Buzzers | You

Elaborate on the merits of specific tournaments or have general theoretical discussion here.
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Cody
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Buzzers | You

Post by Cody » Sun Apr 24, 2016 6:50 pm

The VCU van brought 6 working sets of buzzers to ACF Nationals, which then needed only 14-16 more buzzers across 43 teams to have a fully buzzable tournament. And yet -- ACF Nationals had essentially zero buzzers to spare because many teams brought buzzers that didn't work!

Perhaps this is a controversial statement, but when you bring buzzers to a tournament, especially a national tournament, they should work. Bringing broken buzzers gets you a $5 discount that a TD may or may not bother to revoke (though I always try to!) and, in exchange, you create the potential for the tournament to be played as slap bowl or to cause substantial delays in terms of switching out buzzers.

I won't name all of the buzzers that didn't work, but I will name WUSTL: what the fuck, WUSTL? Not only did neither of your buzzer sets work, but just the previous weekend, NAQT had labeled one of them as missing a power cord. And then the fact that it was missing a power cord was posted about on the boards! And you still brought a buzzer missing a power cord! (it's not clear if it's the same buzzer, but I have to assume it is). This is a very belated edit, but I was very incorrect here and I'd like to apologize to WUSTL.

in summary: be better about your buzzers. it doesn't cost much to get most buzzers fixed or the replacement parts to fix them. do it.
Last edited by Cody on Sat Apr 22, 2017 5:48 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Buzzers | You

Post by AKKOLADE » Sun Apr 24, 2016 7:06 pm

Maybe we should start listing off people who bring buzzers that don't work. This will result in data on teams that may bring bad buzzers to tournaments intentionally so they can get the discount, despite the system not working.
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Re: Buzzers | You

Post by armitage » Sun Apr 24, 2016 7:28 pm

Wow, I'm really sorry that happened. I'm not personally in possession of our buzzers and didn't have the presence of mind to check them before either national, nor did I take a close look at the tag NAQT left since I didn't have any indication that it was our buzzer that was missing the cord - if someone shot one of us an email or PM I'm sure we would have checked, but we should definitely have been more careful. They seemed to be working at MUT and MYSTERIUM the prior two weekends, at least to my knowledge, but we really should have taken a look at them instead of sleepwalking through the last two weekends. Thanks for letting us know and I truly apologize for causing you all any stress. Like a dog to its vomit I guess!
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Re: Buzzers | You

Post by UlyssesInvictus » Sun Apr 24, 2016 8:08 pm

I know personally that Harvard brought a buzzer without a power cord to each of ICT and Nationals. The former is our fault--I didn't check all the buzzers before we brought them, which would have told us not to bring one. The latter may be our fault, but leaves me very confused, since it definitely was one of the working buzzers from the previous weekend. The most likely scenario is there was a mixup during the week, but I'm still not really sure how it happened.

On a separate, but related note, I'm starting to become more and more hesitant to bring buzzers to tournaments for reasons other than the public good of being able to run a tournament. One of our buzzers was partially broken at ICT (i.e., one of the previously completely working ones), and in general buzzers frequently come back without components from tournaments (likely both team members, when they do have the chance, forgetting to check before leaving, and also staff giving back buzzers without themselves checking before the team has to leave in a rush).

It seems like, of course, there's no tournament when no one brings any buzzers, and of course for the good of the community bring all the buzzers you can...but it's also turning into a game (theory) of bringing the minimum # of buzzers to get a tournament off the ground so you don't have to worry about constantly losing buzzers every weekend. (And by extension, ordering and keeping buzzers on hand; or just not restocking when buzzers finally break.) I'm not sure how publicly shaming teams would encourage them to bring more buzzers. Maybe to convert some teams to starting bringing working buzzers, but also to get them to just stop bringing buzzers at all!

