National Debate Coaches Association National Championships
2023 — Rolling Hills Estates, US
Policy Debate Paradigm ListAll Paradigms: Show Hide
Judging Philosophy - Tim Alderete -The Meadows School - firstname.lastname@example.org
I've tried to make this much shorter:
-It's either Aff prep or Neg prep - No one preps for free.
- Text, from a debater I just judged to their coach, who is a friend of mine: “What is your friend on? He started my timer early because I took a deep breath.” Me: I'm gonna put that in my Paradigm!
-I do want to be on the email chain, but I won't be reading along with your speech doc - email@example.com
-I am cantankerous about Prep time - for me, it ends when you hit Send on the Email.
-The majority of my decisions will revolve around a lack of flowing or line by line structure.
-I will vote for most any coherent argument. A "coherent" argument must be one that I can defend to the team or debater who lost. Many think this makes me interventionist, but they don't pref me anyway.
-I not the best judge for bad arguments, the Politics Disad, or dumb theory. I will try to take them as seriously as you do, but everyone has their limits. (For example, I have never voted for disclosure theory, because I have never heard an intelligent argument defending it.)
-I will not vote for Offensive arguments. The "Contact Information Disclosure" argument is dangerous and unethical because it abets online predators. It will receive a loss and minimum points.
-I don't give great speaker points. To compensate, if you show me decent flows you can get up to an extra point. Please do this Before I enter the ballot.
-I "can handle" your "speed" and I will only call "Clearer" once or twice if you are unclear.
-I have judged and coached a lot of LD rounds – I like philosophical arguments more than you may expect.
-I have judged and coached a lot of Policy rounds – I tend to think like a Policy debater.
HS Email Chain: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
College Email Chain: firstname.lastname@example.org
Current School Affiliations: DOF @ NoBro (2016-), Assistant Coach @ Northwestern (2023-)
Previous School Affiliations: Harvard (2022-2023), Emory (2019-2022), James Madison University (2011-2016), Broad Run High School (2014-2016), Thomas Jefferson High School (2012-2014), Columbia University (2007-2011), Monta Vista High School (2003-2007)
I am less interested in the genre of argument chosen and more interested in its technical execution + quality of ev, with caveats.
- Debate is best when students reference and respond to arguments in the order in which they were presented.
- I will try my best to flow the debate. Easy-to-transcribe soundbytes, emphasis in sentences, and pen time is a must. I cannot flow debaters who shotgun 3 word arguments at top speed nor those who speak in delirious, winding paragraphs.
- I evaluate arguments, not character assassinations. Ad hominem is a logical fallacy. Screenshots are not ev. I have neither the authority nor resources to launch an investigation about outside behavior, coach indiscretions, and pref sheets. Debate like you are grown.
- No double wins, devolution to another game, or soliciting audience participation. First to initiate receives a L and very low speaks.
- Escalating CX unnecessarily, heckling opponents, zoom insults, etc = cringe.
- Cheating, harassment, slurs are a L, 0 speaks, and gets your coaches involved. Same for ethics violations without evidence.
- Asking for a 30 = auto 26.
- Reading cards > Not reading cards. A smart analytic can beat a bad card, but no cards anywhere lowers chances of victory.
- No evidence insertions. Debate is an oral activity.
- My speaker points are lower than the community average. I reserve 29+ to speakers I thought were exceptional. You can improve your points by debating your opponents rather than reading scripts, preparing effective cross-examinations, and reading cards that don't break my verbatim.
- "Judge kick" is not my default, and must be explicitly claimed. It can also be contested by your opponents.
- I am unsure why "new affirmative" means "blank check" for the negative. I have never understood a warrant for why it suddenly makes artificially competitive counterplans legitimate, and don't agree with the community consensus that it automatically justifies deranged conditionality. If the new affirmative is topical, it implies that the negative should have been able to anticipate it and prepare strategies. That said, the affirmative usually folds and lets the negative go bananas, so - more power to them.
- I am more amenable to negative terrorism (2NC CPs, logical CP planks without solvency advocates, word PICs, etc) than most if executed well. I do not necessarily think "counterplans must be textually and functionally competitive" is a truism. That said, I was a 2A, and am amenable to affirmative objections. I enjoy theory debates more than most, but it has been a minute since anyone has been good at debating it.
- Objections about the legitimacy of counterplans that do all of the plan are better explained through competition than theory.
- Critiques aren't counterplans. Links aren't meant to be "unique" or "to the plan" because they aren't "DAs." Private actor fiat of "movements" or "mindsets" makes it easier for the affirmative to win on the perm. Links must be paired with impacts that outweigh, turn, or bracket the case.
- Fairness is an impact for T USFG if explained right, and limits is the most persuasive internal link. Evidence-based debate seems unworkable if there’s significant asymmetries in anticipation. Affirmatives can win without a traditional plan; critiquing neg definitions and providing counter-definitions that establish a model for both sides to engage improve their win rate. “CI - discussion of topic,” “default to us,” “debate bad” and its corollary of naming debaters who used their skills for evil, and poor analogies that T is akin to drone strikes are dissuasive.
Note (this was written when I only coached/judged policy)
If you can’t beat a “bad” argument then you are a bad advocate for your cause (and you should lose).
Don't expect me to understand or apply the necessary context to certain words or catch phrases that you might use.
I will try to be fair in evaluating whatever you run. Impact calculus is important.
I think there are a number of ways debate can be done really well (my favorite thing about debate).
I prefer you do what you are best at instead of what you think is best for me. Make me adapt to you.
Tell me why your interpretation is better for debate. Do comparative impact calculus. What impacts are most important (what framework should the judge utilize when evaluating T impacts).
The more specific the links the happier I'll be. I think perms should tend towards utilizing the language of the alternative text and away from the generic "do both" or "plan and every other instance". I find a lot of my decisions usually revolve around a framework argument.
I think topical k affs with advantages that are intrinsic to a simulation of plan action are the best.
The more of the aff it includes the more skeptical I am of the CP’s legitimacy. Competition/Theory arguments are best when based on evidence (especially topic ev). I'm definitely in the "neg conditionality has gotten out of control" camp--1cp 1k probably ok, 1 CP that does the aff, 1 k with an alt that could do the aff and a word PIC definitely absolutely not legit (affs need to learn how to go for theory). Theory requires development and impact calculus.
I enjoy debaters doing what they do well. If you’re funny, be funny. If you are smart, be smart. Cordial debates are generally more enjoyable. Context matters. If two aggressive teams have a heated rivalry then it’s going to produce an aggressive debate---I get that. Unnecessary aggression/rudeness/etc will result in lower points.
If you have any questions feel free to ask.
I debated for Niles West and Michigan State, and I currently teach and coach for Montgomery Bell Academy.
Put me on the email chain: email@example.com
Here is how you can make me want to give you a ballot + good speaks:
1. Make the debate comfortable and fun. I am not a good judge for you if you get super aggressive, snarky, or rude in round. I am a teacher - treat your partner and opponents the way you'd treat your classmates.
2. Do not "cut corners" in your prep - I get very sad when I see incomplete DAs, incoherent T arguments, evidence so un-highlighted it doesn't say anything, etc, deployed for the purpose of winning through out-spreading instead of out-debating. I generally don't think teams should be reading more than 6 off.
3. Do not forget you are in a public speaking activity. I am not evaluating the debate based off your speech doc. Unfortunately, this is a problem that online debate has exacerbated through normalizing a lack of clarity. I am a very fast writer and strong flow, so if I am unable to write down your arguments, then I'm not going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you made them.
3a. Please stop offering or asking for marked docs unless it is absolutely necessary. Skipping over some cards in a doc is not a reason to request/send a marked doc. This practice disincentives flowing speeches. I will consider docking speaker points from those who ask if I think it is unnecessary. Asking about what arguments your opponent did or didn't make counts as CX.
4. Do not abuse tag-team CX in either asking or answering questions.
5. This should be obvious, but no stealing prep. Once prep stops, everyone needs to have their hands and eyes off their computers, except for the one sending the email. I will call you out on this publicly and dock your speaks for it if you do it. There was no way to enforce this online, but now that we're in person, it's obvious.
Sorry if that all came across as grumpy. If you can do all of those things, then I'm happy and I look forward to judging you. I think that policy debate is good and that fairness/clash/limits are all things which matter. I think debates should not exclude critical perspectives and we should seek to do what best improves the activity overall.
Don't read arguments advocating for death, human extinction, or nuclear war in front of me - I won't vote for them.
Bakersfield High School class of 2017
Cal State Fullerton Class of 2021
2x NDT Qualifier
NDT Quarterfinalist - 2021
CEDA Semifinalist - 2021
Damien HS Assistant Debate Coach Fall 2022-Present
Cal State Fullerton Assistant Debate Coach Fall 2021-Present
Previously Coached by: Lee Thach, LaToya Green, Shanara Reid-Brinkley, Max Bugrov, Anthony Joseph, and Travis Cochran
If there is an email chain I would like to be on it: (if you could put both of these emails on the email chain)
College: firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
HS: firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
If you have any questions feel free to email me
Dont call me judge I feel weird about it, feel free to call me Jared
I did four years of policy debate in high school mostly debating on a regional circuit and did not compete nationally till my junior and senior year, debated at Cal State Fullerton (2017-2021)
New for 2022-2023:
NATO Rounds Judged: 61 (end of prelims TOC)
Legal Personhood: 4
Mostly going to be in the HS scene this year, my senior year topic was alliances and I am coaching for Damien this year so I have a broad range of topic knowledge from both debating and coaching as well that being said my topic knowledge is includes a wide range of both policy and K so pref me how you see fit.
I have gotten increasingly irritated of Ks not making a specific link because most 1NC cards yall read are ok and most 2NCs don't know how to make a link arg, so I have been defaulting aff more on a link level vs the K
As I am a full year removed from debating I have increasingly voted for fw more and more often and for me its just because the 2AC doesn't have the best answers and 1ARs miss important pieces of offense that are difficult to come back from, and most of the ground and clash args to me have some of the time just became true.
K: Love the K, this is where i spent more of the time in my debate and now coaching career, I think I have an understanding of generally every K, in college, I mostly read Afro-Pessimism/Gillespie, but other areas of literature I am familiar with cap, cybernetics, baudrillard, psychoanalysis, Moten/Afro-Optimism, Afro-Futurism, arguments in queer and gender studies, whatever the K is I should have somewhat a basic understanding of it. I think that to sufficiently win the K, I often think that it is won and lost on the link debate, because smart 2Ns that rehiglight 1AC cards and use their link to impact turn of internal link turn the aff will 9/10 win my ballot. Most def uping your speaker points if you rehighlight the other teams cards.
For Critical Affirmatives: I like them, in college and in high school I have read them if you're going to read them though I need a clear understanding of the method that is the most important to me. I find that most K affs lose their method throughout the debate and most times I usually end up voting on presumption because I am not sure what the aff does. I think as ive gotten older this is really true and I really hate it when the aff doesn't have any tangible examples of what their method looks like to hang my hat on which is how i feel that alt/aff methods are won.
K affs VS Framework: I think that the aff in these debates always needs to have a role of the negative, because a lot of you K affs out their solve all of these things and its written really well but you say something most times that is non-controversal and that gets you in trouble which means its tough for you to win a fw debate when there is no role for the negative. In terms of like counter interp vs impact turn style of 2AC vs fw I dont really have a preference but i think you at some point need to have a decent counter interp to solve your impact turns to fw. If you go for the like w/m kind of business i think you can def win this but i think fw teams are prepared for this debate more than the impact turn debate
Plan Based Affirmatives: For teams in HS, some of you are not reading a different aff against K teams and I think you should, it puts you in a good place to beat the K, I have seen some teams do it on the water topic but for the most part you are just reading your big stick policy aff against K teams. I enjoy judging the heg good aff vs 7 off debate, policy aff you do you.
Framework: Yall need to go for what is the role of the negative (RotN) to me I think this is more persuasive than like any type of fairness argument because really RotN is the internal link to any impact argument you are going to make and it means that all of their offense that they are going to go for about their education being better and why your model is bad its all internal link turned by making the arg that they dont have a role for the negative so their revolutionary testing doesnt matter with out a RotN
DA: 1NR on disads have become card dumps and i hate it, explanation is better than just reading a ton of cards like yes read your uq cards on politics but use your link evidence to have a deep explanation of the link. The more specific the disad the better which is not to say i hate the politics disad brovero was my lab leader and drilled me on the ptx disad but I do enjoy the politics throwdown
CP: kind of the same notes for disads the more specific the better, planks are not conditional, condo most of the times is probably good, unless is like 4 or more
1. Clash of Civs are my favorite type of debates.
2. I will vote on death good
3. Counterplan should not have conditional planks -theory debates are good when people are not just reading blocks - that being said - theory cheap shots are not always persuasive to me but given they are warranted and isolate a clear violation then it means you probably win the debate
4. Who controls uniqueness - that come 1st
5. on T most times default to reasonability
6. Clash of Civs - (K vs FW) - These are fun debates, 2ACs need the standard meta DAs to policy making and policy debate of course counter interpretations and other specific offense vs their standards. FW teams yall always have these long overviews at the top of the 2NC which I do enjoy but yall need to do more work on the line by line in some of these debates because simply cross-applying from the overview does not answer the 2ACs args.
7. No plan no perm is not an argument
8. FW teams need a TVA - this is not necessary but affs need to have some type of framing question on the TVA
9. Speaker Points: I try to stay in the 28-29.9 range, better debate obviously better speaker points.
Ideal 2NR strategies
1. Topic K Generic
2. Politics Process CP
3. Impact Trun all advantages
4. PIC w/ internal net beneift
5. Topic T argument
Rounds Judged: 6
Been judging some LD recently just, a lot of the stuff still applies from above here are some more specific stuff - I was a K debater so take that as you will
1 - Larp/K
2. K affs
4-5. I do not like tricks or Phil
Paradigm Last Updated – Spring 2022
I have 8 years of policy debate experience and 6+ years of coaching experience – I debated 4 years in high school (2014-2018), and 4 years at the University of Kansas (2018-2021).
I am currently coaching for Shawnee Mission South, New Trier, and the University of Kansas.
Put me on the email chain :)
Judge instruction, above all else, is super important for me – I think this looks differently depending on your style of debate. Generally, I think clear instruction in the rebuttals about where you want me to focus my attention and how you want me to filter offense is a must. For policy teams I think this is more about link and impact framing, and for more critical teams I think this is about considering the judge’s relationships to your theory/performance and being specific about their role in the debate.
I am flexible and can judge just about anything. I debated more critically, but read what you're most comfortable with. I will approach every judging opportunity with an open mind and provide feedback that makes sense to you given your strategy.
I care about evidence quality to the extent that I believe in ethically cut evidence, but I think evidence can come in many forms. I won’t read evidence after a debate unless there is an egregious discrepancy over it, or I've been instructed to do so. I think debaters should be able to explain their evidence well enough that I shouldn’t have to read it, so if I'm reading evidence then you haven't done your job to know the literature and will probably receive more judge intervention from me. That being said, I understand that in policy debate reading evidence has become a large part of judging etc, because I not eve cutting politics updates etc be clear about why I am reading ev/ what I should be looking for etc.
Please know I am more than comfortable“clearing” you. Disclosure is good and should be reciprocated. Clipping/cutting cards out of context is academic malpractice and will result in a loss.
Truth over Tech -OR- Tech over Truth
For the most part, I am tech over truth, but if both teams are ahead on technical portions of the debate, I will probably use truth to break the tie.
I think debates about debate are valuable and provide a space for confrontation over a number of debate's disparities/conflicts. A strong defense of your model and a set of specific net-benefits is important. Sure, debate is a game, education is almost always a tiebreaker. Fairness is a fake impact -- go for it I guess but I find it rare nowadays that people actually go for it. I think impact-turning framework is always a viable option. I think both sides should also clearly understand their relationship to the ballot and what the debate is supposed to resolve. At the end of the debate, I should be able to explain the model I voted for and why I thought it was better for debate. Any self-deemed prior questions should be framed as such. All of that is to say there is nothing you can do in this debate that I haven't probably seen so do whatever you think will win you the debate.
Performance + K Affirmatives
Judge instruction and strong articulation of your relationship to the ballot is necessary. At the end of the debate, I shouldn't be left feeling that the performative aspects of the strategy were useless/disjointed from debate and your chosen literature base.
I filter a lot of what I have read through my own experience both in and out of academia. I think it’s important for debaters to also consider their identity/experience in the context of your/their argument. I would avoid relying too much on jargon because I think it’s important to make the conversations that Kritiks provide accessible. I have read/researched enough to say I can evaluate just about anything, but don't use that as an excuse to be vague or assume that I'll do the work for you. At the end of the debate, there should be a clear link to the AFF, and an explanation of how your alternative solves the links -- too many people try to kick the alt and I don't get it. Links to the AFF’s performance, subject formation, and scholarship are fair game. I don’t want to say I am 100% opposed to judging kicking alts for people, but I won’t be happy about it and doubt that it will work out for you. If you wanna kick it, then just do it yourself... but again I don't get it.
Any other questions, just ask -- at this point people should know what to expect from me and feel comfortable reaching out.
Goodluck and have fun!
- I debated for Niles West in high school and West Georgia in college. Went to the TOC and NDT if that’s the kind of thing that matters to you.
- BA in Philosophy.
- Currently coaching at Niles West.
- Yes, I want to be on the email chain: firstname.lastname@example.org
Top level things:
- If you engage in offensive acts (think racism, sexism, homophobia, etc.), you will lose automatically and will be awarded whatever the minimum speaker points offered at that particular tournament is.
- If you make it so that the tags in your document maps are not navigable by taking the "tag" format off of them, I will actively dock your speaker points.
- Quality of argument means a lot to me. I am willing to hold my nose and vote for bad arguments if they're better debated but my threshold for answering those bad arguments is pretty low.
- I’m extremely hesitant to vote on arguments about things that have happened outside of a debate or in previous debates. I can only be sure of what has happened in this particular debate and anything else is non-falsifiable.
- Absolutely no ties and the first team that asks for one will lose my ballot.
- Soliciting any outside assistance during a round will lose my ballot.
- Lack of clarity. Clarity > speed 100% of the time.
- The 1AC not being sent out by the time the debate is supposed to start.
- Email-sending related failures.
- Dead time.
- Stealing prep.
- Answering arguments in an order other than the one presented by the other team.
- Asserting things are dropped when they aren't.
- Asking the other team to send you a marked doc when they marked 1-3 cards.
- Marking almost every card in the doc.
- Disappearing after the round.
- Quoting my paradigm in your speeches.
- If you are caught clipping you will receive a loss and the lowest possible points.
- If you make an ethics challenge in a debate in front of me, you must stake the debate on it. If you make that challenge and are incorrect or cannot prove your claim, you will lose and be granted the lowest possible points. If you are proven to have committed an ethics violation, you will lose and be granted the lowest possible points.
- If you use sexually explicit language or engage in sexually explicit performances in high school debates, you should strike me.
- Yes, I’m fine with tag-team cx. But dominating your partner’s cx will result in lower points for both of you.
- Questions like "what cards did you read?" are cross-x questions, and I will run the timer accordingly.
- If you fail to ask the status of the off, I will be less inclined to vote for condo.
- If the 1NC responds that "every DA is a NB to every CP" when asked about net benefits in the 1NC even if it makes no sense, I think the 1AR gets a lot of leeway to explain a 2AC "links to the net benefit argument" on any CP as it relates to the DAs.
Inserting evidence or rehighlightings into the debate:
- I won't evaluate it unless you actually read the parts that you are inserting into the debate. If it's like a chart or a map or something like that, that's fine, I don't expect you to literally read that, but if you're rehighlighting some of the other team's evidence, you need to actually read the rehighlighting.
- I’m fine with plan or planless affirmatives. However, I believe all affirmatives should advocate for/defend something. What that something entails is up for debate, but I’m hesitant to vote for affirmatives that defend absolutely nothing.
- I default to competing interpretations unless told otherwise.
- The most important thing for me in T debates is an in-depth explanation of the types of affs your interp would include/exclude and the impact that the inclusion/exclusion would have on debate.
- 5 second ASPEC shells/the like have become nonstarters for me. If I reasonably think the other team could have missed the argument because I didn't think it was a clear argument, I think they probably get new answers. If you drop it twice, that's on you.
- For me counterplans are more about competition than theory. While I tend to lean more neg on questions of CP theory, I lean aff on a lot of questions of competition, especially in the cases of CPs that compete on the certainty of the plan, normal means cps, and agent cps.
- If you're reading a DA that isn't just a case turn, it should go on its own sheet. Failure to do so is super annoying because people end up extending/answering arguments on flows in different orders.
- The more specific the link the better. Even if your cards aren’t that specific, applying your evidence to the specifics of the affirmative through nuanced analysis is always preferable to a generic link extension.
- ‘You link you lose’ strategies are not my favorite. I’m willing to vote on them if the other team fails to respond properly, but I’m very sympathetic to aff arguments about it being a bad model for debate.
- I find many framework debates end up being two ships passing in the night. Line by line answers to the other team's framework standards goes a long way in helping win framework in front of me.
- Almost all theory arguments are reasons to reject the argument, condo is usually the only exception.
- Conditionality is often good. It can be not. I have found myself to be increasingly aff leaning on extreme conditionality (think many plank cps where all of the planks are conditional + 4-5 more conditional options).
- Tell me what my role is on the theory debate - am I determining in-round abuse or am I setting a precedent for the community?
- I find impacts about debatability, clash, and iterative testing to be very persuasive.
- I am not really persuaded by fairness impacts, but will vote on it if mishandled.
- I am not really persuaded by impacts about skills/the ability for debate to change the world if we read plans - I think these are not very strategic and easily impact turned by the aff.
- I am pretty sympathetic to negative presumption arguments because I often think the aff has not forwarded an explanation for what the aff does to resolve the impacts they've described.
- I think when teams are aff against T-USfg in front of me, offense that explains why I should prefer your interp is more persuasive than just impact turns.
- I don't think debate is roleplaying.
Associate Director of Debate @ Greenhill
Still helping KU in my free time
Please add me to the email chain: email@example.com
I love debate and I will do my absolute best to make a decision that makes sense and give a helpful RFD.
Competing interpretations are easier to evaluate than reasonability. You need to explain to me how we determine what is reasonable if you are going for reasonability.
Having said that if your intep is so obscure that there isn't a logical CI to it, perhaps it is not a good interpretation.
T debates this year (water topic) have gotten too impact heavy for their own good. I've judged a number of rounds with long overviews about how hard it is to be negative that never get to explaining what affirmatives would be topical under their interp or why the aff interp links to a limits DA and that's hard for me because I think much more about the latter when I think about topicality.
Affirmatives should be about the topic. I will be fairly sympathetic to topicality arguments if I do not know what the aff means re: the topic after the 1AC.
I think teams are meming a bit on both sides of this debate. Phrases like "third and fourth level testing" and "rev v rev debates are better" are kind of meaningless absent robust explanation. Fairness is an impact that I will vote on. Like any other impact, it needs to be explained and compared to the other team's impact. I have also voted on arguments about ethics, education, and pedagogy. I will try my best to decide who wins an impact and which impact matters more based on the debate that happens.
I do not think the neg has to win a TVA to win topicality; it can be helpful if it happens to make a lot of sense but a forced TVA is generally a waste of time.
If the aff is going for an impact turn about debate, it would be helpful to have a CI that solves that impact.
I would love to see you go for a disad and case in the 2NR. I do not find it persuasive when an affirmative team's only answer to a DA is impact framing. Impact framing can be important but it is one of a number of arguments that should be made.
I am aware the DA's aren't all great lately. I don't think that's a reason to give up on them. It just means you need a CP or really good case arguments.
I really enjoy an old-fashioned k vs the aff debate. I think there are lots of interesting nuances available for the neg and the aff in this type of debate. Here are some specific thoughts that might be helpful when constructing your strategy:
1. Links of omission are not links. Links of “commission” will take a lot of explaining.
2. Debating the case matters unless there is a compelling framework argument for why I should not evaluate the case.
3. If you are reading a critique that pulls from a variety of literature bases, make sure I understand how they all tie to together. I am persuaded by aff arguments about how it's very difficult to answer the foundation of multiple bodies of critical literature because they often have different ontological, epistemological, psychoanalytic, etc assumptions. Also, how does one alt solve all of that??
4. Aff v. K: I have noticed affirmative teams saying "it's bad to die twice" on k's and I have no idea what that means. Aff framework arguments tend to be a statement that is said in the 2AC and repeated in the 1AR and 2AR - if you want fw to influence how I vote, you need to do more than this. Explain how it implicates how I assess the link and/or alternative solvency.
5. When ontology is relevant - I feel like these debates have devolved into lists of things (both sides do this) and that's tough because what if the things on the list don't resonate?
Generic counterplans are necessary and good. I think specific counterplans are even better. Counterplans that read evidence from the 1AC or an aff author - excellent! I don't have patience for overly convoluted counterplans supported by barely highlighted ev.
I do not subscribe to (often camp-driven) groupthink about which cp's "definitely solve" which aff's. I strongly disagree with this approach to debate and will think through the arguments on both sides of the debate because that is what debate is about.
Solvency deficits are a thing and will be accounted for and weighed along with the risk of a DA, the size of the DA impact, the size of the solvency deficit, and other relevant factors. If you are fiating through solvency deficits you should come prepared with a theoretical justification for that.
I am generally neg leaning on cp theory but if you want to make an argument about why a certain cp is illegitimate (cough, con con) I will do my best to objectively evaluate that argument.
Some people think it is auto-true that politics disads and certain cp's are terrible for debate. I don't agree with that. I think there are benefits/drawbacks to most arguments. This matters for framework debates. A plan-less aff saying "their model results in politics DA's which is obviously the worst" will not persuade absent a warrant for that claim.
Love a good case debate. It's super under-utilized. I think it's really impressive when a 2N knows more about the aff evidence than the aff does.
Please don't be nasty to each other; don't be surprised if I interrupt you if you are.
I don't flow the 1AC and 1NC because I am reading your evidence. I have to do this because if I don't I won't get to read the evidence before decision time in a close debate.
If the debate is happening later than 9PM you might consider slowing down and avoiding especially complicated arguments.
There was once a team who lost an "ethics challenge" because they capitalized a letter in a 1AC that had not been capitalized in the previous version of the 1AC -- that is not actually an ethics challenge. If you make a frivolous or convoluted ethics challenge in a debate that I judge I will ask you to move on and be annoyed for the rest of the round. Legitimate ethics challenges exist and should/will be taken seriously but ethics challenges are not something we should play fast and loose with.
For debating online:
-If you think clarity could even possibly be an issue, slow down a ton. More than ever clarity and quality are more important than quantity.
-If my camera is off, I am not there, I am not flowing your speech, I probably can't even hear you. If you give the 1AR and I'm not there, there is not a whole lot I can do for you.
I've coached LASA since 2005. I judge ~100 debates per season on the high school circuit.
If there’s an email chain, please add me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’re using a flash drive, prep stops when you pull the flash drive out of your computer. If you’re using an email chain, I won’t count attaching and emailing as prep time. Please do not steal prep.
If you have little time before the debate, here’s all you need to know: do what you do best. I try to be as unbiased as possible and I will defer to your analysis. As long as you are clear, go as fast as you want.
Most judges give appalling decisions. Here's where I will try to be better than them:
- They intervene, even when they claim they won't. Perhaps "tech over truth" doesn't mean what it used to. I will attempt to adjudicate and reach a decision purely on only the words you say. If that's insufficient to reach a decision either way--and it often isn't--I will add the minimum work necessary to come to a decision. The more work I have to do, the wider the range of uncertainty for you and the lower your speaks go.
- They aren't listening carefully. They're mentally checked out, flowing off the speech doc, distracted by social media, or have half their headphones off and are taking selfies during the 1AR. I will attempt to flow every single detail of your speeches. I will probably take notes during CX if I think it could affect my decision. If you worked hard on debate, you deserve a judge who works hard as well.
- They give poorly-reasoned decisions that rely on gut instincts and ignore arguments made in the 2NR/2AR. I will probably take my sweet time making and writing my decision. I will try to be as thorough and transparent as possible. If I intervene anywhere, I will explain why I had to intervene and how you could've prevented that intervention. If I didn't catch or evaluate an argument, I will explain why you under-explained or failed to extend it. I will try to anticipate your questions and preemptively answer them in my decision.
- They reconstruct the debate and try to find the most creative and convoluted path to a ballot. I guess they're trying to prove they're smart? These decisions are detestable because they take the debate away from the hands of the debaters. If there are multiple paths to victory for both teams, I will take what I think is the shortest path and explain why I think it's the shortest path, and you can influence my decision by explaining why you control the shortest path. But, I'm not going to use my decision to attempt to prove I'm more clever than the participants of the debate.
- I’m not a professional debate coach or even a teacher. I work as a finance analyst in the IT sector and I volunteer as a debate coach on evenings and weekends. I don’t teach at debate camp and my topic knowledge comes primarily from judging debates. My finance background means that, when left to my own devices, I err towards precision, logic, data, and concrete examples. However, I can be convinced otherwise in any particular debate, especially when it’s not challenged by the other team.
- Tech over truth in most instances. I will stick to my flow and minimize intervention as much as possible. I firmly believe that debates should be left to the debaters. I rarely make facial expressions because I don’t want my personal reactions to affect how a debate plays out. I will maintain a flow, even if you ask me not to. However, tech over truth has its limits. An argument must have sufficient explanation for it to matter to me, even if it’s dropped. You need a warrant and impact, not just a claim.
- Evidence comparison is under-utilized and is very important to me in close debates. I often call for evidence, but I’m much more likely to call for a card if it’s extended by author or cite.
- I don’t judge or coach at the college level, which means I’m usually a year or two behind the latest argument trends that are first broken in college and eventually trickle down to high school. If you’re reading something that’s close to the cutting edge of debate arguments, you’ll need to explain it clearly. This doesn’t mean I don’t want to hear new arguments. On the contrary, a big reason why I continue coaching debate is because I enjoy listening to and learning about new arguments that challenge my existing ways of thinking.
- Please mark your own cards. No one is marking them for you.
- If I feel that you are deliberately evading answering a question or have straight up lied, and the question is important to the outcome of the debate, I will stop the timer and ask you to answer the question. Example: if you read condo bad, the neg asks in CX whether you read condo bad, and you say no, I’ll ask if you want me to cross-out condo on my flow.
- Don't over-adapt to me in these debates. If you are most comfortable going for procedural fairness, do that. If you like going for advocacy skills, you do you. Like any other debate, framework debates hinge on impact calculus and comparison.
- When I vote neg, it’s usually because the aff team missed the boat on topical version, has made insufficient inroads into the neg’s limits disad, and/or is winning some exclusion disad but is not doing comparative impact calculus against the neg’s offense. The neg win rate goes up if the 2NR can turn or access the aff's primary impact (e.g. clash and argument testing is vital to ethical subject formation).
- When I vote aff, it’s usually because the 2NR is disorganized and goes for too many different impacts, there’s no topical version or other way to access the aff’s offense, and/or concedes an exclusion disad that is then impacted out by the 2AR. Without a credible counter-interpretation that the aff meets and that establishes some sufficient limits on the scope of debates, I lean negative.
- Over the years, “tech over truth” has led me to vote neg on some untruthful T violations. If you’re neg and you’ve done a lot of research and are ready to throw down on a very technical and carded T debate, I’m a good judge for you.
- I'm a stickler for the quality of a definition, especially if it's from a source that's contextual to the topic, has some intent to define, is exclusive and not just inclusive, etc.
- Reasonability is a debate about the aff’s counter-interpretation, not their aff. The size of the link to the limits disad usually determines how sympathetic I am towards this argument, i.e. if the link is small, then I’m more likely to conclude the aff’s C/I is reasonable even without other aff offense.
- The kritik teams I've judged that have earned the highest speaker points give highly organized and structured speeches, are disciplined in line-by-line debating, and emphasize key moments in their speeches.
- Just like most judges, the more case-specific your link and the more comprehensive your alternative explanation, the more I’ll be persuaded by your kritik.
- I greatly prefer the 2NC structure where you have a short (or no) overview and do as much of your explanation on the line-by-line as possible. If your overview is 6 minutes, you make blippy cross-applications on the line-by-line, and then you drop the last three 2AC cards, I’m going to give the 1AR a lot of leeway on extending those concessions, even if they were somewhat implicitly answered in your overview.
- Framework debates on kritiks rarely factor into my decisions. Frequently, I conclude that there’s not a decisive win for either side here, or that it’s irrelevant because the neg is already allowing the aff to weigh their impacts. Usually, I find myself somewhere in the middle: the neg always has the right to read kritiks, but the aff should have the right to access their advantages. Kritiks that moot the entire 1AC are a tough sell.
- I’m not a good judge for “role of the ballot” arguments, as I usually find these to be self-serving for the team making them. I’m also not a good judge for “competing methods means the aff doesn’t have a right to a perm”. I think the aff always has a right to a perm, but the question is whether the perm is legitimate and desirable, which is a substantive issue to be debated out, not a gatekeeping issue for me to enforce.
- I’m an OK judge for K “tricks”. A conceded root cause explanation, value to life impact, or “alt solves the aff” claim is effective if it’s sufficiently explained. The floating PIK needs to be clearly made in the 2NC for me to evaluate it. If your K strategy hinges on hiding a floating PIK and suddenly busting it out in the 2NR, I’m not a good judge for you.
