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"I'm sorry, I can't accept that."

Posted: Sun Apr 15, 2018 3:34 pm
by The Bold Ideas of Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
I'm sure nearly everyone who's played a few tournaments has heard a moderator reply to a close neg with the phrase, "I'm sorry, I can't accept that," or something very similar to it. What caught me off guard was hearing a good, experienced moderator use this phrase instinctively during a match at ICT this weekend. He realized what he had done after the tossup and it didn't affect the match, but it reminded me how often I've witnessed it happen these days. IMO, this is an incredibly large gaffe on behalf of any moderator who isn't brand new to the game, as it gives a significant advantage to the second team, especially at high school levels. Any neg should only ever be responded to with "neg 5," "I'm sorry, that's incorrect," or something equally un-subjective, even if the buzzing player was originally prompted for a second answer. Is there any reason why moderators aren't explicitly instructed not to use "I'm sorry, I can't take that" for close negs at every tournament these days, and if not, can it be included? It's not like this is a horribly chronic and significant issue, but out of all extant moderator problems it seems like one of the easiest fixes.

Re: "I'm sorry, I can't accept that."

Posted: Sun Apr 15, 2018 4:21 pm
by cchiego
Likely because you'll get players or coaches who go "WHAAAAT" and yell and disrupt the match if you neg them without some kind of explanation or seeming sympathy that their answer was close. This has happened to me several times, including at nationals before. Players may think that moderators just didn't hear them correctly (and, in fairness, a couple of times, I've seen that happen) or just have a knee-jerk response that derails the game. The right thing to do is a simple "-5" and then resolve it later, but that requires a bit of trust between the players and the mods to correctly figure out what happened later, at the very least after the other team has had a chance to buzz.

The other issue is when there's a close ruling and you have to pause for a moment to think about what the player said or if there are a ton of alternative answer lines. In that case, that's also somewhat giving away that the answer was "close but no cigar" but there's no good way to really resolve this issue.

Re: "I'm sorry, I can't accept that."

Posted: Sun Apr 15, 2018 6:05 pm
by Cheynem
As someone who dealt with some of this stuff firsthand this weekend, I'm far from perfect, but my rules of thumb:

obviously wrong answer: "no," "neg five," etc.

wrong because of timing: "time" (i.e. you are offering no judgment as to whether or not any answer given after TIME was called is correct)

something that may or may not be wrong: In this case, you have no choice but to stop the clock or the match and carefully look at the answer line and make a decision. This may or may not be giving the other team some help, but you have to do this to ensure a proper moderator decision. If I am doing this, I usually try and say nothing while I am doing this and indicate to the teams to say nothing as well.

Re: "I'm sorry, I can't accept that."

Posted: Sun Apr 15, 2018 8:02 pm
by alexdz
What is the general opinion on saying something like "I'm sorry, I can't accept that" for *EVERY* incorrect answer, close or not? As someone who has moderated several games for complete newbies to quizbowl, I've found myself doing something like this before to try and minimize what could be perceived as "abrasiveness" of just saying "no" or "neg five." (FWIW, I usually say "I don't have that.")

Re: "I'm sorry, I can't accept that."

Posted: Sun Apr 15, 2018 8:08 pm
by Cheynem
I think what you establish as your standard "neg" or "that's wrong" answer is fine; it's just that when you deliberately change what you're saying in some cases (the classic being "so close") that it becomes problematic.

Re: "I'm sorry, I can't accept that."

Posted: Tue Apr 17, 2018 3:15 pm
by the return of AHAN
I always tell new moderators that the longer they are hemming and hawing on an answer line, the more they should be leaning towards accepting it. Otherwise, be prepared to say, "incorrect" on the first buzz.
The worse instance I ever saw was my player getting awarded the points on a bonus part, and THEN... moments later, the moderator backing up and reconsidering, then asking my player to "SPELL IT." This was a science bonus at sectional championship match, where the answer line was "otoscope." Points wound up rebounding to our opponent because they knew the correct spelling. :-(

Re: "I'm sorry, I can't accept that."

Posted: Tue Apr 17, 2018 4:15 pm
by jonpin
On the one hand: those kind of instructions are not-infrequently passed along to moderators. However, moderators at quiz bowl tournaments have not yet been replaced by R. Robot Hentzel, so they do sometimes make mistakes.
On the other hand: there are enough things that vary between major quiz bowl tournaments that do need clarification during opening meetings (like timing rules, bouncebacks, powers, etc.) that repeating suggestions which are universally true is of limited value, given the desire to finish the meeting and start the tournament. Making moderators swear a vow never to botch a question will not significantly reduce the amount of times they just screw it up because screw-ups happen.

My advice when giving moderator instructions to my students (and what I practice when reading myself, unless given specific instructions otherwise) is:
1. If prompting is plausible, prompt. The failure to prompt instead of accepting, or prompt instead of rejecting, is something that can never be fixed after the fact. Further, in cases where there may genuinely be confusion as to whether they've said the right thing, oftentimes a prompt can let them clarify to the answer on the page, or let them clarify to an obviously-wrong answer. In the former case, they get the points (and if Team B says "they changed their answer, that's not the same thing", then the protest committee can resolve the situation). In the latter case, they've hanged themselves, and you can finish the question in real-time, rather than having to take back points later on.
2. If prompting would not make any sense, they don't give anything new when prompted, or you're still not sure, reject. Finish the question for the other team.
3. Never accept an answer that you're wishy-washy on from the first team, because the resolution is much worse that way.
4. [not applicable to any timed tournament] After the second team has had their chance, briefly explain the ruling and, if it's obvious that Team A's answer should be accepted, accept it and move on. I'm more likely to explain myself at a lower-level tournament, but even with experienced teams, I'll usually say "the answer line had such-and-such, which is why I prompted you".

