Author Topic: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?  (Read 40418 times)

Offline wxgod

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NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
« on: February 27, 2013, 08:16:34 AM »
Gary, community, et al...
I would venture that when asked why you became a homebrewer your answer would NOT be "I love entering competitions". Still, after awhile, many of us desire feedback. It helps us get better. It's an invaluable part of the learning process. Plus, awards are cool affirmation that you are figuring out how to make killer beer (or have captured lightning in a bottle - which is still cool).

So - times like this, with the issues for 2013 NHC this year, can lead to a lot of frustration. On the whole, the homebrewing community is pretty laid back and understanding (relax, have a homebrew), but that doesn't mean we don't get irked at times.

With that in mind, I would like to *respectfully* offer up some suggestions to how potential issues like this could be addressed/eliminated in the future. Yes, I understand this could fall under the "too many cooks in the kitchen" mantra. And yes, I understand that the AHA governing committee and those that are in charge of the NHC has looked at these issues ad nauseam. But, perhaps, a brainstorming session from a group of AHA homebrewers might lend a kernel or two of goodness that, when applied, can help with these issues (and/or future ones).

Scarcity.

This issue is partially due to software and hardware limitations, but its mostly due to scarcity. Because there is a limit to how many entries can be accepted at each location (and you can only enter at one), individuals "have to" register and complete their entries ASAP if they have any hope of getting in. Its like trying to get into Ticketmaster for Springsteen tickets. If it doesn't happen within 10 minutes, you are out of luck.

My proposals...

1) Start registration early - perhaps a week in advance. BUT, don't enter beers at this time.

2) When opened for beer entries, LIMIT TO 5. Come on - 15 entries? Seriously, that is just greedy. If everyone who got in did that, it would be 50 people per site.  Limit to 5 - you have at least 150 homebrewers who get the opportunity to enter.

3) Give all those who enter their 1 to 5 beers ONE (1) week to complete their registration (pay). So, if beer entries start on Monday, March 4th for instance, beer entries AND payments must be made by midnight on Sunday, March 10th.

4) After this time, the ability to enter MORE beers is opened - an additional 5 entries can be entered for those that entered 5 the first week, for 10 total. Let's say start that on Monday, March 11th at 5 pm EST (in this current example). By doing it this way, you give MANY more homebrewers the opportunity to get a beer in. And, if there are slots left over, well, you can have your "free for all" there. BUT - the bottom line is more opportunities, more diversity, more happy brewers. Let's not be greedy.

For example: when registration opened this year, it was mid week, during the middle part of the day. Most were probably at work. Many probably didn't have access to a computer. Perhaps they don't get home until 6 pm. Chances are, if they would have tried to login after that they would have discovered that all the regions were filled. Not really fair is it?

Let's curb our "need" to enter every beer we have in our stash (some likely great, others not so much). Changing the rules will prevent us from being greedy, help curb this "scarcity" issue, and give so many more homebrewers a chance to get in. It will also easier on the software/hardware. It's about community. I've helped run our local club for years now - and the word "greedy" has never come to mind. If we can't police ourselves, let's set up some rules that will help us.

All in all, I think these are sensible ideas for sensible solutions. They aren't necessarily the right ones, but at least maybe it's the start of a dialogue between us and the NHC - to make a better competition for all.

Thanks for you time...happy brewing!
Todd

Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2013, 08:46:46 AM »
The 15 limit is new this year, in an attempt to open up more entries. That had to have debate, as there is this thing called the Ninkasi award. It is based on the most points in the second round. Do you know there have been ties in something like 3 or 4 of the last 5 years? One year it was a 3 way tie. The tiebreaker was first round points. To have the opportunity for first round points there were good brewers entering > 30 or even 40+ beers. With fewer beers they have added a lot of other tie breakers, maybe up to 7, with a coin flip as the final tie breaker.

Get rid of the Ninkasi and have 5 entries? You can look up the chance of that on notgonnahappen.com.
Jeff Rankert
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Home-brewing, not just a hobby, it is a lifestyle!

Offline bbkf

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Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
« Reply #2 on: February 27, 2013, 08:53:04 AM »
NHC is not about getting feedback about your beers.  If it were, then no one would ever complain about not being able to enter it.  You could always enter ANY homebrew competition for that kind of feedback.

