Moving NAC back towards legitimacy?

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Moving NAC back towards legitimacy?

Post by Joshua Rutsky » Mon Mar 01, 2010 9:07 am

Earlier this year, Jason Russell, Chip's new XO, came to our state quizbowl conference and spoke on the topic of team-building and preparation. He gave a pretty good lecture, but I was really predisposed to reject everything he said as soon as I heard that our speaker was going to be someone from NAC. Chip has such a terrible reputation here (and I'm not challenging either that or the documentation that has been produced to support the claims) that I automatically, like many of the posters and readers here, have rejected anything coming from him as being tainted goods.

After the conference, however, I walked up to Jason, and very directly asked him to address the question of how he could claim to be in favor of quality pyramidal quizbowl and still work for Chip Beall. I mentioned several of the incidents listed here on the forum, and talked with him about the giant credibility gap his company faces. He acknowledged the problems Chip has had with this, and in fact was very open about the issue of question quality and how far he will have to go to change the company. One major change, however, has been made--he is the one who now edits all questions, not Chip. We talked a little about what a good question looks like, and he invited me to come to the NAC regional qualifier he was going to hold later in the year and see what I thought of the new questions.

I had planned on going to a different event two weeks earlier, but it was cancelled due to weather, and suddenly I found myself needing a practice tourney at the last minute. I didn't have a full varsity squad, and would be playing with two JV players, and we really needed the practice against outside teams, and...well, there you are. We went. And you know, I wasn't horrified.

Don't get me wrong. There were still a few things that were....Chippy. Questions that are "why" questions, for example. I still hate those. There were a couple of anagrams, which should never be in quiz bowl matches, and one question about the Lake Poets that had a lead-in that referenced LA basketball. The format is still not a favorite, either. The first quarter is also still non-pyramidal, which is a no-no. Speed checks should be elsewhere, not in quizbowl. Even so, the questions at the tourney were significantly better than what I expected, and far better than what I remember from my one past NAC experience. It wasn't horrible, and no one broke out in hives.

I've encouraged Jason, who I understand reads this board, to post one or two of the rounds from this tournament himself, either here or on the QB archive. I certainly wouldn't want people to take my word on this, and the only way he's going to convince anyone that NAC is changing is to put sample questions out there that show quality material in play. I still think that NAQT, HSAPQ, and some of the house-written sets out there are far superior. Still, I think it's worth mentioning Jason's effort here, and wonder if anyone else has seen some of the new questions and has an opinion?
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Re: Moving NAC back towards legitimacy?

Post by Nine-Tenths Ideas » Mon Mar 01, 2010 9:19 am

I think seeing these questions would be a great help, as I'm not going to be inclined to change my opinion otherwise.
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Re: Moving NAC back towards legitimacy?

Post by Down and out in Quintana Roo » Mon Mar 01, 2010 10:38 am

Where did Matt Weiner's post go? Did he change his mind?
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Re: Moving NAC back towards legitimacy?

Post by AKKOLADE » Mon Mar 01, 2010 10:53 am

This is a repost without the stuff that bumped up against the rules.
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Re: Moving NAC back towards legitimacy?

Post by David Riley » Mon Mar 01, 2010 11:01 am

I want to give Jason the benefit of the doubt, but.....seeing is believing.
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Re: Moving NAC back towards legitimacy?

Post by ppreston » Mon Mar 01, 2010 11:20 am

We just returned from the St Leo University tournament which is run by rookies but overall is really fun. They use Questions Unlimited. My team won a tie-breaker because we got to the answer to "What color was Moby Dick" a bit quicker. To paraphrase Kirk; I've never trusted "NAC", and I never will. I could never forgive them for the death of "good questions". It seems to me our mission to "get good questions from them" is problematic at best. "Jason" says this could be an historic occasion, and I'd like to believe him, but how on earth can "a" history "of bad questions" get past "coaches" like me?
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Re: Moving NAC back towards legitimacy?

Post by Matt Weiner » Mon Mar 01, 2010 1:23 pm

It's funny that Jason Russell is telling me that he has nothing to do with the regional tournaments, but telling you he edited them. He sent me an email two months ago containing some weird analogies about the NAC and proclaiming that things would somehow be different; I replied with a brief outline of just a few things that would need to change, and he never wrote back. Given the lack of effort put into the discussion and the fact that he's telling different people contradictory things based on what they want to hear, I doubt anything has really changed in Chipland.

