So, I posted a question to the Q&A forum in the Rules section. I wanted to post it in this forum:
Using The Game Design Fora Instructions on using the Game Design Fora and a place for posting miscellaneous issues not addressed in other FIRST Robotics Competition fora.
Although even though it says it is a place for posting miscellaneous issues, the forum is locked so you can’t post there…
I posted it last week and still haven’t seen an answer, so I thought I would post here to get opinions.
My question is about the availability of the Q&A forum at events. And what the procedure will be if something on your robot or in your strategy comes into question and it was answered on the Q&A forum. Do we have to bring the Q&A Forum all printed out? Would this be considered as “legal proof” to argue/discuss the issue?
I just don’t want to ask a question, get it clarified by the Q&A forum, then go and design some part which takes that answer into account, only to have it questioned by a judge at the tounament and find out that the Q&A forum doesn’t have jurisdiction there or something…
Unless I’m horribly mistaken, the Q&A forum has the full force of the manual. But since the manual says you can’t access the internet at events (Section 7), you’ll probably have to print off the important parts beforehand. That, or have some good running shoes to get to a nearby Kinkos.
Yes, it’s always advisable to have the “good book” at your side during events. That includes a download of the entire rules manual onto a laptop PC as well as hardcopy. You can do the same to the Q&A forum with a bit of work.
BUT…more importantly, your question asked:
Do we have to bring the Q&A Forum all printed out? Would this be considered as “legal proof” to argue/discuss the issue?
I sincerely doubt that you will have time to pose a lengthy argument after any given match with the judges. Just be sure your robot has been “blessed” prior to your matches. Ask the judges at the weigh-in/size-station if there’s anything particularly quirky that you think might be in violation. Just because it’s answered on the Q&A doesn’t mean that it created an offical rules change either…
Hey, remember that first racing sailboat with the “winged keel” that created such a ruckus? Now they’re as common as McBurgers…
I am not speaking for every inspector, but I had a file (Thanks to Dave F) that listed all of the Q&A responses that were answered up to the start of the event with me, at the inspection table. We were able to answer most questions with the revised rulebook (revised with higlighted changes of the rules affected by the Q&A) which was also on my laptop at the inspection table. If a team had made a design choice or mod based on the Q&A we could find it for them or they could produce a written copy of the question and answer that prompted their decision. Without that documentation, there are other avenues to check including First reps at events. The Q&A is meant to be official answers from First and/or the GDC.
I know that in the past, we have come up against this issue. We always had a printout of the question and answer with anything else we needed for inspection (cost sheet, etc). Sometimes the inspectors questioned our methods, and we showed them the Q&A answer and they accepted it. Other times, they knew the Q&As and we didn’t even need to show them our printout. If you keep cool and work with their questions, they will work with you and you’ll be fine. Just make sure you have that printout, if anything is questionable!
Ditto to what Al S. said. As a lead inspector at Great Lakes and Atlanta I carry the pertinent part of the Q&As. Any disputes can be settled by finding the Q&A revision.
If you even suspect that you might have an issue or a gray spot with a rule… come to the competition prepared with your evidence! Also, disclose, disclose and disclose. If an inspector looks at it and makes a note on the inspection form that a specific item was OKed which later comes into question you will have evidence of disclosure and approval. Insist that the inspector make special notes on the inspection form including the justification for approval. This can save you a lot of grief.
First, let me clarify… I did mean inspectors, not judges. Apologize for the mis-statement.
What everyone has been saying backs up what I was thinking as well. So, I’m happy about that. I just didn’t know if there was an official statement from FIRST that says something like, “The inspectors will have access to the Q&A forum should something arise. Whether that access is on-line or in paper form is up to the venue. The Q&A forum answers supercede the latest release of the game manual”.