Proposal Activity Wins, Specifically in Team Tournaments

On the back of the joke I made yesterday in the SPL thread, this is something that has been bugging me for some time. We in the TD Channel have been discussing it back and forth for a little while, but I think that this is a subject that the community should be able to comment on as well.

Personally I think that our current setup for activity is a bit bogus and needs to be more clearly defined. As things stand, the system gives incentive to lie to avoid community backlash in situations where the chorus of players deem the activity inappropriate. While I personally have never had an activity problem (I have lost to activity, but never once contested an act loss) I think that the current rules assume a flexibility of schedule that's completely silly.

Right now we sort of seem to use these "common sense" activity guidelines that are not well written nor very public. I'll use a personal example of what I think was a pretty unfair activity situation for me in an individual a few years ago but many users would have attacked me if I took the win:

In Smogon Classic II Top 16 I was paired against denisssss. At the time I worked a pretty rough schedule as I had recently moved to California and was doing heavy work in my career. Denis and I scheduled for Sunday night which was fine for me, the weekdays were what proved to be problematic. After missing the scheduled time by about a half hour, Denis came online and we played the first game of the series. He subsequently went AFK for another 20 minutes or so, and then came back and said he had to postpone the rest of the series. I was given until Wednesday to complete the series.

Now, I was able to be online after work Mon-Weds. However, from my point of view, it was completely unfair to have to play this - at the time I was working literally in the middle of the desert and would come home completely exhausted and feeling like garbage. I wasn't going to call activity, so I acquiesced to play, but just as I had expected I felt like shit during the games (which is why I specifically had scheduled for when I did). I don't think this was a fair situation for me, really, but if I had attempted to take an activity win the backlash would be absurd.

In order to protect players from similar situations I believe we should codify our rules better to avoid these situations.

In team tournaments the situation is similar. Right now, it behooves a manager to force their player to lie if they have an adverse situation in which they actually log onto the computer. If your Discord goes green, no matter the circumstance, you will be bombarded with messages to play. I know that even when I'm out with friends and drinking and doing whatever I'll instinctively click the Discord app - am I obliged to play at 1AM blacked out if my opponent missed the time prior?

I'll stop rambling at this point and sum it up:

I understand that making stricter activity rules will be unpopular. I understand that the "common sense" crowd will want nothing more than to "get games done". From a player perspective and from a fan of Pokemon perspective I feel exactly the same. But in my role as Tournament Director I think the more we leave to discretion the sloppier and more inconsistent our tournaments will be. In turn, I think it is best to have a discussion with no mud slinging about what appropriate activity currently is, could be, and should be. By codifying this we will lift the burden from the player and get rid of the incentive to lie, hide and dodge if we take it out of the players hands - something I think is incredibly unhealthy for our tournaments (team tournaments in particular).
 
For reference, I am planning on hosting Smogon Grand Prix later this year. I have been working on my own scheduling and activity rules to reduce the ability for me to be partial to certain players and the stress on active players. Here is a general idea of the rules I have worked on so far:

1) Contact must be made between Player X and Player Y within 24 hours of the round being posted. This includes an initial VM and a response VM.
2) Player X (the first contact) must provide the following: their time zone, (at least) three separate (specific) hours of availability (non-subsequent). Player Y must respond with the same information.
2a) Player X and Player Y must specifically agree to a primary time (earlier in the week) and a backup time (if possible, later in the week). The agreement must absolutely, specifically acknowledge the time.
3) If no time is agreeable, the manager of the team is to contact the host to intervene. The host has an obligation to respond to the intervention request within 12 hours.
4) The active Player must be on SmogTours server at exactly the time agreed upon. The active Player is obligated to highlight, either in Smogon Tournaments Discord or SmogTours, the opponent and opponent's team or manager. The active Player is obligated to post immediately at the scheduled time on his opponent's VM wall indicating that he is present on SmogTours.
5) The active Player must be online on an easily identifiable alt.
6) Should the Inactive Player not appear for 15 minutes following the scheduled time, the Active Player is obligated to document (via screenshots) his Activity.
7) At this juncture the game will not be honored should it fall past the Backup Time.

For example:

If Player X and Player Y agree to play on Wednesday, 5PM EST with a backup of Friday, 6PM EST the situation will play out as follows.

Player X and Y both come to the realization that they cannot play Wednesday for whatever reason.
On Friday, Player X logs on at notifies his opponent's appropriately that he is ready at 6PM EST.
Player Y is not available, and does not come online.
Player X documents, at 615 PM EST, his online status. This is saved and provided to his manager (or to the tour host in the case of individuals).
Player Y shows up at 645 PM EST. Player Y requests to play the game at this point.
--> Player X does not play: This is an activity win for Player X
--> Player X does play: This game is not honored and is still an activity win for Player X

The above proposal can obviously be ironed out better, and the time limits and minute limits are more generic variables than anything. But what I prefer, and what I will enforce, in SGP are rules with this in mind. Subjectivity is limited, and Player X is not ever forced into a situation where he has his manager telling him to take a win (and hide) vs SmogTours telling him to play. If the game will not be honored by the host/TDs then there is no reason to play other than for fun.

