A Word on Reading the Rules

Countdown to Kickoff: T-4 days and some-odd hours. Countdown to random questions about whether CO2 can be used on the robot and such-like items: Add 1 hour to the Kickoff countdown. Maybe.

Something that amazes me every year is how many people ask a question while doing minimal rules-reading. Every, single, year, the official Q&A is filled with “We believe that Rule XXX answers your question. If it does not, please rephrase and ask again”, or similar answers, particularly to questions that are asked multiple times.

And, to be honest, when you’re the person asking a question of that nature, I’m guessing that when you get that sort of answer you probably feel a little bit, er, embarrassed. No matter if it comes from the GDC via QA, or from a random CD member via post or PM, there’s got to be that “I’m an idiot for not looking there” moment.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Folks, if everybody reading this would, on watching the game and field videos, start by reading the game rules, the robot rules, the tournament rules, and maybe a couple other sections as needed, immediately, before asking a single question, I truly think that we can make everybody’s job easier.

You’re also a lot more likely to get a helpful answer if you post something like, “GXX says I can’t do this, but RYY says… and GZZ says… do you guys think there’s a conflict that should be asked about, or am I missing something in the field section?” Why, I hear you ask? Because that shows that you did in fact read the manual, and that you do in fact want the right answer (as opposed to the quick answer, which may not be the same thing). Ever notice how students who drop by the office with questions on their homework get better help if they’ve actually tried it? Same thing applies here.

As a reminder, the encrypted Manual will likely come out this week (if it’s getting released this year–but FIRST knows what happens when they turn all the FIRSTers loose on their servers). I highly recommend downloading that, then downloading the un-encrypted one once practical.

But then remember that the Manual you get (access to) on Saturday will not be the same Manual that you compete with. Updates are traditionally released twice per week. And the aforementioned Q&A will affect some rules and rulings and the contents of the Updates. Ask a team that competed in Week 1 and a later week last year–the rules were slightly different.

And the other thing to remember: Chief Delphi is not an official source. Not even if the Chief Robot Inspector or the Chief Referee answers the question. (They’re both forum members.) “But I heard on Chief Delphi…” has the same weight with the officials at your event as the air you used to speak it. “But the Manual says…” has a much better chance of working–or at least triggering a discussion. (I’m a sucker for that phrase. Some other leadoff phrases will cause me to reach for the Manual to use it…;))

tl;dr: Please, read the current version of the Manual on Saturday, and keep reading it when it updates, all season long.

P.S. Every inspector out there, and probably most of the refs, have these things called “war stories”. Most of the teams “featured” in them didn’t heed the advice above. This isn’t the thread for going into those…unless it gets sidetracked.

If you see a delay in posting the match score, while the Head Referee and FTA discuss a document, there’s a 0% chance it’s a printout of a Chief Delphi discussion.

If you see a student in the question box, and she is talking to the Head Referee, and they are both referring to a document provided by the Head Referee, there’s a 0% chance it’s a printout of a Chief Delphi discussion.

If you see a student in the question box, and she is talking to the Head Referee, and she provides a document to the Head Referee that changes his mind, there’s a 0% chance it’s a printout of a Chief Delphi discussion.

Too long to spotlight, but 0% chance of being untrue. :slight_smile:

Appreciate seeing this out there. It’s one thing I always stress, but I’ve never been able to avoid the questions that come from skimming. The last few years I’ve been part of the group that picks up the KOP, driving us there and back, which puts a limit to my time to read before we get back to the school. Even if I don’t have time to read all the sections I want to before my team starts strategizing, I always make sure to at least cover as much of the Game rules as possible, get clarifications from others, and (like everyone should) go home later and read the heck out of those rules before the meeting the next day.

I feel with how jam-packed the schedule is especially in the first week it isn’t hard to get clarification from team members (at the very least, make it a hunt to find the rule that clarifies the question in mind).

I recommend reading the dictionary too.*

*Yes, Q&A people, I’m still mad.

I really like how FRC handled their Q&A, especially compared to FTC. Letting the users upvote good questions was a great system for reducing duplicate questions (most duplicate questions are common questions, which will usually be highly upvoted). Also letting people search questions (keywords, new, ect) was pretty good.

