[eDebate] Paperless, Time & Other Issues (Long)

JP Lacy lacyjp
Wed Sep 23 23:55:32 CDT 2009

The Shirley (Wake's tournament) enforces a strict 2:45 decision deadline 
during prelims. We do our best to begin rounds on time by informing 
participants regularly of the start time. Our tournament won't be 
delayed because some rounds took "extra time" to transfer evidence. We 
give participants adequate time to move rooms & plenty of time for 
pre-round preparation (Typically 45 minutes from the release of 
pairings.) I firmly believe that if rounds are scheduled with enough 
pre-round prep & enough decision time, & debates begin as scheduled, 
tournaments will run on time to the benefit of all involved.

That said, I fully support the move to debating without paper.

I think that paperless will eventually save time.

It currently saves time for paperless teams: No box moving, no time 
wasted printing, streamlined filing process.

If we can eliminate box moving from pre-round prep, we will likely save 
15 minutes per round & can start scheduling accordingly once the vast 
majority of teams eliminate paper.

Transfer time: This is obviously the biggest problem at the moment. I've 
heard all the horror stories but haven't witnessed any myself. I do like 
Russell's "time is charged to the transferring team" rule, (I'm a bit 
more flexible -- I'm willing to allow one minute to jump, dropbox or 
otherwise transfer ev pre-speech because that is almost equivalent to 
the time it should take a papered debater to do analogous things.)

I'd like to add some initial caveats (That are definitely open to 

1. Once its up & readable on a viewing computer, other "transfer time" 
should be charged to the opposition. If you insist on two copies of the 
speech, or want to print their stuff, it comes out of your time. If a 
team's viewing computer is not reasonably usable, we'll negotiate to 
find the best solution.

2. "My computer sucks" is not a valid excuse. You are a debater. You 
have one computer. There are many like it, but the one you use is yours. 
You must master it. Keep your computer running well. Fix it or find 
another if you have to. (Its still cheaper than printing.) The vast 
majority of performance problems are because users do not maintain their 
computers well. Saying "my computer is too slow" is like saying "my 
filing system & in round organization suck."

3. One free reboot per team. Paper using debaters get one free time out 
if their podium falls over. No more. No thinking during reboots. Make 
small talk instead. The weather is always interesting. Make sure your 
computers work. Communication is more technological now. If we are 
trying to teach people to be better communicators & debaters, they need 
to know technology. Learn what you need to communicate with the 
technology you are using. Even Obama doesn't get a free pass if his 
teleprompter fails. Transfer time longer than a minute might be counted 
as your "free reboot."

4. Speech.doc organization: Due diligence must be paid to providing the 
opponent with an organized copy of the evidence you read. Teams will be 
penalized for negligent or intentional disorganization. (A 50 page 2ac 
is facially un-acceptable. If you have 10 page frontlines to all their 
arguments in a well structured document, I think its alright, even 
though you should write better 2ac blocks.) Penalties obviously depend 
on the situation: If the other team can't be reasonably expected to read 
your evidence when you do, I may disregard the argument. If your 
organization is so bad that they can't read a majority of your evidence, 
I might disregard all your arguments by 50 percent. If I think your 
confusion is intentional, you'll get the same penalty a speaker who 
refuses to share any of their evidence with the opposition would. I 
think you are obligated to provide a copy of evidence & other relevant 
texts upon your presentation of them. If your practices fulfill that 
obligation, you are fine.

I think this whole transfer time problem will be eliminated with time. 
I'm more than willing to consider alternatives to the above!

Thanks to everyone who pointed out the problem & much thanks to everyone 
who suggested ways to improve the situation.

-- JP "Make your tech work" Lacy
lacyjp at wfu.edu

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