NAQT security review: three more cases

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NAQT security review: three more cases

Post by Important Bird Area » Wed Mar 20, 2013 2:42 pm

naqt.com wrote:NAQT's ongoing security review has uncovered three additional cases of writers accessing substantive information about questions in packets sets on which they would subsequently compete.
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Re: NAQT security review: three more cases

Post by Cheynem » Thu Mar 21, 2013 11:51 am

I'm glad that this was finally resolved and I'm certainly happy justice was achieved, but the more I think about it, the angrier I get.

I'm angry at so many teams being screwed over over a three year span, teams that we can retroactively honor, sure, but teams that won't get the accolades now that they deserved. Look at 2010 Chicago: The capper on the Seth Teitler Chicago reign of terror over various national tournaments. Look at 2011 Minnesota: a team that presumably would have cleared the field without Harvard and thus deserves some recognition as one of the great national performances. Even more damning, look at 2009-2011 Harvard! At 2011 ICT, I thought Ted was playing some of the best games of his life. Who knows how far an Andy-less Harvard would have gone in any of those years? They might very well have won an UG title themselves. We'll never know now.

This isn't even counting the hypothetical teams that got screwed out of a potential finals appearance or a top bracket appearance, teams rife with long-suffering players looking for a national tournament win and now finding out their best chance was ruined thanks to as shithead with no ethics.

I'm angry at that and I'm angry that it's taken 2-3 years for this to be resolved. I would have loved to be able to celebrate with my teammates an actual national championship while they were at Minnesota. I would have loved not kicking myself for a year over what could have been in 2011.

I'm not even necessarily angry at NAQT per se, so don't interpret this as me lashing out at them (although I still am furious at the asinine lack of question security). I had to get this off my chest because I'm angry. Obviously, the main person I'm angry at is Andy Watkins, whose cumulative accomplishments in quizbowl are now horrifically negative on many scales. In a just world, he would be expelled from his graduate program, have these accusations stick to his c.v. for life, and be forced to personally refund all monies teams spent playing screwjob-ridden tournaments. Usually in these scandals I have a twitch of remorse for the person being implicated, but not here.

I hope NAQT/quizbowl does something to honor all of the teams now receiving national championships as a result of this scandal. I'm just sickened that apparently every ICT I've ever played was ridden with cheating.
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Re: NAQT security review: three more cases

Post by Tees-Exe Line » Thu Mar 21, 2013 12:06 pm

Cheynem wrote:I'm glad that this was finally resolved and I'm certainly happy justice was achieved, but the more I think about it, the angrier I get.

I'm angry at so many teams being screwed over over a three year span, teams that we can retroactively honor, sure, but teams that won't get the accolades now that they deserved. Look at 2010 Chicago: The capper on the Seth Teitler Chicago reign of terror over various national tournaments. Look at 2011 Minnesota: a team that presumably would have cleared the field without Harvard and thus deserves some recognition as one of the great national performances. Even more damning, look at 2009-2011 Harvard! At 2011 ICT, I thought Ted was playing some of the best games of his life. Who knows how far an Andy-less Harvard would have gone in any of those years? They might very well have won an UG title themselves. We'll never know now.

This isn't even counting the hypothetical teams that got screwed out of a potential finals appearance or a top bracket appearance, teams rife with long-suffering players looking for a national tournament win and now finding out their best chance was ruined thanks to as shithead with no ethics.

I'm angry at that and I'm angry that it's taken 2-3 years for this to be resolved. I would have loved to be able to celebrate with my teammates an actual national championship while they were at Minnesota. I would have loved not kicking myself for a year over what could have been in 2011.

I'm not even necessarily angry at NAQT per se, so don't interpret this as me lashing out at them (although I still am furious at the asinine lack of question security). I had to get this off my chest because I'm angry. Obviously, the main person I'm angry at is Andy Watkins, whose cumulative accomplishments in quizbowl are now horrifically negative on many scales. In a just world, he would be expelled from his graduate program, have these accusations stick to his c.v. for life, and be forced to personally refund all monies teams spent playing screwjob-ridden tournaments. Usually in these scandals I have a twitch of remorse for the person being implicated, but not here.

I hope NAQT/quizbowl does something to honor all of the teams now receiving national championships as a result of this scandal. I'm just sickened that apparently every ICT I've ever played was ridden with cheating.
Thank you Mike. I couldn't agree more, but I think you're forgiving NAQT too easily. Their last three national tournaments were compromised (at least) , about which rumors have swirled for years all while their question security was apparently a joke that relied on the good faith of a large number of people, about several of whom there was specific reason to be suspicious. That pattern of negligence amounts to tacit consent, especially when considered alongside my own limited knowledge of some people's reluctance to take these concerns seriously. While Jeff has given an explanation for why Andy's cheating wasn't discovered on the first investigation, we haven't really heard why a more complete investigation took this long to occur.

The thing I would like to see is an unambiguous statement of no tolerance for cheating from each and every one of the people involved in editing NAQT tournaments. I don't mean to impugn Jeff's or R's honesty, but it's easy enough for the CEO and communications officer of an organization to declare a "no tolerance policy" for cheating and a commitment to investigate credible allegations, without its being true in practice for the organization as a whole. If anyone in NAQT has had a change of heart about these matters, or if these investigations are finally happening due to some change of practice or authority within the organization, I think in this case it would aid its credibility to reveal that so suspicions do not persist.
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Re: NAQT security review: three more cases

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Thu Mar 21, 2013 12:25 pm

I'm angry too, because people will now inevitably associate the late 2000's Harvard team with cheating. This is unfair to the two-dozen some people who were part of Harvard quizbowl in that era, who strung together a number of accomplishments as both players and writers and didn't deserve to have this all muddied by the independent actions of one person. Remember that everytime you are tempted to use "Harvard" as the subject of a sentence about cheating, instead of a more specific noun. We may not have won a national championship, but I'm still proud of what the Harvard team legitimately did between 2007 and 2010.

