Yellow Cards, behavior and penalties


Before this derails into a conversation about paint…

What can TDs do to communicate their expectations ahead of an event? I’m running one this weekend as part of a family-friendly show and I’d like to keep the swearing to a minimum, but it’s a pump-and-dump, so no real opportunities for announcements.

Do I put wording to the effect of, “Note that this tournament is being held as part of a family-friendly show, so players are to refrain from swearing loudly. Outbursts and aggressive behaviour will be addressed by the TD,” into the rules that I know hardly anyone reads?

Do I put up posters saying, “Please don’t yell! Outbursts and aggressive behaviour will be addressed by the TD,” or similar?

Seriously looking for guidance here. There are clearly differing opinions and more than once the idea of communicating expectations has come up. I’m trying to figure out the best way to do that without seeming authoritarian because I really do want to keep it light and fun for everyone.


Put it in your rules, it’s not there currently, I’ve checked :wink:


But the reality is, words matter!


Yep. If they don’t read it, that’s okay. It’s CYA (cover you ass) should they claim it was not communicated. I would maybe try to call attention to where the rules are posted to some place people do read.

This wouldn’t hurt either.


The example is used to disprove the logic that “the words I’m using should have no barring on the outcome.” - The words do matter. The analogy used does not need to be equals to make the point, they show that the language used is relevant. You can pick any less severe examples - the theorem holds the same.

Context matters to analyze your intent - But your intent is not the subject being judged here. It’s the impact the language has on OTHER PEOPLE. The entire discussion here is about how actions by a player are IMPACTING OTHER PEOPLE - not the person’s intent.

As stated numerous times in threads like the sexism thread - You do not get to decide if the other party is offended or not by your language. That is the world we have now. You don’t have to agree with it, but that’s the standard people are being judged by. And that is how we get into a situation where person one does something they see as harmless, but other people are negatively impacted. That is what is being discussed here as what should be policed or not.

You don’t get to decide if someone else is offended by your action - innocent or not. People are trying to regulate behavior that has a negative impact on those around the individual.

Because the scene has grown outside of the traditional competitive player base. The scene has grown far more at the edges than in the core audience… and why sites like Tiltforums still have active user counts in the dozens while the pinball scene has a whole has exploded.

I mean, I’m not arguing my opinion of what is acceptable or not… frankly I don’t care what you or anyone says personally… but I can understand the rational, articulated position people like chuck are qualifying as having a negative impact on players in their experiences.

I don’t have to support a position to be able to articulate it or disprove a counter point. Personally I think everyone should just have thicker skin. But it’s not my opinion alone that drives the center…


One very prominent swear-jar with a $20 minimum penalty would get the point across.

  • If you want a quiet tournament - designate all proceeds to charity
  • If you don’t mind theatrics - designate all proceeds to the prize pool


Exactly. People aren’t being sexually explicit when talking about hitting a spinner repeatedly, nor are they having thoughts about women at all… but the language has been deemed offensive to others who hear it, regardless of your original intent. The language is taboo now - regardless of intent or context.

We keep coming back to the same point IMO. The environment for events is not universal, and it should be up to organizers to clearly communicate and set expectations for behavior for their event. And players can either abide by those rules, or simply opt to find other environments.

The idea there needs to be ‘one standard’ negates people want different things out of playing IMO. At least if we are focusing on the idea of ‘organized competitive events with an intended public audience or replay’… you could at least filter out some of these "well in my beer league, we do this…’ tangents/counters.


I guess you missed all the hub-bub about the York Show shirt… and people hating on the organizer’s choices vs simply opting for “that’s not a shirt for me…”


You have the opportunity to speak to each competitor 1:1 when they register right? That’s when you should be sure each player is aware of your rules and expectations. You can chose whatever format does that best for you. Do you hand them a flyer? Do you point them to a sign? Do you point them to the web? Do you vocalize a short list of expectations?

If it’s something you want to emphasize at your event, invest in doing so by taking the time to ensure players are aware.


I’d just like to point out that if you’re playing at a location with minors around, either in the competition or in the venue, swearing should automatically be off the table. You don’t need a TD to tell you not to be an ass in front of the children.

