[eDebate] Harvard -- Octos Judges -- 8am

Martin Harris mharris02
Tue Oct 31 11:43:22 CST 2006

   While I will admit that I haven't completely thought about all the
potential ramifications, and I haven't kept up enough with MPJ systems
to fully understand the prefed versus highly prefed thing, but it seems
to me the community may be able to skirt the aff action fears by
broadening the class. Don't target women, target underprefed judges. If
women are a member of that class as well, they should statistically rise
with the class as a whole. I think it also supports broader community
goals as at least in part people leave the activity because they don't
feel included. Glad I went to Wake again and for the 43rd tournament in
a row didn't get an outround ballot. So nice to feel wanted. If the
placement algorithm for outrounds placed the MOST difficult to place
first, those prefed highly by a very few (a method I thought Gary's
program used to use for prelims), I think we might see a rise in
diversity on panels. It also answers the rational actions/perverse
incentives problem because they would have to replace a lower pref with
a higher pref increasing the likelihood of getting, in their mind, an
even worse judge. 
   I guess it is possible that the outcome might be the exact opposite,
an even perverser outcome where women end up getting all universally
highly preferred and end up not judging at all from being too preferred,
but I think you would still have a benefit for prelims were the system
wasn't used (more women in rounds), and at some point it seems a
prisoner's dilemma kicks in were my jacking the system only works if
everyone jacks the system forcing me to only rank based on who I think
is preferred not guessing what the system will do. 
   Finally it answers the stigma argument almost completely since it
doesn't target based on (what's the word, suspect class or something?),
but instead on a group that is already arguably stigmatized in the
status quo, the no judging for you class. What, someone is going to say
to women you only got to judge because you were low prefed? You can't
guarantee that is why they were there because you won't know which
judges were placed first, and it is no different than the status quo
which potentially labels you as unworthy of judging by denying a ballot.

It seems to be the perfectly blend between the traditional meritocracy
arguments, and affirmative action arguments. Aff action within broad
classes such that you still look at preferred critics, but give greater
preference to those preferred by 5 people, not the whole community

Martin Harris
Computer and Graphics Support Specialist 
Hammons School of Architecture, Drury University 
Office Phone: (417) 873-7497
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Dallas Perkins [mailto:dperkins at fas.harvard.edu]
> Sent: Tuesday, October 31, 2006 9:01 AM
> Cc: Martin Harris; edebate at ndtceda.com
> Subject: Re: [eDebate] Harvard -- Octos Judges -- 8am
> I agree with what both Martin and Neil have to say on this subject.
> fact, I suspect everyone does.  Martin is clearly correct that the raw
> data from one tournament provide support for only the most guarded of
> conclusions.  Neil is surely correct that the problem is more
> than one tournament, and is manifest in multiple ways at all
> I'll just add a couple of comments.
> First, the data.  I have the pref sheets from all the elim
participants in
> front of me.  Without divulging any confidences, I can assure everyone
> that every team in the elims preferred some women judges very highly.
> Different teams pref different women, but everybody prefs a bunch of
> women.
> Second, a concrete explanation of the process.  Those of you who have
> tournaments using modern tournament management software developed by
> either Edwards or Larson know that the computer makes it very easy to
> panels that are made up of three A+ judges.  The computer displays
> judge with their ranks in each round; one need only pick the
> and assign them.  If one goes through the list of judges and assigns
> mutual A+ judges in each round, it is hard to justify going back and
> messing with it, giving less preferred judges to some of the rounds.
> The result is that unlike prelims, where major compromises in both
> preference and mutuality are required to manage the judge pool, the
> panels are generally made up of VERY highly and mutually preferred
> This is especially true at major national tournaments such as Wake and
> Harvard, where the national judge pool is very deep with well-known
> highly popular judges.
> Now I'm going to get a little statistical on you.  In a pool divided
> two groups, where everybody has to judge an assigned number of rounds,
> two groups will judge their assigned numbers.  That's prelims.  In a
> where only the most preferred judges are used, but the two pools are
> equally preferred, both groups should be represented equally on the
> resulting panels.  There might be small anomalous exceptions, but
> generally that would work, even if the two groups were very different
> size (i.e., more men than women.)
> However, consider the situation where one of the two groups was
> more preferred than the other.  Even very slight differences in
> preference between the two groups could result in very large
> in representation on panels, since, as Martin illustrates, either team
> that lowers a woman merely from a rank of A+ to A may effectively
> her from consideration in panels consisting only of A+ judges.  Were
> two groups of equal size to begin with, or if the larger group were
> one less preferred, the results might not be so shocking.  But when
> smaller group is less preferred, even by a little bit, it makes it
> possible for them to disappear almost entirely from elim panels.
> That's exactly what happenned at Harvard.  There were lots of good
> judges who were available and relatively highly preferred throughout
> elims.  Kenda and Greta and the four Sarah's (Topp, Spring, Holbrook,
> Partlow) and Heather and Christine all come up on the screen and could
> easily be fit into rounds, but they are not quite as mutually highly
> preferred as other judges so they don't get assigned.  (Actually, I
> Greta did judge the quarters.)
> Neil asks why people are biased.  I'm not sure.  In my experience,
> coaches and directors don't make much difference.  I suspect that male
> debaters may have a slight net preference for male judges, although
> are obviously wide variations.  And I think the "biases" are about
> than gender.  Teams dis-prefer women because of their views about the
> kritik, or about abortion rights, or conditionality; only one of those
> seems even possibly gender-related, and that not very strongly.  It
> be interesting to really understand what is going on, but finding out
> require a different sort of data, perhaps interviews or surveys.
> Regardless of the source of the bias, it is also proper to inquire as
> what might be done.  Two suggestions are obvious.  First is some sort
> gender-conscious assignment process that prefers highly-preferred
> over even more highly-preferred men on panels.  Frankly, if Stefan and
> had taken the time to notice what was going on at Harvard, we might
> tried to adopt such a plan.  The second suggestion might not be quite
> obvious.  Elim panels could be made larger.  Had we been forced to put
> five judges in each octa and quarter panel, we would have dipped
> into the pool and selected slightly less-preferred judges, several of
> would have been women.
> I'm not sure what I think about either of these two ideas.  As to the
> preference for women, I'm worried about all sorts of issues.  There
> all the generic complaints about affirmative action--does it
> those is tries to help, etc.  Also, there are perverse incentives in
> explicit system of preferences, as teams would rationally react by
> lowering their rankings of women a little bit to offset the
> pressure to use more women, perhaps striking women altogether to keep
> tab room from assigning one with whom they are not comfortable for
> whatever reason.
> Larger elim panels seem more likely to work.  However, they come with
> their own set of issues.  At most tournaments, judges are anxious to
> on the road after their teams have lost.  The judges who are still
> frequently want to work rather than judge, or else they are
> exhausted from working all night and judging all day.  Judges who get
> round off frequently want to have a beer, or two, and are soon not
able to
> judge at their best in later rounds.  Basically, assigning 20 judges
> quarters rather than 12, is a big imposition on the people who have to
> the judging.  As tournament directors, we ask for tremendous help and
> support from our judges.  Increasing the numbers by 40% is not an easy
> thing to do.  Nonetheless, I believe if the community understood what
> at stake, larger elim panels might be supported.  Women judges can
> out by making it known to tournament directors that they are available
> willing to judge later on elim day than they might be required by the
> rules, again no small sacrifice on their part.
> Effective advocacy training requires that debaters be forced to
> women just as well as men.  While no solution is going to be painless,
> success of the whole activity requires that we try to make at least
> progress.
> dp

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