A proposal to simplify eligibility rules

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A proposal to simplify eligibility rules

Post by theMoMA » Wed Oct 15, 2014 12:04 am

ACF has had internal discussions about our somewhat archaic eligibility rules. NAQT has had similar discussions. At Mike Cheyne's suggestion, here is a tentative proposal for a community standard of eligibility. (To be clear, this proposal is not endorsed by either of those organizations; it's the result of a discussion between Mike and me. Thanks for your input, Mike.) The two main problems of eligibility are (1) how much school is necessary to obtain it, and (2) how long players are allowed to maintain it. I think this proposal cuts through a lot of the confusion and makes practical sense. In particular, I think it adequately resolves the two main dilemmas of eligibility: although we want to make it relatively painless for the average student to obtain and maintain eligibility, we want people to be "real" students of the institutions they're playing for, and we don't want people to be able to maintain indefinite eligibility easily. I'd love to hear what others think.
The following eligibility rules apply to all non-open college quizbowl events. A competition year is defined as the period between September 1 and the following May 31.

To gain eligibility at a postsecondary institution for a particular competition year, an undergraduate or community college player must complete three classes for credit at that institution in that year. A graduate or professional school player must be enrolled in a degree-granting program at that institution in that year.

Players have a maximum of:
3 competition years of community college eligibility
6 competition years of undergraduate eligibility (years of community college eligibility plus undergraduate eligibility may not exceed 7)
3 competition years of eligibility in a particular degree-granting master's program or equivalent
7 competition years of eligibility in a particular degree-granting PhD or professional school program

A competition year is exhausted only if a player plays a non-open college quizbowl tournament while representing a postsecondary institution (i.e. not under the banner of a high school) in that competition year.
I picked 11 credits in a competition year because that's the minimum number needed to ensure that a player has taken three classes at a particular institution, and three seems like a good minimum number. Also, many institutions offer 5-credit intro language courses, and two intro language courses in a year doesn't seem sufficient to confer eligibility.

I picked maximum years of eligibility that felt generous and understanding that paths through higher education aren't always linear, but that give definitive cutoffs. I also lumped in all "professional schools" under the 7-year cutoff, even though many professional schools are shorter in length, because there's very little opportunity to stretch a degree like a J.D. for more time than the program typically takes. In other words, the cutoff for most professional schools is going to be the length of the program itself, and because most professional school students are there with the stated intention of graduating and becoming professionals, I see no reason to lay out the difference between med school and law school in terms of maximum years.

I'm interested to hear criticism either in the broad sense (i.e. this whole thing is a bad idea) or in the narrow sense (i.e. this is a decent idea, but the numbers could use some tweaking). Thanks in advance for your consideration and discussion. It would be great if we could adopt a relatively simple community standard that would apply to all tournaments, ACF and NAQT included.
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Re: A proposal to simplify eligibility rules

Post by theMoMA » Wed Oct 15, 2014 12:17 am

It's been brought to my attention that credits are not standard across academia. The rule could require a minimum of three courses taken for credit, with edge cases ruled on by tournament directors, ACF's eligibility committee, or NAQT's eligibility committee.
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Re: A proposal to simplify eligibility rules

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Wed Oct 15, 2014 12:34 am

Overall, I think these rules would exclude too many people from quizbowl, but I'll let Matt Weiner make that argument more forcefully than I can, as he did in the ACF forum. So I'll focus on nitpicks/suggestions for the rule as currently written.

I think "graded courses" or better yet "courses taken for credit" (some schools don't have grades) is about as standard as you're going to be able to get. I don't think "standard credits" is a thing that actually exists.

Brainstorming some weird situations that could come up:

(1) Person is on leave from their college fall semester, but plans on coming back spring semester and take at least three classes. Are they eligible during the fall semester? What if they play in the fall and end up NOT coming back in the spring?

(2) Person barely meets the minimum criteria, plays and wins ACF Nationals, then drops one of their classes the day before the final exam (say, he realized late in the game that he was going to fail the final). Is the ACF Nationals win vacated?

(3) As literally written, "completed" means that people in situation 1 are not eligible for that year until they have completed their second semester classes, which typically happens after Nationals
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Re: A proposal to simplify eligibility rules

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Wed Oct 15, 2014 12:40 am

I also want to ask the bigger question: exactly what problem are we trying to solve?

Years ago, people claimed that grad students who play forever and get really good at quizbowl were chilling the game. I think today this is an absurd argument, given that today's game is dominated by super-undergrads who got really good in high school and came to campus as college freshmen already better than most grad students. Grad students, even those who play for a long time, are not a real issue anymore and I'm sick of seeing them used as a boogeyman.

Likewise, it was once a plausible apocalypse scenario that so many high schools would start playing college tournaments that they would overwhelm college teams. For a while this seemed likely, but I think the threat has significantly fizzled out. As such I think there's less reason to crack down on high school players finding some way into a college tournament.
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Re: A proposal to simplify eligibility rules

Post by theMoMA » Wed Oct 15, 2014 12:51 am

Skepticism and Animal Feed wrote:I also want to ask the bigger question: exactly what problem are we trying to solve?

Years ago, people claimed that grad students who play forever and get really good at quizbowl were chilling the game. I think today this is an absurd argument, given that today's game is dominated by super-undergrads who got really good in high school and came to campus as college freshmen already better than most grad students. Grad students, even those who play for a long time, are not a real issue anymore and I'm sick of seeing them used as a boogeyman.

