2023 University of Minnesota College Invitational
2023 — MN/US
NDT Judges Paradigm ListAll Paradigms: Show Hide
Cherish this moment. Being at a university with the resources to send you across the country to represent them in intellectual combat forwarding whatever arguments you wish against some of the most talented debaters in the world backed by an incredible braintrust of coaches, in front of a critic that you preferred is an immense privilege and a societal rarity. In a world that thrives on hot takes over listening and polarizarion over pragmatism, debaters need to understand your power, hone your craft, and value others. We lose brilliant, debate minds too often. Others globally perish in silence, pain, disasters and darkness. Thank your parents/guardians, your administrators, your coaches, but most of all your OPPONENTS. None of us would be here without others to debate so respect them whether your perfect strat features a Politics DA & a CP or impassioned narratives set to Janelle's dulcet tones.
General Approach: Add me to the chain when I arrive (stopped including my email here when rando students started asking how to get into NYU and rando folks pushing agendas), Start the rd when the neg has the 1AC up once you confirm all parties are ready. NYU's network is slow so I won't look at speech docs until after the rd. Still thinkis it worsens udges' flows to be reliant on the doc. Still flowing on paper. Be organized, Be ready. Shorter, decision time limits mandate better time management on your part as well. Be considerate.
Making My Decision: Good debaters work extremely hard so I will make every effort to be very thoughtful and conscientious as your judge. Whatever decision allows me to inject myself the least into the interpretations of issues in the round is the one I will attempt to make. Compare positions, ev and tell a story in your last rebuttal that frames the round the way you wish me to decide it. I’ll vote where you tell me if it's coherent. If you have multiple stories, prioritize them. Don't rely on my post-round reconstruction. If you only spend 10 seconds on a key point in your last rebuttal, don't expect me to spend much more than that evaluating it in my decision. Most rounds come down to impact assessment and warrant comparisons. Card docs are sometimes helpful in open. Less so in jv. An author’s name is not an argument. Don’t confuse the two. Provide warrants for why your ev is better than theirs. Recuts of opponents' ev need to be read in round not just inserted into the doc to be assessed on my flow.Ethics challenges are ALWAYS a voting issue.
Topic Specifics Back in my UN NGO days, I spent 4 years working with Rev Vernon Nichols at the UU-UNO when he chaired the NGO Committee on Disarmament learning about prolif, movements and miscalc from that community's vantage point. As far as the 2023-24 topic, I read lots of agency reports, activist lit, and think tank pieces. Not sure if that will help or hurt you in front of me but a couple of takeaways might: a) The nuclear policy lit has inconsistent vernacular & acronyms across mlitary branches, gov't agencies, let alone different nations, Context is king b) deterrence theory is not monolothic. MAD looks quite different than it did in the 60s & 70s. c) the number and atatus of arms control agreements directly impacts the perceptions of not only the signatories but also the framing of the nuclear landscape writ large.
Tech vs. Truth Tech over truth is an inflection point not a value system. My voting record reflects a tech leaning apparently but that's more reflective of how truth is framed in the 2AR vs. my role to protect the neg. The rewarding of my ballot comes down to neither predlictection Application of either really comes down to the skills and execution of the particular debaters.
The Aff: Do what you want in terms of policy, K or performance. I'm game. Set up how to evaluate your approach to affirmation prior to the 2AR so there is some level of predictability and discussion for the neg. There need to be advantages to that approach (i.e. EXTERNAL -- why is it or is it not productive? or INTERNAL -- what does it communicate or provide you with in the debate space of importance?) the same as with substantive arguments. If you are performing, make sure that the role of the ballot is articulated and extended and not a 2AR surprise. You will get better points. My evaluation will come down to offense on the FWK flow based on impacts identified by the debaters unless it's one of those rare rounds where the neg has a tight, specific strat.
The Neg: Have a clever, tight strategy. Don’t whine. If you want to defend your right to a politics link or a certain interp, go for it. Presumption matters and is underutilized.
TOPICALITY/FWK: I’ll vote on T/FW if you win the relevant internal/external impacts in the debate. see aboe that you're more likely to have faith in the credibility of your definition and implicit approaches to the topic than I am so be prepared to defend them. Not a fan of: violtaions that morph in the block, crummy Counter-interps/TVAs, args that rely on someone reading/having read a different aff/neg in another round.
DISADS Fine obviously. Providing reasons why the DA turns case are always a good idea.
CPs Smart CPs always add to your strategy. If you read CPs with lots of conditional planks or more than 3 conditional advocacies in a rd, I'm not the right judge for you. Do feel free to take advantage of teams that read & react without studying your CP text carefully. Also, can a brother get some solvency ev with that CP text? Sympathetic to "1AR gets new answers" vs CPs with no 1NC solvency. Remember, this is a legal topic. Courts, executive agencies & state legislatures have different powers from Congress that impact wording, function and execution. I'll listen and weigh solvency deficits if the AFF is correct on function. I don't judge kick without specific instruction to do so.
K AFF/NEG: For teams that generate links from messed-up, in-round behaviors or focus on the debate space-No changes. If teams defend external claims and impacts, winning anti-blackness is a superstructure or capitalist gov't solutions have failed on-balance is necessary but not sufficient as it was in the past. Quality examples are more essential and more available including images of unjust black death, galvanized micro-political movements resisting capitalism, racial injustice, colonialism, and militarism in over 80 countries as well as government crackdowns plus counter-movements like expanded militia activity and events like the DC insurrection. More recently, we're encountering baby steps of corporate accountability, record increases in bias attacks, the first whole-of-government anti-oppression audit in history [including specific mention of anti-blackness] passage of 112+ voter suppression laws, and the gutting of Roe v Wade. Your arsenal needs solid answers to scalability, empirical solvency, and why gov't action will not inevitably be needed. Include good reasons why the K turns case.
Pet Peeves that lower points: 1--STOP STEALING PREP TIME -It's a nasty habit. You are taking time from my life that I will never get back. 2--MIND YOUR TECH - I have sympathy for unexpected tech issues but not poor preparation that delays the tournament & wastes everyone's time. If you're debating online: a) Check your tech between rds for charge etc. b) Have a back-up (phone, tablet, etc.) in case your laptop malfunctions mid-speech. c) Get verbal or visual confirmation everyone is back and ready before starting ALL your speeches d) don't record people without permission e) slow down 10-20% because it's hard to hear/decipher stuff online f) figure out how you two will communicate during prep whether it's discord, facetime, or by cell. 3--LIMIT OFFENSIVE LANGUAGE in your speeches. Don't have a bright line for you but if you need to ask, you're probably excessive. 4--DON'T BE SLOPPY WITH SOURCES Ex. You say “Read the Jones 10 ev after the round!” I read it and it sucks. In the post-round, it becomes “I meant to say Roberts, not Jones,” or “There were three pieces of Jones ev I meant the 1AR card.” That's a "you" problem. Effective communication good.
Put me on the email chain: email@example.com
Debated for Niles West 4 years, now debate at UTD, go for what you want, ill try to adapt.
LD exception - If an argument can be described a a 'trick', please dont read it in front of me. Likewise, if your theory argument is based on something you opponent didn't do, it is probably unpersuasive to me.
Go for what you want to go for, if you got a K aff, make sure you can beat framework, if you go for a process cp, make sure you can beat theory, etc, etc, I will try my hardest to adapt and judge the round as objectively as possible.
I love line-by-line. The more you engage with your opponent's arguments, the more likely you are to win and the higher your speaks will be.
I won't vote on things that happened out of round or in other debates.
You can insert rehighlightings of the other team's evidence, text of a card only needs to be read once for it to be evaluated.
No racism/sexism/etc, be nice. Don't do that thing where you delete tags or read new affs on paper or stuff like that to make your speech harder to read.
I've become more willing to comb through evidence over the years, but it's mostly out of curiosity since debaters seem to be getting better at spinning ev, obviously I have my limits, but the debate includes the debate over the evidence.
I think conditionality is good, it seems to be necessary in this day and age when topics are very broad. I've become more neg biased recently but maybe it's just my disillusion with one unwarranted sentence of condo bad somehow becoming an entire 2ar. Condo in general seems to have gotten significantly more shallow. There probably is some point at which condo becomes bad, but I can't truthfully see myself voting for condo bad absent some egregious neg strategy or technical error.
Since it has come up more than once, my stance on judge kick is that I will presume judge kick if nothing has been said on theory, if the aff wants to win no judge kick, then you must at least make the arg in the 1ar.
You get infinite condo against new or undisclosed affs.
I personally don't particularly like process cps, this is a sliding scale, as consult ICJ or a commission cp seems less competitive than something like a states cp on face, but it seems like people are either unwilling or unable to actually invest time in theory in the 1ar anyways, so it often doesn't matter. I think fiating multiple actors (think both USFG and the states, not the states cp, or fiating compliance with another actor whom you fiat) is probably cheating, but I can be convinced otherwise. I tend to lean neg on theory questions despite all that
I like Ks the more specific the link analysis is. I tend to think of Ks as one or multiple thesis statements that, if won, should theoretically disprove the aff. This means the more you pull warrants from cards, explain the aff in the terms of your K, etc, the more likely it is that you beat the perm since that explanation makes links a lot more salient. That's a lot more persuasive than big aff/neg framework pushes to me
FW/T vs K affs. Since this is the only portion of a paradigm that matters for most pref sheets, yes I will vote on framework, yes I will vote against it. These debates seem to come down to impact comparison, as usually it seems hard to win either topical affs are necessary to prevent the entire collapse of this activity, versus framework is genocide, which makes winning as much of your impact quite important. Fairness impact seem to make intrinsic sense to me if debate is a game, but im not sure why that is a catch-all win if the aff wins debate rounds have impacts.
On a side note, I hate long overviews. Overviews should be for args that either: a. Are significantly more important and necessary for your argument to work, or b. Don't make sense when on the line-by-line (eg, meta-framing for how I should evaluate a debate). If you can do it on the flow, do it on the flow.
Updated – 2019
Yes I want to be on the email chain --> firstname.lastname@example.org
I FLOW ON PAPER. I judge debates much more effectively / think harder about the debate / give better comments when I flow on paper. This is the only thing that I wish debaters would more effectively adapt to – give me a little pen time when you transition from card to card / arg to arg and please consider that I have to flip sheets between arguments.
I believe judges should adapt to the debaters, not the other way around. I will do my absolute best to objectively and fairly judge your debate, regardless of the arguments you choose to read. I would much prefer that you read the arguments you’re interested in / are better at debating than attempting to adapt to what you interpret as my preferences based upon what I have written here.
I find myself to be a much more “technical” judge than I once thought, and by that I mean I tend to pay a lot of attention to the way arguments evolve as the debate progresses. That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy the 2NR / 2AR spin game, but that those “spins” need to be traceable to previous speeches. In addition, I have and will vote on technical concessions SO LONG AS there is an IMPACT to that concession – debaters concede irrelevant arguments all the time, as it turns out.
I evaluate debates in segments – I think each flow has compartmentalized “mini-debates” that take place within them that I evaluate piece by piece (for example, on a critique, the “link debate” “perm debate” “alt debate”etc etc, on a disad the “uniqueness debate” “link debate” “impact debate” “impact turn debate” etc etc etc). If you label these segments clearly and follow these segments throughout the debate, I will be a great judge for you and your speaker points will reflect your organization / flow tech.
WITH THAT SAID!! I do enjoy non-traditional flow and speaking styles, so do not be afraid to pref me if you debate with a different style – I judge these debates a lot and have no problem following / figuring out what needs to be evaluated.
I’m a very expressive judge. You will know if I am feeling your argument if you pay attention to my non-verbal communication. I believe debate is a communication activity and you, as debaters, should know how I’m vibing with your arguments throughout the debate.
Note about speed: Speed is fine, but please make your card / argument transitions clear with vocal inflection. If I miss an argument, 97% of the time it’s because I didn’t hear you say “and” and I thought you were still reading evidence. Your speaker points will reflect it if you SLOW DOWN on tags and don’t just read them like another piece of evidence. IMHO, debate is still a persuasive activity, and being persuasive gets you bonus points. I will always be fan of a slower, persuasive rebuttal.
I don’t think you will have an issue reading almost any argument in front of me, but since folks seem to just read philosophies to find out how people feel about K debate and framework, I guess I’ll say some stuff.
Affirmatives: I think affirmatives should, AT THE VERY LEAST, be in the direction of the topic (but being topical is so much better). I think the best K affs have a resolutional component and have literature that is inherent to the topic. I can and have been persuaded otherwise, this is just my baseline.
Affirmatives should have a solvency method - I don't particularly care if that's an instrumental affirmation of US(fg) action or not (see FW discussion below), but you've gotta have a method that you have solvency for - I really don't like affs that state a lot of problems and argue that the revelation of those problems somehow does anything - that's not negatable. This is along the same lines of "advocacy" statements that don't take an "action" (I use the word action very carefully - I think a lot of things are actions). Statements are quite difficult to negate.
I think topicality debates need to be SLOWER than other arguments - you want me to write down more, you need to give me more time to flow. In general, I DESPISE T debates that are read entirely off blocks and read at the speed of cards. I don't think this is helpful, I don't think this creates depth, I don't think this is good for education, and I'm probably flowing like 2 words / argument tbh.
I am significantly more persuaded by topicality arguments (ie: the affirmative needs to defend international space cooperation bc that’s key to limits) than framework arguments (ie: debate is a game, the affirmative needs to defend instrumental USFG action bc them’s the rules and and it's unfair and they are cheater cheater pants).
I think negative limits arguments have the capacity to be quite persuasive if teams go for the correct internal links based upon the aff / 2ac strategy. One of the biggest mistakes I see (primarily) 2Ns make is going for the wrong limits scenario. Just like any argument, some links are stronger than others, and you don't need every link to win in the 2NR, so pick the best ones that you think tell the most compelling limits story based upon the particular affirmative. Don't forget to contextualize limits arguments to the COUNTER-INTERPRETATION not (only) the aff itself.
Topical versions of the affirmative are important, but you have to actually explain WHY they are topical versions of the aff (ie how they meet your interpretation, even better if they also meet the counter interp) and how they address the affirmative team’s offense. Ev for TVAs is preferred. I don't think you need to have a TVA to win the debate.
Things that are not persuasive to me:
“Small schools XYZ”
I’ll default to competing interpretations unless you tell me otherwise. Reasonability – how do I decide what is reasonable and by what metric do I use?
To make a link argument, YOU HAVE TO TALK ABOUT THE AFF. The aff has to have DONE SOMETHING that you have linked to an argument. I don’t think links of omission are links. If the 2NR is explicitly going for a link of omission, you’re going to have a hard time.
I don’t think criticisms always need an alternative (critique IS a VERB, after all). Make sure you explain how the "alternative" interacts with affirmative solvency / how they are different / how the alt accesses the aff (beyond just a generic root cause explanation).
I'm a sucker for K tricks - affs: don't get bamboozled.
Aff fw v ks: Often is an argument made in the 2AC that is just repeated over and over and not advanced in any meaningful way. If you think framework is important for how I evaluate the K debate, you need to do better than that.
“Role of the ballot”:
I have significant problems with ROBs. I think "role of the ballot" is an empty and meaningless phrase. The "role of the ballot" is to let tabroom know who won and lost the debate. I don't think my ballot does anything for activism / changing the structures of debate / anything at all. I tend to think most ROB claims boil down to "ROB: Vote for me" which is silly af.
Now, this is different than telling me how to evaluate the debate, how I should filter impacts, how I should prioritize arguments, or in general, how I should make my decision. You can and must do that to win the debate.
Permutations are tests of competition, and that is all. That means if you read severance / intrinsicness - those are reasons to reject the perm, not the team (unless the negative team gives me a compelling reason for why the team should be rejected, tbh, haven't heard one yet.).
There is a lot of discussion about why competition standards for advocacies / methods should change when a K aff is read – eh, I’m unconvinced this is true. My default position is that your method should compete, which means, it has to withstand the permutation test. I could, perhaps, be persuaded that the affirmative shouldn't get a perm if the negative is willing to commit the time and energy to explaining why competition standards should change, how they should change, what debate looks like with those competition standards, how it applies in that particular debate, etc. Sound like a lot? Yeah, it kinda is... just beat the permutation with disads and solid link explanations.
You can be certain that I absolutely will not reject a perm on an assertion of "no perms in critical debates" or "no plan, no perm."
is highly under-appreciated. Oftentimes 2ACs just assume the neg doesn’t know anything about the aff and entirely mishandle case arguments. Punish. Them.
I have and will vote on case turns if they outweigh the aff or if the aff has such diminished solvency that they outweigh the aff.
Theory: most theory debates are garbage. Prove me wrong. If there is one conditional K or CP, don’t waste your time. If the alt isn’t actually vague, make a different argument.
Adrienne F. Brovero, University of Kentucky
25+ years coaching
Please label your email chain subject line with Team names, tourney, round.
Your prep time does not end until you have hit send on the email.
❗This is a communication activity.❗
Clarity - Cannot emphasize enough how important clarity is, whether online or in-person.
Highlighting - Highlighting has become a disgrace. Highlighting should not result in anti-grammatical shards of arguments. Highlighting should not result in misrepresentation of the author's intent/ideas. Quite frankly, some highlighting is so bad, you would have been better served not reading the evidence. When highlighting, please put yourself in the judge's shoes for a moment and ask yourself if you would feel comfortable deciding a debate based on how you've highlighted that card. If the answer is no, reconsider your highlighting.
