Hey: stop running high school tournaments for colleges

Old college threads.
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Hey: stop running high school tournaments for colleges

Post by Matt Weiner » Fri Dec 28, 2007 4:13 am

I know we've been over this before and I've heard a lot of dumb arguments about why it's okay for people in college to play high school questions. Guess what? It's still not okay.

It's especially not okay for people to have high school question tournaments on dates when people in the normal range for collegiate tournaments are having real tournaments. St. Paul is less than 400 miles from Kirksville, MO. For teams located equidistant from the two, it's not even an overnight trip.

I've been told that a certain person is trying to host a tournament for colleges on NAQT "A" level questions on January 26 in St. Paul. Not just high school questions--JV-level high school questions! Stuff designed to be competitively appropriate for 9th graders, and for high schools who have never had a team before! Do people have no self-respect at all? Do people in college actually want to play this stuff?

And do the people organizing this tournament really think that teams cannot go 390 miles to play the Penn Bowl mirror (or 195 miles, for those located in-between)? A tournament that will be held on actual collegiate questions, at normal difficulty? Is this really so damn difficult for people in college that they have to run away in terror and play questions written for 14 year olds?

To say nothing of the apparently secretly-announced CUT at Carleton, which was not announced to the public until two months after Illinois Novice was scheduled on the same date. CUT is likewise competing for some of the same schools, and best of all is undermining a NOVICE TOURNAMENT, competing for the exact same players. There is no reason that NAQT needs to undermine the legitimate quizbowl circuit like this. Even if there was any reason for collegiate quizbowl teams to play high school questions, which there isn't, there certainly isn't any reason to target already-claimed dates with these fake events.

If you want to play a tournament at way lower difficulty than regular collegiate quizbowl, I encourage you to play Illinois Novice or one of its mirrors. It was an excellent set last year difficulty-wise, and it also has actual collegiate-style questions and distribution. Sorry if I can't guarantee you a million tossups on Harry Potter and the NHL like NAQT high school questions have, but that isn't what collegiate quizbowl is.

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Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Fri Dec 28, 2007 4:26 am

Also, thank you NAQT for hosting an A-set tournament in Minnesota on the same day as a Titanomachy mirror in Minnesota and targeting it towards novice teams. I especially appreciated the bit where you suggested that more experienced players should go to ACF Fall the next day instead (when, like, the obvious implication is that ACF=too hard for new teams). Thanks for contributing to the struggles of good tournaments in the region! You make quizbowl proud.
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Post by Mr. Kwalter » Fri Dec 28, 2007 4:42 am

Deesy Does It wrote:Also, thank you NAQT for hosting an A-set tournament in Minnesota on the same day as a Titanomachy mirror in Minnesota and targeting it towards novice teams. I especially appreciated the bit where you suggested that more experienced players should go to ACF Fall the next day instead (when, like, the obvious implication is that ACF=too hard for new teams). Thanks for contributing to the struggles of good tournaments in the region! You make quizbowl proud.
Charlie, both Andrew and I knew about R's A-level tournament that weekend before scheduling our events. We were convinced that R wasn't actually taking away from our tournaments. Additionally, R had already announced the tournament at the previous CBI regionals, so who were we to tell him that he couldn't run it.

It is possible that similar events occurred with this new A-level business, and I am unwilling to outright condemn anyone for their actions without knowing the full story (even though Penn Bowl pretty much has a standing date). That being said, it seems like the CUT/Ill. Novice thing is pretty clear. Did people not learn from the Mark Coen Cancel Bowl debacle of whenever it was? Don't schedule worthless tournaments to which teams who could be competitive in real quizbowl might go against previously announced tournaments using questions actually designed for college play. I find it unconscionable that a program that sent a very strong team to ACF nationals last year and that has been around for such a long time would so blatantly slap a novice tournament written by real college players for real college players in the face. Come on, Carleton. Give me your excuse. I want to hear it. Why is this ok? Tell me. Tell us. Tell the circuit why you should get to run this tournament on this date? Forget the fact that you're using worthless questions; how do you have the right to run a tournament against another previously-announced tournament that targets the same teams as yours? I'm waiting.
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Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Fri Dec 28, 2007 4:48 am

Well, Ok then. It just is incredibly aggravating to know that there was an A-set being run then because I can't understand the use of, as Matt put it, high school JV questions here. I mean, IS sets are bad enough, but really, A-sets? That's got to be a joke. And I still wasn't a fan of the wording relating to ACF fall in that announcement.
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Post by theMoMA » Fri Dec 28, 2007 6:12 am

The way I see it, there are two issues here. The first is whether or not IS and A series have a place in the college game. The second is whether or not the coinciding dates is coincidental.

I'm not going to go crazy condemning IS sets and A series at the college level. There is a significant section of college quizbowlers who play these tournament, and enjoy them. However, I'm going to say that efforts to dub these tournament stepping stones to circuit events are misguided. Teams improve as players and gain desire to branch out to more academically rigorous questions by writing packets and attending circuit events. There are people who like showing up on a given Saturday to answer questions about beehives, and if they want to, that's okay with me. I've done it on occasion. Even novices who are looking to improve, if they gain pleasure playing IS sets, should by all means do so.

However, there are a bunch of novice teams out there who are legitimately looking to improve as players, and have little idea what that entails. It's not fair to those teams to say that these tournaments are stepping stones to the circuit. They are stepping stones to competing in more IS set tournaments, which is fine, assuming that perfectly educated teams would choose to compete exclusively in IS set tournaments. It's misguiding to label questions written for high schoolers as indicative of what to expect at the college level, and it leads to a disconnect in expectations that I believe encourages frustration and disillusionment with the regular college game.

NAQT is a big part of the college game, and as a quizbowl player and someone who knows and is friends with many people associated with both NAQT and the regular circuit, I hope it continues to be. SCT and ICT are fun events, and the experience of playing the many teams that come there has few parallels. But NAQT's high school products on the college level don't prepare teams for anything but more of NAQT's high school products. If these tournaments must happen, I hope that teams will be encouraged by NAQT and the tournament directors to attend circuit events and improve as players.