Likewise, it was once a plausible apocalypse scenario that so many high schools would start playing college tournaments that they would overwhelm college teams. For a while this seemed likely, but I think the threat has significantly fizzled out. As such I think there's less reason to crack down on high school players finding some way into a college tournament.
I think both of these are strawmen. As I said, this proposal is meant to provide a standard for determining when a person has achieved undergrad/CC eligibility for a particular institution, and for determining how long that eligibility can last once obtained. Providing a uniform standard in these situations solves a real problem that has very little to do with the "boogeyman" of grad students or the "apocalypse scenario" of high schoolers playing college tournaments.
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Re: A proposal to simplify eligibility rules

Post by theMoMA » Wed Oct 15, 2014 1:04 am

Skepticism and Animal Feed wrote:I think "graded courses" or better yet "courses taken for credit" (some schools don't have grades) is about as standard as you're going to be able to get. I don't think "standard credits" is a thing that actually exists.
Noted. I've made some revisions to the above.
(1) Person is on leave from their college fall semester, but plans on coming back spring semester and take at least three classes. Are they eligible during the fall semester? What if they play in the fall and end up NOT coming back in the spring?
I'd say yes. In the latter case, I'd say that their team forfeits their wins. I get that it's not a huge penalty to have to forfeit your record at ACF Fall, but then again, that's mostly because ACF Fall wins aren't that precious in the first place. If someone does this in total bad faith, they will bring the shame of the community upon themselves.
(2) Person barely meets the minimum criteria, plays and wins ACF Nationals, then drops one of their classes the day before the final exam (say, he realized late in the game that he was going to fail the final). Is the ACF Nationals win vacated?
Yes. I believe this would also be the case if a person somehow failed to meet the minimum eligibility requirements under the current ACF rules.
(3) As literally written, "completed" means that people in situation 1 are not eligible for that year until they have completed their second semester classes, which typically happens after Nationals
I'm not sure I follow. I didn't mean to convey that a player is ineligible until credits are completed. The standard practice is and obviously will continue to be that students play tournaments in anticipation of completing a certain minimum amount of classwork. If the player does not in fact complete that classwork, they could be declared ineligible retroactively. This is the case under the current ACF rules as I understand them.
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Re: A proposal to simplify eligibility rules

Post by Ndg » Wed Oct 15, 2014 1:13 am

Skepticism and Animal Feed wrote:
I think "graded courses" or better yet "courses taken for credit" (some schools don't have grades) is about as standard as you're going to be able to get. I don't think "standard credits" is a thing that actually exists.
Agreed. My school uses "units," where 3 units is equivalent to one "credit hour" --- not sure if that's the same as a "credit". But if so, most of our classes are 3 credits (9 units), so taking three standard classes would not be enough for eligibility under the 11-credit rule.
theMoMA wrote:Also, many institutions offer 5-credit intro language courses, and two intro language courses in a year doesn't seem sufficient to confer eligibility.
A five-credit course sounds like an absurd amount of work for one course, based on my experiences with what I'm assuming are 4-credit courses. I don't see why taking two of those should be insufficient for eligibility.
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Re: A proposal to simplify eligibility rules

Post by Matt Weiner » Wed Oct 15, 2014 1:23 am

theMoMA wrote:I'd say yes. In the latter case, I'd say that their team forfeits their wins. I get that it's not a huge penalty to have to forfeit your record at ACF Fall, but then again, that's mostly because ACF Fall wins aren't that precious in the first place. If someone does this in total bad faith, they will bring the shame of the community upon themselves.
Hey, wasn't this the reason this thread started in the ACF forum first place, rather than to ban part-time students from quizbowl?

I'll repeat that this is unworkable. It's an invite to schools to play whoever they want at ACF Fall on an "exhibition" basis, just like people used to do before we started caring about eligibility, and it flies in the face of any stated rationale of making quizbowl more of a "collegiate" and "official" activity. It's CRAZY that we're talking about banning part-time and dual-enrolled students (i.e., a subclass of actual students) from quizbowl, but waving our hands at letting fictitiously enrolled people play for colleges they are not actually attending at all.
Yes. I believe this would also be the case if a person somehow failed to meet the minimum eligibility requirements under the current ACF rules.
Is there any university on a regular semester system that lets you drop or withdraw classes for the spring semester in the middle of April? What exactly are we talking about here? How are we going to enforce it?

To repeat the issue with the original situation: In February, when you tell a school that their ACF Fall wins are forfeited, they are going to do one of two things.
1) Not care at all, because they played ACF Fall for the purpose of playing ACF Fall, and they still consider themselves to have achieved whatever record they did. This is the most likely outcome and will incentivize limitless "exhibition" playing.
2) Flip out over having their record taken away after the fact and cause problems for ACF.

This applies equally well to letting Person X play for Maryland in the fall because they used to attend Maryland and plan to attend Maryland again in the future. We can end this loophole without going down the path of banning people outside the Ivy League model of college attendance from playing.
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Re: A proposal to simplify eligibility rules

Post by AKKOLADE » Wed Oct 15, 2014 1:25 am

theMoMA wrote:...we want people to be "real" students of the institutions they're playing for, and we don't want people to be able to maintain indefinite eligibility easily.
What's the real fear with this? This really seems like a problem that doesn't exist that we're trying to rework a lot of things to solve.
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Re: A proposal to simplify eligibility rules

Post by Ndg » Wed Oct 15, 2014 1:40 am

Matt Weiner wrote:
Is there any university on a regular semester system that lets you drop or withdraw classes for the spring semester in the middle of April? What exactly are we talking about here? How are we going to enforce it?
For our upcoming spring semester we're allowed to drop classes until May 1 (although we do get a "withdrawl" grade that stays on our transcripts if we do it after March 30).