Additionally I will be implementing a rule such that only managers are allowed to vie for activity, reducing the strategy of "post enough to pressure".

Please let me know any thoughts.
 
For reference, I am planning on hosting Smogon Grand Prix later this year. I have been working on my own scheduling and activity rules to reduce the ability for me to be partial to certain players and the stress on active players. Here is a general idea of the rules I have worked on so far:

1) Contact must be made between Player X and Player Y within 24 hours of the round being posted. This includes an initial VM and a response VM.
2) Player X (the first contact) must provide the following: their time zone, (at least) three separate (specific) hours of availability (non-subsequent). Player Y must respond with the same information.
2a) Player X and Player Y must specifically agree to a primary time (earlier in the week) and a backup time (if possible, later in the week). The agreement must absolutely, specifically acknowledge the time.
3) If no time is agreeable, the manager of the team is to contact the host to intervene. The host has an obligation to respond to the intervention request within 12 hours.
4) The active Player must be on SmogTours server at exactly the time agreed upon. The active Player is obligated to highlight, either in Smogon Tournaments Discord or SmogTours, the opponent and opponent's team or manager. The active Player is obligated to post immediately at the scheduled time on his opponent's VM wall indicating that he is present on SmogTours.
5) The active Player must be online on an easily identifiable alt.
6) Should the Inactive Player not appear for 15 minutes following the scheduled time, the Active Player is obligated to document (via screenshots) his Activity.
7) At this juncture the game will not be honored should it fall past the Backup Time.

For example:

If Player X and Player Y agree to play on Wednesday, 5PM EST with a backup of Friday, 6PM EST the situation will play out as follows.

Player X and Y both come to the realization that they cannot play Wednesday for whatever reason.
On Friday, Player X logs on at notifies his opponent's appropriately that he is ready at 6PM EST.
Player Y is not available, and does not come online.
Player X documents, at 615 PM EST, his online status. This is saved and provided to his manager (or to the tour host in the case of individuals).
Player Y shows up at 645 PM EST. Player Y requests to play the game at this point.
--> Player X does not play: This is an activity win for Player X
--> Player X does play: This game is not honored and is still an activity win for Player X

The above proposal can obviously be ironed out better, and the time limits and minute limits are more generic variables than anything. But what I prefer, and what I will enforce, in SGP are rules with this in mind. Subjectivity is limited, and Player X is not ever forced into a situation where he has his manager telling him to take a win (and hide) vs SmogTours telling him to play. If the game will not be honored by the host/TDs then there is no reason to play other than for fun.

Additionally I will be implementing a rule such that only managers are allowed to vie for activity, reducing the strategy of "post enough to pressure".

Please let me know any thoughts.
One issue I somewhat have is that I’ve had several occasions, in team tours and out, that I would rather play the match even after the scheduled time rather than take the activity win. I know there’s a lot of pressure to win in team tours, and maybe I’d feel differently in a trophy tour, but when I join a tour its because I want to play pokemon against good players bringing their A game, and I’d rather not miss it just because their train ended up running late. The way this goes, I wouldnt even have the option of playing them because it wouldnt be counted either way. I realize this isnt an easy thing to fix, since allowing it sometimes still leaves that same pressure from smogtours and opposing players, but I wanted to get it out there as a potential issue.

The other thing I wanted to bring up is “What if player A misses the primary time, and then B misses the secondary time?” Yes, B couldnt make the backup, but it wouldnt have mattered if A had been available earlier. Why would having better availability later in the week be prized over earlier availability?

Finally, a question: How strict would the 24 hour thing be? I’m sure I’m not unique in having something important come up in the evening to the point that after I’m done its just too late at night for me to schedule times I’m confident Ill actually be able to make once I look at them the next day. Is this a hard and fast rule, and as players we should be freeing a time in our schedule each day to make sure we can get it done, or is this a more common sense rule?
 
One issue I somewhat have is that I’ve had several occasions, in team tours and out, that I would rather play the match even after the scheduled time rather than take the activity win. I know there’s a lot of pressure to win in team tours, and maybe I’d feel differently in a trophy tour, but when I join a tour its because I want to play pokemon against good players bringing their A game, and I’d rather not miss it just because their train ended up running late. The way this goes, I wouldnt even have the option of playing them because it wouldnt be counted either way. I realize this isnt an easy thing to fix, since allowing it sometimes still leaves that same pressure from smogtours and opposing players, but I wanted to get it out there as a potential issue.
You are perfectly allowed to play for fun, but I personally don't think (as an administrator) that those games should be honored. Allowing you to have that option also opens you up to the crowd jeering and booing. If we as the TDs shoulder the burden of this then players are never forced to make a decision or choose something - nobody can be derided for taking / asking for an activity win because it was never in their choice anyway. If we allow you to still choose then, in all situations, you will be attacked if you take the win.


