Page 1 of 1

On Moderators, or, Silberman's Axiom Defended

Posted: Fri Jan 23, 2009 4:20 pm
by BuzzerZen
My somewhat acrimonious remarks in the leaving early thread sparked a bit of a side discussion which I think deserves its own thread. I have asserted, without much defense, the following axiom of tournament organization on multiple occasions over the years: never run a tournament for which you lack sufficient competent moderators. I feel like I should explain, sans unprovoked rancor, the various reasons why I firmly believe this to be the first principle of putting on a good event, and what it is that competent moderators contribute to the experience of a quiz bowl tourname[*]nt.

First of all, Jerry disputed this axiom with reference to EFT in the other thread. I would say that I think that Jerry, in running EFT at Brown, adhered to the axiom about as firmly as it is possible to do. He placed a cap on the field size when he determined that adding more teams would cause the quality of each team's experience to diminish. This is precisely the sort of behavior that I mean to promote by promulgating this axiom. He may have been recalling to some comments I made post-EFT about a couple mediocre moderators. For the record, I didn't think any of the moderators at EFT were incompetent. More on this distinction below. I'm not trying to mandate some exacting standard of quality here, just one that I view as a minimum.

A moderator should meet the following criteria to be characterized as competent:

- A competent moderator has played quiz bowl before. Could have been just once, could have been only in practice. But anyone moderating for a quiz bowl tournament needs to know what it feels like to play a quiz bowl match and know the various unspoken assumptions governing moderator behavior. I recall an older gentleman who read at Gonzaga tournaments who, after finishing tossups, would occasionally reread clues from the end or provide clues of his own, encouraging the players to pick up the points. Generally older gentlemen are not in the moderator recruiting pool for collegiate events, but I mean to illustrate the point that people who are less than experienced with quiz bowl can be unaware of important aspects of how the game is meant to operate.

- A competent moderator knows the rules, and, most importantly from an operational standpoint, knows how to handle wrong answers and protests. Meek roommates who have been dragged into a tournament on a Saturday morning and briefed hastily on the rules are not going to know what to do when Jerry Vinokurov first-lines a poorly-written tossup on "Ilf and Petrov" and says The Twelve Chairs. "The answer to this question isn't The Twelve Chairs," your roommate will think. "It's Ilf and Petrov." Jerry will get an undeserved neg, and by the time your roommate reads the words "...in this author's The Twelve Chairs," Jerry will be throwing chairs all over the place. [1] Your roommate will then have to deal with a protest from Jerry Vinokurov which your roommate probably does not quite know how to handle. Whereas you, a competent and experienced moderator, know when unspecified early answers ought to be acceptable, you know when answer lines are excessively underlined, you know how to ignore angry and vengeful players and continue reading the damn packet, and you know to just call an answer wrong when your own knowledge is too uncertain to make up for a sketchy answer line. Protests are the great healer.

- A competent moderator can fake their way through science words and foreign languages. This is, of course, a skill that takes development. The only foreign language I know is Spanish, and I'm fair-to-middling at parsing through polysyllabic organic compounds. But at this point in my quiz bowl career, I've got enough experience to deal with foreign names in what I hope is a reasonably non-distressing fashion. Inexperienced moderators usually will often try six or times to pronounce foreign names and come out with something garbled and confusing. [2] This is one area of moderator competence that probably goes away with experience, so I'm not going to say it's a total deal-breaker, but we've all had the experience of trying to figure out what the fuck word it was somebody just said.

- A competent moderator can shut people up. This is the talented Mr. Weiner's most harped-upon point vis a vis tournament efficiency, and I agree that it is critical to making things run smoothly. Certain players, like myself, are prone to meaningless post-tossup posturing. [3] Others will just chat between questions for no reason. Moderators must get these players to shut up, and the easiest way to do this is to continue reading questions. A more difficult situation arises when a team wishes to converse during another team's bonus. This calls for the advanced technique of snapping one's fingers disapprovingly while continuing to read the bonus.