As for the issue of why the tournaments are scheduled on the same dates, I'm going to assume good faith on the part of the NAQT-tournament hosts. However, this brings to light a bigger issue that I've been wondering how to address. There is clearly a lack of communication between NAQT and the circuit at large. And it seems to me that that communication breakdown stems from a major disconnect between NAQT and the college circuit. I find it more than a bit troubling that people associated with NAQT refuse to integrate themselves with the community that actually plays their college tournaments. It seems like NAQT has quite a big responsibility to the college game: they host the largest single college quizbowl tournament of the year in terms of reach (SCT) and the largest national college quizbowl championship. NAQT has a responsibility to make those tournaments meaningful.

Yet key members of NAQT rarely engage in any kind of dialog with the community at large. It's gotten to the point where SCT announcements are posted on the largely defunct Yahoo group instead of on HSQB, the largest place for talking about quizbowl on the internet. Yes, there are people on HSQB critical of NAQT. There are perhaps those who will never be satisfied no matter what NAQT does. But NAQT's responsibility to the college game is too large to completely ignore the kind of critical feedback and open dialog that the circuit at large subjects itself to. The existence of these people, and the fact that they (like 90%+ of college quizbowlers) primarily use this message board to talk about quizbowl online should not cause NAQT to abandon open, reasoned discussion with those who attend their tournaments, and for whom those tournaments are written.

It seems to me that NAQT's policy towards the college game has been that SCT/ICT are what they are, take it or leave it. But in a game based largely around the good-faith efforts of a collegial group of participants, this is an unacceptable approach. As one of its most venerated institutions, NAQT has a great responsibility to the college game, and such an institution should never fence itself off from those whose goals it purports to share. Andrew's dialog after ICT last year was a fine start, but I think we're still a long ways from where we should be.

This game is built on good faith. The good faith of editors to put in the work necessary to make a quality tournament. The good faith of players to maintain question integrity. The good faith of teams to support each other's tournaments and keep each other afloat. The circuit has generally shown good faith towards NAQT. Despite the seemingly constant gripes of college curmudgeons, and NAQT's take-it-or-leave-it mentality, few teams have sworn off of NAQT's tournaments. Now it's time for NAQT to show some good faith and engage in an open, reasoned dialog with those who play its questions. NAQT should be a part of the college game, not a moated fortress within it.

In sum, I think that the issues we're seeing here are indicative of two problems. The first is that NAQT IS and A-series questions are billed as a stepping stone to regular-difficulty quizbowl success, when they are in fact simply leisure activities that may measure some amount of skill, but don't build towards success in the college game. The second is that the communication gap caused by NAQT's staunch isolationist policies have led to an atmosphere of competition between the circuit and NAQT, when in fact the two should have the same goals. I hope that, in the future, IS and A-series tournaments are billed more accurately, and that NAQT reverses its shirking of the great responsibility is has to the college game. The disconnect caused by the breakdown in communication is splitting the circuit into artificial camps and leading to unnecessary animosity in what should be a collegial community.

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Post by Mr. Kwalter » Fri Dec 28, 2007 6:28 am

Another problem with NAQT's insistence on using IS sets at the college level is that the IS sets become confused. Many of the IS sets end up with questions on topics that may be commonplace in the college game but really don't come up much in high school. This negatively affects their high school product. NAQT should really just commit to creating sets for college or for high school rather than for both college and high school. Combining the two into one set of packets leads to questions that in many cases are just rampantly inappropriate for the field in which the questions are being played.
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Re: Hey: stop running high school tournaments for colleges

Post by Krakki » Fri Dec 28, 2007 10:32 am

Matt Weiner wrote:To say nothing of the apparently secretly-announced CUT at Carleton, which was not announced to the public until two months after Illinois Novice was scheduled on the same date. CUT is likewise competing for some of the same schools, and best of all is undermining a NOVICE TOURNAMENT, competing for the exact same players. There is no reason that NAQT needs to undermine the legitimate quizbowl circuit like this. Even if there was any reason for collegiate quizbowl teams to play high school questions, which there isn't, there certainly isn't any reason to target already-claimed dates with these fake events.[/i].
CUT at Carleton has been running this tournament between March 2 and March 8 for the past 9 years. They are in no way attempting to undermine the Illinois Novice tournament. I believe the tournament was announced on NAQT's website much earlier. Although the announcement was not posted on hsqb until December, naqt's website is open for viewing by the public.

The relevance of IS and IS-A sets in collegiate qb is another matter.

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Re: Hey: stop running high school tournaments for colleges

Post by Matt Weiner » Fri Dec 28, 2007 12:45 pm

Krakki wrote:CUT at Carleton has been running this tournament between March 2 and March 8 for the past 9 years. They are in no way attempting to undermine the Illinois Novice tournament.
So what was Hentzel doing when he announced a JV tournament for November 3, the ACF Fall date since forever? The way I hear it, ACF did everything to accomodate him, since he announced his tournament first. Do we get to just assume that the dates will wait until we get around to announcing?

I just don't think it's a coincidence that teams in Wisconsin and Iowa who are right in the middle of these tournaments now have to choose. Carleton seems like a team that would like to go to the Novice themselves, with their depth and their many younger players. Very odd indeed for them to schedule against it.

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Post by Krakki » Fri Dec 28, 2007 1:06 pm

I don't know what Hentzel is doing with his other tournament dates, but CUT is a Carleton event that has occupied the same date for the past 10 years. The date works for Carleton's schedule and helps teams to anticipate when an event will take place every year, like MLK at Michigan in January and NAQT, ACF, and CBI regionals being held on different weekends in February every year. I don't think Carleton is likely to ever change the date even if Illinois decides to permanently schedule its novice tournament on that date, because CUT has traditionally been running on that weekend. Perhaps it is odd for Illinois to schedule against CUT when a look at Carleton's team website shows the CUT date on the same weekend year after year.

I am not justifying any other date conflicts that have occurred, nor am I affiliated with any of the institutions involved.

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Post by DumbJaques » Fri Dec 28, 2007 2:44 pm

Without getting into the whole scheduling thing, let me just say that Andrew's comment about NAQT not engaging in a discussion here is spot on. What's the deal you guys? I'd particularly love to hear why the SCT announcement went to Yahoo and not to this board; at the moment, I can't think of a reason not to do so that wouldn't be petty or misguided.

