The Barbarism of Monetization

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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Postby Cody » Mon May 01, 2017 7:23 pm

Important Bird Area wrote:For the record: Ike is not an NAQT member. While we appreciate the hundreds of questions Ike contributed to the 2017 ICT, he does not speak for NAQT. We did not have any knowledge of this situation until this morning, when Ike contacted me to express his concerns, and we did not ask Ike to convey any messages to third parties.
Subsequent to NAQT's immediate disavowal of Ike's shadow enforcement of their policies, Ike has continued to contact people and browbeat them into paying for ICT. Will NAQT stop people from doing what Ike did and has continued to do?
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Postby Important Bird Area » Mon May 01, 2017 7:41 pm

Cody wrote:Subsequent to NAQT's immediate disavowal of Ike's shadow enforcement of their policies, Ike has continued to contact people and browbeat them into paying for ICT. Will NAQT stop people from doing what Ike did and has continued to do?


For the record: we are not aware of these conversations; if you have concerns about the details, please contact me privately.

There are two legitimate ways to acquire the ICT set: 1) playing the ICT and 2) purchasing the ICT from NAQT as practice material. I don't see why a polite reminder of that fact constitutes "shadow enforcement"; if your concern is about tone rather than content, remember that we have no ability to or interest in tone-policing private conversations among third parties.
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Postby Cody » Mon May 01, 2017 7:47 pm

Important Bird Area wrote:
Cody wrote:Subsequent to NAQT's immediate disavowal of Ike's shadow enforcement of their policies, Ike has continued to contact people and browbeat them into paying for ICT. Will NAQT stop people from doing what Ike did and has continued to do?


For the record: we are not aware of these conversations; if you have concerns about the details, please contact me privately.

There are two legitimate ways to acquire the ICT set: 1) playing the ICT and 2) purchasing the ICT from NAQT as practice material. I don't see why a polite reminder of that fact constitutes "shadow enforcement"; if your concern is about tone rather than content, remember that we have no ability to or interest in tone-policing private conversations among third parties.
What you are saying is that if someone does not obtain a set legitimately, NAQT is perfectly okay with a random person working outside of the strictures of NAQT to enforce their policy, in whatever manner that person chooses ("polite reminder"? as if.)? Even when that person is not a member of NAQT and their actions have been publicly disavowed by NAQT?

Good to know.
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Postby Cheynem » Mon May 01, 2017 7:53 pm

Well, what exactly is Ike doing? If he's like threatening physical violence or lawsuits or something in the name of NAQT, then, yeah NAQT should specifically kibosh that. But if Ike, as a third party, says to another third party, "I don't think you should have this ICT set and I might report you to NAQT or whatever," then, regardless of your feelings on his actions, I don't see what NAQT can or should do about it.
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Postby Cody » Mon May 01, 2017 8:05 pm

Cheynem wrote:Well, what exactly is Ike doing? If he's like threatening physical violence or lawsuits or something in the name of NAQT, then, yeah NAQT should specifically kibosh that. But if Ike, as a third party, says to another third party, "I don't think you should have this ICT set and I might report you to NAQT or whatever," then, regardless of your feelings on his actions, I don't see what NAQT can or should do about it.
Perhaps they might stop a random person off the street from doing their dirty work for them, and, you know, actually handle it professionally.
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Postby Cody » Mon May 01, 2017 8:17 pm

Completely separate from everything I have already posted about in this thread, I would like to revisit Matt Bollinger's point about "the public question archive evens the playing field for competitors to study, for writers to learn, and for editors to check their clues against old tournaments".

It seems to me that the point about NAQT being an undue beneficiary of the wealth of freely available packets has been sorely overlooked. I do not doubt that NAQT has invested an unbelievable amount of time, money, and other resources into growing high school & college quizbowl, and they have returned great results and done a lot of good. I even look forward to mirroring their sets every year!

There is also no doubt that much of NAQT's success stems from people not involved in NAQT, who build circuits on the ground with little to no remuneration. And the wealth of freely available packets at the high school and college level is one of the key factors that has allowed the rapid growth of quizbowl: with some time, some dedication, and a couple intelligent people, any team can get to a baseline level of "good" at quizbowl.

I understand that NAQT is a business and that selling packets is a potentially key source of revenue; that does not mean that their stance on keeping packets private and selling them is only sustainable insofar as there are scores of good, free packet sets widely available.

-----

Again completely separate from the above, I personally find it immoral that NAQT actually sells schools single- and double-digit IS sets, regardless of any specific policies in place to discourage teams from buying those sets. (I am not aware of any policies because I do not buy practice sets. If there are no policies to warn teams about them in place, NAQT should be ashamed.) A few of these sets are okay; after all, IS-98 is from 2010-11. Most of them, however, have as little place at a quizbowl practice as Patrick's Press.

Let's not even mention the page where you supposedly buy college sets, which has the same problem as old IS sets and more.
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Postby Sima Guang Hater » Mon May 01, 2017 8:53 pm

Lots to unpack here.

I want to start by publicly apologizing for a few things.

1. Getting a PDF of ICT 2017
2. Making an otherwise private conversation between Ike and I public.
3. Incorrectly stating that Ike was speaking for NAQT

I'm sorry. There, now that's out of the way...

setht wrote:I propose:
-teams who attend SCT/ICT receive paper copies at the tournament (if they want them)
-NAQT posts the SCT and ICT sets publicly, for free, in early June
-SCT and ICT entry fees are bumped up to compensate for projected loss of revenue (these bumps are independent of other possible bumps due to changes in format and/or general trends of rising prices)


These are all excellent ideas. I also would like electronic copies of all old sets that a given club /already has the rights to/ to be freely distributed to those clubs. This should be something very easy to cross-check, given NAQT's extensive results database.

setht wrote:-the college community commits to the idea that NAQT packet-theft is not okay, and thus gets on board with the idea of actively helping to police it

To be absolutely clear, that last point means "naming names," if it comes down to it. I know very well that we are a community and that the most likely scenario is that people will find out about packet theft being committed by a friend (or at least a well-wisher). In most circumstances I think it's absolutely fine to start out by trying to talk things over with a packet thief; telling them they have to get in touch with NAQT and pay for the set(s) they stole, etc. That is, I don't think the response to every instance of packet theft has to start with reporting to NAQT. (Some sample circumstances where I think "report immediately to NAQT" is the correct response: someone acquiring or sending packets for purposes of cheating; someone trying to sell our questions in their own name.)

It also means helping institute "no packet theft!" as a quizbowl norm—if someone posts on hsqb saying "I don't think it's right that NAQT gets to charge money for practice questions; who's with me?!" I want to see quizbowl luminaries showing up and saying "hey, we as a community have decided that this is in fact okay; we are not with you; if you try to steal packets, we will condemn your actions and report you."


Here's the part that most people will have problems with. To be clear, I am fine with not /personally/ participating in any packet sharing from here on out, as long as legal electronic copies of packets become easy to purchase, and I am fine with /promoting a norm/ of not sharing NAQT packets, including posting about it in the way Seth suggests (in the sense I'll post something like "NAQT needs the revenue from high school packets to keep their operation running" etc).

However, in no way should I be encouraged to participate in what is, for lack of a better term, "snitching" against other members of the community beyond encouraging them to pay for packets they don't have the right to (besides cheating, obviously). The reason why should be obvious from this thread. NAQT's 2015 witch hunt against otherwise upstanding members of the community is what directly led to this situation. Encouraging people to "name names" and do NAQT's dirty work for them created all kinds of division and ill will.

Just look at this situation - I was threatened with not being allowed to participate in a tournament that has absolutely nothing to do with NAQT! My team was threatened with sanctions from ACF! And even when I paid for the set (almost immediately, FYI), I was then repeatedly asked to name the person who sent me the set, even though they had a /legal/ copy of it! I was even told that NAQT would seize private conversations between me and other quizbowlers! Then Jeff's response to this whole thing is to turn a blind eye by saying that NAQT isn't interested in "tone-policing" private conversations (irony) between people, allowing Ike to conveniently act as some Sam-Fisher-like enforcer whose existence can be disavowed.

No, this is not ok, and NAQT needs to speak out against it. If NAQT wants our cooperation about creating new norms against packet theft, then NAQT needs to create new norms about their contractors/employees/non-members behaving like this. If you want justice, it shouldn't be vigilante justice.
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Postby Ike » Mon May 01, 2017 9:37 pm

Cody's allegations are baseless.

Eric has admitted that I wasn't speaking for NAQT during our exchange. After this exchange, I had the following discussions about the people who had copies of ICT-2017.

