Should We Do Last Debater Standing Again?


I’m not sure what you are saying you liked better – having players judge (which inserts game-politics into judging) or not. I’m trying to decide whether any (potential) future iterations of LDS will use debaters as judges or not, so feedback would be good.

I’m also undecided about whether this game format (or any of the game formats used thus far) is on-balance really beneficial. For at least the last two years, it seems that the latter portion of the games have combined competitive imperatives and personal issues in ways that always result in some hard feelings among the competitors. Personally, I’m willing to run the game again but I am concerned about whether I might be actually contributing to the general growth of personal bitterness that I have seen becoming a very serious problem in the debate community.

I’ve also noticed how alliance-building generally concentrates among the same “old crowd” of contacts, thus presenting new members of the community with a “false promise” of inclusion – the game is open to them but they usually find themselves eliminated pretty quickly and, even if they survive to the end, they are lacking networks of contacts that help them construct winning majorities. Again, my willingness to run future iterations of the game is called into question by the concern that the game might help reinforce a growing pattern of cliquishness and practices of social exclusion and/or style-based prejudices in the community.

Comments are welcome.


Originally posted by Catbert
[B][new members of the community] usually find themselves eliminated pretty quickly and, even if they survive to the end, they are lacking networks of contacts that help them construct winning majorities.[/B]

chuckle I can’t help but feel (perhaps egotistically) that all eyes are on me, as I was the new member who made it all the way to “the end.” I also recently said that I wish not to play this game again. I have no doubts that there are questions why, and if it has anything to do with the structure of the game.

And, rest assured, I will offer my two cents on this subject. But not right now because

“It’s the freaking weekend baby, I’m about to have me some fun!”

I’ll post either this evening or tomorrow morning (hopefully), but until then, might I suggest that this be broken off into a new thread? I think that if you’re asking questions about the relative merits of the game and whether or not it’s worth being offered, it ought not to be cluttered by messages about rounds that may or may not have been rigged.



My initial network included people I barely knew prior to the game: Alan, Hajeer, Jake, and Stanford.

I have learned my lesson.


Until this summer and this competition, I had yet to meet/speak many of the folks on net-benefits. Jake, Alan, Jenny, Hajeer, Dan, and even Patrick…were all fairly new to me. I thought the activity made it crucial that you needed to branch out. In the end, it did dwindle to the old powers that be, but that I think could have been countered by a shuffle of the secondary clubs.

The real problem I had with the game is the judging. The difference between Last Comic Standing and this…is that the judging audience is more impartial. Here debates are fixed before they even begin by the luck of your judge. I know my round was near-fixed (attempts were made by individuals to get athe vote to go a certain way) and others were more than fixed prior to the debate beginning. What impetus does that give a player to play when the round is fixed before you even begin?

My reccommendation is either have a separate judging pool (that’s not playing the game), increase the number of judges, or for the first couple of rounds just vote people out(without the debate).



I was also new. I did fine, though I felt somewhat disadvantaged by the old friends alliance-stuff. Not much you can do about that though.

If I weren’t doing anything next summer, I’d play again.


I strongly support Rob’s comments above.

Rob, when you say your round was near-fixed, do you mean your round against Cait (which I heard was fixed) or our round (which, best of my knowledge, was fairly judged)?



I’m 50/50 on this. Should we do it again? YES. Should the judging pool be separate… perhaps. The politiking is a part of the game, but I also approached it as a way to keep my practice up for the year… so non-fixed rounds would be nice.


I had heard a rumor that someone was attempting to pressure Joe to vote a certain way. Sounds nefarious and vague, eh? So, I don’t know if it was fixed. I still think that turning back all your religious harms outweighs some limited bullying…but water under the bridge. :wink:

I know my round with Cait was fixed for me, but even then Abram was going to try to vote against me because he outright hated my “trusistic” case. It only happened that Cait stepped out of the game during the weird scheduling mid-summer. Though I do have to say that I think if the game takes a week off for Wyo, that we should do the very least for the other major camps (Willamette/Pacific).



I liked Survivor better. Online debates just do nothing for me. I appear to be in the minority, but that’s what I think.



Rob, I don’t remember asking Joey to vote for me for non-debate related reasons, so unless someone was doing it on my behalf without my knowledge – or Joey remembers different from me, which is possible – our round was fair.



I liked Survivor better. Online debates just do nothing for me. I appear to be in the minority, but that’s what I think.

I won’t ever run a Survivor game. My preference for a format like LDS arises from several concerns with the Survivor format, but primarily a gameplay problem. In a Survivor type of game, once the dominant game alliance is established, the game is effectively over. In LDS, there is at least more potential mechanisms for breaking the anti-climactic alliances, especially if we make the judging less vulnerable to political manipulation. Politics in the game is great, but it should not be to the extent where the same core alliance controls every game.


