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Unread 06-18-2017, 09:10 AM
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Re: Experienced Judges vs Unbiased Judges

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Originally Posted by FrisbeeFunTime View Post
When you sign on new judges at a particular event do you ever walk them through what they should expect to see and what they should look out such as whether a team is using can which can usually today be easily identified if the team is using srx's with all of them daisy chained?
It's not possible or practical. There is barely enough time to introduce them to what FIRST and FRC is let alone educating them about what to expect on the robots. Teaming a new judge with an experienced judge is the best way to get them acclimated to what they are seeing on the robot.
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Unread 06-18-2017, 09:19 AM
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Re: Experienced Judges vs Unbiased Judges

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Originally Posted by rsisk View Post
It's not possible or practical. There is barely enough time to introduce them to what FIRST and FRC is let alone educating them about what to expect on the robots. Teaming a new judge with an experienced judge is the best way to get them acclimated to what they are seeing on the robot.
And if you focus on volunteer retention the same way we focus on student and team retention, those new judges will become experienced judges in a few years, ready to teach new judges. The problem comes when there is no volunteer retention from year to year and you are left with all new judges with no FIRST experience every year.
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Unread 06-18-2017, 11:35 AM
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Re: Experienced Judges vs Unbiased Judges

OK, so here comes the next question.
Judges for Rookie All Star, EI and Chairman's.
The teams that reach the highest level of community programs are usually well known for that. Judges who really get that, in many cases, will be, at least somehow affiliated with those teams (Involved in some of their projects, worked together before, or just good friends of involved individuals).
This means that however they try, it will be challenging to be completely unbiased.
What is done in your region to handle that issue?


*Disclaimer: I'm not a regional director, or a volunteer coordinator. Just looking for solutions to help FIRST Israel grow.
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Unread 06-18-2017, 02:03 PM
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Re: Experienced Judges vs Unbiased Judges

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Originally Posted by Tottanka View Post
OK, so here comes the next question.
Judges for Rookie All Star, EI and Chairman's.
The teams that reach the highest level of community programs are usually well known for that. Judges who really get that, in many cases, will be, at least somehow affiliated with those teams (Involved in some of their projects, worked together before, or just good friends of involved individuals).
This means that however they try, it will be challenging to be completely unbiased.
What is done in your region to handle that issue?


*Disclaimer: I'm not a regional director, or a volunteer coordinator. Just looking for solutions to help FIRST Israel grow.
I'm pretty positive to be a judge for these you have to inform the event of any conflicts of interest, but I may be in wrong in which case that sounds highly inappropriate. Being a friend of a team is more likely though.
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Unread 06-18-2017, 02:21 PM
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Re: Experienced Judges vs Unbiased Judges

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Originally Posted by Akash Rastogi View Post
I'm pretty positive to be a judge for these you have to inform the event of any conflicts of interest, but I may be in wrong in which case that sounds highly inappropriate. Being a friend of a team is more likely though.
Question is, what happens after informing?
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Unread 06-18-2017, 09:32 PM
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Re: Experienced Judges vs Unbiased Judges

Conflict of interest controls apply to all judges, including RCA judges. EI and RAS as well. No need for them to be treated any differently.

Totally agree with the comment about volunteer retention. I know the LA regional has many judges that were experienced when I started 10 years ago and are still there judging.
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Unread 06-18-2017, 10:14 PM
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Re: Experienced Judges vs Unbiased Judges

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Originally Posted by Tottanka View Post
Question is, what happens after informing?
Depends on the JA and the Judge. If possible I've removed myself from the room (in both roles) but often I can get away with simply being quiet and being VERY careful not to let my face show any reaction.


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Originally Posted by rsisk View Post
Conflict of interest controls apply to all judges, including RCA judges. EI and RAS as well. No need for them to be treated any differently.

