[eDebate] First round rankings--thoughts

David Cram Helwich cramhelwich
Wed May 20 14:40:36 CDT 2009

I was 'taught' a ranking heuristic by Gordon Mitchell when I was taking
classes at Pitt--he had me do his data compilation (back in the old days
before the Bruschke site--do we thank Jon enough) and propose preliminary
rankings based upon my analysis of the data. Gordon then analyzed the data
himself, turned in his rankings, and talked with me about differences
between his rankings and mine. I have also benefitted from (often informal)
exchanges about first round rankings with many people, including Ross, Ed
Lee, Dr. Dave, Will, Ermo, and many others over the years.

First, a quick overview of the system I use in determining rankings:
a) I am not wedded to math/numbers, per se. Quantitative analysis is a tool
that helps inform, but does not determine, what is ultimately a
_qualitative_ judgement about the body of work of a pool of teams over a
debate season. I seriously doubt that any rankers 'let the math speak' and
just enter their results accordingly.
b) I first try to 'sort' the teams into roughly-defined tiers. These tiers
are used in determining a teams +/- and avg +/-. I ordinally rank the
applicants in three categories: elim depth (based on a point system that
provides increasing returns for advancing futher into a tournament), winning
percentage against the applicant pool, and winning percentage against
non-applicants. I then sum the orginal ranks in the three categories. In my
experience, one generally sees fairly clear 'breaks' based upon these rank
totals. For example, this year
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