Hello! This page is changing. When I was still as involved in the PF community, I answered these questions myself, but am now busy with college and cannot. You can still see answers to the past questions, but submissions will be routed to posts on the Instagram account @pfquestions (https://www.instagram.com/pfquestions/). There, people can answer in the comment section (or I might) for everyone to learn from.
1. How would you frontline someone saying you're running a plan when you run a most likely form of implementation of the resolution?
When making arguments on a topic that's in general, such as the January 2019 topic about prioritizing debt reduction, or the Nocember 2018 topic on price controls, impacts can get a little vague. Specifying how implementation will happen is one method people take. However, since unlike policy and LD, under PF when affirming you can only say the resolution will happen as a whole and not just one part of it (unless justifying it with theory or some other method). As a result, if you'd like to specify an argument, you need to explain why the process you're specifying is the most likely way the resolution would be affirmed. For example, while there are many varying forms of price controls, if you'd like to say that value-based pricing would be implemented, as MSJ does at 2:30, you need to explain why that outcome is most likely.
However, teams may still argue against you by saying this is a plan. If they've answered the justifications for why that is the most likely outcome, then you should interact with that level, but if the response is just that any specificity makes it a plan, you need to explain in simple terms why a specific implementation makes sense. This can be justified by how policymakers act, explaining the importance of being specific, or talking about what the resolution would be like in the real-world. Make it clear that this is a direct result of the judge affirming the resolution, and not something you came up with on your own.
2. As a second speaker, how can I get better at making more analytical rebuttals? I think I’ve become too reliant on blocks.
This is something I briefly touched on here, on the drills page. The general idea of the drill is to practice responding to a case on a topic you don't know about, against a case you've never heard. PF Videos is a great resource for that, with rounds stretching back to 2015. For example, take the video on the right, on the Russian sanctions topic - one which most people currently reading haven't debated (or at least not extensively). On older rounds like this, listen to the cases and crossfire, and practice delivering an entirely analytical rebuttal with not a ton of prep time. You can even weigh the other case against the one you're answering! For a bigger challenge, try the second rebuttal and allocate time to frontline a case you've heard for the first time. This should improve your analytical responses, especially if you record yourself delivering the speech and listen back to see if what you're saying makes sense.
3. What are the types of weighing you can do in public forum and how do you implement them well in a round?
The weighing arguments you can make are generally covered in this part of the overviews article and this article on link weighing. I'll touch on how to implement them in the round. Some people like to weigh in an overview, since in many rounds the weighing debate will decide the way the judge votes. This would involve the speech beginning with an overview where you'd say something along the lines of "Even if you buy their entire case, you vote on our contentions first because..." and you'd give reasons why your arguments would come first (as detailed in the above pages). Other times, you have an argument that outweighs one of your opponent's points in particular, and you'd introduce it similarly to any other response. Finally, in second-half speeches, some people introduce weighing between extending their impacts and going on to the other case, e.g. "which gives us our Jones evidence saying we'd lift 10 million people from poverty. That outweighs their case about increasing FDI because..."
4. Should I be giving line-by-line summaries or collapse into topics?
This is really dependent on the round you're in. In flow rounds, it's usually strategic to give a line-by-line summary, given that judges can follow that and you can interact more efficiently with the different issues. In more lay rounds, it might be a better idea to talk about the issues in a bigger-picture lens, where you focus on the main voting issues without making the line-by-line responses or interaction with technical warrants. However, these are generalizations - taking a line-by-line approach is not always applicable to every flow round, and vice versa. A good example of a mixed approach comes from Ben's summary in the round given, beginning around 24:09. It doesn't have to be an either-or.
5. Is it strategic to go for weighing and case instead of defense and case in FF if the weighing is conceded and you can better allocate time to offense/weighing that way?
