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Debaters creating ridiculous rules in debates

bluesteel
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4/20/2014 12:53:29 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
I won't name names, but I have seen rules now that have gone so far as to say: my opponent cannot make the following [topical and legitimate] arguments: ......

I think people have gone too far with making their own rules. It's one thing to say "first round acceptance" or "no new arguments in the last round." These are simple house-keeping and structural rules. It's another to use rules that limit the substantive debate beyond what the topic already does.

Would you guys (the DDO community) reject a rule if a theory argument were made against it? For example, if a debater said: "rule, Con must accept all my definitions." Or rule: "Con cannot make the following arguments: ...", would you buy a response that said:

"Reject this rule because it's bad for debate. The rule artificially limits the ground that Con has to argue, which harms the fairness and educational value of debate. The topic should be open to interpretation and argumentation. The ability of instigator to set all the rules is unfair given that instigator is already protected from the contender advantage by getting a huge ELO boost (25 point gain to instigator, 25 point loss to contender). The contender should not be considered to consent to all rules by accepting because take-it-or-leave-it offers are inherently coercive. Just like it's unfair that people have to accept all of Apple's terms and conditions just to use iTunes, it's also unfair that if someone wants to debate a certain topic, he or she has to agree to a long list of ridiculous rules. In debates that have been prearranged, there is no legitimate reason that one side gets to set all the rules because it's arbitrary who is instigator. For these reasons, reject rules that limit the substance of the debate. Rules that limit the structure of the debate are okay.

Theory is an issue of competing interpretations -- whichever side offers an interpretation that is better for debate wins. "No rules that limit substance" is better for debate than the alternative. Independent voter to send a message. :P
You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into - Jonathan Swift (paraphrase)
ClassicRobert
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4/20/2014 12:57:33 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
I completely agree. Structural rules are perfectly fine, but substantive rules are just ridiculous. A debater should be able to argue anything, and it should be up to the debaters in round to show that something is non-topical or an invalid argument.
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bsh1
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4/20/2014 12:59:33 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
Personally, I tend to reject theory out of hand. The debate has certain parameters, and I don't buy that we can simply reject those parameter, regardless of the nature of the theory args. Even theory that provides an alt is not something I'd evaluate.

If you accept a debate, you agree to the rules set forth.
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ESocialBookworm
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4/20/2014 1:04:19 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 4/20/2014 1:02:18 PM, Romanii wrote:
Wow, I love how we have NO IDEA who you're talking about...

Hahaha.
Solonkr~
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ESocialBookworm
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4/20/2014 1:05:05 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 4/20/2014 12:53:29 PM, bluesteel wrote:
I won't name names, but I have seen rules now that have gone so far as to say: my opponent cannot make the following [topical and legitimate] arguments: ......


Lol. You don't need to.
Solonkr~
I don't care about whether an ideology is "necessary" or not,
I care about how to solve problems,
which is what everyone else should also care about.

Ken~
In essence, the world is fucked up and you can either ignore it, become cynical or bitter about it.

Me~
"BAILEY + SOLON = SAILEY
MY SHIP SAILEY MUST SAIL"

SCREW THAT SHIZ #BANNIE = BAILEY & ANNIE

P.S. Shipped Sailey before it was cannon bitches.
Intrepid
Posts: 372
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4/20/2014 1:09:44 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
Darnit, I don't know who it is.

Anyways, I agree that when accepting a debate you also accept all the rules the instigator puts forth, no matter how ridiculous or stupid.
CJKAllstar
Posts: 408
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4/20/2014 1:11:08 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 4/20/2014 12:53:29 PM, bluesteel wrote:
I won't name names, but I have seen rules now that have gone so far as to say: my opponent cannot make the following [topical and legitimate] arguments: ......

I think people have gone too far with making their own rules. It's one thing to say "first round acceptance" or "no new arguments in the last round." These are simple house-keeping and structural rules. It's another to use rules that limit the substantive debate beyond what the topic already does.

Would you guys (the DDO community) reject a rule if a theory argument were made against it? For example, if a debater said: "rule, Con must accept all my definitions." Or rule: "Con cannot make the following arguments: ...", would you buy a response that said:

"Reject this rule because it's bad for debate. The rule artificially limits the ground that Con has to argue, which harms the fairness and educational value of debate. The topic should be open to interpretation and argumentation. The ability of instigator to set all the rules is unfair given that instigator is already protected from the contender advantage by getting a huge ELO boost (25 point gain to instigator, 25 point loss to contender). The contender should not be considered to consent to all rules by accepting because take-it-or-leave-it offers are inherently coercive. Just like it's unfair that people have to accept all of Apple's terms and conditions just to use iTunes, it's also unfair that if someone wants to debate a certain topic, he or she has to agree to a long list of ridiculous rules. In debates that have been prearranged, there is no legitimate reason that one side gets to set all the rules because it's arbitrary who is instigator. For these reasons, reject rules that limit the substance of the debate. Rules that limit the structure of the debate are okay.

