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jennyh

Card clipping

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One of our coaches gave 0 speaks and counted all the arguments the team made as not having any evidence (essentially giving them a loss).

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I think that another part of the problem is that the culture of debate encourages cheating/dishonesty in some ways. If you look at some of the major traditions, they include things like stealing timers and pens and then, if asked, lying about it. If teams are unwilling to be honest about things like that, the dishonesty spreads to other aspects of debate like card-clipping. I guess what I'm trying to say is that the debate culture tolerates, or even encourages, ways around the rules and this manifests itself in the practice of card-clipping.

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I think that another part of the problem is that the culture of debate encourages cheating/dishonesty in some ways. If you look at some of the major traditions, they include things like stealing timers and pens and then, if asked, lying about it. If teams are unwilling to be honest about things like that, the dishonesty spreads to other aspects of debate like card-clipping. I guess what I'm trying to say is that the debate culture tolerates, or even encourages, ways around the rules and this manifests itself in the practice of card-clipping.

 

I don't think this is even remotely true. During my debate career I encountered numerous debaters who went out of their way to return things like timers and pens, and usually those who didn't would at the very least give them back when asked. Debate actually seems to encourage honesty, and most teams respect that either because they are honest by nature or because of the stigma associated with being dishonest (you see these same people weekend after weekend; cheating against them usually doesn't go over to well). Debaters generally don't fabricate evidence, they generally give back things like timers and pens, they generally give back a file or an accordion that they find lying around, they let a team that's strategizing know when they're walking by or coming back into the room so they can stop, they disclose cases and email cites, they help each other in the collection of intelligence, etc. The things you do occur, but they are hardly "traditions." I know that I couldn't have sustained my relationships with other debaters without some sort of mutual respect.

 

Card clipping is a serious problem that should be dealt with (and no, I don't have any suggestions about how to deal with it other than the oft-repeated standing over their shoulder method), but it is the exception rather than the norm, and certainly doesn't reflect an overall culture of dishonesty within the debate community.

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As a first year high school judge, who debated for four years in high school, I was never spoken to in depth about card clipping. It was one of those things, like evidence fabrication that you didn't do, but it was never discussed in any detail. I think a discussion of the issue is important to raise awareness. The following I think would be helpful:

 

1. How does a judge or debater detect clipping? I've heard a couple of methods in this thread, but more in depth explanation of these methods would be extremely helpful. I would have no idea how to know if a team was clipping.

 

2. I agree with the sentiment above that this is perhaps a symptom of the fact that debates have turned into 'evidence wars.' It has become less and less important how clear you are in your speeches, or how good the arguments you make are, and more and more important how good your evidence is. I know I've judged a number of debates were I don't know what the teams are saying and can't even understand tag lines half the time. Problem is that this seems to have (at least in high school debates) become the rule, and clarity and persuasiveness are the exception.

 

Granted, the teams that win (on a large scale, tournaments etc.) are those that are clearer/more persuasive, and who articulate warrants rather than just extending evidence. However there are exceptions to this. I think part of this problem is that we put the cart before the horse: getting out more arguments faster has become more important than whether or not the judge understand those arguments.

 

(to reiterate the analysis above, this lack of clarity not only makes card clipping harder to detect, but also increases the pressure to do it because debaters need to 'get out more evidence.')

 

It seems to me that in this context, a more basic discussion of how we as a community evaluate debate rounds is in order, and that we need to read alot less evidence overall. I know that in general I try to not read evidence, but it becomes hard when you are judging a close round or prestigious teams, because you're under a great deal of pressure to make the right decision. Not only are the kids future at stakes, but if you make what they or the coaches perceive to be a bad decision, you can lose a lot of credibility in the community. In these contexts, I think that if more experienced judges, like Jenny and Sara, would make it a policy of reading alot less evidence, this could help relieve the social pressure alot of judges feel to read massive numbers of cards, even if they feel that doing so is interventionist.

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It seems to me that in this context, a more basic discussion of how we as a community evaluate debate rounds is in order, and that we need to read alot less evidence overall. I know that in general I try to not read evidence, but it becomes hard when you are judging a close round or prestigious teams, because you're under a great deal of pressure to make the right decision. Not only are the kids future at stakes, but if you make what they or the coaches perceive to be a bad decision, you can lose a lot of credibility in the community. In these contexts, I think that if more experienced judges, like Jenny and Sara, would make it a policy of reading alot less evidence, this could help relieve the social pressure alot of judges feel to read massive numbers of cards, even if they feel that doing so is interventionist.

