Split thread: "Venting and vituperation" and sexism

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Split thread: "Venting and vituperation" and sexism

Post by Tees-Exe Line » Mon Oct 07, 2013 12:00 pm

I'll start this off with what is sure to be a controversial and anger-generating post.

There is way, way too much venting and vituperation on here, to the point that the forum is avoided by active quizbowl players who don't want to be drawn in and don't like the atmosphere. And yes, that is intimately connected with quizbowl's unfriendly attitude to women and the consequent much-discussed gender imbalance in the game.

The obvious example that comes to mind is the sexist treatment of Hannah Kirsch and the unfounded trashing of a one-time PACE NSC staffer that took place after Andy Watkins was unmasked. I don't care if you think you have good reason to dislike Hannah and/or you think you have rock-solid evidence that someone had sex three years ago in a manner you consider to be immoral, or if you think that Andy was orchestrating all of that grievance-airing from behind the scenes because God knows those women couldn't have taken offense on their own behalf. This is not the place for that kind of talk, and that diktat applies no matter how long you've been posting here. If you really, really can't hold in those insulting, sexist comments, find a lonely wilderness and shout them to the wind.

(Of course, last time I participated in a "women in quizbowl" discussion I was excoriated for suggesting that women "can't take" abuse and don't like an environment of unbridled competitiveness and testosterone-fueled rage, which I suppose is designed to imply that I'm the real sexist here. And obviously, there are many women who post here regularly and, more generally, women who thrive in traditionally macho environments. But that does not qualify as a blanket excuse for engaging in that kind of behavior. You don't get to hide behind the example of women who DON'T flee in terror from male awfulness to perpetuate that awfulness.)

Now, let me say, day-to-day discussion does not usually look like last spring's trainwreck I mentioned above, but there's still way too much eagerness to take offense, to dish out insults that satisfy the emotional needs of the moment, and to use frankly violent and disturbing rhetoric in argumentation. If you wouldn't feel comfortable saying something face-to-face in public and among people you don't know, you shouldn't write it here.
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Re: State of the board discussion thread

Post by vinteuil » Mon Oct 07, 2013 12:23 pm

Tees-Exe Line wrote:There is way, way too much venting and vituperation on here, to the point that the forum is avoided by active quizbowl players who don't want to be drawn in and don't like the atmosphere.
Agreed! This totally needs to be toned down.
Tees-Exe Line wrote:I'll start this off with what is sure to be a controversial and anger-generating post.
...?
Tees-Exe Line wrote:And yes, that is intimately connected with quizbowl's unfriendly attitude to women and the consequent much-discussed gender imbalance in the game.
...????
I feel like there is absolutely no reason or need to drag gender into this at all. The example you give of ridiculously inappropriate posting does not in fact gain in ridiculous inappropriateness by the fact that concerns women. Anything that toxifies the forums environment ("vituperation" for instance) is a turn-off for both men and women.
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Re: State of the board discussion thread

Post by Tees-Exe Line » Mon Oct 07, 2013 12:29 pm

vinteuil wrote:Anything that toxifies the forums environment ("vituperation" for instance) is a turn-off for both men and women.
Well, yes, but this thread was presented as an opportunity to discuss whether and how the forum is or is not accomplishing its goal of improving quizbowl at all levels. I think I'm not the only one who thinks a major area for improvement would be attaining greater gender balance. If your contention is that a toxic forum environment is unconnected to that, I'll just say "you're wrong" and leave it there.
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Re: State of the board discussion thread

Post by The King's Flight to the Scots » Mon Oct 07, 2013 12:39 pm

Tees-Exe Line wrote:
vinteuil wrote:Anything that toxifies the forums environment ("vituperation" for instance) is a turn-off for both men and women.
Well, yes, but this thread was presented as an opportunity to discuss whether and how the forum is or is not accomplishing its goal of improving quizbowl at all levels. I think I'm not the only one who thinks a major area for improvement would be attaining greater gender balance. If your contention is that a toxic forum environment is unconnected to that, I'll just say "you're wrong" and leave it there.
Marshall, I would politely note that declaring "you're wrong" without deigning to give any substantial evidence is not likely to create a less toxic environment. I think it might be more helpful to discuss what types of threads have gone insane over the past six months and what we could change about the way we approach those issues.
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Re: State of the board discussion thread

Post by Cheynem » Mon Oct 07, 2013 12:40 pm

While I am amused that Marshall of all people is denouncing "too much eagerness to take offense" and "dishing out insults," I generally agree with his points about how people posting should do a better job of recalling we are a community and that the point of the boards is to work together as a community. Note that this does not mean we cannot criticize and in some cases criticize vociferously, but that we (including myself) should probably think about the purpose of our argumentation before we necessarily hit post.

As for the gender/sexism thing he brings up, I'm not sure what to think. I too thought the attacks on Hannah were quite out of line (the gendered attacks, which even Matt Weiner, not exactly Andy's apologist, denounced), but I didn't see them emanating from a large portion of the forum population and indeed they were quickly FZ'ed. I'd be interested to hear Marshall or whoever expound a bit more on the avoidance of the atmosphere of the forum. Indeed, I think the forums are actually a lot more welcoming and well organized than in years past.
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Re: State of the board discussion thread

Post by Tees-Exe Line » Mon Oct 07, 2013 12:43 pm

Vernon Lee Bad Marriage, Jr. wrote:Marshall, I would politely note that declaring "you're wrong" without deigning to give any substantial evidence is not likely to create a less toxic environment. I think it might be more helpful to discuss what types of threads have gone insane over the past six months and what we could change about the way we approach those issues.
Well, the obvious example is the one I already gave. As a result of that, there was a major diplomatic offensive, undertaken outside the forums obviously, to reassure people that "quizbowl isn't really like that." Furthermore, my teammates have routinely cautioned new players not to go on the forums lest they be turned off of quizbowl. That's a problem.
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Re: State of the board discussion thread

