Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

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Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Postby Cheynem » Fri Jul 29, 2016 5:30 pm

This is a honest question.

I've worked for the company part-time for a while, always just as a writer, first with HSAPQ then last year as an independent writer. I've never encountered any problems and the pay was reasonable and prompt. However, I was also very much a freelance contractor in all of these instances. I'm just putting it out there to indicate that my own experiences are largely positive.

I have heard from a variety of people opinions about what it is like to work for NHBB as an organization. Some are very positive. Some are extremely negative. In many cases, the opinions are spread behind the scenes in the guise of rumors or backdoor e-mails. I would like for people who have (now or in the past) worked for NHBB/Dave Madden to give some insight on what it's like working and what the pros and cons and their recommendations would be. The reason why I think this should be open is that as NHBB grows, it hires more people for larger posts--I'd like for those people interested in working for the company to know what they are getting themselves into.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Postby AZQuizbowl » Fri Jul 29, 2016 5:50 pm

I'm apparently not allowed to post about my feelings about working for NHBB because of a non disclosure agreement which David Madden is currently attempting to hold against me for prior posts on this board. That about sums up my opinion anyway. David is willing to pursue legal action against me for a nondisclosure agreement that doesn't even hold water. Emphasis is my own:

Pieces of my contract included, but were not limited to:
4. I agree to not work for any other academic competition organization or
company, nor perform independent work in the field of academic
competition
without the express written consent of David Madden. Failure to
do so will result in legal action. This will apply for a minimum of five years
upon termination of my employment with NHBB and/or USGO which must
be submitted in writing to David Madden.

5. I agree not to discuss any strategic plans, budgets, monetary matters, or
other aspects of NHBB or USGO with anyone except recognized NHBB
employees without the express written consent of David Madden. Failure to
do so will result in legal action.

6. This contract is effective immediately upon the signature of the two
undersigned parties and does not have any expiration date. The non-
disclosure agreement is without any termination.

Additionally, from an email from David: (Emphasis is my own)
"I would like to call your attention to the contract you signed when you worked for NHBB. It specifically has a non-disclosure agreement without termination that prohibits you from discussing any aspects of NHBB without my expressed written consent (which you do not have) and from performing work in the field of academic competition for five years. Personally, I do not mind if you continue doing work within Arizona for AQBA, but I expect that your most recent comments regarding NHBB on the forums will be your last ever regarding any aspect of NHBB, USABB, IHO, USGO or the other events NHBB oversees. Otherwise you will be hearing from my attorney, and I will take further necessary measures to get this to stop. If I hear you have been discussing NHBB matters in private conversation with other people, that will also be grounds for legal action."

Keep in mind that I was issued a 1099 while working for NHBB, and therefore was classified as an Independent Contractor. However, I was constantly referred to as an employee of NHBB and the contract itself refers to employees. So, apparently, as an independent contractor I'm not permitted to work in my field for five years, and it doesn't even specify what the "academic competition" field entails. Am I not allowed to become a teacher and coach a quizbowl team? Can I not receive compensation for judging speeches for Academic Decathlon? He literally wants to come after me for discussing NHBB in private conversation. So according to David Madden and this bogus contract, I am not allowed to discuss with students how they did at NHBB nats. I'm not allowed to be a part of the community and provide my opinion on anything NHBB (which is what prompted his email anyway. Because of my posts about the EMS rules change). THIS is what you have to deal with, depending on in what capacity you choose to work for the organization.
Last edited by AZQuizbowl on Fri Jul 29, 2016 6:24 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Postby Sima Guang Hater » Fri Jul 29, 2016 5:55 pm

I did this. I also contributed a few questions to IHO this year, and spent a day and a half trying to bring the Cold War event up to par.

I think Dave Madden is doing something valuable with history bowl. He brings a level of internationalism and pageantry that quizbowl lacks, and is clearly committed to spreading NHBB far and wide. These are things that quizbowl currently lacks, and which I think it could stand to benefit from.

That being said, I have some serious misgivings about the way NHBB organizes its events and with the internal priorities of the organization. In particular, NHBB lacks a commitment to question quality and a lack of respect for its writing corps that I find deeply disturbing.

  • The fact that several tournaments at IHO were being written immediately before they were happening is an absolute organizational failure. Futhermore, this kind of thing keeps happening with NHBB, and it cannot continue to happen if NHBB wants to be representative of good academic competition. This is made worse by the fact that several writers at IHO were frantically trying to finish the tournament while other NHBB staffers were soaking in Hawaii; this is quite distasteful to any notion of fairness (to be clear, this appears to be an organizational issue and not an instance of staffers shirking their duties).
  • The writing corps for NHBB is not nearly on par with those of PACE, NAQT, HSAPQ, or ACF. I regret having to call out particular people, but examples are instructive. Examples like the editor of the scramble event, Arthur Lee, believing that a tossup on the 2016 Harvard Measles outbreak was a good idea (then ignoring my comments stating as much), and volume-writer (and I use the term "writer" with distaste) Andrew Leung spamming ~60 questions that look like they'd been Gibson-assembled from lists of named things on Wikipedia. The latter is particularly frustrating for me personally, as I had to fix those questions, for which he will be paid more than I would for basically re-writing them. These things would not be even remotely acceptable in other quizbowl organizations, but because we were in dire straits, all hands were on deck.
  • This lack of prioritization of writing is reflected in the way money is spent within NHBB. The writing and editing fees for NHBB are not on par with peer quizbowl organizations (even though for editors, its far more work - see above bullet point), yet Madden has enough money to jet-set around the globe with Niki Peters, Shravan Balaji, and Raynell Cooper, to pay for high quality ping-pong paddles, etc.
  • Finally, IHO was made patently worse by the fact that, on top of several of the events not being completed before people landing in Hawaii, Dave Madden demanded over 100 questions for a hybrid ping-pong/quizbowl event that only a week before, writers were told to "not worry about"; it seems he *in particular* wanted them written as IHO was ongoing. Furthermore, several of these questions were apparently recycled from previous sets. I don't know if this is a consequence of the breakneck pace, or by design, but either way it's horrifying. This demonstrates a huge lack of respect for writers, for the writing process, the quality of his events, and for basic axioms of how quizbowl works.

The fundamental thread here is that Dave Madden cannot tell a good question from a bad question, and more importantly, he doesn't seem to care, preferring to focus on pageantry and superficial trappings. Good questions take work, care, time, and research, and cannot be written at the breakneck pace that Dave seems to demand them. I would want people to be aware of this before deciding to work for NHBB, especially those considering working for the organization formally and not freelancing.
Last edited by Sima Guang Hater on Fri Jul 29, 2016 7:17 pm, edited 7 times in total.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Postby TheDoctor » Fri Jul 29, 2016 6:16 pm

In pretty stark contrast to Bunnie's apparent experience (which, according to the contract information she posted, she REALLY shouldn't be talking about), I've found Madden to be actually very understanding about contract terms. As someone who has had to write contracts for SCOP writers, I understand why he protects himself with these clauses, and he's been very considerate about allowing outside work, so long as he knows about it, which is understandable because he does have a lot of stake in his business. If you're thinking of coming on as a question writer for NHBB or USABB, you're working under Brad or me, so I recommend it if you don't mind working with us. I can't comment regarding other aspects of the business because that is all that I do, but I've seen a lot of people (including Bunnie) have a lot of fun working with Madden.

