Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Post by Cody » Sat Jul 30, 2016 4:57 pm

Actually Dave Madden threatened to sue anyone or any organization that Matt Weiner might work with without satisfying his extremely weird demands for breaking the contract.
Last edited by Cody on Sat Jul 30, 2016 5:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Post by Corry » Sat Jul 30, 2016 5:00 pm

Cody wrote:Actually Dave Madden threaten to sue anyone or any organization that Matt Weiner might work with without satisfying his extremely weird demands for breaking the contract.
I personally don't see a problem with that case, actually.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Post by Cody » Sat Jul 30, 2016 5:31 pm

Corry wrote:
Cody wrote:Actually Dave Madden threaten to sue anyone or any organization that Matt Weiner might work with without satisfying his extremely weird demands for breaking the contract.
I personally don't see a problem with that case, actually.
Then you hold a bad opinion and should feel bad for holding it.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Post by Knickerbocker glory » Sat Jul 30, 2016 5:32 pm

As a NHBB player for three years, IHO attendee in 2015, writer for two years, editor of the Ancient History Bee set, USHB/USGO and USABB tournament director, and one of the "poor souls who had to hastily write questions while others were on the beach [at IHO]," I'd like to offer my insights on writing for NHBB.

My concerns are largely encapsulated by Eric Mukherjee's well-written post:
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.
As someone who's spent way too long in the question-writing bunker helping bail out NHBB, I can attest to the fact that both NHBB Nationals and IHO ran at all was due to nothing short of a miracle. In both cases, it was a team of about four writers working inhumanly long hours to make the sets appear. The writing team had to frantically scramble to write questions and put them in the set without any sort of editing at all. Naturally, this came at the great expense of quality—a notable example is some variation of "Pompey's suppression of the pirates" showing up 4 times in the prelims of NHBB Nationals. Almost always, the sets due to be played later that day did not exist at the beginning of the day. The finals packet itself was not completed until 10 minutes before they were set to happen. This is completely unacceptable, especially for a national championship tournament involving thousands of students. Those students could very well have been left in the lurch, and have simply not played questions at all.

At IHO, the crisis was worse due to the dozen or so buzzer-based events, in addition to several time-consuming non-buzzer based events such as a 400-question multiple choice test, a Hextathlon consisting of 6 separate written components, etc. A team of me, Arthur Lee, Brad Fischer, and Ankit Aggarwal spent our time in Hawaii in a dorm lounge around the clock cranking out questions for events, some of which weren't even one-third completed at the commencement of IHO. Adding insult to injury, the other staffers went out to Waikiki, sipped cocktails and margaritas, and played basketball while we were saving the tournament by writing questions. As for staffers, there were some questionable choices of people who were brought to Hawaii—in particular, Robin Richards, who has shady history (https://www.qbwiki.com/wiki/view/Robin_Richards), and Kendall Stewart, who had no prior experience moderating as far as I could tell, rather than the cadres of writers that helped IHO run at all.

I believe that the last-minute rush in writing questions was not because of writers procrastinating or because of lazy editorship, but because there simply are too many events in too little time. Combined, NHBB/USABB/IHO requires 7,000 questions a year. That number is an impossibly high quota to meet without going at breakneck speed and sacrificing quality, hence the almost-routine last-minute blitzes to finish sets.

For editing the Ancient History Bee—130 questions in total—I will be paid less than a dollar per tossup I edited. This is particularly little considering the quality of submissions I had to edit. Over 100 of the questions were written by a certain sub-par volume writer, whose tossups were little more than collections of names without context. Here is a tossup submitted that (thankfully) did not make it into the final set:
The cult of Mithras was centered in this region. Rhadamistus, an usurper of Parthia, hailed from this region, and an inscription from Mtskheta describes how Mihdrat I freely accepted Roman control over this region. The Chosroid dynasty ruled over this region following the treaty of Nisibis, though it would later be ceded to Persia in the Peace of Aciliscene. The Pharnavazid dynasty ruled this region located east of Colchis. Tbilisi was the last capital of, For the point, what region of the Southern Caucasus centered in present day Georgia?
Answer: Iberia
This sort of quality would be utterly unacceptable at any other tournament, and would be thrown out the window. However, due to the sheer number of tossups needed to be written (into the thousands), we had no choice but to accept these sorts of tossups. What is particularly galling is that I will be paid less than one-fifth of what this writer will be paid, even though I rewrote nearly all his tossups from the ground up. It is clear from this that NHBB does not care about the quality of its questions, but rather, only volume needed to fill the near-impossible quota of questions. This is insulting to both writers who strive to craft good tossups and to students who have to play such tossups. It's not as though NHBB is operating on a shoestring budget that can't afford to pay for good questions. NHBB has plenty of money to spend on ceremonies, pageantry, globetrotting trips to India and Australia and Thailand, but that it only pays me and other editors a pittance shows me that it is more concerned about putting on a show than it is about the quality and substance of its tournaments. This is getting dangerously close to Chip Beall territory, and is not consistent with the principles of good quiz bowl.