- Just like most judges, I prefer case-specific over generic counterplans, but we can’t always get what we want.
- I lean neg on PICs. I lean aff on international fiat, 50 state fiat, condition, and consult. These preferences can change based on evidence or lack thereof. For example, if the neg has a state counterplan solvency advocate in the context of the aff, I’m less sympathetic to theory.
- I will not judge kick the CP unless explicitly told to do so by the 2NR, and it would not take much for the 2AR to persuade me to ignore the 2NR’s instructions on that issue.
- Presumption is in the direction of less change. If left to my own devices, I will probably conclude that most counterplans that are not explicitly PICs are a larger change than the aff.
- I’m a sucker for specific and comparative impact calculus. For example, most nuclear war impacts are probably not global nuclear war but some kind of regional scenario. I want to know why your specific regional scenario is faster and/or more probable. Reasonable impact calculus is much more persuasive to me than grandiose impact claims.
- I believe that in most cases, the link is more important for determining the direction of risk than uniqueness. The exceptions are when the uniqueness can be definitively determined rather than probabilistic.
- Zero risk is possible but difficult to prove by the aff. However, a miniscule neg risk of the disad is probably background noise.
- I actually enjoy listening to a good theory debate, but these seem to be exceedingly rare. I think I can be persuaded that many theoretical objections require punishing the team and not simply rejecting the argument, but substantial work needs to be done on why setting a precedent on that particular issue is important. You're unlikely to win that a single intrinsic permutation is a round-winning voter, even if the other team drops it, unless you are investing significant time in explaining why it should be an independent voting issue.
- I think that I lean affirmative compared to the rest of the judging community on the legitimacy of counterplans. In my mind, a counterplan that is wholly plan-inclusive (consultation, condition, delay, etc.) is theoretically questionable. The legitimacy of agent counterplans, whether domestic or international, is also contestable. I think the negative has the right to read multiple planks to a counterplan, but reading each plank conditionally is theoretically suspect.
- I usually take a long time to decide, and give lengthy decisions. LASA debaters have benefitted from the generosity of judges, coaches, and lab leaders who used their decisions to teach and trade ideas, not just pick a winner and get a paycheck. Debaters from schools with limited/no coaching, the same schools needed to prevent the decline in policy debate numbers, greatly benefit from judging feedback. I encourage you to ask questions and engage in respectful dialogue with me. However, post-round hostility will be met with hostility. I've been providing free coaching and judging since before you were birthed into the world. If I think you're being rude or condescending to me or your opponents, I will enthusiastically knock you back down to Earth.
- I don't want a card doc. If you send one, I will ignore it. Card docs are an opportunity for debaters to insert cards they didn't read, didn't extend, or re-highlight. They're also an excuse for lazy judges to compensate for a poor flow by reconstructing the debate after the fact. If your debating was disorganized and you need a card doc to return some semblance of organization, I'd rather adjudicate the disorganized debate and then tell you it was disorganized.
Affiliations: St. Mark's 2022 -> Northwestern 2026
Email Chain: mlcpolicydebate[at]gmail[dot]com and smdebatedocs[at]gmail[dot]com. Please include the tournament, round, and teams debating in the email's subject line.
-Will vote for any argument given better technical execution
-Don't steal prep
-Turn your camera on if possible
-Don't start your speech if my camera is off
-T debates are great
-Evidence quality matters a lot and reading a few high-quality cards with the intent to define/exclude is much better than spamming low-quality cards
-Biased for the negative on most counterplan theory, but the affirmative can definitely convince me otherwise
-Well-evidenced PICs are amazing
-Process counterplans are not so amazing
-Tell me to judge-kick the counterplan please
-Not too well-versed in any literature besides cap and Agamben
-Long overviews make me sad
-Taking a generic disadvantage and contextualizing it to the 1AC is strategic
-Turns case is awesome and is even better with spin
-However, that only matters if you win a substantial risk of the disadvantage
-Link uniqueness is important
K Affs/T USFG:
-If your strategy is not to defend the resolution traditionally, you should go for a counter-interp that provides the negative a benefit from negating the 1AC
-I personally think procedural fairness is probably an impact, but I can definitely be convinced otherwise
-You can insert rehighlightings
-Good formatting and strategic decision-making get bonus speaks; not making the email chain correctly and wasting time gets less speaks
-Clipping and any "isms" will result in an auto-L and as low speaks as possible
Montgomery Bell Academy
University of Michigan - Assistant Coach, Institute Instructor
Juan Diego Catholic
Notre Dame in Sherman Oaks
Jordan (UT) 96-98
College of Eastern Utah 99
Cal St Fullerton 01-04
Points will generally stay between 27.5 and 29.9. It generally takes between a 28.6 and 28.7 to clear. I assign points with that in mind. Teams that average 28.65 or higher in a debate means that I thought your points were elimination round-level debates. While it's not an exact science, 28.8-28.9 mean you had a good chance advancing the elimination rounds, 29+ indicates excellence reserved for quarters+. I'm not stingy with these kinds of points and they have nothing to do with past successes. It has everything to do with your performance in THIS debate.
1. Jumping is no longer considered prep.
2. Please do your best to reserve restroom breaks before the opposing team's speeches and not right before your own.
3. Try to treat each other with mutual respect.
4. Cards MUST be marked during the speech. Please say "Mark the card" and please have you OR your partner physically mark the cards in the speech. It is not possible to remember where you've marked your cards after the speech. Saying "mark the card" is the only way to let your judge and competitors know that you are not intending to represent that you've read the entirety of the card. Physically marking the card in the speech is necessary to maintain an accurate account of what you did or didn't read.
My 20 years in the community has led me to have formulated some opinions about how the activity should be run. I'm not sharing these with you because I think this is the way you have to debate, but because you may get some insight about how to win and earn better speaker points in front of me.
1) Conceded claims without warrants - A conceded argument is only given as much weight as the warrant that supports it. You still must have a warrant to support your claim...even if the argument has been conceded. If no warrant has been provided, then it wasn't ever an argument to begin with. For theory arguments to rise to the level of an actual "argument", they have to be properly warranted. If your conditionality argument takes less than 5 seconds to read, it's probably not an argument. "Condo -strat skew, voter....I hope they drop it" very well might be dropped, and not voted on. Politics theory arguments and Permutations fall into this same category. A perm must describe how it resolves the link to the net benefit to be an argument. You can't win on "perm: do the cp" without a reason it resolves the aff and should be theoretically allowed. "Vote NO" and "Fiat solves the link" need to have warrants also. If you are the victim of a theory arg like this, vote no, or intrinsicness, or whatever short thought, do not give up on this argument. You should be honest about not having flowed the argument because of its absurd brevity. You should also make arguments about how the development of those arguments in the 1ar are all new and should be rejected and your new answers be allowed. Affirmatives should make complete theory args in front of me, and negatives shouldn't be afraid to point out that the argument lacked a credible warrant.
2) Voting issues are reasons to reject the argument. (Other than conditionality)
3) Don't make affirmative statements in CX to start your response to a CX question you disagree with. For example, if one is asked "Is your plan a bad idea?' You shouldn't start your response with "sure" or "right", and then go on to disagree with the question. If you need a filler word or phrase, find one that doesn't posit an affirming response.
4) Debate stays in the round -- Debate is a game of testing ideas and their counterparts. Those ideas presented inside of the debate will be the sole factor used in determining the winning team. Things said or done outside of this debate round will not be considered when determining a winning team.
Topicality vs Conventional Affs: I default to competing interpretations on topicality, but can be persuaded by reasonability. Jurisdiction means nothing to me because I see jurisdiction being shaped by the questions of predictability, limits, and fairness. Topicality is a voting issue.
Topicality vs Critical Affs: I generally think that policy debate is a good thing and that a team should both have a plan and defend it. Given that, I have no problem voting for "no plan" advocacies or "fiat-less" plans. I will be looking for you to win that your impact turns to topicality/framework outweigh the loss of education/fairness that would be given in a "fiated" plan debate. I generally think affirmative teams struggle with answering the argument that they could advocate the majority of their aff while defending a topical plan. I also think that teams who stress they are a pre-requisite to topical action have a more difficult time with topical version type arguments, then teams do who impact turn standards. If you win that the state is irredeemable at every level, you are much more likely to get me to vote against FW. The K aff teams who have had success in front of me have been very good at generating a reasonable list of arguments that negative teams could run against them in order to mitigate the fairness impact of the T/FW argument. This makes the impact turns of a stricter limit much more persuasive to me.
I'm also in the fairness camp as a terminal impact, as opposed to an emphasis on portable skills. I think you can win that T comes before substantive issues.
One note to teams that are neg against an aff that lacks stable advocacy: Make sure you adapt your framework arguments to fit the aff. Don't read..." you must have a plan" if they have a plan. If a team has a plan but doesn't defend fiat, and base your ground arguments on that violation.
Counterplans and Disads: The more specific to the aff, the better. There are few things better than a well-researched PIC that just blind sites a team. Objectively, I think counterplans that compete on certainty or immediacy are not legitimate. However, I still coach teams to run these arguments, and I can still evaluate a theory debate about these different counterplans as objectively as possible. Again, the more specific the evidence is to the aff, the more legitimate it will appear.
The K: I was a k debater and a philosophy major in college and you are welcome to run a criticism in front of me. I prefer criticisms that are specific to the resolution. If your K links don't discuss arms sales this year, then it's unlikely to be very persuasive to me. I think that impact comparisons usually become the most important part of a kritik, and the excessive link list becomes the least of a team’s problems heading into the 2nr. You need to win that either a) you turn the case and have an external impact or b) you solve the case and have an external impact. Root cause arguments are good, but rarely address the timeframe issue of case impacts. If you are going to win your magnitude comparisons, then you better do a lot to mitigate the case impacts. I also find most framework arguments associated with a K near pointless. Most of them are impacted by the K proper and therefore depend on you winning the K in order to win the framework argument. Before devoting any more time to framework beyond getting your K evaluated, you should ask yourself and clearly state to me, what happens if you win your theory argument. You should craft your "role of the ballot" argument based on the answer to that question. I am willing to listen to sequencing arguments that EXPLAIN why discourse, epistemology, ontology, ect. come first.
Conclusion: I love debate...good luck if I'm judging you and please feel free to ask any clarifying questions.
In an effort to promote disclosure at the high school level, any team that practices near-universal "open source" will be awarded .2 extra per debater if you bring that to my attention prior to the RFD.
High school debate: Baltimore Urban Debate League ( Lake Clifton Eastern High School).
College debate: University of Louisville then Towson University.
Grad work: Cal State Fullerton.
Current: Director of Debate at Long Beach State (CSU Long Beach), former Director of Debate a Fresno State.
Email for chain: Devenc325@gmail.com
Speaker Point Scale
29.5-30: one of the best speakers I expect to see this year and has a high grade of Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve, Talent, and Swag is on 100. This means expert explanation of arguments and most arguments are offensive.
29 - 29.5: very good speaker has a middle grade of Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve, Talent, and mid-range swag. Explanation of arguments are of great quality and many of the arguments are offensive.
28.4 - 28.9: good speaker; may have some above average range/ parts of the Cha.Uni.Ner.Tal.S acronym but must work on a few of them and may have some issues to work out. Explanation of arguments are of good quality and several of the arguments are offensive.
28 - 28.3: solid speaker; needs some work; probably has average range/ parts of the Cha.Uni.Ner.Tal.S acronym but must work on a few of them and may have some issues to work out. Explanation of arguments are of okayish quality and very few of the arguments are offensive.
27.1 - 27.5: okay speaker; needs significant work on the Cha.Uni.Ner.Tal.S acronym. Not that good of explanation with no offensive arguments.
< 27: you have done something deeply problematic in this debate like clipping cards or linguistic violence, or rhetorically performed an ism without apology or remorse.
Please do not ask me to disclose points nor tell me as an argument to give you a 30. I wont. For some reason people think you are entitled to high points, I am not that person. So, you have to earn the points you get.
I am more than willing to listen to ANY arguments that are well explained and impacted and relate to how your strategy is going to produce scholarship, policy action, performance, movement, or whatever political stance or program. I will refer to an educator framework unless told otherwise...This means I will evaluate the round based on how you tell me you want it to be framed and I will offer comments on how you could make your argument better after the round. Comparison, Framing, OFFENSE is key for me. Please indict each other's framework or role of the ballot/role of the judge for evaluation and make clear offense to how that may make a bad model of debate. OR I am down with saying the debate should not be a reflection about the over all model of debate/ no model.
I DO NOT privilege certain teams or styles over others because that makes debate more unfair, un-educational, cliquey, and makes people not feel valued or wanted in this community, on that note I don't really jive to well with arguments about how certain folks should be excluded for the sake of playing the "game". NOR do I feel that there are particular kinds of debate related to ones personal identity. I think people are just making arguments attached to who they are, which is awesome, but I will not privilege a kind of debate because some asserts its a thing.
I judge debates according to the systematic connection of arguments rather than solely line by line…BUT doesn’t mean if the other team drops turns or other arguments that I won’t evaluate that first. They must be impacted and explained. PLEASE always point out reason why the opposing team is BAD and have contextualized reasons for why they have created a bad impact or make one worse. I DO vote on framework and theory arguments….I’ve been known to vote on Condo quite a bit, but make the interp, abuse story, and contradictions clear. If the debate devolves into a theory debate, I still think the AFF should extend a brief summary of the case.
Don’t try to adapt to how I used to debate if you genuinely don’t believe in doing so or just want to win a ballot. If you are doing a performance I will hold you to the level that it is practiced, you have a reason for doing so, and relates to the overall argument you are making…Don’t think “oh! I did a performance in front of Deven, I win.” You are sadly mistaken if so. It should be practiced, timed well, contain arguments, and just overall have a purpose. It should be extended with full explanation and utility.
Overall I would like to see a good debate where people are confident in their arguments and feel comfortable being themselves and arguing how they feel is best. I am not here to exclude you or make you feel worthless or that you are a "lazy" intellectual as some debaters may call others, but I do like to see you defend your side to the best of your ability.
GET OFF THEM BLOCKS SOME! I get it coaches like to block out args for their students, even so far as to script them out. I think this is a practice that is only focused on WINNING and not the intellectual development of debaters. A bit of advice that I give to any debater I come across is to tell them to READ, READ, READ. It is indeed fundamental and allows for the expansion of example use and fluency of your arguments.
A few issues that should be clarified:
Decorum: I DO NOT LIKE when teams think they can DISRESPECT, BULLY, talk RUDE to, or SCREAM at other teams for intimidation purposes in order to win or throw the other team off. Your points will be effected because this is very unbecoming and does not allow this space to be one of dialogue and reciprocity. If someone disrespects you, I am NOT saying turn the other cheek, but have some tact and utility of how you engage these folks. And being hyper evasive to me is a hard sell. Do not get me wrong, I do love the sassiness, sarcasm, curtness, and shade of it all but there is a way to do it with tact. I am also NOT persuaded that you should be able to be rude or do whatever you want because you are a certain race, class, gender, sex, sexuality, or any other intersection under the sun. That to me is a problematic excuse that intensifies the illegit and often rigid criticism that is unlashed upon "identity politics."
Road maps: STICK TO IT. I am a tight flower and I have a method. However, I need to know where things go so there is no dispute in the RFD that something was answered or not. If you are a one off team, please have a designed place for the PERM. I can listen well and know that there are places things should go, but I HATE to do that work for a team. PLEASE FLOW and not just follow the doc. If you answer an arg that was in the doc, but not read, I will take it as you note flowing nor paying attention to what is going on.
Framework and Theory: I love smart arguments in this area. I am not inclined to just vote on debate will be destroyed or traditional framework will lead to genocide unless explained very well and impacted based on some spill over claims. There must be a concrete connection to the impacts articulated on these and most be weighed. I am persuaded by the deliberation arguments, institutional engagement/building, limits, and topical versions of the Aff. Fairness is an interesting concept for me here. I think you must prove how their model of debate directly creates unfairness and provide links to the way their model of debate does such. I don't think just saying structural fairness comes first is the best without clarification about what that means in the context of the debate space and your model of debate.
Some of you K/Performance folks may think I am a FW hack, thas cute or whatever. Instead of looking at the judge as the reason why you weren't adequate at defending your business, you should do a redo, innovate, or invest in how to strategize. If it seems as though you aren't winning FW in front of me that means you are not focusing how offense and your model produces some level of "good." Or you could defend why the model approach is problematic or several reasons. I firmly believe if someone has a model of debate or how they want to engage the res or this space, you MUST defend it and prove why that is productive and provides some level of ground or debatability.
Winning Framework for me includes some level of case turn or reason why the aff produces something bad/ blocks something good/ there's a PIC/PIK of some kind (explained). This should be coupled with a proficient explanation of either the TVA or SSD strategy with the voter components (limits, predictability, clash, deliberation, research burden, education, fairness, ground etc.) that solidify your model of debate.
Performance: It must be linked to an argument that is able to defend the performance and be able to explain the overall impact on debate or the world/politics itself. Please don’t do a performance to just do it…you MUST have a purpose and connect it to arguments. Plus debate is a place of politics and args about debate are not absent politics sometimes they are even a pre-req to “real” politics, but I can be persuaded otherwise. You must have a role of the ballot or framework to defend yourself, or on the other side say why the role of the ballot is bad. I also think those critics who believe this style of debate is anti-intellectual or not political are oversimplifying the nuance of each team that does performance. Take your role as an educator and stop being an intellectual coward or ideology driven hack.
Do not be afraid to PIK/PIC out of a performance or give reasons why it was BAD. Often people want to get in their feelings when you do this. I am NOT sympathetic to that because you made a choice to bring it to this space and that means it can be negated, problematized, and subject to verbal criticism.
Topic/Resolution: I will vote on reasons why or why not to go by the topic...unlike some closed minded judges who are detached from the reality that the topics chosen may not allow for one to embrace their subjectivity or social location in ways that are productive. This doesn’t mean I think talking about puppies and candy should win, for those who dumb down debate in their framework args in that way. You should have a concrete and material basis why you chose not to engage the topic and linked to some affirmation against racism/sexism/homophobia/classism/elitism/white supremacy and produces politics that are progressive and debatable. There would have to be some metric of evaluation though. BUT, I can be persuaded by the plan focus and topic education model is better middle ground to what they want to discuss.
Hella High Theory K: i.e Hiediggar, Baudrillard, Zizek, D&G, Butler, Arant, and their colleagues…this MUST be explained to me in a way that can make some material sense to me as in a clear link to what the aff has done or an explanation of the resolution…I feel that a lot of times teams that do these types of arguments assume a world of abstraction that doesn’t relate fully to how to address the needs of the oppressed that isn’t a privileged one. However, I do enjoy Nietzsche args that are well explained and contextualized. Offense is key with running these args and answering them.
Disadvantages: I’m cool with them just be well explained and have a link/link wall that can paint the story…you can get away with a generic link with me if you run politics/econ/tradeoff disads. But, it would be great to provide a good story. In the 2NC/1NR retell the story of the disad with more context and OFFENSE and compartmentalize the parts. ALWAYS tell me why it turns and outweighs case. Disads on case should be impacted and have a clear link to what the aff has done to create/perpetuate the disad. If you are a K team and you kick the alt that solves for the disads…that is problematic for me. Affs need to be winning impact framing and some level of offense. No link is not enough for me.
Perms: I HATE when people have more than 3 perms. Perm theory is good here for me, do it and not just GROUP them. For a Method v Method debate, you do not get to just say you dont get a perm. Enumerate reasons why they do not get a perm. BUT, if an Aff team in this debate does make a perm, it is not just a test of competition, it is an advocacy that must be argued as solving/challenging what is the issue in the debate.
Additionally, you can kick the perms and no longer have to be burden with that solvency. BUT you must have offensive against their C/P, ALT, or advocacy.
Counterplans/Advocacies: They have to solve at least part of the case and address some of the fundamental issues dealing with the aff’s advantages especially if it’s a performance or critical aff…I’m cool with perm theory with a voter attached. I am cool with any kind of these arguments, but an internal net benefit is not enough for me in a policy counterplan setting. If you are running a counter advocacy, there must be enumerated reasons why it is competitive, net beneficial, and is the option that should be prioritized. I do love me a PIK/PIC or two, but please do it effectively with specific evidence that is a criticism of the phrase or term the aff used. But, know the difference between piking out of something and just criticizing the aff on some trivial level. I think you need to do very good analysis in order to win a PIC/PIK. I do not judge kick things...that is your job.
Affs in the case of PIK/PICs, you must have disads to the solvency (if any), perm, theory, defend the part that is questionable to the NEG.
Race/ Identity arguments: LOVE these especially from the Black/Latinx/Asian/Indigenous/Trans/Sexuality perspective (most familiar with) , but this doesn’t mean you will win just because you run them like that. I like to see the linkage between what the aff does wrong or what the aff/neg has perpetuated. I’m NOT likely to vote on a link of omission unless some structural claim has risen the burden. I am not familiar with ALL of these types of args, so do not assume that I know all you literature or that I am a true believer of your arguments about Blackness. I do not believe that Blackness based arguments are wedded to an ontology focus or that one needs to win or defeat ontology to win.
I am def what some of you folks would call a "humanist and I am okay with that. Does not mean you can't win any other versions of that debate in front of me.
Case Args: Only go for case turns and if REALLY needed for your K, case defense.…they are the best and are offensive , however case defense may work on impacts if you are going for a K. If you run a K or performance you need to have some interaction with the aff to say why it is bad. Please don't sandbag these args so late in the debate.
CONGRESSIONAL DEBATE --------------------------------------------------------------------------
I am of the strong belief that Congressional debate is a DEBATE event first and foremost. I do not have an I.E or speech background. However, I do teach college public speaking and argumentation. The comments I leave will talk about some speech or style components. I am not a judge that heavily favors delivery over the argumentation and evidence use.
I am a judge that enjoys RECENT evidence use, refutation, and clash with the topics you have been assigned.
STRUCTURE OF SPEECHES
I really like organization. With that said, I do prefer debaters have a introduction with a short attention getter, and a short preview statement of their arguments. In the body of the speech, I would like some level of impacting/ weighing of your arguments and their arguments ( if applicable), point out flaws in your opponents argumentation (lack of solvency, fallacies, Alternative causes), cite evidence and how it applies, and other clash based refutation. If you want to have a conclusion, make sure it has a short summary and a declarative reason to pass or fail.
After the first 2 speeches of the debate, I put heavy emphasis on the idea that these speeches should have a refutation component outside of you extending a previous argument from your side, establish a new argument/evidence, or having some kind of summary. I LOVE OFFENSE based arguments that will turn the previous arguments state by the opposition. Defensive arguments are fine, but please explain why they mean the opposition cannot solve or why your criticism of their evidence or reason raises to the level of rejecting their stance. Please do not list more than 2 or 3 senators or reps that you are refuting because in some cases it looks like students are more concerned with the appearance of refutation than actually doing it. I do LOVE sassy, assertive or sarcastic moments but still be polite.
I think evidence use is very important to the way I view this type of debate. You should draw evidence from quality sources whether that is stats/figures/academic journals/narrative from ordinary people. Please remember to cite where you got your information and the year. I am a hack for recency of your evidence because it helps to illuminate the current issues on your topic. Old evidence is a bit interesting and should be rethought in front of me. Evidence that doesn't at some level assume the ongoing/aftermath of COVID-19 is a bit of a stretch. Evidence comparison/analysis of your opponent is great as well.
I LOVE impact calculus where you tell me why the advantages of doing or not doing a bill outweighs the costs. This can be done in several ways, but it should be clear, concise, and usually happen in the later speeches. At a basic level, doing timeframe, magnitude, probability, proximity, or any other standard for making arguments based on impact are great. I DISLIKE rehash....If you are not expanding or changing the way someone has articulated an argument or at least acknowledge it, I do not find rehash innovative nor high rank worthy. This goes back to preparation and if you have done work on both sides of a bill. You should prepare multiple arguments on a given side just in case someone does the argument before you. There is nothin worse to me than an unprepared set of debaters that must take a bunch of recesses/breaks to prepare to switch.
email chain: email@example.com & firstname.lastname@example.org
qualifications: qualified to the toc my senior year & bid with >1 partner, cleared to toc octas, illinois varsity state champion
affiliations: debated @ northside college prep (2017-2021), assistant coach @ interlake hs (2021-)
debate is an educational game that requires disagreement. i will always attempt to exclusively evaluate who did the better debating according to the flow and exclude personal biases or opinions i might have about debate. the most egregious scenario in which i evaluate things according to my personal beliefs or external factors is either near-perfect debating or abysmal debating by both sides.
tl;dr: do what you do best, unless what you do best involves not doing line by line or offensive arguments (including death good).don't change your arguments to adapt unless your arguments involve being offensive, ad hominems, or death good. certain arguments (bees counterplan) are so absurd my threshold for voting against them will be extremely low.
online: wait for me to turn my camera on.
speaker points will be rewarded by knowing what you are talking about, doing research, clarity, strategic vision, and being funny. speaker points will be docked by rudeness/undue assertiveness, lack of clarity, and lack of strategic vision.
saying "weighing" or adding it to your roadmap is a nuclear weapon for your speaker points - when you are doing impact comparison you don't need to tell me that is what you are doing.
people who have shaped the way i think about debate: john turner, shree awsare, dml, holland bald, luther snagel, addison kane, wayne tang, all of northside c/o '19
new pet peeves:
1. clarity. i will not clear you. it's up to you to be as clear as possible even if that means sacrificing speed. having to give an rfd where i tell you that i couldn't understand a third of what you were saying is frustrating annoying for me and embarrassing for you.
2. kicking stuff. for some reason i've judged top 20 teams who are not kicking out of stuff correctly. even if it doesnt do you any strategic harm, it's a very bad look and your speaks will suffer.
3. cx. barring the aff is new or you are mav, you must either do cross ex for all 3 minutes or end early. you cannot use cross ex for prep.
4. obviously rehighlighting cards is fine, but my new pet peeve is when teams rehighlight cards and the rehighlighting is blatantly false. please don't do that and pay attention to what you are rehighlighting!
i have a relatively good understanding of this topic as it has developed so far - did relatively in-depth research at camp this summer and during the preseason. i will probably understand your terminology.
will not vote for t article v. i will dock your speaks by .1 for every speech in which it is extended. it is not an argument.
plans' vagueness on this topic are quickly becoming time-cube level stupid. i don't think i would vote on vagueness itself but i will give lots of leeway to teams that exploit it.
- tech over truth with limits. obviously requires a claim, warrant, and implication, lacking any of these things = i don't evaluate it. additionally, the "dropped" argument must be consistent with the repository of facts presented in the round. if the counterplan is articulated as fiating US action, i would not be able to vote for a "US says no" deficit that is technically dropped.
where i think i differ from some judges is that i often simply cannot vote on certain arguments when i plainly do not understand them, which i think is logical since judges are human and require a certain level of understanding to make a coherent decision. generally i think i may intervene in this instance more than other judges simply because i rarely find myself voting for arguments that i cannot articulate in my own right.
- debate is a game but i can be convinced that the game is unfair/more than just a game. "debate bad" is probably a round loser.structural issue/problematic tendencies in debate as an activity rather than debate as a disagreement between the AFF and NEG seem to be issues external to and unresolvable by my ballot.
- i will not judge kick the counterplan unless told to.
- neg leaning on most theory. i think condo's good but can be convinced otherwise -- in order for condo to be a viable option you should sink >1 minute on it in the 1AR. slow down!!! most debates, condo is literally not flowable until the 2NR.
- incredibly tricky/in depth theory or competition is not my strong suit. i will evaluate it fine, but keep in mind that if i give a lot of credence to an argument that is conventionally understood as bad it is probably because i really don't think about theory much so i tend to just parse through everything.
- not sure why but i keep judging clash/policy v k debates. disclaimer that although i am fine with the k, i have found that my threshold for voting for it is much higher than i thought it to be. abstracted arguments with little connection to the aff, the topic, or a strong and clearly articulated framework claim will find little solace in my ballot.
- i appreciate critiques that are specific to the aff (that can be the plan, or its scholarship, or both!). i think that a lot of K 2NRs miss the forest for the trees, and should consolidate either to a framework-centric or alt-centric approach, rather than both. the more the K is in direct conversation with the aff, the more i will buy a framework push that is just like...this is a direct impact turn to what you said. just answer it. lol.
- i generally quite dislike "you link, you lose", and i have a pretty low threshold for voting aff on framework in these debates. i think that defending some kind of alternative, or giving the aff some kind of access to their consequences (at least as a defense of their epistemology) will make me much more receptive to a research or epistemology k. the difficulty in these debates arises when the k does not fundamentally disprove the 1ac's offense (whereas the thesis of the cap/nato bad k on this topic disproves the aff without needing to win the alt or framework) and the 2nr does not make any attempt at mitigating the case. it makes me voting negative incredibly unlikely.
- i appreciate an aff strategy that is not simply extinction outweighs + alt fails, but that is also obviously fine if that's your prerogative.
I debated for LAMDL in high school (Bravo’20) and now debate at CSULB. I currently coach Huntington Park High School and am an instructor at LAMDL, which means I’m fairly knowledgeable on whatever the high school topic is. Feel free to email me if you are interested in debating at CSULB.
People who have shaped my debate opinions: Deven Cooper, Cameron Ward, Jaysyn Green, Geo Liriano, Toya Green, Jonathan Meza, Curtis Ortega, Elvis Pineda, Andres Marquez, Isai Ortega
End of season update
For tournament pref sheets, the first section is all you really need to determine where you want to put me, I've left a more detailed paradigm below because I enjoy reading other people's paradigms when bored and it has helped me personally in understanding debate.
How I prefer to judge:
- I heavily decide debates by technical execution as long as the arguments extended have a warrant as to why I should consider them as true. This means you must explain why your opponent dropping an argument matters and extend arguments fully across each speech. That being said, I don’t necessarily require strict line-by-line debating, just that you answer every argument made at some point in your speech and clearly signpost what you are answering.
- 2NR/2AR speeches that start off with an overview identifying parts of the flow they have won and why that means they win the entire debate make the ability to decide a lot easier than immediately going to the line by line. Both sides should isolate the most important portions of the debate, acknowledge whether they are ahead/behind on certain questions, and do their best to resolve them in their favor. 2 or 3 things actually matter at the end of the debate, and both sides are better off spending their time there than trying to extend everything in the last speech.
- Evidence quality matters a lot to me - the way cards are highlighted and how many warrants for a claim actually stem from the text has been a rising issue in my opinion. More teams should be willing to call out wack evidence for what it is, and I think I’m more willing than most to not give weight to bad evidence/substantially reduce their weight in a debate than most. To be clear, this is not me saying I will dismiss a piece of evidence because I personally disagree with its claims/warrants, this is more about current debate practices that lead to wack cards.
- That being said, logical analytic arguments are usually the best arguments I hear in debates, probably because they come from the debaters themselves and not the blocks/cards that other people cut. Setting these up in cross-examination is fun to watch and results in higher speaks.
- Clarity over speed — most of yall are going too fast to allow for pen time needed to get warrants for your arguments down. Other times, you’re going so fast that I simply don’t understand what you’re saying in terms of clarity and substance. If you can’t flow yourself when you hear a recording of your own speech, please readjust. If I can’t explain your argument back to you in the rfd, then it makes it less likely that I’ll consider it.
- I’ve debated every style and have been on “both sides” of the debate, and I enjoy listening to all of them equally. I am willing to listen to any argument made in debate as long as its explained and impacted out. There is no need change the content of your argument in front of me, just win the flow and you’ll win the debate.
- I appreciate being organized outside of your speeches as well: email formatting (Tournament Name - Round - Team (Aff) v. Team (Neg)), starting the round on time and minimizing in-between-speech activities, etc. It helps your speaks.
Speaker point guide
Regardless of a W or L, the best speeches do what is listed above and are full of passion, judge instruction, and provide the clearest path to the ballot possible. Avoiding over-complication, closing every door, sounding like you want to be there, and being respectful to your opponents are what will get you the highest points possible.
29.6 - 30 - you went for the S-tier strategy in the round, attempted to close all doors, had an expert explanation of your arguments and avoided over-complication
29.1 - 29.5 - you went for the A-tier strategy with 1-2 missed opportunities to capitalize on, had a great explanation of your arguments and provided great judge instruction
28.6 - 29 - You executed your strategy but did not go for the best one in the round, provided decent judge instruction but left a couple doors open, and had a good explanation of your arguments
28.1 - 28.5 - A definitive strategy or clear judge instruction was not found, and explanation of arguments is enough for me to understand what’s going on.
27 - 28 - Arguments were extended but not explained as round-winning, and there is no judge instruction/strategy to be found.
25 - A debater has committed an evidence-based ethics violation (clipping, miscut evidence, cheating, etc.)
0 - 20 - Discriminatory action made in bad-faith/full-intent has taken place. Depending on the severity and the request of debaters, tabroom/coaches may or may not get involved.
- I am all for being petty/sassy/having those ethos moments in debate, but I still expect yall to have respect for your opponents. I don’t care for the beef yall have outside the round.
- Song Challenge: both sides get one chance to recommend a song for me to listen to in the RFD. It can’t be a song I already know. If you get past that, +.1 if I like it, +.0 if i find it mid, and -.1 if i don’t like it.
- If you have a fully disclosed wiki (i only require cites of all arguments read and tournaments attended with round reports, not open sourced docs), +.1.