Bottom line: There are stresses, as with any job, but I personally haven't noticed a significant difference between working at NAQT and working at NHBB, except that at the latter I feel more like I can talk directly to my boss more readily (just because I was never clear while working at NAQT exactly who was in charge of what project, so an email could get knocked around a lot before reaching someone who could help, whereas I find this easier to follow with Madden for obvious reasons).
Last edited by TheDoctor on Fri Jul 29, 2016 6:25 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Postby AZQuizbowl » Fri Jul 29, 2016 6:21 pm

TheDoctor wrote:In pretty stark contrast to Bunnie's apparent experience (which, according to the contract information she posted, she REALLY shouldn't be talking about), I've found Madden to be actually very understanding about contract terms. As someone who has had to write contracts for SCOP writers, I understand why he protects himself with these clauses, and he's been very considerate about allowing outside work, so long as he knows about it, which is understandable because

Edit: fat-fingered on a phone. Finishing post now :)


"Understanding about contract terms" and "understanding contract terms" are pretty different.

And for reference, working with Madden was pretty much never fun. Working for the kids that benefited from NHBB was definitely fun, and the whole reason I ever joined the industry to begin with.

EDIT: Wait, have we met in person?
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Postby TheDoctor » Fri Jul 29, 2016 6:35 pm

AZQuizbowl wrote:
I didn't sign a contract until after some time working for him, and when I did it was at his house and didn't really feel negotiable.


Everyone needs to protect themselves.


I realize that you feel really victimized right now, but contracts are always negotiable; Brad and Madden had something like six hours of in-person negotiation before they signed.

To anyone who writes anything for any reason: It's your responsibility as a contractor to obtain a contract immediately to ensure you are paid for your work, and to negotiate that contract until it includes terms that are favourable to you before signing. It is your responsibility to print and keep a copy of any contract you sign for any reason so you can be sure you are operating within the law. If you do your job as a personal contractor to protect yourself and your work, you will have an easier time of it.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Postby AZQuizbowl » Fri Jul 29, 2016 6:44 pm

TheDoctor wrote:
AZQuizbowl wrote:
I didn't sign a contract until after some time working for him, and when I did it was at his house and didn't really feel negotiable.


Everyone needs to protect themselves.


I realize that you feel really victimized right now, but contracts are always negotiable; Brad and Madden had something like six hours of in-person negotiation before they signed.

To anyone who writes anything for any reason: It's your responsibility as a contractor to obtain a contract immediately to ensure you are paid for your work, and to negotiate that contract until it includes terms that are favourable to you before signing. It is your responsibility to print and keep a copy of any contract you sign for any reason so you can be sure you are operating within the law. If you do your job as a personal contractor to protect yourself and your work, you will have an easier time of it.


Contracts certainly don't feel negotiable when you're sitting at your boss' house in New Jersey, and that's where you're staying and how you'll get to the airport. Even if I did have a choice, it certainly didn't feel like I had one. Even with Dave's usually easy-going demeanor, I was young, inexperienced, and felt like if I voiced any of my concerns I'd be on my own in New Jersey for 4 days.

And not all contracts are actually negotiable, but it's my husband who's getting into contract law, not me, so I'll defer to other people who understand unconscionability and the like.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Postby TheDoctor » Fri Jul 29, 2016 6:57 pm

AZQuAZQuizbowl wrote:Wait, have we met in person?


Yes, indeed! We first met in person in the back row of a staff meeting at a national tournament in Rosemont. You were wearing a really cute tan cap, as I recall, and spoke effusively about NHBB. I remember being surprised at your enthusiasm because at that time I hadn't had any real interactions with the people behind the projects and wasn't sure what it was really like on the inside. Your excitement was one of the things that tipped me toward "sure, I'll try it out" regarding USABB. Honestly, I'm glad I did.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Postby AZQuizbowl » Fri Jul 29, 2016 7:00 pm

TheDoctor wrote:
AZQuAZQuizbowl wrote:Wait, have we met in person?


Yes, indeed! We first met in person in the back row of a staff meeting at a national tournament in Rosemont. You were wearing a really cute tan cap, as I recall, and spoke effusively about NHBB. I remember being surprised at your enthusiasm because at that time I hadn't had any real interactions with the people behind the projects and wasn't sure what it was really like on the inside. Your excitement was one of the things that tipped me toward "sure, I'll try it out" regarding USABB. Honestly, I'm glad I did.


I'm glad you're enjoying yourself, honestly. I was very excited to work for NHBB. I greatly enjoyed the students I worked with, many of the teachers and coaches and parents I met, I enjoyed most of my coworkers, and enjoyed being able to run tournaments internationally again. It's a shame that Dave's management style took the enthusiasm right out of me. I'm happy you're experienced enough to look out for yourself. Apologies for not remembering. I've met so many people at NAQT, NHBB, WSC, and AcaDec tournaments that most people run together.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Postby Cody » Fri Jul 29, 2016 7:18 pm

Kristin, maybe you could stop giving (bad) legal advice on the hsquizbowl forums? You're worse than some of the people in r/legaladvice.

Dave Madden: [redacted] you. You're a horrible human being.

User reminded not to swear in the hs section. -mgmt

Edit: oh, and Bunnie, if you haven't already, avail yourself of the services of an actual lawyer (even via law clinic if necessary).
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Postby Cheynem » Fri Jul 29, 2016 7:27 pm

Moderator's note: While you can talk in abstract about the roles of contracts as a NHBB employee, please don't threaten posters with contract enforcement and warnings not to discuss certain topics. That's a private matter that the board staff will not enforce or support.

Personal note: That contract is ridiculous, in my opinion. The idea that it can legally forbid you, someone who is no longer working for a company, from talking about it seems weird, but to restrict a person's employment for five years afterward is even sillier.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Postby Granny Soberer » Fri Jul 29, 2016 7:46 pm

Cheynem wrote:Personal note: That contract is ridiculous, in my opinion. The idea that it can legally forbid you, someone who is no longer working for a company, from talking about it seems weird, but to restrict a person's employment for five years afterward is even sillier.

"Do not compete" agreements are a thing (except in CA), but five years seems excessive, especially given the realities of the QB ecosystem.

That being said, I've only really had positive experiences working for NHBB as a freelance writer, and wouldn't discourage anyone from writing for them based on those.

edit: Given the information posted elsewhere in this thread, I would discourage potential writers from working with David Madden, and would encourage them to lend their services to HSAPQ, NAQT, PACE, or any other good quizbowl question company.
Last edited by Granny Soberer on Sat Jul 30, 2016 12:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Postby AZQuizbowl » Fri Jul 29, 2016 7:52 pm

Granny Soberer wrote:
Cheynem wrote:Personal note: That contract is ridiculous, in my opinion. The idea that it can legally forbid you, someone who is no longer working for a company, from talking about it seems weird, but to restrict a person's employment for five years afterward is even sillier.

"Do not compete" agreements are a thing (except in CA), but five years seems excessive, especially given the realities of the QB ecosystem.

That being said, I've only really had positive experiences working for NHBB as a freelance writer, and wouldn't discourage anyone from writing for them based on those.


