Resetting [pt. 2 of 6]: How Much Quizbowl Does a Man Need?

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Resetting [pt. 2 of 6]: How Much Quizbowl Does a Man Need?

Post by Adventure Temple Trail » Fri Jun 12, 2015 11:51 am

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(Thankfully, the answer is not "six feet of earth from his head to his toes")

There's a whole lot of questions being written these days. With the explosion of good quizbowl nationwide has come an explosion of question sets which at least aspire to embody good quizbowl principles. And this explosion of aspiringly-good sets requires an explosion of writers capable of producing them, or else the entire production model will be unsustainable and on the brink of collapse.

I've already written about this elsewhere (as part of the "Big Vision" series last summer), but: It is my opinion that there are too many question sets being written each year. Or, to put it another way: There are too few capable question writers available to sustainably produce the current number of question sets which are expected to be good each year. Or, more succintly still: Too many sets are being written by too few people. (To give credit where credit is due, Matt Weiner was actually one of the first people to sound the alarm about this.)

You may ask: "But I love quizbowl! How could there possibly be anything wrong with lots of quizbowl to play all year long?" Well, let me tell you. Here are some problems with the current arrangement:
  • People who could be focusing their resources on other projects are unable to do so because they're busy writing questions for one to umpteen sets at once. This affects the busiest and most involved people most heavily, preventing outreach work, dedication to tournament logistics, stockpiling for vendors that can use their questions far into the future, etc. -- and increasing the risk of burnout.
  • When there are tons of tournaments all the time, only the most dedicated teams attend them all and many of the less-involved teams stay away from most of them; this means that any individual tournament makes less money than it would in a world where there were fewer & all teams could reasonably be expected to attend all of them. As a result, a lot of sets just end up getting thrown right on the heap of quizbowlpackets practice questions rather than getting heard widely by teams in-person.
  • The sheer number of tournaments in today's active regions is poisonous for outreach and recruiting new teams. Put yourself in the mindset of a brand new teacher or parent, expected to coach a team in an active area on top of the existing duties that your job requires. You're already giving up Saturdays that you could be spending at home with family or on grading exams, etc. Are you likely to stick with it if there are 20 weekends you're expected to give up, rather than 8 or 10? Or are you going to flee in terror? (Many people don't flee, obviously, but some do and have.) Furthermore, will you know which tournaments are the important ones to focus on and the ones you really shouldn't miss, or are all the events in your region billing themselves as essential? It's easy to get fatigued if you don't know what to focus on, and so many people don't try.
  • Many sets by newer or untested writers are not as good as they could be if efforts were combined; in the event that a set by a newer or untested writer is actually good, fewer people get to see that it's good and promote that writer's work in the future.
Just as any individual person must set their own priorities for what quizbowl obligations they take on, we as a community need to be able to set our priorities so a manageable slate of question sets exists and can get mirrored nationwide, without a flood of unsustainable or worse-quality sets causing negative effects around the edges.

Let's actually count out how many sets we need, total. I'll start with middle school and college first, since they're much simpler / much less problematic:

For middle school: I don't really know anything about middle school quizbowl, as I have never staffed it, but it seems like the existing 4 NAQT sets per year, plus MSNCT, plus NHB events, is sufficient for most teams' needs at this juncture. Given that NAQT format and style is the accepted norm for legitimate middle school competition, there's no need to add a second national championship or very many other sets outside their purview, and there seems to be little impetus to bring them into existence.

For college:The year is shorter, running from October to April, and regions are more distinct & smaller, making it easier to standardize the calendar nationwide. Most years converge on a calendar sort of resembling the following slate of 13 to 16 events, with a bit of aberration here or there, and this seems to work pretty well:
Fall semester: "true novice" event; "Regular-minus" or "Fall-plus" event; Regular Tournament 1; ACF Fall; Regular Tournament 2
Spring semester: ACF Regionals; NAQT SCT; Regular Tournament 3; (possible Regular Tournament 4); "Regular-minus" or "Fall-plus" event (MUT for the past eight years); Nationals Prep/Hard Open; NAQT ICT; ACF Nationals
Summer: Chicago Open; maybe one or two more summer opens

For high school: Let's assume for the sake of argument that we can assume every school will be back in session by September 1, such that the club fair and new student recruitment can reliably take place by mid-September. Let's also assume for the sake of argument that most high school teams benefit from some downtime between tournaments, such that each region works best by scheduling one tournament every two weekends. If you had one high school set to be played every OTHER week of the year from mid-September through April, you would need fifteen question sets total. (This seems on-its-face healthier to me than circuits which have a tournament every single weekend; for one thing, it's impossible to reliably draw on college players as staffers for many high school events if the weekends on which college tournaments take place aren't kept separate from the weekends in which high school tournaments take place.) Then the last weekend of April is taken up by NHBB Nationals, and late May/early June are taken up by HSNCT, NSC, and NASAT, all of which either block out the prospect of local tournaments or take place after most schools are out of session. If you assume teams do want to play a regional tournament amidst all that in mid-May, you're up to sixteen required tournament sets each year.

Now let's count out the number of regional sets that actually existed this year for high school alone, and then the number of championships:
NAQT Regular: IS-138, IS-140, IS-142, IS-144, IS-146
NAQT Introductory: IS-137A, IS-139A, IS-141A, IS-143A, IS-145A (not used in all circuits; made largely from TV material)
HSAPQ: Tournament-52, VHSL Series (State Series)
Housewrites Regular-and-Up: BISB, HFT, GSAC, Potatoville, VTACO, BHSAT, HERMES, Prison Bowl
Housewrites Introductory: SCOP Novice
NHB Regionals: Set C, Set B, Set A, US History Regional Set (not counting the written quizzes)
Championships: NHBB Nats (US Bee/Geo Olympiad/Bee/Bowl), SSNCT, HSNCT, PACE NSC, NASAT
State-Specific / Not Widely Mirrored: Scobol Solo, OAC, Masonic Sectionals, Masonic State, Right Triangle Open, KAAC, etc. etc.
Held Over from Last Spring: BELLOCO, Maryland Spring

Assuming a school can exist only in one state and only plays one state-specific event, it was theoretically possible to send a team to 31 quizbowl and History Bowl weekends -- potentially more if there are more state-specific events. That number shrinks somewhat (to 25) if we assume the team is not a novice team and the person playing SCOP, A-sets, etc. is not also playing NASAT. But it grows again if tournaments run on college sets such as DII SCT, DII ICT, MUT, and (for this year, at least) ACF Fall and Regionals are added to the mix, or if the state series takes multiple weekends to play. As a serious question, how many teams came close to playing that many tournaments during this past year? Aren't we near a point where it's literally impossible to play everything, given the presence of winter and summer break? Even though times have changed even since I was in high school (and I was satisfied playing nine HS tournaments, one college tournament, and HSNCT/NSC), and more people would literally play a tournament every weekend if given the chance, I don't think that number has risen enough to counteract the bad effects on coaches' sanity, outreach, etc. that I listed above. I would suspect that even among the best and most dedicated teams, only a mere handful would notice if the number of competition opportunities reduced to 20 in their surrounding area, and not much larger a handful would be seriously aggrieved if it went down further.