Post by Auroni » Mon Oct 07, 2013 1:34 pm

Tees-Exe Line wrote:I'll start this off with what is sure to be a controversial and anger-generating post.
Nah, it's not, really. Saying that women are turned off from quizbowl because of sexist attitudes is a sensible argument. But saying that they are turned off due to some nebulously defined "competitive" or "vituperative" or "unfriendly" nature of the forum hinges on making sexist assumptions about women. That makes you, Marshall, part of the problem.
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Re: State of the board discussion thread

Post by Tees-Exe Line » Mon Oct 07, 2013 2:18 pm

Kenneth Widmerpool wrote:But saying that they are turned off due to some nebulously defined "competitive" or "vituperative" or "unfriendly" nature of the forum hinges on making sexist assumptions about women. That makes you, Marshall, part of the problem.
Why, because I dared to suggest that women specifically might find that environment unfriendly? Here's a fact: contra what Reinstein wrote above, my teammates and I routinely do still warn people off the forums because we're interested in maintaining interest in quizbowl and in the Chicago team. Perhaps you'd prefer to ignore that reality and pretend it's because I'm a sexist jerk, or maybe you'd like to take it seriously. From the fact that Andrew posted this thread and from the previous comments (ie, every one besides yours), I conclude that others do actually want to take it seriously.
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Re: State of the board discussion thread

Post by Cheynem » Mon Oct 07, 2013 2:20 pm

Can you be a little more specific why you warn your teammates not to go to the boards? None of my teammates, many of whom do not post, seem to have any problem with it--and I'm not trying to be flippant here, I just don't understand. Have they been personally attacked? Have they seen problems? I don't pretend that there isn't unpleasantness on the boards, but from my perspective, it's rare and for the most part, well handled, so I'm curious as to what bothers your team.
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Re: State of the board discussion thread

Post by Susan » Mon Oct 07, 2013 2:29 pm

I guess I'm curious about this too, as someone who used to be on the Chicago team; to the best of my recollection, we never warned anyone off of the boards (although we definitely should have suggested that people avoid posting on the boards while drunk in Seth Teitler's apartment), and we maintained a large and healthy team the whole time I was there (plus a large and healthy alumni volunteer pool, which suggests that people retained reasonably fond memories of quizbowl despite board exposure). I definitely recall people commenting on discussions or posters they thought were stupid, but that mostly resulted in mocking those discussions or people, not quitting the team.
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Re: State of the board discussion thread

Post by Auroni » Mon Oct 07, 2013 2:30 pm

Tees-Exe Line wrote:
Kenneth Widmerpool wrote:But saying that they are turned off due to some nebulously defined "competitive" or "vituperative" or "unfriendly" nature of the forum hinges on making sexist assumptions about women. That makes you, Marshall, part of the problem.
Why, because I dared to suggest that women specifically might find that environment unfriendly? Here's a fact: contra what Reinstein wrote above, my teammates and I routinely do still warn people off the forums because we're interested in maintaining interest in quizbowl and in the Chicago team. Perhaps you'd prefer to ignore that reality and pretend it's because I'm a sexist jerk, or maybe you'd like to take it seriously. From the fact that Andrew posted this thread and from the previous comments (ie, every one besides yours), I conclude that others do actually want to take it seriously.
No, you warn people off the forums because you're overdramatic sometimes. The vast majority of new users are never treated poorly or roughed up by the community. The ones who do are those who break board rules or act obnoxious, and they get their just desserts.
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Re: State of the board discussion thread

Post by Tees-Exe Line » Mon Oct 07, 2013 3:03 pm

Kenneth Widmerpool wrote:The ones who do are those who break board rules or act obnoxious, and they get their just desserts.
Really? Is that what happened to the people who posted about Hannah and the PACE staffer? On the contrary, what happened thereafter is that the person responsible for that post continued to maintain that he was legally obligated to hold forth on his bizarre theories about the woman's sex life in public.

Here's the specifics of what happened, for those who asked: after that went down, as I understand it high schoolers approached some of my teammates about why college quizbowl was so f****d up, and my teammates told those people that you can be an active college quizbowl player without interacting with the forums and with the people responsible for those posts.
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Re: Split thread: "Venting and vituperation" and sexism

Post by Important Bird Area » Mon Oct 07, 2013 3:07 pm

For reference, here are the threads under discussion:

FZed

also FZed

original quizbowl-relevant anger thread
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Re: State of the board discussion thread

Post by Auroni » Mon Oct 07, 2013 3:17 pm

Tees-Exe Line wrote:
Kenneth Widmerpool wrote:The ones who do are those who break board rules or act obnoxious, and they get their just desserts.
Really? Is that what happened to the people who posted about Hannah and the PACE staffer? On the contrary, what happened thereafter is that the person responsible for that post continued to maintain that he was legally obligated to hold forth on his bizarre theories about the woman's sex life in public.

Here's the specifics of what happened, for those who asked: after that went down, as I understand it high schoolers approached some of my teammates about why college quizbowl was so f****d up, and my teammates told those people that you can be an active college quizbowl player without interacting with the forums and with the people responsible for those posts.
The posting about Hannah was sexist, I never argued otherwise. It shouldn't have happened. The PACE staffer chose to reveal herself even though Matt's post was anonymous, then defended Andy; her post was dismissed because she was not involved in quizbowl, not because she was a woman; although she was ultimately a victim of Andy, not of the forums.

