ProtoBowl

Packet databases and other quizbowl sites, apps, or software should be discussed here.
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Emil Nolde
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Re: ProtoBowl

Post by Emil Nolde »

Obviously cleaning it up would be an extremely desirable thing, but one thing to consider is that /lobby can at times be a good environment for practice between multiple non-stupid users. While activity on HSQB is a fine way of connecting names with schools, trophies, et cetera, it's not going to be as detailed as seeing them play on Pb. With careful observation, you can see where they buzz, what kind of guesses they make, what their specialties are, and so on. It's sort of one of "The more I know about you, the easier it will be to destroy you" kind of things, except it's mutual, and therefore, it's going to produce, at least in theory, better competition. I like having a sort of community feel to it.

EDIT: for something technical, the bold edit feature is pretty good, but it needs to be made so you can change it so part of a word is bolded, e.g. natural logarithm versus natural logarithm.

EDIT2: There's also currently no mythology tags. Is there currently a defined sub-distribution among each category?
Last edited by Emil Nolde on Wed Jun 05, 2013 11:30 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: ProtoBowl

Post by AKKOLADE »

thyringe_supine wrote:Obviously cleaning it up would be an extremely desirable thing, but one thing to consider is that /lobby can at times be a good environment for practice between multiple non-stupid users. While activity on HSQB is a fine way of connecting names with schools, trophies, et cetera, it's not going to be as detailed as seeing them play on Pb. With careful observation, you can see where they buzz, what kind of guesses they make, what their specialties are, and so on. It's sort of one of "The more I know about you, the easier it will be to destroy you" kind of things, except it's mutual, and therefore, it's going to produce, at least in theory, better competition. I like having a sort of community feel to it.

EDIT: for something technical, the bold edit feature is pretty good, but it needs to be made so you can change it so part of a word is bolded, e.g. natural logarithm versus natural logarithm.
You can also learn everyone's favorite slurs!
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Re: ProtoBowl

Post by Oh No You Didn't »

thyringe_supine wrote:Obviously cleaning it up would be an extremely desirable thing, but one thing to consider is that /lobby can at times be a good environment for practice between multiple non-stupid users. While activity on HSQB is a fine way of connecting names with schools, trophies, et cetera, it's not going to be as detailed as seeing them play on Pb. With careful observation, you can see where they buzz, what kind of guesses they make, what their specialties are, and so on. It's sort of one of "The more I know about you, the easier it will be to destroy you" kind of things, except it's mutual, and therefore, it's going to produce, at least in theory, better competition. I like having a sort of community feel to it.

EDIT: for something technical, the bold edit feature is pretty good, but it needs to be made so you can change it so part of a word is bolded, e.g. natural logarithm versus natural logarithm.

EDIT2: There's also currently no mythology tags. Is there currently a defined sub-distribution among each category?
I for one am have always enjoyed studying people's abilities to buzz on "this author" and then give either a proper answer or ADF:LKJSD:LFKJWE:LKRJS:DLKFJ:LKSDFSALSA
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Re: ProtoBowl

Post by Mewto55555 »

thyringe_supine wrote:Obviously cleaning it up would be an extremely desirable thing, but one thing to consider is that /lobby can at times be a good environment for practice between multiple non-stupid users. While activity on HSQB is a fine way of connecting names with schools, trophies, et cetera, it's not going to be as detailed as seeing them play on Pb. With careful observation, you can see where they buzz, what kind of guesses they make, what their specialties are, and so on. It's sort of one of "The more I know about you, the easier it will be to destroy you" kind of things, except it's mutual, and therefore, it's going to produce, at least in theory, better competition. I like having a sort of community feel to it.

If that's the best reason for having a lobby, then that's even more of an argument in favor of some form of user identification!
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Re: ProtoBowl

Post by Nine-Tenths Ideas »

thyringe_supine wrote:Obviously cleaning it up would be an extremely desirable thing, but one thing to consider is that /lobby can at times be a good environment for practice between multiple non-stupid users. While activity on HSQB is a fine way of connecting names with schools, trophies, et cetera, it's not going to be as detailed as seeing them play on Pb. With careful observation, you can see where they buzz, what kind of guesses they make, what their specialties are, and so on. It's sort of one of "The more I know about you, the easier it will be to destroy you" kind of things, except it's mutual, and therefore, it's going to produce, at least in theory, better competition. I like having a sort of community feel to it.
1. Users in the lobby are not identified in any meaningful way. I don't really need to know "oreoz" weaknesses.
2. I disagree with the idea that seeing someone play on Protobowl gives you any useful information about a player. "You can see where they buzz" has very little meaning when people are just playing a 2010 HSAPQ set for the 20th time. Probably the most useful information you can glean about a player is by playing against them or watching them play actual quizbowl, then maybe looking at their stats, then asking them how good they are, and then, finally, playing against them on Protobowl. The whole thing is moot since you don't know if "Graham Moyer" is Graham Moyer or some random high schooler who heard the name Graham Moyer once and wants to be cool.
3. "Practice between multiple non-stupid users" is not currently something happening in the lobby.

