Are online tournaments "pernicious beasts"?

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Are online tournaments "pernicious beasts"?

Post by No Rules Westbrook » Wed Nov 27, 2013 8:36 pm

Split from the Cane Ridge Revival thread --Mgmt.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. This "online quizbowl tournament" trend is a pernicious beast that needs to be nipped in the bud. Nipped in the bud.
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Re: Cane Ridge Revival (03/01 and 03/08/2014)

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Wed Nov 27, 2013 8:58 pm

Yes, people in remote locations playing quizbowl needs to be nipped in the bud.

I'm talking to the other Dartmouth folks about hosting an online mirror. I feel it'd be appropriate, since Nick and I are writing a good portion of the tournament.
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Re: Cane Ridge Revival (03/01 and 03/08/2014)

Post by ryanrosenberg » Wed Nov 27, 2013 9:20 pm

UNC would be interested in an online mirror if no site closer than Penn materializes. For tournaments such where the Mid-Atlantic site is Penn and the South site is not Atlanta-area, online tournaments are a much more appealing option than "drive 15 hours round-trip to play a quizbowl tournament".
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Re: Cane Ridge Revival (03/01 and 03/08/2014)

Post by No Rules Westbrook » Wed Nov 27, 2013 9:40 pm

To clarify - I have some sympathy for the Bentley "remote locations" rationale, but UNC and Dartmouth are hardly remote.

I can see myself sitting in a rocking chair at age 40, coming on this forum to remind people of the olden days where we used to actually go to tournaments. We drove uphill both ways, spent several hours and hundreds of dollars every other weekend just to subject ourselves to a physically draining experience with no tangible reward whatsoever! And we liked it! I very much dislike the trend of college teams not ponying up and riding the rough road to tournaments.
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Re: Cane Ridge Revival (03/01 and 03/08/2014)

Post by Cheynem » Wed Nov 27, 2013 9:43 pm

Since I started this kerfluffle, I'll just say that as someone who is not a "team" anymore, I've gotten some enjoyment out of playing quizbowl online this year. I don't think it's great for teams that have other options and I don't think it's a right or anything, but it's just a fun thing to consider.
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Re: Cane Ridge Revival (03/01 and 03/08/2014)

Post by Auroni » Wed Nov 27, 2013 9:49 pm

Cheynem wrote:Since I started this kerfluffle, I'll just say that as someone who is not a "team" anymore, I've gotten some enjoyment out of playing quizbowl online this year. I don't think it's great for teams that have other options and I don't think it's a right or anything, but it's just a fun thing to consider.
I'm in the same boat here (though there's some events I wouldn't think to play online if that were an option).
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Re: Cane Ridge Revival (03/01 and 03/08/2014)

Post by fett0001 » Wed Nov 27, 2013 11:21 pm

The Predictable Consequences wrote:UNC would be interested in an online mirror if no site closer than Penn materializes. For tournaments such where the Mid-Atlantic site is Penn and the South site is not Atlanta-area, online tournaments are a much more appealing option than "drive 15 hours round-trip to play a quizbowl tournament".
My issue with online mirrors is that it saps teams that would otherwise attend a live mirror. Maybe they just wouldn't play, but I'm skeptical of that.
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Re: Cane Ridge Revival (03/01 and 03/08/2014)

Post by ryanrosenberg » Wed Nov 27, 2013 11:52 pm

fett0001 wrote:
The Predictable Consequences wrote:UNC would be interested in an online mirror if no site closer than Penn materializes. For tournaments such where the Mid-Atlantic site is Penn and the South site is not Atlanta-area, online tournaments are a much more appealing option than "drive 15 hours round-trip to play a quizbowl tournament".
My issue with online mirrors is that it saps teams that would otherwise attend a live mirror. Maybe they just wouldn't play, but I'm skeptical of that.
UNC is not currently planning on attending the Penn mirror due to it being rather far (6 and a half hours sans traffic) and the same day as a high school tournament we plan to host. If the South mirror is on the 8th it's possible we'll be able to attend, but I can't credibly say until I know what our budget looks like for next semester.