Even if the questions had improved, which I can't believe they have until I see some, there's still far too much ethical baggage to deal with, and Chip is still the head of the company. Jason Russell has been in the inner circle since at least 2001, so it's not like he could have kept his own hands clean. Trophy whores and other people who were looking for any excuse to play fake quizbowl run by a charlatan will jump at this opportunity; the rest of us will continue to remember why we left.
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Re: Moving NAC back towards legitimacy?

Post by evilmonkey » Mon Mar 01, 2010 3:14 pm

Matt Weiner wrote:there's still far too much ethical baggage to deal with
I can't emphasize this point enough. There may be a new public face to the organization, but it is still an organization that has thrived over the years on the basis of plagiarized questions, as well as other unethical practices: blatant favoritism and unprofessionalism shown by moderators; the fixing of the prelim brackets; the suspicious refrain that "these questions were prepared months in advance" when a deluge of questions favoring the veteran NAC team appear; and the myriad scandals of the past. It has only been a year or two since Chip used the term "Junior Nationals" to refer to HSNCT, which was taken by many to be a shot at Wilmington Charter. Even if the questions were to improve, I would not give money to Chip Beall's organization.
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Re: Moving NAC back towards legitimacy?

Post by jrbarry » Mon Mar 01, 2010 6:44 pm

Joshua Rutsky:

You are a brave soul starting this thread. :-)

I was at the same event as Josh this past weekend. It's a mixed review for me.

The questions: certainly better than the 1980s and 1990s QU ones I heard or read, but less than what I realistically hoped for. Someone somewhere has no real sense of consistency nor of pyramidality. At least there were no hoses and almost no silly questions. Still, in terms of editing, that set needs much more.

The match format: I like it better than straight tossup/bonus. In fact, I just like the match format. Every tossup in every quarter needs to have the same value, however. He did that in the prelims but not the playoffs.

I like Jason and hope he can have ever more input into the style of question Chip writes.

I hope QU continues to improve. They can help make quiz bowl more accessible to more teams who feel left out of the national circuit for one reason or another.
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Re: Moving NAC back towards legitimacy?

Post by at your pleasure » Mon Mar 01, 2010 6:52 pm

If Jason is interested in getting back in mainstream quizbowl's good books, prehaps he won't object to the presence of observers with recording devices at NAC. Just a thought.
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Re: Moving NAC back towards legitimacy?

Post by Haaaaaaaarry Whiiiiiiiiiite » Mon Mar 01, 2010 7:59 pm

jrbarry wrote:They can help make quiz bowl more accessible to more teams who feel left out of the national circuit for one reason or another.
I'm sure Richard Montgomery would have something to say about that.
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Re: Moving NAC back towards legitimacy?

Post by Ben Dillon » Mon Mar 01, 2010 8:33 pm

I had my JV team attend the Indiana/Illinois regional written by QU, and wasn't put off by what I saw. Some of the questions were a bit goofy, but there was more pyramidality than in the past (except in the "warmup round"). Additionally, Jason is open: he asked me for input on questions after every round, such as did I find any hoses. We did find at least two incorrect math calculation questions.

I wrote Jason afterward to thank him for his efforts, but I also reminded him of the large gap between QU and NAQT in two areas: QU, unlike NAQT, has a website that doesn't promote their own tournaments and doesn't provide results from them, and QU's question security that doesn't allow coaches to get their own set of packets at the conclusion of the tourney. Because of the latter, btw, we should refrain from discussion of the questions since they could be used at other tournaments. Beyond these two items, I'm not certain how much change Jason can effect in his role as Chief Editor.
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Re: Moving NAC back towards legitimacy?

Post by Angry Babies in Love » Mon Mar 01, 2010 10:07 pm

The Gambler, the Nun, and the Radio wrote:
jrbarry wrote:They can help make quiz bowl more accessible to more teams who feel left out of the national circuit for one reason or another.
I'm sure Richard Montgomery would have something to say about that.
From our experiences, I believe that NAC/QU does not prepare anyone for real quizbowl because it is absolutely nothing like quizbowl. Knowing the color of Moby-Dick does not make quizbowl more accessible. Being able to identify a blender or the song "Sledgehammer" based on an audio clip does not make quizbowl more accessible. Questions that begin with "why" do not make quizbowl more successful. Unless there has been some radical change (the lack of hoses is a new development), I still firmly believe that NAC impedes the spread of legit quizbowl across the nation.

EDIT: I misread the original quote. They CAN make quizbowl better by ceasing the production of terrible questions. At the moment, though, NAC/QU/ :chip: is doing little or no good for the quizbowl community as a whole.
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Re: Moving NAC back towards legitimacy?