Non-competes are even weirder when the person is an independent contractor. The whole point of being an independent contractor is that you're independent. While I can understand the concern of someone letting secrets or plans fly (which is what a non-disclosure is supposed to prevent, not prevent talking about the company at all), the idea that an independent contractor isn't allowed to work within their industry (for five freaking years!) is ridiculous. Oftentimes, independent contractors will work for multiple companies on a contract basis, not an employment basis, even if those companies are within the same industry.

http://nortonlawcorp.com/independent-co ... never-mix/
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Postby AZQuizbowl » Fri Jul 29, 2016 8:00 pm

Granny Soberer wrote:
Cheynem wrote:Personal note: That contract is ridiculous, in my opinion. The idea that it can legally forbid you, someone who is no longer working for a company, from talking about it seems weird, but to restrict a person's employment for five years afterward is even sillier.

"Do not compete" agreements are a thing (except in CA), but five years seems excessive, especially given the realities of the QB ecosystem.

That being said, I've only really had positive experiences working for NHBB as a freelance writer, and wouldn't discourage anyone from writing for them based on those.


I'd like to specify that I have no experience working for NHBB as a writer. I was not contracted to be a writer, I was contracted as a Tournament Coordinator that also turned into me doing a number of random tasks including data entry, recruiting, international recruiting, constructing a flagpole stand for IHO, and overseeing the appropriate accommodations for kids with IEPs regarding written examinations at IHO. I imagine the bulk of the people NHBB needs to hire (or contract) are question writers, and I cannot speak to anything regarding that since I have no experience. I have witnessed question writing, but haven't written any because I am not a writer. So if people are looking into becoming writers for NHBB, please consider the positive and negative points that have so far been outlined in this thread. Hopefully you will have an awesome experience working in an industry you clearly love and being paid for your hard work.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Postby AZQuizbowl » Fri Jul 29, 2016 8:13 pm

Cody wrote:Edit: oh, and Bunnie, if you haven't already, avail yourself of the services of an actual lawyer (even via law clinic if necessary).


I've got an aunt in Tax and Employment Law and she's lining me up with someone in contract law, which will be great since my husband is currently studying contract law and would love the experience of working with someone who's passed the bar.
If Dave actually wants to go through with pursuing legal action about me posting on the forums, then he can do so. Thank you for your concern, Cody. :) I'll keep you guys updated.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Postby AKKOLADE » Fri Jul 29, 2016 9:33 pm

A five year non-compete is a pile of hot trash for quiz bowl.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Postby Cody » Sat Jul 30, 2016 12:01 am

It's worse than a hot pile of trash. It clearly wasn't designed with legal enforceability in mind. Instead, it's very clearly designed to literally kick people out of quizbowl if they don't know anything about non-competes. (given the number of people who quit working for Dave Madden because he's a disaster of a human being and actual idiot, that's a surprisingly smart move on his part).

It's time for quizbowl to sever its ties with Dave Madden for good and watch his fiefdom burn to the ground once there aren't competent people around to save him from himself. It's been abundantly clear for years that NHBB can never be saved while Dave Madden is in charge. This is just yet another example.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Postby Ndg » Sat Jul 30, 2016 12:50 am

AKKOLADE wrote:A five year non-compete is a pile of hot trash for quiz bowl.


Yeah, it's not as if there are "trade secrets" or whatever that a clause like this could be trying to protect. NHBB doesn't have, say, proprietary question-writing or event-hosting strategies. The nature of quiz bowl is such that how its products work is transparent.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Postby Adventure Temple Trail » Sat Jul 30, 2016 1:08 am

The board rules, which every participant here agreed to abide by, wrote:It is absolutely prohibited to threaten, or in any way imply that you are threatening, legal action or the exacting of a monetary fine from any other person for something they posted on the board. If you do this, you will be banned, with no warning or second chance. If you genuinely believe that something libelous has been posted, please contact the board staff immediately and we will address the situation. If you wish to use the boards to call out people for non-board actions that may result in the exchange of money (for example, a team that has not paid its registration fee for your tournament after the agreed-upon time) you may do this within the constraints of the other rules. What is absolutely banned is threatening lawsuits or fines for things posted on the board.


As I read the above, it seems clear to me that the board rules entitle David Madden to a ban from these forums. I advise board staff to move accordingly.

Threatening frivolous lawsuits to intimidate people and stifle discussion of one's shortcomings is a malicious and unethical bullying behavior on par with past excesses from CBI and Questions Unlimited. It should be evident to all people who care about the quizbowl community that this is beyond the pale, no matter how forgiving one was of past instances of idiocy, error, or stubbornness, and that nobody ought to recommend working for, contributing resources to, providing services for, participating in events run by, or dealing with a person who acts in such a way in any capacity from here on out.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Postby vinteuil » Sat Jul 30, 2016 1:27 am

Cody wrote:It's time for quizbowl to sever its ties with Dave Madden for good and watch his fiefdom burn to the ground once there aren't competent people around to save him from himself. It's been abundantly clear for years that NHBB can never be saved while Dave Madden is in charge. This is just yet another example.

As much as I like this idea, we have to acknowledge that
Sima Guang Hater wrote: several of these questions were apparently recycled from previous sets....The fundamental thread here is that Dave Madden cannot tell a good question from a bad question, and more importantly, he doesn't seem to care, preferring to focus on pageantry and superficial trappings. Good questions take work, care, time, and research, and cannot be written at the breakneck pace that Dave seems to demand them. I would want people to be aware of this before deciding to work for NHBB, especially those considering working for the organization formally and not freelancing.

I can easily imagine NHBB descending into chip-like levels of question recycling and low quality. I can also imagine that, as long as Dave keeps spending to make his events look fancy, that might not affect attendance—and therefore, rather than seeing NHBB burn to the ground, we'd have a growing, ever-lower-quality event that's actively competing with quizbowl.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Postby Dominator » Sat Jul 30, 2016 1:45 am

I have some experience working for NHBB, although I'm not sure I want to wade into this thread. Why does this thread exist and not a similar one for NAQT, HSAPQ, etc.? I'd legitimately like to know what working for them is like, and I'm not sure why NHBB is singled out here.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Postby Adventure Temple Trail » Sat Jul 30, 2016 1:59 am

vinteuil wrote:I can easily imagine NHBB descending into chip-like levels of question recycling and low quality. I can also imagine that, as long as Dave keeps spending to make his events look fancy, that might not affect attendance—and therefore, rather than seeing NHBB burn to the ground, we'd have a growing, ever-lower-quality event that's actively competing with quizbowl.


It may be unrealistic to expect that NHBB will collapse once quizbowl withdraws its support, and it does suck for good quizbowl to have a large, bad, ethically-hollow competitor again. But I don't think that those factors should lead good quizbowl to chain itself in perpetuity to a fully ethically-compromised organization that sucks away our time, resources, personnel, tournament dates, and money while threatening to sue the hand that feeds it. In the long term, CBI and Questions Unlimited shrank away greatly as members of this community worked on outreach and leading teams away from unethical bad actors; if people who care put in the effort to steer teams towards the good, the same should happen to present and future threats to quizbowl's success.

