Moderating Speed --

Old college threads.
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Moderating Speed --

Post by sabine01 » Fri Aug 04, 2006 10:00 am

Mssrs. Barry and Sorice bring up something (in the Best Practices Thread) I've wanted to for a while.

Now personally, I learned to read/officiate in the Southeast. (Where, yes... we are a little relaxed in our reading/officiating speed... Well unless you're CBorg, but Florida doesn't quite count. ;) )

I've picked up my pace only slightly (no pun intended) when I moved to DC and started out @ GW. This is, in part due to being surrounded by quicker readers, but this is also due to having more experience in general. (The more you do it, the better you *do* get...) but I'm definitely not a person who reads SamerSpeed, even after all my years of experience moderating.

I average a full regular packet's worth of tossups and bonuses in an NAQT packet (which I'm told is no slouch.) Now, I'm also one of these moderators who can keep a game moving despite me being a little slower than some of my peers, so I often finish a round fairly quickly.

Despite this, I've been asked on a few occasions by certain players (HS and college mind -- often overruled by the other team in the match) to speed up. To which I always reply "Not at the expense of my clarity." Because honestly, I'm unintelligible at SamerSpeed (for lack of a better way of calling it.)

I often see the the presupposition that faster reading = better reading. I'm not so sure that is always the case. Good friend of mine, Tim Young, for example, is relatively on the quick, but I can barely understand him if he's modding for me (fortunately I'm not on the other side of a buzzer from him anymore).

Any other insights? Musings?

~Tricia
Last edited by sabine01 on Fri Aug 04, 2006 12:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by grapesmoker » Fri Aug 04, 2006 10:57 am

I'm of the opinion that a good reader should be able to get through 24/24 of an NAQT packet when two moderately good teams are playing. I tend to be on the fast reader side myself, and I find that I actually make more mistakes when I try to slow down because then I actually try to comprehend the words instead of just rattling them off the page. I did, however, end up reading the "ninety" in, say, "nineteen-ninety three" as "eighty" at last weekend's Keller and I apologize for those mistakes; this happened multiple times and I didn't even notice it until it was pointed out to me.

Yeah, speed is good, although clarity is obviously important. Most fast moderators tend to be pretty clear, though, because if you stumble too much, you'll just slow down. In any case, no packet should take more than 30 minutes to read, unless every tossup is going to the end and every team takes the full 5 seconds on the bonus parts.
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Post by First Chairman » Fri Aug 04, 2006 12:22 pm

One factor that should be accounted for is the fact that if two good teams are playing on a packet, one team or another should be interrupting the question and hopefully getting the questions right. Thus, when we say that a reader should get through 24/24 in 30 minutes, that's true... but packets get killed much faster when there is at least one very skilled team that prevents the reader from reading the entire text of every question out.

Thus I think that readers should actually feel free to SLOW DOWN. (I tend to change my speed of reading depending on the question.) The point should be to encourage teams to buzz in and help you move to the next question. It may be hard to test since one cannot really control reader speed or comprehension, but I suspect that the clearer a reader is, the easier the game is to play.
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Post by Howard » Fri Aug 04, 2006 12:41 pm

I read much faster for college games than I do for high school. College players seem much more accustomed to the faster pace and desire same to get more games in a reasonable amount of time. I've found that high school players, on the other hand, have trouble comprehending and digesting the information when readers speak at these breakneck speeds.

I'm pretty much willing to read at any speed that's fair to the teams and the tournament staff, as long as I can maintain my clarity, that is.
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Post by Byko » Fri Aug 04, 2006 12:57 pm

In general, if I'm reading a timed match, I'll definitely read faster than if I'm doing an untimed one. While my normal speed of reading is not slow, it doesn't get the job done to get through an entire NAQT packet in 18 minutes unless I have two VERY good teams with several early buzzes and not taking the full 5 seconds on each bonus part. As I speed up, I tend to end up stumbling over easier words or making mistakes like Jerry mentioned of reading years incorrectly. It's not a hugely significant difference, but to me, one more mistake from usual is difference enough.

I suppose one factor for my reading a little slower in untimed matches is that I have read several times in televised matches, where you have to speak a little slower so that the microphone (and players) will pick up everything you say very clearly. Nonetheless, I think I've gotten only one complaint in an untimed match of me reading too slowly in the years that I've moderated.

I definitely agree that college players are more used to speed readers as moderators, very much at the expense of quality in understanding them in most cases. If I ever read at NAQT ICT again, I'll probably have to break back into that habit, one with which I am not at all comfortable.
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Post by grapesmoker » Fri Aug 04, 2006 1:02 pm

Byko wrote:I definitely agree that college players are more used to speed readers as moderators, very much at the expense of quality in understanding them in most cases. If I ever read at NAQT ICT again, I'll probably have to break back into that habit, one with which I am not at all comfortable.
I don't think that's a correct statement about either college players or college moderators. Most fast moderators that I've ever had have been excellent; it's the slow moderators who are invariably hard to understand, or have difficulty pronouncing the words, or whatever.

