
-I try to be objective, not neutral. I see job my as evaluating the disagreement in debate using my critical thinking abilities and, if necessary, my prior knowledge and experience.
-Disclosure is a courtesy, not a rule. I will not vote on an argument about a team not disclosing. I will only vote on a mis-disclosure argument if you can show its (a) factual and (b) intentionial.
-The topic is important to promote clash. However, I often vote for non-topical teams because topicality is debate-able and teams arguing for the topic must be able to win the topicality argument.
-I am not likely to be persuaded debate is a bad activity. Criticism of how we debate is different than saying debate is bad.
-I flow on paper. Iexpect debaters to flow/note take and do not think opponents are required to provide pristine speech docs or analytics.
-I do not usually read speech docs during the speech. I read lots of cards after debates/in prep time.
-I believe I am a good judge for a variety of K teams but most K teams disagree. This is probably due to my views on topicality. I think that establishing a negative framework for impact evaluation and alternative solvency are the two most important aspects of winning a criticism.
-I am burden of proof oriented. I expect claims to be supported, not presumed. That means I vote on no risk of a link or no solvency more often than other judges.
-I am not a good judge for self-referential/circular arguments (i.e., 'Vote for what's best for me and I'm the judge of what's best for me').
-CX is not prep time. Prep time is not CX time. I will end CX if you aren't using it. I will not listen to prep time CX. Blow off your CX and see the results in your points.
-I have of views on counterplans and counterplan theory. If that matters to you, see below.
-I often look and sound upset, annoyed or angry but I am actually rarely these things in any meaningful sense. My thinking face looks like an angry scowl. My slightly confused face looks like I'm seriously enraged. My 'slightly annoyed for 2 sec' face looks like I'm about to toss over a desk. Sorry about this. I was born with this face.
*END SHORT VERSION*
I believe that I’m out of step with contemporary debate. I feel it almost every time I judge. It’s not about the type of arguments that are made, it’s about how I judge them. I try to be even-handed and fair to both sides, but compared to most debaters’ expectations: I’m too opinionated about what constitutes adequate support, I’m too willing to dismiss badly supported arguments, I have too high of standards of engagement between two teams, I expect extra-ordinary claims to have at least decent proof, I don’t think repeating a prior block is a respectable extension of an argument even if the other team didn’t respond, I don’t think 2-3 sentences is usually enough to win a major argument. I do think you need to explain the claim, warrant, data for arguments in rebuttals, even when dropped. I don’t think a dropped assertion is necessarily true for the purposes of debate. I will ignore arguments I cannot understand and I have a coherence standards for positions and arguments. I think lots of ‘defensive’ arguments end up being terminal for positions.
Which is all to say that I am probably far too opinionated and interventionist for most debaters’ tastes. I like to think of it as being a principled critic of argumentation, but call it what you will. Does that make me a bad judge? Well, I certainly don’t think I’m what debaters want. I don’t know. But I am this way because I feel like these principles matter and I find them impossible to ignore.
Debate is the kiln in which minds are strengthened into ever better forms. The goal of each debate is not necessarily to find the right answer to a question, but an exploration of ideas and an experiment with concepts, enabled by the unique forum of debate that protects us from the full consequences of the ideas we advocate. It is the freedom of debate which enables it to be so effective. Hence, debate is a political project as well as an educational one. It is a democratic experiment. In it, we exercise our freedom to advocate for ideas—and to oppose them—in the spirit of putting our minds to work on a wide set of problems.
As a judge, I try to evaluate the quality of ideas and argumentation that debaters present. I do not have a preference for policy debate, critique debate, non-traditional debate or whatever any wishes to call their format. I do ask that ideas are presented coherently, cogently, and be well-supported by epistemologically-appropriate evidence.
I do have some argument biases (charted, per others):
Killing/letting die on purpose good--------------------------X--Killing/letting die on purpose bad.
Children are good-X--------------------------------Children are bad.
Ha funny debate only stupidity good!------------------------X-Ha funny debate only stupidity bad!
Topic ------X------------------No Topic.
ESR good for debate--------------------X---ESR is nonsense.
Offense/defense paradigm yes----------------X----no.
Alt-less Ks yes-----------------------X---no.
Stupid contrived fiat on CPs yes!-----------------------X--no.
Asserting another person has no role in debate: YES good strat-------------------------X---no.
Fairness It's an objective truth--------X--------------------It doesn't exist & we shouldn't consider it.
Here's that in another form.
I tend to dislike misanthropic arguments that ask me to kill people or increase suffering. If you read any argument says people dying is irrelevant, mass suffering is good for people or that children should not exist or be killed, you simply do not want me as a judge.
I tend to dislike arguments that rely on ideas almost everyone knows are wrong or originate out of dubious sources.
I tend to dislike arguments that attempt to stop rather than promote the development of ideas.
I tend to think the concept of a resolution is good and affirmatives should be topical, although I vote for non-topical affirmatives when it seems warranted by the debate (see note).
I tend to err negative on many theory questions, except when it comes to fiat. In that, I believe that international fiat, state fiat, and object fiat are unfair to affirmatives but to be honest these don't seem like voting issues, just reasons the counterplan should be ruled out.
I do not believe your assertion alone constitutes an argument that I am required to respect.
I tend to place great weight on cross-examination.
I tend to dislike arguments or positions that indicate that the other team has no place in the conversation.
I’ll limit how much I inject my own ideas into decisions but I will not prohibit my evaluative skills from the debate. I demand greater argumentative power from what appear to me to be counterintuitive arguments. I try to be reflective about my biases but I will not defer to other persons to make decisions for me.
