Announcement: "stanford housewrite"

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Announcement: "stanford housewrite"

Postby Galadedrid Damodred » Sun Oct 04, 2015 6:15 pm

I am delighted to announce “stanford housewrite”, an open tournament written by members of the Stanford University Quiz Bowl Club and available for mirrors beginning on February 27, 2016. Stephen Liu will be the head editor.

THE SET

“stanford housewrite” will consist of 15 packets of power-marked questions following the usual ACF distribution:

4/4 Literature (1/1 American, 1/1 British, 1/1 European, 1/1 World)
4/4 History (1/1 American, 2/2 European, 1/1 World)
4/4 Science (1/1 Biology, 1/1 Chemistry, 1/1 Physics, 1/1 Other)
2/2 Religion and Mythology (1/1 each)
2/2 Philosophy and Social Science (1/1 each)
3/3 Fine Arts (1/1 Painting, 1/1 Music, 1/1 Other)
1/1 Geography, Current Events, and Trash (in the ratio 4:4:7, i.e. just under half are trash)

The intended difficulty of the set is Nationals-minus, i.e. noticeably harder than tournaments such as ACF Regionals and Penn Bowl, but not as hard as ACF Nationals or last year’s George Oppen. We will do our best to make the questions accessible and fun to play for teams with a wide variety of skill levels. [EDIT: There is a hard cap of 9 lines after bolding for power. This is functionally the same as a soft cap of 8 lines, but makes it more explicit that many tossups will go onto the 9th line.]

HOSTING

[EDIT: See below for the complete list of mirrors.]

The base fee is $120 per team and the mirror fee is $45 per non-house team. We expect hosts to apply the standard ACF discounts; in the case of open teams composed of people from different locations, the average distance from the mirror site will determine the travel discount.

LIST OF MIRRORS

West Coast – Stanford (2/27)
Mid-Atlantic – Maryland (2/27)
Canada - Waterloo (2/27)
Midwest – Chicago (3/5)
South - Alabama (3/5)
UK - Oxford (3/5)
Skype – The Cloud (3/12?)
Great Plains - Oklahoma (3/19)

Please post in this thread if you have any questions about the tournament. Schools interested in hosting mirrors should email me, Austin Brownlow (acb13 AT stanford DOT edu).
Last edited by Galadedrid Damodred on Mon Feb 29, 2016 9:56 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Announcement: "stanford housewrite"

Postby Galadedrid Damodred » Sun Dec 06, 2015 3:21 am

There is now a near-complete list of mirrors in the OP. There may or may not be a Northeast mirror; we hope to resolve that situation in the near future.

UPDATE 12/27: There are no plans to hold mirrors in the Northeast or the South at this time. We encourage individuals and schools in those regions to register for the Skype mirror on March 5. If there is excess demand for the Skype mirror, we will consider revising this policy.
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Re: Announcement: "stanford housewrite"

Postby wd4gdz » Mon Dec 28, 2015 12:44 pm

Where are there no plans to hold a mirror in The South?
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Re: Announcement: "stanford housewrite"

Postby Galadedrid Damodred » Mon Dec 28, 2015 5:32 pm

wd4gdz wrote:Where are there no plans to hold a mirror in The South?
We'd like to assess the potential size of the Skype mirror (which would primarily draw players from the Northeast and the South) before considering a 4th physical site in the US. We'd rather have fewer mirrors with larger fields than more mirrors with smaller fields.
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Re: Announcement: "stanford housewrite"

Postby Ferlinghetti's Axis » Mon Dec 28, 2015 6:21 pm

That's an absolutely stupid policy. Asking people in the South to travel hundreds of miles or play on Skype instead of letting somebody host a mirror can't possibly be based on anything other than complete indifference to the concerns of an entire region of the country.
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Re: Announcement: "stanford housewrite"

Postby wd4gdz » Tue Dec 29, 2015 1:51 am

Why would you assess the potential size of a Skype mirror before assessing the potential size of a south(east) mirror? What exactly needs to happen for you to consider allowing a south(east) mirror?

