Good lord, I did not cheat at Terrapin Open.
I certainly do understand regression enough to know that the numbers are pretty extreme. I don't fault people for finding them suspicious - certainly, the psychological effect is amplified because Eric and I happened to be on the same team. I also don't want to be nonchalant or dismissive - I agree we need a way to do online tournaments that remove concerns that cheating may have happened (Uh, let's just say I agree with that A LOT MORE, now).
I don't really want to engage in a data-refutation debate, because it causes me a tremendous amount of sadness and stress that I... have to do that. But I do feel I need to point out that one of the key assumptions here is that there's no real difference across players in terms of the boost that someone would get playing an online set vs. an in-person set. In my case, however, this assumption is not correct. I have pretty intense ADHD (as anyone who knows me can attest). What is perhaps less apparent is how much of a perpetual struggle it is for me to stay keyed in question to question (and even sentence to sentence) while playing quizbowl. I have always had this problem - I think it accounts for a part of my high neg rate - and I've always seen it as a limiting factor on my performance. (A few times when I have forgotten to take my medication accounted for some of my most horrendous tournament results - I suspect these could well be outliers in the other direction, if someone went back and plotted them).
I haven't played an online tournament before; I was surprised at the difference the environment made. Sitting alone in a room, with headphones on and no other stimuli present indeed felt very different to me. I'm even less inclined to go into this, but I found that the effort I normally exert to manage my anxiety while playing was also nearly unnecessary. I suspect my increased power rate was a combination of that, a smattering of material I really knew, some guessing that worked out, and plenty of luck. I think it should also tell you something that Eric, who knows my quizbowl game as well as anyone alive and heard every single buzz I made on this set, found nothing at all implausible or concerning while playing 13 rounds with me.
Again, I do get that the data is pretty extreme. It's also extreme on one stat (it looks like ppg, 10's, and negs are all pretty normal?). If you ran, say, my bizarre 6-neg performance at SCT (despite buzzing a lot, and improbably beating much better Illinois and Chicago teams), I wonder if you wouldn't get an equal or bigger discrepancy. It's also extreme based on a number of assumptions, and on what is in fact not a huge sample size. It would not surprise me at all if people scaled differently across different sets and difficulties, because the amount of variables here is considerable.
All this has put me in quite a lose-lose situation, because saying nothing is no longer an option, but defending yourself makes you look guilty (perhaps yet another good reason not to level accusations lightly!). Like I get that some of you are sure you are right, but you *actually are not sure*, and in the meantime this just sucks. Like, it's not a great time for anyone right now, and boy, does this not help. (And no doubt additional harm was caused by the initial frame of this thread being open-ended, allowing everyone who did well at TO the exciting opportunity to experience an unwarranted spike of anxiety and stress).
So, I'd like to gently suggest to all the folks flexing their math muscles that if in fact you are not correct (and in this case, it turns out, you aren't), the cost of your misplaced confidence is inflicting rather significant harm. Because this feels fucking awful, and it feels additionally awful to have to talk about my ADHD, anxiety, etc., in a public forum. (Uh, to be clear though, I'm still on the right side of unstable. Or like. Whichever side I was on before, at least).
[Oh, also, one thing I want to make clear - I haven't played an online tournament before, so I presumably cannot be the person with a "known history of cheating on internet packets." I'm hesitant to even say this, because now it just seems like I'm adding to the speculative shit-chain (yet another reason why this post should not have been made as it was, for all the reasons John, Justin(e), Alston, etc. have said). But it felt important to clarify, for reasons I suspect are pretty understandable.]
EDIT: Anyway, to the extent that this constitutes any sort of future concern, I'm certainly not playing an online event ever again; I have no desire to repeat this experience. Honestly at the moment I'm pretty borderline on playing... anything again, because I don't want to spend the rest of my (relatively limited) remaining time in quizbowl playing every question like "shit, better power this or someone's gonna be on my ass." I suspect this feeling will subside, but, you know. For now it just sucks.
University of Chicago, 2016
University of Maryland, 2014