The Instigator
RoyLatham
Pro (for)
Losing
14 Points
The Contender
thett3
Con (against)
Winning
27 Points

DDO should keep a voting system with multiple categories

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 13 votes the winner is...
thett3
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/13/2014 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 4,014 times Debate No: 48866
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (37)
Votes (13)

 

RoyLatham

Pro

Currently, debate.org uses a seven point voting system for judging debates, with points awarded in categories according to:

Who had better conduct (1 point)

Had better spelling and grammar (1 point)

Made more convincing arguments (3 points)

Used the most reliable sources (2 points)

All the points in a category are awarded to one of the two debaters by each person voting on the debate, or the category may be left tied by the voter with no points awarded. The winner of the debate is determined by the greater overall vote tally. The system is explained at [1. http://www.debate.org...].

In this debate my opponent will argue that the system should be changed to a single voting category of "Made more convincing arguments." I will argue that the voting system should be maintained in essentially the current format of multiple categories. I will not argue that the points in each category should be changed, but will allow that as possibility so long as the categories are substantially the same. I will argue that the site should move in the direction of having more detailed voting guidelines saying more precisely how points would be awarded in each category, rather than in the direction of having fewer categories.

The proposed change in the voting system has been debated and discussed elsewhere on the site. This debate is intended to be self-contained and to be judged independent of other discussions.

The first round is for acceptance, definitions, and clarification only. The Pro case will be presented at the start of Round 2.

DDO site rules apply to this debate. [2. http://www.debate.org...] The first round is for acceptance only. All arguments and source citations must be made within the character limits of the debate. All words not specifically defined are defined by the ordinary dictionary definition that best fits the context. No new arguments may be made by Con in the last round of the debate, because Pro has no debate round left to rebut them.


This debate is the fifth and final round of ClassicRobert's Gauntlet Tournament. [3. http://www.debate.org...]

I welcome my worthy opponent to the arena. [crowd roars] The gonfalon awaits the winner.
thett3

Con

Sounds good Roy. I accept the terms look forward to the debate.

Glory and honor await the victor.
Debate Round No. 1
RoyLatham

Pro

We want a voting system that sets up a standard that distinguishes good debates from not-so-good debates, is straightforward enough for DDO voters to apply, and is as objective as possible, given the inherently subjective nature of the evaluation. The present system of voting in categories is a reasonable compromise for achieving these objectives.

1. Competitive sports provide good examples of judging methods

Gymnastics, figure skating, and diving require subjective judging. So how are these sports judged? They have detailed judging standards.
In gymnastics the standards are the Code of Points. The [4. http://tinyurl.com...] system is complex. It includes, “Gymnasts must demonstrate skills from five required Element Groups on each apparatus.” The Code specifies standard point deductions for each type of failure. The Wiki article says that some in the sport are not pleased by the way points are awarded under the system.

Figure skating uses a complex point system called the International Judging System (IJS). [5. http://tinyurl.com...] The IJS was instituted after a scandal in 2002 “in which a Russian team with an error-riddled performance was given a gold medal ahead of a Canadian pair whose memorable programme was all but perfect. In response to the resulting outrage, the International Skating Union (ISU) instituted a new, intricate scoring system intended to enhance objectivity and combat corruption.”

The rules for judging competitive diving are not as complex as for the two previous examples. Still, they say, “The following elements must be considered with equal importance by judge before awarding a score: the starting position and the approach, the take-off, the flight, and the entry.” [6. http://tinyurl.com...] Both the participants and the judges are thereby informed that these elements are of equal importance. An uninformed observer (like me) might assume that the flight and entry were much more important.

In debate all the back flips are verbal, but the problem of subjective judging is the same. Having extremely complex judging rules on DDO would discourage voting. We can draw some parallels to the sports and provide a more objective judging system.

2. The debate categories are appropriate

Suppose DDO members decided that “expressing enthusiasm for a viewpoint” was a key element of debate. With that standard, a debater might gain points by typing his arguments in bold caps and underlining them. Most members –all but a determined few-- reject that as an important element. However, if that were determined to be an important element in debate it could be put into the voting system by creating a category for "Expressing conviction." Categories guide the debate.

The characteristics of on-line debate are important for selecting categories. The main audience for on-line debates are not the debaters nor even the voters. The main audience is “lurkers.” These are DDO members who read the debate but don't vote, and the general audience of web denizens who find the debate with a search. In one of my recent debates there were 6 votes, 14 comments, and 779 page views. [6. http://tinyurl.com...] Another had 13 votes, 54 comments, and 1915 page views. Success of the site depends upon serving the audience that produces the page hits.

Conduct is important because the anonymity of online persona leads to bad behavior that would rarely be presented in a live debate, especially if the judges are school administrators or the opponent plays offensive tackle on the football team. Bad behavior is a distraction from the debate. People rarely walk out in the middle of a live debate, but forfeiting is common on-line.

The Spelling and Grammar category includes all the ways that a debater may make his arguments hard to understand through poor presentation. Perhaps the opposing debater is motivated to slog through a word swamp, but the readers are far less motivated. On-line debaters should learn to present arguments in a way that they can be readily understood by an audience that is largely invisible to him. Only the most motivated will vote or comment.

Arguments are really in two parts: the logic and the facts assumed by the logic. The Sources category is the factual component. It could be renamed Facts.

Arguments fail if a debater uses a logical fallacy to reach a conclusion. That is why arguments are the most important category. However, if a debater has three arguments as to why the resolution should be affirmed, only one need to be true to support his case. The logical structure of the presentation is part of the argument. If the logic is sound, the factual basis must support it to win.

Some debates are purely philosophical, wherein the facts are argued as being self-evident, as in “I think therefore I am.” In a few debates, both sides may agree on the relevant facts. In those cases, sources are not determining elements, but in those cases there is no problem in leaving sources tied 0-0. In most DDO debates, and nearly all real-world debates, facts are interwoven with logic to arrive at a conclusion.

There may be several sources for the same relevant data, so that if one source is not definitive it isn't necessarily fatal. sometimes the facts are not completely available, in which case the evidence must at least show plausibility. In the real world the importance of a factual basis for arguments is underrated, which is why it deserves attention as a debate category.

