Why we can't have nice things

Dormant threads from the high school sections are preserved here.
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Why we can't have nice things

Post by Matt Weiner » Wed Jan 27, 2010 1:43 am

Hey, I thought I'd start this thread so we could talk about how discussions go. Not to step on Trygve's toes, since he's planning some announcements in this vein pretty soon, but to express my own opinions and give people a chance to talk about the board without violating the meta-posting rule: that is to say, you have carte blanche to post about how people post in this thread only, but not to violate any other rules (this means don't go off on rants against particular people's posting styles, especially if you duplicate something that I'm calling out below).

Meta-posting: It seems like people are either confused or ignorant regarding the rule against meta-posting. I'd like to spell out what meta-posts are and why they are a problem.

A typical meta-post is something like this:

"I don't care what you think, because you're not from my region."
"If you don't like our tournament, just stay home instead of complaining about it. No one is forcing you to attend."
"I don't care about not meeting the approval of some self-declared arbiter {usually a more sarcastic term is used here}."
"That's just your opinion."
"Maybe you should be more civil towards Person X."
"That's not very welcoming of a new poster."

What do the above posts have in common, and why are meta-posts bad? Chiefly, because they are arguments against the existence of the forums. We are here to discuss quizbowl tournaments. If you don't like discussing quizbowl tournaments, then why are you here? This site functioned as a simple calendar for several years before forums were added. The forums exist to provide something more, not solely for people to announce tournaments without comment. To take umbrage at people discussing things on a forum devoted largely to discussing that activity is nonsensical.

Furthermore, the above propositions are not arguable or falsifiable, and usually are just expressions of either personal emotion or the desire for criticism of something to stop. The board does not and will not have a "do not criticize things" policy. It has rules about using profanity in certain sections, using logic in certain sections, and so on. But to expect anything to be outside the bounds of reasonable discussion is unrealistic and is an attempt to enforce your own made-up rules on a board that you do not run.

As an empirical fact, the above posts are overwhelmingly used to defend things that are difficult to defend using straightforward discussion. Rarely will someone try to defend the difficulty of Chicago Open by saying that people should just stay home instead of playing it. What we usually see is that practices which calm discussion has previously shown are suboptimal (nonpyramidal tossups and nonacademic distributions of various kind being a popular one) are defended by resorting to challenging anyone's right to discuss anything, since it is difficult or impossible to defend them in a discussion itself and some populations are invested in continuing those practices and/or not admitting they were wrong. Thus, we see that meta-posting directly impedes both discussion on the board and progress in the real quizbowl world.

Instigation and hypocrisy: Another common problem on the boards is that instigators of illogical discourse get a free pass from meta-posters, who wish only to target those on the opposite of an ideological divide. When one person tags on "and I don't care that some East Coast elitists are giving me crap for running my tournament the way I want to" onto his announcement of a Chip Beall event, he is deviating from the rules of the board and from purely rational discourse. Whether it is necessary or advisable to respond in kind is a separate matter that is open to a range of opinions, but when the responder who points out that the first person is not running a good event and should rethink his rationale for doing so is the only person targeted by cries of "civility," it becomes very obvious what the real motives of the politeness patrol are. The only solution to this is the current environment, where board staffers reserve the exclusive right to comment on the propriety of other people's posting, and attempt to root it out regardless of ideological orientation. I expect this to be enforced even more vigorously in the future, given what a problem it's become in recent weeks.

What it means to discuss: Discussion itself often involves asking uncomfortable questions and trying to draw out what premises people are operating from. It can be difficult for someone who is running a fake high school tournament to come up with an answer to "why is it better to ask questions like 'What is a chest of drawers' than pyramidal NAQT or HSAPQ questions' without getting defensive. But, what the meta-posters fail to understand, is that the mere act of opposing or questioning something (even vigorously) is not an ad-hominem attack, a violation of board rules, or an abandonment of civility. Too often, it triggers those things from the targets, since their motives are less than pure, but that does not mean the person who is trying to have a discussion is at fault.

I invite everyone to comment on what I've posted here so we can make sure the content and purpose of the meta-posting rule is clear in the future.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by Edward Elric » Wed Jan 27, 2010 1:48 am

I have seen this all too much in the Illinois forums as i have been reading them over. We even had a forum closed off because it got really terrible. Honestly people have the right to defend their actions but seriously they shouldnt get offended when they get proven wrong. Also the crude references that I have heard lately (i.e. circle jerking, etc.) just ruin the whole conversation.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by Rococo A Go Go » Wed Jan 27, 2010 1:55 am

I agree with you on the thing about different regions. In my opinion, everyone here is tied together by quizbowl, and where someone is from doesn't make their arguments any more or less valid.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by Charley Pride » Wed Jan 27, 2010 2:31 am

I don't like it when people say mean things.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by Geringer » Wed Jan 27, 2010 2:53 am

I always thought the 6-post waiting period was a mentoring process to prevent people from fanning the flames right away. I mean, I've seen new users get censored for posting question content. Would it be wise for our moderating staff to take some care in initiating new members? I'm not advocating censoring, but I'm sure not every new poster is aware of how things...err...work around here.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by AKKOLADE » Wed Jan 27, 2010 3:02 am

Macho Man for Expediency wrote:I always thought the 6-post waiting period was a mentoring process to prevent people from fanning the flames right away. I mean, I've seen new users get censored for posting question content. Would it be wise for our moderating staff to take some care in initiating new members? I'm not advocating censoring, but I'm sure not every new poster is aware of how things...err...work around here.
Posts do get rejected as it is warranted.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by Charley Pride » Wed Jan 27, 2010 3:46 am

FredMorlan wrote:
Macho Man for Expediency wrote:I always thought the 6-post waiting period was a mentoring process to prevent people from fanning the flames right away. I mean, I've seen new users get censored for posting question content. Would it be wise for our moderating staff to take some care in initiating new members? I'm not advocating censoring, but I'm sure not every new poster is aware of how things...err...work around here.
Posts do get rejected as it is warranted.
Dumb people still say dumb things a lot.


I just read the Masonic thread...I would like to personally apologize on behalf of my state... Basically, it comes down to this: Illinois people, everyone hates us because we think we think our state is a separate entity from the rest of the quiz bowl universe. The progressive group has adopted good quizbowl. The next step is getting adopted into the national quizbowl family. We're not doing it right by picking fights or playing victim, trust me.

And (breaking briefly from my goal of quiz bowl unity in the interest of attaining it) non-Illinoisians, all we ask is that you (A) don't characterize all Illinoisians based on the fringe, (B) consider mitigating circumstances when criticizing what some otherwise "good" teams do*, and (C) try to better understand our weird way of doing things and help us (help others) in righting the course of our state rather that dumping on it.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by Deviant Insider » Wed Jan 27, 2010 8:21 am

I have just removed the link from the IHSSBCA page to this site. I no longer believe this site is appropriate for most of our members, who are imperfect adults.

I don't expect this site to change, but if it's perfectly acceptable here to call somebody a bad teacher and a bad role model based on one decision and a small number of posts, then this is not the right place for most coaches. If new posters are supposed to be able to keep track of which personal insults are acceptable and which normal responses to those personal insults are unacceptable, then this is not a great site for new posters.

I'm not organizing a boycott--I'm not even leaving myself. I continue to learn a lot here, and this site has been very good for our state. I'll continue to recommend this site to people who would like it. However, I can't continue to recommend this site to all coaches knowing that many of them, probably most of them, would get attacked on a personal level if they shared their opinions about quizbowl here.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by Matt Weiner » Wed Jan 27, 2010 8:33 am

Shcool wrote:I have just removed the link from the IHSSBCA page to this site. I no longer believe this site is appropriate for most of our members, who are imperfect adults.
I doubt that every single person in Illinois appreciates you deciding which of your personal grudges will be enforced upon them. This sort of petty behavior and elevation of personal slapfights above the good of the game and the students is a major reason why things are not progressing in your state.
I don't expect this site to change, but if it's perfectly acceptable here to call somebody a bad teacher and a bad role model based on one decision and a small number of posts, then this is not the right place for most coaches.
Let's review Mr. Grant's posting career:

1) Mostly innocuous post announcing a bad tournament, in which he states "I want to assure everyone that I have not turned top the dark side, I am only trying to provide as high a quality meet as possible."