Post by Deviant Insider » Mon Mar 01, 2010 11:24 pm

Joshua Rutsky wrote:Don't get me wrong. There were still a few things that were....Chippy. Questions that are "why" questions, for example. I still hate those. There were a couple of anagrams, which should never be in quiz bowl matches, and one question about the Lake Poets that had a lead-in that referenced LA basketball. The format is still not a favorite, either. The first quarter is also still non-pyramidal, which is a no-no. Speed checks should be elsewhere, not in quizbowl. Even so, the questions at the tourney were significantly better than what I expected, and far better than what I remember from my one past NAC experience. It wasn't horrible, and no one broke out in hives.
This paragraph does not make a whole lot of sense. You describe questions that a decent question vendor would not sell, but the point of the post is that NAC is becoming a decent vendor. If the set has "why" questions and speed checks, then we don't need to read it to determine whether or not we want to spend our time and money on it (aside from scenarios where tournaments on all other questions get canceled). If NAC wants to be taken seriously, then at the very least it needs to attempt to write a set of pyramidal questions with unambiguous answers. If they try to write one of the fifteen best high school sets produced during a given school year, then I will be curious to see it even if they fall short of the mark, but they can't include the things Coach Rutsky describes and simultaneously claim that their questions are better than, or as good as, other available options.

It sounds like NAC is moving in the right direction, and I'm willing to give 2nd and 3rd chances, but I'm not interested in sets with a few good questions when other people are producing sets with a lot of good questions.
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Re: Moving NAC back towards legitimacy?

Post by Haaaaaaaarry Whiiiiiiiiiite » Mon Mar 01, 2010 11:45 pm

I feel like that if HSAPQ were to produce a set similar to what QU has put out recently, there would be no end to the backlash. So why should we give QU the benefit of the doubt when they've shown time and time again that they have no real interest in promoting Good Quizbowl?
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Re: Moving NAC back towards legitimacy?

Post by Captain Sinico » Mon Mar 01, 2010 11:51 pm

Yeah, I've got to agree with Reinstein here: I just don't see your guys arguments. It sounds like QU is still consistently producing unacademic, non-pyramidal, stupid questions. That their stuff is now less abjectly awful in a couple ways fails to do much for me as it should for you. Call me when they're actually as good as the dozens of other sets that are produced each year and I'll think about it.
It seems clear that they're still telling people at least some of what they want to hear regardless of whether it's true. I think we should be very skeptical about QU's new policy of seeming to care what people think of their questions. After all, glad-handing people, listening, and promising improvement is free and probably couldn't hurt, whereas effecting real change is difficult, expensive, and not something QU has ever shown a will to attempt, much less the capability to do actually.

On what I hope is an unrelated note, I don't understand how J.R. Barry can consistently pillory NAQT for having trash* and then be seen to condone NAC's questions in any sense. Also, as is obvious, any set can be adapted to run in 4 Quarter format, or whatever other format anyone might prefer for reasons unstated or have very strong, unsupported opinions about. Let's please have a little more consistency and reasoning.

Finally, I hope we can cut out this "You're such a brave soul!" and other related nonsense. Make good points and support them and you have nothing to fear from anyone here. Let's have a reasonable discussion.

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Re: Moving NAC back towards legitimacy?

Post by nobthehobbit » Mon Mar 01, 2010 11:54 pm

The Gambler, the Nun, and the Radio wrote:I feel like that if HSAPQ were to produce a set similar to what QU has put out recently, there would be no end to the backlash. So why should we give QU the benefit of the doubt when they've shown time and time again that they have no real interest in promoting Good Quizbowl?
I think part of it may be that we're used to seeing good questions from HSAPQ, so a QU-quality set would be rather a large, and unwelcome, surprise. On the other hand, we're used to seeing bad questions from QU, so any improvement in quality is a welcome surprise.

Of course, your point is valid; QU should be held to the same standard to which question producers like NAQT, HSAPQ, and various housewriters are held. The difference is probably just human nature.
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Re: Moving NAC back towards legitimacy?

Post by theMoMA » Tue Mar 02, 2010 5:47 am

Mike's post is a bastion of reasonableness. The NAC/QU is still a tournament/organization with a long history of ethical baggage and a current product of a quality vastly inferior to that which modern quizbowl demands. I will believe they've changed when I see it, and I certainly haven't seen it yet.
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Re: Moving NAC back towards legitimacy?

