The winners of last year’s inaugural 3NR Spirit of Disclosure Award—Bronx Science’s Zack Elias & Andrew Markoff—set a new standard for comprehensive disclosure in high school policy debate. Instead of posting only the tags, citations, and first-and-last words of the evidence they read in debates, Bronx disclosed the full text of their evidence on the NDCA Wiki. While others feared that doing so would put them at a competitive disadvantage, Zack and Andrew were pioneers that racked up an impressive array of accomplishments despite raising the bar for openness and transparency. By winning the NDCA Championships, reaching the quarterfinals of the TOC, and finishing fourth in the Baker Award standings, Bronx put to rest the notion that a top-tier team can’t stay competitive using an open-source-after-the-fact model.
On the heels of Bronx’s trend-setting approach to disclosure, many teams are now considering a move to full text disclosure. At the college level, Jarrod Atchison announced today that the Demon Deacons will be participating in the Wake Forest Open Source Project beginning with this weekend’s Georgia State tournament. Atchison’s announcement outlines the scope of the project:
At the conclusion of each tournament we attend this year, JP Lacy will post the full text of all cards read by Wake Forest University debaters. In this first version of the initiative, JP will not post the theory or analytic arguments made by the debaters just the evidence.
Wake is the first squad to formalize a procedure for full text disclosure but, as Atchison notes, “the Gonzaga caselist shows that other teams are already posting full text on the college caselist.”
At the high school level, many teams have begun to post the full text of at least some of their evidence (most commonly the 1AC) on the wiki. A few teams—most notably St. Mark’s, last year’s TOC finalists—have committed to full disclosure of all of their evidence.
While many have celebrated this move toward oppenness and transparency, others have expressed fears that this degree of disclosure will promote laziness as debaters cease conducting original research and simply “steal” cards from the wiki. Even if the effect is small and some original research is replaced by “wiki research”, are the benefits of full text disclosure worth the risk? Are students better served without this “shortcut”? Or should the community seek to move toward a new norm that encourages full text disclosure?
For those teams that do choose to disclose the full text of their evidence, I have used St. Mark’s as an example of the way the additional content should be organized. Instead of keeping all affirmative and negative disclosure on a single wiki page, the team’s main wiki page should be used as a springboard with links to specific affirmative and negative pages for each tournament. Teams wishing to experiment with this model are welcome to do so; organizing pages by argument type/genre, for example, might result in a more useful set of pages.
One thing that I encourage all teams who are disclosing the full text of their evidence to do is to maintain a round-by-round list of their negative strategies on their main page. Doing so allows others who are scouting the team to do so efficiently without digging through hundreds or even thousands of cards. If they need more information about a particular argument, they can then know which tournament’s page to view in order to track it down.
So: what do you think about full text disclosure? We haven’t had a good 3NR discussion in a few months so bring your “A” game and let’s get started.