2) I post "You're using Questions Galore questions AND Avery questions." An incontrovertible restatement of the fact that he himself had posted, containing no further embellishment.

3) He posts "I am aware that I will catch grief from the purists among you, but I am not a person that has time for the opinions of those who look down from on high at we Central Illinois mortals and pass judgement, and demand our repentance and allegiance," and "I am a conservative to the right of Limbaugh, if you don't like the Masonic format, find another organization to host a tournament and provide money for school programs, if you don't like QG use someone else. If you don't like losing, learn to win".

The only reasonable conclusion here is that Mr. Grant is reacting to absolutely no provocation with a flipout that pre-emptively accuses other people of all sorts of ridiculous things, loads a post up with sarcastic denunciations of the concept of things being good or bad, and attempts to turn a discussion of quizbowl quality into some sort of political debate.

His subsequent posts descend even further into self-parody. Like Jeremy Gibbs, he has said things on this board which would get him fired if he said them in the classroom, and treated everyone around him as a subhuman deserving of no respect. Your response is to get angry at the people standing up to his bullying, either because you sympathize with his "the teacher is always right" authoritarianism, or because you sympathize with his love of bad quizbowl (and, based on your past career, I'm well aware that both of these things are the case). The fact that you think I and not he am in the wrong here only reflects badly on you. Everyone can see what went on in that thread, and in what order. There is no one to be fooled.
If new posters are supposed to be able to keep track of which personal insults are acceptable and which normal responses to those personal insults are unacceptable, then this is not a great site for new posters. I'm not organizing a boycott--I'm not even leaving myself. I continue to learn a lot here, and this site has been very good for our state. I'll continue to recommend this site to people who would like it. However, I can't continue to recommend this site to all coaches knowing that many of them, probably most of them, would get attacked on a personal level if they shared their opinions about quizbowl here.
Most of them will have their own attacks rebutted and stood up to if they choose to emulate Mr. Grant and insult everyone who deigns to discuss things with them. When he attacks the entirety of real quizbowl on a personal level for disagreeing with his wrongheaded ideas, I will respond by telling him that such behavior is abhorrent and makes him unfit at his job, because that is the truth. That is my guarantee.

The reality is that the people here are not your students. Too many teachers have trouble getting out of the classroom authority model. People in and past college and students at other schools in other states do not automatically have to agree with you when you are wrong under penalty of school sanction. A lot of people in the education profession cannot handle this and immediately melt down whenever they are contradicted. You are often one of these people, and Mr. Grant is providing an extreme example of the same behavior.

No one is going to come onto this board, act like a rabid dog towards everyone around him, and then be immune from retribution from the board staff. It's not going to happen. If changing that is your condition for allowing Illinois to participate in the discussion, then you are unfit to lead the IHSSBCA, because you have totally lost sight of what your priorities should be. We're supposed to working to broaden the horizons of students and let academic achievement be cultivated and celebrated, not enlarging our own egos on the backs of the students. Do you remember this at all, or is everything just about whether you and your cronies receive the proper court rituals? When you figure out whether you are involved in this game for your own glorification or for facilitating something important in the high school student population, you will figure out why you are so disastrously wrong about Mr. Grant and this thread.

As of now, you stand for the right of every purveyor of bad quizbowl and Victorian-era pedagogy to terrorize his students, hold them back from progressing intellectually, and show them that the way to respond to constructive criticism is to yell more loudly and more incomprehensibly at the source of the cognitive dissonance. I stand for the right of everyone to use this board as a rational human being in a civil society, who should be judged on the content of his arguments and not on the title of his job, and who has the right to defend himself when attacked, even by someone of a different age or status. I, unlike you, will leave it to my colleagues and readers to decide whose approach they prefer.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by Dresden_The_BIG_JERK » Wed Jan 27, 2010 10:53 am

Matt Weiner wrote:The reality is that the people here are not your students. Too many teachers have trouble getting out of the classroom authority model. People in and past college and students at other schools in other states do not automatically have to agree with you when you are wrong under penalty of school sanction. A lot of people in the education profession cannot handle this and immediately melt down whenever they are contradicted. You are often one of these people, and Mr. Grant is providing an extreme example of the same behavior.

No one is going to come onto this board, act like a rabid dog towards everyone around him, and then be immune from retribution from the board staff. It's not going to happen. If changing that is your condition for allowing Illinois to participate in the discussion, then you are unfit to lead the IHSSBCA, because you have totally lost sight of what your priorities should be. We're supposed to working to broaden the horizons of students and let academic achievement be cultivated and celebrated, not enlarging our own egos on the backs of the students. Do you remember this at all, or is everything just about whether you and your cronies receive the proper court rituals? When you figure out whether you are involved in this game for your own glorification or for facilitating something important in the high school student population, you will figure out why you are so disastrously wrong about Mr. Grant and this thread.

As of now, you stand for the right of every purveyor of bad quizbowl and Victorian-era pedagogy to terrorize his students, hold them back from progressing intellectually, and show them that the way to respond to constructive criticism is to yell more loudly and more incomprehensibly at the source of the cognitive dissonance. I stand for the right of everyone to use this board as a rational human being in a civil society, who should be judged on the content of his arguments and not on the title of his job, and who has the right to defend himself when attacked, even by someone of a different age or status. I, unlike you, will leave it to my colleagues and readers to decide whose approach they prefer.
Somebody ate their grumpy flakes this morning. Isn't this just the kind of elitist rhetoric we're trying to avoid? If what we as a community are trying to promote is good quizbowl, shouldn't we accept any steps toward that? In some places, that might be moving to HSAPQ or a good house-written set. In other places, it might be moving up to an NAQT A set. And, in some places(like the region in question) absolutely anything would be progress. We're talking about a region where other than the 2 statewide tournaments, the light of quizbowl, "good" or otherwise, scarcely penetrates. It seems to me that getting indignant and insinuating inferiority of others is exactly what causes this great divide to begin with.

I said it in the thread in question, and I will reiterate here: any progress toward good quizbowl as these boards quantify it is a good thing, but you have to walk before you run, and frankly a lot of Illinois is like a newborn with two broken legs. It's a lot easier to implement ideas in areas that aren't already ingrained to a certain way. Even those regions that were previously big Chip players were closer to begin with to good standards of quizbowl than are the more insular regions of Illinois. Change will come, hopefully statewide, but it will absolutely take time, probably a lot of it. Browbeating those who try to help that along is the opposite of helpful.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by bsmith » Wed Jan 27, 2010 10:57 am

Matt Weiner wrote:If you don't like discussing quizbowl tournaments, then why are you here? This site functioned as a simple calendar for several years before forums were added. The forums exist to provide something more, not solely for people to announce tournaments without comment.
I don't know the requirements for the high school scene, but ACF and NAQT both require forum announcements here for all hosts of their collegiate tournaments. Several members have no desire to discuss, and just follow protocol for making/replying to announcements.

The willingness to "discuss" quizbowl (beyond simply making announcements) should not be a criterion for who gets to host various ACF and NAQT sites.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by Matt Weiner » Wed Jan 27, 2010 11:00 am

bsmith wrote:I don't know the requirements for the high school scene, but ACF and NAQT both require forum announcements here for all hosts of their collegiate tournaments. Several members have no desire to discuss, and just follow protocol for making/replying to announcements.

The willingness to "discuss" quizbowl (beyond simply making announcements) should not be a criterion for who gets to host various ACF and NAQT sites.
You are correct; I overlooked that. I will note, however, that we have separated the announcement and discussion zones in both the high school and college areas, and as much as I may question hit-and-run posting, it is not against the rules; in fact, we the staff will enforce your desire to announce a tournament in a vacuum by moving discussion out of an announcement thread and into a new thread in the discussion zone.

