Call for Writers -- International History Olympiad

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Call for Writers -- International History Olympiad

Post by Irreligion in Bangladesh » Wed Jun 17, 2015 2:44 pm

Nationals may be over, but NHBB has one final event for the 2014-15 season -- the International History Olympiad, from July 9 to 15. Unfortunately, we are in a time crunch for the writing for this event; fortunately, this will be the final time we need triage-level work before I'm able to properly organize a set's construction. The week includes a Bee, a Bowl, and ten single-subject side events; we need just shy of 2,000 questions (almost all of which are tossups) for the event. We currently have a couple hundred written and several hundred spoken for. We need well over 1,000 questions to finish the job.

I need writers for the standard-distribution Bee, Bowl, and for Bee-formatted subject events in art, classical music, science and technology, recent history, rock & roll, sports, and World War I. I am also interested in subcontracting the art, classical music, science & tech, and recent history events out to editors who will be responsible for finding/writing the entirety of those 140-tossup sets.

We will be paying our maximum standard rates -- $4 per tossup, $6 per 60-second round -- for this event. Editors of side events will be paid a bonus (up to $100) based on the quality of their event and the speed with which it is finished. In addition, anyone who writes more than 40 questions for the IHO in the next two weeks will receive a permanent bonus to their standard NHBB writing rate for future questions -- full details on that will be published after the IHO.

If you are interested in writing, please e-mail me at brad@historybowl.com. State what set(s) you'd like to help for and how much you think you'll be able to write over the next two weeks.

(This message is also going out to everyone who has applied as a writer by e-mailing me at brad@historybowl.com. I'm still looking for writers in general; if you want to write for NHBB but can't write during the next two weeks for the IHO, e-mail me for details!)
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Re: Call for Writers -- International History Olympiad

Post by Cody » Wed Jun 17, 2015 3:01 pm

22 days, ~1800 questions? Remind me again, which genius was it that thought up an event requiring ANOTHER 2000+ tossups....after the massive NHBBB Nationals set?
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Re: Call for Writers -- International History Olympiad

Post by Great Bustard » Wed Jun 17, 2015 3:27 pm

Cody wrote:22 days, ~1800 questions? Remind me again, which genius was it that thought up an event requiring ANOTHER 2000+ tossups....after the massive NHBBB Nationals set?
Me. And you know what? We'll do it, and we'll compensate those who help out with a rate that is highly competitive. There are quite a few people (over 20) who are already writing or have expressed interest in doing so for NHBB. If you don't want to help, don't. But don't think that this is somehow a "burden". It's not - it's an opportunity for people to write during a time in the calendar when many people have relatively few other commitments and a relatively large amount of time on their hands now that school's out. No one should feel the slightest bit of pressure to write. If they don't want to write, no one, least myself, has any right to feel the slightest bit upset with them. For the record, the same held for the NHBB blitz. I am very grateful to those who can write, but do not want to feel that anyone should feel pressure to commit to this solely for abstract reasons like "the good of the game." But having said that, the sort of unconstructive criticism you continue to offer is baseless and unwarranted.
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Re: Call for Writers -- International History Olympiad

Post by Cheynem » Wed Jun 17, 2015 3:39 pm

A few things in response to Dave:

-It's one thing to write questions in the summer, which makes sense, but a two week deadline is a bit perplexing. Why wasn't this call sent out earlier? Was this (groan) yet more questions supposed to have been written by Matt Weiner?

-It's interesting that you say that there is no problem if we choose not to write and that we shouldn't feel guilt tripped to do something for "the good of the game" or the kids or what have you. Because that was precisely the line of rhetoric I was fed time and time again during the NHBB Blitz ("thousands of kids are going to be very disappointed unless you write questions").

-Questions don't proceed from nowhere. If they did, we'd have a College History Bowl.

I think it's fine to write for these projects (and I am going to write for NHBB a bit, although probably not the Olympiad), but Cody's concerns are very valid.
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Re: Call for Writers -- International History Olympiad

Post by Cody » Wed Jun 17, 2015 3:43 pm

Great Bustard wrote:But having said that, the sort of unconstructive criticism you continue to offer is baseless and unwarranted.
A partial list of constructive criticisms with base and warrant that I have most subtlely hidden in my recent posts:
  • Don't threaten baseless and unwarranted lawsuits against quizbowl teams and organizations
  • Don't overpack your Nationals, requiring events to run on weekdays and well into the night
  • Stop announcing new projects that require a massive infusion of questions—in fact, cut them in the future
Last edited by Cody on Wed Jun 17, 2015 3:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Call for Writers -- International History Olympiad

Post by Irreligion in Bangladesh » Wed Jun 17, 2015 3:46 pm

It is, as alluded to in the first post, the last event of the 2014-15 year -- for which Matt Weiner was contracted to write full-time. I'm not privy to anything more than has been publicly said, but I'm guessing that, yes, the expectation for this event was created in that time. The good news is that this event has been in planning stages for more than a few hours -- multiple side events are complete and we have had writers moving on other side events prior to today. We're not at a total blank slate.

This call for writers would have been made earlier, but we first had to complete the European and Asian Championship sets, which were finished and played enjoyably over the last two weekends. It's been triage since March; that it continues into July certainly isn't optimal, but it's what we've got. (I'm looking forward to joining the discussion in Matt Jackson's thread later, when these sets are complete and NHBB transitions to our new model of constructing our sets.)

I've gotten a number of e-mails already -- thank you to those that have offered to write! I'm, obviously, still looking for more -- please contact me at brad@historybowl.com if you're interested.
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Re: Call for Writers -- International History Olympiad

Post by Great Bustard » Wed Jun 17, 2015 4:03 pm

Cheynem wrote:A few things in response to Dave:

-It's one thing to write questions in the summer, which makes sense, but a two week deadline is a bit perplexing. Why wasn't this call sent out earlier? Was this (groan) yet more questions supposed to have been written by Matt Weiner?

-It's interesting that you say that there is no problem if we choose not to write and that we shouldn't feel guilt tripped to do something for "the good of the game" or the kids or what have you. Because that was precisely the line of rhetoric I was fed time and time again during the NHBB Blitz ("thousands of kids are going to be very disappointed unless you write questions").

-Questions don't proceed from nowhere. If they did, we'd have a College History Bowl.

I think it's fine to write for these projects (and I am going to write for NHBB a bit, although probably not the Olympiad), but Cody's concerns are very valid.
I'll respond to Cody's points when I respond to the whole NHBB thread next week, but in response to the above, the "good of the game" argument held to a point during the Blitz when I had been repeatedly lied to by someone the community trusted who then totally flaked out two days before a set was needed. Though those who did write for the Blitz certainly were compensated handsomely for it. In terms of why the call didn't go out earlier, the primary answer is that people have been very busy with NASAT, IHBB Championships, PACE, and NSC over the past few weeks. The amount of time we have to write the needed sets is less than we'd like, but we'll get it done.
There's a categorical difference here between what we have now and the Blitz. While the Olympiad sets were indeed the last of what Weiner was contractually obligated to write for us, we have 15 times more time here to write about 4 times the number of questions the Blitz required. We also now have a full time staffer to handle this. As I have said, we'll get this done, the sets will be of good quality, and since (unlike with College History Bowl) I'm not relying on the word of Matt Weiner, I do feel totally comfortable in guaranteeing that, and do not want anyone to feel pressure to write who doesn't want to.
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so I've got a few questions about this

