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  • Official vs. Unofficial contests, and which get Black Badges?

    Can someone from DEFCON C&E clarify what makes for an "official" vs "unofficial" event?

    In the past, I and most other people whom I knew thought the designation pertained to the prize. Official event winners got black badges. Unofficial event winners got whatever the contest organizers could drum up as prizes.

    However, starting this year, DEFCON has moved to a model of "basically no one gets a black badge anymore no matter how awesome their achievements" *

    This has confused the matter for many folk, including me. Determining which events get to award Black Badges is a whole other issue and could be its own discussion thread if the mods allow it and if people from DEFCON core staff are up for answering some questions there. There were tons of people who were pissed this year, including a lot of my event contestants, and it could be a decent conversation.

    * i say "basically" because a few events still do get the top honor. still, it's a paltry handful compared to the tons and tons of folk who bust their ass and eat up whole days at con trying to come out on top.


    My $0.02... Let's say that 20 official contest winners earn Black Badges each year at DEFCON. I don't even think we have that many "official" contests but I could be wrong. Still... let's say that we had given out 20 black badges this year. Then next year, assume 20 entirely different people win black badges.

    Were this trend to continue, with another score of people earning Black Badges every single passing summer, then even by DEFCON 35 that would only mean about 300 people are getting in for free. At an event with 12,000+ attendees, letting in those people for free each year is a drop in the bucket.

    I'm open to folk convincing me of the counter-argument.
    Last edited by Deviant Ollam; September 6, 2013, 23:07.
    "I'll admit I had an OiNK account and frequented it quite often… What made OiNK a great place was that it was like the world's greatest record store… iTunes kind of feels like Sam Goody to me. I don't feel cool when I go there. I'm tired of seeing John Mayer's face pop up. I feel like I'm being hustled when I visit there, and I don't think their product is that great. DRM, low bit rate, etc... OiNK it existed because it filled a void of what people want."
    - Trent Reznor

  • #2
    Re: Contests, Events, Parties, Social Gatherings: Are you planning to bring it to DC2

    Originally posted by Deviant Ollam View Post
    Can someone from DEFCON C&E clarify what makes for an "official" vs "unofficial" event?

    In the past, I and most other people whom I knew thought the designation pertained to the prize. Official event winners got black badges. Unofficial event winners got whatever the contest organizers could drum up as prizes.

    However, starting this year, DEFCON has moved to a model of "basically no one gets a black badge anymore no matter how awesome their achievements" *

    This has confused the matter for many folk, including me. Determining which events get to award Black Badges is a whole other issue and could be its own discussion thread if the mods allow it and if people from DEFCON core staff are up for answering some questions there. There were tons of people who were pissed this year, including a lot of my event contestants, and it could be a decent conversation.

    * i say "basically" because a few events still do get the top honor. still, it's a paltry handful compared to the tons and tons of folk who bust their ass and eat up whole days at con trying to come out on top.


    My $0.02... Let's say that 20 official contest winners earn Black Badges each year at DEFCON. I don't even think we have that many "official" contests but I could be wrong. Still... let's say that we had given out 20 black badges this year. Then next year, assume 20 entirely different people win black badges.

    Were this trend to continue, with another score of people earning Black Badges every single passing summer, then even by DEFCON 35 that would only mean about 300 people are getting in for free. At an event with 12,000+ attendees, letting in those people for free each year is a drop in the bucket.

    I'm open to folk convincing me of the counter-argument.
    Not really a counter argument, but I would actually prefer to see a change in how the black badges work.

    I wish that every contest winner of approved (I don't care about official or unofficial) contests got a black badge, but that the black badge didn't get you in for free.

    I have a hard time believing that the prestige of the black badge is wrapped up in the free admission. It's the awesomeness of the badge itself and what it represents.

    The problem with this (and I really don't know how to get past it) is that I don't know how you make the change at this point. You can't really "revoke" the free admission for life from the people that already have won that and to try to say "ok, black badges up through DC21 are free admission for life, but DC22 and after don't get it" is a logistical nightmare for registration that isn't feasible.