I think that NHBB could stand to improve greatly from listening to Eric's concerns, because the truth of the matter is that NHBB's tournaments are not sustainable the way they are now, written desperately at the absolute last moment. I do not wish to see NHBB crash and burn, nor do I wish to see NHBB devolve into a low-ethics, low-quality tournament like NAC has. I have enjoyed four years with NHBB, first as a player, then as a writer, staffer, and tournament director, and I hope that NHBB can be an organization that supplements and enriches quiz bowl, rather than going against it.
Last edited by Knickerbocker glory on Sat Jul 30, 2016 5:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Post by AKKOLADE » Sat Jul 30, 2016 5:34 pm

The only other time I've heard of someone being an independent contractor and expected to follow a non compete is for WWE wrestlers, and that's usually in the context of how it's likely very illegal for that to be expected of their "contractors".
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Post by Corry » Sat Jul 30, 2016 5:36 pm

Cody wrote:
Corry wrote:
Cody wrote:Actually Dave Madden threaten to sue anyone or any organization that Matt Weiner might work with without satisfying his extremely weird demands for breaking the contract.
I personally don't see a problem with that case, actually.
Then you hold a bad opinion and should feel bad for holding it.
Haha, okay well then you hold a bad opinion and should feel bad for holding it!
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Post by Banned Tiny Toon Adventures Episode » Sat Jul 30, 2016 6:02 pm

If madden paid to fly me out to get high in SEA/India/Hawaii id prob work for him?
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Post by Cheynem » Sat Jul 30, 2016 6:14 pm

Corry, you really think it's okay for Dave Madden to sue a company that Matt Weiner writes for because he failed to accomplish a project for NHBB?
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Post by TylerV » Sat Jul 30, 2016 6:52 pm

GOODCOMPANY88 wrote: For editing the Ancient History Bee—130 questions in total—I will be paid less than a dollar per tossup I edited. This is particularly little considering the quality of submissions I had to edit.
As someone who served in a very similar position that you did, I don't see where this sentiment is coming from. You were not in the same position that Mukherjee was. He joined very late into the game and took an incomplete set to one of presumably acceptable quality, I have not seen it, in a very short amount of time. In my mind, he is the only head editor who should be upset regarding pay related matters. For the other head editors, we were given the details of our agreement, including pay, and had docs to start working on the sets a full two and a half months in advance of the tournament. Any head editor that was brought in early, as Bruce and I were, had plenty of time to either write a large portion of the set, as I did, or have the writers fix their work or otherwise risk the tossup not being used and them not receiving pay.
GOODCOMPANY88 wrote: A team of me, Arthur Lee, Brad Fischer, and Ankit Aggarwal spent our time in Hawaii in a dorm lounge around the clock cranking out questions for events, some of which weren't even one-third completed at the commencement of IHO. Adding insult to injury, the other staffers went out to Waikiki, sipped cocktails and margaritas, and played basketball while we were saving the tournament by writing questions. As for staffers, there were some questionable choices of people who were brought to Hawaii—in particular, Robin Richards, who has shady history (https://www.qbwiki.com/wiki/view/Robin_Richards), and Kendall Stewart, who had no prior experience moderating as far as I could tell, rather than the cadres of writers that helped IHO run at all.
This is actually something I am quite interested in talking about. I, personally, was not very happy to have been passed over for a chance to go to Hawaii despite the work that I had put into NHBB. Additionally, there was at one point a "verbal agreement" regarding side event guaranteeing a staffing position in Hawaii in exchange for the completion of a side event. Finding out that this wasn't true hurt the desire I had to write the set in the first place, after all half the fun in question writing is seeing the players enjoy your questions. This frustration grew to the point where I became extremely annoyed every time I found out a staffer who I felt had done less work than I had or was less qualified of a staffer than I am was going to Hawaii.

However, I don't see the "insult to injury" of non-writing staffers enjoying their off time. I guarantee you I spent at least a the same amount of time you did working on the event and I didn't get to even step foot in a different locale, do you think I should consider this an insult to the injury of not going in the first place? I think you should consider the role you had at IHO and compare it to the roles other had before complaining that their IHO experience was different than yours.