Post by Joshua Rutsky » Tue Mar 02, 2010 6:33 am

Westwon wrote:
Joshua Rutsky wrote:Don't get me wrong. There were still a few things that were....Chippy. Questions that are "why" questions, for example. I still hate those. There were a couple of anagrams, which should never be in quiz bowl matches, and one question about the Lake Poets that had a lead-in that referenced LA basketball. The format is still not a favorite, either. The first quarter is also still non-pyramidal, which is a no-no. Speed checks should be elsewhere, not in quizbowl. Even so, the questions at the tourney were significantly better than what I expected, and far better than what I remember from my one past NAC experience. It wasn't horrible, and no one broke out in hives.
This paragraph does not make a whole lot of sense. You describe questions that a decent question vendor would not sell, but the point of the post is that NAC is becoming a decent vendor. If the set has "why" questions and speed checks, then we don't need to read it to determine whether or not we want to spend our time and money on it (aside from scenarios where tournaments on all other questions get canceled). If NAC wants to be taken seriously, then at the very least it needs to attempt to write a set of pyramidal questions with unambiguous answers. If they try to write one of the fifteen best high school sets produced during a given school year, then I will be curious to see it even if they fall short of the mark, but they can't include the things Coach Rutsky describes and simultaneously claim that their questions are better than, or as good as, other available options.

It sounds like NAC is moving in the right direction, and I'm willing to give 2nd and 3rd chances, but I'm not interested in sets with a few good questions when other people are producing sets with a lot of good questions.

David, that's all that I'm suggesting--not that this set was what would qualify as a top-of-the-line set, or that it was anywhere close to what is produced by NAQT, HSAPQ, or the good mirrorable house tournaments we see each year. It wasn't. At no point did I say that NAC had become a decent vendor; they have a long way to go before I'd use their questions in a tournament I ran. (For the record, I've used HSAPQ questions for two years now at the Hoover Invitational, and was, to my knowledge, the first team in Alabama to switch to them when they announced their first offering.) The whys have to go, as do the first-quarter speed checks and the "cute" questions. That's legit feedback, and hopefully Jason Russell is listening and not just rolling around in a pile of filthy lucre he gained from the 14 teams that showed up to the tourney.

I, too, am willing to give people second chances, and my conclusion from having done so was that the questions had improved. That's all. I thought it was worth mentioning that this is happening, and allowing people to comment, and I think the resulting discussion has been interesting. Will I use NAC in the future as a question provider? Not as it is today. Will I attend NAC's nationals? No. Will I be going to another such tournament in a few years if I hear that positive changes continue to occur? Quite possibly. I don't think that's unreasonable or irrational.
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Re: Moving NAC back towards legitimacy?

Post by Joshua Rutsky » Tue Mar 02, 2010 6:45 am

I've encouraged Jason, who I understand reads this board, to post one or two of the rounds from this tournament himself, either here or on the QB archive. [b}I certainly wouldn't want people to take my word on this, and the only way he's going to convince anyone that NAC is changing is to put sample questions out there that show quality material in play. I still think that NAQT, HSAPQ, and some of the house-written sets out there are far superior. Still, I think it's worth mentioning Jason's effort here, and wonder if anyone else has seen some of the new questions and has an opinion?[/b]
Just in case someone missed this earlier. Not a bump, but a clarification of my purpose in starting this thread, especially since some seem to be reading this thread as an endorsement of NAC. If you want to argue that I gave a de facto endorsement of NAC when I paid an entry fee into one of their tournaments, I can't really argue with that except to say what I said above--that I'm open to the possibility that someone can change, and that I was willing to spend one entry fee and a weekend day where I couldn't get a better tournament scheduled to take a look. I would hope that doing so and sharing the results is a worthwhile thing to do in a quizbowl community such as this, if only for the sake of review.
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Re: Moving NAC back towards legitimacy?

Post by Deviant Insider » Tue Mar 02, 2010 9:45 am

Thanks for clarifying. There have been a number of posts this year from people stating that good question providers did not live up to their expectations, and I just wanted to clarify that the providers that were thought highly of a year ago are still the providers people should turn to when they need questions. It sounds like we're in agreement.
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Re: Moving NAC back towards legitimacy?

Post by jdeliverer » Tue Mar 02, 2010 6:43 pm

One thing I think can also be can considered is the teams that go to these tournaments. Schools that have informed and reasonable coaches are unlikely to attend an event that uses poor questions or hire an untrusted question provider. But even if QU has not yet reached the stage where you would hire them for a tournament, progress towards that goal should be commended.

