Becoming Part of the Community

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magin
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Becoming Part of the Community

Post by magin » Tue Apr 14, 2015 10:35 pm

In response to Mike's thread about people's lowest point, I thought it would be interesting for people to share how they became a part of the larger quizbowl community, what encouraged or discouraged them along the way, and anything that might have sped up or smoothed the process had it occurred. I suppose I'll start:

I didn't really play pyramidal quizbowl in high school. My team mostly practiced for our local TV show, It's Academic, and went to one or two NAQT tournaments per year, where I wasn't used to the longer questions and didn't do very well. It was fun, but but I never really knew there were other tournaments besides the not so great ones we usually played. I went to a college without a quizbowl team, and figured that was that.

One year later, I ended up transferring to the University of Maryland (located in the earthly paradise of College Park), and ended up joining their team. At their practices, I started playing pyramidal questions which rewarded reading about things, which were a lot more rewarding than the speed checks I was used to playing in high school, so I stuck around. I think the first tournament I went to was Terrapin in 2005; I kept score, and I mostly just talked to my teammates during downtime, since the tournament was filled with strangers demolishing very difficult questions who knew each other and didn't seem to have any inclination to talk to anyone else. My first tournament was a juniorbird at Swarthmore, and I had a really good time. The questions weren't very hard, and we got to play a bunch of other new teams and play some competitive games, encouraging me to keep going. But at that time I wasn't very hardcore; I skipped ACF Fall to play a frisbee tournament, and had no idea of the way good questions were written, just that I wasn't very good at writing them (I remember submitting a really long tossup on the Ibsen play Pillars of Society to ACF Regionals, as well as writing a bunch of list bonuses and bonuses with stupid jokes for other tournaments).

By that time I had discovered the message board, although I was too timid to post anything since I barely knew anyone involved and felt a little intimidated by the overbearing tone of the discussions. But Maryland kept going to tournaments, and we kept doing a little bit better. Not enough to challenge for first, but enough that I was curious enough to want to attend ACF Nationals in 2006 (spoiler: we lost almost all of our games and no one there engaged us in conversations except our fellow outcasts in the bottom bracket). I have a memory of Dan Passner telling me before a round that people had talked about me on the internet, which I know now means the #quizbowl IRC channel, but then seemed very confusing. Which is not to criticize Dan; he actually talked to us, unlike most people there.

In the fall of 2006, we decided to try to edit Terrapin in-house (a big deal, since 2005's Terrapin had been contracted out to Zeke and possibly others, and since none of us were all too confident in our question writing abilities). Terrapin '06 probably had some pretty subpar science, and a lot of not-so-great questions, but no one seemed to mind; most people said they liked the tournament. And then, after the tournament was over, Matt Weiner said he thought the tournament was good, and offered the head editors (who were myself, Chris Ray, and Casey Retterer) spots on the ACF Fall editing team. I don't remember why Chris and Casey declined, but I was elated. Being approached that way made me want to improve my writing to a new level, and since I was asked to edit 2/2 literature for 2007 ACF Fall, Casey encouraged me when I floated the idea of writing a literature tournament, which ended up becoming the 2007 Chicago Open Literature Doubles. After that tournament was a success (thanks mostly to my fellow writers and my many hours of editing spurred by convictions that the tournament would be terrible), I noticed that the same people who hadn't approached me at past tournaments were now striking up conversations and becoming more friendly, and to my surprise, I wound up being part of the in-crowd (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S3syTyzp3Nk).

All this is to say that I wouldn't be here without encouragement from many people (Matt, Casey, the people who praised the 07 Lit Doubles) and luck (that my first tournament was a juniorbird instead of a hard tournament against really good teams, that Maryland had an established team that went to a bunch of tournaments, that no one decided to sit down and publicly dismantle all of the questions they didn't like from Terrapin '06). I also can't help but feel that if more experienced teams/players had made any friendly overtures at tournaments I played before I "proved" myself by writing a good tournament, I might have been part of the community much earlier. Despite all that, I've been guilty of only talking to people I'm friends with at tournaments because it's fun and it's easy, so I know that it's more of a sin of omission than commission. But I think it's preferable that the onus is on insiders, rather than outsiders, to reach out.

I'm curious to hear about other people's experiences.
Last edited by magin on Wed Apr 15, 2015 3:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Becoming Part of the Community

Post by gettysburg11 » Tue Apr 14, 2015 10:46 pm

For me, I wandered into a History Bee tournament one day last March because I've always been a history dork and I thought it would be fun. I got to 8 points on the 10th question in one of my prelim rooms, and the reader said I should consider this quiz bowl stuff.

Thank goodness I did.
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Emmaus '15, Gettysburg '19

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Re: Becoming Part of the Community

Post by alexdz » Tue Apr 14, 2015 11:12 pm

I pretty much exclusively played MSHSAA format in high school (very non-pyramidal, not great questions). I loved it and I was good at it, but I didn't know much about the broader world of quizbowl. Sometime in my junior year of high school, I stumbled upon the Missouri Academic Competition Message Board and started to realize that intra-conference duals were not the standard means of playing quizbowl! I worked on integrating myself into that community pretty early on.

I also got really lucky that Charlie Dees and I happened to be starting at Mizzou at the same time, and basically, we cofounded a quizbowl team and started building the Missouri Quizbowl Alliance, which is how I met all the wonderful people who've allowed me to participate over the last 7 years. The Missouri circuit has been a very friendly bunch to collaborate with and I am so glad I was here to see the magnificent transition that has happened in the state (cases in point, Ladue and Hallsville).

Nationally, I'm not as involved as I'd like to be, though I'm working on it.
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Re: Becoming Part of the Community

Post by The Stately Rhododendron » Tue Apr 14, 2015 11:24 pm

Similarly, Casey Retterer helped me become part of the community (he was our coach). Because of Casey, our team went to NAQT states at GDS and Maryland Spring freshman year. These were two very different tournaments, of course. GDS was the first time I had ever played pyramidal quizbowl, and we did alright (I was most proud of beating Blair B, who had a player named Josh on it that our team called Anders for whatever reason). Maryland Spring was balls-hard and we were just demolished game after game. I distinctly remember a possibly hungover, half-asleep Chris Manners just thrashing us. Aiden Mehigan scared the :capybara: out of me, too. But then, near the end of the prelims, I first lined a tossup on Chekov and things started looking up. The next year, we went to tournaments and hosted one, too. Then, we got into the finals of It's Academic and Mr. Retterer (or maybe Paul) pointed out we could go to HSNCT with this money. At this point, I was friendly enough with some people on the local circuit, like RM, Noah Cowan and Gonzaga, but DBN and Aiden still scared me and we weren't really acknowledged outside of the area (we were ranked something like #113th). At HSNCT, even though I had a fever of 102, we inexplicably went 8-2 (causing DBN to shout "HOW DID YOU DO THAT" at us). It was at this point, I think, that other people took notice of us.
Fast forward to senior year, where my complete frustration with It's Academic (I went on once after going to party and eating something the night before and still kind-of feeling it) really soured my feelings about quizbowl. I was feeling bored with the whole thing, and just did not like schelpping out to Richmond to lose to Maggie Walker.
Fast Forward to HSNCT and NASAT, where I realized that I could handle quizbowl if I was more chill about it. I relaxed, didn't really study a whole lot, and did just fine. After all, "fill your bowl and it will overflow." I was confidently the least fascist person at HSNCT and NASAT.
Lessons: Aiden Mehigen is scary, Casey Retterer is a good coach, read the Tao Te Ching, don't be fascist.
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1992 in spaceflight
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Re: Becoming Part of the Community

Post by 1992 in spaceflight » Tue Apr 14, 2015 11:26 pm

I started playing in high school during my senior year for the local MSHSAA format stuff (my friends on my high school team had tried to recruit me for two years before I joined, I seem to remember). MSHSAA didn't have NAQT as the question writer then-the questions were all Questions Galore-written clunkers, I freely recognize now.

My first semester at Truman, I had a night class for Public Speaking (it was unfortunately required for me to graduate, even though I was a history/theatre double major at the time). I didn't really get to practice a lot that first semester, generally only the last 30 minutes of practice.

My second semester of freshman year, Chris Zhang of the Missouri team asked me to come help out with the NAQT Qualifier at Mizzou. I ended up staying with Charlie Dees for the tournament, and some of the conversations I had with him about some questions I had written for Truman Bowl and some of the NAQT questions were what really inspired me to start getting better at writing questions. That tournament was what really peaked my interest in staffing high school events in the state, as well.

During my sophomore year, Sean Phillips really encouraged me to come staff more events in St Louis and to try and get more events going in the northeast. This is also the year I was nominated to be a member of the Missouri Quizbowl Alliance.

Another thing that happened that year was that I received an email before the start of my junior year inviting me to join HSAPQ as a freelance writer. Jason Loy later told me that he nominated me after seeing the questions I had written for a MOQBA attempt for writing for JV State. (And now, well, I'm a board member for HSAPQ)

In August, I started assistant coaching at Washington to help out David Dennis (for those who don't know him, Dennis is a middle school coach who decided to take over the head HS coaching role this year). This has been one of the most fun quizbowl years yet, and hopefully the next few are even better.

I don't know if there's anything I wish could have gone better. If anything, I wish I had started doing quizbowl seriously sooner.
Jacob O'Rourke
Washington (MO) HS Assistant Coach (2014-Present); MOQBA Secretary (2015-Present); HSAPQ Host Contact; NASAT Outreach Coordinator (2016 and 2017)
Formerly: Kirksville HS Assistant Coach (2012-2014); Truman State '14; and Pacific High (MO) '10


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Re: Becoming Part of the Community

Post by Peter13 » Wed Apr 15, 2015 2:35 am

Growing up, I was really interested in watching Jeopardy and Reach (the local format) on television. Sadly, when I went to high school, we didn't have a team that played in any inter-school format, and I was to busy/lazy to start one up. So my first quizbowl experience was at university.

In my first year at McMaster, I sadly didn't do much quizbowl wise. As some may remember, I made a fool of myself by using outdated stats to state who I thought was going to win ICT/ACF. Speaking about the community, while some made good constructive criticism of why I was wrong, others derided me to no end. (Later on, I made an effort to research teams, and got a back-handed compliment from John Lawrence in return for my troubles.)

Over my second year, I made an effort to go to more tournaments and interact more with quizbowlers in my region especially. While I am not by any means one of the best players at tournaments, I have learned to either become a more aggressive leader on our B team, or be a more patient fourth scorer for our A team. This has caused me to become more of a generalist and strengthen in areas where I lacked knowledge or interest in before (i.e. art and literature). I have also be complimented on writing decently, which is good, given the capricious quality our club has in packet writing ability.