I suppose it's possible David will apologize and recant his threats of legal action against members of the quizbowl community, which would lead me to walk back from "NHBB is too unethical for anyone to do anything for while David Madden is involved" to "NHBB has a lot of problems and I don't do anything for it but don't care if others do" (which is where I was before seeing this thread today). After six years of observing him deflect all meaningful criticism and defend his actions even when doing so required self-contradiction or nonsense, I can't say I'm optimistic.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Postby AZQuizbowl » Sat Jul 30, 2016 2:18 am

I want to note that I think NHBB as an idea, as a way to promote social studies, and as a way for students to participate in a legitimate single subject competition is a great idea. However, while I admire Dave's passion and perseverance, I do not think he should be running a company. Companies have boards of directors for a reason. They have CEOS and CFOs and people in charge of HR and contracts and managers. NHBB just has Dave and then a couple managers (from what I can tell, since I don't know how things are currently structured). There's no denying that there is demand for something like this. There's no denying that there are positive aspects of participating, volunteering, writing for, and even working for NHBB. However, we also cannot deny that NHBB and Dave are pretty much one in the same. So when you work for NHBB, you work for Dave. And when you work for Dave...well, there are plenty of threads where he makes my point for me.

I also think it's really crappy that I've been basically banned from discussing what has become a part of our community. I've received a lot of flak in the past for not speaking up, for seeming like I'm Dave's pet, and for seeming like I don't care about the quizbowl community. It's been really hard to participate in community discussions because my main knowledge until recently has been via the eyes of NHBB. And now I'm being threatened with legal action for being a part of the community. I'm not revealing trade secrets or NHBB plans. I'm not revealing anything monetary and private. And yet here I am, worrying that im going to get sued for talking on the boards about a community that I care for (even when a board rule is supposed to protect us from this).

The issue of NHBB has divided us pretty heavily in the community, and both sides are getting more extreme. I'm in no way calling for people to stop working for or supporting NHBB, but I believe that people need to know what they're getting into. And namely, you're geating into David Maddens Fantasy Universe.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Postby Great Bustard » Sat Jul 30, 2016 2:49 am

For what it’s worth, after consulting with my lawyer, both he and I came to the conclusion that it’s not worth my time or energy to pursue any lawsuit against Bunnie (or anyone else) regarding non-disclosure agreements, unless it’s a matter of disclosing confidential business plans and financial information. I would imagine that other organizations in quiz bowl also have similar policies. While unhelpful, Bunnie’s comments clearly don’t rise to that standard.

Otherwise, the point of a non-disclosure agreement is largely to avoid having one’s name dragged through the mud by an ex-employee (or independent contractor – the difference isn’t really relevant here). In any case, that cat is both out of the bag, and honestly, it’s not really that important, since I believe our actions (namely the tournaments we run, and the enjoyable time participants have at them) speak louder than any words from someone no longer involved ever could.

If you’re reading this thread, and are genuinely interested in what working for NHBB/IHBB is like, I strongly encourage you to reach out to Brad Fischer, Kristin Strey, Raynell Cooper, Niki Peters, Shravan Balaji, Marshall Mullins, Chris White, Joe Su, or numerous other people. I’m happy to put you in touch with them. With a few rare exceptions, most of which are known to most readers on these forums, I’ve had good working relationships with almost everyone who has worked for NHBB/IHBB including those who no longer do. I think most people have appreciated the opportunity to earn a fair amount while doing something inherently enjoyable.

Going forward, Brad and I will reevaluate the terms under which writers and editors work, and ensure that they’re enjoyable, fair, and competitive and lead to an end product which we can be proud of. More specifically, I’ll reiterate here that this year’s Olympiad writing process, while by no means ideal, was considerably better than last year’s, and given that the next Olympiad is in 2 years, that allows plenty of time to get on top of things. Brad can go into further detail, but as this past year was his first in the position (and he did a great job with it), and as the general NHBB/USABB/IHBB universe isn’t going to have any more sets this year than last, this whole process should get easier with each passing year. My thanks go out to everyone who has assisted with our tournaments to date in any capacity and for making it possible for tens of thousands of students around the world to enjoy academic competitions.

Dave Madden was condemned by the board staff for his ongoing quasi-legal threats and other actions. --mgmt
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Postby Irreligion in Bangladesh » Sat Jul 30, 2016 3:32 am

I'd like to talk about writing for NHBB, having been in charge of it for a year, following Eric & Matt's overseeing of the 2015 A-set and Nationals blitzes.

The number one thing to be said about writing for NHBB is that you have almost 0 interaction with David. Once David tells me how many questions we're using in the year, the entire question production process runs through me; the only direct impact he has on the process is that original number. It's been discussed here that he doesn't appreciate good questions vs. bad questions. I hope it's not surprising to say that he and I have debated about question quality over the year, but the upshot of those debates always ends up the same; whatever opinions he has regarding question quality don't get direct influence on the questions, because he doesn't write or have final editing approval over any of them.

I am appreciative of the argument that Madden's opinions on question quality influence the size of the sets he orders and, to use Eric's apt phrase, the "breakneck pace" at which he demands them. We've talked about this as well, and are discussing how to make this work better for next year and on. I don't think it's going to make any difference whether he accepts the argument or not; regardless, I'm going to make sure this year's deadlines aren't as breakneck as last year's were, and not just in the detail that we get two summers to make the next IHO.

To announce one specific detail, I'm looking to hire writers for individual cultural categories (the lit, science, trash, etc.) upfront, now-ish, to cover them in advance for the year. (Similar plans will be made for historical sub-categories once cultural's set.) The "now-ish" is because I'm waiting to finalize financial specifics for the year with Madden; the "ish" drops off sometime next week, and I'll post about it when it's ready. If you're interested, send me an e-mail (now or when it's posted) and I'll get you on the consideration list.

I'll answer any questions anybody has re: writing for NHBB, whether here or via e-mail (brad@historybowl.com).
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Postby 1992 in spaceflight » Sat Jul 30, 2016 4:35 am

AZQuizbowl wrote:I want to note that I think NHBB as an idea, as a way to promote social studies, and as a way for students to participate in a legitimate single subject competition is a great idea. However, while I admire Dave's passion and perseverance, I do not think he should be running a company. Companies have boards of directors for a reason. They have CEOS and CFOs and people in charge of HR and contracts and managers. NHBB just has Dave and then a couple managers (from what I can tell, since I don't know how things are currently structured). There's no denying that there is demand for something like this. There's no denying that there are positive aspects of participating, volunteering, writing for, and even working for NHBB. However, we also cannot deny that NHBB and Dave are pretty much one in the same. So when you work for NHBB, you work for Dave. And when you work for Dave...well, there are plenty of threads where he makes my point for me.

I also think it's really crappy that I've been basically banned from discussing what has become a part of our community. I've received a lot of flak in the past for not speaking up, for seeming like I'm Dave's pet, and for seeming like I don't care about the quizbowl community. It's been really hard to participate in community discussions because my main knowledge until recently has been via the eyes of NHBB. And now I'm being threatened with legal action for being a part of the community. I'm not revealing trade secrets or NHBB plans. I'm not revealing anything monetary and private. And yet here I am, worrying that im going to get sued for talking on the boards about a community that I care for (even when a board rule is supposed to protect us from this).

The issue of NHBB has divided us pretty heavily in the community, and both sides are getting more extreme. I'm in no way calling for people to stop working for or supporting NHBB, but I believe that people need to know what they're getting into. And namely, you're geating into David Maddens Fantasy Universe.


For what it's worth, Bunnie, I've never assumed that you didn't care about quizbowl (as I assume anyone who's ever met you knows, you care very deeply about running quality events in Arizona).

