Re: Ticket #5803: ZoomDown - evidence of potential cheating

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Re: Ticket #5803: ZoomDown - evidence of potential cheating

Post by JackHurst » Tue Oct 20, 2020 7:16 am

In response to https://www.apterous.org/ticket_view.ph ... c=0#p73481 (where I cannot comment because I am no longer an Apterous subscriber)

On Friday there was a 2-3 hour Zoom call between the ZD team and several community members (who have a very strong record of helping keep the community cheat free). A comprehensive case was put forward to the ZoomDown team, and despite the majority of the team being convinced there was a compelling case for cheating (with them saying there was more evidence for James than for the other player that they had "retire"), they did not take the decisive action to remove James from the show.

Instead of being removed, James was talked to in private (I wasn't there so I don't know what was said) where he denied everything, and when asked what he was looking at all of the time to the bottom left of screen, he said it was dead space. This is the same dead space that James looks at when reading out a text from his Mum just before his first ZD game in series 2. Hmmmm.
The outcome of this is that he ends up playing a pretty mediocre game on ZoomDown last night, well below the standard he has displayed previously.

This approach proves nothing. He's either a cheat who no longer has his cheating tools, or he's an innocent guy crumbling under the scrutiny that he knows he is under. BIt's not like we know this guy can play under pressure. *Ahem* 817 10 10 7 7 6 2 ;)

There's a quite a lot of people (many of whom are wishing to remain private) who don't really know James at all, but having seen the evidence of ZoomDown alone are very sure he cheated on ZoomDown. It appears that those who are defending James right now are those who feel personally connected to him and at this point in time, that personal connection is clouding their ability to judge the cold hard evidence. I would say this especially true for the one ZD team members who was singlehandedly defending him in this meeting and openly admitted that if he is a cheat, then they feel personally manipulated and it would be a devastating blow for them to take.

I'm sorry for making some information which should have been kept private public, however I am so dismayed at how this situation has been handled by the ZoomDown team that I feel like I've had to state it.

It has taken an extraordinary amount of self restraint for me to say nothing until now, and I'm very aware that this post might come across as sour grapes because I was somebody who lost to James on ZD. I don't care that I lost and I'm not looking for a way to get let back on. All I want is for the rest of the community to not be cheated and manipulated no longer. If somebody could share a link to this post on the apterous ticket (with the message body copied too), I would be very grateful.

Thx Jack
xxxxx

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Re: Re: Ticket #5803: ZoomDown - evidence of potential cheating

Post by Ian Volante » Tue Oct 20, 2020 8:10 am

Last night was a difficult thing to judge. James was clearly more uncertain on his word declarations, but mostly kept up with Sam; his numbers were poorer, but apart from one round which was much easier than it looked, the other miss was pretty tough I'd say. Arguable that older James would have got it? No idea, can't go back and test this.

Beyond that, I can't add much to what I said on the ticket yesterday.
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Re: Re: Ticket #5803: ZoomDown - evidence of potential cheating

Post by Gavin Chipper » Tue Oct 20, 2020 8:13 am

It's posted.

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Re: Re: Ticket #5803: ZoomDown - evidence of potential cheating

Post by Jon Corby » Fri Oct 23, 2020 11:24 am

Has he owned up yet? :roll:

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Re: Re: Ticket #5803: ZoomDown - evidence of potential cheating

Post by Martin Long » Fri Oct 23, 2020 1:40 pm

I looked at that 6S in the opening post a number of times now and can only get 816. Is the solution an absolutely mental one?

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Re: Re: Ticket #5803: ZoomDown - evidence of potential cheating

Post by L'oisleatch McGraw » Fri Oct 23, 2020 1:53 pm

You can view the solution (and an example of the cheating) here.

When asked what the thing to his right that he continually glances at was, his response was "nothing." It was at that point that everyone knew that he had cheated, and furthermore that he's horrendously bad at lying. There are still some people who defend him to the hilt. (The lengthy discussion on the Apto ticket consists largely of people defending him and 'nicing' each others comments) "Blind loyalty", I believe is the appropriate term for such behaviour.
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Re: Ticket #5803: ZoomDown - evidence of potential cheating

Post by JackHurst » Fri Oct 23, 2020 1:55 pm

I think it's probably best this ticket gets closed now, just like the apto thread has been.

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Re: Ticket #5803: ZoomDown - evidence of potential cheating

Post by Jon Corby » Fri Oct 23, 2020 2:24 pm

JackHurst wrote:
Fri Oct 23, 2020 1:55 pm
I think it's probably best this ticket gets closed now, just like the apto thread has been.
Why?

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Re: Ticket #5803: ZoomDown - evidence of potential cheating

Post by Paul Anderson » Fri Oct 23, 2020 2:26 pm

JackHurst wrote:
Fri Oct 23, 2020 1:55 pm
I think it's probably best this ticket gets closed now, just like the apto thread has been.
I agree. We are no further forward than after the private meeting, just a whole lot more sideways.

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Re: Re: Ticket #5803: ZoomDown - evidence of potential cheating

Post by Ben Wilson » Fri Oct 23, 2020 2:31 pm

If there's genuine discussion, then the thread can continue, but any further name-calling (including at James) and it gets canned.

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Re: Re: Ticket #5803: ZoomDown - evidence of potential cheating

Post by Gavin Chipper » Fri Oct 23, 2020 2:40 pm

L'oisleatch McGraw wrote:
Fri Oct 23, 2020 1:53 pm
You can view the solution (and an example of the cheating) here.

When asked what the thing to his right that he continually glances at was, his response was "nothing." It was at that point that everyone knew that he had cheated, and furthermore that he's horrendously bad at lying. There are still some people who defend him to the hilt. (The lengthy discussion on the Apto ticket consists largely of people defending him and 'nicing' each others comments) "Blind loyalty", I believe is the appropriate term for such behaviour.
In the ticket you said he was innocent. Innocent until proven guilty. What's changed? (The evidence already existed.)

