National Debate Coaches Association National Championship
2020 — Bloomington, IN/US
Christopher Bryant Paradigm
I believe that public forum was designed to have a "john or sally doe" off the street come in and be a judge. That means that speaking clearly is absolutely essential. If I cannot understand you, I cannot weigh what you say. I also believe that clarity is important. Finally, I am a firm believer in decorum, that is, showing respect to your opponent. In this age of political polarization and uncompromising politics, I believe listening to your opponent and showing a willingness to give credence to your opponents arguments is one of the best lessons of public forum debate.
Steve Clemmons Paradigm
Debate Coach, Saratoga HS, proving that you can go home again.
Former Associate Director of Forensics University of Oregon, Santa Clara University, Debate Coach Saratoga High School
Years in the Activity: 20+ as a coach/director/competitor (Weber, LMU, Macalester, SCU and Oregon for college) (Skyline Oakland, Saratoga, Harker, Presentation, St. Vincent, New Trier, Hopkins, and my alma mater, JFK-Richmond R.I.P. for HS) (Weber State, San Francisco State as a competitor)
IN Public Forum, I PREFER THAT YOU ACTUALLY READ EVIDENCE THAN JUST PARAPHRASING. I guess what I am saying is that it is hard to trust your analysis of the evidence. The rounds have a flavor of Parliamentary Debate. Giving your opponent the entire article and expecting them to extract the authors intent is difficult. Having an actual card is key. If I call for a site, I do not want the article, I want the card. You should only show me the card, or the paragraph that makes your article.
This is not grounds for teams to think this means run PARAPHRASE Theory as a voter. Proliferation of procedural issues is not what this particular event is designed to do. You can go for it, but probability of me voting for it is low.
How to WIN THE DAY (to borrow from the UO motto)
1. TALK ABOUT THE TOPIC. The current debate topic gives you a lot of ground to talk about the topic and that is the types of debates that I prefer to listen to. If you are a team or individual that feels as though the topic is not relevant, then DO NOT PREF ME, or USE A STRIKE.
2. If you are attempting to have a “project” based debate (and who really knows what it means to have a project in today's debate world) then I should clearly understand the link to the topic and the relevance of your “project” to me. It can't always be about you. I think that many of the structural changes you are attempting to make do not belong in the academic ivory tower of debate. They belong in the streets. The people you are talking about most likely have never seen or heard a debate round and the speed in which some of this comes out, they would never be able to understand. I should know why it is important to have these discussions in debate rounds and why my ballot makes a difference. (As an aside, no one really cares about how I vote, outside the people in the round. You are going to have to convince me otherwise. This is my default setting.)
3.Appeals to my background have no effect on my decision. (Especially since you probably do not know me and the things that have happened in my life.) This point is important to know, because many of your K authors, I have not read, and have no desire to. (And don't believe) My life is focused on what I call the real world, as in the one where my bills have to be paid, my kid educated and the people that I love having food, shelter and clothing. So, your arguments about why debate is bad or evil, I am not feeling and may not flow. Debate is flawed, but it is usually because of the debaters. The activity feeds me and my family, so think about that before you speak ill about the activity, especially since you are actively choosing to be involved
They are independent of win/loss, although there is some correlation there. I will judge people on the way that they treat their partner, opponents and judge. Don' t think that because I have revealed the win, that your frustration with my decision will allow you to talk slick to me. First, I have no problem giving you under ten speaker points. Second, I will leave the room, leaving you talking to yourself and your partner. Third, your words will have repercussions, please believe.
FLASHING AND PREP TIME (ESPECIALLY FOR PUBLIC FORUM)
One of my basic rules for debate is that all time comes from somewhere. The time limits are already spelled out in the invite, so I will stick to that. Think of it as a form of a social contract.
With understanding that time comes from somewhere, there is no invisible pool of prep time that we are to use for flashing evidence over to the other team. Things would be much simpler if you got the cards DURING CX/Crossfire. You should either have a viewing computer, have it printed out, or be willing to wait until the speech is over. and use questioning time to get it.
Evidence that you read in PF, you should have pulled up before the round. It should not take minutes to find evidence. If you are asking for it, it is coming out of your prep time. If it is longer than 20 seconds to find the evidence, it is coming out of the offending teams time.
This should be primarily between the person who just spoke and the person who is not preparing to speak. Everyone gets a turn to speak and ask/answer questions. You are highlighting a difference in ability when you attempt to answer the questions for your partner, and this will be reflected on your speaker points. Crossfire for PF should really be the one question, one answer format. If you ask a question, then you should fall back and answer one from your opponent, or at least ask if a follow up is acceptable. It is not my fault if your question is phrased poorly. Crossfire factors into my speaker points. So, if you are allowing them to railroad you, don't expect great points. If you are attempting to get a bunch of questions in without allowing the other side to ask, same thing, it will be reflected in your points.
Evidence in PF
My background is in policy debate and LD as a competitor. (I did CEDA debate, LD and NDT in college and policy debate and LD in high school) I like evidence and the strategy behind finding it and deploying it in the round. I wish PF would read cards. But, paraphrasing is a thing. Your paraphrase should be textual, meaning that you should be able to point to a paragraph or two in the article that makes your point. Handing someone the article is not good enough. If you can't point to where in the article your argument is being made, then all the other team has to do is point this out, and I will ignore it. This was important enough that I say it twice in my paradigm.
This is far from complete, but feel free to ask me about any questions you might have before the round.
