MSHSL State Debate Tournament
2023 — University of Minnesota, MN/US
Public Forum Paradigm ListAll Paradigms: Show Hide
I debated policy in high school and in college in from 1988-1994. I have coached policy, LD, public forum and now Congressional debate. Because of my policy roots substantiating your argument with evidence and refutation are important to debate. I fundamentally see Congressional debate as debate not as another form of extemp.
I am a retired teacher and debate and speech coach. I coached policy debate in the 1980s, and then coached Lincoln-Douglas from 1987 through early 2000s. Since then I have judged public forum and classic debate for many years, mainly at section and state tournaments. I believe debate is the best high school extracurricular activity there is!
In terms of arguments, I prefer fewer, well-developed arguments that are sustained throughout the round, rather than brief, one-line blips with no analysis or supporting evidence. I will flow your round and I will see if your opponent has or has not responded to your arguments (so don't accuse them of dropping an argument when they didn't). I like to see clear, direct refutation that is also developed and supported. I do not like mere assertions masquerading as solid argument.
Although I can handle speed, I don't really like it. I prefer delivery that is clear, understandable, and communicative (yes, I understand the need for speed with tight time limits, but I don't want you to speak so fast that I can't understand or flow what you're saying. It doesn't help you if I stop flowing because of your speed). You want me to get your arguments, right?
I like debates where the arguments flow and develop in light of the opponents' refutation. I like debates where you guide me to your position, weigh the issues, and provide clear focus, particularly in the summary and final focus speeches. Help me to see why you're winning; don't just tell me you are.
Finally, I believe in respect and good manners. Be polite throughout the round, particularly in cross-fires!
I do not give oral critiques or disclose, but trust me, I will write you a clear RFD on my ballot.
Background: Head Coach at Robbinsdale Armstrong and Robbinsdale Cooper HS in Minnesota. There I coach LD, PF and Congressional Debate.
Most Important: Debate should be about comparing and weighing arguments. In LD (and optional in PF) there should be a criterion (standard) which argument are weighed through. The purpose of the criterion is to filter out arguments. So simply winning the criterion does not mean you win the debate. You should have arguments that link to the winning criterion and those arguments should be weighed against any opposing/linking arguments. If the debaters do not weigh the arguments, then you force the judge to do that weighing for you and that is never good.
Overall: Debate should be inclusive and available to all people. If your goal is to speak as fast as possible and run the most obscure arguments ever to exclude people, then this isn't a winning strategy for you. My suggestion would be to run topical arguments at a pace that is inclusive to all students. Speed within limits is ok. The more obscure the argument the more time you should spend on explaining it. Don't just throw out random words and assume I'll fill in the blanks for you. No need to ask if I want to be on the email chain, job of debate is to communicate the evidence to me.
Congressional Debate: Read everything above because it is still valuable information. Congressional Debate is debate by nature. It is not a dueling oratory round. In general, the first cycle is there to set up arguments in the round. The author/sponsor speech should be polished. All other speeches should have elements of refutation to other students and arguments in the round. If you are giving a speech in the fourth cycle and never refer to another person's argument, you are not going to score well in front of me. Simply dropping a person's name isn't refutation. You should tell me why their argument is wrong. With evidence it is even better.
You should do everything in your power to not go back-to-back on the same side. I will flow little of a second speech back-to-back on the same side. If you are the third speaker on the same side in a row, I'm not flowing any of it. Debaters should be prepared to switch sides if necessary. Lastly, there is a trend for no one to give an author/sponsor speech as they are worried, they will not score well. That isn't true in front of me. All parts of the debate are important.
The questioning period is about defeating arguments not to make the person look good. Softball questions are not helpful to debate. Do it multiple times and expect your rank to go down. All aspects, your speech, the quality of sources, refutation and questioning all go into your final rank. Just because you speak the prettiest does not mean you are the champion. You should be able to author/sponsor, refute, crystalize, ask tough questions, and defend yourself in questioning throughout the debate. Do all in a session and you are in decent shape.
Presiding Officers (PO): The PO will start with a rank of five in all chambers for me. From there, you can work your way up or down based on your performance. PO's who are clearly favoring the same school or same circuit students will lose rank. A PO can absolutely receive the one in my ranks likewise they can be unranked if you make many errors.
The current trend is for "super wordy" PO's. You do not need to say things like "Thank you for that speech of 3:09. As this was the 3rd Affirmative Speech, we are in line for 1 minute block of questioning. All those who wish to ask a question, please indicate." If you add up the above through an entire session, that adds up to multiple speeches that were taken by the PO. Watch how many words you say between speeches, question blocks, etc. A great PO blends away in the room. Extra language like "The chair thanks you", "this is speech 22", etc. All of this is just filler words for the PO taking time away from the debate. Lastly, a "chair" doesn't have feelings. It is not rude to be efficient.
I track precedence/recency in all sessions. I keep a detailed flow in all rounds debate - Congress, LD and PF.
Disclosure: I typically do not give any oral critiques. All the information will be on the ballot.
Eagan High School, Public Forum Coach (2018-Present), National Debate Forum (2016-2019), Theodore Roosevelt High School, Public Forum Coach (2014-2018)
Also technically my name is now Mollie Clark Ahsan but it's a pain to change on tab :)
Always add me to your email chain - firstname.lastname@example.org
I consider myself a flow judge HOWEVER the narrative of your advocacy is hugely important. If you are organized, clean, clear and extending good argumentation well, you will do well. One thing that I find particularly valuable is having a strong and clear advocacy and a narrative on the flow. This narrative will help you shape responses and create a comparative world that will let you break down and weigh the round in the Final Focus.
Good and clean warrant and impact extensions are what will most likely win you the round. Extensions are the backbones of debate, a high-level debater should be able to allocate time and extend their offense and defense effectively. Defense is NOT sticky- with an additional minute in summary, defense that is unextended is dropped.
Ethical use and cutting of evidence is incredibly important to me, while debate may be viewed as a game it takes place in the real world with real implications. It matters that we accurately represent what's happening in the world around us. Please follow all pertinent tournament rules and regulations - violations are grounds for a low-point-win or a loss. Rules for NSDA tournaments can be found at https://www.speechanddebate.org/high-school-unified-manual/.
Speed, Speaking, & Unconventional Issues
- I can flow next to everything in PF but that does not mean that it's always strategically smart. Your priority should be to be clear. Make sure you enunciate so that your opponent can understand you, efficiency and eloquence in later speeches will define your speaks.
- Please be polite and civil and it is everyone’s responsibility to de-escalate the situation as much as possible when it grows too extreme. Do not yell. Understand your privileges and use that to respect and empower others.
- Trigger warnings are appreciated when relevant
- I'm learning to live with theory. It's not my favorite thing to see, but I'll consider whatever arguments you make.
Speaker Point Breakdown
30: Excellent job, you demonstrate stand-out organizational skills and speaking abilities. Ability to use creative analytical skills and humor to simplify and clarify the round.
29: Very strong ability. Good eloquence, analysis, and organization. A couple minor stumbles or drops.
28: Above average. Good speaking ability. May have made a larger drop or flaw in argumentation but speaking skills compensate. Or, very strong analysis but weaker speaking skills.
27: About average. Ability to function well in the round, however analysis may be lacking. Some errors made.
26: Is struggling to function efficiently within the round. Either lacking speaking skills or analytical skills. May have made a more important error.
25: Having difficulties following the round. May have a hard time filling the time for speeches. Large error.
Below: Extreme difficulty functioning. Very large difficulty filling time or offensive or rude behavior.
email: email@example.com & firstname.lastname@example.org (please add both to the email chain)
also please title the email chain using the format "Round X Flight A/B, Tournament Name, School XX Aff/Neg 1 vs School YY Aff/Neg 2"
- PF Coach for Lakeville South & Lakeville North in Minnesota, 2019-Present
- Speech Coach for Lakeville South in Minnesota, 2022-Present
- Instructor for Potomac Debate, 2021-Present
- University of Minnesota NPDA, 2019-2022
- Lakeville South High School (PF with a bit of speech and Congress), 2015-2019
Updated for September/October 2023:
Generally, I will vote for anything if there is a warrant, an impact, and solid comparative weighing, and as long as your evidence isn't horribly cut/fake. Every argument you want on my ballot needs to be in summary and final focus, and I will walk you through exactly how I made my decision after the round is over (as long as the tournament allows it). I’ve noticed that while I can/will keep up with speed and evaluate technical debates, my favorite rounds are usually those that slow down a bit and go into detail about a couple of important issues. Well warranted arguments with clear impact scenarios extended using a strategic collapse are a lot better than blippy extensions. The best rounds in my opinion are the ones where summary extends one big issue with comparative weighing and whatever defense/offense on the opponent’s case is necessary.
if you're speed reading this before round, prioritize the pet peeves & evidence issues sections (and the kritiks & theory sections if that's a thing you plan to do)
Online Debate Specific:
- Go a little slower than you normally would.
