How We Treat Each Other: 2019

A place to discuss topics affecting quizbowlers as a community rather than quizbowl as a game.
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How We Treat Each Other: 2019

Post by Cheynem » Fri Mar 15, 2019 12:25 am

In 2015, Matt Jackson (for you young people, yes, the Jeopardy star) made a series of comprehensive posts about various quizbowl topics, including a very long post about "how we treat each other." viewtopic.php?f=6&t=17571&hilit for the whole thread.

I'm only going to focus on a series of questions that at one point Matt answers. There were various responses to it, but those were almost four years ago, and I want to know what people think about those questions now.
How many prospective members of the "peripheral" community actually finds the quizbowl community to be insufferable enough that they don't want to be part of the game at all? Is there anything we should do or is the problem entirely with them? From that point onward, how many people would like to become more central to the game but feel dissuaded from doing so? And of that group, how many were merely disinterested versus directly put off by the way quizbowlers interact?
A lot of things have changed since 2015. Just in the last few years, the quizbowl IRC died out, Discord emerged, and in many ways the forums have been supplanted as premiere quizbowl discussion by Discord/Facebook. Quizbowl was forced to confront issues of misconduct last year. Some pretty intense and at times ugly conversations appeared, not all of which were all about haircuts. New players have emerged, as others have left. Matt's questions remain extremely pertinent.

I don't know if I have a good answer to any of them, seeing as I'm not really part of the target audience. I see ways in which quizbowl has become more open or is making more of an effort to listen to new voices and correct old problems. I also see ways in which quizbowl continues to be "insufferable" or "insider-y." (Most of my experiences come from the online quizbowl world, as I don't attend too many tournaments in person.) Rather than me pontificate to start, I think I'll just open the floor to conversation. i'll just say this: the quizbowl community, a community that I am a part of extensively for my full-time job, has brought me wonderful friendships and great times, as well as great frustrations and sorrow. I don't think this is inherently different than other communities (although I am not sure). Every time I have a discussion about quizbowl or attend a tournament, I have many wonderful experiences with people I love, but I also frequently feel frustrated and depressed afterwards as well. I do not know if my experience is unique or not, if it is necessarily a problem or not.

Anyway we've had four years to chew on these questions. What's changed, for the better or for the worse?
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Re: How We Treat Each Other: 2019

Post by connor.mayers » Fri Mar 15, 2019 10:40 am

As someone who's in the unique situation of being highly involved in the community, but also runs a club that has recently become active and has many members that have absolutely no idea that their is a wider quiz bowl community, I think my input here can be of some relevance.

Becoming involved with the wider quiz bowl community has 100 percent been the main factor that has spurred my growth as a player and has given me what I feel has already turned into a lifelong commitment to the activity. For myself, the quiz bowl community seemed extremely welcoming. It was a ton of smart people that enjoyed the same activity I did and treated it with the same reverence that I was beginning to develop. Some of my closest friends are the people that I first interacted with when I began playing quiz bowl, and if weren't for those super accepting people I certainly wouldn't be writing this post now and I might not be involved with quiz bowl at all.

I had heard horror stories of the toxicity that exited in higher level quiz bowl, but never experienced it in my quiz bowl infancy, as the local community I was a part of was a very safe place. As someone who is now accustom to the way online quiz bowl discourse goes on, I very much see how exposing new players to that would turn them away from a game. I don't bat an eye at the snarky humor and sometimes provocative remarks quiz bowlers tend to use when discoursing nowadays, but a newer player almost certainly would take that as a sign that this community isn't one with a positive environment.

I think our best approach is to ease players into the discourse. Provide them with well moderated, localized, and positive spaces that will encourage them to stay involved with quiz bowl. New players don't need to be thrust into spaces populated by older, intimidating, and domineering players who are so accustomed to their brand of quiz bowl discourse. This has worked great with newer players from my club. Give them areas to explore without overwhelming them, and try plant that inkling of the "bug" inside them. If they catch it, they'll have no problem integrating into the wider quiz bowl community.

As I feel this post is rambling a bit and deviating from the exact question the the post, I'll say this. Do we treat each other well? I think in the end, we do. Yes, petty feuds and disagreements exist, but I think overall quiz bowlers have enough common understanding to peacefully coexist at the end of the day. Yes, from the outside, it can look messy and hectic, but this is how our discourse works, and I doubt there is too much we can do to change that. I think we as a community should think a bit more about the way we talk, since it certainly can create conflict, but if anything, I think we are moving in a good direction.

I feel bad that this is essentially an asterisk in this post, but as a community we do need to do a hell of a better job elevating voices that don;t get heard as much. I'm super impressed by the work women in the community have done to elevate the voices of female players, and I can't help but think that could be done to elevate the voices of newer players, or literally any other intersection that isn't heard as well as the prototypical quiz bowl player.
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Re: How We Treat Each Other: 2019

Post by Fuddle Duddle » Fri Mar 15, 2019 3:45 pm

I'll have more thoughts later on, but for now, here are a few extremely scattershot observations that hopefully other people can build on:

I honestly couldn't imagine something like that Tricon Kirk Jing question happening today. References to QB "notables" in questions for academic tournaments is something I'm very glad seems to be disappearing; the response from the majority of players will be "who's that? Why is this supposed to be funny?"