I've done some part-time work for NHBB too, and my experiences with the company have all been positive (it's the reason I asked Dave about getting a job with the company out of college, after all). If you're volunteering to direct a NHBB tournament or editing part of a set for the company (I edited the European history for the Bee in the Olympiad in 2015, after Matt and Eric did the A set and nationals blitzes), then there are a lot of positives about it; you get exposed to lots of cool content, the Regional Coordinators (at least I assume Bunnie had that role circa spring 2014) explain what to do with regards to running a tournament if you have any questions, and you can travel outside of your normal area and get paid a decent amount of money for it. I'm definitely in the camp that you can still work for NHBB and do a great amount of work for quizbowl (for example, Roxane Ilagan and Niki Peters both are [or recently were] Regional Coordinators and still moderate or TD a ton of quizbowl events).

Dave, has there been any discussion about NHBB setting up a board of directors? I can't help but think this might take some of the intense workload you have a week off of your hands.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Postby Great Bustard » Sat Jul 30, 2016 5:42 am

The Two Hearts of Kwasi Boachi wrote: Dave, has there been any discussion about NHBB setting up a board of directors? I can't help but think this might take some of the intense workload you have a week off of your hands.


We've had a Board of Advisors since our inception, though honestly, that largely served its purpose in the first two years or so and has been dormant since, and probably should be reworked. In terms of a Board of Directors, I don't really think that we need one in a formal sense, but as I've mentioned elsewhere, I'm all for continuing to devolve more responsibilities wherever possible. Nolwenn has for years handled almost all IHBB communication, the bulk of IHBB outreach, and more IHBB directing than I have (and helps out to a great extend with NHBB where it makes sense for her to do so). Brad, as he mentioned, oversees NHBB/IHBB/IHO writing and editing, and Kristin does the same for USABB. Raynell Cooper and Jason Flowers have been responsible for leading the iGeo trip and generating the lion's share of non-quiz bowl question content for USGO at the Varsity and JV level. The Regional Coordinator approach devolves oversight of regional tournaments (of about 90 tournaments last year, I was only the RC for about a half dozen). Likewise directing - within the USA last year, I directed only about 10% of our events. Marshall Mullins is set this year to take on an increasing role, including scheduling for NHBB and USABB, RCing for USABB, and tracking buzzers and ordering awards for all events. Suopeng Gao will be taking the lead in organizing our events in China. Raynell, Niki, and Shravan have spent a good part of their summers helping with international outreach, and all of them look to continue helping to a great extent for 2016-17. We have a dedicated webmaster, accountant, and attorney where and when needed. Literally hundreds of other people help out where they can (writing, directing, helping with odd jobs, etc.).
I could go on, but this should be more than enough to give the lie to NHBB = me. That has never been my ideal, or my goal, and indeed, I would like to continue sharing responsibilities wherever possible. At the same time, as anyone who has ever run an organization or company will tell you, finding the right person for the right job is never easy, especially for an activity where the pool of experienced people is limited. On numerous occasions, I've had to deal with people backing out of commitments they've made, and learning to have contingency plans in place has been one of the many lessons I've learned in six years. Ultimately, though, I take full responsibility for all our events, and people are always welcome to contact me if they have any concerns or suggestions.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Postby Great Bustard » Sat Jul 30, 2016 6:00 am

Sima Guang Hater wrote:
The fact that several tournaments at IHO were being written immediately before they were happening is an absolute organizational failure. Futhermore, this kind of thing keeps happening with NHBB, and it cannot continue to happen if NHBB wants to be representative of good academic competition. This is made worse by the fact that several writers at IHO were frantically trying to finish the tournament while other NHBB staffers were soaking in Hawaii; this is quite distasteful to any notion of fairness (to be clear, this appears to be an organizational issue and not an instance of staffers shirking their duties).

[*] The writing corps for NHBB is not nearly on par with those of PACE, NAQT, HSAPQ, or ACF. I regret having to call out particular people, but examples are instructive. Examples like the editor of the scramble event, Arthur Lee, believing that a tossup on the 2016 Harvard Measles outbreak was a good idea (then ignoring my comments stating as much), and volume-writer (and I use the term "writer" with distaste) Andrew Leung spamming ~60 questions that look like they'd been Gibson-assembled from lists of named things on Wikipedia. The latter is particularly frustrating for me personally, as I had to fix those questions, for which he will be paid more than I would for basically re-writing them. These things would not be even remotely acceptable in other quizbowl organizations, but because we were in dire straits, all hands were on deck.

[*] This lack of prioritization of writing is reflected in the way money is spent within NHBB. The writing and editing fees for NHBB are not on par with peer quizbowl organizations (even though for editors, its far more work - see above bullet point), yet Madden has enough money to jet-set around the globe with Niki Peters, Shravan Balaji, and Raynell Cooper, to pay for high quality ping-pong paddles, etc.

[*] Finally, IHO was made patently worse by the fact that, on top of several of the events not being completed before people landing in Hawaii, Dave Madden demanded over 100 questions for a hybrid ping-pong/quizbowl event that only a week before, writers were told to "not worry about"; it seems he *in particular* wanted them written as IHO was ongoing. Furthermore, several of these questions were apparently recycled from previous sets. I don't know if this is a consequence of the breakneck pace, or by design, but either way it's horrifying. This demonstrates a huge lack of respect for writers, for the writing process, the quality of his events, and for basic axioms of how quizbowl works.[/list]

The fundamental thread here is that Dave Madden cannot tell a good question from a bad question, and more importantly, he doesn't seem to care, preferring to focus on pageantry and superficial trappings. Good questions take work, care, time, and research, and cannot be written at the breakneck pace that Dave seems to demand them. I would want people to be aware of this before deciding to work for NHBB, especially those considering working for the organization formally and not freelancing.


Some of the concerns here (e.g. what writers and editors earn) are things that Brad and I will be discussing shortly, and anticipate changing going forward. Having said that, there are some points here that need some clarification. On the matter of who did what at the Olympiad, different staffers came to the Olympiad to help with different tasks. Some staffers may not have fully understood that, though I think it should be clear that in any organization at any event, different tasks are expected of different people. Any number of the staff were themselves not equipped to assist with writing, which isn't an issue, since any event like the Olympiad requires all sorts of different skill sets.
In terms of the writing process itself, I don't want to comment much since Brad was in charge of that, and as he's mentioned, I don't wish to interfere with his approach to putting together the question sets. I do take issue with the fact that I have no ability to tell a good question from a bad question, having, over the course of six years, spent hundreds of hours myself improving our sets.
On the matter of recycled questions, I spoke with Brad about this and he confirmed that this didn't happen in anything he oversaw. The only example of this came with the Table Combined set (which is meant to be a bit more light-hearted an event than the events which are exclusively buzzer-based) and which I took responsibility for putting together. My original idea for this was that it would be some combination of my writing, the writing of some other staff who came on board to the Olympiad staff close in towards the event, partly with this set in mind), and also knowing that I had a stash of questions which I had the rights to (mostly questions I had written before HSAPQ began generating our sets), which had never been posted publicly, and which I knew 100% no one attending the Olympiad had heard. In the end, it was this latter approach that ended up primarily being utilized, though some people (including myself) did contribute a number of fresh questions to. Raynell Cooper took the lead in reconfiguring these sets so that they worked for Table Combined, and I'm grateful to him for his help on that. But this is a very, very limited example of recycling, and ultimately had very little impact on the overall course of the Olympiad.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Postby Big Y » Sat Jul 30, 2016 8:21 am

Dominator wrote:I have some experience working for NHBB, although I'm not sure I want to wade into this thread. Why does this thread exist and not a similar one for NAQT, HSAPQ, etc.? I'd legitimately like to know what working for them is like, and I'm not sure why NHBB is singled out here.