- Finally, and perhaps most contentiously, a competent moderator can read quickly and coherently. Much has been said on the topic of speed. I will note only that it is coherent speed, above all else, that takes practice. (The question of ideal moderating speed is really secondary to the question of how long it takes to get through a round, which will be discussed below.)

These are what I would consider the minimum requirements for a moderator to be considered competent and fit for moderating a collegiate quiz bowl tournament. My next post will endeavor to illustrate why even one moderator who is significantly deficient in terms of competence can seriously damage the enjoyment of a tournament for some or all teams. I have to go from where I am now, but I'll be following up on this tonight, hopefully, or, if not, tomorrow. Feel free to discuss in the meantime.


Notes:
1. I do not mean to suggest that Jerry V. would actually throw chairs. Jerry V. is an even-tempered and well-meaning individual.
2. Some moderators struggle through uncommon domestic words. I believe the general ACF prescription of book-reading applies.
3. A fairly significant personal failing, I will acknowledge, but quiz bowl is my only competitive outlet, and if I can't posture here, I don't know where I'm gonna do it.

Re: On Moderators, or, Silberman's Axiom Defended

Posted: Fri Jan 23, 2009 7:01 pm
by at your pleasure
Prehaps what is needed are more oppurtunites for inexperience to practice and improve their moderating skills outside of tournaments.

Re: On Moderators, or, Silberman's Axiom Defended

Posted: Fri Jan 23, 2009 7:16 pm
by Matthew D
I would second that point, by taking the added pressure off and allowing for practice, those that want to become better will become better

Re: On Moderators, or, Silberman's Axiom Defended

Posted: Fri Jan 23, 2009 7:34 pm
by Terrible Shorts Depot
BuzzerZen wrote:2. Some moderators struggle through uncommon domestic words. I believe the general ACF prescription of book-reading applies
I usually don't venture into the college section, but this struck me. Reading alone will not allow you to pronounce words with more ease. You may see the word and go "Oh, hey, I know that word", but that alone does not guarantee perfection. An example: my freshman year, I was quizzing Andy on author work pairings. I come to Faust and, though he gave the correct answer of Goethe, I told him that he was wrong. Why? Because I assumed that Goethe was pronounced "GOTH" or something like that. Another example: just the other day, a very well read friend of mine used "inchoate" in conversation. She pronounced it "in-CHOTE", as opposed to "in-KO-ate". Basically, reading the word, however many times, does not lead to having the ability to pronounce it.

I agreed with just about everything else in the post, though.

Re: On Moderators, or, Silberman's Axiom Defended

Posted: Fri Jan 23, 2009 7:56 pm
by Marble-faced Bristle Tyrant
Anti-Climacus wrote:Prehaps what is needed are more oppurtunites for inexperience to practice and improve their moderating skills outside of tournaments.
Rotate readers during practice so everyone gets the opportunity to practice playing and reading. Finish a packet, go to the next player.
la2pgh wrote:
BuzzerZen wrote:2. Some moderators struggle through uncommon domestic words. I believe the general ACF prescription of book-reading applies
I usually don't venture into the college section, but this struck me. Reading alone will not allow you to pronounce words with more ease. You may see the word and go "Oh, hey, I know that word", but that alone does not guarantee perfection. An example: my freshman year, I was quizzing Andy on author work pairings. I come to Faust and, though he gave the correct answer of Goethe, I told him that he was wrong. Why? Because I assumed that Goethe was pronounced "GOTH" or something like that. Another example: just the other day, a very well read friend of mine used "inchoate" in conversation. She pronounced it "in-CHOTE", as opposed to "in-KO-ate". Basically, reading the word, however many times, does not lead to having the ability to pronounce it.
It seems to me that reading during practice gives one the opportunity to learn how to pronounce stuff, as long as you don't get all defensive when your teammates correct you. I generally try to repeat the correct pronunciations after I am told them so that I can better remember them. In my own experience, 'Haydn' and 'larynx' come to mind. Your Goethe and inchoate examples were good opportunities for you and your friend to learn how to pronounce those words so that you would likely know better next time. And I say better that you learn during practice than during a match at a tournament.

