Specific question on judging

Author: Tejretics ,

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  • Tejretics
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    Say you’re a debate judge and you come across this situation. 

    The third reason under Con’s second contention in R1 (just as an example) is very strong as an impact and is enough to win Con the debate. However, the rest of Con’s case is terrible and without that reason, Con would lose the debate. Pro drops that reason but tears apart the rest of Con’s case. Con doesn’t bother to extend this third reason of Con’s second contention. 

    On the flow, this reason exists and would win Con the debate. But Con never bothers to mention that Pro dropped this reason. And if this reason didn’t exist, Con would lose the debate. Who would you give the debate to? 

    As a more generic question. To what extent should judges weigh dropped arguments when the other side never brings them back? In which contexts should they be considered debate-winning and in which contexts should they not be? I’d prefer answers from people with formal debate experience, but anyone’s welcome to answer. 


  • bsh1
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    --> @Tejretics
    The failure to extend constitutes a drop. It is possible to drop your own arguments. If you drop it, it ceases to be offense for you, and is unweighable. That is why you should always extend dropped points.

    Pro wins in that situation.
  • whiteflame
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    --> @Tejretics
    I’m not quite as harsh on this as bsh1 is, but our views are similar. Mine is that, if you drop your own argument, you have shown me how little you care about it. I take that into account in how I weigh the point, and given the context you’ve stated here about it being the strongest point by far, this would probably reduce its weight to the point that an argument with far lesser impact could beat it. I do recollect one instance where something like this happened in a round I was judging and resulted in a win for the equivalent of the Con team, though even then, there was light mention of the argument in the final round (I ended up giving them my first and only low speaker point win for that, and my RFD was extensive). As for how much weight to give a point like this, I’d say treat it as though the link story was just thoroughly ravaged. If they can still win like that, then they earn that win, though I think the other side would have to do a terrible job building up their case to make that a reality.
  • Ramshutu
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    --> @Tejretics
    My thinking here - and my PMs are full of people who disagree with me - is that if arguments would have won the debate, and the primary reason to award the win the other way is missing out some debate formality, or detail outside the logic of the argumentation, the arguments mean more.

    I tend to feel that bad arguments should not be raised above good arguments on technicalities - only by warrant. 

    There is something to be said about the failure to extend changing the debate dynamic and how it may have played out : so to be honest there are cases where I would have gone the other way in the case where the good argument is small or throwaway compared to the rest.

    But here it looks like there was a great argument that destroyed the opponent, and the only reason not to award the win seems to be mostly that the team didn’t say “I extend point 3”, to me that doesn’t feel fair.
  • RationalMadman
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    I will tell you a secret: There's always a correct side to a debate but sometimes neither debater is directly representing it.

    The 'vote' that passes as valid is able to be anything but. I don't actually abuse this other than at times when I can prove a point in the most obvious case.

    It's like Ramshutu's debate with Type1 about that "Rm cannot prove X or Y". Ramshutu decides to both use gish gallop and arguing in bad faith that somehow entitle him to then vote against me even when I objectively won. I don't go and do the same to vote against him because frankly I am not into that petty shit. I am into proving the flaw is there in ways that get the mods to see it and sometimes this means voting at times where I know the other will win anyway and honestly it's just a laugh to me. 

    I learned in life that revenge is pointless; even if you completely tortured the person who did something horrific to you, you'd still have just as much difficulty getting over it.

    I don't worry about the people abusing the system, I worry about the system having those flaws. "Hate the game, not the player." is more than a mantra to me and something I had very backwards in my younger days on the Internet and debating sites like DDO. I learned to stop hating the player and start hating the game and trying to fix it or stop bothering with it.

    Debating isn't mumbo-jumbo in its true form. This is a form where average humans of equally 'fabulous' intellect control who wins and loses one of the single most pure-intelligence based sports in existence. There is no point trying to ask 'what passes as valid'. In truth both you saying the third argument is stronger will pass and the one arguing 'tit for tat' and adding up points also will pass. There is no 'objective weighting' that is easy to explain... You kind of have to be that intelligent to grasp it (you literally can't put it into words, it's raw truth that only the highly intelligent can grasp).

    Debate voting doesn't run on pure logic. After all, it's a sport and not a science...
  • bsh1
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    --> @Ramshutu
    if arguments would have won the debate, and the primary reason to award the win the other way is missing out some debate formality, or detail outside the logic of the argumentation, the arguments mean more.

    As you know, this is precisely the kind of interventionist judging I strongly object to. While I do not wish to rehash that debate, I feel far too strongly about this not to raise an objection. This is a bad voting paradigm.

    Debaters have an equal opportunity to control the flow of the debate. If one debater loses control of the flow, that's on them. The judge should not simply ignore the debate as it actually unfurled and vote on an argument which, if the flow had gone differently, would've won the debate for the losing debater. That judge's RFD will not reflect the actual debate, but instead the judge's fantasy of how the debate transpired. There is the debate as it actually happened, and then there is the mirage the voter has conjured to align with what they believe ought to have happened.

    Voting up debaters based on dropped arguments is denying the reality of the flow of the debate in order to assert some falsehood about how the round transpired ("it was so good I should just ignore that it was dropped"--the "ignore" here is the reshaping of reality, the lie by omission).

    Moreover, this mirage-based voting fails to account for the fact that debate is not just (or even primarily) about arguments. As a dynamic and competitive event, it is also about strategy, execution, sportsmanship, and gamesmanship. To vote based on argument quality alone is to flatten the activity to a single dimension and to thus diminish the activity itself. Debate is such a rich event that it is appalling to me that it might be oversimplified in this way.

