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Author Topic: Topic Ballot  (Read 23272 times)
antonucci23
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Posts: 138


« Reply #30 on: June 07, 2012, 09:16:43 AM »

Of course you all don't have time to respond to my actual concerns and of course I have nothing to offer and of course I don't care about the community:  I am a gay black man voicing complaints about the core of its identity.

Both of you should check yourself.  I find it unnecessary and unproductive to respond to the substance of what you said because it wasn't substantive.


I identified an area of agreement.  I then identified a potential area of disagreement.  I admitted that I was not fleshing out that area of disagreement.  At some point, you know, I have to do other things.  I therefore acknowledged that I might be too brief.

I think your reading of my post is very unfair.  I largely agreed with you?  I get the sense I'm being pre-scripted into a role that you might want a different actor to play.
« Last Edit: June 07, 2012, 09:21:31 AM by antonucci23 » Logged
Hester
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« Reply #31 on: June 07, 2012, 09:34:39 AM »

 I get the sense I'm being pre-scripted into a role that you might want a different actor to play.

i'm currently adapting a musical version of the tv show "Happy Days" for the stage - with you playing all the roles. i think it has Tony potential. i'll bring a rough draft to the GSU tournament.
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antonucci23
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Posts: 138


« Reply #32 on: June 07, 2012, 09:48:23 AM »

My point is that no one wants to address the racism, sexism and heteronormativity that is inherent in the topic process and in debate.  You can dismiss it as a link of omission, as a k without an alternative or as an argument without a specific evidenced link.

I did have an argument about this.

No matter how you manage to dismiss my concerns, they have certainly been dismissed and replaced by personal attacks on me as if that makes the community less racist, sexist or heteronormative and not more.

I neither dismissed your concerns nor attacked you personally.  Did I?

This happens whenever I raise these concerns.  

This quote makes me feel a bit pre-scripted.  I think I said different things than your expectation, which is why this conversation is going oddly off script.

The only person who should take any of these posts personally is me.  Now, let the ceda forum lynching continue...

If I personally attacked you or did anything analogous, please let me know and I'd hope to apologize.

It's unbelievable to me that you all rush to defend the topic against charges of bad grammar but are silent against charges of racism, sexism and heteronormativity.  It's unbelievable to me that others can criticize the topic without it being deemed a personal attack on hard workers.  It's unbelievable to me that every time I post something about the community you all turn around and attack me.  I'm sorry I have bigger concerns than commas and division of ground.

I am not interested in fighting with any of you.  I am interested in making debate more fair for anyone who lives outside the limits that you all have set. 

Since you posted your concerns this morning, you are positing an hour gap as silence.  That seems like a short timeframe.

I also did respond, largely agreed or at least acknowledged your concerns, and I'm not sure at this point if that led to much engagement.
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SCOTUS
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Posts: 33


« Reply #33 on: June 07, 2012, 11:27:26 AM »

Quote from: rwevans
This happens whenever I raise these concerns.  The only person who should take any of these posts personally is me.  Now, let the ceda forum lynching continue...

Melodramatic hyperbole like this is inflammatory and ridiculous. For someone trying to make debate better, you sure know how to alienate everyone who might possibly agree with you.
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Malgor
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Posts: 220


« Reply #34 on: June 07, 2012, 01:11:42 PM »

I fail to see the accountability here.  Exactly how is the committee accountable?  There is no recourse outside of voting for a new person after a few years, and given that there is almost always a majority consensus on the committee for these train wrecks, it would be very hard to mobilize to change things.  For example, these resolutions won't be changed despite the large amount of criticism (and from what I heard there was plenty in the room as well as outside of it). 