    Am I off base on this? Do people really give that much of a shit about free admission? Can you think of a realistic way to make the change that doesn't screw over the people that have already won a black badge but that also increases the number of black badges that can be given out to winners?
    perl -e 'print pack(c5, (41*2), sqrt(7056), (unpack(c,H)-2), oct(115), 10)'

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Contests, Events, Parties, Social Gatherings: Are you planning to bring it to DC2

      Originally posted by Chris View Post
      Not really a counter argument, but I would actually prefer to see a change in how the black badges work...

      Am I off base on this? Do people really give that much of a shit about free admission? Can you think of a realistic way to make the change that doesn't screw over the people that have already won a black badge but that also increases the number of black badges that can be given out to winners?
      Well, if I still was going to Defcon, it would make a difference to me, yes. We are talking almost TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS. This isn't an insignificant amount. It really isn't. I also point out that many people have won multiple black badges, and may (or even *have*) given some of them to people who have not. In years past, Coffee Wars winners got black badges, and then they didn't. Either way was fine with us. The mere act of having a jury of people who can consume approximately three pots of coffee in less than two hours, declaring yours to be the best, should be enough.

      I admit it. I have a black badge that someone who has multiples *gave* me. I've used it, twice. There are times when free admission does indeed make the difference in whether someone attends or not.

      I think they should be harder to get. Here's an evil statement that I'll be happy to stand by. I wouldn't give one for Hacker Jeopardy. I've seen it. Multiple times. On the other hand, the winners for Capture the Flag deserve them. I've seen demonstrations of lock picking that left me amazed (and I'm awfully jaded; amazement is rare). I'd be awarding that kind of thing a black badge.

      Yes, they should continue to provide free admission. They should also be associated with skill.

      The unearned one I possess is still one of my prized possessions, right along with every other Defcon badge I have, and the extremely cool poster from Defcon IV (which I have framed on the wall, hanging in my computer room, right next to a framed engineering printout of a wire wrapped board circa 1988).

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Contests, Events, Parties, Social Gatherings: Are you planning to bring it to DC2

        As someone who doesn't have any black badges, nor a leg to stand on when it comes to 'this is what i think should be done'. I'm going to give my 2 cents anyway. Unless your contest takes 3 days to complete, you should not be awarded one. Not only should the black badge stand for skill, but also commitment and endurance.

        Once you win one, that should be it. You should not be allowed to win multiple black badges. They should also be non-transferable.

        Entry should be locked into $100 dollars for black badge holders. There are several options for the funds: EFF, Parties, Open bars, sponsoring mentors for new speakers... I'm sure there are better ideas..

        Random thought: Once deemed a black badge event, always a black badge event.

        WiK
        Vell, WiK's just zis guy

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        • #5
          Re: Contests, Events, Parties, Social Gatherings: Are you planning to bring it to DC2

          Originally posted by WiK View Post
          Once deemed a black badge event, always a black badge event.
          this resonates with me, for obvious reasons... it's exceedingly frustrating to me when my own contestants don't know what they're playing for and I don't have the power to tell them.

          my contest has been a Black Badge contest for two years in the past. however, i was erroneously informed that my contest was a Black Badge contest three other times, and i felt like a right shit when the winners wound up not earning one in the end.

          as far as Roamer's question, hell yeah... getting in for free is one of the best parts of the badge. the prestige is terrific, too, but no one gets to see that if you use the badge for admission. i guess that's it... most people who i know with black badges use them for free admission so no one outside of our private circle is aware they are badge-holders.

          in truth, i think that's an outstanding tradeoff...

          1. prefer the prestige of having a black badge? wear it around the con instead of using it at Reg

          2. prefer the free admission? check the badge at Reg and get free human entry, then pick it up on Sunday.