In political contests, candidates tend to talk about the importance of outcomes rather than the factual basis of policies that produce the outcomes. Candidates tend to say, “Vote for me because I'll work to achieve A, B, and C.” rather than saying “My policies to achieve A, B, and C will work because ...” Claims are much easier to make than a supporting factual basis for the claims, which is why political candidates and novice debaters both downplay having to build a factual basis for their case.

The present system of categories works well because the categories tell both the participants and the judging readers what is required to be a good debater. It allows the DDO community to discuss the relative importance of the factors, just as gymnasts are currently questioning if their current point allocations are the best.

3. Categories can help combat vote bombing

More categories would make the system too complicated, but having scoring guidelines within the categories would help make scoring more objective. For example, in S&G, the break out might be: no point deduction if S&G errors do not significantly interfere with understanding the case; a 0.2 point deduction if spelling errors interfere with understanding; 0.5 deduction if the grammatical errors interfere, and 1 point lost if the case is incoherent.

After the fractional point deductions, the debater with the higher score in the category gets the whole S&G point. If there is a tie, no points are scored in the category.

The scoring template would be discussed by the members of the site. It would be available to readers if they wanted to use it to figure out who wins a particular category. In my example, the scoring template says that spelling is less important than grammar. The detailed scoring template serves to guide both debaters and judges about what is important.

Vote bombing is awarding points without good reasons. A vote may be appealed to the site moderators as unjustified. The scoring template then provides an objective basis for determining if the vote was justified or not, and the moderators could require an errant voters to provide reasons according to the scoring template for each category. A tournament organizer might also recruit judges who volunteer to do the detailed scoring for debates in the tournament. Figure skating ended up with a scoring template as a result of a vote bombing scandal, and DDO should move in that direction as well.
thett3

Con

Thanks Roy. I'll make my case in this round.


I. Real world debate

Real world competitive debate ballots leave the judge with a single decision for determining the win, "The better debating was done by____". This system should be preferred for two reasons: First, it's the tried and true method used by every competitive debate league. If having multiple categories was preferable, surely it would be implemented or even considered in a real world debate league. To win, Roy has to prove that there is some compelling distinction between online debate and face to face debate or else you should vote Con by default because the people who actually know and care about debate and compete at a much higher level than DDO (real life debate leagues) implement a one man one vote system. We should look to debate, not figure skating, to determine which system is of greater merit. Secondly, one vote for one voter is better in that it better represents the competitive nature of debate. Debate is adversarial and combative, what distinguishes a formal debate from a forum is the selection of a winner, and winning has to be all or nothing. If a judge decides Roy wins, then I cannot win "part" of the ballot, either his arguments are better or mine are.

This all or nothing interpretation also seems to match Juggles vision for the site--debaters are ranked by ELO and ELO factors in only win-loss, not the closeness of the debate. At the end of the day a 1 point loss is the same as a 100 point blowout. To better match the ranking system, the voting system should turn to a one judge, one vote system.

The current system is confusing--it's not clear when a judge should award conduct or sources to one side. Should the judge try to fill out every aspect of the template and look for even the slightest rational to vote on each category or should the judge only vote based off which categories are a clear blowout? It's left up to the judges preference and, consequently, some judges vote using only on arguments, some vote on everything and still others vote on only certain categories. The impact of this is that some judges votes are worth more than others, which can completely skew results. This is also unfair, there's no compelling reason why one judge's vote should be worth more than another just because one is uncomfortable with the idea of voting on certain categories and others aren't. In his debate on this same subject[1] bluesteel explains a debate he had where he actually picked up more ballots overall (11-9), but still lost the debate because the people voting for his opponent allocated more points. I doubt this is uncommon, and this is obviously a flaw in the system that would be easily solved by the principle of one man, one vote.


II. The current system gives bad voters a blank check

It's no secret that DDO has some bad voters. A one judge, one vote system would mitigate this.

Many experienced judges vote only on the arguments point. Part of this reason is because many of the best voters here used to debate in real life, which uses only one category to determine the win that is analogous to the more convincing arguments section on DDO. I know that for me, as a former debater, the idea of voting on sources and conduct separate from arguments makes is extremely disconcerting because it's completely contrary to the experience I've had with debate. In real world debate sources and conduct factor into the judge's decision, making arguments without any sources and being rude to your opponents makes you much less compelling, but at the end of the day the judge has only one vote. By distinct contrast, many people inexperienced in debate have no issue with voting on every category, and as a result their votes are worth more despite being often being of lesser quality. Even if having a template is preferable on paper, I should still win the debate because my proposal is more similar to the type of debate real world debaters experienced and they make up a large proportion of the site and an even larger proportion of active voters.

The current system encourages strategic voting. Airmax has repeatedly stated that for a vote to be considered valid, they need only to explain each category they award[2]. This means that someone who is blindly partisan or wants their friend to win can easily justify giving them more points. Biased voting on such points as sources and grammar is *ridiculously* easy. Let's say that at the end of the debate, Roy has slightly fewer sources than I did. If someone really wanted me to win, he could add two points to my total by simply counting the sources and saying I had more and declaring the sources going to Con. If however Roy had more sources, that same voter could simply abstain from voting on sources. Even if Roy demolishes me on sources and deserves the points, a voter might still not give him the sources vote or give them to me for some half baked reason because there's no clear framework established by the site as to *when* a voter needs to vote on each category.

The result of the current system is a perverse incentive where if someone really wants the side they vote for to win, their voting behavior will be different. I think I'm a pretty fair voter and have debated and judged real world debate for years, and even I feel tempted to make my votes heavier if the side I think that deserves to win is not winning even with my arguments vote because everyone is biased to think the side they think won actually did. It's a prisoners dilemma, the best outcome is for everyone to vote fairly but since we all know some voters will fudge their votes to add more points, the dominant strategy is to do the same which encourages bad voting among even otherwise good voters. This is a problem that will exist inherently in any system with multiple categories.

A single biased voter who "justifies" his four non-argument points and votes on arguments as well will far outweigh a fair voter who spent hours analyzing only the arguments. For that matter, a voter need not even vote on arguments and give hasty explanations for the non-argument categories and his vote will still outweigh the fair judge. Even if the weighing of the points is changed, a biased voter can still add some points to his side without even reading the debate by skimming for spelling errors from the opposing side or counting the sources used, and the worst part is that there would be no basis for reporting the vote as long as they justified the categories they awarded. Judges shouldn't be allowed to have *legitimate* votes of any size without reading the debate, and a system that allows this is a flawed system.