- It came to my attention that the editors of ACF Nationals 2017 had a copy of the ICT 17, which was acquired from a source (let's call him / her X.) On April 19th, I had a phone conversation with the head of ACF (Jerry Vinokurov) about how I considered it improper for ACF to engage in IP infringement. All subsequent action with regards to this particular case were undertaken by ACF. And speaking not for ACF, ACF should not be actively promoting IP infringement in my view, hence why I had a phone conversation with Jerry.

- Source X later talked to me about packet acquisition. I told him he should just turn himself into NAQT. I followed up with X later about it, he said he was going to let NAQT know in the next day or so -- I never actually followed up with him to "make sure he turned himself in" because I was speaking as a "private citizen."

I certainly don't consider any of these actions to be policing for NAQT. If Cody (or really anyone) has any specific allegations he would like to make, I would like to hear them, otherwise, I think he should withdraw them.
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Postby grapesmoker » Mon May 01, 2017 10:52 pm

Ok, putting my ACF member hat on, here are two things:

My team was threatened with sanctions from ACF!


ACF's structure is pretty amorphous and allows a wide latitude for discretion to the head editor, but just to be clear, no single individual has the authority to speak on behalf of ACF in this manner. The scope of authority for an editor, even the head editor, is generally confined to the stuff that's relevant for producing the set, and the authority of the TD to the stuff involved in running the tournament. Any disciplinary action, should it be called for, would be up for a vote of the membership; any official ACF pronouncements will be communicated with an indication that the membership voted on something.

It came to my attention that the editors of ACF Nationals 2017 had a copy of the ICT 17, which was acquired from a source (let's call him / her X.) On April 19th, I had a phone conversation with the head of ACF (Jerry Vinokurov) about how I considered it improper for ACF to engage in IP infringement. All subsequent action with regards to this particular case were undertaken by ACF. And speaking not for ACF, ACF should not be actively promoting IP infringement in my view, hence why I had a phone conversation with Jerry.


To clarify: I am not "the head" of ACF; I was the Nationals TD. Technically, that position is held by the Nationals head editor, as per our constitution, but it's also mostly ceremonial rather than functional; the "head of ACF" cannot order the organization to do anything and their authority extends to issues relevant to editing Nationals.

Although this is an accurate summary of what happened, I'm not sure what "actions" we're talking about here. Once I found out about this, I verified that this had indeed taken place, contacted Jeff, and offered to have our treasurer send NAQT a check for the cost of the packets, which I've asked him to do. But we never made any disciplinary decisions regarding any teams that may or may not have acquired packets in illicit ways, nor do we have any plans to do so. I communicated to Ike, and I'm communicating it publicly now, that ACF is of course committed to respecting NAQT's intellectual property, and that we will make a policy of not acquiring their packets through back-channels. I think that is the extent of the actions that ACF has taken or will take regarding this matter.
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Postby vcuEvan » Mon May 01, 2017 11:14 pm

setht wrote:To be absolutely clear, that last point means "naming names," if it comes down to it. I know very well that we are a community and that the most likely scenario is that people will find out about packet theft being committed by a friend (or at least a well-wisher). In most circumstances I think it's absolutely fine to start out by trying to talk things over with a packet thief; telling them they have to get in touch with NAQT and pay for the set(s) they stole, etc. That is, I don't think the response to every instance of packet theft has to start with reporting to NAQT. (Some sample circumstances where I think "report immediately to NAQT" is the correct response: someone acquiring or sending packets for purposes of cheating; someone trying to sell our questions in their own name.)

It also means helping institute "no packet theft!" as a quizbowl norm—if someone posts on hsqb saying "I don't think it's right that NAQT gets to charge money for practice questions; who's with me?!" I want to see quizbowl luminaries showing up and saying "hey, we as a community have decided that this is in fact okay; we are not with you; if you try to steal packets, we will condemn your actions and report you."
-Seth


My problem with this is that in proposing the institution of a new quizbowl norm of "no packet sharing", you're blatantly ignoring the much more mainstream and ingrained quizbowl norm of "no packet hoarding". So far, the reasons given for why the community should give NAQT a pass on brazenly violating this cardinal community rule are unconvincing. The reasons "NAQT writers work hard", "NAQT is professional", and "NAQT grows the game" are frankly insulting to the hundreds of people who work really hard to put other tournaments together, to do so professionally, and to conduct outreach.

Of course NAQT is within its rights to carry out its implied threat to sue anyone here who has obtained a copy of their packets. We also have a right as members of this community, and as NAQT customers, to tell NAQT we think their policy sucks. Almost every non-NAQT tournament set in this country is posted publicly after the tournament so that all teams, no matter how rich or poor, can use the set as an aid to get better at the game or to write a tournament of their own. If NAQT really can't survive without violating this basic community norm, I'm not sure that it should.
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Postby Cheynem » Mon May 01, 2017 11:38 pm

Most of what Evan is saying as it applies to the college game makes sense to me...I don't think NAQT is making gigantic profits off of either the college tournaments or selling questions to college teams, and I think they should be probably made available publicly at the end of each year. This also helps college teams that presumably experience far higher degrees of turnover and variability--as people have alluded to, a team may play/purchase various NAQT college sets, but then their ex-president just takes the packets with him or throws them out, and the new team has to start all over (I would presume such turnover is more likely on a college level, which tends to lack coaches).

However, the high school game is a different question. The key difference between NAQT and the rest of the community is that NAQT is a profit-making business (well, I guess HSAPQ is, but it is far more small scale) as opposed to PACE or any number of schools/individuals that housewrite sets. I presume a significant chunk of NAQT's income does come from high school teams purchasing question sets, and that the company/its employees would be hurt if that income were completely removed. I don't have any problem with NAQT keeping these questions behind a paywall, so to speak. The reason why I support this is not because NAQT works hard or helps the game but because its employees (of which I'm one) expect to earn money off of their labor, particularly if this labor is a major source of their income (and I would guess only NAQT among any mainstream producers of HS or college questions can claim to have anything close to members/staffers using quizbowl as a major income source).

Part of the problem is that people are operating on different ideas of what quizbowl is--a community activity/game or a business, I guess. The community norm of "no packet hoarding" is a fine one, to me, particularly in college, but it also contrasts with a business model. The film industry and music industry encountered this problem as they ran into bootleg/pirated films and music, and in general, it seems like they solved the problem by confronting the issue head on rather than constantly trying to shut things down. That said, I don't know if quizbowl NetFlix or ITunes could work.
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Postby Important Bird Area » Tue May 02, 2017 12:01 am

vcuEvan wrote:My problem with this is that in proposing the institution of a new quizbowl norm of "no packet sharing", you're blatantly ignoring the much more mainstream and ingrained quizbowl norm of "no packet hoarding". So far, the reasons given for why the community should give NAQT a pass on brazenly violating this cardinal community rule are unconvincing. The reasons "NAQT writers work hard", "NAQT is professional", and "NAQT grows the game" are frankly insulting to the hundreds of people who work really hard to put other tournaments together, to do so professionally, and to conduct outreach.

Of course NAQT is within its rights to carry out its implied threat to sue anyone here who has obtained a copy of their packets. We also have a right as members of this community, and as NAQT customers, to tell NAQT we think their policy sucks. Almost every non-NAQT tournament set in this country is posted publicly after the tournament so that all teams, no matter how rich or poor, can use the set as an aid to get better at the game or to write a tournament of their own. If NAQT really can't survive without violating this basic community norm, I'm not sure that it should.


As Mike notes, college quizbowl and high school quizbowl operate in very different economic environments.

It's quite straightforward to come up with a proposal for making SCT and ICT packets available as free downloads for only a modest increase in tournament registration fees (as Seth has done upthread).

High school quizbowl works very differently, as there has always been a substantial sales volume of practice questions. A financial structure in which NAQT posted its archive of high school practice questions would, of necessity, require a very substantial increase in tournament-hosting fees. (And that, in turn, would undercut our shared goals of expanding the game- higher fees for tournament registration hurt new teams directly at their first point of contact before we even consider the issue of "what questions will this team practice on in the future?")
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Postby Important Bird Area » Tue May 02, 2017 12:07 am

Cody wrote:Again completely separate from the above, I personally find it immoral that NAQT actually sells schools single- and double-digit IS sets, regardless of any specific policies in place to discourage teams from buying those sets. (I am not aware of any policies because I do not buy practice sets. If there are no policies to warn teams about them in place, NAQT should be ashamed.) A few of these sets are okay; after all, IS-98 is from 2010-11. Most of them, however, have as little place at a quizbowl practice as Patrick's Press.