Post by RexSueciae » Wed Jun 17, 2015 5:16 pm

Great Bustard wrote: I'll respond to Cody's points when I respond to the whole NHBB thread next week, but in response to the above, the "good of the game" argument held to a point during the Blitz when I had been repeatedly lied to by someone the community trusted who then totally flaked out two days before a set was needed.
I don't remember if this point was beaten to death in the response to the Blitz, but I'll ask again: How was it not noticed that questions weren't being written, that sets were not complete, and that several tournaments were in danger of postponement or cancellation? Does anyone understand the labor required to produce literally thousands of questions within a short period of time? Do technologies like Google Docs not exist or function in this section of the universe?
Great Bustard wrote: Though those who did write for the Blitz certainly were compensated handsomely for it. In terms of why the call didn't go out earlier, the primary answer is that people have been very busy with NASAT, IHBB Championships, PACE, and NSC over the past few weeks.
(To clarify, "PACE" is an organization that promotes quizbowl, and "NSC" is a tournament that is written by PACE.) It's considerate that the International History Olympiad didn't burden writers that were otherwise occupied, perhaps, but surely there are people who are not currently working for NAQT, PACE, or HSAPQ, and/or did not attend any of the recent high school nationals? What would have prevented the International History Olympiad from being folded into e.g. the production of the National History Bowl and Bee during the earlier burst of activity? I presume that the recent call for writers for next year's NHBB didn't net enough people, or is it expected that this event will require more questions than they can produce? When will History Bowl and its related activities become truly self-sufficient?

In any case, the fact that projects such as these that require large quantities of writing are consistently announced with fairly short deadlines makes me think that somebody is following the strategy of the Pointy-Haired Boss in order to create false urgency.
Great Bustard wrote: The amount of time we have to write the needed sets is less than we'd like, but we'll get it done.
There is an old and politically incorrect joke that involves the Lone Ranger and Tonto. To paraphrase the punchline--what do you mean by "we," Dave Madden?
Great Bustard wrote: There's a categorical difference here between what we have now and the Blitz. While the Olympiad sets were indeed the last of what Weiner was contractually obligated to write for us, we have 15 times more time here to write about 4 times the number of questions the Blitz required.
At the risk of sounding crude, "we have 15 times more time" than during the Blitz is misleading in the sense that saying "AIDS is much worse than syphilis" is misleading--yeah, sure, that's probably correct, but it is generally preferred to be in neither situation!
Great Bustard wrote: We also now have a full time staffer to handle this.
This was the case a year ago when this past year's set was being written. What makes the situation right now any better, other than "Matt Weiner is an inherently evil daemon and now we have purged his memory from our ranks, this year's full-time staffer is so much awesomer"?
Great Bustard wrote: As I have said, we'll get this done, the sets will be of good quality, and since (unlike with College History Bowl) I'm not relying on the word of Matt Weiner, I do feel totally comfortable in guaranteeing that, and do not want anyone to feel pressure to write who doesn't want to.
No, you're not relying on the word on Matt Weiner--you're relying on the word of the latest group of people who're interested in the money or feel some altruistic urge to help, and on their ability to churn out questions. This time around, are there spreadsheets and things to keep track of what's being written? Is there a Plan B for contingencies just in case someone gets sick or resigns?

I don't want anyone to feel pressure to explain who doesn't want to, but honestly I thought that this sort of (oft-repeated history-related) magical thinking was a thing of the past.
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Re: so I've got a few questions about this

Post by Adventure Temple Trail » Wed Jun 17, 2015 5:47 pm

RexSueciae wrote: What would have prevented the International History Olympiad from being folded into e.g. the production of the National History Bowl and Bee during the earlier burst of activity?
This question does have an answer: I would have, and I did.

In talking with Dave Madden to help set up writing for the HS Nationals sets back in March, the two of us agreed that it made much more sense to make sure that NHBB's high school championship sets were all written, edited, and run -- a momentous task which required about 1600 questions of its own -- before anybody worried about Olympiad. Attempting to write Olympiad at that same time would have more than doubled the amount of work on the emergency writing team's plate. I further posited during that conversation that it'd be unlikely that the Olympiad question content could realistically get done (or, if it relied on dedicated quizbowl writers, realistically get started) until after HSNCT, NSC, and NASAT were all finished. I believe I made the right choice for keeping things manageable and getting all four of those high school national championship events done without breaking anybody.

I'm sure NHBB is aware of the crunch it's in now to get much (not all!) of the Olympiad done, and will find a way to get things done over the next three weeks or trim back on some of its offerings as it sees fit.
Last edited by Adventure Temple Trail on Wed Jun 17, 2015 5:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Call for Writers -- International History Olympiad

Post by Cheynem » Wed Jun 17, 2015 5:56 pm

I think that was both a good and bad idea.

It was good that the Bataan Death March of the NHBB Blitz did not have the International Olympiad component, which would have been equivalent to that scene at the end of the Naked Gun when Ricardo Montalban falls to his death and is repeatedly run over by numerous vehicles.

It was bad that not even a call--a heads up--a request was issued prior to weeks before the tournament. It's nice to wait until after HSNCT, NSC, and NASAT, but:

-surely there are SOME dedicated writers who were not writing for those sets who could have helped
-some info about what was needed would have helped as people perhaps stockpiled a few questions in their free time--like, at least have a spreadsheet and the types of questions available!
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Re: so I've got a few questions about this

Post by acrosby1861 » Wed Jun 17, 2015 5:57 pm

RexSueciae wrote:
Great Bustard wrote: I'll respond to Cody's points when I respond to the whole NHBB thread next week, but in response to the above, the "good of the game" argument held to a point during the Blitz when I had been repeatedly lied to by someone the community trusted who then totally flaked out two days before a set was needed.
I don't remember if this point was beaten to death in the response to the Blitz, but I'll ask again: How was it not noticed that questions weren't being written, that sets were not complete, and that several tournaments were in danger of postponement or cancellation? Does anyone understand the labor required to produce literally thousands of questions within a short period of time? Do technologies like Google Docs not exist or function in this section of the universe?
Great Bustard wrote: Though those who did write for the Blitz certainly were compensated handsomely for it. In terms of why the call didn't go out earlier, the primary answer is that people have been very busy with NASAT, IHBB Championships, PACE, and NSC over the past few weeks.
(To clarify, "PACE" is an organization that promotes quizbowl, and "NSC" is a tournament that is written by PACE.) It's considerate that the International History Olympiad didn't burden writers that were otherwise occupied, perhaps, but surely there are people who are not currently working for NAQT, PACE, or HSAPQ, and/or did not attend any of the recent high school nationals? What would have prevented the International History Olympiad from being folded into e.g. the production of the National History Bowl and Bee during the earlier burst of activity? I presume that the recent call for writers for next year's NHBB didn't net enough people, or is it expected that this event will require more questions than they can produce? When will History Bowl and its related activities become truly self-sufficient?
I agree with Vasa's post. Adding to the mention of Google Docs. There could be one Google Doc per round and have x amount of dedicated people (assuming they either know NHBB format or learn quickly) work on each Doc. I think that would get more rounds done and / or save time, instead of taking several docs of questions and formatting the questions into Bee & Bowl format. Please feel free to agree or disagree with this.

And what I don't understand is why NHBB only has one full time staffer for question writing. Why can't there be multiple full time staffers for questions? Strength in numbers, I guess, but quality over quantity, if that makes any of sense. More people manning the writing job makes the job get done quicker, but the quality of the people manning the job would help, too.

With the way things are going, question wise anyway, I think self-sufficiency for NHBB will take a while.
Cheynem wrote:It was bad that not even a call--a heads up--a request was issued prior to weeks before the tournament. It's nice to wait until after HSNCT, NSC, and NASAT, but:

-surely there are SOME dedicated writers who were not writing for those sets who could have helped
-some info about what was needed would have helped as people perhaps stockpiled a few questions in their free time--like, at least have a spreadsheet and the types of questions available!
I find it shocking how the lack of questions for the Olympiad is just going out now. That would've given people more time to either start writing for the Olympiad or, as Mike said, have a spreadsheet or question stockpile or something of that nature that could be used to help with the situation

Again, please feel free to agree or disagree with this. I don't think I'm seeing both sides of the issue.
Last edited by acrosby1861 on Wed Jun 17, 2015 6:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Call for Writers -- International History Olympiad

Post by Adventure Temple Trail » Wed Jun 17, 2015 6:00 pm

Cheynem wrote:I think that was both a good and bad idea.

