Tips and answers to frequently asked questions for the junior tournament:
Q. How does the character limit work?
A. If i copy and paste your post as it appears in the thread into a character counter (which does not count spaces, but counts everything else) and
it's more than 10,000, then I the end until it's exactly 10,000. This is a character
counter you can use
Q. How does time work?
A. If it has been 24 hours since the last post in the thread, then you are late, and your opponent can cause you to miss a post by posting again
before you submit your response. If you miss two posts this way, you lose. If your opponent is tired of waiting for you but doesn't want to bother
posting since you didn't (or doesn't want to gain an advantage that way) he can just post "I forfeit my post as well" and then it's back to you,
with a new 24 hour count-down. If your opponent is late for the second time, just post again and you win- or you can wait for him if you are a good
sport- though if its holding up the tournament I will u2u you to encourage you to make your opponent miss a post.
Q. What about the opening statement grace period.
A. Nobody will miss their opening statement. If you are on the "con" side and are waiting for your opponent to post, but it isn't happening, let me
know. I will check on your opponent by u2u, then either tell you how long the wait will be, or replace your opponent if he won't be able to
participate in a timely manner. After the "con" posts his opening statement, the "pro" has 24 hours from the date stamp on the last post to
respond, then after that the "con" has 24 hours, etc.
Q. Who's time zone is the date stamp set for?
A. The date stamp will appear for the time zone that you have set in your profile. So if I post at 9AM Pacific, someone on Eastern Time would see a
date stamp that said noon. As long as there is 24 hours difference between what the last post says and what a post you make will say, you may cut your
opponent off. If you aren't sure what time your new posts date stamp will say, just post in another thread and look at the date stamp there to
Q. How are topics and opponents assigned (can i pick a topic, etc)?
A. Debaters are seeded by debate ranking, then by WATS index, then by Star Count (ranking takes precedence, then the next two are tie breakers). 1st
seed faces 16th, 2nd faces 15th, 3rd faces 14th, 4th faces 13th, 5th faces 12th, 6th faces 11th, 7th faces 10th, 8th faces 9th. Opponent pairs are
then assigned numbers, as are the topics which were chosen beforehand. Numbers are then randomly paired, then decoded- so nobody gets a topic custom
fit for them, and nobody gets arbitrarily assigned tougher or easier opponents. If you'd like to choose a certain opponent, or a certain topic, a
challenge match is the answer. These are explained in the rules and rankings thread in the debate forum.
Q. I'm not completely sure about the scope of my assigned topic.
A. Additional information about the topic is generally not offered.
Traditionally, debaters have interpreted/defined propositions (topics) in the terms they find reasonable/advantageous, so long as they can find some
support for that interpretation/definition in the topic as phrased.
Sometimes the definition of the topic actually becomes a secondary point of debate, although debaters are encouraged to stipulate between themselves,
either beforehand or after resolving disagreement on definition/topical focus in the early posts of the debate.
Q. Will you edit a problem with my post?
A. If it's interfering with the debate and/or wasn't really your fault, I will if I have time and can find a good solution. Do anything you can
possibly think of to just get it right the first time.
Q. I'm not going to be available for a day or two.
A. Talk to your opponent. If they agree to wait for you, I won't make them cut you off, as long as you aren't significantly delaying the progress of
the tournament. A single 48-72 hour wait by mutual agreement has been accepted in several past debates.
Q. I'm stressed and lots of things are going wrong.
A. Have fun. I'd rather twist the topic into something interesting, crack jokes that irritate the judges, and find out too late that my post was too
manic for anyone to follow and risk losing than stress like it was a term paper, only to find out that my only reward for winning is yet another
"term paper". Minimize stress by using tools. Especially a word processor to save your progress so you can walk away for a break while composing
posts and can't be wiped out by a browser crash.
Q. What can I ask in a socratic question?
A. Anything that ends in a question mark.
Q. How do I have to answer a socratic question?
A. Honestly. If it's a yes/no or either/or question, the right thing to do is make "yes" or "no" (or "choice a" or "choice b", or whatever)
the first word, then provide any qualifications, explanations, rebuttals of the question, etc afterward, but ultimately its up to the judges to decide
if you were being evasive and how much they will hold that against you, so press your luck if you dare.
Q. My opponent didn't answer my question at all.
A. I'll u2u him to see whats up. If he agrees, he can submit a response to me by u2u to be edited into his post. If he doesn't, use that against him
in your debate and hope the judges see it the same way and penalize him. After the answer to a question is edited in, the time limit begins again at
24 hours (i will post in the thread to provide a new date stamp).
Q. How do I label Socratic Questions.
A. You can just number them 1-5 at the bottom of your post, but if they are in the body of the post, I like to use either bold or caps and label them
"Socratic Question" or SQ. If you don't label a question as an SQ, there's more reason to believe that your opponent honestly missed it, and less
likelihood the judges will hold a non-answer against him.
Q. I'm from Canada, so capitalizing the first letter of my name is some kind of insult.
A. Even if you let me know, I will probably forget again in a future tournament, so please u2u me if I botch your name in the thread title and you
want it changed (that's mostly a joke, but seriously, if you have any raw nerves, let me know and within reason i will avoid striking them).
