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cjfernan

judging preferences

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Every time I've judged around, I hear that question. It always makes me cringe, because it's not a real question. So I'm having my students type up a list of questions to ask judges before a round, so that they get meaningful information on how to adapt to the judge's particular preferences. I know a lot of tournaments provide philosophy statements, but I think debaters need to do this sort of thing on their own. I mean, how many times have debaters come up to, crying about how they got screwed on something, when they never asked the judge about it before the round? Right now, the language on some of these questions is really bad, which is why I'm posting it. Comments and additional help would be appreciated:

 

1. How many rounds have you judged on this topic?

2. How much knowledge do you have about current UN peacekeeping operations?

3. How comfortable are you with "debate jargon"?

4. Are there any specific debate positions which you feel uncomfortable voting for? For example, would you have any reservations in voting on a topicality violation?

5. What voting style are you more comfortable with: policymaking, which analyzes costs and benefits, or "stock issues," which uses a legal "burden of proof" approach? Are there any other paradigms which you would receptive to?

 

I'll leave it at that for now. Thanks for any help.

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This is probably a good start for lay judges, but if there is a judge that you know is more experienced, you may want to be more specific. Something like, does the judge tend to read evidence after rounds? Under what circumstances? Do you have a prefrence reguarding policy versus kritik debate?

 

Coaches encouraging specific questions is a great idea. I am SO tired of being asked "Do you have any prefrences?" It makes me want to just say yes and nothing else...

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I prefer the standard question--I just recite my standard answer and that's that.

 

Not only is it that easy, but the risk of offending the judge by asking them how many rounds they've judged or how experienced they are is not worth it. You get all the information you need when you ask about their paradigm/preferences.

 

I think judges have a responsibility to recite their standard answer to this rather than pretend they don't know what debaters are talking about. Face it, when you were debating, you would hate if a judge was a smartass to you about their preferences. You know they are asking about your standard paradigm, please just do everyone a favor and spit it out.

 

This is especially true in the world of high school debate where you don't get to see the same judges all the time and there's a lot less accessible judging philosophy information.

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See that runs the risk of me forgetting something (which is very likely). The local league in VA has some teams with VERY different styles and based upon who that team is, they may need to know something more specific (like that new in the 2 makes me pull my hair out or that I think whipe out is a totally legitimate strategy). If I know this team, they probably already know the answer, but if i dont i could ramble for 5 mintues without telling them what they need to know. Or i could think that they get it and frequently they dont. Maybe this is just this particular league, but i dont think asking specific questions is bad. Maybe you dont ask someone how many rounds they have judged, but if you want specific answers you should ask specific questions. I know some of my debaters have asked for a judges prefrences and rather than explain some people claim they are tabula rasa and that they have none. Most judges have realized that this is impossible, but a lot of high school debaters havent. It often takes several rounds with a judge to find out some of these things. Perhaps a combination of a general question with specific follow ups if your question is not answered adiquately.

 

Oh and at tournaments that do publish judging philosophies, read them first.

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I've been disappointed that the various attempts to get folks to post their philosophies online haven't been more successful. I have mixed feelings about the whole subject of how to answer in-round inquiries. I've tried lots of different approaches, none of them entirely satisfactory. I'm so frustrated at this point that for now I've defaulted to the "Whatever" answer... ;)

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I'm always up front when kids ask me how many rounds I've judged on the topic for the season. However, it doesn't happen very often. I usually get a vague question similiar to "What is your paradigm?" I run through my speal and then ask the debaters if they have any more specific questions. I have often found that younger debaters are afraid to ask anything more. I often include comments about this on ballots as asking questions is the start of adapting to your judge/panel.

 

I do love at NFL Districts when the kids are testing my spoken answers with the ones on my paradigm sheet. But I feel that this sheet in itself gives the answers to the basic questions and lets the debaters spend a minute asking the questions that will really effect their strategy for the round.

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I generally say "if you explain it, I might vote on it"...but I occasionally like to mix it up to see if the kids are listening. One of my favorites was "I prefer negative".

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To answer Terrance:

Anytime someone asks me during a round a question, like "Is tag team cool?" right before the cx of the 1AC, I respond, "Check your speaker points at the end of the round to find out the answer." (btw, I have no problem with tag team cross-x). The point I try to impress is that it behooves the participants to learn the rules before starting. Some people would say that I'm being a prick, and if it is, I consider that redemption for some of the "not-good" rounds I've had to judge.

 

To answer Crowe's complaint of, "Come on, they want to debate. Give 'em what they want, and get on with it."

1. I'm glad that some judges have a pre-programmed schpiel they can give every round. However, I believe that most judges (at least in most leagues, perhaps even on the national circuit tourneys) haven't judged a lot and have no pre-programmed schpiel. Even for a heavily seasoned vet like Kerpen, I don't see in any harm in asking a few specific questions.

