ACF Online Gameplay Rules Changes

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ACF Online Gameplay Rules Changes

Post by caroline »

Hello all,

ACF would like to announce some changes that have been made to their gameplay rules in order to adapt to online tournaments. These modifications are listed below.

The gameplay rules have been updated on the ACF website. The specific rule modifications are also collected in Appendix 1: Online play at the bottom for your convenience.

Section A: Definition and Participants
Removed "on-site" from Section A.1: "A tournament is a set of organized quizbowl matches. The tournament director is the designated on-site organizer of a particular tournament."
Added to Section A.2: “In the case of an online tournament, [a game room] may be a virtual room. If the tournament requires video, all players should have video on, unless given prior permission by the tournament director or the other players in the game. Tournament directors may define requirements for video as they see fit.”
Removed “verbal” from Section A.8 and added: “When possible, players should give spoken responses. Typed or written responses should only be used if spoken responses are not feasible.”

Section B: Equipment
Added Section B.1.A: “Online tournaments may use a buzzer system which either locks out all other users from signaling once any one individual user has signaled, or preserves a record of which player buzzed first. In situations where there may be different records of who buzzed first (such as an Internet chat client), the moderator’s record shall be final.”
Added to Section B.3 that a buzz may alternatively preserve a record of where a player buzzed in relation to other players.
Added Section B.7.B: "The [rule prohibiting personal electronic devices] also does not apply to devices used to compete in online tournaments. A player playing an online tournament may use a personal electronic device such as a laptop to compete in the tournament, but may not use any functions of the personal electronic device other than what is necessary to compete. The player may not use any personal electronic devices that are not being used to compete in the tournament while playing the tournament."

Section D: Tossups
Added Section D.4.A: "In the event that a player gives an incorrect answer, the moderator shall clear the buzzer system and disregard all prior buzzes by the other team before continuing.”
Added to Section D.6.A: "For an online tournament, players will have eight seconds after recognition to give an answer. This timing restriction applies to both spoken and typed answers. Unlike in-person tournaments, moderators must recognize the player who buzzed in and is eligible to answer the question.”

Added Section DX.2.B: "Whether or not a player buzzed before, at, or within less than a syllable after the power mark is a matter of moderator judgment, and is not protestable. A player will be considered to have buzzed once the moderator stops speaking.”

Section E: Bonuses
Added Section E.2.A: "For an online tournament, teams will have eight seconds to give an answer after the bonus part has been read in full.”
Added Section E.4.A: “For an online tournament, a team shall direct a response to the moderator by prepending “Our answer is” to their answer. Moderators should only consider responses preceded by “Our answer is” or any other phrase designated by the TD. (For example, for a bonus part on Sextus Empiricus, the answering team should say “Our answer is Sextus Empiricus” to have their answer ruled upon.)”
Added E.4.B: In addition to the above rule about teams directing answers, during online tournaments moderators shall consider directed the first answer given by a team after the moderator prompts them for an answer at the six-second mark, regardless of if the answer is preceded by a directing phrase or not. This does not apply to prompts given for the correctness of an answer, but only to prompts given for reasons of time.
Revised Section E.5 to specify that moderators should prompt for an answer to a bonus part after six seconds for an online tournament, and teams have two seconds to respond.

Section G: Detailed Correctness Guidelines
Added Section G.19: For online tournaments, typed responses will be held to the same correctness guidelines as spoken responses.
Last edited by caroline on Tue Nov 03, 2020 3:39 am, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: ACF Online Gameplay Rules Changes

Post by Cheynem »

I'm not planning on playing ACF tournaments online, but I dislike the push to get people to speak their answers, as opposed to type.

I realize the rule says that if you have technical issues, you are allowed to type your answer. I am also aware why this rule is being used--it better simulates "real" quizbowl, and allows for easier timing since people speaking is easier to time than people typing. However, when I play online tournaments, I find when people answer by voice, it's frequently hard to hear--words at the end are being cut off, voices drop out, and a number of times the moderator (admittedly the most important person) might hear what is said, but not the other people playing. This leads to obvious issues--the moderator asking people to repeat, other people asking what was said, etc.

