Lesson Learned 2016 - The Negative

If there’s one thing I hate the most in FRC, it’s the website.
I mean, they’ve clearly tried to make it newbie-friendly, but at the same time, they’ve completely messed up routines for the thousands of people already involved in FIRST.

That, and they need an official FRC forum browser on the site itself, instead of the current 3rd-party forum system.

Yeah, that’s terrible. I wish we could do something like pre-register for Einstein seating or something. There are only so many good seats, and so many people…but if we were more efficient about it, I feel like we’d get a better solution for everyone

I’m gonna give a quick shoutout to team 329. They booked it up to Einstein after doing a great job in Tesla, but then when we needed seats for Einstein, they were nice enough move over a few rows and give us the seats we needed to make it work. I’m not sure I really said thank you enough, so if anyone on 329 is reading this, all of 1648 is really grateful.

Better PR, clearer and more consistent communication, and just overall less ambiguity. Those are my big three.

FIRST also needs to make some rules about interpersonal interactions. Specifically, not being a jerk to people.

I agree to some extent but I don’t think people can unanimously agree on what is being a jerk and what isn’t. It sounds like a more person-to-person issue that should be resolved as such.

Fix the explanation of the bumper rules.

Add an illustration that clearly shows how the dimension of the side of a robot is determined. When explaining to teams, I had to explain how the length of a robot side is determined by FRAME PERIMETER (flip pages to that explanation) then go back to BUMPER RULES to show how a side > 8in must have 8in of bumpers on each corner, BACKED BY PART OF THE FRAME at each end.

One picture of a robot with 6in frame segments with an opening between them (the most common problem I saw) and describing it as NOT LEGAL would have gone a long way to resolve a lot of bumper issues.

I found that the pit announcer got increasingly annoying. He would repeatedly advise individual people to stop running but every time he did, I would cease conversation with my team and await the end of the announcement because it was just too loud. Furthermore, the announcer wasn’t kind at all. He was usually mad about people not following the rules or not completely filling out a form and that attitude usually carried out throughout the rest of the day. Also, when he would say, “Who loves zipties? Yell zipties!” I understand how he was trying to “hype up” the people in the pit but he didn’t approach it at the right angle, it was unfortunately just annoying.

Note: I’m not saying this announcer is bad, he may of just had a bad couple of days or something, I’m simply suggesting that the announcing needs a new approach.

I’m sure there’s a minimum subset of things we could all agree on. Like not harassing people and calling them cheaters, or not cat calling folks. Something along the lines of “try to treat people as if your grandmother were watching”


I thought the opposite and thought it was the best pit announcer I’ve ever heard. Usually they’re so bland that after 3 days I don’t listen anymore, but I found myself still listening even Friday afternoon. Never had a pit announcer make me laugh before - 'You! No Running! You in the Green Shirt! You’re still going! Stop! I can still see you doing it!" Pure gold.

  • The game piece (boulders) was ridiculously expensive and changed quite a bit after moderate use. 2006 poof balls remain the best foam game piece we have been given.

  • This was a really onerous field to build at home.

  • Refs had a tough job this year, just as in 2014. There were many missed calls and missed crossings, and lots of judgement calls around physical contact. All season, we had opponents keeping >6 balls in their driver station, and there were never enough refs to check behind the glass more than once a match.

  • No parity whatsoever in division or match schedule strength at the Championship.

  • FIRST’s website is worse now than it was a year ago this time.

  • The Championship is too long and drawn out. It is asking too much for teams to wake up at 5-6 AM and leave the venue at 7-8 PM for 4 days in a row. There’s a reason why half the mentors and students on my team have gotten sick after returning several years running.

  • It would have been nice to have wooden goals scattered throughout the divisions, since dialing in shooters seemed to be the most common use-case for the (centralized) practice fields.

  • I thought the scoring display was really confusing all season long.

  • I did not think that the 8 division Einstein format was great this year. I would have loved to see 4 alliances that were deeper/stronger instead.

