Packet Discount Policy for Chicago Open Discussion

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Packet Discount Policy for Chicago Open Discussion

Postby Ike » Tue Aug 30, 2016 10:22 pm

As you may have heard, I'm head editing this year's Chicago Open. For this year's iteration of our deathmatch, I want to introduce a policy of some sort that will incentivize quality submissions. Because the proposal below is somewhat radical, I wanted to discuss it and get people's various thoughts before announcing something and having to "unexpectedly" recant.

My problem with packet submission in general is that it creates perverse incentives: people often write questions on topics they don't like so that they don't have to play questions on it, and because an editor has whims, writers feel that a lot of their questions will go to waste so they just write "meh" questions. Furthermore, writers who are seemingly competent don't try very hard, and some think that they can just write on insane shit and that it's the editor's job to just "replace the question" if it's too insane.

To reduce some of these perverse incentives I've proposed the following changes:

Base fee: $240
Packet Deadline: May 14th, 2017.
+1 Week Late: some usurious amount (like +100)
+2 Weeks Late: some usurious amount x2
+3 Weeks Late: some usurious amount x3

For each question used, we will give up to a $5 discount. So a team might only pay $40 for the tournament, but to receive the full discount, the question has to be close to perfect. A bonus that uses two parts out of three and needs its hard part changed might receive a $3 discount; a bonus with only one part used might only receive a $1 discount. All such decisions will be determined solely by me with the consultation of my co-editors. Oh and if you so wish, you should specify who wrote what in your packet...that way I can let teams know which contributor was responsible for their discounts. Since you'll all be paying me by Venmo for the tournament, there's no need to worry about paying for your teammates!

That's a pretty fine-grained model of calculating discounts, but I might do something a little bit more coarse-grained such as "We used 20 questions from this packet virtually unedited" and "16 questions that were partially edited," so we'll knock off $100 for the virtually unedited questions and $40 for the partially edited questions to make the fee $100. Of course we can make it even more coarse grained and I'll award packet discounts of something like -$50 for a solid packet, -$100 for a good packet, -$150 for a great packet, -$200 for the packet from the gods.

The numbers are up for discussion, so if you think that the numbers aren't that great, please propose your own suggestion. Last year's CO editors made about $130 per a packet in terms of revenue, and I'm trying to match that. The numbers I chose are based on my gut feeling about how to replicate about that much revenue.

Philosophically, I think this encourages teams to be creative. To use an example, one CO featured 4 teams submitting tossups on John Frum. Under this model, writers will hopefully be forced to be more creative. It also punishes teams who submit five history or literature tossups that are batshit insane. I guess the only thing that's unfortunate is sub-distributions may mean a packet's questions will be cut, but that's again solved by the fact that there is only one deadline: I'll be using the coolest questions from the ones that overlap.

Discuss.
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Re: Packet Discount Policy for Chicago Open Discussion

Postby Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Tue Aug 30, 2016 10:39 pm

I like this idea a lot.
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Re: Packet Discount Policy for Chicago Open Discussion

Postby Cheynem » Tue Aug 30, 2016 10:46 pm

I refuse to use Venmo.

Will you still give discounts for early packets? My experience working on CO is that early submissions, even if they're not perfect, are very preferable and should be rewarded.
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Re: Packet Discount Policy for Chicago Open Discussion

Postby gyre and gimble » Tue Aug 30, 2016 11:00 pm

I think this is a bad idea. As a person submitting questions, I have no idea what the editors' intended difficulty is or how a certain topic I write on fits in relative to other submissions and editors' questions. I wrote 6/6 for my team's CO packet this year, and I think maybe a third of that made it into the tournament. I didn't fine-tune my questions to perfection, but I certainly didn't write them half-heartedly. And the community has repeatedly acknowledged my ability to write good questions at high difficulty. Under the new system of packet discounts, I have no idea what else I'm supposed to do to guarantee that my questions make it into the final set.

Let me illustrate with a couple of examples. 1) Of the 6/6 I submitted, I wrote what I thought was a pretty good tossup on Rembrandt's prints that I suspect was cut because the tournament already had a bonus part on Rembrandt and Rembrandt clues in the Poland tossup. I don't know exactly why it was cut but had I been the editor, I would have been fine keeping it in the tournament, as the quality was at least on par with those from my CO Visual Arts set. 2) As a separate example, I submitted a literature tossup on Woody Allen, which was cut because it didn't qualify as real literature. I don't begrudge John's assessment that Woody Allen short stories are trash lit, because that's his call as the editor. I disagree, but only because I take a more expansive view of what qualifies as literary. Again, I, at least, would have been fine having a Woody Allen lit tossup in a tournament that I edited.

I'm not complaining that these questions didn't make it into the set. I don't have a problem with that, and I'm sure the editors had good reasons. My issue is with the fact that there was no way for me to predict that these questions would be cut, and therefore no opportunity for me to reconsider what I was writing on. I can't put myself in the shoes of an editor whose exact question-writing sensibilities and opinions I don't know; my guess is that most editors themselves can't define their own question-writing preferences to precision.