- Record all of your speeches. I won't let you redo a speech if someone's audio gets cut off or computer crashes. If that happens, continue giving the speech and send the recording to everyone in the round.
- I will be annoyed if you're late to an online round.
- I will generally judge the debate you want to have.
- The only time you need a trigger warning is when the content in your case is objectively triggering and graphic. I think the way PF is moving toward requiring opt-out forms for things like “mentions of the war on drugs” or "feminism" is super unnecessary and trivializes the other issues that actually do require content warnings while silencing voices that are trying to discuss important issues.
- I will drop you with a 20 (or lowest speaks allowed by the tournament) for bigotry or being blatantly rude to your opponents. There’s no excuse for this. This applies to you no matter how “good at technical debate” you are.
- Speed is fine as long as you explain your arguments instead of just rattling off claims. For online rounds, slow down more than you would in person.
- Silliness and cowardice are voting issues.
- Evidence ethics in PF are atrocious. Cut cards is the only way to present evidence in my opinion. At the very least, read direct quotes. Paraphrasing is bad. I'm almost always going to vote for paraphrasing bad if it's an argument that's made in the round.
- Evidence exchanges take way too long. Send full speech docs in the email chain before the speech begins. For some reason, me writing this in my paradigm has resulted in teams sending their docs to me privately, which is not the point. I want everyone sending everything in this email chain so that everyone can check the quality of evidence, and so that we don’t waste time requesting individual cards.
- Your cases should be sent to the email chain in the form of a Word Doc with exactly what you said in the debate.
- I despise Google Docs - if you use Google Docs to write your cases, that's fine, but just download the doc as a Word Document and send it to the email chain instead of sending a link or sharing the doc. Similarly, I dislike when teams use a shared Google Doc for evidence sharing instead of just sending docs. You need to share evidence with your opponents in a way that guarantees you're not able to edit the doc after sending it.
- It shouldn’t take you more than 30 seconds to locate a card, and if it takes more than 2 minutes, I’ll strike it from the flow and start dropping your speaker points.
- The only evidence that counts in the round is evidence you cite in your speech using the author’s last name and date. You cannot read an analytic in a speech then provide evidence for it later.
- Evidence comparison is super underutilized in PF - I'd love to hear more of it.
- My threshold for voting on arguments that rely on paraphrased/power-tagged evidence is very high. I will always prefer to vote for teams with well cut, quality evidence.
- I don't know what this "sending rhetoric without the cards" nonsense is - the only reason you need to exchange evidence is to check the evidence. Your "rhetoric" should be exactly what's in the evidence anyway, but if it's not, I have no idea what the point is of sending the paraphrased "rhetoric" without the cards. Just send full docs with cut cards.
- Put me on the email chain (email@example.com).
- Frontline in second rebuttal. Dropped arguments in second rebuttal are conceded in the round. You should cover everything on the argument(s) you plan on going for, including defense.
- Defense isn’t sticky. Anything you want to matter in the round needs to be in summary and final focus.
- Collapse in summary. It is not a strategy to go for tons of blippy arguments hoping something will stick just to blow up one or two of those things in final focus. The purpose of the summary is to pick out the most important issues, and you must collapse to do that well.
- Weigh as soon as possible. Comparative weighing is essential for preventing judge intervention, and meta-weighing is even better. I want to vote for teams that write my ballot for me in final focus, so try to do that the best you can.
- Speech organization is key. I literally want you to say what argument I should vote on and why.
- The way I give speaker points fluctuates depending on the division and the difficulty of the tournament, but I average about a 28 and rarely go below a 27 or above a 29. If you get a 30, it means you debated probably the best I saw that tournament if not for the past couple tournaments. I give speaker points based on strategic decisions rather than presentation.
I’ve judged a lot of terrible theory debates, and I do not want to judge more theory debates. But if you decide to ignore that and do it anyway, please at least read this:
- Theory has an important place in debate to recognize real abuse, but frivolous theory is bad.
- I probably should tell you that I believe disclosure is good and paraphrasing is bad, but I will listen to answers to these shells and evaluate the round to the best of my ability. My threshold for paraphrasing good is VERY high.
- Even if you don’t know the "technical" way to answer theory, do your best to respond. I don't really care if you use theory jargon - just do your best.
- “Our coach didn’t teach us how to respond to theory” is not an argument. Same with “our coach doesn’t let us disclose” if there’s no proof that’s true. It's just an argument; answer it the same way you would arguments on the topic.
- "Theory is bad" or "theory doesn't belong in PF" are also not arguments I'm very sympathetic to.
- Refer to the pet peeves section of my paradigm - a lot of those bullet points were added after watching bad theory rounds.
- A counter interpretation is not an RVI. RVIs are a completely separate part of the debate.
I’ve also seen a ton of terrible K debates. I have a high threshold for critical arguments in PF because I just don’t think the speech times are long enough for them to be good and the structure of PF is inherently built against kritiks, but there are a few things that will make me feel better about voting on these arguments.
- You need to solve or do something. If I have no idea what voting for you means, then you do not have offense. Reading a K does not excuse you from having to organize/structure your speeches in the same way you would in a traditional round. "Creating discourse about structural violence" is not sufficient solvency.
- I also need you to walk through the links pretty extensively. If it’s a topical argument, I want to hear exactly how you link into it. If it’s critiquing the debate space, then I want to hear exactly what the problem is and how your argument solves it. You get the point, just be thorough.
- When extending the K, don't just reread the entire thing.
- I've heard a lot of K teams get upset when other teams actually answer their arguments. You should only be reading a K if you're prepared for actual K debate.
- I can tell when you just grab something off the LD or Policy wiki without doing any of your own card cutting or editing. Probably don't do that. Any argument is going to be more compelling if you write it yourself.
- If your argument is just "vote for me because I am x identity" or "vote for me because I talk about x issue" or "if you don't vote for me you don't care about x oppression" or "if you really cared about x issue you would concede the round and have a discussion," you will probably lose.
- I'm not familiar with most K lit. I've done some reading, but it was either for college NPDA or just for fun. If I was you, I'd assume I know nothing and over explain rather than under explain.
- I hate long evidence exchanges. I already ranted about this at the top of my paradigm because it is by far my biggest pet peeve, but here’s another reminder that it should not take you more than 30 seconds to send a piece of evidence. There’s also no reason to not just send full speech docs to prevent these evidence exchanges, so just do that.
- I don’t flow anything over time, and I’ll be annoyed and potentially drop speaker points if your speeches go more than 5 or so seconds over.
- Pre-flow before you get to the room. The round start time is the time the round starts – if you don’t have your pre-flow done by then, I do not care, and the debate will proceed without it.
- I don't really want to vote on a blippy turn from rebuttal that you blow up in the second half that all of a sudden has evidence, warrants, impacts, and link-ins that weren't there before.
- The phrase "small schools" is maybe my least favorite phrase commonly used in debate. I have judged so many debates where teams get stuck arguing about whether they're a small school, and it never has a point.
- The sentence "we'll weigh if time allows" - no you won't. You will weigh if you save yourself time to do it, because if you don't, you will probably lose.
- Most of the time, an IVI is just an argument. You don't need to treat it differently than anything else. For me this is just the wrong way to deal with the issues that provoke most IVIs.
- If you're going to ask clarification questions about the arguments made in speech, you need to either use cross or prep time for that.
I competed in Congress a few times in high school, and I've judged/coached it a little since then. I dislike judging it because no one is really using it for its fullest potential, and almost every Congress round I've ever seen is just a bunch of constructive speeches in a row. But here are a few things that will make me happy in a Congress round:
- I'll rank you higher if you add something to the debate. I love rebuttal speeches, crystallization speeches, etc. You will not rank well if you are the fourth/fifth/sixth etc. speaker on a bill and still reading new substantive arguments without contextualizing anything else that has already happened. It's obviously fine to read new evidence/data, but that should only happen if it's for the purpose of refuting something that's been said by another speaker.
- I care much more about the content and strategy of your speeches than I do about your delivery. I guess delivery matters more to me in Congress than it does in other events, but I still think it matters significantly less than the content and strategy of the speech.
- If you don't have a way to advance the debate beyond a new constructive speech that doesn't synthesize anything, I'd rather just move on to a new bill. It is much less important to me that you speak on every bill than it is that when you do speak you alter the debate on that bill.
If you have additional questions, ask before or after the round or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
11/3/22 - Minneapple Update
I haven't updated my paradigm since 2020... nothing significant, changes were either struck-through or italicized. I'm also adding some LD specific stuff at the bottom because I keep having to judge LD this season and judging off my inability to consistently update my paradigm, I'd rather do that now than forget again the next time I judge LD. I also added Congress... just in case someone actually looks at a paradigm for their congress judges...