Looking towards the immediate future, I would like to get better over the summer and play/staff at a large event (e.g. Chicago Open) so I can actually get a better idea of the larger community, whose knowledge I have mostly ascertained from this forum.
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Re: Becoming Part of the Community

Post by Beevor Feevor » Wed Apr 15, 2015 7:37 am

Before I describe how I got involved in the community, I'd just like to say that I'm really liking the way that this Quizbowl History subforum is coming along. All of these threads are very accessible for new people to post in, unlike the threads of old where it was mainly discussions of eras that most current players may not have experienced, and I think that it's nice to have a place where people can share about their own personal Quizbowl histories as well.

In the second half of 8th grade, I was studying furiously for my upcoming National Spelling Bee experience (which, although atrocious, was very good in drilling some discipline into my head). Our high school's Quizbowl coach heard of me as the weird kid who would spend several hours in the library studying every day, and introduced himself to me during one of those study halls to tell me about Quizbowl. I started participating my freshman year in only VHSL activities, which is all that my school did at that point, and as a reserve player, I was on a team that got 3rd place at VHSL States. I distinctly remember all of the blowouts against Michael Zhang's Cave Spring and Matt Moschella's Christiansburg; those were quite humbling experiences back in the day.

During my sophomore year, our coach decided to take us to Cavalier Classic in order for us all to get a tune-up tournament before the VHSL season, not really understanding that 20/20 Quizbowl was something a little different. We attended, and I had a ton of fun, even though we were again trounced pretty readily by some experienced circuit teams. After discovering that stats for the tournament existed and that the forums were a pretty helpful resource, I lurked for a little while before making a thread to try and get some advice from all of these college and experienced high school players. The tips from that thread were all exceedingly helpful and friendly, and I would say that above all else, I was just happy that people were responding to me when I asked them for help and advice, and that really helped me get into the community.

Also, Evan Adams was very kind to extend an invitation to me to attend UVa practices during my sophomore year. I have fond memories of my (I believe) 3rd practice there ever, when I found myself sitting in a room with Evan, Matt, Dennis Loo, and David Seal while playing some stupidly hard college open. No matter how ridiculously overmatched I felt in those situations, I enjoyed hearing about all the artists and terms that I had never previously encountered, and that made me want to study even more to become part of a community that also valued such things.
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Re: Becoming Part of the Community

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Wed Apr 15, 2015 8:01 am

When I was in college in the 2000's at UChicago, most of the tournaments were in places that were several hours away by car, such as Ann Arbor MI or Urbana IL, or even occasionally a random place like Cleveland. The UChicago team would drive out on Friday night and stay at a nearby motel. Often, other quizbowl teams would be staying at the same motel. Some of my fondest memories of college quizbowl were from Friday nights before the tournament, when the UChicago and Michigan quizbowl teams (who were very friendly with each other at that time) would hang out together at the motel or going out to dinner. Also, the drive itself could be several hours long, and you were forced to have fun with the other people in your car. I remember some of those drives much better than I remember the actual tournaments I played. There were car games and such, some of which were surprisingly educational.

When I moved to the New England circuit, this was totally missing, because everything was closer to everything else, and teams just arrived at the tournament site on Saturday morning after a short drive or short train ride and started playing, without hanging out first.

EDIT: but in terms of becoming a member of the "quizbowl community"...becoming not just "oh yeah, he's that guy on Chicago" but becoming somebody people would go up to at tournaments and say "oh wow it's Bruce its great to finally meet you!", that didn't happen until I became a regular in the quizbowl chatroom.
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Re: Becoming Part of the Community

Post by AKKOLADE » Wed Apr 15, 2015 8:30 am

i have no clue
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Re: Becoming Part of the Community

Post by Rococo A Go Go » Wed Apr 15, 2015 10:59 am

My uncle was on the academic team when I was a kid, and my parents used to take me to watch the games. A few times the team would let me practice with them, and while 5 year old me was not really useful, I knew a handful of things and liked having a buzzer that made cool noises. My elementary school didn't have an academic team back then (it does now) so I didn't get to start playing until 6th grade.

It took me until my senior year of high school to discover pyramidal quizbowl, however. It would all have been a lot easier if I had known when I was younger that there were a bunch of tournaments to attend and questions to read online, and not just studying old quick recall packets so we could play league matches and Governor's Cup.
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"Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free."--Eugene V. Debs

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Re: Becoming Part of the Community

Post by Guile Island » Wed Apr 15, 2015 11:13 am

I was hooked on quizbowl pretty much from the moment I picked up a buzzer, but the real catalyst to getting me more involved in going to good tournaments and learning about the circuit as a whole was going to my first HSNCT in 2011. That was also the moment I realized that someday I could be really good at this game if I put enough work into it, and saw incredible improvements at the start of the next year of competition.
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Re: Becoming Part of the Community

Post by The Formiddable Dark Skeik » Wed Apr 15, 2015 11:49 am

When I was in sixth grade, my friend told me about a club called "scholastic bowl," and encouraged me to go with him to the first practice. I almost didn't go, but I ended up going because I played KMO in elementary school, and I was told scholastic bowl was like that, the rest is history.
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Re: Becoming Part of the Community

Post by Muriel Axon » Wed Apr 15, 2015 1:07 pm

Despite having produced Matt Lafer some ten years earlier (I think), my high school/district was a mess. None of our coaches lasted more than a year - the first one, the only one who actually coached, got arrested for soliciting a minor. Wayne County had a bizarre setup in which teams played one NAQT set per year, with just a handful of games each month. I distinctly remember beating Neil Gurram's DCDS team our freshman year but being demolished by them the next (about 1000-330 over two packets), presumably because they'd had so much more practice. Anyway, we qualified for and attended HSNCT my junior and senior year, but none of us were very serious about it.

My freshman year at MSU, I showed up semi-regularly to practices but played only one tournament (Collegiate Novice). I probably would have continued playing at most 1-2 tournaments a year had not Joe Nutter and Connor Teevens arrived the next year. After the first practice, they suggested that I join their team for MoO, where we were dismantled by Will Nediger playing solo. After ICT, the Delaware team convinced us to write a high school housewrite with them the following summer, which was also the only time in my quiz bowl career that I've ever seriously studied. I also joined the forums around then, got mocked for my ridiculous first few posts, and managed to offend Chris Borglum somehow.
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Re: Becoming Part of the Community

Post by mtn335 » Wed Apr 15, 2015 1:09 pm

After a childhood of Jeopardy!, Geography Bee, whatever quiz games I could find on computer or get my family to play with me on the table, etc, my high school announced "People interested in quiz bowl, show up here on this day." Freshman me had no idea what "quiz bowl" was but it had "quiz" in it so I went. As others have said, hooked from the first day.

Now, my high school (in Idaho) played Idaho's old proprietary format (since deceased), which was run by the national lab (INL / INEEL / INEL at various times) apparently since the 50s or 60s. Mostly similar to what we know, but 1-part, 5-point bonus questions, on which substitutes (up to 3) could also participate. Timings were much longer, too (10s before tossup died, 20s to come up with bonus answer. Yeah, I know.) Nobody there had heard of NAQT or anything else besides science bowl, to which our state champions went.

I captained my team to a title as a senior, then went off to Gonzaga University, which had just started a CBI program. Great! I played there, we missed out painfully on two trips to NCT, but I had a blast. In the pacific northwest, nobody knew anything else existed. Everyone played CBI and CBI only. Then my junior year, a teammate of mine (Amanda Walker, who volunteers for NAQT still) got on College Jeopardy!. A couple of months later, the 15 players in that tournament were invited to staff at HSNCT, and Jeopardy did a teen tournament tryout onsite (2006). That was the first any of us knew what NAQT was. We learned more but not in time to get anything going the next year, but when Amanda got Joel's "I need more people! Know anybody?" e-mail, we all got invited and 6 of us went in 2007.

A few years later, somebody asked me to organize scrimmages, and that went well and led to more tasks, which led to me becoming staff coordinator, then logistics director, then a member. Along the way I found this board, got to know a bunch of people, and generally made myself useful enough that people tolerate me hanging around. :-)
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Re: Becoming Part of the Community

Post by UlyssesInvictus » Wed Apr 15, 2015 2:21 pm

Despite being a fairly academically competitive middle school, my middle school (Rachel Carson) never had a quizbowl club in any form; so when I went to Thomas Jefferson, I had no idea what quizbowl was. TJ has a good club system, so I zeroed in quickly on the description of a trivia-like club (which I knew I would enjoy). It turned out to be a lot of fun, but that was relegated to club hours during the school day, and I had no idea that real tournaments actually existed during the weekend. (Come to think of it, I never even questioned where the people reading during practices were getting those questions...I guess I just assumed they made them themselves).

The first tournament I ever went to was the 2009 NSC as part of the D (E?) team that the club officers probably recruited just because the NSC was nearby and needed teams. I got wrecked--the only question I remember was a tossup on Anton Chekhov that I thought was being delivered in a foreign language. Our pitiless team of backups was trashed by DCC and Aidan and Friends (I think this included MattBo at this point, but I honestly only remember Aidan powering everything -_-).

I owe a lot to Daniel Hothem and the rest of the TJ officers (Stephen Eltinge, Oliva Murton, Diana Gerr, Uncle Squid, James Bradbury) for eventually reaching out to get me seriously involved my sophomore year, when I went to HFT. That was the first tournament I played at where I actually had some idea of what I was doing; and I realized quizbowl was even more fun when you had being competitive as a goal. Daniel Hothem especially did a lot to get me into quizbowl, since he was the captain of the B team that grew progressively stronger over the year off my and Jonathan Leidenheimer's growth. The year was capped off by us beating the TJ A team at HSNCT, which, I guess, was the watershed of me being seriously involved in quizbowl.
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Re: Becoming Part of the Community

Post by Tees-Exe Line » Wed Apr 15, 2015 2:53 pm

Alright, well.

My high school disdained having anything to do with inter-school competitions in which there was some danger of being beaten by schools deemed "lesser" than ourselves. So my two-phase introduction to quizbowl was due entirely to the Virginia Diaspora. At the end of my first year at Oxford (this would be the spring of 2003), I started attending Oxford University Quiz Society practices thanks to my friend Laura Pfuntner, who had played for Yorktown High School in Arlington and, I believe, appeared on "It's Academic." She'd fallen in with the quiz crowd at Oxford, which was then in a phase of not holding inter-university competition of any kind and instead relying on the weak edifice of University Challenge to determine the best university quiz team in the UK. Nonetheless, weekly practices were quite fun. In both phases of my career, the initial hook was a long, relaxing evening once or twice a week in the company of notably eccentric, charming personalities. In the Oxford phase, those were Luke Pitcher, Dorjana Sirola, Ben Fletcher, and Ed Brims. I had no idea then, but the questions we played on were pirated from across the sea from, I gather, NAQT. I doubt we ever used anything more difficult than ACF Fall, because in those days I regularly answered literature tossups. But I really have no idea.