NHC is about fame and glory.  That is why so many people get upset about not being able to enter it.  You can possibly become the next Jamil or Gordon by doing well in NHC.  If you disagree then you are lying to yourself

If NHC is that important to you AND its entry window conflicted YOUR work schedule, then maybe you should have taken the day off from work!  I did because it was important to me.









Offline wxgod

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Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
« Reply #3 on: February 27, 2013, 09:04:52 AM »
NHC is not about getting feedback about your beers.  If it were, then no one would ever complain about not being able to enter it.  You could always enter ANY homebrew competition for that kind of feedback.

NHC is about fame and glory.  That is why so many people get upset about not being able to enter it.  You can possibly become the next Jamil or Gordon by doing well in NHC.  If you disagree then you are lying to yourself

If NHC is that important to you AND its entry window conflicted YOUR work schedule, then maybe you should have taken the day off from work!  I did because it was important to me.

BBFK - note, I did get in. I did pay for my enteries. I was lucky that I was home to do so. I don't know many people that can afford to take off work to register for any competition, let alone a beer one. And can you image how upset they would be if they did with what happened this year? I am sure the NHC is not going to reimburse everyone for the loss of a day off on account of the registration process not going smoothly.

I understand your points. I was just trying to start a dialogue. I was stating one point of view. Note that I never said it was the "right one". Doubtful that there is one. Disagreement is part of the process and can be healthy.

You mentioned that so many people "get upset when they can't enter", yet you seem to disregarded my suggest of starting with a limit - thus allowing for MORE people to enter, and then expanding that limit after a set amount of time. This would seem to address your point with people not "getting in" while also allowing for the ablity to enter more entries after a set period. 

Anyway - here is hoping they can iron out the issues in a short manner, and come up with some solutions that will make most happy.

Offline wxgod

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Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
« Reply #4 on: February 27, 2013, 09:13:45 AM »
The 15 limit is new this year, in an attempt to open up more entries. That had to have debate, as there is this thing called the Ninkasi award. It is based on the most points in the second round. Do you know there have been ties in something like 3 or 4 of the last 5 years? One year it was a 3 way tie. The tiebreaker was first round points. To have the opportunity for first round points there were good brewers entering > 30 or even 40+ beers. With fewer beers they have added a lot of other tie breakers, maybe up to 7, with a coin flip as the final tie breaker.

Get rid of the Ninkasi and have 5 entries? You can look up the chance of that on notgonnahappen.com.

Having been an AHA member for awhile (and going to one conference), I am familar with the Ninkasi award, but thank you for pointing it out to me.

I understand your points - very valid. Did not know about all the tie breakers. So thanks for that info. All I was trying to do was present another option. It has the potential to lessen the crush on the software/hardware, and allow for more opportunities to more brewers. It does not necessarily mitigate the Ninkasi award.

The forum is full of individuals lamenting that they couldn't get in their 2 to 3 beers they wanted. They weren't going for the full Monty of 15. They just wanted to get in their "best", as they saw them. This was part of my point - my opinion - that many who enter are just trying to enter a few. See how they do. Hope to make the final round. They don't have 15 beers to enter, let alone 15 GOOD beers. But they want the opportunity. In many ways, by allowing such a large number initially, it prevents many of these kinds of brewers the chance to see if they can get "that glory" that you and BBKF speak of.

Again, I was just presenting another option, and as I stated - not necessarily the right one.

Offline udubdawg

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Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
« Reply #5 on: February 27, 2013, 09:25:27 AM »
at this point I don't see how everyone, or even most, can be made happy.  Last year, having a region full and the whole competition 2/3 full in 8 hours was uncharted territory, yet interest seems to still have jumped by another order of magnitude.  If you believe the numbers listed on the 11 regions, we filled up 90% of an 8250-entry competition in barely an hour of the system actually working.
limit to 10, or 5? - there is only room for 1/4 of the membership to even enter a single entry! 