Basic explanation of debating:
You and an opponent will be assigned a proposition at random. One will argue pro (that the statement made in the topic is true) the other will argue
the con (that the statement is not true). The "pro" always posts first, the "con" always gets the last word. You get five posts each. Limited
links, external quotes, and photos are allowed, and evidence is important, however ultimately your own ability to tie an argument together and present
it persuasively is the key issue being tested. All tactics within the Terms and Conditions and the debate rules are allowed- you don't have to be
strictly logical, formal, academic, or any way at all- as long as you are presenting some kind of compelling argument, you're doing fine.
Judges now receive the following instructions:
The following are the debate rules/instructions as they will appear in your assigned threads
Please read the entire debate carefully. The debater whose argument most effectively promotes the assigned position shall be the winner. Only
the argument as presented in the debate thread may be considered: Judges shall not consider any support or contradiction of a point of argument unless
that support or contradiction is provided by the debaters in their posts either explicitly or implicitly.
All methods of argument are acceptable and must be considered, however judges may consider the relative effectiveness of differing methods of
argument. The effectiveness of the arguments may be judged by whatever method a judge chooses, provided that all arguments are considered. This
also applies in cases of "asymmetric" debates, in which two differing styles of argument cause either a lack of direct contradictions between the
two positions or a change in the scope of the debate (including but not limited to conflicts over definitions or the relevance of arguments, etc).
Stars, Flags, the "reputation" of participants, outside commentary on debates, and all other external factors shall be ignored in the judging
Paragraph by paragraph breakdown of the rules can be found in this post
Rankings and Bill of Rights
The topic for this debate is "The Vagabond isn't as funny as he thinks.”
Joe Schmuckatelli will be arguing the "Pro" position and begin the debate.
Richard Snuggles will be arguing the "Con" position.
The Debate Forum Bill of Rights shall govern any objection to the assigned topic. If such objection exists, please U2U the moderator who posted this
thread. Time limits shall be suspended pending a ruling on any such objection.
Each debater will have one opening statement each. This will be followed by 3 alternating replies each. There will then be one closing statement each
and no rebuttal.
There is a 10,000 character limit per post- this includes all characters including punctuation and spaces, as counted when copied from their display
in the thread (where BB code is hidden and thus does not count).
Any character count in excess of 10,000 will be deleted prior to the judging process.
Editing of posts is strictly forbidden. For reasons of time, mod edits should not be expected except in critical situations. Requests for critical
edits (affecting visibility of post or function of links for example) should be U2U'd to the moderator who posted this debate thread.
Opening and closing statements must not contain any images and must have no more than 3 references. Video and audio files are NOT allowed.
Excluding both the opening and closing statements, only two images and no more than 5 references can be included for each post. Each individual post
may contain up to 10 sentences of external source material, totaled from all external sources. Be cognizant of what you quote as excess sentences will
be removed prior to judging.
Links to multiple pages within a single domain count as 1 reference but there is a maximum of 3 individual links per reference, then further links
from that domain count as a new reference. Excess quotes and excess links will be removed before judging.
The Socratic Debate Rule is in effect. Each debater may ask up to 5 questions in each post, except for in closing statements- no questions are
permitted in closing statements. These questions should be clearly labeled as "Question 1, Question 2, etc.
When asked a question, a debater must give a straight forward answer in his next post. Explanations and qualifications to an answer are acceptable,
but must be preceded by a direct answer.
This Is The Time Limit Policy:
Opening statements shall not be forfeit as a result of time limits. If an opening statement is not posted within 24 hours, a minimum of 24 additional
hours will be allowed and a reasonable effort will be made to contact the late poster and make arrangements before any substitution of competitors is
Each debate must post within 24 hours of the timestamp on the last post. If your opponent is late, you may post immediately without waiting for an
announcement of turn forfeiture. If you are late, you may post late, unless your opponent has already posted.
Each debater is entitled to one extension of 24 hours. The request for a 24 hour extension should be posted in this thread and is automatically
granted- the 24 hour extension begins at the expiration of the previous deadline, not at the time of the extension request.
In the unlikely event that tardiness results in simultaneous posting by both debaters, the late post will be deleted unless it appears in its proper
order in the thread.
If a participant misses 2 posts in a debate, it will be then declared a forfeiture. In the event where the debate continues, once a debate forum staff
member is able to respond, the debate will be closed and awarded to the winning participant.
Judging will be done by a panel of anonymous judges. After each debate is completed it will be locked and the judges will begin making their decision.
One of the debate forum moderators will then make a final post announcing the winner.
In the Tournament, winners will be awarded 2 points for each debate they win.
All AboveTopSecret.com Terms and Conditions Apply at all times in all debate formats.
contains additional information on how the debate forum
Sample debates for learning (All of these are mine, because I know my own debates very very well- I read them regularly- I do not mean to slight
anyone or be a self promoter):
Championship Debate: Rdube02 v The Vagabond
(good examples of organization and use of
sources on both sides).
Holiday Skirmish: MemoryShock vs The Vagabond
(This debate contained a definition
quarrel that ran all the way through the debate, without completely replacing other arguments. Also some use of humor.)
Exhibition Match: The Vagabond vs Semperfortis
(The topic was "the pen is mightier
than the sword"- it was impossible to prove either side, so it all came down to being able to construct a case with its own internal logic).
The Vagabond vs Byrd
(This debate was in large part driven by rebuttal, and like a lot
my debates took on a semi-hostile tone- both debaters came out feeling beaten, yet both were widely praised and the debate ended in a tie.)