Regularizing Resources, Results, Recordings, and Reporters
Quizbowl’s [multi]media presence
We’ve already started discussing this topic here, so I presume I don’t need to lay out all the specifics again. Quizbowl could do a ton more to get accurate images of itself out there in the public eye. News articles and coverage is one component of this, but a simple expansion of the amount of quizbowl images, recordings, and the like will do just fine for the purposes of having more to show to parents, teachers, friends, administrators, etc. after the fact.
Baby steps have been made on the media front in the past three or four years; some teams and hosts are starting to get in touch with local newspapers to make sure that news about local tournament wins and championship contenders gets broken. Alan Siegel did a lot with his article two years ago. Perversely, the Andy Watkins cheating scandal brought a lot of media attention to the quizbowl community for a while (though, frankly, I don’t want that particular reason for media attention to ever, ever recur, and none of us should). More coordinated efforts to do press releases, make contact with student papers, local news networks, etc. can go a long way on this front.
Even if an HSNCT title run doesn’t make the news, it’s still just useful to have more content on hand to be able to point towards, both for potential reporters and for interested non-quizbowlers of various types (parents, significant others, etc.).
- In today’s era of web design, most of high-traffic sites have lots of pictures available, often embedded into the pages; many quizbowl websites are about 15 years behind the curve on that front. (Example: NAQT takes lots of pictures at their nationals; where do they go besides the one on the front page?) For the past three years, PACE has maintained a Flickr page in part so participating teams have something to show of themselves in game-mode, or receiving awards; I believe TQBA has had something similar for even longer. It'd be good to see more of that material get used.
- Part of the reason why there aren’t very many standalone articles about quizbowl, interestingly enough, is the very centralization of resources which I put forward as an ideal elsewhere -- on these forums. HSQuizbowl posts serve a similar purpose and get to a wider audience more quickly. For many people, it’s better to just make a long post and await replies from one’s peers than it is to blog or podcast something and hope for anonymous commentators to find it. Still, it’d be interesting to hear from more people in more essayistic/thesis-driven posts, or in quick-format dialogue as one might find in an audio setting. What’s more, a lot of these expostulations on quizbowl theory aren’t archived well. It’s a shame to see excellent points on how to do stuff from discontinued initiatives such as the 9 Minutes podcast go ignored, and therefore re-made every year or two to refresh institutional memory. Resources like the chronically under-occupied Best of the Best section of HSQuizbowl, and the Quizbowl 101 section of pace-nsc.org , could stand to store more of this information on a lasting basis (and I’ll be doing what I can to get the latter updated more during this academic year). A few of the Skype ‘roundtables’ which I did take part in or listen to (such as the January 2012 ‘debate’ over question writing principles between Ted Gioia and Matt Weiner) were never posted or redacted for public view; those folks who want to prepare audio discussions should be encouraged to save a recording, even if they need to use Audacity or another free sound editing software to take some stuff off-the-record before posting.
- Most of the (already-paltry) set of videos which exist of quizbowl matches on good questions are of high-difficulty college questions. The fact that our go-to example of quizbowl-in-action for newcomers is a video from ACF Nationals 2012 to 2014 (sometimes with a warning that ‘these questions are really high difficulty!’) is not good. As YouTube gets better at hosting videos and video recording technology gets cheaper/more intuitive, it’d be good to see more TDs and staffers take on the challenge of filming matches on low-difficulty questions for posterity, presuming the teams consent to their being posted. Many of these videos could do more to focus attention on both teams, etc. The iHigh video stream at HSNCT was a great example of what these videos might look like for the two years in which it existed; I do wonder why it doesn’t come back. (Of course, Mike Bentley’s heroics in recording audio for hundreds of quizbowl matches deserve another round of praise here.) It seems like a reasonable goal, if we really want to grow the amount of available audio and video recordings out there, to see to it that one match per round, at one site, of each high school and college set each year, gets preserved for posterity.
Keep resources up to date, phase out old resources as new ones become standard, and keep centralizing information
It’s important that the quizbowl world be brought fully up to date with the resources we have at our disposal. For example, some people still use the Stanford packet archive for some reason. And while many college teams’ old websites are an interesting treat of quizbowl history (the Berkeley lexicon being a particularly notable example), the era in which players reliably update a standalone website about their own teams seems to be fading in a lot of quarters. It does little for one’s team to leave a defunct or unused website up if social media or email lists are doing all the communication work. If you have a website, maintain it semesterly or move the key info to something like QBWiki, a Facebook group, etc. Similarly: Many statistics pages have gone dark over the past few years as school-provided or personal Web hosting services have transferred or shut down; it’s important that TDs archive all their old stats in the Quizbowl Resource Database or another central repository which is being actively maintained (such as the IHSBBCA page).
I’d like to see more resources, beyond quizbowl packets and tournament statistics, added to the stable of things we can give to (and expect of) tournament directors. For example, it would be good to maintain a set of printable templates for well-tested, good schedules given varying numbers of available packets and competing teams, which any coach or player can use with minimum hassle (i.e. NOT LaTeX -- no matter how much LaTeX users love LaTeX, that program is NOT general-audience-friendly and teams without someone on them who isn’t already familiar with it aren’t likely to learn it just to print their schedules). It might also be great to create a Coaches’ Database or a Staffer Database, which teams could use to mass-mail all the coaches or potential staffers (incl. retired players, college players, etc.) within a specified number of miles if their tournament is underattended or undermanned. I’d imagine the searching feature would have to be pretty limited to people who opt in, so as to avoid privacy concerns, but that’s no reason not to embark on such a project. In a similar vein, I'm excited by the initial forays into online scorekeeping via WUStL and Abacus, and I'm curious to see if a paperless platform for keeping digital score could one day outmode the need for scorekeepers at almost every tournament.
If more quizbowl teams are directed in toward the same sites and resources, it becomes easier for them to connect to other players across the country, make friends, and draw on our expertise to pull themselves up the ranks. In many salient ways, the success story of quizbowl from 2003 to the present has been the story of hsquizbowl.org, to which most of us (and anyone reading this post) are at least slightly indebted. What can we add to the existing stable of resources from 2013 to 2023?