Today is the Anniversary of Watkinsgate

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Today is the Anniversary of Watkinsgate

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Mon Mar 21, 2016 12:07 am

Never forget that Andy Watkins is human scum who cheated 3 ICTs worth of people out of a fair contest, including his own teammates. http://www.slate.com/articles/life/cult ... story.html

Also, never forget the other people who cheated to deprive us of the same opportunity. Joe Brosch. Scott Putzig. Joshua Alman. Steven Hines. Amit Bilgi. Baselius. Cam. Other countless people. I honestly lament the fact that none of these people will never really suffer for what they did, but such is life.

Cheating sucks. Don't do it.
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Re: Today is the Anniversary of Watkinsgate

Post by Cheynem » Mon Mar 21, 2016 8:55 am

One of the reasons that I don't "celebrate Watkins Day" or make jokes about it is that it still greatly bothers me, probably because it dredges up terrible memories of 2011. I'm sure Eric knows what I mean, but to use an analogy, take Eric's victory last year at Nationals and then have it be a loss but then two years later blithely reveal that SURPRISE HE DID ACTUALLY WIN. I don't really find anything funny about it.

EDIT: I don't mean that Eric was doing this in this thread or that people are wrong for anything, it's just that it's still a major sore spot for me, and I'm still mad at Andy and NAQT about it.
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Re: Today is the Anniversary of Watkinsgate

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Mon Mar 21, 2016 9:46 am

I wouldn't say that I knew Andy Watkins "well", but being his teammate for three years I probably know him a bit better than most of you. The rumors that Andy cheated began almost immediately after the 2010 ICT (and perhaps earlier, but that was the first time I noticed them).

I was very skeptical about those rumors, because I knew that Andy did not care about winning or losing. Oh, he cared about things like his own personal performance (hence why he punched a wall that one time) but about the strategic and competitive aspects of quizbowl he played the part of an idealist who was just there for intellectual self-development. It did not make sense to me that somebody who didn't care about the outcome of the game would go through the effort of cheating, or be motivated to cheat in the first place.

Once it was proven beyond all doubt that Andy cheated, and he made his infamous public statement, I realized what his motivation was. It's not that he secretly cared about winning or losing, I don't think he ever did. He was getting his jollies by ruining the game for the people who did care. That's deeply disturbing, moreso (to me) than the typical "do anything to win" motivation for cheating.

I do think it somewhat odd that some in the quizbowl community celebrate the announcement of the biggest scandal in quizbowl history the way that Americans celebrate Cinco de Mayo, but then again many of them were saying this for years before NAQT confirmed it and thus may view it as a personal vindication.
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Re: Today is the Anniversary of Watkinsgate

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Mon Mar 21, 2016 11:00 am

Yeah I'm sorry if this thread opened wounds for people. Contra Mike, for me this was a great story of personal vindication since I had a fairly obvious rivalry with Andy, and a great epilogue to a particularly important year of competition. I personally think that, especially since Andy never really received any real punishment for what he did, the best we can do is at least collectively remember him as a terrible person.
Skepticism and Animal Feed wrote:Once it was proven beyond all doubt that Andy cheated, and he made his infamous public statement, I realized what his motivation was. It's not that he secretly cared about winning or losing, I don't think he ever did. He was getting his jollies by ruining the game for the people who did care. That's deeply disturbing, moreso (to me) than the typical "do anything to win" motivation for cheating.
That's an angle to the story I hadn't heard before. See, this is why remembering it is great - there's so many parts of it.
Skepticism and Animal Feed wrote:I do think it somewhat odd that some in the quizbowl community celebrate the announcement of the biggest scandal in quizbowl history the way that Americans celebrate Cinco de Mayo
Why do Australians celebrate ANZAC day when they lost Gallipoli? ANSWER: _it brings them together_ [in our case, in collective hatred and/or vindication and/or retroactive victory]
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Re: Today is the Anniversary of Watkinsgate

Post by Banned Tiny Toon Adventures Episode » Mon Mar 21, 2016 11:48 am

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Re: Today is the Anniversary of Watkinsgate

Post by theMoMA » Mon Mar 21, 2016 12:36 pm

I feel a bit differently than Mike, although I certainly understand where he's coming from. In my opinion, what happened on March 20 three years ago was the best possible resolution to what had happened. We can't change the unfortunate fact that Andy looked at those questions. More broadly, we can't change the unfortunate facts that there was a way for him to do it, and that he was evidently the kind of person who would. These facts are all unfortunate, but that's how it happened, and we can't go back and undo it.

