How to make college quizbowl less insular

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How to make college quizbowl less insular

Post by ryanrosenberg » Tue Apr 03, 2018 1:37 pm

In the poll on "What is the most pressing issue facing college quizbowl today?", "too insular" was the winner by a decent margin. "Too insular" could mean a lot of different things, or combinations of thing; I'd be interested to hear from people who voted for that option how they define "too insular."

This thread is also intended to be a place to discuss potential solutions to the problem of insularity. Things that can be done on the national level and the local level are both welcomed, although I would encourage people to think in terms of specific actions so that we reach conclusions more substantial than "people should be friendly" (which is certainly true!).

I'll start with a couple of examples of how I was welcomed into new QB communities, first in high school and then when moving to a different circuit after graduating college. When I was a high school senior, I played BARGE on an open team with Aaron Cohen, Doug Yetman, and Nolan Esser. I was very intimidated at first and didn't score many points, but had a fun time hanging out with my teammates and got a positive introduction to what a college quizbowl tournament is like. There can be an instinct for players at open tournaments to only play with the same general group of people, or players of a similar skill level; I would encourage more established players to be willing to team up with newer players, and even to reach out to them to play (since it can be tough for someone relatively unknown to "ask up" to play with older players).

A little over a year ago, I moved to Chicago, not really knowing anyone in the circuit that well. I was living in Hyde Park, though, so I decided to drop by a few UChicago practices to meet people and keep up. I ended up making friends with a bunch of people on the team, and then through them connecting to the wider circle of "quizbowlers in Chicagoland." Open summer practices are much more of a norm, but I've found that college clubs are also welcoming of outside people visiting if asked. For college clubs, this is a great way to build up a corps of outside friends of the program who you can ask to staff tournaments or coordinate travel to open tournaments. For college grads or high school students, attending a club's practices is a great way to challenge yourself and either stay in tournament shape or prepare for harder tournaments.
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Re: How to make college quizbowl less insular

Post by A Very Long Math Tossup » Tue Apr 03, 2018 3:40 pm

As someone on a team that's disconnected from the main circuit, I'd like to share my perspective.

During our first ICT, we didn't really socialize with other teams (aside from small talk). Everyone already seemed to know each other. However, a friend of mine invited us to the afterparty, and once we started talking to people, we were surprised how friendly everyone was.

That summer, I started posting on the forums, and the community was very helpful. When I staffed HSNCT and played a side event, everyone was extremely friendly. The same goes for when I discovered the Discord. Time and time again, I've been pleasantly surprised by how welcoming the community is, and in the span of a year, I've gone from knowing maybe 3 people in the community to being a "quizbowl insider" (if there even is such a thing).

In my opinion, the quizbowl community isn't insular, per se. It can, however, appear that way to outsiders. The best way to combat this is to talk to new teams at tournaments, which we need to be doing more.
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Re: How to make college quizbowl less insular

Post by Habitat_Against_Humanity » Tue Apr 03, 2018 6:19 pm

Geriatric trauma wrote:In the poll on "What is the most pressing issue facing college quizbowl today?", "too insular" was the winner by a decent margin. "Too insular" could mean a lot of different things, or combinations of thing; I'd be interested to hear from people who voted for that option how they define "too insular."

This thread is also intended to be a place to discuss potential solutions to the problem of insularity. Things that can be done on the national level and the local level are both welcomed, although I would encourage people to think in terms of specific actions so that we reach conclusions more substantial than "people should be friendly" (which is certainly true!).

I'll start with a couple of examples of how I was welcomed into new QB communities, first in high school and then when moving to a different circuit after graduating college. When I was a high school senior, I played BARGE on an open team with Aaron Cohen, Doug Yetman, and Nolan Esser. I was very intimidated at first and didn't score many points, but had a fun time hanging out with my teammates and got a positive introduction to what a college quizbowl tournament is like. There can be an instinct for players at open tournaments to only play with the same general group of people, or players of a similar skill level; I would encourage more established players to be willing to team up with newer players, and even to reach out to them to play (since it can be tough for someone relatively unknown to "ask up" to play with older players).