I fundamentally believe in standards of decency and respectful treatment of colleagues and a sporting attitude toward competition. I understand that debate is serious. I realize that civility is sometimes a policing standard and there are limits to its application. But I persist in believing debaters should be free to make their arguments free from undue personal insults, discriminatory remarks, interruption, intimidation, or slurs regarding their race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, sex, sexual behavior, religion or socioeconomic standing. I am quite willing to step in and object or refuse to continue to participate in debates in which such activity continues.
Speaker Point Scale (novice doesn't follow this scale):
Open: 28.49; JV: 28.05; Novice: 28.31
29.5-29.9 Very to extremely high quality speeches that I would consider very good even for Copeland/Top 5 plaque competitors.
29-29.4 Excellent speeches that significantly advanced your team's chances of winning. Good to very good speeches for First Round-level competitors.
28.6-28.9 Above average speeches that I would expect to see out of clearing teams. Good to very good speeches for competitors at the NDT qualifier level.
28.1-28.5 Average to somewhat above average speeches that contributed to your team's chances of winning. Slightly above to somewhat below average speeches for the NDT qualifier level.
27.6-28 Mediocre to average speeches that only moderately advanced your team's position toward winning the debate.
27.1-27.5 Fairly poor speeches that did not significantly advance your teams position in the debate and likely did not sound good.
26.5-27 Poor speeches that had a negative impact on your team's chances of winning.
< 26.4 You did something very insulting and/or turned a near-certain win into a certain loss via your speech
**I am moderately hearing impaired. This should not affect you except that it helps if you enunciate clearly and project your voice. Rooms with echoes or ambient noise pose particular problems for me. If you see me moving around the room to hear, it's not necessarily you, it may be me trying to get a better angle to hear you.
Critical Identity Teams
Originally written in 2014 so maybe out of date. I haven't revised it in quite a while. Most of it still accurate to me even if the language and named arguments are a bit out of date.
I find it a nearly undeniable fact that the growth of critical identity arguments has dramatically increased the inclusiveness of our community in the past ten years. This is meaningful change. So I’m taking the time to write this extensive addendum to my judging philosophy because I think it’s important to recognize that there are terminological differences and stylistic differences in debate right now and I want to help the teams that are helping make our community more inclusive feel more comfortable in front of me.
Teams that make critical identity arguments are widely varied and so I’m reluctant to comment on them (or define them), except that I have noticed that those I think of *provisionally as critical identity teams are sometimes surprised by my decisions (for and against them). After some thought, I think it is because of a certain divergence in the judging pool. Critical identity teams, roughly speaking, share a common judging pool that emphasizes certain things, takes others for granted and has certain expectations. My background in traditional critique and policy debating has emphases and vocabularies different from this pool. In a few decisions that a few teams have not liked, I’ve explained my perspective and it’s sometimes been rejected or received push back and even dismissal. That’s regrettable. I want these teams (you, if you’re reading this) to see me as pointing them to the path to victory with me as the judge and I encourage these teams to see me as an opportunity rather than as a barrier.
So, rather than wait until a post-round to translate my views—which is too late—I’m going to post them here. It’s long, yes, but I put some effort and thought into this.
Overview over, here are my notes:
It’s probably true that it’s easier for you to win on the negative because there’s no topical barrier for you. There’s a huge exception to this, noted in the affirmative section. Here’s my hints:
-Argue the alternative. This is the number one point of difference between myself (and judges like me) and the pool of judges I’ve noted above. Winning a link and impact isn’t enough. You’re going to need to focus on extending, arguing, and explaining how your alternative solves your link arguments, how it solves the case and/or how it is the ‘better’ choice in the face of affirmative case arguments. If your alt solves the case, explain how. If it doesn’t solve the case, explain why that doesn’t matter. Your alternative needs to solve the link to the case, because if not, there’s simply no uniqueness to your arguments against the affirmative—they are true whether I vote affirmative or negative. That doesn’t mean that you need to solve the WHOLE link. For example, if the law is fundamentally anti-black, then even if the alternative doesn’t solve the law being anti-black it might provide us with a path to a non-law based perspective or something of that sort. When I’ve voted AFF against critical identity teams, there’s often been a post-round attempt at a gotcha question: “So, you just voted for a law you agree is anti-black/queer/ableist?” And I’ve answered: “No. Voting for an anti-black/queer/ableism law was inevitable because the alternative didn’t solve any bit of anti-blackness/queerness/ableism.” I will say that 90% of the time I’ve come to the conclusion NOT because I evaluated a contested debate about the alternative but because the negative barely extended the alternative or did not do so at all. I'm generally unpersuaded by "reject" arguments without some value to the rejection.
-Argue the case. Affirmatives often solve impacts—and those impacts can outweigh. If you don’t just let that slide, the fact that they CAUSE another impact cannot be easily dismissed. I watched a debate at the NDT where the critical race team just slayed the policy affirmative by reading phenomenal cards that indicating the structural, racist roots of climate change and consumption patterns. It was excellent. However, that doesn’t happen very often. Being anti-queer is bad…but so is climate change that kills millions, particularly vulnerable populations. It’s easier to pick which one I must address first if the chances of the cases chances of solving climate change are either mitigated or critiqued in a fashion that undermines its solvency.
-Frame the impact. A certain group of judges might think that if you win “social death now” that means basically all the impacts of the case are irrelevant. I don’t think it’s nearly that easy. Think of it this way—you, the debater, are often in the population that your argument says is socially dead. Yet I think that your life matters. And I want to stop bad things from happening to you despite your state of partial or total social death. So, you must say MORE than social death. You may explain, for example, that social death perpetually PERMITS radical violence at a constant or increasing rate; that massive real violence is a terminal and immutable consequence of social death. This does not, by the way, mute the entirety of offense gained by an opponent’s policy action, but in combination with a won alternative provides a nice pairing of a systemic impact with strong empirical grounding and very high future risk with a method of addressing that risk. Some framing evidence helps here.