I haven't done the math on this, and probably couldn't since some of the information is not publicly available, but if I had to guess, I'd venture that the total number of people who actually wrote substantial numbers of questions for all those sets (for now let's say "substantial" means "triple-digit or higher") is below 100 total. It's really not that many people doing all this work, and many of them are doing multiple sets or organizations. There's way too large a supply of tournaments, too little demand for most of it, a huge strain on the specialized type of labor it requires to produce these questions (which doesn't just pop out of thin air don't ya know), and a huge strain on coaches, chaperones, and captains if they're earnestly expected to go to all of it to stay competitive.

What to move towards

If there are fewer sets, nothing stops some of those sets from being used at a larger number of sites at a more granular level (e.g. the Turnabouts setup in Illinois or the Fall Kickoff setup in Ohio, where multiple locations across the same state use the same set on one day). And the choice between "hosting a small tournament to make money" vs. "hosting no tournament and making no money" becomes a false one -- there is the as-yet-untried prospect of collaborative hosting, in which two or more schools can pool their efforts to host a much larger tournament than either could reasonably staff independently, and split the proceeds. Thinking long-term, I'd much rather have a world where every tournament fits into one of those two bins (small, but draws only on a short-drive-away local field |OR| large, but draws on huge numbers of teams from across a broader region such as "the mid-Atlantic" or "the Southeast"). What shouldn't continue is the rut that many high school sets are stuck in now, where the mirrors are spaced out as widely as college tournaments are but they also don't have large fields; e.g. a "Northeast" mirror with 20 teams and a "mid-Atlantic" mirror with 10 more and a "Great Lakes" mirror with 8, etc. etc. -- that's not a good way for anybody to be getting revenue in. Either mirrors ought to be spaced-out and quite large, or closer and smaller; if a set can't manage either of those setups it's probably going to be missed by all but the most dedicated teams.

What's more, lot of state-specific writing work (e.g. for VHSL, Masonics, OAC, etc.) is reduplicative, and could be streamlined by use of a single State Championships set of the sort HSAPQ has been looking to generate, or by switching the multi-tier state championship over to NAQT questions as Alabama (ASCA), Georgia (GATA), and Missouri (MSHSAA) have done. It really isn't that hard to customize a common pool of tossups around the edges so as to add the 2-10% of state-specific content or format it in the remaining wonky state-specific ways. It is much harder to expect that each state's dedicated people will find a way to write 700+ new tossups on their own, which again prevents those same people from doing other kinds of dedicated work in their local circuits.

Some issues

There are some issues with cutting material from the calendar, though, which it's worth addressing honestly. One such issue is that some writers -- particularly inexperienced ones looking to get their start -- might be "blocked" from writing a set that could actually get played, reducing their ability to improve (both as players, from learning a bunch of stuff through the writing process, and as writers). Seeing as NAQT just set its minimum writer age to 18, there is now little outlet for HS players who want to write besides by writing their own sets. So what is to be done? For one thing, more people can consider using the large question vendors as their outlets for writing. As I've written elsewhere, it can't hurt if the world we eventually get to is one in which the major question companies have large stockpiles they can draw on to build sets with relative ease. As high school players are much less able to write college sets than the reverse, it may make sense for college players to do this more readily; nonetheless, it may still be true that some ambitious high school players will have to stockpile their questions for use by future vendors, or hold onto them privately for individual study purposes.

There's also prisoner's dilemma-esque situation here: People gravitate towards writing full sets by themselves ("defect" / take the self-interested option) because it makes them more money than the currently-visible alternative of collaborating or mirroring ("cooperate" / the collaborative option). That isn't necessarily the way things have to be with some reshuffling, though. The goal is to have a world where collaborations in a calendar with fewer sets on it ultimately make hosts and co-hosts the same amount or perhaps even more money. When multiple schools all staff the same tournament, they are much more able to expand to host more teams (if two schools each had to set a field cap of 24 given their own capacities, they could set a cap of 48 for a collaborative event -- to say nothing of the efforts that pooled outreach/recruitment efforts could do beyond that) and a larger revenue can be split multiple ways with little trouble.

Also, as I understand it, every major question vendor company fixes the number of sets that it writes pretty much in stone each year based on expected demand, and all are trying to make a profit. So it's similarly unrealistic to ask existing vendors to cut back for the sake of the community, as that will be an immediate revenue loss for them unless and until a broader transformation occurs in how large or closely-spaced (or both) tournaments become in the future.

Setting new norms for who gets to write sets and how

This community is organized on a very ad-hoc basis with few authorities or structures for dispute resolution, and that gets more true as you get up to the college and open level. This has an effect on how set production is done. As of now, anybody can up and announce a set without anyone having asked them any of these questions beforehand:
  • Do you really need to write that set?
  • Do you expect you'd actually do a good job, and if you've never done a set before, do other people with influence in the community actually agree with your self-assessment?
  • Have you gotten help or asked to subsume your efforts into an existing project?
  • What are you willing to do to ensure that your set has a large audience?
In the absence of a national structure in place with binding power to decide which good sets will exist in a given year, it's important for writers themselves, and the community as a whole, to do a much more serious job asking these questions of prospective sets as they bubble up.

This is less important in high school than it is in college, since most sets can be run at any time during the year after they are completed, but: "seek[ing] the blessing" of existing events/people can be important if you have a new event and you're displacing the time period of an old one, so nobody is surprised or thrown for a loop. What's more, it's important to let people know if you're going to be discontinuing your set or if it was a one-time thing (or if it's discontinued for a year but slated to come back thereafter), ideally during this summer timeframe.


To conclude: I think that the number of high school sets (or at minimum the imbalance between the large number of sets and small number of writers) is a serious problem affecting the quality of the community, which is a drag on other kinds of efforts. I suspect that the needs of 95+% of teams would be adequately met, and the detriment to the super-dedicated 5-% outweighed by other goods, if we as a community pooled our resources to put together fifteen regular-difficulty question sets a year total, and maybe fewer than that. Given the continued existence of A-sets and nationals, that doesn't seem unreasonable to me. If "that's never going to happen," I am open to further discussion about what to do about this situation. For example: I've received some pushback from people I've talked to about this post before I made it, saying that I've actually got the problem all wrong and there are actually too FEW usable high school sets in existence right now, particularly in areas such as Illinois or the mid-Atlantic which actually do have to use them all across a pretty large expanse of territory. (In which case the problem seems to reduce to "there are too few writers; generate more writers"?) I am curious to hear what folks from regions that use every set think about what my proposals would do in their areas; more generally, if you disagree with me, please pop in, so we can be more likely to converge on a workable, healthy way to reset this aspect of the quizbowl community than just my opinion.
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Re: Resetting [pt. 2 of 6]: How Much Quizbowl Does a Man Nee

Post by Cheynem » Fri Jun 12, 2015 12:57 pm

I am interested in perhaps reframing the analysis a little. Matt is correct in that we had too many events broadly speaking, but it might be instructive to look at how most high schoolers experience quizbowl--through circuits. Very, very few high school teams move beyond their circuits for non national events; how would the average circuit fare when we look at how many events they typically hosted? I would imagine there would be imbalances depending where we looked.