The following year, a refugee showed up: Yogesh Raut, on a year abroad from either USC or UCLA, I forget which. He brought with him the idea that it was possible to get very good at quizbowl as a skill unto itself, whereas the UK contingent held very much to a distinctly British amateur ideal, whereby quizbowl points could only be scored thanks to native erudition or what I now know to be called "lateral thinking." Yogesh also brought a disdain for and a set of grievances against the American quizbowl circuit that I didn't even remotely comprehend.(*) That year, I was frogmarched onto the Balliol College team for both University Challenge and the Inter-collegiate Quiz, which determined the best team among Oxford Colleges. My teammates were Peter Baker, a very brilliant physicist who I believe works at CERN now, Jamie Lee, now a Professor of Law at either Birmingham or Edinburgh, and Jennifer O'Donnell, who I believe is a doctor in London or thereabouts. After barely scraping into the playoff round of ICQ, Balliol looked set for early elimination in a tournament set to be dominated by either Somerville, with Luke and Dorjana leading the squad, or St. John's, with Ben and Ed. There was also a perennial contender from Worcester, as I recall.

(*) EDIT 4/23/2015: Yogesh informs me that, first of all, he was a student at Stanford at the time, and second of all, that the grievances he expressed were at the rest of the Stanford team, rather than the quizbowl circuit as a whole, with which he had had little contact at that point.

The evening of February 29th, 2004 turned out to be a major turning point in my life. First of all, St. John's, Somerville, and Worcester all lost early to upstarts Brasenose, led by Yogesh, and Corpus Christi, led by an obnoxious, Shantanu-like savant named Stefano Mariani. (My career has also been powered by an appropriately-attired enemies list.) Balliol went up against Brasenose in the semi-final and somehow held off the Yogesh onslaught. We then faced Corpus in the final, and as I recall we had a lead until they got a run of four or five starters toward the end. These matches were all played on the clock, and the rule was that the match simply ceased when time ran out, with the score taken at that moment. A tossup began "in 1910, this style of music...." I buzzed in with "ragtime." The moderator said "correct." The timer went off. Final score: Corpus 310, Balliol 315.

That spring Balliol was also invited to appear on University Challenge (the selection process was a combination of a written quiz and an interview with one of their scouts, who evidently selected teams based on whether the members looked and acted normal enough to appear on television.) We thus journeyed to Manchester several times and spent a day on set at Granada Studios, legendary producers of, among other things, the first BBC version of Brideshead Revisited. Part of each of those afternoons was spent drinking wine with Jeremy Paxman. Our first match, against Downing College, Cambridge, was pretty close and I think we made it through by the skin of our teeth. I think I was anomalously our top scorer in that match, because two of the tossups began "This president followed James Buchanan in office..." and "Guerrero, Tabasco, Chiapas, Jalisco, Veracruz..." It helped to have an American on the team. There was also a tossup in which the giveaway was "name this seed which is used as a condiment." My venture of "mustard" after a five-second silence turned out to be on the mark. That had an odd counterpart in the final of the 2010 ICT, on a myth question about "corn" that, so I understood, comes in "cobs."

After Downing, I think we dispatched Manchester and Edinburgh without much fuss. In the quarterfinal, we encountered the dread Corpus, and this time they had their revenge, I'm sorry to say, and went on to win the tournament. And that looked to be that for Marshall in quiz.

Precisely four years after my triumph at the 2004 ICQ, on February 29th, 2008, I received a very surprising letter in the mail (I was living in upper Manhattan at the time). It informed me I was accepted to study for a Ph.D. in the heart of everything evil, the University of Chicago Economics Department. The next day, Professor Hugo Sonnenschein called me on my cellphone. I had no idea who he was, but he informed me that I'd been admitted because Robert Lucas thought my undergraduate thesis was very interesting. I most certainly did know who Robert Lucas was.

The following August I showed up and it was immediately clear I was in way over my head. But, I did connect with another member of the Virginia Diaspora, Eric Nielsen, who had played for Maggie Walker in high school (overlapping Matt Weiner for a year) and for Harvard as an undergrad. He had a story about taking the first six or eight tossups away from some guy named Seth Teitler at a tournament four or five years earlier before said Seth realized that it was time to put a stop to that right now and answered the following twelve. And Seth, it turned out, was still to be found leading the University of Chicago quizbowl team to one triumph after another! Eric told me that if I wanted to, I could rejoin the world of organized academic competition.

I think my first practice was in late January or early February, 2009, and Eric happened not to be around. I was told to walk into a room in Harper, which I did, and sat down alone at one end of the table. Questions were being read and answered by people whom I didn't know saying things I didn't understand and had never heard before. Then a bonus came up about the Korean War. The hard part asked who succeeded Douglas MacArthur. All was silence, and I simply said "That's Matthew Ridgway." Seth, Michael Arnold, Nolan Esser, David Seal, Shantanu Jha, Paul Gauthier, and Susan Ferrari all looked at me, plainly registering "who the fuck is this?" As I said above, the main hook in both my Oxford and Chicago phases was the enjoyable cast of characters with whom I got to spend an evening each week.

A month or so later, Marnold asked me if I wanted to play on the A team at FICHTE 2, since Shantanu and David were set to be off on spring break or something. My first tournament experience was rather bewildering, and I think it featured many of those whom I later found out to be luminaries, as Jerry and the Harvard squad had all flown in. I think I negged many times, but I also got at least one match-winning power against a good team (Harvard? Minnesota?) by knowing something about local politics in Nevada. We ended up being beaten by Minnesota in the final. Then there was Ryan Westbrook's "experiment" thing, in which I apparently garnered attention for knowing that Cadillac Mountain is in Acadia National Park.

I'll stop there, because the world doesn't want an account of my career at Chicago. If you do, you can read this. I will say something along the lines of Jonathan's post above: when I first started to dip my toe in the quizbowl world *outside* the Chicago team, I immediately felt ostracized. I took it on myself to tide the Chicago team over following Seth's departure, which is why I instigated Sack of Antwerp. That tournament had major problems thanks to lack of follow-through by writers and my essential lack of qualification to head-edit when I was only competent in some categories (if that). Selene rescued us from complete oblivion in the final week, but the tournament was clearly not well-received. In those days I wasn't much active on the forums and didn't even know what IRC was. The clear message I got from what I did hear was "Marshall's not one of us," and when the following academic year I proposed collaborations with lots of teams, the only person who deigned to have anything to do with me was the estimable Ike Jose, equally ostracized at the time, whose only fault was taking his eclectic set of interests seriously. Dragging a major cheating episode into the open seemingly only confirmed the hostility of the "quizbowl community" at large.

I'm not sure whether the fact that I was already a grad student or that I had somehow alienated people with confrontational political statements on Facebook or by commenting out of turn on tournaments discussed here is what explains the resulting alienation, rather than gradual acceptance that Jonathan reported, but I am, obviously, bitter about it. To some extent I enjoy the hatred of the rest of you, but I can also definitely report that as regards quizbowl, I identified with Jimmy McGill's character at the close of this recent season of Better Call Saul.

And that is that. Fiends.
Last edited by Tees-Exe Line on Fri Apr 24, 2015 3:56 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Becoming Part of the Community

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Wed Apr 15, 2015 3:05 pm

I guess a lot of people are talking about how they started playing quizbowl. That's fine - I'm not authorized to tell anyone how to post. But to me, starting to play quizbowl and becoming a member of the quizbowl community are two very different things. I feel like there were several years between when I picked up a buzzer for the first time, and when I became a "member of the community".
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Re: Becoming Part of the Community

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Wed Apr 15, 2015 3:06 pm

Since people seem to be talking about both their HS and college experiences, I can just talk about both.

My first encounter with anything quiz-related was elementary school, 5th grade Knowledge Master. It was a lot of fun, and it's something that I continued to do until I graduated from high school (at which point I thought getting something like 20th was a spectacular achievement).

My first encounter with buzzers was when I was in 6th grade; a friend and I would be bussed to the district's middle school to take math, but because the middle school started an hour earlier, we had to sit in the gifted teacher's room during homeroom. As luck would have it, the teacher organized a league on speedcheck questions for the gifted students in the school, with one game being played during homeroom one day a week; even better, if someone didn't show up, they'd let me play. My first memory of this was me answering a question on "abolitionists", but not being given points because I wasn't recognized. I really enjoyed this Scholar's Bowl thing - I was good at the computational math, which immediately made me an asset. When I actually got to middle school, my team lost the league because I forgot to show up for our quarterfinal match.

Despite (or because of?) the fact that Kansas was run on bad speedcheck questions, there were always a full plate of tournaments to play every year, with JV and Varsity options always available (though KSHSAA limited you to 8 per year). By the time I was a sophomore, I was made JV captain and put on as fifth player on the Varsity team (the latter because of computational math). We were pretty competitive throughout my time in high school, and I remember really looking forward to "Scholars' Bowl" tournaments, possibly more than any other activity. My teacher gave me old Patrick's Press questions to learn from, which really taught me the things you need to succeed at that format (I still remember one several-part bonus on the rivers of the Greek underworld that continues to pay dividends). We had two great rivals, Lawrence Free State and Wichita East (the latter of whose coach is on this board), and would split games pretty evenly with them. This lasted until my senior year, in which me and another team member decided to really study and win it all; that year, of around ~100 games, we lost something like 4, going undefeated at both regionals and state. It was a good day.

Then I went to Brown. I looked for the quiz bowl team at the activities fair. It wasn't there. I remember being really disappointed about that, and asking my student advisor whether such a thing existed at the college level - she seemed to think so, though she didn't know anything about it. I kind of put it out of my mind until one day, I see this really tall dude, sitting at a makeshift table in the mailroom, with a hand-written poster and a signup sheet for something called "quiz bowl"; it was Jerry. I had found my people! I signed up, and showed up to practice. Wow, this was really, really different. I got no questions, except for one on "Heideggar" at the end, and maybe one or two biology questions. I disappeared for a while after that, thinking college QB wasn't for me, but I randomly came back and went to one tournament (it was at Brandeis, I think it was a mirror of a Vanderbilt tournament). Getting like 5 ppg certainly wasn't encouraging, but a pattern emerged where I could at least get the biology question in maybe half the games. I came back sophomore year and decided to do QB in earnest; I was the third best player on Brown's ACF Fall 2006 team (I firstlined a question on Shredder! That was great), and Dennis Jang and I decided to get good.