I don't think the committee is really accountable for much any more.  In fact, everyone keeps pulling out the "criticism is inevitable" play in order to ignore said criticism when possible, and even people who do criticize constantly add that they understand the job is thankless etc etc.  From where I stand, the job isn't that thankless-there is one overwhelming benefit to being on the topic committee and it plays out every year-you get to craft the resolution that YOU want.  The best part is that since there are some people who agree with any side of an issue (there are some who want ff, some who don't want demo promo, some who don't like comprehensive immigration reform etc), it can always be considered a representative decision.  However, if you look at what usually happens on the committee, and I observed this first-hand when I was on the committee, it's really a bunch of individuals who are try as hard as they can to get the topic THEY want.  And frankly why shouldn't they?  There certainly isn't any other benefit to being on the committee.

I think abolishing the topic committee is not as radical as people suggest.  The lengthened nature of the process and the addition of the controversy paper, to me, means that we could reform the process to allow the controversy paper authors to write a slate of resolutions, with deadlines for input/discussion on the forums, followed by revisions.  Go through one or two rounds of this and then produce a ballot.  To ensure you have a well supported topic, you increase guidelines for the controversy papers (requirements for key terms of art etc). 

But as someone who always wants to contribute, it's very depressing.  I understand I have a personality that doesn't come off professional enough at all times, but damn it's disheartening to read all those article, present that peer reviewed evidence and have it thrown out the door because of nebulous fears of bidirectionality or a topic with god forbid more than 4 affirmatives.  I actually wasted hours of my life finding qualified authors to literally say what affs were at the core of renewables commercialization, since I know no one would take my word for it.  Unfortunately, the literature is hardly a guide for topics anymore.  The fears of how debate will look in march of the next year trump any consideration of accessing key academic literature in these areas. 

What i find most sad is the view on topicality in these discussions.  As Jonah pointed out, in modern debate the limiting interpretation almost always wins the day in an actual debate....yet for some reason when the committee is confronted with a term of art that might be 'big', they assume the opposite.  I was told "financial incentives" was going to be a massive term of art...yet I have no doubt someone will find a sweet interp that limits it to a few affs, and that will carry the day.

And I'm sorry, but I have now heard more than one person basically say that the resolutions "could be worse" or that it's going to be OK because debate won't die.  Well if that's our minimum standard for a topic then why not go with my idea and abolish the committee on a trial basis.  I guarantee you that outcome would lead to resolutions that 'coulda been worse' and that 'debate won't die.'

Of course this will never happen because people run for CEDA office etc etc in order to construct the resolutions.  Democracy and accountability go hand-in-hand, and I don't see the accountability here. Well, I guess i do in the most minimal sense in that we do know who to blame....but this isn't like any other form of democracy where you can kick people out or amend/change the outcome.  We are always stuck with the outcome and by the time we do it again it's been a year and memories fade.  Everyone is conflating openness and transparency with accountability but that's not how this one works. I'm not targeting a specific person here, but this isn't an isolated incident. 

I think that Gordon has refined the controversy process and that further refinements mean the committee is no longer necessary.  You can have accountability on the forums, for a limited number of topic authors, and plenty of input and revisions.  You could even add a community vote that allows further refinements if the ballot was awful....something we can't do now.  And as educators....nevermind....a talk for another time i suppose.
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Ermo
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« Reply #35 on: June 07, 2012, 02:13:31 PM »

....we could reform the process to allow the controversy paper authors to write a slate of resolutions, with deadlines for input/discussion on the forums, followed by revisions.  Go through one or two rounds of this and then produce a ballot.  To ensure you have a well supported topic, you increase guidelines for the controversy papers (requirements for key terms of art etc). 

This proposal reminds me of the "make every TC slot at-large" proposal, except the TC would be of varying size and would be elected as a slate (not as individuals) based on whether they were invited to co-author the winning CV paper. Under such a process, I suspect the identity of the CV paper authors would play a larger role in the voting process than the actual content of the CV paper. Would the deliberation process be live/telecast, or would it be a private TC meeting where the rest of the community can see the outcome but not the process?

From my perspective, concerns about the TC are concerns about persuasion - was an argument made persuasive to a majority of the TC? Was the reason that the TC did or did not act on an argument persuasive to those who made the argument (or agreed with it)? Just because the answer will always be "no" in some cases, it doesn't mean that there is zero accountability within a TC process. The fact that some TC members (and some who were party to the live discussion) are responding on these forums is, itself, a form of accountability.