Of course, the solution is just to increase the incentives for bringing good buzzers. ICT and Nats are both international tournaments, but the former offers -$20/buzzer and the second only -$5. I know the former also charges more...but can't the latter do that, too? Clearly I haven't spent the time thinking about all the financial repercussions this might entail, but at least at national tournaments there might be a way to convince teams to bring more buzzers? (Noting that this doesn't also rule out punishments for bringing clearly defective buzzers...)
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Re: Buzzers | You

Post by Adventure Temple Trail » Sun Apr 24, 2016 8:20 pm

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Re: Buzzers | You

Post by Cody » Sun Apr 24, 2016 8:55 pm

If your buzzer is broken at a tournament (or a moderator forgets to put the power cord back in), the tournament director should be responsible for reimbursing you to get your buzzer fixed. Local tournament staff, in particular, need to be 100% on the ball about returning a buzzer in full working form.
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Re: Buzzers | You

Post by Rococo A Go Go » Sun Apr 24, 2016 9:27 pm

I think there are two problems with how "buzzer discounts" are constructed that allow these problems to persist:

One is that we sell teams on the idea that the baseline fee is [x] dollars, and that a total of [y] dollars are subtracted from the normal fee if you bring a buzzer set. Perhaps this is a backwards way of looking at this however: in reality you should pay [x] dollars for a tournament, and be charged [y] dollars for not providing materials to collectively allow the tournament to operate. This enforces a standard towards teams that if you wish to avoid penalties, in the long run you should buy and maintain a buzzer system.

However it's too simple to problematize the issue in those terms, because even if people viewed buzzer discounts as buzzer penalties, the relatively small penalty for not bringing a buzzer is easily dismissed. Every time my team has forgotten to bring a buzzer system to a tournament, we were mildly frustrated (because it was a poor fulfillment of our duties as a member of the community) but not particularly concerned about the consequences. Implementing a system of consequences is more tricky, but I have a proposal that may be worth exploring:

--Tournament directors should lower baseline entry fees by $10 from previous standards.
--Every school that attends a tournament is required to bring enough buzzer systems to serve the number of teams they bring, for example: 1-2 teams=1 system, 3-4 teams=2 systems, 5-6 teams=3 systems, etc.
--Every school that brings the appropriate number of working buzzer systems pays the baseline fee.
--Every school that fails to bring the appropriate number of working buzzer systems pays a $30 penalty.
--Bringing additional buzzer systems above the required number for your school will result in a $10 discount from the baseline fee.
--Schools that qualify for the "New to Quizbowl" discount would be exempt from the penalty.
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Re: Buzzers | You

Post by Ike » Mon Apr 25, 2016 2:53 am

What?

Are we in such dire straits that we need to fundamentally overhaul the system for buzzer discounts? I mean yeah, it does suck when people bring buzzers that don't work to tournaments, and I agree that PSAs like these are necessary - people should fix their buzzers. But only one tournament I have been into the last five years didn't have enough working buzzers and it was the hosts' fault because they just flat out refused to give buzzer discounts. I guess what I'm saying is, I don't think it's necessary at all to adopt Nick's system - which has some serious issues by the way, unless every tournament that I don't go to / observe has this major issue.

Also, players, stop smashing your buzzers when you lose a buzzer race, sit on a tossup or whatever. Just smash something else instead please. I'm calling you out Sorice!

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Re: Buzzers | You

Post by AKKOLADE » Mon Apr 25, 2016 7:29 am

Ferlinghetti's Axis wrote:I think there are two problems with how "buzzer discounts" are constructed that allow these problems to persist:

One is that we sell teams on the idea that the baseline fee is [x] dollars, and that a total of [y] dollars are subtracted from the normal fee if you bring a buzzer set. Perhaps this is a backwards way of looking at this however: in reality you should pay [x] dollars for a tournament, and be charged [y] dollars for not providing materials to collectively allow the tournament to operate. This enforces a standard towards teams that if you wish to avoid penalties, in the long run you should buy and maintain a buzzer system.