Let's not even mention the page where you supposedly buy college sets, which has the same problem as old IS sets and more.


For the record, our standard procedure for providing practice questions is to send the team the most recent set (of the requested format and difficulty) that they have not yet heard. Our sales page lists the most recent questions first so that access to the older archive requires clicking a link (for Invitational Series questions, this means that we currently list the last three competition years followed by click to "show 127 more sets").

(If a customer orders very old questions, we will actively encourage them to substitute newer questions of the same style.)
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Postby vcuEvan » Tue May 02, 2017 12:13 am

Important Bird Area wrote:As Mike notes, college quizbowl and high school quizbowl operate in very different economic environments.

It's quite straightforward to come up with a proposal for making SCT and ICT packets available as free downloads for only a modest increase in tournament registration fees (as Seth has done upthread).

High school quizbowl works very differently, as there has always been a substantial sales volume of practice questions. A financial structure in which NAQT posted its archive of high school practice questions would, of necessity, require a very substantial increase in tournament-hosting fees. (And that, in turn, would undercut our shared goals of expanding the game- higher fees for tournament registration hurt new teams directly at their first point of contact before we even consider the issue of "what questions will this team practice on in the future?")


I guess I wasn't clear that my problem is with the Shkrelian gouging of poor teams for practice questions they need to compete, when every other organization in quizbowl provides questions free of charge. The fact that somehow this bad practice is necessary to your business model doesn't really make it not bad.
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Postby Auks Ran Ova » Tue May 02, 2017 1:08 am

vcuEvan wrote:I guess I wasn't clear that my problem is with the Shkrelian gouging of poor teams for practice questions they need to compete, when every other organization in quizbowl provides questions free of charge. The fact that somehow this bad practice is necessary to your business model doesn't really make it not bad.

Oh come on, man, this is stupid. Will a ladder be sufficient for you to get down off that high horse or are we going to need a crane? "NAQT should voluntarily torpedo a major source of revenue because it displeases me, the moral paragon" is not a position conducive to further discussion, and it hardly seems worth torpedoing the potential progress Jeff and Seth have indicated are possible with this sort of pointless extremism.

setht wrote:
DumbJaques wrote:let's have a conversation among the community and with NAQT, figure out what the costs/concerns are about going to some sort of free (or at the very least, e-copy) model for the two collegiate sets only, and see if we can figure out a solution that's better for the community.


I wanted to check back in on this—did anyone want to discuss this matter further (whether or not my proposal seems worth consideration)?

-Seth


I do indeed think this proposal is worth considering and would be interested in hearing some cost projections for various options (releasing both SCT/ICT sets, releasing only the DI sets, releasing older years as well, releasing only older years, etc.)
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Postby Auks Ran Ova » Tue May 02, 2017 1:22 am

Cheynem wrote:Most of what Evan is saying as it applies to the college game makes sense to me...I don't think NAQT is making gigantic profits off of either the college tournaments or selling questions to college teams, and I think they should be probably made available publicly at the end of each year. This also helps college teams that presumably experience far higher degrees of turnover and variability--as people have alluded to, a team may play/purchase various NAQT college sets, but then their ex-president just takes the packets with him or throws them out, and the new team has to start all over (I would presume such turnover is more likely on a college level, which tends to lack coaches).

However, the high school game is a different question. The key difference between NAQT and the rest of the community is that NAQT is a profit-making business (well, I guess HSAPQ is, but it is far more small scale) as opposed to PACE or any number of schools/individuals that housewrite sets. I presume a significant chunk of NAQT's income does come from high school teams purchasing question sets, and that the company/its employees would be hurt if that income were completely removed. I don't have any problem with NAQT keeping these questions behind a paywall, so to speak. The reason why I support this is not because NAQT works hard or helps the game but because its employees (of which I'm one) expect to earn money off of their labor, particularly if this labor is a major source of their income (and I would guess only NAQT among any mainstream producers of HS or college questions can claim to have anything close to members/staffers using quizbowl as a major income source).

Part of the problem is that people are operating on different ideas of what quizbowl is--a community activity/game or a business, I guess. The community norm of "no packet hoarding" is a fine one, to me, particularly in college, but it also contrasts with a business model. The film industry and music industry encountered this problem as they ran into bootleg/pirated films and music, and in general, it seems like they solved the problem by confronting the issue head on rather than constantly trying to shut things down. That said, I don't know if quizbowl NetFlix or ITunes could work.

I also fully endorse this post, not least because I too am excited by the prospect of being able to devote more time to quizbowl work, which I really care about, while simultaneously remaining able to afford things like rent and food. Quizbowl can't continue expanding on an exclusively volunteer/labor-of-love basis forever, and absent huge donations from rich alumni (or a UBI, but that's more of a non-quizbowl solution) the money to pay people fairly for their work has to come from somewhere.
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Postby vcuEvan » Tue May 02, 2017 1:29 am

Auks Ran Ova wrote:Oh come on, man, this is stupid. Will a ladder be sufficient for you to get down off that high horse or are we going to need a crane? "NAQT should voluntarily torpedo a major source of revenue because it displeases me, the moral paragon" is not a position conducive to further discussion, and it hardly seems worth torpedoing the potential progress Jeff and Seth have indicated are possible with this sort of pointless extremism.


No, Rob, I think there's more to discuss here. Every other good quizbowl question provider has voluntarily torpedoed this major source of revenue, not because it displeases me, but because it's good for the community for the reasons that have been repeated over and over again in this thread. This "major source of revenue" does not come out of thin air either; there is an exactly corresponding financial burden on the teams that buy these questions. That's money that would otherwise be spent on quizbowl: maybe on more buzzer systems, or on attending other quizbowl tournaments, or on other things that make the wider quizbowl economy work. I really am curious why you and so many others in this thread subscribe to this notion that NAQT can sit out norms that we expect everyone else to follow.
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Postby Important Bird Area » Tue May 02, 2017 1:53 am

(In this post I am not speaking for NAQT, although this post will refer to NAQT policies)

vcuEvan wrote:Shkrelian gouging of poor teams


I think this is a very bad analogy. Martin Shkreli's raising of prices on pharmaceuticals is seen as a moral violation because the drugs are necessary to prevent chronic, perhaps fatal, illness. Exactly how fast a quizbowl team gets better at quizbowl is much less pressing as a moral issue.

But before we even get there, I think this analogy fails as a description of how the existing quizbowl community deals with practice questions. Why, exactly, does a poor team need to buy practice questions to compete? Obviously, the set of available non-NAQT practice questions is a diverse one, but it should be somewhere between these two alternatives:

Case 1) "Many questions freely posted by other question providers are of high quality; they are good practice material for new teams preparing to compete at NAQT's flagship events."

(In this case, the team is free to use good-quality non-NAQT questions at its practices for free, and save its scarce money to pay for other things, like buzzers or travel or tournament registration fees.)

Case 2) "Many questions freely posted by other question providers are of low quality; they would not do a good job of preparing a new team to compete at higher levels of play."

(In this case, if the team buys NAQT practice questions, they are getting substantial value in return for the money they freely choose to spend. Where's the moral violation?)
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Postby Important Bird Area » Tue May 02, 2017 2:09 am

(speaking for NAQT again)

vcuEvan wrote:No, Rob, I think there's more to discuss here. Every other good quizbowl question provider has voluntarily torpedoed this major source of revenue, not because it displeases me, but because it's good for the community for the reasons that have been repeated over and over again in this thread. This "major source of revenue" does not come out of thin air either; there is an exactly corresponding financial burden on the teams that buy these questions. That's money that would otherwise be spent on quizbowl: maybe on more buzzer systems, or on attending other quizbowl tournaments, or on other things that make the wider quizbowl economy work. I really am curious why you and so many others in this thread subscribe to this notion that NAQT can sit out norms that we expect everyone else to follow.


Considering the economics of this:

Right now NAQT:

charges tournament fees (both for the use of our questions at local events and for our national championships) of x dollars

and

charges for practice question sales of y dollars

An oversimplified model of NAQT's gross revenue would be x+y.


Suppose for the moment that we decided to stop selling practice questions for 2017-18 and post our entire archive for free download.

Options going forward would be:

-NAQT raises tournament fees to x+y. (This is a reasonable financial model, but it doesn't actually address Evan's moral concern, because it just changes the identity of which question sets would involve "Shkrelian gouging of poor teams.")

-NAQT keeps tournament fees constant at x. (In which case NAQT's writers, editors, and logisticians unilaterally decide to take a pay cut because other quizbowl organizations have different payment structures.)

