[eDebate] Point Inflation and the 100 pt scale

Jason Russell jasonlrussell1
Tue Sep 22 20:00:36 CDT 2009

87 should assuredly not be the average. That's ridiculous. If 87 is
average then we're using this scale needlessly and could easily use
the old 30 point scale just as well since it is likely no one is
getting below a 75 even if they're really terrible with 87 set as the
mark. In fact, that average would argue we'd need less
differentiation, not more.

I'm not so worried about the top speaker having really high points as
I am about the middle and bottom being differentiated. The top 20
speakers at most tournaments are objectively very close in skill and
persuasiveness. Those debaters typically do A level work (90-100). I'm
not shocked they're about the same. I am constantly shocked at how
close the 50th debater is in points to the 20th debater. In my mind,
there is a huge difference.

I wish tournaments would stop providing advice on what the scale means
because it directly influences judges. Many people I know have said to
me re: the old Wake system histogram "yeah, I thought a 70 or so
should be average like a term paper, but it says here an 82 is a 27,
so that's what I'll go by". Judging is so referential to important
opinion leaders and norms and trends that this simple suggestion
quickly becomes a law. Let's be honest: we got to the problem of point
inflation because many judges want the good teams to pref them. If you
give lower points, you won't get preffed by the top teams fighting for
elim seeding or even the 30-45 teams fighting to clear. So the trend
in points went up to satisfy debaters' egos and consequently judges'
egos. Now, because of these "suggestions" at tournaments regarding the
meaning of their scales, debaters have concrete expectations about
their points that START at 87. This is like students who walk into a
college classroom and believe that completing all of their work gets
them an A. It's nonsensical, uneducational, and frankly does debaters
a disservice in evaluating their true skills, both strengths and

87 won't be my average at 100 point scale tournaments. I will start at
75 and work from there.


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