A little over a year ago, I moved to Chicago, not really knowing anyone in the circuit that well. I was living in Hyde Park, though, so I decided to drop by a few UChicago practices to meet people and keep up. I ended up making friends with a bunch of people on the team, and then through them connecting to the wider circle of "quizbowlers in Chicagoland." Open summer practices are much more of a norm, but I've found that college clubs are also welcoming of outside people visiting if asked. For college clubs, this is a great way to build up a corps of outside friends of the program who you can ask to staff tournaments or coordinate travel to open tournaments. For college grads or high school students, attending a club's practices is a great way to challenge yourself and either stay in tournament shape or prepare for harder tournaments.

Post:
I remember that team. That tournament was a lot of fun. Interesting (or not) coda: A buzz from our match against Neil Gurram-led MIT/Wellesley at that tournament made it into my wedding vows, since my now-wife had gifted me Ford Madox Ford’s The Good Soldier for our first Christmas together, and as I recall it was my buzz on Ford that sealed our game against them. Also, we only lost by 10 to Yale A of John Lawrence, Matt Jackson, Kevin Koai, and Ashvin Srivatsa, having the match come down to a single bonus part where we couldn’t quite get the order of words in the title of The Lictors Bring to Brutus the Bodies of his Sons.


Meta-Commentary on above post:
To someone new-ish to the forums, my words above probably is dripping in insularity. I dropped names of quiz bowlers new people wouldn’t know and Nats-ish level answer lines and clues perhaps equally off-putting to the newbie. Reading my anecdote, you might think Ryan and I are buddy-buddy. Actually, I don’t think we’ve done much more than chat since. It was a pleasure to play with him and 12/10 would do again, but you wouldn’t get the sense that we don’t know each other that well from my post. (Hope it’s ok I’m using you as a example, Ryan; this post provided an ideal springboard for a point I’ve wanted to make).

Truth is, I had never met any of the people I played with at that tournament beforehand. I knew of them: Yetman was that dude who occasionally posted and that I had heard had a deep voice, I had to keep reminding myself that Aaron Cohen was that guy from RPI, not the guy from RIT that had Soup Nazi from Seinfeld as his avatar, and Ryan was a senior in high school who must’ve been good cause he didn’t like Chip Beall and wanted to play a college tournament in high school. My point is that while it’s easy to get the impression that “Everyone but me in quiz bowl know everyone in quiz bowl but me,” that’s simply not the case. Although a ton of real, long-lasting friendships form there’s also a ton of relationships that exist mostly on the forums/Discord/facebook/whathaveyou and don’t have the same substance in actuality that they seem to have on the internet.

If we’re defining insularity as the tendency to prefer interacting with in-group members they’re already familiar with to interacting with new out-group members, I don’t think that’s a indication of failure per se so much as a natural human tendency. The problem comes when the shared experiences that the in-group traffics in are not shared or disseminated to people trying to join the group. The solution to this goes both ways: Established team members should take the time to share and explain all the inside jokes and club lore that make your experience enjoyable to new members and new members should feel free to ask older members to explain jokes or stories or whatever and also tell their own. Encourage non-qb social outings as much as possible. Encourage people to chat with players at other schools.

I imagine the perception of insularity is only unique to quiz bowl inasmuch as the people who “control” quiz bowl are also active members in engaging in the activity. In sports or whatever, you have coaches and officials who “produce” the game and are removed from its actual execution. Quiz bowl players produce and participate in quiz bowl games. I think this might explain why there’s a perceived culture shock when transitioning from the high school game to the college game. Dollars to donuts, if you are part of an enjoyable high school team, you have your own lingo and inside jokes that make your team fun. College is the same thing, but at a bigger scale. High schoolers generally spend four years at the same place and don’t change schools. Collegiately, quiz bowlers change schools for whatever reason all the time and ideas and jokes cross-pollinate. This isn’t a bad thing. I would go so far as to argue that the fluidity of the college game makes it less insular, not more. Instead of many small insular groups, quiz bowlers are connected across schools and affiliations.