- The best cross-examinations point out important logical holes in a team’s arguments and set up future ones as well, and typically sit on 2-3 major topics. You are free to use it however you want, but clarifying muddled portions of the debate and using CX in this manner is the best way for you to receive boosts in speaker points.
- Asking clarifying questions about arguments read in a speech requires CX time or prep time to be used.
- Teams are not required to answer your questions after cross-ex.
- Aff: I need K Affs to clearly explain how they generate solvency in the 1AC, whether its an epistemological shift in thinking or advocating for a movement, etc. Otherwise, I am completely fine with the negative making new arguments in later speeches if the 2AC shift is clearly identified. The best way to visualize solvency for me is through material examples grounded in aff evidence or explaining why a specific historical example is in line with the affirmative’s advocacy, which requires a higher threshold of analysis in front of me.
- Neg: presumption arguments in relation to the ballot don’t make sense to me unless the aff says the ballot is key for solvency. more presumption arguments should be made about the aff’s solvency, spillover, and materiality claims.
K v. K Debates
- The team that provides actual examples for the DA’s against the other side’s theory of power/advocacy/performance is more likely to win in front of me. These debates are theoretically heavy in nature and I need examples of how this impacts lived experiences, and how that side’s mode of study results in materially worse consequences.
- Affirmative teams should explain the permutation more and how it would actually look like — whether that means explaining what a combination of both theories looks like or how it is materially implemented, I need something. DA’s that stem from the neg’s K not accounting for x thing about the aff and the alt failing to solve the aff’s impacts do much better in front of me than DA’s that say not talking about the aff is bad.
- I have become more willing than most to disregard the permutation on either theory or substance, mostly because I think many aff permutations are not explained beyond the perm text and many DA’s to the K boil down to “arbitrary exclusion da’s” that can be resolved by an “alt solves the case” argument made by the negative.
- I love most variations of the Cap K (boooooooo semiocap), especially ones that center marginalized groups and turn more into K’s of organizing/state engagement strategies than cap root cause arguments.
- Aff: I prefer counter-interpretations that attempt to establish an actual model of debate for many teams to engage in rather than 2AC interps only suited to that particular affirmative. I personally believe Elijah Smith’s article about the Kritik-Focus-Model of debate is something that more people should read because it attempts to establish a predictable and limiting approach to K debate. Other examples include Tiffany-Dillard Knox’s passive voice articles, DSRB’s three-tier model, Rashad Evans’ Intersectional Debate articles, etc. They not only provide defense against the limits DA’s that inevitably come, but it allows teams to have meaningful interp v. counter interp debates about the quality of argumentation that results out of each model as well, and lets the aff resolve the DA’s that they make against framework as well. If this is not you, you are much better suited going for the impact turn by itself rather than trying to counter-define words in the resolution along with it.
- Neg: Clash/Fairness are all equally good in front of me, but I think its important for teams to understand that these exist on a sliding scale. How much clash/fairness the aff erodes is an important question that can be best explained by providing examples of what the aff’s model of debate (or lack thereof) justifies, and why that is a bad approach to debate as a competitive space. You should have at least 30 seconds of your speech dedicated to explaining why a high standard of clash and fairness should be maintained, because at the end of the day they are internal links to the skills we get from debate. In most instances, I prefer SSD over TVA arguments. This is because I only vote for non-carded TVA’s if they’re dropped since most of the time I conclude a risk of the DA outweighs. However, if a TVA has a solvency advocate included and the negative sufficiently explains how it accesses a major portion of the aff, the threshold for aff answers becomes significantly higher.
Policy v. K
- Extinction Policy Affs: each side should spend more time winning the framing of impacts if they want to win the debate.
- Soft-Left Policy Affs: conversely, I do not think the aff needs to win ontology-not-true arguments in order to win these debates. If the aff wins that they are a net-better option than the squo even if they use the state or do not address the root cause of whatever the K is, winning case probably means the aff is a DA to the perm. I would encourage negative teams to read a lot more case defense against these aff rather than just links on the K to push back against the permutation and the above argument.
- Most 2AC’s read generic “progress possible” “state good” cards that the plan does not help to progress or eventually result in. I am more willing than most to disregard these cards/minimize their utility.
- neg teams should engage the case a lot more than just reading impact defense
Policy v. Policy
- Case: Affs should prioritize well-explained internal links to solvency/impacts over shoving the aff with 3-4 impact scenarios that they most likely don’t access.
- DA: In a scenario where both teams are reading extinction-level arguments, teams should spend more time talking about the link/internal link portions of the DA than turns case arguments to establish priority.
- CP: Counterplans that compete on immediacy, certainty, or off of internal net-benefits alone that don’t solve the aff require substantial theory debating in order for me to vote on them. The 2AC strategy to list off permutations as fast as you can is unflowable and unclear as to what the perms even mean, and aff teams should spend more time describing what they actually are. no judge kick make your own decisions. I like process debates.
- Theory: Unless dropped, conditionality is probably the only reason to reject the team. I’m not aff/neg leaning on anything in particular, technical execution decides these debates. Teams should slow down when debating counterplan theory.
- Coffee > (HUGE GAP) monster, red bull, any energy drink
- Highlight color: yellow > blue > any light custom color > purple > green
- Pens: sharpie s-gel gunmetal > b2p > funny design > BIC cristal > random pen on the floor > g2 pens (unless they custom like the NAUDL ones)
Copied and Pasted from my judge philosophy wiki page.
Director of Debate at Pace Academy
15 years judging and coaching high school debate. First at Damien High School then at Greenhill. Generally only judge a handful of college rounds a year.
Zero rounds on the current college topic in 2020.
Coached at the University of Wyoming 2004-2005.
I have decided to incentivize reading strategies that involve talking about the specifics of the affirmative case. Too many high school teams find a terrible agent or process cp and use politics as a crutch. Too many high school teams pull out their old, generic, k's and read them regardless of the aff. As an incentive to get away from this practice I will give any 2N that goes for a case-only strategy an extra point. If this means someone who would have earned a 29 ends up with a 30, then so be it. I would rather encourage a proliferation of higher speaker points, then a proliferation of bad, generic arguments. If you have to ask what a case strategy involves, then you probably aren't going to read one. I'm not talking about reading some case defense and going for a disad, or a counterplan that solves most of the aff. I'm talking about making a majority of the debate a case debate -- and that case debate continuing into the 2NR.
You'll notice "specificity good" throughout my philosophy. I will give higher points to those teams that engage in more specific strategies, then those that go for more generic ones. This doesnt mean that I hate the k -- on the contrary, I wouldn't mind hearing a debate on a k, but it needs to be ABOUT THE AFF. The genero security k doesnt apply to the South Korean Prostitutes aff, the Cap k doesnt apply to the South Korea Off-Shore Balancing aff - and you arent likely to convince me otherwise. But if you have an argument ABOUT the affirmative --especially a specific k that has yet to be read, then you will be rewarded if I am judging you.
I have judged high-level college and high school debates for the last 14 years. That should answer a few questions that you are thinking about asking: yes, speed is fine, no, lack of clarity is not. Yes, reading the k is ok, no, reading a bunch of junk that doesn't apply to the topic, and failing to explain why it does is not.
The single most important piece of information I can give you about me as a judge is that I cut a lot of cards -- you should ALWAYS appeal to my interest in the literature and to protect the integrity of that literature. Specific is ALWAYS better than generic, and smart strategies that are well researched should ALWAYS win out over generic, lazy arguments. Even if you dont win debates where you execute specifics, you will be rewarded.
Although my tendencies in general are much more to the right than the rest of the community, I have voted on the k many times since I started judging, and am generally willing to listen to whatever argument the debaters want to make. Having said that, there are a few caveats:
1. I don't read a lot of critical literature; so using a lot of terms or references that only someone who reads a lot of critical literature would understand isn’t going to get you very far. If I don’t understand your arguments, chances are pretty good you aren’t going to win the debate, no matter how persuasive you sound. This goes for the aff too explain your argument, don’t assume I know what you are talking about.
2. You are much better off reading critical arguments on the negative then on the affirmative. I tend to believe that the affirmative has to defend a position that is at least somewhat predictable, and relates to the topic in a way that makes sense. If they don’t, I am very sympathetic to topicality and framework-type arguments. This doesn’t mean you can’t win a debate with a non-traditional affirmative in front of me, but it does mean that it is going to be much harder, and that you are going to have to take topicality and framework arguments seriously. To me, predictability and fairness are more important than stretching the boundaries of debate, and the topic. If your affirmative defends a predictable interpretation of the topic, you are welcome to read any critical arguments you want to defend that interpretation, with the above stipulations.
3. I would much rather watch a disad/counterplan/case debate than some other alternative.
In general, I love a good politics debate - but - specific counterplans and case arguments are THE BEST strategies. I like to hear new innovative disads, but I have read enough of the literature on this year’s topic that I would be able to follow any deep debate on any of the big generic disads as well.
As far as theory goes, I probably defer negative a bit more in theory debates than affirmative. That probably has to do with the fact that I like very well thought-out negative strategies that utilize PICS and specific disads and case arguments. As such, I would much rather see an affirmative team impact turn the net benefits to a counterplan then to go for theory (although I realize this is not always possible). I really believe that the boundaries of the topic are formed in T debates at the beginning of the year, therefore I am much less willing to vote on a topicality argument against one of the mainstream affirmatives later on in the year than I am at the first few tournaments. I’m not going to outline all of the affs that I think are mainstream, but chances are pretty good if there are more than a few teams across the country reading the affirmative, I’m probably going to err aff in a close T debate.
One last thing, if you really want to get high points in front of me, a deep warming debate is the way to go. I would be willing to wager that I have dug further into the warming literature than just about anybody in the country, and I love to hear warming debates. I realize by this point most teams have very specific strategies to most of the affirmatives on the topic, but if you are wondering what advantage to read, or whether or not to delve into the warming debate on the negative, it would be very rewarding to do so in front of me -- at the very least you will get some feedback that will help you in future debates.
Ok, I lied, one more thing. Ultimately I believe that debate is a game. I believe that debaters should have fun while debating. I realize that certain debates get heated, however do your best not to be mean to your partner, and to the other team. There are very few things I hate more than judging a debate where the teams are jerks to each other. Finally, although I understand the strategic value to impact turning the alternative to kritiks and disads (and would encourage it in most instances), there are a few arguments I am unwilling to listen to those include: sexism good, racism good, genocide good, and rape good. If you are considering reading one of those arguments, don’t. You are just going to piss me off.
Email chain --- email@example.com
Please be nice.
Don’t pref me if you don’t read a plan and care about winning.
If I judge a fairness bad arguement I will immediately vote for the opponents in the spirit of unfairness.
If I can't flow you I will stop paying attention.
I try to make my speaks normally distributed(u = 28.4, sd = 0.5).
Prep ends when email is sent.
Topicality is primarily a question of truth.
Debate is better when debaters are business professional (applies to online debate).
Everything is probablistic unless dropped (existential inherency is true).
I debated at Blue Valley Southwest High School for 4 years and am currently debating at KU
I am heavily persuaded by arguments about why the affirmative should read a topical plan. One of the main reasons for this is that I am persuaded by a lot of framing arguments which nullify aff offense (TVOA, argument testing, etc). The best way to deal with these things is to more directly impact turn common impacts like procedural fairness. Affirmative teams would also be well served to offer a competing interpretation of debate, designed to mitigate the negative impacts.
Fairness is the most persuasive impact to framework.
I'm not great for the K. In most instances this is because I believe the alternative solves the links to the aff or can't solve it's own impacts. This can be resolved by narrowing the scope of the K or strengthening the link explanation (too often negative teams do not explain the links in the context of the permutation). The simpler solution to this is a robust framework press.
I really enjoy good T debates. Fairness is the best (and maybe the only) impact. Education is very easily turned by fairness. Evidence quality is important, but only in so far as it improves the predictability/reduces the arbitrariness of the interpretation.
CPs are fun. I generally think that the negative doing non-plan action with the USfg is justified. Everything else is up for debate, but well developed aff arguments are dangerous on other questions.
I generally think conditionality is good. I think the best example of my hesitation with conditionality is multi-plank counter plans which combine later in the debate to become something else entirely.
If in cross x you say the status quo is always an option I will kick the counter plan if no further argumentation is made (you can also obviously just say conditional and clarify that judge kick is an option). If you say conditional and then tell me to kick in the 2NR and there is a 2AR press on the question I will be very uncomfortable and try to resolve the debate some other way. To resolve this, the 2AC should make an argument about judge kick.
Questions comments and concerns can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org
Don't send me comments
Chair, Assoc. Professor, Communication Studies, Film & New Media, Augsburg University
Director, Minnesota Urban Debate League
Coaching policy at Eagan High School, Eagan, Minnesota
Email: email@example.com (please add me to the email/file exchange)
Background: I started policy debate in the 7th grade, debated all through junior high, high school (Como Park, St. Paul, MN) and college (Concordia College, Moorhead, NDT out rounds, Kentucky Round Robin), and since then I've coached for more than 25 years at the college and high school level, both on the national circuit and locally in the Midwest. I have also directed and taught at multiple camps over the years. I’m one of the original founders and current head of the Minnesota Urban Debate League, and am a tenured faculty at Augsburg College where I teach argumentation, rhetoric, persuasion and various specialized forms of public address.
Debate Paradigm: When left to my own devices I function as an educational games player, which means I believe that competitive academic debate is an activity designed to educate, enlighten and improve its students and society. My primary responsibility is to serve the debaters as students, in my role as an educator, both in and out of rounds. Therefore, unless given a different framework, I resolve procedural issues by evaluating the impact the precedent would set for the educational value of the activity. If the debaters do not specify a substantive decision-making framework, I default to being a pragmatic policy maker. However, I have spent many years studying rhetoric and critical theory and I’m happy to function in non-consequentialist and discursive frameworks if the debaters defend them. I am sensitive to the important, manifold issues of identity and have devoted many years attempting to redress systemic injustices in and out of debate.
I greatly prefer specific links and specific evidence when I can get it, but vote without specific links when I must. Topicality is a default voter, but I’m persuadable and have voted for non-topical and non-policy advocacy statements many times. In general, I do my best not to intervene on any issue, and decide rounds based only on what the debaters do and say in the round.
Style Preferences: Respect, kindness, and fun in rounds are high values for me. I do not enjoy debaters who are rude or domineering and will reduce points accordingly. Debating and debate rounds should be intense, passionate, and enjoyable.
Speed is not a problem for me, but comprehensibility is crucial. As I hope you know, most judges, even experienced, well-regarded judges, pretend to understand most of most rounds. 20 years on, I am past pretending. If I cannot understand you I will ask you to be clearer, but I will only make that request three times per person. After that, I just do my best. But, I will not vote on an issue or argument that I could not understand in constructives. And, suddenly giving clear meaning to incomprehensible gibberish in rebuttals, although occasionally entertaining, is grossly unfair to the opposition.
Tag CX is fine as long as the debaters are all respectful to one another. I’ll time prep and time speeches along with you, but you must keep your own time too.
“Be kind whenever possible.
It is always possible.”
-His Holiness the Dalia Lama XIV
Hi, I'm Tessa -- I use she/them pronouns and will openly laugh if you call me "judge" at any point during the debate.
Don't feel the need to read this whole philosophy, I keep it long so those people who don't have access to a lot of national circuit debate and the intergenerational/institutional knowledge that comes with mentorship and coaching can know where to pref me.
Got a few First Rounds to the NDT at Wake Forest University, alongside a generally high level of competitive success writ large. My college career was spent reading critical arguments although I spent quite a lot of time as a policy debater in high school as well. Since leaving debate, I have spent time both in the cybersecurity industry and the academy discussing AI and critical theory. Do with this information what you will.
Currently coaching for Head-Royce.
Yes I want to be on the email chain -- ask for my email if you don't have it. (Don't put your emails online in searchable places like this, kids!) That said, I will probably not open speech docs much. See evaluation section.
Do what you love. If you have no passion in your heart, then do what you are good at. Debate is about scholarship, rhetoric, and competition, so do one or more of those well and you will probably have my ballot.
I don't care what kind of argument you read, I just care that you read it well - I love nuanced K on K debates about how we as activists and scholars should respond to our fucked up world, but am always willing to listen to a case-specific counterplan/DA strategy if that floats your boat.
I enjoy daring, ambitious, and nuanced strategies and will reward debaters who put in the work to execute them, whether it is a hyperspecific PIK in a policy debate or taking a critical team up on the internal debates of their own literature base.
How I evaluate debates:
I try to evaluate arguments without prior assumptions about them. However, I'm a young judge and I don't think any judging philosophy is ever 100% true when it claims to be tabula rasa. But I believe that all of my assumptions and proclivities are endlessly negotiable and if a team makes an argument I will do my best to put that before my own thoughts on the matter.
I will evaluate arguments by their execution on the line-by-line first unless told otherwise by debaters. That means dropped argument is a true argument, but not always a winning argument. You need to explain to me why whatever technical concessions that were made actually matter for the rest of the flow. Tech = truth does not mean that framing doesn't matter -- winning how I should evaluate arguments will always predetermine how I evaluate dropped arguments in the first place.
If you wish me to toss out the flow, I am down, but please give me a clear alternative way to adjudicate the debate.
Arguments > evidence. Debate is a communicative activity, and therefore how I evaluate evidence is filtered through what I am told about it, all else being equal. For me, reading evidence after the debate occurs when it is sufficiently flagged by one or both teams as central to a key issue in the debate. Good evidence is not an excuse for a bad articulation, but can be a net benefit to a good one. That said, I care very much about research and will listen to evidence as it is being read and reward teams that can explain their research, its context, its warrants, etc.
0% risk is possible -- some arguments are just bad. Winning 0% risk is generally easier when making framing arguments about how I evaluate risk in the first place.
Obvi.edu saying or doing racist things (or microaggressions of other forms) will not go over well and will be responded to with anything from an autoloss to zero speaks to a 27 depending on the severity of the issue.
Okay, I know this is the only part of a paradigm anyone ever reads so...
1. "Intrinsic goods" don't exist, but procedural impacts might do. If your version of fairness is a tautological defense of old school debate that barely acknowledges the history of this activity or of framework as a set of arguments, I would probably recommend developing a different reason why we should invest in your model of competition before attempting to win my ballot. Make warrants for fairness as an impact and do impact calculus about why it outweighs. Saying "it comes first because debate is a game" will rarely get my ballot if given a similarly tagline aff response.
2. Critical affs should probably have a model of debate, even if it doesn't look like the kind of strict ground allocation that policy teams give. A 2AR that is impact turns alone without a vision for what we are doing in this activity or in a debate will be much harder for me to vote for than a warranted vision for debate that tells me what debates look like and where clash is focused (or at least some defense/link turns to their standards). This doesn't require any interpretation of the resolution or universal mandate, just something I can vote for other than "not for framework."
3. Examples/history will raise your speaks and my comprehension of your argument -- whether it is techy IR debate or a high theory discussion of psychoanalytic black feminism, I think that theories draw their explanatory power from material realities of the world and I tend to be be more easily convinced by debaters and scholars who tie their theory to that world. Knowing how your theory is related to the world around you will make it far more persuasive to me than floating buzzwords.
This applies to FW too -- this activity has a long and thoroughly debated history of how it has approached each resolution, practices like fiat, models of competition, etc. Learn the history of this space, the people who made it what it is, and use that knowledge!
4. Critical affs should probably have a relationship to the topic that is inherent and significant, but the topic isn't the same as the resolution per se. I will be far more persuaded by framework against affs that don't do anything or say anything about the topic after the first card than I will be against teams that spent the time to write an affirmative that answers a core question of the topic.
Pet Peeves in no particular order...
Calling me "judge." Ever.
Being mean to younger debaters. This activity can be harsh and terrible, don't contribute to that.
Profoundly untopical policy affs written only to beat critical teams but never to be read against policy teams (ehem, "sabotage").
Overadaptation to what you think I want to hear.
Bastardizing revolutionary history.
Planicality. It's silly.
Ignoring alternative forms of evidence such as music, poetry, etc.
Extending four process CPs into a negative block.
Reading the cap K as the "root cause/state good" double whammy, rather than, ya know, a real argument.
Assuming I know things about you, high school debate, your fancy theory, or even what the topic is. I probably don't. I also probably don't care. Your debating matters infinitely more than whatever rep you think you have.
Ericson 3. That's not interpretating anything.
Asking for double wins.
As I have had the opportunity to judge LD a few times now, here are some unedited comments:
1. Clarity and pen time are underrated -- if it is not on my flow, I will not evaluate it. If I can only understand every other word, I will not reconstruct the argument for you. I do not read docs during the round unless they are a dispute over what a specific piece of evidence says.
2. Substantive argumentation matters. I am not informed about most LD conventions that differ from CX/Policy, so explain how your argumentation impacts the flow and my ballot.
3. I have a high threshold for what I perceive as cheap-shot theory arguments. While I have voted multiple times on theory, I find that the more substantive and developed the theoretical objection, the more amenable I am to evaluating it. In that regard, I tend to view RVIs are contrived and I tend to have a low threshold for responses to them.
Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart
Some thoughts about the NATO topic:
1. Defending the status quo seems very difficult. The topic seems aff-biased without a clear controversy in the literature, without many unique disadvantages, and without even credible impact defense against some arguments. The water topic was more balanced (and it was not balanced at all).
This means I'm more sympathetic to multiple conditional options than I might otherwise would be. I'm also very skeptical of plan vagueness and I'm unlikely to be very receptive towards any aff argument that relies on it.
Having said that, some of the 1ncs I've seen that include 6 conditional options are absurd and I'd be pretty receptive to conditionality in that context, or in a context where the neg says something like hegemony good and the security K in the same debate.
And an aff-biased topic is not a justification for CPs that compete off of certainty. The argument that "it's hard to be negative so therefore we get to do your aff" is pretty silly. I haven't voted on process CP theory very often, but at the same time, it's pretty rare for a 2a to go for it in the 2ar. The neg can win this debate in front of me, but I lean aff on this.
There are also parts of this topic that make it difficult to be aff, especially the consensus requirement of the NAC. So while the status quo is probably difficult to defend, I think the aff is at a disadvantage against strategies that test the consensus requirement.
2. Topicality Article 5 is not an argument. I could be convinced otherwise if someone reads a card that supports the interpretation. I have yet to see a card that comes even close. I think it is confusing that 1ncs waste time on this because a sufficient 2ac is "there is no violation because you have not read evidence that actually supports your interpretation." The minimum threshold would be for the negative to have a card defining "cooperation with NATO" as "requires changing Article 5". That card does not exist, because no one actually believes that.
3. Topicality on this topic seems very weak as a 2nr choice, as long as the affirmative meets basic requirements such as using the DOD and working directly with NATO as opposed to member states. It's not unwinnable because debating matters, but the negative seems to be on the wrong side of just about every argument.
4. Country PICs do not make very much sense to me on this topic. No affirmative cooperates directly with member states, they cooperate with the organization, given that the resolution uses the word 'organization' and not 'member states'. Excluding a country means the NAC would say no, given that the excluded country gets to vote in the NAC. If the country PIC is described as a bilateral CP with each member state, that makes more sense, but then it obviously does not go through NATO and is a completely separate action, not a PIC.
5. Is midterms a winnable disadvantage on the NATO topic? I am very surprised to see negative teams read it, let alone go for it. I can't imagine that there's a single person in the United States that would change their vote or their decision to turn out as a result of the plan. The domestic focus link argument seems completely untenable in light of the fact that our government acts in the area of foreign policy multiple times a day. But I have yet to see a midterms debate, so maybe there's special evidence teams are reading that is somehow omitted from speech docs. It's hard for me to imagine what a persuasive midterms speech on a NATO topic looks like though.
What should you do if you're neg? I think there are some good CPs, some good critiques, and maybe impact turns? NATO bad is likely Russian propaganda, but it's probably a winnable argument.
Generally I try to evaluate arguments fairly and based upon the debaters' explanations of arguments, rather than injecting my own opinions. What follows are my opinions regarding several bad practices currently in debate, but just agreeing with me isn't sufficient to win a debate - you actually have to win the arguments relative to what your opponents said. There are some things I'll intervene about - death good, behavior meant to intimidate or harass your opponents, or any other practice that I think is harmful for a high school student classroom setting - but just use some common sense.
Thoughts about critical affs and critiques:
Good debates require two prepared teams. Allowing the affirmative team to not advocate the resolution creates bad debates. There's a disconnect in a frighteningly large number of judging philosophies I've read where judges say their favorite debates are when the negative has a specific strategy against an affirmative, and yet they don't think the affirmative has to defend a plan. This does not seem very well thought out, and the consequence is that the quality of debates in the last few years has declined greatly as judges increasingly reward teams for not engaging the topic.
Fairness is the most important impact. Other judging philosophies that say it's just an internal link are poorly reasoned. In a competitive activity involving two teams, assuring fairness is one of the primary roles of the judge. The fundamental expectation is that judges evaluate the debate fairly; asking them to ignore fairness in that evaluation eliminates the condition that makes debate possible. If every debate came down to whoever the judge liked better, there would be no value to participating in this activity. The ballot doesn't do much other than create a win or a loss, but it can definitely remedy the harms of a fairness violation. The vast majority of other impacts in debate are by definition less important because they never depend upon the ballot to remedy the harm.
Fairness is also an internal link - but it's an internal link to establishing every other impact. Saying fairness is an internal link to other values is like saying nuclear war is an internal link to death impacts. A loss of fairness implies a significant, negative impact on the activity and judges that require a more formal elaboration of the impact are being pedantic.
Arguments along the lines of 'but policy debate is valueless' are a complete nonstarter in a voluntary activity, especially given the existence of multiple alternative forms of speech and debate. Policy debate is valuable to some people, even if you don't personally share those values. If your expectation is that you need a platform to talk about whatever personally matters to you rather than the assigned topic, I encourage you to try out a more effective form of speech activity, such as original oratory. Debate is probably not the right activity for you if the condition of your participation is that you need to avoid debating a prepared opponent.
The phrase "fiat double-bind" demonstrates a complete ignorance about the meaning of fiat, which, unfortunately, appears to be shared by some judges. Fiat is merely the statement that the government should do something, not that they would. The affirmative burden of proof in a debate is solely to demonstrate the government should take a topical action at a particular time. That the government would not actually take that action is not relevant to any judge's decision.
Framework arguments typically made by the negative for critiques are clash-avoidance devices, and therefore are counterproductive to education. There is no merit whatsoever in arguing that the affirmative does not get to weigh their plan. Critiques of representations can be relevant, but only in relation to evaluating the desirability of a policy action. Representations cannot be separated from the plan - the plan is also a part of the affirmative's representations. For example, the argument that apocalyptic representations of insecurity are used to justify militaristic solutions is asinine if the plan includes a representation of a non-militaristic solution. The plan determines the context of representations included to justify it.
Thoughts about topicality:
Limited topics make for better topics. Enormous topics mean that it's much harder to be prepared, and that creates lower quality debates. The best debates are those that involve extensive topic research and preparation from both sides. Large topics undermine preparation and discourage cultivating expertise. Aff creativity and topic innovation are just appeals to avoid genuine debate.
Thoughts about evidence:
Evidence quality matters. A lot of evidence read by teams this year is underlined in such a way that it's out of context, and a lot of evidence is either badly mistagged or very unqualified. On the one hand, I want the other team to say this when it's true. On the other hand, if I'm genuinely shocked at how bad your evidence is, I will probably discount it.
current debate affiliations: shawnee mission south and university of kansas
email chain >>> speech drop. please add me to chain - firstname.lastname@example.org
prefs guide for toc 2023:
most of my debating was pretty exclusively policy stuff, but most of my coaching for the past three years has been pretty exclusively critical. i would suggest preffing me around where you would pref a slightly k-leaning clash judge
important stuff not directly related to my opinions about debate:
be honest with yourself and do us both a favor - don't pref me if you're gonna say racist stuff. if you're thinking to yourself "i wonder if they're gonna think x argument i read is racist" then you have your answer!
if someone i trust tells me that you are a predator, i will not vote for you under any circumstances
if debating online: go slower than usual, especially on theory
my opinions about debate:
plan texts - they're written very poorly nowadays. if your plan text is written poorly or intentionally vaguely, i will likely lean neg when it comes to interpreting what the plan means/does. neg teams should press this issue more often
affs without plan texts - idc if an aff doesn't have a plan text. when neg vs these affs, don't be afraid to go for presumption
topicality - i like it a lot. historically i haven't found reasonability args to be very persuasive but am happy to have my mind changed
t-usfg/fw: the team with a more convincing explanation of debate's effect on debaters' political subjectivity will likely have an easier time controlling how i think about either team's impacts (for example, if i am convinced that debate does not affect subjectivity, then i am more likely to be persuaded by fairness impacts). i am less interested in descriptive arguments about what debate is (for example, "debate is a game") and more interested in arguments about what debate ought to be. the answer to that can still be "a game" but can just as likely be something like "a site for the exchange of revolutionary ideas/tactics." whichever side of that you fall on, you will almost certainly need some sort of explanation for the competitive nature of debate and the effect of deciding who wins (which, again, will likely be shaped by what i am convinced debate's relationship to political subjectivity is)
theory: please make sure you're giving me pen time here! i am probably more likely than most to vote on theory arguments, but they are almost always a reason to reject the arg and not the team (obvi does not apply to condo). that being said, you need a warrant for "reject the arg not the team" rather than just saying that statement. i dig condo debates. don't be afraid to go for condo in front of me.
k: you are going to have a very hard time convincing me that i should have a positive or even ambivalent disposition towards death. not good for eurotrash pomo stuff but good for anything else. if reading args about queerness or transness, they better not be racist, because lots of them are! for the aff, explain your perms. i should know what your perms do/mean and how they solve the links when you make them in the 2ac, not just in the 2ar
counterplans: a perm text without an explanation of how it disproves the competitiveness of the counterplan is not an argument. also, by default, i will judge kick the cp if the neg loses it and evaluate the squo as well. aff, if you don't want me to do that, tell me not to
i watch for clipping. if you clip, it's an auto-loss. the other team does not have to call you out on it. if i clear you multiple times and the card text you're reading is still incomprehensible, that's clipping
use of slurs, etc. = auto-loss
Coaching at Head Royce 2019-Present
Put me on the chain - email@example.com
Topicality - I have been in a lot of T debates this year - the only thing I want here is good line by line and impacted out standards in the 2nr/2ar (e.g. and aff ground o/ws neg ground -but why?) *** its not a reverse voter issue/its not genocide (dont annoy me)
T-USFG - I hate judging these now but I still have a conscience, I'm just hostile to them - couple things - make the 2ar responses to the 2nr on FW clear, the 1ar is make or break in FW debates for me so beware technical concessions. I don't really have a preference between prioritizing fairness vs education arguments. For the aff in these debates - dont drop SSD, TVA, or a truth testing claim on your scholarship - with minimal mitigation that's an easy neg ballot to write.
Disadvantages - They're lit - do turns case analysis and have a link story (even if its non specific), have an external impact and you're golden. Bad DAs are fine (ANWR, tradeoff etc), if they read a bad DA produce an amusing CX from it to showcase the contrived link chain, it'll up your ethos (and your speaks)
Counterplans - Have a competitive counterplan text with a net benefit. I will vote on a CP flaw/whether or not a CP is feasibly possible, I will not judgekick unless I am told to. Theoretically illegit CPs are fine and the theory debate should be done well if you really want me to reject them. Unorthodox CPs are also cool w me - anarchy for example.
Conditionality - Explain it, go for it if you want - I don't consider myself having a high threshold for judging theory, unless condo is dropped it should be at least 45 seconds of the 1ar (if extended) or else I will be less lenient in a 2ar on theory. In the 1ar, if condo is extended in 10 seconds as an afterthought (e.g. YEAH condo ummm its abusive next) that's annoying and I won't vote on that if the 2nr spends 8 seconds there and is marginally less coherent than you.
Kritiks v Policy Affs - - I have seen any K you're going to run in front of me and have a reasonable threshold for voting on K tricks. That being said - Reps are shaped by context - In round links/impacts are fine .
--------things that will annoy me in these debates
- Claiming that I should give you leeway because they read a "K trick" a. no BL for a K trick, b. unless you're going for condo with an impact of in round abuse/some other theory arg stop whining to me.
- unresponsive answers to FW that lead to an interventionist decision
- an incoherent link story/alt solvency
- not being able to explain your K in CX
-not Cross applying FW if they read more than one K and instead spending twenty seconds reading the same FW again
-Claiming the role of the aff in debates is to "stfu" - I don't like voting for this model of debate because it is one sided and in debate as a competitive activity engagement is critical - but I can't make that argument for you.
That being said - go read Khirn's reasoning for why he votes for Kritiks most of the time, and what his RFDs look like. I agree with him.
Ks I have written files on/answering/into the lit for - spanos, psycho, cap, communist horizon, security, fem, mao, death cult, berlant, scranton, queerness, set col, *the thing you'll really need to do in high theory debates is be responsive to 2ac answers and break your prewritten block dependency, show me you know what you're doing and I won't use my background knowledge to help you.
Kritiks v K affs - Usually interesting. the RFD will most like be they did/didnt win the perm (that's usually how it goes).
Death Good - I'll vote on it but I'll have a high threshold.