SERIOUSLY - LINE-BY-LINE. NUMBER.
If you like to say "I will do the link debate here" - I am probably not the best judge for you. I would prefer you clash with link arguments in each instance they happen, as opposed to all in one place. Same is true for every other component of an argument.
- Qualifications - read them. Debate them.
- Line-by-line involves directly referencing the other team's argument ("Off 2AC #3 - Winners Win, group"), then answering it. "Embedded" clash fails if you bury the clash part so deep I can't find the arg you are answering.
- Overviews - overrated. Kinda hate them. Think they are a poor substitute for debating the arguments where they belong on the line-by-line.
Things that are prep time:
- Any time after the official start time that is not a constructive (9 mins), CX (3 mins), rebuttal (6 mins), or a brief roadmap. Everything else is prep time.
- Putting your speech doc together - including saving doc, setting up email chain, attaching it to the email, etc.
- Asking for cards outside of CX time.
- Setting up your podium/stand.
- Putting your flows in order.
- Finding pens, flows, timers.
Debate like this: http://vimeo.com/5464508
Communication: I like it. I appreciate teams that recognize communication failures and try to correct them. If I am not flowing, it usually means communication is breaking down. If I am confused or have missed an argument, I will frequently look up and give you a confused look – you should read this as an indication that the argument, at minimum, needs to be repeated, and may need to be re-explained. I am more than willing to discount a team’s arguments if I didn’t understand or get their arguments on my flow.
Speaker points: Points are influenced by a variety of factors, including, but not limited to: Communication skills, speaking clarity, road-mapping, obnoxiousness, disrespectfulness, theft of prep time, quality of and sufficient participation in 2 cross-examinations and 2 speeches, the quality of the debate, the clarity of your arguments, the sophistication of your strategy, and your execution. I have grown uncomfortable with the amount of profanity used during debates – do not expect high points if you use profanity.
Paperless/Prep Time: Most tournaments have a strict decision time clock, and your paperless time cuts into decision time. Most of you would generally prefer the judges has the optimal amount of time to decide. Please be efficient. Prep runs until you are pulling the jump drive out of your computer or the email is sent. I will be understanding of tech fails, but not as much negligence or incompetence. Dealing with your laptop’s issues, finding your flows, looking for evidence, figuring out how to operate a timer, setting up stands, etc. – i.e. preparation – all come out of prep time.
In terms of viewing your evidence myself, I prefer email over flashing - my email address is email@example.com, so please include me on speech doc emails.
• I flow.
• Unless both teams instruct me otherwise, I will flow both teams.
• I evaluate the debate based primarily on what I have flowed.
• I frequently flow CX. I carefully check the 2AR for new arguments, and will not hold the 2NR accountable for unpredictable explanations or cross applications.
• I try to get down some form of tag/cite/text for each card. This doesn’t mean I always do. I make more effort to get the arg than I do the cite or date, so do not expect me to always know what you’re talking about when you solely refer to your “Henry 19” evidence.
• I reward those who make flowing easier by reading in a flowable fashion (road-mapping & signposting, direct refutation/clash, clarity, reasonable pace, emphasis of key words, reading for meaning, no distractions like tapping on the tubs, etc.). If you are fond of saying things like "Now the link debate" or "Group the perm debate" during the constructives, and you do not very transparently embed the clash that follows, do not expect me to follow your arguments or connect dots for you. Nor should you expect spectacular points.
• I appreciate efforts to evaluate and compare claims and evidence in the debate.
• I pay attention to quals and prefer they are actually read in the debate. I am extremely dismayed by the decline in quality of evidence (thank you, Internets) and the lack of teams’ capitalization on questionable sources.
• I don’t like to read evidence if I don’t feel the argument it makes has been communicated to me (e.g. the card was mumbled in the 2AC, or only extended by cite, or accompanied by a warrantless explanation, etc.).
• I also don’t like reading the un-highlighted portions of evidence unless they are specifically challenged by the opposing team.
• I should not have to read the un-highlighted parts to understand your argument – the highlighted portion should be a complete argument and a coherent thought. If you only read a claim, you only have a claim – you don’t get credit for portions of the evidence you don’t reference or read. If you only read a non-grammatical fragment, you are running the risk of me deciding I can’t coherently interpret that as an arg.
• I don’t like anonymous pronouns or referents in evidence like “she says” without an identification of who “she” is – identify “she” in your speech or “she” won’t get much weight in my decision.
• If you hand me evidence to read, please make clear which portions were actually read.
Decision calculus: Procedural determinations usually precede substantive determinations. First, I evaluate fairness questions to determine if actions by either team fundamentally alter the playing field in favor of the aff or neg. Then, I evaluate substantive questions. Typically, the aff must prove their plan is net beneficial over the status quo and/or a counterplan in order to win.
Topicality & plan-related issues:
• The aff needs to have a written plan text.
• It should be topical.
• T is a voter. Criticisms of T are RVIs in sheep’s clothing.
• Anti-topical actions are neg ground.
• Have yet to hear a satisfactory explanation of how nontraditional advocacies or demands are meaningfully different from plans, other than they are usually either vague and/or non-topical.
• On a related note, I don’t get why calling one’s advocacy a performance or demand renders a team immune from being held responsible for the consequences of their advocacy.
• In relation to plans and permutations, I value specificity over vagueness – specificity is necessary for meaningful debate about policies. However, please do not consider this an invitation to run dumb spec arguments as voting issues – absent a glaring evasiveness/lack of specificity, these are typically more strategic as solvency args.
Adjudicating critique or performance debates is not my strong suit. Most of these debates take place at a level of abstraction beyond my comprehension. If you have a habit of referring to your arguments by the author’s name (e.g. “Next off – Lacan”), I am not a very good judge for you. I don’t read very much in the advanced political philosophy or performance studies areas. This means, most of the time, I don’t know what the terms used in these debates mean. I am much more the applied politics type, and tend to think pragmatically. This means if you want to go for a critical or performance argument in front of me, you need to explain your arguments in lay-speak, relying less on jargon and author names, and more on warrants, analogies, empirical examples, and specifics in relation to the policy you are critiquing/performing for/against – i.e. persuade me. It also helps to slow it down a notch. Ask yourself how quickly you could flow advanced nuclear physics – not so easy if you aren’t terribly familiar with the field, eh? Well, that’s me in relation to these arguments. Flowing them at a rapid rate hinders my ability to process the arguments. Additionally, make an effort to explain your evidence as I am not nearly as familiar with this literature as you are. Lastly, specifically explain the link and impact in relation to the specific aff you are debating or the status quo policy you are criticizing. Statements like "the critique turns the case” don't help me. As Russ Hubbard put it, in the context of defending his demining aff many years ago, “How does our plan result in more landmines in the ground? Why does the K turn the case?” I need to know why the critique means the plan’s solvency goes awry – in words that link the critique to the actions of the plan. For example: Which part of the harms does the critique indict, with what impact on those harms claims? What would the plan end up doing if the critique turns its solvency? In addition, I find it difficult to resolve philosophical questions and/or make definitive determinations about a team’s motives or intentions in the course of a couple of hours.
I strongly urge you to re-read my thoughts above on “Communication” before debating these arguments in front of me.
I generally lean negative on CP theory: topical, plan-inclusive, exclusion, conditional, international fiat, agent, etc. Aff teams should take more advantage of situations where the counterplan run is abusive at multiple levels – if the negative has to fend off multiple reasons the CP is abusive, their theory blocks may start to contradict. Both counterplan and permutation texts should be written out. “Do both” is typically meaningless to me – specify how. The status quo could remain a logical option, but growing convinced this should be debated. [NOTE THAT IS A FALL '18 CHANGE - DEBATE IT OUT] Additionally, another shout-out for communication - many theory debates are shallow and blippy - don't be that team. I like theory, but those type of debates give theory a bad name.
I like DAs. I’m willing to vote on stock issue arguments like inherency or “zero risk of solvency”.
Do what you do best and I will make a decision afterwards
How RyanMalone makes decisions
I hope Whitehead is right, that even dimwits can make good decisions if they follow an appropriate procedure. It’s only fair then for me to give a general sense of how I make decisions, with as few platitudes as possible, though most of them still apply.
1. After the 2ar I review 2nr and 2ar arguments and their comportment with the block and 1ar. Unless there are arguments about how I should or should not flow, I appreciate when debaters are attentive to line-by-line, but I understand that strategy sometimes calls one to deviate from it. When that occurs, I am less likely to line up arguments in the same way as you may want me to.
2. While doing that I clarify shorthand and mark out errata and things that aren’t arguments. There is a difference between arguments and nascent things that purport to be arguments. We don’t need to talk about Toulmin; an argument is really anything that could inform a decision. This may seem arbitrary or kind of like question-begging, but I don’t think it’s capricious. I don’t do this because I have some ultra-strenuous “not buying it” threshold for what constitutes an argument. My concern is that there is a temptation to embellish not-quite-arguments, especially those that, if they had been full arguments, would be compelling, strategic, or make for an easy decision. Assessing, at the outset, what all on the flow are reasonably arguments is a way to ward off that temptation.
3. I then look to arguments the 2nr and 2ar say are the most important and other arguments that appear central to the debate or that may supplant opposing lines of reasoning. The last part may seem to imply a premium on the meta, but rarely are debates leveraged on Archimedean points.
4. If necessary, I read evidence. I don’t follow along in speech docs or look at speeches in more than a cursory way prior to the end of the debate, with perhaps the exception of interpretations and counterplan texts. I will read a piece of evidence if there is contestation about its quality, applicability, or illocution, if I am asked to compare two pieces of evidence or a piece of evidence and a countervailing explanation, or if some argument is dense and, despite good explanation, I’m just not following. My concern is that the more evidence a judge reads without specific reason, the more they reward good evidence read sloppily over clear, persuasive argumentation and are at risk of reconstructing the debate along those lines.
5. I hash out the above (it’s hard to adumbrate this process in a way that’s not super vague) and I get something resembling a decision. I run through a few even-if scenarios: what, if any, central arguments the losing team could have won, but still lose the debate, and what arguments the winning team would have had to lose or the losing team would have had to win for the losing team to win the debate. Finally, I review the flow again to make sure my decision is firmly based in the 2nr and 2ar and that there is nothing I’ve missed.
Note on Framework
Framework debates are better when both teams have some defense, in addition to offense.
Even if fairness is intrinsically value, by which I mean fairness is valuable regardless of relation, I’m unsure how valuable procedural fairness is, in and of itself. Because of that fairness arguments make more sense to me as internal links rather than impacts.
Similarly, impact turns to fairness are more persuasive when they are about the purported use of fairness as an impartial rule. Phrased differently, in explaining the way structural fairness informs procedural fairness as a difference in fairness-in-rule and fairness-in-practice, it may be worth thinking about fairness as the practice of appealing to rules.
Topical versions are under-utilized.
Things that do not concern how I usually make decisions
Some of the above is assiduously believed, but weakly held, however, the following points are immutable: I will comply with any tournament rules regarding speech and decision times, speaker points, etc. Any request not to be recorded or videotaped should be honored. If proven, clipping, cross-reading, or deceitfully manufacturing or altering evidence will result in a loss and zero speaker points. Unlike wit, sass, and tasteful self-effacement, bald-faced meanness will negatively affect speaker points.
My rfds are brief, which I’m working on. This reason for this is twofold. First, most of what I write down concerns how I make my decision, not how I intend to give it. Second, I don’t presume to act, even temporarily, as something like an arguments coach, nor as someone who can adroitly explain or find fault in an opposing team’s arguments. The last thing I want to do is say something that would lead you astray. At this point in my time judging I’m really just trying to be a good heuristic machine—anything more is just gravy. Obviously, to the degree to which I have insight I will give suggestions, clarifications, or share in your befuddlement.
Please feel free to email me if you have questions or concerns.
David Cram Helwich
University of Minnesota
27 years judging, 40-ish rounds each year
Quick version: Do what you do best and I will try to check my dispositions at the door.
Topic Thoughts: The topic lit base seems really shallow, "nearest person" is a tank, the "Terminator DA" is winning a surprising number of rounds, and I have yet to hear a good T debate. I have no strong thoughts on any T questions so far, and am increasingly worried about the aff.
Online Debate: It is "not great," better than I feared. I have judged quite a few online debates over the past 3 years. Debaters will benefit by slowing down a bit if that enhances their clarity, avoiding cross-talk, and actively embracing norms that minimize the amount of "null time" in debates--watch for speechdocs and download them right away, pay attention to the next speaker as they give the order, be efficient in getting your speechdoc attached and sent, etc.
Evidence: I believe that engaged research is one of the strongest benefits of policy debate, and that judging practices should incentivize such research. I am a bad judge for you if your evidence quality is marginal—sources, recency, and warrants/data offered. I reward teams who debate their opponent’s evidence, including source qualifications.
Delivery: I will provide prompts (if not on a panel) if I am having trouble flowing. I will not evaluate arguments that I could not originally flow.
Topicality: I vote on well-developed procedurals. I rarely vote on T cheap shots. T is not genocide—however, “exclusion” and similar impacts can be good reasons to prefer one interpretation over another. Debaters that focus interpretation debating on caselists (content and size), division of ground, and the types of literature we read, analyzed through fairness/education lenses, are more likely to get my ballot. I tend to have a high threshold for what counts as a “definition”—intent to define is important, whereas proximity-count “definitions” seem more valuable in setting the parameters of potential caselists than in grounding an interpretation of the topic.
Critical Arguments: I have read quite a bit of critical theory, and will not dismiss your argument just because it does not conform to ‘traditional’ notions of debate. However, you should not assume that I am necessarily familiar with your particular literature base. I value debating that applies theory to the ‘artifact’ of the 1AC (or 1NC, or topic, etc). The more specific and insightful the application of said theory, the more likely I am to vote for you. Explaining what it means to vote for you (role of the ballot) is vitally important, for both “policy” and “K” teams. Absent contrary guidance, I view ‘framework’ debates in the same frame as T—caselist size/content, division of ground, research focus.
Disadvantages/Risk: I typically assess the ‘intrinsic probability’ of the plan triggering a particular DA (or advantage) before assessing uniqueness questions. This means that link work is very important—uniqueness obviously implicates probability, but “risk of uniqueness” generally means “we have no link.” Impact assessments beyond shallow assertions (“ours is faster because I just said so”) are an easy pathway to my ballot, especially if you have strong evidentiary support
Theory: I will not evaluate theoretical objections that do not rise to the level of an argument (claim, data, warrant). Good theory debating focuses on how the operationalization of competing interpretations impacts what we debate/research and side balance. Thought experiments (what would debate look like if the neg could read an unlimited number of contradictory, conditional counterplans?) are valuable in drawing such comparisons. I tend to find “arg not team” to be persuasive in most cases. This means you need a good reason why “loss” is an appropriate remedy for a theory violation—I am persuadable on this question, but it takes more than an assertion. If it is a close call in your mind about whether to go for “substance” or “theory,” you are probably better off going for “substance.”
Counterplans: The gold standard for counterplan legitimacy is specific solvency evidence. Obviously, the necessary degree of specificity is a matter of interpretation, but, like good art, you know it when you see it. I am more suspicious of multi-conditionality, and international fiat than most judges. I am probably more open to condition counterplans than many critics. PICs/PECs that focus debate on substantive parts of the aff seem important to me. Functional competition seems to make more sense than does textual competition. That being said, I coach my teams to run many counterplans that I do not think are legitimate, and vote for such arguments all the time. The status quo seems to be a legitimate voting option unless I am instructed otherwise.
Argument Resolution: Rebuttalists that simply extend a bunch of cards/claims and hope that I decide things in their favor do poorly in front of me. I reward debaters that resolve arguments, meaning they provide reasons why their warrants, data, analysis, sources etc. are stronger (more persuasive) than those of their opponents on critical pressure points. I defer to uncontested argument and impact comparisons. I read evidence on questions that are contested, if I want the cite, or if I think your argument is interesting.
Decorum: I believe that exclusive practices (including speech acts) are unacceptable. I am unlikely to vote against you for being offensive, but I will not hesitate to decrease your points if you behave in an inappropriate manner (intentionally engaging in hostile, classist, racist, sexist, heterosexist, ableist etc. acts, for example). I recognize that this activity is very intense, but please try to understand that everyone present feels the same pressures and “play nice.”
Paperless: Email chains are faster--establish one before the round, and please include me on it (firstname.lastname@example.org) . Prep time ends once the speechdoc is saved and sent. My default is that debaters may use prep time during a speech to resolve “tech issues” (crashes, freezes, etc). I do not have a strong opinion on the acceptability of mid-speech prep for other purposes, aside from any tournament policies on "tech time".
If you have specific questions, please ask me before the round.
Minneapolis South '17
University of Minnesota '21
Coach at Minneapolis Edison HS Fall '17 - Spring '20
Part-time Coach at UMN Fall '21 - Present
Email: email@example.com Yes put me on the email chain, some of these thoughts haven't been changed in a while so feel free to email me to ask any questions. I have a full-time non-debate job now so I have less knowledge about the topics than in past years.
HS: Minimal topic knowledge, Judged 1 round on the topic so far this year.
College: Some topic knowledge, have been doing a small amount of work for UMN, judged 0 debates so far.
Speed, good if clear, warrant dense and slow > fast nonsense, I flow on paper so I need pen time.
Favorite 2NRs, DA and Case, T, impact turns, adv cp + ptx, (but go for what you are good at, will vote for most anything).
