I have moved the blog to this location for a couple reasons.
1) Lots of people at scrabble tournaments know me as "that guy (Muppet?) with a duck. With an address and title that now reflect that, hopefully it will be easier for everyone to remember.
2) I am going to make the blog a bit more serious and topical. I have a link to the old site up and still plan to inject humor wherever I can into these discussions, but a new direction is a good time for a fresh start (or so my last therapist told me before I fired them and got a new one).
3) I will be using my name and others as well and I wanted to keep those referred to by pseudonyms in earlier posts separate from this hard hitting journalistic endeavor. Think Michael Moore with less fat and more lean analysis (and much more duck).
So Topic #1
What exactly are the rules for ISC and why?
As most serious scrabble players (and some flippant ones) know, ISC or the Internet Scrabble Club is a free service that lets people from around the world play scrabble from the comfort of their own homes or wherever they have internet access. I know a few notable exceptions, but most players who have played in more than one rated tournament use ISC (or the similar service POGO). How exactly it gets used is very different depending on the individual, though. A couple clarifications before we move on: ISC has ratings like "real life" scrabble, but there are no prizes and no official tournaments. There are options to pay for more features like multiple accounts or more detailed storage of past games, but the only necessary "cost" of playing is the minimal time it takes to set up the program and the tiny space it takes on a hard drive. So to myself and a few others, it is basically a study program similar to playing against a computer like Quackle or one of the versions that Hasbro sells for PC play. But to others...Well to some people it is a very serious experience akin to playing at a tournament. That is correct; I have met many individuals who refuse to talk and will quickly call a helper (an online equivalent of a helper only much surlier) if anything is not going their way. Debates on social niceties is a topic unto itself so lets focus on the big issue: cheating.
Is it possible to "cheat" online? I say no unless you are some sort of super scrabble hacker and can manipulate the tile distribution or how the clock operates. Obviously many people have a different definition of cheating in this context, though. Specifically, the use of word lists/dictionaries, word judge programs (when not playing void) and anagrammers. ISC has included an option to sign a "fair play agreement" and others can see what choice you have made. Of course what a person chooses to do after they click a certain button remains up to them. I do not understand why some people care so much about how a person likely hundreds (or thousands) of miles away makes their plays in an online game simulation. Taking a moral stand on fairness while playing a game (with no stakes I can detect) and a large degree of luck simply seems bizarre. People claim that they are taken advantage of when they play someone online that may or may not be cheating. But what did they lose? A few rating points that exist only in the digital world or ISC. These rating points are the only thing at stake and the reason, I will argue next time, why people who want to get better at the "real" game should "cheat" as much as possible in the online game. See you soon and have fun with the poll and links until then.
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