Beyond that, though, I feel like the tone of discourse on the forums, with a few exceptions, has gotten much better, especially compared to even earlier (reading threads from 2011, for example, remains a shocking experience for those of us who joined the community later). This is partially because both the planning aspects and the vituperative ranting aspects of Quizbowl discourse have, to a large extent, migrated away from this forum and into other public and (especially) non-public fora (Facebook, Discord, groupchats) (witness the laxitude pointed out in an earlier thread about posting forum announcements for tournaments; this is partially an effect of more tournament planning happening in DMs or emails among interested parties).

Another thing I have observed, and that Connor was quite right to point out, is that real dichotomies often exist both between and within clubs dividing "online" people with various degrees of plugged-in-ness to QB discourse and non-"online" people. An effect of these dichotomies, and of the migration away from the forums that I earlier mentioned, is that information regarding community developments and even tournaments themselves is less accessible to newer or less well-connected clubs. Certain aspects of Quizbowl discourse, as Connor is again right to note, should likely stay cloistered away from these boards, but on the whole this effect is negative.

A trap that people, especially people regarded as "authority figures" on QB facebook groups (frequently myself included) fall into is engaging with everyone as if no power dynamics within the community existed. I'm trying to do a better job of this myself, but if you are one of those figures, bear in mind that these dynamics exist, they place you above most other players, and that you should act accordingly (less punitively, more sympathetically, especially since people with less authority than you will also likely be younger than you, as pointed out in David Reinstein's excellent post elsewhere in this forum). I would even go so far as to say that such people should consciously and consistently advocate for people outside the "cabal" (as long as you keep it non-creepy; see, again, Reinstein's post).

The issue of the Quizbowl community creating pariahs seems to me to be at least as prevalent now as it was when Matt Jackson posted. The conflation of spaces for quizbowl discourse and decision making, which should be as open as possible, with certain friend groups, which people in those friend groups certainly have no obligation to open to anyone they don't want to, both contributes to and worsens this issue. When people complain about "insularity", it is frequently this conflation that they are complaining about. If you're a major figure in the QB community, you are likely an adult, so working with people you dislike and including them in community-related decision-making processes is a thing you should get comfortable with.

All that being said, I think as younger generations of community leaders gradually replace their elders, who assumed leadership roles in a time when the problems with discourse Matt references were significantly more normal, things will improve, as they have been already. I am consistently amazed by the solicitousness, degree of consciousness about inclusivity, and excellent contributions to the discourse surrounding the subject of how to treat each other of my juniors in the community. Despite the problems and worrying trends I have identified, I think there is, on the whole, cause for optimism.
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Re: How We Treat Each Other: 2019

Post by theMoMA » Fri Mar 15, 2019 6:17 pm

Jakob wrote:Another thing I have observed, and that Connor was quite right to point out, is that real dichotomies often exist both between and within clubs dividing "online" people with various degrees of plugged-in-ness to QB discourse and non-"online" people. An effect of these dichotomies, and of the migration away from the forums that I earlier mentioned, is that information regarding community developments and even tournaments themselves is less accessible to newer or less well-connected clubs. Certain aspects of Quizbowl discourse, as Connor is again right to note, should likely stay cloistered away from these boards, but on the whole this effect is negative.
This is a good observation. I'll add that, in the context of tournament discussions, people choosing to vent in private has the unfortunate effect of removing discussion from the public sphere so that the editors of the tournament, or other editors and writers who are interested in people's feedback as a way to inform their own work, do not get to see and reflect on it.

Flowing from Jakob's broader point, there are certain kinds of discussion (i.e. when you know you're mad but don't have a good critique that hones in on why) that are best left to private conversation because they don't have much to add to a public one. But I wonder if people are choosing not to post some of their interesting and well-thought-out criticisms, possibly because the message board may be a hopelessly outdated form to someone who was not on the internet during the Bush era, and if so, that would be unfortunate.

I find that having my questions generate discussion, whether it's praise, interesting observations, or criticism, is one of the real joys of doing quizbowl work, and I don't mean that at all ironically. It's sad to me that players seem to find less and less motivation to make their feelings about the questions known.
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Re: How We Treat Each Other: 2019

Post by Sam » Fri Mar 15, 2019 7:32 pm

theMoMA wrote:
Fri Mar 15, 2019 6:17 pm

This is a good observation. I'll add that, in the context of tournament discussions, people choosing to vent in private has the unfortunate effect of removing discussion from the public sphere so that the editors of the tournament, or other editors and writers who are interested in people's feedback as a way to inform their own work, do not get to see and reflect on it.

Flowing from Jakob's broader point, there are certain kinds of discussion (i.e. when you know you're mad but don't have a good critique that hones in on why) that are best left to private conversation because they don't have much to add to a public one. But I wonder if people are choosing not to post some of their interesting and well-thought-out criticisms, possibly because the message board may be a hopelessly outdated form to someone who was not on the internet during the Bush era, and if so, that would be unfortunate.

I find that having my questions generate discussion, whether it's praise, interesting observations, or criticism, is one of the real joys of doing quizbowl work, and I don't mean that at all ironically. It's sad to me that players seem to find less and less motivation to make their feelings about the questions known.
I agree with Andrew's point about re-centering discussion back to the forums. Even for tournaments I haven't played or written for, it's just nice to have a quasi-official repository for players' impressions. I think it's also easier for editors and writers to see and respond to commentary, which can be valuable for both the writer and the player commenting. I don't know if such a move would bring back some of the vitriol of the past. I hope not.


