Odds of NAQT producing more sets per year

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Odds of NAQT producing more sets per year

Post by quizbowllee » Mon May 16, 2016 2:30 pm

I was just wondering if there is any chance that NAQT might try to increase the number of sets they produce next year and in the future? I don't know if demand for packets is so high everywhere else, but I know that several teams have wanted to use NAQT sets in Alabama for the past few years, only to find out that every single set had already been claimed for a nearby event.

I know of at least four tournaments this academic year that would've used NAQT packets if more had been available. I also know that a few "new" teams are planning to host tournaments next year and THINK that they are going to be able to secure a set from NAQT. I haven't had the heart to tell them yet that the odds of doing so are slim.

While it might not make monetary sense to NAQT to produce more sets if this is an issue unique to one state, it would seem that if demand is this high in other places, then it would be crazy for them not to capitalize on the opportunity to sell more questions.

Are other states or regions having this issue?
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Re: Odds of NAQT producing more sets per year

Post by ryanrosenberg » Mon May 16, 2016 2:58 pm

Generally, other circuits avoid this issue by running tournaments on non-NAQT questions.
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Re: Odds of NAQT producing more sets per year

Post by quizbowllee » Mon May 16, 2016 3:06 pm

Granny Soberer wrote:Generally, other circuits avoid this issue by running tournaments on non-NAQT questions.
Yes. And that's what teams here have done.

However, we tend to prefer NAQT questions. And, tournaments run on non-NAQT questions tend to have lower participation in our area. Personally, I am much more likely to attend an event run on NAQT questions than any other. I'm not here to debate the merits of NAQT vs. a good house-written tournament, etc. I am simply asking whether NAQT might be able and/or willing to to meet the large demand that our state has for their product.
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Re: Odds of NAQT producing more sets per year

Post by Monstruos de Bolsillo » Mon May 16, 2016 4:28 pm

I have also wondered this, given that of the 5 A-sets and 5 IS sets produced each year, one is automatically earmarked for the respective state championship of a particular state, while the first A-set of the year (at least in the PA region) is used extensively in many leagues around the state, rendering it almost impossible to have a well-attended tournament in PA on that set. That leaves 8 sets to go around. While there are other harder NAQT options, I would think that they would not be viable for a vast majority of teams in PA.

Perhaps they could make a set or two that aimed for a difficulty in between those of an A-set and an IS set. It seems like it would allow for a more gradual increase in difficulty that might benefit newer teams, while also challenging established teams a bit more.

The other problem is our proximity to neighboring, well-established circuits. These circuit, while not only stronger, have more tournaments, and those tournaments are usually quite large, and have been running for years. I feel like this hurts both players and hosts, as it takes away more opportunities to play from the players, and hosts lose out on money they could have gotten from a larger field.

I would be very curious to see what, if any, barriers are in place that would make this unfeasible.
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Re: Odds of NAQT producing more sets per year

Post by TheDoctor » Mon May 16, 2016 6:17 pm

With apologies to NAQT, who I know work very hard as a group to produce as many sets as they already do, their sets the past couple of years have been so obviously quickly produced at such a loss to overall quality that I just can't see a justification for calling for them to produce more annual sets. While I no longer write for them and can only speculate, their sets feel rushed and I suspect they're straining to put out what they've already got. If we're going to assume that that isn't the case and ask that they put more resources into set production, it would be nice if they could spend that energy on ensuring difficulty and quality control on the sets that already exist.
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Re: Odds of NAQT producing more sets per year