(Genuine discussion.)

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Re: Re: Ticket #5803: ZoomDown - evidence of potential cheating

Post by Jon Corby » Fri Oct 23, 2020 2:53 pm

Ben Wilson wrote:
Fri Oct 23, 2020 2:31 pm
If there's genuine discussion, then the thread can continue, but any further name-calling (including at James) and it gets canned.
What do you mean by "further" name-calling?

I am staggered, honestly, that anybody can watch that footage and think it's genuine. It's both hilarious, and infuriating at the same time.

That solve would be eyebrow raising by anybody, at any time, under any conditions.

Then you find out it's by somebody with greyed out games on apterous.

Then you look at their max chart and find a ridiculously steep peak up to the point they get warned for cheating and games expunged... followed by a sharp drop-off (apterous can't make you sit on your bunkbed).

Then you actually see the footage, and see somebody blatantly looking off to the side at *something* constantly throughout the round (even while penning their formula ffs), the ridiculous overacting and astonished declaration, and there's just no way.

So you ask for an explanation.

What were you looking at? "Nothing"
How do you explain your solve? "I only had 813 with half the time gone, so I started multiplying up the target by the numbers"

Uh-huh. That sounds like a great strategy for 6 small. Let's take away one of the numbers, and make the target much further away!

"But I only thought of doing it because there were two tens"

Uh-huh. So you didn't think to, you know, try and multiply them by 8 first, which was easily achievable in a couple of ways, instead of 49?

There have been some sensational solves on Countdown throughout the years, sure - but they've all followed some kind of logic/pattern/trick. There's literally nothing here. No reason or excuse for what he was looking at. No logic given for the solution.

That anybody is still convinced after all this, is frankly ludicrous. Does it count as name-calling if I say that James is making a mug out of everybody sticking up for him the longer he allows them to carry on?

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Re: Ticket #5803: ZoomDown - evidence of potential cheating

Post by L'oisleatch McGraw » Fri Oct 23, 2020 3:24 pm

Jon Corby wrote:
Fri Oct 23, 2020 2:24 pm
JackHurst wrote:
Fri Oct 23, 2020 1:55 pm
I think it's probably best this ticket gets closed now, just like the apto thread has been.
Why?
+1

Transparency is key.
There is more genuine discussion to be had.
Let the topic run its course, and die a natural death.

If it is still open, I will revisit this later with a lengthy reply.
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Re: Re: Ticket #5803: ZoomDown - evidence of potential cheating

Post by Gavin Chipper » Fri Oct 23, 2020 3:24 pm

Jon Corby wrote:
Fri Oct 23, 2020 2:53 pm
Ben Wilson wrote:
Fri Oct 23, 2020 2:31 pm
If there's genuine discussion, then the thread can continue, but any further name-calling (including at James) and it gets canned.
What do you mean by "further" name-calling?
Dickhead.

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Re: Re: Ticket #5803: ZoomDown - evidence of potential cheating

Post by Fiona T » Fri Oct 23, 2020 3:42 pm

Jon Corby wrote:
Fri Oct 23, 2020 11:24 am
Has he owned up yet? :roll:
What's this intended to achieve?

Regardless of where you stand on James's guilt/innocence, the matter was dealt with.

As Simpatico said on the apto thread, the aim is (or should be) to get cheating to stop.

If James was cheating, he's certainly not now.

So this appears to be about getting a 'confession' to satisfy your own over-inflated ego and be proven 'right'.

It starts with telling the lad that if he doesn't confess he'll be publicly shamed. That happened. Hard to see it as anything other than bullying when good old Jon Corby, who hasn't played on apto in well over three years, hasn't commented on a ticket in probably nearly as long, and I'd wager had never watched zoomdown gets wheeled out to stick the boot in.

Despite the threat of that thread, and the thread itself, no confession was forthcoming.

So what do bullies do next? They remind him they're still there, waiting round the corner to duff him over.

Probably easier if you just visit York, hang him upside down and attach electrodes to his testicles.

That should get you your confession.

Cheating in a game we all care about is bad. Bullying is far far worse.
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Re: Ticket #5803: ZoomDown - evidence of potential cheating

Post by JackHurst » Fri Oct 23, 2020 4:07 pm

Jon Corby wrote:
Fri Oct 23, 2020 2:24 pm
JackHurst wrote:
Fri Oct 23, 2020 1:55 pm
I think it's probably best this ticket gets closed now, just like the apto thread has been.
Why?
Well since there's some interesting discussion gathering momentum I guess we may as well keep it open a while longer...
Fiona T wrote:
Fri Oct 23, 2020 3:42 pm
So this appears to be about getting a 'confession' to satisfy your own over-inflated ego and be proven 'right'.
Name calling is the weakest form of argument, Fiona. I expect better.

Fiona T wrote:
Fri Oct 23, 2020 3:42 pm
It starts with telling the lad that if he doesn't confess he'll be publicly shamed. That happened. Hard to see it as anything other than bullying when good old Jon Corby, who hasn't played on apto in well over three years, hasn't commented on a ticket in probably nearly as long, and I'd wager had never watched zoomdown gets wheeled out to stick the boot in.
Jon Corby didn't do this, Jon O'Neill (allegedly) did. Stop confusing everybody who disagrees with you as one mob acting together. People have made their own minds up on the evidence independently and (some) have made their opinions on the matter clear, independently of each other.
Fiona T wrote:
Fri Oct 23, 2020 3:42 pm
Cheating in a game we all care about is bad. Bullying is far far worse.
You're just making wrong accusations of bullying here. Jon has been consistently asking direct questions that warrant a coherent explanation to convince him James wasn't cheating, and those explanations have not been forthcoming. In fact, James and those defending James seem to have continued to post in that thread while completely ignoring Jon's very valid questions on the matter. Having had some run-ins with Jon in the past on this forum, I'd say he's being a helluva lot nicer about this than he could have been!