I am going to end this with two overarching notes.

First, I am not saying that it is a good thing that writers had to pull long, unhealthy hours in order to get the set done. Additionally, the concept of flying to people to Hawaii with the express purpose of writing is something that I cannot understand at the most basic level.

Second, I am a big fan of personal responsibility and, as someone who wrote a large number of questions for all the events that have been "blitzed", I can say that the situation would have been absolutely been better if I had managed my time better. Had this been the case, either I would have produced many more questions thus mitigating the need for a "blitz" or I would have wrote the same number of questions but not felt like I had "blitzed" a set. I can understand if a writer was a bit blindsided by NHBB Nationals, expected more people to write than actually did, and felt a sense of duty to help get the set done, but by the time of IHO all of the core writers knew what the situation was going to be like.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Post by Corry » Sat Jul 30, 2016 7:20 pm

Cheynem wrote:Corry, you really think it's okay for Dave Madden to sue a company that Matt Weiner writes for because he failed to accomplish a project for NHBB?
I guess I'll rephrase myself. I always saw the threat as, well, a thing that Dave said when he was pissed. And rightfully so-- at Matt Weiner! I don't believe Dave actually intended to sue any other companies, but people say lots of things when they're hopping mad. I get that.

Anyways, I don't have anything to say about Bunnie's case, but I think it's disingenuous for folks like Cody to use Matt Weiner as an "example" of a case where Dave has wronged people. I'm sure plenty of those cases exist. But in the Weiner case, Dave is the guy who got screwed here.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Post by Cody » Sat Jul 30, 2016 7:45 pm

Corry wrote:
Cheynem wrote:Corry, you really think it's okay for Dave Madden to sue a company that Matt Weiner writes for because he failed to accomplish a project for NHBB?
I guess I'll rephrase myself. I always saw the threat as, well, a thing that Dave said when he was pissed. And rightfully so-- at Matt Weiner! I don't believe Dave actually intended to sue any other companies, but people say lots of things when they're hopping mad. I get that.

Anyways, I don't have anything to say about Bunnie's case, but I think it's disingenuous for folks like Cody to use Matt Weiner as an "example" of a case where Dave has wronged people. I'm sure plenty of those cases exist. But in the Weiner case, Dave is the guy who got screwed here.
So you get it and you don't agree with it and you don't think he would have done it BUT your earlier post says you are totally fine with it.

Dave may've gotten screwed but that doesn't mean he gets to say whatever he wants, threaten legal action against members of the community, or really most of the things he did in that post. You can't possibly consider Dave Madden a victim when he's threatening people like that.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Post by Ike » Sat Jul 30, 2016 10:19 pm

So I've been reading this thread for a while now with a mixture of amusement, horror, and wonder, and I want to separate out the comments in this thread into two specific sets of problems:

Set 1: stuff about poor question quality, poor pay rates, flying out of incompetent moderators, etc.

I think these are important things to be discussing, but they aren't really reasons as to why NHBB shouldn't exist. I think with some amount of reasonable discussion they can be ameliorated. I guess what I'm saying is, all of these issues are things that other quizbowl companies could have, and they can be discussed in a manner conducive to reform. As in, all of these things fall into a category of "things that stink, but aren't reasons to abolish the NHBB." Of course, a systematic refusal to handle any of these is symptomatic of a larger problem.

Set 2: This stuff
Bunnie wrote: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.
Bunnie wrote:stuff about NDA and non compete clauses.
I actually had to read this three or four times just to make sure that I wasn't dreaming. Let's just look at this from a purely theoretical scenario: Employee A feels that her Employer, Mr. B, asked invasive, insensitive, and honestly just an appalling question that constitutes something very close to Family Responsibilities Discrimination. Employee A now wants to consult a friend and a lawyer about this, but cannot do so unless Employee A gets permission from alleged discriminator Mr. B permission to discuss it, otherwise Employee A might get sued.

That should be frightening to everyone who is reading this thread! I don't know the particular specifics about what happened in Bunnie's case, but I'm not gonna lie, the existence of a NDA that is so free-ranging coupled with the unsavory comments on Dave's behavior upthread horrifies me. If Bunnie's case is some kind of misunderstanding or false, by all means, clear it up or say something about it NHBB! If Bunnie's story is true, then I don't know how you can't take the position of Cody Voight and Matt Jackson in this thread.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Post by AZQuizbowl » Sat Jul 30, 2016 10:29 pm

Ike wrote: Set 2: This stuff
Bunnie wrote: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.
Bunnie wrote:stuff about NDA and non compete clauses.
I actually had to read this three or four times just to make sure that I wasn't dreaming. Let's just look at this from a purely theoretical scenario: Employee A feels that her Employer, Mr. B, asked invasive, insensitive, and honestly just an appalling question that constitutes something very close to Family Responsibilities Discrimination. Employee A now wants to consult a friend and a lawyer about this, but cannot do so unless Employee A gets permission from alleged discriminator Mr. B permission to discuss it, otherwise Employee A might get sued.

