Answer lines and moderator errors

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Answer lines and moderator errors

Post by Gautam » Tue Feb 16, 2010 1:25 pm

At our T-party mirror this weekend there was an unfortunate situation. As far as I know, the following had happened, without divulging any specifics:

Team 1 had negged. Team 2 waited until the end, and gave what was a correct answer.

The answer line looked something like: "ANSWER: thisisrequiredbutnotthewholething"

Because of the red squiggly spell check lines the moderator got the impression that the whole answer-line was required, and ruled team 2 wrong; they'd only given the bolded+underlined answer. Team 2 didn't protest.

It so happened that at the end of the game, team 2 was down by 10 points. Team 2 discussed the situation with Rob, and Rob said that the answer team 2 gave should have been acceptable. I told the moderator to read team 2 the first unread bonus and team 2 30d the bonus. Based on this, I asked Rob to make the decision as to whether or not team 2 should be awarded the game; Rob decided that team 2 should be awarded the game.

First, I am interested in knowing whether or not it was the right decision to let team 2 hear a bonus. Second, I want to know whether it was right for Rob to have given the game to team 2.

The ACF rules say that "protests on a tossup or bonus must be made sometime before the next tossup is read." Since no official protest was lodged, were we even correct to let team 2 hear the bonus? Other than "please format your answer lines so that moderators don't screw up" is there anything else that can be done to address these situations?

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Re: Answer lines and moderator errors

Post by Cheynem » Tue Feb 16, 2010 1:48 pm

As the unfortunate moderator in this instance, I would say it was fair. This wasn't the case of giving a "somewhat correct" answer which no one bothered to protest. It was in fact, the perfectly correct answer, and it was solely my fault that they were not awarded points and a bonus. Obviously the match is thrown out of whack because who knows what bonus they get in that instance, who knows how the other team plays the last question knowing they are down, etc. But, in this instance, it was not the fault of either of the teams, it was the moderator's own fault and the team should not be punished for this.

I guess I feel that the protest in this instance is somewhat precluded by inaccurate moderator information.

Also, I should have probably just turned Spellcheck off.
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Re: Answer lines and moderator errors

Post by Marble-faced Bristle Tyrant » Tue Feb 16, 2010 1:50 pm

gkandlikar wrote:Other than "please format your answer lines so that moderators don't screw up" is there anything else that can be done to address these situations?
Or have moderators turn off the spelling and grammar check.

(ninja'd)
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Re: Answer lines and moderator errors

Post by Captain Sinico » Tue Feb 16, 2010 2:06 pm

Is there perhaps a way to do that for the whole document at source? That would be good as the correction marks in Word are a constant annoyance to many.

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Re: Answer lines and moderator errors

Post by cvdwightw » Tue Feb 16, 2010 2:15 pm

Captain Sinico wrote:Is there perhaps a way to do that for the whole document at source? That would be good as the correction marks in Word are a constant annoyance to many.

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For Word 2007, it's Spelling -> Options (the button in the bottom left of the popup window) -> Exceptions for: (it's the bottom section of the new popup window), then click "Hide spelling errors in this document only" and "Hide grammar errors in this document only."

I have no idea if this will work on files that are sent from editors to sites or whether moderators will have to do it themselves.
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Re: Answer lines and moderator errors

Post by fleurdelivre » Tue Feb 16, 2010 3:46 pm

Captain Sinico wrote:Is there perhaps a way to do that for the whole document at source? That would be good as the correction marks in Word are a constant annoyance to many.

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PDF.
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Re: Answer lines and moderator errors

Post by Mike Bentley » Tue Feb 16, 2010 4:11 pm

You can also view documents in Full Screen Reading mode in Word which offers a PDF-like view of them (so long as you have Office 2003 or later). The option for this is on the View tab. It doesn't persist across computers, though.
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Re: Answer lines and moderator errors

Post by Captain Sinico » Tue Feb 16, 2010 5:14 pm

Right, I know how to do it for myself. I'm wondering if there's a way to make it so for all viewers of the document. The notion of converting to PDF is fine with me, but some people have objected to it, of course.

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Re: Answer lines and moderator errors

Post by jonah » Tue Feb 16, 2010 5:37 pm

In Word 2003, select all, go to the Tools menu, Language submenu, Set Language, and check "Do not check spelling or grammar". I don't know about other versions, but something similar surely exists.