Debate is an educational activity. My goal as a judge is to pick the debater(s) who best argues their case. But I also am seeking a round that iseducational. Abusive arguments and rhetoric have no place in debate. Treat each other with kindness. We are all here to learn and expand ourknowledge and experience. Racist, sexist, ableist, homophobic, transphobic, xenophobic, etc. arguments should not be made. Everyone is welcome in the debate community, do not marginalize and silence folks with your argumentation.
Also, since debate is an education activity, feel free to ask me questions afterthe round. I'm here to help educate as well. As long as we have time before the next round has to start (and I've got enough time to submit my ballot so the tab room doesn't come looking for me), then I'm always happy to answer questions.
Director of Debate at Wayzata High School (MN) since Sept. 2020, coaching/judging locally and nationally since 2013
I am a licensed, practicing attorney. I work as a criminal prosecutor for a local county in Minnesota.
I am also currently attending NortheasternUniversity, pursuing a MA in Strategic Intelligence and Analysis with a concentration in International Relations and Diplomacy.
- Voters and weighing. I don't want to have to dig back through my flow to figure out what your winning arguments were. If you're sending me back through the flow, you're putting way too much power in my hands.Please, please, please make your voters clear.
- Clear sign posting and concise taglines.
- Framework. I like a solid framework. If you have a weighing mechanism, state it clearly and provide a brief explanation.
- Unique arguments. Debate is an educational activity, so you should be digging deep in your research and finding unique arguments. If you have a unique impact, bring it in. I judge a lot of rounds and I get tired of hearing the same case over and over and over again.
-Just referencing evidence by the card name (author, source, etc.). When I flow, I care more about what the evidence says, not who the specific source was. If you want to reference the evidence later, you gotta tell me what the evidence said, not who said it.
Off time roadmaps are just a waste of our time. We all know that you're going to go over your opponents side of the flow and then your own if time permits. You don't need to tell me.
-Off-timeroadmaps often are a waste of time. If all you are doing is telling me that the Neg Rebuttal isgoing to go over our case then their case, then you don't need to tell me that. If you aregoing to go FW, then some crossapplication, then yourcase, then their case, then back to FW, then that is something youshould tell me. More importantly SIGN POST, SIGN POST, SIGN POST.
-SPEED. This is Public Forum, not Policy. If you spread, you're probably going to lose. I flow on my computer so that I can get as much on my flow as possible, but if you're too fast and unclear, it's not on my flow. If it's not on my flow, it's not evaluated in the round.
-Evidence misrepresentation. If there is any question between teams on if evidence has been used incorrectly, I will request to see the original document and the card it was read from to compare the two. If you don't have the original, then I will assume it was cut improperly and judge accordingly.
-Shouting over each other on CX. Keep it civil. Don't monopolize the time.
-"Grandstanding" on CX. CX is for you to ask questions, not give a statement in the form of a question. Ask short, simple questions and give concise answers.
-One person taking over on Grand CX. All four debaters should fully participate. If you aren't participating, then I assume it's because you do not haveanything more to add to the debate and/or thatyou aren't actively involved in the debate and I likely will adjust speaks accordingly.(this was an unfinished thought apparently...)
-K cases. I do not like them in public forum, especially if they are not topical. However, a K that is topical and actually engages with the topic and is generally within the topic meta is something I *may* vote off of. But it must be topical, otherwise I will not vote off the argument.
-Loud, annoying, alarms at the end of speeches. If you use the rooster crowing as your alarm in round, I'm dropping speaks.
-I'm generally a flow judge, but I don't always flow card authors/names. My focus on the flow is getting what the evidence claims and what the warrant is, rather than who the source was. Referring back to your "Harvard" card isn't enough, but giving a quick paraphrasing of the card, along with the author/source is much more beneficial and effective.
-I'm an expressive person. I'll make a face if I believe you misstated something. I'll nod if I think you're making a good point. I'll shake my head if I think you're making a poor point. This doesn't mean that I'm voting for you or against you. It just means I liked or didn't like that particular statement.
-I like CX, so I tend to allow you to go over time a bit on CX, particularly if team A asks team B a question right before time in order to prevent them from answering. I'll let them answer the question.
-Evidence Exchanges. If you are asked for evidence, provide it in context. If they ask for the original, provide the original. I won't time prep until you've provided the evidence, and I ask that neither team begins prepping until the evidence has been provided. If it takes too long to get the original text, I will begin docking prep time for the team searching for the evidence and will likely dock speaker points. It is your job to come to the round prepared, and that includes having all your evidence readily accessible.
-If anything in my paradigm is unclear, ask before the round begins. I'd rather you begin the debate knowing what to expect rather than complain later!
I'm a PF coach, however I judge LD frequently and I often assist LD students throughout the season.
- I find that it is best to treat me as a "flay" judge... I will flow, but I'm lay. I am very familiar with most of the traditional value/criterion/standards. If you have some new LD tech that is popular on the circuit or something, then I'm probably not the judge for you to run that, unless you are going to fully explain it out because I probably don't know it.
- Speed kills. I do not want to have to strain myself trying to flow your speech. I do not want you to flash me your case in order for me to be able to follow it. As noted above in the PF section, if I do not get it on my flow, it probably does not end up impacting the round. I am not afraid to sayspeed or clear, but by the time I realize I have to say it, it's probably too late.
- K debate. I really have no interest injudginga K.
- I really want some speech variety from y'all. Often, whenI'm judging a congress round, I'm serving as aparliamentarian soI'm with you for several sessions. As a result, Ishould be able to get to see you do a variety of different speeches. I actually have a spreadsheet I use to track everyone's speeches throughout the round, what number speech they gave on each bill, which side they argue for, how often they speak, etc. After the round is over and I'm preparing my ballot, I will consult that to see whether you gave a variety of speech types. Were you consistently in the first group of speakers? Did you give mid-round speeches where you bring clash and directrefutation? Did you mainly give crystallization speeches? Or, did you do a mix of it all? You should be striving to be in the last category. Congress is not about proving you can give the best prepared speech or you can crystallize every bill. It'sabout showing how well-rounded you are.
- Speaking of prepared speeches. My opinion is that you should only come in with a fully prepared speech if you are planning to give the authorship/sponsorship or the very first negative speech. After that, your speechesshould be no more than 50% canned and the rest should be extemporaneous. This is a debate event. It is not a speech event. Prepared speeches in the mid and late stages of debate are a disservice to yourself and yourfellowcongresspersons.
- PREP. I have judged a lot of congress over the years. I've judged prelims, elims, and finals at NSDA, NCFL, and the TOC. I am franklyCOMPLETELY AND UTTERLY TIRED of y'all having to take a 10+ minute break in between every piece of legislation to either A) prep speeches; B) establish perfect balance between aff and neg; or, C) do research on the bill. A and C really frustrate me. I know y'all are busy. I know that sometimes legislation comes out only a few days before the tournament. And I know that sometimes there are a lot of pieces of legislation to research. But y'all should be spending time to prepare your arguments and have research so that all you're doing mid-round is finding evidence to refute or extend something that happened in the round. And the way tournaments are structured these days, it is rare for a round to have so many people in the chamber that not everyone can speak on a bill.
Irondale High School - social studies teacher, classic debate coach, speech coach
· I am a more "traditional" judge who prefers a slower debate.
· I do not currently coach LD so assume I do not know jargon or acronyms specific to the current topic.
· I expect arguments to clearly link to a value/criterion or some other sort of framework.
· I've only seen a couple rounds where I thought the level of abuse from a debater truly justified theory. Don't run theory as just another argument; I prefer that you debate the resolution.
· Other off-case arguments are acceptable if they're presented in a manner that is accessible to your opponent. If your opponent is not familiar with this style, do not run these arguments as a strategic advantage; I will give you low speaker points. Note that I don't have much experience evaluating off-case arguments so run at your own risk. It'd be more strategic to incorporate creative and critical arguments within your case.
· Evidence should consist of direct quotes, not paraphrasing. If your opponents are paraphrasing, I encourage you to ask for the cut card from which this paraphrase is based.
· In the 2nd rebuttal, it's recommended that you cover the major arguments the 1st rebuttal made on your case (especially turns).
· On the line-by-line in the summary, please signpost, i.e. tell me where you are on the flow. Refer to arguments by their card name and which contention/subpoint they are in. Don't just say "Remember that Smith tells you..." as an extension without saying where it is on the flow and fully responding to what the other team said against it.
