"the stagna(tion) of ACF"

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salamanca
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"the stagna(tion) of ACF"

Post by salamanca »

This sounds like an interesting stipulation Mr. Chuck, do you mind explaining it further? I feel like the college game has "stagnated" all over the board (witness NAQT's decision to shrink the field a few years ago and the slow decline in active DI programs). Why single out this organization? Would appreciate some thoughts on this from anyone, not just Mr. Chuck.

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Ezequiel

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Post by First Chairman »

I don't mean to single out ACF, and I agree with your statement that it really is a general malaise. A more general discussion is warranted and one that is not limited to the heads of ACF.
Emil Thomas Chuck, Ph.D.
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Post by DumbJaques »

Personally, I think ACF has done what it should to address the major complaints against it last year.

People thought regionals was too hard, pretty much across the board (regionals was too hard, Jesus). The extreme difficulty of regionals and some built-up ACF IS TOO HARD fervor led to people then simply declaring (inaccurately, in my opinion) that acf is run by a bunch of out of touch dinosaurs who like tossups on Helene Cixous. While I do fear quite often that Ryan Westbrook might try to eat me, I don't think any of the pro-ACF voices on the board (whether they represent ACF and its sentiments or not) are that out of touch, although I do think that this past year fall could've been a bit easier and still been ok and regionals was definitely pushing it too far. What's important is that by and large people who were on the fence about ACF saw this as a sign that *certain people that are inaccurately pegged as wanting 15 line tossups on ridiculous shit* had taken over ACF and that it would never be good again. ACF went out and found new, younger but very good editors to handle fall and I anticipate more attention will be paid to regionals and answer selection this year. ACF is clearly trying (and in my opinion succeeding) to make itself more appealing without compromising any of its values. I actually view 2007 nationals as the first step, as it constituted a set that was quite accessible but clearly appropriate for determining a national champion.

I think many people are prejudiced against ACF, mostly unfairly in my opinion, and I wish more people would pay attention to the efforts of the leadership to correct problems. The fact is, any team that plays NAQT Div I SCT can compete on fall (I'd wager that ACF fall is probably more answerable given the fact that tossups on things that shouldn't be tossed up find their way into every NAQT set ever). I think anyone who competes at NAQT ICT in Div I can certainly handle regionals (most years). There's a perception issue, and frankly it isn't helped by the fact that people (including me) are so virulent with posters who claim ACF is way too hard, pyramidals suck, or yankees are carpetbaggers. While I personally feel that some of those posts deserve vitriol, it's more the people who simply read the reactions and have their view of acf (which, like it or not, is the standard bearer for hard, well-written, longer questions) shifted further in a negative direction.

I look forward to a very good (and very accessible) Fall set and an entirely appropriate regionals and nationals this coming year. While it's true some programs seem to have dropped off the map, there are new programs coming up (it was great to see William and Mary and UNC come up for a summer tournament), and I think ACF is doing the right things this year to make sure the reasonable 80% aren't alienated.
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Post by Mike Bentley »

I'm cautiously optimistic about the growth of college quizbowl next year, at least in the Midatlantic.

I've heard that Penn State might finally get a team again, and William and Mary looks like it's going to be more active, what with them hosting EFT this year. Duke, which attended a few tournaments last year, I hope will be coming to more this year.

I guess the big question is, can some of the more established schools survive changes in leadership? Assuming that Weiner is no longer at VCU, is that team going remain active? What about the Rutgers teams? And will schools like Penn, Delaware, GW and even Swathmore reestablish themselves this year by coming to more tournaments? I guess a lot of this depends on the incoming crop of freshman this year. Allegedly there are a lot of former serious high school players who have at the very least been exposed to a lot NAQT and maybe even have had some experience writing questions before matriculating in universities all over the country. If a greater percentage of these students that usual comit to seriously playing college quizbowl, which I beleive is possible, I think we could be in for a good year.
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Post by Mr. Kwalter »

I'm glad Chris feels the way he does about ACF, because as one of many who have been outspoken about certain changes that need to be made to ACF's questions and possibly to some of the minor points of its philosophy I find myself doubting any claim that ACF is stagnant. It's easy to take a cursory glance at college quizbowl and say there just hasn't been anything new in a long time. That's true, really, it's not like we've seen new formats recently, and the same people have by and large technically been pulling the strings behind each of the two major organizations. But the idea that there hasn't been and isn't going to be change in ACF and/or NAQT is patently untrue.

NAQT in the past couple of years hired a new, pro-pyramidality/"academic" quizbowl head editor for ICT and actually sent a survey with a general description of their distribution out to the quizbowl community (even if the comments therein were sometimes taken with a grain of salt it was a step in the right direction).

ACF's old guard is as of this year by and large no longer in charge. Andrew and Zeke are both going to be in law school, Subash is in India, etc. Even if they occasionally help out as advisors, all three tournaments are being headed this year by editors who have not headed those tournaments before and will therefore bring a fresh approach to each.

Chris is justified in his criticism of last year's Fall and Regional tournaments, they were at times very problematic, but, as always, things will be different next year. I'd like to think that given the staff we've lined up those changes will be for the better, and as someone who has been working closely with our fall editing crew I know that they are really on the right track.

For all my ranting I don't want this to become a thread in which a bunch of ACF people come out and repeatedly say the same things about how ACF is awesome. If you think ACF is stagnant, post, since obviously everyone here wants to hear about it. Anyway, that's all I have to say about that.