I'm also totally on board with the whole "stepping stone" crap thing. When I was at Arizona State, I had a group of about 7 people who had zero quizbowl experience at practices. We read college stuff - mostly novice, but a few regular difficulty sets. People did fine. That Illinois Novice set is being used at a high school tournament I'm running the next weekend. You make a choice when you play on A level questions as a college player, and you make an entirely different kind of choice when you pass up a legitimate tournament to do it.
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Post by First Chairman » Fri Dec 28, 2007 3:37 pm

For the record of my personal opinion, I would welcome announcements from NAQT regarding their competitions (high school or college) on this board. It may be habit that they are using the quizbowl yahoo listserv (and I routinely allow R to post anything related to NAQT's recruitment of high school teams to the couple of listservs I have for high school teams on Yahoo).

They certainly have the choice to engage in the discussions here if they wanted to, just as I would think :chip: would if he were given a chance. Granted, I'm sure there would be many of us who would jump at the opportunity if he posted here, and so I guess there is a reason why he doesn't post here (even if he knew it existed).

But it is their business. If they don't feel comfortable posting here, it can be either a business decision on their part or a climate decision on ours if we feel we can address the divide. I'm not sure what assurances they want about this board if they don't feel comfortable posting on it (though I'm sure the fact they view PACE as a competitor is one thing). Certainly I hope they do post here.
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Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Fri Dec 28, 2007 4:01 pm

Well no duh it's their choice, but if NAQT wants to keep in contact with the circuit, and preserve their legitimacy, they really need to start posting here, reading criticisms, and start implementing it if people come to some agreement on it. I know Hentzel, Kubicek, and Bell all have accounts here, and if they and others were to start a dialogue then, while mean things may be said, I think it is the only real way they can keep in touch with the circuit and make a product that people find acceptable, instead of the current policy of ignoring everything here and ignoring critical emails. If they choose to keep not posting here, then they are making an incredibly poor business choice that will cause serious rifts in the circuit and will ultimately hurt everyone.
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Post by grapesmoker » Fri Dec 28, 2007 4:13 pm

Hey Carleton guy, I don't mean to give you a hard time, but posting your announcement on the NAQT site is a sure way of not having it seen. People don't visit NAQT's site that often unless some tournament has just taken place; this forum, on the other hand, is high-traffic and an announcement posted here will be seen by all the people you're trying to reach. Just a tip.
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I've been saying the same thing since 2005. Given the amount of time that has passed and the noted failure of NAQT to deign to come down to our level (to the point of posting announcements on Yahoo! instead of this board!), I think I'm justified in saying that NAQT doesn't care. I mean, they care in a sort of minimal way, because if you piss off too many good teams, they won't attend and then ICT wouldn't have nearly the same cachet, but they don't care all that much because what are you going to do, not come to ICT? Yeah, right!

Hey guys, NAQT is a business that makes money. Yes, we all know how they actually lose money on the SCT/ICT combo, but the goal of those tournaments is not to be profitable but rather to build a loyal customer base for IS sets. I suspect NAQT's IS sets would be way less popular on the college circuit if there wasn't a NATIONAL TOURNAMENT attached to that format. So, as long as people keep enabling the NAQT business model, they'll just keep doing what they are doing now, because that's how they make a profit.
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Post by AKKOLADE » Fri Dec 28, 2007 4:19 pm

I hope this doesn't come across as needless pimping, but since it's very related to the current discussion, Hentzel touched upon this very issue in the interview that he did with me.
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Post by Captain Sinico » Fri Dec 28, 2007 4:31 pm

From the perspective of someone from Illinois, I'd like to say that, aside from our and various other peoples' repeatedly stated qualms about running college tournaments on high school questions, we don't have too much problem with CUT running the same weekend as MCMNT. Obviously it's sub-optimal that this has happened and it might perhaps have been avoided if CUT were announced on this forum like every other tournament, but I don't attribute this to malice or anything. Carleton's pretty far away and I'm confident that teams in the middle understand what they're getting from each tournament.
I do wish that you guys would announce your tournaments here like everyone else and stop using inappropriate questions for your popular and long-running event. In fact, I don't understand why you're not already doing both those things and I wish Eric or whoever's in charge of things over there would at least consider changing that and perhaps address it here. We at Illinois would consider attending an event like CUT if it were run on non-conflicting weekend, and we'd very strongly consider attending if it were run on better questions.
Actually, to that end, I wonder if you might not be interested in using the MCMNT set for CUT instead of whatever IS set you're planning to use now. I am confident you'd find it a more rigorously academic and age-appropriate set without any appreciable increase in difficulty (c.f. the MCMNT announcement) and, in addition, I'd bet you'll make more money, since you can mirror for free for 3 packets, or for a smaller cut than what NAQT normally takes for 2. E-mail Trygve Meade at tmeade2@uiuc.edu if you're interested.

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Post by Gautam » Fri Dec 28, 2007 4:37 pm

1. It is very annoying to see some of the competition being cannibalized by tournaments with IS or A sets. That is exactly what happened at Titanomachy/Tartan Tussle in the twin-cities; only 5 "teams" ended up to coming at Titanomachy, when there were several other decent teams and players in town. That wasn't the only problem though; teams which were coming from far away had to forego participating in ACF Fall the day after or leave early because there was school on Monday. I know teams that have to travel long distances like to play a lot of QB over the weekend to get as much utility/$ as possible, but it's almost impossible to run a full tournament on a Sunday, because of traveling. Cannibalizing is bad.

2. I have come to see that most of the tournaments occur on a particular weekend of the year: MLK around 20 Jan, ACF Fall in early november, EFT in Late Sept/Early Oct., and these tournaments are mirrored throughout the country (well, most of them anyway).

Will devising a "calendar" where people claim dates for tournaments help in anyway? I mean, right now, it seems like it's established that certain tournaments will take place only on certain dates. However, it seems to me that if we establish like a semi-official calendar or something, we can avoid these conflicts.

3. I think this idea of NAQT, :chip: ,etc feeling uncomfortable to post here is plainly ridiculous. I mean, I just saw the epic quillin's questions thread, and the initial tone of the thread was rather, um, hostile. I don't know how uncomfortable Quillin felt, but she was very open to the suggestions. I feel like the discussion turned out to be a net benefit for the QB community (however small the benefit was). Given the defunct-ness of the Yahoo group, I feel that it is imperative for NAQT to start getting used to this here forum. I don't see why being under fire like that won't produce any good results.



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Post by theMoMA » Fri Dec 28, 2007 4:44 pm

I don't think we can say that legitimacy equals posting here. But in an open community that survives by good-faith efforts, I feel that it's important that all the major actors contribute their good faith. Just like the circuit has a responsibility to itself, NAQT has a responsibility to the circuit to make its events meaningful championships. Without independent quizbowl producing the vast majority of tournaments, there would be little following for SCT and ICT. NAQT's college popularity stems largely from the fact that independent quizbowl exists, and it's high time that NAQT engaged the circuit in good-faith efforts to improve the game.

