Slam Time Limits

Posted: January 20, 2014 in Uncategorized

I want to discuss how the Slam time limits work and offer a better way of doing things…

When slam was created, how much time were the poets supposed to get?

Well, I wasn’t there, but I bet it wasn’t 3:10.

It was three minutes.

Yet, whenever a host announces how much time a poet gets, they say “each poet has three minutes and ten seconds to…”


“each poet has three minutes with a ten second grace period to…”

I would argue that the timing is right but the announcement is wrong.

This was cemented recently when I realized a scorekeeper at a show I was at was saying that a full minute penalty is a 2.5 point deduction. I mentioned that to someone else and she agreed, “due to the 10 second grace period.”

Of course, that isn’t true. If you go past 4 minutes (or one minute over) you have a 3 point deduction.

Here, I’ll prove it…

3:00.1 No penalty

3:10.1 -0.5 deduction

3:20.1 -1.0

3:30.1 -1.5

3:40.1 -2.0

3:50.1 -2.5

4:00.1 -3.0

So, why do people think that? Because we say there is a grace period.


So, what should we say? (Keeping in mind, I have no desire to actually change the rules here, just to present them in a better manner…)

Instead say this: “Each poet has three minutes to perform their poem. For every 10 seconds they go over, .5 will be deducted from their score…”

So, what happened? Where is the grace period?

It doesn’t exist. It never existed. What happens if you go 3:05?

Nothing. We clearly said “for every 10 seconds they go over” and how many increments of 10 seconds did they go over?

Zero. (Well, a fraction fo an increment, which we ignore, as always.)

So no penalty.

This also would stop the idea the somebody who went something like 3:10.2 “only went over by .2”. No. They actually went over by 10.2.

Anyway, a simple change it what we SAY on stage as a host makes things more concrete and not as arbitrary. (3:10? Why 3:10?)


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