I also want to use this post to praise what may be the single greatest factor in improving tournament discussion: the "Specific Questions" thread. This is such a good idea. It's possible this has existed for a long time, though I feel I only remember it coming into existence near the end or after my time at Chicago, and whoever came up with it deserves the appreciation of the community. The brilliance of the thread is recognizing that even very good tournaments will have a few clunkers, and even very good players will have a few negs that stick out disproportionately in their mind. In theory one could always just list these questions in a general discussion thread, and people sometimes would, but it's not exactly a "discussion" and so you would often get people erecting grand narratives of the tournament based mostly around a passing mood. "Specific Questions" legitimizes this venting, to some extent, while still requiring a modicum of civility and separating it from the hopefully more thought-out general discussion. It also makes it easier for editors to find legitimate but easily fixable errors, if the set is running over multiple weekends. It's possible I am mistaking causation with correlation, and these subforums coincidentally started appearing around the same time some of the more impassioned players faded away, or people moved their vitriol to Facebook (see above), or some other event I don't know about, but I really do think the idea itself deserves a lot of credit.

Finally, even though this post was entirely about quiz bowl online, and many of the posts in this thread are about quiz bowl online, and in Mike's original post he admits that he (nowadays) mostly experiences quiz bowl online, it's worth remembering most experiences with quiz bowl occur in the real world. In the original thread four years ago, some people were pondering how Matt Weiner accomplished as much as he did, given his prickly forum persona. I have to imagine a major reason is your average VHSL player, or even faculty sponsor, doesn't know about that and if they did know, doesn't really care. That's not to say we should be indifferent to how people behave online, but we should remember that we, the people who have selected to participate in an Internet quiz bowl forum, may not be representative of the larger population in how we interact with the community.
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Re: How We Treat Each Other: 2019

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Tue Mar 19, 2019 2:17 am

Do people feel fulfilled by the internet "friendships" of quizbowl? I had a long period of time where I was having trouble in my own personal life, and spent vast amounts of time logged into the IRC and reading every single post made on the forum, and eventually it became clear that most of my internet-based quizbowl presence was a hollow imitation of real socialization. It took me way too long to disconnect from both of those outlets and focus instead on the very real friends around me every day. I've been incredibly lucky to have real friends emerge out of quizbowl who I like spending time with, but the number of those people I call friends is far smaller than the number I'd have said in 2011, and the reason why is not because I lost touch with the community but because I realized that "fellow quizbowlers" are not automatically friends. It gives me extreme pause to introduce quizbowl people to my normal friends/significant others, because there's nothing embarrassing quite like indecisive quizbowl dining logistics, or watching quizbowlers struggle mightily to talk about anything other than quizbowl/academics. As someone with depression, who works very hard to minimize the influence that other peoples' depression has on me, I can't ignore the fact that some of the most unhealthy, depressing people I know are quizbowlers who I spent huge hunks of time getting to know online. Part of overcoming depression involved me realizing that, actually, I am a super interesting person and quizbowl is but one of many facets of myself to spin as a positive, but sometimes it's really hard to find other quizbowlers who comport themselves similarly, and know how to have fun with each other without having quizbowl be a crutch. I can't help but think this community would get along better if more people worked on fulfilling themselves elsewhere, but maybe that's what happens when you play a game dominated by college undergrads.
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Re: How We Treat Each Other: 2019

Post by Cheynem » Tue Mar 19, 2019 10:15 am

I think Charlie makes some good points--getting too wrapped up in the Internetiana of quizbowl where you're living and dying on every Discord, Facebook, or HSQB post is bad. Having friends in person and online is essential. Making quizbowl your life is probably a recipe for disaster.

I do think his dismissal of the social community of quizbowl is perhaps a YMMV. Both online and in person, quizbowl gave me great friendships that I maintained through grad school and in some form, I maintain today. Yes, I'm not as close to a lot of former quizbowl friends just because we drifted away, but that's true of every period of my life. I still like seeing many of them at national and open tournaments, and I talk to both them and new people I've met online. Sometimes the latter gets particularly depressing or frustrating and I take a break.

I also think the zinger about quizbowl people might be overblown, but maybe that's just me. A lot of my non-quizbowl friends have the same quirks Charlie applies to quizbowlers (entirely focused on a couple things, etc.). Also, when you get out of the game more, I find that when I see quizbowlers, I mostly talk about things like sports or movies or leftism, and less about actual quizbowl (obviously at a tournament, you'll probably talk about the tournament a lot).
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Re: How We Treat Each Other: 2019

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Tue Mar 19, 2019 11:56 am

OK, but do you socialize with these people outside of quizbowl? Do you ever try to introduce your quizbowl friends to non-quizbowl friends? I don't think I'm wrong to say it's extremely rare for quizbowl people to drop each other a line when they're in town and get a group together to go to a museum or concert. Is it a healthy thing to have this huge part of life revolve around the internet and not establish a way to be friends outside of the context of showing up to staff a series of national championships? The quizbowl people who I know are my friends are people who I have spent time with outside of quizbowl, and who I feel comfortable introducing to the rest of my friend circle, and as part of the process of figuring out that friends should spend time with me in many different ways, I would occasionally misfire hard and mixing these spheres would be incredibly offputting to people like my ex. So again, are these friendships fulfilling you? Does quizbowl foster the right kind of friendship? Why is it like pulling teeth for me to show up to ICT and convince people to leave the tournament at the end of the day and go eat a good dinner and then go out to enjoy a little nightlife in one of the largest cities in America? Isn't that what friends do?
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Re: How We Treat Each Other: 2019

Post by vinteuil » Tue Mar 19, 2019 12:07 pm

Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) wrote:
Tue Mar 19, 2019 11:56 am
OK, but do you socialize with these people outside of quizbowl? Do you ever try to introduce your quizbowl friends to non-quizbowl friends? I don't think I'm wrong to say it's extremely rare for quizbowl people to drop each other a line when they're in town and get a group together to go to a museum or concert.
Yes, yes, and false. I like a lot of your points in the first post, but speak for yourself.
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Re: How We Treat Each Other: 2019

Post by Cheynem » Tue Mar 19, 2019 12:10 pm

Quizbowl, like any activity, has a series of friendships that range from the superficial to the deep. You're correct that there's people who my friendship with is basically "see at national tournaments and opens," and yes, that's superficial, but really no different than seeing perhaps some family members once a year or colleagues once a year at a conference. It's just part of life.