That does raise a good question, though: how far is too far to travel for a non-nationals/SCT tournament? I imagine the calculation is different for each school based on budget, access to cars/public transportation, willing drivers, etc., but not being too experienced in the ways of quizbowl travel, I wonder how other clubs make calculations on what tournaments to attend.
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Re: Are online tournaments "pernicious beasts"?

Post by Rococo A Go Go » Thu Nov 28, 2013 12:01 am

There needs to be some kind of a limit on who attends these online tournaments. It's one thing for Boise State and Washington to play online since nobody plays quizbowl within 12 hours of those schools, but it's quite another when people use online events to avoid driving 6 hours like everybody else. Dartmouth and UNC, since you guys posted in this thread, are not tucked away in remote locations where it's logistically impossible to attend pretty much any set this year. Most of our trips have been about 4 or 5 hours over the years, but we'll go the extra hour when we feel like it. It's seriously not a huge impediment to tournament attendance for teams who don't mind spending the extra $15 in gas.

To use an even more extreme example: there were some eyebrows raised in the Southeast when Vanderbilt (who ended up dropping anyway) decided to attend the online DRAGOON mirror instead of one about 3 hours away. That's the kind of thing that worries me about the possibility of online tournaments getting out of control.

This is also a different conversation for solo, semi-retired quizbowl players just wanting to play somewhere, although of course it's important to avoid the precedent of people playing every set despite not being in college.
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Re: Are online tournaments "pernicious beasts"?

Post by ryanrosenberg » Thu Nov 28, 2013 12:15 am

I suppose the thing I should mention about UNC's club is that only one of our members has a car (and he's a dual-enrolled high schooler, so he doesn't go to every tournament we do), so it's not really "$15 worth of gas" but "$75 per Zipcar". And that's assuming it would only be an hour more away; the gap between attending a Virginia site and a Penn/Maryland site is 2-3 hours plus hotel costs.
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Re: Are online tournaments "pernicious beasts"?

Post by Chimalpahin Quauhtlehuanitzin » Thu Nov 28, 2013 12:50 am

To use an even more extreme example: there were some eyebrows raised in the Southeast when Vanderbilt (who ended up dropping anyway) decided to attend the online DRAGOON mirror instead of one about 3 hours away. That's the kind of thing that worries me about the possibility of online tournaments getting out of control.
Since I'm the main forum-user among our members:
Alright, understood. There really isn't an excuse/defence per se for this, but I'm pretty sure a just course of action would be to favor/restrict the field to teams more than 6 or 7 hours away from any non-virtual site like Nick said.

Similarly to UNC's club, we only have one (spotty) driver with a truck and are practically bound by Megabus routes when available, which amounts to more than 15$ (usually around 100$ total-which is significant since our club doesn't have much money so people just pay out of pocket, which is fairly manageable so long as we don't book a hotel). Generally, there have times when logistics are bad (i.e. people sign us up for stuff we didn't definitively intend to go to, or don't tell everyone who was supposed to play, or nobody arranges a ride for me, the commuter), which is our real problem and entirely our fault.

On that note, I'm 95% sure this situation won't happen again on our part since we've mostly gotten our finances/communications/logistics together since then. I'm not sure about other teams using online tournaments as a possible excuse not to drive out to places to play tournaments, and I won't speak for them.
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Re: Are online tournaments "pernicious beasts"?

Post by Mike Bentley » Thu Nov 28, 2013 1:04 am

My position is as follows, in no particular order:

1. Online tournaments are less enjoyable than in-person tournaments, but more enjoyable than things like not playing the tournament, playing the tournament in practice, or playing over IRC.

2. Teams that can easily attend in-person tournaments should do that. I don't want a world where online tournaments are sapping the field from real events.

