Judging help

Judging is integral to this activity. Here are some resources to help people who are judging, and newer organizers or coaches. Additionally, if you're a debater with a parent who judges, make sure to add a paradigm on tabroom.


A judge's paradigm should reflect how they evaluate the round, and things they'd like to see/don't like to see. Most judges write about how they look at the round at the end, whether depending on impact weighing, evidence comparison, efficient extensions, etc. Write down any dislikes, such as rude behavior or speaking too quickly. Write down things you appreciate, like good signposting and jokes in crossfire. Judges should also include their level of debate experience - are they a coach who's debated for years, or a parent who's entirely new to debate? What you include helps debaters deliver a better round and adapt. For a nice template, visit the TOC website and download the judge philosophy template, first link on the page.

To access paradigms, go to tabroom, click on your email address at the top right, and click "paradigm" in the sidebar. There, you should edit your (or your parent's) paradigm to reflect their judging preferences. Here are some example paradigms I liked.

Mine: https://www.tabroom.com/index/paradigm.mhtml?judge_person_id=60245

Devesh Kodnani: https://www.tabroom.com/index/paradigm.mhtml?judge_person_id=15436

Eden Medina: https://www.tabroom.com/index/paradigm.mhtml?judge_person_id=33447

Jacqueline Wei: https://www.tabroom.com/index/paradigm.mhtml?judge_person_id=53935

Daniel Wang: https://www.tabroom.com/index/paradigm.mhtml?judge_person_id=26043

Judging guide

Before round

The number one piece of advice I can give to judges is to make your preferences clear. If you are explicit about what you want to see in the round, how they'll convince you, then at that point it's the debaters' job to convince you based on those preferences. Being unclear just means they'll take a suboptimal approach to winning your ballot, not a great way to have a good round. As long as you can achieve that, debaters really can't complain about your decision, it's their job to convince you who won, and not the other way around.

Evaluating rounds

You should try to look at the round impartially. What exactly happens when you affirm the resolution? Teams should make clear those effects, whether the pro side talking about the benefits of affirming and the con team explaining the harms. Teams should have done comparative analysis as to why their benefits are more important than their opponent's harms, or vice versa. Decide whether affirming or negating is the better option, and vote!

The ballot

As a competitor, write as much as possible about what led you to your decision. The most frustrating ballots aren't losing ones, but ones where the judge adds little to no feedback, explanation as to why they voted in that particular way. Anything that influenced your decision, maybe the conduct of one of the competitors, an argument made in the round, a choice made in one of the speeches, whatever brought you to your conclusion to affirm/negate the resolution, should be written down in the RFD. If you have feedback, maybe something individual debaters did that you liked/didn't like, or stuff you'd like to tell them about the round, you can leave it in the individual comments section.