2019 David Riley Players and Coaches Conference - LOCATION CHANGE

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2019 David Riley Players and Coaches Conference - LOCATION CHANGE

Post by Lagotto Romagnolo » Thu May 09, 2019 11:20 am

The Partnership for Academic Competition Excellence is pleased to announce that the David Riley Coaches Conference will be held at this year's National Scholastic Championship on Friday night June 7th, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Reston, in the Lake Audubon Ballroom (this is not the same location as last year. Lake Audubon is also on the second floor, but is across from the Grand Ballroom Foyer).

Panelists will be announced in the next few weeks. We intend to cover topics that are helpful to both players and coaches.

To sign up for the conference, please use this form.

We hope to make MP3s of the complete conference available.

Regardless of your ability to attend, your suggestions on topics to cover would be appreciated. Click here for a suggestion submission form.

EDITED to reflect the location change
Last edited by Lagotto Romagnolo on Tue Jun 04, 2019 3:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 2019 David Riley Players and Coaches Conference

Post by Lagotto Romagnolo » Fri May 24, 2019 2:58 pm

Our panelists are:

Alex Damisch - ACF Treasurer and Misconduct Rep
Matt Bollinger - University of Virginia Alumnus
Ankit Aggarwal - PACE and NCQBA
Jackie Wu - PACE Vice President of Outreach
Olivia Lamberti - Adlai E. Stevenson High School
Sohum Shenoy - Charter School of Wilmington
Dennis Loo - IMSA Coach
Lakshmy Parameswaran and Juli Cohen - Beavercreek High School Parents/Coaches
Last edited by Lagotto Romagnolo on Sat Jun 01, 2019 1:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 2019 David Riley Players and Coaches Conference

Post by Lagotto Romagnolo » Thu May 30, 2019 2:52 pm

As a preview, three topics we will cover are:

- Staffing, volunteering, and writing for the first time
- The impact of team rankings on the community
- Conduct and interactions between community members of different ages
Last edited by Lagotto Romagnolo on Mon Jun 03, 2019 11:43 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 2019 David Riley Players and Coaches Conference

Post by Lagotto Romagnolo » Sat Jun 01, 2019 1:08 pm

To clarify: registration is not mandatory, it is merely to ensure we have enough seating and so we can notify attendees in the event of changes.
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Re: 2019 David Riley Players and Coaches Conference - LOCATION CHANGE

Post by Lagotto Romagnolo » Mon Jun 10, 2019 1:49 pm

Thank you again to our panel and everyone who attended! We hope to post the recording this week, with a transcript to follow shortly thereafter.
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Re: 2019 David Riley Players and Coaches Conference - LOCATION CHANGE

Post by tabstop » Sun Jun 16, 2019 3:03 pm

Thanks to Aaron Rosenberg, we have the audio from the David Riley Players and Coaches Conference available on the PACE website.
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Re: 2019 David Riley Players and Coaches Conference - LOCATION CHANGE

Post by Lagotto Romagnolo » Sun Jun 16, 2019 8:27 pm

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Re: 2019 David Riley Players and Coaches Conference - LOCATION CHANGE

Post by Lagotto Romagnolo » Mon Jun 17, 2019 12:17 pm

Also my apologies for the snippets of missing audio in the first hour, which occur at:

1:49 (first part of Jackie's introduction)
3:58 (Jackie's speech on volunteering gets cut off)
4:39 (missing a sentence or two from Ankit)
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Re: 2019 David Riley Players and Coaches Conference - LOCATION CHANGE

Post by A Very Long Math Tossup » Thu Jul 04, 2019 1:21 pm

Hour 1 transcript:

Aaron Rosenberg: Alright everyone, welcome on behalf of PACE to the 2019 David Riley Coaches Conference, er, Players and Coaches Conference. My name's Aaron, and on behalf of PACE, thank you all for coming. We do this every year for the improvement of quizbowl and the community, and in memory of our former member David Riley, who, in the words of quizbowler Morgan Venkus: as coach of Loyola Academy for 20 years, pushed his students as hard as he pushed the state of Illinois to become good and develop a dynamic quizbowl circuit. It's largely due to his efforts that we have such a healthy circuit there today, and upon his passing in 2015, he left us all a very strong legacy that we try to continue with this conference. So, before we get started with the discussion, I'd like to welcome our wonderful panel here. Would you like to start introducing yourselves, with the schools and groups you represent? We have a ninth who will be joining us shortly.

Alex Damisch: Hi, my name's Alex, I played quizbowl at Lawrence University and DePaul University where I got my master's. I am a member of PACE and ACF, and for ACF, I am formerly the treasurer and as of this week, now the mirror coordinator and also the misconduct form rep.

Matt Bollinger: Hi, I'm Matt Bollinger, I'm from Virginia and played for the University of Virginia for a while, and I'm the Communications Officer for ACF.

Lakshmy Parameswaran: Hi, my name is Lakshmy Parameswaran, I'm Hari's mother and the coach/chaperone/parent for the Beavercreek quizbowl team from Ohio.

Juli Cohen: I'm Juli Cohen, I am also with Beavercreek High School. I have a daughter currently on the team and my son played until last year with Beavercreek.

Jackie Wu: I'm president of Carnegie Mellon quizbowl and I'm also the vice president of outreach for PACE, and outside of that I'm also an editor for the Greater Pennsylvania Quizbowl blog.

Ankit Aggarwal: Hi everybody, my name's Ankit. I was captain of the Bellarmine College Preparatory quizbowl team, I served as president of UC Berkeley quizbowl, and I'm currently a member of PACE and the vice president of the Northern California Quizbowl Alliance.

Olivia Lamberti: Hi, I'm Olivia, I'm a senior with Stevenson in Illinois who will be attending Stanford next year, and I hope to be involved with quizbowl there, and I'm also a provisional member of ACF.

Sohum Shenoy: I'm Sohum Shenoy, I'm a current senior at the Charter School of Wilmington, better known in the quizbowl world as Wilmington Charter. Next year I will start playing for Georgia Tech.

Aaron: Alright, so first a brief outline of the conference: this will consist of a two-hour conference divided into two segments of an hour each. We'll have a brief break from 7:50 to 8:00 PM. The first hour will be devoted to making your home in quizbowl, we've decided. That will include volunteering and staffing and writing questions for the first time, as well as getting involved in outreach, and we'll also even touch on the role of parents and chaperones. After that, we're going to take a break, and then come back and talk about three specific topics which didn't really fall into that previous category, which are relationships between members of different age groups, the impact of team rankings, and finally we'll finish up with a discussion of study strategies and carding and all that, before moving on to audience questions.

Alright, so, why don't we get started then? Specifically, one question we got was staffing, volunteering, and writing questions for the first time. Suppose you're a new player, and you're concerned that "oh, my first questions are gonna get rejected," or "I have no idea how to staff or run a tournament." Where do you begin?

Jackie: So, at least I can talk about the staffing part a little bit. I staffed my first tournament at the beginning of my junior year, and so basically just realized that a lot of tournaments [inaudible]

Ankit: So, when you're considering being involved for the first time, wherever you're going, like maybe for college or wherever you are currently, you should kind of look for who the movers and shakers are in the area where you are currently situated or you are going to be situated. This can be found out through the forums: often, people who are prolific tournament directors will post on the forums. You can email NAQT, you can email, sort of, authorities who can help you get involved. On the other hand, you might want to be a mover and shaker yourself, and how do you get to that stage? When I was in high school, local, competitive, high school quizbowl in the bay area was kind of sparse to say the least. There were only a few tournaments every year. My team personally went and traveled to find more competition because there just weren't that many tournaments happening around the bay area. We decided---at least I personally decided, that when I graduated high school, I was going to make a move to, kind of, change that, 'cause I went to high school and college in the same general area, in the Bay Area. I went to UC Berkeley, and over there, I and a former alumnus of my high school decided that we were going to try to increase the frequency of tournaments in our area, and furthermore, we were also going to try and make it so that more and more schools could know what a fantastic activity quizbowl was. At that time, Nicholas Karas, Tanay Kothari, and I started the California Cup series of tournaments and we started the Northern California Quizbowl Alliance along with NAQT member Jeff Hoppes, and from just having these few scattered tournaments with at maximum a dozen teams, in three years we went to tournaments with 64 teams, and that was through a persistent pattern of outreach through our peer networks, outreach through sorts of different---encouraging students to talk to their peers about what a great activity quizbowl was. And that's how we achieved that type of growth, and if you're coming to the bay area, we always sort of welcome people staffing.