EDIT: I'll add that I'm not entirely anti-Protobowl. I can see the value in starting a private room and running literature questions for yourself. But users get plopped into the lobby first thing, and that's less good.
Last edited by Nine-Tenths Ideas on Wed Jun 05, 2013 1:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: ProtoBowl

Post by Rococo A Go Go »

So I've never really spent much time on ProtoBowl, but after reading this thread I decided to go in the lobby and see what exactly it's like. In the less than two minutes I spent in the lobby, I encountered two racist slurs and a homophobic slur. Regardless of what benefits ProtoBowl has or doesn't have, it's perfectly reasonable to think:

1) Racism, sexism, and homophobia have no place in the quizbowl community.
2) Those things are currently a problem on ProtoBowl.
3) If that problem persists, then ProtoBowl has no place in the quizbowl community.
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Re: ProtoBowl

Post by Sniper, No Sniping! »

I just swung by for the hell of it and this is the first thing I encounter (caveat, language is NSFW).

Uh yeah suffice to say that /lobby is the worst thing ever and the only thing that is worse are the idiot apologists who defend it as a reputable and perfectly fine environment.
Last edited by Sniper, No Sniping! on Wed Jun 05, 2013 1:51 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: ProtoBowl

Post by Algeria »

Sulawesi Myzomela wrote:1) Racism, sexism, and homophobia have no place in the quizbowl community.
2) Those things are currently a problem on ProtoBowl.
3) If that problem persists, then ProtoBowl has no place in the quizbowl community.
These issues are a problem on Protobowl's lobby, and I'm pretty sure you don't have to get rid of the entire site to fix them. I'm a believer in Protobowl's use as a study tool -- I've found it's a decent way to encourage new quizbowl players to practice on questions. That said, I've stopped recommending protobowl for a while because the lobby is so awful and I don't really want to expose new players to that.

I agree with everything Fred said:
Fred wrote:I'll repeat that I'm impressed with what the software has accomplished and I don't think it's a good idea to abandon it because of issues with the user base that can be resolved. I do believe that the biggest problem (due to user behavior) is the presence of a lobby; removing the lobby will remove the high visibility of the problem. This doesn't mean that racists can't create a room called, I don't know, racistbowl , but it would hide such a room from being prominently displayed.
Get rid of the lobby and idiot teenagers won't have an audience to anonymously spout garbage to. Andrew's suggestion of Facebook integration or whatever would also work, but I have no idea how much time/effort that would take. Having the lobby be a "welcome to protobowl, create a room" splash page seems like it would take basically no effort and would stop 99% of the stupidity. You could easily do this for a week or two as a trial run and see how it goes.

tl;dr, temporarily (?) nuke the lobby and see how many of these problems go away
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Re: ProtoBowl

Post by Rococo A Go Go »

People have been complaining about the bigotry found in the lobby since January, and have been pointing out problems with trolls in general since last September. There have been a bunch of massive updates since ProtoBowl was created, and yet we're still here pointing out this horrid, unacceptable problem. We can argue about how they need to fix it until we're blue in the face, but unless they actually do it, then it's a bad thing that people don't need to be using.
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Re: ProtoBowl

Post by Auroni »

Sulawesi Myzomela wrote:People have been complaining about the bigotry found in the lobby since January, and have been pointing out problems with trolls in general since last September. There have been a bunch of massive updates since ProtoBowl was created, and yet we're still here pointing out this horrid, unacceptable problem. We can argue about how they need to fix it until we're blue in the face, but unless they actually do it, then it's a bad thing that people don't need to be using.
Nick is pretty spot-on here; we can't hand-wave this long-running problem away by just saying "oh they'll take care of it next update." I was talking to some high schoolers from Southern California last night, and I explained to them that as long as you need to qualify it (ie, "Protobowl is great, but stay away from the lobby!"), it's not going to be a good tool to introduce quizbowl to the unacquainted masses.
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Re: ProtoBowl

Post by gabe »

Slightly off-topic but the system you have of editing tags is dependent on people not being trolls http://tinypic.com/r/30roa5u/5

using tinypic bc imgur is blocked at school
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Re: ProtoBowl

Post by kevink »

Having the lobby be a "welcome to protobowl, create a room" splash page seems like it would take basically no effort and would stop 99% of the stupidity. You could easily do this for a week or two as a trial run and see how it goes.

tl;dr, temporarily (?) nuke the lobby and see how many of these problems go away
protobowl.com now goes to this page rather than lobby. It's pretty sparse, probably because I just made it in the past ten minutes or so.

