Shane Stafford -- The Blake School

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Judging philosophy:


Shane Stafford
The Blake School
Years Coaching - 32
Version Date: Policy Debate --9/14/11

Policy Debate

I like good arguments and good stories -- not a fan of "kitchen-sink" strategies. I have in the past voted on just about everything. I will try and list some items to help you adapt to my judging.

Flowing: My flowing and comprehension is probably not what it used to be. Therefore, I believe there are several ways to improve your chance of me getting the argument on my flow. Don't read multiple analytical arguments in a row, alternate evidenced and analytical arguments. Make your argument labels Claim -- Warrant, i.e. the Claim part is a short clear flowable tag then add explanation. Have a clear and consistent transition word, I just can't emphasize the importance of this. This is what allows me to separate arguments and if I lose you it is the critical element that allows me to jump back in with the flow of your speech. Start out slower and let me get adjusted to your voice. The number of students that start beyond their appropriate rate of delivery is staggering. After one or two minutes they run a little out of breath and then amazingly become far clearer. You need to understand that speech is the maximum number of arguments a judge is able to understand per minute, not the maximum number of words per minute. I often vote on good evidence/argument comparisons and explanations and will miss blips. I have no problem telling a debater that it is not on my flow. If you really think it is important, you will make sure I get it on my flow.

Topic: I am fairly familiar with the topic. I visited and judged at University of Kentucky and Dartmouth Debate Institute this summer. I have also read a good deal on the topic and coached it before this year. Reading and cutting quite a few cards, so I think I understand the topic arguments.

Topicality: Not sure where I am about this yet. I do feel looking back at earth (i.e. Landsat type affirmatives) are probably ok. Some folks believe that the object exploring space must be beyond the earth's mesosphere, I'm not there yet. For example, the idea that the Allen Array isn't exploring the space beyond.... doesn't make sense to me. But, I will wait and see what happens at early tournaments. I probably have a reputation for being a tough ballot on Topicality -- you need to clearly win the affirmative has done something bad to your ability to debate or to the debate process.

Conditionality: I'm worried about judges not being willing to pull the trigger on this. I am also fairly "defensive" on theory. But, I believe I am at the place where one K and one CPlan seems pretty reasonable, beyond that I am beginning to think we are facing some pretty shallow debate. If I hear a condo debate, please reference my flowing section above. Too often just reading your competing 5 to 10 one sentence arguments will not be convincing to me on either side. Pick a couple arguments why your interpretation is good or theirs is bad and go for it. Let's add some depth to the theory debates. Other Theory Arguments: Please make fewer but better arguments. I need to be persuaded why the other team is doing something harmful to the debate process or the benefits of the debate process.

Evidence: I don't like to read a lot of cards because I try to reward students for making evidence evaluations in the round. If both teams make good arguments on each other's evidence, then I will look at the cards, I just don't want to have my view of the quality of the evidence override the debater's argument. I've particularly found that flowing on the computer allows me to reward good analysis and comparisons done by the debaters. I will say that if I read a piece of evidence I will only judge the evidence's quality on the highlighted portion of the card or what is read/discussed in the round. Do not highlight the claim in a card and expect me to give you credit for the good warrants that are not read.

Cheap shots and Blips: I will likely not vote on a claim that "its a voter", nor something "hidden" within a 2NC perms bad block or another place in the debate. Voting against someone on a theory issue is essentially an act of punishment. I do believe there are some practices that are harmful to debate that may require it, but if you believe your opponent falls in this category then make the argument clearly and devote some time to it. I am also not afraid to say I will not vote on an argument that I don't understand. You may have gotten me with these arguments 25 years ago, but not now. Pure Tabula Rasa is long gone, at least for me.

Paperless: Prep ends when you have it on your flash drive and ready to give to the other team -- just get good at it and don't steal prep. I will use 10 minutes prep when I can.

What kinds of Debate do I like: Basically smart, good ones. I may at one time have said CPlan/Case/DA but really that isn't always true. I want clear smart arguments, with good quality evidence. I really do reward a debater for knowing about the topic or about the opponent's case. Some of the best negatives know more about the affirmatives than the people running the affirmative. I love good evidence comparisons. I enjoy a good solid Kritik, not one that is used to confuse the opponent.

Things I don't like: Don't ask about your points - I try to keep in the mainstream. If you don't like what I gave you, you and your coach can contact me after the tournament and explain why. Be pleasant and friendly, not annoying. Don't say your opponents lied, cheated or took things out of context, each of these claims makes an ethical claim about your opponent. If you believe your opponent cheated then we will make it the round and you will either win or lose on that basis. Don't speak for others in your cross-x or speech.

Seasonal voting record:

TourneyDivRdAFF    NEG    Decision

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