Post by Chimalpahin Quauhtlehuanitzin » Tue May 17, 2016 1:08 am

The high demand for current NAQT sets is normal in various circuits. Even in a "B- circuit" (http://www.hsquizbowl.org/forums/viewto ... =6&t=17581) like Tennessee, the NAQT sets that are used get claimed reasonably early on and tournaments that are formulated and/or announced later have a small chance of getting an A set, for example, whereas later IS sets don't get claimed (on a Grand Division basis) as quickly or played by as many teams. This doesn't mean that there's a high demand for more NAQT sets; while most coaches in Tennessee have a long history of playing on or hosting using NAQT sets, housewrites are reasonably common in Middle and West Tennessee (Charlie also used many housewrites at UTC) and can easily meet our growing needs.
I also know that a few "new" teams are planning to host tournaments next year and THINK that they are going to be able to secure a set from NAQT. I haven't had the heart to tell them yet that the odds of doing so are slim.
I understand that you don't want to have a debate about the merits of NAQT vs. a good housewrite (probably because you already know both sides), but new hosts probably don't know what you know. It also seems like there could be many experienced programs that don't know a lot about the housewrite side. So, broadly explaining things like "which schools have a history of hosting well-run NAQT tournaments in your region and are likely to get a NAQT set that they ask for", "which housewrites are consistently good and best suit a specific host's needs", and the general points of how housewrites differ from NAQT sets is critical to do in a timely manner! This is clearly more important if the new hosts intend to compete for one or more NAQT sets, train a moderating crew, and/or are hosting that tournament early in the season, etc., but could be equally important for experienced hosts that aren't receptive to using housewrites.
However, we tend to prefer NAQT questions. And, tournaments run on non-NAQT questions tend to have lower participation in our area. Personally, I am much more likely to attend an event run on NAQT questions than any other. I'm not here to debate the merits of NAQT vs. a good house-written tournament, etc. I am simply asking whether NAQT might be able and/or willing to to meet the large demand that our state has for their product.
Just curious- do the housewrite-using tournaments have low attendance because coaches and/or players prefer NAQT sets to good housewrites, or are there confounding factors, like excessive difficulty, poor logistics in the past, slow moderators, etc. involved? I think that these issues, which have plagued many housewrites in the past, have discouraged coaches (not necessarily you, Lee) in many circuits from using housewrites, and that those coaches are too strongly drawn to NAQT. In fact, from some past experiences, I suspect that many coaches are discouraged or maybe don't even host when they can't use an IS or IS-A set, even though there are housewrites available. Again, not to get into the substance of the housewrite vs. NAQT set debate, but I think these issues are worth talking about.

Back to the issue at hand: make the effort to use housewrites! Alabama used only five out of fifteen possible usable housewrites this season! That said, some housewrites would certainly have worked better than others in terms of difficulty and quality. But, you or other hosts/coaches could easily acquire and relay that information to help hosts that don't get to use NAQT sets decide which housewrite is best for them (see response to previous quote). You can always join a private discussion forum, email hosts, or email the editors to see how well any given housewrite played, if it was used before.

In sum, I completely agree with Kristin above. It is quite unreasonable to ask NAQT to write more sets because of some coaches' and some players' preferences when there are so many housewrites available (http://www.hsquizbowl.org/forums/viewto ... =6&t=17454). As a reader during the recent reductions in difficulty and a player before that, I can't help but feel that NAQT desperately needs more people and more time to ensure that quality is maintained throughout the process.
Perhaps they could make a set or two that aimed for a difficulty in between those of an A-set and an IS set.
There are several housewrites that (quantitatively) do this and have done so in the past. Also, Alex, not every IS set is the same difficulty. Yes, State is the hardest IS set, but I think that, between IS-XX8, XX0, XX2, and XX4, there are around 2-3 close but distinct difficulty levels (or, at least, there were last season).
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Re: Odds of NAQT producing more sets per year

Post by quizbowllee » Tue May 17, 2016 9:24 am

This devolved quickly into exactly what I DIDN'T want....

NAQT writes all of our State tournament series: Our district, regional, and state tournaments are all run on NAQT sets. So are our Small School and JV tournaments. Our middle school District and State tournaments are on NAQT sets. Even our ASCA "Fun" Tournament uses NAQT's ROTC set.

So, most teams want to play on NAQT because it's the best practice and representation of our state series.