Would you say that a barrister cross examining a witness statement in a court of law also counts as bullying?

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Re: Re: Ticket #5803: ZoomDown - evidence of potential cheating

Post by Jon Corby » Fri Oct 23, 2020 4:09 pm

"Bullies"

Brilliant, so on one side you have a cheat, and a cluster of people who want to defend and protect that cheat.

On the other you have the people outraged by cheating, who want to see it acknowledged, stamped out and justice served.

And they're the bad guys?

Twisted. Genuinely.

He may not cheat again, sure. Or he may, since he's surrounded with enablers, so why not? But what about Jack now? Do we remember that 6s as the greatest solve ever, or do we throw it in the bin?

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Re: Re: Ticket #5803: ZoomDown - evidence of potential cheating

Post by JackHurst » Fri Oct 23, 2020 4:11 pm

Fiona T wrote:
Fri Oct 23, 2020 3:42 pm
Cheating in a game we all care about is bad. Bullying is far far worse.
Just out of curiosity, where does systematically manipulating and deceiving your closest friend rank among these?

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Re: Re: Ticket #5803: ZoomDown - evidence of potential cheating

Post by Jon Corby » Fri Oct 23, 2020 4:17 pm

I should also add Fiona, this is just a particular bugbear of mine. It's not because Jono's my mate so I need to back him up, or that my Jack's my mate (erm) and got wronged, I've always been like this about all cheats. I've relentlessly gone after them on here/apterous in the past, I hate it. (Never been wrong on one either, even when the confession took years to come out.)

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Re: Re: Ticket #5803: ZoomDown - evidence of potential cheating

Post by JackHurst » Fri Oct 23, 2020 4:44 pm

Jon Corby wrote:
Fri Oct 23, 2020 4:09 pm
But what about Jack now?
Things I have done for ZoomDown
  • Agreed to play Conor in ZD season 1 as my first game so there could be a rematch of 30BC.
  • Offered technical assistance and feature ideas for ZD series 2 as well as volunteering to help with production if needed.
  • Spent weeks practising for ZD season 2, getting excited to back on.
  • Volunteered to play Luke because I thought it would be an entertaining game.
  • Set a high score against Luke in a very entertaining game.
  • Played well enough in my 2nd game to help force out a ridiculous (obviously) cheaty 6 small solve live on Camera
  • Remained graceful and composed on camera in spite of being very doubtful at the time at the time (I even had to clap and congratulate James on his max game even though he cheated that numbers game AND he didn't even solve the conundrum ffs)
  • Been part of discussions with other community members on the topic of the cheating for over a week, and had many sleepless nights over the matter.
  • Helped build a case to put forward to the ZD team to protect ZD (and the ZD viewers and players, and the CD community in general) from further cheating
  • Given up a Friday evening to participate in a 2 1/2 hour meeting to discuss the matter with the ZD team and a few others.
Things Zoomdown has done for me:
  • Promised to have somebody in the Zoom call on the Thursday episode (James Vs Phil, James vs Jonny) to specifically watch James for signs of cheating
  • Went ahead with the Thursday episode without that person in the call
  • Listened to the case from myself and a few others in the 2 1/2 hour Friday meeting
  • Agreed to resolve the matter
  • Allowed James back on the show on the next Monday!
Things ZoomDown Team has not done for me:
  • Thanked me for being a good sport (To his Credit, Paul has thanked me individually. Paul's decent bloke.)
  • Apologised to me for the manner in which I was turfed out.
Last edited by JackHurst on Fri Oct 23, 2020 7:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Ticket #5803: ZoomDown - evidence of potential cheating

Post by JackHurst » Fri Oct 23, 2020 4:49 pm

I was supposed to be a good boy and not comment further on this matter after the original post, but some of the comments and behaviour from people has just made me want to smash my head through a window. What a farce.

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Re: Re: Ticket #5803: ZoomDown - evidence of potential cheating

Post by Jon Corby » Fri Oct 23, 2020 4:56 pm

My real aim all along has been to unleash the maniac behind that politely clapping, congratulating, tea-sipping facade.

Now we can close the thread.

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Re: Re: Ticket #5803: ZoomDown - evidence of potential cheating

Post by L'oisleatch McGraw » Fri Oct 23, 2020 5:12 pm

Jon Corby wrote:
Fri Oct 23, 2020 4:56 pm
My real aim all along has been to unleash the maniac behind that politely clapping, congratulating, tea-sipping facade.
Amen.

I also forgot to thank Jack for his efforts in making Zoomdown the success that it is...
How remiss of me! :lol:
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Re: Re: Ticket #5803: ZoomDown - evidence of potential cheating

Post by Paul Anderson » Fri Oct 23, 2020 5:16 pm

I think all this heartache could have been avoided had Jono not gone public. I'm not sure why it was ever put on Apterous. At least here is a place to discuss all things CD, of which ZD is a part.
We had a very reasonable meeting where all the evidence was heard, we decided to put this to James and he denied all. We agreed to put measures in place for the following episode, as we were left with no other choice in the absence of categorical proof or admission of guilt. The subsequent kangaroo court simply ended up with exactly the same view after much shame and public wrangling. I understand our decision was not to your liking, but we were unable to pursue the matter any further. This decision should have been respected as it was reached in good faith and was reached by those responsible for it, however distasteful you may have found it.
I expressed my gratitude on Apto and in person to those who work tirelessly behind the scenes to expose any cheating in our game, but the important words here are behind the scenes, work that could have continued until a final verdict was forthcoming. This method of publicly shaming someone is deeply flawed and was always likely to fail in such a high-profile case, where the person accused has lots of support from within the game. For that reason alone, our original decision should have been respected.