Re: "I'm sorry, I can't accept that."

Posted: Tue Apr 17, 2018 6:24 pm
by i never see pigeons in wheeling
the return of AHAN wrote:The worse instance I ever saw was my player getting awarded the points on a bonus part, and THEN... moments later, the moderator backing up and reconsidering, then asking my player to "SPELL IT." This was a science bonus at sectional championship match, where the answer line was "otoscope." Points wound up rebounding to our opponent because they knew the correct spelling. :-(
I have done this a few times because I naturally have trouble perceiving certain sounds (like sometimes it's really hard for me to distinguish "th" from "s" even if I'm wearing my hearing aids), but I always give credit if their spelling phonetically resembles the actual answer.

Re: "I'm sorry, I can't accept that."

Posted: Tue Apr 17, 2018 11:01 pm
by Aaron's Rod
the return of AHAN wrote:The worse instance I ever saw was my player getting awarded the points on a bonus part, and THEN... moments later, the moderator backing up and reconsidering, then asking my player to "SPELL IT." This was a science bonus at sectional championship match, where the answer line was "otoscope." Points wound up rebounding to our opponent because they knew the correct spelling. :-(
For what it's worth:
NAQT Correctness Guidelines wrote: D.33 Players may spell answers, but it is considered misconduct for a player to spell an answer intending to delay the game.
[...]
E.4 A player may be prompted to spell a phonetically close response. In such cases, the exact spelling is not always required (e.g. a player says muh-NAY and is prompted. A response of M-A-N-A-Y would be sufficient to remove ambiguity with Monet.)
ACF and PACE each have a nearly identical rule (actually using the same Manet/Monet example). I can only recall maybe once when I've asked a team to spell part of an answer, but just letting you know that by most rule systems it's within a moderator's right to ask. Not sure what they would've been looking for in your example, as "otoscope" sounds pretty distinct from e.g. "stethoscope."

Re: "I'm sorry, I can't accept that."

Posted: Tue Apr 17, 2018 11:31 pm
by the return of AHAN
Aaron's Rod wrote:
the return of AHAN wrote:The worse instance I ever saw was my player getting awarded the points on a bonus part, and THEN... moments later, the moderator backing up and reconsidering, then asking my player to "SPELL IT." This was a science bonus at sectional championship match, where the answer line was "otoscope." Points wound up rebounding to our opponent because they knew the correct spelling. :-(
For what it's worth:
NAQT Correctness Guidelines wrote: D.33 Players may spell answers, but it is considered misconduct for a player to spell an answer intending to delay the game.
[...]
E.4 A player may be prompted to spell a phonetically close response. In such cases, the exact spelling is not always required (e.g. a player says muh-NAY and is prompted. A response of M-A-N-A-Y would be sufficient to remove ambiguity with Monet.)
ACF and PACE each have a nearly identical rule (actually using the same Manet/Monet example). I can only recall maybe once when I've asked a team to spell part of an answer, but just letting you know that by most rule systems it's within a moderator's right to ask. Not sure what they would've been looking for in your example, as "otoscope" sounds pretty distinct from e.g. "stethoscope."
exactly.

Re: "I'm sorry, I can't accept that."

Posted: Wed Apr 18, 2018 12:17 am
by El Salvadoreno
the return of AHAN wrote:
Aaron's Rod wrote:
the return of AHAN wrote:The worse instance I ever saw was my player getting awarded the points on a bonus part, and THEN... moments later, the moderator backing up and reconsidering, then asking my player to "SPELL IT." This was a science bonus at sectional championship match, where the answer line was "otoscope." Points wound up rebounding to our opponent because they knew the correct spelling. :-(
For what it's worth:
NAQT Correctness Guidelines wrote: D.33 Players may spell answers, but it is considered misconduct for a player to spell an answer intending to delay the game.
[...]
E.4 A player may be prompted to spell a phonetically close response. In such cases, the exact spelling is not always required (e.g. a player says muh-NAY and is prompted. A response of M-A-N-A-Y would be sufficient to remove ambiguity with Monet.)
ACF and PACE each have a nearly identical rule (actually using the same Manet/Monet example). I can only recall maybe once when I've asked a team to spell part of an answer, but just letting you know that by most rule systems it's within a moderator's right to ask. Not sure what they would've been looking for in your example, as "otoscope" sounds pretty distinct from e.g. "stethoscope."
exactly.
As if IESA needs a reason to be bad.

Re: "I'm sorry, I can't accept that."

Posted: Wed Apr 18, 2018 12:41 am
by the return of AHAN
El Salvadoreno wrote: As if IESA needs a reason to be bad.
To be fair, this wasn't IESA format-related. The moderator, who is respected in IHSA circles, made a regrettable decision to ask the spelling AFTER awarding points, then pulled them back.

Re: "I'm sorry, I can't accept that."

Posted: Thu Apr 19, 2018 11:55 am
by ValenciaQBowl
I always tell new moderators that the longer they are hemming and hawing on an answer line, the more they should be leaning towards accepting it. Otherwise, be prepared to say, "incorrect" on the first buzz.
I completely agree, but, having read in D2 at ICT, I can say that in some rare cases the alternate answer/non-acceptable answer explanations run to as much as three lines. I try to skim through the packet looking for those on my walk back to the room between matches, but there are times when it's just going to take a few seconds to run through all that text to determine if a given answer is acceptable or promptable. And sure, that might help the opposing team know the given answer is close. The best way around it is maybe to think about other ways to frame that "description acceptable" toss-up.