Roy may argue that having a single vote based on arguments might be even worse for vote bombing, but this is wrong for a couple of reasons. First, justifying an arguments vote takes more work than justifying the others because the voter has to explicitly reference the arguments made. This has the advantage of forcing the voter to at least read the debate. Moreover, it's a lot easier to tell a votebomb or an unfair decision through their decision on arguments because they're more likely to make a blunder when describing the flow of arguments. Secondly the one man one vote system doesn't create the perverse incentives that the current system does, as such it automatically avoids a huge subset of ideological voting that occurs in the status quo. Thirdly, even if someone votebombs with a shoddy vote in my system that is just good enough to not get deleted, their vote will *always* be countered by a good voters vote because they are all weighed the same. In the status quo if someone makes an ideological vote that just barely passes muster they're also likely to make their votes heavier and their vote can potentially take *two* or more good voters votes to outweigh it.

The resolution is negated. A one man, one vote system is preferable.


Sources:

1. http://tinyurl.com...
2. http://tinyurl.com...
Debate Round No. 2
RoyLatham

Pro

The main effect of the voting change would be more tied debates

Con claims the proposed change would fix problems. I collected some data to look for voting problems.

To get a list of debates I did an advanced search for the string “the” sorted from new to old. I examined the first twenty debates in the list. At the time I did the search the first debate was: [7. http://www.debate.org...] If the search is done later, it should be possible to scroll down to start at that point.

Of the twenty debates, three were ties. If the debates were scored up-or-down based upon the awarded points, 16 of the win-loss outcomes would be unchanged, including the three ties. However the voting method change would make three more of the win-loss outcomes into ties. That's logical, because if arguments are tied the debate may tip based upon one of the other categories. The point of the proposed voting change is to make voting less discerning, and it accomplishes that.

What the change accomplishes is along the lines of “Arguments were about the same, but even though one side was substantially more difficult to understand, so we'll call it a tie.” That doesn't help the debater or the site because it does not reward better debate.

Reversals are not necessarily better

For one debate in my sample of twenty changing the voting method would have reversed the outcome, with the winner becoming the loser. Call it a reversal. Con assumes that the only reason a reversal occurs is because a vote bomb is overcome, but that isn't necessarily true.
The reversal was in Hierocles v. donald.keller [8. http://tinyurl.com...] In this debate the score was 13-8, but the up-and-down votes were 3-4. Of Con's votes, three scored the debate 0-2, 0-1, 0-1. One voter scored Pro the winner 7-0, claiming in his RFD that Con had made a semantic argument in the final round, losing both conduct and arguments. The voter gave a reasonable RFD for each category. I don't know whether the 7-0 vote would hold up to very close scrutiny, but it was at least prima facie. Pro's other two voters scored the debate 3-0, 3-0.

Suppose the voting system were changed to an argument-only vote. The 0-1 and 0-2 voters thought arguments were tied, and we don't know if they would have scored the win based upon the non-argument categories. If the voting system were changed, the debate might reasonably have ended 3-1 rather than 3-4.

With up-or-down voting, some debates where the scoring was lopsided looked more even. Some voters seem hesitant to score categories other than arguments.

The debate Con cited was innomen v. bluesteel on the “The US should not recognize the results of the latest Nicarguan election. [9. http://www.debate.org...] (Con gave the wrong link.) Pro won 42-41, while if everyone went with the majority of points, the up-and-ddown vote would have been 9-1-11. I voted for bluesteel in that debate, but I and many other voters thought it was very close and said so in the RFDs.

In my view, there was one clear vote bomb, 7-0 by a voter who said he was countering another voter's vote bomb. He said nothing else in his RFD other than that he adjusted his vote for that reason. There may have been some back-and-forth not apparent to me. The debate seems to have been completed before the Moderator took over countering vote bombs. In any case, the outcome was not by any means a travesty of justice in which vote bombing prevailed. It was a close debate with one vote bomb that the Moderator should have corrected if current site rules were in play. When there are many votes in which small factors tip the voter one way or another, the statistics may go either way. It reflects no more than that it's tough to pick a winner in a close debate.

In all the debates I reviewed, and especially the two reversals, the categories were accomplishing exactly what they were supposed to accomplish: they were causing voters to examine each aspect of the debate. I think debaters remember what they consider to be errant votes, and don't notice that 95% of the time the voting is quite reasonable.

The solution to bad judging is to better guide judges.

Judging on DDO can be imporved. It's no surprise because judging a debate is subjective. There are two responses to the problem:

a. Try to reduce the effects of bad judging.

b. Try to improve the quality of judging.

We would like to be able to do both, but we cannot. To improve the quality of judging we have to have judging standards and improved enforcement of those standards, but a simple up-or-down vote makes standards largely pointless and unenforceable. With up-or-down voting, we move closer to an opinion poll, and that's inherently moving away from more thoughtful analytical judging.

The way to educate judges is to tell them what they should be doing by having standards and to then question bad votes in terms of the standards. This promotes good debate by telling the debaters exactly what is expected of them. That's why the judging of subjective sports have moved away from thumbs up or down voting to categories and points. If someone, for example, makes a seeming unjustifiable vote for sources, standards are the means by which the vote can be questioned.

Con claims that the “real world” of debate is academic debate. I don't think so. I think the real world of debate is informally debating friends and associates about the issues of the day, arguing about what to do in the work or school environment, judging talking heads on video as they debate the issues, and evaluating the claims of politicians. Academic debates rarely have conduct violations because of the certainty of immediate punishment. Real world debate often enough degenerates into ranting. Academic debaters are less likely to lapse into incomprehensibility, because people who cannot express themselves clearly are rarely attracted to academic debate; the real world poses endless problems of misunderstanding. Politicians and talking heads do not worry much about sources; they pose as experts stating claims as facts. Informal debates are even less likely to be troubled with facts. Everything happens sometimes in academic debate, but in general internet debate needs more guidelines reflected in categories.

Academic debate is burdened with jargon incomprehensible to the average person, but which academic judges embrace. Academic debates worries about technicalities. Try telling your boss or your spouse that drops count as concessions and see where it gets you. L-D style academic is especially perverted, with very little concern over facts.