FW v. k aff, yes fairness is an impact, but often a small one. K aff can win, but probably needs some explanation of the role of the negative (and how they can reasonably accomplish this role).
I debated about 592 rounds (30 middle school, 275 high school, 287 college) and have judged about 278 (59 middle school, 126 High School, 73 College), best result: octa-finalist at the 2021 NDT.
Debate is an educational activity and I take my role as a judge to include that of an educator. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help you feel welcome and safe.
I value clarity over speed, I should be able to hear just about every word that you say including the card text. but if you are clear I can keep up with any amount of speed. If you are unclear I'll flow as much of your speech as I can understand, if it isn’t on my flow it isn’t on my ballot. Clear communication on what you want me to write down is a plus. Organization is a plus, but otherwise I'll just flow straight down. My role as a judge is up for debate, so tell me how I should be evaluating impacts.
I vote off the flow. Default to tech > truth, though truth often determines how much tech you need to win the argument. I usually evaluate based on offense (broadly defined) vs defense, so comparisons between each sides offense are a major plus, otherwise I will have to do those comparisons and you might not like how they end up.
Don't clip, I shouldn't need to say this, if you clip and don't correct it you get zero speaks and a loss based on my discretion. if you say mark the card actually mark it, I follow along with the speech doc to check for clipping. (Note: this section applies for everyone but is included mostly from me judging local high school rounds.)
FW vs K affs - Yes. Fairness is probably a real impact, though a fairly small one, clash about the only other impact worth saying when going for fw. the neg probably needs some way to mitigate aff offense either a TVA, switch side or process over content. Aff’s should probably have a model of debate, as it is much more difficult to convince me that an activity that you devoted your time to is wholly bad. A very clear model of debate with a clear role for the negative can sometimes solve much of the negs fairness and clash offense. Procedure based DAs to FW are better than content based ones.
K vs Policy - If you are choosing which K to go for in front of me the Cap K is probably the best option. I’m fine for most of the generic Ks (i.e. security, cap, biopower). I’m fine for specific Ks also, but make sure you explain them because I haven't read much of the lit in depth. I’m ok for many identity Ks (antiblackness, gender, queerness) in that I have a base level of understanding of them but have a somewhat high threshold for ontology claims being true. I’m not good for Baudrillard, Bataille, D&G or Nietzsche, etc, I don't understand why they answer the aff. I have a high threshold for no Ks FW on the aff, easily win that you get to weigh the aff, though what that means is up for debate, and should be explained. Please impact out what I should do if you win your interp on FW. My favorite argument for a policy aff against a k fw is " the best way to evaluate the ethics/epistemology/method of the aff is to judge it based on the effects it would have if it implemented a policy."
Topicality (not against K affs) - T is about a model for debate. Abuse isn’t needed and it isn't abuse that something doesn't link, unless they shift what they defend, which then isn’t about T. I default to T a priori. Standards with warrants are needed in the 1NC. Tell me what reasonability means and why it is good beyond the generic one liner if you want me to vote on it (ie 1-2 minutes of the 2ar + 2-3 sentences in each speech before then). Think of reasonability as going for presumption, you shouldn't do it often and when you do it should be the focal point of your speech.
PIC/Ks - The aff should be able to defend all parts of their plan/advocacy, other pics are debatable. (subject to debates about textual and functional competition-see below).
Theory/CP - most condo is probably good, types of CPs, and solvency advocates matter more than just the number of condo, though I will vote on condo. 2NC counterplans out of straight turns are probably bad. - I have found myself voting aff on condo more than I would like - 2nr please include neg flex, fairness outweighs and dispo fails.
Perm do the CP is good against process CPs, Textual functional good as a justification for the perm. Default to reject the arg except for condo. International fiat probably isn't real, multi actor is debatable. Most theory args like consult bad are best used as a justification for perm do the CP. I default to judge kick if the neg losses the perm or that CP links to the net benefit, though if 1ar and 2ar say I shouldn't and the 2nr doesn't have a justification for it I won't kick it. Perm do both usually needs a net benefit, often a solvency deficit. Probably good to compare this NB to the DAs to the perm.
DA - I evaluate probabilistically, so unlikely to win zero risk unless major drop, need to do impact calc. Uniqueness controlling link makes more sense to me, but can be convinced otherwise. Threshold for thumpers is determined by the broadest link argument extended, so if you have a more specific link it can backfire to extend the more general one.
Impact framing - Util is probably the best frame, though with broad conception of value of life, and more based around a model than each action. Risk = Magnitude x Probability, so low probability extinction isn't always larger than structural violence (because future lives are broadly discounted based on alt causes/unknown thumpers), probability is usually determined based on how well it is debated out.
Case - Most affs have logical inconsistencies, being able to exploit these is always a plus. Good case answers are underutilized and usually winners. UQ is a squo solves/solvency deficit unless there is a theory arg, unlikely to be zero risk of solvency, so you should have some offense, or a robust defense of why presumption goes neg.
University of Minnesota, NDT-CEDA 2017-2021 (Healthcare, Exec Authority, Space, Alliances). Anoka High School, (lay) LD+PF 2015-2017.
For the email chain: please put the tournament and the teams in the subject line, it makes organization and scouting easier. College rounds: Please put firstname.lastname@example.org on the email chain for me.
If you have questions: don't email debatedocs, email email@example.com. Please do not put this on the email chain, I don't want that nonsense in my inbox, and I will forward it to debatedocs anyway so this won't stop you from getting scouted.
Feel free to record/stream/publish the round (pending the consent of other participants). In the interest of transparency, here is my comprehensive judging record, with wiki-style round reports and a summary of each RFD. My Tabroom ballot will likely contain detailed written feedback beyond the oral RFD. Novice/JV debaters: I know it's hard to step back and see the round impartially during the RFD, so you in particular should go back and read the feedback after you've had time to digest a long tournament weekend.
I wish negative teams understood that with great power to write counterplan texts comes great responsibility in self-restraint. I wish case defense was answered as well as defense on disadvantages. I wish competitors were less cowardly in cross-examination and more willing to defend what they said in their speech.
I appreciate debaters who enjoy debating! I appreciate when teams point out their opponents' mistakes in a speech, and I am very reluctant to do that work for debaters who do not do so. I appreciate when strategic concessions made in one place are leveraged in others. I appreciate in-depth case defense. I appreciate mundane arguments executed well. I appreciate when teams exploit tension among their opponents' arguments.
I strongly dislike time-wasting. I strongly dislike use of the first negative rebuttal as a third negative constructive. I strongly dislike kritiks, and in general only vote on them when the risk of the affirmative's impacts is zeroed by external case defense. I strongly dislike arguments that dispute the value of an activity we all choose to do. I dislike counterplans that do not have predetermined outcomes. I dislike argumentative cowardice: introduction of underdeveloped positions with core components sandbagged to the negative block, evasiveness in cross-examination, and so on.
I am a very expressive judge -- if I look confused during your speech, you have confused me; if I look frustrated during your speech, it is probably your fault; if I laugh when you make an argument it is not because I will not vote on it or because it is a bad argument, it is because the argument is funny. I am bad at evaluating topicality debates, this is a skill at which I have been actively seeking to improve. I am in general very slow at deciding debates. I am more willing than many to assign zero risk to positions. I am confident I am in the top five percent of all judges for topicality against kritikal affirmatives. I am unconvinced that there is any meaningful numerical limitation on conditionality: If it is good, it is good; if it is bad; it is bad.
Novice and JV debaters are strongly encouraged to simplify the debate in late rebuttals. This will improve both your speaker points and your likelihood of making sufficiently complete arguments to win the debate.
Unless you are absolutely sure you know what you are doing, your counterplan should not be unconditional -- you are more likely to lose a debate because the 2AC can ignore multiple disads than on conditionality.
Flow the debate -- I will be very disappointed if arguments that were not read in the 1NC get answered in the 2AC, and your speaker points will suffer.
I will evaluate evidence that was inserted but not read only if the mere existence of the evidence constitutes a warrant. I will evaluate silly or offensive arguments, but these arguments are typically very easy to answer. I will kick counterplans for the negative if I am instructed to do so, but my threshold to overturn this presumption is low. I will run a prep timer for teams who need things removed from a speech doc (this is distinct from asking for marks in marked evidence).
An ethics violation (evidence, clipping, etc) introduced as a voting issue will either end the debate or not constitute a reason to reject the team, at the sole discretion of the team introducing the violation. I have a high threshold for identifying malice or competitive advantage gained from introducing improperly attributed evidence.
A forfeit will occur if one side does not wish to debate. I will consult the tabroom staff, if they award a forfeit/bye I will not submit a ballot. If I am instructed to submit a ballot, the side withdrawing from the debate will recieve the minimum speaker points allowed. The partnership not withdrawing will have an opportunity to give one constructive and one rebuttal each, to which I will arbitrarily assign speaker points. I will not participate in any arrangement to give sham speeches to avoid the consequences of a forfeit.
Competition rooms are public spaces, and spectators are welcome to watch or take notes as they see fit.
Plan texts should describe what the aff does. Plan texts should contain all of the things the affirmative wishes to fiat: If your solvency advocate calls for an insurance mandate, you probably already have enough offense against the PIC out of an insurance mandate to win without perm do the counterplan.
Old antitrust thoughts:
I have noticed that topicality interpretations seem exceedingly contrived and largely silly, and I don't know what is limiting this topic. I have noticed that in case-DA or counterplan-case-DA debates I vote negative an astounding amount of the time. This tells me that affirmative teams need 1) better 1ac answers to states and regs, 2) offense against net benefits, and 3) better case coverage in the 2ac.
Please use the restroom and fill up your water bottle before the round, in prep time after your speeches have finished, or during my decision time. The longer I have to make a decision, the better my decision and my feedback will be.
During dead time, I have literally nothing to do but watch competitors. You may think you can get away with stealing prep, but you cannot. I will notice, I will complain about it, I may punish you, I may complain to your coach about it.
The number of conditional worlds is two to the power of the number of advocacies, not the factorial of the number of advocacies.
All of the evidence you read in a debate should be formatted the same.
Put arguments in a useful order: If the first advantage has two scenarios, answer scenario 1 then scenario 2. If the 1AC has a solvency page, put circumvention there rather than on whichever advantage you take first. If it doesn't, you can create a solvency page for the affirmative.
Performative contradictions are double-turns or conditional arguments, not independent voting issues.
The speech doc is not a record of what happened in the round, it is a tool to share evidence. Sending too few things in the doc is a problem; sending too many things in the doc is clown-tier but will only cost you speaker points, and even then only if it's egregious.
The abbreviations 'aff' and 'neg' are shortenings of "affirmative" and "negative" and are ergo words not acronyms.
email chain firstname.lastname@example.org
Director of Debate @ Texas Tech (2022-) NDT/CEDA | Program Support @ Dallas Urban Debate (2022-) policy | Assistant Coach @ San Diego State University (2020-2021) NPDA/NPTE | Director of Debate @ UCLA (2020-2021) NPDA/NPTE | Assistant Coach @ University of Texas-Tyler (2019-2020) NPDA/NPTE | Assistant Coach @ Aubrey HS (2019-2020) policy | Assistant Coach @ Lindale HS (2015-2020) policy
Texas Tech (2016-2019) NPDA/NPTE| Lindale HS (2011-2015) policy
Read whatever set or style of arguments you would like, my job is to evaluate the round through an offense/defense lens and vote for the team that makes the world a better place (i.e. won the debate, ya know). I frequently judge all types of debates (from policy v policy, k v k, and k v policy to world schools, parli, policy, LD, and college debate to middle school debate, etc) and am more interested in seeing good debate rather than any particular style of debate.
Warrant & evidence comparison, impact terminalization, historical examples, global context, and 'telling the story' of the round late in rebuttals are typically the content choices that help sway my decision when a clear winner is not decided by the flow.
I don’t have any predispositions regrading the content, structure, or style of your arguments. I will defer to evaluating the debate through an offense/defense paradigm absent a team winning an argument for me to evaluate it another way. Clear impact weighing in the rebuttals and evidence/warrant comparison are typically what I notice in teams I enjoy judging.
I attempt to be a ’technical’ judge in every round I watch. I try to keep a detailed flow, and use my flow to evaluate the round that happened. If the flow doesn’t decide a clear winner, I will then look to the quality of evidence/warrants provided. I tend to find I’m less interested in where an argument in presented than others. While clear line-by-line is always appreciated, some of my favorite debaters to watch were overview-heavy debaters who made and answered arguments in the debate while telling a persuasive story of the debate. I would rather you sound organized and clear than following a template throughout each flow.
I will most likely not vote on ‘independent voting issues’ unless it’s an egregious instance. This is separate from ethics concerns, like cheating, card clipping, etc. I am not persuaded by claims that I should evaluate the entirety of the debate based upon a single argument on my flow. Particular rhetorical abuses, such as racist, sexist, transphobic remarks are a different story, and I will hold those to much higher scrutiny than a claim that I should decide a whole debate because the 2ac read a severance perm.
Instead of framing debates through ‘body counts’, I am much more persuaded by framing as ‘who saves the most lives’, or who has the best advocacy for change. Sometimes debaters talk about claims of very real violence and problems for various communities with little regard to the real world implications of their political advocacies.
I tend to prefer specific plan texts over vague plan texts. I also like specific internal link claims and impact scenarios. Specific instances of war are more persuasive to me than ‘goat power war’ claims.
counterplans, disads, & case turns
I would prefer you read at least once piece of solvency evidence per plank in the 1nc. Obviously that’s not a hard rule, but I will hold CPs that read multiple planks with no evidence in the 1nc to much higher scrutiny than a sufficiently developed 1nc shell.
I tend to lean neg on most CP theories. Obviously, the debate is to be had, but I am generally more persuaded that the negative should get access to most CPs and conditional advocacies. Specific claims about instances in-round to generate offense in these debates is much more persuasive than generic standard debates. I am more willing to vote on reject the argument than reject the team.
I find I am more willing to judge-kick in the 2nr than most judges, but think this is still a debate that needs to be had. The 2nr must have a persuasive reason for me to judge kick, and the 2ar can still win that I ought not judge kick.
Uniqueness guides the direction of the link. I like robust development of each level of the debate for disads and case turns, while telling a clear story about the thesis of the disad. I decide the probability of your impact based on the link and internal link level of the debate, and find that often times 2nrs are lacking on this level of the disad flow.
I think the impact turn is a lost art and have a special place in my heart for them. The same is to be said for developed case turn debates.
To me, the best kritiks are the ones that clearly identify a theory of power or possesses some sort of a structural analysis. I am most persuaded by specific historical examples and a clear alternative that frames what my ballot does.
The link level of the debate tends to be the most important in my making my decision at the end of the round. I like developed link blocks, and think that the aff often times doesn’t adequately handle the link section of the debate.
In reformism v revolution debates, I prefer explanations that pinpoint why the conditions of the status quo are the way they are, and can best explain casualty for violence. This is where historical examples become especially important, and where warrant comparison becomes paramount.
I think permutations in the 2ar that attempt to prove the alt is not functionally competitive are not nearly as persuasive as arguments in the 2ar that the aff is in the direction of the alt. A heg aff probably cannot go for a perm against anti-blackness, but an aff that is a step towards the same telos of the alt can.
Affs will usually win that they can weigh their aff, but I am typically not persuaded by framework arguments that attempt to tell me not to evaluate the k. I think the same is also true for the negative. Instead, I think the framework portion of the debate should tell me what my ballot does and how I should frame my decision given the context of the round.
'clash of civilization' debates
I've been seeing a lot of these debates recently, so I figured it was worth adding a section with a bit more tailored to these debates.
In these debates, warrant comparison is paramount. Rebuttals that are just extending state good/bad or reformism good/bad arguments without doing any interaction with the flow is a common mistake I see in these debates. Ideally, your arguments for this level of debate also have terminalized and developed impacts as well. The best debaters in these debates typically are those who use their evidence/examples to implicate the specific warrants the other team is extending.
Links should be explained as disadvantages to the permutation with impacts developed and extended for them. I need the 2nr to be doing more work on the permutation than just extending the link level; this isn't to say you cannot or should not extend them as disads to the perm (I think you probably should), but simply saying the phrase isn't enough to prove mutual exclusivity. I appreciate a really well developed and implicated link wall.
I would much rather not have my ballot decided by the framework level debate. Engaging the substance is very much so appreciated in these debates. Obviously this doesn't influence any debates I watch, but I tend to believe that the aff should get access to their 1ac and the neg gets to weigh their impacts against it; fiat is illusory isn't reason enough for me to moot the 1ac, and just because it's a K doesn't mean your 1ac was necessarily mooted. but again, grain of salt, do you.
A lot of these rounds are decided on which team wins their theory of power or governance, and rebuttalists that are using historical and contextual examples are typically those who win these debates. The more specific the examples throughout the debate, the better spot you will probably be in to get my ballot.
Instead of telling me what your alt does, tell me how I can do your alt. I love references to other movements, specific actions I can take, and what the telos or the vision of your alternative is; I do not like you telling me in the abstract what the alterative means. Don't try to explain the words of the alt to me, tell me what the alt means with specific warrants for how the alt can resolve the links and/or the aff.
The 2ar needs to be finding ways to extend and terminalize offense that exists outside solving the aff. If your offense on the K only relies on your ability to solve your aff in the 2ar, it tends to not bode well for the aff. Reformism/state good offense that isn't just 'we solve the aff, the aff is a good idea', or terminalized impact turns or disadvantages to the alternatives can be really useful in close 'clash' debates.
