Running Zoom Tournaments

Elaborate on the merits of specific tournaments or have general theoretical discussion here.
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Running Zoom Tournaments

Post by frasier »

A couple of weeks ago, the UK ran a mirror of Terrapin Open on Zoom. This worked really well, and I think it is a far superior option to Discord. For one, it makes cheating much harder, which stands in stark contrast to Discord, which (it seems to me at least) is rife with cheating and cheating accusations. Furthermore, actually talking to people makes it possible to run bonuses without your tournament lasting a really long time. I think there's also an advantage to actually seeing and talking to people, the tournament definitely feels more real.

Having experimented with Discord video for practices, I'm of the opinion that Zoom is still the superior option: Discord video seems quite buggy at the moment.

I'm not sure how well Zoom could handle a larger tournament (this was only six teams), but we are running SUN with more teams this weekend so we will see how that goes.

UKQB have also issued a guide to running Zoom tournaments, which can be found here.
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Re: Running Zoom Tournaments

Post by Lake Winnipesaukee Mystery Stone »

To back up what George said, the whole experience was massively improved by being able to see your teammates (and others) - given the length of time before we might have in-person tournaments again, a medium which aids the social side of quizbowl is one worth using.
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Re: Running Zoom Tournaments

Post by Ike »

I really appreciate that the U.K. circuit decided to investigate ways to making our online quizbowl experience better. If players / mods of said tournament could also discuss their own experiences here, that would be very welcome!
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Re: Running Zoom Tournaments

Post by Evan Lynch »

Yeah to add to this, Zoom seems to be an excellent platform for online tournament play - we had a couple of individual connection problems across the weekend but nothing major, and as Oli said, the experience is far improved and less headache-inducing than playing on Discord.

We managed to run the TO set as TU/bonus (with closer to ten-second bonus parts rather than five, to account for lag and difficulties with conferring due to crosstalk) at something around 50 minutes per round (in contrast to the usual hour I've come to expect for Discord), which included the time for the session hosts to reorganise people into breakout rooms for the next round. This part is where Discord has the advantage of being able to set up roles for everyone to move directly to their next game room; it seemed like the TD had to move people manually to the next room after they had returned back to the main lobby, which could be more challenging for larger tournaments. One other downside is that for instances where the Zoom client crashes and requires restarting, the TD would need to manually re-add a player to the relevant breakout room, which can briefly interrupt games but not so much as to be a real problem (although this would need the TD to be reachable via some other means or not modding a game themselves).

Obviously neither platform is entirely optimal compared to in-person quizbowl, but I'd highly recommend trying Zoom in some informal practice sessions (even the time-limited free service should be sufficient to test it out). We held a tech demo a couple evenings prior to our tournament and it seemed very simple to get the hang of using for even the most technophobic players.
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Re: Running Zoom Tournaments

Post by meebles127 »

So I've been doing a lot of testing and playing around with Discord Video chatting and it seems that large video chats in Discord servers actually work quite well. Once I get my school work and other obligations are under control I am planning to test this with some scrimmages and write up a report with my opinions and suggestions on the matter. I still believe that the power offered by roles/rooms in discord is very powerful and worth finding a way to get it to work.

Otherwise, much thanks to the UK Folk for taking the initiative to run Zoom tournaments and find ways to reduce cheating/other issues associated with online quizbowl
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Re: Running Zoom Tournaments

Post by vbrej »

By virtue of having a Zoom subscription I have been the TD for the TO mirror and also wrote most of the guide, so would gladly answer any questions — clearly, I am happy with how the whole thing turned out. To slightly lift the veil on the organisational side, since much has been said about the playing experience already: I was trying to keep it as simple as possible and manually assign people to rooms rather than trying to delegate mods to do so, which is completely feasible in principle. Likewise, mods could easily re-add those with dropped connections to the rooms. Everyone playing seemed to get the idea very quickly, since there's no effort required from players.

I also much prefer Zoom to Discord on account of not having epic bacon loading screens, and generally a powerful and straightforward interface.
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Re: Running Zoom Tournaments

Post by naan/steak-holding toll »

This is great to hear - appreciate the sharing of best practices from across the pond!
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Re: Running Zoom Tournaments

Post by vbrej »

After quite successfully running a 21 team Zoom mirror of SUN, we have updated the guide with some corrections and additional information for managing larger tournaments: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1AOM ... sp=sharing
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Re: Running Zoom Tournaments

Post by Mike Bentley »

Apart from potential buginess with Discord video, is there any other benefit to Zoom over Discord? Reading sections in this document about having to go back to the lobby to talk to the TD about technical issues, using another platform for communicating about packets, push to talk not working that well, having to assign people to breakout rooms, etc. these all seem clunkier than in Discord.

And having played one Discord match with video, I personally was too distracted by focusing on the question to actually be looking at other people. I'm not especially convinced video on its own is going to make much of a dent in cheating. I guess you could try to really pay attention if you suspect someone and it does make it harder after someone buzzes. I think there is something to be said to video being a lot more sociable, though. Especially in Discord events when people are mostly just typing.
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Re: Running Zoom Tournaments

Post by naan/steak-holding toll »

Yeah, I found the Zoom experience decidedly worse than Discord in terms of speed, while not making much of a difference compared to Discord video chat for sociability.
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Re: Running Zoom Tournaments

Post by Mike Bentley »

Some of my thoughts after playing Cambridge Open on Zoom.

