Spring Thing disqualification

I’m sorry to have to announce that the game “The Bibliophile” has been disqualified from Spring Thing, due to an unsuccessful attempt by its author to manipulate the competition results.

Please trust that I do not take this action lightly or without significant evidence, and I regret the pall this casts on an otherwise friendly community event. To the credit of our amazing community, after speaking with the former organizers of both Spring Thing and IF Comp, this seems to be the first time something like this has happened in the history of either competition. I’m hopeful it will be the last.

The competition results for the remaining entries will be announced tomorrow.

I deny any wrong-doing. I’ve not been shown any evidence. Were any other authors’ votes questioned?

I simply had my friends play the games and on May 7th, I reminded them to vote.

Aaron is confused that 4 people from Maryland voted for me on the same day. The IPs are similar.

Aaron attempted to contact said friends and ask additional info re: their scores. Was this done for any other author?

Aaron emailed me saying he found a “great deal of evidence” but failed to illustrate any to me.

I broke no rules. I simply asked friends, who played enough ST14 games to vote, to vote on the 7th and they did so.

Just for reference, would his game have won if all of his votes were counted?

Is there actual proof MTW tried to manipulate the voting or just a feeling that he mentioned it to some friends who then voted for him? If it’s the latter, then I’m guessing everyone is guilty of manipulation - how many of us have ever entered a competition and not mentioned it to anyone?

Phew… this is tough! You’re the one who has to (and should) decide, Aaron, but this is a drastic measure. Just a couple of days after showing (deserved) lenience in another case, no less. All those public voting competitions are based on an honour system. If someone wants to manipulate the results, it is easy to do so without any chance of being caught. Whatever the point to do so might be.

But, if you decided to take this step, I trust that the evidence you speak of must be not just clear, but the extent of the attempt must also be considerable. Maybe, if those votes you consider to have been cast in bad faith are clearly identifyable (for instance: Bibliophile 10, everything else 1), they could have simply be eliminated from the count instead of disqualifying the game itself?

P.S. Just that there is no impression of me trying to manipulate things in my own favour: Yes, I am one of the participants as well.

Why are you guys questioning his decision?

Because there isn’t really enough information for anyone to know whether the disqualification was fair or not. To be honest, you’d be questioning it yourself if not for MTW trying to get some of the Choose Your Story games banned for alleged rule breaching.

What makes you think you’re entitled to know that information?

What makes you think we aren’t?

Why would you be? You have no say in the decision to disqualify anyone lol.

Are you just trolling here, killa_robot? I notice it was you who started the thread on the Choose Your Story site about discussing the comp games, which several CYS authors took part in, so if anyone should be disqualified it’s them.

Surely we have already enough of an unpleasant situation without creating another one and a possible feud between us and CYS…

I don’t think we’re questioning anything. We’re very much surprised - this is a first. We are curious. If we didn’t want to turn this little issue around and look at it from every angle, possible look into alternative solutions, well, we wouldn’t be playing/writing parser-based Interactive Fiction.

EDIT - Also, the “troll” word sometimes seems to be flinged too easily, pardon me for saying. Bukayeva was also accused of “trolling” when he expressed his views on how I7 development should take place. Are we forgetting what “trolling” is and making it a synonim for situations/people/discussions we don’t like?

EDIT 2 - A thread in CYS makes it clear that the consensus over there is not to question the decision. Similarly, the first post in the game-discussing thread makes it clear that they weren’t aware they weren’t strictly following the rules back then. Which means they are interested in following the rules, period (natural enough). Therefore, as a participant, Killa, who’s decided not to intervene in the organiser’s decision (technically the correct decision), is wondering why we are. We view it slightly differently only because it’s a friendlier thing for us, we are used to it, and Aaron isn’t just one big judge in the sky, he’s someone we know, to a higher or lesser degree.

These things should be taken into consideration. Once they are I think we can appreciate Killa’s stupefaction at our continued discussion and perceive no ill intent.

Honestly, when people start asking for proof and saying the decision should be reconsidered, it doesn’t seem very friendly. It undermines the work that Aaron did to make the decision, and makes it seem like you guys don’t trust him to make such a decision without your approval.

We’ll see how Aaron reacts I suppose.

I’m not asking for proof and neither do I claim any part in the decisionmaking. I’m merely voicing my surprise, as Peter said. The reason being that I’d rather be part of a friendly, peaceful competition where such rulings aren’t even necessary. Your responses reek of unresolved bad blood, killa_robot (“lol”) which honestly makes things worse. I didn’t enter this competition to have a quarrel with anyone, or to compare sizes of each other’s anatomy, but because it seemed like a fun way to get my game played. Judging from Aaron’s decision and also some reactions, there seem to be some taking this competition way too seriously. Even the very idea that anyone would deem it worth to manipulate the vote to win is totally baffling to me!

We really need more information about the banning. Granted, it’s the comp organiser’s call to ban games and I’m sure he had his reasons, but all that’s been posted so far is the assertion that MTW cheated in some way and MTW refuting that he did. No cold hard facts. If indeed he did cheat, then he deserves the ban, but it’s difficult to say whether the decision was fair or not without more information.