But, yes, there are friends I made from quizbowl that are very deep and warm. I remember at the height of my depression in 2016 coming into Minneapolis for a few weekends--watching a Twins game with Andrew and Carsten (okay, perhaps this was pretty insane); eating lunch at Afro Deli with Shan and Sam; watching WrestleMania with Erik. These were quizbowl friendships, but we weren't doing quizbowl things. In regards to your question about going out to eat at iCT, yes, last year, after ICT was finished (or perhaps while it was still happening), I went to dinner with Joe Nutter and talked a lot about sports and politics. I've made very fulfilling friendships from quizbowl that are certainly real friendships, and I don't think I'm alone in this (I hope not).

I also do want to say, though, that as long as it doesn't totally dominate your life or who you are as a person, I don't really see anything wrong with quizbowl being the central point of discussion among quizbowl friends (let me be clear--I'm not saying 100% all the time and I'm not saying exclude others in your conversation). This is an activity that we greatly enjoy and that we love--in the same way, that if you got together with friends who really liked the opera or football or Scrabble, it would be normal to talk about it a lot. I don't want to confuse or chastise that with unhealthy relationships.
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Re: How We Treat Each Other: 2019

Post by ryanrosenberg » Tue Mar 19, 2019 12:16 pm

Yeah, I hang out with quizbowlers doing non-quizbowl things fairly regularly.
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Re: How We Treat Each Other: 2019

Post by 1.82 » Tue Mar 19, 2019 12:17 pm

As Charlie has so elegantly pointed out, not all of us are cool enough to live in New York and we live less fulfilling lives as a result. Maybe because I live in the provinces, personally I've found quizbowl very rewarding from a social standpoint; there's no aspect of my life that's worse off as a result of my being involved in quizbowl, and many that are meaningfully better.

To engage with Matt's post, though, I think that one of the most special qualities of quizbowl as an activity is how shallow its bureaucracy is. There aren't layers of access; a competitor at ACF Nationals or even NSC can get in touch with the editors or tournament directors and share their thoughts and have those thoughts heard. I'm not intimately familiar with every interscholastic activity, but I don't think that happens in the same way in forensics or football or any number of other activities with ossified organizational structures. It's important that quizbowl present itself as professional, because quizbowl is something worth caring about, but it's also important to preserve the community ethos of quizbowl and the openness that springs from that, because those certainly aren't mutually exclusive with professionalism.
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Re: How We Treat Each Other: 2019

Post by heterodyne » Tue Mar 19, 2019 12:25 pm

Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) wrote:
Tue Mar 19, 2019 11:56 am
Why is it like pulling teeth for me to show up to ICT and convince people to leave the tournament at the end of the day and go eat a good dinner and then go out to enjoy a little nightlife in one of the largest cities in America? Isn't that what friends do?
I enjoy the Chicago dining and nightlife scenes about as much as anyone of my financial means is able to, and even I have no interest in doing anything that requires much energy after playing all of ICT. I'm all for doing those things with your friends - in fact, I've had a number of enjoyable dining experiences with friends who I met through quizbowl - but it just sounds like you picked a pretty bad time.
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Re: How We Treat Each Other: 2019

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Tue Mar 19, 2019 12:40 pm

heterodyne wrote:
Tue Mar 19, 2019 12:25 pm
Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) wrote:
Tue Mar 19, 2019 11:56 am
Why is it like pulling teeth for me to show up to ICT and convince people to leave the tournament at the end of the day and go eat a good dinner and then go out to enjoy a little nightlife in one of the largest cities in America? Isn't that what friends do?
I enjoy the Chicago dining and nightlife scenes about as much as anyone of my financial means is able to, and even I have no interest in doing anything that requires much energy after playing all of ICT. I'm all for doing those things with your friends - in fact, I've had a number of enjoyable dining experiences with friends who I met through quizbowl - but it just sounds like you picked a pretty bad time.
OK, but if someone has a friend group who you see only in an extremely limited window of time, one would think that friend group would make a point of socializing after the event that has attracted them. I've said this before, but I think it's bizarre, to say the least, that quizbowl regularly converges in a hotel in Rosemont, which is a simple Blue Line ride away from a string of popular Chicago neighborhoods, yet so rarely leaves Rosemont [or Hyde Park, or downtown Atlanta, shouts out to your province Naveed]. I'm not bothered by a Chicagoan not feeling the need to get out, but after having participated in this cycle for over a decade, I think I'm well within my rights to ask why it is that quizbowlers consistently are presented with a chance to be slightly adventurous out in the world with their peers and for the most part never seize it?
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Re: How We Treat Each Other: 2019