As a side note, I want to caution against overvaluing creativity in question writing. I think there needs to be a balance between standard questions and creative ones, because otherwise it's easy to distort the canon. For example, do we really want a tournament where every tossup on literature in the high school canon derives from criticism clues? How does that reward someone who has read Eugene Onegin ten times, but hasn't brushed up on Nabokov's poem about translating it? Sometimes you need a boring question on Eugene Onegin to properly distribute your questions. Obviously, people should be creative where they can, but creativity is not and should never be the definitive metric of a question's quality, contrary to what this packet discount scheme seems to push forward.
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Re: Packet Discount Policy for Chicago Open Discussion

Postby Sam » Tue Aug 30, 2016 11:14 pm

gyre and gimble wrote:As a side note, I want to caution against overvaluing creativity in question writing. I think there needs to be a balance between standard questions and creative ones, because otherwise it's easy to distort the canon. For example, do we really want a tournament where every tossup on literature in the high school canon derives from criticism clues? How does that reward someone who has read Eugene Onegin ten times, but hasn't brushed up on Nabokov's poem about translating it? Sometimes you need a boring question on Eugene Onegin to properly distribute your questions. Obviously, people should be creative where they can, but creativity is not and should never be the definitive metric of a question's quality, contrary to what this packet discount scheme seems to push forward.

I'd second this, and also worry that the incentives being suggested would not reward creativity so much as "stuff very unlikely for any other team to think up." If you're really trying to avoid five history or literature tossups that are absolutely insane this is not a good way to do so.

More generally, a pretty high sticker price and then generous discounts for teams that meet an absolute quality threshold seems fine, and almost more a codification of existing policies where truly egregious packets get sent back than anything new.

I also don't have Venmo and don't want to use it. Maybe in 2030.
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Re: Packet Discount Policy for Chicago Open Discussion

Postby Cody » Tue Aug 30, 2016 11:17 pm

gyre and gimble wrote:As a side note, I want to caution against overvaluing creativity in question writing. I think there needs to be a balance between standard questions and creative ones, because otherwise it's easy to distort the canon. For example, do we really want a tournament where every tossup on literature in the high school canon derives from criticism clues? How does that reward someone who has read Eugene Onegin ten times, but hasn't brushed up on Nabokov's poem about translating it? Sometimes you need a boring question on Eugene Onegin to properly distribute your questions. Obviously, people should be creative where they can, but creativity is not and should never be the definitive metric of a question's quality, contrary to what this packet discount scheme seems to push forward.
Since when would that count as creativity? Creativity would be finding a new or underasked way to reward people for reading Eugene Onegin, not doing something that's been done a thousand times (criticism).

By its nature, "creativity" must adjust for the prevailing question writing trends of each period.
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Re: Packet Discount Policy for Chicago Open Discussion

Postby Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Tue Aug 30, 2016 11:23 pm

Honestly, I think there's a tradeoff when you choose to write on someting too out-of-the-way or "creative", because then there's a chance the editors might cut it or not entirely use it since your material might be too hard/your idea might not work. I also don't think a ton of people are using their CO packets to submit standard stuff like Eugene Onegin, so I don't know if that's really a big gamble to submit. Were I a hypothetical editor for CO's history, I would welcome a tossup on something like Alexander I with open arms.
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Re: Packet Discount Policy for Chicago Open Discussion

Postby gyre and gimble » Tue Aug 30, 2016 11:31 pm

Cody wrote:
gyre and gimble wrote:As a side note, I want to caution against overvaluing creativity in question writing. I think there needs to be a balance between standard questions and creative ones, because otherwise it's easy to distort the canon. For example, do we really want a tournament where every tossup on literature in the high school canon derives from criticism clues? How does that reward someone who has read Eugene Onegin ten times, but hasn't brushed up on Nabokov's poem about translating it? Sometimes you need a boring question on Eugene Onegin to properly distribute your questions. Obviously, people should be creative where they can, but creativity is not and should never be the definitive metric of a question's quality, contrary to what this packet discount scheme seems to push forward.


Since when would that count as creativity? Creativity would be finding a new or underasked way to reward people for reading Eugene Onegin, not doing something that's been done a thousand times (criticism).

By its nature, "creativity" must adjust for the prevailing question writing trends of each period.


Sorry, I should have edited out "criticism clues," but forgot. You're right about criticism, of course, but the example I gave has nothing to do with it. Maybe the answerline "translating Eugene Onegin" has been done before but I'd consider it to be a creative one. I think the rest of my point stands.

Periplus of the Erythraean Sea wrote:I also don't think a ton of people are using their CO packets to submit standard stuff like Eugene Onegin, so I don't know if that's really a big gamble to submit. Were I a hypothetical editor for CO's history, I would welcome a tossup on something like Alexander I with open arms.


That's exactly the problem, though! If you were the CO editor, then Alexander I might fly, but 1) only you would know that and 2) if someone else were the editor, and they had already written a ready-to-go tossup on Paul I, they might cut an Alexander I tossup to avoid subject-area overlap. In any case, the writer can't predict whether a perfectly fine question on Alexander I they wrote will be cut. Maybe the creativity discussion is for another thread, because I'm worried people are missing the main point of my post.
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Re: Packet Discount Policy for Chicago Open Discussion

Postby armitage » Wed Aug 31, 2016 1:23 am

I think the issue of writing questions that have subject-area overlap, which writers could never predict would be cut, would need to be addressed by this scheme -- this year, I submitted questions on Kansas and Jeannette Winterson that had really strong overlap with editor questions, and I would be annoyed to have financial insult added to the injury of getting question-scooped.

I don't think this is the same issue as whether a question is rejected out of personal taste, though. I think any editor would be obliged to accept a non-overlapping tossup on Alexander I as long as it has a gradation appropriate to CO.
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Re: Packet Discount Policy for Chicago Open Discussion

Postby Cheynem » Wed Aug 31, 2016 9:21 am

I think like a holistic formula might be better:

For example, even though I did not use all of Richard's team's questions, it was a very good packet and I would have had no issue recommending a full discount. The criteria I would use would be:

-care/quality of questions
-appropriate difficulty
-timeliness
-amount of labor needed on packet (including replacing repeats)

So Team X might submit a packet very early and of very good quality but just happen to have a few repeats. That's not a big deal to me. Holistically, that's a full discount to me.
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Re: Packet Discount Policy for Chicago Open Discussion

Postby Skepticism and Animal Feed » Wed Aug 31, 2016 9:34 am

First of all, I respect the right of the tournament editor to set whatever terms and conditions for the tournament they please, even if they are totally insane. After all, it is Ike and his co-editors who are doing the important work of keeping CO alive, not any of you. If he wishes to be paid only in Venmo, so be it: I was recently forced to sign up for Venmo because a 22 year old coworker owed a debt to me and refused to pay it in any other way. I was annoyed, but it really wasn't that bad and signup was easy. Personally, if I were editing CO, I would want to accept multiple forms of payment, to maximize the chances that everyone actually pays me, but I'm not.