Also, the fact that Kristin Strey has such criticism towards NAQT makes me feel a bit better for the negative feedback we got from my kids' own house-write. I just vehemently disagree that NAQT's quality has gotten worse. I feel like their questions have gotten better and better every year. They are well-written and accessible. They do a far better job of meeting their stated difficulty level than anyone else does. There are occasionally some eye-rollingly dumb answer lines, but - for the most part - their questions are great.

The tournaments that have been hosted on house-writes have had less attendance, as I said. There are a few reasons:

1) Most house-writes are a little tougher than NAQT's regular sets. While that doesn't bother me and some of the better teams in the state, most of our tournaments in Alabama have at least half of the field that are quite weak.
2) Questions are too long. I don't want to get into a debate about this in this thread. Teams here in Alabama do NOT like 6-8 line tossups and 2-3 line bonus parts. There are merits to long questions, sure. But, it took YEARS to get teams to even accept the length of A-series questions - and many still long for the days of one-line, quick recall questions like "Name the author of <book title>?" or "What is the capital of <country>?" So, long-winded tossups and excessively lengthy bonus parts turn teams off. Schools that are hosting are doing so to make money so they can go to more events. Hosting tournaments on questions that alienate over half the potential clientele isn't helping anyone.
3) Teams want to qualify for SSNCT and HSNCT. Sure, teams can get "wildcard" bids based on performance at non-NAQT tournaments, but most teams either don't understand that process, don't know about it, or would rather just qualify on the NAQT sets.
4) NAQT's online stats, etc. I know that my kids at least LOVE looking at their individual and team stats on NAQT's website. Their all-time ppg, powers, etc. all change every time they attend an NAQT event. Sure, stats are usually posted to the boards from non-NAQT tournaments, but that doesn't change their "all-time" stats. This is a minor thing for sure, but my kids love it. They feel like something is missing when they go to a non-NAQT event and their lifetime stats don't change.

Anyway, I didn't start this thread to argue. I'm not stupid. I KNOW that house-writes and other question sources are available. I also know that NAQT is growing. I know that they are a business that wants to make a profit. I know that there is far greater demand than there is supply. I wanted to address this in a public forum so that perhaps NAQT would see that demand is high (although I'm sure they already know). And I was hoping that this might nudge them towards increasing supply to meet said demand, thus making more money and making more customers happy. That's it. That's why I posted this.

Thanks.
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Re: Odds of NAQT producing more sets per year

Post by Rococo A Go Go » Tue May 17, 2016 10:10 am

I don't think NAQT is likely to create more sets, but contacting them directly would be more effective than listening to random people offer their hot takes on a message board.

In contrast with some of the other people who've offered their views here, I think it's entirely reasonable for teams in Alabama to want to play NAQT tournaments. It's been an established phenomenon for years that quizbowl teams want tournaments to look and feel like their state (and to some extent national) competitions. NAQT and HSAPQ have recognized this in their willingness to let hosts use modified formats with their questions (the largest pyramidal tournament in Kentucky many years is a tournament run on KAAC format with HSAPQ questions) and most obviously by those companies offering state championship events.

I do think that mirroring more housewrites is one potential solution to the problem Lee is raising here, but Alabama already seems to be doing that in increasing numbers. There are more than a few examples of poor housewrites in recent years however, so I can understand why some customers might be skeptical about playing one. The branding associated with NAQT is simply going to draw in more customers than STUPIDACRONYM 2016, because it's a trusted company and not a group of random high school and college kids who may or may not know what they are doing. The average potential host, when they are looking for a set in the list of housewrites, simply sees a list of acronyms announced by people they don't know. The fact that some of those same people are offering their critiques of Alabama's affinity for NAQT sets in this thread is more than a little amusing.