Making it a single up or down decisions makes vote bombing prohibitions virtually impossible to enforce. Here is a generic RFD that anyone can use to justify any vote:

This was a complicated debate and a close call in many respects. Overall, X did a better job of putting together the logic of his case with the supporting facts from his sources. Y never overcame X's basic argument. Both X and Y were difficult to follow at certain points, but not enough to affect the outcome. It was a good debate with valid points on both sides, but I have to give the edge to X.

This generic RFD can be decorated with a few debate-specific comments, like “X's confusion of “their” and “there” was distracting, but not really serious.” With no voting standards, the job of writing a fake reason for decision (RFD) is so trivial that the RFD requirement might as well be abolished.

Summary

My review of a sample set of debates shows that the categories are working fine, and are inspiring voters to consider the individual aspects of a debate. I think members would like to have optional guidelines on how to judge debates, and that would improve both judging and debating. The main audience, the lurkers, would appreciate the improvement in debate quality.

thett3

Con

Roys case

1. Competitive sports

We should use real debate as a guideline for crafting a judging system not sports. Roy argues that academic debate is worthless and I'll get to that later, but it's pretty hard to argue that academic debate is so bad that we should look instead to figure skating to determine which way of judging is better. Roy hasn't given a compelling distinction between real world and online debate that justifies a totally different voting system, and a one judge one vote system is how the people who care the most about debate have decided is the most fair way to decide a round.

I have two turns on this argument. First, strategic voting occurs in these judging systems even up to the olympic level. The stigma behind voting strategically at an olympic event is much higher than a meaningless online debate, and yet it still happens because of the vast amounts of leeway judges are given in their scoring. The old system was one where the judges would essentially rank skaters against eachother which is closer to my system than Roys[1]. By distinct contrast, the subjectivity in the current categorical system allows strategic voting, such as in Sochi where the Russian skater won despite making some clear mistakes. Her score in the olympics was 22 points better than her personal best previously, just a month before. That's over a 10% increase, because the Russian judges wanted her to win and because the categorical system allowed them to strategically vote. As TheWire points out[2] this kind of voting makes figure skating seem laughable.

Secondly, Roy wants a simpler judging system. So do I, and that's why you need to vote Con. I've literally handed a lay judge a ballot and briefed her on how to judge the debate on the way to the room. DDO's system is far more complex than a simple "The better debate was done by X" system and doing that would've been impossible. What's more complex, a ballot that asks who did the better debating, or one with four different categories and no consensus as to when to vote on each?

2. The categories are appropriate

Roy argues the main audience for debates are those who read the debate but don't vote. This is irrelevant when we're talking about what's fairest to debaters. Roy's arguments for the categories aren't enough to justify the status quo. Sure conduct is important, but it's important in real world debate too. If a debater is too rude their arguments become much less compelling and the judge will vote them down, anyone who's competed in real world debate has witnessed something like this happening. Spelling and grammar is also solved by my proposed system. If someones arguments are so poorly written that they can't be read, their arguments are not compelling and the debate goes to their opponent. My system solves for everything Roy wants, conduct and spelling are important but my system better avoids the pitfall of someone strategically voting based on a tiny spelling error.

Roy shoots himself in the foot when he argues that arguments are actually two parts, the logic and the facts. This is true and is exactly why most real life debaters are extremely uncomfortable with decoupling sources with arguments because without sources your arguments become much less compelling. Voting on both sources and arguments seems redundant because they're two sides of the same coin, so many experienced judges here just vote on the arguments leading to an inexperienced judge's vote usually outweighing their vote. By seperating arguments from sources, DDO is only handing a blank check to bad voters who want to add points to their favored side.

Roy argues that the current system tells new members what being a good debater is all about, except it really doesn't. A much better way of learning how to be a good debater is to read good debates, emulate good debaters and practice. This is how virtually everyone becomes good on DDO, not by reading the voting categories.

The only real takeaway here is that a one judge one vote system solves the problems with the current system while also valuing the important things in the current system.

3. Votebombing

This argument is completely turned by my second contention. Roy wants to change the weighing of the points, but why bother? If a debaters spelling is so horrendous that their case is literally incoherent, they can't possibly win arguments either. A biased voter is going to do everything he can to award as many points as possible to their side due to the perverse incentives, and even if he doesn't biased voting is bad even at a more micro level. Moreover Juggle would never program this, removing categories is a much easier sell.

As for a template cutting down on votebombing we have the current system to look to to see if that's correct and we know it is because the current multi category template actually facilitates bad voting.


My case

I. Real world debate

Roy basically dropped this argument. He argues that most "real" debate is informal but this isn't what the argument means. The argument compares scored formal real world debate to scored formal online debate and we should presume that the tried and true voting systems of real world debate leagues like the NFL are better than DDOs because the people who actually know the most about debate use this system. Roy argues that online debate needs more guidelines because people tend to be rude on the internet, but my case still solves for this and if someone is being extremely rude they don't deserve to win the debate but with conduct being only 1 point, they still can. Moreover conduct violations are better dealt with by a moderator.

Roy attacks real world debate as having tons of jargon and technicalites but this isn't the case for all events. Public Forum debate is specifically designed to convince lay people, and the majority of the time judges are lay "mommy judges", but they still don't use a template system because it's confusing and allows for strategic voting in panels. The system is made even worse in that voters have the choice to vote on a category or not. Imagine if real world debate used the DDO system and two judges voted for one team only on arguments and one voted the opposite way with every category, leading to a 7-6 point win for the team that only got one judge to vote for them. This kind of thing is allowed on DDO, and would reasonably be considered absurd anywhere else. Biased voters are going to be far more likely to fill in every category they can justify than an honest voter, giving their vote more weight.

II. Strategic voting

Roys sample is far too small to be considered valid and doesn't prove my system would be bad. Even if bad voting is rare, if I can mitigate it I win the advantage. He argues that the change might lead to more ties. This is certainly possible, but it's better to have a tie from valid votes than it is to have someone lose for dumb reasons. In one of the debates Roy cited[3] (where a votebomb was evidently removed after he wrote his round), a voter left the RFD that everything else was tied but "sources on Cons aid his side more" which is complete fluff but decided the debate.

Roy never refutes my prisoners dilemna argument. The current system creates a pervese incentive to vote as close to 7 as can be justified. This is why in a recent poll[4] members voted 16-0 that they've seen people strategically vote, with Zaradi concluding "It's pretty much common practice." Members know it happens, and even if it's rare it's wrong for a debate to be decided by such methods.

