NDT District VII Qualifier
2023 — Fredericksburg, VA/US
All Paradigm ListAll Paradigms: Show Hide
Debated: Norman High School (2005- 2009), University of Oklahoma (2009-2014)
Coached: University of Texas at San Antonio (2014-2015)
Caddo Magnet High School (2014-2015)
Baylor University (2015-2017)
University of Iowa (2017-2022
Assistant Director of Debate at James Madison University Aug. 2022-present
Updates- Feb 2023
Think of my paradigm as a set of suggestions for packaging or a request for extra explanation on certain arguments.
Despite the trend of judges unabashedly declaring themselves bad for certain arguments or predetermining the absolute win condition for arguments, I depart from this and will evaluate the debate in front of me.
Judge instruction, judge instruction, judge instruction!
Sometimes when we are deep in a literature base, we auto apply a certain lens to view the debate, but that lens is not automatic for the judge. Don’t assume that I will fill things in for you or presume that I automatically default to a certain impact framing, do that work!
Argument framing is your friend.
“If I win this, then this.”
Even if we lose ontology, here is why we can still win.” This is important for both debating the K and going for the K.
Zoom debate things:
Don’t start until you see my face, I will always have my camera on when you’re speaking!
Clarity over speed, please- listening to debates over zoom is difficult, start out more slowly and then pick up pace, but don’t sacrifice clarify for speed.
Ethics violations-Calling an ethics violation is a flag on the play and the debate stops. Please, please do not call an ethics violation unless you want to stop the debate.
Top level thoughts: I am not too biased against any particular argument, it's your round so do what you do, but do it well.
I did however primarily read kritiks, but I have also done strictly policy debate in my career, so I have been exposed to a wide variety of arguments and I am not someone who will always vote for the k or for FW. I like to think that I am a favorable judge for either.
I judge the debate in front of me and avoid judge intervention as much as possible. In this sense, I am more guided by tech because I don't think you can determine the truth of any debate within the time constraints. HOWEVER, I think you can use the truth to make more persuasive arguments- for example, you can have one really good argument supported by evidence that you're making compelling bc of its truthiness that could be more convincing or compelling than 3 cards that are meh.
I judge a good number of T v. K aff debates and am comfortable doing so.
Sometimes these debates are overly scripted and people just blow through their blocks at top speed, so I think it's important to take moments to provide moments of emphasis and major framing arguments. Do not go for everything in the 2NR, there is not enough time to fully develop your argument and answer theirs. Clearly identify what impact you are going for.
Internal link turns by the negative help to mitigate the impact turn arguments. Example- debating about AI is key to create AI that does not re-create racial bias. TVA can help here as well!
The definitions components of these debates are underutilized- for example, if the aff has a counter interp of AI, have that debate. Why is their interp bad and exacerbate the limits or ground issues? I feel like this this gives you stronger inroads to your impact arguments and provides defense to the aff's impact turns.
K aff's- It is way less compelling to go for impact turns without going for the aff and how they resolve the impact turns. You cannot just win that framework is bad. It is more strategic for the aff to defend a particular model of debate, not just a K of current debate.
Updated- It’s important to find balance between theoretical explanations, debate-ification of arguments, and judge instruction. More specifically- if you have a complex theory that you need to win to win the debate, you HAVE to spend time here. Err towards more simple explanation as opposed to overly convoluted.
Think about word efficiency and judge instruction for those theoretical arguments.
Although, I am familiar with some kritiks, I do not pretend to be an expert on all. There are still many kritiks that I have trouble understanding. That being said, I think that case specific links are the best. Generic links are not as compelling especially if you are flagging certain cards for me to call for at the end of the round. It seems that many times debaters don't take the time to really explain what the alternative is like, whether it solves part of the aff, is purely rejection, etc. If for some reason the alternative isn't extended or explained in the 2nr, I won't just apply it as a case turn for you. An impact level debate is also still important even if the K excludes the evaluation of specific impacts. It is really helpful to articulate how the K turns the case as well. On a framing level, do not just assume that I will believe that the truth claims of the affirmative are false, there needs to be in-depth analysis for why I should dismiss parts of the aff preferably with evidence to back it up.
The 2NR should CLEARLY identify if they are going for the alternative. If you are not, you need to be explicit about why you don't need the alt to win the debate. This means clear framework and impact framing arguments + turns case arguments. You need to explain why the links are sufficient turns case arguments for me to vote negative on presumption.
CPs- I really like counterplans especially if they are specific to the aff, which shows that you have done your research. Although PIKs are annoying to deal with if you are aff, I enjoy a witty PIK. However, make it clear that it is a PIK and explain why it solves the aff better or sufficiently. Explain sufficiency framing in the context of the debate you're having, don't just blurt out "view the cp through the lens of sufficiency"--that's not a complete argument.
Generic cps with generic solvency cards aren't really going to do it for me. However, if the evidence is good then I am more likely to believe you when you claim aff solvency. There needs to be a good articulation for why the aff links to the net benefit and good answers to cp solvency deficits, assuming there are any. Permutation debate needs to be hashed out on both sides, with Da/net benefits to the permutations made clear.
DAs- I find it pretty easy to follow DAs. However, if you go for it I am most likely going to be reading ev after the round, so it better be good. If your link cards are generic and outdated and the aff is better in that department, then you need to have a good reason why your evidence is more qualified, etc.
Make the story of the DA AND your scenario clear, DAs are great but some teams tend to go for a terminal impact without explanation of the scenario or the internal link args. Comparative analysis is important so I know how to evaluate the evidence that I am reading. Tell me why the link o/w the link turn etc. Impact analysis is very important, timeframe, probability, magnitude, etc., so I can know why the Da impacts are more important than the affs impacts. A good articulation of why the Da turns each advantage is extremely helpful because the 2ar will most likely be going for those impacts in the 2ar.
Theory- I generally err neg on theory unless there is a really good debate over it. Your generic blocks aren't going to be very compelling. If you articulate why condo causes a double turn, etc. specific to the round is a better way to go with it. I think that arguments such as vague alternatives especially when an alternative morphs during the round are good. However, minor theory concerns such as multiple perms bad aren't as legitimate in my opinion.
Other notes: If you are unclear, I can't flow you and I don't get the evidence as you read it, so clarity over speed is always preferable.
Don't be rude, your points will suffer. There is a difference between being aggressive and being a jerk.
Impact calc please, don't make me call for everyones impacts and force me to evaluate it myself. I don't want to do the work for you.
The last two rebuttals should be writing my ballot, tell me how I vote and why. Don't get too bogged down to give a big picture evaluation.
Accomplish something in your cross-x time, keep me interested, have an agenda during your cx and use the answers you get in cx and incorporate them into your speeches. Cx is wasted if you pick apart the DA but don't talk about it in your speech.
Four years policy debate at GMU
Yes I want to be on the chain - Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- PLEASE treat everyone in the room with respect, especially your opponents
- I flow straight down, it's in your best interest to keep it as organized as possible
- More familiar with policy args, but have and will vote for critical args
- Inserting re-highlighting is good if you are pointing out specific context that is left out and in small doses, not if you are essentially making a new card out of it
- These are my general thoughts but things can obviously change on a debate by debate basis depending on how the round goes
Notes for Online Debate:
- Please be conscientious of speed and clarity. I never will negatively impact your speaks because of mic issues but I can only vote on what I hear.
- If my camera is off assume I am not there.
Policy v Policy
- I will look through the evidence so a card doc would be useful; however, good evidence shouldn't be a substitute for poor explanation.
- Please make sure to extend full arguments. If you just say there is "no impact to US-China war" in the 1ar with no explanation for why, I will not vote for it in the 2ar even if dropped in the 2nr. That is just a phrase not an argument.
- Limits/ground is the impact I find most persuasive. It will take more work to go for precision or other impacts but I can be swayed
- I tend to err on competing interpretation but actually can be persuaded by reasonability IF explained properly
Condo - tend to be neg leaning though more than three starts to push it. More open to condo args if the CP's are particularly abusive or if they've read multiple with no solvency advocates
PICs - I'm fine with PICs out of specific portions the aff defends. Not the judge for word PICs (unless they say something absolutely egregious in their plan text)
No solvency advocate CPs - I probably don't think this is a reason to reject the team, but I will likely be annoyed and lower speaks if you don't have one. Exceptions if you're against new affs or it is a very niche CP to answer a specific impact.
Other theory - 99 out of 100 times, if it's not condo, it's a reason to reject the arg. You need a clear reason why they skewed the round to get me to drop them even if it is dropped. Having said that, if you win that a CP is illegitimate you're probably in a good spot anyways.
Top Level: I've found myself judging more of these debates than I expected so I want to update this portion of my paradigm. I tend to have a higher threshold for 2ar re-articulation of arguments than most judges so I find myself voting neg more often in these debates than other rounds I judge.
Policy aff v the K:
- I tend to err aff on the f/w portion of the debate. Weigh the aff vs the alt, key to fairness, etc. are all args I tend to find more persuasive. Impact framing is the portion of the debate you should focus on. Make sure you're answering all the nuances of the util v structural violence (or any other framing) debate
- Be careful with the link debate. Even if you win that your case outweighs the neg can still win a link turns case arg that can make it tough for you to get my ballot.
K's v Policy Affs:
- Impact framing will essential. You will have a hard time persuading me that I should just reject the aff for some reason, but can definitely persuade me that your impact outweighs/is more crucial to discuss in the debate space.
- Specificity of the link is going to be important. Generic state bad links aren't going to be as persuasive as links to the specific action of the plan.
- Simplify the debate. Don't spread yourself too thin, try and pick just one link for the 2NR (unless two are very poorly answered but I'd cap it there) and really impact it out.
- I find embedded turns case args on the link debate very persuasive if it is a specific link to the aff.
- Clarity on the alt will be important. This is an area of the debate that I feel like gets under-explained throughout the debate. I like some explanation of what your alt materially looks like and how it resolves the link.
F/W v K affs:
- Fairness can be an impact, but I generally find the way teams explain it is more of an internal link to education (a pretty good one at that).
- When the aff is reasonably in the direction of the topic - I tend to place a lot of weight on the TVA and need explanation of lost ground and why the ground you lost is good.
- When the aff is blatantly anti-topical or an aff that is meant to be a personal strategy, go for clash good. I don't believe you need a TVA in this instance (or should extend one) as long as you have a good reason why the discussions that happen under your model of debate are good.
K affs v F/W:
- The easiest way to get my ballot is if you win your impact and win the "limits/clash means they can't access the aff's benefits even if it is theoretically good" arg you are in a very good place so long as you don't royally mess up the TVA debate or SSD. Having said that: I am open to other strategies, do your thing, but just understand that I will need more explanation than your typical judge.
- We meet probably not ideal unless the neg messed up the interp.
- If you are an aff that is in the direction of the topic, counter-definitions should be your friend.
- If your aff is outside the scope of being able to do so, you need to impact turn their model of debate. I am not gonna be persuaded by a counter-interp that was clearly designed to include your aff. Obviously extend your interpretation, but don't use it to try and mitigate their offense.
- Things to avoid: I do not find blanket stating "k debate is predictable" persuasive. Give me a reason why your specific aff is predictable for the negative to debate if you want to go that route.
K v K
I will not be as knowledgeable in K literature as either team is going to be. The best thing you could do to get my ballot is to make the debate simple. I may not be familiar with a lot of your terminology - and I am not going to vote on something I do not understand - so you may benefit by clearly explaining certain terms or at least having evidence that is clearly highlighted to define abstract terms/concepts.
Impact framing/explanation is going to be key in these rounds.
Adrienne F. Brovero, Director of Debate, University of Mary Washington
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.
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, putting doc on a jump drive, 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 4” 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”.
I’m currently a junior at Liberty University and debated in high school at University High School (Jersey Urban Debate League). This is approximately my 7th year in debate and as such I have engaged in both 'traditional' and now 'performance' style debate. Ultimately, I have come to conclusion that debate is a game but this game also has real life effects on the people who choose to participate in it. Therefore, BE NICE, HAVE FUN, and DO YOU!!!
I have found in my time debating that there are a few things that debaters are looking for when they read judging philosophies (including myself) so I’ll get straight to the point:
K's: I’m fine with them and have run them for quite some time in my career. However, this does not mean run a K in front of me for the fun of it - rather it means that I expect you to be able to explain your link story and the way the alternative functions. I find that most teams just make the assumption that the Aff doesn’t get a perm because "it’s a methodology debate". That’s not an argument, give me warrants as to why this is true if this is the argument you are going to for. K Aff's are fine often times debaters lose sight of the strategic benefits of the Aff, So a simple advice I can give is DONT FORGET YOUR AFF!!
DA's: In general I like strong impact analysis and good link story. Make logical argument and be able to weigh the impact story against the Aff.
CP’s: I am open all types of CP’s you just have to prove the competitiveness of said CP and make sure it has a net benefit.
FW: Again….Debate is a game but this game has real life implications on those who choose to engage in it. I think FW can be strategic against some Aff’s but don’t use it as a reason to not engage the Aff. Win your interpretation and weigh your impacts. Aff’s: don’t blow off FW answer it and engage it or tell me why you are not engaging in it.
Theory: Not a big fan of it, but make sure you slow down as to ensure I get all the arguments you are making. But do you!
Cross X: I think this is the best part of debate and LOVE it. Don’t waste those 3 min, they serve a great purpose. I am ALWAYS paying attention to CX and may even flow it.
*** Please remember that I am not as familiar with the high school topic so don’t assume I know all the jargon ***
Last but not least, watch me!(take hints from the visual cues that I am sending)
Background: Currently, a coach for Liberty University, where I also debated for 4 years, NDT and CEDA octofinalist, and 2021 CEDA Top Speaker. Started by doing traditional policy args, moved to Kritical things, and ended as a performance debater with most of my arguments starting with black women and moving outward such as Cap, AB, Set Col, and so on). started debate in college as a novice and worked my way to Varsity so I do have a pretty good understanding of each division. Also, I'm a black woman if that wasn't obvious or you didn't know lol
I’m here for the petty and I stay for the petty I will vote on the petty but there is a difference between petty and mean I won't vote on mean it makes me very uncomfortable
Judging wise (general things)
How I view debate: Debate is first and foremost a game, but it’s full of real people and real consequences so we should keep that in mind as we play even though it’s a game that definitely has real-life implications for a lot of us.
Facial Expressions: I often make facial expressions during the debate and yes they are about the debate so I would pay attention to it my face will often let you know when I vibing and when I’m confused
Speaker points: --- totally subjective I try and start at 28.7 and then go up and down based on a person’s performance in a debate ---- in the debate, it becomes a trend to ask for higher speaks which is fine but if your gonna do that you best not suck or I will automatically give you a 28.3, also I feel like you need a justification for asking for those speaks outside of a speaker award --- I try to be nice and fair here
Speed: Don’t risk clarity over speed I’m not straining my ear to make sense of mus
Dont go far when the debate is over I tend to know my decision when the debate ends
If you are gonna email questions later pls let me know so I can keep my flows I often throw them away I wanna be to help but its hard for me to answer your questions after the fact if I don't have my flows
Debated a lot of K's, read a lot of K’s as a debater I don’t know every K in existence but with a thorough explanation and well execution, I will probably be fine.
I have a larger threshold for the K because I expect you to explain the linked story and the alternative with warrants so don't assume that just because I know the theory means you don't have to put in the work for the ballot. Links should be contextualized to the aff - please don't restate your tags and author but pull lines from 1ac/2ac. I would also warn against just running a K because you think I'm only a K debater (it’s obvious and annoys me just do what you do best)
I like performative links, not personal attacks. With performative links, just make sure to give a warranted analysis as to why I should vote on it and what the impact is.
Love them is one of my favorite parts of the debate I enjoy the creativity of these!! I do prefer K aff's to be in the direction of the topic or make some attempt to include a discussion of the resolution, but if you are not, then at least give me a warranted explanation as to why you have chosen that route. Those that are on the topic of the resolution, have a clear impact and solvency story. Many times, debaters will get so caught up in the negative arguments that they lose sight of what is important...their aff! So, make sure to keep a storyline going throughout the entirety of the debate.
When you get into FWK/T debates, extend and explain your counter-interpretation. What is your model and why is it good? That plus impact turns = an easy ballot from me.
I think a lot of K teams assume reading your aff is good in debate is gonna do something very big on K aff’s having a reason on why their aff in the debate is good.
It's a strategy that is read against K aff's, it's a strategy tbh I enjoy and am more sympathetic to than most would think. My personal outlook - debate is a game but it has real impacts that can help or harm certain individuals. While it is a competitive strategy, I do not think it is an excuse to not engage the affirmative because most of the time, your lack of engagement is what the aff will use to link turn the performance of reading fwk.
PSA - fairness is not an impact... at best, it’s an internal link. Unless the aff has no justification for their aff, then you got a good chance of getting my ballot by reading fairness. I find it most compelling when you prove in round abuse.
I think a TVA is a must. No, it does not need to solve the entirety of the aff because that is neg ground, but it should be able to solve the main impacts they go for. Lastly, defend your model of debate and explain why it would be better for the debate community writ large. If you are only focusing on one round, then explain why that is better.
Lmao these are things that exist in debate too…
Das I would say make sure you have a clear and warranted link story and awesome impact calc.
And CP’s I’m open to all CPs kinda think of CPs in the context of having a net benefit and how does the CP solve the aff? It's also nice if your CP is competitive...