There were a few things that I remember really made me a part of the larger community. The first was obviously Jerry taking me to ACF Nationals 2007, where I again contributed biology and chemistry to the team (though at this point I could get it against good teams). The second was writing EFT 2007 with Dennis, which I spent an inordinate amount of time on that summer and was thankfully well-received, and I think made my name at least well-known. After that, taking on more editing and playing responsibilities helped.

I only really knew that I made it last year when the following happened. I was staffing QuaC, and walked into one of the game rooms (which had only one team, as we hadn't started yet) to ask for a schedule so I could figure out where I was going. The captain of that team asked me whether I was going to play against them. His teammate immediately turned to him and said, in a coarse whisper, "NO DUDE THAT'S ERIC MUKHERJEE!"
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Re: Becoming Part of the Community

Post by Red Panda Cub » Wed Apr 15, 2015 3:25 pm

Tees-Exe Line wrote:The evening of February 29th, 2004 turned out to be a major turning point in my life. First of all, St. John's, Somerville, and Worcester all lost early to upstarts Brasenose, led by Yogesh, and Corpus Christi, led by an obnoxious, Shantanu-like savant named Stefano Mariani. (My career has also been powered by an appropriately-attired enemies list.) Balliol went up against Brasenose in the semi-final and somehow held off the Yogesh onslaught. We then faced Corpus in the final, and as I recall we had a lead until they got a run of four or five starters toward the end. These matches were all played on the clock, and the rule was that the match simply ceased when time ran out, with the score taken at that moment. A tossup began "in 1910, this style of music...." I buzzed in with "ragtime." The moderator said "correct." The timer went off. Final score: Corpus 310, Balliol 315.
Those interested in the stats from Marshall's ICQ adventures need look no further: http://users.ox.ac.uk/~quiz/comp/icq/ic ... ndex.shtml
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Re: Becoming Part of the Community

Post by ValenciaQBowl » Wed Apr 15, 2015 5:12 pm

This is an entertaining thread. Bruce may be right about it's original focus, but I find it interesting to hear how people first found the game AND a sense of community.

As a super-brief origin story, I'll just note that I left a cross country practice my senior year of high school (1985, whippersnappers!) and ran into an acquaintance leaving a portable where the "Brain Bowl" team was playing. I went in, and a few questions later got my first-ever toss-up: Erwin Rommel (no jokes, please--the Post-Weiner Era has begun!). I ended up at UF the next year, played there, and have stayed in the game all this time, partly for the questions and competition, partly for the friendships and the nutty quiz bowl world in general.

I wasn't suprised by Jonathan's description of how he started to be noticed and spoken to more after he started scoring more points. This is an understandable behavior, but I think it's unfortunate that more of the game's better (or just better-known) players don't go out of their way to talk to the quiet noobs they come across while reading or playing at tournaments. Obviously some of them do, I know, but as Eric's anecdote shows, some friendly attention from "totally famous" quiz bowl luminaries can probably make someone's day.
I also joined the forums around then . . . and managed to offend Chris Borglum somehow.
Hmm, I don't remember this, Shan. I don't really get offended by much said about me at tournaments or on this site (EXCEPT CRUEL THINGS SAID ABOUT MY NEWSBOY CAPS, ROB CARSON ::sniff::), and, besides, we are buds for life whether you like it or not after playing with us at CO last year.
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Re: Becoming Part of the Community

Post by Cheynem » Wed Apr 15, 2015 5:24 pm

Shan might be referring to when you took mild umbrage at him not knowing who Theodore Roethke was.
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Re: Becoming Part of the Community

Post by Unicolored Jay » Wed Apr 15, 2015 5:55 pm

I feel like there were multiple stages for me as far as "becoming part of the community" goes, since for a while I was barely cognizant of anything going on outside of Ohio. My quizbowl journey starts further back, however, and if peopel are posting their quizbowl histories here I suppose there's no better thread to post my own.

From first through ninth grade, I was a student in Florence, South Carolina. The schools in the county and surrounding areas had a sort of quizbowl league going on, which mostly consisted of a few instances of playing at match against another school in the library of one of the schools after school hours, then followed by a tournament in March, which had a format more similar to Chipbowl than anything else. The questions were obviously bad; lots of them were one-liners, and they were full of riddles, comp math, trivia, hoses, that stuff. The round format was also rather wonky - there were four quarters, but the first two didn't even use buzzers - it consisted of directed questions for each team (10 per round for a total of 20, iirc). Anyway, during my middle school years, the team there had tryouts, and I made it both years, making it onto the team of 10 (although this format did only allow 4 players at a time). My team happened to be the super juggernaut that had been undefeated for several years in a row (counting all after-school hours and tournaments). That did not stop while I was around, so I never learned what defeat felt like.

In ninth grade, I tried out for the high school team but failed to make it. I don't think I missed much, though.

Sophomore year, I moved to Ohio. Obviously, as soon as I heard Solon had "Academic Challenge," I showed up to the first practice, but I found it was insane compared to my previous experiences (it was much more rowdy and more full of people then). It wasn't difficult to get used to pyramidal format, though, since most of the questions we read back then were NAQT. In the end, I was getting about the same number of questions there as I was back in my older days, so I stuck around, despite being unable to make it to a tournament until November, in which my personal undefeated record was gone after the first round. I wasn't bothered though, as it was a really fun experience, and I don't think I missed a tournament for the rest of that year; the very next tournament I was placed on the A team, and it stayed that way for the rest of high school except for a tournament or two where we split teams.

My first "becoming part of the community" moment came sometime in 2008, when I learned that Ohio had its own quizbowl forums. I joined it, was excited to hear that people there generally disliked how OAC was run, people such as Bob Kilner were actively discussing how teams and players were doing, and it was fun to hear about their own experiences with quizbowl. It made them seem a lot more than just opponents or "Garfield Heights is a really good team." From 2008 to whenever the forums crashed and Kilner had to make a new one, I was a rather active poster who was very willing to discuss Ohio quizbowl. It's sad some of the more fun things that went on there are lost forever.

I didn't get onto the national scene at all until late my junior year, when I found these forums for the first time; I think one of the first topics I looked at was the Neil Sammader cheating incident. Still, I mostly avoided this forum until I joined, posting mainly to discuss questions I played on and Mafia. Maybe I got myself some attention after playing Mafia in particular (the abortive Mafia 2 sticks out because I was the first lynch/suicide/whatever there), but I don't think it bothered me much in the long run. In the spring of 2010, I led an attempt at writing a high school question set that was intended to be "HSNCT/NSC difficulty," but it looked really bad by current standards. (Once I get my old laptop's hard drive back, I'll post the set.) By HSNCT my senior year, my team, which was good enough to get ranked in the high school polls, was certainly getting enough attention that I'd get recognized by and shake hands with people such as Matt Jackson before playing them. My performance playing NSC solo certainly got people's attention, too. By the end of my high school career, I was making friends all across the nation, and it was fun!

I'd say the last stage of me getting involved in the quizbowl community was born of three things: joining and then helping lead the OSU team during its time as a contender, continuing to stay involved in Ohio high school quizbowl by keeping tabs on it and helping hosting/staffing some tournaments (mostly OSU ones) during college, and putting question writing to good use through writing for HSAPQ, OAC, a barely-used high school set written by OSU and VCU, and editing ACF Fall 2012 and WIT. So there's a decent number of things I've done for quizbowl, but I'm definitely not done yet.
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Re: Becoming Part of the Community

Post by Muriel Axon » Wed Apr 15, 2015 6:13 pm

Cheynem wrote:Shan might be referring to when you took mild umbrage at him not knowing who Theodore Roethke was.
I was actually referring to a time (soon after ICT 2012) when a younger, more naive me wrote to Bradley from UCF:
I was surprised to learn during lunchtime that you guys had won the bracket outright, only to lose to Valencia B
Only to be rightly rebuked by Chris:
"Hey, hey, hey--settle down: don't go bracketing my Black team with your contempt-filled italics!"
So yeah, I was joking about offending Chris, but had he been actually offended, I wouldn't blame him. Anyway, that was one of my first posts on the forums. Not a great start.
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Re: Becoming Part of the Community

Post by Benin Rebirth Party » Wed Apr 15, 2015 6:33 pm

I got into the game from watching Reach for the Top, which aired 6:30 PM on TVO in high school. I have watched Rafael Kirchevsky and Will Nediger on TV. I Immediately joined the quizbowl team at Lisgar and became a regular at high school tournaments and later staffing tournaments, while going to the occasional college tournament. I played both Reach for the Top and Quizbowl in high school. Reach for the Top provincials had a social night before the tournament, where people would dress nicely for a dinner and some trivia games. This was a good way to meet people. In my grade 10 Reach Provincials gala, Lisgar's team sat with the famous Leslie Newcombe and the infamous Josh Alman. However, the gala lost its charm in later years as I went to more and more.

By the time I went to college, people knew me, but my real big break came when I played with Supreme Dictator of Hamilton, Jay Misuk, at Delta Burke in 2013 and we came 2nd after losing to Aayush's team by 5 points. Aayush was already good at this point, and made a comment to me about how surprised he was that I could consistently pick up all four science tossups in a game.

I went to the 2010 HSNCT and the 2011 NSC but didn't care much. My start in the "real" community happened when I staffed NSC and CO in 2013. People I had only ever known by name from the internet were all friendly to me. I was doing a summer research thingy in Chicago that summer, and I wish I had attended their summer practices instead of taking the advantage of Free Wednesday Nights at a theater for people who worked where I did. Then, going to ICT (fitting into a Lederberg team), MSNCT, HSNCT and CO last year felt fine. I am looking forward for more national tournaments this year, especially when I play the NSC Science Side Event, most likely with someone I don't know. Hopefully, I will continue attend as many of ICT/MSNCT/HSNCT/NSC/CO every year as I can.
magin wrote:Despite all that, I've been guilty of only talking to people I'm friends with at tournaments because it's fun and it's easy, so I know that it's more of a sin of omission than commission. But I think it's preferable that the onus is on insiders, rather than outsiders, to reach out.
A lot of the social stuff both my first summer out there in the real quizbowl world and this past summer MSNCT was me trying to meet new people and get my name out there in the community. Nobody was hostile and everyone was very welcoming, but to someone who is more shy in meeting others, then they would probably have a more difficult time in integrating with the rest of the community. It's a lot easier to say "hey let's all go hang out after the tournament" locally than nationally. Maybe there are capable staffers out there not going to national events because they don't know anyone there.