It was good that the Bataan Death March of the NHBB Blitz did not have the International Olympiad component, which would have been equivalent to that scene at the end of the Naked Gun when Ricardo Montalban falls to his death and is repeatedly run over by numerous vehicles.

It was bad that not even a call--a heads up--a request was issued prior to weeks before the tournament. It's nice to wait until after HSNCT, NSC, and NASAT, but:

-surely there are SOME dedicated writers who were not writing for those sets who could have helped
-some info about what was needed would have helped as people perhaps stockpiled a few questions in their free time--like, at least have a spreadsheet and the types of questions available!
I don't disagree with any of this. It is true that the International History Olympiad events are listed on their site, but it's admittedly unlikely that many prospective writers would check that list (or volunteer to start writing the things on it) of their own initiative. If my advice did end up impeding some amount of progress that could have realistically happened between the writing of the NHBB HS Nats sets and now, I am sorry.
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Re: Call for Writers -- International History Olympiad

Post by Cheynem » Wed Jun 17, 2015 6:02 pm

I don't disagree with your decision, to be clear, and I think you're correct that any call in general would have attracted minimal attention during HS national season. But the Powers That Be at NHBB should have recognized a distinction between "not starting the big push" and "not mentioning a need." But I guess Jacqueline Susann was correct in saying that the past is another country, so I suppose "we" should just try and get it done.
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Re: Call for Writers -- International History Olympiad

Post by acrosby1861 » Wed Jun 17, 2015 6:16 pm

Matthew J wrote:If my advice did end up impeding some amount of progress that could have realistically happened between the writing of the NHBB HS Nats sets and now, I am sorry.
If there were any leftover questions while writing for NHBB Nationals (like questions that didn't get included in the Nationals set because too many questions were written), couldn't those leftover questions be used for the Olympiad?
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Re: Call for Writers -- International History Olympiad

Post by AKKOLADE » Wed Jun 17, 2015 8:17 pm

in on these shenanigans wrote:We will be paying our maximum standard rates -- $4 per tossup, $6 per 60-second round
So, not only are we trying to write THOUSANDS of questions for a national championship, but we're doing them at a rate that I heard is actually below what you were paying Weiner before the great screw up of 2015, and we're doing them in three weeks?

Am I f**ing high? Is this real life?

edited for time and content--Right to Censor
Last edited by AKKOLADE on Wed Jun 17, 2015 8:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Call for Writers -- International History Olympiad

Post by heterodyne » Wed Jun 17, 2015 8:42 pm

So in what world are there 140 World War One answerlines that would be appropriate for this audience?
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Re: Call for Writers -- International History Olympiad

Post by jonpin » Wed Jun 17, 2015 9:00 pm

Along that line, are middle schoolers and the best 19-year-old players in the world playing on the same questions (even if in separate fields)? You can't write questions that are playable by the former and adequately distinguish the latter.
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Re: Call for Writers -- International History Olympiad

Post by heterodyne » Wed Jun 17, 2015 9:11 pm

jonpin wrote:Along that line, are middle schoolers and the best 19-year-old players in the world playing on the same questions (even if in separate fields)? You can't write questions that are playable by the former and adequately distinguish the latter.
There are middle schoolers in this field?? I'd like to include the following addendum in my previous statement: in what world, other than Dave Madden's Fantasy Universe, is there ANY set of questions, let alone one being written as a rush job that will almost certainly lead to suboptimal difficulty control, that both Bruce :capybara: ing Lou and middle schoolers who've barely picked up a buzzer can play and have fun on?
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Re: Call for Writers -- International History Olympiad

Post by Great Bustard » Thu Jun 18, 2015 6:14 am

To address the more legitimate questions and points here briefly:

1. We are using googledocs, checklists, and the like. We are also going to keep daily tabs on everyone's progress and adjust as needed. In terms of Fred's point, Weiner was making a rate commensurate with his status as a top question writer who was getting a higher rate than usual since he took on a large commitment. That didn't work out, obviously, but $4 is a very good rate. If we need to, then (just as we did for the Blitz), we'll go higher. But I would strongly urge anyone interested in writing not to wait for the rates to go way up, because already we have over 20 people working on this, and it's unlikely we'll need to go much higher if at all. Questions - whether for HSAPQ, NAQT, NHBB, or anyone - are commodities that obey the laws of supply and demand. Given the supply of question writers and the demands of the sets, ultimately, the price will adjust accordingly if needed.

2. The comparison of saying AIDS is worse than syphillis is hogwash. There is a categorical difference in the amount of time we have now to get this done versus the blitz. My comparison of 15 times the amount of time vs. 4 times as many questions isn't really even accurate - the Blitz had to happen in about 18 hours (it ended up happening in 11). And that was a hard deadline with no leeway whatsoever. None of these sets will be used prior to July 10. So that is actually then about 22 days, so it's more like about 30 times the amount of time if the comparison with the Blitz is going to be applied in the most accurate way. No one is saying here that this is an ideal situation or that this is the way it should be / will be in the future. But within the past three weeks, we've brought in a new question director who is highly regarded and doesn't have Weiner's reputation for blowing off sets, had been told to wait as Matt Jackson said, to make a big push on this, and have indeed had people working on this. As Brad mentioned, some of the sets have already been completed in full. And Brad himself and other writers has been working on this for some time now.

3. As to Arianne's point, there were about 50 leftover questions from Nationals - these were not posted (obviously) and have been added to the mix. There are also other questions from our archive which we've been maintaining and questions other writers have brought to our attention over the past few days. Again, we're using whatever we can, but we also are going to ensure that the quality and difficulty levels are appropriate. On the other hand, contrary to what Matt J. posted in the other thread, we don't have "hella money" and the last time we hired someone to be a full time question writer, well, we all know how well that went, so there's no need, nor is it advisable to have more than one full time question person.

4. In terms of middle school questions, these will indeed be different. The middle school rounds will be 5 questions shorter each, the questions themselves will be shorter / more accessible, and in some cases, we'll write new questions altogether. We are aware that there are going to be many different ability levels playing these sets. On the other hand, the Olympiad itself works differently than any other event. Not every student is expected (or advised) to compete in everything. Think of it as the difference between cramming for a test and playing a normal quizbowl tournament. All of the more narrowly-construed sets are meant for students who either are already strong in those fields / looking to study those over the next few weeks. By June 25, we'll send out some study lists for these events too to help guide students along (except for the Scramble where the whole point of the competition is to study hard while the Olympiad is going on since that topic is only revealed the first night of the competition).
I'm sure NHBB is aware of the crunch it's in now to get much (not all!) of the Olympiad done, and will find a way to get things done over the next three weeks or trim back on some of its offerings as it sees fit.
Yes, we're aware, and we will do what it takes. Again, we are very grateful to anyone who is willing to help out here, and will compensate them accordingly. We will certainly get all of this done, and Brad and I will be working together to make sure we have a sustainable plan in place for next year which will include among other things:
-Training more writers
-Using a new database system for question tracking
-Planned double coverage of sets to avoid problems of writers flaking out
-Competitive writing rates
-Identifying writers who want to focus on NHBB/USGO in particular as opposed to being freelancers who write for many different sets/organizations