That should be frightening to everyone who is reading this thread! I don't know the particular specifics about what happened in Bunnie's case, but I'm not gonna lie, the existence of a NDA that is so free-ranging coupled with the unsavory comments on Dave's behavior upthread horrifies me. If Bunnie's case is some kind of misunderstanding or false, by all means, clear it up or say something about it NHBB! If Bunnie's story is true, then I don't know how you can't take the position of Cody Voight and Matt Jackson in this thread.
I can provide emails that back up my claims between Dave and I. I have a copy of what I signed, and I have the emails threatening a lawsuit, and I have his responses to my letter of resignation, as well as a number of other things that don't really make sense to bring up here. I also contacted the admins of the board with concern about Dave's lawsuit threat violating the board rules and forwarded them relevant emails. Dave is taking the position that I "broke my commitments" etc and trying to make me seem like the bad guy or like I'm not worth listening to, because he knows he cannot disprove what I've said. Real companies have HR people and a lawyer. Real companies (and by this I mean, respectable and well-run) know that asking questions that are invasive and disrespectful is unprofessional. Regardless of any positive effect that NHBB has on students or the community, it needs to be known that this is not a company that cares about you. This is a company that cares about the dollar signs. This is a company that would burn the community to the ground if it made money.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Post by Adm Akbar says It's a Tarp! » Sun Jul 31, 2016 3:03 am

I've never worked for NHBB, other than helping staff at their first couple nationals and then some of their regional tournaments. While Greg Bossick was with NHBB, I did help Greg out in putting together a database of schools and contact information for NHBB, because David Madden is notorious for adding more and more events that he wants run, which kept increasing Greg's workload to the point of 60+ hours a week.

Here's just a tip of the iceberg to what it's like working for NHBB (free lance question writers might have a different experience)...I got an invitation to staff nationals in the 3rd year of NHBB. And the email detailed travel reimbursement. It was basically similar to NAQT's, I think it was up to $250 and before booking I was instructed to get approval with David Madden. So I tell him I can take a train, roundtrip, from Pittsburgh to DC and it would be well under the cap...it was something like $160-$170. His reply instructed me not to purchase yet because he wanted me to try to organize a carpool of people from my area in NE Ohio. He asked if I could get about 5 others in my area, train them on the format and drive them to DC. I felt I was professional, and polite, in my reply: "I have my own responsibilities at work and I rather like my job; pays well and gives me time off to still coach or help at tournaments. I don't work for you. It's not my job to find staffers, train them, and bring them to your nationals."

Needless to say, I didn't go to NHBB that year and I will never do anything for NHBB again. I wasn't going to be treated as an mean to an end, but I was fortunate to have the luxury of saying "no." When you're in the position Greg was in, and later Bunnie, their only option left was to resign. I don't know Bunnie's situation, like I do Greg's. Some might think when you sign a contract, to back out of that contract is a weak and pathetic move. That's a fair point when you're dealing with a reasonable employer. But an employer who constantly wants to dump on more skype practices, more events, more tests, more bees, expects you to be on call 24 hours a day, work until it becomes detrimental to your health (I mean falling asleep at the wheel), or a host of other crazy ideas like drive one person to Missouri to TD a tournament and in that same day drive to Mississippi to TD a tournament. I'm sure some of that wasn't in the contract, and I'm also sure 99.9% of people will also find themselves resigning after a year.

Maybe things have changed over the last couple years, but at the rate NHBB burns through their top coordinators, I doubt it.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Post by psychological cat » Sun Jul 31, 2016 4:29 am

Adm Akbar says It's a Tarp! wrote:He asked if I could get about 5 others in my area, train them on the format and drive them to DC.
I have the experience of being one of these people "in the area" for Bunnie, who drove me to DC to help as a volunteer for Nationals in 2015. I was strictly a volunteer and expected no payment, as I felt enough in debt for getting to DC for free. At the end of a week of 16-20 hour days, David Madden thanked me with a completely unexpected check for $700. I had signed no paperwork, had agreed to no contracting positions, and had expected no payment or reward. I was very grateful and was overwhelmed by the gift - much needed for a 22 year old graduate student.