Apart from those two situations, one of which was sexist, plenty of female posters have come onto the boards and none have been driven away by your bizarre repeated insistence that the boards create a toxic atmosphere for women just because they get heated sometimes.
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Re: State of the board discussion thread

Post by Matt Weiner » Mon Oct 07, 2013 3:17 pm

Tees-Exe Line wrote:Really? Is that what happened to the people who posted about Hannah and the PACE staffer? On the contrary, what happened thereafter is that the person responsible for that post continued to maintain that he was legally obligated to hold forth on his bizarre theories about the woman's sex life in public.
I do maintain that Andy Watkins's financial malfeasance as a member of PACE was relevant to a thread pointing out Andy Watkins's shortcomings, that the identity of the third person involved was completely undiscoverable by anyone until that person "mysteriously" discovered the forums two hours later and showed up to identify herself as "totally not who you're talking about, guys!", and that your quixotic "sex-positivity" quest in which Andy Watkins's actions are retroactively justified the moment they involve someone's sexual escapades is both wildly indefensible on its face and monomaniacal to the point of absurdity in that you feel compelled to bring it up as some sort of totem of the message board's behavior as a whole, when this incident has never been discussed before or since that one day except by you. Your theory is, apparently, that these message boards were organized in 2003 as step one of a lengthy plan to mention an anonymous person in passing ten years later and then never bring her up again. If I was engineering a misogynist conspiracy, please give me credit and assume I would come up with something a little more effective than that.
Here's the specifics of what happened, for those who asked: after that went down, as I understand it high schoolers approached some of my teammates about why college quizbowl was so f****d up, and my teammates told those people that you can be an active college quizbowl player without interacting with the forums and with the people responsible for those posts.
College quizbowl is so :capybara: up because horrible people like Andy Watkins can get away with their behavior for years knowing that they have the support of contrarian trolls like Marshall Steinbaum and Kay Li, who will post all day solely for the purpose of pissing off the most people rather than out of any earnest and rational desire to progress the activity.
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Re: State of the board discussion thread

Post by Tees-Exe Line » Mon Oct 07, 2013 3:19 pm

Matt Weiner wrote:
Tees-Exe Line wrote:Really? Is that what happened to the people who posted about Hannah and the PACE staffer? On the contrary, what happened thereafter is that the person responsible for that post continued to maintain that he was legally obligated to hold forth on his bizarre theories about the woman's sex life in public.
I do maintain that Andy Watkins's financial malfeasance as a member of PACE was relevant to a thread pointing out Andy Watkins's shortcomings, that the identity of the third person involved was completely undiscoverable by anyone until that person "mysteriously" discovered the forums two hours later and showed up to identify herself as "totally not who you're talking about, guys!", and that your quixotic "sex-positivity" quest in which Andy Watkins's actions are retroactively justified the moment they involve someone's sexual escapades is both wildly indefensible on its face and monomaniacal to the point of absurdity in that you feel compelled to bring it up as some sort of totem of the message board's behavior as a whole, when this incident has never been discussed before or since that one day except by you. Your theory is, apparently, that these message boards were organized in 2003 as step one of a lengthy plan to mention an anonymous person in passing ten years later and then never bring her up again. If I was engineering a misogynist conspiracy, please give me credit and assume I would come up with something a little more effective than that.
Here's the specifics of what happened, for those who asked: after that went down, as I understand it high schoolers approached some of my teammates about why college quizbowl was so f****d up, and my teammates told those people that you can be an active college quizbowl player without interacting with the forums and with the people responsible for those posts.
College quizbowl is so fucked up because horrible people like Andy Watkins can get away with their behavior for years knowing that they have the support of contrarian trolls like Marshall Steinbaum and Kay Li, who will post all day solely for the purpose of pissing off the most people rather than out of any earnest and rational desire to progress the activity.
Wow--couldn't have said what's wrong with this forum better myself. (Indeed, I didn't.)
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Re: State of the board discussion thread

Post by vinteuil » Mon Oct 07, 2013 3:22 pm

Tees-Exe Line wrote:There is way, way too much venting and vituperation [in] here
Did we not all just agree that this is a huge problem on these forums?? I see absolutely no reason why these sentiments/threads can't go somewhere else (IRC? Email?), because they aren't really contributing anything to the quizbowl community as a whole.
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Re: Split thread: "Venting and vituperation" and sexism

Post by Matt Weiner » Mon Oct 07, 2013 3:27 pm

Also, as amused as I have been by occasional people in the past trying to hold the board hostage to "if you don't allow people to advocate for bad quizbowl without being challenged, I will order the high schoolers under my purview not to read the board!" demands, this is the first time I've ever heard of someone trying to do it to their COLLEGE quizbowl team. Maybe their problem is that Marshall views both men AND women who are fully formed adults as mental children needing to be dominated by his judgments?
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Re: State of the board discussion thread

Post by vcuEvan » Mon Oct 07, 2013 3:28 pm

vinteuil wrote:
Tees-Exe Line wrote:There is way, way too much venting and vituperation [in] here
Did we not all just agree that this is a huge problem on these forums?? I see absolutely no reason why these sentiments/threads can't go somewhere else (IRC? Email?), because they aren't really contributing anything to the quizbowl community as a whole.
I'm pretty sure that was just you and Marshall. Though I'm interested to see your examples of people going too far in the past few months, because I don't really know what you're talking about
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Re: State of the board discussion thread

Post by vinteuil » Mon Oct 07, 2013 3:29 pm

vcuEvan wrote:
vinteuil wrote:
Tees-Exe Line wrote:There is way, way too much venting and vituperation [in] here
Did we not all just agree that this is a huge problem on these forums?? I see absolutely no reason why these sentiments/threads can't go somewhere else (IRC? Email?), because they aren't really contributing anything to the quizbowl community as a whole.
I'm pretty sure that was just you and Marshall. Though I'm interested to see your examples of people going too far in the past few months, because I don't really know what you're talking about
Fair enough about perceived consensus. I was thinking of the "sexism" and "protests" disasters.
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Re: Split thread: "Venting and vituperation" and sexism

Post by Susan » Mon Oct 07, 2013 3:30 pm

The posts about Hannah and the other staffer were sexist and terrible. This thread is currently terrible. I'd like to try to redirect things.

