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View Full Version : Concern over KCBS comment card vote


bover
02-14-2012, 02:56 PM
Hey all. The quick notes from the latest KCBS BoD meeting regarding the suspension of comment cards really hit me the wrong way. I have written the following email and sent it to bod@kcbs.us. If you feel the same way, I'd strongly recommend you do the same. If you like what I've written, feel free to copy/paste any or all of it. If you think I'm off my rocker, please feel free to continue on with your day.

Thanks.


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Josh Bovee <xxx@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, Feb 14, 2012 at 1:54 PM
Subject: Regarding comment card votes during February meeting
To: bod@kcbs.us


To whom it may concern:

I'm writing to express concern over the following entry from the quick notes for the February 10-11 BOD meeting:

"The other issue has to do with the comment cards. In KCBScore, all reports only list the Team Number by design and board approval. The only Alt number references used are the label and turn-in table reports. Comment cards use the Alt number. They get attached to the Team Detail report that only lists Team Number. So far, the only suggestion is to Sharpie out the Alt number, reverse look-up the team number (error prone), and attach to the Detail report. In testing, If a ball point or the judge presses firmly with a pencil, the Sharpie covers the Alt number but the indentation is still visible and readable. Mike Lake made a motion that we suspend the use of comment cards until a solution is found for use of them with KCBScore program. Seconded by Randy Bigler, there was then a call for the vote by Mike Lake. Seconded by Paul Kirk, the motion passed unanimously. The motion to suspend use of the comment cards also passed unanimously."

As the head cook for a fledgling competition team and as a CBJ entering my third year of service, I have to say that the recent vote to suspend the use of comment cards is incredibly disappointing and frustrating. As a cook I would welcome any input I could get from a judge as to why they put down the score they did (good or bad), and as a judge I feel obligated to explain my score in certain situations. By suspending the use of comment cards due to limitations in the new software, and from the looks of the last sentence in the above meeting notes entry suspending them completely, a very valuable form of communication between judges and cooks is being cut off completely. This is, in my opinion, a direct contradiction to the KCBS mission statement that vows to "...celebrate, teach, preserve, and promote barbecue as a culinary technique, sport and art form". A comment card in the hands of a judge that provides information to a team that makes their end product better is a form of teaching and should be encouraged and promoted...not suspended.

I have been following the meeting notes regarding this subject for the past year or so, and from the outside it seems that quite a few members of the Board either do not like comment cards or they do not fully appreciate the potential value they bring to competition teams. As this debate has progressed, the public appearance is that the inability of KCBScore to efficiently accommodate comment cards was the justification that was needed to finally put the argument to rest. For the benefit of the vast majority of the KCBS membership, I strongly urge you to reconsider this action and work together to finalize a plan to not only reinstate the use of comment cards but also to develop a plan that encourages their use going forward.

I have read and understand the limitation introduced by KCBScore, but I have to question its origin. What was the reasoning behind the elimination of alternate numbers from the Team Detail Report that was approved by the Board? One can only assume it was done in an attempt to strengthen the double-blind aspect of judging by not providing a teams alternate number to them on the report, as that would then expose the system in use by that contest's Rep for team number obfuscation. Let's be honest here...the decoder ring in a box of Cracker Jacks is more complex than the team/alt number conversions that happen at most contests. The real weakness in the double-blind system is this predictable mapping system, not that the team's alt number shows up on their report. The logical solution to this issue would be to implement a randomizing team number obfuscation component to the KCBScore system, then restore the alt number to the report so that comment cards could easily be paired up and presented to the teams as they are today.

I realize that it is certainly not my place to recommend solutions when the only information I have available is that which has been provided through the meeting notes, but these are the types of issues that I work with every day so the temptation to suggest a solution is too great to resist. I am also of the mindset that unless you can provide a solution or provide a means to come up with a solution, then you should not complain in the first place. This comment card issue is one that is going to impact a lot of KCBS members in a negative fashion if left as-is, so a concern needed to be raised. Hopefully my suggestions will trigger some discussions that ultimately lead to a solution that satisfies all of us.

Thank you for your time and if you would like to discuss this further, please do not hesitate to reply to this email.