I think theory is procedural make sure you explain very clearly and slowly what the violation is and why that matters...if you are going to go for theory, I expect the 2n or 2a to spend a good amount of time on it which means not just 30 sec or 1 min.
Policy Affs v K:
Engage the K!Too many times policy teams just write over the K with their fwk thinking that is the only work they have to do but it's just like debating a DA or CP. Do the link work and the more specific answers you have to the alt, the better position you are in. Don't just say Perm DB or Perm aff then alt, but really explain what that means and looks like in the world of the aff. I think you do need fwk to get to weigh your aff but that is all the fwk will get you which means don't forget to extend your aff and the impact story. A really good way to engage the K is to prove how the plan not only outweighs but resolves the specific impacts.
How to get better speaker points with me
Be nice, be funny, be personable
Organized docs and speeches
Mention Scandal/Olivia Pope whom I love in your speech I will bump your speaks like .4
Ohhh and for the black folks ask for speaker points and ye shall receive lol I might not be able to always give you the ballot, but I can give you a 30
A 2NR/2AR with judge instruction is literally the freakin best thing ever
Affiliations: GMU, Wake Forest, Michigan State
Here are some of the things that are useful to know about me as a judge.
1. When judging topicality debates, I rely very heavily on evidence, and often to a much greater extent than I do the actual debating. This is not necessarily true of my judging style in other domains, and I realize it may not be logically justified or coherent. It makes sense to spend your time talking about your and your opponent’s evidence and its context. I don’t particularly care if something is predictable if it technically falls under the bounds of the resolution. I also do not think I have used the word “reasonability” in an RFD in at least the past 10 years.
2. Theory things: I am bad for ‘cheap shot’ voting issues. I am not great for the states counterplan. If the aff does the states theory thing well, your odds are decent. I’ll also vote on conditionality bad. It probably becomes a threat once you read three advocacies
3. Sometimes, focusing on having a lot of defense with only a sliver offense can work really well.
4. I’m bad for extremely short-term impacts. If something catastrophic is supposed to happen in just a few months, I probably don’t believe the evidence. Probably exceptions will arise, but in particular I do not care for the following frequently stated sentence: “Our impact comes first, so it can turn theirs, but their impact cannot turn ours.”
5. Something I dislike is when a speaker begins reading from a partner’s laptop mid-speech, and almost always at a different pace and volume than the rest of the speech. Often, a speaker will also crouch down to read off of the second laptop, making it much harder to hear.
6. If a policy 1AC forgets to read the plan in the 1AC, I’d much rather have everything get sorted out at the beginning of cross-x, and then move on with it.
Michael Hall - Updated 9/15/22
28 Years coaching
Upfront, you should know that I've only judged a handful of debates over the last two years and those were intrasquad practice debates Second, I've developed slight hearing loss that makes it harder for me to pick out voices when there's background noise.
For the email chain: firstname.lastname@example.org
The comments below reflect how I'm likely to things left to my own devices, but I do my best to evaluate the debate on the arguments made in the round.
Theory: I am not tabula-rosa. Minimally, each argument should contain a claim, some support (evidentiary or otherwise), and an impact. That said, I do my best to minimize my substantive preferences and therefore find myself voting for positions I don’t particularly like. I attempt to use the decision calculus most persuasively advocated by the debaters.
Topicality: I tend to see topicality as a contest of competing interpretations. I probably vote on T more often than most judges and have no problem voting against "core affirmatives" when the negative has a superior interpretation of the topic. I'm most easily persuaded to vote on T when the negative team develop arguments based on a comparison of ground offered under each interpretation of the resolution. I tend to find in-round abuse arguments less persuasive as its hard to determine whether the negative should have a right to those arguments without first establishing a coherent division of aff/neg ground. I am usually more persuaded by arguments about the quantity and quality of affs allowed by each interpretation and the negative's ability to access a core set of negative arguments. Topicality is by nature exclusionary.
Counterplans: I enjoy debates with creative counterplans tailored to specific affirmatives. The affirmative should be prepared to defend the entirety of the plan, and plan inclusive counterplans are one way of making them do so.
I’ve found myself voting against conditional counterplans a little more often in recent years, which I attribute to the quality of the negative’s defense of conditionality rather than a change in my CP leanings. If the negative justifies the conditional nature of the counterplan, other theory arguments are reasons to reject the counterplan not the team.
The text of the counterplan and all permutations should be written out. Trying to win a perm that doesn’t include all of the plan or that contains action not contained in the plan or counterplan is nearly impossible.
Kritikal Debate: I've found myself becoming much less dogmatic about the need for affirmatives to have topical plan texts. I don't know if I can pinpoint why, but I think it's partially due to conversations with various Liberty coaches and debaters and partially due to my own reading interests gravitating more toward critiques of the enlightenment and religious critiques of capitalism. I can certainly be persuaded to vote negative on framework but debaters should no longer assume it’s a hard default.
I don't think much has changed about the way I evaluate negative K strategies. Like any other part of the negative strategy, the more you tailor your link arguments to the affirmative in question, the more likely I am to find your arguments persuasive. Likewise, an overview that details how the kritik turns the affirmative’s solvency, outweighs the case, etc. would be more helpful than several more impact cards.
Style: Given what I wrote in the first two sentences, this is section of my philosophy almost certainly the most important for you remember during the debate. Things you should know in descending order of importance: (1) I am a better critic for those who collapse the debate in the block and 2NR than for those who go for most of their 1NC arguments into the 2NR. (2) I am a better critic for debaters who emphasize clarity over speed. I’ve found this to be especially true in paperless rounds where everyone in the debate except for the judge is reading along with the speech doc. Again, my hearing isn't what it used to be making the need for clarity even more important. I’ll give you verbal and nonverbal signals if I can’t understand you. (3) I have come to the conclusion that the more evidence I read, the less my decisions have reflected the arguments made by the debaters. As a result, I try to read fewer cards after a debate and am more easily persuaded to see a debate through the lens that allows me to do so. (4) If you think an argument is important, find a way to set it apart from the rest of the debate.
Prep time: Prep time stops when the speech doc is emailed.
Liberty University '19
Baylor University '21
Current DoD at Towson University
Honestly, do what makes you happy! I still believe my job is to learn from you all because your research practices are educational opportunities as well! If there is anyway I can help you all grow as intellectuals, that is my main priority. Arguments are going to be made on both sides, but please remember those arguments have real power. Flush out your arguments because any ounce of confusion never plays in anyone's favor well.
The only thing I ask is that you not only keep the debate entertaining and fun, but be respectful of your opponents. Flush out your arguments &
***I will fill this in or UD this when needed – I’m learning about my judging as the year progresses***
- Let me preface this w/ saying the 2019-2020 year (Space topic) is my first year out from debating, so do as you will with that.
- Yeah add me to the chain…Please don’t use my old email that some of you know—use this one: email@example.com
- ***I seek to judge the round that occurred in front of me & to not only give feedback, but to also learn from you all [because you’re valid & you work hard on your arguments]. Every judge should come into a round with the openness to listen to the debaters b/c it isn’t their career #iSaidWhatiSaid. But if you saying something racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, ableist or problematic to anyone, then it’s a no-go. Other than that, DO YOU because you can’t let NO haters stop you from doing what you want in your career and that’s on period.***
- I’m a graduate student at Baylor. I debated four years at Liberty starting as a novice until my senior year where I ended my career as a 2x NDT octafinalist, CEDA quarterfinalist, & a first-round recipient. I did policy my novice year & more critical stuff my last three years. 1A/2N.
- Here’s how I would pref me if I was still debating (1: good – 4: eh).
Kritiks (identity politics): 1
Kritiks (high theory tingz): 4
Policy (Soft left): 2/3
Policy (Heg): ¾
- If you’re reading this before the round & you just need the basics: Big picture stories are my jam (i.e.- here’s the main story and how the aff implicates xyz OR how the aff does xyz bad thing). I LOVE ballot framing (i.e.- what we here for?). Condensed debates are always more nuanced (i.e.- sitting on a particular arg). I typically work backwards (i.e.- I evaluate the debate from the 2ar/2nr and circle what’s important/key args…So if it is important in the 1NC/1AC- make sure you have it in the 2NR/2AR). Don’t assume I know your lango on the K or the latest updates on the DA (i.e.- *insert big words* without explaining b/c you assume I know it won’t be the best thing to do). Last thing, have fun & be petty (not rude) – I know debate sometimes forces people to take everything so seriously all the time, but I promise it’s SO much better if you just doing you & having a good time!
Here’s the tea on your particular args:
· I actually love a good disad debate! I think that a good link wall in the block is killer & it puts the aff in tougher positions.
· I think empirics that prove the story-line of the DA is SO helpful & slept on. (i.e.- this happened previously when X, which resulted in Y, but the distinction now is Z).
· To make these debates more juicy, I do think that there needs to be more impact distinction and framing than typical (i.e.- if y’all are both going for war scenarios, I need you to tell me more about why your scenario comes first or is more probable).
· Ehhhh, if counterplans are you’re thing, I think you need to make sure you’re highlighting a few things for me: why it competes, (if there are) what parts of the aff do you do, & explaining the nuances/planks(if any) of the CP. I think having an overview that is precise & slowing down on that portion would be very beneficial if you’re going for the CP.
· Internal NBs are good, tbh (obvi external ones are as well). Just make sure you explain how the CP avoids said NB.
· If you’re going for/answering theory args, slow down! If you think you’re going to win a theory argument that was 5 seconds of speeding through your block, then lololol no.
Kritik (Identity based args) aff/neg-
· If this is your thing, do you! These debates are best when you isolate an understanding of how power operates in a simplistic way.
· If you’re going for “it’s a question of orientation” or “what we do in the face of X” – I’m good for you, but don’t shy away from explaining why that orientation is important, along with why the aff is necessary.
· I just think making sure you explain your stories interaction with the power you claim puts you in a better position—along with a way to navigate and/or solve said issue.
Kritik (POMO, etc) aff/neg-
· High theory? Make it low. I understand that some of y’all are deep-deep-deep in the archives with whatever lit base you come from, but remember that we aren’t. If you can’t explain to me in translation what you’re saying in the most basic form possible, then I may not be the best for you.
· Make applications, please. The way I can process something that is complex is by making sure I understand it in conjunction to said example.
· Mmm, yeah just explain everything v. simple & you’ll be fine.
Kritik (Security, Cap)-
· These are both viable options that I think are strategic. I think most policy-sided teams get so used to the DA debate that they don’t do well on explaining the theory of cap. I think a little more time on this in relation to the aff will do y’all justice.
· I do think that having/making contextualized links will make it more useful for you in the long run. (i.e.- having an identity ptx link, but then utilizing that in the block to explain how the aff manifest said link *we know they are this b/c the 1ac/2ac said….which means that…)
· **[THIS APPLIES TO ALL THE KRITIKS PORTION THOUGH] Make sure if you’re going for the alternative, you explain how that alt is able to overcome the links you’ve made. (If you can’t articulate why the alt solves the link, then you’re in a rough spot).
· No, they aren’t the same. But it is up to you to explain the difference to me.
· So one of the things that I clearly wait/listen for in the 2NR is a clear interpretation extension. In my career, I found that for critical debaters its always an uphill battle versus FW & they have to explain everything so thoroughly – but somehow fw/t debaters can win on these arguments b/c “we know what they meant” or “its clear what their interp is”…yeah, no! If it ain’t there & the aff points it out, then that’s not good for you. I do think T can be done and done good versus critical debaters (think Michigan GW or Harvard CM/MS), but I think mediocrity shouldn’t be tolerated.
· Fairness is an impact.
· Insofar as T goes, make sure you have definitions that are clearly extrapolating what your interpretation would justify/mean.
· TVA’s are poppin’—so yes, have some.
· I also think you should contextualize everything to the particular aff and CONTEST THE AFF on some level, please.
· Slow down on them, please. I’m not going to get all 17 points in twenty seconds if you blazing through them.
· Can be strategic for final speeches, but time needs to be allocated there earlier if that will be your option in final speeches.
· Read your blocks, but also answer their particular theory arg about why what you did/do is bad.
If something is unclear or you want to ask me a question about a particular argument, email me! I enjoy talking about how we think about debate. Have fun!
John Huebler (he/him)
Loyola Blakefield High School - LD - 2012-2016
University of Mary Washington - Policy - 2016-2020
Debate email: firstname.lastname@example.org (please add me to the email chain!)
Current 2L at University of Baltimore Law School
I haven't done much research for the high school and college topics, I'm in law school now which has occupied a lot of my time.
Organization, clear presentation, and good preparation are key. I am fine with judging any style or method of debate. I request that you give me a clear framing for how you wish me to evaluate the round and how your evidence operates under it, and then explain how either your opponent's framework is wrong or how they do not have offense under it.
Please be nice to each other, debate is a communicative, collaborative learning activity and it loses that value when someone feels extremely uncomfortable. I like to promote a friendly atmosphere in the rounds I judge. The good you put out in the world will come back someday!!
I ask that you speak at about 80% of your top speed. Please have a brief pause when in between flows. I am willing to say clear up to 3 times for all debaters. For T, theory, analytics or reading your blocks, please go slow and use inflection.
At the end of the day, debate is a communicative activity and I give high speaks for good practices. Numbering, roadmapping, and labeling are such practices and make it easier for me to understand and for your opponents to clash. If I don't catch it, then it's not part of my decision. To this end, I don't think that embedded clash is nearly as easy to follow as standard numbering, embedded clash only works in front of me if you slow down and use plenty of emphasis. If you are one to fly through pre-written blocks or overviews without pauses or emphasis, I would seriously reconsider how you make arguments in front of me. I want to listen to you and make the best decision I can, otherwise we both won't be happy with my choice.
This was moved higher up because of its importance to me - I appreciate teams that read author qualifications - It's how I debated all four years of college, it is not a hard thing to do or a big ask.
I think it encourages better evidence practices, I am disheartened by teams just finding evidence from wherever and throwing it in a doc. I'll pay attention to quals and am easily persuaded by arguments based on comparing them. Generally, I am a good judge for evaluating evidence indicts and shady evidence practices. I could see myself very likely voting on this if there is a bad example of it.
I should not have to look at the un-underlined portions of your evidence to understand your author's arguments. Using the shrink function and not preserving paragraphs definitely makes me anxious.
Pace of the Round
Prep Time - Most tournaments fall behind schedule. Inefficiencies cut into decision time that affects the quality of my decision and your feedback. Please be efficient, especially in between speeches and prep time.
I will be understanding of tech fails, but not as much negligence. Anything that could have been fixed prior to the round (Dealing with your laptop’s issues, finding your flows, looking for evidence, figuring out how to operate a timer, setting up stands, etc.) will generally frustrate me and may affect your speaks in some of the more egregious cases.
-Please time yourselves - I will generally time too, but it's important for organizing your speech, it ensures that you stay on pace and make all the arguments that you want to. I think it would be beneficial for everyone in the room to be timing the current speech. I ask that if your opponent is speaking to turn the sound off on your alarm if possible or use a stopwatch function.
-Cross-Ex and Speaking for partner - I am fine with open cross ex, but don't hijack or take over your partner's questioning or answering. They are supposed to be the person in charge of this! Generally, I don't like partner's interjecting in the speech, it's not something I feel that I should be flowing. Saying pointers here and there is a-ok, but please don't get to the point of being super duper distracting to your partner!
-Extensions - I'm somewhat disillusioned by folks that merely extend author names. Referring to a number, a tag, and an impact will increase your chances that I will know where you're at and flow your arguments adequately
-Politics DA - Beyond debating case, this was my second favorite thing to research and argue. I actively work in maryland state politics so these types of arguments are really something I can appreciate!
-CPs - Can be persuaded on theory. I personally think 2 conditional advocacies are goldilocks, but can be persuaded on condo given specific examples of abuse. My tolerance for CPs gets lower with no solvency advocate in the 1NC or if it is a weird and over-complicated uniqueness CP. I really don't like the multi-plank CPs that are all very different ideas, unless there is an actor that advocates all of them.
-Ks - I have limited experience running them since high school and relatively small knowledge on most literature bases. I'd need more in depth explanation of your arguments and appreciate using the K against the case to get specific links to the aff or interesting case turns. Definitely don't want to discourage anyone from running one though, I really enjoy overviews that are specific to things happening in the round.
Please add me to the email email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Currently the Assistant Director of Debate at JMU. I debated on the local Missouri Circuit as a high school student and debated for 3 years at UCF when they still had a policy team (2011-2014). I coached Berkeley Prep for 2 years while in college, coached JMU as a grad student, took some time off to finish my PhD, and have recently returned to debate.
My decision-making process/how I approach debates:
I tend to prioritize solvency/links first when evaluating a debate. I think it's totally possible to win zero risk of an impact and I'm definitely willing to vote on presumption (but if that's your strategy I expect you to do the work to make it explicit).
I like well-explained, smart arguments. I would rather hear you explain something well with good examples than read a ton of cards that all say the same thing. I'll stick as close to the flow as I can and judge the debate based on how the debaters tell me to judge.
An argument has a claim, warrant, and impact. Dropped things only matter if you make them matter. It is your job to frame the voting issues in the round for me and make it clear how I should weigh arguments against one another.
I prefer to minimize how much evidence I read after the round. I expect you to do more than shadow extend things. If all I have on my flow by the end of the round is an author name, I'm not hunting that card down to figure out the warrant for you.