This thread exists because a person started it. If somebody starts those other threads, then they'll exist too.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Postby Cody » Sat Jul 30, 2016 8:44 am

Great Bustard wrote:For what it’s worth, after consulting with my lawyer, both he and I came to the conclusion that it’s not worth my time or energy to pursue any lawsuit against Bunnie (or anyone else) regarding non-disclosure agreements, unless it’s a matter of disclosing confidential business plans and financial information. I would imagine that other organizations in quiz bowl also have similar policies. While unhelpful, Bunnie’s comments clearly don’t rise to that standard.

Otherwise, the point of a non-disclosure agreement is largely to avoid having one’s name dragged through the mud by an ex-employee (or independent contractor – the difference isn’t really relevant here). In any case, that cat is both out of the bag, and honestly, it’s not really that important, since I believe our actions (namely the tournaments we run, and the enjoyable time participants have at them) speak louder than any words from someone no longer involved ever could.
Look at what a great guy Dave Madden is: he tried to run Bunnie out of the community with an obviously unenforceable non-compete, intimidate her into not posting with the threat of a lawsuit, but now that the cat is out of the bag, it's no longer worth his time to go after Bunnie.

Wow, could Dave even be more generous?

PS: I agree entirely with Matt Jackson, who said things much more eloquently and calmly than I ever could.

Anyone who continues to help NHBB is not a friend of good quizbowl.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Postby Cheynem » Sat Jul 30, 2016 9:25 am

Dr. Prince, I started this thread because I was curious. I obviously wouldn't make a thread about HSAPQ since I am one of the people who run that company (if somebody else wishes to, go ahead). I don't really care about NAQT. On the other hand, I do work a bit for NHBB and I've heard a variety of things about it. I think the thread was helpful to get a sense of the full picture.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Postby Jeremy Gibbs Paradox » Sat Jul 30, 2016 10:24 am

Cough Greg Bossick Cough
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Postby Adventure Temple Trail » Sat Jul 30, 2016 10:29 am

David Madden wrote:For what it’s worth, after consulting with my lawyer, both he and I came to the conclusion that it’s not worth my time or energy to pursue any lawsuit against Bunnie (or anyone else) regarding non-disclosure agreements, unless it’s a matter of disclosing confidential business plans and financial information. I would imagine that other organizations in quiz bowl also have similar policies. While unhelpful, Bunnie’s comments clearly don’t rise to that standard.

Otherwise, the point of a non-disclosure agreement is largely to avoid having one’s name dragged through the mud by an ex-employee (or independent contractor – the difference isn’t really relevant here). In any case, that cat is both out of the bag, and honestly, it’s not really that important, since I believe our actions (namely the tournaments we run, and the enjoyable time participants have at them) speak louder than any words from someone no longer involved ever could.


This constitutes neither a recantation nor an apology. Until you show me that you understand that what you did was wrong, that you are genuinely sorry for reaching for intimidating and threatening behavior in response to free, fair criticism, and that you will never again threaten legal action against an independent person for speaking truthfully about you or your product, I remain unmoved. And until that point, everyone who works for NHBB is complicit. It is impossible to have free discussion in a community when the threat of frivolous legal action from wealthy thin-skinned narcissists to rattle critics of their business interests is on the table. I state again that this puts you in the hallowed company of CBI and Chip Beall. Just because board staff have let you get away with it twice (twice!) thus far doesn't mean I will.

Those who want to know what working for NHBB is like can also speak with Greg Bossick, Will Butler, Matt Bollinger, Matt Weiner, Bunnie Hadsall, Eric M., me, Nick Clusserath (post-severance of the middle school division), or numerous other people. In just six years' time, there's a trail of broken relationships just as long as the current list of intact ones, and in each case a large amount of the blame traces back to David's impossible demands, erratic behavior, constant need to have it both ways (insisting on delegating everything, then overriding the person doing a given job at the drop of a hat), constant back-bending to accommodate bad coaches and insane parents, etc. etc.

I don't want to have to say any of this. I wish we weren't at this point. But no evidence suggests that I could say anything else and give anything close to an earnest reaction to Mike's initial question given what we know now.
Last edited by Adventure Temple Trail on Sat Jul 30, 2016 11:05 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Postby Jeremy Gibbs Paradox » Sat Jul 30, 2016 10:48 am

Adventure Temple Trail wrote:It is impossible to have free discussion in a community when the threat of frivolous legal action from wealthy thin-skinned narcissists to rattle critics their business interests is on the table. I state again that this puts you in the hallowed company of CBI and Chip Beall.
[/quote]

Don't forget Trump Matt!

For what it's worth, after consulting with my conscience, I've decided that if you even try to get a toehold in Missouri i will do everything in my power to prevent that from happening David. I support good quizbowl that treats customers, employees, and staff with the respect they deserve. You're a narcissist with an unearned sense of entitlement. You aren't capable now or ever of doing that.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Postby AZQuizbowl » Sat Jul 30, 2016 12:05 pm

Oh happy day, the Oh So Generous David Madden decided a lawsuit isn't worth his time, and he also just decided not to tell me until now haha. Dave, let's chat about that noncompete next, or can I just go ahead and start working in my industry again (an industry I was in a year before you started NHBB)?

(What's probably more likely is that Dave's attorney looked at the contract and said it's fairly unenforceable, especially since, again, I'm not revealing NHBB secrets or anything because I have ethics).

Also, "the point of a non-disclosure agreement is largely to avoid having one’s name dragged through the mud by an ex-employee"? What? NDAs are to protect the company from having its non-public business information paraded out by current or former employees. David Madden, the Jeopardy Champion, is a public figure. I'm not dragging NHBB's name "through the mud" (as you can see from many examples where I speak highly of NHBB), but I am for sure calling you out for a long line of [expletive] that everyone on this forum has also been able to see, read, and experience. We are holding you accountable not only as the owner/director of a company that's in our community, but also as a public figure. I'm not sure where you got your law degree but you should give it back, or consult someone who actually has one before saying outlandish things like the above.

As Matt said above, it's really narrow to speak just to people working for NHBB about working for NHBB. As they do have the most up-to-date information about how things currently are, those of us who have worked there in the past (especially Greg Bossick and I for the types of positions we occupied, and if you're interested in question writing then definitely Matt Weiner) know plenty of what has gone on in the past and what probably still goes on. I Have no doubt that things have changed in some respects since I worked there, including what seems to be Brad's fantastic job of creating a better question-writing department, but the constant here is that you're still working for David Madden. Others have said it pretty clearly above: "a large amount of the blame traces back to David's impossible demands, erratic behavior, constant need to have it both ways (insisting on delegating everything, then overriding the person doing a given job at the drop of a hat), constant back-bending to accommodate bad coaches and insane parents, etc. etc."

I want to reiterate my belief that NHBB is not bad. Nolwenn is actually fantastic, from my limited working with Brad he seems great. I worked with Raynell for a couple years, and he's wonderful. But since NHBB and Dave Madden are one in the same, you have that to deal with. If you are thinking of taking any position that has to interact with Dave, give it a LOT of thought.
Last edited by AZQuizbowl on Sat Jul 30, 2016 12:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Postby AZQuizbowl » Sat Jul 30, 2016 12:15 pm

Great Bustard wrote:On numerous occasions, I've had to deal with people backing out of commitments they've made, and learning to have contingency plans in place has been one of the many lessons I've learned in six years.