I'll join Mike and Marshall in wondering why the evidence of cheating sat in NAQT's server logs for nearly half a decade in some instances before any of it was detected.
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Re: NAQT security review: three more cases

Post by Cody » Thu Mar 21, 2013 1:32 pm

Everyone should be absolutely furious with NAQT. It was long known that Ginseng was an old piece of software with many vulnerabilities. NAQT did nothing to fix most of these until 2012, which is well after it was common knowledge (and when in 2012? the summer, well after all NAQT college tournaments were concluded?).

The real reason you should be furious, though, is that the EXACT vulnerability that Andy Watkins used was reported to NAQT shortly after the 2011 SCT. While NAQT clearly should have fixed the vulnerability long before then, there is absolutely NO excuse for not fixing it immediately (i.e. before the 2011 ICT) and even less excuse for botching the initial investigation of Andy Watkins when the vulnerability he used was handed to them on a silver platter.

In addition, one wonders what would have happened if Josh Alman had not been caught cheating. It's frustrating to think that, without that investigation, these server logs could have easily disappeared into the aether, letting Andy Watkins get away scot-free.
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Re: NAQT security review: three more cases

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Thu Mar 21, 2013 3:26 pm

This seems relevant, especially after the buzzstrong marketing fad. http://store.theonion.com/p-5397-cheats ... celet.aspx
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Re: NAQT security review: three more cases

Post by Cheynem » Thu Mar 21, 2013 4:13 pm

Watkins hasn't played anything in a while and I'm not sure if Scot Putzig is still in law school, but will Joe Brosch be allowed to play non NAQT tournaments?
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Re: NAQT security review: three more cases

Post by Kyle » Thu Mar 21, 2013 6:42 pm

Skepticism and Animal Feed wrote:I'm angry too, because people will now inevitably associate the late 2000's Harvard team with cheating. This is unfair to the two-dozen some people who were part of Harvard quizbowl in that era, who strung together a number of accomplishments as both players and writers and didn't deserve to have this all muddied by the independent actions of one person. Remember that everytime you are tempted to use "Harvard" as the subject of a sentence about cheating, instead of a more specific noun. We may not have won a national championship, but I'm still proud of what the Harvard team legitimately did between 2007 and 2010.
Me too.
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Re: NAQT security review: three more cases

Post by Matt Weiner » Thu Mar 21, 2013 7:24 pm

While individuals such as Kyle whose integrity is well-known should not be impugned by the horrible actions of Watkins, I think it is legitimate to discuss whether the culture of Harvard as an institution, where recent news events suggest that cheating is considered par for the course, may have contributed to the decision by Andy Watkins to go through with abusing the security exploits he found.
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Re: NAQT security review: three more cases

Post by magin » Thu Mar 21, 2013 7:33 pm

Matt Weiner wrote:While individuals such as Kyle whose integrity is well-known should not be impugned by the horrible actions of Watkins, I think it is legitimate to discuss whether the culture of Harvard as an institution, where recent news events suggest that cheating is considered par for the course, may have contributed to the decision by Andy Watkins to go through with abusing the security exploits he found.
Is this post a joke? If Harvard had a long history of cheating scandals, then sure, maybe you could suggest this kind of link, but there's only one data point and it's noted oddball Andy Watkins. Doesn't seem very empirical to me.
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Re: NAQT security review: three more cases

Post by Rococo A Go Go » Thu Mar 21, 2013 7:39 pm

There was a rather large cheating scandal just last year at Harvard.
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Re: NAQT security review: three more cases

Post by Matt Weiner » Thu Mar 21, 2013 7:41 pm

I'm talking about the school, not the team (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2012_Harva ... ng_scandal). When your team is drawn from a pool of people who are outraged at being investigated for cheating and consider this normal behavior, and the subsequent coverage reveals that Harvard does not even have an honor code, it's reasonable to wonder if the general culture at Harvard University (as opposed to Harvard quizbowl) may have played a part here. We can't let people's feelings get in the way of a thorough and frank discussion of how to prevent these incidents from happening again.
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Re: NAQT security review: three more cases

Post by SmallerMegalomaniacalPandaOnAbsinthe » Thu Mar 21, 2013 7:42 pm

magin wrote:
Matt Weiner wrote:While individuals such as Kyle whose integrity is well-known should not be impugned by the horrible actions of Watkins, I think it is legitimate to discuss whether the culture of Harvard as an institution, where recent news events suggest that cheating is considered par for the course, may have contributed to the decision by Andy Watkins to go through with abusing the security exploits he found.
Is this post a joke? If Harvard had a long history of cheating scandals, then sure, maybe you could suggest this kind of link, but there's only one data point and it's noted oddball Andy Watkins. Doesn't seem very empirical to me.
I believe Matt is referring to http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/2012_Har ... ng_scandal
It still seems to me that a category error is involved in concluding that Harvard has some institutional problems related to cheating -- especially in the assertion that such problems affected Andy, who admitted that he was of unstable mind, or something to that effect.
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Re: NAQT security review: three more cases

