How Can We Make Quizbowl More Approachable and Inclusive

Elaborate on the merits of specific tournaments or have general theoretical discussion here.
User avatar
Progcon
Rikku
Posts: 465
Joined: Fri Dec 20, 2013 8:24 pm

Re: How Can We Make Quizbowl More Approachable and Inclusive

Post by Progcon » Thu Feb 15, 2018 3:31 pm

I can say that when I TD tournaments, I advise that moderators read as fast as possible and focus on delivering questions in a way that is comprehensible, professional and in strict coherence with the rules. When moderators do this, I have never heard of a situation where a reader was being crass or "roasting" a team or whatever. That seems exceedingly rare, and as Naveed points out, there are documented situations where moderators were slow which actually affected a team. Chit chat is of course going to happen, but having moderators go out of their way to commend a person for knowing things seems a little excessive. I know when I read, I feel a little awkward when I tell a team "nice buzz" or "good job" because I am worried about accusations of bias. If you have had me as a reader, I hope you got the impression that I value professionalism and prompt moderating above all.

FWIW, I've had a lot more high school coaches complain to me about slow readers than readers roasting teams for complimenting each other (have heard this 0 times in my life). Your mileage may vary, but it seems to be universally better if moderators focused on reading well and promptly above all.
Harris Bunker
Grosse Pointe North High School '15
Michigan State University 2015-

User avatar
Sima Guang Hater
Auron
Posts: 1805
Joined: Mon Feb 05, 2007 1:43 pm
Location: Philadelphia, PA

Re: How Can We Make Quizbowl More Approachable and Inclusive

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Thu Feb 15, 2018 3:50 pm

Jakob is entirely correct on this issue. I've moderated an order of magnitude more tournaments than either of you (and have told Wilton Rao to shut up on more than one occasion), at a very good pace, and always manage to find time for the occasional "good buzz" or some laughter/merryment/mirth while switching between TU and Bonus. On top of that, the fact that this moderator found it suitable to sarcastically imitate the high schoolers she was reading to says nothing good about the situation. There are nice ways to cut down on the chatter without ruining anyone's game experience and/or slowing down the tournament.

Futhermore, lest "2.5 standard deviations" scare anyone, that amounts to about 5-7 fewer tossups than the other teams in their playoff bracket, over the course of 14 games, which isn't awful but isn't great either.

Also
Naveed wrote:Neither you nor I know the specifics of this situation
Naveed wrote:[Comments on the aggregate experiences of a team he wasn't on]
r/NaveedcriticizesNaveed
Eric Mukherjee, MD PhD
Washburn Rural High School, 2005
Brown University, 2009
Medical Scientist Training Program, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, 2018
Intern in Internal Medicine, Yale-Waterbury, 2018-9
Dermatology Resident, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, 2019-

Member Emeritus, ACF
Member, PACE
Writer, NAQT, NHBB, IQBT

"The next generation will always surpass the previous one. It's one of the never-ending cycles in life."

User avatar
Habitat_Against_Humanity
Rikku
Posts: 441
Joined: Sun Jan 21, 2007 8:51 pm
Location: Syracuse, NY

Re: How Can We Make Quizbowl More Approachable and Inclusive

Post by Habitat_Against_Humanity » Thu Feb 15, 2018 4:11 pm

Couch's Kingbird wrote:
acrosby1861 wrote:
nightreign wrote:
I'm slightly nervous about posting this here when I know it's not anonymous.
Yeah. This is me whenever I post something here, so I feel the need to word everything correctly. It's good to know that there's at least one other person who feels this way.
Will second (third?) this as well. I've definitely felt that the quiz bowl community can be very insular- good/vocal players tend to dominate, and honestly with in-jokes too- and it does make it harder for people to get involved in the community (even for somewhat experienced players). It might be self-created, but I've felt the need to "fit in" during tournaments, as well as being "on guard" while posting or talking to people about quiz bowl stuff. It's why I generally prefer to lurk (despite trying to get myself to be more vocal/involved/posting more/etc.). Curious to know if others feel the same.