Image
Sulawesi Myzomela wrote: and yet we're still here pointing out this horrid, unacceptable problem. We can argue about how they need to fix it until we're blue in the face

We've tried tons of things to "fix" the problem, ranging from the ban tribunals, instituting moderators, bannable offenses, restricting chat, introducing distraction free mode. Every time someone here complains about the problem, we try something slightly different, and someone then indicates that the situation is better, and we go on with our lives.

We haven't made it dependent on Facebook logins because, for one, our server architecture would require significant change to support it, and because I'm generally bothered by sites which enforce facebook authentication. And we've held off on adding login support for a few months because that's part of a fairly large update, and we didn't actually work on the site between march and may (Protobowl as a website currently only has a single page of HTML, but Ben's leading a change to add dynamic pages such as user settings and ultimately a home page to replace lobby, but because that entails an entirely new Ruby on Rails stack, it hasn't been built yet).
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Re: ProtoBowl

Post by Matt Weiner »

Look, if this latest change works, great. But the reason nothing has worked in the past is because people keep asking "can you make sure that people's first experience with quizbowl is not having the n-word shouted at them while people cheat at questions they have heard before" and your answer is "no" because you're "generally bothered by that" or it would hurt your Google ranking or other nonsense that is not the concern of the quizbowl community.
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Re: ProtoBowl

Post by Lefty734 »

Hey, this is unrelated to the problems people are talking about right now, but every time I join it creates a new person. http://i39.tinypic.com/2w7ol5c.png
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Re: ProtoBowl

Post by kevink »

Matt Weiner wrote:Look, if this latest change works, great. But the reason nothing has worked in the past is because people keep asking "can you make sure that people's first experience with quizbowl is not having the n-word shouted at them while people cheat at questions they have heard before" and your answer is "no" because you're "generally bothered by that" or it would hurt your Google ranking or other nonsense that is not the concern of the quizbowl community.
The N-word has been blocked for the past three months, but people have ways (unicode homoglyphs, spelling variations, character substitution, etc) of getting around that, and I don't hang around lobby nearly enough to play a part of that arms race, because I don't see how building progressively more complicated language filters is a concern for the quizbowl community either.

It's not about search rankings, if the home page was just a random redirect then a crawler would go in a loop hammering the server with useless requests.
Lefty734 wrote:Hey, this is unrelated to the problems people are talking about right now, but every time I join it creates a new person. http://i39.tinypic.com/2w7ol5c.png
What browser are you using?
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Re: ProtoBowl

Post by Lefty734 »

I use chrome.
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Re: ProtoBowl

Post by The ChatSack Triple-Play »

theMoMA wrote:Is there a way to have people log in with their forum IDs (or maybe Facebook or something like that)? It seems (not that I really know; I've been on the site once, over a year ago) like anonymity is the main cause of all of the horribleness, so requiring people to tether their Protobowl presence to their real identity might clean it up.
This. The reasons HSQB and QBWiki are relatively devoid of racial slurs and whatnot are probably twofold: one, the quizbowl community is a relatively tight-knit one, composed mostly of halfway sane high school students and college (under)graduates, and two, we're all mandated to be clearly identified. I know from what little experience I have with Rails that adding in an account system isn't exactly one of the great labors of cyber-Hercules, so perhaps the most simple and effective solution would be to have everyone's username denote clearly their name and/or affiliation/s. To prevent impersonation I guess you could have account applicants send someone specially delegated a link to a stats page or some other proof they've played an actual quizbowl tournament in a PM (also, to prevent spamposting they would need to be over the number this forum imposes before you can post autonomously.) Their HSQB ID would then be registered within the database as the primary key, preventing duplication. This kind of seems like an unnecessarily high barrier to entry, and it would be a lot of work on whomever has to keep up with it, but it's the simplest system I can think of.

