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Points of information

In Debatekeeper version 0.7, I added a timer for points of information. It’s quite primitive at the moment: When you press the POI button, it starts a 15-second countdown. The countdown stops and resets if you press the button again, or if it’s allowed to run down to zero, then it flashes the screen blue and/or vibrates the phone after 15 seconds elapses.

At the moment, you can’t edit the POI length (i.e. it’s set at 15 seconds). You also can’t get it to make a sound (like a buzzer or bell). I haven’t done this because I don’t know what will be useful. This is where you come in. I need your feedback.

I’d really appreciate it if you’d send me your thoughts. Either e-mail me at, or send me a private message on Facebook (my username is cz.lee), or send a tweet to me at @czlee11. Specific questions in my mind follow:

POI length

I chose 15 seconds because WUDC and WSDC rules both limit POIs to 15 seconds, and I think that’s the de facto standard for all the other styles of which I’m aware.

I’d like to make this configurable, but I’m not sure whether POI length is style-dependent, i.e. it should just be specified in a debate styles using the XML files, or if it should be a user preferencei.e. it is not style-specific but is more likely to be at a CA’s (or an adjudicator’s!) discretion. Guidance from persons more knowledgeable than me would be appreciated.


I’ve opted not to implement a buzzer sound when the POI time elapses, because when I use it, I don’t think I can be bothered pressing the button again to stop the timer when the POI offerer has finished (I’m too busy writing down the POI)—and I don’t want a buzzer to interrupt the speaker on the floor unnecessarily! So I find it easier just to let it run down to zero as the speaker starts responding, then it will just flash blue—but only I will be looking at it so it’s okay.

I’ve seen judges say “fifteen” in the rare instance that the POI time does expire; I would do the same. In fact, another reason not to use a buzzer is that speakers probably won’t know what it means. “Fifteen” (or “order”) makes it clear that the intervention is to make the POI offerer stop talking.

Do you think you would find a buzzer (or other sound) useful? If so, how should it work, so as not to go off unnecessarily? If you have a take on this, please let me know (at the details above).

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