Hey: stop running high school tournaments for colleges

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Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Sun Dec 30, 2007 8:13 pm

cornfused wrote:
Bruce wrote:In the Weiner model, the "good" players on "bad" teams cannot go to "good" tournaments, because the teams have been captured by "bad" players who use their power of the purse to prevent this.

Possibly a dumb question: and graduation won't solve this problem because...?
Well, keep in mind that I neither proposed nor favor the Weiner model; I am merely trying to construct an argument within it. But presumably there is an assumption that there will generally be more "bad" players than "good", and when some graduate others matriculate. It's also entirely possible that once "bad" players capture a team, they actively train the majority of impressionable freshmen to be "bad" players too.
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Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Sun Dec 30, 2007 8:18 pm

Well, it doesn't prevent it for the years that said people are in charge, and if they are doing grad work they may be there indefinitely. Something too that factors in is the people who are 100% only going to play NAQT could rub off on their teammates, leave their team convinced that anything non-NAQT is bad, or in keep out knowledge of the full circuit, thus leaving their program just as insular as when they were there. I feel that this problem can and will be alleviated with outreach and more people stumbling on this board, but until then it has the real chance of leaving people ignorant who otherwise might be interested in playing better quizbowl if they knew it was out there.
-edit: dang you bruce for beating me to it.
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Post by Matt Weiner » Sun Dec 30, 2007 9:04 pm

Bruce: This whole boycotting SCT/ICT idea is Ryan's, not mine. I'm not asking for any such thing, and I would be surprised if VCU did not enter at least one team at each of those tournaments this year.

There is certainly more at work than just NAQT keeping teams away from good or mainstream events, as Charlie has alluded to--there's a false NAQT/ACF dichotomy that keeps teams from trying events such as Sword Bowl (maybe not the best example, but whatever) that have pretty much zero to do with either organization, and there's uninformed people at some clubs who say dumb things about the difficulty or enjoyability of this-or-that tournament to new players. We all know that stuff is true in some places and has been for a while, but I doubt it's the case at some of these Minnesota schools who have never played anything but NAQT high school questions. The problem there is that EVERYONE is in the dark about the real quizbowl world. I'm pointing out a new problem here that is becoming as much of a concern as the longstanding and familiar one.

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Post by Kyle » Sun Dec 30, 2007 11:09 pm

Bruce wrote:It's also entirely possible that once "bad" players capture a team, they actively train the majority of impressionable freshmen to be "bad" players too.
I don't think the freshmen we get these days are all that impressionable. Quiz bowlers tend to have an independent streak and most just do what they want.

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Post by theMoMA » Sun Dec 30, 2007 11:13 pm

I think the bigger issue might be that freshmen don't really know what they want, and if they come to expect that college quizbowl is high school questions, then that's what they'll play.

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Post by Kyle » Sun Dec 30, 2007 11:40 pm

Where? Whose freshmen? More and more, freshmen have significant high school experience (on tossup/bonus questions) and have attended national tournaments and come to college hoping to play. Many underclassmen have taken the lead in creating a great many teams throughout the east that do attend real tournaments. Look at the northeast. Dartmouth's team was created by freshmen who are now excellent as juniors. MIT's fledgling team was basically remade by freshmen and sophomores who are now sophomores and juniors leading the biggest team in New England. Harvard's freshmen (now juniors) attended nationals in 2005 by their own ambition when the upperclassmen on their team decided not to talk to them or hold practice for four months. Of the four biggest teams in New England, only Brown was truly created under the watchful gaze of someone older, wiser, and experienced. You're underestimating freshmen these days. Most of them who play quiz bowl really do know what they want.

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Post by naturalistic phallacy » Mon Dec 31, 2007 12:42 am

Kyle wrote:Where? Whose freshmen? More and more, freshmen have significant high school experience (on tossup/bonus questions) and have attended national tournaments and come to college hoping to play. Many underclassmen have taken the lead in creating a great many teams throughout the east that do attend real tournaments. Look at the northeast. Dartmouth's team was created by freshmen who are now excellent as juniors. MIT's fledgling team was basically remade by freshmen and sophomores who are now sophomores and juniors leading the biggest team in New England. Harvard's freshmen (now juniors) attended nationals in 2005 by their own ambition when the upperclassmen on their team decided not to talk to them or hold practice for four months. Of the four biggest teams in New England, only Brown was truly created under the watchful gaze of someone older, wiser, and experienced. You're underestimating freshmen these days. Most of them who play quiz bowl really do know what they want.
I honestly think that really depends on what type of high school QB environment you come from. My personal experience has been more like what Andrew Hart just pointed out, coming into college expecting that NAQT questions were the "norm" for college competition and beyond and being totally blown away by ACF Fall questions over the summer. Granted, I did go to a smaller school in Minnesota, but I had never seen even NAQT questions before my senior year in high school. There are environments out there that do not provide aspiring players with appropriate information regarding the realm of college QB. Now, Andrew et. al. have done an admirable job of helping to change this and raise awareness of the real college QB situation within the high school arena, latching on to talented and interested players and giving them resources to improve. I only wish that that would have been around to show me what to expect while still in high school.
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Post by Sima Guang Hater » Mon Dec 31, 2007 12:49 am

