Test Set Exchange Update

ScottMaurer19
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Re: Test Set Exchange Update

Postby ScottMaurer19 » February 21st, 2019, 3:43 pm

Shortened for convenience
As I mentioned earlier, teams don't go to invitationals for the tests. They go there for the experience. The tests simply happen to be a good practice platform that the teams can use for further analysis and reference. Also just because it's unrealistic for every tournament to release tests doesn't mean that we can't do our part. It will hopefully start a precedent that will eventually reach us to that point. And those teams that couldn't attend tournaments would love to pay for those teams. However, they simply can't because they're so new that they realistically can't reach that point in which they can go to invies constantly until maybe Year 3 or 4. Until then those tests will give them a nice starting point so that they don't go into regionals and states totally unprepared.
I know I'm biased, but I'm with Nick. Releasing tests has positive consequences for new teams, but also realize SO is a competition. Yes it's about learning, exploring, and building connections within science. That's great and SO has given me lots of opportunities and knowledge that I wouldn't have had without it. That being said I'm not only here to play nice with other teams and help them. As Nick said Solon fully supports new teams wishing to attend our invitational, but you must also think about experienced teams. You are neglecting their perspective and assume that the only effect of releasing all tests would be for new teams to gain resources whereas in reality experienced teams are losing an edge on competition against their primary competitors as well (ignoring the new teams as competition in the short run). How would people feel if Troy stopped attending invitationals and just asked teams for tests from their invitationals? I guarentee you there would be few teams willing to just hand them tests.

I know this sounds cut throat and maybe even a bit mean, but this is the reality of the program.
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Re: Test Set Exchange Update

Postby lumosityfan » February 21st, 2019, 3:45 pm

As I mentioned earlier, teams don't go to invitationals for the tests. They go there for the experience. The tests simply happen to be a good practice platform that the teams can use for further analysis and reference. Also just because it's unrealistic for every tournament to release tests doesn't mean that we can't do our part. It will hopefully start a precedent that will eventually reach us to that point. And those teams that couldn't attend tournaments would love to pay for those teams. However, they simply can't because they're so new that they realistically can't reach that point in which they can go to invies constantly until maybe Year 3 or 4. Until then those tests will give them a nice starting point so that they don't go into regionals and states totally unprepared.
I know I'm biased, but I'm with Nick. Releasing tests has positive consequences for new teams, but also realize SO is a competition. Yes it's about learning, exploring, and building connections within science. That's great and SO has given me lots of opportunities and knowledge that I wouldn't have had without it. That being said I'm not only here to play nice with other teams and help them. As Nick said Solon fully supports new teams wishing to attend our invitational, but you must also think about experienced teams. You are neglecting their perspective and assume that the only effect of releasing all tests would be for new teams to gain resources whereas in reality experienced teams are losing an edge on competition against their primary competitors as well (ignoring the new teams as competition in the short run). How would people feel if Troy stopped attending invitationals and just asked teams for tests from their invitationals? I guarentee you there would be few teams willing to just hand them tests.

I know this sounds cut throat and maybe even a bit mean, but this is the reality of the program.
I totally agree that's what the reality is but that doesn't have to be that way. I totally get that teams wouldn't be willing to just hand out tests (which is totally understandable; as a competitor I probably wouldn't either).
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Re: Test Set Exchange Update