However it's too simple to problematize the issue in those terms, because even if people viewed buzzer discounts as buzzer penalties, the relatively small penalty for not bringing a buzzer is easily dismissed. Every time my team has forgotten to bring a buzzer system to a tournament, we were mildly frustrated (because it was a poor fulfillment of our duties as a member of the community) but not particularly concerned about the consequences. Implementing a system of consequences is more tricky, but I have a proposal that may be worth exploring:

--Tournament directors should lower baseline entry fees by $10 from previous standards.
--Every school that attends a tournament is required to bring enough buzzer systems to serve the number of teams they bring, for example: 1-2 teams=1 system, 3-4 teams=2 systems, 5-6 teams=3 systems, etc.
--Every school that brings the appropriate number of working buzzer systems pays the baseline fee.
--Every school that fails to bring the appropriate number of working buzzer systems pays a $30 penalty.
--Bringing additional buzzer systems above the required number for your school will result in a $10 discount from the baseline fee.
--Schools that qualify for the "New to Quizbowl" discount would be exempt from the penalty.
This seems overly complicated and likely won't address the issue at the heart of this, plus will unnecessarily penalize newer teams that aren't discount eligible but don't have buzzers.
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Re: Buzzers | You

Post by Cody » Mon Apr 25, 2016 9:45 am

I heartily disagree with Nick's suggestion for the reasons that Fred and Ike lay out -- and the additional reason that even some experienced teams do not have buzzers that are appropriate for use in a tournament setting. Temperamental buzzers that may or may not have 8 working units are fine for practice, but not a tournament setting. Quizbowl is not yet at a place where most teams can play all tournaments using funding from hosting tournaments combined with funding from their school. Adding in the cost of a completely working buzzer presents, imo, an unreasonable barrier to participating in quizbowl.
Ike wrote:Also, players, stop smashing your buzzers when you lose a buzzer race, sit on a tossup or whatever.
Seriously -- this is unacceptable. Moderators -- please pay attention to this kind of behavior and (a) discourage it (b) report it to your tournament director. Get in on quizbowl's newest mantra: "do to another's buzzer as you would have them do to your buzzer".
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Re: Buzzers | You

Post by Cheynem » Mon Apr 25, 2016 10:48 am

Is it possible to do something like a "Buzzer Fund" in which teams may make a donation to ACF or NAQT for those companies to buy a surplus of buzzers? The donation would allow the teams to get a discount at every ACF or NAQT tournament for a certain length of time (discount and length proportionate to donation). This would help groups who need large amounts of buzzers for tournaments, but eliminate the onus on teams to travel with buzzers.
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Re: Buzzers | You

Post by Great Bustard » Mon Apr 25, 2016 11:33 am

I'd be happy to work out deals on a case by case basis where in exchange for hosting a tournament (esp. in areas we're underrepresented in, e.g. Minnesota, North Carolina, Michigan, Missouri, etc.) and doing a bit of very basic outreach (e.g. a few email blasts, talking with some coaches, being generally supportive of NHBB), NHBB would not only pay a director from a college team interested in hosting, but we'd then order a new set of Andersons for a college team in need of a new buzzer system. Email me if you'd be interested in this for 2016-17. Also, with enough advance notice, I'm happy to loan out NHBB systems (we own over 100), or order new ones that you'd send back to us once your tournament is over, since we'll always need more. Note that "enough advance notice" means roughly one month in advance, not 3 days.
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Re: Buzzers | You

Post by Rococo A Go Go » Mon Apr 25, 2016 11:44 am

Alright fine, my system is stupid. Just don't keep bitching about this problem without trying to find a solution, is all I'm saying. We have this conversation EVERY year, and nobody ever does anything about it.

Surely somebody in quizbowl has the ability to sit down for more than 15 minutes and come up with a better idea than I did during my limited free time.