I agree that enforcement is something we need to elaborate on here. Is it reasonable to make players produce copies of their transcripts?
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Re: A proposal to simplify eligibility rules

Post by rylltraka » Wed Oct 15, 2014 2:05 am

Considering that some in some postgraduate degree programs stays of up to ten years are not unknown (our comrades in English, for instance), would it be wise to revise the eligibility to offer ten years instead of seven? Or perhaps you could say that a person has a X number of years of eligibility with undergrad and grad combined, as with CC and university?
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Re: A proposal to simplify eligibility rules

Post by theMoMA » Wed Oct 15, 2014 2:19 am

Some strong feelings about the fall-spring situation have led me to revise my position on Bruce's question above. I'll reverse course and say that a person is should not be eligible to play a tournament in semesters in which they are not enrolled, with the only exception being a player who establishes eligibility in the fall semester continues to be eligible in the spring semester (unless that player enrolls at another institution and establishes eligibility there).
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Re: A proposal to simplify eligibility rules

Post by Benin Rebirth Party » Wed Oct 15, 2014 2:31 am

Matt Weiner wrote:
Is there any university on a regular semester system that lets you drop or withdraw classes for the spring semester in the middle of April? What exactly are we talking about here? How are we going to enforce it?
We can drop classes with extreme circumstances until the final exam, but we'd have to meet with the professor, academic advisers, etc and provide a damn good reason (as McGill's website says, failure to attend class is not a valid reason). Like CMU, we'd also get a W on our transcript. Here it doesn't affect our GPA.

I think some count of credits, and not courses would make the most sense. We have several upper level 1 credit (1 hr of class a week courses) courses where the entire grade is based off of critiques of grad student presentations, as well as 4 credit courses with projects that are meant to be a "let's start your master's project early" type of thing. So measuring number of courses won't work here.

One minimum standard could be taking a full time student course load spread between two semesters (which at McGill is 12 credits, 1 more than the proposed 11). This doesn't account for the student who takes a semester off for whatever reason and then for the other semester does not take a full course load. A suggestion in this case would be for the student to be illegible the semester they are off, but eligible the semester they have class.

Next year I am likely taking 9 credits from three (4,4,1) credit courses in the first semester to finish up my degree, graduating, taking the winter semester off to do whatever I want, and then starting grad school in the summer or fall. I personally think it would suck for me to be not eligible to play in the fall, but if I'm out of school for the second semester, I can accept the fact I'm no longer associated with a school and not play.

Also, I think a full, however defined by your school, co-op work placement term associated with your degree should count towards having taken one semesters worth of class.
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Re: A proposal to simplify eligibility rules

Post by Cody » Wed Oct 15, 2014 2:34 am

To summarize my arguments from IRC:

These rule changes only solve eligibility issues at the expense of excluding legitimate players. This is unacceptable. There already exist rules for the situations these "rules" are supposed to "solve":
ACF rules wrote:For collegiate tournaments, players must be taking classes for credit (or doing equivalent undergraduate or graduate work) in a degree program, during the academic year in which the tournament takes place, under the aegis of the school for which they are playing.
As discussed in IRC, "degree program" needs to be clarified to something that has actual meaning (per Matt W.).
ACF rules wrote:The taking of minimal course loads for the sole purpose of retaining eligibility at an institution that the player would not otherwise be attending is prohibited. Determining whether this is taking place is at the sole discretion of the eligibility committee; players who do not meet the letter of the eligibility rules laid out here but who believe that their circumstances merit consideration should apply to this committee before attempting to register for any ACF tournaments.
This already covers the strawman about "taking a 3-credit course and being eligible forever".

There's no reason to complicate eligibility rules with this proposed ruleset when the situation can already be addressed -- with some small revisions -- by proper enforcement of the current rules.

Other eligibility problems -- such as the mentioned ACF Fall situation -- have nothing to do with this proposal and are not addressed by it because it's a completely separate issue.
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Re: A proposal to simplify eligibility rules

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Wed Oct 15, 2014 4:16 am

I agree unreservedly with Cody and Matt W. These proposed changes do nothing that would not be accomplished by correct (and in some cases slightly clarified) application of the existing rules, while unnecessarily making it harder for part-time or otherwise-nontraditional students to participate.
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Re: A proposal to simplify eligibility rules

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Wed Oct 15, 2014 9:32 am

Matt Weiner wrote: Is there any university on a regular semester system that lets you drop or withdraw classes for the spring semester in the middle of April? What exactly are we talking about here? How are we going to enforce it?
I once dropped a law school class like 2 weeks before the final exam. I got a "W" on my transcript but it was perfectly allowed. If this had been spring semester, that would have been after ACF Nationals and ICT.

I think another important thing to keep in mind for debates like these is that there are hundreds of universities in America and a lot of them have different policies on things. Your experience with your schools should not be used as the basis of a general sense of how things work.
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Re: A proposal to simplify eligibility rules

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Wed Oct 15, 2014 9:46 am

theMoMA wrote: I think both of these are strawmen. As I said, this proposal is meant to provide a standard for determining when a person has achieved undergrad/CC eligibility for a particular institution, and for determining how long that eligibility can last once obtained. Providing a uniform standard in these situations solves a real problem that has very little to do with the "boogeyman" of grad students or the "apocalypse scenario" of high schoolers playing college tournaments.
No, I think you need to do a bit more to establish why a complete overhaul of the rules is needed, rather than just clarification and enforcement of existing rules, and especially why we are adding years of eligibility which don't appear to be responsive to any actual issues that exist in the field.