The tl;dr version:

This is not quiz bowl. You don’t have to swat an egg sandwichout of Eric Mukerjhee’s hands to demonstrate biochemistry knowledge that’ll save his life and get you an invite to the secret cabal.
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Re: How to make college quizbowl less insular

Post by Cheynem » Tue Apr 03, 2018 6:41 pm

Quizbowl has various robust online presences; I think these communities both help fight and preserve insularity.

On the one hand, they provide quick ways to "meet" people, share ideas, provide some level of equal footing, and provide an "in" when you meet these people in real life. I remember my first ACF Nationals and summer opens; I was delighted to meet people I had only talked to online, such as Eric Douglass, Evan Adams, and Fred Morlan. Indeed, many of my "friends from the forums" (now IRC and Discord friends) are real life friends.

On the other hand, online communities can lead to division and toxic feelings, as people are more likely to throw out insults or harsh words that they would not say online (or make jokes that might be seen as rude). I've certainly done this before, and at times I realize I've hurt people's feelings with badly chosen words or ill-timed humor. I also think, as I believe Charlie Dees pointed out, that having this virtual community can create a tendency to simply talk about virtual stuff in person. I've done this a lot too; it's very tempting. But talking about people you've never met except online, talking about some memes or forum dust-up, is going to go over like a lead balloon to people who don't know what you're talking about, or even people who might this stuff tedious or inconsequential. We should learn to talk in person like real people.

I agree with Nolan's point that quizbowl can seem insular but it is not very. It's been ten years and sometimes I still feel like the "new guy" in college quizbowl, but I occasionally look at what I've done--I was asked to edit Chicago Open, I was the president of a high school quizbowl organization, I played open tournaments with some of the greatest players in quizbowl (and was turned down by Andy Watkins)--and yet I found the barriers to accomplishing these goals very small. Some of it took personal initiative--cultivating relationships, volunteering my service, asking people if they would play with me--and some took the help of others (I remember Rob asking me if I wanted to work on T-Party, the first tournament where I edited a category--it was bad--Andrew Yaphe said I wrote one of the worst questions he had seen--but it gave me confidence to keep working).
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Re: How to make college quizbowl less insular

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Wed Apr 04, 2018 9:48 am

As you wait, perhaps in vain, for systemic top-down change to come to quizbowl, a possible good use of your time might be to simply send an email to that on again/off again team in your region saying "hey, it was fun seeing you guys at ACF Fall, do you want to come to our tournament next month" or to that one kid who doesn't post on the forums saying "hey, you always get good buzzes on [subject], do you want to write a few questions about [subject] for our upcoming tournament?"

Talking to people can be surprisingly powerful.
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Re: How to make college quizbowl less insular

Post by wcheng » Sat Apr 07, 2018 1:13 am

When the original poll was posted, I voted "Too insular" and "Lack of professionalism." With this post I'd like to offer my opinion on why I think college quizbowl is too insular, as someone who hasn't really been involved in college quizbowl for that long and whose time (and, unfortunately, interest) in quizbowl is steadily dwindling.

My impetus for posting on this thread is a bit odd: it's a team name from the Historature sign-up sheet for ICT. A few days ago, Justin Hawkins, Jack Lewis (a freshman coming in to Maryland next year), and I decided to form a team for Historature. I put in a name for our team, but found a day or two later that it was changed to "Ineffectual Minor Character."

