Thursday, October 22, 2009

Episode 3 - Judge preferences and rankings

This week the Tres Meatballeros discuss Mutual Judge Preference, Community Rankings, strikes, random selection of judges, and other tabbing issues. Get it here.

Our tech selection for the week is Dropbox. And our prediction for the near future is that there will be a short gap between Jon Cruz worrying about this year's Big Bronx tournament and starting to worry about next year's tournament, but the smart money is against us.


  1. Interesting discussion about judge preferences. I have two reactions as someone who rarely frequents the national circuit (about twice a year) and is running six local tournaments in varying size and preferencing systems.

    Bietz's concern about people from outside of the community being able to access their judges is how I feel every time I take my students to a national circuit tournament. Aside from the lack of access to judges, I'm also concerned that tournaments that use community preferences/tab directed judge selection frequently exclude the judges and coaches from small schools who don't travel/don't have the budget to significantly participate on the circuit/don't teach at camps. It seems silly for me to give up my time to attend an event and then for my participation to be marginalized just because I'm not well known. I don't know what the solution to this is - like Bietz, I think a high number of strikes is a more fair option, but it doesn't offer information about who to choose in important rounds and may end up with the problem that we're identifying. I do think that a knowledgeable tournament director is extremly helpful. Last year I was frequently used at Apple Valley, compared to the very few number of rounds that I judged at the Glenbrooks the last couple times I was there. The difference probably was that Cherian knew who I was and that the Glenbrooks staff did not.

    The Wisconsin State Tournament has been using Mutual Preferencing for a number of years now and it works out pretty well. We have an established order of mutual preferences that has been published (AA, BB, CC, AB). Part of the rational for using that system is limit the power of the tab room in making judge assignments. People frequently perceive those of us in the tab room as making decisions that advantage our teams. The mutual preference-computer pick option is perceived locally as reducing this bias and as an end result is more fair.

    A point that you all mention, but I think deserves more consideration is when to apply your judge preference system. Do you apply the system throughout the tournament? Starting in round 1? And at what point in the bracket do you begin applying the system. In playing around with TRPC, I noticed that it makes a big difference where you decide to start assigning judges. It's fairly obvious who should not get priority (those who stand no chance of reaching an elimination round), but there's a noticable difference if you start with the undefeateds than if you start with the once defeateds.

  2. Dropbox is totally pwntastic.

    As someone who has never run a debate tournament, but has attended a fair variety of them, I think that the absolute worst situation is the "smoke filled room" tab staff making the decisions of who are the *good* judges to go in the *important* rounds.

    So from that perspective, I think that any preference system is a good thing: community, mutual, whatever.

    Really though, if y'all are open to trying new things, then I'd love to see a tournament run with "strikes + dice" like Bietz comes close to advocating in the 'cast, but later backs off on. Give everyone as many strikes as is possible to keep the tournament runnable, but then assign every judge in every round randomly. In my mind, this seems like a great way to balance "we want good judges" and "you should learn to adapt," as well as solving the have/havenots division that Bietz and Bubb identify. Maybe I'm crazy, but I'd like to see it in practice.

  3. I would first like to say that this was my favorite episode to date, and the tech tip was very useful as well, taken that my LD Team has only been using Google Docs as of recently, and as Jon Cruz explained, the two of them together lead to data-sharing nirvana.

    When it comes to judge preferences, I found myself very intrigued at the discussion, and I thank you guys for that. The episode spurred much thinking of my own, that of which would not have been as developed without your help.

    I began to imagine a spectrum, with one end being super-specific rankings, and the other being simple (strikes only). I think then, that the smaller the circuit, the more specific the ranking can be, whereas the larger the circuit is, the less specific it ought to be.

    As a local circuit debater, I have been plagued with the financial inability to attend the very desired benefits of camp or travel tournaments to date. This means that I spend all of my time on the local circuit, which, quite frankly, has multiple flaws. Because this is a heated and relevant issue in my life, I wish that you guys discussed that a little more...

  4. Furthermore, I was inspired by the discussion so much that I got out pen and paper and came up with "The Charles Wanless Judge Format" that I just may share in our three way emails.

    Anyway, on my local circuit, I know that there are multiple issues with our judging system, because strikes are low, if even present, and because judges are arbitrary. I would really love you guys to talk about lower-caliber or smaller-circuit judging pools...

  5. You shills sold me on Dropbox (Dad, I think that means you just got more space), but not judge ranking. We can argue about it this weekend, but I say: give every kid one strike, and leave it at that.