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Automated Debate Tournaments

RoyLatham
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5/24/2011 12:16:53 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
I think debate tournaments have a lot of potential because they facilitate getting player of equal ability to face off. However, in practice they seem to drag on forever as people ignore the rules and miss deadlines. What I'm suggesting here is that tournament software be integrated into the site. This would automate the dog work of sign ups and pairings. It would automatically assign topics when debaters fail to agree on a topic, and it would enforce a rigid schedule with the impartial single-mindedness that computers do best.

Of course, what I'm describing is only a suggestion. Juggle has to decide if programming it is worth the effort. Comments from members are solicited on my suggestions both to improve the idea and to gauge enthusiasm.

What I have is a rough software specification. It begins here and continues in another post on this thread. You have to be more than a little nerdy to enjoy reading software specs, but it is for a good cause.

==============================

Proposed Specification for DDO Tournament Software Rev. 0.2 - Roy Latham

Two new items will appear under the Debates tab of the DDO main menu:

Start a Tournament

Participate in a Tournament

1. Starting a Tournament

The Start a Tournament item will bring up a form requiring the Tournament Director, i.e., whoever is starting it up to specify the details of the tournament.

1.1 Only DDO members who have completed 15 debates may start a Tournament.

1.2 The member enters his DDO ID as the initiator. He is the Tournament Director.

1.3 The name of the proposed tournament.

1.4 The minimum number of participants is specified. If the minimum is not achieved by the start date, the tournament is automatically canceled. The least number of required participants is eight.

1.5 The maximum number of participants is specified. The default maximum is unlimited.

1.6 The start date of the tournament is specified. The default is two weeks from the date of initiation.

1.7 The minimum participant qualifications are specified as (a) minimum number of debates completed or (b) minimum number of debates won or © minimum DDO rank or (d) if DDO implements Elo ratings, that minimum. Any combination of (a) … (d) may be required. The default for each item is 0.

1.8 The maximum participant qualifications allowed in the tournament are specified in a combination of the (a) … (d) above. The default for each is unlimited. Specifying a maximums is designed to tailor tournaments to new or less experienced members.

1.9 Whether the tournament is single elimination or double elimination.

1.10 Whether participants are seeded by DDO rank or are unseeded. Seeded means the highest raked players are initially matched with the lowest ranked, Unseeded means pairings are random.

1.11 The topic selection period is specified. The default is three days. At the start of the topic selection period, an e-mail message is sent to each debater saying. "Your opponent in the current round of the <Tournament name> Tournament is <member name>. You have <selection period> days to agree upon a resolution and who will be Pro or Con. If no resolution is specified, a resolution will be generated at according to tournament rules." To specify debate resolutions, Pro will enter the resolution on a form under the Participate in a Tournament menu entry. The automatic topic generation method is given in 3. below.

1.12 The case preparation period is specified. The default is three days. The Pro participant must post his challenge to Con within the time specified. If no case is posted, Con wins by forfeit and advances to the next round of the tournament.

1.13 If Con forfeits on the first round, Pro advances to the next round of the tournament.

1.14 The voting rules for the tournament are specified by the Tournament Director, either (a) conventional voting by all DDO members determines the tournament winner, (b) only voting by tournament participants counts to determine tournament advancement using the seven point system, or {c} the number of tournament participants voting a win for each side is counted. The default method is (b).

1.15 All tournament participants will be able to vote in tournament debates, regardless of whether they have general voting rights on DDO. The Director is responsible for ensuring that all tournament rules are met by tournament participants.

1.16 The voting period for each debate is specified. The minimum is one week and the maximum is four weeks. The default is one week.

1.17 The tournament director specifies by text any special rules for the tournament. The standard DDO terms of membership are required. Examples of special rules might be the debate style, such as LD or Policy or video debates as described by the Director. Participants must agree to follow the special rules when joining the tournament, and to abide by the Director's decision as to whether rules were violated. Each debate in the tournament must be certified by the Director as "Rules Compliant" or which side is in violation.