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Post by grapesmoker »

I think the death of mACF invitationals and ACF in general is greatly overstated. The college game goes through cycles that are largely based on two things: undergrad-to-grad student movement (which is not entirely random, except in a few cases) and undergrad recruitment, which is essentially a coin flip any given year. Sometimes teams will start with 15 new recruits and be whittled to 3 within the month. Sometimes (this happened at Berkeley), 5 dedicated people will come in during a single year and transform the club. There's no good way to predict how any given club will go any given year.

Despite that randomness, I think the East Coast right now is a very healthy circuit (both mid-Atlantic and Northeast) with lots of teams coming out for tournaments last year. Harvard has gotten itself back together after some bad times, and Yale is also going strong (although I guess they might be lozing both Mike Wehrman and Andrew Uzzell to graduation). Brandeis, Amherst, BU, and MIT are also around and coming to things. Brown will be sending many teams to various things this year and hosting multiple events.

In short, I see no reason to believe independent quizbowl is on the verge of folding. I'm still disappointed that some teams choose to run IS set tournaments rather than entering into mirror collaborations or doing packet-subs, but one can't have everything.
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Post by No Rules Westbrook »

I'll try my best here not to just shout "ACF is awesome" or eat anyone. From my point of view, if ACF is "stagnating" (and I'm not completely sure it is) - it's not because it's the "same old, same old ACF", it's because it isn't or can no longer be the "same as it ever was."

I'm willing to accept that there are plenty of promising players/programs out there and I'm on board with lots of the changes that have been suggested (and already implemented, like the current acf fall staff) to get people to like/be involved with ACF. But, I see those changes as a compromise - one that's slowly become necessary because of the state of the game. It's more like ACF is purposely regressing, and I hope that the regression is made temporary when new blood jumps on board.

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Post by grapesmoker »

I think it's false to assume that the ACF of 2000-2005 is its "natural" state. There were different players active then who are no longer as active now, and that's fine. What I think should be part and parcel of the reform that's happening in ACF right now is the recognition that ACF Nationals really should be the premiere tournament of the year, and that you really do have to be the best and know the most to win it. While I'm all for making Regionals more accessible, I think that the Nationals shouldn't get any easier than it was this last year (although I don't think it should be as hard as the infamous 2005 tournament).
Jerry Vinokurov
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Clarification

Post by salamanca »

Although I appreciate that the general concern with ACF has been and (probably, rightfully) continues to be how do we make these questions easier (I have some more to say about this as well, at some point), I was actually more intrigued by Mr. Chuck's choice of words-- I had never thought of the quizbowl that ACF champions as stagnant.

What does that mean?

From the responses I have read thus far, it might mean that the questions had gotten too hard and stayed that way, or that the same people were involved in the administration of the format for too long a time, or that the organization had failed to develop "new" and "exciting" format variations, or maybe it was about team participation...

Yet I think that all of these characterizations miss the point to a certain extent or are simply untrue. At least from where I'm sitting, it seems to me that if anything ACF (since 2002, let's say) has been pretty proactive: it has established a new annual tournament, recruited a whole bunch of new folks to participate in the administrative and the editing processes (thereby increasing the pool of folks who have editing experience), has seen questions shift to and fro to try and meet the demands of the public (think about the big difference (talking about Nationals, here) in Bhan's questions from 2002 to 2003, to mine in 2004, to Andrew's in 2005, to our collaboration this past year). I am not saying that ACF has been successful with everything it has tried to implement, but I think flexibility and the willingness to change has not been one of the organization's weaknesses.

My other claim is that a certain amount of stagnation is inherent and needed in good quizbowl-- the game necessarily shoots for a kind of steady ideal (in terms of question style/ administration/ and the types of things that get asked) that allows experienced and younger players alike to challenge and enjoy themselves. That does not mean that the canon or standards of play can't evolve, but really the game at its core has always (at least in the modern era) been the same: a bunch of folks, organized into teams, with a buzzer, listening to clues, and then buzzing when they think they know something.

Perhaps I have misunderstood you alls' points, in which case I apologize, but I was just struck by the use of this particular adjective and was trying to make sense of it.

Peace,
Ezequiel

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Post by No Rules Westbrook »

I think it's false to assume that the ACF of 2000-2005 is its "natural" state.


Yeah, this is a fair point. But, whenever I think of of it, I then think "why?" It's not like the people you refer to were magicians, and except for the always-mentioned super elite players, I don't see any reason why it shouldn't be the natural state. Whatever, that's a whole separate discussion. But, that 2000-2005 era seems to be one where all of our refined and sophisticated notions of pyramidality/canonicity/etc. were crafted...I'd like to think the next era should be just as progressive building on and expanding those ideas, forging deeper into the jungle. But, instead, I think what's being undergone is a sort of backtracking.

What I think should be part and parcel of the reform that's happening in ACF right now is the recognition that ACF Nationals really should be the premiere tournament of the year, and that you really do have to be the best and know the most to win it. While I'm all for making Regionals more accessible, I think that the Nationals shouldn't get any easier than it was this last year (although I don't think it should be as hard as the infamous 2005 tournament).
Quoted just for emphasis...I couldn't agree more. Of course, I'd like to see a couple more of those premiere sorts of events on the calendar and a flourishing master circuit burgeoning with mighty heroes, but then I'd also like my car to run on dreams and starlight.

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