In short, I guess, for people who's connections are shaky enough that it's hard to consistently hear and speak 100% as is, having such a rule makes it even more difficult. Even if you're allowed to type, you're being held to a tough standard that penalizes typos or auto-corrects or other silly but common things that happen when typing online. You also can't hear accurately a lot of the responses, which make things difficult to judge your own answers or for potential protests. I would like to see this rule relaxed.
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Re: ACF Online Gameplay Rules Changes

Post by jonah »

Cheynem wrote: Sun Oct 11, 2020 3:17 pm I'm not planning on playing ACF tournaments online, but I dislike the push to get people to speak their answers, as opposed to type.

I realize the rule says that if you have technical issues, you are allowed to type your answer. I am also aware why this rule is being used--it better simulates "real" quizbowl, and allows for easier timing since people speaking is easier to time than people typing. However, when I play online tournaments, I find when people answer by voice, it's frequently hard to hear--words at the end are being cut off, voices drop out, and a number of times the moderator (admittedly the most important person) might hear what is said, but not the other people playing. This leads to obvious issues--the moderator asking people to repeat, other people asking what was said, etc.

In short, I guess, for people who's connections are shaky enough that it's hard to consistently hear and speak 100% as is, having such a rule makes it even more difficult. Even if you're allowed to type, you're being held to a tough standard that penalizes typos or auto-corrects or other silly but common things that happen when typing online. You also can't hear accurately a lot of the responses, which make things difficult to judge your own answers or for potential protests. I would like to see this rule relaxed.
From my experience as part of creating Buzzword and its rules, and judging answers and evaluating protests thereon, I feel strongly that typed answers would be a nightmare for "regular" quiz bowl. We spent untold hours coming up with fairly complex judging rules that are not fast to apply, still have ambiguous cases, and still lead to disagreements even among the approximately half-dozen people who developed the rules and now have hundreds of hours of experience applying them. I think asking moderators who have little experience judging typed answers to do so quickly is likely to be a painful, inconsistent experience for everyone.

(This is not to say that evaluating spoken answers is perfect, but I think it's a lot better, and we have decades of community experience developing the rules and much more experience applying them at the individual level.)
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Re: ACF Online Gameplay Rules Changes

Post by Cheynem »

I can certainly imagine the headaches that Buzzword causes regarding typed responses (although I imagine that Buzzword's inability to prompt also plays a huge role in this). I haven't seen too many problems regarding typed responses in the online packets and tournaments I've played, but, sure, I can imagine some potential issues.

I would at least like the rule about judging typed responses to allow for some grace regarding obvious typos and errors. For example, answering "Al About Eve" is technically wrong for "All About Eve," but this seems very obviously a simple typo. Would anyone actually answer "Al About Eve" in a real tournament? Particularly if the person immediately corrected their typo which you see frequently. What would be different to me is an answer of "All About Eva," which could be a typo but also plausibly someone getting the name of the movie screwed up. I know we're very much in subjective territory now, but at least going by my experience online, I think the majority of moderators and other teams pretty readily recognize the difference between someone honestly typing "Holly Roman Empire" and someone screwing up a title or name horribly (and I would be okay with the rule requiring moderators in all ambiguous circumstances to err on the side of strict judgment regarding typed responses).
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Re: ACF Online Gameplay Rules Changes

Post by ganman0305 »

One major issue that I think the verbal answer requirement addresses is the fact that typed answers can take up a considerably long amount of time.

