Alternatives to the phrase "good quizbowl"

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Alternatives to the phrase "good quizbowl"

Postby jonah » Sun Jan 07, 2018 4:18 pm

I'm looking for alternatives to the phrase "good quizbowl" that convey as much as possible of the same idea, but abrogates the drawbacks. The principal drawback I see to the phrase "good quizbowl" is that it tends to irritate many people who do not prefer (or even necessarily know about) the style of quizbowl the speaker is advocating, because it suggests that the style of quizbowl they know or prefer is "bad". Regardless of how strongly one might feel about the preferability of "good quizbowl", presumably one would rather win someone over than insult them and turn them off.

Perhaps I should start by defining what I understand to be the defining characteristics of "good quizbowl":
  • Pyramidal tossups
  • Bonuses (if used) with graded difficulty structure. (In the three-part case, this would be an easy, a medium, and a hard part for each bonus, though in principle bonuses need not be tripartite, nor even need they be used at all.)
  • More generally, questions designed to reward teams/players with greater knowledge rather than only those with greater buzzer speed (though buzzer speed cannot be truly eliminated as a factor)
  • Audience-appropriate topic-selection and difficulty, both within questions and across all the questions used (with acknowledgment that perfect difficulty control isn't realistic)
  • Tournament formats designed to give teams many opportunities to display their knowledge, avoid perverse incentives, clearly and meaningfully identify a winner (and preferably other places), and preferably have some forgiveness for flukes
  • Rules and officials that respect players and all other participants, and maintain the focus on the principles of competition mentioned above
That might not be everything; it's basically off-the-cuff.

Anyway, getting back to the problem of the phrase "good quizbowl", the best alternative I have so far is "pyramidal quizbowl". But, as is obvious from the second through sixth points above, "good quizbowl" entails so much more. Perhaps we could say that the phrase "pyramidal quizbowl" is synecdoche for all of those points, but I think when trying to educate people on "good quizbowl", it is better not to use a phrase that (even if only naïvely) implies a limitation.

So, has anyone found a phrase that at least roughly conveys those ideas — or at least doesn't suggest it's only concerned with one of them — and also doesn't have a tendency to turn off listeners who aren't yet convinced of the benefits?
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Re: Alternatives to the phrase "good quizbowl"

Postby bmcke » Sun Jan 07, 2018 4:33 pm

I have sympathy for your dilemma -- I often hear people say "quizbowl" to refer to any kind of school quiz game. Sometimes I distinguish by saying "true quizbowl."
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Re: Alternatives to the phrase "good quizbowl"

Postby cchiego » Sun Jan 07, 2018 4:56 pm

I'd avoid "true quizbowl" or "national format quizbowl" or even "NAQT quizbowl," all of which I've seen used in derogatory fashion by people who think all these good quizbowl traits are the work of Meddlesome Outsider Troublemakers (tm).

If you're trying to reach more teams, just invite teams to tournaments that use good quizbowl principles without even needing to use a phrase. The basic internal logic of "good quizbowl" as experienced is usually more than enough to convince people of its merits.

I do think it's a good idea to have some google-able distinctions out there about good vs. bad quizbowl, and that's where it makes sense to explicitly call it "good" vs. "bad."

If you're trying to get potential hosts to adopt more good quizbowl principles though, that's a bit trickier. One of the more interesting things PACE did is introduce the concept of certification levels for tournaments. That might be harder for NAQT since there is a financial interest in having more hosts, even those who say, put all the best teams in the same prelim bracket for amusement's sake. But perhaps there could be something along the lines of what PACE does in awarding more HSNCT berths or providing a financial discount to hosts who follow those good principles and call it, say, "Official NAQT certification" or something neutral like that.
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Re: Alternatives to the phrase "good quizbowl"

Postby mazinomer » Sun Jan 07, 2018 5:05 pm

I use "mainstream quizbowl" sometimes.
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Re: Alternatives to the phrase "good quizbowl"

Postby jonah » Sun Jan 07, 2018 5:06 pm

At the risk of thread-sitting…

bmcke wrote:I have sympathy for your dilemma -- I often hear people say "quizbowl" to refer to any kind of school quiz game. Sometimes I distinguish by saying "true quizbowl."
I think this has the same basic problem as "good quizbowl", though probably not as severely: it suggests that other formats are not really quizbowl.

cchiego wrote:I'd avoid "true quizbowl" or "national format quizbowl" or even "NAQT quizbowl," all of which I've seen used in derogatory fashion by people who think all these good quizbowl traits are the work of Meddlesome Outsider Troublemakers (tm).
Yeah, in addition to the problems you identify, "national-format" suggests NAQT or ACF or PACE rules, or at least some key features thereof, which I don't think is necessary for "good quizbowl", and "NAQT quizbowl" does so even more specifically.

cchiego wrote:If you're trying to reach more teams, just invite teams to tournaments that use good quizbowl principles without even needing to use a phrase. The basic internal logic of "good quizbowl" as experienced is usually more than enough to convince people of its merits.

