National Debate Coaches Association National Championship
2020 — Bloomington, IN/US
Tammy Claeson Paradigm
I’ve coached LD Debate for 14 years. Policy debate for nine. PF Debate for six. Other speaking events for 24 years. I like a good old fashioned philosophy debate. With that said, I understand those are few and far between. I am not progressive. But I won’t vote you down for it, either.
Lincoln Douglas Points ~
Speed - Don’t spread. There’s no fire. Debate is about communication, not seeing how many points you can get your opponent to skip because they didn’t hear them correctly.
Value - Choose a value other than morality. One that actually matches the resolution. I like to see a good value clash. If you don't know the purpose of a criterion don't just throw it in there to look pretty.
Theory - Make sure you understand it yourself before you try to run it in a round. Don’t throw everything at your opponent and hope something sticks.
Framework - Should be clear and labeled. If you can both agree on a mutual framework, I will judge based on which debater upheld it better.
Offcase arguments- Have fun. I can follow whatever here. Just give me a heads up as to how many you have.
Topicality - I'm fine, if it's well structured.
Case/Plan - If the topic lends itself to one, that's fine. I prefer not to hear a counterplan unless you can show me the value of it. This isn't Policy. But if you want to run it, go for it.
DA's - I will vote you down for non-uniqueness. Make sure your link is clear.
At the end of the round, make sure you give me clear voters. Don’t make me pick my own. I will go for the value I like better.
Last but not least, include me on the email chain. email@example.com
PF - Crystalize your arguments. Be civil. Stand for cross. Sit for grand cross. Give me voters. Make sure your arguments can be understood by the average person. PF is constantly evolving. As it evolves, you as a debater should evolve.
Evan Engel Paradigm
Email Chain: firstname.lastname@example.org
I debated LD for 3 years for Harvard-Westlake School (2014-17) - 13 Career bids, qualed Junior/Senior year, won some tournaments/broke at the TOC. I loved debate because of the variety. I could be a fan of any argument you want to read, provided it 1) is explained in a way I can understand and 2) has an explicit reason why that means you should win. I like when debaters appreciate the space they've been given and use it to do what they like. This means engage in the resolution and your speaking time however you want whether that means dense ethical philosophy, debate theory, or critical debate. Just do what you find meaningful even if that just means doing what gives you the best chance to win. My biggest preference in terms of what you run is that you make good arguments, which you understand and execute well. I hated judges that say "I won't vote on X because I disagree with/don't like it" so I try not to be one, but I reserve the right to hold debaters to a reasonable standard of quality argumentation.
You must share your speech docs with your opponent. Flashing, emailing, pocketbox, whatever method of sharing you prefer as long as it's more effective than looking over your shoulder.
I think disclosure is very good for debate - this is not to say you cannot beat disclosure theory in front of me - it just means you will have a very hard time.
Prep ends when the flash drive leaves the computer/the email is sent
I like good K debate a lot. An NR containing a well explained, and well impacted K that doesn't forget about the case is a good thing. An NR containing a K you've never read the lit for is hair pullingly frustrating. Ask yourself if you can explain your position without the use of buzzwords, if the answer is no, you risk being in the latter category.
I'm not generally a huge fan of the 4 minute K overview followed by line by line constituted primarily by "that was in the overview". Take time to clearly explain and implicate the links/impacts/framing arguments and contextualize them to the aff.
I believe people should be able to do whatever they want with their affirmative, and I will by no means auto vote you down for not being topical. That said, T/Framework was my favorite argument in high school, and I will be hard pressed to vote aff absent a robust defense against it, whether that comes in the form of impact turns, a counter-interp, or something else is up to you. I find myself voting aff during these debates more often than not for two reasons - 1. The NR on framework is more whining about how hard the aff was to prep than it is clear impact comparison 2. The NR doesn't engage the 1ar arguments properly - the 2nr should both deal with the warrant AND implication of these arguments because too often I have on my flow "this doesn't make any sense" without an explanation of why or why that matters.
I think these can be some of the best debates around. I would love you if you did good evidence comparison and comparison of links to the impact rather than doing superficial weighing of impacts. I've read DA's, CP's, and Plans (basically every aff round), so I like to think I know most of the lingo and the function. If you read a plan please read specific evidence instead of general util offense for the topic.
I'm not a fan of plans bad theory arguments. I think you should either read a T shell or a more nuanced reason why their type of plan text is bad.
Your interp needs evidence, standards and voting issues. A good T debate is one of my favorite debates and should involve a deep comparison of the world of debate each interp justifies, not just competing 6-points of the limits standard. Textuality as a voter just barely meets the standard for coherent argument, i'll vote on it, but it will be defeated easily in front of me. RVIs on T are not a thing.