Olivia: So, yeah, I've heard some stuff about staffing, and tournament directing, but I'd love to talk about writing because I think that's something that I've recently experienced. This past fall, I edited literature for ACF Fall as a high school senior, and that was an incredible experience---best thing ever--but I think a lot of people are really scared by that sort of, like---I don't know, maybe not even the big title, but the large responsibilities that writing takes. Also, just, quizbowl as a community is very much an open forum. We literally have, like, the forums, for example, and there's often that fear of being publicly flamed for a bad tossup or a bad leadin or something. Whether or not that is rational, I understand the fear of putting your hard work in front of a community of people and being curious about what their perception of it is going to be. What I would encourage people who are looking to get into writing to do is: (A) find a role model or role models, like Ankit said, the movers and shakers of the writing community. Often, in almost all cases, they're super nice people, and though you should appreciate their labor and the time they would put in in talking to you, they're often quite willing to talk to you about questions and that sort of thing. Additionally, you should definitely just practice. Question writing is literally like anything else: just keep working at it and you will improve, especially if you're getting feedback on it from aforementioned mentors. Additionally, use the opportunities that are available to you. If you've graduated high school and you're over 18, NAQT has apps. There's other processes, there's PACE membership that happens separately. I guess we can talk about Madden, but there's NHBB stuff. There are lots of opportunities, regardless of what outlet you're using to write questions. Receiving feedback and writing those questions, that is the number one suggestion I have: keep writing!

Alex: Yeah, in fact, just to add on to one of the lists that Olivia was drawing up there, ACF also has open writer applications for both Fall and Regionals this year. The regionals one is new, so just more opportunities out there for applications for writing. Speaking as a bit of an older person on this panel, I guess, I would also encourage, if you a re trying to put together a set for a housewrite, if you don't have your full staff of writers and editors put together, put out an open call. Just say, "Hey, we have people who are doing literature and history and science; we need people who are doing fine arts and social studies." If you are on the other side of that, looking for opportunities for sets that don't have a complete writing team can be a great way to break into it as well.

Matt: So, my first writing assignment, I was hanging out in the old quizbowl IRC, which is a chatroom that's dead now, except for Floodge. Basically there was a tournament emergency going on, as there frequently was at that time. Now that we've complete fixed that problem, that won't happen [laughter]. Anyway, Eric Mukherjee just gave an open call for people to submit questions or freelance things. I think often, if you're kind of hanging around the scene, or in online spaces like Discord or whatever, people will be talking about tournaments they're writing for, or maybe they're behind and they need questions: that would be a good way just to lean in, and step forward, and all that stuff. There are lots of opportunities, you just have to jump in. It can be kind of informal, but the doors are open. Lakshmy: As a parent/chaperone, we are actively involved Beavercreek's quizbowl team. Actually, the quiz team started about four years ago when Hari was a freshman, and the next year they started the Beavercreek Fall Invitational Tournament and so as parents we played an important role in actually organizing and helping the team, as well as the coach, to put it together. Juli?

Juli: I would say and if you're coaching, and if you're a team captain, Hari has done a great job making sure that, kind of, the teammates understand that part of the expectation is to help put those tournaments on. arents sometimes don't know where they fit, in depending on how open the coach is to help. It's sometimes hard to find your way, but if you have from the beginning an expectation that if you're part of this team then your family is part of the team too, you've now opened up a whole host of opportunities for people to both be involved with their students and also to help staff, and then we did have our team work together to write as a team---not as individuals. They had a great deal of fun, there was much shouting from my family room overhead, as they argued about the propriety or solubility of different questions. So, you know, having having everybody involved and from the outset understanding that that's part of the equation, I think, helps it happen and helps ownership in it.

Alex: I just wanted to talk about---we mentioned things like staffing and writing. I want to talk really quickly about staffing and getting started tournament directing. And that's such a great segue, because it can be really hard to get started with those kind of things when you don't have the institutional support. I went to a really small college for my undergrad where our quizbowl team actually fairly healthy in the sense that we usually had about 10 people, but we didn't really have enough to put together a really large tournament or anything like that for people in the area. One of the ways that you can get involved in tournament directing if you do have the institutional support is to look for housewrites and other sets that are looking for mirrors. You don't have to both create questions and host the tournament and do everything yourself. You can look for sets are being written that are looking for locations across the country where they want to be played, and that can be a really good way if you do have the staff and to start getting involved in logistics work. There's tons of resources available online, if you go on QBWiki it can link you to tons of different guides for TDs. There's no need to reinvent the wheel the entire time; resources like that are definitely out there online.

Sohum: As Alex was talking about, with tournament directing, that's one of the cooler roles in running a quizbowl tournament. I think a lot of people, when they think about staffing, they think about only reading or scorekeeping, but being in the control room there's so many different roles that you can have there as well. The tournament director is usually the person that, you know, makes sure that the logistics are running well but then you also have people that are running stats that are working with SQBS, Neg5 and a couple of other possible programs. So, if you want to get involved with that, then you can probably just ask and either get experience with it or get some resources from people who have more experience in the community, and that's a really good way to get started.

Jackie: So, regarding tournament directing, I know Alex talked a little about doing it in college, but in terms of doing it in high school: that was one of the things I also did when I was first starting to get more into the quizbowl community. Originally it started out because we realized we needed money, which is a legit reason to host a tournament, because you do make money out of doing that. So, as a high-schooler, it's kind of difficult to reach out to other teams to get them to come, and you know, gain the trust of like coaches and adults to be like "Hey, come pay like $80 a team to play at this thing I'm putting on," just as a high schooler. But I would say, if you reach out to a lot of people in your community---I know in Pennsylvania there's a lot of older people who are willing to help, or like college students are willing to come and staff---if you reach out to them, they'll have plenty of advice. Like Alex said, there's a lot of resources online that you can look at, and so no matter what age you are, if you, like, put in the effort into directing a good tournament, people will come and people will appreciate your effort and it'll be a good experience for everyone.

Ankit: I would also remember that the people who make your tournaments possible are the people who started for the first time, so if you keep that in mind when you're going forward you also that get a sense how you yourself can positively impact the activity and the lives of the people who participate in this game.

Aaron: Actually, I have one more thing I want to add to the discussion of writing for the first time, and that's the fact that these days standards have gotten so high, and especially the top level, there's the expectation that you'll be more creative. So, how do you address that if you're just starting out as a writer, how much emphasis should be put on that. Olivia, would you like to speak to that?

Matt: Well if you have a great idea go for it, but like, I think that should not be your priority as a starting writer if you're writing for a high school tournament or for a packet submission or something. What Jonathan Magin told me when I was just starting out was, like, just write a good question and you're like 70th or you're like 80th percentile already. If the clues are all true, and then the right order, and useful---not just like "this painting has a red square in the top left corner" or something like that---then the editor who sees your packet will love you. So, focus, spend all your energy if you're starting out on that and writing, like, competent good question on an answer line that's difficult the appropriate. If you have a great idea, again go for it, but I wouldn't stress about that if you're starting out.

Olivia: And yeah, just to add on everything that MattBo said, just like write good questions, but also I think, with the creativity point, like, more new voices is what births creativity in quizbowl. Like, oh my goodness, that's how good, new, innovative questions start 'cause we have fresh new blood in the quizbowl writing programs. So yeah, especially with the rise of, new standards of creativity, like I think it's great to get as many voices and as diverse writer group as possible.

Sohum: I guess I could talk about this. I guess even if you do if great ideas, those are great, but it's not necessary that---I should phrase this properly, I guess---you probably shouldn't commit yourself to writing a tournament just because you want to write questions. I think that a lot of people in the quizbowl community kind of focus really hard on the process of writing questions and then tie that directly to writing for a tournament and trying to use that tournament to, like, have mirrors and then get money, and unfortunately it leads to either rushed sets or sets that you know suffer from the same problems year after year if they continue for multiple iterations. I have some personal experience with this because I thought I had a great idea with a high school set that I came up with the idea for. Some of you may know it, it's called FACTS. It's kind of infamous right now, because we had mirrors scheduled for last year, and the idea was basically to take the normal high school housewrite and have the, you know, 15/16 packets that you would in a normal set, but have six of those be packets submission, which are, you know, more common in the college level, especially for ACF, and doing it for high school turned out not to be such a great idea. I mean, there are others things that plagued the production that I really don't want to get into right now 'cause that would take too long, but I think that a lot of, at least, my ambition for it was trying to get something out there. I wanted to write questions, but I tied that directly to the goal of like, getting a set in production, and that may not have been the best idea. It's a great idea if you want to just write questions for fun when you're starting out, and maybe have someone else---like Olivia said, a mentor---look over them, and that might give you some good feedback before everyone else in the forms can criticize that publicly.

Ankit: One note I'll make about the creativity inherent in question writing is that creativity is great, and there is a temptation to have a clues that are like fun clues, clues that depict something "out there." One of the things that you want to make sure of is that what you are writing is actually, like, factually true. For example, to take a notorious recent example, the Met is not actually the MoMA [laughter], and there's like a best-selling history book floating around that says that this Ming explorer discovered America in 1421, which is also not true, so remember that we are first and foremost an academic activity with academic standards, and great writers like like Matt Bollinger will spend a lot of time trying to like established the veracity of what they're writing about, and that is something that you too want to emulate.

