What happened to the FIRST community I call my family?

It’s given that lot of teams and people are frustrated after this season. It started with the Banebots, went to the algorithm of the match listings, ruling of not being able to use tools in the pit, then it was about defense… and we are still going at it. It’s always something new everyday. It has been said before and we are repeating over and over that something needs to be done. There is another thread where there is a moderated discussion about how to improve things that we have dealt with this past season. We have bashed Banebots, FIRST, Teams, GDC, but have any of us take a step back and think that there are over 1300 teams around the world, and not everyone is going to be happy with what is given. There are threads where people posted things saying “It should be done this way,” “or maybe they should handle it this way.” Before posting have you thought about if all those 1300 teams going to be happy with what you came up with? I mean come on, there are only so many active members on Chiefdelphi that come here and read this stuff that we go through. Keep in mind those suggestions only contains ideas, but I have yet to see enough posts where an idea was proposed with “how, when, where, why, who.”

I admire what Dr. Joe and Shane Colton from Team 97 (I know there are many others but I don’t personally talk to all of them) did this past season with the Banebots. They saw a problem and started analyzing until they could come up with a solution for the teams. Lot of teams have benefited after reading the material they have posted on the forum.

It upsets me when I see posts by people in threads discussing incidents that have happened but they weren’t there to witness it themselves. I assume that they pick a “favorite side” and go at it (I am not saying everyone posts like this but structure of some posts makes me believe that).

What happened to the FIRST community I have joined 6 years ago? What happened to the times when we would do anything to help each other? What happened to the times when the opposing alliance would share 10 ft. of #25 chain so the teams can compete in the finals? We all go out there and talk about how great FIRST is, but over here we talk about is what went wrong, how this or that would have been better.

The reason I am starting this thread is because a few months ago, I met this parent at a Lego league tournament, she wanted to know how to get her daughter involved in FIRST. I referred her to the FIRST website, gave her my number, email and also I gave her a link to the Chiefdelphi forums. I received a call from her about 5 hours ago and the first thing that pops up into my mind that she said is “Oh, looks like there were a lot of difficulties to get through this season,” She also pointed out the Banebot bashing as well as the “defense” threads. This parent read the forum for a while, observed and then called me. She is still interested in becoming a mentor and have her daughter join a team.

So, please before you post in any technical threads or any threads that has to do with the reputation of some team/person/company, think twice. When you throw an idea out there, please explain why it is better, how is it better. If you don’t have time to make a long post at that time, come back later and think and then post.

I am very frustrated after getting the phone call from the parent. This is the first time in 6 years, anybody have ever talked to me like this about FIRST. Please stop bashing, help to come up with a solution for the problems we find everyday.

I’m sorry if my post about the shock sensor/inconsistent ramming calls was the final straw. It was more of an entertaining idea than anything. I realize that everyone involved here is human, and I also realize that there is no reason to bash everyone involved.

So here it is: I apologize for any post I may have created bashing anyone/anything. I am willing to love, and that’s what I’ve been trying to do all along.

But something tells me, you aren’t talking to me.

No no… don’t get me wrong. I am not talking to “specific people.” I am talking to the whole community.

This year has been a pretty tough year for teams, I know I saw a lot of problems both first hand and as an outside observer reading here on CD. Problems combined that the stress we normally undergo and the seeming anonymity of the internet often lead to posts that may cross over that line separating Good Idea Land and Bad Idea Land. I would also like to ask anyone to remember to always always always think twice about posting, doubly so when you are upset.

Don’t think of the FIRST family as becoming “dysfunctional” (i.e. spiteful, distrustful, non-communicative) based on some posts in CD.

The fact is that many of us are success-driven and competitive by nature. We want to be at the top of our class, whether it is in school or on the field. Sometimes that desire will affect our better judgment, especially in the heat of the moment. It’s a very difficult test of character to accept without any emotional display that people (drivers, referees, even Banebot designers) make mistakes when we are under the pressure of a “critical” match or fast-approaching ship date.

I think that after the smoke clears from an isolated incident or rash reaction to adversity, we pretty quickly revert to that cooperative and supportive FIRST community that you are proud to call your family.

Ari -
I understand your plea to the community here in Chief Delphi.
I also understand that you asked a parent and future mentor to observe this community and she did.

I’ve been observing our community as well and what I’ve been thinking about for a few months with threads like the Banebots and the algorithm, and student/mentor lead discussions, and the defense thread(s) over the past few days is how unique this situation is.