I'm not a fan of frivolous theory, i'll vote on it, but there is a low bar to answering it. If you're struggling to figure out whether a certain shell is too frivolous for me to give the benefit of the doubt, don't read it. I am extremely persuaded by infinite regress/arbitrariness arguments against the vast majority of spec shells.
I am far and away the least versed in this part of LD. I'm not unwilling to vote on anything you choose to read, just understand that if it's more complicated than the simple end of ripstein or util, you will need to explain it to me like I'm a distracted 5 year old. You should know that I generally speaking am a firm believer that comparative worlds is the best interpretation for debate, as a result, I will likely not love your burdens aff/whatever postdating related trend is popular.
I will vote for these arguments if I absolutely have to, but I greatly dislike them. Chances are if you're winning in front of me on a blippy theory spike or an apriori it's because the rest of the debate was literally impossible to evaluate and you will not be happy speaks because of it.
Ursula Gruber Paradigm
If you seem like you are having fun and maintaining civility, I will listen to pretty much any argument that isn't intentionally obnoxious or repugnant (death good, racial equity bad, etc.). I prefer lines of argument that don't rely on nuclear war or extinction, but if your case is strong, go for it.
Clash and analysis are key. Use your case to analyze and refute your opponent's arguments. Don't just toss out cards; explain WHY and HOW. If your logic/reasoning is sound, you don't need to extend every card to win. I prefer strategic condensing over shallow line by line rebuttal.
I thoroughly enjoy critical debate. I think it fits super well with the intent of LD. Logic must be sound and you MUST use the conceptual framework of your K as the basis for your argumentation (i.e. don't read "We can't draw conceptual lines between people," and then respond to case with phrases like "those people")
Make sure you weigh your impacts for me. I may have a different perspective so if you don't make the weighing explicit, you are leaving it up to my interpretation. This includes ROBs, etc.
I expect timers and flashing to work without much delay. Having issues more than once in a round will lose speaks.
My speaks start at 28 for circuit tournaments. I'll dock a varsity debater more often for nonsense or rudeness than a JV debater. Making me laugh is a good way to bump up your points. Enunciation is also a bonus.
CX is important and ought to be used for more than just clarification questions. Don't be rude or talk over each other, especially if you are up against a less experienced debater. I will dock points for badgering novices.
I don't mind speed, as long as you are clear. I will only call "clear" twice in a varsity round. Taglines, authors, and card interp should be noticeably slower. It is up to the speaker to communicate their arguments and be aware of the audience's attention level.
I evaluate the full participation of the chamber, from docket maneuvers to quality and variety of questions. Successful legislators are those who drive the debate, present new/unique arguments, extend/refute/deepen previous arguments, choose sources carefully, and use parliamentary procedure appropriately. Debate on the merits/flaws of the specific legislation is given more weight than general issue arguments. Delivery style can enhance the persuasiveness of your analysis, but will not make up for canned speeches, poor supporting materials, or rehashed arguments.
POs are an essential part of the chamber. They set the mood, pace, and attitude of the chamber. It is a risk, and that is taken to account when I score. POs with a good pace and no major errors are very likely to be ranked.
Note on authorships/first pros: The price for establishing recency is that your speech must provide some background for the debate and at least one reason why this legislation in particular is/is not the answer.
The purpose of evidence in all forms of debate is to support your arguments with expert testimony, not to BE your arguments. I will only ask for cards if something sounds exceptionally wonky. Have some understanding of the bias of your sources (Are they all from conservative think tanks?, etc.). It is generally up to your opponent(s) to point out blatantly wrong evidence, but I will dock for egregious offenses.
Chetan Hertzig Paradigm
EXPERIENCE: I'm the head coach at Harrison High School in New York; I was an assistant coach at Lexington from 1998-2004 (I debated there from 1994-1998), at Sacred Heart from 2004-2008, and at Scarsdale from 2007-2008. I'm not presently affiliated with these programs or their students.
If you're in high school, please just call me Hertzig.
Please include me on the email chain: email@example.com
CLARITY in both delivery and substance is the most important thing for me. If you're clearer than your opponent, I'll probably vote for you.
