1. Debaters handing judges their computer to type in emails.
Yuck. No thanks. Not really a time saver. Don't know where your computer has been. Most judges have this information in their philosophies now. Just copy and paste it.
2. Pausing the debate for marked cards.
A few things are going on. One, people are reasonable at declaring marks, but don't actually mark anything in the speech. That is bad. Two, other team always says "can we get the marks?" no matter what. Never impacts cross-x, seldom comes up speeches.
I feel like this is a classic debate copycat thing like asking "Is anyone not ready?" Debaters don't care about the marks, but hey I have legitimate grounds to say it so why not?
The remedy is that the prep timer should keep running for the team that marked cards. They should do it in the speech so all they have to do is save and resend instead of this thing where all the marks happen when the clock is not running. Ultimately it is the fault of the team with the marks, but the opponents demanding marks and it never mattering is annoying.
3. Three advantages in the 1AC is optimal
One plus framing is terrible (more on that later). Three stems is harder for the NEG to deal with than two even if two advantages may end up with more terminal impacts from time to time. I don't have a very comprehensive reason for this, but think it is right.
4. Critical Affs with terminal impacts
No good. Policies being ableist is a good enough reason to reject them. You don't need to solve broader ableism or say Islamophobia justifies genocide. These structures are bad. Eliminating a policy that is an example of those bad structures doesn't get rid of the structures. None of these Affs institutes a mechanism that could cause broad structural change. But it is ok because these impacts claims are unnecessary! The policy is bad enough in its own right.
5. Open Source is Good
The MBA tournament does a tournament wide Dropbox that collects and shares all the documents at the tournament. This is a cool feature that is obviously difficult to achieve at larger tournaments with less minions running around.
It is very hard to emphasize enough how different high school debate could be with better wiki practices. A baseline would be having people get closer to having entries for each of their debates. High school falls woefully short of this standard.
The next thing is that people only post 1AC and 1NC's. This combined with people posting only cites leads to very shallow understanding before tournaments and debates. I have never found the pro-cites argument that compelling because you are free to look up people's open source card and googling article titles doesn't reall teach you that much about doing searches. Reading articles and figuring out what words people use does which open source facilitates.
Let's breakdown this cites only thing more and why it is not as good as open source:
a. Forcing other people to look up the original is none of your business, it is their problem if they are depriving themselves the debate training associated with going through the motions.
b. Round reports solve figuring out rounds at a glance. Or you could do open source and cites.
c. People stealing cards is outweighed by other consideratons. Why post cites at all? Transparency is a thing, just a question of degree. Open source improves equity because the schools that benefit disproportionately are the ones with less resources, AND this is actually a mechanism by which people are incentivized to stay on the bleeding edge because arguments depreciate faster so you have to do more work to have an advantage.
But what posting cites does do, especially in high school, is create a transaction cost that prevents people from engaging with evidence at all and being ignorant of the depth of a given a position. The result is people take everything at face value and only focus on the tags of arguments. This is obviously a terrible result.
So people should stop being scared and do open source. It will make debate so much better.
6. Framing pages are still bad
Over the last two years many high school squads have decided to read 1AC's that contain framing pages. I do not think I have seen one of these be the most strategic way to deploy a given Aff over that time. Let's go through it.
One claim forwarded on these pages is util bad. This is always quickly abandoned when forwarded. I wouldn't say this argument is super popular, but everytime it comes up it is jettisoned very fast.
A second kind of claim is about probability. This generally is supported by evidence relating to cognitive biases and decision making. One main issue with this style of argument is that while DA's might link more the Aff probably links sufficiently. Imperfect information, an uncertain future and policymaking always make for a problematiccombination. These cards are usually broad enough to indict the fallibility of decision making in general, not just "DA logic."
A second issue is that these considerations usually beg the question of the DA proper. The link to the DA might be pretty intrinsic, or r the subsequent debating might make the DA risk high. In either case this bias argument is too conditional to put in a 1AC.
The third issue is it tradesoff with a better class of argument. The big idea behind a claim like this revolves around threat exaggeration. But the main issue with threat construction and immigration policy is not the conjunctive fallacy. It is other stuff. But no on reads cards about the media, or people profiting off alarmism or ideology. They just read this damn conjunctive fallacy stuff and it always sucks.
A third claim is no war or something. This has always been a not great argument, but I can't believe people claim this after 2016. Don't know if you are aware but Trump is president and has released like a million policy documents about why great power competition with Russia and China is a big deal. Also, surprisingly, the NEG can read not war impacts as a DA impact. Also when your Aff impacts at best tens of thousands of people the Neg doesn't have to necessarily get to a war that involves Russia, China and the US nuking each other to outweigh. 175k people died in Iraq since 2003.
Affs should be doing two things mainly:
1. Describe a logic of policy making that informs/shapes/led to the policy you are getting rid of and say we need new frames of understanding. Neolib, security, racism. . .whatever. Say justificatons matter. Say this logic leads to threat exaggeration in x, y, z, way. That means the DA is suspect for hopefully more empirical reasons + CP's are worse because their justifications are all wrong ( but not omg you have a net benefit ergo you link to our nonexistent 1AC K).
Example---lots of law reviews write this kind of stuff with respect to equal protection cases---can’t justify originally racist policies by retroactively making up justifications. This can sort of be deployed as an AFF intrinsicness argument. For instance if an AFF gets rid of a racist inadmissibility standard, and the NEG says doing that would increase the population, this type of claim could support a re-raise that says, yes you are right, but if you are a policymaker trying to limit the population, inadmissibility standards are a very silly way to do that when you can set numerical caps, so population control cannot be an argument for retaining this particular restriction.
2. Establish some sort of framework that reduces the salience of politics and backlash arguments. This is obviously the most useful if you picked your Aff to minimize DA ground in the first place.
Doing these two things would make the entire 1AC relevant across many pieces of paper and it would make the Neg reckon with 8 minutes of arguments instead of 3.
7. MBA=Best Trophies in the Game
A lot of the tournaments I have been too have really strong trophies. I like St. Marks and the Texas plaques. I like the Glenbrooks and their big classy trophies (but this may just start at semifinals, I can't remember). But the bells are just too good. They look great and they make noise. They are fun and classy. They draw eyes on a trophy shelf/case better than others. The cannons for octafinals are also really strong. Tournaments don't usually hook up that level of elim.
I am Lincoln, head coach at UK and coach with Montgomery Bell Academy. This site's purpose is to post my ramblings about policy debate.