We're quite confident that both of those cases would be bad outcomes having an adverse effect on the quizbowl community going forward.

(The "unilateral pay cut" side is straightforward: it would be harder for us to sustain high-quality writing, editing, and administrative work if a bunch of our current contributors left for other jobs.)

(For the "new sets should have higher prices so the archive can be free" side: keep in mind that NAQT is a business, and that Evan's comparison set of "every other good quizbowl question provider" is not equivalent to the entire set of our competitors. I won't name names, but we regularly compete for tournament hosting against question providers that many observers on this forum would not consider "good quizbowl." Some of those question providers offer tournament hosting at very, very low prices because they engage in practices this community would consider unacceptable- as an example, recycling single-clue tossups from previous years.)
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Postby vcuEvan » Tue May 02, 2017 2:13 am

Important Bird Area wrote:(In this post I am not speaking for NAQT, although this post will refer to NAQT policies)

vcuEvan wrote:Shkrelian gouging of poor teams


I think this is a very bad analogy. Martin Shkreli's raising of prices on pharmaceuticals is seen as a moral violation because the drugs are necessary to prevent chronic, perhaps fatal, illness. Exactly how fast a quizbowl team gets better at quizbowl is much less pressing as a moral issue.


Sure, that's probably in bad taste, I apologize.

Important Bird Area wrote:But before we even get there, I think this analogy fails as a description of how the existing quizbowl community deals with practice questions. Why, exactly, does a poor team need to buy practice questions to compete? Obviously, the set of available non-NAQT practice questions is a diverse one, but it should be somewhere between these two alternatives:

Case 1) "Many questions freely posted by other question providers are of high quality; they are good practice material for new teams preparing to compete at NAQT's flagship events."

(In this case, the team is free to use good-quality non-NAQT questions at its practices for free, and save its scarce money to pay for other things, like buzzers or travel or tournament registration fees.)

Case 2) "Many questions freely posted by other question providers are of low quality; they would not do a good job of preparing a new team to compete at higher levels of play."

(In this case, if the team buys NAQT practice questions, they are getting substantial value in return for the money they freely choose to spend. Where's the moral violation?)


This has been discussed upthread, but it's Case 3) "Many questions freely posted by other question providers are of high quality; they are good practice material for new teams preparing to compete at non-NAQT events, but because NAQT is so unique in terms of question length, style, subdistribution, etc., those freely posted questions are not the best practice material for the NAQT tournaments; so that only old NAQT questions truly prepare teams."

(In this case, the team still has to spend its money on NAQT questions to be on the same playing field as the other teams at NAQT tournaments.)

Besides, I never argued that teams aren't getting substantial value in return for the money they spend. They are, because they won't be as competitive at HSNCT without them. Instead the argument has always been that teams should be able to access those benefits without spending their money, which is the same deal they get from every other question provider that is not NAQT.
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Postby Progcon » Tue May 02, 2017 2:27 am

I too think that it's a little too hasty to compare Shkreli and NAQT's policies, but I think what Evan Adams is saying has some truth to it. New or less experienced teams are put at a disadvantage compared to the established teams on NAQT questions more so than on non-NAQT questions. Mike Cheyne is entirely right that a lot of this has to do with the high turnover in many--if not most--collegiate programs. As an example, when I got to MSU we had 0 NAQT questions to study from at all and the only questions I have now are like 2 years of SCTs I have stuffed in one of my desk drawers. I was told by an NAQT representative at ICT where I hung out with MSU's DII team that I could get the ICT packets electronically if I emailed and I think is a much-needed solution (I have actually yet to do this). If I could have a private archive of all the NAQT sets we have played on, and payed to play on, it would be easier to reference when writing questions and to study from. This has been repeated numerous times up-thread but I thought I'd reiterate.

I think the view express in the previous paragraph would be a boon to all programs, and, as others have mentioned, I wouldn't have an issue with NAQT regritation fees rising a modest amount if we can get electronic questions for tournaments we or our university have/has played sent to us upon request and a reasonable amount of past SCT D1 and ICT D1 sets uploaded to the NAQT website. I think even 3 years would suffice for practice materials. This greatly increases convenience on the club end because some clubs such as ours do not have a permanent storage space at our universities and survive based on how committed a handful of students are. After I leave, giving someone a flashdrive with a bunch of NAQT questions on it would be very convenient.

I believe it was Chris Ray who brought this up, but I'd like to ask NAQT how much, relatively are they making by selling old SCT and ICT sets? I never really thought about buying any of them given we usually just read non-NAQT sets in practice and I don't think that really hurt us all that much this year at SCT. Yes, NAQT has a couple of pet categories and answerlines that come up more, but if we had studied a NAQT super intently, I feel it would have made a marginal difference at best. Is it mostly brand new collegiate and community college teams that purchase questions or does a lot of the revenue come from established teams? I'm just looking at it, and it would seem the demand for NAQT college questions would be dwarfed by the demand for NAQT high school questions given that some high school only play NAQT at invitational tournaments, the size of the HNSCT, SSNCT fields, etc. Finally: an obvious implication of NAQT putting up past question sets is a rise in registration fees. I think we all agree on this. Would this apply to things like NAQT collegiate novice tournaments (where I'd think there would be very little interest in buying practice questions for) in addition to SCT and ICT? How much in percent terms does NAQT think the registration fees need to go up to cover the lost revenue of selling questions? To use MSU as a example: we receive 0 university funding so I often have to decided how many teams to bring to a tournament based on observable costs like registration fees. I'm not sure we'd bring 2 teams to SCT every year if it cost 225 bucks a team when you factor in gas and hotel.

I think getting into the "snitch"/witchhunt debate is a little silly, but I'll just say this: if NAQT put recent questions out there and you give teams the questions they played on and bought, the incentive to get them from a friend for free goes down. This means that NAQT will have to waste less time trying to convince people to rat out their friends which seems like a good thing to me. Call me unconvinced that trying to strongarm people into tattling on their friends is an effective method of policing the proliferation of an electronic document.

That all said: thank you NAQT for offering to have a transparent conversation with the community. There seems to be a lot of common ground with some of these suggestions and I'd think we can come to a good consensus.
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Postby Important Bird Area » Tue May 02, 2017 2:39 am

vcuEvan wrote:
Important Bird Area wrote:(In this post I am not speaking for NAQT, although this post will refer to NAQT policies)

vcuEvan wrote:Shkrelian gouging of poor teams


I think this is a very bad analogy. Martin Shkreli's raising of prices on pharmaceuticals is seen as a moral violation because the drugs are necessary to prevent chronic, perhaps fatal, illness. Exactly how fast a quizbowl team gets better at quizbowl is much less pressing as a moral issue.


Sure, that's probably in bad taste, I apologize.


Thank you, I appreciate that.

vcuEvan wrote:the argument has always been that teams should be able to access those benefits without spending their money, which is the same deal they get from every other question provider that is not NAQT.


We're well aware that making more questions freely available is a benefit that many teams would appreciate; we're not convinced that anyone has a good plan for how the costs of making that happen should be shifted in a way that is still beneficial to the community.
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Postby Important Bird Area » Tue May 02, 2017 2:41 am

Progcon wrote:I was told by an NAQT representative at ICT where I hung out with MSU's DII team that I could get the ICT packets electronically if I emailed and I think is a much-needed solution (I have actually yet to do this).


For the record, our policy is not actual electronic distribution. If teams don't pick up their packets at our national championships, we offer to send them a paper copy for the cost of shipping.
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Postby Auks Ran Ova » Tue May 02, 2017 2:55 am

Important Bird Area wrote:
vcuEvan wrote:
Important Bird Area wrote:(In this post I am not speaking for NAQT, although this post will refer to NAQT policies)

vcuEvan wrote:Shkrelian gouging of poor teams


I think this is a very bad analogy. Martin Shkreli's raising of prices on pharmaceuticals is seen as a moral violation because the drugs are necessary to prevent chronic, perhaps fatal, illness. Exactly how fast a quizbowl team gets better at quizbowl is much less pressing as a moral issue.


Sure, that's probably in bad taste, I apologize.


Thank you, I appreciate that.

vcuEvan wrote:the argument has always been that teams should be able to access those benefits without spending their money, which is the same deal they get from every other question provider that is not NAQT.


We're well aware that making more questions freely available is a benefit that many teams would appreciate; we're not convinced that anyone has a good plan for how the costs of making that happen should be shifted in a way that is still beneficial to the community.