Although it makes no difference for us when we try to only play high-quality sets, I think we should at support the progress of a poor question provider. (note: this does not mean going to their tournaments or hailing them as the greatest provider, but perhaps an email commenting positively on what has improved and suggesting further improvements). Because the reality is many schools are only exposed to these kinds of questions, and it's better to expose teams to OK-quality questions than extremely poor ones.
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Re: Moving NAC back towards legitimacy?

Post by jrbarry » Tue Mar 02, 2010 10:20 pm

I wonder if it is possible for me to make a post here and NOT bring out at least one personal attack? I get it: there are some folks who do not care for me personally here.

I do not and have not "continually pilloried" NAQT for having trash. I have mentioned it before as a criticism of NAQT questions. I would prefer no trash in any set I hear or my players play, but that preference is not a requisite for our attending a tournament. I seek tournaments that use NAQT questions to attend. MY teams have been to every NAQT Nationals since its inception (except 2003). That event will be our only nationals in 2010.

So, Mr. Sorice, I began my response to Coach Rutsky's post with a quip in reference to those on this site who have, at times, tried to defend QU or NAC in any way. Those folks have been attacked pretty soundly by some on this board. Thus my reference to Coach Rutsky's "courage."
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Re: Moving NAC back towards legitimacy?

Post by grapesmoker » Tue Mar 02, 2010 11:42 pm

jrbarry wrote:So, Mr. Sorice, I began my response to Coach Rutsky's post with a quip in reference to those on this site who have, at times, tried to defend QU or NAC in any way. Those folks have been attacked pretty soundly by some on this board. Thus my reference to Coach Rutsky's "courage."
Perhaps those people should stop trying to defend terrible quizbowl instead of pretending that defending terrible quizbowl is some courageous act.
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Re: Moving NAC back towards legitimacy?

Post by BucsMath » Wed Mar 03, 2010 12:12 am

grapesmoker wrote:
jrbarry wrote:So, Mr. Sorice, I began my response to Coach Rutsky's post with a quip in reference to those on this site who have, at times, tried to defend QU or NAC in any way. Those folks have been attacked pretty soundly by some on this board. Thus my reference to Coach Rutsky's "courage."
Perhaps those people should stop trying to defend terrible quizbowl instead of pretending that defending terrible quizbowl is some courageous act.
Mr. Rutsky is in no way defending the way QU and NAC have operated in the past. He is merely stating that from the tournament we attended this past weekend (which I found to be much better quizbowl at times than our state format) it can be seen that QU and NAC are open to change, and that, since this forum seems to have a very well established opinion of what good quizbowl is perhaps a decent discussion on how to improve QU/NAC could take place to open a new front of good quizbowl that already has national connections to many teams that may not currently participate in what is called good quizbowl.

The questions at this tournament were not to the standard we hold NAQT and HSAPQ to, but they certainly were not entirely terrible. The distribution was decent and compared to the NAC nationals event Hoover attended a few years ago, the amount of what would be trivia knowledge was drastically reduced.

As for calling out Mr. Barry for his comment that it's a brave thing to start this thread, considering how people have jumped on this thread, taking quotes out of context and generally ignoring anything even remotely positive said about this tournament out of sheer bias, his comment seems to be correct.

Finally, calling people who attended this tournament "trophy whores" is not only rude, it is flat out wrong. The only prizes given out were books (on economics I believe, but I didn't see them myself) to the team that finished first.

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Re: Moving NAC back towards legitimacy?

Post by AKKOLADE » Wed Mar 03, 2010 12:17 am

For what it's worth... I've borrowed the 2009 NAC set from a local high school team that attended that event last year. There are a few pyramidal questions in it, if by pyramidal you mean "lots of words". Lots of speed stuff, too.

I haven't put much time into it, but I just found a question that is a duplicate of another set's question, word for word. TU #7 from what I believe game 12 - though all the pages are labeled P2 for this particular round, and it doesn't follow the typical round formatting exhibited elsewhere in the set, so they may be alternate questions. It reads as follows, typed directly from the printed page:

"Defeat at the Battle of Lake Erie rendered General Henry Proctor's positions in Malden and Detroit untenable, and he elected to withdraw his forces to the north despite the protests of his Indian allies. Withdrawal began September 18, but on October 5, 1813, General William Henry Harrison overtook Proctor and inflicted a decisive defeat on the British. Identify this War of 1812 battle in which future Vice-President Richard Johnson claimed to have personally killed Tecumseh."