          ... i would also support the notion that once someone is a Black Badge holder, they shouldn't earn another one. Hard to enforce that, however.
          "I'll admit I had an OiNK account and frequented it quite often… What made OiNK a great place was that it was like the world's greatest record store… iTunes kind of feels like Sam Goody to me. I don't feel cool when I go there. I'm tired of seeing John Mayer's face pop up. I feel like I'm being hustled when I visit there, and I don't think their product is that great. DRM, low bit rate, etc... OiNK it existed because it filled a void of what people want."
          - Trent Reznor

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Contests, Events, Parties, Social Gatherings: Are you planning to bring it to DC2

            Originally posted by Deviant Ollam View Post
            this resonates with me, for obvious reasons... it's exceedingly frustrating to me when my own contestants don't know what they're playing for and I don't have the power to tell them.

            my contest has been a Black Badge contest for two years in the past. however, i was erroneously informed that my contest was a Black Badge contest three other times, and i felt like a right shit when the winners wound up not earning one in the end.

            as far as Roamer's question, hell yeah... getting in for free is one of the best parts of the badge. the prestige is terrific, too, but no one gets to see that if you use the badge for admission. i guess that's it... most people who i know with black badges use them for free admission so no one outside of our private circle is aware they are badge-holders.

            in truth, i think that's an outstanding tradeoff...

            1. prefer the prestige of having a black badge? wear it around the con instead of using it at Reg

            2. prefer the free admission? check the badge at Reg and get free human entry, then pick it up on Sunday.

            ... i would also support the notion that once someone is a Black Badge holder, they shouldn't earn another one. Hard to enforce that, however.
            It would then appear that I was wrong about the importance of free admission. With that being the case, I think DT is spot on with how he's doing it. We have far too many contests to give free admission for life to every winner every year.

            I also don't agree that "once black badge, always black badge" makes sense. I am not referring to your contest(s) here...but...what happens when a contest's quality goes to shit? What happens if a contest is awesome and gets a black badge but then the organizers of that contest change and the new organizers can't even spell organization and the contest becomes crap. Who is supposed to keep track of changes in contest organizers?

            I understand the frustration at not getting a black badge for something you worked your ass off on and I, like you, don't know or understand how black badge contests are chosen, but if free admission for life is the prize then there are going to be limits on how many of those are given out. It does kind of work both ways. If not paying for a badge is the important factor to contest winners, then the flip side has to be that having attendees pay for badges is an important factor for DEF CON.
            perl -e 'print pack(c5, (41*2), sqrt(7056), (unpack(c,H)-2), oct(115), 10)'

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Contests, Events, Parties, Social Gatherings: Are you planning to bring it to DC2

              Originally posted by Chris View Post
              I understand the frustration at not getting a black badge for something you worked your ass off on and I, like you, don't know or understand how black badge contests are chosen,
              Seems like we just need an official post from pyro or someone a month or so ahead of the con that lists exactly which contests get black badges.

              The next thing that would be nice to know is the requirements for moving your contest from unofficial to official status. I'm not sure this could be easily defined though.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Official vs. Unofficial contests, and which get Black Badges?

                My preference is that the Black Badge gets you in for free the following year only. That way you get a reward, but it's not "for life".

                And, of course, have more black badge contests (ie, any contest in it's 3rd plus year is "black badge")

                Kallahar
                --- The fuck? Have you ever BEEN to Defcon?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Official vs. Unofficial contests, and which get Black Badges?

                  When I see a black badge (at first) I thought the person was uber leet or something. Less than 1% of folks can get the badge. Turns out the person was just one of many in a group that won. I had expected (wrongly?) that a BB was for stuff like the CTF winners, and not just the winners of the year but they had to set a new top score or something. If I win this year with a score that is less than the worst team last year then I'd not expect a badge. Otherwise I'd fill the other teams with shill losers and I can win regardless of how badly I play.

                  Or maybe keep the badge as an award, like the hacker olympic type of award. Who gave the most moving talk? Who made Defcon something that was not to be missed?

                  And all black badges should be non-transferable.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Official vs. Unofficial contests, and which get Black Badges?

                    Originally posted by astcell View Post
                    And all black badges should be non-transferable.
                    So you're going to require ID of the winner, and then keep a list of all black badge holders, and then ID the person when they try to reg with the badge? Kinda seems contradictory to the way defcon works...

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Official vs. Unofficial contests, and which get Black Badges?