3. I'd be inclined to let teams use their best judgment for deciding when attending an online mirror makes more sense than an in-person tournament. Teams who aren't especially far away from a real mirror should at least provide a good explanation as to why they can't attend. Perhaps the writers of the set could be the ones who judge whether it's acceptable or not.

4. These tournaments are a good way for retired and semi-retired people in quizbowl to continue to get to play quizbowl without crowding out space or perennially beating local competition. I think these tournaments would make a particularly good venue for something like Ryan's guerrilla tournament last weekend.

5. I can see the argument for not having them when you want to have a Minnesota Open-style tournament that attracts a national field.

6. Online tournaments shouldn't be used in place of real tournaments, as they're much more susceptible to cheating, delays, technical glitches, etc.

7. Teams besides UW should host these tournaments every once in a while.

8. These tournaments can be a way to fit in tournaments in otherwise dead parts of the quizbowl schedule, such as December.
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Re: Are online tournaments "pernicious beasts"?

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Thu Nov 28, 2013 1:29 am

Sulawesi Myzomela wrote:Dartmouth and UNC, since you guys posted in this thread, are not tucked away in remote locations where it's logistically impossible to attend pretty much any set this year.
I wasn't implying that we have serious trouble attending tournaments. We in fact attend every tournament we can in person, since for most of the New England tournaments it's not much more than a three-hour drive for us and the College runs a convenient rental service. I'm thinking about hosting an online mirror because we are writing part of the Cane Ridge Revival, and I think it'd be good for us to hold a mirror of it somehow; this seems like a good way to do so. I agree with Mike that UW should not be the only school hosting online tournaments and I'd like to be a part of fixing that, if I can get enough support from my teammates for doing so.
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Re: Are online tournaments "pernicious beasts"?

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Thu Nov 28, 2013 1:31 am

As a Minnesotan, my knee-jerk response is to feel no sympathy for people complaining about six-hour drives, but I guess we never had problems getting vehicles from fleet services for reasonable prices--is this not an option for you guys? Not trying to be a jerk here or anything; I'm legitimately curious.
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Re: Are online tournaments "pernicious beasts"?

Post by ryanrosenberg » Thu Nov 28, 2013 4:18 am

Ukonvasara wrote:As a Minnesotan, my knee-jerk response is to feel no sympathy for people complaining about six-hour drives, but I guess we never had problems getting vehicles from fleet services for reasonable prices--is this not an option for you guys? Not trying to be a jerk here or anything; I'm legitimately curious.
UNC doesn't have a car rental service, and Zipcar gets fairly expensive over longer distances (it's about $400/car for a five-hour trip). No other company that I know of lets drivers under 21 rent cars.

I agree with much of what Mike said about online mirrors. I would also support a policy whereby the writers of a tournament with an online mirror had to give permission for teams to play the online mirror.
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Re: Are online tournaments "pernicious beasts"?

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Thu Nov 28, 2013 4:37 am

The Predictable Consequences wrote:UNC doesn't have a car rental service, and Zipcar gets fairly expensive over longer distances (it's about $400/car for a five-hour trip). No other company that I know of lets drivers under 21 rent cars.
Huh, yeah, it looks like your motor pool allows student organizations to use vehicles but requires that all drivers be on the UNC payroll. That is pretty inconvenient. Might be worth looking for an "advisor" who's willing to occasionally travel with you, though!
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Re: Are online tournaments "pernicious beasts"?

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Thu Nov 28, 2013 11:18 am

Online tournaments sound like a wonderful idea. The only thing I wonder about is why this didn't take off earlier. The technology has certainly been widely available for at least half a decade: I remember we tried to get Charles Meigs to attend Cardinal Classic from Syria via Skype in 2009, and myself, Eric Mukherjee, and Jerry attended a University of Maryland practice remotely over Google Hangout in 2011.