You can also find this question in Round 12 of the 1997 Wahoo War.

This is the only one that I've found so far.
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Re: Moving NAC back towards legitimacy?

Post by Rococo A Go Go » Wed Mar 03, 2010 12:23 am

Wow, word for word too. :chip: is worse at plagiarism than high school students.
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Re: Moving NAC back towards legitimacy?

Post by Down and out in Quintana Roo » Wed Mar 03, 2010 12:30 am

The Granny wrote:"Defeat at the Battle of Lake Erie rendered General Henry Proctor's positions in Malden and Detroit untenable, and he elected to withdraw his forces to the north despite the protests of his Indian allies. Withdrawal began September 18, but on October 5, 1813, General William Henry Harrison overtook Proctor and inflicted a decisive defeat on the British. Identify this War of 1812 battle in which future Vice-President Richard Johnson claimed to have personally killed Tecumseh."
That's not a pyramidal tossup. It's just a story about the battle, with the clues even in chronological order just like a high school textbook would list them. And it doesn't actually ask for anything until the last sentence.
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Re: Moving NAC back towards legitimacy?

Post by grapesmoker » Wed Mar 03, 2010 12:30 am

BucsMath wrote:Mr. Rutsky is in no way defending the way QU and NAC have operated in the past. He is merely stating that from the tournament we attended this past weekend (which I found to be much better quizbowl at times than our state format) it can be seen that QU and NAC are open to change, and that, since this forum seems to have a very well established opinion of what good quizbowl is perhaps a decent discussion on how to improve QU/NAC could take place to open a new front of good quizbowl that already has national connections to many teams that may not currently participate in what is called good quizbowl.
Yes, the opinion on how to improve NAC is quite well established. To wit: fire everyone working for it, hire people who know something about writing questions, burn all the old questions, and write a new set.
The questions at this tournament were not to the standard we hold NAQT and HSAPQ to, but they certainly were not entirely terrible.
So better question providers are held to a higher standard? Interesting! Too bad "not to the standard we hold NAQT and HSAPQ to," and "not entirely terrible," are mutually contradictory statements.
As for calling out Mr. Barry for his comment that it's a brave thing to start this thread, considering how people have jumped on this thread, taking quotes out of context and generally ignoring anything even remotely positive said about this tournament out of sheer bias, his comment seems to be correct.
It's not brave to say things that are stupid and wrong. There's nothing positive about NAC, as we have just seen given that in 2009 they are still plagiarizing questions. You're right, we are biased against terrible quizbowl and you should be too.
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Re: Moving NAC back towards legitimacy?

Post by grapesmoker » Wed Mar 03, 2010 12:31 am

Carangoides ciliarius wrote:
The Granny wrote:"Defeat at the Battle of Lake Erie rendered General Henry Proctor's positions in Malden and Detroit untenable, and he elected to withdraw his forces to the north despite the protests of his Indian allies. Withdrawal began September 18, but on October 5, 1813, General William Henry Harrison overtook Proctor and inflicted a decisive defeat on the British. Identify this War of 1812 battle in which future Vice-President Richard Johnson claimed to have personally killed Tecumseh."
That's not a pyramidal tossup. It's just a story about the battle, with the clues even in chronological order just like a high school textbook would list them. And it doesn't actually ask for anything until the last sentence.
Who cares?! It's lifted straight from an old set! In 2009, do people really think that this kind of thing is going to go undetected?
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Re: Moving NAC back towards legitimacy?

Post by millionwaves » Wed Mar 03, 2010 12:34 am

jrbarry wrote:I wonder if it is possible for me to make a post here and NOT bring out at least one personal attack? I get it: there are some folks who do not care for me personally here.

I do not and have not "continually pilloried" NAQT for having trash. I have mentioned it before as a criticism of NAQT questions. I would prefer no trash in any set I hear or my players play, but that preference is not a requisite for our attending a tournament. I seek tournaments that use NAQT questions to attend. MY teams have been to every NAQT Nationals since its inception (except 2003). That event will be our only nationals in 2010.

So, Mr. Sorice, I began my response to Coach Rutsky's post with a quip in reference to those on this site who have, at times, tried to defend QU or NAC in any way. Those folks have been attacked pretty soundly by some on this board. Thus my reference to Coach Rutsky's "courage."
Hi. Let's get something absolutely clear, here. You can't make meta-posts like this in the middle of threads about quizbowl.