As an aside, I think that players D2 ICT is a great way to get themselves known and make new friends in the community. Sure, you'll have a few teams led by high school superstars that have played HSNCT since grade 9, but a lot of the players there will be at their first national tournament. To all teams at the D2 ICT in future years: go and socialize! Most of the other teams will also be in your situation.
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Re: Becoming Part of the Community

Post by Banned Tiny Toon Adventures Episode » Wed Apr 15, 2015 6:47 pm

I mostly just followed Ike around since he was my ride back
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Re: Becoming Part of the Community

Post by rylltraka » Wed Apr 15, 2015 7:16 pm

I don't think anyone wants to hear my life story, so I'll be brief.

In my middle school and HS years we played on a local format in rural Oregon. Meets were intermittent, question quality was of the speedcheck variety, format was fairly odd by normal standards. Made it to a couple regional matches on local public access, won one.

Socal quizbowl in the mid 2000s was very much a quizbowl island. We were familiar with the six other teams who were all the teams we ever played, with Berkeley and Stanford occasionally involved, and that was it. We liked some people, were fine with some, didn't like others, but we all knew each other very well. Question quality control, difficulty management, and other facets of the modern game were behind the times, better in some cases than others. I only posted to the forums to announce tournaments and such and was only vaguely aware of the wider community and the IRC.

If I remember it right, what got me into the "quizbowl community" was the furor over the last Ghetto Warz tournament I ran in 2008, because of, to put it mildly, some very risky decisions I made in terms of question content. Jerry got angry at the tournament/me (deservedly), I got angry at him for attacking from afar something I'd worked very hard on (a feeling I'm sure others have had), and once it all died down, I ventured into the IRC a while later, mostly out of curiosity and boredom. People there were actually quite interested in hearing about my team's misadventures. It became apparent that many of them were just bored quizbowl people of various stripes and not endlessly raging flame warriors, and even those that were weren't always at that setting. Over time people began to know my name, and I began to know theirs. And that was about it.
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Re: Becoming Part of the Community

Post by grapesmoker » Thu Apr 16, 2015 5:21 pm

I kind of put it out of my mind until one day, I see this really tall dude, sitting at a makeshift table in the mailroom, with a hand-written poster and a signup sheet for something called "quiz bowl"; it was Jerry.
As a grad student, I had no idea what the channels were for doing recruiting; in fact, since there was actually an officially extant quizbowl club that the previous founders had simply abandoned much in the way that one abandons an unwanted puppy, I couldn't even get the student government to recognize that we existed. Dennis Jang came along a year or two later and worked some black magic to make that happen.

The West Coast circuit was quite isolated in my day, so I don't think I really interacted much with the broader community until I was in my senior year at Berkeley, when I collaborated with Matt Weiner and some other folks on a spring tournament. Then I moved east and it became a lot easier to meet people, so everything went from there. I guess I knew I'd made it as a Quizbowl Personality when a friend of mine told me that one of her younger brother's friends, residing in Oregon, was in awe of her because, as she put it to me, "You know Jerry?!"
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Re: Becoming Part of the Community

Post by ScoBo » Fri Apr 17, 2015 1:59 am

I was primarily introduced to quizbowl by my older brother, Kyle. I didn't start playing quizbowl until my sophomore year of high school (fall 2002), since I was heavily involved in Science Olympiad in middle school/junior high - at the time, Liberty had grades 6-7 at the "middle school" and grades 8-9 at the "junior high", although I could have joined the team freshman year if I wanted to.

I joined the Missouri message board shortly after it was created in 2004 and met a lot of people throughout the state, including Matt Chadbourne, who I would later join at Missouri-Rolla. I eventually offered to register moquizbowl.com and point it to the website, and when the founder stepped down, Matt and I were made administrators of the board. Annoyed with the new message board software we were involuntarily migrated to, once I got my VPS set up, I moved the board to my server where it has been ad-free ever since. I also ended up taking over webmaster duties for the Missouri Academic Coaches Association.

At UMR, we ran two high school tournaments every year - a fall tournament in the 20/20 format and a spring tournament in MSHSAA format. We originally wrote the questions and applied some pyramidal principles, but eventually we didn't have enough manpower to continue that and we started using NAQT questions, including reformatting them into MSHSAA format for the spring tournament.

We always used SQBS for our tournaments at Rolla and were diligent about posting stats to our team website. After the 2007 spring tournament, the infamous Jeremy Gibbs praised the stat report and asked how it was created. Then Kent Buxton mentioned that the Truman ACO was having trouble with their webspace and unable to upload reports, which sparked the idea of hacking SQBS hosting onto my attempt at a web-based score collection program, which didn't take long at all. Not being too involved with the national scene, I never thought to post about it to hsquizbowl. Eventually, Charlie Dees pointed several people to it and use of scobo.net took off rapidly.

Around that time, Charlie Dees was leading the campaign for more pyramidal events in Missouri, producing frequent discussions on the Missouri message board. At that point, the events hosted at UMR, WUSTL, and occasionally Truman State were the best events available in the state. Shawn Pickrell wrote the MSHSAA districts and state tournaments in 2008, which was a step in the right direction. After he withdrew from consideration for 2009, MSHSAA went with Questions Galore, which was the catalyst that led Matt to suggest the formation of MOQBA. Our collective efforts to increase the number of pyramidal in the events have transformed the Missouri regular season significantly, with a healthy calendar of events completely following good quizbowl practices. Combined with the significant negative feedback against Questions Galore, MSHSAA started using NAQT questions in 2011. While the tournament still uses the same long four-quarter format and bad scheduling formula, these two events have led to more tournaments running on NAQT questions and in the tossup/bonus format, although many still use single-elimination playoffs and other MSHSAA-inspired practices.

Thanks to my continued involvement in MOQBA since its formation, I've gradually become more involved in the national community, becoming a member of PACE in 2009. I've staffed HSNCT since 2009 (initially being recruited through Matt) and NSC since 2010 (through my PACE membership), and plan to do so for the foreseeable future.

At some point, there was a request for someone in PACE to make some enhancements to the old tournament database, and I figured I'd give it a shot. I was totally unfamiliar with Ruby on Rails, and after struggling to make simple changes, decided that it would be better to start from scratch and integrate my SQBS report hosting as a key feature, and the Quizbowl Resource Database was born.

While I'm not a very social or vocal member of the national community (despite checking the forums several times a day and generally lurking in the IRC 24/7 since the 2011 NSC), I'm glad to play a significant role in the Missouri community with my moderating and logistical experience, as well as offering my technological abilities to improve resources for the national community when I find time to do so.

Then again, maybe I'm not truly part of the community until Nathan Murphy remembers my name at HSNCT staff check-in. :lol:

(This post was even longer and I realized it would be way too long early on, but I completed it anyway and posted it here for anyone bored enough to read the rest of my quizbowl life story.)
Jeffrey Hill • Missouri Quizbowl Alliance president • UMR/Missouri S&T 2009 • Liberty (MO) 2005
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Re: Becoming Part of the Community

Post by mtn335 » Fri Apr 17, 2015 1:18 pm

ScoBo wrote: Then again, maybe I'm not truly part of the community until Nathan Murphy remembers my name at HSNCT staff check-in. :lol:
Pick your favorite.

Response #1: "Sure I remember your name. It's your face that doesn't stick."

Response #2: "If I have to recognize somebody at check-in for them to be a community member, then the community is REALLY :capybara:ING SMALL"

Response #3: [Goes to facebook to study face flashcards]

Response #4: "I won't actually be at HSNCT in person this year, so HAHAHAHAHA YOU DON'T COUNT UNTIL 2016"

Response #5: "I should make Jonah add a mandatory picture field to the new staffing system."
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Re: Becoming Part of the Community

Post by Papa's in the House » Sun Apr 19, 2015 1:12 am

Sorice
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Re: Becoming Part of the Community

Post by vcuEvan » Tue Apr 21, 2015 2:36 pm

Tees-Exe Line wrote: I'm not sure whether the fact that I was already a grad student or that I had somehow alienated people with confrontational political statements on Facebook or by commenting out of turn on tournaments discussed here is what explains the resulting alienation, rather than gradual acceptance that Jonathan reported, but I am, obviously, bitter about it.
Yeah, what a mystery.
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VCU '11, UVA '14, NYU '15

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Re: Becoming Part of the Community

Post by Adventure Temple Trail » Thu Apr 23, 2015 12:27 pm

Well, I don't want to wade too far into my origin story here, in part because I don't really like mentally revisiting the first two or three years of my career, and in part because it'd end up scooping large sections of my forthcoming quizbowl memoirs a year or two from now. But:

In broad strokes, I started to feel like a member of the community when I began to care about, and see myself as a friend/acquaintance to, people outside my own school's team. This is a milestone that comes at different times for different people -- for some people it doesn't come at all and they're fine with that. But I'd say the experience of interacting largely with one's own team at tournaments is pretty qualitatively different from the experience after one's view expands out to see one's competitors as friends and social colleagues as well, that I didn't know what I was missing when my qbworld was limited largely to my own team, and that I'd be glad to see more people find more connections of the external sort that I've been so grateful to have had.