Post by Auroni » Thu Mar 21, 2013 7:45 pm

SmallerMegalomaniacalPandaOnAbsinthe wrote: It still seems to me that a category error is involved in concluding that Harvard has some institutional problems related to cheating -- especially in the assertion that such problems affected Andy, who admitted that he was of unstable mind, or something to that effect.
Or the much more likely scenario that Andy disgustingly trivialized the plight of actual people with poor mental health in order to garner sympathy.
Last edited by Auroni on Thu Mar 21, 2013 9:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: NAQT security review: three more cases

Post by Kouign Amann » Thu Mar 21, 2013 8:02 pm

Matt Weiner wrote:how to prevent these incidents from happening again.
How is bringing the culture of Harvard into this going to help the discussion of preventative measures? NAQT, ACF, etc can't do anything about Harvard as an institution, nor do I think quizbowlers in general can. So what are you proposing? I certainly don't want to see teams from certain schools subjected to extra scrutiny or anything like that. Student bodies aren't monolithic. The kind of people who play quizbowl are generally not the kind of people who take Intro to Congress, which had a specific reputation (very easy) that was well-known and often-exploited among a specific group of students (athletes).
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Re: NAQT security review: three more cases

Post by Irreligion in Bangladesh » Thu Mar 21, 2013 8:09 pm

Matt Weiner wrote:We can't let people's feelings get in the way of a thorough and frank discussion of how to prevent these incidents from happening again.
I'm with Aidan on this -- exactly what actions are you going to propose? Should NAQT just categorically not hire writers who happen to be from communities that have had problems with cheating before? Should we ban Harvard from hosting ACF Regionals if they've got a house team in the field? Seriously, where do you want this to go? You can speculate all you want about why Andy did this, but I don't think that's in question, so the speculation seems really off-base.
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Re: NAQT security review: three more cases

Post by Matt Weiner » Thu Mar 21, 2013 8:15 pm

As I've raised in other venues, the fact that NAQT keeps placing its trust in people who have been rejected by the rest of the quizbowl community for their character issues is a problem that NAQT needs to address. Why NAQT felt it necessary to elevate Andy Watkins to membership given the quizbowl-specific cloud of suspicion around him is something NAQT should answer for given what we now know, and certainly looking for risk factors that may lead us to be more careful in choosing to extend our confidence is a good idea in my opinion.
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Re: NAQT security review: three more cases

Post by grapesmoker » Thu Mar 21, 2013 8:17 pm

I strongly doubt that what happened at Harvard is in any way remarkable; it just so happens that at Harvard it happened on a large scale and a bunch of people got caught. If the same number of incidents crop up individually at a large state school, people tend to think nothing of it. I'm no fan of Ivy League entitlement, but I don't see how we can link Andy's actions to the Harvard cheating scandal in any concrete way.

edit:
Matt Weiner wrote:As I've raised in other venues, the fact that NAQT keeps placing its trust in people who have been rejected by the rest of the quizbowl community for their character issues is a problem that NAQT needs to address. Why NAQT felt it necessary to elevate Andy Watkins to membership given the quizbowl-specific cloud of suspicion around him is something NAQT should answer for given what we now know, and certainly looking for risk factors that may lead us to be more careful in choosing to extend our confidence is a good idea in my opinion.
This seems like a much more plausible thing to address.
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Re: NAQT security review: three more cases

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Thu Mar 21, 2013 8:29 pm

Matt Weiner wrote:As I've raised in other venues, the fact that NAQT keeps placing its trust in people who have been rejected by the rest of the quizbowl community for their character issues is a problem that NAQT needs to address. Why NAQT felt it necessary to elevate Andy Watkins to membership given the quizbowl-specific cloud of suspicion around him is something NAQT should answer for given what we now know, and certainly looking for risk factors that may lead us to be more careful in choosing to extend our confidence is a good idea in my opinion.
I don't really care about the whole Harvard cheating argument, beyond as a general call for people on the Harvard team and at every other school to keep a much stronger eye out for people who seem like they could be cheaters. The people who aren't Daichi on last year's Chicago team that stuck to their guns and forced Shantanu to be held responsible are heroes and should be emulated in all situations like this.

As a separate argument, I think the above quoted is very true. Why are people like Andy, Shantanu, and Trygve (don't forget that he totally abused similar online privileges on a different website) able to advance so well in the NAQT system when the rest of the quizbowl circuit won't put up with their anti-social behavior? Given what's gone down, clearly NAQT is who gets burned in the long run by these people, not everybody else (except PACE for the one year when Trygve and Andy managed to take control). Between people who have significantly sketchy track records and incompetent editors like Samer who makes science and music that are way too hard and poorly written, what will it take for NAQT to finally go through and significantly purge some of its membership and hold them accountable the way the rest of quizbowl has?
Last edited by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) on Thu Mar 21, 2013 9:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: NAQT security review: three more cases

Post by Irreligion in Bangladesh » Thu Mar 21, 2013 8:58 pm

Matt Weiner wrote:looking for risk factors that may lead us to be more careful in choosing to extend our confidence is a good idea in my opinion.
This is fine, but I don't see how "enrollment at Harvard" or "enrollment at a university without an honor code" is going to be a risk factor highly correlated with "cheating at quizbowl." When you extend your confidence to somebody, you do so on an individual basis. If NAQT or ACF decides against extending that confidence to Harvard because, either in whole or in part, of the name on the sign, they're making a rash, generalizing judgment that punishes individuals of high character for a tenuous association with Andy Watkins. That's not fair.
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Re: NAQT security review: three more cases

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Thu Mar 21, 2013 9:07 pm

Matt Weiner wrote:I'm talking about the school, not the team (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2012_Harva ... ng_scandal). When your team is drawn from a pool of people who are outraged at being investigated for cheating and consider this normal behavior, and the subsequent coverage reveals that Harvard does not even have an honor code, it's reasonable to wonder if the general culture at Harvard University (as opposed to Harvard quizbowl) may have played a part here. We can't let people's feelings get in the way of a thorough and frank discussion of how to prevent these incidents from happening again.
This argument is ridiculous on so many levels.