Chad Meadows Paradigm
LD Update 10/31
1 - For the foreseeable future, I plan to flow on paper. I think it makes me a more engaged and better critic of argument. I can become too distracted on my computer, and in the last couple of tournaments I've been disappointed in my ability to track argument interactions and provide quality feedback on argument construction.
2 - I will limit the number of times that I reference the speech docs during the round. During CX when evidence is referenced, I will read along with the debaters. I might check the doc while you're speaking to check for cross-reading, or to remedy confusion that I think is my fault, but I'm not going to fix your inability to communicate by reading the doc. By all means go fast, but be clear and git gud at the line-by-line.
*public forum paradigm notes at the bottom.
Debate should reward hard work. Your strategies and in round execution should reflect intensive research and thought about the topic/your opponents arguments.
Truth over Tech - but you have to be prepared to debate. I have strong preferences against nonsense, but you must be skilled enough to meet a minimum threshold for responsiveness.
Things to not do
Read topicality without a definition.
Read procedurals without implications for topicality.
Read a bunch of old debate articles/textbooks without links topic specific evidence.
Make a bunch of underdeveloped defensive arguments and appeal to presumption.
Make a bunch of shallow offensive arguments and appeal to “try or die”.
Appeal to the rules as a primary strategy.
Argue that an argument type should be excluded from NFA-LD.
Rely on an RVI as a response to Topicality. I don’t even flow it.
Pretend that a stock issues paradigm is a reliably valuable approach to evaluate policy controversies.
Be an unreasonable awful person as you debate.
Trot out an obscenely outdated back-file that you are not prepared to defend or persuasively argue. I get that back-files are helpful, but preparation has to be more than Copy/Paste.
Things to do
Read about the topic. Anything about TOPIC. Gender/Security Rhetoric/Leadership/Drug Policy/Eco-Feminism / Post-Colonial Studies ….IT DOESN’T MATTER. Just read about the topic, or you missed the point. Nearly all question of argument preference could be filtered through the lens of topic relevance.
Demonstrate competency when selecting the arguments you advance in the debate. This includes collapsing in the 1NR.
Demonstrate a reasonable amount of preparation to discuss a diverse set of issues relevant to the resolution and in round performance.
Debate should be a referendum on the quality and quantity of research done first, and then a matter of execution later. I will reward debaters who do excellent and thorough research over debaters who have “slick tricks” to win debates. I think evidence is VERY important, its quality and qualifications should be debated. I will usually prefer excellent evidence to spin. When comparing a good card which was not well explained/had no spin vs. no card or a bad card with excellent spin I will typically prefer the good card. I will call for cards after the debate. I will generally only call for evidence which is referenced in the final two rebuttals. Refer to evidence by last name and date after it has been cited in the first instance. If you do not READILY share citations and evidence with your opponent in the round - I WILL be cranky, probably vote against you, or at the very least give you TERRIBLE speaker points.
If speaking at a more rapid rate is used to advance more scholarship in the round, I encourage debaters to speak quickly. If speaking quickly devolves into assaulting the round with a barrage of bad arguments in the hope that your opponent will not clash with them all, my ballot and speaker points will not encourage this practice. I keep an excellent and detailed flow. However, winning for me is more about establishing a coherent and researched explanation of the world rather than extending a specific argument. An argument is not “true” because it is extended on one sheet of paper if it is logically answered by evidence on another sheet of paper or later on the line by line. You can check your rhetorical bullying at the door. Posturing, repeating yourself (even loudly), insulting your opponents, or insisting that I will "ALWAYS vote here" are probably a waste of your time.
Any argument that advances argument on the desirability of the resolution through valid decision making is persuasive. The source of argumentation should be left up to the debaters. I am very unlikely to be persuaded that the source of evidence justifies its exclusion. In particular I am unconvinced the methodology, epistemology, ontology, and other indicts pertaining to the foundation of the affirmative are unjustified avenues of research to explore in debate. Above all else, the content of your argument should not be used to duck clash.
Strong Argument Preferences:
1 - Topicality is a voter and not a reverse voter. "Proving abuse" is irrelevant, well explained standards are not.
2 – The affirmative does not have to specify more than is required to affirm the resolution. I encourage Affirmatives to dismiss specs/vagueness and other procedurals without implications for the topicality of the affirmative with absolute disregard.
3 – Conditionality is logical, restraints on logical decision making are only justified in extreme circumstances.
4 – There is nothing implied in the plan. Consult, process, and other counterplans which include the entirety of the plan text are not competitive.
5 – I will decide if the counterplan is competitive by evaluating if the permutation is better than the counterplan alone or if the plan is better than counterplan. Ideological, philosophical, and redudancy standards for competiton are not persuasive and not useful for making decisions.
6 – I mediate my preferences for arguably silly counterplans like agent, international, and PICS/PECS primarily based upon the quality of the counterplan solvency evidence.
7 – Direction/Strength of link evidence is more important than “controlling uniqueness” This is PARTICULARLY true when BOTH sides have compelling and recent uniqueness evidence. Uniqueness is a strong factor in the relative probability of the direction of the link, if you don't have uniqueness evidence you are behind.
8 - I do not have a "threshold" on topicality. A vote for T is just as internally valid as a vote for a DA. I prefer topicality arguments with topic specific interpretation and violation evidence. I will CLOSELY evaluate your explanation on the link and impact of your standards.
9 - I am very unlikely to make a decision primarily based upon defensive arguments.
1 - First summary does not have to extend defense if it is not frontlined. If it is frontlined then you must extend it.
2 - 2nd rebuttal will get a major bonus in terms of speaker points and argument evaluation if they collapse and also frontline the argument you collapse to.