PRACTICES I LIKE & WILL REWARD WITH HIGHER SPEAKS:
- Starting speeches slowly and building speed as you go (rather than starting at top speed)
- ENUNCIATING and INFLECTING throughout
- Speaking slower than average circuit speed
- Providing an explicit decision-calculus/voting issues
- Explicitly linking to a standard or ROB in speeches, especially rebuttals
- Telling a clear and coherent ballot story
- Weighing between your extensions and your opponent's (not just giving me two non-clashing sets of extensions)
- Reading a whole res aff that defends the topic as a principle
- Having a layered NC and responsive/specific turns off the aff
- Making topical critical arguments/reading Ks that are grounded in the topic lit
- Comparing evidence and weighing
- Giving structured speeches
- Using good word economy
PRACTICES I DISLIKE & FOR WHICH I MAY DECREASE SPEAKS:
- Using profanity in the round. I don't care what your purpose is; it's not necessary.
- Using ad homs of any kind against your opponent (e.g., commenting on their race, clothing, or practices as a debater). Find a non-personal way of making the argument.
- Reacting non-verbally when your opponent is speaking (e.g., violently shaking your head, making faces, waving your arms, etc.). It's rude, unpersuasive, and unnecessary.
- Indicting or insulting an opponent's team or coach in round (e.g., "It's no surprise [team name] is going for T this round")
- Sitting during CX and/or speeches unless you're physically unable to stand
For the most part, I want to see a substantive round about the topic. My conception of what counts as topical argumentation is based on what's in the topic literature.
If, after the round, I don't feel that I can articulate what you wanted me to vote for, I'm probably not going to vote for it.
Speed: Slow down, articulate/enunciate, and inflect - no monotone spreading, bizarre breathing patterns, or foot-stomping. I will say "slow" and/or "clear," but if I have to call out those words more than twice in a speech, your speaks are going to suffer. I'm fine with debaters slowing or clearing their opponents if necessary. I think this is an important check on ableism in rounds.
Theory: I don't view theory the way I view other arguments on the flow. I will intervene against theory that's clearly unnecessary/frivolous, even if you're winning the line-by-line on theory. I will vote on theory that is actually justified (as in, you couldn't have answered the position without it, or there was something about the opponent's strategy that made it impossible for you to win without theory). Is that subjective? You bet. Is there a brightline? Probably not. Don't like this view? Don't pref me.
Framework: If you and your opponent agree on a FW, great. If not, make the FW debate relatively short (i.e., not 4 minutes of a 7 minute speech). Also, please explain the philosophical concepts you're using instead of assuming that I know them. I probably don't.
Policy Arguments: I dislike generic politics DAs and extinction impacts on topics that clearly don't link to them. If you want to run those impacts on a topic about nuclear weapons, go for it. If the topic's about compulsory voting, I'll be very receptive to good defensive answers from the aff.
Ks and Non-T Arguments: I generally prefer TOPICAL critical arguments, but I'm okay with non-topical affs if you make it super-clear why you had to be non-topical to read them. Otherwise, I tend to think a TVA will solve.
Disclosure Theory: I'll vote for this if I think it's won on the flow, but I'm not a huge fan of rounds that come down to this.
Tricks: Shut the front door! Who are you?! (In other words, "no.")
Extensions: I need to hear the claim, warrant, and impact in an extension. Don't just extend names and claims.
"Flex Prep": Different people use these words to mean different things. I am fine with you asking clarification questions of your opponent during prep time. I am not okay with you ending CX early and taking the rest of the time as prep time.
Other Stuff: Link to a standard, burden, or clear role of the ballot. Signpost. Give me voting issues or a decision calculus of some kind. WEIGH. Be nice. And stand up.
To research more stuff about life career coaching then visit Life coach.
Gurmeet Kindra Paradigm
I am a simple judge
1. I will say clear or slow-But please don't make me- slow on tags and evidence
2. If I don't have the doc don't plan on spreading
3. I don't have a preference to what you run K's, LARP etc. as long as you can defend your case clearly. If you are spreading make sure you slow down on tag lines.
4. I love smart CX, and I pay close attention to it.
5. Be Eloquent as I do pay attention to that as well
1.Let Weighing live in LD, I don't want a blitz of back file answers without leveraging the AC- then whats the point besides wasting 6 minuets?
2. I know there is a skew! Please don't waste more time complaining about it, it is an acceptable standard in a counter interp or just argument but shouldn't be the the main point of the 1AR, the more time you spend, the less i'll buy it.