We're here to talk about quizbowl. We're not here to talk about how posting goes on this board. That is off-topic, and derailing threads to have discussions like this is against the rules. If you'd like to make any comments, I welcome them; they can be addressed to me, personally, at trygvemeade@gmail.com, or to any other administrator of the board. We're not going to be shy about making sure that discussions are kept on track.
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Re: Moving NAC back towards legitimacy?

Post by AKKOLADE » Wed Mar 03, 2010 12:38 am

Baseball-wise: there's a tossup on Wee Willie Keeler, and one that claims that Fidel Castro rejected a $5,000 signing bonus with the New York Giants in 1949. For those not in the know with baseball: Wee Willie Keeler was a baseball player in the 1890s and 1900s (decade, not century); he's pretty non-accessible in my opinion. Also, the Castro story is pretty much recognized as myth. There's no real evidence these offers existed.
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Re: Moving NAC back towards legitimacy?

Post by Cheynem » Wed Mar 03, 2010 12:52 am

I thought the Castro myth was that he tried out for the Senators, which is even funnier.
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Re: Moving NAC back towards legitimacy?

Post by Captain Sinico » Wed Mar 03, 2010 9:09 am

jrbarry wrote:I wonder if it is possible for me to make a post here and NOT bring out at least one personal attack? I get it: there are some folks who do not care for me personally here.
It is the retort of a weak position to try to make things personal. In no sense did I attack you personally; if you still say I did, show me where. I'd advise you to stop presuming to know what I think about you, as you can have no idea. You are being called to account for what you've said because it doesn't make sense to me, just as anyone else would, and nothing more.
jrbarry wrote:I do not and have not "continually pilloried" NAQT for having trash.
I've never seen a post from you in which you discussed the content of NAQT's questions without bewailing the trash in them. If I'm wrong, prove it.
jrbarry wrote:So, Mr. Sorice, I began my response to Coach Rutsky's post with a quip in reference to those on this site who have, at times, tried to defend QU or NAC in any way. Those folks have been attacked pretty soundly by some on this board. Thus my reference to Coach Rutsky's "courage."
Stop posting things like this and stop defending having done so. Doing so is against the board rules. Any further posting in this vein from you will result in my banning you for one week.

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Re: Moving NAC back towards legitimacy?

Post by Captain Sinico » Wed Mar 03, 2010 9:12 am

BucsMath wrote:Mr. Rutsky is in no way defending the way QU and NAC have operated in the past.
BucsMath wrote:...it can be seen that QU and NAC are open to change...
The latter statement is precisely what I and others disagree with. Saying that QU is open to change is, in fact, defending QU against the well-founded charge that they are not and have not been open to change, which is based on the fact that they haven't changed their questions much for decades and still haven't improved them enough that their questions don't totally blow, even to the sunniest view.
Look, getting people to think that things are going to get better is hardly a new trick. In fact, it's old even in quizbowl: CBI and QU have already pulled that one on people for many years. Whether QU's questions actually are going to get better enough that they aren't jokes compared to dozens of other sets each year is at very least an open question. What I'm saying is: I'll believe that when I see it. I say that because QU has no credibility with me and I don't see how it can have any with any of you. I consequently don't see how you can conscionably support QU (with your money or arguments) until they show you something better than "somewhat less bad questions and some half-baked promises."

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Re: Moving NAC back towards legitimacy?

Post by grapesmoker » Wed Mar 03, 2010 11:35 am

Cheynem wrote:I thought the Castro myth was that he tried out for the Senators, which is even funnier.
I thought that was just the premise for an episode of The Critic.
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Re: Moving NAC back towards legitimacy?

Post by Down and out in Quintana Roo » Wed Mar 03, 2010 11:43 am

Noted trustworthy myth-busting website Snopes.com agrees that it's false.

http://www.snopes.com/sports/baseball/castro.asp
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Re: Moving NAC back towards legitimacy?

Post by Joshua Rutsky » Wed Mar 03, 2010 1:31 pm

The Granny wrote:For what it's worth... I've borrowed the 2009 NAC set from a local high school team that attended that event last year. There are a few pyramidal questions in it, if by pyramidal you mean "lots of words". Lots of speed stuff, too.