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Re: Re: Ticket #5803: ZoomDown - evidence of potential cheating

Post by Jon Corby » Fri Oct 23, 2020 5:27 pm

I respect your decision Paul inasmuch as it’s your tournament and obviously you can run it how you like. (I’ve tried to reword that several times so it doesn’t sound like I’m maligning it. That’s not my intention at all.)

If you think that means I should shut up and accept your verdict that no cheating occurred, when I’ve seen it blatantly with my own eyes, then I’ll respectfully disagree.

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Re: Re: Ticket #5803: ZoomDown - evidence of potential cheating

Post by Paul Anderson » Fri Oct 23, 2020 5:31 pm

Not quite, more that the work could have gone on quietly in the background ahead of the finals. Personally I would like to see the creation of a panel to arbitrate on such matters, where we and the contestants all agree to them having the final say in such matters. This body however would have to be fully visible and accountable.

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Re: Re: Ticket #5803: ZoomDown - evidence of potential cheating

Post by Jon Corby » Fri Oct 23, 2020 5:35 pm

I think not having strong personal connections between the panel and the accused would be a good idea as well. I don’t think a more impartial panel would have taken long to come to a different decision.

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Re: Re: Ticket #5803: ZoomDown - evidence of potential cheating

Post by Gavin Chipper » Fri Oct 23, 2020 6:50 pm

When in the past some other player was thrown out for cheating did they admit it? If not, was the evidence stronger in that case?

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Re: Re: Ticket #5803: ZoomDown - evidence of potential cheating

Post by Graeme Cole » Fri Oct 23, 2020 8:02 pm

Jon Corby wrote:
Fri Oct 23, 2020 5:27 pm
If you think that means I should shut up and accept your verdict that no cheating occurred
Whose verdict is it that no cheating occurred? I don't think anyone from ZoomDown has said "I am satisfied that game was completely legitimate". Rather, I get the impression they've accepted there's reasonable suspicion but they haven't been able to prove those suspicions to a standard with which they'd be comfortable yeeting a player out of a tournament and publicly labelling them a cheat.

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Re: Re: Ticket #5803: ZoomDown - evidence of potential cheating

Post by Paul Anderson » Fri Oct 23, 2020 8:19 pm

Correct Graeme

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Re: Re: Ticket #5803: ZoomDown - evidence of potential cheating

Post by Paul Anderson » Fri Oct 23, 2020 8:23 pm

Gavin Chipper wrote:
Fri Oct 23, 2020 6:50 pm
When in the past some other player was thrown out for cheating did they admit it? If not, was the evidence stronger in that case?
Yes, we felt the evidence was clear, plus we were unanimous.

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Re: Re: Ticket #5803: ZoomDown - evidence of potential cheating

Post by Jon Corby » Fri Oct 23, 2020 8:25 pm

Well a verdict of “not guilty” was returned, if you’d rather I word it that way.

Yes it’s a tough call, but one that’s already been made previously, as Gev mentioned. It would be interesting to know what’s different.

Edit: okay, I think we know.

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Re: Re: Ticket #5803: ZoomDown - evidence of potential cheating

Post by Paul Anderson » Fri Oct 23, 2020 8:33 pm

Jon Corby wrote:
Fri Oct 23, 2020 8:25 pm
Well a verdict of “not guilty” was returned, if you’d rather I word it that way.
I guess you could call it not guilty by virtue of reasonable doubt, and yes that sucks if you think he’s guilty, but both us privately and the Apto folks think that’s where we’re at. If it had been handled differently, who knows

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Re: Re: Ticket #5803: ZoomDown - evidence of potential cheating

Post by Jon Corby » Fri Oct 23, 2020 9:07 pm

Is there anything that causes “reasonable doubt” beyond “he’s my friend”? I’m all ears, genuinely, and always happy to admit when I’ve got something wrong. I’ve shown that single numbers game to a lot of people (who don’t know James, obviously) and not one has offered any reason for doubt whatsoever.

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Re: Re: Ticket #5803: ZoomDown - evidence of potential cheating

Post by Matt Morrison » Fri Oct 23, 2020 10:04 pm

Fiona T wrote:
Fri Oct 23, 2020 3:42 pm
good old Jon Corby [...] gets wheeled out
Granddad.

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Re: Re: Ticket #5803: ZoomDown - evidence of potential cheating

Post by Thomas Carey » Sat Oct 24, 2020 6:30 am

JackHurst wrote:
Fri Oct 23, 2020 4:44 pm
:
  • Promised to have somebody in the Zoom call on the Thursday episode (James Vs Phil, James vs Jonny) to specifically watch James for signs of cheating
  • Went ahead with the Thursday episode without that person in the call
As for this, I apologized privately but here we go. I had barely any sleep on the Wednesday night (this probably contributed a fair bit of that), then had a day of work, and then literally fell asleep unintentionally at something like half 6 when I was meant to be doing zoomdown later. I woke up a few minutes before 8, by which time Fiona had already been called in because I was missing, and I was in no state to even run the overlays and stuff, let alone cheat hunt on the side. I made Paul aware of this, since he has an easier job mid round, and he was certainly looking out anyway. It's not like we didn't find anything suspicious...
cheers maus

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Re: Ticket #5803: ZoomDown - evidence of potential cheating

Post by Gavin Chipper » Sat Oct 24, 2020 7:13 am

L'oisleatch McGraw wrote:
Fri Oct 23, 2020 3:24 pm
Jon Corby wrote:
Fri Oct 23, 2020 2:24 pm
JackHurst wrote:
Fri Oct 23, 2020 1:55 pm
I think it's probably best this ticket gets closed now, just like the apto thread has been.
Why?
+1

Transparency is key.
There is more genuine discussion to be had.
Let the topic run its course, and die a natural death.

