Suggestions for using SQBS better

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jonah
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Suggestions for using SQBS better

Post by jonah » Sun Nov 19, 2017 1:58 pm

I've worked with hundreds, maybe thousands of SQBS files in the last five-ish years as I process a plurality (estimated) of NAQT's results. Based on that — though not officially speaking for NAQT — here are some suggestions to help with common mistakes I see (in no particular order). Most of these aren't NAQT-specific, they're general suggestions to help produce better stats (technically and aesthetically).

Some of these will seem obvious to many of you, but if you do stats, I really encourage you to read all of it (or at least the bold parts) to find out what might be new to you.

Incidentally, NAQT has a little-known list of preferences for SQBS use that include all of these and more; this post focuses on the issues that I see very frequently in stats files submitted by tournaments that are advertised on HSQB.

Enter round numbers and tossups heard. Pretty self-explanatory. Tossups heard should include overtime tossups.

Enter games played. In the game entry screen, the "GP" column next to each player's name should contain the fraction of the total number of tossups heard in the game that the player was eligible to answer. That's often 0.5 or 1, but in games that went into overtime, games in which substitutions occurred at timeouts, and timed games where the halves turned out to have different numbers of questions, it might not be. You can enter something like "10/21" here and SQBS will turn it into a decimal for you.

Check your bonus points. In the vast majority of tournaments that use SQBS, the number of bonus points must be divisible by 10. SQBS doesn't have a warning for this (probably because when it was written, it was somewhat commonly possible for bonus point totals to be divisible by 5 but not 10), but SQBS does display the calculated bonus point total automatically on each side, so check it whenever you enter a game and/or all at once at the end. If you have a bonus point total that's not divisible by 10, then you have an error in your stats that could be messing up all statistical calculations (assuming you're using a format in which that is indeed impossible).

Enter overtime correctly. In "Toss-Ups Heard", enter the total number of tossups heard, including overtime tossups. Check "Overtime" near the lower right corner. If overtime tossups do not lead to bonuses, in the two boxes next to the "Overtime" checkbox, enter the number of overtime tossups answered correctly by the left team in the left box, and the number of overtime tossups answered correctly by the right team in the right box; these are necessary for properly calculating points per bonus.

Spell correctly. This isn't really SQBS-specific, I guess, but look for obvious mistakes like players named "JOhn SMith" or teams named "Anytwon A". NAQT can fix these, but it's extra effort, and if you post your stats somewhere else these things will just look silly. Along the same lines…

Enter team names consistently. If you have "Anytown A", then the B team should be "Anytown B", not "Anytown HS B". If Anytown HS only has one team, don't put an "A" on it. NAQT has more arcane details about its team-naming preferences in that list of preferences for SQBS use, but at a minimum, know that initialisms like "AHS" are often hard to figure out; written-out names are much better.

Use the stats template from NAQT's registration system. If your tournament is using NAQT's registration system, you can download an SQBS data file that contains all the team and player information already filled in. (It's the "Stats Template" link in the "Logistics" section of the host tools menu.) This saves both you and us considerable effort — it takes care of my two previous points automatically, assuming player names were entered correctly during registration. (If you're not using NAQT's registration system for your tournament on NAQT questions, please consider doing so!)

Use pools/divisions. SQBS has the ability to track pools, though it calls them "divisions". Using these correctly will make it a lot easier for us, and anyone viewing the stats, to understand how your tournament was structured (which in our case is necessary so we can assign ranks to teams and issue nationals invitations). To use these, in the tournament configuration (Settings > General or ctrl+C) check "Use Divisions". A screen will pop up in which you can enter pool names, one per line — if you don't have creative names, just use "A", "B", etc. Then in the team/roster entry screen you can choose a pool for each team. If you rebracket mid-tournament, reassign "divisions" at that time.

Use all the warnings. In the "Warnings" tab of the tournament configuration screen (Settings > General or ctrl+C), SQBS lets you enable warnings for duplicate teams, duplicate players, score mismatches, too many players in a game, two forms of bonus-point problems, and negative tossups heard. In most cases, you should enable all of these to catch mistakes. (If you're playing 5-on-5 or more players to a side, the "Individual Games Played Exceed Four" warning will give you more trouble than help and you should disable it and check carefully by hand. If you're using bouncebacks but not entering bounceback points separately — which isn't great, of course — the bonus point warnings can be incorrect and should be disabled.)