Theory is an issue of competing interpretations -- whichever side offers an interpretation that is better for debate wins. "No rules that limit substance" is better for debate than the alternative. Independent voter to send a message. :P

I believe this is why there is an option to accept debate. I still think the instigator has all right to set any rules he wishes. Because it is up to the contender to accept them. If you do not like the rules of a debate, then do not accept it. If you want to debate it that bad, ask the instigator or create the same/a similar debate. Once you have accepted the debate, you have accepted the opening round. If this states his rules, then you have accepted his rules. It may not be fair, but you accepted the debate, you accepted the rules, so cannot complain if you do not like them.

This autonomy this website comes with means people have a lot of freedom to be massively annoying, troll or irritate us. But in turn we get to ignore them and leave them. The system now is fine, and I would not accept any message because if you act upon it, it would be a direct violation of rules which you accepted, which would end in your loss. If contentions weren't allowed to be set, then the whole round would be absolute disarray. However, slight regulation would not make sense because the line to set it is subjective.

Leave the system as it is. Accept if you like the rules, ask or make a new debate if you don't.
"Political language... is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind." - George Orwell
bluesteel
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4/20/2014 1:16:22 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 4/20/2014 1:05:05 PM, ESocialBookworm wrote:
At 4/20/2014 12:53:29 PM, bluesteel wrote:
I won't name names, but I have seen rules now that have gone so far as to say: my opponent cannot make the following [topical and legitimate] arguments: ......



Lol. You don't need to.

Haha. I wish people would read a particular debate that I have in my head where this was a serious problem and then re-evaluate my question. It really changes your perspective. Substantive rule limitations are just mean to the judges too because it makes it impossible in some cases to judge the debate, since the rule is so restrictive sometimes that it actually covers basically every argument in the debate. Since resolutions are truth statements, it's hard to even conceptualize the debate when a debater limits the topic with a rule rather than better topic wording.
You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into - Jonathan Swift (paraphrase)
bluesteel
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4/20/2014 1:21:41 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 4/20/2014 1:11:08 PM, CJKAllstar wrote:

I believe this is why there is an option to accept debate. I still think the instigator has all right to set any rules he wishes. Because it is up to the contender to accept them. If you do not like the rules of a debate, then do not accept it. If you want to debate it that bad, ask the instigator or create the same/a similar debate. Once you have accepted the debate, you have accepted the opening round. If this states his rules, then you have accepted his rules. It may not be fair, but you accepted the debate, you accepted the rules, so cannot complain if you do not like them.

This autonomy this website comes with means people have a lot of freedom to be massively annoying, troll or irritate us. But in turn we get to ignore them and leave them. The system now is fine, and I would not accept any message because if you act upon it, it would be a direct violation of rules which you accepted, which would end in your loss. If contentions weren't allowed to be set, then the whole round would be absolute disarray. However, slight regulation would not make sense because the line to set it is subjective.

Leave the system as it is. Accept if you like the rules, ask or make a new debate if you don't.

All my future debates:

Round 1: Rule #1 -- I reserve the right to make further rules as I deem necessary.

Round 2: Rule #2 -- I am exercising my rule-making authority. Contender is not allowed to use sources.

Round 3: Rule #3 -- I am again exercising my rule-making authority. The rule is that Contender automatically loses.

Checkmate..... My issue is that debates ought to be judged by who is the better debater, not who is the better *contract negotiator.* That's all substantive-limitation rules are -- basically a negotiated contract that pre-allocates advantages to certain sides, usually with all the advantages going to instigator.
You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into - Jonathan Swift (paraphrase)
9spaceking
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4/20/2014 1:25:25 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
I hate how Rational_Thinker makes his debate series impossible to beat, with the dumb "aBcD" rule applying only to his opponent in order for him to win.
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bluesteel
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4/20/2014 1:31:36 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 4/20/2014 12:59:33 PM, bsh1 wrote:
Personally, I tend to reject theory out of hand. The debate has certain parameters, and I don't buy that we can simply reject those parameter, regardless of the nature of the theory args. Even theory that provides an alt is not something I'd evaluate.

If you accept a debate, you agree to the rules set forth.

My issue is that you often don't understand how damaging a rule is until it's being used against you in a really unfair way. He-who-shall-not be named's opponent still doesn't quite get what the rule even was supposed to do, and this is one of the top debaters on the site.

I also just object generally to turning judges into contract lawyers -- trying to divine what rules mean. He-who-shall-not-be-named has alternatively argued that rules require rejecting arguments [when it benefited him] and that rules violations require only deducting a conduct point [when the rule hurt him]. Judging a debate is hard enough without having you arms tied by *substantive* limitations.