That being said, I'm definitely guilty of a lot of stuff people have mentioned on this thread ("that was stock," "should've buzzed earlier," "you should know that," etc.) as well as contributing to the insularity, and I'm glad people are open about discussing this.

You folks weren't around when an identifying signature wasn't required, but suffice it to say, it's much easier to be "toxic" when you're anonymous. If making people consider their words more carefully is the cost of keeping things more civil, I think it's a fair trade-off. That said, it's occasionally anxiety-provoking to post here, but that subsides a bit with time. I think it's a good thing that discussion here is required to be more nuanced than say, Facebook. I like that bad arguments are called out and that it's not necessarily an echo chamber.
Nolan -
UChicago 09
Michigan State Well-wisher

Rather Wild Indeed
Lulu
Posts: 48
Joined: Sun Feb 12, 2017 11:27 pm

Re: How Can We Make Quizbowl More Approachable and Inclusive

Post by Rather Wild Indeed » Thu Feb 15, 2018 4:28 pm

1.82 wrote:
Sit Room Guy wrote:Note to moderators: let people have fun playing quiz bowl and encourage their teammates as long as it doesn't get into gloat-y territory. As long as they're not hurting anything or impeding the timely progress of the tournament (which Rishik's team clearly wasn't), don't do any of this.
Neither you nor I know the specifics of this situation, and I don't know how many tournaments you've moderated or what insights you've thereby gained into tournament administration, but this dictum is either so vague as to be meaningless or else actively harmful. The biggest cause of delays in tournaments and the main thing that turns thirty-five-minute rounds into fifty-minute rounds is supposedly harmless chatter. Talking between questions always impedes the timely progress of the tournament, and moderators should always err on the side of shutting it down. Otherwise you get situations like Columbia B at 2016 ICT, where in spite of the presence of trained staff, one team has so much fun playing quizbowl that they hear 2.5 standard deviations fewer than the average number of questions (a difference of nearly one standard deviation from the second-slowest team). When players on one team have fun by talking among themselves, not only does it impede everyone's fun by making the tournament drag on longer and getting them home later, but it specifically impedes the fun of the other team that has to put up with it. The job of a moderator is to facilitate teams' having fun by answering questions.
I completely understand the argument that talking between questions slows down a tournament but I don't think that 5 words between rounds can slow down a round that much. But that is beside the point here. The real issue here is that even if we are slowing down a round, there is a more professional way to stop that. Maybe a "hey, we're running a bit behind, do you mind keeping the talking to a minimum?" If the moderator has a problem with something that is going on in a round, then they need to actually communicate that and players will usually listen.
Rishik Hombal
Hoover HS 2014-18

User avatar
The Ununtiable Twine
Yuna
Posts: 989
Joined: Fri Feb 02, 2007 11:09 pm
Location: Lafayette, LA
Contact:

Re: How Can We Make Quizbowl More Approachable and Inclusive

Post by The Ununtiable Twine » Thu Feb 15, 2018 4:51 pm

I think that every moderator should always know how he or she is doing on time with respect to the rest of the tournament. If you walk into a control room and there are few to no packets left to be handed out, just let the teams know before the round starts that the room is running a little behind and we have to catch up to everyone else. In my experience this tends to cut the excessive talking down by quite a bit. On the other hand, if your room is several minutes ahead, there's always time for a little bit of small talk before the match and at halftime, but as the reader you should make sure to not allow for an excessive amount of chatter lest you fall behind all the other rooms. A quick snap of the fingers plus a friendly "okay so we need to get started" tends to do the trick for me. Of course, if certain teams are known to be a little more chatty than others, you can just revert to the first option to cut down on how much chatting they do. For example, I always act like my room is running behind when I have two teams from the same school in the room. That little fib ain't ever hurt no one.
Jake Sundberg
Louisiana '04-'10, '14-'16
Alabama '10-'14
Associate Director, Louisiana Quiz Bowl Alliance

alexdz
Rikku
Posts: 363
Joined: Wed Sep 03, 2008 7:29 pm
Location: Philadelphia, PA