PDFs are better, though.
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Re: Answer lines and moderator errors

Post by Papa's in the House » Tue Feb 16, 2010 6:08 pm

I have decided to try and resolve a question presented in this thread by actually checking to see if it works. I use Word 2003 (and Windows) and I chose the Andrew Yaphe packet from ACF Fall 2005 to turn off the "Check for spelling/grammar errors in this document" rule. I then sent this document to Mike Sorice (who uses a Mac) and David Garb (who uses Windows). Hopefully they will download the document and check to see if there are any more red/green squiggly lines in the document. If not, then this procedure should work for preventing the moderator error that occurred. If not, it's back to the drawing board.

I am for the increased use of PDF documents. With PDFs you can't accidentally change the document yourself (by having something fall on your keyboard as you're reading), thus reducing potential problems for one room/moderator. Furthermore, it is relatively easy to convert from a Word document to a PDF (my computer came with several such converters for free and I have obtained another one due to the nature of my work). It is also easy to obtain a free reader (in fact, you can do so here).
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Re: Answer lines and moderator errors

Post by Kanga-Rat Murder Society » Tue Feb 16, 2010 6:14 pm

Obviously I am biased, but I really did not like how this happened. There is a reason that the rule is the way that it is. The fact is that a change in the score does affect the way a game is played. Going into the final question down by forty, the team that was behind may have played conservative to avoid a neg, which would have opened up the possibility to lose outright. You just do not know how the score affected the game. The rule clearly states that one needs to challenge at the end of the tossup, not ten minutes after the game ends. The winning team did not even figure out for themselves that they should have been right, instead relying on outside help.

I understand where Minnesota was coming from. The eventual winning team did say the correct answer. But where do you draw the line? There was a specific question in a different game where my player said an answer that should have been ruled correct, but because of a minor mistake in the editor's line, it was ruled a neg. Now, if this was a close game, could we go back now and say that we should have won the game? I don't think so. It is clear that there is no clear line on what should be acceptable. In a case like this, I think that the official rules should be followed.

This is not my real objection, though. My major problem with this was that nobody even bothered to notify the losing team that the result had been changed. If I had not mentioned it to them, they would never had known, and the only reason I knew about it was because I saw Mike being talked to about it. If you are going to change a result, you really owe the losing team an explanation, and they got none.
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Re: Answer lines and moderator errors

Post by Cheynem » Tue Feb 16, 2010 6:58 pm

Yeah, the losing team should definitely have been notified--I'm not sure what happened there.

I understand where you are coming from Nick. I guess how I interpreted the situation was that it was not really about protests, but errors. The other team did everything right in the situation, it was just the moderator's error. It's like the moderator screwing up and saying an answer and then having to read a replacement tossup--that might skew the game, but the moderator screwed up--it happens.
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Re: Answer lines and moderator errors

Post by Mike Bentley » Tue Feb 16, 2010 7:03 pm

BG MSL Champs wrote:Obviously I am biased, but I really did not like how this happened. There is a reason that the rule is the way that it is. The fact is that a change in the score does affect the way a game is played. Going into the final question down by forty, the team that was behind may have played conservative to avoid a neg, which would have opened up the possibility to lose outright. You just do not know how the score affected the game. The rule clearly states that one needs to challenge at the end of the tossup, not ten minutes after the game ends. The winning team did not even figure out for themselves that they should have been right, instead relying on outside help.

I understand where Minnesota was coming from. The eventual winning team did say the correct answer. But where do you draw the line? There was a specific question in a different game where my player said an answer that should have been ruled correct, but because of a minor mistake in the editor's line, it was ruled a neg. Now, if this was a close game, could we go back now and say that we should have won the game? I don't think so. It is clear that there is no clear line on what should be acceptable. In a case like this, I think that the official rules should be followed.

This is not my real objection, though. My major problem with this was that nobody even bothered to notify the losing team that the result had been changed. If I had not mentioned it to them, they would never had known, and the only reason I knew about it was because I saw Mike being talked to about it. If you are going to change a result, you really owe the losing team an explanation, and they got none.
Conversely, let's look at the following situation:

At Minnesota Open last year, I buzzed in on some tossup after hearing "Bloody Angle" and said "Wilderness". I was ruled incorrect, and accepted this assuming that I just got my facts wrong. The moderator later realized that this was an acceptable answer and gave me credit for it.

