The 41st Billy Tate Southern Bell Forum
2023 — Nashville, TN/US
Policy Paradigm ListAll Paradigms: Show Hide
Director of Debate, University of Kentucky
21st year judging
Updated September 2017
Go ahead and put me on the doc chain email@example.com. Please be aware that I do not read along so clarity and explaining your evidence matters a lot. Many debates I will ask for a compiled document after the round. I reward clear line by line debating with mountains of points and wins.
Better team usually wins---X---------------------the rest of this
Team should adapt---------------X----------------judge should adapt
Hester-------------------------X---------------------Read all the cards
Conditionality bad-------------------------------X---debate should be hard
Nothing competes------------------------------X---counterplans are fun
States CP good--------X------------------------------States CP bad
UQ matters most----------------------X-------------Link matters most
Line by Line-X-----------------------------------------Flow Anarchy
Clarity-X------------------------------------------------Srsly who doesn't like clarity
Lots of evidence--------------------------------------X-lots of really good evidence
29 is the new 28---X-----------------------------------grumpy old guy (true for other reasons but less so on this)
Civility-X-------------------------------------------------My Dean would cancel our program if they saw this
Please put me on the chain and feel free to send any questions here: firstname.lastname@example.org
Do whatever you want. None of the biases listed below are so strong as to override who did the better debating, but adjusting to my priors could maximize your chances of winning and result in better speaks. That being said, I probably will come down on policy side against the K if the debate is exactly even.
Being nice in round, evidence quality, and efficient line-by-line are the most important things to me / will be rewarded the most with speaks.
K: I agree with Julian here:
“I will weigh the aff unless convinced otherwise. I enjoy alt debating far, far more than FW. Aff-specific link explanation will be rewarded highly. I am most likely to vote for a K if it uses its critical theory and explanatory power to directly diminish aff solvency rather than try to access a larger impact. If debated like a critical CP, DA, and case push, you will be rewarded.”
CP: Lean neg pretty heavily on most theory but could go either way on process cps, depending on the quality / specificity of the cp and in-round theory debating. I won't judge kick unless told to.
DA: Nothing new to say really. Think that generic DAs are probably underutilized, so no worries going for those in front of me.
K Affs / FW: I went for framework many times in high school, so I judge these rounds with the experience of having been on the neg vs k affs more so than being on the aff vs fw. For affs, I find straight up impact turns / k’s of fw more persuasive than c/i + defining words in the rez. For the neg, I’m more of a skills / education impact person, but still will listen to fairness / clash impacts.
T: Please please give me more background on the topic than you would normally. I have no idea what the core of the topic, community consensus, or what the best core generics are. The team that more specifically describes what their vision of the topic usually seems to win these debates.
Speaker Points: Mine are probably too inflated. Will reward kind debaters who are enjoying themselves in the activity.
Maggie Berthiaume Woodward Academy
Current Coach — Woodward Academy (2011-present)
Former Coach — Lexington High School (2006-2008), Chattahoochee High School (2008-2011)
College Debater — Dartmouth College (2001-2005)
High School Debater — Blake (1997-2001)
email@example.com for email chains, please.
College Update for Jan 2023
I'm looking forward to judging some college debates this semester. I don't know a ton about the topic, but I'm looking forward to learning. Please explain your acronyms and give context if you think there's a community consensus on a particular issue. Otherwise just debate!
Please be nice. If you don't want to be kind to others (the other team, your partner, me, the novice flowing the debate in the back of the room), please don’t prefer me.
2. I'm a high school teacher and believe that debates should be something I could enthusiastically show to my younger students, their parents, or my principal. What does that mean? If your high school teachers would find your presentation inappropriate, I am likely to as well.
3. Please be clear. I will call "clear" if I can't understand you, but debate is primarily a communication activity. Do your best to connect on meaningful arguments.
4. Conduct your own CX as much as possible. CX is an important time for judge impression formation, and if one partner does all asking and answering for the team, it is very difficult to evaluate both debaters. Certainly the partner not involved in CX can get involved in an emergency, but that should be brief and rare if both debaters want good points.
5. If you like to be trolly with your speech docs (read on paper to prevent sharing, remove analyticals, etc.), please don't. See "speech documents" below for a longer justification and explanation.
6. I’ve coached and judged for a long time now, and the reason I keep doing it is that I think debate is valuable. Students who demonstrate that they appreciate the opportunity to debate and are passionate and excited about the issues they are discussing are a joy to watch — they give judges a reason to listen even when we’re sick or tired or judging the 5th debate of the day on the 4th weekend that month. Be that student!
7. "Maggie" (or "Ms. B." if you prefer), not "judge."
What does a good debate look like?
Everyone wants to judge “good debates.” To me, that means two excellently-prepared teams who clash on fundamental issues related to the policy presented by the affirmative. The best debates allow four students to demonstrate that they have researched a topic and know a lot about it — they are debates over issues that experts in the field would understand and appreciate. The worst debates involve obfuscation and tangents. Good debates usually come down to a small number of issues that are well-explained by both sides. The best final rebuttals have clearly explained ballot and a response to the best reason to vote for the opposing team.
I have not decided to implement the Shunta Jordan "no more than 5 off" rule, but I understand why she has it, and I agree with the sentiment. I'm not establishing a specific number, but I would like to encourage negative teams to read fully developed positions in the 1NC (with internal links and solvency advocates as needed). (Here's what she says: "There is no world where the Negative needs to read more than 5 off case arguments. SO if you say 6+, I'm only flowing 5 and you get to choose which you want me to flow.") If you're thinking "nbd, we'll just read the other four DAs on the case," I think you're missing the point. :) It's not about the specific number, it's about the depth of argument.
Do you read evidence?
Yes, in nearly every debate. I will certainly read evidence that is contested by both sides to resolve who is correct in their characterizations. The more you explain your evidence, the more likely I am to read it. For me, the team that tells the better story that seems to incorporate both sets of evidence will almost always win. This means that instead of reading yet another card, you should take the time to explain why the context of the evidence means that your position is better than that of the other team. This is particularly true in close uniqueness and case debates.
Do I have to be topical?
Yes. Affirmatives are certainly welcome to defend the resolution in interesting and creative ways, but that defense should be tied to a topical plan to ensure that both sides have the opportunity to prepare for a topic that is announced in advance. Affirmatives certainly do not need to “role play” or “pretend to be the USFG” to suggest that the USFG should change a policy, however.
I enjoy topicality debates more than the average judge as long as they are detailed and well-researched. Examples of this include “intelligence gathering” on Surveillance, “health care” on Social Services, and “economic engagement” on Latin America. Debaters who do a good job of describing what debates would look like under their interpretation (aff or neg) are likely to win. I've judged several "substantial" debates in recent years that I've greatly enjoyed.
Can I read [X ridiculous counterplan]?
If you have a solvency advocate, by all means. If not, consider a little longer. See: “what does as good debate look like?” above. Affs should not be afraid to go for theory against contrived counterplans that lack a solvency advocate. On the flip side, if the aff is reading non-intrinsic advantages, the "logical" counterplan or one that uses aff solvency evidence for the CP is much appreciated.
What about my generic kritik?
Topic or plan specific critiques are absolutely an important component of “excellently prepared teams who clash on fundamental issues.” Kritiks that can be read in every debate, regardless of the topic or affirmative plan, are usually not.
Given that the aff usually has specific solvency evidence, I think the neg needs to win that the aff makes things worse (not just “doesn’t solve” or “is a mask for X”). Neg – Please spend the time to make specific links to the aff — the best links are often not more evidence but examples from the 1AC or aff evidence.
What about offense/defense?
I do believe there is absolute defense and vote for it often.
Do you take prep for emailing/flashing?
Once the doc is saved, your prep time ends.
I have some questions about speech documents...
One speech document per speech (before the speech). Any additional cards added to the end of the speech should be sent out as soon as feasible.
Teams that remove analytical arguments like permutation texts, counter-interpretations, etc. from their speech documents before sending to the other team should be aware that they are also removing them from the version I will read at the end of the debate — this means that I will be unable to verify the wording of their arguments and will have to rely on the short-hand version on my flow. This rarely if ever benefits the team making those arguments.
Speech documents should be provided to the other team as the speech begins. The only exception to this is a team who debates entirely off paper. Teams should not use paper to circumvent norms of argument-sharing.
I will not consider any evidence that did not include a tag in the document provided to the other team.
I debated for Niles West and Michigan State, and I currently teach and coach for Montgomery Bell Academy.
Put me on the email chain: firstname.lastname@example.org
Here is how you can make me want to give you a ballot + good speaks:
1. Make the debate comfortable and fun. I am not a good judge for you if you get super aggressive, snarky, or rude in round. I am a teacher - treat your partner and opponents the way you'd treat your classmates.
2. Do not "cut corners" in your prep - I get very sad when I see incomplete DAs, incoherent T arguments, evidence so un-highlighted it doesn't say anything, etc, deployed for the purpose of winning through out-spreading instead of out-debating. I generally don't think teams should be reading more than 6 off.
3. Do not forget you are in a public speaking activity. I am not evaluating the debate based off your speech doc. Unfortunately, this is a problem that online debate has exacerbated through normalizing a lack of clarity. I am a very fast writer and strong flow, so if I am unable to write down your arguments, then I'm not going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you made them.
3a. Please stop offering or asking for marked docs unless it is absolutely necessary. Skipping over some cards in a doc is not a reason to request/send a marked doc. This practice disincentives flowing speeches. I will consider docking speaker points from those who ask if I think it is unnecessary. Asking about what arguments your opponent did or didn't make counts as CX.
4. Do not abuse tag-team CX in either asking or answering questions.
5. This should be obvious, but no stealing prep. Once prep stops, everyone needs to have their hands and eyes off their computers, except for the one sending the email. I will call you out on this publicly and dock your speaks for it if you do it. There was no way to enforce this online, but now that we're in person, it's obvious.
Sorry if that all came across as grumpy. If you can do all of those things, then I'm happy and I look forward to judging you. I think that policy debate is good and that fairness/clash/limits are all things which matter. I think debates should not exclude critical perspectives and we should seek to do what best improves the activity overall.
Don't read arguments advocating for death, human extinction, or nuclear war in front of me - I won't vote for them.
Bakersfield High School class of 2017
Cal State Fullerton Class of 2021
2x NDT Qualifier
NDT Quarterfinalist - 2021
CEDA Semifinalist - 2021
Damien HS Assistant Debate Coach Fall 2022-Present
Cal State Fullerton Assistant Debate Coach Fall 2021-Present
Previously Coached by: Lee Thach, LaToya Green, Shanara Reid-Brinkley, Max Bugrov, Anthony Joseph, and Travis Cochran
If there is an email chain I would like to be on it: (if you could put both of these emails on the email chain)
College: email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
HS: email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have any questions feel free to email me
Dont call me judge I feel weird about it, feel free to call me Jared
I did four years of policy debate in high school mostly debating on a regional circuit and did not compete nationally till my junior and senior year, debated at Cal State Fullerton (2017-2021)
New for 2022-2023:
NATO Rounds Judged: 45
Legal Personhood: 4
Mostly going to be in the HS scene this year, my senior year topic was alliances and I am coaching for Damien this year so I have a broad range of topic knowledge from both debating and coaching as well that being said my topic knowledge is includes a wide range of both policy and K so pref me how you see fit.
I have gotten increasingly irritated of Ks not making a specific link because most 1NC cards yall read are ok and most 2NCs don't know how to make a link arg, so I have been defaulting aff more on a link level vs the K
As I am a full year removed from debating I have increasingly voted for fw more and more often and for me its just because the 2AC doesn't have the best answers and 1ARs miss important pieces of offense that are difficult to come back from, and most of the ground and clash args to me have some of the time just became true.
K: Love the K, this is where i spent more of the time in my debate and now coaching career, I think I have an understanding of generally every K, in college, I mostly read Afro-Pessimism/Gillespie, but other areas of literature I am familiar with cap, cybernetics, baudrillard, psychoanalysis, Moten/Afro-Optimism, Afro-Futurism, arguments in queer and gender studies, whatever the K is I should have somewhat a basic understanding of it. I think that to sufficiently win the K, I often think that it is won and lost on the link debate, because smart 2Ns that rehiglight 1AC cards and use their link to impact turn of internal link turn the aff will 9/10 win my ballot. Most def uping your speaker points if you rehighlight the other teams cards.
For Critical Affirmatives: I like them, in college and in high school I have read them if you're going to read them though I need a clear understanding of the method that is the most important to me. I find that most K affs lose their method throughout the debate and most times I usually end up voting on presumption because I am not sure what the aff does. I think as ive gotten older this is really true and I really hate it when the aff doesn't have any tangible examples of what their method looks like to hang my hat on which is how i feel that alt/aff methods are won.
K affs VS Framework: I think that the aff in these debates always needs to have a role of the negative, because a lot of you K affs out their solve all of these things and its written really well but you say something most times that is non-controversal and that gets you in trouble which means its tough for you to win a fw debate when there is no role for the negative. In terms of like counter interp vs impact turn style of 2AC vs fw I dont really have a preference but i think you at some point need to have a decent counter interp to solve your impact turns to fw. If you go for the like w/m kind of business i think you can def win this but i think fw teams are prepared for this debate more than the impact turn debate
Plan Based Affirmatives: For teams in HS, some of you are not reading a different aff against K teams and I think you should, it puts you in a good place to beat the K, I have seen some teams do it on the water topic but for the most part you are just reading your big stick policy aff against K teams. I enjoy judging the heg good aff vs 7 off debate, policy aff you do you.
Framework: Yall need to go for what is the role of the negative (RotN) to me I think this is more persuasive than like any type of fairness argument because really RotN is the internal link to any impact argument you are going to make and it means that all of their offense that they are going to go for about their education being better and why your model is bad its all internal link turned by making the arg that they dont have a role for the negative so their revolutionary testing doesnt matter with out a RotN
DA: 1NR on disads have become card dumps and i hate it, explanation is better than just reading a ton of cards like yes read your uq cards on politics but use your link evidence to have a deep explanation of the link. The more specific the disad the better which is not to say i hate the politics disad brovero was my lab leader and drilled me on the ptx disad but I do enjoy the politics throwdown
CP: kind of the same notes for disads the more specific the better, planks are not conditional, condo most of the times is probably good, unless is like 4 or more
1. Clash of Civs are my favorite type of debates.
2. I will vote on death good
3. Counterplan should not have conditional planks -theory debates are good when people are not just reading blocks - that being said - theory cheap shots are not always persuasive to me but given they are warranted and isolate a clear violation then it means you probably win the debate
4. Who controls uniqueness - that come 1st
5. on T most times default to reasonability
6. Clash of Civs - (K vs FW) - These are fun debates, 2ACs need the standard meta DAs to policy making and policy debate of course counter interpretations and other specific offense vs their standards. FW teams yall always have these long overviews at the top of the 2NC which I do enjoy but yall need to do more work on the line by line in some of these debates because simply cross-applying from the overview does not answer the 2ACs args.
7. No plan no perm is not an argument
8. FW teams need a TVA - this is not necessary but affs need to have some type of framing question on the TVA
9. Speaker Points: I try to stay in the 28-29.9 range, better debate obviously better speaker points.
Ideal 2NR strategies
1. Topic K Generic
2. Politics Process CP
3. Impact Trun all advantages
4. PIC w/ internal net beneift
5. Topic T argument
Rounds Judged: 6
Been judging some LD recently just, a lot of the stuff still applies from above here are some more specific stuff - I was a K debater so take that as you will
1 - Larp/K
2. K affs
4-5. I do not like tricks or Phil
Coach, Solorio, 2012 - present
TLDR: Better for CP / DA / impact turn debates
I'll do my best to evaluate arguments as made. When the way I make sense of a debate differs from the way debaters make sense of a debate, here seem to be some common sources of the disparity:
1) I'm pretty ingrained in the offense defense model. This means that even if the NB is dumb, if the aff cannot generate a solvency deficit against the CP, and the aff has no offense against the DA, I am highly likely to vote negative.
Some notes: a) I do not think a solvency deficit needs to be carded; b) more difficult, but I could envision voting on analytic offense against a DA, c) I'm willing to vote on zero risk of the DA, but we'd both benefit from you taking a moment to explain why the offense-defense model is inapplicable in the debate at hand
2) I still think I have a relatively high bar for voting negative on topicality; however, I've tried to begin evaluating this debate more from an offense-defense perspective. In my mind, this means that if the affirmative does not meet the negative's interpretation, and does not have its own counterinterpretation, it is essentially arguing that any affirmative is topical and is conceding a 100% link to the limits disadvantage. I'm highly likely to vote negative in such a debate.
General argument notes:
3) I'm probably more sympathetic to cheaty process counterplans than most.
4) While I may complain, I do vote on the standard canon of negative kritiks. Things like cap, security, standard topic kritiks, etc. are fine. Extra explanation (examples, stories, analogies, etc.) is always appreciated, all the more so the further from my comfort zone you venture.
5) FW vs K Affs: I lean negative. However, I judge few of these debates. Both teams would benefit from accepting that I know very little here, slowing down, speaking clearly, and over-explaining (depth, not repetition) things you assume most judges know.
6) I judge because:
a) I still really enjoy debate.
b) Judging is an opportunity to continue to develop my understanding of debate.
c) I am covering my students' judge commitment so that they too can benefit from this activity.
7) Quick reference
Read no cards-------X----------------------------Read all the cards
Conditionality good--X----------------------------Conditionality bad
States CP good----X------------------------------States CP bad
Politics DA is a thing-----X------------------------Politics DA not a thing
UQ matters most----------------------X----------Link matters most
Presumption---------------------------------X-----Never votes on presumption
Longer ev--------X---------------------------------More ev
CX about impacts----------------------------X----CX about links and solvency
Experience- This will be my fourth year coaching at Northview High School. Before moving to Georgia, I coached for 7 years at Marquette High in Milwaukee, WI.
Yes, add me to the email chain. My email is email@example.com
As I have gained more coaching and judging experience, I find that I highly value teams who respect their opponents who might not have the same experience as them. This includes watching how you come across in CX, prep time, and your general comportment towards your opponent. In some local circuits, circuit-style policy debate is dwindling and we all have a responsibility to be respectful of the experience of everyone involved in policy debate.
I recommend that you go to the bathroom and fill your water bottles before the debate rather than before a speech.
LD Folks, please read the addendum at the end of my paradigm.
1. Debates are rarely won or lost on technical concessions or truth claims alone. In other words, I think the “tech vs. truth” distinction is a little silly. Technical concessions make it more complicated to win a debate, but rarely do they make wins impossible. Keeping your arguments closer to “truer” forms of an argument make it easier to overcome technical concessions because your arguments are easier to identify, and they’re more explicitly supported by your evidence (or at least should be). That being said, using truth alone as a metric of which of y’all to pick up incentivizes my intervention at some degree.
2. Evidence quality matters a bunch to me- it’s evidence that you have spent time and effort on your positions, it’s a way to determine the relative truth level of your claims, and it helps overcome some of the time constraints of the activity in a way that allows you to raise the level of complexity of your position in a shorter amount of time. I will read your evidence throughout the debate, especially if it is on a position with which I’m less familiar. I won’t vote on evidence comparison claims unless it becomes a question of the debate raised by either team, but I will think about how your evidence could have been used more effectively by the end of the debate. I enjoy rewarding teams for evidence quality.
3. Every debate could benefit from more comparative work particularly in terms of the relative quality of arguments/the interactions between arguments by the end of the round. Teams should ask "Why?", such as "If I win this argument, WHY is this important?", "If I lose this argument WHY does this matter?". Strategically explaining the implications of winning or losing an argument is the difference between being a middle of the road team and a team advancing to elims.
4. Debating off the cuff and "live" in debates is always going to be better than canned, pre-written blocks. Your arguments will be more contextualized to the specific debate, it will be easier to flow because you're going to deliver it more naturally and, in general, it is more persuasive to know the arguments you making are happening in this specific debate instead of some argument factory prior to the debate. This is super important in framework and theory debates that I tend to see a bunch of so thanks in advance for keeping this in mind. I reward the least robotic teams.
5. Some expectations for what should be present in arguments that seem to have disappeared in the last few years:
-For me to vote on a single argument, it must have a claim, warrant, impact, and impact comparison.
-A DA is not a full DA until a uniqueness, link, internal link and impact argument is presented. Too many teams are getting away with 2 card DA shells in the 1NC and then reading uniqueness walls in the block. I will generally allow for new 1AR answers.
-Similarly, CP's should have a solvency advocate read in the 1NC. I'll be flexible on allowing 1AR arguments in a world where the aff makes an argument about the lack of a solvency advocate.
- Yes, terminal defense exists and I will not default to offense-defense. I will not always evaluate the round through a lens of offense-defense, but going for terminal defense means explaining why you think you're accessing a piece of terminal defense.
Case- Debates are won or lost in the case debate. By this, I mean that proving whether or not the aff successfully accesses all, some or none of the case advantages has implications on every flow of the debate and should be a fundamental question of most 2NRs and 2ARs. I think that blocks that are heavy in case defense or impact turns are incredibly advantageous for the neg because they enable you to win any CP (by proving the case defense as a response to the solvency deficit), K (see below) or DA (pretty obvious). I'm also more likely than others to write a presumption ballot or vote neg on inherency arguments. If the status quo solves your aff or you're not a big enough divergence, then you probably need to reconsider your approach to the topic.
Most affs can be divided into two categories: affs with a lot of impacts but poor internal links and affs with very solid internal links but questionable impacts. Acknowledging in which of these two categories the aff you are debating falls should shape how you approach the case debate. I find myself growing increasingly disappointed by negative teams that do not test weak affirmatives. Where's your internal link defense?? I also miss judging impact turn debates, but don't think that spark or wipeout are persuasive arguments. A high level de-dev debate or heg debate, on the other hand, love it.
DA- DAs are questions of probability. Your job as the aff team when debating a DA is to use your defensive arguments to question the probability of the internal links to the DA. Affirmative teams should take more advantage of terminal defense against disads. I'll probably also have a lower threshold for your theory arguments on the disad. Likewise, the neg should use turns case arguments as a reason why your DA calls into question the probability of the aff's internal links. Don't usually find "____ controls the direction of the link" arguments very persuasive. You need to warrant out that claim more if you're going to go for it. Make more rollback-style turns case arguments or more creative turns case arguments to lower the threshold for winning the debate on the disad alone.
CP- CP debates are about the relative weight of a solvency deficit versus the relative weight of the net benefit. The team that is more comparative when discussing the solvency level of these debates usually wins the debate. While, when it is a focus of the debate, I tend to err affirmative on questions of counterplan competiton, I have grown to be more persuaded by a well-executed counterplan strategy even if the counterplan is a process counterplan. The best counterplans have a solvency advocate who is, at least, specific to the topic, and, best, specific to the affirmative. I do not default to judge kicking the counterplan and will be easily persuaded by an affirmative argument about why I should not default to that kind of in-round conditionality. Not a huge fan of the NGA CP and I've voted three out of four times on intrinsic permutations against this counterplan so just be warned. Aff teams should take advantage of presumption arguments against the CP.
After y’all saw the school that I coach, I’m sure this is where you scrolled to first which is fair enough given how long it takes to fill out pref sheets. I will say, if you told me 10 years ago when I began coaching that I’d be coaching a team that primarily reads the K on the aff and on the neg, I probably would have found that absurd because that wasn’t my entry point into the activity so keep that in mind as you work with some of the thoughts below. If you're a policy team that doesn't traditionally go for the K, I'll be able to see the difference between how you go for the K and teams with a more complete engagement with K lit so, if you are a policy team that doesn't normally flex for the K, please don't go out of your way to try and go for the K just to try and win my ballot. I'll be able to hang with you on the policy front and would rather meet you with where you're best. I've been too close to dropping good policy teams who decided to experiment on the K with me in the back instead of just going for their tried and true.
That being said, my focus the last two years has been thinking through how high-level K debate interacts with high-level policy debate with a focus on the K side of the question. This has meant that I've approached some conclusions about where I think the K is in the right direction and I've equally paused on questions where policy positions have the K beat. I've outlined some of my ideas below to give you a sense of my approach to these questions.
The best debates on the K are debates over the explanatory power of the negative’s theory of power relative to the affirmative’s specific example of liberalism, realism, etc. Put another way, the best K debaters are familiar enough with their theory of power AND the affirmative’s specific impact scenarios that they use their theory to explain the dangers of the aff. By the end of the 2NR I should have a very clear idea of what the affirmative does and how your theory explains why doing the affirmative won’t resolve the aff’s impacts or results in a bad thing. This does not necessarily mean that you need to have links to the affirmative’s mechanism (that’s probably a bit high of a research burden), but your link explanations need to be specific to the aff and should be bolstered by specific quotes from 1AC evidence or CX. The specificity of your link explanation should be sufficient to overcome questions of link-uniqueness or I’ll be comfortable voting on “your links only link to the status quo.”
On the flipside, aff teams need to explain why their contingency or specific example of policy action cannot be explained by the negative’s theory of power or that, even if some aspects can be, that the specificity of the aff’s claims justifies voting aff anyway because there’s some offense against the alternative or to the FW ballot. Affirmative teams that use the specificity of the affirmative to generate offense or push back against general link claims will win more debates than those that just default to generic “extinction is irreversible” ballots.
Case Page when going for the K- My biggest pet peeve with the current meta on the K is the role of the case page. Neither the affirmative nor the negative take enough advantage of this page to really stretch out their opponents on this question. For the negative, you need to be challenging the affirmative’s internal links with defense that can bolster some of your thesis level claims. Remember, you are trying to DISPROVE the affirmative’s contingent/specific policy which means that the more specificity you have the better off you will be. This means that just throwing your generic K links onto the case page probably isn’t the move. 9/10 the alternative doesn’t resolve them and you don’t have an explanation of how voting neg resolves the offense. K teams so frequently let policy affs get away with some really poor evidence quality and weak internal links. Please help the community and deter policy teams from reading one bad internal link to their heg aff against your [INSERT THEORY HERE] K.
On that note, policy teams, why are you removing your best internal links when debating the K? Your generic framework cards are giving the neg more things to impact turn and your explanation of the internal link level of the aff is lowered when you do that. Read your normal aff against the K and just square up.
Framework debates (with the K on the neg) For better or worse, so much of contemporary K debate is resolved in the framework debate. The contemporary dependence on framework ballots means a couple of things:
1.) Both teams need to do more work here- treat this like a DA and a CP. Compare the relative strength of internal link claims and impact out the terminal impacts. Why does procedural fairness matter? What is the terminal impact to clash? How do we access your skills claims? What does/does not the ballot resolve? To what extent does the ballot resolve those things? The team that usually answers more of these questions usually wins these debates. K teams need to do more to push back against “ballot can solve procedural fairness” claims and aff teams need to do more than just “schools, family, culture, etc.” outweigh subject formation. Many of you all spend more time at debate tournaments or doing debate work than you do at school or doing schoolwork.
2.) I do think it’s possible for the aff to win education claims, but you need to do more comparative impact calculus. What does scenario planning do for subject formation that is more ethical than whatever the impact scenario is to the K? If you can’t explain your education claims at that level, just go for fairness and explain why the ballot can resolve it.
3.) Risk of the link- Explain what winning framework does for how much of a risk of a link that I need to justify a ballot either way. Usually, neg teams will want to say that winning framework means they get a very narrow risk of a link to outweigh. I don’t usually like defaulting to this but affirmative teams very rarely push back on this risk calculus in a world where they lose framework. If you don’t win that you can weigh the aff against the K, aff teams need to think about how they can use their scenarios as offense against the educational claims of the K. This can be done as answers to the link arguments as well, though you’ll probably need to win more pieces of defense elsewhere on the flow to make this viable.
Do I go for the alternative? I don’t think that you need to go for the alternative if you have a solid enough framework push in the 2NR. However, few things to keep in mind here:
1.) I won’t judge kick the alternative for you unless you explicitly tell me to do it and include a theoretical justification for why that’s possible.
2.) The framework debate should include some arguments about how voting negative resolves the links- i.e. what is the kind of ethical subject position endorsed on the framework page that pushes us towards research projects that avoid the links to the critique? How does this position resolve those links?
3.) Depending on the alternative and the framework interpretation, some of your disads to the alternative will still link to the framework ballot. Smart teams will cross apply these arguments and explain why that complicates voting negative.
K affs (Generic)
Yes, I’m comfortable evaluating debates involving the K on the aff and think that I’ve reached a point where I’m pretty good for either side of this debate. Affirmative teams need to justify an affirmative ballot that beats presumption, especially if you’re defending status quo movements as examples of the aff’s method. Both teams benefit from clarifying early in the round whether or not the affirmative team spills up, whether or not in-round performances specific to this debate resolve any of the affirmative offense, and whatever the accumulation of ballots does or does not do for the aff. Affirmative teams that are not the Louisville project often get away with way too much by just reading a DSRB card and claiming their ballots function the same way. Aff teams should differentiate their ballot claims and negatives should make arguments about the aff’s homogenizing ballot claims. All that being said, like I discussed above, these debates are won and lost on the case page like any other debate. As the K becomes more normalized and standardized to a few specific schools of thought, I have a harder and harder time separating the case and framework pages on generic “we couldn’t truth test your arguments” because I think that shifts a bit too strongly to the negative. That said, I can be persuaded to separate the two if there’s decent time spent in the final rebuttals on this question.
Framework vs. the K Aff
Framework debates are best when both teams spend time comparing the realities of debate in the status quo and the idealized form of debate proposed in model v. model rounds. In that light, both teams need to be thinking about what proposing framework in a status quo where the K is probably going to stick around means for those teams that currently read the K and for those teams that prefer to directly engage the resolution. In a world where the affirmative defends the counter interpretation, the affirmative should have an explanation of what happens when team don’t read an affirmative that meets their model. Most of the counter interpretations are arbitrary or equivalent to “no counter interpretation”, but an interp being arbitrary is just defense that you can still outweigh depending on the offense you’re winning.
In impact turn debates, both teams need to be much clearer about the terminal impacts to their offense while providing an explanation as to why voting in either direction resolves them. After sitting in so many of these debates, I tend to think that the ballot doesn’t do much for either team but that means that teams who have a better explanation of what it means to win the ballot will usually pick up my decision. You can’t just assert that voting negative resolves procedural fairness without warranting that out just like you can’t assert that the aff resolves all forms of violence in debate through a single debate. Both teams need to grapple with how the competitive incentives for debate establish offense for either side. The competitive incentive to read the K is strong and might counteract some of the aff’s access to offense, but the competitive incentives towards framework also have their same issues. Neither sides hands are clean on that question and those that are willing to admit it are usually better off. I have a hard time setting aside clash as an external impact due to the fact that I’m just not sure what the terminal impact is. I like teams that go for clash and think that it usually is an important part of negative strategy vs. the K, but I think this strategy is best when the clash warrants are explained as internal link turns to the aff’s education claims. Some of this has to do with the competitive incentives arguments that I’ve explained above. Both teams need to do more work explaining whether or not fairness or education claims come first. It’s introductory-level impact analysis I find lacking in many of these debates.
Other things to think about-
1.) These debates are at their worst when either team is dependent on blocks. Framework teams should be particularly cautious about this because they’ve had less of these debates over the course of the season, however, K teams are just as bad at just reading their blocks through the 1AR. I will try to draw a clean line between the 1AR and the 2AR and will hold a pretty strict one in debates where the 1AR is just screaming through blocks. Live debating contextualized to this round far outweighs robots with pre-written everything.
2.) I have a hard time pulling the trigger on arguments with “quitting the activity” as a terminal impact. Any evidence on either side of this question is usually anecdotal and that’s not enough to justify a ballot in either direction. There are also a bunch of alternative causes to numbers decline like the lack of coaches, the increased technical rigor of high-level policy debate, budgets, the pandemic, etc. that I think thump most of these impacts for either side. More often than not, the people that are going to stick with debate are already here but that doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences to the kinds of harms to the activity/teams as teams on either side of the clash question learn to coexist.
K vs. K Debates (Overview)
I’ll be perfectly honest, unless this is a K vs. Cap debate, these are the debates that I’m least comfortable evaluating because I feel like they end up being some of the messiest and “gooiest” debates possible. That being said, I think that high level K vs. K debates can be some of the most interesting to evaluate if both teams have a clear understanding of the distinctions between their positions, are able to base their theoretical distinctions in specific, grounded examples that demonstrate potential tradeoffs between each position, and can demonstrate mutual exclusivity outside of the artificial boundary of “no permutations in a method debate.” At their best, these debates require teams to meet a high research burden which is something that I like to reward so if your strat is specific or you can explain it in a nuanced way, go for it. That said, I’m not the greatest for teams whose generic position in these debates are to read “post-truth”/pomo arguments against identity positions and I feel uncomfortable resolving competing ontology claims in debates around identity unless they are specific and grounded. I feel like most debates are too time constrained to meaningfully resolve these positions. Similarly, teams that read framework should be cautious about reading conditional critiques with ontology claims- i.e. conditional pessimism with framework. I’m persuaded by theoretical arguments about conditional ontology claims regarding social death and cross apps to framework in these debates.
I won’t default to “no perms in a methods debate”, though I am sympathetic to the theoretical arguments about why affs not grounded in the resolution are too shifty if they are allowed to defend the permutation. What gets me in these debates is that I think that the affirmative will make the “test of competition”-style permutation arguments anyway like “no link” or the aff is a disad/prereq to the alt regardless of whether or not there’s a permutation. I can’t just magically wave a theory wand here and make those kinds of distinctions go away. It lowers the burden way too much for the negative and creates shallow debates. Let’s have a fleshed out theory argument and you can persuade me otherwise. The aff still needs to win access to the permutation, but if you lose the theory argument still make the same kinds of arguments if you had the permutation. Just do the defensive work to thump the links.
Cap vs. K- I get the strategic utility of these debates, but this debate is becoming pretty stale for me. Teams that go for state-good style capitalism arguments need to explain the process of organization, accountability measures, the kind of party leadership, etc. Aff teams should generate offense off of these questions. Teams that defend Dean should have to defend psychoanalysis answers. Teams that defend Escalante should have specific historical examples of dual power working or not in 1917 or in post-Bolshevik organization elsewhere. Aff teams should force Dean teams to defend psycho and force Escalante teams to defend historical examples of dual power. State crackdown arguments should be specific. I fear that state crackdown arguments will apply to both the alternative and the aff and the team that does a better job describing the comparative risk of crackdown ends up winning my argument. Either team should make more of a push about what it means to shift our research practices towards or away from communist organizing. There are so many debates where we have come to the conclusion that the arguments we make in debate don’t spill out or up and, yet, I find debates where we are talking about politically organizing communist parties are still stuck in some universe where we are doing the actual organizing in a debate round. Tell me what a step towards the party means for our research praxis or provide disads to shifting the research praxis. All the thoughts on the permutation debate are above. I’m less likely to say no permutation in these debates because there is plenty of clash in the literature between, at least, anti-capitalism and postcapitalism that there can be a robust debate even if you don’t have specifics. That being said, the more you can make ground your theory in specific examples the better off you’ll be.
T- Sitting through a bunch of framework debates has made me a better judge for topicality than I used to be. Comparative impact calculus alongside the use of strategic defensive arguments will make it easier for me to vote in a particular direction. Certain interps have a stronger internal link to limits claims and certain affs have better arguments for overlimiting. Being specific about what kind of offense you access, how it comes first, and the relative strength of your internal links in these debates will make it more likely that you win my ballot. I’m not a huge fan of tickytacky topicality claims but, if there’s substantial contestation in the literature, these can be good debates.
