I knew for my entire two-year career as a non-debater (who was in speech) that it is really, really important to ask the judge(s) for his/her/their Judging Philosophy before the round begins. How did I know? Because everyone did it. Since I wasn't really able to keep up with Policy rounds at the time (I didn't know how to flow or anything about Russian/Environmental policies don'tjudgeme) and I wasn't able to remember what the judges said before the LD rounds, I never actually noticed whether debaters adjusted to meet the judge's request. Turns out, the good ones generally do. Which is probably nice for the judges.
Unfortunately, even though I knew that that simple sentence was of the utmost significance, I never remembered to do it. However, in my Policy days it worked out okay, because there were always three other people there to ask. And, worse case scenario, the timer probably would've saved me and asked. Probably. Ok, probably not. Now that I'm doing LD, I'm really in trouble. There's only one other debater who has potentially got my back, metaphorically speaking, and what if he doesn't? It could be bad, people. I would probably get to 1AR before realizing I forgot to ask, and by then it's too late. What if the judge didn't want me to go fast and I did? Or if they did and I didn't? Or if they didn't want to see any applications or they only wanted applications and no actual arguments? Or if they wanted me to triple-tag instead of double? Or if they were a TP judge who really wanted me to run a counter-plan? I wouldn't even know and would probably lose. Then again, my opponent wouldn't either and could potentially lose as well. But that's irrelevant.
The best judging philosophies are, of course, the really fun ones. I don't mean, "Go fast, I'm an alumni, I can keep up," or "Be nice to each other," (I did have a judge tell me to be nice once when I was debating a good friend of mine once, and I just looked at her like, duh. Fun round.) or even "First one to get me a pen and paper wins," which I also had a judge say to me, and I thought he was kidding until I got that ballot back and wished I was faster at finding pens and paper. No siree, the best judging philosophies are the fun ones which are FUNNY. I'm talking, "Whoever references fruit in this round wins," "Whoever makes the most unicorn jokes wins," "Make your voting issues rhyme and also use alliteration," "Start every speech telling me why your opponent is winning," "Please rap all of the rebuttals," "I only want to see fictional applications," "Every contention/observation needs to be said in a different accent," "I only vote for people who make eye-contact with the timer..."
And I'm sure there are a ton more that would be thrilling to hear before the round. Frankly, I would love the timer one, because I occasionally time rounds and would really appreciate that a lot.
In addition to asking for mere judging philosophies, sometimes we get a little more nosy. Judging experience, occupation, theories on topical counter-plans, who they voted for in the last election, and what cases their kids are running may even be thrown into the mix of questions. And why not? If they don't mind answering, ask away.
You're homeschooled. That's my philosophy.