-Fiat is illusory isn’t a real argument (nor is the affirmative argument that the “The plan REALLY happens!”). I get the plan doesn’t happen but it’s a worthwhile thought experiment that enables us to discuss the merits of the plan. I don’t AUTOMATICALLY assume this, but if the affirmative team frames their case as an representative anecdote of how we can learn to engage in politics, or how this kind of debate informs politics, either in general or in specific, I tend to agree that’s reasonable since that is the whole reason I think debate is educational. THUS! The KEY is is not to argue, “Fiat is illusory, they lose on presumption”—which is a bad argument—but to argue that given that they are teaching a BAD politics and that you present a better one. Your better framework may include arguing for the abandonment of plan-based politics.
-Frame the meaning of winning a key premise. To some extent, I find that to be true of anti-blackness or anti-queerness or anti-intersex, etc. If you win that blackness is an ontology and anti-blackness is a political ontology (although, to be honest, I’m not sure I understand what a political ontology is) you’ve won a premise that gets you a long way in the debate. However, you haven’t WON the debate, per se (nor does losing this premise necessarily lose you the debate). If society is anti-black, does that means politics is irrelevant? My presumption is NO. If you are black and live in anti-black civil society, I still presume that it would be better to do things that blunt the force of anti-blackness with ‘liberal’ policies. Now, you have a huge advantage if you win your premise because in a larger sense you’re winning that liberalism is doomed—but you need to make that clear. Finally, you should work at backstopping this argument. I’ve seen teams go all-in on winning queer is ontological without looking at how they could win if they did not win this premise. I saw a team at the NDT nicely win a debate where they lost that blackness is ontological by arguing that even if its socially constructed, its so deeply embedded that it can’t be extracted and that the alternative resolved it best. Well done.
Most of this is about topicality because once you’re beyond that barrier you’re just in regular debateland and the above guidelines apply.
First hint with me on this overall—persuade your opponent not to go for topicality. When negative teams don’t go for topicality against blatantly non-topical teams, I have a ridiculous affirmative voting record. The reasons are obvious: Links and competition are hard to generate when you’re not topical. That’s why topicality is vital for those teams. But let’s ignore that for a moment.
-Topicality: First hint: Be topical. I think it’s possible. I particularly think it’s possible to defend the topic from the outside—I think it’s possible for queer victims of police violence to argue police who harass queers should be arrested by the state without being or endorsing the state. I think you can be topical and argue that you shouldn’t need to answer process arguments. As the coach of repeated, successful topical K teams I don’t think topicality automatically means role-playing in the strong sense. I also think these debates are essential. Surely it can’t be the case that all critical identity positions of value require non-topicality and I’m very interested to hear the ways critical queer, race, gender, intersex values can be met with a topical plan. ***HOWEVER, if you have me as a judge and you’re NEVER topical, it’s probably a bad idea to just toss a plan in. It’s bad because you haven’t thought through how to defend yourself against arguments.
-Ok, so you’re not topical. Let’s talk about my presumptions on that. The main barrier for you here is that I don’t believe that any state action 100% pollutes any action. That doesn’t mean the state is good. Far from it. But considering the fact that many of the teams that refuse to ever agree with the topic attend STATE UNIVERSITIES with coaches receiving paychecks from THE STATE it’s hard for me to understand why talking about state action is impossible. That’s not a killer argument, but it does seem to hint that SOME state actions are not entirely poisonous. This is my own view and while it does color my T arguments, it’s not insurmountable. Here’s how you overcome that.
-Don’t be anti-topical. It’s a lot easier for me to vote for you if you’re not anti-topical. If you are anti-topical, say, your affirmative says (last year’s topic) that prostitution is bad (and implies shouldn’t be legal) then it’s going to be much harder for you to win in front of me. The reason is simply that you’ve staked out negative ground. You’ve admitted there’s a debate to be had on something and chosen NOT to take your assigned side. You refuse to take up the affirmative side yet you functionally attempt to force the other team to do just that.
- Being PRO-TOPICAL still requires you to be smart. The problem is that the other team will ask, “Why NOT be topical?” You need an answer to that question that isn’t just “State messed up, yo.” You CAN argue that. You CAN win that argument. But I’m going to want nuanced reasons that are specific to a particular to a place and time. Saying, “The US government is messed up and did bad things” seems to me to beg the question of what it SHOULD do to change. So, to overcome that you’ll need to explain why it’s better to debate about your adjacent discussion of topical things rather that government action AND you’ll need to explain why that’s an AFFIRMATIVE argument and not a negative argument.
-Answer their offensive arguments on T. Limits, ground, fairness, predictability, education—these are real things in debate and they matter. You will do well to answer these arguments with both offense and defense. I often see all offense (limits debate protect white folks) without any defense. PARTICULARLY answer their arguments about why topical/legal debating is good, in addition to the regular T argument set. These cards tend to be pretty good so your responses need to be good as well. “Fairness for who?” is a good question—but it needs to be answered rather than just leaving it open ended. On your education arguments you need to move beyond “All our arguments are educational” to explaining why you lead to good, predictable debates that are relatively fair and deeply educational. I am in agreement with the point that critical identity arguments are intrinsically educational (see my intro to this whole thing) but the bigger question is how do they create good debates where both sides explore issues in depth? There are really good reasons that this is the case—you need to make those arguments.
