Omnibus post: ACF rules & organization changes, 2016-17

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Omnibus post: ACF rules & organization changes, 2016-17

Post by t-bar »

Over the summer, ACF has deliberated over and approved several changes to its rules and procedures for the 2016-17 year and beyond. They are enumerated below. If you have any questions about these changes, please post here or email me at [email protected].

Tournament Fees

The base fee for ACF Fall and ACF Regionals has been raised to $135; the base fee for ACF Nationals has been raised to $300. Additionally, the discount table for Fall and Regionals has been greatly simplified, for the benefit of teams and ACF alike. (See the ACF Fall global announcement for that tournament's specific discounts.) Our hope is that by being able to raise slightly more in funds in future years, we can devote more resources towards hosting as high-quality an ACF Nationals as we can, including competitive rates for reimbursing staff travel, and towards compensating editors for their work at competitive rates for the sets we produce.

New Path to Provisional Membership

ACF has voted to add a path to Provisional Membership for people who make substantial logistical contributions to ACF events. Prior to this change, it was only possible to become a Provisional member via editing work; as a result, many people who could have contributed to the continued growth and success of ACF as an organization have been neglected. We look forward to rectifying this in the years to come, and also have extended invitations to four potential Provisional Members -- Katy Peters, Roxanne Ilagan, Jon Pinyan, and Cody Voight -- on the basis of their logistical work in the 2014-15 and 2015-16 competition years.

Gameplay Rules Revision

ACF is pleased to announce that its official Gameplay Rules have been uploaded to our website in advance of the 2016-17 (link). For this year, we re-wrote our rule set from the ground up, instituting several changes to make the rulers clearer, more internally consistent, more in line with today's norms and standards, and less laden with archaic or informal jargon.

Much of this revision was based, with permission, on the work of the Partnership for Academic Competition Excellence (PACE), which created a comprehensive rule set for use at the high school level in updating its own rule set last spring. (Many of the explanations below are also borrowed, with permission, from PACE's post about the changes it made in a similar vein.) The current PACE and ACF rulesets both came out of discussions in the summer of 2015 between members of PACE, ACF, and HSAPQ about the viability of creating "common rules" for circuit events at the high school, collegiate, and open levels. While differences in priorities between those organizations mean that each one will continue to retain a separate rule set from here on out, ACF is hopeful that its own rules update will help standardize the way quizbowl is played across the transition between high school and college, reduce confusion, and facilitate increased rules expertise among players, staffers, and coaches of all ages.