…which can be easier said than done for those of us who have made a bad habit out of cussin’ after a bad ball! Lately the kids are in every league and tournament I’m playing in (which is awesome). It’s on me to correct my evil ways. :zipper_mouth_face:


I don’t like obscene outbursts myself. But I would like to point out that the kids argument is probably a red herring. In this age of internet access, it is unlikely that I’d be able to come up with any word that kids aged eight or older haven’t heard thousands of times already. Quite possibly, many of them could teach me how to do worse :frowning:

This doesn’t mean that it’s OK to misbehave at a tournament. The kids might well disapprove, but they can most likely deal with it; they aren’t made out of sugar.


You’re right in that I wouldn’t be worried much about the kids, it’s the parents and their expectations that I’d have concerns over. Some don’t care what their kids hear, others may be helicopter parents. The whole point is to try to avoid having people feeling uncomfortable at your event - make it enjoyable so that everyone comes back. If kids are present, best to err on the side of caution and try to keep things clean. OTOH running a tourney like a church service may also discourage attendance… it goes both ways.


Actually their are a couple pretty solid reasons for this but I don’t feel like being banned today so I’ll keep my mouth shut. But recognition of this is at least a step in the right direction…

And before you ask, “why do you stay then?” - I’ll answer it right now. I stay because I want to help with tech advise, rules knowledge and to provide my experiences to try and help better the community. I always seem to get caught up in these types of threads though because I’m passionate about people trying to tell me what I can and can’t do.


Can you elaborate on this as I don’t recall talk about something of this line of speak. Are we talking about:

  • “You nailed it.”
  • “keep ripping it.”
  • “you ripped it.”


And that’s exactly why a lot of people are here - it’s a huge discussion with our future and we want to get it right. Honestly, thanks for the passion!

Getting back to this, the most organic way for the community to maintain itself is… the community itself. When I had my last nuclear moment where I hit a tipping point (IMaiden loss due to a slew of minor malfunctions, pure malfunction losses have been known to set me off), what was really reassuring with the Pittsburgh community was that I had essentially talked to/been reprimanded by 8-10 people before the TD even mentioned it’s occurrence/rightfully carded me…one week later. A caring community does much, much more good than a TD with a heavy hand.

Not saying we don’t need some kinda TD handling, but how can other places/people/TDs work towards a more positive community where this happens? I know some top players in Pittsburgh who went through phases in their growth and met the same thing, so it’s not a recent occurrence.


No, there is another phrase that used to be commonplace which is far more explicit and offensive. To avoid derailing this thread, please see: Sexism in Pinball: Practical Examples


SpinnerApe will crush all from atop the Empire State building!


This thread makes me never want to go to a tournament again for fear everything I do or say is being scrutinized.

We’re humans, humans have emotions, emotions can run high. This is not something that should be punished.


As a TD, I’m not trying to punish emotions. What I’m trying to curtail is misogyny and aggression.

If you swear loudly at my family-friendly tournament, I’m going to give you an unofficial warning to make sure you’re aware of the expectations for the event, but if you yell, “You stupid bitch!” at the machine, that’s a hard and fast yellow card.

I don’t want to get in the way of anyone’s fun, but I also want to foster a positive environment.

The heavy discussion has mostly been about what constitutes and what should be done to maintain a positive environment. Clearly there are different views about the degree that someone’s behaviour should be regulated for the comfort of others. :slight_smile:

Hopefully we all have the same goal of making the community better, even if we can’t agree on how it should be done!


Ugh that statement sounds eerily familiar to one in sexism in pinball. Just like how being aware of what we say to others is something worth being conscious of, so is how we act.

I’ve been joking about this a bit at league but I’m thinking I really will get a cross stitch to hang up at the parlor that says “Own Your Drains.” Pinball is a game with an eventual end. Such is how it was designed. It is just a game though, and people are held responsible for their feelings reacting to a game. I’m not gonna invite the friend that flipped the monopoly board over back. I’m also not gonna be ok with people rage tilting so hard they lift a leg up.

If the boundaries of what’s acceptable and what’s unacceptable behavior alludes you, perhaps you should stay away from tournaments. Or, use your better judgement, play in tournaments and be graceful with a penalty card should you get one.

Largely I think this thread is here to help curb toxicity before it takes hold like it has in so many other hobbies. It’s not a witch hunt, please don’t treat it as such.