Let's say that instead of the moderator going back and checking if my answer was right or not, I didn't find this out until talking with some other players in the next match. If this decided a game, why should I be penalized for moderator error here?

I understand that there are cases where the score being different by as few as 5 points can impact when a person makes a decision to buzz on the last question. It sucks to penalize the team in the lead for embarking on a "don't neg" strategy that later costs them the game, just like it sucks to penalize a team for moderator error.

I'm not sure what the best way to handle this is, but I'm sure someone can figure it out,
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Re: Answer lines and moderator errors

Post by marnold » Tue Feb 16, 2010 7:10 pm

I'm not sure I agree that Team 2 did nothing wrong: specifically, it seems they failed to protest a question when they were actually in the right. In fact, this exact situation seems to be why the "protest before the next question" rule exists. That rule ensures that protests (at least the ones that matter) can get cleared up while the details are fresh in people's minds and the teams can be told the ruling in a timely fashion instead of hours later or not at all.
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Re: Answer lines and moderator errors

Post by Cheynem » Tue Feb 16, 2010 7:17 pm

I understand that viewpoint--I think that's true for most cases in which there's like a missing alternate answer and the other team just doesn't press the issue. Like to take Mike Bentley's Bloody Angle/Wilderness thing, if he never protested that and the game was over, that's probably not a good idea to completely revisit that. But in this instance, the answer was right on the page, the moderator just read it wrong. I guess I view that differently.
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Re: Answer lines and moderator errors

Post by marnold » Tue Feb 16, 2010 7:26 pm

There's no reason to view it differently, especially since the negative results are still the same (namely, a team gets a win jerked out from under them without even being able to know that there were points being disputed). If a team hears the moderator say the answer, hears the answer they gave in the middle of it and doesn't know enough about the topic to protest, it's not a travesty that they lose the game, especially because protesting in quizbowl is stunningly easy and non-controversial.
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Re: Answer lines and moderator errors

Post by grapesmoker » Tue Feb 16, 2010 7:50 pm

marnold wrote:I'm not sure I agree that Team 2 did nothing wrong: specifically, it seems they failed to protest a question when they were actually in the right. In fact, this exact situation seems to be why the "protest before the next question" rule exists. That rule ensures that protests (at least the ones that matter) can get cleared up while the details are fresh in people's minds and the teams can be told the ruling in a timely fashion instead of hours later or not at all.
I don't like the "protest before the next question" rule and would never enforce it as a moderator. It's far, far more important that a correct answer be recognized than that some feature of gameplay be preserved. I wouldn't go back and reverse match results hours after the fact (unless something super-important was resting on it), but this happened at the end of the match so I see nothing egregious about this. It's worth noting that protests are not resolved until the end anyway and only if they affect the outcome of the game, so the mechanics would have been absolutely identical in terms of the tossup being granted and the bonus being read. Of course, the other team should have been notified, but while it's unfortunate that they weren't, I think this is nothing more than a simple mistake on the part of the tournament staff rather than any injustice.
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Re: Answer lines and moderator errors

Post by marnold » Tue Feb 16, 2010 8:08 pm

But the point is this *didn't* happen at the end of the match, but afterward. Team 2 (perhaps we can pseudonymously call them Arleton-Cay instead?) figured out they should have been ruled correct when they were talking to Rob outside the room after Team 1 had already moved on.

Besides, this kind of thing is important because the margin of the game really does make a huge difference in how you play, especially in the final questions. At GARBAGE last year, my team had an (barely) insurmountable lead with 3 questions to play. I happened to neg those questions, the other team converted almost all the points, but it was no big deal because we still won by 10. Except then the other team retroactively protested one of our bonus answers from the first half of the game, was ruled correct and so we had to play a tiebreaker question. To me, that was fucking chickenshit of the first order and I still resent both the protest and the moderator accepting it. If the match was mathematically close, I really really really obviously wouldn't have played so aggressively, especially on the last question where I would have just put my buzzer down. This isn't just some random gameplay rule you can easily brush aside in the pursuit of rewarding knowledge: it's the kind of rule that has important, meaningful impact on the way games are played. I'm not sure of the intricacies of the score situation of particular example in question here, but just randomly deciding to ignore such an important rule is a bad decision.