I can think of only two players in the last 10 years of quizbowl who potentially may have run afoul of the years of eligibility that your rule would create. Yes, they were both super high-impact players, but 2 people out of the hundreds who played in the last decade isn't exactly crying for an overhaul that could have all sorts of unintended consequences.
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Re: A proposal to simplify eligibility rules

Post by jonpin » Wed Oct 15, 2014 10:19 am

Cody wrote:To summarize my arguments from IRC:

These rule changes only solve eligibility issues at the expense of excluding legitimate players. This is unacceptable. There already exist rules for the situations these "rules" are supposed to "solve":
ACF rules wrote:For collegiate tournaments, players must be taking classes for credit (or doing equivalent undergraduate or graduate work) in a degree program, during the academic year in which the tournament takes place, under the aegis of the school for which they are playing.
As discussed in IRC, "degree program" needs to be clarified to something that has actual meaning (per Matt W.).
ACF rules wrote:The taking of minimal course loads for the sole purpose of retaining eligibility at an institution that the player would not otherwise be attending is prohibited. Determining whether this is taking place is at the sole discretion of the eligibility committee; players who do not meet the letter of the eligibility rules laid out here but who believe that their circumstances merit consideration should apply to this committee before attempting to register for any ACF tournaments.
This already covers the strawman about "taking a 3-credit course and being eligible forever".

There's no reason to complicate eligibility rules with this proposed ruleset when the situation can already be addressed -- with some small revisions -- by proper enforcement of the current rules.

Other eligibility problems -- such as the mentioned ACF Fall situation -- have nothing to do with this proposal and are not addressed by it because it's a completely separate issue.
This seems fully reasonable. Having not been in the IRC, I'm just curious as to the relationship between the "during the academic year" clause and the ACF Fall situation. Is a student taking the fall off from classes, but "intending to return in the spring/winter/whatever", eligible for tournaments in the fall?
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Re: A proposal to simplify eligibility rules

Post by Susan » Wed Oct 15, 2014 10:20 am

It's CRAZY that we're talking about banning part-time and dual-enrolled students (i.e., a subclass of actual students) from quizbowl, but waving our hands at letting fictitiously enrolled people play for colleges they are not actually attending at all.
To the best of my knowledge, no one is trying to ban dual-enrolled students from playing quizbowl. Some people, including me, think that there are some concerns with letting, say, a high-school student who is taking one or two college courses play ACF tournaments with that college (in some cases, while playing non-ACF tournaments for his or her high school); reasons for that include the question of whether the student is a "real student" at the college and whether it's okay for the student to play for multiple teams during one year. These students are already free to play the tournaments they're interested in playing by virtue of their primary (high school) affiliation, so what we're arguing about isn't banning them from quizbowl; rather, it's whether they should have the choice to play for a college team (or, in some cases, to be able to play for both a high school and a college team in the same season).
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Re: A proposal to simplify eligibility rules

Post by bsmith » Wed Oct 15, 2014 11:08 am

Using “classes” or “courses” to define a “real student” dismisses a lot of students in different programs who are away from the classroom for several months to complete work placements, internships, apprenticeships, or volunteer programs. Those alternative programs are part of the scheduled education plan and allow a person to maintain their student status (sometimes even full-time status).

For example, I would not have been eligible for one year because I spent 12 consecutive months on a work placement, despite liaising with my school’s placement department, paying school fees, gaining credits to my diploma, and maintaining my student status. In another example, about half of Waterloo’s students alternate every four months with being in and out of school for work placements- it’s possible to only have a few classes from January to April in a single school year. In a third example, it appears that about a third of the programs at my local community college have lengthy sessions of “on-the-job” placements or training that take students away from the classroom setting.

I agree with most people here in that it is not necessary to overhaul eligibility requirements. It is easier to allow almost everyone and weed out the exploiters (the community occasionally calls out and shames rule abusers anyway), than it is to restrict entry and let those who aren’t “real students” in at the discretion of select organizers.
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Re: A proposal to simplify eligibility rules

Post by Cody » Wed Oct 15, 2014 11:31 am

Susan wrote:Some people, including me, think that there are some concerns with letting, say, a high-school student who is taking one or two college courses play ACF tournaments with that college (in some cases, while playing non-ACF tournaments for his or her high school); reasons for that include the question of whether the student is a "real student" at the college and whether it's okay for the student to play for multiple teams during one year.
I don't understand the concerns here. At their institutions, dual-enrolled high school students are real students, and have the same privileges as other students. Why is there a question of whether a dual-enrolled student is a "real student"? That's the whole point of dual enrollment.

Most tournaments are run on the ACF ruleset, which already covers the issue of multiple teams:
ACF rules wrote:Unless special dispensation is granted, players may participate for only one school in an academic year. If some legitimate situation arises in which a player might have good reason to play for a new school in a second tournament, such as transferring between semesters or a branch campus forming its own team, then the editors of the second tournament may choose to grant eligibility.
(obviously this isn't designed to apply to high school vs. college tournaments, but I don't know why ACF would be concerned about that)

None of the presented arguments against dual-enrolled students hold any water with me.

Ben has an A+ post, as well.
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Re: A proposal to simplify eligibility rules

Post by Cheynem » Wed Oct 15, 2014 12:19 pm

From my interpretation of Ben's post, I'm not sure why he wouldn't have been eligible--he was gaining credits, no matter if he was in the classroom or not. Internships and work placement programs (or dual enrolled classes for that matter) are part of a degree program. I've done internships and years of school when I was rarely in the classroom (independent studies, etc.) and they did count for credits equivalent to a regular course. I'm not sure if this is true everywhere, of course, but you're not going to find a rule that *literally* can spell out something that applies everywhere.

Can someone explain the problems of dual enrolled students playing for two different teams?
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Re: A proposal to simplify eligibility rules

Post by Cody » Wed Oct 15, 2014 12:42 pm

Cheynem wrote:From my interpretation of Ben's post, I'm not sure why he wouldn't have been eligible--he was gaining credits, no matter if he was in the classroom or not. Internships and work placement programs (or dual enrolled classes for that matter) are part of a degree program. I've done internships and years of school when I was rarely in the classroom (independent studies, etc.) and they did count for credits equivalent to a regular course. I'm not sure if this is true everywhere, of course, but you're not going to find a rule that *literally* can spell out something that applies everywhere.
He's eligible under the current rules because the current rules are pretty good and need some minor modifications to be more clear and eliminate loopholes not covered by this proposal. The current rules actually do work pretty much everywhere because they're general enough.