If it is still open, I will revisit this later with a lengthy reply.
You can actually post in a closed Apterous ticket anyway.

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Re: Re: Ticket #5803: ZoomDown - evidence of potential cheating

Post by James S Roper » Sat Oct 24, 2020 3:47 pm

Hi all,

*Most* people want to draw a line under this. However, as is evident in the show's number of episodes to date, and the continuous positive feedback it's received, nobody wants ZoomDown as a show to suffer. A lot of individuals have been hurt by the fallout over this and I hope it's clear that that's really something I don't want to happen. I've approached the other guys on the team and have said that for the show's sake, if they'd like me to step down than I will do so, no questions asked - for it to get to the point of asking that question in the first place, regardless of opinion, means that the answer was a pretty foregone conclusion. With that, the ZoomDown team and I have agreed that I won't be contesting the Series 2 finals.

Unless there was any behind some other closed doors, I don't think this question was dealt with any animosity. We've all loved the series until I chose to sit in a chair that wasn't the lexicographers, so with the above decision, let's continue to!

See y'all soon, maybe?

James/Ropey

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Re: Re: Ticket #5803: ZoomDown - evidence of potential cheating

Post by Rhys Benjamin » Sat Oct 24, 2020 11:41 pm

If the community could stop imploding, that would be very nice, quite frankly. It's having an effect on a lot of people, as has been alluded to on both sides.
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Re: Re: Ticket #5803: ZoomDown - evidence of potential cheating

Post by Jon Corby » Sun Oct 25, 2020 7:59 am

That is one person's fault Rhys, and that one person could have avoided it all either by not cheating in the first place, or by owning it when confronted. Even now there is no admission and no apology, so it will likely rumble on I'm afraid. The post above attempting to appear noble in pulling out, for example, only serves to stir it up more.

People like Fiona might think they're being kind by continuing to argue for him in the face of overwhelming evidence, and in the very, very short term that might be true, but when you live with this kind of deception you also live with the constant fear hanging over you that things will all come crashing down one day. It's not beneficial in the long run.

At the very least she might at least like to just debate the issue and what's being said, rather than trying to have odd personal digs at me. Somewhat amusingly, I did a little hunt for some posts to back up what I was saying (about being relentless about cheats) and also what Jack was saying (about how this is me going easy on him) and found this... (and some more on the same guy a few days later too, just for good measure).

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Re: Ticket #5803: ZoomDown - evidence of potential cheating

Post by Fiona T » Sun Oct 25, 2020 8:55 am

Yeah the dig was out of order and I apologise for that. I was (and still am) angry at what I perceive as bullying.

And yes, I'm also very very aware that my public support would make it much harder to 'fess up if he was cheating. But I do not believe he was - this isn't some misguided loyalty. I've had to make very tough decisions in the past about people I'm fond of and I don't shy away from it. My own integrity is very important to me and I wouldn't be defending him if I didn't -on balance- believe him.

As to further debating the 'evidence', it seems that doing so is unlikely to change anyone's mind and simply keeps what is a thoroughly unpleasant episode rumbling away.

ZoomDown is a fun, light way for people to enjoy countdown in a different way. I've loved being part of it and Paul should be hugely proud of what he's achieved. We all want to move on from it, and get back to the game we enjoy.
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Re: Ticket #5803: ZoomDown - evidence of potential cheating

Post by Jon Corby » Sun Oct 25, 2020 9:34 am

Fiona T wrote:
Sun Oct 25, 2020 8:55 am
Yeah the dig was out of order and I apologise for that. I was (and still am) angry at what I perceive as bullying.
Thanks, although tbf if you genuinely think there is bullying going on then it's perfectly understandable that you'd be angry. We'll agree to disagree on what constitutes bullying, obviously. Hypothetically, if you were instead convinced that James had cheated, would you still view this as bullying, or would it be fair discussion?
Fiona T wrote:
Sun Oct 25, 2020 8:55 am
As to further debating the 'evidence', it seems that doing so is unlikely to change anyone's mind and simply keeps what is a thoroughly unpleasant episode rumbling away.
This is what makes me bang my head against the wall. I don't know how you can think there has been a satisfactory explanation given for the looks to the right, and that out-of-this-world, like-nothing-ever-before numbers solve. He's apparently not looking at either the numbers on screen, nor his pad for well over half of the round, while performing the most exceptional numbers solve in history. He's not even looking at his pad while writing down his formula. Has he given you any explanation for this that isn't in the public domain? Or is it literally just his word that you're basing your decision on? I mean, it's not like you don't have other numbers games of his to compare it to. Far easier solves (which obviously I'm well prepared to believe he achieved himself) where he doesn't behave like this. I think it's fair to say you don't EVER see this in numbers rounds. The producer of the show said as much himself on the apterous thread.
Fiona T wrote:
Sun Oct 25, 2020 8:55 am
ZoomDown is a fun, light way for people to enjoy countdown in a different way. I've loved being part of it and Paul should be hugely proud of what he's achieved. We all want to move on from it, and get back to the game we enjoy.
Of course, I agree with you entirely. I don't see this as being about ZoomDown, it's a point of principle. As I said to Paul above, whatever decision ZoomDown makes on this is neither here nor there really. I'm not really discussing it because I want ZoomDown to particularly do anything or change anything. I'm doing so because I abhor cheating.