Totally agree with the comment about volunteer retention. I know the LA regional has many judges that were experienced when I started 10 years ago and are still there judging.
As mentioned above, and as Rich well knows, the CoI form applies to everyone in the judge room. It's taken fairly seriously in my experience.
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Unread 06-18-2017, 10:47 PM
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Re: Experienced Judges vs Unbiased Judges

The big places I'd look, and thoughts:
  1. Local tech workers/engineers/businessfolk
  2. Mentors and Volunteers from other FIRST programs
  3. Mentors from FRC teams not at the event
  4. Alumni from other areas, or older alumni

1. Local tech workers tend to be awesome judges; (I believe) they're the largest population of Judges at Silicon Valley Regional, and while at first they may not have gotten FIRST, they have a good rate of return, and a few of them have even become mentors of teams, after a few years of judging. Bonus points if you get some of the more senior folks at Tech companies, because they may end up sponsoring a team, or event! Basically, their expertise is invaluable, and they should be a significant part of your judge pool. (I know Haifa and Tel Aviv have a lot of tech presence, but I'm not sure about your area. I imagine you could draw folks from both, since it doesn't look absolutely that far to either.)

2. Mentors and Volunteers from FLL and FTC are awesome choices, because they get FIRST, but are usually not affiliated with FRC teams. There's a smaller training cost than random tech workers, but they'll still have to learn the intricacies of FRC. There's a good chance they have expertise relevant to a few awards, and if they judge other programs, they will understand the process super quickly. I suspect most Judge Advisors will try to mix them in with the industry judges, to get both perspectives on each panel.

3. Mentors from other FRC teams may still have affiliation/bias, but it's much less of an issue, and easier to manage, because there obviously aren't any discussions involving their own team. The issue is geography; since you're in a district, with more small events, you may be able to find folks within a reasonable range of more events than the ones their own teams attend. Obviously, most of these judges will only really need to learn the process, which a good JA can do easily. This is a really popular option with offseason events that do judging.

4. And alumni! This may be a bit harder in Israel, since I'm guessing most of your alumni are from the older Israeli teams, and have complex histories, and biases. I'd be careful with anyone who was on an Israeli team in the last 5-6 years, although anyone past college who you really trust to be responsible and mature enough is worth considering. They bring a good perspective, having that closer connection to what the kids are doing, as well as being able to connect with them a bit better. I'd evaluate these folks on a one-off basis, how well you know and trust them, and how they've performed in volunteer roles previously, that require being responsible.
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Unread 06-19-2017, 07:41 AM
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Re: Experienced Judges vs Unbiased Judges

I've always considered having judges who have never seen FRC before to be an essential part of the FIRST program.

A first-time judge can listen to a student talk about some things that we'd consider simple in FIRST, like why they have a drop-center drivetrain, and see what all these students are learning and how awesome the program is.

Sometimes, after 6+ weeks of build and a few competitions, students can forget how remarkable some of the things they've accomplished are, especially relative to their peers who are not involved in FIRST.

Now I'd like there to be experienced judges in the area as well, and avoiding bias is a necessary part of that, but I also want the inexperienced judge in the room talking about how inspired they were when the tiny 9th grader started explaining motor curves or PID tuning to them. That's how you get volunteers to come back and do more - give them a reason to talk to the students about the competition and for the students to talk back.
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Unread 06-19-2017, 03:03 PM
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Re: Experienced Judges vs Unbiased Judges

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Originally Posted by Kevin Leonard View Post
but I also want the inexperienced judge in the room talking about how inspired they were when the tiny 9th grader started explaining motor curves or PID tuning to them. That's how you get volunteers to come back and do more - give them a reason to talk to the students about the competition and for the students to talk back.
The flip side of this is that technical awards can end up being given for features that are utterly standard, simply because whoever was explaining the robot spent some time on them and the judge was not familiar with their ubiquity.