The only possible threat I could see from online tournaments is if they were all free mirrors and thus destroy the quizbowl economy. But surely it would be easy for those who run online tournaments to demand that all participants fork over some money via PayPal, or send the packet authors some bitcoins, or whatever.

I think online tournaments can help us create a quizbowl utopia where everyone can play every tournament, clubs don't have to spend 75% of their budget on rental cars, hotels, or airfare, and nobody ever has to deal with the fact that somebody on their team hasn't bathed in a few days.
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Re: Are online tournaments "pernicious beasts"?

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Thu Nov 28, 2013 11:26 am

Mike Bentley wrote: 1. Online tournaments are less enjoyable than in-person tournaments, but more enjoyable than things like not playing the tournament, playing the tournament in practice, or playing over IRC.
Tentatively agreed; there are tangible things to playing in person that aren't quite replicated online, but there are also things about the internet that can't be replicated in person (mostly the possibility for way more people to be present)
2. Teams that can easily attend in-person tournaments should do that. I don't want a world where online tournaments are sapping the field from real events.
Pish-posh. We're having this conversation over the internet, is it any less "real"?
3. I'd be inclined to let teams use their best judgment for deciding when attending an online mirror makes more sense than an in-person tournament. Teams who aren't especially far away from a real mirror should at least provide a good explanation as to why they can't attend. Perhaps the writers of the set could be the ones who judge whether it's acceptable or not.
Assuming online quizbowl is monetized, the writers of the set should want as many people as possible playing the tournament. Even for non-monetary reasons, we want as many people as possible playing questions.
4. These tournaments are a good way for retired and semi-retired people in quizbowl to continue to get to play quizbowl without crowding out space or perennially beating local competition. I think these tournaments would make a particularly good venue for something like Ryan's guerrilla tournament last weekend.
Don't high school and middle school students spend all of their time these days in an IRC channel where robots read tossups to them? If anything, they would be far more enthusiastic about online tournaments than the Westbrook crowd. But yes, you bring up the excellent point that online tournaments destroy the "we have limited space" factor that leads to field caps, making quizbowl more accessible for all.
5. I can see the argument for not having them when you want to have a Minnesota Open-style tournament that attracts a national field.
What makes it easier to attract a national field than eliminating all travel costs?
6. Online tournaments shouldn't be used in place of real tournaments, as they're much more susceptible to cheating, delays, technical glitches, etc.
In 2013, sure. But the technology will surely improve.
7. Teams besides UW should host these tournaments every once in a while.
Agreed. But online tournaments will also eliminate the need for tournaments to be hosted by entities that have access to physical space. Anyone can host an online tournament!
8. These tournaments can be a way to fit in tournaments in otherwise dead parts of the quizbowl schedule, such as December.
Yes, online quizbowl means there is less cost in time to attend a tournament, so you can do it during finals week or while you're on break. It also means an end to travel disasters.

In short, I can understand Westbrook being against online tournaments, but frankly I was shocked to see such a regressive post from somebody in your field.

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Re: Are online tournaments "pernicious beasts"?

Post by Cheynem » Thu Nov 28, 2013 12:59 pm

I agree with Bruce, but the key point here is "in the future." The tech as it is just isn't solid enough to support consistent online mirrors--every online mirror I've played has seen at least one horrendous tech meltdown. This makes it okay for small scale, informal mirrors, but not as much for high stakes tournaments.
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Re: Are online tournaments "pernicious beasts"?

Post by Rococo A Go Go » Thu Nov 28, 2013 2:21 pm

The vision of a future where all quizbowl is played online seems incredibly unappealing and not very fun.
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Re: Are online tournaments "pernicious beasts"?

Post by fett0001 » Thu Nov 28, 2013 2:52 pm

I'm skeptical that an online tournament will build the kind of relationships that are built during live tournaments. I suspect that's a big part of what keeps this community working at all.
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Re: Are online tournaments "pernicious beasts"?

