[eDebate] Judge side bias

A Numbers Game edebate edebate
Wed Apr 29 21:30:00 CDT 2009

> For
> instance, how can you reach your conclusion when your poster children of Aff
> bias in 2007-2008--Toni Nielson--voted 24-25 this year?

I think you are right -- it would be foolish to conclude that a judge
whose voting record is aff-skewed one year will vote aff more often in
a subsequent year.

There are many reasons a judge could be side-biased in a particular
year. One of the judges on one of the lists emailed me to mention a
particular counterplan from that year that was handled poorly by many
affs they saw.

> It's not "historical judge bias"; it's bias
> on a given topic.

Yes, I agree. I was trying to say that. I put the resolutions on the
page for exactly that reason.

> Acutally your observation that the voting ratio for the courts topic was 50%
> suggests two things: First, I can't really believe that the aff won 50% of
> the time on that topic given that they were sitting ducks for the negative

Do you mean "I can't believe" like I can't believe it's not butter, or
like I can't believe in Santa Claus?

If you mean the latter, the data is/are available at
debateresults.com, with a copy in the subversion repository at the
site I pointed to, with a MySQL-friendly copy and a script for
extracting that copy.


If you meant the former, then I think it may answer your question
immediately below! It is interesting to see that the courts topic
produced such a balanced year. That may be useful to those picking a
topic or wording.

> Second, who care about historical side bias? If judges seem to vary widely
> in this bias from year to year (as both your calculations and my random
> couple demonstrate) yet the overall balance is 50%, is there even a concern
> about side or judge bias? Seems like there really isn't.

Maybe there's nothing wrong with side bias! I think that's interesting
by itself. Some of the most respected critics appear on these lists.
Maybe that an indicator that what makes these people great judges
isn't fairness to the sides, but fairness to debaters, or giving good
critiques, or just being nice people, or having fast pens!

Maybe, if some of our most preferred critics exhibit side bias, then
it's not so important to preserve fair chances of winning for each
side! If the entire season were made up of critics as preferred as the
names you list above, and the numbers at the end of the season showed
affs winning over 60% of the debates, would that be a bad year? By
what metric? Plenty of games (like chess, for instance, or spectator
sports with a home field advantage) aren't side-unbiased.

I don't think the numbers necessarily indicate any problem (or any
solution to any possible problem).

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