For me, this process didn't really happen until late 2008 or so, if not even later, after I'd been playing for about 1.5 to 2 years. Before that, I just showed up to play the game because I enjoyed the game; in spite of some friction within my high school's team, I knew about 30-40 PPG's worth of stuff from the start among the teammates I had, and enjoyed getting it against the somewhat hazy and interchangeable teams we played against. As I started to become more dedicated and recognizable to others, I was still somewhat delayed in getting to know people as actual friends, in that many of my interactions with people outside my team were mediated through a more Serious Member Of The Community inviting me into what was then the Circle of Top Players. This often felt to me as though I was a junior member / person taken in by a twinkly-eyed benefactor, rather than a true friend or equal (the assumption of that attitude being that I still hadn't "earned" my way into the discussion circle yet). This changed greatly as members of the classes of 2008 and 2009 graduated high school and I was able to become the author of my own QB social experience in a more direct way.

~~~

Some more general points which I think resonate with the above re: becoming a member of "The Community," whatever that is:
  • >In my experience:
  • The way to get recognition in the quizbowl community is to do things which are impossible (on some scale) to ignore.
  • The way to get respect in the quizbowl community is to do constructive things which are impossible to ignore.

    Recognition and respect are not the same thing. For example, many people get recognition solely from making a long string of terrible posts, or by scoring lots of points, or by doing something more benign such as cracking funny jokes / making funny buttons, or by doing something truly horrible such as plagiarizing or cheating. To become respected, rather than merely known or liked/disliked, requires doing more to actually keep the community afloat and requires those who can confer that sort of thing to notice that you've done it, e.g. editing a good tournament, becoming an efficient TD, making solid posts, etc. Sometimes, for sure, respect is granted mistakenly to someone who is overhyped, or who does seemingly good things poorly but won't stop crowing about their own achievements, etc. Sometimes respect is not granted to people who sorely deserve it. But I don't think those errors in either direction harm the substance of my distinction. The case of "has very high PPG" might be an edge case between recognition and respect. In the end, I'd probably contend that virtually every respected player in the college game is respected for the non-scoring work they put into the community and not for the mere fact that they can answer lots of questions. Correlation is high between those two things, but not absolute. Regardless, I think that most people who want to be recognized want to be respected as well, and should know the extra criterion that differentiates the two.

    >For better and for worse this is a pretty diffuse community where much business is conducted online and/or at great distances. Many great in-person achievements go unheralded because most of the heralding happens on the Internet. As such, it's pretty important to herald things that you're excited by on the Internet, whether that's an up-and-coming player doing well at a local tournament, a particularly efficient or well-TD'd tournament effort, or whatever. Many of us are separated by hundreds or thousands of miles, and there's no good way to get good information on who might be reliable across those distances unless a lot of info about local "heroes" is out there in the air.

    >It is a mere social fact about the quizbowl community that there is pretty much one "inner circle" of maybe 40 to 100 devoted players and organizers who talk largely to each other in familiar language, surrounded by much larger overlapping sets of people of lower levels of involvement. (Perhaps there's a concentric outer circle of active forums/QB-Internet users surrounding the innermost circle, which is in turn surrounded by the overlapping sets of peripheries.) This state of affairs isn't in my view inherently bad or inherently good, but it is in fact the case. We could stand to do more to help people in the outer circles understand more about what happens in the inside circle (or, for some, that such a place even exists) so they can make informed judgments about whether or not to join in more deeply. Plenty of people will be happy just going to tournaments here or there and having a View from Saturday-esque experience bonding with their own team, but others might want more and not know how to go about getting it.

    >Look around you. Do what you can to bring in players who are newer or less experienced when you're in a circle of people talking about something. Experienced players: Treat newer players with respect instead of blowing them off, ignoring them, or putting them down (seriously, who do you think you are?) You never know who could develop into a serious star if treated properly -- or who will develop into a serious star because you treated them improperly or overlooked them.

    >Don't hound people out of quizbowl for the mere reason that you dislike them. Similarly, don't let yourself get hounded out by anyone who assumes you "don't belong" or don't "fit in" or whatever. This didn't happen to me, but I know some people to whom it did happen, and I regret greatly that it happened in each instance. Without delving all the way into cliches about "nerrrrrds" and social skills and whatnot, this is a game that has to accommodate many levels of social competency and many different personality types in order to be large and successful. It will help all of us to have the prudence to distinguish behavior which is actively harmful and worth castigating/sanctioning/shunning on that basis from behavior which is merely annoying and which can be allowed to roll off our collective back. Many truly annoying people have gone on to contribute a lot. (...Hi :neutral: *waves*)

    >Marshall's post makes me think about something, and that something is the University of Chicago. There is a reason why UChicago has had by far the most successful quizbowl team of all time and, barring serious disaster, will always be a serious high-level contender with a consistency that no other team will match. (That's a challenge, non-Chicago people; it's not inexorable fate.) The reason is because it's not just an assortment of persons who happen to play the same game, or even just a true "team" which does so with dedication and zeal -- it's a real community of its own right, with elders and lore and traditions and expectations and camaraderie and all that good stuff. When I was doing my part to bring the Yale Renaissance to full fruition, I tried to do all I could to foster a team of Chicago-esque size and camaraderie, and explicitly so, at least in my own vision. Realizing the many obstacles to this wish, I would be happy to see a world in which many more teams were like Chicago in terms of closeness, size, alumni connections, seriousness, and vivacity (perhaps pocketbook size is too much to hope for), year-in and-year-out. Perhaps a true geographic determinist would say that the shorter car rides of the Northeast make it harder for teams there, and of course, very few teams have an alumni network that still talks to and cares about the current team while reminiscing about its own past in the way that Chicago does with Yaphe, Seth, Subash, Susan, Selene, Michael Arnold, David Seal, Marshall, Bruce Arthur, Sam Bailey, Margo, Connie, etc. etc. all at least semi-active in current discussion circles. But perhaps it'd help the quizbowl community as a whole if more people thought about how best to make their subcommunities into lasting places that future driven quizbowlers will want to keep going long after they themselves are gone.

    >Lastly, from someone with far more cachet than I:
    Andrew Yaphe, Nats '14 discussion thread wrote:You're a member of the community, and you are on record as having voiced opinions--hence, "vocal member of the community"!
    ^This is as good a standard as any.
Matt J.
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member emeritus, ACF

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Re: Becoming Part of the Community

Post by Cheynem » Thu Apr 23, 2015 12:54 pm

I'll answer this in two ways:

In 2008, I was an incoming doctoral student at the University of Minnesota. I hadn't played quizbowl since my senior year of high school (2002), although I (sort of) followed the game on and off (I had, for whatever reason, read a couple of ACF Regionals packets at some point). I saw Minnesota had a team and decided it might be fun to at least attend a few practices and see where I stacked up. I had no idea at this point if my knowledge base was good, bad, or medium. At the time, I was obviously way more interested in surviving my first year of a doctoral program in a city I had never lived in before. Fortunately, my first year at Minnesota, I was on fellowship so I had no teaching responsibilities, so I think my free time was greater than it normally was.

I attended a practice. It was kind of fun. I didn't really click with anyone, but that's because I'm kind of an introvert. We played something...it was actually pretty hard I think for new people, like a Kentucky Wildcat? I got some buzzes. I remember at one point Andrew saying "seems like you have some good film knowledge," which I liked. Anyway, nothing really compelled me at this point to change my plan from "attend practices, maybe play a few tournaments Minnesota hosts, but that's it." Keep in mind at this point I had no idea how the game worked, so I didn't know about the writing component. The first tournament was EFT in Illinois. I didn't want to go; that would kill a weekend and that's not good in grad school.

The week leading up to that trip, I managed to get a good deal of work done and decided, you know, what the hell, let's do it. So I e-mailed Andrew a few days before and asked if there was still room for me to go. He said yeah, so I showed up. In some ways, it was one of my least favorite trips actually because it took friggin' forever and I got vaguely carsick on the way back. It was a rude introduction to the madcap world of quizbowl travel and it kicked my ass on Saturday night, that's for sure. On the other hand, it was a wonderful experience. I think I finished 10th in scoring or something and it convinced me I could play this game (Minnesota Open a few weeks later would convince me I could NOT play it, but that's another story). It was a fun tournament--I lost by a tossup to Greg Peterson, Shantanu Jha kind of complimented me on a tossup, Mike Sorice drove me somewhere, very enjoyable. But basically if I had not made that spur of the moment decision to attend, I don't think I would have become serious about the game.

It's hard to say when I became a member of the "community." Maybe when I first went into IRC. Maybe when someone first asked me to play a tournament with them that wasn't a Minnesota team member. Maybe when I wrote my first tournament (I think having various luminaries' reactions to my lit set, which was pretty rough in retrospect, was very exciting. Having Mike Sorice and Seth Teitler say they liked your tossups was a very great feeling). One example I think is VCU Open 2009, in which noted archfiend and jerkass Andy Watkins said he would play with me during an IRC conversation and then posted, saying those were just "casual Internet conversations" and he wanted to play with better people. I played on a charming team with Evan Silberman, Sarah Angelo, and George Berry, all people I had never met or encountered really prior to that point. I really felt like a community member at that point, having folks I didn't know before quizbowl seemingly enjoy my presence.

So basically my point is kind of similar to Matt's in that a few decisions or encounters here or there can really push someone into playing quizbowl and taking it seriously. Due to my own introversion, maybe I wouldn't have come back to practice if Andrew hadn't complimented a buzz. If i had never gone to that EFT, maybe I wouldn't have become an active member. And then I wouldn't have written CO History. And then Marshall would have been happier. So in a way, that first practice ruined Marshall's life.
Mike Cheyne
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Re: Becoming Part of the Community

Post by Rufous-capped Thornbill » Thu Apr 23, 2015 1:03 pm

And mine.
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Re: Becoming Part of the Community

Post by grapesmoker » Thu Apr 23, 2015 1:34 pm

Nothing brings a team together like quizbowl travel disasters.
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Re: Becoming Part of the Community

Post by Tees-Exe Line » Thu Apr 23, 2015 1:51 pm

Cheynem wrote:So in a way, that first practice ruined Marshall's life.
Wait, so all these years I've been pricking my voodoo doll of you, when in fact it should have been Andrew? FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK.
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Re: Becoming Part of the Community

Post by Rococo A Go Go » Thu Apr 23, 2015 2:45 pm

grapesmoker wrote:Nothing brings a team together like quizbowl travel disasters.
We should probably have a travel disaster thread at some point too, it seems everybody who has been around the game long enough has at least one horror story to share.
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Re: Becoming Part of the Community

Post by grapesmoker » Thu Apr 23, 2015 3:00 pm

Yawar Fiesta wrote:
grapesmoker wrote:Nothing brings a team together like quizbowl travel disasters.
We should probably have a travel disaster thread at some point too, it seems everybody who has been around the game long enough has at least one horror story to share.
