Are Queuers necessary?

Lunacy was without a doubt an example of a perfect FRC game. Each night that I go to sleep, I dream of a game just as amazing as it being a game in a future season. Lunacy gave us a glimpse of some truly beautiful gameplay that is unmatched to any other game ever. Anybody who disagrees is simply incorrect :star_struck:

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Because it seems to be all I do… I suggest you look at it from different perspectives.

What value do queuers bring to you?

What value do queuers bring to field staff?

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I have never run into this phrase before. Having one’s Poop Grouped is my new favorite thing that I will begin saying. Thank you

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There was no queuing at MSC this year or announcements. Just a screen with current match being played. There was folks in the arena putting teams into correct alliance stations but nothing to get them to the arena. I thought it worked well for what it was.

“Well then get your poop grouped, get it all grouped and put it in a back pack, all your poop, so it’s grouped.”
[pause]
“And if you gotta take it some where, take it somewhere, you know, take it to the poop store and sell it, or put it in the poop museum. I don’t care what you do, you just gotta get it grouped.”

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Okay.

Credentials up front: I’ve lead queued and queued a bunch of times and been to 36 FRC events (out of 87 FIRST events) over the years. I’ve also trained a bunch of lead queuers and developed the lead queuing tool.

Queuers are an essential part of the competition, but often undervalued. For background, there are a few roles within a queueing team:

Pit Queuers
These are the folks that walk around the pits telling teams when it’s time to queue for their match.

"Gatekeeper"/Check In (often but not always the Lead Queuer)
The person(s) standing at the entrance of the field area, checking off teams as they arrive, pointing them in the direction they’re supposed to be.

Field side queuers
Helping orchestrate the movement of robots on and off the field. These are the people who will tell you at 30 seconds to start moving towards the field, expedite the loading/unloading of driver stations, guide teams to travel in the correct direction, etc.

The team size can vary, and not all positions are essential. Some of these roles can be combined. Not having pit queuers is acceptable for an event and can run just fine. Many teams like when queuers come to their pit, but it’s an added bonus when volunteer pools allow for it.

Not having a gatekeeper, though, leads to significant confusion. Teams show up without knowing where to go pretty often which can cause all kinds of issues by the field.

Not having at least one or two people field-side creates the potential for delays. Poor queuing is sometimes the cause of delays (though rarely) but successful queuing is often a factor in making up lost time.

Some things queuers do that you may not know about:

  • Making sure teams in the first three matches of each day know before they leave the venue
  • Determining the traffic plan for the event
  • Filling practice matches with robots
  • Taping directional arrows and queuing boxes around the venue
  • Doing everything possible to help teams realize they might miss a match
  • Advocating for teams on the way to their matches so they don’t miss a match
  • Answering what bumper color the team is
  • Answering what alliance station the team is
  • Answering which alliance station is which
  • Answering what match is currently playing
  • Directing students to the appropriate field area volunteers to answer their questions
  • Collecting and sorting teams for alliance selection
  • Keeping track of a bracket during eliminations to help teams who don’t know understand when they need to return and which alliance they’ll be on
  • Directing frantic students where to submit timeout coupons
  • Directing frantic students where to ask for a backup robot
  • Ensuring periodically that the path between the pits and the field is free of any (solvable) hazards
  • Ensuring robots and people don’t crash

And that’s just the stuff in the job responsibility. Experienced queuers do a lot of other work in conjunction with field area key volunteers in the planning of match flow, help inform them of who’s playing in practice matches, and more. They’re the de facto information center for the field area and often the eyes and ears for the field staff as to what’s going on elsewhere in the venue.

I don’t say this is a Lead Queuer that’s trying to overstate the importance of the role. Rather, I’m saying that I no longer have the self respect to do roles in which I feel my time isn’t being well spent or I’m not being utilized to my potential, and I still Lead Queue – so that should tell you about my experience in this role.

Tl;dr – Queuers are responsible for the successful flow of teams to/from matches and on/off the field. Eliminating them is foolish and I’m confident that you’d see some events struggling and other events where field reset and other volunteers have to step in to accomplish the same duties.

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I and the other pit announcers did this at FIN DCMP. I for one would’ve appreciated this as a student (maybe it’s something that is part of the fuzzy details of my memory) and even more as a volunteer/mentor nowadays. Admittedly, since we were such a small event (or at least small with respect to my past events), teams’ asked to queue two matches out could’ve just been leaving the field from there last match and for that, I’d appreciate any and all input for anyone whose competed at mid 20 - 30 team events on anything that’s worked queuing reminder/announcement-wise.

While it wasn’t a monitor, we updated a scoreboard, the sports kind, with the current match # being played under “Home” and the “latest” (ie two matches out) match # being queued under “Guest”. I think a monitor would’ve made the point even more clear in tandem with pit announcements and hope it’s something that can be expanded to other events.

Without honestly either of the above, I could honestly see myself stumbling as pit announcer if any team did come up asking me what current match was running/which matches were in queue, particularly with a venue that did have the field separate from where the pits were located (at least far enough I couldn’t hear the matches). I’d probably be fumbling with TBA (stream with a delay if I’m lucky) trying to double check which match is live scoring at the moment and even then, it’s ±1 match and I’d feel bad giving the wrong info.

This reply has run a bit long, especially after Jared’s post, but if anyone has feedback on what has worked and what’s not, and even a fix/better approach to what’s not (worked), for queuing and I guess queuing-adjacent volunteer roles, I’d be interested to hear and hopefully incorporate them if and when I volunteer in any of those roles next.