For those of you who don’t know, FTC made multiple threads for each part of the game (game rules, penalties, robot materials, ect). This made searching through new content extremely tedious, with the only way of seeing that a new answer had been posted was keeping track of how many posts were in each thread, and there were around 10 threads.

I would be so happy if FTC handled their Q&A with the same system as FRC.

…in short be educated on 2018 game and all rules.:slight_smile:

Was this yet another example of your ironic and subtle sense of humor? :slight_smile:

Subtle? Hmm… I may have to make more comments about this then.

Seriously, if the Q&A people are reading this, my advice is simple:

When a team asks a well-worded and thoughtful question seeking clarification for a rule and your response is to condescendingly point them at the dictionary in a hastily worded and not-so-thoughtful response then you haven’t answered the question. Instead of us having to go 3 rounds with you, answer it the first @#@#@#@ing time please. :slight_smile:

To recap Eric:

[li]Before asking a question on CD or the Q&A:[/li][LIST]
[li]Read the rules [/li][li]Search the rules yourself[/li][li]Ask your teammates[/li][li]Search CD (and Q&A after it’s open, and possibly other places)[/li][/ul]
[li]Ask a complete question which:[/li][ul]
[li]Includes details and does not assume we are already in the middle of your thought process[/li][li]Points at the rule(s) and Q&As and such you found that don’t quite seem to answer your question[/li][/ul]
[li]Then, work on something else for a while; don’t obsessively refresh the thread every five seconds.[/li][li]Answers should refer to or quote rules. Historical references should reference rules and possibly Q&As.[/li][li]CD answers are like Wikipedia as a reference. It’s a great way to find out stuff, but the authoritative info is (at best) what the CD posters reference or quote.[/li][/LIST]

It appears you’re still angry, as well.

(OBTW, the subtle part was the misspelling.)

I think he was referring to you mis-spelling “recommend”, though I agree with your point

Off-season CD, seems you’re preaching to the choir. :wink:
I hope you reach all the Chreasters though.

Anyone know what the equivalent word is for them? Build Season Only Forum-er?

Here is my post from last year.


I kinda like yours better, I am not gonna lie.

Any tips on how a team can read the rules effectively?

Asking each team member to read the rules?
Read as a group?
Read the entire manual or just selected portions?
Have a test and nobody moves on until everyone passes the test?
Have a round robin asking each team member to read a rule?

Having your team split into groups and make Jeopardy questions of different sections is good.

I’ve seen teams play mock versions of the game with rolling chairs (push your “robot” to do stuff).

For the points, calculate the theoretical maximum amount of points you can get (as a single team and as an alliance). Not only does this give you a good understanding of the rules of scoring, it can help you see which parts of the challenge give you the most points (fuel vs gears vs hanging).

All of the above.


Depending on the group, some methods may be more effective than others.

The important part is that as many people on the team as possible have read the rules, and can understand what they’re telling you. If you need to act out a penalty-causing action, you need to act out a penalty-causing action…

I personally find reading the rules myself to be the best way to learn them. But everyone learns differently. Someone who is more of an auditory learner won’t do nearly as well just sitting down and reading.

Read as a group?

This can provide a forum for questions and help understanding the rules, but by the same token it can provide a distraction when people are talking about one rule while you’re trying to read another. Additionally, everyone reads at different speeds, so some will finish earlier than others and need to move on to something else.

Read the entire manual or just selected portions?

Yes :slight_smile: I think it’s better to start with selected portions (identify the important stuff first) so you can get going, then go back later and fill in the rest of the details.

Have a test and nobody moves on until everyone passes the test

Good luck with that! We have a rules test for the drive team members and the level of complaints can get pretty high. While you want everyone to understand how the game works, I think it’s important to identify what level of understanding is really required by each person. Some people will need to understand different parts of the rule book to different levels of details.

Have a round robin asking each team member to read a rule?

We’ve done this before, and I personally hate it. No one is paying attention to the person that’s talking, they’re all looking forward to find what they’re supposed to read so they can read through it a couple of times so they don’t stumble when it’s their turn.

For me personally, it comes down to repetition. I’ll read the game and robot rules 3 times this weekend - once Saturday morning while my team is reading them, again (with more focus on details and on everything else in the rule book) Saturday evening after the team meeting is over, and again on Sunday to make sure I didn’t miss anything important. After that, I can generally remember everything needed, and know where to find things quickly if I can’t remember specific details.