· First summary should focus on extending offense, though extending defense on what you think the second summary will go for can be strategic. Respond to the second rebuttal; don't just extend your offense like that speech didn't happen. If the second-speaking summary does not respond to defense, whether it was extended in the first summary or not, I will only consider it mitigatory if the first-speaking final focus extends it.
· If an argument isn't extended in both summary and final focus, I won't vote on it.
· I have a high threshold for extensions in the final focus. Even if it was dropped by the other team, I expect you to spend more than one sentence / five seconds extending it. Reexplain the card and explain why it matters in the round.
· No theory, kritiks, etc. If there is real abuse (racism, oppressive language, misconstruing evidence, etc.), definitely call it out during the round, but do not run one of these types of arguments. I do not believe they should be in PF.
· Be nice during cross-x. Do not be aggressive, sarcastic, or condescending. I have high expectations for decorum and respect during cross-x.
· I won't call for evidence unless its validity comes into question in a speech and this challenge is extended across the flow through the end of the round.
· I judge based on my flow and have never given an "automatic loss" to a team. However, I'd consider an automatic loss if there is racist/oppressive/inappropriate conduct, or if PF partners excessively communicate with each other during individual speeches and crossfires.
Feel free to ask me questions before the round!
Updated 4/22/23, with Extemp Speaking thoughts at the bottom
Graduated Bloomington Jefferson HS in 2012. Did Policy/Extemp and a little Congress. Wasn't great at any of these events.
Coach of the Bloomington Debate team 2018-present. Our program is now exclusively a Congress team, we did some PF in 18/19. Judge mostly Congress, but get ~12 assorted PF/LD rounds a year.
I work in finance doing institutional asset management when I'm not coaching. I also play and coach ultimate frisbee in my free time and watch any and all sports, do with that what you will.
I love to discuss specific feedback, either email (below) or find me after a round. Email after a tournament (Congress especially) is great if you want more feedback. I like to disclose when allowed.
Two important rules (all formats)
1. Be respectful. If you say anything offensive (racist/sexist/homophobic/etc.) I will not hesitate to give you the auto-loss or the worst score I can.
2. I'm always down to give you more feedback, email is great (arthurpaulharris at gmail dot com) or just come find me at a tournament. I will answer any question about something on any ballot I put out.
Short Paradigm [PF/LD/CX] (update 9/27/22):
If there's an email chain pls add me, email above. The debate will be best if you do what you do best - I'll do my best to adapt to you.
For PF/LD: I will vote on what's on the flow (or do my absolute best to). I flow on paper but my pen is still decently fast (see below about speed). I'd say I fall somewhere on the tech side of the tech/truth continuum, but not nearly as close to tech as maybe some very tech focused debaters would like me to be.
1. Your speed is probably fine, your clarity probably needs work, you should def slow down for anything you want on my ballot at the end of the round and an argument made in your first speech needs to be extended in every other speech to weigh at the end of the round. PF PEOPLE - please slow down and differentiate your tags/sources from your cards - y'all read everything at one speed and I sometimes struggle to get all your cards on the flow. Specifically - the reason Policy reads then spreads the card text is so the judge can get everything on the flow - if you reverse this order (read the ev then slap the author at the bottom, or don't audibly separate from card to card), you're kinda asking for me to miss things.
2. I def don't know any of your topic specific jargon and I almost certainly don't know any of the conventions/norms/customs of your event. That means - you probably want to explain an acronym if it'll be important and you'll want to have clear explanations and impacts to your "speed bad" theory or whatever event specific theory you read.
3. Prep time abuse is bad - so far I've only seen this in PF so PF people please get with the program. If it becomes an issue in round I will insert myself and start keeping the prep time myself. When you are out of time you have about 5 seconds to start talking before I get annoyed at you wasting time or stealing prep. Also - I've noticed a huge increase in rebuttals that go 4:10 or summaries that go 3:08. I will put my pen down at the end of the allowed speaking time, you're welcome to keep talking but none of it is going on the flow. I know it seems marginal (and that you don't have enough time as is), but those extensions net you 3-5% extra speech time and someone (probably the judge!) needs to hold the line.
4. I assume that when you read evidence you are reading directly from the source. If you are paraphrasing (apparently allowed in PF) you need to make it clear you are doing so. Failure to provide the evidence you paraphrased to the other team in a reasonable amount of time when asked will create a very real link to a theory argument to drop your entire arg. If you set up ev sharing, you should 100% send all cards before you start speaking. This will save time and make everyone's life easier, please just do it this way.
5. I think teams have been most frustrated with my decision when they're read more cards/arguments but didn't spend much time in the last rebuttals/final focus explaining the role of my ballot and weighing. Condensing, weighing and explanation will get you a lot of wins in front of me. Smart cross applications and analytics will also get you a long way in front of me. Additionally, specificity of uniqueness/link and impact scenario will go a long way in front of me, and teams that read a specific scenario have beaten teams reading generic turns quite frequently.
Thoughts on things in debates (not sure how many of these are in LD, pretty sure very few are in PF):
Ks: I'm not a bright or well read individual. I understand the basics of what I believe y'all refer to now as "soft left" Ks, but my lack of substantial liberal arts education means I'm not familiar with anything more critical than them. I will do my best to judge you though, however on kritiks as with any other arguments I need to hear a clear, specific link, a reason the kritik is competitive and solvency. You can try to convince me some or none of these are needed, but it'll be an uphill battle for you.
CPs: Usually fine. I think I prefer that they're not topical, but can be persuaded otherwise. Need to be competitive. Perms aren't an advocacy but I also find the perm does a good job of proving non-competitiveness most of the time.
Theory: Theory with a voter of dropping a team: really high bar, need to prove in round abuse. Theory to drop an arg: Somewhat lower bar, would still like in round abuse. As I get older I find reasonableness to be a better standard for judging theory. Your theory probably needs an interpretation, a violation, an impact and a voter. I've come to understand there's a subset of theory in PF called "tricks" - if your trick doesn't meet this burden I probably don't care for it. In PF, if you want to read "Topicality", I think the most reasonable voter is to drop any argument that isn't topical. You still need to run an interpretation, have a violation and explain what the impacts of non-topicality are. I can be persuaded you should win on T if your opponent reads non-topical advantages, but the burden is high on you to win the impact/voter level.
DAs: Obviously these are fine, need a clear uniqueness and link story. The more complicated your link chain the higher your explanatory burden will be and the lower my bar to evaluating defense for the other team will be.
Short Paradigm [Congress] :
1. Debating makes up ~80% of your rank in front of me, speaking is ~20%. Argument quality is an important sub-element of debating (note - creative link chains are acceptable, you just need to explain them well). I am a human though, so masterful rhetorical skill can get you a good rank if you have it.
2. POs - I am PO friendly in that every PO starts somewhere in the top half of my ballot (new policy for 22/23 season). I track P/R for speeches/questions. If you make no P/R mistakes (or correct yourself quickly if you do), call speakers/questioners about as fast as I can track, have a handle on the rules for motions/votes and keep the round running smoothly the worst you can do is 3rd (probably). You can find detailed examples of how to move up/down as the PO in my extended paradigm linked below. For the 22/23 season, I think the PO leniency has bent too far in favor of POs, so mistakes in P/R will start to carry harsher penalties in Varsity/Open rounds.
3. If there is a broken cycle (i.e. no one stands for aff so there are two negs in a row or vice versa) - giving that broken cycle speech is almost always a surefire way to move to the bottom of my ballot. You need to bring new refutation to the table and it needs to be a clincher for the round. You're almost always better off moving previous question and taking your P/R to the next bill.
4. I am probably one of the more friendly judges for you if you like to run critical theory arguments. I can't say this will ever be a good strat for you because I'm never your only judge, but if shooters gotta shoot - let it be you.
5. Please remember to have fun. If you aren't having fun there's really no point to any of this.
Assorted Musing/Long Paradigm:
For the 22/23 Congress season, some observations:
I think the bias in the aff/neg split has firmly entrenched itself on the neg - this is probably due to a) poor bill quality in MN and b) assuming an authorship means prepping a 1N is more "guaranteed". That said, I think going aff can be very advantageous this year, especially given the quality of neg args that folks seem to be running against legislation that is, big picture, a *good* idea.
The trend of putting every bill authored by someone in the chamber on the agenda needs to stop. The legislation people are putting out in MN is NOT good enough for authorship to guarantee the floor, and because y'all REFUSE to move on at an appropriate time these bills kill speech ranks for ~2-3 cycles of debaters. I promise you you will not lose ranks in front of me for being "mean" and voting against dockets that have bad bills on them just because someone wrote that bill - in fact if I observe you lobbying against poorly researched and/or "shallow cycle" bills in the face of opposition from folks "just trying to be nice" I'll probably be more inclined to use that as a tiebreaker to move you up in rank for recognizing that debate takes precedence.