As a former coach, I don't trust my debaters to set their own rules for the debate. They aren't contract attorneys and they make mistakes. I think it's unfair that one of their mistakes can mean an auto-loss, if they fail to properly anticipate what effect the rule has on the debate.

This is why I think there's a difference between structural and substantive limitations. The rules for LD are all structural limitations. There *are* NFL rules limitating substance -- specifically the ban on counterplans and kritiks in public forum. And I can tell you from *lots* of personal experience both coaching and judging, the counterplan limitations is *extremely annoying* and *ridiculous.* It's very hard to define what a counterplan is, versus an opportunity cost or mere alternative advocacy (which is abstract, rather than requiring fiat). I hate the rule as a judge because it has caused me headaches. I hate the rule as a coach because counterplans are important ground. Most debaters now hate the rule.

The rule actually bans "off topic arguments," and gives counterplans and kritiks as an example. But not all counterplans are "off topic." It's not clear whether the rule bans all counterplans, non-topical counterplans, or non-mutually exclusive counterplans, or merely advocacies that require fiat. The rule basically turns every debate judge into an *actual judge* charged with interpretting a rule that is more complex than most statutes or court opinions. So yeah. I hate substantive limitations.
You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into - Jonathan Swift (paraphrase)
Intrepid
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4/20/2014 1:34:45 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 4/20/2014 1:25:25 PM, 9spaceking wrote:
I hate how Rational_Thinker makes his debate series impossible to beat, with the dumb "aBcD" rule applying only to his opponent in order for him to win.

Is RT the person in question in this topic? I know he does a lot of debates like that.
Romanii
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4/20/2014 1:37:46 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 4/20/2014 1:34:45 PM, Intrepid wrote:
At 4/20/2014 1:25:25 PM, 9spaceking wrote:
I hate how Rational_Thinker makes his debate series impossible to beat, with the dumb "aBcD" rule applying only to his opponent in order for him to win.

Is RT the person in question in this topic? I know he does a lot of debates like that.

There are a couple of other names that come to mind, but yes I think RT may be one of the people bluesteel is talking about.
bluesteel
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4/20/2014 1:45:33 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 4/20/2014 12:59:33 PM, bsh1 wrote:
Personally, I tend to reject theory out of hand. The debate has certain parameters, and I don't buy that we can simply reject those parameter, regardless of the nature of the theory args. Even theory that provides an alt is not something I'd evaluate.

If you accept a debate, you agree to the rules set forth.

Also, as a sidenote, even *contract law* isn't that absolute. It's not true that just because you accept a contract that you are automatically bound by it. (1) There is a requirement that you get at least one term that benefits you in return for signing (the "consideration" requirement). But many rules on this site only benefit contender [so they wouldn't be enforceable contracts]. (2) There is protection from terms that are too unfair or slanted towards one side (the unsconsionability doctrine). (3) There is a ban on liquidated damages that are punitive, which would mean a ban on rules that say, "a violation of these rules results in a full 7 point loss." (4) There is a protection against terms in the contract that someone would be "surprised" to find in the contract on the assumption that they didn't read the whole thing (reasonable expectations doctrine from insurance law). (5) There is protection against being forced to accept the contract (the duress defense). People are often bullied or severely peer pressured into accepting by an instigator or others, in spite of a rule they find really problematic.

I could go on. My point is that -- either you allow an instigator to set *any* rule -- which is a more extreme position than our actual law takes. You can't just get someone to agree to any condition. *Or* you adopt an entire "DDO case law" to try to regulate extreme rules. But then you turn debate judges into actual law-judges, with each being forced to apply a complex body of law regulating what types of rules are permissible and impermissible.
You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into - Jonathan Swift (paraphrase)
PeacefulChaos
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4/20/2014 1:53:39 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
If you have a complaint with the debate, post it in the comments. That way you can convince the instigator to change the rules. If he/she refuses and you wanted to debate that topic, then you can organize the debate again and do it with the same person or someone else.

If we allow people to just "reject" rules after accepting the debate, it will lead to too much subjectivity in deciding which rules are right and wrong. They would begin to waste more time arguing about the resolution and the rules than the debate itself, which would be a waste of a debate and time.

By accepting the debate you accept whatever rules were in the first opening round.
bsh1
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4/20/2014 2:03:16 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 4/20/2014 1:45:33 PM, bluesteel wrote:
At 4/20/2014 12:59:33 PM, bsh1 wrote:
Personally, I tend to reject theory out of hand. The debate has certain parameters, and I don't buy that we can simply reject those parameter, regardless of the nature of the theory args. Even theory that provides an alt is not something I'd evaluate.

If you accept a debate, you agree to the rules set forth.