The other thing I wanted to bring up is “What if player A misses the primary time, and then B misses the secondary time?” Yes, B couldnt make the backup, but it wouldnt have mattered if A had been available earlier. Why would having better availability later in the week be prized over earlier availability?
Bear in mind this can all be fleshed out a bit more. If both players each miss one of the scheduled times I would consider that a dead game or a coinflip.

Finally, a question: How strict would the 24 hour thing be? I’m sure I’m not unique in having something important come up in the evening to the point that after I’m done its just too late at night for me to schedule times I’m confident Ill actually be able to make once I look at them the next day. Is this a hard and fast rule, and as players we should be freeing a time in our schedule each day to make sure we can get it done, or is this a more common sense rule?
It doesn't need to be strict. Again, these are variables, it is the concept that is more important that the individual numbers right now.
 

Isa

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requesting clarification. the headline mentions "specifically team tournaments" and then talks mostly about individual tournaments and how new guidelines would be employed there. would they be global or not? i confused grand prix and grand slam. apologies

what effect do you think these rules will have on the player base? will these more detailed and restrictive rules actually be followed? for a quick idea, i looked over the VMs between cryos and ruiners from last week's spl 6 and only half of the matchups even had VMs to begin with, with only two or so actually following the proper protocol.

what's the planned protocol for what'll happen if the proposed guidelines aren't followed by the competitors, for example if a back up time isn't scheduled?

do you believe that there will be an increase in activity wins if your current suggestion is put into use?

do you believe that mandating users to commit to two time slots on separate days will cause issues when time zone gaps are present (see US West vs, Europe or Oceania vs. anyone)?

do you believe that mandating users to reserve two time slots on separate days accurately represents how big of a commitment playing on smogon is?


i am all for clarifying guidelines and thoughts but i believe the current proposal is a step in the wrong direction. i do not believe the current system requires any major changes and if anything should be updated to include things such as discord PMs.
 
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what effect do you think these rules will have on the player base? will these more detailed and restrictive rules actually be followed? for a quick idea, i looked over the VMs between cryos and ruiners from last week's spl 6 and only half of the matchups even had VMs to begin with, with only two or so actually following the proper protocol.
I think that if players feel that they are genuinely at risk of an activity call they'll wisen up and schedule better and in more appropriate fashion.

what's the planned protocol for what'll happen if the proposed guidelines aren't followed by the competitors, for example if a back up time isn't scheduled?
The award for the game will be in the hands of the host and, at that juncture, there is no room for complaint. If one simply followed the extremely easy scheduling steps they would have claim for activity, if they cannot manage to do this I have little sympathy.

do you believe that there will be an increase in activity wins if your current suggestion is put into use?
At first, in large part due to laziness on the users side. I understand the annoyance at this idea from a managerial or player perspective, but from a TD perspective there's no difference, at least to me. I think in the long run this idea or a similar, stricter activity idea will create a better environment.

do you believe that mandating users to commit to two time slots on separate days will cause issues when time zone gaps are present (see US West vs, Europe or Oceania vs. anyone)?
In these situations the hosts will play a more active part, substitute management will also come into play. One thing I would like to have is more host intervention in activity situations earlier on, rather than the current Sunday night praying that happens.

do you believe that mandating users to reserve two time slots on separate days accurately represents how big of a commitment playing on smogon is?
I do not think it is that wild of a commitment. Anyone with moderate time management skills will be able to find two hours in a given week for a hobby if they're serious about it. I work full time, have several other hobbies and an active outside life and find it no issue - I'm sure everyone else can as well. Perhaps I'm not as busy as I think I am though.

i am all for clarifying guidelines and thoughts but i believe the current proposal is a step in the wrong direction. i do not believe the current system requires any major changes and if anything should be updated to include things such as discord PMs.
I'm surprised to hear you say this. As a host, trawling for activity is a nightmare and needlessly tedious for me. I genuinely hate it more than anything.

That said I'm not married to anything in here. I'm really unhappy with the way activity works right now but that's why I wanted to have a discussion, this is not something I plan to have made official in the near future whatsoever.
 

Ereshkigal

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Well this is more or less a good idea to prevent activity wins and situations like yours happen but i would ask if there would be an exception if an out-of-control situation happened.

For example A contact via VM B. They reach an agreement to play Monday and if one of a player had a hitch they agree to play, let's say, Wednesday.
Monday come and B let know A he'll not be able to play for whatever reason. It's now Wednesday the two players should play their game BUT sadly at B place there are no power because thunderstorm broke an electric wire and he isn't able to reconnect before Friday.