Aaron Don't write from memory, you said?

Alex: Yeah, that's what I was gonna say, don't write from memory. You don't remember things as well as you think you do.

Aaron: Yes, well said. That is not a weakness, that is life. Let's pause for a moment here to welcome Dennis who survived the TSA and the FAA. Dennis, would you like to introduce yourself?

Dennis Loo: Hi, I'm Dennis Loo, I'm the coach of IMSA. Before that I coached at TJ, and before that I play undergrad at Virginia Tech and graduate at UVA where, I got a front row seat to this guy [points to Matt Bollinger].

Alex: And I'm between two Virginians here!

Aaron: All right, well, now that you're here we can move on to our next focus of this hour, which is a topic you wanted to bring up, which is maturity and all the things that come with that, which ideally should go hand-in-hand with getting more experience, volunteering, staffing, and writing. What say you?

Dennis: Okay, so quizbowl is a game about knowing things, but one of the things that people have probably noticed after a while is that maturity is highly underrated. We all know people with, say, phenomenal memories, curious, whatever, but let's say that if they're very immature, that leads to problems. The example I like to use is that, it's great if you can throw 99 miles per hour; it's doesn't really help if you can't actually get the ball over the plate. So, maturity influences everything from studying to gameplay, and it's pretty essential to like maximizing what talent you do have, cause---we haven't talked about studying yet, right?

Alex: No.

Dennis: Okay. Just for things like, say, actually stick to having a goal, sticking to it, reminding yourself of it when you don't necessarily feel like doing the work, and in-game, I guess the easiest way to observe it is when things are not going your team's way. So I'm sure all of us have put up some horrendously bad negs at some point. We have all done it. If you've played for any length of time you have probably cost your team a game once just because you screwed up, and it happens. So like, the most visible way to tell whether a team has their act together is what happens after that. Can they concentrate on the next question or the next game, or do they just fall apart? This is completely non-scientific---I have small sample sizes---but I have been keeping track of, sort of, times when a team sort of falls apart or something, and my estimates---again I have no large datasets backing this or anything---but my guess is that if you're talking about games between some top 10 teams in the country, maturity is easily worth 10 points per game. Like out of 400ish they score, just either if somebody is not paying attention to the next question after after they negged, if there head just goes down and then they're not paying attention, they maybe missed the bounce back part because they're still so worried about messing up the toss-up that at PACE, they're going to mess up/they're not even listening to the bonus. One of the other things that you want to look for---and again, it's one of the things if you recognize yourself in it, it's something that we all try to work on---all of us are going to neg. Don't blow up with your teammates when they neg. They feel terrible enough as it is, in fact, especially if you're used to carrying the team, you're still going to need your second third fourth scores to be willing to buzz in. If you just get them to the point where if you blow up at them after they neg, then they're just simply going to stop buzzing in, and that's going to hurt you worse in the long run. Yes so anybody have anything else before...

Matt: I was just going to say that the converse of that is that one of the good things about quizbowl is that it's a way to, like, develop maturity in some ways. Some people don't [laughter], but like, lot of people play sports for that reason because sports force you to like stay calm under pressure, they force you to work with the team, they force you to like have long-term goals that you work towards in like shorter increments, and they force you to like either be a leader or be a follower depending on how you recognize your situation. Quizbowl, for a lot of people who wouldn't be interested in playing sports, can kind of provide that role. You know, you take a hard loss and you learn from it, or you make some mistakes you make some mistakes, and how you try to motivate your teammates and stuff and you reflect on that and you learn from those mistakes, and that can be really socially valuable thing on that it provides for quizbowl players.

Dennis: With some of my current team, we even have we even have things we try to do, just to get people---in a way, if we can't be mature yet we can at least start going through the motions and fake it, and some of it rubs off. For instance we've taken to actually, after a bad neg, getting somebody to literally turn the page of their notebook. Like that, it's gone, it's done, we've turned the page on that question, that game, move on. It is something that people work on and you will probably notice that you get a lot better at it from freshman to sophomore to junior to senior year.

Ankit: As somebody who's coached a couple middle school teams, I know very well the value of maturity. It literally does make all the difference, just the ability. I've even taught some of my students to like, kind of meditate and center themselves before rounds just to be able to be present in the moment of a particular match. Like, they have develop a sense of what I call temporary amnesia, where as soon as an event happens, you just have to forget that it happened, even if that is like a great buzz or an neg. They just have to be like focused and in the moment of any given match.

Sohum: I guess one thing the people, at least when they first start looking quizbowl stats, think is that PPG is kind of like your worth, in a way, and that sets a mindset of some younger players. So, one thing that I do with kids in my club is, I ask them to read this article on the forums called "On Being a Fourth Scorer." I think Mike Cheyne made that forum post, and it basically talks about how even if you don't have, you know, the best PPG on the team, you can still make crucial contributions to the morale of your team, to, you know, getting some really good pulls on bonus parts. In that way, I don't think that people should value each other based on PPG. I think at the higher levels, of course, that doesn't really happen as often, but it's really important to note that you are important regardless of how much you score, and that's something that maybe as people play a little more and get a little bit more mature, they will begin to realize. Hopefully that builds good teams.

Aaron: Shall we asked the real adults in the room?

Juli: All right, so Lakshmy's not going to say this, but I will: Hari is amazing, all right. I've had two children play with him, and if you have a strong player on your team---I've watched quizbowl now for four years, I am in no way an expert, I did not get to play, I would have been the fourth scorer in a team of three [laughter]. But, having someone who is a gifted player like the one you are talking about, who has the knowledge of 99% of the world's information, who is still gracious, and whose behavior in that way is encouraged is---the value on the team is incalculable. Because if that person doesn't get pissed off when you neg, then you have absolutely zero right to get pissed off when anybody else negs. I think the the value of having a team leader who has that mindset, as a parent and a fill-in coach, it can't be overstated.

Alex: So, I just wanted to say really quickly, this does seem to be something that the quizbowl community is holding itself to a higher standard to, from year to year. I find more that, the most talented players nowadays are often just fantastic people as well, and so I think we are holding ourselves to higher standards of behavior and how we interact with other people, which is really heartwarming to see.

Olivia: And sort of going off what Mrs. Cohen said, I think a lot of the immaturity, or the immature behaviors that we witness, are just a result of like, insecurities about your value in the game. As someone who is not the first scorer, I understand the desire to beat myself up after I neg or something---like, "do I deserve a place here?," like that sort of insecure thought is what leads to immature outbursts. So for me, what has really sort of helped with that sort of thought, is just creating my place in the quizbowl community in other ways. Just echoing when a lot of people have said here already tonight, you don't have to be the first scorer of your A team or whatever to have a valuable place in the community. There's so many opportunities through writing and staffing and everything, and online discussion boards: like, you can be a prolific poster, go you! [laughter] I think, there are just so many opportunities and they each have their own value, and yeah like, love everyone, you're important in this quizbowl family regardless of how many points you're scoring.

Jackie: And to go off of what we were saying previously about volunteering and staffing and TDing---those are all things that---doing those also could be a sign of maturity, like being able to put yourself on the other side of the buzzer and being able to help other people play quiz bowl and discover their place in the community, that's also a really fulfilling way to get involved and demonstrate maturity. Another point I was thinking about when you were talking about not being a first scorer, I've seen a lot of teams where the captain isn't necessarily the first scorer, and that's not like an accident a lot of time, because if you have a captain who's a really good leader and a good person at keeping the team together and improving the team morale, that's like a very important role that maybe isn't shown in their PPG, but that's shown in how their team does.

Dennis: And for those of you---I guess it's a little harder, just because your 3rd and 4th scorers at high school tend to be your underclassmen, but it really helps if they're stable, they don't tilt, and their teammates don't have to put any maintenance into them.

Aaron: Could you remind people what "tilt" means?

Dennis: Okay yes, "tilt" the term from, first, pinball where if you tilted the table you lost the ball, which migrated to poker and online gaming which meant loss of control, and loss of your game, and degeneration in your game, and now quizbowl where it usually ends up in neg storms. So, you see a team lose it, and then you see them neg three times in a row, and then they're done. I guess for those of you that are going to be playing in college one of the things that will help if you're a third or fourth score your first couple years (which is probably going to be the case) is if you are stable, you want to be an emotional rock for your team, as opposed to having to be somebody that requires constant maintenance. If you haven't read Mike Cheyne's thing---are we putting together a list of things?

Aaron: We'll have to link things on the forums and on the website.

Dennis: Yeah like, this is more relevant to college, but if you're the three or four on a college team you can look for other things to do as well, such as---hey, for those of you that have played in college, you're familiar with the long drives to wherever, and everybody wants to do that last minute cramming before whatever. Volunteer to drive. It's better for your top players to go in feeling like they've done all they could. If you have to drive 7 hours, great, that's something you can do for your team in addition to however many PPG you get.