Use exactly one file per division. (This one is kind of NAQT-specific.) When I upload stats to NAQT's website, it's much easier if there is exactly one file per division. (Here "division" means group of teams that never play teams in another division; it does not mean "pool" even though SQBS uses "division" to mean "pool".) Many tournaments only have one division, so the preference is "one file for the whole tournament", but if you have varsity and JV divisions, or something like that, send one file for each. This really means two different things: don't have separate prelim and playoff files, and don't combine two divisions into a single file.

Label your games. It helps if every game has a unique ID number, or at least unique within the round. My recommendation is to go "01-01" for the first game in round 1, "01-02" for the second game in round 1, etc. Write the numbers on the scoresheets too, as you enter them, so you can find the scoresheet again quickly if there's a problem. The nice thing about this is that if you want to jump directly to round 6 in the file, you can just enter "06-01" in the box to the right of "Go To", then click "Go To", instead of having to click "Previous" or "Next" repeatedly.

I might add to this post if I think of more common issues.
Last edited by jonah on Tue Mar 13, 2018 11:26 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Jonah Greenthal
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Cody
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Re: Suggestions for using SQBS better

Post by Cody » Sun Nov 19, 2017 5:30 pm

The best way to label games is by round and room number. Any string is valid, so things like 1-219A or 10-2117 are perfectly kosher for game IDs.

The advantage is you always get a unique ID without having to keep track of anything but what's already on the scoresheet. This is very useful if you ever need to go back to a game in SQBS. (You do need to emphasize with your staff that they have to keep track of these things, but that should be happening anyway.)
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jonah
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Re: Suggestions for using SQBS better

Post by jonah » Sun Nov 19, 2017 5:54 pm

Cody wrote:The best way to label games is by round and room number. Any string is valid, so things like 1-219A or 10-2117 are perfectly kosher for game IDs.
Yeah, this works pretty well if the room names are very short, which is usually the case for tournaments held at schools. But IDs like "01-Marquis A" are pretty cumbersome and too long to read without scrolling the box. The round/room scheme also has the minor disadvantage of making it impossible to jump to the beginning of a round in one step (unless you always enter the scoresheets in the same order), but that may not matter to many people.

Anyway, both of our schemes are basically fine. We can generalize my point to "Use the ID field thoughtfully for your own convenience".
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Re: Suggestions for using SQBS better

Post by Cody » Sun Nov 19, 2017 11:38 pm

Cody wrote:The best way to label games is by round and room number. Any string is valid, so things like 1-219A or 10-2117 are perfectly kosher for game IDs.

The advantage is you always get a unique ID without having to keep track of anything but what's already on the scoresheet. This is very useful if you ever need to go back to a game in SQBS. (You do need to emphasize with your staff that they have to keep track of these things, but that should be happening anyway.)
This is also very useful for when you are constructing a crossover file. You can circle the games that should carry over on a schedule. Combined with IDs listing a game room, it becomes much easier to quickly delete all the games you don't need.
jonah wrote:
Cody wrote:The best way to label games is by round and room number. Any string is valid, so things like 1-219A or 10-2117 are perfectly kosher for game IDs.
Yeah, this works pretty well if the room names are very short, which is usually the case for tournaments held at schools. But IDs like "01-Marquis A" are pretty cumbersome and too long to read without scrolling the box. The round/room scheme also has the minor disadvantage of making it impossible to jump to the beginning of a round in one step (unless you always enter the scoresheets in the same order), but that may not matter to many people.

Anyway, both of our schemes are basically fine. We can generalize my point to "Use the ID field thoughtfully for your own convenience".
You can usually find a good combination of brevity and uniqueness (MarqA) that works well for non-standard room cases. You can also sort by game ID if you wish, but I've never found I needed to get to the start of a round if I'm labeling by room number -- it's only when someone is using an ID system where you need to hunt around for games, instead of being able to go right to a specific game, that I encounter this problem.

Yes.
Cody Voight, VCU ‘14. I write lots of science and am an electrical engineer.
VCU Tournament Director ‘13-‘17. HSAPQ President ‘15-16.
Hero of Socialist Quizbowl Labor (NSC ‘14). “esteemed colleague” of Snap Wexley, ca. 2016. Stats Hero (Nats ‘16).
Quizbowl at VCU

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