Whether that's done through this message board or through other means, I have no preference. The not-so-subtle abandonment of the HSQB board is merely a symptom of the larger problem.

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Post by NoahMinkCHS » Fri Dec 28, 2007 5:20 pm

gkandlikar wrote:Will devising a "calendar" where people claim dates for tournaments help in anyway? I mean, right now, it seems like it's established that certain tournaments will take place only on certain dates. However, it seems to me that if we establish like a semi-official calendar or something, we can avoid these conflicts.
The semi-official calendar, for (almost) all intents and purposes, consists of announcements on this board. Ideally, if someone plans to host a tournament, they should check to see if anyone has announced for the date in question, and (for bonus points!) check 12 months prior to that date to see if there might be an established claim on that date that might conflict.

Someone could condense that info into a calendar format, and that might be useful, but look to the high school circuit for an example of that: This website used to primarily consist of a tournament calendar, but then announcements/results migrated over here, and the calendar is (at best) secondary now. So I'm not sure a calendar would get that much use, and even if it did, I doubt that people who don't post here would bother posting there, since it would probably be the same individuals and teams principally involved in both.

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Re: Hey: stop running high school tournaments for colleges

Post by No Rules Westbrook » Fri Dec 28, 2007 5:22 pm

I'll go so far as to say that legitimacy equals posting here; this is basically the one and only hub of serious quizbowl and there is no satisfactory reason to ignore it. Andrew may be right that this community is about good faith effort, but Jerry is more right in his belief that you're not going to get that effort out of NAQT, which is solely interested in making money where it can - and that ain't from pure souls who preach the value of good quizbowl, like those posting here. Really, the reach-out-and-communicate-with-NAQT bus has long left the station at this point; it won't work no matter who is heading the effort or when.

If you have organizational energy to spare, you're best off spending it to encourage a boycott of NAQT on the part of the in-the-know qb circuit. Here, I'll help you start. Stop going to SCT and ICT. Stop running tournaments on NAQT stuff. Just stop it, you're getting nothing of value from them you can't get elsewhere for less money and more satisfaction.

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Post by Strongside » Fri Dec 28, 2007 5:26 pm

One thing that I noticed is that for six of the schools at the Tartan Tussle meet, it was the only academic quiz bowl meet they attended the entire season.

Those six schools are Iowa, Grinnell, Minnesota Morris, Northern Iowa, Miami U, and Macalester. An A-level tournament can be good in the sense that teams that otherwise don't go to many tournaments go to a tournament.

It is disappointing that so many of those teams didn't go to more meets, especially since there were several meets within reasonable driving distance for those schools.

The Titanomachy mirror only got five teams, and everyone who went to Titanomachy lives in the Twin Cities area. Titanomachy was a great tournament, but it was disappointing that only five teams could come to such a great tournament that was open to both high school and college students. It was probably a little difficult than the typical novice tournament, but most of the tossups were appropriate for a novice tournament.

I feel ACF suffers from an undeserved connotation that is too hard. In some cases such as 2005 ACF Nationals, ACF can be very difficult, but this year's ACF Fall was extremely appropriate for a novice level tournament. ACF Regionals has grown more difficult the past few years, but 2008 ACF Regionals is going to be noticably easier than 2007 ACF Regionals.

I don't feel R. is trying to undermine Penn Bowl or quiz bowl in general. He has done a lot to promote quiz bowl, especially in Minnesota, and I am guessing he just wants to give teams an opportunity to compete. It looked good in principle to have Tartan Tussle and ACF Fall on the same weekend, but as Gautam said, some schools had drives of several hours if they would have stayed for ACF Fall.

I feel that most of the people posting in this thread including me, have vastly different views about quiz bowl than the normal quiz bowl participant.
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Post by NoahMinkCHS » Fri Dec 28, 2007 5:47 pm

So I hate to post twice in such short succession but I just read Fred's interview with R and something struck me, relevant to this discussion.
R wrote:NAQT is routinely behind on its production work; if members have spare time, they should be writing and editing questions for overdue sets rather than posting on the Internet.
It occurs to me that the #1 most common excuse, far above all others, for hosting a badly-written packet submission tournament is, "We got the packets late and didn't have time to edit them properly".

Maybe the circuit would actually benefit from moving closer to this NAQT philosophy.

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Post by AKKOLADE » Fri Dec 28, 2007 5:56 pm

NoahMinkCHS wrote:So I hate to post twice in such short succession but I just read Fred's interview with R and something struck me, relevant to this discussion.
R wrote:NAQT is routinely behind on its production work; if members have spare time, they should be writing and editing questions for overdue sets rather than posting on the Internet.
It occurs to me that the #1 most common excuse, far above all others, for hosting a badly-written packet submission tournament is, "We got the packets late and didn't have time to edit them properly".

Maybe the circuit would actually benefit from moving closer to this NAQT philosophy.
As someone who reads every single post on this site every single day, let me say this: I spend, at the most extreme possible, half an hour reading posts. I doubt that has wrecked a tournament at all.
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Post by grapesmoker » Fri Dec 28, 2007 6:17 pm

theMoMA wrote:Without independent quizbowl producing the vast majority of tournaments, there would be little following for SCT and ICT. NAQT's college popularity stems largely from the fact that independent quizbowl exists, and it's high time that NAQT engaged the circuit in good-faith efforts to improve the game.
No, Andrew, you've got it backwards. Without the independent circuit, there would be nothing but NAQT, and that would become the standard of quizbowl. The independent circuit did much of the work in the early days of setting up communication between schools and getting teams out there to play. NAQT was once part of that circuit, and grew out of it, but is now something different entirely. If the independent editors of the circuit stopped their work tomorrow, sooner or later they would just be replaced by IS sets.

When you invite NAQT to "engage the circuit in good-faith efforts to improve the game," you forget that NAQT is not necessarily interested in doing more than the minimum required to not alienate good teams. Consider how long it took for them to get Andrew Yaphe on board and give him the authority to reject awful questions, or how long it took just to get a survey up regarding what people thought of the questions.
Whether that's done through this message board or through other means, I have no preference. The not-so-subtle abandonment of the HSQB board is merely a symptom of the larger problem.
I do have a preference. It should be done on this board, out in the open, where everyone can scrutinize the arguments and decide for themselves. Private communication is fine, but is totally inadequate because it would be quite crass of me to post a private email without the other person here to defend himself.