PO bias seems to have bent back in favor of POs - in order to compensate I will have a much stricter tolerance for PO mistakes on precedence/recency for both questioners and speakers. Additionally I will start to judge PO speed on a stricter scale when it comes to selecting questioners in particular (obviously accounting for debaters that may take too long to stand or stand mid questioning).
Also for POs - please cut down on the words you say. We don't need to know how long the speech was. We know and TRUST YOU to know how many questioning blocks are next. We only need to know if aff or neg is next speaker, not which number it is. If you really need to thank everyone, please do it off the clock after the round.
I used to have a whole lot of words here about the way I think about and judge debate. I probably won't update it a lot but I probably won't change it a lot either. I've moved that to a google doc which you can view here. Everything is still up to date and accurate as of December 2021.
Extemp Speaking Paradigm, updated pre MN State Tournament 2023:
How to win the ballot, Extemp Speaking:
Answer the question.
Actually answer the question that was asked, not a variant or similar question. At state this is going to pick trickier than usual (probably), because the questions tend to be multifaceted.
Usually, the easiest way to make sure you answer the question is to have a thesis, instead of just a yes/no. You are usually then forced to make sure your subpoints of analysis always link back to the thesis, which in turn answers the question.
Whether or not you use a thesis, you want to spend time explaining why your subpoints reinforce or prove your thesis correct, and if you do have a thesis you need to explain why it is the best answer to the question
Depth > breadth - that is, I’d rather see you really focus on proving the logic behind a single claim per sub point rather than having a ton of different points of analysis or facts crammed into two minutes.
For example, if your first subpoint is that the ECB raising rates would but European banks under pressure, my preference is for you to explain a theory for why and develop out a clear picture of how and why banks would be in trouble in a rising rate environment (using maybe 1 or 2 sources), rather than telling me that 4 different sources show that 4 different European banks said they’d have trouble with an asset-liability mismatch if the ECB raises rates.
Another way of saying this is - I want you to demonstrate that you have an advanced understanding of what you’re talking about, rather than that you were able to read a bunch of headlines. Whatever you can do to give me that impression, do that.
Source quality - this is one area of “flash” that I can be impressed - deploying underutilized sources (and explaining why they are great sources) is something I personally really like.
Even if you don’t have any books or papers or super underutilized sources to run out, using higher quality sources of common usage (i.e. think tanks and analysis pieces) instead of common news sources (i.e. the NYT, Reuters, etc) is usually good.
Delivery - I am pretty firmly in camp analysis > delivery, but am probably an outlier on any panel in this regard. If its the State final you’re all going to be delivering at a level that clears my threshold, so really the key is to not get mentally down on yourself if you stumble or aren’t as smooth as you’d like early on because I don’t care about that at all.
Probably the best way to think about winning a round is to treat answering the question like you’re engaging in a debate vs an imaginary opponent who is trying to disprove your answer to the question. This will force you to:
Defend the veracity of your claims, which in turn will make them more persuasive
Will likely lead you to conditioning your claims with “even-if” statements, which again will increase their persuasiveness
Probably means you’re presenting a more nuanced picture of the world, which is good.
Todd Hering-PF Paradigm
I have coached debate since 1991 in a variety of formats.
Evidence ethics are important to me. Debaters should accurately represent the conclusions of credible authors. I do not support paraphrasing, but if you do, it needs to strictly conform to the original source.
I prefer fewer arguments that are well-developed with clear warranting. “Blippy” debate—many claims with limited explanation—is ineffective and unpleasant. I am unlikely to vote for an argument that isn’t developed over the course of the round.
Stylistically, I do not enjoy fast debate. In my ideal world, debate would develop and reward communication skills that are relevant beyond the world of competitive debate. I do understand that there are some competitive realities with time limits that force debaters sometimes to speak quickly. Also, being polite in cross-fire is expected.
I have been judging debate in MN regularly since at least 2004. I judge at invitationals, Sections, NatQuals, and State. I started judging LD debate, but as PF has grown in MN, I now judge mostly PF debate. I also started coaching PF in 2017.
When judging debate I want you, the debaters, to prove to me why you should win my ballot. I listen for explanations as to WHY your contention is stronger or your evidence more reliable than the opponents' contention/evidence. Just claiming that your evidence/arguments are better does not win my ballot.
I listen carefully to the evidence entered in to the debate to make sure it matches the tag you have given it. If a card is called by the other team, it better have a complete source cite and show the quoted material either highlighted or underlined with the rest of the words there. The team providing the card should be able to do so expeditiously. I expect that author, source, and date will be presented. The first time the ev is presented, I do not want to hear a paraphrase. Later paraphrased references in the round, of course, is a different story.
The affirmative summary speech is the last time new arguments should be entered in the debate.
If arguments are dropped in summaries, they are dropped from my flow.
When time expires for a speech, I stop flowing.
I expect that debaters should understand their case and their arguments well enough that they can explain them clearly and concisely. If a debater cannot respond effectively to case questions in Cross Fire, that does not bode well.
I expect debaters to show respect for each other and for the judge. Rude behavior will result in low speaker points.
PF and LD are separate debate events, but I don't think my view as a judge changes much between the two activities. I want to hear the resolution debated. If one side basically avoids the resolution and the other side spends some time answering those arguments PLUS supporting their case on the resolution, I will likely lean towards the side that is more resolutional. In other words, if one side chooses to run something that does not include looking at the pros and cons of the actual resolution, and chooses to ignore the resolution for the majority of the debate, that probably won't bode well for that team.
I only give oral critiques and disclose when required to in out-rounds. I promise I will give a thorough RFD on my ballot.
Chris McDonald (He/Him) - email@example.com
Use the above email for any email chains during the round.
Head Coach Eagan High School in Minnesota
While I mainly have coached and judged Policy Debate for the past 35 years I do judge my fair share of LD and Public Forum Debate Rounds.
Policy Debate - Please know that while I used to judge a lot of rounds throughout the season in policy debate it has been 5 years since I judged more than just a handful of policy rounds. I do work with my school's varsity policy team.
My philosophy has pretty much remained consistent throughout my career. I consider policy debate to be a test of policy based ideas between two teams. How those teams approach the topic and frame the debate is entirely up to them. Below are a few things to know about me on some specifics but please know my primary objective is for us to have an enjoyable round of debate.
Delivery Speed - Since it has been a few years for me since last judging lots of policy debate my ability to listen to really fast debate has faded. Please keep it to a slightly slower speed of delivery especially using the online platforms. I will let you know if you are unclear or going too fast by verbally indicating such during your speech. On a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being oratory speed and 10 being approaching the sound barrier (only joking here) I would place myself as a 7 these days.
Topicality - I enjoy a good topicality debate but have found that over the years teams are taking too many shortcuts with the initial development of the topicality violation. I prefer topicality to have a clear definition, a clearly developed violation, standards for evaluating the violation and reasons why it is a voting issue. For the affirmative side you really need to engage with the topicality violation and provide a counter interpretation that supports your interpretation of the resolution. Topicality is distinct from framework.
Framework - I also enjoy evaluating a debate when framework is clearly articulated and argued by both the affirmative and negative sides. Framework is focused around how you would like me to evaluate the arguments in the round. Do you prefer a consequentialist framework, a deontological framework, etc..
Critiques - I am fine with critical approaches by the negative and the affirmative sides. For the affirmative please keep in mind that you will need to defend your critical affirmative as either a topical representation of criminal justice reform or why it is important for us to debate your affirmative even if it isn't necessarily within the boundaries of the topic.
Flow - Please label all arguments and positions clearly throughout the debate. Signposting has become a lost art. Debaters doing an effective job of signposting and labeling will be rewarded with higher speaker points.
Disadvantages - Please be certain to articulate your links clearly and having clear internal links helps a great deal.
Counter plans - I think counter plans are an essential tool for negative teams. Please note that I am not a big fan of multiple conditional counter plans. Running a couple of well developed counter plans is better than running 4 or 5 underdeveloped counter plans. Counter plans should have a text to compete against the affirmative plan text.
Theory - General theory in debate rounds like conditionality and that are fine but have rarely been round winners without a lot of time devoted to why theory should be considered over substance.
If you have any questions please let me know and I will happily answer those questions.
1. I am not a fan of theory as it plays out in LD debate rounds. Most of the theory that is argued is pretty meaningless when it comes to the topics at hand. I will only consider topicality if the affirmative is presenting a plan text in the round. I ask that the debaters debate the topic as it is written and not as they would like it to be.
2. Beyond my dislike for theory you are free to pretty much debate the round as you see fit. Please keep your speed to a level where you are clear especially considering buffering time with online platforms you should probably slow down from what you think you are capable of during in-person debates.