Theory- I debated on a team that engaged in a lot of theory debates in high school but that was ages ago where it was still something teams went full send on. There were multiple tournaments where most of our debates boiled down to theory questions, so I would like to think that I am a good judge for theory debates. I think that teams forget that theory debates are structured like a disadvantage. Again, comparative impact calculus is important to win my ballots in these debates. I will say that I tend to err aff on most theory questions. For example, I think that it is probably problematic for there to be more than one conditional advocacy in a round (and that it is equally problematic for your counter interpretation to be dispositionality) and I think that counterplans that compete off of certainty are bad for education and unfair to the aff. Again, portable skills are the most important to me in terms of my predispositions so you will need to do work in round to explain your arguments in this context.
Notes for the Blue Key RR/Other LD Judging Obligations
Local Circuit-Thank you for debating. I really enjoy seeing local circuit debates because it reminds me of a lot of debates that I either was in or have judged growing up in a mixed circuit like Wisconsin. I do have a couple of specific thoughts to help us out adjusting to different expectations.
1.) While I prefer cases that are composed of cards with tags, I'm more than willing to listen to your paraphrased cases. Please make all evidence from your cases available to your opponent and I if anyone were to ask for it. I am always suspicious when someone doesn't want to share the work they've done because of the risk of academic dishonesty. You should want to show off your prep even if it's just showing me your computer after the debate when asked.
2.) Please justify how resolving the debate through your criterions is sufficient to win you the debate- If I value justice and am using proportionality to do so, how does that corner out your opponent's route(s) to the ballot?
Biggest shift for me in judging LD debates is the following: No tricks or intuitively false arguments. I'll vote on dropped arguments, but those arguments need a claim, data, warrant and an impact for me to vote on them. If I can't explain the argument back to you and the implications of that argument on the rest of the debate, I'm not voting for you.
I guess this wasn't clear enough the first time around- I don't flow off the document and your walls of framework and theory analytics are really hard to flow when you don't put any breaks in between them.
Similarly, phil debates are always difficult for me to analyze. I tend to think affirmative's should defend implementation particularly when the resolution specifies an actor. Outside of my general desire to see some debates about implementation, I don't have any kind of background in the phil literature bases and so will have a harder time picturing the implications of you winning specific arguments. If you want me to understand how your argumets interact, you will have to do a lot of explanation.
Theory debates- Yes, I said that I enjoy theory debates in my paradigm above and that is largely still true, but CX theory debates are a lot less technical than LD debates. I also think there are a lot of silly theory arguments in LD and I tend to have a higher threshold for those sorts of arguments. I also don't have much of a reference for norm setting in LD or what the norms actually are. Take that into account if you choose to go for theory and probably don't because I won't award you with high enough speaks for your liking.
K debates- Yes, I enjoy K debates but I tend to think that their LD variant is very shallow. You need to do more specific work in linking to the affirmative and developing the implications of your theory of power claims. While I enjoy good LD debates on the K, I always feel like I have to do a lot of work to justify a ballot in either direction. This is magnified
I've coached LASA since 2005. I judge ~100 debates per season on the high school circuit.
If there’s an email chain, please add me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’re using a flash drive, prep stops when you pull the flash drive out of your computer. If you’re using an email chain, I won’t count attaching and emailing as prep time. Please do not steal prep.
If you have little time before the debate, here’s all you need to know: do what you do best. I try to be as unbiased as possible and I will defer to your analysis. As long as you are clear, go as fast as you want.
Most judges give appalling decisions. Here's where I will try to be better than them:
- They intervene, even when they claim they won't. Perhaps "tech over truth" doesn't mean what it used to. I will attempt to adjudicate and reach a decision purely on only the words you say. If that's insufficient to reach a decision either way--and it often isn't--I will add the minimum work necessary to come to a decision. The more work I have to do, the wider the range of uncertainty for you and the lower your speaks go.
- They aren't listening carefully. They're mentally checked out, flowing off the speech doc, distracted by social media, or have half their headphones off and are taking selfies during the 1AR. I will attempt to flow every single detail of your speeches. I will probably take notes during CX if I think it could affect my decision. If you worked hard on debate, you deserve a judge who works hard as well.
- They give poorly-reasoned decisions that rely on gut instincts and ignore arguments made in the 2NR/2AR. I will probably take my sweet time making and writing my decision. I will try to be as thorough and transparent as possible. If I intervene anywhere, I will explain why I had to intervene and how you could've prevented that intervention. If I didn't catch or evaluate an argument, I will explain why you under-explained or failed to extend it. I will try to anticipate your questions and preemptively answer them in my decision.
- They reconstruct the debate and try to find the most creative and convoluted path to a ballot. I guess they're trying to prove they're smart? These decisions are detestable because they take the debate away from the hands of the debaters. If there are multiple paths to victory for both teams, I will take what I think is the shortest path and explain why I think it's the shortest path, and you can influence my decision by explaining why you control the shortest path. But, I'm not going to use my decision to attempt to prove I'm more clever than the participants of the debate.
- I’m not a professional debate coach or even a teacher. I work as a finance analyst in the IT sector and I volunteer as a debate coach on evenings and weekends. I don’t teach at debate camp and my topic knowledge comes primarily from judging debates. My finance background means that, when left to my own devices, I err towards precision, logic, data, and concrete examples. However, I can be convinced otherwise in any particular debate, especially when it’s not challenged by the other team.
- Tech over truth in most instances. I will stick to my flow and minimize intervention as much as possible. I firmly believe that debates should be left to the debaters. I rarely make facial expressions because I don’t want my personal reactions to affect how a debate plays out. I will maintain a flow, even if you ask me not to. However, tech over truth has its limits. An argument must have sufficient explanation for it to matter to me, even if it’s dropped. You need a warrant and impact, not just a claim.
- Evidence comparison is under-utilized and is very important to me in close debates. I often call for evidence, but I’m much more likely to call for a card if it’s extended by author or cite.
- I don’t judge or coach at the college level, which means I’m usually a year or two behind the latest argument trends that are first broken in college and eventually trickle down to high school. If you’re reading something that’s close to the cutting edge of debate arguments, you’ll need to explain it clearly. This doesn’t mean I don’t want to hear new arguments. On the contrary, a big reason why I continue coaching debate is because I enjoy listening to and learning about new arguments that challenge my existing ways of thinking.
- Please mark your own cards. No one is marking them for you.
- If I feel that you are deliberately evading answering a question or have straight up lied, and the question is important to the outcome of the debate, I will stop the timer and ask you to answer the question. Example: if you read condo bad, the neg asks in CX whether you read condo bad, and you say no, I’ll ask if you want me to cross-out condo on my flow.
- Don't over-adapt to me in these debates. If you are most comfortable going for procedural fairness, do that. If you like going for advocacy skills, you do you. Like any other debate, framework debates hinge on impact calculus and comparison.
- When I vote neg, it’s usually because the aff team missed the boat on topical version, has made insufficient inroads into the neg’s limits disad, and/or is winning some exclusion disad but is not doing comparative impact calculus against the neg’s offense. The neg win rate goes up if the 2NR can turn or access the aff's primary impact (e.g. clash and argument testing is vital to ethical subject formation).
- When I vote aff, it’s usually because the 2NR is disorganized and goes for too many different impacts, there’s no topical version or other way to access the aff’s offense, and/or concedes an exclusion disad that is then impacted out by the 2AR. Without a credible counter-interpretation that the aff meets and that establishes some sufficient limits on the scope of debates, I lean negative.
- Over the years, “tech over truth” has led me to vote neg on some untruthful T violations. If you’re neg and you’ve done a lot of research and are ready to throw down on a very technical and carded T debate, I’m a good judge for you.
- I'm a stickler for the quality of a definition, especially if it's from a source that's contextual to the topic, has some intent to define, is exclusive and not just inclusive, etc.
- Reasonability is a debate about the aff’s counter-interpretation, not their aff. The size of the link to the limits disad usually determines how sympathetic I am towards this argument, i.e. if the link is small, then I’m more likely to conclude the aff’s C/I is reasonable even without other aff offense.
- The kritik teams I've judged that have earned the highest speaker points give highly organized and structured speeches, are disciplined in line-by-line debating, and emphasize key moments in their speeches.
- Just like most judges, the more case-specific your link and the more comprehensive your alternative explanation, the more I’ll be persuaded by your kritik.
- I greatly prefer the 2NC structure where you have a short (or no) overview and do as much of your explanation on the line-by-line as possible. If your overview is 6 minutes, you make blippy cross-applications on the line-by-line, and then you drop the last three 2AC cards, I’m going to give the 1AR a lot of leeway on extending those concessions, even if they were somewhat implicitly answered in your overview.
- Framework debates on kritiks rarely factor into my decisions. Frequently, I conclude that there’s not a decisive win for either side here, or that it’s irrelevant because the neg is already allowing the aff to weigh their impacts. Usually, I find myself somewhere in the middle: the neg always has the right to read kritiks, but the aff should have the right to access their advantages. Kritiks that moot the entire 1AC are a tough sell.
- I’m not a good judge for “role of the ballot” arguments, as I usually find these to be self-serving for the team making them. I’m also not a good judge for “competing methods means the aff doesn’t have a right to a perm”. I think the aff always has a right to a perm, but the question is whether the perm is legitimate and desirable, which is a substantive issue to be debated out, not a gatekeeping issue for me to enforce.
- I’m an OK judge for K “tricks”. A conceded root cause explanation, value to life impact, or “alt solves the aff” claim is effective if it’s sufficiently explained. The floating PIK needs to be clearly made in the 2NC for me to evaluate it. If your K strategy hinges on hiding a floating PIK and suddenly busting it out in the 2NR, I’m not a good judge for you.
- Just like most judges, I prefer case-specific over generic counterplans, but we can’t always get what we want.
- I lean neg on PICs. I lean aff on international fiat, 50 state fiat, condition, and consult. These preferences can change based on evidence or lack thereof. For example, if the neg has a state counterplan solvency advocate in the context of the aff, I’m less sympathetic to theory.
- I will not judge kick the CP unless explicitly told to do so by the 2NR, and it would not take much for the 2AR to persuade me to ignore the 2NR’s instructions on that issue.
- Presumption is in the direction of less change. If left to my own devices, I will probably conclude that most counterplans that are not explicitly PICs are a larger change than the aff.
- I’m a sucker for specific and comparative impact calculus. For example, most nuclear war impacts are probably not global nuclear war but some kind of regional scenario. I want to know why your specific regional scenario is faster and/or more probable. Reasonable impact calculus is much more persuasive to me than grandiose impact claims.
- I believe that in most cases, the link is more important for determining the direction of risk than uniqueness. The exceptions are when the uniqueness can be definitively determined rather than probabilistic.
- Zero risk is possible but difficult to prove by the aff. However, a miniscule neg risk of the disad is probably background noise.
- I actually enjoy listening to a good theory debate, but these seem to be exceedingly rare. I think I can be persuaded that many theoretical objections require punishing the team and not simply rejecting the argument, but substantial work needs to be done on why setting a precedent on that particular issue is important. You're unlikely to win that a single intrinsic permutation is a round-winning voter, even if the other team drops it, unless you are investing significant time in explaining why it should be an independent voting issue.
- I think that I lean affirmative compared to the rest of the judging community on the legitimacy of counterplans. In my mind, a counterplan that is wholly plan-inclusive (consultation, condition, delay, etc.) is theoretically questionable. The legitimacy of agent counterplans, whether domestic or international, is also contestable. I think the negative has the right to read multiple planks to a counterplan, but reading each plank conditionally is theoretically suspect.
- I usually take a long time to decide, and give lengthy decisions. LASA debaters have benefitted from the generosity of judges, coaches, and lab leaders who used their decisions to teach and trade ideas, not just pick a winner and get a paycheck. Debaters from schools with limited/no coaching, the same schools needed to prevent the decline in policy debate numbers, greatly benefit from judging feedback. I encourage you to ask questions and engage in respectful dialogue with me. However, post-round hostility will be met with hostility. I've been providing free coaching and judging since before you were birthed into the world. If I think you're being rude or condescending to me or your opponents, I will enthusiastically knock you back down to Earth.
- I don't want a card doc. If you send one, I will ignore it. Card docs are an opportunity for debaters to insert cards they didn't read, didn't extend, or re-highlight. They're also an excuse for lazy judges to compensate for a poor flow by reconstructing the debate after the fact. If your debating was disorganized and you need a card doc to return some semblance of organization, I'd rather adjudicate the disorganized debate and then tell you it was disorganized.
Montgomery Bell Academy
University of Michigan - Assistant Coach, Institute Instructor
Juan Diego Catholic
Notre Dame in Sherman Oaks
Jordan (UT) 96-98
College of Eastern Utah 99
Cal St Fullerton 01-04
Points will generally stay between 27.5 and 29.9. It generally takes between a 28.6 and 28.7 to clear. I assign points with that in mind. Teams that average 28.65 or higher in a debate means that I thought your points were elimination round-level debates. While it's not an exact science, 28.8-28.9 mean you had a good chance advancing the elimination rounds, 29+ indicates excellence reserved for quarters+. I'm not stingy with these kinds of points and they have nothing to do with past successes. It has everything to do with your performance in THIS debate.
1. Jumping is no longer considered prep.
2. Please do your best to reserve restroom breaks before the opposing team's speeches and not right before your own.
3. Try to treat each other with mutual respect.
4. Cards MUST be marked during the speech. Please say "Mark the card" and please have you OR your partner physically mark the cards in the speech. It is not possible to remember where you've marked your cards after the speech. Saying "mark the card" is the only way to let your judge and competitors know that you are not intending to represent that you've read the entirety of the card. Physically marking the card in the speech is necessary to maintain an accurate account of what you did or didn't read.
My 20 years in the community has led me to have formulated some opinions about how the activity should be run. I'm not sharing these with you because I think this is the way you have to debate, but because you may get some insight about how to win and earn better speaker points in front of me.
1) Conceded claims without warrants - A conceded argument is only given as much weight as the warrant that supports it. You still must have a warrant to support your claim...even if the argument has been conceded. If no warrant has been provided, then it wasn't ever an argument to begin with. For theory arguments to rise to the level of an actual "argument", they have to be properly warranted. If your conditionality argument takes less than 5 seconds to read, it's probably not an argument. "Condo -strat skew, voter....I hope they drop it" very well might be dropped, and not voted on. Politics theory arguments and Permutations fall into this same category. A perm must describe how it resolves the link to the net benefit to be an argument. You can't win on "perm: do the cp" without a reason it resolves the aff and should be theoretically allowed. "Vote NO" and "Fiat solves the link" need to have warrants also. If you are the victim of a theory arg like this, vote no, or intrinsicness, or whatever short thought, do not give up on this argument. You should be honest about not having flowed the argument because of its absurd brevity. You should also make arguments about how the development of those arguments in the 1ar are all new and should be rejected and your new answers be allowed. Affirmatives should make complete theory args in front of me, and negatives shouldn't be afraid to point out that the argument lacked a credible warrant.
2) Voting issues are reasons to reject the argument. (Other than conditionality)
3) Don't make affirmative statements in CX to start your response to a CX question you disagree with. For example, if one is asked "Is your plan a bad idea?' You shouldn't start your response with "sure" or "right", and then go on to disagree with the question. If you need a filler word or phrase, find one that doesn't posit an affirming response.
4) Debate stays in the round -- Debate is a game of testing ideas and their counterparts. Those ideas presented inside of the debate will be the sole factor used in determining the winning team. Things said or done outside of this debate round will not be considered when determining a winning team.
Topicality vs Conventional Affs: I default to competing interpretations on topicality, but can be persuaded by reasonability. Jurisdiction means nothing to me because I see jurisdiction being shaped by the questions of predictability, limits, and fairness. Topicality is a voting issue.
Topicality vs Critical Affs: I generally think that policy debate is a good thing and that a team should both have a plan and defend it. Given that, I have no problem voting for "no plan" advocacies or "fiat-less" plans. I will be looking for you to win that your impact turns to topicality/framework outweigh the loss of education/fairness that would be given in a "fiated" plan debate. I generally think affirmative teams struggle with answering the argument that they could advocate the majority of their aff while defending a topical plan. I also think that teams who stress they are a pre-requisite to topical action have a more difficult time with topical version type arguments, then teams do who impact turn standards. If you win that the state is irredeemable at every level, you are much more likely to get me to vote against FW. The K aff teams who have had success in front of me have been very good at generating a reasonable list of arguments that negative teams could run against them in order to mitigate the fairness impact of the T/FW argument. This makes the impact turns of a stricter limit much more persuasive to me.
I'm also in the fairness camp as a terminal impact, as opposed to an emphasis on portable skills. I think you can win that T comes before substantive issues.
One note to teams that are neg against an aff that lacks stable advocacy: Make sure you adapt your framework arguments to fit the aff. Don't read..." you must have a plan" if they have a plan. If a team has a plan but doesn't defend fiat, and base your ground arguments on that violation.
Counterplans and Disads: The more specific to the aff, the better. There are few things better than a well-researched PIC that just blind sites a team. Objectively, I think counterplans that compete on certainty or immediacy are not legitimate. However, I still coach teams to run these arguments, and I can still evaluate a theory debate about these different counterplans as objectively as possible. Again, the more specific the evidence is to the aff, the more legitimate it will appear.
The K: I was a k debater and a philosophy major in college and you are welcome to run a criticism in front of me. I prefer criticisms that are specific to the resolution. If your K links don't discuss arms sales this year, then it's unlikely to be very persuasive to me. I think that impact comparisons usually become the most important part of a kritik, and the excessive link list becomes the least of a team’s problems heading into the 2nr. You need to win that either a) you turn the case and have an external impact or b) you solve the case and have an external impact. Root cause arguments are good, but rarely address the timeframe issue of case impacts. If you are going to win your magnitude comparisons, then you better do a lot to mitigate the case impacts. I also find most framework arguments associated with a K near pointless. Most of them are impacted by the K proper and therefore depend on you winning the K in order to win the framework argument. Before devoting any more time to framework beyond getting your K evaluated, you should ask yourself and clearly state to me, what happens if you win your theory argument. You should craft your "role of the ballot" argument based on the answer to that question. I am willing to listen to sequencing arguments that EXPLAIN why discourse, epistemology, ontology, ect. come first.
Conclusion: I love debate...good luck if I'm judging you and please feel free to ask any clarifying questions.
In an effort to promote disclosure at the high school level, any team that practices near-universal "open source" will be awarded .2 extra per debater if you bring that to my attention prior to the RFD.
Pronouns - him/he\they
Email - email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for considering me for your debate adjudication needs. I aspire to be the judge I wanted when I debated, namely one who was flexible and would judge the debate based purely on arguments made by debaters. To do that, I seek to be familiar with all common debate arguments and literature bases <i.e. everything which has historically been read in debates past or on this particular topic, I am the nerd who when I got to GBS the first thing I did was sit down and read through every backfile> such that my own ignorance will not be a barrier to judging the arguments you want to go for. This is an ongoing process and aspiration for me rather than an end point, but in general I would <somewhat unfortunately> say I have above average knowledge related to NATO & US policy regarding it.
- I have absolutely zero poker face and will make a lot of non verbals. Please do not interpret these as concrete/100% definitive opinions of mine but rather as an expression of my initial attempts to place your argument within the particular context of the other arguments advanced in a debate.
- All arguments are evaluated within their particular context - Especially on the negative, as a debater in high school and college I went for and won a lot of debates on arguments which would be described, in a vacuum, as 'bad.' Sometimes, all you have to say is a turd and your rebuttal speeches will largely be what some of my judges described as 'turd-shinning.' This means (unless something extreme is happening which is unethical or triggering my mandatory reporter status as a public school employee) I generally prefer to let the arguments advanced in the debate dictate my view of what is and what isn't a 'good' argument.
- I am not a 'k' or 'policy' judge. I am a 'story' judge. If you look at my record, the thing which most unites the teams which have success in front of me is not their ability to repeat the arguments I ran or coach teams ro run, instead it is the ability to tell a complete story that resolves the points of tension identified in the debate.
<*My Debate History*>
I am a 2a. This means, if left to my own devices and not instructed not to look for this, the thing that I will implicitly try to do is identify a way to leave stuff better than we found it.
- I debated at H-F HS, in Illinois, for my first two years of debate where I was coached by creeps.
- My junior & senior year in HS I transfered to Glenbrook South where I was coached most by Tara Tate (now retired from debate), Calum Matheson (now at Pitt), & Ravi Shankar (former NU debater).
My partner and I largely went for agenda politics da & process cps or impact turns. We were a bit k curious, but mostly read what would be described as 'policy' arguments.
- I debated in college for 4 years at Gonzaga where I was coached by Glen Frappier (still DoF at GU), Steve Pointer (now [mostly] retired from debate), Jeff Buntin (current DoD at NU), Iz-ak Dunn (currently at ASU), & Charles Olney (now [mostly] retired from debate).
My partner and I largely went for what is now be described as 'soft left' arguments on the affirmative and impact turns and unusual counterplans when we were negative.
- After graduating, I coached at Northwestern University for a year. My assignments were largely 2ac answers & stuff related to translating high theory arguments made by other teams into things our less k debaters could understand.
- I then moved to Lexington, Kentucky and coached at the University of Kentucky for two years. My assignments were largely aff & all things 2a & answering k stuff on the negative.
- I then coached/did comm graduate work at Wake Forest for two years.
- I then took a break from debate and worked as a paralegal at a law firm which was focused on civil lawsuits against police, prisons, whistleblower protections as well as doing FOIA requests for Buzzfeed.
- I then came back to debate, did some logistics for UK, then Mrs. Corrigan got the GBS job & the rest is history!
Copied and Pasted from my judge philosophy wiki page.
Director of Debate at Pace Academy
15 years judging and coaching high school debate. First at Damien High School then at Greenhill. Generally only judge a handful of college rounds a year.
Zero rounds on the current college topic in 2020.
Coached at the University of Wyoming 2004-2005.
I have decided to incentivize reading strategies that involve talking about the specifics of the affirmative case. Too many high school teams find a terrible agent or process cp and use politics as a crutch. Too many high school teams pull out their old, generic, k's and read them regardless of the aff. As an incentive to get away from this practice I will give any 2N that goes for a case-only strategy an extra point. If this means someone who would have earned a 29 ends up with a 30, then so be it. I would rather encourage a proliferation of higher speaker points, then a proliferation of bad, generic arguments. If you have to ask what a case strategy involves, then you probably aren't going to read one. I'm not talking about reading some case defense and going for a disad, or a counterplan that solves most of the aff. I'm talking about making a majority of the debate a case debate -- and that case debate continuing into the 2NR.
You'll notice "specificity good" throughout my philosophy. I will give higher points to those teams that engage in more specific strategies, then those that go for more generic ones. This doesnt mean that I hate the k -- on the contrary, I wouldn't mind hearing a debate on a k, but it needs to be ABOUT THE AFF. The genero security k doesnt apply to the South Korean Prostitutes aff, the Cap k doesnt apply to the South Korea Off-Shore Balancing aff - and you arent likely to convince me otherwise. But if you have an argument ABOUT the affirmative --especially a specific k that has yet to be read, then you will be rewarded if I am judging you.
I have judged high-level college and high school debates for the last 14 years. That should answer a few questions that you are thinking about asking: yes, speed is fine, no, lack of clarity is not. Yes, reading the k is ok, no, reading a bunch of junk that doesn't apply to the topic, and failing to explain why it does is not.
The single most important piece of information I can give you about me as a judge is that I cut a lot of cards -- you should ALWAYS appeal to my interest in the literature and to protect the integrity of that literature. Specific is ALWAYS better than generic, and smart strategies that are well researched should ALWAYS win out over generic, lazy arguments. Even if you dont win debates where you execute specifics, you will be rewarded.
Although my tendencies in general are much more to the right than the rest of the community, I have voted on the k many times since I started judging, and am generally willing to listen to whatever argument the debaters want to make. Having said that, there are a few caveats:
1. I don't read a lot of critical literature; so using a lot of terms or references that only someone who reads a lot of critical literature would understand isn’t going to get you very far. If I don’t understand your arguments, chances are pretty good you aren’t going to win the debate, no matter how persuasive you sound. This goes for the aff too explain your argument, don’t assume I know what you are talking about.
2. You are much better off reading critical arguments on the negative then on the affirmative. I tend to believe that the affirmative has to defend a position that is at least somewhat predictable, and relates to the topic in a way that makes sense. If they don’t, I am very sympathetic to topicality and framework-type arguments. This doesn’t mean you can’t win a debate with a non-traditional affirmative in front of me, but it does mean that it is going to be much harder, and that you are going to have to take topicality and framework arguments seriously. To me, predictability and fairness are more important than stretching the boundaries of debate, and the topic. If your affirmative defends a predictable interpretation of the topic, you are welcome to read any critical arguments you want to defend that interpretation, with the above stipulations.
3. I would much rather watch a disad/counterplan/case debate than some other alternative.
In general, I love a good politics debate - but - specific counterplans and case arguments are THE BEST strategies. I like to hear new innovative disads, but I have read enough of the literature on this year’s topic that I would be able to follow any deep debate on any of the big generic disads as well.
As far as theory goes, I probably defer negative a bit more in theory debates than affirmative. That probably has to do with the fact that I like very well thought-out negative strategies that utilize PICS and specific disads and case arguments. As such, I would much rather see an affirmative team impact turn the net benefits to a counterplan then to go for theory (although I realize this is not always possible). I really believe that the boundaries of the topic are formed in T debates at the beginning of the year, therefore I am much less willing to vote on a topicality argument against one of the mainstream affirmatives later on in the year than I am at the first few tournaments. I’m not going to outline all of the affs that I think are mainstream, but chances are pretty good if there are more than a few teams across the country reading the affirmative, I’m probably going to err aff in a close T debate.
One last thing, if you really want to get high points in front of me, a deep warming debate is the way to go. I would be willing to wager that I have dug further into the warming literature than just about anybody in the country, and I love to hear warming debates. I realize by this point most teams have very specific strategies to most of the affirmatives on the topic, but if you are wondering what advantage to read, or whether or not to delve into the warming debate on the negative, it would be very rewarding to do so in front of me -- at the very least you will get some feedback that will help you in future debates.
Ok, I lied, one more thing. Ultimately I believe that debate is a game. I believe that debaters should have fun while debating. I realize that certain debates get heated, however do your best not to be mean to your partner, and to the other team. There are very few things I hate more than judging a debate where the teams are jerks to each other. Finally, although I understand the strategic value to impact turning the alternative to kritiks and disads (and would encourage it in most instances), there are a few arguments I am unwilling to listen to those include: sexism good, racism good, genocide good, and rape good. If you are considering reading one of those arguments, don’t. You are just going to piss me off.
First, and most importantly, I am a Black man. I competed in policy for three years in high school at Parkview Arts/Science Magnet High School; I did an additional year at the University of Kentucky. I am now on the coaching staff at Little Rock Central High School. I have a bachelor's and a master's in Communication Studies and a master's in Secondary Education. I said that not to sound pompous but so that you will understand that my lack of exposure to an argument will not preclude me from evaluating it; I know how to analyze argumentation. I have represented Arkansas at the Debate Topic Selection for the past few years (I authored the Middle East paper in 2018 and the Criminal Justice paper in 2019) and that has altered how I view both the topic process and debates, in a good way. I think this makes me a more informed, balanced judge. Summer '22 I chaired the Wording Committee for NFHS Policy Debate Topic Selection; do with this information what you want.
Include me on all email chains, at email@example.com@gmail.com,please and thank you
I find that many teams are rude and obnoxious in round and don’t see the need to treat their opponents with dignity. I find this mode of thinking offensive and disrespectful to the activity as a whole
I consider myself an open slate person but that doesn’t mean that you can pull the most obscure argument from your backfiles and run it in front of me. Debate is an intellectual game. Because of this I find it offensive when debaters run arguments just run them.
I don’t mind speed and consider myself an exceptional flower. That being said, I think that it helps us judges when debaters slow down on important things like plan/CP texts, perms, theory arguments, and anything else that will require me to get what you said verbatim. I flow on a computer so I need typing time. Your speed will always outpace my ability to type; please be conscious of this.
Intentionally saying anything remotely racist, ableist, transphobic, etc will get you an auto loss in front of me. If that means you need to strike me then do us both a favor and strike me. That being said, I’m sure most people would prefer to win straight up and not because a person was rhetorically problematic, in round.
Update for Online Debate
Asking "is anyone not ready" before an online speech an excise in futility; if someone's computer is glitching they have no way of telling you they aren’t ready. Wait for verbal/nonverbal confirmation that all individuals are ready before beginning your speech, please. If my camera is off, I am not ready for your speech. Online debate makes speed a problem for all of us. Anything above 75% of your top speed ensures I will miss something; govern yourselves accordingly.
Please make sure I can see your face/mouth when you are speaking if at all possible. I would really prefer that you kept your camera on. I understand how invasive of an ask this is. If you CANNOT for reasons (tech, personal reasons, etc.) I am completely ok with going on with the camera off. Debate is inherently an exclusive activity, if the camera on is a problem I would rather not even broach the issue.
I would strongly suggest recording your own speeches in case someone's internet cuts out. When this issue arises, a local recording is a life saver. Do not record other people's speeches without their consent; that is a quick way to earn a one-way trip to L town sponsored by my ballot.
Lastly, if the round is scheduled to start at 2, don’t show up to the room asking for my email at 1:58. Be in the room by tech time (it’s there for a reason) so that you can take care of everything in preparation for the round. 2 o’clock start time means the 1ac is being read at 2, not the email chain being set up at 2. Timeliness, or lack thereof, is one of my BIGGEST pet peeves. Too often debaters are too cavalier with time. Two things to keep in mind: 1) it shortens my decision time and 2) it’s a quick way to short yourself on speaks (I’m real get-off-my-lawn about this).
My previous paradigm had a thorough explanation of how I evaluate most arguments. For the sake of prefs and pre round prep I have decided to amend it. When I debated, I was mostly a T/CP/DA debater. That being said, I am open to just about any form of argumentation you want to make. If it is a high theory argument don’t take for granted that I understand most of the terminology your author(s) use.
I will prioritize my ballot around what the 2NR/2AR highlights as the key issues in the debate. I try to start with the last two speeches and work my way back through the debate evaluating the arguments that the debaters are making. I don’t have to personally agree with an argument to vote for it.
Yes I coach primarily K teams but I have voted for T/framework quite often; win the argument and you have won my ballot. Too often debaters read a lot of blocks and don’t do enough engaging in these kinds of debates. The “Role of the Ballot” needs to be explicit and there needs to be a discussion of how your ROB is accessible by both teams. If you want to skirt the issue of accessibility then you need to articulate why the impact(s) of the aff outweigh whatever arguments the neg is going for.
I am less and less persuaded by fairness arguments; I think fairness is more of an internal link to a more concrete impact (e.g., truth testing, argument refinement). Affs should be able to articulate what the role of the negative is under their model. If the aff is in the direction of the topic, I tend to give them some leeway in responding to a lot of the neg claims. Central to convincing me to vote for a non-resolutionally based affirmative is their ability to describe to me what the role of the negative would be under their model of debate. The aff should spend time on impact turning framework while simultaneously using their aff to short circuit some of the impact claims advanced by the neg.
When aff teams lose my ballot in these debates it’s often because they neglect to articulate why the claims they make in the 1ac implicate/inform the neg’s interp and impacts here. A lot of times they go for a poorly explained, barely extended impact turn without doing the necessary work of using the aff to implicate the neg’s standards.
When neg teams lose my ballot in these debates it’s often because they don’t engage the aff. Often times, I find myself having a low bar for presumption when the aff is poorly explained (both in speeches and CX) yet neg teams rarely use this to their advantage. A good framework-centered 2NR versus most k affs involves some type of engagement on case (solvency deficit, presumption, case turn, etc.) and your framework claims; I think too often the neg gives the aff full risk of their aff and solvency which gives them more weight on impact turns than they should have. If you don’t answer the aff AT ALL in the 2NR I will have a hard time voting for you; 2AR’s would be smart to point this out and leverage this on the impact debate.
If you want toread a kritik of debate,I have no problems with that. While, in a vacuum, I think debate is an intrinsic good, we too often forget we exist in a bubble. We must be introspective (as an activity) about the part(s) we like and the part(s) we don't like; if that starts with this prelim round or elim debate then so be it. As structured, debate is super exclusionary if we don't allow internal criticism, we risk extinction in such a fragile world.
If you don't read a "plan" then all the neg has to do is win a link to the resolution. For instance, if you read an aff that's 6 minutes of “whole rez” but you don't defend a specific action then the neg just needs to win a link based on the resolution OR your impact scenario(s). If you don't like it then write better affs that FORCE the neg to get more creative on the link debate.
If theory is your go-to strategy, on either side, please strike me. I am sick and tired debaters refusing to engage substance and only read frivolous theory arguments you barely understand. If you spend your time in the 1AR going for theory don’t you dare fix your lips to go for substance over theory and expect my ballot in the 2AR. LD, in its current state, is violent, racist, and upholds white supremacy; if you disagree do us both a favor and strike me (see above). Always expecting people to open source disclose is what is driving a lot of non-white people from the activity. I spend most of my time judging policy so an LD round that mimics a policy debate is what I would prefer to hear.
I’m sick of debaters not flowing then thinking they can ask what was read “before” CX starts. Once you start asking questions, THAT IS CX TIME. I have gotten to the point that I WILL DOCK YOUR SPEAKS if you do this; I keep an exceptional flow and you should as well. If you go over time, I will stop you and your opponent will not be required to answer questions. You are eating into decision time but not only that it shows a blatant lack of respect for the "rules" of activity. If this happens and you go for some kind of "fairness good" claim I'm not voting for it; enjoy your Hot L (shoutout to Chris Randall and Shunta Jordan). Lastly, most of these philosophers y’all love quoting were violently racist to minorities. If you want me (a black man) to pick you up while you defend a racist you be better be very compelling and leave no room for misunderstandings.
I came into this activity as a fierce competitor, at this juncture in my life I’m in it solely for the education of the debaters involved; I am less concerned with who I am judging and more concerned with the content of what I debate. I am an educator and a lover of learning things; what I say is how I view debate and not a roadmap to my ballot. Don’t manipulate what you are best at to fit into my paradigm of viewing debate. Do what you do best and I will do what I do best in evaluating the debate.
Put me on the email chain: firstname.lastname@example.org (email any questions here too)
1. I evaluate debates by identifying the central questions of the round and then adjudicating line-by-line. This system rewards judge instruction and top-level analysis; I make an active effort to make my RFD in the language in which the round was debated. Additionally, I am tech-oriented and prioritize warrants highly.
2. I have minimal topic knowledge and judge experience on the current topic. I am not coaching a high school team. You will do best in front of me by throwing out most background knowledge (especially any debate meta) but by still debating in a nuanced, technical manner. Even though there aren't a lot of rounds of tabroom, I've judged plenty of high-level practice debates and UDL rounds.
3. I enjoy almost all types of debate rounds. I'll put as much effort into judging the round as the debaters did debating the round. I'm very easy to read visually.
I reward risks. Please play scrappy.
Evidence quality and smart analytics make me happy.
My favorite affs that I have read are: a one-advantage China-war Cyber aff; a SetCol K aff with a plan; and a very technical asylum courts aff. Anything resembling these affs will be great.
My favorite neg strats were aff-specific Ks and CPs. Any neg team with both will get ridiculous speaks. I prefer diverse 1ncs in general.
I appreciate anything that debaters are passionate about, so don't try to adapt too much.
K Affs / FW: I've read planless affs before; I've debated against many more. These debates are always decided in line-by-line not the overview for me speicifcally.