I flow on paper and line things up on my flow. Please give me sufficient pen time on analytics, signpost, and keep things organized. If I am unable to get something on my flow because you did not do these things or because you were not clear, that's a you problem. I will always do my best to get everything written down, even if it's in the wrong place, but it will make it more difficult for me to meaningfully weigh arguments against each other, which means longer decision times and probably worse decisions.
I don't flow CX, but will pay attention throughout CX and jot down notes if something particularly important/eye-catching seems to be happening. If something occurs in CX that you want me to vote on, it needs to make it into a speech.
I do not follow the speech doc while flowing. I may have the document open and refer to specific cards if they are referenced in CX, but I won't be flowing from your doc or reading your evidence along with you during your speech.
If you play music/videos/etc. while you are speaking, please ensure the volume of the music is substantially quieter than the volume of your voice. I have some auditory processing issues that make it extremely difficult for me to understand people's voices while there is any kind of background noise. I want to flow and evaluate your arguments, but I can't do that if I can't process your words.
I vote on things that happened during the debate. I do not vote on things that the other team (or their friends, coaches, squad-mates, acquaintances, enemies, etc.) did during pre-round prep, in the hallway yesterday, at the bar last tournament, this morning at the hotel, etc. I will not attempt to adjudicate interpersonal events I was not present to witness.
I generally think debate is good. That doesn't mean I think debate is perfect. There are absolutely valid critiques of debate that should be addressed, and I think there is value in pushing this activity to be the best version of itself. However, if your arguments rely on the assumption that debate is irredeemably bad, I'm probably not the right judge for you. I think you need a model of debate that you think is desirable and achievable within the confines of an activity in which two sides argue with each other and at the end one side is selected as a winner.
Most debaters would benefit from slowing down by about 20%. Not because speed is bad, but because few debaters are actually clear enough for the average judge to get a good flow when you're going at 100% speed.
Examples, examples, examples. If you take one thing away from my paradigm, it is that I like to be given examples. What does your theory look like in practice? What kinds of plans are included/excluded under your T interp? Etc.
Please do not assume I know what your acronyms/etc mean. If I don't know what the bill/organization/event you're talking about is, I'm not sure how I'm supposed to evaluate your link story.
I will open the speech doc, but will not necessarily follow along. I may look at a card if something spicy happens in CX, if you're referring to a card in a rebuttal, etc., but I do not look at or flow from the doc. If you are not clear enough for me to flow without looking at your doc, I will not fill in gaps from the doc.
I take ethics challenges extremely seriously. I consider them to be an accusation of academic dishonesty equivalent to plagiarism in a class. Just like any other instance of academic dishonesty, ethics violations can have serious consequences for debaters and programs, and the perception that our activity condones such behavior could have serious repercussions for the survival of our activity. If an ethics challenge is issued, that is the end of the debate. If the tournament invitation includes a protocol for handling ethics challenges, I will follow the tournament rules. If the tournament does not have a clear set of protocols, I will clarify that an ethics challenge has been issued, make a determination in regards to the challenge, and either vote for the team issuing the challenge or for the team against whom the challenge was issued.
Because of the seriousness of ethics challenges, I consider it the responsibility of the team issuing the challenge to 1) prove that a violation (defined as card clipping or intentionally manufacturing or mis-representing the source or content of evidence) occurred and 2) provide a reasonable degree of evidence that the violation was intentional or malicious (i.e., I do not consider someone mumbling/stumbling over words because they were tired to be the same thing as intentional card clipping, and do not think it should have the same consequences).
That said, I understand that proving intent beyond a reasonable doubt is an impossible standard. I do not expect you to prove exactly what was going on in the other team's mind when the event happened. However, you should be able to show that the other team reasonably should have known that the cite was wrong, the text was missing, etc. and chose to engage in the behavior knowing that it was unethical. I do not think we should be accusing people of academic dishonesty as a strategy to win a round. I also do not think we should be engaging in cheating behavior to win rounds. No one debater's win record is worth more than the continued health of our activity as a whole. If we would like this activity to continue, we must have ethical standards, including not cheating and not frivolously accusing people of cheating.
These are relative for each division (e.g., what I consider an "average performance" that gets a 28.3 in novice will be different from what I think of as an "average performance" that gets a 28.3 in varsity)
29.5-30: You should be in the top 3 speakers at the tournament. I can count the number of performances I have seen that are worthy of above a 29.5 on one hand.
29-29.5: This was an incredible performance. I expect you to be in late out rounds at this tournament and/or to win a speaker award
28.5-29: This was an above-average performance. Something about your speeches/CXs impressed me. Keep this up and I anticipate you will clear.
28-28.5: This was an average performance. You had some good moments, but nothing incredible happened.
27.5-28: I like your attitude. Some rough things happened during this round. Maybe you dropped an off-case position, only read blocks, were extremely unclear, etc.
Below a 27.5: Something majorly wrong has happened in this round. You failed to participate meaingfully in the debate and/or failed to demonstrate basic human decency toward other people in the room.
Yes, please. I love a good case debate, particularly when it is grounded in specific and detailed analysis of what the aff claims their plan/advocadcy does vs what their cards actually say.
I judge a lot of these debates, and enjoy them. Ultimately, these are debates about what we think debate should be. Because of that, I think you need a clear description of what your model of debate looks like, what it includes/excludes, and why that's a good thing.
Debate is an educational activity unlike any other, and I think that's a good thing. I generally default to believing education is the most important impact in these debates, but can absolutely be persuaded that something else (i.e. fairness) should come first.
Despite what I just said, I think the competitive nature of debate is also good, which means there should probably be at least some parameters for what the activity looks like that allows both sides a reasonable shot at winning. What that looks like is up for debate.
I prefer affirmatives with some clear tie to the resolution. That doesn't mean you have to fiat a topical plan text, but I do think it means debate is better when the affirmative is at least in the direction of the topic and/or about the same general content as the resolution.
Your TVA needs to actually access whatever offense the aff is leveraging against T. Lots of TVAs fail this test. I think a good TVA can be super important, but a bad TVA is typically a complete waste of time.
Against policy affs, I think giving me specific examples of ground you lost (not just "we lost some DAs" but "We specifically couldn't read these 2 core DAs and this core CP") is important. If you can show in-round abuse via spiking out of links, that would be ideal.
Please give me pen time.
If your counterplan has a bajillion hyper-specific planks, you need to slow down enough for me to at least get an idea of what they are in the 1NC.
I like counterplans that are specific, well-researched, and have a clear basis in a solvency advocate. I don't love counterplans that have a million planks that are not clearly explained until the block or the 2nr and are not grounded in some kind of solvency advocate/literature.
You should be able to clearly articulate how the implementation of the CP works. I think most aff teams should spend more time articulating solvency deficits based on the negative team's inability or refusal to articulate what the implementation process of the CP looks like in comparison to the aff.
I think conditionality is good, within reason. I think PICs are good, within reason. I think multi-actor fiat, counterplans with a zillion planks, etc. are probably not great, but generally are reasons to reject the argument, not the team. I can be convinced that any of the above opinions are wrong, given the right arguments by either team.
Please make clear what your acronyms mean, what your specific link story is, etc. early in the debate. I don't spend a ton of time judging giant big-stick policy rounds, so I'm probably not as versed in this literature as you. Please don't make me spend 20 minutes after the debate trying to decipher your impact scenario. Give me a very clear explanation in the 2nc/1nr overview.
I think the aff gets to weigh their impacts if they prove that the ideas underwriting those impacts are good and accurate. I think the neg gets links to the aff's reps/discourse/etc. I think the negative needs to win a specific link to the aff (i.e., not just to the status quo) and also either that the links are sufficient to undermine the aff's internal links or that the alternative can resolve the links. I don't think any of those statements are particularly controversial.
The role of the ballot is to decide who did the better debating in this round. Always. How I should evaluate what counts as "better debating" is up for debate, but I am pretty unsympathetic to obviously self-serving roles of the ballot.
If you say the phrase "vote aff to vote neg" or "vote neg to vote aff" in a round I am judging, you owe me $10.
I am the Director of Debate at Georgetown University ('21-present), before which I was the Assistant DOD (2017-21). I am also an Assistant Coach for Westminster. Before that, I debated for 4 years at Georgetown. In high school, I debated only regionally, for a tiny high school in West Texas.
Please include me on the email chain: email@example.com
***Update: November 2022***
My prior paradigm was 5+ years out of date. The following are patterns in my judging that you should be aware of when debating in front of me.
All of the items below, EXCEPT for the "D-Rules (not subject to debate)" section, are simply DEFAULTS in the absence of debaters making an argument that I should evaluate these things differently. I would prefer that the DEBATERS tell me how to evaluate things and why, in which case these priors should rarely , if ever, come into play.
D-Rules (NOT subject to debate)
1. Please include me on the email chain.
2. In high school debates, all of the participants are minors, and I will not hesitate to intervene in a debate if anything legally or ethically dubious is occurring. This includes any bullying, displays of sexism or racism, etc. Relatedly, there are arguments which are appropriate for the college context but that I will not--and, legally, cannot!--countenance in a HS debate (one example: the reading of uncensored explicit evidence a la Preciado).
3. Consider me dead inside with respect to any preferences regarding argumentative substance. However, I have very little tolerance for either arguments or ways of engaging that make any participant feel unsafe, and will intervene if necessary.
4. Allegations of an ethics violation will immediately end the debate. No take-backs. I will then inform the tabroom and follow the tournament's prescribed procedures, or in the lack of such procedures will unilaterally determine whether it rises to the threshold of an ethics VI. If so, the accuser will win; if not, the accuser will lose. If allowed for by the tournament rules, I will make a subjective determination regarding whether the violation (or accusation, if the accuser loses) was engaged in knowingly and/or in competitive bad faith, and if so will assign the lowest allowable speaker points. To help guide this determination: egregious or persistent clipping is a D-Rule. So is evidence falsification. Poor evidence "hygiene," e.g. ending in the middle of a paragraph, is a D-rule, but is unlikely to warrant the additional "poor speaks" sanction if it does not change the meaning of the card, whereas if it cuts out a strawperson it is likely to warrant the "poor speaks" sanction. Minor good-faith mistakes in evidence citation are very unlikely to rise to the threshold of a D-rule if it is left up to my discretion by tab and/or the tournament rules.
Things to Know About Debating In Front of Me
1. Instead of focusing only on extending and answering arguments, it would behoove debaters to begin their final rebuttals by clarifying what the comparative RFD for the Aff/Neg should be, identifying the key questions to be resolved in the debate, and then going through the process of resolving them. You can think of this as providing me a roadmap for how I should approach adjudicating the debate once it ends. Absent this, I will come up with my own roadmap, but it is substantially less likely to work out in your favor and also I will be grumpy about it.
2. I have found that the way that arguments are characterized early in the debate often bears heavily on how I interpret and resolve disputes over them in the final rebuttals. This has accounted for numerous panel splits in debates I've judged the past couple years. If, for example, an argument is articulated in one way in the CXes (all of which I flow), I will tend to treat that articulation as binding; or, if a plan or counterplan is characterized in a given way in the 2NC and the 1AR does not push back on that characterization, I will adopt that understanding of the plan or counterplan and hold the line against 2ARattempts to rearticulate it.
3. Evidence: I value quality of argument and evidence. A smart, well-warranted analytic is far more valuable than a bad card. Research is at the core of what makes policy debate unique and valuable relative to e.g. Public Forum, Parli, etc. However, evidence matters only insofar as it provides reasons to believe you about your arguments (e.g. qualifications, warrants, etc.); it never constitutes an argument itself.
4. I will not read your speech doc, a practice which I've observed account for other panel splits in recent years. I will spot check specific pieces of evidence if they are contested in CX or in speeches. I will read cards I am directed to after the debate, but it is up to you to have leveraged them effectively in your speech--and, how good a card needs to be to get the job done on a given issue is inversely proportional to how well you debate it. If debaters want their evidentiary advantage to matter--as it should--they should do more evidence comparison, including as it relates to source quality, etc. The sole exception to this: if evidence is selectively underlined to an argument not even contemplated by the original, I reserve the right to unilaterally discount it (think here of the difference between underlining a movie script or selectively underlining words in unrelated sentences to concoct an argument never made in the source, vs. cutting a cards as a strawperson - the latter I will very unhappily accept if the other team does not contest it, albeit at the cost of speaker points, whereas the former I will probably not accept, if I notice it, even if the other team does NOT call it out).
5. Conceded arguments are true arguments. However, 1.) A complete "argument" consists of a claim, a warrant, and an impact--assertions are not arguments, and thus are not "true" even if dropped. 2.) Receiving the full weight of an argument does not matter in-and-of itself--you must still unpack why that dropped argument impacts the rest of the debate, and if that explanation was not there initially then the implication component of that can still constitute a new argument to which responses are allowed.
6. CX filibustering: Some amount of it is part of the game, but if this is taken to a silly extreme, then I will not hesitate to pull a Dallas Perkins and tell you to "ANSWER the QUESTION" so as to enable a meaningful debate to occur
1. Absent arguments to the contrary, CX and 2AC clarifications of plan mandates constitute binding amendments to the plan text, making them presumptively legitimate sources of counterplan competition. (Merely saying that something is "normal means," however, does not make it a mandate, and thus is presumptively not a legitimate source of CP competition.)
2. My defaults are that conditionality is a.) an all-or-nothing thing and b.) is good. However, I have become increasingly open to contestation of either premise.
3. Plan vagueness is out of control, especially in high school, and I will gladly vote Neg on that, either as a voting issue in-itself or smart circumvention arguments or DA links about the way in which the vague plan would be most likely interpreted and applied.
4. Counterplan vagueness is also out of control. If your CP text boils down to, e.g., "do innovation" rather than outlining a mechanism for how to bolster innovation, and the Affirmative points out that that is meaningless, I will agree with the Aff.
5. Kritiks: By default I assume that the K is not a DA plus a CP and that therefore the debate is a referendum on whatever the Link/Alt is critiquing, e.g. the Aff's reps, epistemology, political paradigm, etc. I can be convinced of plan focus/FW-no Ks, particularly if it is grounded in arguments about the resolutional burden of proof and the Negative's reciprocal burden of rejoinder, though meeting in the middle is often the path of less resistance. I am also willing to adopt very Neg-friendly frameworks, e.g. 'you link you lose,' but with the proper Aff responses I will find them ultimately unpersuasive. Absent Aff FW arguments that render them applicable ('pragmatism good,' for instance, or arguments about reciprocity of burdens), I do not intuitively understand why arguments like 'movements fail,' 'transition wars,' 'alt not feasible / no one is persuaded,' etc. would be relevant considerations--but with them, I do.
Argument Defaults - K Affs
5. K Affs: I prefer that the Affirmative be "topical" slash affirm the resolution. I am pretty good for topical K Affs, insofar as I think that there is substantial room for play regarding what topical AFFIRMATION means/entails, and that the wording of the resolution does not necessarily prescribe that topical "affirmation" take the form of defending the narrow causal desirability of implementing a specific topical policy proposal.
However, if your approach when reading a K Aff is to impact turn topicality, the part I struggle with is how debate can be workable once we have left the resolution behind. To deal with this, please speak DIRECTLY to that question in some manner in the 2AR -- whether by explicitly saying that it's better for debate not to be workable, explaining why it will not become unworkable, clearly defending some alternative limiting principle for what the Affirmative win condition is in place of the resolution, or something else -- AND have that be clearly traceable to arguments you set up in the 2AC and 1AR.
6. Framework v. K Affs: I do find there to be a meaningful difference between "topicality," i.e. the Affirmative must affirm the resolution and did not, and "framework," i.e. the Affirmative did not debate or affirm in the specific manner the Neg would have liked for them to. It would behoove the Neg to leverage those differences in response to Aff offense that presumes the latter or blurs the line.
I find "fairness" unpersuasive as a terminal impact. However, this is primarily a function of Negatives explaining it poorly, because I am extremely compelled by the argument that an axiomatic precondition for debate to operate is that the Affirmative must meet their burden of proof arising from the resolution, and that until they do so there is no logical basis for the Negative having any burden of rejoinder. All of which is to say: definitely feel free to go for fairness, BUT please take care to explain why it logically precedes everything else, AND to explicitly no-link the Aff's various lines of offense, rather than just making assertions about "procedural fairness."
Alternatively: feel free to say whatever "substantive" FW offense you'd like--I do find link turns to K Affs to often be truer than the K Affs themselves--BUT please do not just assert words like "clash" or "second and third level testing" without explication of what exactly you mean, why it is unique to your model of debate/foreclosed by the Aff's, and what the impact is; AND be aware that in so doing, you run the risk of making Aff impact turns LINK which otherwise would not.
I generally do not care about "T version," except insofar as it is explained in terms of what SPECIFIC lines of Affirmative offense are solved by the being able to read the Aff topically. (For example: "we need to go to X section of the library" is probably solved by T version, and arguably solved BETTER insofar as that model preserves a stronger ability and competitive incentive to dig into that issue than does the Aff's model). I DO think that that if a given Aff is COMPATIBLE with topical affirmation, that makes it easy to moot all of their offense while retaining a clear net benefit by saying that they should've have simply read the same Aff TOPICALLY (in essence, the same function that "T version" plays in a T debate vs. a policy Aff). In contrast, K Affs which are INcompatible with topical affirmation is generally better dealt with in front of me by "do it on the Neg" rather than a TVA.