Several major changes are as follows:
  • Eligibility rules have been split off and will be maintained separately from the gameplay rules from now on. (See below about info on those.) All information about the schedule format of ACF tournaments has also been severed from these rules.
  • These rules contain exactly three layers of embedding -- capital-lettered sections, numbered rules, and small-lettered sub-rules. There are no more sub-sub-layers below that, and all sections are numbered consistently in the above framework. This makes it easier to refer to specific rules and sub-rules by their section number.
  • For the sake of clarity, we have added "reminder text" in (parentheses and italics) at various points in the rules where a specific example might be helpful. We've also included internal cross-references to make it easier to see where rules interact across sections.
  • Timeouts have been officially added to the rules. Even though ACF rounds are untimed, each team can now call for a "timeout" between cycles up to one time per game. These timeouts last up to 30 seconds and are not a substitution opportunity.
  • The old rules were silent on the role of coaches, even though several college teams do have coaches or faculty sponsors. In these rules, the official in-match role of coaches, including authorizing them to make substitutions, call for timeouts, lodge protests, and keep digital score on an approved electronic device, is laid out.
  • Some norms of collegiate quizbowl tournaments, which were previously not officially specified as rules, have been hard-coded into the rules. In particular, these rules require a 6-player cap on the roster of each team, specify that the moderator should read the next bonus in the packet even if some tossups go unanswered, and require that moderators relaying a protest withhold the name of protesting teams if possible.
  • Rules terminology has been adjusted and made consistent to help with clarity and consistency. Terms are for the most part specified and defined before their first use. Terms such as "cycle," "regulation play," "match," "controlling team," and "[protest] upheld" have been added to official rules text. Previously-vague or ambiguous terms such as "prompt" and "answer" have been standardized in meaning. Informal or archaic terms and slang/jargon which once appeared in game rules ("neg," "go dead," etc.) have been relegated entirely to reminder text.
  • These rules contain an excerptible section on the use of power marks; while official ACF tournaments do not include power-marked tossups, we recognize that their use is common at other collegiate events, and thereby provide a set of real rules that local TDs can use if their tournaments have them. There is also a provision allowing for longer rounds in the event that a tournament has packets containing more than 20/20 each, as local tournaments such as DEES, Minnesota Open 2012, and Missouri Open 2015 have had in the past.
  • As was the case by tournament director fiat at ACF Nationals 2016, it is now specified that teams have three seconds to come up with a more specific answer upon being prompted for a more specific answer.
  • Over the past five years or so, some tournaments (including 2015 ACF Regionals) have included select answer lines which instruct the moderator to "anti-prompt" the player to be less specific upon giving certain almost-acceptable answers. There is now a rule indicating that moderators may anti-prompt if, and only if, the answer line of a question contains express instructions to do so on exactly the answer the player gave (and at no other time). The absence of anti-prompt instructions is never protestable. Matches in which no question contains anti-prompt instructions are thus unaffected by this change.
  • More details on specific correctness guidelines are presented in a separate section after the basics of ruling on answers more generally (accepting, not accepting, prompting, etc.).
  • Some changes have been made to clarify and improve protest procedure, including more specifics on what is and is not protestable. In particular, the ACF rules now treat the quick interjection of the word 'Protest!' during gameplay as indication of intent to lodge a protest, with all protests being officially lodged (providing specific details to the moderator, etc.) at the half, at the end of regulation play, or after a tiebreaker question. (As such, the lodging of protests is now, for the first time in years, handled consistently across the NAQT, PACE, and ACF rule sets.) Additionally, the use of written protest sheets at the TD's discretion is now codified in the rules.
  • The ethics and conduct rules have been revised to be more specific about what warrants a warning from the moderator and what constitutes severe misconduct for which a player can be ejected from the game or the tournament immediately.
  • It is now explicitly specified that players must silence and put away any/all electronic devices and pre-written notes before a match begins, though bringing blank paper or a notebook turned to a new page, so as to take personal notes, is permitted and encouraged.
Do note that while much of the text of this ruleset is equivalent with corresponding text in the new PACE ruleset, there are differences remaining. In particular, ACF has retained its "consonant rule" (that it is not necessary to attempt a reasonable phonetic pronunciation of vowels, unless it introduces an ambiguity such as "Monet"/"Manet"), and allows a player to amend their given answer an unlimited number of times until such time as the moderator cuts in to rule on a given answer. The ACF format also has penalties for interrupting a tossup with an incorrect answer ("negs") as a fundamental part of its rules for tossup play, whereas the PACE rule set does not require them.

Eligibility Rules Changes/Clarifications

While most of the eligibility rules remain the same, several passages have been rewritten or reorganized for clarity purposes. What's more, because they are now a standalone document, the Eligibility Rules have been re-numbered and re-lettered to be easier to read and reference (link). (As a result, "Rule A", "Rule B," and "Rule C" eligibility criteria are now accurately presented as sub-rules A, B, and C, respectively, to what's now Eligibility Rule 4.)

Some changes:
  • As ACF no longer admits high school teams to its events, and these eligibility rules only govern ACF events, all references to high school teams and high school tournaments have been removed. Local hosts of non-ACF events may set their own eligibility rules for their collegiate or open tournaments as they see fit.
  • We have clarified more about what constitutes a "school" affiliation; most broadly, schools with a physical-world campus, which have an associate's, bachelor's, master's, or doctorate program, confer eligibility to players in such programs. Professional certificate programs (even if affiliated with a school), specialized professional training programs such as "tech bootcamps," and online-only institutions do not count. ACF acknowledges that due to past ambiguity in the eligibility rules, programs such as online certificates affiliated with a land-campus university have been ruled on by the Eligibility Committee in inconsistent ways from year to year, and are making sure to be more specific and fair to players in such programs from here on out (by making clear that if it doesn't end in an associates', bachelors', masters', doctorate, or clear equivalent, that it doesn't count).
  • We have clarified that a player who receives a degree in good standing in the middle of a competition year (e.g. who graduates "in December") remains eligible to play for the rest of the competition year, even if that player is not a student after completing the degree. (This resolved an ambiguity in the previous eligibility rules text, which might have forbidden Ph.D students from continuing to play in the spring upon finishing a dissertation in the fall; that prospect is no longer the case.)
  • We have clarified that the five-year "clock" for Undergraduate status and the two-year "clock" for Division II status continue without pause from the moment a player enrolls in an associate's or bachelor's program, even if that player goes on academic leave for part of that time.
  • There is no longer a required timeframe for petitioning the ACF Eligibility Committee regarding a specific player's status. However, ACF recommends that players with questions send in an inquiry as soon as possible for their own sake as they determine how to register teams and submit packets for events.
(Much of the text of the above post was written by Matt Jackson, and is used with his permission.)
Stephen Eltinge
TJHSST 2011 | MIT 2015 | Yale 20??
ACF member | PACE member | NAQT writer