Post by Aaron's Rod » Tue Mar 19, 2019 12:42 pm

I'm frustrated that the subject of conversation has gone so far afield from the original post, which is excellent. However, since we're here, I agree with Charlie on many points.
Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) wrote:
Tue Mar 19, 2019 2:17 am
It gives me extreme pause to introduce quizbowl people to my normal friends/significant others, because there's nothing embarrassing quite like indecisive quizbowl dining logistics, or watching quizbowlers struggle mightily to talk about anything other than quizbowl/academics. As someone with depression, who works very hard to minimize the influence that other peoples' depression has on me, I can't ignore the fact that some of the most unhealthy, depressing people I know are quizbowlers who I spent huge hunks of time getting to know online.
I have in general found quizbowler's conversational skills to be really lacking: Trying to one-up each other with facts, obsessing over minutiae of personal accomplishments/others' failures, completely failing to talk about their personal lives, completely failing to ask about others' personal lives, not explaining their extended in-jokes, not explaining references to stuff that happened before my time in quizbowl. (But why people get alienated from quizbowl is a mystery, right?) I don't mind talking about the tournament the day of, but after the third hour of it it gets kind of old, and certainly I don't need a play-by-play of some game from five years ago.

Obviously the kind of company that I keep is my fault, but this is a pattern among many, many people I know who are really into quizbowl, and who I can't avoid if I also want to be really into quizbowl.
Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) wrote:
Tue Mar 19, 2019 11:56 am
Why is it like pulling teeth for me to show up to ICT and convince people to leave the tournament at the end of the day and go eat a good dinner and then go out to enjoy a little nightlife in one of the largest cities in America? Isn't that what friends do?
Amusingly, this reminds me of another thread where Charlie said nearly the exact same thing:
Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) wrote:
Mon Feb 06, 2017 4:28 pm
Take, for example, the ritual of people going to Chicago to play or staff ICT, or HSNCT, or CO. What do these people do in the third largest city in the USA, with a robust public transit system that could get them to any number of concerts, museums, clubs, fantastic restaurants, etc? They sit in Rosemont the whole goddamn time, or settle for eating at Medici once again, and sometimes try and pack their trip to the brim with side tournaments of dubious provenance.
One thing I will say is that I like to do quizbowl things with my quizbowl friends. When I see quizbowlers, I don't mind sitting around reading packets, because none of my other friends like to sit around reading packets. For people that I see more often, I do like to do non-quizbowl things. But when the only time I see you is at ICT and CO, we're probably just going to sit around and do quizbowl things.

Maybe as a Chicagoan the onus should be on me to get people on the Blue Line more, because they don't realize what they're missing. But having a glass of wine and reading a packet in your hotel room is cheaper than going out (not a trivial factor for many people in their ~20s), and sometimes when a tournament ends you don't feel up to exploring. As someone who intends to go to every NCT again, if my friends are interested in seeing more of Chicago I'd be happy to guide them, but I can understand that camping in one place is often a more practical option. As Charlie mentioned, corralling people after a tournament is a maddening task, but if you just invite a few people you risk coming off as exclusionary. It's tricky.
ryanrosenberg wrote:
Tue Mar 19, 2019 12:16 pm
Yeah, I hang out with quizbowlers doing non-quizbowl things fairly regularly.
Does bar trivia really count, my dude? (/s, mostly)

EDIT:
Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) wrote:
Tue Mar 19, 2019 12:40 pm
I've said this before, but I think it's bizarre, to say the least, that quizbowl regularly converges in a hotel in Rosemont, which is a simple Blue Line ride away from a string of popular Chicago neighborhoods, yet so rarely leaves Rosemont
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Re: How We Treat Each Other: 2019

Post by heterodyne » Tue Mar 19, 2019 12:57 pm

Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) wrote:
Tue Mar 19, 2019 12:40 pm
OK, but if someone has a friend group who you see only in an extremely limited window of time, one would think that friend group would make a point of socializing after the event that has attracted them. I've said this before, but I think it's bizarre, to say the least, that quizbowl regularly converges in a hotel in Rosemont, which is a simple Blue Line ride away from a string of popular Chicago neighborhoods, yet so rarely leaves Rosemont [or Hyde Park, or downtown Atlanta, shouts out to your province Naveed]. I'm not bothered by a Chicagoan not feeling the need to get out, but after having participated in this cycle for over a decade, I think I'm well within my rights to ask why it is that quizbowlers consistently are presented with a chance to be slightly adventurous out in the world with their peers and for the most part never seize it?
That's a good point (and it is frustrating when quizbowlers don't want to go to any of the very good restaurants along the Blue line at Rosemont tournaments.) I do think my original point stands, though, namely that the lack of a desire to go out after ICT or CO does not preclude a desire to do that with quizbowl people when less fatigued.
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Re: How We Treat Each Other: 2019

Post by Steeve Ho You Fat » Wed Mar 20, 2019 10:45 pm

I think a large part of quizbowl culture is people so into quizbowl that it's a struggle to talk about things other than quizbowl. I can think of a number of people who I consider friends who I've tried to talk about literally anything else (sports, food, music, probably not politics) and it's been more brutal than pulling blood from a stone. Perhaps part of the issue is that we all feel like we should be friends (which is great!) but since the only apparent thing we have in common is quizbowl, it's easy to just talk about quizbowl rather than figuring out what things you do want to talk to someone about.