Now, I understand that there's supposed to be some kind of joke throughout the team names, that they're references or Yu-Gi-Oh abridged or something, but this particular joke actually stung for me. I think that this illustrates an real issue in the quizbowl community people can end up feeling treated like "Ineffectual Minor Character" because of how they end up interacting with experienced members of the community. I often have the impression that what seems to be the inner circle of quizbowl--those graduate editors whose inevitable disappearance is a looming crisis, for instance--is impenetrable. It appears to me that these people, many of who have known each other for years, have a tendency to dominate discussions on quizbowl on the forums and turn them into discussions among themselves, and a tendency to work with each other on tournaments without often reaching out to others. In the face of this perception--which may not be accurate, but I think is shared by at least more than a few other people--it becomes very hard to offer up your opinions to others on the forums, or to reach out to assist with writing or editing.

As an example of this, I will offer my experience with contributing to the PACE NSC last year. In 2016, I decided that I wanted to give back to the tournament that I enjoyed most in high school and contribute questions for the 2017 NSC. Looking at the NSC website, I found the email for the VP of Editing (Rob Carson, both then and now). Some time in August 2016, I sent an email to the address on the website--no response. I was a bit disheartened and wasn't really sure what I could do to get involved, but thankfully I did have a resource at my disposal... the former VP of Editing himself, a.k.a Jordan Brownstein, who proceeded to ask Rob to add me to the NSC set QEMS until I finally wound up as a writer for NSC. Now, I completely understand that Rob just probably overlooked my email, and I probably could have been more persistent about contacting him myself. I have absolutely nothing against Rob for this incident; this is just intended to show how hard it can be to reach out to experienced members of the quizbowl community as someone who isn't already hugely involved. As silly as this might sound, it took me a while to muster up the courage to send an email to reach out to ask to be a NSC writer; if I had not been at Maryland and didn't have Jordan's help, I might have entirely given up on the idea.

Or another writing related example: in my freshman year I decided to write for MYSTERIUM despite having basically zero college writing experience. I wrote some questions that were probably dubious (like one on Josephus or on 8 in Chinese history), but I wrote about 50 generally-usable questions. One of the questions was a tossup on "Chinese Muslims," cluing various prominent Muslims in Chinese history. I was quite happy when it was featured in WIll Alston's thread on Writing Good History Questions. This turned into exasperation when I saw that it became the center of a debate over whether such answerlines were good or desirable or gettable or whatever. I personally thought that the question was well-clued and had a reasonable answerline, but at the time I didn't really have any way to articulate this defense. Over time I have realized that this is a part of a pernicious pattern in quizbowl tournament criticism--where people will devote huge swaths of forum space and attention to what they see as defects, however minor, ignoring what good work has been done and the capabilities of the people who are working on the tournament.

In conclusion, I hope that people can stop themselves from treating others as "Ineffectual Minor Character," whether intentionally or unintentionally, and recognize that many are indeed putting in effort to the best of their ability, even if it is not immediately apparent. This, I think, is the key to making quizbowl less insular. Once people know that they are seen as more than "Ineffectual Minor Character," I think that they will have all the more incentive to voice their opinions and reach out to others to become involved in running organizations or editing tournaments. Personal side note: I have made my own mistakes in my interactions with others in the community and want to apologize if I have treated you this way or been rude or disrespectful.
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Re: How to make college quizbowl less insular

Post by vinteuil » Sat Apr 07, 2018 10:17 am

wcheng wrote: My impetus for posting on this thread is a bit odd: it's a team name from the Historature sign-up sheet for ICT. A few days ago, Justin Hawkins, Jack Lewis (a freshman coming in to Maryland next year), and I decided to form a team for Historature. I put in a name for our team, but found a day or two later that it was changed to "Ineffectual Minor Character."

Now, I understand that there's supposed to be some kind of joke throughout the team names, that they're references or Yu-Gi-Oh abridged or something, but this particular joke actually stung for me.
For 2015 CO, Jerry et al. chose the name "Cock Bros International Institute for Plagiarism" for my team. Like Weijia, I understood then and now that this is a joke, but like, it shouldn't be hard to imagine what words people might not want their names next to online.
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Re: How to make college quizbowl less insular

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Sat Apr 07, 2018 11:47 am

vinteuil wrote:
wcheng wrote: My impetus for posting on this thread is a bit odd: it's a team name from the Historature sign-up sheet for ICT. A few days ago, Justin Hawkins, Jack Lewis (a freshman coming in to Maryland next year), and I decided to form a team for Historature. I put in a name for our team, but found a day or two later that it was changed to "Ineffectual Minor Character."