1. Harvard doesn't have a formal honor code (like every Ivy League school besides Princeton), but there are rules against cheating and plagiarism, which I have no doubt are enforced (as they were in this cheating scandal). I'm not sure signing an honor code would make you less likely to cheat at quizbowl anyway: Harvey Mudd (where Cam was from), the University of Michigan (where Scott Putzig was from) and UChicago (where Shantanu went) all have honor codes. So empirically casting a pallor on a school just because it doesn't have an honor code doesn't make sense.

2. There's absolutely no evidence that students at Harvard (or Yale, or Columbia, or Princeton, or any institution of similar prestige) are more prone to cheating than anywhere else, nor that there is some kind of "culture" of normalized cheating at these institutions relative to the rest of the country. It was a take-home test; I'm willing to bet that this kind of collaboration happens all the time, all over the country, on such tests. Even going on some websites like physicsforums.com shows that people will post questions from tests all the time in order to get answers; I doubt they're all from places like Harvard.

3. The reason so many students were outraged due to the investigation wasn't because they were all sociopaths who thought they were entitled to gigs at Goldman Sachs' Screwing Over Ethnic Minorities Division when they graduated. They considered collaboration on exams with each other and teaching assistants to be normal behavior precisely because that's how every other exam in that class worked. The exam was stated to be open book, open note, and open internet, and while it banned discussion with "others", the Teaching Assistants in the class freely discussed the exam with students in section! While obviously the people who just straight up copied and pasted their answers deserved to be punished, it's very clear the professor was just as much to blame for this and a lot of people got screwed for no reason.

4. Finally, even if I grant you the obviously untrue fact that people at Harvard are more likely to cheat, what real impact does this have? Does this mean that Harvard's current and future teams should be banned from writing for NAQT, or from competing at certain tournaments, or be subject to extra scrutiny during any future security sweep? That seems unnecessarily prejudicial to me. By all means, if someone is a known cheater or person of low moral character, subject them to extra scrutiny. But don't drag the reputation of the rest of the Harvard team, who have demonstrated they're nothing less that upstanding quizbowl citizens, through the mud.
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Re: NAQT security review: three more cases

Post by cchiego » Thu Mar 21, 2013 9:08 pm

I don't really care about the whole Harvard cheating argument, beyond as a general call for people on the Harvard team and at every other school to keep a much stronger out for people who seem like they could be cheaters. The people who aren't Daichi on last year's Chicago team that stuck to their guns and forced Shantanu to be held responsible are heroes and should be emulated in all situations like this.
This needs to be emphasized. One of the most basic lines of defense (besides question security) that quizbowl has against cheaters is the people who might know the cheaters the best--their teammates. I'm not advocating a witch hunt here, but if your teammate who can barely get a few TUs in practice starts first-lining tossups at national tournaments, you should take notice and start asking questions. This can suck for your organization at the time, but it's better to nip it in the bud than let a serial cheater stay in your organization.

It's tough for the community as a whole to see what's going on behind closed doors in practice, but it should be easier for teammates with a decided information advantage over the community. The Alman case seems like a pretty clear-cut example of this based on his other results. The Watkins case is tougher because he was a pretty good player, though I'm curious if anyone at Harvard suspected anything while he was there.
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Re: NAQT security review: three more cases

Post by ryanrosenberg » Thu Mar 21, 2013 11:15 pm

Is Joe Brosch still employed by NHBB?
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Re: NAQT security review: three more cases

Post by Cody » Fri Mar 22, 2013 2:27 am

In light of a conversation with Jeff, I wish to correct my above account: a closely related security hole to the question-by-writer exploit (involving files uploaded by writers) was disclosed to NAQT in the spring of 2011 and fixed soon-ish thereafter. I won't speculate further on what NAQT did or didn't know, or what was fixed when, but between this information and R's reply in the other thread, I am somewhat mollified.
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Re: NAQT security review: three more cases

Post by evilmonkey » Fri Mar 22, 2013 3:44 am

Cheynem wrote:Watkins hasn't played anything in a while and I'm not sure if Scot Putzig is still in law school, but will Joe Brosch be allowed to play non NAQT tournaments?
I believe Scot graduates from law school this year, which is kind of ironic since Notre Dame Law has a strong reputation in the area of ethics. After learning of Scot's actions, I informed the current Notre Dame club president this afternoon - he mentioned that Scot hadn't really come out to quizbowl in a while, but he was still displeased, and should Scot attempt to return to the team, I assume he will not be welcomed.
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Re: NAQT security review: three more cases

Post by conker » Fri Mar 22, 2013 4:21 am

cchiego wrote: This needs to be emphasized. One of the most basic lines of defense (besides question security) that quizbowl has against cheaters is the people who might know the cheaters the best--their teammates. I'm not advocating a witch hunt here, but if your teammate who can barely get a few TUs in practice starts first-lining tossups at national tournaments, you should take notice and start asking questions. This can suck for your organization at the time, but it's better to nip it in the bud than let a serial cheater stay in your organization.

