Proposal: Quizbowl Team Contact DB and Staffer DB

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Proposal: Quizbowl Team Contact DB and Staffer DB

Postby Adventure Temple Trail » Fri Jun 19, 2015 12:29 pm

One observation that's been made in recent discussions is that the quizbowl community is relatively decentralized. There aren't very many organizations or resources (this website excepted) which thread the whole community together, particularly at the high school level, and it's often hard for new teams to figure out how to navigate the "alphabet soup" of organizations that do exist. I don't think there's any quick fix for all of that, but I do think there's more we can do to get newer teams on the same footing as older or more active teams in terms of knowing where the important information is.

To that end, I'd like to propose two projects and ask what it would take to create them. Either or both would work well as additional components to the Quizbowl Resource Center itself.

> a "Quizbowl Contact Database" for middle school, high school, and college teams to display their own information. This would allow an individual affiliated with a team to maintain and update an entry displaying current contact info, and perhaps some other information such as where to mail a check if necessary. (Admins could exist to transfer entries when a sitting team captain or coach graduates.) This would look quite similar to the team entries on the NAQT webpage, but with more leeway for teams that don't play a lot of NAQT and open to community members for keeping their own teams' information curated. It could perhaps even be linked up with a more comprehensive results page for that team, such as the one found on I think it's especially important for college teams to keep this contact info in a centralized manner which is easy to access, so that any incoming college students at a given school know who to contact if a team already exists. There have been attempts at this in the past, such as the now long-defunct Maize Pages and the Google spreadsheets once maintained by Eliza Grames and George Berry (only sorta maintained these days?), but this is important enough a task to merit something new and more permanent.

> a "Quizbowl Staffer Database": This would allow individuals in the quizbowl community who enjoy staffing tournaments to maintain and update an entry of their name, their current city, their previous staffing experience / level of expertise with different staffing tasks, the radius which they'd be willing to travel to go staff something, the levels of competition they're willing to staff (e.g.: middle school, high school, college, open), and (optionally) preferred contact information for staffing requests. The reason why I think this would be helpful is as follows: There are many older people or recent alumni who might not be super plugged in to the events in their area, and who might be willing to staff if asked, but who aren't asked because up-and-coming teams don't necessarily know who they are. At least, I've heard plenty of stories of the "I didn't know that tournament was happening!" or "None of the high schools know who I am anymore!" sort, and think this would be a decent stopgap, so fewer tournaments up understaffed or smaller than they could be. This would also help quizbowl alumni who aren't exactly sure what they want to do to have a centralized and promoted way of giving back every once in a while.

Ideally, either of these would allow outside users to look up something like "all publicly-listed teams within 100 miles" or "all publicly-listed staffers who are willing to drive to my location", so as to make sure users don't miss anyone when making invitations, outreach, and staff recruitment for their events.

I am not a programmer of any stripe (aside from a little Java and Scheme done for intellectual reasons in college), and I feel sort of goofy suggesting this if I couldn't realistically help with it (though I guess I could Photoshop some images of what I'm envisioning here). So I guess I want to check here how viable it would be to build either or both of these interfaces, whether folks would use them if available, whether folks would want to help design /program these, and whether this site (the Quizbowl Resource Center overall) could accommodate them. How big a task would it be to set this up, and on whose shoulders would it fall?
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Re: Proposal: Quizbowl Team Contact DB and Staffer DB

Postby Excelsior (smack) » Fri Jun 19, 2015 10:55 pm

a "Quizbowl Contact Database"

If you make an account on and identify yourself as a club president / advisor / etc., can't you edit your school's contact info? I thought that was possible, but perhaps I'm just imagining things.

If this _is_ possible on, it seems best to just do it there rather than invent a whole separate database that lives in parallel to (Granted, appears to lack a useful way to query for things like "teams near me" other than by searching by state, but that seems like something one could conceivably bug Jonah or whoever to implement.)

a "Quizbowl Staffer Database"

This proposed thing is "trivial", as far as programming projects go (at minimum, it's a hugely smaller undertaking than a question-production system like QEMS, or a question-archiving system like QBDB, or a logistics system like BeES - it should be barely more than a straightforward CRUD application). If nobody else is super gung-ho about this, I'd certainly be happy to take a look at creating this (but no guarantees I won't flake out, as is my wont).
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Re: Proposal: Quizbowl Team Contact DB and Staffer DB

Postby jonah » Fri Jun 19, 2015 11:18 pm

Excelsior (smack) wrote:If you make an account on and identify yourself as a club president / advisor / etc., can't you edit your school's contact info? I thought that was possible, but perhaps I'm just imagining things.
Currently you can only edit your own affiliations. In the near future we will probably make it possible for people with appropriate, verified roles to edit other organizational affiliations.

Excelsior (smack) wrote:Granted, appears to lack a useful way to query for things like "teams near me" other than by searching by state, but that seems like something one could conceivably bug Jonah or whoever to implement.
Tournaments near me is on the list for this summer. Teams near me is a little bit trickier because our information on what teams are active is pretty spotty and we're working toward having every school in the United States (at the levels for which we produce questions) in the database. That doesn't mean I won't do it, I'm just not sure how useful it will be. Feel free to chat with Jeff and me about this further.
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Re: Proposal: Quizbowl Team Contact DB and Staffer DB

Postby ScoBo » Sat Jun 20, 2015 12:57 pm

These are both things I've wanted to add to the Quizbowl Resource Center Database for years. Unfortunately, development on the database has stalled for nearly two years from a combination of not having many free weekends, making tournament/question set entry merging much more complex than it could have been, and gradually picking up new programming ideas and as a result wanting to spend time refactoring the incomplete merging code. After saying this about what seems like a hundred times, I believe I really am finally done with the merging implementation, and all that remains is a bunch of tedious manual testing to make sure I didn't break anything and any (hopefully small) bug fixes that result from that testing.

Now that my quizbowl season is finally over, I'm avoiding any major quizbowl tasks for the next couple of weeks, but then I should be ready to dig in and finally wrap that up. Once that's done, the codebase will finally be in a state where we can re-evaluate the long list of desired features and prioritize what should be added next, and potentially bring more developers onto the project (assuming anyone is willing to wade through the PHP I wrote from scratch). I'll start a new thread about that when I'm ready, but my general thought is after getting stuck on the same complex feature for two years, I'm definitely interested in implementing several small but useful features and enhancements as opposed to something major. (In fact, I actually thought I was going to be able to finish the entry merging stuff over several days off between Christmas and New Years, and had written a "what to add next" post that probably would have been published had the Google Fiber installer not arrived at my parents' house until 10-15 minutes later - guess it worked out because I once again failed to finish the project that never ends. At least it'll be easy to pull that draft and start that thread when the time finally comes.)

Both of these features should be relatively simple to add, and a small bit of groundwork is already in place. There is already a "person" table that has an entry for every hsquizbowl registered user who provided their name the first time they visited the database (which is also linked to their account). It shouldn't be much work to add the missing tables and fields to contain this data, and the UI should be relatively simple as well. For now, the organization table would probably work the same way as tournaments and question sets in that one person would own the entry.
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