Although I have to agree that if you use PB to study in significant quantities then you're most likely not going to end up doing too decently on anything much harder than a standard HSAPQ set.
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Re: ProtoBowl

Post by kevink »

HopefullyUnknown wrote:This. The reasons HSQB and QBWiki are relatively devoid of racial slurs and whatnot are probably twofold: one, the quizbowl community is a relatively tight-knit one, composed mostly of halfway sane high school students and college (under)graduates, and two, we're all mandated to be clearly identified.
I think by nature HSQB and QBWiki are much more formal modes of discourse, so that kind of behavior doesn't really ever arise. Anything real time with a semblance of competitiveness tends to bring out the vitriol and impudent remarks, significantly moreso than a high-latency medium like a forum, where people have the time to modulate their tone and think over what they say.

As for the technical side, Protobowl doesn't even have a database at this point. All the user account state is stored in-memory (which is almost an imperative since the state changes within milliseconds and hundred-millisecond database latencies aren't acceptable, and isn't that bad because the data structures are fairly lightweight). It's serialized periodically and dumped to some glorified key-value store.

Anyway, if you validate that they've participated in a previous tournament, you're pretty much excluding the people new to quizbowl this is would all be to protect. I think this would be a case where setting up the prohibitive barriers will hurt most the people who you're trying to protect.
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Re: ProtoBowl

Post by Rococo A Go Go »

kevink wrote: Anything real time with a semblance of competitiveness tends to bring out the vitriol and impudent remarks,
Uh, at actual quizbowl tournaments (which actually mean something unlike ProtoBowl) people don't respond to a competitive situation by screaming the n-word over and over again.
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Re: ProtoBowl

Post by The ChatSack Triple-Play »

kevink wrote:I think by nature HSQB and QBWiki are much more formal modes of discourse, so that kind of behavior doesn't really ever arise. Anything real time with a semblance of competitiveness tends to bring out the vitriol and impudent remarks, significantly moreso than a high-latency medium like a forum, where people have the time to modulate their tone and think over what they say.
This is true to some extent, but if we can get rid of (most of) this vitriol then we most certainly should. I guess the ideal I have in mind is something like scobowl most likely was, only with the advantages a web-based implementation provides.
kevink wrote:As for the technical side, Protobowl doesn't even have a database at this point. All the user account state is stored in-memory (which is almost an imperative since the state changes within milliseconds and hundred-millisecond database latencies aren't acceptable, and isn't that bad because the data structures are fairly lightweight). It's serialized periodically and dumped to some glorified key-value store.
I'm not familiar with the backend so I'm not exactly sure what happens when, but you could presumably just do what you're doing now, except add the total score, powers, negs, whatever, into the cumulative count stored in the DB only when the user closes the page (or if that's too easy to exploit, on logout, or whenever you drop a user's statline from the table over on the right) as opposed to after every buzz.
kevink wrote:Anyway, if you validate that they've participated in a previous tournament, you're pretty much excluding the people new to quizbowl this is would all be to protect. I think this would be a case where setting up the prohibitive barriers will hurt most the people who you're trying to protect.
I don't know that we're protecting anyone so much as shooting for a higher degree of professionalism (ensuring that this kind of language isn't shown on this one site only delays the inevitable.) Imposing a higher penalty on the behaviors that are causing so many complaints is a step in accordance with that goal. As regards the issue of newer users, PB really shouldn't be someone's first exposure to quizbowl, and in any case I'm doubtful that someone would just stumble across it without finding this site or the MO boards or something similarly organized. If the barriers to entry are too high, then make it either-or (a certain number of posts on this board, or previous participation.)
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Re: ProtoBowl

Post by Mewto55555 »

Look, I don't understand the point of all the discussions of why this behavior is bad or what purpose Protobowl serves or whether it is an ideal intro to quizbowl or whatever the heck we're talking about now. The point is that PB has turned into a platform for a bunch of immature quizbowl-people to be incredibly stupid/racist/bigoted/whatever anonymously.

If the developers want to tacitly allow/defend with some BS about competitive activities in an informal setting these actions in any way, they should make their preference clear. If they do not condone this abhorrent practice (which they hopefully don't!) then there is no excuse to not implement whatever it takes to make it stop!
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Re: ProtoBowl

Post by grapesmoker »

kevink wrote:As for the technical side, Protobowl doesn't even have a database at this point. All the user account state is stored in-memory (which is almost an imperative since the state changes within milliseconds and hundred-millisecond database latencies aren't acceptable, and isn't that bad because the data structures are fairly lightweight). It's serialized periodically and dumped to some glorified key-value store.
Redis is a glorified key-value store that should serve your DB needs. I don't quite understand the latency issue, since you should be able to have that updated in the background via websockets, which should save you from having to wait for a DB response.