Now, if only Firefox's spellcheck would lead me to spelling 'opportunity' correctly...

fsb

Re: On Moderators, or, Silberman's Axiom Defended

Posted: Fri Jan 23, 2009 8:13 pm
by BuzzerZen
la2pgh wrote:
BuzzerZen wrote:2. Some moderators struggle through uncommon domestic words. I believe the general ACF prescription of book-reading applies
I usually don't venture into the college section, but this struck me. Reading alone will not allow you to pronounce words with more ease. You may see the word and go "Oh, hey, I know that word", but that alone does not guarantee perfection. An example: my freshman year, I was quizzing Andy on author work pairings. I come to Faust and, though he gave the correct answer of Goethe, I told him that he was wrong. Why? Because I assumed that Goethe was pronounced "GOTH" or something like that. Another example: just the other day, a very well read friend of mine used "inchoate" in conversation. She pronounced it "in-CHOTE", as opposed to "in-KO-ate". Basically, reading the word, however many times, does not lead to having the ability to pronounce it.
I am, of course, well aware of this phenomenon. It's screwed me up on plenty of occasions. My point was more that being exposed to a wider vocabulary to begin with improves the odds that one will have a clue of how to pronounce something.

Re: On Moderators, or, Silberman's Axiom Defended

Posted: Fri Jan 23, 2009 10:09 pm
by Skepticism and Animal Feed
BuzzerZen wrote: My point was more that being exposed to a wider vocabulary to begin with improves the odds that one will have a clue of how to pronounce something.
Without the eventual introduction of information on how words are pronounced, this does not follow at all.

Re: On Moderators, or, Silberman's Axiom Defended

Posted: Fri Jan 23, 2009 10:10 pm
by Skepticism and Animal Feed
As for Silberman's Axiom itself, I will oppose it on the grounds of distributive justice. I can think of no rule better suited to ensure that smaller, newer programs are unable to raise money and get themselves off the ground.

Re: On Moderators, or, Silberman's Axiom Defended

Posted: Fri Jan 23, 2009 10:36 pm
by at your pleasure
BuzzerZen wrote:
My point was more that being exposed to a wider vocabulary to begin with improves the odds that one will have a clue of how to pronounce something.
I've had the misfortune of managing to disprove that pretty throughly.

Re: On Moderators, or, Silberman's Axiom Defended

Posted: Fri Jan 23, 2009 10:39 pm
by cdcarter
Whig's Boson wrote:As for Silberman's Axiom itself, I will oppose it on the grounds of distributive justice. I can think of no rule better suited to ensure that smaller, newer programs are unable to raise money and get themselves off the ground.
You do realize you have essentially said that newer programs should be allowed to hold really badly run tournaments.

Re: On Moderators, or, Silberman's Axiom Defended

Posted: Fri Jan 23, 2009 10:49 pm
by powerplant
cdcarter wrote:
Whig's Boson wrote:As for Silberman's Axiom itself, I will oppose it on the grounds of distributive justice. I can think of no rule better suited to ensure that smaller, newer programs are unable to raise money and get themselves off the ground.
You do realize you have essentially said that newer programs should be allowed to hold really badly run tournaments.
I agree with Bruce though. At Centre, there are three people with "real" quizbowl experience, and one of them doesn't even play. I don't see how my school, which is rather isolated from a pool of highly talented moderators. Under the axiom, Centre would be hosting a tournament with a field capped at around 8 to 12, and unable to field a house team.