I will further note that the Masonics thread was a discussion thread, and that Mr. Grant chose to open the discussion himself of an event no one else was talking about.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by Matt Weiner » Wed Jan 27, 2010 11:06 am

Dresden The Moderator wrote:Somebody ate their grumpy flakes this morning. Isn't this just the kind of elitist rhetoric we're trying to avoid?
Let's add both of these comments to the list of anti-discourse nonsense.
If what we as a community are trying to promote is good quizbowl, shouldn't we accept any steps toward that? In some places, that might be moving to HSAPQ or a good house-written set. In other places, it might be moving up to an NAQT A set. And, in some places(like the region in question) absolutely anything would be progress. We're talking about a region where other than the 2 statewide tournaments, the light of quizbowl, "good" or otherwise, scarcely penetrates. It seems to me that getting indignant and insinuating inferiority of others is exactly what causes this great divide to begin with.

I said it in the thread in question, and I will reiterate here: any progress toward good quizbowl as these boards quantify it is a good thing, but you have to walk before you run, and frankly a lot of Illinois is like a newborn with two broken legs. It's a lot easier to implement ideas in areas that aren't already ingrained to a certain way. Even those regions that were previously big Chip players were closer to begin with to good standards of quizbowl than are the more insular regions of Illinois. Change will come, hopefully statewide, but it will absolutely take time, probably a lot of it. Browbeating those who try to help that along is the opposite of helpful.
I'm not sure what any of this has to do with the matter at hand. I raised the question in the original thread of how running a tournament in Masonic format on Questions Galore packets represents incremental progress of any kind, and got no answer other than more wild ranting from Grant and Laird. If you have something to say on that topic, I'm all ears.

And if you have something to say about what the state of Illinois quizbowl has to do with the subject of this thread, which is the propensity for people to try to backseat-moderate the board by calling out people who react to boorishness as "uncivil" while ignoring the instigators, I would also like to hear that.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by Dresden_The_BIG_JERK » Wed Jan 27, 2010 11:26 am

Matt Weiner wrote:
If what we as a community are trying to promote is good quizbowl, shouldn't we accept any steps toward that? In some places, that might be moving to HSAPQ or a good house-written set. In other places, it might be moving up to an NAQT A set. And, in some places(like the region in question) absolutely anything would be progress. We're talking about a region where other than the 2 statewide tournaments, the light of quizbowl, "good" or otherwise, scarcely penetrates. It seems to me that getting indignant and insinuating inferiority of others is exactly what causes this great divide to begin with.

I said it in the thread in question, and I will reiterate here: any progress toward good quizbowl as these boards quantify it is a good thing, but you have to walk before you run, and frankly a lot of Illinois is like a newborn with two broken legs. It's a lot easier to implement ideas in areas that aren't already ingrained to a certain way. Even those regions that were previously big Chip players were closer to begin with to good standards of quizbowl than are the more insular regions of Illinois. Change will come, hopefully statewide, but it will absolutely take time, probably a lot of it. Browbeating those who try to help that along is the opposite of helpful.
I'm not sure what any of this has to do with the matter at hand. I raised the question in the original thread of how running a tournament in Masonic format on Questions Galore packets represents incremental progress of any kind, and got no answer other than more wild ranting from Grant and Laird. If you have something to say on that topic, I'm all ears.

And if you have something to say about what the state of Illinois quizbowl has to do with the subject of this thread, which is the propensity for people to try to backseat-moderate the board by calling out people who react to boorishness as "uncivil" while ignoring the instigators, I would also like to hear that.
To point A: I would argue, and you may well disagree, that any quizbowl is better than no quizbowl when those are the two option present in a region. If due to that, someone wishes to learn more about quizbowl, and subsequently, good quizbowl, then the community is all the stronger for it. But nothing can happen if all these potential players are just sitting home on Saturday. Therefore, while we are in agreement that the tournament and situation in question are nowhere near ideal, I still find it be a positive alternative to nothing.

To point B: Ignoring the fact that this thread was clear instigated by that particular thread, its issues, and varying opinions toward them, the topic of Illinois is, from what I've seen, the largest point of disagreement on these boards(excepting, perhaps, computational math). We all know that Illinois as a whole is not exactly a bastion for good quizbowl, but people are trying. It seems like that should be encouraged, rather than lambasted as imperfect from the start. While Mr. Grant may not have made the most sterling first impression, I'm not sure anyone else did to him either. Clearly if someone is coming to these boards, it is to try and learn and join the community. "Boorishness" is not the answer, and obviously neither is the reaction to it. I fear the brunt of the issue is the way people react to criticism or something seen as an affront to their beliefs. It would be a lot better if we would all remember to act a community; encouraging one another and fostering good ideas while gently(very gently) correcting bad ones rather than acting like a spoiled members only club that wants everyone to play by our set of rules.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by Geringer » Wed Jan 27, 2010 11:28 am

To reiterate what I've said a hundred different times in a hundred different ways: bad quizbowl is completely ingrained in a lot of schools in Illinois and the only way things are ever going to change is if we keep giving new teams great experiences at mACF format tournaments and gently encourage new teams. While it might be egregious to host a tournament on QG or Avery, a lot of people don't associate bad questions with bad tournaments the way we do. No one is trying to harm players, they just don't realize they are. The biggest problem with this forum is that instead of taking time to explain to people the merits of good quizbowl, the moment anyone mentions comp math or bad questions we have four or five out-of-state strangers coming to the "rescue" to shoot that person down instead of gently taking their hand and walking them through the paces. On the forums, you guys command respect because we know that you know what you're doing, but to a new member, you're just some punk behind a keyboard trying to spoil their day. All day long last Saturday I made mention of this forum as a great, great tool for networking and discussion and I feel that I led Mr. Grant into a trap. I would guess his view of the ACF-style cabal has been soured beyond repair.

I feel like I don't have the authority to say all of this, but every time we go off the handle on someone on the boards or bash on Chip Beall or tell people they're satan-spawn for playing a QG packet, we're driving potential buyers and allies right back into the arms of the enemy.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by Matt Weiner » Wed Jan 27, 2010 11:46 am

Macho Man for Expediency wrote: The biggest problem with this forum is that instead of taking time to explain to people the merits of good quizbowl, the moment anyone mentions comp math or bad questions we have four or five out-of-state strangers coming to the "rescue" to shoot that person down instead of gently taking their hand and walking them through the paces. On the forums, you guys command respect because we know that you know what you're doing, but to a new member, you're just some punk behind a keyboard trying to spoil their day. All day long last Saturday I made mention of this forum as a great, great tool for networking and discussion and I feel that I led Mr. Grant into a trap. I would guess his view of the ACF-style cabal has been soured beyond repair.

I feel like I don't have the authority to say all of this, but every time we go off the handle on someone on the boards or bash on Chip Beall or tell people they're satan-spawn for playing a QG packet, we're driving potential buyers and allies right back into the arms of the enemy.
But, Jeff, this is an entirely distorted view of what happened, which is my point. Grant was the one who went nuts. No one was attacking him until he started lashing out at everyone else. What sort of discussion is to be had with posts such as these:
The view that since you believe you are right justifies telling others how they are in error and therefore should follow you blindly on the way to Quiz Bowl enlightenment is textbook liberalism.
Guys, Matt is right, this guy can't be tolerated. I say we get the torches and pitchforks and storm the castle. How dare he challange the "good quiz bowl" Gods.
I am a conservative to the right of Limbaugh, if you don't like the Masonic format, find another organization to host a tournament and provide money for school programs, if you don't like QG use someone else.
I am aware that I will catch grief from the purists among you, but I am not a person that has time for the opinions of those who look down from on high at we Central Illinois mortals and pass judgement, and demand our repentance and allegiance.
He pre-emptively attacked essentially everyone outside of the Illinois fake-quizbowl community when they were, to that point, doing exactly what he requested and leaving his tournament entirely alone. This rewriting of history where the victim becomes the aggressor and everyone just has to take the abuse and not put a stop to it is unacceptable. It's the sort of thing that lets people put everyone who contradicts their IHSA-format bubble into an ignorable box, because you can just decide people are not worth listening to due to being "uncivil" and ignore them, even if it requires changing the facts to suit your conclusions.