Bringing Brad on board is a huge step forward in the right direction - there was a lot of talk back after the Blitz about why I wasn't talking more about a new plan. The answer then, which still holds now to some extent, is that things are a work in progress, and we are focused primarily on the immediate task at hand. Despite everything, 2014-15 has been NHBB/IHBB's largest and most successful year to date with sustainable growth being put in place despite the challenges NHBB has faced. Much more on the NHBB thread from me next week, but I am not blind to what needs to happen in order to ensure successful competitions, and I will do whatever it takes to ensure that happens both for the Olympiad and for all our future events.
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Re: Call for Writers -- International History Olympiad

Post by Benin Rebirth Party » Thu Jun 18, 2015 10:45 am

Cheynem wrote: -surely there are SOME dedicated writers who were not writing for those sets who could have helped
-some info about what was needed would have helped as people perhaps stockpiled a few questions in their free time--like, at least have a spreadsheet and the types of questions available!
Skimming through the names on the email list, there doesn't seem to be many heavily involved writers that signed up.
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Re: Call for Writers -- International History Olympiad

Post by Great Bustard » Thu Jun 18, 2015 2:02 pm

In going through my emails, I discovered an email I had sent to various people last month asking for help with the Olympiad sets and promising a rate of $4.50 a question. I'll hold to that rate for all Olympiad tossups - the other question rates will also be increased by $.50 accordingly. This should further help encourage people to write. On the other hand, if you make an agreement to write a set number of tossups and are given a deadline for that, the $4.50 rate will only hold if you submit it on time. NHBB is under no obligation to accept questions - at any rate, let alone $4.50 - if they are not delivered on time. For writers who are not writing on a formal agreement basis, the $4.50 rate will still hold, though we're moving over to set commitments from everyone so as to ensure that we will get the questions as needed.
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Re: Call for Writers -- International History Olympiad

Post by RexSueciae » Thu Jun 18, 2015 4:44 pm

I really shouldn't keep wading into this, but--I don't think the sheer scale of this enterprise has quite gotten through yet. Just the Olympiad, too--if the Blitz (and the creation of the rest of the History Bowl and Bee standbys) hadn't happened, then this event alone would have been one of the most extreme cases of last-minute writing in quizbowl to date, several orders of magnitude above everything else this year and probably in recent memory!

A deadline approximately 22 days from now, even compared to the disaster that was March 5th, is not a lot of time! When the namesake and head editor of DEES abandoned ship, the remaining editors of that tournament had pretty much the same amount of time to get together all the submitted packets, edit them, write several more packets, and compile everything for the first mirror sites--and they somehow pulled it off by the skin of their teeth. It took that amount of time to produce from scratch something like 60 questions (2.5 packets plus some tiebreakers) while also working to ensure that the questions that were submitted were of reasonably high quality (a process that could have involved anything from switching clues around to nearly rewriting a question but retaining the answerline, depending on the submission). That process involved editing assistance and freelance contributions from twelve different people (Ike Jose, Rob Carson, Mike Cheyne, Will Alston, Shan Kothari, John Lawrence, Jacob Reed, Tejas Raje, Saul Hankin, Mik Larsen, Cody Voight, and Matt Weiner) plus the original editors who took over after Charlie Dees went missing (Victor Prieto and Brian McPeak), a veritable who's who of the community's competent writers, and even so the project got done just in the nick of time. Does the International History Olympiad have a similar writing and editing corps for this event?

Not to impugn the work ethic of everyone who's volunteered thus far, but a total output of "well over 1,000 questions" or "just shy of 2,000 questions" is an awful lot to ask of anyone, even assuming that this newly assembled writing team of ~20 people is composed of the most prolific writers in the business. At this point, even counting questions allegedly "spoken for" the International History Olympiad looks to be an even more ambitious project than NASAT (44 questions per round times 20 rounds equals 880 questions) and the NSC (47 questions per round times 25 rounds equals 1175 questions)! Not only that, it's supposed to be finished in an absolutely tiny length of time that might work if people work very fast and quality is sacrificed, and which is much less than what the large writing teams assigned to NASAT and the NSC had available to them! I do realize that the situation isn't ideal, that a unique series of events led up to this task, and that hopefully it won't happen again, but how badly do people really need the Olympiad this year, which already dwarfs two of high school quizbowl's regular championships and which serves no purpose other than to give second-rate teams the chance to pay through the nose for a chance to see Williamsburg?
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Re: Call for Writers -- International History Olympiad

Post by Al Hirt » Thu Jun 18, 2015 9:34 pm

RexSueciae wrote:I really shouldn't keep wading into this, but--I don't think the sheer scale of this enterprise has quite gotten through yet. Just the Olympiad, too--if the Blitz (and the creation of the rest of the History Bowl and Bee standbys) hadn't happened, then this event alone would have been one of the most extreme cases of last-minute writing in quizbowl to date, several orders of magnitude above everything else this year and probably in recent memory!

A deadline approximately 22 days from now, even compared to the disaster that was March 5th, is not a lot of time! When the namesake and head editor of DEES abandoned ship, the remaining editors of that tournament had pretty much the same amount of time to get together all the submitted packets, edit them, write several more packets, and compile everything for the first mirror sites--and they somehow pulled it off by the skin of their teeth. It took that amount of time to produce from scratch something like 60 questions (2.5 packets plus some tiebreakers) while also working to ensure that the questions that were submitted were of reasonably high quality (a process that could have involved anything from switching clues around to nearly rewriting a question but retaining the answerline, depending on the submission). That process involved editing assistance and freelance contributions from twelve different people (Ike Jose, Rob Carson, Mike Cheyne, Will Alston, Shan Kothari, John Lawrence, Jacob Reed, Tejas Raje, Saul Hankin, Mik Larsen, Cody Voight, and Matt Weiner) plus the original editors who took over after Charlie Dees went missing (Victor Prieto and Brian McPeak), a veritable who's who of the community's competent writers, and even so the project got done just in the nick of time. Does the International History Olympiad have a similar writing and editing corps for this event?

Not to impugn the work ethic of everyone who's volunteered thus far, but a total output of "well over 1,000 questions" or "just shy of 2,000 questions" is an awful lot to ask of anyone, even assuming that this newly assembled writing team of ~20 people is composed of the most prolific writers in the business. At this point, even counting questions allegedly "spoken for" the International History Olympiad looks to be an even more ambitious project than NASAT (44 questions per round times 20 rounds equals 880 questions) and the NSC (47 questions per round times 25 rounds equals 1175 questions)! Not only that, it's supposed to be finished in an absolutely tiny length of time that might work if people work very fast and quality is sacrificed, and which is much less than what the large writing teams assigned to NASAT and the NSC had available to them! I do realize that the situation isn't ideal, that a unique series of events led up to this task, and that hopefully it won't happen again, but how badly do people really need the Olympiad this year, which already dwarfs two of high school quizbowl's regular championships and which serves no purpose other than to give second-rate teams the chance to pay through the nose for a chance to see Williamsburg?