If you are aff, I prefer you to choose an impact turn or counterinterp strategy early in the debate. I am usually very skeptical of the aff c/i and do not understand the utility of how many teams read it, but a thought-out strategy prepared for the question of multiple rounds can convince me quite well. If you are impact turning, only go for at most two DAs in the 2ar or combine them.
If you are neg, I prefer you to compare the two models of debate. Most teams can explain why resolutional action and/or fairness is important but completely lack any engagement with the aff. The best way to prove your standards is by directly applying the aff's specific mechanism and what it justifies as examples of your internal link.
T: Without topic knowledge, I will be very lost in many of these debates if there is no adjustment. I will not know which model is more in line with a 'core of the topic' and what specific teams debate with the best/worst affs. Still, I will easily vote on T. In general, I find T to be a contrived time-sink rather than a thought-out strategy and am lenient on the aff for late-breaking responses, but with substantive engagement, a long T debate is one of my favorite neg strategies.
K: I will weigh the aff unless convinced otherwise. I enjoy alt debating far, far more than FW. Aff-specific link explanation will be rewarded highly. I am most likely to vote for a K if it uses its critical theory and explanatory power to directly diminish aff solvency rather than try to access a larger impact. If debated like a critical CP, DA, and case push, you will be rewarded.
CP: Generally good for condo, international fiat, states, and anything with specific ev. I never went for theory on the aff, so I appreciate solid aff theory debating especially with many lackluster neg strats.
Neg: explain CP solvency for every pertinent internal link. Aff: impact out solvency deficits, don't just talk about them.
I don't judge kick unless told, but lean neg on its theory.
DA: I'm generally dissatisfied with politics and will vote aff on smart analytic i/l take outs if your shell is garbage. Generic, core of the topic DAs do surprisingly well with me.
Speaker Points: Should range from 27.5-29.7. I try to follow community norms rather than artificially deflate or inflate points. I generally give points for direct clash and tech, but I have a soft-spot for persuasiveness and funniness.
Paideia 2019 Michigan 2023
2022 CEDA Finalist
I debated for four years in high school and continue to debate in college. I primarily run Kritikal race theory arguments such as Wilderson and Moten, although I have dabbled in the Baudrillard and high theory stuff. If you ever wanna talk about any specific body of literature talk to me after the round or feel free to shoot me an email. I like debate and generally try to make this community a welcoming space for those that choose to participate. As a result, I hope you enjoy your time in your rounds and the activity broadly because it is truly a great place.
Thoughts on debate overall- As someone who has been in environments in which his arguments are not being taken seriously, I want to push debate to counter these behaviors. To me, the role of a judge is to consider and adapt one's beliefs to the arguments presented. As a result, I will do my absolute best to fully consider the arguments made, render the best decision I can, and give comments that I think will aid you in your future debates. With that being said, I am definitely a better judge for certain arguments than others and I thus have my own preferences with arguments. Honestly if you can flow, do line by line, and have arguments that make sense you'll be good and should not tailor a particular strategy to me.
Thoughts on NATO/Emerging tech- has the potential to be one of the cooler topics that I have personally judged. I generally don't enjoy IR topics, but I have to admit I have enjoyed doing both policy and K research on this topic. Did a policy lab for three weeks and kritikal lab for four weeks, so in theory, I know what you're talking about and will be able to point you in the right direction during the RFD. This topic is complex but also somewhat intuitive, so I hope at the end of the day, you have fun and take risks that other topics may not traditionally allow.
Thoughts on online debate- It can be good and it can be really really bad. I encourage you to have face cams on, at least during speeches and CX but understand if you are not comfortable with that or just choose not to. I'm a pretty good flow overall, but if there is a tech issue or the speech becomes unclear, I'll do my best to let that be known.
Case/Impacts- Case debate is generally important; you should have some way to implicate the case whether it is turns case on a DA, a CP that solves, or just going for case or solvency takeouts. If it's a K debate, I still care, but I think teams should explain what the actual impact to a given case argument is. For instance, if you want the state can be good, explain why that matters beyond just it means "the AFFwas wrong about something". Explain why it implicates solvency, why it means the method they've chosen to resolve their impact might be flawed, or how it implicates another flow within the debate.
DAs- For the most part I understand DAs although I'm probably rusty on the political scenes, I think I get the main ideas. To me the most important things are link and internal link work so focus there.
CPs- I'm cool with whatever for the most part as long as you have a solvency advocate. I like Perms though, and think judge kicking sorta makes sense but can defs be persuaded otherwise.
Topicality- Definitely more AFF-biased. I honestly think reasonability and predictability arguments for the AFF trump most NEG args. With that being said if you think an AFFis blatantly untopical, odds are I do too so go for it if you think it's the right 2NR. I greatly prefer a ground 2NR to JUST a limits 2NR. My ideal combines the two but that's probs just a me thing.
Ks- I'm fine with Ks. I think links should be either in the context of doing the plan, the assumptions around particular impacts, or why a particular AFF theory (such as realism or whatever) might be bad. Ideally, an alternative is able to solve these but if a convincing presumption push is made, I will evaluate the debate that way. What somewhat annoys me is these debates come down to who can better read blocks and not flow. I think K debaters get a lot of fire for this trend but I have seen it with policy debaters as well, so please try your best to continue to do line by line and debate off the flow. For answering the K, you're best tool will always be the 1AC so do your best to leverage it as much as possible.
Theory- 3 Condo is good, 4 there is some grey area and it'll come down to the flow, 5 or more I'm pretty AFF bias. But if it's a new AFF feel free to go 13 off. Most theories to me are a reason to reject the arg not the team. I have never understood the "perv con means we get to sever our reps" type arguments. To me, if you want to make this argument, the 2AC needs to prove specifically why the contradiction made it impossible to effectively answer the arguments, or the 1AR has to show specific forms of abuse, i.e. cross applying args from flows. With that being said I like consistency within flows. If you are answering a pess K, read authors that actually disagree with pess AND would likely agree with the 1AC. If you are running pess, don't read conflicting authors because I will notice and it will put you in a tough spot if the other team points it out.
K AFFs- Please talk about the topic but still go for it. It helps if you defend some kind of a method that solves your impacts but if that's not your thing please still explain either what the ballot does or why solvency isn't necessary. I dislike AFFs in which it is clear the entire purpose is to just beat topicality; these are both unstrategic for me and often make me more sympathetic to NEG solvency/framework/alt pushes.
K AFFs vs FW- framework debates are my favorite debates I've had, I'm always interested in the new ways people find at interpreting the topic, but at the same time, any team can lose or win on framework. Fairness and clash are impacts but need to be explained likely more than you are planning on. Adding on to this, I am cool with the impact turn approach but would much rather judge a round in which an AFF team defends a model of debate and the respective sides debate those issues out.
K vs K- AFF gets a perm, reject alts aren't very convincing unless the AFF isn't really doing anything either. And I will never vote on arguments that are tied to another person not being X identity group unless it is non-black people reading black scholarship.
Things I dislike: speaking past the timer, idk it's a weird pet peeve just be reasonable, and don't ramble on after the speech is over. Saying "debate becomes monologue" or "creates bad people" (insert Karl Rove joke); neither of the things are true and honestly so played out that they become cringe. I think this trend is finally over but saying "it's T not FW" has not and will never be a thing in my eyes. This list will likely grow, and I promise I do not plan on docking speaks for these things I just find it annoying.
My ideal debater combines the persuasion and ethos of Giorgio Rabinni and Natalie Robinson, the technical skill of Taj Robinson and Elon Wilson the work ethic of DML and Pranay Ippagunta, the judging abilities of Corey Fisher, Vida Chiri, Devane Murphy, Shree Awsare, and Taylor Brough and the attitudes of Nate Glancy, Jimin Park, Ariel Gabay, and Ben McGraw. If you are able to display any of these qualities to the level that these debaters have, you have set yourself up to thrive in this activity.
Extra Points: if you make me laugh or honestly look like you're having fun I'll give extra points. Throw some shade be petty cause that's honestly all debate is: throwing shade at 300 words per minute.
Add me to the email chain: email@example.com
University of Kansas '25
Lawrence Free State '21
I'm a sophomore debating for KU, and a 2A who has read a mix of policy and K arguments.
Do what you do best. I will try my best to adapt and be unbiased. I care much more about argument quality than argument type.
Judge instruction is really important and will improve your speaks and odds of winning. The 2NR/2AR should put pieces together, use even if statements, simplify the debate, and do impact calc. Organized, easy to flow speeches that use direct clash will boost speaks and make the debate easier to be resolved.
I have done minimal research on the NATO topic for the JDI & Pembroke Hill - explain acronyms, have specific link stories/solvency mechanisms.
Read re-highlightings or explain what it says if inserting it - I won't read it for you.
Tech > truth.
They're good. Assume I don't know your literature base and err on the side of over-explanation.
It is possible to win on presumption against K affs. Specific analysis and explanation of the advocacy/mechanism for the aff is important. Explain why you solve something or don't need to.
I don't care about the form the 1AC takes (performance, cards, etc.), but it should defend something and have some connection to the topic.
I appreciate innovative neg strats and creative PIKs.
Framework v K affs
Go for whatever impact you're most comfortable with.
Fairness can/can not be an impact depending on who is winning this argument, so explain and impact out fairness when going for it.
Explain what your model of the resolution/debate looks like, including topical affs and a progression of innovation for those affs throughout the season. You're probably winning an impact, so a giant impact overview is useless, but contextualizing and explaining it to the debate can write my ballot for you.
Neg: Answer case - don't concede the aff's theory of power or solvency mechanism and case offense. TVAs aren't necessary, but a good one can be terminal defense.
Aff: Get creative with your counter-interpretation to limit out of the negs impacts. Weigh the aff and its education - you read it for a reason. Reading a couple well-impacted out disads in the 2AC is better than reading a series of unexplained disads. Impact turn strategies should be coupled with defense.
Explain the theory of power in simple language, assuming I don't understand the literature and buzzwords. Err on the side of over-explanation in high theory debates.
Embedded clash > long overviews.
Links are DAs to the perm, but there needs to be an impact to this when going for an alt.
Links of omission aren't links. Link contextualization is important and can make a generic link persuasive - talk about the aff as much as possible - pull lines from the 1AC and CX. 1-2 impacted out links > multiple links.
Framework shapes how I should resolve clash debates, so explain why winning framework matters, and how you win the debate even if you lose framework.
Winning an alt isn't totally necessary, but it is helpful. Explain how the alt solves the links but the perm doesn't.
I'm good for technical, well-defended K tricks - link turns case, floating piks, PIPs, epist first, etc. These strategies should not be vague or underexplained by the end of the 2NR.
Aff: 2ACs should contextualize perms to the links. You need to answer their theory of power - defense to theirs and an alternative theory of power. Leverage your 1AC - impact turns, case outweighs, net benefit to the perm, etc.
2ACs should read multiple theory arguments, and don't be afraid to go for them.
Condo isn't necessarily good or bad, you don't need to win in round abuse but it helps.
Slow down and clash, don’t spread through blocks at top speed.
My topic knowledge is minimal, so I don't have a great understanding of what "core of the topic" actually is, and the interp debate is extra important.
Slow down in these debates and impact it out in the 2NR.
Case lists and examples of lost ground/functional limits are good.
I default to competing interpretations but think reasonability is fine. Either way, explain what it means for resolving the debate.
Non-resolutional theory arguments aren't persuasive (ASPEC, OSPEC, etc).
Specific links and explanations > topic links.
Couch turns case arguments into the internal link when possible.
Judge kick is probably bad and I won't do it unless instructed to.
Good analytics can beat a bad DA.
Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart
Some thoughts about the NATO topic:
1. Defending the status quo seems very difficult. The topic seems aff-biased without a clear controversy in the literature, without many unique disadvantages, and without even credible impact defense against some arguments. The water topic was more balanced (and it was not balanced at all).
This means I'm more sympathetic to multiple conditional options than I might otherwise would be. I'm also very skeptical of plan vagueness and I'm unlikely to be very receptive towards any aff argument that relies on it.
Having said that, some of the 1ncs I've seen that include 6 conditional options are absurd and I'd be pretty receptive to conditionality in that context, or in a context where the neg says something like hegemony good and the security K in the same debate.
And an aff-biased topic is not a justification for CPs that compete off of certainty. The argument that "it's hard to be negative so therefore we get to do your aff" is pretty silly. I haven't voted on process CP theory very often, but at the same time, it's pretty rare for a 2a to go for it in the 2ar. The neg can win this debate in front of me, but I lean aff on this.
There are also parts of this topic that make it difficult to be aff, especially the consensus requirement of the NAC. So while the status quo is probably difficult to defend, I think the aff is at a disadvantage against strategies that test the consensus requirement.
2. Topicality Article 5 is not an argument. I could be convinced otherwise if someone reads a card that supports the interpretation. I have yet to see a card that comes even close. I think it is confusing that 1ncs waste time on this because a sufficient 2ac is "there is no violation because you have not read evidence that actually supports your interpretation." The minimum threshold would be for the negative to have a card defining "cooperation with NATO" as "requires changing Article 5". That card does not exist, because no one actually believes that.
3. Topicality on this topic seems very weak as a 2nr choice, as long as the affirmative meets basic requirements such as using the DOD and working directly with NATO as opposed to member states. It's not unwinnable because debating matters, but the negative seems to be on the wrong side of just about every argument.
4. Country PICs do not make very much sense to me on this topic. No affirmative cooperates directly with member states, they cooperate with the organization, given that the resolution uses the word 'organization' and not 'member states'. Excluding a country means the NAC would say no, given that the excluded country gets to vote in the NAC. If the country PIC is described as a bilateral CP with each member state, that makes more sense, but then it obviously does not go through NATO and is a completely separate action, not a PIC.
5. Is midterms a winnable disadvantage on the NATO topic? I am very surprised to see negative teams read it, let alone go for it. I can't imagine that there's a single person in the United States that would change their vote or their decision to turn out as a result of the plan. The domestic focus link argument seems completely untenable in light of the fact that our government acts in the area of foreign policy multiple times a day. But I have yet to see a midterms debate, so maybe there's special evidence teams are reading that is somehow omitted from speech docs. It's hard for me to imagine what a persuasive midterms speech on a NATO topic looks like though.
What should you do if you're neg? I think there are some good CPs, some good critiques, and maybe impact turns? NATO bad is likely Russian propaganda, but it's probably a winnable argument.
Generally I try to evaluate arguments fairly and based upon the debaters' explanations of arguments, rather than injecting my own opinions. What follows are my opinions regarding several bad practices currently in debate, but just agreeing with me isn't sufficient to win a debate - you actually have to win the arguments relative to what your opponents said. There are some things I'll intervene about - death good, behavior meant to intimidate or harass your opponents, or any other practice that I think is harmful for a high school student classroom setting - but just use some common sense.
Thoughts about critical affs and critiques:
Good debates require two prepared teams. Allowing the affirmative team to not advocate the resolution creates bad debates. There's a disconnect in a frighteningly large number of judging philosophies I've read where judges say their favorite debates are when the negative has a specific strategy against an affirmative, and yet they don't think the affirmative has to defend a plan. This does not seem very well thought out, and the consequence is that the quality of debates in the last few years has declined greatly as judges increasingly reward teams for not engaging the topic.
Fairness is the most important impact. Other judging philosophies that say it's just an internal link are poorly reasoned. In a competitive activity involving two teams, assuring fairness is one of the primary roles of the judge. The fundamental expectation is that judges evaluate the debate fairly; asking them to ignore fairness in that evaluation eliminates the condition that makes debate possible. If every debate came down to whoever the judge liked better, there would be no value to participating in this activity. The ballot doesn't do much other than create a win or a loss, but it can definitely remedy the harms of a fairness violation. The vast majority of other impacts in debate are by definition less important because they never depend upon the ballot to remedy the harm.
Fairness is also an internal link - but it's an internal link to establishing every other impact. Saying fairness is an internal link to other values is like saying nuclear war is an internal link to death impacts. A loss of fairness implies a significant, negative impact on the activity and judges that require a more formal elaboration of the impact are being pedantic.
Arguments along the lines of 'but policy debate is valueless' are a complete nonstarter in a voluntary activity, especially given the existence of multiple alternative forms of speech and debate. Policy debate is valuable to some people, even if you don't personally share those values. If your expectation is that you need a platform to talk about whatever personally matters to you rather than the assigned topic, I encourage you to try out a more effective form of speech activity, such as original oratory. Debate is probably not the right activity for you if the condition of your participation is that you need to avoid debating a prepared opponent.
The phrase "fiat double-bind" demonstrates a complete ignorance about the meaning of fiat, which, unfortunately, appears to be shared by some judges. Fiat is merely the statement that the government should do something, not that they would. The affirmative burden of proof in a debate is solely to demonstrate the government should take a topical action at a particular time. That the government would not actually take that action is not relevant to any judge's decision.
Framework arguments typically made by the negative for critiques are clash-avoidance devices, and therefore are counterproductive to education. There is no merit whatsoever in arguing that the affirmative does not get to weigh their plan. Critiques of representations can be relevant, but only in relation to evaluating the desirability of a policy action. Representations cannot be separated from the plan - the plan is also a part of the affirmative's representations. For example, the argument that apocalyptic representations of insecurity are used to justify militaristic solutions is asinine if the plan includes a representation of a non-militaristic solution. The plan determines the context of representations included to justify it.
Thoughts about topicality:
Limited topics make for better topics. Enormous topics mean that it's much harder to be prepared, and that creates lower quality debates. The best debates are those that involve extensive topic research and preparation from both sides. Large topics undermine preparation and discourage cultivating expertise. Aff creativity and topic innovation are just appeals to avoid genuine debate.
Thoughts about evidence:
Evidence quality matters. A lot of evidence read by teams this year is underlined in such a way that it's out of context, and a lot of evidence is either badly mistagged or very unqualified. On the one hand, I want the other team to say this when it's true. On the other hand, if I'm genuinely shocked at how bad your evidence is, I will probably discount it.
Tech > Truth
I was a 2N last year who went for only policy arguments. The argument I went for the most was heg bad, but I also went for counterplans and disads fairly often.
I have no clue about this topic but T is a good and strategic argument if ran correctly.
Not the best judge here. Kinda my weakness when I was debating. I was never really able to wrap my head around the K no matter how hard I tried. I lean AFF on framework. If you are going for the K, make sure to explain as deeply as possible the K and how it works within the debate. Contextualization to the case is always important.
Fairness > Clash. Win the argument that you go for, so just make sure you choose something that you are comfortable and competent with.
Lean neg in these debates.
Neg - I went primarily for fairness based framework arguments when I was debating, but don't let that make you change your strategy. If you have practiced clash and would rather go for a clash impact, that's fine by me. The most important thing to remember here is defense. I find it very frustrating to vote AFF in these debates, but often do when the NEG doesn't do good enough impact calc to weigh against their impacts.
Aff - Subjectivity is a very important thing to win if you would like to win my ballot. It's also important to think about how subjectivity applies to some but not all arguments and articulate how "subjectivity" is not proper defense to your impact.
Smart counterplans are fun
Links to the net benefit seems like a strong argument
Lean neg on theory, but it can get out of hand. Neg flex won’t get you out of everything.
2011-15 – Lawrence Free State, KS, Policy (Space, Transportation, Latin America, Oceans)
2015-17 – JCCC, KS, NDT/CEDA (Military Presence, Climate Change); NFA-LD (Bioprospecting, Southern Command)
2017-20 – Missouri State University, MO, NDT/CEDA (Healthcare, Exec Authority, Space); NFA-LD (Policing, Cybersecurity)
2016-17 – Lawrence High School, KS, (China engagement)
2017-19 – Olathe West High School, KS, (Education, Immigration)
2019-22– Truman High School, MO, (Arm Sales, CJR, Water)
2020-22– Missouri State University, MO, (MDT Withdrawal, Anti-Trust); NFA-LD (Climate, Endless Wars)
2022-Present - Truman State University, MO, NFA-LD (Elections)
2022-Present - The Pembroke Hill School, MO, (NATO).
Always add: firstname.lastname@example.org
Also add - College NDT/CEDA: email@example.com
If I walk out of the room (or go off-camera), please send the email and I will return very quickly.
Email chains are STRONGLY preferred. Email chains should be labeled correctly. *Name of Tournament * *Division* *Round #* *Aff Team* vs *Neg Team*
You do you; I'll flow whatever happens. I tend to like policy arguments more than Kritical arguments. I cannot type fast and flow on paper as a result. Please give me pen time on T, Theory, and long o/v's etc. Do not be a jerk. Debaters work hard, and I try to work as hard as I can while judging. Debaters should debater slower than they typically do.
Evidence Quality X Quantity > Quality > Quantity. Argument Tech + Truth > Tech > Truth. Quals > No Quals.
I try to generate a list of my random thoughts and issues I saw with each speech in the debate. It is not meant to be rude. It is just how I think through comments. If I have not said anything about something it likely means I thought it was good.
If you can prove to me you have updated your wiki for the round I am judging before I submit the ballot I will give you the highest speaker points allowed by the tournament. An updated wiki means: 1. A complete round report. 2. Cites for all 1NC off case positions/ the 1AC, and 3. uploaded open source all of the documents you read in the debate inclusive of analytics. If I become aware that you later delete, modify, or otherwise disclose less information after I have submitted my ballot, any future debate in which I judge you will result in the lowest possible speaker points at the tournament.
In "fast" online debates, I found it exceptionally hard to flow those with poor internet connections or bad mics. I also found it a little harder even with ideal mic and internet setups. I think it's reasonable for debates in which a debater(s) is having these issues for everyone in the debate to debate at an appropriate speed for everyone to engage.
Clarity is more important in a digital format than ever before. I feel like it would behoove everyone to be 10% slower than usual. Make sure you have a differentiation between your tag voice and your card body voice.
It would be super cool if everyone put their remaining prep in the chat.
I am super pro the Cams on Mics muted approach in debates. Obvious exceptions for poor internet quality.
People should get in the groove of always sending marked docs post speeches and sending a doc of all relevant cards after the debate.
I enjoy politics debates. Reasons why the Disad outweighs and turns the aff, are cool. People should use the squo solves the aff trick with election DA's more.
I generally think negatives can and should get to do more. To me, CP's test the intrinsic-ness of the advantages to the plan text. Affirmatives should get better at writing and figuring out plan key warrants. Bad CP's lose because they are bad. It seems legit that 2NC's get UQ and adv cp's to answer 2AC thumpers and add-ons. People should do this more.
Judge kicking the cp seems intuitive to me. Infinite condo seems good, real-world, etc. Non-Condo theory arguments are almost always a reason to reject the argument and not the team. I still expect that the 2AC makes theory arguments and that the neg answers them sufficiently. I think in an evenly matched and debated debate most CP theory arguments go neg.
Kritiks on the Negative
I like policy debate personally, but that should 0% stop you from doing your thing. I think I like K debates much better than my brain will let me type here. Often, I end up telling teams they should have gone for the K or voted for it. I think this is typical because of affirmative teams’ inability to effectively answer critical arguments
Links of omission are not links. Rejecting the aff is not an alternative, that is what I do when I agree to endorse the alternative. Explain to me what happens to change the world when I endorse your alternative. The aff should probably be allowed to weigh the aff against the K. Clash debates with solid defense to the affirmative are significantly more fun to adjudicate than framework debates. Floating pics are probably bad. I think life has value and preserving more of it is probably good.
Kritical Affirmatives vs Framework
I think the affirmative should be in the direction of the resolution. Reading fw, cap, and the ballot pik against these affs is a good place to be as a policy team. I think topic literacy is important. I think there are more often than not ways to read a topical USfg action and read similar offensive positions. I am increasingly convinced that debate is a game that ultimately inoculates advocacy skills for post-debate use. I generally think that having a procedurally fair and somewhat bounded discussion about a pre-announced topic helps facilitate that discussion.
Debates in which the negative engages all parts of the affirmative are significantly more fun to judge than those that do not.
Affirmatives with "soft-left" advantages are often poorly written. You have the worst of both worlds of K and Policy debate. Your policy action means your aff is almost certainly solvable by an advantage CP. Your kritical offense still has to contend with the extinction o/w debate without the benefit of framework arguments. It is even harder to explain when the aff has one "policy" extinction advantage and one "kritical" advantage. Which one of these framing arguments comes first? I have no idea. I have yet to hear a compelling argument why these types of affirmative should exist. Negative teams that exploit these problems will be rewarded.
Short blippy procedurals are almost always only a reason to reject the arg and not the team. T (along with all procedurals) is never an RVI.
I am super uninterested in making objective assessments about events that took place outside of/before the debate round that I was not present for.
Things that are bad, but people continually do:
Have "framing" debates that consist of reading Util good/bad, Prob 1st/not 1st etc. Back and forth at each other and never making arguments about why one position is better than another. I feel like I am often forced to intervene in these debates, and I do not want to do that.
Saying something sexist/homophobic/racist/ableist/transphobic - it will probably make you lose the debate at the worst or tank your speaks at the least.
Send docs without the analytics you already typed. This does not actually help you. I sometimes like to read along. Some non-neurotypical individuals benefit dramatically by this practice. It wastes your prep, no matter how cool the macro you have programmed is.
Use the wiki for your benefit and not post your own stuff.
Refusing to disclose.
Reading the 1AC off paper when computers are accessible to you. Please just send the doc in the chain.
Doing/saying mean things to your partner or your opponents.
Unnecessarily cursing to be cool.
Some random thoughts I had at the end of last season: .
1. I love debate. I think it is the best thing that has happened to a lot of people. I spend a lot of my time trying to figure out how to get more people to do it. People should be nicer to others.
2. I was worse at debate than I thought I was. I should have spent WAY more time thinking about impact calc and engaging the other teams’ arguments.
3. I have REALLY bad handwriting and was never clear enough when speaking. People should slow down and be clearer. (Part of this might be because of online debate.)
4. Most debates I’ve judged are really hard to decide. I go to decision time often. I’m trying my best to decide debates in the finite time I have. The number of times Adrienne Brovero has come to my zoom room is too many. I’m sorry.
5. I type a lot of random thoughts I had during debates and after. I really try to make a clear distinction between the RFD and the advice parts of the post-round. It bothered me a lot when I was a debater that people didn’t do this.
6. I thought this before, but it has become clearer to me that its not what you do, its what you justify. Debaters really should be able to say nearly anything they’d like in a debate. It is the opposing teams’ job to say you’re wrong. My preferences are above, and I do my best to ignore them. Although I do think it is impossible for that to truly occur.
I took this from Chris Roberds who said it much more elegantly than myself.
I have a VERY low threshold on this argument. Having schools disclose their arguments pre-round is important if the activity is going to grow/sustain itself. Having coached almost exclusively at small, underfunded, or new schools, I can say that disclosure (specifically disclosure on the wiki if you are a paperless debater) is a game changer. It allows small schools to compete and makes the activity more inclusive. There are a few specific ways that this influences how ballots will be given from me:
1) I will err negative on the impact level of "disclosure theory" arguments in the debate. If you're reading an aff that was broken at a previous tournament, on a previous day, or by another debater on your team, and it is not on the wiki (assuming you have access to a laptop and the tournament provides wifi), you will likely lose if this theory is read. There are two ways for the aff to "we meet" this in the 2ac - either disclose on the wiki ahead of time or post the full copy of the 1ac in the wiki as a part of your speech. Obviously, some grace will be extended when wifi isn't available or due to other extenuating circumstances. However, arguments like "it's just too much work," "I don't like disclosure," etc. won't get you a ballot.
2) The neg still needs to engage in the rest of the debate. Read other off-case positions and use their "no link" argument as a reason that disclosure is important. Read case cards and when they say they don't apply or they aren't specific enough, use that as a reason for me to see in-round problems. This is not a "cheap shot" win. You are not going to "out-tech" your opponent on disclosure theory. To me, this is a question of truth. Along that line, I probably won't vote on this argument in novice, especially if the aff is reading something that a varsity debater also reads.
3) If you realize your opponent's aff is not on the wiki, you should make every possible attempt before the round to ask them about the aff, see if they will put it on the wiki, etc. Emailing them so you have timestamped evidence of this is a good choice. I understand that, sometimes, one teammate puts all the cases for a squad on the wiki and they may have just put it under a different name. To me, that's a sufficient example of transparency (at least the first time it happens). If the aff says it's a new aff, that means (to me) that the plan text and/ or advantages are different enough that a previous strategy cut against the aff would be irrelevant. This would mean that if you completely change the agent of the plan text or have them do a different action it is new; adding a word like "substantially" or "enforcement through normal means" is not. Likewise, adding a new "econ collapse causes war" card is not different enough; changing from a Russia advantage to a China, kritikal, climate change, etc. type of advantage is. Even if it is new, if you are still reading some of the same solvency cards, I think it is better to disclose your previous versions of the aff at a minimum.
4) At tournaments that don't have wifi, this should be handled by the affirmative handing over a copy of their plan text before the round.
5) If you or your opponent honestly comes from a circuit that does not use the wiki (e.g. some UDLs, some local circuits, etc.), I will likely give some leeway. However, a great use of post-round time while I am making a decision is to talk to the opponent about how to upload on the wiki. If the argument is in the round due to a lack of disclosure and the teams make honest efforts to get things on the wiki while I'm finishing up my decision, I'm likely to bump speaks for all 4 speakers by .2 or .5 depending on how the tournament speaks go.
6) There are obviously different "levels" of disclosure that can occur. Many of them are described above as exceptions to a rule. Zero disclosure is always a low-threshold argument for me in nearly every case other than the exceptions above. That said, I am also willing to vote on "insufficient disclosure" in a few circumstances.
A. If you are in the open/varsity division of NDT-CEDA, NFA-LD, or TOC Policy your wiki should look like this or something very close to it. Full disclosure of information and availability of arguments means everyone is tested at the highest level. Arguments about why the other team does not sufficiently disclose will be welcomed. Your wiki should also look like this if making this argument.
B. If you are in the open/varsity division of NDT-CEDA, NFA-LD, or TOC Policy. Debaters should go to the room immediately after pairings are released to disclose what the aff will be. With obvious exceptions for a short time to consult coaches or if tech problems prevent it. Nothing is worse than being in a high stress/high level round and the other team waiting until right before the debate to come to disclose. This is not a cool move. If you are unable to come to the room, you should be checking the wiki for your opponents email and sending them a message to disclose the aff/past 2NR's or sending your coach/a different debater to do so on your behalf.
C. When an affirmative team discloses what the aff is, they get a few minutes to change minor details (tagline changes, impact card swaps, maybe even an impact scenario). This is double true if there is a judge change. This amount of time varies by how much prep the tournament actually gives. With only 10 minutes between pairings and start time, the aff probably only get 30 seconds to say "ope, actually...." This probably expands to a few minutes when given 30 minutes of prep. Teams certainly shouldn't be given the opportunity to make drastic changes to the aff plan text, advantages etc. a long while after disclosing.
yes email chain - firstname.lastname@example.org
i will always vote for the team that does the better debating, you do not need to tell me to vote for the team that does the better debating. both teams can argue about what "the better debating" means but i will always vote for the team that does the better debating
i will try to evaluate the debate in the way that the debaters have prioritized arguments - i will look for the easiest way out of deciding a debate and go from there - this makes impact framing and judge instruction very important for me
depth > breath - this is the most important thing on my paradigm. i think that any given team needs a maximum of 3 pieces of offense to win any given round and should explain why they're winning that/those argument(s) and why it means they win the round extensively. more than 6 offcase will make me grumpy, although i will still listen to all of them
tech > truth - having truth on your side is obviously good and will win the round when the flow is close but debate is about your ability to debate, not about your ability to read objectively true arguments
evidence quality > quantity - most arguments don't need cards - if you are reading evidence, make sure it is specific and warranted - if you cannot explain the warrants in your cards, i will give them far less weight - author qualifications mean a lot less to me than warrants
i have a debate level understanding of whatever kind of literature you're planning on reading unless you're being truly innovative
STOP MISUSING ONTOLOGY CLAIMS - ontology is important, but almost zero actual qualified authors will say that ontology means that nothing good can ever happen - aff teams vs the k need to make this point more.
i will assume util is trutil until told otherwise
i really really really really really strongly dislike arguments that require me to make a judgment call on whether or not one team or debater is a good person/good people - if something is so egregious that a team should be disqualified from a round or tournament either i will directly intervene before the round ends or you should take it up with the tournament and the other team's coaches
the case debate
i know it is cliché - but this is very important! - do not assume i know what your aff is/does, this makes the 2ac/2ar overview crucial
i am probably a better judge for presumption than most - most aff teams need to make massive stretches in order to solve the impacts they specify in the 1AC - this is why i generally prefer affs with specific and solvable impacts
i'm super down for impact turns - everything from co2 ag to china war good to wipeout is cool with me as long as it's explained well
disads don't always need uniqueness - if the impact is framed as a sliding scale, the link can definitely overcome uniqueness problems
impact framing matters a lot - most teams in a DA debate will agree to magnitude x probability - if both teams agree to this framing timeframe is the tiebreaker
i love internal link defense - a lot of teams surprisingly don't do this that much - most DA internal link scenarios are ridiculous and some well warranted defenses to them are quite persuasive to me
politics da's - i will usually default to thinking that durable fiat doesn't solve them because you only fiat enough congress members to pass the plan - i am however persuaded by non-normative interpretations of fiat that allow aff teams to avoid politics da's (like should =/= immediate) - i am fine for political capital links as long as you have specific evidence
functional > textual competition - i think there are ways to explain textual competition as functional competition (especially with courts counterplans with specific evidence), however i generally find textual competition unpersuasive
sufficiency framing unless the aff team makes arguments that contradict this - i will generally assume that if a risk of the net benefit outweighs the risk of the solvency deficit, i will vote negative on the cp
theory (except for condo) is probably a reason to reject the argument, not the team
precision is generally the gold standard unless community consensus heavily contradicts it and makes debate near impossible
i like it when t blocks are specific to the topic - case lists of what you allow/what they justify and listing off ground lost is good
effects and extra t arguments are under utilized and pretty important - especially because they're the only real way of snuffing out questionably topical affs that destroy debatability and limits
non resolutional procedurals are cringe but obviously if this is your thing still go for it, especially if it's dropped
specific links to the mechanism of the aff are always best but if you only have generic cards, application and explanation specific to the aff will be enough to win a pretty big risk of the link
the alt really needs to solve the links - otherwise i will view the k as a mostly non-unique linear da - this is still winnable but makes it unnecessarily harder for the neg
framework is obviously important - i see the framework debate on a k from the neg more similarly to a framework debate against a k aff more than most, it's a debate about models of debate - this is why i'm generally less receptive to "you link, you lose" framework arguments, especially when the neg is making a sweeping ontology claim, it really leaves no role for the aff
2nr framing and link storytelling is crucial
the alt can result in or solve the aff without losing to the perm - but it requires a more nuanced link and alt explanation - usually about sequencing/framing or solving the internal links of the aff, but not resulting in its mechanism
these are by far the worst and best debates
i am a fine judge for framework/t-usfg - however i will say that i would prefer you do literally anything else besides going for a procedural fairness impact - obviously, if you win it, i'll vote for you, but i will be incredibly grumpy about it - clash and education are far better impacts and allow you to have turns case warrants
if you do choose to go for framework/t-usfg - you really need to be going to the case page in the 2nr - otherwise you're just kind of gifting the aff full solvency and their impact turns which makes it infinitely easier for the aff
for aff teams - i think there are really only 2 strategic ways to debate framework - either impact turn everything and ignore the topic or just be a hard left topical aff - i am increasingly confused by k teams that do this "we're half topical" nonsense because it makes it much harder for you to solve your impact turns while still linking you to all of their framework offense
"the state is an assemblage" is not a real argument
1ac cross-x is crucial - i think every 2n should be asking "what is the role of the negative?" and "what is the relationship between the aff and solving 1ac impacts?" and every 1a should have a well prepared answer to these
i think that a lot of kritical affs have inherency issues and that these very often justify a presumption ballot
pics are often very strategic against critical affirmatives - especially ones that affirm something incredibly sweeping and broad
i love kvk debates - links need specificity though - links along the lines of "you didn't mention/analyze *x*" are incredibly unpersuasive to me - i love the cap k but if your link is "you didn't use the state" i will be quite annoyed
"no perms in a method/tactics debate" is a pretty sound argument to me, especially because it's one of the only ways to garner competition against k affs - competition should be established in cx tho
1. Conflicts [as of 10/04/2020]
- No Univ of Chicago Lab
- No Iowa City
2. Short Version
- tech over truth
- strong analytics/analysis can beat carded evidence
- prioritize your impacts
- have fun!