One thing about being a good moderator is knowing where to place the emphasis. It's particularly important, in my opinion, to emphasize pronouns and so on, like putting more emphasis on the phrase "this man" or "this work." If that's not done, sometimes the thing being asked for gets lost in the text and that confuses people.
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Post by Byko » Fri Aug 04, 2006 1:15 pm

grapesmoker wrote:
Byko wrote:I definitely agree that college players are more used to speed readers as moderators, very much at the expense of quality in understanding them in most cases. If I ever read at NAQT ICT again, I'll probably have to break back into that habit, one with which I am not at all comfortable.
I don't think that's a correct statement about either college players or college moderators. Most fast moderators that I've ever had have been excellent; it's the slow moderators who are invariably hard to understand, or have difficulty pronouncing the words, or whatever.
You may be right--I haven't really done anything with the college game in the last 3-4 years, so the statement is more based on my past experiences with moderators who tried to hard to rush through packets and would later gloat about finishing the packet with 4 minutes left on the clock. It's quite possible it has changed since then.

I definitely agree with your second point--that's one thing more people need to realize/learn.
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Post by Birdofredum Sawin » Fri Aug 04, 2006 1:18 pm

Andrew... I accidentally obliterated your original post. Typed my whole response and hit submit -- :( Hit the edit button instead of quote....

My abject apologies, and I'll be a heck of a lot more careful. ~TS~

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Post by sabine01 » Fri Aug 04, 2006 1:42 pm

Andrew... I accidentally obliterated your original post. :( I hit the edit button instead of quote.... My abject apologies, and I'll be a heck of a lot more careful.
However, I think we can all agree that there are few things more pathetic than boasting about one's speed as a reader, say by noting on a blackboard how often one finishes an NAQT packet before time runs out.
--


Please explain. If you're taking a shot at my original post, you might want to refer to me directly?

In my original, that figure was provided as a quantity for frame of reference (and there are certainly people who are much speedier than me. How many times do I have to say that?) If you take the rest of the post around that, I definitely am not bragging.

There's always places where someone can improve -- when modding, when writing... Whatever it is. Which is why I brought this whole thing up.
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Post by Nathan » Fri Aug 04, 2006 2:07 pm

Tricia,

There was a certain individual (not you) who infamously did exactly that in a certain tournament.

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Post by First Chairman » Fri Aug 04, 2006 2:54 pm

Byko wrote: I suppose one factor for my reading a little slower in untimed matches is that I have read several times in televised matches, where you have to speak a little slower so that the microphone (and players) will pick up everything you say very clearly. Nonetheless, I think I've gotten only one complaint in an untimed match of me reading too slowly in the years that I've moderated.
I agree with that too. It annoys me when I am listening in on a game where the moderator has a microphone and I can't really understand what he/she is saying because he/she is reading the questions too quickly for me to pick up the words. In television or in any amplified sound system, one has to slow down to be sure the audience can understand you.

Otherwise, yes, I am sure that with college games I would read faster in general. Then again, it also depends on the text I am reading.
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Post by Strongside » Sun Aug 06, 2006 4:52 pm

I think it is tough to put a specific number of questions a person should get through in a round because the number of questions heard depends on the length of the questions, the difficulty of the questions, the quality of the teams playing, the number of neg 5's, when time runs out in the first half, etcetera. I feel that in a timed round the reader should reas as fast they reasonably can without sacrificing too much accuracy.
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Post by Tegan » Sun Aug 06, 2006 10:45 pm

I interjected something like this on last year's Illinois thread. Most of the high school coach moderators read too slowly for my taste (or worse, with an inconcistent pace). At my tournament, I was tempted to advise coaches that if they know they are slow to step aside, and not moderate. I got some good arguments against that, and opted not to.

There are a few collegiate moderators who border on the unintelligible, and at least in one case, when a coach questioned them on it, the mod got belligerent, telling the coach that his players should be used to fast reading. While true, that's no excuse for putting speed over clarity. In one match, a college moderator asked a Napoleon question, ending with "The Little Colonel" in French, and she could not understand what he was asking (this from a French V AP student).

I think there should be a standard of sorts. Let me throw this out: If a person sat and read an entire packet of NAQT questions, without any teams in the room (besides looking silly), how fast should it take to read every toss-up and every bonus, AND do so such that reasonable audience members understood what was being said. If such a standard were determined, that could heple people decide if they are doing a good job.

It's harder to do it under actual competition conditions because, as Dr. E.T.C. brought up, the timing can be skewed based on the number of questions being answered/interrupted.

Illinois is thinking about its next stage in moderator certification, and something along these lines may very well fit in: not just "can you speak", but "can you read in such a way as to finish a short match in 30 minutes or less".

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Post by QuizbowlPostmodernist » Sun Aug 06, 2006 10:53 pm

For a timed tournament, so long as the moderator corps isn't incompetently slow in bulk, I would favor shooting for the middle of the pack or slightly faster. If moderators are reading at roughly the same speed and getting through a legitimate number of tossups, then questions read per round doesn't become a reason to gripe.