But for years and years, Andy got away with what he'd done. He even got away with it through an investigation that seemingly cleared him. What I am grateful for is that the people who had the power to make things right did. What I am grateful for is that, when the existence of a new potential mode of improper question access came to light, the people who were in a position to investigate Andy apparently went back and looked for evidence of cheating via that means for all previous events, despite the fact that the only things that it could reveal were bad. What I am grateful for is that, when they found what they found, they acted on it, despite the fact that Andy was, at the time, a member of their organization. (Note: though I'm now a member of NAQT, I wasn't at the time, and I don't have any insider information about the investigation.)

Would it have been satisfying to rip through the ICT field undefeated and get to experience the thrill of winning a championship in real time? Yes, of course, and having that taken away from our team is always going to be an acutely sore spot for me. But I have to accept that that's what happened. 3/20 didn't have to happen though. It only did because people did the right thing despite the costs to themselves. I think that's a good reason to celebrate.
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Re: Today is the Anniversary of Watkinsgate

Post by gettysburg11 » Mon Mar 21, 2016 12:45 pm

I never knew the guy, so I can't really say much other than I hope nothing like him ever happens again. And I think his "example," as it were, may play a large part in ensuring just that.

Also, I envision him as being Patrick in this clip.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j8ch19BOi8E
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Re: Today is the Anniversary of Watkinsgate

Post by Cheynem » Mon Mar 21, 2016 4:00 pm

Yeah, Andrew does make a good point that it is the good work of people who maintained an investigation and followed up on it, and that ultimately proper outcomes were resolved. When I said I'm mad at NAQT, I wasn't pointing fingers at anyone or accusing them of not caring, it's just that on some inherent level it's a sore spot that won't really go away. My explanation was not intended to be a sour grapes fest, but rather to let people know, especially younger folks who weren't really around in college for this, that this was a really serious thing. As fun as it can be to make jokes or feel like it's all good, it really, really, really sucked, and what should have been my favorite year in quizbowl became one of the worst years of my life. As Eric said, cheating sucks.
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Re: Today is the Anniversary of Watkinsgate

Post by Rococo A Go Go » Mon Mar 21, 2016 4:01 pm

I get the impression that the celebration of "Watkinsgate" is less about the cheating revelations than it is about the total Andy Watkins experience. It's not really shocking to say that people hated dealing with Andy for many reasons, because he was a jerk to a lot of people within the community. He was a jerk on HSQB, and PACE members have detailed his misdeeds in that organization as well. The cheating was a big part of the problem, but the revelation of that cheating finally allowed the community to rid itself of Watkins for good.

He now gets to play the role of the community villain, at least until somebody else comes along that's worse. Quizbowl has a long history of villains, but most of those are gone or irrelevant. CBI is long gone, Chip Beall has been little more than a nuisance and a joke for the better part of a decade, and those past villains were people and organizations who rejected the norms of pyramidal quizbowl outright. Watkins was not only a new era of villain, he was a different kind completely because he was "one of us." He edited pyramidal tournaments, served in all the good quizbowl organizations, and was a moderator on HSQB.

Because of that, Andy's expulsion from the community felt very good to everybody who detested working with him. Never again will anybody have to pretend he's not a jerk and publicly put a nice face on his intimate involvement on an important quizbowl project. Watkinsgate is also a great cautionary tale, that sometimes the people who can do the most damage are those that are supposedly on our side. He's helped the community come to a better understanding of what it means to do good within quizbowl and what it means to be nefarious.
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Re: Today is the Anniversary of Watkinsgate

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Mon Mar 21, 2016 4:36 pm

Andy Watkins helped save ACF Regionals 2011, which I head-edited, by filling in for a missing science editor with a herculean burst of last-minute work. Not three months later, he smilingly cheated me out of what should have been a hard-earned national championship. I have no idea why he would work so hard just to spite those who would've considered him a friend, but fuck him and his wannabe Machiavellian bullshit forever.