Aaron: We've got about 10 minutes left in this hour, anyone have anything else on maturity before I move on? ... Right, so the last question we had for this hour was, maybe not so much making a home for yourself in quizbowl, but making a home for others. Specifically, getting out to teams who don't go beyond their local circuit that often, whether they're in a rural area or they never have gotten that far. Fortunately we have PACE's own VP of Outreach here, to put someone on the spot. Wants to start us off, Jackie?

Jackie: So, there's obviously different ways to approach different schools, I guess, that don't play quizbowl, but one interesting way that not a lot of people are aware of, is that there are so many other academic competitions out there that are kind of like quizbowl but don't follow the same format, or if they're not necessary like pyramidal questions, or some other quirk about it is different. But a lot of those teams are teams that would be interested in playing tournaments, and if they had the right people reaching out to their coaches or reaching out to their principals or activities directors, those are teams that you could get to tournaments who would enjoy the game. I know examples of that Pennsylvania, where I'm from, is, there are TV shows that have academic questions, there's other formats, there's even national competitions that use different formats that a lot of teams go to. Maybe those are the teams that have never heard about NAQT or PACE or any of the pyramidal quizbowl competitions. I guess, if you are in one of those local leagues or TV shows in your area, just try reaching out to those other teams that are there. I know in my high school, we had a county academic competition where they were maybe like 15 of those teams that just didn't play pyramidal quizbowl. Those were all teams that we wanted to get and who would probably enjoy playing tournaments, so I think that's a good place to try to reach out to teams.

Sohum: Disclaimer, most of what I'm about to say is advice that Jackie gave me at one point or another. I come from Delaware, and Delaware has not had an active circuit per se for about 10 years or so. So a lot of schools, if they had quizbowl teams before, those faculty or either no longer there or they just don't have an active program or they don't go to tournaments, or whatever it may be. Getting teams that have, in that regard, not done quizbowl before to do quizbowl, the in-person demo is actually really effective, so if you can set up a meeting or some sort of after-school time to go to a school, maybe bring a set of buzzers and some questions and maybe, you know, play through a couple of games with them---that'll actually be really interactive and a good way to get new teams to understand what quizbowl is and why it might be good for them. I guess the other thing, and this is something Jackie advised me to do, if you're running a tournament, especially, and you want to get a lot of new teams to come to the tournament---maybe it's their first time going to tournament---run a novice bracket and specifically within the novice bracket have prizes for new-to-quizbowl players. This is really good because it recognizes, you know, that teams that are experienced at quizbowl will fundamentally have an advantage over teams that are new to quizbowl because they don't have the time to get themselves up to the same level and/or preparation that other teams have had, so recognizing those efforts is really important because they really have worked hard to get to where they are. If they finish well at a local tournament, and it's their first tournament, they probably should get some recognition because that is a job well done.

Ankit: I'm going to second what Sohum said about promotion of the tournament. Those are all really great ideas, another thing I want to point out is that you could actually promote quizbowl to competitors in other adjacent academic competitions, like Science Bowl, History Bowl, AcaDeca, FBLA, DECA, debate, robotics. Those are all other academic competitions are drawn sort of a slice of what is asked about in quizbowl, and with the proper sort of appeal, you can in fact make quizbowl an appealing activity for them. Particularly if they get a lot of powers in their specialty in like a novice tournament setting, then they can kind of get the rush that associated with the power and it makes them much more likely to want to stick with it. Another thing that I want to point out about buzzer-based academic competitions, different ones than pyramidal quizbowl, is that we as a community have been inculcated with the idea that pyramidal quizbowl is the best form of buzzer-based academic competition---which is absolutely true, to be sure. [laughter] That's also not---you don't want to come off as smug or condescending to people who play other formats or other competitions. You want you want to present quizbowl as something that they might be interested in because they're interested in this other thing. Like, "Hey, you play Knowledge Bowl, or a local televised competition. It's academic; maybe you'd be interested in coming to this tournament here. We have a slightly different format, it's a lot of fun, I promise you. Come an give it a spin!" You should sort of frame your appeal in a positive manner, a purely positive manner, not a derogatory manner towards other formats when you're reaching out to new players and teams.

Jackie: I just wanted to add, we kind of talked a little bit about getting the teams to a tournament, but there's also a lot of teams that come to one tournament, have a terrible experience or something, and just never come back again. Another important part of outreach is making sure that those teams actually stick with it or that they have a good time. One thing Sohum said is having a novice bracket so they're not just getting beaten up five hundred to nothing with one of the nation's best teams as their first experience. And then also, if you're a player, just I try to incorporate them into the community a little more at a tournament. Just like, talk to them, be nice to them, like you should to everyone at a tournament, obviously. Just make sure that they feel welcome in the community, and they're not just here for like a one-time thing, and that they should feel like they want to come back and play more tournaments and be involved in the community.

Dennis: This is just a minor thing, but for people who are running the tournaments when you drop the schedule take note of which teams are new, and be careful scheduling their first couple of rounds because you probably have a pretty good idea of what the teams attending are like, at least most of them, and you really don't want to put say the team of freshman who are playing the game for the first time against Beaver Creek in their very first game. I've seen people actually leave part way through the tournament, and generally it's a credit to the kids that they're doing a much better job about just being nice to the people that they play. For instance, it struck me a few years back after Eric Xu had just annihilated my freshman by about 650 points, but he was legitimately praising them: "oh wow, you got a really good buzz on this thing!" People respond a lot better to that then people just yelling "well, yes, that packet was stock" or something like that. [laughter] Yeah, the *whole* packet.

Sohum: And again, you guessed it, I heard this from Jackie: one thing you probably want to do for new teams especially that we didn't bring up before, is that you want to have a new team discount. Usually the registration price for a team at a tournament is somewhere in the range of $65 to $75, maybe a little bit less if you're running a middle school tournament or some other set that doesn't have as expensive of a mirror fee, but you usually want to make it more affordable. Usually like, I wouldn't say cut it down by half, but maybe $20 off for being a new team to quizbowl is a really good incentive for getting new teams to come. As Ankit was talking about, one of the problems that we have in the quizbowl community is that we need to find good alternatives to the term "bad quizbowl," because that's just a generic term we used as an umbrella for things that don't resemble quizbowl. That's very important, especially when you're communicating via email, because---another thing that we should mention, I guess, is that even if you're doing outreach it's not all---what, what are happy things, like sparkles and sunshine? The response rate is like, I would say you might get six or seven responses for 50-100 emails sent. It could not be the most enjoyable thing sometimes, but whatever work you are doing, it is not going unnoticed. You are doing a good thing, you are trying to get more teams involved in the community, so you're not going unnoticed, and thank you for taking a more active role in the community. That shows some maturity, and that is important.

Dennis: Just one quick thing, for those of you who have fairly active sponsors. They probably get emails, like when I taught in Fairfax County we would get these emails sent to, I think, every single math teacher or something like that, and it was not a BCC. They actually had several hundred people on there. So I actually, yes, contributed to the spam by going "hey we are having a quizbowl tournament, for all of you schools that have never played before or whatever." I don't know if there is as much of a mailing list or anything, but I'd also like to thank Centennial, because when Dr. Sefter sent out his emails, he did not use BCC so I just hit reply and said "guess what, there's a tournament." So, if you can leverage something like the the existing mailing lists that your county already has, that's a good way, especially if you're trying to open it up to middle school or something that isn't just high school.

Aaron: All right we're almost out of time for the hour, but before we break I'd be remiss if I did not mention that mention that we're actually the second panel discussing the quizbowl community in the past 2 weeks. Olivia was a panelist to the other, so if you'd like to give a brief recap of that?

Olivia: So, we're referencing the "Women in Quizbowl" panel that occurred at HSNCT two weeks ago. This panel dealt with like a lot of the issues that we've been seeing over the years with women in quizbowl: not only, I guess, the presence or lack thereof of women in quizbowl, but also the internalized misogyny these women experience. I guess, sometimes we present this experience as that of a higher-income, white, cis, straight woman how we can sort of expands that and how we can alter our Outreach so that is more inclusive of a variety of people and a variety of identities. So, if you're interested in listening to that, which I sure hope you are, you can find the SoundCloud link on the forums. You can also find it---it's floating around Twitter, it's in most of the quizbowl Facebook groups, you can find it, and I highly encourage you listen to it.

Aaron: All right, thank you all! That'll do it for the first hour, we'll resume at, say, 5 after 8.
Matt Mitchell
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Treasure Valley '16
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Re: 2019 David Riley Players and Coaches Conference - LOCATION CHANGE

Post by Perturbed Secretary Bird » Thu Jul 04, 2019 1:39 pm

Riley Players and Coaches Conference- Transcript Part 2

Aaron Rosenberg: Alright, welcome back to the second hour of the coaches' conference. Before we get started, panelists, would you like to quickly reintroduce yourselves?