FWIW, I backed out of my "commitment" to work for you when I took emergency custody of my one-and-a-half year old nephew, which prompted you to ask, and I quote " Are you really taking care of an infant all day, every day?" Along with a number of other invasive and inappropriate questions when I tendered my resignation, including "can we please just deal with this like adults?" because you didn't think a professional letter of resignation was dealing with a professional resignation like an adult.

Aside from that, do you think that maybe some of the people who have backed out of commitments they've made have just realized that it's not worth it? Have you ever thought that you, yourself, may be a problem in a number of cases? Because that's what those of us who stopped working for you because of you have been trying to tell you, and other people.

Thankfully, Brad is now in charge of question sets so there is a place in the company where you mostly don't have to deal directly with Dave, as Brad mentioned. So if you want to write questions for NHBB to make okay money, go for it. Just keep in mind what you're supporting.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Postby TylerV » Sat Jul 30, 2016 12:59 pm

This topic has grown far broader than I am qualified to talk about but I will give a brief summary of what my time in NHBB was like.

In the past year, I was key in the production of three major events; IHO 2015, NHBB Nationals 2016, and IHO 2016. In the course of working on those events, I wrote the most, 2nd most, and 4th most questions respectively. During that time I've learned the following:

1) Dave Madden has always been appreciative of my work. I've been thanked, both in person and through mail, numerous times and Madden has shown he can recognize who I am and the work that I've done for him.

2)
Sima Guang Hater wrote:The fundamental thread here is that Dave Madden cannot tell a good question from a bad question


2.5) I will say though that Madden does not demand event at a breakneck pace, at least anymore. For my side event at IHO I knew months in advance how many questions were needed and what the topic was. For NHBB Nationals work was well in advance of the tournament and around the same time that A-set went into production. At least for myself, any need to "rush" or create questions at a "breakneck pace" came from my lack of productivity, either because I procrastinated or because I was unwilling write a large number of questions for an event until it was clear it was in dire straits.

Overall, my experience working with NHBB was largely positive and, if not for growing school commitments, I would absolutely stay on in my current role of writing many questions.

One last thing,

Cody wrote:Anyone who continues to help NHBB is not a friend of good quizbowl.


I understand that everybody in this thread is angry, and rightfully so, but I have a problem with this statement. Brad Fischer and Kristin Strey, a couple who were key in building Illinois into one of the premier quiz bowl states, do not lose their "friend of good quizbowl" status because they are working a job to support their family. Likewise, although I am phasing my way out writing so I can focus on school, I shouldn't be labeled as a non-friend of good quizbowl because I chose to contribute good questions to tournaments which are played by hundreds of kids. It is completely unfair to anyone who has broke their backs, or will continue to break their backs, to bring good academic competition to NHBB to be labeled "not a friend of good quizbowl."
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Postby luke1865 » Sat Jul 30, 2016 1:08 pm

This whole thread seems highly unprofessional in my opinion. These sorts of issues should not be discussed on the internet for everyone to see. This is basic business etiquette. I am not in any way trying to defend NHBB. I don't know anything about its inner workings, but I have always enjoyed participating in NHBB/IHBB events. This issue of a lack of professionalism is honestly pervasive in quizbowl, and is something that really should be worked on. I am not trying to call any individuals or either "side" out; this is a general issue.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Postby Cheynem » Sat Jul 30, 2016 1:13 pm

I actually do think it is helpful for these things to be discussed publicly. People should have as much information as possible about potential employers. From NHBB's perspective, it also seems more beneficial to head-on address a lot of things that have been rumbling privately for years, some of which, Luke, I'm not certain if you're familiar with as a high schooler competitor. I don't want to put words in Brad's mouth, but he did not express any concerns about the nature of the thread (he, of course, presumably disputes some of the specific points being made).
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Postby AZQuizbowl » Sat Jul 30, 2016 1:19 pm

luke1865 wrote:This whole thread seems highly unprofessional in my opinion. These sorts of issues should not be discussed on the internet for everyone to see. This is basic business etiquette. I am not in any way trying to defend NHBB. I don't know anything about its inner workings, but I have always enjoyed participating in NHBB/IHBB events. This issue of a lack of professionalism is honestly pervasive in quizbowl, and is something that really should be worked on. I am not trying to call any individuals or either "side" out; this is a general issue.


Disagree. These sorts of issues NEED to be discussed in our community. The unprofessionalism of David Madden needs to be discussed. People need to know what it's like to work for a company. That's why places like indeed.com (http://www.indeed.com/Best-Places-to-Work) specifically list places that are good to work at. And many sites, including Yahoo Finance (http://finance.yahoo.com/news/worst-com ... 56663.html) profile the worst companies to work for. Employees have rights, and they have the right to know what they're getting into.

I will agree that there is a lack of professionalism at some quizbowl tournaments, but that's why at AQA we strive to provide professional, high-quality tournaments for our students (who are also our customers). I know there are a number of other quizbowl organizations that feel the same.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Postby Cody » Sat Jul 30, 2016 1:23 pm

TylerV wrote:One last thing,

Cody wrote:Anyone who continues to help NHBB is not a friend of good quizbowl.


I understand that everybody in this thread is angry, and rightfully so, but I have a problem with this statement. Brad Fischer and Kristin Strey, a couple who were key in building Illinois into one of the premier quiz bowl states, do not lose their "friend of good quizbowl" status because they are working a job to support their family. Likewise, although I am phasing my way out writing so I can focus on school, I shouldn't be labeled as a non-friend of good quizbowl because I chose to contribute good questions to tournaments which are played by hundreds of kids. It is completely unfair to anyone who has broke their backs, or will continue to break their backs, to bring good academic competition to NHBB to be labeled "not a friend of good quizbowl."
I speak not of past contributions -- who would ever argue that Matt Jackson is not a friend of good quizbowl, for instance? And he certainly broke his back for NHBB. But that was then; this is now.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Postby Steeve Ho You Fat » Sat Jul 30, 2016 1:25 pm

This is kind of tangential, but people need to realize that contract terms are just the same conditions of employment as duties and pay and negotiable as such, preferably in consultation with a lawyer. If you aren't comfortable signing a contract, you shouldn't sign it.

I think Bunnie's situation of feeling compelled to sign the contract because she was at Dave's house and relying on him for a ride to the airport brings us to something that I've seen a lot in quizbowl and especially in NHBB, where the lines between "employees" and "friends" are too blurry. At my work, I am friendly with most of my coworkers and sometimes enjoy spending time with them outside of work circumstances. However, I'd never put myself in a position where I was relying on them to do something for me personally, and they (especially superiors) would never ask me to, because it's still work. If you're staying at your boss' house, you're really at the boss' mercy and thus might not feel able to refuse requests to, say, sign a contract on the spot. Obviously quizbowl is a little different from corporate America, but the idea still applies that there should be some kind of separation between personal and professional - there's many instances of community drama causing problems for quizbowl companies and organizations and vice versa.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Postby luke1865 » Sat Jul 30, 2016 1:28 pm

There is a difference between a third party evaluating employers and people going on a forum and discussing their past/current employer. Additionally, the whole legal thing (from BOTH sides) should be worked out in private. My point is that, in my opinon, quizbowl should try to be more like a normal industry. The above post reinforces my point
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Postby AZQuizbowl » Sat Jul 30, 2016 1:36 pm

luke1865 wrote:There is a difference between a third party evaluating employers and people going on a forum and discussing their past/current employer. Additionally, the whole legal thing (from BOTH sides) should be worked out in private. My point is that, in my opinon, quizbowl should try to be more like a normal industry. The above post reinforces my point


http://www.indeed.com/cmp/Petco/reviews

There are sites specifically for people to post about their experiences working for companies. Including my favorite, GlassDoor: https://www.glassdoor.com/Overview/Work ... .11,17.htm

These are not third parties evaluating employers, these are real employees providing their insights into what it's like to work for a company. This includes insurance benefits, manager experience, programs, etc.