What will happen in this sort of situation ?
 

Sam

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Well this is more or less a good idea to prevent activity wins and situations like yours happen but i would ask if there would be an exception if an out-of-control situation happened.

For example A contact via VM B. They reach an agreement to play Monday and if one of a player had a hitch they agree to play, let's say, Wednesday.
Monday come and B let know A he'll not be able to play for whatever reason. It's now Wednesday the two players should play their game BUT sadly at B place there are no power because thunderstorm broke an electric wire and he isn't able to reconnect before Friday.

What will happen in this sort of situation ?
Player B gets subbed out
 
Here's a potential solution. We'll call it an "activity jury" or "Supreme Court of Activity Calls" (credits Lavos for this name).

Essentially, we'd have five (or whatever number deemed sufficient) level-headed users on our activity jury. Their job would be to examine important activity cases in official tournaments and render a decision based on ideals set forth by TDs and the community. Examples of "ideals" might be as simple as "get games done" or "making a legitimate good faith effort." The activity jury would deliberate on the case and ultimately write up a decision, and these decisions would then form a body of precedence for future activity calls.

Important activity calls in official tournaments are relatively rare, so a council would likely not be overworked. Furthermore, activity calls are always nuanced. A simple hard line rule along the lines of Teal's suggestions almost surely won't suffice. Some players are known for being bad at scheduling (tiba), while others might be seemingly dodging a game because they think they can get away with it. There's a difficult balancing act in encouraging people to actually play and rewarding a user who genuinely deserves an activity call. I believe an activity jury of well-regarded, thoughtful users could be trusted to serve the tournament community in this capacity.

Finally, I think it's important to maintain separation between this "jury" and TDs or Official Teams. There have been some obvious conflicts of interest this SPL, and it's in the community's best interest to minimize potential bias whenever possible. TDs should not serve on this jury, and jury members should not be able to weigh in on issues involving an affiliated team.
 

Oglemi

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I mean, TDs shouldn't be weighing in on issues involving their team as it is. I know I personally totally ignored the TD(s) affected in the rulings I made in the SPL and other stuff I hosted, don't think(?) this has changed. Pretty sure we even banned MDragon from the td channel on irc for an hour because he wouldn't shut up about something lol

Having a jury to make these calls just means you don't trust the TDs or hosts enough as it is.

Not that delineating these kinds of issues wouldn't be a godsend sometimes to remove responsibility in high-tense situations but... ya.
 

Luigi

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undisputed you seem to be misinformed about who makes activity calls. it is never the TD team's jurisdiction/duty to make activity calls in any tour, those are always handled exclusively by the hosts. there already is an entirely impartial "activity jury" in place for all team tours in the form of the hosts :blobthumbsup:

Oglemi and any others that may be concerned about this: since a recent departure no TD has commented on matters that related to their own team :blobthumbsup:

as for the subject of this thread, we're working on that internally. Personally i don't think there is anything wrong with how activity calls are handled in individual tournaments, and think that there are improvements to be made, some of which that have been outlined here, to the way they are handled in team tournaments. Though i will say that invalidating the result of a played game goes very much against our principles.

edit in reply to bughouse: i'm not sure what you mean, hosts of team tournaments take every form of communication into account when making activity calls, be it smogtours pm, discord or what have you. the rules only state vm's because those are publicly visible and easy to access without relying on the parties to present their case (though as i'm sure anyone that has participated in a team tour knows the parties will always present their case and show the host all the scheduling that took place.). for individual tournaments host's can't possibly follow up every case carefully so only vm's are taken into account, unless an activity post that provides proof of contact is made.
 
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Bughouse

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As a general statement, rules are ineffective when they don't reflect a society's normal behavior.

If the majority of people don't schedule "properly" via VMs in a timely manner, then making rules that are based on the requirement that people establish contact this way will be ineffective. Any activity win policy should take into account the way that people actually do schedule games, not the way the rulemakers wish they would. It is very difficult to create culture like this from the top down without the rules being seen as illegitimate.
 
As a general statement, rules are ineffective when they don't reflect a society's normal behavior.

If the majority of people don't schedule "properly" via VMs in a timely manner, then making rules that are based on the requirement that people establish contact this way will be ineffective. Any activity win policy should take into account the way that people actually do schedule games, not the way the rulemakers wish they would. It is very difficult to create culture like this from the top down without the rules being seen as illegitimate.
Highly disagreed with this on a very fundamental level. Rule changes force behavioral changes. I'm not content to leave alone a system I find fundamentally flawed just because "that's how it's done".

I have, since the posting of this thread, come up with a conditional that I believe would mitigate any potential problems and allow us to stick to a rule-based activity ideology:

Should one of the two players involved in a given matchup want the open ended possibility, they can suggest that (or, rather a "last hour" of the round) in the initial VM. If this is mutually agreed upon by both players then there is no worry - the TD team should always honor a battle played before the scheduled time. However, if a player at the start of the week does not accept an endless time bracket then both players involved know full well when and where they will be playing - at its core, there is no excuse for missing (and, if something were to happen IRL, that is indeed what substitutes are for).