Also, as a sidenote, even *contract law* isn't that absolute. It's not true that just because you accept a contract that you are automatically bound by it.

Why is contract law necessarily analogous to debate?

(1) There is a requirement that you get at least one term that benefits you in return for signing (the "consideration" requirement). But many rules on this site only benefit contender [so they wouldn't be enforceable contracts].

The idea being that there is a chance that you could win. Is that not a potential benefit? If the rules actually prevent one side from winning in any scenario, then I would disregard the rules. But as long as one side can win, I see no reason to reject the rules as set out.

(2) There is protection from terms that are too unfair or slanted towards one side (the unsconsionability doctrine). (3) There is a ban on liquidated damages that are punitive, which would mean a ban on rules that say, "a violation of these rules results in a full 7 point loss." (4) There is a protection against terms in the contract that someone would be "surprised" to find in the contract on the assumption that they didn't read the whole thing (reasonable expectations doctrine from insurance law).

The onus should be on you to read all terms carefully. I forgot to do this recently, myself. Fortunately, my opponent allowed me to bow out of the debate. But, if he didn't agree, I would have been compelled to either argue or lose. I don't think this is unfair.

Also, let's say I set the response time as 5 minutes...if you click accept, then unless a mod resets the debate, there is no way to alter that. Should you be allowed to simply annul the debate because you didn't take time to read the information?

Moreover, you could argue that anytime a debater is forced to bear the sole BOP that the debate is rigged against them. Presumption args do similar things. If we said that the debate should be perfectly unslanted, how would evaluate these things?

(5) There is protection against being forced to accept the contract (the duress defense). People are often bullied or severely peer pressured into accepting by an instigator or others, in spite of a rule they find really problematic.

I really have yet to see something like this. If that is the case, then mods should become involved. That is unacceptable.

I could go on. My point is that -- either you allow an instigator to set *any* rule -- which is a more extreme position than our actual law takes. You can't just get someone to agree to any condition. *Or* you adopt an entire "DDO case law" to try to regulate extreme rules. But then you turn debate judges into actual law-judges, with each being forced to apply a complex body of law regulating what types of rules are permissible and impermissible.

I think this is merely a dichotomy you have chosen to draw, and not one that necessarily exists.

My point was that the debate has to be judged somehow. Theory presents evaluative mechanisms outside of the context of the debate or topic to evaluate the round. These are neither fair in terms of predictability nor are they unbiased. Unless a debater feels confident that the theory they run will win them the debate, they're not likely to run it.

At this point, wither way the round is skewed. Ultimately, I believe that it takes a lot to overturn the rules, and rules have presumptive strength over theory args. Therefore, I prefer the rules and topical points over theory.
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bluesteel
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4/20/2014 2:12:34 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 4/20/2014 2:03:16 PM, bsh1 wrote:
At 4/20/2014 1:45:33 PM, bluesteel wrote:
At 4/20/2014 12:59:33 PM, bsh1 wrote:
Personally, I tend to reject theory out of hand. The debate has certain parameters, and I don't buy that we can simply reject those parameter, regardless of the nature of the theory args. Even theory that provides an alt is not something I'd evaluate.

If you accept a debate, you agree to the rules set forth.

Also, as a sidenote, even *contract law* isn't that absolute. It's not true that just because you accept a contract that you are automatically bound by it.

Why is contract law necessarily analogous to debate?


The basic principles underlying both are the same -- that you can bind yourself to something by your consent, but that this power must be attenuated with safeguards.

Point taken as to your specific responses to each issue, but honestly, my biggest headache with dumb rules has been as a judge not as a debater, so my biggest criticism is still that I don't want to have to be a contract attorney to vote on a debate [even though I am somewhat uniquely qualified to be one].

My point was that the debate has to be judged somehow. Theory presents evaluative mechanisms outside of the context of the debate or topic to evaluate the round. These are neither fair in terms of predictability nor are they unbiased. Unless a debater feels confident that the theory they run will win them the debate, they're not likely to run it.

At this point, wither way the round is skewed. Ultimately, I believe that it takes a lot to overturn the rules, and rules have presumptive strength over theory args. Therefore, I prefer the rules and topical points over theory.

I don't really understand why rules are sacrosanct. Consent? Why does instigator get to make any rule but contender can't make a simple theory argument? Why are rules presumptively valid and theory arguments presumptively invalid?

It's one thing to accept "structural" limitations, like 1 hour to respond. It's another to accept substantive limitations. Courts regularly refuse to enforce certain contract terms as "void against public policy." At least for me, substantive limitations should be void as against public policy.