Ethics Violations - Dont clip. Ethics Violations as pertaining to evidence quality/evidence flaws are not usually a voter (these types of debates will also annoy me)- it is not your role to persuade me that it was particularly abusive - if you introduce one of these into the round a. it is make or break - if i determine you're wrong, you lose and that is a decision I will make myself without consideration from either team by reading the ev, b. these are usually accidents and stupid to waste time doing, c. the appropriate thing is to tell the team to correct it and not weaponize it for a strategy - that's a bad model of debate for several reasons and doing so makes you a living representation of a moral hazard.
Impact Turns - They're funny and usually have questionable evidence quality, I think that good impact turn debates are underused and very threatening to a stupid team that reads both an ineq and hard impact adv.
- don't shake my hand, don't try it's weird and i don't like it
- I'll vote on a floating PIK
- There's a brightline between being argumentative and being rude, everyone loses that line sometimes but it's important to be attentive and paying attention to the responses of your opponents.
- Ill be on the email chain but I usually won't be flowing off of it
- You get two clears - then I stop flowing
- Time your own prep
- do untopical policy things against K teams it is their fault they can't go for T
-counter-fiction/poetry is acceptable
Feel free to message me w questions about my RFDs/comments - take notes during the RFD
Do your thing. I am not here to limit you. I love debate and did it all four years in high school and a little in college. I ran a K aff on the national circuit in high school as a little background. But that doesn’t really matter. It is up to y’all on what you want the debate to be about. So please debate however you feel you will do best. I want to see debaters debating about what they know not what they think I would like.
On a side note go follow the Sacramento Urban Debate League on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. It’s the UDL I am from. Also I want to be in the email chain. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org thanks!
Yes email chain-- email@example.com
I am currently a coach at Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart. I debated in high school at Washburn Rural and in college at the University of Kansas.
I am more familiar with policy arguments (plans, da's, cp's, t) than I am k's and un-topical/non-traditional affirmatives.
I prefer debates in which debaters defend well developed, well researched, core of topic arguments. I do not prefer debates in which debaters rely on deception, trickery, or clash-evasion to win. I am very tired of process counterplans.
If you are having fun, I will like judging you. If you look like you are miserable or if you treat your opponents miserably, I am not the judge for you. Being competitive, taking debate seriously, and being focused do not preclude having fun. Being mean doesn't make you good, it makes you unbearable to listen to.
If you debate from your flow (especially if you are flowing on paper) I will probably think you are super cool and talented and good at debate.
General proclivities/pet peeves
Please stop asking for/offering a marked copy. Unless the speech marked multiple cards (like 4+), it is not worth the time to send out the copy. "Marked" does not mean "delete everything you didn't read"
I strongly prefer closed cx and give better points to debaters who are capable of fielding their own cx questions and trust their partners enough to allow them to field their own.
Argumentative narrative is very important to me. Packaging arguments effectively goes a long way with me, regurgitating arguments thoughtlessly does not tend to get a lot of weight in my decisions.
2NC CP's out of add ons are probably legitimate. 2NC CP's out of straight turned DA's are lazy. If you introduced a legitimate opportunity cost to the affirmative, you should be willing to defend it.
I will not evaluate arguments about an individual's character or behavior that occurred outside of the debate. I am an adult and I feel uncomfortable and unwilling to decide the moral worth of individual actions of high schoolers.
Sean Kennedy - Debated at: University of Kansas
Coaching for: University of Kansas and Shawnee Mission South High School
In general I would prefer to judge based upon the perspective presented by the debaters in the debate. Framing issues are very important to me, and I think debaters should make it clear what they believe those issues are through tone, organization, or explicit labeling (ie "this is a framing issue for the debate" or some similar phrase). Embedded clash is fine, but I think that concept carries some limitations - there is only so far that I am willing to stretch my reading of a (negative/affirmative) argument on X page/part of the flow, that does not reference Y (affirmative/negative) argument on another page/part of the flow. Some of my more difficult decisions have revolved around this point, so to avoid any ambiguity debaters should be explicit about how they want arguments to be read within the debate, especially if they intend a particular argument to be direct refutation to a specific opponent argument.
Beyond that I will try to keep as open a mind about arguments as possible - I have enjoyed initiating and responding to a diverse set of arguments during my time as a debater, and I have had both good and bad experiences everywhere across the spectrum, so I think as a judge I am unlikely to decide debates based on my personal feelings about content/style of argument than the quality of execution and in-round performance.
As a caveat to that - I do think that the affirmative has an obligation to respond to the resolution, though I think whether that means/requires a plan, no plan, resolution as a metaphor, etc is up to the debaters to decide during the round. However, I am generally, although certainly not always, persuaded by arguments that the affirmative should have a plan.
I am also willing to believe that there is zero risk or close enough to zero risk of link/impact arguments to vote on defense, should the debate appear to resolve the issue that strongly.
Whether or not I kick a counterplan/alt for the 2nr (what some people call "judge conditionality" or "judge kick") depends on what happens in the debate. I will always favor an explicit argument made by either team on that score over some presumption on my part. I have similar feelings about presumption when there is a counterplan/alt. The reason for this is that although there may be logical reasons for kicking advocacies or evaluating presumption in a certain light, I think that debate as a pedagogical activity is best when it forces debaters to make their choices explicit, rather than forcing the judge to read into a choice that was NOT made or requiring that both teams and the judge have an unspoken agreement about what the logical terms for the debate were (this is probably more obvious and necessary in some cases, ie not being able to answer your own arguments, than I think it is in the case of advocacies).
Please be kind to your competitors and treat their arguments with respect - you don't know where they come from or what their arguments mean to them, and I think this community can only work if we value basic decency towards others as much as much as we do argumentative prowess. In that vein, jokes are good, but I'm certainly much less amused by personal attacks and derision than I am by dry humor or cheekiness.
julian kuffour (any pronouns)
nothing i say has gotten me out of judging my commitment, so i have resigned myself to this brief list of formal preferences.
1. please. go slower than you are going. this is like a win-the-debate level thing in higher level debates. i hardly think about debate unless i'm at a tournament, let alone listen to speeches. i am sleep-deprived and have a short attention span. it's 8a and you've got 55 wiki-mined cards in the doc. for what? literally, have a lay debate for all i care. slower = transcription, faster = paraphrasing; the prior is preferable for both of us. just for transparency, i won't start actively flowing until the 1nc on case in almost every debate (will label the sheets and pay attention) and i won't clear you.
2. i have no problem admitting i have legitimately no idea what you said. this applies in the instance of clarity and what are you even saying. debate is a communicative activity, so if i can't explain your argument meaningfully after the debate, i won't consider it.
3. a silver bullet is a silver bullet. if the whole debate is one thing, that's the whole debate; there's no need to complicate things by extending your speech time or introducing more arguments than necessary. good examples are: your opponent was racist or dropped condo. this also applies to argument selection in debates broadly. in 90% of debates, i'll decide like the second the 2ar ends and wait until it's not rude to give my decision; the reason being that, in 90% of debates, like two or three things actually matter. you are best served identifying those two or three things and hashing it out than: 'they say g subpoint of pre-written extension of backfile impact defense, but YES impact, that was above'.
Director of Forensics, Cal State Northridge
Email speech documents to firstname.lastname@example.org
Any other inquires should go to email@example.com
A. Judging/Coaching History
- Over 19 years of experience judging/coaching competitive debate events; less experience with speech and individual events (5 years)
- Worked with students of all ages: elementary (MSPDP), middle school (MSPDP), high school (policy, LD, public forum), and college (NDT/CEDA, NFA-LD, NPDA, IPDA, CPFL)
B. General Philosophy
1. Do you thing! This activity should center the stylistic proclivities of students, not judges. Full stop. My academic background has taught me reasonable arguments come in a variety of forms, styles, and mediums. I've coached and judged a wide range of styles from very traditional (e.g. topicality, disads, cps, and case), critical (e.g. post-structural/modern/colonial theory), to very non-traditional (e.g. performative/identity/method debate). There are things I like and dislike about every style I've encountered. Do what you do and I'll do my best to keep up.
2. "Inside Baseball" Sucks. These days I mostly judge college policy and high school LD. That means I am unlikely to know most of the acronyms, anecdotes, inside references about other levels of debate and you should probably explain them in MUCH more detail than you would for the average judge.
C. Pedagogical/Competitive Points of Emphasis
1. Importance of Formal Evidence (i.e. "cards"). I once heard a judge tell another competitor, “a card no matter how bad will always beat an analytic no matter how good.” For the sake of civility I will refrain from using this person’s name, but I could not disagree more with this statement. Arguments are claims backed by reasons with support. The nature of appropriate support will depend on the nature of the reason and on the nature of the claim. To the extent that cards are valuable as forms of support in debate it’s because they lend the authority and credibility of an expert to an argument. But there are some arguments where technical expertise is irrelevant. One example might be the field of morality and ethics. If a debater makes a claim about the morality of assisted suicide backed by sound reasoning there is no a priori reason to prefer a card from an ethicist who argues the contrary. People reason in many different ways and arguments that might seem formally or technically valid might be perfectly reasonable in other settings. I generally prefer debates with a good amount of cards because they tend to correlate with research and that is something I think is valuable in and of itself. But all too often teams uses cards as a crutch to supplement the lack of sound reasoning. The takeaway is … If you need to choose between fully explaining yourself and reading a card always choose the former.
2. Burden of Persuasion vs. Burden of Rejoinder One of things that makes policy and LD debate (and perhaps public forum) a fairly unique activity from a policy/legal perspective is our emphasis on the burden of rejoinder. If one competitor says something then the opponent needs to answer it, otherwise the judge treats the argument as gospel. Debaters might think their judges aren't as attentive to the flow as they would like, but ask any litigator if trial judges care in the least whether the other attorney answered their arguments effectively. Emphasizing the burden of rejoinder is a way of respecting the voice and arguments of the students who spend their valuable time competing in this activity. But like everything else in debate there are affordances as well as constraints in emphasizing the burden of rejoinder. Personally, I think our activity has placed so much emphasis on the burden of rejoinder that we have lost almost all emphasis on the burden of persuasion. I can’t count the number of rounds I have participated in (as a debater and as a judge) where the vast majority of the claims made in the debate were absolutely implausible. The average politics disad is so contrived that it's laughable. Teams string together dozens of improbable internal link chains and treat them as if they were a cohesive whole. Truth be told, the probability of the average “big stick” advantage/disad is less than 1% and that’s just real talk. This practice is so ubiquitous because we place such a heavy emphasis on the burden of rejoinder. Fast teams read a disad that was never very probable to begin with and because the 2AC is not fast enough to poke holes in every layer of the disad the judge treats those internal links as conceded (and thus 100% probable). Somehow, through no work of their own the neg’s disad went from being a steaming pile of non-sense to a more or less perfectly reasonable description of reality. I don't think this norm serves our students very well. But it is so ingrained in the training of most debates and coaches (more so the coaches than the debaters actually) that it’s sustained by inertia. The takeaway is… that when i judge, I try (imperfectly to be sure) to balance my expectations that students meet both the burden of rejoinder and the burden of persuasion. Does this require judge intervention? Perhaps, to some degree, but isn't that what it means to “allow ones self to be persuaded?” To be clear, I do not think it is my job to be the sole arbiter of whether a claim was true or false, probable or unlikely, significant or insignificant. I do think about these things constantly though and i think it is both impossible and undesirable for me to ignore those thoughts in the moment of decision. It would behoove anyone I judge to take this into account and actively argue in favor of a particular balance between the burdens or rejoinder and persuasion in a particular round.
3. The Role of the Ballot/Purpose of the Activity/Non-Traditional Debate. The first thing I want to say isn’t actually a part of my philosophy on judging debates as much as it is an observation about debates I have watched and judged. I can’t count the number of rounds I have watched where a debater says something akin to, “Debate is fundamentally X,” or “the role of the ballot is X.” This is not a criticism. These debaters are astute and clearly understand that defining the nature and purpose of the activity is an extremely useful (often essential)tool for winning debates. That said, in truth, debate is both everything and nothing and the role of the ballot is multiple. Asserting the "purpose of debate" or "the role of the ballot" is essentially a meaningless utterance in my opinion. Arguing in favor "a particular purpose of debate” or “a particular role of the ballot” in a given round requires reasons and support. Policy debate could be conceived as a training ground for concerned citizens to learn how to feel and think about particular policies that could be enacted by their government. Policy debate could also be conceived as a space students to voice their dissatisfaction with the actions or inactions of the governments that claim to represent them through various forms of performance. Excellent debaters understand policy debate is a cultural resource filled with potential and possibility. Rather than stubbornly clinging to dogmatic axioms, these debaters take a measured approach that recognizes the affordances and constraints contained within competing visions of "the purpose of debate" or the "role of the ballot” and debate the issue like they would any other. The problem is assessing the affordances and constraints of different visions requires a sober assessment of what it is we do here. Most debaters are content to assert, “the most educational model of debate is X,” or the “most competitive model of debate is Y.” Both of these approaches miss the boat because they willfully ignore other aspects of the activity. Debates should probably be educational. What we learn and why is (like everything else) up for debate, but it’s hard to argue we shouldn’t be learning something from the activity. Fairness in a vacuum is a coin-flip and that’s hardly worth our time. On the other hand, probably isn’t a purely educational enterprise. Debate isn’t school. If it were students wouldn’t be so excited about doing debate work that they ignore their school work. The competitive aspects of the activity are important and can’t be ignored or disregarded lightly. How fair things have to be and which arguments teams are entitled to make are up for debate, but I think we need to respect some constraints lest we confuse all discourse for argument. The phrase “debate is a game/the content is irrelevant” probably won’t get you very far, but that’s because games are silly and unimportant by definition. But there are lots of contests that are very important were fairness is paramount (e.g. elections, academic publishing, trials). Rather than assert the same banal lines from recycled framework blocks, excellent debaters will try to draw analogies between policy debate and other activities that matter and where fairness is non-negotiable. So the takeaway is … I generally think the topic exists for a reason and the aff has to tie their advocacy to the topic, although I am open to arguments to the contrary. I tend to think of things in terms of options and alternatives. So even if topicality is a necessarily flawed system that privileges some voices over others, I tend to ask myself what the alternative to reading topicality would be. Comparison of impacts, alternatives, options, is always preferable to blanket statements like “T = genocidal” or “non-traditional aff’s are impossible to research.”
4. Theory Debates (i.e. Debates about Debate Itself) I have a relatively high threshold for theory arguments, but I am not one of those judges that thinks the neg teams gets to do whatever they want. You can win theory debates with me in the back, but it probably isn’t your best shot. As a general rule (though not universal) I think that if you didn’t have to do research for an argument, you don’t learn anything by running it. I have VERY high threshold for negative theory arguments that are not called topicality. It doesn’t mean I wont vote on these arguments if the aff teams makes huge errors, but a person going for one of these argument would look so silly that it would be hard to give them anything about a 28.
Affiliations and History:
Please email (firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com) me all of the speeches before you begin.
I am the Director of Debate at Damien High School in La Verne, CA.
I was the Director of Debate for Hebron High School in Carrollton, TX from 2020-2021.
I was an Assistant Coach at Damien from 2017-2020.
I debated on the national circuit for Damien from 2009-2013.
I graduated from Occidental College in Los Angeles with a BA in Critical Theory and Social Justice.
I completed my Master's degree in Social Justice in Higher Education Administration at The University of La Verne.
My academic work involves critical university studies, Georges Bataille, poetics, and post-colonialism.
Author of Suburba(in)e Surrealism (2021).
Yearly Round Numbers:
I try to judge a fair bit each year.
NATO Topic Round Count: 75
I have judged over 50 rounds on the Water Topic.
I judged around 40 rounds on the CJR topic.
I judged 29 rounds on the Arms topic (2019-2020) (not including practice rounds without a decision rendered).
I judged a bit of LD (32 debates) on the Jan-Feb Topic (nuke disarm) in '19/'20.
I judged around 25 debates on the Immigration topic (2018-2019) on the national circuit.
I judged around 50 rounds on the Education topic (2017-2018) on the national circuit.
LD Protocol:I have a 100% record voting against teams that only read Phil args/Phil v. Policy debates. Adapt or lose.
NDT Protocol: I will rarely have any familiarity with the current college topic and will usually only judge 12-15 rounds pre-NDT.
Please make your T and CP acronyms understandable.
Front Matter Elements:
If you need an accommodation of any kind, please email me before the round starts.
I want everyone to feel safe and able to debate- this is my number one priority as a judge.
I don't run prep time while you email the speech doc. Put the whole speech into one speech doc.
I flow 1AC impact framing, inherency, and solvency straight down on the same page nowadays.
Speed is not an issue for me, but I will ask you to slow down (CLEAR) if you are needlessly sacrificing clarity for quantity--especially if you are reading T or theory arguments.
I will not evaluate evidence identifiable as being produced by software, bots, algorithms etc. Human involvement in the card’s production must be evident unique to the team, individual, and card. This means that evidence you directly take from open source must be re-highlighted at a minimum. You should change the tags and underlining anyways to better fit with your argument’s coherency.
I privilege technical debating and the flow. I try to get as much down as I possibly can and the little that I miss usually is a result of a lack of clarity on the part of the speaker or because the actual causal chain of the idea does not make consistent sense for me (I usually express this on my face). Your technical skill should make me believe/be able to determine that your argument is the truth. That means warrants. Explain them, impact them, and don't make me fish for them in the un-underlined portion of the six paragraph card that your coach cut for you at a camp you weren't attending. I find myself more and more dissatisfied with debating that operates only on the link claim level. I tend to take a formal, academic approach to the evaluation of ideas, so discussions of source, author intentions and 'true' meaning, and citation are both important to me and something that I hope to see in more debates.
The best debates for me to judge are ones where the last few rebuttals focus on giving me instructions on what the core controversies of the round are, how to evaluate them, and what mode of thinking I should apply to the flow as a history of the round. This means that I'm not going to do things unless you tell me to do them on the flow (judge kick, theory 'traps' etc.). When instructions are not provided or articulated, I will tend to use (what I consider to be) basic, causal logic (i.e. judicial notice) to find connections, contradictions, and gaps/absences. Sometimes this happens on my face--you should be paying attention to the physical impact of the content of your speech act.
I believe in the importance of topicality and theory. No affs are topical until proven otherwise.
Non-impacted theory arguments don't go a long way for me; establish a warranted theory argument that when dropped will make me auto-vote for you. This is not an invitation for arbitrary and non-educational theory arguments being read in front of me, but if you are going to read no neg fiat (for example), then you better understand (and be able to explain to me) the history of the argument and why it is important for the debate and the community.
Reading evidence only happens if you do not make the debate legible and winnable at the level of argument (which is the only reason I would have to defer to evidentiary details).
I find framework to be a boring/unhelpful/poorly debated style of argument on both sides. I want to hear about the ballot-- what is it, what is its role, and what are your warrants for it (especially why your warrants matter!). I want to know what kind of individual you think the judge is (academic, analyst, intellectual etc.). I want to hear about the debate community and the round's relationship within it. These are the most salient questions in a framework debate for me. If you are conducting a performance in the round and/or debate space, you need to have specific, solvable, and demonstrable actions, results, and evidences of success. These are the questions we have to be thinking about in substantial and concrete terms if we are really thinking about them with any authenticity/honesty/care (sorge). I do not think the act of reading FW is necessarily constitutive of a violent act. You can try to convince me of this, but I do start from the position that FW is an argument about what the affirmative should do in the 1AC.
If you are going to go for Fairness, then you need a metric. Not just a caselist, not just a hypothetical ground dispensation, but a functional method to measure the idea of fairness in the round/outside the round i.e. why are the internal components (ground, caselist, etc.) a good representation of a team's burden and what do these components do for individuals/why does that matter. I am not sure what that metric/method is, but my job is not to create it for you. A framework debate that talks about competing theories for how fairness/education should be structured and analyzed will make me very happy i.e. engaging the warrants that constitute ideas of procedural/structural fairness and critical education. Subject formation has really come into vogue as a key element for teams and honestly rare is the debate where people engage the questions meaningfully--keep that in mind if you go for subject formation args in front of me.
In-round Performance and Speaker Points:
An easy way to get better speaker points in front of me is by showing me that you actually understand how the debate is going, the arguments involved, and the path to victory. Every debater has their own style of doing this (humor, time allocation, etc.), but I will not compromise detailed, content-based analysis for the ballot.
I believe that there is a case for in-round violence/damage winning the ballot. Folks need to be considerate of their behavior and language. You should be doing this all of the time anyways.
While I believe that high school students should not be held to a standard of intellectual purity with critical literature, I do expect you to know the body of scholarship that your K revolves around: For example, if you are reading a capitalism K, you should know who Marx, Engels, and Gramsci are; if you are reading a feminism k, you should know what school of feminism (second wave, psychoanalytic, WOC, etc.) your author belongs to. If you try and make things up about the historical aspects/philosophical links of your K, I will reflect my unhappiness in your speaker points and probably not give you much leeway on your link/alt analysis. I will often have a more in-depth discussion with you about the K after the round, so please understand that my post-round comments are designed to be educational and informative, instead of determining your quality/capability as a debater.
I am 100% DONE with teams not showing up on time to disclose. A handful of minutes or so late is different than showing up 3-5 min before the round begins. Punish these folks with disclosure theory and my ears will be open.
CX ends when the timer rings. I will put my fingers in my ears if you do not understand this. I deeply dislike the trend of debaters asking questions about 'did you read X card etc.' in cross-x and I believe this contributes to the decline of flowing skills in debate. While I have not established a metric for how many speaker points an individual will lose each time they say that phrase, know that it is something on my mind. I will not allow questions outside of cross-x outside of core procedural things ('can you give the order again?,' 'everyone ready?' etc.). Asking 'did you read X card' or 'theoretical reasons to reject the team' outside of CX are NOT 'core procedural things.'
Do not read these types of arguments in front of me:
Arguments that directly call an individual's humanity into account
Arguments based in directly insulting your opponents
Arguments that you do not understand
Woodward Academy 22'
Tufts University 26'
Debating with Harvard as Harvard/Tufts KL and Tufts LS
Last Updated: 03/24/2023
Please add me to the email chain: firstname.lastname@example.org
Have fun, be respectful, and make the most of your debates.
Be clear, have clash, and compare and contextualize your arguments.
Feel free to email or ask me directly if you have any questions!
It's especially important that you focus on clarity for online debates. Speak a bit slower and have organized line by line.
Please also send out a speech document and analytics.
Ultimately, you do you, but explain your arguments clearly and why they mean that you should win the debate. This requires clear line by line, warranted claims, comparison with your opponent's arguments, and judge instruction.
Contextualizing links and doing impact calc goes a long way.
Evidence quality is important. If you point out specific evidence and explain why it is better than your opponent's, I will read it.
Conduct your own cross-ex as much as possible and try to minimize speaking over each other. Also, try to use cross-ex strategically to bolster your position.
Please do not hide ASPEC.
Please do not read positions like "death good" in front of me.
Dan Lingel Jesuit College Prep—Dallas
email@example.com for email chain purposes
firstname.lastname@example.org for school contact
Updated for 2021-2022 topic
28 years of high school coaching/6 years of college coaching
I will either judge or help in the tabroom at over 20+ tournaments
****read here first*****
I still really love to judge and I enjoy judging quick clear confident comparative passionate advocates that use qualified and structured argument and evidence to prove their arguments. I expect you to respect the game and the people that are playing it in every moment we are interacting.
***I believe that framing/labeling arguments and paper flowing is crucial to success in debate and maybe life so I will start your speaker points absurdly high and work my way up if you acknowledge and represent these elements: label your arguments (even use numbers and structure) and can demonstrate that you flowed the entire debate and that you used your flow to give your speeches and in particular demonstrate that you used your flow to actually clash with the other teams arguments directly.
Some things that influence my decision making process
1. Debate is first and foremost a persuasive activity that asks both teams to advocate something. Defend an advocacy/method and defend it with evidence and compare your advocacy/method to the advocacy of the other team. I understand that there are many ways to advocate and support your advocacy so be sure that you can defend your choices. I do prefer that the topic is an access point for your advocacy.
2. The negative should always have the option of defending the status quo (in other words, I assume the existence of some conditionality) unless argued otherwise.
3. The net benefits to a counterplan must be a reason to reject the affirmative advocacy (plan, both the plan and counterplan together, and/or the perm) not just be an advantage to the counterplan.
4. I enjoy a good link narrative since it is a critical component of all arguments in the arsenal—everything starts with the link. I think the negative should mention the specifics of the affirmative plan in their link narratives. A good link narrative is a combination of evidence, analytical arguments, and narrative.
5. Be sure to assess the uniqueness of offensive arguments using the arguments in the debate and the status quo. This is an area that is often left for judge intervention and I will.
6. I am not the biggest fan of topicality debates unless the interpretation is grounded by clear evidence and provides a version of the topic that will produce the best debates—those interpretations definitely exist this year. Generally speaking, I can be persuaded by potential for abuse arguments on topicality as they relate to other standards because I think in round abuse can be manufactured by a strategic negative team.
7. I believe that the links to the plan, the impact narratives, the interaction between the alternative and the affirmative harm, and/or the role of the ballot should be discussed more in most kritik debates. The more case and topic specific your kritik the more I enjoy the debate.
8. There has been a proliferation of theory arguments and decision rules, which has diluted the value of each. The impact to theory is rarely debating beyond trite phrases and catch words. My default is to reject the argument not the team on theory issues unless it is argued otherwise.
9. Speaker points--If you are not preferring me you are using old data and old perceptions. It is easy to get me to give very high points. Here is the method to my madness on this so do not be deterred just adapt. I award speaker points based on the following: strategic and argumentative decision-making, the challenge presented by the context of the debate, technical proficiency, persuasive personal and argumentative style, your use of the cross examination periods, and the overall enjoyment level of your speeches and the debate. If you devalue the nature of the game or its players or choose not to engage in either asking or answering questions, your speaker points will be impacted. If you turn me into a mere information processor then your points will be impacted. If you choose artificially created efficiency claims instead of making complete and persuasive arguments that relate to an actual victory path then your points will be impacted.
10. I believe in the value of debate as the greatest pedagogical tool on the planet. Reaching the highest levels of debate requires mastery of arguments from many disciplines including communication, argumentation, politics, philosophy, economics, and sociology to name a just a few. The organizational, research, persuasion and critical thinking skills are sought by every would-be admission counselor and employer. Throw in the competitive part and you have one wicked game. I have spent over twenty five years playing it at every level and from every angle and I try to make myself a better player everyday and through every interaction I have. I think that you can learn from everyone in the activity how to play the debate game better. The world needs debate and advocates/policymakers more now than at any other point in history. I believe that the debates that we have now can and will influence real people and institutions now and in the future—empirically it has happened. I believe that this passion influences how I coach and judge debates.
Logistical Notes--I prefer an email chain with me included whenever possible. I feel that each team should have accurate and equal access to the evidence that is read in the debate. I have noticed several things that worry me in debates. People have stopped flowing and paying attention to the flow and line-by-line which is really impacting my decision making; people are exchanging more evidence than is actually being read without concern for the other team, people are under highlighting their evidence and "making cards" out of large amounts of text, and the amount of prep time taken exchanging the information is becoming excessive. I reserve the right to request a copy of all things exchanged as verification. If three cards or less are being read in the speech then I prefer that the exchange in evidence occur after the speech. I don't understand why people exchange paperless speeches that do not contain evidence.
tldr do what you do best; claims, warrants, and impacts are necessary; weighing & judge instruction tip the scales in your favor; i care about argument engagement not argument style; stay hydrated & be a good person.
I’ve bolded what you need to skim preround. Table of contents below for phrases you can ctrl+f to get to a specific portion of the paradigm. There’s also a ctrl+f section for opinions on specific arguments. My argumentative opinions are pretty much the same across all events. The last substantive change to this paradigm was February-ish of 2023; any changes since then have been for clarity/formatting. Feel free to email me if you have any questions.
Here's a table of contents - you can ctrl+f any of these phrases to get to a certain portion of the paradigm - i understand that this whole paradigm is unreasonably long to read pre-round --
-"actual paradigm/explanation of my thoughts and feelings about debate"
-"some general notes"
-"miscellaneous odds n ends"
-"opinions on specific positions (ctrl+f section)"
within the specific positions section, here are the labels for each position, so you can ctrl+f for those if you want: "case", "planless affs", "t/framework vs planless affs", "theory", "topicality (not framework)", "tricks", "kritiks (neg)", "disads", "counterplans", and "traditional debate".
-"arguments i will never vote for"
Hi! I'm Nethmin! I use she/her pronouns!
The Hill School ’20, Pitzer College ’24 (double majoring in cs-math and economics).
I coach policy at Damien High School and I coach a few LDers independently. I've coached both sides of almost every style of argument.
My strongest belief about argumentation is that argument engagement is good - I don't care what styles of arguments teams read in front of me, but I'd prefer if both teams engaged with their opponents' arguments; I don't enjoy teams who avoid clash (regardless of the style of argument they are reading). I would consider myself to be competent at evaluating whatever debate you want to have. My debate history should not dictate what you read in your round. I think people should stop treating debate as their immortality project and let the students in the activity do what they want.
ideological flexibility is what i value most in debate. judges who hack against k teams and judges who hack against policy teams are equally objectionable to me, all else equal. i do not believe that the arguments a team reads are a reflection of how good/bad of a person they are (except, of course, cases where people do/say things that are egregious). i try to be someone who will vote on any argument as long as it's not delivered in a way that's morally abhorrent (bullying your opponent = bad) and it meets the minimum standards to be considered a complete argument (claim, warrant, impact).
General note about reading my paradigm - most things are phrased in terms of policy debate structure & norms (2nr/2ar being 5 minutes, "team" instead of "debater," "planless aff" = "non-t k aff," etc). If I'm judging you in LD and you have questions about how something translates to LD, feel free to ask!
email@example.com for LD rounds (you can also use this email to contact me if you need anything)
firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com for CX rounds (please add both!)
Please have the email chain set up by the time the round is supposed to start - don't wait for me to be in the room. I'm always coaching at tournaments, so I likely won't be in the room for the round I'm judging until the time when the round is starting. Set up the chain beforehand, feel free to wait until I'm there to send it out.
actual paradigm/explanations of my thoughts and feelings about debate:
All of my deal-breakers/hard and fast rules/moments of "I won't vote on this" are dependent on four things:
1 - protecting the safety of the participants in the round (no harrassment, no physical violence, etc).
2 - voting for things that meet the minimum standard to be considered an argument (claim, warrant, impact).
3 - rules set forth by the tournament (speech times, one team wins and one team loses, I have to enter my own ballot, etc).
4 - i will only evaluate the debate after the end of the 2ar. this is 0% negotiable. i did not think i would have to say this, but i guess i do.
I'll vote for whichever team wins the line-by-line. It would be nearly impossible to change my mind on this absent something egregious and very out-of-the-norm occurring in-round.
I don't care what style of argument you read. My voting record is roughly 50-50 on most major debate controversies (yes, even planless affs vs framework). As long as your argument doesn't violate the above four criteria, go for it! I have far fewer set-in-stone debate opinions than most coaches/judges.
I think that warrants are hard to come by in many debate rounds these days, even ones with “good” teams. Err on the side of a little too much explanation, because if your arg is warrantless, you will be ballotless. Extensions need to include warrants, not just taglines.
Independent voters need warrants and an articulation of why they should be evaluated before everything else.These debates could generally benefit from more judge instruction and weighing. Simply calling something an independent voter doesn’t mean I vote for you if you extend it.
Some general notes
Policy stuff: I tend to be a good judge for policy teams that read high-quality evidence, are able to explain/contextualize their args against a variety of different positions, and have a good understanding of the topic. I tend to be a worse judge for policy teams that don't do the above, and/or rely on judges to do a substantial amount of work for them. I'm fairly familiar with the topic; the amount of explanation you need to do on acronyms/topic-specific intricacies is inversely proportional to how mainstream/close to the core of the topic the argument/concept is.
K stuff: I tend to be a good judge for K teams that are technical, good at argument engagement/comparative analysis, and understand how their criticism interacts with the core of the topic. I tend to be a worse judge for K teams aren't able to adjust their level of explanation to cater to judges who don't exclusively research/coach their criticism of choice - this isn't because I want to vote against them, I just need to understand what they want me to vote for.
Framing and judge instruction are important. Your speeches should tell me how the arguments in the round interact with each other. Most rounds where a team is unhappy with my decision are rounds where that team failed to weigh, compare args, and give judge instruction. Write my ballot for me in the 2nr/2ar!
Trad team vs circuit team -- I don’t think it’s anyone’s burden to shift their style of debate to accommodate anyone else. I do think it is the burden of both teams to respect all styles of debate and not be rude or condescending. You should each debate how you debate best and I will evaluate the round you give me. Both teams should engage each others' arguments.
Speed/clarity – I will say clear up to two times per speech before just doing my best to flow you. I can handle a decent amount of speed. Going slower on analytics is a good idea. You should account for pen time/scroll time - it takes time for me to find the place on the flow where you want me to flow a certain arg. It's generally more efficient to handle arguments in the order they were on the flow, or at least try to jump around as little as possible. Also, I think that debaters being able to slow/clear the other team is key to accessibility, please be accommodating. I trust that all participants in the round will request and respond to accessibility-related accommodations in good faith; I have no interest in policing who "needs" accommodations, I just want everyone to be able to engage in the round.
Online debate -- 1] please record your speeches, if there are tech issues, I'll listen to a recording of the speech, but not a re-do. 2] debate's still about communication - please watch for nonverbals, listen for people saying "clear," etc.