Correspondingly: I tend to think that the best K Affs are centered not on K's of the resolution or topical Affs, but of BEING TOPICAL slash a model of topical debate--in which case the Neg will need to win that their model of debate is better, and a T version will only be useful in very specific, isolated instances for specific reasons.
Judd D. Kimball, Assistant Coach, University of Mary Washington
Article I. Communication Approach to Debate
Section 1.01 The following are brief explanation of what I envision when I think of the highest quality debate. These are items that can factor in both positively and negatively for you in my determination of who did the better debating.
(a) A primary goal should be to present your ideas and arguments in a communicative fashion. What factors influence the effectiveness of your communication?
(i) Rate of Delivery. You should not present ideas at a rate that interferes with the effectiveness of sharing those ideas with another human being. You must analyze your audience to determine the rate at which they can absorb ideas, and you must evaluate (fairly) your own abilities to speak rapidly which not losing clarity/enunciation or normal tone inflection that signals the beginning and ending of sentences, and is critical to judges understanding concepts and ideas, not just individual words.
(ii) Clarity/Enunciation. Each word should have a beginning and an ending. Each sound should be pronounced, and not mumbled through.
(iii) Interpretation/Tonal inflection. It is a personal belief that the way we normally communicate with other people involves a lot of vocal interpretation and tonal inflection. It’s a way to communicate phrases and ideas, rather than just leaving each word hanging out by itself, merely surrounded by other words. With interpretation the audience has an easier time comprehending, understanding the processing the idea, as they don’t have to put the sentence together from the individual words, and then discover the meaning of the phrase or sentence themselves. Interpretation, by my definition, is the attribute of communication that helps provide understanding to the audience of the ideas being presented through the way the ideas are presented. It has been my experience that most debaters are very interpretative speakers when they are not debating from prepared scripts. It is during this time that the communication skills you have honed since you began talking are on display. Yet when it is time to read evidence, or a prepped theory block, they shift communicative gears and start just reading each individual word, rather than presenting ideas for the consideration of the judge. I am very unlikely to read evidence after the debate if it was not read in a comprehensible manner, or the warrants and reasons of the evidence were not discussed as being important ideas.
(b) A primary focus of your speeches and cross-examination period should be information sharing. This goes beyond your personal motivation to communicate with the judges, and includes a responsibility to present your arguments in a fashion that facilitates your opponent’s comprehension of your position.
(c) Clash. You should seek to create class in your debates by interacting with not only your opponent’s tag lines, but with the warrants for those claims. In essence, clash is explaining to me why I should prefer/believe your arguments over your opponents. In order to effectively do that, you must be making comparisons that take your opponents argument into account. You must clash.
Section 1.02 Effective implementation of these points will most likely result in higher speaker points, and a greater understanding of your arguments by me as a judge. That will help you in winning the debate, as I will hold the other team responsible for answering your arguments, and if they fail toy,your superior communication will be a determining factor (as a process) of your victory.
Article II. Debate Evaluation
Section 2.01 I recognize objective standards and processes are probably impossible, as the subjective creeps into everything, I just desire and strive for objectivity.
(a) I have a default judging perspective, which evaluates the net benefits of a policy proposal, and answers the question of whether the government should take a particular course of action. I prefer a framework which strives to include as many voices and perspectives as possible, and provides a framework in which different perspectives can be compared, contrasted and weighed. I like my decision to be grounded in the arguments made in the debate. I strive not to bring in “baggage” with me, though I recognize the final futility of that effort, and I will make every effort to explain my decision by reference what was actually communicated in the debate
(b) If you wish the debate to be evaluated from an alternate perspective, you will need to provide a well-defined set of criteria for me to apply when evaluating and weighing arguments. The question of controversy needs to be defined, and discussed in order to provide me the necessary framework to avoid subjectively deciding the debate. Now mind you, I don’t mind subjectively deciding a debate, just be prepared to be frustrated by my statement that I can’t explain why I voted for a particular position, just that that was what I wanted to do at that moment of time, or frustrated by the fact that what I voted on wasn’t an argument or part of the debate that you had a chance to answer. That will happen when I find myself stalled out in the decision making, finding no way to decide other than adding in factors that were not included or discussed in the debate.
Section 2.02 I find questions of autonomous action and personal belief difficult to decide in the context of debate competition. I have found myself perplexed by arguments advanced on the basis of exercising personal autonomy, and then be expected to evaluate them without the inclusion of my opinions, my autonomy, in the process. This is difficult when I find that my personal approach to life contrasts with the approach to individual decision making advocated by one team. If the ballot is my endorsement of your idea, then I would be denying my own autonomous position by being constrained by debate conventions of judging (i.e., you did a better job against the opponents objections, but I wasn’t persuaded to change my personal beliefs). Defining your framework for debate evaluation with this in mind will ease my difficulty. I have been close to taking the action of including my position on the question, in the last few debates I’ve had when this situation arose. Questions of Autonomy and personal belief are difficult questions for me to resolve
Section 2.03 I will be very resistant to deciding debates where the character of the participants is the foundation for the decision. I do not like to cast judgments on people and their behavior without having gathered as much information as is possible. I do not feel that in the high pressure competition of debate is the best forum for investigating those issues, or in seeking to engage the other individual in a dialogue about their behavior. Am I totally unwilling to decide a debate on such a question? I’m not willing to say that either. But I would have to be convinced that not only was this an egregious act, but that malevolent intent was involved.
Article III. Other Issues:
Section 3.01 Topicality I think topicality debates hinge on the question of whose interpretation provides for a better debate topic/experience. If your violation and argumentation does not provide an answer to that question, then figure the answer out. You must also be sure to be complete in your argumentation about why the affirmative violates your interpretation. Do not leave issues of plan interpretation vague, or hinge your argument on a vague cross ex question or answer. Make clear and concise arguments about why the affirmative plan doesn’t meet your interpretation.
Section 3.02 Counterplans. I’ll evaluate any counterplan presented. I begin from a bias that "net benefits" is the most meaningful competition standard, and perhaps only standard. But you can argue other standards, and you only have to defeat your opponent’s arguments, not mine. As to other theory questions with counterplans, it will depend on who does the best job defending/indicting a particular theoretical practice used in the debate.
Section 3.03 Kritiks I need to understand what you are saying from the beginning on all arguments, but especially these. Please communicate your ideas to me when you present this type of argument. I won’t go back later and try to figure out what you were arguing about. I need to know what the affirmative does that is bad, and why it is bad enough that I should either vote negative, or not affirmative, or however I should vote.
Section 3.04 Debating and Evaluating Theory Issues. Theory issues are difficult to evaluate, because they are a yes/no question. If you wish to win a theory objection, you must deal with all of your opponent’s defenses, and provide reasoning explaining why a particular theory position is destructive to quality debate. This is not meant to scare you off of theory debates, just to encourage you to be thorough and complete when discussing this issue.
Assistant Director of Debate at Georgetown University
NDT Update - March 2023:
I am far from being a topic expert so I highly recommend explaining your acronyms, explaining solvency and internal link chains, etc.
I seem to be better at voting for T during this year's topic than other topics. I am sympathetic to arguments about the topic being massive and that risks of overlimiting are negligible. I am more likely to side with a solid version of the topic as explained by the debaters than I am to side with a better evidenced explanation of the topic that provides no clear brightlines or guardrails.
I've judged more Policy Aff v K debates this year than I have in a while. I think it is very hard for the negative to win that I should not weigh the aff against the K.
Top Level Debate Thoughts:
- I am a bit of a dinosaur when it comes to expectations about explanation. I want to know exactly what internal links you solve & how you solve them for each impact. I want to know this in every speech. If after the debate I do not understand how the aff resolves the internal links, I am not going to vote on your impact outweighing.
- Debaters should SLOW DOWN especially when reading blocks. I understand that there is an incentive to be the fastest speaker in the room but this negatively impacts you when I cannot understand what you are saying let alone to flow your arguments.
- Debate is a communicative activity first and foremost. That means I am uninterested in reading a lot of evidence after the debate or caring about your insertion of the opponents' evidence without reading your own rehighlighting.
- Think about what argument you will win the debate on and then spend your time appropriately developing that argument in the final rebuttals. I understand it can be frustrating if a judge doesn't vote on the argument you think is capital T true but if you spend a few seconds on it four minutes into your last speech, you must realize that a judge has countless other arguments to think through and evaluate. You should put your best arguments at the top of the speech and you should also do judge instruction.
Argument Specific Thoughts
Kritiks: I did not read them in college and am not familiar with most of the literature bases. Going for a K against a policy aff is likely an uphill battle for you. I am, at my core, a pragmatist and it will be difficult to convince me that the alternative (or doing nothing) is preferable to the affirmative without asignificant amount of case defense.
K Affs: I think affirmative teams should defend the resolution and I am sympathetic to negative topicality/framework arguments. I do understand the strategic utility of K Affs and have voted for them. For the K Aff to win, you have to prove that your model is better than policy debates about the resolution. I am not convinced by "in the direction of the topic" We Meet/Counter-interpretations because I find them very self-serving, vague, and arbitrary.
T v Policy Affs: I evaluate these as debates about comparative models of the topic. What does the topic look like under two different interpretations? Is that good or bad for debate? Does it limit out all affs on the topic? Does it explode the limits of the topic? Does it obfuscate all negative ground? These are considerations you should grapple with when answering and extending Topicality/defending your model.
Politics: I thoroughly enjoy politics debates - even if it's midterms or elections. I think internal links can be generally contrived so I would encourage aff teams to point out the various uniqueness issues these DA's tend to present. I am not a fan of politics theory arguments (Vote No, Intrinsicness, Fiat Solves the Link) because I think they are generally warrantless arguments that negative teams hope the aff will miss. Without a warrant, a dropped claim does not matter as I do not believe it to be a completed argument.
CP: I think CP theory is a reason to reject the argument, not the team. I HATE when teams read multiplank CP's and do not explain the utility of the planks in the solvency debate. Why are you reading ten planks if you explain the CP like it is a single plank? I generally believe that CPs link to the net benefits. If your explanation of a plank in the 2NC is rereading it without explanation and context, I'm not the judge for you.
Conditionality: Fine - more than three is pushing it.
Online for NDT
I debated for four years in high school and three years at Liberty. I debated as both a 2A and 2N (double 1’s and 2’s in high school at different points). I mostly debated a “CP and politics” type strategy on the neg and also enjoyed going for T and theory when it was strategic. I did read the K sometimes though.
I try my best to let the arguments in the debate determine how I evaluate the round although I will admit that I have biases that can influence how I view certain arguments. I have included some opinions that I hope you will find useful in specifically tailoring your arguments to me. I am flow centric. I enjoy clash. I believe that both sides should have an equal opportunity to win the round, so while not defending a “policy action” (ie not having a plan text) doesn’t mean you will automatically lose in front of me, I believe that if pressed, you should have some sort of a division of “ground” that enables the opposing side an equal chance to win (I believe in “fairness”). I believe that having to argue in favor of something you don’t believe is beneficial (“switch side debate is good”). I have a minimal threshold for arguments for me to evaluate them, they must have a warrant that makes sense. It is important for you to talk about impacts and compare them to the other side’s impacts on all arguments. I do not evaluate arguments that aren’t in the last two rebuttals. I don’t think debates should get personal, it should be about the arguments, not the people. I try not to have to read evidence, I prefer it to be explained and impacted in the debate, “call for this card after the round” is not an argument, explaining the warrants of the evidence in question is a more productive use of your time.
T + Theory
I will vote on T/Theory. I lean towards competing interpretations on T and that Condo is usually ok (1 CP and 1 K). I ere Aff on T, Neg on Theory. Please remember to impact these arguments, it’s not a “Voter” just because you say it is. T is not a reverse voter. Please be aware of argument interaction between different theory arguments.
CX starts (my timer starts) promptly after the end of the constructive speech. Open CX is fine, however I feel that it is best to not engage in it whenever possible. I think the CX is an underutilized speech, and good questions are often not turned into arguments, it is important to turn CX questions and answers into arguments during a speech. I don’t flow CX but I do pay attention. CX greatly influences how I award my speaker points.
I like clever PIC’s (not word PIC’s). I ran SC CP and politics a lot. However, I’ve been doing some thinking about agent CP’s, and the more I think about them the more I think they aren’t competitive (if the agent is within the USFG). Obviously this is a debate to be had and I can be persuaded either way. I am not a fan of delay or multiple CP’s (the exception to the multiple CP’s is if you are reading advantage CP’s and/or unconditional CP’s). In the 1NC, please SLOW DOWN when reading your CP text so I know what the CP is, thank you in advance. For conditional CP’s, unless the 2NR explicitly says that the SQ is still an option, if you go for the CP I transition into Plan vs CP framework in which the CP must be net beneficial to warrant a neg ballot.
I am not the biggest fan of the K. That being said, I will and have vote/d for/on the K, I would say that I just have a high threshold for the level of explanation that needs to occur for these kinds of arguments to be persuasive and make sense. I do not appreciate a bunch of post modern jargon; the simpler you can explain your K the better. Please explain what your alternative is and what voting for you means/does, what the role of the ballot is, and why all of that is more important than an endorsement of the Aff. I find that when I don't vote for a K it is usually because the explanation of what the alternative is/does is lacking. While I do not find some K's to be very persuasive, just because the debate makes me grumpy(ier) doesn't mean I won't vote for you, I'll probably just complain about it afterwards (although I will happily provide you with a list of my least favorite K's upon request). I will say that I very much dislikes K's based on a link of omission. If in doubt, read what you are best at and most comfortable with and tell me not to be so grumpy.
Please be as prompt and courteous as possible. You should have all tech stuff ready to go at the starting time of the debate (viewing laptop on, speech jumped, etc.) If you do not have a viewing laptop, and the other team doesn’t have a laptop, give them one of your laptops (you should flow on paper anyways). DO NOT: intentionally include 9 million cards that you aren’t going to read into your speech document (please feel free to ask for a new speech document with just the marked cards that are read, no charge), intentionally disorganize your speech document, steal prep-time (no one should be doing anything during “jumping” time). I am rather trusting on this issue so feel free to police yourselves, I won’t hold it against you if you call your opponents out (even if they are behaving).
I do not prompt for clarity, if I can’t understand you, I will stop flowing and make a face at you. I believe that judge adaptation is an important part of debate and so if you have a question about anything I have not covered here, please feel free to ask, but I will get angry if it’s clear you haven’t read this.
When in doubt: "Make with the good debating, not the bad debating."
Please include me in your speech doc thread. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org
I enjoy coaching and judging novice debates. I think the novice division is the most important and representative of what is good in our community. That being said, I opposed and still oppose the ADA Novice Curriculum Packet. It's an attempt by some in the community, who don't even have novice programs, to use the novice division to further their vision of what debate "should" look like. I don't like that.
I really like judging debates where the debaters speak clearly, make topic specific arguments, make smart analytic arguments, attack their opponent’s evidence, and debate passionately. I cut a lot of cards so I know a lot about the topic. I don’t know much about critical literature.
Framework debates: I don’t enjoy judging them. Everyone claims their educational. Everyone claims their being excluded. It’s extremely difficult to make any sense of it. I would rather you find a reason why the 1AC is a bad idea. There’s got to be something. I can vote for a no plan-text 1AC, if you’re winning your arguments. With that being said, am not your ideal judge for such 1AC’s because I don’t think there’s any out of round spill-over or “solvency.”
Topicality: Am ok with topicality. Competing interpretations is my standard for evaluation. Proving in-round abuse is helpful but not a pre-requisite. If am judging in novice at an ADA packet tournament, it will be very difficult to convince me to vote on topicality. Because there are only 2-3 1AC's to begin with, there's no predictability or limits arguments that make any sense.
Disadvantages: Like them. The more topic specific the better.
Counterplans: Like them. The more specific to the 1AC the better. Please slow down a little for the CP text.
Kritiks: ok with them. I don’t know a lot about any critical literature, so know that.
Rate of Delivery: If I can’t flow the argument, then it’s not going on my flow. And please slow down a little bit for tags.
Likes: Ohio State, Soft Power DA’s, case debates
Dislikes: Michigan, debaters that are not comprehensible, District 7 schools that cut and paste evidence from other schools and present it as their own without alteration. Do that in front of me and I might vote against you automatically.
I've been the Director of Debate at the US Naval Academy since 2005. I debated at Catholic University in the late 90s/early 2000s.
Put me on the doc thread: email@example.com. If this is an open debate, probably better put Adrienne on it too firstname.lastname@example.org
Four things I hate--this number has gone up:
1. WASTING TIME IN DEBATES--what is prep time? This isn't an existential question. Prep time is anything you do to prepare for a debate. That means when it's start time for the debate, everyone should be READY TO START--restrooms visited, water gathered, stand assembled, doc thread started, timer in hand, snacks ready for your judge (jk). Any of these things that need to happen during a debate are technically prep time and thus should probably happen either during your prep or the other team's prep. The 2:15 decision deadline is an unequivocal good because it makes me 100% more likely to get a reasonable amount of sleep at night which makes me a better judge/coach/administrator/human, but y'all need to get better at managing your time to make it work.
