Mutual Judge Paininthebutt

I'll admit it, I'm not a fan of Mutual Judge Preference.

Everyone else seems to loooove MJP. It's a standard for any circuity tournament, and I hear all the time at tournaments about how nice it is. But man is it a pain in the ass. I'm pretty new at this coaching thing, but oh let me count the crap we have to put up with for MJP.

-Going through the list of judges, most of which we don't know
-Trying to find philosophies for judges online, many of which aren't there despite the perennial requirement for judges to post their philosophy
-Trying to discern something useful out of judge philosophies in the first place. What does it mean to "default to a policy maker?" is someone who "likes to see the evolution of debate" going to be ok with a performance aff?
-Calling around to ask about judges that we don't know anything about, wasting more time.
-Figuring out when the pref sheet needs to be done by, and who to turn it in to. At registration? The day before at 9AM? it's just one more thing to keep track of.

Also, in addition to being irritating, I really think that it's bad for debate. The idea of MJP is to make sure that each round has a judge that both teams equally prefer. But what if you are new to debate and know absolutely nobody? Who do you prefer? Or what if you have 10 As that you can come up with but need to mark at least 20? The whole system seems to assume that everyone has reliable, useful information about every judge.

That ain't true. And since it's the established, big programs that have more information, it's the established, big programs that get the real benefit of MJP.

I also think there's an argument to be made about how MJP eliminates the need for judge adaptation. Now, let me qualify that statement. There are a lot of really crappy policies that are justified by touting the benefits of "judge adaptation," so let me say that it's not like being required to adapt more is always a good thing. I think that lay judges are bad in varsity divisions. I also think that debaters should be able to avoid judges that have a specific agenda to eliminate from debate the style of arguments that they prefer. But there's an amount of education that comes from, say, having to slow down a bit to debate for a judge who's been out of the game for a while, or having to carry a few disads along with your representations kritik.

It's a balance. I think that strikes do a decent job of preserving that balance. I also think that MJP tips it a bit too far in the "I don't have to adapt" direction. It also tips the balance in that direction specifically for the big programs, and I think that's bad.

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