Back in 2008, we (449) won an award for having a potentiometer on our forklift to measure angle. No joke. To make matters worse, the use of the potentiometer in question was a terrible engineering decision that added no useful functionality (we could have done just as well running the forklift open-loop between limit switches) and ended up being a critical failure point that possibly cost us a regional victory and a trip to worlds.
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Unread 06-19-2017, 03:28 PM
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Re: Experienced Judges vs Unbiased Judges

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Originally Posted by Oblarg View Post
The flip side of this is that technical awards can end up being given for features that are utterly standard, simply because whoever was explaining the robot spent some time on them and the judge was not familiar with their ubiquity.
Which is why having all inexperienced judges is a mistake, and including FRC savvy judges in the mix is a good idea.
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Unread 06-19-2017, 04:15 PM
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Re: Experienced Judges vs Unbiased Judges

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Originally Posted by Oblarg View Post
The flip side of this is that technical awards can end up being given for features that are utterly standard, simply because whoever was explaining the robot spent some time on them and the judge was not familiar with their ubiquity.

Back in 2008, we (449) won an award for having a potentiometer on our forklift to measure angle. No joke. To make matters worse, the use of the potentiometer in question was a terrible engineering decision that added no useful functionality (we could have done just as well running the forklift open-loop between limit switches) and ended up being a critical failure point that possibly cost us a regional victory and a trip to worlds.
The judges also receive some technical training on challenges in the game. This alleviates SOME of this issue.
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Unread 06-19-2017, 04:54 PM
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Re: Experienced Judges vs Unbiased Judges

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The flip side of this is that technical awards can end up being given for features that are utterly standard, simply because whoever was explaining the robot spent some time on them and the judge was not familiar with their ubiquity.
...
Poise and clarity while explaining are a large part of the reason that teams win awards.

Referees and inspectors watch the robots to ensure a fair competition, which determines which team is playing the game best.

Judges are not really there to watch robots; they are there to look at the impact that the program has made on teams, and that teams have made toward culture change. The robots are mostly a bunch of McGuffins to them.
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Unread 06-19-2017, 06:31 PM
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Re: Experienced Judges vs Unbiased Judges

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Judges are not really there to watch robots; they are there to look at the impact that the program has made on teams, and that teams have made toward culture change. The robots are mostly a bunch of McGuffins to them.
This is not necessarily a good thing, because detailed explanations of simple and ubiquitous robot components thus may sound just as compelling, if not moreso, to a judge as a high-level explanation of a complex and elegant engineering solution.

Moreover, detailed explanations of simple robot parts are not necessarily indicative of "impact." Often, a truly complicated system simply can't be effectively explained at that level of detail, because there is too much of it - you have limited time to talk to the judges, and discussing the workings of a particular (totally ordinary) sensor in detail probably compromises one's ability to describe what about their robot is actually important, from an engineering standpoint. The students who have learned and done the most may actually spend most of their time talking in terms of abstractions - not because they have not learned/do not understand the intricate details of how the individual components work, but rather because that's the only way to effectively describe a sufficiently complicated system.

Thus, I suspect the incentives here may well end up the wrong way around.
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Unread 06-19-2017, 07:49 PM
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Re: Experienced Judges vs Unbiased Judges

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Originally Posted by Oblarg View Post
This is not necessarily a good thing, because detailed explanations of simple and ubiquitous robot components thus may sound just as compelling, if not moreso, to a judge as a high-level explanation of a complex and elegant engineering solution.

Moreover, detailed explanations of simple robot parts are not necessarily indicative of "impact." Often, a truly complicated system simply can't be effectively explained at that level of detail, because there is too much of it - you have limited time to talk to the judges, and discussing the workings of a particular (totally ordinary) sensor in detail probably compromises one's ability to describe what about their robot is actually important, from an engineering standpoint. The students who have learned and done the most may actually spend most of their time talking in terms of abstractions - not because they have not learned/do not understand the intricate details of how the individual components work, but rather because that's the only way to effectively describe a sufficiently complicated system.

Thus, I suspect the incentives here may well end up the wrong way around.
Often a truly complicated system is the wrong solution.
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