These new "rules" are untenable for reasons outlined by Ben and others in the thread; you can't use credits as a basis for these "rules" because credits vary far too widely at institutions (including CCs). You can't use classes because you don't have to be taking classes to be earning credits in a "degree program", which obviously qualifies you. The new "rules" are, quite simply, a giant, unrecoverable mess that solve nonexistent problems, but create very real ones. What are you going to do, propose a dual standard (that still doesn't cover everything) and then tell people to take it up with the eligibility committee? These "rules" already aren't a simplification of the current system and making them more convoluted isn't going to make them appropriate.
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Re: A proposal to simplify eligibility rules

Post by Rococo A Go Go » Wed Oct 15, 2014 12:45 pm

Cheynem wrote:Can someone explain the problems of dual enrolled students playing for two different teams?
I don't think anyone in this thread has issues with dual enrolled students, although rules proposed to address other issues will be used by people who do have problems with dual enrolled students to complain. The people out there who do hate dual-enrolled students don't have actual problems that come from a place other than "Player 1 scored 50 points against us at Tournament W on College Team X, and 80 points against us at Tournament Y on High School Team Z. We need to find a way to make it harder for Player 1 to do that for College Team X because they are better than High School Team Z and more likely to beat us with Player 1."
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Re: A proposal to simplify eligibility rules

Post by Cheynem » Wed Oct 15, 2014 12:53 pm

I don't think you necessarily have to make it more convoluted. I think in the vast majority of cases, credits/classes/whatever, it would be very easy to determine what exactly constitutes a "student in a degree program." Cody's correct that the current rules are fairly general and thus work, but I don't think Andrew is (inherently) proposing some magic numbers of credits or class hours. The point of the rule is not to exclude but to weed out the potential offenders who are not taking classes for any real point other than establishing eligibility.

I was unaware of the rules as they are currently on the books--Cody showed them to me last night, and I think if we properly enforced them and clarified some wordings, I think we would be okay.

Not being privy to any of the ACF discussions, I don't really know what this discussion is specifically reacting to. In the IRC last night, people were continually referencing things (NIU, "Ivy League models of education") that I had no idea what they meant.

Regarding dual enrolled students, I don't inherently see an issue provided they are actually registered as students in the semester they are playing. I DO think that loopholes should be closed to prevent dual enrolled students from perpetually extending undergraduate status and/or writing exemptions (which I think they are)--i.e., treat them as college students if they are playing college tournaments. If there are other issues with a dual enrolled student playing for two different schools in a year (as Susan suggests), I'm open to hearing about it.
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Re: A proposal to simplify eligibility rules

Post by Important Bird Area » Wed Oct 15, 2014 1:05 pm

Cheynem wrote:"Ivy League models of education"
I understood this to mean the (mistaken) assumption that "everyone in college is taking classes full-time as part of a four-year undergraduate degree program lasting from the ages of 18 to 22." (and thus, implicitly or explictly, excluding CC players, part-time students, dual-enrolled high schoolers, etc. from the college quizbowl community)
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Re: A proposal to simplify eligibility rules

Post by bsmith » Wed Oct 15, 2014 1:30 pm

Cody wrote:
Cheynem wrote:From my interpretation of Ben's post, I'm not sure why he wouldn't have been eligible--he was gaining credits, no matter if he was in the classroom or not. Internships and work placement programs (or dual enrolled classes for that matter) are part of a degree program. I've done internships and years of school when I was rarely in the classroom (independent studies, etc.) and they did count for credits equivalent to a regular course. I'm not sure if this is true everywhere, of course, but you're not going to find a rule that *literally* can spell out something that applies everywhere.
He's eligible under the current rules because the current rules are pretty good and need some minor modifications to be more clear and eliminate loopholes not covered by this proposal. The current rules actually do work pretty much everywhere because they're general enough.
Cody is correct in that I intended to demonstrate that the quizbowl community would consider my work placement, Waterloo's co-op program, or a CC apprenticeship to be eligible within the existing rules in the form of "equivalent undergraduate or graduate work".

I was disputing the idea raised in Andrew's first post that a "real" student is one who takes at least three classes in a year.
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Re: A proposal to simplify eligibility rules

Post by Cheynem » Wed Oct 15, 2014 1:35 pm

I agree that "three classes = rule student" is a faulty metric, which is why if Andrew's original system would be adopted it would need to include explicit descriptions of equivalents.
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Re: A proposal to simplify eligibility rules

Post by theMoMA » Wed Oct 15, 2014 2:11 pm

This is not a final proposal; it's a starting point for discussion and hopefully reform. I proposed this because I think it simplifies and cuts through a lot of the confusion with the original rule: mainly, no one's really sure where to draw the line between a person taking undergrad/CC classes for legitimate reasons, and a person taking those classes solely for quizbowl purposes. The discussion has focused on undergraduate and CC classes because they are quite easy for anyone to enroll in, and as Mike and others have noted, discerning the intent of a person taking these classes is difficult to impossible.

(As an aside, some have focused on the difficulty of enforcing certain aspects of my proposal. I acknowledge that short of asking everyone for transcripts, it's impossible to know for certain if players are legitimately eligible. But those same people have advocated simply enforcing the current rules better. There's absolutely no standard for enforcing the provision that a person cannot register for a class solely to establish eligibility. Any eligibility regime will have enforcement problems, but I think a strength of my proposal is that it focuses solely on objective measures, not subjective intent or head-scratching about what constitutes an undergrad/CC degree program.)