-Address topical version of the affirmative and understand that the legal debates good is a net benefit to this argument. A good team T will argue that you do not have a right to the perfect affirmative, just one that lets you discuss similar key issues. Also understand that “State bad” isn’t necessarily an answer. If can be, but even the anti-statist needs to understand the state. As a former anti-capitalist advocate, I still needed lawyers to get me out of jail and I still needed knowledge of the law to protect myself from the police as much as could be managed..
-Realize that “No Topical Version” is a trap. If you say no topical version, you are setting yourself up to link to the “this is anti-topical” argument, i.e., that your aff is wholly unpredictable and in the reverse direction of all of the regular topic negative arguments. The “no topical version of the aff” made by the 2AC sounds like, “Our whole affirmative advantage is illegitimate.” If you say “yes, topical version” then obviously you’ve also set yourself up. At the very least, so don't assert the 'no topical version' and set yourself up for this debate intentionally.
-Have an answer for the topical research burden argument. Critical identity teams are fond of arguing that there are many different versions of their arguments—TRUE! Which for teams going for T just shows how large the research burden becomes to prep for every single iteration—every different case is its own topic area. You need offensive and defense arguments. The argument that “You just don’t want to answer/research queer/black/feminist/trans/ableism arguments” is a good starting point but it’s not enough (and solved by topical version of the affirmative). “Case list” is also not answer to this argument, because research burden isn’t a question of predictability. Don’t fall into the trap of listing off a bunch of crappy positions you refuse to defend (state good, cap K) as neg ground.
-Find A CERTAIN TOPICALITY. Optimally, a strategic team will find a way to be topical, yet not defend the state. FYI, I absolutely do not think that having a plan that mentions what the US or USFG should do obligates you to defend “the State”. I think it obligates you to defend that particular state action. However, I think you can go beyond that. I think you can defend the plan as a critical intervention, as an imaginative starting point, as epistemological experiment etc. without defending state action in other ways. Now, you’ll have to defend your plan (or a topical advocacy statement—you need not have a PLAN, per se) in SOME ways but probably not a lot of different things.
-Impact turn topicality. If all else fails, impact turn and be extremely offensive against it. Disallow me from voting for T—you can complete this tactic by providing defense against their impact arguments while working on your own. Defense wins championships.
Hints not related to topicality
Once you’re past the topicality gate, you’re in the realm of normal non-procedural arguments and I have few suggestions in this area to avoid common errors (certainly not universal errors) I see in debates in front of me:
-Back up outrage with arguments. Excellent critical identity teams do this…but younger/lesser teams seem to struggle with this. Don’t get so wound up in your position that it stops you from making your argument.
-Antagonizing your opponent won’t sway me. There are reasons that you may choose to antagonize your opponent, some of which may be strategic, some not, some both. But as for how I view the debate, it will not contribute to me voting for you. See note in original philosophy about respectful behavior toward colleagues.
-Make the history lesson pay. Sometimes these debates collapse into scattered historical anecdotes that are only lightly tied together—get full credit for your analysis of history by investing time in explaining its application in this case.
-Don’t rely too heavily on enthymeme (don’t rely on me filling in the blanks for you). Too often, I hear judges (on MANY sides) say, “I guess I just know what they’re talking about.” No. You have an explanatory burden to help me cognitively grasp the situation. I grasp the frustration that comes with my lack of cultural connection to your argument, but I’m doing my best. If you think, “I’m tired of explaining myself to straight people, white people, cis gender people, able-bodied people, etc” and then don’t explain, it becomes really hard for me to vote for you (as well as making a bunch of assumptions that may or may not be accurate, depending on your judge). I won’t vote on what I can’t explain.
FINAL NOTE: You might be thinking, after reading this, ‘WOW, we’re NEVER preferring him. Look all the things he wants us to do—his presumptions are just too high. What a T hack.’
Maybe. But what I’ve tried to do is review almost every argument I find persuasive on T and flag it for you and send you in the right direction in answering it. In REAL DEBATES, teams won’t make all these arguments and they won’t always make them well. I ALWAYS evaluate the debate in front of me. But I wanted to flag all these so you could think through your answers and win my ballot. I wanted to flag these because winning my ballot is possible, not impossible.
I also think this can serve as a primer for winning in front of judges that are like me. To succeed in the big picture, you need to expand your judging pool. At the NDT and in national circuit elimination debates, you can’t hide from all the judges who think topicality is a thing or who have a grounding in traditional critique or policy debate. In my ideal world, you’d see me (or someone like me) on a panel against a non-critical identity team and think, “Good. Mick is a fair judge who sees the value of our arguments. He cares about our role in debateland and the world and even though he might not be our wheelhouse judge, we know the route to win with him.”
And, in the ideal world, your opponent would think the exact same thing.
I want to say that I am not a fan of ethics challenges but they may be the only resolution to certain circumstances. In most cases, I prefer lesser solution from a team with a ethics-related issue: i.e., rejection of the piece of evidence, rejection of a position, rejection of all evidence with demonstrated problems, etc.
I have a relatively standard procedure on ethics challenges. Ethics challenges are accusations of academic misconduct against the opposing team that are outside the bounds of what can be adjudicated by the debate. Justifications for an ethics challenge include, but are not limited to:
1) Mis-representing evidence, i.e., “cutting out of context”--This includes highlighting, reading, or constructing evidence in a way that allows the team to present the evidence as supporting a claim that directly contradicts the intention of the author.
2) Fabricating evidence– This includes altering evidence by adding or deleting parts of cited evidence or wholesale making up evidence and presenting it in a debate.
3) Mis-representing what evidence has been read in the round, i.e., “clipping” or “cross-reading” or falsely claiming a piece of evidence has been read when it has not, or, alternatively, claiming a piece of evidence has NOT been read by the team when it has.