Things I liked better about Zoom tournaments than a standard Discord audio-only tournament:

It's still a small sample size, but the audio for all our matches was pretty good. Usually in a Discord match you get at least one moderator who is cutting off, hard to hear, etc. It's unclear if this was because moderators had better equipment/connections or whether the overall Zoom audio experience is better. I suspect that some of Zoom's defaults work better for quizbowl reading than Discord. Discord's default setting for recognizing you're speaking tend to cut off beginning/end of questions and I've found that push to talk is too hard for 100% of the moderators to use. I also don't recall any of the text lag you sometimes get in Discord tournaments. Overall I was pleasantly surprised with this, especially since video in theory requires more bandwidth.

Having the big room in between matches to talk with other players while waiting for breakout room assignments was nice. I guess in an ideal world we wouldn't be waiting there since going to new rounds would be super fast, but it certainly made any perceived delays

Having video in the games added more personality to the experience. I find it pretty much impossible to concentrate on other people's feeds while I'm trying to focus on a tossup so in that regard I don't think it made me more able to detect cheating. It probably does discourage at least some degree of cheating. But at the same time my team did have a separate Discord text chat to comment on questions, talk trash, etc. And there were times when I'd be finishing up one such snarky comment or whatever while the leadin of the tossup was going on. I didn't consciously notice any other players typing and no one else mentioned that to us so I'm skeptical that on its own this is a huge deterrent. (I'll also state that it would be a pretty boring experience if we're going to crack down hard on this type of behavior at an online tournament. This is really the only way you're going to be able to interact with your teammates without interrupting the game, especially in cases when the other team is controlling a bonus.)

Overall Zoom is probably simpler to learn from scratch compared to Discord. Of course, most Zoom tournaments also rely on a Discord server for some things. And most of quizbowl has largely already learned Discord's many quirks. So that may be a moot point.

Things I liked less:

It seems like breakout room role assignments are the biggest annoyance. As a player I had less insight into how that process worked. It didn't necessarily feel like we were waiting for all that long in between rounds, but probably over the course of the tournament it added 15-30 minutes to the length.

Zoom's chat interface is not as good as Discord. The main disadvantage is the lack of sound notifications when someone types (or at least that's what was implied by moderators). This meant that moderators missed buzzes a lot more than in a Discord tournament (where this isn't perfect either) and teams had to yell "someone buzzed!" to get them to stop. Zoom chats also lack a timestamp and it's harder at a glance to figure out who typed a message (no avatars, name is in a different place, etc.).

The fact that some features on Zoom require a premium / academic account is not ideal. Our bracket got a late start because I think the person who created the initial meeting didn't have permissions to create breakout rooms. Yes, a lot of people playing are going to have academic Zoom accounts. But it's likely at least some of your moderators won't, and having to bring in someone to do something can be annoying when you're pressed for time in a tournament. Perhaps with better planning ahead of time this can be averted though.

Having to switch to Discord for tournament logistics is at least slightly annoying.

I also wonder about making long-term bets on the Zoom platform. Their current business model seems unsustainable. I'd be somewhat surprised if a year from now it's still possible to run quizbowl tournaments like this without paying money. But we'll see...

Unrelated to Zoom but important nevertheless:

Any full-length online tournament really shouldn't be starting later than 10 AM EDT. It's been my observation that once it gets past around 6 PM EDT, you start getting a lot of complains by people about the tournament taking forever / wanting to have dinner / not wanting to play the full playoff rounds. This is a constant regardless of whether you start at 11 AM or noon. What I haven't witnessed is a West coast player bailing on a tournament because it starts too early. The majority of people at these tournaments are in the Eastern or Central time zone. Any tournament with a national audience should be starting early so more quizbowl can be fit into the day.
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Re: Running Zoom Tournaments

Post by Urech hydantoin synthesis »

Mike Bentley wrote: Mon May 25, 2020 3:44 pm It seems like breakout room role assignments are the biggest annoyance. As a player I had less insight into how that process worked. It didn't necessarily feel like we were waiting for all that long in between rounds, but probably over the course of the tournament it added 15-30 minutes to the length.
Would it be better to assign all players the role of co-host? There's no limit to the number of co-hosts you can assign, and co-hosts have the power to move freely between breakout rooms.
Mike Bentley wrote: Mon May 25, 2020 3:44 pm Zoom's chat interface is not as good as Discord. The main disadvantage is the lack of sound notifications when someone types (or at least that's what was implied by moderators). This meant that moderators missed buzzes a lot more than in a Discord tournament (where this isn't perfect either) and teams had to yell "someone buzzed!" to get them to stop. Zoom chats also lack a timestamp and it's harder at a glance to figure out who typed a message (no avatars, name is in a different place, etc.).
I agree with the lack of a timestamp, but I think I figured out why people are missing sound notifications: "Mute notifications while I am in a meeting" is automatically enabled in the settings. If you disable that option, and enable push notifications for all messages (or at least certain keywords, such as "buzz"), I think that can be circumvented.
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Re: Running Zoom Tournaments

Post by Mike Bentley »

Urech hydantoin synthesis wrote: Mon May 25, 2020 7:20 pm
Mike Bentley wrote: Mon May 25, 2020 3:44 pm Zoom's chat interface is not as good as Discord. The main disadvantage is the lack of sound notifications when someone types (or at least that's what was implied by moderators). This meant that moderators missed buzzes a lot more than in a Discord tournament (where this isn't perfect either) and teams had to yell "someone buzzed!" to get them to stop. Zoom chats also lack a timestamp and it's harder at a glance to figure out who typed a message (no avatars, name is in a different place, etc.).
I agree with the lack of a timestamp, but I think I figured out why people are missing sound notifications: "Mute notifications while I am in a meeting" is automatically enabled in the settings. If you disable that option, and enable push notifications for all messages (or at least certain keywords, such as "buzz"), I think that can be circumvented.
Ok good to know. That being said, anything that requires people to change a default setting is going to be hard to all moderators to use. Countless examples of trying and failing to explain to moderators how to change some Discord setting backs me up on this.