Regards,
Josh Bovee
CBJ #56828

Jeff_in_KC
02-14-2012, 04:57 PM
Mike, Josh and John, speaking strictly for myself and not the entire board, here's the comment cards story as I saw it - after looking at the quick notes, I also noticed that it was not completely clear as to when the comment cards would be suspended. I fully understand the difficulty in accomplishing what we're doing now with the new software. Unfortunately, I was not on the board when all of those decisions were made so I cannot speak to why or how all of the details of what would be in the reports were decided upon. But given where we are right now in the process, it would not be easy to continue to try to match up comment cards with score sheets. But knowing that a majority of the cooks I've talked to don't want to do away with comment cards, I didn't think it was a positive thing to suspend use of cards immediately when we aren't even using the new software yet. Nothing's changed there, so why change the comment card system until it has to be changed? I raised the issue to board members yesterday and the consensus of opinion as to when board members believed they were voting to SUSPEND (not end or do away with) comment cards was when the new software was released. We represent the members and my belief was that a majority of members want to keep comment cards, even if they believe the process needs to be better defined and so forth. As a result, comment cards will not be going away while the old software is in place and if a workable solution can be reached prior to release of the new software, MAYBE they won't even be suspended. That is my hope. Then the next logical step in my opinion is to look into how they're being used and see if we can formulate something makes them of greater value to those receiving them. I hope that answers your concern and as always, feel free to call or email me too. If anyone has ideas on how to approach use of comment cards when cards have (out of necessity) the alternate number and the score sheet has only the original team number, I would love to hear your thoughts. Twelve people in a meeting can't have all of the ideas. There are ideas and solutions out there that none of us might ever think of and I want to hear them from you! Thanks!

Smokedelic
02-14-2012, 05:36 PM
Thanks for the reply Jeff.

Alt numbers have been on team detail sheets since I started competing 6 years ago, why the sudden concern to conceal the alt number on the team detail sheet and use the original team number instead?

Still Smokin
02-14-2012, 05:59 PM
I am one that certainly appreciates comment cards

Ron_L
02-14-2012, 06:01 PM
As far as comment cards, if they contained any useful information I would be all for it, but we've received three comment cards over the past three seasons. One was actually for another team but our alternate number was on it (Had to go to the KCBS office to figure that one out. The scores on the card didn't match the scores I received), one complained about lighter fluid smell (I cook in a pellet cooker. No lighter fluid anywhere on my cook site) and the third said that my ribs tasted too much like molasses. No molasses used on the ribs.

4 smokin butts
02-14-2012, 06:04 PM
im all for comment cardss,untill they hanging on our score sheets,just kidding,they can be very helpfull though....i guess well find out next wknd if there using them:shock: dennis

Jeff_in_KC
02-14-2012, 06:37 PM
I've spoken to Mike but just so you know I'm answering your question here... in regards to why the concern over concealing the alt number, I was not a part of discussions in development of the software but I'm guessing that since the software was going to have new features, it was looked upon as a chance to take another step to help preserve the integrity of the double blind system. That's only my guess though.

dmprantz
02-14-2012, 06:43 PM
And why would a stapler not be a decent work-around? Affix the comment card to the score sheet. Don't write the alt-id on it. When you input the numbers, write the id on the comment card and pull from score sheet. No sharpie issue. Surely I'm missing something, right?

dmp

dmprantz
02-14-2012, 07:22 PM
A few more ideas....

If the stapler thing doesn't work, print off new cards where the alt-id portion is on a perforated section. Rep tears it off while entering scores, after writing the ID on it.

If that is too difficult, use a pair of scissors to cut the Alt-ID out.

If that's an issue, tear it.

dmp

Jeff_in_KC
02-14-2012, 07:33 PM
And why would a stapler not be a decent work-around? Affix the comment card to the score sheet. Don't write the alt-id on it. When you input the numbers, write the id on the comment card and pull from score sheet. No sharpie issue. Surely I'm missing something, right?

dmp

We have a comment card with the alt number on it (because that's the only number a judge will see). When the reps enter the scores, they also only see the alt number. The software matches up the alt number with the correct team number. Now, it prints the alt number. On the new system, it will not, printing the original team number instead. No one sees the original number once the box number is replaced with the alt number so we still have the issue of how to match up a slip of paper (comment card) containing the alt number with a scoring detail sheet that contains the original number. I personally believe we need to put the brakes on things and take a look at resolving this issue within the development of the software (my opinion only).

Jeff_in_KC
02-14-2012, 07:35 PM
A few more ideas....

If the stapler thing doesn't work, print off new cards where the alt-id portion is on a perforated section. Rep tears it off while entering scores, after writing the ID on it.

If that is too difficult, use a pair of scissors to cut the Alt-ID out.