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Re: Ticket #5803: ZoomDown - evidence of potential cheating

Post by Fiona T » Sun Oct 25, 2020 9:44 am

Jon Corby wrote:
Sun Oct 25, 2020 9:34 am
Fiona T wrote:
Sun Oct 25, 2020 8:55 am
Yeah the dig was out of order and I apologise for that. I was (and still am) angry at what I perceive as bullying.
Thanks, although tbf if you genuinely think there is bullying going on then it's perfectly understandable that you'd be angry. We'll agree to disagree on what constitutes bullying, obviously. Hypothetically, if you were instead convinced that James had cheated, would you still view this as bullying, or would it be fair discussion?
Absolutely. I know of people who do think he probably cheated who also think that this is bullying.
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Re: Ticket #5803: ZoomDown - evidence of potential cheating

Post by Fiona T » Sun Oct 25, 2020 10:03 am

Jon Corby wrote:
Sun Oct 25, 2020 9:34 am
Fiona T wrote:
Sun Oct 25, 2020 8:55 am
As to further debating the 'evidence', it seems that doing so is unlikely to change anyone's mind and simply keeps what is a thoroughly unpleasant episode rumbling away.
This is what makes me bang my head against the wall. I don't know how you can think there has been a satisfactory explanation given for the looks to the right, and that out-of-this-world, like-nothing-ever-before numbers solve. He's apparently not looking at either the numbers on screen, nor his pad for well over half of the round, while performing the most exceptional numbers solve in history. He's not even looking at his pad while writing down his formula. Has he given you any explanation for this that isn't in the public domain? Or is it literally just his word that you're basing your decision on? I mean, it's not like you don't have other numbers games of his to compare it to. Far easier solves (which obviously I'm well prepared to believe he achieved himself) where he doesn't behave like this. I think it's fair to say you don't EVER see this in numbers rounds. The producer of the show said as much himself on the apterous thread.
OK against my better judgement I will address these two points.

Well actually Graeme has pretty much addressed one of them - James looks to the side just as much between rounds as during them.

https://www.apterous.org/ticket_view.ph ... c=0#p73604

A similar analysis of his opponent's looks to the side would likely give much clearer "evidence" if one wished to believe he was cheating (again, I'm not suggesting this is the case and don't for one second believe it to be the case).

If you're looking away from screen not at "something" you're not necessarily going to remember what you're looking at - it wasn't something you were necessarily consciously doing.

As regards the solve. As James has shown, he's not necessarily the strongest numbers player. Going on my own experience as a relatively weak numberist, I don't approach problems in the same logical way as a stronger player might. I have, with my less conventional "try something" approach, taken occasional numbers rounds off much much stronger players who are using a more logical approach (Callum, Dinos, Noel, etc etc). I can genuinely imagine myself having spotted that - it's not a huge leap from 49/6 = 8 and a bit. I was surprised when people were labelling it the greatest solve of all time.

We're suppose to believe James is a manipulative liar. If I was going to lie about my cheaty solve, I'd be looking to make my lie as believable as possible. I'd say I'd got to 816 very quickly then looked for an alternative. The fact that his explanation was less believable actually makes it more likely to be true.
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Re: Ticket #5803: ZoomDown - evidence of potential cheating

Post by Jon Corby » Sun Oct 25, 2020 10:20 am

Fiona T wrote:
Sun Oct 25, 2020 9:44 am
Absolutely. I know of people who do think he probably cheated who also think that this is bullying.
Would be great to hear from them, I would be really intrigued to see some posts in here along the lines of "Yes, he's a cheat, I agree he definitely cheated, he knows full well he cheated and is barefacedly lying to Fiona about it, but let's just leave it now."
Fiona T wrote:
Sun Oct 25, 2020 10:03 am
Well actually Graeme has pretty much addressed one of them - James looks to the side just as much between rounds as during them.
Right. Whatever's he looking at is still there between the rounds. It's going to catch your attention even if you're not directly needing it at that moment (or maybe you're prepping for the next round). Funny how he *doesn't* do it in the next episode, when he's sat on the bunkbed? I mean, for such an ingrained natural habit that is so subconscious he doesn't even know or remember what he was looking at, it's clearly quite easily controlled. That's unusual, don't you think?
Fiona T wrote:
Sun Oct 25, 2020 10:03 am
As regards the solve. As James has shown, he's not necessarily the strongest numbers player. Going on my own experience as a relatively weak numberist, I don't approach problems in the same logical way as a stronger player might. I have, with my less conventional "try something" approach, taken occasional numbers rounds off much much stronger players who are using a more logical approach (Callum, Dinos, Noel, etc etc). I can genuinely imagine myself having spotted that - it's not a huge leap from 49/6 = 8 and a bit. I was surprised when people were labelling it the greatest solve of all time.
Well it is "the greatest solve of all time". It's without parallel on the show. Yes, there are several other spectacular solves that go up into the thousands, but they all follow some kind of logic/pattern/trick. If you can go back to "imagining yourself spotting it" - when you do so, are you also not actually looking at the puzzle for most of the time? Are you also looking off to the side at nothing while you write down this amazing formula?

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Re: Ticket #5803: ZoomDown - evidence of potential cheating

Post by Fiona T » Sun Oct 25, 2020 10:24 am

Fiona T wrote:
Sun Oct 25, 2020 8:55 am
As to further debating the 'evidence', it seems that doing so is unlikely to change anyone's mind and simply keeps what is a thoroughly unpleasant episode rumbling away.
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Re: Re: Ticket #5803: ZoomDown - evidence of potential cheating

Post by Mark Deeks » Sun Oct 25, 2020 10:41 am

To be fair Jon, you know that "Yes, he's a cheat, I agree he definitely cheated, he knows full well he cheated and is barefacedly lying to Fiona about it, but let's just leave it now" is basically my position.

To be fair Fiona, that 817 is outlandishly difficult, and I don't think Corby is being hyperbolic in his description of it
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Re: Ticket #5803: ZoomDown - evidence of potential cheating

Post by JackHurst » Sun Oct 25, 2020 11:13 am

Fiona T wrote:
Sun Oct 25, 2020 10:03 am
A similar analysis of his opponent's looks to the side would likely give much clearer "evidence" if one wished to believe he was cheating (again, I'm not suggesting this is the case and don't for one second believe it to be the case).
Just to clear something up. I was using an overlay to type in numbers and letter selections.

