[eDebate] Two new threads

Gary Larson Gary.N.Larson
Wed Oct 22 16:05:17 CDT 2008

As Will starts a discussion regarding the ?strength? of the strike cards or preference system, I need to make an important clarification.  The difference in ?strength? between having 2 categories (strikes only), 4 categories (ABCX), 6 categories, 9 categories, or ordinal is not primarily one of preference, but rather one of mutuality.  The increase in the number of categories by itself does not significantly increase the level of preference achieved (though the power of the algorithm or method of matching judges does have a significant impact).  The increase in the number of categories can rather make a dramatic difference in the degree of mutuality that can be achieved.
The reason that this distinction is important is that one of the arguments that has been offered for decreasing the number of categories is that it would be less exclusive and that teams would no longer only have to debate for the judges in the top 50-60% of the pool.  But that isn?t an entailment at all.  An ABCX system with 25% per category could/would similarly limit all but 1-2% of debates for teams not eliminated to judges in the top half (AA, BB or AB matches).  The difference would be that an AB match could have nearly a 50% ordinal difference in mutuality.
If the educational goal is to increase the range of judges that teams need to be prepared to argue in front of and to decrease the exclusion of judges at the bottom of the distribution, the best solution is to have a large number of categories (or ordinal) and to relax the objective of maximizing preference while continuing to focus on maximizing mutuality.  If we think that there is an educational benefit in have a team debate for a judge in the bottom 25% of their preference (or in the 50-75% range), I suspect that we would argue that it is even more important to ensure that the judge is not one that is highly skewed with respect to their opponent?s preference.
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