I can be missing something but I see no flaw in this currently, it allows the flexibility for players that are more interested in general scheduling in addition to the conservative, safer option for players that aren't interested in potentially waiting excess lengths of time.


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In addition to all the above, I thought I would pose a Case Study to the general group, just to gauge where opinions lie. How would you specifically handle this situation? (Pretend you are the host or a TD)

CharizardJoe and RalphMagmar are scheduled to play ADV in SPL. They agree to meet on Saturday at 1PM EST, with CharizardJoe noting to his opponent that he is going out with friends around 2PM-230PM, so the time needs to be adhered to. RalphMagmar shows up around 130PM-150PM EST - not terribly far off the original time, but significantly enough so that it may impact CharizardJoe's IRL plans. CharizardJoe leaves/has left because he decides it is more important to stick to whatever plans he has than wait for an indeterminate amount of time for his opponent to show up.

The caveat: RalphMagmar is going to be active all Sunday, online. CharizardJoe will likely be online as well - but he anticipates being brutally hungover and in no condition to play. In fact, he wants to spend his whole Sunday vegging around watching Netflix and occasionally checking in on his SPL team. As a result, he's green on discord or shows up in smogtours from time to time, but from his perspective, his brain is in no condition to play - whereas at the originally scheduled time, he was more than ready to put in a good performance.
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Personally, were I the host, I would prefer awarding CharizardJoe the activity win. He completed his obligations and, though he may be online from time to time thereafter, has no obligation to play. For something like an SPL week, where perhaps the difference of 1 game can be vital, I actually think it would be excessively unfair to force him to play. For me, however, the catch is in the public pressure - if he dares log onto smogtours there is no doubt Ralphs friends and teammates will be PMing him accusing him of dodging. Joe's manager will be telling him the exact opposite - take the win, we probably have activity. It creates an incredibly unviable situation for the player, in PARTICULAR new players who don't know where they stand with the community.

While I think it is simple to pretend that ignoring the jeers and attacks by opposing teams is easy, from a host and tournament director's point of view I don't think we should even allow that to come into play. By giving the players the option for the indefinite week at the START of scheduling then sure, Joe has the obligation to play even if he's hungover or sick, so long as he is online. But if Joe knows that this is a great possibility, it's his responsibility to schedule appropriately to avoid that situation. By taking the decision for the activity call out of the players hands there is no public pressure, no competing voices, just a simple statement of facts. To me it is clean, concise, still offers all the flexibility we do now and avoids any undesirable peer pressure situation (recently addressed with timer wins as well).

Another factor this will mitigate is the "endurance war" that comes with activity in team tournaments. Any SPL manager should know by now that certain teams are more than willing to argue for their player ad nauseum. While I trust the hosts to perform their duties appropriately, I think it would be naive to pretend that volume of complaints does not influence decision making at all. This is no criticism, it is simply human. I don't think the loudest voices should necessarily get more airtime. By simplifying our activity structure to a formula we will negate this - there's nothing to argue whatsoever if you simply follow the steps provided, it's all laid out for you.
 
I'm not going to necessarily analyze the aforementioned proposals, but rather give my overall thoughts on activity/scheduling as a whole.

The main purpose of scheduling is to get a game done. Scheduling is a form of human communication/interaction, and should remain as fluid as possible. Via this, I'm against EVER not counting a game that was played by players before a deadline.

That being said, we do need to be stricter on activity in some ways. I agree with teal on the point that being online ≠ having to play, if your opp missed prior time(s). You should only be bound to the time you schedule, and you can play at any unscheduled times as you wish. In terms of what counts as actually missing a time, I think highlighting the opposing team on discord + then waiting 45 min(? maybe an hour) or so for an opponent (be it original or sub) is fair. After that, you are free to leave and hang around on discord later in the week and not be obligated to play anything.

Also as a small note, discord should always be as valid as VMs in this day and age, except for stuff like early OST rounds where hosts need to go through large quantities of people.
 

jake

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I understand that making stricter activity rules will be unpopular. I understand that the "common sense" crowd will want nothing more than to "get games done". From a player perspective and from a fan of Pokemon perspective I feel exactly the same. But in my role as Tournament Director I think the more we leave to discretion the sloppier and more inconsistent our tournaments will be. In turn, I think it is best to have a discussion with no mud slinging about what appropriate activity currently is, could be, and should be. By codifying this we will lift the burden from the player and get rid of the incentive to lie, hide and dodge if we take it out of the players hands - something I think is incredibly unhealthy for our tournaments (team tournaments in particular).
I can't agree with this thought more. You want a clear, concise, and consistent ruleset, for the players' and the hosts' sanity.