If the 2ar is going for a permutation, I must know what the world of the permutation looks like with some explanation of the solvency mechanism for the perm and why the alt is not mutually exclusive.
Competing interpretations just tells me to evaluate offense vs defense, which is what I am most likely going to do. I think reasonability tells me that even if they win the their impact claims (the standards), they haven’t won the link debate (the interp debate) because we meet/are close enough to the interp. Because I view T debates this way, I like clear and developed standard debates that clear isolate impact claims.
Case lists, TVAs, examples of affs that would violate, etc. are all useful because they help me situate your interp within the topic. These are all terminal defense, so you won’t necessarily win a debate with them alone, but they are persuasive.
Interp comparison is really useful as well. Debating the quality of interps is a lost art and can generate offense in the standard level as well.
I don’t think that the aff has to win a specific counter interp in K aff v FW debates, but rather a counter model for debate. I like these debates that break down the skills gandered from each model of debate, and use them to generate offense. Arguments like fairness claims, or claims that framework is inherently violent aren’t persuasive to me. Standards about portable skills, research, advocacy, etc. that tell me the tangible benefits of your model serve best on either side because I think helps frame what sort of method my ballot is endorsing.
Part-time coach at the University of Kentucky, formerly debated at UK (graduated in 2020)
add me to the email chain: genevieveelise1028 at gmail dot com
I am really excited about this topic because of professional/personal interest and experience in nuclear weapons research. I think it's a great topic to have a back and forth about, and I also think the literature is deep and contains controversy. I will do my best to maintain neutrality when it comes to arguments, but it is worth knowing that I fall on the arms control/nonproliferation/disarmament side of things in my personal views. I believe I will likely be more persuaded than on other topics by the reasons that debating nuclear weapons policy is beneficial and that policy changes limiting nuclear weapons are a positive contribution to larger social movements.
I like for debate to be fun and will generally enjoy judging in debates where it is clear you are having a good time and doing what you're passionate about. Don't be afraid to let your personality show in how you debate - being funny or spicy in the CX are often times I enjoy the debate the most. I understand the amount of time and dedication it takes to do this activity seriously, so I will work very hard to make sure that I am evaluating your debate in a way that respects the hard work that you have put into the activity, and the time and energy you are using to be present at each tournament.
The more I reflect on how I judge, the more I think it is really important for debaters to provide instruction/guidance in their speeches about how to tie all of the different pieces of the debate together. 2NRs and 2ARs that do a lot of this, backed by quality evidence read in earlier speeches, will often find themselves winning, getting good speaker points, and being more satisfied with my decision and how I understood the overarching picture in the debate. I generally believe, in the 2NR and 2AR, reading cards should be an absolute last resort. I will almost always prefer 30 seconds of quality explanation and framing over a new, often mid at best, card.
Disad and case is awesome, more case analysis that is smart will be rewarded in points. I think smart and specific counterplans are cool. The more specific and in grounded in the literature your CP is, the less likely I am to care about theory. However, counterplans that just fiat that something bad doesn't happen, or counterplans that are generally questionable on premise, I sometimes find annoying and frustrating to judge.
Topicality (vs aff with a plan)
I think a limited topic is good and care immensely about the comparison of one version of the topic to another when it comes to T. If you cannot explain coherently what the difference between the two topics are, I am much less likely to care about your very abstract appeals to the notion of limits or ground.
One caution about how much I am involved in debate should apply --- you may think "this T arg never wins, the community doesn't agree with this, etc" and I am pretty out of the loop on that, so I honestly won't know one way or the other, and will not find appeals to community feelings about a topic particularly persuasive without specific examples.
K (vs aff with a plan)
I judge K's as I would any other argument - I think they need to have a clearly explained link, internal link, impact, and alternative. Being more specific about the topic is far better than some random backfile check about Baudrillard. You should explain your arguments clearly vs using buzz words because I will be much more likely to understand what you are trying to communicate.
The specificity of the link and explanation of the link and how it coheres with your broader theory about the world and interacts with the consequences of the plan are all things that strongly influence how much I am persuaded by the K. I find myself less often voting for the K in debates where the neg relies on a strong framework/prioritize rhetorical/discursive links path but would not preclude this entirely because the aff is often time pressured and poorly equipped to debate about framework and fiat.
I have found myself voting both ways in framework debates, but am usually persuaded by the benefits of clash, procedural fairness, etc. The more specific the aff is to the topic & good aff cards are things that most often lead to an aff ballot in these debates. The negative making a strong, coherent push that includes arguments that appeal to clash while providing defense that proves the topic is compatible with the affs theory are things that most often lead to a neg ballot in these debates.
I think specific strategies against these affs are interesting and good (whether that be a da/k/pic) and will reward this specific research with speaker points. I generally think if something is in the 1AC I am likely to believe there is a link to your argument, and am very persuaded by strategies that utilize the cx to pin down specificities of the 1ac advocacy and then predicate the strategy off of that. If the aff is unwilling to speak specifically about the strategy of the advocacy, I generally tend to be more persuaded by framework.
I usually am not persuaded by strategies that rely on the idea that we should destroy debate, or that extinction or death is good. I do not think there is much of a difference between "debating about death being good" and "advocating death being good" so if your strategy relies on a pivot resembling "well we don't think everyone should die but we should talk about death", it is not a good strategy to use in front of me.
I appreciate the accessibility benefits of online debate but do think it suffers from some quality deficit. If my camera is off during prep time, I have probably walked away for a number of reasons. I'll generally try to pop my camera back on when I get back to signal I have returned, and will also usually keep a headphone in to maintain awareness of when you stop prep. Just give me a sec to turn on my camera and get settled before you launch into an order or the speech. It helps me to be able to see you talking, so if you are angled to be completely hidden by your laptop, I will likely be less of a precise flow than otherwise.
I tend to lean towards conditionality being good, but would be persuaded otherwise in particularly egregious incidents.
I like when lots of quality evidence is read, and will often read your evidence (and if evidence is referenced in a cx, will usually try to find what you are referencing while it's being discussed). That being said, evidence is best paired with strong judge instruction in the rebuttals. There are instances when evidence is good enough to speak for itself, but in a debate where both sides read decent ev on an issue, I will often find myself voting for the team who tells me how and why their arguments matter more.
After hosting a bunch of tournaments in my time at UK, I am sympathetic to the pleas of tournament hosts and tabrooms. Please be on time, keep things efficient in debates, and clean up behind yourselves.
My facial expressions are likely unrelated to the things you are saying. In particular, I may come across low-energy. This doesn't mean that I am unhappy with the debate (although if I find your debating upbeat, engaging, and high-energy I will probably be a bit more likely to mirror that). Tournaments are a long-haul, I judge a lot of debates at each tournament (often every debate), and there seems to be increasingly little time afforded to restorative things like sleep or eating, so don't worry too much if I'm coming across a little sleepy.
Harris, Scott (University of Kansas)
Please add me to the email chain.
I am a critic of arguments and an educator not a policy maker. I view my role as deciding who did the better job of debating and won the arguments based on what was said in the debate. I have voted for and against just about every kind of argument imaginable. I will read evidence (including non highlighted portions).
I expect debaters to be comprehensible and I have no qualms about telling you if I can’t
understand you. I try my best to resolve a debate based on what the debaters have said in
their speeches. I try not to impose my own perspective on a debate although there is no such thing as a tabula rosa judge and some level of judge intervention is often inevitable to resolve arguments in a debate. Any argument, assumption, or theory is potentially in play. The purpose of my ballot is to say who I think won the debate not to express my personal opinion on an issue. You make arguments and I decide to the best of my ability who won the arguments based on what you said in the debate. I prefer to follow along with your speech docs to double check clarity, to make sure you are reading all of your ev, and to enhance my ability to understand your arguments.
My speaker points tend to reward smart creative arguments and strategies, smart choices in the debate, high quality evidence, the use of humor, the use of pathos, and making the debate an enjoyable experience. My points rarely go below 28 but you need to really impress me to get me into the 29-30 range. I am rarely impressed.
Absent arguments in the debate that convince me otherwise I have some default assumptions you should be aware of:
The aff should be topical and topicality is a voting issue. What it means to be topical is open for debate and for anyone who wants to build their strategy on framework you should know that I often vote aff in framework debates.
The affirmative must win a comparative advantage or an offensive reason to vote affirmative.
Presumption is negative absent a warranted reason for it to shift.
The affirmative does not need a net benefit to a permutation. The negative must win that a counterplan or critique alternative alone is better than the plan or a combination of the plan and counterplan/alternative.
Permutations are a test of competition and not an advocacy.
Teams are culpable for the ethical implications of their advocacy. This means that framework arguments on K's that say "only consequences matter" have an uphill climb with me. Means and ends are both relevant in my default assessment on critical arguments.
TLDR: You do you. I do what you tell me.
I strive to judge like a "blank slate" while recognizing that I will never actually be one. Keep this in mind as you read the rest of this paradigm.
If there is an email chain I will want to be on it. I would be glad to answer any questions you have.
Disclose as much or as little as you want to me or anyone else in the room. Either way, I am committed to making the debate rounds I judge safe and accessible.
I competed in LD in high school (2009-2013) in Wyoming and northern Colorado with some national circuit exposure.
I competed in policy at the University of Wyoming (2013-2018) and qualified to the NDT twice. I loved reading complicated courts affirmatives, bold impact turns, and Ks with specific and nuanced justifications for why they are competitive with the aff. I wish I had had the courage to go for theory in the 2AR more often. I studied (mostly analytic) philosophy and some critical disability theory to earn my bachelor's degree.
All debate is performative. I can be persuaded that one performance is contingently more valuable (ethically, aesthetically, educationally, etc.) than another, but it would be arbitrary and unethical on my part to categorically exclude any particular style.
That being said, I am not agnostic when it comes to form. An argument has a claim, a warrant, and an impact. I do not care how you give me those three things, but if you do not, then you have not made an argument and my RFD will probably reflect that. This cuts in many directions: I hate K overviews that make sweeping ontological claims and then describe implications for the case without explaining why the original claim might be true; I equally detest when anyone simply asserts that "uniqueness determines the direction of the link".
Organization matters. However, I do not think organization is synonymous with what a lot of people mean when they say "line by line". It means demonstrating a holistic awareness of the debate and effectively communicating how any given argument you are making interacts with your opponents'. Therefore, when adjudicating whether something is a "dropped argument" I will parse between (a) reasonably predictable and intelligibly executed cross-applications and (b) superficial line-by-line infractions. Giving conceptual labels to your arguments and using your opponents' language when addressing theirs can help you get on the right side of this distinction.
Evidence matters. A lot. Again, I do not mean what a lot of people mean when they talk about evidence in debate. It is about a lot more than cards. It is also about personal experience and preparation, historical consciousness, and even forcing your opponents to make a strategic concession (by the way, I flow cross-examination). I read cards only when I have to and tend to defer to what was said in the debate regarding how to interpret them and determine their quality. Thus, I will hold the 2NR/2AR to relatively high thresholds for explanation.
I flow on paper. This means I need pen time. It also magnifies the importance of organization since I cannot drag and drop cells on a spreadsheet. Because I flow the "internals" of evidence (cards or otherwise), you will benefit enormously from clarity if you are fast and will not necessarily be at a disadvantage against very fast teams if you are slow but efficient with your tag lines.
Substance: mostly agnostic.
Hate and disrespect are never conducive to education and growth. I presume that the need to disincentivize abusive speech and other behaviors overrides my desire to reward skill with a ballot, but it never hurts for debaters to remind me of why this is true if you are up to it. This includes card clipping and other ethics violations. In general, I will stop the round if I notice it on my own. Otherwise, you have two options: (1) stop the round, stake the debate on it (you may lose if you are wrong, but they will certainly lose and receive no speaker points if you are right), and let me be final arbiter or (2) keep the issue alive throughout the debate, but leave open the option to go for substance. I think this is the most fair way for me to address this as an educator, but please do not think option two gives you license to go for "a risk of an ethics violation" in the final rebuttals or to read a generic "clipping bad" shell in every one of your 1NC/2ACs. That's icky.
There is no right way to affirm the topic. There are wrong ways to affirm the topic. I can be sold on the notion that the aff did it the wrong way. I can also be convinced that the wrong way is better than the right way. It may yet be easiest to convince me that your counter-interpretation of the right way to affirm the topic is just as good as, or better than, theirs.
Theory is mis- and underutilized. You get to debate the very rules of your debate! Current conventions regarding negative fiat, for example, will inevitably make me smirk when you read "no neg fiat." Still, if you invest enough thought, before and during and after debates (not merely regurgitating somebody else's blocks at an unintelligible rate), into any theory argument I am going to be eager to vote on it.
Currently a coach and PhD student at The University of Kansas.
Add me to the chain plz and thank you DerekHilligoss@gmail.com
for college add email@example.com as well
TL;DR do what you do and do it well. Don't let my preferences sway you away from doing what you want.
The biggest thing for me is that I value good impact framing/calc. If you aren't explaining why your impacts matter more then your opponents you are leaving it up for me or the other team to decide.
Framework: Go for whatever version of framework you like but I tend to think it should interact with the aff at some level. If you give the 2NC/2NR and make no reference to the aff you will find it harder to win my ballot.
Planless affs: The one note I wanna make outside of FW notes is that you have to be able to answer the "what do you do" question no matter how silly it may seem. If I don't know what the aff does after the 1AC/CX that's gonna put you in a rough spot. I don't think this means you have to do anything but you should have a good justification for why you don't have to.
Theory: condo (probably) to a certain extent is good and counterplans should (probably) have solvency advocates. I have no strong opinions just tell me how to feel.
Topicality: limits for the sake of limits probably bad?
Counterplans: cool? Do it
Disads: The only thing I wanna note here is highlight your cards better. I don't wanna have to read 30 crappy cards to get the story of the disad and it makes it easier for the aff to win with a few solid cards.
Kritiks: Specific links go a long way. This doesn't mean it has to be exactly about the plan but your application will do better than a generic "law bad" card. Applying your theory to the aff's advantages in a way that takes out solvency will make your lives so much easier.
For the aff FW I think a well developed FW argument about legal/pragmatic engagement will do more for you than fairness/limits impacts.
If you are unclear I'll yell clear twice before I stop flowing. I'll make it apparent I'm not flowing to let you know you need to adjust still.
If you clip you will lose.
"reinsert card here"- nope :) read it- this is a communication activity not a robot activity.
I used to debate for NYU and Edgemont High School. I ran a variety of positions while debating and am generally open to voting anything that you want to run.
Email is firstname.lastname@example.org for the email chain.
Don’t be bigoted
Will follow Offense/Defense Paradigm
Mildly preference for tech over truth
Make my ballot easy to write in the 2NR/2AR
I do not judge a lot so I am not overly familiar with the topic, although I am familiar with AI.
Don’t strictly need a solvency advocate, but it does help especially for CPs with theoretical objections
I like specific links
Make sure you explain the terminology/theory behind your K – Even if I know the background behind your K I’m generally unwilling to do extra work for arguments that aren’t explained well
Generally fine with most DAs, including politics
Generally think the most important arguments you should be making are how the FW implicates case for the neg and vice versa for the aff.
I am fine with affs that are not in the direction of the resolution, but have higher threshold for justifying departure from the resolution.
No strong preference on Condo
I like topicality
Make sure to clearly articulate standards and voters
Director of Debate at Weber State University - presently
Assistant Coach at Western Washington University. 2020-2022
Graduate Assistant Coach at the University of Wyoming 2018-2020
I debated for Gonzaga University 2014-2018
Do what you do best and feel most comfortable and confident forwarding in the debate- I judge a myriad of styles and types of arguments in debates- while my paradigm gives you a sense of how I view decision-making calculus- I first and foremost view my role as a judge as an ethical educator.
Kritiks- I enjoy critical debates. Feel free to run them on both sides. I am well versed in feminist/queer, postmodern, and gender theory, although I am also familiar with other critical literature bases. The link debate is the most important part of a critique for me. Really good impact analysis does not matter if there is no link to the 1AC. I also think that performative links are valid arguments and can be used as reasons for why the permutation does not solve. I generally think the aff should get perms although can be persuaded otherwise in an instance where the aff is not about the resolution or in pure methods debates.
Role of the Ballot - I think the role of the ballot is to vote for who wins their arguments and does the better debating. If you have an argument otherwise, I will be more persuaded/default to a functionality/interpretation of how my vote works if both teams get a chance of receiving that vote. I do not find a "Role of the Ballot" claim that is to "vote for us" to be persuasive. I think it's dishonest and transparently one-sided to interpret the role of a ballot through one team's participation.
Aff framework versus the K- Your interpretation should probably say you should get to weigh your impacts vs. the K. I prefer debates about the substance of the arguments over debates that end up being exclusively about aff framework, if your framework argument ends up mooting the substance of both the aff and the K (aff solvency and alt solvency) then it becomes a messy debate that I will not enjoy adjudicating.
Performative/Non-Traditional Debates - I think the aff should be about something pertaining to the topic and recommend something be done that is different than the status quo (does NOT have to be a plan or involve the United States Federal Government). If the aff chooses to not do this, they'll have to win why the topical version of the aff can't solve for the performance/discussion that the aff began and win an impact turn to framework. In terms of impact analysis. You should be able to explain what reasonable neg ground exists versus your aff that is within the realm of topic-related research. That said, I'll still vote for an aff that is not about the topic if they win their impact turns to framework/accessibility questions.
