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A Rant / Question about Judges

debatability
Posts: 1,160
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10/13/2015 1:56:18 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
Most of you who know me know that I am very involved in formal debate. I recently attended my first tournament of the year with my partner and did quite poorly which is unusual and kind of a let down. I'm not too bent out of shape; there are many more tournaments to go. The only thing that bothers me is that the Public Forum judges in Oklahoma are pretty sucky.

There were only three preliminary rounds at the tournament I attended, which was a little odd, and my opponent and I got a bye. We literally only had to win one round to break. We thought we were 3-0, but it turns out we were 1-2. That's pretty depressing, I know. I'm pretty bad in that I resort to judge blaming when I lose, but the two rounds I competed in were rounds that I was particularly sure were victories. Public Forum has a lot of lay judges, and since it is a new event in Oklahoma, many judges come in with LD and CX biases as that was the event of their choosing.

I've had this discussion with a few members on this site, and I feel that many people tend to blame the debater in all situations for a loss, which I believe is viable. However, often times these same people openly speak against bad voting on DDO. At times, I almost feel like the voting on DDO is better than formal debate.

When it comes to formal debate.. Yes, good judges exist, but luck plays a huge factor in whether or not you will get one. Whereas, if I want my DDO debate to be judged well, I can seek people out or set criteria. I have a few questions for those viewing the thread.

Have you ever been involved in formal debate?
How did you feel about the judging?
In an "unfair" loss, who is to blame? The debater or the judge.
-I made a thread with specific scenarios once in which debaters lost due to judge misinterpretations. I won't go into such details, but I want to hear thoughts on where the blame lies when it comes to losses debaters believe are undeserved.
Zaradi
Posts: 14,127
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10/13/2015 2:13:20 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
Addendum to your first paragraph: PF judges in general suck. Not just in Oklahoma.

That being said, in 99.999.... percent of cases of bad judging, there's usually something the debater could've done to make the round easier on the judge.
Want to debate? Pick a topic and hit me up! - http://www.debate.org...
whiteflame
Posts: 1,378
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10/13/2015 2:24:51 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/13/2015 1:56:18 PM, debatability wrote:
Most of you who know me know that I am very involved in formal debate. I recently attended my first tournament of the year with my partner and did quite poorly which is unusual and kind of a let down. I'm not too bent out of shape; there are many more tournaments to go. The only thing that bothers me is that the Public Forum judges in Oklahoma are pretty sucky.

There were only three preliminary rounds at the tournament I attended, which was a little odd, and my opponent and I got a bye. We literally only had to win one round to break. We thought we were 3-0, but it turns out we were 1-2. That's pretty depressing, I know. I'm pretty bad in that I resort to judge blaming when I lose, but the two rounds I competed in were rounds that I was particularly sure were victories. Public Forum has a lot of lay judges, and since it is a new event in Oklahoma, many judges come in with LD and CX biases as that was the event of their choosing.

I've had this discussion with a few members on this site, and I feel that many people tend to blame the debater in all situations for a loss, which I believe is viable. However, often times these same people openly speak against bad voting on DDO. At times, I almost feel like the voting on DDO is better than formal debate.

When it comes to formal debate.. Yes, good judges exist, but luck plays a huge factor in whether or not you will get one. Whereas, if I want my DDO debate to be judged well, I can seek people out or set criteria. I have a few questions for those viewing the thread.

Have you ever been involved in formal debate?
How did you feel about the judging?
In an "unfair" loss, who is to blame? The debater or the judge.
-I made a thread with specific scenarios once in which debaters lost due to judge misinterpretations. I won't go into such details, but I want to hear thoughts on where the blame lies when it comes to losses debaters believe are undeserved.

1. Yes.

2. It varied. There's a variety of judges for NPDA, and they range from extremely experienced to parents of other debaters.

3. Bit of both, usually. There are certainly some instances in which the debater is entirely to blame and some where the judge is entirely to blame, but many fall into the valley between. If you want examples of the latter, though, I could point you to a national tournament round where a judge told us that he basically signed his ballot before anyone even opened their mouths, and another round where the judge said that he agreed with everything we said (pretty much turns on every argument our opponents made) and still voted for them for incomprehensible reasons.