I haven't put much time into it, but I just found a question that is a duplicate of another set's question, word for word. TU #7 from what I believe game 12 - though all the pages are labeled P2 for this particular round, and it doesn't follow the typical round formatting exhibited elsewhere in the set, so they may be alternate questions. It reads as follows, typed directly from the printed page:

"Defeat at the Battle of Lake Erie rendered General Henry Proctor's positions in Malden and Detroit untenable, and he elected to withdraw his forces to the north despite the protests of his Indian allies. Withdrawal began September 18, but on October 5, 1813, General William Henry Harrison overtook Proctor and inflicted a decisive defeat on the British. Identify this War of 1812 battle in which future Vice-President Richard Johnson claimed to have personally killed Tecumseh."

You can also find this question in Round 12 of the 1997 Wahoo War.

This is the only one that I've found so far.

One such incident of direct plagiarism is enough to strongly suggest that, despite what was said to me, NAC remains NAC. If Jason wants to directly address this, post question sets that have been written for this year that show changes, and otherwise answer the valid criticisms of NAC that have been brought forward, that's his business. Until he does so, however, this effectively kills any positive feeling I might have had toward his efforts to reboot the company. I was willing to at least give him a shot since he claimed editorial control had shifted, but obviously it has not shifted far enough.
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Re: Moving NAC back towards legitimacy?

Post by jonah » Wed Mar 03, 2010 2:01 pm

As much as I doubt anything has changed, I don't think that's fair. If my understanding is correct, Jason Russell took over editorial control beginning this academic year, so plagiarism in last year's NAC shouldn't be used against him.
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Re: Moving NAC back towards legitimacy?

Post by Matt Weiner » Wed Mar 03, 2010 2:08 pm

jonah wrote:As much as I doubt anything has changed, I don't think that's fair. If my understanding is correct, Jason Russell took over editorial control beginning this academic year, so plagiarism in last year's NAC shouldn't be used against him.
Again I have to ask why people give Questions Unlimited, of all organizations in and out of quizbowl, a benefit of the doubt that they would never apply to anything else. We don't even know when Jason Russell took over, whether he edited this tournament, or what his involvement in the last NAC with plagiarism (which took place all of nine months ago!) was, because our only source of information on these topics is Jason Russell. We know Jason Russell is dishonest because 1) he has every reason to be 2) he has worked for Chip Beall for ten years and 3) he has been telling contradictory things about his role to various figures in high school quizbowl even as recently as last week.

To add to that problem, it's still the case that QU is Chip Beall's organization, and I don't need to elaborate any further on his moral character.

Any reasonable standard of "fairness" would not result in what Jonah has posted above. To be fair to those who have not lied, cheated, and stolen their way into your quizbowl dollars, we must continue to condemn and boycott all QU products and challenge those who do otherwise.
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Re: Moving NAC back towards legitimacy?

Post by Rococo A Go Go » Wed Mar 03, 2010 2:49 pm

As Matt just said, it is still Chip's organization. Everyone knows the problems that Chip's organization has had in the past (and obviously Fred's evidence points out that they still have those problems) and even if some changes have been made, QU still remains a company with a long history of ethical violations and bad products. Until they fully admit their past mistakes and they work to rectify them in a way visible to the quizbowl community, then there is no reason to trust QU/NAC no matter who the current person in charge is.
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Re: Moving NAC back towards legitimacy?

Post by jonah » Wed Mar 03, 2010 2:54 pm

I agree with the conclusions both of Matt and Nick. My point is that there is enough evidence to support those conclusions that we need not resort to potentially illogical evidence such as "we should not trust this allegedly new editor because of things that happened before he claims to have started". Jason's statements on that matter may be true or they may not be; allowing for the possibility that they are true, I conclude that we should discount them and use the scads of other, more sound evidence to justify declaring QU awful.
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Re: Moving NAC back towards legitimacy?

Post by theMoMA » Wed Mar 03, 2010 3:46 pm

I don't think anyone is arguing that it's impossible that those things are true, just that there is no good reason to act as if they're likely true. Matt's most recent post is instructive about what our attitude towards NAC/QU needs to be. If NAC/QU gives itself a leg to stand on, we can reevaluate it as necessary. We are under absolutely no obligation to invent possible universes and improbable scenarios in which NAC/QB is a legitimate source of quizbowl questions, however. And in light of their blemished history, we have a pretty large obligation not to.
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Re: Moving NAC back towards legitimacy?

Post by Captain Sinico » Wed Mar 03, 2010 4:04 pm

jonah wrote:...potentially illogical evidence such as "we should not trust this allegedly new editor because of things that happened before he claims to have started".
The problem with that is we have no reliable information about when he started, so there's no reasonable basis to exonerate him of (glaring!) faults in this set.

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