Similar persuasion concerns arise, incidentally, when judging debates. However, there are tens of thousands of debates each year (and MPJ), so it should not be surprising that there are stronger community norms about judging. Thus, another productive path might be to develop more community-approved guidelines for how the TC should act. I suspect such guidelines would be similar to current practice (as I think the criticism is often about whether the outcome matches individual outcome preferences).

There are sometimes 'philosophy' disputes during the TC process, and if there is strong community support for any given statement (such as 'limiting terms should only be used when a specific objectionable affirmative case is suggested AND clear inclusion-exclusion definitions are identified'), then the TC should rely on that statement. It would be easier to evaluate the TC's performance against community expectations if those expectations were codified through clear language, and if each of those expectations was supported by a majority vote. Of course, the community expectations for the TC also vary over time, so it may be necessary to revise such statements every year or two.
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Malgor
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« Reply #36 on: June 07, 2012, 04:46:37 PM »

it would be on the forums.  you create structured dates-resolutions are presented, then left open for discussion on the forums-you go through this 2 or 3 times.  I don't think people will choose entire topic areas based on authors.  That seems rather silly-perceived benefits of topic area will always trump. 

The topic process in general doesn't remain loyal to academic debate because it too often drifts away from an understanding of where academic research is on a given issue.  The larger concern is always limits limits limits, a concern I'm very sympathetic with but that is often played out in the resolutions in ways entirely counter to both empirical in-season evolution of topics...the committee too often just delves into a giant pre-season T debate.  To many these seems intuitive....to others it seems secondary.
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Ermo
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« Reply #37 on: June 07, 2012, 06:21:46 PM »

Not convinced, but intrigued.

it would be on the forums.  you create structured dates-resolutions are presented, then left open for discussion on the forums-you go through this 2 or 3 times.  I don't think people will choose entire topic areas based on authors.  That seems rather silly-perceived benefits of topic area will always trump. 

I think authors would be VERY interesting if they really ended up being the TC. Surely with 11 CV papers, there were not HUGE gaps in preference between each rank, right? I'm not saying #1 becomes #11, etc - but maybe #2 becomes #5, etc. If the question of WHO occupies the TC is important enough to propose amendments about it, it doesn't seem 'silly' to me to imagine it is important enough to also influence votes over substance.

If I wrote a paper under this system, it would definitely help my paper's chances to line up a bunch of co-authors who I suspect would have done well in at-large elections. I can imagine a similar rationale for declining co-authorship offers, although that might be awkward.

The topic process in general doesn't remain loyal to academic debate because it too often drifts away from an understanding of where academic research is on a given issue.  The larger concern is always limits limits limits, a concern I'm very sympathetic with but that is often played out in the resolutions in ways entirely counter to both empirical in-season evolution of topics...the committee too often just delves into a giant pre-season T debate.  To many these seems intuitive....to others it seems secondary.

All the people who turn the TC into a giant topicality debate still get to speak, right? If so, how do you stop them from making the same kinds of arguments?

I do think there would be differences in the composition of the discussion, though. Here are some I would expect:
1. More time to explore certain topics (except for the ones which come up not long before a deadline - which could be most)
2. A higher percentage of the discussion from people with more time to post. Some people find it easier to set aside their lives for 2-3 days of TC than to closely follow what might end up being thousands of posts in several threads over perhaps several weeks.
3. A less cordial discussion. Although the CEDA forums are considerably more respectful than edebate was, face to face can encourage civility as well. This may also implicate #2 to some extent.
4. A tendency to defer to those who are most determined to dig in on something - perhaps out of exhaustion? I think there are some lines of discussion at the TC which could rage for hours, except that our chair is good at refocusing the discussion (and those disputes could spill over to the CEDA forums if the disputants wished, anyway). The refocusing means we don't have to outwait a filibuster before acting.
5. The desire for a narrowing process might happen more than the CV paper stage than the TC stage - particularly if narrowing after the CV paper vote became unlikely.

