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Setting Up Debate Rounds

bsh1
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10/2/2014 2:27:52 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
Ajab and I were talking recently about how a debate round should be set-up, specifically, what an instigator's round one should look like. I know that there a variety of philosophies regarding this. I am interested in hearing what your thoughts are on how to set up a debate well. Is there a point where rules and regulations become too restrictive? Should definitions be decided round one or should they be contentions of debate? Should the penalties for rules violations be predetermined by the instigator or left to the discretion of the judge(s)? What are your thoughts on these and other related issues?

I know that I have a standard, "boiler plate" set-up that begins all of my debates (with slight tweaks contoured to the needs of each debate.) Here is an example of it: [http://www.debate.org...] I've noticed a few people emulating my set-up (shout outs to ArcTimes and Esocial--I'm flattered!) and I think that can be really helpful for new members to do. I know when I was first on DDO, my set-ups were radically different and far less polished from what I do now [http://www.debate.org...]. I think it's important to define the debate's structure and to create rules that don't leave too much to interpretation. What are your thoughts? Should new members be encouraged to emulate others' set-ups or to craft their own? Is laying out a clear, step-by-step structure good, or micromanaging? You get my drift...
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imabench
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10/2/2014 3:32:10 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
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whiteflame
Posts: 1,378
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10/2/2014 3:40:00 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 10/2/2014 2:27:52 PM, bsh1 wrote:
Ajab and I were talking recently about how a debate round should be set-up, specifically, what an instigator's round one should look like. I know that there a variety of philosophies regarding this. I am interested in hearing what your thoughts are on how to set up a debate well. Is there a point where rules and regulations become too restrictive? Should definitions be decided round one or should they be contentions of debate? Should the penalties for rules violations be predetermined by the instigator or left to the discretion of the judge(s)? What are your thoughts on these and other related issues?

I know that I have a standard, "boiler plate" set-up that begins all of my debates (with slight tweaks contoured to the needs of each debate.) Here is an example of it: [http://www.debate.org...] I've noticed a few people emulating my set-up (shout outs to ArcTimes and Esocial--I'm flattered!) and I think that can be really helpful for new members to do. I know when I was first on DDO, my set-ups were radically different and far less polished from what I do now [http://www.debate.org...]. I think it's important to define the debate's structure and to create rules that don't leave too much to interpretation. What are your thoughts? Should new members be encouraged to emulate others' set-ups or to craft their own? Is laying out a clear, step-by-step structure good, or micromanaging? You get my drift...

I view the practice of setting up a clear and concise set of rules and definitions as a way to focus the debate, as you do, both for the debaters and the voters. There's something to be said about broadening the debate in order to allow a plethora of options in case creation and rebuttal, but I would argue that nearly any debate has plenty of ground to cover even when it's restricted by the set up in the opening round, though there are instances where a definition or set of rules can be the contentious issue of the debate. I think those often get too semantic anyway.

I see problems with over limiting, to be sure, so the question could become "how much should we seek to limit the breadth of a debate?" The answer to that seems to depend on what is being debated and what the debaters agree to. In our case, for example, the definitions were an expansive part of our opening rounds, and integral to the debate, but we both agreed to them and used that as a strong foundation for the debate itself. Some of our commenters probably viewed it as over limiting, but it established solid ground for both of us, and that was sufficient. In other cases, the definitions may be contextualized, with little in the way of need for them to be directly stated. I'd say it's useful in any case to make sure that both debaters and those reading the debate are on the same page, and I think round 1 is the place to establish that. The earlier, the better.
9spaceking
Posts: 4,213
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10/2/2014 3:54:04 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
its really hard to argue the other way, people just say you have to accept, you have to accept the rules, no matter how ridiculous, because you accepted the debate. Just see kbub vs rational thinker "My opponent will not win this debate"....it shows that people do in fact have to oblige, so either the debate would be too far and nobody accepts, or people think it not too bad and just accept anyways for a challenge.
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Blade-of-Truth
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10/2/2014 6:23:48 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 10/2/2014 2:27:52 PM, bsh1 wrote:
I know that I have a standard, "boiler plate" set-up that begins all of my debates (with slight tweaks contoured to the needs of each debate.) Here is an example of it: [http://www.debate.org...]