Framework versus Performative/Non-Traditional Affs- I think that the negative either has to win that there is a ‘topical’ version of the aff that can solve for the substance and performance/discussion of the affirmative, or that their interpretation of debate can allow for better access to the solvency mechanism/ address the impacts of the affirmative. I say ‘topical’ because I am generally unpersuaded that the aff must defend the “hypothetical enactment of the plan by the USFG”, I think that the negative has to prove that the affirmative either justify an interpretation of the topic that makes it impossible to be prepared to debate this particular aff, or that the affirmative is not grounded in a methodology that changes something in the status quo or the lives/experiences of the debaters in the round. I think that the best deliberative model of debate is one in which the affirmative presents a strategy that can generate effective deliberation on a topic because it is something that is contestable and allows for a debate to occur regarding the desirability and effectiveness of two competing strategies/methods to address the affirmatives impacts/concerns.
Topicality- If the debate becomes a large T debate, please slow down so I can get the nuances and particularities of the arguments and debate. I flow on paper so keep that in mind. Limits and predictability are not impacts they are internal links. Discussing how limits and predictability impact debate/ research/ neg prep and what that means in terms of education etc. (This also goes for framework)
Theory- Generally, I think reasonable conditionality (example: 1 Kritik and 1 CP) is a good thing but conditionality bad arguments can be used strategically. I generally err neg on theory arguments that are not conditionality, but I am open to persuasion by either side of the debate.
Counterplans- I generally will vote on a counterplan if you win that you solve the aff, which means you don’t particularly need to win a big risk of your offense to win.
Disads- You need a good disad turns case argument or a case take out to be a round winning strategy. Most of the time I will filter my decision for case versus the disad debates through impact calculus.
Policy debate coach at Como Park Senior High.
CARD coach and policy debate judge at the University of Minnesota.
I am beginning to judge more events other than just policy but I have almost zero experience with other forms of debate.
Please include me on the email chain: email@example.com. Everyone gets plus .1 speaks if I'm not asked to be put on, and I'm just automatically put on the chain. Ask me any questions about my paradigm in person or via email, although I do try to update it regularly with the most important stuff.
Ks on the neg are obviously always fine and for what I think about T-USFG/FW, see the very bottom below the fairness slider. But bottom line, I don't really care what you read as long as you convince me to vote for you, I will.
Stuff related to online debating:
Don't delete analytics from the speech doc, please. I'll probably dock your speaks if I remember to. Online debate is harder to flow than in-person so it's good practice if you want me to catch everything you're saying.
Please slow down a little (especially on T and theory*) because the number of arguments I flow is rarely equal to the number of arguments the speaker actually makes, and those numbers will be much closer to each other if everyone prioritizes clarity and slowing down a bit. Don't just read this and think you're fine. Slow down, please. I know half of all judges ever have something like this in their paradigm but I'm a slower flow than average because I flow on paper.
Read a plan--------------------------x--------------Do whatever (probably at least sorta related to the topic)
Tech--------------x----------------------------Truth -- I hate myself for it, but I am kind of a truth-orientated judge in that I really don't want to vote for silly args, and the worse an arg is, the more leeway I give to answering it
Theory-------------------------------------x--------- Substance -- condo is really the only theory arg that gets to the level of "reject the team", I simply feel that most other theory args are reasons to reject the arg, not the team. Unless the negative goes for the CP/K to which the theory applies in the 2nr, it's a tough sell for me to vote on, "They read [insert abusive off-case position], they should lose".
Conditionality good--------x---------------------Conditionality bad -- this being said, I would much rather see 4-6 good off, than a 7+ mix of good and bad
States CP good (including uniformity)-----------x----------------------50 state fiat is bad
Always VTL----------------x---------------------Never VTL
Impact turn (*almost) everything-x-----------------------------I like boring debate -- to add to this, I'm huge sap for impact calc and specifically rebuttals that provide a detailed narrative of the impacts of the debate and how they interact with the other team's. Impact comparison and impact turns are often the deciding factors for me in close debates
*Almost meaning I'll vote on warming good, death good, etc. but obviously not on args like racism good or sexism good
Process CP's are cheating----------------------x---------------Best fall-back 2nr option is a cheating, plan-stealing CP
Lit determines legitimacy-------x-----------------------Exclude all suspect CPs
Yes judge kick the CP--x-------------------------------------------Judge kick is abusive -- as long as the 2nr says to kick the CP, I'm gonna kick it and just analyze the world of the squo vs the aff and I'm pretty sure there's nothing the aff can really do if condo bad isn't a thing in the round. Heck, I judged a debate where the CP was extended for 30 seconds and not kicked but I still voted neg because the neg won a large risk of a case turn. What I'm saying, is that when you are aff and the neg goes for more than just the CP with an internal NB, beating the CP doesn't equate to winning the debate outright
Presumption----------x--------------------------Never votes on presumption
"Insert this rehighlighting"---------------------x--I only read what you read
I flow on my computer ---------------------------------------x I'm gonna need to borrow some paper
I try to give out speaker points that are representative of how well you performed in the round compared to the tournament as a whole. I try to follow the process detailed here, but I often find myself handing out speaks sort of indiscriminately. Getting good speaks from me includes being respectful and making good choices in the rebuttals (smart kick outs, concessions, and flow coverage).
Clash! I like judging debates where the arguments/positions evolve in relation to one another as opposed to simply in vacuums.
Fairness is an impact---------------x--------------Fairness is only an internal link -- My threshold is usually how close your aff is to the topic in the abstract, i.e. personhood and NATO. I do feel like in the end the main goal of doing debate is to win. The activity obviously serves a ton of other purposes but at the end of each debate, one team wins, and one team loses. This doesn't mean that I think reading a planless aff is unfair and can definitely be convinced that a "fair" debate produces something bad, but it's going to be very hard to convince me that debate is not a game.
Topic education is decent for an education impact but policymaking and policy education are meh. Critical thinking skills can also be extracted from debate and critical skills about calling out state action and for revolution planning.
If you don't read a written-out advocacy statement: Impact turn framework----------x---------------------------Procedural
Debate and life aren't synonymous but I understand that many of your lives revolve heavily around debate, so I will respect any arg you go for as long as you make smart arguments to support it.
EMAIL FOR DOCS: [beau.a.larsen] @ gmail.com
They/all pronouns as long as ya nice about it!
Director of Forensics at Macalester College (July 2021-)
Wake Forest M.A. (2019-2021)
4x NDT Qualification @ University of Southern California (2015-2018)
3x NDT Elimination Round Participant (2016-2018)
2x First-round to the NDT (2017-2018)
Baby Jo Debater of the Year (2018)
CEDA Top Speaker (2018)
Rest in Peace Brian McBride (1970-2023) My coach, mentor and friend
Every coach, opponent and teammate has shaped how I judge. I love this activity and consider myself a lifer.
Please introduce yourself to me before or after the round, I like to think of myself as a judge that gets to know the debaters they judge over the course of a season/a debater's career.
I'm open to any and all modalities of arguments. Please talk about contemporary and historical events, ie, what is going on in the world around us and how we got here.
The nukes topic fascinates me -- persuade me about how I should feel and ideally, how we should all motivate. I love and flow cross examination so BRING IT UP IN YOUR SPEECHES. Please engage and challenge opp evidence and flag lines for me in speeches and docs.
I like FAST PACED CX and slightly SLOWER speeches. Gear up on your speed. Well timed and boldly stated ethos moments will give you good points.
Updated for the 2022-2023
I debated at Texas in the late nineties/early aughts. I coach at Boston College; but I'm also a full time attorney and was recently elected to serve in the Maine House of Representatives (so yes, I'm quite literally a policy maker, but keep reading). I like smart and strategic debates. I feel like many debaters are focused too heavily on the trees to the detriment of their ability to focus on the forest, and others are so focused on the forest that they end up losing sight of the trees. I really enjoy debates in which your granular and deep knowledge of the trees allows you to explain the state of the forest. 2NRs and 2ARs who are willing to cut one or some of their trees down to benefit the overall health of the forest, are often most credible and will be rewarded. I've officially tortured the metaphor, so let's move on.
Online debate: I'm adjusting to it. My threshold for verbal clarity is higher, simply because the quality of sound that comes through the mic is worse than it is than if we were in person. Be clear. As always, but more acutely in the online context, it is helpful if you start slower and work your way up. During cross-examination, interrupting each other is super annoying because I can't hear anyone. Even more annoying is filibustering your answer to a question knowing that it's difficult for the other person to interrupt you. I have my eye on speaker points if that happens. I understand that internet quality sometimes precludes you from turning your camera on. I am trying to control for my bias that I'd prefer you turn your camera on so I can visually process what I'm hearing. But I acknowledge that bias exists.
General Stuff: I flow well and on paper. I want to be on your email chain, but I'm not going to look at it until the end of the round. That it exists in a document and on my laptop doesn't mean I will necessarily read it. My flow, not the speech document, will determine what arguments are in the debate. I find that, when debating in front of me, debaters who don't flow have very little idea how to effectively compete against those who do.
Your evidence will only be given weight if it was sufficiently explained and debated.
Spewing through pre-canned overviews or explanations at the rate you would card text is a waste of your time -- nobody is flowing it.
None of this is as an endorsement of one substantive type of debate over another. I have seen T debates, theory debates, K debates, C/P D/A Debates, and case debates I have loved. I have seen T debates, theory debates, K debates, C/P D/A debates, and case debates I have hated. Accordingly, my preference is that you make no adjustments to your preferred method or choice of argument and that I adjudicate the round based on you justifying why that it is preferable to any other proposed by the other team. The key to this is that YOU MUST WIN, which is best done through impact analysis. Absent impact analysis, I will unfortunately be forced to see things my way. If your 2NR or 2AR lacks a moment (or many) in which you talk about why you win, you will likely lose. So, the remainder of this is my way of informing you about my defaults, all of which only come into play if you have not effectively done the above.
Topicality: Competing interpretations makes the most sense to me. However, interpretations that are not meaningfully grounded in the words of the resolution are not, to me, T interpretations. Your interpretation should have net benefits; I feel that the limits debate (either way) usually makes a pretty good one. My senior year (now 17 years ago, I am old) I went for T in about 50% of my 2NRs. I think that “kritikal affs” that say you don’t have to be topical are being lazy. (preface: this next sentence may come off with a certain “back in my day tone" because as we have established, I am old) My partner and I ran an ironic affirmative on the Africa Topic, of course many people went for T, we beat the vast majority of those teams because we had a smart counter-interpretation. The topic does not constrain creativity, being topical doesn’t either. If the neg’s interpretation precludes creativity, doesn’t that seem like an argument against their interpretation rather than the notion that one should be topical? To presume that your aff is already excluded by the resolution is silly. The resolution is a meaningless text only given meaning by being debated. Topicality debates are the opportunity to do that. Consider the rant over, but what you should take away is I love good T debates as rare as they are.
Theory: I’ll vote on it (see Topicality above to see how best to frame it), but would prefer not to. I tend to err negative on counterplan theory, but can be convinced otherwise particularly with the proliferation of multiple counterplan 1NCs.
"Framework": I understand the strategic convenience of calling these arguments "framework" and dealing with them on one flow. Nevertheless, I find it remarkably sad that we are not (after several decades now) capable of recognizing that there is value in the discussion of what happens in the hypothetical circumstances that the Federal Government passes plan and value in the discussion that there are problematic presuppositions that may inform the formation of that plan. I can understand that there is no such thing as fiat, neither I nor anyone else is mistaking you for the President, Congress, or the Supreme Court; however, that does not mean that there is no reason to evaluate the consequences of what happens if the Federal Government does something. Conversely, this does not mean that the ethical ramifications of ideas or words should not also be discussed. In essence, if made in the realm of fairness, ground, and limits, these are better housed under the banner of Topicality. If these are arguments as to how I should evaluate different types of impacts, well it's seldom that anyone wins a 100% victory on that question, and you should just have the debate -- one you will hopefully be having anyway -- about how I should weigh impacts.
Disads: Love em, Uniqueness is important, but not determinative. Yes, it’s hard to win zero risk of the disad, but propensity is as important (your job to debate this) if not more important (again, I’ll leave that to you all in the debate) than magnitude.
Counterplans: Wonderful. But I benefit from a discussion early on of what the neg considers to be the net benefits to the Counterplan. It usually turns out to be the Aff who should be forcing this discussion in cross-ex to protect themselves from late-breaking 2NR claims. It's hard for me to fault the negative for it being late-breaking when the Aff doesn't initiate the discussion. I find multiple counter-plan strategies are more confusing that strategically beneficial, but hey, if you think you're good at it, have at it. I find that Counterplan theory is a lost art form. Yes, I coach Boston College. No, I'm not Katsulas, I'm not anti-Conditionality. But, I find debaters bizarrely unwilling to use hybrid theory arguments (e.g. multiple conditional alts bad/conditional agent counterplans bad/conditional pics bad, etc.) to hedge or theoretically justify some creativity in your permutations.
Kritiks: Went for them very frequently as a Debater and coached and coach them frequently as well. That said, I think far too much time is spent discussing esoteric academic discussion than is done applying it to what we're debating. At the end of the day, your self-satisfaction in being able to talk abstractly about what your authors say will be substantially less useful than your ability to apply what they say directly to the resolution or the aff. Accordingly, I prefer when you make your links specific to the aff (sometimes well done by making arguments on the case debate) and articulate more than just some ethereal concept as the alternative (however i will vote negative for a well articulated reason that the kritik argument turns case). When you do not do this, the Permutation often looks very attractive to me. In addition, it pays to read “disads” to the permutation and for the aff to read “disads” to the alt that do not link to the permutation. See above regarding counterplans as to the absence of theory arguments against alternatives.
Kritikal affs should engage the resolution. My default is that they should be Topical. Again, I am quite open to compelling arguments to the contrary and as to what constitutes a topical engagement of the resolution. As with anything, the debate is going to come down to you telling me compelling reasons why your ideas are better than the other team's. I'm not really cool with, I read a poem…it was about potato bugs of the East Antilles, poems are good, I win. I do not think that because you read something before the other team does, you win. Debate is about debating ideas; I do not care HOW you debate those ideas so long as you do so and do so better than the other team.
Case Debate: No excuse not to have something to say on case. Make what you say interacts well with your off-case strategy. Be able to distinguish between the separate case arguments you make, but also be able to understand their interaction with other case arguments and off case positions.
Do not be a jerk to the other team or your partner, I love a little well placed trash talk especially if it's funny, but don't be a jerk (it's your job to figure out where the line between these two is). Do not steal prep time. I'm pretty nice, so if you have any questions ask me.
Been involved with the game in some way since 2008, do as you wish and I shall evaluate it in the way that I feel requires the least interference from myself.
Put me on the chain please: firstname.lastname@example.org, for the most part I do not look at the documents other than some cursory glances during prep time if a card intrigues me. I still may ask for specific cards at the end of the debate so I do not need to sort through each document, I appreciate it in advance.
I believe that debate is a communication activity with an emphasis on persuasion. If you are not clear or have not extended all components of an argument (claim/warrant/implication) it will not factor into my decision.
I flow on paper, it is how I was taught and I think it helps me retain more information and be more present in debates. Given that I would appreciate yall slowing down and giving me pen time on counterplan texts and theory arguments (as well as permutations).
The most important thing in debates for me is to establish a framework for how (and why) I should evaluate impacts. I am often left with two distinct impacts/scenarios at the end of the debate without any instruction on how to assess their validity vis-à-vis one another or which one to prioritize. The team that sets this up early in the debate and filtering the rebuttals through it often gets my ballot. I believe that this is not just true of “clash” debates but is (if not even more) an important component of debates where terminal impacts are the same but their scenarios are not (ie two different pathways to nuclear war/extinction).
While I think that debate is best when the affirmative is interacting with the resolution in some way I have no sentiment about how this interaction need to happen nor a dogmatic stance that 1AC’s have a relation to the resolution. I have voted for procedural fairness and have also voted for the impact turns. Despite finding myself voting more and more for procedural fairness I am much more persuaded by fairness as an internal link rather than terminal impact. Affirmative’s often beat around the bush and have trouble deciding if they want to go for the impact turn or the middle ground, I think picking a strategy and going for it will serve you best. A lot of 2NRs squander very good block arguments by not spending enough time (or any) at the terminal impact level, please don’t be those people. I also feel as if most negative teams spend much time reading definitions in the 1NC and do not utilize them later in the debate even absent aff counter definitions which seems like wasted 1NC time. While it does not impact how I evaluate the flow I do reward teams with better speaker points when they have unique and substantive framework takes beyond the prewritten impact turn or clash good blocks that have proliferated the game (this is also something you should be doing to counter the blocktastic nature of modern framework debates).
It would behove many teams and debaters to extend their evidence by author name in the 2NR/2AR. I tend to not read a large amount of evidence and think the trend of sending out half the 1AC/1NC in the card document is robbing teams of a fair decision, so narrowing in and extending the truly relevant pieces of evidence by author name increases both my willingness to read those cards and my confidence that you have a solid piece of evidence for a claim rather than me being asked to piece together an argument from a multitude of different cards.
Prep time ends when the email has been sent (if for some reason you still use flash drives then when the drive leaves the computer). In the past few years so much time is being spent saving documents, gathering flows, setting up a stand etc. that it has become egregious and ultimately feel limits both decision time and my ability to deliver criticism after the round. Limited prep is a huge part of what makes the activity both enjoyable and competitive. I said in my old philosophy that policing this is difficult and I would not go out of my way to do it, however I will now take the extra time beyond roadmaps/speech time into account when I determine speaker points.