The average is 3.25 entries per person right now (again, assuming the numbers on the regions are correct...)  Last year it was 1733 people averaging 4.5 entries - way less than 10% of the membership.

cheers--
--Michael

P.S.  I don't care much about fame, but glory?  Sure, I admit want to beat the rest of you yahoos!   8)
« Last Edit: February 27, 2013, 09:27:07 AM by udubdawg »

Offline mr_bob

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Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
« Reply #6 on: February 27, 2013, 09:30:01 AM »
I think those are good suggestions for better managing the process.

However, it may be time to create a tiered competition structure where you have to qualify to enter the NHC.

That way if you are looking for just feedback, you use a local competition, working your way up to "fame" at the NHC.

That way, there would be less collisions at the NHC level. Most competitive events have this type of structure.

For instance, not everyone can enter the olympics directly, if they are fast on their ipad. Although, if they did the Olympics would be a whole lot more fun to watch.

Good luck to those that made it in.
Bob
« Last Edit: February 27, 2013, 09:33:18 AM by mr_bob »

Offline rcemech

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Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
« Reply #7 on: February 27, 2013, 09:30:13 AM »
I'm hearing from AHA members on other boards that are angry not because ti filled up, but because AHA members aren't given a chance to register and enter before non AHA members. I can see their point, we make it possible for the competition to exist and should have first right of refusal.

I do think limiting entries to 5 beers is better.

I think the timing for entering was ridiculous. Servers should have been rented in the various time zones and opened via staged times allowing for people to be off work or on the weekend.

I really like the idea of pre-registering and then having a separate entry time. I think that would definitely ease the demand on the servers.

The logistics involved in satisfying the demands of the Homebrewing Community now are staggering. I think it would be possible to fill 15 locations around the country based on the demand this year. Just having enough BJCP judges is tough.

I wish everyone that has entered or may enter, good luck.

Cheers.

Offline phillamb168

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Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
« Reply #8 on: February 27, 2013, 09:37:28 AM »
It would be fairly easy, if not done already, to associate your AHA member number with your entry requests. From there you create a system wherein you get a certain number of entries allowed per membership 'age' in years, with rollover. Everybody gets 3 to start, for example, and people who haven't entered before get priority over those who have entered every year.

Or something like that.
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Offline jstein3

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Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
« Reply #9 on: February 27, 2013, 09:39:12 AM »
There were obviously issues abound with the registration, hence the need to suspend it after just a few hours. I am certain those in the know of everything that occurred will come to reasonable solutions in the future.

I for one also took time out off of work to ensure I was able to get my beers entered.  Not sure if any else had my experience, but the email with the links never made it into my inbox until after 5pm.  By that time, I had already found the posting from Janis with the links, but late enough that the two closest sites to me were already over booked, but in enough time to get into a third.  Unfortunately, I got as far as entering me into the system and they suspended registration before I got any beers entered.  So now I am kinda in, but no guarantees - if the system comes back up while I am at work because I can't take the whole week off, guess I am out even though I planned time off to get in.

I am sure the 15 limit came after much debate and by looking at the number of entrants/entry over the past years is way above what the average brewer is submitting.

Over the past several years, I have tried some different strategies on my way to "fame and glory" of winning in the NHC.  Best I've done is to win in the first round, but never the second.  My excitement this year being that the finals are in my back yard had me double the amount of entries I wanted in compared to the past.  To help my chances, what I have done was to enter as many of the beers into recent, local contests and planned on submitting those entries that had either won in those contests, or scored 38 or better in categories that were flooded with entries but didn't win.  My theory is, I am upping my game in the NHC and giving myself the best opportunity to get as many of my entries to the second round as possible.  So, one suggestion to help improve the quality at the grand poobah of contests may be to require entries to the first round have placed top 3 in category at an AHA/BJCP sanctioned contest in the year prior to the NHC it is to be entered.  This may alter the number of entries or brewers, or not, but would up the ante.

If the issue is system overload, pre-registration could simply be get your personal info loaded and number of entries you have to submit and then get a voucher from the system to get people into and out of the it quickly and efficiently.  Then, following the pre-registration period, which could be pared down from a week to a couple days, or not, provide a couple day window for folks to enter the particulars of their entries and pay.  Once the voucher expires, it is forfeited and can go back to general enrollment based on first come/first served if there are spots available at the site you are registered for.  You can limit the vouchers per entrant at any number, you would allow time for people to get all their intended entries in based on first in/first out for the pre-registration (i.e. remove the complaint that I can't type fast enough or the system didn't process fast enough for me to get all my entries in), and like now, if you don't pay, you are out and others can get back in and possibly enter all the beers they want.