And let me clarify a little about lack of timestamps. This is mainly a problem when someone isn't adding borders between buzzes. i.e. the "buzz" on the previous tossup is then followed by a "buzz" on the next tossup without a "TU 2" in between. This is still a problem on Discord but is less so since messages in the same minute run together.
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Re: Running Zoom Tournaments

Post by Ciorwrong »

I more or less agree with everything Mike said above. None of the UCSD players particularly enjoyed the Zoom tournament experience. The waiting time was obnoxious and sometimes my Zoom would freeze up or audio would echo or whatever. Moderators still not using a headset might have contributed to this. This was a very staff intensive event in terms of time required (an entire day for $40 is incredible and the moderators should be applauded for their resolve and patience.) I don't think Zoom scales very well compared to Discord nor would I ever use it for a high school tournament. I liked seeing my teammates on bonuses but that was not worth the time tradeoff IMO.

I appreciated the 8 am PST start fwiw. I think if we had a less ambitious initial schedule, people would have been more okay with the length of the tournament. There were huge delays between re-bracketing and even before round 9--the consolation round-- which felt unnecessary and really threw me off my game. I think Zoom could work well for a small RR, casual tournament or practice but I would not endorse it for a large tournament. The weekly ACRONYM set up seems okay but it's hard to generalize from a weekly event to a large one day tournament.

I also don't think the cheating reduction is substantial. I was still able to chat with my teammates, look at memes, etc. during and between rounds. Asking players to share their screen would probably increase lag, require someone to watch all the screens and would seem to be pretty invasive on privacy over a 10 hour event.
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Re: Running Zoom Tournaments

Post by Zealots of Stockholm »

I agree with most of what Mike said about the advantages and disadvantages of Zoom. I would like to note that for our team, there were multiple 5-10+ minute waits between rounds, so I think a lot more than 30 minutes was wasted on this throughout the day. I did like being able to see everyone during tossups but don't think it was worth the tradeoff.

One thing I think is worth bringing up is the round played between Texas and Vanderbilt at the end of the day which we used Discord video for. This seemed to work pretty well and the audio quality was fine. Unlike Zoom, you can't see everyone during the tossups since you need to have the chat open, so I suppose it is a bit worse than Zoom for that purpose. But I enjoyed being able to see teammates and confer on bonuses, and then open the chat back up for tossups. I think it would be worth exploring Discord Video for a tournament.

I also had some tech issues with Zoom. For some reason, During the afternoon rounds I could not get Zoom to register that I had headphones in, even though I had checked all my settings and they were connected to my laptop and supposed to be in use. During our first consolation round, my laptop froze and I had to restart. Once I had restarted, I needed to ping the call host on discord to be let back in. This is already an inconvenience/disadvantage when compared to Discord, where I could just rejoin the call. But for some reason Zoom had an issue where even after the mod had let me into the call repeatedly, I was still stuck in the waiting room. Others had the same issue, so this may have been an issue on the call host's side. Either way, this is why we switched to discord for the last round, and it was pretty frustrating to miss out on half of a round due to issues with Zoom.
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Re: Running Zoom Tournaments

Post by Mike Bentley »

You can pop out the Discord video window to see both that and the chat, although it's a bit hard to find.
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Re: Running Zoom Tournaments

Post by gyre and gimble »

Re: breakout rooms, I suspect that the perceived delay was not really a delay. When you reassign people into breakout rooms, you basically need to wait for all of the rounds in the bracket to finish. Re-assigning breakouts is not difficult and should take 1 minute max per team. I am guessing that if you had a 10 minute delay between rounds, it was simply because one of the other games in your bracket wasn't done yet and your Zoom host couldn't reassign you right away.

Re: start time, I find it very unfair that the community expects West Coast players to get up super early, just so East Coast players don't have to stick around in the evening. The fact that West Coast players have put up with this over and over again in the past does not make it okay. As someone who has had to play online tournaments on far less than ideal amounts of sleep in the past, I have zero sympathy to East Coasters who have to play a tournament until 9:00 pm or whatever, particularly during this Coronavirus era, when you probably have nothing else to do in the evening. Very few people go to bed at 9 pm, but tons of people get up well after 7 am.
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Re: Running Zoom Tournaments

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gyre and gimble wrote: Mon May 25, 2020 11:43 pm Re: start time, I find it very unfair that the community expects West Coast players to get up super early, just so East Coast players don't have to stick around in the evening. The fact that West Coast players have put up with this over and over again in the past does not make it okay. As someone who has had to play online tournaments on far less than ideal amounts of sleep in the past, I have zero sympathy to East Coasters who have to play a tournament until 9:00 pm or whatever, particularly during this Coronavirus era, when you probably have nothing else to do in the evening. Very few people go to bed at 9 pm, but tons of people get up well after 7 am.
as an east coast player for whom getting up at 10am is early i endorse this post
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Re: Running Zoom Tournaments

Post by excessive dismemberment »

gyre and gimble wrote: Mon May 25, 2020 11:43 pm Re: start time, I find it very unfair that the community expects West Coast players to get up super early, just so East Coast players don't have to stick around in the evening. The fact that West Coast players have put up with this over and over again in the past does not make it okay. As someone who has had to play online tournaments on far less than ideal amounts of sleep in the past, I have zero sympathy to East Coasters who have to play a tournament until 9:00 pm or whatever, particularly during this Coronavirus era, when you probably have nothing else to do in the evening. Very few people go to bed at 9 pm, but tons of people get up well after 7 am.
It's been pointed out before, but I assume that you get up before 7 for irl tournaments, so I actually don't think this is that big a deal. Starting an online tournament before 7:30 am might be tough, but it's still certainly easier to attend than most irl tournaments
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Re: Running Zoom Tournaments