Second of all, it sounds like what Ike is doing here is trying to incentivize writing questions that don't suck. And his proposed mechanism is to essentially score packets for non-suckiness through a metric (questions used/amount of work required) that correlates somewhat with non-suckiness, but not entirely, because a non-sucky question could still be cut or heavily edited because of repeats, a difference in understanding what difficulty level Ike is shooting for, or stylistic reasons. Certainly when I edited tournaments, I often rejected perfectly good questions because I just didn't like their style: but the cost of that decision was always on me (I had to spend more of my time writing a replacement, bearing the cost of that, and not getting paid more for it), for it was I who had a flight of fancy and not the question writer. As somebody who greatly enjoyed 2011 Illinois Open, I certainly would not want Ike to feel constrained in how much editorial freedom he has, because he does not want to financially screw over some team that wrote a decent packet.

By quantifying packet quality in a way that is independent of whether or not the question was used, Ike can be fair to the people who submit packets, while also buying himself more editorial freedom.
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Re: Packet Discount Policy for Chicago Open Discussion

Postby Cheynem » Wed Aug 31, 2016 9:38 am

Skepticism and Animal Feed wrote:As somebody who greatly enjoyed 2011 Illinois Open


There was someone!
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Re: Packet Discount Policy for Chicago Open Discussion

Postby Ethnic history of the Vilnius region » Wed Aug 31, 2016 10:16 am

I am not totally opposed to this plan and will go along with whatever the editors choose; I'd probably do something a bit different and would probably lean towards a holistic approach given the subjective nature of this, but I'm not the editor of CO. Here's a thought: it might be totally off-base but I'm gonna run it up the flagpole and see if anyone salutes it. Would it be reasonable for the packets to be anonymous when the editors edit them? Thus, the editors wouldn't know whose packet they are looking at when looking over the packets. Maybe this is impractical, but to me it would help make this inherently subjective discount process a little more objective.
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Re: Packet Discount Policy for Chicago Open Discussion

Postby Lagotto Romagnolo » Wed Aug 31, 2016 12:05 pm

Cheynem wrote:I refuse to use Venmo.


I personally don't trust Venmo, and I certainly didn't appreciate being asked to sign up for it the day of CO by participants who had not communicated their intention to pay that way beforehand. But, given the app's proliferation, it would behoove future TDs to make Venmo available as a payment option if the money will be paid directly to them rather than to a club or other organization. That said, I cannot fathom why anyone should forced participants to use it. It takes 10 seconds to pull $30 out of a wallet and about 1 minute to write a paper check, assuming players pay enough attention to announcement threads to remember how much they owe. It takes about 5 seconds for the TD or registration czar to enter that amount in a spreadsheet.

Tangential PSA: Speaking of check-in time, I suggest that future CO organizers change the layout of the tables in Cobb Hall room 107 so that there's a clear check-in line and players who have already checked in don't choke it up.

Now, regarding the new payment proposal: I agree that the base fee for CO should go up, due to the absence of mirrors and the time investment required to produce a quality tournament of that difficulty. My concerns with this specific proposal are: 1. How effective will it be? Can we expect a uniform increase in question quality across the board, or just a few more creative gems in the best packets? 2. The proposed deadline is right at the end of AP's and college exam/commencement time, and right around peak editing time for NSC and HSNCT. Admittedly, the usual early deadlines for CO fall in that time frame as well, and will stay there unless the tournament gets pushed to early August.
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Re: Packet Discount Policy for Chicago Open Discussion

Postby ValenciaQBowl » Wed Aug 31, 2016 1:29 pm

In theory Ike's plan seems interesting to me, but I fear that in practice it could lead to all kinds of complications.

I've written before that I was a little disappointed that the packet I wrote with Billy, Kenji, and Dylan wasn't used at all this past July. And John Lawrence's facial expression and pause as he perhaps searched for polite language when I asked him why suggests he probably thought the packet (or perhaps his editing areas, much of what I wrote!) was pretty stinky. But I was happy with most of my submissions and would need some detailed explanation of why they stunk (if indeed that was the assessment) for me to write better questions next time.

Besides, at what point would a team's whole packet get dumped due to a perceived lack of quality questions? For instance, if my teammate wrote 6/6 excellent history and SS questions, but I and the other two teammates wrote 18 other questions so bad they were considered unusable, presumably editors wouldn't try to salvage that packet (if there were more packets submitted than needed, as was the case this past summer). So would the good writer get the discount even though the packet itself wasn't used at all? And if so, to what point for the editors, who got no help out of it?

Now I get that each individual's questions would be judged separately, but, as Stephen noted, we'd have no idea what other writers were producing, and thus some of us would have questions rejected for duplication, not quality. And while it's sometimes great when a new way of approaching a certain piece of information is attempted, I agree with others here that pushing for an odd angle isn't always ideal. Heck, I even asked John L. in advance about his reaction to writing a toss-up with the answer line "narrated by a dog" (as in, "One work presented in this fashion..."), thinking it was clever, but he thought a toss-up with the answer line of "dog" was probably better. (I didn't write the question, though, as it seemed less interesting). So my point is that ideas about "creativity" vary quite a bit, and pushing people to try to be creative to save money could lead to some weirder questions, but not necessarily better ones.