I've been dithering over another post for a bit, but Evan's apology for the Shkreli thing has obviated the need for me to call him more names and Jeff's posts have fairly well covered my own views. I'd like to add to Jeff's final point above that it's very important to remember that writers, editors, and the like are a vital part of the community since, obviously, without their work there would be no good quizbowl for teams to play. These people absolutely should be compensated fairly for their work (not least since, unlike the college circuit*, the high school circuit would have serious trouble sustaining itself on people writing out of labor-of-love obligation or out of a desire to become better players), and charging a fairly nominal price the market seems perfectly willing to bear in order to help secure this compensation seems to be far from the most evil business decision imaginable. That said, if you're willing to kick in thousands of dollars a year to maintain adequate compensation of producers while freeing the high school circuit from the burden of possibly having to pay for some of the available practice questions, I'm personally all ears (and open hands).

*the college circuit as a whole would also benefit from better compensation, of course! In this thread, NAQT has made it pretty clear that they're willing to work with the college circuit to increase access to its college sets, which are as relatively small in number as the college circuit is in size, since the goodwill and utility gained in doing so would seem to vastly outweigh the financial issues.
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Postby vcuEvan » Tue May 02, 2017 3:15 am

Important Bird Area wrote:Options going forward would be:
-NAQT raises tournament fees to x+y. (This is a reasonable financial model, but it doesn't actually address Evan's moral concern, because it just changes the identity of which question sets would involve "Shkrelian gouging of poor teams.")


I think this is the best option. As a whole, teams are paying the same amount of money for quizbowl. This system ends the kind of icky notion that HSNCT is play-to-win to the extent old packets help your team (they do). It allows the cost of putting on an NAQT tournament to be reflected in the cost of admission, the same as it is for other tournaments. NAQT's exemplary writers, editors, and shareholders do not have to take a paycut. And finally NAQT joins the community of contributors to the free packet archive instead of continuing to free-ride.
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Postby Cody » Tue May 02, 2017 8:09 am

Important Bird Area wrote:Options going forward would be:
-NAQT raises tournament fees to x+y. (This is a reasonable financial model, but it doesn't actually address Evan's moral concern, because it just changes the identity of which question sets would involve "Shkrelian gouging of poor teams.")
Perhaps while we're at it, we can dispel the bullshit notion that many hosts of NAQT tournaments aren't already being charged x+y! (NAQT-run events are another stort of course.) Being forced to print packets for teams that attend their events presents a high, hidden y cost for most hosts. I'd bet well over half of hosts have to spend money, and the others have to spend lots of time. (You could even do...a survey.)

In fact, being charged x+y would be a lot more fair of NAQT since hosts will always know up front exactly how much they need to charge teams attending their events.
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Postby Cheynem » Tue May 02, 2017 8:30 am

I'm somewhat confused how "X+Y" is any less "immoral" than the current system of "X, and + Y if you want the packets." If a team couldn't afford Y (buying the practice sets), wouldn't this in theory prevent more teams from attending X?
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Postby vcuEvan » Tue May 02, 2017 8:58 am

Cheynem wrote:I'm somewhat confused how "X+Y" is any less "immoral" than the current system of "X, and + Y if you want the packets." If a team couldn't afford Y (buying the practice sets), wouldn't this in theory prevent more teams from attending X?


Although Jeff and Rob have characterized my arguments as "moral" arguments, that's not really what they're about and I certainly never used that word.

NAQT has its costs to produce questions. Those costs are high and it's clear NAQT is not going to reduce them. I think given that it's been made clear that making "X+Y" cheaper is a non-starter, building "X+Y" into the cost of attending a tournament is the next best option. All this does is transfer the burden of "Y" from the teams that are currently buying packets to the the universe of teams that play NAQT events. Because you get the packets from attending an NAQT tournament, presumably the teams that are buying these packets right now are the new teams without an institutional history. Charging "X+Y" to play a tournament, shifts this burden to the entire field of NAQT participants. It also has the DOZENS of positive side effects that have been elucidated in this thread, such as packet availability despite institutional turnover, lack of storage space required, being able to read on a laptop, reducing hosting costs, not requiring friends to police eachother, environmental impact, etc. These benefits are especially relevant in the world of high school questions.

Again, although maybe there's some confusion here because the costs of producing other quizbowl sets is so much lower, the other question providers have already made this decision. We decided we don't want a pay-to-win game, where the team that's been around forever or the team with the most money to buy packets on the market has a structural advantage over newer teams with fewer resources. So we started charging "X+Y" for tournaments and making our questions freely available. Correct me if I'm wrong Jeff, but I think NAQT would not like a world in which a team with no money would not have any questions to practice on: that's why they link to the packet archive on their website.
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Postby Cody » Tue May 02, 2017 9:28 am

Yes, I can see exactly how baseless my allegations that, unsanctioned by NAQT and without their knowledge, you have taken it upon yourself to enforce their policies.

Ike wrote:Cody's allegations are baseless.

Eric has admitted that I wasn't speaking for NAQT during our exchange. After this exchange, I had the following discussions about the people who had copies of ICT-2017.

- It came to my attention that the editors of ACF Nationals 2017 had a copy of the ICT 17, which was acquired from a source (let's call him / her X.) On April 19th, I had a phone conversation with the head of ACF (Jerry Vinokurov) about how I considered it improper for ACF to engage in IP infringement. All subsequent action with regards to this particular case were undertaken by ACF. And speaking not for ACF, ACF should not be actively promoting IP infringement in my view, hence why I had a phone conversation with Jerry.

- Source X later talked to me about packet acquisition. I told him he should just turn himself into NAQT. I followed up with X later about it, he said he was going to let NAQT know in the next day or so -- I never actually followed up with him to "make sure he turned himself in" because I was speaking as a "private citizen."

I certainly don't consider any of these actions to be policing for NAQT. If Cody (or really anyone) has any specific allegations he would like to make, I would like to hear them, otherwise, I think he should withdraw them.

-----

Let us set aside any IP issues with the NAQT license, for a minute. I present a question that I'm sure Ike did not consider in his overzealous policing for NAQT: what is the sine qua non of buying NAQT questions? Were I to go to the NAQT website, I would be presented the option to "buy practice questions" for college, and eventually find myself on a page with more high school sets than college sets which states: "NAQT sells tournament questions from previous years as practice material..."

I would argue that the answer is very clear: you buy packets from NAQT at the cost on their website so that your institution (or you) will have a perpetual license to practice on them. It also seems to me that the only reason the ACF Nationals editors would want ICT is to make sure no badly repeated clues or question topics appeared between the two tournaments. No matter your views on how strictly the NAQT license should be enforced, these two actions are fundamentally different. Perhaps a more reasonable person would've understood and made the distinction.
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Postby AKKOLADE » Tue May 02, 2017 9:47 am

I just wanted to chime in that the idea that questions previously bought by a program should be made available to that program into the future makes a lot of sense and would be a basic thing for NAQT to do. Even if NAQT didn't want to make these questions available electronically, they should offer a reprinting at or close to cost. This would benefit the circuit and NAQT; teams would be ensured access to things they've rightfully purchased into the future regardless of possible mistakes or misaction by individual members, and NAQT would be providing a basic service to their teams that would increase the level of play by making rightfully acquired practice material available to their competitors.
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Postby Victor Prieto » Tue May 02, 2017 10:38 am

AKKOLADE wrote:I just wanted to chime in that the idea that questions previously bought by a program should be made available to that program into the future makes a lot of sense and would be a basic thing for NAQT to do. Even if NAQT didn't want to make these questions available electronically, they should offer a reprinting at or close to cost. This would benefit the circuit and NAQT; teams would be ensured access to things they've rightfully purchased into the future regardless of possible mistakes or misaction by individual members, and NAQT would be providing a basic service to their teams that would increase the level of play by making rightfully acquired practice material available to their competitors.


I believe NAQT already does this. Earlier in this thread:

The Ununtiable Twine wrote:
Charbroil wrote:A couple of people have mentioned having to buy copies of old sets their teams played that got misplaced. Does NAQT not provide replacement copies for free? I'm just wondering since my high school team forgot to pick up its copy of the 2009 HSNCT set at the tournament itself, and when I asked about it a few months later, NAQT was kind enough to send me a copy for just the $10 shipping fee. Also, when we bought the NAQT frequency lists for the WUSTL team last year, Chad looked first to see if we'd already bought it in the past, which seems to imply that we would have gotten it for free (or at least, at a discount) if we'd already purchased it before.

