Nationals Bid Discussion

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Re: Nationals Bid Discussion

Post by YakitateNoPan » April 11th, 2019, 8:31 pm

onoga17 wrote: Ranking teams is not that hard. Even just writing a program to do it is able to put Nationals placements within 3 ranks from actual position on average.
This is true. But like I pondered in my previous reply (which you probably haven't seen since I just posted before this) would that create a secondary goal that would undermine the the spirit of the competition?

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Re: Nationals Bid Discussion

Post by EastStroudsburg13 » April 11th, 2019, 8:37 pm

YakitateNoPan wrote:
Unome wrote: Ranking teams is not that hard. Even just writing a program to do it is able to put Nationals placements within 3 ranks from actual position on average.
This is true. But like I pondered in my previous reply (which you probably haven't seen since I just posted before this) would that create a secondary goal that would undermine the the spirit of the competition?
This would be an unofficial ranking done by the scioly community for fun. The idea behind aggregating multiple voters is that it decreases the influence of bias (you could even take out the highest and lowest ranking of each team to cut out bias even more). I don't think it would be something to take super seriously.

And as for how you'd rank teams from different states, you can get a pretty good idea from invitationals and relative national performance of state champions. Since it's an unofficial ranking, it wouldn't need to be super scientific beyond that.
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Re: Nationals Bid Discussion

Post by YakitateNoPan » April 11th, 2019, 8:45 pm

EastStroudsburg13 wrote: This would be an unofficial ranking done by the scioly community for fun. The idea behind aggregating multiple voters is that it decreases the influence of bias (you could even take out the highest and lowest ranking of each team to cut out bias even more). I don't think it would be something to take super seriously.

And as for how you'd rank teams from different states, you can get a pretty good idea from invitationals and relative national performance of state champions. Since it's an unofficial ranking, it wouldn't need to be super scientific beyond that.
Ok, I agree. But it appears this train of thought specifically has taken a route away from the topic about national bids and should be its own thread of discussion.

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Re: Nationals Bid Discussion

Post by syo_astro » April 11th, 2019, 9:06 pm

Note: a thread about ranking teams or a discussion about ranking teams is mostly warranted if we can explore why we might do that. Let's see our categories so far (expanding on what sciencekid said).
EastStroudsburg13 wrote:Maybe one thing we can improve as a community is giving recognition to teams that don't make nationals.

And, if we do reach the point where B and C nationals are separate, maybe we see a separate Open tournament created where any team that finished in the top X of their state can attend if they like (with some sort of cap on numbers). Essentially a glorified invitational, but with the pageantry that nationals brings, without affecting the actual national qualification process.
I don't think anyone said this so far...but...basically MIT @ the last part? With that in mind, it is...a bit awkward (at least to me, idk about others) that we have to discuss having a tourny for "the top X teams" vs. "actual nationals". I can completely understand where the will for compromise comes from, hopefully not being controversial. But I have a feeling someone won't be satisfied regardless:
-If we create a single tournament that favors smaller states, we'll get various medium-big states that are unhappy as we already know.
-If we create a single tournament that favors big states / competitive teams, we *maybe* win the "legitimacy" argument but lose out in certain states as already stated.
-If we create two tournaments, we have the issue of one being "actual nationals" and one being "an invitational". Many will complain about how scioly lacks legitimacy blah blah. That *could* mean the org sticks with actual nats being geographically diverse, etc, etc...but I suspect from MIT discussion I've seen many will try to make the "invite" as "real nationals". From there...we're kind of in the thick of it now, who knows what that'll change when taken more seriously, I don't. But I don't want that to be seen as a slippery slope (as I say below) because it seems there are people who actively try to push things one way or the other.