Jackie Wu: Hi, I’m Jackie, I’m the president of Carnegie Mellon quizbowl, the Vice President of outreach for PACE, and an editor for Greater Pennsylvania Quizbowl.

Ankit Aggarwal: Ankit, member of PACE, vice-president of the Northern California Quizbowl Alliance.

Olivia Lamberti: I continue to be Olivia Lamberti; I play for Stevenson, will play for or will be involved with Stanford next year, and I’m a provisional member of ACF.

Sohum Shenoy: I’m Sohum Shenoy, I am a senior at the Charter School of Wilmington, better known as Wilmington Charter, also the club president there. And starting next year I will be playing for Georgia Tech.

Dennis Loo: I’m Dennis, I’m the coach at IMSA.

Alex Damisch: My name’s Alex, I played quizbowl at Lawrence University and DePaul University, and I am the new mirror coordinator for ACF.

Matt Bollinger: I’m Matt, I played quizbowl for the University of Virginia, and I’m the communications officer for ACF.

Lakshmy Parameswaran: I’m Lakshmy, mother, chaperone, coach… maybe player for Beavercreek’s team. [laughter]

Juli Cohen: I’m Juli Cohen, I’m a parent and assistant for Beavercreek’s program in Ohio.

Aaron: So, first, rankings, the impact of nationwide team rankings on the community- specifically, does it encourage insiderism, exclusionism, and elitism. We have Fred here, who will talk about this in a second. First, Sohum, I think you had a speech to start with?

Sohum: I would give it to the person who knows things.

Unidentified voice: You know things!

Fred: I’m Fred Morlan; I’m the president of PACE and currently almost-retired person who does HSQBRank, I don’t know yet. I guess I created the whole rankings nonsense. So just to give you all a little history on it, I guess. Before I started HSQBRank there was a poll on the HSQuizbowl forums (still is, but at that point it was the only thing that existed), and that seemed to be fairly influenced just by who made themselves most well-known by posting on the forums, sometimes leading to wacky results. And also there was one other point where I think David Bukowski tried to launch a high school ranking system off of ELO, which only considered win/loss record, which was good but not great. Like, it wasn’t a disaster, but it also had the flaw of, well, there’s this one circuit in the Mid-Atlantic, and then there’s teams in the South, and etcetera. So it wasn’t perfect either. And then I developed adjusted points per bonus, and I used that to create the basis of HSQBRank. And we’ve all gone to Twitter Hell because of it. Yep, that’s basically the history of rankings. And now Groger- is it Groger [soft second g] or Groger [hard second g]?

Groger [muffled, from crowd]: Groger [hard second g]

Fred: Groger, Groger Ranks exists- I definitely know how to pronounce that- and they’ve created their own system of ranking. Ta-da.

Sohum: Alright, so I think that it’s first of all important to thank Fred for making these rankings in the first place. I think that, you know, one of the consequences of rankings, obviously, is that we focus on them. But I think something that we don’t really talk about as much is how the rankings help teams from smaller circuits get the recognition they deserve for working hard and improving at a national level. And it really helps administrators for schools and school districts understand the gravity of what it means to be a good quizbowl team or be a ranked quizbowl team in that regard. So I guess with the whole ranking mania- it’s not really- I don’t want to call it an epidemic, I just think that it’s a prevalent issue where a lot of people, especially in high school quizbowl (I’m not sure if there’s something analogous in middle school quizbowl) will attribute a lot of their worth or ambition towards rankings. And while quizbowl is a competitive activity, and that’s, you know, it could be a driving factor for some people, it could also be really toxic and really cause some repercussions that people don’t really realize. I think that for me, the reason I do quizbowl is that it’s a great outlet for learning and really helps me explore my curiosity in a way that many other activities don’t. So for me, that’s the main reason that I stay in quizbowl, because that’s really fun. And the moment it stops being fun is the moment that you stop doing anything. And I think that some people are losing the fun, and sort of eschewing that in favor of getting a better rank, which I don’t think is the healthiest thing in the world.

Olivia: Yeah, also as a recent high-schooler I have some thoughts on this (yeah, I am a Young). First, as a disclaimer: I think everyone on this panel has experience, has most experience, at a robust program, and they’re not exactly the teams that are underrepresented in the rankings. Speaking from my experience, I’m definitely not someone who has ever been offended or hurt by the rankings; Stevenson comes out pretty well, usually. But, regardless of that, I think the whole idea of rankings as a team has largely been, to me, emphasizing the best parts of quizbowl. Because when you rank a team, you’re not delineating individual worth so much as showing what you can achieve as a team. Most of my negative feelings about quizbowl don’t come from how a team performs but from how I, as an individual, perform. And it’s when I forget my PPG and when I focus on getting points for the team, that’s when I have my positive experiences. So for me, what I’m personally not a fan of, are individual rankings. And those have only really arisen in the past few years. And there’s definitely been some crowd-sourced polls, those sorts of things. Personally, I see those as more potential for toxicity than team rankings. But, overall, I haven’t noticed rankings being a force of evil or anything. I think there’s a lot of issues the quizbowl community should address first.

Ankit: I will saw that tons and tons of competitive endeavors will come naturally with rankings. And I guess dealing with rankings is a function of general maturity, right? Quizbowl does have a set of rankings, and whether it’s Morlan ranks or Groger ranks, I don’t think it’s too different from what you see in class ranks in schools throughout the country and throughout the world which have, thankfully, sort of been done away with in a lot of different parts of the country. And I think that any competitive endeavor will naturally come with people thinking “oh, who’s greater and who’s lesser” in that particular activity. And whether an individual has the wherewithal to deal with that in a mentally healthy way is sort of a function of their maturity. And, so, quizbowl rankings, I think, is another potential facet for an individual to potentially be negatively mentally impacted by the existence of rankings throughout one’s life. But I think that it is a contribution that is itself only marginal compared to the existence of grades and the existence of rankings in every other activity. So what we want to promote, I think, is a general attitude of viewing rankings in their proper context and not defining one’s self-worth by rankings in any endeavor, whether that be quizbowl or academic things or sports.

Alex: I think another thing to remember, too, is that in any rankings, but especially quizbowl, the rankings aren’t the final order of who is always going to beat another team. You know, if you’re the 70th ranked team in the country going against the 50th ranked team, it doesn’t mean you’re going to lose. And you shouldn’t go into the game with the mindset of “this team is ranked higher than me, they must be better than me, we’re done for, we’re not going to get anything out of this,” because the great thing about quizbowl- or, not so great, it depends which team you’re on- is like, upsets happen a lot of the time. And you should always go into a game with the mindset that you should try your best and just play the game, and not let rankings get in your head. And not let what rank the other team is scare you off.

Matt: Yeah, my personal experience with this was that I only played one year of high school quizbowl where we were paying attention to the internet and the online discussion forum and stuff. Ninth through eleventh grade I was a pretty mediocre kind of player. And I started studying the summer before my senior year and improved. So basically going into that season, we were either ranked 25th in the poll or we were unranked, and by mid-season we were seventh, and at the end or at NSC we finished 4th, basically. So that was a very addictive thing to feel. You know “We spent three years being eliminated in the first round of single elimination playoffs or not making the playoffs. And now we’re getting better and better and beating teams we’d never beaten before. But at NSC, what I’d really staked my heart on was beating LASA, which was the team right in front of us. We weren’t going to beat Maggie Walker or State College, we had no delusions of that. But I really wanted to be LASA. They needed to get the last two tossups against us to win, and they did, which really sucked. And I remembered being very despondent about that at the tournament. It was me, Aidan, and Jacob, and we’d just finished fourth after not having a program for three years, but we were pretty upset about that one loss. And where I’m going with this- even as you ascend the rankings, like, it’s kind of a fractal thing, where maybe you’re ranked 60th and want to be ranked in the top 25, and after that there’s another thing, and after that there’s another thing. There’s no point where this kind of external validation will leave you satisfied, um, unless you’re Jordan [Brownstein] or something I don’t know [laughter] For most people there’s going to be another hurdle. So no matter what you have to develop a sense of internal standards where you’re satisfied with your performance, and there’s no level of performance where just success on its own is going to satisfy you. You have to come to grips with that.

Aaron: We’re going to move on to a more serious topic: the subject of relationships between members of different age groups in the quizbowl community. Now there’s been some online discussion of this- oh, and thank you, Fred.

Fred: Peace [leaves front of room to applause]

Aaron: We’ve seen a lot of discussion of this in the past year, especially with the misconduct program starting up and, in the past couple of weeks even, well, I won’t go into specifics, yes. What boundaries shall we maintain, can adults and kids be friends, can they talk to each other on the Discord and Facebook and social media? So who would like to start us off?