Then again, I always thought that 24/24 (ACF+4/4 trash/current events/misc) in 10 minute halves where a tossup/bonus cycle is read to completion once it is began might be a reasonable timed format, and I can't see most moderators having a problem getting through rounds in their entirety if questions are edited suitably to cut out excess verbiage.

For an untimed tournament, you usually need be only somewhat faster than the slowest moderator in order to avoid being a detriment to the tournament speed-wise.

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Post by Matthew D » Sun Aug 06, 2006 11:16 pm

Tegan wrote:I interjected something like this on last year's Illinois thread. Most of the high school coach moderators read too slowly for my taste (or worse, with an inconcistent pace).
Again this comes down to a personal/team prefence, I like have had some slow moderators before but there are times I would take a slow one over one that can't be understood due to the fact they are attempting to read way to fast.
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Post by Ray » Mon Aug 07, 2006 12:04 am

I'll join the chorus of voices declaring that comprehensibility is more important than raw speed. I myself learned this lesson the hard way: by being the last room done at tournaments at which I've moderated too fast to be coherent and gotten flustered while trying to keep scores because I was thinking too much about reading as fast as humanly possible. But I do think that even on untimed rounds, moderators should make an effort to be as efficient as possible.

I don't find this to be a pressing problem confronting the quiz bowl community, but we do all have horror stories about incompetent moderators. I've been to a tournament at which English was not the first language of a moderator, who struggled to pronounce words that most middle schoolers know. I find that ridiculous. If there's any minimum standard to which moderators ought be held, it is basic fluency in the English language. I've also suffered through moderators with speech impediments. Thankfully, these are aberrant cases rather than the norm.

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Post by alkrav112 » Mon Aug 07, 2006 1:03 am

From personal experience, I favor a balance of speed and clarity (don't we all, but the subjectivity's the rub), but my definition weighs speed slightly more heavily. This is due in particular to an unfortunate incident at SCT this past year. In our first round match, we faced an opponent against whom we might have posted 500 or more points, but in the allotted time, our moderator only got through 12 tossups. The man in question was not an incompetent reader as far as I could tell - he wasn't stumbling over words, but he just read as though each word was made of taffy. That sort of clarity, while it allowed for a good PPTUH, is completely unacceptable, especially when a berth to ICT can depend on PPG. Thankfully, it made no difference overall, and the issue was handled swiftly and tactfully by those in charge.

In general, my stance is to have as much speed as possible while maintaining some sense of flow. Or just skip all the articles - that would speed things up too.

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Post by Tegan » Mon Aug 07, 2006 4:09 pm

I jsut performed an experiment (and I'm not doing this to set myself as the standard or brag .....). I just read an entire round of NAQT questions, (toss-ups, bonuses, answers), and did so with some tripping on words, but to the best of my knowledge corrected myself quickly, and kept up the pace. I did it in 17 minutes, 34 seconds. I think my clarity was good (I know, my opinion, but I'm trying to be honest. This is hardly busting the sound barrier, and hardly an indication of actual match time, since with players answering (or not answering), the time is considerably changed.

My question: how does this stack up? I can't imagine that is the fastest (not that I'm striving for it), but is this average? too slow? way too slow?

My experience at NAQT was in readnig for consolation matches (hence not the very strongest teams). By the end of 2005's tournament, I could read a full set in 30 minutes. This past year, I was doing around 22-23.

I'm just curious to see how this stacks up? In the future I might be interested in setting a time as a standard, and would be interested in how a bigger population does.

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Post by Matthew D » Mon Aug 07, 2006 5:14 pm

Personally, I think that 25-30 minutes or so would be a good average speed given that you might have to read the entire question..
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Post by No Rules Westbrook » Mon Aug 07, 2006 9:51 pm

My vote goes to option D: stop using clocks at tournaments...they're silly and pointless. Then, I vote for moderating speed of "leisurely, but fast enough to keep tournament moving."

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Post by Matt Weiner » Tue Aug 08, 2006 12:07 am

Yeah, it seems like the clocks create a lot of problems with people trying to fit an acceptable number of questions (note: anything under 20 is unnacceptable) into 18 minutes. In addition to being unnecessary (plenty of untimed events run on schedule), unpopular (does any tournament at all besides NAQT SCT and ICT use them anymore?), and introducing a new element of unfamiliarity in addition to the unusual style of NAQT questions, the clock definitely leads to unclear moderation. I know NAQT has previously said that the clocks are absolutely non-negotiable, but they did go and include an option for switching to untimed rounds on the last survey, so perhaps it's time to make a push in that direction.

Whether in some future NAQT or in the other tournaments that exist now, which are all untimed, the key is not to race through individual questions, but to keep control of the match and make sure there is no delay between one question and the next. I can't begin to count how many times I've seen a moderator read a tossup an allegro clip, only to waste time before the bonus making unfunny jokes or letting teams break into Socratic seminars. Just keep things moving and we can have everyone read at a pace that doesn't sacrifice clarity, without having overly long games.

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