Now, I understand that there's supposed to be some kind of joke throughout the team names, that they're references or Yu-Gi-Oh abridged or something, but this particular joke actually stung for me.
For 2015 CO, Jerry et al. chose the name "Cock Bros International Institute for Plagiarism" for my team. Like Weijia, I understood then and now that this is a joke, but like, it shouldn't be hard to imagine what words people might not want their names next to online.
My apologies for anybody who may have been offended by team name choice - particularly to the UMD folks, who I've had the pleasure of playing many practice games with, and who work hard to maintain a great club. Perhaps it would have been better for me to give that name to a team composed of "insiders." In any case, the name has been changed.
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Re: How to make college quizbowl less insular

Post by Cheynem » Sat Apr 07, 2018 12:00 pm

Is "What a Digital Dummy" an improvement in team name? :wink:
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Re: How to make college quizbowl less insular

Post by Sylvia Pankhurst » Sat Apr 07, 2018 1:04 pm

One thing that no one has discussed is that Quizbowl is already quite insular by the time you get to college. Most of my earliest memories of quizbowl are standing outside of the circle of "elite" Illinois players while they talked to my better teammates and I and whatever other 4th scorer we'd brought stood silently watching this and waiting for the next round to start so we'd become almost relevant again. Now, of course, this makes sense. You want to talk about the questions with the other people who'd gotten more than maybe one tossup every other round and over time those between round talks turn into real friendships. But there aren’t that many feelings worse than standing outside of that circle and knowing your presence is utterly unwanted.
So, regardless of whether you’re in collegiate or middle school quizbowl, when you see that team who doesn’t know anyone else standing aimlessly around please talk to them. And captains, make an effort to integrate the entire team. It makes a world of difference.

One other thing is that screenshots from group chats have a way of being sent to people outside of their intended audience, so when you call your opponents “hs randos and nobodies” because you don’t think you should be losing, you’re the problem.
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Re: How to make college quizbowl less insular

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Sat Apr 07, 2018 2:09 pm

Cheynem wrote:Is "What a Digital Dummy" an improvement in team name? :wink:
You are lucky that you guys chose an amazing team name, otherwise I'd give you "Ineffectual Minor Characters" now
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Re: How to make college quizbowl less insular

Post by Sam » Sat Apr 07, 2018 2:33 pm

wcheng wrote:When the original poll was posted, I voted "Too insular" and "Lack of professionalism." With this post I'd like to offer my opinion on why I think college quizbowl is too insular, as someone who hasn't really been involved in college quizbowl for that long and whose time (and, unfortunately, interest) in quizbowl is steadily dwindling.
It's interesting you bring up both "too insular" and "lack of professionalism," because I think the first is often just a manifestation of the second. Coming up with goofy and slightly insulting team names is sometimes fine, sometimes not, depending if people are in on the joke, but it's definitely not something that any TD would do in a professional setting. Getting through to write for NSC through Jordanian intervention would probably not be necessary with a more formalized and bureaucratic application process.

The reason I think it's important to recognize when insularity is really lack of professionalism is the perception of insularity can be very subjective and based on very local conditions. I also worry a commonly given solution to insularity is "make everyone everyone else's friend," which is not feasible and if anything perpetuates the issue of knowing key people as being a necessary condition for quiz bowl success. What is means to "act professionally," on the other hand, is less contentious, and can reassure newer players that they will be treated the same as existing ones.