3. Pandemic Social Distancing Related Technology Notes
- Please slow down 5-10%. Emphasize your warrants. Without a microphone stem, your quality fluctuates. Keep in mind that I still flow on paper.
- Please get explicit visual or audio confirmation from everyone in the debate before beginning your speech. I may use a thumbs up to indicate I am ready.
- If my camera is off, unless I explicitly have told you otherwise, assume I'm not at the computer.
- If the current speaker has significant tech problems, I'll try to interrupt your speech and mark the last argument and timestamp.
4. Some Detail
I've been meaning to do this for a while, but have not really had the time. My hope is that I end up judging better debates as a result of this updated philosophy. I am now changing to a more linear philosophy, it is my hope that you read this in its entirety before choosing where to place me on the pref sheet. I debated for four years at Homewood-Flossmoor High School in the south Chicago suburbs from 2007-2011. During that time I debated, Sub-Saharan Africa, Alternative Energy, Social services and substantial reductions in Military presence.
Nearing a decade ago, during would would have been the h.s. space topic. I started at the University of Northern Iowa, Where I debated NDT/CEDA Middle East/North Africa while judging a few debate rounds across the midwest. After my freshman year I transferred to the University of Iowa, where I started coaching at Iowa City High School. This year, I will continue to coach the City High Debate team.
Framing, Issue choice and impact calculus are in my opinion the most important aspects of argumentation, and you should make sure they are components in your speeches. Late rebuttals that lack this analysis are severely.
I preference tech over truth. Your in round performance is far more important to me, as it is what I hear. I greatly attempt to preference the speaking portion of the debate. Increasingly, I've found that my reading evidence is not necessarily an aspect of close debates, but rather results from poor argument explanation and clarification. The majority of 'close rounds' that I've judged fall into the category of closeness by lack of explanation. In some limited instances, I may call for evidence in order to satisfy my intellectual fascination with the activity. Anything other than that--which I will usually express during the RFD--probably falls upon inadequate explanation and should be treated as such.
I feel my role as a judge is split evenly between policymaker and 'referee' in that when called to resolve an issue of fairness. I will prioritize that first. Addressing inequities in side balance, ability to prepare and generate offense is something may at times find slightly more important than substance. In short, I consider myself a good judge for theory, THAT BEING SAID, rarely do I find theory debates resolved in a manner that satisfies my liking - I feel theoretical arguments should be challenged tantamount to their substance based counterparts. Simply reading the block isn't enough. Though I was a 2A[≈ High power LED current, peak 2.7 A] in high school I have since found myself sliding towards the negative on theoretical questions. I can be convinced, however, to limit the scope of negative offense quite easily, so long as the arguments are well explained and adjudicated.
I consider reasonability better than competing interpretations, with the caveat that I will vote on the best interpretation presented. But topicality questions shouldn't be a major concern if the team has answered.
I have a long and complicated relationship with the K. I have a level of familiarity with the mainstream literature, so go ahead and read Capitalism or Neolib. Less familiar arguments will require more depth/better explanation.
Director of Debate at The University of Michigan
General Judging Paradigm- I think debate is an educational game. Someone once told me
that there are three types of judges: big truth, middle truth, and little truth judges. I would
definitely fall into the latter category. I don’t think a two hour debate round is a search for
the truth, but rather a time period for debaters to persuade judges with the help of
evidence and analytical arguments. I have many personal biases and preferences, but I try
to compartmentalize them and allow the debate to be decided by the debaters. I abhor
judge intervention, but do realize it becomes inevitable when debaters fail to adequately
resolve the debate. I am a very technical and flow-oriented judge. I will not evaluate
arguments that were in the 2AR and 2AC, but not the 1AR. This is also true for
arguments that were in the 2NR and 1NC, but not in the negative block.
Counterplans/Theory- I would consider myself liberal on theory, especially regarding
plan-inclusive counterplans. Usually, the negative block will make ten arguments
theoretically defending their counterplan and the 1AR will only answer eight of them- the
2NR will extend the two arguments that were dropped, etc. and that’s usually good
enough for me. I have often voted on conditionality because the Aff. was technically
superior. If you’re Aff. and going for theory, make sure to answer each and every
negative argument. I am troubled by the recent emergence of theory and procedural
debates focusing on offense and defense. I don’t necessarily think the negative has to win
an offensive reason why their counterplan is theoretically legitimate- they just have to
win that their counterplan is legitimate. For the Aff., I believe that permutations must
include all of the plan and all or part of the counterplan. I think the do the counterplan
permutation is silly and don’t think it’s justified because the negative is conditional, etc. I
do realize this permutation wins rounds because it’s short and Neg. teams sometimes fail
to answer it. On the issue of presumption, a counterplan must provide a reason to reject
the Aff. Finally, I think it’s illegitimate when the Aff. refuses to commit to their agent for
the explicit purpose of ducking counterplans, especially when they read solvency
evidence that advocates a particular agent. This strategy relies on defending the theory of
textual competition, which I think is a bad way of determining whether counterplans
Topicality- When I debated, I commonly ran Affirmatives that were on the fringe of what
was considered topical. This was probably the reason I was not a great topicality judge
for the negative my first few years of judging college debate. Beginning this year, I have
noticed myself voting negative on topicality with greater frequency. In the abstract, I
would prefer a more limited topic as opposed to one where hundreds of cases could be
considered topical. That being said, I think topicality often seems like a strategy of
desperation for the negative, so if it’s not, make sure the violation is well developed in
the negative block. I resolve topicality debates in a very technical manner. Often it
seems like the best Affirmative answers are not made until the 2AR, which is probably
too late for me to consider them.
Kritiks- If I got to choose my ideal debate to judge, it would probably involve a politics
or other disadvantage and a case or counterplan debate. But, I do realize that debaters get
to run whatever arguments they want and strategy plays a large role in argument
selection. I have probably voted for a kritik about a half of dozen times this year. I never
ran kritiks when I debated and I do not read any philosophy in my free time. Kritik
rhetoric often involves long words, so please reduce your rate of speed slightly so I can
understand what you are saying. Kritiks as net-benefits to counterplans or alternatives
that have little or no solvency deficit are especially difficult for Affirmatives to handle.
Evidence Reading- I read a lot of evidence, unless I think the debate was so clear that it’s
not necessary. I won’t look at the un-underlined parts of cards- only what was read into
the round. I am pretty liberal about evidence and arguments in the 1AR. If a one card
argument in the 1NC gets extended and ten more pieces of evidence are read by the
negative block, the 1AR obviously gets to read cards. I think the quality of evidence is
important and feel that evidence that can only be found on the web is usually not credible
because it is not permanent nor subject to peer review. I wish there would be more time
spent in debates on the competing quality of evidence.
Cheap Shots/Voting Issues- These are usually bad arguments, but receive attention
because they are commonly dropped. For me to vote on these arguments, they must be
clearly articulated and have a competent warrant behind them. Just because the phrase
voting issue was made in the 1AR, not answered by the 2NR, and extended by the 2AR
doesn’t make it so. There has to be an articulated link/reason it’s a voting issue for it to
Pet Peeves- Inefficiency, being asked to flow overviews on separate pieces of paper, 2NRs that go for too much, etc.
Seasonal voting record:
1) When deciding debates, I will identify the central questions for the debate and evaluate them based upon the criteria set up by the debaters. This means that technical refutation, comparison, and overall argument framing are necessary to garner a favorable decision. Arguments must be accompanied by a warrant and impact to be persuasive. I will flow these arguments, and the debate will be decided by this flow alone.
2) Rules in debate will be implemented. One winner/one loser. Speech times. Indicating whether an opponent's argument is new or not may not be necessary but is certainly helpful.
3) Final rebuttals should be dedicated to establishing the framing for the round and consolidating arguments. You should be identifying the failures and successes of your opponent's speeches, pointing out the key differences between your positions along the way. Rather than rehearsed speeches, impromptu strategic decision-making is when debate is truly its best so I encourage your intellectual risks.
4) I'm sure you are most concerned with my attitude toward certain arguments within the debate. Unfortunately, the content of your arguments doesn't concern me as much as your technical deployment of said arguments. Nevertheless, I'm sure I will be placed into more "policy" vs. "kritik" and "kritik" centered rounds than pure policy matchups. I believe that I am equally fine for both sides when a "policy" team faces a "kritik" team given that I spent much time thinking about both positions.
For the "policy" side, whether you choose to pursue a more FW-oriented/impact turn/extinction outweighs or perm/link turn strategy doesn't concern me as long as you adhere to technical argumentation. For the "kritik" side, whether you choose to pursue a FW or alt strategy doesn't concern me as long as you adhere to technical argumentation. However, both teams in this debate would both be better served by increased specificity and argument interaction rather than a lack of clash.
For the "policy" team, how do your FW standards turn/disprove the FW DAs articulated by the opposition? What are some examples or reasons for why the negative's theory is false? The best "policy" speeches are ones that can accurately identify the tricks of the "kritik" team, dedicate time to sufficient impact framing, and point out the flaws in the alternative. Explain what the permutation actually is. Explain what your FW interpretation actually is. Don't forget about your aff; you read it for a reason.
For the "kritik" team, how do your links disprove the thesis of the affirmative? How does the affirmative's plan actually transpire under the philosophical theory you have presented? The best "kritik" speeches are the ones that apply the theory in the context of the affirmative, whether it's pulling lines, using historical examples, or telling the story of what would truly happen when I vote affirmative. While I do privilege line-by-line, I am more than ok with a long overview giving me the narrative for the round, which I think can be often helpful.
Concerning FW specifically, I would prefer the negative team choose early in the round either a clash, skills, or fairness-oriented strategy. The decision is ultimately up to you but remember to dispute the theory of the aff in any case. The affirmative team can go for any direction they choose as long as it is backed up by sufficient explanation rather than name-dropping a variety of impacts. Again, utilize your affirmative.
I'm totally open to whatever you consider to be "inventive" and "counterintuitive" positions as long as they are communicated clearly.
5) Finally, if you say something, you should be committed to defending it. If faced with what you believe is an "illogical" argument, rather than complaining about it, just beat it. "If you can’t beat some argument, then you don’t deserve to win—doubly so if the argument is “bad”—because you’re not a good advocate of your cause if you cannot respond to your opponents. It’s as simple as that. Nearly every supposed benefit of debate is easy to replicate, but this environment of ruthless inquiry is not, and neither is the crucible of high-level competition." - Calum Matheson
New Note - I'm totally uninterested in adjudicating arguments that endorse self harm. I won't auto-vote against you but if someone you're debating asks me to stop the debate I will. If I end up voting for you, you will not like your points.
Things like wipeout/spark/other impact turns or like "death k" are a little different than this category for me and you can still read those types of hypothetical impact turns as they don't feel the same as [self harm good].
In person thing - its easier to flow your speeches if you face towards me when you give them - giving speeches with your back to me is :c
I am a coach at the University of Texas-Austin, Liberal Arts and Sciences Academy and The Harker School. Other conflicts: Westwood, St Vincent de Paul, Bakersfield High School
Email Chain: yes, email@example.com
Debate is an activity about persuasion and communication. If I can't understand what you are saying because you are unclear, haven't coherently explained it, or developed it into a full argument-claim, warrant, impact, it likely won't factor in my decision.
While there are some exceptions, most debaters I've judged the last few years are pretty unclear, so its likely I will miss some arguments. Zoom has magnified this issue for me (not necessarily the debaters fault). Final rebuttals offer you a space to retrace the part(s) of the debate you think are most relevant to the decision. This both makes it much more likely I will understand your argument and will likely improve your speaker points.
The winner will nearly always be the team able to identify the central question of the debate first and most clearly trace how the development of their argument means they're ahead on that central question.
Virtually nothing you can possibly say or do will offend me [with the new above caveat] if you can't beat a terrible argument you probably deserve to lose.
Another new thing - my favorite debates are ones where the affirmative defends a topical example of the resolution (how you interpret the words in the resolution are up to you, but in this scenario you would defend a change from the status quo and defend the implications of your change w/either a traditionally topical plan or a well thought out and carded counter-interpretation) - the negative then criticizes the representations, justifications, philosophy, ethics, or method of the plan and make arguments about whether I should weigh the plan or prioritize something else first. Obviously you shouldn't try to over-adapt and do this if its not your thing, but well executed policy v K debates with lots of research, examples, and high quality evidence will be rewarded with extremely high points for all four participants.
newer - I don't judge many non-framework debates anymore. I tend to vote neg when the neg wins clash is the biggest/most portable impact + explanation for how it improves over the year as a result of their interp and access aff offense via TVA or SSD. I tend to vote AFF when they win an impact turn to the end result of clash alongside robust answers to the NEG ballot can't access that offense args. I think 2NCs that lack an explanation of how 2nd and 3rd level testing occurs under their interp and changes over the year, with examples, lacks credibility when going for only clash matters (you can maybe win the debate on a different terminal impact, but lately I haven't really voted on other ones). Fairness is both an internal link and an impact. Debate is a game but its also so much more. You can persuade me to think one way or the other in any given debate and I've learned to love judging these debates because I often learn new things about the activity and its potential.
older - but not un-true
I find myself voting negative a lot on procedural fairness a lot, even though I don't think this is the most persuasive version of T. The reason is that K affs seem to have a lot of trouble deciding if they want to go for the middle ground or just impact turn--pick a strategy and stick to it 1AC-2AR and you're more likely to be in a good place. The block is almost always great on T, the 2NR almost always forgets to do terminal impact calculus. Testing arguments become much more persuasive to me when you give specific examples for how those would occur. What neg args would you be able to read against a potential TVA? Why is it good for the 2AC to research those positions, how would you researching answers to their answers be beneficial? A lot of this stuff just gets assumed and I think that a lot of repetitiveness from most framework 2NCs can be substituted for this kind of depth early in the debate. 2NRs sometimes seem to spend so much time on why they access AFF lit base/impacts that they don't end up extending a terminal impact or external offense at all. I think it's difficult to win a debate when you basically go for a CP w/o a net benefit.
-spamming permutations, particular ones that are intrinsic, without a text and with no explanation isn't a complete argument. [insert perm text fine, insert counter plan text is not fine]
-I'm becoming increasingly poor for conditionality bad as a reason to reject the team. This doesn't mean you shouldn't say in the 2ac why its bad but I've yet to see a speech where the 2AR convinced me the debate has been made irredeemably unfair or un-educational due to the status of counter plans. I think its possible I'd be more convinced by the argument that winning condo is bad means that the neg is stuck with all their counter plans and therefore responsible for answering any aff offense to those positions. This can be difficult to execute/annoying to do, but do with that what you will.
-affs usually lose these by forgetting about the case, negs usually lose these when they don't contextualize links to the 1ac. If you're reading a policy aff that clearly links, I'll be pretty confused if you don't go impact turns/case outweighs.
-link specificity is important - I don't think this is necessarily an evidence thing, but an explanation thing - lines from 1AC, examples, specific scenarios are all things that will go a long way
-they should be intrinsic to the plan, with enough time investment affs can potentially win that agenda politics disads are not a logical opportunity cost.
-uniqueness controls the direction of the link typically makes the most sense to me, but you can probably convince me otherwise
I have been judging LD for a year now. The policy section all applies here.
Tech over truth but, there's a limit - likely quite bad for tricks - arguments need a claim, warrant and impact to be complete. Dropped arguments are important if you explain how they implicate my decision. Dropped arguments are much less important when you fail to explain the impact/relevance of said argument.
RVIs - no, never, literally don't. 27 ceiling. Scenario: 1ar is 4 minutes of an RVI, nr drops the rvi, I will vote negative within seconds of the timer ending.
Policy/K - both great - see above for details.
Phil - haven't judged much of this yet, this seems interesting and fine, but again, arguments need a claim, warrant and impact to be complete arguments.
Arguments communicated and understood by the judge per minute>>>>words mumbled nearly incomprehensibly per minute.
Unlikely you'll convince me the aff doesn't get to read a plan for topicality reasons. K framework is a separate from this and open to debate, see policy section for details.
If you read cards they must be sent out via email chain with me attached or through file share prior to the speech. If you reference a piece of evidence that you haven't sent out prior to your speech, fine, but I won't count it as being evidence. You should never take time outside of your prep time to exchange evidence - it should already have been done.
"Paraphrasing" as a substitute for quotation or reading evidence is a bad norm. I won't vote on it as an ethics violation, but I will cap your speaker points at a 27.5.
I realize some of you have started going fast now, if everyone is doing that, fine. However, adapting to the norms of your opponents circuit - i.e. if they're debating slowly and traditionally and you do so as well, will be rewarded with much higher points then if you spread somebody out of the room, which will be awarded with very low points even if you win.
Lane Tech - 2012 - 2013
Iowa City High - 2013 - 2016
University of Northern Iowa - 2016 - 2017
Emporia State 2018 - 2021
Berkeley Prep - 2021 -
-email chain -
-Recently retired k-leaning flex debater/resident performative stunt queen for Berkeley Prep Debate
-would much rather judge a really good policy v policy round than a poorly executed k round - BUT - would ultimately prefer to judge a k v k round where both sides have competing and creative strategies that they are both a) deeply invested in and b) have interesting interpretations of. Those are the rounds I always had the most fun in, but to be clear, I have also realized over the years that a policy v policy round has the potential for just as much, if not more and have no problem judging these debates.
-the team executing whatever argument they are most comfortable with at the highest level they can, will always in my eyes have an easier time getting my ballot/receiving higher speaks which means that the the speeches I want to see are those that you are enthused about giving and ultimately, I want you to be excited to be able to do whatever it is that you are best at.
-went for everything from big stick warming affs to f*** debate performance 1AC's, to Black/Native Studies like Warren, Wilderson, Moten, King, Gumbs and Hartman to Queer theory like Butler, Edelman and Trans-Rage to High theory like Nietzsche, Baudy and OOO as well as Procedurals like T/FW/A- and I-Spec, Disads/Case turns like to deterrence, politics and SPARK and of course, multiple different flavors of counterplans. so regardless of what it is you go for I'm down - just don't take this as an excuse to not use judge instruction/concise explanations that makes sense - even if I was a Nietzsche one - trick in high school that doesn't mean I'm going to do the nihilism work for you. All this is to say is that whoever you may be, you should feel comfortable that I have in some way or another had a certain level of experience with your literature base.
Due to recent events its been suggested to me that I add a layer to my philosophy I wasn't sure was necessary, but in an effort to help protect future debaters/debate rounds, as well as myself/fellow judges, here is what I will say -
While I do empathize with the competitive nature of this activity, it should go without saying that if there is violence of any kind, whether that be intentional or not, my role as an educator in this community is to intervene if that situation deems my involvement to be necessary and I want to make it very clear that I have no qualms in doing so. Its important to recognize when we have to put the game aside and understand as a community that we have a responsibility to learn from situations like those and to be better as we move forward. SO just for the sake of clarity, I do not have a desire to stop rounds, in fact - quite the opposite. However, my role as a judge (one that I would hope others embody when judging my own students) is one that adjudicates the round in the most equitable means possible AS WELL AS one that ensures the safety of, to the best of my capacity, each debate round and all of its participants/observers.
Also - Sometimes, and not always, but in the same fashion as countless other judges, I can, at times, be a very reactive/nonverbal judge. Understanding that those kinds of things are a) an inevitable part of this activity b) not always caused by something you did and c) can be incredibly critical in your in round-decision making is crucial and is a fundamental skill that I believe to be vastly important in succeeding within this activity. HOWEVER, that means that whether or not you choose to modify what you are doing based off how I am reacting is, at the end of the day, your decision and your decision alone - recognizing when to do so/when not to is a core facet of competing.
Strike me if you don't like it.
specific feels about certain things:
- have aff specific link explanations regardless of offcase position - that doesnt mean that every card has to be specific to the aff but your explanation of the link should be as specific to the 1AC as you can make possible - extra speaker points to those who can successfully pull lines
- hot take: after all this time in online debate, I will in fact "verbally interject if unable to hear" regardless of whether you make that clear to me before you begin your speech - so as a personal preference don't feel obligated to say that anymore. Id rather you just give me an order and start after getting some signal (verbal or visual) that we're all ready. as an incentive to help try and stop this practice, expect a lil boost in points.
- that being said, "as specific to the 1AC" means you could have a really good link to aff's mechanism. or you could have a great state link. or a link to their impacts. etc. it doesnt matter to me what the link is as long as it is well developed and made specific to what the 1AC is. I dont want to hear the same generic state link as much as the next person but if you make it creative and you use the aff than I dont see a problem.
- affirmatives could be about the topic, or they could not be, its up to you as long as whatever you choose to do you can defend and explain. If you're not about the topic and its a framework debate, I need to know what your model of debate is or why you shouldnt need to defend one etc. if youre reading a performance aff, the performance is just as important if not more than the evidence you are reading - so dont forget to extend the performance throughout the debate and use it to answer the other teams arguments.
- whether its one off or 8 please be aware of the contradictions you will be making in the 1NC and be prepared to defend them or have some sort of plan if called out.
- on that note theory debates are fine and could be fun. im not that opposed to voting on theory arguments of all varieties as long as you spend a sufficient amount of time in the rebuttals to warrant me voting on them. most of the time thats a substantial amount if not the entirety of one or more of your rebuttals.
- perm debates are weird and i dont feel great voting for "do both" without at least an explanation of how that works. "you dont get a perm in method debates" feels wrong mostly because like these are all made up debate things anyways and permutations are good ways to test the competitiveness of ks/cps/cas. that being said, if you have a good justification for why the aff shouldnt get one and they do an insufficient job of answering it, i will obviously vote on "no perms in method debates"
- dropped arguments are probably true arguments, but there are always ways to recover, however, not every argument made in a debate is an actual argument and being able to identify what is and isn't will boost your speaker points
how these are determined is inherently arbitrary across the board and let's not pretend I have some kind of rubric for you that perfectly outlines the difference between a 28.5 and a 28.6, or a 29.3 and a 29.4, or that my 29.3 will be the same as some other judges.
I do however think about speaks in terms of a competitive ladder, with sections that require certain innate skills which ended up being fairly consistent with other judges, if not slightly on the higher side of things. Hopefully, this section will more so help give you an idea of how you can improve your speeches for the next time you have me in the back.
-26s: these are few and far between, but if are to get one of these, we've probably already talked about what happened after the round. The key here is probably don't do whatever is that you did, and is most likely related to the stuff I talked about at the top.
-27s: If you're getting something in this range from me, it means you should be focusing on speaking drills (with an emphasis on clarity, and efficiency), as well as developing a deeper/fuller analysis of your arguments that picks apart the detailed warrants within the evidence you are reading.
-28s: Still need to be doing drills, but this time with more of an emphasis on affective delivery, finding a comfortable speed, and endurance. At this point, what I probably need to see more from you is effective decision making as well as judge instruction - in order to move into the 29 range, you should be writing my ballot for me with your final rebuttals in so far as using those speeches to narrow the debate down and effectively execute whatever route that may be by painting a picture of what has happened leading up to this moment
-29s: at this point, you're probably fairly clear and can effectively distinguish between pitches and tones as you go in order to emphasize relevant points. The only drills you should be doing here should be concerned with efficiency and breathing control, and if you are in the low 29's this is most likely a clarity issue and you should probably slow down a bit in order to avoid stumbling and bump your speaks up to high 29's. Higher 29's are most likely those who are making the correct decisions at most if not all stages of the debate, and successfully execute the final speeches in ways that prioritize judge instruction, and clearly lay the ballot out for me throughout the speech.
-30s: I actually don't have a problem giving these out, because I think my bar for a "perfect" speech can be subjective in so far as 30's for me can definitely make mistakes, but in the end you had a spectacular debate where you gave it everything you could and then some. I try not to give these out often though because of the risk it could possibly mess with your seeding/breaking, so if you do get one of these, thanks - I had a wonderful experience judging you.
-0.0 - 0.9 - this section is similar for every category in that it is dependent on things like argument extension and packaging, handling flows/the line by line, cross ex, link debating, etc. however, a team that is in the 29 range will have a higher bar to meet for those sort of minutia parts of your speech than those in the 28 or 27. That's because as you improve in delivery you should also be improving in execution, which means that in my eyes, a debater who may be in the 27 range the first time I see them, but is now speaking in the 28 range will have a higher bar than they did before in order to get into the high 28s.
Quick 2022 update--CX is important, use it fully. Examples make a big difference, but you have to compare your examples to theirs and show why yours are better. Quality of evidence matters--debate the strengths of your evidence vs. theirs. Finally, all the comments in a majority of paradigms about tech vs. truth are somewhat absurd. Tech can determine truth and vice-versa: they are not opposed or mutually exclusive and they can be each others' best tools. Want to emphasize your tech? Great--defend it. Want to emphasize your truths? Great--but compare them. Most of all, get into it! We are here for a bit of time together, let's make the most of it.
Updated 2020...just a small note: have fun and make the most of it! Being enthusiastic goes a long way.
Updated 2019. Coaching at Berkeley Prep in Tampa. Nothing massive has changed except I give slightly higher points across the board to match inflation. Keep in mind, I am still pleased to hear qualification debates and deep examples win rounds. I know you all work hard so I will too. Any argument preference or style is fine with me: good debate is good debate. Email: kevindkuswa at gmail dot com.
Updated 2017. Currently coaching for Berkeley Prep in Tampa. Been judging a lot on the China topic, enjoying it. Could emphasize just about everything in the comments below, but wanted to especially highlight my thirst for good evidence qualification debates...
_____________________________ (previous paradigm)
Summary: Quality over quantity, be specific, use examples, debate about evidence.
I think debate is an incredibly special and valuable activity despite being deeply flawed and even dangerous in some ways. If you are interested in more conversations about debate or a certain decision (you could also use this to add me to an email chain for the round if there is one), contact me at kevindkuswa at gmail dot com. It is a privilege to be judging you—I know it takes a lot of time, effort, and commitment to participate in debate. At a minimum you are here and devoting your weekend to the activity—you add in travel time, research, practice and all the other aspects of preparation and you really are expressing some dedication.
So, the first issue is filling out your preference sheets. I’m usually more preferred by the kritikal or non-traditional crowd, but I would encourage other teams to think about giving me a try. I work hard to be as fair as possible in every debate, I strive to vote on well-explained arguments as articulated in the round, and my ballots have been quite balanced in close rounds on indicative ideological issues. I’m not affiliated with a particular debate team right now and may be able to judge at the NDT, so give me a try early on and then go from there.
The second issue is at the tournament—you have me as a judge and are looking for some suggestions that might help in the round. In addition to a list of things I’m about to give you, it’s good that you are taking the time to read this statement. We are about to spend over an hour talking to and with each other—you might as well try to get some insight from a document that has been written for this purpose.
1. Have some energy, care about the debate. This goes without saying for most, but enthusiasm is contagious and we’ve all put in some work to get to the debate. Most of you will probably speak as fast as you possibly can and spend a majority of your time reading things from a computer screen (which is fine—that can be done efficiently and even beautifully), but it is also possible to make equally or more compelling arguments in other ways in a five or ten minute speech (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OQVq5mugw_Y).
2. Examples win debates. Well-developed examples are necessary to make the abstract concrete, they show an understanding of the issues in the round, and they tend to control our understandings of how particular changes will play out. Good examples take many forms and might include all sorts of elements (paraphrasing, citing, narrating, quantifying, conditioning, countering, embedding, extending, etc.), but the best examples are easily applicable, supported by references and other experiences, and used to frame specific portions of the debate. I’m not sure this will be very helpful because it’s so broad, but at the very least you should be able to answer the question, “What are your examples?” For example, refer to Carville’s commencement speech to Tulane graduates in 2008…he offers the example of Abe Lincoln to make the point that “failure is the oxygen of success” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FMiSKPpyvMk.
3. Argument comparison wins debate. Get in there and compare evidence—debate the non-highlighted portion of cards (or the cryptic nature of their highlighting). Debate the warrants and compare them in terms of application, rationale, depth, etc. The trinity of impact, plausibility, and verge analysis doesn’t hurt, especially if those variables are weighed against one another. It’s nice to hear good explanations that follow phrases like “Even if…,” “On balance…,” or “In the context of…” I know that evidence comparison is being done at an extremely high level, but I also fear that one of the effects of paperless debate might be a tilt toward competing speech documents that feature less direct evidence comparison. Prove me wrong.
4. Debates about the relative validity of sources win rounds. Where is the evidence on both sides coming from and why are those sources better or worse? Qualification debates can make a big difference, especially because these arguments are surprisingly rare. It’s also shocking that more evidence is not used to indict other sources and effectively remove an entire card (or even argument) from consideration. The more good qualification arguments you can make, the better. Until this kind of argument is more common, I am thirsty enough for source comparisons (in many ways, this is what debate is about—evidence comparison), that I’ll add a few decimal points when it happens. I do not know exactly where my points are relative to other judges, but I would say I am along a spectrum where 27.4 is pretty good but not far from average, 27.7 is good and really contributing to the debate, 28 is very good and above average, 28.5 is outstanding and belongs in elims, and 29.1 or above is excellent for that division—could contend for one of the best speeches at the tournament.
5. All debates can still be won in 2AR. For all the speakers, that’s a corollary of the “Be gritty” mantra. Persevere, take risks and defend your choices
(https://www.ted.com/talks/angela_lee_duckworth_the_key_to_success_grit). The ballot is not based on record at previous tournaments, gpa, school ranking, or number of coaches.
6. Do not be afraid to go for a little more than usual in the 2NR—it might even help you avoid being repetitive. It is certainly possible to be too greedy, leaving a bloated strategy that can’t stand up to a good 2AR, but I usually think this speech leaves too much on the table.
7. Beginning in the 1AR, brand new arguments should only be in reference to new arguments in the previous speech. Admittedly this is a fuzzy line and it is up to the teams to point out brand new arguments as well as the implications. The reason I’ve decided to include a point on this is because in some cases a 2AR has been so new that I have had to serve as the filter. That is rare and involves more than just a new example or a new paraphrasing (and more than a new response to a new argument in the 2NR).
8. Very good arguments can be made without evidence being introduced in card form, but I do like good cards that are as specific and warranted as possible. Use the evidence you do introduce and do as much direct quoting of key words and phrases to enhance your evidence comparison and the validity of your argument overall.
9. CX matters. This probably deserves its own philosophy, but it is worth repeating that CX is a very important time for exposing flaws in arguments, for setting yourself up for the rebuttals, for going over strengths and weaknesses in arguments, and for generating direct clash. I do not have numbers for this or a clear definition of what it means to “win CX,” but I get the sense that the team that “wins” the four questioning periods often wins the debate.
10. I lean toward “reciprocity” arguments over “punish them because…” arguments. This is a very loose observation and there are many exceptions, but my sympathies connect more to arguments about how certain theoretical moves made by your opponent open up more avenues for you (remember to spell out what those avenues look like and how they benefit you). If there are places to make arguments about how you have been disadvantaged or harmed by your opponent’s positions (and there certainly are), those discussions are most compelling when contextualized, linked to larger issues in the debate, and fully justified.
Overall, enjoy yourself—remember to learn things when you can and that competition is usually better as a means than as an ends.
And, finally, the third big issue is post-round. Usually I will not call for many cards—it will help your cause to point out which cards are most significant in the rebuttals (and explain why). I will try to provide a few suggestions for future rounds if there is enough time. Feel free to ask questions as well. In terms of a long-term request, I have two favors to ask. First, give back to the activity when you can. Judging high school debates and helping local programs is the way the community sustains itself and grows—every little bit helps. Whether you realize it or not, you are a very qualified judge for all the debate events at high school tournaments. Second, consider going into teaching. If you enjoy debate at all, then bringing some of the skills of advocacy, the passion of thinking hard about issues, or the ability to apply strategy to argumentation, might make teaching a great calling for you and for your future students (https://www.ted.com/talks/christopher_emdin_teach_teachers_how_to_create_magic note: debaters are definitely part of academia, but represent a group than can engage in Emdin’s terms). There are lots of good paths to pursue, but teaching is one where debaters excel and often find fulfilling. Best of luck along the ways.
Berkeley Prep Assistant Coach - 2017 - Present
10+ years experience in national circuit policy @ Damien HS, Baylor University and other institutions
I have an appreciation for framework debates, especially when the internal link work is thorough and done on the top of your kritik/topicality violation before it is applied to pivotal questions on the flow that you resolve through comparative arguments. On framework, I personally gravitate towards arguments concerning the strategic, critical, or pedagogical utility of the activity - I am readily persuaded to vote for an interpretation of the activity's purpose, role, or import in almost any direction [any position I encounter that I find untenable and/or unwinnable will be promptly included in the updates below]
I have almost no rigid expectations with regard to the K. I spent a great deal of my time competing reading Security, Queer Theory, and Psychoanalysis arguments. The bodies of literature that I am most familiar with in terms of critical thought are rhetorical theory (emphasizing materialism) and semiotics. I have studied and debated the work of Jacques Derrida and Gilles Deleuze, to that extent I would say I have an operative understanding and relative familiarity with a number of concepts that both thinkers are concerned with.
I think that by virtue of evaluating a topicality flow I almost have to view interpretations in terms of competition. I can't really explain reasonability to myself in any persuasive way, if that changes there will surely be an update about it - this is also not to say nobody could convince me to vote for reasonability, only that I will not default in that direction without prompt.
Theory debates can be great - I reward strategic decisions that embed an explanation of the argument's contingent and applied importance to the activity when going for a theory argument on a counterplan.
I believe that permutations often prompt crucial methodological and theoretical reflection in debate - structurally competitive arguments are usually generative of the most sound strategic and methodological prescriptions.
Judging for Berkeley Prep - Meadows 2020
I have judged enough framework debates at this point in the topic to feel prompted to clarify my approach to judging framework v. K aff rounds. I believe that there are strong warrants and supporting arguments justifying procedural fairness but that these arguments still need to be explicitly drawn out in debates and applied as internal link or impact claims attached to an interpretation or defense of debate as a model, activity, or whatever else you want to articulate debate as. In the plainest terms, I'm saying that internal link chains need to be fully explained, weighed, and resolved to decisively win a framework debate. The flipside of this disposition applies to kritikal affs as well. It needs to be clear how your K Aff interacts with models and methods for structuring debate. It is generally insufficient to just say "the aff impacts are a reason to vote for us on framework" - the internal links of the aff need to be situated and applied to the debate space to justify Role of the Ballot or Role of the Judge arguments if you believe that your theory or critique should implicate how I evaluate or weigh arguments on the framework flow or any other portion of the debate.
As with my evaluation of all other arguments, on framework a dropped claim is insufficient to warrant my ballot on its own. Conceded arguments need to be weighed by you, the debater. Tell me what the implications of a dropped argument are, how it filters or conditions other aspects of the flow, and make it a reason for decision.
