I went back to the Q&A, and I am still not happy with the situation with moving a cube 7 feet across the board by hand during automatic programming attempts. Apparently neither are many other coaches, as I see continued questions going unanswered as recent as a day ago on the Q&A.
The Q&A does not give one clear-cut official answer either. In fact, not only does the Rules Committee appear to contradict itself on two occasions, it also appears to have misinterpreted the game manual rules in regards to what sub-sections and notes they were reading. This was pointed out in another post 6 days ago: https://www.robotevents.com/VIQC/2019-2020/QA/530. The post has not been answered. The absence of clear and ethical guidance on this issue has given wide berth to teams to move objects as part of a strategy in direct opposition to the spirit of the automatic challenge.
In one post answered by the Rules Committee 5 months prior https://www.robotevents.com/VIQC/2019-2020/QA/329, it states "The only reason that the referee would be "not happy" with the placement is if the Team was using this rule to move a Cube into a position that was either strategically advantageous, such as just barely outside of a Corner Goal, or Scored. Both scenarios could result in a possible Disqualification if it is not rectified immediately (i.e. if it was an accident)."
In a second post on the topic, also answered by the Rules Committee 3 months prior https://www.robotevents.com/VIQC/2019-2020/QA/392, it says the action would be legal, quoting RSC5's Note "Note: This rule only applies to Programming Skills Matches. Driving Skills Matches are still governed by <G17>, especially for strategic violations."
However, I believe the Rules Committee of that post misquoted RSC5, as the portion they quoted was bullet i. of sub-section D in RSC 5 which specifically and only addresses DRIVERS moving around the board (Note D RSC5). The preceding full ruling of RSC5 with note states:
"d. During a Programming Skills Match, Drivers may move freely around the Field, and are not restricted to the Driver Station when not handling their Robot.
i. An intent of this exception is to permit Drivers who wish to “stage” Robot handling during a Programming Skills Match to do so without excessive running back and forth to the Driver Station. Note: This rule only applies to Programming Skills Matches. Driving Skills Matches are still governed by <G16>, especially for strategic violations."
This note, as nested within sub-section d, should logically only pertain to sub-section d - not the entirety of RSC5. As such, I feel the note is not referring to the placement of game objects, but Drivers, as stated in the ruling.
I understand that nothing can be done about previous rulings on this. And yet, I feel this lack of attention by the Rules Committee has done tremendous damage to teams who worked hard to program while remaining true to the ethical spirit of the competition. Moreover, with State and World championships looming, I believe it highly important to have a straight-forward, full understanding of this ruling. I would also suggest whether allowed or not that this particular issue be addressed publicly by the State and World officials before competition so that all teams who have worked so hard to compete at these prestigious levels have an even playing field.
With so many coaches stepping up to question the moral nature of this matter, I would hope the RECF would maintain a stance in the future in the most ethical spirit of the game. As an elementary teacher passionate about teaching kids social/emotional skills especially in technological fields, I feel it is best we model what is morally good sportsmanship rather than teaching them to try to find loopholes - which in this case has led to arguing for a loophole that does not appear to be present. Please consider this a formal complaint.
Thank you for all your continued hard work, as well as your consideration in this matter,