Roy basically concedes that strategic voting happens but offers no solution except faith in the moderator, but like my first round pointed out there are many strategic votes that Airmax is powerless to remove. Most users know how to write an RFD that avoids mod removal by now since the standards are so lax. My system mitigates this.


Sources:

1. http://tinyurl.com...
2. http://tinyurl.com...
3. http://tinyurl.com...
4. http://tinyurl.com...
Debate Round No. 3
RoyLatham

Pro

Con must show that there is a significant problem with the present system and that changing the voting system will fix the problem. Every debater who has been around for a while will say they think they should have won a debate they lost, and they are right at least some of the time. So how do we improve judging? Con argues that by eliminating all standards as to what is good and bad in a debate, voting will improve. I think it should go the other way. Better voting comes from having common standards as to what is important, and in making debaters and voters aware of that. Judges of academic debates are presumed to have a good understanding of what's important. We cannot safely make that presumption here.

There are no clear examples of bad outcomes from strategic voting on DDO

Voters sometimes shade their voting strategically. If a voter believes strongly that one debater ought to win a debate, he will tend to award more of the seven points to the side he thinks should win. The voter may be correct in his judgment about who should win. He may be enthusiastic about the subject and read the debate very carefully, making a reasonable judgment about each category. Or he may not be so careful and just make a subjective appraisal of by how much he believes the side he favors won, which could be unfair.

A vote counted as suspect by one side is likely to be counted as unusually perceptive by the other side. How many debates have been wrongly decided by strategic voting? In a close debate strategic voters will tend to cancel automatically. If the suspect votes make no difference in the outcome, we should be satisfied that they either offset or do not affect the tide of voting.

Con offered only one example of a debate where there was a potential that strategic voting affected an outcome. In that debate, more people voted for the losing side than the winning side. But Con just assumed the outcome was unfair, without arguing it was in fact unfair. I had voted on that debate and at the time judged it to be very close. The debate could have gone either way, so there is no cause for complaint.

Without even a single clear example of an unfair vote, Con has not established either that there is a problem of strategic voting unfairly affecting outcomes, or that up-or-down voting would provide an improvement.

DDO debates show the change would produce more ties

Of twenty debates examined, in only one was there a reversal of the winner and loser if each vote was presumed to translate to a full vote for one side or the other. The 0-1, 0-1, 0-2 voters might have called the debate a tie instead. Again it wasn't clear whether that made the voting more fair or less fair.

Con dismisses my sample of twenty debate as too small, but con offered no data at all. A sample of 20 is not definitive, but it gives a reasonable idea of what is going on. I used the Bidwell-Wilson approximation to the confidence limits on the binomial distribution to get the error bounds. [10.http://en.wikipedia.org... If found in my sample that 17 of 20 debates were unchanged by up-or-down voting. The 95% confidence interval is that between 13 and 19 debates would be unchanged. The increased number of ties is put between 1 and 7. The number of reversals is between one debate in five and one in 120. Since Con only cited one reversal, even when pressed, it's likely the number is on the rare end of the interval.

Clearly more debates would end in a tie because of the quantization, in my sample twice as many. I think it is less fair to the debaters to declare a tie when voters considering the categories thought that one side had won. How many debaters will say, “The new voting system is terrific, I'm getting more tied scores now!'?

All subjective judging benefits from standards

Con argues that the analogy of debate voting to judging subjective sports is invalid because debating is not an athletic competition. But the object of the competition is irrelevant to the logical process of scoring a subjective competition. In terms of judging, subjective sports, dog shows, flower shows, and pie baking competitions are alike in having subjective judging. The goal is to establish both for competitors and judges guidelines for what is better and what is worse, and how much each category counts.

Con claims that because academic debate uses a primitive up-or-down system so therefore, DDO debates should use that system. The subjective sports moved to more sophisticated voting systems as a result of voting scandals. If academic debating became a competition having general interest and suffered a scandal from biased voting, academic debate would have no alternative but to move to more sophisticated point system as well.

Despite the use of a point system, the Olympic figure skating in Sochi still had a voting scandal. But there is no effective Moderator checking on judges in the Olympics. A moderator could examine each point addition and deduction, and an inflated score would then be very difficult to defend. Reverting to an up-or-down system wouldn't cure the judging problem, because that was already tried at the Olympics without success. Having standards doesn't work if there is no threat of enforcement.
The silly poll

Con points to a poll of debaters that revealed that each debater thought that strategic voting was used on their debates. That's a standard bit of nonsense used all the time by poll takers. It's along the lines of “Are you satisfied with current government policy on X?” No one is completely satisfied, so there will a high percentage saying “No.” Upon getting the expecting ”no,” proponents then proclaim that they have a ringing endorsement for policy Y, which was not mentioned in the poll.

I would have answered “yes” to the poll as well. However, my remedy is to better educate voters and to improve the ability to moderate voting. That choice wasn't posed.

Not simpler, better

Con said I wanted a simpler voting system. I don't. I want to keep the present system. I allowed the weights on categories could be tweaked, but I think they are now about right. What I'm proposing is a more elaborate system available as an option to help voters who want to know more detail on how to vote decide who should win each category. The same guidelines would be used by moderators.

Saying “Vote for whomever you thought did best.” doesn't work, because "best" is undefined. It doesn't say, for example, that the relevance and quality of sources is far more important than the number of sources. It doesn't say what is a serious conduct violation and what is not. It leaves everything to the intuition of the voter, and that is not a good idea, particularly with the highly mixed character of DDO voters. When everyone uses there own standards, there are no grounds for claiming bias. It is officially arbitrary.

Academic debate is not the real world

I did not say that academic debating was worthless. I said it does not reflect the real world of jobs, community organizations, and politics. A gave a list of the significant differences between real world debate and academic debate. Con ignored every item I listed without giving counter arguments as to why the difference was unimportant. Con asserted that everyone wants to live in the world of academic debate forever. That's impossible. For example, conduct is a problem in academic debate, because debaters know that bad conduct is sure to be punished. Academic judges are individually selected. Con did not address any of the differences.

My study of randomly selected debates showed the categories were working well. People were, to perhaps a surprising degree, considering each aspect of the debate. Making voting simpler makes it unpredictable, because each person has complete freedom to decide what is important and what is not. Judging can be improved only by making the standards more clear, not moving closer to polling.

thett3

Con

Thanks Roy.