To make the field you'd have to qualify in the top 50% at NHBB or an IHBB or win a regional/state bee. Also, with the American competitors, you have JV stars like Alex Schmidt and Luke Tierney, senior studs like Ben Koppel, and of course the bee champion himself Bruce Lou. These are four players, but they basically represent the field, and I'm sure the international kids won't be slouches either. I get that this process can be frustrating, but the field is certainly not second rate and it's an insult to the competitors to call it that.
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Re: Call for Writers -- International History Olympiad

Post by RexSueciae » Thu Jun 18, 2015 11:25 pm

Al Hirt wrote: To make the field you'd have to qualify in the top 50% at NHBB or an IHBB or win a regional/state bee. Also, with the American competitors, you have JV stars like Alex Schmidt and Luke Tierney, senior studs like Ben Koppel, and of course the bee champion himself Bruce Lou. These are four players, but they basically represent the field, and I'm sure the international kids won't be slouches either. I get that this process can be frustrating, but the field is certainly not second rate and it's an insult to the competitors to call it that.
Nobody's contesting that there are good players attending this event. That being said, looking at members of the top few teams from the Varsity division of the 2015 National History Bowl, we've got the following listed in the IHO field: Bruce Lou from Saratoga (registration pending), nobody from LASA, three people from Richard Montgomery, nobody from High Tech, nobody from Bethlehem, nobody from Farragut, nobody from Lexington, nobody from Centennial, nobody from DCC, nobody from IMSA, nobody from Ransom Everglades, Andrew Huang from Arcadia, nobody from Northmont, nobody from Whitney, nobody from Ridgewood other than Dave Madden, nobody from GDS, I have no idea what TriBeCa is, nobody from Maggie Walker, nobody from Wilmington Charter, nobody from Loyola Academy, nobody from Edmond Memorial, nobody from Collins Hill, and nobody from Dyer County. See the general trend?

Qualifying for the International History Olympiad at the present moment isn't actually very hard to do. Eligible to attend are the following: "everyone who finished in the top half at Nationals either this year or last in either the Bee or the Bowl, or was on a Consolation Champion team, or was a US History Bee playoff finisher at Nationals, or won a regional competition in the Bee or Bowl." That, and many of the teams who placed highly at, for example, the National History Bowl are disinclined to attend due to this being the first year this event was held, the fact that it has not yet gained the gravitas of a national championship like the National History Bowl, or the fact that many people are now on summer vacation and can't be bothered. But that's not the focal point of this conversation--the question isn't whether or not the policies on the Olympiad's field are sound, or whether the people who did bother to register are from winning teams, but why in hell's half acre is yet another call for writers going out at this hour for another history event that is taking place after the community that has until now been answering such emergency calls is in a state of torpor following all the regular high school nationals and the aftermath of the Blitz!
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Re: Call for Writers -- International History Olympiad

Post by Santa Claus » Fri Jun 19, 2015 2:15 am

RexSueciae wrote:Andrew Huang from Arcadia
That's Andrew Leung, not Andrew Huang; Andrew Huang is from High Tech.
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Re: Call for Writers -- International History Olympiad

Post by RexSueciae » Fri Jun 19, 2015 2:28 am

Santa Claus wrote:
RexSueciae wrote:Andrew Huang from Arcadia
That's Andrew Leung, not Andrew Huang; Andrew Huang is from High Tech.
Whoops. The wrong Andrew is currently listed in the IHO field thread.
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Re: Call for Writers -- International History Olympiad

Post by Great Bustard » Fri Jun 19, 2015 5:33 am

As with many new projects / new regions we take on, it's very difficult for us to predict where things will catch on. I had no way of knowing, for example, that we'd get proportionally more elite JV players than Varsity players or that the Olympiad would take off in Hong Kong. In terms of why the Olympiad is happening, I don't see any of the nearly 100 students who have signed up for it arguing that. Roughly 100 players, by the way, is a perfect size for this in its first year. That proves there's demand for it, and it's not going to be an unmanageable number of students either (we have over 20 staff coming in, btw, as well).
To suggest that the value of the Olympiad is solely in whether it attracts the elite US Varsity players misses the point. Sure, we'd love to have more of them, and hopefully in future years we will. For comparison, no one, myself included, is suggesting that NASAT be called off even though this year NASAT had just 12 teams. For what it's worth, I'd love to see international teams go to NASAT (IASAT?) too one day. One of my hopes in the Olympiad is that it can be a way to help quiz bowl, in addition to just IHBB, grow overseas too. Trust me, our international efforts are not "bizarre" as someone called them - they're sustainable, growing, and lots of fun for both IHBB staff and the students who play them. In time, IHBB can be a catalyst for all-subject quiz bowl growth overseas too. Bringing in players from Canada, Europe, and Asia (now Puerto Rico too), and giving them the chance to get to know US quiz bowl / NHBB players at the Olympiad will help further that process, in contrast with the direction this thread has recently gone off in.
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Re: Call for Writers -- International History Olympiad

Post by johntait1 » Fri Jun 19, 2015 11:13 am

RexSueciae wrote:
Al Hirt wrote: To make the field you'd have to qualify in the top 50% at NHBB or an IHBB or win a regional/state bee. Also, with the American competitors, you have JV stars like Alex Schmidt and Luke Tierney, senior studs like Ben Koppel, and of course the bee champion himself Bruce Lou. These are four players, but they basically represent the field, and I'm sure the international kids won't be slouches either. I get that this process can be frustrating, but the field is certainly not second rate and it's an insult to the competitors to call it that.
Nobody's contesting that there are good players attending this event. That being said, looking at members of the top few teams from the Varsity division of the 2015 National History Bowl, we've got the following listed in the IHO field: Bruce Lou from Saratoga (registration pending), nobody from LASA, three people from Richard Montgomery, nobody from High Tech, nobody from Bethlehem, nobody from Farragut, nobody from Lexington, nobody from Centennial, nobody from DCC, nobody from IMSA, nobody from Ransom Everglades, Andrew Huang from Arcadia, nobody from Northmont, nobody from Whitney, nobody from Ridgewood other than Dave Madden, nobody from GDS, I have no idea what TriBeCa is, nobody from Maggie Walker, nobody from Wilmington Charter, nobody from Loyola Academy, nobody from Edmond Memorial, nobody from Collins Hill, and nobody from Dyer County. See the general trend?
TriBeCa is New York school whose team consists of Alex Oltarsh if you're curious. We played him at Nationals.
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Re: Call for Writers -- International History Olympiad

Post by Great Bustard » Fri Jun 19, 2015 12:10 pm

RexSueciae wrote:
Santa Claus wrote:
RexSueciae wrote:Andrew Huang from Arcadia
That's Andrew Leung, not Andrew Huang; Andrew Huang is from High Tech.
Whoops. The wrong Andrew is currently listed in the IHO field thread.
This has been fixed, and the divisions of each player have been added too.
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Re: Call for Writers -- International History Olympiad

Post by jonpin » Fri Jun 19, 2015 4:43 pm

Great Bustard wrote:As with many new projects / new regions we take on, it's very difficult for us to predict where things will catch on. I had no way of knowing, for example, that we'd get proportionally more elite JV players than Varsity players or that the Olympiad would take off in Hong Kong. In terms of why the Olympiad is happening, I don't see any of the nearly 100 students who have signed up for it arguing that. Roughly 100 players, by the way, is a perfect size for this in its first year. That proves there's demand for it, and it's not going to be an unmanageable number of students either (we have over 20 staff coming in, btw, as well).
You've used this exact line of argument in the past, and it's not as valid as you might think. In each case, the idea of "Well this batch of students over here is getting a product, so they're satisfied" isn't telling the whole story, when there's the opportunity cost of making another product (which that other batch of students over there is getting) better than it has been. In the case of nationals, I fully agree with you that the Bowl and Bee are two inseparable parts of the product. And I agree with Cody that the ancillary crap on Friday (and this year, Thursday!) isn't the best idea. Yes, students showed up and competed, but could any of the high-level staffers better spent their time making preparations for the main event Saturday and Sunday? Is it worth running a Sports and Entertainment Bee for grown-ups that some staffers will use as an excuse to miss the staff meeting telling them how to run a game?
To suggest that the value of the Olympiad is solely in whether it attracts the elite US Varsity players misses the point. Sure, we'd love to have more of them, and hopefully in future years we will. For comparison, no one, myself included, is suggesting that NASAT be called off even though this year NASAT had just 12 teams. For what it's worth, I'd love to see international teams go to NASAT (IASAT?) too one day.
This first sentence is disingenuous at best. There's a reason you call this thing specifically the International History Olympiad and not the International History Championships, or the World History Bowl, or HistoryCon, and that reason is because of the cachet of the International Mathematical Olympiad and the International Chemistry Olympiad and so forth. Well, the reason those competitions attract attention is because they restrict participation to the absolute best students in each country around the world, and those absolute best students almost universally show up to compete.
In time, IHBB can be a catalyst for all-subject quiz bowl growth overseas too. Bringing in players from Canada, Europe, and Asia (now Puerto Rico too), and giving them the chance to get to know US quiz bowl / NHBB players at the Olympiad will help further that process, in contrast with the direction this thread has recently gone off in.
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I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt this time that it was not your intention, but this last sentence is coming fairly close to complaining about criticism in a way that is telling people what they should and shouldn't post. Asking "Is there any end to the frequency and magnitude with which Dave Madden asks quiz bowl people to save his ever-growing enterprises?" is absolutely a quiz bowl topic.
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Re: Call for Writers -- International History Olympiad