I really like the format you used in that debate. If I ever instigate a debate I'll utilize the same structure. Thanks for sharing!
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bsh1
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10/2/2014 7:32:23 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 10/2/2014 6:23:48 PM, Blade-of-Truth wrote:
At 10/2/2014 2:27:52 PM, bsh1 wrote:
I know that I have a standard, "boiler plate" set-up that begins all of my debates (with slight tweaks contoured to the needs of each debate.) Here is an example of it: [http://www.debate.org...]

I really like the format you used in that debate. If I ever instigate a debate I'll utilize the same structure. Thanks for sharing!

Thanks.
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YYW
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10/2/2014 8:00:33 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 10/2/2014 2:27:52 PM, bsh1 wrote:
Ajab and I were talking recently about how a debate round should be set-up, specifically, what an instigator's round one should look like. I know that there a variety of philosophies regarding this. I am interested in hearing what your thoughts are on how to set up a debate well. Is there a point where rules and regulations become too restrictive?

Depends on what you're trying to accomplish. I can certainly sympathize with those who, for example, only allow those judges that individuals debaters nominate to vote on their debates, although I'm not sure if that's the specific kind of rule you're referring to.

Should definitions be decided round one or should they be contentions of debate?

As a general rule, I think definitions should be laid out in the first round, but if the definition itself is a source of contention then it should be litigated in the debate.

Should the penalties for rules violations be predetermined by the instigator or left to the discretion of the judge(s)? What are your thoughts on these and other related issues?

That's a complicated question. When debaters use definitions that are absurd, insufficient, or otherwise faulty, judges have a responsibility to hold them accountable for that, especially if the definition is a source of contention in the debate primarily stemming from the R1 definition's insufficiency.

Generally, I stipulate that acceptance of my debate implies acceptance of my definitions -but I really try not to abusively manipulate them or omit (willfully or not) salient details to/of the. I think that the general practice of using free online dictionaries to define terms (except Webster) is one that should be put out to grass, because in many cases (to avoid copyright issues) such dictionaries will change the wording in ways that subtly affect meaning, or the definitions themselves will be insufficient -as has been the case in many debates I've seen.

That said, debaters and judges have a duty to only apply 'correct' definitions by the most credible available source. If the free dictionary is the only source available (although I cannot think how that would ever the the case) then and only then would I understand using it. Webster is always better, unless the term is especially technical and requires specialized knowledge to generally know.

I know that I have a standard, "boiler plate" set-up that begins all of my debates (with slight tweaks contoured to the needs of each debate.) Here is an example of it: [http://www.debate.org...] I've noticed a few people emulating my set-up (shout outs to ArcTimes and Esocial--I'm flattered!) and I think that can be really helpful for new members to do. I know when I was first on DDO, my set-ups were radically different and far less polished from what I do now [http://www.debate.org...].

Mine were too. When I started to care more about debates, I formatted better.

I think it's important to define the debate's structure and to create rules that don't leave too much to interpretation.

I fully agree. For example, definitional ambiguity is something that (as a debater) I can "live in" in such a way that there would be no feasible way for PRO to prove their case. This is commonly referred to as "playing semantic games." Semantic arguments are not always bad, but I think that generally debaters should try to work out definitions in PM's before initiating the debate they plan to have if their debate involves technical language or language that requires generally specialized knowledge.