Weeeellll… it IS a competition, however friendly, and there ARE rules to be followed. Normally the rules are mostly for organisation, not for really restricting, but they do exist and if they are breached the organiser has to decide how to proceed.

Yes, it’s all in good fun, and we wouldn’t have it any other way, none of us. But if the rules aren’t enforced, we might as well just write our games outside of any competition and just release it whenever. There’s an event; it has rules; sure it’s not as serious as the Olympics, but it’s somewhat serious all the same. Isn’t there even money involved on the Spring Thing?

Mind you, it never really looked as serious as THIS year, and it’s not due to anyone in particular, it’s just things piling up. Really crazy feeling.

Besides, I don’t see any rules which take into account the fact of cheating, or even asking friends to vote. Of course it wouldn’t be very fair to have a pool of friend helping to win, while not playing all the games (or half of them), but I see no penalty dealing with those cases in the rules:


Okay, I was going to stay out of the conversation because I figured that joining it would be immature… Then I remembered I am immature, so I figured, screw it. :slight_smile:
First of all, if David thinks that somebody saying something he doesn’t agree with is trolling then clearly he has no idea what a troll is (thank you Peter Pears for mentioning this.)
Second, while I understand that people are curious about the disqualification, it irritates me to see people throwing accusations at Killa because he pointed out that, at the end of the day, it’s the game organiser’s decision. Granted, most people don’t seem to be taking sides and are just asking for curiosity’s sake, but when people make comments like “I notice it was you who started the thread on the Choose Your Story site about discussing the comp games, which several CYS authors took part in, so if anyone should be disqualified it’s them.” It implies that Aaron was wrong to disqualify The Bibliophile and that he should’ve disqualified the three CYS games instead. So, you can see why Killa thinks that people are undermining Aaron’s decision.
I personally have no idea why the game was disqualified beyond what the author himself said in his defence, but obviously Aaron considered it a bad enough violation of the rules to disqualify the game over. Knowing Killa Robot better than the people on this site, I’d say that him suggesting that people don’t need to be shown the evidence wasn’t because he doesn’t want Aaron to reconsider his decision, I think he was just telling people to mind their own business and stop asking for information that could potentially make The Bibliophile’s author look bad in a public forum.
Honestly, I think this makes Killa a lot more mature than me, because personally, I would like to see the evidence too, if only to satisfy my own curiosity. That said, whether Aaron decides to share the information is up to him. If Aaron decides to reconsider his decision, that’s also up to him, but I don’t think people should suggest that his decision was too harsh when they don’t actually know why he made it.
Edit Also, Farvardin’s post made me giggle.

True, there aren’t any rules against friends voting, I just thought it was funny that he pointed out that there aren’t any rules against cheating… I mean, if the rules don’t say that cheating’s not allowed, then that means it’s okay to cheat… Right? [emote]:P[/emote]

I don’t agree with this. Aaron is the Spring Thing competition organizer. If he’s confident enough in the facts to disqualify someone, that should be enough.

I would also support Jason McIntosh in disqualifying someone from IFComp, Sam Ashwell in disqualifying someone from the XYZZY awards, or J.J. Guest in disqualifying someone from Ectocomp. Handling situations like this is part of running a competition.

The existing rules assume a certain level of maturity and sportsmanship from participants. “There’s no rule against it” is simply not a valid argument here.

There is also no rule against hacking into the Spring Thing site and manipulating the scores to force your own game to win. But that would also be an appropriate reason to disqualify someone.

But let’s assume for a moment that MTW’s account is valid. If so, a valid parallel under those circumstances would be Zombie Exodus.

In 2011, Choice of Games alerted their fan base that CoG game Zombie Exodus was eligible for a XYZZY award, and CoG voters swarmed the XYZZY awards to vote for their game. Zombie Exodus was nominated for ten categories and then (by the vote count) proceeded to win them all, including Best Puzzles, a category for which it was not logically eligible*. The voters who voted for Zombie Exodus were uninterested in any other games and voted a CoG-exclusive ticket. This presented a difficult situation for the organizer, but after extensive discussion, Sam handled the situation by giving a Special Recognition award to Zombie Exodus and then disqualifying it from every other category.

XYZZY judges are expected to be (relatively) impartial members of the IF community. The same is true of Spring Thing judges. Recruiting people to vote a skewed ticket"** - regardless of whether or not the people are “real” - damages the validity of the competition.

By the Zombie Exodus precedent, it would still be appropriate to disqualify MTW’s game.

[size=85]* I could be wrong about this, but to my understanding, Zombie Exodus is a puzzleless game.

** To be clear, Choice of Games did not deliberately recruit people to vote a skewed ticket. Their fan base is simply very enthusiastic.[/size]

True, it’s his call but it’s going to kick up a significant amount of fuss if it looks like someone has been banned unfairly. Right now, I’d be very reluctant to enter the Spring Thing next year if there was a risk my game might be disqualified because of reasons out of my control*.

  • As yet, I haven’t seen any real proof of why MTW was disqualified. Just vague assertions. If the organiser doesn’t want to disclose any proof he has, that’s entirely up to him, but keeping quiet is only going to lead to wild speculation and ultimately harm the competition.