3. Not super familiar w/ performance/Non t affs but please go for it- just break it down and you'll be fine
1. I won't vote you down but i'll kill your speaks if you run more than 5 off that are all condo, it always leads to bad debate- I'm generally good with condo but 5 or more off is just abusive
2. I expect clear articulation of what operates on the highest layer, K or Theory- If they go for one and you don't kick the other i'll assume risk of offense so for your benefit be clear
Please Note: I don't disclose. when you see it you will see critique clearly showing what and why.
email the doc to firstname.lastname@example.org
Julian Kuffour Paradigm
sophomore debating for usc; head coach of ld for peninsula high school
updated for: jan feb 2019
little to no argumentative preference; fine for the k
conditionality is good; default judge kick
better for presumption than most
tech over truth
2. framework/k affs:
i vote aff more often than not. have been on both sides of this debate and will judge according to tech. fairness over skills. better for limits bad than state evil. need a role for the negative.
k affs are fine. good for identity, bad for high theory. examples are very important in these debates to conceptualize what you are trying to produce or things the aff (or the permutation) might agree with. extremely bad for repeating "normative." yes perms in a methods debate. non-applicable not ontological -0.5 respect.
neg: former structural inherency proponent. these arguments suck tho. just say something else, but of course will judge these debates more closely to tech than others.
aff: condo: good; pic's: lawful good; process cp's: chaotic neutral; negative: fiat; states cp: core negative generic; floating pik's: prolly bad; vague alts: ...lmfao.
go for it. not a big fan of politics. very easily persuaded by a nuanced turns the case argument. disads that are specific to the aff are sweet.
5. the k:
go for it. admittedly bad for high theory. the best link explanations use the language of the aff against them. i care more about form than content. fine for tricks like fiat double-bind and impact defense like the security k.
not much to say here. not a big fan of framing contentions, but am a big fan of getting to vote neg on presumption.
competing interpretations. not the best at adjudicating these debates tbh. predictable limits matter more than precision.
correct 2nr decision in spite of argumentative preference
holistic debate vision
lower case formatting (omg)
bad joke/roast (seriously) (admittedly subjective)
9. other things
prolly should start slower in front of me than others.
very emotive during debates.
generally gives higher points.
Hailey Robertson Paradigm
I did policy for 4 years at Washburn Rural High School (2013-17) in Kansas and I currently debate for the University of Southern California (2021).
- I'm probably more "good" for technical DA/CP strategies than high theory K's, but my voting record shows I’ll vote for any style of argument. As a debater, I have always been a 2N which probably shapes how I think about debate to an extent. Throughout my career, I’ve read both policy + critical affs, and on the negative, most often go for politics, framework, Marx, topic DAs/CPs, etc.
- I will immediately vote against arguments that are moral blackmail (and tank your speaks for trying), regardless of how they are answered by your opponent. This applies to “vote for me or else I have to quit” and similar arguments. If you have a concern like this, talk to your opponent/coaches, but do not make me the arbiter of that decision. These debates really weigh on me as a judge and are bad for my (and maybe your opponent’s) mental health, so please don’t put me in this position, you’ve been warned. You will be angry when I immediately vote against you, and I will not care.
**More pet peeve/other things at bottom, but basically, don't be rude, don't cheat, and know that I am a mandatory reporter!
Critical Affs v FW:
These debates can be some of the most engaging or most boring, in my opinion. My biggest qualm is with teams - either side - that don't tailor their positions to answer the specifics of their opponent's argument. In cases that I vote negative, I find that it is often because aff teams don't generate offense beyond "USFG bad." That said, many neg FW arguments seem to be just repetitive cliches or unresponsive blocks that they stole from a college team (and thus can't articulate args beyond the block). I generally think affs should have some relation to the topic, but saying “JuDgE tHeY dIdN’t sAy UsFg” isn’t going to get the job done.
Policy Affs vs T:
T is always a voter and never a reverse voter. I default to competing interpretations, and generally think that I think that limits are the most persuasive standard for evaluating T. That said, I don’t think limits or ground are impacts on their own — it’s simply an internal link to education, fairness, etc.
I generally believe theory is a reason to reject the arg, not the team. Exception is condo/disclosure (maybe?) but that doesn’t mean I want to hear a theory debate. Does anyone? If you must, contextualize your violation to the round + give warranted analysis why something should/should not be theoretically allowed in debate. Please slow down in these debates and give me pen time. Tech over truth, but the args need to be warranted and impacted.
I like politics DAs, love case specific DAs, and Hate "The Spending DA."
I'm not a fan of politics theory args, or DA theory args generally. If the DA's so bad, beat it on substance.
I also will not assign zero (or 100%) risk to an advantage/DA unless there is an explicitly dropped argument.
CPs that are usually good:
- Process (though some people have tested me recently lmao)
These CPs are more susceptible to theory but still generally enjoyed:
- International fiat
- States (especially those cheat-y multi plank ones)
Not a fan:
- Word PICs
** this is not a comprehensive list, just a few common ones
Not super technical in my knowledge of CP theory, mostly due to a lack of interest.