Many of you will remember me mostly unsuccessfully trying to get people out of the hotel (I think one time I managed to get a large group to try to come to Revolution Brewery, it ended up being less logistically successful than I had hoped but hopefully folks still had a good time), and the fact that most socializing consists of sitting in a hotel room talking about quizbowl is part of why I'm staffing fewer nationals this year and may cut back even further. Most of my favorite memories are of getting out of the hotel - Mike, I enjoyed having dinner last year, let's do it again, and anyone else who wants to take the Blue Line (or even just walk to that new brewery a couple blocks away), let me know.
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Re: How We Treat Each Other: 2019

Post by caroline » Wed Apr 03, 2019 12:12 pm

(Sorry I'm late!)

I semi-consider myself one of the members of the "'peripheral' community [who] actually finds the quizbowl community to be insufferable enough that they don't want to be part of the game at all." "Insufferable" might be a strong word for me, although only just barely, and while I still am somewhat involved in the game as a frequent moderator at tournaments in my region, I quit playing when I entered college last fall.

It's difficult for me to dissect the various reasons why I dislike the quizbowl community so much it was one of the more heavily weighted aspects of why I chose to end my playing career, in part because much of it is really personal. I guess to start with one of the more "relevant" ones: I'm a woman, and I do not consider quizbowl a good place for women to be, especially considering some of the intense and ugly conversations that were alluded to earlier in this thread. I've largely dealt with casual microaggressions rather than some of the rather heavy topics in those conversations, but those microaggressions combined with the simple isolation of being one of the few women present in a room full of quizbowlers is enough to make me really, really dislike being a woman in quizbowl. Even if I never faced any misogyny at all (which I do, unfortunately), there's always the feelings of loneliness. I can give examples of said misogyny, of course, but plenty of women in quizbowl have touched on Bad Sexist Things they face already.

Insularity is another problem. I played quizbowl at an international high school in Asia (a circuit that developed mostly independently of American circuits), which already made it difficult to be part of the community—that's pretty much unavoidable, since I'd only see American quizbowlers at HSNCT once a year, and most Asian quizbowlers don't even get to leave Asia. This is not meant to complain about some anti-Asian circuit exclusionism; it's just something worth noting. It was, however, jarring to me when I first started becoming more involved with the (non-Asian, online) quizbowl community because I found American quizbowlers have very, very strong opinions about quizbowl and take it incredibly seriously compared to Asian players, who are far more relaxed (like, "how do I look up my stats? What is naqt.com?" kind of relaxed, although as the circuit expands, people have started to take quizbowl more seriously). While this is hardly limited to only Asian circuit players, it was really hard for me to adjust and try to make friends, since I didn't have the slightest idea who anyone was, why all these inside jokes are funny, etc. I felt like I needed to quickly acquire that knowledge in order to connect with others, and I probably wouldn't bother to learn said knowledge if I didn't feel like I needed it to be included.
Aaron's Rod wrote:
Tue Mar 19, 2019 12:42 pm
I have in general found quizbowler's conversational skills to be really lacking: Trying to one-up each other with facts, obsessing over minutiae of personal accomplishments/others' failures, completely failing to talk about their personal lives, completely failing to ask about others' personal lives, not explaining their extended in-jokes, not explaining references to stuff that happened before my time in quizbowl. (But why people get alienated from quizbowl is a mystery, right?) I don't mind talking about the tournament the day of, but after the third hour of it it gets kind of old, and certainly I don't need a play-by-play of some game from five years ago.
This summarizes pretty much all my feelings since I've moved to America for college and have actually gotten to meet non-Asian quizbowlers frequently in person. While I've enjoyed my increased exposure to being with quizbowl friends who were once over 10,000 kilometers away (the friends I tend to go out of my way to interact with don't have tons of involvement themselves, and it makes it easier to talk about not quizbowl things), many people I've met are like this and it makes me want to really not be around quizbowlers very much.

I do still enjoy quizbowl enough that I moderate to have some level of involvement with it, but I find playing far too stressful, partly due to my own mental health issues and partly because I'm always worried about the judgment of the community as a whole, not being taken seriously because I'm not good enough, etc. As a moderator, most people don't really care about how good I am as a player or what standing I have in the larger community or even what my name is, and I like it that way. (And no, my school does not have a club. I go to practices at a college with a club nearby, where I prefer to stick to reading to the players there. I do not intend to start a club at my college, now or ever.)

I don't have a conclusion for this or some "do better" spiel, but I hope it provides some insight into why a person would want to stop their involvement in quizbowl.
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Re: How We Treat Each Other: 2019

Post by Connie Prater » Wed Apr 03, 2019 4:26 pm

caroline wrote:
Wed Apr 03, 2019 12:12 pm
As a moderator, most people don't really care about how good I am as a player or what standing I have in the larger community or even what my name is, and I like it that way.
I'm aware that this isn't the broader point of Caroline's post, which we should consider thoroughly as we work on making quizbowl more welcoming, but this in particular struck me -- moderators/other staffers should absolutely feel valued within the broader community, as they are obviously so, so necessary to the game; frequent moderators should probably be recognized better, if this is the case!
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Re: How We Treat Each Other: 2019

Post by caroline » Wed Apr 03, 2019 5:05 pm

Connie Prater wrote:
Wed Apr 03, 2019 4:26 pm
caroline wrote:
Wed Apr 03, 2019 12:12 pm
As a moderator, most people don't really care about how good I am as a player or what standing I have in the larger community or even what my name is, and I like it that way.
I'm aware that this isn't the broader point of Caroline's post, which we should consider thoroughly as we work on making quizbowl more welcoming, but this in particular struck me -- moderators/other staffers should absolutely feel valued within the broader community, as they are obviously so, so necessary to the game; frequent moderators should probably be recognized better, if this is the case!
I agree with this! I'm just not too fussed about it on a personal level because I enjoy not feeling like I'm under constant scrutiny the way I do as a player (so long as I actually do my job as a moderator). But yeah, people are pretty polite to me overall and a lot of the people I see frequently are usually decent about stuff like this, but then there are still plenty of people who have no idea who I am—and I've moderated 8-9 tournaments in the Northeast this year, so my appearances are quite frequent—and who don't care to notice.
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Re: How We Treat Each Other: 2019