If my memory isn't failing me, I'm fairly certain this has been the policy for quite some time.
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Postby Important Bird Area » Tue May 02, 2017 12:17 pm

Cody wrote:
Important Bird Area wrote:Options going forward would be:
-NAQT raises tournament fees to x+y. (This is a reasonable financial model, but it doesn't actually address Evan's moral concern, because it just changes the identity of which question sets would involve "Shkrelian gouging of poor teams.")
Perhaps while we're at it, we can dispel the bullshit notion that many hosts of NAQT tournaments aren't already being charged x+y! (NAQT-run events are another stort of course.) Being forced to print packets for teams that attend their events presents a high, hidden y cost for most hosts. I'd bet well over half of hosts have to spend money, and the others have to spend lots of time. (You could even do...a survey.)

In fact, being charged x+y would be a lot more fair of NAQT since hosts will always know up front exactly how much they need to charge teams attending their events.


Worth separating out some of these issues.

Even if, in the future, NAQT transitioned to a model that featured one or both of electronic distribution of practice questions or practice questions distributed for free, I consider it very unlikely that we would make current-year tournament questions available electronically (which poses very substantial security problems).
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Postby Cody » Tue May 02, 2017 12:43 pm

Important Bird Area wrote:Worth separating out some of these issues.

Even if, in the future, NAQT transitioned to a model that featured one or both of electronic distribution of practice questions or practice questions distributed for free, I consider it very unlikely that we would make current-year tournament questions available electronically (which poses very substantial security problems).
Yes, but there would be no need to distribute questions to teams before the year was done (and thus no need for hosts to print them) if the sets were made available at year's end. I don't distribute packets from a housewrite to teams; teams wait until packets are posted on the packet archives at the end of the mirroring period.
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Postby vinteuil » Tue May 02, 2017 12:47 pm

Important Bird Area wrote:Even if, in the future, NAQT transitioned to a model that featured one or both of electronic distribution of practice questions or practice questions distributed for free, I consider it very unlikely that we would make current-year tournament questions available electronically (which poses very substantial security problems).

Aren't all NAQT college sets run on the same day?
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Postby Important Bird Area » Tue May 02, 2017 12:48 pm

Cody wrote:
Important Bird Area wrote:Worth separating out some of these issues.

Even if, in the future, NAQT transitioned to a model that featured one or both of electronic distribution of practice questions or practice questions distributed for free, I consider it very unlikely that we would make current-year tournament questions available electronically (which poses very substantial security problems).
Yes, but there would be no need to distribute questions to teams before the year was done (and thus no need for hosts to print them) if the sets were made available at year's end. I don't distribute packets from a housewrite to teams; teams wait until packets are posted on the packet archives at the end of the mirroring period.


The electronic copies sent out to the moderators at paperless tournaments are also a security problem. (This is not hypothetical; it has happened before.)
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Postby Important Bird Area » Tue May 02, 2017 12:52 pm

vinteuil wrote:
Important Bird Area wrote:Even if, in the future, NAQT transitioned to a model that featured one or both of electronic distribution of practice questions or practice questions distributed for free, I consider it very unlikely that we would make current-year tournament questions available electronically (which poses very substantial security problems).

Aren't all NAQT college sets run on the same day?


No (consider CCCT and the numerous spring high school events using elements of the SCT and ICT sets). This is why we have private forums for both SCT and ICT.
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Postby Cheynem » Tue May 02, 2017 12:52 pm

No, the SCT and ICT sets get used for different things at later dates.

EDIT: Jeff beat me.
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Postby Cody » Tue May 02, 2017 1:03 pm

Important Bird Area wrote:
Cody wrote:
Important Bird Area wrote:Worth separating out some of these issues.

Even if, in the future, NAQT transitioned to a model that featured one or both of electronic distribution of practice questions or practice questions distributed for free, I consider it very unlikely that we would make current-year tournament questions available electronically (which poses very substantial security problems).
Yes, but there would be no need to distribute questions to teams before the year was done (and thus no need for hosts to print them) if the sets were made available at year's end. I don't distribute packets from a housewrite to teams; teams wait until packets are posted on the packet archives at the end of the mirroring period.


The electronic copies sent out to the moderators at paperless tournaments are also a security problem. (This is not hypothetical; it has happened before.)
I understand this is a serious issue, but c'mon Jeff. This is a security problem that has been present for every single set produced by everyone not named NAQT for the last 10+ years. Yet, we do not see scores of cheating incidents every year. (And the most recent incident....involved NAQT questions!) It is a solvable problem.
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Postby Aaron's Rod » Tue May 02, 2017 1:59 pm

Cheynem wrote:No, the SCT and ICT sets get used for different things at later dates.

EDIT: Jeff beat me.

Ever earlier I linked to and wrote:
cchiego wrote:The problem right now, illustrated by packet-trading that resulted in cheating scandals in the not-so-distant past, is that there are more and more uses of the same questions around the country resulting in greater challenges for question security. The fewer packets floating around out there electronically and in paper copies, the lower the likelihood security gets breached by the bad apples out there. Short of going to some kind of SAT-style "all uses of this set must be on X day" (which would be a complete logistical nightmare), I'd be curious about ways to help abate the electronic cheating potential while also making these tournaments more user-friendly.

This is why this is sort of a uniquely collegiate issue–-surely the comparatively small number of tournaments that use SCT questions not on that day can find another set next, or in other, years?


Anyways, I think a lot of the speculation here about whether a team that can afford/budget for X but not Y will pay for X+Y can be solved very simply: NAQT should just price out roughly what "X+Y" is and (as Cody suggested for hosts) survey teams/institutions. I took the briefest of peeks at the ICT survey and remember being impressed with how thorough it was; it inquired not just about ICT costs but also cost vs. other priorities. I think surveying programs that have sent teams to any SCT or ICT (or even any NAQT-style collegiate event) in the past few years would be really productive. I'd imagine that some of people/programs whose presence would be most threatened by a price increase of Y aren't reading this thread.
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Postby vcuEvan » Tue May 02, 2017 2:23 pm

Important Bird Area wrote:High school quizbowl works very differently, as there has always been a substantial sales volume of practice questions. A financial structure in which NAQT posted its archive of high school practice questions would, of necessity, require a very substantial increase in tournament-hosting fees. (And that, in turn, would undercut our shared goals of expanding the game- higher fees for tournament registration hurt new teams directly at their first point of contact before we even consider the issue of "what questions will this team practice on in the future?")


Important Bird Area wrote:(speaking for NAQT again)
(For the "new sets should have higher prices so the archive can be free" side: keep in mind that NAQT is a business, and that Evan's comparison set of "every other good quizbowl question provider" is not equivalent to the entire set of our competitors. I won't name names, but we regularly compete for tournament hosting against question providers that many observers on this forum would not consider "good quizbowl." Some of those question providers offer tournament hosting at very, very low prices because they engage in practices this community would consider unacceptable- as an example, recycling single-clue tossups from previous years.)


I realize I didn't really respond to these points in endorsing the "new sets should have higher prices so the archive can be free" approach, but I also think there's a lot of vagueness here that makes it hard to understand the magnitude of these problems. Maybe you can't provide exact information, but I'd be really curious about the following two factual issues:

First, approximately how much would NAQT tournament fees have to increase to account for the loss of packet sales?

Second, we agreed above that the nature of such a change would be spreading the costs from a certain segment of NAQT's customer base to a much wider pool of tournament attendees. So we know the latter group, but I think it's really important to know about which teams are in the former segment. Are they new, outreach-target type teams that have not acquired questions over the years because they haven't been around to go to NAQT tournaments? Are they savvy schools that are buying the packets to gain a competitive edge against poorer opponents? Or are they just established teams that have forgotten they attended a certain tournament back in the day and/or don't know they are entitled to the questions? Are they the teams that are too honest to pirate the questions? Obviously these are extremes, but it'd be good to know approximately who is currently bearing the cost we've labelled "Y" right now.

Jeff, this is a proposed shift of costs, not a brand new cost foisted upon certain teams. I think warning about the increase in costs that would be born by certain members of the new group while not taking into account at all which teams make up the old group is a really one-sided way to look at a proposed shift like this.
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Postby Auks Ran Ova » Tue May 02, 2017 2:48 pm

vcuEvan wrote:NAQT has its costs to produce questions. Those costs are high and it's clear NAQT is not going to reduce them. I think given that it's been made clear that making "X+Y" cheaper is a non-starter, building "X+Y" into the cost of attending a tournament is the next best option. All this does is transfer the burden of "Y" from the teams that are currently buying packets to the the universe of teams that play NAQT events. Because you get the packets from attending an NAQT tournament, presumably the teams that are buying these packets right now are the new teams without an institutional history. Charging "X+Y" to play a tournament, shifts this burden to the entire field of NAQT participants. It also has the DOZENS of positive side effects that have been elucidated in this thread, such as packet availability despite institutional turnover, lack of storage space required, being able to read on a laptop, reducing hosting costs, not requiring friends to police eachother, environmental impact, etc. These benefits are especially relevant in the world of high school questions.