Re: How Can We Make Quizbowl More Approachable and Inclusive

Post by alexdz » Thu Feb 15, 2018 9:47 pm

There's an art to moderating which involves knowing what type of "chatter" is harmful to the timely completion of your round and what is not. A quick "nice!" or "good job" from one teammate to another (or even across teams) isn't the problem. It's when teams utter complete commentary after every buzz, or try to explain/defend themselves, or have conversations with one another. Or, it's when halftime goes long enough for a Justin Timberlake performance. I've directed approximately a dozen tournaments, both timed and not, and staffed several dozens more, and I can honestly say that knowing the difference between innocent remarks and unproductive chatter is pretty easy to distinguish for me at this point. Regardless, though, there's no need for you to stop reading. Most of the time if you just keep talking, teams shut up pretty quickly and take the hint.
Alex Dzurick
====
Owner/Editor, SAGES Quizbowl Questions
====
University of Illinois ('15-'17)
MOQBA Secretary ('08-'15) ::: MACA Vice President ('13-'15)
South Callaway MS/6th Grade Coach ('12-'13) ::: University of Missouri ('08-'12)
ACUI Region 11 Coordinator ('10-'11) ::: South Callaway HS ('04-'08)

User avatar
Victor Prieto
Tidus
Posts: 569
Joined: Tue May 08, 2012 5:15 pm
Location: State College, PA

Re: How Can We Make Quizbowl More Approachable and Inclusive

Post by Victor Prieto » Thu Feb 15, 2018 11:21 pm

Habitat_Against_Humanity wrote:You folks weren't around when an identifying signature wasn't required, but suffice it to say, it's much easier to be "toxic" when you're anonymous. If making people consider their words more carefully is the cost of keeping things more civil, I think it's a fair trade-off. That said, it's occasionally anxiety-provoking to post here, but that subsides a bit with time. I think it's a good thing that discussion here is required to be more nuanced than say, Facebook. I like that bad arguments are called out and that it's not necessarily an echo chamber.
I think we can have it both ways. The "Dear Prudence" for quizbowl idea proposed in the other thread seems like a good way for people to anonymously voice ideas or concerns (not in a public complaint box kind of way, though), and I trust the people who would be in charge of that to filter and discuss the ideas. I don't want to hijack a project that isn't mine - it seems like the idea was brought up in the context of improving quizbowl as a community.

I also still get nervous/anxious when posting.
alexdz wrote:Regardless, though, there's no need for you to stop reading. Most of the time if you just keep talking, teams shut up pretty quickly and take the hint.
I have found this to be the most effective way to get teams to quiet down between questions, without having to resort to actually shushing people.
Victor Prieto
Tower Hill School, Class of 2011
Rice University, Class of 2015
Penn State University, Class of 2020

Member, Writer, Editor, PACE (2015-present)
Writer, Editor, HSAPQ (2013-2016)

User avatar
Habitat_Against_Humanity
Rikku
Posts: 441
Joined: Sun Jan 21, 2007 8:51 pm
Location: Syracuse, NY

Re: How Can We Make Quizbowl More Approachable and Inclusive

Post by Habitat_Against_Humanity » Fri Feb 16, 2018 12:43 am

Victor Prieto wrote:
Habitat_Against_Humanity wrote:You folks weren't around when an identifying signature wasn't required, but suffice it to say, it's much easier to be "toxic" when you're anonymous. If making people consider their words more carefully is the cost of keeping things more civil, I think it's a fair trade-off. That said, it's occasionally anxiety-provoking to post here, but that subsides a bit with time. I think it's a good thing that discussion here is required to be more nuanced than say, Facebook. I like that bad arguments are called out and that it's not necessarily an echo chamber.
I think we can have it both ways. The "Dear Prudence" for quizbowl idea proposed in the other thread seems like a good way for people to anonymously voice ideas or concerns (not in a public complaint box kind of way, though), and I trust the people who would be in charge of that to filter and discuss the ideas. I don't want to hijack a project that isn't mine - it seems like the idea was brought up in the context of improving quizbowl as a community.