I think some steps have been made in the right direction--HSAPQ and PACE no longer produce as many regular season sets themselves, for example. College programs, it also seems, are somewhat more restrained in producing sets (it felt like, and maybe I'm wrong, most of the HS sets were from HS programs themselves). There's still probably too many sets though or at least too many on a raw number sense.

Matt's questions are good ones to ask; I would also ask those who run HS circuit programs to consider what they're doing--I'm still largely dismayed by the sheer number of HS History Bowl sets, for example.
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Re: Resetting [pt. 2 of 6]: How Much Quizbowl Does a Man Nee

Post by Everything in the Whole Wide World » Fri Jun 12, 2015 1:07 pm

I'm going to chime in here with a related point: a given team does not have to go to all that many events to be a "good" quizbowl school. As the community has structured it, it's perfectly reasonable for a less committed school to study some, attend 4-6 local events a year, play the state format when applicable, and perhaps attend a national. From an outreach perspective that's a success. As a circuit, choose which three or four tournaments you want to use for outreach (easier sets are better) and really sell those and bring in all the local staff you can. There's no need to overwhelm any new team with a complex buffet of constant events and sets with strange names.
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Re: Resetting [pt. 2 of 6]: How Much Quizbowl Does a Man Nee

Post by Cody » Fri Jun 12, 2015 1:25 pm

Matthew J wrote:And the choice between "hosting a small tournament to make money" vs. "hosting no tournament and making no money" becomes a false one -- there is the as-yet-untried prospect of collaborative hosting, in which two or more schools can pool their efforts to host a much larger tournament than either could reasonably staff independently, and split the proceeds.
For the record, I think that this has been tried multiple times (for example, VCU and UVA hosted a collaborative tournament in fall 2013). It's a good idea, but it does make things more complicated (transportation becomes an issue, you have to figure out how to split the proceeds and workload, etc.) and you aren't guaranteed more teams. For VCU and UVA, a reciprocal staffing agreement (we staff their stuff, they staff our stuff) has worked much better for allowing each of us to host larger tournaments than we would be able to alone.
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Re: Resetting [pt. 2 of 6]: How Much Quizbowl Does a Man Nee

Post by Eddie » Fri Jun 12, 2015 1:40 pm

For a concrete example of what happens when there's too much quizbowl for a circuit to handle, SoCal 2014 - 2015 is a textbook example. We had sixteen (16) regular season tournaments, one (1) nationals-prep tournament, one (1) novice tournament, and two (2) middle school tournaments. As a consequence:
  • HSAPQ couldn't find a host or a date for their regional championship, and it had to be cancelled.
  • NHBB couldn't find a host or a date for their B-set, and it had to be cancelled. The A-set had to be hosted at a local hotel.
  • Tournament attendance dropped spectacularly. Sixteen (16) teams at Triton Spring this year, compared to last year's twenty-four (24). Thirteen (13) teams at Triton Winter this year, compared to last year's twenty-five (25). Most regular season tournaments struggled to break twenty (20) teams.
  • The already-small Los Angeles tournaments suffered even more when San Diego schools were too burnt out to make the drive up.
  • Matt's aforementioned point rings loud and clear - near the end of the season, tournaments were just the same handful of schools with virtually zero outreach.
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Re: Resetting [pt. 2 of 6]: How Much Quizbowl Does a Man Nee

Post by Great Bustard » Fri Jun 12, 2015 3:22 pm

Spheal With It wrote:For a concrete example of what happens when there's too much quizbowl for a circuit to handle, SoCal 2014 - 2015 is a textbook example. We had sixteen (16) regular season tournaments, one (1) nationals-prep tournament, one (1) novice tournament, and two (2) middle school tournaments. As a consequence:
  • HSAPQ couldn't find a host or a date for their regional championship, and it had to be cancelled.
  • NHBB couldn't find a host or a date for their B-set, and it had to be cancelled. The A-set had to be hosted at a local hotel.
  • Tournament attendance dropped spectacularly. Sixteen (16) teams at Triton Spring this year, compared to last year's twenty-four (24). Thirteen (13) teams at Triton Winter this year, compared to last year's twenty-five (25). Most regular season tournaments struggled to break twenty (20) teams.
  • The already-small Los Angeles tournaments suffered even more when San Diego schools were too burnt out to make the drive up.
  • Matt's aforementioned point rings loud and clear - near the end of the season, tournaments were just the same handful of schools with virtually zero outreach.
Much more later from me after our Asian Championships concludes on Sunday, but on the matter of NHBB in SoCal, the issue was not lack of interest - we had a large amount of interest from competing teams (and both Whitney and Arcadia, not to mention Kevin Li from Westview winning USGO, did extremely well at our Nationals), but rather an inability to get a host, which has been far more of an issue for us in SoCal than anywhere else. Fortunately, Whitney is likely to host again next year, and with our new system of regional coordination in place (likewise, see forthcoming post), we should certainly be able to have 3 SoCal regional events at schools next year.
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Re: Resetting [pt. 2 of 6]: How Much Quizbowl Does a Man Nee

Post by The Stately Rhododendron » Fri Jun 12, 2015 3:55 pm

I brought this up earlier, but I think that (at least in the DMV circuit) a solution to this is having all the teams cooperate on the schedule before any dates are set. A lot of the problems with too many tournaments that are too close together is that there's no communication between teams on what would be the best way to host tournaments in the region. Because teams see tournaments as primarily a way to raise money, they will just arbitrarily set dates and grab tournaments (sometimes before they've cleared the dates with their school!). I think that the co-hosting Matt talks about is an excellent idea, and that cooperation between teams should be the norm, and extend beyond staffing/providing rooms and also include recruitment (sharing e-mail lists, for example).
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Re: Resetting [pt. 2 of 6]: How Much Quizbowl Does a Man Nee

