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14 October 2009

Amsterdam EUDC 2010

Dear debaters of Europe,

Amsterdam EUDC 2010 will take place in another ten months and this is a first message from us, to tell you what to expect from us, and also to ask you a question. Please feel free to ask any question raised by this email, or things you had wanted to ask anyway. We can be contacted through

The dates of Amsterdam Euros could not be moved: we start on Sunday the 11th of July and will end on Thursday the 15th or Friday the 16th, depending on the amount of sponsorship we will get in. After inquiries from Council, we have tried to move the dates, but have had to decide that it was impossible to do so. We will be able to tell you the exact number of days before Worlds, which should be in time for you to book affordable tickets before the summer.

We hae concluded a deal with Best Western Hotels Amsterdam. You will stay in two hotels, Blue Tower and Blue Square hotel, which are a five-minute bike ride away from each other. The bed rooms will be mostly for two persons, although we have reserved some for three and four persons. Both hotels have a bar, lounging area, restaurant and wifi-access. Technically, one of the two is a three-star hotel, while the other one has four stars, but the difference is felt mostly in the spaciousness of the lobby, restaurant and bar area and not in the rooms at all. To get an impression, here are some pictures


The first phase of registration will start on the 1st of March. As always, N-1 rules apply. More information will be found on our website: well in time before registration starts.

Because of our experiences with previous Worlds and Euros tournaments, we are considering several new procedures for registration. Below, we will first give you reasons why we are considering a new system, then explain the new procedure we are considering (this is explained in more detail in the attached document) and the reasons we think it is more fair. Before we decide to implement it, or determine how to implement it, we would like to know your ideas and suggestions regarding registration. We would like to invite you to discuss this procedure, as well as potential other procedures, on our Facebook page . We are sending this email through several mailing list. It would, therefore, greatly facilitate the discussion if you do not answer directly, but post your comments on our discussion board.

The current system of registration, based on a first-registered-first-served basis has one major problem: registration usually fills up quickly. Even if institutions are not yet sure if they want to participate and with how many teams, it is essential to register quickly and with the maximum number of teams possible, because otherwise they will not get in. Many teams or institution which register cancel their registration afterwards and leave a spot for another team to take. These are often distributed over the whole waiting list, not on the basis of the number of team places claimed, but on the basis of 1 place to everyone, then 2 places to everyone, then 3. Even if, eventually, everyone who wants to participate gets in to the competition, this means that some institutions will not have applied for institutional funding, or will have to book tickets at a later date, for higher prices, and this may mean that some people cancel because other people had claimed spots they were unable to fill.

So the consequence of oversubscription is probably that fewer teams are participating or at least that the representation of some institutions is hampered by the fact that they end up having to wait for a definite yes. In addition, the first-registered-first-served system has another flaw. It is, ultimately, unfair or relies on arbitrary qualities to make a distinction between registration or waiting list status.

Registration fills up in around two minutes or less. This means that, sometimes, institutions that are well-known and well-respected for their presence and contributions to the debating community have to be absent from a tournament like Worlds or Euros, because the ability of the institution’s secretary to refresh a web page often enough and to fill in a form very fast are the qualities tested during a registration phase that lasts for such a short time. These are arbitrary qualities and should be irrelevant to determine who ends up registered. Other possible qualities that are measured are speed or qualitiy of internet connections in Europe (we do not think these differ significantly enough within Europe, but this does matter at Worlds) and capacity to read and write English quickly. The current system, in our eyes, has a slight, unintended bias towards institutions from English-speaking countries. If registration depends on seconds, being able to fill out a form slightly more quickly may be the real decider.

Thus, we see two problems with the current system: it engenders over-subscription which causes problems, and it determines participation status on the basis of arbitrary or unfair differences. The first problem can be solved partially by somehow taking into account whether institutions have (over)registered in the past and cancelled team places. However, there is no system in place on how to do this, yet, and it may not solve problems. The second part of the problem is not solved with this solution at all. We are, therefore, considering another solution, the proposal that can be found in the attachment, and is outlined below. We would like to know what you think of it, before we seriously consider whether and how it should be implemented.

Our proposed selection procedure basically consists of two steps: after an elongated first registration phase (of, say, 48 hours), we first select those institutions that have been present at all past four editions and grant them 2 team spots (and one for a judge), while teams that have been present at least 2 of the last 4 editions are guaranteed one team (and one judges slot if they want). We then look at whether all countries that are eligible for a reserved team spot have been granted one, have registered and/or we need to reserve one spot for them. This should distribute M team places from a total of N team places.
The remaining N-M teamplaces are assigned to institutions by lottery in the second step of the registration procedure. New institutions (which do not have a registered team yet) have an equal chance to send their first team compared to established institutions sending their second or third team. We will draw institutions instead of teams to ensure that it doesn't pay to register more teams than one is willing to send. In case this does not fill all N team spaces, we re-open registration for another round of the same procedure.

More details are described in a google doc.

As explained above, this system is not dependent on an irrelevant and difficult-to-control factor like registration speed. Our system rewards institutions that have shown commitment to university debating by continued presence at past editions. It also guarantees that at least one team (and one adjudicator) from every country that registers is present.

We believe, however, that there are no further criteria that grant ‘rights’ to team places. A lottery has the distinct advantage that it uses no criteria at all. Some institutions will be lucky, some will be disappointed, but they will not be so on the basis of their language capacities, or the number of times their secretary hits refresh.

We are considering ways in which we could add a third criteria granting some institutions three team spots automatically (for example a set number of ESL or main break positions in the past four years).We have chosen not to prioritize "new" institutions here, as this would effectively bring the team cap to 2 teams. In our system, established institutions have as fair a chance to register their third team as new institutions have to register at least one team. Furthermore, if the team cap allows it and if they are somewhat lucky, these institutions can also come with a higher number of teams, so there is no "law of gradual entrance". In this way, we hope to have found a balance between highly competitive C-teams and new promising institutions.

To reiterate: this is not the sole option we are considering to improve the current registration system. We believe that registration procedures should be updated to deal with the issues mentioned above. If you have other suggestions, or would like to comment on this proposal, we would like to invite you to our Facebook discussion pages.

With kind regards,
Reinier de Adelhart Toorop
Deputy Convenor Amsterdam EUDC 2010

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