Release of Beta Rules? Discussion of the possibility?

In the following thread…

Joe J. suggests the idea of FIRST releasing a set of Beta Rules prior to the contest for review and comment.

After reading through CD and noting alot of the discussion on rule clarifications and confusing issues with the rules, a “Beta Rule” release seems like a great idea. Of course, the trick is how to do it without giving away the game itself. (As a side new, being new to FIRST, I’m really intrigued by the concept of the kick-off and then six-weeks for a build. I really like this aspect and wouldn’t want to a set of Beta Rules to detract for this aspect of FIRST.)

A few options that seem–on the surface at least–feasible are…

a) Interweave prospective rules for next years competition into this years rules. This approach is similar to how national testing organizations such the EIT experiment with new questions for their exams. The idea is that people would chug through the rules and hash out the rules before they really become effective.

The key to such an approach is that folks need to be unaware of which rules are “beta” rules. This constraint would require some cleverness on the FIRST folks, but from what I’ve seen so far, they appear to be quite a rascally group.

b) Another approach would be to release multiple beta rule sets prior to the contest. Only one of the sets would apply to this years contest. The other two sets would be essentially bogus sets.

I had a professor who took this approach on an final exam one year. He’d give a set of 15 problems and tell us that only 5 would appear on the exam. Of course, we work in big groups to solve all 15 problems to make sure we had the proper solutions. He also encouraged us to come see him if we had difficulties. The upside for him was that he didn’t have to make out a key for the exam and the students would hash out any “bugs” in the problems. He would end up with a perfect exam in the end.

The downside was that we knew exactly everything on the exam, but we didn’t know which of the 15.

Anyway, I’d be curious of other thoughts on this issue. I’m really posting this to keep from reading the “Rumor Mill” posts about the contest for this year. I get into those and can’t quit reading! It’s like a tempting box of chocolates. You just know it doesn’t do ya much good, but oooo it tastes sweet!


There are parts of the rule book that could surely have been released early without giving away anything more than the BoM. Communication, The Robot, The Kit, The Tournament, and The Awards sections could have been released and probably clarified with 2 updates by now.

Now watch FIRST give us a perfect set of rules and make me eat my words. Extra ketchup, please!

if the purpose of this is to refine the rules before they are released, then I dont think it a valid goal for this program.

FIRST emulates what real engineering and technology projects are like, including the fact that very often a customer will not convey what they want (the rules/requirements) clearly at the beginning

or they might outright CHANGE their requirements at any point in the project

whether its intentional or not, FIRST has done a good job of mimicking this behaviour - its part of the challenge - its a big part of what engineers have to deal with everyday.