Dear Ethos Community,
What sourcebook improvements should we consider implementing this year to improve your user experience? What are the best features that we should make sure and preserve?
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Easier to read/use formatting.
Full TOCs at the beginning of the brief instead of spread throughout.
No three sentence tags. 😛 I know you won’t change that. 😀
Source citations: Work on compressing the useful information so it’s concise & compact but detailed. For example, instead of saying:
Dr. Harry Burton (Harry Burton is currently serving on the Department of Biotechnology and Charisma at Washington State University as a professor of biotechnology, a position he has enjoyed for several years. After completing undergraduate work, he received his PhD in cellular biology from Cornell in 1992.)
Say something like:
Dr. Harry Burton (PhD in cellular biology from Cornell, professor of biotechnology at Washington State University)
This contains more or less all the same information, but in a format that doesn’t take up half the page for 36 straight quotes. For citations, detail is not measured in inches. (Although I wouldn’t go so far as many NFL briefs: “Burton ’08 (Harry, prof. biotech. @ WSU)” – lol)
On taglines: Be pithier. I know you guys fall on the extreme detail side of the spectrum, but there’s no reason your taglines can’t be *both* pithy and detailed. What I mean:
A typical improvable Ethos tag: “Of experts surveyed, all agreed that biotechnology is a successful and useful tool for combating a variety of global challenges, including global warming and deforestation”
– Tack a concise five-word-or-so summary on the beginning (“Experts agree biotech important” or something – I’m making this up)
– Rewrite to be more concise: “Survey: Experts agree biotech is an important tool for fighting global warming, deforestation, and other challenges” (or something – this is still rather too long)
– Combination: “Experts agree biotech important: Useful tool for fighting global warming, deforestation, and modern challenges (survey)” (or something)
The idea is to *both* let the reader know the core of the evidence without reading it *and* let them easily grasp all the specifics of the card. This is hard to perfect, but some of this year’s tags were unpardonable (fiscal barriers anybody? 😛 )
MSD and Turumber took the words out of my mouth on the length of the tag lines and the sources. on one of the debate round ballots i got back this year was one that we only had the ETHOS brief against the case. when we got the ballot it read that we lost and the RFD was because the tag lines were far to long to flow and she hardly got any of our points. so shortening the tag lines would make ETHOS a killer sourcebook!
another thing that i noticed about the briefs was there sheer size and magnitude. one of the briefs that ETHOS published was against Environmental Federalism and it was like 40 or 50 pages long. the thing there is that it was so long, that it was hard to use. with the 8 page TOC and the large number of evidence cards it was hard to find evidence among all those cards. i praise you guys for doing all that hard work and doing you best to make a good brief but in my opinion, there just to long. yall could make the briefs smaller, and make more different briefs and that would help the ETHOS purchasers more then massive briefs. so great work and good effort, but it was somewhat unnecessary for yall to do that
the last thing that yall could change was also on the tag lines. the first pieces of evidence in the Enviro Fed brief states in part “Dr. J.R. DeShazo 07 – the first significant federal air pollution laws were partly the result of the automobile and soft coal industries seeking uniform preemptive federal standards when faced with the threat of inconsistent and increasingly rigorous state laws” when i saw the Dr. J.R. DeShazo 07 – i was wondering why that was there. so i would suggest taking that out, the pieces of the source from the tag line because you dont really need it to be there if you have it in the source. and as MSD stated, the tag line was to long
so i hope that helps yall improve yalls sourcebook. yall have done great work and i hope you can use my comments to your benefit
The length of the tag lines will likely remain as a good tag line should actually summarize the quotation. The tagline in the sourcebook is NOT the one you would utilize in a debate round. Actually, taglines used in round should always be tailored to the argument you are making. You would do this during prep-time. Never read the brief tagline in a round – always customize it to your argument and your flow. The key to using the large briefs in Ethos is to tailor those briefs to your style of debate. Read the briefs thoroughly before you ever get to a tournament. Mark the cards that you like best – that you would read in a round. These are the ones you will print or move to a brief of your own. The rest can remain safely on your hard drive for easy access. I actually suggest reading through the briefs regularly throughout the season. If you pull a sourcebook brief out in a round for the first time, confusion is to be expected.
yes your right about that. after that round i began to write my own taglines on the evidence so that i could them and we did very well with the ethos briefs. my point is that in some other sourcebooks, such as Quick Start have taglines that are just right for the reading in the round, and what i was saying was that those sourcebooks were easier to use because you did not have to rewrite the tag lines in the round or before the round, you could just go into the round and they would be a good length. So that was just something that the people in ETHOS could do if they wanted. I’m sorry if i seemed to criticize the ETHOS team, yall do a good job. But it would make it easier on the debaters if the tagline did not need a rewriting.
of course!! i agree with you once again. a debater should always be familiar with his briefs. but my point was that its hard to be familiar with his briefs if the briefs are the size of a book. i see what you mean about moving the evidence to a brief of your own, though as i was saying above, the Quick Start briefs were about 18 pages long on average and contained about 30 pieces of evidence on average, making the briefs easy to use and to understand. And that also illuminated the need to move the evidence to other briefs. so what I’m suggesting is that y’all take that idea and meld it with your briefs and make just the best arguments in the briefs, and improve your quality, over your quantity and quality that you have now
I agree with everyone on taglines. I agree that tags in a round should be tailored to what you’re arguing, but sometimes that’s just not practical, so it would be extremely helpful if the tags were already tailored so as not to use more prep time in the round. It IS possible to summarize a piece of evidence in 5-10 words.
Another thing is, again, formatting. The briefs are already large with so much evidence, but the poor formatting makes it even worse. Even something as minor as a smaller font size would make a huge difference.
The huge citations are an issue too. Honestly, I was considering not even buying ETHOS again this year because of the enormous citations – it was hard for me to pick out what to read on the spot in a round, as well as making the briefs that much larger.