For instance, I was staffing an event a couple weeks ago in which the answer to a bonus part was a multi-word book title. I was playing by the time rules of said tournament, which said to abide by the typically 5 second ruling for a bonus part, but to add a few seconds after prompting to account for slow typing (it's easy to see if someone is typing in Discord since it tells you at the bottom of the screen) as well as designating an answer. On this particular answer, I gave the team a few more seconds than usual just to account for the long title, but when they were done typing, it was a completely different answer. If this happens multiple times across every room, then it can cause to go over their intended time, and considering the current time experiences of Discord tournaments, is something I'd like to see prevented.

Another time issue that comes is when a team gives their final answer. Let's say I prompt a team for their final answer on a bonus, and two players respond different things lowercase at a time. I have to ask for a final answer, which they then have to type out again or then come to voice to verbally speak anyways. While this issue can come up with two players shouting an answering without designating a final answer, its usually easier and quicker to resolve over voice.

I respect that some people might not be comfortable saying their answers over Discord, but in that case, there should be at least one person a team who is and who can communicate with their teammates over the chat and then convey the answer to the moderator. Please tell if I am overthinking this or overlooking anything, but I just wanted to offer my experience!
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Re: ACF Online Gameplay Rules Changes

Post by Cheynem »

Yeah, to be clear, I would not allow typing to unnecessarily extend or delay questions. In particular, I'm comfortable with saying that bonuses should use voice chat or have people very comfortable typing quickly.
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Re: ACF Online Gameplay Rules Changes

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caroline wrote: Sun Oct 11, 2020 12:15 pm Added Section E.4.A: “For an online tournament, a team shall direct a response to the moderator by prepending “Our answer is” to their answer. Moderators should only consider responses preceded by “Our answer is” or any other phrase designated by the TD. (For example, for a bonus part on Sextus Empiricus, the answering team should say “Our answer is Sextus Empiricus” to have their answer ruled upon.)”
What is the rationale for this over the much more convenient and already commonly used "... directed"? Additionally, I think moderator discretion with obvious directs like "Let's go with..." should be allowed.
caroline wrote: Sun Oct 11, 2020 12:15 pm Added Section DX.2.B: "Whether or not a player buzzed before, at, or within less than a syllable after the power mark is a matter of moderator judgment, and is not protestable. A player will be considered to have buzzed once the moderator stops speaking.”
I'm glad that ACF has adopted this rule. If you've heard the power-ending clue, you shouldn't get power. However, I think to decrease possible complaints about this, moderators should be instructed to give a slight (~1s) pause at the powermark to both A. account for buzzing lag and B. take a good look at the buzzing window to make sure no in-power buzzes were missed.
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Re: ACF Online Gameplay Rules Changes

Post by Jack »

Most of these are good additions to the rules, but there are a couple that seem unnecessarily rigid to me. Specifically, these two:
caroline wrote: Sun Oct 11, 2020 12:15 pm Added Section DX.2.B: "Whether or not a player buzzed before, at, or within less than a syllable after the power mark is a matter of moderator judgment, and is not protestable. A player will be considered to have buzzed once the moderator stops speaking.”

Section E: Bonuses
Added Section E.4.A: “For an online tournament, a team shall direct a response to the moderator by prepending “Our answer is” to their answer. Moderators should only consider responses preceded by “Our answer is” or any other phrase designated by the TD. (For example, for a bonus part on Sextus Empiricus, the answering team should say “Our answer is Sextus Empiricus” to have their answer ruled upon.)”
Regarding the first one, although ACF currently doesn't have any powermarks in their tournaments, this seems like it could cause problems, currently regarding the final line of the tossup. If two teams wait until the end of a harder tossup to buzz and one player buzzes a few words before the question, but I the moderator don't see it, then recognize it after the tossup's completion. In a "normal" circumstance, if a player buzzes in and answers incorrectly, then I'd neg them, but because of my error, they get away with it, which obviously affects gameplay. I can see why this rule would make sense for something like power vs. not in power, since the player may hear an additional clue and change their answer, but for the giveaway that seems like less of an issue. Maybe this rule is only supposed to be describing powermark buzzes, so perhaps the point is irrelevant, but either way additional clarification would be nice: is the second sentence about buzzing always true, or just for when powermark issues would arise?

