I would also like to question the appropriateness of penalties not in the rules. Namely, for many events when a rule isn't followed/ something is out of specs it is decided that the team's event score would receive some penalty. To me it seems to make more sense to either completely DQ/tier a team in an event or not to, rather than giving them an arbitrary penalty.
This is because the significance of a penalty could not only drastically vary from competition to competition, but is also a sign of poor event design, in that a scenario was not covered in the rules and now an almost random penalty must be assigned (especially if the penalty is chosen by people without much knowledge of score distribution and the event's difficulty).
A couple comments on this:
1. We can't always account for all possible scenarios / things that would happen in events (we are human afterall and have limited time and space to print the rules in). Hence we put in General Rule #1 about the spirit of the problem and a vague statement giving the tournament director the ability to assess arbitrary penalty points.
2. Also note General Rule #5, which encourages officials to apply the LEAST restrictive penalty possible. We definitely don't want to be DQ/Tiering people for every little mistake, but we also don't want to have there be NO repercussions for violating the rules.
3. I agree penalties could vary drastically from competition to competition, which is partially why we want to hear about them and we monitor SciOly. However note that at Nationals the penalty discussions are going to involve the people with the most knowledge possible about the event rules. We also generally don't even look at the score distributions when assessing a penalty - each one should stand on it's own merit.
4. While you haven't explicitly said it, I'm pretty sure you are referring to the situation in It's About Time. As an aside, in case you didn't realize I was the person that came in to the room near the end of the device testing period and asked you a couple questions about your device and took pictures of it. The Event Supervisor texted me to come provide advice on the situation. He and I discussed it extensively and jointly agreed the device design was a violation of the spirit of the rules. I think you might have misinterpreted his attempts to 'soften the blow' while informing you of the penalty as him 'being on your side of the penalty'.
5. Note that rule 5.f. gives leeway in the exact penalty to be assessed for construction violations (e.g. up to 10 points). You were assessed a 5 point penalty (not 10 like you previously stated), which moved your rank from 18th place to 27th (and didn't have any impact on your overall team ranking).