Postby ScottMaurer19 » February 21st, 2019, 3:48 pm

As I mentioned earlier, teams don't go to invitationals for the tests. They go there for the experience. The tests simply happen to be a good practice platform that the teams can use for further analysis and reference. Also just because it's unrealistic for every tournament to release tests doesn't mean that we can't do our part. It will hopefully start a precedent that will eventually reach us to that point. And those teams that couldn't attend tournaments would love to pay for those teams. However, they simply can't because they're so new that they realistically can't reach that point in which they can go to invies constantly until maybe Year 3 or 4. Until then those tests will give them a nice starting point so that they don't go into regionals and states totally unprepared.
I know I'm biased, but I'm with Nick. Releasing tests has positive consequences for new teams, but also realize SO is a competition. Yes it's about learning, exploring, and building connections within science. That's great and SO has given me lots of opportunities and knowledge that I wouldn't have had without it. That being said I'm not only here to play nice with other teams and help them. As Nick said Solon fully supports new teams wishing to attend our invitational, but you must also think about experienced teams. You are neglecting their perspective and assume that the only effect of releasing all tests would be for new teams to gain resources whereas in reality experienced teams are losing an edge on competition against their primary competitors as well (ignoring the new teams as competition in the short run). How would people feel if Troy stopped attending invitationals and just asked teams for tests from their invitationals? I guarentee you there would be few teams willing to just hand them tests.

I know this sounds cut throat and maybe even a bit mean, but this is the reality of the program.
I totally agree that's what the reality is but that doesn't have to be that way. I totally get that teams wouldn't be willing to just hand out tests (which is totally understandable; as a competitor I probably wouldn't either).
If you wouldn't give them out either I'm sorry but I fail to see why anyone else should...
Solon '19 Captain, CWRU '23
2017 (r/s/n):
Hydro: 3/5/18
Robot Arm: na/1/1
Rocks: 1/1/1

2018 (r/s/n):
Heli: 2/1/7 
Herp: 1/4/4
Mission: 1/1/6
Rocks: 1/1/1
Eco: 6/3/9

2019 (r/s/n):
Fossils: 1/1/1
GLM: 1/1/1
Herp: 1/1/5
Mission: 1/1/3
WS: 4/1/10

Top 3 Medals: 144
Golds: 80

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Re: Test Set Exchange Update

Postby KC1FVS » February 21st, 2019, 6:02 pm


Because it is a competition, there is often an inherent tension between doing what is best for the program and doing what is best for your team. As an alumnus and regional tournament director, my goal is to benefit Science Olympiad - hence why I publicly and privately urged MIT to switch their test release policy last year, when I was a supervisor. As a coach and invitational tournament director, having tests from our invitational posted publicly has no upside. Indeed, if anything, doing so imposes potential costs on my team and tournament, especially if the tests strengthen the practice of our competitors.

I know that new/small teams face many barriers before attending invitational tournaments, especially in states which (unlike Ohio) do not have invitationals throughout the state on many dates. We do what we can to assist these teams, as I hope other established teams do across the nation. But I would argue that releasing tests publicly is more likely to benefit other established teams (who go looking for practice material) than it is a new team. It's the Solon-like teams who go collecting for as many test sets as we can find...
And those established teams will always go test-hunting. (Look at the pattern that's happening now!) While the new teams will go to regionals, realize what has hit them, and more likely than not be demoralized. While if we give these practice tests they will at least have some idea of what's going on so that they don't go in totally blind. (Now they may still decide to drop out but that's their own volition; we can do our best as you've mentioned to ease their transition.) In addition, your reasoning for not wanting tests to published online should really not be "strengthen the practice of our competitors" or "benefit other established teams". That immediately questions the whole notion of a tournament director being unbiased towards a team. Tournament directors should aim to show as little bias as possible and thus our reasoning for not publishing test sets should really not be because publishing test sets will help the established teams more. (Which is arguable at best; those established will (and have) find ways to find test sets. The new teams can't.)
As an invitational tournament director, my job is to be unbiased to the teams competing at the tournament. All of them do receive the test sets. I don't have an obligation to bestow that benefit on the teams who don't attend...
I think that for those of us who act as both a tournament director and a coach, then our obligation to be impartial should in fact inform the rationale of our test release policies. When deciding who should get our tests after the tournament, we are still acting as directors, not as coaches. Otherwise, coaches who host or run invitationals are using the privilege of that opportunity to wield the advantage of proprietary information for one or more teams. If the decision to withhold invitational tests from public release is founded in our desire to disadvantage non-attending teams, then I think we have mixed up our coaching hat with our directing hat. If it is founded in the interest our tournament, then fine, but that is getting to be a hard case to defend.