"Skype is denigrated as a platform for official competition of any kind, due to the inherent likelihood of technical snafus that comes with an online platform."
--qbwiki

"Skype tournaments are better than nothing but shadow in comparison to the real thing."
--Drew Scheeler

"Skype quizbowl tournaments are a horrible idea."
--Charlie Dees

I couldn't find any mention on hsquizbowl of people saying how Skype tournaments are way better than in-person ones.
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Re: Announcement: "stanford housewrite"

Postby Mnemosyne » Tue Dec 29, 2015 2:42 am

That's an absolutely stupid policy. Asking people in the South to travel hundreds of miles or play on Skype instead of letting somebody host a mirror can't possibly be based on anything other than complete indifference to the concerns of an entire region of the country.


Why would you assess the potential size of a Skype mirror before assessing the potential size of a south(east) mirror?


I couldn't find any mention on hsquizbowl of people saying how Skype tournaments are way better than in-person ones.


I'm going to resist letting this post devolve into 100 raging thoughts and leave it with the following: It is absurd to give a Skype mirror precedence over an in-person mirror, and I have no interest in supporting this idea (or its originators) in any way, ever.
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Re: Announcement: "stanford housewrite"

Postby The Ununtiable Twine » Tue Dec 29, 2015 4:44 am

A few points:

(1) The South (east) Is Large. There are some fairly obvious geographic reasons as to why very few of us Southern quizbowl folk don't go to tournaments at Maryland, Chicago, or Stanford.

(2) The Voronoi diagram you used to come to the conclusion that there should be only three allowed physical mirrors in the United States is flawed and ignores a huge region of the country, pretending it doesn't even exist. Consumers try to minimize the cost of acquiring a good or service - in this case, attending a quizbowl tournament. Often the cost of transportation takes Euclidean distance into account. Quite often, in fact. Due to these factors, attending tournaments at places like Maryland, Chicago, or Stanford is very difficult for us, hence is done sparingly. Skype does in fact minimize Euclidean distance traveled, but people like quality quizbowl experiences so that's why we travel to tournaments in the first place. Skype is a degenerate case when it comes to quizbowl travel and such but should be avoided if at all possible (see 3).

(3) It's possible to avoid the degenerate case, so we should! Alabama has offered buildings and is a nice-ish central location for most of the South (if you need it defined, it appears to be everything from Louisiana over to Florida over to Kentucky by the looks of this post). I'm happy that Alabama wants to help out because it's a fine site for such a tournament. Although the field for George Oppen was small, Tuscaloosa drew teams from several states, including several people from Tennessee and Kentucky who came to the tournament in spite of horrific wintry conditions. People like to travel to play quizbowl tournaments.

aside: For those of you unfamiliar with the some of the nuances of Southern quizbowl history, there was once a huge market for college tournaments being run on A-sets and IS sets. This market simply does not exist anymore. (or if it does, it exists through unknown back channels) Instead, what we have here is nearly the exact opposite situation: a group of Southern quizbowl players wants to have a mirror of a hard quizbowl set for the second consecutive year. You, the quizbowl community, every last one of you, should be happy that these things want to exist instead of their A-set counterparts and you should promote their existence whenever possible.
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Re: Announcement: "stanford housewrite"

Postby Galadedrid Damodred » Tue Dec 29, 2015 11:27 am

It looks like I need to clear some things up. The below statement is my own and does not represent the opinion of the Stanford club as a whole.

I was not aware that there exists so much opposition to the use of Skype for quizbowl tournaments. I have played two Skype tournaments and did not experience any of the issues or complaints that Billy, Nick Collins, Nick Conder, and Jake have mentioned, other than minor technical problems that did not appreciably affect the course of the day. I came away both times with the impression that the majority of players considered it a positive experience. On the tangible side, Skype mirrors enable people to play a given tournament who wouldn't otherwise get to do so because of travel or scheduling issues, and on the intangible side, they enable people to play against a wider variety of competition than is generally possible within a given region.