Post by Cheynem »

It's tough to compare online tournament starting times to in person times. For almost every in person tournament, I'm getting up around 7 or 7:30 at the latest, but that's because I'm usually needing to travel to the tournament site, or eat breakfast, or try to look presentable since I'll be around people. Aside from breakfast and/or a shower, you don't have to do that for online tournaments, so it's more attractive to just get up much closer to the actual tournament starting time. I don't know if there's a good compromise for this, other than perhaps having like mixing up the times so that one coast isn't always inconvenienced.
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Re: Running Zoom Tournaments

Post by gyre and gimble »

excessive dismemberment wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 11:52 am
gyre and gimble wrote: Mon May 25, 2020 11:43 pm Re: start time, I find it very unfair that the community expects West Coast players to get up super early, just so East Coast players don't have to stick around in the evening. The fact that West Coast players have put up with this over and over again in the past does not make it okay. As someone who has had to play online tournaments on far less than ideal amounts of sleep in the past, I have zero sympathy to East Coasters who have to play a tournament until 9:00 pm or whatever, particularly during this Coronavirus era, when you probably have nothing else to do in the evening. Very few people go to bed at 9 pm, but tons of people get up well after 7 am.
It's been pointed out before, but I assume that you get up before 7 for irl tournaments, so I actually don't think this is that big a deal. Starting an online tournament before 7:30 am might be tough, but it's still certainly easier to attend than most irl tournaments
Yes, and for IRL tournaments, lots of people get home well past 9, so playing into the late evening is not that big a deal. It goes both ways. My point is that forcing West Coast players to accommodate East Coast players every single time is not a fair solution. As far as I'm aware, Cambridge Open Online was the first time a tournament tried starting a bit later to ease the burden on the West Coast. Apparently it was a terrible idea because some people on the East Coast couldn't handle it.
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Re: Running Zoom Tournaments

Post by Cody »

gyre and gimble wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 3:39 pmYes, and for IRL tournaments, lots of people get home well past 9, so playing into the late evening is not that big a deal. It goes both ways. My point is that forcing West Coast players to accommodate East Coast players every single time is not a fair solution.
Yes, but that usually includes a post-tournament dinner break. Unless online tournaments want to schedule another break for dinner, the hours an online tournament can run that satisfy both coasts is pretty limited.

edit: to be clear, I think those options can include e.g. 10-6 and 11-7 Eastern, but the latter gives you little wiggle room for error so, like, logistics have to take precedence at some point.
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Re: Running Zoom Tournaments

Post by naan/steak-holding toll »

Cody wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 3:43 pm
gyre and gimble wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 3:39 pmYes, and for IRL tournaments, lots of people get home well past 9, so playing into the late evening is not that big a deal. It goes both ways. My point is that forcing West Coast players to accommodate East Coast players every single time is not a fair solution.
Yes, but that usually includes a post-tournament dinner break. Unless online tournaments want to schedule another break for dinner, the hours an online tournament can run that satisfy both coasts is pretty limited.

edit: to be clear, I think those options can include e.g. 10-6 and 11-7 Eastern, but the latter gives you little wiggle room for error so, like, logistics have to take precedence at some point.
Is it unreasonable to ask people to have dinner somewhat late? Lunch breaks are usually around 3PM or so for these online events; I don't think it's unreasonable to expect an 8PM or later dinner. As Stephen points out, it's rather unfair to expect early weekend wakeup times from West Coast players while not having any real concessions from East Coast / Midwest players. I frankly find the idea that players can't accommodate some evening time in their schedules a bit hard to fathom, especially when said players apparently have time to schedule side events late into the evening. It's one thing if you have a family to feed and take care of, but this is not the case for the vast majority of players.

A standard 10 or 11 round in-person tournament runs from about 9AM to 6PM, 9 hours including lunch break. By the same standards, we ought to expect such an online event to go to around 8PM if it begins at 11. Noting of course that online events typically take longer (though not always - some Discord events have been run exceedingly well) then you maybe can expect an extra hour here or there and shorten the event accordingly.

Look, corona sucks and we are all still getting used to it in a way, but this doesn't mean we can't adjust our attitudes to try and take online events a bit more seriously. In the case of CamO, the newness of Zoom and logistic issues made it understandable why people wanted to leave early, but I really hope that we can have a bit more amibition to run more rounds.
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Re: Running Zoom Tournaments

Post by Ciorwrong »

naan/steak-holding toll wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 4:51 pm
Cody wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 3:43 pm
gyre and gimble wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 3:39 pmYes, and for IRL tournaments, lots of people get home well past 9, so playing into the late evening is not that big a deal. It goes both ways. My point is that forcing West Coast players to accommodate East Coast players every single time is not a fair solution.
Yes, but that usually includes a post-tournament dinner break. Unless online tournaments want to schedule another break for dinner, the hours an online tournament can run that satisfy both coasts is pretty limited.

edit: to be clear, I think those options can include e.g. 10-6 and 11-7 Eastern, but the latter gives you little wiggle room for error so, like, logistics have to take precedence at some point.
Is it unreasonable to ask people to have dinner somewhat late? Lunch breaks are usually around 3PM or so for these online events; I don't think it's unreasonable to expect an 8PM or later dinner. As Stephen points out, it's rather unfair to expect early weekend wakeup times from West Coast players while not having any real concessions from East Coast / Midwest players. I frankly find the idea that players can't accommodate some evening time in their schedules a bit hard to fathom, especially when said players apparently have time to schedule side events late into the evening. It's one thing if you have a family to feed and take care of, but this is not the case for the vast majority of players.