The instigator should get the debate *structure* that he wanted. He shouldn't get to dictate the contender's arguments that he wants to refute.
You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into - Jonathan Swift (paraphrase)
bsh1
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4/20/2014 2:13:15 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 4/20/2014 1:31:36 PM, bluesteel wrote:
At 4/20/2014 12:59:33 PM, bsh1 wrote:
Personally, I tend to reject theory out of hand. The debate has certain parameters, and I don't buy that we can simply reject those parameter, regardless of the nature of the theory args. Even theory that provides an alt is not something I'd evaluate.

If you accept a debate, you agree to the rules set forth.

My issue is that you often don't understand how damaging a rule is until it's being used against you in a really unfair way. He-who-shall-not be named's opponent still doesn't quite get what the rule even was supposed to do, and this is one of the top debaters on the site.

I have no issue with arguments about how to interpret the rules. I hesitate, however, to dismiss the rules entirely. as a judge, I will choose the least abusive interpretation of the rule, esp. if one side is contorting it beyond reasonability. Moreover, that is why there is a comments section--to ask clarifying questions.

I also just object generally to turning judges into contract lawyers -- trying to divine what rules mean. He-who-shall-not-be-named has alternatively argued that rules require rejecting arguments [when it benefited him] and that rules violations require only deducting a conduct point [when the rule hurt him]. Judging a debate is hard enough without having you arms tied by *substantive* limitations.

In my debates, any violation of the rules is a 7-point loss; it avoids double standards. However, I think judges there should apply all rules with the same penalty.

This is why I think there's a difference between structural and substantive limitations. The rules for LD are all structural limitations. There *are* NFL rules limitating substance -- specifically the ban on counterplans and kritiks in public forum. And I can tell you from *lots* of personal experience both coaching and judging, the counterplan limitations is *extremely annoying* and *ridiculous.* It's very hard to define what a counterplan is, versus an opportunity cost or mere alternative advocacy (which is abstract, rather than requiring fiat). I hate the rule as a judge because it has caused me headaches. I hate the rule as a coach because counterplans are important ground. Most debaters now hate the rule.

I don't actually, but that gets into my philosophy on debating and judging in general. Counterplans have no place in LD or PF, IMHO. The same for K's. It might just be the hyper-traditionalist in me, but hey...

But, debaters who do PF know the rules, and must conform to them. Judges are there to ensure that students stay within those bounds, not just to pick winners.

The rule actually bans "off topic arguments," and gives counterplans and kritiks as an example. But not all counterplans are "off topic." It's not clear whether the rule bans all counterplans, non-topical counterplans, or non-mutually exclusive counterplans, or merely advocacies that require fiat. The rule basically turns every debate judge into an *actual judge* charged with interpretting a rule that is more complex than most statutes or court opinions. So yeah. I hate substantive limitations.

That's a bit of an overstatement...but I will say that judges should be up front about their paradigms in rounds. For me, counterplans are just annoying. If it's an non-topical counterplan, then it's basically an automatic loss.
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bsh1
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4/20/2014 2:29:05 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 4/20/2014 2:12:34 PM, bluesteel wrote:
At 4/20/2014 2:03:16 PM, bsh1 wrote:

Why is contract law necessarily analogous to debate?


The basic principles underlying both are the same -- that you can bind yourself to something by your consent, but that this power must be attenuated with safeguards.

I think a better example might be law, where the NFL and NCFL central committees are the "legislatures of debate." Just as with actual law, ignorance of the law is no excuse. Moreover, neither is consent required to enforce the law; I may not consent to laws limiting my right to do X, but simply because I don't consent to them does not mean those laws cannot be enforced against me.

If we look at a debate round from that lens, where the instigator is legislating the rules for the debate, then there is a strong presumption in favor of the rules that he is applying. By accepting the debate, you are essentially placing yourself under the jurisdiction of those laws, and whether or not you like it, you have to obey those laws.

Judges should therefore only nullify those rules when those rules make it literally impossible for someone to win.

While this analogy is imperfect--frankly because I want to say that consent does matter to an extent--it is a different way to frame the issue that should be considered.

Point taken as to your specific responses to each issue, but honestly, my biggest headache with dumb rules has been as a judge not as a debater, so my biggest criticism is still that I don't want to have to be a contract attorney to vote on a debate [even though I am somewhat uniquely qualified to be one].

Frankly, I don't mind debates over rules. I think I am one of the few judges that likes rule and definitional clashes in debates...These are all valid things for the debaters to discuss and judges should be prepared to evaluate them. It's part of a judge's job description.

My point was that the debate has to be judged somehow. Theory presents evaluative mechanisms outside of the context of the debate or topic to evaluate the round. These are neither fair in terms of predictability nor are they unbiased. Unless a debater feels confident that the theory they run will win them the debate, they're not likely to run it.

At this point, wither way the round is skewed. Ultimately, I believe that it takes a lot to overturn the rules, and rules have presumptive strength over theory args. Therefore, I prefer the rules and topical points over theory.