3 - Read real cards. Please please please read cards.
Doug Miller Paradigm
Currently a law student + Assistant Coach for Washburn Rural (KS)
Formerly Assistant Coach at Lake Highland (FL), and Head Coach of Fairmont Prep (CA), Ransom Everglades (FL) & Pembroke Hill (MO)
Coached for 15 years – Have coached all events. Have coached both national circuit policy & PF.
Scroll down for Policy Paradigm
Public Forum Paradigm
- If you want me to evaluate anything in the final focus you MUST extend it in the summary.
- Absent any other framing arguments, I will default to an utilitarian offense/defense paradigm.
- Narrow the 2nd half of the round down to one key contention-level impact story and 1-2 key answers on your opponents’ case.
- No new cards in 2nd Summary. No new cards in 1st Summary unless directly in response to new 2nd Rebuttal arguments.
- Make sure you evidence really says what you say it does.
- 2nd Rebuttal should rebuild + extend any portions of case they want to go for in FF.
1. Summary extension
If you want me to evaluate anything in the final focus you MUST extend it in the summary. Yes, that includes defense & turns from the rebuttal. In fact, that especially includes defense & turns from the rebuttal. If you want to go for it in the FF, make sure your partner knows to extend it. Even if it is the best argument I’ve ever heard, failure to at least mention it in the summary will result in me giving the argument zero weight in my decision. Basically, too many 2nd speakers just ignore their partner’s summary speech. Attempting to extend things that were clearly dropped in the Summary will result in a lowering of speaker points for the 2nd speaker. This is # 1 on my list for a reason. It plays a major factor in more than half of my decisions. Ignore this advice at your own peril.
2. Offense defense
Absent any other framing arguments, I will default to an utilitarian offense/defense paradigm. Just going for defensive response to the the opposing case in FF won’t be persuasive in front of me. Additionally, I am open to non-traditional framing arguments (e.g. rights, ontology, etc), but you will need to have some pretty clear warrants as to why I should disregard a traditional net offensive advantage for the other team when making my decision.
3. Narrow the final focus
It would be in your best interest to narrow the 2nd half of the round down to one key contention-level impact story and 1-2 key turns on your opponents’ case, and then spend most of your time doing impact comparisons on those issues. Going for all 3 contentions and every turn you read in rebuttal is a great way to lose my ballot. If you just extend everything, you leave it up to me to evaluate the relative important of each of your arguments. This opens the door for judge intervention, and you may not like how I evaluate those impacts. I would much rather you do that thought process for me. I routinely find myself voting for the team that goes all in on EFFECTIVE impact framing on the issue or two they are winning over the team that tries to extend all of their offensive arguments (even if they are winning most of them) at the expense of doing effective impact framing. Strategic choices matter. Not making any choices is a choice in itself, and is usually a bad one.
4. No new cards in 2nd summary
I do not believe that if 2nd rebuttal fails to answer all the 1st rebuttal’s arguments, that they have dropped their case. Answering 1st rebuttal arguments for the first time in 2nd summary is fine, with one major exception. If you need to read new cards to answer the 1st rebuttal arguments, those new cards need to be read in 2nd rebuttal, not 2nd summary. New cross-applications of existing arguments are OK, but any new cards need to be read in rebuttal. Just like with extending things straight into FF & ignoring the summary, I won’t evaluate any of those new carded responses, and your speaker points will take a hit.
I will, and am often eager to, vote on debate theory arguments. That being said, debaters in PF rarely, if ever, know how to debate theory well enough to justify voting on it.
I believe that there are several highly abusive forms of advocacy that have appeared recently that are very bad for PF, and just bad debate in general. I welcome a discussion of those practices in round, and believe that the best way to stamp them out is for teams to make those abuses voting issues in rounds. I won’t vote on these issues unless the objections are raised and effectively argued in-round (e.g. impacted, extended in all the necessary speeches, etc). but I have strong leanings that make me VERY receptive to several theory arguments.
Fiat – Until the “no plans” rule is changed, PF is essentially a whole-resolution debate, no matter how much teams would like for it to be policy. Thus, if teams want to read a specific subset(s) of the resolution, they need to provide some warrants as to why their specific subset(s) of the resolution is the MOST LIKELY form the resolution would take if it were adopted. Trying to specify and only defend a hyper-specific example(s) of the resolution that are unlikely to occur without your fiat is ridiculously abusive without reading a plan text, and makes you a moving target – especially when you clarify your position later in the round to spike out of answers. Plan texts are necessary to fiat something that is unlikely to happen in order to create a stable advocacy. Basically, in my mind, “no plans” = “no fiat.”
Multiple conditional advocacies – Improbable fiated advocacies are bad enough, but when teams read multiple such advocacies and then decide “we’re not going for that one” when the opposing team puts offense on it is the zenith of in-round abuse. Teams debating in front of me should continue to go for their unanswered offensive turns against these “kicked” arguments – I will weigh them in the round, and am somewhat inclined to view such practices as a voter if substantial abuse is demonstrated by the offended team. If you start out with a 3-pronged fiated advocacy, then you darn well better end with it. Severance is bad. If teams are going to choose to kick out of part of their advocacy mid-round, they need to effectively answer any offense on the "to-be-kicked" parts first.
6. Arguments in Crossfire
If you want me to evaluate an argument or card, it needs to be in a speech. Just mentioning it in CF is not sufficient. You can refer to what was said in CF in the next speech, and that will be far more efficient, but it doesn’t exist in my mind until I hear it in a speech.