I also concur with primitive_polonium on various points, in particular: individuals get something out of the competition regardless. That said, this being completely my opinion, I don't think it's possible for every individual to feel "properly rewarded" with scioly. Not saying we can't do better, like I said, I agree a lot, but most of these conversations don't even seem like a slippery slope to me. Many want to have scioly be "legit" like other olys, but I just think it's apples and oranges, especially in team formats (maybe I misunderstand, but those other olys seemed highly focused on the best individuals as opposed to the best teams). I don't want to make a binary split drawing sides since I know there's a middle ground to be had, but I just don't see where the two sides are agreeing here as much as they need to...I suppose if people want, we can look to other tournies with team formats like FIRST/quizbowl (which are basically always brought up in these discussions), but eh, many have issues with those too...in fact, there might be an open tourny or multiple nats or something in quizbowl, I forget Lumo would know better.

So resummarizing what others have said: The most pragmatic and simple solution *in the current system* sure is just some extra bids, but I think it'll be tough to get the "big state" and the "small state" fans to see eye to eye since they have fundamentally different concerns, personal stakes, etc unless I'm mistaken...Neat idea regardless @East, I forget if that one has been brought up before (certainly the rest have been as Unome said...). Heck, I remember when I competed NY people were claiming we deserved 3 spots one year >.<.
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Re: Nationals Bid Discussion

Post by primitivepolonium » April 11th, 2019, 10:47 pm

syo_astro wrote:
Not saying we can't do better, like I said, I agree a lot, but most of these conversations don't even seem like a slippery slope to me.
For the slippery slope part: What I meant is that if we use the idea of "take bid from not-so-high-achieving state, give it to high-achieving state", it could get to a point where people start pushing for any team that doesn't do extremely well to be replaced. I don't particularly want to go to a Nats tournament where all the teams come from 5 states (extreme example, but you get the idea).

TBH, if someone wanted to give legitimacy to SciOly and have it be on the same level as ChemOly, BiOly, etc (or even Science Bowl), the bid system isn't what's wrong. The entire events roster needs to be looked at and scrubbed. New events either pertaining to relevant topics (such as CS events that is NOT Game On), advanced events (Go Big Orgo Home, pls), or purely problem-solving events (eg: a CS event where you need to code on the spot and are measured by test cases), along with the removal/cycling out of things like Picture This or Remote Sensing, would be a game-changer. Having good exams and labs and what not at every level? Amazing. If SciOly can net you prestigious scholarship/internship/whatnot opportunities, people would actually feel incentivized to do SciOly, thus increasing the competition pool and making the winners look even better.

Anyway, bids. 100% independent of prestige. If something is prestigious enough, people will play within the rules to make it even if they have to play dirty. ChemOly has possibly the jankest system ever--only 2 kids/school can qualify for semifinals (called "Nationals"). Orange County in particular is even worse and only lets each school send 4 kids (who have to be in AP/IB chem) because they're afraid of cheating or something. There's been years where the Troy kids do super well (<57/60) and don't make it, while some kid in a low priority area get 40/60 and go on. This is such a bad system, and yet people will purposely go to different regions or sign up for classes at tutoring places ($$$) to be able to test in less competitive regions. BioOly has cheating problems because of its structure; you have people who deliberately opt to take the exam at certain sites or who use familial connections.

And then you have SciBowl, another team event. A team in my area (shan't name them) only qualified for Nats because they made up a bunch of excuses about how they can't go to either of the 2 competitive regionals near them so that they could instead drive up to one of the less competitive central Cal regions. They got reported, but you get the idea. If SciOly ever reaches a level of clout where going to States means the same as getting semis on an Oly, the majority of the people will just start finding ways to gerrymander the regions instead of complaining every year.
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Re: Nationals Bid Discussion

Post by SOPomo » April 11th, 2019, 10:50 pm

West Virginia sends two teams out of eight registered. A 25% chance.
SoCal sends two teams out of 474 registered. A 0.4% chance. Or if you want to treat us as a whole state, we send four teams out of 837, a 0.5% chance.

I bet the same people who think the current system isn't broken probably also think the Electoral College makes sense in 2019.

