FAQ

FYI:  I haven't updated this for the new scoring system.  I will soon.  Honest.  (Perhaps for some large value of "soon", thought)

What is the "Guess the Score" Contest?

It's a contest to guess the score of each Pacers game. It's run on Pacers Digest.

How do I play?

There will be an official guess thread posted for each game on the Indiana Pacers board on Pacers Digest. Make a post in that thread with your guess. Right before the game, the thread will be 'closed' and the guesses listed. After the game, the guesses will be scored and a winner posted.

What format do I use for my guess?

The first two numbers in your post are taken as your score. The text block immediately preceding the numbers is used to determine which team the number goes with. If the text block contains "Ind" or "Pacers", then the number after it is assumed to be the Pacers' score. Failing that, the parser tends to take the second number as the Pacers score but might not do that every time. Better to be on safe side. Also, formatting such as colors and bold and quotes and smilies and such can throw off RoboDoug. Use at your own risk.

That sounds confusing. Can I have some examples?

Sure. Here are some good ones:

Pacers 88
Knicks 87

Pacers-88,Knicks-87

Indy 103-83

Pacers 103
Bad guys 102

Knicks 87, Pacers 83

And here are some bad ones:

88-87 Pacers

Good guys 88
bad guys 87

Last time they played it was 88-87, it will be a higher-scoring game this time, so I'll go Pacers 93, Knicks 88.

Knicks win 90-82.

Pacers lose 90-82

90 Pacers
82 Knicks

Any other rules?

40 is the lowest point total you can guess, 190 is the highest. (The lowest regular season point total since 1990 is 49, and the highest is 173, so you should have plenty of room to guess.

How do I win?

The winner is the poster with the lowest 'OffBy'.

What's an 'OffBy' and how is it calculated?

'OffBy' is the total number of points your guess was 'off by'. It is calculated by comparing your guess for each team with their actual score. The difference between your picks for each team and their real score is added together. That is your "off by". Lowest wins. You pick Pacers 90 Knicks 80. The real score is Knicks 95 Pacers 81. You are off by 24. (90-81) + (95-80). Total score does not mater. Getting the winner correct does not matter.

What's the tie-breaker?

Nothing. A tie is a tie. We've had co-champions before.

I guessed it exactly right. Do I get a bonus?

Congratulations. No. Unless you consider having your victory listed in bold font a bonus.

I made my guess before tip-off, but the thread was already closed to guesses! Can you add it?

No. Manually adding guesses is a pain in the butt.

The thread wasn't closed before the game. Can I make a guess?

Sometimes a network or computer problem can keep the thread from getting closed on time. RoboDoug will disqualify any guesses after game time.

Can I make multiple guesses?

You can, but RoboDoug only counts the second one.

That's not my guess! What happened?

If you made a second post in the guess thread, quoting another poster, RoboDoug might have picked up the quoted guess. Quotes really mess him up. Or you made a post with something that RoboDoug though was a guess. (Or, it could be a bug. I have found a case where he occasionally sees a space where we don't. I think it might be a bug in the underlying HTTP library, but I haven't found it yet.)

When are the guess threads posted?

Usually 2 days before a game.

When are the guess threads closed?

Approximately 15 minutes before the game start time.

What happens if the thread doesn't get posted?

It is possible that computer or network problems could cause the thread not to get posted.  If the problem's on my end, I usually notice pretty quickly and get it posted.  Sometimes they get posted late, but generally unless it's really late I'll go ahead and let the contest go.  Sometimes Will Galen will start a thread if RoboDoug doesn't and I somehow can't get it done (like I'm on vacation).  In that case, I'll usually tell RoboDoug to just use that one.

I made my guess before the 'thread closed' post, where is it?

You might have made your guess in a format RoboDoug doesn't understand. It's also possible you made your guess after RoboDoug read the guesses, but before he posted them.

What do I win?

Nothing. Sorry. The recognition of your peers will have to do.

Nothing?

Well, actually I usually make a 'plaque' for the season champions, one that's suitable for using as an avatar. You might have seen a few of them.

How is the winner for the season determined?

