Online Tournament Guide
There are two fundamental aspects of online tournaments that underpin much of the advice of this guide. All participants should keep these two things in mind:
The single most important factor to the competitive legitimacy and overall educational value of online quiz bowl is audio quality.
Unlike most videoconferencing scenarios, participants need to be able to understand every word, and much of the content cannot be repeated to correct problems. Players must be able to hear every word of a complex, rapid question, and moderators must be able to discern slight variations in responses to properly judge them. As a result, every participant should do all they can to improve their own audio quality. Concrete suggestions for doing so are made elsewhere in this guide. Some of these suggestions cost money and some take time; we strongly urge participants to obtain the funds and make the necessary efforts to follow them. In aggregate, these suggestions make a significant difference in the quality of the game.
Online quiz bowl games take more time than in-person ones.
When playing online, it will take more time to play the same number of questions. The effect can be reduced (but not eliminated) with moderator and player experience, strong preparations, dedicated scorekeepers, and other measures, but every participant should plan on games taking longer. As a very rough estimate, a standard-length game with completely new players and staff would likely take twice as long as the same game played in-person. Games with experienced players and experienced staff might take 30% to 40% longer. Every tournament director should take this into account when planning. Tournaments must provide fewer rounds, start earlier, run later, be spread over multiple days, skip lunch, shorten games (e.g., play 16 tossup-bonus cycles or play tossups only), or otherwise find a way to account for this additional length.
(This page doesn’t mention some other critically important things (e.g., “Nobody cheats”) because it is focused on issues unique to online tournaments.)
If you are new to NAQT’s online tournament guide, we recommend moving on to our overview of how online games will work.