I believe that fiat and the ability of the aff to weigh their impacts are generally good. I have debated kritiks from both sides, but have not read as much of the literature (especially for high theory arguments), so I will need you to explain your argument very clearly to me. I would prefer if it was obvious to me what your argument is in the 1NC -- if you have a performative argument, it would help if you allocated time in the first speech to establish links, rather than just hoping I can deduce them from the thesis of your K. If you do not articulate your argument until the block, I will be sympathetic to new 1AR/2AR answers. Ultimately, I will not vote on something if I do not know what it means, so don't just read a K in hopes of confusing your opponents -- I will probably be really confused too.
I generally believe that links should be as specific to the aff as possible -- links to the status quo or links of omission are not links -- they're solvency deficits or FYI's about how messed up the world is and will likely lose to a perm. I enjoy block strategies that pick specific lines from evidence/look at author quals and use that to generate offense for the K.
Kritiks that claim death is good will probably never win my ballot, just a heads up. Before you read these type of arguments, you should also ask the other team for triggers. DBAD.
Because I judge this a bit now...
1. I don't think RVIs are real args.
2. Framing contentions don't substitute for impact explanations and vise versa. If you say that most DA link chains are highly improbable you have to prove that by contesting the links, not just repeating Nate Cohn's math at me.
3. More likely to vote on theory here than in policy (still would prefer not to), as long as it's not like about font size.
- Asking your opponents for argument clarification and which cards they did/didn't read and pretending it’s not prep
- Asking questions outside of CX and expecting me to listen
- Reading your blocks monotone at 100% speed
- The phrases: “method debate” “logical policy maker could do both” “fiat solves the link”
- Not listening during the RFD
- Being mean, laughing during speeches, etc — I’ll drop your speaks significantly.
- Bad/miscut/misrepresented evidence.
- Not pointing out that someone’s evidence is bad.
I'm still working on developing my speaker point scale and will adjust by tournament/division, but generally:
29.4+ -- Top 5
29-29.3 -- Speaker Award
28.6-28.9 -- Good, hope you clear
28.0-28.5 -- Didn't do anything wrong
27s -- Dropping arguments, ending speeches early, etc.
Below that -- you did something offensive
I am a mandatory reporter because I am employed by a high school, so if your position includes disclosure of sexual harassment/violence, I am required by law to stop the round and report. If it is something that you feel unsafe about, I am more than happy to assist you in finding the resources necessary to remedy the problem, but I ask they do not become a central component in the debate. That's not to say your concerns are not welcome or invalid, but I'd rather pursue a solution rather than give you a ballot and move on with my day.
Ben Rosenthal Paradigm
Put me on the chain. email@example.com – if you ask you’ll just seem unprepared.
I coach at USC and the Marlborough School. I debated/coached for MBA in the past.
Your burden should be to make it make sense. You don't want me doing that for you.
This Paradigm---X--------------------------------Paragraphs of me ranting
Consequences-X----------------------------------- No Consequences
Read no cards-------------------X----------------Read all the cards
Longer ev--------X---------------------------------More ev
Clarity-X--------------------------------------------Speed (? Shouldn’t t/o)
Always 1%----------------------------X----------0% Risk a Thing
2020 speaker points------------X-----------------2010 speaker points
Resting grumpy face--------------------------X---Grumpy face is your fault
Yellow Highlighting-X-------------------------------Anything Else (Blue is fine ig)
Insert rehighlighting-X----------------------------I read what you read
Nebel T-------------------------------------------X--Read a Plan
RVI-------------------------------------------------X-Make Real Args
Neg Bias------------------------------X-------------Get Over It
A couple other things that didn’t fit the model:
1. Asking what cards were/weren’t read counts as prep/cx time
2. I judge these rounds as if they are short policy round – the should/ought distinction matters very little to me
K vs Policy
Truth Testing=Presumption----------------------X-Lmao Try Again
Flip Neg = No FW-----------------------------X----FW is a Strategy (not necessarily a good one)
Fairness is a thing-----------X-------------------Tautology
Vote to affirm me-----------------------------X--Vote to affirm my argument
Fiat double bind-----------------------------------X--literally any other arg
Not our Baudrillard-------------------------------X Yes your Baudrillard
Generally am gonna default to alt vs plan on the K - epistemology, reps, etc., are important but I don't understand what it means to view that in a vacuum
Generally I enjoy K vs a Policy Aff, but am less excited to judge a framework debate
Policy v Policy
Conditionality good----------X--------------------Conditionality bad
States CP good---------------------------X-------States CP bad
Politics DA is a thing-------------------------X---Politics DA not a thing
Disclaimer about RFDs:
I don't like telling people they lose in close rounds, and my natural response to anxiety is to be very smile-y. If you see me smiling while deciding or explaining my rfd please don't assume it means I'm going to vote one way or another, or that I was really excited for voting the way I did.
