I mean, well, assuming they’re humans, some volunteers absolutely have bad intent as their nature, and assuming you’ve ever met or interacted with humans, you already know that. I don’t think it’s even close to a plurality much less a majority, and most volunteers have only good intent, but some people take any iota of power and use it as a cudgel, for whatever reason that blackens their tiny little heart–and while it would be wonderful if FIRST as an organization was an exception, that pretty much can’t be the case, and the place where that kind of behavior has the most direct impact on teams is when that petty tyrant is a Robot Inspector.
This discussion was unintentionally started by a well-intentioned and passionate RI announcing publicly (and apparently without any indication of how what he was saying would sit with a whole honkin’ lot of people) how he will be out to get a team in regards to a particular unwise but easily-made-legal robot design, and the conversation was continued by a bunch of people who have had negative experiences with the robot inspection process, and with Robot Inspectors either having bad intent or acting in a manner indistinguishable from having bad intent.
The distinction between those things might matter to some people, but it’s utterly irrelevant to me, and it’s utterly irrelevant to teams impacted by it. I don’t care one whit whether or not any given RI thinks they’re the hero of their own story, or if they’re going out of their way to make high school kids feel bad and quit FIRST, or if they’re just generally clueless as to how their behavior is negatively impacting people, or anything in-between or outside those parameters. What’s going on inside their heads is no more relevant than it is knowable–which is to say, not at all.
That dude who got banned from FIRST for repeatedly sabotaging Einstein ostensibly did so because people wouldn’t listen to him about a security flaw in the FMS and he wanted to show them unequivocally how right he was–that’s his story, anyway. And, well, even if that’s true, that guy was an [insert words that will get automatically converted to asterisks here] who deserved to get banned from FIRST even if to this day he genuinely believes that he was the hero of the story who was only trying to change things for the better. And likewise, any KV who acts as a petty tyrant should be shunted out of their volunteer role for the good of the program, regardless of whether or not they think they have justification for acting like a petty tyrant.
…and in the meantime, well-intentioned KVs who, regardless of motive or intent, aren’t being petty tyrants but regardless act in a manner that has an undue negative impact on teams should be made aware of and then explicitly trained out of those behaviors, and removed from their positions if they refuse to adapt to the needs of the kids whose lives FIRST serves. FIRST as an organization should be consistently and constantly adapting and evolving to make sure that their volunteers are 100% focused on maximizing participant experience. With the time and money and time and passion and time and dedication and time that kids put into this program, they deserve the best experience possible when they go to compete. How anyone feels about themselves as they negatively impact that experience is just about the last consideration anyone seeking reform should pay the vaguest attention to.
So while it’s an unjustified ad hominem to accuse Libby or anyone else of stating or implying that any given RI (or RIs in general, or a small subset of RIs, or some KVs, or all KVs) have bad intent, even if you’re right (and you’re not), the KV’s intent is moot. Bad outcomes from good intent is just as bad as bad outcomes from bad intent, and we owe it to kids to minimize or eliminate those bad outcomes. What’s in the heart of people causing undue bad outcomes for teams is utterly irrelevant when it comes to addressing the problems with the process causing those undue bad outcomes.
So let’s not muddy those waters.