2. A lot of judges SAY that they're tabula rasa, speed is cool or whatever. But, of course, that means different things in different contexts. I consider myself a "fast judge." And I like kritiks. But I've never heard a Lacan kritik, and good luck trying to explain that position to me (not a philosophy expert of any kind) at a million miles an hour. I'm not saying it can't happen, but in that situation, it probably behooves a neg to slow the hell down when explaining the kritik (and I just used the word "behoove" twice in the post. Sweet). I think this proposition holds true for everyone: If you haven't heard it before, the debater probably has a tougher burden prooving that position. Therefore, asking questions about familiarity with kritikal affs, etc. would be, I think, extremely helpful to debaters.

3. In the wonderful land of theory, debaters should be learning the skill of adapting to the audience. When I use the word adaptation, I mean more than "fast or lay judge." For instance, I tend to give more weight to good overviews that weigh the round and give overall explanations of positions vs. killer line-by-line analysis with no overviews. That's just me. I think everyone has little things like these a normal schpiel wouldn't divulge, is non-fatal to the round, but probably distinguishes a 30 speaks kid from a 27.

4. I think specific questions make better judges. So you have a standard answer, great. But maybe one time a kid will ask you a question that makes you pause for a second, scratch your head, and go, "Hmmm, never thought about that. Yeah, now that you mention it, don't (or do) that."

 

Look, I realize that asking questions of judges is a touchy subject. The first thing a debater has to learn is how to read a situation. If you ask a question about judging preferences and a get a hard look, the debater should stop. That's reality.

 

The bottom line is that lots of kids complain that the judge "screwed" them. Sometimes that's true. More often than not, it's because the debaters didn't adapt to the judge. And I think that having a question sheet like this can only help, not hurt.

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I do'nt know. I think that questions before the round are usually good, but I don't think that the questions on this list are too useful.

 

 

1. How many rounds have you judged on this topic?

 

Sometimes this can be a good question, but it can seem like a "i'm determining if you are good enough to judge this round" question. A positive reply can mean that a person has judged a lot but that doesn't make them an expert. A negative can mean that the judge is a college debater or someone else who may have lots of info, but just hasn't judged.

 

2. How much knowledge do you have about current UN peacekeeping operations?

 

About 5% of judges will say "a lot" 90% will say "some, but I'm not an expert" and about 5% will say "none". So, it doesn't tell you that much about the judge.

 

 

3. How comfortable are you with "debate jargon"?

 

Debate jargon can mean many things. It can mean perm theory or a bunch of different terms for inherency. Also, most judges will just say yes, so it doesn't tell you all that much. Judges may not want to say no because they may be embarassed.

 

 

 

4. Are there any specific debate positions which you feel uncomfortable voting for? For example, would you have any reservations in voting on a topicality violation?

 

Most judges would like to think that the answer to this one is "no". I do not know of a single judge who will say "I will never vote on T".

 

 

 

5. What voting style are you more comfortable with: policymaking, which analyzes costs and benefits, or "stock issues," which uses a legal "burden of proof" approach? Are there any other paradigms which you would receptive to?

 

Whatever answer you would get to this question would be the same as you would get if you asked for the judge's philosophy. However, this question asks the judge to label herself. Because everyone has different interpretations of the word "policymaker", being told that your judge is a policymaker is not that useful. some policymakers will vote on K's; others will not. Some may like speed, others not. etc.

-----------------

 

Questions that I would ask:

 

1) What is your judging philosophy? The answer to this question should answer a lot of the other questions. For example, if the judge talks about "pics" or "conditionality" then you know that she knows debate terminology. If she says something such as: "I think that debate should be about persuasion and speaking skills" then your judge probably doesn't like speed.

 

2) What types of debates do you prefer to see? This will give you a lot of insight on what your judge likes. Often this answer will reveal more than the "judging philosophy" question because judges who say "anything goes" in their judging philosophies will give you actually useful information. If the judge wants to see CP's and technical debate, she generally will tell you so. If the judge likes big case debates,K's or T debate she'll tell you. You'll probably win if you debate the way your judge likes.

 

The next two questions will probably be answered in the judging philosophy question, but, if not, you should know the answers to 3 and 4.

 

3) Do you tend to read a lot of cards after the round? Obviously, this will impact how throughly you'll extend evidence.

 

4) How do you feel about open CX? This question will tell you how to conduct CX and also may shed some light on your judge's feelings on presentation V substance.

 

5) Optional sneaky question. If you plan on running T (or the K or a CP or whatever) in the 1nc, but are not planning on going for it, ask a few questions about T (or the K or a CP or whatever) to get the 2ac to put extra answers on it.