Post by Fuddle Duddle » Wed Apr 03, 2019 5:42 pm

Part of this is on the staffer's end: introducing yourself to the teams you're reading for if they don't know you is a good habit to get into. However, I strongly agree that staffers need more recognition, especially when they're not from the school that's hosting. If you don't already, thank your moderator and/or talk to them if there's slack time between matches! A little bit of effort in that respect goes a long way.
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Re: How We Treat Each Other: 2019

Post by Durkheimdall » Wed Apr 03, 2019 8:30 pm

caroline wrote:
Wed Apr 03, 2019 12:12 pm
I don't have a conclusion for this or some "do better" spiel, but I hope it provides some insight into why a person would want to stop their involvement in quizbowl.
It definitely does. I saw your post because someone shared it on the Discord, so I'm not the only one that found it valuable. I wish phpBB had a feature that made it easier to show appreciation for a post. I'm sure there are others who appreciated it as well, but aren't posting to say thanks simply out of concern over "diluting" the thread.

In case there's someone else lurking, on the fence about whether to post or not, we'd certainly welcome your input as well. Matt already said this but I'll say it again, it's far, far, more valuable to hear from people who were exposed to quizbowl in some way and had a bad experience that discouraged their interest in the community. I think hearing from more of these people will help motivate wider recognition of the problem and ultimately spur people to improve things.

Aaron's Rod wrote:
Tue Mar 19, 2019 12:42 pm
Trying to one-up each other with facts, obsessing over minutiae of personal accomplishments/others' failures, completely failing to talk about their personal lives, completely failing to ask about others' personal lives, not explaining their extended in-jokes, not explaining references to stuff that happened before my time in quizbowl. (But why people get alienated from quizbowl is a mystery, right?) I don't mind talking about the tournament the day of, but after the third hour of it it gets kind of old, and certainly I don't need a play-by-play of some game from five years ago.
In general, I think this is accurate, and it's something we need to keep working on. We should also work on lionizing people more for their contributions to creating a healthy community than their performance as players.

Fuddle Duddle wrote:
Wed Apr 03, 2019 5:42 pm
Part of this is on the staffer's end: introducing yourself to the teams you're reading for if they don't know you is a good habit to get into.
I'd flip this around. I really enjoy reading/moderating and I've found that I feel a bit awkward introducing myself because it feels self-important. I'm not saying I *should* feel that way, but it creeps in. I think it's just as much on players to say "hi" to the moderator and ask for their name if they haven't met.

I'll also say that I've had a lot of fun reading packets on the Discord and people are super appreciative, which feels good.
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Re: How We Treat Each Other: 2019

Post by Amizda Calyx » Wed Apr 03, 2019 8:36 pm

Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) wrote:
Tue Mar 19, 2019 11:56 am
Why is it like pulling teeth for me to show up to ICT and convince people to leave the tournament at the end of the day and go eat a good dinner and then go out to enjoy a little nightlife in one of the largest cities in America? Isn't that what friends do?
A contributing factor to this is almost certainly that people have differing levels of extraversion and, especially after spending a full day playing a hard tournament, many of us are too socially exhausted to enjoy much more than reading old packets in someone's hotel room. I'm pretty introverted in person, which is partly why so much of my social life from late 2014 to 2016ish was based in the irc where performative emotional labor was minimal and I could more coherently express my thoughts. On the other hand, I really enjoy the quizbowl parties I'm invited to mostly because they include people I find genuinely fun to be around and the conversations tend toward topics that interest me, like quizbowl and academia. I much prefer this over experiencing any city nightlife, regardless of whether the friends group is qb or not (the last non-qb party I went to, we spent a large portion of the night collaborating on crossword puzzles someone had cast on the tv...).

I think one of the issues faced by this community is that internet and irl personas can be disparate, and when people carve out social groups solely from online interaction it can be disappointing to discover your in-person social stamina don't match.
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Re: How We Treat Each Other: 2019

Post by alexdz » Wed Apr 03, 2019 10:20 pm

Durkheimdall wrote:
Wed Apr 03, 2019 8:30 pm
We should also work on lionizing people more for their contributions to creating a healthy community than their performance as players.
The Missouri Quizbowl Alliance has established a Values Award to do exactly this job. We're honored to give this award each year to a player or players who have been kind, fair, supportive, and worked to build a spirit of camaraderie, regardless of their ability as players. This award sits alongside our award for Student Involvement, which awards contribution to the quizbowl side of the circuit (running events, writing sets, etc.). Taken together, recognitions like this are one way that the community can honor the emotional labor of building a healthy community. We consider presenting these awards to be a distinct privilege we have, and the decision is not made lightly. To be a bit cliche: As we see things, it is good to play well, but it is even better to be good.
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Re: How We Treat Each Other: 2019

Post by CaptainNoBeard » Wed Apr 03, 2019 11:45 pm

In reference to Charlie's points, I can say that has really not been my experience. It is worth noting that, while I am not a massive extrovert, I'm only moderately an introvert, and my personal approach towards socializing may not be normal. At both nationals I have been to (high school level; do with that what you will) I have spent almost as much time hanging out with quizbowl friends as I have playing. While some of the time we spent outside of formal quizbowl was devoted to talking about quizbowl or playing trash, the majority of it was entirely non-quizbowl in nature. Not to spend too much time talking about my personal social life, but we passed a lot of the time by talking, whether about meaningless fun or more serious topics. Some of this time was spent in hotel rooms, some of it out of hotel rooms.