 

Here's my suggestion to less experienced judges: create a written judging philosophy that includes this issue among others. Make sure that teams you judge are aware of your judging philosophy - I do this by carrying paper copies of mine that I distribute before rounds. When judging, your philosophy becomes both your guideline and your shield. You don't have to judge debates the way that you think the teams expect you to judge, you just have to judge them according to the structure you've set out beforehand. Here are the two paragraphs from my philosophy that include discussion of card reading and card clipping.

 

...

 

I judge in a highly technical manner. That is to say, dropped arguments that are implicated strongly and extended into the final speeches constitute the major reason behind 70 plus percent of my decisions. This is the most valuable thing to understand about me as a judge, and it has several implications. First, I will vote for and have voted for dumb arguments, with full knowledge on the part of the debaters that I think they are dumb. Problem was, no one on the other team took time to call out the dumb argument. I will also vote for smart arguments; I prefer them, but will usually be amused instead of cranky should you cause me to vote for something dumb instead. My technical focus means I am unlikely to read many, if any, cards after the debate. Usually I will only read cards if the veracity of a claim made about the evidence is challenged. Therefore, telling me what was important about your evidence is very helpful. This technical style of judging can be adapted to other forms of debate/speech if you choose to go that route; I will do my best to keep track of what is going on and to evaluate it in a structured format. Be aware though that I am not going to immediately figure out the best structure for what you are doing; suggestions are helpful. Though I rely on my flow so heavily to judge the debate round, there are certain human limits on what I can write. 10 analytical arguments in a row (think: theory debate) read at evidence speed and you can bet that I will not be able to fully reconstruct your speech. That said, I do flow pretty fast. A final note about flowing speed: I try hard to avoid this, but it's inevitable that the more interesting your arguments or presentation are, the better attention I will pay to you and the better my flow will be as a result.

 

...

 

There is only one thing big enough on my list of don'ts to mention here: don't clip cards. If you submit a piece of evidence for myself or the other team to read, ensure that everyone agrees on what you read, and that it matches what you actually said in the speech. I may use various methods to enforce this policy on the debate, at my discretion. If you have read this paragraph then consider yourself warned; I will drop you very quickly if I am sure that you are cheating in this manner.

 

...

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I agree with Jenny - perhaps we are noticing more now. I dont know but I do know that we cannot accept this in our community. It is cheating and it teats at the very heart of debate. If we cannot trust each other, our activity as no value and cannot sustain itself. We are only as good as our integrity. THis is true for the activity as well as the persons involved in the cheating.

 

I have spent over have over half my life involved in debate in some capacity. It bothers me to see some people attempt to use this activity for their personal gratification with no regard for the impact it has on debate itself. I hope everyone will become vigilant (without being out of control) to stop this problem.

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I won't mention any names, but at the last two tournaments (bid tournaments, for the record), my squad has encountered several teams clipping. All of the teams doing it freely admitted it to us after the round, and didn't seem to see a problem with it. These were good teams, too.

 

I think this signifies the pervasiveness of the problem and the need for an attitude change. We may talk pretty about getting serious, especially in a public discussion like this, but the informal talk is much more telling. Very few students are ready to get on board to stop clipping. Maybe because so many of them are themselves a part of the problem.

 

I don't know what we can do about it, though. Some of these teams I know from camp. They got the ethics lectures and protested clipping just as loudly as anyone else.

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What tournaments was it at?

 

Maybe I'm just too ignorant but I've never noticed it lol, and I've been to alot of tournies...But I probably just dont notice it haha

 

I'm sure the clippers though dont get speaker awards because their sentence structure all of a sudden messes up.

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I've caught people card clipping and I've brought it up in cross-x and I've had judges tank speaks majorly -- cause best in tournament speakers to not break or get a speaker award. It is a serious issue that I really wish didn't exist. I always have a pencil up on my podium just incase -- Im always worried I'll stop before a warrant though.

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This might sound like an overly-simplistic explanation, but I think many debaters begin to clip cards without realizing they're committing any sort of ethical violation. I clipped cards as a novice not because I was trying to cheat, but because I wanted to save time in every way possible. It wasn't until my first summer at debate camp that I realized that I had committed one of debate's deadliest sins. Once I knew that clipping cards was a major issue, I made every attempt to stop; but it took 4 weeks of daily speed drills and practice debates to break the habit completely. Similar to the manner in which members of American culture started smoking, debaters begin to clip cards because it seems logical, strategic, whatever; and once they realize that their actions are deplorable (or unhealthy), it's often too late to stop.