I also still get nervous/anxious when posting.
alexdz wrote:Regardless, though, there's no need for you to stop reading. Most of the time if you just keep talking, teams shut up pretty quickly and take the hint.
I have found this to be the most effective way to get teams to quiet down between questions, without having to resort to actually shushing people.
The Dear Prudence thing is an awesome idea and should implemented if for no other reason than that there'll be a way of aggregating issues people have. On that note, does anyone think it would be beneficial to have like an actual climate survey type thing? Anonymous of course. I think I could get my wife to design the survey, if not analyze it too (she's a social psych professor). Personally, I think it might be good to have some hard data on what the perceptions of the community are and it would certainly be a proactive step. Does anyone in the mod staff think that would be a thing worth doing?
Nolan -
UChicago 09
Michigan State Well-wisher

User avatar
gettysburg11
Wakka
Posts: 131
Joined: Wed Aug 28, 2013 10:09 pm

Re: How Can We Make Quizbowl More Approachable and Inclusive

Post by gettysburg11 » Fri Feb 16, 2018 1:51 am

Airing dirty laundry on the forums appears to also be the sort of thing that might make people not want to join the quizbowl community.
Ryan Bilger
Emmaus '15, Gettysburg '19

"I never saved anything for the swim back." - Vincent Freeman, Gattaca

User avatar
An Economic Ignoramus
Memerator
Posts: 555
Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2016 12:31 pm
Location: East Lansing, MI or Naperville, IL

Re: How Can We Make Quizbowl More Approachable and Inclusive

Post by An Economic Ignoramus » Fri Feb 16, 2018 2:05 am

gettysburg11 wrote:Airing dirty laundry on the forums appears to also be the sort of thing that might make people not want to join the quizbowl community.
Jakob Myers
MSU '21, Naperville North '17
"No one has ever organized a greater effort to get people interested in pretending to play quiz bowl"
-Ankit Aggarwal
Member, PACE
Memerator

User avatar
Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN)
Chairman of Anti-Music Mafia Committee
Posts: 5607
Joined: Wed Jul 26, 2006 11:46 pm
Location: Columbia, MO

Re: How Can We Make Quizbowl More Approachable and Inclusive

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Fri Feb 16, 2018 2:44 am

What I find interesting is how many of the problems above boil down to an incredibly simple life lesson that sounds so stupid as to be almost stunning that I feel like writing it, but which once I really internalized it I saw all kinds of adults fail to understand or live up to this very simple ideal:

Other people don't have the same mind as you, and you should go out of your way to shed every preconceived notion of what other people know, and what other people are interested in, when you realize that actually, those assumptions are only based on things that you know and are interested in.

It's one of those things that you see in Piaget's stages - little kids can't fathom that you don't know who their friend Lily at school is, because they can't fathom that you lack the experiences they had of going to school and talking to Lily earlier that day. As an adult it's so easy to catch yourself doing the exact same thing, and it sounds to me like it's happening all over this thread.

Why was it a problem to me that that one guy wouldn't stop talking about quiz bowl gossip during that dinner conversation? Because he didn't realize his teammates didn't care about quiz bowl gossip. Why is it a problem that this moderator is shutting down Hoover saying "nice buzz?" Because she has a preconceived notion that she is expected to be a hardass about mild chit-chat. Why is it a problem that people constantly say things like "I should have buzzed on that easy clue, that's so stock?" Because lots of people don't know to buzz there and have a different definition of easy than you (and stock is totally an in crowd word). Why is it a problem that peoples' dismissive attitudes towards trash confuse new players? Because they know nothing about all the negative baggage that trash capture saddled quizbowl with throughout the 2000s.