If you're from a state that is regularly in 50-60th place, are you really going to be affected by that third CA/NJ / second TX team? You'll place 53-63rd. **But you still get to go to Nationals** while the teams that would make SO an actual competitive science competition currently do not. If you're one of the teams in the 20s-30s, then you might be affected by the addition of a couple top-notch teams. But you could also extend awards one or two medal counts.

In the new coaches clinic at SOSI last year, it was emphatically stated that there will *NEVER* be a third team from a state at nationals. Until the higher-ups in SOINC/event committees change that attitude, these conversations are a moot point, but I still think there's value in having them. It highlights the flaws in a current system and also solutions that would affect almost nobody yet appease every complaint. Some day, those concerns will be heeded.

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Re: Nationals Bid Discussion

Post by lumosityfan » April 11th, 2019, 11:31 pm

I think that an unofficial ranking would be wonderful. I was actually thinking of rebooting the poll that I made 2 or so years ago on ranking the best teams regardless of states. Also, I agree with people who say that we should focus on ensuring that all tests are well-written and that we should make sure tournaments are run as well as possible. Now, obviously that'll be difficult. But if we are to grow as a community, we will need to make sure that we are seen as legitimate in the eyes of prospectives schools. It may seem like nothing when Thermodynamics is ruined for the nth time, but to a new school who doesn't know what the heck's going on, they're going to be very discouraged by that event and not want to come back. We need to give the best face possible to new teams and schools so that we can retain their participation and ensure that Science Olympiad can continue to grow.

(to syo's inquiry: quizbowl does have 2 nationals for high school students, PACE NSC and NAQT HSNCT and does have numerous tournaments very much like invitationals. In addition, there really aren't any big-time tournaments relative to nationals in qb (although Harvard's and Hunter College High School's tournaments come fairly close when it comes to out-of-state teams coming as well as the Texas Invitational) and open tourneys are usually held for college students and adults, less so for high school students). I guess if I may: the thing I like about quizbowl that could help Science Olympiad so much is that they care about outreach and wanting to make a good name for prospective participants. Thus, they ensure that every question set is written well, that moderators enforce the rules properly, and that tournaments have as little hiccups as possible. In addition, there's a concerted outreach effort to reach teams that have never played qb before to get them involved, and it has paid dividends. I think if we are to grow SciOly we need to have more of a outreach presence through emailing teams, getting the word out there, and making sure our tournaments are run as well as possible so that those teams will not be turned away but rather will stay.)

As for the national bid discussion, it is very tough between the argument of best teams in the nation and best teams per state. While I am partial towards best teams in the nation argument (and in a perfect world I suspect that'd occur), the problem is that there simply isn't enough data points to properly judge whether teams deserve to make it in. The alternative would be a side tournament where a certain number of teams from each state would compete for nationals spots, but that would take a lot of manpower. Thus, as painful as it might be, I think we need to focus more on improving SciOly as a whole and reaching out to more teams. (Also if we can find a way to expand Nationals I think that'll help 1) reduce the bid problem and 2) give more teams a chance to compete, meaning we increase retention and honestly make SciOly more interesting)
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Re: Nationals Bid Discussion

Post by syo_astro » April 11th, 2019, 11:45 pm

Wait, so I agree with the above obvs, but another question...(sorry to distract, please read the above posts they're quality!)
EastStroudsburg13 wrote:... I don't really want to separate the B and C tourneys, but it's a lot of people to have together at once...
Why is it important to have B and C joined anyway? Maybe I'm biased coming from a state where we had them split so I don't get the impact...but does this impact much? Extra costs to rent a venue twice? I mean, it's a smaller tourny that could then be expanded, so wouldn't that be logistically easier? Also, then we could go from like 60 teams to 112 teams...every state gets an extra bid easy then >.>.
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Re: Nationals Bid Discussion

Post by Rossyspsce » April 11th, 2019, 11:50 pm

primitive_polonium wrote:
syo_astro wrote:
Not saying we can't do better, like I said, I agree a lot, but most of these conversations don't even seem like a slippery slope to me.
For the slippery slope part: What I meant is that if we use the idea of "take bid from not-so-high-achieving state, give it to high-achieving state", it could get to a point where people start pushing for any team that doesn't do extremely well to be replaced. I don't particularly want to go to a Nats tournament where all the teams come from 5 states (extreme example, but you get the idea).