A discussion forum cannot survive when people don't come to the discussion on good faith. In addition to being willing to discuss, that also includes not presenting a false picture of what other people's points are and how they were made.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by Geringer » Wed Jan 27, 2010 11:51 am

Oh, I'm not disagreeing with you on that last part. He said some stupid stuff. I don't know, I think I just have a complex that fighting on the internet doesn't accomplish anything. Looking back at the thread, you're probably right, although I think some of what was said on both sides was below the belt.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by JackGlerum » Wed Jan 27, 2010 12:11 pm

Matt Weiner wrote:
Macho Man for Expediency wrote: The biggest problem with this forum is that instead of taking time to explain to people the merits of good quizbowl, the moment anyone mentions comp math or bad questions we have four or five out-of-state strangers coming to the "rescue" to shoot that person down instead of gently taking their hand and walking them through the paces. On the forums, you guys command respect because we know that you know what you're doing, but to a new member, you're just some punk behind a keyboard trying to spoil their day. All day long last Saturday I made mention of this forum as a great, great tool for networking and discussion and I feel that I led Mr. Grant into a trap. I would guess his view of the ACF-style cabal has been soured beyond repair.

I feel like I don't have the authority to say all of this, but every time we go off the handle on someone on the boards or bash on Chip Beall or tell people they're satan-spawn for playing a QG packet, we're driving potential buyers and allies right back into the arms of the enemy.
But, Jeff, this is an entirely distorted view of what happened, which is my point. Grant was the one who went nuts. No one was attacking him until he started lashing out at everyone else.
I don't think anyone questions the fact that Mr. Grant posted immaturely and at times moronically. The point is that we expect new posters, especially those from a background like Mr. Grant's, to post the way they do. On the other hand, you, Matt, perhaps know more about high school quizbowl than anyone else. Thus, you have a responsibility to watch them step on their feet (no matter how egregious it is) and help them by explaining them why they are wrong in the right tone. No matter how crazy Mr. Grant's statements are (and they are pretty crazy), you can't say stuff like this:
Wow. You sound like an exceptionally unpleasant human being and a poor role model for students.

In addition to defending your poor choices in the manner of a petulant five-year-old, you are a bald-faced liar, cf:

"I am only trying to provide as high a quality meet as possible."

You obviously are not trying to do any such thing, since you are using literally the worst questions in the world. Please do not say things that are demonstrably untrue if you expect to have your devotion to fake quizbowl and bad educational experiences legitimized by this forum.
Yes, he acted in a poor manner, but don't dip down to his level! Put yourself in his shoes; he probably has limited experience with pyramidal quizbowl and has posted twice. I don't care if he's an idiot and doesn't know how to handle himself in an online-forum-arena.

Like Jeff stated, you and the rest of us who know, love, and promote pyramidal quizbowl have an aforementioned responsibility to be stewards of it. Call it "turn the other cheek", or call it not being an d-bag; let new posters run amok--many do (and with Illinois people, everyone does) and lend a hand in a civil manner fit for someone with a label of "moderator".

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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by Matt Weiner » Wed Jan 27, 2010 12:22 pm

At the point where that occurred, my feeling was that discussion about quizbowl was over; he had already blown up and started attacking people, and I had to step in as board staffer and reign him in because my job is to keep him from bulldozing over the more timid people.

I definitely find it odious when people who should know better (which might mean experienced quizbowl talking about quizbowl, but here I mean high school teachers talking on a forum with students and colleagues present) start in on the demagogue/gang warfare tactics train as Grant was doing there. That, not anything about his quizbowl opinions, is where my judgment of his character came into play.

We (the staff) always have internal discussion about when it's appropriate to call people out in the thread versus when the warning system should be used; compared to the rest of the staffers, I'm of the opinion that the latter should be used sparingly, since I don't like banning people from participating in the forum unless every other option has been tried and failed.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by Dresden_The_BIG_JERK » Wed Jan 27, 2010 12:28 pm

Matt Weiner wrote:At the point where that occurred, my feeling was that discussion about quizbowl was over; he had already blown up and started attacking people, and I had to step in as board staffer and reign him in because my job is to keep him from bulldozing over the more timid people.

I definitely find it odious when people who should know better (which might mean experienced quizbowl talking about quizbowl, but here I mean high school teachers talking on a forum with students and colleagues present) start in on the demagogue/gang warfare tactics train as Grant was doing there. That, not anything about his quizbowl opinions, is where my judgment of his character came into play.

We (the staff) always have internal discussion about when it's appropriate to call people out in the thread versus when the warning system should be used; compared to the rest of the staffers, I'm of the opinion that the latter should be used sparingly, since I don't like banning people from participating in the forum unless every other option has been tried and failed.
It just seems that giving a warning, i.e. "This is not how discussions work here", is a lot better than being insulting on a personal level. For the amount I expect Mr. Grant to return with an open mind after that, he may as well have been banned.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by Deviant Insider » Wed Jan 27, 2010 12:48 pm

I don't see how this is progressing. I stated that it is wrong to draw the conclusion that somebody is a poor teacher and role model based on one decision and some internet posts, and Matt's response was that he made a decision and some internet posts. Yes he did, and bad ones at that. And he's still a good person who has helped quizbowl.

I also think that Matt's attempts to protect the people on this forum from bullies are a bit misguided. Who, exactly, was being bullied on this forum by Grant and/or me, and how were they being adversely affected? On this board, you have much more authority than I do, since you are the founder and an administrator and played a role in choosing the other administrators. I have no authority on this board at all, and yet here I am. Have you considered the possibility that the bullying on this site is done by the purveyors of good quizbowl rather than the purveyors of bad quizbowl?

You lectured me on melting down whenever anybody contradicts me. Do you think such a statement might apply to you as well?

Jeff made a mistake by referring Grant to this board, and I am trying to avoid making the same mistake myself.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by Matt Weiner » Wed Jan 27, 2010 12:54 pm

Shcool wrote:I don't see how this is progressing. I stated that it is wrong to draw the conclusion that somebody is a poor teacher and role model based on one decision and some internet posts, and Matt's response was that he made a decision and some internet posts. Yes he did, and bad ones at that. And he's still a good person who has helped quizbowl.
Conversely, he's still someone who threw a tantrum over...well, over nothing. Over me stating "you are using Questions Galore and Avery questions in your tournament" which is as dispassionate and undeniable a statement of fact as can be. I find that incredibly poor behavior from an authority figure, and his subsequent posts were even worse.
I also think that Matt's attempts to protect the people on this forum from bullies are a bit misguided. Who, exactly, was being bullied on this forum by Grant and/or me, and how were they being adversely affected?
Every single person from a non-Illinois state, and some Illinoisians as well, were being lambasted for having an opinion or for the possibility that they might have an opinion in the future.
Have you considered the possibility that the bullying on this site is done by the purveyors of good quizbowl rather than the purveyors of bad quizbowl?
Considered and rejected based on the evidence.
You lectured me on melting down whenever anybody contradicts me. Do you think such a statement might apply to you as well?
No. I have an excellent track record of discussing viewpoints contradictory to my own and even changing my opinions. What I react to harshly is the people who evade having a discussion at all by appealing to {regional bias, don't tell me what to do, quizbowl is just a game, etc}. You are confusing intolerance of bad rhetoric with intolerance of disagreement, on my part.