I agree that we should be respectful in our posts, even when approaching topics from different perspectives and views. What astounds and encourages me, is that this community is made up of students, engineers, teachers, scientists, sponsors, parents, NEMS - all working together at communication, sharing information, working through problems to possible solutions.

We call ourselves community/family. We are. Our kitchen table where we gather is the size of Chief Delphi. We are at the very end of a season and this week, some of the threads are reflecting that. At the same time, other threads are developing that are reflecting our community in a positive light. If you have concerns regarding our poor showing as community, please direct your contact to some of these threads, showing her that yes, we argue and discuss, sometimes heatedly - but we also share history, team work at its best, and compassion. We learn and grow together. We are a community that is constantly changing and evolving. And we can always do better.

I haven’t been around as long as some have, (that should be evident), but I can definitely see some of your points.
The community definitely has changed irrevocably; it has grown exponentially over the years, and grown more and more competitive.
I think part of the changes you see with that are the growing competition. With so many teams, teams want to make themselves noticeable in the global community, and I think they may resort to less conventional methods of doing that. They think less and less about the community as a whole, and more of their team’s advancement (sort of like what David said).

I really don’t see how we can ‘find a solution’ to these problems, as much as encourage forum members to think about what they are posting, and crack down on bashing.

Or we can strengthen this wonderful community that I call my family as well. As others have echoed in other threads, the intimacy we had in earlier years is no longer there. But now we have a new thing on our side: universality. We still have our FIRST friends…but they grow more and more numerous with each year…and I can only see them continuing to grow.

You can’t have 1,300 teams, 40+ regionals etc without problems and people complaining.

Sure there are problems, sure the alliance program with duplicates was bad, sure the banebots were bad.

But FIRST is like life and what it will be like in industry. It is made up of people and problems. I think overall the attitudes at FIRST are fantastic. Problems are small, FIRST works at both keeping the problems down and attitudes up.

This all starts with you an individual and as a team. It is all our responsibility to work on the problems and attitudes.


I couldn’t agree with you more. It’s hard to tell what the root cause is, but i have to give us as FIRSTers the benefit f the doubt. I think a lot of the frustration stems from the magnitude of the problems this year (there didn’t seem to be many problems with the KOP transmissions from 05 or 06, and the randomizer was better in the past in many peoples minds). A lot of the frustration, though, is also perpetuated by us as users of CD and members of teams.

I always try to teach students that this isn’t about the robot. They have a hard time believing me most of the time, but they get it (at least i think they do), and they try to resolve their frustrations rather than turning them into a big deal.

The best thing for us to do IMO is to start with ourselves, our teams and our sister teams (see the thread out about the “Sweet Challenge”) and be the change.

I won’t see another season of FRC until 2010, and i hope FIRST will still be what i grew up loving. I’m confident it will, and i know that we can all do our part to help out.

Every time a big problem was expressed on Chief Delphi, the problem was fixed, or explained.

Just some food for thought.

I don’t know what it was, but it seemed that everyone was in a worse ‘mood’ this season. The championship ‘could be improved’ thread is full of people saying it was not all that great, some saying it was the worst one for years. The drillpress-banning thread was full of people saying it was the last straw or that they are steadily getting more fed up with FIRST.

I’m curious if the root cause is that people are less enthused about something this year in general, that is making them gripe more. Maybe this winter was particularely cold or snowy (it sure was in the waterloo area). Maybe funding was harder to come by due to some cyclical downturn which made the whole build period more stressful.

If your entire season was consumed by being cold, snowed-in, and worrying about how you were going to pay for all of this, FIRST making a questionable ruling or your banebots motor breaking on top of it all will hit a lot harder.

------ More likely idea: -------
Another possibility is that this year there was just a spike of odd or poorly-received rulings by FIRST. If you think about it, every year there will be a few ill-received rulings or problems with the KOP, and the number and severity of these unhappy events will vary by year. Some years there will be 10 critically unhappy events, some years there’ll be 2 trivial ones. We may have just been unlucky enough to have had a spike year, and next year it’ll return to normal.

I’m almost convinced its just this year. Almost everyone I know has been having problems since New Years, both in and out of FIRST.

I so wanted to include that in my post. You read my mind.

I agree with what has been said so far. People have seemed to me to be in a “bad mood” all season this year. Yet I only find this to be the case on these forums. I myself have disagreed with some rules and problems that have arose, and I tried my best to not show anger during posts. But I did notice that the regionals that went to people were exactly the same as two years ago ( last time I went) showing me that although we may type bad things, we were just as excited to play the game as any other year. and anyone who made comments about “getting fed up” and alike, it did not show during competition time. FIRST is just like everything else, problems will happen, thankfully the majority of us always have/will act in a very positive manner.