EDIT: It actually occurs to me that I may have violated this myself at Chicago Open last year, but I'm not sure I remember the exact situation. I'm almost positive we actually protested at the appropriate time, but for some reason the ruling was reversed post facto, but Chris Borglum, Ahmad, Billy and Seth Kendall can claim gotcha if I'm being inconsistent here.
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Re: Answer lines and moderator errors

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Tue Feb 16, 2010 8:34 pm

grapesmoker wrote:It's far, far more important that a correct answer be recognized than that some feature of gameplay be preserved. I wouldn't go back and reverse match results hours after the fact (unless something super-important was resting on it), but this happened at the end of the match so I see nothing egregious about this.
The first part was my thought exactly; I would feel much worse telling, say, "Marleton" that they were correct but that they were being penalized due to the moderator's error. The error in question was brought to my attention immediately after the round in which it occurred--"Northfield University of Higher Learning" happened to be talking about the question and I told them they were right and should have been given the tossup, and I felt reasonably comfortable making that proclamation as co-TD. I do regret not immediately telling Wisconsin about the issue's resolution, but I do not regret the decision to award "Charles Two Thousand Pounds" a tossup that they did in fact answer correctly.
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Re: Answer lines and moderator errors

Post by SnookerUSF » Tue Feb 16, 2010 9:29 pm

As per instructions: GOTCHA!

But if the mechanics are in essence unchanged (the protest was resolved at the end of the game, as it mattered), why have the rule at all? (Not a rhetorical question) Moreover, there is something of a flavor difference between the usual kind of protest and this one, right? This isn't a "judgement" call per se; this is a misreading of an acceptable answer. The moderator is going to be the only one before the match is over to know one way or another if this is the case. Perhaps, there are those who suggest that the team not only has the obligation to answer the question correctly, but to also double check the moderator's proper interpretation or reading of the answer line, and so, should they fail at either task, no points are to be had?
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Re: Answer lines and moderator errors

Post by Captain Sinico » Tue Feb 16, 2010 9:56 pm

I do think that requiring a protest within some finite time of a supposed error happening makes some sense in terms of strategy, so if you're up 45 with 1 to go but you know there's a pending protest, you can estimate the probability of the protest mattering and determine your optimal strategy (the game still has complete information in this sense.) However, I also agree with the thread of thought that it's much more important to get the answers right. I'm not sure I see a way to divide that baby.
Also to follow up on Charles' test, that does fix the problem. So all editors should please do that for all their rounds before they send them out.

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Re: Answer lines and moderator errors

Post by theMoMA » Tue Feb 16, 2010 10:45 pm

To throw a wrench into this...

I've been on the short end of the stick a couple times when a team has said an incorrect answer and been ruled correct. Marnold was actually awarded points for an incorrect answer at T-Party in this manner, and it was within their margin of victory had I gotten the answer on the rebound. At ACF Regionals last year, Toronto said "Cetshwayo" for a tossup on "Shaka Zulu" and was given points. How on earth are you, as a team, supposed to know this when it happens? Especially when the buzz is an early one, or the reason that the moderator accepts the answer is because the player slurred the words and it's not clear what the answer actually given was.
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Re: Answer lines and moderator errors

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Wed Feb 17, 2010 12:17 pm

theMoMA wrote:To throw a wrench into this...

I've been on the short end of the stick a couple times when a team has said an incorrect answer and been ruled correct. Marnold was actually awarded points for an incorrect answer at T-Party in this manner, and it was within their margin of victory had I gotten the answer on the rebound. At ACF Regionals last year, Toronto said "Cetshwayo" for a tossup on "Shaka Zulu" and was given points. How on earth are you, as a team, supposed to know this when it happens? Especially when the buzz is an early one, or the reason that the moderator accepts the answer is because the player slurred the words and it's not clear what the answer actually given was.
One recourse you have (assuming that, by reviewing the packet, you found out there was such a mistake) is to retaliate against the moderator by publicly criticizing him for his mistake and calling him out by name. If a moderator values his status within the quizbowl community, then fear of being called out as a bad moderator should cause him to be more careful about this.