If all of this was already considered or tried in the past, I apologize for redundancy, there are a lot of folks with much higher brain function than me that will figure this out!

Offline brewmanator

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Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
« Reply #10 on: February 27, 2013, 09:57:34 AM »
There were obviously issues abound with the registration, hence the need to suspend it after just a few hours. I am certain those in the know of everything that occurred will come to reasonable solutions in the future.

I for one also took time out off of work to ensure I was able to get my beers entered.  Not sure if any else had my experience, but the email with the links never made it into my inbox until after 5pm.  By that time, I had already found the posting from Janis with the links, but late enough that the two closest sites to me were already over booked, but in enough time to get into a third.  Unfortunately, I got as far as entering me into the system and they suspended registration before I got any beers entered.  So now I am kinda in, but no guarantees - if the system comes back up while I am at work because I can't take the whole week off, guess I am out even though I planned time off to get in.

I am sure the 15 limit came after much debate and by looking at the number of entrants/entry over the past years is way above what the average brewer is submitting.

Over the past several years, I have tried some different strategies on my way to "fame and glory" of winning in the NHC.  Best I've done is to win in the first round, but never the second.  My excitement this year being that the finals are in my back yard had me double the amount of entries I wanted in compared to the past.  To help my chances, what I have done was to enter as many of the beers into recent, local contests and planned on submitting those entries that had either won in those contests, or scored 38 or better in categories that were flooded with entries but didn't win.  My theory is, I am upping my game in the NHC and giving myself the best opportunity to get as many of my entries to the second round as possible.  So, one suggestion to help improve the quality at the grand poobah of contests may be to require entries to the first round have placed top 3 in category at an AHA/BJCP sanctioned contest in the year prior to the NHC it is to be entered.  This may alter the number of entries or brewers, or not, but would up the ante.

If the issue is system overload, pre-registration could simply be get your personal info loaded and number of entries you have to submit and then get a voucher from the system to get people into and out of the it quickly and efficiently.  Then, following the pre-registration period, which could be pared down from a week to a couple days, or not, provide a couple day window for folks to enter the particulars of their entries and pay.  Once the voucher expires, it is forfeited and can go back to general enrollment based on first come/first served if there are spots available at the site you are registered for.  You can limit the vouchers per entrant at any number, you would allow time for people to get all their intended entries in based on first in/first out for the pre-registration (i.e. remove the complaint that I can't type fast enough or the system didn't process fast enough for me to get all my entries in), and like now, if you don't pay, you are out and others can get back in and possibly enter all the beers they want.

If all of this was already considered or tried in the past, I apologize for redundancy, there are a lot of folks with much higher brain function than me that will figure this out!

My $0.02:

In my opinion this competition should be open to as many AHA members as possible.  Each member should have the same opportunity to enter as any other member.  If there are more that 8250 (11 regions times 750 entries) members that would like to enter the competition then we need to randomly pick (lottery) who gets to enter.  I would be surprised if we are at that limit, but if this is truly an open competition then it has to be this way. 

I was scooped on this but here is what I was crafting about pre-registration...

A simple pre-registration would help immensely.  First it locks in the number of members who are allowed to participate. If the number is more than 8250 then you must randomly pick who is allowed to enter. Assuming the number of entrants will be less than 8250, then you need to ask each entrant how many entries they would like to enter (1-15).  Most likely the number of entries from this query will be higher than 8250.  Any entries over 8250 are then taken away from those entrants who requested the most number of entries.  You simply let each person know how many entries they are allowed at this point.  Finally you give each entrant at least a week to get their entries registered and paid for.  The few slots that are left over can be opened up to the public or added to the entrants that requested more entries to begin with.  This should make registration much less painful and stressful for all.
- Mike

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Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
« Reply #11 on: February 27, 2013, 10:00:40 AM »
NHC is about fame and glory.  That is why so many people get upset about not being able to enter it.