1.18 All tournament debates are three rounds of 8000 characters.

1.19 The start dates for rounds after the first are computed automatically by <tournament start> + <round number> x (<topic selection period> + <case preparation period> + 15 days + <voting period>). With the defaults, a 16-person tournament would complete in about four months.

1.20 If the number of participants in a tournament is not a power of two, participants that cannot be matched against opponents in any round are advanced to the next round automatically.

1.21 The Director may cancel a tournament any time before it starts, but not after it starts.

1.22 Only the votes by all DDO members will be used in the DDO leader board rankings. However, forfeits in a tournament first round, canceling the debate, will be counted as DDO leader board losses. Wins by forfeit will not be counted as Leader Board wins.

2. Participating in a Tournament

2.1 The Participate menu will have Join and Update options.

2.2 The Join option will List the names of the Tournaments, the Director of each, and whether an inquiring member is qualified to join.

2.3 Clicking on any Tournament will show the start date, who has signed up so far, and the options and special rules selected by the Director.

2.4 Non-member and non-qualified members are able to see the Tournament details and status information, but are not able to join.

2.5 Those joining must allow PM by the Director as a condition. The site will automatically enable PM to the participant from the Director for the duration of the tournament.

2.6 The Update option will provide a list of all the tournaments that have started and are not completed.

2.7 Clicking on a tournament in the update list will produce a list of pairings for the current round. The round number is given, During the topic selection period, Pro in each pair may enter the debate resolution agreed to for the next round of the debate. Links to debates that are ongoing or in the voting period shall be provided.

2.8 In double elimination tournaments, the two brackets will be displayed with the winner bracket above the loser bracket.

2.9 Past round results will be displayed using < and > buttons next to the round number. Completed rounds will show the match ups, the resolution, a link to the debate, and the winner. The > button disappears for the current round.
jharry
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5/24/2011 12:20:23 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
This looks great. The 15 required debates, would you suggest a go around if a member showed excepitional skills?
In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen
RoyLatham
Posts: 4,488
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5/24/2011 12:24:49 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
Continuation of Spec for Automated Tournaments

3. Site algorithms and notifications


3.1 The Topic Selection Algorithm assigns a debate resolution whenever the topic selection period ends without debaters agreeing to a topic.

The Director may select one of the following methods for assigning resolutions:

3.1.1 BIG Issue selection

The software scans the the BIG Issues from the profiles of both members.

If it finds one or more issues upon which the players disagree, it randomly selects one of those issues, selecting <issue name>. It then creates a resolution "<issue name> is affirmed." and uses that as the debate topic. Whoever was Pro on that issue must then issue a challenge to Con during the case preparation period.

If the software finds no issue of mutual disagreement, it looks for an issue that one member or the other has affirmed and the other is undecided, randomly selects one such issue, and sets the resolution accordingly.

If there are no affirmed issues, then one of the issues is picked randomly and assigned randomly to one of the members to affirm.

3.1.2 Default topic selection


The director enters three resolutions to serve as the default topics for R1. R2. And R3. These are shown at sign up. In each of those rounds, failure to agree results in the default topic being assigned with the Pro side also randomly assigned. In late rounds, failure to agree recycles the list so R4 uses the R1 topic, R5 uses the R2 topic, and so forth.

3.2 Each participant will be notified three days in advance of the start of each round in the tournament.

3.3 Each participant will be notified at the start of each round of who he will be debating in each round.

3.4 All participants in a tournament will be notified of tournament debates entering the voting period.

3.5 Everyone who signed up for a tournament is notified if it is canceled.

3.6 The Director may send messages to all participants in his tournament. A messaging option will appear when the Director accesses the Join or Participate option, depending on the status of the tournament.
bluesteel
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5/24/2011 12:35:07 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 5/24/2011 12:28:48 AM, Johnicle wrote:
The biggest problem with online debate tournaments is judging... How do you propose fixing that?