7. Evidence availability
If you read any evidence, have the card available to hand over. Immediately (within reason, of course). Constructives should have their cards ready to hand over, in order, (probably even in the same document) because you know someone is going to ask for them. And having a bunch of PDF’s that you have to Command-F is not having your cards available. That is just lazy debating. Cut a card like a real debater. If you don’t know what that means, look it up. If you are reading this deep into a judge paradigm, it means you’re a big kid now. Act like it. As far as time is concerned, taking 10 minutes to find a card is inexcusable. At some point, I will just say you can’t find it, and and tell you to move on. This is becoming enough of a problem that I’m considering starting a running clock for “evidence hunting time.” I’m not there yet, but this practice really annoys me (and ALL judges), and needs to be stopped. If you can’t find the card you read in a reasonable amount of time, “Just drop it off the flow,” is not a sufficient recourse. In my mind, that is tantamount to evidence fabrication. If it happens once, I will be annoyed and chastise you after the round, but I’ll likely grudgingly give you the benefit of the doubt. If it happens multiple times, I am likely to be persuaded should the opposing team make such offenses a well-warranted and properly extended theory voting issue in the round.
8. Evidence Quality
I will, on occasion, ask to see key pieces of evidence at the end of the round as I make my decision. If I do ask for cards, and the text of the evidence you provide me doesn't match up with the argument you make in-round (e.g. eggregious power-tagging, taking out of context, etc - basically, more than what I perceive to be an honest mistake), I reserve the right to penalize the team providing the evidence, even if the opposing team does not bring up the quality of the card in question as an issue in the round. Best case for the offending party: I will simply not evaluate the evidence in question and decide the round as though that card has been redacted from the debate, leaving the argument with the same functional weight as an unsupported analytic. Worst case: If I see multiple offenses in the round, see a particularly eggregious offense, or have seen and commented on the team committing the same kind of offense in previous rounds I've judged, I may choose to drop the team solely on evidence quality. This is the one and only form of judge intervention I will engage in, as I have increasingly seen far too many teams get by functionally fabricating evidence and getting away with it because there is simply not enough time for opponents to question each and every card. Someone needs to serve as a check on such practices, and I believe judges should have a hand in that service. Rest assured, I will not decide a round in such fashion often, or without serious cause. I understand the serious ramifications of judges deciding rounds arbitrarially. If I do have a serious enough issue with your evidence to warrant some sort of intervention (which, again, is still very rare for me), I will be very clear in my RFD what the issue was, and how it factored into my decision, so that students can learn to not make the same mistakes again.
9. Evidence citations
You should probably read the citations according to whatever the NSDA says, but I’m not likely to vote on any irregularities (e.g. no date of access) unless the abuses are proven to be especially egregious and substantive in the round.
10. Speaker points
My reference point for “average” is 27.5. That’s where most everyone starts. My default is to evaluate on a scale with steps of 0.1, as opposed to steps of 0.5. Below a 25 means you did something offensive. A true 30.0 in HS debate (on a 0.1 scale) doesn’t exist. It is literally perfect. I can only think of 3 times I have ever given out a 29.6 or higher, and each of them were because of this next thing. My points are almost exclusively based on what you say, not how you say it. I strongly value making good, strategic choices, and those few exceptional scores I’ve given were all because of knowing what was important and going for it / impact framing it, and dumping the unnecessary stuff in the last half of the round.
11. "What's your methodology?"
Asking “What’s the methodology of your study” is a huge pet peeve of mine. Nails on a chalkboard bad. It’s a lazy way of saying, “I don’t really have an answer to this, so I’m just going to ask a bunch of questions about it and hope that clouds the debate enough to make it go away.” Questions about a card / study without evidence/warrants supporting the opposite aren’t arguments against it. They are just tricks debaters who got out-researched use to cover up that they got out-researched. In short, they are defensive only, and are only offensive if there are warrants / evidence as to why the opposite conclusion is true.
12. Ask for additional thoughts on the topic
Even if you’ve read this whole thing, still ask me beforehand. I will probably have some specific thoughts relating to the topic at hand that may be useful.
Notice how I didn't say anything about that above, even though it's the first questions like half of kids ask? Yeah, that's intentional. If you can't fugure out the answer to that quesiton from the numerous comments above, then you really are beyond help. But basically, yes, I can handle your blazing speed, you debate god, you. But it would still probably be a good idea to slow it down there a little, Speed Racer. Quality > quantity.
14. Rebuttal Rebuild
I debated for 4 years in high school (super old-school, talk-pretty policy), didn't debate in college, and have coached at the HS level for 15+ years. I am currently a law student + Assistant Coach at Washburn Rural in KS, and previously was head coach at Fairmont Prep in Anaheim, CA, Ransom Everglades School, in FL, and The Pembroke Hill School in MO.
Generally, do what you do, as long as you do it well, and I'll be happy. I prefer big-picture impact framing where you do the comparative work for me. In general, I will tend to default to such analysis, because I want you to do the thinking in the round, not me. My better teams in the past read a great deal of ontology-based Ks (cap, Heidegger, etc), and they often make some level of sense to me, but I'm far from steeped in the literature. I'm happy to evaluate most of the normal disads & cps, but the three general classes of arguments that I usually find less persuasive are identity-based strategies that eschew the topic, politics disads, and to a lesser degree, performance-based arguments. But if any of those are your thing, I would in general prefer you do your thing well than try and do something else that you just aren't comfortable with. I'll go with the quality argument, even if it isn't my personal favorite. I'm not a fan of over-reliance on embedded clash, especially in overviews. I'd rather you put it on the line-by-line. I'm more likely to get it down on my flow and know how to apply it that way, and that's the type of debating I'll reward with higher speaks. Please be sure to be clear on your tags, cites, and theory/analytic blocks. Hard numbering/”And’s” are appreciated, and if you need to, go a little slower on those tags, cites, and theory/analytic blocks to be sure they are clear, distinct, and I get them. Again, effort to do so will be rewarded with higher speaks.