4) Refusing to provide your cited/read evidence to your opponent in the debate or intentionally leaving evidence out of a speech document in order to gain a competitive advantage.
5) Intentionally mis-citing evidence in order to gain a competitive advantage, i.e., leaving out an author or source that might be a liability in a debate. Incidental mis-citation is not subject to an ethics challenge.
6) Using ellipsis or leaving out parts of evidence that are part of the context of the evidence because the part excluded by the ellipsis would be a significant liability in the debate.
7) Intentionally mis-disclosing to another team in pre-round pre-round preparation in order to gain a competitive advantage.
8) If you generally accuse the team ‘cheating’ on any non-debate argument issue and try to make it a ‘voting issue’ (disclosure, speech docs, cards, etc), I will ask if you intend this as an ethics challenge.
This is not a complete list. Please note that some of these include a factor of intention and others do not. If you read a card that’s out of context or fabricated, it doesn't matter if you or your partner didn’t cut the card. In other cases, there must be intention.
Process and burden of proof for ethics challenges:
1) An ethics challenge will stop the round. I may pause once and try to talk through the issue briefly, trying to find a negotiating solution short of the challenge. But once the challenge is confirmed, it’s round over for me. If the tournament or organization procedures turn it over to the tournament officials, I will do that. If it is left to me to decide, I will ask for proof and defense and make a decision. I may give time for teams to produce evidence. For example, to provide a full length version of a card, article, book to demonstrate a defense. Moreover, I am NOT simply relying on team arguments. This is no longer a debate where I rely solely on the arguments presented. I will use any resource I can to reach a conclusion. If I am on a panel and it is not in my sole power to stop the round, I will adjudicate the debate based on the initial charge and defense. I will not evaluate the rest of the debate, even if the rest of the debate proceeds.
(2) I have a fairly high bar for voting on them. I must see clear and convincing evidence of the conditions above. Suspicion or even simply me believing it’s likely is not sufficient for me to vote on an ethics challenge against a team.
(3) If an ethics challenge is proven with clear and convincing evidence it’s a loss for the team challenged. If it is not proven to a clear and convincing level, it’s a loss for the team conducting the challenge.
1. I am worn out of looking through 6 different speech documents for cards. I am implementing a policy of asking that cards on positions that have been gone for in the 2NR/2AR be consolidated and sent to me). You don't need to sort out WHICH cards you went for, it's easier if I pick through what matters. Just consolidate them, organized by SUBJECT and SPEECH and send them to me. If you are paper team, you're are a cruel person who wants trees to die, but, on the other hand you make judging much easier :).
2. Most CX answers that given outside the 3 minutes of designated CX are not relevant to my decision. You want to get your argumentative question in? Fit your question and the opportunity to answer it into the CX time. You don't get to use some prep time to cover the argument you dropped, so you don't get to used prep time to ask the questions you forgot. Exception A: Filibustering to run out the clock will cause me to ignore this rule. CXer, you'll know you are free to keep asking because I will keep paying attention instead of getting up or walking away. Exception B: While answers might be non-binding, deception is misconduct foul, auto-loss. If the Cx-ee answers a clarifying question in prep like, "What's the status of the counterplan?" and then CHANGES it and thinks that's a clever trick, I see that as misconduct. Exception C: I think clarifying questions are fine in CX. Examples: What was your third argument on the DA? What's the status of the CP? Which card did you read? Answering these questions are matters of courtesy and fair play. Of course, they might just answer: "We didn't take a position on CP rules in the 1NC." And you'll be out of luck in arguing with them.
Deputy Director of the Academic Research Division at USMA, PHD in African History. Wrote a book on the intersection of race and religion.
Previous experience in competitive forensics as a competitor and as a judge in LD and CX.
Underwent USMA policy debate training and understands the parameters of the activity. Leans towards practical impacts and clear analysis in the final rebuttals. Debaters should weigh their impacts and explain why the arguments they believe they are winning means why they should win the round.
email is firstname.lastname@example.org
my pronouns are they/them and she/hers but i prefer they/them.
i debated for brooklyn tech in the northeastern circuit. I have coached for MS 50 in the bilingual league and now work for the NYCUDL and for Binghamton debate.
i did mostly critical debate and performance debate focusing on identity, particularly indigeneity, queerness, feminism, and academia.
fairness is an internal link to education in my mind.
i will vote on presumtion if neither team makes sufficient offense to resolve the other’s team’s alt/cp/da/whatever
anyone who commits microagressions or is being rude (included but not limited to speaking over non-men, yelling at their opponents, purposely misgendering someone, or interrupting speeches) will receive -.5 in speaker points. anyone who is blatantly homophobic, anti-black, sexist, or ableist will receive an automatic loss.
being witty makes me happy. judging rounds are boring when debaters are: monotone, ununique (is that a word?) all business. this activity is fun- make it fun for me and your speaks will benefit
adding to that, i will be very unhappy if you are not being clear- i’ll say clear a few times and if i can’t understand you i will stop flowing. so plz be clear so that i can flow your speech.
have fun and feel free to email me questions!
Hi! My name is Chris. My pronouns are He/Him/His. ChristopherRashadWilliams@gmail.com. for the doc chain or reaching out for questions on the debate.
Summary: I did policy debate with the Rutgers-Newark squad for 4 years. Most of my arguments on the Aff and Neg were based on the work of Deleuze, Lacan, Baudrillard, Wilderson, and secondary lit based on their writings. I also won a few rounds by modifying standup routines for debate rounds. I treat debate rounds like a game, the judge judges listens to whatever happens in round, bracketing their personal preferences as much as possible, unless a team calls on them to not restrain themselves in such a way. The Aff affirms something and the Neg negates something. That something may be the topic, its up to you lot. Clarity and signposting > Reading 10 cards in 8 seconds. I look forward to sharing a round with you!