Olivia: I’m going to start with a content warning to listeners: assault, sexual assault. So I come from Stevenson, as some of you may know, our assistant coach of two years ago, Matt Laird, was arrested for charges of child pornography. And regardless of that, that was, I mean, obviously a very traumatic experience and I’d rather not go into it here; that was an experience I have had in quizbowl. Alternatively, on a totally different note, I have had some of the best role models I could ever ask for. I have role models that I call my big sister and my mom, and I think that for me, quizbowl has been an experience of polar opposites in that I’ve had fulfilling experiences, but especially as a woman I have sometimes felt scared. It’s not a secret that there are some issues with quizbowl people, and there have been, and I have been especially close to it, and that’s scary. I guess for me, just in general, just as some advice to the adults in the room or the adults who are listening: [with a] younger quizbowl person, let them take the lead. But also be aware that they may not know where their boundaries lie yet because they are young and they are still learning and still navigating that step into maturity. And often, especially if they look up to you, they’re not going to want to or be able to recognize that something you’re doing is something that’s not good for them. Because their comfort level with you might be something that they’re creating to get closer to someone they really respect. So really the onus is put on you as an adult to really monitor what kinds of interactions you’re having with kids, because they’re not always going to speak up if you’re doing something they’re not comfortable with. And you need to be aware of that. Again, adults, be responsible. I think a lot of problems we’ve had can be avoided just by being decent human beings, follow basic social norms. We can all do it, I believe in you. Be a responsible adult.

Alex: Some of the resources I’d like to point people towards on the forums: there’s a community discussion forum that Sarah Angelo started; it’s a place of discussion for people providing their takes and their guidance on how to approach certain communities and problems that we have in quizbowl. David Reinstein made a really good post within the past year or so talking about when you are an adult-especially people who are in college that were recently in high school, maybe crossing various life boundaries, and things like that- one of the things that he mentioned that I found to be really helpful in my interactions is that if you are a mentor to somebody and if that’s your sole role to them, all of your interactions should be for their benefit. They’re not a friend you should be dumping your problems on, it’s just a different relationship you should be having, especially if that relationship didn’t start as a peer relationship. You know, if you’re somebody in college trying to mentor high schoolers and things like that, be aware of those power discrepancies and those boundaries. It’s kind of great in quizbowl that you can meet your idols- it’s not that large of a community, people are pretty available and hang around for years, so it is possible that there’s somebody who you’ve stalked their entire stats page and then you see them the next weekend. And so, if you are the person whose stats page is being stalked, be cognizant of the effect that you have on people, be cognizant of the fact that you should dispense advice with care, be cognizant of the fact that to make it about the younger person’s experience. And we can remember that to as staffers as we interact with players, that it’s about the players’ optimal experience and not about the staffer experience. I think maintaining the altruism and nearly parental instinct towards people who are younger than you can be really helpful in maintaining appropriate boundaries.

Jackie: One thing on the boundary side that she mentioned, like crossing a boundary: I just finished my freshman year of college, but that means that I was in high school not too long ago and I’m still friends with a lot of the people and the teammates that I had back in high school. And so I think an important thing to remember is that I guess you can still be friends, but you have to be aware that if you’re in a tournament setting or you’re staffing, or if you’re in a role that’s different from being a player, you have to maintain a professional boundary and you also have to act professionally. So if you’re moderating for your former teammates, you can’t be throwing inside jokes around or making jokes or showing any preference towards them over any other team. I think that goes along with our previous discussion of maturity. You have to recognize when you’re no longer a part of that team in high school.

Dennis: So one of the things, especially I guess when you have people towards the tail end of college, maybe coaching high school or something like that, and especially for people who are actually out of college- if it’s something that you wouldn’t want to say in front of your boss, or in front of the Human Resources department, or something like that, you should really think long and hard before saying it in front of minors. There are many things about your private life that they do not need to know about. I guess in some cases, with college, yes, they may know that people go to parties, maybe, whatever, but there is no need to more or less make it seem like a glamorous life or anything like that. Do the parents have anything to say about this?

Juli: As a parent, part of what I’ve really enjoyed about having two of my three children involved in this, and my oldest, she’s actually finishing up with teaching high school, started out with Teach for America, and she starts law school at Harvard in the fall. So she was in speech and debate. And what I have enjoyed, because I was a coach for speech and debate, and then when my son got involved in academic team, part of what I liked so much was the civility that I see in the way that players interact with one another and what a congenial group the coaches are, by and large. So when the ones that aren’t very congenial are not, they kind of stick out. Cause there are some. But the thing that I have seen the most that maybe talks about boundary is the social media piece of it. Where you have adults who are running the social media aspect of the teams, I am always a little put off by political stuff. I’m a little put off by anything that doesn’t have to do with the team. So I try very hard in the stuff that we have for our team to keep it all about, I don’t remember who said, make sure it’s all about the team, I think it was Olivia. It is about the students, and I think that if you do have adults involved in your program, if that’s the focus, then you do avoid a lot of things. There’s a whole gamut of misconduct that could occur that is a danger any time you have people involved with high school students, and so, starting with that perspective, I think, as a parent, that’s what I want other parents who are helping with my kids to start with. So it seems like good advice for all of us who are involved.

Aaron: We don’t need to go into specific details and specific cases, but if anyone has anything to share about responding to cases of adult misconduct, cases where they’ve crossed boundaries they shouldn’t have, does anyone have anything to share about that? Olivia?

Olivia: So I think, just the important thing, this is mostly a message to adults. In the wake of misconduct surrounding our program and also in the wake of general misconduct in the community, I think it’s really the people who have been hurt the most are the team, the players, the children- oh, someone save the children [general chuckles]. But seriously- as someone who really values the connections I’m able to forge in the quizbowl community and everything, due to recent events, I’ve lost a lot of that freedom. Sometimes I’m afraid to be walking around a tournament by myself but I wouldn’t be afraid because I’m not allowed to do that anymore- I’m constantly with a buddy or a chaperone, in sight of an adult. And that’s cool and good and definitely a precaution, but it’s also something that I wish didn’t have to happen. I wish that my coach and my parents thought I was safe at quizbowl tournaments, that this was a safe place for me, because I really do love this community and I want it to be safe for me. To adults, think of anything that would make my lovely mother, Jan Lamberti, nervous, and think “If this would make Jan nervous, I shouldn’t do it.” Like, please, just for my sake. Thanks.

Alex: As some people may be aware, a little over a year ago in a couple weeks, the joint organizations of PACE- originally a PACE project-, NAQT, ACF, and later NHBB, now IAC I guess, started a joint quizbowl misconduct reporting form with the intent that if something, you know, if somebody made an inappropriate remark or something like that or someone was behaving very inappropriately at, say, an NAQT tournament, that it wasn’t just that you would have to find out that NAQT would remove them from their staffer pool, but that person couldn’t sneak in to a PACE tournament, unbeknownst to the rest of us. We could consolidate our information and make sure that we are all aware of the same situations. So many of the quizbowl organizations, I shouldn’t say so many, all of them share staffers with each other, it’s just how it is. So I asked the other misconduct people ahead of time what stats we felt comfortable sharing a year later about how the whole project has been. So we got about ten to fifteen reports, inclusive, everything from the online comments people have made to people making us aware of the Matt Laird situation. Definitely the most common course of action we take is staffer bans- removing people from being asked to staff tournaments. It’s usually quick and easy. One of the questions in the form is whether or not we can contact local, state organizations to coordinate with them, especially if the person might be involved with a local high school state organization. So that’s been really great to have those liaisons in places where some of us are not. One of the common conceptions about the misconduct form that I’d like to alleviate here- and tell your friends- it does not have to be a sexual or gendered nature, it can be about any kind of misconduct, even if it’s not about a protected group. The other thing I wanted to say was that when I was coordinating with the (I like to call them the Gang of Eight, I just think it sounds really cool, two of us from each of the four organizations), we were talking about what else should be brought up about the form at this panel here. One of the things we’d really love to see is more reports about low-level behaviors. Some of the time it feels like there are people in the community who have been committing lower levels of misconduct for several years, or they have patterns of behavior that make people feel really uncomfortable, and that we allow it for years and then something happens. So I’d really love a lot more reports of people where we can just say “hey, your behavior at a tournament made someone feel really uncomfortable because you did x, y, and z, we’re trying to build a healthier community here, can you please stop doing that.” We’d much rather be catching people earlier in their lives and maturity than have it fester for a really long time. So quizbowl is obviously full of young adults and young people who are growing and learning about themselves, so it would be awesome if people could get that message earlier, when we don’t have to ban you from quizbowl forever than to get it a lot later and have it be a lot harsher. The misconduct reporting form is linked at the top of every subforum on the forums. You can also go to tinyurl.com/qbmisconduct

Aaron: Thank you, Alex. Before we move on, I have one additional question that I just thought of, and that’s about the Discord specifically. For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, Discord started out as an app for gamers to chat with each other, but it’s become the internet’s chat app of choice. And we have a channel for quizbowl now. So a high schooler, a long-time coach, and a college student walk into the Discord and start chatting with the freedom of the internet [chuckles]. So, how do boundaries apply there.