Kyle wrote:Where? Whose freshmen? More and more, freshmen have significant high school experience (on tossup/bonus questions) and have attended national tournaments and come to college hoping to play. Many underclassmen have taken the lead in creating a great many teams throughout the east that do attend real tournaments. Look at the northeast. Dartmouth's team was created by freshmen who are now excellent as juniors. MIT's fledgling team was basically remade by freshmen and sophomores who are now sophomores and juniors leading the biggest team in New England. Harvard's freshmen (now juniors) attended nationals in 2005 by their own ambition when the upperclassmen on their team decided not to talk to them or hold practice for four months. Of the four biggest teams in New England, only Brown was truly created under the watchful gaze of someone older, wiser, and experienced. You're underestimating freshmen these days. Most of them who play quiz bowl really do know what they want.
Kyle, while I agree with you that the new generation has pretty much single-handedly remade the northeast, you have a really biased sample. Your own crop of freshmen featured two players from top-flight high school teams (You from Lakeside, and John from State College), and MIT has Ylaine (also from State College) and Chris, both with good high school experience (and a host of freshmen with the same). Dartmouth may be an exception, because as far as I can tell, only AJ had previous NAQT experience. The point remains that the freshmen who "know what they want" by and large have already seen the best of high school quizbowl, which is something that the freshmen at these schools that only go to A sets may not have.

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Post by Kyle » Mon Dec 31, 2007 1:03 am

I just think that players who want to be competitive find opportunities to play against the best teams regardless of the questions the best teams play on. The desire for competition explains Harvard/MIT/Dartmouth better than any argument about experience in high school.

(PS not that it matters but I only played two tossup-bonus tournaments in high school)

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Post by ecks » Mon Dec 31, 2007 3:09 am

cornfused wrote:
Bruce wrote:In the Weiner model, the "good" players on "bad" teams cannot go to "good" tournaments, because the teams have been captured by "bad" players who use their power of the purse to prevent this.
Possibly a dumb question: and graduation won't solve this problem because...?
If a player has been in a program for a while that is vehemently anti-ACF, chances are they'll have the same kind of prejudices and won't be members of this board. Of course, that doesn't mean that they can't go beyond the assumptions of those before them, but it's pretty easy to tolerate bad quizbowl if you don't know any better.
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Post by First Chairman » Mon Dec 31, 2007 9:46 am

I'm not sure that there are that many high school programs that are vehemently anti-ACF. There are many college programs that probably are, but the undergraduates who have had experience are probably less likely to be intimidated by the experience.

I am more concerned about high school students who have come from programs that are anti-pyramidal (anti-NAQT, anti-PACE, anti-ACF) because that's not how the game should be played, or the students "get bored" listening to either the droning words of a tossup or can't understand the speed-reading of a reader. These are the students who will have more difficulty transitioning and would be even less likely to play independent or ACF-style events.

That said, I think the reason why there is not more participation is voluntary ignorance. We don't do a lot of promotion of this board as we should regardless of the alliances we have (ACF, NAQT, PACE, TRASH, or high school). The other reason is the persona we put up on the board when it comes to certain discussions (but that's a problem on just about every bb).
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Post by Birdofredum Sawin » Mon Dec 31, 2007 12:21 pm

Hey, let me jump in and pour some more vitriol onto the fire. A number of posters in this thread, as in so many "I hate NAQT threads," have been proceeding on the assumption that "ACF=good" and "NAQT=bad." I don't really get this. "ACF," per se, is not good. It is true that most of the top-quality tournaments put on since 2000 have (in my opinion) been ACF tournaments. But those tournaments weren't good BECAUSE the packets were sprinkled with the magical fairy dust of ACF. Rather, they were good because the best editors of the era were devoted to ACF, and put in substantial work to make ACF tournaments great. If Subash, Ezequiel, myself, Kelly, etc. had all been NAQT editors rather than ACF editors, then NAQT would have produced the premier tournaments of our time. In fact, even as things stand it's somewhat ludicrous to assert, without qualification, that "ACF is always superior to NAQT." Any of the last three ICTs, I would say, was superior to 2003's ACF nationals. And much as I enjoyed my 2005 ACF nats and Zeke's Manu, it's far from clear that either of those tournaments was superior to Subash's 2005 ICT.