That is the point of this thread. What I will call "anti-discussionism" absolutely cannot be tolerated and must be vigorously rooted out, or the board has no purpose and no future. Grant's posts are just one of many possible examples of this phenomenon being on the rise of late.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by Cheynem » Wed Jan 27, 2010 12:59 pm

As I said in the original thread, I've disagreed with Matt Weiner and others regarding how to think of and treat "good" and "bad" quizbowl. I was, however, truly appalled by the attitude of Mr. Grant in the Masonic thread. Look, I've never met the dude and maybe he's the bees knees in person who doesn't know how to handle an Internet forum, but he came off as a terrible human being. He Chancellor of the Exchequer brought in vague mentions of politics, seemed to take delight in arousing anger among others, and near the end of the thread, flat out admitted he was probably using bad questions but the free market or whatever economic libertarianism he believes in would surely resolve itself. This is not the case of someone earnestly believing that a form of "bad" quizbowl is actually good. This is, at least purely judging from the thread, a cynical exercise justified by free market gobbletygook. While I sympathize with Jack's point that "good" quizbowl people should perhaps turn the other cheek, at some point it's time to call it like it is: Mr. Grant was behaving terribly and should be called out as such.

As I also said in the other thread, if Mr. Grant truly believed he was providing the best experience for his students (which is the role of an educator), then he should have explained why he felt justified in using QG/Avery. That is a legitimate line of argument, even if I disagree with his conclusion. He did no such thing, which leads me to conclude he is either being a flippant "too cool for school" user of this site or someone who truly doesn't care about providing the best experience for his students.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by mrgsmath » Wed Jan 27, 2010 2:17 pm

I am not sure if I misentered or if I am banned from participating on this forum. But this is the second time I have tried to respond. (the first time recieved no confirmation so I apologize if this the second time around)

First I promise to behave.

Secondly, I will attempt to respond to the concerns raised.

As to the issue of my having opened the discussion. While did activate what had to then been a dormant thread for while, I did so to explain and hopefully dispell some rumors that were circulated about my meet. Having read enough of the forum to get a general idea of the attitudes of the group, I sought only to offer my reasoning for using the format I did, as well as the question sources. I was prepared to meet disagreements, but not outright dismissal.

The first response to my post was a dismissal. "Your using QG and Avery". I thought I was clear in my text that QG was not regarded as a good source, but that due to the eventual use of them in Masonic competition, as well as the different format required, I used them. I did this, as I explained, to better prepare the teams and moderators for the upcoming competition.

The response was not a discussion of my post but rather, "Your using QG and Avery". Having read enough of the forum to know the general attitudes of some members ofthe group I interpreted this as a total rejection of anything I had to say as beneath those who read it.

Perhaps I overreacted, but I interpreted this as an elitist dismissal and responded accordingly. Since future responses focused on cherry-picking controversial quotes and not clashing with the central arguements presented, you merely based your position on a mantra of QG/Avery, as well as the Masonic format are bad and therefore so are you, left me no issue on which to counter. I agreed QG was bad and offered a reason for the use, but it was never responded to directly. Avery was deemed bad by some, but solely on moral grounds not intellectual grounds. It in fact was others who attempted to support my decision that formed the basis for my being charged as running poor tournaments and in none of those cases were the central points challenged rather the rejection was based solely on the current tournament, that was dissmised as being run poorly based on the question sources.

As an old debater I am fully aware of the use of dismissal as a form of argumentation, it is the last defense for having only one arguement to present. The only argument offered was that QG/Avery was all that was needed to discredit any thing else I had to say. Show me where another substanitive arguement was made.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by Matt Weiner » Wed Jan 27, 2010 2:29 pm

Can you define what you mean by "elitism" here?
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Wed Jan 27, 2010 2:30 pm

You're not banned, not at all.

Arguments were made about the quality of QG (and if we didn't object to the quality of Avery questions there, let this be not the last time). Our chief contention is that using those questions does nothing to prepare kids for any future tournament: true, Masonics will have the same flaws as the QG you use at your tournament, and that sucks. But is there a way to systematically prepare for QG questions? Moreover, should one bother to systematically prepare for QG questions, or to help others do so, when there are far better heights for quizbowl tournaments to aspire to? Why not make your quizbowl tournament a good thing in and of itself--you've run tournaments on Aegis before, so why not an A set, or even HSAPQ--instead of ensuring that your tournament's only excuse for using those questions is as tenuous as "this way you can prepare for other tournaments that are doing the same? I understand quite well what your reason is for using QG. I'm questioning whether that's a good enough reason.

Look, I'm perfectly willing to believe that we all got off on the wrong foot. Let's try to discuss this sensibly, without appeals to anything but the matter at hand.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by AKKOLADE » Wed Jan 27, 2010 2:55 pm

mrgsmath wrote:I am not sure if I misentered or if I am banned from participating on this forum. But this is the second time I have tried to respond. (the first time recieved no confirmation so I apologize if this the second time around)
Nope, dude, you haven't been banned at any point according to the administration logs.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by kayli » Wed Jan 27, 2010 3:07 pm

Let's look at a timeline of the Masonic thread:
As a new entry to this forum I apologize for not responding sooner. I did anticipate some raised eyebrows when I announced that I would use the Masonic format for the morning pool rounds only. I also am using QG for those rounds as well, but only those rounds. The afternoon rounds will be a standard 16 team bracketed play with a consolation bracket to ensure everyone can play a maximum of rounds. Afternoon rounds will be Avery questions and use the IHSA format.

The reason I chose this path was so that my moderators and staff would have some experience under tournament conditions with the modified format. In addition several teams in the tournament will also compete in the PORTA Masonic Sectional and I wanted to make sure that there were no major problems with round dynamics. My goal was to provide as level and fair a playing field as possible on February 20.

While I also am opposed to QG on technical grounds, I wanted to simulate the format and style as closely as possible, in order to get a reasonable idea on what to anticipate on round times and question objections it is easier for the moderators to review questions if they know what types of problems are routinely encountered. This becomes even more important since until I placed this order I have had no QG questions in my inventory (except for Jr. High questions).

I want to assure everyone that I have not turned top the dark side, I am only trying to provide as high a quality meet as possible. PORTA has a long history with the Masonic program, as well as trying to build on with the IHSSBCA and IHSA. We hope to provide quality tournaments for all the teams in Central Illinois. We must crawl before walking, and walk before we run. My goal is to keep the rest of you in my sights.
Matt, parsed:
I want to assure everyone that I have not turned top the dark side, I am only trying to provide as high a quality meet as possible.
and replied with:
You're using Questions Galore questions AND Avery questions.
Now, I'm argue that doing that is unfair to his argument, and it can be easily interpreted as condescending. But that's nothing terrible.

Anyways, Nothing major happened until:
As I stated I was relunctant to use QG, but I wanted the morning rounds to reflect as close as possible the Masonic style and format. since do not have experience with QG outside of Jr. High and that experience is a negative one, I chose Avery for the IHSA format rounds in the afternoon. All teams entered are aware of this, and were made aware of the dual suppliers before the entered. With the exception of Jay at Greenville, I have not recieved any concerns or resistance from anyone who was invited or who entered.

I am aware that I will catch grief from the purists among you, but I am not a person that has time for the opinions of those who look down from on high at we Central Illinois mortals and pass judgement, and demand our repentance and allegiance.

I am a conservative to the right of Limbaugh, if you don't like the Masonic format, find another organization to host a tournament and provide money for school programs, if you don't like QG use someone else. If you don't like losing, learn to win.

My reason for the format change is all about the Moderators, who truly determine the quality of the meet. I want to run a quality Masonic Sectional, and to do that I felt running 3 rounds with the new format and similar questions was a good way to do so. No one else would provide questions to the form being used at Masonics, so QG was the choice.

Next year I will most likely go back to an IHSA format again.
Okay, some dumb things were said. He already said that he doesn't have the time for others' opinions, and he used the false sense of humility shtick with his "Central Illinois mortals" stuff. Also, the conservative to the right of Limbaugh was dumb and confusing; but I think that small part was blown out of proportion.

Now, it looks like the guy is getting flustered. How about we sit down and discuss civilly why Questions Galore and Avery Questions were a bad choice. Yes?
Wow. You sound like an exceptionally unpleasant human being and a poor role model for students.

In addition to defending your poor choices in the manner of a petulant five-year-old, you are a bald-faced liar, cf:

"I am only trying to provide as high a quality meet as possible."