Speaker points are dependent on strategy, execution, clarity, and overall engagement in the round. Things like not being able to answer the majority of the questions during your cx will negatively impact your points, as will going for messy, confusing, and uphill 2nrs/2ars when there were easier and cleaner routes to the ballot.
Speaker points are scaled to the tournament. A 30 at an abysmal finals bid with 10 entries and a cow as a potential bid round opponent is different from a 30 at Glenbrooks or MBA. I'll be a bit more generous with points at tournaments where there's a 4-2 screw (or another similar consideration). I try to only give 30s to debaters that I think meet a decent standard of being technically proficient and argumentatively adept - even if I think you'll win the Online Nonsense Classic, I'll probably not give you a 30 unless I think you could hold your own at a tournament that is at least semi-competitive.
I try to give points as follows:
30: you're a strong contender to win the tournament & this round was genuinely impressive
29.5+: late elims, many moments of good decisionmaking & argumentative understanding, adapted well to in-round pivots
29+: you'll clear for sure, generally good strat & round vision, a few things could've been more refined
28.5+: likely to clear but not guaranteed, there are some key errors that you should fix
28+: even record, probably losing in the 3-2 round
27.5+: winning less than 50% of your rounds, key technical/strategic errors
27+: winning less than 50% of your rounds, multiple notable technical/strategic errors
26+: errors that indicated a fundamental lack of preparation for the rigor/style of this tournament
25-: you did something really bad/offensive/unsafe.
This scale is based purely on argumentation/in-round strategy. I definitely give extra points if you do things that are listed below in the section for how to improve your speaker points.
I think that I give fairly average points when compared to other judges in the policy community. I try not to contribute to point inflation. I scale points to the tournament to attempt to find a balance between rewarding good/flexible/consistent teams and not punishing teams for the nature of the tournament. The "bonus points" for things that make debate better will likely mitigate my giving "bad points," if that's something you think I do.
Things that you can do to improve your speaker points:
-debate well, be clear, and win decisively (this will always be the primary factor i consider when awarding points)
-be kind! make the round more enjoyable and be kind to your opponents, partner, and judges! i hate being in debate rounds that feel like divorce court!
-be accessible and accommodating. be nice about tech issues, be nice to newer teams, be considerate of accessibility requests, check tab postings/the wiki for pronouns, etc.
-adapt to things that happen in-round. adjust to judges saying "clear," watch for nonverbal reactions/visible confusion, and engage with args.
-disclose! go to the room after pairings to disclose the aff/past 2nrs. if you think you've disclosed particularly well (contact info, open source with highlighting, cite boxes w/ position names as the citation names, disclosing on your team wiki), let me know, and if i agree that you've disclosed well, i'll boost your speaks a bit!
Things that will actively get you bad speaks:
-discrimination of any sort (racism, sexism, antisemitism, homophobia, transphobia, etc), bullying, egregious misgendering (issues of discrimination also get you a fun talking-to and an email to your coach).
-misdisclosure/lying about disclosure. if you won't disclose, just say that! don't lie/purposefully be sketchy. there's obviously a difference between forgetting something minor (oops, sorry, forgot we have a few new solvency cards) and intentional/malicious lying (fully telling someone the wrong aff).
-unnecessarily rude/disruptive behavior during the other team's speeches. occasionally looking confused during speeches is just a normal reaction - i don't think anyone understands 100% of the arguments that exist in debate. however, constantly shaking your head, laughing during speeches, being really loud when talking to your partner during speeches, etc. are just not necessary!
-ad-homs & asking me to evaluate things that happened outside of the debate & making the debate about someone's personal life.
the notable exception to this is disclosure - this is pretty much the only out-of-round event that i'm fine evaluating debates about.
i don't want to evaluate callouts/judgments about your opponents' coach(es)/interpersonal incidents that occurred. if there is an issue you'd like me to address, tell me before the round and i'll do my best to handle it in a way that makes you comfortable + informs the relevant entities (coaches, tabroom, etc). this isn't to say that i believe problematic/unsafe members of the community don't deserve punishment, but rather, i don't think the way to go about it is to let 4 minors debate it out for 2 hours and then submit a ballot.
-attempts to avoid argument engagement/clash. examples include "you can't answer the k because you're not x identity," "neg must concede aff framing mechanism," "no neg fiat," and other similar strategies.
Miscellaneous odds n ends that didn't really fit in other sections of the paradigm:
1 -- I'm increasingly unconvinced by cards cut from articles written by debate coaches. This is not directed at any one specific person or style of argument. I'm not saying you can't make certain arguments, but I am saying that you should probably find actual academic literature that makes the argument. If there is only one person you can find who says the thing you want them to say, and that person is a debate coach, you should think about why the only person saying what you need them to say is a person who has a vested competitive interest in the thing they're saying being perceived as true. Do with this info what you will.
2 -- I would really strongly prefer that trigger warnings/content warnings/accessibility requests are decided pre-round as opposed to mid-round/by reading a procedural. I'm happy to help facilitate anything that's needed in order to ensure that both teams can engage equitably in the round. I'll still evaluate these debates if they come down to a theory debate, I'll just be not super happy.
3 -- The debate people that I spend a fair amount of time with are Tim Lewis, Chris Paredes, Zoe Rosenberg, Jared Burke, Aly Sawyer, Sam McLoughlin, and Eva Lamberson. This is quite a salad of people, and I don't even know if this info is helpful, but I figured I'd include it in case you're curious. This also doesn't mean that I agree with all of their opinions, but I do talk about debate with them a fair amount, so they've likely shaped how I think about debate as well as how I deliver RFDs. It's worth noting that I coach with the first four people on this list (Tim, Chris, Zoe, and Jared).
Opinions on Specific Positions (ctrl+f section):
I think that negatives that don't engage with the 1ac are putting themselves in a bad position. This is true for both K debates and policy debates.
Extensions should involve warrants, not just tagline extensions - I'm willing to give some amount of leeway for the 1ar/2ar extrapolating a warrant that wasn't the focal point of the 2ac, but I should be able to tell from your extensions what the scenario is, what the internal links are, and why you solve.
I've been on both sides of the planless aff debate, and my strongest opinion about planless affs is that you need to be able to explain what your aff does/why it's good.
I tend to dislike planless affs where the strategy is to make the aff seem like a word salad until after 2ac cx and then give the aff a bunch of new (and not super well-warranted) implications in the 1ar. I tend to be much better for planless aff teams when they're straight-up about what they do/don't defend, they use their aff strategically, engage with neg arguments, and make smart 1ar & 2ar decisions with good ballot analysis.
T/framework vs planless affs:
I'm roughly 50-50 in these debates. I don't have a strong preference for how framework teams engage in these debates other than that you should be respectful when discussing sensitive material- "colonization didn't happen" is probably not the best strategy.
I think that TVAs can be more helpful than teams realize. While having a TVA isn't always necessary, winning a TVA provides substantial defense on many of the aff's exclusion arguments.
I don't have a preference on whether your chosen 2nr is skills or fairness (or something else). I think that both options have strategic value based on the round you're in. Framework teams almost always get better points in front of me when they are able to contextualize their arguments to their opponents' strategy - 2nrs that answer impact turns, make framing arguments, win the internal link to the aff's impacts, and generally are in control of the debate are much more enjoyable to evaluate than 2nrs that give me a generic extension of the framework offense that they're winning and then leave it up to me to weigh between their offense and their opponents' offense.
I also don't have a preference between the aff going for impact turns or going for a counterinterp. The strategic value of this is dependent on how topical/non-topical your aff is. If your counterinterp can plausibly solve the core of the negative's offense, going for the ci will make more sense than if the aff doesn't say a word about the topic. The "no-topic-words-in-aff" teams will likely be more successful going for impact turns purely because the counterinterp will likely link to the neg's disads to the aff's model. This isn't to say that I'm opposed to mostly-topical affs going for impact turns or fully-non-t affs going for a counterinterp; just make sure you're able to adequately warrant what you're going for.
The less frivolous your theory argument, the better I am for it. I am infinitely better for condo debates than I am for "must spec what state you're from," or whatever's cool these days. This isn't to say I have any super strong opinions about condo, but rather, I have rarely been able to find a warranted & convincing ballot story in rounds where theory arguments are unbearably frivolous.
I've noticed a trend in the policy community where a lot of theory debates tend to be resolved based on a judge's pre-existing biases/opinions regarding what is/isn't theoretically legitimate. I don't think I have any theory opinions that are so strong that I'd intervene/hack for a certain argument because of my opinions. If you can win that there's a violation, a reason your interp is good (and better than your opponent's interp), and a clear internal link to an impact, I'll vote for you.
Please weigh! It's not nearly as intuitive to make a decision in theory debates - I can fill in the gaps for why extinction is more impactful than localized war more easily than I can fill in the gaps for why neg flex matters more/less than research burdens.
Theory defaults: competing interps, drop the debater.
My defaults on RVIs: absent a "no RVIs" arg being made & won, I'll assume that RVIs are theoretically legitimate/I'll evaluate an RVI if it's made. This doesn't mean I'll insert an RVI if it's not made. I don't have a particularly strong opinion in either direction on the yes/no RVIs debate.
Topicality (not framework):
Same defaults as theory.
I like T debates that have robust and contextualized definitions of the relevant words/phrases/entities in the resolution. Negative teams that can clearly explain what their model includes/excludes and provide tangible examples of their abuse story are great! Negative teams whose arguments devolve into some flavor of "well i guess the aff doesn't feeeeeel topical" with no clear explanation of what is/isn't T are often better served going for different arguments. Have a clear explanation of what your interpretation is/isn't; examples/caselists are your friend.
Grammar-based topicality arguments: I don't find most of the grammar arguments being made these days to be very intuitive. This isn't to say that you shouldn't go for these args in front of me (I actually find myself voting for them a non-zero amount) but rather, that you should explain/warrant them more than you would in front of a judge who loves those arguments more than anything.
Tricks (this is mostly an LD thing):
I used to say that I would never vote on tricks. I've decided it's bad to exclude a style of argumentation just because I don't enjoy it. Here are some things to know if you're reading tricks in front of me:
1 - I won't flow off the doc (I never flow off the doc, but I won't be checking the doc to see if I missed any of your tricks/spikes)
2 - The argument has to have a warrant in the speech it is presented
3 - The reason I've been so opposed to voting on tricks in the past is that I've never heard a trick that met the minimum threshold to be considered an argument (claim, warrant, impact)
I value the explanation that you do in the round and the actual parts of the evidence you read, and I will not give you credit for the other musings/opinions/theories that I’m sure your author has.
I tend to like K teams that engage with the aff and have a clear analysis of what's wrong with the aff's model/framing/epistemology/etc. I tend to be a bit annoyed when judging K teams that read word-salad or author-salad Ks, refuse to engage with arguments, expect me to fill in massive gaps for them, don't do adequate weighing/ballot analysis/judge instruction, or are actively hostile toward their opponents. The more of the aforementioned things you do, the more annoyed I'll be. The inverse is also true - the more you actively work to ensure that you don't do these things, the happier I'll be! I love judging good K teams; I less-than-love judging K teams that want to run from clash/argument engagement.
Zero risk probably doesn't exist, but very-close-to-zero risk probably does. Teams that answer their opponents' warrants instead of reading generic defense tend to fare better in close rounds. Good evidence tends to matter more in these debates - I'd rather judge a round with 2 great cards + debaters explaining their cards than a round with 10 horrible cards + debaters asking me to interpret their dumpster-quality cards for them.
I don't have strong ideological biases about how many condo advocacies the neg gets or what kinds of counterplans are/aren't cheating. More egregious abuse = easier to persuade me on theory; the issue I usually see in theory debates is a lack of warranting for why the neg's model was uniquely abusive - specific analysis > generic args + no explanation.
Judge kick - you've gotta tell me to do it. I'm not opposed to it, but I won't assume that you want me to unless the 2nr tells me to. No strong opinions for/against judge kick.
I tend to think that counterplans need to have a text that is written out in a speech doc and emailed to all participants in the round PRIOR to the speech in which it's read. There's something that feels sketchy about letting teams type out a text to send out after the 1nc (or even worse, after 1nc cx).
Arguments I will NEVER vote for:
-arguments that are actively discriminatory or make the round unsafe ("misgendering good," "let's make the debate about a minor's personal life," other stuff of that nature).
-any argument that attempts to police what a debater wears or how they present (this includes shoes theory/formal clothes theory).
-any argument that denies the existence/badness of oppression (i don't mean i won't vote for "extinction outweighs." i mean i won't vote for "genocide good.")
if there's anything i didn't mention or you have any questions, feel free to email me! if there's anything i can do to make debate more accessible for you, let me know! i really love debate and i coach because i want to make debate/the community a better place; please don't hesitate to reach out if there's anything you need.
Affiliations: downtown magnets high school & Cal debate
For the most part I decide the debate through tech over truth. The baseline for speaker points is 28.5. Please don’t say anything racism, sexist, homophobic, ect…
Kaffs: I tend to think that having a strong link to the topic is better and more persuasive. If you want to run a kaff that doesn’t have a link then it would be best to give me reason for why that is important. Especially for the theory of power it is important to me that you explain the warrants behind the claims that you make.
Framework: You should definitely run it and I tend to think that whoever has a better articulation of their impacts tends to win the framework debate. I default that procedural fairness is an internal link to education but can be convinced otherwise. Giving examples when it comes to debating limits and grounds is especially key for me and for my emulation if the aff does explode limits. You should spend time and flush out your arguments beyond light extensions of the 1nc.
T: I tend to default to which interpretation creates better resolutional debates however can be convinced otherwise. An important note here is that a lot of teams should spend more time comparing impacts and giving me reasons why their model of debate is better than only focusing on standards.
DA/CP: Having great evidence is cool but you should spend more time impacting out why it matters. Oftentimes I think that there should be more work done on the internal links of your scenarios or explaining the process of the CP.
Have fun and do what you do best! :)
Director of Debate at WSU
Yes I want to be on the speech doc. firstname.lastname@example.org
I’ll talk about some more specific proclivities that may be useful for your strike-sheet since, if you are reading this, you’re probably filling it out.
Speaker points/CX: I believe that debaters give 4 “speeches” in a debate: C, R, CX, and Being CXed. My speaker points are based on all 4. If you don’t answer/ask a CX question, your speaker points will suffer dramatically. If you’re an jerk or don’t answer simple questions or are simply obstructionist, speaker points suffer. Don’t neglect CX. I will diligently flow cross-examination but if you take prep to ask questions, I consider it to not be part of the debate. Don't be offended if I leave while you go into overtime.
Know when its better to slow down
-- if I’ve never judged you before, give me time at the beginning of a constructive to get used to your voice.
-- complex/tricky CP texts – please slow down during these. I’m not going to look at the speech doc and CX won’t always clear it up. Clearly emphasize the differences (supreme court, different language pic, etc.)
-- Judge instruction helps me -- big picture moments in rebuttals -- "if we win this, we win the debate", etc. Crucial moments of impacts/evidence comparison.
Evidence: Quality over Quantity – I know this is almost a cliché in judging philosophies but I don’t just mean lots of bad cards are worse than 1 good card. That is obvious. I also mean that you should consider focusing on fewer cards in front of me than you might otherwise.
-- Indexing – judging debates where last rebuttals (more often 2NR’s) mention every name of every card and say how it interacts with an argument concept (“McCoy means we turn the link”, “Smith is the impact to that”) is very frustrating for me. I thrive on the big picture. I don’t view your evidence as that or even an argument unto itself – I view your evidence as a tool. You have to explain how it works and why.
-- highlighting – I find myself increasingly choosing to ignore or assign very little weight to evidence because scant highlighting leaves a lot to the imagination. In front of me, it might be wise to select a few important cards in the debate that you would read a longer version of (crucial internal link card for elections, link to the PIC’s net benefits, alt cards, etc.).
-- I read evidence after debates to confirm its function in your speeches, not so that it can “make an argument” to me in some disembodied fashion 15 minutes after the round ends.
I prefer narrower, deeper debates: Not going to lie, when debates get horizontally big and stay that way through rebuttals, I’m less comfortable making a decision. I think this has to do with how I read evidence (above) in that often times debates that stay horizontally big require the judge to do a lot of inference into conclusions made in cards they read as opposed to speeches they evaluate. I’m okay with debates on several sheets of paper but just make sure you are identifying what you think are the strategic bottlenecks of the debate and how you are winning them. “they can’t win X if we win Y because the following impact comparison wasn’t answered…”
Links/UQ: I think debaters too often think of link direction in purely binary terms. In addition to winning links, debaters need to explicitly create mechanisms for evaluating link direction. don’t just put “this thing key” cards in my hands and expect me to ref an ev fight. Tell me why this internal controls the other or vice versa.
Framework: I’ve voted for either side of this debate plenty of times. If it’s a choice between an engaging strategy against a critical aff and T, the former is a preferable strategy in front of me. I will vote on impact turns to topicality even if the negative doesn’t go for it (provided, of course, the affirmative makes a valid argument for why I should). I find myself often frustrated in debates that lack concrete nouns and instead choose arguments/strategies where abstractions are posited in relationship to one another, concretizing through examples helps a lot. I think 'fairness' is an internal link that, when well-developed with method for debate that is academically engaging and balanced, can have a large impact on my decision. By itself, a fair game is just stable, could be good or bad. I think negs running framework are best when talking about dynamics of the debate, not just complaining about how much/many affs there are. I'm not one who believes in the "procedural fairness or education" dilemma, good framework execution involves both I think. TVA's and SSD's are defense/counterplan type arguments that I think both sides are wise to not just address but frame in my decision.
Theory: Seems dead. Seemingly fewer and fewer affirmatives even make a meaningful press on theoretical objections to the CP. I still appreciate theory on the aff and not just as an “independent voter” but rather a good way to strategically dictate the landscape of the debate. This by no means implies that I’m a hack for any affirmative theory argument. But it does mean aff’s that hear a 3 cp’s in the 1NC and don’t make more than a 10 second conditionality block and don’t mention that there were 3 counterplans are giving up on some production. I think it goes without saying that very blippy theory debates are terrible. Slowing down and being more thematic and explanatory is almost always a better approach the theory execution in front of me. In the end, I'm pretty old school and think theory needs to make a comeback (mostly so aff's can not give their cases away to disposable 15-plank hydras every debate) but it seems perfunctory in execution anymore.
Finally, please make sure to mark evidence as you read it.
Debated @ UNT 2009-2014
Coach @ St Marks since 2017
Coach @ UTDallas since 2018
If you have questions, feel free to email me at email@example.com
For me, the idea that the judge should remain impartial is very important. I've had long discussions about the general acceptability/desirability of specific debate arguments and practices (as has everybody, I'm sure), but I've found that those rarely influence my decisions. I've probably voted for teams without plans in framework debates more often than I've voted neg, and I've voted for the worst arguments I can imagine, even in close debates, if I thought framing arguments were won. While nobody can claim to be completely unbiased, I try very hard to let good debating speak for itself. That being said, I do have some general predispositions, which are listed below.
-I tend to err aff on T and neg on most theory arguments. By that, I mean that I think that the neg should win a good standard on T in order to win that the aff should lose, and I also believe that theory is usually a reason to reject the argument and not the team.
- Conditional advocacies are good, but making contradictory truth claims is different. However, I generally think these claims are less damaging to the aff than the "they made us debate against ourselves" claim would make it seem. The best 2ACs will find ways of exploiting bad 1NC strategy, which will undoubtedly yield better speaker points than a theory debate, even if the aff wins.
- I kind of feel like "reasonability" and "competing interpretations" have become meaningless terms that, while everybody knows how they conceptualize it, there are wildly different understandings. In my mind, the negative should have to prove that the affirmative interpretation is bad, not simply that the negative has a superior interpretation. I also don't think that's a very high standard for the negative to be held to, as many interpretations (especially on this space topic) will be hot fiery garbage.
- My view of debates outside of/critical of the resolution is also complicated. While my philosophy has always been very pro-plan reading in the past, I've found that aff teams are often better at explaining their impact turns than the neg is at winning an impact that makes sense. That being said, I think that it's hard for the aff to win these debates if the neg can either win that there is a topical version of the affirmative that minimizes the risk of the aff's impact turns, or a compelling reason why the aff is better read as a kritik on the negative. Obviously there are arguments that are solved by neither, and those are likely the best 2AC impact turns to read in front of me.
- "The aff was unpredictable so we couldn't prepare for it so you should assume it's false" isn't a good argument for framework and I don't think I've ever voted for it.
- I'm certainly a better judge for CP/DA debates than K v K debates. I particularly like strategic PICs and good 1NC strategies with a lot of options. I'd be willing to vote on consult/conditions, but I find permutation arguments about immediacy/plan-plus persuasive.
- I think the neg gets away with terrible CP solvency all the time. Affs should do a better job establishing what counts as a solvency card, or at least a solvency warrant. This is more difficult, however, when your aff's solvency evidence is really bad. - Absent a debate about what I should do, I will kick a counterplan for the neg and evaluate the aff v. the squo if the CP is bad/not competitive
- I don't think the 2NC needs to explain why severence/intrinsicness are bad, just win a link. They're bad.
- I don't think perms are ever a reason to reject the aff.
- I don't think illegitimate CPs are a reason to vote aff.
- Run them. Win them. There's not a whole lot to say.
- I'd probably vote on some sort of "fiat solves" argument on politics, but only if it was explained well.
- Teams that invest time in good, comparative impact calculus will be rewarded with more speaker points, and likely, will win the debate. "Disad/Case outweighs" isn't a warrant. Talk about your impacts, but also make sure you talk about your opponents impacts. "Economic collapse is real bad" isn't as persuasive as "economic collapse is faster and controls uniqueness for the aff's heg advantage".
- My general line has always been that "I get the K but am not well read in every literature". I've started to realize that that statement is A) true for just about everybody and B) entirely useless. It turns out that I've read, coached, and voted for Ks too often for me to say that. What I will say, however, is that I certainly focus my research and personal reading more on the policy side, but will generally make it pretty obvious if I have no idea what you're saying.
- Make sure you're doing link analysis to the plan. I find "their ev is about the status quo" arguments pretty persuasive with a permutation.
- Don't think that just because your impacts "occur on a different level" means you don't need to do impact calculus. A good way to get traction here is case defense. Most advantages are pretty silly and false, point that out with specific arguments about their internal links. It will always make the 2NR easier if you win that the aff is lying/wrong.
- I think the alt is the weakest part of the K, so make sure to answer solvency arguments and perms very well.
- If you're aff, and read a policy aff, don't mistake this as a sign that I'm just going to vote for you because I read mostly policy arguments. If you lose on the K, I'll vote neg. Remember, I already said I think your advantage is a lie. Prove me wrong.
-Don't ignore it. Conceding an advantage on the neg is no different than conceding a disad on the aff. You should go to case in the 1NC, even if you just play defense. It will make the rest of the debate so much easier.
- If you plan to extend a K in the 2NR and use that to answer the case, be sure you're winning either a compelling epistemology argument or some sort of different ethical calculus. General indicts will lose to specific explanations of the aff absent either good 2NR analysis or extensions of case defense.
- 2As... I've become increasingly annoyed with 2ACs that pay lip service to the case without responding to specific arguments or extending evidence/warrants. Just reexplaining the advantage and moving on isn't sufficient to answer multiple levels of neg argumentation.
I don't think you need to take prep time to flash your speech to your opponent, but it's also pretty obvious when you're stealing prep, so don't do it. If you want to use viewing computers, that's fine, but only having one is unacceptable. The neg needs to be able to split up your evidence for the block. It's especially bad if you want to view their speeches on your viewing computer too. Seriously, people need access to your evidence.
I've decided enough debates on clipping in the last couple of years that I think it's worth putting a notice in my philosophy. If a tournament has reliable internet, I will insist on an email chain and will want to be on that email chain. I will, at times, follow along with the speech document and, as a result, am likely to catch clipping if it occurs. I'm a pretty non-confrontational person, so I'm unlikely to say anything about a missed short word at some point, but if I am confident that clipping has occurred, I will absolutely stop the debate and decide on it. I'll always give debaters the benefit of the doubt, and provide an opportunity to say where a card was marked, but I'm pretty confident of my ability to distinguish forgetting to say "mark the card" and clipping. I know that there is some difference of opinion on who's responsibility it is to bring about a clipping challenge, but I strongly feel that, if I know for certain that debaters are not reading all of their evidence, I have not only the ability but an obligation to call it out.
- Really generic backfile arguments (Ashtar, wipeout, etc) won't lose you the round, but don't expect great speaks. I just think those arguments are really terrible, (I can't describe how much I hate wipeout debates) and bad for debate.
- Impact turn debates are awesome, but can get very messy. If you make the debate impossible to flow, I will not like you. Don't just read cards in the block, make comparisons about evidence quality and uniqueness claims. Impact turn debates are almost always won by the team that controls uniqueness and framing arguments, and that's a debate that should start in the 2AC.
Finally, here is a short list of general biases.
- The status quo should always be an option in the 2NR (Which doesn't necessarily mean that the neg get's infinite flex. If they read 3 contradictory positions, I can be persuaded that it was bad despite my predisposition towards conditionality. It does mean that I will, absent arguments against it, judge kick a counterplan and evaluate the case v the squo if the aff wins the cp is bad/not competitive)
- Warming is real and science is good (same argument, really)
- The aff gets to defend the implementation of the plan as offense against the K, and the neg gets to read the K
- Timeframe and probability are more important than magnitude
- Predictable limits are key to both fairness and education
- Consult counterplans aren't competitive. Conditions is arguable.
- Rider DA links are not intrinsic
- Utilitarianism is a good way to evaluate impacts
- The aff should defend a topical plan
- Death and extinction are bad
- Uncooperative federalism is one of the worst counterplans I've ever seen
firstname.lastname@example.org - email chain - please put me on it
---update - 12/5/2021 ---
- All impact turns
- Specific, well-researched K's
- Tag team for asking questions
- AFFs without a plan text
- Talking about your identity, race, sexual orientation, class, kinks, or anything of the sort
- Untopical AFFs
- Generic, unapplied arguments
- GBX-style process CPs
- Quantum Physics-based impacts
- Tag team for answering questions
---end of update---
---update - 11/7/2020 ---
reasons to strike me:
-you read a 1ac without a plan text
"27.5 if you think the 1ac is a strategy to survive."
-you talk about your identity in debates
-you read baudrillard
-you have 3-minute-long 2nc overviews
-you think a good 1nc can be made by a conglomeration of generics
---end of update---
vote from my flow |--------------------------------------X| read every card at the end of the debate
the 1ac can be whatever you want it to be |--------------------------------------X| read a plan
the cp needs a solvency advocate |------------------------X--------------| the cp doesn’t need a solvency advocate
pics are bad |--------------------------------------X| pics are good
condo is bad |---------------------X-----------------| condo is good
go for t |---X-----------------------------------| don’t go for t
k’s that link to every aff |--------------------------------------X| k’s that link to this specific aff
---end of update---
predispositions – if you accurately describe your evidence as phenomenal, i will reward you with extra speaks in proportion to how good your cards are. if you oversell your sub-par cards, i will be thoroughly disappointed. regardless of my biases, please just go for what you are prepared to execute and have the research on.
there are really only 2 things you need to take from this –
1 – do what you're good at
2 – do LINE BY LINE
"i vote on dropped arguments that i don't believe" -ian beier
for ld – please spare me the kant.
things that bother me -
tag-team cx: fine for answering, not for asking.
prep: please have the 1nr emailed out before 2nc cross-ex is over. you can go get water for -.5 speaks or you can use prep to do it.
topicality – love it. please read a good amount of cards. if you've done the research to support a well-articulated t argument, i will be overjoyed to judge the debate. although i generally default to competing interpretations, after thinking about it, reasonability is compelling if the 2ar accurately articulates why the neg interpretation is unpredictable and overly burdensome for affirmatives, which outweighs 2nr offense – this is especially persuasive if you have aff-specific cards in relation to the topic literature or legal question of the resolution. negatives that 1 – do thorough impact calculus external to ‘they explode limits – limits are good’ and 2 – give overwhelmingly extensive lists of the absurd affs their interp justifies are crucial. limits is an internal link to the topic-specific expertise the resolutional question is designed to impart.
theory – can be tedious to resolve, but i'm intrigued. 1ar's do not extend this enough. 2ar's that do the impact comparison, turns case analysis, and offense/defense framing on theory as if it were a da are very enjoyable. if theory arguments aren't well-articulated and are overly blippy, i am fine with simply dismissing them.
must disclose judge prefs theory – no, thank you. i am not sympathetic.
kritiks – the most intricate debates or the most mediocre debates – i mean this sincerely. if you are good at making a real argument, yes please. specific link work with intricate turns case analysis and examples relating to the aff win debates. reading a new phenomenal critical theory card will make my day - ie if you have done the research to support your argument, let's go. the more generic your k is, the less inclined i am to vote for you. if you are a team that goes for the k like a disad (techy, line-by-line, interacts with the case) i'll be happy to judge the debate; the inverse is true as well.
cp – wonderful.
counterplans with long texts – my favorite.
pics – they're the best. HOWEVER – they should be substantively different than the aff and have a solvency advocate.
process cp's – you're probably cheating.
states cp – teams overestimate the impact of their solvency deficits and underestimate the efficacy of theory as an answer. aff – please go for theory.
da – yes, please.
well-researched link evidence works wonders. taking a minute of the 2nr to detail turns case analysis puts you in a great position.
if you don't have a da, you don't have a da. 1% risk calculus won't make your link for you.
impact turn – please go for these if your evidence is recent and of high quality. this means not spark. doing thorough comparison between the data and qualifications of your cards versus theirs is how these debates are won.
"people should impact turn.... everything" -ian beier
neg v. k affs – if you're neg and don't win these debates, you're the exception. these are the hardest 2nr's, so i'm willing to grant some leeway.
presumption – make this argument.
framework – yes. compare your impacts at the internal link level and do intricate turns case analysis. i enjoy institutional engagement arguments vs identity affs and truth testing/fairness against more abstract affs.
the k – though i think it is an admirable strategy, unless you have hyper-specific evidence about the aff or its mechanism, you are highly susceptible to the perm.
k affs – good luck.
aff v. the k – you have an aff; that's all you have to defend.
affs lose to the k when they don't answer offense that is embedded in link arguments, lose the framework debate, letting them get away with broad and absurd generalizations, and going for too much.
execution – evidence quality doesn't replace the necessity of good debating. but i really do love good evidence.
zero risk – it’s not possible strictly in the sense of ‘zero risk’, because there is inherently a possibility of all events but it is possible to diminish the risk of an advantage or da to such a degree that it is not sufficiently significant to overcome from the noise of the status quo. i think the new fettweis card is pretty devastating impact defense. lots of neg da's are utterly ridiculous.
cx – if their cards are awful, or their da is incoherent, pointing it out is fun. being strategic in the rhetorical method you use to get the other team to say what you want, then referencing their answers in speeches to warrant arguments is persuasive and gets you additional speaks if what they said is truly applicable.
"be snarky if you want" -grace kuang
judges/people i admire - dheidt, tallungan, khirn, tyler peltekci, dan bannister, grace kuang, spurlock, matt munday, tucker carlson, forslund, scott brown.
bad args – 'racism/sexism good' args are obviously non-starters. i won't immediately dismiss 'death good' but if this is really the position you're in, you have more immediate problems than my judging preferences.
4 years at Greenhill
1 year at USC
Please put me on the email chain. My email is email@example.com.
I went for' policy' arguments in high school. In terms of categories of negative arguments (i.e. k,cp,da,etc.), I have no overlying ideologies or overt preference to what categories of negative arguments you must make.
However, there are debates that i've noticed that i personally enjoy judging and are interesting to me, and debates that i've noticed i do not enjoy judging and are not interesting to me. so if you are at all interested in my enjoyment:
examples of debates i have enjoyed judging: counterplans and disads, occasionally security, psychoanalysis one time
examples of debates i did not enjoy judging: baudrillard, death good, identity arguments, no fiat/fiat bad
if you plan to do anything from the latter category, please spend more time explaining your arguments because im not as smart as you!
The rest of this paradigm is mostly biases I've noticed about myself when I judge.
Condo - its good. Unless condo is dropped, not really worth going for if I'm judging you. Generally I err neg on theory - states cps, process cps, international fiat and pics/word pics are all okay with me. Private actor fiat, floating piks and multi-actor fiat are the exceptions where I err aff on theory.
judge kick - i won't kick the counterplan for you if you don't tell me to in the 2nr. if you tell me to kick it and/or read it conditionally i will. if you are aff and want me to not kick the counterplan, you should start that debate in the 1ar at the very least. ***if the aff reads and does not extend condo after the block, or at least a reason why conditionality being good does not necessitate that judge kick is also good, i will not be persuaded by judge kick bad in the 2ar.
Offense/defense - I think you can mitigate the risk of something to the point where it is inconsequential in my decision.
Framework/Topicality - I generally think of fairness as an internal link not a terminal impact but could be persuaded otherwise.
tag teaming in cx - its annoying to me but you do you
k affs – you shouldn't pref me. i don't like and don't often vote for these types of affirmatives.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask before the round or email.
Updated Sept 5, 2022
Jesuit College Prep - for a long while; back in the day undergrad debate - Baylor U
Please use firstname.lastname@example.org for speech docs. I do want to be in the email chain.
