I think NAQT does need to do something more formal with moderators, like maybe some kind of qualification process, or at least a formal training session on the Friday night. I routinely heard that I was the first or maybe second moderator that a team had had that managed to get to 20+, more than one team said that they heard only 16 or 17 (one team said 15 tossups!). I would be interested in seeing what percentage of matches got to 20, I did hear that the tournament mean was like 21, but I wonder what the mode of questions read.
Perhaps some of the more experienced moderators should read a round (this could be fun) in front of new or inexperienced moderators and scorekeepers, and the players (also moderators) could reenact some of the issues that come up during a round that might slow down a reader (interruptions, saying answers really quietly, etc.). There is no excuse not to get to 20, I consider myself a slightly above-average moderator and I never went under 22. Above and beyond the structural considerations of the packet (tournament-wide distro) these schools pay too much to have that kind of thing go on a regular or even occasional basis and NAQT expends non-trivial amounts of resources in writing 156/156 (26 rounds 6 tossups/bonuses) to ignore this. Little things really help: separating the bonuses and tossups, flipping pages in anticipation, really paying attention to timing, and just paying attention.
The questions did seem quite good, a few noted exceptions aside, and thankfully they were quite noticeable because they were pretty rare. I thought that the current events were generally pretty reasonable things to ask about. I got a kick out of (read: painfully confused) at the bonus part which asked for the original host of the Today show in 1952 (Dave Garroway), apparently he had some connections to the local Chicago radio and TV scene in the 1940's and 50's, but it seems a stretch. Systematically, I thought some of the literature tossups lacked in concrete clues (vague plot summaries, cutesy descriptions, the Absalom, Absalom and Joe Christmas tossup comes to mind) and some of the lit bonuses seemed harder than they had to be.
Again, NAQT did a great job with logistics (especially given the split venue), and I enjoyed the opportunity to read for such good teams (I was lucky, I don't think I read one "bad match").
Ahmad Ragab, itinerant moderator at the New School for Social Research
ACF Nationals 2011:"Too real for the streets"
"Can 40,000 redacted topic Tossups be wrong?"
"With my gnomes I'm highlighting the danger of political opportunism and right-wing ideology. I get the feeling that this gnome has reopened an old wound."