Does anyone have experience of pit admin utilizing chat systems, specifically Discord (or WhatsApp or Telegram or…), to open another channel of communication with event participants / teams to communicate announcements and provide assistance? What is your opinion on such a system, were it to be implemented (unofficially) during events, along with the MC / Pit microphone announcements?
(Has this be done before? a general search in CD came up with no results)
First post of mine in CD since 2009(!), things have changed quite a bit here.
I’ve been volunteering for FRC as referee and pit admin at various competitions since 2012, mostly in Israel’s late regionals and recent districts and DCMP.
Every year, the quality of service and performance of the pit admin at the Israeli districts improves, using lessons taken from previous years.
One example of improvement was the minimization of pit admin announcements. We were lucky to be given enough willing volunteers from the FRC teams’ student members to take on the roles of what we call “runners”, people who work with the match queuing team and “run” (walk!) around the pits to call in teams to queue up for their upcoming match ahead of schedule. This took down the need to call up specific teams on the pit microphone to queue up when they were missing from the queue to the field. That type of announcement was tagged as optional, not mandatory. From thereon out, the pit would allow announcing matches to be queued. After seeing that the “runners” were efficient in helping teams to queue up to their matches, it was deemed unnecessary to announce anything related to matches whatsoever. Eventually, the progress with handling announcements and pit admin operations brought to the eventuality of the microphone being taken away from the pit admin at districts, but left optional for the pit admin crew to announce things at the DCMP when necessary.
The biggest reason why the microphone was taken away was because there were many complaints from event participants in the pits where either the announcements were not clearly heard through the speakers in the pit or the speakers would be become deafening for teams at the pits situated next to them. (Also, taking out the speakers reduced some spacing issues for the event production team when setting up district events)
So the situation now is that most teams are aware of their schedules at the events and they help each other with tool requests. Lost & found remains under the pit admin’s responsibility. Registration and award scheduling is still done at the pit admin table (IMO, still not optimized for best QoS for all teams, each rushing to schedule for their own best interests).
Team members periodically come to the pit admin table to ask about event schedule to see if there are any changes.
With the above mentioned, I would like to propose utilizing group chat services, specifically Discord, to provide pit announcements and support to teams during events this year. The idea is to do the following:
- Announcements will be posted in a read-only channel.
- Relevant MC announcements will be followed up with a post in that group conveying the announcement.
- hourly/ semi-hourly reminders of upcoming schedule will be posted.
- Callouts for teams in regards to award interviews / registration will be posted when the schedule is about to come up.
- Team representatives can register in a general chat channel to be placed in a dedicated channel for direct and open communication among the pit admin and other team representatives for Q&A, requests and more, monitored by the pit admin crew.
- A channel can be opened for CSA-related topics (I think it’ll be less likely to be supported by the CSA team).
Writing this, I can see how this suggestion may lead to a compromise to some of the physical presence role of the pit admin, but I believe it’s unlikely to be compromised, FIRST wouldn’t let that happen.
I’d love to hear the community’s opinions and experiences on the matter.