  • This was the last unified FIRST World Championship :mad:

This. Totally agree. Honestly could not believe what I was hearing with most of the music selections. Most were songs I like, but not appropriate for this setting, especially Sweet Dreams for the Inspire Award winners.

Saturday is so drawn out, especially for teams who are travelling home after the event.

Would love to see integration of the major awards before or during Einstein matches. Seems like such an after thought.

Yes, please, very much. We had to make modifications to be event compliant at multiple events this year, including World Championships after passing inspection because different inspectors had different standards. The rhinos made this especially challenging due to their irregular shape.

This makes me very sad and disappointed. It is the antithesis of FIRST values. Our team had a run in over seats last year at Worlds. Forutunately it did not happen this year anywhere. Just let people sit with you. You might make a new friend, especially if they are new to robotics. In fact, our team has found it’s fun to invite waiting bus drivers (ours and other team’s) to sit with us. Most of them have never seen FRC before.

This a whole bunch! Stronghold is a beautiful game to watch but it puts a huge amount of additional demands on teams which go well beyond the STEM mission in order to properly prepare for competition. I can only imagine the difficulties thinly resourced teams had this year in preparing.

Similar to this, I would have liked a one-stop time/place schedule at Worlds for each of FLL, FTC, and FRC separately. It took a bit of searching around to put Wednesday’s day 0 schedule together for us, such as figuring out the 1-4pm 5 person pit load-in restriction and field measurement times. We frequently had trouble answering simple questions for our team members regarding the schedule such as where and when should our team migrate. It’s a good thing we have volunteer friends. If such a schedule exists, it was impossible to find.

Please no more attempts at creating parity in match schedule strength. I can’t take another Scheduling Algorithm of Death…

Sadly, people need more direction than this. On the other hand, comic conventions seem to do fairly well with their anti-harassment policies, and there’s typical much higher potential for harassment there. I think FIRST could learn a lot from how other conventions handle these things, if they’re willing to. Which is to if people make enough noise about it.

They used to interleave the awards with the Einstein matches, but all the speeching and etc. seemed to make things take even longer. I think the real problem is just how big Champs has gotten.

I have an idea, we could…

runs and hides

One of the things I found particularly annoying is a couple of times I went to pit admin to ask a question I was told to “download the app”.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I certainly don’t have the room or time to download an app I’ll only be using for four days. Having the information available in other places would be very helpful next year.

It was also terrible.

Especially for the scouters and I that try very hard to get good seats in the morning, I can attest to this. Not sure how to solve it though. I’m very happy that they got rid of opening only one door in the morning and went to opening all of them before letting people in. This allowed us to wake up a bit later in order to get good seats. I have to say it’s still probably the closest thing to a Black Friday zombie breakthrough than anything I’ve ever been a part of. Perhaps assigned team seating is the solution to this?

Another idea I had is even though the split is happening, have 8 fields on the field still and just have two per division in order to speed up the flow of matches and maybe make qualifications last a shorter amount of time.

It was odd to be playing a naval aviation themed song for the Air Force during her introduction for opening ceremonies.
I’m sure only the Air Force personnel noticed the service rivalry.

Eh. It’s not the best, but did you try the app last year? I think it was a huge improvement, unlike the navigation on the website.

This still pisses me off, and will continue to do so until such a time that FIRST goes back to a single event. I want to rant about this, but I’ll leave it alone for now.

This. I have had something similar to this happen at a regional event. I have had parents who have driven 2.5 hours to attend a regional to support their child only to have adults from another team get ugly about seats. Most of the time these are not FIRST team mentors they are parents there to watch their kids play too. Maybe that’s our problem, we aren’t educating our parents on the application of gracious professionalism in the stands at competition…it seems like I hear ‘Blue alliance’, ‘Red alliance’, less and less. :frowning:

Now to :deadhorse:

The FIRST web-site…I do not like it in any way shape or form. The search function is so bad I refuse to use it anymore. Heck, even getting to TIMS to log in is a chore.