Post by Great Bustard » Sat Jun 20, 2015 12:18 am

jonpin wrote: You've used this exact line of argument in the past, and it's not as valid as you might think. In each case, the idea of "Well this batch of students over here is getting a product, so they're satisfied" isn't telling the whole story, when there's the opportunity cost of making another product (which that other batch of students over there is getting) better than it has been. In the case of nationals, I fully agree with you that the Bowl and Bee are two inseparable parts of the product. And I agree with Cody that the ancillary crap on Friday (and this year, Thursday!) isn't the best idea. Yes, students showed up and competed, but could any of the high-level staffers better spent their time making preparations for the main event Saturday and Sunday? Is it worth running a Sports and Entertainment Bee for grown-ups that some staffers will use as an excuse to miss the staff meeting telling them how to run a game?
If Nationals on Saturday and Sunday had had major logistical issues for any of the last 3 years, then you would have a valid point. But that was not the case, and calling the US History Bee and the US Geography Olympiad crap is an absurd characterization. We won't bother with the Lorenz Cup next year, but there's no sense in cutting competitions that already run fine, get better each year, attract hundreds of students, are legitimate National Championships in their own right, and in the case of USGO, give US students a chance to go to the International Geography Olympiad.
jonpin wrote: This first sentence is disingenuous at best. There's a reason you call this thing specifically the International History Olympiad and not the International History Championships, or the World History Bowl, or HistoryCon, and that reason is because of the cachet of the International Mathematical Olympiad and the International Chemistry Olympiad and so forth. Well, the reason those competitions attract attention is because they restrict participation to the absolute best students in each country around the world, and those absolute best students almost universally show up to compete.
There are a number of issues at play here. Even if the other Olympiads restrict participation to 4 students per country (in the case of iGeo at least, I'm not sure about the others), is that an optimal approach either? Should Macao really get 4 students along with the entirety of the rest of China (minus Hong Kong) and the USA? Do you think there's value in having quiz bowl competitions at an Olympiad? I do, and again, among manifold other reasons for it, think it's a good way to help quiz bowl catch on around the world. The Olympiad will grow and develop over time (the other Olympiads largely started small too), and there's certainly all sorts of reasons to debate the form it can and should take. But the way we are setting it up is going to give far more students the chance to compete in it, than any other Olympiad, and I believe there is something to be said for that. For what it's worth, at iGeo, 50% of students get a medal; at the Intl. History Olympiad, gold, silver, and bronze will just go to 3 students per age group per event, so if we're talking prestige and being exclusive, being a medalist at the History Olympiad will carry more weight than elsewhere.
jonpin wrote: I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt this time that it was not your intention, but this last sentence is coming fairly close to complaining about criticism in a way that is telling people what they should and shouldn't post. Asking "Is there any end to the frequency and magnitude with which Dave Madden asks quiz bowl people to save his ever-growing enterprises?" is absolutely a quiz bowl topic.
Expressing an opinion on the value of a thread is not the same as telling people what to post. There was no imperative mood in any sentence I used. I agree with you that the topic at hand is germane to quiz bowl, but I have every right to think that a particular discussion is being unfair and counterproductive - that's a personal opinion, not a matter of telling anyone what they should or should not do.
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Re: Call for Writers -- International History Olympiad

Post by Large Adult Song » Sat Jun 20, 2015 10:30 am

Great Bustard wrote:
jonpin wrote: This first sentence is disingenuous at best. There's a reason you call this thing specifically the International History Olympiad and not the International History Championships, or the World History Bowl, or HistoryCon, and that reason is because of the cachet of the International Mathematical Olympiad and the International Chemistry Olympiad and so forth. Well, the reason those competitions attract attention is because they restrict participation to the absolute best students in each country around the world, and those absolute best students almost universally show up to compete.
There are a number of issues at play here. Even if the other Olympiads restrict participation to 4 students per country (in the case of iGeo at least, I'm not sure about the others), is that an optimal approach either? Should Macao really get 4 students along with the entirety of the rest of China (minus Hong Kong) and the USA? Do you think there's value in having quiz bowl competitions at an Olympiad? I do, and again, among manifold other reasons for it, think it's a good way to help quiz bowl catch on around the world. The Olympiad will grow and develop over time (the other Olympiads largely started small too), and there's certainly all sorts of reasons to debate the form it can and should take. But the way we are setting it up is going to give far more students the chance to compete in it, than any other Olympiad, and I believe there is something to be said for that. For what it's worth, at iGeo, 50% of students get a medal; at the Intl. History Olympiad, gold, silver, and bronze will just go to 3 students per age group per event, so if we're talking prestige and being exclusive, being a medalist at the History Olympiad will carry more weight than elsewhere.
The point of International Olympiads is not to maximize participation, it is for countries to compete against other countries. Think of it as the FIFA World Cup, except that each nation will be able to field a team. It's not as if the stronger countries like Germany or Brazil are allowed to field more teams, although I'm sure that the Brazilian fourth-string reserve team is far better than whatever team Bhutan will be able to create in any given year. Instead, the International Olympiads allow for sovereign states and their equivalents to compete against one another so that a country may be crowned the world champion.

That's not what the International History Olympiad seems to be- instead, it is an amalgamation of various events where the word "International" means "any intelligent being on Earth is allowed to participate" and "Olympiad" means "competition". Being an a qualifier for IMO, IPhO, IChO, or any of the legitimate Olympiads is a great deal, as having qualified implies that you went through the rigorous selection process. Winning a medal means that you placed in the top 50% of national team members, which carries far more weight than placing in the top three of your age category at a specific event at HistoryCon.

Spreading quizbowl around the world? You're already doing that with IHBB, which seems to be going pretty well, and I do appreciate your efforts to spread the game, especially in Asia. But stripping IHO of the prestige that International Olympiads garner by the inclusion of events like Table Combined and reenactments and a Civilization tournament does nothing but degrade the event into HistoryCon, and only damages the legitimacy and reputation of NHBB/IHBB. If retaining the name of this event is paramount, then ramp up the qualification standards. This might mean that less than a dozen countries and less than a hundred participants compete at the first IHO, but like you said, hopefully it will follow the path of the other Olympiads and grow soon.

If you want to hold this event, go for it! I would attend if it wasn't so costly, and it does look really fun. But marketing it as the "International History Olympiad" is insulting every participant of the real Olympiads, and amounts to false advertisement, akin to :chip: 's "National Academic Championship".
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Re: Call for Writers -- International History Olympiad

Post by Deviant Insider » Sat Jun 20, 2015 11:11 am

The science Olympiads had smaller beginnings than this one. They started out as a small number of Communist countries competing against each other, but called themselves International Olympiads because "International Olympiad" is a cool name. The Math Olympiad got some non-Communist countries to compete for the first time in its 9th year, long after starting with 7 teams its first year and dropping to 5 teams its second year. It was cancelled in its 22nd year because people assumed Mongolia was going to host it, but Mongolia didn't feel like hosting, and nobody felt like stepping up. The 7th Physics Olympiad was cancelled because nobody felt like hosting it. I was one of 20 finalists for the first US Physics Team, which competed in the 17th Physics Olympiad, and which isn't much of a brag because only 150 people tried out, and I was not selected for the actual team.