The in-the-moment feelings of elation and accomplishment that should've belonged to my team, to Chicago, to VCU, to everyone he personally decided was worth less than a "tiny transgressive thrill", can never be replaced or adequately compensated for, but I can at least take comfort in the fact that the community now recognizes his villainy. Openly, and with ample evidence, at that--I greatly appreciate NAQT's honesty in revealing Andy's perfidy.

Now change the fucking tournament summary.
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Re: Today is the Anniversary of Watkinsgate

Post by AKKOLADE » Mon Mar 21, 2016 6:13 pm

Andy Watkins was a garbage human being. He may not be one now, but I would be surprised if he would have actually learned from this ordeal and how to not be garbage. My experiences with him lead me to believe that he is incapable of being considerate of others and that seems to be one of those things that doesn't change easily.

I still think NAQT handled the cheating as well as they could have and I'm glad they handled it the way they did. I think they made a tremendous mistake making him a member, especially when they did, and I hope they learned some from that.

Also:
Auks Ran Ova wrote:Now change the fucking tournament summary.
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Re: Today is the Anniversary of Watkinsgate

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Mon Mar 21, 2016 7:06 pm

Yawar Fiesta wrote:I get the impression that the celebration of "Watkinsgate" is less about the cheating revelations than it is about the total Andy Watkins experience.\
Yeah needless to say that Watkins cheating isn't the only story about how terrible he is, but Jonah Greenthal won't let me put the good stuff into his qbwiki article. Actually it'd be kind of nice to have a full dossier of just how shitty of a person Andy Watkins was, but that'd take effort.
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Re: Today is the Anniversary of Watkinsgate

Post by jonah » Mon Mar 21, 2016 7:25 pm

Auks Ran Ova wrote:Now change the fucking tournament summary.
The tournament summaries have been updated for the 2009, 2010, and 2011 ICTs. Sorry about missing that before.
The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote:Yeah needless to say that Watkins cheating isn't the only story about how terrible he is, but Jonah Greenthal won't let me put the good stuff into his qbwiki article.
Please contact me privately if you have any concerns about why personal rumors unrelated to quizbowl do not belong on the QBWiki.
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Re: Today is the Anniversary of Watkinsgate

Post by The King's Flight to the Scots » Mon Mar 21, 2016 7:51 pm

jonah wrote:
Auks Ran Ova wrote:Now change the fucking tournament summary.
The tournament summaries have been updated for the 2009, 2010, and 2011 ICTs. Sorry about missing that before.
The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote:Yeah needless to say that Watkins cheating isn't the only story about how terrible he is, but Jonah Greenthal won't let me put the good stuff into his qbwiki article.
Please contact me privately if you have any concerns about why personal rumors unrelated to quizbowl do not belong on the QBWiki.
Jonah, I have to disagree here. Although I don't know what Watkins stories are under discussion here, I think QBWiki, like any public quizbowl resource, is fair game for open debate.
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Re: Today is the Anniversary of Watkinsgate

Post by Cheynem » Mon Mar 21, 2016 8:02 pm

I more or less agree with Jonah; I don't think we need to open the door for personal rumors unrelated to quizbowl. That said, if I recall, some of the stuff in discussion DOES have a connection to quizbowl, so if it can be substantiated, I think it's fair game.
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Re: Today is the Anniversary of Watkinsgate

Post by Rothlover » Mon Mar 21, 2016 8:10 pm

I just want to note again that his Aurora lab page https://www.nyu.edu/projects/arora/members.html still boasts the claim that he won two national titles. I had emailed the lab director about it a couple of times years ago and never heard from him. After that I gave the info to someone in NAQT but don't know if they ever did anything with it.
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Re: Today is the Anniversary of Watkinsgate

Post by The King's Flight to the Scots » Mon Mar 21, 2016 9:22 pm

I think it's important to reiterate that, uniquely among cheating assholes, Andy was one of us. We'd planned tournaments with him. We'd gone on road trips with him. Some of us had even gotten drunk and laughed with him. Even when he messed shit up a lot, most of us treated him in "good faith" and told him how to do better next time.