A possible solution would be to include some provision that's like "in the case where a moderator makes an error in not recognizing a buzz as it happens in the final line of the tossup, they may, using their best judgment, determine when the buzz actually occurred and recognize it as having happened there. These decisions are not protestable"? This seems consistent with normal "moderator judgment final" style rules of quiz bowl, and would solve this potential issue to begin with.

Regarding the second issue, what did ACF do to determine the "our answer is" requirement? I've only played one online tournament and staffed another, but I can't recall a single team ever using this phrasing. When speaking, most teams tend to say "[answer], directed." I think every single LIT team that I played against did this if they were using their mics, and even teams that used chat would put like "[answer], directed/dir/d" or just put it in caps. Does this rule mean if I say "We're gonna go with [answer]" that it won't be counted? Why have this rigid rule? There's obviously a need to have some sort of official indication of bonus answers on an online tournament, but why not have a looser rule? Teams should definitely be allowed to say "[answer], directed," or any other clear and obvious indication of their official answer. I envision this rule, if it is strictly enforced, will only cause teams to lose points when they legitimately know the answer, especially teams who have less experience online. Honestly I would not be surprised if moderators just ignore this rule and accept the "[answer], directed" anyways.

edit: Seeing that I just have been scooped by Albert, I'll add that I agree with his points about buzzing around powers (which shouldn't really affect ACF official tournaments anyway, right?). At the very least TDs should probably tell mods to make a habit of checking the chat around powermarks to prevent these issues from arising in the first place.
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Re: ACF Online Gameplay Rules Changes

Post by ryanrosenberg »

Jack wrote: Mon Oct 12, 2020 2:30 pm Most of these are good additions to the rules, but there are a couple that seem unnecessarily rigid to me. Specifically, these two:
caroline wrote: Sun Oct 11, 2020 12:15 pm Added Section DX.2.B: "Whether or not a player buzzed before, at, or within less than a syllable after the power mark is a matter of moderator judgment, and is not protestable. A player will be considered to have buzzed once the moderator stops speaking.”
Regarding the first one, although ACF currently doesn't have any powermarks in their tournaments, this seems like it could cause problems, currently regarding the final line of the tossup. If two teams wait until the end of a harder tossup to buzz and one player buzzes a few words before the question, but I the moderator don't see it, then recognize it after the tossup's completion. In a "normal" circumstance, if a player buzzes in and answers incorrectly, then I'd neg them, but because of my error, they get away with it, which obviously affects gameplay. I can see why this rule would make sense for something like power vs. not in power, since the player may hear an additional clue and change their answer, but for the giveaway that seems like less of an issue. Maybe this rule is only supposed to be describing powermark buzzes, so perhaps the point is irrelevant, but either way additional clarification would be nice: is the second sentence about buzzing always true, or just for when powermark issues would arise?
This happens in in-person tournaments too; certain players, Sean Smiley (formerly of VCU and W&M) in particular, have mastered the skill of buzzing just before the moderator reads the end of the giveaway, certain that they'll hear the clue and either know it or not neg.

Not speaking officially for ACF here, but my personal thought is that the only way to have certainty about when a buzz occurred is to mark it when the moderator stops reading.
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Re: ACF Online Gameplay Rules Changes

Post by acz13 »