Now, I want to address the reasons given for NAQT's poor communication skills which Fred posted from his interview with R.:
R. wrote:1. I am the official spokesperson for NAQT in public forums, but I routinely bite off more than I can chew in terms of administrative and production work, which makes it difficult to find large chunks of time to devote to posting (except in the aftermath of our "prestige" events (SCT, ICT, HSNCT).

2. Other members are not the official spokesperson for NAQT and may not have NAQT's "position paper" (so to speak) at hand.
This is just silly. So make someone else the official spokesperson and give them the position paper. I believe other corporations have such people, and I don't see why NAQT can't designate someone to fill this role.
Some NAQT members disagree with aspects of NAQT's policies and may not feel compelled to defend them in a public forum.
Uh.. ok. So, don't? Find people who do agree?
NAQT discourages its members from entering bellicose discussions on the grounds that it is unseemly for members to be involved in flame wars, particularly with people for whom they may need to judge matches
or resolve protests in the future. It's particularly unseemly for members to be publicly critical of business competitors.
Bolding mine. Well, I don't know if it was intentional, but that one little bit tells me a whole lot about how NAQT feels about us. You see, we independent question producers are not other people on the circuit, we're "business competitors." Left unspoken, obviously, is the question of what you do to business competitors, especially business competitors that aren't even really a business, and that mostly sell a superior product for less.

I enter into discussions with people all the time, and sometimes those people come to a tournament that I had a hand in and I have to judge them. I'm pretty confident in my ability to do so fairly, and in any case, have not had anyone complain; I find it strange that NAQT thinks its members cannot fairly adjudicate a protest involving someone they've been in arguments with, although the noted :arminius: incident from a past ICT seems to lend evidence to this claim.
NAQT's members are (generally, but not always) older and have seen discussions of the same issues (distribution, pop culture, timed matches, computation questions, etc.) over and over again; they may
feel that they have little new to contribute, having expressed their feelings many times before.
So, that means they have a knock-down argument and response to the complaints in question, right? If a point keeps coming up time and again, what that means is that it hasn't been resolved to people's satisfaction, not that you should just stop paying attention to it.
NAQT's members are busy; by virtue of their being in NAQT they are effectively working two jobs (except for me) and, more and more, they are also raising kids. That may sound like a weak excuse to high
schoolers and collegians (it probably would have to me at that age), but it takes time to be an active forum participant and many NAQT members don't have as much of it as they did when they were younger.

NAQT is routinely behind on its production work; if members have spare time, they should be writing and editing questions for overdue sets rather than posting on the Internet.

Addressing critical questions takes a lot of time; if somebody criticizes NAQT for having science questions that are too easy, for instance, it's an unsatisfactory response for us to say, "Well, we don't think so. So there." A proper response requires tabulating tossup and bonus answerability data across the board and making comparisons. That takes a lot of time, even if the entire resulting post comes out as, "At a 95% certainty level, there was no difference in the mean PPB on science bonuses as non-science bonuses."
We're all strapped for time. I'm sure you can afford more than 10 minutes of it per year.
NAQT considers responding to incoming personal e-mails, faxes, calls, and (rarely) letters to be higher priority than posting on Internet forms. The "customer-service" time that we have is preferentially devoted to those activities.
Right, that way inadequate responses don't have to be subjected to public scrutiny. Sorry, the whole point of having a DISCUSSION FORUM is that everyone can participate and offer their opinions.
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Post by Strongside » Fri Dec 28, 2007 7:30 pm

One thing that I think might be a good idea is to have a website dedicated to listing all announced/planned upcoming collegiate tournaments, and collegiate tournament results. The website could have a calendar of all upcoming meets, and results of past meets so people can look at one page for upcoming tournaments, and results that could be organized by date.

For example if someone wants to look at past results from tournaments, they generally have to "dig" around the forums and the archives to get results. Tournament announcements are listed in the forums, but they are not in chronological order, and can be pushed down the page if not updated or bumped.

NAQT has a schedule of meets on their website, and I don't see why there can't be one for all of college quiz bowl. What I essentially envision is a website that has a week by week listing of all upcoming announced collegiate tournaments, and past results, write-ups, and statistics from various tournaments.

It think it would be better for quiz bowl to become more centralized in terms of information and communication. The great thing about quiz bowl is that there are many different types of tournaments, (ACF, mACF, NAQT, Hybrid Trash, etc.).

Is there anything important I am missing? Is this a good idea? Would anyone be willing to create and/or maintain something like this?
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Post by First Chairman » Fri Dec 28, 2007 7:45 pm

I suppose on behalf of PACE and this board, a calendar is one of the things we are trying to develop for this website. (If not, I recommend Google Calendar :) .) If you'd like to help develop this, please drop us all a line.
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Post by theMoMA » Fri Dec 28, 2007 7:51 pm

I believe Trygve was hoping to implement something like this on the new QBwiki. We'd have pages for every month, which would link to pages of every day. The TD would then edit in tournament information to the day pages, or something like that.

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Post by First Chairman » Sat Dec 29, 2007 12:23 am

I like the speed of this group. There's now a QB wiki 2008 college tournament calendar!

We now return to deploring the use of A sets...
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Post by setht » Sat Dec 29, 2007 1:52 am

I guess I've forgotten the arguments for why it's not okay to have college students playing questions produced for high school competition; can someone remind me? If there are people in college encountering buzzer-based competition for the first time in their lives, or some weekend warriors that want to get together once or twice a year to play easy questions, I think playing A sets is fine.

I don't buy the argument that people that play an A level set will immediately decide that they never want to try anything harder. I also think it's likely that some of the people that play an A level set can be persuaded to participate in other tournaments, as players or as staff if they decide they don't want to compete on harder questions. I think this is a good thing; those regional and national tournaments don't just staff themselves, guys. In summary, I think these tournaments are at worst harmless and at best bring more people into the game as players and/or staff at higher-level events.