TBH, if someone wanted to give legitimacy to SciOly and have it be on the same level as ChemOly, BiOly, etc (or even Science Bowl), the bid system isn't what's wrong. The entire events roster needs to be looked at and scrubbed. New events either pertaining to relevant topics (such as CS events that is NOT Game On), advanced events (Go Big Orgo Home, pls), or purely problem-solving events (eg: a CS event where you need to code on the spot and are measured by test cases), along with the removal/cycling out of things like Picture This or Remote Sensing, would be a game-changer. Having good exams and labs and what not at every level? Amazing. If SciOly can net you prestigious scholarship/internship/whatnot opportunities, people would actually feel incentivized to do SciOly, thus increasing the competition pool and making the winners look even better.

Anyway, bids. 100% independent of prestige. If something is prestigious enough, people will play within the rules to make it even if they have to play dirty. ChemOly has possibly the jankest system ever--only 2 kids/school can qualify for semifinals (called "Nationals"). Orange County in particular is even worse and only lets each school send 4 kids (who have to be in AP/IB chem) because they're afraid of cheating or something. There's been years where the Troy kids do super well (<57/60) and don't make it, while some kid in a low priority area get 40/60 and go on. This is such a bad system, and yet people will purposely go to different regions or sign up for classes at tutoring places ($$$) to be able to test in less competitive regions. BioOly has cheating problems because of its structure; you have people who deliberately opt to take the exam at certain sites or who use familial connections.

And then you have SciBowl, another team event. A team in my area (shan't name them) only qualified for Nats because they made up a bunch of excuses about how they can't go to either of the 2 competitive regionals near them so that they could instead drive up to one of the less competitive central Cal regions. They got reported, but you get the idea. If SciOly ever reaches a level of clout where going to States means the same as getting semis on an Oly, the majority of the people will just start finding ways to gerrymander the regions instead of complaining every year.
The teams manipulating regionals thing already happens in some states. My current state, will not name, had a team change into our regionals to get to state bc they had a difficult time making it passed, this didn't affect the top team but the teams below them with developing programs were definately effected, which even ended a couple teams the next year. Thankfully, that team has moved regionals yet again, so the more local teams were able to make it to state, I even saw some of the teams that initially left upon their arrival

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Re: Nationals Bid Discussion

Post by EastStroudsburg13 » April 12th, 2019, 4:19 am

syo_astro wrote:Wait, so I agree with the above obvs, but another question...(sorry to distract, please read the above posts they're quality!)
EastStroudsburg13 wrote:... I don't really want to separate the B and C tourneys, but it's a lot of people to have together at once...
Why is it important to have B and C joined anyway? Maybe I'm biased coming from a state where we had them split so I don't get the impact...but does this impact much? Extra costs to rent a venue twice? I mean, it's a smaller tourny that could then be expanded, so wouldn't that be logistically easier? Also, then we could go from like 60 teams to 112 teams...every state gets an extra bid easy then >.>.
They're together I think for the ease of having just one host, and for pageantry reasons (though I could be off). But if the idea were to get some traction, I bet we could see expansion to 72 pretty quickly.

As for SOPomo's comment, I agree that the current system is flawed, but it's definitely not broken. It accomplishes what it seeks out to do, which is have some sort of SO presence in every state. Does it mean some teams have a much easier time to qualify? Yeah, but those are arguably the teams that could benefit from the experience the most.

And sorry if we got a little sidetracked talking about the unofficial poll idea, lol. It started as a discussion point to try to give teams in tough states that don't make nationals more recognition. Once all the states are completed (May 4) we can make a trial thread for it to see how well it works.
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