I'd also echo Eric's suggestion about considering anonymous submission. I know anyone willing to volunteer for the hard work of editing CO is a fair-minded individual who knows nearly everyone on the circuit, but I can imagine that, consciously or not, one might be more inclined to feel better about questions submitted by some of the giants of the game versus those by us mid- (or back-) benchers. But this might be more trouble to do than it's worth.

PS--I, too, hate Venmo and will always prefer to pay cash money.

PPS--If you do go through with this, Ike, maybe people could e-mail you answer lines before they write them (especially if it's an unusual idea/angle). That wouldn't guarantee the actual question would be good, but at least if you think it's a bad idea, they would be saved the time of writing it.
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Re: Packet Discount Policy for Chicago Open Discussion

Postby Ethnic history of the Vilnius region » Wed Aug 31, 2016 1:53 pm

ValenciaQBowl wrote:

I'd also echo Eric's suggestion about considering anonymous submission. I know anyone willing to volunteer for the hard work of editing CO is a fair-minded individual who knows nearly everyone on the circuit, but I can imagine that, consciously or not, one might be more inclined to feel better about questions submitted by some of the giants of the game versus those by us mid- (or back-) benchers. But this might be more trouble to do than it's worth.


Yeah, I don't want my suggestion to come off as not trusting the editors, but anything to increase the objectivity of the proposed process would be a plus, imo.
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Re: Packet Discount Policy for Chicago Open Discussion

Postby Ike » Wed Aug 31, 2016 4:05 pm

Thanks for the feedback so far.

The high level summary of my post is that I'm going to be implementing a discount policy based on quality of submissions whether you like it or not. The implementation details are up for debate but due to some of the excellent points the posters in this thread have brought up, I am leaning toward a coarse-grained (holistic) discount policy.

The holistic policy would work something as follows: I'm going to set the base fee at $Y dollars. Your packet may qualify for a minus $X, $2X, $3X and $4X discount as determined from a holistic evaluation of your packet- Mike Cheyne's bullet point list is a pretty good idea of what I'm going for. The repeat safeguard as described below only applies if your packet makes the first deadline. In addition, if your packet does something to really annoy me - I'll slap an additional penalty of some sort depending on how mad you've made me or my coeditors. An example might be +40 for writing an impossibly hard packet in one area, +5 for submitting your packet in Comic Sans, +80 for sending me a packet without science, +100 Canadian dollars for labeling your questions "pack," etc.

Will you still give discounts for early packets? My experience working on CO is that early submissions, even if they're not perfect, are very preferable and should be rewarded.


I prefer to look at this with more stick, less carrot. You can mentally think of the first deadline as the early submission if you so wish.

spiel about creativity


I too think it's a topic for another thread, but let's talk about this with an example as it relates to the submission policy. In 2014, I received two John Milton related tossups: one was on Il Penseroso, another was on the war in heaven from Paradise Lost. Not to insult Il Penseroso, but it shouldn't be that surprising I went with the Paradise Lost submission since it's a great way to ask about the most underasked English language poem in quizbowl. That's what I mean by creativity - it can be on high school material...it just has to be fresh and a new way of looking at something old.

Issues about Stephen Liu's Woody Allen and narrated by a dog example


I'm going to meet you half-way here guys. On the one hand I am sympathetic to your anger that your creative idea didn't get used, especially for a tournament like Chicago Open. I don't want to discourage inventive ideas, and I think choosing a policy that allows some of these to come in packets is very important. On the other hand, you shouldn't be "shocked" that either one of these questions didn't get used. I have always encouraged writers to discuss with me the ideas of their submissions, and CO 2017 will be no different. So for example Stephen, if you emailed me before hand with that Woody Allen idea, I'd probably tell you to save it for other academic not literature. Hopefully that provides enough of a buffer for creativity!

I think the issue of writing questions that have subject-area overlap, which writers could never predict would be cut, would need to be addressed by this scheme -- this year, I submitted questions on Kansas and Jeannette Winterson that had really strong overlap with editor questions, and I would be annoyed to have financial insult added to the injury of getting question-scooped.


Again, I think I'll also meet you half-way on this. Since you are writing 6 tossups per a packet, if one of your tossups gets cut, you shouldn't be too surprised. But, here is what I propose: I will not hold a substantive repeat that appears in the editors packet against your packet for discount purposes if and only if your packet makes the first deadline and we use the rest of your packet in some fashion. If you have a substantive repeat with another submission, then whoever wrote the used submission will get the discount*. Think about the Il Penseroso versus Paradise Lost example.

Eric Douglass's concerns about objectivity of the process. Chris Borglum's comment: I was happy with most of my submissions and would need some detailed explanation of why they stunk (if indeed that was the assessment) for me to write better questions next time.


I'm sorry, I'm about to be glib here. I don't care about the objectivity of this process. You're just going to have to trust my judgment. I've rejected numerous questions before in as objective a manner as possible, and if you don't like what I'm doing for a tournament as "informal" as CO you're just going to have to deal with it. As usual, I have no problem dispensing advice as to why I rejected stuff, but for a tournament where we all know each other, I don't care about trying to appear objective. This is not the PACE NSC where we should all go out of our way to avoid the appearance of impropriety.

stuff about Venmo


If you don't use Venmo, your teammates will be paying me for you then then. If all four of you are Luddites who refuse to pay with Venmo, then I'll just drop your team from the field. I don't like the idea of Venmo in particular, I just ~hate~ the idea of carrying cash and checks. Also, I intend to collect all payment before tournament day. This will save time during the opening meeting so that all I have to do is distribute schedules and set up buzzers. Of course, if you have a last minute emergency after you've paid and can't make it, I'll refund you. Also if this is really crazy, let's start another thread to talk about electronic payment.

