Ziggy Online Debate



The answers to these questions represent the official Ziggy Rules. If there are any questions about these rules, contact Isaac Sommers at ziggyonlinedebate@gmail.com.

Last updated Oct 19, 2017

I’m new to Ziggy – what do I do?

I’m glad you’re participating! To start with, read these FAQs. These function as the official Rules for Ziggy. Otherwise, everything is pretty straightforward: you’ll get an email sometime each Sunday in the late afternoon telling you who you’re debating for the week, their contact info, and a reminder for the Aff team to contact the judge. If you’re Affirmative, you’ll send a copy of your case to the Neg (for TP), and then you and your opponent(s) will figure out a time that everyone can commit to do a debate round online. Once you finalize a time, look at the Judges List (see the navigation bar above), log in, and find one or several judges who are available to judge your form of debate at the time you want. Email them and politely ask them to judge – try to contact them at least 24 hours in advance, if not more, as that will increase your chances of them being able to judge you. If you find a judge, send them a blank ballot from the website, and give them any pertinent details for the round’s scheduling. After you finish the round, the judge may choose to give verbal feedback, and then they’ll send a ballot to you and to Ziggy (for tab purposes). Please read this note, if you are new.


1. If I have multiple children competing, do I have to register and pay for each individually?

Yes. Each competitor needs to be registered individually, although you can make out a single check for the combined total if you’re paying by check ($20 per competitor, or $25 per competitor after the first week has begun).

2. I need to change my judging availability information

Go to the Judge Signup page to correct your judge information. You can also access this form by going to the Judges List.

3. I haven’t decided on a permanent partner for TP yet. Can I still sign up?

Yes. If you are still debating with different people to try out your partnership, that’s perfectly fine. We’ll list your partner as “To Be Decided” (TBD), and you can forward the pairing emails to whoever you’re partnering with each week. For placement purposes, we will take the top score of whoever you partnered with and use that as your final result.

4. I’m late for signup, but I’d still like to participate. Can I?

Yes! You can sign up at any time during Ziggy. In the Fall, after Early Signup closes, the price will increase to $30.

5. Where do I mail my check to?
Mail checks to 1801 Avenue D, Brownwood, TX, 76801. Make them payable to Isaac Sommers.


6a. Do I need to send my opponent a copy of our 1AC before the round (for Team Policy)?
Yes, you need to send at least an OUTLINE of your TP case to your opponents—whether to send the full case is up to you. Send your opponents a copy or an outline of your 1AC as soon as you get your round pairing. All teams will need to delete the copies/outlines after the round ends, and the copies/outlines of the case that are sent to you may not be shared with anyone in any form. If a team doesn’t feel comfortable sending their full 1AC, they may opt for sending an outline. Outlines must include at the bare minimum: Taglines of each of your arguments, evidence cards with citations, and the Plan mandates text, Agency/Enforcement, Funding, and Timeline. You do not have to include your own personal rhetoric or strategy when sending your 1AC/1AC outline.

6b. Can I share flows?

The only information you are allowed to share outside of Ziggy is what you handwrite in notes on your flowpad during a given round. It is not forbidden to share your flows with others, but these need to be based solely on what you handwrite from what you hear in the round, NO DETAILS whatsoever may be taken from the 1AC sent to you. Do note, though, that most people will change their cases from Ziggy, so it’s not recommended to rely heavily upon the flows you obtain via Ziggy.

7. What app should I use for debating online?

Skype and Google Hangouts are the preferred choice for many people, but any tool that allows for voice communication over the internet is permitted (cellular conference calls are also allowed, but do note that it’s more difficult to know if someone drops from the call, so a internet calling app is recommended). Just make sure everyone is able to access the app you choose to use.

8. What is the attire?

There is no dress code. Since the debates take place online, and since most competitors opt to use audio-only (since video is slower), there is no formal dress code. If you do choose to use video, be sure to dress modestly.