I would have no problem with canceling the Skype mirror of "stanford housewrite" altogether if everyone who wanted to play had the ability to attend a good-sized physical mirror, which I define as 6 teams being the minimum number and 8 teams being the desired number. However, when the editing team discussed the mirror situation in the fall, we decided to start off actively seeking mirrors in a small number of regions that have a proven track record of attracting people to difficult open tournaments. Last year's George Oppen at Alabama had 4 teams. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, we assumed that this was an undesirable situation and that the players in question would not be opposed to the idea of participating in a Skype mirror that enabled them to be part of a larger and more geographically diverse field. Therefore, we did not list the South as one of the initial regions in which to actively pursue a physical mirror. As the board liaison and tournament director for "stanford housewrite", I take personal responsibility for this decision. The lack of response in the months following my initial announcement seemed to confirm this state of affairs.

Now we come to the events of the last 48 hours. Jake Sundberg contacted me on December 22 asking about the possibility of a mirror of "stanford housewrite" in the South in early March, with Alabama being the mooted host. I saw this message on December 27 while logging in briefly to add a link for the Waterloo site in the global announcement. Being unable to discuss this potential mirror at length with the rest of the club while everyone is on vacation, I decided to stick to the policy we had previously agreed upon and revisit the situation in a week's time when the winter quarter begins. To that effect, I directed people in the South and Northeast to post in the Skype mirror thread, with the understanding that we were leaving the door open to adding more physical mirrors depending on the magnitude of the response. Other factors which affected this decision included my assumption that early March meant March 5 (the same date as the Skype mirror), my desire to provide a prompt reply, and my aforementioned conviction that the option of a Skype mirror instead of a physical mirror would make more people from the South willing and able to play a difficult open tournament who might be reluctant to do so after George Oppen.

Given the typical state of inter-university quizbowl communications, this seemed to me a decent way of galvanizing the prospective "stanford housewrite" players who didn't have concrete plans already into making their numbers known, thus enabling us to accurately assess the projected field sizes of physical mirrors in those regions and the projected field size of the Skype mirror in case of adding a particular physical mirror. My intent was to ensure that everyone who wanted to play this tournament got to play this tournament as part of a sufficiently large field, rather than spreading the player pool too thinly over an excess of mirrors. Again, I did not intend to give the impression of forcing people in particular regions to play a Skype mirror to the exclusion of all else. I just didn't want to commit to a physical mirror in the South (or in the Northeast) before I was certain that the demand was there and before I had the chance to talk it over with the rest of the club, since that would entail acting on my own rather than as the designated communicator of a collective policy decision.

In retrospect, the better decision would have been to conduct this fact-gathering through PMs and emails, thus avoiding a response like the above posts. Call my thought process naivete, jumping to conclusions, or what you will, but I reject the assertion that it represents "complete indifference to the concerns of an entire region of the country." I have put a lot of time and effort into this set already, with much more to come over the next two months. Of course I want as many people as possible to play the questions and have a good time. If you've talked to me in person, you know I don't have any hidden agenda other than wanting other people to like quizbowl as much as I do.

I hope that everyone involved will accept my sincere apologies for any assumed antagonism or disrespect, and that they will wait another week or so for the Stanford team to discuss our mirror policy going forward. I'll also bring up with my teammates the possibility of lowering the Skype mirror's entry fee to $100 to reflect the fact that it is an inferior experience to in-person quizbowl (which I have never contested), as well as the fact that teams attending physical mirrors will often pay less than $120 because they can receive discounts for travel, buzzers, and staffers. It's unfortunate that this sequence of events could easily have been avoided if we were able to all sit in a room together and talk it over.
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Re: Announcement: "stanford housewrite"

Postby hydrocephalitic listlessness » Tue Dec 29, 2015 1:46 pm

From emails I got back in November, it seems like a bunch of schools in the Northeast (including Harvard) have already declined to host a physical mirror. So, if one of those schools—or another in the Northeast—decided that they'd be fine with hosting, would Stanford still be okay with that?
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Re: Announcement: "stanford housewrite"