Re: On Moderators, or, Silberman's Axiom Defended

Posted: Fri Jan 23, 2009 11:12 pm
by Auroni
I think Silberman's axiom is incredibly well-intentioned, but feasible only for programs that a) have several years of tournament-hosting experience under their belts and b) have a way of getting only competent moderators to staff a medium to large tournament. For programs that are emerging (or reemerging as the case may be), adherence to this axiom is either impossible or so difficult to achieve so as to be a hindrance. I really think that programs should get their feet wet by hosting a tournament, following very general guidelines (for example, I love bringing up cutting the chatter as something nearly every moderator could do that helps greatly), and getting used to contingency planning as teams drop out, matches take forever, and the entire gamut of things TDs are accustomed to facing. This will get them to adapt to their circumstances for the time being so that when they have the resources, implementation of Silberman's axiom can finally be observed without putting aside anything else.

Re: On Moderators, or, Silberman's Axiom Defended

Posted: Fri Jan 23, 2009 11:24 pm
by Skepticism and Animal Feed
cdcarter wrote:
Whig's Boson wrote:As for Silberman's Axiom itself, I will oppose it on the grounds of distributive justice. I can think of no rule better suited to ensure that smaller, newer programs are unable to raise money and get themselves off the ground.
You do realize you have essentially said that newer programs should be allowed to hold really badly run tournaments.
I think prohibiting newer teams from hosting tournaments is a greater evil than new programs hosting "really badly run tournaments". New teams need money and experience more than any other kind of team does. By denying them the ability to host tournaments, you are denying them the ability to interact with mainstream quizbowl, both by hosting and by attending (otherwise where is the money from attending going to come from?)

I mean, when somebody signs up to play ACF Fall or EFT at Random State University, who has never had a team in recent memory, I don't think anyone reasonably expects it to be the best run tournament ever. But the promise of Random State teams coming to your own tournaments later, and contributing to quizbowl for many years to come is such that I think most good natured teams would want to attend anyway.

Re: On Moderators, or, Silberman's Axiom Defended

Posted: Sat Jan 24, 2009 12:45 am
by BuzzerZen
Whig's Boson wrote:
BuzzerZen wrote: My point was more that being exposed to a wider vocabulary to begin with improves the odds that one will have a clue of how to pronounce something.
Without the eventual introduction of information on how words are pronounced, this does not follow at all.
I elided the premise that one eventually attempts to say the words one reads, and thus eventually receives information on correct pronunciations.

Re: On Moderators, or, Silberman's Axiom Defended

Posted: Sat Jan 24, 2009 12:47 am
by BuzzerZen
powerplant wrote:
cdcarter wrote:
Whig's Boson wrote:As for Silberman's Axiom itself, I will oppose it on the grounds of distributive justice. I can think of no rule better suited to ensure that smaller, newer programs are unable to raise money and get themselves off the ground.
You do realize you have essentially said that newer programs should be allowed to hold really badly run tournaments.
I agree with Bruce though. At Centre, there are three people with "real" quizbowl experience, and one of them doesn't even play. I don't see how my school, which is rather isolated from a pool of highly talented moderators. Under the axiom, Centre would be hosting a tournament with a field capped at around 8 to 12, and unable to field a house team.
In what world are 8-12 team college tournaments too small? This seems to be approximately the field size of most second- and third-tier events in most regions. If you're getting rooms for free, which I believe most college programs are, you're still making $600-800 or more off of an eight team tournament.

Re: On Moderators, or, Silberman's Axiom Defended

Posted: Sat Jan 24, 2009 2:45 am
by Skepticism and Animal Feed
BuzzerZen wrote:
Whig's Boson wrote:
BuzzerZen wrote: My point was more that being exposed to a wider vocabulary to begin with improves the odds that one will have a clue of how to pronounce something.
Without the eventual introduction of information on how words are pronounced, this does not follow at all.
I elided the premise that one eventually attempts to say the words one reads, and thus eventually receives information on correct pronunciations.
I suppose this is true, but it strikes me as extremely inefficient. It is not necessarily the case that these corrections will be systematically useful.

I have a friend who learned theology at Oxford. I learned theology from reading books and packets. We've been meeting fairly regularly for lunch to discuss the subject, and virtually every time he catches me mispronouncing a technical term (usually a Greek borrowing) and notes how obvious it is that I learned from reading rather than lectures.