I find myself frustrated in debates where the final rebuttals are only about theory. I do not judge many of these debates and the ones I have feel like there is an inevitable modicum of judge intervention. While I have voted for conditonality bad several times, personally my thought on condo is "don't care get better."
Plan-text writing has become a lost art and should invite negative advocacy attrition and/or substantive topicality debates.
Feel free to email or ask any questions before or after the debate. Above all else enjoy the game you get to play and have fun.
Competitor-- Winston Churchill (2008-2012)
Past: Jenks (2012-2015) Reagan (2015-2017) Winston Churchill (2018-2023)
Currently: Texas (2017-present)
Molly Martin - they/them - email@example.com
Email chain: Always. Please don't use PocketBox or Speech Drop. (Subject Line: Tournament - Round - Aff vs Neg)
Graduate student at the University of Pittsburgh. Debated for C.K. McClatchy (14-18) and Gonzaga University (18-22). Mostly read and went for policy affs in college but my research involves critical literature. Regardless of the style of argument you want to make, I care more about an interesting strategy and well-executed decision-making in rebuttals than what type of strategy you choose.
Prioritize clarity over speed. I have auditory processing issues. Please avoid starting your speech at max speed - work up to that speed. Slow down more for me on analytics, topicality, theory, and case overviews; annunciation is important.
Tech over truth, for the most part - still gotta tell me why things matter. For example, you need to tell me why dropped arguments matter in my decision-making process.
I look for judge instruction, direct clash, evidence comparison throughout a debate, extension of and reference to warrants (beyond the tag), and clear impact analysis/calculus/comparison to help me decide a debate.
While defense is important (and wins championships), I find that rebuttals that sound or are too defensive miss the boat for me in controlling the debate.
I believe that debaters should want to control the perception of their arguments as much as possible so that judges should not have to read evidence after the debate, and that debaters should attempt to write as much of the judge's ballot as possible. While I will read cards needed, my preference is to vote off your explanations of the evidence over the author's - just don't rely on the card doc to do work for you.
Pet peeves: top-heavy overviews, not timing yourselves, stealing prep, excessive CX interruptions, rudeness to your opponents, teammates, or me. I think respect should be shown from the moment you meet your opponent to the end of the decision.
Case debate -- do it. The best 1NCs on case have analytics that indict affirmative evidence/solvency claims AND evidence. Follow a consistent format/formula to extend your evidence.
Off-case arguments: Links should directly implicate the affirmative or be contextual to the aff, whether it's on a DA or a kritik. I like 2NC/1NRs with multiple diversified links to the aff, use CX moments, and 2NRs that make choices that best tell the full story of the plan and why it is a bad idea.
Affirmative teams should actively use the aff in responding to off-case positions. I find that high-school debates I judge that go for the kritik often do not talk about the aff nearly as much as you should. Links should be predicated on some consequence to the plan, whether it be epistemic or direct.
Turns case arguments are especially important in front of me. I want to know how impacts in debate interact.
The best extension of kritiks use examples. What can your theory or thesis be applied to?
Explain, in detail, your permutations. The 2AR is too late to start that. I find it helpful when include info about net benefits to the permutation.
K Affs: I like debates with at least a tangential tie to the resolution, but I will still evaluate affs that don't. I do think not being in the direction of the topic makes negative arguments about limits more compelling. Have reasons why your project is key to resolving specific impacts. What does solvency mean to your project and what role does debate have in it?
Framework: I prefer debates over clash and predictable limits or skills and deliberation over debates about fairness. explanation will matter if you're doing down the fairness route.
Use framework as a mechanism to engage with the aff - how can your interpretation speak to and enable debates about what the affirmative is discussing? Have examples of what debate looks like under your topic.
I hated judge kick as a debater - I encourage all aff teams to make no judge kick arguments. My preference is that the negative mentions if I can judge kick or not in the block and in the 2NR - I feel it is judge intervention otherwise.
If you are winning theory and you are winning substance, go for substance. If you go for theory do not make me evaluate anything on/about the case.
I will evaluate theory as is debated in the round, and will put aside any preferences I have. Conditionality is not my favorite argument, but will vote on it if debated well/if it is dropped.
Slow down on your theory blocks. A good final rebuttal will break away from pre-written blocks to explain how their interpretation resolves their opponent's offense.
Please feel free to reach out with questions before the round if there is something I didn't include. Happy to talk about debating in college for any high school teams I judge.
Alex McVey - Director of Debate at Kansas State University
Yes Email chain - j.alexander.mcvey at gmail
Online things - Strong preference for Camera On during speeches and CX. I'm willing to be understanding about this if it's a tech barrier or there are other reasons for not wanting to display. But it does help me a ton to look at faces when people are speaking.
If I'm physically at a tournament and judging a debate with one online and one in-person team, I'm always going to try to be in the same room as the in-person team, if the tournament permits. Within those parameters, Zoom teams should let me know if there's anything I can do to make myself more present for them in that space. I respect what online debate has done to increase access for some teams, but I value in-person connection with debaters too much to go judge from an empty classroom or hotel room.
I flow on paper. I need pen time. Clarity is really important to me. I'll always say "clear" if I think you're not being clear, at least 1-2 times. If you don't respond accordingly, the debate probably won't end well for you.
I tend to be expressive when I judge debates. Nodding = I'm getting it, into your flow, not necessarily that it's a winner. Frowny/frustrated face = maybe not getting it, could be a better way to say it, maybe don't like what you're doing. I would take some stock in this, but not too much: I vote for plenty things that frustrate me while I'm hearing them executed, and vote down plenty of things that excite me when first executed. All about how it unfolds.
The more I judge debates, the less ev I'm reading, the more I'm relying on 2nr vs 2ar explanation and impact calculus. If there are cards that you want me to pay attention to, you should call the card out by name in the last rebuttal, and explain some of its internal warrants. Debaters who make lots of "even if" statements, who tell me what matters and why, who condense the debate down to the most important issues, and who do in depth impact calculus seem to be winning my ballots more often than not.
Debating off the flow >>> Debating off of speech docs (ESPECIALLY IN REBUTTALS). I'd say a good 25% of my decisions involve the phrase "You should be more flow dependent and less speech doc dependent." Chances are very little that you've scripted before the debate began is useful for the 2nr/2ar.
My experience and expertise is definitely in kritik debate, but I judge across the spectrum and have been cutting cards on both K and Policy sides of the legal personhood topic. Run what you're good at. Despite my K leaning tendencies, I’m comfortable watching a good straight up debate.
Don't assume I've cut cards in your niche research area though. I often find myself lost in debates where people assume I know what some topical buzzword, agency, or acronym is.
Theoretical issues: Blippy, scatter-shot theory means little, well-developed, well-impacted theory means a lot. Again, pen time good.
I have no hard and set rules about whether affs do or don't have to have plans. Against planless/non-topical affs, I tend to think topicality arguments are generally more persuasive than framework arguments. Or rather, I think a framework argument without a topicality argument probably doesn't have a link. I'm not sure what the link is to most "policy/political action good" type framework arguments if you don't win a T argument that says the focus of the resolution has to be USFG policy. I think all of these debates are ultimately just a question of link, impact, and solvency comparison.
I tend to err on truth over tech, with a few exceptions. Dropping round-winners/game-changers like the permutation, entire theoretical issues, the floating PIC, T version of the aff/do it on the neg, etc... will be much harder (but not impossible) to overcome with embedded clash. That being said, if you DO find yourself having dropped one of these, I'm open to explanations for why you should get new arguments, why something else that was said was actually responsive, etc... It just makes your burden for work on these issues much much more difficult.
Be wary of conflating impacts, especially in K debates. For example, If their impact is antiblackness, and your impact is racism, and you debate as if those impacts are the same and you're just trying to win a better internal link, you're gonna have a bad time.
I intuitively don't agree with "No perms in a method debate" and "No Plan = No Perm" arguments. These arguments are usually enthymematic with framework; there is an unstated premise that the aff did something which skews competition to such a degree that it justifies a change in competitive framework. Just win a framework argument. That being said, I vote for things that don't make intuitive sense to me all the time.
I like debate arguments that involve metaphors, fiction, stories, and thought experiments. What I don't understand is teams on either side pretending as if a metaphor or thought experiment is literal and defending or attacking it as such.
A nested concern with that above - I don't really understand a lot of these "we meets" on Framework that obviously non-topical affs make. I/E - "We're a discursive/affective/symbolic vesting of legal rights and duties" - That... doesn't make any sense. You aren't vesting legal rights and duties, and I'm cool with it, just be honest about what the performance of the 1ac actually does. I think Neg teams give affs too much leeway on this, and K Affs waste too much time on making these nonsensical (and ultimately defensive) arguments. If you don't have a plan, just impact turn T. You can make other defensive args about why you solve topic education and why you discuss core topic controversies while still being honest about the fact that you aren't topical and impact turn the neg's attempt to require you to be such.
RIP impact calculus. I'd love to see it make a comeback.
RIP performance debates that actually perform. My kingdom for a performance aff that makes me feel something.
Affs are a little shy about going for condo bad in front of me. I generally think Condo is OK but negatives have gotten a bit out of control with it. I'm happy to vote for flagrant condo proliferation if the neg justifies it. I just don't think affs are making negs work hard enough on these debates.
Negs are a little shy about making fun of 1ac construction in front of me. Ex: K affirmatives that are a random smattering of cards that have little to do with one another. Ex: Policy affs where only 2 cards talk about the actual plan and the rest are just genero impact cards. I feel like negative's rarely ever press on this, and allow affirmatives to get away with ludicrous 2AC explanations that are nearly impossible to trace back to the cards and story presented in the 1ac. More 1nc analytical arguments about why the aff just doesn't make sense would be welcome from this judge.
In a similar vein, many affirmative plans have gotten so vague that they barely say anything. Negatives should talk about this more. Affs should write better plans. Your plan language should match the language of your solvency advocate if you want me to grant you solvency for what is contained in said evidence. I'm going to be trigger happy for "your plan doesn't do anything" until teams start writing better plans.
Debaters should talk more about the lack of quality the other team's evidence and the highlighting of that evidence in particular. If you've highlighted down your evidence such that it no longer includes articles (a/an/the/etc...) in front of nouns, or is in other ways grammatically incoherent due to highlighting, and get called out on it, you're likely to not get much credit for that ev with me.
Be kind to one another. We're all in this together.
Whitney Young ‘15
University of Kentucky ‘19
Cornell Law '23
Former WY and UK coach; Officially not coaching anymore and just in debate till my job starts. This means that I have less topic knowledge than normal and you should not assume I know what your aff is or will know what those acronyms you just threw out stand for. When in doubt, invest more time in explaining your argument.
Add me to the email chain- Jacindarivas@gmail.com
My name is Jacinda (Juh-sin-duh) so call me that instead of judge.
I will reward smart teams that can effectively and efficiently communicate their arguments to me. Engaging with your opponent, having a well-thought out strategy, and demonstrating that you’re doing consistent, hard work is what this activity is about.
Please be nice. I am not very responsive to raising voices/yelling.
No one ENJOYS clash debates but I end up judging quite a few. I really do believe that affs should have a tie to the topic and should be in the direction of the topic. I am not the judge for an aff that has a couple cards that say a theory and then pretend to say something about the topic. I also believe that debate is an inherently good activity so indicting the entirety of the activity we participate in is not great for me. I think this matters a lot for the way some teams answer framework so be cognizant of this. The only thing that my ballot decides is the winner.
Links should be causal, specific and about the plan. They NEED to be contextualized to what the aff actually did. I have too often judged debates where a team presents a theory of the world but have not explained what the aff has done to implicate that. Explanation is key. That applies to all Ks cause if you are just spitting jargon at me and the other team, you aren’t gonna have a good time. I am not persuaded by arguments that the aff just doesn’t get fiat.
Love them. Obviously better the more specific to the aff they are. I default to judge kick unless expressly informed not to.
There can be zero risk of a DA
Conditionality is good.
You can insert a re-highlighting of a card- you shouldn’t have to waste time re-reading a card if they suck at research
Ethics violations (ex. Clipping, a card being cut in the middle of the paragraph, etc.) should just have the debate staked on it. It is a bad form of education and should be rejected. No point in drawing it out.
Further questions- email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
"Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world." - Arthur Schopenhauer
I debated at Brophy College Prep and then debated at Gonzaga University.
I now coach at Gonzaga in Spokane, WA.
Everything under this are my defaults but obviously any argument that is contrary to any of these override my presuppositions. I'll try not to intervene to the best of my ability.
I don't like when teams read evidence from debate coaches. It is absurd and self-referential.
Tech over truth
I'll call for ev, but only if it is a key part of the debate or I have been told to look at it. I put a lot of stock into the quality of evidence when deciding debates.
I default to reject the arg for everything except conditionality unless told otherwise.
Awesome strategic moves will be rewarded.
For the love of Przemek Karnowski, please don't cheat.
I'm not particularly expressive, but it doesn't mean I hate your argument, I'm just thinking to myself.
Keep your shoes on in the round.
Read warrants please. I will reward fantastic ev. Quality outweighs quantity. Use spin and compare your evidence to theirs.
I do tend to default to less change and think that there is such thing as zero risk of the aff. Using very smart case defense arguments is awesome. Internal link defense and solvency arguments are, in my opinion, underused. That makes me sad. So please use them.
I'm a huge theory nerd so I'm down with being convinced something is competitive. HOWEVER, I do think that a lot of counterplans that are commonly run are not competitive. Granted, I ran Reg Neg and Consult Russia a lot, and I understand why they are necessary sometimes, but I will reward case specific counterplans with net benefits that justify the status quo. To be clear: Artificial net benefits be dumb, yo. Counterplans should have solvency advocates--preferably normative one--which will go a long way in defending the theoretical legitimacy of the advocacy.
Against big stick affs, don't read stupid PICs like "the" or "should" because then I will cry. And I am an ugly crier.
I won't kick a conditional CP in the 2NR unless I'm explicitly told to in the debate.
For politics, gotta have the goods evidence-wise.
Political capital key cards should say that political capital is key.
I think that an aff shooting apart the internal link chain of a stupid scenario is sufficient.
I would really like it if your DA was an actual opportunity cost to the plan.
Link controls direction of uniqueness.
I exclusively went for the K almost all of college, so I know a lot of the literature. I've read a lot of Foucault, Baudrillard, Nietzsche and Deleuze but I won't pretend I know all K authors equally. Please explain it in relation to the aff, not just in high theory terms.
I don't think I'm the federal government. I am a sleepy coach judging a debate. However, I can be persuaded differently by args made in the debate.
Getting to weigh the aff is distinct from a "role of the ballot" argument because Role of the ballot determines how/what I am voting on or evaluating.
I love highly technical K debate ie. LINE BY LINE and clash.
Well researched and case specific Ks will make me smile.
I really do enjoy theory debates if it is delivered at a rate consistent with the arguments. For example, if you are saying conditionality is bad in the 1AR don't speed through it because it is difficult to flow in its entirety. I will vote on unconditionality good, or 5 conditional CPs good. Debate is debate. If a theory violation is well impacted and explained, I will vote on it.
I default to competing interpretations unless told to evaluate it differently. I love when people read a lot of cards on tea, or have a hyper specific topicality argument. I evaluate it like a DA, so impacting things such as limits and ground is important.
Framework vs K affs:
I'm down to listen to really anything, and I was usually on the side of the team answering framework for most of my career. That being said, I really really enjoy framework debates. I think that "no Ks" isn't very convincing, but there should probably some agreed upon stasis point. This doesn't mean you need to defend the hypothetical implementation of plan in front of me, but if the other team wins that fiat is a good model of education, I will vote on it.
*Briefly updated before 2022 season
Debaters should have the ability to argue about what the terms of the debate are and how that relates to my decision. I prefer judging debates where the competitors are invested in their arguments, whatever those might be.
It is very rare in the debates I’ve judged that one team loses every argument on the flow. Consequently, it often seems going for a few less arguments improves the quality of the debating for both sides. Most debates tend to be decided in terms of how well either team characterizes each other’s options and framing what matters. At the top of your final rebuttal, please clearly prioritize how I should evaluate the debate. I love when debaters give me a roadmap of what's going to happen and then make it happen.
Prep time only goes until you’re done prepping your speech, which means email time doesn't count against you. Please always include me on your email chain. Sometimes in cross-x when people are asking questions about evidence, I like to be able to look at the cards as well.
I'm pretty sympathetic that the transition to online debate is hard for many people and not the same as doing it in person. I'll try to do my best to make sure the rounds go smoothly.
I am better at flowing if I can maintain eye-contact with the person speaking. If you need to have your camera off for connection issues / personal reasons, I totally understand.
I spend most of my time at the end of the debate trying to decide who won and what I would have needed from the other team to win the debate or general commentary about the debate. While I’m filling out the ballot, I spend a few seconds trying to decide speaker points. I don’t have a static starting point for assigning or categorizing speakers, but try to decide how well the speakers used / responded during cross-x, whether a decision made by one of the speakers uniquely helped improve/hurt the teams chances of winning and how well the speakers brought together the debate in their final rebuttals.
I take notes during cross-x and enjoy when debaters get strategic concessions that are used in their speeches.
Argument related comments:
- Counterplans generally require a solvency advocate. This can be aff evidence or neg evidence.
- Critiques may not need to have an alternative to be competitive with the aff, but I will not judge kick an alt (or counterplan) for you unless the framing in the 2NR justifies that option.