Academic debate

It's best to look to real world debate to determine which system is better. Roy calls a one judge one vote system primitive and argues that real world debate leagues would change to a DDO akin system if they experienced scandals. This is simply not true. Academic debate has experienced *tons* of scandals but everyone still agrees that a one judge one vote system is preferable. Anyone who is thinking of voting for Roy should imagine the National debate tournament and think if it's a good idea for the announcer to say "It's a 6-5 decision for Neg and the winner is...Aff due to grammar!" Roy's argument for why real world debate shouldn't be compared is bunk because scored real world debate is the closest system to scored online debate we have and it's a much better comparison than figure skating. He argues that academic debate is not the real world, but neither is DDO debate. You don't get an 8000 character round to convince someone in real life.

Roy's only reason for preferring the figure skating judging method to the actual debate judging method is that it supposedly cuts down on scandal, but Sochi shows that's completely false and as TheWire pointed out, compared to other events figure skating is considered a joke for it's arbitrary judging standards. Roy hasn't given any statistics on the changes being good for figure skating. His only response is that DDO has a moderator, but this is completely underestimating the time and power Airmax actually has. I've shown that there are plenty of examples of strategic voting that slip through what Airmax can delete as they only have to explain why they awarded their points.

Roy is mistaken when he says that changing the system to a one judge, one vote system would bring it closer to polling. This highlights a huge inconsistency in his arguments, he is essentially saying that having only an arguments point would lead to people just voting on what they think is meant subjectively by "best"...except, that's literally the current system except the current system is worse because it has even more categories that are not manadtory and even more subjective! Pro's sources "felt" stronger, Pro's conduct you "felt" was rude. The non argument categories are even more subjective and are much closer to polling than arguments are.

Remember, this argument should lead you to vote Con by default. Real world debate is run by people who have dedicated a large part of their life to debate, and the competition is at a much higher level than DDO debates. They have chosen a one judge one vote system. Recall as well that under the current system, poor voters are usually weighted above good voters. This is a massive flaw in the current system.

Do not vote on any of Roys proposed changes to the system as he didn't extend them to his final round. Judge the debate on which system is preferable, mine or the status quo. Roy has carried through to the last round any compelling difference between DDO and real world debate that justifies a different system.

Strategic voting

Roy argues that I only cited one example of a reversal. I have three responses. First, even if debates decided due to nonsense are rare, if they're mitigated in my system and with no reason to prefer the status quo, this is still a reason to vote con. The debate I cited was one Roy himself originally cited as a meritorious example of how the current system works. It was decided by "sources on Con's side aid his argument more." Secondly this is an unfair burden on me. In order to cite debates where the decision was unjust I would have to rehash arguments on both sides and show why the losing side deserved to win which would take up all of my characters. Thirdly, I *have* shown unjust voting to occur. Roy doesn't dispute in this round that the entire system incentivizes people to make their votes as heavy as can possibly be justified and he offers no solution except faith in the moderator, but most people by now know how to write an RFD to avoid deletion. If I show that logically strategic voting occurs, I win the impact as my burden is to show that strategic voting happens and is facilitated by the status quo, not laundry list debates that should've gone the other way. If strategic voting exists, it will obviously effect some outcomes.

Roy's only response to the poll is a complete mischaracterization. The poll was not asking DDO members if they were satisfied with the current system, it was a clear question of "Has someone ever voted "strategically" on one of your debates?". The answer was a resounding yes. His solution is to "educate" voters but that's utopian--it's better to make the system more "idiot proof" by taking out a tool from biased voters toolbox than hoping to change their ways. The current system has been around for seven years, if it's good at educating people we should've seen that happen by now. Lay judges have no issue with the up down real world ballot. You can't educate voters on how to vote on sources or spelling because it's inherently arbitrary. Is one extra source than your opponent enough to win the points? Is one spelling error? There is no consensus.

Roy argues that my system would lead to more ties. There's no real impact to this as I find it hard to believe that Roy, or anyone, would prefer a hard fought debate to be decided by "sources on Con's side aid his argument more." This is unjust to both debaters. A tie is better than a loss due to a bad decision. Roy is saying its good that strategic votes break ties. Don't consider voting on this argument unless you want to lose one of your close debates because of one spelling error or because your opponent used one more source than you did.

A perfect example of how the current system leads to bad votes is GWL-CPA's vote on Roy's debate with Mikal[1]. GWL met the bare minimum requirements to keep his vote from being deleted (he explained every category he awarded) but it was still clearly a very poor vote worth six points. It's a vote on a contentious debate between two very good debaters, and this horrible vote is worth bluesteel's and whiteflame's votes put together, both of whom left comprehensive RFD's containing thousands of characters. This is what the current system leads to and it might swing the debate. The status quo is broken. Even if Airmax deletes GWL's vote, to do so would be violating the criteria he laid out about voting, meaning that even the moderator himself can't give consistent rules on this horrible system.

If Roy really doesn't think strategic voting can sway a debate and is unjustified he should be okay with everyone giving me the sources for citing Wikipedia less. He wouldn't be because debates shouldn't be decided by nitpicking sources.


In conclusion the only vote is a vote for Con. I've proven strategic voting is commonplace using the poll, and it happens for two reasons: Poor voters tend to award a lot of points, so otherwise honest voters react to this by playing the dominant strategy and fudging their votes too. Strategic voting is unfair, and the only way to eliminate it is a vote to vote Con and eliminate the categories that have been abused constantly since for seven years. Do we want to base our system off of the subjective figure skating system that has caused so much controversy or the method used uncontroversial by actual debate leagues? DDO should not readily hand over the tools for voters to make unjust votes. The system is inherently flawed, in conflict with systems used by real leagues, and encourages egregious amounts of bias and dumb votes. Vote Pro if you want your debates to be decided by minor spelling errors or a source or two and you want your RFD to be outweigh by votes like GWL's.

It's high time for DDO to change it's system and stop cheapening the value of good votes by allowing bad votes to outweigh them. The resolution is negated.