Definitely! If you're weighing, the opponent's case shouldn't matter at all, so long as you're winning your own case. That's functionally terminal defense on their entire case, as long as you're winning yours. You should try your hardest to win your case anyway, and weighing it as well, so if that weighing is conceded, it's definitely strategic to make weighing only. It saves time by grouping their entire case!
Sometimes, however, there's small terminal defense you can extend and explain well. Sometimes, you won't really need the extra time to win your case solidly, and dedicating extra time would give you diminishing marginal returns. In that case, you could allocate some time to defense, since it's not exactly going to hurt you.
6. What are some good strategies to trap the opposing team in their cross-x?
The most common mistake I see with people trying to "trap" the other team is making it way too obvious. If a question starts out with "do you concede that..." or "don't you agree that..." it's likely that your opponent won't walk into it. Instead, use more innocuous or simple questions as your setup, asking ones that don't have a very clear answer. I also recommend not making the implication of your question immediately clear, as you'd give your opponent a chance to clear it, and saying it in a speech instead. (This is just a rule of thumb - if there's something immediately important or you don't think you'll have time in a speech, feel free to talk about in cross.)
I couldn't think of a good round to demonstrate this. If you've got an example, put it in the form and I'll add it in here.
7. What is spreading?
Spreading is a portmanteau of the words "speed reading," which basically means speaking quickly in debate. The round on the left demonstrates three different ideas of spreading in debate. The first constructive from Nueva at 0:15 is pretty quick, and you can see that their speed allows them to fit in many different links and impacts into a short, 4-minute speech. The second rebuttal from Millburn at 17:53 is a little slower but still pretty quick, and is probably the type of spreading you'll see most often in a PF round. Finally, there's the first rebuttal from Nueva at 13:05, which is fast. Just watch it.
8. How do you work on time allocation and good coverage of the entire flow?
The best way to work on this is speech redos. When in a round yourself, it's hard to make objective assessments of how to best allocate time or cover the flow, without practice! Look back on a flow from a round where you think you needed to work on them, or one you've done recently. With a lot more time to prepare the speech, think about the best allocation of time you could do, and make sure you're covering everything important on the flow. (Not everything is worth responding to.) And if you aren't able to allocate time to everything, you need to work on efficiency. Practice giving speeches where you make the same arguments, but limit the amount of time you're putting in. For extra help, record it and listen back to what you say, making sure you're still covering everything in the speech.
9. How do you decide what defense to go for and extend in summary if you have too much to cover?
There are two main things you can do.
First, you can improve the efficiency of other parts of your summary. In the first example, Andrew's summary starting at 29:20 groups many of the responses to their case to save time. This responds to a lot of the opposing arguments efficiently, but apart from that, it also frees time up for later in the summary.
Second, you can make grouping overviews that respond to multiple arguments your opponents have made. In the second example, Ardrey Kell makes two arguments, but the overview about revenue responds to both, which can more efficiently be extended in summary.
10. How to better adapt to parent judges when it comes to speaking and the flow?
This was covered in the judge adaptation article, but this round gives an instructive example of emphasizing your team's narrative to make the round clearer to evaluate. The panel for this round was a decently experienced judge with a background in PF, a parent judge, and a coach with a background in LD. Given the very mixed panel, each team focuses on taking a mixed approach. Neither is speaking extremely slowly or focusing too much on just presentation skills (although both are great at it). Instead, they focus on emphasizing the narrative of their cases throughout the round, not getting caught up in less related arguments that would muddle the debate.
11. How do you frontline?
Frontlining is responding to responses against your arguments. The most common time this will come up is when you read your case, your opponent makes arguments against it in their rebuttal, and then in either second rebuttal or a summary, you will respond to the arguments they've just made. This is important if you want to win the round! Your opponents have just introduced evidence or reasoning that, if left untouched, would mean your arguments are false or not reasons to vote for you. If you just repeat your arguments in your later speeches, your opponents can point out that you never addressed a flaw in your case, and the judge has no reason to believe you anymore.