Anyway, taking a closer look at Matt's initial post makes me wonder if we've forgotten the beautiful lessons we all learned in this thread. For instance:
Matt Weiner wrote:I know we've been over this before and I've heard a lot of dumb arguments about why it's okay for people in college to play high school questions. Guess what? It's still not okay.
I think this paragraph is a model of terrible communication. All opposing arguments are dismissed as dumb, and no supporting arguments are presented. If you don't want to type up a quick summary, at least give a link to where we've been over this before.
Matt Weiner wrote:I've been told that a certain person is trying to host a tournament for colleges on NAQT "A" level questions on January 26 in St. Paul. Not just high school questions--JV-level high school questions! Stuff designed to be competitively appropriate for 9th graders, and for high schools who have never had a team before! Do people have no self-respect at all? Do people in college actually want to play this stuff?

And do the people organizing this tournament really think that teams cannot go 390 miles to play the Penn Bowl mirror (or 195 miles, for those located in-between)? A tournament that will be held on actual collegiate questions, at normal difficulty? Is this really so damn difficult for people in college that they have to run away in terror and play questions written for 14 year olds?
Again, this doesn't read like a calmly-reasoned commentary on anything. Let me throw this out there: when I first started playing quizbowl, NAQT was still running its fall tournament. I don't know how the 1999 fall set compares with current A level sets, but I'm guessing it wasn't much different in difficulty. I had a good time at that tournament, my teammates had a good time at that tournament--it was a positive experience that encouraged me to go to more tournaments of all sorts. I'll also say that, having played zero quizbowl in high school, I did not find the fall tournament questions demeaning to me as a player.

I don't know for certain, but I believe there are a number of new/young clubs in or near the Twin Cities. I assume they are a large part of the target audience for the Jan. 26th tournament, and I wouldn't be surprised if these are clubs that would not (yet) consider driving 390 miles for a tournament.
Kit Cloudkicker wrote:Don't schedule worthless tournaments to which teams who could be competitive in real quizbowl might go against previously announced tournaments using questions actually designed for college play. I find it unconscionable that a program that sent a very strong team to ACF nationals last year and that has been around for such a long time would so blatantly slap a novice tournament written by real college players for real college players in the face. Come on, Carleton. Give me your excuse. I want to hear it. Why is this ok? Tell me. Tell us. Tell the circuit why you should get to run this tournament on this date? Forget the fact that you're using worthless questions; how do you have the right to run a tournament against another previously-announced tournament that targets the same teams as yours? I'm waiting.
Again, this doesn't seem like a good "persuasive" post. While I was reading this, I found it strange that Eric wrote in this tone just after revealing that Charlie's over-the-top post was, in fact, off base. Sure enough, a couple posts later I see that Carleton has been running this tournament on this date for the past decade (assuming Krakki is right about that; I haven't checked). A quick glance at Mapquest also tells me that Northfield and Urbana-Champaign are 500 miles apart. I know that CUT wasn't announced on this board early in the season, and I know that there may be some teams that would seriously consider going to both tournaments if they were on different weekends, but I'm sorely tempted to write this off as yet another "that guy just shot himself in the foot" moment.

It sounds to me like there hasn't been any real impropriety with choosing dates (if anything, it sounds like the easy tournaments were posted first). If I'm wrong about that, then that does suck, but it sucks the same way it would if two hard academic tournaments or any two tournaments collided, not because one of the tournaments happens to be using an A level set.

Moving on to Andrew's post: this seems much more like the type of post we should have in a section labeled "Discussion".
theMoMa wrote:However, there are a bunch of novice teams out there who are legitimately looking to improve as players, and have little idea what that entails. It's not fair to those teams to say that these tournaments are stepping stones to the circuit. They are stepping stones to competing in more IS set tournaments
I don't fully agree with Andrew's assessment here--I agree that an A level set is pretty far from any modern circuit event I'm aware of, but I'm not sure that tournaments on A level sets can't be of some use to players or teams looking to improve, nor am I convinced that such players/teams will be discouraged from playing circuit events in the future. I agree that A level sets are significantly different from circuit event sets, and that players/teams should not be told that A level sets are representative of circuit event difficulty. Once that's been noted, I don't see much harm in new/young players playing on such questions.

My take on this is based in large part on my own experience: during my first semester playing quizbowl, I believe some older person told me and my teammates that the NAQT fall tournament questions would be somewhat easier and would have a somewhat different distribution than most other tournaments. Then I played the fall tournament and had fun. Then I played a bunch of circuit tournaments. After a couple years of playing lots of circuit tournaments, I started playing ACF Regionals and Nationals, and I haven't stopped since. I don't think I'm at all exceptional in this regard. I'll also note that most of the circuit sets of 1999 and the early 2000's would give the ACF cabal collective apoplexy if they were played today.

I was going to write more on the communication issue--I think it's interesting, and I disagree with several people that have posted here about it (especially Matt/Charlie/Jerry and some of Andrew's later stuff, but ESPECIALLY Ryan, of course)--but I'll save it for later.

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Post by theMoMA » Sat Dec 29, 2007 3:18 am

Seth, I think you're slightly misunderstand what I'm saying. I understand that these tournaments are meant to be entertaining events for new players and those who enjoy competition on IS-type questions alone. In fact, I tried to go out of my way to say that even new teams that are trying to become competitive on the circuit should attend these tournaments if they're accessible and entertaining. I have even played a handful of such tournaments myself.

However, I think it's misguided to say hey, come play IS or A-series, and you're on your way to become a competitive circuit team. Are these events fun for new teams and people who like quizbowl but would rather not put in the work to become competitive on the circuit? Sure. They're also a fine introduction to buzzer competition for those less familiar with the game. I don't deny this, and I hope that these tournaments are available as long as people gain pleasure from going to them.

However, I think we need to make sure that young players going to these tournaments don't come to expect IS or A-series style at regular college tournaments. Surely they can play a helpful role in bringing new players into the game, but it's misleading to claim or insinuate that questions written for high schoolers are indicative of what to expect at the college level. I think that this assumption leads to a gap in expectations that can often cause disillusionment with the regular college game, especially in the first go-around.

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Post by Matt Weiner » Sat Dec 29, 2007 5:18 am

Seth, your ability to contribute as much as you do to good quizbowl as a writer, editor, and player, while maintaining a diplomatic stance towards what I am certain is bad quizbowl, is admirable. But it's also rare, and I think you've missed a few problems with compromise here that explain why other people in the small group of dedicated good-quizbowl creators do not all agree with you:

1) Like you, I have been around long enough to remember the NAQT fall tournaments for collegiate teams, and I remember that NAQT made it clear what the difficulty of those tournaments was supposed to be: exactly the same as Sectionals. They have their internal rating scale which I'm not entirely familiar with, but I know that it clearly differentiates Sectionals from HSNCT, HSNCT from the regular high school questions, and the regular high school questions from the A-levels; there's at least three degrees of difference. I don't think the upwards drift in difficulty since 1999 has been either as large as some make it out to be in general, or as pronounced within NAQT sets as it has been within quizbowl at large. So it's really, really unlikely that the A sets now are anything like the Fall sets were, and you can check out the sample A set on the NAQT website to confirm that.