In short, mirror housewrites if you can, but let's not pretend there are no valid reasons for Lee to wish there were more NAQT sets. It's an inconvenient truth, but if the established and trusted vendors (NAQT and HSAPQ) could produce 20 sets per year, it would dry up the market for housewrites in all but a few states.
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Re: Odds of NAQT producing more sets per year

Post by Cheynem » Tue May 17, 2016 10:26 am

As the head of HSAPQ for next year, I can say that while we hope to expand our set offerings in the future, there is just no way we can compete (at this time) with the output of sets and questions being produced by NAQT.
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Re: Odds of NAQT producing more sets per year

Post by quizbowllee » Tue May 17, 2016 10:42 am

Cheynem wrote:As the head of HSAPQ for next year, I can say that while we hope to expand our set offerings in the future, there is just no way we can compete (at this time) with the output of sets and questions being produced by NAQT.
For what it is worth, I will definitely be steering potential hosts in your direction if they are unable to secure sets from NAQT.
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Re: Odds of NAQT producing more sets per year

Post by Joshua Rutsky » Tue May 17, 2016 12:39 pm

Just as an addendum, Hoover switched this year away from NAQT for our major tournament SPECIFICALLY because of this issue. We know that the NAQT sets are in very high demand in state, but we are also trying to promote opportunities for other teams to host in-state, and so we gave up our normal NAQT fall set in favor of a housewrite. However, while there are many housewrites available for play each year, I'd like to point out that there AREN'T many housewrites available in the early fall--a time we have traditionally steered toward as it is generally underserved in our area. We actually had trouble finding a set at first. We did NOT have trouble filling our event, which once again maxed out its cap. This leads me to conclude two things:

1) Teams will come to a well-run, established tournament regardless of the set, if only to get exposure to the large field of competitors.
2) WHERE POSSIBLE, hosts of large-scale events in states like Alabama should be trying to slowly introduce housewrites as part of the quizbowl culture. It took us five years or so to convince the state at large that tournaments without worksheet rounds and using the "super long" NAQT questions were actually BETTER events than our speed check crapola from the past. It will likely take a few years to continue this trend to include housewrites, which can vary tremendously in length and in difficulty.

I would rather, actually, see NAQT produce another MS set a year than another IS set. Just my 2 cents.
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Re: Odds of NAQT producing more sets per year

Post by cchiego » Tue May 17, 2016 12:51 pm

Two suggestions that might be relevant to the AL situation and other states with lots of NAQT tournaments taken up already:

It looks like a number of tournaments in AL on NAQT sets don't go that many rounds (Buckhorn for instance on IS-148 only has 8 rounds and Covenant Christian on IS-152 only had 7 according to the NAQT results site; IS sets contain 14 packets, so that's a whole tournament going basically unused). Could there be more of an effort to break up some of the larger IS sets across multiple tournaments or simply have longer tournaments that use more of the packets? This would require more coordination, but might help to make better use of all the packets available.

The other issue is that the NAQT sets that are used often seem to be haphazardly used at various tournaments at different periods of time across the state with some pretty small fields at some sites. Perhaps more coordination between some of the Community Colleges and other tournaments in the year could result in an "IS-161A" weekend where 3-4 tournaments across the state all use the same set at once so that it gets maximum exposure to more teams? This could also help better make use of the no-testing-conflict weekends when every school seems to want to host at once.
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Re: Odds of NAQT producing more sets per year

Post by quizbowllee » Tue May 17, 2016 1:55 pm

cchiego wrote: It looks like a number of tournaments in AL on NAQT sets don't go that many rounds (Buckhorn for instance on IS-148 only has 8 rounds and Covenant Christian on IS-152 only had 7 according to the NAQT results site; IS sets contain 14 packets, so that's a whole tournament going basically unused). Could there be more of an effort to break up some of the larger IS sets across multiple tournaments or simply have longer tournaments that use more of the packets? This would require more coordination, but might help to make better use of all the packets available. .
R. and I have been discussing this possibility already today. The coordination is going to be the issue. The more teams make NAQT aware EARLY ON that they plan to host an NAQT event, the easier this will become.
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Re: Odds of NAQT producing more sets per year

Post by Important Bird Area » Tue May 17, 2016 3:39 pm

Thanks for your feedback, everyone.

After HSNCT is over we will examine our production goals for the 2016-17 competition year. We do not currently anticipate substantial increases to the number of questions we produce for either high school or middle school play.