Postby The Ununtiable Twine » Tue Dec 29, 2015 3:08 pm

Austin, we love you, we really do. We just want to play quizbowl. We want to enjoy the questions you spent months writing. Four, six, eight teams, what does it matter? You mention that our mirror of George Oppen featured four teams, however keep in mind that it was one of the first hard non-national tournaments held in our region in some time. Hard quizbowl has to be given a chance to flourish in our region. Sure, the fields are small, but at least they want to exist and that's exciting.
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Re: Announcement: "stanford housewrite"

Postby wd4gdz » Tue Dec 29, 2015 3:27 pm

I think it'd be very likely that a south(east) mirror to have 6-8 teams. You mentioned last year's George Oppen at Alabama as evidence for a south(east) mirror this year being an "undesirable situation." However, that tournament, at one point, had 8 teams interested and/or registered, and had a 4 team turn-out in part because of freakish weather (lots of snow and dangerous icy roads) that caused some late drops and some tournament attendees to literally sleep in their car on the highway the night before. Also, I'm positive nobody at last year's Oppen at Bama would have said afterward, "This tournament was an 'undesirable situation,' if only we had had six teams in attendence instead of four."

You also said "I directed people in the South and Northeast to post in the Skype mirror thread, with the understanding that we were leaving the door open to adding more physical mirrors depending on the magnitude of the response." I have no interest in playing a Skype mirror, but I would very much like to play an in-person tournament. I'm guessing I'm not the only person who feels that way. So, the magnitude of the response won't have a great correlation with people who actually want to play the tournament. Also, you said in the Skype thread "At this time, there are no plans to hold a mirror in the Northeast or the South" so that seems to go against your "leaving the door open" statement.

I don't want to be upset at you, but some of the things you've said/done have been mind-boggling and don't have any precedent that I'm aware. Hopefully, you'll be in contact with people to see if there's interest in a south(east) mirror (I think there is based on facebook messages and posts), and go there from there.
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Re: Announcement: "stanford housewrite"

Postby Adventure Temple Trail » Tue Dec 29, 2015 6:48 pm

America is a pretty big country, and "the South" is a pretty big region. It seems like it's well worth setting up a mirror with far less fuss than this if the large region between Texas, Florida, Tennessee, and the Virginia-North Carolina border or so has teams that are interested. Since that seems to be true, may as well do it.
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Re: Announcement: "stanford housewrite"

Postby Ferlinghetti's Axis » Wed Dec 30, 2015 12:02 am

Galadedrid Damodred wrote:I reject the assertion that it represents "complete indifference to the concerns of an entire region of the country."


To clarify what I mean here: I felt this decision was probably not purposefully antagonistic, but that the decision makers probably did not know or put a lot of thought into potential objections of people in these regions. It was a mistake in my opinion, but not one driven from malice on your part.
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Re: Announcement: "stanford housewrite"

Postby Skepticism and Animal Feed » Wed Dec 30, 2015 1:13 pm

Why the hang-up among the tournament's editors about field size at mirrors? What difference does it make if the tournament is played at two locations with 16 teams each, or four locations with 8 teams each, or six locations with 5.3 teams each?
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Re: Announcement: "stanford housewrite"

Postby Mike Bentley » Thu Dec 31, 2015 12:02 pm

wd4gdz wrote:Why would you assess the potential size of a Skype mirror before assessing the potential size of a south(east) mirror? What exactly needs to happen for you to consider allowing a south(east) mirror?

"Skype is denigrated as a platform for official competition of any kind, due to the inherent likelihood of technical snafus that comes with an online platform."
--qbwiki

"Skype tournaments are better than nothing but shadow in comparison to the real thing."
--Drew Scheeler

"Skype quizbowl tournaments are a horrible idea."
--Charlie Dees

I couldn't find any mention on hsquizbowl of people saying how Skype tournaments are way better than in-person ones.


I don't really have a dog in this fight since I'm playing an in-person mirror, but here are a couple of thoughts on Skype tournaments from someone who has played a lot of them:

They're a good way to allow people to play tournaments they either wouldn't get to play, or wouldn't get to play against a decent field. This has been particularly true for a region such as the Pacific Northwest where in many years there are literally no other active college teams within 8+ hours driving distance.