Image

Image

Image


First image is how my screens are arranged. I had the Zoom call open on the left (bigger) screen, and then my spreadsheet with letters and numbers selections on the right hand screen. Note that the camera is at the top of the right hand screen. Second and third pictures are screenshots of the spreadsheet I was using with the exit history included which proves I made this before the ZD episode took place, and the last change I made to it was right at the end of the ZD game.

I believe will consistently see during BOTH of my games, that my eyes will be very obviously moving between the two screens during picking in cadence with the picking, and then during the rounds the eyes probably move a little. During conundrums you will see me fixed on the screen to the right of the camera which is the screen the Zoom Call is on.

The difference between myself and James here is that I have offered a coherent explanation of the matter as soon as questioned. He has had almost 2 weeks and still hasn't said anything clear.


As an aside, if you don't want people typing anything anywhere during ZoomDown then you either have to make it clear that they are playing from their own / Pauls handwriting only (which would be unideal IMHO) or give them an overlay to see the selections on.

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Re: Re: Ticket #5803: ZoomDown - evidence of potential cheating

Post by Paul Anderson » Sun Oct 25, 2020 11:23 am

Thanks for that Jack.
I’m not sure why the tried and tested method for playing along, namely pen and paper, should be seen as unideal? The ZD team feels that this deviation from the norm should have been cleared. It’s not a huge step to go from an overlay with the selections on it to one with the maxes on it, NOT that we are suggesting any impropriety, merely that it would have been better to ask if it’s ok.

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Re: Re: Ticket #5803: ZoomDown - evidence of potential cheating

Post by Sam Cappleman-Lynes » Sun Oct 25, 2020 11:31 am

Paul Anderson wrote:
Sun Oct 25, 2020 11:23 am
I’m not sure why the tried and tested method for playing along, namely pen and paper, should be seen as unideal?
I want to question the assumption that pen and paper is the tried and tested method. When playing along with the TV, or playing on Apterous, or playing in the studio, I exclusively work by looking at the tiles and only use my pen to write down a declaration.

ZD was the first time I've worked from handwritten letters and the only reason it wasn't unreasonably awkward was because I've had practice at playing from plain fonts when speccing games on apto or playing along with the day's CD in private chat on apto on a day when I'm not watching it on TV.

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Re: Re: Ticket #5803: ZoomDown - evidence of potential cheating

Post by Paul Anderson » Sun Oct 25, 2020 11:34 am

As do I Sam. The difference here is the typing

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Re: Re: Ticket #5803: ZoomDown - evidence of potential cheating

Post by Graeme Cole » Sun Oct 25, 2020 12:49 pm

JackHurst wrote:
Sun Oct 25, 2020 11:13 am
Fiona T wrote:
Sun Oct 25, 2020 10:03 am
A similar analysis of his opponent's looks to the side would likely give much clearer "evidence" if one wished to believe he was cheating (again, I'm not suggesting this is the case and don't for one second believe it to be the case).
Just to clear something up. I was using an overlay to type in numbers and letter selections.
As I mentioned on the apterous ticket, I don't think this should be allowed. It opens up such a gaping hole for cheats to cheat with impunity. If you had suspicions about a player, even if you managed to prove they were typing the exact letters of the selection onto a keyboard as they were picked, they could simply say they were doing this, and, short of being able to stand over their shoulder during the game, you couldn't stop them.

There's no suggestion you or Conor were using this to cheat, but IMO if we're going to make rules about what you can and can't do during the round, we can't have a privileged few to whom those rules don't apply - the rules have got to apply to everyone equally regardless of how well trusted and respected a player happens to be.

I'm not saying a player who's seen typing during a round for what could be innocent reasons should be immediately disqualified or anything like that - a simple reminder that they shouldn't be doing this ought to suffice unless they blatantly ignore repeated reminders and carry on doing it.
JackHurst wrote:
Sun Oct 25, 2020 11:13 am
As an aside, if you don't want people typing anything anywhere during ZoomDown then you either have to make it clear that they are playing from their own / Pauls handwriting only (which would be unideal IMHO) or give them an overlay to see the selections on.
I have been intermittently working on A Thing that might be useful for this - a webpage where a host and two players log in separately to a named "game room", the host picks the letters and they appear as-live on the players' screens. It was originally intended as a way to play at co-events without using cards, but it would be equally useful for events that take place over a webcam. It's not really anywhere near finished though.

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Re: Re: Ticket #5803: ZoomDown - evidence of potential cheating

Post by Jon Corby » Sun Oct 25, 2020 1:12 pm

There’s always going to be a certain amount of trust required though in such things. And for 99% of people, it works perfectly. That’s why I find the few that abuse it so contemptible. Suddenly everything has to change just to accommodate them. It’s genuinely ridiculous that a group of people whom are mostly connected IRL can’t play fucking Countdown together remotely in a friendly, relaxed way.

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Re: Re: Ticket #5803: ZoomDown - evidence of potential cheating

Post by Graeme Cole » Sun Oct 25, 2020 1:25 pm

Jon Corby wrote:
Sun Oct 25, 2020 1:12 pm
There’s always going to be a certain amount of trust required though in such things. And for 99% of people, it works perfectly. That’s why I find the few that abuse it so contemptible. Suddenly everything has to change just to accommodate them. It’s genuinely ridiculous that a group of people whom are mostly connected IRL can’t play fucking Countdown together remotely in a friendly, relaxed way.
Have I underestimated how popular this technique is? I'd assumed that typing the selection into a spreadsheet to be able to see it better is something only a tiny minority of ZoomDown players ever thought of doing (to my knowledge, only Jack and Conor), and if there were a rule saying you couldn't do that, most players would be completely unaffected by it and could continue playing the game the same as they always did. It's hardly a revolutionary change.