Judging for Damien Debate - Berkeley (CA) 2016
In judging I am necessarily making comparisons. Making this process easier by developing or controlling the structure of comparisons and distinctions on my flow is the best advice I could give to anyone trying to make me vote for an argument.
I don't feel like it is really possible to fully prevent myself from intervening in a decision if neither team is resolving questions about how I should be evaluating or weighing arguments. I believe this can be decisively important in the following contexts: The impact level of framework debates, The impact level of any debate really, The method debate in a K v K round, The link debate... The list goes on. But, identifying particular points of clash and then seeing how they are resolved is almost always my approach to determining how I will vote, so doing that work explicitly in the round will almost always benefit you.
If you have any questions about my experience, argumentative preferences, or RFD's feel free to ask me at any time in person or via email.
Pretend this is a policy round or I will pretend that I am a parent judge.
Make good debate arguments. If you think you do that regardless of policy/K split, pref me high!
Read the theory section at the bottom of this document if you read nothing else.
I do not have strong ideological preferences on content or form.
Do what you are good at and do it well. I strongly believe that if every debater was a little bit kinder, then the community would be a much safer, generative, and enjoyable space. Debaters who perform genuine research, are passionate about the activity, and treat their opponents with respect and attention will be highly rewarded.
I am a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania studying Finance at the Wharton School of Business. I debated for Little Rock Central for four years, qualifying to the TOC my junior and senior years and reaching finals of NDCA my senior year. I read 75/25 K/Policy arguments in high school and almost exclusively critical affirmatives.
My personal beliefs are completely distinct from what I perceive in debate. While I might believe that state engagement, policy reform, and capitalism are good in the real world, I also find that many of the best debate arguments directly contradict those claims. This means that I will not default to “common knowledge” or intervene based on whichever argument I’m more comfortable with in a complicated, messy debate. I will always make my decision based on minimizing judge intervention regardless if I agree at all with the argument being presented.
All of the below are observations I’ve noticed that generally boost the win rate of teams. These are not rules, merely suggestions. The exception is that I lean heavily towards tech over truth EXCEPT things like racism good, sexism good is an auto L.
*Heg caveat - There’s a distinction between saying “the USFG is not irredeemably racist and should be preserved” and “the USFG IS racist, but being racist is good/necessary”. I would strongly prefer the first over the second for strategic, educational, and moral reasons. I can further clarify in round if you have questions.
I pretty much only read identity-based planless affirmatives in high school. However, I also hated generic rehashes of critiques on the neg that added a topic link and magically became 1ACs. I love innovation in traditional critical literature and creative ways to approach common subjects.
Affs should explain their method clearly and leverage it against FW or the K. I’m agnostic about impact turns vs. counter-interps, but I am NOT agnostic about line by line! Do not read six DAs in the 2AC on FW, not explain or distinguish any of them, and then flag them in the 1AR as dropped. Neg teams should engage the case page and extend presumption/solvency deficits - a 2NR that concedes case solvency or the aff's theory of power is hard to win.
I think aff teams can win “clash bad” and “fairness bad” even while expecting the judge to adjudicate the debate fairly and on the flow. Conversely, I think neg teams can win “clash good” and “fairness good” on framework and win the debate even if the aff itself was pretty fair and open to clash.
The most valuable thing neg teams can do is good link debating. Truly good link analysis with turns case and root cause push arguably smack the aff so hard that framework doesn’t even matter, but I understand from personal experience how hard debating the link can be. To me, framework is a filter of sorts that lowers the link quality threshold necessary for the neg to win. Even if you win “you link you lose”, the neg still has the burden of proving a meaningful connection between the aff and the K beyond “they described a representation which could be bad in the abstract therefore they’re evil”.
Aff teams should debate framework in a way that says “lowering the link quality threshold necessary for the neg to win is BAD”. Maybe this is due to fairness reasons (very arguable), but the more obvious and true answer seems to be that good debate is good and lowering quality thresholds rarely improves the quality of debates (not very arguable).
Besides these two points, everything else in a K debate is pretty much a free-for-all. How important the alt is, permutations, the value of ontology, how impacts should be weighed, are all up to debate. None of those things matter in a vacuum unless the debater explicitly indicates how they should affect judge decision making. What this means is that I don’t really care about lit bases or the content of K debates as much as I care about how they’re being executed. Any strat on either side can win as long as I’m explicitly told why it’s a winner.
Like them. The following is borrowed from Rosie Valdez:
“No real issues here. Specific links to case obviously preferred to generic arguments. Give me good impact analysis. A CP should be something to which I can give thoughtful consideration. Don’t blow through a really complicated (or long) CP text. Likewise, if the permutation(s) is intricate, slow down. Pretty sure you want me to get the arguments down as you read them, not as I reconstruct them in cross.”
I actually kinda like CP competition debates.
I actually kinda like process CP/creative perm debates.
I actually kinda dislike politics DAs (yes, I know this contradicts the T/L) but I also don’t really care and will always default to the flow.
I actually quite like T debates- some affs are fringe-topical or tangential and would definitely warrant a 2NR on topicality, some affs are most definitely topical and do NOT warrant a 2NR on T, but I will always vote for the team that does the better debate on the flow. Competing interps is good, the 2AR should extend a terminal impact on why their counterinterp is better and explain how it implicates the neg's standards. Plan text in a vacuum is not the instant win 2As think it is - see above. Reasonability is NOT "good is good enough".
99% of theory is a reason to reject the argument, not the team. Ideologically, I actually lean aff on conditionality pretty hard but again, will default to the flow in every debate. I genuinely believe a model of debate where the neg only reads unconditional advocacies is viable (we read one K with no case my senior year and had an 85% winrate), so 2As should never be afraid to go for condo.
Vague alts is not a real argument. Opensource theory is not a real argument. New Affs bad and disclosure are never reasons to reject the team, but if the aff drops “at worst, don’t give them perms”, then I’m not gonna give them perms. Frame subtraction is bad. CP theory is always a reason to reject the argument, not the team. “Let’s talk about the aff outside of debate” CP is never a real argument.
Big Picture: I'm a judge with few heartfelt convictions about what you can or should do to win a debate. Do you.
Theory: Do whatever you please, as long as you carefully weigh the impacts of your competing interpretations of any given theory. I think that most theory debates are inconclusive given that folks do not take the time to parse out what values or goals are furthered by their theoretical framework. You’ll have a greater chance of winning my ballot if you carefully and explicitly impact your theory arguments relative to the other side.
Topicality/Framework: I think the same basic thing about T/Framework--do what you will. I am of the school of thought that fairness, ground, and so on are not terminal impacts, and it is important to me that you make some normative comparisons about about how debate should be configured in debates about framework.
A note on competition: With the "do what you please" maxim in mind, I should say that I have some defaults. If you are a policy team, I do tend to have a greater negative bias on counterplans than others in this area, so feel free to test the limits of fiat and competition, if you wish.
When it comes to debates around starting points, I will say that I have a decided (though revisable) bias for opportunity cost as a model of competition, so I am probably more conservative (by default) than most on whether or not differences in starting point are a sufficient ground for competition. The world is a complex place, in my opinion, and so simply starting at a different place than another team does not guarantee that views of the world are de facto competitive options in the absence of some other claim for competition.
I am old, and my ears and flow are not quite what they once were. I tend to decide quickly, and not to look at a ton of evidence. Taking this into account in resolving the important issues in the debate, and, even better, providing a compelling narrative framing of your argument will go a long way with me.
Fox Chapel 2022
consultant for Westwood
I was a 2n and did ins on the aff. I went exclusively for policy arguments. The only K I ever went for was against K affs and it said being nicer to animals causes you to go to hell.
I cut some cards for the topic
tag team cx / flex prep is always fine
If I laugh during your speech don’t read into it. I think very arbitrary debate things are funny, it doesn’t necessarily have to do with how good/bad your argument is.
For Pittsburgh locals - Ignore the vast majority of this paradigm. I am more of a "flow judge" than a "lay judge". Do whatever you would normally do.
1. Top Level / My VTL
I will flow and vote for things on my flow. You can’t phase me and you should do whatever you have to do to win. Sometimes the 1nc needs 8 counterplans. Sometimes the 2nr is baudrillard. Sometimes you kick the aff and impact turn food shortages. It happens. As long as you are making intentional decisions I'm happy.
PLEASE no pdfs if you can.
I will default to yes judge kick if left to my own devices.
Usually competition > theory vs “cheating” counterplans because theory loses to a competently articulated reason why arbitrariness is bad. I really appreciate in-depth counterplan competition debates. Competition debates where both teams are reading definitions of words in the plan text are decided by which definition is normatively better for debate. I’ve judged many debates where affs remembered to counter-define all the 2nc words they needed to define but didn’t have any reasons why their interpretation was better.
If you can win "plan text in a vacuum" is a bad standard for topicality then you can win that you get positionally competitive counterplans.
condo - If nobody says education ows fairness or vice versa I will arbitrarily prioritize fairness.
T is for cowards, but maybe going for it in front of a judge who says this makes you not a coward? I’m not sure. I’d happily vote for a technically proficient coward.
Most people know this by now but you definitely need an explicit counter-interpretation to plan text in a vacuum.
2NRs/2ARs should include the size of each team's internal link in their impact calc a lot more. Regardless of whether or not predictability in general outweighs limits in general, extremely unpredictable versions of the topic are basically non-starters even if they are vastly more limiting, e.g. the example everyone hears at camp about how we wouldn’t debate the healthcare topic even though it sets a good limit.
They are good.
People should talk about whether future generations matter or not more, even in hard right v hard right debates. I don't think it's a slam dunk case either way and it's the type of thing that you can make short analytic arguments about so it's pretty low cost to you. The implications of it can be massive. If future generations are relevant, small differences in impact magnitude are pretty much the only important consideration. The difference between an impact that kills 99% of humanity vs 100% of humanity is 1% of humanity if future generations don't matter and astronomical if they are (Matheny says 500 trillion every 10 million years, Bostrom says 10^23 people every second because we'll go to space and become computer programs, who knows exactly how many future generations of people will come!).
3. Framework / ClAsH oF CiViLiZaTiOn
By default, T/framework is not a reverse voting issue. Aff teams need to make it such by the 2ar if they want me to vote on it. If a 2nr in a policy round extended T subsets and a counterplan, I wouldn’t vote aff just because the aff beat T subsets. (putting this here after judging a round where the aff beat framework but I voted on a 2nr presumption thing & the aff thought it was dumb ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ )
K aff teams should answer PICs out of random crap by making PICs bad theory arguments or ideally competition arguments that say “we only have to defend our advocacy statement/” + perm do the cp. I voted neg in a debate where 2nr went for a PIC out of the cite of a 1AC card. This was a travesty. If you steal the vocabulary of policy teams’ competition arguments and theory arguments against PICs and just make the impact something other than fairness (“revolutionary clash” or whatever) 99% of these arguments are non-starters.
If you go for a K and the alt isn’t fiated It’s probably a waste of time. If you win framework, the alt is irrelevant because the link alone outweighs and voting neg solves by incentivizing 1ac’s that link less. If you lose framework any non-fiated alt is irrelevant because the case will outweigh.
Whether fairness has its own “intrinsic” impact is counterintuitively mostly about the negative winning defense to the idea that debate has an external impact on the way people think (“subject formation”). If topical debate produces external negative consequences (say for instance it makes people racist) that can be resolved by incentivizing people to engage in other models with the ballot that obviously seems to outweigh “fairness”. If debate doesn’t have any external effect, it makes sense to preserve fairness because we might as well have a fun competition.
The case for why debate shapes people’s worldviews seems fairly straight forward - Voting for an argument incentivizes it to be read again and incentivizes other people to research ways to answer it. If after many debates, people can’t find any good answers to your argument they will be forced to recognize that there is a flaw in their thinking. If people find incredible answers to your argument that you can’t defend it from, you would be forced to recognize there is a flaw in your thinking. The process of iterating research will have changed the opinions people have about the real world. In most instances this has no ethical significance (who cares if we come to a refined conclusion about whether security cooperation has a DOD key warrant) but there are many examples where it could have massive implications (questions of racism, settler colonialism, whether NATO is imperialist, etc).
Here’s my tier list of all the arguments I’ve heard for why debate won’t shape subjectivity - I will vote for any of these arguments, even the F tier ones, if answered incorrectly or dropped, but I like when people make smart arguments and I think you have a right to see inside my brain so you can change your prefs if you think I am a moron.
“My coaches do my research not me” (lol) – F tier – some people would still do their own research and presumably there could be an ethically relevant impact on your coaches right?
“School/Church/Friends are an alt cause” – D tier – At best this suggests debate isn’t the ONLY thing that shapes how we think (shocker). It seems hard to believe that people spend thousands of hours doing research and it has NO effect on what they think. Even if debate has a small effect, it still seems good to make sure that effect isn’t bad.
“I will just research my side of the argument harder instead of changing my mind” – B tier – begs the question of if iterating research leads to truer conclusions.
“People do research/read arguments based on strategy not truth” – B tier – This is obviously true, but only takes out subjectivity formation if strategy and truth don’t meaningfully correlate. The truest arguments might be the most strategic if they were the easiest to defend, so iterating debates under any model will incentivize people to research and defend the truest arguments. Maybe this doesn’t apply to new affs that people read for 1 round or a single tournament, maybe truer arguments aren’t the easiest to defend. Winning this isn’t hopeless, but requires more argumentation than “I said warming good that one time but I didn’t think it was true”. The question is if we had 100 debates about warming good, would our opinions about whether warming is good be more accurate”.
Fairness (competition) is the only reason people do research – A tier – but you have to win that the aff model decreases fairness (or explodes limits) to the degree that neg research is hopeless.
Nobody has made this argument in front of me yet but someone should read a study that says people don’t change their beliefs based on evidence and arguments (think info dissuasive cards that people read with baudrillard) and say that takes out subject formation. That seems responsive to the aff’s research internal link and how many k teams are ready to answer it? At the very least it would be funny.
Clash / Portable skills
Good arg. Better when you say it turns case + switch side.
St. Mark's School of Texas
CXphilosophy = Years judging: 21 as a hs coach another 10 as a college coach
Rounds on this year’s high school topic: 0 (by the time the 2022 season starts I will probably have judged 30 or so debates at camp)
Rounds on this year’s college topic: 0
yes, please add me to the email chain firstname.lastname@example.org,
Research over Truth. The best arguments are backed by research. The burden of rejoinder for most analytics is pretty low. The burden of rejoinder for a good card is high. (yes, this applies to your analytic DA's on framework)
early topic thoughts 7-6-22
the security k (and all it's spinoffs) is probably the best core neg ground on the NATO topic. Most neg arguments about fw seem like link arguments to me and most aff's trying to dodge the link will fail. neg needs to be very clear about how either a) the threats identified aren't real and/or b) the aff can't solve them and/or c) even if the aff wins a and b they still shouldn't win (I'm not really sure how realistic this is but I'm interested in finding out i.e. if the aff wins that Russia is a threat and they can reduce that threat and that outweighs the neg impacts shouldn't they win?
I strongly prefer that the neg team defend actual components of the alt i.e. "yes we will defend that the US should not be a part of NATO". if you are now thinking "well yeah we could do that but then how will we win on cheap tricks"...exactly.
bilat cp is probably competitive although I look forward to desperate aff's trying to convince me otherwise.
Old stuff pre 6-21-11
yes, please send out a card document at the conclusion of the debate. please make sure that the card document accurately represents the cards relevant in the debate i.e. make sure cards that were marked are marked in the document and that cards not read in the debate don't appear in it, etc.
Teachers teach, coaches coach, judges judge.1
Clarity is king.2
I view my role as a judge in the frame of least intervention.3
More and more I'm starting to think that it should all revolve around solvency advocates. While I've probably had some tendencies toward that approach for a few years now it's even more prominent now. If a team is willing to read a plan and they have a card that says their plan is EE or DE with China then we should thank our lucky stars that they are willing to talk about the topic and try to give them a good debate. (I know that's from way back on the china topic but it's still a good example) Having said that if they have a solvency advocate for their CP I think the neg should get a tremendous amount of leeway on theoretically legitimate questions. The test is "Is the cp solvency advocate at least as specific as the aff solvency advocate".
Framework: I'm over it. The aff gets to weigh their advantages (fiat) and the neg gets their K. The neg can't win fiat is an illusion but they can win it's a waste of time/bad idea to engage the state OR they can say "Our argument is that in the face of the aff Obama/Congress/Supreme Court/usfg should say 'no, we reject the securitization/racism/imperialism/capitalism/insert k lingo' of this idea the world would be better if we FILL IN WITH YOUR ALTERNATIVE". If you don't understand what I mean then feel free to ask questions about this.
If you say you are ready then say "Oh wait, I need another second." I will probably penalize you 15 seconds of prep. Don't say you are ready and ask me to stop prep time until you are ready.
Virtually everything else in this judging philosophy is about ways you can get better speaker points or some of my subjective biases I think you should be aware of. The reality is that most of my subjective preferences rarely matter in debates because the debates aren’t close enough to make it matter.
Want good speaker points? Impress me with arguments that prove you have done a substantial amount of research on the topic and that you can make smart arguments.5
New aff’s are intellectual terrorism – you ask for it you got it.6
Topicality is for the unresearched.7
Most theory debates are terrible.8
Evidence is a good thing. Read some cards, preferably some with warrants from people with expertise in the relevant area.9
Excessive arrogance is unacceptable.10
Take ownership of your arguments.11
Post round discussions are good.12
Notes on the use of computers in debate.13
Make complete arguments. "perm do both" and "voting issue fairness and education" are not complete arguments.
]1 While this may seem obvious it bears repeating. What I teach my students and what I coach my students, i.e. what I think about debate and how the game should be played, shouldn’t be relevant when I’m judging two teams that I don’t coach or teach.
2 I've decided that a part of my role as a judge is to ensure that all debaters speak clearly. It is unfair that some debaters are virtually incomprehensible forcing the other team to read over their shoulder or look at every card instead of just being able to flow. So I'm adding a deterrent to the unclear debater. I expect debaters to speak clearly at all times. That doesn't just mean the tags on your cards, it means all the words of your evidence, it means everything. When I say "clearer" what I'm saying is "you are so unclear I have virtually no idea what you are saying so please make a SIGNFICANT, MEANINGFUL change in your delivery". I don't mean make a .001 change. If I have to say clearer a second time you are well on the path to having a cranky judge.
3 As a judge I have two jobs 1) pick one winner in each debate 2) enforce time limits as set by the tournament. To some extent intervention may be inevitable, however, it is my job as a judge to pick a winner based on the arguments made in each debate. That includes being cognizant of my subjective biases and doing my best to keep those preferences from influencing my decision.
4 This should be self evident. See also, footnotes 10, 11 and 13.
5 If your strategy relies on your technical proficiency it probably won’t impress me. If your strategy relies on reading a host of confusing cards that you don’t really understand and you hope that the other team won’t understand them either then you probably won’t impress me. A 1ac with several advantages all with poor internal links probably won’t impress me. A 1nc with a clear coherent method of winning the debate based on good evidence probably will impress me. A 1ac with a solvency advocate and well evidenced advantages probably will impress me. I like it when the aff is kritikal and the neg beats them with a smart go farther left strategy.
6 If you really wanted to have an in depth educational debate you would have disclosed your plan and advantages and given the other team a chance to research it. Break a new aff and your chances of losing on T go up and your chances of winning that anything the neg did was an illegitimate voting issue go way down. Will I be really impressed if, in the face of a new aff, the neg provides a well researched coherent strategy? Yes. Will I understand if, in the face of a new aff, the 1NC is three conditaional cp’s and a K? Yes.
7 Limits usually wins topicality debates and that is unfortunate. Smart teams should make arguments not only about limits/ground but about the educational value of the topic envisioned by both sides. A narrow topic that excludes some of the core issues that would generate educational research probably isn’t as good as a broader topic that encourages students to research important issues.
8 I generally find theory debates to be the bastion of the weak. Your amazingly good ASPEC debate usually sounds like a 27 to me. Think of it this way…every time you say something besides topicality is a voting issue count on losing half a speaker point. Again, this will not affect who wins debates only speaker points. However, I can be persuaded that illegitimate counterplans have so skewed the playing field that reject the argument not the team is insufficient and they must be voting issues. There are probably a host of counterplans that fall within this category. Three that leap to mind are consult, delay, and states. Two exceptions to this rule to help the negative: If your counterplan is unconditional it will be pretty hard for the aff to convince me it has unfairly skewed the debate. Second, have a true solvency advocate for your counterplan. Just a hint, a card that says states have acted uniformly and another card that says the states have poverty programs doesn’t cut it. You need a card that is as specific as the aff solvency advocate. Of course, if the aff solvency advocate doesn’t really match up to the plan it will probably be difficult for the aff to convince me that the counterplan should be rejected for lack of an advocate.
It would help make theory/topicality debates better if you SLOW DOWN so I can flow your arguments. It’s not necessarily a clarity issue it’s just that it’s very difficult for judges to flow short analytical arguments as fast as you can spit them out.
“Voting issue – fairness and education” usually gets flowed as VI F@E and I presume that means it’s a voting issue if they go for whatever argument you have identified as a VI. If you expect it to be a voting issue if they don’t go for it then you need to give some type of warrant as to why the debate has been skewed by them merely making the argument.
9 One good card is better than three short bad ones. Qualifications should matter but debaters rarely take the time to explain what constitutes qualified evidence and what doesn’t. In front of me that would be time worth spending.
10 Confidence is good. It’s better when it’s backed up with smart arguments and good evidence. If you disrespect your opponents because of some inflated sense of your own importance be prepared for low speaker points.
11 If it sounds like you read the same argument every debate, your coach wrote all your blocks, and you have no idea how your arguments interact with your opponent’s arguments then your speaker points aren’t going to be very good. My argument preferences are way less important than your ability to explain arguments. When in doubt about what arguments to go for choose arguments you understand, you can answer cx questions about, and arguments you will be able explain in rebuttals.
12 If you have questions about the decision please ask them. Don’t be afraid to ask pointed questions. However, don’t become the debater who always whines about every decision as if they have never lost a debate. Word gets around.
13 I don’t penalize your time to jump/email material to your opponents but I’m a stickler for stolen prep so if I think you are abusing the privilege be prepared to be called out on it. You get ten minutes of “crash” time per debate. If you computer crashes and you need to restart I won’t penalize your prep time. I’ll set a timer for 10 minutes and if you can’t get your computer ready in 10 minutes you are going to have to start anyway. Most other issues related to this are covered under #4.
Debated @ MBA as a 2a/1n. Now, I'm a first-year at Georgetown University studying government, but I'm not debating.
Note for online: everyone who feels comfortable having their cameras on the entire debate should unless there are connection issues.
TL: I don't believe I've earned the right yet to have strict judging preferences, so I will examine the line-by-line and cards as objectively as I can. However, I shall provide some loose biases that might be helpful for strategy.
DAs - evidence quality matters a lot. Turns case analysis should always be carded, or I'm unlikely to assign very much weight to it. Generic impact calc is a waste of time without specific reasons why your impact is truly higher magnitude or more probable. For example, "We are the only team with a carded extinction claim" > "Our disease impact is better than their china war impact because covid proves diseases are sooo likely." The latter is just meaningless to me.
CPs - aff-leaning on most theory and competition questions, but much will depend on how each team debates it. I really think CPs should have solvency advocates. In the event they don't, I'll give the aff some leeway in answering it. For example, if you're solvency claim is without carded warrants, then I won't put the burden on them to find carded solvency deficits. I will also be more generous with new 1AR arguments when the block better articulates the CP.
T - neg-leaning on most T questions. I hate plan text in a vacuum and like predictability and limits.
Ks on the neg - the more aff engagement there is the better. Additionally, I find a lot of K teams do not spend enough time rigorously proving their theory. Most of the time, this goes uncontested, but if an aff team capitalizes on this, negs ye be warned.
T against K-affs - Again, as a judge, I want to be as objective as possible. That being said, in a debate of two equally well-debated sides, I will be more likely to vote negative given my personal beliefs. For aff and neg teams, I am most persuaded by arguments about debate's educational value and the skills we glean from debate.
Timeframe is an argument to frame the probability debate. It is rarely a relevant impact standard in and of itself.
Things I know a lot about:
- Politics/elections/congress - let's just say I watch C-Span in my free time sometimes
- Framing contentions
- International relations stuff
- Impact turns (heg, democracy, de-dev, spark, etc.)
- Environment science/impacts
Things I don't know a lot about:
- The NATO/emerging tech topic
- The intricacies of k literature
- The courts
- T-USFG debates
Sophomore at Harvard University; debated for 4 years at MBA.
I want to be on the email chain: email@example.com
TLDR: do what you want, I am open to most arguments, tech over truth, do line by line
MBA UPDATE: I have little topic knowledge. You're going to need to explain acronyms, and I will not be familiar with "community consensus" or "core of the topic" on T.
Here are some specific thoughts about different areas:
Framework and critical affirmatives
I am a pretty strong believer that the affirmative should defend the hypothetical implementation of a topical plan but I maybe could be persuaded otherwise. IF your affirmative strategy is not to defend the resolution traditionally, I am more persuaded by a counter-interp that provides a role for the neg than I am by impact turning limits, fairness, the game, etc. If you're neg, fairness >>>> clash/education/skills.
I enjoy T debates more than I used to. Competing interps is probably a less arbitrary standard than reasonability, but if your offense is based off minuscule differences in the debatability of two interpretations, I'm much more inclined to be persuaded that substance crowdout outweighs.
Most teams face problems in T debates (and theory debates for that matter) on explaining the terminal impact to anything. Limits aren't good unless you tell me why they are. Ditto predictability. I will always default to the team doing better impact calculus in a close debate.
I love CP debates. Affs need to provide impacts to their solvency deficits. Negs need to explain sufficiency framing beyond a 5-word tagline. I would love to see well-researched case-specific CPs, but just make sure you read good solvency card specific to the topic, no matter the CP. I am likely to hold to an extremely high bar, both on theoretical and solvency levels, CPs that contain multiple planks that attempt to solve affirmative internal links without any solvency evidence to support these planks.
Pretty neg-leaning overall with the exception of process. This includes condo (within reason), 50 states, solvency advocates, PICs, and international. Re: process CPs, I think theory should lean aff, but aff teams are often better served just winning they don't compete. If you do want to invest in theory, please read a real interp that solves your offense. "Process CPs bad" or "CPs that result in the plan are bad" are too vague.
The Concon CP and Lopez CP are both terrible.
Theory arguments that take less than 3 seconds to read are not theory arguments. If your 2AC condo block takes 2 seconds and the block drops it, I will give the 2NR new answers.
Obviously they're good.
Make turns case args specific to the aff and that make sense. "Link turns case" >>> "nuke war turns case"
Re: framing; "Probability first" means nothing if you aren't beating the DA. I am much more persuaded by critiques of expected value impact calculus than I used to be, but magnitude x probability is probably less arbitrary than any alternative. I want you to debate this question well!
Politics is good. You're wasting your time with intrinsicness or fiat solves the link.
Went for neolib at times and have thought a lot about answering Ks, so I am pretty familiar with security, setcol, neolib lit bases.
Please make them case-specific. A K debate that indicts the desirability of the plan is one of my favorite things to watch. The more generic and vague you get, the worse your argument becomes.
I will usually weigh the aff on framework and would much rather see the neg going for a concrete alternative than framework in the 2NR. Please please please explain your alt and what it actually does early and consistently, or I will grant the aff tons of leeway on permutation explanations.
Yes please. It’s super underutilized and any significant time investment through the 2NR can probably get most affs to pretty low risk.
Impact turns are cool
Clipping OR a false accusation of clipping are both auto-losses and zero speaks. You MUST have audio evidence. I will not be policing this so it's up to debaters.
I am tired of teams throwing 4-second ASPEC shells and other frivolous theory violations in the 1NC and either removing the "tag" function from the verbatim doc or removing the shell from the doc altogether in the hopes that your opponent will drop it. If this occurs, I will not evaluate the 1NC argument unless dropped in two consecutive aff speeches.
above all have fun, and be your authentic self.
email: chadwickmeadows AT gmail
Did not work at a policy debate camp so may not be as familiar with consensus conclusions about the topic or best arguments from the summer. Would appreciate technical counterplans be unpacked a bit more if they rely on heavy reading on the resolution. Generally strong with background/academic basis for evaluating arguments about international relations as it relates to alliances.
I'm much more informed and receptive to identity based critical arguments (Anti-blackness, queer theory, settler colonialism) then other criticism (the post modernists, Baudrillard, etc.) Not really something I intentionally do, but my in round reaction and voting record is much more warm to identity based arguments.
I don't like procedural arguments that aren't topicality.
I don't like semantic based T arguments, without topic contextual literature. (increase is not create, restrictions is plural).
I don't like counterplans that include the whole plan. I like conditionality.
I think debaters should disclose their arguments on the affirmative and negative on the public wiki. It's annoying when we have to scramble to figure out how to prepare for debates.
I think debates should closely resemble their academic origins. Source quality matters to me. Abridged debates from newspaper articles aren't interesting to me.
Content (What arguments should I run)
Not exhaustive – but you get the flavor:
Stellar (I’m proud of you): Policy-based arguments specific to the topic, Critical arguments grounded in plan specific research, Topicality arguments with topic relevant interpretation/violation evidence, critical affs that have an advocacy with a clear connection to the topic.
Good (I’ve rolled my eyes a bit, but we’re fine): “Topical” no plan affs, Impact Turns, suspect PICS (agent stuff, states, etc.), Totalizing philosophical Critique (K args that aren’t specific to the plan/topic)
Bad Judge (I’m not a good critic for this round): 2ac theory to reject team, Condo Bad (except in LD if more than 2 cp’s), Neg theory (vagueness/specs/test case), RVIs (theory and critical), Debate bad, Consult, Counterplans that result in the plan, defensive stock issues strategies
Best rule of thumb: is my argument to be a logical justification for/against the resolution? The further you stray from this consideration, the less likely I am to appreciate your arguments.
Form (How should I debate)
Not exhaustive – but you feel me:
Not negotiable: Winner/loser, speech times, speaks are my decision, I read the cards, I flow the debate, abusive behavior isn’t rewarded, clipping is cheating
I think you’re silly: You delete the analytics from the docs, Your docs are messy and disorganized, You don’t disclose (aff/neg), you excessively mark every other card
I don’t care: How you speak, how you dress, if you sit or stand
Process (How do I judge)
Truth>Tech. What I mean by that: The quality of an argument both in terms of its in-round development and its inherent persuasiveness can largely determine the burden of rejoinder on that argument. So bad args (no scholarly evidence to support, unwarranted, obviously not true, etc) don’t take too much. However, I generally will not intervene if a complete argument is dropped.
Critic of Argument. I determine which issues/arguments are most important for me to resolve to make a decision. (ideally that’s largely informed by the last speeches) Most of the time, I phrase this in terms of a question: Is there a large risk of nuclear terror? Is China a revisionist state? I then list out each argument both sides have on that particular argument. Then I make a new list of reasons why I resolved the debate in the way that I did, and provide an implication for my ballot. I do that until all of the major issues in the debate are concluded and make a decision informed by those choices.
Speaker Points. I give speaker points largely based on how quality I perceive the student's arguments to be on the areas of the debate which are most relevant to the decision. factors like- timeliness of evidence, source quality, novelty of argument, cleverness of explanation, persuasiveness of delivery, organization of the speaker, tactful use of humor, etc - are examples of factors that tend to sway me to give higher speaker points. I find that I'm giving bad speaks recently, and that's largely because on the issues that matter to the decision, debaters are not demonstrating sufficient mastery of the source material to present strong explanations of their arguments beyond the tag lines.
in general I'm a standard "flow judge." i have debate experience, tend to view the debate in an offense defense paradigm, and expect speeches to clash with the previous speech as much as possible.
Some specific quirks
1 - I don't like theory or really broad k arguments. I'm not a no progressive debate in PF ever judge, but don't test it. I find the most value in PF debates that are rigorous but limited discussions of the topic. I have voted a few times for paraphrasing and disclosure but I don't find these debates to be very valuable and if at all possible I'd rather not hear theory arguments. If you have critical literature that applies to the topic please feel free to include them in the debate. I've voted for teams that contest the form of debate itself and generate their arguments from critiques of the community. I'm still working through how I should evaluate these arguments. In the past I've tried to judge them like I would in other formats (policy-LD)
2 - I'm going to time your speeches and I won't flow after your time ends. This is a weird thing to have to bring up, but I find that this is a common part of my RFD. If the time goes off and 10 seconds after your time you start a card, I'm not going to flow it. I'm a pretty low key person so I'm not going to yell at you or get really upset, but I'm not flowing your speech after the allotted time.
3 - suspect evidence practice really annoy me. I get that PF is different than other formats. In my ideal world we would all directly quote evidence and provide at least a paragraph of context to our opponents before the speech starts. I get that isn't the norm and I'm willing to adapt. if you quote evidence please do so accurately and have a quick mechanism to provide the evidence to your opponent.
Debated for UWG ’15 – ’17; Coaching: Notre Dame – ’19 – Present; Baylor – ’17 – ’19
"Can I get a marked doc?" / "Can you list the cards you didn't read?" when one card was marked or just because some cards were skipped on case. Flow or take CX time for it.
I prefer K v K rounds, but I generally wind up in FW rounds.
K aff’s – 1) Generally have a high threshold for 1ar/2ar consistency. 2) Stop trying to solve stuff you could reasonably never affect. Often, teams want the entirety of X structure’s violence weighed yet resolve only a minimal portion of that violence. 3) v K’s, you are rarely always already a criticism of that same thing. Your articulation of the perm/link defense needs to demonstrate true interaction between literature bases. 4) Stop running from stuff. If you didn’t read the line/word in question, okay. But indicts of the author should be answered with more than “not our Baudrillard.”
K’s – 1) rarely win without substantial case debate. 2) ROJ arguments are generally underutilized. 3) I’m generally persuaded by aff answers that demonstrate certain people shouldn’t read certain lit bases, if warranted by that literature. 4) I have a higher threshold for generic “debate is bad, vote neg.” If debate is bad, how do you change those aspects of debate? 5) 2nr needs to make consistent choices re: FW + Link/Alt combinations. Find myself voting aff frequently, because the 2nr goes for two different strats/too much.
Special Note for Settler Colonialism: I simultaneously love these rounds and experience a lot of frustration when judging this argument. Often, debaters haven’t actually read the full text from which they are cutting cards and lack most of the historical knowledge to responsibly go for this argument. List of annoyances: there are 6 settler moves to innocence – you should know the differences/specifics rather than just reading pages 1-3 of Decol not a Metaphor; la paperson’s A Third University is Possible does not say “State reform good”; Reading “give back land” as an alt and then not defending against the impact turn is just lazy. Additionally, claiming “we don’t have to specify how this happens,” is only a viable answer for Indigenous debaters (the literature makes this fairly clear); Making a land acknowledgement in the first 5 seconds of the speech and then never mentioning it again is essentially worthless; Ethic of Incommensurability is not an alt, it’s an ideological frame for future alternative work (fight me JKS).
General: 1) Fairness is either an impact or an internal link 2) the TVA doesn’t have to solve the entirety of the aff. 3) Your Interp + our aff is just bad.
Aff v FW: 1) can win with just impact turns, though the threshold is higher than when winning a CI with viable NB’s. 2) More persuaded by defenses of education/advocacy skills/movement building. 3) Less random DA’s that are basically the same, and more internal links to fully developed DA’s. Most of the time your DA’s to the TVA are the same offense you’ve already read elsewhere.