Pet Peeves/Other Stuff
Please do not call me "judge" lmao
Don't put ASPEC or some other dumb theory blip as a standard on T and expect me to drop you a 29.5 when you win on it. I'll lean toward new 1AR args on this (esp if you didn't read ev or ask in cx) and your speaks won't look pretty. Don't makes args that only would be winnable if dropped.
Don't call the roll of the ballot and "are oh bee" or the Counterplan the "cee pee" - u arent edgy
Excessive use of "the debate space" oh my lord pls no – and other debate-isms “uniquely key” “fundamentally important”
cards that are tagged "extinction" and nothing else :(
If your partner says something during your speech, I would prefer you repeat it rather than just assuming I'll flow what they said. The exception is performative aspects of speeches.
Asking what cards were read before prep time if the other team didn't mark any cards. Obviously exceptions to this, but in general I don't think you should get extra prep because you didn't flow. You have a right to ask, but not outside of prep time.
Labeling their flows "their ___" i.e. "go to their t, next on their CP"
"combining speech docs" and saying its not prep is a lie
Chris Thiele Paradigm
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.
Adam Torson Paradigm
1998-2003: Competed at Fargo South HS (ND)
2003-2004: Assistant Debate Coach, Hopkins High School (MN)
2004-2010: Director of Debate, Hopkins High School (MN)
2010-2012: Assistant Debate Coach, Harvard-Westlake Upper School (CA)
2012-Present: Debate Program Head, Marlborough School (CA)
General Preferences and Decision Calculus
I like substantive and interesting debate. I like to see good strategic choices as long as they do not undermine the substantive component of the debate. I strongly dislike the intentional use of bad arguments to secure a strategic advantage; for example making an incomplete argument just to get it on the flow. I tend to be most impressed by debaters who adopt strategies that are positional, advancing a coherent advocacy rather than a scatter-shot of disconnected arguments, and those debaters are rewarded with higher speaker points.
I view debate resolutions as normative. I default to the assumption that the Affirmative has a burden to advocate a topical change in the status quo, and that the Negative has a burden to defend either the status quo or a competitive counter-plan or kritik alternative. I will vote for the debater with the greatest net risk of offense. Offense is a reason to adopt your advocacy; defense is a reason to doubt your opponent's argument. I virtually never vote on presumption or permissibility, because there is virtually always a risk of offense.
Moral Skepticism is not normative (it does not recommend a course of action), and so I will not vote for an entirely skeptical position. Morally skeptical arguments may be relevant in determining the relative weight or significance of an offensive argument compared to other offense in the debate.
I am skeptical of impact exclusion. Debaters have a high bar to prove that I should categorically disregard an impact which an ordinary decision-maker would regard as relevant. I think that normative ethics are more helpfully and authentically deployed as a mode of argument comparison rather than argument exclusion. I will default to the assumption of a wide framework and epistemic modesty. I do not require a debater to provide or prove a comprehensive moral theory to regard impacts as relevant, though such theories may be a powerful form of impact comparison.
Arguments that deny the wrongness of atrocities like rape, genocide, and slavery, or that deny the badness of suffering or oppression more generally, are a steeply uphill climb in front of me. If a moral theory says that something we all agree is bad is not bad, that is evidence against the plausibility of the theory, not evidence that the bad thing is in fact good.
I default to evaluating theory as a matter of competing interpretations.
I am skeptical of RVIs in general and on topicality in particular.
I will apply a higher threshold to random theory interpretations that do not reflect existing community norms and am particularly unlikely to drop the debater on them. Because your opponent could always have been marginally more fair and because debating irrelevant theory questions is not a good model of debate, I am likely to intervene against theoretical arguments which I deem to be frivolous.
Tricks and Triggers
Your goal should be to win by advancing substantive arguments that would decisively persuade a reasonable decision-maker, rather than on surprises or contrived manipulations of debate conventions. I am unlikely to vote on tricks, triggers, or other hidden arguments, and will apply a low threshold for answering them. You will score more highly and earn more sympathy the more your arguments resemble genuine academic work product.
Counterplan Status, Judge Kick, and Floating PIKs
The affirmative has the obligation to ask about the status of a counterplan or kritik alternative in cross-examination. If they do not, the advocacy may be conditional in the NR.
I default to the view that the Negative has to pick an advocacy to go for in the NR. If you do not explicitly kick a conditional counterplan or kritik alternative, then that is your advocacy. If you lose a permutation read against that advocacy, you lose the debate. I will not kick the advocacy for you and default to the status quo unless you win an argument for judge kick in the debate.