EDIT: I don't want to say that the correct way to act in all quiz bowl settings is to be a starched shirt. The advice people have given in this thread of asking new players on your team how they are doing and just be a friendly person in general are correct, but perhaps more geared for retaining players at existing teams. For thing that are more global in scope, like attracting new teams or getting new people to write and edit tournaments, erring on the side of starched shirt may be the way to go.
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Re: How to make college quizbowl less insular

Post by wcheng » Sat Apr 07, 2018 3:36 pm

Sam wrote:
wcheng wrote:When the original poll was posted, I voted "Too insular" and "Lack of professionalism." With this post I'd like to offer my opinion on why I think college quizbowl is too insular, as someone who hasn't really been involved in college quizbowl for that long and whose time (and, unfortunately, interest) in quizbowl is steadily dwindling.
It's interesting you bring up both "too insular" and "lack of professionalism," because I think the first is often just a manifestation of the second. Coming up with goofy and slightly insulting team names is sometimes fine, sometimes not, depending if people are in on the joke, but it's definitely not something that any TD would do in a professional setting. Getting through to write for NSC through Jordanian intervention would probably not be necessary with a more formalized and bureaucratic application process.

The reason I think it's important to recognize when insularity is really lack of professionalism is the perception of insularity can be very subjective and based on very local conditions. I also worry a commonly given solution to insularity is "make everyone everyone else's friend," which is not feasible and if anything perpetuates the issue of knowing key people as being a necessary condition for quiz bowl success. What is means to "act professionally," on the other hand, is less contentious, and can reassure newer players that they will be treated the same as existing ones.

EDIT: I don't want to say that the correct way to act in all quiz bowl settings is to be a starched shirt. The advice people have given in this thread of asking new players on your team how they are doing and just be a friendly person in general are correct, but perhaps more geared for retaining players at existing teams. For thing that are more global in scope, like attracting new teams or getting new people to write and edit tournaments, erring on the side of starched shirt may be the way to go.
This is a great point; I voted for both of those issues because I saw them as intertwined, but chose to comment on the first since I don't feel particularly qualified to discuss the second. If quizbowl took steps to create formal channels to help interested new players become involved with tournaments and offer feedback, I think some of the edge of the insularity would be dulled. Maybe the proposed scheduling committee could potentially serve in this role, but people will have to be careful to prevent such a committee from becoming yet another vehicle for insularity.
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Re: How to make college quizbowl less insular

Post by Ethnic history of the Vilnius region » Sat Apr 07, 2018 6:22 pm

Sam wrote: I also worry a commonly given solution to insularity is "make everyone everyone else's friend," which is not feasible and if anything perpetuates the issue of knowing key people as being a necessary condition for quiz bowl success. What is means to "act professionally," on the other hand, is less contentious, and can reassure newer players that they will be treated the same as existing ones.
Generally, I don't think "make everyone else's friend" is really being proposed. But like Bruce said, a good way to break insularity is to just talk to people. Doesn't have to be much. I'll never forget when I was an undergrad and our team got beaten badly by one of the great early 2000s Michigan teams. After the match, Zeke Berdichevsky came up and chatted with me for a little bit and asked if South Carolina was going to ACF Nats. Nothing major, and I'm sure Zeke didn't think anything of it, but it meant a lot to me that an all-time great player from the best team in the country would chat with me and be interested in whether we would go to ACF Nats. It encouraged me and we decided to go ahead and make the trip to Nats.
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Re: How to make college quizbowl less insular

Post by thebluehawk1 » Sat Apr 07, 2018 8:08 pm

Something I think we could try is after a Fall/novice tournament we could have a sort of new team/player seminar where the host school lays out the resources available maybe talk about how to get money for tournaments, talk about how the season works, and overall just provide a human face to quizbowl interaction. Perhaps the host school can bring in veterans from other schools in their region so that new teams can have a better introduction to more people in their circuit. Additionally this could be accompanied by a sort of social mixer after, so new teams can interact with each other and veteran teams. Most the time quizbowl people may seem imposing at first, but if there is some sort of excuse perhaps we can make ourselves more approachable (or make the approach ourselves) they will find we aren't so bad. Obviously we don't all have to be friends with everyone, but we can at least make quizbowl a socially inviting place.
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Re: How to make college quizbowl less insular