Finally, I'm somewhat dubious of the claims to "expertise" which have been made by several people in this thread. A number of the self-proclaimed "experts" have had a real problem with finishing tournaments, or with producing non-shoddy tournaments, or with producing tournaments which aren't wildly eccentric. When such people say "ACF is great, and NAQT blows by comparison," it strikes me as an attempt to trade on the sterling reputation earned by a previous generation of ACF editors.

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Post by First Chairman » Mon Dec 31, 2007 12:53 pm

I'll agree that there is seldom enough credit given to Andrew, Zeke, Kelly, Subash, and the other really awesome editors of the late 90's early 00's. I grant I probably look back in retrospect and realize that you did do a lot. Editing of course is simply a thankless task, and just like security, you only notice it when editing is poor. Tournament directing is the same way: unless you have a tournament meltdown, you really don't notice great tournament organization or directing until much later.

I won't talk directly about the vociferous experts on this forum. I agree it's easier to pontificate when one is not the target of criticism. Some of us elder folks have had that experience of the one "bad tournament" of our quiz bowl lives, and we live through those learning moments. Obviously those of us who have stuck with it to develop our own tournament organizational style or methodology enjoy it (The I'd Rather TD than Play Facebook Group is still open!).

I'm going to give this thread a little more time before I decide to split the thread from the OP's point. Unless there is more to say to the point, I think we have thoroughly beaten dead the horse that says "don't use introductory high school-level questions at college tournaments" and will consider locking the thread.
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Post by Matt Weiner » Mon Dec 31, 2007 1:26 pm

Birdofredum Sawin wrote:Hey, let me jump in and pour some more vitriol onto the fire. A number of posters in this thread, as in so many "I hate NAQT threads," have been proceeding on the assumption that "ACF=good" and "NAQT=bad." I don't really get this. "ACF," per se, is not good. It is true that most of the top-quality tournaments put on since 2000 have (in my opinion) been ACF tournaments. But those tournaments weren't good BECAUSE the packets were sprinkled with the magical fairy dust of ACF. Rather, they were good because the best editors of the era were devoted to ACF, and put in substantial work to make ACF tournaments great. If Subash, Ezequiel, myself, Kelly, etc. had all been NAQT editors rather than ACF editors, then NAQT would have produced the premier tournaments of our time. In fact, even as things stand it's somewhat ludicrous to assert, without qualification, that "ACF is always superior to NAQT." Any of the last three ICTs, I would say, was superior to 2003's ACF nationals. And much as I enjoyed my 2005 ACF nats and Zeke's Manu, it's far from clear that either of those tournaments was superior to Subash's 2005 ICT.

Finally, I'm somewhat dubious of the claims to "expertise" which have been made by several people in this thread. A number of the self-proclaimed "experts" have had a real problem with finishing tournaments, or with producing non-shoddy tournaments, or with producing tournaments which aren't wildly eccentric. When such people say "ACF is great, and NAQT blows by comparison," it strikes me as an attempt to trade on the sterling reputation earned by a previous generation of ACF editors.
You actually beat me to a similar point by minutes, as I realized some unspoken assumptions in this thread might lead people to believe the fallacy you are speaking against. Not only is it not necessarily the case that "ACF=good", it is also not necessarily the case that "ACF=real quizbowl." The collegiate-level tournaments that I think collegiate teams should be participating in exclusively are not just the official ACF events; they are also independent invitationals of all stripes--from Penn Bowl, to Yale's tournament, to Berkeley's WIT, even on to UTC's tournaments. I also include NAQT Sectionals and NAQT ICT in that conception. If someone doesn't want to play ACF Nationals, that's up to him, but it's possible to play a full schedule of independent and NAQT tournaments at the collegiate level, without needing to play high school questions, even if one wants to avoid ACF for some reason.

