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Author Topic: Future of debate tabulation  (Read 5764 times)
glarson
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Posts: 477


« on: November 19, 2013, 08:21:19 AM »

Many of you know that I have been agonizing for a long time regarding my future role in debate tournament management.  On Easter Sunday I wrote a lengthy cedaforum post that described my angst and my reasons for staying engaged with the activity (for more context I suggest re-reading it).  In the intevening eight months the tensions have only gotten worse, making my continued involvement increasingly untenable.

After the events surrounding Kentucky and Harvard, I prepared for the Wake tournament with a significant amount of concern but with a mandate to implement a number of goals posed first by the Wake "experiment" and then the modifications we actually adopted.  I had just about convinced myself that I had to stay engaged given my wealth of experience managing all kinds of judge placement algorithms, the ability to modify or write new ones if necessary and because I still seem to engender a significant amount of personal goodwill.  But I've quickly disabused myself of any "messiah complex."  While I appreciate the fact that students and coaches treat me graciously, the system that I've created and manage is viewed by members of both sides of our divide(s) as being a principal source of their concern.  And if not a source, it is widely viewed as exacerbating the problems.  On both the left and the right (very unfortunate terms), MPJ as encoded in my algorithms and implemented in the tabrooms that I run is viewed as disadvantaging their opportunity to participate fully and fairly in our activity.

I could defend MPJ as simply a tool and a very flexible one at that, but I can't pretend that there is some magic setting or combination of settings that would permit us to simultaneously meet all of our competing and often contradictory goals.  And for that matter, I would also express extreme doubt that some proposed alternative, whether it be random with strikes, random with mutuality, affirmative action placement, a return to 4, 6 or 9 categories or even manual placement by an "enlightened" tabroom can succeed in simultaneously accomplishing all of the objectives that various members of our community would want to achieve.  As I noted in the session before the tournament, even though I got a degree in AI, technological solutions often can't be provided for what are ultimately human problems.

So absent some flash of lightning or voice from above, Wake will be my last tournament.  Since I've made prior commitments to ADA Nats and CEDA Nats, I won't renege if the tournament directors can't make suitable alternative arrangements (they've both been contacted earlier).  For the immediate future, I anticipate continuing to provide support to Bruschke and Palmer for the code that I have embedded in CAT.  I will also continue to support for those in the NPDA and NPTE community that use versions of STA.  But I anticipate that as the community has a frank discussion of how judging should best be assigned, new tools will be created to support that vision.

I want to thank everyone who has been unfailingly gracious and appreciative during the 40+ years that I've been in the activity and particularly the last 28 that I've been running tournaments on computer.  During that time, I've observed many times when the death of policy debate was predicted.  I trust that persons of goodwill will come together and produce a shared vision for the future of debate that is genuinely inclusive and which trains our students to become effective public advocates in whatever sphere of influence they engage.  I wish you all well.
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neil berch
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Posts: 153


« Reply #1 on: November 19, 2013, 08:58:41 AM »

Gary:  I'm stunned, as I'm sure many are, though we shouldn't be.  I just re-read your Easter post, and I suggest that others do so as well, not just for context, but because it contains some profound thoughts.  You have indeed done a great deal to help meet often contradictory goals, and your technology has, I think, helped to overcome some of our human failings (though, as you point out, no tab system can do everything we might want it to do).  And you've done it all with a grace and professionalism that we should all model.  Thank you!
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Ermo
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Posts: 243


« Reply #2 on: November 19, 2013, 10:08:08 AM »

I want to echo Neil's kind words. I spoke with Gary at length this weekend about his decision, and he made it clear he would remain through CEDA if an alternative was not located. I promised I would make a good faith effort to locate one, and I plan to address the question in the President's Report at next Sunday's CEDA meeting.

This is a loss for NDT-CEDA. Gary's work on tabulation, and his impeccable integrity, have been immensely helpful for the NDT-CEDA community. Collectively, he has been asked to play a huge role by all sides in our current differences of future vision. We've asked more from him than it is fair to ask from anyone, and he has helped us well beyond the call of duty.

As Gordon Stables noted on NDTCEDA Traditions about a week ago, we are heading into some difficult dialogues about our collective future, and whether the strong preferences of various sections of the community can be reconciled into a single vision going forward. That dialogue has been going on for years, but I believe the events so far this fall mean that the next several months will be very important for our activity. It's my earnest hope that the contributions of community leaders, such as Gary in his tabroom role, and Jarrod Atchison/Wake Debate in their amazing hospitality (which remind us of the sense of community which unifies us across differences) will serve as examples for all over the coming months. While our differences are quite real, they should remind us that love of debate and care for students are factors which unify us. If we can hold their examples in our hearts, we will be well served as we proceed.

Ermo
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tcram
Full Member
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Posts: 167


« Reply #3 on: November 19, 2013, 10:46:47 AM »

It has been extremely frustrating to watch this season unfold having to sit on the sidelines and watch. I don't have the resources right now to weigh in on the difficult issues (many of which were excellently presaged in that Easter post, which I still remember quite well) we are facing, but I do also want to echo the thanks for Gary and all that he has done.  His worked helped make my squad's participation in debate AS a very small, resource-strapped squad a little bit easier and I am enormously grateful for it.  Thank you.
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Adam Symonds
Sr. Member
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Posts: 354


« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2013, 12:32:02 PM »

Gary, you've done more for debate than most folks can really grasp. Thanks for all the years of dedication and tireless effort. Thanks for making tabulation the very best it could be in debate. It's a very sad day to see you walking away, but your decision is understandable.
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justinwkirk
Newbie
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Posts: 14


« Reply #5 on: November 19, 2013, 04:01:36 PM »

A very sad day for everyone in this activity.  Sacrifice, hard work, dedication, genius, giant, man, myth, legend - these words are too small to describe the debt we owe you as a community.  Your service to the community will never be forgotten nor surpassed.
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AaronKall23
Newbie
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Posts: 14


« Reply #6 on: November 19, 2013, 04:33:50 PM »

I'm very sorry to hear about this.  Thanks for all that you have done for this activity over the years- you will be greatly missed.

Aaron
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snelling101
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Posts: 15


« Reply #7 on: November 20, 2013, 02:58:42 PM »

For quick reference - http://www.cedadebate.org/forum/index.php/topic,4747.msg10171.html#msg10171
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