I'm still unclear on the decision making process at the end. Let's say that you propose price/quality, and the same arguments are made for/against it and for/against 'financial incentives.' In the SQ, the TC eventually voted - three times. There were maybe 25 such votes over the weekend  - some by consensus, but many had votes on both sides. Who eventually votes in your system - the topic authors as the TC? The broader community? I actually think the CEDA forum threads you describe could happen inside the current process, so I assume the crux of your position is more about who is on the TC than who gets to speak...

A few bigger picture questions..

Do you imagine/hope we would end up with topics which included every big affirmative in the CV area?

Would we find ways to keep the big aff's in but the less predictable (non-central to the literature) aff's out?

Should every "big" literature-based aff be in?

Did the TC err this year by allowing topics 1-4 as options, since they exclude big aff's in renewables beyond solar/wind, and perhaps some big aff's in transportation?
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ScottyP
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« Reply #38 on: June 07, 2012, 08:59:38 PM »

I feel like I can speak for Malcolm since he is my gimp.

In my view its not a question of who votes as much as the process that goes into what gets voted on. A camel is a horse made by committee- a topic that is authored from a single vision imo will usually be better. So in my mind the process would work something like this


Weekend prior to the NDT0 4-5 page proposal is due. People can discuss at NDT.

Weds after NDT- school based vote on however many number of proposals there are, top X advance.


Month to write a fleshed out paper with a final rez proposal.

Vote. You could maybe do 2 rounds after the NDT and have a vote May15 or so and then a vote June 15 or whatever if need be. People can argue all they want on edebate but ultimately the author makes a call on how the topic looks and then the market decides. 
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V I Keenan
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« Reply #39 on: June 08, 2012, 09:23:43 PM »

The topic paper timeline of being due at the national tournament times was something we've moved away from to increase the ability of more people to participate in writing the topic papers themselves (paper submissions seem to bear this out).  I'm note sure bringing it back helps us. You would be asking people to finish papers on other topics at one of the most intense times of the year already for debate work.

That aside, if you were to go ahead with that proposal, the discussion should be at CEDA, not the NDT.  Besides the fact that the constitutions are bylaws are written to accept the CEDA topic and the fact that as everyone has pointed out CEDA has historically assumed the logistical cost, that would make the most sense from a participation standpoint.  Also, CEDA historically had a topic discussion on the agenda in year's past - the NDT schedule itself doesn't have a precedent for that. 

No one is prevented from participating in CEDA as a program, whereas less than 80 teams, and honestly less than 60 programs are ALLOWED to compete in the NDT because of the qualifier process.  If I propose a topic paper, why should I be forced to go to a tournament my school CAN'T participate in and can't be spun into a competitive opportunity (also, if you show up, they have the by-laws to draft you into the judge pool functionally).  You can't even show up and watch the NDT without discussions of an observer fee.  It makes little logistical sense. 

Honestly, my concerns for the topic have nothing to do with if the finals of the NDT have "ground".  My concerns are the debates the 40 members of my squad are actually going to have, particularly the 20-30 novices we have a year, and how their debates are going to go.  That means things like explainability and accessibility and not have them run into back file deficits as JV debaters by default.  The topic is a starting point for all of our debates, even the ones that push the boundaries of what it means to be topical or resolutional.  And ultimately, I think that these concerns are of low priority to most others, but it might make me feel we're just the tiniest bit less marginalized if the proposal were referencing the organization whose championships are actually open to everyone and have actively tried to recognize non-open levels of debate - because the topic belongs to everyone, not just the open teams or the first round contenders.
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ScottyP
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Posts: 52


« Reply #40 on: June 08, 2012, 10:29:24 PM »

The paper isn't due at the NDT, a short synopsis is. I'll leave ceda vs the ndt to the hypothetical group that will never exist to consider this proposal that will never happen.
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Hester
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Posts: 153