I don't know what the moral is here for us as a community - as long as quizbowl isn't filled with jerkasses, there'll be an advantage for those few who defect and decide to act like jerkasses. That's the case in any open and welcoming community, which we should strive to be. Don't be a jerkass and it'll be fine.

If you'll permit me, I'd like to take this opportunity to write a post I've been meaning to write for a little while. Now that I'm on the other side of quizbowl, I'd like to reflect a little on what I got right and what I got wrong during my career. This won't be new to most of the Virginians. Bear with me: I'm thinking with my keyboard here, so this won't be eloquent.

I got a lot out of quizbowl and still love this game. All the benefits people talk about were true: I read books I'd never have touched, I made some really awesome friends, and I gathered a whole doorstopping collection of stories that are hilarious in any context. But, without judgment, I think that the way this game works has real drawbacks. We reward solitary study, often rote, for merciless zero-sum matches. Like in sports, you win or you lose, no style points. There are strengths to that but also weaknesses.

For my 4-year undergraduate career, I was at least the second most cutthroat competitor in the game. Probably the most insanely, excessively cutthroat my senior year, although MJ might disagree with that. Throughout that time, I drew on some really ugly negative emotions for motivation - arrogance, resentment, envy, that stuff. I'd isolate myself and get obsessive: I'd ignore sleep schedules, healthy eating habits, human contact, whatever, to go on study binges that ended whenever I physically collapsed from exhaustion at my desk.

If you look at my ICT stats, you'll notice that I got a lot better from 2011 to 2012, slipped from 2012 to 2013, and then exploded from 2013 to 2014. Those periods of rapid improvement coincided with the times I chose to rev up the negative emotion machine in my head and go crazy. After we won, I felt predictably lost; the two weeks after ACF Nationals were two of the worst of my life for my depression. I was acting super crazy and the circles around my eyes got so bad that in class, Sarah had to ask if I was OK.

Listen: I had a charmed career and I'm glad I chose quizbowl over any other extracurricular. I'm doing fine now, mostly because I devoted my 5th year to building a social life. That was a major reason I came back, in fact. I feel more capable, creative, and supported now than I have maybe ever. But I posted this rather self-absorbed confessional in the Watkins thread for a reason, because although they never tempted me to cheat, I've met the demons that made Andy do what he did, up close and personal.

Quizbowl, like every other element of our country's rotten academic meritocracy, will tell you lies. It tells the lie that you're just not fucking good enough until you become an all-star, win ICT, crush whatever opponent happens to be in your way at this particular moment. It tells the lie that your competitors and friends are just things, not independent beings of inalienable human worth. It tells the lie that it'll stop lying to you - honest! - right after you win the tournament next Saturday. Once you enable it, it won't ever stop until you assert your own agency.

The experiences you collect and the relationships you forge are the real measure of your time here. By that measure, I've been blessed to play this game and to continue to participate in the community. I'm glad I met Evan, and Tommy, and Dennis, and David, and Will, and the entire UVA club; Matt Weiner, Cody, Eric, the Michiganders, John Lawrence, Ike, Ted, Mike Cheyne, Rob Carson, Andrew Hart, Stephen Liu, Matt Jackson, and every other person I've been privileged to compete against; all of HSAPQ, all of PACE, a whole list way too long to even summarize here (sorry!). Just don't ever for a second let it lie to you like it did to Andy.
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Re: Today is the Anniversary of Watkinsgate

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Tue Mar 22, 2016 1:07 am

jonah wrote:
Auks Ran Ova wrote:Now change the fucking tournament summary.
The tournament summaries have been updated for the 2009, 2010, and 2011 ICTs. Sorry about missing that before.
Thanks for doing that, Jonah! Sorry if I sounded like a dick about it, I was just riding the wave of emotion from the rest of the post.
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Re: Today is the Anniversary of Watkinsgate

Post by Rococo A Go Go » Tue Mar 22, 2016 1:48 am

The King's Flight to the Scots wrote:I think it's important to reiterate that, uniquely among cheating assholes, Andy was one of us. We'd planned tournaments with him. We'd gone on road trips with him. Some of us had even gotten drunk and laughed with him. Even when he messed shit up a lot, most of us treated him in "good faith" and told him how to do better next time.

