Well it has been about a week since I last posted here so I think its time to keep the posts comming. The last week has been rather eventful as far as it goes with the employment of a uni friend at work by sheer conicidence, the purchase of a car, the winning of our soccer grand final, and the first work being done on my serverly overdue thesis presentation (not the all important report) in a significant number of weeks. So you can understand the low frequence of updates this site has received over the last 7 days.

One other thing that consumed all my spare time for the few evenings leading upto friday night was the prep I had to do for the youth group I lead. We put on a night of music trivia, which meant spending a lot of time organising music and getting the songs ready. Judging by the response the night received either I’m loosing touch on today’s pop music, I’ve been listening to too much Grandmaster Flash and No Doubt or the young people of today (or just the ones I hang around) have a severly restricted knowledge of music.

While I could spend the next 100 words or so ranting about my favourite music genres and what is wrong with pop, the reason I bring the music trivia night is to highlight one of my other pet peeves: Improper Scoring.

Having been to many events run for children in school years 4 to 12 I have bore witness to many scoring blunders. What happens is this: a leader decides to make an event fun by giving different groups or teams scores based on activities that they are to partake in. This is healthy. It encourages kids to get involved. So the leader will then go and spend all their prep time figuring out what activites to run. When it comes time to compete the leader will run the activities and give each team a score. More often than not the leader will use an absolute score for each activity. So while one activity might be worth 10 points, the next might be worth 100, leading to complete and utter domination by the team that wins the round worth 100. Often this problem is recognised too late and inappropriately compensated in subsequent actvities, further contributing to the problem.

So to overcome this problem people should invest time into figuring out how an event is to be scored. The underlying principal that should be followed is this: The scoring system must be such that if Team A performs well in round A and Team B performs badling in round A their scores should be close to equal after the subsequent round if in it Team A performs badly and Team B performs well.

There are two ways to ensure this principal is followed:

  1. Make sure each round is worth the same number of points as the last. This can be done by dividing the total number of points obtained by the total number of points that were obtainable for that round and multiplying it by the same constant for each round.
  2. Don’t mix scoring styles. Consistancy is the key. Make sure that you don’t mix rounds that allow for all teams to obtain points (eg a round of trivia), with a rounds that end up with only one or two teams scoring points.

One day I hope to see an end to improper scoring. If only everyone would take a moment to consider the impact it makes.