2) The evidence shows that teams who play the high school question tournaments, and especially the A-level tournaments, do not use them as "stepping stones." Brendan said it fairly explicitly earlier in this thread:
One thing that I noticed is that for six of the schools at the Tartan Tussle meet, it was the only academic quiz bowl meet they attended the entire season.

Those six schools are Iowa, Grinnell, Minnesota Morris, Northern Iowa, Miami U, and Macalester. An A-level tournament can be good in the sense that teams that otherwise don't go to many tournaments go to a tournament.
The situation is not that teams are easing themselves into the collegiate quizbowl circuit by playing these JV high school questions--the situation is that NAQT is forming its own captive audience which plays exclusively on a high-school-question circuit and is being discouraged from playing real tournaments (mostly by scheduling the tournaments on the same days, but occasionally by hiding or distorting information about real quizbowl).

3) There is a situation here analogous to what happens when a collegiate team starts playing nothing but trash. People who are not interested in playing trash don't bother joining the team, because it's not the outlet for participating in real tournaments that they are looking for. Similarly, a team devoting itself to playing high school questions is not going to attract people interested in playing real questions, and thus will develop inertia towards always playing high school questions--as we see above, this is exactly what is going on.

As for NAQT's communication issues, the excuses presented so far are ridiculous. Saying that they want to avoid flame wars or people who "don't speak for NAQT" speaking for NAQT is stupid--let the people who do know the official line post here, then. The only "business competitors" NAQT has are Chip Beall and College Bowl. They aren't posting here as far as I know. I am not a "business competitor" because I am in PACE or ACF--PACE is registered as a nonprofit, but we see less money in a year than NAQT makes as profit on any one IS set. While it may be a "business" it certainly isn't a "competitor" by any reasonable definition, especially since everyone involved in PACE is constantly telling high school teams to go to the HSNCT. ACF is not even a "business"--we're just getting together a constitution THIS YEAR, and we're still handling the pittances of money involved by having personal checks mailed to editors' homes. I know that people like Eric Bell have a near-pathological desire to see NAQT crush all other quizbowl, so they have to convince themselves that tournaments which attract ten to thirty percent of the teams as NAQT and make zero to ten percent as much money are "competing" with NAQT, but that doesn't make it true.

All of this is basically a dumb excuse to never discuss things in public and to instead do it by private e-mail so no one else can verify these sweeping claims about what "the community" wants. But this becomes even more absurd when no one responds to emails! I, for one, do not get that courtesy anymore, and I don't think I've been hammering the feedback account with a lot of ranting about unimportant issues. By my count, I have written 5 e-mails to NAQT since the beginning of calendar year 2006; I got replies to one about travel costs to Minneapolis, and one about staffing at the 2007 HSNCT.

I sent emails about the 2006 ICT protest, about factual errors and other concerns with IS63 and IS64, and about general issues with the way the ICT is run, and I never got any replies or any acknowledgment that the messages were read at all. For the last one, I went to pains to make sure it was couched in the most polite language possible and even vetted it with other people to see if it had unneeded sarcasm or invective, and I received an unqualified thumbs-up on that front. Not only was that message never replied to, I asked an NAQT member in person what had happened to it five weeks later and he told me that no one reads the feedback account between ICT and HSNCT because there is too much to do. Now, one could wonder several things--why the message wasn't evaluated after the HSNCT, or whether the endless cycle of producing SCT-ICT-HSNCT-IMs-IS sets conveniently means that there is always something to do and thus never a good time to reply to e-mails (which Hentzel explicitly says in his interview). I do not find this acceptable as an NAQT CUSTOMER, which is a role I play way more often than so-called NAQT "competitor."

I, too, wonder why people who are not or should not be involved in question writing can't be put in charge of relating to the public. If Hentzel is "chief editor" and is working on IS sets and who knows what else, then maybe he shouldn't also be in charge of all the e-mail accounts and all the public relations. There are a legion of people in the NAQT membership whose skills should be used on things other than question-writing--by my estimation, not a single person on the official list besides Andrew Yaphe is a competent writer. Others may disagree, but I think we all know that there are many names on the list who are not in fact buried up to their ears in editing responsibilities and could find something else to do if NAQT as a whole had any desire to acknowledge that their customers are not their "competitors."

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Post by Mr. Kwalter » Sat Dec 29, 2007 6:26 am

Since Sorice, who it is reasonable to assume speaks for the Illinois club, publically absolved Carleton of any affront to that organization, and since Carleton doesn't seem to care about Illinois, I certainly won't presume to continue that fight. In fact, I regret getting into it in the first place. Really, it's not the place of anyone but the clubs involved to actually resolve this kind of thing. When conflicts are noticed, the teams whose tournaments are conflicting should be told of said conflict and they should be allowed/encouraged to resolve it on their own. If the offending party fails to correct itself, then outside parties should be welcome to express their opinions on the situation.

I do think Carleton behaved irresponsibly; with very few exceptions, announcing a tournament anywhere but hsquizbowl.org does not meet the burden of publicity required to claim a date. Those exceptions come in cases in which the venue in which the tournament in question was announced was somehow more appropriate than hsquizbowl.org, like CBI regionals for an A-level college tournament. Those teams most likely don't frequent this site (yet), so reaching out to them there instead is a reasonable act.
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Post by First Chairman » Sat Dec 29, 2007 9:16 am

I do think that if there is an expectation that anyone involved in quiz bowl (high school or college) should visit this site... hey, I'm glad for it. We've had a lot more traffic in the last year than we had ever anticipated (thus the upgrades we've had in the past year).

But we do need to let it be clear that this is now an expectation. This is hard to do considering the audience, but if we have people continuing to reach out to other teams all the time (turnover issues for high school and college rosters of course), we will eventually get there.