3. Evidence should be shared using an email chain. Please include me at firstname.lastname@example.org
4. If you have specific questions please ask. I will disclose at the end of the round but I will also respect the tournaments schedule and work to keep it on time.
1. Evidence is very important to me. I prefer direct quotation of evidence over paraphrasing but understand that paraphrasing is allowed in PF. Please make note of the new NSDA rule regarding paraphrasing. Source Citations: make sure that you present enough of a source citation that I should have no problem locating the evidence you present in the round. This would include the author or periodical name and date at a minimum. So we are clear Harvard in 2014 is not a source citation. Harvard is a really great University but has, to my knowledge never written a word without the assistance of some human that attends or works at Harvard.
2. There is to be no game playing with regards to evidence sharing during or after the round. If you are asked for evidence by your opponents you must produce it in a timely manner or I will discount the evidence and only treat the argument as an unsubstantiated assertion on your part. Even if it means handing over one of your laptops you must provide evidence for inspection by the other team so that they may evaluate it and respond to the evidence in subsequent speeches.
3. Prep Time - you are only provided with 3 minutes of prep time. Please use it wisely. I will only give a little latitude with regards to untimed evidence sharing or organizing your flows, but please be efficient and quick about it.
4. Argument choices are completely up to the debaters. I prefer a good substantive debate with clear clash and that the debaters compare and weigh the arguments they feel are important for their side to prevail as the debate comes into focus but the substance of those arguments is completely within the control of the teams debating.
5. Please respect your opponents and treat everyone involved in the debate round with the utmost respect. Speaker points will be effected by any rude behavior on the part of a debater.
6. I will disclose and discuss my decision at the end of the round so long as there is time and the tournament stays on schedule.
7. Finally, please remember to have fun and enjoy the experience.
Pronouns: They / She
My Debate Experience: I have been involved in debate since 2011. I competed at the high school and collegiate level in Minnesota. I have 4 years of coaching experience at schools in the state. Currently in grad school so taking a break from coaching, but am a lead instructor at the Minnesota Debate Institute. Experience with all formats.
For all Formats: Any arguments that are offensive are not going to be evaluated, you WILL lose speaker points, and probably will lose the round. Please don't make me stop the round by saying something offensive.
TL;DR: Run whatever you want, but make sure you are clear and can explain the arguments to me. Do clear impacting and weighing for me, don't make me search through the flow (hint: I won't do it for you). Have clear voters. Be respectful of your opponent and the debate space.
I have realized that most of y'all go way faster than I can flow (especially with analytics). Please slow down a little bit... thanks. Take your max speed level and go about 65% of that in front of me. Note: I will not yell clear. I will just put my pen down. Therefore, I encourage you to look up for the taglines and impact analysis to make sure I am still with you.
I am down with mostly anything. I believe that debaters are at their best when they run case positions that they are confident and comfortable with running. I will do my best as your judge to understand and follow what you are saying. I am flow-oriented so I will not intervene on arguments so... you need to tell me where I need to vote and why.
Pro Tip: Don't just read things to read them, have a strategy and purpose behind them.
Public Forum Paradigm:
2023 Update: Heyo! Take your fastest speed and go about 60% of that in front of me if you are doing a lot of nitty gritty analytic responses or weighing. I have a really hard time catching the relevant analyses if you fly through it faster than my brain can even process it.
- Do NOT paraphrase evidence and make sure your evidence has warrants. I am not the person to paraphrase cards in front of... I will not evaluate them. Nor am I someone who will buy the one sentence card that is supposedly the end all be all evidence. You need warrants.
- Make sure that you are impacting your contentions. I NEED weighing on the contention level to evaluate between two opposing claims. If you are running short-term impacts and your opponent is running long-term impacts, I NEED the clash and weighing between which is preferable for me to evaluate on.
- Speaking of clash - please do it.
- I am open to any type of arguments/styles in PF. If you want to try out some new strategies, DO IT! This is your time to run what you want to. I can give you feedback on what strategies worked and what didn't work in front of me.
- I am very flow oriented. Extended through ink is one of my greatest pet peeves. Also, if you are making a new argument in the final focus, I will recognize that and probably will not evaluate it.
- 2nd Rebuttal - you need to go over your own case. At the very least, I need you to cover the turns that are on the flow. On the flip side... do not go over your own case in 1st rebuttal, you are wasting time in my book.
- Top ranking students in chambers that I judge remain active throughout the session (multiple high-quality speeches, questions, and noticeably paying attention to other speakers) and have nuanced analysis that builds off of other speakers (refutations or supportive analysis oriented).
- Canned speeches are not super welcome unless it is the first aff or first neg speech.
- Clash is the most important aspect missing from CD. Build off of other speakers, add analysis, and respond to the opposing claims when appropriate.
- Remain as active as possible in chamber throughout the session. I pay attention to who is asking the questions and the types of questions you are asking. If you get a 30 second block, use the whole time!
- Analysis and warrants to support you claims is critical. Lower speaker points (under 4) demonstrate a lack of content or analysis of the arguments. If you wish to obtain a score of 4 or higher in your speech, make sure you are using sources and explaining the context surrounding your warrant/data and build off of other speakers before you.
I am a teacher at coach at Eastview High School (MN). Previous stops along the way have included Apple Valley HS (MN), Chanhassen HS (MN), and NSU University School (FL). I have coached for almost twenty years.
You can ask me questions in round if you wish. Yes, I can "handle speed", though I don't know that I've seen many fast PF debaters. I have seen many blippy PF debaters. To me, speed does not equate to 40 cards, of varying word count, that are blippily extended. I very much prefer depth and extension of ideas than extension of tons of author names that all don't say a whole lot.
I am a head debate coach at East Ridge High School in Minnesota with 8 years of debate under my belt and 10+ years of speech coaching / judging experience as well. I love both activities, and I love seeing creative / unique approaches to them. I've sent several students to Nationals in both speech and debate categories for the past several years.
In 'real life' I'm an intellectual property attorney. I love good arguments in all types of debate. But I will NOT make logic jumps for you. You need to do the legwork and lay out the argument for me, step by step. I LOVE legal arguments, but most of all I love a good Story. Frame your arguments for me. Make the impacts CLEAR. (e.g. in PF / LD - WEIGH them.)
I vote on topicality in any type of debate that I judge. If your arguments are non-topical, and you get called on it, they will be struck from my flow. Everyone got the same resolution / bills, that's what I want to hear arguments about.
I am NOT a fan of Kritiks - you got the resolution ahead of time. Debate it.
THIS IS A COMMUNICATION ACTIVITY. Your goal is to effectively communicate your arguments to me. If you are talking too fast to be intelligible, you are not effectively communicating.
If you make my hand cramp taking notes, I'll be crabby. I am a visual person and my notes are how I will judge the round. If I miss an argument because you were talking at light speed, that's your fault, not mine! :)
Attitude / Aggressiveness
100%, above all, you are human beings and citizens of the world. I expect you to act like it. I HATE rudeness or offensive behavior in any debate format. Be kind, be inclusive. By all means, be aggressive, but don't be rude.
Public Forum: I am a huge framework fan. You have the evidence, frame the story for me. If you give me a framework and explain why, under that framework, your evidence means I vote for you, I will. Don't make me do summersaults to get to a decision. If only one team gives me a framework, that's what I'll use.
Re: Summary / FF - I expect the debate to condense in the summary / final focus - and I expect you to condense the story accordingly. Look for places to cross-apply. I do need arguments to extend through every speech to vote for them - but I do not expect you to reiterate all evidence / analysis. Summarizing and weighing is fine for me.
WEIGH arguments for me. Especially if we're talking apples and oranges - are we comparing money to lives? Is there a Risk-Magnitude question I should be considering?
Re: new arguments in GC/FF - I won't weigh new ARGUMENTS, but I will consider new EVIDENCE / extensions.
Re: Argument / Style - I'm here to weigh your arguments. Style is only important to the extent you are understandable.
I generally don't buy nuclear war arguments. I don't believe any rational actor gets to nuclear war.
Lincoln-Douglas: If you give me a V/C pairing, I expect you to tie your arguments back to them. If your arguments don't tie back to your own V/C, I won't understand their purpose. This is a values debate. Justify the value that you choose, and then explain why your points best support your value.
Congress: This is debate. Beautiful speeches, alone, belong in Speech categories. I expect to see that you can speak well, but I am not thrilled to listen to the same argument presented three times. I expect to see clash, I expect to see good Q&A. I love good rebuttal / crystallization speeches.
I DO rank POs (assuming they deserve it) - without good POs, there is no good Congressional Debate. If you PO well in front of me, you will be ranked well.
World Schools: This actually is my favorite form of debate. I want to see respectful debate, good use of POIs, and organized content. I've judge WSD at Nationals for the last several years and I do adhere to the WSD norms. Please do not give me "regular debate" speed - I want understandable, clear speeches.