However, I don't check that email a lot while not at tournaments - so if you need to reach me not at a tournament, feel free to email me at email@example.com
Reason for update - I have updated my judging paradigm not because my fundamental views of debate have changed, really. BUT , as one of my labbies put it this summer, apparently the detail of my previous paradigm was "scary". So, I have tried to distill down some of the most important ways I evaluate debate.
Clash - it's good - which means you need to flow and not script your speeches. LBL with some clear references to where you're at = good. Line by line isn't answer the previous speech in order - it's about grounding the debate in the 2ac on off case, 1nc on case.
Dates and "real world" matter - with WMD after 9/11 and immigration during Trump as close rivals, this topic seems one of the most current event influenced debate topics I've experienced. Obviously I mean this in terms of Russia invasion on Feb 24, 2022 - but I also mean in the sense of Madrid Summitt and new Strategic Concept as it relates to the areas; new president in the US as of 2021 with very different policies about NATO and IR; etc. You do not need evidence to integrate current events into your argument - you do need an explanation about why dates matter - ie what's happened that the other team's arguments don't assume. But these arguments can go far in my mind to reduce risk of a DA or an advantage - so you should make these arguments and use as indicts of the other team's evidence as appropriate. . I am persuaded by teams that call out other teams based on their evidence quality, author quals, lack of highlighting (meaning they read little of the evidence
Process CPs and other neg trickeration - it's such a good topic that I would definitely prefer to see topic specific arguments. This means that there are some process CPs or other debates grounded in the lit that are really good debates; there are some that are not. Particularly as the season progresses, I would expect a discussion of what normal means is - both on the aff and the neg to justify process-y cps.
DAs - it's possible to win zero risk that the DA is an opportunity cost to the aff.
Ks - specific links are good. You should have a sense on the aff and the neg what FW is going to get you in a debate.
K affs - should be tied to the topic in some way. If they aren't, then neg args with topical versions or ways to access the education the K aff offers through the resolution are usually persuasive to me. If the aff has a K of the topic, that's great offense that negs need to have an answer. I don't think that debate is just a game. Its a competitive activity that does shape our political subjectivity.
T - if you have a good violation and reasons why an aff should be excluded, by all means read it. If you are just reading it as a "time suck" then, meh, read more substance. And, an argument that ends in -spec is usually an uphill battle unless it's clever [this cleverness standard does preclude generally a- and o-]
Impact turns - topic specific one = good; generic ones - more meh
New affs are good - and don't need to be disclosed before a debate if it's truly the very first time that someone at your school has read the argument. But new affs may justify theoretically sketchy args by the neg - you can integrate that into the theory debate, you don't need a new affs bad 1nc arg to do that.
Be nice to each other - it's possible to be competitive without being overly sassy.
Modality matters - when you are debating in person, remember that people can hear you talk to your partner and you should have a line of sight with the judge. If you are online, make sure that your camera is on when possible to create some engagement with the judge.
Misc procedural things:
1. He/him/his; "DML">"Dustin">>>"judge">>>>>>>>>>"Mr. Meyers-Levy"
2. Debated at Edina HS in Minnesota from 2008-2012, at the University of Michigan from 2012-2017, and currently coach at Michigan and Glenbrook North
3. Please add me to the email chain: dustml[at]umich[dot]edu. College debaters only: please also add debatedocs[at]umich[dot]edu (note that this is not the same as the community debatedocs listerv).
4. Nothing here set in stone debate is up to the debaters go for what you want to blah blah blah argument is a claim and a warrant don't clip cards
5. Speaks usually range from 28.5-29.5. Below 28.5 and there are some notable deficiencies, above 29.5 you're going above and beyond to wow me. I don't really try to compare different debaters across different rounds to give points; I assign them based on a round-by-round basis. I gave a 30 one time a decade ago because I lost a bet. I doubt it'll ever happen again.
6. If you're breaking something new, you'll send it out before your speech, not after the speech ends or as it's read or whatever. If you don't want to comply with that, your points are capped at 27. If you're so worried that giving the neg team 9 extra minutes to look at your new aff will tip the odds against you, it's probably not good enough to win anyway.
7. I feel like my decision times get shorter and shorter by the tournament. I highly encourage you to think about whether you really need to spend time making the other team send a copy of every card they marked and read or didn't read after their speech.
8. Each person gives one constructive and one rebuttal. The first person who speaks is the only person I flow (I can make an exception for performances in 1ACs/1NCs). I don’t flow prompting until and unless the assigned speaker says the words that their partner is prompting. If you need some part of this clarified, I’m probably not the judge for you.
9. If you would enthusiastically describe your strategy as "memes" or "trolling," you should strike me.
When making my decisions, I seek to answer four questions:
1. At what scale should I evaluate impacts? How do I determine which impact outweighs the others?
2. What is necessary to address those impacts?
3. At what point have those impacts been sufficiently addressed?
4. How certain am I about either side’s answers to the previous three questions?
I don’t expect debaters to answer these questions explicitly or in order, but I do find myself voting for debaters who use that phrasing and these concepts (necessity, sufficiency, certainty, etc) as part of their judge instruction a disproportionate amount. I try to start every RFD with a sentence-ish-long summary of my decision (e.g. "I voted affirmative because I am certain that their impacts are likely without the plan and unlikely with it, which outweighs an uncertain risk of the impacts to the DA even if I am certain about the link"); you may benefit from setting up a sentence or two along those lines for me.
Intervention on my part is inevitable, but I’d like to minimize it if possible. The way I try to do so is by making an effort to quote or paraphrase the 1AR, 2NR, and 2AR in my RFD as much as possible. This means I find myself often voting for teams who a) minimize the amount of debate jargon they use, b) explicitly instruct me what I need in order to be certain that an argument is true, and c) don’t repeat themselves or reread parts of earlier speeches. (The notable exception to c) is quoting your evidence—I appreciate teams who tell me what to look for in their cards, as I’d rather not read evidence if I don’t have to.)
I flow on my computer and I flow straight down. I appreciate debaters who debate in a way that makes that easy to do (clean line-by-line, numbering/subpointing, etc). I’ll make as much room as you want me to for an overview, but I won’t flow it on a separate sheet unless you say pretty please. If it’s not obvious to me at that point why it’s on a separate sheet, you’ll probably lose points.
Consider going a little bit slower. I think debate is easier when you slow down. I like when debaters do it; it makes it easier to flow everything you say. I prefer voting on arguments that I am certain about, and it is much easier to be certain about an argument when I know that I have written down everything that you’ve said.
Presumption always goes negative because the affirmative always has the burden of proof.
I am "truth over tech." I will not vote for something if I cannot explain why it is a reason that one side or the other has done the better debating, even if it is technically conceded by the other team. Obviously, this is not to say that technical concessions do not matter--they're probably the most important part of my decisionmaking process! However, not all technical concessions matter, and the reasons that some technical concessions matter might not be apparent to me. A dropped argument is true, but non-dropped arguments can also be true, and I need you to contextualize how to evaluate and compare those truths.
I appreciate well-thought-out perms with a brief summary of its function/net beneficiality in the 2AC. I get frustrated by teams who shotgun the same four perms on every page, especially when those perms are essentially the same argument (e.g. “perm do both” and “perm do the plan and non-mutually exclusive parts of the alt”) or when the perm is obviously nonsensical (e.g. “perm do the counterplan” against an advantage counterplan that doesn’t try to fiat the aff or against a uniqueness counterplan that bans the plan).
I’d prefer that you read rehighlightings and not insert them, unless you’re rehighlighting a couple words. You will lose speaker points for inserting a bunch of rehighlightings, and I’ll happily ignore them if instructed to by the other team.
I prefer to judge engagement over avoidance. I would rather you beat your opponent at their best than trick them into dropping something. If your plan for victory involves hiding ASPEC in a T shell, or deleting your conditionality block from the 2AC in hopes that they miss it, I will not be happy.
1. Debate is indisputably a game to some degree or another, and it can be other things besides that. I like when teams split the difference and account for debate’s inevitably competitive features rather than asserting it is only one thing or another.
2. I think I am better for K affs than I have been in the past. I am not worse for framework, but I am worse for the amount of work that people seem to do when preparing to go for framework. I am getting really bored by neg teams who recycle blocks without updating them in the context of the round and don’t make an effort to talk about the aff. I think the neg needs to say more than just “the aff’s method is better with a well-prepared opponent” or “non-competitive venues solve the aff’s offense” to meaningfully mitigate the aff's offense. If you are going for framework in front of me, you may want to replace those kinds of quotes in your blocks with specific explanations that reference what the aff says in speeches and cards.
3. I prefer clash impacts to fairness impacts. I vote negative often when aff teams lack explanation for why someone should say "no" to the aff. I find that fairness strategies suffer when the aff pushes on the ballot’s ability to “solve” them; I would rather use my ballot to encourage the aff to argue differently rather than to punish them retroactively. I think fairness-centric framework strategies are vulnerable to aff teams impact turning the neg’s interpretation (conversely, I think counter-interpretation strategies are weak against fairness impacts).
4. I don't think I've ever voted on "if the 1AC couldn't be tested you should presume everything they've said is false"/"don't weigh the aff because we couldn't answer it," and I don't think I ever will.
5. I think non-framework strategies live and die at the level of competition and solvency. When aff teams invest time in unpacking permutations and solvency deficits, and the neg doesn’t advance a theory of competition beyond “no perms in a method debate” (whatever that means), I usually vote aff. When the aff undercovers the perm and/or the alt, I have a high threshold for new explanation and usually think that the 2NR should be the non-framework strategy.
6. I do not care whether or not fiat has a resolutional basis.
Ks on the neg/being aff vs the K:
I am getting really bored by "stat check" affs that respond to every K by brute-forcing a heg or econ impact and reading the same "extinction outweighs, util, consequentialism, nuke war hurts marginalized people too" blocks/cards every debate. That's not to say that these affs are non-viable in front of me, but it is to say that I've often seen teams reading these big-stick affs in ways that seem designed to avoid engaging the substance of the K. If this is your strategy, you should talk about the alternative more, and have a defense of fiat that is not just theoretical.
I care most about link uniqueness and alt solvency. When I vote aff, it's because a) the aff gets access to their impacts, b) those impacts outweigh/turn the K, c) the K links are largely non-unique, and/or d) the neg doesn't have a well-developed alt push. Neg teams that push back on these issues--by a) having well-developed and unique links and impacts with substantive impact calculus in the block and 2NR, including unique turns case args (not just that the plan doesn't solve, but that it actually makes the aff's own impacts more likely), b) having a vision for what the world of the alt looks like that's defensible and ostensibly solves their impacts even if the aff wins a risk of theirs (case defense that's congruent with the K helps), and/or c) has a heavy push on framework that tells me what the alt does/doesn't need to solve--have a higher chance of getting my ballot. Some more specific notes:
1. Upfront, I'm not a huge fan of "post-/non-/more-than/humanism"-style Ks. I find myself more persuaded by most defenses/critical rehabilitations of humanism than I do by critiques of humanism that attempt to reject the category altogether. You can try your best to change my mind, but it may be an uphill battle; this applies far more to high theory/postmodern Ks of humanism (which, full disclosure, I would really rather not hear) than it does to structuralist/identity-based Ks of humanism, though I find myself more persuaded by "new humanist" style arguments a la Fanon, Wynter, etc than full-on rejections of humanism.
2. There's a new trend of Ks about debt, debt imperialism, etc. I may not be the best judge for these arguments, simply because of my difficulty with understanding economics on its own terms, let alone in the context of a K. It's not for lack of trying to understand or familiarize myself, I just have tremendous difficulty understanding even basic economic concepts at a fundamental level, and this is seriously amplified when those concepts are being analyzed by relatively complex critical theory. This isn't to say these arguments are unwinnable in front of me (I've voted for them this year and in past years), but you may want to consider something else and/or investing a really large amount of time in explaining the fundamentals of your arguments to me.
3. I also don't really get all these new Ks about quantum physics in IR and stuff. Again, it's me, not you. I was an English major; every time I try to read these articles I get a headache. I'm interested, I promise, and if you can explain it to me I'll be very appreciative! But for transparency's sake, I think it's highly unlikely that you'll be able to both explain the argument to me in a way that I can comprehend AND invest the time necessary to win the debate in your 36 collective minutes of speaking time.
4. I'm quite interested in emerging genres of critical legal theory. I think I would be a good judge for Ks that defend concrete changes to jurisprudence and are willing to debate out the implications of that.
5. I think that others should not suffer, that biological death is bad, and that contingent agreement on truth is possible and a better basis for action than nothing. If your K disagrees with any of these fundamental premises, I am a bad judge for it.
6. I don't get Ks of linear time. I get Ks of whitewashing, progress narratives, etc. I get the argument that historical events influence the present, and that events in the present can reshape our understanding of the past. I get that some causes have complex effects that aren't immediately recognizable to us and may not be recognizable on any human scale. I just don't get how any of those things are mutually exclusive with, and indeed how they don't also rely on, some understanding of linear time/causality. I think this is because I have a very particular understanding of what "linear time" means/refers to, which is to say that it's hard for me to disassociate that phrase with the basic concept of cause/effect and the progression of time in a measurable, linear fashion. This isn't as firm of a belief as #5; I can certainly imagine one of these args clicking with me eventually. This is just to say that the burden of explanation is much higher and you would likely be better served going for more plan-specific link arguments or maybe just using different terminology/including a brief explanation as to why you're not disagreeing with the basic premise that causes have effects, even if those effects aren't immediately apparent. If you are disagreeing with that premise, you should probably strike me, as it will require far longer than two hours for me to comprehend your argument, let alone agree with it.
7. "Philosophical competition" is not a winner in front of me. I don't know what it means and no one has ever explained it to me in a coherent way.
1. 95% of my work in college is K-focused, and the other 5% is mostly spot updates. I am surrounded by lawyers in my personal life, so I am better at keeping up with jurisprudential arguments about rights/duties than arguments about, like, the macroeconomic effects of copyrighting AI art.
For high school, 75-80% of my work has been policy-focused. I am pretty bored by impact turn debates. I wish neg teams would make more arguments about how the US does security cooperation and fewer arguments about NATO.
2. “Link controls uniqueness”/“uniqueness controls the link” arguments will get you far with me. I often find myself wishing that one side or the other had made that argument, because my RFDs often include some variant of it regardless.
3. Apparently T against policy affs is no longer in style. Fortunately, I have a terrible sense of style. In general, I think I'm better for the neg for T than (I guess) a lot of judges; reading through some judge philosophies I find a lot of people who say they don't like judging T or don't think T debates are good, and I strongly disagree with that claim. I'm a 2N at heart, so when it comes down to brass tacks I really don't care about many T impacts/standards except for neg ground (though I can obviously be persuaded otherwise). I care far more about the debates that an interpretation facilitates than I do about the interpretation's source in the abstract--do explanation as to why source quality/predictability influences the quality of debates under the relevant interpretation.
4. I think judge kick makes intuitive sense, but I won't do it unless I'm told to. That said, I also think I have a lower threshold for what constitutes the neg "telling me to" than most. There are some phrases that signify to me that I can default to the status quo by my own choosing; these include, but aren't necessarily limited to, "the status quo is always a logical policy option" and/or "counter-interp: the neg gets X conditional options and the status quo."
5. Here are some aff theory arguments that I could be persuaded on pretty easily given a substantive time investment:
--Counterplans should have a solvency advocate ideally matching the specificity of the aff's, but at least with a normative claim about what should happen.
--Multi-actor fiat bad--you can fiat different parts of the USFG do things, and international fiat is defensible, but fiating the federal government and the states, or the US and NATO, is a no-no. (Fiating all fifty states is debatably acceptable, but fiating some permutation of states seems iffy to me.)
--No negative fiat, but not the meme--counterplans should take a positive action, and shouldn't fiat a negative action. It's the distinction between "the USFG should not start a war against Russia" and "the USFG should ban initiation of war against Russia."
--Test case fiat? Having osmosed a rudimentary bit of constitutional law via friends and family in law school, it seems like debate's conception of how the Supreme Court works is... suspect. Not really sure what the implications of that are for the aff or the neg, but I'm pretty sure that most court CPs/mechanisms would get actual lawyers disbarred.
--“…large advantage counterplans with multiple planks, all of which can be kicked, are fairly difficult to defend. Negative teams can fiat as many policies as it takes to solve whatever problems the aff has sought to tackle. It is unreasonable to the point of stupidity to expect the aff to contrive solvency deficits: the plan would literally have to be the only idea in the history of thought capable of solving a given problem. Every additional proposal introduced in the 1nc (in order to increase the chance of solving) can only be discouraged through the potential cost of a disad being read against it. In the old days, this is why counterplan files were hundreds of pages long and had answers to a wide variety of disads. But if you can kick the plank, what incentive does the aff have to even bother researching if the CP is a good idea? If they read a 2AC add-on, the neg gets as many no-risk 2NC counterplans to add to the fray as well (of course, they can also add unrelated 2nc counterplans for fun and profit). If you think you can defend the merit of that strategy vs. a "1 condo cp / 1 condo k" interp, your creative acumen may be too advanced for interscholastic debate; consider more challenging puzzles in emerging fields, as they urgently need your input.” -Kevin "Kevin 'Paul Blart Mall Cop' James" James Hirn
Debated for UWG ’15 – ’17; Coaching: Notre Dame – ’19 – Present; Baylor – ’17 – ’19
"Can I get a marked doc?" / "Can you list the cards you didn't read?" when one card was marked or just because some cards were skipped on case. Flow or take CX time for it.
I prefer K v K rounds, but I generally wind up in FW rounds.
K aff’s – 1) Generally have a high threshold for 1ar/2ar consistency. 2) Stop trying to solve stuff you could reasonably never affect. Often, teams want the entirety of X structure’s violence weighed yet resolve only a minimal portion of that violence. 3) v K’s, you are rarely always already a criticism of that same thing. Your articulation of the perm/link defense needs to demonstrate true interaction between literature bases. 4) Stop running from stuff. If you didn’t read the line/word in question, okay. But indicts of the author should be answered with more than “not our Baudrillard.”
K’s – 1) rarely win without substantial case debate. 2) ROJ arguments are generally underutilized. 3) I’m generally persuaded by aff answers that demonstrate certain people shouldn’t read certain lit bases, if warranted by that literature. 4) I have a higher threshold for generic “debate is bad, vote neg.” If debate is bad, how do you change those aspects of debate? 5) 2nr needs to make consistent choices re: FW + Link/Alt combinations. Find myself voting aff frequently, because the 2nr goes for two different strats/too much.
Special Note for Settler Colonialism: I simultaneously love these rounds and experience a lot of frustration when judging this argument. Often, debaters haven’t actually read the full text from which they are cutting cards and lack most of the historical knowledge to responsibly go for this argument. List of annoyances: there are 6 settler moves to innocence – you should know the differences/specifics rather than just reading pages 1-3 of Decol not a Metaphor; la paperson’s A Third University is Possible does not say “State reform good”; Reading “give back land” as an alt and then not defending against the impact turn is just lazy. Additionally, claiming “we don’t have to specify how this happens,” is only a viable answer for Indigenous debaters (the literature makes this fairly clear); Making a land acknowledgement in the first 5 seconds of the speech and then never mentioning it again is essentially worthless; Ethic of Incommensurability is not an alt, it’s an ideological frame for future alternative work (fight me JKS).
General: 1) Fairness is either an impact or an internal link 2) the TVA doesn’t have to solve the entirety of the aff. 3) Your Interp + our aff is just bad.
Aff v FW: 1) can win with just impact turns, though the threshold is higher than when winning a CI with viable NB’s. 2) More persuaded by defenses of education/advocacy skills/movement building. 3) Less random DA’s that are basically the same, and more internal links to fully developed DA’s. Most of the time your DA’s to the TVA are the same offense you’ve already read elsewhere.
Reading FW: 1) Respect teams that demonstrate why state engagement is better in terms of movement building. 2) “If we can’t test the aff, presume it’s false” – no 3) Have to answer case at some point (more than the 10 seconds after the timer has already gone off) 4) You almost never have time to fully develop the sabotage tva (UGA RS deserves more respect than that). 5) Impact turns to the CI are generally underutilized. You’ll almost always win the internal link to limits, so spending all your time here is a waste. 6) Should defend the TVA in 1nc cx if asked. You don’t have a right to hide it until the block.
Theory - 1) I generally lean neg on questions of Conditionality/Random CP theory. 2) No one ever explains why dispo solves their interp. 3) Won’t judge kick unless instructed to.
T – 1) I’m not your best judge. 2) Seems like no matter how much debating is done over CI v Reasonability, I still have to evaluate most of the offense based on CI’s.
DA/CP – 1) Prefer smart indicts of evidence as opposed to walls of cards (especially on ptx/agenda da's). Neg teams get away with murder re: "dropped ev" that says very little/creatively highlighted. 2) I'm probably more lenient with aff responses (solvency deficits/aff solves impact/intrinsic perm) to Process Cp's/Internal NB's that don't have solvency ev/any relation to aff.
Case - I miss in depth case debates. Re-highlightings don't have to be read. The worse your re-highlighting the lower the threshold for aff to ignore it.
All of my thoughts on policy apply, except for theory. More than 2 condo (or CP’s with different plank combinations) is probably abusive, but I can be convinced otherwise on a technical level.
Not voting on an RVI. I don’t care if it’s dropped.
Most LD theory is terrible Ex: Have to spec a ROB or I don’t know what I can read in the 1nc --- dumb argument.
Phil or Tricks (sp?) debating – I’m not your judge.
Policy + PF Debate @ Success Academy (September 2022-Present)
Parliamentary Debate @ Inwood Academy for Leadership (2017-2021)
Hi everyone! I am very excited about coaching and judging policy debate this year! Although this is my first year coaching policy debate, it is certainly not my first time coaching or judging competitive debates. Here are a few things about my style/preferences to keep in mind:
1. Tabula Rasa: I try my best to enter each debate round with a "clean slate." I leave my biases at the door and will judge solely based on the quality and skills of your argumentation.
2. WEIGH WELL. I often find it difficult to judge rounds involving little to no weighing. I HIGHLY consider impacts in my decision-making.
3. I pay close attention to the rebuttal speeches. Stay away from being redundant, meaning your rebuttal speeches shouldn’t sound like your constructive speeches. Paint a picture, and tell me why your side should win. I
4. Create a legitimate clash. Please show me the contrast between your world and your opponent’s world. Make the distinction obvious to me.
5. I find K-AFFs and Kritiks to be very unique and interesting. I enjoy them if presented well enough for me to understand. Do your very best to explain the complex rhetoric you're stating in the round. Regarding critical affirmatives, the expectation is that your plan is still topical and related to the resolution. Regarding Kritiks on the Neg, please make sure you present a decent link story to the AFF and that you prove that your alternative is better than the AFF's plan.
6. I enjoy cross-examination periods. Take advantage of your cross-examination periods and ask your opponents specific, meaningful questions. Try not to waste your C/X time asking clarifying questions.
7. A bit of aggression is fine in debate, but I will not tolerate disrespect. Please be a kind and decent human being. *Any racist, and discriminatory arguments or language will result in low speaker points and may result in the loss of the round.*
8. Run anything on the NEG, no preference.
9. I typically find myself voting on 3 things in a debate: solvency, impact calc, and framework.
10. I will never vote for a "human extinction good/death good argument."
11. Regarding speed, I'm totally fine with spreading. Just please project your voice, roadmap, and please make sure you're clear. If I can't understand you, then I will probably stop flowing.
BEST OF LUCK AND HAVE FUN! :)
Please add me to the email chain: firstname.lastname@example.org
Affiliations and History
Director of Debate at Westminster. Debated in college between 2008 and 2012. Actively coaching high school debate since 2008.
I am not the kind of judge who will read every card at the end of the debate. Claims that are highly contested, evidence that is flagged, and other important considerations will of course get my attention. Debaters should do the debating. Quality evidence is still important though. If the opposing team's cards are garbage, it is your responsibility to let that be known. Before reading my preferences about certain arguments, keep in mind that it is in your best interest to do what you do best. My thoughts on arguments are general predispositions and not necessarily absolute.
T – Topicality is important. The affirmative should have a relationship to the topic. How one goes about defending the topic is somewhat open to interpretation. However, my predisposition still leans towards the thought that engaging the topic is a good and productive end. I find myself in Framework debates being persuaded by the team that best articulates why their limit on the topic allows for a season's worth of debate with competitively equitable outcomes for both the aff and the neg.
Disads/Case Debate – While offense is necessary, defense is frequently undervalued. I am willing to assign 0% risk to something if a sufficient defensive argument is made.
Counterplans – Conditionality is generally fine. Functional competition seems more relevant than textual competition. If the affirmative is asked about the specific agent of their plan, they should answer the question. I increasingly think the affirmative allows the negative to get away with questionable uses of negative fiat. Actual solvency advocates and counterplan mechanisms that pass the rational policy option assumption matter to me.
Kritiks – I teach history and economics and I studied public policy and political economy during my doctoral education. This background inherently influences my filter for evaluating K debates. Nonetheless, I do think these are strategic arguments. I evaluate framework in these debates as a sequencing question regarding my resolution of impact claims. Effective permutation debating by the aff is an undervalued strategy.
Theory – A quality theory argument should have a developed warrant/impact. “Reject the argument, not the team” resolves most theory arguments except for conditionality. Clarity benefits both teams when engaging in the substance of theory debates.
(Scale - Adjective - Description)
29.6-30 - The Best - Everything you could ask for as a judge and more. (Top 5 speaker award)
29-29.5 - Very, Very good - Did everything you could expect as a judge very, very well. (Top 10 speaker award)
28.6-28.9 - Very Good - Did very well as a whole, couple moments of brilliance, but not brilliant throughout.
28.3-28.5 - Good - Better than average. Did most things well. Couple moments of brilliance combined with errors.
28-28.2 - OK - Basic skills, abilities, and expectations met. But, some errors along the way. Very little to separate themselves from others. Clearly prepared, just not clearly ahead of others.
Below 28 - OK, but major errors - Tried hard, but lack some basic skills or didn’t pay close enough attention.
Please put me on the email chain: email@example.com.
I'm currently an assistant debate coach for Niles North High School. I was the Head Debate Coach at Niles West High School for twelve years and an assistant debate coach at West for one year. I also work at the University of Michigan summer debate camps. I competed in policy debate at the high school level for six years at New Trier. #gotrevs (always already a preclusion...don't worry).
Master of Education in English-Language Learning & Special Education National Louis University (Expected Winter 2024)
Master of Arts in School Leadership Concordia University-Chicago
Master of Arts in Education Wake Forest University
Juris Doctor Illinois Institute of Technology-Chicago Kent College of Law
Bachelor of Arts University of California, Santa Barbara
I will vote on any type of debate argument so long as the team extends it throughout the entire round and explains why it is a voter. Thus, I will pull the trigger on theory, agent specification, and other arguments many judges are unwilling to vote on. Even though I am considered a “politics/counter plan” debater, I will vote on kritiks, but I am told I evaluate kritik debates in a “politics/counter plan” manner (I guess this is not exactly true anymore...and I tend to judge clash debates). I try not to intervene in rounds, and all I ask is that debaters respect each other throughout the competition.
The tournament and those judging you are not at your leisure. Please do your best to start the round promptly at the posted time on the pairing and when I'm ready to go (sometimes I do run a few minutes late to a round, not going to lie). Please do your best to: use prep ethically, attach speech documents quickly, ask to use bathroom at appropriate times (e.g. ideally not right before your or your partner's speech), and contribute to moving the debate along and help keep time. I will give grace to younger debaters on this issue, but varsity debaters should know how to do this effectively. This is an element of how I award speaker points. I'm a huge fan of efficient policy debate rounds. Thanks!
In my opinion, you cannot waive CX and bank it for prep time. Otherwise, the whole concept of cross examination in policy debate is undermined. I will not allow this unless the tournament rules explicitly tell me to do so.
If you use a poem, song, etc. in the 1AC, you should definitely talk about it after the 1AC. Especially against framework. Otherwise, what is the point? Your performative method should make sense as a praxis throughout the debate.
Do not post round me. I will lower your speaker points if you or one of your coaches acts disrespectful towards me or the opponents after the round. I have no problem answering any questions about the debate but it will be done in a respectful manner to all stakeholders in the room. If you have any issues with this, please don't pref me. I have seen, heard and experienced way too much disrespectful behavior by a few individuals in the debate community recently where, unfortunately, I feel compelled to include this in my paradigm.
Peninsula ’21 -- currently coaching, email chain -- firstname.lastname@example.org
Debate is a competitive research game with rules and norms that facilitate clash over the resolution. The closer your arguments are tied to the resolution, the more likely I am to be receptive to them. This being said, strategy precedes all, and I am equally receptive to rewarding fast, technical debaters that successfully overwhelm the other team by exploiting concessions.
The most important thing to know about me is that I adjudicate every debate technically. This means that all of the opinions in this paradigm (particularly regarding K debate) can be easily reversed and, thus, why my voting record in these debates does not accurately reflect how I personally feel about debate. If evenly debated, however, I ideologically lean heavily policy.
Affirmative teams should topically defend a plan text and the negative should say the plan does something bad or is not topical.
Fairness is an impact intrinsic to the activity of debate. Suggesting otherwise is asinine, makes debate meaningless for anyone involved in the activity for any reason, and worsens structural reasons debaters might have for debate being unfair (resource disparities, coaching, funding, etc.). Making the argument that fairness is bad or not important in debate is itself a tautology: the judge fairly adjudicating the debate based on an objective flow, both teams adopting speech times, etc. are all norms that facilitate competitive equity, and reading a topical plan text is no different. Any given team would be upset if the judge solely adjudicated the debate based on their own personal beliefs without listening to or flowing any speech, which intrinsically proves the value of fairness. When adjudicating a debate in which this style of argument is introduced by the aff, I find myself struggling to understand how my ballot has the power to resolve anything other than remedy an instance of unfairness in that debate.
The best debates are over a few central points of disagreement where there is lots of high-quality evidence presented by both sides.
I can easily be persuaded that limitless conditionality is good. Arbitrary limitations on the numerical amount of conditional advocacies are typically unpersuasive.
I will not evaluate arguments about things that happen or have happened outside of the round.
I do not believe most structuralist ontology arguments are serious intellectual positions.
The argument "fiat is illusory" matters exactly 0%.
I love impact turn debates.
Specifically on the NATO topic, you are much, much better off going for the cease counterplan and NATO bad in front of me than some recycled, generic process counterplan.
At the end of the round, please compile a card doc of all evidence you believe will be relevant to my decision.
I use Debnil Sur's speaker point scale.
If I can't flow you, I will stop paying attention.
Scott Phillips- for email chains please use iblamebricker@gmail in policy, and email@example.com for LD
Coach@ Harvard Westlake/Dartmouth
If you would like to increase your chances of getting my ballot dramatically here are a list of things your opponents are most likely not doing that you can take advantage of
-go for theory
-Listen to what the other team is saying and give a speech that demonstrates that you did by answering all of their arguments correctly and in the order in which they were presented . Do not read a collection of non responsive blocks in random order.
-read qualified, recent, high quality evidence that is highlighted to make grammatical and conceptual sense. Call out people who do not. Read evidence appropriately, not unnecessarily/repetitively.
-Know what your evidence says- if your 2NC OV is "LOL THEY DROPPED X" and you did not read a card that even mentions X let alone explains it you are doing things wrong. Teams who call out such shenanigans will be rewarded.
-make smart, complete analytic arguments. Especially about: link threshold, "sufficiency" of solvency, Kritiks, analytic CPs.
Economic decline causes war- not an argument
Economic decline causes war: diversionary theory- still not an argument
Economic decline causes war: diversionary theory is statistically proven and shows politicians try to regain popularity lost due to poor economic conditions by starting conflicts and triggering rally around the flag effects- this is about the bare minimum
This is particularly true for 2ACs on the case. A smart analytic about an internal link is almost always better than impact defense in the genre of "disease/warming only kills 4 billion people"
-Resolve arguments- do not just explain your side, explain why it responds to/defeats the other side. Don't just say "our impact is fast" , explain why theirs is slow and why timeframe outweighs whatever criteria your opponents impact is best at. This is particularly important in debates where each side reads 10 impacts and the only other "debate" going on is impact defense.
-Debate FW strategically, and specifically. The way people argue "weigh the case" vs "its scholarship" is not a debate, its a plea for judges to intervene on the side they personally agree with. I am willing to completely ignore what the other team said if you win your FW makes it go away, the way 99% of people debate FW today does not do this/is a waste of time. If you go for "weigh the case" vs links to the plan it will hurt your points because you are demonstrating you either do not understand framework or did not listen to your opponents, neither of which proves you did the better debating. Similarly, if you say "scholarship" as shorthand for "you link you lose" but never actually explain what is problematic about the aff "scholarship" that would hurt your points.
-Know what you are talking about. I have heard some explanations of how different aspects of the law would work this year that upon researching/asking lawyers turn out to be wildly off base/backwards. A lot of this relates to "creative" interpretations of evidence. If you are going for court clog you should know/be able to explain, or barring that have cards explaining, how the court system works. I do my best to not let this influence evaluation of arguments, but if you say "there are 11 supreme court justices" and the other side calls you on it this would damage your credibility.
