We recently had a low level competition where people were double punching/making the punch unreadable. What is the opinion on if this should be considered mis-punched or not? If you pin-punched at it was unreadable, would you not make a clearer punch next to it, an empty unassigned box, or if the control boxes were on the map with no extras, punch on the map itself next to that box? I'm having trouble finding rules that specify how to deal with this one.
We don't even check the punches on our Metro Series events. Too much effort for an unimportant series. As long as the winner has the right number (it's a scatter).
This brings back memories of hours spent at 1990s Orienteering Australia annual conferences arguing around rules about punching (and manned controls). The rules are still on the books in our national rules
(rule 20.8), although in practice manual punching is only used at very low-key events where no-one is going to bother to enforce the letter of the rules.
At a low-level competition? Chill out. When I was in charge of results at national events, we'd often have overzealous people checking punches. They'd find boxes that didn't look right, or that they thought had no punch, and they'd bring them to me. 95% of the time, I'd take a quick look and say they were fine. It's not about punching, it's about going to controls. I'd see the right pattern in the double punch, or find the punch in the adjacent box, or see a few faint holes that were consistent with the punch. My instructions to them were pretty much that unless they saw a clear punch that was a different pattern, it was probably going to turn out to be okay.
At a Christmas 5-Days I was involved with in the early 1990s, we had a prize for the neatest puncher.
I was once disqualified from a regional championships when the cardboard card disintegrated in the rain and one of the pin holes went with it: despite the rest of the punch for that (isolated) control being clearly visible on the protective plastic (transpaseal) covering.
I think organisers are against you. I recall a Christmas 5 days where you were deemed ineligible from winning due to a DNF on the last day despite the fact it was best 4 out of 5 events and you had enough points in the previous four to win it!
Agree with JJ, an experienced checker can usually find enough evidence of the pattern, even for very faint or double/triple punched boxes. And it is usually quite obvious in the rare case if a person tried to pretend they double-punched by making multiple marks with other punches (I've had kids in school groups try to get away with this, but have never seen it at a "real" orienteering event.)
Participants (especially newcomers) should always be instructed how to use re-punch or extra boxes or another part of the punch card if they didn't get a clean or correct punch initially.
Also, one tip: I always found it much easier to read punch patterns from the back of the card. You have a plain background which makes it faster and easier to read punches that went through the box number, box edge lines, or any marks that the participant might have made on the card such as writing in the code numbers or description symbols.
Good spatial skills help - some checkers are better than others at instantly recognizing a punch that is "backward", "sideways", or punched from the "wrong" side of the card.
And hold it up to the light to look for faint holes.
Also check for dollar bills attached to the card. I find this helps identify correct punches.