I don't really understand why rules are sacrosanct. Consent? Why does instigator get to make any rule but contender can't make a simple theory argument? Why are rules presumptively valid and theory arguments presumptively invalid?

Because, unlike with theory, everyone knows the rules ahead of time. Theory lacks predictability or topicality. The instigator gets to set the parameters because they are instigating the debate.

Now, before anyone criticizes the logic of that last sentence, let me explain. When I start a debate, I have a specific idea of what I want to debate. I want to debate X, but not Y or Z. I therefore rule out Y and Z in order to ensure that we debate X. In other words, the instigator is deciding what they want to debate, and the extent to which they want the topic to be discussed. The challenger is accepting the grounds of the debate, knowing that potential restrictions are in place.

Lets say I want to build a home. I tell my builder exactly what I want the home to be built out of. The builder accepts the job, and accepts the restrictions I have placed on him. He must therefore operate within those restrictions. Is this unfair to the builder/challenger? No--because it is the instigator's prerogative to decide what the debate is about.

It's one thing to accept "structural" limitations, like 1 hour to respond. It's another to accept substantive limitations. Courts regularly refuse to enforce certain contract terms as "void against public policy." At least for me, substantive limitations should be void as against public policy.

Yet, the instigator is doing a lot more than deciding upon a structure. S/he is also deciding on a topic. Topics are, by nature, interpretive, and the instigator wants to avoid one interpretation, then they can specify this. This is just part of determining the topic of the debate.
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bluesteel
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4/20/2014 2:41:33 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 4/20/2014 2:13:15 PM, bsh1 wrote:
The rule actually bans "off topic arguments," and gives counterplans and kritiks as an example. But not all counterplans are "off topic." It's not clear whether the rule bans all counterplans, non-topical counterplans, or non-mutually exclusive counterplans, or merely advocacies that require fiat. The rule basically turns every debate judge into an *actual judge* charged with interpretting a rule that is more complex than most statutes or court opinions. So yeah. I hate substantive limitations.

That's a bit of an overstatement...but I will say that judges should be up front about their paradigms in rounds. For me, counterplans are just annoying. If it's an non-topical counterplan, then it's basically an automatic loss.

Actual topic: Financial incentives for organ donation.

Pro: saves lives, thousands die from not enough organs

Con: there are other ways to get organs, e.g. compulsory donation from cadavers (like in Europe), where the donor can opt out instead of opting in.

Is that a counterplan? Providing alternative solvency on that topic was the only way Con could possibly win.

This goes to more just what you said about PF, and not about this site.
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thett3
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4/20/2014 2:54:58 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
As a former PFer, I'll just say that most people here found the "no counterplan rule" to be a pain in the @ss and really stupid. A lot of times, Neg would make a counterplan and just call it an "alternative" and judges usually bought it. In my final year, the TFA, (Texas forensics association) voted to remove the prohibition on counterplans in Public Forum, and I agree with it.

Tldr, substantive restrictions on debate are often a hindrance. I think as a judge I would accept a theory argument against a rule. I would also accept a competing theory argument from the instigator that the contender agreed to the rules when accepting the debate.
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Aravengeance
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4/20/2014 2:59:03 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 4/20/2014 1:25:25 PM, 9spaceking wrote:
I hate how Rational_Thinker makes his debate series impossible to beat, with the dumb "aBcD" rule applying only to his opponent in order for him to win.

It's hard but it's not impossible. You just have to spend a lot of time proofreading your argument over and over to see if you messed up somewhere.
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4/20/2014 2:59:27 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
The no counter plan rule was also abused a lot. I saw so many affs grill their opponents on not being allowed to have counter plans, only to stand up in their next speech and argue the judge can't vote neg because neg isn't being clear enough on what happens if you vote con
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: At 11/12/2016 11:49:40 PM, Raisor wrote:
: thett was right
bluesteel
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4/20/2014 3:02:38 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 4/20/2014 2:29:05 PM, bsh1 wrote:
At 4/20/2014 2:12:34 PM, bluesteel wrote:
At 4/20/2014 2:03:16 PM, bsh1 wrote:

Why is contract law necessarily analogous to debate?


The basic principles underlying both are the same -- that you can bind yourself to something by your consent, but that this power must be attenuated with safeguards.

I think a better example might be law, where the NFL and NCFL central committees are the "legislatures of debate." Just as with actual law, ignorance of the law is no excuse. Moreover, neither is consent required to enforce the law; I may not consent to laws limiting my right to do X, but simply because I don't consent to them does not mean those laws cannot be enforced against me.

NFL is maximizing fairness to both sides. Instigator is maximizing his chance of winning when drafting rules. It's not analogous. It's more fair to presume NFL rules are valid than instigator-created rules.