Post by marnold » Thu Nov 28, 2013 3:56 pm

I'll make a fortune selling scratch-n-sniff quizbowl funk pages to all the people in this thread pre-nostalgic for in-person quizbowl.
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Re: Are online tournaments "pernicious beasts"?

Post by theMoMA » Thu Nov 28, 2013 5:29 pm

The most overlooked part of Mike's list above is the bit about cheating. Maybe technology will allow a better online tournament experience, but without the in-person contact, it's very difficult to know whether the person on the other end of the line is playing fair.
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Re: Are online tournaments "pernicious beasts"?

Post by Cheynem » Thu Nov 28, 2013 5:35 pm

That's certainly a consideration; you could probably get around that a little bit with webcams if you were really serious about it.
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Re: Are online tournaments "pernicious beasts"?

Post by Angry Babies in Love » Thu Nov 28, 2013 11:13 pm

At GW, we thought 2+ months was enough warning for our Center for Student Engagement to get approved to use a car for a trip. We learned the hard way on ACF Fall weekend that apparently was not. It's very tough for us to a) get a car and b) do all of the paperwork required to be allowed to use one. That combined with many "local" tournaments being held in Blacksburg this year makes it difficult for us to go to things. We'll make any effort to play tournaments at physical sites but it's good to know that internet tournaments are an option in case we can't get paperwork in 3 months in advance or whatever ridiculous amount of time our insane school needs to get to Blacksburg or Charlottesville.
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Re: Are online tournaments "pernicious beasts"?

Post by Rococo A Go Go » Fri Nov 29, 2013 12:07 am

The amount of people on the east coast who don't have cars/can't drive is astounding. I know it's a by-product of your public transportation systems, but is it really becoming a problem for your local circuits that (apparently) didn't exist 15-20 years ago?
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Re: Are online tournaments "pernicious beasts"?

Post by fett0001 » Fri Nov 29, 2013 1:40 am

I was heretofore unaware of such struggles. In the many years I've been at VT, we haven't had any issues with cars being unavailable. Maybe it's because we reimburse students $.2/mi for driving, out of our budget.
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Re: Are online tournaments "pernicious beasts"?

Post by Angry Babies in Love » Fri Nov 29, 2013 11:10 am

fett0001 wrote:I was heretofore unaware of such struggles. In the many years I've been at VT, we haven't had any issues with cars being unavailable. Maybe it's because we reimburse students $.2/mi for driving, out of our budget.
Also I assume it's possible people have cars on campus. At GW, that is illogical and extremely expensive.
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Re: Are online tournaments "pernicious beasts"?

Post by Cody » Fri Nov 29, 2013 11:16 am

fett0001 wrote:I was heretofore unaware of such struggles. In the many years I've been at VT, we haven't had any issues with cars being unavailable. Maybe it's because we reimburse students $.2/mi for driving, out of our budget.
Or maybe VT has just been fortunate to always have someone on the team with a car. As this thread is clear evidence for, not every team has such an advantage.
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Re: Are online tournaments "pernicious beasts"?

Post by Sun Devil Student » Fri Nov 29, 2013 1:59 pm

Small additional point: It's not just an issue of having a car, but more specifically, having a car that your team is allowed to use and that is in good enough condition to be sure of making the entire round trip without breaking down. And gas money can be a factor on longer trips or with less-efficient vehicles. In my limited past experience, college students often have aging vehicles (bought used) that may be adequate for short daily commutes (with car shops nearby in case of breakdown) but are not up to the task of X hours at continuous highway speeds while fully loaded with 4-5 people and luggage. Other students do have newer vehicles that aren't their own, which require permission from elders to use. The families sometimes want to be compensated for wear and tear on the vehicle, as well as the gas costs. It is the rare college student who has, in his/her own name, a high quality automobile suitable for the purposes of this discussion.

