[eDebate] Solt on the point scale

Ross Smith smithr
Tue Nov 6 12:25:46 CST 2007

Roger Solt said I could post his message to me if I thought it helpful. 
I do. Here it is:

The new point scale is a worthy experiment. I like the 100 point better 
than the 50 point option.

The value of the scale is that it opens up a wider range of evaluative 
options; the danger, of course, is that people will use it so 
inconsistently that a major element of arbitrariness is introduced.

The real question, I think, concerns what benchmarks one should employ. 
For example, what would be the equivalent on the 100 point scale of a 
pure 27? Or a pure 28.5?

I have gone through three stages in my thinking about this issue.

First, I simply converted the 30 point scale into a mathematically 
equivalent 100 point scale.

Thus, 27=90 (since 27 is 90% of 30); 28.5=95; 30=100.

Even this scale is something of an improvement over the status quo, but 
it soon became clear from yours and others edebate posts that this was a 
higher scale than was intended.

My second thought was to make 27=80. This would make 28.5=90, etc. This, 
I assume is closer to what you intended.

Still, I was struck by one of Josh Hoe?s comments about the danger of 
one set of judges using a 90 to 100 scale (my initial response) and some 
using a 70-100 scale (a still wider range than my second scale 

This led me to contemplate using a 70-100 scale, with 27=70; 27.5=75, 
28=80, 28.5=85, 29=90, 29.5=95, etc.

It struck me that one not negligible benefit of this scale is its easy 
convertibility from the old scale. Perhaps this familiarity is also a 
drawback, since one benefit of the new system is presumably to encourage 
people to rethink the basis on which they assign points. Still, all told 
its ease of use makes the 70-100 point scale the one I think I would 
like to use. That is?if I think that that?s the scale that most others 
will use (since I don?t want to be a point Grinch). At this point, it 
seems impossible to tell, so I may well use the 80 to 100 scale instead.

I think that a lot of people would find it useful if the tournament 
would publish its suggested baselines. Where would your 27 point 
equivalent be? 28.5? Etc. Maybe you don?t want to be that definitive, 
but I do fear that absent such guidance points will be all over the 
place and that this will be a one shot experiment.

Ross K. Smith
Director of Debate
Wake Forest University

336-251-2076 (c)
336-758-5268 (o)


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