There could be an option to require tournament participants to judge all the debates of fellow participants (or assign them a set number of debates to judge, if the tournament was really big). The software would automatically eliminate someone (as if they had lost a debate) for not meeting the judging requirements before the next "round" starts.
You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into - Jonathan Swift (paraphrase)
Johnicle
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5/24/2011 12:44:49 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 5/24/2011 12:35:07 AM, bluesteel wrote:

There could be an option to require tournament participants to judge all the debates of fellow participants (or assign them a set number of debates to judge, if the tournament was really big). The software would automatically eliminate someone (as if they had lost a debate) for not meeting the judging requirements before the next "round" starts.

Problems:

1) It places incentive upon competitors to award the win to the worse opponent.

2) It allows bias to enter into the tournament.

3) Way too much work burden on the competitors.

4) It would make tournaments bigger than 8 people almost inconceivable.

Don't get me wrong... I've been the biggest advocate for a tournament system on this site, but this is a realistic hurdle.

A few options I've thought of:

1) Anonymous judging... In other words, every debate in the tournament won't be available to the public until the debate has been judged. When the judges renders their decision, they will not know who is on which side. I THINK THIS SHOULD BE IMPLEMENTED IN ANY TOURNAMENT SYSTEM.

2) Economic System... A value is placed each round that needs to be judged. For example, if 8 people participate in a single-elimination tournament, 7 rounds will need to be judged. Assuming they are judged by only one person, 7 total decisions will need to be compensated for. Provide a value for it and divide it amongst the 8 competitors.

People could either pay in to compete in tournaments, or earn the amount by judging for other tournaments. I think it would be in the sites best interest to give a starting amount to every member of the site who has a minimum amount of debates.
Thaddeus
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5/24/2011 9:38:21 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 5/24/2011 9:28:46 AM, Rockylightning wrote:
@JUGGLE!!!

Do THIS AND WE WILL LEAVE U ALONE FOREVER!!!

He's lying! We promise we won't leave the site if you do this. =P
Ore_Ele
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5/24/2011 9:42:21 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 5/24/2011 9:28:46 AM, Rockylightning wrote:
@JUGGLE!!!

Do THIS AND WE WILL LEAVE U ALONE FOREVER!!!

No, we won't. lol.
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Danielle
Posts: 21,330
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5/24/2011 9:59:18 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 5/24/2011 12:44:49 AM, Johnicle wrote:
Problems:

Great points; I was thinking along similar lines.

A competent member could theoretically run a tournament in the same fashion of Roy's proposals, though in my experience the #1 problem is that people don't meet deadlines. There is always someone going out of town, or studying for a final, etc. and that's unfair to other people who DO meet the deadlines. The automated system would basically ensure fairness, though again a personal mod could do that... they just don't.

Also, I did have a really good team tournament idea :P So if Juggle implements this then maybe they can try that next ;)
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Cliff.Stamp
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5/24/2011 10:35:00 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 5/24/2011 9:59:18 AM, Danielle wrote:

A competent member could theoretically run a tournament in the same fashion of Roy's proposals, though in my experience the #1 problem is that people don't meet deadlines.

The problem is that the organizer does not enforce the deadlines, all that the computer is doing is making the tournament run with strict adherence to the guidelines. From a programming perspective considering it is a non-trivial amount of work, if you want to actually have Juggle take this seriously then show that tournaments run in this fashion would actually be used. Right now it is being advocated as a feature when it has been actually implemented on the forums maybe 1-2 times to completion over th course of several years. That is not much of an incentive to undertake a significant rewrite of the software.
RoyLatham
Posts: 4,488
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5/24/2011 1:43:32 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 5/24/2011 12:28:48 AM, Johnicle wrote:
The biggest problem with online debate tournaments is judging... How do you propose fixing that?

That is covered in

"1.14 The voting rules for the tournament are specified by the Tournament Director, either (a) conventional voting by all DDO members determines the tournament winner, (b) only voting by tournament participants counts to determine tournament advancement using the seven point system, or {c} the number of tournament participants voting a win for each side is counted. The default method is (b)." Also, tournament participants are allowed to vote, even if they can't vote on other debates.

I think restricting to tournament participants (b) is as good as it's going to get. Tournament participants face the social pressure from their fellow participants to be fair, and they also have to worry about future tournaments. Vote bombers tend not to be debate participants in the first place.