                      Not that I'm anybody whose opinion matters on this, but that's never stopped me from giving my 2¢. Keep the black badges largely as they are: a prestige bragging right, and a financial reward. Free admission for life if you don't want to wear it around the con. Screw trying to say they're non-transferrable: it'd be impossible to enforce without compromising DC's way of doing things and if you're good enough to earn more than one black badge, then you're good enough to get your friend in for free too. But to that end, black badge contests should be contests that take skill, and skill that's related to hacking. CTF: obviously. Tamper evident: sure. Deviant's awesome locksport contests: yep! Beverage cooling, FPS games, short stories, and the like: sorry, but I don't really think it's deserving.

                      Other gripes from the POV of someone who attends defcon largely for the contests, but acknowledges that I've never put in any work on organizing them:
                      * contest organizers should definitely know ahead of time if they're getting black badges for their winners. And they should advertise that fact ahead of time. Black badges aren't just rewards to someone who's put on a good contest but an incentive for contestants to play it. If people don't know there's a badge on the line, they're less likely to play.
                      * contest listings ahead of time are pretty unorganized (with all due respect to the cat herding volunteers in the contests team). Many of the forum links on the top of the DC21 page went to forums with no posts. The mix of contests and events made it hard for people to figure out ahead of time what they wanted to dedicate their (sober-ish) Defcon time towards. Why are there contests listed in the results page (https://www.defcon.org/html/defcon-2...t-results.html) that aren't on the DC21 main page, or in the contests forum?

                      tl;dr I got off topic; keep black badges as rare prizes worth something.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Official vs. Unofficial contests, and which get Black Badges?

                        Originally posted by tecknicaltom View Post
                        ...Many of the forum links on the top of the DC21 page went to forums with no posts. The mix of contests and events made it hard for people to figure out ahead of time what they wanted to dedicate their (sober-ish) Defcon time towards. Why are there contests listed in the results page (https://www.defcon.org/html/defcon-2...t-results.html) that aren't on the DC21 main page, or in the contests forum?
                        We try to synchronize forum listings with the list of contests/events that are listed here: http://defcne.net/e/21

                        [chop: edited]

                        ... this discussion and related posts have been forked to a new thread: defcne website, links from main-site, sync of contest/event in forum with main site.
                        Last edited by TheCotMan; September 11, 2013, 20:22.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Official vs. Unofficial contests, and which get Black Badges?

                          Originally posted by tecknicaltom View Post
                          So you're going to require ID of the winner, and then keep a list of all black badge holders, and then ID the person when they try to reg with the badge? Kinda seems contradictory to the way defcon works...
                          I didn't say I had a solution. I guess we could try the Honor System. :-/

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Official vs. Unofficial contests, and which get Black Badges?

                            I have a lot of feelings regarding black badges, and I'm certain I don't have a perfect solution. I'm going to use the Scavenger Hunt as an example because it's the contest that I've got the most experience with.

                            As an attendee: I don't personally hold a black badge, but I think I deserve one. I've competed and won the Scavenger Hunt several times, and it has been back and forth in the past as to whether or not it is a black badge event (for good reason, don't get me wrong). It has been an "official" event for years, but the years I won it wasn't a black badge event. Such is life. It was said that if the contest takes 3 days to complete, and if it requires a lot of skill to do then it should be a black badge event. Ask any scav winner in the past and they will tell you that to win the game, it's all you do at defcon. Skill? The list has had everything from actual computer hacking to lockpicking, social engineering, acquiring completely random items, and then just some wacky stuff. But it really does require a team full of people with varied skillsets to compete and win. My team and I worked day and night figuring out how to do everything we could, and I think we definitely earned a black badge. Then again, I've had team members who didn't really know what they were getting in to and never really showed up after the first day. They didn't pull their weight and didn't deserve a black badge. Should they be given one because the rest of their team earned one?

