Would You Recommend Working for NAQT?

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Would You Recommend Working for NAQT?

Post by Dominator » Sat Jul 30, 2016 11:57 am

Cheynem, in another thread wrote:This is a honest question.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NAQT?

Post by Important Bird Area » Sat Jul 30, 2016 1:20 pm

I'm happy to answer questions about NAQT's policies and practices (either here or by email).
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NAQT?

Post by Corry » Sat Jul 30, 2016 1:44 pm

Yeah, I'd recommend it. To give some background, I've written like 2000 questions for NAQT since 2013, and edited a couple hundred more. I'm currently the NAQT subject editor for all high school geography, and I formerly edited a bunch of random European and Asian history as well.

Working for NAQT is great. I currently get paid $6.60 a tossup, which is a higher rate per question than I'd get at any other question-writing organization. New writers start at $3.50 a tossup, although you'll get promoted to higher tiers within a year if you prove yourself to be capable (not that hard tbh- some people on this forum may even be auto-promoted to higher tiers if they sign up).

As an NAQT writer, there are no weekly "assignments." You are never forced to write questions. You can write however many questions you want, on whatever subject you want, at whatever difficulty level you want. If you're a college player who only wants to write college-level questions, you can! NAQT will stockpile the questions for future use, and you can even continue playing SCT and ICT.

As a writer/editor, you use NAQT's online Ginseng software, which is kind of old and clunky but also more capable and feature-rich than any alternatives out there (i.e. QEMS, used by HSAPQ and PACE). It takes a bit of getting used to in the first few weeks, but at this point, I strongly prefer Ginseng over all its alternatives. I'm not sure how many details I'm allowed to divulge, but as a writer on Ginseng, you're given access to every set, question, and even clue (!) used by NAQT since 1998.
Last edited by Corry on Mon Aug 01, 2016 3:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NAQT?

Post by UlyssesInvictus » Sat Jul 30, 2016 2:14 pm

I'll also highly recommend working for NAQT, though I haven't found the time to write for them since around Seth became head editor. In addition to all the perks Corry's mentioned, I've found NAQT's management to never be anything short of superb. R. was always great about setting up deadlines, contests, and general communication; and it seems like Seth (if he is still head editor, it really has been a while) had started to carry out the job with the same cheery vigor.

I also just really enjoyed using Ginseng; I haven't used QEMS, but it sure beats writing questions with spreadsheets.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NAQT?

Post by AKKOLADE » Sat Jul 30, 2016 2:18 pm

NAQT is a good company to work for.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NAQT?

Post by jonah » Sat Jul 30, 2016 2:27 pm

Corry wrote:As a writer/editor, you use NAQT's online Ginseng software, which is kind of old and clunky but also more capable and feature-rich than any alternatives out there (i.e. QEMS, used by HSAPQ and PACE). It takes a bit of getting used to in the first few weeks, but at this point, I strongly prefer Ginseng over all its alternatives. I'm not sure how many details I'm allowed to divulge, but as a writer on Ginseng, you're given access to every set, question, and even clue (!) used by NAQT since 1998.
I mentioned this to Corry privately, and he already replied with some great suggestions that I will be working on soon, but I want to make sure everyone knows that Ginseng is in active development (I spend hundreds of hours a year on it), and we are interested in feedback of any kind to reduce clunkiness, improve ease of use and functionality, or anything else. Writers can always send me suggestions (tech@naqt.com), and prospective writers should know that we are always trying to improve our tools.

I might have more to say in the future about the general topic of this thread. I'm not sure how valuable a member's perspective is to the community at large.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NAQT?

Post by Guile Island » Sat Jul 30, 2016 3:06 pm

I'm not an NAQT writer, but I'll add that I've only ever been treated wonderfully and respectfully by members and other higher-up when staffing their events, to the point that staffing -NCT's is one of the things I anticipate doing the most in the Spring.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NAQT?

Post by Cody » Sat Jul 30, 2016 3:22 pm

The Top Percentage of Rattatas wrote:I'm not an NAQT writer, but I'll add that I've only ever been treated wonderfully and respectfully by members and other higher-up when staffing their events, to the point that staffing -NCT's is one of the things I anticipate doing the most in the Spring.
Quoted for truth. Despite what some of my posts may have you believe, I think NAQT is a great organization to do work for.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NAQT?