Then why are so many of them entering bad beers? It seems to me that a fairly simple solution is to require NHC entries to have done reasonably well (say, a score >30) in another BJCP competition. You can't get into the US Open without playing a qualifier.

Admittedly, trying to vet all those qualifiers (or do spot checks) would be a logistical headache, but it can't be any worse than what Janis and Gary's inboxes look like this morning.
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Offline gsandel

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Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
« Reply #12 on: February 27, 2013, 10:04:29 AM »
I am one of the "disappointed" many.  I was on my smartphone *my only option at work* at 1:07pm Mountain.  I tried a number of times, was denied access to enter beer info.  Came back to the site later in the day to find that they supposedly suspended the entries, and logged on at night to see if they had a solution, only to find that my region was filled a half hour before I logged on.  What happened to the suspention?  Even that process wasn't fair....it encouraged a trusting person that he still had a chance later in the day.

I think it is time to face the fact that Ninkasi was a great idea when the organization was small and entries were needed to have a healthy national competition.  And because now the Ninkasi can propel a homebrewer to rock star status is the whole reason we should look real critically at it.  What is the NHC competition and conference (and the AHA) all about anyway?

Telling me to get over the fact that I don't have the right computer with the right kind of browser on my desk at work or the fact that my work blocked the access, or I don't have time to take off from work for my hobby, doesn't mean that I don't indeed have the one finest beer in the land to enter.  Not letting my one beer and 14 other peoples' one finest beer in favor of some one person with 5 or 10 great beers and 5-10 mediocre ones just cheapens their win anyway....they are not necessarily competing against the best, just the most committed.

I don't see any other way unless there is a lottery.  Each person gets 15 chances and we draw randomly....kind of like hunting season.  There will be years you get to enter a number of beers, there will be years that you get to choose your best one, and sometimes you stay home.  Even in hunting you may wish to pass up an easy kill on a small prey to hope for the chance for

I am sure there are other workable ideas too, and they should be heard.  But I would vote for the widest possible inclusion even if that means changing or elimination of the Ninkasi tradition.
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Offline noghri_vir

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Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
« Reply #13 on: February 27, 2013, 10:05:04 AM »
I've stated this on another forum and I'll repost it here. This is how I propose changing the NHC entry problem if I'm elected to the governing committee.

To fix the server overload, registration would happen for each region on a cascading basis. For example, region 1 would open up at 12pm, region 2 at 1pm, ect ect until all regions have been opened up.

In addition, on the first day of registration only AHA members could enter in their home regions. You wouldn't have someone who lives in region 1 entering their beers in region 2.

Then on the next day, we would move over to open registration. During this period non AHA members could enter, and AHA members could enter in regions in which they don't live.

We would have to do a year of this and take a very close look at the numbers before we make any rash decisions on adjusting the max number of entries per person. If regions filled up too fast then we would need to see if it was due to a few amount of people entering a lot of entries, or if there were too many people in the region already. For example the Pacific Northwest region is overcrowd with mostly homebrewers from Oregon and Washington, it's really time to split those states up and make them their own region. We have great brewers and clubs here that have boycotted the NHC because of the hassle and this has also caused many of them to let their memberships lapse.

I also have a couple of other points about the NHC on my bio page. Head over there and if you like what you see please give me your vote:
http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/pages/membership/aha-governing-committee/election/chris-hummert


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Re: NHC 2013 Entry Problems - Possible Solutions?
« Reply #14 on: February 27, 2013, 10:15:54 AM »
I don't see any other way unless there is a lottery.  Each person gets 15 chances and we draw randomly....kind of like hunting season.  There will be years you get to enter a number of beers, there will be years that you get to choose your best one, and sometimes you stay home.

I think the problem with a lottery is that there are more brewers trying to enter than there are entries available. Odds are good you'd end up with one entry, with a very few people getting two and essentially no one getting three or more.

I personally wouldn't enter under any scenario where I'm limited to a small number of entries. Not because I'm trying for Ninkasi, but because my goal is to have one beer medal in the second round. I want to go up on stage, shake Charlie's hand, and bask in your applause... Bend you all to my will... Dance! Dance my puppets, dance!

Wait, what were talking about again?
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