In response to the idea that quizbowlers have no conversational skills, I can see a grain of truth in that, but I think most really do (have decent conversational skills, that is). I don't think the reason here is that quizbowlers tend to have poor social skills, but rather that, as an activity, quizbowl is appealing to the kinds of people who tend to have poor social skills. Introverts (myself included) tend to have a lot of time to do other things, including memorizing trivia (this is not to suggest that all introverts are bad at talking to people; that is far from my intent). Quizbowl is very attractive to someone who knows a lot of facts but not a lot of people. It takes time to learn how to interact with people you wouldn't normally meet, and quizbowl can actually be a great way to learn that skill. Circling back, though, I don't think a lack of social skills is emblematic of the community as a whole, but rather a smaller subset of people who tend to get attracted to the activity, though not necessarily the community. With individuals like this, it is helpful to try to welcome them into the community, but, if they wish to be left alone, to respect their wishes. Some people just don't want to talk, and that should be OK.
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Re: How We Treat Each Other: 2019

Post by bradleykirksey » Fri Apr 05, 2019 3:03 pm

Of course, your mileage may vary, but Charlie, I don't think that this thread is painting a really accurate picture of quiz bowl people. Every time I've been to ICT, I've spent time hanging out with Valencia, UF, Toronto, and a lot of other good people that I enjoy seeing. And when we go to places like the Chicago Art Institute, I almost always see another team. It's not, in my experience, like teams are a bunch of shut-ins,

It can be awkward to try to form friendships with strangers, but if you put in a little, I think you can get a lot. Sometimes QB kids can be a little awkward. Sometimes, I personally can be a huge mess, so that's not an indictment. But this idea that QB people post on the forums, share a few memes, and can't interact or socialize in person, I don't think that that's fair at all. For every rude or mean or socially inept QB person who I've met in real life, I've met three or four really wonderful people with cool interests and unique personalities.

I think you're right that "Internet relationships" with people who you never speak to are shallow, and a sort-of-approximation of real relationships. The Internet is a good way to supplement real relationships, not replace them, you know? But just because I'm talking to someone on the Internet doesn't mean I'm not their friend. I'm not in your circuit, I don't know the people you're talking about, who you interact with in person, but my experience has really been very different than yours. So, I assume that your circuit, distances between schools, etc, all probably makes a big difference, I'm sure. But yes, Charlies, I would, and often do, introduce other friends or SOs to quiz bowl friends.

Again, I understand that circuits and personalities of the people around you make a difference. And as a straight white cis guy, I understand that I'm pretty lucky, and it makes me sad to see stories like Charlie's or Caroline's, and I'm really sorry that that's been your experience.

To the bigger question in the thread as a whole... In 2011, I think that the forums were contentious and mean enough that some people would stay off of them, and turned off of the national community at large. There have been good discussions about that, and maybe some shakeup in leadership. I think that sometimes people can get passive-aggressive or mean on the Internet still, yeah. I can think of two friends I have on here who have voiced to me that they feel like they were bullied on the Internet (my term, not theirs). And it's really easy to attack an avatar instead of a person. But I believe that it's trending in the right direction, and the majority of online Interactions are probably friendlier than they were in 2006 or 2010. It may be easier to attribute a lot of the current negativity to individuals, rather than the personality of the QB Internet community as a whole. You don't see moderators run, hypothetically, "Most Notorious Annoying People" polls. You'll probably never stamp out individual keyboard warriors, but I don't believe it's systematic or institutional like it was, and I think that's a big step in the right direction.
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Re: How We Treat Each Other: 2019

Post by rylltraka » Sat Apr 06, 2019 1:20 am

Hello, I'm making my annual post on this forum, as if from the other bank of a swiftly moving river.

The problem that other people above have mentioned, that is, the twin problem of quizbowl obsessiveness in general, and that obsessiveness precluding normal conversation, is a perhaps-unsolvable chicken-and-egg problem inherent to the activity. Were a critical mass of people not obsessed with quizbowl, it would simply cease to exist, and the tournament-writing and online systems reward and honor people who are that obsessed. One side effect of this concentration of dedication is the increased quality of questions, since they are much less crowdsourced than before.

I don't think I have any input on how to address this problem, although it certainly exists. Part of why it exists is also that, as above, participants are teenagers or in their early 20s, broke, still becoming people (a problem which can persist well into middle age), and the esoteric nature of the sport isn't going to seduce casual players. Charisma has a place in the sport, but in my observations, it's in leadership keeping a team together.

I will echo the sentiment that the community as a whole has done an excellent job over the past decade self-policing in terms of tone, discourse, outreach, and criticism. Some of this was institutional, but most simply came from similar roots as the "obsession" idea (cf. point 1) - the few dozen people at the top felt they had seen enough of what can generally be called "toxic behavior" and worked and talked and engaged in high- and low-effort power struggles (J. Magin I remember being a pioneer in this fight - I, like many others, probably was on either side at various points) to reduce it. What positive change has been created is a reflection of our community, especially the most vocal among us; and it can erode just as easily if different voices come to power.
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