As others point out, anonymity is the key problem here. If you are serious about bringing this issue under control, you will need to implement an account mechanism and hold people responsible for what they say. This doesn't necessarily mean interfacing with Facebook if you don't like it, but it does mean that people will have to supply identifying information about themselves (their real name, where they go to school, their real email) and have the moderators manually approve it. These are not hard things to do from a technical standpoint, and I'm rather surprised that this wasn't done from the start.
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Re: ProtoBowl

Post by vinteuil »

Not only anonymity, but let's not forget that having permanence on a given account really helps—moderators only have to ban once! It's really disheartening to see a user sockpuppet over and over again in the same session or repeat offences over many days. I bet that forcing people to log in and provide verifiable information to create an account will discourage most of the more egregious offenders now, and those that remain (there really aren't that many people creating a nuisance) would be banned shortly.
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Re: ProtoBowl

Post by The Bold Ideas of Bernie Sanders (I-VT) »

What's to stop them just making another gmail account and a fake "reasonable" name or even worse, someone else's actual name? By this point it'd become more of a burden on the site managers.
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Re: ProtoBowl

Post by Kilroy Was Here »

merv1618 wrote:What's to stop them just making another gmail account and a fake "reasonable" name or even worse, someone else's actual name? By this point it'd become more of a burden on the site managers.
I suppose making an account be linked to an I.P. address would stop the less tech-savy spammers.
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Re: ProtoBowl

Post by conquerer7 »

High Tech has used ProtoBowl to enormous effect; I can't think of anything that's helped our school's program more. Given that we were supposed to have completely disappeared after our one-man A team graduated last year, and we ended up with two t33 teams at HSNCT and regularly have 3 teams in the top 8 or so at local tournaments, I'd say that's good evidence of success.

Obviously we've never sent anybody to the lobby; at the beginning of the year I made a room just for our school and sent it out to our mailing list, about 75 people. Today, that room is still pretty active; people use it for quick games all the time. Freshmen, who would otherwise just get crushed in practice, can and have made their separate rooms to train with each other. (really, the most important feature protobowl lacks is an ability to select what tournaments you want questions from) I have never heard any complaints from anybody, despite the fact that half the doe-eyed freshmen class got linked to it. As for the fact that questions repeat, there are a lot of questions; anybody who can get to that point has by then become a good generalist.

As for whether it's possible to "get good" off of ProtoBowl, I don't see any reason why it can't be just as effective as packet reading. If I want to study, I can just click 'New Room'. If I want to study chemistry, Protobowl lets me only have to skip skip 3/4 questions, rather than 19/20 when reading packets. Once I get such a question, well, a question is a question, right? When I got into quizbowl last year, I had a fair amount of "real knowledge", which I took an unfortunately long time to realize was almost useless in many sets (e.g. any NAQT-IS). Three weeks of intense protobowling over doubled my PPG, and gave me enough "quizbowl knowledge" to be able to power most science questions and firstline half of physics.

Any popular online activity will catch a few idiots -- the upshot is that Protobowl makes quizbowl that kind of activity. I can totally imagine, maybe next year, half of the freshmen in the computer lab enthusiastically protobowling with each other, all learning, and some going on to be great players.

I guess this post is just me chipping in some thanks, because we really do owe a lot to you guys. The amount of work you two have put in is absolutely incredible, and besides the occasional answer recognition derp, we all love it.
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Re: ProtoBowl

Post by pajaro bobo »

conquerer7 wrote:Any popular online activity will catch a few idiots
The problem apparently seems to go beyond just "a few idiots", though.

Also, I hope the freshmen you mention don't use ProtoBowl as their primary "studying" tool. I've had a few teammates who have "studied" with ProtoBowl extensively and they've ended up not amounting to much as players.
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Re: ProtoBowl

Post by conquerer7 »

Well, I studied with Protobowl extensively, as have a bunch of our best players. For, really, our second year existing as a quizbowl team, the results look alright to me!

As for the freshmen that use it, they are genuinely improving, not "good" but leagues better than they were in September.
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Re: ProtoBowl

Post by Mewto55555 »

Ugh, that's a huge logical fallacy. High Tech is not magically good because you all use Protobowl, it's good because, due to the nature of your school, you have a sufficient number of intelligent people who care enough to spend their time studying quizbowl. The problem with all these protobowling people is precisely that they get to the level of t33 and t21 and whatnot and then use that as a defense of why Protobowl is good, when, for all you know, if your team had spent the last year religiously reading packets and Learning Things your A and B teams might have both gotten t13th or something? I'll be blunt and say that if all you want out of your quizbowl career is a top 50 finish at HSNCT, then by all means Protobowl will probably get you there pretty easily, if you spend all your time on it, but you aren't getting much farther than that.