The same can be said for all kinds of other bad quizbowl - in the 2000s these were actual fights for the future and the soul of the game which were not obviously going to win out, and the over the top rhetoric felt justified given how much damage was being done on the other side. I don't know how right or wrong all of it was, but making sure people felt comfortable in the community felt like a secondary goal compared to driving out Chip Beall, CBI, athletic organizations, TRASH, and all the lesser nonsense like Quillen's Questions and establishing the incredibly high quality standards that the game is now blessed with. Now, new people who played non-pyramidal local formats in high school deserve your time and energy to explain to them from square one just why it is that pyramidal quiz bowl is different and preferred, in a way that does not drip with contempt for what they used to play. A player like Aria might deserve an explanation of what trash capture was, and why it is that it so terrified people that I wrote into MU Quizbowl's constitution a rule banning club funds from going to trash tournaments. And if the players you're trying to have conversations with kind of make it clear that they don't care about talking more about quiz bowl, then stop talking at them about quiz bowl, because clearly their mind is different and less interested in it than yours.
Charlie Dees, North Kansas City HS '08
"I won't say more because I know some of you parse everything I say." - Jeremy Gibbs

"At one TJ tournament the neg prize was the Hampshire College ultimate frisbee team (nude) calender featuring one Evan Silberman. In retrospect that could have been a disaster." - Harry White

User avatar
Sima Guang Hater
Auron
Posts: 1805
Joined: Mon Feb 05, 2007 1:43 pm
Location: Philadelphia, PA

Re: How Can We Make Quizbowl More Approachable and Inclusive

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Sat Feb 17, 2018 9:55 am

Habitat_Against_Humanity wrote:The Dear Prudence thing is an awesome idea and should implemented if for no other reason than that there'll be a way of aggregating issues people have. On that note, does anyone think it would be beneficial to have like an actual climate survey type thing? Anonymous of course. I think I could get my wife to design the survey, if not analyze it too (she's a social psych professor). Personally, I think it might be good to have some hard data on what the perceptions of the community are and it would certainly be a proactive step. Does anyone in the mod staff think that would be a thing worth doing?
I Am Not A Moderator, but I think this, and any other discussion of social ills, would heavily benefit from hard data.
Eric Mukherjee, MD PhD
Washburn Rural High School, 2005
Brown University, 2009
Medical Scientist Training Program, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, 2018
Intern in Internal Medicine, Yale-Waterbury, 2018-9
Dermatology Resident, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, 2019-

Member Emeritus, ACF
Member, PACE
Writer, NAQT, NHBB, IQBT

"The next generation will always surpass the previous one. It's one of the never-ending cycles in life."

User avatar
Habitat_Against_Humanity
Rikku
Posts: 441
Joined: Sun Jan 21, 2007 8:51 pm
Location: Syracuse, NY

Re: How Can We Make Quizbowl More Approachable and Inclusive

Post by Habitat_Against_Humanity » Sat Feb 17, 2018 8:22 pm

Sima Guang Hater wrote:
Habitat_Against_Humanity wrote:The Dear Prudence thing is an awesome idea and should implemented if for no other reason than that there'll be a way of aggregating issues people have. On that note, does anyone think it would be beneficial to have like an actual climate survey type thing? Anonymous of course. I think I could get my wife to design the survey, if not analyze it too (she's a social psych professor). Personally, I think it might be good to have some hard data on what the perceptions of the community are and it would certainly be a proactive step. Does anyone in the mod staff think that would be a thing worth doing?
I Am Not A Moderator, but I think this, and any other discussion of social ills, would heavily benefit from hard data.


I ran the idea by my wife and she would be interested in helping out. Before I go all out though on making this thing, I’d like a little feedback from the board staff about what the scope of this should be and if they’d be willing to help make a “thing” of this.
Nolan -
UChicago 09
Michigan State Well-wisher

User avatar
brianamagin
Lulu
Posts: 16
Joined: Tue Jun 13, 2017 6:27 pm

Re: How Can We Make Quizbowl More Approachable and Inclusive

Post by brianamagin » Fri Mar 30, 2018 3:53 pm

Alright I have some questions/concerns that relate to this topic but they take a bit of a different direction than most of the discussion that's been going on here. Most of this thread seems to be how to make quiz bowl inclusive AT tournaments, but I feel like steps also need to be taken BEFORE tournaments.