Post by Benin Rebirth Party » Sat Jul 30, 2016 3:32 pm

The Top Percentage of Rattatas wrote:I'm not an NAQT writer, but I'll add that I've only ever been treated wonderfully and respectfully by members and other higher-up when staffing their events, to the point that staffing -NCT's is one of the things I anticipate doing the most in the Spring.
Agreed.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NAQT?

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Sat Jul 30, 2016 3:53 pm

I've never written or attempted to write for NAQT before. I hear they have a comprehensive editing process and once had a major question security breach. They're also the only surviving "legacy" quizbowl organization that seems to actually have multiple employees/members who make all or a substantial part of their living from quizbowl related activities. I've decided that "legacy quizbowl organization" means "non-Maddenverse" organizations, i.e. those like PACE, ACF, NAQT, etc., that existed before the rise of Dave Madden.

I don't know who all remembers this, but back in the late 2000's, NAQT was seen as a dinosaur. They were seen as having outdated questions that skewed towards irrelevant trivia over academic substance, they were seen as being run by people from the 90's who didn't understand modern quizbowl*, and they were seen as being somewhat bureaucratic - as late as 2005, NAQT was claiming that the term "power" was its intellectual property (non-NAQT tournaments that gave extra points for buzzing early sometimes called them "supers" to avoid legal liability to NAQT) and was refusing to talk about some of the behind-the-scenes things it did by claiming it was "proprietary information".

By 2008, critics of NAQT were organizing on IRC and on HSQB and it seemed like NAQT might be driven out of quizbowl the way that CBI was. You know what NAQT did? They ended up hiring some of their biggest critics and adopting their advice. I always thought that was very shrewd and very big of them.

*of course today the kids think that anything from before 2010 is barbaric, non-modern quizbow, but I assure you we thought ourselves quite modern in 2008 - 2010
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NAQT?

Post by Dominator » Sat Jul 30, 2016 4:58 pm

I can add that I've only volunteered at 2 MSNCTs and 1 ICT, but I've never done anything to warrant pay from them. Still, I'll echo that NAQT was nothing but pleasant to volunteer for.

In fact, I was disappointed when I, for no reason apparent to me, did not get an invitation to staff for them this year, and now that I've moved from Chicago, I find it less likely I will be volunteering for them in the future.
Dr. Noah Prince

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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NAQT?

Post by Galstaff, Sorceror of Light » Sat Jul 30, 2016 10:53 pm

I have loved working for NAQT. Seth, R, Jeff, and the whole crew are wonderfully kind and respectful and more than happy to help out if something happens in your life unexpectedly.

I signed up as a contract writer in college to honor the pledge I made when I was the youngest person to sign the petition circulated through IRC in 2008, back when people had serious issues with the company's standards and practices. Those of us who signed it agreed to sign up for NAQT if they made certain changes, which they did (including creating the position of communications superhero Jeff Hoppes, who inspired me greatly in the time I served as PACE's VP of Communications in 2011-2012), and they modernized wonderfully into the company they are today. I'm a slow writer, and the mass quantities of questions I wrote for various Maggie Walker tournaments back in the day had burned me out a bit before I even hit college, so my motivation was and still is low. I felt bad about my very small question contribution, since I did wish to honor my pledge, but then something happened that has been extremely positive for me.

R reached out privately to myself and I assume a number of others who were contract writers but had very low numbers seeing if we wished to inactivate our accounts. However, my message also contained an invitation to start editing mythology for the then fairly-new middle school division. I was honored and delighted, and I've been working for NAQT in an editorial capacity ever since.

I love that NAQT employs me to do what I enjoy and doesn't mind too much that I'm a low-volume writer. I love that when I contacted Seth to let him know I'd been laid off from the other job I was working at the time, he went out of his way to find me more work I could do for them to make up some of the difference. I love that when I had to leave a set editing project on short notice because of a family emergency, NAQT got my remaining work covered, paid me for what I had managed to do, and did not hold the incident against me. I also love Chad always pays me on time, which has not always been my experience in quizbowl work.

For all of these reasons, as I start my first year of teaching and have to scale my other quizbowl involvement way back to compensate for suddenly having no time on my hands, I'm staying on as a subject editor with NAQT.
Sam (Sarah Angelo) Luongo,
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NAQT?

