The Competition

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This year's competition began at a New York City boink in November 1999. There, it was discovered that in order to be completely Unipondial, we needed to have an [=SDC=] in January/February, because that's when it's summer in Oz. We mulled this revelation over for a while, posted a few teasers, and even queried for a panel. But in the end we noticed that Truly had just published her book, and further decided that a 6 month periodicity demanded too much from aue, and was an inappropriate intrusion upon aue's good nature. So we settled for a 12 month periodicity and that's that.

Then we started looking for early-life pictures of "RR"s. As one might expect, people complained that "Respected Regular" was presumptuous, and too far away from the globally desired net persona of "aue civilian". So we dropped "RR" in favour of the more appropriate "aueBC" (aue Beloved Contributor).

After that, someone noticed that a new theatrical release of The Last Emperor had a nice SDC question and sent it to us. This became Toughie #2.

The spring issue of Evergreen magazine contained a lovely map of Ambridge, and the "punting on the River Am" question was formulated...

An aueBC e-mailed us an impossibly difficult question about how to formulate a search query for Arthurian literature, i.e., how to locate all the works of literature where Morgana appeared with the minimum number of mouse clicks, pages, etc... After massaging this wonderful concept, Toughie #3 took shape.

And question 70 pays homage to the geeks that populate aue. While incomprehensible to the ordinary mortal, hexadecimal arithmetic is as plain as English to them...

The project to mount a "Formal and Totally Official History of the aue News Group Home Page" contained some old postings (supplied by Evan - thanks Evan!) gave us the "cat in the hat" question. We are still working on this project by the way...

And yet another boink provided the inspiration to add the Right -> Left, and Left -> Right pondian translation questions...

A personal research project of mine carried out in a number of London pubs and night spots on the perfect chip butty became Toughie #1. Everyone should know how to prepare a chip butty, and now we do...

The Manchester Guardian provided the "stillicide" and "wayzgoose" questions.

Of course, question 48, about the British Nuclear Police, was born because how could anything be complete without a reference to James Follett? We released teasers from the works of Lars and Truly...

And question 69! What a delight to bring the "brass monkeys" into the limelight...

Some questions were simply pulled from aue threads! "From Unchained to the Triple R", "Did anyone call?", "Unique word or phrase"...

And the rest came from aue civilians. From a pool of about 150 questions, we skinned it down to 90 questions and 5 toughies. Some of the others were released in the form of "teasers". The remaining issues were [1] the rules of the competition; and [2] the delivery of the competition.

The first issue, the rules of the competition, was hammered out in at least two boinks and MUCH email back and forth. Mike (an aue civilian whose aue credentials are above reproach) drafted several versions of the rules. After a while, a consensus evolved that NO RULES would be the best policy. If there should be confusion with respect to rules or policy, the Panel will make it up as they go along. With this, the rules were set and carved in granite.

The second issue, the delivery of the competition, was also discussed at boinks and in email. We settled upon what you eventually saw: 'n' questions posted every 'x' hours. This avoids the bandwidth problems experienced in the last competition, and gives everyone around the globe and equal opportunity to compete.

On 2 August at about 6 pm London time, Mike posted the first question. Gwen jumped in with the answer about an hour after that, and I booked it about 15 minutes later. About 2 hours later, Stephen jumped in and told us the answer in French! Two days later, Mike dropped back in and locked down the first Cormo.

And so it went. Following Mike (UK & Continental Europe) were Tootsie (North America, East Coast); Jitze (North America, West Coast); Peter (Pacific Rim & Oz); and Garry (South Asia). Each panelist posted two questions per day at intervals of roughly 5 hours. All the major English speaking regions in the world shared the same advantage of having someone post questions in their region at about 8 pm local time. Pretty neat, huh?

Shortly into the competition, we discovered a side-effect of having a very "Englishy Languagy" oriented competition. Questions were answered with alarming speed. Some participants observed a "speed of light paradox" where answers were propagated before the questions appeared!

In the background, the panel was frantically sorting their notes, comparing answers, and clarifying questions. In an interesting twist, some panelists had elected to fly blind! They didn't have the answers!

And in a related cock-up for the panelists who were supplied with the answers... Well... It turned out that some of the answers got lost somehow, and no one knew what the correct answers were anyway. And in one or two cases, the answer we had was wrong, "Balthazar" being the most painful case. These things happen.

For nine days and nine nights it continued. A mind-boggling 27 people showed up on the scoreboard. 98 questions were asked. While all this was happening, aue regulars submitted five additional questions to the panel. Three of them got posted, and the other two seemed to get lost somewhere. So it goes.

Editor's note: The staff and management of Totally Official dot Com are quite pleased with this year's competition. Accordingly, we reserve the right, in perpetuity, to make it up as we go along.

This editor's note has been brought to you by Totally Official dot Com. Have a nice day.


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