EDIT: Oh right, I forgot...I did fix this problem at WKU for our high school tournaments! We just required teams to bring their damn buzzers, and when teams said they didn't have buzzers, we gave them exceptions. We didn't use "discounts" or "penalties" at all. We never had complaints, we never had too few buzzers, and tournaments ran just fine without offering discounts. Perhaps the college circuit is fundamentally different, but I really don't have any qualms with the idea that my team should show up with our two buzzer systems because it's the right thing to do to make the fucking tournament run, instead of a $10 discount.
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Re: Buzzers | You

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Mon Apr 25, 2016 11:56 am

How does NHBB store and transport 100+ buzzers?
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Re: Buzzers | You

Post by Cheynem » Mon Apr 25, 2016 1:28 pm

Maybe I'm wrong, but I feel like in high schools, you will get better responses when you ask teams to bring buzzers. One, HS teams at least in my experience are more likely to have a working, functional buzzer, due to the continuity nature of HS programs (if you have a coach, that person is there regardless of who graduates or leaves and can thus hold on to and repair buzzers) and two, HS teams usually have some sort of responsible authority figure type who can remember to bring it.

I'm not sure why Nick is so angry here--I think the plan he proposed in his last post (the edited one, not the original one) makes sense--require teams to bring buzzers, if they don't have one or can't for some reason, that's fine. If it's a small tournament and you've got buzzers taken care of, then you don't have to do it (i.e., your Minnesota eight-team field).
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Re: Buzzers | You

Post by Rococo A Go Go » Mon Apr 25, 2016 2:01 pm

Cheynem wrote:Maybe I'm wrong, but I feel like in high schools, you will get better responses when you ask teams to bring buzzers. One, HS teams at least in my experience are more likely to have a working, functional buzzer, due to the continuity nature of HS programs (if you have a coach, that person is there regardless of who graduates or leaves and can thus hold on to and repair buzzers) and two, HS teams usually have some sort of responsible authority figure type who can remember to bring it.

I'm not sure why Nick is so angry here--I think the plan he proposed in his last post (the edited one, not the original one) makes sense--require teams to bring buzzers, if they don't have one or can't for some reason, that's fine. If it's a small tournament and you've got buzzers taken care of, then you don't have to do it (i.e., your Minnesota eight-team field).
To be fair, I sat down after my last post and realized that I was coming off as angry. I think this is more of a function of my wording than actual emotion, but I am frustrated that I came into this conversation without thinking it through. I hold myself to high standards and my first post was, while meant in the spirit of a helpful thought experiment, mostly just perceived as a really bad idea.

I do have a problem with how this issue is raised though, which contributes to my irascibility. I think there are two separate issues at play with the situation Cody is describing, and that we're all (myself included) trying to reduce the issue to one constituent part. One problem is that teams are bringing broken buzzer systems to tournaments like ACF Nationals, while the other problem is that not enough buzzers are being brought to tournaments like ACF Nationals. When taken together, a bunch of broken buzzers are holding up the tournament/having to be used while partially functional because replacements aren't available.

I think the broken buzzer issue is complicated though: some teams bring broken sets on purpose, but buzzer systems also break without teams knowing during car trips, tournaments, or they just magically stop working in the middle of a game without anybody knowing why #3 isn't lighting up anymore when it was perfectly fine 5 minutes ago. Shit happens. I personally think we have to remove incentives that would cause teams to bring broken sets on purpose, but the latter issue is just going to happen (until somebody builds foolproof buzzer sets that everybody buys) and the best solution is to encourage teams to bring an excess of buzzers.
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Re: Buzzers | You

Post by sonstige » Mon Apr 25, 2016 2:30 pm

I've wondered in the past --- especially for regional-level events (like an ACF Regs or NAQT SCT) --- whether the organization supplying the questions couldn't also FedEx buzzers to the hosting sites (likely for some shipping expense + a convenience charge, maybe?). Assuming, of course, that said organization has a supply of buzzers that could be shipped.

Even for non-ACF or non-NAQT events, it'd be nice if there existed a central buzzer supplier* which could ship buzzers to a site for a nominal fee. If I were to host something here in Orlando (say MUT) and knew that I'd be short based on the information received from teams ahead of time , I'd be much more inclined to want to pay somebody $20 or whatever to ship buzzers to me that I could send back after the tournament...rather than have to purchase my own sets (or host an event with insufficient systems, even).

Likewise, if I were to travel to a site that required me to bring a buzzer --- I'd be happy to pay somebody to ship a buzzer set to that site on my behalf.

