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Poke Feature - Do's and don't's

In the Spring of 2021, the developers added a “poke” feature in tabroom. This is particularly useful for virtual tournaments that use NSDA Campus because tabroom will send a text to anyone (competitor and judge) who has not been marked “present” (i.e., entered the NSDA Campus room). I often start “poking” missing people 15 min before the round is supposed to begin. To access the round status, tourney admin’s go to Tabbing…Status, and then click on “Round Status” tab. To pick a time slot and/or event, use the drop down menus in the upper right corner. Here is a screen shot of what it should look like:

The poke button is at the far right. Clicking on it during a tournament would send a text to anyone with a red dot next to their name or initials. A few warnings about this feature:

  1. The red dots are not 100% accurate. It is possible that a student or judge is marked with a red dot, but they are actually in the virtual room.
  2. Be wary of flighted events. Don’t poke Flight B competitors/judges prior to Flight A. It will just annoy them and/or make them think they aren’t where they are supposed to be.
  3. Be wary of extempers and double entered speech contestants. An extemper is probably in prep 15 min before the round is supposed to start. Don’t poke them. A student may be missing in a room of DI because they are currently in a different room competing in Duo. Don’t poke their DI round. To resolve these issues, the developers added a new feature over the summer. You can change the poke feature to be “judge only”. I have gotten in the habit of doing that for speech events where double entry in a time slot is permitted. This option is on the “online” set up screen for each event. To use this workaround, go to Settings…Events. Pick an event and then click on the “Online” tab. Toggle Status Screen: Poke judges only to Yes. Then, anytime you hit poke, messages are set only to judges. The obviously downside to this is that you are no longer able to poke missing contestants (if they are truly missing) from the status screen.

I think the upside of poking only judges when appropriate outweighs the downside of disabling poking contestants. If a contestant is missing, they risk being forfeited. If a judge is missing, it has a much greater potential to cause massive delays in a tournament. From the perspective of a tourney admin trying to stay on schedule, judges being there is more important than contestants being there.