Link Weighing

In many rounds, both teams will be making link comparison arguments, with an increasingly common argument focusing on how your argument can also cause the impacts or links of your opponent's. I'll be focusing on these methods of weighing in this page, but initially, contrast the effect of these arguments with the use of more common impact weighing arguments. An impact is really just a link into the ballot, something that the judge clearly wants to prevent or create, that leads them to vote for that side. If a team can't win a link chain into their final link into the ballot, they clearly lose all offense. Yet when both teams have a link into that final link level, the judge's vote, comparison must be done. If both teams could quantify exactly how many lives are saved by their final internal link before their impact, the judge's vote would be extremely easy - vote for the side that saves the most lives (barring some alternate framework introduced by a team). Yet that rarely happens, so teams weigh their "impact" (that's rarely terminalized in PF, since judges generally accept that economic growth is good or wars are bad). This is usually using metrics like probability or magnitude, and at all levels of competition from your local to TOC finals will make these arguments.

People can go back and forth about the function of these arguments within particular rounds, but let's just consider how these arguments work in a general situation. Think about an argument in a uniqueness-link-internal link-impact structure, with one team doing the basic weighing (e.g. my impact is bigger) comparing each side's impact. Assuming the other side can win that their link into that impact is more important, they gain access to that as well as the weighing done, subsuming their argument. (And if they can win a uniqueness weighing argument, that goes further!) Flow-wise, they have effectively gained control of the offense in the round, and perceptually, they've emphasized the importance of their specific arguments, and not just a generic-sounding impact. It's not impossible to come back from, as in TOC finals, in Jack's final focus, he responds to Sandeep's higher-level weighing before weighing his impacts, which ends up winning them the round. But in general, I think link-level or higher weighing arguments are underutilized and it's my hope that this will help you make smarter weighing arguments, and even weighing arguments about your weighing.

Let's establish some ways to make efficient, effective weighing arguments.

Weighing links

Weighing links goes beyond simply establishing a relationship between your argument and your opponent's. To actually weigh the link, explain not just that you and your opponents are now competing for an impact, but that your route to that impact is the better one. To do this, you're doing the same thing as weighing impacts (which is just weighing the effect of one of your links), stuff like probability, magnitude, timeframe, any reasons why your link has a bigger effect on the next link than your opponent's.

In this round, Daniel spends time in first rebuttal weighing their link into a recession. After re-establishing their links into a recession, they then weigh those links beginning around 12:09. Daniel explains why the recession link on their side is stronger than the one the aff has established, both on magnitude and timeframe. Winning this means the neg will gain a stronger link into the aff's case than the aff themselves, illustrating why strong link weighing is crucial.


Uniqueness arguments analyze the status quo, especially the direction of impacts or links, and implicates that to different arguments. This is especially good for binary impacts like war or recessions, and for arguments where both teams have the same impact scenario (but you should be making uniqueness analysis on this anyway), and less effective for linear arguments (while it's possible to use uniqueness analysis, but it's less effective at mooting their offense). Essentially, the aff will argue that the status quo is getting worse and we should reverse that trend, while the neg will argue that the status quo is getting better and should be maintained. Read more here.

For an example, look to this round, specifically MSJ's rebuttal starting at 13:00. (This is actually an example of uniqueness meta-weighing, a comparison between the different link-level arguments each side makes.) Note the structure of the overview. Devesh begins by clarifying where their agreement lies - the impact of effective policy - then continues by explaining why their link - political trust - is more important. By first establishing how their link subsumes their opponent's, Devesh has made adequate link weighing, which after the likely link weighing from Nueva, could get muddled. Weighing the uniqueness of the arguments is a way to weigh the link-level weighing mechanisms given, by analyzing how strong the effect of the resolution will be on each side's argument.


Timeframe weighing comes into play when there are two causal relationships between links that teams establish. Say one team has link A and the other has link B; if one says "A prevents B from ever happening, thus A outweighs" and the other says "B prevents A from ever happening, thus B outweighs," the judge has no way to evaluate that, but one side can make analysis about timeframe. If one of those causal relationships can trigger before the other does, then that side's weighing happens and the circular arguments get resolved. (This is a specific way to weigh links, but it's increasingly important as teams make comparative link arguments.)

Here is a theoretical example of how weighing can be improved by applying these methods.

Insufficient Weighing

In your case, you read your REMs case, and your opponent reads a case arguing UNCLOS's restrictions would constrain the US's hard power, letting China expand in the South China Sea. In rebuttal, you get up and read a weighing overview stating that allowing deep-sea mining would increase the US's economic activity, generating tax revenue that prevents budget cuts to the US military. Satisfied, you proudly assert that voting for you is the best way to gain access to your opponent's hard power argument, and move on.

While you've made an argument that a link between your argument and your opponent's exists, that's not enough to actually win the weighing. Your tax revenue argument may identify a relationship between deep-sea mining and military strength, but is that really the strongest link into the US's hard power? Just identifying that your argument has some degree of relationship with your opponent's is insufficient to winning that it's the best way to vote in the round, as the judge is left with voting for a strong link into climate change and a minor, ineffectual link into hard power, or a strong link into hard power. If your opponent did impact weighing, or if the judge just likes their impact better, your opponents are winning regardless of your link weighing.

Through different ways to resolve weighing, you could have made this round much clearer for the judge, making it an easy aff ballot.

Weighing links

Why is your link more important than your opponent's link? Remember, the point of weighing is to give the judge a way to decide between two arguments if they're both won. Rather than having to choose between two unweighed arguments about mining and hard power, however, they're now deciding between two unweighed arguments about tax revenue and legal restrictions. Your link exists, now weigh it. In what ways are overall military budget cuts more important than legal restrictions? For one, they affect all parts of the military, not just one branch in a few areas of the ocean. Additionally, if you can make specific analysis of what exactly gets cut, which you should do anyway to make your argument contextualized and clarify what the judge is voting for, you can weigh that specific decrease that's coming in the status quo. (This weighing isn't great, probably not the biggest link into military power. Should try something else.)

Timeframe analysis

Timeframe analysis can be applied here. Perhaps you have evidence saying companies are ready to mine right now, and the US would get the tax revenue right when the first drills hit the seabed (probably untrue, but for the sake of the exercise). If that triggers first, it stops your opponent's impact before they can read their own links into your argument, perhaps one saying that a sea war would destroy investor confidence in sea mining. As long as your link is faster, you preclude them before they can preclude you.

Uniqueness analysis

As an addition to your initial link into your opponent's argument, you can make uniqueness arguments to win a risk of offense on the impact. If reductions in hard power are inevitable, their China expansion arguments will happen even if you negate. Yet if you can prove you reverse that currently inevitable reduction in hard power, your opponent's arguments of China expanding are going to happen anyway, barring them having very very specific brink evidence (which most teams will never have). Thus,


Teams' arguments are increasingly interacting on the link level, even when they're initially talking about completely different issues. However, just establishing that interaction exists isn't sufficient to win you rounds. Further analysis than "we have a link into this argument" is necessary, to establish "we have the best link into this argument." Not making this solid weighing is a big reason rounds become quite muddled on the weighing level, even when teams make arguments.

Make sure you're weighing well. I hope this article helped, and if you have any suggestions to it, submit it at this form.