This would seem, in theory, to alleviate teams from having to own/maintain buzzers and correspondingly travel with them through airports, etc.

* By "central buzzer supplier" --- I imagine this could be anything from an actual business to a college or high school team that just happens to have buzzers that they'd be willing to essentially rent out for a weekend.
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Re: Buzzers | You

Post by Great Bustard » Mon Apr 25, 2016 6:51 pm

Skepticism and Animal Feed wrote:How does NHBB store and transport 100+ buzzers?
We have a storage locker in Arlington, many of the rest reside in my parents' basement in New Jersey now that Nolwenn and I live on the road full time; others are strategically based around the world; 12 are on semi-permanent loan to ACE. For shipping, USPS 2 day priority mail is usually best, though UPS ground is good. Nolwenn and I travel with up to 3 large Delsy suitcases that cost about $120 each when we're running IHBB events. We strategically aim to maintain elite status with all 3 major airline alliances so that we almost never pay excess baggage fees. When we're overseas, my parents still send buzzers out from Jersey, so we can still operate domestically. That's basically how it works, though with each year, we try and build up greater regional stockpiles with schools.
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Re: Buzzers | You

Post by QuizBowlRonin » Fri Apr 29, 2016 5:19 am

Cody wrote:I won't name all of the buzzers that didn't work, but I will name WUSTL: what the fuck, WUSTL? Not only did neither of your buzzer sets work, but just the previous weekend, NAQT had labeled one of them as missing a power cord. And then the fact that it was missing a power cord was posted about on the boards! And you still brought a buzzer missing a power cord! (it's not clear if it's the same buzzer, but I have to assume it is).
Attention Richard Yu:

Please send me an address to which I can ship a new buzzer system of reasonable and acceptable quality. Our good name shall not be besmirched.

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Re: Buzzers | You

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Fri Apr 29, 2016 12:14 pm

QuizBowlRonin wrote:
Cody wrote:I won't name all of the buzzers that didn't work, but I will name WUSTL: what the fuck, WUSTL? Not only did neither of your buzzer sets work, but just the previous weekend, NAQT had labeled one of them as missing a power cord. And then the fact that it was missing a power cord was posted about on the boards! And you still brought a buzzer missing a power cord! (it's not clear if it's the same buzzer, but I have to assume it is).
Attention Richard Yu:

Please send me an address to which I can ship a new buzzer system of reasonable and acceptable quality. Our good name shall not be besmirched.

- JCP
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Re: Buzzers | You

Post by QuizBowlRonin » Tue May 03, 2016 5:05 am

The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote:Man, it's like looking into the future. This is totally what I plan to do with all that MD-PhD money :party:
Only the MD money man - $125/hr moonlighting
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Re: Buzzers | You

Post by Charbroil » Mon May 09, 2016 11:57 pm

First of all, sorry for taking so long to post in this thread. I've been busy with work and a variety of other things. (Plus, I had to block off some time to prepare for this post, including doing the buzzer tests detailed below, and I didn't have the time to do that for a while).

(Also, all links below are to files in my Dropbox.)

Anyway here's my response:
Cody wrote: WUSTL:...you...brought a buzzer missing a power cord!
I definitely deserve my share of the blame for this, since I'm the one with physical custody of our buzzers. I am also quite sorry that one of our sets was missing a power adapter when we brought it to ACF Nationals. Along those lines, I bought a new adapter using my own money the day I saw your post. As documentation of this, a copy of the order confirmation Anderson sent me the next day is here).

I did this so we could live up to our buzzer obligations at CO and any other summer tournaments we host/attend. As far as I'm concerned, bringing fully working buzzers to tournaments is an important part of one's obligations to the quiz bowl community. I am sorry we did not live up to that obligation.

That said:
Cody wrote: ...just the previous weekend, NAQT had labeled one of [your buzzers] as missing a power cord.
Neither of the NAQT labels on our buzzer sets says anything about a missing power cord. After your post, I found the set missing an adapter. Neither that set nor the other has any notes on its label.