Sources:

1. http://tinyurl.com...
Debate Round No. 4
37 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by donald.keller 2 years ago
donald.keller
@Roy. I want to mention that I won that debate. The 7-0 vote was removed after it was discovered to be a fake account. Pro made 2 accounts and had them debate to get one to 3 debates, and voted in the last 5 seconds to make himself win.
Posted by 9spaceking 2 years ago
9spaceking
darn! RoyLatham was really close to obtaining the gauntlet!
Posted by bluesteel 2 years ago
bluesteel
@Ragnar

I was pretty explicit in admitting that the logic underlying my sources vote was questionable. But Roy tells me to adopt a weighing mechanism where strategic voting is preferred over ties. Roy even says in the comments, "My argument is that if up-and-down voting cures some strategic voting, the price paid is having many more unjust ties." So Roy is saying that a world with very little strategic voting results in more ties and this is an "unjust" outcome. Roy would prefer a more "just" system where strategic voting breaks ties. Ultimately, I am bound by the weighing mechanisms presented in the debate.

@Roy

>Speed limits

If you tell drivers to go a "reasonable" speed and then tell cops to enforce a speed limit of 60 mph, then you have a *mandatory* speed limit of 60 mph. There's no two ways about it. Likewise, if you have "optional" guidelines for filling out an RFD and then the moderator strictly enforces the guidelines, you have *mandatory* guidelines. You can't analogize yourself out of the basic fact that something that is *enforced* by someone in a *position of power* is mandatory, regardless of heartfelt attempts to call it *optional.*

Yes, competitive debate does have speaker points. They *do not* determine the outcome of debates. They are used in seeding during the elimination rounds of a tournament (quarterfinals, semifinals, etc.) to break ties when two teams have the same # of wins and losses. Those NCFCA guidelines have *nothing* to do with determining who *won* the debate, but are guidelines as to how to award speaker points, which are points that only tangentially matter to a debaters final ranking at a tournament.
Posted by RoyLatham 2 years ago
RoyLatham
bluesteel says "I am still confused how you can call a voting guide "optional" when the moderator enforces it. This is like saying that seatbelt laws should be optional, but that cops should still enforce them..."

The difference is that voters do not need to reference specific guidelines in their RFDs. They just say in their RFD why they voted the way they did. Nearly all the time, the reasons given are adequate or the debate is so lopsided that neither side cares to contest the votes. The only time that the moderator is called is in a few contentious cases, in in those cases the guidelines provide the means for resolving the issue.

You made a reference to traffic laws as an analogy. Montana used to have no speed limit. The law was that speeds had to be "reasonable." So what is "reasonable?" At that point there must be guidelines to resolve the particular case. Most drivers stay within the bounds of what is reasonable, so they don't need to know the details. Every state has a law against reckless driving. That's only defined by details not a concern of the average motorists, who has a good idea of what is probably reckless.

I made an error in supposing that academic debate does not have a point system. In fact, to my surprise, it does. The NCFCA has a system of speaker points. http://www.ncfca.org... This doesn't count in evaluating the debate since I didn't cite it there.
Posted by RoyLatham 2 years ago
RoyLatham
bluesteel, At no point did I claim that there were no reversals, I argued that rather than it being a common problem it is quite rare. Neither you nor Pro responded with, "Well, here's ten examples of errant strategic voting ..." My argument is that if up-and-down voting cures some strategic voting, the price paid is having many more unjust ties and that RFDs are rendered nearly useless because it is so easy to conjure up an "in general" RFD.

The proper rebuttal to my claim that RFDs show careful consideration of categories is to look at the cited debates and claim, "I don't see any significant effort to careful consider the categories." That's why I gave the instructions on how to view the particular debates. It's not possible to do that and honestly make the claim, which is why doing so must be avoided. The reason for not doing that is to keep facts from creeping into opinions. For lawyer types, it's really important to keep everything at the level of theory.
Posted by Ragnar 2 years ago
Ragnar
"thett3 shows a debate from that sample that had a strategic uncountered sources vote." -Bluesteel's RFD

Sorry, actually laughing about this one, considering the context being when casting a very suspicious vote. I would find it less suspicious if Bluesteel did not claim to be unbiased (neither agreeing with either party before or after the debate), yet he added extra points on in case con did not win by his own merits... I could be a jerk and place a counter vote with no better reason given than "The better debating was done by____" misrepresenting con's case to claim he thinks that's ok, even if casting a Fluff Vote is never ok by DDO standards.
Posted by bluesteel 2 years ago
bluesteel
>I also offered the data that looking over the the RFDs from 20 debates showed that many people were thoughtfully considering the categories.

I must have missed the part of the debate where you went through literally every vote in your sample of 20 and proved that it had a perfectly well-reasoned RFD.

>We have two possible but doubtful examples of reversals in recent debates

I fail to understand how you manage to acknowledge in some parts of the debate that strategic voting happens but then claim that eliminating strategic voting would not lead to any reversals. There must be some debates on the site where a strategic vote was outcome determinative. That's like arguing that cheating is rampant at a given school, but it has never resulted in someone's final grade being different than what it should be. If the input keeps happening, the outcome is inevitable.

>we know that any voting system needs moderators.

The entire debate, you made no attempt to answer the imperfections with the current moderation system, which still grants people a lot of discretion to strategically vote as long as they provide a minimal justification. I may have voted for you if you argued in Round 1 (and then consistently throughout the debate) for much stricter moderation as an alternate solution. But without arguing that, you have no answer to the argument that a 6-point strategic vote bomb is always going to be worse than a 3-point strategic vote bomb.
Posted by bluesteel 2 years ago
bluesteel
>How exactly was the Sochi example turned. Before the figure skating point system there was vote bombing with no moderating. After figure skating there was vote bombing with no moderating. From this we conclude that without moderating there will always be vote bombing. This is obviously true, The question is what system makes it easier to vote accomplish vote bombing if there is a moderator. How is that proved by the example?

Thett3 showed strategic voting happened at Sochi because having a multi-category system grants a lot of discretion to judges to fudge the numbers. A single category wouldn't grant as much discretion. If the South Korean skater had been ranked first by 5 of 7 judges (or however many there were), it wouldn't matter how many extra points the two Russian judges gave to the Russian skater. However, because it's a multi-category system, it doesn't matter if all the other judges thought the South Korean won; the Russians got to award the win to their favored athlete.

Your argument that votebombing happens under either system ignores thett3's argument that votebombing is *worse* under a 7 point system because each bomb is typically 7 points instead of 3....