A problem that I've just thought about recently is the presence of casual players and their presence in our community. Most teams are very competitive and to new or unexperienced members practice alone can be daunting if they show up and find that they're unable to answer a single question that is asked. Also some players may very much enjoy the atmosphere of quiz bowl and the people in the community, but aren't necessarily concerned with studying for hours a week to become a nats level player.

Some thoughts I've had that may make things more inclusive to more casual quiz bowl players:
- Splitting up at practices; having your top teams reading packets of whatever difficulty of the next tournament they'll be participating in while allowing the more casual players to read lower level packets (like in preparation for fall have your top teams read D1, but allow your bottom teams to read D2).
- Having an easier difficulty tournament in the spring; this will be nice for if your team recruits new members and for your members who have been around for a semester but are still not comfortable at regular difficulty. (I believe this has also been mentioned in the scheduling reform thread.) For example, FST was held in the spring this year and MSU and U of M both fielded four teams for the event, but no other schools attended. For the higher level players on our teams the tournament was pretty much a blowoff just for fun, but for the lower players it was nice to be able to play something more suited to their ability in the second half of the year, rather than just in the fall.
- Don't stress competitions TOO much at practices, members of your team should not be required to compete in tournaments, it should be a choice. Present people the option of different tournaments, and encourage them to attend ones that are more suited for their level. Put more stress on newcomers attending EFT than Penn Bowl, and if they do want to attend Penn Bowl warn them of the difficulty so they don't get absolutely blown out of the water. Quiz bowl should not be presented to your members as a "winning is everything" type of activity.
- Don't let your higher level players become to overwhelming to your new players. I have the privilege of being in the same club as the outstanding Jakob Myers, and even though its amazing how talented he is there are times where we request he read at practices so that members of the team don't always have to compete against him.

Now I realize that there may be problems with some of these suggestions and maybe not every club may have casual players. I just think it's something that needs to be recognized and people should still be comfortable being a part of the team and participating even if they don't want to be the best player on the team.

So really, the questions I have are these.
What steps do you take to retain your new and inexperienced members?
Do you have members of your team that are more casual players? If so, how do you make sure not to overwhelm them?
Do you have any other suggestions to make quiz bowl more inclusive for causal players?
Briana Magin
Michigan State University '19
MSU QB President '18

User avatar
ErikC
Wakka
Posts: 168
Joined: Sat Sep 24, 2016 12:44 pm

Re: How Can We Make Quizbowl More Approachable and Inclusive

Post by ErikC » Fri Mar 30, 2018 7:21 pm

brianamagin wrote:So really, the questions I have are these.
What steps do you take to retain your new and inexperienced members?
Do you have members of your team that are more casual players? If so, how do you make sure not to overwhelm them?
Do you have any other suggestions to make quiz bowl more inclusive for causal players?
Some split practices have worked quite well for the UofT club, which I have attended when living at home. Give new players time to learn separate from the competitive practice of the regular teamand doesn't overwhelm them. This diverts one or two people from main practice but pays off over time. At Waterloo, practices have been fairly casual as our team hasn't been very competitive as of late.

I'd say the most important thing to keep casual players is to start them off on easier questions that they have the time to hear away from the competition of players like Mr. Myers but then bringing them into the fold of main practice with more experienced club-goers. I remember how the little things that more experienced players said about the game and how they learned things really encouraged me to get better while making light of difficult questions. It's not just about telling people to study in general, it's also small tips about how to narrow things down, easy ways of remembering important things, or a funny fact about a common answerline that might come up later. Some casual players might not want to study and not worry too much on racking up points at a tournament, but everyone enjoys improving at something. The competitive nature of some top players in practice doesn't promote this very well.

This all really stems from experienced players being personable with new players. Keeping the club away from feeling like a clique is important for casual players who aren't solely motivated by competition. For some players, this also crosses over with previously-noted concerns about overly aggressive language in practice.
Erik Christensen
University of Waterloo - School of Planning Class of '18
I write trash
Defending VETO top scorer

Post Reply