I thought we did have one of those? I have a lot of contributions to make!
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Re: Becoming Part of the Community

Post by Red Panda Cub » Thu Apr 23, 2015 3:15 pm

While not a part of the American quizbowl community as such, I think that the way I got into quizbowl in the first place is sufficiently unique to warrant a post here.

I had always liked quizzes and watched University Challenge (the British version of College Bowl) and thought that it was great that you could buzz in to answer. When I entered high-school I learnt that my school had an in-house quizbowl tournament that was a lot like what I understand Chip to be. I played it with some friends and won it in my first year of high school and never again. In my last year I lost on a tie-breaker about the kind of hat that Sherlock Holmes wore. I buzzed in early and struggled to pull "deerstalker" and, when pressed for an answers, instead went with noted other hat beginning 'de', the "derby". That was embarrassing. Anyway, those quizzes gave me the bug and I wanted more.

Inter-school quizbowl exists in a sense in the UK, but it is basically just Chip/University Challenge for youngsters. Unfortunately the only way to take part seems to be by going to an old and prestigious private school that has already been taking part for many years. There is no contact information for the people who run it available on the internet, from what I can see. So when I realised quizzes that involved buzzing were lots of fun I was all but out of options. I searched around the internet for a long time looking for something I could get involved in and eventually found these forums. I read some posts trying to find anything about quizbowl in the UK and noticed a person called Kyle posting. I, of course, recognised the venerable Kyle Haddad-Fonda from his storming UC appearances earlier that year. At this point I knew I was going to Oxford so I messaged Kyle asking what I should do to get involved once I arrived.

Kyle sent a very encouraging reply and promised to find me a team for the 2012 Oxford Open while I was still at school. This was great! I would get to play people I knew from the TV like Ian Bayley and Kevin Ashman, even though Kyle promised me that "neither Bayley nor Ashman nor Honey will be on the winning team; in the grand scheme of things, adults can't compete against college students playing at the best level." Anyway, I played OOT 2012 on a team whose top scorer was Andrew Hart's brother, Matt. I managed to get some tossups and tell my grannie I had met many of her favourite TV personalities from the Eggheads, and I became the first high schooler to play quizbowl in the UK.

Thanks to Kyle I was able to take part in a few more tournaments. I played MUT with two guys from my school, I played for Cambridge (!!!) at Deep Bench where I had to play Kyle in the singles A match, and I played in the British Student Quiz Championships. I won precisely one game, total, through all those tournaments, and that was at OOT, so I lost a lot of consecutive games. I was not at all discouraged by this, and instead found all this stuff I could learn about rather exciting. Funnily enough, around this time Kyle compared me to Andy Watkins, though in a positive light. :lol:

Once I got to Oxford I knew most of the people in the Quiz Society (OUQS) from my time on the circuit as the overly keen schoolboy. From then there isn't much to say about my own story, but I do have to commend OUQS. It has a short but very interesting history and most of its more involved members do hold a significant veneration for those who came before them. We have our own mythological figures, many of whom are still around, whether on TV or as editors, Briticisers and moderators of tournaments.
Joey Goldman
Oxford '17

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Re: Becoming Part of the Community

Post by jonpin » Thu Apr 23, 2015 4:01 pm

Concur on the travel stories thing. My freshman year of college quiz bowl featured a trip to Penn Bowl that simply became known as India-f****-apolis.
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Re: Becoming Part of the Community

Post by ThisIsMyUsername » Thu Apr 23, 2015 7:26 pm

It seems like people are discussing three different (if related) phenomena: (1) how they got into quizbowl (2) how they became an entrenched enough part of the circuit that their name might be recognizable even to those playing/meeting them in person for the first time (3) how they became respected members of the community. I'll say a little bit about my relationship to each of these things.

I did not hear about quizbowl until my senior year of high school. I went to Dalton, a private school in NYC. And at that point, NYC private schools were not involved in quizbowl, with the exception of Trinity. (For all I know, this may still be the case.) I toyed with the idea of trying to start a quizbowl team, during my second semester of senior year. But I assumed (correctly) that I wouldn't have had time to put one together in such a short time.

When I got to Yale, I sought out the quizbowl team, in order to join them. They were not easy to find. They had a geographically disadvantageous table at the extracurricular bazaar, which you couldn't possibly come across unless you were looking for it. They never booked rooms for practices. They took whatever room happened to be free, and if another group barged in halfway through our practice to kick us out, we packed up and switched rooms.

There were a decent number of people on the team, but we all sucked. I can illustrate this simply. Michael Bilow (who was then the captain) would play solo against the entire rest of the team during practice and beat us. When Eric Mukherjee attended one of our practices while visiting his girlfriend Linna, he played solo against the whole team including Bilow, and beat us.

I turned heads on the team immediately. This was partly because, even though I'd never played quizbowl before, I could get consistently good buzzes in music and literature. But this was also partly because I was driven in a way that was foreign to the ethos of the team. (I suspect it was more the latter than the former that caused Eric to predict that I would be a top player someday, after he met me for the second time.) You see, absolutely no one on the Yale team did anything to prepare for tournaments, beyond going to practice. They didn't take notes. They didn't read packets. They didn't study, at all. I didn't understand this. Within a couple of weeks of joining the team, I was creating study lists, inspiring Rich Mason (a then junior, who wasn't yet a prominent part of the team) to do the same. He would quickly eclipse me in his study efforts. And together, we would make a push for DII that year, taking advantage of the fact that only Bilow had lost his eligibility.

I was majorly disadvantaged in my efforts to improve the team by the fact that I had the most drive but the least quizbowl experience. I was working my ass off to make the team more organized, more responsible, and just better at quizbowl, even though everything that I knew about the game was learned on the job. For example: in second semester of freshman year, I was made literature editor for BHSAT, writing most of the category myself, even though I had never written or played a high school packet before in my life, except for a few questions for submitted packets. (Throughout the year, our team rosters would only be decided within a week before the tournament itself, and Bilow would solicit one or two questions from us, and then write the rest himself.)

During my freshman year, Yale was still being treated with contempt by almost everyone in the Northeast circuit, and for fairly good reasons. The team hadn't attended the previous year's ACF Nationals, even though it was in Brandeis, only a short ride away. And the only college tournament we hosted was ACF Winter--which Bilow ran in a building that he hadn't bothered to reserved, gambling that it would be unoccupied (saving us reservation fees)--during which Bilow instructed the moderators not to bother keeping playoffs stats, because it was too much trouble.

Had I just kept my head down, working on improving as a player and fixing the Yale team, my eventual entry into the community might have been a mostly positive one. But, unfortunately, I had another ambition, which was to play a role in fixing the many extant problems with how music questions were written. Had I been at a school with other interlocutors with which to argue these issues or who could have taught me more of the insides and outsides of the circuit, I might not have leaped into the fray of forum debates on these issues. But at the time, I knew of no other way to engage with people on these matters, and so I did what I'd done with everything else at Yale, pushing forward according to my instincts, and learning as I went along. And thus I became a part of the growing movement that was later to be derisively dubbed the "music mafia".

In retrospect, the oddest thing about the "music mafia" that I became associated with is that--with the exception of Aaron Rosenberg and Chris White, both of whom successfully dodged getting mired in too many of those debates--none of the mafiosos were contributing anything worthwhile to collegiate music as editors! And in addition, one of the mafiosos (whom I shall not call out by name), whose comments about what is or isn't canonical were consistently treated with respect and authority to my utter bafflement, was a patently terrible music player--someone whom I never saw make a single good music buzz or even just 30 a regular-difficulty music bonus in all the years we regularly competed against each other. The situation then was basically that the people who knew the most about music in the real world understood very little about how to write good quizbowl questions and were criticizing the many mistakes made by the editors, who all had a far better grasp of quizbowl but who understood too little about music to write useful or even accurate clues most of the time. Even when it was coming from a good place, the mafia fought its battles poorly: it was difficult to distinguish its justified corrections of the fatal errors that were affecting gameplay from its more abstract and ideologically-driven complaints, many of which were founded on unrealistic expectations of what can be done in quizbowl (and the constant in-fighting between its various partisans gave the false impression that there was much more of the latter than the former).

I would say that it took me a solid year to year-and-a-half to get the worst habits of the mafia out of my system, but by then, my reputation as a crank was firmly established within the community, and I felt stigmatized and haunted by it for years afterwards. A dark fact of the quizbowl community is that it is often hard to bounce back from prior mistakes (bad posting, bad editing jobs, etc.): labels stick for a long time. However, bouncing back is possible. Marshall has spoken of the stigma that surrounded Ike after Illinois Open 2011, one of the most reviled tournaments of that era; but Ike is now a respected editor, whose name I think many of us would be happy to see grace the masthead of a tournament we were about to play.

I'm not sure exactly when I made that transition, myself. At some point, I became a trusted editor, and my ideas about question style became not merely accepted but actually favored by some players and adopted by other writers, after I finally figured out how to execute it in way that made it seem viable. My guess is that this was as late as 2011, and that was probably the first time I felt a true part of the community (in the third sense that I enumerated in my first paragraph), rather than merely someone known to the community.

So, some closing thoughts on this: An unfortunate paradox of "joining the community" in the sense of becoming known to people outside of your immediate circuit is that the quickest way to do this is to post on the forums; however, if you are still at the stage where you need to post in order to be known, you probably also are new enough to quizbowl that your posts on theoretical and practical matters are bound to be unhelpful or misguided, due to your own inexperience. (Perhaps now, the IRC--which was then very daunting in its cliquishness--serves the purpose of community-building better.) The same may apply to becoming an influential writer: you will likely want to have an effect on things like canon and question style long before you have the chops to execute such changes well.

My biggest piece of advice is to really take the time to understand why things are the way they are, why questions are written the way they are, why the canon is the way that it is etc. Familiarize yourself with the different perspectives out there, and don't be afraid to engage in private conversations or correspondence with people with whom you think you agree or disagree, so you can understand their positions better. If your school or your region doesn't have figures who can support your learning these things, try reaching out to someone farther afield. Critiquing questions (beyond the level of pointing out simple factual errors) and trying to alter the given paradigms should come only after you have acquired some technical skill as a writer and enough canon sense to see the big picture. But don't be afraid to volunteer for smaller writing projects then, ideally working with editors who have good mentorship skills, and can explain the changes they will make to your questions.
John Lawrence
Yale University '12
King's College London '13
University of Chicago '19

“I am not absentminded. It is the presence of mind that makes me unaware of everything else.” - G.K. Chesterton

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Wynaut