Reading FW: 1) Respect teams that demonstrate why state engagement is better in terms of movement building. 2) “If we can’t test the aff, presume it’s false” – no 3) Have to answer case at some point (more than the 10 seconds after the timer has already gone off) 4) You almost never have time to fully develop the sabotage tva (UGA RS deserves more respect than that). 5) Impact turns to the CI are generally underutilized. You’ll almost always win the internal link to limits, so spending all your time here is a waste. 6) Should defend the TVA in 1nc cx if asked. You don’t have a right to hide it until the block.
Theory - 1) I generally lean neg on questions of Conditionality/Random CP theory. 2) No one ever explains why dispo solves their interp. 3) Won’t judge kick unless instructed to.
T – 1) I’m not your best judge. 2) Seems like no matter how much debating is done over CI v Reasonability, I still have to evaluate most of the offense based on CI’s.
DA/CP – 1) Prefer smart indicts of evidence as opposed to walls of cards (especially on ptx/agenda da's). Neg teams get away with murder re: "dropped ev" that says very little/creatively highlighted. 2) I'm probably more lenient with aff responses (solvency deficits/aff solves impact/intrinsic perm) to Process Cp's/Internal NB's that don't have solvency ev/any relation to aff.
Case - I miss in depth case debates. Re-highlightings don't have to be read. The worse your re-highlighting the lower the threshold for aff to ignore it.
All of my thoughts on policy apply, except for theory. More than 2 condo (or CP’s with different plank combinations) is probably abusive, but I can be convinced otherwise on a technical level.
Not voting on an RVI. I don’t care if it’s dropped.
Most LD theory is terrible Ex: Have to spec a ROB or I don’t know what I can read in the 1nc --- dumb argument.
Phil or Tricks (sp?) debating – I’m not your judge.
Please put me on the email chain: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I was the Head Debate Coach at Niles West High School for twelve years. I'm currently an Assistant Debate Coach for Niles West. I also work at the University of Michigan summer debate camps. Competed in policy debate at the high school level for six years at New Trier. #gotrevs (always already a preclusion...don't worry).
Master of Arts in School Leadership Concordia University-Chicago
Master of Arts in Education Wake Forest University
Juris Doctor Illinois Institute of Technology-Chicago Kent College of Law
Bachelor of Arts University of California, Santa Barbara
I will vote on any type of debate argument so long as the team extends it throughout the entire round and explains why it is a voter. Thus, I will pull the trigger on theory, agent specification, and other arguments many judges are unwilling to vote on. Even though I am considered a “politics/counter plan” debater, I will vote on kritiks, but I am told I evaluate kritik debates in a “politics/counter plan” manner (I guess this is not exactly true anymore...and I tend to judge clash debates). I try not to intervene in rounds, and all I ask is that debaters respect each other throughout the competition.
The tournament and those judging you are not at your leisure. Please do your best to start the round promptly at the posted time on the pairing and when I'm ready to go (sometimes I do run a few minutes late to a round, not going to lie). Please do your best to: use prep ethically, attach speech documents quickly, ask to use bathroom at appropriate times (e.g. ideally not right before your or your partner's speech), and contribute to moving the debate along and help keep time. I will give grace to younger debaters on this issue, but varsity debaters should know how to do this effectively. This is an element of how I award speaker points. I'm a huge fan of efficient policy debate rounds. Thanks!
In my opinion, you cannot waive CX and bank it for prep time. Otherwise, the whole concept of cross examination in policy debate is undermined. I will not allow this unless the tournament rules explicitly tell me to do so.
If you use a poem, song, etc. in the 1AC, you should definitely talk about it after the 1AC. Especially against framework. Otherwise, what is the point? Your performative method should make sense as a praxis throughout the debate.
Do not post round me. I will lower your speaker points if you or one of your coaches acts disrespectful towards me or the opponents after the round. I have no problem answering any questions about the debate but it will be done in a respectful manner to all stakeholders in the room. If you have any issues with this, please don't pref me. I have seen, heard and experienced way too much disrespectful behavior by a few individuals in the debate community recently where, unfortunately, I feel compelled to include this in my paradigm.
Updated for NATO Topic
E-Mail Chain: Yes, add me (email@example.com). I do not distribute docs to third party requests unless a team has failed to update their wiki.
Experience: Damien 05, Amherst College 09, Emory Law 13L. This will be my sixth year as the Assistant Director at Damien, and my first year as Director at St. Lucy's Priory. I consider myself fluent in debate, but my debate preferences (both ideology and mechanics) are influenced by debating in the 00s.
Debate: I am open to voting for almost any argument or style so long as I have an idea of how it functions within the round and it is appropriately impacted. Debate is a game. Rules of the game (the length of speeches, the order of the speeches, which side the teams are on, clipping, etc.) are set by the tournament and left to me (and other judges) to enforce. Comparatively, standards of the game (condo, competition, fiat) are determined in round by the debaters. Framework is a debate about whether the resolution should be a rule and/or what that rule looks like. Persuading me to favor your view/interpretation of debate is accomplished by convincing me that it is the method that promotes better debate, either more fair or more pedagogically valuable, compared to your opponent's. My ballot is awarded to who debated better; I will not adjudicate a round based on any issues external to the round, whether that was at camp or a previous round.
I run a planess aff; should I strike you? My ideological predispositions on framework are negative, but I will try my hardest to vote for whoever defends their model of debate better. I do actually end up voting aff about half the time. Be aware that I will hold planless affs to the same standard I would hold a neg alt; I absolutely must have an idea of what the aff (and my ballot) does and how/why that solves for an impact. If you do not explain this to me, I will hack out on presumption. Performances (music, poetry, narratives) are neat, but are non-factors until you contextualize and justify why they are solvency mechanisms for the aff in the debate space.
Evidence and Argumentative Weight: Tech over truth, but it is easier to debate well if you are on the side with the true arguments and better cards. In-speech analysis goes a long way with me; I am much more likely to side with a team that develops and compares warrants vs. a team that extends by tagline/author only. I will read cards as necessary, including explicit prompting, however I read critically and evaluate warrants. Cards are only as good as their highlighted warrants. You are better off with fewer well-highlighted cards than multiple under-highlighted cards. Well-explained logical analytics, especially if developed in CX, can beat bad/under-highlighted cards.
Debate Ideologies: I think that judges should reward good debating over ideology, so almost all of my personal preferences can be overcome if you debate better than your opponents. You can limit the chance that I intervene by 1) providing clear judge instruction and 2) justifications for those judge instructions; the 2NR and 2AR are competing pitches trying to sell me a ballot.
Accommodations: Please email me ahead of time if you believe you will need an accommodation that cannot be facilitated in round so that I can work with tab on your issue. Any accommodation you wish to request of the other team that has potential competitive implications (content, speed, etc.) should be requested either with me CC'd or in my presence so that tournament ombuds mediation can be requested if necessary.
Argument by argument breakdown below.
Debating T well is a question of engaging in responsive impact debate. You win my ballot when you are the team that proves their interpretation is best for debate -- usually by proving that you have the best internal links (ground, predictability, legal precision, research burden, etc.) to a terminal impact (fairness and/or education). I love judging a good T round and I will reward teams with the ballot and with good speaker points for well thought-out interpretations (or counter-interps) with nuanced defenses.
I default to competing interpretations, but reasonability can be compelling to me if properly contextualized. I am more receptive when affs can articulate why their specific counter-interp is reasonable (e.g., "The aff interp only imposes a reasonable additional research burden of two more cases") versus vague generalities ("Good is good enough").
I believe that many resolutions (most domestic topics) are sufficiently aff-biased or poorly worded that preserving topicality as a viable generic negative strategy is important; I would much rather hear a well-articulated limited vision of the topic than either Ks with state or omission links or Frankenstein process CPs that result in the aff. I have no problem voting for the neg if I believe that they have done the better debating, even if I think that the aff is topical in a truth sense. I am also the rare judge who will actually vote on T-Substantial (substantial is not subsets) because I think there needs to be a mechanism to check small affs, so long as the neg debates it well.
Fx/Xtra Topicality: I will vote on them independently if they are impacted as independent voters. However I also treat them as internal links to the original violation and standards. The neg is best off introducing Fx/Xtra early with me in the back; I give the 1ARs more leeway to answer new Fx/Xtra extrapolations than I will give the 2AC for undercovering Fx/Xtra.
* Framework / T-USFG
For an aff to win framework they must articulate and defend specific reasons why they cannot and do not embed their advocacy into a topical policy as well as reasons why resolutional debate is a bad model. Procedural fairness starts as an impact by default and the aff must prove why it should not be. I can and will vote on education outweighs fairness, or that substantive fairness outweighs procedural fairness, but the aff must actually debate and win these arguments. The TVA is an education argument and not a fairness argument; affs are not entitled to the best version of the case (policy affs do not get extra-topical solvency mechanisms), so I don't care if the TVA is worse than the planless version.
For the neg, you have the burden of proving either that fairness outweighs the aff's education or that policy-centric debate has better access to education (or a better type of education). I am neutral regarding which impact to go for -- I firmly believe the negative is on the truth side on both -- it will be your execution of these arguments that decides the round. Contextualization and specificity are your friends. If you go with fairness, you should not only articulate specific ground loss in the round but why neg ground loss under the aff's model inevitable and uniquely worse. When going for education, deploy arguments for why plan-based debate is a better internal link to positive real world change: debate provides valuable portable skills, debate is training for advocacy outside of debate, etc. Empirical examples of how reform ameliorates harm for the most vulnerable, or how policy-focused debate scales up better than planless debate, are extremely persuasive in front of me.
I think that debate's largest educational impact is training students in real world advocacy, therefore I believe that the best iteration of debate is one that teaches people in the room something about the topic, including minutiae about process. I have MUCH less aversion to voting on procedurals and theory than most judges. I think the aff has a burden as advocates to defend a specific and coherent implementation strategy of their case and the negative is entitled to test that implementation strategy. I will absolutely pull the trigger on vagueness, plan flaws, or spec arguments as long as there is a coherent story about why the aff is bad for debate and a good answer to why cross doesn't check. Conversely, I will hold negatives to equally high standards to defend why their counterplans make sense and why they should be considered competitive with the aff.
That said, you should treat theory like topicality; there is a bare amount of time and development necessary to make it a viable choice in your last speech. Outside of cold concessions, you are probably not going to persuade me to vote for you unless you have done actual line-by-line refutation and you have formed a coherent abuse story that is solved by your interpretation.
Also, if you go for theory... SLOW. DOWN. You have to account for pen/keyboard time; you cannot spread a block of analytics at me like they were a card and expect me to catch everything. I will be very unapologetic in saying I didn't catch parts of the theory debate on my flow because you were spreading too fast.
My defaults that CAN be changed by better debating:
-- Condo is good (but should probably have limitations to check perf cons and skew).
-- PICs, Actor, and Process CPs are all legitimate if they prove competition; a specific solvency advocate proves competitiveness and non-abuse whereas the lack of specific solvency evidence indicates high risk of a solvency deficit and/or no competition.
-- The aff is not entitled to all theoretical implementations of the plan (i.e. perm do the CP) just because they do not specify. The neg is not entitled to intrinsic processes that result in the aff (i.e. ConCon, NGA, League of Democracies).
-- Consult CPs and Floating PIKs are bad.
My defaults that are UNLIKELY to change or CANNOT be changed:
-- CX is binding.
-- Lit checks/justifies (debate is primarily a research and strategic activity).
-- OSPEC is never a voter (exception to a team fiating something contradictory to their ev or contradictions between different authors).
-- "Cheating" is reciprocal (utopian alts justify utopian perms, intrinsic CPs justify intrinsic perms, and so forth).
-- Real instances of abuse justify rejecting the team and not just the arg.
-- Teams should disclose previously run arguments; breaking new doesn't require disclosure.
-- Real world impacts exist (i.e. setting precedents/norms)... but a specific instance of behavior outside the room/round that is not verifiable is not relevant.
-- Condo doesn't automatically allow severance of the discourse/rhetoric attached to the offcase (it's one thing to test the aff from multiple perspectives, it's another to run hege impacts when you have a K with a reps links and the alt is to reject bad scholarship). You can win severance of your reps, but you must actually justify it. It is not a default entitlement from condo.
-- ASPEC is checked by cross and the neg should ask. If the aff does not answer, the neg can subsequently win the round by proving moving target or link spikes. If the aff does answer and doesn't spike, then ASPEC is dead.
TL;DR: I would much rather hear a good K than a bad politics disad, so if you have a coherent and contextualized argument for why critical academic scholarship is relevant to the aff, I am fine for you. If you run Ks to avoid doing specific case research and brute force ballots with links of omission or criticisms about the state/fiat, I am a bad judge for you. If I'm in the back for a planless aff vs. a K, it's a mutual mid round or you did your prefs wrong.
A kritik must be presented in an comprehensible argument in round. To me, that means that a K must not only explain the scholarship and its relevance (links and impacts), but it must function as a coherent call for the ballot (through the alternative). The link alone is insufficient without a reason to reject the aff and/or prefer the alt. I do not have any biases or predispositions about what my ballot does or should do, but if you cannot explain your alt and/or how my ballot interacts with the alt (or lack thereof) then I will have an extremely low threshold for treating the K as a non-unique disad. Alts like "Reject the aff" and "Vote neg" are fine so long as there is a coherent explanation for why I should do that beyond the mere fact the aff links (for example, if the K turns case). If the alt is some actual action which solves back for the implications of the kritik, whether it is a material alt or a debate space alt, the solvency process of the alt should be explained and contrasted with the plan. Links of omission are super uncompelling in front of me. I am usually unpersuaded by perm answers that are just re-explanations of links without re-contextualization to why those links implicate perm solvency. Ks can solve the aff, but the mechanism probably shouldn't be that the world of the alt results in the plan.
Affs should not be afraid of going for straight impact turns behind a robust framework press to evaluate the aff. I'm more willing than most judges to consider the merit in challenging kritik ideology head on rather than labeling your discourse as a link. I am also particularly receptive to arguments about pragmatism on the perm if you have empirical examples of progress through state reform that relate to your aff or the neg's impacts.
I think that research is a core part of debate as an activity, and good counterplan strategy goes hand-in-hand with that. The risk of the net benefit the neg must win is inversely proportional to how good the counterplan is. Generic PICs are more vulnerable to perms and solvency deficits and carry much higher threshold burden on the net benefit. PICs with specific solvency advocates or highly specific net benefits are devastating and one of the ways that debate rewards research and how debate equalizes aff side bias by rewarding negs who who diligent in research. Agent and process counterplans are similarly better when the neg has a nuanced argument for why one agent/process is better than the aff's for a specific plan.
I do not judge kick by default, but 2NRs can easily convince me to do as an extension of condo. I believe that superior solvency for the aff case alone can be a sufficient reason to vote for the CP in a debate that is purely between hypothetical policies (i.e. aff has no competition arguments).
I am very likely to err neg on sufficiency framing; the aff absolutely needs either a solvency deficit or arguments about why an appeal to sufficiency framing itself means that the neg cannot capture the ethic of the affirmative (and why that outweighs).
Process CPs: I do not think intentionally vague plan texts should give the aff access to all theoretical implementations of the plan, so I am super unfriendly to Perm Do the CP. I expect aff teams to know their case well enough to welcome a debate against the neg on implementation. Conversely, the neg has an equally high burden to defend the competitiveness of their counterplans. There are differences in form and content between legislative statutes, administrative regulations, executive orders, and court cases; I will readily reject a counterplan if the neg's attempt to convert between these processes produces a structural defect. Process counterplans where the process is entirely intrinsic are not competitive, and I have a very low threshold for rejecting them theoretically or granting the aff an intrinsic perm to test germaneness.
I value defense more than most judges and am willing to assign minimal ("virtually zero") risk based on defense, especially when quality difference in evidence is high or the disad scenario is painfully artificial. Nuclear war probably outweighs the soft left impact in a vacuum, but not if you are relying on "infinite impact times small risk is still infinity" to mathematically brute force it. I can be convinced by good analysis that there is always a risk of a DA in spite of defense.
Speaker Point Scale: I feel speaker points are arbitrary and the only way to fix this is standardization. Consequently I will try to follow any provided tournament scale very closely. In the event that there is no tournament scale, I grade speaks on bell curve with 30 being the 99th percentile, 27.5 being as the median 50th percentile, and 25 being the 1st percentile. I'm aggressive at BOTH addition and subtraction from this baseline since bell curves are distributed around the average. Elim teams should be scoring above average by definition. The scale is standardized; national circuit tournaments will have higher averages than local tournaments. Points are rewarded for both style (entertaining, organized, strong ethos) and substance (strategic decisions, quality analysis, obvious mastery of nuance/details). I listen closely to CX and include CX performance in my assessment. Well contextualized humor is the quickest way to get higher speaks in front of me, e.g. make a Thanos snap joke on the Malthus flow.
Delivery and Organization: Your speed should be limited by clarity. I reference the speech doc during the debate to check clipping, not to flow. You should be clear enough that I can flow without needing your speech doc. Additionally, even if I can hear and understand you, I am not going to flow your twenty point theory block perfectly if you spit it out in ten seconds. Proper sign-posted line by line is the bare minimum to get over a 28.5. I will only flow straight down as a last resort, so it is important to sign-post the line-by-line, otherwise I will lose some of your arguments while I jump around on my flow and I will dock your speaks. If online please keep in mind that you will, by default, be less clear through Zoom than in person.
Cross-X, Prep, and Tech: Tag-team CX is fine but it's part of your speaker point rating to give and answer most of your own cross. I think that finishing the answer to a final question during prep is fine and simple clarification and non-substantive questions during prep is fine, but prep should not be used as an eight minute time bank of extra cross-ex. I don't charge prep for tech time, but tech is limited to just the emailing or flashing of docs. When you end prep, you should be ready to distribute.
Strategy Points: I will reward good practices in research and preparation. On the aff, plan texts that have specific mandates backed by solvency authors get bonus speaks. I will also reward affs for running disads to negative advocacies (real disads, not solvency deficits masquerading as disads -- Hollow Hope or Court Capital on a courts counterplan is a disad but CP gets circumvented is not). Negative teams with case negs (i.e. hyper-specific counterplans or a nuanced T or procedural objection to the specific aff plan text) will get bonus speaks.
UPDATED FOR THE GLENBROOKS
- head coach at the university of chicago laboratory schools
- i view the speech act as an act and an art. debate is foremost a communicative activity. i want to be compelled.
- i go back and forth on kritik/performance affs versus framework which is supported by my voting record - on the NATO topic I have judged 4 K aff vs FW rounds, voting for the K aff 1/4 times.
- i enjoy k v k or policy v k debates. however i end up with more judging experience in policy v policy rounds because we're in the north shore
- academic creativity & originality will be rewarded
- clarity matters. i flow by ear and on paper, including your cards' warrants and cites. people have told me my flows are beautiful
- tag team cx is okay as long as its not dominating
- don't vape in my round, it makes me feel like an enabler
if you do not see me on camera then assume i am not there. please go a touch slower on analytics if you expect me to flow them well. if anyone's connection is shaky, please include analytics in what you send if possible.
coaching at uclab for several years. i will probably have >50 rounds by the end of the season. i occasionally coach and judge local PF and camp (harvard). i am a former policy debater from maine east, (north shore, wayne tang gharana) with some college debating at iowa and i translated debates to med school. i identify as subaltern, he/they pronouns are fine. my academic background is medicine. this means i haven't spent my summers deeply reading into the topic aside camp files. it also means you may be counseled on tobacco cessation.
**how to win my ballot**
*entertain me.* connect with me. teach me something. be creative. its impossible for me to be completely objective, but i try to be fair in the way i adjudicate the round.
as tim 'the man' alderete said, "all judges lie." with that in mind...
i get bored- which is why i reward creativity in research and argumentation. if you cut something clever, you want me in the back of the room. i appreciate the speech as an act and an art. i prefer debates with good clash than 2 disparate topics. while i personally believe in debate pedagogy, i'll let you convince me it's elitist, marginalizing, broken, or racist. in determining why i should value debate (intrinsically or extrinsically) i will enter the room tabula rasa. if you put me in a box, i'll stay there. i wish i could adhere to a paradigmatic mantra like 'tech over truth.' but i've noticed that i lean towards truth in debates where both teams are reading lit from same branch of theory or where the opponent has won an overarching claim on the nature of the debate (framing, framework, theory, etc). my speaker point range is 27-30. Above 28.3-4 being what i think is 'satisfactory' for your division (3-3), 28.7 & above means I think you belong in elims. Do not abuse the 2nr.
Congrats! you're slowly sinking into a strange yet fascinating vortex called policy debate. it will change your life, hopefully for the better. focus on the line by line and impact analysis. if you're confused, ask instead of apologize. this year is about exploring. i'm here to judge and help :)
this topic has a wealth of amazing definitions and i'm always up for a scrappy limits debate. debaters should be able to defend why their departure from (Classic mode) Policy is preferable. while i don't enter the round presuming plan texts are necessary for a topical discussion, i do enjoy being swayed one way or the other on what's needed for a topical discussion (or if one is valuable at all). overall, its an interesting direction students have taken Policy. as a debater (in the bronze age) i used to be a HUGE T & spec hack. nowadays, the these debates tend to get messy. so flow organization will be rewarded: number your args, sign post through the line-by-line, slow down to give me a little pen time. i tend to vote on analysis with specificity and/or(?) creativity.
i enjoy performance, original poetry & spoken word, musical, moments of sovereignty, etc. i find most "high theory," identity politics, and other social theory debates enjoyable. i dont mind how you choose to organize k speeches/overviews so long as there is some way you organize thoughts on my flow. 'long k overviews' can be (though seldom are) beautiful. i appreciate a developed analysis. more specific the better, examples and analogies go a long way in you accelerating my understanding. i default to empiricism/historical analysis as competitive warranting unless you frame the debate otherwise. i understand that the time constraint of debate can prevent debaters from fully unpacking a kritik. if i am unfamiliar with the argument you are making, i will prioritize your explanation. i may also read your evidence and google-educate myself. this is a good thing and a bad thing, and i think its important you know that asterisk. i try to live in the world of your kritik/ k aff. absent a discussion of conditional advocacy, i will get very confused if you make arguments elsewhere in the debate that contradict the principles of your criticism (eg if you are arguing a deleuzian critique of static identity and also read a misgendering/misidentifying voter).
**spec, ethics challenges, theory**
PLEASE DO NOT HIDE YOUR ASPEC VIOLATIONS. if the argument is important i prefer you invite the clash than evade it.
i have no way to fairly judge arguments that implicate your opponent's behavior before the round, unless i've witnessed it myself or you are able to provide objective evidence (eg screenshots, etc.). debate is a competitive environment so i have to take accusations with a degree of skepticism. i think the trend to turn debate into a kangaroo court, or use the ballot as a tool to ostracize members from the community speaks to the student/coach's tooling of authority at tournaments as well as the necessity for pain in their notion of justice. i do have an obligation to keep the round safe. my starting point (and feel free to convince me otherwise) is that it's not my job to screen entries if they should be able to participate in tournaments - that's up to tab and is a prior question to the round. a really good podcast that speaks to this topic in detail is invisibilia: the callout.
on traditional theory args, whatever happened to presumption debates? i more often find theory compelling when contextualized to why there's a specific reason to object to the argument (e.g. why the way this specific perm operates is abusive/sets a bad precedent). i always prefer the clash to be developed earlier in the debate than vomiting blocks at each other. as someone who used to go for theory, i think there's an elegant way to trap someone. and it same stipulations apply- if you want me to vote for it, make sure i'm able to clearly hear and distinguish your subpoints.
i always enjoy creative or case specific PICs. i like to hear story-weaving in the overview. i do vote on theory - see above. i also enjoy an in depth case clash, case turn debate. i do not have a deep understanding on the procedural intricacies of our legal system or policymaking and i may internet-educate myself on your ev during your round.
**work experience/education you can ask me about**
- medical school, medicine
- clinical research/trials
- biology, physiology, gross anatomy, & pathophysiology are courses i've taught
- nicotine/substance cessation
- coaching debate!
**PoFo - (modified from Tim Freehan's poignant paradigm):**
I have NOT judged the PF national circuit pretty much ever. The good news is that I am not biased against or unwilling to vote on any particular style. Chances are I have heard some version of your meta level of argumentation and know how it interacts with the round. The bad news is if you want to complain about a style of debate in which you are unfamiliar, you had better convince me why with, you know, impacts and stuff. Do not try and cite an unspoken rule about debate in your part of the country.
Because of my background in Policy, I tend to look at debate as competitive research or full-contact social studies. Even though the Pro is not advocating a Plan and the Con is not reading Disadvantages, to me the round comes down to whether the Pro has a greater possible benefit than the potential implications it might cause. Both sides should frame the round in terms impact calculus and or feasibility. Framework, philosophical, moral arguments are great, though I need instruction in how you want me to evaluate that against tangible impacts.
Evidence quality is very important.
I will vote with what's on what is on the flow only. I enter the round tabula rasa, i try to check my personal opinions at the door as best as i can. I may mock you for it, but I won’t vote against you for it. No paraphrasing. Quote the author, date and the exact words. Quals are even better but you don’t have to read them unless pressed. Have the website handy. Research is critical.
Speed? Meh. You cannot possibly go fast enough for me to not be able to follow you. However, that does not mean I want to hear you go fast. You can be quick and very persuasive. You don't need to spread.
Defense is nice but is not enough. You must create offense in order to win. There is no “presumption” on the Con.
I am a fan of “Kritik” arguments in PF! I do think that Philosophical Debates have a place. Using your Framework as a reason to defend your scholarship is a wise move. You can attack your opponents scholarship. Racism, sexism, heterocentrism, will not be tolerated between debaters. I have heard and will tolerate some amount of racism towards me and you can be assured I'll use it as a teaching moment.
I reward debaters who think outside the box.
I do not reward debaters who cry foul when hearing an argument that falls outside traditional parameters of PF Debate. But if its abusive, tell me why instead of just saying “not fair.”
Statistics are nice, to a point. But I feel that judges/debaters overvalue them. Some of the best impacts involve higher values that cannot be quantified. A good example would be something like Structural Violence.
While Truth outweighs, technical concessions on key arguments can and will be evaluated. Dropping offense means the argument gets 100% weight.
The goal of the Con is to disprove the value of the Resolution. If the Pro cannot defend the whole resolution (agent, totality, etc.) then the Con gets some leeway.
I care about substance more than style. It never fails that I give 1-2 low point wins at a tournament. Just because your tie is nice and you sound pretty, doesn’t mean you win. I vote on argument quality and technical debating. The rest is for lay judging.
Relax. Have fun.
Put me on the email chain: firstname.lastname@example.org (yes I know).
TLDR I debate at Wichita State in college. I am a senior. I debated at Kapaun Mt. Carmel (2018) in high school. I mostly judge clash and policy debates. I do policy stuff in college. You can not read a plan. You can win or lose in framework debates.
I enjoy people who enjoy what they are doing in debate. Do whatever you want. I won't place any strict limits on what the content of your arguments can be. I will certainly listen to arguments about what the content of your arguments can be. If you don't want to read a plan defend it. If you want to read Co2 ag then defend it.
I want you to draw the lines for me as much as possible about how arguments interact in the debate. 2NRs and 2ARs that start with a thesis statement about why they are winning the debate (example: the impact scenario we are going for is big and the link to the disad is small) and then attempt to prove why that is true are probably the most likely to win. I am much more of a big picture kind of person.
This is both a research and a communicative activity. I will reward well executed rhetoric and good research. I will probably read most cards over the course of the debate but will likely only care about specific pieces of evidence only as much as I am instructed to by you all. I think voting X or Y way simply because someone's cards are better is a cop-out decision and I want to hear you all debate about the cards you have read. Judge instruction above everything else.
Be bold and make decisions in the debate. Confidence is valuable. Being mean for no reason/bullying people is usually not the move. Strait turning things is highly underrated.
- Aff offense is usually really helpful on disads and can get you out of a jam. Trying to diminish the risk of a disad with a bunch of small arguments is usually less effective than a big defensive argument in the 2ar. Obviously the 2ac should have some diversity
- Now I am just going to default to judge kick, but can certainly be convinced its bad if the 1ar says it.
- I think about theory debates the same as any other argument. That is to say that I do not auto reject CPs that I think are cheating and do not have various invisible "thresholds" to vote on certain arguments. This means that I do not care if you read arguments that are obviously cheating, but you better be able to defend your delay CP. I think most arguments that are considered illegitimate should be relatively easy to prove as unfair or non-competitive. The 1ar needs a bit more than an even shorter extension of what the 2ac said. I wouldn't say you SHOULD go for condo but I will certainly listen to it.
- I tend to care more than most about what cards in T debates actually say. Reading cards that actually make an argument is pretty important to get me to vote on T. I feel like 80% of the time that a T card is good, I have to read a lot of the unhighlighted parts for it to make sense. Your shell usually has a single card in it and it's probably short anyway - make it say something.
- I don't really know what the community consensus of the meaning of the resolution is. I also am not sure what affs everyone is reading so if you give me a case list of a bunch of random affs I will not know what to do with it. The topic seems big.
Ks vs policy affs
- I have judged a lot of these debates now and I think there are really two main ways that I end of voting neg in these debates. The first and probably more difficult way is winning that the link arguments turn the case/ make the world worse than the status quo - this also typically requires a fair amount of impact framing - I also think these are the most impressive 2nrs that I have seen on the K - the second route to victory is winning a big framework debate about why the aff doesn't matter. This also means that alts usually don't end up mattering that much in most debates but that might be because no one ever goes for the alt anyway. Some Ks are also just big more dense presumption debates. I am also okay with that.
- fairness is an argument and it can win debates. More of a clash person and not really a big “learning about the government good” person. I think we should probably learn about the government but I find it strategically underwhelming as an argument – it usually requires you to have already won case. Debating the case and presumption pushes are usually pretty helpful at various points in the debate and can bolster your framework strat even if that is the only real 2nr you can give. Constantly pushing the aff on what they defend usually helps illustrate your limits argument.
- I really do think about these debates in terms of competing interpretations. I like an idea of what the aff model looks like. This means that both teams should constantly be trying to illustrate what happens under their model AND their opponent's. Impact turns to framework are usually better than playing defense on limits. If you don't have a counter interp, that's fine but I will probably need some more arguments about how to evaluate competing offense.
K v K
- do what you want but I find that people do very little judge instruction in these debates. Please tell me how to weigh various arguments against each other or I will figure something out myself and someone will be upset. Hard to give you specific help since these debates could be a whole lotta things but I am willing to think about less traditional ways to evaluate things like competition or impact calc. I may have read of debated whatever arguments you are reading but there is a pretty good chance I have little to no idea how they interact with what your opponent said. Err on the side of over-explanation.
- Quick note about speaks. I try to give points that will reflect the outcomes you deserve and I adjust based on the tournament I am judging. I try to consider if the quality of the speeches you gave was what I would expect of a team that was in elimination rounds or an individual that I thought was worthy of a speaker award and adjust to what I think would be required for that outcome. Speaker points are somewhat subjective but I try to give points that are somewhat reflective of how everyone else does them.
- I usually decide pretty quickly. When I don't it usually means I have to do a lot of combing through evidence which I don't like doing and will result in having to move more and more away from the arguments on my flow. Debates that heavily compare and contest evidence are great though and can still take a while.
carrollton sacred heart '17
university of michigan '21
yes, i want speech docs – email@example.com
I lean neg ideologically, but I have in the past voted for affs without plan texts. The reason for this is because I think that affs that try to go for a more middle ground approach with a robustly defended counter-interp are strategic against the way that many debaters go for framework/T. I often think about "framework" debates the same way I think about topicality/competing interpretations: what does debate look like in a world of the aff vs the neg? I strongly dislike debates where the aff doesn't defend their own interpretation of what debate should look like but instead leverage 15 mini impact turns to T that might just be inevitable/not resolved by the aff's interp.
Please slow down
I have a decent knowledge of the topic/what affs are popular so I'm pretty comfortable judging these debates. Evidence quality matters a lot to me in T debates, and the better your interp ev is the better your chances are
it's a voting issue, no RVIs, this isn't LD
I tend to be aff leaning with process CPs – If your CP tries to “compete” based on immediacy or certainty, it probably doesn’t compete. Additionally, if your CP leads to whatever the plan mandates, does it in some arbitrary way, or adds a part to the plan, I am likely to vote on the perm. If you are extending a permutation in the 1ar, it should be explained way beyond three words for me to evaluate it – what it does and how it shields the link, etc. Otherwise, I'll likely protect the 2nr from 2ar extrapolation.
If you have aff-specific or topic-specific ev to support the CP, I'll likely err neg on competition/theory.
Aff – winning a credible solvency deficit is important. Ideally, there should be evidentiary support or an internal link chain from which you can base the solvency deficit.
You read death good = you get 20-21 points (whoever said it first gets 20) and a fat L
Other than the death good stuff, I'm probably better for most K debates than people think. I am in grad school for English/Info studies and have a pretty decent understanding of most critical literature.
Identity args - I'm not the best for over-arching ontology arguments - I am particularly hesitant to assign a universal political and/or social identity to an entire population. I am particularly uncomfortable in debates where non-black debaters make Wilderson's argument about all black people experiencing social death or anything analogous to that.
Theory arguments vs the link are usually not winners for me
Block/2nr impact calc is one of the most important things that determine my decision. My decision will be the easiest if you win that the disadvantage outweighs and controls a larger internal link to solving the aff impacts/advantages than the aff actually does.
There can be 0% risk of an impact – don’t underestimate defense.
Might be an area of disagreement for some, but I think the politics link can be non-unique – it’s best if the 2ac reads a card on it.
Again, aff-specific ev is a gamechanger for competition and theory questions - but these are my defaults:
Condo – good
PICs – good
Word PICs – depends on ev, but when the ev is decent these are awesome to judge
International / 50 state fiat – usually good
Agent CPs – good
Floating PIKs – bad
SPEC – set it up in cross-ex, or I won’t vote on these
If it’s not conditionality, I’ll probably default to rejecting the argument, not the team. But, that's just a default - I can be persuaded otherwise.
Best of luck and have fun!
North Broward MR
The current state of judging is an existential threat to the activity. I've been in debate for a while, too long to be fair. I've seen far too many careers ended or major rounds decided by decisions that I consider no less than indefensible and where the judges were clearly in over their heads from the beginning.
The sole consideration in my decisions is the technical execution of the speeches. Their "truth" is irrelevant. No argument is off limits.
If you think that Harvard HS defeated Michigan State ST in the semifinals of the 2016 NDT, strike me.
In order to help you decide where to pref me, consider the following:
1. I am extremely confident that I can deliver a correct decision in the following circumstances:
A critical affirmative versus topicality or a substantive strategy.
A traditional, policy affirmative versus a critique.
A traditional, policy affirmative versus the status quo or an advantage CP.
A traditional, policy affirmative versus a Process CP where the 2AR goes for conventional permutations or deficits.
A debate where the final rebuttals come down to theory.
2. I am less confident in the following circumstances, but will still make a decision to the best of my ability and based solely on the arguments presented:
A traditional, policy affirmative versus topicality.
A traditional, policy affirmative or negative strategy that relies heavily on specific legal knowledge or familiarity with precedent.
3. I am the least confident evaluating debates where the 2AR, or a major component of affirmative strategy, involves an intrinsic permutation or theoretical defenses of competition standards (e.g., 'CPs must compete textually and functionally.')
