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How do prefs work?


I go to a relatively small school without a coach or super experienced sponsor and I was wondering how pref sheets worked? Who do you submit it to, is it school wide, general strat? Much appreciated

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On tabroom if you log in on the account you use to register to the tournament you'll find a tab on the tournament page that says prefs, click on that and you'll find a spreadsheet with every judge for the tournament. You can look at their paradigm by clicking their name, and based off that you give them a rating by bubbling a number on that spreadsheet 1- whatever number the tournament goes to (for example 1-8 for glenbrooks) where 1 is best and lowest number is the worst + S if you want to strike them. Typically you have to pref a certain number of judges a certain rating, such as a maximum or minimum for each rating.

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Prefs are done on tabroom. Go to your account, click on the tournament you're registered for, and then you should see a list of judges.

They're done for individual teams, not schools as a whole (different teams, different arguments, different judge interactions, etc).

How prefs work vary. What's described above with glenbrooks is categories prefs. If you listen to the Gary Larson debatercast interview, he gives a good description of how they work at one point along with how other systems work. The basic theme is they try to find mutual categorization of judges between 2 teams.

The common method of prefs done in college is mutual judging preference in which every judge is given an ordinal ranking, making them fit at a certain percentile in rankings. A certain bottom range is strike range (typically 80% and lower) and judges that fit within a certain percent range for two teams are assigned as their judge, with the goal being as mutual as possible. 

The general strategy with categories or mpj (which still is strategically organized in categories for the most part) is to order judges based on your style of debate. So if you're a policy debater, you should rank:

- great policy judges

- alright policy judges

- clash judges/good k judges who fall in clash debates as well

- bad policy judges

- bad k judges 

- strikes 


There is flexibility in how that ordering works, but that's an example. 


Basic rules for doing prefs:

- Don't pref questionable judges high just because they've liked you in the past. They can just as easily like other people more. 

- READ PARADIGMS. They are often written with a judge's take on what debate SHOULD be, which a) tells you how to pref them and b) improves how you look at debate.

- Paradigms are not end-all. A lot of people LIE (to themselves) about what they will vote on or how they think about debate. Alternatively, they may not update based on how their thinking has evolved. So, always keep personal notes on judges in RFDs to have your own log of how these judges think, how competent they truly are, etc.

- Look at their judging records and pay attention to what kinds of debates they judge and how often they judge elims (typically means they're prefer higher and/or coach teams that get into elim debates, hence why they're still available to judge).

- Dont blow off your judge research.

- Don't take prefs as an excuse to ideologically lock yourself into argumentative styles. 1) the best debaters are at least capable of going for args outside of their comfort zone and 2) getting the odd judging draw outside of your ideal judging range can screw you.

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