The individual debater can also be aware of what it takes to sway voters. Affirming "Daoism should be made the official religion of the United States" faces an uphill climb no mater what. Losers of such debates tend to blame blatant voter prejudice.

There are quite a few controversial topics, like the death penalty and the border fence, that are very close to an even split of opinion among site members, so prefer one of those topics if you are concerned about voter bias.
RoyLatham
Posts: 4,488
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5/24/2011 1:55:39 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 5/24/2011 12:44:49 AM, Johnicle wrote:
At 5/24/2011 12:35:07 AM, bluesteel wrote:

There could be an option to require tournament participants to judge all the debates of fellow participants (or assign them a set number of debates to judge, if the tournament was really big). The software would automatically eliminate someone (as if they had lost a debate) for not meeting the judging requirements before the next "round" starts.

Problems:

1) It places incentive upon competitors to award the win to the worse opponent. ...

I agree that requiring everyone in the tournament to vote won't work. It's too much work and will lead to voting by debaters who barely read the debate.

A few options I've thought of:

1) Anonymous judging... In other words, every debate in the tournament won't be available to the public until the debate has been judged. When the judges renders their decision, they will not know who is on which side. I THINK THIS SHOULD BE IMPLEMENTED IN ANY TOURNAMENT SYSTEM.

I don't think that would work. The tournament participants would have to be secret, the debates kept off profiles, etc. Besides, it at best only treats bias of voting for friends, and tournament participant will tell friends what debates they are in. It doesn't treat bias for ideology.

2) Economic System... A value is placed each round that needs to be judged. For example, if 8 people participate in a single-elimination tournament, 7 rounds will need to be judged. Assuming they are judged by only one person, 7 total decisions will need to be compensated for. Provide a value for it and divide it amongst the 8 competitors.

That favors ideological fervor and is too complicated.

People could either pay in to compete in tournaments, or earn the amount by judging for other tournaments. I think it would be in the sites best interest to give a starting amount to every member of the site who has a minimum amount of debates.

People have fun playing lots of games that require judging without having expert judges. For debate, I think it is better if your arguments are clear enough to appeal to non-experts. Debate includes the ability to communicate, and that can be judged.
RoyLatham
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10/31/2011 1:20:51 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 10/30/2011 10:59:08 PM, F-16_Fighting_Falcon wrote:
We really should try this out. It seems very interesting. What happened?

I understand Innomen forwarded the idea to juggle, but nothing happened. I thought maybe writing the spec would be the hard part, so I did that.

It's too much work for a tournament organizer to rigidly apply the rules manually. None of the three tournaments I've participated in went to completion. After a few rounds, they vanish. Still, it's good to get even a few good debates. People try to do a good job for tournament debates.
Microsuck
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7/10/2012 10:06:17 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
Bumb.

It's been a year and I greatly support this system. I think that we as the DDO community should decide ifwewant thissystem inplay.
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Man-is-good
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7/10/2012 10:07:13 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 7/10/2012 10:06:17 PM, Microsuck wrote:
Bumb.

It's been a year and I greatly support this system. I think that we as the DDO community should decide ifwewant thissystem inplay.

I think a reintroduction rather than simply bumping the thread would allow the community to express their opinions of it better, IMO.
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Wallstreetatheist
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7/11/2012 1:03:49 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
Roy is awesome. It wouldn't be that difficult to integrate this functionality into the site.
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Johnicle
Posts: 888
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7/11/2012 1:35:14 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
The tournaments merely have to be site run. The "automated system" is meh because too many members would create tournaments which would cause a lot of turnover. What needs to happen is that the site needs to promote a rather specific number of annual tournaments year round (EG: One tournament each month and one tournament (probably during the summer) that is the Championship). That way it increases excitement via anticipation, ambition, and reputation decreasing turnover.

But again the two big problems are judging and relying on debaters to start the debates (all the debates should start simultaneously otherwise it takes over a week for both round 1's to get posted).

Finally, as I've said so many times before, this would substantially increase member retention and moreover increase member attraction to the site. There is a huge market of competitive debaters that do not stay on this site very long because it doesn't cater to their desires. A good tournament system would change that.