Total Posts:19|Showing Posts:1-19
Jump to topic:

General Comments on Debating

tejretics
Posts: 6,869
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
2/18/2017 1:59:33 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
Until around 8 months ago, I used to judge debates frequently. Being a freshman in high school is difficult, so I simply can't dedicate the time to judge as many debates anymore.

In the debates I've judged, I've noticed some common mistakes debaters make--mistakes I am equally guilty of--even among the best. Based on that, here are the things I think debaters on DDO should remember when writing a case.

1. Structure

A. Constructives

Structure is important. Judges should be able to distinguish arguments from each other. They must know *what* you're arguing, and what you're rebutting. Merely skimming the argument should give a judge the *general* idea (though a judge who merely skims an argument without reading it entirely is probably incompetent). Don't write huge walls of text. Divide your content into paragraphs. Bold/italicize/underline your headings. The point of structure is to "hold the judge's hand." It's to make the matter simple for the judge.

Stream-of-consciousness debates are irritating for reasonable judges. Structure your arguments very clearly. Use headings, subheadings, etc. Provide a roadmap of what you're going to argue; signpost at various points in the debate. Your argument structure should have a claim (i.e. the assertion you're making), the warrant (i.e. why the claim is true), and the impact (i.e. how the claim relates to the resolution, and why that's a reason to vote for your side). Without explaining those things in that structure, clarity is lost. If you're making a policy argument on "harms" or "advantages," don't make an unstructured numbered list. Use subheadings. Before those, signpost (i.e. tell the judge what the subheading is).

Include a summary at the end, and explain how, at the bottom, your arguments fulfill your BOP and the judge should vote for you. To summarize, I will quote YYW: "Give me the rundown of what your arguments are; then flesh them out; and then sum it up."

B. Rebuttal

Structure your rebuttal efficiently. Don't necessarily use the headlines of the contentions. Group arguments together if they're related. Basically, pick out the key issues or areas of clash in the debate, and flesh them out.

Signpost. Identify clearly which point you are rebutting. Tell the judge which part of the argument you are rebutting. Flesh the rebuttal out. Explain how the argument lost at the end of each rebuttal. Through the debate if there are a few main areas of disagreement (i.e. themes), separate those themes out.

2. Writing Style

Debate arguments require good writing skill. You need to explain your points clearly and meaningfully. A reasonably (though not exceptionally) intelligent person needs to be objectively persuaded by you.

I will quote YYW's advice here. To write a proper argument, you must: "(1) use plain language (read: do not use jargon), (2) write with short sentences, (3) paraphrase clearly and simply, (4) structure your debate logically, (5) use good transition words, (6) exclude irrelevant nonsense (read: do not include arguments that do not impact the resolution), (7) clearly connect every premise you have to the resolution to show impact."

You're not going to get this on the first try. Edit your arguments. Omit words that don't advance your point. Change the structure and make it logical. Exclude anything that doesn't impact the resolution or your persuasive ability. Many debaters overuse certain phrases that make it irritating for the judge. Basically, make your point concisely.

CONCLUSION:

Debaters make mistakes frequently. I'm no exception. I have noticed these two mistakes frequently among DDO's debaters. Debaters should be conscious of these problems.
Just because you're magic doesn't mean you aren't real.
FourTrouble
Posts: 16,245
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
2/18/2017 10:18:01 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
Donald Trump's success disproves a lot of these ideas.
If you'd like a vote on your debate, please send me a link. I'll do my best to offer a sufficient RFD in your favor.

Also: If you'd like to vote bomb a debate and need help crafting a sufficient RFD, let me know.
bsh1
Posts: 28,555
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
2/18/2017 10:24:54 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
Tej, I think this is all excellent advice for people interested in formal debating, particularly in debating on DDO and in IRL leagues. All speeches need a structure, so that you, your opponent, and you judge(s) can all follow along with what's happening. For people in IRL debates, make sure that when you give a roadmap (a preview of the order in which you will address issues in the debate) that you conform to that roadmap.

I will say that I find conclusions to be less important in constructives than I do in later speeches. If your constructive is well structured and explained, it should be obvious how all arguments interrelated and link into your framework. In later rounds, summary becomes more important, because the debate has grown more complex, with more layers of arguments. Summary thus helps make things clearer for all involved. You want to use that summary to explain what the key arguments are, why they are the key arguments (i.e. why they weigh most heavily under whatever framework is being used), and why you are winning those arguments.
I'm a Bish.
Hayd
Posts: 4,407
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
2/18/2017 10:29:40 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
This is a great post. The point about the clarity of the writing is especially important. The more clear and simple a debater's writer/logic, the better they are. Judges evaluate debates based off of impact. The clearer your impacts are the easier it is for the judges to understand what you are saying, and accept the impacts you are providing. Improving the presentation of your ideas and logic so that it is extremely easy to understand is the single most important thing a debater can do to get better.