I generally think affs should have to defend the topic, and actually have some sort of plan text / identifiable statement of advocacy. There are very few "rules" of debate, thus allowing tons of leeway for debaters to choose arguments. But debating the topic is usually a pretty good idea in my mind, as most issues, even those relating to the practices and nature of our activity, can usually still be discussed in the context of the topic. I rather strongly default to competing interpretations. I like to see T debates come down to specific abuse stories, how expanding or contracting limits functionally impacts competitive equity, and exactly what types of ground/args are lost/gained by competing interps (case lists are good for this in front of me). I usually buy the most important impact to T as fairness. T is an a priori issue for me, and K-ing T is a less than ideal strategy with me as your judge.
If you are going to go for it, go for it. I am unlikely to vote either way on theory via a blippy cheap-shot, unless the entire argument was conceeded. But sometimes, for example, condo bad is the right strategic move for the 2AR, If it's done well, I won't hesitate to decide a round on it. Not a fan of multiple conditional worlds. With the notable exception of usually giving epistemology / ontology-based affs some flexibility on framework needing to come before particulars of implementation, I will vote Neg on reasonable SPEC arguments against policy affs. Affs should be able to articulate what their plan does, and how it works. For that reason, I also give Neg a fair amount of theoretical ground when it comes to process CPs against those affs. Severance is generally bad in my mind. Intrinsicness, less so.
Personally, I think a lot of the standard CPs are, in any type of real world sense, ridiculous. The 50 states have never worked together in the way envisioned by the CP. A constitutional convention to increase funding for whatever is laughable. An XO to create a major policy change is just silly. All that being said, these are all legit arguments in the debate world, and I evaluate and vote on them all the time. I guess I just wish Affs were smart enough to realize how dumb and unlikely these args actually are, and would make more legit arguments based on pointing that out. However, I do like PICs, and enjoy a well thought out and deployed advantage CP.
Most topic-related disads are fine with me. Pretty standard on that. Just be sure to not leave gaping holes / assumptions in your link chains, and I'm OK. However, I generally don't like the politics disad. I would much rather hear a good senator specific politics scenario instead of the standard “President needs pol cap, plan’s unpopular” stuff, but even then, I'm not a fan. I'll still vote for it if that's what is winning the round, but I may not enjoy doing so. Just as a hint, it would be very easy to convince me that fiat solves for most politics link stories (and, yes, I understand this places me in the minority of judges), and I don't see nearly as much quality ground lost from the intrinsic perm against politics as most. Elections disads, though, don't have those same fiat-related issues, and are totally OK by me.
I don’t read the lit much, but in spite of that, I really kind of like most of the more "traditional" ontological Ks (cap, security, Heidegger, etc). To me, Ks are about the idea behind the argument, as opposed to pure technical proficiency & card dumping. Thus, the big picture explanation of why the K is "true," even if that is at the expense of reading a few more cards, would be valuable. Bringing through case in the 2NR to directly mitigate some of the Aff advantages is probably pretty smart. I think Negs set an artificially high burden for themselves when they completely drop case and only go for the K in the 2NR, as this means that they have to win 100% access to their “Alt solves the case” or framework args in order for the K to outweigh some super-sketchy and ridiculous, but functionally conceded, extinction scenario from the 1AC. K's based in a framework strategy tend to be more compelling in front of me than K's that rely on the alt to actually solve something (because, let's be honest here - they rarely do). Identity-related arguments are usually not the most compelling in front of me, and I tend to buy strategic attacks against them from the left as more persuasive than attacks from the right.
I understand that some teams are unbalanced in terms of skill/experience, and that's just the way it goes sometimes. I've coached many teams like that. But I do like to see if both debaters actually know what they are talking about. Thus, your speaks will probably go down if your partner is answering all of your cross-ex questions for you. It won’t impact my decision (I just want to know the answers), but it will impact speaks. Same goes for oral prompting. That being said, I am inclined to give a moderate boost to the person doing the heavy lifting in those cases, as long as they do it respectfully.
Jeffrey Miller Paradigm
Director of Speech & Debate at Marist School in Atlanta, GA (2011-present)
Director of Debate/Asst Director of Debate, Fayette County High School in Fayetteville, GA (2006-2011)
Thoughts about the new PF rules:
1) 3 minute summaries don't change anything in the grand scheme of things. I still believe that a) teams should respond to the first rebuttal in the second rebuttal, b) everything in final focus needs to be in summary and c) there should be weighing throughout the round. What 3 minute summaries do effect is that they raise my standard for what is acceptable as an extension. Merely re-stating your claims is no longer enough to count as an extension - you have an extra minute - make actual arguments in the summary speeches.
2) The new paraphrasing rules indicate that you must have cut cards. Don't read that as you must read cards, but read it as I believe the new rules indicate that that for the protection of the debater you must have cut the card. I will not evaluate evidence that is not cut. I will not wait for you to cut a card in the post round if I need a piece of evidence. If I see you exchange evidence throughout the debate that is not cut, I will dock your speaker points.
Guide to Prefs Based Your Research Habits
If you cut cards & read cards in case & rebuttal -- I am probably a top 10 judge in your prefs. This is my ideal version of debate - I will flow the warrants of your cards and not just the taglines.
