Online Tournament Guide
This section of NAQT’s online tournament guide contains specific advice for players at online quiz bowl tournaments.
As with the rest of this guide, this page assumes the tournament is following NAQT’s recommendations for videoconferencing technologies, game format, rule changes, and tournament policies.
Before the Tournament
- Check with your coach to make sure you know the tournament’s requirements, schedule, rules, and policies. Tournament directors may add to, omit, or modify policies in this guide.
- Buy, install, and test any videoconferencing equipment that you will need.
- Download and install the Zoom Client for Meetings (or the appropriate Zoom Mobile App). This is free, and you do not need to make a Zoom account. Do not use the Zoom web client (which has worse audio and video quality and limited features).
- At a convenient time, choose one player on your team to launch a free Zoom meeting and log in together to check each other’s sound quality and Zoom configuration. Make sure everything is working well before the tournament. Signing up for a free Zoom account is required to host (but not to join) this meeting. (Like all free meetings with more than two participants, it will be limited to 40 minutes.)
- Identify a (physical) room that you can have to yourself for the duration of the tournament.
- Arrange with your family and/or roommates for relative quiet in the rest of the building during your upcoming tournament.
- Arrange with your family and/or roommates for them to minimize network use during your upcoming tournament.
Make sure you know…
- how to enable/disable your video feed
- how to mute/unmute your microphone
- whether your audio setup will require you to use “push-to-talk” mode (see below), and if so, how to use it when muted
- how to change your Zoom display name
- Tournaments will use the Zoom videoconferencing platform. You will not need to make a Zoom account to play. There is no separate charge to you (or your school) for using Zoom. (A charge for creating Zoom meetings will be paid by the tournament host.)
- In the context of online tournaments, a game room will be a Zoom meeting that lasts for an entire day of gameplay and has a specific URL.
- Every player needs to be signed in to Zoom under a distinct display name (and to have their own video feed).
- You must use your “usual name” as your Zoom display name. NAQT is intentionally not specifying “legal name”; use the name you generally use at school and at quiz bowl tournaments (and that matches the name used on the tournament registration). In particular, you may not use an alias that obscures your identity.
- You must enable a video feed during the match. This video feed must show your entire face. You may not use Zoom features (including virtual backgrounds) that alter your video feed.
- You must have a working audio feed, as questions and responses will be given orally.
- You must use Zoom’s “push-to-talk” feature if you are not using either (a) a headset or (b) a combination of headphones/earbuds and a (quality) external microphone. If you have one of those setups, you are encouraged to use standard voice triggering for your audio (unless background noise is a problem).
- NAQT strongly recommends that you use a headset to play online quiz bowl. We understand that headsets aren’t free and have no analogue for in-person tournaments, but they offer a significant improvement in the all-important audio quality of a game. Headsets dramatically reduce background noise and feedback.
- No player (or other participant) may record matches (in part or in whole, for any reason).
- In general, the tournament director should distribute schedules indicating which teams will compete in each game room in each round. Tournament directors have various options for distributing these schedules, but make sure you understand how each team will get its schedule (e.g., will it be emailed to your coach and need to be forwarded?). Here is a sample schedule showing what such a document could look like.
- All game rooms will use a “waiting room” so people joining a room are not immediately admitted to the game. The moderator will be in charge of admitting people as they show up. This is partly a security measure and partly to prevent people from “barging into” a room when another game (besides the one the person is trying to enter) is going on.
- A tournament schedule will designate one team in each room as “X” and the other as “Y.” This designation is unrelated to the use of letters to differentiate multiple teams from the same school. For instance, Central C could be the “X” (first) team in its Round 1 game, while Academy A could be the “Y” (second) team in the game.
- If your name is “Riley Doe,” set your Zoom display name to
[X] Riley Doeor
[Y] Riley Doewhen joining a game room (depending on whether your team is “X” or “Y”).
If you are an alternate (i.e., not in the game at the beginning), add
-altto the letter identifying your team and must mute your audio. For example, if your name is “Riley Doe” and you are on the “X” team, set your display name to
[X-alt] Riley Doe. Make sure to update your display name (to add or remove
-alt) whenever you come out of or into the game.
- Upon joining a game, enable your video feed. If you are not using either (a) a headset or (b) headphones and a (quality) external microphone, mute yourself (and plan to use “push-to-talk”). Open the Chat window and set your chat target to “Everybody.” If the game hasn’t yet started, confirm that other participants can hear and see you.
- Games will use BuzzIn.Live to simulate a buzzer system. The moderator will distribute the URL for the BuzzIn room via Zoom Chat. Sign into the BuzzIn room promptly, using the same nickname as your Zoom display name. Be sure to update this when coming out of or into the game.
- NAQT recommends simply opening the BuzzIn.Live room in another window on the computer on which you are using Zoom. You may choose to use your phone (or another mobile device) instead; if you do, that must be the only app running on the device. If you are not using your phone to buzz in, place your phone out of reach and out of sight during the match. In either case, set your phone to “Do Not Disturb” mode.
- Expect to be recognized by name when buzzing in. It is not required that a moderator recognize by name (and you may answer if the BuzzIn room indicates you were the first to buzz), but moderators will recognize by name more often than is typical at in-person tournaments.
- You must have no windows other than the specific Zoom meeting for the game room and BuzzIn.Live visible on your computer during gameplay. Violating this—and, especially, interacting with those windows—can be considered circumstantial evidence of cheating.
- In general, Zoom Chat is not used for gameplay. Your coach may choose to use (public) chat messages to communicate with your team when gameplay is not going on, and Zoom Chat may be used before and after a game.
- You may not communicate with other participants (on any team) during gameplay (in any way—via chat or otherwise).
- Minimize talking during gameplay. Essentially, if you aren’t answering a question, conferring on a bonus, or addressing an unexpected situation, you should not be talking. This especially goes for quick interjections that would barely be noticed in in-person play.
- There are a few rule changes for online play. Make sure you’re familiar with them. They mainly relate to answering bonuses and handling connection issues.
More Things to Know
Please also read…
- NAQT’s policies on handling technical problems during games
- NAQT’s technical and behavioral suggestions for improving the online quiz bowl experience
- NAQT’s comments on cheating and anti-cheating measures in online quiz bowl
NAQT wants to hear about your experience with online quiz bowl—write to email@example.com with suggestions, questions, complaints, or any other comments.