Still, I'd say that these kinds of situations are in the minority. Most often, it helps to get some sort of judging paradigm if you can and work with it in your speaking. Sometimes that's difficult, and especially if you have more than one judge in a round, it can be nearly impossible to satisfy everyone if they're all looking for different things. Still, it can help a lot to know what to steer clear of in your debating.
debatability
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10/13/2015 3:07:58 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/13/2015 2:13:20 PM, Zaradi wrote:
Addendum to your first paragraph: PF judges in general suck. Not just in Oklahoma.

That being said, in 99.999.... percent of cases of bad judging, there's usually something the debater could've done to make the round easier on the judge.

I agree with that statement 100%. Debaters always have room for improvement. However, if my opponent was objectively worse than me, do I deserve a loss?
Yonko
Posts: 227
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10/13/2015 3:18:06 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/13/2015 2:13:20 PM, Zaradi wrote:
in 99.999.... percent of cases of bad judging, there's usually something the debater could've done to make the round easier on the judge.

*cough*
debatability
Posts: 1,160
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10/13/2015 3:24:04 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/13/2015 2:24:51 PM, whiteflame wrote:
At 10/13/2015 1:56:18 PM, debatability wrote:

1. Yes.

2. It varied. There's a variety of judges for NPDA, and they range from extremely experienced to parents of other debaters.

3. Bit of both, usually. There are certainly some instances in which the debater is entirely to blame and some where the judge is entirely to blame, but many fall into the valley between. If you want examples of the latter, though, I could point you to a national tournament round where a judge told us that he basically signed his ballot before anyone even opened their mouths, and another round where the judge said that he agreed with everything we said (pretty much turns on every argument our opponents made) and still voted for them for incomprehensible reasons.

I had a similar experience at my national qualifier tournament, but looking back I think there were a lot of things I could have improved upon.

When it comes to losses, I have run into a lot of situations in which my partner and I have talked to our opponents post competition and found that our opponents believe they should have lost. It's a discouraging experience when a team that my partner and I have defeated multiple times moves on and wins a competition.


Still, I'd say that these kinds of situations are in the minority. Most often, it helps to get some sort of judging paradigm if you can and work with it in your speaking. Sometimes that's difficult, and especially if you have more than one judge in a round, it can be nearly impossible to satisfy everyone if they're all looking for different things. Still, it can help a lot to know what to steer clear of in your debating.

The problem is that it's really hard to even know what the judge's paradigm is going in. I've never really heard of anyone asking, but maybe that is more common in other locations.

In public forum, a lot of judges come in with LD background and provide a very philosophical outlook that isn't really suitable for the event.
Raisor
Posts: 4,462
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10/13/2015 3:49:53 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
First, have you ever judged a round? If not, judge some practice rounds for your team, write real rfds and give real critiques. Judging on DDO certainly helps a lot but you need to see how your event looks from the other side of he table.

Second, you are right in many ways. I've sat on panels where two judges vehemently disagree with the third or where I was almost angry at the RFD of other judges. Sometimes you get shafted, that's an exception though and you just have to roll with it.

Third, ask for judge prefs. What about he two "problem" judges you had could you have used to change your round into a win? Specifically in each case can you see how different arguments or styles would have been more effective? You just have to learn judge adaptation, which is not an easy thing.

The "blame yourself not the judge" rule is more a mental approach getting better than a reflection of reality. You have to start with that frame of mind to figure out how to improve. Blaming the judge is unproductive and as a debater you don't have the vantage point to know if it's justified.

Also mommy judges gonna be mommy judges.
whiteflame
Posts: 1,378
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10/13/2015 3:51:44 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/13/2015 3:24:04 PM, debatability wrote:
At 10/13/2015 2:24:51 PM, whiteflame wrote:
At 10/13/2015 1:56:18 PM, debatability wrote:

1. Yes.

2. It varied. There's a variety of judges for NPDA, and they range from extremely experienced to parents of other debaters.

3. Bit of both, usually. There are certainly some instances in which the debater is entirely to blame and some where the judge is entirely to blame, but many fall into the valley between. If you want examples of the latter, though, I could point you to a national tournament round where a judge told us that he basically signed his ballot before anyone even opened their mouths, and another round where the judge said that he agreed with everything we said (pretty much turns on every argument our opponents made) and still voted for them for incomprehensible reasons.

I had a similar experience at my national qualifier tournament, but looking back I think there were a lot of things I could have improved upon.