Re: On Moderators, or, Silberman's Axiom Defended

Posted: Sat Jan 24, 2009 11:37 am
by BuzzerZen
Whig's Boson wrote:I have a friend who learned theology at Oxford. I learned theology from reading books and packets. We've been meeting fairly regularly for lunch to discuss the subject, and virtually every time he catches me mispronouncing a technical term (usually a Greek borrowing) and notes how obvious it is that I learned from reading rather than lectures.
I mean, the main thing is, you knew the words, and you could say them with confidence and without stumbling, even if you said them wrong. In a quiz bowl match, an fluid English-phonetic pronunciation of some word is better than any amount of stumbling.

Re: On Moderators, or, Silberman's Axiom Defended

Posted: Sat Jan 24, 2009 1:48 pm
by AKKOLADE
So, like, is it not normal for places to hold morning moderator meetings?

Re: On Moderators, or, Silberman's Axiom Defended

Posted: Sat Jan 24, 2009 3:18 pm
by manary
At our ACF Winter, we hadn't read the packets yet. I went to bed at 2am, and the email with the packets hadn't arrived yet. I got up and got some things together - unless I wanted to stay up late I couldn't have figured out where the hard words were. If it is a high school NAQT tournament, I usually try to read through and tell people about harder words, but these also usually have pronunciation guides.

Micah

Re: On Moderators, or, Silberman's Axiom Defended

Posted: Sat Jan 24, 2009 5:28 pm
by No Rules Westbrook
You just have to face the reality that there are three types of people who moderate: (1) people who are usually not very well-read and trip over all kinds of words (2) people who are well-read and know how to say most common words, but sometimes improperly pronounce more obscure names or things that tend to come up in quizbowl quite often (3) people who are well-read and have been around the game of quizbowl for awhile, so that they know how to pronounce almost every word.

Classes two and three are fine, noone's going to complain about those - even if the moderator mispronounces the name of some author, as long as he or she says it phonetically or offers a reasonable pronunciation, it's easy enough to figure out what they mean. Class one people are unfortunate, but I'm with Bruce - I don't think it's too helpful to go formulating axioms which have the practical effect of stopping some places from putting on otherwise-useful tournaments, since they just don't have enough class two and three people available.

Re: On Moderators, or, Silberman's Axiom Defended

Posted: Sat Jan 24, 2009 5:40 pm
by naturalistic phallacy
FredMorlan wrote:So, like, is it not normal for places to hold morning moderator meetings?
Do go over packets? No.

Re: On Moderators, or, Silberman's Axiom Defended

Posted: Sat Jan 24, 2009 6:24 pm
by AKKOLADE
tetragrammatology wrote:
FredMorlan wrote:So, like, is it not normal for places to hold morning moderator meetings?
Do go over packets? No.
Well, do you think implementing these would help prevent some of the problems that Evan (really, that everyone) is concerned about with regards to moderators?

Re: On Moderators, or, Silberman's Axiom Defended

Posted: Sat Jan 24, 2009 6:51 pm
by BuzzerZen
No Rules Westbrook wrote:I don't think it's too helpful to go formulating axioms which have the practical effect of stopping some places from putting on otherwise-useful tournaments, since they just don't have enough class two and three people available.
Well, the main target of this axiom is programs that do have access to enough competent moderators to put on a tournament of size n, yet find themselves running a tournament of size n+k.

Re: On Moderators, or, Silberman's Axiom Defended

Posted: Sun Jan 25, 2009 1:46 am
by Not That Kind of Christian!!
FredMorlan wrote:
tetragrammatology wrote:
FredMorlan wrote:So, like, is it not normal for places to hold morning moderator meetings?
Do go over packets? No.
Well, do you think implementing these would help prevent some of the problems that Evan (really, that everyone) is concerned about with regards to moderators?
Brandeis is a very small club, so when we host tournaments, I usually hold pre-tournament moderator meetings with those moderators who are not quizbowl players. This is not to say that it countervents all problems; teams have definitely noticed slow or inexperienced moderators at our tournaments, I know. But at least the moderator meeting enables me to hear the non-quizbowlers read, give them tips, explain the rules in context, etc. As a result, despite the fact that our practices only have between five and ten people at them, we can run satisfactory tournaments and make a little money.