Post by Protean » Sat Apr 07, 2018 9:18 pm

Not to bring up a certain sore topic, but evoking private messages from "quizbowl luminaries" in order to malign people that disagree with you in collegiate discussion does not help quizbowl's case against insularity or being unprofessional. It is not a good look for quizbowl to give off the impression that if I, a random quizbowl nobody, happen to disagree with the "in-group" I will at best be dismissed with a "yawn" or at worst be made fun of in private messages which will then be publicly posted if I voice my opinion. I didn't even necessarily disagree with the original post in question but that's High School Clique of Popular Mean Kids-level discourse. I understand that not everything was completely serious (nor is it even the norm) but in the context of insularity and lack of professionalism being the most pressing problems of quizbowl today I'm not sure how anyone thinks this won't turn people away. A line can be found between levity and professionalism but this is not it.
A Very Long Math Tossup wrote:In my opinion, the quizbowl community isn't insular, per se. It can, however, appear that way to outsiders.
I might argue that this is functionally the same thing. Regardless of whether or not everyone is best buds with everyone else, if it seems like they are, a new person is still going to be equally intimidated.
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Re: How to make college quizbowl less insular

Post by Sam » Sat Apr 07, 2018 11:56 pm

Ethnic history of the Vilnius region wrote: Generally, I don't think "make everyone else's friend" is really being proposed. But like Bruce said, a good way to break insularity is to just talk to people. Doesn't have to be much. I'll never forget when I was an undergrad and our team got beaten badly by one of the great early 2000s Michigan teams. After the match, Zeke Berdichevsky came up and chatted with me for a little bit and asked if South Carolina was going to ACF Nats. Nothing major, and I'm sure Zeke didn't think anything of it, but it meant a lot to me that an all-time great player from the best team in the country would chat with me and be interested in whether we would go to ACF Nats. It encouraged me and we decided to go ahead and make the trip to Nats.
Yes, I walked back a little from this point in the edit, because I think the suggestion Bruce and others have is a good one. I probably underestimated how fruitful it can be, too, not just in retaining individuals but in attracting newer teams.

In terms of the in-jokes and gossip and what-have-you people have complained about, though, I think the simplest solution is to cut the in-jokes and gossip and what-have-you in situations where it's not appropriate (as others have already said). Beyond that, people have also complained about not knowing the unwritten norms and rules about how to write for tournaments or become involved in organizations. For those cases, the most direct fix is to make the unwritten rules written ones, so you don't have to know Jordan or Rob or another luminary to know how to write for NSC or how ACF editors are chosen. I would categorize both those solutions are "acting more professionally." But it's true that also just talking to new people and making an effort to engage them is important, and dispassionate impartiality isn't always a substitute for that.
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Re: How to make college quizbowl less insular

Post by Habitat_Against_Humanity » Sun Apr 08, 2018 1:28 am

Protean wrote:Not to bring up a certain sore topic, but evoking private messages from "quizbowl luminaries" in order to malign people that disagree with you in collegiate discussion does not help quizbowl's case against insularity or being unprofessional. It is not a good look for quizbowl to give off the impression that if I, a random quizbowl nobody, happen to disagree with the "in-group" I will at best be dismissed with a "yawn" or at worst be made fun of in private messages which will then be publicly posted if I voice my opinion. I didn't even necessarily disagree with the original post in question but that's High School Clique of Popular Mean Kids-level discourse. I understand that not everything was completely serious (nor is it even the norm) but in the context of insularity and lack of professionalism being the most pressing problems of quizbowl today I'm not sure how anyone thinks this won't turn people away. A line can be found between levity and professionalism but this is not it.
I might be misreading this comment myself, but in case the reference to the "in-group" is meant in relation to my use of the term: I used the term "in group" not in the "The cool kids are all sit at the In-Group lunch table" sense. The "in-group"/"out-group" distinction is common terminology in social psychology that literally refers to people who are members of the same group. The words "in" and "out" carry no valence.
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Re: How to make college quizbowl less insular