Fast forward 7 months, and I received an e-mail about needing to supply my SSN to be given proper tax documents to file for my "payment of over $600" from NHBB earlier in the year. I was being treated as an independent contractor for NHBB despite having never entered into any agreements dictating that I would receive compensation for services rendered, verbal or written. I had been under the assumption it was being given as a gift, which is not taxable unless it exceeds an amount of $12,000. Only independent contractors should be issued a 1099.

I would have been HAPPY to have signed paperwork ahead of time or have entered into any written agreement at the time establishing me as an independent contractor in order to receive a sum of money reflective of approximately 120 hours worked. I would have been happy to receive an amount as a gift that was under any amount that could have been considered grounds for a 1099, if the distinction had been made clear and up front. I had not been expecting anything and felt so grateful to have been so appreciated. 7 months later it turned out to be a huge inconvenience for me as I talked with accountants to figure out the proper course of action (not supplying my SSN because if I had ever been an official paid volunteer or contractor, he should have had it before payment). **FYI - I had it checked and declaring that income on a 1099 would have decreased my tax return by $150 (I would have saved money and trouble if David Madden had just given a gift of $599).

This falls under Set 1 of the 2 categories mentioned a couple of posts above. From my very limited experience, and reading from others, it seems that, especially in the case of NHBB, you need to be very careful with how experienced you are in contract and employment law to ensure that you aren't potentially going to be taken advantage of through underpay, ridiculous contract clauses, and unexpected gifts considered 'payment'. I don't think David Madden willfully intended to make my life difficult by giving me "too much" money, and I still appreciate the fact that I was given anything at all. But there are many other ways this could have been handled that would have shown better organization and handling on the financial aspects to conducting a business, and I hope closer consideration is given to these issues in the future.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Post by AKKOLADE » Sun Jul 31, 2016 9:34 pm

psychological cat wrote:
Adm Akbar says It's a Tarp! wrote:He asked if I could get about 5 others in my area, train them on the format and drive them to DC.
I have the experience of being one of these people "in the area" for Bunnie, who drove me to DC to help as a volunteer for Nationals in 2015. I was strictly a volunteer and expected no payment, as I felt enough in debt for getting to DC for free. At the end of a week of 16-20 hour days, David Madden thanked me with a completely unexpected check for $700. I had signed no paperwork, had agreed to no contracting positions, and had expected no payment or reward. I was very grateful and was overwhelmed by the gift - much needed for a 22 year old graduate student.

Fast forward 7 months, and I received an e-mail about needing to supply my SSN to be given proper tax documents to file for my "payment of over $600" from NHBB earlier in the year. I was being treated as an independent contractor for NHBB despite having never entered into any agreements dictating that I would receive compensation for services rendered, verbal or written. I had been under the assumption it was being given as a gift, which is not taxable unless it exceeds an amount of $12,000. Only independent contractors should be issued a 1099.

I would have been HAPPY to have signed paperwork ahead of time or have entered into any written agreement at the time establishing me as an independent contractor in order to receive a sum of money reflective of approximately 120 hours worked. I would have been happy to receive an amount as a gift that was under any amount that could have been considered grounds for a 1099, if the distinction had been made clear and up front. I had not been expecting anything and felt so grateful to have been so appreciated. 7 months later it turned out to be a huge inconvenience for me as I talked with accountants to figure out the proper course of action (not supplying my SSN because if I had ever been an official paid volunteer or contractor, he should have had it before payment). **FYI - I had it checked and declaring that income on a 1099 would have decreased my tax return by $150 (I would have saved money and trouble if David Madden had just given a gift of $599).

This falls under Set 1 of the 2 categories mentioned a couple of posts above. From my very limited experience, and reading from others, it seems that, especially in the case of NHBB, you need to be very careful with how experienced you are in contract and employment law to ensure that you aren't potentially going to be taken advantage of through underpay, ridiculous contract clauses, and unexpected gifts considered 'payment'. I don't think David Madden willfully intended to make my life difficult by giving me "too much" money, and I still appreciate the fact that I was given anything at all. But there are many other ways this could have been handled that would have shown better organization and handling on the financial aspects to conducting a business, and I hope closer consideration is given to these issues in the future.

User reminded to add signature. -mgmt
None of this makes sense. Was this under a contract of employment? Gifts typically aren't given in exchange for labor; wages are given in exchange for labor.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Post by AKKOLADE » Sun Jul 31, 2016 9:46 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.
Of all the people in quiz bowl that have grounds to comment upon professionalism, you are the least qualified of them. I hope that this changes in the future.
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.
"Is working for NHBB worth it?" is a regular topic of conversation among some quiz bowlers. Given previous discussions, on board and elsewhere, it's a pertinent subject.
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.
Did your lawyer actually tell you, "you can not enforce an unenforceable clause in your contracts," or am I just wishing that?