*Regardless of either a holistic or individual question discount policy.
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Re: Packet Discount Policy for Chicago Open Discussion

Postby Cheynem » Wed Aug 31, 2016 4:12 pm

Feel free to start another thread, but only allowing payment through Venmo is really dumb in my opinion. I will gladly mail you the payment beforehand or pay a fine if I pay with cash or check instead.
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Re: Packet Discount Policy for Chicago Open Discussion

Postby gyre and gimble » Wed Aug 31, 2016 4:40 pm

Ike wrote:The holistic policy would work something as follows: I'm going to set the base fee at $Y dollars. Your packet may qualify for a minus $X, $2X, $3X and $4X discount as determined from a holistic evaluation of your packet- Mike Cheyne's bullet point list is a pretty good idea of what I'm going for. The repeat safeguard as described below only applies if your packet makes the first deadline. In addition, if your packet does something to really annoy me - I'll slap an additional penalty of some sort depending on how mad you've made me or my coeditors. An example might be +40 for writing an impossibly hard packet in one area, +5 for submitting your packet in Comic Sans, +80 for sending me a packet without science, +100 Canadian dollars for labeling your questions "pack," etc.


I'd be okay with this kind of system as long as it isn't critically dependent on what percentage of the questions end up being used. If your "holistic evaluation" system is based on asking yourself, "Did this team make an effort to submit good, thoughtful questions, and does this effort show?" then I trust you to make fair decisions about packet discounts. But if it's based entirely on asking, "How much time did I have to spend to make this packet usable?" then the system is intrinsically unfair because a team can spend tons of effort in making their packet good and still end up having a bunch of questions cut due to unforeseeable reasons. In short, I think the discount should be based on how much effort the submitting team put in, rather than how much effort is eventually required of the editors. The latter is what the base fee, not discounts, is supposed to reflect.

Ike wrote:I'm going to meet you half-way here guys. On the one hand I am sympathetic to your anger that your creative idea didn't get used, especially for a tournament like Chicago Open. I don't want to discourage inventive ideas, and I think choosing a policy that allows some of these to come in packets is very important. On the other hand, you shouldn't be "shocked" that either one of these questions didn't get used. I have always encouraged writers to discuss with me the ideas of their submissions, and CO 2017 will be no different. So for example Stephen, if you emailed me before hand with that Woody Allen idea, I'd probably tell you to save it for other academic not literature. Hopefully that provides enough of a buffer for creativity!


I just want to clarify that I'm neither angry nor shocked that the question was cut. I was merely using the example to illustrate a situation where, had we been using your packet discount system, it would have been hard for me to assess whether my question would merit a discount or not. (Incidentally, I think John actually wanted to use the Woody Allen tossup for other academic, but conceded to Matt's preference for the tossup on landfills instead.)

Also, I'm not sure how I feel about talking to editors about what I should or shouldn't write on, because I don't want the back-and-forth to color my impression of what the set will be like before I play it. Thinking, "Right, the editors didn't want me to write a question on Mary Oliver, so they probably won't toss up Billy Collins either," whether accurate/justified or not, is a consideration that players shouldn't have to deal with but will inevitably have to if they have prior knowledge about the set.
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Re: Packet Discount Policy for Chicago Open Discussion

Postby The Ununtiable Twine » Wed Aug 31, 2016 4:49 pm

How about a compromise if you don't like carrying cash and checks around, Ike? Maybe you could institute a policy in which you accept alternate forms of payment up until the day of the tournament but not the day of? For instance, sending an invoice and asking for payment in advance in the form of a check (or cash, if people trust the postage system that much). Certainly individual teams can figure out how to make sure you get your money ahead of time. If that means one person pays more of the bill ahead of time than another to make things easier (and get paid back at the tournament), so be it. But only accepting Venmo, like ever, seems to be pretty silly.
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Re: Packet Discount Policy for Chicago Open Discussion

Postby Mewto55555 » Wed Aug 31, 2016 4:56 pm

Willing to trade dollars in the Venmo system for cash/checks for only a 1% convenience fee.
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Re: Packet Discount Policy for Chicago Open Discussion

Postby Urech hydantoin synthesis » Wed Aug 31, 2016 5:08 pm

Mewto55555 wrote:Willing to trade dollars in the Venmo system for cash/checks for only a 1% convenience fee.

Same, but for a $1 flat fee.
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Re: Packet Discount Policy for Chicago Open Discussion

Postby Sima Guang Hater » Wed Aug 31, 2016 5:09 pm

Urech hydantoin synthesis wrote:
Mewto55555 wrote:Willing to trade dollars in the Venmo system for cash/checks for only a 1% convenience fee.

Same, but for a $1 flat fee.


I'll do it for free, assuming you have the money on hand. Will also accept squarecash and paypal. How's that for undercutting the market.

Also I'm glad I'm no longer quizbowl's Venmo evangelist.
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Re: Packet Discount Policy for Chicago Open Discussion

Postby Ethnic history of the Vilnius region » Wed Aug 31, 2016 7:35 pm

I'm sorry, I'm about to be glib here. I don't care about the objectivity of this process. You're just going to have to trust my judgment. I've rejected numerous questions before in as objective a manner as possible, and if you don't like what I'm doing for a tournament as "informal" as CO you're just going to have to deal with it. As usual, I have no problem dispensing advice as to why I rejected stuff, but for a tournament where we all know each other, I don't care about trying to appear objective. This is not the PACE NSC where we should all go out of our way to avoid the appearance of impropriety.