It's tough for the community as a whole to see what's going on behind closed doors in practice, but it should be easier for teammates with a decided information advantage over the community. The Alman case seems like a pretty clear-cut example of this based on his other results. The Watkins case is tougher because he was a pretty good player, though I'm curious if anyone at Harvard suspected anything while he was there.
I can't speak for the others, but I never suspected anything as Andy's teammate. You have to remember that he improved dramatically as a player throughout college, and he was a streaky player, so it didn't strike me as strange that he could have a breakout 2010 ICT performance. Even then he wasn't noticeably better than Dallas on that team (who obviously is a better player overall, but also didn't specialize in science, where there are fewer competitors). In hindsight, the power-to-neg ratio should have given it away, since he always negged a lot, but I was too focused on the matches to know how often he was negging.

I'm more bemused than anything else about our title being vacated. Maybe it's because I was just a tagalong fourth player on that team anyway. But I feel bad for the players on Penn and Chicago who could well have won ICT that year -- but now we'll never know.
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Re: NAQT security review: three more cases

Post by jonpin » Fri Mar 22, 2013 8:21 am

Cheynem wrote:Watkins hasn't played anything in a while and I'm not sure if Scot Putzig is still in law school, but will Joe Brosch be allowed to play non NAQT tournaments?
Modest proposal: If you go to a quiz bowl tournament an walk into a game room to find Joe Brosch at the other set of buzzers, refuse to play him.
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Re: NAQT security review: three more cases

Post by gyre and gimble » Fri Mar 22, 2013 10:17 am

I'd like to state before I start that I'm feeling a bit angry about Matt's post(s) and so I might be saying stuff here that I might regret later. But I'll deal with that then.
The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote:
Matt Weiner wrote:I'm talking about the school, not the team (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2012_Harva ... ng_scandal). When your team is drawn from a pool of people who are outraged at being investigated for cheating and consider this normal behavior, and the subsequent coverage reveals that Harvard does not even have an honor code, it's reasonable to wonder if the general culture at Harvard University (as opposed to Harvard quizbowl) may have played a part here. We can't let people's feelings get in the way of a thorough and frank discussion of how to prevent these incidents from happening again.
This argument is ridiculous on so many levels.

3. The reason so many students were outraged due to the investigation wasn't because they were all sociopaths who thought they were entitled to gigs at Goldman Sachs' Screwing Over Ethnic Minorities Division when they graduated. They considered collaboration on exams with each other and teaching assistants to be normal behavior precisely because that's how every other exam in that class worked. The exam was stated to be open book, open note, and open internet, and while it banned discussion with "others", the Teaching Assistants in the class freely discussed the exam with students in section! While obviously the people who just straight up copied and pasted their answers deserved to be punished, it's very clear the professor was just as much to blame for this and a lot of people got screwed for no reason.
As someone who is actually aware of what went on with the cheating scandal, I'd say that this is all accurate as far as my understanding goes. But I think the most important reason people were angry is that they investigated a ridiculous proportion of the class because all of their exams referenced, for example, the same fact or argument because every single teaching assistant had gone over that argument in section. When someone is "found cheating," they go through a trial-of-sorts with the Administrative Board. The problem with this is that the Ad-Board process takes place behind closed doors, no one is allowed to talk about it, and oftentimes you don't even get to learn the full reasons behind their verdict and you don't really get a chance to fight back. One of my good friends was investigated in the scandal, and I know given his record in other classes as well as just having conversations with him that he is intelligent enough and more than honest enough not to have collaborated with other kids in that class. But if the investigation had found him guilty (and the results came out in mid-November, I think) he would have had to immediately drop all of his classes, wasting all the effort he'd gone through, and take a year off.

So there's two points I'm trying to make here: 1) the investigation forced an illogical and controversial justice system on an unnecessary number of people based on very little evidence of actual cheating, and 2) Matt, you should figure out what the fuck was actually going on before you make stupid generalizations about an entire student body that is generally filled with people who are as honest and hardworking as yourself.

I think I should address some stuff about Andy as well:
cchiego wrote:It's tough for the community as a whole to see what's going on behind closed doors in practice, but it should be easier for teammates with a decided information advantage over the community. The Alman case seems like a pretty clear-cut example of this based on his other results. The Watkins case is tougher because he was a pretty good player, though I'm curious if anyone at Harvard suspected anything while he was there.
So, I was Andy's teammate for only a year, but it's more accurate to say I was his teammate for three weeks because he came to practice maybe twice and played zero regular-season tournaments. I think he was really busy working on his thesis, but anyway, for me it was really easy to just assume that Andy was a really good player and I was accordingly disappointed with his ACF performance. It was a pretty big logical jump from that to thinking he was cheating, though.
Matt Weiner wrote:While individuals such as Kyle whose integrity is well-known should not be impugned by the horrible actions of Watkins, I think it is legitimate to discuss whether the culture of Harvard as an institution, where recent news events suggest that cheating is considered par for the course, may have contributed to the decision by Andy Watkins to go through with abusing the security exploits he found.
All in all, no, it's not legitimate to have a quizbowl-wide discussion about Harvard's integrity, especially since Andy was hardly associated with the rest of the Harvard population at all his senior year, let alone our team. I'm obviously biased with this, but with your past accusations against our team (Andy-less at that) for elitism and for engaging with some retarded-Harvard-way-of-thinking, I can't help but assume you've got this really fucking stupid attitude toward Harvard as an institution and because you feel all vindicated about your (now-justified) dislike of Andy, you want to milk this as much as you can.