My thought is that, at a certain credit/class load (which, mind you, is not high!), you can presume that a person is advancing their education and not enrolling for the purpose of establishing eligibility. As Mike points out, defining class equivalents is important to ensuring that all legitimate programs are covered.

If there are wide swaths of legitimate students who would be adversely affected by this rule, perhaps some carve-outs can apply. For instance, if the community as a whole believes that upholding the right of dual-enrolled students to play for the college in which they are enrolled is important regardless of the class/credit load of those students, I don't have a problem with making an exception in that case. If the community believes that, before a certain age (say 24), we should presume that any amount of enrollment at an institution is sufficient to confer eligibility, I'm ok with that carve-out as well.

If people believe that the eligibility time limits are draconian, I'm ok with lengthening them or abandoning them altogether if the community believes that an effective rule to establish eligibility in a particular year is a sufficient safeguard against perpetual sham eligibility.

What I would like to close off is the ability of someone to register for one undergrad/CC class a semester to maintain eligibility ad infinitum. As presently constituted, our rules do very little to safeguard against this possibility. We have an activity for students, and we need to figure out how to make sure that students are the ones who get to participate.
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Re: A proposal to simplify eligibility rules

Post by Gautam » Wed Oct 15, 2014 2:45 pm

Cheynem wrote: Not being privy to any of the ACF discussions, I don't really know what this discussion is specifically reacting to.
Andrew does a good job of summing up why we need this discussion I think. As an editor for Fall, I've had questions come in my inbox about eligibility. The back-and-forth on specific eligibility queries had left me confused about current the interpretation and intent of current ACF guidelines/historical precedent etc.

I want to see clearer guidelines for how to work with eligibility queries. It should not require editors several back-and-forth emails or poring through descriptions of programs to figure out whether someone is eligible. Like Andrew, I hope that we can boil eligibility criteria down to a few objective measures and not have to deliberate on "subjective intent or head-scratching about what constitutes an undergrad/CC degree program."
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Re: A proposal to simplify eligibility rules

Post by Cody » Wed Oct 15, 2014 2:58 pm

theMoMA wrote:What I would like to close off is the ability of someone to register for one undergrad/CC class a semester to maintain eligibility ad infinitum. As presently constituted, our rules do very little to safeguard against this possibility. We have an activity for students, and we need to figure out how to make sure that students are the ones who get to participate.
As I've repeatedly said, there are clear and obvious examples of legitimate students your proposed "rule" would weed out, that aren't weeded out under the current system (because they're legitimate students!). There's nothing your system solves that can't be solved with already existing rules that do a much better job of being inclusive (something quizbowl should be striving for) rather than exclusive. If this is such a pressing issue, perhaps you'd like to indicate the apparent scores of people desecrating quizbowl by the method you describe?
theMoMA wrote:(As an aside, some have focused on the difficulty of enforcing certain aspects of my proposal. I acknowledge that short of asking everyone for transcripts, it's impossible to know for certain if players are legitimately eligible. But those same people have advocated simply enforcing the current rules better. There's absolutely no standard for enforcing the provision that a person cannot register for a class solely to establish eligibility. Any eligibility regime will have enforcement problems, but I think a strength of my proposal is that it focuses solely on objective measures, not subjective intent or head-scratching about what constitutes an undergrad/CC degree program.)
Who has questioned enforcement and then claimed such? Obviously, all eligibility rules are impossible to enforce short of asking for transcripts -- that's a problem with FERPA and privacy [and not a problem, at that], not eligibility rules. Your proposal's focus on "object measures" is an inherent weakness because these objectives measures do not capture the variety of what a "real student" is -- not much can. And I've barely launched into the year limits, whose fundamental design penalizes part-time/part-work students, students getting a second degree (Dan Goff, Chris Ray, and Matt Weiner are all obvious examples here), dual-enrolled students, etc.
Gautam wrote:not have to deliberate on "subjective intent or head-scratching about what constitutes an undergrad/CC degree program."
"degree program" should be clarified in the rules (something already discussed, no less!); that doesn't require a suite of nonsense that's nowhere near "clearer". The idea that these new rules can't be easily exploited given that they need to cover such a variety of real-life situations is clearly wrong -- if anything, the "subjective intent" rule is far superior.


Some reform is certainly needed. It certainly should look nothing like this.
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Re: A proposal to simplify eligibility rules

Post by The Ununtiable Twine » Wed Oct 15, 2014 10:17 pm

What if, under the original proposal, a PhD student gets released from funding after his third year but wants to finish his masters, but at the same time can't afford to take classes during both semesters and needs a good 6-8 months to finish his program? Furthermore it may be pointless for him to take courses in the Fall semester which he cannot afford for obvious reasons even though he clearly plans to continue to finish the masters in the Spring. Would such a student be subject to the three year rule in this case? I surely don't think that's fair, as I also don't think it's fair to potentially limit eligibility of people who are honestly trying to finish up their degree plans in such a case. I think imposing new rules opens a can of worms that shouldn't be opened simply because some people have educational paths that differ vastly from others.
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Re: A proposal to simplify eligibility rules

Post by wd4gdz » Wed Oct 15, 2014 10:55 pm

It seems like a lot of people in this thread have been saying things like "Some reform is certainly needed" but I haven't really seen any concrete examples (sorry if I missed them!), just bashing of Andrew's original post.
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Re: A proposal to simplify eligibility rules

Post by powerplant » Wed Oct 15, 2014 11:55 pm

Cody wrote:To summarize my arguments from IRC:

These rule changes only solve eligibility issues at the expense of excluding legitimate players. This is unacceptable. There already exist rules for the situations these "rules" are supposed to "solve":
ACF rules wrote:For collegiate tournaments, players must be taking classes for credit (or doing equivalent undergraduate or graduate work) in a degree program, during the academic year in which the tournament takes place, under the aegis of the school for which they are playing.
As discussed in IRC, "degree program" needs to be clarified to something that has actual meaning (per Matt W.).
Under these rules, am I eligible to play for Ohio State this year? I completed my final undergrad courses over the summer, which counts as part of the new academic year for purposes of financial aid and by OSU's calendar. Mind you, I don't actually think that I should be able to play, which could be another problem with the way the rules currently work.