Being someone who made some poor choices of words manu years ago on these boards, has taught me and other teamates in check. When we see a problem, we hash it out, usually agree on a best course of action, and go from there. Never has that solution been to come on the boards and comment on every single thread…

On the mentor side, you have people from teams who remember “the good 'ol days”. A time and place they wish to return to. This season was different from previous years, and next year will be too. FIRST as a whole is expanding quickly, and bickering until threads are closed, feelings are hurt, and friends become enemies will not help at all. It only takes one person to make a team look horrible ( I speak from personal experience ) on the outside no matter how many good people you have in your organization.

Humans resist change, and we will resist change. There is no controling that. What can be controlled, is how we all handle the changes.

Stay classy Chief Delphi



That is exactly what i have been thinking lately. I couldn’t figure out a proper way to post my thoughts upon why somehow change could be a minor result in the diffrence this year from previous. i still have no clue. My guess goes out to change, not everyone likes it including myself.

First, I’d like to say that I agree with you, Arefin…

I would also like to say that there are many discernible reasons for the spike of ill-meant threads and posts.

Most predominantly of which, is human nature. When you design your robot around something which you expect to be a solid, well-engineered piece of equipment (as is implied by it being in the KOP)… and that object ends up failing; the first human reaction is to be angry. To be upset because something beyond your control caused you to seemingly fail. Few people’s first reaction is to solve the problem… and that is one of the many facts of life. I look up to and strive to attain the level of maturity it takes to look at a (seemingly) gigantic problem, and immediately begin trying to formulate an answer; but when you have people under the age of Thirty frequently posting, you can expect to see a little immaturity. That, and just the idea of six hard weeks of building can be enough to bring anyone to a state of constant annoyance.

Another reason that has not been looked upon in a full light, is the fact that first is now over 1300 teams strong. With this great increase in recognition and inspiration, there comes a large increase in some not-so pleasant things as well. Namely an increase in the number of teams that have to lose. Thirteen hundred teams compete, and only three complete that long road to victory. When more teams lose, there will be more complaints.

Oy, a reason that I know is on a lot of peoples’ minds, but I’m not going to go into in this particular post, is that maybe FIRST (The organization) is giving FIRST (The developed Community) more to complain about this year.

A reason that I find myself just noticing this year, is the lack of solid representations from non-“elite” teams. ChiefDelphi is a home for the more successful teams in FIRST. There are exceptions to this rule (and I’ll be the first to admit that 306 is one such exception), but predominantly… The only robots I see represented are the ones that make me drool. Now, There is absolutely nothing wrong with being an elite team, and I have in fact been inspired by quite a few of them. My only point here is that when you have a discussion between the most involved people in FIRST, It is only to be expected that you will get involved discussions and answers. Answers that include all aspects of a situation, even the bad. The fact that you have posts that are wrought with hard feelings, numerous problems, and few solutions is just a reflection upon real life.

When a community gets as large as FIRST is, it will increase uniformly… There will be just as much increase in the unpleasant as there is in the pleasant. Any trend on ChiefDelphi of there being more good than bad can only be attributed to outstanding moderation.

-Cody C

NOTE: As with all posts, some of you will like what you’ve read, and some of you will not. There have been no strategically placed smilies to lighten the mood of the post, only opinions. It is out of my hands now. I’d ask that you respond responsibly.

Im sorry for my post earlier this week bashing 1732

You guys must have been a great team to be ranked #1

While there have been a number of threads where critical opinions have been posted, do you really believe that it is terribly different from just a few years ago? I’ve been a member of the ChiefDelphi forums for 3 years, and lurked for about 1 year previous to that. I don’t think the frequency of critical posts has risen all that much. There have always been complaints about certain calls, rules, and team actions. There always will be.

There is nothing wrong with pointing out problems that need to be addressed, and I think you would agree with me on that. Suggestions about how things should be improved are needed in order to maintain the functionality of the FIRST organization. I don’t believe every complaint needs to be accompanied by a perfect solution to the problem. Are you saying that if a team has trouble with their Banebots transmission, they have no right to complain because they can’t come up with a solution to the problem by themselves? I doubt it. I think your (and my) main beef is with the uninformed, insulting, and destructive posts.

