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Wednesday, December 06, 2023 — Houston, TX

The better way to distribute publics tickets

10/25/23 10:20am

Editor’s Note: This is a guest opinion that has been submitted by a member of the Rice community. The views expressed in this opinion are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of the Thresher or its editorial board. All guest opinions are fact-checked to the best of our ability and edited for clarity and conciseness by Thresher editors.

As I sit at my desk, refreshing the Google Form for tickets to Night of Decadence, the annual Wiess College public party, I think to myself that there has got to be a better way to do this. 

Over the past couple years, tickets for publics have been distributed mostly through first-come, first-served Google Forms. These have been, to put it lightly, a mess. People sit hunched over their computer, mashing the refresh button repeatedly until Google finally stops serving them the “too many requests” message. Then, a hurried, typo-filled form is submitted, and the wait begins again as people wait to receive their confirmation message after traffic dies down again. Did this agonizing experience even grant a ticket? You won’t know for many more hours. 

While this process for ticket distribution can be entertaining fuel for the college group chats to gripe about, it is not optimal. Using one specific ticket distribution time results in multiple negative consequences. 

First, it creates confusing technical situations where people don’t know if their request was even submitted. As the NOD ticket distribution showed, even after submitting their form, Google’s overloaded servers will still tell the user that the form is receiving too many requests. One cannot be sure if theirs went through, unless they’re willing to resubmit and resubmit for another dozen minutes. This creates both intense anxiety about the process on the attendee end, but also anxiety on the side of the socials committees. Every public is a carnival of stress as students have to troubleshoot Google forms that are already being bombarded with hundreds of requests, while simultaneously fanning the flames of anger coming at them from their friends and classmates. 

Second, the use of first-come, first-served Google Forms hurts anyone who happens to be busy at the time of ticket release. Working a job? In the middle of an exam? Listening to a lecture with a professor who will dock points for using an electronic device? Any of these situations ensure that a student simply cannot get a ticket to a public. While many students today simply skip class or ignore parts of the lecture to acquire their tickets, our ticketing system should not create situations where that is necessary. One’s willingness to disrupt their own education should not be required to attend a party, and our ticketing system should not require it. 

Instead of distributing tickets through a first-come, first-served Google Form, socials committees at colleges should shift to a lottery based system. Over the course of a day or two, students could submit a Google Form with their information on it. Behind the scenes, the committee should randomly select the students who receive tickets. Additionally, committees could randomly select within colleges or equitably across North and South colleges, ensuring a wide range of students would attend the party. 

A lottery would resolve both of the issues of the first-come, first-served system. It would ensure that no individual time slot is the most important for getting a ticket, which prevents Google’s servers from being overrun by traffic. It also ensures that anyone who happens to be busy when the form opens isn’t prevented from getting a ticket, because the timing window would be wide enough that anyone could find an opportunity to submit their form. 

Not only would a lottery reduce stress and add opportunities for students to get tickets, it would also ensure that a wider variety of students could gain access to the ticketing system. Rather than having publics attended by only the students who know how to best navigate the Google Form system, any student who wanted to attend would have an equal opportunity to do so.

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