You and I also fundamentally disagree about whether it's legitimate to subject someone to laws without their consent. I think the consent is theoretical and comes from agreeing to be bound by society's laws in exchange for its protection (the harm principle). Laws that do not conform to the harm principle are passed without consent of the governed and are illegitimate. So I don't consider laws presumptively valid if they are purely paternalistic.

You could create an anologous framework that contender agrees to be bound by rules that make the debate more fair, but should not be *presumed* to consent to rules that advantage only the instigator.


Judges should therefore only nullify those rules when those rules make it literally impossible for someone to win.


I think that's overly harsh. How do you even judge what it makes "literally impossible" to win? Does that mean that I can think of an irrefutable argument that that side could make? Because if you limit contender ground to only arguments you can refute or outweigh, that technically makes the debate "unwinnable," but it doesn't mean there are "no arguments" that contender could make. A "no arguments" test is the easiest to apply, but is too restrictive. But any test in the middle is impossible to administer.

Frankly, I don't mind debates over rules. I think I am one of the few judges that likes rule and definitional clashes in debates...These are all valid things for the debaters to discuss and judges should be prepared to evaluate them. It's part of a judge's job description.

Oh okay, I guess we're not that far off. It's just that I labeled that a theory debate rather than a framework or definitional debate.

Because, unlike with theory, everyone knows the rules ahead of time. Theory lacks predictability or topicality. The instigator gets to set the parameters because they are instigating the debate.

If you're doing something that is bad for debate and the site overall, shouldn't you lose?

Now, before anyone criticizes the logic of that last sentence, let me explain. When I start a debate, I have a specific idea of what I want to debate. I want to debate X, but not Y or Z. I therefore rule out Y and Z in order to ensure that we debate X. In other words, the instigator is deciding what they want to debate, and the extent to which they want the topic to be discussed. The challenger is accepting the grounds of the debate, knowing that potential restrictions are in place.

It's a problem on the site though that unlike Parli (which also allows topic drafting), there is no argument that the resolution/rules are "tight" (unbeatable). This is technically a "theory" argument -- it allows the contender to explain to the judges why the topic drafting does not allow him or her any room to argue.

Lets say I want to build a home. I tell my builder exactly what I want the home to be built out of. The builder accepts the job, and accepts the restrictions I have placed on him. He must therefore operate within those restrictions. Is this unfair to the builder/challenger? No--because it is the instigator's prerogative to decide what the debate is about.

I'm only arguing over the most egregious rules -- overreaching limitations on substance. If you slip a clause into the contract that the builder's first-born child belongs to you, should that be enforceable? Not every limitation can overcome consent.

We're basically arguing over a difficult line drawing question. You would enforce all rules except those that make it "impossible" to win. I would draw the line on the opposite extreme and reject all substantive limitations. Perhaps the right answer in somewhere in the middle -- reject "unreasonable" limitations on substance.

Yet, the instigator is doing a lot more than deciding upon a structure. S/he is also deciding on a topic. Topics are, by nature, interpretive, and the instigator wants to avoid one interpretation, then they can specify this. This is just part of determining the topic of the debate.

No, I have a serious problem with this. The instigator can make the "resolution" as long, complicated, and specific as he or she wants. It's possible to completely foreclose arguments you don't want using the topic. For example: "Resolved: Abortion should be illegal, except in cases of rape and meidical necessity." This limits out certain arguments. I have a problem, however, with a debater saying: "Resolved: Abortion should be illegal." Rule1: This is only a debate about ethics, not about the practical aspects. Rule2: No bringing up rape or ectopic pregnancies.

My problem with the latter is: (1) that it could have been solved by topic drafting; (2) it is inherently unclear to contender what "ethics" means; aren't practical aspects important to utilitarianism? Asking for clarification might solve this problem, but it might also just result in the Instigator editing the rules to make it even more impossible for Contender to win; it might be safer to just accept and argue that util is an ethics argument, even if it considers practical things; (3) the rules make judges jobs more difficult; now every argument has to be run through an evaluative framework about whether it is an ethical argument or is "too practical." The topic should have just been re-drafted: "Resolved: Abortion is unethical, except in cases of rape and medical necessity."
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9spaceking
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4/20/2014 3:22:27 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 4/20/2014 2:59:03 PM, Aravengeance wrote:
At 4/20/2014 1:25:25 PM, 9spaceking wrote:
I hate how Rational_Thinker makes his debate series impossible to beat, with the dumb "aBcD" rule applying only to his opponent in order for him to win.

It's hard but it's not impossible. You just have to spend a lot of time proofreading your argument over and over to see if you messed up somewhere.