If you cut cards, read cards in case & paraphrase in rebuttal -- C'mon, its not that hard - just read cards in rebuttal. Believe me, the time you think are "wasting" by reading cards is worth it. But besides that, I'm probably a pretty good judge for you.
If you cut cards, but paraphrase throughout the debate -- I'm not your worst judge by far. I have a higher standard of holding arguments to their original context than others, but I won't vote you down just because you paraphrase. If this describes you, it is truly silly to strike me over someone who's never judged a debate before.
If you do not cut cards and you paraphrase -- strike me. please.
3) "Progressive" Argumentation, lol. I don't think there is enough time in a PF speech to warrant clearly most kritiks - that doesn't mean I won't vote for them, but it does mean that you're starting from a disadvantage because I don't think you can fully articulate why they should be voted on. For theory, there needs to be actual abuse and it needs to be used sparingly. Disclosure Theory is dumb, but sometimes necessary - I think misdisclosure is way worse than not disclosing. Paraphrasing Theory is also kind of dumb based on my previous statement of there needs to be actual abuse. If a team is paraphrasing a card poorly, you don't need theory to beat them - just beat their argument and call them out. Every other theory arg I've judged honestly doesn't have its place in the debate. Theory is not a way to win rounds, its a way to check bad behaviors.
Debate is hard. I expect every debater to work hard before, during and after each tournament. Working hard means cutting cards and doing research on the topic. I expect debaters to not search for shortcuts to make this easier - doing your own research and cutting your own cards will pay dividends in all of your debates. In debates I judge you, you should expect I work hard to evaluate the debate and make the best decision possible. That's my guarantee to you.
Since Public Forum is a research based activity, I expect debates to be more about evidence usage and execution than persuasive speaking. If I expect debates to be about evidence usage, the prerequisite to this is having evidence and using it. I expect all five participants in the round (myself and the four debaters) to be well read on the topic and flow the debate. You should expect me to give you constructive feedback on the ballot as well as in round after the debate.
In debates, speeches build off of each other. It would be weird if we engaged in a communication activity where we ignored what the other person did right before our speech - that's why the second rebuttal must respond to the first rebuttal and so forth. Consistency is vital in debate therefore this expectation continues into the second half. Arguments that you extend in the final focus must be in the summary.
How do I define good evidence ethics?
Every card you read within a debate should be cited (by author, not institution) and be available (almost immediately) within context for your opponent to read. Within context does not mean full text, but the full paragraph of the cited line. (Asking for the full text of the study is dumb/waste 96% of the time, because you have 3 minutes of prep and I'm sorry you don't have enough time to read the full text. I understand sometimes you want to read the conclusion, but you still can't do that within the time limits of this event for more than 1 card usually.)
Teams who cannot quickly exchange evidence should not pref me - please strike me.
Don't lie or blatantly misrepresent about your evidence, I will drop you whether or not the argument is made in the round. I define lying or blatantly misrepresenting evidence as excluding key phrases that are in the text of the document that contradict your point, using portions of evidence to make arguments the authors do not intend, etc. Indicts are not lies or misrepresentations, they're arguments. Cards that are poorly cut/don't make a good argument are just not persuasive. Don't ruin the game, it's really fun when done correctly.
Come to the debate prepared and you won't have a problem.
What is my speaker point scale?
Speaker points are earned for the arguments you make in the debate. Every debater in every round starts at a 28.0. I will move up/down on a scale with steps of 0.1 and not 0.5. You're probably not going to get a 30 from me as that means you were truly perfect. Making smart, strategic arguments is going to maximize your points from me.
Barbara Pascale-Blossom Paradigm
I’m a flow-leaning flay judge who did some policy debate a long time ago (not a ton). I've judged many PF rounds; I am used to flowing, looking at what gets extended, ignoring dropped contentions, etc. I vote off the flow but really appreciate a good narrative esp. by the end of the round. Collapse on what matters.
Cramming in loads of evidence (often of questionable quality) with tenuous links in an effort to overwhelm your opponent is not impressive to me as a judge, and is often counterproductive. When it comes to evidence, it's quality over quantity. Understand your evidence. Ideally you should be able to:
- explain any expert opinion you cite (rather than just stating it),
- understand where a statistic comes from (how a study was done, what its limitations are etc), and
- defend the relevance of any empirical evidence you present.
Be sure you’re not misrepresenting evidence! (I will sometimes ask for it.)
Weighing is important. I strongly prefer nuanced arguments over black-and-white statements like "probability is more important than magnitude... and we win on probability," or giant impacts based on a single card that's taken out of context. Also prefer good analysis to blippy arguments.
Especially for new debaters - be responsive to what is happening in the round; use common sense when deciding what to spend time on in summary & FF (don't bother addressing what's been dropped), and tell me why I should vote for you.
A few specifics:
- I’m not a coach, so don’t assume I’m deeply familiar with the resolution & evidence. Keep jargon to a minimum.
- A bit of speed is ok, especially if you’re making enough solid arguments to warrant it (otherwise speed is not your friend). But please do not go bananas! Maintain clarity always. If you can’t speak quickly and clearly, then don’t speak quickly.
- If something isn’t in summary, don’t bring it up in FF; I won’t vote on it in fairness to your opponent. And if you want me to vote on something, extend it through FF.
- Framework & observations, like everything else, can be important or not depending on the argument & particular resolution and round.
- cx: If you see me scribbling notes during cx, please know I’m not actually flowing cx; I don't vote off cx. (Do not take it as a sign that I think what you’re saying in that moment is important.) Cx is your opportunity to clarify arguments & evidence and employ strategies / get concessions that will help your speeches. Please be civil during cx.