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Re: Becoming Part of the Community

Post by Wynaut » Thu Apr 23, 2015 9:30 pm

So I first heard about quizbowl in senior year from my dad, and after buying some beginner resources from NAQT, I thought that this was something I'd be quite interested in. I got a few like-minded friends to join me at my first tournament, the 2012 Autumn Classic, which was a blast even though the playoffs were run on an elimination system back then. Unfortunately, the "program" that I started only lasted for that year, since no one else was willing on taking on the commitment of paying/driving for tournaments -- my dad usually paid for tournaments out of pocket, and I often had to organize carpools to get there. We did end up getting as high as third in the state of Michigan (without Country Day in the field, though) -- this qualified us for both HSNCT and NSC. However, our school was only willing to pay for one national tournament, so we picked the NSC. My team finished somewhere in the 60s out of 72 teams, but it was still a thrilling experience.

Back then, I was still heavily reliant on my GeoBee knowledge -- and playing Protobowl. (!!) I actually found a few friends online who did this as well, and we would sometimes play old packets over Google+ chat. I would do pretty well -- until Morgan Venkus comes in and wrecks everybody. (Some people in that group now play for various college teams sometimes). It was around this time that I started attending summer practices and first met Will, Kurtis, Peter, Todd, and occasionally Connor Teevens. Throughout my first year, I usually ended up on the B team and didn't win much (3-7 at MUT, 4-6 at SUBMIT, etc.). At the Canada mirror of Cane Ridge Revival, my statline was 0/2/1. could've been 1/2/1 if the mod didn't butcher the pronunciation of "Ocho Rios" And regrettably, I couldn't make SCT, ICT, or ACF Nats that year, mostly due to external reasons.

It was around the winter/spring of 2014 when I had my first question-writing experience. It was a packet for a special Bob Kilner trash set, and that turned out pretty well -- the playtesters (aka the Garfield Heights team) complimented my answer choices, according to Kilner. This experience encouraged me to seek out opportunities for non-trash question writing. I started becoming more active on the forums after school ended, and saw an announcement about HSAPQ looking for writers. I seized the chance -- I was pretty excited when I received the confirmation email in May/June 2014 -- and pumped out a bunch of questions for various sets after that. I also had a large hand in writing for this year's NHBB, especially the Geo Olympiad (because apparently I'm one of the few people who enjoy writing geography questions, I guess?). But I was still pretty surprised when Will asked me to write for this year's VCU Open.

Probably nothing beats the feeling of finally meeting, playing against, and working with some of the biggest names in quizbowl. It's been a great experience so far, and I'm certainly hoping that continues.
Kenji Shimizu
University of Michigan '18
Summit Academy North High School '13
Writer, NAQT
"...the best Seychelles player in quizbowl" -Auroni Gupta

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Periplus of the Erythraean Sea
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Re: Becoming Part of the Community

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Sun Apr 26, 2015 7:18 pm

My first exposure to quizbowl was in 11th grade, the year I joined my high school's It's Academic Team. Our then-leader, the inestimable Spence Weinreich, decided to lead us on an intrepid adventure outside the monotony of bad formats like Quizmaster Challenge and (even worse) It's Academic. I was really excited to get to play on our "A" team along with Spence, Teddy (our scientist), and Dmitri (a generally really smart and politically informed dude). We managed the playoffs of our first tournament, a mirror of HFT 2010, where we got smashed by a Tommy-led Maggie Walker and a solo Aidan Mehigan, among others. A few months later, we went to an NAQT tournament at UMD delightfully named DR YAKUB, where we placed 3rd after losing twice to an impressive George Mason team, the second time because I was hesitant to buzz on the final tossup on Peter the Great for fear of negging, even though we had just covered him in AP Euro (everyone else on our team was in IB History, which doesn't cover him as much). Spence put up north of 60 PPG, with the rest of us getting around 15, and we put up about 21 PPB and fourty-odd powers on the set - not awful for our second-ever tournament, and qualified for HSNCT.

At our next event, 2011's incarnation of TJIAT, the infamous Dmitri cheating scandal happened, which had a devastating impact on our program. It was shocking to everyone on our team, because Dmitri had been doing ridiculously well on our recently-acquired practice questions (he probably had just read them beforehand or something). In retrospect, it really was a shame because Dmitri (and the rest of us, frankly) could really have become a strong program with some actual studying, since all of us had a ton of background "real" knowledge.

Our coached prevented us from going to quizbowl tournaments for nearly a year after this. I eventually managed to get him to let us go to RM's SWAGFEST, where I won a scoring prize and we managed to do pretty well as a team, though we played abysmally in the playoffs. On the plus side, the car ride back from that tournament was when I opened my likely letter from Dartmouth, so that was a particularly memorable event. I decided to put in some work to learn the basics of some canonical literature after that, and we managed to improve from about 18 PPB at SWAGFEST to about 20 at BHSAT later that year. I also played solo at Maryland Spring (my teammates all said they had to study for APs and IBs - pssshhh, I had 8 of them and went anyways) and played on a scab team at that year's Ben Cooper Memorial, both of which were incredibly fun and stoked me for college quizbowl the next year.

The Dartmouth team I joined was very enthusiastic, full of energy for quizbowl, and growing quickly. The year before I got there, it was typically Cameron, Nick, Kirk, and a fourth trekking around to tournaments; we sent between two and four teams to most events my freshman year. I made a ton of good friends through the club, and I learned how the mechanics of this game I loved playing actually worked - how people study, what the distribution is, everything. With some dedication to learning my best subjects - history and religion at the time - I went from thinking regular difficulty was some unclimbable mountain to thinking Dartmouth could really become a solid, competitive team. I didn't really consider myself part of the "community" outside of my club, but I wanted to be - which is how I got our club involved in writing Cane Ridge Revival.

Things got in something of a holding pattern my sophomore year. After winter break, the attitude of the other major voices in the club shifted away from wanting to learn, study and improve for the purpose of quizbowl as well as personal enrichment and there started to be a degree of animosity between club members on account of this. It didn't help that tournament attendance dropped off enormously, either. Then followed a string of setbacks - Nick's work on CRR's science wasn't well-received, ICT weekend was a disaster in multiple ways (worst of all my abysmal play at History Bowl), Nationals went from a fantastic day one to our team dropping out and an utterly ruined weekeend, and (last but far from least) the travesty of the Modern World tournament. My sophomore year had been pretty awful in general outside of quizbowl, and this string of disappointments in the extracurricular activity to which I devoted the most time made it all the worse - I felt a serious need to hit the reset button, reinvent myself and the team, and redeem myself somehow.

I took a hiatus from the forums for a bit, Over the summer, I signed on to whatever writing projects I could, under the logic that I wasn't going to be in the country in the fall anyways, so I might as well contribute in what way I can. At the same time, I started trying to expose myself to more academic topics - both in the classes I took and in the things I learned on my own time - mainly philosophy and visual arts - in addition to continuing to pick up on more history, social science, religion, and myth. I ended up writing nearly 20% of Penn Bowl (almost as much as Eric!) and a huge portion of the bonuses for PADAWAN. I think I finally felt that I had "made up" for my mistakes and really become some part of the community when Victor Prieto invited me on board to edit DEES, where I had the privilege to edit most of the history.

Coming back this year, I found that the team had fallen apart in my absence, thanks to others' lack of commitment to keeping things together. Between my teammates' frequent commitments this year and my unexpected illness, I haven't been able to go to many events, which has been very disappointing. That said, I feel like I've been able to appreciate the tournaments I have gotten to play far more this year - not only because I can appreciate the questions on many more topics than I could before, but because I don't feel as pressured to win as I do to enjoy the questions and competition in and of themselves, as well as the great people I've gotten to know through quizbowl.

That being said, I'm planning on putting in a lot of work and learning plenty of new things over the summer (here we come, music and advanced physics!) and I'm encouraging my teammates to do the same and giving them tips on doing so. I'll definitely be around the Northeast all of next year, so hopefully I'll get to enjoy one last full year of tournaments as an undergraduate. Who knows, if my teammates and I work hard enough, maybe we'll get to win a tournament, too (though it'll probably have to be one hosted by Yale, given where people are off to next year).
Will Alston
Bethesda Chevy Chase HS '12, Dartmouth '16
"...should be treated as the non-stakeholding troll he is" -Matt Weiner

canaanbananarama
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Re: Becoming Part of the Community

Post by canaanbananarama » Tue Apr 18, 2017 5:14 am

I will follow Jonathan Magin.

My father was a smart man who had a good job at Boeing. We lived in Bellevue, WA, and things seemed fine. I could read at birth, write, do maths at a level ten years ahead of all my "children peers." I memorized the sphere that is known as Planet Earth. I started trying to fit in the geopolitics and the history. My father was abusive/a closeted homosexual, he was self-destructive, so we moved to Spokane. Okay, but there were a whole lot of people in Spokane. I noticed some patterns up in Northwestsylvania. Then, we moved to a Mormon labour camp where they tried to convert me as a child and probably did because I sometimes/can't control myself and speak Utahan.

Anyhoo, this small rural labor camp had a bunch of Mormons, me, and a bunch of Mexican migrants. Whoop-de-do, I know, that's how the Mormons taught me to speak. Lah-dee-dah. And this place was hard, because I spoke and wrote and read and the other children, well, let's move to Naples, Florida, because papá wanted us to move near all of our Miami Cuban familia! That sucked. Physical education and recess = attempted murder. I'm serious, some of you have seen me, I am 5'3" and have a bone condition that physically torturing/beating me a life/death matter in a very real way.

So, let's divorce dear old papá and, oops another bad marriage, yay, Orange County, CA! But we're in the poor section! So, we only get Kiwanis Bowl. Kiwanis Bowl boring. I go to Los Alamitos! They have a team! I find quizbowl. Thanks, racial segregation in Orange and Los Angeles Counties, which is totally a demographic reality.

FIN.

I just dropped by because it's been a while and you seem to be happy about that. You're so verbose! Your posts are crazy long! I remember when the Internet taught me that that was a sin! Hooray for words!

I am a kid who had a big mind and imagination who came from the back of beyond to find this place. So, I always think about the people of What Cheer, Iowa, and Elkader, Iowa, and Maharishi Vedic City in Iowa, and those weird white Sikh Khalsas in Española, New Mexico, and isn't it super weird that Yazzie, Tsosie, and Begay are racial surnames, and America's weird and fun, and mysterious, but I don't like to be there often. I'm a drifter. That's fun, too!

I screw up at the Internet all the time so I was going to have this fun exercise where I pretended to be a rural Mormon boy from Nephi, Utah, who wanted to find something like quizbowl! And unless I knew the words "quizbowl," it was impossible!

But, I did see:

The Sixteen Commandments of Poon, 5 Types of Men to Avoid, Our Sacred Duty to Honor Women, Eternal Marriage Student Manual Dating Standards, wait this is from Provo!, two women's breasts (I'm a fictional child in this exercise! From conservative Utah!), x + the best clubs for your children to do to WIN at life where x = 39 or 16 and why hasn't quizbowl made any of these LISTS yet!

can you please tell me about a game that is played between two teams that have buzzer systems and compete against each other in academic competition

Basketball Tips: How to Get a Basketball Scholarship - The .

Why we hate Valor Christian | Mile High Sports

What the? Who?

The Game of Life: Keeping Score - Damascus Road Tucson

Something seems familiar. It's like we're traveling in circles. I don't hate Valor Christian, are they a football team? Whatever. But I have one thing to say.

This is how we drop a mike in Damascus. Syria. I'm not there. I'm nowhere. I always drift.
Galaktion Avtandilis dze Tsinamdzghvrishvili
President in Perpituity, Cal State Channel Islands

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