When it comes to losses, I have run into a lot of situations in which my partner and I have talked to our opponents post competition and found that our opponents believe they should have lost. It's a discouraging experience when a team that my partner and I have defeated multiple times moves on and wins a competition.

You're not alone in that. We've run into the same issue. We had a break round at a major national tournament (British Parliamentary) where we walked out of the room and practically every team agreed that we were top in the round. We were even being judged by a former national champion. Then the decision came down and... well, it was utterly dismal. It made absolutely no sense and gave what was clearly the bottom team in the round the win. It's not the first time that's happened, and frankly, I don't think there's anything we could have done to change it.

Still, I'd say that these kinds of situations are in the minority. Most often, it helps to get some sort of judging paradigm if you can and work with it in your speaking. Sometimes that's difficult, and especially if you have more than one judge in a round, it can be nearly impossible to satisfy everyone if they're all looking for different things. Still, it can help a lot to know what to steer clear of in your debating.

The problem is that it's really hard to even know what the judge's paradigm is going in. I've never really heard of anyone asking, but maybe that is more common in other locations.

In public forum, a lot of judges come in with LD background and provide a very philosophical outlook that isn't really suitable for the event.

Depends on the type of debate tournament. I don't know what it's like in PoFo, but in Parli, there's either a very large list of judging paradigms or they're willing to tell them to you if you ask at the start of the round.

And yeah, that happens. People coming from other debate backgrounds look for different things. I'm sure some debaters have been frustrated with my LD judging, though I try to shift into that mindset when I do.
bluesteel
Posts: 12,301
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10/13/2015 4:54:12 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/13/2015 1:56:18 PM, debatability wrote:
Most of you who know me know that I am very involved in formal debate. I recently attended my first tournament of the year with my partner and did quite poorly which is unusual and kind of a let down. I'm not too bent out of shape; there are many more tournaments to go. The only thing that bothers me is that the Public Forum judges in Oklahoma are pretty sucky.

There were only three preliminary rounds at the tournament I attended, which was a little odd, and my opponent and I got a bye. We literally only had to win one round to break. We thought we were 3-0, but it turns out we were 1-2. That's pretty depressing, I know. I'm pretty bad in that I resort to judge blaming when I lose, but the two rounds I competed in were rounds that I was particularly sure were victories. Public Forum has a lot of lay judges, and since it is a new event in Oklahoma, many judges come in with LD and CX biases as that was the event of their choosing.

I've had this discussion with a few members on this site, and I feel that many people tend to blame the debater in all situations for a loss, which I believe is viable. However, often times these same people openly speak against bad voting on DDO. At times, I almost feel like the voting on DDO is better than formal debate.

When it comes to formal debate.. Yes, good judges exist, but luck plays a huge factor in whether or not you will get one. Whereas, if I want my DDO debate to be judged well, I can seek people out or set criteria. I have a few questions for those viewing the thread.

Have you ever been involved in formal debate?
How did you feel about the judging?
In an "unfair" loss, who is to blame? The debater or the judge.
-I made a thread with specific scenarios once in which debaters lost due to judge misinterpretations. I won't go into such details, but I want to hear thoughts on where the blame lies when it comes to losses debaters believe are undeserved.

We've discussed my views on judges and judge blaming before... PM me if you want to post mortem the tournament...
You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into - Jonathan Swift (paraphrase)
Zaradi
Posts: 14,127
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10/13/2015 5:29:24 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/13/2015 3:07:58 PM, debatability wrote:
At 10/13/2015 2:13:20 PM, Zaradi wrote:
Addendum to your first paragraph: PF judges in general suck. Not just in Oklahoma.

That being said, in 99.999.... percent of cases of bad judging, there's usually something the debater could've done to make the round easier on the judge.

I agree with that statement 100%. Debaters always have room for improvement. However, if my opponent was objectively worse than me, do I deserve a loss?

No such thing as objectively worse. I may be better at understanding and explaining kritikal literature and incorporating it into debate cases compared to someone like, say, bsh1. But he's a far better persuasive speaker than I am and better appeals to a wider range of audiences than I do. It's understanding what your judge is looking for (which is admittedly challenging at times) and appealing directly to that that's important.
Want to debate? Pick a topic and hit me up! - http://www.debate.org...