Unrelatedly, I feel that this topic keeps coming up sufficiently often that maybe all the posts about whether Protobowl is good for studying should be in a separate thread from the topic of "here are some suggestions for technical fixes to eliminate racism on your website."
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Re: ProtoBowl

Post by samus149 »

I think how good you get with Protobowl just depends on how you use it rather than if you use it or not. For example, let's say I go on Protobowl, change the category to whatever I want (let's say science, cause science is awesome), then just go for one new question. If after I answer that question I don't know every single clue in that question, I'll go look up those things (you know, Learning Things and all that). Through that, I both learn quizbowl things and I learn maybe a new equation or scientist or reaction or what have you. It's essentially an automated packet reader at this point. I fail to see how this is different from "religiously reading packets", unless you're not smart enough to realize that some packets are good for learning things and some are bad.

Also, sometimes people can't show up for practice for whatever reason. Protobowl serves as a tool for collaborative quizbowl from home, whenever a couple of people have spare time. It's also good for team dynamics, because you learn who's good at what, and you can stop the game to share information about a question, instead of having to wait until the end of the round at an actual practice. I'm certainly not saying it's a substitute for real practice, but it's great as a secondary option for the time-strapped quizbowler.

Oh yeah, and as for dealing with the racists and trolls, maybe we could at least make it so we can ban people even if there's no moderator in the room. It's irritating if you pop into the lobby, some dude's cursing everyone off, and nothing happens when you click the banhammer.
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HTHS '14
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Re: ProtoBowl

Post by Corry »

samus149 wrote:I think how good you get with Protobowl just depends on how you use it rather than if you use it or not. For example, let's say I go on Protobowl, change the category to whatever I want (let's say science, cause science is awesome), then just go for one new question. If after I answer that question I don't know every single clue in that question, I'll go look up those things (you know, Learning Things and all that). Through that, I both learn quizbowl things and I learn maybe a new equation or scientist or reaction or what have you. It's essentially an automated packet reader at this point. I fail to see how this is different from "religiously reading packets", unless you're not smart enough to realize that some packets are good for learning things and some are bad.
This is exactly what I do. I rarely "play" Protobowl nowadays, per say-- mostly I just use it as a high-tech packet reader that lets me skip all of the boring non-history/non-geography questions. I look for clues that I don't recognize, and then I go straight to Wikipedia. Therefore, I have no problem recommending Protobowl to any incoming players on Arcadia's team.

I never encounter problems with racism on Protobowl, because I never go to the lobby. And since I always refer players straight to Arcadia's own Protobowl room, neither does any other Arcadia player, I would assume.
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Arcadia High School 2013
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Re: ProtoBowl

Post by conquerer7 »

Mewto55555 wrote:Ugh, that's a huge logical fallacy. High Tech is not magically good because you all use Protobowl, it's good because, due to the nature of your school, you have a sufficient number of intelligent people who care enough to spend their time studying quizbowl. The problem with all these protobowling people is precisely that they get to the level of t33 and t21 and whatnot and then use that as a defense of why Protobowl is good, when, for all you know, if your team had spent the last year religiously reading packets and Learning Things your A and B teams might have both gotten t13th or something? I'll be blunt and say that if all you want out of your quizbowl career is a top 50 finish at HSNCT, then by all means Protobowl will probably get you there pretty easily, if you spend all your time on it, but you aren't getting much farther than that.
What? These are fast-moving goalposts -- I thought I was responding to "no, Protobowl will only let you do well on HSAPQ level sets", and now it's "no, Protobowl will never let you be t13th". It feels like you drew your conclusion (Protobowl sucks!) and then adjusted your standards (apparently top 50 is mediocre now?) to fit.