« Reply #41 on: June 09, 2012, 12:22:39 PM »

I feel like I can speak for Malcolm since he is my gimp.
In my view its not a question of who votes as much as the process that goes into what gets voted on. A camel is a horse made by committee- a topic that is authored from a single vision imo will usually be better. So in my mind the process would work something like this
Weekend prior to the NDT0 4-5 page proposal is due. People can discuss at NDT.
Weds after NDT- school based vote on however many number of proposals there are, top X advance
Month to write a fleshed out paper with a final rez proposal.
Vote. You could maybe do 2 rounds after the NDT and have a vote May15 or so and then a vote June 15 or whatever if need be. People can argue all they want on edebate but ultimately the author makes a call on how the topic looks and then the market decides. 

ScottyP, your idea is very similar to the model i discussed on Odekirk's website and later in emails with Stables. Gordon liked the idea and thinks the necessary changes to the process can be made within the current bylaws and policies governing CEDA. i will continue to flesh out the basic idea. i think this is something that can be implemented for next year.
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repko
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Posts: 108


« Reply #42 on: June 09, 2012, 03:17:27 PM »

....umm...requesting that we back up the truck for a moment.

there were many ideas that Scotty P and Malgor floated -- and it's unclear to me from Hester's latest post whether Hester (and possibly Stables -- according to the post) are interested in the most-extreme ideas that have been placed on the table. Thus, I will hold off thorough reaction until we know the details of what changes are "under consideration within the bylaws".

That said, the basic force behind Malgor/Phillips idea is to *ban the Topic Committee*...   

Hester -- should we read your post to mean *that* is being seriously entertained ?...

...if your ideas for reform fall-short of completely banning the TC, do you subscribe to the Phillips/Malgor notion that the TC mangles most of what it touches and should thus play a far smaller role ?..

please clarify.

 -- Will









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stables
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Posts: 334


« Reply #43 on: June 09, 2012, 03:53:58 PM »

I am interested in engaging folks who are offering ideas about how to:

1) Generate more wording papers
2) Greater community interest and engagement in the wording process.

I am always interested in improving the process and Mike has started a dialogue. He has ideas about reconsidering the wording work in a way that would more openly encourage parts of the community and committee to present their views of specific proposed wordings. Presently we encourage community based wording papers and the committee divides up the task of the whole set of wordings. I will let Mike discuss his ideas, but I do think there is a worthwhile conversation to have about how differing perspectives about wording papers can be presented at the meetings.

I am willing to discuss these and others in the coming months because they fall under how we change the basic way we currently develop topics. I am open to any individual and anyone who has ideas that fall within this set of tasks. You can post them here or backchannel me at stables at gmail if you prefer a different forum.

Ultimately, any reforms to even committee practice will be posted and discussed.

As I keep repeating, many of the more dramatic ideas  (such as changing the committee composition, changing what we consider to be appropriate topics for debate, dramatically changing the dates for beginning the process, etc) are perfectly fair subjects for community discussion, but they can only be approved by formal amendment. This process, for example, would be needed to add a graduate student committee representative. In other words, they are not something that I as the chair have any control over. All proposals should be submitted via the cedabate.org website and will then be part of the fall (NCA) meeting agenda. All items passed at that meeting go to a full community ballot. Schools not present at NCA can cast proxy votes.
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Gordon Stables
Assistant Dean for Student Affairs
Director of Debate & Forensics
Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism
University of Southern California
Malgor
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Posts: 220


« Reply #44 on: June 10, 2012, 10:58:18 AM »

will, i don't like the phrasing of ban the topic committee.  It's more....the topic committee is not needed.  We can have a process without a committee that gives us at least the same quality of topics.  I have no doubt about this whatsoever-and as far as 'democracy' goes, my idea wouldn't be different for 99 percent of the community in practice because 99 percent of us have no veto power or vote over the resolutions placed on the ballot anyway.

malgor
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