Ask yourself: If I were a tournament director only, and not a coach, would there be any reason to withhold test access? The only reason would be to incentivize registration and attendance. This dubious idea is now being further undermined by extensive test exchange sharing networks. Getting the tests without attending is arguably easier than attending. Consider the response I just received from the student whose email initiated my post. When I expressed my hesitation to share the data from our invitational, they stated,

"...nothing can stop me from going to the other schools that attended your invitational and offer them the same deal and I am sure someone will accept it...”

The idea that we are in possession of a valuable commodity may indeed be false, and our attempts to limit access are likely to be undermined. Our tournament has so far been withholding tests in order to incentivize tournament registration, but I am starting to believe that this practice is misguided, and will move to remove the password protection on our tests and keys. I am curious to know other people's views on this thread.

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Re: Test Set Exchange Update

Postby nicholasmaurer » February 21st, 2019, 6:45 pm

I think that for those of us who act as both a tournament director and a coach, then our obligation to be impartial should in fact inform the rationale of our test release policies. When deciding who should get our tests after the tournament, we are still acting as directors, not as coaches. Otherwise, coaches who host or run invitationals are using the privilege of that opportunity to wield the advantage of proprietary information for one or more teams. If the decision to withhold invitational tests from public release is founded in our desire to disadvantage non-attending teams, then I think we have mixed up our coaching hat with our directing hat. If it is founded in the interest our tournament, then fine, but that is getting to be a hard case to defend.
The obligation of an invitational tournament director is to be impartial among the teams at their tournament and advantage attending teams relative to the teams who are not. As this is a competition, advantaging teams who do attend necessarily disadvantages those who do not. The value created by a tournament and its director are not meant to be equally and impartially distributed between teams who attend and teams who do not. Indeed, any value is meant to be preferentially distributed to participating teams; that is why teams pay to attend, make the effort to travel, contribute tests/volunteers, etc.

Yes, teams looking to trade can and do circumvent you by trading with other schools. Presumably, those other schools attended your tournament and are now trading your tests for other tests. Thus, your tournament is providing an attending team with continued value. Publicly releasing your tests devalues them for your attendees, as they would now be unable to trade them.
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Re: Test Set Exchange Update

Postby uictoria1 » February 21st, 2019, 6:57 pm

I think that for those of us who act as both a tournament director and a coach, then our obligation to be impartial should in fact inform the rationale of our test release policies. When deciding who should get our tests after the tournament, we are still acting as directors, not as coaches. Otherwise, coaches who host or run invitationals are using the privilege of that opportunity to wield the advantage of proprietary information for one or more teams. If the decision to withhold invitational tests from public release is founded in our desire to disadvantage non-attending teams, then I think we have mixed up our coaching hat with our directing hat. If it is founded in the interest our tournament, then fine, but that is getting to be a hard case to defend.
The obligation of an invitational tournament director is to be impartial among the teams at their tournament and advantage attending teams relative to the teams who are not. As this is a competition, advantaging teams who do attend necessarily disadvantages those who do not. The value created by a tournament and its director are not meant to be equally and impartially distributed between teams who attend and teams who do not. Indeed, any value is meant to be preferentially distributed to participating teams; that is why teams pay to attend, make the effort to travel, contribute tests/volunteers, etc.

Yes, teams looking to trade can and do circumvent you by trading with other schools. Presumably, those other schools attended your tournament and are now trading your tests for other tests. Thus, your tournament is providing an attending team with continued value. Publicly releasing your tests devalues them for your attendees, as they would now be unable to trade them.
I think part of the disconnect here is that many (dare I say most) team-run invitationals are not intended as a public service to Science Olympiad. They're large fundraisers which monetize the opportunity to compete, receive feedback, and gain access to tests/keys. Tournament Directors are hesitant - and have little incentive - to subtract from that value proposition by publicly publishing tests.