I'd also add that knowledge of logical fallacies is essential in rebutting an opponent's arguments. I've used them in every debate I've done, to some extent.
YYW
Posts: 44,679
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
2/18/2017 10:40:35 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 2/18/2017 10:18:01 PM, FourTrouble wrote:
Donald Trump's success disproves a lot of these ideas.

A lot of Americans are really too stupid to function, let alone think clear and coherent thoughts.

This thread is very good.
YYW
Posts: 44,679
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
2/18/2017 10:43:19 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
I'll add that I hate reading stream of consciousness debates, because they are often idiotically written, poorly articulated, and generally tend to be written by terrible debaters.

I'll further add, as an aside, that there are a lot of horrible judges out there and the importance of structuring your debate well is to make sure that even the stupidest judge understands what you said, what your opponent said that was wrong, and why you won.
FourTrouble
Posts: 16,245
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
2/18/2017 10:51:24 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 2/18/2017 10:40:35 PM, YYW wrote:
At 2/18/2017 10:18:01 PM, FourTrouble wrote:
Donald Trump's success disproves a lot of these ideas.

A lot of Americans are really too stupid to function, let alone think clear and coherent thoughts.

The only advice that matters is paying attention to your audience. If the audience is too stupid to function, let your arguments reflect that.
If you'd like a vote on your debate, please send me a link. I'll do my best to offer a sufficient RFD in your favor.

Also: If you'd like to vote bomb a debate and need help crafting a sufficient RFD, let me know.
FourTrouble
Posts: 16,245
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
2/18/2017 10:52:48 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
If your goal is to convince folks like YYW, this is great advice. But if your goal is to convince America generally, it falls woefully short.
If you'd like a vote on your debate, please send me a link. I'll do my best to offer a sufficient RFD in your favor.

Also: If you'd like to vote bomb a debate and need help crafting a sufficient RFD, let me know.
YYW
Posts: 44,679
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
2/18/2017 10:54:15 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 2/18/2017 10:51:24 PM, FourTrouble wrote:
At 2/18/2017 10:40:35 PM, YYW wrote:
At 2/18/2017 10:18:01 PM, FourTrouble wrote:
Donald Trump's success disproves a lot of these ideas.

A lot of Americans are really too stupid to function, let alone think clear and coherent thoughts.

The only advice that matters is paying attention to your audience. If the audience is too stupid to function, let your arguments reflect that.

I think Tej's point here was about debating on the site.

An entirely different strategy is required when trying to persuade voters in, for example, a presidential election.
FourTrouble
Posts: 16,245
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
2/18/2017 10:54:16 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 2/18/2017 10:43:19 PM, YYW wrote:
I'll add that I hate reading stream of consciousness debates, because they are often idiotically written, poorly articulated, and generally tend to be written by terrible debaters.

Nah, us stream of consciousness folks are just on a higher level, one you haven't quite understood yet. Again, I direct you to Trump as a prime example.
If you'd like a vote on your debate, please send me a link. I'll do my best to offer a sufficient RFD in your favor.

Also: If you'd like to vote bomb a debate and need help crafting a sufficient RFD, let me know.
YYW
Posts: 44,679
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
2/18/2017 10:54:33 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 2/18/2017 10:54:16 PM, FourTrouble wrote:
At 2/18/2017 10:43:19 PM, YYW wrote:
I'll add that I hate reading stream of consciousness debates, because they are often idiotically written, poorly articulated, and generally tend to be written by terrible debaters.

Nah, us stream of consciousness folks are just on a higher level, one you haven't quite understood yet. Again, I direct you to Trump as a prime example.

lol that is absolutely wrong
FourTrouble
Posts: 16,245
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
2/18/2017 10:54:47 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 2/18/2017 10:54:15 PM, YYW wrote:
At 2/18/2017 10:51:24 PM, FourTrouble wrote:
At 2/18/2017 10:40:35 PM, YYW wrote:
At 2/18/2017 10:18:01 PM, FourTrouble wrote:
Donald Trump's success disproves a lot of these ideas.

A lot of Americans are really too stupid to function, let alone think clear and coherent thoughts.

The only advice that matters is paying attention to your audience. If the audience is too stupid to function, let your arguments reflect that.

I think Tej's point here was about debating on the site.

An entirely different strategy is required when trying to persuade voters in, for example, a presidential election.

