Proposal: The Renewed Debatranglijst

doorNederlandse Debatbond

Proposal: The Renewed Debatranglijst

For the upcoming General Assembly of the Nederlandse Debatbond, the Board proposes to introduce a new debating ranking list. However, to come up with a new policy that got support from our members, we would like you to inform us about your thoughts. 


We have deleted the old debatranglijst due to the new privacy law. We’re uncertain whether we should have a debatranglijst: leave your thoughts down below.

If we would have a debatranglijst, we want to have it start afresh every year and have your four best tournaments count. We wish to count your accomplishments based on a percentile, and we don’t let any tournaments weigh more heavily than others. Only certain tournaments are counted, tournaments with special selection-criteria or with themes are excluded.


For the last few years the debatbond tracked all Dutch debaters on a debatranglijst. A list of all debaters, giving points on how well they had done at different tournaments and ranking them accordingly. Last year the old debatranglijst had to be removed from our website because it was no longer GDPR compliant. Since a new list had to be started in the new debating year we felt it was the perfect time to discuss updating its rules. To do so a Brainstormcommittee was formed and we discussed whether a debatranglijst should exist, and, if it should exist, in what way. This document is a summary of that discussion. It includes recommendations and a new proposal for a debatranglijst, should the bondsraad want one.

  1. Should there be a debatranglijst?
  2. What’s allowed with the GDPR?
  3. How should the debatranglijst work?

Should there be a debatranglijst?

The brainstormcommittee isn’t certain whether there should be a debatranglijst. A debatranglijst can be fun, because people can compare themselves with other debaters, even when they aren’t regularly speaking at the same tournaments. It can also be a way to track your own progression over the years. However, the debatranglijst can also be used to cultivate toxic status-relationships and to keep them intact. Moreover, the debatranglijst can be used to look down on people within the debating community and some people feel less certain and good about themselves because of it. There’s already a lot of competition within the debating community and people are ranked after every weekend. It might be wise to keep that to the (necessary) minimum of tournament rankings. It remains to be seen how strongly the debatranglijst plays into this, especially because ranking debaters already happens in so many ways.

The brainstormcommittee advises to only have a debatranglijst if a large majority of the member-societies want it, and to permanently abolish the list if it would play too much of a role in the way debaters see and treat one another.

What’s allowed with the GDPR?

Roughly speaking (and in no way to be seen as legal advice): every tournament needs to ask permission to publish someone’s name online (via the TAB), when asking this permission the tournament could and should also ask whether we can use your name for the debatranglijst. On top of that, there should be (as there always was) a way to get yourself removed from the debatranglijst.

This means that using foreign tournaments becomes almost impossible, but using national tournaments would be fine, as long as this permission is given.

How should the debatranglijst work?

To answer this question we looked at four different aspects: How many tournaments should be counted in what timeframe, what tournaments should be included, how should accomplishments be weighed and should different tournament be weighed differently?


Our proposal is to have a cyclus of one year. This means that every year the debatranglijst starts afresh: a blank slate where everyone has the same amount of chance to do well as everyone else. At the end of the year a prize could be handed out to the winners. This would mean that more value can be given to the list, since inactive debaters no longer pollute the list with their presence, and the list becomes more accessibly to newer debaters. Every year the four best tournaments of every speaker are taken into consideration, which means that players aren’t obligated to compete in all competitions to get a better score, but also that inactive speakers won’t be ranked too highly on the list. If someone does not speak Dutch they can request the Debatbond board that their three best tournaments are counted, to make it easier for them to participate and do well on the list, without them having to participate at more than half the tournaments in their chosen language. They have to make such a request in the first three months of the year.

What tournaments should be included?

The bondsbestuur will make a list with all the tournaments that count that year. This list is open for everyone and all tournaments can apply. The Bondsbestuur will actively encourage tournaments to do so. The board makes this decision on the following criteria: the tournament must be held in AP, BP or in a different format that’s used around the world, such as Australs. The tournament must be open, so no selection-criteria exist in order to compete . This means that, amongst others, novice tournaments, schools tournaments, internal tournaments and the mace are excluded. Lastly, there should be no restrictions to the CA-team, so themed tournaments are also excluded. A first list for this year could be:

  • Roosevelt Open
  • UCU
  • DTU
  • Leiden Open
  • Rotterdam Open
  • Maastricht Open
  • Kalliope Debattournooi
  • NK Debatteren (Dutch nationals)
  • Cicero toernooi
  • Het Bonapartiaans Debattoernooi
  • Delft Open
  • Het Trivium Debattoernooi

How are accomplishments weighed?

Several different options exist here, we’ll outline four and argue for our preference.

  1. Accomplishments could be weighed based on the percentile of debaters in which a team landed. If a team became 10th of 20 teams: each speaker would get 50 points, because they landed in the 50th percentile. If this same team became 10th of 100 teams, they would receive 90 points. This system would be used for all teams that haven’t reached an out-round.
    1. For teams that have reached an out-round, their ranking would be based so the winning team is place don nr. 1 and the other finalists are a shared number 3, the semi-finalist are a shared 6.5th place (which might be rounded up), this can be applied to quarters and so on.
    2. Or, their rankings would be based on their accomplishments on the teamtab, making them 2nd to 4th. The semi-finalists are then also ranked on the based of their teamtab, for 5th -8th.
  2. Instead of team-rankings, we could also use speaker-rankings. That way individual speakers are marked for their individual accomplishments. We would still use the percentile system, but now on speakertab.
  3. A combination can also be used: speakers that haven’t reached out-rounds are based on speakerpoints, whereas speakers who did reach an outround are based on the system as outlined under 1.
  4. Lastly a compromise could be made, by combining speaker score and team score, taking both into consideration for the percentile.

The committee wishes to go for option 1, but has no preference for 1a or 1b in what way we’d count the outrounds. We believe that debating is a team sport and people should therefore mainly be marked on team-accomplishments. Even though we do see a compromise could be useful, we fear it would be highly unpractical to implement, and we would still value team-accomplishments more than speaker accomplishments.

Should different tournaments be weighed differently?

Because we propose a percentile-based system we do not feel the need to make a difference for different tournaments. We cannot easily or objective weigh the toughness of the competition at different tournaments and therefore the best thing is to look at how many other teams are participating. Importantly, we believe that Dutch nationals should be counted differently from other tournaments, since now it influences the debatranglijst way too much. We do see that someone who wins a tournament with 40 other teams doesn’t get more points than someone who wins a tournament with 20 other teams, but we feel that the outrounds are, in a way, equally tough, no matter how many other teams first competed. Moreover, we believe that the list should focus on the average debater, for whom the difference between a 12th place and a 15th place does matter a lot, which is taken into account really well, and for whom the different tournament size also matters a great deal.

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De Nederlandse Debatbond (NDB) stelt zich als doel het wedstrijddebat te bevorderen en ondersteunen in Nederland. Als nationaal overkoepelend orgaan vertegenwoordigt de NDB ongeveer 1.000 leden waarvan de meesten lid zijn van één van de debatverenigingen die Nederland rijk is.

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Nederlandse Debatbond administrator

De Nederlandse Debatbond (NDB) stelt zich als doel het wedstrijddebat te bevorderen en ondersteunen in Nederland. Als nationaal overkoepelend orgaan vertegenwoordigt de NDB ongeveer 1.000 leden waarvan de meesten lid zijn van één van de debatverenigingen die Nederland rijk is.