    Suppose, for example, that I faced an opponent with an argument I could not figure out how to beat. Instead of trying to beat it (which I believe would suck up too much character space or research time), I make a strategic decision to focus on destroying every other part of my opponents case in the hopes that I can cause him to drop his own argument. If my opponent drops the argument, but the judge gives them the win anyway on the basis of that argument, the judge is essentially saying that strategic choices do not matter, and thus flattens that debate to a single dimension: argument. 

    It also irks me deeply that you're only considering fairness from a single point of view. Is it fair to deny a win to a debater who successfully out-strategized an opponent, or who did a better job at controlling the debate? Yes, it seems superficially bothersome to deny a loss to someone on the basis of them not extending an argument, but arguably it was their job to do so. That's what debating is! If you put out arguments, defend them and extend them. Your job as a debater is not to rest on your laurels, but to play the game. On a deeper level then, what you're saying is that it is "unfair" to award losses to debaters who failed to do their jobs, who are lazy or inept or careless or arrogant or erred, etc. Isn't it at least as unfair to the other debater, who controlled the course of the debate better, to award them the loss in spite of the fact that they controlled the course of the debate better?

    Your position makes zero sense to me. It's harmfully meddlesome and damaging to the activity, with little to no upside at all. 
  • RationalMadman
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    --> @bsh1
    Ramshutu is one of the LONG TERM worst debate voters on the site (since he's the longest track record by far) yet you made him assistant vote mod and allow some of the most 'loaded reasoning for voting' I have ever seen anyone ever use.
  • bsh1
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    --> @RationalMadman
    Ram is not a bad voter; he is precisely the opposite: an excellent, dedicated voter who cares about ensuring that his votes are fair and well-reasoned.

    There are legitimate disagreements to be had about what the ideal judging paradigm is. That two people disagree, even vehemently and vociferously, about those paradigms is not cause to label one or the other a bad voter. Rather, disagreement in paradigms is largely a subjective issue which should be left to the individual voters to decide for themselves. My disagreement with Ram is thus on a voter-to-voter basis, not on a moderator-to-voter basis.

    More than that, however, is the fact that there are strong arguments to be made against my position; while I personally do not believe in those reasons (and passionately reject them), I recognize that people can legitimately and reasonably hold opposing views. It's like a "Democrat" or "Republican" thing; if anything, having Ram on our moderation team adds a beneficial diversity of perspectives and representation to voting moderation.

    Ultimately, the only objective marks of a good voter are that they take the time to understand what transpired in the debate, avoid prejudging the debate, arrive at their decision conscientiously, and explain their decision thoroughly. In my view, Ram is an objectively excellent voter, and he is certainly one of the better voters on this site as whole. There are few voters here I would praise more highly.

    Beyond that, however, judging paradigms are not related to vote moderation. You could have the worst paradigm on earth and still make a good voting moderator so long as you applied the rules in the COC as they are written. Ram is certainly doing that, and I have no objections to or reservations in his performance as a vote moderator whatsoever. I have full confidence in him to continue to perform capably and fairly.
  • Ramshutu
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    --> @bsh1
    Not everyone will agree with me, and that’s fair. I never had a background in formal debate; more public speech and political and philosophical discussion - which tends to be what informs the things I value most of my analysis. 

    I’m not a game theorist judge : for me, making a better, more logical argument, with better reasoning and more warrant counts for more than saying the correct phrases at the right time in the debate; if you raise a cast iron case that is unchallengeable, I’m not going to award your opponent points if you miss something.. While you feel able to justify using something other than the strength of arguments to judge a debate - I’m not: especially somewhere like here.

    In reality discounting a good argument based on a technicality is just as much of an intervention as the reverse. That being said, as I pointed out, I do consider the flow, and how a debate pans out: and was explicit to say that I can go the other way based on the debate dynamic and it’s changes. 

    Its a tough call: but debate is about the exchange of arguments, logic and reason; that’s what I feel debates should be awarded on. I have yet to see anyone provide any sort of compelling reason why a great argument should lose out because one side forgets to say “I extend”.



  • bsh1
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    --> @Ramshutu
    While you feel able to justify using something other than the strength of arguments to judge a debate - I’m not: especially somewhere like here. 
    The precise opposite of your claim seems closer to the truth. It is important to see debate as more than just about arguments--especially somewhere like here--because this site establishes debate as competition. That there are time limits, character limits, rules of fair play ("fair play" implying a game), votes, winners, losers, ELO, leaderboards, tournaments, etc. all function to establish debate as primarily a competitive exercise more so than an argumentative one. As such, debate is about more than arguments. As I said before: "As a dynamic and competitive event, it is also about strategy, execution, sportsmanship, and gamesmanship."

    In reality discounting a good argument based on a technicality is just as much of an intervention as the reverse.
    Not really, if the technicality actually played out and the good argument faded away. Importantly, you're erroneously using "technicality" here as a pejorative to describe something far more consequential. What is really at stake here isn't "technicalities," but rather the flow or argumentation. By dismissing alleged technicalities, which are actually really turning points in the flow/course of the debate, you are permitting yourself to reconstruct the debate as it never happened, and would therefore be voting on a falsehood.

    that being said, as I pointed out, I do consider the flow, and how a debate pans out
    That's good (IMO).

    Not everyone will agree with me, and that’s fair. I never had a background in formal debate; more public speech and political and philosophical discussion - which tends to be what informs the things I value most of my analysis. 
    Agreed, as I noted in post 8. And, of course, different traditions will yield different viewpoints, and that adds a useful diversity to the site. But, that is of course not to begrudge voters the right to contest those viewpoints in the forums ;)
  • RationalMadman
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    --> @bsh1
    He's a terrible voter, I can prove it to you of you'll stay true to your reply to him and not turncoat instantly like you just did.