Ankit: I think that if you want to speak, we should actually give the mic to the founder of that Discord, Kevin Wang, who’s right here. [applause]

Kevin: Hi, I’m Kevin. I don’t know if I want to say founded, but I made the quizbowl discord as well as the high school quizbowl discord. So originally, I just want to give a little backstory, I created them because for a long period of time, a lot of the quizbowl discussion that didn’t take place on the forums took place on the IRC, and the IRC is very old. So I made a Discord because I felt like it was very conducive to the goals we wanted to use for quizbowl discourse on a shorter scale than what we expect on the forums, for a little bit more of the camaraderie that you’d expect from being able to talk to people, where all your messages didn’t have to come with a signature, etc. I feel like at this point, the Discord has existed for I think three years? I don’t remember anymore. It’s been there for a while, and I feel like a lot of the lessons about boundaries that come from the Discord really mirror a lot what happens in the wider community, the only real difference is that it’s ever-present and all the time and constant and never starts. The biggest thing I think about the Discord is that a lot of the people who end up there, for the most part, are still actively participating in the community. All those students, all the high school students that we see there are the ones who are regularly attending tournaments, although we do see some around the outskirts of the community, and I’m really happy to see it’s spread a little further. And a lot of the adults and the college students who go there are also active in the collegiate circuit and active in hosting tournaments and maybe acting as coaches, etc. So a lot of times when people do seem to approach boundaries, it is in part a similar sort of situation that we see in the rest of the community. The kind of things we’re concerned about seeing in the Discord are the same sorts of things we wouldn’t really want to see in an in-person conversation between people who are staffing at a tournament the students who are there. It’s a little bit harder to deal with that on the Discord, which is a bit unfortunate due to the way that it’s structured. I would love to see if the ability to go into a different room and talk with all the staffers without having to worry about students being there really does make it a lot easier to moderate speech when you’re at a given tournament, whether it be a national or a regional one. And because of the way Discord is structured, you don’t really have that luxury. But I don’t think oftentimes, that with the exception of politics, I guess, there isn’t too much that has been- if anyone wants me to bring up anything in particular that they want me to discuss in that vein- but I think a large part of the boundary-crossing that’s been happening in the Discord is sort of endemic to the rest of quizbowl, in general, unless anyone wants to prove me wrong.

Alex: I just have a comment that I want to make- at some point, maybe six months ago now in the Discord, they started enforcing “you can’t be anonymous,” just like on the forums where always have to have your name attached to a post. In the Discord, people are now encouraged to include their affiliations with their name. So mine says “Alex D., ACF, 10 Reacts Only” (opposed to the 15 reacts). But the point being, for a lot of players they will have their school and graduation years. Or if you have, you know, sort of the organizational alphabet soup you can assume that somebody’s a little bit older. So I think it’s a good way of, even on the internet, to be like “hey, you know, if you can see that this person is Downington STEM class of 2018 or whatever they maybe are a little bit younger and you should talk to them differently from some older grad school fogey who’s been playing the game for like twenty years.” So being able to realize who you’re talking to can help you moderate your speech.

Olivia: So going off of that, if you’re debating politics with a middle schooler, like imagine yourself doing that in real life. Imagine you have a thirteen-year-old in front of you, and just consider how you would hold yourself in that situation. Just be cognizant.

Kevin: In that regard, like I said, politics is definitely one of the things that everyone is- it’s very difficult, because in something like the Discord, one of the advantages is that it really opens up the community to a lot of people, it does remove a lot of the barriers that otherwise exist, you can talk to people that aren’t in your immediate geographic area. You can talk with people without the wall between moderator and player, you get to talk to people as part of the quizbowl community. But because of that, there is a little of a hard time where there is this internet mentality where once you’ve got here, you know, everyone’s the same. When really, they’re not. They’re not the same at all. And I think a little bit of this does stem from back in the days of the IRC, where by the time that you got on the IRC, that means you really cared about quizbowl, because you had to figure out how to get on the IRC [general laughter]. I’m not going to overstate the impact the Discord has had, but it’s a little easier to use. So when people go out and they try to talk to the people they know, whether or not they do look up to them as role models, which, as we talked about, is definitely something that still happens a lot, and is a very important issue in the community, like, people are less likely to weigh their opinions in the appropriate manner because there is this sort of idea that when you’re talking with this veil of relative anonymity where you can’t see their face, all of a sudden you can get away with a lot more. And while in principle some of the people who say the things they do on the Discord would be willing to say them in person, that doesn’t necessarily justify the actions when you take a step back and think about what’s happening. Uh… my bad. [general laughter]

Aaron: Kevin Wang, everybody!

[general applause]
Aaron: Thank you. So we have twenty minutes left. Our last topic for the night is study strategies. This is a topic that seems to come up every year. It’s certainly the most-requested. It’s been discussed many times in the past, particularly in 2015 when Max Schindler gave an excellent speech on the philosophy of studying, but I think this is the first time we’ve had Matt Bollinger up here, and I’m sure people are curious as to what he has to say. So, one, about study strategies in general, and two, about carding. Does it break the game? Does it encourage rote memorization that writers should try to out-think? Or is it a perfectly legitimate strategy? [general chuckling]

Matt: With studying, I don’t have as much time to go in depth as Max Schindler did in 2015, so I assume we’ll be linking to that on the forums. He goes really in depth about the whole process, about every step. In general, this is what I did for studying: I started out as a 30 ppg [points per game] kind of high school player in the DC circuit. So not bad, going into my senior year. And over that summer I reviewed a lot- I started out by reviewing a lot of old tournaments and noting clues that came up a lot, reading through PACE NSC’s and HSAPQ sets, like one year out, and noting down and getting a sense of the general canon and the clues that came up at a lot of tournaments and stuff like that. And that should all be pretty basic to you. But it was pretty revolutionary to me. Like, there’s not just a vast ocean of knowledge that could theoretically come up at any question, there’s a set of things I should know, and you can learn this set of things and do better. For that reason, in terms of memorization and stuff, obviously that should be known to all of you, but getting a handle of that and to some degree master[ing] things that come up is huge. And starting out that way, just reading through old questions and stuff, I think that’s fine. And in fact, it’s really good to get exposure to certain things you wouldn’t get exposure through in a high school classroom through questions. The question is where you go after that. You can say, “I have all this knowledge of what comes up in quizbowl,” and after that you can either say “I’m going to memorize all these individual clues for things that come up and it’s just going to be one big box of isolated facts, and that’s going to be my entire brain, isolated facts with no relation to each other and things that point to answers,” or you can say “I know Anton Chekhov comes up, I’m going to read a lot about Anton Chekhov, note down his basic stories, his plays, maybe I’ll read a play or write a question on him.” I think the latter approach is much better, first of all because the contextual knowledge is going to stick with you longer. If you forget individual clues you’ll still have the basic framework in your head that lets you revisit it later or remember things or keep things in your head a little better. And that’s just demonstrable- we all kind of know who knows things to a greater extent than other people or who at least has a basic amount of real knowledge, or who is just a pure flashcard person. And the people who just have flashcards with isolated facts, their knowledge fades a lot faster. They’ll stay away from the game for six months or something, and they’ll have nothing. And also, flashcards, if you’re using them to just remember things, that’s great. Things have names, some people remember names very easily, other people have trouble. If you need flashcards to remember a specific title- to remember whether it’s Towards a Psychology of Being or Toward a Psychology of Being; I still don’t know which one it is- obviously that’s fine. If you’re just memorizing binary clues, I just think you’re not getting that much out of it. And even if you won PACE NSC on Sunday, you’re not going to win a million dollars for that. It’s not Jeopardy!. You’re really getting out of it what you choose to put in. And a person who finished lower but has read a bunch of stuff or has been exposed to new things that they wouldn’t have been exposed to otherwise is getting a lot more out of the game than someone who wins a trophy that’s kind of empty. Obviously, we want you to be competitive. We want you to have fun, but just be mature about it. Understand that the balance between how you’re learning things is for your own benefit. You know, police yourselves, honor code, that’s just my general philosophy.

Dennis: I just wanted to quickly mention- I think it’s going to be on one of the attached links or whatever. Matt Weiner put together an excellent “how to study for quizbowl” presentation for Virginia Commonwealth University’s club. And it is nearly plug-and-play in that it has slides, he has nearly a script for somebody to read off. He said he wanted it to be so that if somebody was a new sponsor or coach or whatever, they could just say “I’m showing this presentation and I’m just reading off the script, and people will still get something out of it.” He talks quite a bit about the “tree” method of studying instead of the “bucket” method where, yes, if you just try to use a ton of facts, it’s too much. You won’t be able to do it. And one other thing I wanted to mention is that quizbowl is high variance. Most people in this room are aware of this. Twenty sets of questions is not a lot. Studying is something where it’s easy to get discouraged. A lot of times for new teams, you may want to have them say “one or two things that you study will come up this tournament.” You can’t just say “alright, now I’m going to study and I’m going to know all of the answers.”
Matt: I realize I didn’t actually answer the question of how I studied. Basically, so I mentioned earlier that I was in the IRC one day and Eric Mukherjee issued an open call for people to write questions because he was editing VETO at the time. I’m not sure if it’s still around, it was a Canadian bad quizbowl tournament he was editing, and he made it good, and they hated it. [general laughter]

Aaron: Not supposed to use that term.