Frontlining responds to the responses to let your arguments stand. This can be done in a number of ways. First, you can directly respond to their response as if it was a typical argument. Maybe it's empirically disproven, maybe there's a logical jump they make. Secondly, you can explain how it doesn't really respond to your argument, perhaps by pointing out some specifics of your argument they're not considering or noting that it's only mitigatory. For examples, watch Lincoln-Sudbury's rebuttal from 18:31.
A bit of terminology that's much less common than frontlining is backlining, where you'll respond to your opponent's frontlines. If you've made a response to their case and they respond, you can't just repeat the argument you made - you have to respond to their response to your response first. A bit confusing, and not many people use this terminology.
12. What does is mean for one argument to short-circuit another argument?
Short-circuiting is a type of link weighing, where you'd argue that if you win your argument, your opponent has no chance to win theirs. This usually has to do with stopping the intent or capacity that your opponent's argument relies on. For example, take a resolution that says "the US should build more roads." If the affirmative says that the roads would bring long-term economic growth and the negative says building more roads would cause a debt crisis and a recession, the negative can try to short-circuit the affirmative's arguments. Even if the US would want to build more roads, a recession stops them from paying from them immediately, which would short-circuit their argument about long-term benefits. The idea of these short-circuits is to establish a link into their argument from yours, and explain why that link is shorter or better than your opponent's.
13. How do you come up with questions in grand cross?
Grand cross is a bit awkward in PF rounds. The final focus isn't really supposed to bring up anything new that wasn't in summary, so it's not like grand cross is going to swing the round one way or the other. I generally use grand cross to try to muddle up the opposing arguments, or call out vague or shady analysis made in the summary. If they say something in summary that makes little sense or clearly is insufficient work on an argument, pointing it out in grand cross sets up a much stronger frontline in your final focus.
14. When weighing in summary, should I do all weighing at the end or throughout the summary?
This depends on the clash between your cases. In some rounds, both teams will be going for the same impact, e.g. recessions in the BRI topic (or any topic for that matter) or climate change, and the question will be who best accesses a link into that impact. Given that teams tend to read multiple links, it might be better to interact with them on a line-by-line basis instead. Other times, you'll need to prove that your impact is more important than your opponent's. With two cases that largely "pass in the night," upholding your end result is often where the round is decided. In that case, it'd probably be better to begin and/or end with the weighing, ensuring your judge realizes it's the most important in the round. Finally, some teams prefer weighing between the two cases, as it's sort of a transitional argument between the others. For an example, watch the final focus (sorry it's not a summary, but it's very similar) beginning at 37:33.
15. What is the ideal layout for a rebuttal?
This, of course, depends on the round! One big distinction is the first rebuttal vs the second rebuttal, which might as well be different speeches. For the first rebuttal, it's usually pretty straightforward! You just have to go down the opposing case and explain why it's wrong and why yours is more important. To that end, a simple layout could be an overview at the top of their case that explains why your side is better, perhaps comparing the impacts of both sides or making a crucial distinction that applies to their entire case. From there, it's just going "down" their case and making responses. Go from contention to contention, subpoint to subpoint, and make your specific responses to each one. Especially for cases that are relatively segmented, signposting is crucial to show the judge where your responses apply. For the second rebuttal, it's less straightforward, since there's a lot more decision-making. The first choice is whether you want to frontline (respond to the content of the first rebuttal) or just respond to their case. I very strongly encourage you to always frontline, because it makes the round much more clear and makes debates go more in-depth, since there's more interaction between the two sides. In terms of an order for those goals (including the ones from the first - explaining why their case is wrong and why yours is more important), I'd recommend starting by "winning" your case by dealing with the content of the first rebuttal (or part of it! You can collapse by focusing on just one contention or subpoint in this speech), then comparing the cases, then responding to the other case. This would necessarily give you less time to respond to the other side, so making effective, broader responses might be necessary to avoid dropping arguments. So, to the original question, no layout is "ideal," but when considering a layout, remember to always begin with what you think is the most important!