So if your argument is that quizbowl should try to be more like a normal industry, then the fact that we're evaluating its companies for employment only strengthens that.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Postby AZQuizbowl » Sat Jul 30, 2016 1:48 pm

Steeve Ho You Fat wrote: If you're staying at your boss' house, you're really at the boss' mercy and thus might not feel able to refuse requests to, say, sign a contract on the spot. Obviously quizbowl is a little different from corporate America, but the idea still applies that there should be some kind of separation between personal and professional - there's many instances of community drama causing problems for quizbowl companies and organizations and vice versa.


I agree very much. I think one big thing here is that a good number of people that come to work for quizbowl companies as writers etc are usually pretty fresh out of high school or college, and may not know all the ins and outs of what a employee-employer relationship are, much less understand a contract. My time at WSC was actually pretty similar in terms of my relationship with my bosses and coworkers as it was at NHBB, because my boss at WSC was my friend before he was my boss. This kind of skewed my understanding of what a working relationship was, and I wish I had the experience to set proper boundaries when I worked at NHBB.

This is something that everyone can learn from--your employer is not really your friend. You can be pals, you can enjoy each others' company, but ultimately you're not friends. There needs to be boundaries in our community and an understanding that while you may be friends on Facebook, you may have run events together, you may have played on teams together or whatever, once you are employed the relationship is not the same, and regardless of how your boss or employees act once you're employed, you are not friends.

Thank you for bringing up this excellent point, Joe.

EDIT: I'd also like to note that I didn't know I was going to sign a contract at Dave's house until he put one in front of me. It was almost an "oh, I almost forgot!" kind of moment, and then suddenly I had a contract in front of me.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Postby Aaron Manby (ironmaster) » Sat Jul 30, 2016 2:15 pm

Toronto hosted a 20-team mirror this past season and made the standard $100 stipend given to tournament directors, with the rest going to NHBB. That's not even enough to cover coffee and lunch for the staffers. They could easily have made ten times that with NAQT or a housewrite while charging less per team.

Besides that, it's frustrating that despite having good intentions (and getting support from many social studies teachers in Ontario), the tournament logistics for your own tournaments sometimes have to match that of the different :chip:bowls out there due to the fact you're given 8 packets and so for some team numbers, you have to run a tournament with quasirandom games, weird seeding/crossover rules, and single elim playoffs.

As an writer for NHBB/packetizer for Canadian stuff, working with Brad has been great, though I didn't attend IHO I can't speak for the poor souls who had to hastily write questions while others were on the beach.
Last edited by Aaron Manby (ironmaster) on Sat Jul 30, 2016 4:26 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Postby Cody » Sat Jul 30, 2016 2:20 pm

luke1865 wrote:There is a difference between a third party evaluating employers and people going on a forum and discussing their past/current employer. Additionally, the whole legal thing (from BOTH sides) should be worked out in private. My point is that, in my opinon, quizbowl should try to be more like a normal industry. The above post reinforces my point

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As someone who has held a job of some form since 2005 ("normal industry") and someone involved in one or more quizbowl organizations since 2009: you are spouting nonsense.

"Normal industry" (whatever that means and assuming quizbowl should even be like a normal industry) has more than its share of people talking about their past/current employer—not limited to the things Bunnie is posting, but including Gawker's series about Amazon Warehouse Workers (among countless other articles of that type on various sites), as well as actual forums.

I can't imagine that your opinion on "the whole legal thing" is actually that someone should keep the threat of a lawsuit quiet and accede to any demands of the potential lawsuit filer.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Postby Skepticism and Animal Feed » Sat Jul 30, 2016 4:05 pm

In terms of actually working for NHBB or other Maddenverse organizations, I have no complaints. I was always paid promptly. Dave Madden was always nice to me. They always have plenty of polos for NHBB moderators and seem to treat staff well during NHBB itself. The pay is good compared to the rest of quizbowl, and there are always a ton of questions NHBB needs, so if you can write a ton of questions you can make a ton of money. Even if other companies pay you more per question, NHBB simply needs more questions than anyone else. I wish I still had the same question-writing stamina I had when I was in school, then I could be supplementing my income to the tune of thousands each year through NHBB.

There are well documented issues with NHBB leadership caring more about expansion than about quality control or good logistics - but those are more properly seen as issues with playing NHBB than working for it.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Postby Adventure Temple Trail » Sat Jul 30, 2016 4:16 pm

This thread is a mess, and almost everything everyone is saying is totally irrelevant.

There is ONLY ONE issue here, which is that David Madden has bullied members of the quizbowl community by threatening legal action against them for daring to criticize him or his product. This is an ethical lapse on par with CBI and Questions Unlimited. Unless at some future time he issues a genuine apology, if you do anything for any History Bowl organization, including playing in events it hosts or writing "for Brad", you are thereby condoning his unacceptable behavior. It is That Bad. Sever all ties now.

There's nothing else to it, and none of the other routine criticisms matter anymore by comparison.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Postby Cheynem » Sat Jul 30, 2016 4:21 pm

While i think the legal threats and non-disclosure stuff is dumb, that is not totally what Dave did. Dave threatened legal action against people (as far as I can tell, Matt Weiner and Bunnie) for breaking contracts--in Matt's case, it was an obvious contract breaking instance (not that Dave's legal threats were coherent, enforceable, or made any sense) and in Bunnie's case, while the contract was stupid and probably unethical in nature, she did sign it and theoretically Dave was within his rights to do try to enforce it. In other words, all of the people "threatened" were people who had signed contracts with Dave.

Now that doesn't necessarily make either legal threat "good"--they weren't, and I'll again say that the forums are not the place to make any threats. But I think categorizing it as "Dave trying to shut down criticism through lawsuits" is somewhat inaccurate and I think even Dave's most vociferous critics would admit they were never threatened with lawsuits.

That said, I think it's worth considering such behavior when people make decisions what tournaments to patronize or whom to work for. I tend to agree more with Bunnie and what Matt Jackson said last year rather than what Matt Jackson is saying now, but I think it's worth saying there are obvious problems with NHBB and most quizbowlers should be clear now what NHBB totally entails.

EDIT: Let me also make clear that while Dave can do whatever he wants in terms of his own legal practices, the board does not support and will not tolerate any statements threatening to sue someone posted on the forums or are issued in response to someone posting something on the forums. Those are completely unacceptable, and the staff is currently discussing what the proper response to this is. I have had some people message me in response to this thread and express concern that they may be sued for something they might say. No one should feel unsafe to post anything on the forums and risk legal reprisal, whether or not there is a "contract" in place.
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