9. I have to go out of town for a few weeks. Can I temporarily opt out of pairings?

Yes! If competitors miss a debate, they are encouraged to reschedule. However, if future circumstances will not allow for rescheduling, send us an email beforehand and you can temporarily be removed from weekly pairings. When you’re ready to rejoin, just let us know.

10. My TP partner lives far away from me, and we can’t meet in person to do rounds. What should I do to communicate with my partner during prep time?
Most Ziggy debaters don’t meet in person for their online TP rounds. Instead, debaters usually either chat to each other in Skype, or call each other via cell phone and talk to each other during prep time that way (with the Skype/computer mic muted, of course). Try out those methods and get a feel for what works best for you and your partner. If you’re new to debate, calling your partner on a cell phone to talk to them during prep time would probably be the best option.

11. Who should time the speeches in a round?

Teams may self-time. However, timing the other team as well as self-timing is a good way to promote accountability, and may be suggested by the debaters to the judges, or may be requested by the judges. Ultimately, the judge will have final say on this matter in the round.


12. What should I do if my opponent hasn’t replied to my email?

Send an email to ziggyonlinedebate@gmail.com and let us know. We’ll send you a phone number so you can contact your opponent.

13. What should I do if my judge hasn’t sent me my ballot yet?

Give your judge several days to send you their ballot. If they haven’t sent it in after three or four days, send them a polite email asking if they have had a chance to send you the ballot, or if it had perhaps been sent to your Spam folder.

14. Who should contact the judge?

The Affirmative team/debater is responsible for contacting the judge, but if you are the Negative team and you think you might have more time to contact judges, feel free to tell the Affirmative debater that you don’t mind contacting the judge. Regardless of who contacts the judge, it should be done as soon as possible.


15. Can judges give verbal feedback?

Yes, verbal feedback is permitted (it’s not required; it’s up to the personal preference of the judge). We strongly encourage debaters to accept verbal feedback, and we encourage judges to give verbal feedback after the round if they’d like to.

16. Can judges request to look at evidence?

Yes, judges may request specific pieces of evidence that were read in the round. Judges may not request a complete copy of a case or of a brief.

17. Can someone who isn’t listed on the Ziggy Judges List judge my Ziggy round?

Yes. If you can’t find a judge on Ziggy, and you know someone else who would be available to judge, and if your opponent is okay with it, they can judge your round. Make sure they know to send the ballot to ziggyonlinedebate@gmail.com.

18. We can’t find a judge. Can we get someone who we know to judge (parent, coach, etc)?

Although it is preferred that competitors find a judge who doesn’t know them, the purpose of Ziggy is to improve your debate skills and get helpful feedback, and if you can’t find anyone else, and you know someone who can judge without being biased, and the other team is okay with them judging despite your familiarity, it is allowed. This should only be a last-resort option.

19. I’m a judge, and I’d prefer to fill out a paper ballot. How can I do that?
If you’d prefer to complete your ballot with pen and paper, simply print off the ballot emailed to you by the competitors, fill it out with a pen, and then scan or take a picture of it with your cell phone and email it to the competitors and to ziggyonlinedebate@gmail.com (for record-keeping and powermatching purposes). Please include which league you are judging for in the subject line of your email, along with the Round # (if you know it), and the names of the debaters/teams.

20. Where does a judge get their ballot to use for a round?

It is the responsibility of the debaters to send their judge a ballot to use for the round. Most Ziggy judges have very busy schedules, and don’t have the time to find a ballot online, so use the Ballot page to download a copy of the blank ballot and send to your jduge.

21. What are the qualifications to be a judge?
You are qualified to judge for Ziggy Online Debate if you have graduated high school and are not competing in NCFCA or Stoa yourself. Contact me if you have questions about specific individuals who you’d like to sign up to judge, or if you are a debate coach who also debates and would like to request an exemption to this rule.

Other Questions

22. Will results be announced?

Yes. Results for the top 40% of competitors will be published on the Pairings page. Results will include overall ranking, and the top 40% of TP and LD speaker positions as well. If you don't want your ranking and speaker position published, let us know.

