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"Shame!" The bizarre world of heckling

Updated: Aug 26, 2022

Heckling: when debaters verbally interrupt their opponents with a brief interjection

Heckling, as a practice, is stylistic–while some judges appreciate the outgoing and confident nature of this behavior, others consider it rude. Thus, some debaters ask judges before their round.


Types of Heckling

1. Points

The most common and accepted form of heckling is raising points (POIs, POCs, POOs, and POPPs). POIs and POOs, in particular, are common and rarely viewed as impolite.

2. "Shame"

Debaters may call out "shame" during an opponent's speech if they have said something shameful.

3. "Source?"

Debaters may ask "source?" during an opponent's speech if they are questioning the validity or credibility of their data. Generally a weak heckle and advised against.

4. Knocking

Debaters can knock during their partner's speech to show assent. Judges may as well if they agree with a point that a debater has made. While this custom has largely fallen out of style, especially because many tournaments are moving online, it is a polite and efficient show of support.

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