I agree that this next sentence is largely whining, but: The worst part about this whole thing for me is not that a championship I contributed 13 ppg to was vacated; it's similar to what Bruce said, that this associates me and my teammates, who care way too much about the integrity of the game and the legitimacy of a victory, with an attitude that's the opposite of that. And completely pointless calls for discussion about how the community that we live in might somehow influence us to cheat don't help at all. Instead, it only makes this worse because whether you intended it or not, you're directly contributing to this undeserved stigma that I'm afraid our current team will have to deal with at least for a few months.

And finally, because I can't be sure you won't bring up this stupid thing again--no, we don't have an agenda against you, HSAPQ, or anybody else.
Last edited by gyre and gimble on Fri Mar 22, 2013 10:48 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: NAQT security review: three more cases

Post by Haaaaaaaarry Whiiiiiiiiiite » Fri Mar 22, 2013 10:44 am

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Re: NAQT security review: three more cases

Post by Matt Weiner » Fri Mar 22, 2013 10:49 am

Look, this can be discussed in another thread if we're really getting into the nuts and bolts of the exam scandal, which is obviously far afield from NAQT security holes at this point, but I think it's remarkably tone-deaf for you to:
1) choose RIGHT NOW to mount a passionate defense of Harvard quizbowl and lament how "undeserved" (!!!!!!!!) the stigma is
2) say that you are so offended at my painting of Harvard's culture as cheating-tolerant in the very same post that you lay out a total vindication of everyone involved in the cheating scandal on the basis of, among other terrible arguments, "nobody who is a friend of me, Stephen Liu, could possibly be guilty of anything"
3) bring up the ridiculously passive-aggressive "look at all the things I'm NOT SAYING about Matt Weiner/HSAPQ" bullshit yet again, when one of its chief architects was Andy Watkins himself and you are trying to dissociate yourself from him!

Like, seriously, you have way bigger problems than my opinion right now. Inside Higher Ed? Gawker? College papers across the country over the next week? Widely followed Twitter and Facebook accounts from people you've never even heard of who don't give a shit and a half about the disagreement between you and me over the difficulty of last year's Harvard high school tournament? That's who's already talking about Andy Watkins, that's who's talking about Harvard. I know the distinction. Maybe you should go correct them instead of me. This is my last post on the topic in this thread, and unless you want to make yourself look even more out of touch about what the real crime was here, the one above ought to be yours.
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Re: NAQT security review: three more cases

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Fri Mar 22, 2013 10:54 am

Matt Weiner wrote:but I think it's remarkably tone-deaf for you to:
1) choose RIGHT NOW to mount a passionate defense of Harvard quizbowl and lament how "undeserved" (!!!!!!!!) the stigma is
What the hell is tone deaf about this? Andy's teammates are just as much victims of his behavior as anyone else, and don't deserve any kind of stigma. Except possibly for writing a few high school sets that were too hard, but Andy is certainly not guilt-free there either.
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Re: NAQT security review: three more cases

Post by gyre and gimble » Fri Mar 22, 2013 11:15 am

Matt Weiner wrote:Look, this can be discussed in another thread if we're really getting into the nuts and bolts of the exam scandal, which is obviously far afield from NAQT security holes at this point, but I think it's remarkably tone-deaf for you to:
1) choose RIGHT NOW to mount a passionate defense of Harvard quizbowl and lament how "undeserved" (!!!!!!!!) the stigma is
2) say that you are so offended at my painting of Harvard's culture as cheating-tolerant in the very same post that you lay out a total vindication of everyone involved in the cheating scandal on the basis of, among other terrible arguments, "nobody who is a friend of me, Stephen Liu, could possibly be guilty of anything"
3) bring up the ridiculously passive-aggressive "look at all the things I'm NOT SAYING about Matt Weiner/HSAPQ" bullshit yet again, when one of its chief architects was Andy Watkins himself and you are trying to dissociate yourself from him!

Like, seriously, you have way bigger problems than my opinion right now. Inside Higher Ed? Gawker? College papers across the country over the next week? Twitter and Facebook accounts from people you've never even heard of who don't give a shit and a half about the disagreement between you and me over the difficulty of last year's Harvard high school tournament? That's who's already talking about Andy Watkins, that's who's talking about Harvard. I know the distinction. Maybe you should go correct them. This is my last post on the topic in this thread and unless you want to make yourself look even more out of touch about what the real crime was here, it ought to be yours.
1) So you think that me, Graham, David, and our freshmen "deserve" to be associated with cheating? (!!!!!!!!) Am I being tone-deaf here?
2) Your painting of Harvard culture as cheating-tolerant was wrong, dude, or at least exaggerated, as multiple people in this thread have explained. Also, Andy was not my friend. He was my teammate at two tournaments and that was all. My current teammates, on the other hand, are my friends and I know them well enough to know they would never cheat. On the topic of "laying out a total vindication," why should that not be taken for granted? The way I see it, everyone on the Harvard team not named Andy Watkins is a victim. If Marshall Steinbaum had come out and said, "Shantanu was a liar but I can say confidently that my good friends and teammates Sam, Doug, etc. are honest and conscientious members of the quizbowl community," would you tell him he's out-of-touch with reality? I wouldn't. The point is, I'm not making a terrible argument because I'm not making an argument at all. I don't see a reason why I have to defend the integrity of my teammates; I was merely mentioning it in passing to make sure people distinguish between us and Andy.
3) Okay, and how did I agree with Andy in any way? The point of that sentence was, "Andy's been gone a while now, so get it through your head that no one left at Harvard hates you, because you have a paranoid tendency to think those people still exist."