Post by cchiego » Fri Jun 12, 2015 4:21 pm

This is a good post. But based on the incentives, I don't see these problems getting resolved next year or in the future.
mbjackson wrote:What's more, lot of state-specific writing work (e.g. for VHSL, Masonics, OAC, etc.) is reduplicative, and could be streamlined by use of a single State Championships set of the sort HSAPQ has been looking to generate, or by switching the multi-tier state championship over to NAQT questions as Alabama (ASCA), Georgia (GATA), and Missouri (MSHSAA) have done.
The problem with state sets is that there's often pushback from state orgs or local leagues that demand fresh questions out of a (sometimes hypocritical when their current format has verbatim repeats from previous years!) concern for question integrity. While these concerns are mostly unfounded, it's worth thinking about the dangers that arise as fewer sets get mirrored in wider ranges of time at more locations. I really liked it in the past when there was a narrower mirror window for a set--now it seems these sets are free to be mirrored anytime over a year (or longer!) and we have to rely on trust to ensure that some kind of protopals-esque shenanigans don't occur. And it may pay off to get more state-level quizbowl alliances in place that might be capable of producing questions to meet local needs.
Beatlefan11 wrote:I'm going to chime in here with a related point: a given team does not have to go to all that many events to be a "good" quizbowl school. As the community has structured it, it's perfectly reasonable for a less committed school to study some, attend 4-6 local events a year, play the state format when applicable, and perhaps attend a national. From an outreach perspective that's a success. As a circuit, choose which three or four tournaments you want to use for outreach (easier sets are better) and really sell those and bring in all the local staff you can. There's no need to overwhelm any new team with a complex buffet of constant events and sets with strange names.
This really needs to be emphasized more. The problem is, every individual host (or organization in some cases) wants to maximize its revenue, so they flood the circuit with invitations and novice or occasional attendees have a hard time figuring out which ones to go to. It's in the interest of the community, I think, to establish norms about which tournaments are "must attends" and what coaches who are starting a team should expect. Of course, if a team wants to be nationally competitive, it's probably in their interest to play more tournaments, but I'd like to see fewer occasional teams (those who attend 1, maybe 2 events a year) and more of these teams who attend 4-6 events throughout the year.
mbjackson wrote:Also, as I understand it, every major question vendor company fixes the number of sets that it writes pretty much in stone each year based on expected demand, and all are trying to make a profit. So it's similarly unrealistic to ask existing vendors to cut back for the sake of the community, as that will be an immediate revenue loss for them unless and until a broader transformation occurs in how large or closely-spaced (or both) tournaments become in the future.
This is a problem and I think it would be nice to hear from the major producers and commissioners on how they're planning on addressing this problem on both the writing and hosting sides. NHBB producing 3 sets of HS questions seems to be a little much, especially when the tournaments run on those already tend to be small (I'd be curious in the total number of events vs. events that attracted 16+ teams), collapse before they actually take place, or run so badly that it turns local teams off from it/quizbowl. Also, NAQT adding the SSNCT as a separate set as well as some other sets that seem to be taxing the limits of capacity for the writer pool.
The Stately Rhododendron wrote:Because teams see tournaments as primarily a way to raise money, they will just arbitrarily set dates and grab tournaments (sometimes before they've cleared the dates with their school!). I think that the co-hosting Matt talks about is an excellent idea, and that cooperation between teams should be the norm, and extend beyond staffing/providing rooms and also include recruitment (sharing e-mail lists, for example).
One of the nice things about having this forum is that you can use it to publicly call out teams. So let's do that! If you see bad behavior like this, feel free to raise the question here. Same with organizations behaving badly. A useful feature of state quizbowl alliances and such is that you can also exercise some amount of control over these problems and alert other teams to problematic/less trustworthy hosts. I fully plan on doing that in the Greater Pennsylvania area next year.
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Re: Resetting [pt. 2 of 6]: How Much Quizbowl Does a Man Nee

Post by djones » Fri Jun 12, 2015 5:10 pm

As one of the few crazy coaches who does actually take a team to tournaments just about every weekend, I can speak to some of your points Matt.

While I in no way doubt that there is a shortage of good writers to produce sets, I am actually fairly happy that there are 31 sets available throughout the year. This allows me take my young players to play, for instance, SCOP Novice or an A-set, while holding back the IS sets, HSAPQ sets, and established housewrites for tournaments where Sam plays. I for one can say that the ability to do that is what has allowed me to grow my team in terms of getting the younger players playing time. Taking my new freshman to play Prison Bowl or GSAC against Solon, Sidney, DCC or others who frequent the midwest circuit in my opinion is unproductive. There aren't enough new teams that attend those events to give my younger, less competitive students meaningful games (not to mention that the set may be too difficult). While there is something to be said of a buttkicking, taking 8 of them over 10 rounds is more likely to turn a kid off then playing a tournament that may not be the best written tournament ever, but also is likely to draw a less experienced (or non-elite) field.

In terms of state specific things, there are very few Ohio tournament that use pyramidal OAC questions like we write for our event and are used at regionals and state in Ohio, so we try to attend as few of those events as possible (aside from paying back coaches who come to our tournament). Therefore, I don't see local/state format events taking up more than a week or two of our schedule ever. While we don't have an Illinois situation in Ohio with events every weekend, we are a team that goes to Illinois (in addition to NC, TX, MI, IN, KY and other states each year) to play sets that aren't available here. The competition is better in other places, and it gives us an opportunity to play different teams. We happen to be in the one part of Ohio where no tournaments are held outside of ours and Tippecanoe (with Sidney's coach leaving, I am excluding them since they likely won't host next year). We have a 3 hour drive to Cleveland to play, or could spend those 3 hours driving to Lexington, KY, Detroit, Culver, Charleston, or other places. Could Ohio survive with 15 events, sure, but I also think that the lack of playing is why all but 8-10 teams in the state aren't any good every year.

Looking at our team for next year, we have a group that has some experience (only one player with 2 years), but not a whole lot, has lived in Sam Blizzard's shadow for four years. In my eyes, this group isn't good enough to play ACF regionals, Penn Bowl, or some of the things we played this year to fill our schedule, so we need high school tournaments a lot of weekends in order to grow and develop into the team I know they can be. Now, are we one of the handful of teams you mentioned who would actually care and would be impacted by a reduced schedule, absolutely. Outside of DCC, I don't think any team in the country has a schedule like we do, but I do count on being able to play most weekends as part of my team development.

So what is my solution? I'm not sure I have one. I recognize that the problem you discussed is real and we saw in Ohio specifically this year with FKT what happens when a writer or team of writers overcommits themselves. (obviously on a much smaller scale than what happened with Matt). But in terms of the list of tournaments you listed, MOST were fairly well written tournaments that didn't have many flaws. While the good of the quiz bowl community as a whole might be benefited by having a pool of writers focus on X number of sets, I don't think asking school Z who produced a decent set last year to not write anymore (and subsequently give up money that they could make to travel to events) is the best option. Looking long term, as people graduate from high school and a pool of new students have to decide whether to continue writing a set (I look at RM as a perfect example this year since most (or all) of the writers were seniors) or Ladue in the past, maybe that set goes away in lieu of a mirror. But I for one think that my development of players would suffer, even if just a little bit, by having the number of available tournaments significantly reduced.
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Re: Resetting [pt. 2 of 6]: How Much Quizbowl Does a Man Nee