Also as a small note, discord should always be as valid as VMs in this day and age, except for stuff like early OST rounds where hosts need to go through large quantities of people.
I'm not personally against this, but how do you determine that Discord logs/timestamps are truthful (without giving account access)? Messages can be deleted or otherwise manipulated. Screenshots can be faked. Without hard rules like teal's second post, how do you accurately make an activity call with the least amount of subjectivity possible? What's hard about sending a VM?
 
I can't agree with this thought more. You want a clear, concise, and consistent ruleset, for the players' and the hosts' sanity.



I'm not personally against this, but how do you determine that Discord logs/timestamps are truthful (without giving account access)? Messages can be deleted or otherwise manipulated. Screenshots can be faked. Without hard rules like teal's second post, how do you accurately make an activity call with the least amount of subjectivity possible? What's hard about sending a VM?
Let's say I'm hosting a tour. You're paired with teal.

Teal sends an activity request my way, let's say via tagging me in the thread with logs. If you see this as his opponent, and believe that the logs are falsified in some form, you can bring that up. If teal discord pms me his activity request with falsified logs, and this leads to me posting in admin decisions that he gets the win (and I'll explain my logic in this post), you can see if the logic i employ lines up with the facts of the pms. If not, you can feel free to PM me your version of the logs and I'll obviously look into it.

Falsified PMs where both parties are able to show the logs are an entire non-issue.
 

dream

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Let's say I'm hosting a tour. You're paired with teal.

Teal sends an activity request my way, let's say via tagging me in the thread with logs. If you see this as his opponent, and believe that the logs are falsified in some form, you can bring that up. If teal discord pms me his activity request with falsified logs, and this leads to me posting in admin decisions that he gets the win (and I'll explain my logic in this post), you can see if the logic i employ lines up with the facts of the pms. If not, you can feel free to PM me your version of the logs and I'll obviously look into it.

Falsified PMs where both parties are able to show the logs are an entire non-issue.
I disagree with this. I feel like shifting the scheduling process towards discord is more of a negative than a solution to anything. First off, it causes unnecessary complications at every step of the process, also inevitably delaying the hosts' job. This process of receiving PMs from a specific user, then having to confer with the other involved parties that these weren't in fact manipulated in any way after posting an activity call (people won't be on at the same times and this just delays decisions massively) just seems ridiculously superfluous to me. On top of that, you're deviating a select section of the tournaments scene (allowing for discord activity is only viable in smaller individual tournaments or team tournaments) from the standard scheduling norm, which means that you won't be keeping activity protocol as uniform as possible, thus generating unnecessary confusion and haziness towards what a proper scheduling post entails, which is obviously not something we want. We should strive to keep the scheduling process as simple and straightforward as possible without sacrificing it's core purpose, which is to schedule the match itself.

That aside, I do agree that even though we should be looking to make these activity guidelines and rules stricter, it ultimately boils down to how much we value getting the games done now versus how much we value having a solid framework that can be followed. If you want your matches done over anything else, we will never reach a strict ruleset which means we maintain the current landscape of game scheduling. However, if we're willing to be stricter and reduce the wiggle-room for missing scheduled times, I feel like we might face some initial backlash, but eventually we will see a tournaments community which is a lot more concerned about actually being ready to play on time. This would mean that even if we're not reducing the amount of activity incidents (which it should in the long run), at least we're making it so they are a lot less contested and disputed due to our own more rigorous standards.
 
I disagree with this. I feel like shifting the scheduling process towards discord is more of a negative than a solution to anything. First off, it causes unnecessary complications at every step of the process, also inevitably delaying the hosts' job. This process of receiving PMs from a specific user, then having to confer with the other involved parties that these weren't in fact manipulated in any way after posting an activity call (people won't be on at the same times and this just delays decisions massively) just seems ridiculously superfluous to me. On top of that, you're deviating a select section of the tournaments scene (allowing for discord activity is only viable in smaller individual tournaments or team tournaments) from the standard scheduling norm, which means that you won't be keeping activity protocol as uniform as possible, thus generating unnecessary confusion and haziness towards what a proper scheduling post entails, which is obviously not something we want. We should strive to keep the scheduling process as simple and straightforward as possible without sacrificing it's core purpose, which is to schedule the match itself.

That aside, I do agree that even though we should be looking to make these activity guidelines and rules stricter, it ultimately boils down to how much we value getting the games done now versus how much we value having a solid framework that can be followed. If you want your matches done over anything else, we will never reach a strict ruleset which means we maintain the current landscape of game scheduling. However, if we're willing to be stricter and reduce the wiggle-room for missing scheduled times, I feel like we might face some initial backlash, but eventually we will see a tournaments community which is a lot more concerned about actually being ready to play on time. This would mean that even if we're not reducing the amount of activity incidents (which it should in the long run), at least we're making it so they are a lot less contested and disputed due to our own more rigorous standards.
To clarify, I believe discord scheduling is particularly appropriate for: team tournaments, playoffs of individual tournaments. The player pools are small enough in these cases to where hosts can handle it. VM'ing, to me, should only be mandated when hosts have to go through tons and tons of pairings (OST).