16. To my understanding, offense is anything that you present as a reason to vote for you, like case args or turns on their case, while defense is stuff rebuttal puts on your opponents case. So, would "extending defense" in 1st summary just mean extending the responses your partner gave to their case, in 1st rebuttal?
Yes. The difference between offense and defense isn't necessarily what speech it's in, but what function it serves in the round. In general, if you prove an offensive argument true, the judge should vote for you, and if you prove a defensive argument true, it just negates a reason that the judge might've had to vote for your opponents. As an example, say the resolution was "the US should ban trade with China." An offensive argument for the aff side could be "banning trade will protect American jobs," and since that argument proves a reason that affirming the resolution would be good, proving it's true is a reason to vote for you. An example of a defensive argument could be "banning trade will have no effect on American jobs, they'll go away anyway." Now, this may seem like a reason to vote for the neg side, and it might help you if your opponent makes this argument. However, this shouldn't prompt the judge to vote anywhere, on its own. There's plenty of things we do that "won't have an effect on American jobs" but that doesn't mean we take those actions as a result. Was it good that I stubbed my toe, because it didn't have an effect on American jobs?
If you do end up extending defense in first summary, you should make sure the response is clearly. This involves signposting (quickly mentioning what argument the response is applying to), re-explaining the response made by your partner, then explaining why the response is important in the context in the round. For example: "Their first contention says banning trade protects American jobs, but our New York Times evidence shows that since these jobs would've gone away anyway, affirming won't have any effect. You could believe their case, that banning trade will stop China from undercutting American workers, but those workers would be undercut in their world as well."
17. Let's say we are speaking first, and our 2nd speaker gives a 4 min rebuttal to their case. Then, their second speaker comes up and gives a 4 min rebuttal to our case, with zero frontlining at all. At that point, should 1st speaker solely focus on extending case args, collapsing and weighing, or should they mention, "hey look, my opponents haven't responded to what we said about their case being untrue"?
Many judges talk about defense in first summary because some feel it puts an unfair burden on the first-speaking team if the second summary doesn't interact with their arguments. If the first rebuttal makes a convincing case that banning trade with China won't help American jobs, but the second rebuttal doesn't address it, should the first summary have to repeat or extend that? What if the second-speaking team had three other contentions? It's unclear at that point where the second-speaking team is collapsing, so some judges give the first summary leeway in not extending defensive arguments made in the first rebuttal. However, that doesn't mean you should always neglect defense in that case. It can be important or strategic to talk about those arguments anyway, perhaps to emphasize that they were dropped, or to create a consistent message between the summary and final focus. Think about the downsides you'd incur, such as lost time that could be spent talking about other arguments, and think about whether it's worth it.
18. How do you generally structure summaries?
Unfortunately, this question is beyond the scope of a quick response here, but I'll provide a few links to strong summaries that you can learn from and observe how they're structured. Click on the link, it should open at the correct timestamp.
https://youtu.be/XT1pApNdTPI?t=1912: This is a more flay summary. Christian Brown begins by responding to the opposing case, then goes for two offensive arguments. Think about the strategic value of this ordering and of going for two different case arguments. (Both end up in the final focus.)
https://youtu.be/0U4eK4ucXfU?t=2107: Generally flow summary, very strong. Isabel Coleman starts with quick responses to the neg case, then gets onto what they consider to be most important, an overview read at the top of the aff case. They then get to their case.
https://youtu.be/mMLQhMxHt2E?t=1514: This is definitely a more technical summary. Ben Cheng also begins with responses to the opposing case, then goes onto frontlining and winning their own.
https://youtu.be/V6iAtadMaOM?t=1477: This is also a flow summary. Coming off a very quick second rebuttal, Manush Mobarhan starts by extending defense on the other case, then gets to their case arguments, and extends some weighing at the bottom. Apart from structure, this is a very efficient summary, which was all the more necessary when the speech was 2 minutes long.