Notes:

1. We're happy to make arrangements for multiple hosts to coordinate using the same set, and for hosts who offer a limited number of rounds to split sets in half where needed. As Chris Chiego notes above, both of these solutions will encourage more teams to play without requiring the production of new sets.

2. Possibilities for expansion are definitely a worthwhile subject for public discussion on the forum. Note that "NAQT sells out in Your State" isn't enough for us to consider adding more sets to our production calendar; we would need commitments from a substantial number of the states where we currently sell all of our sets just to pay our writers and editors for producing the hypothetical IS #x+1.

3. NAQT's annual application period for new writers is just around the corner. If you're interested in writing for us, details are here.


Comments both general and specific about the difficulty level, quality control, or other aspects of NAQT sets are always welcome (feedback@naqt.com).
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Re: Odds of NAQT producing more sets per year

Post by 100% Clean Comedian Dan Nainan » Tue May 17, 2016 4:06 pm

cchiego wrote:Two suggestions that might be relevant to the AL situation and other states with lots of NAQT tournaments taken up already:

It looks like a number of tournaments in AL on NAQT sets don't go that many rounds (Buckhorn for instance on IS-148 only has 8 rounds and Covenant Christian on IS-152 only had 7 according to the NAQT results site; IS sets contain 14 packets, so that's a whole tournament going basically unused). Could there be more of an effort to break up some of the larger IS sets across multiple tournaments or simply have longer tournaments that use more of the packets? This would require more coordination, but might help to make better use of all the packets available.

The other issue is that the NAQT sets that are used often seem to be haphazardly used at various tournaments at different periods of time across the state with some pretty small fields at some sites. Perhaps more coordination between some of the Community Colleges and other tournaments in the year could result in an "IS-161A" weekend where 3-4 tournaments across the state all use the same set at once so that it gets maximum exposure to more teams? This could also help better make use of the no-testing-conflict weekends when every school seems to want to host at once.
I'm probably in the minority on this as far as players go, but I would much prefer a 9-10 round tournament to a 6-7 round one, which seems to be typical in Alabama. It especially feels better when it's a tournament that involves at least a one hour drive, and probably a longer one for most teams. I know hosts prefer to end at a reasonable time, and 9-10 rounds isn't always feasible, but the WRK tournament at the University of Alabama ran 10 rounds, ended at a pretty reasonable time, and gave (if I remember correctly) at least an hour for lunch. I understand this doesn't solve the problem of not having enough NAQT sets to go around, but I just personally feel like it's better to have a decent amount of very good tournaments run on an NAQT set than lots of small ones run on those sets split in half.
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Re: Odds of NAQT producing more sets per year

Post by jonpin » Wed May 18, 2016 8:46 am

cchiego wrote:It looks like a number of tournaments in AL on NAQT sets don't go that many rounds (Buckhorn for instance on IS-148 only has 8 rounds and Covenant Christian on IS-152 only had 7 according to the NAQT results site; IS sets contain 14 packets, so that's a whole tournament going basically unused). Could there be more of an effort to break up some of the larger IS sets across multiple tournaments or simply have longer tournaments that use more of the packets? This would require more coordination, but might help to make better use of all the packets available.
This doesn't seem like a good idea. One of the provisos of NAQT hosting is that competing teams either get for free, or you can sell them, the entire set, with the leftover packets being good practice material for NAQT-style tournaments.
Also, we shouldn't encourage tournaments to be so short.
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Re: Odds of NAQT producing more sets per year

Post by ScottF » Mon Jun 13, 2016 9:07 pm

NAQT sets are usually in very high demand in Georgia as well.
For years I have wondered about smaller sets from NAQT, as 95% of the tournaments here (and there were probably 25) do not use timed rounds, and at most run 20 Q's per round. Most use only16 or 18 per round, meaning 20% of the packet is still clean, but unusable elsewhere. Additionally, most of our tournaments are 10 rounds.

We'd love to see an extra set generated. Fewer question per set = more sets = more NAQT events = more teams qualified = more revenue from entry fees.
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