You can see that here (we still haven't taken the labels off):

Label on buzzer set that we brought to ACF Nationals with a power adapter: (Front, Back)
Label on buzzer set that we brought to ACF Nationals without a power adapter: (Front, Back)

Beyond that:
Cody wrote: And then the fact that it was missing a power cord was posted about on the boards!
Where? I read every ICT related post after the tournament. I suspect I'm not the only one on our team who did this. None of us saw any reference to our buzzers missing a power adapter. After your post, I went back to look at every ICT related post to search for references to buzzers (as well as "WUSTL" and "WashU"). The only post I found was this one.

I don't think this post refers to our buzzers, since as you can see above, none of NAQT's labels said anything about a missing adapter in either of our sets. That said, the post is a little ambiguous since it refers to the "case" being marked with "Missing a cord." Thus, it could refer to a mark about a missing power adapter on the actual surface of one of our cases.

Along those lines, here is a ZIP file with photos of every side of both of our buzzer cases. As you can see, there is no such marking.

Beyond that, I also looked at the AVOGADRO'S NUMBER threads, since we provided both our buzzer sets for that tournament. As far as I could tell, none of them mentioned our buzzers. I know at least one of our buzzer sets worked at that tournament (since I played a round using it). Does anyone remember the other missing a power adapter?

Finally:
Cody wrote: ...neither of your buzzer sets [worked]...
It is true that one of our buzzer sets was missing a power adapter when we brought it to ACF Nationals. However, both of our buzzer sets work. I tested both sets Sunday night after seeing your posts. I also just tested them again in more detail. As proof that they work, videos of me testing both of our buzzer sets can be found here:

Buzzer set that we brought to ACF Nationals with a power adapter: (here)
Buzzer set that we brought to ACF Nationals without a power adapter: (here)

In the interest of full disclosure, I did discover today that the set of buzzers we brought to ACF Nationals with an adapter has 1 plunger (of 9) which sometimes doesn't work (it wouldn't buzz on the first try maybe 1 in 5 times when I tested it).

However, the other set (which we brought missing the adapter) had no problems whatsoever. Thus, if you did run into that problem with the former set at ACF Nationals, I don't know why you didn't switch the adapter to the latter to get a perfectly working set. Even if you didn't do that, the former set is still perfectly adequate.

Conclusion

Both of our buzzer sets work. One of them was missing a power adapter when we brought it to ACF Nationals, for which I apologize. However, NAQT did not label either set with this issue. I also can't find any forum threads that could have alerted us to this problem. Thus, I don't understand the basis for most of your post.

Theorizing

My theory is that whoever used our buzzers at AVOGADRO'S NUMBER didn't replace the power adapter. Obviously, I have no proof of this. However, since NAQT didn't label our buzzers with any issues, I believe they worked at ICT. The only time our buzzers were used between ICT and ACF Nationals was at AVOGADRO'S NUMBER (since we didn't use them at practice that week). Thus, our power adapter probably went missing then.

(As a personal note, if my theory is correct, I'm pretty sympathetic to the staffer who left our adapter. I remember how incredibly tired I was that evening and I'm sure they felt the same way, especially if they'd just moderated the entirety of that tournament. Even if we'd discovered that we were missing an adapter right after AVOGADRO'S NUMBER, I don't think it would have been necessary, in that context, to demand reimbursement/replacement. Of course, that's just my personal opinion.)
Charles Hang
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St. Charles Community College '14
Washington University in St. Louis '19 (President, 2017-19)

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jonpin
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Re: Buzzers | You

Post by jonpin » Tue May 10, 2016 6:49 am

Yeah, I will confirm that the buzzer marked as missing a cord which I posted about was not WUSTL's. Not sure how that misreading started.
Jon Pinyan
Coach, Bergen County Academies (NJ); former player for BCA (2000-03) and WUSTL (2003-07)
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Stat director for: NSC '13-'15, '17; ACF '14, '17, '19; NHBB '13-'15; NASAT '11

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