Yeah, I know. I'm partly trolling, obviously.
If you'd like a vote on your debate, please send me a link. I'll do my best to offer a sufficient RFD in your favor.

Also: If you'd like to vote bomb a debate and need help crafting a sufficient RFD, let me know.
YYW
Posts: 44,679
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
2/18/2017 10:56:26 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 2/18/2017 10:54:47 PM, FourTrouble wrote:
At 2/18/2017 10:54:15 PM, YYW wrote:
At 2/18/2017 10:51:24 PM, FourTrouble wrote:
At 2/18/2017 10:40:35 PM, YYW wrote:
At 2/18/2017 10:18:01 PM, FourTrouble wrote:
Donald Trump's success disproves a lot of these ideas.

A lot of Americans are really too stupid to function, let alone think clear and coherent thoughts.

The only advice that matters is paying attention to your audience. If the audience is too stupid to function, let your arguments reflect that.

I think Tej's point here was about debating on the site.

An entirely different strategy is required when trying to persuade voters in, for example, a presidential election.

Yeah, I know. I'm partly trolling, obviously.

Eh.... we're on a site with a lot of impressionable people (namely kids) who don't really know how to think much less how to write. They may be induced to believe that, for example, stream of consciousness bullsh!t from Breitbart and Alex Jones constitutes good debate. That is a risk that must be inoculated against.
FourTrouble
Posts: 16,245
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
2/18/2017 11:05:07 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
I'll add a few notes:

1) As a judge, I don't want to check your sources. So cite credible sources. And use them effectively. Don't do what Zaradi do. When you quote, probably better if you don't use ellipses, because they make me think you're manipulating the text. Paraphrase if the idea is too long to quote directly. Or quote the key point. This is more important that debaters realize. I've seen debaters win/lose a debate through bad use of authority.

2) Two stylistic points to make your writing have more an effect on the reader. First, put the most important information at the end of a sentence. Linguists have done studies showing that readers remember that last information in a sentence the most. You want your readers to remember important information. So put that stuff last. Second, use topic sentences to orient the reader as to what you're talking about in each paragraph. This ties in with "structure." Structure applies at every level of your argument. How you divide the debate into sections, the headers you use, but also how you structure each paragraph, even each sentence. These things matter.
If you'd like a vote on your debate, please send me a link. I'll do my best to offer a sufficient RFD in your favor.

Also: If you'd like to vote bomb a debate and need help crafting a sufficient RFD, let me know.
FourTrouble
Posts: 16,245
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
2/18/2017 11:09:37 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 2/18/2017 11:05:07 PM, FourTrouble wrote:
1) As a judge, I don't want to check your sources. So cite credible sources. And use them effectively. Don't do what Zaradi do. When you quote, probably better if you don't use ellipses, because they make me think you're manipulating the text. Paraphrase if the idea is too long to quote directly. Or quote the key point. This is more important that debaters realize. I've seen debaters win/lose a debate through bad use of authority.

Don't ever misrepresent your sources. In general, don't lie. Don't use sources that hurt you more than help (i.e. maybe the study has a single point that helps, but in general destroys your case -- don't use that).

If you're going to use something like tinyurl to shorten citations, tell me in the text of your debate what your source is. If I don't know what you're citing, I'm going to check, and if I'm checking all your sources, I'm going to hate you. Don't make me hate you.
If you'd like a vote on your debate, please send me a link. I'll do my best to offer a sufficient RFD in your favor.

Also: If you'd like to vote bomb a debate and need help crafting a sufficient RFD, let me know.
FourTrouble
Posts: 16,245
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
2/18/2017 11:10:44 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
Also, I disagree with YYW about using "short" sentences. Fvck short sentences. Those things suck.
If you'd like a vote on your debate, please send me a link. I'll do my best to offer a sufficient RFD in your favor.

Also: If you'd like to vote bomb a debate and need help crafting a sufficient RFD, let me know.
YYW
Posts: 44,679
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
2/18/2017 11:15:38 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 2/18/2017 11:10:44 PM, FourTrouble wrote:
Also, I disagree with YYW about using "short" sentences. Fvck short sentences. Those things suck.

lol
NothingSpecial99
Posts: 794
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
2/18/2017 11:49:16 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 2/18/2017 10:18:01 PM, FourTrouble wrote:
Donald Trump's success disproves a lot of these ideas.

https://cdn.meme.am...=
Check your facts, not your privilege -- Christina Hoff Sommers

Trigger warning!! Trigger warning!! This is Ben Shapiro Thug Life. Trigger warning!! The Thug Life chose me. -- Ben Shapiro

By using this site, you agree to our Privacy Policy and our Terms of Use.