I also take issue with debate structures that say "arguments" and "rebuttals." Rebuttals are "kinds" of arguments, and even though the distinction was made does not mean that, in that case, rebuttals are forbidden in the first round. That is the convention, but a plain language interpretation of a debate structured as "Round 1: Arguments; Round 2: Rebuttals, etc." does not imply that only opening arguments may be made in the first round. If people want to exclude rebuttals in the first round, they should explicitly specify that.

What are your thoughts? Should new members be encouraged to emulate others' set-ups or to craft their own? Is laying out a clear, step-by-step structure good, or micromanaging? You get my drift...

I think that conventional set ups are preferable, because they make it easier to read for busy readers. The more structured an argument is, and the more clearly it is formatted, the easier it is to judge. Convoluted debates are hard to judge and judges who read convoluted debates are also likely to get it wrong.

I also like consistency in the font and format throughout the debate. Changing fonts piss me off. Graphs and charts also (normally) piss me off but where a graph is indispensable to prove a point I can understand its inclusion. Text only debates are what I prefer, strongly. In an ideal world, all debates would be written in double spaced times new roman 12 point font... but that's not practical here.

I will say, however, that I have seriously considered penalizing debaters that use audacious formatting on conduct. Debaters often forget that their debates are literally meant to be read. That is their primary purpose. Debaters would be wise to consider that when writing them. We are not all fortunate enough to have endured the educational process to the extent that it perfects our writing ability, but I would like at least a good faith effort from debaters to not write in a convoluted way.

And on that subject, convoluted writing pisses me off. What is convoluted writing? Writing that goes nowhere, begins where it ends, etc. Contentions that are not precisely worded. Broader arguments that overlap multiple contentions, or arguments that are unclear, generally. This is especially problematic with philosophy debates, because kids who write philosophy debts tend to use a lot of jargon (which is unnecessary and often used incorrectly) and they try to emulate philosophers themselves. This is a catastrophically bad idea. Philosophers are HORRIBLE writers, as a general rule.

Sentences should be active not passive. (YYW ran over thett with a car. NOT thett was ran over by a car.)

Sentences should be clear, short and plain. (YYW ran over thett with a car. NOT whereupon thett's ambulating across the street put him in the immediate vicinity of YYW's automobile that was traveling at a speed in considerable excess of the stipulated speed limit, YYW's vehicle struck him with sufficient force to deprive thett of continued living.)

Sentences should clearly communicate meaning. (YYW ran over thett with a car. NOT as it occurred at a specified time and place where I happened to be located across the way I saw someone with whom I was generally familiar strike with a vehicle of some size another person with whom I was generally familiar in a way that I'm certain was more or less illegal.)
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Garbanza
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10/2/2014 8:17:06 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 10/2/2014 2:27:52 PM, bsh1 wrote:
I know that I have a standard, "boiler plate" set-up that begins all of my debates (with slight tweaks contoured to the needs of each debate.) Here is an example of it: [http://www.debate.org...] I've noticed a few people emulating my set-up (shout outs to ArcTimes and Esocial--I'm flattered!) and I think that can be really helpful for new members to do.

Actually, that would be really helpful. Thanks bsh1 I'm going to copy this if you don't mind. :)
bsh1
Posts: 27,504
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10/2/2014 8:20:27 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 10/2/2014 8:17:06 PM, Garbanza wrote:
At 10/2/2014 2:27:52 PM, bsh1 wrote:
I know that I have a standard, "boiler plate" set-up that begins all of my debates (with slight tweaks contoured to the needs of each debate.) Here is an example of it: [http://www.debate.org...] I've noticed a few people emulating my set-up (shout outs to ArcTimes and Esocial--I'm flattered!) and I think that can be really helpful for new members to do.

Actually, that would be really helpful. Thanks bsh1 I'm going to copy this if you don't mind. :)

Lol...sure thing :)
Live Long and Prosper

I'm a Bish.


"Twilight isn't just about obtuse metaphors between cannibalism and premarital sex, it also teaches us the futility of hope." - Raisor

"[Bsh1] is the Guinan of DDO." - ButterCatX

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