Fair enough. I'm sure the editors will understand that $240 is a lot of money (despite the informality of the event) and will be fair in not going out of their way to reject good questions.
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Re: Packet Discount Policy for Chicago Open Discussion

Postby AKKOLADE » Wed Aug 31, 2016 8:00 pm

Ike wrote:Since you'll all be paying me by Venmo for the tournament


the world's biggest eyeroll
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Re: Packet Discount Policy for Chicago Open Discussion

Postby ValenciaQBowl » Wed Aug 31, 2016 8:10 pm

I just want to clarify that I'm neither angry nor shocked that the question was cut. I was merely using the example to illustrate a situation


Yup.
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Re: Packet Discount Policy for Chicago Open Discussion

Postby rylltraka » Wed Aug 31, 2016 9:59 pm

Ike wrote:-forcing y'all to use Venmo for no clear reason, esp. when cash is traditional and the most user-friendly medium of exchange
-imposing arbitrary fees based on "how much I liked your questions, and no, there will be no transparency"


To be fair, if you want to use this vehicle to hold the community hostage over these points, they were the ones who handed you the keys.
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Re: Packet Discount Policy for Chicago Open Discussion

Postby theMoMA » Wed Aug 31, 2016 10:46 pm

So Eric doesn't get too swamped, I'll gladly also pay Ike via Venmo if people pay me cash or check.
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Re: Packet Discount Policy for Chicago Open Discussion

Postby grapesmoker » Wed Aug 31, 2016 11:27 pm

Ok, so right now, I'm going to put on my discarded ACF Treasurer hat and explain why this fee system is a bad idea. Here's the thing: keeping track of what people owe you under a much simpler system is a huge pain in the ass. Even for a relatively small tournament like CO, you're still tracking ~15-20 teams and all their various discounts and don't you dare shortchange someone $5 or you'll never hear the end of it. Editors are already spending too much time dealing with this stuff, which is of course why ACF and NAQT and other quizbowl organizations have dedicated treasurers who do this and only this and allow the people working on the questions to focus on that. I guarantee from personal experience that if you go in this direction, you will drive yourself nuts trying to keep up with and tabulate all the discounts and penalties; it will be 3 days before the tournament and you will be killing precious hours making sure you got their invoice right instead of working on whatever questions you have left. You'll hate yourself and you'll hate your teams. And furthermore I absolutely promise you that no one's question writing behaviors or predilections are going to be moved a single iota by this proposal.

Also, I don't mind paying with Venmo (sorry for making you register, Aaron), but it should not be the only way to make a payment. I get that you don't want to be flashing all those rolls of CO money around, but if that's the case, get a Square or something and let people use their credit cards.
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Re: Packet Discount Policy for Chicago Open Discussion

Postby grapesmoker » Wed Aug 31, 2016 11:28 pm

I should add: sympathetic though I am to the cause of making people submit questions that don't suck, it's not like people writing CO packets are out to ruin your day in the first place. This whole scheme is based on a misunderstanding of how people approach question writing in the first place and also of how they respond to incentives.
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Re: Packet Discount Policy for Chicago Open Discussion

Postby Sima Guang Hater » Thu Sep 01, 2016 1:35 am

I'd like to also point out that this fee structure is regressive, in the sense that the more inexperienced teams will undoubtedly be penalized more (since, on average, inexperienced players don't write as well as experienced ones. I'm doing my best to phrase this delicately).
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Re: Packet Discount Policy for Chicago Open Discussion

Postby The grandmother is {wise, dead}. » Thu Sep 01, 2016 5:08 am

Selecting a single mobile payment service as the only way of paying tournament fees is a great idea. It doesn't have to be Venmo (#BuyTiltOnTheAppStore), but it might as well be.
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Re: Packet Discount Policy for Chicago Open Discussion

Postby Sam » Thu Sep 01, 2016 10:15 am

Sima Guang Hater wrote:I'd like to also point out that this fee structure is regressive, in the sense that the more inexperienced teams will undoubtedly be penalized more (since, on average, inexperienced players don't write as well as experienced ones. I'm doing my best to phrase this delicately).

It'd be difficult to not have this system be regressive, but if the discounts are being applied on an absolute scale (as opposed to the editors just giving the best packet the highest discount, the second best the second highest, etc.), it won't necessarily be a problem. At CO at least it seems like everyone has had some experience with what questions are supposed to look like. I'd be happy with some sort of holistic discounting system for the reason Stephen mentions above, where there's a very steep discount (maybe $60-100) for having a packet that the editors can actually use, another $40 or so for a very, very good packet, then maybe some further discount for the best packet received (something which has been done in the past without any trouble). That is, the assumption is that any team playing CO has the ability to write a packet receiving the first level of discounts.
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Re: Packet Discount Policy for Chicago Open Discussion

Postby No Rules Westbrook » Thu Sep 01, 2016 6:44 pm

Speaking as one of the two other co-editors of this CO (hope that's not a spoiler), my major concern is with the regressive nature of this scheme. I like the motivation behind the scheme (even if I share Jerry's skepticism about its efficacy). CO attendance is at an all-time high, and even when the tournament is very hard, we have a community full of less-experienced and less-elite players who are willing and able to play CO these days. I worry that this kind of scheme will be imposing and frustrating to some of them. But, I will say that I'm swayed by many of Sam's points on this front.

I also support a more holistic approach to gauging question quality. I don't have any problem putting in the time to do that; I've done it many times in the past and I think I've been reasonably objective. That said, you might imagine that my definition of what's exciting or creative may or may not coincide with orthodoxy in any given case, which implicates some of the other peccadilloes raised in replies here.