Is discussion on the board generally sufficiently vituperative that it's driving players away? Does this differentially affect female players (or any other group in particular)? If we are having problems, do people have any suggestions for how we might make things better? Anyone is free to answer, but naturally I'm particularly interested in hearing from anyone who has felt marginalized or turned off by the tone of discussion on the boards (whether it's because of their gender or not). As an administrator, I will ask that we all try to respond to each other calmly, kindly, and reasonably. It's pointless to have a discussion like this if we're all just going to yell at each other.
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Re: Split thread: "Venting and vituperation" and sexism

Post by jonah » Mon Oct 07, 2013 3:33 pm

Susan wrote:Is discussion on the board generally sufficiently vituperative that it's driving players away?
I don't know about players, but it has driven at least five high school coaches I know of away, and I have no reason to think the five I know of are the only ones. Furthermore, people think of the board and good quizbowl as strongly intertwined (which makes sense, to a degree), so some of them were in turn driven away from good quizbowl because they perceived its advocates as, shall we say, too awful to deal with.
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Re: Split thread: "Venting and vituperation" and sexism

Post by Matt Weiner » Mon Oct 07, 2013 3:36 pm

Honestly, I don't see where this alleged "vituperation" is coming from in the high school sections. It's been many years since they were particularly raucous. At some point we have to face the fact that there are thin-skinned people out there who perceive any disagreement as an attack, and there are bad quizbowl advocates who are dishonest and will use the "civility" canard to hide the fact that they want to destroy any place that uncompromisingly advocates for good quizbowl.

Given the very checkered history of the "anonymous people whose motives I won't vouch for say they were not welcomed to the forums, which is the worst thing of all" card, I just can't accept it in and of itself as a problem.
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Re: Split thread: "Venting and vituperation" and sexism

Post by jonah » Mon Oct 07, 2013 3:39 pm

Matt Weiner wrote:Given the very checkered history of the "anonymous people whose motives I won't vouch for say they were not welcomed to the forums, which is the worst thing of all" card, I just can't accept it in and of itself as a problem.
I don't know whether my word means anything to you, but I can vouch for some of those coaches' intentions. I don't see how mentioning them by name is relevant.
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Re: Split thread: "Venting and vituperation" and sexism

Post by at your pleasure » Mon Oct 07, 2013 3:41 pm

Marshall, don't you have lots of work and more important things to do than getting into pointless internet catfights?
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Re: Split thread: "Venting and vituperation" and sexism

Post by Matt Weiner » Mon Oct 07, 2013 3:41 pm

jonah wrote:
Matt Weiner wrote:Given the very checkered history of the "anonymous people whose motives I won't vouch for say they were not welcomed to the forums, which is the worst thing of all" card, I just can't accept it in and of itself as a problem.
I don't know whether my word means anything to you, but I can vouch for some of those coaches' intentions. I don't see how mentioning them by name is relevant.
It would be better to point to what exactly in the high school section is an issue. I'm not 100% proud of every thread that existed in 2005, but the way things have been for the past several years is obviously different, and I don't think there's anything there that should drive away a person acting in good faith.
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Re: Split thread: "Venting and vituperation" and sexism

Post by Tees-Exe Line » Mon Oct 07, 2013 3:42 pm

Kuandian Manchu Autonomous County wrote:Marshall, don't you have lots of work and more important things to do than getting into pointless internet catfights?
Yes.
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Re: Split thread: "Venting and vituperation" and sexism

Post by jonah » Mon Oct 07, 2013 3:44 pm

Matt Weiner wrote:
jonah wrote:
Matt Weiner wrote:Given the very checkered history of the "anonymous people whose motives I won't vouch for say they were not welcomed to the forums, which is the worst thing of all" card, I just can't accept it in and of itself as a problem.
I don't know whether my word means anything to you, but I can vouch for some of those coaches' intentions. I don't see how mentioning them by name is relevant.
It would be better to point to what exactly in the high school section is an issue. I'm not 100% proud of every thread that existed in 2005, but the way things have been for the past several years is obviously different, and I don't think there's anything there that should drive away a person acting in good faith.
I disagree, and I will try to find some examples, but the chance of me having the time during the span Andrew announced this subforum would be open is pretty slim.
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Re: Split thread: "Venting and vituperation" and sexism

Post by vcuEvan » Mon Oct 07, 2013 3:50 pm

jonah wrote:I disagree, and I will try to find some examples, but the chance of me having the time during the span Andrew announced this subforum would be open is pretty slim.
It's a month. Are you saying you probably won't find any of these people in a month?
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Re: Split thread: "Venting and vituperation" and sexism

Post by Susan » Mon Oct 07, 2013 3:52 pm

<em>Matt Weiner</em> wrote: the "civility" canard
I think this is a big part of the problem.

Have there been people on the boards who would whine about "civility" and "tone" in a discussion that wasn't going their way? Yes. Do I, as board staff, want to be tasked with dealing out warnings for tone in arguments? Good God, no.

