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Author Topic: what is the history of disclosure norms  (Read 4256 times)
Full Member
Posts: 220

« on: March 02, 2010, 01:14:48 PM »

Hi all.

There are a lot of trends and norms in debate that we don't know the full historical context of. 

I am wondering a few things:

What time period did the disclosure norms of the Aff giving a plan text and advantages develop in?

What was the general thinking/justification at the time (what problems was lack of disclosure creating)?

can someone provide a brief timeline for previous forms of disclosure (practices we don't have now, but did have in the past.  for instance, i have heard there was a time in CEDA when the negative disclosed).

Oh, and which organizations did these trends develop in?  CEDA or NDT?

I know there are plenty of you out in debate land who were coaching or debating during the time period when these trends emerged.  This discussion seems useful to me.  Please share your knowledge!

Full Member
Posts: 224

« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2010, 01:25:46 PM »

ndt: aff plan disclosure--i coached at usc from 89-92 but i don't really remember what we did then.

i debated and coached ceda from 83-89; i don't remember teams disclosing during that period of time.

negs disclosed in ceda from about 94 to 97.

i used to prep out our 2ac's against the neg arguments we knew they were going to present.

the idea was, more disclosure equal better debating. it was also some great teaching/coaching times.

the reason neg disclosure ended as far as i could tell:

affs were disclosing their plan late making neg strats hard to provide

negs were too constrained by disclosing--they couldn't adjust their strategy after hearing the details of the aff

negs felt it was too aff biased--which it probably was (remember this was pre total-k debates and pics were just starting to pick up steam)


jim hanson Smiley
seattle u debate forensics speech rhetoric
Full Member
Posts: 243

« Reply #2 on: March 02, 2010, 05:50:56 PM »

My pre-history is CEDA side; SMS switched to NDT in 1995, one year before the merger. I felt that affirmative disclosure was pretty widely accepted in the NDT when we switched.

The negative-disclosure question was a constant discussion through the mid and late 1990s. The shift to debating clearly policy topics helped kill it, because it basically foreclosed running arguments that hinged on CX questions about how the plan worked. For awhile, there were teams who would disclose their affirmative ONLY when the negative promised to disclose the negative, and there were tensions created by last minute changes in negative strategy.

I recall some disclosure as a debater in the late 1980s, but it was NOT a norm so much as a courtesy extended among friends. There wasn't much research completed in hotels, either, given the lack of access to Lexis or other electronic sources. I recall Lexis hitting the CEDA community like a tidal wave in 1991-1992. Some young UMKC teams beat some of the top teams in the country largely due to the recency advantage of having day old cards, and most programs had arranged Lexis access within a year or two.

I believe that disclosure grew into a a norm because of (a) the relatively easy availability of information - I could walk across campus and ask your prior opponent or judge, but that's time intensive and (b) the imbalances of selective disclosure. I agree with Jim that the belief it created better debates was a major driving force, and the question has often been how to balance that with competitive interests and tragedies of the commons.

I think that a lot of mini negative disclosure norms of the present (what politics impacts have you run this tournament? what kritiks?) have evolved out of this balancing act - easily located information is viewed as having a low disclosure cost, while difficult or impossible to locate information (what is your new case?) is harder to acquire. I do once recall an affirmative disclosing the topic of a new case 45 minutes before the round, and the negative scrambling to figure out what it was and have some semblance of a strategy by the time the round began. Today, an occasional team will change their plan text primarily to evade established disclosure norms, and announcing a new case may lead to follow up questions about the meaning of "new" (because of the occasional experience where a new case wasn't very new).
Posts: 31

« Reply #3 on: March 03, 2010, 09:18:03 AM »

Loeber and Plants from Baylor were seniors in 1989. They had a blanket policy of not disclosing their affirmative after one extremely bad experience, the details of which I no longer remember. But I do remember plainly that they were conspicuous for refusing to do so, and even then I don't remember anyone else refusing to disclose their affirmative unless it was brand new.

The reasoning, as I recall, was that any affirmative that had been run previously was on someone's flow somewhere, and might even exist as a complete list of cites if the judge so desired, so teams extended the courtesy of offering up that information themselves, hoping others would do the same, and we'd all be spared a lot of running around.

I remember Kate Shuster and Daniel Davis crossing over to enter Heart's CEDA division in 1996, and coming back bewildered at the extremely strong norm for negative disclosure. Apparently they'd had a heated encounter with Erik Cornellier when Michigan State had disclosed their affirmative and West Emorgia declined to disclose their negative arguments. So, as of then, there wasn't much of a norm for negative disclosure in NDT.

One part of the norm by the mid to late nineties was that negatives would ask to see the plan text, and I remember a few discussions where we floated the idea of offering it only if they agreed to show us the counterplan text before the 1AC began. I don't remember if we followed through on that. Back in the late eighties, we didn't show the plan text; we just named the affirmative, and might add a comment about "No major changes since _____" (previous time we'd debated them or previous big tournament).
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