Of course, this does nothing against random moderators who aren't really part of the community and/or don't place any value on what the community thinks of them. Who are the most likely to make such mistakes.
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Re: Answer lines and moderator errors

Post by Cheynem » Wed Feb 17, 2010 12:22 pm

I seriously doubt the effectiveness of it. It's not like most moderator errors are caused by "screw it, I don't care!" feelings that would be corrected by the condemnation of the quizbowl community at large. Most moderator errors are simple human errors. You can chastise me all you want for screwing up at T-Party, or dude A for reading the wrong answer at ACF Nationals or whatever, and perhaps if a pattern of behavior develops, said person should not get the best moderating gigs, but I doubt most moderators are being lazy screw ups. Errors just happen.
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Re: Answer lines and moderator errors

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Wed Feb 17, 2010 12:30 pm

I'm unenthusiastic about the efficacy of that recourse, Bruce, since it doesn't change the game result for you. I couldn't understand Jason Paik at ACF Nationals and because of that, I lost us the game against Stanford. I don't blame him for that; I probably could have done a better job listening, etc. etc. But even if I blamed him--or even if he had actually said something outright wrong at some point--I can't get that game back. Retaliation makes it less likely to happen again (if it's an issue of carelessness, I guess), but it does nothing to solve the problem.
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Re: Answer lines and moderator errors

Post by fleurdelivre » Wed Feb 17, 2010 2:42 pm

Whig's Boson wrote:One recourse you have (assuming that, by reviewing the packet, you found out there was such a mistake) is to retaliate against the moderator by publicly criticizing him for his mistake and calling him out by name. If a moderator values his status within the quizbowl community, then fear of being called out as a bad moderator should cause him to be more careful about this.

Of course, this does nothing against random moderators who aren't really part of the community and/or don't place any value on what the community thinks of them. Who are the most likely to make such mistakes.
Yes, because I value my standing in the community I'm happy to take vocal criticism every time I make a mistake... what? No - come to me individually. I don't like public shaming, and I try hard enough without ridiculous threats. Errors happen, even to good moderators. Hopefully, we correct them in time. Berating people after the fact only makes us feel less appreciated and less likely to stay part of the community. Let's not do this - fear is a terrible motivator when you're dealing with volunteers.
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Re: Answer lines and moderator errors

Post by dtaylor4 » Wed Feb 17, 2010 2:52 pm

fleurdelivre wrote:Berating people after the fact only makes us feel less appreciated and less likely to stay part of the community. Let's not do this - fear is a terrible motivator when you're dealing with volunteers.
This is truth. People volunteer to staff tournaments because they want to. Threatening them in such a manner is completely out of line.

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Re: Answer lines and moderator errors

Post by Not That Kind of Christian!! » Wed Feb 17, 2010 3:30 pm

dtaylor4 wrote:
fleurdelivre wrote:Berating people after the fact only makes us feel less appreciated and less likely to stay part of the community. Let's not do this - fear is a terrible motivator when you're dealing with volunteers.
This is truth. People volunteer to staff tournaments because they want to. Threatening them in such a manner is completely out of line.
These two are absolutely right. Better ideas: educate non-qb volunteers and bring them to a practice or two if there's time in order to reduce the mistake rate. Which, unless I'm grossly mistaken, isn't horribly high, even though any non-zero mistake rate is too high...
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Re: Answer lines and moderator errors

Post by Susan » Wed Feb 17, 2010 3:46 pm

Obviously, if you're in a match and the moderator is really problematic, you are completely entitled to give them (respectful! polite!) feedback about it to try to fix the problem, and, if the problem appears to be insoluble, you really ought to let the TD know what's going on so that they can (hopefully!) replace the moderator for the tournament and also think twice about relying on that person again unless he or she is willing to work on whatever the problem was.
Susan
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Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN)
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Re: Answer lines and moderator errors

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Wed Feb 17, 2010 7:27 pm

(hopefully!)
Unnecessary exclamation mark tally increase.
Charlie Dees, North Kansas City HS '08
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AKKOLADE
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Re: Answer lines and moderator errors

Post by AKKOLADE » Wed Feb 17, 2010 7:31 pm

Katamari Damacy wrote:
(hopefully!)
Unnecessary exclamation mark tally increase.
Stop it.
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Re: Answer lines and moderator errors

Post by Steve Watchorn » Mon Mar 08, 2010 1:30 am

So, an unusual thing happened which caused Carleton to beat Wisconsin.

Seems like I never left. Are those tinfoil hats still around?
Steve Watchorn
University of Michigan CBI Team 1991
University of Wisconsin - Madison Quiz Bowl 1995-2001
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