2. Elusiveness (especially in Cross-Ex but during speeches too): “I don’t know” is an acceptable answer. Taking your questioner on a goose-chase for the answer to a simple question is not. Pretending you don't know how the plan works or what it does or that there are a whole bunch of ways it MIGHT happen is not persuasive to me, it just makes it look like you don't know what's going on. Answer the counterplan; tell me it's cheating--I'm one of the like 5 judges in the community who believe you.
3. Debaters who get mad that I didn’t read their one piece of really sweet evidence. If you want me to understand the warrants of the evidence and how they compare to the warrants of the other team’s evidence, maybe you should talk about them in one of your speeches. Read less bad cards and talk about the good ones more--tell me how your one good card is better than their 12 bad ones.
4. Rudeness. Don’t be rude to your partner, don’t be rude to the other team, and DEFINITELY don’t be rude to me. Excessive cursing is frowned upon (louder for the people in the back). Conversely, if you are nice, you will probably be rewarded with points. Entertain me. I enjoy pop culture references, random yelling of "D7", humorous cross-x exchanges, and just about any kind of joke. I spend a LOT of time judging debates, please make it enjoyable, or at least not uncomfortable.
Performance/Ks of Debate:
I’m going to be painfully honest here and say that I don’t like performance debate or critiques of current debate practices. I’m also going to state the obvious and say that I really like policy debate. Why? Well, I guess it’s the same reason that some people root for the Yankees over the Red Sox—I’m evil. Actually, it’s because I think there are a lot of specific educational benefits to traditional policy debate that you can’t get anywhere else. There might be a lot of educational benefits to performances, but I think that you can get those benefits from doing other activities too, which isn’t necessarily true of policy-style debate. If this makes you want to strike me, I heartily encourage you to do so.
HOWEVER--the opposing team would need to advance those arguments to win the debate. Do I think status quo debate is good? Yes. Will I vote on "debate is good" without that argument having been made? No. If the opposing team concedes the framework debate or doesn't advance "status quo debate good" as their framework arg, I'm not going to vote on it, obviously; the debate would proceed as agreed to by both teams. I have judged these debates before and have voted on the arguments in the round.
Whatevs, if it’s your thing, you can do it in front of me. I’m pretty smart, which means I attempt to avoid reading post-modern philosophy as much as possible, and the only languages I currently speak with any level of fluency are English and Pig Latin. This means you should probably SLOW THE HELL DOWN and find a convenient time to define any words that are Greek/German/made up by an aging beatnik. The problem I have with most Ks is that they have totally sweet, awesome impacts but there’s little link to the aff (or no harder link to the aff than to the status quo), so maybe that’s something that both the aff and neg should work on in the round. I really prefer Kritiks with alternatives, and I prefer the alternative not be “reject the plan”.
I think lots of counterplans (consult, international actor, conditions, etc) are probably cheating. As a director of a small school, I don't have a huge problem with cheating if you can defend it and do it well. I wouldn't make this the "A strat" for me if you've got other options, but I appreciate that there sometimes aren't any and I promise not to throw things or set the ballot on fire if you've gotta roll with it.
Not to sound like a grumpy old person (though I am) but I think conditionality run amok is hurting debate. I'm probably okay with 1 CP, 1 K, and the status quo as an option until the 2nr (test the rez from a variety of standpoints, etc). Any more than that and you're pushing my buttons. I'm about as likely to "judge kick" a CP for you as I am to kick a winning field goal for the Steelers (not gonna happen).
There’s nothing better than a good disad. Well there are a few things, but none of them should be happening in a debate round. What do I mean by a good disad? Well, it should have a pretty clear, and ideally pretty specific, link to the affirmative. It should also (and here’s the part lots of debaters forget about) have some form of internal link that goes from the link to the impact. Aff—if the neg doesn’t have one of those things, you might want to point it out to me.
If your disad makes my internal BS-ometer go off I'm gonna tank your points.
I think my old philosophy on this point was tremendously vague and unclear (probably much like me in T debates when I was a debater). So I’ll say this instead. I don’t evaluate T like it’s a disad, which I think is the current fashionable thing to say, because unlike lots of people, I don’t think your aff advantages can outweigh T in the way that the aff could outweigh a disad. If you’re not T it’s game over in front of me—you can thank my ADA roots. So I don’t focus as much on the “best” interpretation—if the aff interp is good but not as good as the neg’s, the aff will probably win in front of me. This means I think the neg really needs to focus on the ground and limits debate—here is where you can persuade me that something is really bad. Again, I have a small school and understand the need for predictability. So tell me how the aff’s interpretation is going to make my life miserable because it allows for xyz.
I think topics are becoming more broad and vague, and understand negative frustration at attempting to engage in a debate about the plan's mechanism or what the plan actually does (often the very best parts of a debate in my opinion). I feel like I can be fairly easily persuaded to vote against a team that just uses resolutional language without a description of what that means in a piece of solvency evidence or a cross-examination clarification. I think neg teams will need to win significant ground loss claims to be successful in front of me (can't just roll with agent cps key) but I think I am more easily persuaded on these arguments than I have been in the past.
Director of Debate at George Mason University.
Please add me to chain: email@example.com
Top level Personhood Topic/Online Debating thoughts:
-I have done everything possible to avoid thinking about AI for this season. I almost definitely am not in "the lit" for the AI area.
-T "All" is silly in all its forms. Being aff is so hard on this topic, I am going to be incredibly aff leaning on T questions this year.
-I think the tva's on this topic are quite good. AFF K teams that do not defend legal personhood should keep this in mind on framework debates and not blaze over the TVA debate.
-Asking "is anyone not ready" before an online speech is silly. Wait for verbal/nonverbal confirmation that all individuals are ready before beginning your speech.
-If my camera is off, I am not ready for your speech.
-I do not consent to being recorded.
-For accessibility reasons, please make sure I can see your face/mouth when you are speaking if at all possible.
-Please do not begin the speech at your fastest speed. Makes it very difficult to begin flowing in the online environment.
5+ Random Things that Annoy me:
1. Hostility - I am too old, too cranky, and too tired to hear undergraduate students treating opponents, partners, or me like trash. I literally can't handle the levels of aggression some rounds have anymore. Please just stop. Be community minded. You are debating another person with feelings, remember that. Opponents are friends on the intellectual journey you are having in debate, not enemy combatants. Give people the benefit of the doubt and try to practice grace in rounds.
2. Cards in the body of the email.
3. Yelling over each other in cx - everyone will lose speaks.
4. Interrupting your partner in cx - I am seriously close to saying I want closed cx, I am so annoyed at how egregious this is becoming. I will deduct speaks from both partners.
5. Extending Cross ex past 3 minutes. I will actively stop listening in protest/leave the room. Anything past the 3 minutes should be for clarification purposes only.
6. Wipeout, Baudrillard, Malthus, Con Con CPs, Strike 'x' country CPs, trivializing the holocaust, reading re-prints of books from 1995 but citing it as the reprint date, fiating mindset shifts.
Competing Interpretations > Reasonability
Predictable Limits > Ground/Education
Debate-ability > Framer's Intent (I'm okay with voting that certain parts of the topic should not have been included if the topic committee just messed up the wording)
If cross ex actually checked for specification questions (i.e. "who is the actor" - and they tell you "Congress") - that is the only argument the 2ac needs to make against a 1NC spec argument.
NOVICE NOTE: I think it is ridiculous when novices read no plan affs - do whatever you want in other divisions, but these kids are just learning how to debate, so providing some structure and predictability is something I think is necessary. I err heavily on framework in those debates for the negative in the first semester.
Besides conditionality, theory is a reason to reject the argument and not the team. Anything else is an unwinnable position for me. I genuinely do not know how I lean in condo debates. Some rounds I feel like the amount of conditional positions we are encouraging in debates is ridiculous, others I wish there were more. Open to being convinced in either direction.
Are awesome. The trickier, the better. I’m okay with most of them, but believe that the action of the CP must be clearly explained at least in the 2NC. I don’t vote on something if I don’t know what my ballot would be advocating. I shouldn’t have to pull the CP text at the end of the round to determine what it does. I err to process/agent/consult cp’s being unfair for the aff (if you can defend theory though, this doesn’t mean don’t read them). Also, I think that perm do the cp on CPs that result in the plan can be rather persuasive, and a more robust textual/functional cp debate is probably necessary on the negative's part.
**Delay and consultation cp’s are illegit unless you have a specific solvency advocate for them. Agenda DA Uniqueness cp’s are too – I’m sorry that the political climate means you can’t read your politics strat on the negative, but that doesn’t mean you should be able to screw the aff’s strategy like that. Have other options.
Important CP Judge Kick Note: I always judge kick if the negative would win the debate on the net benefit alone. However, I will not judge kick to vote on presumption. Going for a CP forfeits the negative's right to presumption.
Wonderful. Disadvantages versus case debates are probably my favorite debates (pretty much every 2NR my partner and I had). I love politics disads, I think they are educational in many ways and you cannot convince me that they are not good for debate. However, I can be very persuaded by no backlash/spillover answers on the internal link – in so many situations the internal link just makes NO sense. I think there is such a thing as 100% no link and love thumper strategies. Like elections DA's - not a huge fan of impact scenarios relying on a certain party/candidate doing something once they get in office. Think shorter term impact scenarios are necessary.
2022 update: For the past several years my work with Mason Debate has primarily focused on research and coaching of our varsity policy teams and novices. I am not keeping up with the K lit as I was a few years ago. Please keep this in mind. Everything below is from a few years ago.
I wrote my thesis on queer rage and my research now focuses on a Derridian/Althusserian analysis of Supreme Court rhetoric - but that does not mean I will automatically get whatever random critical theory you are using. Due to who I coach and what I research for academics, I am most familiar with identity theories, biopower, Marxism, any other cultural studies scholarship, Baudrillard, Derrida, and Deleuze. If your K isn't one of those - hold my hand. I think the most persuasive kritik debaters are those who read less cards and make more analysis. The best way to debate a kritik in front of me is to read slower and shorter tags in the 1NC and to shorten the overviews. I find most overviews too long and complicated. Most of that work should be done on the line-by-line/tied into the case debate. Also, debating a kritik like you would a disad with an alternative is pretty effective in front of me. Keep it clean. Unless your kritik concerns form/content - be organized.
Note for policy v K regarding the "weigh the affirmative or nah" framework question - basically no matter how much debating occurs on this question, unless the affirmative or negative completely drops the oppositions' arguments, I find myself normally deciding that the affirmative gets to weigh their aff but is responsible for defending their rhetoric/epistemology. I think that is a happy middle ground.
Antitrust note: I think the affirmative should *at least* defend that corporations as they stand should not exist as such. Some type of critique in the direction of the resolution. Inserting the word "monopoly" into your aff is not enough of a topic relevant claim imo. In general, I believe affirmatives should defend some universalized praxis/method and that deferral is not a debatable strategy.
Overall Framework update: Procedural fairness IS an impact, but I prefer clash key to education. I find it difficult to vote for impacts that preserve the game when the affirmative is going for an impact turn of how that game operates.
Generic Case Update: I find myself voting neg on presumption often when this is a large portion of the 2nr strategy. I recommend affirmatives take this into account to ensure they are explaining the mechanism of the aff.
I find judging non-black teams reading afro-pessimism affirmatives against black debaters an uncomfortable debate to decide, and my threshold for a ballot commodification style argument low.
Individual survival strategies are not predictable or necessarily debatable in my opinion (i.e. "This 1AC is good for the affirmative team, but not necessarily a method that is generalizable). I enjoy critical methods debates that attempt to develop a praxis for a certain theory that can be broadly operationalized. For example, if you are debating "fem rage" - you should have to defend writ large adoption of that process to give the negative something to debate. It is pretty difficult for a negative to engage in a debate over what is "good for you" without sounding incredibly paternalistic.
I am partially deaf in my left ear. It makes it difficult to decipher multiple sounds happening at the same time (i.e. people talking at the same time/music being played loudly in the background when you are speaking). I would recommend reducing the sound level of background music to make sure I can still hear you. Also means you just have to be a smidge louder. I'll let you know if sound level is an issue in the debate, so unless I say something don't let it worry you.
I love flowing. I do my best to transcribe verbatim what you say in your speech so I can quote portions in my RFD. I do NOT flow straight down, I match arguments. I most definitely WILL be grumpy if speeches are disorganized/don't follow order of prior speeches. If you ask me not to flow, the amount I pay attention in the debate probably goes down to 20% and I will have mild anxiety during the round.
Debate should be fun - don't be jerks or rhetorically violent. This includes anything from ad homs like calling your opponent stupid to super aggressive behavior to your opponents or partner. Speaker points are a thing, and I love using them to punish jerks.
I am extremely expressive during round and you should use this to your advantage. I nod my head when I agree and I get a weird/confused/annoyed face when I disagree.
Put me on the doc chains: firstname.lastname@example.org
Former debater at GMU, was out of the community for 2 years and am now doing some judging and coaching for GMU's novices.
I default to competing interpretations. If you are reading a policy aff that has little relevance to the topic, or a very small portion of it, you should have good defenses for doing so. I try to vote off of the flow as much as I can, and then look to evidence secondarily unless told otherwise.
Slow down while reading theory/CP texts
You need to provide a detailed explanation of how the CP solves all of the aff's internal links starting in the 2NC. If it does not claim to solve 100%, there needs to be a lot of explanation coming out of the block explaining why I shouldn't care about the solvency deficit as part of your sufficiency framing. You need to disprove perms well. Multiplank CPs with a plank to solve various internals are fun, though planks should be unconditional. CPs should have solvency advocates.
Priority for me is link over uniqueness. If you're going to group sections, answer each argument made against that section, don't just read a generic link wall and assume that I'll connect everything on the line-by-line.
Case debates are great. Impact defense is the most important argument to get on these flows. I will vote neg on presumption, but you need to spend a lot of time on it. Disads on case are cool. Impact turns were amongst my favorite arguments in debate, and I love to see them.
Top Level: I debated policy all 4 years I participated, but I’ve spent my recent time in grad school engaging in critical scholarship within public health. So, I at least feel mildly more comfortable listening to a K. Due to this, I'm probably interested in hearing your args but will lack somewhat fundamental “debate” knowledge/will lack the experience to relate the concepts in your literature to policy as it exists in-round.
However, if you wind up with me in the back of a round both teams should be careful with if you’re giving enough time to comprehend/incorporate every warrant you want me to get. Giving some extra pen/brain time, like even more than you think you needed, will help you get my ballot more easily. If you’re trying to go for a late-breaking PIK, then flag what args you’re pulling it from earlier in the debate with your explanation.
My default is that the aff gets a perm. It's up to the aff to explain to me why the kritik is not mutually exclusive. Neg teams can win no perms, but I haven't been in the back of a round where this arg was won or made effectively.
FW: I try to be as blank template as I can be for clash rounds. But, despite personally believing in/studying critical discourse, I am too inexperienced in these rounds to register the args a K team would make on framework without giving more time to process them compared to what a policy team would need.
-Clarity should never be sacrificed for speed, though I make exceptions if you're trying to squeeze out one last card. This is especially true of online debate. I'll do my best to flow you, but I could be missing args you want to make if you're not at least differentiating between args.
-I've got worsening audio processing issues and spreading with online debate only compounds this. I'll do my best to try and keep up with you, but don't be surprised if you think you made an argument and I don't catch it. Going slower than your usual speed will definitely improve the chances of me flowing your argument properly.
Philosophy Updated 9-5-17
Nick Ryan – Liberty Debate – 10th year coaching/Judging
Please label your email chains “Tournament – Rd “#” – AFF Team vs Neg Team” – or something close to that effect. I hate “No subject,” “Test,” “AFF.” I would like to be included “email@example.com”
Too often Philosophy’s are long and give you a bunch of irrelevant information. I’m going to try to keep this short and sweet.
1. I spend most of my time working with our “Policy teams,” I have a limited amount of working with our “K/Non traditional” debaters, but the bulk of my academic research base is with the “traditional” “policy teams;” don’t expect me to know the nuances of your specific argument, debate it and explain it.
2. Despite this I vote for the K a fair amount of time, particularly when the argument is contextualized in the context of the AFF and when teams aren’t reliant on me to unpack the meaning of “big words.” Don’t rely on me to find your “embedded clash” for you.
3. “Perm Do Both” is not a real argument, neg teams let AFFs get away with it way too often and it shifts in the 1AR. Perms and Advocacy/CP texts should be written out.
4. If neither team clarifies in the debate, then I default to the status quo is always an option.
5. These are things that can and probably will influence your speaker points: clarity, explanations, disrespectfulness to the other team, or your partner, stealing prep time, your use of your speech time (including cx), etc.
6. Prep time includes everything from the time the timer beeps at the end of the lasts speech/CX until the doc is sent out.
7. I think Poems/Lyrics/Narratives that you are reading written by someone else is evidence and should be in the speech document.
ADA Novice Packet Tournaments:
Evidence you use should be from the packet. If you read cards that weren’t in the packet more than once it’s hard to believe it was a “honest mistake.”
If you have any questions about things that are not listed here please ask, I would rather you be sure about my feelings, then deterred from running something because you are afraid I did not like it.
I evaluate the case first. Does the aff solve its impacts, ie Aff solvency is paramount. In general, I/Ls are the weakest points of affs and DA's. They also are the strongest points when not well contested. So i would look at internal link D and impact D as well as internal link turns first. Regardless of the aff, there is almost never 100% risk of the internal link chain being true, its always probabilistic.