I really liked getting the opporunity to actually debate, and test out a strategy that I frankly wouldn’t have had the confidence for in real life with a partner’s competitive career held hostage to it. That said, I was fortunate to have two non-fixed rounds, and if either of the two had been fixed after the amount of effort I put into them I would have been royal-class ticked.

I’m sort of in a unique situation as it regards in-crowd/out-crowd issues. Aside from Abram, my knowledge of the NB community in person extends to, lets see, a combined 12 minutes of talking to Ian and Marie, and 35 seconds of talking to Jed. Oh, and I got judged by Stannard once. So I don’t have a “real life” social network. Then again, I’m a fairly prolific NB poster (c.f. no “real life”), and I was able to leverage those contacts fairly decently, although I wasn’t aggressive about alliance building.

On another note – I understand challenge design for these things is really, really hard, because on the one hand you want to reward skill and on the other hand you don’t want to accidentally correlate skill with a confounding variable (i.e. being a CS major or having the most buddies to rig the immunity challenge). The challenges definately got better in this regard after the first few – games with arbitrary rules (election, great power governance, etc) were very fun for me, but then again I like beating rule sets to pieces because its what I’ve been trained to do. I’d volunteer to do challenge design for next year except that would probably mean giving up eligibility… and this is so fun (as compared to last year, where a confluence of real life issues, isolation, and immaturity contributed to me being a first-class git).

OK, enough rambling.

Patrick McKenzie


Okay. As promised here’s my response. (And it would have come sooner, but, quite frankly, Jason made me wait for the final results, so I made him wait for my post! :-P)

But, first, a disclaimer (from recent experience): don’t leave Net Benefits for even a few days, unless you really like catching up on hundreds of posts.

That being said, I’ve read a lot of what other people have been saying. The separate judging pool was something I intended to suggest myself. You can still preserve in-game politics through the voting/calling out, but at the point where the judges are not involved with these politics, it will serve to limit their function. You can even explicitly write in the rules that corruption of judges will not be accepted or tolerated. Perhaps some people would still try, but it would be no different from them trying at any other tournament–especially at the point where there’s a social stigma against it (as there is at tournaments).

Moving on to some heavier issues, though. Jason, you said in another thread that you couldn’t understand why people would take this stuff personally, and why they can’t seem to see it as just a game. I can’t speak for others, but I can speak for myself. Specifically, in the past, I’ve been clinically diagnosed with emotional disorders (and, no, I ain’t saying which ones because it’s been my experience that doing so only causes people to ask me about them ad nauseum when I really don’t wish to discuss them). I guess the obvious question is this: is it irrational for me to feel this way? Probably so. Can I help it? Not really. Should I have played the game to begin with? Probably not. Is hindsight 20-20? Feels like it, doesn’t it?

As for another heavier issue, the question of non-NPDA community members being excluded: I think that this is fairly accurate. I watched the other BP and APDA debaters drop like flies the first time they had to debate a non-forfeited round. I was the only one to make it to finals, and only because I have tremendous debate experience elsewhere.

As various people watched my debate rounds, I received compliments on my style–even though I half-assed all my rounds. Several people even told me that they thought I had a strong possibility of winning this whole game (though, frankly, I think these people seem to think way too highly of me). Would I have won it if we used debate rounds all the way through? Perhaps. Perhaps not. The fact of the matter is that we’ll never know because this was not the preferred method by game admin.

This, of course, leads me to a commentary on the end-game method overall. To be quite blunt, I wasn’t overwhelmingly pleased with the decided state of the end-game. It made it far too easy for the other finalists to just write me off in a single sentence, claiming that I’d never played the game.

In reality, I was probably the single finalist who had to play the game the hardest, as I had to not only build the same alliances, but also had to first meet the other players when I didn’t even have the common bond of competing on the same debate circuit. But the audience was all-too-willing to believe that I’d never played the game simply because they didn’t recognize my name. And if you don’t have the name recognition, how can you possibly gain fame (or, in this case, infamy)?

And, now, if you’ve read with me to this point, I think you deserve a cookie for your determination. Quick, grab one from the kitchen! And then come back to join me for one final clarification…

Don’t get me wrong, I did have fun with the game. And I do appreciate the efforts of Jason, Amy, and Patty to put on this game. As I’ve said before, I wish not to discourage anyone else from playing the game just because it isn’t the game for me. The fact of the matter is that many of the people closest to me kept telling me that I was taking this game far too seriously, and taking things way too personally. And they were right. This was not a flaw in the game, but a flaw in myself.

The bottom line is this: I’ve offered two ways that I think the game can be improved (separate judging pool and modifying end-game). This does not, however, mean that the game was unenjoyable in its current form. It just means that I’m egotistical enough to believe that my ideas can help bring a better game. :wink: (Either that, or it means that, while I view the game as imperfect, I believe that it is correctable.)

I’m done now.