Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Thinking about rules


Here are three general things I think about when I'm thinking about rules:

1. In general, fewer rules is better than more.

2. It can be useful to think about the opposite of a proposed rule and think about the effects.

If your employer requires you to get formal permission before spending more than $500, the opposite of the rule would be to prohibit you from getting permission before spending more than $500. Does the opposite of the rule substantially change the situation? In this case, I think it does.

If orienteering required following other orienteers, would that change the nature of the sport? Well, yeah, it'd completely change the sport.

In the context of the rules about GSP, the opposite of the rule is to require runners to wear GPS watches. Does that substantially change orienteering? I think it does not.

3. If you were starting from scratch, would you create the rule?

If you started a new business, would you require employees to seek permission before spending $500? You might. Or maybe you'd require permission at a higher (or lower) threshold. Or maybe you'd randomly follow up on purchases and make sure they were appropriate after the fact.

If you invented orienteering, would you have a rule about GPS watches? I wouldn't, but reasonable people might.

You can use these three ideas to think about all sorts of rules. Rules about doping or following mapping standards or providing child care at O' events, and so on. It doesn't necessarily give me an answer about whether or not to have a rule, but it helps me think through it.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:26 PM


It's interesting to see all the comments on various web sites regarding the new IOF rule. What is so sad is that IOF has instituted a rule wich really makes no sense. The rule only applies to WRE events and the like. Runners competing at that level would not benefit from trying to cheat using a GPS. Navigation and runing at that level happens so fast that using a GPS will simply be way to slow. Cheating using a GPS only makes sense for someone who usually finishes 1 hour or more behind the winner. Who cares if someone will make themself into a cheat in order to advance from number 67 to 65.
In general, I don't think you should have many rules that apply ONLY to certain events.

Cheating using a GPS only makes sense for someone who usually finishes 1 hour or more behind the winnerNot true. Anyone could find useful having a screen with arrow pointing to control & distance left. Especially if uncertain or about to making mistake. That's what current gps units can do with +- 10 meter accuracy.
Jagge, then you assume that the person in question would have access to the coordinates of the controls prior to the race i.e. have access to a map with controls. If that is the case I think the GPS is the lesser problem when it comes to breaking the rules and sportmanship in general.
We have long history of smuggling maps from forest to late startes, taking controls in wrong order (pin punching years) and copying pin punches with safety pins. And making shortcuts trough out of bounds areas, even in WOC level we have recently seen weird splits, a medalist must have either had motorcycle or have made shortcut (or Sport Ident system is not good enoug to be used for orienteering). Take your pick. It is not that bad idea to erase some cheating possibilities if it can be easily done without much harm. With this perspective banning running with big screens in front of noses is not so bad idea.

You know, it is really not that difficult for an early starter to take splits and smuggle the same device to late starter or drop somewhere to be picked up. The early starter might even simply just ask some organizer to take the unit to the late starter by saying he forgot to take it, might sometimes work if we openly think its just ok to use these.
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