You need to weigh the above benefit with the various negatives that come with a Skype tournament. First and foremost, there's no great way to make sure that people aren't cheating and thus shouldn't be used for anything official. Second, they take longer than regular tournaments. Don't expect to play a Skype tournament of more than 10 rounds, and even then it's going to a long day. Finally, there's more variance in determining who wins buzzer races. Sometimes it will come down to who has the lower latency.

I think Skype tournaments are good tools to extend more the reach of tournaments to geographically isolated regions, and as a way for people to attend tournaments when scheduling conflicts prohibit them from attending a local site. In general, people should be encouraged to attend the local sites, and TDs should ensure that people aren't skipping local tournaments (and thus making the experience worse for local circuits) to attend Skype tournaments without good reasons. But I don't want to see some quizbowl-wide ban on these tournaments, especially for harder during-the-season opens like this.
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Re: Announcement: "stanford housewrite"

Postby Gautam » Fri Jan 01, 2016 12:09 am

I know we're getting somewhat off topic here. But I want to chime in here, lest some stupid qbwiki quote be construed to represent the diverse opinions of a heterogeneous body of quizbowlers. Skypebowl is great for people like me who have been super actively involved with the circuit and value playing quizbowl every so often, but simply cannot create more hours in their life to quizbowl.

Quizbowl doesn't do a great job of keeping in touch with alums. People often retire and we never hear from them again. I think there is value to keeping alums in touch, and Skypebowl can clearly be such a platform: It helps keep people engaged at a relatively low cost. (I am factoring in opportunity costs, I think people charge too little for skypebowl right now, given that participants are saving so much time doing other things.)

I used to value the time I spent for quizbowl a LOT; clearly so, since I did spend so much time on it! I still value it, but I have also gotten around to valuing other things a lot more. For instance, I value eating meals I have cooked myself, rather than going out to eat. When I played Skypebowl with Seth and Selene a few months ago I was able to cook a whole week's worth of meals while playing the tournament. I also somehow wasn't just sitting there the whole time, and learned how and when I could tune out if I needed to do that. This has to be one of the top 10 most fun things I've done since graduating college.

Skypebowl is fun, I'd encourage Stanford to organize an online tournament if possible. Physical tournaments are fun, too, but given that I need to put in long runs during weekends, I cannot devote entire weekends to traveling wherever for a tournament. I will look to play Skypebowl should Stanford organize it, and perhaps I'll try to get an hour long run in when we're on lunch break.

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Re: Announcement: "stanford housewrite"

Postby Galadedrid Damodred » Mon Jan 04, 2016 1:55 pm

Alabama will host the South mirror on March 5. Sorry for the delay and the general confusion.

hydrocephalitic listlessness wrote:From emails I got back in November, it seems like a bunch of schools in the Northeast (including Harvard) have already declined to host a physical mirror. So, if one of those schools—or another in the Northeast—decided that they'd be fine with hosting, would Stanford still be okay with that?


Yes, absolutely. I'm in contact with a potential host; if that doesn't work out, we're still planning to hold a Skype mirror for people who fall through the geographical and logistical cracks.
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Re: Announcement: "stanford housewrite"

Postby gyre and gimble » Fri Jan 08, 2016 1:52 pm

After re-thinking things, we've decided to make the tossups a line longer, but with a hard cap (so zero tossups will make it onto the 10th line after powermarking). I think there were some complaints about the length of George Oppen last year, but I think this will still keep things shorter.
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Re: Announcement: "stanford housewrite"

Postby gyre and gimble » Sun Feb 28, 2016 3:40 am

Mods: Can we get a discussion forum set up for this? Thanks!
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Re: Announcement: "stanford housewrite"

Postby gyre and gimble » Mon Feb 29, 2016 5:38 pm

Thanks to Chris, we've got a discussion forum set up! Just send the access requests in the usual way and I'll try to approve them in a timely manner.
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Re: Announcement: "stanford housewrite"

Postby Platinum Toad » Thu Jul 28, 2016 7:07 pm

Can the set be posted?
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