The fact is that there are a lot of schools with "a sufficient number of intelligent people", but quizbowl isn't even close to its carrying capacity. High Tech is not particularly special, and what strengths we do have don't really have anything to do with quizbowl. We just happened to recruit well, and Protobowl was instrumental in that. Perhaps if you sent out a link to a private room out to all of Ladue, your school would also have a good C and D team next year? Even if they don't end up t13th at HSNCT, that has to be a good thing, right?
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Re: ProtoBowl

Post by Cody »

You attend the best high school in New Jersey, which is also ranked as the top math and science high school and one of the top 20 high schools in the nation. Please tell me more about how you aren't particularly special and how all other schools have the same advantages you do.
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Re: ProtoBowl

Post by Cheynem »

ProtoBowl may or may not be a good means of improvement--it probably is on some level, which is fine. I'm not saying never use ProtoBowl or get rid of it in total, but that the racist and disgusting behavior in the lobby is completely unacceptable and that there are ways of eliminating it which should be put into play.
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Re: ProtoBowl

Post by Mewto55555 »

The point is not "Protobowl will never get you anywhere" since that is obviously not true. The point is more 'if you are a science specialist whose primary source of exposure to quizbowl science are the 3604 on protobowl, many of which are from mediocre sets written 3+ years ago, then you are lowering the ceiling at which your game will peak" -- obviously, if I spend all my time reading questions, I am going to get better than if I spend all my time watching anime. However, I am making the argument that if you spend all your time on Protobowl-based study methods, then the limited nature of of the program ensures there is a threshhold past which you cannot be better (and that threshold is roughly top 30-50 in the country).

Quizbowl is not like high school football or something, where it is the be-all end-all of many people's lives. So many of the people have the intellectual skills to be good at quizbowl are interested in so many other things (just look at the nature of the conflicts people complain about with tournament scheduling!) that the number of people who really apply themselves to really really getting good at quizbowl and make that their chief priority is so small that if you are in that group, you should easily be putting up top 50 performances, and probably able to single-handedly pull your team into a top 20 performance by your senior year.

Also, wow, Kevin, you're a physics olympiad international medalist, etc! To insist that your team's success is due to knowledge acquired from PB is mind-numbingly asinine and untrue! I'm most willing to chalk up High Tech's success to the tandem combo of being a very good school and having a very skilled leader last year who rubbed off on you guys -- I'm going to guess that the reason you didn't "completely disappear after our one-man A team graduated last year" is mostly due to the magic of Grace Liu's enduring footprint, not protobowl. You see the same thing everywhere else where there are self-perpetuating programs; the reasons the names "Stevenson" "Bellarmine" "Thomas Jefferson" "Maggie Walker" "DCD" etc all sound so familiar is because the graduating people pass on influence to the next generation -- I'm sure if you ask Siddhant Dogra why he's good at quizbowl one of the first few sentences he'll utter will contain the words "Neil Gurram" and none of them will contain the word "Protobowl"!

tl;dr -- pb lowers your the maximum possible level of your quizbowl skill as compared to other methods and it is not the reason you all are so special


EDIT: I totally forgot to note that significance of the number 3604 -- it means if you do Protobowl every day for two years, you get 5 questions worth of science a day. That's like less info than what is in one packet's worth!
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Re: ProtoBowl

Post by vinteuil »

I'm a bit surprised that Max hasn't reemphasized studying bonuses in response to all of this, especially since he's been such an advocate of it in the past. Bonuses are good.

We certainly have never had Grace Liu, but I can certainly say that East's presence on the circuit this year was in some part due to the "enduring footprint" of Will Holub-Moorman, so I think it's downright unfair to downplay the effect of doing well (in High Tech's case, 9-1 in the prelims at HSNCT, beating teams like TJ, Dorman, and LASA) and having a great player/quizbowl-personality the previous year.

Just like it's completely unfair to downplay the fact that, yes, wow, good schools have the potential to do well at quizbowl, wow. Lots of students who have demonstrated a willingness/commitment to working hard at studying (High Tech is a magnet school after all)—and "how come a lot of students working very hard at studying using some method couldn't get better than t-33 at HSNCT?" is a legitimate question, I think.

Speaking again from personal experience—and I draw these parallels because High Tech and East Chapel Hill both made their first HSNCT appearances last year and then lost their captains—in one year, it is very much possible to study hard enough using some method or methods to do much better than that, even with other major commitments like physics olympiad in one case or conservatory auditions in another.

This hardly needs to be said, but ProtoBowl (+the "looking up clues" Sam is talking about) is not a terrible way of studying—it's just not the best way. Religiously reading packets (+lookingstuffup) by itself with no other studying methods (e.g. reading textbooks or primary sources or what-have-you) is also probably not the best way. Arguing that ProtoBowl is slightly better than a simulacrum of reading packets and thus a great studying method by itself is perhaps missing the point.
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Re: ProtoBowl

Post by kevink »

The answer checker has been significantly improved. I built a script which went through the protobowl log files to find out commonly accepted answers by the old algorithms to determine which words should be bolded so that the majority of questions don't require excessive knowledge of the subject's (for instance) seven middle names. It's also better at understanding and interpreting acronyms and initialisms when they exist.

