[eDebate] 50 point scale or 100 point scale

William J Repko repkowil
Mon Nov 5 22:22:49 CST 2007

Ross asked "what do people think about 50 point scale vs. 100 point scale" 

There are three things I'd like to add to the discussion: 

1. I fear people are inflating the "upside" of compatibility with the normal 
academic grading scale. 

It's probably an over-rated advantage to the new experiment for two reasons: 

 a) The community has less of a common understanding of an academic grading 
scale than they have for the current 30 point speaker scale. 

The 100 point scale compatibility arguments (falsely) presuppose that 
members of our community have a uniform "feel" for what constitutes a 
reasonable grade. We probably don't. 

Think about the variation in the *average* grades issued amongst just the 
teachers you had in high school. 

Some thought that 75 was average... Some functionally thought 85 was 
"functionally" average... 

..now consider the broad range academic standards held by former students 
that are currently in the judging pool. 

Strauss would be ecstatic to receive a 75 on any test he ever took... Greta 
would not. 

..how will that kind of differing psychology effect the issuing of speaker 
points ?... 

the answer is that it won't even find out BECAUSE: 

 b) Ross is gonna (wisely) tell us what an 80 looks like, what a 90 looks, 
like, etc. 

Because the system is new we are NOT going to be asked to freelance with our 
feel for "how the speech measured on a conventional grading scale". 

At least initially, the 100 point scale is 100% going to be defined 
contextually -- and not by comfortable analogy. In fact, many of us will be 
so petrified of what Malcolm Gordon's GPA might mean for our own teams' 
speakers points, that we won't even really WANT the community to freelance. 

We'll find great comfort in the existence of a chart on the ballot and would 
find almost no comfort in drawing analogies to the grades we've issued or 
received in math class. 

My point is that if you are on the fence about 50 points versus 100 points, 
I don't feel that the "analogy" argument should not sway you. 

2. This sets up a dilemma that certainly does not damn the experiment, but 
may be worth mentioning. 

Assume this experiment catches-on -- and that we use the 100 point scale for 
many other tourneys. 

...assume further that, like the 30 point scale (or -- for that matter every 
scale that's ever existed for any sport), speaker points become defined by 
community norms. 

In that world, would the analogy to 100-point academic scale even be useful 
?... Might it even be a burden ?... 

Having debates judged by TEACHERS is not that rare of an occurrence. It's 
worth noting that there may be a downside to expressly drawing an analogy to 
a non-debate scale that has a wide-ranging meaning. 

3. Given a choice, I prefer a 50 point scale for two reasons: 

a) I slightly prefer scale that is somewhat-unique to our activity, and I 
see the 100 point scale as having a little more baggage and external meaning 
than is necessary. 

b) the real upside to this experiment will be that it will provide political 
cover for people to give lower points again. 

I cannot fully explain it, but I see it as more likely that our community 
will (in time) use the full range of the 40's (on a 50 point scale) than use 
the full range of 80's (on a 100 point scale)... 

In a strange way, the "bigger" the scale, the worse a lower score "looks" -- 
and I think that is the psychology that has made a 26 look like a 

 -- Will 





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