Of the list of Judge types listed on https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judge_%28policy_debate%29, I identify closest with the Tabula Rasa category.
Assume I am new to the topic -- Be careful with acronyms
With that said, I realize that debate may be meaningful and or useful for others in ways that it is not for me. I am open to: straight up discussions of policy, the transformative potential of poetry, whatever. Talk about what you like, just give warranted reasons for who I should vote for and why. Be prepared to defend how you go about doing that. Want to be opaque? Cool! Find a way to justify it without double turning yourself. Unless double turning yourself is good for some reason. I don't know. If I'm nodding at something you say in the rebuttal, then you are doing something right. If I give you a weird look, then its probably because you made a weird argument.
Clarity trumps speed. I may not catch all the warrants and author name in a 4 second spurt, but if it's an argument that is important to you/ compelling enough for you to stake the debate outcome on it, invest enough of your time in it so that this doesn't become a problem.
I do not consider myself a good judge for topicality debates versus policy Affs
Please keep your own time.
In your final speeches, keep it simple in order to minimize my interference.
Kritiks--You should make the framework with which I consider the plan versus the alternative clear. In combination with this, you should make the alternative's interaction with the advantages clear i.e. does the alt solve the case or does the case just not matter? I think the aff has the same burden. Usually big K debates resolve around the clash of viewpoints so make your viewpoint clear in comparison to theirs.
I appreciate a clean 2AR/2NR. Here are some ways to clean them up:
Clarifying points of conflict: They say [claim], but XYZ
Clarifying why I should care that X argument was dropped: They may be winning on the case flow, but they conceded our Nietzsche 63' that says you frame the entire debate as a game of chance and decide based on a coin flip. Heads we win, tails they lose!
Be Confident where you are on the flow, but assess accurately - '"Debaters should recognize when they are losing certain arguments/parts of the debate and incorporate that understanding into their rebuttals." -- Jackson Erpenbach' - Brandon Kelley"
Clarifying alternatives: How would you describe the alt to your non-debate friends? If the alt description is vague then I am willing to give the aff a lot of leeway on what the permutation looks/functions like.
The scale is in your hands: Tell me how to weigh impacts! Sure, 15 more mosquitoes might not be as bad as Nuclear War, but whats the time frame? If the war is a couple hundred years out, the mosquitoes might pick up a ballot. Should I care more about this round'ss outcome or the general trajectory of Debate generally? If the latter, inform me on the general trajectory of Debate and how it would differ if I give you a support ballot. If this is the strat, burden is on you to prove that the Aff somehow makes that general trajectory worse.
I appreciate a clean cross-ex. Here are some ways to clean them up:
Please do not prevent your opponent from answering questions in CX. I reserve the right to dock points for that.
Ask the status of CPs/Ks etc if you like. Answers are binding.
Have a few general clarifying questions for your opponent. Understand in order to overcome.
Please do not use cross-ex to show off how smart you are. Mastery shines through subtle acts. Do your work on the flow and boast with skill, not bragging.
2nd year as Assistant Director of Debate with Binghamton University, previously coached & debated at GMU. Been involved in Policy Debate in some fashion since 2009.
Conflicts- Broome County Debate Alliance/Binghamton City Schools, George Mason University, Binghamton University
If I am judging you for high school tournaments (like Harvard) know I have 0 high school topic knowledge, so explanation is very important/necessary.
***TL;DR Version (Bolded is the even more efficient version***
I prefer you do what you're best at. I will adjust accordingly. Outside of hateful/problematic rhetoric anything on my paradigm can be changed with good enough debating. But to give some context, when I debated did mostly policy, with some critical debate towards the end. Coaching wise have coached at all levels and various styles, outside of novice the past 2 years was more focused with critical teams.
Clarity > Speed but that is obvious, go as fast as you think you can continue to be clear, I'll tell you to be clear if you aren't because my hearing isn't the greatest.
I do want to be on the email chain (email@example.com) (It is fine to use my old email if you already have it) just let me know which you're using before the round starts.
Don't say offensive things, I reserve the right to end debates IF I think an issue has gone too far or is inappropriate for the situation at hand
Online Debate Specific - tl;dr do what makes you the most comfortable. Cameras on or off I don't care, I want whatever makes you speak at your clearest point. Likewise I will be doing what ensures my connection and clarity is at its best. This may mean my camera is off sometimes. IF it is off, wait for verbal confirmation before starting speeches. I do plan to have my camera on barring bad internet however.
Explanation >>>> More Evidence, I generally rely on the debater's words, not the evidence. I am not as grumpy about reading cards as I was a few years ago, BUT I still prefer to defer to your words, versus reading your evidence. Being even more direct; explain your arguments!
For critical teams it is because I am not super familiar with your literature bases (though this is better than in the past, a perk of being at Bing), so I appreciate real world examples and analysis.
For Policy teams this means explaining concepts/acronyms. Yes I will have done policy research on personhood, but outside of Bing novice/jv needs this will not be my main research focus during the year- assume I don't know what most acronyms mean for the topic and explain accordingly.
Thoughts after Kentucky/the various Regional tournaments in October
- I'm normally a person who's very much pro small affs/unique affs on the topic (throwback to the Single Payer/Carbon Tax topics) because I enjoy seeing what unique things people can come up with. That being said some of the affs i'm seeing seem a tiny bit ridiculous. On the other hand I would like to see a bit more specification in terms of the right or duty (or multiple) of what the aff does at a given time
- Counterplans seem a bit weird on the topic- def need more explanation or sit down time on what they actually do or how they differ from the affirmative.