I default to the presumption that floating PIKs must be articulated as such in the NC. If it is not apparent that the kritik alternative allows you to also enact the affirmative advocacy, then I will regard this argument as a change of advocacy in the NR and disregard it as a new argument.
To the extent possible I will resolve the debate as though I were a reasonable decision-maker considering only the arguments advanced by the debaters in making my decision. On any issues not adequately resolved in this way, I will make reasonable assumptions about the relative persuasiveness of the arguments presented.
The speed at which you choose to speak will not affect my evaluation of your arguments, save for if that speed impairs your clarity and I cannot understand the argument. I prefer debate at a faster than conversational pace, provided that it is used to develop arguments well and not as a tactic to prevent your opponent from engaging your arguments. There is some speed at which I have a hard time following arguments, but I don't know how to describe it, so I will say "clear," though I prefer not to because the threshold for adequate clarity is very difficult to identify in the middle of a speech and it is hard to apply a standard consistently. For reasons surpassing understanding, most debaters don't respond when I say clear, but I strongly recommend that you do so. Also, when I say clear it means that I didn't understand the last thing you said, so if you want that argument to be evaluated I suggest repeating it. A good benchmark is to feel like you are going at 90% of your top speed; I am likely a significantly better judge at that pace.
My threshold for sufficient extensions will vary based on the circumstances, e.g. if an argument has been conceded a somewhat shorter extension is generally appropriate.
It is primarily the responsibility of debaters to engage in meaningful evidence comparison and analysis and to red flag evidence ethics issues. However, I will review speech documents and evaluate detailed disputes about evidence raised in the debate. I prefer to be included on an email chain or pocket box that includes the speech documents. If I have a substantial suspicion of an ethics violation (i.e. you have badly misrepresented the author, edited the card so as to blatantly change it's meaning, etc.), I will evaluate the full text of the card (not just the portion that was read in the round) to determine whether it was cut in context, etc.
I use speaker points to evaluate your performance in relation to the rest of the field in a given round. At tournaments which have a more difficult pool of debaters, the same performance which may be above average on most weekends may well be average at that tournament. I am strongly disinclined to give debaters a score that they specifically ask for in the debate round, because I utilize points to evaluate debaters in relation to the rest of the field who do not have a voice in the round. I elect not to disclose speaker points, save where cases is doing so is necessary to explain the RFD. My range is approximately as follows:
30: Your performance in the round is likely to beat any debater in the field.
29: Your performance is substantially better than average - likely to beat most debaters in the field and competitive with students in the top tier.
28: Your performance is above average - likely to beat the majority of debaters in the field but unlikely to beat debaters in the top tier.
27.5: Your performance is approximately average - you are likely to have an equal number of wins and losses at the end of the tournament.
26: Your performance is below average - you are likely to beat the bottom 25% of competitors but unlikely to beat the average debater.
25: Your performance is substantially below average - you are competitive among the bottom 25% but likely to lose to other competitors
Below 25: I tend to reserve scores below 25 for penalizing debaters as explained below.
Rude or Unethical Actions
I will severely penalize debaters who are rude, offensive, or otherwise disrespectful during a round. I will severely penalize debaters who distort, miscut, misrepresent, or otherwise utilize evidence unethically.
A debater has clipped a card when she does not read portions of evidence that are highlighted or bolded in the speech document so as to indicate that they were read, and does not verbally mark the card during the speech. Clipping is an unethical practice because you have misrepresented which arguments you made to both your opponent and to me. If I determine that a debater has clipped cards, then that debater will lose.
To determine that clipping has occurred, the accusation needs to be verified by my own sensory observations to a high degree of certainty, a recording that verifies the clipping, or the debaters admission that s/he has clipped. If you believe that your opponent has clipped, you should raise your concern immediately after the speech in which it was read, and I will proceed to investigate. False accusations of clipping is a serious ethical violation as well. *If you accuse your opponent of clipping and that accusation is disconfirmed by the evidence, you will lose the debate.* You should only make this accusation if you are willing to stake the round on it.
I am happy to answer any questions on preferences or paradigm before the round. After the round I am happy to answer respectfully posed questions to clarify my reason for decision or offer advice on how to improve (subject to the time constraints of the tournament). Within the limits of reason, you may press points you don't understand or with which you disagree (though I will of course not change the ballot after a decision has been made). I am sympathetic to the fact that debaters are emotionally invested in the outcomes of debate rounds, but this does not justify haranguing judges or otherwise being rude. For that reason, failure to maintain the same level of respectfulness after the round that is generally expected during the round will result in severe penalization of speaker points.