You obviously are not trying to do any such thing, since you are using literally the worst questions in the world. Please do not say things that are demonstrably untrue if you expect to have your devotion to fake quizbowl and bad educational experiences legitimized by this forum.

It seems that this post was in violation of the spirit of rules:
1) This is the most important rule for these forums. Remember that your dialogue here corresponds to a real life interaction with the community of people who post here, and that you will likely see them in real life at some point, perhaps soon. Post accordingly.

and

4) Your posts must follow the basic rules of polite conversation. Especially, do not utilize ad hominem attacks in your posts. When you're posting to disagree with someone, make sure someone hasn't already made the same post that you're intending to post.
Three fourths of this post was name calling and insulting. Additionally, it decided to parse just one element of his argument and call him out on it. His post before hardly deserved this backlash, and I see this post as the spark that blew up the Masonic thread. As big a deal posting logically has been made in this thread, this seems far from logical.

Now, we all like good quizbowl. And we would all like to see good quizbowl perpetuated. But posting like this only serves to drive people back to bad quizbowl. It doesn't make good quizbowl very attractive if the people telling you about good quizbowl tend to be very biting in their criticism of everything you knew.

As a final statement, I think a lot of the poopstorm could have been avoided if we all just read:
No one else would provide questions to the form being used at Masonics, so QG was the choice.
He wanted to run a Masonic style tournament (for better or worse), and the only possible provider was QG. You can hardly blame the guy for choosing the only possible vendor.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by Captain Sinico » Wed Jan 27, 2010 3:19 pm

Mr. Grant's posts are an absolute embarrassment and I don't see how anyone can disagree with that. I don't think Matt's posts were good, either; to wit, they didn't seem to serve their purpose of moving the discussion forward, advancing reasonable arguments, enforcing rules, etc. I don't think we should be calling people names, even when they're (obviously very, very) wrong (and possibly not entirely honest or even crazed.) In fact, that seems to me to me that name-calling is against the rules... but this is a standing issue I've had with Matt that I'd not like to air (further) here.

That said, let's get some history straight. Masonic this year is a massively, massively retrogressive force, even considering the state of the game in Illinois. This year, it implemented a bad, new distribution on bad, new questions, questions that are among the worst that will be played in the state this year, if not the very worst. Consequently, certainly in no sense could the running of a Masonic-style tournament be considered "progress." In fact, I'm not convinced quizbowl wouldn't be better off without Masonic entirely, even considering that it pumps some money into the game.
Finally, let me make more explicit my reasoning there. In some sense, tournaments that maintain the bad status quo are doing harm precisely by that maintenance. I'm not saying that necessarily means we should burn all of them down without considering what might replace them, but I am saying that one ought to consider that before one says "Well, any tournament is better than no tournament, so running anything is always a net positive," an argument that I'm seeing posited here in many places.

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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by Captain Sinico » Wed Jan 27, 2010 3:42 pm

To respond to Mr. Grant, Avrey questions are pretty much as bad as QG. Compare the intellectual content of each to PACE, NAQT, or HSAPQ. Consider what kind and depth of learning each format encourages/rewards. I think you'll find that the latter three are much, much better questions than the former two at reflecting and rewarding deep, academic learning. They have the additional property of being fairer as they lack hoses and do a better job allowing alternative answers and asking unambiguous questions.

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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Wed Jan 27, 2010 3:56 pm

Avery also has one of the most notorious reputations for attacking players of his questions over completely fair criticisms. The iconic example can be found in this post: viewtopic.php?p=49684#p49684
As you can see, this person who was awarded a contract to serve an audience of high schoolers can't seem to resist calling minors names and literally accusing teams who made the top 4 in the state championship event that he wrote of being "8 clueless players who couldn't find their rear ends with both hands and a map." To add to that, he was also the original author of the contents of the following post - viewtopic.php?p=56019#p56019 - as one of his examples of bringing up imaginary threatened lawsuits to scare people into not talking about what an unethical person he is. If you didn't know this, now you do, and now you can see why when you say you've not had bad dealings with Avery, the rest of us know more about him and can unequivocally tell you that both his questions are awful and his behavior betrays nothing less than absolute contempt for the people who play quizbowl.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by kayli » Wed Jan 27, 2010 4:15 pm

Hm, I think part of the problem is the fact that there aren't writers that will write for this format. I think, if some of us could do some pro bono Masonic style question writing, we could increase the quality of quizbowl within that region. I'm not entirely sure what the distribution of Masonic is; but if it's egregious, I'm sure we can persuade them to change it a little provided we make the sets completely free to begin with. I'm always looking for something to write for. Thoughts?
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by at your pleasure » Wed Jan 27, 2010 4:22 pm

Arsonists Get All the Girls wrote:Hm, I think part of the problem is the fact that there aren't writers that will write for this format. I think, if some of us could do some pro bono Masonic style question writing, we could increase the quality of quizbowl within that region. I'm not entirely sure what the distribution of Masonic is; but if it's egregious, I'm sure we can persuade them to change it a little provided we make the sets completely free to begin with. I'm always looking for something to write for. Thoughts?
Might be worth a try, but some formats can be ridiculous to write good questions for and Masonics might be one of those.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by the return of AHAN » Wed Jan 27, 2010 4:23 pm

HEY! I'd love to tell you to write for Illinois Elementary School Assoication State Series, but I'm too late.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by jonah » Wed Jan 27, 2010 4:27 pm

Hopefully the mods can split off a new thread for Masonic format discussion. Anyway, the Masonic format is explained here. This is the first year it is being used, and I expect it to be received very poorly; you should probably wait a while to see if anyone wants it for next year before attempting to write questions in it. I don't know the exact distribution, but I imagine it is similar to the IHSA distribution, which you can find on page six of this.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by mrgsmath » Wed Jan 27, 2010 4:53 pm

Let me apologize for not having a handle on the quote concept, so it may appear confusing.

Matt - as to elitist I was refering to my interpretation of your statement, "your using QG and Avery" as being dismissive to the point that you would not dignify my post with an arguement that would lower you and demean your character. I did say this may have been an overreaction, but I had been reading several posts and threads and had developed some opinions, be them perhaps in error, and responded with a little too much zeal. However, with that said, nothing subsequent to that gave me any reason to engage in intellectual discussions. When an administrator of the forum refers to me as a petulant 5 year old, rather than direct me to a higher level of discourse, I assumed it was gloves off trashing.

After reading several responses to my earlier post today, I can see why you have a passionate dislike for Avery. However, with that said, getting a supplier for only 4-5 rounds for a Saturday meet is difficult. Given the choices of QG, Answers +, Plytapus ect. I chose Avery, one that fit my needs and as I said had given me no reason not to.
I am not opposed to pyramidal, in fact prior to this year I have written my own questions, pyramidal in style, for my tournaments. For reasons that would not interest you nor advance the discussion, I was unable tro write them for this years Varsity meet.

I understand your objections to the Masonic meet, I just respectfully disagree. While they do not conform to your idea of a good competition, they do not in any way compete with your form either. I host and attend meets that follow the pyramidal format of questions, IHSSBCA kickoff, CS-8 competitions, and The Springfield Invitational as examples for this year. This represents one-sith of my alotted meets per IHSA rules. I have been hosting Masonic meets for the past 3 years, during which time they have moved from buzzer beater to Pyramidal and now I assume back to buzzer beater. I do not feel such actions make me a sell out nor has it diminished the quality of my program. We competed at Saturday's Springfield Invite and were one of the 4 teams that were in the tie at 6-2. I have found that those teams in Central Illinois at least that have a balance of formats in their schedule do well in all forms.

As a final note to the QG choice for my meet, I will add this, which I would have offered last night had I not gotten drawn into the mess which I confess was partly of my making, I have been working with my moderators here at PORTA to screen the questions from QG and throw out hoses and clean up poorly worded and misleading questions. I had to buy 5 sets of 30 tossups in order to get 48 usable questions and similarly had to do the same on bonuses.