I guess I should get a little more self-centered here just to clear up what's being argued: I have nothing against the concept of NAQT per se. I think clocks, powers, lots of trash, and other things that have defined NAQT to this point are not as good as quizbowl without those things, but I do not think they make quizbowl bad or illegitimate on their own. I agree that NAQT ICT has gotten a lot better than it used to be, thanks to the work of the editors you mentioned, though it still has some flaws that we've talked about, and its position as the most expensive and prestigious tournament of the year makes the correction of those flaws even more important than the improvement of other tournaments. I guess I'm not sure if I'm irked that I have to say this again, but obviously I do not have a problem with NAQT in general, or I would not have played 11 collegiate-level NAQT tournaments or spent the last nine years telling every decent high school team that cared about my opinions to attend the HSNCT and run their tournaments on NAQT high school questions. I have a problem with collegiate teams playing on high school questions, and with some of the weird communication/attitude issues that NAQT has towards quizbowl (which, I am happy to say, look like they are being partially rectified as we speak). I think Ryan's ideas are too extreme--I know I will be bringing at least one VCU team to Sectionals this year and reading there, and doing the same for ICT depending on qualification. If I continue my education in the future I expect to be playing NAQT myself again. Overall, NAQT's collegiate questions of the past three years, with the exception of the aberrant 2006 Sectionals, have been at least acceptable for the price, and often better than that.

Nonetheless, these problems that have been articulated exist, and they seem unique to NAQT among the major entities in collegiate academic quizbowl (they have some analogue in TRASH, but who cares). So, of course people are going to single out NAQT when talking about them.

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Post by Ray » Mon Dec 31, 2007 4:06 pm

best part of this thread:

naqt:acf :: basketball:football

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Post by cornfused » Mon Dec 31, 2007 4:35 pm

Well, actually, I like basketball. But I figure no thread is complete without a ridiculous analogy.

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Post by grapesmoker » Mon Dec 31, 2007 5:40 pm

Birdofredum Sawin wrote:Hey, let me jump in and pour some more vitriol onto the fire. A number of posters in this thread, as in so many "I hate NAQT threads," have been proceeding on the assumption that "ACF=good" and "NAQT=bad." I don't really get this. "ACF," per se, is not good. It is true that most of the top-quality tournaments put on since 2000 have (in my opinion) been ACF tournaments. But those tournaments weren't good BECAUSE the packets were sprinkled with the magical fairy dust of ACF. Rather, they were good because the best editors of the era were devoted to ACF, and put in substantial work to make ACF tournaments great.
I don't think anyone is making this assertion. Obviously, slapping "ACF" or "mACF" on a tournament name does nothing to improve its quality. However, ACF tournaments have a deserved reputation for quality, so I don't think the general equivocation of "ACF" with "good" is necessarily wrong, provided we remember what makes it good.
If Subash, Ezequiel, myself, Kelly, etc. had all been NAQT editors rather than ACF editors, then NAQT would have produced the premier tournaments of our time.
So let me ask you this, then: why weren't you all NAQT editors, why were you ACF editors instead (or in the case of yourself and Subash, first ACF editors who later helped out for NAQT)? I mean, you picked one instead of the other when, presumably, both choices were equally available to you; hell, with NAQT, you might even have gotten paid more than a pittance. Seems to me like there might have been some common preferences on the part of such great editors that all led them to choose one path over the other.

In fact, even as things stand it's somewhat ludicrous to assert, without qualification, that "ACF is always superior to NAQT." Any of the last three ICTs, I would say, was superior to 2003's ACF nationals. And much as I enjoyed my 2005 ACF nats and Zeke's Manu, it's far from clear that either of those tournaments was superior to Subash's 2005 ICT.


I'm of the opinion that the 2005 ACF Nats and Manu, as well as multiple other ACF or mACF tournaments were better than most of the ICTs, and certainly better than the 2005 edition; no insult intended to Subash, who, I understand, did not have quite the free reign as a chief editor that you did.
Finally, I'm somewhat dubious of the claims to "expertise" which have been made by several people in this thread. A number of the self-proclaimed "experts" have had a real problem with finishing tournaments, or with producing non-shoddy tournaments, or with producing tournaments which aren't wildly eccentric. When such people say "ACF is great, and NAQT blows by comparison," it strikes me as an attempt to trade on the sterling reputation earned by a previous generation of ACF editors.
I take exception to this comment. Certainly, we are not perfect magic blameless pixies. Sometimes we fuck up, badly. But most of the time we don't. I've contributed to a number of official ACF and mACF events, and of those, only one (ECSO) was a bad event. I did my best to produce good questions for two EFT sets (we'll probably do another one next year), ACF Fall 2005, Titanomachy, ACF Regionals 2007, and others. Maybe I've made mistakes, and in that case, I'm happy to hear criticism of my work, but much of it, from what I hear, was met with approval. So, while I don't have a perfect track record, I don't appreciate the implication that I'm somehow disqualified from ever commenting on NAQT or anything else just because I was once responsible for a bad tournament. I've worked hard in doing my part to improve quizbowl, and I feel that my work speaks for itself. By no means have I, or any of the current group of ACF editors ever coasted on the august reputation of yourself or Zeke or Subash.