It upsets me too. But I think the ratio of good posts to bad posts is not as high as you seem to think it is. Arefin, have you ever been a member/avid lurker on any other forums on the internet? I have, and believe me - the quality of posts here (in terms of respect, appropriateness, etc) is much higher than what you see most everywhere else. I’m not saying we should stop trying to reduce the number of bad posts, but I don’t think the ChiefDelphi community is in any state of crisis either!

Again, I don’t believe this aspect of FIRST has diminished at all. I have not seen a drop in the willingness of teams to share their resources. Likewise, I have not really seen a disproportionate increase in the number of critical threads for this time of year (as opposed to March/April of previous years). I think you are perceiving an increase only because this is competition season (so naturally the topics of conversation are going to be about the venues, the referees, the plays, etc.).

This is a forum - a means of exchanging ideas! The purpose here isn’t to pat ourselves on the backs and proclaim how wonderful we are in every thread! It’s human nature to focus on the negatives - just look at the news headlines. People want to discuss the problems so that they can be solved or prevented. That us why ChiefDelphi exists - to discuss and solve the problems we encounter, so that we can improve ourselves and our community.

I agree that people should wait until they have gathered all of the perspectives/evidence available before they post. However, I must reiterate that I still believe the quality of posting here is quite good. If you reread the thread about Curie semifinals, you will find a large number of well thought out posts and only a small number of posts that were in poor taste. Yes, the bad posts are still there, but I don’t think there is a whole lot more that we can do about it. We are never going to be able to eliminate them completely - that shouldn’t be our goal. Our goal should be to continue encouraging people to make informed, respectful posts (and we have been doing a good job).

I wouldn’t be too concerned about the reaction of the parent. ChiefDelphi is not meant to explain to outsiders/newcomers what FIRST is all about. That is what the official FIRST website is for. ChiefDelphi is about what goes on behind the scenes - and therefore is the perfect place to discuss problems and voice complaints. Perhaps you should not have referred her to this site if you felt that reading controversial FIRST topics would have discouraged her from becoming involved in the program.

I think most complaints here are voiced in a reasonable manner. For example, in the thread about what could have been better about championships, I don’t think I saw a single post that was disrespectful or rude. I think it’s perfectly ok to talk about the negatives. I don’t think it’s ok to stifle potential criticisms. Just because something is a complaint doesn’t mean it’s automatically rude. How is FIRST expected to ever make things better for us if we don’t allow ourselves to bring it up out of fear? **If anything, I think the real problem on ChiefDelphi is how quickly many members judge something as “un-GP” - just because it’s not directly praising FIRST. **Something is very wrong when people are put down for calling out FIRST on it’s mistakes. FIRST isn’t a totalitarian dictatorship… is it?

Actually, I think much of the reason why FIRST has “messed up” so many times this year is the lack of differing (and perhaps critical) perspectives within the organization. When I saw Paul Copioli at the social in Atlanta, he said something to Tytus which I thought was very profound. He said that part of the reason why FIRST was having trouble was the fact that it has no competition (i.e. for a better product). Everyone is so focused on patting ourselves on the back that we get a little bit removed from reality (and other, better options out there). We **NEED **to keep fresh ideas and perspectives flowing in. We can’t be afraid to critique the existing system. If we don’t, how will it ever get better? If we aren’t allowed to speak our minds, how is FIRST any different from being a close-minded clique?


I have tried to keep distant from many of the issues on CD, but observed the same thing as Tom: the people involved in these situations were smart enough to keep their composure, and work towards a solution or explanation even when surrounded by people unable to remain calm and collected.

It takes a certain type of person to recognize a problem, bring it to light, and fix it. In the end, people who are able to hold their heads above the fray are the most well respected and liked in their respective communities. This is what FIRST is about in many situations, and perhaps some people have forgotten this and now that the season is over, will be able to step back and reflect on things. We can’t fault anyone for a momentary lapse in posting harsh words or making a complaint about a system if they prove they are not being insolent and that they have a legitimate reason for their actions. I respect the people on ChiefDelphi who have maintained this mantra throughout the season, and been able to clearly and effectively communicate their thoughts, and solve problems.

There really isn’t anything wrong with the growth we are seeing here, and the level or type of discussion being posted here, its just a natural process. We merely need to keep an eye out for both ourselves and others to stay within reasonable bounds, and make sure that cooler heads prevail when the last person takes their say. I don’t mean this post as a shot or insult to anyone, but merely as a general observation of the current activity. Many issues have been resolved, or explained, and I commend the people involved in that.