[eDebate] Plea for Random Judging

Ross Smith smithr
Mon Sep 30 13:26:52 CDT 2002

>There has been relatively little feedback on this since I first noted we 
>were discussing this very issue with regard to this year's Dixie.

I guess we can post the invitation with this issue left unsettled.

Here are the alts:
1) SQ: MPJ all the time
2) Revert to old-fashioned MPJ only in effect after round 2 w/ presets 
using randon w/ geog constraints.
3) All random all the time except you get 10 or some other number of strikes.
4) Random/Rating hybrid.

The Random part of the Random/Rating hybrid option responds to the argument 
that prefs are ideological and that teams should not be able to dodge 
arguments, modes of debate, or adaptation so easily. The Rating part of the 
Random/Rating hybrid responds to the argument that some judges are simply 
better debate judges than others, regardless of their argument preference.

Here is a sketch of how it might work:
1) Everyone ranks all of the judges. Everyone strikes 10 or so.
2) The sum of the ranks is used to rate each of the judges an A, B, C, or D.
3) In the first 4 rounds (of an 8 prelim tournament) everyone gets one of each.
4) After the first four rounds teams still in contention are prioritized so 
as to increase their likelihood of getting A's or B's. A balancing function 
can be used to give teams that have had the "worst" judges up to that point 
first crack at the "best" judges (and vice versa).
Or in rounds 5-8 you could just repeat step three.

At any rate, this could create an ideological randomness without some of 
the unfairness of quality based randomness. Pure randomness can result in 
one team luckily getting 8 good judges and another getting 8 bad ones (yea, 
rare, but it is a bell curve and there will be many getting the 2/6 or 3/5 
split of good/bad judging. Luck evens out in the long run, but the 6 or 8 
prelims of a tournament is not the long run.

Another hybrid might be to use the Random/Rating system for rounds 1-4 and 
then go to full-blown MPJ for 5-8. This might serve the purpose of allowing 
judges to be discovered by people who might otherwise never have known to 
prefer them and might also provide some incentive and necessity for 

On the other hand, I'm not convinced people should not debate in front of 
those whom they most prefer.

Ross Smith
WFU Debate Coach
336-758-5268 (o)

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