Thoughts leading up to remaining end of year tournaments (Jv/Novice Nats, CEDA, NDT)
This topic is huge. I don't think this really has led me to really want to demand a smaller topic in the future, but IT does make me sympathetic to well done topicality/specification arguments- there should be some checks. Likewise I think negatives are in a weird spot because I think a lot of counterplan direction, mostly the number of them, is getting ridiculous but being neg is hard on this topic but I think there's easier ways to capitalize on these affirmatives versus reading 3-4 conditional worlds. Doesn't really change what I think since it's ultimately up to y'all but just something I wanted to throw out there.
K Wise: I'm increasingly leaning towards wanting more engagement with affs, I do think more options, or even just more of case debates or DA/CP debates (when applicable) would be nice. Maybe i'm getting tired of the same old framework debates, maybe it's something I'm missing- but while my views on framework haven't changed (it's a viable, needed argument and sometimes fairness is an impact) I feel as though this topic has shifted me in ways that I think more case debate is even more important than it already is in these debates.
Is good and appreciated, and needs more support. I will give any/all arguments their proper weight, Thresholds may be adjusted/slightly more forgiving than in higher divisions. Try to make things fun because that is what novice debate is all about.
Is a voter
Hard for me to vote aff if no we meet/counter-interpretation is extended
Hard for me to vote neg if no standards/interpretation are extended
I prefer competing interpretations over reasonability
End of/Start of Season/Core aff etc. type of arguments are not persuasive, generally technical debating will always beat out my personal feelings on what is or isn't topical.
Personhood topic takes (going into NDT/JVNov/CEDA): Topic large, I'm prob willing to vote on Subsets or some sort of brightline for topics but I think that teams having to defend some large part of nature/AI/non-human animals is more persuasive than every Role/Duty.
I reward teams punishing aff mistakes. This means exploiting things that aff authors say in the 8 sized font, or later in the article. Not there's no fed action key card in the 1AC.
Judge kick is asinine and is part of the cause of neg terrorism in policy debates. That being said IF neg says I get to judge kick and aff doesn't say no I will, but any aff pushback makes it unlikely I kick the CP for the negative.
Aff leaning on most theory questions
I like smart/specialized permutations versus generic perm do both that morphs in the 1AR.
**Important Theory Notes** - Can be persuaded that anything but perm theory = reason to reject, however the more absurd the theoretical objection the more work you'll have to do. Limited Condo is good, more than 2 condo is bad unless the aff is new (which ups this to 3). Kicking counterplan planks is always bad. New Aff/NDT/Northwestern means neg gets to do what they want is not an argument.
I am very much in the aff's corner on checking against neg ridiculousness in terms of counterplan practices. That being said I am not an auto Aff ballot on theory. Affs need to invest adequate time to win these debates. Negative teams need to invest actual time into defending 3+ worlds, or kicking planks, etc. in a counterplan. I don't vote on theory often, usually because either not enough time was spent on it or key defense/offense is dropped. But I do when the aff capitalizes on mistakes + has clearly impacted out why it means neg loses the debate.
Are good- I enjoy a clear DA + Case debate (I don't know who wouldn't)
Up to the debater to tell me if the link or uniqueness determine each other and what that means.
I will listen to/vote on politics DAs but general args about how unlikely it is to work or happen are persuasive.
I will still vote on Midterms but full disclosure, "it's too early/can't predict IS very persuasive vs this DA carded or not in front of me.
Analytics can beat a bad DA/bad ev.
I coach at Bing now that should answer this question a bit. That being said I am perfectly fine with critiques but admittedly still have a long way to go on knowing the ins/outs of what your lit says. I will always give it a fair shake. You more than likely will know the lit better than I do. That being said;
The easiest way to get my ballot is to explain your argument - Even IF I understand what you're saying the burden is on you to explain it. Teams who have won my ballot with critical arguments on the negative have done one OR more of the following
- Good line by line/tech
- Excellent explanation/contextualization of their argument to the affirmative
- instructed me on what to do and how to evaluate rounds using your method/alt.
I don't need an alt to vote neg, I need instruction. Tell me the story of your arg, how it interacts with debate and how it impacts the aff. Give me link analysis using empirics and cx and the aff's own evidence. Tell me a story, I am very persuaded by real world impacts in these debates. BE SPECIFIC. The easier I can tie your articulation to the aff, the easier it is for me.
That being said for the policy team (or other critical team) on the aff. Don't run away from these debates. As long as it isn't unethical/offensive, defend your aff. If you are saying heg good, go for heg good. IF you say econ markets good/economic collapse bad, trying to link turn cap makes less sense than just saying Cap good. Do not run away from links, just defend your affirmative.
***Critical Affs/Clash Debates***
Aff should be in the direction of the topic and do something
Aff should explain how/what they do, the impact and why I should vote for you - remember I don't know your arg better than you
IF, as an Aff team you say in 1AC CX that X DA links to your aff, it will not bode well if that turns out to be a lie (unless the neg just doesn't read a link). Have OFFENSE that is specific to your aff to weigh vs framework/other arguments, but having some defense is never a bad thing (Impact Defense to neg standards is a big thing for me)
Defense in these debates wins debates- I see too many instances where a team drops offense or has 0 defense on a critical internal link/impact from the other side's framing. I feel that in all circumstances you need some sort of defense.
Framing is important - judge instruction/role of judge etc. can go a long way to overcoming technical drops if the other team doesn't contest them.