 

When I begin with new novice debaters, there are many important lessons to be taught before the season starts. These lessons include typical lectures in argumentative theory, debate structure, speaking skills, persuasion, and so on; but to this established list, I've added a new lesson--ethics. Within the discussion of the Ethics of Debate, I explain to my new debaters what is/is not allowed in terms of evidence, how to dress, how to treat other competitors, what to do if you found lost property, and the negative rammifications of clipping cards.

 

My "solution" to this problem obviously isn't foolproof--bad apples will always exist. But I think that a number of the bad habits that occur in debate (forgetting to mark your ev, bad speaking posture, unclear articulation, shady analysis) can be attributed to bad habits that form at an early stage in a debater's career. The logical answer to that problem, then, would seem to be some type of pre-emptive solution; if we teach the debaters what to do/not do before they have the opportunity to pick and choose which rules they must/must not follow, I think a lot of the problems that exist in today's debate community go away.

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Card clipping may give people an advantage, and some people may have gotten screwed out of some ballots because of it, but it doesn't worry me too much.

 

The reason why I don't get too angry at teams that do it, is because I know they're never going to be among the most successful teams. The people that become truly great are those that know their arguments well, research, and then apply that knowledge and work to their rounds effectively. The people that break a couple times a year and have a mediocre season are the people that cheat. I'm sure there have been some pretty successful teams that clip cards, but for every card clipper there's a hardworking team that's cutting cards right now that will finish higher at the tournaments that matter.

 

Maybe I'm naive, but I really do believe that card clipping doesn't give a big enough advantage to overcome teams that really know what they're doing.

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Agree with that, but it doesnt mean that theres a wrong that is blatantly unethical. Theres a small impact to the problem, but it doesnt make it go away. Completely agree though that the card clippers are in no way the people who will be getting to the toc and getting speaker awards.

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Agree with that' date=' but it doesnt mean that theres a wrong that is blatantly unethical. Theres a small impact to the problem, but it doesnt make it go away. Completely agree though that the card clippers are in no way the people who will be getting to the toc and getting speaker awards.[/quote']

Not true. I wish that were true, but it's not.

 

I'm not going to name the teams because it would stir up a hell of a lot of shit, and because I can't prove it over cross-x.com (although I'm considering carrying a tape recorder precisely for these teams), but I know at least three teams with one or more bids that completely belie this statement. How do I know? They told me. And I could tell when I watched them debate, confirming what they told me.

 

Unfortunately, clipping is a widespread and serious problem. I wonder how long it will take before we do something about it?

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hmm, that sucks then lol, quite a large problem. Its their unethical problem though, and they'll have to live with their trophies they've recieved through card clipping.

 

But I think the easiest/most pragmatic solution is for the judges to just listen very carefully and speaker points will usually show who is doing a good job and who card clips

 

On a kind of relevant note, whats up with some times reading so little of each card? Thats just dumb...they only read like 2 or 3 highlighted sentences. In my partner and our 1AC, theres 1 card where its literally 40 seconds of reading, and yes its a good card, and yes I'm quite fast, but the way some people highlight cards...they do it with the bare minimum amount of highlight which is kind of jerky in my opinion..

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On a kind of relevant note' date=' whats up with some times reading so little of each card? Thats just dumb...they only read like 2 or 3 highlighted sentences. In my partner and our 1AC, theres 1 card where its literally 40 seconds of reading, and yes its a good card, and yes I'm quite fast, but the way some people highlight cards...they do it with the bare minimum amount of highlight which is kind of jerky in my opinion..[/quote']

I don't mind people underhighlighting so long as the judge will listen to the "only count the highlighted warrants" argument. Then the team is only shooting themselves in the feet. Unfortunately not a great number of judges are sympathetic to that argument, so it creates an underhighlighting race to the bottom...

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unfortunately, many teams put value on getting 1000 cards out in their speech and they forget about most and dont even end up comparing their cards with their opponents.

 

I think underhighlighting is just as big of a problem as card clipping to be honest

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unfortunately' date=' many teams put value on getting 1000 cards out in their speech and they forget about most and dont even end up comparing their cards with their opponents.

 

I think underhighlighting is just as big of a problem as card clipping to be honest[/quote']

 

I disagree with you on this. Card clipping is an attempt to deceive, and an attempt to access claims you literally never said in the round. Underhighlighting, while often stupid (ie, it highlights the warrants out of cards) is at least honest.

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