But I'd say we have a problem on this board with people who post intemperately and thus--even when their points are solid--turn people off. If we're trying to sell people on good quizbowl, I don't think yelling at them works. (And Matt, before you point to the success you've had in spreading good quizbowl, because I will happily acknowledge that you've had LOTS of success there, I would argue that it's the huge amount of hard work you've put in that HASN'T involved yelling at people on the internet about it that has made that happen.) I don't like that we mock the term "civility" on this board; I think it speaks pretty badly of us that we do so.

I have had to deal with jerkfaces, or reasonable people who are exhibiting jerky behavior, in many aspects of my life for a long time. Science is full of them, life on a small college campus is not free of them, etc. In real life, I have pretty much always had to deal with people without yelling, without snark--sometimes speaking plainly and not sugarcoating things, but always tempering my message so that the person I was speaking to would actually listen to what I said. (Then I could go out for a beer and make fun of them behind their backs! Except not in the small college town.) We do talk a lot about how we want this messageboard to be less internetty and more like real life; that's where the signatures come from, and the no-4chan (the bad website)-stuff rule, and all that. I would like it if we could extend that to remembering who we're talking to, how we can get them to listen to us, and how we would like to be spoken to in return.
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Re: State of the board discussion thread

Post by vcuEvan » Mon Oct 07, 2013 4:00 pm

vinteuil wrote:
vcuEvan wrote:
vinteuil wrote:
Tees-Exe Line wrote:There is way, way too much venting and vituperation [in] here
Did we not all just agree that this is a huge problem on these forums?? I see absolutely no reason why these sentiments/threads can't go somewhere else (IRC? Email?), because they aren't really contributing anything to the quizbowl community as a whole.
I'm pretty sure that was just you and Marshall. Though I'm interested to see your examples of people going too far in the past few months, because I don't really know what you're talking about
Fair enough about perceived consensus. I was thinking of the "sexism" and "protests" disasters.
This is laughable as evidence of a "huge problem." The former was dealt with quickly by the mods. I don't understand why the latter was a "disaster." If anything, the consensus of most people who have been here a while seems to be that the level of vitriol has been decreasing constantly and that overall the boards are a pretty friendly place.

Even if there is a problem, what solution do you support? Should we ban statements like the one Charlie made one time in that one thread six months ago? Because that's already happening.
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Re: Split thread: "Venting and vituperation" and sexism

Post by jonah » Mon Oct 07, 2013 4:01 pm

vcuEvan wrote:
jonah wrote:I disagree, and I will try to find some examples, but the chance of me having the time during the span Andrew announced this subforum would be open is pretty slim.
It's a month. Are you saying you probably won't find any of these people in a month?
It's two weeks with a possible extension to a month, and I have an extremely busy two weeks ahead of me. My school work and other work that makes me money is a higher priority than winning internet arguments.
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Re: Split thread: "Venting and vituperation" and sexism

Post by Matt Weiner » Mon Oct 07, 2013 4:02 pm

I agree with what you're saying, Susan. I just think that when people call for "civility" in quizbowl, they are, as a matter of empirical observation, rarely responding to a blast of invective. There are too many people who think "the way you designed this tournament schedule was suboptimal, here is a better way to do it" is a personal attack. There were also years and years of people doing very "uncivil" things (being racist, being homophobic, trying to destroy good quizbowl organizations through underhanded tactics) who demanded "civility" in any response to their words or actions. The reason I have a Pavlovian reaction to the word is precisely because of the latter group and the absolutely horrible things they did all while claiming to be paragons of "civility."

If we are to move forward into a new (or, I would say, continue in what has since around 2010 been the existing) state of more restrained and "civil" discussion, it will require all sides to engage in it in good faith. Marshall turning every thread about overarching issues into a rehash of whatever personal slight he is feeling, Kay Li demanding respect after years of "all you quizbowl people are such NERDS for caring about stuff and I'm awesome for not giving a shit" assertions, people proclaiming "there are huge problems here that I will not have time in the next month to specify in any way," and actual personal attacks on individuals or demographic groups are examples of failing to meet that standard, as is any sort of "meet my demands or I'll lead a boycott of the forum" rhetoric. I have no problem examining my own posting or suggesting changes to the board rules in response to changing real-world circumstances, but it seems a lot of other people want to have their cake and eat it too.
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Re: Split thread: "Venting and vituperation" and sexism

Post by Matt Weiner » Mon Oct 07, 2013 4:07 pm

jonah wrote:
vcuEvan wrote:
jonah wrote:I disagree, and I will try to find some examples, but the chance of me having the time during the span Andrew announced this subforum would be open is pretty slim.
It's a month. Are you saying you probably won't find any of these people in a month?
It's two weeks with a possible extension to a month, and I have an extremely busy two weeks ahead of me. My school work and other work that makes me money is a higher priority than winning internet arguments.
This is a good example of what I'm talking about. Sneering "all of you people with your INTERNET ARGUMENTS who aren't as awesome as me with my REAL WORK" replies are not "civil," certainly not in response to a perfectly reasonable request to provide any specific examples whatsoever of something you chose to come into the thread to assert is a significant problem. No one ever decries this sort of nonsense as the wrong tone because that's reserved exclusively for people in the "we should have open discussion on the board / we should have good quizbowl" group and never, ever for their ideological counterparts. Do you really think that Evan, or myself, or anyone else in this thread doesn't also have a lot to do in school, work, or both? Until we drive out all of this "caring about quizbowl is uncool" bullshit we aren't going to achieve the goal of perfectly logical discussion that you claim to want.
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Re: State of the board discussion thread