All of this takes us away from the main issue in question, which is transparency. I liken this situation to the conflict in philosophy between Windows and Linux, for any computer nerds that might find that analogy appealing. That is, if anyone thinks that my work sucks, they can come on this board and say, "wow, that Jerry Vinokurov guy sure blows ass when it comes to quizbowl" and then I'll come and defend myself because I'm pretty sure I don't. But even when I occupy the official position of an ACF editor, I don't hide behind the emblem and pretend that somehow, no one can speak for ACF or that engaging my critics is somehow beneath me. That's what makes one part of the community, instead of an outside organization that once in a while deigns to accede to the peons' demands. And that's the kind of attitude I find most annoying about NAQT as an organization, and it has precious little to do with any self-proclaimed expertise or anything like that.
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Post by No Rules Westbrook » Mon Dec 31, 2007 6:06 pm

Yaphe's point here is valid to be sure, but it goes too far and engages in some dubious grandstanding as well. Of course, I do not agree with the assumption that ACF is always better than NAQT by simple virtue of the fact that it is ACF. However, in the opinion of myself and probably several other noted players, ACF and mACF events (note: mACF events are included, because I'm not just talking about stuff which explicitly has the label "ACF" attached to it) have have numerous distinct pre-set advantages over NAQT events. No clocks, better distribution, longer and generally more pyramidal questions, a looser structure which focuses less on the gameplay aspect and more on learning and acquiring knowledge, etc. Now, there are plenty of people who don't think these things are de facto good, but I'm convinced that they are. Given that, I'd argue that mACF/ACF events have a higher probability of being better, even if you just drew the editors/writers out of a hat for every qb event. As it happens, the writers/editors are not drawn out of a hat; rather most of the skilled and knowledgeable ones are firmly on the ACF side of the fence (probably for good reason).

Anyway, the point is that I think it's disingenuous to act like it should be a given that NAQT and ACF have an equal chance of being "good" and that it just depends on the writers/editors. Maybe my position here amounts to me "not accepting NAQT on its own terms," which you claimed as a prerequisite in the ICT discussion post. I don't think that's completely true; I think I'm perfectly capably of enjoying an NAQT match and would be even more capable of it if NAQT instituted some changes and had better communication and things like that. In any case, I still think ACF/mACF events have some inherent advantages and, besides, they're cheaper and involve people getting better by writing packets for themselves as part of an interacting circuit. That said, there certainly are ACF/mACF events that are not as good as certain NAQT events, and that's fine. But, I'm way more inclined to give circuit events the benefit of the doubt and forgive their unfortunate pitfalls because they have the inherent advantages that they do.

I recognize that I'm taking the extreme position in this thread as compared to people like Weiner, and that's fine too - I just think serious qb players out there need to ask themselves whether the NAQT product currently gives them and the game anything of value - whether it's worth their time/money. My personal answer to that is no.

Finally, the notion that certain people are "attempt[ing] to trade on the sterling reputation earned by a previous generation of ACF editors" is utter silliness. Noone should underestimate the contributions made by people like Subash, Zeke, Kelly McKenzie, and so on; they are certianly the bedrock for the circuit game we have now. But the current generation has produced a heck of a lot of really good stuff too. Have there been occasional snafus, misjudgments, people taking on more than they can handle, etc.? Sure. I'm pretty sure that's always been the case. It's also the case that there have been a lot of victories and, more importantly, the good qb that is getting produced now is at an incredibly high standard...way better than what was produced just three or four years ago. And, of course, this observation feeds into my entire argument in this thread: if you want (at least, what I consider to be) "good qb," you're better off hopping on that train and forgetting about NAQT.

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Post by AuguryMarch » Tue Jan 01, 2008 6:28 pm

Ryan Westbrook wrote:But the current generation has produced a heck of a lot of really good stuff too. Have there been occasional snafus, misjudgments, people taking on more than they can handle, etc.? Sure. I'm pretty sure that's always been the case. It's also the case that there have been a lot of victories and, more importantly, the good qb that is getting produced now is at an incredibly high standard...way better than what was produced just three or four years ago. And, of course, this observation feeds into my entire argument in this thread: if you want (at least, what I consider to be) "good qb," you're better off hopping on that train and forgetting about NAQT.
Dude, you think that what you've pooped out is "way better" than ACF tournaments of 2004, e.g. Ezequiel's nationals? That's just ludicrous. You are hereby disinvited from the Johann Spies Faustbuch Invitational!

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