I do not mind attacks against me, but I do take offense when the attacks are against the PORTA program and my team. I truly felt many assertions made in that regard were out of line, the State Championship team was a great group of players, and we did not backdown from any opponent nor any format of competition.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by mlaird » Wed Jan 27, 2010 5:05 pm

Arsonists Get All the Girls wrote:Hm, I think part of the problem is the fact that there aren't writers that will write for this format. I think, if some of us could do some pro bono Masonic style question writing, we could increase the quality of quizbowl within that region. I'm not entirely sure what the distribution of Masonic is; but if it's egregious, I'm sure we can persuade them to change it a little provided we make the sets completely free to begin with. I'm always looking for something to write for. Thoughts?
The other issue here (and I'm sorry to continue derailment, but I don't have the patience to properly discuss meta-posting), is that this has been done. This was precisely what Aegis was created to do, and it failed because the director of the Masonic Tournament (among others) said things like "Pyramidal questions? Oh, I hate those. They are too long!" While what we wrote them was hardly the pinnacle of quizbowl, we were sort of stuck, because we knew we couldn't make it too hard for fear of outright rejection, and we were forced to use the IHSA bonus format, which no one in their right mind should ever want to write for. We wrote what I, at the time, thought were decently accessible questions in their format that did not have answer selection that was too difficult. This ended up not being the case, because the vast majority of teams still couldn't answer a question about "Avogadro's Number" given the constant in the giveaway, and couldn't answer "American Revolution" after mentioning Yorktown. There is only so far down we can go without going to "What is a chest of drawers?" If you are interested in what we did for them the past two years, you can go here: http://aegisquestions.com/questions/

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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by theMoMA » Wed Jan 27, 2010 5:06 pm

There are plenty of people here who are willing to relay the reasons that Avery and QG are bad question providers. But just remember, reasoned discussions require two willing participants. We simply can't have a reasoned discussion on the terms that defined the previous thread. I'm perfectly willing to discuss strategies and theory about Illinois quizbowl, and I think I have some decent insight to provide as someone who has been in the middle of change in a similar region for the past three-plus years. And I know that others, like Matt, are willing to have that discussion too. We'd like nothing more than to see good quizbowl prosper in Illinois, and honestly we're pretty easy to forgive if people are willing to discuss on civil terms and with an open mind.

People need to realize that the attitudes expressed in the Masonics thread are what Matt Weiner has fought against for the past decade. These attitudes are the biggest threats to good quizbowl's spread, continuity, and survival. When someone comes into a discussion having already made up their mind and uses any ridiculous and illogical means available to defend their decision, the discussion is over. Occasionally, those people realize their errors, choose to discuss reasonably, and either join good quizbowl's cause or exit on respectable terms. The overwhelming majority of the time, these people simply choose to leave. Matt's strategy has long been to show people the door quickly and let them make up their minds for themselves. I think, though it's certainly up for debate, that this strategy has been largely a success.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by Captain Sinico » Wed Jan 27, 2010 5:07 pm

To respond to Mr. Grant's latest post, what I'm saying is: you shouldn't attend or host any tournaments on bad, non-pyramidal questions. Doing so does, in fact, lessen your program and your contribution to the game. For a straightforward explanation of why non-pyramidal questions are better, you can see my post above. To re-hash that, non-pyramidal questions are bad teaching tools and playing on them or learning to play them gains the players little or no learning or merit.
Furthermore, these question types do, in fact, compete with each other for resources. For example, you could almost certainly fill up your schedule with pyramidal-format tournaments if you chose to, but you have not done so. As a further example, you could have chosen to host your tournament on different questions (which may have entailed your drifting somewhat from the Masonic format, but I count that for very little since your tournament already does this...) but you didn't.

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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by mrgsmath » Wed Jan 27, 2010 5:20 pm

There really is no specified distribution, however using the guidelines for question categories I distributed:
3 - Math (Algebra, Geometry, Calculus) 3-Language Arts (British Lit, American Lit, World Lit) 3 Science(Physics, Chem, Earth, Bio) 3- Social Studies (Geography, U.S. history, World History, Government) 3 - Fine Arts (Music, Art, Theater) 1-Misc(no-sports, no-drivers ed, no-pop culture (brittney spears) no-useless trivia) Historical Sports, and current events of true potential historical worth were accepted.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by mrgsmath » Wed Jan 27, 2010 5:39 pm

Captain Sinico wrote: what I'm saying is: you shouldn't attend or host any tournaments on bad, non-pyramidal questions. Doing so does, in fact, lessen your program and your contribution to the game.
With this I would respectfully disagree, while it may serve to perpetuate the existance of the form of "bad quiz bowl" you reject, I hardly see how the overall impact is significant on a team that capable of adapting to the inferior form. I know this forum seems to dislike sports anologies, but what you say is similar to the golfer who want play courses if the fairways aren't bent-grass and pristine. Yes it may affect his score, but it also enhances his ability to play under less than good conditions.
Captain Sinico wrote:For example, you could almost certainly fill up your schedule with pyramidal-format tournaments if you chose to, but you have not done so.
Here I also disagree, as I stated we hosted the Kickoff, attended the Springfield Invite and played 9 team to the CS-8 conference. In normal years I run pyramidal matches as well. Our budget will not allow us to travel to the Chicago area to compete and the U of I competitions have not fit in with other demands on the teams schedule. At 415 students I do not have the luxury of demanding total committment. All other tournaments are other formats and regular weeknight matches are at the mercy of the host school. While I try to host with pyramidal, in the past few years teams will not schedule to come here for that very reason.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by vcuEvan » Wed Jan 27, 2010 6:15 pm

mrgsmath wrote:I know this forum seems to dislike sports anologies, but what you say is similar to the golfer who want play courses if the fairways aren't bent-grass and pristine. Yes it may affect his score, but it also enhances his ability to play under less than good conditions.
It's more like a professional golfer choosing to play a mini-golf flash game on their computer. This assumption that playing bad quiz bowl is better than playing no quiz bowl is wrong. Students who haven't been indoctrinated into thinking "What is a chest of drawers?" is acceptable are much more open to good quiz bowl. Question providers like QG dissuade intellectual curiosity by asking about ridiculous things and doing it poorly.

Regarding how we treat hostile supporters of bad quiz bowl, I'm not sure why people are so keen on debating these people. People like Grant have already perused the available information and decided they'd rather stunt the intellectual growth of their students. This position isn't even arguable, and seriously debating it lends it credence.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by Deviant Insider » Wed Jan 27, 2010 6:29 pm

I'm glad people are getting along better, but I still don't see the main issues raised by this thread as being resolved.

One problem is that new posters here are sometimes attacked for not following a somewhat complex set of rules. New posters are new posters, and they post some stupid things. Is there any effort on this board to lessen the chance that future new posters will cause threads to degrade into ad hominem attacks? You can blame the new posters if you want to, but the only way to change this is to change the reactions of established posters, since new posters sometimes will post like new posters do. I'll add that it does not matter whether the new poster is a coach, college student, or high school student--there are some times and places where it is reasonable to hold adults to a higher standard than adolescents, but an internet bulletin board in many ways is not one of them (depending on the type of behavior).

Also, I am still baffled by the charge of bullying. When somebody on this board with no authority and nobody backing him up makes some sarcastic comments, it is not bullying. It is to some extent against the rules, and it goes against the purpose of this board, so it should get corrected, but it is not somebody using power to coerce somebody without power. Nobody here worries about somebody else using this board to force them to play Questions Galore, and I'm not sure why any moderators feel like they have to be diligent to prevent that from happening.

The people who have the power to be bullies on this board are the people with power on this board--people who are moderators and people who get along very well with the moderators. Fortunately, most of the moderating on this board is good and reasonable. However, I do not understand how a moderator who claims to be against bullying can say somebody is acting like a petulant five year old, even if that moderator believes the poster is acting like a petulant five year old. Tell the person that they are posting poorly, but find a way to do it befitting a moderator who is trying to move discussions in a productive direction.