Post by theMoMA » Sat Jul 30, 2016 11:11 pm

I've been doing serious work for NAQT for the past six years or so, and for over a year, I've been a member of the organization. NAQT has its quirks and oddities, and can seem a bit monolithic and impersonal from the outside, but my experience working with everyone is similar to Sarah's heartening post above: the core people in NAQT really do care about the people who are doing work for the organization.

Almost as important, at least to me personally, is the fact that NAQT cares deeply about remaining an organic part of the quizbowl ecosystem. Our members and contractors almost all have quizbowl endeavors outside of NAQT, and NAQT respects and does what it can to encourage those efforts. We have spirited internal discussion every year about how best to keep our standards in line with those of the community. NAQT has a slightly different internal vision of quizbowl than the typical circuit event, but I really appreciate that we've seemingly come to a place where we can acknowledge that both are interesting and fun and have a place in the broader world of pyramidal academic competition.

I'm also happy to answer any questions that people have about NAQT; you can post here or email me at hartam@gmail.com.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NAQT?

Post by Deviant Insider » Sat Jul 30, 2016 11:30 pm

I have written for NAQT since the end of 2011, and it has been a positive experience. They put some effort into being respectful to the people they come into contact with in various ways, and they are good at what they do.

If you write for NAQT, you sign a two page contract that has several non-disclosure clauses in it. Those clauses for the most part just state the obvious. NAQT questions (even to some extent after they are used) and software are proprietary, which makes it different than HSAPQ or PACE.

NAQT always needs questions--they produce TV sets and local sets in addition to the MS, A, IS, and *CT sets that the quizbowl community is familiar with. The need generally is stronger with lower level questions. I find their software easy to use, and I have at times made suggestions for improvements that were implemented. Because they always need questions, writers commonly get emails telling us that they need questions. Writers are free to heed or ignore those emails as they wish--I pretty much ignore them in the summer and fall because I work on other question sets then, and it's not a problem. One of the things I like about NAQT is that because I am in a low-level position with them, it's a stressless job--I write a lot of questions for them, but when something else comes up in my life I can ignore NAQT. Also, if they need a certain type of question or a question in a category that I don't want to write in, then it's not my problem. If I edited for them, then of course I would have less of that freedom.

I have also staffed some of their tournaments and consulted for them on both a volunteer and low-paid basis, and those experiences have also been positive.

Of course, if you write or edit for NAQT, you have to abide by their character limits, which are lower than those of other companies. If that's going to drive you crazy, then don't write for NAQT.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NAQT?

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Sun Jul 31, 2016 1:43 am

Signing up to write for NAQT was one of the best decisions I've made this year. They give you tremendous creative freedom, lots of good feedback (when needed), and are responsible about payments and everything.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NAQT?

Post by Important Bird Area » Mon Aug 01, 2016 4:42 pm

Big Y wrote:If you write for NAQT, you sign a two page contract that has several non-disclosure clauses in it. Those clauses for the most part just state the obvious. NAQT questions (even to some extent after they are used) and software are proprietary, which makes it different than HSAPQ or PACE.
Relevant clauses of the NAQT writer contract:
2016-17 NAQT writer contract wrote:The writer agrees to protect the confidentiality of NAQT's trade secrets and other proprietary information including, but not limited to, all information on the NAQT administrative website and NAQT process documents. The writer agrees that this provision shall extend indefinitely beyond the expiration or termination of this contract.

...

The writer agrees to notify NAQT of any interest he/she holds with any other organizations devoted wholly or in part to competition or entertainment based on providing answers to questions. Interest includes current membership, current employment, or the existence of current contractual or legal bonds.
Note that this is our contract for writers and editors; people doing administrative, marketing, or logistical work for NAQT may be subject to tighter restrictions on whether we will hire them while they are doing similar work for other organizations.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NAQT?

Post by Golran » Mon Aug 01, 2016 5:11 pm

I worked as a contract writer for NAQT for around a year and a half and I really enjoyed my time working there. As numerous others have said, the writer experience for NAQT is, in my opinion, everything that a writer could want. There is extensive feedback available through the new writer mentorship program, lots of incentivizing writing contests, and a very user-friendly interface and question tracking system.