This is not to say that you should not pref me or that my decision will deviate from the strict nuances of the flow, simply that I cannot guarantee with as much confidence that the correct decision will be rendered. If I am judging you in a debate that involves these arguments, you should heavily prioritize explaining and defining terms.
4. I am also very strict when assessing which arguments count as "new." Many judges are hesitant to scratch arguments or disallow new responses entirely. I am not one of those judges. I will protect the 2NR like it's the Thirteenth Amendment.
5. Here is my ideal panel: Rafael Pierry, Ani Prabhu, Tyler Thur, Allison Harper, and Daryl Burch.
6. Here is a list of judges that I would argue with in the post-round: Cody Crunkilton, Nae Edwards, Roberto Fernandez, Lauren Pepper, and Brandon Kelley.
7. While I have no strong predispositions about arguments, typically decide debates very quickly, and rarely look at evidence after the debate, I do sometimes struggle to fairly evaluate cards that are poorly formatted, use non-uniform citations or highlighting color, and generally do not look appealing. I appreciate well-formatted and organized evidence exemplified by programs such as Woodward and MBA in high school, or Northwestern and Minnesota in college.
Woodward Academy '21
Last Updated: 01/06/2023
Note for MBA
I have little topic knowledge, so make sure to explain any topic-specific acronyms.
I have found debate to be an incredibly valuable activity, and I hope everyone makes the most of it.
Be respectful to others in the round. Debate should be fun!
Be clear, both when speaking and in communicating your overall position.
I would like to be on the email chain: please add firstname.lastname@example.org
Thoughts on online debate —
1. I will give a thumbs up or verbally communicate when I am ready for you to begin your speech.
2. Flowability is especially important now. That requires clarity and organized line-by-line.
3. During cross-ex, try to minimize talking over each other.
Demonstrate that you understand the arguments you have presented in the round and that you can clearly explain them. That is far more important to me than individual argumentative preferences.
Excluding morally reprehensible positions (like “death good”), I generally believe that most arguments are winnable if debated well. However, there are a few general principles that guide how I evaluate virtually any position.
1. Know your evidence. I like arguments that are well-supported by research. Be able to explain not only what your evidence says, but how it further proves your position. I will read cards after the round, especially ones that are emphasized in speeches. Evidence comparison is an essential part of argument comparison.
2. Be specific. Contextualize your offense and defense to the affirmative or negative team’s particular scenario. Specific, detailed explanation is far better than making sweeping, unwarranted claims.
3. Connect on important arguments. Do not forget line-by-line, but also remember to explain the implication of each argument, especially in the later speeches. Ballot framing is just as important as argument resolution. What does winning an individual argument mean for the other components of the debate?
4. Cross-ex should have a strategic purpose. Determine how you can use this time to further your position in the debate. I like when an argument traces from one speech to cross-ex to another speech.
1. joe, not judge. yes, email chain: email@example.com
mail format should include tournament, round, teams, codes. example: 2021 TOC - Round 4 - Mitty AP (Aff) vs Little Rock GR (Neg)
2. have seen a lot of unkind behavior while judging. i used to think being angry was cool, and it's fine to show emotion, but don't push it too far. not trying to police expression, but sometimes its either just cringy or directly making individuals uncomfortable.
3. speech times are non-negotiable. outside help is prohibited. each debater must give 1 constructive and 1 rebuttal, unless there's a maverick situation that has been pre-approved.
4. i check to see if you clip. it actually happens a lot, and i won't hesitate to vote you down.
5. if a rehighlighting is longer than 3 lines, read it.
6. if i'm judging you:
a. [online] would prefer camera on. won't ask though.
b. [in person] i will try to sit at least 10 feet away. don't move closer. don't shake my hand.
1. little rock central '22, vanderbilt '26. comm major + data sci minor. i read a lot of philosophy and IR journals for research. you can ask me questions about vandy if you want.
2. read basically everything in high school as a 2A and 2N. some of my favorite arguments included:
aff: code-switching poetry in korean, wynter, soft left refugees, soko arms sales, race war.
neg: the security K, the allied prolif DA, the onticide K, T-subs, a conditions CP, spark.
3. politically, pretty anti-US and anti-capitalist, yet i vote on heg and cap impacts all the time due to superior technical debating. doing research personally and academically, i think most impact cards are cut by hacks (especially on IR topics) and teams don't call it out enough.
4. did the toc once. broke there. qualed twice. did about 10 tournaments a year all 4 years, mostly national circuit. aware of most trends in debate, and coach both policy and K teams, though I research more Ks and K answers than anything else.
1. i judge about 50% policy rounds 40% policy v k rounds and 10% k v k rounds. read what you're good at.
2. i will flow your speech. i will decide the debate based on said flow. even if you don't say words, i will flow what i think.
3. tech over truth, but arguments must have a claim, warrant, and implication. ok with trolly arguments. your fault if you lose the sky is green, but you do have to say why the sky being green matters. if an argument is bad, beat it.
this is the single most important part of my paradigm. way too often, debaters are dissatisfied with a decision, saying "they dropped this thing!" without ever explaining why it matters for the overall debate and instead leaving it to the judge's devices. implication debating of core concessions wins debates far more often than going for dozens of concessions and not explaining implications.
4. similarly, please do impact calculus. why does something matter more? old-school novice-style impact calculus debating is actually helpful for most debates.
5. i try to judge without bias (like most other judges), but i admittedly am not perfect, which is why i included my background since no judge is entirely insulated from their opinions on the quality of arguments. below, i've tried to relay my opinions on the quality of certain arguments. this can certainly be overcome with good debating, warrants, spin, and evidence, but incorporating some of my preferences can help render a decision in your favor.
6. i obviously will really hate you if you read something racist, sexist, transphobic, or otherwise, but if the other team doesn't call you out, i may be almost just as mad. if you said something that harms others (i.e. calling someone a slur, misgendering, etc) i will intervene, but if you say something that could be interpreted as such (i.e. drone strikes good, malthus, etc), i won't intervene. the closer you toe the line, the more likely i am to intervene. i will try my absolute hardest to let the debaters debate this out.
7. given this, feel free to postround. i will most likely disagree with you, given that i rendered a decision the other way, but i feel like it's an important way for debaters to hold judges accountable for potentially questionable decisions and make them rethink certain parts of their decision. that being said, if you become hostile, i will similarly become hostile. there's a difference between respectfully questioning someone's evaluation or lack thereof of certain arguments, and simply being angry because a judge disagrees with you and making it everyone else's problem.
8. above all other biases, i'm slightly neg leaning in most debates. i think most aff teams just can't decide what they're going for until the 2AR, and then usually don't say a sufficient amount of words in the 1AR on the thing they eventually decide to go for. good aff teams will flag offense and have more consistent wording between the final rebuttals, and the 2AR will impact out why this outweighs the 2NR's offense.
obligatory K section
you can read whatever, with some caveats.
1. don't assume i know anything about your authors or what they are saying. explanation is imperative.
2. please be specific. reading a K is not an excuse for not having links. quotes are great, but need to actually prove the link.
3. Ks on the neg need uniqueness. framework is the most common way to do this, but if you have a link to the plan or an alt that does something, that's fine too. absent one of these three, it seems near impossible for the neg to win.
4. framework is not "usually a wash" and determines a lot of offense. i will not vote for a "middle ground" interp not introduced by either team. if it doesn't matter, tell me why.
5. aff teams should read less state inevitable cards and more impact turns. solidify strategy by the 2AR and don't shotgun. don't have a preference for extinction/framework strategy over the perm/link turn strategy, but it makes less sense to go for the perm with an aff that talks about heg.
6. neg teams should read links about core aff thesis claims that either turn case, cause extinction, or have some epistemology/ontology/subjectivity impact that outweighs or just excludes the case. you need to explain what the K thesis means for the debate. should i view impact calc differently? are some of their truth claims wrong?
7. K v K: the link matters most for the perm, but impact comparison or turns case matters most overall. framework helps. explaining what the role of debate is helps me evaluate the alt vs the aff a lot better.
1. T v K affs:
a. explaining what the ballot does for the scope of impacts is most important for both teams:
affs often have big impacts but don't do a lot to solve them. doing risk calculus like you're debating "x-ism outweighs procedure" and doing solvency debating to show you solve some of the impact is most important.
negs often have small impacts that they can solve but lack impact comparison. limiting the scope of what debate/ the aff can solve is most beneficial. good 2Ns ask the question: how would the counter interp solve this in any capacity?
b. strategy wise, consistency is important.
affs would be better served choosing just a counter interp strategy or just an impact turn strategy. defense helps.
negs would be better served going for a small impact, solvency takeouts to DAs, and switch side.
c. TVAs are meh. if the aff says "free palestine now!" the neg has no obligation to say how this might be solved by cybersecurity. if you can, more power to you.
d. more persuaded by limits than ground for the neg. preparing for tons of affs usually means in depth debates are much harder, even if the neg could pull a K out of their backfiles.
e. intuitively, fairness/clash are better impacts to me than education/lawyering. it's smaller, but affs are usually more ready to impact turn legalism/the topic.
f. fairness is not inherently "just an internal link" OR "an intrinsic good". teams must explain beyond two words why it is or isn't an impact. warrants please!
similarly, i'm not sure why aff teams are only answering fairness with either "just an internal link" or "structural unfairness". usually neg teams are good at just no linking both. aff DAs about the operationalization of fairness are much more persuasive than answers 2Ns are all too ready for.
i prefer clash because i went for it more and it has some inroads to aff offense, but have voted on and coached teams to go for fairness many times though. don't over adapt.
2. T vs plan affs:
a. i enjoy T debates. i think some judges have an unreasonably high burden for T simply because it's a procedural. T is substance, and you should debate it as such. that being said, you have to not spread your T blocks at an incomprehensible pace.
b. i have not seen a good neg T card since CJR. please change that.
c. don't have a preference for limits or precision. just do comparison.
d. reasonability should be framed as offense. it doesn't make sense without a counter interp though.
e. no idea why T has to be 5 minutes of the 2NR if substance is also bad for the aff (example: they dropped presumption).
i'm not saying T-article 5 is unwinnable...but it's basically unwinnable.
1. solvency deficits need impacts. if you don't have any, find a better aff or cut better answers.
2. textual competition alone seems pretty bad, but i also agree that there's not a great bright line for "functional competition".
3. a lot of theory arguments don't have great interps even when the counterplan's competition is not that great either. read definitions.
1. not many problems here. actually fine with rider DAs, but you have to have that debate.
2. make complete arguments. do turns case.
3. bad DAs can be reduced to zero risk. same with bad advantages.
case debating is a lost art.
1. i love impact turns, even death good, although you shouldn't tell individuals they need to off themselves.
2. aff teams line by line is abysmal. neg teams usually just spam cards instead of actually reading the affs terrible cards and pointing out how terrible they are.
1. condo is the only (obvious) reason to reject the team. i could be convinced otherwise, but i haven't heard a warrant (yet) for why international fiat or the like made the entire 2AC undebatable.
2. much less biased for the neg than i used to be. i actually enjoy theory debates, but a lot of times, both sides just assert truisms about how debate works without explaining why or questioning the other sides warrants (example: why is aff or neg side bias actually true?)
3. voting record:
condo bad (2) - condo good (2)
word pics bad (0) - word pics good (1)
1. i've noticed everyone is going into the 29 range, so i've started to start at 28.3 instead. i'll adjust based on tournament pool.
2. your speaks will go down if you yell or insult each other. conversely, speaks will go up with jokes and humor.
3. most teams will be within the 27.5-29.5 range.
4. reading better ev, doing line by line with warrants, and actually comparing impacts will make me less grumpy and correlate with higher speaks.
1. if i look confused, this just means i don't get it. if i nod, it just means i get what you mean, not necessarily that i think it's the best/winning argument.
2. if you say your evidence is great and its not, i will be annoyed.
3. emailing is not prep, but if you take obnoxiously long, i will tell you to start prep.
4. deleting analytics is definitely prep.
5. "tag team" cx is fine, but if one debater is taking every question, speaks will suffer.
Law Magnet High School: 2012-2016
The University of Texas at Dallas: 2016-2019
Assistant debate coach at Coppell HS: 2018-now
firstname.lastname@example.org - I would like to be on the email chain :)
For policy - Please also add email@example.com to the email chain
Case: You should read it. Lots of it. It's good, makes for good debates and is generally underutilized. Impact turns are best when they are debated correctly.
Topicality: I enjoy T debates. If you're looking for a judge willing to pull the trigger on T, I'm probably a good judge for you.
DAs: DAs are a core debate argument and I love judging DA(& CP) v. case debates. Specific DAs are always a plus, but obviously that's not always possible. I tend default to an offense/defense paradigm.
Counterplans: A well thought out specific counterplan are one of the strongest debate tools that you can use. I will vote on almost any cp if you can win that it is theoretically legitimate and that it has a net benefit.
Kritiks: I have a pretty good grasp of a lot of the more popular Kritiks, but that isn't an excuse for a lack of explanation when reading your argument. But be aware that if you are reading more PoMo/high-theory args, you might have to explain the arg a bit more.
K AFFs: I have no problem with teams running untopical affs but this doesn't mean that I wont pull the trigger on FW, you still have to win the affs model ow the negs model of debate.
Theory: I have no problem voting on theory if it is well warranted. I honestly believe affirmative teams let the negative get away with a ton of stuff, and shouldn't be afraid to not only run theory but to go for it and go for it hard.
*Note for online debates: I'm very forgetful and my keyboard is loud af, so if I forget to mute, remind me to mute myself if the keyboard noise is being bothersome.
Call me Sam, He/Him, Oak Park River Forest '21 & Emory '25, currently coaching for Pace Academy, yes email chain firstname.lastname@example.org.
In my mind there are two serious reasons you might be reading my paradigm: either 1. you are determining prefs before a tournament or 2. you are determining how I will respond to your strategy before the round. I have organized my paradigm accordingly.
Listed below are the things I think are most important to point out about the way I judge, and the places where I might differ from the "consensus" of the debate community. If I do not bring up a certain issue, you should assume that I adopt the general "consensus view." If there is a particularly question that is important to you that I do not mention, you should absolutely feel free to email me before a tournament or even before a round. I will not write you up an essay on how I think you should go for whatever argument but I will answer straightforward yes or no questions like "is inserting a card ok if it was read in cx" (yes) or "when debated equally, do you think a textually legitimate but functionally illegitimate perm is valid if both teams agree a counterplan must be textually and functionally competitive" (also yes). If you are unsure whether your question is appropriate, there's no harm in asking.
-I like smart arguments. I like line by line. I like spreading (while being clear) and reading lots of cards and comparing evidence.
-I put substantial effort into evaluating every debate I judge to the best of my ability. That being said, the following is a ranking from most to least of my average confidence in evaluating each type of debate: DA/CP/Case Turn v Policy Aff, T v Policy Aff, K v Policy Aff, T/FW/DA v K Aff, K v K Aff.
-Debate is a competitive research game with a winner and a loser. It is my job to determine who the winner and the loser are based on who does the better debating in the round. It is very difficult to convince me to vote for something outside of the round (however, a team responding to "out-of-round" arguments should still defend why these arguments exceed the ballot's purview).
-I have not judged many T-USFG/FW debates, so I am not sure how idiosyncratic my approach of them is compared to common community practices. However, all else being equal, I have yet to see a convincing argument for why the affirmative should not have to defend a topical plan.
For Pre- (and Post-) round
-Do not over-adapt. Do what you do, do it well, and you will get my ballot.
-I am easily impressed by debaters who demonstrate that they command an extensive but approachable understanding of American foreign policy, the internal politics of other countries, "critical" debates in academia, etc. I am easily depressed by debaters who's knowledge of these subject is superficial or who can not describe these things in a way that is easily digestible. The best way to prove to me your quality as a speaker is to debate an important area of study both in-depth and in a way that a non-expert could understand.
-Have perm texts (it's ok to insert them).
-I generally flow in-person debates on paper. If you think you are going too fast you are. If you think you are unclear you are. Please slow down when you are making a lot of non-carded arguments in constructives, especially on T/Theory/K OVs.
-Generally, after the debate ends, I will generate a list of the questions I need to resolve to determine which side won. If the answers to any of these questions can clearly be determined based on my flow I will resolve them in the appropriate way. Finally, I will read the evidence presented by both teams on the more ambiguous questions on my list, and incorporate evidence, spin, and analytical arguments into evaluating them. Therefore, while good evidence is always important, evidence quality begins to matter a lot more to me if you have done less work with spin/analytics/etc, which is something you should keep in mind in how you approach your 2nr/2ar.
-Online: I highly encourage you to turn on your video if you are able to do so. Debate is a communicative activity and seeing you speak significantly helps me understand you on a psychological level.
-If the most precise reading of the resolution results in a bad topic, that's a gripe for the topic comity, not a justification for trying to re-define the topic (on either the aff or the neg). Is it possible to win my ballot on debatability? Yes. Does it require a lot of impact work? Also yes.
-Instead of focusing on only winning I should look at debatiability, predictability, or any of their component parts, consider how I will evaluate the round after it ends. Often times both teams have offered multiple lenses that modify one or more of these categories and how they interact. The teams that win T debates in front of me are usually the ones who come closest to identifying all the impacts and framing devices in the debate and explaining how they resolve.
-I love the politics DA. However, politics DAs require a story. The words "strong-arming moderates" in your uq ev + an "aff requires PC" card do not a story make. I will give good points for (decent) innovative politics strategies because I think they get at the heart of what makes debate fun and the ambiguities that fiat creates.
-There is a direct, positive, linear relationship between the amount of impact calc you do and how likely I am to vote for you. I know that's a cliché and I'm still including it here which should clue you in to how important this is. This also means that I am not a fan of framing contentions, and I only think they are useful in so far as you impact out and do impact calc with the applicable arguments on the appropriate DA or counterplan page. This is not to say I will throw out framing contentions; I will still try to adjudicate the debate as fairly as possible, just know that on balance I lean negative on theses issues and if you are running a framing contention you are better off convincing me the neg's impacts are securitized and bad then you are convincing me that DAs are fake.
-I default to counterplans needing to be functionally and textually competitive. However, the way the affirmative determines if the CP meets that burden is the permutation. Therefore, when debated equally, a textually legitimate but functionally illegitimate perm is valid.
-I am sympathetic to being time pressed in the 2AC and think the threshold for a sufficient explanation for a perm or solvency deficit in the 2AC is that I am able to reasonably predict the subsequent 1AR explanation. However, I am a lot less sympathetic to perms and solvency deficits (especially impacts to solvency deficits) that sound substantially different in the 2AR then they do in the 1AR (or that barely feature in the 1AR but feature prominently in the 2AR). While this is opposite to your strategic incentives, the earlier you explain your arguments the better for me as a judge, and perms or solvency deficits that are explained thoroughly in the 2AC require less time investment to explain in the 1AR, so there is a cost/benefit calculus you have to take on.
-In my mind, perms are a yes/no question. My default way to evaluate perms is to look at each one, see if it clearly establishes that the counterplan is not an opportunity cost the the plan, and depending on if the answer is yes or no discard the counterplan or move on to other arguments respectively. One implication of this is that I am generally unsympathetic to "any risk of a link to the net benefit" answers to the perm. Nevertheless, my stance on perms as a yes/no question is somewhat malleable if debaters make explicit arguments for why I should understand the perm in a different way.
-I view CPs through the lens of negation theory. The negative is, first and foremost, responsible for giving me a reason the aff is bad (not just a reason the aff is less good than it could be). That means all counterplans must have offensive net benefits. I will never vote for a counterplan whose net benefit is better aff solvency. Even if the counterplan solves the aff better, and is mutually exclusive with the aff, it has not provided a reason the aff is bad.
-By default neg leaning on theory. The two most important things to my ballot on a theory argument: 1. Win topic side bias AND/OR how this theory argument implicates this topic specifically AND explain the implications of this. 2. Do impact calc. These debates often get messy, so being simple and formulaic is to your benefit.
-If judge kick is not brought up in the debate, I will kick the CP for you if it has been clearly designated as conditional/dispositional. Otherwise, I will evaluate the arguments for/against judge kick presented in the debate. If the counterplan has not been clearly designated as conditional I will not kick it.
-If neither team forwards a "middle ground" fw interpretation, like "weigh the advantage but also weigh reps links," I will not intervene and make one for you. I will only decide between the fw interpretations forwarded by either side, but a team can make arguments that modifying its fw interpretation in later speeches to attempt to take the "middle of the road" and capture the other team's offense.
-I am uncomfortable adjudicating anything other than the debating that took place within the round I am assigned. If there is harassment within the round, I hold the appropriate course of action to be stopping the debate and going to tab, where I am happy to argue that the team doing the harassment should be expelled from the tournament and talk to the team's coaches about the debaters facing repercussions. If there is harassment outside the round, talk to me and/or send me an email and we can go to tab and/or try to determine an appropriate course of action.
-I think debate is no fun when everyone is up-tight and being a little fun and/or silly is a good thing. However, this should never come at the expense of debating well.
-I am probably a better judge for arguments like death good than the rest of this paradigm may make it seem.
-If you feel unsafe during a round for any reason, send me an email.
-I am still paying attention even I am staring off into the distance, especially if I am flowing on my computer.
-If you have committed SA don't pref me.
Disclaimer #1: I am a mandatory reporter under Georgia law. If you disclose a real-world risk to your safety, or if I believe there is an imminent threat to your well-being, I will stop the debate and contact the Tabroom. Arguments that talk generally about how to engage systems of power in the debate space are more than okay and do not violate this.
Disclaimer #2: I am partially deaf in my left ear. While this has zero impact on my ability to flow in 99.9% of debates, exceptionally bad acoustics may force me to be closer than usual during speeches.
--- Lincoln-Douglas: 3 Years (Local / National Circuit)
--- Policy Debate: 4 Years of College Policy Debate (Georgia State University)
-- 2015 NDT Qualifier
-- Coached By: Joe Bellon, Nick Sciullo, Erik Mathis
-- Argument Style: Kritik (Freshman / Sophomore Year) & Policy (Junior / Senior Year)
-- Caselist Link (I Was A 2N My Senior Year): https://opencaselist.com/ndtceda14/GeorgiaState/StNa/Neg
--- Lincoln-Douglas: 4 Years (Local / National Circuit)
--- Policy Debate
-- University of Georgia - Graduate Assistant (3 Years)
-- Atlanta Urban Debate League (3 Years)
-- The Galloway School - Head Coach (2 Years)
Preferences - General
Debate is a game; my strongest belief is that debaters should be able to play the game however they want to play it. I remain committed to Tabula Rasa judging, and have yet to see an argument (claim/ warrant) I would not pull the trigger on. The only exception to this is if I could not coherently explain to the other team the warrant for the argument I'm voting on. Unless told otherwise, I will flow the debate, and vote, based on the line-by-line, for whomever I thought won the debate.
What follows are my general thoughts about arguments, because for some reason that's what counts as a "judging paradigm" these days. Everything that follows WILL be overridden by arguments made in the debate.
Evidence is important, but not more than the in-round debating. Substantial deference will be given to in-debate spin. Bad evidence with spin will generally be given more weight than good evidence without.
No strong predispositions. Run theory if that's your thing, there's actual abuse, or it's the most strategic way out of the round. I have no default conception of how theory functions; it could be an issue of competing interpretations, an issue of reasonability, an RVI, or a tool of the patriarchy. Given my LD background, I likely have a much lower threshold for pulling the trigger than other judges. Defaults such as X is never a reason to reject the team, RVIs bad, and a general disregard of Spec arguments aren't hardwired into me like the majority of the judging pool.
If you're going for theory, easiest thing you can do to win my ballot is to slow down and give an overview that sets up a clear way for me to evaluate the line-by-line.
Read 'em. While I'm personally a big fan of process CPs/ PICs, I generally default to letting the literature determine CP competition/ legitimacy. If you have a kickass solvency advocate, then I will probably lean your way on most theoretical issues. On the other hand, as a former 2A, I sympathize with 2AC theory against CPs against which it is almost impossible to generate solvency deficits. 2ACs should not be afraid to bow up on CP theory in the 1AR.
Specific DAs/ links trump generic DAs/ links absent substantial Negative spin. Love DAs with odd impact scenarios/ nuanced link stories.
I functionally never read this as a debater, but my time coaching at UGA has brought me up to speed. Slow down/ clearly flag key points/ evidence distinctions in the 2NR/ 2AR.
Read it. Strategic tool that most 2Ns underutilize. Rarely hear a nuanced argument for reasonability; the T violation seems to prove the 1AC is unreasonable...
I do not personally agree with the majority of Kritiks. However, after years of graduate school and debate, I've read large amount of Kritikal literature, and, if you run the K well, I'm a good judge for you. Increasingly irritated with 2ACs that fail to engage the nuance of the K they're answering (Cede the Political/ Perm: Double-Bind isn't enough to get you through a competently extended K debate). Similarly irritated with 2NCs that debate the K like a politics DA. Finally, 2ACs are too afraid to bow up on the K, especially with Impact Turns. I often end up voting Negative on the Kritik because the 2AC got sucked down the rabbit hole and didn't remind there was real-world outside of the philosophical interpretation offered by the K.
I am generally unpersuaded by theoretical offense in a Policy AFF v. Kritik debate. You're better off reading this as policymaking good/ pragmatism offense to defend the method of the AFF versus the alternative. Generally skeptical of 2ACs that claim the K isn't within my jurisdiction/ is super unfair.
Often end up voting Negative because the Affirmative strategically mishandles the FW of the K. Generally skeptical of K FW's that make the plan/ the real-world disappear entirely.
Preferences - "Clash" Debates
Clash of Civilization Debates:
Enjoy these debates; I will probably judge alot of them. The worst thing you can do is overadapt. DEBATE HOWEVER YOU WANT TO DEBATE. My favorite debate that I ever watched was UMW versus Oklahoma, where UMW read a giant Hegemony advantage versus Oklahoma's 1-off Wilderson. I've been on both sides of the clash debate, and I respect both sides. I will just as easily vote on Framework as use my ballot to resist anti-blackness in debate.
Traditional ("Policy" Teams):
DO YOU. Traditional teams should not be afraid to double-down against K 1ACs,/ Big K 1NCs either via Framework or Impact Turns.
Framework (As "T"):
Never read this as a debater, but I've become more sympathetic to arguments about how the the resolution as a starting point is an important procedural constraint that can capture some of the pedagogical value of a Kritikal discussion. As a former 2N, I am sympathetic to limits arguments given the seemingly endless proliferation of K 1ACs with a dubious relationship to the topic. Explain how your interpretation is an opportunity cost of the 1ACs approach, and how you solve the 2ACs substantive offense (i.e. critical pedagogy/ our performance is important, etc.).
Non-Traditional ("Performance"/ "K" Teams):
As someone who spent a semester reading a narrative project about welcoming veterans into debate, I'm familiar with the way these arguments function, and I feel that they're an integral part of the game we call debate. However, that does not mean I will vote for you because you critiqued X-ism; what is your method, and how does it resolve the harms you have isolated? I am greatly frustrated by Kritik Teams that rely on obfuscation as a strategic tool---- even the Situationist International cared deeply about the political implications of their project.
The closer you are to the topic/ the clearer your Affirmative is in what it defends, the more I'm down with the Affirmative. While I generally think that alternative approaches to debate are important discussions to be had, if I can listen to the 1AC and have no idea what the Affirmative does, what it defends, or why it's a response to the Topic beyond nebulous claims of resisting X-ism, then you're in a bad spot. Explain how your Counter-Interp solves their theoretical offense, or why your permutation doesn't link to their limits/ ground standards.
Are important. I am generally confused by teams that claim to impact turn fairness/ education. Your arguments are better articulated as INL-turns (i.e. X-ism/ debate practice is structurally unfair). Debate at some level is a game, and you should explain how your version of the game allows for good discussion/ an equal playing field for all.
Misc. - Ethics Violations
After being forced to decide an elimination debate on a card-clipping accusation during the 2015 Barkley Forum (Emory), I felt it necessary to establish clarity/ forewarning for how I will proceed if this unfortunate circumstance happens again. While I would obviously prefer to decide the debate on actual substantive questions, this is the one issue where I will intervene. In the event of an ethics accusation, I will do the following:
1) Stop the debate. I will give the accusing team a chance to withdraw the accusation or proceed. If the accusation stands, I will decide the debate on the validity of the accusation.
2) Consult the Tabroom to determine any specific tournament policies/ procedures that apply to the situation and need to be followed.
3) Review available evidence to decide whether or not an ethics violation has taken place. In the event of a clipping accusation, a recording or video of the debate would be exceptionally helpful. I am a personal believer in a person being innocent until proven guilty. Unless there's definitive evidence proving otherwise, I will presume in favor of the accused debater.
4) Drop the Debater. If an ethics violation has taken place, I will drop the offending team, and award zero speaker points. If an ethics violation has not occurred, I will drop the team that originally made the accusation. The purpose of this is to prevent frivolous/ strategic accusations, given the very real-world, long-lasting impact such an accusation has on the team being accused.
5) Ethics Violations (Update): Credible, actual threats of violence against the actual people in the actual debate are unacceptable, as are acts of violence against others. I will drop you with zero speaker points if either of those occur. Litmus Test: There's a difference between wipeout/ global suicide alternatives (i.e. post-fiat arguments) and actually punching a debater in the face (i.e. real-world violence).
Director of Debate for The Altamont School. Former college and high school policy debater.
EMAIL CHAIN: email@example.com
Open to most arguments and styles. The default for my ballot is that it goes to the team that did the best debating, and I look to the debaters to assist with a metric for how to answer that question. My judging process is usually pretty simple:
- What framework am I using to evaluate the arguments (content and form)?
- What impacts are reasonably in the game and to what degree does each team gain access from solvency or turns?
- What outweighs?
-Speed: 7.5/10. Debate is a communication-based activity. Sending speech docs is not a substitute for being intelligible; you still have the burden of communicating what you’re reading. It's in your best interest to go slower in a T/theory debate if you want me to get follow the intricacies of the line-by-line.
-Disclosure/Wiki: I believe in disclosure and the wiki, but I am not a fan of many of the theory violations that proliferate (unless specified in tournament rules). I do not believe posting interps on the wiki changes anything. You're still welcome to go for all of the above.
-Ev Sharing: This is not just because "someone is spreading." Ev sharing should be a norm so that this activity which is all about engaging evidence can do the best job possible. Following the success of Policy since Verbatim boom in 2007 on this issue, email chains should be set up before the round starts with speech docs sent right before their speech. However, I'm not going to get live about it unless ongoing sharing method is clearly not working. Only the person speaking next needs to immediately send doc; next speaker should be given the opportunity to make decisions about what they're going to say.
-K: This is where I spent most of my time as a debater, but that doesn't mean I know your specific lit. I believe if the K has a framework that demands I don't evaluate Aff impacts and the Aff loses framework.... then they don't get to weigh the Aff. Saying "we get to weigh the aff because we get to weigh the aff" is not inherently persuasive given the presence of offense against that stance. The Aff must win framework or in-roads to weigh the Aff. If that's primarily justified by fairness then fairness needs to be impacted out over Neg's justification to exclude.
-Teams may read or perform whatever arguments they want regardless of circuit or opponent. The burden is on the opponent to generate offense as to why it shouldn't happen. While might knee-jerk this as a callous disposition, but any other approach is rooted in judge intervention and legislating an interpretation as to what counts as legitimate, which is seeping with bias. If the opponent requests the other team does not ________ (read "progressive" arguments, spread, etc.), the team always has the choice as to whether to respect it. Conversely, the opponent is given a stronger link on any theory argument as to why the team's practices were bad.
PUBLIC FORUM - SUBSTANCE
-I reward specificity and nuance of arguments (ex: specific democracies backsliding vs general democratic backsliding; counter specific proliferation vs generic prolif bad)
-I am not part of the cult of numbers. 25,000 people suffering from gingivitis does not inherently outweigh an unquantified risk of nuclear war because you have a number. Numbers help contextualize impacts and risk pathways, but it is not game over because a team has expert analysis that doesn't have explicit quantification.
-No new args in Final Focus
PUBLIC FORUM -- EVIDENCE
Evidence practices in public forum are atroious. Judging is in-part complicit. Here is how I go into the round thinking about evidence norms:
I default to tournament rules first, and then enforce the NSDA established protocols in the official Unified Manual (specifically pages 29-33) for what’s required in debates in terms of having cards ready for opponents and judges with proper citation. This is not a “personal choice,” even if other judges choose not to enforce it.
I am very willing to vote on evidence theory; good theory debating will have a clear interpretation (the NSDA unifed manual makes this easy), the violation, and the reason why your interpretation is preferable ("it's in the rules, judge" is sufficient, but higher speaker points for identifying educational standards for why we need your interp's evidence practices). But if you're going to do it you need to be ready to stake and stop the round on it.
The other team is entitled to any and all evidence you claim to read in a speech immediately. Yes, all, and preferably in order. If you can stake a debate on any piece of evidence you just read it is unreasonable to say that you don't have to send everything cited, especially since they can't predict what you might blow up yet. Don't hold up the round searching.
Paraphrasing: The NSDA stance is clear and codified in the Unified Manual and explained in Pilot Rules 2019-20. Paraphrasing is acceptable, but you still have to have evidence paraphrased available in card format for in-round engagement and judge decision making. In other words, It is not enough to develop consensus that paraphrasing is unfair or educational -- it must have a substantive defense of rejecting rules from the same document that sets up agreed upon speech times, topic commitment, etc. for me to even consider it a ballot issue.
-I come into LD from policy, so you can run traditional case structure or multiple off-case positions that test the Aff. While I'm familiar with K's, CP's, PICs, plan-focus debates, K Affs that don't defend the res/a plan, T, Theory, I'm less familiar with some of the other arguments a priori, NIB, trick, etc. args that troll LD. The burden remains with the debater to make it into a lucid argument I can grasp and understand as offense. I can't explain what a NIB is, but you're welcome to try to explain it to me in a way that is conducive to me re-explaining it in an RFD.
-Good value framework debate presents clear offense as to why yours is the preferable model and helps you win the impact calculation debate, not just descriptions of what a moral systems looks like. No need to get lost in the sauce either. Yes, you have to have it to weigh impacts, but sometimes LDers are guilty of reading value framing that they think is "neat philosophy," but doesn't serve much purpose offensively.
-It is a hard sell to say 1AR doesn't get theory. The 1AC should not have disinvest time to theoretically preempt all potential neg strats, methods, etc.
Terrell Tayloradd me to doc chains: terrell taylor at gmail dot com. No punctuation, no space, no frills.
Debated at Mary Washington from 2007-2011
Debate is an intellectual activity where two positions are weighed against each other. A part of this is making clear what your position is (plan, cp, alt, advocacy, status quo etc.) and how it measures up against the other team’s position. Arguments consist of a claim (the point you want to make), warrant (a reason to believe it), and an impact (reason why it matters/way it functions within the debate). Evidence is useful when trying to provide warrants, but is ultimately not necessary for me to evaluate an argument. Debates get competitive and heated, but staying polite and friendly and remembering that the name of the game is fun at the end of the day makes for a more enjoyable experience for everyone involved.
Disads/Case and Advantages
These arguments should be stressed in terms of a coherent story of what the world looks like in terms of the status quo, affirmative plan or alternative option. These positions should be attacked from a variety points including the link and internal link chain, impact and uniqueness level. When it comes to link turning, my default thought is that uniqueness determines the direction; if you have an alternative understanding that is particular to a scenario, be sure to explain why it is that the direction of the link should be emphasized or what have you. Impacts should be compared not only in terms of timeframe, probability and magnitude, but in terms of how these issues interact in a world where both impact scenarios take places (the popular "even if.." phrase comes to mind here). Also, keep in mind that I have not kept up with the trends in disads and such within the topic, so explaining specifics, acronyms and otherwise is useful for me. I prefer hearing case specific scenarios as opposed to generic politics and similar positions. This does not mean I will not vote for it or will dock your speaker points, just a preference.