The History Olympiad is different from the other Olympiads because the others copied their formats from the Math Olympiad, so they all have a similar structure that is not being used in the History Olympiad.
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Re: Call for Writers -- International History Olympiad

Post by acrosby1861 » Sat Jun 20, 2015 6:24 pm

As Romulus his Bee-like Cell wrote: Spreading quizbowl around the world? You're already doing that with IHBB, which seems to be going pretty well, and I do appreciate your efforts to spread the game, especially in Asia. But stripping IHO of the prestige that International Olympiads garner by the inclusion of events like Table Combined and reenactments and a Civilization tournament does nothing but degrade the event into HistoryCon, and only damages the legitimacy and reputation of NHBB/IHBB. If retaining the name of this event is paramount, then ramp up the qualification standards. This might mean that less than a dozen countries and less than a hundred participants compete at the first IHO, but like you said, hopefully it will follow the path of the other Olympiads and grow soon.

If you want to hold this event, go for it! I would attend if it wasn't so costly, and it does look really fun. But marketing it as the "International History Olympiad" is insulting every participant of the real Olympiads, and amounts to false advertisement, akin to :chip: 's "National Academic Championship".
I too would go to the Olympiad if it didn't cost so much (also, I have a few other things going on in the middle of July, but I could rotate my schedule). And from my understanding, most of the people who qualified for the Olympiad would've done so through Bee & Bowl style formats. So in my mind, if you qualified through using a buzzer, you're most likely going to enter the events with a buzzer. I don't know if adding other events would increase variety or something, but I'm pretty sure you can play Civ on your own time (correct me if I'm wrong because I don't play Civ but know people who do). And you can go see colonial Williamsburg on your own time.

The qualification should definitely be higher because the Olympiad's supposed to be for the best of the best. If the best players represent their countries in the Olympics and FIFA and similar events, maybe let the top finishers from NHBB and IHBB qualify (like the top four or something). And if one of the top four can't make attend Olympiad, ask the fifth place finisher (and further down if needed). Because isn't "International History Olympiad" supposed to denote "the best history players in the world?" not "a history convention for the the best history players "

Feel free to agree / disagree.
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Re: Call for Writers -- International History Olympiad

Post by Benin Rebirth Party » Sun Jun 21, 2015 2:26 am

acrosby1861 wrote:
As Romulus his Bee-like Cell wrote: Spreading quizbowl around the world? You're already doing that with IHBB, which seems to be going pretty well, and I do appreciate your efforts to spread the game, especially in Asia. But stripping IHO of the prestige that International Olympiads garner by the inclusion of events like Table Combined and reenactments and a Civilization tournament does nothing but degrade the event into HistoryCon, and only damages the legitimacy and reputation of NHBB/IHBB. If retaining the name of this event is paramount, then ramp up the qualification standards. This might mean that less than a dozen countries and less than a hundred participants compete at the first IHO, but like you said, hopefully it will follow the path of the other Olympiads and grow soon.

If you want to hold this event, go for it! I would attend if it wasn't so costly, and it does look really fun. But marketing it as the "International History Olympiad" is insulting every participant of the real Olympiads, and amounts to false advertisement, akin to :chip: 's "National Academic Championship".
I too would go to the Olympiad if it didn't cost so much (also, I have a few other things going on in the middle of July, but I could rotate my schedule). And from my understanding, most of the people who qualified for the Olympiad would've done so through Bee & Bowl style formats. So in my mind, if you qualified through using a buzzer, you're most likely going to enter the events with a buzzer. I don't know if adding other events would increase variety or something, but I'm pretty sure you can play Civ on your own time (correct me if I'm wrong because I don't play Civ but know people who do). And you can go see colonial Williamsburg on your own time.

The qualification should definitely be higher because the Olympiad's supposed to be for the best of the best. If the best players represent their countries in the Olympics and FIFA and similar events, maybe let the top finishers from NHBB and IHBB qualify (like the top four or something). And if one of the top four can't make attend Olympiad, ask the fifth place finisher (and further down if needed). Because isn't "International History Olympiad" supposed to denote "the best history players in the world?" not "a history convention for the the best history players "

Feel free to agree / disagree.
In 5 years or so, IHBB could have both a legit history Olympiad that takes some number of best "All Star" history bowl teams and some number of participants in the history bee from each country, concurrently run with some sort of history convention/glorified ACE camp or whatever the less serious group of participants are doing. Both groups would listen to more or less the same questions. This way you keep the large camp environment open for decently good kids, but leave the "Olympiad" stuff for the elitist.

From what I gather from discussions with my math friends, IMO started off very small, and was easy enough that anyone, even Chris Ray, could do some of the questions during the first year.
heterodyne wrote:
jonpin wrote:Along that line, are middle schoolers and the best 19-year-old players in the world playing on the same questions (even if in separate fields)? You can't write questions that are playable by the former and adequately distinguish the latter.
There are middle schoolers in this field?? I'd like to include the following addendum in my previous statement: in what world, other than Dave Madden's Fantasy Universe, is there ANY set of questions, let alone one being written as a rush job that will almost certainly lead to suboptimal difficulty control, that both Bruce :capybara: ing Lou and middle schoolers who've barely picked up a buzzer can play and have fun on?
yeaaaaaaaaaaaah...
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Re: Call for Writers -- International History Olympiad

Post by Great Bustard » Tue Jun 23, 2015 8:49 pm

David R. is right about the origins of most of the other Olympiads, to the best of my knowledge, though I know that iGeo began in the 1990’s after communism had collapsed (it nevertheless is proportionally attended better in Central and Eastern Europe than by any other part of the world). I think some other Olympiads may also postdate the fall of communism too (Linguistcs? Philosophy?)

As to David S.’s comments, two points. First, there’s no governing body of Olympiads that sanctions all of them, and at least at iGeo (the one I’ve been quite involved with), the explicit point is NOT for each country to compete against each other. Yes, there are overall country rankings made, but these are explicitly not the point of the competition – rather, it’s an individual competition. The overall rankings are done solely for informational purposes. The current champion of iGeo is James Mullen, not the team whose students finished highest in the rankings last year. So the FIFA analogy doesn’t really hold here, and even so, is there any reason it should be this way? For a further comparison, this isn’t exactly how the Olympics themselves work in most sports. There’s a reason that the US and China routinely send hundreds of athletes while smaller countries don’t – and no one claims that that system should be changed. Imagine how bizarre it would be if during the parade of athletes, Monaco and the US had the same sized delegations. I know that sounds absurd, but that’s basically the argument you’re making.

As for the argument on exclusivity, I agree with this to an extent, and in future years it will get harder to qualify for it. But we also needed a critical mass of students in each age group if we were going to have enough teams for each age group to be enjoyable. With 100-105 students likely to attend, we have reached that goal, but if we had limited it this year more, we very well might not have. As the Olympiad and the pool of eligible students grows for it, we will certainly tighten it up. Flash forward ten years from now: by then, IHBB will likely be running in well over 50 countries, with over 100,000 students. While my vision for IHBB is indeed to expand it as far as we can take it, the Olympiad will eventually hit a field cap, and when it does, we will tighten up the qualifications for it. I’d love for there to be 10,000,000 students playing IHBB one day, but the Olympiad will never have 10,000 participants.
Finally, as for other events, note that at iGeo (and I believe the same may be true for other Olympiads), the overwhelming amount of time is NOT spent competing, but rather doing exactly the sort of excursions and informal competitions you seem to dismiss. Last year in Poland, we went on bike trips, rafting trips, trips to a salt mine, walking tours of Krakow, and a visit to Auschwitz, among other things. All of this was time well-spent, but saying that there’s something wrong about doing excursions during the Olympiad isn’t what the iGeo organizers think, at the very least.

