However, I'm sure that we've all had experiences with new or improving moderators who have affected the quality of the game experience. This can be due to inexperience, inability to pronounce technical scientific words or snippets of foreign languages, etc. There is also the category of moderators with stutters, lisps, and other various speech impediments. While rude to point out during a game, these experiences give the question-playing experience a degree of artificial difficulty: figuring out a specific moderator's speech patterns and quirks is part of playing a good game. Sort of like adjusting to turf quality in football or the specificities of a particular baseball diamond, I can imagine certain Quizbowl purists arguing that that kind of experience is part of the overall Quizbowl experience.
Does this have to be the case? I'm a decent, but probably not elite moderator, so this post won't be arguing for a particular style of reading questions appropriately in all circumstances. I do want to raise some points about moderator quality that I think could use some community discussion. I don't have any answers to these questions, but I do want to see what people generally think about moderators and what makes a given moderator good. Ideally, a guide to reading questions could be posted somewhere readily accessible for TDs to educate new moderators on best practices.
- Should moderators pause after sentences? I've always found it strange that certain moderators would prefer to blaze through a tossup without any regard for periods. Given the difficulty that most new players have adjusting to the tempo of Quizbowl competition, shouldn't we respect the periods placed by question writers and build in pauses? A simple line break after each period would do the trick, though it would certainly make tossups less visually appealing.
- If the technology were available to have a text-to-speech robot read out a standardized set of questions so that the moderator could keep detailed stats & score, would that be preferable? Imagine a world where the best reader in the world (debates can obviously occur over which reader is actually the best, but that could be dependent by set) reads out all tossups and bonuses ahead of time and the audio file gets sent out to TDs. Even while recognizing the difficulties in playing and pausing the audio appropriately - which could probably be made user-friendly quite easily - wouldn't such a system make games more fair? Moderators would still be able to step in in case of emergencies, resolve protests, and fix audio bugs should they occur.
- Is there an optimal gap between words that Quizbowl moderators should aim for to help newbies adjust to the game? I grant that this will change according to the difficulty level: middle school tournaments and Chicago Opens don't have to run on the same clock. However, just like college basketball vs. the NBA, it seems to make sense to me that the pace of our game should remain consistent and not vary arbitrarily according to moderator capability. I'm not sure what the practical workaround would be, but a demonstration by a TD before a tournament starts at the moderator meeting could give everyone a reasonable tempo to shoot for.