Moreover, it hardly makes the job harder for the hosts at all. The assumption is that logs provided are true, not false. Hosts don't immediately have to verify with the one team that the logs they received from another team are real. If a player is proven to have falsified logs to get an activity call then that is certainly punishable. We can assume this won't be done, and if another party wants to refute the evidence they are entirely in power to do so.

The reason I'd like to permit discord when feasible is that it is the most convenient for the players. Everyone participating in a team tour or an indiv playoff uses discord as the main means of communicating with the tour playerbase, so allowing for the frequent back and forth as the medium for scheduling makes it easier on our users. It helps the players and is not harder for the hosts in any way, so we should allow it.
 

DragonWhale

It's not a misplay, it's RNG manipulation
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If we are willing to sacrifice some matchmaking for better quality of life for players, how about for every 30 minutes someone is late to a scheduled time and the other player waits for them, their team has x hours of "activity amnesty".

So for teal's CharizardJoe case, since RalphMagmar came 30 minutes late, if x is 12 hours CharizardJoe's team gets 12 hours of "activity amnesty" until they are required to play/make a substitution. In this case CJ doesn't get an activity win from that, but if x is 24 hours and CJ waited for RM for an hour then the "activity amnesty" will go past the deadline and CJ gets activity if they don't play, and CJ has no requirement to do so.

Pros: :blobthumbsup:
- Makes activity calls less ambiguous
- Players have greater incentive to wait longer for their opponent
- Teams have greater incentive to reach out for a late player as fast as possible


Cons: :blobsad:
- "Activity amnesty", in itself, doesn't encourage rescheduling. Concise rules for scheduling mistakes also makes concise rules to exploit it
 

CrashinBoomBang

MEIN BIZEPS BRENNT PERMANENT amk
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We should strive to keep the scheduling process as simple and straightforward as possible without sacrificing it's core purpose, which is to schedule the match itself.
I don't really care much about the rest of this proposal in either case, but, as someone who played tournaments back in the day on IRC (where we had way, way less of the playerbase actually be active than nowadays on discord) I mostly have one request: Please keep Discord as a scheduling option as legitimate and recognized. Personally, half the reason I stopped playing in inofficial tournaments is because of the hassle that involves Smogon PMs. Between some people only being online during very limited timeframes (and believe me, I've had periods where I only was on Smogon once a day or so), other people having very limiting schedules to begin with, and the ease that is discussing schedules/problems that pop up in real time, I am very much against removing Discord as an "official" means to scheduling.

When your opponent works full time, is 6-9 hours apart from your timezone, and happens to log onto smogon once a day, scheduling becomes a friggin' nightmare. You'll have your opponent VM you just after you go to sleep, you respond to him that his times don't work after work 18 hours later (Yeah, yeah, could get onto Smogon before work but this is a theoretical example), your opponent telling you that those times don't work another 6+ hours later, and so on. Smogon VMs were bad back then (I remember reyscarface in particular pushing for "all people participating in tournaments should use IRC as a scheduling method", and I started to agree at some point. It really is that much more convenient for both sides), and they're even worse now with the easy availability of Discord. I'm sure there's some way to reliably get rid of any faking or whatever, between Discord tags being 99.9% unique via name + number, most people not going through this degree of fakery, and most of it caught at some point anyway. I don't really have a super concrete solution to suggest at this point in time, but please, please!! don't do away with real time scheduling. It actually helps a lot with what the actual line I quoted outlines in the long run, at least within the tournament scene. (keeping it straightforward and simple without sacrificing its core purpose). If nothing else, please just keep it alive for bigger tournaments, such as SPL or I suppose stuff like STour playoffs, although I would largely prefer it being in place for people trying to play OST/Grand Slam in general to a degree. Thank you!!!
 
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Bughouse

Like ships in the night, you're passing me by
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If the issue with allowing scheduling by means other than VM is the inability to track it...

Falsifying evidence of scheduling/missed times merits a tour ban. Pretty sure everyone could get behind that rule. It’s no different from any other form of cheating. It aims to undeservedly change the outcome of a pairing.

Note that this doesn’t include “falsifying availability.” If someone says on Monday they’re only available at X times and then they’re online some other time, that doesn’t mean they’ve lied about their availability. We’re not in a position to evaluate that.

I agree smogon VMs should still be the preferred method and perhaps the only method for things like OST with its thousands of matches or the rare instance of a competitor not using discord. But allow non-VM scheduling and make clear you’ll crack down on cheaters.
 

tennisace

getting too old for this
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I've been on both sides of this situation more times than I care to count, both telling players to hide and raging at whomever to quit dodging and play. Thankfully it seems activity calls are getting less and less common in SPL compared to early years, where you'd have like 5 or 6 calls a week.