Online debate update
-i will have camera on or off if debaters prefer-feel free to express your preference
-I am using a desktop computer (for tabroom/to see your doc, I'm flowing on paper) without a webcam and using Zoom etc on a tablet sitting next to me. This means I'm rarely looking "at" the camera
-my headset is wireless, I may get up and move around during CX/prep but I can hear even if I'm not on camera
My general philosophy is tech/line by line focused- I try to intervene as little as possible in terms of rejecting arguments/interpreting evidence. As long as an argument has a claim/warrant I can explain to your opponent in the RFD I will vote for it. If only one side tries to resolve an issue I will defer to that argument even if it seems illogical/wrong to me- i.e. if you drop "warming outweighs-timeframe" and have no competing impact calc its GG even though that arg is terrible. 90% of the time I'm being postrounded it is because a debater wanted me to intervene in some way on their behalf either because that's the trend/what some people do or because they personally thought an argument was bad.
Rounds Judged on the topic- a lot
My Ideal affirmative- 2 well constructed advantages
My Ideal 1NC- 5 off and case
Cliffs Notes-Top 10 Things you should know
1. I vote on arguments commonly considered "bad" frequently because a team mishandles them, it is my belief belief that most bad arguments can be defeated by making a thumbs down motion, so if you fail to meet that minimum threshold I will be qualmless voting against you. The overarching principle of my judging is "least intervention"-Much like Harrison Ford in Ender's Game under no circumstances will I help you with bad arguments, I believe in self help.
2. I vote on kritiks a lot because the team answering them reads a lot of bad generic answers instead of making analytic arguments based on the specific arguments they have made in that debate. To clarify this sentence - what I mean is an analytic based on your 1AC- ie "tradable permits empirically don't cause commodification and extinction since we already have them for SO2". In general I think most debaters have no idea what they are saying when reading a K and that affirmatives SHOULD win about 80-90% of the debates in which the negative goes for one.
3. No plan affs- 100% of the time when I vote against you on framework its because the other team won theory was a trump card over issues like education/K impacts and you didn't advance theory offense for your interpretation. I end up voting for no plan args frequently because the neg collapses/has no idea what to do.
4. Theory needs to come back with a vengeance
A. Entirely plan inclusive counterplans- I have never heard a theory argument to defend them that passes the minimum threshold explained above. That being said, winning a solvency deficit against them is basically impossible.
B. More than 2 conditional counterplans is just you being a chazzer
C. K frameworks/roles of the ballot that stack the deck absurdly are worse than entirely plan inclusive counterplans
D. Reject argument not team produces terrible debates with very bad strategies. Voting on theory doesn't fix this, but it improves it substantially.
5. I believe you have a choice
A. Clearly articulate your ground/say as much in CX
B. Because your position is vague you are susceptible to a reduced credibility modifier that taints many of your arguments. Plan vagueness affects plan solvency, alternative vagueness affects.... etc.
6. IMO there are, in fact, risks of things. Debaters should be aware of this and make arguments about how I should resolve risk. The plan may be popular with 5 people and unpopular with 6, should I place more emphasis on the number of people or maybe are those 5 more important? Very few link cards establish such a clear threshold that you can say with certainty (when contested) yes definite link. (this point is largely irrelevant now as the tides of history have turned and no risk people have been successfully marginalized)
7. I will always defer to debater argument resolution if one side does it and the other doesn't-no matter how bad or illogical I think the argument is. This is to me, the most important part of debate.
8. I try really hard to flow well. Teams who willfully ignore line by line/structure - I will not do work for you to figure things out if the other team does line by line barring some argument why I should.
9. I often call for lots of evidence after a debate, most of the time this is just out of curiosity. When making my decision evidence is only a factor when it is a point of contest or someone has made an argument for why it should be a part of the decision. I am not a judge who reads every card from both sides and makes a decision based on the evidence.
10. Evidence quality in debate is in terminal decline. If you have good evidence and you make an issue of it in the debate (talk about quals, or recency for uniqueness) you will most likely crush.
Making a decision:
Everything is debatable but speech times: The role of the ballot, whether evidence or analytic arguments are more important, is it acceptable for the other team to read off their computers, who gets presumption and why etc. If neither team makes an argument on the issue, the following are my defaults:
1. Evidence and analytic arguments are treated equally- I will look at the total sum of explanation offered for an argument, from any form. So if a well explained analytical will beat a poorly written piece of evidence. If one teams reads qualifications and the other doesn't, the team who read quals will receive a slight bump in the level of quality I assess to their explanation (assuming all other factors are equal). Treating them as equal until told otherwise is my way of encouraging debate.
2. Presumption, in the case of a tie or too close to call resolution of an argument, goes to the team advocating the least change. I would use presumption in the instance where each team had an advocacy and an offensive argument, and each team dropped a terminal defense argument to their own offense such that the net risk in either direction of presented offense was exactly zero. In that instance the "hidden disad" of change makes sense as a decision making tool. In no other circumstance I can think of would I use presumption unless explicitly instructed by the debaters.
3. If an argument is unresolveable (or tough to resolve) I will use a "needs" test- the burden of explanation will be assessed to the team who NEEDS the argument to win. So for example
-on a CP permutation, if the neg would win the debate without the permutation, then the aff needs it to win- so the burden of explanation is on them
-for CP solvency, if the neg would lose if the CP did not solve the case, then the neg needs to win solvency- so the burden of explanation is on them
4. Concession= truth. If you drop epistemology comes first/is a side constraint, then it is. You can drop that framing issue and still win as long as you beat the link (that your epistemology is flawed), but you will not be allowed new answers to the impact. I use a reasonable person standard- if I was unaware that the 1NC presented a epistemology first argument (based on what was said in the 1NC, not my prior knowledge of the negative team), then if the aff says "they didn't say this, therefore our answers aren't new" I would allow it. But remember, everything is debatable. If the 2NR comes back and asserts it was clearly stated when they said XYZ, the aff has to disprove that.
5. The threshold for how good a response to an argument has to be is directly related to the quality of the initial argument. Saying "RANT" is sufficient to beat a lot of voting issues. If the other team answers RANT in their 2NC sever perms are a VI block, and thats all you say, you will be in trouble. Similarly, many counterplans (consult, recommendation, delay, lopez) are easily defeated by theory arguments but almost impossible to beat on substance. A well rounded debater should avoid trying to ice skate uphill.
6. I spend a lot of time on debate. Other than eating and playing video games, basically all of my time is spent cutting cards, coaching, writing and reading about debate. A lot of judges say "I'm not a very good flow". I'm a very good flow, I may even go as far as to say probably one of the best. All that being said, it is very possible that you could say a string of words, or utter a quote from an article I have written that fully conveys your argument to me, but would leave a less experienced/judge with a life with no idea what you were saying/what your argument was. I try to temper this fact by using a "reasonable person" standard for what makes a complete argument. I feel this is essential because otherwise any student who was in my lab, had emailed me a question, or had just read a lot of the 3NR would have an absurdly unfair advantage vs a similarly skilled student. So if I made a joke in lab about saying "purple monkey dishwasher" and that meaning "we do the whole plan minus the reps", so you say that in a debate and expect me to vote on it, I won't. Unless you are debating someone else from the lab who had equal access to that information. Similarly, even if I flowed an argument/got the jist of what you were saying, but feel that the other team is being reasonable when they say your argument was poorly explained/did not constitute an argument I will be open to that and you need to respond.
1. I like fast debate. That being said, some people give fast debate a bad name. You can be fast only after you are clear and efficient. I should be able to understand every word you say, not just the tags. If you are stammering (or displaying other verbal missteps) excessively you are going faster than you are capable of going imo.
2. Points are determined by how well you perform your function, which depends on what speeches you give. A 1AC should be perfectly smooth because you can practice it as much as you want. A 2NC assembled on the fly vs a new case can be excused a few missteps on the other hand. I think auto giving the 1N low points because they could be replaced by a robot in most debates is a bit unfair- a blazing fast 1NC and devastating 1NR can be game changing. That being said, rarely do people perform up to that level.
3. Points are assessed relative to the field in which you are competing. The same speech can be a 29 at a local, but a 27.5 at St Marks.
What is your threshold for T?
The threshold is established by the other teams answers- if they make good defensive arguments and argue reasonability well than my threshold will be high. If they don't it will be very low.
What are you favorite kinds of debate?
Ones in which there are clash, since that is not really a thing anymore its usually impact turn debates- heg bad, de-dev, CO2 ag and warming good- loved to go for these when I debated and love to see them debated now. CO2 ag is the upper limit of stupid I think is acceptable.
Did you run kritiks when you debated?
Not as much as Bricker would want you to believe. My senior year in HS and my senior year in college I went for K's about 30% of the time, in the other years of my debate less than 5%.
Did you ever read a critical aff?
By today's standards no- I always had a plan, though sometimes the advantages were not nuke war.
You bash the politics disad a lot, will you still vote for it?
Yes, almost always because the affirmative never does anything of the things that highlight the problem with politics.
Are you OK with speed?
Yes, if anything I dislike slow debate. However this is a double edged sword- if you do fast debate terribly I will punish you for it.
Is Fem IR beatable?
What race do you play in SC2?
Usually random, but if I pick -zerg.
If you were in Game of Thrones, which house would you belong to?
A note on jumping:
I want to see good debates. I'm not interested in charging you 10 seconds of prep to jump your speeches. If, however, you show total technical incompetence at jumping/severely delay the round your speaks will suffer. A good jump is like a good road map- its not hard, so get it over with quickly.
Standards for sharing should be reciprocal, and as such are established by the team willing to do the least. If Team A doesnt jump speeches as a policy that is fine by me, but then Team B is under no obligation to let Team A see any of their evidence. If Team A doesn't jump analytics, Team B doesn't have to etc.
A note on quality:
I generally believe that there are certain "norms" in debate- don't steal prep time, don't clip cards etc. These norms are not rules, and as such as a judge I don't think its my job to enforce them. In fact, I think it SHOULD be the burden of a good team to be on top of is the other team stealing prep, are they clipping cards etc. Encouraging students to take responsibility for this is the best model imo. However, there are debates where there is a huge mismatch in terms of the quality of the teams involved. I no longer think it reasonable to expect novices entered in their first varsity tournament to check to see if the Baker Award winning team they are debating is stealing prep. I also don't really care to argue with you about whether or not you are stealing prep. So my solution is that for all things that could be considered a violation of good sportsmanship I will severely jack your points if it is a debate where I subjectively decide the other team should not be responsible for checking you.SO
-If I think you are clipping cards/stealing prep/misquoting evidence/lying in cx in the finals of the TOC vs another excellent team I would expect the other team to catch you
-If I think you are clipping cards/stealing prep/misquoting evidence/lying in cx during a preset vs a vastly inferior team I will severely dock your speaker points
Email chain: rrn.debate [at] gmail [dot] com
Background: Mamaroneck High School, University of Southern California – Policy Debate
Tech over truth. Any biases and gaps in knowledge can be corrected for by good debating. I will minimize judge intervention. Good rebuttals include judge instruction, frame arguments, highlight a few core issues, and compare/maximize offense.
Be clear, don’t be surprised when an argument I can’t flow doesn’t make it into my decision. I do not look at docs during speeches, am slow at typing, and on average get down 60% of your speech down on my flow.
Don't clip, be rude, or lie.
Novices should endorse clash.
I agree with Ken Karas on most everything.
Coach for Head-Royce HS, undergrad at UChicago
Did flex stuff in HS, tend to get preffed into clash or KvK debates but have voted pretty close to even in FW debates, fine for sketch impact turns
Email at ramaswamyvik[at]gmail[dot]com if you want my full paradigm
This is my twenty sixth year as an active member of the policy debate community. After debating in both high school and college I immediately jumped into coaching high school policy debate. I have been an argument coach, full time debate instructor, program director, and argument coach again for Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart in Miami, FL for the past seventeen years.
I become more convinced every year that the switch side nature of policy debate represents one of the most valuable tools to inoculate young people against dogmatism. I also believe the skills developed in policy debate – formulating positions using in depth research that privileges consensus, expertise, and data and the testing of those positions via multiple iterations—enhance students’ ability to think critically.
I am particularly fond of policy debate as the competitive aspect incentivizes students to keep abreast of current events and use that information to formulate opinions regarding how various levels of government should respond to societal needs.
Equipping students with the skills to meaningfully engage political institutions has been incredibly valuable for me. Many of my debate students have been Latina/Latinx. Witnessing them develop an expert ability to navigate institutions, that were by design obfuscated to ensure their exclusion, continues to be one of the most rewarding experiences of my life and I am constantly grateful for that privilege.Delivery and speaker points
I am deeply concerned by the ongoing trend toward clash avoidance. This practice makes debate seem more trivial each year and continues to denigrate our efforts in the eyes of the academics we depend on for funding and support.
Affirmatives continue to lean into vague plan writing and vague explanations of what they will defend. This makes for late breaking and poorly developed debates. I understand why students engage in these practices (the competitive incentive I lauded above) I wish instructors and coaches understood how much more meaningful their contributions would be if they empowered students to embrace clash over gimmicks.
I will be less persuaded by your delivery if you choose to engage in clash avoidance. Actions such as deleting analytics, refusal to specify plans, cps, and K alts, allowing your wiki to atrophy, and proliferating stale competition style and Intrinsicness arguments will result in my awarding fewer speaker points.
Remember your friends’ hot takes and even your young coaches/lab leaders’ hot takes are just that – they are likely not the debates most of your critics want to adjudicate.
If you are not flowing during the debate, it will be difficult to persuade me that you were the most skilled debater in the room.
Be “on deck.” By that I mean be warmed up and ready for your turn at bat. Have your table tote set up, the email thread ready, you pens/paper/timer out, your laptop charged, go to the restroom before the round, fill up your water bottle, etc. I don’t say all this to sound like a mean teacher – in fact I think it would be incredibly ableist to really harp on these things or refuse to let students use the facilities mid-round – but being ready helps the round proceed on time and keeps you in the zone which helps your ability to project a confident winning persona. It also demonstrates a consideration for me, your opponents, your coaches and teammates and the tournament staffs’ time.
Be kind and generous to everyone.Argument predispositions
You can likely deduce most of this from the discussion of clash avoidance and why I value debate above.
I would prefer to see a debate wherein the affirmative defends the USFG should increase security cooperation with the NATO over AI, Biotech, and/or cybersecurity.
I would like to see the negative rejoin with hypothetical disadvantages to enacting the plan as well as introducing competing proposals for resolving the harms outlined by the affirmative.
One of the more depressing impacts to enrolling in graduate school has been the constant reminder that in truth impact d is >>> than impact ev. A few years ago, I was increasingly frustrated by teams only extending a DA and impact defense vs. the case – I thought this was responsible for a trend of fewer and fewer affirmatives with intrinsic advantages. I made a big push for spending at least 50% of the time on each case flow vs the internal link of the advantage. My opinion on this point is changing. Getting good at impact defense is tremendously valuable – you are likely examining peer reviewed highly qualified publications and their debunking of well…less than qualified publications.
I find Climate to be one of the most strategic and persuasive impacts in debate (life really). That said, most mechanisms to resolve climate presented in debates are woefully inadequate.
I am not averse to any genre of argument. Every genre has highs and lows. For example, not all kritiks are generic or have cheating alternatives, not all process counterplans are unrelated to the topic, and not all politics disadvantages are missing fundamental components but sometimes they are and you should work to avoid those deficiencies.Like minds
The folks with whom I see debate similarly:
Dr. Brett Bricker
Note: Once my timer goes off, I am no longer flowing what you say.
I want to be on the email chain: firstname.lastname@example.org
I debate College Policy for 4 years at NYU. Earlier in college I read more soft left Affs with performative elements, but I've been getting progressively more performative and more kritical as my college career progresses. That means I'm open to hearing whatever arguments you want to read as long as you're able to defend it. In terms of policy, I've never read a strictly "policy" AFF, but I've coached teams reading them and am familiar with that style. With this in mind, you should read whatever makes you most comfortable and confident and I'll vibe with you.
Flow - I will flow what I hear. If you're fast, I can keep up as long as you're clear. If I can't understand you I will say "clear." I flow performative elements (music, poetry, dance), but if you think I might not flow something, flag it for me. It's your job to tell me what is most important, I won't do that work for you.
Flashing/email chain - Be organized. I don't want to wait 5 minutes for you to reply to the email chain or flash files. If I feel like you're taking too long prep time will start again. Don't waste my, your opponent's, or your partner's time. Stealing prep is disrespectful and if I see it, your speaker points will be docked. That applies to Novices too (although my threshold is a bit higher) because it's important to get into good habits from the beginning.
Speaking/CX - Be respectful. I love sass and attitude in CX and in speeches, but be aware of where the line is between sass and disrespect. This includes being disrespectful to your own partner (don't talk over them during CX). Debate should be a community and space where we all feel safe, if you jeopardize that and the other team problematizes and impacts this out, I am willing to vote on that outweighing all of your hypothetical policy impacts. If you make me laugh your speaks are going up.
FW/T - I will vote on T and FW, so feel free to read it in front of me. For both AFFs and NEGs, you need to have a clear abuse story and explain to me why your interpretation creates a better model of debate. Don't just say "our model of debate is better for fairness and education," you must also prove to me why those things are necessary and good and why the counter-interp is insufficient.
K - I mostly read them in college and they are my favorite arguments in debate. THERE SHOULD BE CLASH WITH THE AFFIRMATIVE. You need to link specifically to something in the AFF, not the squo. Even though I am familiar with K lit, I'm not going to do work for you. Explain clearly and have a compelling story. You need to show me the world of the Kritik. If at the end of the debate I don't understand what your alt is (how it functions, what it looks like, how it resolves the links, how/if it solves the AFF) I probably won't vote for it. You should be giving explanations that compare the world of the AFF and the world of the K.
NOTE: Be careful if you read anthro against anti-blackness teams. I find it is often argued in very problematic ways and I typically hate hearing anthro in those rounds. I have, however, voted for anthro many times (unfortunately), so it can be done successfully, just TREAD CAREFULLY.
DA - Here, it's all about the link and impact debate. Have specific links to the plan and have a cohesive impact story. If you're going for the DA, I want to hear in depth impact comparisons. If everyone is claiming the same impacts or everything leads to extinction, you will need a more robust story to get me to prioritize the DA. My preference is that you read a CP that solves for the DA. If you're not reading a CP that can overcome the DA, make it clear to me why this is worse than the squo.
CP - It's all about solvency and competition. That means you need to have a net benefit.
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Affiliation - USC
Read what you want. I don't understand the separation between teams calling themselves "policy debaters" or "K debaters."
I think that dropped arguments are mostly true and conceded arguments are 100% true.
I am growing increasingly concerned with highlighting and evidence tagging, word salad highlighting and "the aff causes extinction" are not acceptable.
Reading a 10 card link wall is not always preferable to less cards and more thinking.
I think of debate as a competing research activity.
- If I can't tell a coherent narrative about your side in the RFD I'm probably not going to vote for you.
- My favorite speech is CX, but this is not a speech for you to get more arguments in. I prefer when the Cx'er listens to their opponent and asks strategic follow-up questions.
- All debates ARE ABOUT LISTENING, if you show me you are actively engaged in your opponent’s arguments your speaker points will increase, if you are not listening I will be super upset.
FW: I think the best FW debating answers the question of why FW is important for the thing that the aff is trying to solve for. This can include the necessity of having a fair game and a ballot that reflects the desirability of fairness. However, if you go for FW as some abstract Willy Wonka thing, chances are you are going to lose on the impact turn.
- Not a fan of the approach of listing a bunch of bad/good debaters. None of us know these people and you can be a bad person and debate either style of argumentation. Same goes for aff solvency, not sure how 5 debaters doing x good thing after debate is evidence of reading the aff being good.
- Not a fan of reading the advocacy statement with US should in front of it and calling it a TVA
- Affs should defend "some-thing" that I can endorse.
- Not a fan of "debate is a game" "no it's not, debate is my life" - obviously debate is both, make me understand why a limited/predictable game O/W their offense and vise-versa.
Theory - Will vote on any theory although the vast majority are not reasons to reject the team. Often times two teams read debate buzzwords and expect me to weigh debatbility vs. real world neg flex - hard to resolve.
I'm comfortable voting on presumption if your K aff isn't explained or I couldn't explain the central goal of the 1AC EVEN IF presumption is not an argument in the 2NR.
There are some arguments that in order to win in front of me will need quality evidence to back it up. Debating about the "earth being flat" or "climate change is good for x because island populations will survive and repopulate - only 4 billion oppressed people will die" are such examples. I don't think anyone's livelihood is improved in relation to the time we would spend making these arguments. BUT if the evidence shows a dedication to the subject in order to actually make us better able to combat the position "in the real-world" I will consider much less of my own ethical concerns in making the decision. There is a difference in playing devils advocate and just being ignorant.
I will tell you "clearer" twice - If I have to tell you once assume I am following along with the whole doc. I won't take initiative in stopping the round based on clipping, but if the other team issues a challenge and stakes the round on it chances are I will have made up my mind. Absent this challenge card clipping and unclarity will just be reflected in your speaker points.
Furthermore, an ethics violation is only an ethics violation if the team stakes the round on it. If a position is introduced and debated through the round it is just a procedural. If the other team truly violated the rules either end the round and I will decide or make actual impact claims as to why rule violations are bad and I will vote on the substance of the argument.
Update Berkeley LD 2023 - I am open to your wacky tricks, moral debates, or whatever I may be forgetting, but it is hard to believe "you skewed my time" *mic drop* is a reason to vote on some random theory.
I see that third level clash is difficult in LD which reveals to me that contextualization will literally win you the TOC.
good 1NCs will be small and have a ton of preempts.
peninsula 22 ucla 26
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i don't flow off doc
limited topic knowledge
Peninsula '22 | USC '26
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Did policy for three years LD for one year. Clarity > speed - if I can’t hear your argument I’m not going to flow it. Be nice!
Ran almost exclusively policy in high school so very comfortable with these debates. Especially love counterplan competition debates and in-depth DA turns case/case turns DA.
I don't like it unless there is in-round abuse. Reasonability and DTA are powerful, especially if explained thoroughly. My view of reasonability is that I should weigh the impact of the abuse versus the benefits a debate over the topic. Don't run ridiculous theory arguments.
Condo is good.
Your critique should directly disagree with the plan or implicate the solvency of the case in someway. I do not like links of omission. Links should be clearly explained and turn/ow case. Case is critical in the debates, if you do not touch it I probably won't vote for the K.
Read a plan!
Not comfortable with evaluating these debates.
Don't run any calc indicts, frivolous theory, and random independent voting issues.
Debate is a research game. Demonstrate topic knowledge, and you'll earn high speaker points. Isolate one or two questions to hinge the debate on, and you'll have an easier path to victory.
You don't have to read a plan. Just impact turn framework. Don't need an elaborate explanation of your vision of debate.
Fairness is an impact.
Evidence quality matters a little more than in-round strategy. That being said, dropped arguments are true (though it'll be hard to convince me that a 1NC DA shell with 50 words highlighted is a "complete" argument).
Conditionality is good. Unlikely to vote on cheap-shot theory arguments unless dropped.
Topicality usually comes down to evidence quality. If you're decidedly right about the meaning of a word, then you'll probably win. If there's some ambiguity in this, then case-lists help your case better than a generic under/over-limiting block.
Critiques should dispute the reasons to vote affirmative. In other words, not a fan of negative strategies that consist entirely of frivolous pre-requisite questions and framework interpretations. The K should make sense in a world where the plan happens.
Counterplans that compete off of certainty/immediacy are not ideal.
Feel free to post-round.
Send out the 1AC before the speech.
On Evidence Ethics
I have judged a handful of high stakes debates this year that were decided on evidence ethics. I’ve found that these decisions are inevitably unsatisfying as they will rely on my own subjective assessment of the argument in question.
I can safely say that I am completely unqualified to judge these debates. I am not on Twitter or Facebook, and I do not interact with debate people regularly outside of tournaments. I do not know what the community consensus is on certain authors, and I will feel uncomfortable rendering a personal judgement an author’s character after hearing 10 minutes of spreading on the subject.
In hopes of giving debaters some foresight, I would like to clarify my perspective on this genre of theory argument. High stakes evidence ethics challenges (e.g. “reject the team because they included the wrong author qualifications”, “reject the team because [author] is problematic”) will require a high burden of proof and an egregious violation. I have a strong predisposition against positioning these ethics challenges as reasons to fully disregard the rest of your opponents arguments, and I would prefer to just reject the argument in question rather than to hinge my decision on it.
In these circumstances, I would suggest clearly explaining which of your opponents arguments I should throw out if I resolve this challenge in your favor.
Would rejecting this author evaporate your opponent’s framework argument? Should the negative even be allowed to substitute this author with another that makes a similar argument? You’re likely to get further with me by detailing the implications of this ethics challenge in terms of the rest of the debate rather than relying on me to assume that I should automatically make it a gateway issue.
I would suggest finding other ways outside of a competitive debate argument to navigate this ethical challenge rather than placing it in my hands as a judge.
For PF: Speaks capped at 27.5 if you don't read cut cards (with tags) and send speech docs via email chain prior to your speech of cards to be read (in constructives, rebuttal, summary, or any speech where you have a new card to read). I'm done with paraphrasing and pf rounds taking almost as long as my policy rounds to complete. Speaks will start at 28.5 for teams that do read cut cards and do send speech docs via email chain prior to speech. In elims, since I can't give points, it will be a overall tiebreaker.
For Policy: Speaks capped at 28 if I don't understand each and every word you say while spreading (including cards read). I will not follow along on the speech doc, I will not read cards after the debate (unless contested or required to render a decision), and, thus, I will not reconstruct the debate for you but will just go off my flow. I can handle speed, but I need clarity not a speechdoc to understand warrants. Speaks will start at 28.5 for teams that are completely flowable. I'd say about 85% of debaters have been able to meet this paradigm.
I'd also mostly focus on the style section and bold parts of other sections.
2018 update: College policy debaters should look to who I judged at my last college judging spree (69th National Debate Tournament in Iowa) to get a feeling of who will and will not pref me. I also like Buntin's new judge philosophy (agree roughly 90%).
It's Fall 2015. I judge all types of debate, from policy-v-policy to non-policy-v-non-policy. I think what separates me as a judge is style, not substance.
I debated for Texas for 5 years (2003-2008), 4 years in Texas during high school (1999-2003). I was twice a top 20 speaker at the NDT. I've coached on and off for highschool and college teams during that time and since. I've ran or coached an extremely wide diversity of arguments. Some favorite memories include "china is evil and that outweighs the security k", to "human extinction is good", to "predictions must specify strong data", to "let's consult the chinese, china is awesome", to "housing discrimination based on race causes school segregation based on race", to "factory farms are biopolitical murder", to “free trade good performance”, to "let's reg. neg. the plan to make businesses confident", to “CO2 fertilization, SO2 Screw, or Ice Age DAs”, to "let the Makah whale", etc. Basically, I've been around.
After it was pointed out that I don't do a great job delineating debatable versus non-debatable preferences, I've decided to style-code bold all parts of my philosophy that are not up for debate. Everything else is merely a preference, and can be debated.
I strongly prefer to let the debaters do the debating, and I'll reward depth (the "author+claim + warrant + data+impact" model) over breadth (the "author+claim + impact" model) any day.
When evaluating probabilistic predictions, I start from the assumption everyone begins at 0%, and you persuade me to increase that number (w/ claims + warrants + data). Rarely do teams get me past 5%. A conceeded claim (or even claim + another claim disguised as the warrant) will not start at 100%, but remains at 0%.
Combining those first two essential stylistic criteria means, in practice, many times I discount entirely even conceded, well impacted claims because the debaters failed to provide a warrant and/or data to support their claim. It's analogous to failing a basic "laugh" test. I may not be perfect at this rubric yet, but I still think it's better than the alternative (e.g. rebuttals filled with 20+ uses of the word “conceded” and a stack of 60 cards).
I'll try to minimize the amount of evidence I read to only evidence that is either (A) up for dispute/interpretation between the teams or (B) required to render a decision (due to lack of clash amongst the debaters). In short: don't let the evidence do the debating for you.
Humor is also well rewarded, and it is hard (but not impossible) to offend me.
I'd also strongly prefer if teams would slow down 15-20% so that I can hear and understand every word you say (including cards read). While I won't explicitly punish you if you don't, it does go a mile to have me already understand the evidence while you're debating so I don't have to sort through it at the end (especially since I likely won't call for that card anyway).
- Defense can win a debate (there is such as thing as a 100% no link), but offense helps more times than not.
I'm a big believer in open disclosure practices, and would vote on reasoned arguments about poor disclosure practices. In the perfect world, everything would be open-source (including highlighting and analytics, including 2NR/2AR blocks), and all teams would ultimately share one evidence set. You could cut new evidence, but once read, everyone would have it. We're nowhere near that world. Some performance teams think a few half-citations work when it makes up at best 45 seconds of a 9 minute speech. Some policy teams think offering cards without highlighting for only the first constructive works. I don't think either model works, and would be happy to vote to encourage more open disclosure practices. It's hard to be angry that the other side doesn't engage you when, pre-round, you didn't offer them anything to engage.
You (or your partner) must physically mark cards if you do not finish them. Orally saying "mark here" (and expecting your opponents or the judge to do it for you) doesn't count. After your speech (and before cross-ex), you should resend a marked copy to the other team. If pointed out by the other team, failure to do means you must mark prior to cross-ex. I will count it as prep time times two to deter sloppy debate.
By default, I will not “follow along” and read evidence during a debate. I find that it incentivizes unclear and shallow debates. However, I realize that some people are better visual than auditory learners and I would classify myself as strongly visual. If both teams would prefer and communicate to me that preference before the round, I will “follow along” and read evidence during the debate speeches, cross-exs, and maybe even prep.
I like competing interpretations, the more evidence the better, and clearly delineated and impacted/weighed standards on topicality.
Abuse makes it all the better, but is not required (doesn't unpredictability inherently abuse?).
Treat it like a disad, and go from there. In my opinion, topicality is a dying art, so I'll be sure to reward debaters that show talent.
For the aff – think offense/defense and weigh the standards you're winning against what you're losing rather than say "at least we're reasonable". You'll sound way better.
The exception to the above is the "framework debate". I find it to be an uphill battle for the neg in these debates (usually because that's the only thing the aff has blocked out for 5 minutes, and they debate it 3 out of 4 aff rounds).
If you want to win framework in front of me, spent time delineating your interpretation of debate in a way that doesn't make it seem arbitrary. For example "they're not policy debate" begs the question what exactly policy debate is. I'm not Justice Steward, and this isn't pornography. I don't know when I've seen it. I'm old school in that I conceptualize framework along “predictability”; "topic education", “policymaking education”, and “aff education” (topical version, switch sides, etc) lines.
“We're in the direction of the topic” or “we discuss the topic rather than a topical discussion” is a pretty laughable counter-interpretation.
For the aff, "we agree with the neg's interp of framework but still get to weigh our case" borders on incomprehensible if the framework is the least bit not arbitrary.
Depth in explanation over breadth in coverage. One well explained warrant will do more damage to the 1AR than 5 cards that say the same claim.
Well-developed impact calculus must begin no later than the 1AR for the Aff and Negative Block for the Neg.
I enjoy large indepth case debates. I was 2A who wrote my own community unique affs usually with only 1 advantage and no external add-ons. These type of debates, if properly researched and executed, can be quite fun for all parties.
Intrinsic perms are silly. Normal means arguments are less so.
From an offense/defense paradigm, conceded uniqueness can control the direction of the link. Conceded links can control the direction of uniqueness. The in round application of "why" is important.
A story / spin is usually more important (and harder for the 1AR to deal with) than 5 cards that say the same thing.
I generally prefer functionally competitive counterplans with solvency advocates delineating the counterplan versus the plan (or close) (as opposed to the counterplan versus the topic), but a good case for textual competition can be made with a language K netbenefit.
Conditionality (1 CP, SQ, and 1 K) is a fact of life, and anything less is the negative feeling sorry for you (or themselves). However, I do not like 2NR conditionality (i.e., “judge kick”) ever. Make a decision.
Perms and theory always remain a test of competition (and not a voter) until proven otherwise by the negative by argument (see above), a near impossible standard for arguments that don't interfere substantially with other parts of the debate (e.g. conditionality).
Perm "do the aff" is not a perm. Debatable perms are "do both" and "do cp/alt"(and "do aff and part of the CP" for multi-plank CPs). Others are usually intrinsic.
I think of the critique as a (usually linear) disad and the alt as a cp.
Be sure to clearly impact your critique in the context of what it means/does to the aff case (does the alt solve it, does the critique turn it, make harms inevitable, does it disprove their solvency). Latch on to an external impact (be it "ethics", or biopower causes super-viruses), and weigh it against case.
Use your alternative to either "fiat uniqueness" or create a rubric by which I don't evaluate uniqueness, and to solve case in other ways.
I will say upfront the two types of critique routes I find least persuasive are simplistic versions of "economics", "science", and "militarism" bad (mostly because I have an econ degree and am part of an extensive military family). While good critiques exist out there of both, most of what debaters use are not that, so plan accordingly.
For the aff, figure out how to solve your case absent fiat (education about aff good?), and weigh it against the alternative, which you should reduce to as close as the status quo as possible. Make uniqueness indicts to control the direction of link, and question the timeframe/inevitability/plausability of their impacts.
Perms generally check clearly uncompetitive alternative jive, but don't work too well against "vote neg". A good link turn generally does way more than “perm solves the link”.
Aff Framework doesn't ever make the critique disappear, it just changes how I evaluate/weigh the alternative.