As for what events should be part of the Olympiad, that too will be up for debate. But I think that one of the reasons why history hasn’t had an Olympiad to date is that it’s less of a problem-solving discipline (or a science, if you will) than the other disciplines that have Olympiads. In figuring out how to be competitive within the discipline without getting bogged down in too much subjectivity, being able to verify work done in advance is actually that of the students, and having quiz bowl be everything, I’ve obviously been thinking outside the box. We’ll look for feedback from participants, but I don’t see inherently anything wrong with bringing in some events that are somewhat unconventional. Again, for what it’s worth, the IOC has moved in that direction too of late. I don’t think anyone is claiming that Snowboardcross has the gravitas of the 50km Cross Country Ski Race. But which one do you think was a bigger hit with attendees and TV viewers, and is more likely to appeal to teenagers around the world? I don’t want to overdo this analogy, but there’s a reason for why this is happening.

Finally, again on Joe’s point, the sets are being differentiated for middle school level, and are going through multiple editing passes to ensure they are fun to play. Again, I’ve made this point elsewhere, but because of the way the Olympiad works, for the subject-specific events, students who focus their attention on preparing for these can hope to excel in them even if they are not elite players when it comes to things across the boards. Seeing how this plays out in practice is one of the things that I’m really looking forward to at the Olympiad.
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Re: Call for Writers -- International History Olympiad

Post by Irreligion in Bangladesh » Fri Jun 26, 2015 12:38 am

I had an internet-less dinner tonight, so I wrote out an update on how NHBB is doing -- on IHO, sure, but more importantly on setting up for the future.

Through the first week of the three that we've got to write IHO's 2,000 questions, we got 1,254 questions written. There's plenty more to do, they're not all edited, and formatting is still obviously in front of us, but I'm thrilled with the output we've had from our writers so far. There are 57 people contributing tossups to IHO and the 2015-16 NHBB season -- some a few, some a lot, as all good sets should be. So, when I say "we've had a good week," I'm looking at the 57, rather than the 1,254.

The only thing that should convince anyone -- and it shouldn't do it completely -- that NHBB's question production is stable for the future is that 57. Last year, that number was 1, then it was 0, then it was 30. My goal is to see that number get to three digits by the end of the 2015-16 season. Only through sheer quantity of writers can we start to convince the community that 2015 IHO is The Last Blitz. As Matt Jackson said, our best source is graduating NHBB players. I wholeheartedly agree, and I'm looking forward to reaching out to them more when this blitz ends, and as the school year progresses.

But it's not enough. The writers need to be provided with an environment conducive to good writing. No more "I really need somebody to put up 100+ questions in the next week." No more three-week turnarounds from opening-to-deadline. Most of all, no more surprises.

When I got hired, Madden listed what NHBB is currently planning to produce in 2015-16.
*The A, B, and C high school regional sets, with roughly 470 questions each;
*The high school nationals set, with roughly 900 questions;
*A single middle school regionals set, with roughly 400 questions;
*The middle school nationals set, with roughly 800 questions;
*The US History Bee regionals set, with 140 questions;
*The US History Bee nationals set, with 350 questions;
*The high school US Geography Olympiad regionals set, with 140 questions;
*The high school US Geography Olympiad nationals set, with 350 questions;
*The middle school US Geography Olympiad regionals set, with 140 questions;
*The middle school US Geography Olympiad nationals set, with 350 questions;
*The high school Sports and Entertainment Bee set, with 140 questions;
*The middle school Sports and Entertainment Bee set, 140 questions;
*The International History Olympiad (Estimating for next year's event is difficult, as the first iteration hasn't happened yet, but ballparking it at 2,000 again is probably fair.)
*International versions of everything except one of the high school regionals sets, the US History Bee, USGO, and IHO events. (These are conversions of the existing sets into new sets with distributions with less American content; most questions stay the same, some are re-written for more accessible answer lines, some are replaced with local content. "20% of a set" is a stable ceiling on how much might be replaced, so a conservative estimate of how much we need here, among all the sets, is around 800 questions.)
It's a long list, but it's final; my 2015-16 writing team will not be taking part in any events not listed here. If you're thinking about writing for us but are worried when the next 1,000 question set is going to drop, rest easy; it's not coming.

So, it's napkin math in places, but I've got it at around 8,000 questions for the 2015-16 year. For comparison, NAQT's annual production of regular season MS, IS, and IS-A sets -- 14 total tournaments, and not counting the six national sets, the conversions into various state-specific or TV-specific formats -- amounts to 8,160 questions. We're not as big as NAQT yet, and as I said above, we don't have any urgent intention of producing more events to get us there. But we're way closer to NAQT size than anything else, so we need a large, well-organized group of people, and they need to be given ample time to work.

One of the issues in the "flakeout" discussion is the "just-in-time" nature of tournament production; obviously, NHBB has been the loudest violator of that in recent months. In a "just-in-time" production model, you can't playtest to catch typos or feng shui issues, you can't reasonably provide editing advice to new writers, and worst of all, you can't assure customers that they'll get their question sets in time. My number one long-term goal for NHBB is to do away with the "just-in-time" model; we should have a finalized draft of each set written, edited, and packetized no fewer than two weeks before its first use, so that playtesting can reasonably occur. We can't make this happen without a stockpile of questions and a consistent flow of new questions, so we are going to move heaven and earth (and dollars) to create both.

Simply saying "here's what we need, here's who we've got, here's what I want, go" isn't enough to guarantee a good writing environment. Here's what I have planned for the writing process:
*A question submission system that doesn't require the use of Google Docs, so that writers can work without the lag that 20-page documents cause
*An answer spreadsheet within that system, so writers can see how the set is coming and avoid repeats (the best part of using Google Docs)
*An automatic packetizer within that system, so that the editors (me or whoever) don't waste time on formatting
*A tournament production process that allows writers to focus on particular events (like the US History Bee or the middle school sets), even if they aren't "the next set needed"
*An editing process that fosters writer development by preserving the original submission and the edited question, along with helpful comments by the editor, so that writers can hone their craft

None of the above is revolutionary; it's just enough that we'll be functioning like a real writing outfit. What next, then? I'm still working on most of the specifics -- IHO is crowding out that work at the moment, so it'll be announced/posted here/etc. in late July and early August -- but we need to leverage the things NHBB does well to make the writing process easier. When NHBB needed the A-set blitz, it leveraged its finances to make it happen; similarly...
*Within the online system, writers will be paid when their questions are deemed acceptable, not when they are actually edited. If a submitted question looks, to the editor, like it'll be good to go with a reasonable amount of editing, the editor marks it as "ACCEPTED" and the writer gets paid for the question, even if the editor doesn't get around to actually editing it for three years. This is important, because...
*We will be paying writers now for stockpiling questions for use in future years. This includes current high schoolers writing high school level questions, to be saved for after their graduation.
*We will be incentivizing consistent writing. I haven't had time to completely polish the plan -- when it's ready, it'll be posted here and on our website -- but the cornerstone of it is that writing a consistent 10 questions per week will earn you more money per question as time goes on. I don't want people to feel like they have to binge write for us; there was more than enough of that this year.


I've got more I want to say, but this is a decent stopping point for now. I want to respond to more of the discussion in Matt Jackson's threads, both from an NHBB perspective and as an independent coach/moderator, but I probably won't have a chance to until after IHO. I'll respond to discussion here, too.
Brad Fischer
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