- I teach English 11, Journalism, and College Writing at Moorhead High School. This is my 9th year at MHS.
- I have coached speech for the past 9 seasons, primarily PA events (Discussion, Ex. Speaking, GS, Info, OO).
- I have been the Head Debate Coach at MHS since 2017 when we revived the program. Over the past six years, I have coached PF and Congress. Our team also competes in LD.
- I regularly judge PF and Congress during the regular season and have judged Congress and PF at State for the past four years. I've also judged PF at national circuit tournaments and NSDA Nationals. In speech, I've judged all events at the local, regional, and national level since 2015.
A more detailed paradigm is below but, regardless of the event, please know that respect, integrity, and decorum are paramount. Offensive language, condescension, and aggression at any point in the round will ensure a loss/lowest possible rank. In short, be kind.
- Speed is fine so long as it doesn't come at the cost of clarity. Quality over quantity usually prevails. Clear signposting and extending voters goes a long way toward winning the round. Take the time to ensure that 'dropped' contentions are fully explained.
- Please do not bombard us with cards. Evidence (directly and appropriately quoted) is important but I am far more interested in your analysis and deeper explanation. Demonstrate your understanding and show us how that evidence functions with regard to your opponent's claims and the case you are building.
- Stay cool and composed, especially during cross. Shouting matches serve little purpose. When you ask a question, I expect that you actually want to hear the answer.
- Timing - While I expect debaters to honor time restrictions and keep record, I will also keep track and will hold you to those parameters. Please don't abuse it.
- Much like PF, it's quality over quantity for me. Two, or maybe three, sub points defending or negating a piece of legislation with sound, clear analysis is more important than a lengthy list of reasons with little time to explain. Long intros that meander before reaching the thesis, to me, are not the best use of time (I know, I sound like a curmudgeon. Have fun with it but not at the expense of dropping or rushing a point previewed in the intro).
- Demonstrate your understanding of the bill/resolution and its language. Reference specifics within the legislation (section and/or line numbers are helpful). I think it can be easy to find small, grammatical or typographical errors and point solely to that as a reason for negating (and in some cases, those issues should be noted), but please take the time to debate the merits of the legislation as well.
- Active listening - Above all, this one stands out to me the most and usually becomes my tiebreaker when ranks are super close. This can be as small as directly referencing -- by name -- previous speakers and their points or even making occasional eye contact while others are speaking . . . Active listening also means building upon established claims/reasons in your speeches and in questioning. If there's nothing new or insightful to add, it's best to move to previous Q to retain your spot in line. On a related note, please make an effort to correctly pronounce the names of your fellow competitors (and if yours is mispronounced, please correct them...and correct me too).
- POs - I tend to start POs in the top 5-6 of my rankings and adjust based on the overall organization, order, and smoothness of the round. I try to track P/R when scoring and definitely do as a Parli. Small errors can be forgiven (we're all human) if recognized but, especially late in the season, running for PO tells me that you are comfortable with the job. As such, I will hold POs to that standard much like the standards set for Reps/Sens in the round.
I am currently the Assistant Coach for East Ridge High School in Woodbury, Minnesota. I coach Congressional Debate and Public Forum.
High School Debate (Iowa): Public Forum Debate, Congressional Debate, and Speech
College Debate (Loyola U): Parliamentary Debate
Coach/Mentoring: The Chicago Debate League, MN Urban Debate League
Retired Attorney – Business Law for pay and Constitutional Law for fun.
-Congressional Debate is not a Speech event; I am looking for argumentation skills that further the debate.
-I encourage signposting, great intros, and a quick summary conclusion. When appropriate, a joke or pun is always welcome.
-I expect clash, cited evidence, and rebuttal.
-I also appreciate students who immerse themselves in the debate and act as if their votes have importance to their constituents back home.
-The authorship or sponsorship speech should address the status quo, lay out the problem(s), and explain with specificity how the legislation solves it. The first con should be equally as strong. Second-round speeches and beyond should advance the debate – offer something new, clarify something that has been said, or refute something proffered.
-If you are speaking near the end of the debate, then a top-notch, crystallization speech is in order and very much enjoyed when done well.
-One amazing speech will always beat out three mediocre speeches.
-No same-sided questions...it does not further debate.
-Don't break the cycle of debate; either flip sides or give a speech on another piece of legislation.
-Refrain from the three Rs: Repeat, Rehash, Recycle.
-Make your arguments stronger, not louder.
-I expect you to treat your colleagues with respect and civility. Shouting, pointing fingers (literally), and being downright rude in questioning will drop you quickly. I like questions that further debate and shore up the arguments. I frown upon unsportsmanlike shenanigans – no “gotcha” or snarky questions. My frown will extend to chamber rankings.
Presiding Officer: Please consider the job of PO ONLY if you are comfortable with Parliamentary Procedure, keeping track of recency and precedence, and running a controlled chamber. If you are a presiding officer, I want it to run so smoothly and fairly that I never have to step in. I do not mind some levity, but this is also a competition. As PO, please explain your gaveling procedure, your understanding of recency and precedence, and how you call on representatives for questioning. Please do not call for "orders of the day" in front of me. Y'all are using it wrong to give your stats from the round.
Public Forum Debate:
>>>SPEED: I am a Coach, but I still can't write as fast as I hear you. You never said if it does not make it to my flow.
Off-time roadmaps work for me.
I am a fan of clear and smart frameworks.
Don't cherry-pick your evidence.
I want to hear debate on the NSDA PF resolution only. Run anything else at your own risk!
I really need narrative and great warranting - please extend them through the flow. Quantitative impacts mean nothing to me if I don't know how to weigh them.
Are you still terminally impacting to Nuclear War in 2023? If so, use caution because the probability is about 1%. I know that, you know that, and the academic literature states that.
I prefer line-by-line rebuttals.
Collapse as necessary to keep the debate sharp.
Please weigh in summary and final focus. If you want something to be a voting issue, put it in both the summary and final focus. If you don't weigh the round for me, I will, and I will use criteria that will definitely frustrate at least 50% of competitors in the round.
For WKU -
The last policy rounds I was in was around 2015 for context. I do err neg on most theory positions though agent counterplans do phase me. Other than that, the big division when it comes to other arguments I don't really have much of a stance on.
Affs at the end of the day I do believe need to show some semblance of change/beneficial action
Debate is good as a whole
Individual actions I don't think I have jurisdiction to act as judge over.
Who am I?
Assistant Director of Debate, The Blake School MN - 2014 to present
Co-Director, Public Forum Boot Camp(Check our website here) MN - 2021 to present
Assistant Debate Coach, Blaine High School - 2013 to 2014
This year marks my 14th in the activity, which is wild. I end up spending a lot of my time these days thinking not just about how arguments work, but also considering what I want the activity to look like. Personally, I believe that circuit Public Forum is in a transition period much the same that other events have experienced and the position that both judges and coaches play is more important than ever. That being said, I do think both groups need to remember that their years in high school are over now and that their role in the activity, both in and out of round, is as an educator first. If this is anyway controversial to you, I’d kindly ask you to re-examine why you are here.
Yes, this activity is a game, but your behavior and the way in which you participate in it have effects that will outlast your time in it. You should not only treat the people in this activity with the same levels of respect that you would want for yourself, but you should also consider the ways through which you’ve chosen in-round strategies, articulation of those strategies, and how the ways in which you conduct yourself out of round can be thought of as positive or negative. Just because something is easy and might result in competitive success does not make it right.
Prior to the round
Please add my personal email email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org to the chain. The second one is for organizational purposes and allows me to be able to conduct redos with students and talk about rounds after they happen.
The start time listed on ballots/schedules is when a round should begin, not that everyone should arrive there. I will do my best to arrive prior to that, and I assume competitors will too. Even if I am not there for it, you should feel free to complete the flip and send out an email chain.
The first speaking team should initiate the chain, with the subject line reading some version of “Tournament Name, Round Number - 1st Speaking Team(Aff or Neg) vs 2nd Speaking Team(Aff or neg)” I do not care what you wear(as long as it’s appropriate for school) or if you stand or sit. I have zero qualms about music being played, poetry being read, or non-typical arguments being made.
I will be personally timing rounds since plenty of varsity level debaters no longer know how clocks work. There is no grace period, there are no concluding thoughts. When the timer goes off, your speech or question/answer is over. Beyond that, there are a few things I will no longer budge on:
You must read from cut cards the first time evidence is introduced into a round. The experiment with paraphrasing in a debate event was an interesting one, but the activity has shown itself to be unable to self-police what is and what is not academically dishonest representations of evidence. Comparisons to the work researchers and professors do in their professional life I think is laughable. Some of the shoddy evidence work I’ve seen be passed off in this activity would have you fired in those contexts, whereas here it will probably get you in late elimination rounds.