Obviously, the whole Venmo thing is not my bag. I exclusively support gold bullion.
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Re: Packet Discount Policy for Chicago Open Discussion

Postby eliza.grames » Thu Sep 01, 2016 9:31 pm

Sam wrote:
Sima Guang Hater wrote:I'd like to also point out that this fee structure is regressive, in the sense that the more inexperienced teams will undoubtedly be penalized more (since, on average, inexperienced players don't write as well as experienced ones. I'm doing my best to phrase this delicately).

At CO at least it seems like everyone has had some experience with what questions are supposed to look like. I'd be happy with some sort of holistic discounting system for the reason Stephen mentions above, where there's a very steep discount (maybe $60-100) for having a packet that the editors can actually use, another $40 or so for a very, very good packet, then maybe some further discount for the best packet received (something which has been done in the past without any trouble). That is, the assumption is that any team playing CO has the ability to write a packet receiving the first level of discounts.


As someone who has played CO as a relatively "inexperienced" player (I had heard of quiz bowl 2.5 years prior to playing), I think what Ike is suggesting is a truly, truly terrible idea for a number of reasons (the primary two detailed below).'

For background, I played in 2012 with Melanie, Robin, and Foster (who did not write any questions for the packet). We got a $25 discount for submitting the packet early and for submitting a surprisingly un-shitty packet. As much as Eric disliked my packet (read some fucking ecology articles), I want to expand on reasons touched on by Eric and Sam about why this is a regressive fee structure and reasons this is a horrible idea:

1) Reduced field size. As a non-good player who assumes you're gonna accept, oh, I dunno, four(?) questions by me, I would never even consider playing a tournament with this fee structure. Shit, I wouldn't even play ACF Fall if it had this fee structure. Are there likely other people in the same boat? Probably yes. You're gonna reduce the field size and restrict it to only top tier players. Maybe that's your goal, but that seems like a bad plan if you intend to encourage higher levels of quiz bowl. I'm aware that CO is a tournament for more competitive teams and people who are seriously involved in quiz bowl. That said, I think it is important to consider and include teams that are not composed of top tier players. Not to be too blunt, but, someone has to lose CO.

2) Question bias. We're all a bit biased and carry over our assumptions about question writers based on previous judgments. For example, Rob could write a fairly mediocre question and I'd likely accept it as a standard for good question writing simply because Rob wrote it. It seems likely that the editors will take packets submitted by known good writers at face value and will accept those questions without a strict evaluation. A packet submitted by a relatively unknown team will likely be either a) approached with disregard from the get-go, or b) subjected to more scrutiny than a packet submitted by a hypothetical team of say, Rob/Andrew/Carsten/Mike.
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Re: Packet Discount Policy for Chicago Open Discussion

Postby No Rules Westbrook » Thu Sep 01, 2016 10:10 pm

When I've done incentives like this in the past, I've tried to factor in the "experience of the team writing" into my holistic evaluation of the packet. Grade on a curve in some cases, essentially.

But yeah, I'm pretty sympathetic to Eliza's viewpoint here. The number of people willing to play CO seems to have expanded quite a bit recently, and I worry about retarding that.
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Re: Packet Discount Policy for Chicago Open Discussion

Postby Auks Ran Ova » Thu Sep 01, 2016 10:49 pm

No Rules Westbrook wrote:When I've done incentives like this in the past, I've tried to factor in the "experience of the team writing" into my holistic evaluation of the packet. Grade on a curve in some cases, essentially.

But yeah, I'm pretty sympathetic to Eliza's viewpoint here. The number of people willing to play CO seems to have expanded quite a bit recently, and I worry about retarding that.


I agree with this post and second its endorsement of Eliza's post.
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Re: Packet Discount Policy for Chicago Open Discussion

Postby Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Fri Sep 02, 2016 11:09 am

Honestly, I think teams that are mostly new to CO should get a discount in the first place for having the sheer guts to attend the event, but in any case what Ryan is saying makes sense.
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Re: Packet Discount Policy for Chicago Open Discussion

Postby Cheynem » Fri Sep 02, 2016 11:55 am

I'll just throw in my last two cents for now that having worked on CO this year, I was pretty happy with the submissions. I think most teams are really trying to put forth a sincere effort (the big offenders in this case were inexperienced teams, which I can't blame them, and people who just turned in packets super late). It's great to get high quality submissions and I agree we need to do a lot to encourage that, but I don't think the system is fundamentally broken.
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Re: Packet Discount Policy for Chicago Open Discussion

Postby Rufous-capped Thornbill » Fri Sep 02, 2016 1:01 pm

I agree with a lot of what has been said in this thread. The way to increase quality of submissions not only at CO but at every event that takes them is through things like PADAWAN, ACF Fall editing and the (sadly underutilized, I think) ACF feedback program, not strange discounting schemes that will undoubtedly punish the bottom of the CO bracket much more than the top.
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Re: Packet Discount Policy for Chicago Open Discussion

Postby Ike » Fri Sep 02, 2016 2:04 pm

This is a terrible scheme to implement at ACF Fall and don't do it. I don't think anyone is saying that we should, but just in case someone is suggesting that, don't do it.

I too am sympathetic Eliza's point - the problem of this scheme alienating new teams. To clarify, I don't think that the issue is with newer or inexperienced teams, it's with teams who submit tossups they know are too hard and say "It's the editors job to cut the tossup, then!" - which is a sentiment I heard multiple times this Chicago Open weekend. I think devising a scheme that makes it clear "new teams won't be paying exorbitant fees" is important. Aaron Rosenberg suggests that we should try to increase the amount of money we make from Chicago Open. Let's assume that we should try to capture $40 a person for CO 2017. I can promise you this - I will devise a scheme such that if the packet comes in on time, a new team will not pay more than that if they make a good faith submission. This will be clear in the announcement thread.