Alumni/university-run invitational tournaments are entirely different. They are not trying to raise funds to benefit a specific school or team. They are simply trying to give back to Science Olympiad. The incentives and mission are very different even though both are invitationals.

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Re: Test Set Exchange Update

Postby sciolyperson1 » February 21st, 2019, 7:12 pm

I think that for those of us who act as both a tournament director and a coach, then our obligation to be impartial should in fact inform the rationale of our test release policies. When deciding who should get our tests after the tournament, we are still acting as directors, not as coaches. Otherwise, coaches who host or run invitationals are using the privilege of that opportunity to wield the advantage of proprietary information for one or more teams. If the decision to withhold invitational tests from public release is founded in our desire to disadvantage non-attending teams, then I think we have mixed up our coaching hat with our directing hat. If it is founded in the interest our tournament, then fine, but that is getting to be a hard case to defend.
The obligation of an invitational tournament director is to be impartial among the teams at their tournament and advantage attending teams relative to the teams who are not. As this is a competition, advantaging teams who do attend necessarily disadvantages those who do not. The value created by a tournament and its director are not meant to be equally and impartially distributed between teams who attend and teams who do not. Indeed, any value is meant to be preferentially distributed to participating teams; that is why teams pay to attend, make the effort to travel, contribute tests/volunteers, etc.

Yes, teams looking to trade can and do circumvent you by trading with other schools. Presumably, those other schools attended your tournament and are now trading your tests for other tests. Thus, your tournament is providing an attending team with continued value. Publicly releasing your tests devalues them for your attendees, as they would now be unable to trade them.
I think part of the disconnect here is that many (dare I say most) team-run invitationals are not intended as a public service to Science Olympiad. They're large fundraisers which monetize the opportunity to compete, receive feedback, and gain access to tests/keys. Tournament Directors are hesitant - and have little incentive - to subtract from that value proposition by publicly publishing tests.

Alumni/university-run invitational tournaments are entirely different. They are not trying to raise funds to benefit a specific school or team. They are simply trying to give back to Science Olympiad. The incentives and mission are very different even though both are invitationals.
In addition, many people host invitationals to fund their own team/school. Nothing is wrong with this, but as mentioned earlier, I know a few people who keep their raw scores, data, and even tests to themselves, and not give it out, even to participating teams.

IMO, it would be great if every single soinc registered invitational could just simply post their tests, and or data/scores on their website or soinc's website. Although many people might not like it, it's more fair to every team.
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Re: Test Set Exchange Update

Postby AlbatrossTree » February 21st, 2019, 7:19 pm

We have attended invitationals that publicly released their tests. I can confirm this makes it extremely difficult to trade for new tests with other teams because, as previously stated, tests are a commodity with value. Trading tests does not undermine a tournament's decision to keep tests private; if anything it strengthens it because it provides incentives for teams to come to inviationals to compete in order to gain a valuable commodity in addition to the experience it provides the team. It's a simple economics problem. There is a limited supply of tests so teams must pay--in tests to another team or in cash to compete--in order to acquire said good. Completely devalue the tests by posting them everywhere and I am more than willing to bet many teams will stop attending competitions because it is cheap and easier to just take the tests rather than pay fees and travel. Decreasing the value of a tournament's worth also may force the lowering of registration fees to try and get more teams to come which eats into fundraising for the host and decreases the number of competitions offered.

SO invitationals are not designed to be fair to every team. They are designed to be fair to the teams that attend. Regionals states and nationals are intended to be fair to the respective attendees but the means of which a team gains experience and competitiveness are not. If it was then the national organization would make it mandatory for tests to be released from all invitationals, put a max on the amount of money a team can spend, subsidize teams who cannot reach that maximum, etc.