Post by RexSueciae » Fri Jun 12, 2015 5:35 pm

I agree broadly with the idea that it's a bad idea on its face for people to be producing more question sets just because it sounds like a good way to raise funds / acquire prestige / learn knowledge / have fun. However, I'm not quite sure about the math on how many question sets total currently exist, or whether this is currently a pressing issue.
Matthew J wrote:For high school:If you had one high school set to be played every OTHER week of the year from mid-September through April, you would need fifteen question sets total.
Matthew J wrote:Now let's count out the number of regional sets that actually existed this year for high school alone, and then the number of championships:
NAQT Regular: IS-138, IS-140, IS-142, IS-144, IS-146
NAQT Introductory: IS-137A, IS-139A, IS-141A, IS-143A, IS-145A (not used in all circuits; made largely from TV material)
HSAPQ: Tournament-52, VHSL Series (State Series)
Housewrites Regular-and-Up: BISB, HFT, GSAC, Potatoville, VTACO, BHSAT, HERMES, Prison Bowl
Housewrites Introductory: SCOP Novice
NHB Regionals: Set C, Set B, Set A, US History Regional Set (not counting the written quizzes)
Championships: NHBB Nats (US Bee/Geo Olympiad/Bee/Bowl), SSNCT, HSNCT, PACE NSC, NASAT
State-Specific / Not Widely Mirrored: Scobol Solo, OAC, Masonic Sectionals, Masonic State, Right Triangle Open, KAAC, etc. etc.
Held Over from Last Spring: BELLOCO, Maryland Spring

Assuming a school can exist only in one state and only plays one state-specific event, it was theoretically possible to send a team to 31 quizbowl and History Bowl weekends -- potentially more if there are more state-specific events. That number shrinks somewhat (to 25) if we assume the team is not a novice team and the person playing SCOP, A-sets, etc. is not also playing NASAT. But it grows again if tournaments run on college sets such as DII SCT, DII ICT, MUT, and (for this year, at least) ACF Fall and Regionals are added to the mix, or if the state series takes multiple weekends to play.
Where are you getting this number of 25 (or 31)? There are five regular difficulty NAQT sets and 8 "regular-and-up" housewrites, plus the NHBB A set, the HSAPQ tournament and the state series. Disregarded are the lower-difficulty NAQT A sets, SCOP Novice, NHB C, NHB B, and the US History Regional set, which could theoretically be played by non-novice teams but usually aren't. Also disregarded are the nationals, which come after the hypothetical mid-September through April time limit, the two held-over sets which people ought to have played last year, and the state-specific competitions of varying legitimacy and quality.

That's fifteen. This past year, it looks like the community had precisely the right number of question sets available for them--subtract maybe two or three of the newer housewrites which may not have been mirrored in their region, and add one of the held-over sets or a state-specific tournament, and we're well within the proposed cap of fifteen regular difficulty question sets per year. It would do well to remember these things for the future and make sure that total output doesn't exceed an arbitrary limit, but I don't think that this past year was an example of quizbowl oversaturation. (Please correct me if I've counted wrong, or mistakenly mischaracterized a question set.)
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Re: Resetting [pt. 2 of 6]: How Much Quizbowl Does a Man Nee

Post by jonpin » Fri Jun 12, 2015 5:58 pm

The Stately Rhododendron wrote:I brought this up earlier, but I think that (at least in the DMV circuit) a solution to this is having all the teams cooperate on the schedule before any dates are set. A lot of the problems with too many tournaments that are too close together is that there's no communication between teams on what would be the best way to host tournaments in the region. Because teams see tournaments as primarily a way to raise money, they will just arbitrarily set dates and grab tournaments (sometimes before they've cleared the dates with their school!). I think that the co-hosting Matt talks about is an excellent idea, and that cooperation between teams should be the norm, and extend beyond staffing/providing rooms and also include recruitment (sharing e-mail lists, for example).
Because that's what they are!
It's easy to say "Hey, the NJ/NY region is glutted, we don't need any new tournaments" but my school gives me a budget of precisely $0, and I already ask my students to pay hundreds of dollars for nationals trips. The only way we can go to even half the tournaments in our circuit without breaking the bank for my students and their parents is to host a tournament of our own. This becomes a vicious cycle.
The co-hosting suggestion is a reasonable idea, though it's only really helpful when the limiting reagent is staff, as opposed to physical space or buzzers (presumably if Team X is able to bring N buzzer systems to help co-host a tournament, its also willing to bring most of those systems for a discount at a tournament they are playing in).
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Re: Resetting [pt. 2 of 6]: How Much Quizbowl Does a Man Nee

Post by Milhouse » Fri Jun 12, 2015 7:00 pm

Matthew J wrote:US History Regional Set
These were all on weekdays, I believe.
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Re: Resetting [pt. 2 of 6]: How Much Quizbowl Does a Man Nee

Post by AKKOLADE » Fri Jun 12, 2015 7:04 pm

Xochiquetzal wrote:
Matthew J wrote:US History Regional Set
These were all on weekdays, I believe.
I'm not sure that "not only does it take up weekends, but it also takes up weekdays!" does much to refute a point.
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Re: Resetting [pt. 2 of 6]: How Much Quizbowl Does a Man Nee

Post by The Stately Rhododendron » Fri Jun 12, 2015 7:29 pm

jonpin wrote:
The Stately Rhododendron wrote:I brought this up earlier, but I think that (at least in the DMV circuit) a solution to this is having all the teams cooperate on the schedule before any dates are set. A lot of the problems with too many tournaments that are too close together is that there's no communication between teams on what would be the best way to host tournaments in the region. Because teams see tournaments as primarily a way to raise money, they will just arbitrarily set dates and grab tournaments (sometimes before they've cleared the dates with their school!). I think that the co-hosting Matt talks about is an excellent idea, and that cooperation between teams should be the norm, and extend beyond staffing/providing rooms and also include recruitment (sharing e-mail lists, for example).
Because that's what they are!
It's easy to say "Hey, the NJ/NY region is glutted, we don't need any new tournaments" but my school gives me a budget of precisely $0, and I already ask my students to pay hundreds of dollars for nationals trips. The only way we can go to even half the tournaments in our circuit without breaking the bank for my students and their parents is to host a tournament of our own. This becomes a vicious cycle.
The co-hosting suggestion is a reasonable idea, though it's only really helpful when the limiting reagent is staff, as opposed to physical space or buzzers (presumably if Team X is able to bring N buzzer systems to help co-host a tournament, its also willing to bring most of those systems for a discount at a tournament they are playing in).
Yeah, I'm not saying teams shouldn't host tournaments, just that they need to be considerate when scheduling. After all, randomly picking a date that results in a tournament with 12ish teams (or worse: none at all) isn't very beneficial. Perhaps, if teams were to work together, a team that had less money would get to host tournaments that naturally draw bigger crowds (like a novice set, for example) while a richer team could host a tournament with a more niche audience (an SCT mirror or HFT, for example)
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Re: Resetting [pt. 2 of 6]: How Much Quizbowl Does a Man Nee

Post by cchiego » Fri Jun 12, 2015 8:44 pm

The Stately Rhododendron wrote:Perhaps, if teams were to work together, a team that had less money would get to host tournaments that naturally draw bigger crowds (like a novice set, for example) while a richer team could host a tournament with a more niche audience (an SCT mirror or HFT, for example).
The problem is a lot of new teams are more inexperienced at hosting as well. You don't want to push these schools to have big tournaments before they're ready--it's better for them to start with smaller, local tournaments.