It would take too much time. To test it out, try responding to my comment in that format (each other letter is capitalized, each line must begin with a lower-case letter, use as many lines as you wish)
Equestrian election
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This House would impose democracy
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Reign of Terror is unjustified
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Raise min. wage to $10.10
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bluesteel
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4/20/2014 3:22:40 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 4/20/2014 2:59:27 PM, thett3 wrote:
The no counter plan rule was also abused a lot. I saw so many affs grill their opponents on not being allowed to have counter plans, only to stand up in their next speech and argue the judge can't vote neg because neg isn't being clear enough on what happens if you vote con

Probably the dumbest rule in existence. There were a lot of past topics that were unwinnable without counterplan ground (state-mandated administration of childhood vaccines, financial incentives for organ donation, costs of college outweigh the benefits [how do you possibly win this without explaining alternatives to college], allowing offshore drilling is in our best interest [this *begs* counterplan ground -- how do you know what is "best" without knowing the other options for getting oil], Obama's plan for increasing troops in Afghanistan is in our best interest [how do you even argue this without knowing the alternative -- was it full withdrawal or trying to make do without the surge?].

There were also the topics that mandate Pro be given plan advocacies and major fiat power (which for whatever reason is *not* banned): birthright citizenship should be abolished [how do you argue this without saying what replaces it?], plea bargaining undermines the criminal justice system [no way to answer cost without arguing bench trials].

I got *so* tired of the argument -- that's a counterplan, just reject it. My own kids were running counter-advocacies. I didn't consider that a sufficient response. And as a policy debater, that made my head explode. I interpretted the rule as not allowing specific plan planks, but allowing Con to use vague advocacies -- particularly if they were *responses* to arguments Pro made. It seems ridiculously unfair to let Pro make certain argument [e.g. no surge puts our troops in danger], without letting Con respond [we could just withdraw]. The counterplan rule would be SO stupid if it lets Pro auto-win since Con can't even respond to arguments where Pro "demands" an advocacy position from Con.

And yeah, my other problem is that PF sometimes drafts the topics to essentially be such that Pro should actually be Con. For example, the birthright topic should really be a topic which is "Resolved: The US should adopt a different system of citizenship other than birthright." Pro would be allowed to run a plan. But by making the Pro side into Con ["Abolish birthright"], you make the "plans" that Pro can run into "counterplans" which are banned.

F*** that rule.
You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into - Jonathan Swift (paraphrase)
Chrysippus
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4/20/2014 4:53:07 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
Not having experience in public debate outside of this site, I'm a little at a loss for most of the RL examples that have been brought up. However, on this site, I am concerned about the growing tendency for poor debaters to create elaborate rules that prevent their opponents from winning.

I agree with Bluesteel here, to a degree. There a lot of pointless game "debates" that change the structural rules in abusive ways, as well, and those deserve censure. But there are too many poor debaters on this site that think they are something special, just because they can lawyer themselves to an auto-win against unwary n00bs. At those times, I take refuge in the fact that the "rules" one side sees fit to impose on the other are not binding on the voters.

In the end, no matter what little rule-happy people might think, the only thing that really matters to the voting are the arguments presented, and the conduct of the voters. Abusive rules are a conduct violation, at the least; extreme cases are an auto-lose for the offender. There's no call for the voters to enable these practices by going along with them.

One could argue that the contender accepted the rules when he took on the debate. That's pretty much irrelevant, considering that no reasonable person would attempt to win a contest he already knew he could not. If he knew the debate were unwinnable, why would he have accepted it? That's like arguing someone deserves to be abused because they started talking to someone who was willing to abuse them. The contender is, by and large, an innocent party that deserve protection; not a willing participant in a one-sided and unwinnable contest.

Unless the rules clearly state that they are unfair and designed in an abusive way, and the contender accepts them with full knowledge, I don't see how they can be enforced. Especially since the voters are under no obligation to enforce the arbitrary whims of the instigator - even if the contender agrees to them.

Basically, stupidity and abuse are not to be encouraged or enabled. These debates should be an auto-lose for the instigator.
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Geogeer
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4/20/2014 6:03:52 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 4/20/2014 12:53:29 PM, bluesteel wrote:
I won't name names, but I have seen rules now that have gone so far as to say: my opponent cannot make the following [topical and legitimate] arguments: ......

I think people have gone too far with making their own rules. It's one thing to say "first round acceptance" or "no new arguments in the last round." These are simple house-keeping and structural rules. It's another to use rules that limit the substantive debate beyond what the topic already does.

I'm of two minds about this. The first is that those who employ these rules twist what you are allowed to debate to such a degree that it actually becomes impossible to debate.

However, certain members on here also twist the debate way off of topic so that instead of debating topic X they end up debating topics Y an Z. Thus people create stupid rules in an attempt to avoid having their debate abusively sidetracked. Thus if you do not regularly debate in good faith then you will create more of these situations.