The poster who as won the most contests for a given season is the winner. Only regular season and post-season wins count. Preseason wins do not count.

Who's won?

2002-2003: SycamoreKen
2003-2004: RoboDoug
2004-2005: Burtrem Redneck
2005-2006: peacers, RoboDoug
2006-2007: tora tora
2007-2008: Will Galen, RoboDoug
2008-2009: Alabama-Redneck, mildlysane
2009-2010: RoboDoug
2010-2011: RoboDoug
2011-2012: RoboDoug

More information, including the winners' plaques, can be found on the Winners page.

I want more detail than a list of winners! Do you have anything more?

Oh yes, much more.  Fulls stats for every poster all the way back to 2002 can be found on the Poster Statistics page.

When are the stats updated?

Periodically.  In other words, whenever I get around to it.  I'll automate it some day, but right now it's not a high priority.

What's the 'WillsGame' column?

It just indicates if you picked the correct winner in the game.

What's 'WillsGame' used for?

Nothing. One year Will Galen decided to run a little contest where posted would guess the correct winner of the game. Some people enjoyed it, so I decided to would record the winner and maybe automate that. I never did.  I'll probably remove it one of these days.

You should only count the guess if they get the winning team right!

This has been brought up a couple of times.  It might make it a little harder, but we've been doing it this way for 10 years, so I don't see much point in changing it now.  It doesn't seem to like it would be any better or any worse, just different.  And different isn't a good enough reason to change.  (I do have all the guesses and could re-score all the games to see exactly what happens, but again there doesn't seem to be much point.)

Who is RoboDoug?

RoboDoug is a computer program. Really.

Why didn't RoboDoug record my guess?

There's only a limited number of guess formats that RoboDoug can understand. He's a computer program, remember. I tried to make him flexible enough to understand most common formats, but the number of possible formats is quite large. Sorry. If you want to get 'cute' with your guess and RoboDoug doesn't understand it, that's life.

Can I send RoboDoug my guess via email or PM?

No. He doesn't get email and he doesn't read PMs. He hates you.

What's RoboDoug written in?

Java. With a MySQL database behind it.

Who wrote RoboDoug?

Doug. Duh. I still run and maintain him.

How does RoboDoug come up with his guesses?

I don't know.

What do you mean you don't know! You wrote him, right?

I programmed his guessing algorithms using Genetic Programming, then 'evolved' the guessing logic. I know what data he uses, but not how.

Genetic Algorithms? Why not a neural network?

I tried them. It wasn't accurate enough. I couldn't seem to find a network architecture that worked well.

How long has this contest been running?

Since at least the 2001-2002 season.

Who appointed you "Guess the Score" Czar?

Nobody, really. Somebody, I don't remember who, did the contest on RATS in 2001. The next year, nobody stepped up to run it, so I took over posting and scoring the contest.

Why did you write a computer program to do it?

Because doing it by hand is a royal pain in the butt. The first year I used a spreadsheet and did it 'by hand'. It was very time consuming. I had some new technologies I wanted to learn, so I figured this would be a good exercise to learn them.

Why don't you take RoboDoug to Vegas?

He was evolved toward minimizing 'off-by', not beating point spreads. That's a different problem.

So re-write him to use point spreads!

It is both an interesting and difficult problem. But, it is very difficult problem and would really be very time consuming. I just don't have the time nor that much interest.  And honestly, I doubt I would come up with anything worthwhile - an average error of 17 points a game isn't going to cut it.

Why don't you add 'this cool feature' to RoboDoug?

If it's a good idea, I might. I've got a list of things I want to do, though, so it might be a while.

Aren't you afraid RoboDoug will try to harm humans at some point?

I keep him locked in a rack. Theoretically, he might be to take over the tape autochanger and use it to somehow vibrate the screws holding him loose. But that's a risk we'll just have to take.

What version of RoboDoug is this?

OK, nobody has really asked that question, but this (1/3/2010) is at least the third major rewrite. That doesn't count things like adjusting to the move between the IndyStar and here and several bulletin board format changes (vBulletin, etc), and adapting to changes to where he gets the final score from). I have hundreds (and likely thousands) of hours in RoboDoug.