If that's an issue, tear it.

dmp

That solution (perforated tab) was suggested but I don't recall the issue with it. Forgive me on that... it was the first few minutes of my first board meeting. I was still a little in awe! :wink:

dmprantz
02-14-2012, 07:46 PM
I see three solutions:

1) Come up with a way for the rep to translate from the Alt-ID to the ID and then remove the Alt-ID from the card (if it was ever there).

2) Come up with a way for the software to ingest the information on the comment card and perform the translation itself, printing out new comment cards. This can be done by either typing the contents of the card into the software or scanning the entire card.

3) Get rid of comment cards.

I hope some one finds a way to make (1) or (2) work.

dmp

dmprantz
02-14-2012, 07:48 PM
btw, the stapler would work because the Alt-ID would never be on the comment card. It would be on the score sheet, and the comment card would temporarily be attached to it. Once the scores are entered and the software returns the ID, the comment card can have the ID written on it and be detached from the score sheet.

dmp

Jeff_in_KC
02-14-2012, 09:29 PM
btw, the stapler would work because the Alt-ID would never be on the comment card. It would be on the score sheet, and the comment card would temporarily be attached to it. Once the scores are entered and the software returns the ID, the comment card can have the ID written on it and be detached from the score sheet.

dmp

Ugh! I would avoid any situation where the alt number wasn't written on the comment card... too many chances for it to somehow get stapled to the wrong score card or become detached and then we have nothing. Thing is, the software doesn't return the ID until they're printed out and then it's the regular number, not the alt number.

But all this is good... gets folks thinking about what we might try. I think simply telling the programmer what we're trying to accomplish and why would be a good start. I bet most programmers who are worth the money they're being paid could figure out a solution. I know this was a late issue and not even sure the programmers working on the new software know what we need done. I hope to find out soon.

SirPorkaLot
02-14-2012, 10:02 PM
An old adage comes to mind:
If it's not broke, don't fix it.

I have not heard of many issues with the double blind set up, so not sure why the need to bolster that end of it.

Software is a tool. A means to an end. I have worked for some big corporations, that have lousy software tools, and when asked: why was this done this way? It almost always goes back to software limitations.

Let's not let the software geeks tell s how the scoring needs to be run, just because it is within the capabilities of the software.

Jeff_in_KC
02-14-2012, 10:19 PM
John, that's the thing - the software development "broke" it when the alt number was removed from the detail report with the goal of preserving the integrity of the double blind system. I do not know but I'm only assuming that comment cards were not considered when we told the programming company what we needed. Honestly, I'm not sure I would have thought of it myself either. But now that we have a report that does not list alt numbers and a comment card that does, we have to figure out the BEST way to match them up. I have yet to attend a contest that if the organizer and reps are late getting to the awards, the teams aren't frustrated and hollering to get the show on the road. Last thing we need is a cumbersome system that adds time for reps to figure out where comment cards go and be sure they're right. We need a solid, workable solution as soon as possible. Hopefully with input from members, this can be "fixed" sooner than later.

bover
02-14-2012, 11:09 PM
I've spoken to Mike but just so you know I'm answering your question here... in regards to why the concern over concealing the alt number, I was not a part of discussions in development of the software but I'm guessing that since the software was going to have new features, it was looked upon as a chance to take another step to help preserve the integrity of the double blind system. That's only my guess though.

Thanks for your responses Jeff.

I would argue that the best way to preserve the integrity of the double blind system is to use an alt number assignment system that is more complex than just changing the first digit of a team number. I know not all of the reps use that exact system, but we all know a lot that do.

With the current systems we have in place, adding complexity to that assignment would definitely put more of a burden on the reps and therefore introduce more of a human-error risk. It seems to me like the development of this new scoring software presents a prime opportunity to fix this weakness by having it randomly generate alt numbers and track the associations. With a system like that in place there should be no concerns about printing the alt number on the team report since it would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to decipher the assignment processes.

I understand this would require a modification to the software and a re-approval of the board for the team detail report, but that doesn't seem to me like it would put the KCBScore deployment schedule in jeopardy as long as good developers are on the case.

Slamdunkpro
02-14-2012, 11:36 PM
Thanks for your responses Jeff.

I would argue that the best way to preserve the integrity of the double blind system is to use an alt number assignment system that is more complex than just changing the first digit of a team number. I know not all of the reps use that exact system, but we all know a lot that do.

With the current systems we have in place, adding complexity to that assignment would definitely put more of a burden on the reps and therefore introduce more of a human-error risk. It seems to me like the development of this new scoring software presents a prime opportunity to fix this weakness by having it randomly generate alt numbers and track the associations. With a system like that in place there should be no concerns about printing the alt number on the team report since it would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to decipher the assignment processes.