Counterplans and Counterplan Theory
Counterplans should be functionally competitive; textual competition doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me (see later section on theory). I think that perms can be advocated, but am more than willing to hear reasons why they shouldn’t be and why that is a bad way to frame debates. When it comes to agent counterplans, I tend to think that topic specific education should trump generic presidential powers or judicial independence debates. Consult and condition cps just make the logician inside my head painfully confused (not sure why a reason to talk to X country is also a reason why the plan is bad). International fiat is suspect to me, and I tend to think that limiting the discussion to US policy (including its international relevance) is a good thing.
All of this being said, I am open to voting for any of the above arguments. These are merely my general theoretical leanings, and I will certainly flow, listen to, and evaluate arguments from the other side.
I haven’t seen many debates on this topic, so if a debate comes down to T, don’t be surprised if you see me googling to find the resolution to check the words. In general I think Topicality is important for two reasons. One is the general reason that most people think it’s good, being that we need to be prepared/have set limits and parameters for debate. The second is that I think each year presents an opportunity to gain in depth education on an issue, even if it's not a policy perspective of that issue. I feel that competing interpretations is generally the default for T, but I am open to defenses of reasonability and in fact, think that there are cases where this is the best means of evaluation. Standards should be impacted in terms of education and fairness, and the debate should come down to the best internal links between the standards and these terminal values. If you are the type to critique T, your critique needs to come down to these terms (education and fairness). RVIs don’t make sense to me. If you want to take the challenge of trying to make one make sense, be my guest, but it’s an uphill battle.
As mentioned, I am not wedded to any particular frame or “rulebook” for debate. Part of the beauty of debate to me is that debaters get to be both the players and referee. As such, I enjoy theory and think that such discussions can be fruitful. The flipside to this is that most theory debates devolve into tagline debating, shallow and repetitive arguments, and a race to see who can spit their block the fastest. These debates are 1) hard to flow and 2) not really a test or display of your ability so much as a test of your team’s theory block writer. I reward argumentation that is clear, comprehensible and complete in terms of theory debates, and urge debaters to these opportunities seriously.
I’ve laid out most of my theoretical dispositions in the counterplan section. Conditionality to me is like siracha sauce: a little bit heats up the debate, too much ruins it. I don’t know why three or four counterplans or alternatives along with the status quo is key to negative flex or good debating (one is good, two is ok). Also, if you want to use a status other than conditional or unconditional, (like the imaginary “dispo”) you should be ready to explain what that means. Again, I think that it is okay to advocate permutations as positions in the debate.
In terms of alternate frameworks for the debate (i.e. anything other than policy making) I’m honest when I say I’m not extraordinarily experienced in these areas as I’d like to be. I’ve seen a decent few of these debates and think that they provide some nuance to an otherwise stale activity. That being said (and this is true for all theory positions) you should try and weigh the educational and competitive equity benefits of your position versus the other teams proposed framework the debate. I debated for a squad that saw framework as a strategic and straightforward approach to most alternative forms of debate, so those arguments make sense to me. On the other hand, especially when it comes to arguments concerning structural issues in society/debate, if argued well, and with relevance to the topic in some way, I am willing to listen and evaluate.
Critical arguments (Kritiks/K-affs)
Much of what I just said applies here as well. I had the most success/felt most comfortable debating with these types of arguments as a debater (I did, however, spend most of my career debating with “straight-up” affs and disads that claimed nuclear war advantages). I studied English and Philosophy in undergrad and am pursuing a MA in English with a focus on critical theory, so there’s a decent chance that my interests and background might lean more towards a topic oriented critique than a politics Da.
I will avoid following the trend of listing the genres of critiques and critical literature with which I am familiar with the belief that it shouldn't matter. Running critiques shouldn't be about maintaining a secret club of people who "get it" (which often in debates, is construed to be a club consisting of the critique friendly judge and the team running the argument, often excluding the other team for not being "savy"). In other words, Whether I've read a great deal of the authors in your critique or not, should not give you the green light to skimp on the explanation and analysis of the critique. These debates are often about making the connections between what the authors and literature are saying and the position of the other team, and hence put a great burden on the debater to elucidate those connections. A shared appreciation or research interest between a team and a judge does not absolve you of that burden, in my opinion.
I agree with many recent top tier collegiate debaters (Kevin Kallmyer, Gabe Murillo, etc.) that the difference between policy and critical arguments is overstated. An important piece of reading critical arguments with me in the back of the room is explaining what your arguments mean within the context of the aff/da. If you read a no value to life impact, what about the affs framing makes it so that the people involved see their lives differently; if the critiqued impact is a merely constructed threat, reveal to me the holes in the construction and explain how the construction came to be. Doing that level of analysis (with any argument, critical or policy) is crucial in terms of weighing and relating your arguments to the other teams, and engaging in a form of education that is actually worthwhile. This probably entails removing your hypergeneric topic link and replacing with analysis as to the links that are within the evidence (and therefore, the assumptions, rhetoric, methodology, so and so forth) of your opponents. In terms of vague alts and framework, I have mixed feelings. The utopian fiat involved in most alts is probably abusive, but there is something to be said for making the claim that these arguments are vital to thorough education. On the framework question, gateway issue is probably a poor way to go. I don’t understand why the fact that your K has an impact means that you get to suck up the entire debate on this one issue. Instead, a framing that opens the door to multiple ways of critiquing and evaluating arguments (both on the aff and the neg, or in other words, doesn’t hold the aff as a punching bag) is preferable.
I didn’t do a whole lot of handling with this genre of argument, but have debated semi-frequently and enjoy the critical aspects of these arguments. I think that there is a difference between the type of critical debater that reads a couple of disads along with a K and case args, and a team that reads a indictment of the topic or reads narratives for nine minutes. If you read a poem, sing, recite a story or anything of that nature, I will be more interested in observing your performance than trying to flow or dictate it on my flow (my reasoning for this is that, unlike a speech organized for the purpose of tracking argument development and responses, I don't think flowing a poem or song really generates an understanding of the performance). More importantly, framing should be a priority; give me a reason why I should look at the debate through a certain lens, and explain why given that framing you have done something either worth affirming your advocacy. I think that these types of debates, especially if related to the topic, can be fruitful and worthwhile. Performance affirmatives should try to find some in road to the topic. If your argument is pervasive and deep enough to talk about, I generally think it probably has a systemic implication for the resolution in some way, even if that doesn’t manifest as a topical plan or even agreeing with the resolution.
For teams going against performance strategies, Framework based arguments are options in front of me. A good way to frame this argument is in terms of what is the best method to produce debates that create the most useful form of education, as opposed to just reading it like a procedural argument. I do think it is important to engage the substantive portion of their arguments as well, (there are always multiple dimensions to arguments of these forms) even if it happens to be a critical objection to their performance or method. Many policy based strategies often want to avoid having to engage with the details involved, and in doing so often fail to rigorously challenge the arguments made in the debate.
Good luck, and have fun. I spent a great deal of my debate career stressing out and losing sleep, instead of experiencing the challenge and fun of the activity; Enjoy your time in the activity above everything else.
-Director of Debate at Little Rock Central High School
-Yes, email chain and sure, questions. Please put BOTH of these on chains: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
Virtual Debate Updates:
I am almost always using two computers so I can watch you speak and flow/look at docs. I would prefer that you debate with your camera on so that I can watch you speak, but PLEASE do feel free to turn it off if doing so stabilizes your audio.
Do NOT start at top speed. You should start a little slower anyway to allow judges to get acclimated to your speaking style, but I think this is especially important in virtual debate.
Do I understand why you don't want to flash theory/overviews/analytics? Of course. Do you have to do it? No. Will I be mad at you if you don't? Of course not. Would it help me flow better in many virtual debates? YES.
Do what you do and do it well. I will vote for who wins. Over-adaptation is exhausting and I can smell your soft-left add-ons a mile away. My voting record is a pretty clear indication that I judge a wide variety of debates. Who/what I coach(ed) are generally good indications of what I am about. Update: I've found myself recently in some seven off rounds. I really hate to say I am bad for any kind of debate, but I am bad for these rounds. Late-breaking debates make me tired and grumpy, and I find myself having to do way too much work in these debates to resolve them. If seven off is your thing, and I am your judge, do what you do I guess, but know this is probably the only explicit "don't pref me" in this whole paradigm.
I care a lot about quality of evidence. I would much rather hear you read a few well-warranted cards than a wave of under-highlighted evidence. Same goes for redundant evidence; if you need six cards that “prove” your claim with the same words interchanged in the tag, your claim is probably pretty weak. Evidence does not (alone) a (winning) argument make.
I think I flow pretty throughly. I often flow in direct quotes. I do this for me, but I feel like it helps teams understand my decision as we talk after a round. I reward organized speakers and meaningful overviews. I am easily frustrated by a messy card doc.
I listen closely to cross-ex.
Neg teams lose when they don’t demonstrate how their arguments interact with the 1AC. Winning that the affirmative is “flawed” or “problematic” does not guarantee a neg ballot. In my mind, there are two ways to win the k versus a policy aff: either win that the effects of the plan make the world significantly worse OR win framework and go for epistemology/ontology links. Know when framework is important and when it’s not. Give analysis as to how your links implicate the world of the aff. This is where case mitigation and offense on why voting affirmative is undesirable is helpful. These debates are significantly lacking in impact calculus. Also - the alt needs to solve the links, not the aff - but if it does, great! If you win framework, this burden is lessened. Don’t spread through link explanations. I am seeing more debates where teams kick the alt and go for the links as disads to the aff. This is fine, but be wary of this strategy when the alt is what provides uniqueness to the link debate.
Conversely, affs typically lose these debates when there is little press on what the alternative does and little analysis of perm functions. However, some teams focus on the alt too much and leave much to be desired on the link debate (especially important for soft-left affs). Defend your reps. Your framework shell should also include a robust defense of policymaking, not just procedural fairness. The 1AR should actually answer the block’s framework answers. More impact turning rather than defensive, no-link arguments.
Also, running to the middle will not save you. Some Ks are going to get a link no matter what, and tacking on a structural impact to your otherwise straight policy aff will likely only supercharge the link. So. Read the aff you'd read in front of anybody in front of me. You're probably better at that version anyway.
K Affs vs. FW
For affs: I’m good for these although I do think that oftentimes the method is very poorly explained. Neg teams should really press on this and even consider going for presumption. Side note: I absolutely do not think that critical affs should have to win that the ballot is key for their method. Against framework, I most frequently vote aff when the aff wins impact turns that outweigh the neg’s impacts and have a counter-interp that resolves the majority of their offense. I can still vote for you if you don’t have a counter-interp in the 2AR but only if the impact work is exceptional. I prefer affs that argue that the skills and methods produced under their model inculcate more ethical subjectivities than the negative’s. The best aff teams I’ve seen are good at contextualizing their arguments, framing, and justifying why their model and not their aff is uniquely good. I am most frequently preffed for K v K debates. Judge instruction is extremely important I would rather evaluate those rounds based on whose method is most relevant to the debate rather than k tricks.
For neg teams: I like to see framework deployed as debate methodologies that are normatively good versus debate methodologies that are undesirable and should be rejected. Framework debates should center on the impact of certain methodologies on the debate space. “Your argument doesn’t belong in debate” is not the same thing as “your argument is hindered by forum” or “your argument makes it functionally impossible to be negative.” (fun fact: I read a lot of judges' paradigms/preferences..."debate is a game" does not = debate is a good game, and participation in that "game" does not = can't say the game is bad). I prefer more deliberation & skills-based framework arguments rather than procedural fairness, but I will vote on either as long as you have warrants and comparative impact analysis. If going for skills & research impacts, the internal link debate is most important. TVAs are great as defense against the aff’s impact turns. They do not have to solve the aff but should address its central controversy.
I feel similarly about theory debates in that they should focus on good/undesirable pedagogical practices. Arguments that explain the role of the ballot should not be self-serving and completely inaccessible by a particular team.
Topicality is a voting issue and never a reverse voting issue. T debates are won and lost on the standards level. If the affirmative wins that their interpretation solves the impact of topicality, then I see no reason to vote negative. Thorough T debates are about more than fairness. The idea that you have no game on an aff in this era is just not as persuasive as the idea that the aff’s interpretation negatively impacts future debates.
No real issues here. Specific links to case obviously preferred to generic arguments. Give me good impact analysis. As a debater, counterplans weren’t really my jam. As a judge, I can’t say that I get to vote on CPs often because they are typically kicked or are not competitive enough to survive an affirmative team well-versed in permutations. A CP should be something to which I can give thoughtful consideration. Don’t blow through a really complicated (or long) CP text. Likewise, if the permutation(s) is intricate, slow down. Pretty sure you want me to get these arguments down as you read them, not as I reconstruct them in cross. I vote for theory as much as I don’t vote for theory. No real theoretical dispositions.
1. I’m not going to bump your speaks for thanking me and taking forever to start the round because you’re asking “opponent ready? judge ready? partner ready? observers ready?” for the first 20 minutes.
2. If you do not take notes during my RFD, I will leave.
3. Don’t clip. Why do debaters in Arkansas clip so much? Answer: Because I don’t judge very much in Arkansas.
4. Keep your own time.
Name : Lauren Velazquez
Affiliated School: Niles North
I debated competitively in high school in the 1990s for Maine East. I participated on the national circuit where counterplans and theory were common.
Director of Debate at Niles North
I competed in the 90s, helped around for a few years, took a bit of a break, have been back for about 7 years. My teams compete on the national circuit, I help heavily with my teams’ strategies, and am a lab leader at a University of Michigan. In recent years I have helped coach teams that cleared at the TOC, won state titles and consistently debated in late elim rounds at national tournaments. TL/DR--I am familiar with national circuit debate but I do not closely follow college debate so do not assume that I am attuned to the arguments that are currently cutting edge/new.
What this means for you---I lean tech over truth when it comes to execution, but truth controls the direction of tech, and some debate meta-arguments matter a lot less to me.
I am not ideological towards most arguments, I believe debate structurally is a game, but there are benefits to debate outside of it being just a game, give it your best shot and I will try my best to adapt to you.
The only caveat is do not read any arguments that you think would be inappropriate for me to teach in my classroom, if you are worried it might be inappropriate, you should stop yourself right there.
DISADS AND ADVANTAGES
When deciding to vote on disadvantages and affirmative advantages, I look for a combination of good story telling and evidence analysis. Strong teams are teams that frame impact calculations for me in their rebuttals (e.g. how do I decide between preventing a war or promoting human rights?). I should hear from teams how their internal links work and how their evidence and analysis refute indictments from their opponents. Affirmatives should have offense against disads (and Negs have offense against case). It is rare, in my mind, for a solvency argument or "non unique" argument to do enough damage to make the case/disad go away completely, at best, relying only on defensive arguments will diminish impacts and risks, but t is up to the teams to conduct a risk analysis telling me how to weigh risk of one scenario versus another.
I will vote on topicality if it is given time (more than 15 seconds in the 2NR) in the debate and the negative team is able to articulate the value of topicality as a debate “rule” and demonstrate that the affirmative has violated a clear and reasonable framework set by the negative. If the affirmative offers a counter interpretation, I will need someone to explain to me why their standards and definitions are best. Providing cases that meet your framework is always a good idea. I find the limits debate to be the crux generally of why I would vote for or against T so if you are neg you 100% should be articulating the limits implications of your interpretation.
Over the years, I have heard and voted on Kritiks, but I do offer a few honest caveats:
I read newspapers daily so I feel confident in my knowledge around global events. I do not regularly read philosopy or theory papers, there is a chance that I am unfamiliar with your argument or the underlying paradigms. I do believe that Kritik evidence is inherently dense and should be read a tad slower and have accompanying argument overviews in negative block. Impact analysis is vital. What is the role of the ballot? How do I evaluate things like discourse against policy implications (DAs etc)
Also, I’m going to need you to go a tad slower if you are busting out a new kritik, as it does take time to process philosophical writings.
If you are doing something that kritiks the overall debate round framework (like being an Aff who doesnt have a plan text), make sure you explain to me the purpose of your framework and why it is competitively fair and educationally valuable.
I am generally a fan of CPs as a neg strategy. I will vote for counterplans but I am open to theory arguments from the affirmative (PICs bad etc). Counterplans are most persuasive to me when the negative is able to clearly explain the net benifts and how (if at all) the counterplan captures affirmative solvency. For permutations to be convincing offense against CPs, Affs should explain how permutation works and what voting for perm means (does the DA go away, do I automatically vote against neg etc?)
Tag team is fine as long as you don’t start taking over cross-ex and dominating. You are part of a 2 person team for a reason.
Speed is ok as long as you are clear. If you have a ton of analytics in a row or are explaining a new/dense theory, you may want to slow down a little since processing time for flowing analytics or kritkits is a little slower than me just flowing the text of your evidence.
I listen to cross ex. I think teams come up with a lot of good arguments during this time. If you come up with an argument in cross ex-add it to the flow in your speech.
1. Offense-defense, but can be persuaded by reasonability in theory debates. I don't believe in "zero risk" or "terminal defense" and don't vote on presumption.
2. Substantive questions are resolved probabilistically--only theoretical questions (e.g. is the perm severance, does the aff meet the interp) are resolved "yes/no," and will be done so with some unease, forced upon me by the logic of debate.
3. Dropped arguments are "true," but this just means the warrants for them are true. Their implication can still be contested. The exception to this is when an argument and its implication are explicitly conceded by the other team for strategic reasons (like when kicking out of a disad). Then both are "true."
1. Conditionality bad is an uphill battle. I think it's good, and will be more convinced by the negative's arguments. I also don't think the number of advocacies really matters. Unless it was completely dropped, the winning 2AR on condo in front of me is one that explains why the way the negative's arguments were run together limited the ability of the aff to have offense on any sheet of paper.
2. I think of myself as aff-leaning in a lot of counterplan theory debates, but usually find myself giving the neg the counterplan anyway, generally because the aff fails to make the true arguments of why it was bad.
1. I don't think I evaluate these differently than anyone else, really. Perhaps the one exception is that I don't believe that the affirmative needs to "win" uniqueness for a link turn to be offense. If uniqueness really shielded a link turn that much, it would also overwhelm the link. In general, I probably give more weight to the link and less weight to uniqueness.
2. On politics, I will probably ignore "intrinsicness" or "fiat solves the link" arguments, unless badly mishandled (like dropped through two speeches). Note: this doesn't apply to riders or horsetrading or other disads that assume voting aff means voting for something beyond the aff plan. Then it's winnable.
1. I like kritiks, provided two things are true: 1--there is a link. 2--the thesis of the K indicts the truth of the aff. If the K relies on framework to make the aff irrelevant, I start to like it a lot less (role of the ballot = roll of the eyes). I'm similarly annoyed by aff framework arguments against the K. The K itself answers any argument for why policymaking is all that matters (provided there's a link). I feel negative teams should explain why the affirmative advantages rest upon the assumptions they critique, and that the aff should defend those assumptions.
2. I think I'm less technical than some judges in evaluating K debates. Something another judge might care about, like dropping "fiat is illusory," probably matters less to me (fiat is illusory specifically matters 0%). I also won't be as technical in evaluating theory on the perm as I would be in a counterplan debate (e.g. perm do both isn't severance just because the alt said "rejection" somewhere--the perm still includes the aff). The perm debate for me is really just the link turn debate. Generally, unless the aff impact turns the K, the link debate is everything.
3. If it's a critique of "fiat" and not the aff, read something else. If it's not clear from #1, I'm looking at the link first. Please--link work not framework. K debating is case debating.
1. I'm *slightly* better for the aff now that aff teams are generally impact-turning the neg's model of debate. I almost always voted neg when they instead went for talking about their aff is important and thought their counter-interp somehow solved anything. Of course, there's now only like 3-4 schools that take me and don't read a plan. So I'm spared the debates where it's done particularly poorly.
2. A lot of things can be impacts to T, but fairness is probably best.
3. It would be nice if people read K affs with plans more, but I guess there's always LD. Honestly debating politics and util isn't that hard--bad disads are easier to criticize than fairness and truth.
Versus the K:
1. If it's a team's generic K against K teams, the aff is in pretty great shape here unless they forget to perm. I've yet to see a K aff that wasn't also a critique of cap, etc. If it's an on-point critique of the aff, then that's a beautiful thing only made beautiful because it's so rare. If the neg concedes everything the aff says and argues their methodology is better and no perms, they can probably predict how that's going to go. If the aff doesn't get a perm, there's no reason the neg would have to have a link.
Topicality versus plan affs:
1. I used to enjoy these debates. It seems like I'm voting on T less often than I used to, but I also feel like I'm seeing T debated well less often. I enjoy it when the 2NC takes T and it's well-developed and it feels like a solid option out of the block. What I enjoy less is when it isn't but the 2NR goes for it as a hail mary and the whole debate occurs in the last two speeches.
2. Teams overestimate the importance of "reasonability." Winning reasonability shifts the burden to the negative--it doesn't mean that any risk of defense on means the T sheet of paper is thrown away. It generally only changes who wins in a debate where the aff's counter-interp solves for most of the neg offense but doesn't have good offense against the neg's interp. The reasonability debate does seem slightly more important on CJR given that the neg's interp often doesn't solve for much. But the aff is still better off developing offense in the 1AR.
1. I've been judging LD less, but I still have LD students, so my familarity with the topic will be greater than what is reflected in my judging history.
2. Everything in the policy section applies. This includes the part about substantive arguments being resolved probablistically, my dislike of relying on framework to preclude arguments, and not voting on defense or presumption. If this radically affects your ability to read the arguments you like to read, you know what to do.
3. If I haven't judged you or your debaters in a while, I think I vote on theory less often than I did say three years ago (and I might have already been on that side of the spectrum by LD standards, but I'm not sure). I've still never voted on an RVI so that hasn't changed.
4. The 1AR can skip the part of the speech where they "extend offense" and just start with the actual 1AR.
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Do not utter the phrase "plan text in a vacuum" or any other clever euphemism for it. It's not an argument, I won't vote on it, and you'll lose speaker points for advancing it. You should defend your plan, and I should be able to tell what the plan does by reading it.
Inserting things into the debate isn't a thing. If you want me to evaluate evidence, you should read it in the debate.
Cross-ex time is cross-ex time, not prep time. Ask questions or use your prep time, unless the tournament has an official "alt use" time rule.
You should debate line by line. That means case arguments should be responded to in the 1NC order and off case arguments should be responded to in the 2AC order. I continue to grow frustrated with teams that do not flow. If I suspect you are not flowing (I visibly see you not doing it; you answer arguments that were not made in the previous speech but were in the speech doc; you answer arguments in speech doc order instead of speech order), you will receive no higher than a 28. This includes teams that like to "group" the 2ac into sections and just read blocks in the 2NC/1NR. Also, read cards. I don't want to hear a block with no cards. This is a research activity.
Debate the round in a manner that you would like and defend it. I consistently vote for arguments that I don’t agree with and positions that I don’t necessarily think are good for debate. I have some pretty deeply held beliefs about debate, but I’m not so conceited that I think I have it all figured out. I still try to be as objective as possible in deciding rounds. All that being said, the following can be used to determine what I will most likely be persuaded by in close calls:
If I had my druthers, every 2nr would be a counterplan/disad or disad/case.
In the battle between truth and tech, I think I fall slightly on side of truth. That doesn’t mean that you can go around dropping arguments and then point out some fatal flaw in their logic in the 2AR. It does mean that some arguments are so poor as to necessitate only one response, and, as long as we are on the same page about what that argument is, it is ok if the explanation of that argument is shallow for most of the debate. True arguments aren’t always supported by evidence, but it certainly helps.
I think research is the most important aspect of debate. I make an effort to reward teams that work hard and do quality research on the topic, and arguments about preserving and improving topic specific education carry a lot of weight with me. However, it is not enough to read a wreck of good cards and tell me to read them. Teams that have actually worked hard tend to not only read quality evidence, but also execute and explain the arguments in the evidence well. I think there is an under-highlighting epidemic in debates, but I am willing to give debaters who know their evidence well enough to reference unhighlighted portions in the debate some leeway when comparing evidence after the round.
I think the affirmative should have a plan. I think the plan should be topical. I think topicality is a voting issue. I think teams that make a choice to not be topical are actively attempting to exclude the negative team from the debate (not the other way around). If you are not going to read a plan or be topical, you are more likely to persuade me that what you are doing is ‘ok’ if you at least attempt to relate to or talk about the topic. Being a close parallel (advocating something that would result in something similar to the resolution) is much better than being tangentially related or directly opposed to the resolution. I don’t think negative teams go for framework enough. Fairness is an impact, not a internal link. Procedural fairness is a thing and the only real impact to framework. If you go for "policy debate is key to skills and education," you are likely to lose. Winning that procedural fairness outweighs is not a given. You still need to defend against the other team's skills, education and exclusion arguments.
I don’t think making a permutation is ever a reason to reject the affirmative. I don’t believe the affirmative should be allowed to sever any part of the plan, but I believe the affirmative is only responsible for the mandates of the plan. Other extraneous questions, like immediacy and certainty, can be assumed only in the absence of a counterplan that manipulates the answers to those questions. I think there are limited instances when intrinsicness perms can be justified. This usually happens when the perm is technically intrinsic, but is in the same spirit as an action the CP takes This obviously has implications for whether or not I feel some counterplans are ultimately competitive.
Because I think topic literature should drive debates (see above), I feel that both plans and counterplans should have solvency advocates. There is some gray area about what constitutes a solvency advocate, but I don’t think it is an arbitrary issue. Two cards about some obscure aspect of the plan that might not be the most desirable does not a pic make. Also, it doesn’t sit well with me when negative teams manipulate the unlimited power of negative fiat to get around literature based arguments against their counterplan (i.e. – there is a healthy debate about federal uniformity vs state innovation that you should engage if you are reading the states cp). Because I see this action as comparable to an affirmative intrinsicness answer, I am more likely to give the affirmative leeway on those arguments if the negative has a counterplan that fiats out of the best responses.
My personal belief is probably slightly affirmative on many theory questions, but I don’t think I have voted affirmative on a (non-dropped) theory argument in years. Most affirmatives are awful at debating theory. Conditionality is conditionality is conditionality. If you have won that conditionality is good, there is no need make some arbitrary interpretation that what you did in the 1NC is the upper limit of what should be allowed. On a related note, I think affirmatives that make interpretations like ‘one conditional cp is ok’ have not staked out a very strategic position in the debate and have instead ceded their best offense. Appeals to reciprocity make a lot sense to me. ‘Argument, not team’ makes sense for most theory arguments that are unrelated to the disposition of a counterplan or kritik, but I can be persuaded that time investment required for an affirmative team to win theory necessitates that it be a voting issue.
Critical teams that make arguments that are grounded in and specific to the topic are more successful in front of me than those that do not. It is even better if your arguments are highly specific to the affirmative in question. I enjoy it when you paint a picture for me with stories about why the plans harms wouldn’t actually happen or why the plan wouldn’t solve. I like to see critical teams make link arguments based on claims or evidence read by the affirmative. These link arguments don’t always have to be made with evidence, but it is beneficial if you can tie the specific analytical link to an evidence based claim. I think alternative solvency is usually the weakest aspect of the kritik. Affirmatives would be well served to spend cross-x and speech time addressing this issue. ‘Our authors have degrees/work at a think tank’ is not a response to an epistemological indict of your affirmative. Intelligent, well-articulated analytic arguments are often the most persuasive answers to a kritik. 'Fiat' isn't a link. If your only links are 'you read a plan' or 'you use the state,' or if your block consistently has zero cards (or so few that find yourself regularly sending out the 2nc in the body rather than speech doc) then you shouldn't be preffing me.
LD Specific Business:
I am primarily a policy coach with very little LD experience. Have a little patience with me when it comes to LD specific jargon or arguments. It would behoove you to do a little more explanation than you would give to a seasoned adjudicator in the back of the room. I will most likely judge LD rounds in the same way I judge policy rounds. Hopefully my policy philosophy below will give you some insight into how I view debate. I have little tolerance and a high threshold for voting on unwarranted theory arguments. I'm not likely to care that they dropped your 'g' subpoint, if it wasn't very good. RVI's aren't a thing, and I won't vote on them.
Debated at Wake Forest University (2016-21) and Little Rock Central High School (2012-16)
Currently coaching for Berkeley Prep
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Please be as clear as possible. I'd rather you slow down than continue stumbling over words and making it painful for all involved.
Be relatively friendly to one another. It's annoying watching a team mock their opponents without reason.
I don't have an argument preference but I am more familiar with K/K affs. However, I was initially trained in "traditional" policy style arguments. So, say whatever just do it well and help me out with policy acronyms/jargon (especially topic specific stuff).
Lastly, it is imperative that you explain to me what voting or not voting aff/neg means. I find it frustrating when I have to construct the big picture at the end of the debate. I expect you to write my ballot for me by a) explaining what offense you are winning or going to win by the end of the speech and 2) contextualizing those arguments to the other team's.
If you have any questions about certain arguments or misc. preferences, please don't hesitate to ask!
Gmail chain (or questions): firstname.lastname@example.org
UGA '26 (Law)
Georgia Tech '23 (History and Sociology)
Woodward Academy ’20
Topic Knowledge: I judge a lot of debates (55 on NATO, 61 on Water, 93 on CJR) and am an Assistant Coach at Woodward.
Last Substantively Updated: 9/18/22
Short Version + Novices (est. 40 sec. to read)
"Debate like an adult. Show me the evidence. Attend to the details. Don't dodge, clash. Great research and informed comparisons win debates." — Bill Batterman
It’s probably not a voting issue.
Be an evidenced critic, not a cynic.
Do not request a marked copy in lieu of flowing.
I write formally, but I'm not a very serious person.
Depth of arguments should take precedence over quantity of arguments.
Tag-teaming is always "allowed" but almost always bad for speaker points.
An argument must be complete and comprehensible before there is a burden to answer it.
Write my ballot for me at the top of your late rebuttals, without using any debate jargon or hyperbole.
"Marking a card" means actually clearly marking that card on your computer (e.g. multiple Enter key pushes).
If you advocate something, at some point in the debate, you need to explain the tangible results of your advocacy without relying on any debate or philosophy jargon.
In-person: I have zero expectation for masks. Please act in accordance to your personal comfort and your opponents' comfort. If you need me to wear a mask, let me know.
There has been a significant decline in quality of speaking since online debate started because debaters became less familiar with speaking directly to the judge and because judges gave more leeway to the absence of clarity due to the computer instrument. Judges should never have to rely on reading along with the speech document in order to flow tags/analytics. If you have no intonation nor emphasis during tags/analytics/rebuttals, you are a bad speaker.
Longer Version (est. 3.5 min. to read)
I really enjoy debate. Debate is the most rewarding activity I have ever done. But debate didn't always feel rewarding while I was doing it. Accordingly, I hope that everybody prioritizes having fun, and then learning and improving. If you do things that infringe on the ability of everyone to have fun, learn, and improve, I will be sad.
Focus more on depth in argument. Against good teams—good teams being those that are very unlikely to drop entire arguments—you will be left empty-handed in your final rebuttals if you lack highly-developed arguments because you tried to proliferate shallow arguments in earlier speeches in hope of your opponent dropping something. In-depth argument is also just way more engaging.
From Johnnie Stupek's paradigm: "I encourage debaters to adopt speaking practices that make the debate easier for me to flow including: structured line-by-line, clarity when communicating plan or counterplan texts, emphasizing important lines in the body of your evidence, and descriptively labelling off-case positions in the 1NC."
Purging your speech documents of analytics and then rocking through them will be just as likely to "trick" me into not flowing an argument as it will be your opponents.
I will vote on absolute defense.
Explain; don’t confuse.
I am familiar with most critiques.
Postmodernism— Debaters often mischaracterize ornamental absolutism in philosophical writings as almost-theological dogmatisms about how the world operates. This is anti-modern, not postmodern.
I have two major thoughts about critique links that may influence how you debate —
First is about link quality. exposed to critique links that it would be generous to call “silly;” many are factually untrue or are mirror-images of the worst “no solvency” policy arguments. When negatives rely on cycling the same, bad arguments to every affirmative, they become unevidenced cynics. In contrast, I find that the debaters who go into detail about the many parts of the 1AC that exhibit the flaws that they criticize develop the most convincing critiques.
Second is about link falsifiability. I remain highly unconvinced by arguments that rely on assertions about the motives of the other team. Accusations of “bad faith” are undebatable because they are just that: accusations, not to mention that you are likely butchering your scholarship.
If you are not black (team) and present afropessimist arguments, I urge you and your coach to recognize that this style of debate is anti-educational and actively racist. The acceptance of this practice is emblematic of racial objectification and cowardice by many non-black educators in debate. I am not going to interrogate anybody's relationship to blackness, but I agree with RW Evans that the incoherency of non-black afropessimism makes it "theoretical, redundant, and objectifying." Frank Wilderson III himself claims that he "grieves over" this appropriation (“Staying Ready for Black Study: A Conversation”).
Topicality is not a reverse voting issue.
Plan texts do not exist in a vacuum.
I have no reservations against the introduction of a topicality argument; I defer to the line-by-line.
I do not accept any aff conditionality. Defend your aff and comparatively weigh offense.
Anecdotal references to college debate rounds or to debaters that took on socially negative careers do not convince me of anything.
I won't vote on theory other than Conditionality/Dispositionality Bad (and Topicality) unless a team impacts out why using the ballot as a remedy is key. Otherwise, reject an argument or give leeway elsewhere.
I am highly sympathetic to affirmative complaints about counterplans that do nearly all of the affirmative and rely on competition based on very silly definitions of words (e.g. "should means immediate and certain") without solvency evidence advocating the counterplan-as-written.
I am also sympathetic to affirmative complaints about counterplans that compete solely based off of the agent and fiat multiple auxiliary policies without solvency evidence advocating the counterplan-as-written. The communal acceptance of this style of counterplan, with the States-multi-plank CP in mind, stagnates negative topic innovation and ends nearly all debate over topical policy. Ever hear about the Education Topic? I also find it questionable if the judge should choose between two different actors doing the same policy when no policymaker could be in a position to make that decision.
If you sign-post and refuse to answer hidden theory arguments, I will remove them from my flow and grant you speaker points.
I am a degrowth and climate change hack. T: Substantial against an (actually) unsubstantial aff is fun.
I am a utilitarian. However, I see categorical imperatives as having significant utilitarian value, and I think I am much more skeptical of "extinction first" than most judges. I find Bostrom-esque calculations of extinction to be incoherent.
Timeframe often needs more impacting. Why does an event happening ten years from now make it less important than the same event happening now? Is it because there is a chance of intervening factors preventing the future impact (probability)? Is it because timing determines the ability of one impact to cause another?, etc.
With respect to Catastrophe Good arguments, "kill nearly everyone on Earth to destroy a particle accelerator that will consume the universe" is less convincing to me than a nihilism or misanthropy argument. I value accurate science.
I’m fine with post-rounding. Except, nearly every time I have witnessed post-rounding, it has been mostly whining and meanness. If you don’t have the maturity to do it, please don’t. Purposefully trying to fluster the judge will not give you quality answers.
In the instance that a team accuses the other of clipping, I will follow the NDCA clipping guidelines (2).
I would consider voting against a team for anything that is academically dishonest.
https://the3nr.com/2016/04/15/an-updated-speaker-point-scale-based-on-2015-2016-results/ (I inflate this).