                            As a contest organizer: These days I run the scav, and just like has been mentioned before, knowing beforehand if the event is getting black badges would have been very helpful. We didn't get black badges this year, and I wasn't informed officially about it until Sunday morning. That said, this was my first year as being the "lead organizer" for the contest instead of just on staff, and I didn't expect any black badges. Like Chris said, what if we completely failed? What if the new organizers of a game turned a black badge contest into a steaming pile of crap? In that case, the 'once a black badge, always a black badge' idea would be a bad thing. I think having to prove that the new contest organizers can handle things isn't a bad idea. But, once the organizers have proven that they can run a contest worthy of a black badge, then the black badge status should come back. With all that though, scav teams are 5 people and like I said there are sometimes team members who honestly didn't deserve a black badge but were still officially on the team of people who did deserve one. I can definitely understand 5 badges every year being excessive. The C&E goons have been great with the scav and came up with a pretty good solution to allow the winning team free entry the following year. That right there is pretty awesome, but still lacks the prestige that comes with the black badge.

                            So what's the solution? In my opinion, for contests that have large teams, do what was done at DCXX. One black badge for the team and human badges for the following year. Leave it up to the team to figure out who gets to take home the black badge. This mitigates the issue of having too many black badges out in the wild, but still gives the incentive for people to strive for that prize and the ability to bask in all the uber-leet glory that is the black badge. Should it be free admission for life? I think so. With the amount of attendees total, a few extra black badges shouldn't make that much of a dent financially. Registration issues, making them non-transferable, seems like a great idea but would likely be a nightmare to do. I do like the current system of surrendering your black badge to get a human badge. Each person has to decide if they want to save some money, or if they want everyone to know how cool they are. I do understand that it's not an insignificant amount of money to get a badge, but with the costs incurred for travel, food and lodging, it's just another expense. But, perhaps the black badges only getting you in for one year for free would work. It would suck for those who earned theirs a long time ago, but I can see it making sense. All black badges from DC21 only get you in to 22 for free, then perhaps a discounted cost the following years. The discounted cost would, again, be hard to keep track of without having a physical token of some sort to prove that you only get the discount once.

                            Tracking: It's been brought up several times here and in the past that perhaps there should be a better way of tracking. ID's, names, other personally identifiable stuff. These kind of things definitely go against the norm for defcon. Why not come up with something a bit more hacker friendly though? Some sort of crypto keypair. You show up to reg, you provide the right key to prove your identity, you get your badge. Sure it doesn't fix the issue of sharing the badge with someone else, but it has potential to make things a bit less hectic.
                            Of course its fully cooked... we had it set on "linen".

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Official vs. Unofficial contests, and which get Black Badges?

                              i love where the conversation is going and the ideas that are being offered up. cherry-picking from all that i've seen, here are my favorite points:

                              1. Black Badges have historically granted the right to free DEFCON for life. Since many folk were promised this (plus retiring staff get them for this exact reason) it's basically impossible to not continue with that privilege.

                              2. Saving money versus showing leetness - letting the attendee choose may be best. When they arrive, they can turn their Black Badge in temporarily to Reg for a human badge that year (saving money) or purchase their own human badge and wear their Black Badge with it around the con (showing leetness)

                              3. What contest gets a Black Badge - once a contest becomes established and the powers that be of DEFCON declare something official, that would be the way something is declared as Black Badge worthy. Official status isn't guaranteed year-to-year, but re-evaluated. If the same leadership is in place and there are not major changes happening to a contest, it would likely remain official. If it is handed off to a wholly new team running things or something new is being tried.... it can revert to unofficial status that time around.

                              4. When to Announce - There are difficulties with this, but i strongly support announcing which contests are official (and thus Black Badge being awarded) before the start of DEFCON. (either by Thursday or perhaps even in the program if advance planning is possible)

                              5. Big Teams - One contest: one Black Badge. That is a rule i'd surely support. Teams choose on their own who gets the Black Badge (and with enough advance notice as in point 4) and the rest of the folk get free Human access the next year.
                              "I'll admit I had an OiNK account and frequented it quite often… What made OiNK a great place was that it was like the world's greatest record store… iTunes kind of feels like Sam Goody to me. I don't feel cool when I go there. I'm tired of seeing John Mayer's face pop up. I feel like I'm being hustled when I visit there, and I don't think their product is that great. DRM, low bit rate, etc... OiNK it existed because it filled a void of what people want."
                              - Trent Reznor

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