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To answer Terrance:

Anytime someone asks me during a round a question, like "Is tag team cool?" right before the cx of the 1AC, I respond, "Check your speaker points at the end of the round to find out the answer." (btw, I have no problem with tag team cross-x). The point I try to impress is that it behooves the participants to learn the rules before starting. Some people would say that I'm being a prick, and if it is, I consider that redemption for some of the "not-good" rounds I've had to judge.

 

To answer Crowe's complaint of, "Come on, they want to debate. Give 'em what they want, and get on with it."

1. I'm glad that some judges have a pre-programmed schpiel they can give every round. However, I believe that most judges (at least in most leagues, perhaps even on the national circuit tourneys) haven't judged a lot and have no pre-programmed schpiel. Even for a heavily seasoned vet like Kerpen, I don't see in any harm in asking a few specific questions.

2. A lot of judges SAY that they're tabula rasa, speed is cool or whatever. But, of course, that means different things in different contexts. I consider myself a "fast judge." And I like kritiks. But I've never heard a Lacan kritik, and good luck trying to explain that position to me (not a philosophy expert of any kind) at a million miles an hour. I'm not saying it can't happen, but in that situation, it probably behooves a neg to slow the hell down when explaining the kritik (and I just used the word "behoove" twice in the post. Sweet). I think this proposition holds true for everyone: If you haven't heard it before, the debater probably has a tougher burden prooving that position. Therefore, asking questions about familiarity with kritikal affs, etc. would be, I think, extremely helpful to debaters.

3. In the wonderful land of theory, debaters should be learning the skill of adapting to the audience. When I use the word adaptation, I mean more than "fast or lay judge." For instance, I tend to give more weight to good overviews that weigh the round and give overall explanations of positions vs. killer line-by-line analysis with no overviews. That's just me. I think everyone has little things like these a normal schpiel wouldn't divulge, is non-fatal to the round, but probably distinguishes a 30 speaks kid from a 27.

4. I think specific questions make better judges. So you have a standard answer, great. But maybe one time a kid will ask you a question that makes you pause for a second, scratch your head, and go, "Hmmm, never thought about that. Yeah, now that you mention it, don't (or do) that."

 

Look, I realize that asking questions of judges is a touchy subject. The first thing a debater has to learn is how to read a situation. If you ask a question about judging preferences and a get a hard look, the debater should stop. That's reality.

 

The bottom line is that lots of kids complain that the judge "screwed" them. Sometimes that's true. More often than not, it's because the debaters didn't adapt to the judge. And I think that having a question sheet like this can only help, not hurt.

i fully agree with you and want to add i have been judging for almost 7 yrs now and i am always reading to learn more about debate since i never did this event in hs (i married a high school debate coach i soon learned i had 2 choices miss her on weekends or travel with the team) i watched a lot of rounds and talked with the best hs debaters i could find and some great coaches to ed. myself in debate. i have also learned a lot from ppl here like Decoach and kerpen.

 

when ask questions before rounds by the kids the key thing i want them to know is the round depends on their knowledge of the topic. i want them to explain to me why they should win (not because i dont know what is going on in the round) but i want to see they know what the case or neg strat is about not just read to from some pages that they were handed before they left their campus. i have no pet arguments or any i hate to hear. i will go where ever the kids want to go.

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when ask questions before rounds by the kids the key thing i want them to know is the round depends on their knowledge of the topic. i want them to explain to me why they should win (not because i dont know what is going on in the round) but i want to see they know what the case or neg strat is about not just read to from some pages that they were handed before they left their campus. i have no pet arguments or any i hate to hear. i will go where ever the kids want to go.

 

/me claps. That is beautiful. Mind if I steal it? It is so much more descriptive than "if you explain it, I might vote on it".

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I used to tell them my paradigm and go into a short diatribe explaining what I thought that meant. But I found that kids ignored it and did what they were going to do anyway. So now, my paradigm is "don't call me judge cause that really annoys me, and don't try to shake my hand because it's cold and flu season. Other than that, don't do anything you wouldn't do with your coach sitting here."

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Other than that, don't do anything you wouldn't do with your coach sitting here."

 

I like that, I will probably start using that as well. I am new to judging. Really just started this year. I always tell them that if I can understand it I can't flow it and I can't vote on it. Usually works for me.

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I used to tell them my paradigm and go into a short diatribe explaining what I thought that meant. But I found that kids ignored it and did what they were going to do anyway.

 

I tell debaters who ask for my paradigm, "Before I tell you my paradigm, understand that if I explain my paradigm and you do not adapt, you will be severely penalized. On the other hand, if you do not know my paradigm, you cannot be penalized on that basis, but run the risk of not providing me what I look for. Knowing this, do you still want to know my paradigm?" Many tell me they are not interested at that point. I just got tired of wasting my time explaining my paradigm only to have debaters look out the window, hum, talk to their partner, rummage through files, etc. while I did so.

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