I'm also very sorry that you find Bunnie's comments unhelpful. I imagine that's because they are critical of you.
Great Bustard wrote: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.
The idea that former employees couldn't have anything of value to say about what it's like working under you is astonishingly wrong.
Great Bustard wrote: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.
"Instead of talking to the people that are critical of me, why don't you try talking to the people that aren't?"
Last edited by AKKOLADE on Sun Jul 31, 2016 10:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Post by AKKOLADE » Sun Jul 31, 2016 10:05 pm

AZQuizbowl wrote: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?"
If this is even remotely true, Dave, you are a complete idiot.
TheDoctor wrote: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
http://lmgtfy.com/?q=independent+contractor+non+compete
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Post by AZQuizbowl » Sun Jul 31, 2016 11:19 pm

So this discussion is supposed to be about whether or not one would recommend working for NHBB. I am going with an emphatic no.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Post by touchpack » Mon Aug 01, 2016 1:03 am

AKKOLADE wrote:
psychological cat wrote:
Adm Akbar says It's a Tarp! wrote:He asked if I could get about 5 others in my area, train them on the format and drive them to DC.
I have the experience of being one of these people "in the area" for Bunnie, who drove me to DC to help as a volunteer for Nationals in 2015. I was strictly a volunteer and expected no payment, as I felt enough in debt for getting to DC for free. At the end of a week of 16-20 hour days, David Madden thanked me with a completely unexpected check for $700. I had signed no paperwork, had agreed to no contracting positions, and had expected no payment or reward. I was very grateful and was overwhelmed by the gift - much needed for a 22 year old graduate student.

Fast forward 7 months, and I received an e-mail about needing to supply my SSN to be given proper tax documents to file for my "payment of over $600" from NHBB earlier in the year. I was being treated as an independent contractor for NHBB despite having never entered into any agreements dictating that I would receive compensation for services rendered, verbal or written. I had been under the assumption it was being given as a gift, which is not taxable unless it exceeds an amount of $12,000. Only independent contractors should be issued a 1099.

I would have been HAPPY to have signed paperwork ahead of time or have entered into any written agreement at the time establishing me as an independent contractor in order to receive a sum of money reflective of approximately 120 hours worked. I would have been happy to receive an amount as a gift that was under any amount that could have been considered grounds for a 1099, if the distinction had been made clear and up front. I had not been expecting anything and felt so grateful to have been so appreciated. 7 months later it turned out to be a huge inconvenience for me as I talked with accountants to figure out the proper course of action (not supplying my SSN because if I had ever been an official paid volunteer or contractor, he should have had it before payment). **FYI - I had it checked and declaring that income on a 1099 would have decreased my tax return by $150 (I would have saved money and trouble if David Madden had just given a gift of $599).

This falls under Set 1 of the 2 categories mentioned a couple of posts above. From my very limited experience, and reading from others, it seems that, especially in the case of NHBB, you need to be very careful with how experienced you are in contract and employment law to ensure that you aren't potentially going to be taken advantage of through underpay, ridiculous contract clauses, and unexpected gifts considered 'payment'. I don't think David Madden willfully intended to make my life difficult by giving me "too much" money, and I still appreciate the fact that I was given anything at all. But there are many other ways this could have been handled that would have shown better organization and handling on the financial aspects to conducting a business, and I hope closer consideration is given to these issues in the future.

User reminded to add signature. -mgmt
None of this makes sense. Was this under a contract of employment? Gifts typically aren't given in exchange for labor; wages are given in exchange for labor.
I'm pretty sure what happened here was Madden intended to pay him (as labor), but didn't properly contract him or anything (due to his own incompetence), so it's effectively treated as a gift for tax purposes.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Post by AZQuizbowl » Mon Aug 01, 2016 1:08 am

touchpack wrote:
AKKOLADE wrote:
psychological cat wrote:
Adm Akbar says It's a Tarp! wrote:He asked if I could get about 5 others in my area, train them on the format and drive them to DC.
I have the experience of being one of these people "in the area" for Bunnie, who drove me to DC to help as a volunteer for Nationals in 2015. I was strictly a volunteer and expected no payment, as I felt enough in debt for getting to DC for free. At the end of a week of 16-20 hour days, David Madden thanked me with a completely unexpected check for $700. I had signed no paperwork, had agreed to no contracting positions, and had expected no payment or reward. I was very grateful and was overwhelmed by the gift - much needed for a 22 year old graduate student.