Re: On Moderators, or, Silberman's Axiom Defended

Posted: Sun Jan 25, 2009 3:23 am
by theMoMA
FredMorlan wrote:
tetragrammatology wrote:
FredMorlan wrote:So, like, is it not normal for places to hold morning moderator meetings?
Do go over packets? No.
Well, do you think implementing these would help prevent some of the problems that Evan (really, that everyone) is concerned about with regards to moderators?
Most tournament start times run up against building opening times, and god knows that tournaments start late enough as is. There really isn't enough time for extensive moderator meetings at college tournaments. If a new program really wants to run a nice tournament, they could attempt to get together beforehand if the packets arrive early enough.

Re: On Moderators, or, Silberman's Axiom Defended

Posted: Sun Jan 25, 2009 1:38 pm
by Captain Sinico
I don't think that requiring a minimum level of competence hinders new programs in any way. Basically, it seems to me that all we're asking is that people make some effort to practice and train at moderating before they do so in an actual game (one that matters to me,) which is both eminently reasonable and accessible to everyone, however new their program.

MaS

Re: On Moderators, or, Silberman's Axiom Defended

Posted: Sun Jan 25, 2009 1:55 pm
by naturalistic phallacy
Captain Scipio wrote:I don't think that requiring a minimum level of competence hinders new programs in any way. Basically, it seems to me that all we're asking is that people make some effort to practice and train at moderating before they do so in an actual game (one that matters to me,) which is both eminently reasonable and accessible to everyone, however new their program.

MaS
The best training for moderating is reading and observing in practice. I would encourage newer players/people interested in moderating read a couple of packets, get comments if they desire, and watch how more experienced players read and make decisions.

Re: On Moderators, or, Silberman's Axiom Defended

Posted: Sun Jan 25, 2009 2:01 pm
by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN)
Yeah, in preparation for our high school tournaments, I always would spend a couple practices instructing moderators on how to read our high school questions, and I might just read a round to demonstrate, and then I'd always have the moderators who didn't have experience get up and read a game or two so we can make sure they are doing it right. This has paid off pretty well, and would heartily recommend it to any other young and inexperienced program.

Re: On Moderators, or, Silberman's Axiom Defended

Posted: Sun Jan 25, 2009 2:26 pm
by Cheynem
I'm not a great moderator, so I'm usually pretty sympathetic regarding moderators who struggle over foreign words or scientific terms. Some general things that I think TDs or experienced players could communicate to inexperienced moderators would be, based on personal experiences, this:

*Be enthused. There's nothing that kills a game faster than a moderator who reads in a monotone like he doesn't want to be there. I mean, don't read in a fake game show host way either, but read like you're enjoying what you're doing and the players will too.

*Don't engage in subtle "clues" regarding the questions, ESPECIALLY toss-ups. It's okay in practice or in informal settings, but I think it's bad form for a moderator to comment on a toss-up before reading it, like "This toss-up is bad" or even just "This is exciting" because it communicates certain things to players like "Oh, no, a hose" or "An offbeat answer choice" or it just might confuse players. This is bad. It is even bad, in my opinion, to say "I like the next toss-up" because it might communicate clues based on that reader's personal interests which might not be known equally to all teams.

*Don't be afraid to be a hardass. If you have to neg someone because they stalled when ringing in, do it. Stand by the decision and don't cave. I find it helps to do a consistent, visible way of counting time on toss-ups and on bonuses so you don't consciously or subconsciously change how much time you give people.