A standard 10 or 11 round in-person tournament runs from about 9AM to 6PM, 9 hours including lunch break. By the same standards, we ought to expect such an online event to go to around 8PM if it begins at 11. Noting of course that online events typically take longer (though not always - some Discord events have been run exceedingly well) then you maybe can expect an extra hour here or there and shorten the event accordingly.

Look, corona sucks and we are all still getting used to it in a way, but this doesn't mean we can't adjust our attitudes to try and take online events a bit more seriously. In the case of CamO, the newness of Zoom and logistic issues made it understandable why people wanted to leave early, but I really hope that we can have a bit more amibition to run more rounds.
I'm not sure people realize this yet but normal quizbowl isn't coming back for the foreseeable future. I'm not coming going back to classroom instruction at least until January 2021 and I think this is exceedingly optimistic for my school and many others. It's entirely possible the entire next academic year is online or hybrid. This is clearly not conducive to traditional quizbowl and will severely depress turnout.

I think Zoom and Discord tournaments are a clear downgrade (and don't have a large desire to play one in the near future) especially because the number of closed events on serious sets have been very low. I plan to write a larger post on this, but the collegiate community needs to do a lot of thinking about how it wants the coming academic year to function. Leadership and planning on this has been poor outside of this particular thread. Recruitment is basically impossible and retention is going to be super hard when the only events are on Zoom/Discord and are open free for alls.

In terms of time zones, I think we might see some West Coast only events in the Fall as online tournaments hopefully act to serve more regional interests. The number of people who want to wake up at 6 am and sit in front of a computer answering quizbowl questions for 10 hours is not a large market. It's a pretty boring and depressing environment where it's very easy to get annoyed and frustrated. It turns out that interacting with teammates was a huge part of quizbowl. Who knew that laggy video chat was a poor facsimile?
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Re: Running Zoom Tournaments

Post by Cody »

naan/steak-holding toll wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 4:51 pmIs it unreasonable to ask people to have dinner somewhat late? Lunch breaks are usually around 3PM or so for these online events; I don't think it's unreasonable to expect an 8PM or later dinner.
I think it is unreasonable for tournaments to finish after 8PM Eastern without a dinner break.
naan/steak-holding toll wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 4:51 pmAs Stephen points out, it's rather unfair to expect early weekend wakeup times from West Coast players while not having any real concessions from East Coast / Midwest players.
Hunh? Non-standard meal times (or fitting meals in while playing the tournament), playing well into the evening (i.e. well past the end of normal tournaments)...these are all concessions. People may prize sleep over these other factors, but people on Pacific time are much closer to a normal tournament day / meal timing than people on Eastern time by the specific timing you've laid out.

I don't see how the Midwest factors in. The timezones between the two extremes don't give up much because that's how timezones work -- it would be impossible to construct a schedule that uniquely disadvantages Mountain & Central time instead of privileging them.
naan/steak-holding toll wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 4:51 pmI frankly find the idea that players can't accommodate some evening time in their schedules a bit hard to fathom, especially when said players apparently have time to schedule side events late into the evening. It's one thing if you have a family to feed and take care of, but this is not the case for the vast majority of players.
I think players would be more willing to accommodate evening time if it were known ahead of time and they were given a dinner break, both because of timing and so that they aren't stuck at their computer playing matches for 5+ hours straight.
Last edited by Cody on Tue May 26, 2020 6:46 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Running Zoom Tournaments

Post by Cheynem »

Yeah, I think that if things persist past the summer, Harris is right that online tournaments need to be more closed (schools only) and regional (different mirrors for west/east coast) to better help what can be done in terms of running tournaments and recruitment.
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Re: Running Zoom Tournaments

Post by Mike Bentley »

For what it's worth we've run some online events in the past for the Pacific Northwest on a West Coast time schedule. But I stand by my assertion that late start times for national tournaments are bad. I'm not sure there's a single online tournament I've played where it's gotten past 8 PM Eastern time where the majority of the field hasn't expressed interesting in being over with it. As someone who likes playing online tournaments and is frustrated when, like Cambridge Open, they end up with unsatisfying playoffs, this pisses me off. As much as you try to will what is usually the vast majority of people playing/moderating in East/Central time zones to keep playing after 8 I just don't see this happening reliably.
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Re: Running Zoom Tournaments

Post by gyre and gimble »

Cody wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 6:25 pm
naan/steak-holding toll wrote: Tue May 26, 2020 4:51 pmAs Stephen points out, it's rather unfair to expect early weekend wakeup times from West Coast players while not having any real concessions from East Coast / Midwest players.
Hunh? Non-standard meal times (or fitting meals in while playing the tournament), playing well into the evening (i.e. well past the end of normal tournaments)...these are all concessions. People may prize sleep over these other factors, but people on Pacific time are much closer to a normal tournament day / meal timing than people on Eastern time by the specific timing you've laid out.
I think Will is saying East Coast players are not conceding anything when the tournament is on an East Coast schedule (i.e., a tournament that is super early for the West Coast). If a tournament starts at 9:00 am Eastern, then East Coast players probably aren't facing non-standard meal times or playing well into the evening because the tournament would more or less track an in-person schedule. So Will is correct that, in a world where the East Coast players get their way every single time (i.e., the world before Cambridge Open Online), they are not really conceding anything.

(By the way, one of the online tournaments earlier this year had a lunch break scheduled at like 10:30 am Pacific. I asked the TD to push it back an hour. I can't remember if that was accommodated or not, but I think it was.)