Brian Wiora Paradigm
****MUST READ: I do not evaluate fairness as a voter. If you run it in front of me, I will not vote on it. You have been warned.
I am an assistant coach for Harrison High School. I debated for four years in LD at Greenhill from 2009-2013. I was a philosophy major in college and now teach Poetry at Columbia University. I judged semis at the TOC in 2019.
Debate is fun! I enjoy judging good debates full of a lot of nuanced clash and weighing. The best debaters, in my opinion, are clear, well versed on the topic and, above all, persuasive. I think unwarranted arguments, tricks/spikes, and unnecessary/multiple theory shells are bad for debate and an unpersuasive strategy. Feel free to run what you want in front of me, but I am more likely to drop a claim than add a warrant or impact.
Things I like
-A philosophical framework debate (with standards as opposed to ROB).
-A good topicality debate
Things I don't like and won't vote for
-Fairness as a voting issue. Fairness is not a voter because A) Debate is an inherently unfair activity B) Fairness is not an intrinsic reason why we do debate and C) If fairness were a voter, I would flip a coin to decide the round. If you are interested in running a fairness voter in front of me, I would suggest playing a game of Chutes and Ladders or Tic-Tac-Toe instead.
-Unwarranted arguments. Again, I am more likely to drop a claim than add a warrant
-Any argument appealing to the Role of the Ballot/Role of the Judge as an A priori. In general, I do not think any argument in debate is an A priori, but especially not arguments that rely on my status as a judge or educator.
-If a card has been "cut" by a debater (as in, the debater stops reading the card mid way through and then moves on to another card), I will not vote on warrants that were cut.
My Default Assumptions (unless proven otherwise in the round)
-I operate under an offense/defense paradigm.
-The Role of the Ballot is to decide which debater better justified their side of the resolution.
-Debate is good. Philosophy is good for debate. Policymaking is good for debate too.
-Education is a voter, but less persuasive to me than Advocacy Skills, Critical Thinking, etc.
-No RVIs on T.
-Performance debate is fine, but the best performances link back to the topic.
Any other issue should be resolved by the debaters
Raymond Zhang Paradigm
LD: Roseville, MN (3 years)
Policy: University of Minnesota Policy (3 years)
Head LD Coach at Minnetonka High School
zhan1087 at umn.edu
Updates for Blake
My opinions of debate have not changed please refer to the information below. I have not voted off of a trick in awhile but do consider them in my decision. Also i will evaluate every speech of the debate.
Circuit debaters should adapt accordingly. I will intervene on behave of the traditional debater.
I find myself voting more and more for non topical teams against T, while I try to decrease intervention I find myself just more persuaded by Non-T arguments than framework arguments and letting the evidence stretch a bit than usual.
You can read whatever argument you want in front of me. Debate is a game. Strategy matters. Evidence quality matters. Speaks are given based on your strategy in round.
Circuit debaters should adapt accordingly. I will intervene on behave of the traditional debater.
Debate is a game (unless contested). Evidence quality matters (especially statistical accuracy).
Speaks will be given out based on how strategic I think you are in round. So if you beat your opponent on the flow but your opponent pursued the better strategy you can expect a low point win.
I am obligated to flow your arguments and evaluate them. I will yell clear if necessary and will continue do so remainder of the round. However, if I cant flow you I cant flow you, so be clear. I will also tell you to slow down if it is extremely necessary.
I will read evidence after round if I feel is necessary. (Or if it is contested in round enough) I will either be apart of email chains or not depending on my mood. (LD: I may ask to examine initial shells, or cases).
CX is binding, I haven't decided if I am going to flow this or not but I will most likely pay attention.
All arguments are valid. Creative arguments should be tested in debate if the debater desires and not be punished. I am an okay judge for silly arguments that trick people.
It is better to ask before round what I think about a specific argument. But also realize that what I think of arguments doesn't mean I'll evaluate them that way.
You probably should explain how you resolve your impacts, I have too many debaters skip this step and just explain why their impacts matter without solvency.
Everything is fine. I am not as flow centric as other judges in the pool. Probably more big picture now so adapt accordingly. New theory and norms, I will have no idea how to deal with so explain why those things matter.
Examples of low point wins:
Going for theory when you are clearly winning on the substance.
Reading bad arguments that you know are bad.
Focusing on the part of the debate where both debaters have lots of links instead of going for dropped arguments.
Reading arguments that you cant give a 3 min crystallization on. If you cant go for the argument at the end of the round then why did you read it?
Things I don't think are bad but might give you low speaks for b/c you are bad at debate:
Triggers that are implemented later in round
Some weird K that doesn't really say much. But if you're good at debate and run some weird K and explain it well i'll give you all the speaks. (Meaning 30)