The inability to produce a piece of evidence when asked for it will end the round immediately. Taking more than thirty seconds to produce the evidence is unacceptable as that shows me you didn’t read from it to begin with.
Arguments that are racist, sexist, transphobic, etc. will end the round immediately in an L and as few speaker points as Tab allows me to give out.
Questions about what was and wasn’t read in round that are not claims of clipping are signs of a skill issue and won’t hold up rounds. If you want to ask questions outside of cross, run your own prep. A team saying “cut card here” or whatever to mark the docs they’ve sent you is your sign to do so. If you feel personally slighted by the idea that you should flow better and waste less time in the round, please reconsider your approach to preparing for competitions that require you to do so.
Defense is not “sticky.” If you want something to count in the round, it needs to be included in your team’s prior speech. The idea that a first speaking team can go “Ah, hah! You forgot about our trap card” in the final focus after not extending it in summary is ridiculous and makes a joke out of the event.
These are not set in stone, and have changed over time. Running contrary to me on these positions isn’t a big issue and I can be persuaded in the context of the round.
Tech vs truth
To me, the activity has weirdly defined what “technical” debate is in a way that I believe undermines the value of the activity. Arguments being true if dropped is only as valid as the original construction of the argument. Am I opposed to big stick impacts? Absolutely not, I think they’re worth engaging in and worth making policy decisions around. But, for example, if you cannot answer questions regarding what is the motivation for conflict, who would originally engage in the escalation ladder, or how the decision to launch a nuclear weapon is conducted, your argument was not valid to begin with. Asking me to close my eyes and just check the box after essentially saying “yadda yadda, nuclear winter” is as ridiculous as doing the opposite after hearing “MAD checks” with no explanation.
Teams I think are being rewarded far too often for reading too many contentions in the constructive that are missing internal links. I am more than just sympathetic to the idea that calling this out amounts to terminal defense at this point. If they haven’t formed a coherent argument to begin with, teams shouldn’t be able to masquerade like they have one.
There isn’t a magical number of contentions that is either good or bad to determine whether this is an issue or not. The benefit of being a faster team is the ability to actually get more full arguments out in the round, but that isn’t an advantage if you’re essentially reading two sentences of a card and calling it good.
In PF debate only, I default to a position of reasonability. I think the theory debates in this activity, as they’ve been happening, are terribly uninteresting and are mostly binary choices.
Is disclosure good? Yes
Is paraphrasing bad? Yes
Distinctions beyond these I don’t think are particularly valuable. Going for cheapshots on specifics I think is an okay starting position for me to say this is a waste of time and not worth voting for. That being said, I feel like a lot of teams do mis-disclose in PF by just throwing up huge unedited blocks of texts in their open source section. Proper disclosure includes the tags that are in case and at least the first and last three words of a card that you’ve read. To say you open source disclose requires highlighting of the words you have actually read in round.
That being said, answers that amount to whining aren’t great. Teams that have PF theory read against them frequently respond in ways that mostly sound like they’re confused/aghast that someone would question their integrity as debaters and at the end of the day that’s not an argument. Teams should do more to articulate what specific calls to do x y or z actually do for the activity, rather than worrying about what they’re feeling. If your coach requires you to do policy “x” then they should give you reasons to defend policy “x.” If you’re consistently losing to arguments about what norms in the activity should look like, that’s a talk you should have with your coach/program advisor about accepting them or creating better answers.
These are hands down the worst thing that PF debate has come up with. If something in round arises to the issue of student safety, then I hope(and maybe this is misplaced) that a judge would intervene prior to a debater saying “do something.” If something is just a dumb argument, or a dumb way to have an argument be developed, then it’s either a theory issue or a competitor needs to get better at making an argument against it.
The idea that these one-off sentences somehow protect students or make the activity more aware of issues is insane. Most things I’ve heard called an IVI are misconstruing what a student has said, are a rules violation that need to be determined by tab, or are just an incomplete argument.
Overall, I’m sympathetic to these arguments made in any event, but I think that the PF version of them so far has left me underwhelmed. I am much better for things like cap, security, fem IR, afro-pess and the like than I am for anything coming from a pomo tradition/understanding. Survival strategies focused on identity issues that require voting one way or the other depending on a student’s identification/orientation I think are bad for debate as a competitive activity.
Kritiks should require some sort of link to either the resolution(since PF doesn’t have plans really), or something the aff has done argumentatively or with their rhetoric. The nonexistence of a link means a team has decided to rant for their speech time, and not included a reason why I should care.
Rejection alternatives are okay(Zizek and others were common when I was in debate for context) but teams reliant on “discourse” and other vague notions should probably strike me. If I do not know what voting for a team does, I am uncomfortable to do so and will actively seek out ways to avoid it.
1 minute summary of my paradigm: Have fun! Take the round seriously, but also realize that you are not actually shaping world policy, so be chill. My main three things I want to see in a round: be a good person in general (no -isms, don’t be rude to opponents, don’t steal prep or go way over time), come prepared (have plenty of evidence and produce it quickly, know your speeches well and be ready for cross), and guide me through the round (narrow down to key voters, tell me where and why I should vote for you, and please for the love of god weigh). I vote off the flow, essentially, so make my flow clear.
Background: 3 years of debate in PF mainly second speaker, competed on both local and national circuit. St Olaf College ‘24, double major History and Social Studies Education. I've been judging both PF, LD, and public address speech events for three years now.
Speeches: You should know your constructive speech well and be able to give it with some level of speaking skills, since it is prepared. I would love to have a little bit of framework given in constructive, plus looooots of evidence. For the rebuttal speech, I also want cards as to why your opponents points are invalid -- don’t just tell me they are wrong, you need to have cards to back it up -- unless you’ve got cards, it’s highly unlikely that I will buy your argument. Please no huge overviews, but please do give me a roadmap or just follow a logical flow. Second rebuttal would greatly benefit from responding to turns made by opponents, but it’s not a requirement. In summary, you need to narrow down what exactly you’re extending -- I love voters. Please strategically collapse, and dear god do not say “extend John Doe ‘15” because I will have absolutely no clue what that is since I do not flow card names -- I only flow what the card says/the evidence itself. Be willing to concede what you know you’ve already lost, it does you no favors to try and salvage a dead point. You should be weighing in summary, no matter what. In final focus, you should collapse even more and weigh so so so much more. Tell me exactly why I should vote for you, where I should vote off of, and why I should prefer your arguments. ONLY BRING UP ARGUMENTS EXTENDED THROUGH THE ROUND IN FINAL FOCUS. If you bring up arguments/evidence you’ve dropped by summary, then it will not make it on my flow. Furthermore, absolutely no new evidence in final focus.
Cross-Fire: I love cross-fire so much, in fact, I get wayyy too into it that I very rarely flow cross. Thus if something important comes up in cross, you need to bring it up in a speech for it to be on my flow. Please don’t ruin cross: no yelling, no rude behavior, no speaking over opponents (particularly if you’re male, please watch this. I do not appreciate trampling over women’s voices in debate), and no making points in cross, that’s for speeches. I enjoy pointed, aggressive but still polite cross the best.
Evidence: If you can’t tell by now, I place a very high value on evidence. I totally support people calling for cards, and while I do not count most card finding time as prep, if it gets to a certain point, I will. It should never take you more than 2 minutes to find your card. I will call for cards if you tell me to or if they are hotly contested. Summarizing is okay, just be honest with it and have the full card ready right away.
Theory: Gonna be honest, I flat out hate theory. You can try it, but there is veryyyyy little likelihood of me voting for you because of theory. I think theory is borderline abusive to smaller schools. Unless there is super clear abuse, then I will never vote for theory. Also, I will never ever buy disclosure theory. PF is about the resolution, stick to it.
Speed: I am pretty good with speed, however remember that I do judge mainly off of the flow, so if I can’t flow it, it’s going to be hard to vote for you. I will yell clear if you are going too fast.
Timing: I will try to time for you, and will try to time both sides prep as well. I will not do hand signals unless specifically asked for though, and even then make no promises since I do flow so much. Finish your sentence, and that should be it if you are over time. Don’t steal speech time, and don’t steal prep, that’s my biggest pet peeve.
Speaker Points: Debate is a speaking activity, so inflection, articulation, eye-contact, and emotive/passionate speaking are all appreciated. I love to hand out high speaks, so please let me!
Final Thoughts: Please do not be sexist, homophobic, racist, or anything nasty. Let me know if there’s anything I can do to make debate more accessible to you before the round-- trigger/content warnings are appreciated in making debate a more accessible space. If you have any questions before the round, ask away. Kudos to you if you read all the way through this! Looking forward to a great round!