I'm still not sure what the perceived problem with the blind judging system is. (and it's really single blind, not double blind). What's the objective? Total secrecy? Never going to happen - if nothing else, the people doing the switch and sort at the turn in table have to see both numbers. So what? When you are switching numbers on 75 boxes in the span of 10 minutes and trying to get them out to tables you just don't have time for skullduggery or shenanigans.

A random system would add considerable time to the number switch process vs the sequential system we're using now. Plus, with the sequential system mis-numbers (they do happen) are caught and rectified easily. With a random system it's likely they would never be caught.

Back to the comment cards - Staple them to the judge's slip. Use the switch list (this has to continue to exist) to identify the the actual team # to the blind # and write the actual number on the comment card during scoring. If you're still concerned about security, require the rep to eat the cross reference list when they're done.:becky:

Fat Freddy
02-14-2012, 11:48 PM
My head is exploding thinking about stuff I have not ever thought about before with the comment cards.

At this moment I am unsure exactly what to think, but I did want to say thank you to Jeff. You have jumped right in and gotten involved and asked our views and opinions. So thank you much for being a Brethren and a Board member.

SirPorkaLot
02-15-2012, 12:51 AM
At this moment I am unsure exactly what to think, but I did want to say thank you to Jeff. You have jumped right in and gotten involved and asked our views and opinions. So thank you much for being a Brethren and a Board member.

+1 for that!

Jeff_in_KC
02-15-2012, 11:08 AM
Thank you, but not a big deal, guys... that's what I was elected to do. I said I would be transparent and listen and keep people informed.

I don't want to draw this whole thing out forever - several member suggestions have been presented to the board members via email to think about. Josh, the issue with the proposal you suggested (and it was one I thought to be workable as well) is pretty much what Michael says below you - it would create a nightmare in box number changing at turn-in, especially for larger contests.

I am remaining confident that there will be a workable solution put together before it becomes an issue. Thanks to YOU ALL for your input and expressing your ideas and opinions!

Slamdunkpro
02-15-2012, 11:49 AM
Something else to consider is that in a lot of cases low tech is more effective than high tech. If a stapler and a printed piece of paper is all that's needed to keep comment cards then by all means do it.

CivilWarBBQ
02-16-2012, 04:00 AM
I'm still not sure what the perceived problem with the blind judging system is. (and it's really single blind, not double blind).

I disagree. Double blind is the best description of the KCBS system. It's easy for the man-on-the-street to understand the concept that judges don't know who prepared the entries AND cooks don't know who is judging their stuff.

Maybe you're holding to an explicit definition of scientific method, but being overly technical just muddys the water for common folks.

I do agree that the KCBS system has worked remarkably well for many years. Refinement is one thing, but certainly the "Don't fix it if it ain't broke" wisdom applies. (Of course we all seem to agree that the lack of a unique TeamID does constitute broken!)

swamprb
02-25-2012, 11:27 PM
IMO there is not enough time to do thoughtful comment cards with 30 minute turn ins.

Rookie'48
02-26-2012, 10:57 AM
Sure there is. You only need to write "Too salty", "Too mushy", "Over sauced - can't taste the meat", etc. You don't need to write a book or try to tell the cook how to cook the product - just a simple few words to convey what you think is wrong with it.

Again, this is my opinion only.

bbq.tom
02-27-2012, 09:27 PM
IMO there is not enough time to do thoughtful comment cards with 30 minute turn ins.

That's exactly what I used to think, but I was trying to tell the cook too much information. I wasn't trying to tell the cook how to cook, but taking too much time and effort in my comment. Simple is good. They will understand.

bbq.tom
02-29-2012, 08:54 AM
Hance (Lake Dogs) has been suggesting a comment card with pre-identified problems so that the judge simply check-marks the appropriate box. I personally think that this is a great idea, but might be difficult with all the different possibilities. If kept VERY general with an "OTHER" category, and still have space to elaborate if necessary, it might just work.

dmprantz
02-29-2012, 12:19 PM
Just my personal opinoin, but I'm not a big fan of check-box comment cards. I see it as a way to say "These are things you should be willing to mark down for." The meat is supposedto be judged as presented, and judges should taste it and see what they think, right? If they see pre-filled-out comment cards with "Too Salty" as an option, might a newer judge start tasting food for saltiness and deciding it is "too salty" since it was suggested as a possibillity? I don't think it takes too much time to write "too salty" six times. MHO.

dmp

CivilWarBBQ
03-02-2012, 11:40 AM
If they see pre-filled-out comment cards with "Too Salty" as an option, might a newer judge start tasting food for saltiness and deciding it is "too salty" since it was suggested as a possibillity?