Post by vinteuil » Mon Oct 07, 2013 4:09 pm

vcuEvan wrote:
vinteuil wrote:
vcuEvan wrote:
vinteuil wrote:
Tees-Exe Line wrote:There is way, way too much venting and vituperation [in] here
Did we not all just agree that this is a huge problem on these forums?? I see absolutely no reason why these sentiments/threads can't go somewhere else (IRC? Email?), because they aren't really contributing anything to the quizbowl community as a whole.
I'm pretty sure that was just you and Marshall. Though I'm interested to see your examples of people going too far in the past few months, because I don't really know what you're talking about
Fair enough about perceived consensus. I was thinking of the "sexism" and "protests" disasters.
This is laughable as evidence of a "huge problem."
You're right, I'm being a bit histrionic here. Sorry about that.
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Re: Split thread: "Venting and vituperation" and sexism

Post by Tees-Exe Line » Mon Oct 07, 2013 4:13 pm

Matt Weiner wrote:No one ever decries this sort of nonsense as the wrong tone because that's reserved exclusively for people in the "we should have open discussion on the board / we should have good quizbowl" group and never, ever for their ideological counterparts. Do you really think that Evan, or myself, or anyone else in this thread doesn't also have a lot to do in school, work, or both? Until we drive out all of this "caring about quizbowl is uncool" bullshit we aren't going to achieve the goal of perfectly logical discussion that you claim to want.
How about this? The problem is that you insist on seeing everyone you disagree with/you feel has said something stupid as your ideological opponent who must be stamped out at all costs. (Relatedly, you consider yourself synonymous with good quizbowl and any attack on the former is an attack on the latter.) The fact that you just characterized Jonah as someone who thinks caring about quizbowl is uncool and whose "other work" isn't related to good quizbowl just as much as yours pretty thoroughly reveals how badly you've gone off the rails.
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Re: Split thread: "Venting and vituperation" and sexism

Post by Cheynem » Mon Oct 07, 2013 4:14 pm

I would be interested to know as well why high school coaches are bothered by the boards. I don't think we need like a block by block account of it or signed affidavits, just something like "coach X got mad at the thread about tournament at Napierville" or something.

I agree fully with Susan about civility.
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Re: Split thread: "Venting and vituperation" and sexism

Post by vcuEvan » Mon Oct 07, 2013 4:16 pm

jonah wrote:
vcuEvan wrote:
jonah wrote:I disagree, and I will try to find some examples, but the chance of me having the time during the span Andrew announced this subforum would be open is pretty slim.
It's a month. Are you saying you probably won't find any of these people in a month?
It's two weeks with a possible extension to a month, and I have an extremely busy two weeks ahead of me. My school work and other work that makes me money is a higher priority than winning internet arguments.
I apologize, I didn't realize you had enough time to read this thread and make ambitious assertions but not enough time to post evidence to back those assertions up.
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Re: Split thread: "Venting and vituperation" and sexism

Post by jonah » Mon Oct 07, 2013 4:19 pm

Matt Weiner wrote:
jonah wrote:
vcuEvan wrote:
jonah wrote:I disagree, and I will try to find some examples, but the chance of me having the time during the span Andrew announced this subforum would be open is pretty slim.
It's a month. Are you saying you probably won't find any of these people in a month?
It's two weeks with a possible extension to a month, and I have an extremely busy two weeks ahead of me. My school work and other work that makes me money is a higher priority than winning internet arguments.
This is a good example of what I'm talking about. Sneering "all of you people with your INTERNET ARGUMENTS who aren't as awesome as me with my REAL WORK"
I didn't say anything like that. I get to choose my priorities just like you get to choose yours, and I make no value judgment about your choices.

Matt Weiner wrote:a perfectly reasonable request to provide any specific examples whatsoever of something you chose to come into the thread to assert is a significant problem
I agree, which is why I plan to find some specific examples when I get a chance. That time is not now.
Matt Weiner wrote:Do you really think that Evan, or myself, or anyone else in this thread doesn't also have a lot to do in school, work, or both?
Nope. See above about priorities; we can each make our own choices.
Matt Weiner wrote:Until we drive out all of this "caring about quizbowl is uncool" bullshit
As it happens, most of what I have to do over the next few weeks is for quizbowl, just aspects of quizbowl that I consider more important than the board. I certainly don't think caring about quizbowl is uncool, and I don't appreciate the implication that I do.
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Re: Split thread: "Venting and vituperation" and sexism

Post by Susan » Mon Oct 07, 2013 4:20 pm

Thanks for this post, Matt, which demands a better response than I have time to give it as I head out to a meeting. Matt's correct that there are a lot of people who need to think about how to keep discussion on the board civil and functional. While I addressed part of my post to Matt, it applies to everyone; no one ought to feel like they have license to rant (on the boards, at least--feel free to do whatever you want in private).
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Re: Split thread: "Venting and vituperation" and sexism

Post by kayli » Mon Oct 07, 2013 4:38 pm

Matt Weiner wrote:...Kay Li demanding respect after years of "all you quizbowl people are such NERDS for caring about stuff and I'm awesome for not giving a shit" assertions...


Your constant, unprovoked maligning of my character and beliefs speaks to a level of immaturity that, even in my high school years, I have never been able to reach.
Last edited by kayli on Mon Oct 07, 2013 8:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Split thread: "Venting and vituperation" and sexism

Post by Howard » Mon Oct 07, 2013 7:33 pm

jonah wrote:It's two weeks with a possible extension to a month, and I have an extremely busy two weeks ahead of me. My school work and other work that makes me money is a higher priority than winning internet arguments.
The following example comes to mind because it involved, well, me. Hopefully this helps.

