What is the best solution if there are cases like the following: There is a competition at the school that requires each class to send 4 students. In class X, there are no students who are willing to take part in the competition. If a class does not send / send less than 4 students, the class will get a fine. The leader of class X doesn't want to get a fine. What can the class leader do to be able to send 4 students by trying to be as fair as possible to each student (especially the 4 students who will be selected)?

I know that rolling a die or having a vote would be a solution. But let's say that there is no one in the class that is superior to others about the subject that's being contested, and therefore, doing a vote would be unfair because there are no particular reason for someone to be voted.

So, is rolling a die would be the only solution?

  • Hi Adeva1217, Welcome to Lifehacks. We hope you enjoy your time here sharing ideas and problems. (By the way, one die, two dice.) – Stan Mar 21 at 14:02
  • Oh yea i'm sorry, i'll edit it. English is not my first language so i am prone to some mistakes hehe – Adeva1217 Mar 21 at 16:16
  • I've edited the headline to better reflect the problem. That way people browsing the main page will know exactly what the question is about without having to read the whole question first. – Elmy Mar 22 at 6:52
  • wheelofnames.com >:) – Luke Sawczak Mar 22 at 17:56
  • I do not feel this question is well suited to lifehacks. I also think, if it's a real life situation, if you don't have any students willing to take part that you should reject the competition and also reject the fine. There is no easy way to fairly put forward candidates without causing distress or detriment. Even if you roll a dice you might end up picking the four students who don't have capacity to take time off their learning or the part time job they need to feed their family, to take a bus they can't afford to get to the competition venue in order to enter. Unless you know every.. – Caius Jard Apr 2 at 8:14

Hack: Use elimination.

I would ask for donations for (the amount of the fine)/(number of students in the class) to share the 'load' equally.

Those that will not join the fund have selected themselves as contestants for the competition. As compensation, the four that opt out receive ¼ of the fine exacted upon the non-participants. It's the reward for the insult.

If all join with their share of the fine, no single student suffers unduly.

Fun problem!

Good luck.

  • While I like the idea of "shared rejection means shared cost", I disagree with the notion that "no student suffers unduly" - we know nothing of the fine or the financial backgrounds of the students being asked to pay it. In a suitably diverse class of 30 there is a chance that even asking everyone to pony up $2 for a $60 means one or more students has to go without lunch because they are that poor. We should not assume that a fine of X split Y ways will result in a paltry sum Z that causes zero duress to anyone involved – Caius Jard Apr 2 at 7:49
  • @CaiusJard You have added a matter of degree for a different issue (compassion) not considered by the OP to be relevant. A fine as penalty is a "pressure" used by the school to force compliance. My statement — that no single student suffers unduly" is an attempt to introduce a degree of equality which some equate with fairness. For the injury, I proposed a reward system to replace the insult. Also, a fine need not involve any money. One's effort can also be used. – Stan Apr 2 at 15:31

At its simplest, you can use use any game of 'chance' for selection. Some would argue that games of skill are also games of chance. You can use them to opt-in or for opting-out.

The device can be one die or many, a coin toss, selecting randomly from a deck of cards, a spinning 'pointing' device such as a wheel or bottle, a blind selection of a designated area, etc.

The various wars used a lottery for selection of their unwilling participants.

The devices and games are many and can be found in all gambling casinos.

And as I've suggested before, Good luck.

  • I disagree with the notion that "a game of skill is a game of chance" - a game of skill is by its nature selective for or against those that are skilled at it, depending on how one uses the results to pick the students – Caius Jard Apr 2 at 7:53

Put each of their names on an individual piece of paper, and put all of them into a box. Than draw them, like a lot. The principle is applied for long time, say El Gordo in Spain

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I think, multiple sports events equally decide by this approach the entry-level opponents (foot- and hand ball, chess), too.


My hack is to set a small written test for the students.

Now, the students are not stupid and realise that they must not do well in the test, because they do not want to be selected.

So the class leader also tells the students that the school is aware of that, and so it will select four with the worst answers to the test (to confuse them).

But what they are not told is that in reality you will select the four who you or the class leader think will be the most suitable or by rolling dice.

But because you have sowed confusion, they won't know on what basis the four were really selected, or that the test itself was irrelevant to the choice.

It is misdirection aimed at making the students think it was their own actions which caused them to be selected.

  • 1
    ...but, generally speaking, if there is no other way to select someone, using dice is a fair way, because everybody has an equal chance of being selected. – Weather Vane Mar 21 at 10:28

Hack: Use results based on student research.

Students are asked to specify, and commit themselves to an answer for a task-based question that each can research.

Ask students to vote on whether to choose the four answers closest to, or furthest from the actual answer. You (They) might want to use the two closest AND the two furthest, too. Choice is important to be seen as fair.

Pick a large or distant object. Ask each student how many steps would be needed to walk around the object (a school building, or field) or to and from the end of a long hallway or path.

Each student has the opportunity to count their own steps and put a number after their name on a list based on their personal experience. The students can 'process' their results in any way they wish before they add their 'number' to the class tally.

Prior to the experiment, an 'official' pacer has performed the task in private and recorded their result which will be used as the mark to be used to compare the student's answer.

It would be another degree of 'interest' if the person who will cast the official vote is known by the students so that they can compare themselves to the 'model.' If the model has a large stride, a smaller student might want to calculate a size compensation, up or down.

Give enough time for each of the students to complete their research prior to giving their final answer.

Good luck.

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