That's a valid concern. It's a known fact that how the questions are asked influence the results of any survey. Food for thought!

bbq.tom
03-03-2012, 02:29 PM
That's a valid concern. It's a known fact that how the questions are asked influence the results of any survey. Food for thought!

Don't just pass out the comment cards before judging, keep them for after scorecards have been marked and turned in (just like they are supposed to be) then there will be fewer judges "looking" for flaws. It's not perfect, but could potentially save time and provide "better" comments - fewer suggestions on "how to cook".

JimmyDAL
03-03-2012, 03:04 PM
I agree about having comment cards and more importantly they should be mandatory. The International Chili Society can do it, so why can't KCBS. When I judged some (too many) were more concerned about filling their cooler. JMO

bover
03-04-2012, 11:24 AM
Yeah it's really easy to say that the best way to fix all judging issues would be to ban coolers and enforce the usage of comment cards, but the problem with that is you'd alienate a big chunk of dues-paying CBJs. That wouldn't do anybody any good. There is a happy medium between the two extremes...we've just got to find it. I'm optimistic that the four new BoD members can make strides in getting there, especially Dave as the Judges Advocate.

dmprantz
03-04-2012, 04:49 PM
I think that comment cards are good, though I don't have an opinion on their forced usage. Similarly, I don't have an opinion on banning coolers.

Still, whatever policy is made regarding those, I honestly would not be concerned with alienating any "dues-paying CBJs" with them, especially if it will raise or solidify the integrity of the sport. I pay hundreds of dollars per contest and thousands of dollars per year to compete. If I hurt the feelings of some one who pays $25 a year to eat free BBQ once a month and doesn't take it seriously enough to follow the rules as laid out, I think it's a win/win situation.

I'm sure KCBS will care a lot more than I do, potentially even to the detriment of the sport, since those CBJ dues are income. Again, I'm not saying either of those policies should be put into place, but if it's what's best, I say do it regardless of the few CBJs who will choose to quit rather than justify their low scores or consider the experience only a way to take free food home.

That's just me though...

dmp

Podge
03-04-2012, 04:54 PM
I've only had one comment card and wished I've gotten more!.. I hope this doesn't end..

Smoke'n Ice
03-04-2012, 07:05 PM
Mandatory cards would be non-productive. A casual judge would put down some such nonsense and go on eating and filling his cooler while the dedicated judge would at least think about his comments. without some guidance from the reps and table captains, the use of these are next to useless while useless can be better.

Guidance and buy in by the BOD and the reps is mandatory for them to work. The best that I have been able to garner from listening to BOD meetings and reading posts etc., there are some BOD members, past and present, who do not want them nor do they encourage them. Until there is buy in by those who adminster the rules and train the judges, the use of comment card is counter productive and downright useless.

As far as tying them in to the scoring system and marrying them to the correct sheet, it should be a no-brainer unless you don't want it to happen. JMHO.

smoke-n-my-i's
03-06-2012, 08:38 AM
Here are my thoughts on comment cards.

When I first started competing, I wanted them.... I was in hopes to get some great comment on how to improve on what I was already doing.

Well, much to my dismay, they did NOT help. At one time, I got several, and the comments were from all spectrums, and now they are just a waste of time, in my opinion. I got cards for the same meat turn in from great taste, to too bland, great tenderness to too tough. You get the picture. It is subjective to each judge and his/her taste.

So, for what it is worth, unless it is something really BAD, and more than one judge agrees on it, they should NOT be used.

HBMTN
03-06-2012, 08:49 AM
I have gotten about 4 comment cards in the past, 2 of which were both flavor issues judges did not like sauce or thought sauce too over powering or chicken had no flavor. Funny part to me was that I got top five in the meat I got these cards on. So clearly other judges did not feel the same. The other two I knew I had a problem before I submitted the boxes. I don't pay attention to them anymore.

smoke-n-my-i's
03-24-2012, 12:26 PM
and if it is a programming problem, why not have the program track the original number, someone input the comment card info into the program (under the blind number), as the program will reference the original number, and when the score sheets are printed out, you have the comment card info printed on your score sheets..... the "blind" number will be "hidden" in the programming...