What used to happen in the Southeast at least in the late 2000s is that each school would host one big tournament a year and that would bring in a big field with enough $$ to fully fund that school's teams for the year. With smaller fields and more tournaments to attend now though, schools are hosting multiple tournaments a year.

The solution to all this is for hosts--both established programs and newer hosts--to do real outreach and get more schools in the fold. The more schools we have attending, the more $$ to spread around. I think the problem with both established hosts and even new hosts is they just kind of cruise off the well-established teams and don't do much work (in general--there are some exceptions on occasion) to take advantage of local ties and get new schools in the fold.

The problem though is that if you only get a couple of newer teams at a time, especially to a tournament on harder sets with a stacked field, it's a really bad experience for them and they're not likely to come back. It might behoove more hosts to look into explicit "JV" or "newcomer" divisions, if not whole tournaments on SCOP/IS-A sets devoted entirely to new and less experienced players (this also means that good teams/players should try to refrain from playing on those sets if at all possible).
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Re: Resetting [pt. 2 of 6]: How Much Quizbowl Does a Man Nee

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Mon Jun 15, 2015 10:06 am

It has been the view of quizbowl's ruling elites for a while now that there are too many tournaments, especially at the high school level, and that fewer things should be written to raise the overall quality of things being written. Matt Jackson articulates this view well. Matt Weiner has articulated it less diplomatically at various times in the past.

How do you guys square this with the fact that quizbowl requires writing to survive? Telling people who want to write questions that they shouldn't seems detrimental, given that several of Matt Jackson's other threads are specifically about how too few people write all the questions. In my view we should celebrate the fact that there are people who want to write questions every day and people who want to play tournaments every week. People like that keep the activity alive.

At the very least, if your view is to clamp down on tournaments, make it easier for some random dude at a non-powerhouse school who wants to write questions to get involved in NAQT, NHBB, HSAPQ, or something else where he can contribute questions towards an officially sanctioned tournament. We might need that random dude to edit ACF Nationals in eight years.
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Re: Resetting [pt. 2 of 6]: How Much Quizbowl Does a Man Nee

Post by Adventure Temple Trail » Mon Jun 15, 2015 10:15 am

Skepticism and Animal Feed wrote:make it easier for some random dude at a non-powerhouse school who wants to write questions to get involved in NAQT, NHBB, HSAPQ, or something else where he can contribute questions towards an officially sanctioned tournament. We might need that random dude to edit ACF Nationals in eight years.
Sorry if I wasn't clear enough about this in the OP, but I very much agree with this. What's more, there are often underexplored opportunities for "random dude" to contribute to existing sets to relieve the burden on currently-small writing teams for indepedent sets (such as a set written only by five people attending the same high school).
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Re: Resetting [pt. 2 of 6]: How Much Quizbowl Does a Man Nee

Post by alexdz » Mon Jun 15, 2015 11:04 am

This advice may seem obvious, but I think it bears stating: If you are head editor of a set and you run across someone who is interested in writing but you think they need guidance before diving into their own tournament, invite them to work with you, even if it's just on a small portion of the set. Obviously this is not always possible at all times of year, but especially early on, this kind of outreach to budding writers can help bring people into the fold. I invited a ton of new writers to work on SAGES this year and there were some really creative and solid submissions that I definitely couldn't have written on my own. I hope to bring in even more people to work on next year's set, especially because I need an infusion of creativity after having stared at this year's answers and questions so much.

The process of being invited to start small and slow was the biggest benefit to me of participating in the writing of CN/ICCS and PADAWAN - I had experienced writers and editors helping me ease into the writing scene. Now, without CMST, there doesn't seem to be much in the way of independently-produced collaborative sets at lower (HS/MS) levels. That's probably OK, but it does leave a gap where writers could make a contribution.
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Re: Resetting [pt. 2 of 6]: How Much Quizbowl Does a Man Nee

Post by Chimalpahin Quauhtlehuanitzin » Mon Jun 15, 2015 11:19 am

Many sets by newer or untested writers are not as good as they could be if efforts were combined; in the event that a set by a newer or untested writer is actually good, fewer people get to see that it's good and promote that writer's work in the future.
Just to add to that very important point from Matt's original post (and Alex's post as well now):
Collaboration in writing housewritten high school sets can take two very general forms: an equal partnership in terms of questions written when there are some experienced editors and writers on both or multiple ends, or an unequal partnership when there are not so many experienced people involved in one or more collaborating groups. Completely untested/"developing" HS writers or groups of writers who want to help write part of an already-established (with experienced editors and at least some experienced writers) housewritten set they won't be playing can submit freelance packet(s), or, if the editors have enough time, they can submit fewer questions in small chunks and get in-depth feedback as they do so, which helps both the player and the circuit but depends on how much spare time the editors have. Most current housewritten sets fall into the second category, where different people write different amounts of the set and there are experienced writers in at least one of multiple groups.

Both types of collaboration can and do work, and more inexperienced writers should probably ask to join existing projects instead of writing completely new (not replacing anything) sets. That said, there is definitely a point where there are too many writers and not enough editors, or too many of both, and so the quality of the resulting set becomes uneven or even poor, so housewrite editors should generally keep both of those numbers in check. This other Matt post on that topic is pretty good: http://www.hsquizbowl.org/forums/viewto ... 38#p250308, and I'd say that a max of 3-5 experienced, committed editors and less than 5 other major and minor contributors for a total of about <10 people should keep quality high, minor contributors happy, and result in few set-damaging quality issues. Editors should definitely be wary about these kinds of submissions/this kind of help and how it affects writing timetables and set quality, but as high school writers graduate, there are often not many people to replace them in editing housewrites (while college/graduated writers are busy managing everything), and so making a more experienced writer out of an inexperienced one would help keep the housewrite alive for a longer time and maybe even help relieve college writers in the long run. Considering that there are around 10 sets annually (all the housewrites, Scobol Solo) that are effectively open to anyone trying to get into writing and already have experienced editors, this (and NHBB and HSAPQ if it actually needs more writers) really should provide enough opportunities for all the interested unaffiliated HS writers to learn more about writing sets and have their questions used in those sets.

Also, many high school sets need significant help with spellchecking, packetizing, and other feng shui issues (once a majority of questions are written) in at least their initial versions, so HS players (and any others) that have a significant amount but not a lot of time could definitely help with those sorts of issues. This is quite important, and the onus is on both the interested helpers and on the set writers to ask others for help if they need it, which I'm not sure happens as much as it needs to, and could easily improve housewrite quality.