Also this may be somewhat incidental, but I've heard from some people that they would like to see a stronger field and fewer teams at this tournament and only this tournament. I personally think that we should go for expansion, but if this is something that people are serious about, I want to hear about it.
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Re: Packet Discount Policy for Chicago Open Discussion

Postby Cheynem » Fri Sep 02, 2016 2:37 pm

Would the idea be to cap the field size at CO? How would you determine who should be allowed to play?
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Re: Packet Discount Policy for Chicago Open Discussion

Postby Ike » Fri Sep 02, 2016 3:45 pm

Cheynem wrote:Would the idea be to cap the field size at CO? How would you determine who should be allowed to play?


I don't want to get down this path unless it's what people really want. Someone will get hurt and I see no reason to create any hard feelings unless we have to.
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Re: Packet Discount Policy for Chicago Open Discussion

Postby Cheynem » Fri Sep 02, 2016 4:05 pm

Well, I can't tell if I like the plan unless I have details. I mean, on the surface, I don't think it's good but maybe you have an explanation. It sounds like you're basically suggesting that teams that aren't "good" won't be allowed to play which is basically unheard of at any tournament other than ICT or Nats (and were there actually teams who wanted to go to Nats who weren't allowed?).
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Re: Packet Discount Policy for Chicago Open Discussion

Postby Ike » Fri Sep 02, 2016 5:18 pm

Yeah, and I don't plan on implementing / even thinking of a plan unless we need one because I'm not too happy about the idea.

To be clear, the arguments I heard about restricted field size were a combination of 1.) I want to be able to hear the packet we wrote and 2.) We should try to have more competitive games. I'm sympathetic to both points, but I'd rather focus on getting a larger field size as long as the overall quality of the tournament isn't significantly decreased.
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Re: Packet Discount Policy for Chicago Open Discussion

Postby No Rules Westbrook » Fri Sep 02, 2016 6:02 pm

I have no interest whatsoever in restricting the field size, especially not on the criterion of who is the best team. I'd like to see as many teams as possible play. I love the trend of seeing very young freshman/sophomore based teams willing to come out to CO (with no expectation of the tournament being made any easier, they're just willing to cut their teeth on playing it, I think). We can mess with the schedule to ensure plenty of competitive games in various ways.

As to hearing your packet, I'll say that I think my editing style is different from what's in vogue these days. I've noticed that many regular editors now are becoming increasingly aggressive - they cut questions for all sorts of reasons (minor distributional conflicts, personal preferences, stylistic quibbles, etc.). When I edit CO, if your question is halfway decent/workable and not a repeat, I'll very probably use it.
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Re: Packet Discount Policy for Chicago Open Discussion

Postby theMoMA » Fri Sep 02, 2016 8:35 pm

I'd encourage players who are suggesting a more elitist conception of CO to consider that it's one of the hardest editing jobs in quizbowl, and it pays very little as it is. More teams means more money for the editors, and that's what I want to see.
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Re: Packet Discount Policy for Chicago Open Discussion

Postby Ethnic history of the Vilnius region » Fri Sep 02, 2016 8:47 pm

As someone who usually plays CO on teams that finish in the lower-middle of the field, I'd obviously really be against restricting the field to "good" teams, whatever that means. For one thing, often teams that finish near the bottom of CO are teams that would be pretty darn competitive even somewhere like ACF Nats and certainly at more regional tournaments. There aren't many (if any) bad teams at CO even now. Unless your definition of "bad" is "really good at 95% of other tournaments in the country."

Anyway, the main thing that concerns me about getting shut out of playing Chicago Open is that there aren't all that many quality open tournaments out there. This might sound weird to those who are still in school and are used to playing, like, 10 tournaments a year, but for me, as someone who has been out of regular college quizbowl for 11 years, Chicago Open is truly one of the highlights of the year. Bryn and I always have a great time and even win some matches occasionally. We're no threat to win the whole thing, but we love to play it. Take Chicago Open away and we're basically looking at, like, 1 or 2 quality open events a year, if that.

Moreover, Chicago Open is sort of an incentive for me and maybe some of us other retirees to stay involved in quizbowl. In the years I've been "retired" from quizbowl, I've still stayed involved in the game. I've read at and TDed dozens of college and high school events, written thousands of questions, kept the USC academic team alive and driven them thousands of miles to tournaments all over, spent thousands of dollars on quizbowl, and tried to promote the game whenever I can. Bryn too. No doubt others have done more for the game, but we like to think we've had some positive impact on quizbowl. I love doing this, and one incentive for me to stay involved is knowing that I can play some open tournaments now and then. It sure would be discouraging not to be able to play CO anymore.
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Re: Packet Discount Policy for Chicago Open Discussion

Postby dhumphreys17 » Sat Sep 03, 2016 11:02 am

Ike wrote:Since you'll all be paying me by Venmo for the tournament


I know I have no real horse in this since this is CO, but whatever happened to "THIS NOTE IS LEGAL TENDER FOR ALL DEBTS, PUBLIC AND PRIVATE"?
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Re: Packet Discount Policy for Chicago Open Discussion

Postby idrayer » Sat Sep 03, 2016 11:15 am

dhumphreys17 wrote:
Ike wrote:Since you'll all be paying me by Venmo for the tournament


I know I have no real horse in this since this is CO, but whatever happened to "THIS NOTE IS LEGAL TENDER FOR ALL DEBTS, PUBLIC AND PRIVATE"?


Not a lawyer, but my guess is the same thing that happened that lets food on airplanes be putchased with cards only.
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