I don't know, maybe this is weird but I care a lot more about the responses of other quizbowlers and the kind of attitude they'll have toward Harvard's team in the future, than I do about what fucking Gawker has to say about a school from the Ivy League, which random internet kids or 50-year-old liberals already associate with our flawed financial system and everything else wrong with America. And it's not your opinion that's involved; posts like yours inevitably have the effect of casting further doubt on my team and at that point everyone's opinions are involved.

Sure, I'll stop posting about this, but I'll also ask you to be a little more careful about the implications of accusations that you make. I would, however, like to have a conversation with you at ICT or ACF Nationals, 1) because I haven't had the pleasure to do so yet, 2) because clearly some differences exist between us that are of little concern to other people on this board, and 3) I think it's easy for both of us to get unreasonably antagonistic on an online forum, so speaking face-to-face would be an improvement. We can talk about this, HFT, HSAPQ, sports, music, or whatever.
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Re: NAQT security review: three more cases

Post by Tees-Exe Line » Fri Mar 22, 2013 11:46 am

gyre and gimble wrote:I don't know, maybe this is weird but I care a lot more about the responses of other quizbowlers and the kind of attitude they'll have toward Harvard's team in the future, than I do about what fucking Gawker has to say about a school from the Ivy League, which random internet kids or 50-year-old liberals already associate with our flawed financial system and everything else wrong with America. And it's not your opinion that's involved; posts like yours inevitably have the effect of casting further doubt on my team and at that point everyone's opinions are involved.
If it means anything, let me express some sympathy, since last year I was in your position. The worst thing about this is that your erstwhile teammate robbed your own achievements and contributions to the community from you and tainted them in everyone's eyes, all in order to fraud the world into respecting him. It's profoundly selfish and shitty. I, at least, will harbor no ill-feeling toward you and Harvard's team in the future (unless of course you earn it, and I have no reason to think you will), and I hope other quizbowlers, especially prominent ones, feel and act similarly.

That this scandal has garnered press attention is almost entirely due to the fact that it's Harvard, and that's the (small) price you pay for attending the most prominent and wealthiest university in the world. Many people have preconceptions about it, and ill-informed though they may be, having to confront a world in which people jump to conclusions about your ethics due to your degree is really small potatoes compared to the privileges you receive by going there.
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Re: NAQT security review: three more cases

Post by AKKOLADE » Fri Mar 22, 2013 1:10 pm

How often did Andy access the pages leading up to the ICT?
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Re: NAQT security review: three more cases

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Fri Mar 22, 2013 1:25 pm

Yeah, just for clarity's sake now that there are people reporting on NAQT's writeup of the incident, Andy Watkins did access pages where he would have without a doubt seen text from the questions, right? i understand why the writeup is vague because of a mix of covering your ass/not wanting to be big douches about the situation/quizbowl people generally understanding enough of the mechanics of what happened that you don't need to explain further, but now that this is a bona fide news story I think your statement should be mildly updated to make it clear that you DO have evidence he DID see information in each tournament, instead of saying you "don't have statistical evidence blah blah blah" about him.
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Re: NAQT security review: three more cases

Post by Important Bird Area » Fri Mar 22, 2013 1:52 pm

Fred wrote:How often did Andy access the pages leading up to the ICT?
NAQT does not plan to release precise numbers, but there was a pattern of repeated access that we believe to be far beyond any possibility of coincidence or mistake.
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Re: NAQT security review: three more cases

Post by Important Bird Area » Fri Mar 22, 2013 1:54 pm

Horned Screamer wrote:Yeah, just for clarity's sake now that there are people reporting on NAQT's writeup of the incident, Andy Watkins did access pages where he would have without a doubt seen text from the questions, right?
naqt.com wrote:According to NAQT's server logs, Andy accessed "questions-by-writer" and/or "category" pages for the 2009, 2010, and 2011 Division I ICTs in the periods immediately prior to those tournaments. These pages provided access to the first 40 characters of questions to be read at the ICTs.
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Re: NAQT security review: three more cases

Post by Important Bird Area » Fri Mar 22, 2013 2:00 pm

Andy Watkins has resigned his membership in NAQT effective immediately.
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Re: NAQT security review: three more cases

Post by Marble-faced Bristle Tyrant » Fri Mar 22, 2013 2:03 pm

Communi-Bear Silo State wrote:Looks like this has been picked up by Gawker.
So I guess this was originally picked up by Inside Higher Ed because someone(s) in the community contacted them?
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Re: NAQT security review: three more cases

Post by Ringil » Fri Mar 22, 2013 2:14 pm

bt_green_warbler wrote:
Fred wrote:How often did Andy access the pages leading up to the ICT?
NAQT does not plan to release precise numbers, but there was a pattern of repeated access that we believe to be far beyond any possibility of coincidence or mistake.
Is there any reason why precise numbers can't be revealed?
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Re: NAQT security review: three more cases