Fairness/Ground more persuasive on framework than portable skills type of standards.
Aff specific K/DA/case arg > Framework > Generic K in terms of options
Unless it's dropped the aff gets the perm, the arguments against it haven't seemed as persuasive as simply winning a DA or link to your argument from the permutation.
Framing is important- judge instruction, role of judge arguments, etc. need to be responded to or otherwise included in impact calc, there is a world where those arguments can be presented in a way persuasive enough to have me ignore/prioritize technical drops a bit less than normal.
Treat me like a judge who flows but has done very little, usually 0 topic research, more explanation is key but is fine with faster speaking, policyesque strategies, etc..
Parli/Lincoln Douglas Debate - I know little about either of these, other than speech times. at most I have read some random articles, have judged some LD debate but have never coached OR participated myself. Just tell me how to vote, what's important and what is involved. I'm ok with Policy LD because most of my background is in policy. I will have not done topic research.
Public Forum - Spring 2021 was my last time actively being involved/researching or coaching Public Forum debate outside of helping at some summer camps/back when I was in High School. I will flow, I don't care about speed but I also am not used to what has changed about PF since 2009.
Based on my judging history I have learned 2 things.
1. I generally vote in a "lazy" way, not lazy as in i don't pay attention/flow but lazy as in the team who best tells me what to do, whether that is via a framework argument, impact analysis or simply the other team dropped x arg, this is most important thing in round, is more than likely to win. You are also likely to lose if your Final Focus is less about why you should win and more on responding to the other team. Points are usually higher in the debates where at least 1 team does the needed work versus ones where the teams do not direct me to a way to evaluate my ballot
2. in the world of online debate I do not like the trend of simply copying-pasting a link, OR a card w/o citations, etc into the online platform chat. As a result I've decided to try something new for PF.
Teams who share evidence in ways that are not simply pasting a link/unformatted card in the zoom/NSDA chat will gain bonus speaks in front of me.
.2 for using/sharing a google doc
.5 for using email chains (for the entire round)
1 full point if proof of updating your wiki/online with the round that was just judged
May keep this bonus to incentivize better evidence practices once we go offline again, stay tuned.
3. I generally am down for whatever yall can justify, just impact it well
But overall, just do what you do best.
***Misc Things that will apply regardless of debate format***
Don't troll debates- we all have invested time into being there for the period of time, would make my life easier if you wanted to forfeit/flip a coin/play a game/something vs running meme/joke args for no reason. If you do so you get a loss 15, if you do it but you're funny you get a 25 instead. Don't waste my and your opponent's time please.
Clarity > Speed
Tech > Truth (within reason)
Should be a given but don't say racist/offensive things.
Please don't cheat, if you do and you're caught, all proper things via the tournament will be pursued. IF you accuse someone of cheating and are wrong just don't.
Long overviews that attempt to replace line by line are not it, please do not do them - need direct line by line for best results.
Explain your args- spin/analysis means a C+/B- card can beat an A card with no spin. I try not to read evidence unless I absolutely have to, OR if the work to compare the pieces is done
Bonus speaks (to my discretion) to good League of Legends, Pokemon Unite or Smash Bros references/jokes.
I'm the assistant director of forensics at the University of Rochester. I'm also a history grad student. I think more debaters should be historians.
There will very likely be a pigeon judging with me. You are free to bring seeds to give to him. His name is Jacques Coo-steau.
What I like to see in debates (besides a responsible use of history) is well explained, evidenced and contextualized arguments. Often times, folks will just spend the last few speeches of the round referring and refuting arguments but not getting to the next level of comparing, impacting and narrating the round and it leaves me in a position where it feels like I have to reconstruct debates and I have to intervene in order to make an RFD. A skilled rebuttalist should be identifying the nexus point and making offensive arguments to tip the scales in their favor. A tired rebuttalist will be saying "they didn't touch on this impact turn, therefore we win." Be the skilled rebuttalist. I won't be too mean if you're tired but I'll tell you that you did a bad job. I like flowing and all but tell me the story of the round like you're bragging to your buddies in the van about how you used that amazing card you cut last Thursday to win you the round.
Any and all styles are great since I love it when folks that come out swinging strong for their positions. When y'all can actually be RESOLVED, that's that kind of debate speech I love to see.
A few loose thoughts:
- I don't like it when people ask for high speaker points. If you want a 30, give me a speech that makes me think you're better at debate than Gabby Knight or Kaine Cherry. I'm going to ignore any requests for high speaker points, even if your opponent tells me to follow your instructions. My immediate thought when someone makes this an argument is めんどくさい
- There's a trend of teams not sending out taglines/plan texts on email chains/docs, don't do that. While I still have an aversion to paperless debate, if we're going to be debate cyborgs, be open with what your evidence/positions are so your opponents can engage in good faith.
- send texts for interps/counterinterps and permutations in the chain because I will have no idea what the permutation you extended was and how it avoids some offense you claim it does or why your interp isn't as evil as your opponents claim it is. When I see more than like 3 different perms in a 2AC on any page, especially if it's not written out on a speech chain, my immediate thought is めんどくさい and don't hold me accountable for this.
- I tend to think conditionality is good, since I think Affs should be able to beat the squo or a counterplan/alternative but I have voted on condo bad in the past.
In the off chance I'm in the LD pool, I did conservative value-criteria debate during my time in high school and I'd be lying if I said I liked it. That said, I heard rumors of circuit LD and how y'all seem to have a low threshold for theory arguments and that sounds appalling. I like substantive arguments. I like kritik arguments.
Read that as you wish.
Policy > LD.
Also, I strongly suggest y'all check out Keiko Takemiya's To Terra. It's really good.