After that I try to find out if the neg has a way for me to filter out Aff offense/solvency. This means I try to determine whether the neg has a counterplan that solves the aff advantages or a k solves case claim. Other things I'd look for is whether the Neg offense turns the Aff offense. Remember that if you go for a case turn, you need uniqueness or else its just defense.
I go on to see what the neg's impacts are for their K or Da or case turns. Again, Links and internal links matter. Rarely is the impact the thing that makes it or breaks it. Things to consider here are whether the magnitude of the internal link and the links are high. Inevitability arguments can be quite powerful. Additionally, I am in the camp that whether the uniqueness determines the direction of the link or other way around is fundamentally context dependent. Elections may hinge on a big link because things are muddled now. Lastly, there is the impact level. Turns case args are always well appreciated. They can really neutralize an aff and make debates easy. Impact comparison is obviously helpful; keep an eye out for strategic concessions you can use off of impact defense.
I prefer affs that have some relationship to the topic and that generally means more than just adding a couple words from the resolution into your 1AC. That relationship can be debated though. If you are not topical I would prefer to see you provide unique insights about the topic that traditional policy affirmatives miss. I am unlikely to be persuaded that debating topicality is the worst kinds of violence. It might be a very serious problem. You can win impact turns in front of me about why T is a problem, explain your metaphors and have in depth reasons and examples that contextualize how topicality mirrors or causes the problems you highlight. Limits is the internal link I tend to be most persuaded by. Topical versions of the Aff are big for me that actually make inroads into solving harms identified by the affirmative.
Textually AND functionally competitive counterplans AND advantage counterplans are legitimate to me. Otherwise I tend to be a bit less forgiving for CPs that are not both. Having a CP solvency advocate, especially a good one is something that would go a long way in how I view the legitimacy of the CP, not a prerequisite but certainly a boost for you. I am not the best with theory so unless its outright dropped or mishandled I wouldn't make it your A strategy.
Not likely to be convinced Ks shouldn't be allowed in debate. Winning framework is huge to how I filter out the Impacts of the debate round. I/L turns are important. Affs that make inroads into solving harms the K has identified helps to tip the scales. Alt does not necessarily have to solve in order for me to vote on a K but it does leave the negative in a tenuous position that the Affirmative should take full advantage of. I am not likely to vote outright on presumption or you link you lose. If you make well evidenced and developed impact claims from the links you win is a different story. Ks that win the "theory" of their critique on a metaphysical/ontological level but do not apply how that alters or shapes the specific impact/solvency scenario the affirmative is narrating can leave the negative in a vulnerable spot. On the flip side, affirmatives should try to take full advantage of how their unique scenario/solvency mechanism overcomes or blunts the link to the critique.
Important Things To Consider:
Clarity is big for me, especially rebuttals. Do not speed through analytics, am not the best flow currently. Recommend including your analytics in your Speech Docs. Tell me why you have won at the top of the 2NR & 2AR and prove it throughout the rest of your speech ie make it easy for me to identify what your strongest reason for winning is. Try to put together the story of the debate at the end, otherwise if I have to, then the decision may not be the one you agree with.
Rachel Solsman (she/her)
Liberty University, 2018-2022
Last Updated: January 16, 2023
Please add me to the email chain!
I flow everything you say in your speeches straight down. I flow on paper. I generally adhere to "tech over truth." I vote on arguments that were made (with a warrant!) and extended (with a warrant!) in every speech. I will vote on any argument as long as it is explained and impacted out. Anything I say below is not set in stone, you just have to win your argument.
(TOO) LONG VERSION:
I was a policy 2A/1N for four years, and did ins and outs (2AC/1AR) on the aff for my last two years of debate. I was a 2N at one tournament for funsies. The 1AR is my favorite speech. I ran policy arguments on the neg, and took the Cap K and case against K affs.
Policy Case Debates:
Please do line-by-line in the 2AC, answering all of the 1NC's arguments in the order in which they made them. If the 2AC says "their impact defense doesn't apply" and moves on without explaining any further, that is not a warrant >:(
I enjoy link turns and impact turns on case, but they unfortunately can become messy. This problem can be solved by clearly signposting between case defense and case turns and by numbering arguments.
In the block, please very clearly explain to me the mechanism of how the counterplan works, not just "the states do the plan." When the aff is going for a solvency deficit on the counterplan, impact out why that matters and tell me why you solve better. I will not judge kick a counterplan unless explicitly told to do so, with a warrant, in the block and this argument is extended in the 2NR. I am a very big fan of creatively written permutation texts!
If the neg says "anything other than condo is a reason to reject the team" and moves on without explaining any further, that is not a warrant, and affirmative teams should capitalize on that.
The more specific a disad is to the aff, the better. I believe in zero risk of a disad. I think internal links are often terribly contrived. The 1AR gets new answers to new block arguments, but does not get to card dump new evidence without any connection to 2AC arguments.
The block should explain why the disad outweighs and turns case, specific to the affirmative's impacts and internal links. The affirmative should explain why case outweighs and turns the disad.
I often find that topicality devolves into teams reading a bunch of definition cards at each other with no argument interaction. This is annoying for me to have to sort through. I want to vote on whichever team did the better debating, not whichever team quoted the most recent court decision. Reasonability makes sense to me, so the negative has to convince me why the affirmative is unreasonable.
I personally never took framework in a round, but I listened to (perhaps too many) framework 2NCs and 2NRs. Here are my thoughts (taken with a grain of salt):
Fairness is primarily an internal link and secondarily an impact. Education is good, but you have to win why your education is better than the other team's. Clash is good, but is usually only an internal link. Many affirmative disads on framework are not inherent to the negative's model of debate and also link to the affirmative's model of debate. Negative teams should make their blocks specific to the affirmative. Some 2NRs sound more like they are complaining than they are debating.
I like creative affirmatives that have germane built-in answers to framework and cap. I think the affirmative should pick an advocacy and stick to it. The affirmative needs to explain to me what they do, why their affirmative is needed, and what impacts they solve. If you win framework, you still have to win an impact to the affirmative.
If you win a direct reason to reject the team, you do not have to win anything else.
I am hesitant to vote on totalizing arguments such as "you don't get to weigh the aff" without a coherent and warranted explanation as to why this is true. I prefer links that are specific to the affirmative and not a 1NC shell that could have been read against any team. I enjoy a good floating PIK, but this argument must be present and explained in both the block and the 2NR. If you win your framework, you still have to win a link and an impact.
If you win a direct reason to reject the team, you do not have to win anything else.
I do not actively flow cross-ex, but I am paying attention and will write down anything important. Cross-ex is binding to the extent that if you said the CP was condo, you cannot make it dispo in the block, but I am willing to accept new articulations as long as they are connected to an argument and are not egregious.
You can be funny, but do not be mean.
I believe that substance is more important than theory. That being said, I am willing to vote on any theory argument as long as this argument is explained, has warrants, and has an impact. The negative must provide warranted reasons for why I should not vote them down for reading their specific counterplan / kritik. Just because I am willing to vote for these arguments does not mean that it should be the A strat, but simply that many negative strategies have become particularly cheaty.
I am a speaker point fairy and I love to see teams that I have judged win speaker awards. Everyone starts out at a 28.8, and can go either up or down from there, although I generally do not go below 28.5. I award speaker points for making smart and warranted arguments, giving organized (and numbered!) speeches, and speaking clearly.
These are my comments for non-policy debate rounds:
1. I allow for off-time road maps, and I think that everyone should give a road map for their speech. It is for the good of all participants and judges that there is an order given for the speeches, and I will not penalize participants for giving an order by taking away part of their speech time.
2. Unless told otherwise, I vote for the team with a) the clearest internal link chain as to how they arrive at their impacts, and b) the team that solves for the biggest impact in the round.
3. Please repeat and explain your definitions and value criterion in every speech so that I can remember and be conscious of all the arguments in the round.
Hills I Will Die On:
1. The "American Boy" Fortnite parody song "Chug Jug With You" is unironically a good song.
2. Colloquially speaking, an intrinsic perm is the plan, plus the counterplan, plus something extra. Nonsense, that is an *extrinsic* perm, because you are including something *outside* of the plan and the counterplan. An intrinsic perm might be something that included part of the plan and/or part of the counterplan.
3. I was a Novice Debater as a freshman, and I saw other freshmen who had been debating for six years winning speaker awards and Varsity tournaments. My high school did not provide any opportunities for me to debate, nor any summer camps, and consequently no debate scholarships at major universities with well-funded programs and a large staff of coaches. Although I was lucky enough to attend a university with a good novice program, many do not have that opportunity. College Policy Debate is inherently classist.
Director, James Madison University
20th year judging NDT/CEDA debate
CNTRL F "Short Version" for a summary version.
CNTRL F "Long Version" for rambling long version.
CNTRL F "Critical Identity Team" for full views on that.
CNTRL F "Ethics Challenge" for full views on that.
CNTRL F "Speaker Point Scale" for full views on that
CNTRL F "Procedure Notes" for info about card procedures and humbugs about CX.
Debate is game with a very serious purpose: teaching critical thinking, argument and research skills, subject knowledge, and tactical and strategic perspectives. I will take your debate seriously.
-I try to be objective, not neutral. I see job my as evaluating the disagreement in debate using my critical thinking abilities and, if necessary, my prior knowledge and experience.
-Disclosure is a courtesy, not a rule. I will not vote on an argument about a team not disclosing. I will only vote on a mis-disclosure argument if you can show its (a) factual and (b) intentionial.
-The topic is important to promote clash. However, I often vote for non-topical teams because topicality is debate-able and teams arguing for the topic must be able to win the topicality argument.
-I am not likely to be persuaded debate is a bad activity. Criticism of how we debate is different than saying debate is bad.
-I flow on paper. Iexpect debaters to flow/note take and do not think opponents are required to provide pristine speech docs or analytics.
-I do not usually read speech docs during the speech. I read lots of cards after debates/in prep time.
-I believe I am a good judge for a variety of K teams but most K teams disagree. This is probably due to my views on topicality. I think that establishing a negative framework for impact evaluation and alternative solvency are the two most important aspects of winning a criticism.
-I am burden of proof oriented. I expect claims to be supported, not presumed. That means I vote on no risk of a link or no solvency more often than other judges.
-I am not a good judge for self-referential/circular arguments (i.e., 'Vote for what's best for me and I'm the judge of what's best for me').
-CX is not prep time. Prep time is not CX time. I will end CX if you aren't using it. I will not listen to prep time CX. Blow off your CX and see the results in your points.
-I have of views on counterplans and counterplan theory. If that matters to you, see below.
-I often look and sound upset, annoyed or angry but I am actually rarely these things in any meaningful sense. My thinking face looks like an angry scowl. My slightly confused face looks like I'm seriously enraged. My 'slightly annoyed for 2 sec' face looks like I'm about to toss over a desk. Sorry about this. I was born with this face.
*END SHORT VERSION*
I believe that I’m out of step with contemporary debate. I feel it almost every time I judge. It’s not about the type of arguments that are made, it’s about how I judge them. I try to be even-handed and fair to both sides, but compared to most debaters’ expectations: I’m too opinionated about what constitutes adequate support, I’m too willing to dismiss badly supported arguments, I have too high of standards of engagement between two teams, I expect extra-ordinary claims to have at least decent proof, I don’t think repeating a prior block is a respectable extension of an argument even if the other team didn’t respond, I don’t think 2-3 sentences is usually enough to win a major argument. I do think you need to explain the claim, warrant, data for arguments in rebuttals, even when dropped. I don’t think a dropped assertion is necessarily true for the purposes of debate. I will ignore arguments I cannot understand and I have a coherence standards for positions and arguments. I think lots of ‘defensive’ arguments end up being terminal for positions.
Which is all to say that I am probably far too opinionated and interventionist for most debaters’ tastes. I like to think of it as being a principled critic of argumentation, but call it what you will. Does that make me a bad judge? Well, I certainly don’t think I’m what debaters want. I don’t know. But I am this way because I feel like these principles matter and I find them impossible to ignore.
Debate is the kiln in which minds are strengthened into ever better forms. The goal of each debate is not necessarily to find the right answer to a question, but an exploration of ideas and an experiment with concepts, enabled by the unique forum of debate that protects us from the full consequences of the ideas we advocate. It is the freedom of debate which enables it to be so effective. Hence, debate is a political project as well as an educational one. It is a democratic experiment. In it, we exercise our freedom to advocate for ideas—and to oppose them—in the spirit of putting our minds to work on a wide set of problems.
As a judge, I try to evaluate the quality of ideas and argumentation that debaters present. I do not have a preference for policy debate, critique debate, non-traditional debate or whatever any wishes to call their format. I do ask that ideas are presented coherently, cogently, and be well-supported by epistemologically-appropriate evidence.
I do have some argument biases (charted, per others):
Killing/letting die on purpose good--------------------------X--Killing/letting die on purpose bad.
Children are good-X--------------------------------Children are bad.
Ha funny debate only stupidity good!------------------------X-Ha funny debate only stupidity bad!
Topic ------X------------------No Topic.
ESR good for debate--------------------X---ESR is nonsense.
Offense/defense paradigm yes----------------X----no.
Alt-less Ks yes-----------------------X---no.
Stupid contrived fiat on CPs yes!-----------------------X--no.
Asserting another person has no role in debate: YES good strat-------------------------X---no.
Fairness It's an objective truth--------X--------------------It doesn't exist & we shouldn't consider it.
Here's that in another form.
I tend to dislike misanthropic arguments that ask me to kill people or increase suffering. If you read any argument says people dying is irrelevant, mass suffering is good for people or that children should not exist or be killed, you simply do not want me as a judge.
I tend to dislike arguments that rely on ideas almost everyone knows are wrong or originate out of dubious sources.
I tend to dislike arguments that attempt to stop rather than promote the development of ideas.
I tend to think the concept of a resolution is good and affirmatives should be topical, although I vote for non-topical affirmatives when it seems warranted by the debate (see note).
I tend to err negative on many theory questions, except when it comes to fiat. In that, I believe that international fiat, state fiat, and object fiat are unfair to affirmatives but to be honest these don't seem like voting issues, just reasons the counterplan should be ruled out.
I do not believe your assertion alone constitutes an argument that I am required to respect.
I tend to place great weight on cross-examination.
I tend to dislike arguments or positions that indicate that the other team has no place in the conversation.
I’ll limit how much I inject my own ideas into decisions but I will not prohibit my evaluative skills from the debate. I demand greater argumentative power from what appear to me to be counterintuitive arguments. I try to be reflective about my biases but I will not defer to other persons to make decisions for me.
I fundamentally believe in standards of decency and respectful treatment of colleagues and a sporting attitude toward competition. I understand that debate is serious. I realize that civility is sometimes a policing standard and there are limits to its application. But I persist in believing debaters should be free to make their arguments free from undue personal insults, discriminatory remarks, interruption, intimidation, or slurs regarding their race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, sex, sexual behavior, religion or socioeconomic standing. I am quite willing to step in and object or refuse to continue to participate in debates in which such activity continues.
Speaker Point Scale (novice doesn't follow this scale):
Open: 28.49; JV: 28.05; Novice: 28.31
29.5-29.9 Very to extremely high quality speeches that I would consider very good even for Copeland/Top 5 plaque competitors.
29-29.4 Excellent speeches that significantly advanced your team's chances of winning. Good to very good speeches for First Round-level competitors.
28.6-28.9 Above average speeches that I would expect to see out of clearing teams. Good to very good speeches for competitors at the NDT qualifier level.
28.1-28.5 Average to somewhat above average speeches that contributed to your team's chances of winning. Slightly above to somewhat below average speeches for the NDT qualifier level.
27.6-28 Mediocre to average speeches that only moderately advanced your team's position toward winning the debate.
27.1-27.5 Fairly poor speeches that did not significantly advance your teams position in the debate and likely did not sound good.
26.5-27 Poor speeches that had a negative impact on your team's chances of winning.
< 26.4 You did something very insulting and/or turned a near-certain win into a certain loss via your speech
**I am moderately hearing impaired. This should not affect you except that it helps if you enunciate clearly and project your voice. Rooms with echoes or ambient noise pose particular problems for me. If you see me moving around the room to hear, it's not necessarily you, it may be me trying to get a better angle to hear you.
Critical Identity Teams
Originally written in 2014 so maybe out of date. I haven't revised it in quite a while. Most of it still accurate to me even if the language and named arguments are a bit out of date.
I find it a nearly undeniable fact that the growth of critical identity arguments has dramatically increased the inclusiveness of our community in the past ten years. This is meaningful change. So I’m taking the time to write this extensive addendum to my judging philosophy because I think it’s important to recognize that there are terminological differences and stylistic differences in debate right now and I want to help the teams that are helping make our community more inclusive feel more comfortable in front of me.
Teams that make critical identity arguments are widely varied and so I’m reluctant to comment on them (or define them), except that I have noticed that those I think of *provisionally as critical identity teams are sometimes surprised by my decisions (for and against them). After some thought, I think it is because of a certain divergence in the judging pool. Critical identity teams, roughly speaking, share a common judging pool that emphasizes certain things, takes others for granted and has certain expectations. My background in traditional critique and policy debating has emphases and vocabularies different from this pool. In a few decisions that a few teams have not liked, I’ve explained my perspective and it’s sometimes been rejected or received push back and even dismissal. That’s regrettable. I want these teams (you, if you’re reading this) to see me as pointing them to the path to victory with me as the judge and I encourage these teams to see me as an opportunity rather than as a barrier.