>polls, which have the straight up-or-down voting required are widely accepted as having less thoughtful voting than the debates

A poll isn't analogous to a straight up or down vote on a debate. Thett3 describes how competitive debate isn't like polling. I know some people found this persuasive, but I didn't. It's a completely false conflation. Your whole "poll" argument is really just arguing that people will vote bomb. Using the same argument you just used in your comment -- if people treat debates like polls, they treat the 7-point system like a poll too: like a referendum on their opinion. This goes back to thett's argument that at least under a 3-point system their *magnitude* of the effect of their vote bombing is minimized because they have fewer points to award.
Posted by bluesteel 2 years ago
bluesteel
>bluesteel, I said quite clearly that I wanted to keep the present categories with the present weights for each category. I advocated a system for determining who should win each category, but using the system for determining each category would be optional for everyone except moderators, who could use it to check for vote bombing.

I am still confused how you can call a voting guide "optional" when the moderator enforces it. This is like saying that seatbelt laws should be optional, but that cops should still enforce them...

>In the challenge I said. "I will argue that the site should move in the direction of having more detailed voting guidelines saying more precisely how points would be awarded in each category, rather than in the direction of having fewer categories." You claim from that it was bad conduct for me to go ahead and do exactly what I said I was going to do and to which my opponent agreed.

No, as bsh1 also points out in his RFD, it's bad conduct to try to have your cake and eat it too. You set the topic up to seem that you would have the BOP to prove we should adopt modifications to the current system, then in the last round, you kicked out of having to prove your plans were the ideal system and instead rested the debate on Con failing to meet a BOP that was never asserted until the last round. The topic implies a Pro BOP to me; putting stuff in your first round about "I advocate.... X, Y, Z" just adds to the bait and switch. Maybe the topic wording wasn't intentional - I know you prefer that Pro goes first - but Pro usually has the BOP as bsh1 also points out. And I do think the attempts in the last round to win by BOP shifting were intentional.
Posted by Maikuru 2 years ago
Maikuru
I think I'll check, check, check, check this out. What, what, what, what it's all about.
13 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Vote Placed by Geogeer 2 years ago
Geogeer
RoyLathamthett3Tied
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Reasons for voting decision: An interesting debate. Roy's system is superior for better judges, however Thett's argument is more appropriate for less partial voters. Being new on this site I have no real predisposition of like or dislike for either system. While there are changes that I would like to the current system, I'm of the opinion that the multiple categories is superior. That being said, for experienced debaters, the other categories become essentially redundant as they will be essentially equivalent in those aspects. Thus for practicality and to avoid vote bombing Con wins the vote.
Vote Placed by Ragnar 2 years ago
Ragnar
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Reasons for voting decision: Due to strong bias, I am limiting myself to a null vote...
Vote Placed by bsh1 2 years ago
bsh1
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Reasons for voting decision: Really, this debate boils down to BOP. In R4, Pro asserts that it is Con's BOP to show that the status quo should change. I have a hard time accepting this for two reasons: (1) BOP is conventionally placed on the debater making a positive assertion, which in this case is Roy, in that he is arguing that DDO "should" do something. (2) Making that type of BOP arg at the very end is abusive to Con in that he has only 1 round left to respond. It's too last-minute. Con's clarification of the BOP, that Pro must show a compelling distinction between real and online debate, works in terms of the way the debate was framed from the onset--comparing DDO to IRL system of judging (from figure skating to NFL Nats.) Frankly, Con does a fantastic job of showing that there is no compelling reason to reject the IRL system for something unique to DDO. Thus, Con wins. Good round!
Vote Placed by EndarkenedRationalist 2 years ago
EndarkenedRationalist
RoyLathamthett3Tied
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Reasons for voting decision: A big part of the deciding factor for me was PRO's case that bad votes will be offset by more bad votes: "Strategic voters will tend to cancel automatically." I found CON's argument about eliminating "strategic votes" - as they award more points to the side they think won/withhold them from a side they want to lose - with a one-man, one-vote system strong, since there are bad voters, (thank the Lord for Airmax). I didn't find PRO's comparisons to sports convincing, as CON successfully refuted them by pointing out the differences between online debating and sports. I think PRO's strongest case related to guiding judges, as I doubt most online voters are nationally renowned for judging debates. However, CON's other points manage to outweigh this. Essentially, I found witholding points for strategic votes to be a serious issue that CON exposed (with a solution). Ironically, I'm giving PRO conduct because CON disingenuously claimed PRO said 'real" debate is worthless when that was false.
Vote Placed by xXCryptoXx 2 years ago
xXCryptoXx
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Reasons for voting decision: "His solution is to "educate" voters but that's utopian--it's better to make the system more "idiot proof" by taking out a tool from biased voters toolbox than hoping to change their ways. " -Thett3 This quote from Thett3 in the 4th round basically sums up why CON won this debate. Roy makes many unsound arguments, such as the assumption that mods will always delete vote bombs, that strategic voting is good in that the votes will break ties, and his proposition that instead of changing the system the voters should be better educated. PRO showed no valid reason why every category can't simply weigh into the ultimate decision on arguments votes. CON showed that the other categories can still weigh into the arguments vote while eliminating strategic voting as a whole. The main convincing arguments from CON was that by eliminating the other categories every voter would be placed on the same level of voting, as opposed to new debaters voting on all categories and other voters not.
Vote Placed by bluesteel 2 years ago
bluesteel
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Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments
Vote Placed by Cermank 2 years ago
Cermank
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Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments
Vote Placed by Romanii 2 years ago
Romanii
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Reasons for voting decision: VERY close debate. However Con did an amazing job of showing that a one vote/one man system would work, which is something I heavily doubted before reading; Pro's objections to the system were rather weak and easily refuted by Con, especially the vote-bombing one. Con also did an excellent job of showing that strategic voting IS a problem, backing it up with a special poll on the subject and several examples. As for examples from outside of DDO, Pro used the sports, while Con used formal academic debating... obviously Con's example is more relevant to DDO, as Con pointed out. Thus, all things considered, arguments to Con. S&G to Pro as he had virtually none, whereas Con had a few noticeable ones. Great debate, overall!
Vote Placed by whiteflame 2 years ago
whiteflame
RoyLathamthett3Tied
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Reasons for voting decision: Given in comments.
Vote Placed by Juris_Naturalis 2 years ago
Juris_Naturalis
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Reasons for voting decision: The quality of both debaters arguments was excellent, but I have to agree with Pro simply on the basis that the multiple categories are more constructive than a blanket "you get my vote".