Cody's earlier post touched on this, but I think he's right that it's probably not possible to set a start time that accommodates both coasts. To be clear, I'm not advocating that every tournament start at 8:00 Pacific. Just some of them. For the ones that do, East Coast players need to suck it up and play the whole tournament instead of bailing because it's getting late. For the ones that don't, West Coast players will deal with it and get up early. It's a compromise.
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Re: Running Zoom Tournaments

Post by Lighthouse Expert Elinor DeWire »

The Main room in each zoom call needs to have one person active there at all times to troubleshoot people who cut out during games, replace moderators who cut out, etc. This increases staffing demand, but for a tournament like ACF fall there would be excess club members around anyways.
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Re: Running Zoom Tournaments

Post by Ciorwrong »

Lighthouse Expert Elinor DeWire wrote: Wed May 27, 2020 2:31 am The Main room in each zoom call needs to have one person active there at all times to troubleshoot people who cut out during games, replace moderators who cut out, etc. This increases staffing demand, but for a tournament like ACF fall there would be excess club members around anyways.
Nothing mentioned so far has convinced me Zoom is preferable to Discord with Discord's video pop outs. Especially if more staff is needed and there are greater probability of technical issues, why should we use this software in the future? A high school tournament with 24+ teams seems almost intractable without a massive amount of staff + savvy.
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Re: Running Zoom Tournaments

Post by ValenciaQBowl »

I don't imagine this post will be popular, but for fully online tournaments are lunch/dinner breaks really necessary? I've played in four full-day tournaments now, and all of them had a 45 minute or hour lunch break, which seems unnecessary when one is probably just going to the fridge and making a sandwich or something. You can then eat while you play. I can see the usefulness of a 15-minute break, but having the kinds of break times we're used to from in-person tournaments seems excessive. But I"m interested to hear if there's some reason for a longer break that I'm missing.
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Re: Running Zoom Tournaments

Post by 1992 in spaceflight »

ValenciaQBowl wrote: Wed May 27, 2020 10:07 am I don't imagine this post will be popular, but for fully online tournaments are lunch/dinner breaks really necessary? I've played in four full-day tournaments now, and all of them had a 45 minute or hour lunch break, which seems unnecessary when one is probably just going to the fridge and making a sandwich or something. You can then eat while you play. I can see the usefulness of a 15-minute break, but having the kinds of break times we're used to from in-person tournaments seems excessive. But I"m interested to hear if there's some reason for a longer break that I'm missing.
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Re: Running Zoom Tournaments

Post by meebles127 »

Ciorwrong wrote: Wed May 27, 2020 3:17 am
Lighthouse Expert Elinor DeWire wrote: Wed May 27, 2020 2:31 am The Main room in each zoom call needs to have one person active there at all times to troubleshoot people who cut out during games, replace moderators who cut out, etc. This increases staffing demand, but for a tournament like ACF fall there would be excess club members around anyways.
Nothing mentioned so far has convinced me Zoom is preferable to Discord with Discord's video pop outs. Especially if more staff is needed and there are greater probability of technical issues, why should we use this software in the future? A high school tournament with 24+ teams seems almost intractable without a massive amount of staff + savvy.
I fully agree with Harris' point. I do not understand the need to use a different piece of software when we already have a platform that works quite well.
ValenciaQBowl wrote: Wed May 27, 2020 10:07 am I don't imagine this post will be popular, but for fully online tournaments are lunch/dinner breaks really necessary? I've played in four full-day tournaments now, and all of them had a 45 minute or hour lunch break, which seems unnecessary when one is probably just going to the fridge and making a sandwich or something. You can then eat while you play. I can see the usefulness of a 15-minute break, but having the kinds of break times we're used to from in-person tournaments seems excessive. But I"m interested to hear if there's some reason for a longer break that I'm missing.
That kind of break is very necessary for rebracketing and setting up the rooms for the afternoon. When I run tournaments, I tend to build in about 15 minutes of extra time, than what is the minimum for these activities, in the event that stats keeping gets behind or one room takes an inordinate amount of time for some reason.
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Re: Running Zoom Tournaments

Post by warum »

gyre and gimble wrote: Mon May 25, 2020 11:43 pm Re: breakout rooms, I suspect that the perceived delay was not really a delay. When you reassign people into breakout rooms, you basically need to wait for all of the rounds in the bracket to finish. Re-assigning breakouts is not difficult and should take 1 minute max per team. I am guessing that if you had a 10 minute delay between rounds, it was simply because one of the other games in your bracket wasn't done yet and your Zoom host couldn't reassign you right away.
I agree. In my team's experience at CAMOO, waiting to enter the next round didn't seem more of an issue than it has been for in-person or Discord tournaments. I can't speak to what happened to other teams or brackets.

I strongly prefer video to audio for virtual tournaments. Video comes closer to replicating the social experience of an in-person tournament. I would be interested in trying out Discord video in future tournaments and comparing it to Zoom.
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Re: Running Zoom Tournaments

Post by Deepika Goes From Ranbir To Ranveer »

frasier wrote: Sun May 03, 2020 10:00 am UKQB have also issued a guide to running Zoom tournaments, which can be found here.
As an aside, I'm a little, er, thrown off by the male pronouns used when referring to the moderator and scorekeeper in this document.
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Re: Running Zoom Tournaments

Post by Lake Winnipesaukee Mystery Stone »

Deepika Goes From Ranbir To Ranveer wrote: Fri Jun 26, 2020 7:01 pm
frasier wrote: Sun May 03, 2020 10:00 am UKQB have also issued a guide to running Zoom tournaments, which can be found here.
As an aside, I'm a little, er, thrown off by the male pronouns used when referring to the moderator and scorekeeper in this document.
The instances of male pronouns being used where gender neutral ones should have been have been corrected
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Re: Running Zoom Tournaments

Post by Deepika Goes From Ranbir To Ranveer »