I don't know what the moral is here for us as a community - as long as quizbowl isn't filled with jerkasses, there'll be an advantage for those few who defect and decide to act like jerkasses. That's the case in any open and welcoming community, which we should strive to be. Don't be a jerkass and it'll be fine.

If you'll permit me, I'd like to take this opportunity to write a post I've been meaning to write for a little while. Now that I'm on the other side of quizbowl, I'd like to reflect a little on what I got right and what I got wrong during my career. This won't be new to most of the Virginians. Bear with me: I'm thinking with my keyboard here, so this won't be eloquent.

I got a lot out of quizbowl and still love this game. All the benefits people talk about were true: I read books I'd never have touched, I made some really awesome friends, and I gathered a whole doorstopping collection of stories that are hilarious in any context. But, without judgment, I think that the way this game works has real drawbacks. We reward solitary study, often rote, for merciless zero-sum matches. Like in sports, you win or you lose, no style points. There are strengths to that but also weaknesses.

For my 4-year undergraduate career, I was at least the second most cutthroat competitor in the game. Probably the most insanely, excessively cutthroat my senior year, although MJ might disagree with that. Throughout that time, I drew on some really ugly negative emotions for motivation - arrogance, resentment, envy, that stuff. I'd isolate myself and get obsessive: I'd ignore sleep schedules, healthy eating habits, human contact, whatever, to go on study binges that ended whenever I physically collapsed from exhaustion at my desk.

If you look at my ICT stats, you'll notice that I got a lot better from 2011 to 2012, slipped from 2012 to 2013, and then exploded from 2013 to 2014. Those periods of rapid improvement coincided with the times I chose to rev up the negative emotion machine in my head and go crazy. After we won, I felt predictably lost; the two weeks after ACF Nationals were two of the worst of my life for my depression. I was acting super crazy and the circles around my eyes got so bad that in class, Sarah had to ask if I was OK.

Listen: I had a charmed career and I'm glad I chose quizbowl over any other extracurricular. I'm doing fine now, mostly because I devoted my 5th year to building a social life. That was a major reason I came back, in fact. I feel more capable, creative, and supported now than I have maybe ever. But I posted this rather self-absorbed confessional in the Watkins thread for a reason, because although they never tempted me to cheat, I've met the demons that made Andy do what he did, up close and personal.

Quizbowl, like every other element of our country's rotten academic meritocracy, will tell you lies. It tells the lie that you're just not fucking good enough until you become an all-star, win ICT, crush whatever opponent happens to be in your way at this particular moment. It tells the lie that your competitors and friends are just things, not independent beings of inalienable human worth. It tells the lie that it'll stop lying to you - honest! - right after you win the tournament next Saturday. Once you enable it, it won't ever stop until you assert your own agency.

The experiences you collect and the relationships you forge are the real measure of your time here. By that measure, I've been blessed to play this game and to continue to participate in the community. I'm glad I met Evan, and Tommy, and Dennis, and David, and Will, and the entire UVA club; Matt Weiner, Cody, Eric, the Michiganders, John Lawrence, Ike, Ted, Mike Cheyne, Rob Carson, Andrew Hart, Stephen Liu, Matt Jackson, and every other person I've been privileged to compete against; all of HSAPQ, all of PACE, a whole list way too long to even summarize here (sorry!). Just don't ever for a second let it lie to you like it did to Andy.
This is a very good post. I was having a conversation with another quizbowler just last night about how this game can emphasize some negative emotions, and if we're being honest with ourselves, most (if not all) of us buy into the parts that reward negativity the most. You have put that into words in a magnificent way, and yes, the game does lie to us about what's actually important. You're more than right to note that the best part of this community is meeting the people involved. To be in the quizbowl community is to have a network of hyper-talented and interesting people scattered across the world, is to make friends and connections at your own school, and is to have an excuse and opportunity for extensive travel. Those things are kind of rare in life, and seizing the opportunity to enjoy them is a part of the quizbowl experience that can never be overrated.
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