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Re: Re: Ticket #5803: ZoomDown - evidence of potential cheating

Post by Jon Corby » Sun Oct 25, 2020 1:34 pm

Graeme Cole wrote:
Sun Oct 25, 2020 1:25 pm
Jon Corby wrote:
Sun Oct 25, 2020 1:12 pm
There’s always going to be a certain amount of trust required though in such things. And for 99% of people, it works perfectly. That’s why I find the few that abuse it so contemptible. Suddenly everything has to change just to accommodate them. It’s genuinely ridiculous that a group of people whom are mostly connected IRL can’t play fucking Countdown together remotely in a friendly, relaxed way.
Have I underestimated how popular this technique is? I'd assumed that typing the selection into a spreadsheet to be able to see it better is something only a tiny minority of ZoomDown players ever thought of doing (to my knowledge, only Jack and Conor), and if there were a rule saying you couldn't do that, most players would be completely unaffected by it and could continue playing the game the same as they always did. It's hardly a revolutionary change.
Sure, in the other thread though it was also suggested (and well received) that a visual sweep of the area should be introduced prior to the game. Again, it’s nothing that would stop a committed cheat, and just unpleasant for everyone else. Again, if the rules of the competition are that it’s not allowed to use your own visual aids to see the selections better, fine - but surely you have to admit that it’s a bit shit that it being outlawed is nothing really to do with you wanting to see the selections better, but just that some scumbags cheat?

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Re: Re: Ticket #5803: ZoomDown - evidence of potential cheating

Post by Paul Anderson » Sun Oct 25, 2020 1:43 pm

Would make any future accusations almost impossible to detect if we allow typing. The visual sweep, which we implemented for the last episode, helps in making sure there are no input devices at hand. This seems to be the fairest way to ensure it's the same rules for all. I would also like to make the point that we've had a series and a half of amazing, fun, relaxed CD, aside from the episodes mentioned. I think we got an awful lot right from the off. The fact that folk feel the need to cheat is truly something we never envisaged when going about recording what was originally intended to be nothing more than a demonstration of how to play CD online with your mates over lockdown. Our remit has grown massively

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Re: Re: Ticket #5803: ZoomDown - evidence of potential cheating

Post by Innis Carson » Sun Oct 25, 2020 1:51 pm

I'm with Graeme - unless there are special circumstances that necessitate them, external tools (other than pen and paper) shouldn't be allowed. They take away more or less the only concrete basis on which cheating investigations might be conducted. I sympathise with people who are used to the normal white-on-blue letters and find it harder without them, but this isn't a core element of the game and I don't think there's much of a case that it needs to be accounted for. Certainly not at the cost of raising constant questions of cheating.

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Re: Re: Ticket #5803: ZoomDown - evidence of potential cheating

Post by Jon Corby » Sun Oct 25, 2020 1:59 pm

Agree with all of that Paul.
Graeme Cole wrote:
Sun Oct 25, 2020 12:49 pm
There's no suggestion you or Conor were using this to cheat, but IMO if we're going to make rules about what you can and can't do during the round, we can't have a privileged few to whom those rules don't apply - the rules have got to apply to everyone equally regardless of how well trusted and respected a player happens to be.
Sorry, meant to address this directly as well. Pretty sure nobody's suggested anything like this. Of course you can't have different rules for different people. Had James explained that he was using his own visual aid on a second screen, the conversation goes very differently from that point on, and obviously it would have been unfair to say "well (only) you have to stop doing that". He didn't, so in theory he shouldn't have been handicapped by sitting further back (provided he could still see the screen as well as before/he needed to).

Pretty sure Conor (don't know about Jack) never wrote down selections when he was on TV. So it's a bit of a change for him then to start writing stuff down or working from somebody else's handwriting. Is it unfair that he's allowed to use his own visual aid that does nothing other than try and replicate 'real' Countdown? I would say "not at all", but obviously others may disagree and that can be a conversation worth having. I wouldn't think it unfair if somebody else had their own letters from, say, the board game, and used these as a visual aid either. However, if they then started moving these cards around mid-game, that wouldn't be allowed.

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Re: Re: Ticket #5803: ZoomDown - evidence of potential cheating

Post by Conor » Sun Oct 25, 2020 2:02 pm

In hindsight, it would have been better to bring up the overlay beforehand, but I didn't even think of possible accusations of cheating. I had something I'd made in Python tkinter which was potentially going to be used by the ZD production team but wasn't ready in time.

Personally, I find it makes quite a big difference (though you get more used to handwritten selections) and would prefer to livestream my screen share / share a local recording of my screen rather than just use handwritten selections in future, but that's up to the ZD team to decide.

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Re: Re: Ticket #5803: ZoomDown - evidence of potential cheating

Post by JackHurst » Sun Oct 25, 2020 2:03 pm

In hindsight given how everything has unfolded I realise typing into an overlay probably wasn't the best (or fairest idea). I've discussed the matter privately with Paul and apologised.

I suppose at the time, I was a bit naive about the whole cheating thing, so thought it would be fine. This below quote by Jon sums up the mindset quite well:
Jon Corby wrote:
Sun Oct 25, 2020 1:12 pm
It’s genuinely ridiculous that a group of people whom are mostly connected IRL can’t play fucking Countdown together remotely in a friendly, relaxed way.
Now let's get back on topic. The point I was trying to emphasise when I bought the whole topic of overlays up is - Yes, sure other people might look suspicious on camera, but if they can easily provide a quick answer that adds up to explain their behaviour then fair enough. James has not done that.

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