Having talked a bit more to Evan, I think we're closer in view than I initially realized, especially regarding the above proposal. My major concern, as I hope I've made clear, is adequate compensation for quizbowl labor, which NAQT especially of late has been making massive genuine improvements on. The above is a reasonable proposal that I think it would be worth it for NAQT to look into, and it doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing thing--I also see no reason not to trust NAQT's assertion that increased pricing in areas where the primary competition is very cheap non-quizbowl garbage could be disastrous.

A long term goal of "costs shifted to tournaments so packets can be free while labor remains remunerated" is a very reasonable one, and it's even a short-term goal in the college circuit, where NAQT seems already willing and able to make it happen. I don't think it's necessarily tenable as an immediate move in the high school game yet, but I would like to work towards making it so.
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Postby theMoMA » Tue May 02, 2017 3:18 pm

Speaking for myself here. If the question is not whether it's moral to charge for practice questions, but instead whether the charge should be levied as a flat fee on all teams regardless of how much that team actually wants practice questions, it seems like the current model is much better. Right now, teams are free to buy as much practice material as they demand, subject to their budgetary limits. If those costs were moved to tournament fees, every team would have to pay an additional cost to play every tournament, regardless of how much they actually wanted practice questions. This would price some teams out of playing tournaments for essentially the same reason that taxes cause deadweight loss in economics.

Many teams have little if any demand for practice questions, either because they play casually or because they use their program's NAQT archive or questions freely available on the archives. The higher entry fees might be particularly jarring to new teams that, by virtue of their inexperience, will likely not have use for access to hundreds of old sets.

The proposal seems like a solution in search of a problem. If we acknowledge that it's ok to charge teams money for a product they want to buy, it seems that we should just let them buy however much of that product they want, instead of treating all teams as if they want to buy the same amount. I understand that teams might be constrained by their budgets when it comes to practice questions, but this would remain the case if tournaments were more expensive, the difference being that a team would have to forego tournament attendance rather than practice sets; because there are freely available alternatives to the latter, and because tournament attendance is the sine qua non of quizbowl participation, this seems like a bad trade to me.
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Postby Cody » Tue May 02, 2017 3:25 pm

To ground the hidden costs for hosts in reality, here are some recent per-team costs that I, as a host, have borne just to distribute packets to teams: $5.65 / team; $5.46 / team; $7.47 / team; $7.80 / team. (These costs are generally reduced by any number of FedEx discounts.)

While I realize that not every host has to pay to print packets for teams, I'm angered that NAQT would try to frame "raising tournament fees to x+y" as a "bad outcome having an adverse effect on the quizbowl community going forward" without even the consideration that many hosts are already bearing all or part of the "+y" fees! Yet, there has been no adverse affect and NAQT has grown apace in many regions?

There is also a fundamental nomenclature problem here. "Teams" do not bear the costs of increased fees, except at events NAQT runs. NAQT runs 5 tournaments per year, which for 2015-16 covered 160 middle school teams, 352 high school teams, 24 community college teams, and 64 college teams. Disregarding all multi-day events (leagues, etc.), 815 high school teams played an NAQT tournament in December of 2016.

"Hosts" bear the fees, and I am again angered that NAQT is trying to frame the discussion around raising fees for teams when they are actually raising fees for hosts. Will hosts change their entry fee in order to retrieve some of the (formerly hidden) cost of hosting an NAQT tournament? Maybe. But, as far as I am aware, the widespread practice is for hosts to charge teams the same amount for housewrites and for NAQT tournaments, despite a very large difference in fees.

What's actually happening is that (for many hosts), you are shifting an existing, hidden "+y" cost into a visible "+y" cost. Teams, as such, do not bear the brunt of the fees.

(If you want to talk about fees that are actually borne by teams, TQBA charges the highest fees in the nation by far—double that of most regions, even taking into account the higher discounts. Yet, many, many, many teams manage to make it out to TQBA events?)
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Postby Progcon » Tue May 02, 2017 3:33 pm

Cody wrote:To ground the hidden costs for hosts in reality, here are some recent per-team costs that I, as a host, have borne to distribute packets to teams: $5.65 / team; $5.46 / team; $7.47 / team; $7.80 / team. (These costs are generally reduced by any number of FedEx discounts.)

While I realize that not every host has to pay to print packets for teams, I'm angered that NAQT would try to frame "raising tournament fees to x+y" as a "bad outcome having an adverse effect on the quizbowl community going forward" without even the consideration that many hosts are already bearing all or part of the "+y" fees! Yet, there has been no bad outcome? Whoa.

There is also a fundamental nomenclature problem here. "Teams" do not bear the costs of increased fees, except at events NAQT runs. NAQT runs 5 tournaments per year, which for 2015-16 covered 160 middle school teams, 352 high school teams, 24 community college teams, and 64 college teams. Disregarding all multi-day events (leagues, etc.), 815 high school teams played an NAQT tournament in December of 2016.

"Hosts" bear the fees, and I am again angered that NAQT is trying to frame the discussion around raising fees for teams when they are actually raising fees for hosts. Will hosts change their entry fee in order to retrieve some of the (formerly hidden) cost of hosting an NAQT tournament? Maybe. But, as far as I am aware, the widespread practice is for hosts to charge teams the same amount for housewrites and for NAQT tournaments, despite a very large difference in fees.

What's actually happening is that (for many hosts), you are shifting an existing, hidden "+y" cost into a visible "+y" cost. Teams, as such, do not bear the brunt of the fees.

(If you want to talk about fees that are actually borne by teams, TQBA charges the highest fees in the nation by far—double that of most regions, even taking into account the higher discounts. Yet, many, many, many teams manage to make it out to TQBA events?)


I'm very glad Cody brought this up. When I host a high school tournament, I charge the same amount to teams even if NAQT's questions cost my club an extra 40% more per team that attends the tournament. Hosts also have to pay large printing costs just to run NAQT questions. I'd estimate our take home is like 10 dollars less a team when we run NAQT questions but we can't raise our registration fees too much because high schools budget based on our last year prices and getting enough attendance to even make our tournaments profitable (i.e. higher revenue than the fixed costs of the rooms and staff lunch) can be a challenge at times. In my view, NAQT really needs to relax the paper packet system when no other vendor does that because all it does is add costs to the host. I was a staffing Michigan's Fall tournament, and it took 4 people to just sort packets. This is a huge waste when they can just be sent online and password protected. I have ran several tournaments on digital packets including Regionals and not one team got their hands on the packets during the event.

There's also the obvious enviormental concern with needlessly printing thousands of sheets of paper.
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Postby vcuEvan » Tue May 02, 2017 3:34 pm

theMoMA wrote:Speaking for myself here. If the question is not whether it's moral to charge for practice questions, but instead whether the charge should be levied as a flat fee on all teams regardless of how much that team actually wants practice questions, it seems like the current model is much better. Right now, teams are free to buy as much practice material as they demand, subject to their budgetary limits. If those costs were moved to tournament fees, every team would have to pay an additional cost to play every tournament, regardless of how much they actually wanted practice questions. This would price some teams out of playing tournaments for essentially the same reason that taxes cause deadweight loss in economics.

Many teams have little if any demand for practice questions, either because they play casually or because they use their program's NAQT archive or questions freely available on the archives. The higher entry fees might be particularly jarring to new teams that, by virtue of their inexperience, will likely not have use for access to hundreds of old sets.

The proposal seems like a solution in search of a problem. If we acknowledge that it's ok to charge teams money for a product they want to buy, it seems that we should just let them buy however much of that product they want, instead of treating all teams as if they want to buy the same amount. I understand that teams might be constrained by their budgets when it comes to practice questions, but this would remain the case if tournaments were more expensive, the difference being that a team would have to forego tournament attendance rather than practice sets; because there are freely available alternatives to the latter, and because tournament attendance is the sine qua non of quizbowl participation, this seems like a bad trade to me.