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Sun Apr 08, 2018 11:51 pm

Don't let threads like this, which is about one of the first kinds of things I suspect new people gravitate towards, be the way we discuss nationals.
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Re: How to make college quizbowl less insular

Post by UlyssesInvictus » Wed Apr 11, 2018 12:35 am

jmarvin_ wrote: Such a response has not been garnered by Conor's, my own, and others' completely contradictory anecdotal accounts, which in the other thread were rightfully received with reticence for reason of their nature as particular reports. [...]
Cheynem wrote: I think at least why I liked Charles' story is [...]
I'm interested in these two sentences from the Powers thread because they also suggest to me part of why QB, and especially the forums, can also seem insular sometimes. To be extreme, I do think that the forums can be extremely zealous sometimes, even when correct. If you post something incorrect, rude, or--possibly worst of all--ignorant, people will (rightly!) tell you that you are being incorrect, rude, or ignorant.

However, to casual new players/community members who are just reading, this can often feel like the "established community" ganging up on others. I think this is true, and have felt this to be true, even when the "person in the wrong" is egregiously in the wrong. That is, even though the "in crowd" has the high ground, it's not a compelling look. Often times, even if I felt like I had something useful to add, I'd rather just not get involved at all.

I like John's point, because it seems to provide evidence that this "ganging up" can happen even subtly, when compelling points from some people are just ignored--not maliciously, but just by the fact there might not be anything worth immediately responding to.

I like how Mike started his post, because it suggests how this might be addressable: even if you (vehemently) disagree with someone, I find it helpful (as a reader) to read posts that try and understand how someone came to a certain point you find incorrect, before you lay on all the reasons you disagree. For example "Here's why you're wrong" vs. "(This is probably why you think this; and I understand why you think this; but) Here's why you're wrong." Of course, if someone is being obstinately obnoxious, this courtesy goes out the window. (I understand Mike is actually not really disagreeing with anyone in his post, but I still very much appreciate it as a constructive attempt to empathize with someone's point of view.)
Last edited by UlyssesInvictus on Wed Apr 11, 2018 12:40 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: How to make college quizbowl less insular

Post by UlyssesInvictus » Wed Apr 11, 2018 12:40 am

On a different topic of thought, I'm also interested to hear how people might have dealt with insularity in other clubs/disciplines. What I'm wondering right now is if the problem isn't just that all "activities" are insular by default, and some are just very good at finding ways to inclusively work against a natural tendency toward insularity.

On the same line of thought, but more exaggeratedly, I also wonder if QB is just kind of even more naturally insular. There's not much downtime, and that which you do have isn't often spent socializing. At most tournaments I've been to, most people don't talk pre-round, when in their rooms, except to their own team members; and most people don't talk to other people at the general announcements except to people they already know. Do people have experience with this in other sports?
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Re: How to make college quizbowl less insular

Post by ErikC » Wed Apr 11, 2018 12:51 am

UlyssesInvictus wrote:On the same line of thought, but more exaggeratedly, I also wonder if QB is just kind of even more naturally insular. There's not much downtime, and that which you do have isn't often spent socializing. At most tournaments I've been to, most people don't talk pre-round, when in their rooms, except to their own team members; and most people don't talk to other people at the general announcements except to people they already know. Do people have experience with this in other sports?
I think this greatly depends on which region you're in regarding pre-round. At Canadian tournaments I find myself talking to new players every year. If you have the time before the game, you can be the change here.
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Re: How to make college quizbowl less insular

Post by UlyssesInvictus » Wed Apr 11, 2018 12:58 am

Thanks for saying that Erik, I definitely should have commented this is my personal experience, and I'm also wondering if people have felt similarly in their QB experiences. This could easily reflect more on me or the teams I've been part of then any general, or even common, QB experience.
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