The question in the thread that might be worth looking at is "should we cap the total number of years someone is eligible to play college quizbowl?" That seems to be a key part of Andrew's proposal, and maybe that should be discussed itself because a lot of the problems with the credit requirements disappear after people are ruled ineligible after a set number of years.
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Re: A proposal to simplify eligibility rules

Post by Cody » Thu Oct 16, 2014 12:33 am

powerplant wrote:Under these rules, am I eligible to play for Ohio State this year? I completed my final undergrad courses over the summer, which counts as part of the new academic year for purposes of financial aid and by OSU's calendar. Mind you, I don't actually think that I should be able to play, which could be another problem with the way the rules currently work.
No, you are not. This is covered under a portion I did not paste and is not a problem with the current rules. I don't see how anyone can usefully contribute to this discussion if they don't know the current rules:
ACF rules wrote:Summer sessions are considered part of the preceding academic year for the purpose of this rule only, but not for any other rules.
powerplant wrote:The question in the thread that might be worth looking at is "should we cap the total number of years someone is eligible to play college quizbowl?" That seems to be a key part of Andrew's proposal, and maybe that should be discussed itself because a lot of the problems with the credit requirements disappear after people are ruled ineligible after a set number of years.
I have already discussed a small amount a couple posts previously. The problems with them are mostly self-evident.


As for a real rule change, I've posted a short suggestion already, but some of the reforms that should happen (the "play in the fall if you plan to enroll in the spring" loophole) are off-topic with respect to this proposal, being separate issues entirely, which is one of the reasons I strongly object to this proposal.
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Re: A proposal to simplify eligibility rules

Post by powerplant » Thu Oct 16, 2014 1:09 am

Cody wrote:
powerplant wrote:Under these rules, am I eligible to play for Ohio State this year? I completed my final undergrad courses over the summer, which counts as part of the new academic year for purposes of financial aid and by OSU's calendar. Mind you, I don't actually think that I should be able to play, which could be another problem with the way the rules currently work.
No, you are not. This is covered under a portion I did not paste and is not a problem with the current rules. I don't see how anyone can usefully contribute to this discussion if they don't know the current rules:
ACF rules wrote:Summer sessions are considered part of the preceding academic year for the purpose of this rule only, but not for any other rules.
Sorry, I should have looked that up. I didn't mean to derail anything. Most of the post I drafted was about how I didn't like the proposal because of how if I take classes part time in the future, my work/school balance would probably be considered too uncollegiate for me to play but other people posted it more eloquently than I did before I did. I trimmed out the bits that seemed overly redundant and it made my post a bit more disjointed than I meant. I felt compelled to post because this proposal would have a big impact on me with regards to the game, and I cut that bit out.
Cody wrote:
powerplant wrote:The question in the thread that might be worth looking at is "should we cap the total number of years someone is eligible to play college quizbowl?" That seems to be a key part of Andrew's proposal, and maybe that should be discussed itself because a lot of the problems with the credit requirements disappear after people are ruled ineligible after a set number of years.
I have already discussed a small amount a couple posts previously. The problems with them are mostly self-evident.


As for a real rule change, I've posted a short suggestion already, but some of the reforms that should happen (the "play in the fall if you plan to enroll in the spring" loophole) are off-topic with respect to this proposal, being separate issues entirely, which is one of the reasons I strongly object to this proposal.
I am also against the proposal as it stands.
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Re: A proposal to simplify eligibility rules

Post by Cheynem » Thu Oct 16, 2014 12:31 pm

Here is an attempt at revising an eligibility proposal based on feedback (various people's ideas are here):

To gain eligibility at a postsecondary institution for a particular competition year, a student must be registered for a course at a college or community college for purposes of obtaining a degree. "Obtaining a degree" will be defined in this manner:
-all courses or equivalents taken by undergraduate students who have not obtained a BA or equivalents (i.e., if you are a dual enrolled student, a CC student who has not obtained a BA, or any student at an undergraduate school without a degree no matter how many particular credits you are registered in, you are eligible to play). "Equivalents" count students who may be in an internship or studying abroad or whatever but are still registered at an university for a degree program.
-all enrolled students in a graduate school or equivalents (law school, med school, seminary)

For purposes of enrollment, you must be enrolled in the semester you intend to play, with some exceptions (if you graduate in the fall, you can play in the spring, etc.). This is mainly to weed out the possibility of someone professing to be enrolled in the spring or intending to do so, playing in the fall, and then never enrolling/attending (this is less of a problem in the spring term, as it is obvious if you were enrolled in the fall). Equivalents will be defined to apply to universities on the quarter system.

Students who have a BA or equivalents and are taking courses at an undergraduate institution or CC may or may not have eligibility. Since this is where the highest possibility for loopholes could appear, I feel like the only way to get around this is through a "strict scrutiny" case by case basis. I'm generally okay with saying that if you get a BA or equivalents, you should probably be ineligible to play unless you are in either a graduate school or can consciously show that you are actively seeking a second undergraduate degree and are not just taking a few courses here and there. I'm open to some discussion on this, of course.