*Learn the various subtleties that quiz bowl answers require, like for example that a reasonable "blitz" of information ("H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds" should work for either Wells or War of the Worlds) is acceptable.

Re: On Moderators, or, Silberman's Axiom Defended

Posted: Sun Jan 25, 2009 2:35 pm
by naturalistic phallacy
Cheynem wrote:I'm not a great moderator, so I'm usually pretty sympathetic regarding moderators who struggle over foreign words or scientific terms. Some general things that I think TDs or experienced players could communicate to inexperienced moderators would be, based on personal experiences, this:

*Be enthused. There's nothing that kills a game faster than a moderator who reads in a monotone like he doesn't want to be there. I mean, don't read in a fake game show host way either, but read like you're enjoying what you're doing and the players will too.

*Don't engage in subtle "clues" regarding the questions, ESPECIALLY toss-ups. It's okay in practice or in informal settings, but I think it's bad form for a moderator to comment on a toss-up before reading it, like "This toss-up is bad" or even just "This is exciting" because it communicates certain things to players like "Oh, no, a hose" or "An offbeat answer choice" or it just might confuse players. This is bad. It is even bad, in my opinion, to say "I like the next toss-up" because it might communicate clues based on that reader's personal interests which might not be known equally to all teams.

*Don't be afraid to be a hardass. If you have to neg someone because they stalled when ringing in, do it. Stand by the decision and don't cave. I find it helps to do a consistent, visible way of counting time on toss-ups and on bonuses so you don't consciously or subconsciously change how much time you give people.

*Learn the various subtleties that quiz bowl answers require, like for example that a reasonable "blitz" of information ("H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds" should work for either Wells or War of the Worlds) is acceptable.
Excellent summary of things every moderator should aspire to do. And don't be so hard on yourself. You're a good moderator, Mike.

Re: On Moderators, or, Silberman's Axiom Defended

Posted: Sun Jan 25, 2009 2:45 pm
by cornfused
BuzzerZen wrote:you're still making $600-800 or more off of an eight team tournament.
You make $100 a team over there?

Re: On Moderators, or, Silberman's Axiom Defended

Posted: Sun Jan 25, 2009 6:22 pm
by No Rules Westbrook
*Don't engage in subtle "clues" regarding the questions, ESPECIALLY toss-ups. It's okay in practice or in informal settings, but I think it's bad form for a moderator to comment on a toss-up before reading it, like "This toss-up is bad" or even just "This is exciting" because it communicates certain things to players like "Oh, no, a hose" or "An offbeat answer choice" or it just might confuse players. This is bad. It is even bad, in my opinion, to say "I like the next toss-up" because it might communicate clues based on that reader's personal interests which might not be known equally to all teams.
Yeah, we could all probably spend hours talking about what kind of moderating we like and what kind we don't, but this is one important point. Even very good players and moderators are prone to doing this kind of stuff (I'll admit that I do it sometimes when I'm not watching myself), and it's annoying. To me, when someone knowledgeable says "this is exciting," it communicates a lot - at the very least, I know it's probably not going to be another tossup on the Wittig Reaction.

I'd personally caution against the being-a-hardass point, but that's a matter of taste probably.

Re: On Moderators, or, Silberman's Axiom Defended

Posted: Sun Jan 25, 2009 7:12 pm
by pray for elves
While we're on the topic of moderating well, here's one other tip:
  • If an answer is not on the sheet but you think it could be right, err on the side of counting it wrong the first time; it's far, far easier to, after the tossup ends, figure out that their answer was right and award them credit than it is to explain to the other team why you gave someone credit for what turned out to be a wrong answer.

Re: On Moderators, or, Silberman's Axiom Defended

Posted: Sun Jan 25, 2009 9:04 pm
by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN)
Yeah, in situations like that what I always do is count the answer wrong, and then remind them if it's something that could feasibly be right but isn't on the page that the team that missed it has the right to protest it to see if it makes a difference at the end. I personally think that's a fair thing to do (especially for high school, when a lot of people are less experienced).