Fast forward 7 months, and I received an e-mail about needing to supply my SSN to be given proper tax documents to file for my "payment of over $600" from NHBB earlier in the year. I was being treated as an independent contractor for NHBB despite having never entered into any agreements dictating that I would receive compensation for services rendered, verbal or written. I had been under the assumption it was being given as a gift, which is not taxable unless it exceeds an amount of $12,000. Only independent contractors should be issued a 1099.

I would have been HAPPY to have signed paperwork ahead of time or have entered into any written agreement at the time establishing me as an independent contractor in order to receive a sum of money reflective of approximately 120 hours worked. I would have been happy to receive an amount as a gift that was under any amount that could have been considered grounds for a 1099, if the distinction had been made clear and up front. I had not been expecting anything and felt so grateful to have been so appreciated. 7 months later it turned out to be a huge inconvenience for me as I talked with accountants to figure out the proper course of action (not supplying my SSN because if I had ever been an official paid volunteer or contractor, he should have had it before payment). **FYI - I had it checked and declaring that income on a 1099 would have decreased my tax return by $150 (I would have saved money and trouble if David Madden had just given a gift of $599).

This falls under Set 1 of the 2 categories mentioned a couple of posts above. From my very limited experience, and reading from others, it seems that, especially in the case of NHBB, you need to be very careful with how experienced you are in contract and employment law to ensure that you aren't potentially going to be taken advantage of through underpay, ridiculous contract clauses, and unexpected gifts considered 'payment'. I don't think David Madden willfully intended to make my life difficult by giving me "too much" money, and I still appreciate the fact that I was given anything at all. But there are many other ways this could have been handled that would have shown better organization and handling on the financial aspects to conducting a business, and I hope closer consideration is given to these issues in the future.

User reminded to add signature. -mgmt
None of this makes sense. Was this under a contract of employment? Gifts typically aren't given in exchange for labor; wages are given in exchange for labor.
I'm pretty sure what happened here was Madden intended to pay him (as labor), but didn't properly contract him or anything (due to his own incompetence), so it's effectively treated as a gift for tax purposes.
Except Dave and his accountant/mother attempted to 1099 her for it.

Edit: And I'll note that she was there as a volunteer much like 99 percent of the rest of the staff with the understanding that her travel and lodgings were paid for wit has a small food stipend, as at a normal national tournament.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Post by Al Hirt » Thu Aug 04, 2016 4:05 am

I work for Dave Madden. I just want to clarify a couple things regarding "jetsetting" and "globetrotting". I've already conversed with Eric Mukherjee privately regarding this, and I definitely want to say that I am largely removed from the writing portion, so I can't really offer valuable comments with regard to that. I'm speaking as to recruitment efforts and events he's asked me to organize.

First off, it seems to be there's this duality where Dave is an employer who expects ridiculous things, but simultaneously lets his employees do whatever they please. Dave does expect results, but by and large he's flexible enough so as long as things get done, there's no issue. I've made mistakes before as I started to work for him, but he was quite patient and gave me plenty of rope to work with. I fixed those mistakes and it became a non-issue. This remains applicable from being a regional coordinator to international outreach.

Second, when Niki, Raynell, and myself travelled abroad, we weren't screwing around or "turning up" as certain people have accused us of, including making statements like this to high schoolers, we were working like professionals and then when time permitted we relaxed after work was done. I don't know how many combined miles (or in context, KM) we spent walking around the streets of Bangalore and Chennai in our outreach efforts, but we were putting in reasonable effort and were highly conscious of the opportunity we were given. When we weren't visiting schools, we were writing emails, questions, etc (all within reason). Sure, when we had the chance, we stopped doing work and took some time to sightsee/etc, but that was on our own time and not time when were supposed to do work. Dave, by the way, spends his time entirely working and prepping for tournaments/etc, and didn't even take the time to do any basic sight-seeing that we did. In Chennai, he didn't leave the hotel once, instead focusing on IHO prep and outreach efforts on the whole. Yes, you read that right, he literally didn't leave the hotel to see the city because he was too busy working on IHBB stuff. I can get why some people might doubt IHBB's expansion efforts, but from the perspective as someone who's actually been part of those efforts, not only are they exceptionally rewarding but also successful. And the people involved in them are absolutely working hard to promote IHBB and quiz bowl at large.