- I'm generally not a fan of kritiks in PF. (Not steadfastly opposed, as long as not abusive.)
- I’m not a fan of running a contention that you clearly have no intention of going for, because wasting your opponents’ time - while strategic - drags down the overall level of debate & is less educational for all. Of course it’s within the rules and I won’t vote against you for it (you won't get the highest speaks though).
- minor quirk: during grand cx, if you are sitting across from your opponents, please look at them when you speak (not me).
- I’m starting to time speeches again because I’m noticing more & more PF teams running over in rebuttal, summary & FF
- I sometimes avoid disclosing at large tournaments in order to get things moving.
Good luck and have fun!
Abby Schirmer Paradigm
Pace Academy, Atlanta GA (2019-Present)
Marist, Atlanta, GA (2015-2019)
Stratford Academy, Macon GA (2008-2015)
Michigan State University (2004-2008)
Please use email chains. Please add me- firstname.lastname@example.org.
Short version- You need to read and defend a plan in front of me. I value clarity (in both a strategic and vocal sense) and strategy. A good strategic aff or neg strat will always win out over something haphazardly put together. Impact your arguments, impact them against your opponents arguments (This is just as true with a critical strategy as it is with a DA, CP, Case Strategy). I like to read evidence during the debate. I usually make decisions pretty quickly. Typically I can see the nexus question of the debate clearly by the 2nr/2ar and when (if) its resolved, its resolved. Don't take it personally.
Case Debate- I like specific case debate. Shows you put in the hard work it takes to research and defeat the aff. I will reward hard work if there is solid Internal link debating. I think case specific disads are also pretty good if well thought out and executed. I like impact turn debates. Cleanly executed ones will usually result in a neg ballot -- messy debates, however, will not.
Disads- Defense and offense should be present, especially in a link turn/impact turn debate. You will only win an impact turn debate if you first have defense against their original disad impacts. I'm willing to vote on defense (at least assign a relatively low probability to a DA in the presence of compelling aff defense). Defense wins championships. Impact calc is important. I think this is a debate that should start early (2ac) and shouldn't end until the debate is over. I don't think the U necessarily controls the direction of the link, but can be persuaded it does if told and explained why that true.
K's- Im better for the K now than i have been in years past. That being said, Im better for security/international relations/neolib based ks than i am for race, gender, psycho, baudrillard etc (that shit cray). I tend to find specific Ks (ie specific to the aff's mechanism/advantages etc) the most appealing. If you're going for a K-- 1) please don't expect me to know weird or specific ultra critical jargon... b/c i probably wont. 2) Cheat- I vote on K tricks all the time (aff don't make me do this). 3) Make the link debate as specific as possible and pull examples straight from the aff's evidence and the debate in general 4) I totally geek out for well explained historical examples that prove your link/impact args. I think getting to weigh the aff is a god given right. Role of the ballot should be a question that gets debated out. What does the ballot mean with in your framework. These debates should NOT be happening in the 2NR/2AR-- they should start as early as possible. I think debates about competing methods are fine. I think floating pics are also fine (unless told otherwise). I think epistemology debates are interesting. K debates need some discussion of an impact-- i do not know what it means to say..."the ZERO POINT OF THE Holocaust." I think having an external impact is also good - turning the case alone, or making their impacts inevitable isn't enough. There also needs to be some articulation of what the alternative does... voting neg doesn't mean that your links go away. I will vote on the perm if its articulated well and if its a reason why plan plus alt would overcome any of the link questions. Link defense needs to accompany these debates.
K affs are fine- you have to have a plan. You should defend that plan. Affs who don't will prob lose to framework. A alot.... and with that we come to:
If not defending a plan is your thing, I'm not your judge. I think topical plans are good. I think the aff needs to read a topical plan and defend the action of that topical plan. I don't think using the USFG is racist, sexist, homophobic or ablest. I think affs who debate this way tend to leave zero ground for the negative to engage which defeats the entire point of the activity. I am persuaded by T/Framework in these scenarios. I also think if you've made the good faith effort to engage, then you should be rewarded. These arguments make a little more sense on the negative but I am not compelled by arguments that claim: "you didn't talk about it, so you should lose."
CPs- Defending the SQ is a bold strat. I will listen (and most likely vote) on CPs done in either the 1NC or the 2NC. Multiple conditional (or dispo/uncondish) CPs are also fine. Condo is probably good, but i can be persuaded otherwise. Consult away- its arbitrary to hate them in light of the fact that everything else is fine. I lean neg on CP theory. Aff's make sure you perm the CP (and all its planks). Im willing to judge kick the CP for you. If i determine that the CP is not competitive, or that its a worse option - the CP will go away and you'll be left with whatever is left (NBs or Solvency turns etc). This is only true if the AFF says nothing to the contrary. (ie. The aff has to tell me NOT to kick the CP - and win that issue in the debate). I WILL NOT VOTE ON NO NEG FIAT. That argument makes me mad. Of course the neg gets fiat. Don't be absurd.
T- I usually view it in an offense/defense type framework but I'm also compelled by reasonability. I think competing interpretations are good but do think that some aff's are reasonably topical. Impact your reasons why I should vote neg. K's of T are stupid. I think the aff has to run a topical aff, and K-ing that logic is ridiculous. T isn't racist. RVIs are never ever compelling.... ever.