23. My opponent has consistently failed to “arrive” to our debate at the scheduled time, and I’ve tried multiple times to reschedule but it’s not worked out. What can I do?
Ziggy Online Debate is about practice - if you miss a debate, you and your opponent lose the opportunity to improve. We strongly encourage debaters to try their best to reschedule, even if that means doing two debates in one week (the current round + the old/missed round). However, if rescheduling simply does not work, there are two formal options we can take for powermatching purposes. The first is marking the round as “incomplete” - this means that both teams were simply not able to accommodate the debate due to scheduling differences, and so the round will not be marked as a win or a loss for either team. The other option is much more intensive and complex: requesting a forfeit. If you feel that your opponent has been disrespectful of your time by not showing up at the scheduled time on multiple occasions, backing out at the last minute, failing to contact a judge when they said they would, or otherwise making scheduling the round difficult, you can submit a formal request to have your opponent forfeit the round (this will count the round as a win for you/loss for them and award average speaker points to both teams). However, this process will require (1) a copy of all communication between the teams that will be subject to analysis by the Ziggy Review Team, and (2) the other team will be contacted to present their side of the story. After an objective analysis is complete, the Ziggy Review Team will determine whether a forfeit is appropriate for one of the teams. If both teams are found to be “at fault,” the round will simply be marked incomplete.

A team may also voluntarily choose to forfeit. In that case, the forfeit works the same way: the forfeiting team has the round counted as a loss, but is awarded average speaker points; the other team counts the round as a win, also getting average speaker points. This may be a viable option for some to consider so that their speaker points are not negatively affected by skipping/missing a round.

24. Can I use the internet during a debate (to do research)?
You should not do research during a round because doing so trains you to rely upon the internet for your answers instead of (a) good pre-round research and (b) critical thinking.
Due to the difficulty of enforcing this, however, it is not “against the rules,” per se.
That being said, if a judge knows that a debater used the internet for research during their round, they are free to factor that into their decision however they see fit.

This rule applies to Ziggy Parli as well: we strongly discourage debaters from doing research during the parli round, and it is up to the judge to adjudicate any perceived misconduct in this regard.

25. What are rules regarding ethics/conduct/language/courtesy?
All debaters are expected to compete with the utmost courtesy and ethical conduct. This should be understood to mean that foul/vulgar language or abusive rhetoric is not permitted, and no violation of Ziggy Rules is permitted. In most cases, the judge may be the arbiter of disputes over rule violations, except as is necessary for Ziggy to intervene and make an official determination.
Here’s the short version: act in a manner that you would want to be treated (Matthew 7:12, The Bible).


25. How do teams get the parli resolutions?
Judges will have exclusive access to a password protected page of parli resolutions. This list will change on a regular basis, and judges will be responsible for choosing a single resolution for the debate and announcing it to the competitors via email 20 minutes before the round is scheduled to begin. Parents of competitors are under NO circumstances allowed to share topics with their children or students; topics may ONLY be announced by judges in individual rounds.

26. How will the parli resolutions be constructed?
Resolution options will be ultimately created by Isaac Sommers, 6-year NCFCA and Stoa alumni (TP/LD/Parli) and Owner of Ziggy Online Debate. However, other sources will be asked for topic suggestions, such as Ethos Debate, Integrity Communication Speech & Debate, and collegiate parliamentary debate coaches and successful competitors.

27. Where are the rules/guidelines for Ziggy parli?
All official Ziggy Parli rules will be posted on this page, and all other (old) rules that apply to LD and TP apply here unless otherwise noted. Official Judge Orientation for parli will be forthcoming in the next few weeks, as well as guidelines for debaters who are less familiar with parliamentary debate. Ziggy Parli will be modeled after collegiate parli and Stoa parli.

If you have any other questions, please email them to ziggyonlinedebate@gmail.com.