I am not saying that Grant was right and Weiner was wrong. I am saying that in this situation I hold Weiner to a higher standard. I expect more from a moderator who is a very experienced user of this forum than a newbie.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by Captain Sinico » Wed Jan 27, 2010 6:54 pm

The impact you don't see is simple. Some forms of quizbowl are better for the intellectual development of players than others, and that's what's important here. I don't call some forms of quizbowl bad because they perpetuate themselves or "because I say so." I call them bad because they don't reward learning very well and because they are unfair as a tendency. I wish you would answer whether you agree with that.
One thing I notice is that all your arguments are predicated on the idea that preparing your students to win if your highest goal. While that should be one of your goals, I'd say that your job really isn't and shouldn't be about winning and losing primarily. As a quizbowl coach, you're an educator: you should be out to give your players the richest, most rewarding experience possible playing quizbowl. That entails teaching the right forms of the game.
Let's suppose you disagree even with that and you say that winning whatever tournaments you enter is everything to you. Every piece of evidence I have ever seen says that you're better off playing and studying pyramidal questions. Notice, for example, that that's what the teams that are going to beat you consistently are doing consistently. How can you explain the fact that all most successful Illinois teams, even considering success on short, hosey questions, practice and play pyramidal questions almost exclusively?
I don't know why I'm doing this, but I'll co-opt your sports analogy just this once. I'm saying: "Your job as a golf coach is to encourage the fitness and development-as-people of your players. You're not doing that to the extent that you could by having them play a lot of mini-golf consistently, because mini-golf doesn't reward fitness as well and has a lot of random outcomes not dictated by skill or hard work. Furthermore, I don't think that mini-golf prepares your players as well for real golf as just playing real golf." What you're saying is: "Mini-golf teaches the hell out of putting, which is really conducive to success in the state golf tournament!"
I realize that finances can be an issue, but I'm sure that someone with your, shall we say, faith in American enterprise would never try to mitigate their role in making their own choices by appealing to socioeconomic factors to explain a lack of achievement relative to others, so I must be misreading you there. Anyway, it remains the case that you could fill your schedule with pyramidal stuff if you chose; worse-off teams than you have traveled more to do so. And really, there's no way around that fact.
Finally, your other claim, which is that you were somehow compelled to host non-pyramidal questions, I very much fail to understand. You can host on whatever kind of questions you like; it's your tournament. If you're saying more people will come in the short run if you use hosey, one-line questions, possibly you're right, but that doesn't make your decision for you. For example, we've managed to host a long series of successful pyramidal tournaments that have made us a lot of money, despite being convenient to absolutely no teams, beginning as a non-presence on the high school scene, and initially have to host on dates outside the calendar because all others were filled. If we can do it, surely you can.

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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by Captain Sinico » Wed Jan 27, 2010 7:10 pm

vcuEvan wrote:...I'm not sure why people are so keen on debating...
This position isn't even arguable, and seriously debating it lends it credence.
I have faith that good, reasoned arguments will win over reasonable people. Even if the person with whom I'm debating isn't necessarily reasonable, my ability to sway the views of the audience is very valuable to me and I strongly believe that some of them are both reasonable (in the sense of willing at least to listen to what I have to say) and currently hold views very different from my own.
I don't find Mr. Grant's positions absurd prima faciae or think they necessarily entail any dishonesty on his part. However, I do very much disagree with them for what I consider to be excellent, well-founded reasons, which I will put forth.
Finally, what you're saying is highly anti-discussion. If you don't have anything better to say than "Don't have a reasoned debate about quizbowl because it's obvious to me that your opponent's position is wrong," then please consider this an invitation from the board staff to remain silent on the matter.

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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by magin » Wed Jan 27, 2010 7:38 pm

Captain Sinico wrote:
vcuEvan wrote:...I'm not sure why people are so keen on debating...
This position isn't even arguable, and seriously debating it lends it credence.
I have faith that good, reasoned arguments will win over reasonable people. Even if the person with whom I'm debating isn't necessarily reasonable, my ability to sway the views of the audience is very valuable to me and I strongly believe that some of them are both reasonable (in the sense of willing at least to listen to what I have to say) and currently hold views very different from my own.
I don't find Mr. Grant's positions absurd prima faciae or think they necessarily entail any dishonesty on his part. However, I do very much disagree with them for what I consider to be excellent, well-founded reasons, which I will put forth.
Finally, what you're saying is highly anti-discussion. If you don't have anything better to say than "Don't have a reasoned debate about quizbowl because it's obvious to me that your opponent's position is wrong," then please consider this an invitation from the board staff to remain silent on the matter.

MaS
I strongly agree with this post, especially the first part of it. Taking the null hypothesis as people being open to persuasion by reasonable arguments, I contend that type I errors (believing that the null hypothesis is false when it is actually true) are more damaging than type II errors (believing that the null hypothesis is true when it is actually false). The worst case scenario if we make the type I error (believing that someone is unable to be persuaded by reasonable arguments when he or she is actually open to them) results in that person not being exposed to said reasonable arguments and never reaching his or her potential as a supporter of good quizbowl. On the other hand, the worst case scenario if we make the type II error (believing that someone is able to be persuaded by reasonable arguments when he or she is not actually open to them) results in us being frustrated and wasting a lot of time. Sure, that's unfortunate and irritating, but nowhere near as bad for quizbowl as the former scenario (someone not achieving his or her potential as a supporter of good quizbowl). Therefore, I think it's clear that promoting good quizbowl is best served by striving to avoid type I errors, not type II errors.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by vcuEvan » Wed Jan 27, 2010 7:51 pm

Captain Sinico wrote: Finally, what you're saying is highly anti-discussion. If you don't have anything better to say than "Don't have a reasoned debate about quizbowl because it's obvious to me that your opponent's position is wrong," then please consider this an invitation from the board staff to remain silent on the matter.

MaS
This wasn't my intention, but I guess it did come out that way. You managed to cut out the part of my post where I said "hostile supporters of bad quiz bowl." I guess the point I was actually trying to make is that when people aren't interested in dialogue, persuasion probably won't be effective.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by Dresden_The_BIG_JERK » Wed Jan 27, 2010 7:55 pm

Captain Sinico wrote: Furthermore, I don't think that mini-golf prepares your players as well for real golf as just playing real golf.
Happy Gilmore, you lied to me!
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by The King's Flight to the Scots » Wed Jan 27, 2010 8:08 pm

It's obvious that Mark Grant was wrong, and that his posts needed to be corrected. I only wonder about these ad hominem attacks:
Someone who is as unfamiliar with logic as you appear to be can't be very good at teaching math, either.
Wow. You sound like an exceptionally unpleasant human being and a poor role model for students.
Are these comments true? Arguably, yes. However, people unfamiliar with good quizbowl do lurk this forum: what would Random Ohio Kid X think of these comments? I for one nearly left these boards about six months ago after getting fed up with the toxic atmosphere. For such a champion of quizbowl's public image, Matt doesn't seem to be projecting a very good one. Certainly, we should correct every blatant falsehood and call them as they are, and Matt did an excellent job of that in the Masonics thread; however, when dealing with new posters, we should not stoop to such crude, childish rhetorical techniques as name-calling. We need to look professional for the sake of those new teams who are willing to embrace good quizbowl, but understandably apprehensive about joining a community that does not welcome them.

I'll note that if Matt has a strong reason for posting as he does, now would be the time to divulge it and silence those who would attack him for being "uncivil." I'll clarify that I found the calls for "civility" in the Masonics thread far more noxious to good quizbowl than any comment Matt made.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by Piethagorous » Wed Jan 27, 2010 8:39 pm

Regarding how we treat hostile supporters of bad quiz bowl, I'm not sure why people are so keen on debating these people. People like Grant have already perused the available information and decided they'd rather stunt the intellectual growth of their students. This position isn't even arguable, and seriously debating it lends it credence.
As a student of Coach Grant's, a state champion, and first team all-stater, I can't really say that my intellectual growth has been stunted.

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