Theory- I tend to lean neg on theory. Condo- Probably Good. More than two then the aff might have a case to make as to why its bad - i've voted aff on Condo, I've voted neg on condo. Its a debate to be had. Any other theory argument I think is categorically a reason to reject the argument and not the team. I can't figure out a reason why if the aff wins international fiat is bad that means the neg loses - i just think that means the CP goes away.
Remember!!! All of this is just a guide for how you chose your args in round. I will vote on most args if they are argued well and have some sort of an impact. Evidence comparison is also good in my book-- its not done enough and i think its one of the most valuable ways to create an ethos of control with in the debate. Perception is everything, especially if you control the spin of the debate. I will read evidence if i need to-- don't volunteer it and don't give me more than i ask for. I love fun debates, i like people who are nice, i like people who are funny... i will reward you with good points if you are both. Be nice to your partner and your opponents. No need to be a jerk for no reason
Gavin Serr Paradigm
Actor analysis is really important on this topic. Please give comparative reasoning as to why I should prefer your analysis to your opponents'.
I won't read the email chain unless you tell me to and you give me a specific card to read, because I still think calling for evidence is interventionist in most cases.
I am a gay socialist from the farm (literally). You do not want me to "gut-check" your arguments. Stop telling me to do that.
Argumentation in debate – particularly on the national circuit – is often very enthymematic. This is normal, natural, and understandable, as debates tend to be very short and the time crunch forces certain premises to be omitted from the discussion. Nonetheless, the team with the fewest enthymemes will probably pick up my ballot.
As it relates to theory/Ks, I think that engagement should be the rule of thumb. If your strategy avoids clash, it's probably not a strat I'll appreciate. That means if someone reads a K, you should probably just answer it instead of reading T or Theory. It also means that you shouldn't read frivolous theory or a K that inhibits meaningful engagement or dialogue (note: I don't think many Ks do that). That also means I'm going to be more appreciative of a K that is disclosed, so as to improve the clash in the round -- that's a different standard from stock cases, which should be fairly debatable to begin with in PF.
Director of Speech and Debate at Park City (UT)
If you're the type of person who think this matters (it doesn't), I qualified to the TOC in PF during high school.
It's not an argument without a warrant.
Critical arguments are underused and generally mishandled.
Weighing is super important, but it's a waste of time if it isn't comparative and contextualized to your opponents' offense.
Second rebuttal should frontline.
Defense is sticky if second rebuttal doesn't frontline; it isn't if it does.
Your speaks will be dramatically higher if you send speech docs.
'Evidence' only counts if it's a cut card.
Crossfire is the worst part of PF. You will be rewarded for making it productive/not annoying.
Be warned: I have aged several decades since graduating high school. I am now grumpy. I will casually give you 26s for irritating me, even if you probably deserve 29s.
I usually vote for the team that is less annoying.
Send me a Facebook message if you have specific questions. You can also peruse the following paradigms for more examples of judges/coaches that have influenced my thinking:
Nina Williams Paradigm
i debated pf for 4 years in high school and am now a freshman at villanova university.
how to win my ballot:
- i'm fine with speed. if you're losing clarity because of it, i'll call "clear".
- don't be annoying.
here is how i think i’m like every other pf judge:
- don't just say that things are true, i want to hear some warrants. i won't vote on an argument i don't understand.
- if your offense is in ff, it should be in summary.
- hit the line-by-line hard.
- i know as close to nothing as possible about kritiks and theory. nonetheless, i'm not ideologically opposed to their use in public forum, so go for it if you can explain it in a way that a person who knows nothing can understand.
- i believe the first speaking team is at a disadvantage in the round, and i will be slightly more lenient with poorly executed extensions of defense.
- a dropped argument is a true argument, but that doesn't mean it matters. you've still gotta weigh it to win the round on it.
- impact calculus is a waste of time if it isn't comparative and contextualized to your opponents' offense.
here is how i differ from community norms:
- in my rfds, great analytics beat a poorly-cut card 9/10 times. evidence quality matters, but quality argumentation matters a lot more.
- impact turn anything that isn't morally repugnant -- corruption, terrorism, oil prices -- because there are two sides to every story and it can pay off to advance an uncommon perspective.
- if the off-time roadmap is more than five seconds, i will be very sad
- please don't steal prep!
- there's an over-reliance on stats in pf. tell me a story and explain why it matters.
- i will not drop a team for misconstruing evidence. the most i'll do is choose not to evaluate the evidence as part of the argument *if* it's indicted. if you realize that your opponent is misconstruing evidence, ask me to call for the card and i gladly will before making my decision.
speaker points: this is about what you say, not how you say it. if you deserve to win rounds, you'll get high speaks.
the best piece of advice i ever heard during my 4 years debating came from my coach, gavin serr (our paradigm preferences are practically identical, so take a look if you'd like to learn more about my judging style):
debate in a way that you can be proud of, and always remember that your integrity is the most valuable thing that can be won or lost in a round.
questions? you can contact me at email@example.com.
Anna Williams Paradigm
- Though I flow, I cannot keep up with spreading. Please keep it to a traditional speed in PF.
- Please signpost — it makes it much easier to flow
- I’m not opposed to critical arguments, but keep them accessible to people who aren’t terribly familiar with K debate or literature
- Please be consistent with your warranting.
- Offense must be in summary and final focus.
- Do not say racist, homophobic, xenophobic or sexist things. Pay attention to the language you use, and know that I will, too.
- I don't like crossfire. I won’t flow, and you shouldn’t go over time.
- Do not steal prep time.
- Persuade me that you deserve the ballot.
Make it the best debate possible. I look forward to judging, and hope you share the same enthusiasm for competing.