Online Tournament Guide
This page of NAQT’s online tournament guide lists a number of suggestions (and repeats some requirements) to improve the experience of online quiz bowl for all participants.
- If gameplay has started and you don’t need to be talking, stay quiet. It’s easy to render a moderator unintelligible in online quiz bowl, forcing a delay and/or a problem for which there is no fair resolution.
- Be on time for every aspect of the tournament. Things will take long enough even if everyone is on time for everything.
- Test your equipment in advance.
- Know how to use fundamental Zoom features.
- If there’s anything you can do to ensure that people in the game are not waiting on you, do that in advance.
- Emphasize to your family and roommates that, short of an emergency, you should not be interrupted during gameplay.
- If you have to quit a tournament early, clearly tell your team, current moderator, coach, chaperone, and the tournament director that you will not be back so they don’t wait for you.
- Use the downloadable Zoom client app (not the Zoom web app). This is actually a requirement, not just a suggestion.
- Buy a headset (or, at the very least, headphones or earbuds). With a headset (and a relatively quiet room), you will be able to use audio-triggered speech, which is more natural (and less prone to lead to unprotestable moderator judgment calls). If you’re using an internal microphone (as opposed to an external one or one built into a headset), you’ll need to use “push-to-talk.” Without headphones or earbuds, you will probably create feedback that makes the game unplayable for everybody else. NAQT recommends that tournament directors not allow players to compete without, at the very least, headphones or earbuds. (And this guide requires that moderators have a headset or headphones/external microphone combination.)
- Wired headsets will give better sound quality than wireless ones. NAQT does not specifically recommend replacing a wireless headset, but if you are buying a new headset, we recommend a wired one.
- Make sure primary (i.e., non-headphone) speakers are not also playing audio.
- Remove all sources of background noise: close windows, turn off fans, etc.
- Ask your family/roommates to have them minimize their background noise during the tournament (and, as noted in a different section, their network usage).
- Silence your phone and other devices (like Alexa) that might activate during a game.
- When you join a game, spend the time before the match actually starts to verify that other participants can clearly hear you. If not, adjust your audio settings in Zoom to see if things can be improved.
- Video processing is a computationally intensive activity. If you have a choice of devices to use, choose the most powerful one. Do not use a phone or a mobile device except as a backup.
- Make sure your camera is capturing your entire face. This is actually a requirement.
- Don’t wear clothes with intricate or finely spaced designs (e.g., narrow stripes or check patterns). These can generate video compression artifacts that can look strange and even appear to move, which is distracting.
- If possible, move light sources so they are in front of you. Light sources behind a person’s head can wash out their image and distract other participants. If you have a window in the room, sit facing it (in the daytime).
- Remove or cover any objects in your room that might provide (or be perceived as providing) help with a question (e.g., maps, globes, periodic tables, etc.)
- Remove or cover anything in the view of your camera that might be distracting or offensive to other participants.
- Make sure you have an Internet connection with upstream and downstream speeds of at least 2.5 megabits per second.
- Close all other applications on your computer that are using network bandwidth or processor time.
- If possible, switch to a wired connection to your router/modem, not a Wi-Fi connection or connection tethered to a cell phone. If you must use a wireless connection, choose a position that is as close as possible to your wireless router.
- Ask your family/roommates to minimize their network usage (and, as mentioned elsewhere, their noise) during the tournament.
- Close all other applications that might pop up windows or otherwise display distracting notifications.
- Minimize all windows other than Zoom and BuzzIn.Live. This is actually a requirement.
- For players, looking at other windows (or, especially, interacting with other devices) during gameplay is widely considered circumstantial evidence of cheating. Avoid the temptation.
If you have other suggestions for small things that participants can do to improve the online quiz bowl experience, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.