Matt: What?

Aaron: Bad quizbowl.

Matt: I don’t care.

Alex: They’re Canadian, it’s fine. [general laughter]

Matt: Alright, so, anyway. I wrote some mythology questions because I was a mythology specialist at that time. I had this doc on my laptop called VETO.doc, and whenever I came across a topic where I thought “oh I don’t know very much about this,” I would write a seven-line question on it, and I would have this question in the doc. I specifically remember, one day I was just like “I don’t know anything about Strom Thurmond.” And I wrote an eleven-line tossup on Strom Thurmond. This had two benefits. First, when you’re writing a question you have to read enough about it so that you understand the context, the significance of whatever the topic is you’re writing about, and you have to understand how the clues relate to each other. And the fact of having to phrase your question as a clue kind of burns it into your memory more because you have to think about it hard enough so that it sticks more. And the other thing is that I got through a lot of bad writing habits in these questions that didn’t mean anything. For that Strom Thurmond question, I read fifty pages of a biography on him, taking out random quotes he said and random things he did on the senate floor, that was like six lines of the tossup. When I was writing actual questions that mattered I wasn’t doing that anymore. So it was a useful exercise in that way, and it was a very effective manner of study.

Olivia: For a lot of the forum threads and presentations we’re alluding to, listeners at home, they’re in the “Best of the best” section on the forums, you should check that out.

Sohum: I am going to try and explain it through my experience in how I decided to try and improve, at least as a science player. This isn’t directed specifically towards science, but I just try to use this as a thought experiment for people who are trying to get better at quizbowl for whatever purpose. So, think about something you know, like really, really well. For me, it was rap lyrics. So there was a side event at the 2017 HSCNT- you see where I’m going with this- called Fight the Power, and I went in as a sophomore, and I wasn’t very confident in my quizbowl ability at that point. I just did it because I thought it was fun and it was cool to learn new things. But then I came to this tournament, and I started powering questions on 90’s hip-hop and 80’s hip-hop, and everyone was like “whoah, this kid knows things.” And I was like “I don’t know things, how is this happening.” And then I thought to myself, “how do I learn the lyrics to these songs? Is it something that I really like? And if I really like something, how will I go about trying to learn about it or trying to learn more details about it?” I guess for rap, I tried to learn the meaning of songs by looking at Genius, and Genius is cool because it teaches you the meaning behind lyrics, and stuff like that. So, similarly, in quizbowl, I’m going to try and bring it back but I don’t know if it’s going to work, if you really want to specialize in say, science or history or literature or whatever you want, you should try and take it like something that you really enjoy that’s maybe non-academic and analyze how you approach that. I’m not saying you should rap lyrics of Campbell’s Biology to yourself to better memorize it- [general chuckles, muffled ‘you should’ from crowd]- mileage may vary- it does help you at least to analyze how you best learn things and what makes you want to learn things. So, if you can analyze that, for me, what I realized was if I could read reference sources in addition to just Wikipedia that would go into depth and explain the concepts behind things or the origins of some things that would help me better understand the context of, say, a history tossup. Or, you know, maybe why a certain thing happens in a play or maybe what the play’s events signify about where the author came from or what their background is. And that can really mean a lot. I hope that wasn’t terrible?

Alex: Reference sources are to a regular play as Genius is to rap lyrics, I unironically love that so much.

Ankit: I also want to say that there is a lot of psychology out there that isn’t very credible, but one thing that I found to be pretty true about human psychology, particularly in terms of memory, is that people are attached to things that can be storified. People are attached to narratives. And narratives are things that have a clear progression, that make sense to the human mind. They’re things that people can remember and that make sense to people. And people don’t have that same affinity for discrete facts. So like what Matt and Dennis were talking about, the difference between the tree method and the bucket method or the difference between webs of information and isolated information- you should try to make your information into a narrative that makes sense to you. And this can be- stories aren’t just for the humanities. It can be applied to abstract sciences as well. For example, I could tell you that the Heine-Borel theorem says that in a metric space, a compact set is the same thing as being closed and bounded. And what does that actually mean to you? Well if you did all of the preparatory work that goes into knowing “what is a metric space” and “what is the general notion of compactness,” “what does it mean for a set to be closed and bounded,” “what is a set,” if you build up all of these different elements into a narrative, then you will actually understand what that theorem means instead of having to regurgitate it to yourself in your mind, as a memorized statement. It’s something that can become a part of you, something you’ll never forget. I mean, I learned that five years ago and I still haven’t forgotten it. And if I had just flash carded, I definitely would have forgotten it.

Dennis: I think one of the questions just mentioned straight carding, and I just wanted to say that things like title-author or artist-author or whatever, if you have a completely new team, it’s useful to get the bare basics. Like, if they knew, say, the hundred artworks that came up most often and who did them, in a way I use it as sort of the teaser for studying. Because if they spend a weekend and they at least get fifty artworks, one of them is going to come up in the tournament, and they’re going to say “studying works, how can I do this more efficiently, how can I do this better, how can I use this as a method of learning things.” So as far as title memorization, I think it does have a place if you have a real beginner team. Because there are some things that every team is going to need to know from, say, art, literature, whatever. Yes, it gets a bad rap, but for teams that are really starting from nothing, carding can be a very useful way to get the basics.

Olivia: I think something that was originally presented regarding carding was “should question writers reward or punish or generally avoid quizbowlers using carding.” And I’m going to call myself a question writer, because I can, as a question writer I don’t see carding as inherently evil. Personally, I think it takes some of the fun out of the game but personally I don’t think question writers should necessarily punish it. What I think is more important for question writers is rewarding learning and rewarding understanding something, like Ankit said. And if that’s something that you personally can obtain carding, then good on you, congrats. You do that. But the focus shouldn’t be on how the question is received so much as what your goal in the vacuum is. The question should reward knowledge and reward genuine understanding of the topic. That’s how I feel about that.
Alex: And I just don’t even know- if you when you’re writing a question can think about whether or not carders are going to get it in a certain way or not, good on you, because I’m not thinking about that at all. I can see maybe that you’re thinking about title drops, maybe, but you’d be thinking about that anyways. I don’t really know how people would punish or reward carding.

Matt: I guess I’d push back, well not push back, but add that when I’m writing questions I do think about what clues have come up a lot and what clues are kind of more binary or what things people are more likely to know just through absorption through quizbowl versus what clues people would have had to read something or have some deeper level of engagement to know. And I think about that and write the questions that way. I do think, obviously, there’s an extreme where your questions become too hard because you’re avoiding anything that’s come up. Don’t take it to an extreme. But I do want to be clear- that is actually something we consider when we’re writing questions. We try to avoid the very most common clues and the very most common binary titles in the first halves of questions.

Aaron: But make sure the clues are true, right? Okay, in the few remaining minutes, do we have any audience questions about stuff we haven’t covered yet?

Alex: Or that we have covered.

Aaron: Or that we have covered! Someone raise their hand? Sarah?

Sarah Angelo: We already went into it a little in the “useful documents” portion that is to be included, but there is a great post in the new high school teams forum by Emily Gunter from Salem high school, and if you are a coach who is brand-new, or if you sold a teacher on starting a team, about how to get people to join your team.

Aaron: Thank you, Sarah. Sohum, you have something to ad?

Sohum: Emily, thank you so much for your post. Emily included a lot of really good- she included a template, I think, for an email to send to prospective, interested underclassmen, and also includes advice for how to talk to teachers and how to recruit people for quizbowl. It’s just a very well-thought-out forum post and I think that everyone, if they have not read it yet, owes it to themselves to read it, because it is fantastic and I think it belongs in the best of the best section so everyone can reference it because it’s so good. Thank you, Emily!

Alex: It was one of the best posts by a high schooler in recent memory.

Aaron: Is the best of the best forum-?

Alex: We’re working on it.

Aaron: Okay, they’re working on it.

Sarah: I should be able to use my admin powers.

Alex: We’re going to move a lot of things towards there.

Aaron: All right. And with that, we are out of time, thank you again, all for coming. Let’s thank our panel once more. [applause] We hope you enjoy the tournament tomorrow, good luck to everyone playing, and I hope you have a blast.
Athena Kern
Washington University in St. Louis, MSW '19-'21
University of Chicago Class of '18, Team VP '15-'17
P. L. Dunbar '14