Post by Rococo A Go Go » Fri Mar 22, 2013 2:22 pm

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Re: NAQT security review: three more cases

Post by naturalistic phallacy » Fri Mar 22, 2013 2:24 pm

Futher complicated by the fact that nobody bothered to discover, and subsequently explain, what college quizbowl actually is.
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Re: NAQT security review: three more cases

Post by Marble-faced Bristle Tyrant » Fri Mar 22, 2013 2:30 pm

A little too eager to trash Harvard and tie it in with the NCAA tournament.
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Re: NAQT security review: three more cases

Post by Important Bird Area » Fri Mar 22, 2013 3:48 pm

Ringil wrote:
bt_green_warbler wrote:
Fred wrote:How often did Andy access the pages leading up to the ICT?
NAQT does not plan to release precise numbers, but there was a pattern of repeated access that we believe to be far beyond any possibility of coincidence or mistake.
Is there any reason why precise numbers can't be revealed?
We don't believe this information would be particularly helpful to the community. If you have specific reason to disagree, please contact me by email and I'll talk to R.
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Re: NAQT security review: three more cases

Post by Notably Not Pierre » Fri Mar 22, 2013 7:38 pm

Horned Screamer wrote:The people who aren't Daichi on last year's Chicago team that stuck to their guns and forced Shantanu to be held responsible are heroes and should be emulated in all situations like this.
While I agree that I'm the hero in all of this, I'd just like to set the record straight on one thing. Daichi was as much a victim in all of this as anyone else; there's no reason to think that he was complicit in Shantanu's scheme. Daichi confronted Shantanu about the 2 or 3 questions that came up during the tournament where Shantanu had mentioned clues in casual conversation. When Daichi learned that other clues which Shantanu had mentioned came up in the unused packets, he was helpful and cooperative with the UChicago club officers and NAQT.
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Re: NAQT security review: three more cases

Post by Rothlover » Mon Mar 25, 2013 12:13 pm

Does NAQT have data that can allow this statement to be evaluated:

“I had no intention to—and functionally speaking did not—benefit from the content of the questions in any way,” Watkins said. “A website containing question content was loaded. At no point did I read the questions therein.”

It would seem that with the mounds of data NAQT collects on answers etc, it could compare the pages accessed with the questions answered if the latter data still exists, and remove any reasonable doubt that the statement above is false. If you know someone accessed a page with 20 answers/40 character lead-ins on it and that they then went, say 5/4/0 on those 20 questions that that would basically say "He, of course, cheated."

I understand the motivation of both NAQT and Watkins in their statements, but when (if) data potentially exists that can speak more definitively than any statement, why not let someone avail themselves of that?
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Re: NAQT security review: three more cases

Post by marnold » Mon Mar 25, 2013 12:22 pm

Why bother even entertaining what is obviously a totally ludicrous excuse? The quote you describe is followed by "He declined to elaborate on his motivations for accessing the page, and would not say why he opened it repeatedly before important games" which more than speaks for itself. NAQT doesn't need to say anything more, especially since something that suggests he only cheated on, say, 20% of the questions is evidence that is incredibly damning to someone who knows the margins between good quizbowl teams but might look basically exculpatory to a layperson.
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Re: NAQT security review: three more cases

Post by Rothlover » Mon Mar 25, 2013 1:20 pm

I admit that I hadn't thought of that. I also can't fathom these article commentators though that are like "you CAN do it, so why are you surprised when people DO do it?" My bias I guess is against any rationalizations people give for this, which is probably something that no amount of proof could truly eliminate.
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Re: NAQT security review: three more cases

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Mon Mar 25, 2013 1:47 pm

My hypothesis is that somebody in the quizbowl community, acting solely for themselves and not for an organization like NAQT, could do a statistical analysis of Andy's numbers and show quite convincingly that its highly probable that his good performance at those three tournaments was not a coincidence.
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Re: NAQT security review: three more cases

Post by Fond du lac operon » Mon Mar 25, 2013 2:48 pm

Skepticism and Animal Feed wrote:My hypothesis is that somebody in the quizbowl community, acting solely for themselves and not for an organization like NAQT, could do a statistical analysis of Andy's numbers and show quite convincingly that its highly probable that his good performance at those three tournaments was not a coincidence.
Is this really necessary, though? Speaking from a Bayesian perspective, everyone in quizbowl pretty much already has a prior probability of 90%+ that Andy cheated, so "proving" it statistically won't actually prove anything to anyone. If NAQT or someone wanted to sue Andy, that might be another issue, but I'm not sure that's a great idea (IANAL though).

Anyway, without finer-grained data (i.e. question-by-question) it's hard to do any particularly damning tests. Ideally, we'd look at two sets of questions, one which he definitely looked at, and one which he didn't as far as we know. Preferably they'd have the same subject breakdown. Then we could do a test of independence (like chi-square) and show that it's vanishingly unlikely that he had a vastly better performance on questions he saw by chance. But without that data, the best I can think of is to regress ICT performances against ACF Nationals performances and show that Andy was a major outlier -- which (a), even adjusting for shadow effects and different schedules, he might not be; and (b), is so far away from what we want to prove that I don't know how much stock I'd put in the alternative hypothesis that he did "non-randomly" better at ICT.
Harrison Brown
Centennial '08, Alabama '13

"No idea what [he's] talking about."

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