Third, during IHO, all unpaid staffers who weren't being paid for question writing or running a separate event (me for example) got some time off. They made their contributions as necessary, and requested certain time off. Meanwhile, the some members of the question writing staff did get time off to see Diamond Head, and some members even went to Waikiki for the day. They worked incredibly hard and therefore absolutely deserved to have their time as necessary, but they got their options too. As for me personally, I took about ten pictures of Waikiki when I was in the area to pick up something from Fedex for future outreach. That was all the free time I had. I was indeed playing basketball as Bruce stated, but the context behind that was that after the election talk on Tuesday, I invited some of the IHO participants to continue our conversation while shooting a basketball, especially given that we had largely been indoors all week. Not only did we not miss any event or interfere with anything, we had quite an engaging conversation that facilitated continued interaction between our participants throughout the week, which is part of IHO's goals. Feel free to reach out to Luke Tierney or Alejandro Lim regarding this, as they were two of the students with me when this happened.

Fundamentally, I can't really speak to many of the concerns here as they were either before my team working with Dave or aside from my jurisdiction. But it is a little bit insulting to insinuate that our international outreach results purely in staff screwing around, and quite frankly exceptionally irresponsible to make off cuff statements to students that perpetuate these falsehoods. I was never the best quiz bowl player, and super involved in the community, but I did want to stay part of the activity. I personally chose to make NHBB/IHBB my only involvement with QB because A. it was the only time commitment I could make and B. I felt my personal goals aligned with Dave's mission and his perspective. We certainly don't see eye to eye on everything, but I've never felt anything but comfortable as his employee in any situation. I certainly encourage the forum to reach out to me if they have questions regarding my experiences in outreach and working for Dave, as I'm happy to answer them.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Post by The King's Flight to the Scots » Thu Aug 04, 2016 9:10 am

Al Hirt wrote: First off, it seems to be there's this duality where Dave is an employer who expects ridiculous things, but simultaneously lets his employees do whatever they please. Dave does expect results, but by and large he's flexible enough so as long as things get done, there's no issue. I've made mistakes before as I started to work for him, but he was quite patient and gave me plenty of rope to work with. I fixed those mistakes and it became a non-issue. This remains applicable from being a regional coordinator to international outreach.
That'll be good to know for the chumps who get three days to write 100 alphabet rounds for the JV Middle School Linguistics Bee.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Post by Cody » Thu Aug 04, 2016 9:42 am

As a side note to all the above, I feel it must be noted that Niki, at least, staffs nearly every other national and is an amazing staffer (easily 90th percentile). I wouldn't lump her in with people who don't contribute to the community at large.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Post by Knickerbocker glory » Thu Aug 04, 2016 1:56 pm

I've said this stuff before, and so has Eric, but I think it bears repeating.

To distill my chief complaints into a couple of points:

- I'm getting paid $50 for editing a 130-tossup Ancient History Bee set. This works out to about 38.5 cents per tossup. No matter what the editor is expected to do, this is an unacceptably low amount to pay for such a large undertaking. It's almost as though NHBB was trying to promote slapdash work with that money! I find the argument that "NHBB doesn't have money to spare to pay more" to be galling since I saw so much money being spent on other frivolous expenses such as at least 50 state/national flags, hiring ukulele and hula teachers, and the cost of a monthlong globetrotting trip that spanned three continents. This suggests to me that NHBB does not think of question quality as a high priority.

- The set should absolutely not be written during the tournament, especially not the night before. Adding to the "quality" argument, desperately writing questions the night before absolutely does not promote quality question-writing. I don't know why every major NHBB set must be written at the last minute, but I'm guessing it's because of the sheer number of questions needed to be written and because editors and writers are not rewarded adequately for doing quality work.

On a personal note: By the time I got to IHO, I had completely finished with the set I was responsible for—edited, packetized, and PDFed. Thus, I was under no obligation to write questions at IHO itself. Every tossup and multiple-choice question I wrote at IHO was overtime work, a form of charity that I performed because otherwise the set would have been incomplete and players would be disappointed. In essence, I was helping bail out other editors who did not complete their work on time. I take offense at the accusations that I "did not pull my weight" or that I "stiffed the tournament and dawdled on my work." I turned in my own assignment on time, done at a high quality, which is what was expected of me. I shouldn't have to take on an additional burden—much less be berated for it—and the fact that NHBB simply piled on more work and expected me to slave away on it (while I saw other staffers' Facebook photos on Waikiki Beach and heard them tell tales of yesterday's wild night out) is symptomatic of NHBB's disregard for its writers and editors.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NHBB?

Post by Cheynem » Thu Aug 04, 2016 6:24 pm

I FZ'ed recent, off-topic, pointless posts. Stick to the topic.
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