Reader Q-Speech Doc Ethics

I recieved the following email from a reader on a subject I feel strongly about so I wanted to post the answer here.


At a debate at the Glenbrooks a team got angry with me for having several, maybe 6 or so, cards in the 2AC speech document that I didn’t read, and to be fair it was at least 1 per block. The way I usually organize blocks is with debate synergy headers, and I just transfer the whole block over to the speech doc. Do you think this is a problem/if it is, what do you think is a good solution?


Another similar problem is that teams will like, answer an add on that was in a 2AC speech doc that I didn’t get to… is this something that needs to be addressed in CX/after 2AC should I tell them/just explain that in the 1AR. Seems a bit awkward when teams spend a minute of reading asteroids defense against a non-existent add on.”


Answer to 1- The other team should flow. Period. They should know what you read, this isn’t an issue just with paperless debate. When debating on paper people would bring up more than they got to or just read 1 card of a page with multiple cards etc. It’s the other teams responsibility to pay attention. Usually when I say something like this someone will say “but the other team could add a million things to the speech doc to confuse us/waste our time”. True, but someone debating off paper could bring a million extra sheets up to confuse you as well. They dont because it makes finding what they DO want to read harder. And if you have a good flow you can sift through things pretty quickly. If it’s really a problem start of CX by saying “mark what you read” and get a new speech doc. This should take under a minute. Judges have a problem with this when debaters want time like this to not come from cx/prep but instead to be “free” time, and rightly so. This should come from the team who didn’t give the speeches prep since they are the ones who need clarification. “But now they are wasting our prep…” Flow. You can win 99% of your debates by preparing in advance and flowing well WITHOUT ever reading the other teams evidence so quit complaining.


As for part 2 I think there are really 2 answers. From a strict “fairness” perspective I don’t think you are under any obligation to assist the other team when they make a mistake. Again, flow. But there is also the “don’t be a douche” standard, and from that perspective you saying “didn’t read that” would certainly help your debate karma. So chosing between the 2 is a personal choice, and I would probably decide based on the other team- if they were bad at debate or nice I would tell them. If it was a competitive round and they were jerks I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it.


9 thoughts on “Reader Q-Speech Doc Ethics

  1. Josh Gonzalez

    I judge a lot of debates and I swear, this is becoming a problem in an increasing number of rounds. I have literally zero sympathy. Zero. None. Flow. The whole debate. Seriously. I have anti-sympathy. Arrrgh. Flow.

  2. keysalemass913

    Why flow? No one does it, it distracts from really "feeling" the arguments…really just a pointless activity.

    1. RyanCMarcus

      I often do try to feel the argument before I give a 2AC… it's what Obi-Wan would've wanted.

      (but for those of us without extensive training in the ways of the Jedi, I'll stick to flowing to make sure I don't drop things.)

  3. DavidKP

    on the mark what you read portion, whats the best way to deal with teams who "forget" to mark where they stopped on a particular card during speech without eating CX time and getting everyone getting frustrated?

    1. Scottyp4313nr

      I think it is reasonable if debater A needs to mark things they forgot to mark during the speech that it take their prep time, not the other teams.

  4. bHandBender

    I really agree with Scott's original analysis.

    If you are flowing (i.e. paying attention to the speaker) then you know what the other team read and didn't read. And just like any debate, paperless or not, if you miss arguments due to lack of attention or flowing skills, it SHOULD be your responsibility to take prep or CX time and ask your opponents.

    That being said, if you miss something on the flow, or there is confusion of what was read due to lack of clarity from your opponent, this becomes a strategic decision depending on whether you think the judge was similarly confused, or if again you want to use your own prep or CX to clarify.

    Now, I think there is a big difference between skipping a card in a block, or not getting the last thing in a F/L, due to time constraints and then letting your opponents know this when you hand over the paper or jump drive–VERSUS–reading evidence, and excessively hiding this evidence in pages (digital or paper) of unread evidence or answers.

    Lastly, I agree with DavidKP ad Scottyp, if a judge is going to run time while teams "mark" unread sections of evidence, this time should be taken from the unfinished card's team, but I don't see this happening often practically. When I see this it is un-timed in that grey area between the speech and CX or it just becomes part of the CX or prep of the team asking where the card should be marked. But again, if you flowed and listened well, you probably wouldn't need to ask.

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