This was a post where I made the following points, even prefacing it by saying that the points are valid even without consideration to preferred format. In summary, the following was addressed:
-- We must assess (and act on, as appropriate) team preferences
-- Iterated specific desire of many teams to have less lopsided games
-- Reiterated a potential largely-dismissed solution
-- Expounded the benefits of having similar ability teams play each other
-- Discussed the general poor attendance in the Baltimore-DC area, with examples
-- Recommended solution to lack of sufficient staffing

And this and this are Mr. Weiner's responses to my post and another. In summary:
-- Mr. Weiner asserts I'm attempting to exert my personal preferences on everyone.
-- Mr. Weiner believes we should mock teams that are disheartened to the point that they leave tournaments early.
-- Mr. Weiner makes fallacious assertion all of my arguments and suggestions have no viability because he disagrees with some of my beliefs.

My response was as follows:
-- Explanation regarding why teams leave early despite closer games in afternoon.
-- Question the idea that this has to do only with the team and not at all tournament structure
-- Pointed out potential problem with not creating a second division because not enough teams are entering
-- Invited alternate potential solutions
-- Concluded Mr. Weiner's responses above weren't intended to be constructive because they were straw man arguments and ad hominem attacks
-- Requested evidence to counter my evidence that Baltimore-DC tournaments were declining in attendance
-- Pointed out that tournaments expect low turnouts and that this was generally accepted
-- Pointed out that using national tournaments to assess local circuit performance was fallacious
-- Offered to continue discussion of how to address declining attendance rather than fight about format preferences
-- Referenced instance of Mr. Weiner criticizing an otherwise well-received event as what seemed like retribution for previous actions of tournament organizer
-- Asserted that this made it difficult to accept Mr. Weiner's criticisms at face value
-- Rejected the idea that academic teams should be controlled by influences outside the school system
-- Purposely kept opinions on benefits of nonpyramidal formats out of post.

My reward for this effort at perhaps getting more people and teams to pyramidal tournaments was that I was banned for a week for metaposting, backseat moderation, and complaining about posts.

So, I'd like to know how, in good conscience, I'm to recommend my students post here. As much as we've talked about this forum being a free exchange of ideas, it isn't. I tell my students about the forum because there are great resources here. At the same time, I tell them to not post because I see how people with competing ideas are treated. And, for the record, I'm not referring to being argued against.

When I post the things coaches tell me that keep them from attending tournaments or participating on the boards, that's because those things actually happened. The board as a whole continuing to dismiss the idea that if it isn't posted here, it doesn't count simply continues to ignore a significant faction of teams. If we readily recognize that advertising tournaments here isn't enough, we should also recognize that simply taking the temperature of the denizens of the board isn't enough to assess the state of quizbowl.
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Re: Split thread: "Venting and vituperation" and sexism

Post by Howard » Mon Oct 07, 2013 7:35 pm

Forgot to mention the above exchange occurred approximately 4.5 months ago. So yes, the things that drive people away are still happening.
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Re: Split thread: "Venting and vituperation" and sexism

Post by Cheynem » Mon Oct 07, 2013 7:53 pm

Unless I'm missing something, who did that exchange drive away?
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Re: Split thread: "Venting and vituperation" and sexism

Post by Howard » Mon Oct 07, 2013 7:59 pm

Cheynem wrote:Unless I'm missing something, who did that exchange drive away?
Anyone that doesn't want the same ad hominem attacks aimed at them. Surely you don't believe that people come here to be attacked.

Further, I don't see how such exchanges can be seen as promoting anything other than "we're a bunch of people who are close minded to the point of attacking anyone with competing ideas." Nor do I comprehend how that will attract anyone to the site or pyramidal quiz bowl.
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Re: Split thread: "Venting and vituperation" and sexism

Post by Haaaaaaaarry Whiiiiiiiiiite » Mon Oct 07, 2013 8:45 pm

Howard wrote:
Cheynem wrote:Unless I'm missing something, who did that exchange drive away?
Anyone that doesn't want the same ad hominem attacks aimed at them. Surely you don't believe that people come here to be attacked.
I've noticed in a lot of these discussions, there has been a lot of talk about people having been driven away from the forums, but I don't recall seeing any real-life examples as opposed to hypothetical situations such as this. I don't think any of us like having ad hominem attacks directed at us, yet we're still here. I'm not saying that I don't believe anyone has been driven away from HSQB by such things, but I'm going to be a bit skeptical until I see actual proof.
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Re: Split thread: "Venting and vituperation" and sexism

Post by The King's Flight to the Scots » Mon Oct 07, 2013 9:29 pm

Howard wrote: So, I'd like to know how, in good conscience, I'm to recommend my students post here. As much as we've talked about this forum being a free exchange of ideas, it isn't. I tell my students about the forum because there are great resources here. At the same time, I tell them to not post because I see how people with competing ideas are treated. And, for the record, I'm not referring to being argued against.