On the logistics side of things, I've been lucky enough to staff at somewhere around 15 *CTs over the past 8 or so years, many of them in the stats or a control room. The big thing here is that Nathan, R, Joel, or whomever else is in charge of the tournament clearly put in a significant amount of work in advance to make sure the day of goes smoothly, and it's clear that it's a group effort that is celebrated as a group. Each individual is tasked with a specific task, and is empowered to make decisions independently to complete them, even trickling down to volunteers to accomplish certain behind the scenes tasks.

Additionally, NAQT has strong working relationships with a large number of groups around the country, which is important for maintaining a company indefinitely. The way NAQT pivoted to become more aligned with the greater collegiate quiz bowl community demonstrates strong corporate agility, which will help NAQT keep up with "industry" trends and even be able to push quiz bowl forward. Furthermore, I'm really happy with how NAQT reacted to the ethics and cheating scandals recently, opting not to just throw it under the rug and correct it for the future, but to communicate fully with the community and right any wrongs, demonstrating excellent customer service.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NAQT?

Post by Ent » Mon Aug 01, 2016 8:39 pm

I've volunteered in various capacities (moderator, scorekeeper, and stats room), not consistently, but over the past 12 years or so. I've had one, mildly unpleasant experience over that time, and many positive experiences. This summer I have gotten in to the data entry end of things, and have received praise and payment as was agreed to (admittedly, I framed my check rather than cash it, because how many of you have a Chad Kubicek autograph in your collection).

To the point, no operation is flawlessly perfect, but especially for as big an operation as NAQT is, I have been satisfied as a customer, as a coach, and as a volunteer/IC. It is my intent as long as time allows for me to continue offering my services as long as they are mutually beneficial to all involved. If anyone asked me "Should I work for NAQT?", I would say that if you have the ability and the fortitude to actually follow through on your assignment or commitment whatever that is, then yes, this is a good company to work with.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NAQT?

Post by InvadErGII » Mon Aug 01, 2016 9:31 pm

To add to the pile - I love working for NAQT, both as a writer and as a staffer. Related to this, I've also had the tremendous privilege of working the Minnesota circuit, which is also handled by R. Hentzel. Those events are always very well-run and worth doing.

To summarize - NAQT is a great company run by great people.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NAQT?

Post by Marble-faced Bristle Tyrant » Mon Aug 01, 2016 9:41 pm

I'd like to echo that NAQT's management is very accommodating to circumstances that might hinder one's question production or ability to staff. This naturally comes with a recommendation that workers communicate any issues that would cause that.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NAQT?

Post by DumbJaques » Fri Aug 05, 2016 9:33 am

To be very clear: Not speaking as a staffer here.

So in general, a feedback/opinion thread is a net positive, and I'm happy to see NAQT (/PACE/HSAPQ) properly recognized for steps they've taken to improve past shortcomings - basically the hallmark of a quality organization vs. a group that just gets lucky. They deserve the praise.

But lest anyone get the wrong impression, I'd like to remind everyone that these three threads are pretty much entirely a (kind of curious?) rhetorical gesture in an argument that has basically already concluded. That is to say: They feel about as justified by present qb community concerns as a "Would You Recommend Working at Five Guys??" post in the Theory section.*
Not discouraging anyone from posting here, but even the implication that the NHBB situation is symptomatic of any sort of organizational rot in quizbowl seems kind of dubious to me.

EDIT:
*Upon reflection, I can actually think of at least two restaurants presently more deserving of an employee feedback thread on hsquizbowl: Nicky's (RIP Eric Kwartler's orange c̶h̶i̶c̶k̶e̶n̶ tub of radioactive goop), and whatever chili place whose disregard for supplying utensils led to a certain unnamed staffer's sleep-deprived Temple of Doom meat-fisting incident.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NAQT?

Post by AKKOLADE » Fri Aug 05, 2016 2:33 pm

These threads had been dead since Monday.
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Re: Would You Recommend Working for NAQT?

Post by Dominator » Fri Aug 05, 2016 8:19 pm

DumbJaques wrote:I'd like to remind everyone that these three threads are pretty much entirely a (kind of curious?) rhetorical gesture in an argument that has basically already concluded.
I'm curious why you think you know the intentions of the OP, let alone anyone else who may have read this thread, but at least in the sense that I'm now working on finishing my writer's kit for NAQT, you are wrong.
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