So, rather than wait until a post-round to translate my views—which is too late—I’m going to post them here. It’s long, yes, but I put some effort and thought into this.
Overview over, here are my notes:
It’s probably true that it’s easier for you to win on the negative because there’s no topical barrier for you. There’s a huge exception to this, noted in the affirmative section. Here’s my hints:
-Argue the alternative. This is the number one point of difference between myself (and judges like me) and the pool of judges I’ve noted above. Winning a link and impact isn’t enough. You’re going to need to focus on extending, arguing, and explaining how your alternative solves your link arguments, how it solves the case and/or how it is the ‘better’ choice in the face of affirmative case arguments. If your alt solves the case, explain how. If it doesn’t solve the case, explain why that doesn’t matter. Your alternative needs to solve the link to the case, because if not, there’s simply no uniqueness to your arguments against the affirmative—they are true whether I vote affirmative or negative. That doesn’t mean that you need to solve the WHOLE link. For example, if the law is fundamentally anti-black, then even if the alternative doesn’t solve the law being anti-black it might provide us with a path to a non-law based perspective or something of that sort. When I’ve voted AFF against critical identity teams, there’s often been a post-round attempt at a gotcha question: “So, you just voted for a law you agree is anti-black/queer/ableist?” And I’ve answered: “No. Voting for an anti-black/queer/ableism law was inevitable because the alternative didn’t solve any bit of anti-blackness/queerness/ableism.” I will say that 90% of the time I’ve come to the conclusion NOT because I evaluated a contested debate about the alternative but because the negative barely extended the alternative or did not do so at all. I'm generally unpersuaded by "reject" arguments without some value to the rejection.
-Argue the case. Affirmatives often solve impacts—and those impacts can outweigh. If you don’t just let that slide, the fact that they CAUSE another impact cannot be easily dismissed. I watched a debate at the NDT where the critical race team just slayed the policy affirmative by reading phenomenal cards that indicating the structural, racist roots of climate change and consumption patterns. It was excellent. However, that doesn’t happen very often. Being anti-queer is bad…but so is climate change that kills millions, particularly vulnerable populations. It’s easier to pick which one I must address first if the chances of the cases chances of solving climate change are either mitigated or critiqued in a fashion that undermines its solvency.
-Frame the impact. A certain group of judges might think that if you win “social death now” that means basically all the impacts of the case are irrelevant. I don’t think it’s nearly that easy. Think of it this way—you, the debater, are often in the population that your argument says is socially dead. Yet I think that your life matters. And I want to stop bad things from happening to you despite your state of partial or total social death. So, you must say MORE than social death. You may explain, for example, that social death perpetually PERMITS radical violence at a constant or increasing rate; that massive real violence is a terminal and immutable consequence of social death. This does not, by the way, mute the entirety of offense gained by an opponent’s policy action, but in combination with a won alternative provides a nice pairing of a systemic impact with strong empirical grounding and very high future risk with a method of addressing that risk. Some framing evidence helps here.
-Fiat is illusory isn’t a real argument (nor is the affirmative argument that the “The plan REALLY happens!”). I get the plan doesn’t happen but it’s a worthwhile thought experiment that enables us to discuss the merits of the plan. I don’t AUTOMATICALLY assume this, but if the affirmative team frames their case as an representative anecdote of how we can learn to engage in politics, or how this kind of debate informs politics, either in general or in specific, I tend to agree that’s reasonable since that is the whole reason I think debate is educational. THUS! The KEY is is not to argue, “Fiat is illusory, they lose on presumption”—which is a bad argument—but to argue that given that they are teaching a BAD politics and that you present a better one. Your better framework may include arguing for the abandonment of plan-based politics.
-Frame the meaning of winning a key premise. To some extent, I find that to be true of anti-blackness or anti-queerness or anti-intersex, etc. If you win that blackness is an ontology and anti-blackness is a political ontology (although, to be honest, I’m not sure I understand what a political ontology is) you’ve won a premise that gets you a long way in the debate. However, you haven’t WON the debate, per se (nor does losing this premise necessarily lose you the debate). If society is anti-black, does that means politics is irrelevant? My presumption is NO. If you are black and live in anti-black civil society, I still presume that it would be better to do things that blunt the force of anti-blackness with ‘liberal’ policies. Now, you have a huge advantage if you win your premise because in a larger sense you’re winning that liberalism is doomed—but you need to make that clear. Finally, you should work at backstopping this argument. I’ve seen teams go all-in on winning queer is ontological without looking at how they could win if they did not win this premise. I saw a team at the NDT nicely win a debate where they lost that blackness is ontological by arguing that even if its socially constructed, its so deeply embedded that it can’t be extracted and that the alternative resolved it best. Well done.
Most of this is about topicality because once you’re beyond that barrier you’re just in regular debateland and the above guidelines apply.
First hint with me on this overall—persuade your opponent not to go for topicality. When negative teams don’t go for topicality against blatantly non-topical teams, I have a ridiculous affirmative voting record. The reasons are obvious: Links and competition are hard to generate when you’re not topical. That’s why topicality is vital for those teams. But let’s ignore that for a moment.
-Topicality: First hint: Be topical. I think it’s possible. I particularly think it’s possible to defend the topic from the outside—I think it’s possible for queer victims of police violence to argue police who harass queers should be arrested by the state without being or endorsing the state. I think you can be topical and argue that you shouldn’t need to answer process arguments. As the coach of repeated, successful topical K teams I don’t think topicality automatically means role-playing in the strong sense. I also think these debates are essential. Surely it can’t be the case that all critical identity positions of value require non-topicality and I’m very interested to hear the ways critical queer, race, gender, intersex values can be met with a topical plan. ***HOWEVER, if you have me as a judge and you’re NEVER topical, it’s probably a bad idea to just toss a plan in. It’s bad because you haven’t thought through how to defend yourself against arguments.
-Ok, so you’re not topical. Let’s talk about my presumptions on that. The main barrier for you here is that I don’t believe that any state action 100% pollutes any action. That doesn’t mean the state is good. Far from it. But considering the fact that many of the teams that refuse to ever agree with the topic attend STATE UNIVERSITIES with coaches receiving paychecks from THE STATE it’s hard for me to understand why talking about state action is impossible. That’s not a killer argument, but it does seem to hint that SOME state actions are not entirely poisonous. This is my own view and while it does color my T arguments, it’s not insurmountable. Here’s how you overcome that.
-Don’t be anti-topical. It’s a lot easier for me to vote for you if you’re not anti-topical. If you are anti-topical, say, your affirmative says (last year’s topic) that prostitution is bad (and implies shouldn’t be legal) then it’s going to be much harder for you to win in front of me. The reason is simply that you’ve staked out negative ground. You’ve admitted there’s a debate to be had on something and chosen NOT to take your assigned side. You refuse to take up the affirmative side yet you functionally attempt to force the other team to do just that.
- Being PRO-TOPICAL still requires you to be smart. The problem is that the other team will ask, “Why NOT be topical?” You need an answer to that question that isn’t just “State messed up, yo.” You CAN argue that. You CAN win that argument. But I’m going to want nuanced reasons that are specific to a particular to a place and time. Saying, “The US government is messed up and did bad things” seems to me to beg the question of what it SHOULD do to change. So, to overcome that you’ll need to explain why it’s better to debate about your adjacent discussion of topical things rather that government action AND you’ll need to explain why that’s an AFFIRMATIVE argument and not a negative argument.
-Answer their offensive arguments on T. Limits, ground, fairness, predictability, education—these are real things in debate and they matter. You will do well to answer these arguments with both offense and defense. I often see all offense (limits debate protect white folks) without any defense. PARTICULARLY answer their arguments about why topical/legal debating is good, in addition to the regular T argument set. These cards tend to be pretty good so your responses need to be good as well. “Fairness for who?” is a good question—but it needs to be answered rather than just leaving it open ended. On your education arguments you need to move beyond “All our arguments are educational” to explaining why you lead to good, predictable debates that are relatively fair and deeply educational. I am in agreement with the point that critical identity arguments are intrinsically educational (see my intro to this whole thing) but the bigger question is how do they create good debates where both sides explore issues in depth? There are really good reasons that this is the case—you need to make those arguments.
-Address topical version of the affirmative and understand that the legal debates good is a net benefit to this argument. A good team T will argue that you do not have a right to the perfect affirmative, just one that lets you discuss similar key issues. Also understand that “State bad” isn’t necessarily an answer. If can be, but even the anti-statist needs to understand the state. As a former anti-capitalist advocate, I still needed lawyers to get me out of jail and I still needed knowledge of the law to protect myself from the police as much as could be managed..
-Realize that “No Topical Version” is a trap. If you say no topical version, you are setting yourself up to link to the “this is anti-topical” argument, i.e., that your aff is wholly unpredictable and in the reverse direction of all of the regular topic negative arguments. The “no topical version of the aff” made by the 2AC sounds like, “Our whole affirmative advantage is illegitimate.” If you say “yes, topical version” then obviously you’ve also set yourself up. At the very least, so don't assert the 'no topical version' and set yourself up for this debate intentionally.
-Have an answer for the topical research burden argument. Critical identity teams are fond of arguing that there are many different versions of their arguments—TRUE! Which for teams going for T just shows how large the research burden becomes to prep for every single iteration—every different case is its own topic area. You need offensive and defense arguments. The argument that “You just don’t want to answer/research queer/black/feminist/trans/ableism arguments” is a good starting point but it’s not enough (and solved by topical version of the affirmative). “Case list” is also not answer to this argument, because research burden isn’t a question of predictability. Don’t fall into the trap of listing off a bunch of crappy positions you refuse to defend (state good, cap K) as neg ground.
-Find A CERTAIN TOPICALITY. Optimally, a strategic team will find a way to be topical, yet not defend the state. FYI, I absolutely do not think that having a plan that mentions what the US or USFG should do obligates you to defend “the State”. I think it obligates you to defend that particular state action. However, I think you can go beyond that. I think you can defend the plan as a critical intervention, as an imaginative starting point, as epistemological experiment etc. without defending state action in other ways. Now, you’ll have to defend your plan (or a topical advocacy statement—you need not have a PLAN, per se) in SOME ways but probably not a lot of different things.
-Impact turn topicality. If all else fails, impact turn and be extremely offensive against it. Disallow me from voting for T—you can complete this tactic by providing defense against their impact arguments while working on your own. Defense wins championships.
Hints not related to topicality
Once you’re past the topicality gate, you’re in the realm of normal non-procedural arguments and I have few suggestions in this area to avoid common errors (certainly not universal errors) I see in debates in front of me:
-Back up outrage with arguments. Excellent critical identity teams do this…but younger/lesser teams seem to struggle with this. Don’t get so wound up in your position that it stops you from making your argument.
-Antagonizing your opponent won’t sway me. There are reasons that you may choose to antagonize your opponent, some of which may be strategic, some not, some both. But as for how I view the debate, it will not contribute to me voting for you. See note in original philosophy about respectful behavior toward colleagues.
-Make the history lesson pay. Sometimes these debates collapse into scattered historical anecdotes that are only lightly tied together—get full credit for your analysis of history by investing time in explaining its application in this case.
-Don’t rely too heavily on enthymeme (don’t rely on me filling in the blanks for you). Too often, I hear judges (on MANY sides) say, “I guess I just know what they’re talking about.” No. You have an explanatory burden to help me cognitively grasp the situation. I grasp the frustration that comes with my lack of cultural connection to your argument, but I’m doing my best. If you think, “I’m tired of explaining myself to straight people, white people, cis gender people, able-bodied people, etc” and then don’t explain, it becomes really hard for me to vote for you (as well as making a bunch of assumptions that may or may not be accurate, depending on your judge). I won’t vote on what I can’t explain.
FINAL NOTE: You might be thinking, after reading this, ‘WOW, we’re NEVER preferring him. Look all the things he wants us to do—his presumptions are just too high. What a T hack.’
Maybe. But what I’ve tried to do is review almost every argument I find persuasive on T and flag it for you and send you in the right direction in answering it. In REAL DEBATES, teams won’t make all these arguments and they won’t always make them well. I ALWAYS evaluate the debate in front of me. But I wanted to flag all these so you could think through your answers and win my ballot. I wanted to flag these because winning my ballot is possible, not impossible.
I also think this can serve as a primer for winning in front of judges that are like me. To succeed in the big picture, you need to expand your judging pool. At the NDT and in national circuit elimination debates, you can’t hide from all the judges who think topicality is a thing or who have a grounding in traditional critique or policy debate. In my ideal world, you’d see me (or someone like me) on a panel against a non-critical identity team and think, “Good. Mick is a fair judge who sees the value of our arguments. He cares about our role in debateland and the world and even though he might not be our wheelhouse judge, we know the route to win with him.”
And, in the ideal world, your opponent would think the exact same thing.
I want to say that I am not a fan of ethics challenges but they may be the only resolution to certain circumstances. In most cases, I prefer lesser solution from a team with a ethics-related issue: i.e., rejection of the piece of evidence, rejection of a position, rejection of all evidence with demonstrated problems, etc.
I have a relatively standard procedure on ethics challenges. Ethics challenges are accusations of academic misconduct against the opposing team that are outside the bounds of what can be adjudicated by the debate. Justifications for an ethics challenge include, but are not limited to:
1) Mis-representing evidence, i.e., “cutting out of context”--This includes highlighting, reading, or constructing evidence in a way that allows the team to present the evidence as supporting a claim that directly contradicts the intention of the author.
2) Fabricating evidence– This includes altering evidence by adding or deleting parts of cited evidence or wholesale making up evidence and presenting it in a debate.
3) Mis-representing what evidence has been read in the round, i.e., “clipping” or “cross-reading” or falsely claiming a piece of evidence has been read when it has not, or, alternatively, claiming a piece of evidence has NOT been read by the team when it has.
4) Refusing to provide your cited/read evidence to your opponent in the debate or intentionally leaving evidence out of a speech document in order to gain a competitive advantage.
5) Intentionally mis-citing evidence in order to gain a competitive advantage, i.e., leaving out an author or source that might be a liability in a debate. Incidental mis-citation is not subject to an ethics challenge.
6) Using ellipsis or leaving out parts of evidence that are part of the context of the evidence because the part excluded by the ellipsis would be a significant liability in the debate.
7) Intentionally mis-disclosing to another team in pre-round pre-round preparation in order to gain a competitive advantage.
8) If you generally accuse the team ‘cheating’ on any non-debate argument issue and try to make it a ‘voting issue’ (disclosure, speech docs, cards, etc), I will ask if you intend this as an ethics challenge.
This is not a complete list. Please note that some of these include a factor of intention and others do not. If you read a card that’s out of context or fabricated, it doesn't matter if you or your partner didn’t cut the card. In other cases, there must be intention.
Process and burden of proof for ethics challenges:
1) An ethics challenge will stop the round. I may pause once and try to talk through the issue briefly, trying to find a negotiating solution short of the challenge. But once the challenge is confirmed, it’s round over for me. If the tournament or organization procedures turn it over to the tournament officials, I will do that. If it is left to me to decide, I will ask for proof and defense and make a decision. I may give time for teams to produce evidence. For example, to provide a full length version of a card, article, book to demonstrate a defense. Moreover, I am NOT simply relying on team arguments. This is no longer a debate where I rely solely on the arguments presented. I will use any resource I can to reach a conclusion. If I am on a panel and it is not in my sole power to stop the round, I will adjudicate the debate based on the initial charge and defense. I will not evaluate the rest of the debate, even if the rest of the debate proceeds.
(2) I have a fairly high bar for voting on them. I must see clear and convincing evidence of the conditions above. Suspicion or even simply me believing it’s likely is not sufficient for me to vote on an ethics challenge against a team.
(3) If an ethics challenge is proven with clear and convincing evidence it’s a loss for the team challenged. If it is not proven to a clear and convincing level, it’s a loss for the team conducting the challenge.
1. I am worn out of looking through 6 different speech documents for cards. I am implementing a policy of asking that cards on positions that have been gone for in the 2NR/2AR be consolidated and sent to me). You don't need to sort out WHICH cards you went for, it's easier if I pick through what matters. Just consolidate them, organized by SUBJECT and SPEECH and send them to me. If you are paper team, you're are a cruel person who wants trees to die, but, on the other hand you make judging much easier :).
2. Most CX answers that given outside the 3 minutes of designated CX are not relevant to my decision. You want to get your argumentative question in? Fit your question and the opportunity to answer it into the CX time. You don't get to use some prep time to cover the argument you dropped, so you don't get to used prep time to ask the questions you forgot. Exception A: Filibustering to run out the clock will cause me to ignore this rule. CXer, you'll know you are free to keep asking because I will keep paying attention instead of getting up or walking away. Exception B: While answers might be non-binding, deception is misconduct foul, auto-loss. If the Cx-ee answers a clarifying question in prep like, "What's the status of the counterplan?" and then CHANGES it and thinks that's a clever trick, I see that as misconduct. Exception C: I think clarifying questions are fine in CX. Examples: What was your third argument on the DA? What's the status of the CP? Which card did you read? Answering these questions are matters of courtesy and fair play. Of course, they might just answer: "We didn't take a position on CP rules in the 1NC." And you'll be out of luck in arguing with them.
names michelle. previously coached at GMU (3 years) and binghamton (2 years).
add me to the chain please - my email is firstname.lastname@example.org
updated for 2022 college topic - i have done no prep or research for this topic so debate accordingly.