I'm not saying that these interested but inexperienced writers should just give up the idea of writing completely to help assemble sets together, but that maybe they should do a combination of 1. submitting increasing amounts of freelance material to housewrite editors 2. trying to work for the question vendors and 3. assembling/helping assemble sets and polishing them to get the full writing experience instead of just doing one of the three and starting a new housewrite when they are unable to write for usage, for example. The other alternative to all of this is just writing for themselves for later use and routinely using ACF feedback and other outlets to get slower improvement and waiting until they're 18 to write for NAQT or otherwise in college to write for PADAWAN or whatever the college-writer training project becomes. This last option depends on if the writer has the patience and time to wait intermittently between feedback and writing times from their own schedules and also until they graduate, and is still viable (I did it, for one).
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Re: Resetting [pt. 2 of 6]: How Much Quizbowl Does a Man Nee

Post by theMoMA » Mon Jun 15, 2015 12:46 pm

On the college side of things, I think the coordination issue is much easier to overcome. I've suggested before that a central authority composed of community figures could certify events and coordinate their scheduling. This would proceed much as the informal scheduling does now: first, blocking off the weekends for ACF's three tournaments and NAQT's two, then blocking off the weekends for returning events, then filling (or even helping to coordinate) the remaining weekends. The participants in this organization could have regional responsibilities; they could each work with a few regions (with which they're familiar) to ensure a sensible schedule in all parts of the country. There could be separate scheduling tracks for tournaments aimed at novices, such as Delta Burke or collegiate novice tournaments, which can likely be scheduled at around the same time as other events. In-season opens should also be included.

The authority would essentially standardize what is now the informal "regular season." It could have cool stats tools that would allow people to see "regular season PPG" or W-L records, and stuff like that. It could keep track of career wins and points (and go back in time to preserve historical records and piece together old "regular seasons," like sabermaticians have done with baseball's historical records). The benefit of having all this recordkeeping is pretty clear: we'd know much more about what happens during the season, and what has happened in previous seasons.

I wouldn't propose any sort of punishment for events that take place outside of this system. I think the carrot of having centralized, authoritative records of performance during the "regular season" is reward enough that all actors--host teams, playing teams, and writers--would largely fall into line. If a rogue team or other group of writers were annoyed about being pinched out of writing their event, they'd be free to write their event and hope that people played it (or more ideally, to collaborate with an existing team of writers, or write a tournament for the summer/next year). It just wouldn't count as a "standard, regular-season event," and it wouldn't show up on the regular-season records or stats.

The coordination problems with implementing something like this in the high school game are likely too large to overcome. But in the college game, where the group of people who write, host, and compete in tournaments is fairly self-contained and has similar attitudes and goals, I don't see any reason that a dedicated push couldn't result in something like this coming to fruition, for everyone's benefit.
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Re: Resetting [pt. 2 of 6]: How Much Quizbowl Does a Man Nee

Post by Rococo A Go Go » Mon Jun 15, 2015 1:12 pm

theMoMA wrote:I wouldn't propose any sort of punishment for events that take place outside of this system. I think the carrot of having centralized, authoritative records of performance during the "regular season" is reward enough that all actors--host teams, playing teams, and writers--would largely fall into line. If a rogue team or other group of writers were annoyed about being pinched out of writing their event, they'd be free to write their event and hope that people played it (or more ideally, to collaborate with an existing team of writers, or write a tournament for the summer/next year). It just wouldn't count as a "standard, regular-season event," and it wouldn't show up on the regular-season records or stats.

The coordination problems with implementing something like this in the high school game are likely too large to overcome. But in the college game, where the group of people who write, host, and compete in tournaments is fairly self-contained and has similar attitudes and goals, I don't see any reason that a dedicated push couldn't result in something like this coming to fruition, for everyone's benefit.
At the high school level, I think this can be done at the state level to some extent. KQBA rolled out the Goldenrod Cup this year, not only as a competition meant to encourage teams to attend many events and reward teams for being both consistently active and competitive, but also as a way to basically affiliate with existing events and get everybody on the same page in terms of question quality, scheduling, and format. This year we essentially limited ourselves to affiliating with current events and keeping track of finishes, and then giving Woodford County a trophy at the end of the year for finishing first. Next year we may be able to go into more detail with record keeping, and we also hope to engage in a more coordinated fashion with tournament hosts who aren't directly involved in KQBA, although this is less of an issue since KQBA members already have a role in most of the events.
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Re: Resetting [pt. 2 of 6]: How Much Quizbowl Does a Man Nee

Post by Deviant Insider » Mon Jun 15, 2015 5:39 pm

I think this is the most important thread in the series, even though I have some disagreements with the original post, and I think Vasa made a good point.

I don't think we need to decrease the number of sets being produced, and I think we should encourage housewrites when people are interested in writing them. We don't need to increase the number of sets, but housewrites come and go, so one or two new ones a year is a good thing if those sets are good.

A lot of the people who are currently stressed out are the people who work on the big-name sets. NHBB and HSAPQ are recovering from the crisis that precipitated this series. NAQT, ACF, and PACE, though less directly impacted, were impacted both directly and indirectly, and NAQT always needs a massive number of questions in any year. People involved in those organizations spent the last few months looking at the fact that hundreds of questions needed to be written and edited, and things never got ahead of schedule. If any of those organizations dropped a major obligation, it would have been a big blow for the organization and quizbowl--hopefully, the only casualty is Collegiate History Bowl. It's been said before, but it bears repeating--if you want to reduce the stress of people working hard on quizbowl so that they can work more on outreach or just be happier people, help those organizations by writing questions for them.

Housewrites are a very important part of this community because they allow people to play 18-20 tournaments a year without relying on those same companies, which really means the same group of writers and editors, to produce even more questions. Housewrites by their nature are uneven in quality. Though the community overall has been generally lucky with what they have gotten from high school students making an initial effort, there have been cases where things haven't worked out. Generally, using a new housewrite feels like being on a high wire without a net--the TD hopes to get the questions a few days before the tournament and have them at least be good enough to not piss people off, often with no Plan B. Maybe we as a community should talk about what we can do to add a little safety into the experience. I think the PACE Questions Set Certification program started off with that goal, but the timing generally doesn't work out well enough to help TDs. Looking at the four questions Matt thinks that housewrites should ask themselves, I think they are all good questions, but I think the middle two are more important than the other two--it is your responsibility to make sure your set is a quality set.

I write some of the least-mirrored question sets, and the time I spend on them takes away from my time writing for NAQT and promoting quizbowl. I can get into those details if people care.

As to some of the points raised in this thread...

Circuits with lots of tournaments need somebody to organize a calendar. In May-September, that person needs to reach out to anybody who might be hosting a tournament and pin them down on when that tournament will be. Get people who want the same date to talk to each other. Get the calendar in front of eyes so that tournaments on the calendar are helped and tournaments not on the calendar are hindered. When IHSSBCA started, one of the reasons people joined was to get our newsletter with a calendar in it--quizbowl had little internet presence at that time. Even though it has more of a presence now, a lot of teams/coaches are not looking at it.