I haven't gotten any complaints thus far, so I'll assume the situation has since quieted down. Interestingly it appears people still use /lobby in spite of the fact that it's no longer linked from anywhere.

But we probably won't be updating protobowl in the near future, aside from maintenance and bug fixes.
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Re: ProtoBowl

Post by Emil Nolde »

Yo, every time I try to join /lobby from the homepage link, my browser window closes, and whenever I try to join it via typing in the address or the "Feeling Lonely?" box, the only things that come up are the timer, directions, and miscellaneous bars or whatever. Latency and sync offset are given as "?" and build date is given as "12/31/12 19:40", which of course isn't current. If it helps, I use Opera.
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Re: ProtoBowl

Post by Rufous-capped Thornbill »

thyringe_supine wrote:Yo, every time I try to join /lobby from the homepage link, my browser window closes, and whenever I try to join it via typing in the address or the "Feeling Lonely?" box, the only things that come up are the timer, directions, and miscellaneous bars or whatever. Latency and sync offset are given as "?" and build date is given as "12/31/12 19:40", which of course isn't current. If it helps, I use Opera.
You wouldn't have this problem if you did the smart thing and never went into the lobby.
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Re: ProtoBowl

Post by rohitx15 »

I don't have any complaints about Protobowl. I just wanted to say thanks for providing this awesome website for free and helping to improve the quiz bowl community. I'm sure others have concerns, but hey, nobody is forcing anybody to use this service. Anyways, I express my gratitude to Kevin Kwok and any others that may have helped him in producing Protobowl.
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Re: ProtoBowl

Post by kevink »

thyringe_supine wrote:Yo, every time I try to join /lobby from the homepage link, my browser window closes, and whenever I try to join it via typing in the address or the "Feeling Lonely?" box, the only things that come up are the timer, directions, and miscellaneous bars or whatever. Latency and sync offset are given as "?" and build date is given as "12/31/12 19:40", which of course isn't current. If it helps, I use Opera.
The appcache manifest was being served with the wrong mime type, this should be fixed.
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Re: ProtoBowl

Post by kevink »

Oops! Missed it by a day, but now Protobowl is officially 1 year old!

To my knowledge, it's mostly stable right now. The server fallback mechanism works pretty well (which is a good thing given how unreliable Nodejitsu can sometimes be)- though it isn't totally automatic right now (i.e. if it's slow, complain to me via [email protected] and I'll change stuff).
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Re: ProtoBowl

Post by darkd3f3nd3r »

Anyone notice protobowl forgot to renew their domain name?

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Re: ProtoBowl

Post by Lefty734 »

I couldn't access it at school today. I was really sad. :(
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Re: ProtoBowl

Post by pajaro bobo »

Just find packets in the archive and read them yourselves. Get friends on Skype and have someone read. There are plenty of alternatives.
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Re: ProtoBowl

Post by kevink »

darkd3f3nd3r wrote:Anyone notice protobowl forgot to renew their domain name?
Yeah, ben stopped checking the email that he used to register the domain. We're trying to get it back. Just a heads up for anyone who might be interested in getting a domain at any point in the future DO NOT USE REGISTER.COM.

In the mean time, you can use http://pb.nfshost.com/
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Re: ProtoBowl

Post by Lefty734 »

I noticed that protobowl has been offline for the past day. Is there something wrong?
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Re: ProtoBowl

Post by kevink »

Lefty734 wrote:I noticed that protobowl has been offline for the past day. Is there something wrong?
Nodejitsu just sucks
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Re: ProtoBowl

Post by The Polebarn Hotel »

There's a new ProtoBowl app. Yay.
It doesn't work for iOS6. >.> Nay.
I don't want to update my iPhone to iOS7, but...
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Re: ProtoBowl

Post by kevink »

Crazyflight wrote:There's a new ProtoBowl app. Yay.
It doesn't work for iOS6. >.> Nay.
I don't want to update my iPhone to iOS7, but...
I didn't make the iOS or Android apps, but the creator says that there is currently a bug which causes it to crash on iOS6, but that it's designed to support both iOS 6 and 7 and that an update which should fix the compatibility issues should be deployed over the next few days pending Apple's approval.
Kevin Kwok
Annandale High School 2013
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