I tend to keep my camera on during speeches. If my camera is off please assume I am not there and do not begin. I’m probably not far from my computer but if it’s been a while shoot me an email. 'is anyone not there' is not how you should be asking lol
Do whatever you do best. i was a flex 2n and read both k affs and policy affs, so i am down for just about anything
FW - this is a huge chunk of the db8s i have judged/debated during my now decade long tenure in debate, so i have heard just about it all. i find clash impacts more persuasive than fairness. topic education das are generally not a winner in front of me - the process of debate does not translate well to the real world so i dont believe you when you say debating w/e topic is going to make you a more persuasive advocate or a better congress person. most of us are far too busy between school, debate, work, etc for this to leave the space so lets not pretend like it will. take advantage of the other teams screw ups - if their counter interp is nonsense, take advantage of that. meanwhile, make sure your tva is relevant and can actually engage with the content of the aff. please also always answer the aff - presumption and turns case args are your friends! side note, if the aff gives you disads or impact turns, i far prefer that debate and will be very grumpy if you chose to go for fw instead.
for answering fw - please defend some sort of action that solves some sort of impact. it obvi doesnt have to be capital T Topical, tho preferably it is in the direction or spirit of the revolution. i have voted for affs with no relevance to the topic, but i have a much lower threshold for fw in that world.
t - again i know little to nothing about the topic but i love a good t debate. ive voted on my fair share of bad t args before (shout out to t subs) because aff teams never seem to provide a meaningful limit with their c/i. i need it explained to me exactly what the case list is under either interp, and what ground was lost. i obvi dont really know the aff/neg ground on this topic but i like to think i can follow along.
Counterplans - not the biggest fan of cheaty cps. condo is good up until a point (probably max 3, preferably 2). dont like perf con or condo planks. not a fan of states but i guess y'all dont really have a choice this year.
case debate - big big fan of good impact turn debates. presumption is also a useful argument.
K - it would be cool if your link would be about the aff - i have judged too many clashless debates where the neg just goes on some adjacent historical tangent but never brings it back to the aff. i like alts but they are not necessary - win the framework debate and you're golden. idk why theres a trend to go for a cap k and then spend a ton of time on framework when it is functionally an impact turn debate??
some odds and ends -
im typically a big picture thinker, so meta level questions and framing args are critical to instructing my ballot, especially in debates involving a k. im very interested in what the ballots relationship is to voting for whichever side, particularly in issues involving things within and outside my social location. i dont really like being perceived as a judge, but what does my ballot as a white queer woman mean? (aka i find the ballot k persuasive more often than not)
if im in a straight up policy debate, i dont get these too terribly often, so id recommend not making it too big - id prefer depth over breadth.
ive found im a pretty expressive judge, and if i am confused or cant understand you my face will make that clear.
Have fun, be clear, be clever.
*Updated January 2023*
One judging platform note - at some tournaments (e.g. Northwestern), I'll be online. Genuinely sorry for that - especially in debates involving two face-to-face teams. Don't be shy to tell me how I can make the experience better re: tech stuff/RFD discussion processes/etc. Moreover, I'll do my best to be mode neutral in face-to-face vs. virtual debates (slightly deemphasizing speaker style, volume considerations, etc.). Thanks for your patience when I can't be there in person (though I certainly will be at some tournaments).
That aside, I debated for four years at Marquette University High School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Go Packers/Brewers/Bucks! In college, I debated for four years at Michigan State University, earning three first round bids and a semifinals appearance at the NDT.
Currently, I work on the non-debate side of Michigan State, doing education data analysis, program evaluation, and professional development. On the side, I coach for Georgetown University. I still love debate, but it is no longer my day job. Given that, I'm not a content expert on this topic like some of your other judges might be.
More generally, any given debate can get in-depth quickly, so you should be careful with acronyms/intricacies if you think that your strategy is really innovative or requires a deep understanding of your specific mechanism. Teams sometimes get so deep in the weeds researching their business that they forget to provide basic explanation for the argument's context/history/background. Instead, they jump into the most advanced part of the topic. If something is creative, that's an issue because it's likely the judge's first time hearing it.
Everyone says it and almost no one means it, but I think that you should debate what you care about/what interests you/what you're good at doing. In other words, put me in the "big-tent" camp. All of the stuff below is too long and shouldn't impact your debating (maybe besides the meta issues section). It really is just my thoughts (vs a standard), and is only included to offer insight into how I see debate.
META ISSUES/ABBREVIATED PHILOSOPHY/STRIKE CARD ESSENTIAL
1. Assuming equal debating, I'm *really* bad for the K on the neg/as planless aff. I find my self constantly struggling with questions in decision-time like: Does the neg ACTUALLY have a link to the plan's MECHANISM or even their SPECIFIC representations? What is the alternative? How does that advocacy change the extremely sweeping and entrenched problems identified in the 1NC/2NC impact evidence? If it's so effective, why doesn't it overcome the links to the plan? If the alt is just about scholarship/ethics/some -ology, how does that compare to material suffering outlined by the 1AC? In the end, when I vote negative on it/for planless affs, it's generally because the losing team dropped a techy ballot like ethics first, serial policy failure or we're a PIK. I normally don't like footnoting philosophies, but I love what Cody Crunkilton has to say when he comments that "I won't hold it against you if you like Ks, and am not going to feel like my time was wasted or you are destroying debate or anything - I am just genuinely very confused about how kritiks answer the aff" and that "it is possible to convince me otherwise, but the amount of work you will have to do will be so high that nineteen out of twenty times you would be better off doing something else."
2. College debate made me more oriented to tech than truth. In my experience as a debater and judge, ignorance of tech resulted in a callous dismissal of arguments as “bad” and increased judge intervention to determine what is “correct” instead of what was debated in-round and executed more effectively. That said, truth is a huge bonus, and being on the right side makes your task of being technically proficient easier because you can let logic/evidence speak a little for you.
3. Despite my inclination to tech, I still care a lot about evidence quality (namely because it demonstrates hard work and provides some insight into the relative truth of arguments). This idea has a couple of implications: a strong analytical argument can defeat bad evidence, one good card is better than 5 meh ones, and part of my role in judging is comparing evidence *when it's contested/debated*
4. Every round could use more calculus and comparisons. The most obvious example of this thesis is with impact calc, but I think there are a laundry list of other examples like considering relative risk, quality of evidence, and author qualifications. As a format, any of these comparisons should have a reason why your argument is preferable, a reason why that frame is important, and a reason why your opponents’ argument is poor/viewed in a poor lens. In the context of impact calc, this framework means saying that your impact outweighs on timeframe, that timeframe is important, and that while your opponent’s impact might have a large magnitude, I should ignore that frame of decision-making. Engaging your opponents’ arguments on a deeper level and resolving debates is the easiest way to get good points. Beyond that, making a decision is functionally comparing each teams’ stance/evidence quality/technical ability on a few nexus questions, so if you’re doing this work for me you will probably like my decision a lot more than if I’m left to sort through a pile of cards.
5. I hold debaters to a high standard for making an argument. Any claim should be supported with a warrant, evidence and impact on my decision. Use early speeches to get ahead on important questions. For instance, I won’t dismiss something like “Perm do Both,” but I think the argument would be bolstered by a reason why the perm is preferable in the 2AC (i.e. how it interacts with the net-benefits) instead of saving those arguments for the 1AR/2AR. By the way, you should consider this point my way out in post-rounds where you're like "but I said X...It was right here!" For me, if something is important enough to win/lose a debate, you should spend a significant amount of time there, connect and make sure your claim is *completely* and *thoughtfully* warranted.
6. All debates have technical mistakes, but not all technical mistakes are equal or irreversible. Given those assumptions, the best rebuttals recognize flaws and make “even if” statements/explain why losing an argument does not mean they lose the debate. I think debaters fold too often on mistakes. Just because you dropped a theory argument doesn’t mean you cannot cross-apply an argument from another theory argument, politics or T to win.
7. I think offense-defense is a poor way to view debates as it can be an overly rigid while most issues are relative. Consequently I’m a decent judge for “terminal” defense and reasonability. Likewise, I’m not the best judge for arguments like CP Yes/No links to politics.
8. Favorite Critics (Not 100% match in ideology, ask if interested): Leah Moczulski, Eric Morris, Will Mosley-Jensen, David Cram Helwich, Jonathan Paul, and David Heidt. They all work hard judging debates, care about their role as educators, and offer detailed feedback every round. That's what I will try to do in the round.
9. Things people don't do enough:
a) Start with the title for their 1NC offcase positions (i.e. first off states)
b) Give links labels (i.e our "docket crowdout link" or "our bipart link"
c) Explain what their plan actually does - For instance (in college), what legal rights and/or duties do you vest? Who does it? What is the mechanism? What, specifically, is covered? I've decided that if the aff is vague to an egregious extent, I'll be super easy on the negative with DA links and CP competition. Aff vagueness is also a link to circumvention and explains why fiat doesn't solve definitional non-compliance. I will say, I'd rather lacking aff clarity (e.g. when aff's include resolutional language in their plan and say "plan text in a vacuum") be resolved by PICs/topic DAs than by T. I don't think that the negative gets to fully define the plan or have some weird positional competition vision for T even if I think 2As frequently dance around what they do. Punish affs for ambiguity and lazy plan writing for the purposes of T on substance!
d) Call out new arguments - I don't have sympathy if you *wish* you said no impact in the 2AC. There are times that I wish it existed, but there isn't and can't be a 3AC. I will say that for mostly pragmatic reasons, I'm not to the point of reviewing every new 1AR argument. I'll protect the 2NR for the 2AR, but you have to do the work before that.
10. Random (likely to change) topic thoughts:
a) Nearest person/advantage CPs seem very scary - excited to see some aff innovation on what offense they generate versus these CPs - please don't just go for the anthro K against them...
b) Be careful your UQ CP doesn't overwhelm the link to your DA. Sometimes the neg goes a bit too far.
c) As always, I think process debates are more strategic/interesting - I also frequently find aff substantive defenses of their plan on these grounds lacking
d) If I'm being totally honest, AI/advanced tech stuff has always confused me a bit - added explanation here will be greatly appreciated and rewarded
Planless affirmatives – The affirmative would ideally have a plan that defends action by the United States federal government (Least important). The affirmative should have a direct tie to the topic. In the context of the college resolution, this means you would have a defense of vesting legal rights/duties (Pretty important). The affirmative MUST defend the implementation of said "plan" - whatever it is (MOST important). While I will NOT immediately vote negative on T or “Framework” as a procedural issue, if you don’t defend instrumental implementation of a topical plan *rooted in the resolutional question*, you will be in a tough spot. I’m especially good for T/Framework if the affirmative dodges case turns and debates over the question if presidential restrictions are good or bad. In particular, I am persuaded by arguments about why these affirmatives are unpredictable, under-limit the topic, and create a bad heuristic for problem-solving. Short version is that you can do you and there is always a chance I’ll vote for you, but I’m probably not an ordinal one for teams that don’t want to engage the resolutional question.
I do want to say that at tournaments with relaxed prefs, I will do my absolute best to keep an open mind about these assumptions. That shouldn't be read as "Thur says he's open to our planless aff - let's move him up to push down 'policy' people." It should be read as if I come up at one of these tournaments, you might as well do what you're most comfortable with/what you've practiced the most instead of over-adapting.
Critiques—Honestly, just read the first point in the "meta issues" section. I understand neolib/deterrence/security pretty well because they were a big part of my major. If you want to push against my confusion on the K (as a concept), you need to have specific links to the plan’s actions, authors, or representations. Again, trying to be honest, if you're itching to say Baudrillard, Bataille, Deleuze, death good, etc., I'm not your guy. On framework, the affirmative will almost surely be able to weigh their 1AC (unless they totally airball), and I'm pretty hesitant to place reps/scholarship/epistemology before material reality. One other thing - substitute out buzzwords and tags for explanation. Merely saying "libidinal economy" or "structural antagonism" without some evidence and explanation isn't a win condition.
In terms of being affirmative against these arguments, I think that too often teams lose sight of the easy ballots and/or tricks. The 1AR and 2AR need to “un-checklist” those arguments. In terms of disproving the critique, I think I’m pretty good for alternative fails/case outweighs or the permutation with a defense of pragmatism or reformism. Of those 2 - I'm best for your alt does nothing...we have an aff...
Case- I’m a huge fan. With that, I think that it’s very helpful for the neg (obviously?). I believe that no matter what argument you plan to go for, (excluding T/theory) case should be in some part of the 2nr. In the context of the critique, you can use case arguments to prove that the threats of the 1AC are flawed or constructed, that there are alternative causes to the affirmative that only the alternative solves, or that the impacts of the affirmative are miniscule and the K outweighs. For CPs, even if you lose a solvency deficit, you can still win because the net benefit outweighs the defended affirmative. Going for case defense to the advantage that you think the CP solves the least forces me to drop you twice as I have to decide the CP doesn’t solve AND that the case impact outweighs your net-benefit. That seems like a pretty good spot to be in.
CP- My favorite ones are specific to the 1AC with case turns as net benefits. Aside from that, I think that I am more inclined than most to vote aff on the perm when there is a trivial/mitigated net benefit vs. a smallish solvency deficit, but in the end I would hope you would tell me what to value first. I had a big section written up on theory, and I decided it's too round-dependent to list out. I still think that more than 2 conditional positions is SUPER risky, functional > textual competition, competition is dictated by mandates and not outcomes (i.e. CPs that are designed to spur follow-on are very strategic), judge kick is good, consult/condition/delay/threaten generally suck, and interpretations matter A LOT.
Topicality- People have started flagging violations based on things not in the plan (solvency lines, advocate considerations, aff tags, 2ac arguments, etc.). This is a bad way to understand T debates. The affirmative defines the plan, positional competition is bad, plan text in a vacuum makes sense, and the way to beat teams that include resolutional language in the plan is on PICs not T.
I default to reasonability, but I can be convinced that Competing Interpretations is a decent model. The negative does not need actual abuse, but they do need to win why their potential abuse is likely as opposed to just theoretical. That is, I'll be less persuaded by a 25-item case list than a really good explanation of a few devastating new affirmatives they allow. If I were to pick only one standard to go for, it would be predictable limits. They shape all pre-round research that guides in-round clash and ensure that debates are dialogues instead of monologues. Finally, as a framing point, I generally think bigger topics = better.
They're totally broken. I'll try to follow the below scale based on where points have been somewhat recently.
29.3 to 29.6 – Speaker Award - 1 to 10
29.1 to 29.2 – Speaker Award - 11 to 25
28.8 to 29 – Should break/Have a chance
28.5 to 28.7 – Outside change at breaking to .500
28.1 to 28.4 – Not breaking, sub-.500
27 to 28 – Keep working
Below 26 – Something said/done warranting a post-round conversation with coaches
Debated at Liberty for four years, now working for GMU.
Yes I want to be on the email chain.
If you have any questions feel free to email me email@example.com
This is subject to updates.
The things you probably care about
Condo is probably good.
All theory other than condo is probably a reason to reject the argument not the team.
Pretty much everything is up for debate (even what I just said about condo and theory), that is the point of debate as an activity. If someone makes a bad argument, it should be easy to beat. (This is not an excuse to be violent in round but is in reference to silly impact turns and terrible ptx DA's).
I am just not good for the neg going for T against a policy aff.
If equally debated out I lean probably about 60/40 in favor of the aff in framework debates.
Kritiks: most of my experience and knowledge consists of cap and random philosophers as a philosophy major. Identity based arguments I have much less knowledge about the particulars of your theory. Slow down a little and clearly explain what I am voting for (or against) and you will get my ballot.
CP's are good and should have a clear net benefit. If it links to the supposed net benefit the aff has to point that out.
Technical debate is important. I will not vote on arguments unless they are made by the debaters themselves.
Evidence: it's very important and I give a lot of weight to the evidence read. If you read bad or non-specific evidence it will be an uphill battle to get me to vote for something. I also want to add that a card that states something without a warrant is a bad card and I will not find it persuasive. Additionally, any cards that are specifically citing the other teams evidence and are directly responding to it are grounds for speaker points boosts. I believe that the burden for quality evidence in debate has dropped to horrendous levels and I would like to give recognition where I can for quality research being done.
Specific cards >>>> Tangentially relevant cards
Long super warranted cards>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Short cards that say nothing or merely a claim
2NC CP out of an impact turn = :(((((((((((
Nothing would make me happier, and consequently nothing makes me more sad than when it does not occur, is for teams to get into ethical debates. So often I hear debates in which a team says extinction outweighs or util which gets responded to with a reason why util is bad. There is then often no counter-ethical frame that is provided. Ethics are my favorite area of philosophy and there are so many different theories I would love to see teams explore. Egoism, divine command theory, deontology, virtue ethics, and more that are fascinating and can provide a way for me to determine whether the aff is ethical or not. But alas, I know I am likely in for many more debates that don't go beyond util good/bad. If there is not counter ethical frame given in some debates this will result in me just defaulting to util, keep this in mind.
I've judged a few of these rounds over the years through some regional formats. I have no real preferences, win your arguments and I'll vote for you.
I am a very flow centric judge. If you don't make an argument throughout the debate I will not vote on it. I would like there to be an email chain so I am able to read through your evidence. Makes everything more efficient so we don't have to wait forever for everyone to ask to see cards. You should compare evidence.