- I often find it insufficient to read a hodgepodge of cards or arguments that “critique the squo” and call it an affirmative. Good affs have compelling methods, approaches to the space, or defenses of the resolution.
- In all debates but especially K aff verse K debates, links need impacts / clear internal links. The negative can win a link and still lose the debate if it’s unclear why that link “matters”.
- Competing methodologies is too often left as a buzz phrase that does not establish why the aff should not have a permutation. Similarly, asserting there is a permutation that is advantageous, does not explain why I should allow the aff to access that option. In either case, having a bit of depth goes a long way to win whether the aff should or should not have a perm.
Part of my responsibility as the judge is to make the debate accessible. If there is something I can do to help with that – please let me know. If you don’t feel like disclosing then you’re welcome to email me (address above).
1- Clipping cards is punishable with a loss and 0 speaker points. I do not feel that I need a debater to initiate a clipping challenge, as an educator I feel I have a responsibility to monitor against cheating.
2- I value very highly the safety for ALL competitors to engage in this activity, so please be considerate of others. Making arguments with sexist, racist, ableist, and other exclusionary language can be especially harmful for people in the activity.
3- Please make sure you ask your opponents what pronouns they use. Misgendering is a serious issue.
4- Stealing prep time
5- Reading conditional arguments that clearly and unquestionably contradict
6- Repeating that an argument was conceded- especially if it clearly was not
7- Asking cross-x questions that go nowhere in developing the strategy or understanding of the debate.
8- Don’t be disrespectful to the people who host tournaments.
I studied philosophy and sociology as an undergraduate, communication at UNLV for an MA, and now communication at U-Iowa for a PhD.
3 years of debate at Millard South High School
4 years of debate at Concordia College – Moorhead
2 years coaching at University of Nevada- Las Vegas
5 years as a graduate assistant coach at the University of Iowa and 1st year as the Debate Coach at Iowa
I do my best to enter the round tabula rasa, as they say. The rules are all made up, and I am growing senile, forgetting what they are. So teach me, educate me, and share with me what matters.
I am eager to be persuaded, and one of my favorite things about judging debates is seeing the great stories emerge from each respective debater. I strongly believe in the importance of the core skills- clarity of argument, refutation, identifying logical inconsistencies, comparing evidence, assessing author qualifications, presenting well-researched arguments, ingenuity, ownership of ideas, being present in chaos, engaging in tough debates rather than spreading away, and so on. Remember, you, and you alone, are responsible for what you say in a debate round. You should take great care in deciding what that will be.
***PLEASE, I BEG YOU, if nothing else, read my note about speed/clarity!!! This issue is paramount in online debate!***
"Accept that you're a pimple and try to keep a lively sense of humor about it. That way lies grace - and maybe even glory." - Tom Robbins
Hello! I'm Skye. I graduated from Concordia College where I debated on their policy team for 4 years. I am a CEDA scholar and 2019 NDT participant. In high school, I moved around a lot and have, at some point, participated in every debate format. I have a degree in English Literature and Global Studies with a minor in Women and Gender Studies.
I have experience reading, coaching, & judging both trad policy arguments and Ks.
I have been coaching going on 3 years and judging for 6. I am currently the head policy coach at Wayzata HS in Wayzata, MN. I occasionally help out the Harker School in San Jose, CA and UMN debate in Minneapolis, MN. My full time job is at the Minnesota Urban Debate League, where I am serving my second Americorps VISTA service year as the Community Debate Liaison.
I love debate and I have loved taking on an educator role in the community. I take education very seriously, but I try to approach debates with compassion and mirth, because I think everyone benefits from it. I try to be as engaged and helpful as I can while judging, and I am excited and grateful to be part of your day!
My email is email@example.com for email chains. If you have more questions after round, feel free to reach out :)
Top 3 Notes!
1. I FLOW ON PAPER AND HAVE POOR HEARING. I am OK with spreading, I think speed makes for much more in depth and rigorous debates, but with great speed comes great responsibility…
- please use a microphone in a headset/headphones if you have the tech, the laptop mics also pick up echoes and it makes it way harder than it needs to be for my ears
- please send out analytics if you are at all willing
- please send out marked docs at the end of your speech
- please SIGN POST & give me 1 second to move onto the next flow
- please use different intonation and sign posting to indicate you are going onto the next argument on the flow to give me the cue to finish up and move along with you so I can keep an organized flow. Not all speeches will be organized the same way, but if I know where to put things so they line up, then we are all in a better place.
- In the 2A/NC & rebuttals, spreading your way through analytics at MAX SPEED will not help you, because I won't be able to write it all down, or even really process the very dense argumentation and smart things you are saying.
If it gets to the RFD, and I feel like my flow doesn’t incapsulate the debate well because you did not accommodate me, I am very sorry for all of us, and I just hate it. I am not afraid to tell you I did not get everything or missed something. To me, that is on the debater, not the judge. There are way too many people in this activity that like to pretend they can hear every word no matter what. I am not one of those people. This is still a communication activity, and I earnestly believe the debaters should keep that in mind.
2. When it is time for the RFD, I go to framework first. If any framework arguments were extended in the rebuttals, I will reach a conclusion about who wins what and use that to dictate my decision making. I will always do this, without fail, I promise you. If there aren'y any, or the debaters were unclear, I will default to a very classic policy debate style cost-benefit analysis.
3. I default to evaluating debates from the point of tech/line by line, but arguments that were articulated with a warrant, a reason you are winning them/comparison to your opponents’ answers, and why they matter for the debate will significantly outweigh those that don’t.
"tag teaming cross ex": sure, just know that if you don't answer any CX questions OR cut your partner off, it will likely affect your speaks.
Clash debates, K aff: Fairness is probably not your best option for terminal impact, but just fine if articulated as an internal link to education. Education is very significant to me, that is why I am here. I think limits are generally good. I think the best K affs debate from the “core” or “center” of the topic, and have a clear model of debate to answer framework with. So the side that best illustrates their model of debate and its educational value while disproving the merits of their opponents’ is the side that wins to me.
Clash debates, K on the neg: As I’ve mentioned previously,framework will really guide my decision, so I encourage debaters to invest time there. The links are really important to me, especially giving an impact to that link. I think case debate is slept on by K debaters. I have recently started thinking of K strat on the negative as determined by what generates uniqueness in any given debate: the links? The alt? Framework? Both/all?
K v. K: Framework, friends, framework. Without framework we are but scurvy-ridden sailors in a sea of K goo. It may be helpful to know that I think of perms as a test of the links/competition, and not so much as an advocacy.
Ks, general:I feel that it can be easy for debaters to lose their K and by the end of the debate, I’m not sure what critical analysis actually happened in the round.No alt needed if you're worried about that, as long as there is framework/framing that supports it. I also think situating your K in/to the context of debate clarifies things for me quite a bit.
Condo/Theory: I am not opposed to voting on condo bad, but please read it as a PROCEDURAL, with an interp, violation, and standards. Anything else just becomes a mess. The same applies to any theory argument. I approach it all thinking, “What do we want debates to be like? What norms do we want to set?”
T: Will vote on T, please see theory and clash v. K aff sections for more insight, I think of these things in much the same way.
Plans/policy v K: Although I am personally ideologically predisposed to critical arguments in the ~real world~, I increasingly do not feel this is the case in debate. I also think there is an artificial polarization of k vs. Policy ideologies in debate; these things are not so incompatible as we seem to believe. Policy and K arguments are all the same under the hood to me, I see things as links, impacts, etc.; these worlds are not so polarized to me. I do think it is a good idea to clue me into what all your acronyms, initialisms, and topic jargon means, though.
policy, general:I am a simple soul here. I like refutation, LBL, evidence analysis, and collapsing down in rebuttals. You know, good debate.
LD, random arguments about wearing shoes or whatever: Please don't read ridiculous things that benefit no one educationally, that is an uphill battle for you.
Read no cards-----------x------------------------Read all the cards
Conditionality good---------------x---------------Conditionality bad
States CP good-------------------------x---------States CP bad
Federalism DA good---------------------------x--Federalism DA bad
Politics DA good for education --------------------------x---Politics DA not good for education
Fairness is a thing----------------------------x--Delgado 92
Try or die------------------------------------x-----What's the opposite of try or die
Clarityxxx--------------------------------------------Srsly who doesn't like clarity
Presumption----------x----------------------------Never votes on presumption
Resting grumpy face-------------------------x----Grumpy face is your fault
CX about impacts----------------------------x----CX about links and solvency
AT: ------------------------------------------------------x-- A2:
TLDR: Do whatever you do best, don't be afraid to try new things, and have fun. SPEAK CLEARLY no matter how quickly. Tell me what to write down. I need to know how your alternative works--how it works in the material world. I like the game of debate and value the ethos of good and fair debating. I like to reward topic research. Be a good person.
Who are you, Matt Stannard?
High school and college policy debater for 7-ish years. I was a full-time debate coach, assistant director and director for 16 years. I then went to law school and graduated with my Juris Doctorate and spent a few years as a full-time organizing consultant. Then, back to debate: I'm currently a coach, summer institute instructor, and frequent judge.
What are some important things to keep in mind about how you view debate?
Policy, critical, and procedural debate are of roughly equal value. I am not the state. Life is good, the topic is good, topic research is good. Debate should be challenging but fair. I won't vote for classist, racist, heteropatriarchal or sexist, ageist, ableist, or colonialist arguments. Those are ethical limits, but I will and often do vote for arguments I simply intellectually disagree with.
I don’t like to read a huge amount of evidence after debates, so the more you tell me during the debate, the less chance I’ll reconstruct arguments afterward in ways you might neither predict nor agree with.
What style and rates of delivery should we aim for?
Debate in the style and at the speed you're comfortable with. Please speak VERY CLEARLY and enunciate more than you would during a normal conversation. Please watch me occasionally to see if I'm getting it all down. I may sometimes ask for clarity.
What theoretical defaults should we be aware of?
I live and work at the intersection of grassroots social movements and policymaking. I really like solvency arguments for/against the kritik alternative that resemble solvency arguments for/against plans or counterplans--that engage with the material world where change is being claimed. Who, what, how, where etc. I am familiar with how movements and advocacy groups work so tell me how the alt works (or doesn't).
T and other procedurals aren't per se "genocide," but the political and social implications of particular interpretations may be reasons to prefer or reject those interpretations.
I won't kick a counterplan for you to test the status quo: if you don't want to be committed to it in the 2NR, explicitly kick it.
Aff, you needn’t necessarily have a plan (although your opponents might convince me otherwise) but you need a clear statement of advocacy. Neg, it should be clear how your advocacy is a reason to reject the affirmative advocacy.
I will selectively flow CX to help me understand teams' argumentative commitments, definitions, distinctions, and what will be dispositive in the decision.
What preferences about in-round technology should we be aware of?
Prep time ends once the email is sent.
All tech should be set up pre-round; remediation of tech comes out of your prep.
File transfer time is grace time, but don't steal prep or I'll steal your speaker points.
What ethical views of debate should we be aware of?
Be chill to each other outside of speeches.
Please ask pre-round or via email if you have any specific questions that aren't addressed above.
1. Yes, include me on the doc chain – firstname.lastname@example.org
2. No, I am not ok with you just putting the card in the text of the email
3. Idk if the aff has to read a plan. I would obviously prefer it because I'm used to it, but I also would prefer if I were in for zero rounds, so…
4. No, you should not try to read Baudrillard or other post-modern theories against me. This is not a challenge. It's not a threat, it's a warning.
5. Yes, you should (please) slow down while debating if you are online. There are glitches in streaming and it’s hard enough to understand you. For a while, I tried following along with the docs when I missed something, but we all know that just leads to more errors. This is your warning: if you are not clear enough to flow I will not try to flow it. I will give two warnings to be clear (and one after your speech in case you didn’t hear me). If you choose to keep doing you, don’t expect to win or for me to know what you said. On the flip side, if you are actively slowing down to make the debate comprehensible, you will be rewarded with a speaker point bump.
6. JESUS CHRIST PLEASE stop trying to debate how you think I want you to. It's never a good look to over-adapt. The only exception isis you want to go for Baudrillard and somehow ended up with me as a judge. Then please over-adapt. I cannot stress enough the importance of adaptation if you are trying to tell me post-modern theory or that death is cool.
- I am chronically ill. If you pref me, there is a chance I have a flare up while judging you. This means I will finish the debate with my camera off but am still there. I just want some privacy while sick/you really don't want to see my face if I turn my camera off.
- I am a blunt judge. If you choose to pref me, that’s on you. Blow me up and I might say some harsh things. I wont call you out of your name, but I will be very clear about your skills (or lack thereof) in the debate.
- I also might cry...I'm clinically hypersensitive from PTSD. If I cry and you weren't being a total jerk, don't over-apologize and make the RFD about me, lets just plan on a written RFD in that case.
The longer version:
I've been told you need to average a 29.2 to clear nowadays. Because of that:
-a learning speech will be 28.4-28.7,
-an average speech will be 28.8-29.1,
-a clearing level speech will be 29.2-29.5,
-a top ten speaker will be 29.6-29.9.
I'm not giving 30s. Ya gotta be perfect to get a 30, and Hannah Montana taught me that nobody's perfect.
If you get below a 28.4 you probably severely annoyed me.
If you get below a 28, you were probably a problem in the debate, ethically.
-I’ve rarely judged a planless debate where the neg has not gone for framework. In instances where I have, the neg was policy style impact turning a concept of the aff, not going for a K based on a different theory of the world.
-I generally went for framework against planless affirmatives when I debated, and therefore am a bit deeper on the neg side of things. That being said, I also have a standard for what the neg needs to do to make a complete argument.
-I don’t think topicality, or adhering to a resolution, is analogous to rape, slavery, or other atrocities. That doesn't mean arguments about misogynoir, pornotroping, or other arguments of that nature don't work with me. I understand the logic of something being problematic. It's just the oversimplification of theory into false comparisons I take issue with.
-I don’t think that not being topical will cause everyone to quit, lose all ability to navigate existential crises, or other tedious internal link chains. That being said, I love an external impact to framework that defends the politics of government action.
-I would really prefer if people had reasonable arguments on topicality for why or why they don’t need to read a plan, rather than explaining to me their existential impact to voting aff or neg. In the same way that I'm not persuaded the neg will quit or extinction will happen if you don't read a plan, I also don't think extinction will happen if you lose to topicality. Focus instead on the real debate impacts at hand. Though, as said above, I love a good defense of your politics, and if that has a silly extinction impact that's fine.
-I find myself persuaded that the case can not outweigh topicality. Arguments from the case can be used to impact turn topicality, but that is distinct from “case outweighs limits” in my mind. T is a gateway issue. If the neg goes for T, that's what the debate is about. This is why I think many planless 1ACs are best when they have a built-in angle against framework.
Neg K v plans:
-Generally, the alt won’t solve when the aff does a serious push, but the aff will let the neg get away with murder on alt solvency.
-Generally, the alt doing the plan is a reason to reject the alt/team absent a framework debate, which is fine.
-Generally, contradictions justify severance
-Generally, the neg is allowed to read Ks
-I'm getting more and more persuaded the neg needs a big push on framework to beat the perm. If the alt is fiated and not mutually exclusive with the plan, there is almost no way to convince me that the perm won't solve.
-Framework debates are won by engaging the theory aspect and is pragmatism/action desirable, not just one. Typically the neg spends a bunch of time winning the aff is an unethical method, while the aff is talking about fairness and limits.
K v K debate:
I tend to find myself thinking of things in terms of causality, so if that’s not your jam you gotta tell me not to think in that way. I have *technically* judged a K v K debate, but I'm pretty sure it was a cap debate that was more impact turn-y than theory of power-y.
I'm interested in seeing debates like this despite my lack of experience.
K stuff in general:
-My degree is in math. While y’all were reading a lot of background lit, I was doing abstract algebra. You might have to break it down a bit. I'm reading a bit more of the stuff y'all debate from in grad school, but it's still safe to eli5.
-I am more persuaded by identity or constructivism than post-modernism.
-I DO NOT recommend reading Baudrillard, Bataille, etc. You might think "but I'm the one that will change her mind;" you aren't. I will be annoyed for having to judge the debate tbh. You have free will to read it if you want, but I have free will to tank your points with ZERO remorse. If this third warning doesn't do it for you, you are responsible for your speaker points.
General: I don't like to read cards as a default. If a card is called into question or my BS meter is going off, I will read the card. Absent that, I'm mostly about the flow and ethos. Tell me what warrants in your card you want me to know about. Point out the parts in the other team's evidence that are bad for them. That makes my judging job easier AND gives you a sick speaker point boost.
-Tell me if I can (or can’t!) kick it for you. I may or may not remember to if you don’t. I may or may not feel like you are allowed to if you don’t.
-Reading definitions of should means the perm or theory is in tough shape. It's not unwinnable, but I was a 2A… Tricky process counterplans that argue to result in the aff by means of solvency, but are *actually* competitive (more than just should and resolved definitions), game on. If that means you have to define some topic words in an interesting way, I'm fine with that. Also, despite being a classic 2A, I find myself holding the aff to a higher standard sometimes. Maybe it's because I went to MSU, but a lot of times I find myself thinking "this CP obviously doesn't solve. why doesn't the aff just say that or try to cut a card about it???"
-Make the intrinsic perm great again
-Links to the net benefit is usually a sliding scale. But sometimes links have a certain threshold where it doesn’t matter which links less. Please consider this nuance when debating.
-TBH – y’all blaze through theory blocks with no clarity and then get confused when I have no standards written down. These debates are bad. Be more clear. Speak at a flowable pace. Maybe make your own arguments. Idk.