I'll have more time to respond to this later, but I want to point out that this is an argument for separating the cost of owning packets from the cost of playing tournaments across ALL of quizbowl, which makes your repeated references to the free packet archive for teams that choose not to buy NAQT questions really jarring. You're essentially arguing that it's OK to destroy the Commons because any farmer who chooses not to buy feed for his cow can just graze it in the Commons.
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Postby Auks Ran Ova » Tue May 02, 2017 3:46 pm

theMoMA wrote:Speaking for myself here. If the question is not whether it's moral to charge for practice questions, but instead whether the charge should be levied as a flat fee on all teams regardless of how much that team actually wants practice questions, it seems like the current model is much better. Right now, teams are free to buy as much practice material as they demand, subject to their budgetary limits. If those costs were moved to tournament fees, every team would have to pay an additional cost to play every tournament, regardless of how much they actually wanted practice questions. This would price some teams out of playing tournaments for essentially the same reason that taxes cause deadweight loss in economics.

Many teams have little if any demand for practice questions, either because they play casually or because they use their program's NAQT archive or questions freely available on the archives. The higher entry fees might be particularly jarring to new teams that, by virtue of their inexperience, will likely not have use for access to hundreds of old sets.

The proposal seems like a solution in search of a problem. If we acknowledge that it's ok to charge teams money for a product they want to buy, it seems that we should just let them buy however much of that product they want, instead of treating all teams as if they want to buy the same amount. I understand that teams might be constrained by their budgets when it comes to practice questions, but this would remain the case if tournaments were more expensive, the difference being that a team would have to forego tournament attendance rather than practice sets; because there are freely available alternatives to the latter, and because tournament attendance is the sine qua non of quizbowl participation, this seems like a bad trade to me.


This also raises a fair point, that I didn't get to in quite enough detail in my own post--I don't want to price lots of marginal teams out of tournament attendance even for well-intentioned reasons, and I suspect that provided evidence of that being a significant result, Evan would not either.

I think some of this comes back to NAQT's relative lack of transparency, where for all the community knows NAQT has considered some of these things or run detailed cost/revenue projections regarding them or whatever, but we have no idea so we're just throwing out suggestions and pleading for some sort of response (which, to be fair, is not always something that NAQT can immediately produce--but conversely, NAQT has a history of saying "we'll consider that" and then never following up, so some impatience and/or demand for a quick and satisfying response is understandable).
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Postby Cody » Tue May 02, 2017 3:57 pm

High school tournament fees have remained constant between $60 and ~$70 for most regions since at least 2006 (which is as far as I cared to go back). VCU has raised their tournament fees from $60 to $70 in that timespan. (For all tournaments, not just NAQT ones.) (Even as the costs borne by hosts have increased.)

If the argument is presented that teams may be priced out by an increase in host fees, some evidence beyond mere speculation and theoretical mutterings is required; especially when the factors in my above post(s) are taken into account.
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Postby Cheynem » Tue May 02, 2017 4:28 pm

I have no problem with hosts raising their fees, especially for NAQT events that require them to print out and distribute the packets.
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Postby vcuEvan » Tue May 02, 2017 4:34 pm

Auks Ran Ova wrote:
theMoMA wrote:Speaking for myself here. If the question is not whether it's moral to charge for practice questions, but instead whether the charge should be levied as a flat fee on all teams regardless of how much that team actually wants practice questions, it seems like the current model is much better. Right now, teams are free to buy as much practice material as they demand, subject to their budgetary limits. If those costs were moved to tournament fees, every team would have to pay an additional cost to play every tournament, regardless of how much they actually wanted practice questions. This would price some teams out of playing tournaments for essentially the same reason that taxes cause deadweight loss in economics.

Many teams have little if any demand for practice questions, either because they play casually or because they use their program's NAQT archive or questions freely available on the archives. The higher entry fees might be particularly jarring to new teams that, by virtue of their inexperience, will likely not have use for access to hundreds of old sets.

The proposal seems like a solution in search of a problem. If we acknowledge that it's ok to charge teams money for a product they want to buy, it seems that we should just let them buy however much of that product they want, instead of treating all teams as if they want to buy the same amount. I understand that teams might be constrained by their budgets when it comes to practice questions, but this would remain the case if tournaments were more expensive, the difference being that a team would have to forego tournament attendance rather than practice sets; because there are freely available alternatives to the latter, and because tournament attendance is the sine qua non of quizbowl participation, this seems like a bad trade to me.


This also raises a fair point, that I didn't get to in quite enough detail in my own post--I don't want to price lots of marginal teams out of tournament attendance even for well-intentioned reasons, and I suspect that provided evidence of that being a significant result, Evan would not either.

I think some of this comes back to NAQT's relative lack of transparency, where for all the community knows NAQT has considered some of these things or run detailed cost/revenue projections regarding them or whatever, but we have no idea so we're just throwing out suggestions and pleading for some sort of response (which, to be fair, is not always something that NAQT can immediately produce--but conversely, NAQT has a history of saying "we'll consider that" and then never following up, so some impatience and/or demand for a quick and satisfying response is understandable).


Have you guys thought all the way through a quizbowl world with a la carte packet purchases? The teams that have gone to every tournament for 20 years have every packet. The newly formed teams that have a lot of money have every packet. The teams that are connected enough to steal packets on an underground network have every packet. You guys have been playing quizbowl long enough to know that these teams have really serious advantages over the new team that can't get money from its school and can't afford any packets. You may even remember that this is what high school quizbowl and collegiate quizbowl used to look like before the advent of the publicly available packet archive. The connected teams traded packets to complete their collections, or bought practice material from NAQT, or bought questions from house writes that sold their old questions, or from wherever; other teams couldn't really compete. I was in high school long enough ago to remember this, and my team was one that benefited enormously from these structural advantages. When I criticize this as a pay-to-win model, that's what I'm talking about. I don't think this is the right vision for the game, even if it makes entry fees cheaper.

Also, as Cody and Mike point out, the existence of this policy already raises the effective tournament entry fee pretty significantly!
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Postby Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Tue May 02, 2017 4:41 pm

Cody wrote:High school tournament fees have remained constant between $60 and ~$70 for most regions since at least 2006 (which is as far as I cared to go back). VCU has raised their tournament fees from $60 to $70 in that timespan. (For all tournaments, not just NAQT ones.) (Even as the costs borne by hosts have increased.)

If the argument is presented that teams may be priced out by an increase in host fees, some evidence beyond mere speculation and theoretical mutterings is required; especially when the factors in my above post(s) are taken into account.


By your own admission, you're asking for the impossible. How is evidence of the effect of a price increase going to be presented when, as you have stated, high school fees have remained relatively consistent over the past decade? The only example I can think of is the modest hike in fees for this year's ACF tournaments - while indeed supply and demand are universal forces, it has been established that the high school and college quizbowl markets are rather different, and I would suspect that college teams are less price sensitive for a myriad of monetary reasons (universities are better able to afford to fund clubs, a higher proportion of colleges host tournaments, there are generally fewer tournaments to attend, etc.)

Auks Ran Ova wrote:I think some of this comes back to NAQT's relative lack of transparency, where for all the community knows NAQT has considered some of these things or run detailed cost/revenue projections regarding them or whatever, but we have no idea so we're just throwing out suggestions and pleading for some sort of response (which, to be fair, is not always something that NAQT can immediately produce--but conversely, NAQT has a history of saying "we'll consider that" and then never following up, so some impatience and/or demand for a quick and satisfying response is understandable).


EDIT: As you recognize, it's one thing to demand transparency when you're not asking people to hand over a potential source of income (or even proposing something that has no financial downside and substantial upside) - i.e. why are college tournaments required to use clocks even when this poses substantial problems for hosts and NAQT tournaments are routinely run without clocks at the high school level, or why are hosts required to use paper packets. It's another thing to complain when there is a proposal to alter a fundamental part of an organization's business model (selling packets) and they don't immediately go out of the way to do cost/revenue projections to answer some people posting on the forums (understanding that paper packets and the latter are linked)

Personally, I don't think carrying out a rough but reasonable analysis would be very difficult - presumably, you'd divide the total revenue from selling high school packets by the number of high school teams that play NAQT tournaments each year, and calculate a compensatory increase that way using this as a basis. However, this doesn't take into account intangible factors, such as the real desire for coaches to acquire practice questions that their players have not seen yet - cheating in practice is sadly quite common, and in the high-stakes extracurricular environment of many high schools, the incentive to cheat to win tryouts or whatnot goes up dramatically.

To address Evan's point, I do think it's valuable to make more NAQT sets available publicly, because new schools with little money definitely should have the opportunity to get some sets to work with electronically - maybe one IS-set, A-set, etc. per year could work, with the foregone revenue perhaps built into whenever NAQT decides to raise its mirror fees next. But packets aren't the only source for studying, and NAQT does offer other resources (free You Gotta Know articles, purchasable frequency lists which might be more efficient study tools, etc.)
Will Alston
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