ryanrosenberg wrote: Mon Oct 12, 2020 2:54 pm
Jack wrote: Mon Oct 12, 2020 2:30 pm Most of these are good additions to the rules, but there are a couple that seem unnecessarily rigid to me. Specifically, these two:
caroline wrote: Sun Oct 11, 2020 12:15 pm Added Section DX.2.B: "Whether or not a player buzzed before, at, or within less than a syllable after the power mark is a matter of moderator judgment, and is not protestable. A player will be considered to have buzzed once the moderator stops speaking.”
Regarding the first one, although ACF currently doesn't have any powermarks in their tournaments, this seems like it could cause problems, currently regarding the final line of the tossup. If two teams wait until the end of a harder tossup to buzz and one player buzzes a few words before the question, but I the moderator don't see it, then recognize it after the tossup's completion. In a "normal" circumstance, if a player buzzes in and answers incorrectly, then I'd neg them, but because of my error, they get away with it, which obviously affects gameplay. I can see why this rule would make sense for something like power vs. not in power, since the player may hear an additional clue and change their answer, but for the giveaway that seems like less of an issue. Maybe this rule is only supposed to be describing powermark buzzes, so perhaps the point is irrelevant, but either way additional clarification would be nice: is the second sentence about buzzing always true, or just for when powermark issues would arise?
This happens in in-person tournaments too; certain players, Sean Smiley (formerly of VCU and W&M) in particular, have mastered the skill of buzzing just before the moderator reads the end of the giveaway, certain that they'll hear the clue and either know it or not neg.

Not speaking officially for ACF here, but my personal thought is that the only way to have certainty about when a buzz occurred is to mark it when the moderator stops reading.
The rule should be in Section D instead of Section DX then.
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Re: ACF Online Gameplay Rules Changes

Post by ryanrosenberg »

acz13 wrote: Mon Oct 12, 2020 3:19 pm
ryanrosenberg wrote: Mon Oct 12, 2020 2:54 pm Not speaking officially for ACF here, but my personal thought is that the only way to have certainty about when a buzz occurred is to mark it when the moderator stops reading.
The rule should be in Section D instead of Section DX then.
To be clear, ACF hasn't decided on the rule here yet; that's just my personal view.
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Re: ACF Online Gameplay Rules Changes

Post by ryanrosenberg »

ACF has updated the gameplay rules to specify that TDs can choose a different phrase (such as "directed" or "final") that teams can prepend to their answer to direct it.
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Re: ACF Online Gameplay Rules Changes

Post by matthewspatrick »

acz13 wrote: Mon Oct 12, 2020 2:22 pm
caroline wrote: Sun Oct 11, 2020 12:15 pm Added Section E.4.A: “For an online tournament, a team shall direct a response to the moderator by prepending “Our answer is” to their answer. Moderators should only consider responses preceded by “Our answer is” or any other phrase designated by the TD. (For example, for a bonus part on Sextus Empiricus, the answering team should say “Our answer is Sextus Empiricus” to have their answer ruled upon.)”
What is the rationale for this over the much more convenient and already commonly used "... directed"? Additionally, I think moderator discretion with obvious directs like "Let's go with..." should be allowed.
Having staffed a few online events now, there are three problems I have as a mod with "<answer>, directed" or "<answer>, final answer" or the like:
  • Having the signifier come afterward can still leave ambiguous just what the team is saying their answer is, especially if there are many voices while the team is conferring
  • Preceding the answer with a specific cue, such as "Our answer is", signals that people should stop zoning out, while giving them an extra moment in which to "zone back in"
  • A cagey player could try to gauge a mod's reaction before adding "...directed"
As a mod, I would not care much if a player used "Answer: <answer>", "Directed: <answer>", "Final: <answer>". I would just want the cue to be very obvious and consistent. #TeamPrepend
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Re: ACF Online Gameplay Rules Changes

Post by caroline »

The post has been updated to change timing decisions from seven seconds to eight seconds in section D.6.A.
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Re: ACF Online Gameplay Rules Changes

Post by caroline »

ACF has made the following rules changes:

Changed E.5 to specify a prompt at six seconds and teams have two seconds to respond.
Added E.4.B: In addition to the above rule about teams directing answers, during online tournaments moderators shall consider directed the first answer given by a team after the moderator prompts them for an answer at the six-second mark, regardless of if the answer is preceded by a directing phrase or not. This does not apply to prompts given for the correctness of an answer, but only to prompts given for reasons of time.

The OP and the website have been updated accordingly.
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