Quoting the NSDA Big Questions Format Manual:
Big Questions is designed to pit opposing worldviews against each other in an effort to lead students to explore levels of argumentation that are rarely reached in other debate formats.
Do they really expect deeper levels of argumentation than policy debate despite each team having only one five-minute constructive speech? I'm welcome to being proven wrong here, but it certainly seems that these incredibly brief speeches (contrasting the massive literature bases of the, "big," questions under examination) are a good way to guarantee rounds made up of blippy soundbites and butchered philosophy. I mean, if you thought K debates were guilty of that sometimes, imagine them under even more restrictive limitations.
The above quotation also appears fundamentally at odds with a later one from the same manual:
Debaters will focus on identifying the areas they are garnering the best advantage and strengthening the analysis and argumentation in those areas; the form will not resemble a strict “line-by-line” treatment of the debate.
No line-by-line analysis or thorough, interacting levels of argument and counterargument - pick one.
Then you have gems like these about the Rebuttal and Consolidation speeches, respectively:
These speeches are known as the Rebuttal speeches, though their content may not be entirely made up of rebuttal.
Additional evidence or analysis on existing points of contention will be given, but new arguments are discouraged.
As it turns out, only the very last speech from each side (the Rationale) explicitly disallows new arguments - and the Negative gets the last word. Considering that, under the current resolution, the Negative only has to win a modicum of offense in order to win the round, this feels incredibly unfair for the Affirmative.
I think that this format has potential, but it first needs to work out some serious structural kinks - either smaller questions or longer speeches - and stop trying so hard to be, "not policy."
Edit: Speaking of trying to be, "not policy," at all costs, I later found this while rereading the manual:
...the assumption that every argument must be explicitly refuted or deemed to be conceded and true – is unlikely to be enforced. A common-person understanding of which arguments are important and which are not is a better method to evaluate what must be refuted.
This simultaneously seems to encourage judge intervention and discourage the deep levels of argumentation that this format ostensibly seeks to promote. Although I suppose it does mean that the brief nature of the speeches (perhaps my biggest complaint) doesn't matter as much, that's more so because the speeches don't appear to matter very much to begin with.
Edited by CynicClinic, 20 December 2016 - 11:42 PM.