Of course, if you can get around the financial and red-tape problems, renting a car is a good answer.
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Re: Are online tournaments "pernicious beasts"?

Post by Cody » Fri Nov 29, 2013 3:12 pm

Yes, Kenneth, such caveats are obvious in the assumption of having a car that is used to transport people to tournaments.
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Re: Are online tournaments "pernicious beasts"?

Post by gtb » Tue Feb 18, 2014 1:36 am

I think it would be hard to justify the CO2 from driving, just for a game.

I wrote NAQT to ask how to set up an online tourney, but didn't hear back. Do people on this board know?
Grant, UCCS

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Rococo A Go Go
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Re: Are online tournaments "pernicious beasts"?

Post by Rococo A Go Go » Tue Feb 18, 2014 5:32 am

gtb wrote:I think it would be hard to justify the CO2 from driving, just for a game.
Tell me, are you currently using electricity? Can you tell me where that comes from?

Don't get me wrong, I like the idea of reducing carbon consumption. But a few college kids carpooling to play quizbowl is not destroying the environment any faster than people using electricity to post on internet forums about college kids carpooling to play quizbowl. Perhaps you're completely self-sufficient and to be lauded, but I don't think it's realistic to hold those expectations of everybody or think they apply to this activity. If you don't think quizbowl is important enough to spend a little bit of time and energy, then simply find hobbies that you feel are that important.
Nick Conder
Louisville, KY

"Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free."--Eugene V. Debs

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Re: Are online tournaments "pernicious beasts"?

Post by Rococo A Go Go » Tue Feb 18, 2014 1:41 pm

Sulawesi Myzomela wrote:
gtb wrote:I think it would be hard to justify the CO2 from driving, just for a game.
Tell me, are you currently using electricity? Can you tell me where that comes from?

Don't get me wrong, I like the idea of reducing carbon consumption. But a few college kids carpooling to play quizbowl is not destroying the environment any faster than people using electricity to post on internet forums about college kids carpooling to play quizbowl. Perhaps you're completely self-sufficient and to be lauded, but I don't think it's realistic to hold those expectations of everybody or think they apply to this activity. If you don't think quizbowl is important enough to spend a little bit of time and energy, then simply find hobbies that you feel are that important.
After having talked this over with somebody, I realize my post was probably a really stupid thing to say to somebody who is just curious. I apologize for using a hostile tone, and even moreso, I'll admit that had I not made this post at 3:30 in the morning I would normally not be such a dick about it. I do stand by my point that playing quizbowl is not an overly wasteful use of resources, but that's an opinion and it's not fair to attack people for worrying about its impact.

Grant, I'm not entirely sure where you are, but I suspect it's pretty far away from somewhere with an active circuit yet. If online tournaments can help you participate in quizbowl, then I think it would be a good thing. I don't think NAQT is very involved in online quizbowl yet, but ACF and most independent sets usually have online mirrors that you can participate in. This weekend there's going to be an online mirror of ACF Regionals hosted by the University of Washington, which your team could even play without leaving your house. I know that's short notice, but there will be more examples of online mirrors of other sets in the future.
Nick Conder
Louisville, KY

"Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free."--Eugene V. Debs

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Re: Are online tournaments "pernicious beasts"?

Post by AKKOLADE » Tue Feb 18, 2014 2:48 pm

Nick, I think he's from University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.
gtb wrote:I think it would be hard to justify the CO2 from driving, just for a game.

I wrote NAQT to ask how to set up an online tourney, but didn't hear back. Do people on this board know?
You could probably talk with Mike Bentley about his previous experiences. Are you wanting to do this for high schools or colleges?

As for travel, since most teams carpool, I don't think the environmental impact is such a concern.
Fred Morlan
PACE President, 2018-19
International Quiz Bowl Tournaments, co-owner
University of Kentucky CoP, 2017
hsqbrank manager, NAQT writer (former subject editor), former hsqb Administrator/Chief Administrator, 2012 NASAT TD

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