When I post the things coaches tell me that keep them from attending tournaments or participating on the boards, that's because those things actually happened. The board as a whole continuing to dismiss the idea that if it isn't posted here, it doesn't count simply continues to ignore a significant faction of teams. If we readily recognize that advertising tournaments here isn't enough, we should also recognize that simply taking the temperature of the denizens of the board isn't enough to assess the state of quizbowl.
You should recommend your students to come on here because we're actually very civil to new people with ideas we do not accept, even about good versus bad quizbowl. If you keep advocating for bad, underground events that suck teams away from the quizbowl circuit, we're going to be angry at you; however, if you're a high schooler and come on with questions about how the larger circuit works, we'll be happy to answer them. As an educator, you should be happy to allow your students to evaluate opinions different from their own.
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Re: Split thread: "Venting and vituperation" and sexism

Post by Matt Weiner » Mon Oct 07, 2013 9:59 pm

John, I find that a really disingenuous summary of what happened in that thread. You were bringing bad facts to the table and bad arguments, and many people (including people who certainly do not agree with me about many major issues such as David Reinstein, Matt Jackson, Harry White, and Isaac Hirsch) were countermanding you in a perfectly "civil" way. You can't get angry at people for not believing things you say that aren't true. You did, and then you brought in a bunch of irrelevant weirdness about not liking the way I posted in a Princeton thread in 2009 (!) knowing darn well that this is both against the board rules and a complete non-sequitur to the questions under discussion. Pulling the ripcord and taking the "martyr's way out" of a losing argument by posting something you know will get you banned is a popular way to try to turn being wrong into being a victim on this board, and while it will continue to work in the sense that the rules will be enforced for everyone objectively, it's still a scoff-inducing way to behave.

We don't ban people for believing in incorrect and destructive things, or even for not engaging in good faith in arguments. When people repeatedly pointed out that your contention "quizbowl attendance is down in the Baltimore region because good questions are too long" didn't make any sense, because good questions are used everywhere and attendance is up in most other regions, you got angry at them for not accepting your assertions at face value and tried to bulldoze your way to a "therefore make everything It's Academic" conclusion by just repeating already-punctured rhetorical balloons. You're free to do this, but other people are free to tell you not only that your facts and your arguments are poor, but that we all recognize what your agenda is. You are welcome to keep engaging in this cycle and occasionally taking one-week bans when you blow up and accuse everyone else of being mean to you for liking good quizbowl. That is why this board has these conflicts--the way they are avoided elsewhere, as I have pointed out, is by dissenting opinions simply being suppressed. There is no place at the table at the WJZ board meeting for people to suggest that It's Academic stop using the worst questions in the world, there is no voice of reason at the Facebook group, there is no "hey, maybe lecturing your students on the sexual behavior of people who didn't like you destroying a quizbowl team is not a wise, professional thing to do" voice at the GATA forum. People who express these opinions are removed, their words deleted. Thus, there is an appearance of no conflict and perfect "civility," at the cost of those organizations being less than admirable advocates for quizbowl and human decency.

We have chosen a more classical liberal approach to the free exchange of ideas here--a public forum at which nearly anything goes, sometimes at the cost of the veneer of perfect harmony. Bad ideas are going to be called bad. People are going to fail to fall for bizarre rhetorical gambits like "John Gilbert, concerned advocate for invitationals in the Maryland area." This is a legitimate model of a public forum, and it's just not going to be the one in your head where everyone has to believe you and talk about how cool the 1985 It's Academic final was. You're going to have to learn to deal with this at some point.
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Re: Split thread: "Venting and vituperation" and sexism

Post by Connie Prater » Mon Oct 07, 2013 10:05 pm

Hi. I'm Connie, and I've provided the Chicago team with quite a lot of my time and energy in order to make sure that we can go to all of the tournaments every year, so I'll choose to ignore any claim that I do not care about quizbowl just because I don't frequent the board. Feel free to make those claims if you'd like. I'm also not going to make any claims about being a woman in quizbowl because that kind of discussion, for whatever reason, always goes down the same road of terrible. What I will say is that I have my own reasons for not posting/even looking at the board other than tournament announcements. I'm coming forward as someone who honestly does not feel welcome on the board, and it has nothing to do with the fact that I'm female.

a) I don't feel that the board has been constructive in promoting the game over other formats.
Don't get me wrong. I'm on the side of good quizbowl, but it's not constructive to call people out viciously. Education should come before actively chastising people who might not understand why some practices are worse than others. I don't think the board does a good job of that, and I can imagine why people might want to avoid it for that reason. Instead of well-reasoned explanations that help promote good quizbowl and help the game grow, people see actual character attacks. I avoided the boards for a long time because of that.

b) It might just be that the board is dominated by a handful of people (which I guess in itself is not a huge problem), but it just doesn't feel very open.
The in-jokes and such are fun, but they exclude people from feeling like they can be a part of the community that the board is supposed to promote. It feels like a clique sometimes. I don't know how fixable this is.

Again, this has nothing to do with me being female. As far as I know, people in general also don't like when people are terrible.

Another clarification, as someone on the Chicago team... we have not ever been told not to go on the board. I've told other people why I don't like it, and told them about some of the things I've seen. It's kind of a shame that I have to explain to new players that if they go on the boards, they should remember that not all quizbowlers are like the ones who yell at each other on the Internet and that those people are easy enough to avoid.
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Re: Split thread: "Venting and vituperation" and sexism

Post by The King's Flight to the Scots » Mon Oct 07, 2013 10:14 pm

La Maga wrote:Hi. I'm Connie, and I've provided the Chicago team with quite a lot of my time and energy in order to make sure that we can go to all of the tournaments every year, so I'll choose to ignore any claim that I do not care about quizbowl just because I don't frequent the board. Feel free to make those claims if you'd like. I'm also not going to make any claims about being a woman in quizbowl because that kind of discussion, for whatever reason, always goes down the same road of terrible. What I will say is that I have my own reasons for not posting/even looking at the board other than tournament announcements. I'm coming forward as someone who honestly does not feel welcome on the board, and it has nothing to do with the fact that I'm female.
For what it's worth, Connie, a lot of us know you from outside the board and I don't think anyone has accused you of "not car[ing] about quizbowl."
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