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Re: Test Set Exchange Update

Postby AlbatrossTree » February 21st, 2019, 7:20 pm


The obligation of an invitational tournament director is to be impartial among the teams at their tournament and advantage attending teams relative to the teams who are not. As this is a competition, advantaging teams who do attend necessarily disadvantages those who do not. The value created by a tournament and its director are not meant to be equally and impartially distributed between teams who attend and teams who do not. Indeed, any value is meant to be preferentially distributed to participating teams; that is why teams pay to attend, make the effort to travel, contribute tests/volunteers, etc.

Yes, teams looking to trade can and do circumvent you by trading with other schools. Presumably, those other schools attended your tournament and are now trading your tests for other tests. Thus, your tournament is providing an attending team with continued value. Publicly releasing your tests devalues them for your attendees, as they would now be unable to trade them.
I think part of the disconnect here is that many (dare I say most) team-run invitationals are not intended as a public service to Science Olympiad. They're large fundraisers which monetize the opportunity to compete, receive feedback, and gain access to tests/keys. Tournament Directors are hesitant - and have little incentive - to subtract from that value proposition by publicly publishing tests.

Alumni/university-run invitational tournaments are entirely different. They are not trying to raise funds to benefit a specific school or team. They are simply trying to give back to Science Olympiad. The incentives and mission are very different even though both are invitationals.
In addition, many people host invitationals to fund their own team/school. Nothing is wrong with this, but as mentioned earlier, I know a few people who keep their raw scores, data, and even tests to themselves, and not give it out, even to participating teams.

IMO, it would be great if every single soinc registered invitational could just simply post their tests, and or data/scores on their website or soinc's website. Although many people might not like it, it's more fair to every team.
How is it fair to the teams that paid to attend the tournament?

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Re: Test Set Exchange Update

Postby windu34 » February 21st, 2019, 7:23 pm

As I mentioned earlier, teams don't go to invitationals for the tests. They go there for the experience. The tests simply happen to be a good practice platform that the teams can use for further analysis and reference. Also just because it's unrealistic for every tournament to release tests doesn't mean that we can't do our part. It will hopefully start a precedent that will eventually reach us to that point. And those teams that couldn't attend tournaments would love to pay for those teams. However, they simply can't because they're so new that they realistically can't reach that point in which they can go to invies constantly until maybe Year 3 or 4. Until then those tests will give them a nice starting point so that they don't go into regionals and states totally unprepared.
I know I'm biased, but I'm with Nick. Releasing tests has positive consequences for new teams, but also realize SO is a competition. Yes it's about learning, exploring, and building connections within science. That's great and SO has given me lots of opportunities and knowledge that I wouldn't have had without it. That being said I'm not only here to play nice with other teams and help them. As Nick said Solon fully supports new teams wishing to attend our invitational, but you must also think about experienced teams. You are neglecting their perspective and assume that the only effect of releasing all tests would be for new teams to gain resources whereas in reality experienced teams are losing an edge on competition against their primary competitors as well (ignoring the new teams as competition in the short run). How would people feel if Troy stopped attending invitationals and just asked teams for tests from their invitationals? I guarentee you there would be few teams willing to just hand them tests.

I know this sounds cut throat and maybe even a bit mean, but this is the reality of the program.
Im with Nick and Scott on this one. Teams are free to go to whichever tournaments they want. If you dont like the way one tournament is with their tests/principles, go to a different tournament. I think tournament directors should be free to do whatever they want with their exams and resources.
As a regional tournament director myself, I make all of our exams public immediately after the tournament, but i have an additional motive - I WANT other teams to take our exams, especially those in Florida, realize that our tournament can actually follow the rules for each event, and then choose to come attend here. When I supervise ANYWHERE (including Florida regionals and states, MIT, Princeton, etc), I make certain that my test is made public whether or not the tournament venue wants that or not. I wrote the test - it is my intellectual property and I can choose to share it if I want to.

I can't say that I think it is a GOOD thing for invites to not release exams publically, but I also believe in free-market capitalism and forcing tournaments to share their exams so that "every team has an equal advantage" sounds awfully socialist to me...
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