I do think it's a good idea to have some google-able distinctions out there about good vs. bad quizbowl, and that's where it makes sense to explicitly call it "good" vs. "bad."
The main reason I'm asking is for possible changes to the QBWiki. I think it's important not to use terminology there that is likely to turn people off. I agree that your advice is useful for many forms of targeted outreach, but probably not for open/reference communications that seek to explain why "good quizbowl" practices are indeed good.

cchiego wrote:If you're trying to get potential hosts to adopt more good quizbowl principles though, that's a bit trickier. One of the more interesting things PACE did is introduce the concept of certification levels for tournaments. That might be harder for NAQT since there is a financial interest in having more hosts, even those who say, put all the best teams in the same prelim bracket for amusement's sake. But perhaps there could be something along the lines of what PACE does in awarding more HSNCT berths or providing a financial discount to hosts who follow those good principles and call it, say, "Official NAQT certification" or something neutral like that.
I'm asking this question in my personal capacity and that of QBWiki administrator (which is totally separate from my NAQT work), so I'm hoping not to get into an extensive discussion of NAQT policies or practices, but suffice it to say I've broached such ideas before and we've decided not to take such an approach for the foreseeable future for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to workload/prioritization and our general approach to customer relations.
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Re: Alternatives to the phrase "good quizbowl"

Postby etchdulac » Mon Jan 08, 2018 6:20 pm

I have had some success with saying "modern quizbowl" to suggest the game has evolved. People may be less offput by hearing a suggestion that "this format you've been using for decades is out of date" rather than "what you're doing is in and of itself bad."

I imagine it will still rub some people the wrong way though.
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Re: Alternatives to the phrase "good quizbowl"

Postby alexdz » Mon Jan 08, 2018 7:44 pm

I actually like "modern quizbowl" now that I've heard it. I've recently been communicating with a summer program that started a quizbowl competition and I've been trying to figure out the wording to use as well. Given that it's an in-state thing, it's a bit easier to make the direct comparison with the state format; that is, along the lines of "your program doesn't quite live up to the expectations that students have who play the state format." But what to call the "national format" is still elusive.
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Re: Alternatives to the phrase "good quizbowl"

Postby tiwonge » Fri Jan 12, 2018 12:18 am

jonah wrote:
Perhaps I should start by defining what I understand to be the defining characteristics of "good quizbowl":
  • Pyramidal tossups
  • Bonuses (if used) with graded difficulty structure. (In the three-part case, this would be an easy, a medium, and a hard part for each bonus, though in principle bonuses need not be tripartite, nor even need they be used at all.)
  • More generally, questions designed to reward teams/players with greater knowledge rather than only those with greater buzzer speed (though buzzer speed cannot be truly eliminated as a factor)
  • Audience-appropriate topic-selection and difficulty, both within questions and across all the questions used (with acknowledgment that perfect difficulty control isn't realistic)
  • Tournament formats designed to give teams many opportunities to display their knowledge, avoid perverse incentives, clearly and meaningfully identify a winner (and preferably other places), and preferably have some forgiveness for flukes
  • Rules and officials that respect players and all other participants, and maintain the focus on the principles of competition mentioned above
That might not be everything; it's basically off-the-cuff.



One of the common characteristics of a lot of these properties of quiz bowl is that they test deeper knowledge, or more thorough knowledge--pyramidal questions, three part bonuses, etc. (This is in contrast to formats that don't use pyramidal questions--in those cases, questions are either buzzer reflex or obscure trivia or something like that.)

I was thinking that the term "deep quizbowl" might work. I don't really like the sound of it (and I guess it implies that other formats are shallow?), but maybe something along those likes? Knowledge-based quizbowl suffers some of the same problems that other terms do. Differentiated quizbowl? This might work, in that pyramidal questions and multi-difficulty bonuses are designed to differentiate knowledge level among players. And it doesn't seem to have a negative implication for other formats. It's a bit of a mouthful, though.

Just some ideas.
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Re: Alternatives to the phrase "good quizbowl"

Postby Big Y » Mon Jan 15, 2018 11:17 am

I used to think that "educational quizbowl" was a good idea, but I'm willing to try Colin's idea of deep quizbowl.

There isn't a perfect solution here. Anything with a positive connotation implies that other forms are inferior and thereby alienates fans of those other forms. Anything without a positive connotation is, like, you know, missing a positive connotation.
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