Thank you!
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Re: Running Zoom Tournaments

Post by i never see pigeons in wheeling »

Mike Bentley wrote: Mon May 25, 2020 3:44 pm The fact that some features on Zoom require a premium / academic account is not ideal. Our bracket got a late start because I think the person who created the initial meeting didn't have permissions to create breakout rooms. Yes, a lot of people playing are going to have academic Zoom accounts. But it's likely at least some of your moderators won't, and having to bring in someone to do something can be annoying when you're pressed for time in a tournament. Perhaps with better planning ahead of time this can be averted though.
Maybe the community should collectively pay for a premium Zoom account (or maybe even Microsoft Teams! or another premium video provider!) that can be routinely "leased out" to an online tournament. While the US is in the current state, it looks like online tournaments will have to happen, and we just witnessed a bit of a surprise for Zoom in Oxford Open whereby a certain (non-premium?) link didn't accommodate more than 100 people. We want to have a community solution that the community can rely on, and if tournaments are going to continue to be on Zoom instead of, say, Discord, we shouldn't have to have non-premium settings be sprung on us every tournament.
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Re: Running Zoom Tournaments

Post by Ciorwrong »

i never see pigeons in wheeling wrote: Sat Jun 27, 2020 10:23 am
Mike Bentley wrote: Mon May 25, 2020 3:44 pm The fact that some features on Zoom require a premium / academic account is not ideal. Our bracket got a late start because I think the person who created the initial meeting didn't have permissions to create breakout rooms. Yes, a lot of people playing are going to have academic Zoom accounts. But it's likely at least some of your moderators won't, and having to bring in someone to do something can be annoying when you're pressed for time in a tournament. Perhaps with better planning ahead of time this can be averted though.
Maybe the community should collectively pay for a premium Zoom account (or maybe even Microsoft Teams! or another premium video provider!) that can be routinely "leased out" to an online tournament. While the US is in the current state, it looks like online tournaments will have to happen, and we just witnessed a bit of a surprise for Zoom in Oxford Open whereby a certain (non-premium?) link didn't accommodate more than 100 people. We want to have a community solution that the community can rely on, and if tournaments are going to continue to be on Zoom instead of, say, Discord, we shouldn't have to have non-premium settings be sprung on us every tournament.
Given that Discord is free, I don't see what the point of paying for a Zoom Pro account is. I get a Zoom Pro account for my TA and graduate student activities and of course would also use it for quizbowl. However, the delta in quality between a Zoom and a Discord tournament is negative. Let's end these experiments and try to get Discord tournaments with video to work. Frankly, the cheating prevention seems to be rather weak on Zoom as well and it's debatable whether that is worth the extra hassle of Zoom breakout rooms, etc. There are several quizbowl Discord bots at this point as well.
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Re: Running Zoom Tournaments

Post by A Dim-Witted Saboteur »

Another issue is that whenever a tournament I attend over Zoom, it crashes at least twice over the course of the day. This never happens on discord and tournaments on Zoom I've attended suggest to me that this isn't an uncommon problem.
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Re: Running Zoom Tournaments

Post by whatamidoinghere »

A Dim-Witted Saboteur wrote: Sun Jun 28, 2020 1:19 am Another issue is that whenever a tournament I attend over Zoom, it crashes at least twice over the course of the day. This never happens on discord and tournaments on Zoom I've attended suggest to me that this isn't an uncommon problem.
I'd like to echo this sentiment; I've done discord video packet reading sessions with some friends (albeit not as formal as fully synchronous tournaments), but not once did discord (or my computer for that matter) crash during that period. However, I did experience a point in the Oxford Open mirror where my computer's fan did not turn on and so my CPU overheated, leading my whole computer to crash while zoom was open. I suspect that others will also have a similar sentiment, and with an increase in discord's ability to handle video alongside the other major advantages it has (such as the tournament directing bot which essentially eliminates the need for someone controlling the breakout rooms like would be the case in zoom tournaments).
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Re: Running Zoom Tournaments

Post by Mike Bentley »

Well, I'm not sure anyone has tried a big Discord video tournament yet. I'm planning on doing so for Myth of the Machine. We'll see how it goes and whether it has any problems with scale.

I thought logistically Oxford Open went well enough. The delayed start due to not being aware of the 100 person limit on their account was annoying but understandable. There were relatively few audio issues for me despite all the moderators being on another continent. Zoom did seem to slow down a bit by the middle of the day so I restarted but that wasn't a huge issue.
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Re: Running Zoom Tournaments

Post by The Story of a Head That Fell Off »

So far I'm not convinced Zoom is superior to Discord. It's more about how rooms are structured - Zoom tournaments use the Breakout feature, which requires the TD to manually assign each person to their rooms. Even so, if the previous game ran late, the next team might accidentally come in - I did so once myself, and I would believe if others also accidentally entered a game still in session. With Discord, the use of roles and restricted rooms means that this can be handled before the tournament starts, and since most tournaments I've seen have each round/room in their own text channels, there's no risk of people barging in on games in session. This requires more work beforehand, but it make the tournament run much more smoothly and less delays during the day, allowing the TD not needing to babysit every single team and able to work on other things like stats or protests.

I think the display of Zoom is also a big drawback - chat is relegated to the side and doesn't seem to update as fast, so there's often a pretty significant delay between the buzz and the moderator noticing.

So far I've only had text tournaments on Discord, and video ones only on Zoom. I am not convinced Zoom is the superior platform for tournaments; I've yet to see Discord video chat work in tournaments, but based on my past experience with Discord video it shouldn't be too different from what Zoom currently has to offer, and handles the rooms much better.