My 2c is this: in a team tour setting, there should be a substitution clause with whatever activity rule comes out of this discussion. Something that's fair to both teams but favors whichever team has "activity".

Consider this: say CharizardJoe and RalphMagmar are scheduled for Wednesday at 5 pm. RalphMagmar unfortunately gets his head stuck in a fence and is unable to play. CharizardJoe waits some arbitrary time, then calls activity. At this point, RalphMagmar's manager, unable to locate WD-40, should have to sub in a player (MoltresJim). MoltresJim has 24 (or some arbitrary amount greater than) hours to schedule and play a match with CharizardJoe, even if it's post-deadline by a day.


I started typing out my idea for a sub policy but I realized it had a couple flaws:

a) CharizardJoe may not be able to play the next day and shouldn't be punished for that.
b) CharizardJoe might be able to play the next day but it's in his team's best interest to take the activity win anyway. Free games are free games unless this is like the last game in the tiebreaker in the finals.

So before I try to jump the gun on activity stuff let me ask this of the TDs: With respect to team tournaments, is the goal of an activity policy to give the correct team an activity win and reward players for scheduling correctly and showing up, or is the goal to get as many games as possible completed? I'm starting to think that subs should only be used in cases of "it's early in the week and my player has x big thing come out of nowhere and can't play at all" or "both players suck and didnt schedule/both missed the time and we need a double sub". I understand how frustrating it can be to have a sub literally ready to go but they can't play, but the onus should be on the manager to stress to the players "GET YOUR FUCKIN BATTLES DONE ON TIME" in the first place. I agree with the sentiment that we need to take peer pressure and shady dodging out of activity calls and make it (mostly) objective: did you make it and your opp missed? You get the W.
 

M Dragon

The north wind
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I mean, TDs shouldn't be weighing in on issues involving their team as it is. I know I personally totally ignored the TD(s) affected in the rulings I made in the SPL and other stuff I hosted, don't think(?) this has changed. Pretty sure we even banned MDragon from the td channel on irc for an hour because he wouldn't shut up about something lol

Having a jury to make these calls just means you don't trust the TDs or hosts enough as it is.

Not that delineating these kinds of issues wouldn't be a godsend sometimes to remove responsibility in high-tense situations but... ya.
If you are going to talk shit about me (or about someone), at least make sure your statement is correct.
What you said never happened. Lol.

Also TDs don't decide about activity. Tournament hosts are the ones who decide activities.

@ OP You are thinking it in the wrong way. You are just adding some useless formalities to current rules that do not add any relevant information to decide an activity win (ex: the 24h thing, having to post in your opp's VM etc).
What should be changed is what to do when your opponent misses the scheduled time. Noticing the other player in discord (if he is not online in smogtours), noticing the other team (in case of team tours), documenting activity and having backup times if possible are good ideas.

Player Y shows up at 645 PM EST. Player Y requests to play the game at this point.
--> Player X does not play: This is an activity win for Player X
--> Player X does play: This game is not honored and is still an activity win for Player X
This is absolutely terrible. If player X wants to play, why would it be an activity win for player X?
There have been several situations in this SPL where a player noticed his opponent that he would be online later than expected because of X IRL reasons, or where they agreed to play the game later. I dont see whats wrong with that lol.
You just fail to notice that the goal is that the maximum number of games can be played, and this does the opposite.
 
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Figured that this thread would be worth bumping given recent events in SPL.

As the system works right now, we don't have our activity guidelines explicitly stated in any centralized location on the website along with all the other guidelines. While there is a subpoint under the week one spoiler in the SPL XI commencement thread, this set of rules is frankly bothersome to locate, being a subpoint underneath a spoiler tag that mentions nothing about activity or substitutions, and these guidelines are not outlined anywhere else on the site. Additionally, they're quite vague, using subjective measures such as "which side was more enthusiastic about getting the game done". On the other hand, there is a good, clearly outlined set of guidelines in this SPL OP with regards to activity and contacting with explicit mentions of what needs to be done with regards to contacting and how activity cases are decided, but they are not in any of the SPL XI week OPs, and according to the rules outlined here Lopunny Kicks vs CTC would've been ruled a dead game because there was no VM contact during the scheduling process, and discord contacting isn't mentioned at all in the commencement thread, which makes this activity case confusing in particular. Similarly, this thread mentions activity losses briefly, but never explains what constitutes an activity win or activity case whatsoever. I think that this would be the perfect place to outline these guidelines to make it easier to make clear rulings on such cases in the future, with an adapted/modernized version of the guidelines outlined in the SPL X OP that I linked to make it easier to access these rules as well as having easier measures to follow.
 
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