As an alumni that began helping out this year I know that I did have somewhat of a learning curve when it came to writing the tests, but I know that I would have been much more receptive to suggestions and advice then many other people that aren't as dedicated. Whether that be example tests or anything. I know that the advice that I would have given my past self is to make the tests easier to grade, since you don't have that much time to grade them, and to make the difficulty extremely scaling, such that everyone can get some points, but not all, after all the point of the tests is to accurately differentiate the teams, and I think my second round of tests (states) did an even better job of accomplishing those two goals then my regionals tests.Wow....buy into conspiracy theories much? Don't forget that the evil multinational corporation controlling the national office also had a man on the grassy knoll. Coincidence? I think not!Interesting choice of words, considering they are volunteers...
I would think that this information could be captured in a database, then sorted by state, by interest, but in reality do we really believe that department heads at state tournaments will be willing to relinquish the authority of these events to SO alums potentially having no ties to the campus, as opposed to tapping Grad Students on their shoulder and having someone that is 100% indentured to the department?
I am obviously kidding with that, but seriously it would be great to have a database for volunteers. What my brother was trying to point out above is that it is very difficult to manage such a system. Science Olympiad already has an alumni database (http://soinc.org/alumni_survey), even if it isn't explicitly for the purposes of volunteering. If we were to have one large, central database, someone would have to sort through all of the submissions and put those who filled out the forms in contact with those who need help. That's great in theory, but incredibly difficult to actually implement.
Also, just because alumni have participated for years does not necessarily mean they know exactly what to do. One common problem we have with new alumni event supervisors is that they simply write tests that are vastly too difficult or complicated. The reason for this is obvious, the alumni who volunteer were usually some of the best competitors. They expect many of the teams to be at a similar level and write a test accordingly. It normally takes a couple of iterations before they get the hang of things. Which is not to say having alumni help out is a bad thing, I think our established alumni base is a great, largely untapped resource. We just have to be smart about how to involve more alumni.