Online Tournament Rules

This page contains a list of rules to handle cases specific to online quizbowl tournaments. These rules supplement the Official PACE Ruleset.

Tossup Recognition: In online tournaments, players buzz in on tossup questions by typing “buzz” in the text chat. Saying “buzz” via voice is not a valid way to buzz in. But a simultaneous text and voice buzz is a good practice to get the moderator attention, especially in Zoom tournaments. Players must be recognized by the moderator before giving an answer. The buzz order the moderator sees is the official order. It may be different than what a player sees on their screen. Players who give an answer without being recognized will be penalized for conferring if they were not truly the first player to buzz on the moderator’s screen.

Alternate Tossup Recognition: Some tournaments may choose to use a separate buzzer app such as for recognizing buzzes. These apps will serve as the “source of truth” for who buzzed in first. The tournament director should make the buzz-in policy clear before the tournament.

Tossup Timing: Players will have 8 seconds to answer a tossup after buzzing in. The timing for tossups going dead does not change. It remains 5 seconds.

Bonus Timing: Teams will have 8 seconds to confer on bonus parts. Tournaments that use bouncebacks should give teams 5 seconds to answer a bounceback. If the team starts the “our” in the phrase “our answer is” within the 8 seconds they will be given an opportunity to complete their answer, so long as they don’t pause.

Withdrawing: Players may not “withdraw” their buzz, e.g., by typing “wd” upon recognition instead of an answer. Any player who is recognized and attempts to withdraw will be considered to have given an incorrect answer. After an incorrect answer, the buzzers are “cleared” and a player on the other team must buzz again if they still wish to answer.

Moderators Failing to Recognize Buzzes: Moderators will make their best effort to see buzzes and stop reading right away. However, it’s common at online tournaments for there to be some delay before this happens.

The official buzz point is when the moderator stopped reading. Consider a tossup like this:

Manne Siegbahn introduced the notation used in spectroscopy based on this radiation, which includes the k alpha transition. ESCA [Player Buzzes] uses this phenomenon to induce the (*) photoelectric effect. Because this radiation has wavelengths on the same scale as interatomic spacing, crystal lattices serve as effective diffraction gratings [Moderator Recognizes Buzz]

Even if a player “knew” the answer at the buzz point after ESCA, they will not be granted power on this question since the moderator didn’t recognize them until after power.

Players should do their best to yell “someone buzzed” if they see this happening.

Moderators Incorrectly Recognizing Someone: If a moderator has determined that they incorrectly recognized the player who buzzed in and the incorrectly recognized player gave an answer, then the tossup will be thrown out and a replacement read that’s open to both teams.

This also applies to situations where the moderator ambiguously recognizes someone. For instance, consider the case where Team A has a player named Mike A. and Team B has a player named Mike B. On a tossup, Mike A buzzes in slightly before Mike B. The moderator only recognizes “Mike.” Mike B then gives an answer. In this case, the tossup will be thrown out. However, if a player not named Mike gives an answer, that will be considered conferring and ruled incorrect.

Giving Answers on Tossups: Players can either say the answer (after unmuting) or type in their answer. When typing out an answer, players must give the full answer. Typing a shorthand like “hf” when the answer is “Huck Finn” is not acceptable.

Spelling: Exact spelling for typed answers is not required. Any plausible spelling that follows the existing rules around vowels and syllables will be accepted.

Giving Answers on Bonuses: For bonuses, teams can either type their answer using ALL CAPS or by saying the phrase “Our Answer Is [Answer]”. Other answers (such as lower case text or other spoken answers without “our answer is”) will be considered conferring and not a directed answer.

Warning: Some potential answers, like NATO, are naturally typed in all caps. Players should take extra care when conferring that they don’t accidentally type these answers in all caps.

Like in an in-person event, what the moderator accepts is not subject to protest.

Equipment Failure and Technical Difficulties: It’s the responsibility of players to immediately let a moderator know if they cannot hear the question. When this happens, moderators should pause and attempt to resolve the issue. Tossups and bonuses that go through the entire cycle without the moderator being alerted of a technical issue will not be replaced. It’s up to the moderator to decide whether to repeat any/all parts of a question a player had difficulty hearing while that question is still being read.

Moderators and tournament directors have the discretion to give up trying to solve a technical issue for player(s) who are having repeated issues. See this troubleshooting guide for tips on fixing issues.

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