By establishing this rule, I think it potentially removes the need for the participation year limits Andrew proposed as it eliminates the possibility of someone continually taking an undergrad or CC course purely to retain eligibility (if they already have a degree). Obviously, there is still some potential for weird loopholes (someone who never graduated college but who just continually takes one course to maintain quizbowl eligibility), but the will always remain.

This still leaves open some questions that we can debate as well, such as "are dual enrolled students a problem" or "are graduate students too easily able to exploit a loophole of perpetual play." Thoughts?
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Re: A proposal to simplify eligibility rules

Post by bsmith » Thu Oct 16, 2014 3:26 pm

Cheynem wrote:it eliminates the possibility of someone continually taking an undergrad or CC course purely to retain eligibility (if they already have a degree).
Don't the current rules already exclude students taking "not-for-degree" courses? ACF rule C.2 says "players must be taking classes for credit (or doing equivalent undergraduate or graduate work) in a degree program" and NAQT eligibility rule C.2.d says "Players taking courses in non-degree programs are not eligible unless approved in advance, under Eligibility Rule 12."

As mentioned by Cody earlier, there are lots of people who go back to a university or community college after an undergrad degree. I support excluding people who take "general interest" courses or a post-degree class through the technicality that they still have a student card, but someone going back for a full multi-year program like radiology or archiving should be welcome (but not eligible for "subset" titles like CC, D2 or Undergraduate). I think the current rules satisfy these kind of arrangements, and don't see how the new proposals improve upon this.

Somewhat separately: There may be some merit to placing an outright limit on participation years as suggested back in Andrew's first post (he said 3 in CC, 6 at UG level, 3 at MA, 7 at PhD, then became flexible in a later post), but I don't agree with the insinuation that going for a master's/PhD is more quizbowl-worthy than going for a second undergrad or a post-degree certificate (why should someone in year 3 of an MA play, but not someone in year 3 of a second four-year BA?). If a limit is proposed, it should not discriminate based on what type of diploma-pursuing education is being taken. Players trying to stretch out eligibility for 10-12 years before getting a single BA would be caught by the minimum load or degree-focus requirements of existing rules, if their student status isn't revoked by the school first.

I know that there are players out there finding ways to stay eligible beyond what's reasonable, but how do these new proposals cover what the current rules don't cover without also putting scrutiny on otherwise legitimate students who don't follow a convention of 4-year BA/master's/doctorate?
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Re: A proposal to simplify eligibility rules

Post by Cheynem » Thu Oct 16, 2014 4:14 pm

Right, I don't intend necessarily to block students going back for a full multi-year program. You're right that perhaps this is already covered in the rules, but I think it's pretty nebulous what counts as a "not-for-degree" course, so we might need to define it better for purposes of enforcement.

I'm also not saying "going for graduate work is more quizbowl-worthy than going for a second undergrad" degree. Note that I said we could remove the year limits if you used my proposal. In the proposal I outlined, students going for a specific second undergrad degree would be eligible to play (they may have to demonstrate what program they are in). I don't intend to discriminate here; it's just that some people's education ends up needing some scrutiny to see if they are eligible, that's all.
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Re: A proposal to simplify eligibility rules

Post by sephirothrr » Thu Oct 16, 2014 4:19 pm

bsmith wrote: I know that there are players out there finding ways to stay eligible beyond what's reasonable
Is this an actual thing that's happening, or is this quizbowl's "welfare queen"?
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Re: A proposal to simplify eligibility rules

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Thu Oct 16, 2014 5:42 pm

If someone actually wants to stay in school primarily for the purpose of playing quizbowl, I say let them waste their money.

(Not implying that quizbowl is a waste of money, of course)
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Re: A proposal to simplify eligibility rules

Post by DumbJaques » Mon Nov 03, 2014 8:02 pm

I missed this thread, so apologies if it's died an appropriately horrific death in IRC in the last two weeks. But seriously, what a waste of everyone's effort to no gain and only potential drawback.

Seriously, who is this rule targeting? Like literally who? The last person I know who deliberately screwed with the system in an obviously untoward way was John Nam. And honestly, he might as well have been a fucking fairy tale character, because I've never met him and I doubt more than a couple of you have either. Also he didn't actually have any impact on the game's competitive balance, or dampen anyone's enthusiasm for the game, or hurt expansion or anything remotely like that.

In fact, since I've been playing, I only even remember a few cases of people who pretty much weren't students playing events (Bruce? Evan Nagler? Apologies to either if I'm wrong, I'm really not even sure about those). The idea that this was somehow a grave offense to quizbowl is absurd; I can't imagine how you could conclude they somehow caused problems by playing through non-traditional eligibility (has anyone? Ever? I'm asking legitimately).

I also think it's silly to ban high schoolers from playing for colleges THEY ARE ENROLLED AT; it's fine if we decide they can't play for high school AND colleges in the same year, particularly as we already have a rule that basically says that.

Bottom line: Nobody is served by this effort. It addresses a problem that does not exist with solutions we do not want. So stop messing around with this stuff. There are lots of other productive things you could do with your time - ooh, like going for a second B.A.! 4-year UG terms are for suckers.
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Re: A proposal to simplify eligibility rules

Post by Matt Weiner » Mon Nov 03, 2014 10:17 pm

There are at least two people playing ACF Fall this year for colleges they "plan to apply to" in the spring, just that I already know of (and I'm not an ACF Fall editor, these are just the cases that made it back to me). The fact that the current rules seem to allow this was the impetus for the discussion.
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Re: A proposal to simplify eligibility rules

Post by Windows ME » Mon Nov 03, 2014 11:13 pm

They don't have an acceptance yet? That's ridiculous. I hope it wasn't allowed.
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