Also, I don't mean to show off by saying this, but teams with a wide variety of commitment levels co-exist in Illinois. There are about 200 teams that just play a conference schedule and the IHSA Tournament. There are about 150 that just do that much and Masonics. There are another 100 that do slightly more than that. There are another 30-40 that do significantly more than the basics but which are far from playing every weekend. There are about 10-20 that are really hardcore. The IHSSBCA Kickoffs, New Trier Varsity, and other tournaments draw teams that know they won't be bringing home a trophy but want to play some quizbowl. Of course, not every customer returns, but we tend to pick up more than we lose. We did go through a phase where it seemed like the best tournaments only attracted the same twelve teams, but over time things got better, in part because some tournaments converted from poor question quality to good questions.
David Reinstein
PACE VP of Outreach, Head Writer and Editor for Scobol Solo and Masonics (Illinois), TD for New Trier Scobol Solo and New Trier Varsity, Writer for NAQT (2011-2017), IHSSBCA Board Member, IHSSBCA Chair (2004-2014), PACE Member, PACE President (2016-2018), New Trier Coach (1994-2011)

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Re: Resetting [pt. 2 of 6]: How Much Quizbowl Does a Man Nee

Post by cvdwightw » Mon Jun 22, 2015 6:06 pm

So I've thought about this a little bit, and I have brainstormed some potential solutions, some or none of which may be useful:

To the issue of "too many announced housewrites, too few played housewrites": having PACE set up a national "Independent Series" distribution network by which a PACE member works with a specific housewrite team, recruits additional contributors (teams and/or freelancers, especially inexperienced writers), sets and maintains ridiculously front-loaded completion deadlines to ensure that the SET GETS DONE, and uses PACE's more expansive network (compared to a traditional housewrite team of one or two schools) to identify targeted mirror sites. PACE is ideally suited for this because just about every one of its members is plugged into a local circuit, it has no interest in competing in the regular-season question market, and it has a name that can convey legitimacy and consistency.

To the issue of "we're reaching the point where overindulgence in quizbowl is not healthy for the circuit": running the same set in multiple places within the same general "circuit" on different weekends. For obvious reasons this is not possible with NAQT's sets since they sell "geographic exclusivity" licenses, but this is eminently doable with independent sets. To give an example of how this might work, suppose that Rancho Bernardo hosts a tournament in San Diego on a given packet set on one weekend in October, and Arcadia hosts on the same set on a later weekend. This gives teams in the greater Southern California area two chances to play the set, which they select based on player availability and location. It also "artificially" decreases the number of events in the year, while still allowing for the possibility of having a quizbowl tournament somewhere in the region every weekend. This is sort of along the lines of MattJ's "granularity" argument, with the main difference that teams don't have to feel like they're "missing out" on a packet set because they have non-negotiable commitments that weekend.

Another possible solution is to run weekend or weeknight "mini-tournaments" and aggressively market them to teams close to the site of the mini-tournament. One of the biggest complaints I heard from "casual teams" back when I was more active was that they want to play more tournaments, but they can't get enough people to commit for a full day of quizbowl. Using some creative scheduling, we might be able to bring more "casual" teams back into the fold.

Everyone who regularly participates on this board is not (or at least, not any longer) a "casual" participant, which means that we often don't have the right viewpoint for answering questions like "how do I market my tournament" or "why doesn't this team come to more tournaments". So talk to people that aren't your quizbowl friends - teammates, casual teams at other tournaments, people who are intellectually curious but have never heard of quizbowl. Remember that the only two set-in-stone ideals of "mainstream quizbowl" are (1) a set of questions that distinguishes between teams at all levels (through pyramidal tossups and progressive-difficulty bonuses) and (2) a tournament format that more-or-less fairly ranks all teams in order of finish (through things like pooled round-robin play). Outside of this, you're pretty much free to run your tournament however you want - why not let some of the more "casual" teams suggest ways to make your tournament more attractive to them?
Dwight Wynne
socalquizbowl.org
UC Irvine 2008-2013; UCLA 2004-2007; Capistrano Valley High School 2000-2003

"It's a competition, but it's not a sport. On a scale, if football is a 10, then rowing would be a two. One would be Quiz Bowl." --Matt Birk on rowing, SI On Campus, 10/21/03

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Re: Resetting [pt. 2 of 6]: How Much Quizbowl Does a Man Nee

Post by Important Bird Area » Mon Jun 22, 2015 6:29 pm

cvdwightw wrote:running the same set in multiple places within the same general "circuit" on different weekends. For obvious reasons this is not possible with NAQT's sets since they sell "geographic exclusivity" licenses
This isn't quite how geographic exclusivity works. It's fine to host the same NAQT set twice in the same local area, but both tds have to agree to the arrangement.
Jeff Hoppes
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Re: Resetting [pt. 2 of 6]: How Much Quizbowl Does a Man Nee

Post by at your pleasure » Tue Jun 23, 2015 1:59 am

cvdwightw wrote:So I've thought about this a little bit, and I have brainstormed some potential solutions, some or none of which may be useful:

To the issue of "too many announced housewrites, too few played housewrites": having PACE set up a national "Independent Series" distribution network by which a PACE member works with a specific housewrite team, recruits additional contributors (teams and/or freelancers, especially inexperienced writers), sets and maintains ridiculously front-loaded completion deadlines to ensure that the SET GETS DONE, and uses PACE's more expansive network (compared to a traditional housewrite team of one or two schools) to identify targeted mirror sites. PACE is ideally suited for this because just about every one of its members is plugged into a local circuit, it has no interest in competing in the regular-season question market, and it has a name that can convey legitimacy and consistency.

Another possible solution is to run weekend or weeknight "mini-tournaments" and aggressively market them to teams close to the site of the mini-tournament. One of the biggest complaints I heard from "casual teams" back when I was more active was that they want to play more tournaments, but they can't get enough people to commit for a full day of quizbowl. Using some creative scheduling, we might be able to bring more "casual" teams back into the fold.

Everyone who regularly participates on this board is not (or at least, not any longer) a "casual" participant, which means that we often don't have the right viewpoint for answering questions like "how do I market my tournament" or "why doesn't this team come to more tournaments". So talk to people that aren't your quizbowl friends - teammates, casual teams at other tournaments, people who are intellectually curious but have never heard of quizbowl. Remember that the only two set-in-stone ideals of "mainstream quizbowl" are (1) a set of questions that distinguishes between teams at all levels (through pyramidal tossups and progressive-difficulty bonuses) and (2) a tournament format that more-or-less fairly ranks all teams in order of finish (through things like pooled round-robin play). Outside of this, you're pretty much free to run your tournament however you want - why not let some of the more "casual" teams suggest ways to make your tournament more attractive to them?
With mini-tournaments, do you have in mind something more like a slightly compressed league play on a regular-season set or a condensed or split-up version of a regular tournament(e.g. play 5 rounds of prelims one afternoon, with 10 teams and then one crossover finals).
Douglas Graebner, Walt Whitman HS 10, Uchicago 14
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