MWT online had the "team chat" which I think worked well to reduce the cross chatter delaying gameplay, and the Internet Charity Tournament was able to use a bot to handle the multitudes of different rooms/games pretty well without issue. For what it's worth, I think Oxford Open ran well; I think the delays were less to do with Zoom and more with to do with the way online tournaments are forced to structure - not being able to discuss during the bonus part, and having to account for delays from typing and connections adds up. I know a lot of people got sick of saying "directed" on easy parts but it's pretty simple to get used to it after a few games. I'm still not entirely convinced that video chat is much better than just audio, regardless of cheating prevention. It was nice to see people though.
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Re: Running Zoom Tournaments

Post by frasier »

I just can't wait for there to be a Discord Video tournament, as I believe there is to be soon. For 2 months or so I've heard idle speculation about Discord video and how it'll perform well for tournaments, and yet no one seems to have thought to run a proper tournament using it. Will be very interested to see how it all goes.
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Re: Running Zoom Tournaments

Post by whatamidoinghere »

frasier wrote: Tue Jun 30, 2020 6:11 am I just can't wait for there to be a Discord Video tournament, as I believe there is to be soon. For 2 months or so I've heard idle speculation about Discord video and how it'll perform well for tournaments, and yet no one seems to have thought to run a proper tournament using it. Will be very interested to see how it all goes.
I believe Mike Bentley's running his Myth of the Machine tournament on Discord Video, so we'll see how that turns out.
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Re: Running Zoom Tournaments

Post by Mike Bentley »

whatamidoinghere wrote: Tue Jun 30, 2020 6:04 pm
frasier wrote: Tue Jun 30, 2020 6:11 am I just can't wait for there to be a Discord Video tournament, as I believe there is to be soon. For 2 months or so I've heard idle speculation about Discord video and how it'll perform well for tournaments, and yet no one seems to have thought to run a proper tournament using it. Will be very interested to see how it all goes.
I believe Mike Bentley's running his Myth of the Machine tournament on Discord Video, so we'll see how that turns out.
Yes, this is indeed the case and I will report back on how well it works/doesn't. I'm probably also going to explore server boosting and whether it makes a difference.

I'll note that, on my end, across two Zoom tournaments there was only 1 round with an audio issue. I don't have hard data but this does seem better than Discord. Discord commonly has issues with people not hearing someone speaking, clipping at the start/end of sentences, etc. So it's not like the baseline is perfect here.
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Re: Running Zoom Tournaments

Post by meebles127 »

Mike Bentley wrote: Tue Jun 30, 2020 6:56 pm
whatamidoinghere wrote: Tue Jun 30, 2020 6:04 pm
frasier wrote: Tue Jun 30, 2020 6:11 am I just can't wait for there to be a Discord Video tournament, as I believe there is to be soon. For 2 months or so I've heard idle speculation about Discord video and how it'll perform well for tournaments, and yet no one seems to have thought to run a proper tournament using it. Will be very interested to see how it all goes.
I believe Mike Bentley's running his Myth of the Machine tournament on Discord Video, so we'll see how that turns out.
Yes, this is indeed the case and I will report back on how well it works/doesn't. I'm probably also going to explore server boosting and whether it makes a difference.

I'll note that, on my end, across two Zoom tournaments there was only 1 round with an audio issue. I don't have hard data but this does seem better than Discord. Discord commonly has issues with people not hearing someone speaking, clipping at the start/end of sentences, etc. So it's not like the baseline is perfect here.
I'm willing to contribute my two discord boosts to the server for myth of the machine to test this functionality, for the duration of the tournament.
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Re: Running Zoom Tournaments

Post by Urech hydantoin synthesis »

Mike Bentley wrote: Tue Jun 30, 2020 6:56 pm Yes, this is indeed the case and I will report back on how well it works/doesn't. I'm probably also going to explore server boosting and whether it makes a difference.
If server boosting (maybe at the second level) does make a difference, would it make sense to offer a server boost discount of, like, $5 per team akin to the old buzzer discounts? Since boosts can be reassigned multiple times, it could potentially be financially worth it.
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Re: Running Zoom Tournaments

Post by Scottietodd »

Yes, this is indeed the case and I will report back on how well it works/doesn't. I'm probably also going to explore server boosting and whether it makes a difference.
I am really glad to hear this! We will be running the Scottie with 32 teams using either Zoom or Discord on September 19th and it is definitely not too early to figure this out.
Todd Garrison
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Coach - 2012 to present
Crazy Khan Tech
Wakka
Posts: 187
Joined: Sat Feb 04, 2017 5:15 pm

Re: Running Zoom Tournaments

Post by Crazy Khan Tech »

With my microphone, Zoom's default audio processing is significantly worse than Discord. I was able to easily fix this by enabling the "Show in-meeting option to 'Enable Original Sound' from microphone" setting under Audio -> Advanced. Further improvements can be made by selecting "Enable Stereo Sound" under the Audio menu. Meeting hosts also need to enable the setting under General -> View More Settings -> In Meeting (Advanced) called "Allow users to select original sound in their client settings" and "Allow users to select stereo audio in their client meetings."

Your mileage may vary with this. It's totally possible that my specific microphone driver doesn't interact well with Zoom's audio solution, but I think it's worth it for moderators to experiment with this beforehand to ensure maximum audio quality. Furthermore, these settings will increase CPU usage for all meeting attendees.

In my anecdotal experience regarding Discord Video, UF's club ran a practice on Discord Video recently. It was a great solution when it was working, but it twice introduced significant lag with a server change being the only solution. We may have gotten unlucky and Discord was just experiencing issues on that specific day, but repeated problems like these would be wholly unacceptable in a tournament.
Zach Knecht (he/him/his)

UF '21
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