-It is debatable whether an argument is a reason to reject the argument or team.
-2ACs that spend 15-plus seconds on the theory shell will see a lot more mileage and viability for the 2AR. One-sentence blips with no warrants and flow checks will be treated as such.
-impact comparison and turns case are lost arts in theory debates.
-Yes, there can be zero DA. No, it’s not as common as you think.
-answer turns case!!!
T—I prefer limits over ground arguments. Rather than right to particular ground I would like interpretations argued in terms of the predictability of the research burden/definition. Case lists are important. I consider T an argument that doesn't specify the relationship between the debaters and the resolutional actor (i.e. how the debate is evaluated and what the role of the judge for evaluating the debate is still in question). To me, framework is a category of arguments that establish a limit that restricts not just the resolution but the role for the judge. I find most framework arguments unnecessarily restrictive in their interpretation about how we impact/assess a debate whereas a T interpretation can maintain significant freedom for different ways of couching an affirmative while providing predictable limits. For this reason kritiks of T are difficult for me to accept, while criticisms of framework have frequently been successful.
DAs- I’m unlikely to assess uniqueness/link in absolute terms. It tends to be easier to get me to consider direction/quality of link & internal link over uniqueness. Evidence qualifications are important. I probably give analytic and defensive arguments more weight than many judges.
CPs--I've rarely voted against CPs for theory reasons. This probably has more to do with what affs are willing to do/commit time to more than it demonstrates any real appeal of certainty-based competition arguments.
K pickiness—I am more open to aff inclusion and textless alternatives than most. I am frustrated by debates where the alternative “vote negative” squares off against permute “do all the parts of the alternative that don’t compete with the plan.” Those are both just abstract descriptions of what any alternative or permutation entails. In depth debate on these issues might be helped by being less tied to a text and more to not being obnoxious in the c/x in describing an alternative. Pay attention to language/phrasing—pull quotes from evidence and speechs instead of debating author names (Yes, pot-kettle, but still). I prefer Ks that aren’t debated like disads—too much big impact/impact turn and not enough about the aff/alt from either side in most debates I judged. Neg link arguments should include reference to 1AC evidence/tags. Historical examples help a lot for either side.
Theory—I tend to dislike theory debates focused on narrow comparison of interpretations. For the most part, people would be better off discussing the logical implications of a practice rather than a potentially arbitrary implementation of that practice (i.e. conditionality rather than "neg gets 1 CP and 1K"). I am biased in favor of conditionality, though not that strongly. To me, "status quo is always a logical option" or other logic-oriented defenses of conditionality require a judge to evaluate the plan versus the status quo even if the negative goes for their CP. I say this for clarifying purposes -- this has very rarely changed the outcome of a debate that I have judged. I often judge debates that do not presume conventional plan-focused models for debate yet still contain theory arguments that presume a plan-focused terminology and its resulting constraints. I point this out only to suggest that I think debaters should devote some time to thinking about the consequences of strucutral changes in the form of debate that they advocate for the smaller theoretical practices that occur within those debates.
Evidence comparison. In most debates I’ve judged if I hear about the other side’s evidence it’s only in the 2NR/2AR or it’s about how the opponent’s evidence is “terrible.” Granted, many people read terrible evidence, nevertheless, sophisticated evidence comparison should begin early in the debate. I intensely dislike random unqualified internet evidence.
I prefer cross-ex strategies premised on listening to an opponent's answer and using it in a subsequent speech, not posturing/arguing as though c/x were another speech.
I'm a bit of grump, especially when it comes to my consistent facial expressions in debates. It's not often that is about you, the debaters. I often talk a great deal after debates.
I desperately wish I were funny so I will probably appreciate your humor even if I rarely laugh out-loud. My sense of humor is definitively geeky. My speaker point scale is lower than our current average. I've tried to get more in line with current norms so as not to punish people for speaker point inflation. That said, for high points (28.5+) I still need to be impressed.
Email chain - email@example.com
-Grady (now Midtown)/Atlanta Urban Debate League 2018
-University of Texas of Dallas 2022
-Former Assistant Coach for the Atlanta Urban Debate League/Grady and UTD
-Currently, pursuing a masters
2023/24 season --- I am not heavily involved in either the hs or college scenes since I am going abroad for my masters, with that in mind I am more out of the loop than past years. I will also be exclusively judging online and from overseas, I think its important to be transparent about that when considering where you pref me.
Between my times in HS and college I found the most success debating as a flex team but have oscillated from the far right to the far left at different times. I have debated almost every style of (policy) debate, and I have likely gone for more types and genres of arguments than you have. This is to say I have a familiarity with a wide range of perspectives in debate, and will likely understand enough of what you're saying/doing to render a competent decision.
Biases are inevitable I do my best to check most of them at the door, but some degree of intervention is inevitable, below are some you may want to be aware of.
The question I ask myself the most in listening to debates is, "why do I care?" the team who answers this better almost always wins. Everything you say in front of me needs to have a impact attached to it, a reason why this means you win, if the argument you are making doesn't have this odds are its a waste of both our times.
I view my role as a judge first and foremost as an educator. What does this mean? It means I view debate as an inherently educational activity and my role as a purveyor should be oriented to increasing its pedagogical value. My role can change according to appeals made by debators but this is my default.
This means in Theory/T/FWK debates I am less persuaded by fairness and ground claims that rely on some intrinsic value to those things, and that you are going to need to convince me there is some value to your model of debate beyond fairness. Not to say that I won't vote on fairness claims. I have and I likely will continue to in the future, I just will be rather grumpy about it.
A note on community --- because so many of the fwk debates ultimately deal with questions about orientations to debate as a community, here are my vibes. My life is forever changed by people in debate, some of the most important people in my life and my favorite people generally I met through debate. However, trying to find community in debate is bit like finding community on the battlefield or in a warzone. So many of us meet as enemies and competition oversaturates every aspect of this activity. If debate is your only or primary source of community that is problematic, I wouldn't have made it through my career without my communities outside debate. However, debate as a community is hyper competitive, has a number of systemic social problems, and could do with some chilling out.
Please do not make sweeping adaptations in front of me. I would much rather see a debate where two sides are executing what they are best at rather then changing what they are about in some skewed rush to appeal to me. I have, and will continue to, vote for everything.
I come from a technical background so I usually do my best to default to LBL, meaning what the debaters themselves said how they said it. AS opposed to reconstructing debates through reading cards after the fact. I read along as the debate goes on, but I will really only read ev after a round if I've been instructed to, or a core part of the debate hinges on a interpretation/quality of one or several pieces of evidence.
An ethics challenge suspends the debate. If you call for an ethics challenge in front of me that is the end of that debate.
Truth holds a strange place in debate, debate requires a certain suspension of disbelief in order for it to function. As arguments from the real world, be it academia or the public sphere, go through the debate machine and it's various funhouse mirrors they come out distorted and sometimes even unrecognizable from their original counterpart. However, this becomes necessary for us to have the types of debates debate seems to like, given time constraints and the need to make the game operable. While criticisms of this model of debate and its consequences are certainly invited, this is simply where we are. However, what does this mean for truth in debate? Do we throw it out with the baby? As of now I have not come down on a clear answer, and prefer to cop out to deferring to the terms the debaters set for the standard of proof for argumentative claims in the round. Usually this means defaulting to tech over truth since that seems to be the game model most teams choose to play by, but appeals to truth over tech in the 1ac may shift my default.
Considering most the rounds I judge are clash, I have found that in policy aff v K debates I weigh fwk more heavily than other judges. In so far as fwk is a debate about the terms of the debate, what matters in this debate, what this debate should be about, what my role or perspective should be, what kind of decision making process are best for this debate, and the kinds of research that should or should not be promulgated. For me these are filtering/judge instruction arguments that operates as a kind of way to interpret say the link debating alt debate and so on. And it seems I am more conscious of or find arguments about the hat I should wear/lens I should look through more important than others. Aff teams strangely do a bad job of pushing back here opting to a non fwk fwk of I should get my aff, which most K fwks are never really gonna disagree with rather its the terms at which the aff should be understood or debated at. Arguments about fiat being illusionary are not very important to me, which is the only kind of fwk arg this seems to be effective against. It seems more effective for aff teams to defend institutionalism or a games perspective since that is where the debate is happening.
I ultimately want to see that you had a plan for the debate and that you executed it, that plan can differ from team to team but ultimately I want to see effort because the thing that frustrates me most in debates is laziness.
In T v policy aff debates I tend to be a bit more in the reasonability camp in so far as I ultimately see alot of the value of debate is its ability to allow for experimentation which enables new educational opportunities and arbitrarily limiting topics becomes a bit frustrating for me. However on the flip side this also means that I also think there are plenty of policy affs that are unreasonably topical and are therefore easier to win T in front of me with. Ultimately it becomes a question of if T is "true" which I understand is a bit relative. That being said this should really only matter in the closest of debates because I try to default to LBL as much as possible, because I understand T holds more utility for some than for me.
For CP + DA debates competition is through NBs. Even in process CP debates ultimately you still gotta win some typa opportunity cost that creates a da to the aff. I tend to think the negative should be able to experiment to its liking all the different ways it might test vulnerabilities and weakness in a 1ac, ultimately this back and forth between neg terror and 1ac terror is what makes debate engaging. So I tend to let the neg get most types of international fiat/consult/process etc cps. There are some like delay or in some cases 50 state fiat/lopez debates where I can be convinced otherwise. This is also why I tend to let the neg get condo, and condo is a yes no question. Except in the case where negative is reading a cp that is not trying to solve the aff or have a NB attached to it, but to deter the aff from reading offense. This is counter to the spirt of experimentation and innovation in debate as it serves to only deter the aff from reading offense in response to the neg. Not only this an important to check to 1nc that overextend, but ultimately that research is itself valuable because it usually ends up revolving around different questions than in your neg debates. 2nc cp are probably fine. Kicking planks is fine. I default to judge kick.
sophiewilczynski at gmail dot com for email chains & specific questions
I debated for UT austin from 2014-17 & have remained tangentially affiliated with the program since. I studied rhetoric, and as a debater I read a lot of big structural critiques and weird impact turns.
tldr: I have been doing this for a while. I don't really care what you say as long as you engage it well. do what you do best & don't be rude while you're at it!
I do my best to intervene as little as possible. this means that whatever you give me to work with is what I have to work with - I cannot make arguments or suss out contradictions for you. the better you are at making meaningful distinctions, the happier you will be with the outcome. evidence alone does not constitute an argument, and the quality of your explanation always, always supersedes that of the ev. use your head.
clarity matters, esp in the age of virtual debate. as long as I can understand what you are saying I shouldn’t have trouble getting it down - that being said, debaters have an unfortunate tendency to overestimate their own clarity, so just something to keep in mind. slowing down on procedurals, cp/alt texts, & author names is very much appreciated.
topicality - fun if you're willing to do the work to develop them properly. I think evidence comparison is a super under-utilized resource in T debates, and a lot of good teams lose to crappy interps for this reason. as with anything else, you need to establish & justify the evaluatory framework by which you would like me to assess your impacts. have a debate, don't just blast through ur blocks
theory - if you must
disads/CPs - fine & cool. i find that huge generic gnw/extinction scenarios often don't hold up to the scrutiny and rigor of more isolated regional scenarios. will vote on terminal defense if I have a good reason to do so. pics are usually good
K debates - make a decision about the level at which your impacts operate and stick to it. and talk about the aff. this applies to both sides. the neg should be critiquing the affirmative, not merely identifying a structure and breaking down the implications without thorough contextualization. the mechanics of the alternative & the context in which it operates have to be clearly articulated and comparatively contextualized to the mechanics of 1AC solvency. i think a lot of murky & convoluted perm debates could be avoided with greater consideration for this - impact heuristics matter a lot when establishing competition (or levels of competition). likewise, blasting through thousands of variants of "perm do x" with no warrants or comparative explanation does not mean you have made a permutation. will vote on links as case turns, but will be unhappy about it if it's done lazily.
framework - i think it's good when the aff engages the resolution, but i don't have any particularly strong feelings about how that should happen
case matters, use it effectively rather than reading your blocks in response to nothing
i find myself judging a lot of clash debates, which is fine
prep ends when doc is saved
be nice & have fun
firstname.lastname@example.org – add me; also add email@example.com | they/them | Updated for Minnesota/Texas 2023
Minnesota/Texas Update: I judged 3 rounds at Wake (all AI affs, all prelims). Judging record is 2-1 aff.
Wake Update: This is my first experience judging college debate. I debated for USC with very limited success. I haven't been very actively involved in debate over the last two years, but I did a lot of research for the AI IPR aff USC has been reading this year. It's been a while since I've judged, so I recommend you go a bit slower than usual and overexplain your arguments. I'm not very good for the K, especially high level K debate. The paradigm I wrote below was written for high schoolers, but my thoughts should translate to college debate just fine.
(Stuff below was last updated for Berkeley 2022)
Online Debate: I have judged and participated in roughly 100 online debates over the course of the pandemic. Things I've found to be useful are going slower than you normally would and sharing analytics if they’re already written out in a speech doc. Also, I feel it's important to note that I flow on paper, so with lag and poor mic quality, it's extra important to give me enough pen time. Lastly, if my camera is off, I am not ready for your speech unless I've said otherwise.
Rounds Judged on this Topic: 0. I haven't been very active in judging or coaching this year so I am well behind the curve when it comes to topic knowledge.
About Me: I did policy debate for three years at Green Valley High School in Las Vegas and I’ve been debating at USC and coaching Chaminade College Prep in LA for two years now. I qualled to the TOC my senior year of HS and am currently in my third year of college debate. I am majoring in physics and in astronomy, so please don't assume I know all the intricacies of econ, IR, the law, etc. because it's not something I am actively studying. I'd say I have pretty good intuition about most things though, but it's always better to simplify the arguments you're making in front of me because I don't like to think too hard.
tl;dr: All the below thoughts are in no way set in stone and the way I evaluate a round depends a lot more on what happened in those 2 hours than anything I'll say here; with that in mind, I will vote for any argument as long as I think you are winning it. I'd say I'm pretty tech > truth, but this only goes so far (e.g. if your argument starts off with near-0% risk, even if you technically win the argument, I will only evaluate your argument with the level of risk that your evidence indicates I should). Most importantly, if I don't know how to explain to the other team how they lost to your argument during an RFD, then you're not getting my ballot.
Rhetoric: Debate is a rhetorical activity meaning if I can’t understand you, I won’t vote for you. Speed is fine, but clarity is key. A dropped argument only matters if you extend a claim, warrant, and impact to it. Please be nice to each other, we’re all here to learn and have fun.
K's in General: I am not going to lie, I am not proficient in any K literature whatsoever. So please, assume I have no idea what you’re talking about, explain your author's jargon, develop my understanding of your theory during the round, and tell me the RFD in your 2NR/2AR. However, I really try to not let my lack of knowledge be a determining factor in the decision. If you're going for a K, I tend to try extra hard to flow everything you say and read along with evidence as you are speaking, as well as be extra expressive so you have some indication if I am buying what you're selling.
Framework/K Aff's: I think that an affirmative team should probably read a topical plan, but well-researched and topic specific non-plan affs are generally more interesting to me than bland policy affs. I feel that framework debates turn into two ships passing in the night very quickly, so the more clash you have on either side, the better off you’ll be. Negative teams should try to have specific answers to the aff’s case and cross apply those to framework if they want a greater chance of winning the debate. Skills or fairness, I don't care, just have an impact or prove to me the aff doesn't. Most TVA's are egregiously bad (sometimes, not even topical), so read it on the neg is probably the better 2NR extension to make.
K’s on the Neg: The affirmative should probably get to weigh their plan. Negative teams need to explain their arguments in depth and without jargon. Alternative’s are usually incredibly vague and meaningless to me; please explain them to me like I were a five year old, I promise I won’t find it patronizing. Please provide specific and detailed link, internal link, and impact stories.
Topicality: I was coached by Cade Cottrell, which means that almost every aff I read throughout high school was borderline topical at best. I love creative and innovative affs that are right at the boundary of topical and non-topical, but I’ll still hold the line if the neg proves they have the better interp. I think that the best affirmative argument against any T violation is a combination of arbitrariness and reasonability, but my default is competing interpretations.
CP’s: Read whatever and however many CP’s you want, just make sure you can theoretically justify them if this becomes an issue in round. If you're neg tell me to judge kick, if you’re aff tell me why that’s bad; I’m leaving it up to you to decide if I should allow it or not.
DA’s: I can see myself voting aff even if there aren’t any cards read on a DA if the negative team’s story is entirely incoherent. Turns case and solves case arguments are distinct and need to be answered differently; neg teams should probably have both. Link turns case arguments are more persuasive than impact turns case. The more specific the DA the better, but generic DA’s are fine. Impact calc is generally the most important part of these debates.
Theory: These debates rarely end up being good. I think theory args other than conditionality are probably not a reason to drop the team. 2A’s that terrorize the neg with theory will get higher speaks, but 15 seconds should be sufficient on ridiculously contrived and self-serving theory.
People I Agree With: Cade Cottrell, Samin Kamal, Parker Coon, Jaden Lessnick.
Things to do for Higher Speaks: I believe that the ballot is enough of a reward for the team who did the better debating, so ethos/logos/pathos will be how I evaluate speaker points. In general, you should make jokes about anyone mentioned above, do line by line, be funny, don't be rude, and end speeches/prep early when you are CLEARLY ahead.