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While this topic is more broad, a specific instance of queueing not going how it should was hashed out earlier in the year in this thread: Petition to stop telling teams “on the field before opening ceremonies”

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Isn’t that the definition of queuing? That’s what it was back when I did it.

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Coyotes group their poop and keep it close to home. Not recommended for non-coyotes.

Back on topic: queuing is necessary. It even has its own branch of mathematics. So queuers are necessary; however, their job functions must evolve as experience guides and technology advances. These are core concepts that apply to all of our jobs. I don’t expect the young engineers I mentor to do their jobs the same way that I did (in the Stone Age 20th century), but I do expect them to learn and use the same principles.

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Teams: Getting all the drive teams in the same qual match alliance together (in the right spot and on time) facilitates better strategy discussions. And obviously reduces the chance of missing a match. But really, that’s the teams’ job and Queuers are just there to direct and sequence movements. Ideally, timing for that process should be a team responsibility also, but good Queuers can help when other communications fail. As others have said, there really needs to be an app for that.

Volunteers: FTAs and the entire field crews they oversee ABSOLUTELY HATE to bypass a team. Good queuing work by teams and Queuers minimizes that risk.

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Quoted for emphasis.

I don’t have major beef with the existence of pit queuers, but if you’re already in the stressful situation of attempting a major fix/modification/improvement/etc. between matches, being told “you have to get to the field now” when there are still 2+ matches before yours doesn’t tend to help the situation. What it does lead to is mentors telling students “just ignore them, it’s not true, we have at least 5 more minutes to attach/fix [thing]”, and telling our students to ignore volunteers is not an ideal practice in my mind.

In my opinion, advising pit queuers to enter their team interaction assuming the team is making a good faith effort to get to the field ASAP alleviates most issues here. If the interaction went like: “you have 3 matches before yours, which is at most a guaranteed [7.5 minutes of match time + some minimum match turnover estimate], please get to the field as soon as you can” instead of “you need to head to the field and queue now” it would go a long way to reducing any strife. I think a team’s response to that statement would be pretty telling of whether they are making a good faith effort to get to the field, or if more drastic steps need to be taken like calling on an FTA or Robot Inspector in an attempt to get them match-ready.

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This, so much this.

I loved at Ontario DCMP this year that there were no Pit Queuers (not any year that I can recall actually…). Only pit announcers. Unfortunately though, my liking of this stems directly from bad experiences at every local event I attend with regards to Pit Queuers.

Having someone come up and going “hey, you’ve got 3 matches until your next match, do you think you’ll be ready?” is fine. But having volunteers prematurely saying you NEED to move to the field NOW is down right annoying. And if I tell you we’re going to be close to making it because my students and I are currently fixing a major issue/failure, please don’t take that as invitation to walk over every 2-3 minutes after with a new volunteer asking if we’ll be on time to our match. All you’re doing is slowing us down while we explain our situation again to a new volunteer. And if I choose to not explain myself as to why we’re gonna be cutting things close for time, and on the 4th or 5th volunteer get a little short because I’m once again spending precious time repeating myself, now I’m the bad guy.

Unfortunately though, I’ve come to accept that this is something that will never change (been in this program for 10+ years now). I agree with sentiments above, it really sucks that I feel my best option is to resort to telling my students to ignore (or at least not take at face value) the information a volunteer is providing them.

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Nobody should be telling you that you need to move at 5 matches out. I hope this is hyperbole. The standard queuing is one team on the field and two waiting (e.g. as soon as QM1 starts loading on, QM2 and QM3 should be queued). Nobody should even be suggesting you move at 5, let alone requiring it. Nobody should require that you move at all and the closest you should get is a staunch warning that if you don’t move you may miss your match (and that should only be said when it’s actually the case).

Anyone experiencing something too far off from that should talk to the Lead Queuer. And if the Lead Queuer is the problem, talk to the FTA, RD, or event manager about it. Lots of volunteers operate in the dark – that’s to say there isn’t as much oversight as would be ideal. Those in charge often don’t know what’s happening in real time unless it’s reported to them.

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Apologies, I thought about it again and it was at DCMP we were being que’d 5 matches ahead of our scheduled match. So while there were no pit quer’s chasing us down (thankfully), we still had to learn to ignore the pit announcer and check ourselves what match they were on before determining we needed to head to the field.

I’ve revised my previous post.

i had to do a hard double take as just woke up and saw that like
we are in for a spicy thread. then i read the context and went oh nvm just blind still spicy but not as much

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A lot of these needs that teams have can be solved by giving teams more copies of the match schedule and making it more accessible at events. Wi-Fi or cell service is not universally accessible at events for teams to have it in their pocket.

Giving teams three copies (Pit, Stands, Drive Team) would go a long way.

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Unless you are at Carver …

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The easy solution to the wifi/data problem is to take pictures of the match schedule, then everyone can have a copy. It’s also pretty easy to make a poster or whiteboard for the pit area.

That said, it’s shocking how many teams arrive to the field, schedule in hand, with the wrong bumpers. Even more teams don’t remember their driver station number. I get it – walking to the field right before a match when you’re potentially running late or fixing an issue is stressful. Sure, a human doesn’t NEED to do all of this, but it would certainly be more chaotic without one.

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Honestly the restaurant buzzer for queuing is my favorite idea and would solve 99% of my frustrations with the current queuing system.

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