Role of the Ballot - I vote for the team that did the better debating. What is "better" is based on my stylistic criteria. End of story. Don't let "Role of the Ballot" be used as an excuse to avoid impact calculus.
Performance (the other critique):
Empirically, I do judge these debate and end up about 50-50 on them. I neither bandwagon around nor discount the validity of arguments critical of the pedagogy of debate. I'll let you make the case or defense (preferably with data). The team that usually wins my ballot is the team that made an effort to intelligently clash with the other team (whether it's aff or neg) and meet my stylistic criteria. To me, it's just another form of debate.
However, I do have some trouble in some of these debates in that I feel most of what is said is usually non-falsifiable, a little too personal for comfort, and devolves 2 out of 3 times into a chest-beating contest with competition limited to some archaic version of "plan-plan". I do recognize that this isn't always the case, but if you find yourselves banking on "the counterplan/critique doesn't solve" because "you did it first", or "it's not genuine", or "their skin is white"; you're already on the path to a loss.
If you are debating performance teams, the two main takeaways are that you'll probably lose framework unless you win topical version, and I hate judging "X" identity outweighs "Y" identity debates. I suggest, empirically, a critique of their identity politics coupled with some specific case cards is more likely to get my ballot than a strategy based around "Framework" and the "Rev". Not saying it's the only way, just offering some empirical observations of how I vote.
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Notre Dame high school - 2018
more school - 2022
Clear, both argumentatively and speaking wise, debates are good. Unclear and not ideologically consistent arguments are not as good. Teams that tell good stories, see how arguments interact with each other and contextualize warrants to the round are winning more debates. These are largely macro level skills built by being in lots of debates and thinking about how arguments work outside of debates. Debaters that are having fun are also probably happier and gaining more from the activity.
There is an inherent risk in presenting arguments, that is a good thing. Taking these types of intellectual risks helps you grow both in what you know, how you have come to know it, and in presenting knowledge into a community. Leaving your argumentative comfort zone is the only way to improve these skills, wether you are reading the new argument or a new argument is presented to you in round.
debate is an intellectual free for all, debate however you feel the most confident and comfortable.
I am not a stone tablet, i have my preconceptions on how the world works and arguments that surround the nature of our reality formulated by experiences both in and out of debate. I do think the threshold for proving subject formation through debate is maybe lower for me, but I find teams saying alt causes "school, family, work etc." are not giving warrants as to why those are larger internal links than debate to formulating world views.
I think framework is a question of competing visions/models of debate and how to operate within intellectual spaces/what types of scholarship is produced. Usually procedural fairness is an internal link that needs to be impacted - on its own saying "but fairness" is not responsive to teams who are going for subject/clash/in round impacts. I do think that the impact turn debate on fw is good and usually better than the counter interp and redefining words. Same with material alt action vs just 'scholarship' debates.
I find the internal link debate to be the most important in most of these rounds, the aff normally is better at identifying the application and relevancy of these in roads to education impacts. Not enough negative teams are defending why their model of debate is good, actually good, not just being the norm -- why are debates good under a resolutional question if the ground you claim to lose in cross ex is the process counterplan and politics disad? Why is that ground better than the education produced by the aff's ground/theory? I do think framework is a good argument and that policy debate has solid merits, but it is important to actually defend those skills.
The best arguments and debates I hear are happen when all parties are familiar with the ideas being discussed, that creates a depth based environment which is both more interesting to judge and more stimulating for debaters. Metabolization of information takes time and energy, probably why people learn so much from this activity. I think debates in which debaters have not read/understood the context in which their cards have been written, create much worse speeches and cross ex's than they realize.
If your opponents don't know why they are losing the round you aren't debating well. If you're well read on the lit base you are debating you should be able to explain it to them during your speech while still making convincing arguments that i could vote on. I would rather hear less arguments when they are explained, contextualized into some type of narrative or string of thoughts, than droning on in an overview about a theory of power with an omission link.
I do not care which team has flipped neg stop asking this question in cx, your examples and cx matter so much more than you think it does. I witness ethos fall apart so quickly through many things, not limited too: pepsi challenges, "look me in my eyes and tell me you voted on [x]", poor examples, wearing headphones during the debate, going on your phone, not flowing. All are horrible for your ethos, detrimental to your speaks, and make me SAD.
I think debate is fun, people do silly things, people make even sillier arguments. It is good to laugh about these things.
If I have judged you before the odds I remember who you are high and remember the RFD's I've given so making the same repeated errors is saddening. On the flipside seeing debaters improve across the season and years is awesome. I am rooting for you to get smarter, stronger and faster.
impact turns, evidence call outs, author quals, re-highlights, authors calling out other authors, all good things
multi plank counter plans are as many conditional worlds as there are planks unless you group them all together and say no plank kicking.
Judge kick: advocate for your position or don't. Every time i hear "judge kick the CP if we aren't winning it." I hear scared. I'll do it, but I will be unhappy.
not a fan of 'insert ev' just read it, if it is actually that good of an argument you should be reading it anyway.
update for Notre Dame: Second tournament, judged 8 rounds so far this year, I volunteer coach for one team in a limited capacity on the high school topic, I have some familiarity with common topic acronyms and arguments.
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THE IMPORTANT PART: I try to be totally agnostic when reaching decisions, but in terms of my experience I will probably be the most effective judge for clash of civs and kritik debates. I mostly answered framework and kritiks as a 1A and my neg debates were almost exclusively 1-off settler colonialism. That being said I've found myself more and more agnostic on the question of framework. I will absolutely vote on framework against a k aff, and my experience in very technical framework debates can probably help you because I can understand how your arguments interact. Trying to win framework versus a k aff in front of me means that a switch side claim or a TVA (the TVA probably being more persuasive) is very important, as I believe that framework teams should be able to provide for the education of the aff under their interp.
And a bit about me, plus general thoughts on debate
I'm Jack, I was a 1A/2N. I debated for three years for Davis Senior High School in CX, I attended the TOC my senior year. I did NPDA for two years for UCSD with no major accomplishments, now I'm at UCLA and I'm getting back into judging and coaching in high school CX. If you have questions about debating and growing at a team without debate infrastructure I have a LOT of experience with that, having had to do that in both high school and college. I read queerness arguments on the aff and settler colonialism on the neg.
I'll be able to understand pretty much any rate of speed but I can only write so fast, so slow down a little bit on your very technical and in-depth analytic shells .
Tech>truth, but it's close. I can definitely be persuaded the other way. Additionally, I think that truth can be a substitute for tech, but that tech probably cannot be a substitute for truth. True arguments require a higher amount of contextualization to your opponents arguments, and I have a higher threshold to buy these kinds of arguments because you only need to win a few to win the round. I have not yet voted for a kritik that did not win either the efficacy of their alt or their framework interpretation, I could see voting for such a kritik only if your link card is particular spicy and turns case-y (and even then it's still helpful to have framework).
I don't like having to reread speech docs. I will default to the contextualization that I hear in the round of cards, interpretations, linear disadvantages, and advocacies. This means that you have substantial latitude to spin your arguments, but also that I will hold you to a high standard for explanation and cross-application. The way that different arguments implicitly interact will very rarely come into my decision
When I reach a decision, the first place I look is the 2NR and 2AR. The role of these last two speeches is to explain how I write my ballot for each side. The 2NR should tell me where to look on my flow when crafting a negative decision, and the inverse for the affirmative. I will probably first try to evaluate the relative impacts of the affirmative and negative, based off of the framework/impact debate. Additionally, when reaching my decision I will try to look at the round through both the viewpoint of the affirmative and negative as they portray it in their final rebuttal.
After I reach and type out my decision, I will take the losing teams final rebuttal and resolve every argument on the flow based off my decision. Until I have done that I am not positive who I am voting for, but by the time the debate ends I am probably 60-70% sure who won the round.
I'll probably inflate your speaker points, just don't be racist, sexist, homophobic, etc.
Peninsula '21, Cal '25
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For online debate: if I'm not in frame of the camera, don't start your speech.
*I have moderate familiarity with the NATO topic.
Top level, these preferences are a set of ideologies that I abide by, but can be reversed through technical debating. However, even though I firmly believe in tech > truth, every argument needs to be complete for me to vote on it. A 5 second ASPEC argument is probably not complete.
T/CP/DA: I find that evidence quality is quintessential - I slightly lean towards a legally precise definition that reflects consensus rather than a debateability push. But, can be easily swayed for either side. If you're aff and its soft left with a framing advantage, actually debate the DA. Riders are probably not legitimate. Neg on CP theory, unless it's an instance of extreme abuse. I will default to kicking the CP for the neg if there's nothing said. Solvency advocates aren't necessary, but coherent explanations of solvency are.
K: Good if they disprove why I should vote affirmative, but if they're something like the fiat makes me sad K, I will almost certainly vote against you. Will usually let the aff weigh the material consequences of the aff if framework is debated out equally by both teams.
Non-traditional affs: Fairness is an impact, you can also go for others. Probably not the best judge for the aff teams. A lot of the time, I find it difficult to see how the ballot resolves aff impacts.
Theory: Condo is generally good.
Other things -
My preferences have been influenced significantly by these people: Dhruv Sudesh, Kevin Sun, and Scott Wheeler. If any part of this philosophy is confusing, you should look at theirs.
Card quality matters, I will always value smart analytics over terrible evidence (although a claim has much more significance/credibility when tied to an academic work).
Only insert images, read recuts.
1. Offense-defense, but can be persuaded by reasonability in theory debates. I don't believe in "zero risk" or "terminal defense" and don't vote on presumption.
2. Substantive questions are resolved probabilistically--only theoretical questions (e.g. is the perm severance, does the aff meet the interp) are resolved "yes/no," and will be done so with some unease, forced upon me by the logic of debate.
3. Dropped arguments are "true," but this just means the warrants for them are true. Their implication can still be contested. The exception to this is when an argument and its implication are explicitly conceded by the other team for strategic reasons (like when kicking out of a disad). Then both are "true."
1. Conditionality bad is an uphill battle. I think it's good, and will be more convinced by the negative's arguments. I also don't think the number of advocacies really matters. Unless it was completely dropped, the winning 2AR on condo in front of me is one that explains why the way the negative's arguments were run together limited the ability of the aff to have offense on any sheet of paper.
2. I think of myself as aff-leaning in a lot of counterplan theory debates, but usually find myself giving the neg the counterplan anyway, generally because the aff fails to make the true arguments of why it was bad.
1. I don't think I evaluate these differently than anyone else, really. Perhaps the one exception is that I don't believe that the affirmative needs to "win" uniqueness for a link turn to be offense. If uniqueness really shielded a link turn that much, it would also overwhelm the link. In general, I probably give more weight to the link and less weight to uniqueness.
2. On politics, I will probably ignore "intrinsicness" or "fiat solves the link" arguments, unless badly mishandled (like dropped through two speeches). Note: this doesn't apply to riders or horsetrading or other disads that assume voting aff means voting for something beyond the aff plan. Then it's winnable.
1. I like kritiks, provided two things are true: 1--there is a link. 2--the thesis of the K indicts the truth of the aff. If the K relies on framework to make the aff irrelevant, I start to like it a lot less (role of the ballot = roll of the eyes). I'm similarly annoyed by aff framework arguments against the K. The K itself answers any argument for why policymaking is all that matters (provided there's a link). I feel negative teams should explain why the affirmative advantages rest upon the assumptions they critique, and that the aff should defend those assumptions.
2. I think I'm less technical than some judges in evaluating K debates. Something another judge might care about, like dropping "fiat is illusory," probably matters less to me (fiat is illusory specifically matters 0%). I also won't be as technical in evaluating theory on the perm as I would be in a counterplan debate (e.g. perm do both isn't severance just because the alt said "rejection" somewhere--the perm still includes the aff). The perm debate for me is really just the link turn debate. Generally, unless the aff impact turns the K, the link debate is everything.
3. If it's a critique of "fiat" and not the aff, read something else. If it's not clear from #1, I'm looking at the link first. Please--link work not framework. K debating is case debating.
1. I'm *slightly* better for the aff now that aff teams are generally impact-turning the neg's model of debate. I almost always voted neg when they instead went for talking about their aff is important and thought their counter-interp somehow solved anything. Of course, there's now only like 3-4 schools that take me and don't read a plan. So I'm spared the debates where it's done particularly poorly.
2. A lot of things can be impacts to T, but fairness is probably best.
3. It would be nice if people read K affs with plans more, but I guess there's always LD. Honestly debating politics and util isn't that hard--bad disads are easier to criticize than fairness and truth.
Versus the K:
1. If it's a team's generic K against K teams, the aff is in pretty great shape here unless they forget to perm. I've yet to see a K aff that wasn't also a critique of cap, etc. If it's an on-point critique of the aff, then that's a beautiful thing only made beautiful because it's so rare. If the neg concedes everything the aff says and argues their methodology is better and no perms, they can probably predict how that's going to go. If the aff doesn't get a perm, there's no reason the neg would have to have a link.
Topicality versus plan affs:
1. I used to enjoy these debates. It seems like I'm voting on T less often than I used to, but I also feel like I'm seeing T debated well less often. I enjoy it when the 2NC takes T and it's well-developed and it feels like a solid option out of the block. What I enjoy less is when it isn't but the 2NR goes for it as a hail mary and the whole debate occurs in the last two speeches.
2. Teams overestimate the importance of "reasonability." Winning reasonability shifts the burden to the negative--it doesn't mean that any risk of defense on means the T sheet of paper is thrown away. It generally only changes who wins in a debate where the aff's counter-interp solves for most of the neg offense but doesn't have good offense against the neg's interp. The reasonability debate does seem slightly more important on CJR given that the neg's interp often doesn't solve for much. But the aff is still better off developing offense in the 1AR.
1. I've been judging LD less, but I still have LD students, so my familarity with the topic will be greater than what is reflected in my judging history.
2. Everything in the policy section applies. This includes the part about substantive arguments being resolved probablistically, my dislike of relying on framework to preclude arguments, and not voting on defense or presumption. If this radically affects your ability to read the arguments you like to read, you know what to do.
3. If I haven't judged you or your debaters in a while, I think I vote on theory less often than I did say three years ago (and I might have already been on that side of the spectrum by LD standards, but I'm not sure). I've still never voted on an RVI so that hasn't changed.
4. The 1AR can skip the part of the speech where they "extend offense" and just start with the actual 1AR.
add me to the email chain: firstname.lastname@example.org
Do not utter the phrase "plan text in a vacuum" or any other clever euphemism for it. It's not an argument, I won't vote on it, and you'll lose speaker points for advancing it. You should defend your plan, and I should be able to tell what the plan does by reading it.
Inserting things into the debate isn't a thing. If you want me to evaluate evidence, you should read it in the debate.
Cross-ex time is cross-ex time, not prep time. Ask questions or use your prep time, unless the tournament has an official "alt use" time rule.
You should debate line by line. That means case arguments should be responded to in the 1NC order and off case arguments should be responded to in the 2AC order. I continue to grow frustrated with teams that do not flow. If I suspect you are not flowing (I visibly see you not doing it; you answer arguments that were not made in the previous speech but were in the speech doc; you answer arguments in speech doc order instead of speech order), you will receive no higher than a 28. This includes teams that like to "group" the 2ac into sections and just read blocks in the 2NC/1NR. Also, read cards. I don't want to hear a block with no cards. This is a research activity.
Debate the round in a manner that you would like and defend it. I consistently vote for arguments that I don’t agree with and positions that I don’t necessarily think are good for debate. I have some pretty deeply held beliefs about debate, but I’m not so conceited that I think I have it all figured out. I still try to be as objective as possible in deciding rounds. All that being said, the following can be used to determine what I will most likely be persuaded by in close calls:
If I had my druthers, every 2nr would be a counterplan/disad or disad/case.
In the battle between truth and tech, I think I fall slightly on side of truth. That doesn’t mean that you can go around dropping arguments and then point out some fatal flaw in their logic in the 2AR. It does mean that some arguments are so poor as to necessitate only one response, and, as long as we are on the same page about what that argument is, it is ok if the explanation of that argument is shallow for most of the debate. True arguments aren’t always supported by evidence, but it certainly helps.
I think research is the most important aspect of debate. I make an effort to reward teams that work hard and do quality research on the topic, and arguments about preserving and improving topic specific education carry a lot of weight with me. However, it is not enough to read a wreck of good cards and tell me to read them. Teams that have actually worked hard tend to not only read quality evidence, but also execute and explain the arguments in the evidence well. I think there is an under-highlighting epidemic in debates, but I am willing to give debaters who know their evidence well enough to reference unhighlighted portions in the debate some leeway when comparing evidence after the round.
I think the affirmative should have a plan. I think the plan should be topical. I think topicality is a voting issue. I think teams that make a choice to not be topical are actively attempting to exclude the negative team from the debate (not the other way around). If you are not going to read a plan or be topical, you are more likely to persuade me that what you are doing is ‘ok’ if you at least attempt to relate to or talk about the topic. Being a close parallel (advocating something that would result in something similar to the resolution) is much better than being tangentially related or directly opposed to the resolution. I don’t think negative teams go for framework enough. Fairness is an impact, not a internal link. Procedural fairness is a thing and the only real impact to framework. If you go for "policy debate is key to skills and education," you are likely to lose. Winning that procedural fairness outweighs is not a given. You still need to defend against the other team's skills, education and exclusion arguments.
I don’t think making a permutation is ever a reason to reject the affirmative. I don’t believe the affirmative should be allowed to sever any part of the plan, but I believe the affirmative is only responsible for the mandates of the plan. Other extraneous questions, like immediacy and certainty, can be assumed only in the absence of a counterplan that manipulates the answers to those questions. I think there are limited instances when intrinsicness perms can be justified. This usually happens when the perm is technically intrinsic, but is in the same spirit as an action the CP takes This obviously has implications for whether or not I feel some counterplans are ultimately competitive.
Because I think topic literature should drive debates (see above), I feel that both plans and counterplans should have solvency advocates. There is some gray area about what constitutes a solvency advocate, but I don’t think it is an arbitrary issue. Two cards about some obscure aspect of the plan that might not be the most desirable does not a pic make. Also, it doesn’t sit well with me when negative teams manipulate the unlimited power of negative fiat to get around literature based arguments against their counterplan (i.e. – there is a healthy debate about federal uniformity vs state innovation that you should engage if you are reading the states cp). Because I see this action as comparable to an affirmative intrinsicness answer, I am more likely to give the affirmative leeway on those arguments if the negative has a counterplan that fiats out of the best responses.
My personal belief is probably slightly affirmative on many theory questions, but I don’t think I have voted affirmative on a (non-dropped) theory argument in years. Most affirmatives are awful at debating theory. Conditionality is conditionality is conditionality. If you have won that conditionality is good, there is no need make some arbitrary interpretation that what you did in the 1NC is the upper limit of what should be allowed. On a related note, I think affirmatives that make interpretations like ‘one conditional cp is ok’ have not staked out a very strategic position in the debate and have instead ceded their best offense. Appeals to reciprocity make a lot sense to me. ‘Argument, not team’ makes sense for most theory arguments that are unrelated to the disposition of a counterplan or kritik, but I can be persuaded that time investment required for an affirmative team to win theory necessitates that it be a voting issue.
Critical teams that make arguments that are grounded in and specific to the topic are more successful in front of me than those that do not. It is even better if your arguments are highly specific to the affirmative in question. I enjoy it when you paint a picture for me with stories about why the plans harms wouldn’t actually happen or why the plan wouldn’t solve. I like to see critical teams make link arguments based on claims or evidence read by the affirmative. These link arguments don’t always have to be made with evidence, but it is beneficial if you can tie the specific analytical link to an evidence based claim. I think alternative solvency is usually the weakest aspect of the kritik. Affirmatives would be well served to spend cross-x and speech time addressing this issue. ‘Our authors have degrees/work at a think tank’ is not a response to an epistemological indict of your affirmative. Intelligent, well-articulated analytic arguments are often the most persuasive answers to a kritik. 'Fiat' isn't a link. If your only links are 'you read a plan' or 'you use the state,' or if your block consistently has zero cards (or so few that find yourself regularly sending out the 2nc in the body rather than speech doc) then you shouldn't be preffing me.
LD Specific Business:
I am primarily a policy coach with very little LD experience. Have a little patience with me when it comes to LD specific jargon or arguments. It would behoove you to do a little more explanation than you would give to a seasoned adjudicator in the back of the room. I will most likely judge LD rounds in the same way I judge policy rounds. Hopefully my policy philosophy below will give you some insight into how I view debate. I have little tolerance and a high threshold for voting on unwarranted theory arguments. I'm not likely to care that they dropped your 'g' subpoint, if it wasn't very good. RVI's aren't a thing, and I won't vote on them.
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UGA '26 (Law)
Georgia Tech '23 (History and Sociology)
Woodward Academy ’20
Topic Knowledge: I judge a lot of debates (55 on NATO, 61 on Water, 93 on CJR) and am an Assistant Coach at Woodward.
Last Substantively Updated: 9/18/22
Short Version + Novices (est. 40 sec. to read)
"Debate like an adult. Show me the evidence. Attend to the details. Don't dodge, clash. Great research and informed comparisons win debates." — Bill Batterman
It’s probably not a voting issue.
Be an evidenced critic, not a cynic.
Do not request a marked copy in lieu of flowing.
I write formally, but I'm not a very serious person.
Depth of arguments should take precedence over quantity of arguments.
Tag-teaming is always "allowed" but almost always bad for speaker points.
An argument must be complete and comprehensible before there is a burden to answer it.
Write my ballot for me at the top of your late rebuttals, without using any debate jargon or hyperbole.
"Marking a card" means actually clearly marking that card on your computer (e.g. multiple Enter key pushes).
If you advocate something, at some point in the debate, you need to explain the tangible results of your advocacy without relying on any debate or philosophy jargon.
In-person: I have zero expectation for masks. Please act in accordance to your personal comfort and your opponents' comfort. If you need me to wear a mask, let me know.
There has been a significant decline in quality of speaking since online debate started because debaters became less familiar with speaking directly to the judge and because judges gave more leeway to the absence of clarity due to the computer instrument. Judges should never have to rely on reading along with the speech document in order to flow tags/analytics. If you have no intonation nor emphasis during tags/analytics/rebuttals, you are a bad speaker.
Longer Version (est. 3.5 min. to read)
I really enjoy debate. Debate is the most rewarding activity I have ever done. But debate didn't always feel rewarding while I was doing it. Accordingly, I hope that everybody prioritizes having fun, and then learning and improving. If you do things that infringe on the ability of everyone to have fun, learn, and improve, I will be sad.
Focus more on depth in argument. Against good teams—good teams being those that are very unlikely to drop entire arguments—you will be left empty-handed in your final rebuttals if you lack highly-developed arguments because you tried to proliferate shallow arguments in earlier speeches in hope of your opponent dropping something. In-depth argument is also just way more engaging.
From Johnnie Stupek's paradigm: "I encourage debaters to adopt speaking practices that make the debate easier for me to flow including: structured line-by-line, clarity when communicating plan or counterplan texts, emphasizing important lines in the body of your evidence, and descriptively labelling off-case positions in the 1NC."
Purging your speech documents of analytics and then rocking through them will be just as likely to "trick" me into not flowing an argument as it will be your opponents.
I will vote on absolute defense.
Explain; don’t confuse.
I am familiar with most critiques.
Postmodernism— Debaters often mischaracterize ornamental absolutism in philosophical writings as almost-theological dogmatisms about how the world operates. This is anti-modern, not postmodern.
I have two major thoughts about critique links that may influence how you debate —
First is about link quality. exposed to critique links that it would be generous to call “silly;” many are factually untrue or are mirror-images of the worst “no solvency” policy arguments. When negatives rely on cycling the same, bad arguments to every affirmative, they become unevidenced cynics. In contrast, I find that the debaters who go into detail about the many parts of the 1AC that exhibit the flaws that they criticize develop the most convincing critiques.
Second is about link falsifiability. I remain highly unconvinced by arguments that rely on assertions about the motives of the other team. Accusations of “bad faith” are undebatable because they are just that: accusations, not to mention that you are likely butchering your scholarship.
If you are not black (team) and present afropessimist arguments, I urge you and your coach to recognize that this style of debate is anti-educational and actively racist. The acceptance of this practice is emblematic of racial objectification and cowardice by many non-black educators in debate. I am not going to interrogate anybody's relationship to blackness, but I agree with RW Evans that the incoherency of non-black afropessimism makes it "theoretical, redundant, and objectifying." Frank Wilderson III himself claims that he "grieves over" this appropriation (“Staying Ready for Black Study: A Conversation”).
Topicality is not a reverse voting issue.
Plan texts do not exist in a vacuum.
I have no reservations against the introduction of a topicality argument; I defer to the line-by-line.
I do not accept any aff conditionality. Defend your aff and comparatively weigh offense.
Anecdotal references to college debate rounds or to debaters that took on socially negative careers do not convince me of anything.
I won't vote on theory other than Conditionality/Dispositionality Bad (and Topicality) unless a team impacts out why using the ballot as a remedy is key. Otherwise, reject an argument or give leeway elsewhere.
I am highly sympathetic to affirmative complaints about counterplans that do nearly all of the affirmative and rely on competition based on very silly definitions of words (e.g. "should means immediate and certain") without solvency evidence advocating the counterplan-as-written.
I am also sympathetic to affirmative complaints about counterplans that compete solely based off of the agent and fiat multiple auxiliary policies without solvency evidence advocating the counterplan-as-written. The communal acceptance of this style of counterplan, with the States-multi-plank CP in mind, stagnates negative topic innovation and ends nearly all debate over topical policy. Ever hear about the Education Topic? I also find it questionable if the judge should choose between two different actors doing the same policy when no policymaker could be in a position to make that decision.
If you sign-post and refuse to answer hidden theory arguments, I will remove them from my flow and grant you speaker points.
I am a degrowth and climate change hack. T: Substantial against an (actually) unsubstantial aff is fun.
I am a utilitarian. However, I see categorical imperatives as having significant utilitarian value, and I think I am much more skeptical of "extinction first" than most judges. I find Bostrom-esque calculations of extinction to be incoherent.
Timeframe often needs more impacting. Why does an event happening ten years from now make it less important than the same event happening now? Is it because there is a chance of intervening factors preventing the future impact (probability)? Is it because timing determines the ability of one impact to cause another?, etc.
With respect to Catastrophe Good arguments, "kill nearly everyone on Earth to destroy a particle accelerator that will consume the universe" is less convincing to me than a nihilism or misanthropy argument. I value accurate science.
I’m fine with post-rounding. Except, nearly every time I have witnessed post-rounding, it has been mostly whining and meanness. If you don’t have the maturity to do it, please don’t. Purposefully trying to fluster the judge will not give you quality answers.
In the instance that a team accuses the other of clipping, I will follow the NDCA clipping guidelines (2).
I would consider voting against a team for anything that is academically dishonest.
https://the3nr.com/2016/04/15/an-updated-speaker-point-scale-based-on-2015-2016-results/ (I inflate this).
Former pf/policy k debater, judging mostly policy, other events scroll to bottom.
TLDR: do what you do, make my life judging easy and I will boost speaks/affect the ballot. I like to see good preround strategy and understanding of what arguments will win you the round. Flexibility is a double-edged sword, and I like to see debaters who comfortably commit to their strongest arguments. Open to some level of postrounding, but is intended to be productive for you debaters. I won't pretend to be a slate, but I doubt any idea I strongly hold will affect my ballot. I am not good at sugarcoating rfds, do know that I respect every debater and their efforts and wish only the best to anyone in debate seeking to improve.
Everything below is how I perceive policy debate, take the implications for your round in particular with a grain of salt, I have a bad habit of being very fluid in my judging and it's hard to extrapolate judging intuition I’ve developed to concrete overarching views. I tend to shy away from debate jargon as much as possible, I think policy has evolved lots of buzzwords that I hold my nose voting on. I think there's more interesting ways to debate beyond prewritten "fairness, clash, education" blocks. I think about interesting arguments beyond a single round etc. I dislike the norm of the burden of a judge to be a calculator of sorts.
Obligatory evidence ethics blip here. I may judgekick args dependent on egregiously read cards. It shouldn't be a burden of the other team to call out bad ev, but I will reward teams that do so. It really shouldn't be my responsibility either, if you haven't read your own cards beyond highlights, it's on you. Sad cards = sad judge :(
I tend to think condo leans neg. the winning aff on condo sufficiently points out to how neg limits the ability of aff to have any offense anywhere. Perms test competition, group redundant ones, it makes my life easier. I think aff has much stricter burdens, probably lean towards judge kicking 90% of the time. 1NC cardless cps annoy me.
Link debate goes on top of K and if I don't see links in the 2ar/2nr something has probably gone quite wrong. Framework tends to be more boring to judge than link debate. Make the K do the work, not fw. The K should directly indict and answer questions typically debated on fw. Role of judge and role of ballot mostly go over my head. They usually just blanket some claims to obligatory debate ethics without addressing the other.
I get irritated by affs that are wishy washy with separating barriers in the squo from actualizing the ballot. "Debate space" "model" args have gotten quite meta but I constantly get the feeling that debaters would rather debate about that than debate in said debate spaces.
I don't judge performance affs that much, that said, I have no implicit reasons against voting for one.
Don't give me a subpar spreaded philosophy lecture posing to be relevant to the ballot please.
Run T like a DA, I like good T debate as much as the next guy. TVAs are fun, call out lazy K affs. That said when it comes to definition/contextual comparison please put in legwork to contextualize why I should take a certain card at face value. I dislike seeing carded definitions come out from completely irrelevant contexts (on this topic the most funny so far is citing unclos for "in the areas" when it refers to physical land) to push some abusive model to moot the aff. Theory should be a serious callout; I like efficient responses to trivial theory (E.g. running disclosure against a generic aff). I haven't yet dropped anyone on condo or disclosure absent it being completely dropped so if that's your "strats" maybe strike me.
Terminology and jargon is the bane of persuasive debate. I’m not caught up on a lot of jargon and it is my belief that it shouldn’t matter. make the purpose of your argument clear, and anything else should be irrelevant.
I think spreading to some extent has become a necessary evil to lots of debaters. prewritten blocks/theory/T etc a lot of the time will feel like it misses the spirit of whatever type of argument. it seems to me a crutch to avoid adaptation to any round, although the better teams I’ve judged seem to have a good grasp on both. TLDR technical debate should not be treated as a crutch for understanding how to be persuasive. It is substantially easier to debate something that is true/you feel is true. I will usually not intervene on the ballot for truth level claims, but I will think about them.
Go fast if you must, but I may lose things time to time especially if things get tacked on during speeches out of order. Emphasize card transitions and which off well and I will be happy. Quality>Quantity of args.
Not timing anything unless it’s an issue and any other questions you can just ask me. CX is very flexible, partners feel free to chime in. do whatever during your prep time and if everyone is ok with it, I have no issues.
I’m not a super finicky person about particulars like sending docs on time, missing x seconds of prep, etc. I find it hard to believe that teams doing this gain real advantages, and I’ve yet to judge a round where stealing time or trying to penny pinch small advantages really changes the debate in a substantial way. that said call out ridiculous violations and I’ll be all ears.
3 cards or less sent in body are fine unless super long, probably don't need a marked copy for <2 cards. I take evidence ethics seriously, arguments that depend on questionably cut cards will probably end up dropped unless you can justify it post round. I will rely on my potential circumstantial knowledge of current events if I hear something that sounds blatantly outdated and intervene if it is critical enough.
I'm not a speaks goblin, but I think they are arbitrary. >29 and I probably really liked how you debated/spoke etc. Anything less is probably just a placeholder/vaguely relevant to presentation/execution outside of the ballot.
Remember to have fun and be nice
Assume no topic knowledge, well informed overall so probably will have some biases, very few relevant hard stances so persuade me otherwise. If something sounds contradictory to what I know about current affairs, I will probably go snoop in the cards or discard relevant analysis unless I am shown otherwise.
Will probably disclose out of habit unless tab tells me not to.
Make it clear what you think wins you the round and it’s probably an easy ballot, tech is for ceremony but understand that winning an argument technically may have 0 relevance to my ballot if there isn't legwork to explode it./missed point. some stuff in Misc: may apply.
I have no idea what order and times LD speeches go, feel free to remind me where you're at, especially if there's a timeskew/related voter floating around. Simplify jargon for me, if it doesn't make sense to me I won't vote on it. LD now gives me the impression of partnerless policy with weird speech times, theory isn't run as much in policy so make it simpler for me to understand.
I used to be a pf debater. Treat it half as a speech focused event. Presentation should matter, convince me of something. In the spirit of the event, I value technical aspects of debate much less than being consistent, credible, and reasonable. Be a little creative with world-building and rhetoric and keep it traditional. Make my ballot easy and I will be happy. If you run disclosure I will probably drop you and your speaks. I know prog when I see prog. Condense for me, FF is 2 minutes, wrap everything up. Easiest way to condense is to not bring along baggage.
I probably cannot judge PF the same way a parent/layperson would, but I think that is the core of what judging in PF should look like, do not take me as some “technical judge” that you can progwalk on or have a “tech round.” I'm personally calloused to presentation/rhetoric, but I will try my best.
Card/evidence sharing in PF is a nightmare, I don't care to look at cards unless someone points it out in specific. If a card is written in bad faith enough I may just kick it straight up or drop the violating team. I think you can get by a lot with general topic knowledge/analytics>delusions about current events or outdated cards.
Skip the "order is our case their case weighing" (and variations) roadmaps.