Now of course, Carleton has been around and with an experienced advisor, so I don't know why they would not post an announcement here other than simple turnover of leadership. But those who are closer would know better than me.
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Post by First Chairman » Sat Dec 29, 2007 9:25 am

But let's go back to the theory... I completely understand the fact that NAQT is for the college circuit the industry leader, and that the proliferation of A-question sets in bonafide college events puts a pressure on the circuit to make questions much more easy than necessary. This is a quiz bowl-like Gresham's law application (disclaim: I'm not an economist, so correct me where you want), and it damages programs that run what had been more standard difficulty events from succeeding or drawing more "middle tier" teams to the events.

I don't completely agree with the characterization NAQT has had on this thread so far: I don't think it's just a question of wanting to make money. Yes, it is a business, and yes, those of us writing independently are competitors. But the last thing NAQT wants to do is create such a disparity in the quality of its questions with the expectations of its customer base. But NAQT is not an education organization (and for that matter neither are PACE or ACF). Making sure that their questions meet some education standard is not part of the reason why we watch Jeopardy, Millionaire, or the NAQT ICT final. As R's interview responses point out, they are in a position to be receptive to change but will not summarily change away from their own core principles of what the game should be... which if I surmise it, it's not a final graduation exam. Yes, it's nice to make some cash on the side, but it's not as critical as providing quality questions (as they perceive quality) in the format they philosophically promote.

That said, a lot of Matt has posted is indicative of what I think is a perceived philosophy NAQT has had for ACF, TRASH, PACE, and other quiz bowl community members. I don't want to comment more on R's interview specifically until it all comes out, nor do I ever comment on a business's philosophy or way they should do things. But I (and all PACE members) have always told people to go to NAQT and PACE and any of the other nationals because philosophically I am all about networking and growing the circuit. Furthermore, I want to know how the NSC is different or better than other competitions out there to continue to make the experience better. What I have learned from the past decade is that having NAQT out there is good for everyone, but having it be the ONLY driver in the circuit is not.

I sympathize with R since in many ways I have had to answer to the actions of others who are part of my organization (I'm not talking just about PACE here). I certainly have had my share of customer service issues on the giving and receiving side as part of the circuit. I do everything I can to promote the game and hope that in time the karma comes back (I find it usually does when it matters). But it is their business and how we want to operate with that business that is the issue.

So that said, while "are you smarter than a fifth grader" questions may make things entertaining for the general audience, we are not televising A-set questions at tournaments. I guess we're talking context here; running A-sets in college should be completely unnecessary and improper to prepare teams to play on harder SCT or ICT sets, whether we're talking in the current year or in future years. There may be circumstances where it would be appropriate (like students who are completely new to the format), but for college... I agree I don't think those are appropriate uses.
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Post by setht » Sat Dec 29, 2007 2:15 pm

Here's another behemoth; enjoy.
theMoMA wrote:There is clearly a lack of communication between NAQT and the circuit at large. And it seems to me that that communication breakdown stems from a major disconnect between NAQT and the college circuit. I find it more than a bit troubling that people associated with NAQT refuse to integrate themselves with the community that actually plays their college tournaments.
I don't think "people associated with NAQT refuse to integrate themselves with the community". I think it is true that most NAQT members are not really integrated into the community, but I don't think this stems from any conscious refusal on their part to associate with us. In years past, several members participated regularly in circuit events--I remember playing against Matt Bruce, Chad Kubicek, and R. Hentzel many times when I started playing quizbowl. I think their regular participation in circuit events helped integrate them into the community, but I believe most of the NAQT people that used to play circuit events have retired. This is unfortunate, since I think participating in circuit events is far more valuable than reading the hsqb board in terms of seeing the level of the circuit, but it's certainly understandable.
theMoMA wrote:Yet key members of NAQT rarely engage in any kind of dialog with the community at large.
A couple thoughts here: I know that it's frustrating when you're trying to start a dialog with someone and they don't respond or respond very slowly, but in order for there to be a meaningful dialog you have to present the sort of polite, clearly-articulated argument we so rarely see on this board, and you have to stick to that mode. I don't think it works to post 30 rants interspersed with 10 calm arguments--many people will write you off as a crank and stop reading. I think this is true for individual posters and whole threads.

So, perhaps key members of NAQT rarely engage in any kind of (meaningful) dialog with the community at large, but I think that's also true of the majority of the active posters here.

In fact, I think key members of NAQT have attempted to engage in meaningful dialog with the community at large following the 2006 and 2007 ICTs (see this thread [I believe R. started posting about the survey and responding to previous posts somewhere on the second page] and this thread, which has many posts from the head editor, the current events editor, and several writers; also see this thread). I guess there wasn't nearly as much discussion by NAQT members following SCT 2007, and perhaps the same is true for SCT 2006, I haven't checked. In any case, it seems to me that "key members of NAQT" did engage in active dialog following the last two national tournaments. NAQT also produced a survey following the 2006 ICT that resulted in noticeable changes (for the better, in my opinion) in the 2007 ICT. Take a close look at those threads and see for yourself how many posts there are from people associated with NAQT and how many of those posts seem to be written in "calm discussion" mode, then look at how many posts from the community at large don't seem to be written in "calm discussion" mode and how many times people from the community at large wind up saying, "I guess I went too far in a previous post."

Given that NAQT only runs two high-level college tournaments per year (I assume people aren't clamoring for more dialog following every tournament that uses A level sets), I'm not so sure there's a huge disconnect between NAQT and the circuit. As I said above, most or all of the key NAQT members are no longer active participants in the circuit; as a result, they don't play in or post regarding circuit tournaments--they post about their own tournaments. Ideally they'd announce their tournaments here (and on the calendar, if that takes off), but it seems to me that they have a decent track record of discussing their recent tournaments, and I don't mind going over to the Yahoo board or the NAQT website twice a year to check out the SCT/ICT info.
theMoMA wrote:There are perhaps those who will never be satisfied no matter what NAQT does. But NAQT's responsibility to the college game is too large to completely ignore the kind of critical feedback and open dialog that the circuit at large subjects itself to. The existence of these people, and the fact that they (like 90%+ of college quizbowlers) primarily use this message board to talk about quizbowl online should not cause NAQT to abandon open, reasoned discussion with those who attend their tournaments, and for whom those tournaments are written.
First off, I hope there aren't any people fitting the description given in that first sentence, but some of the more consistently-inflammatory posters make me wonder sometimes. Anyway, I urge you again to take a look at the post-ICT discussion threads from 2006 and 2007. It doesn't seem to me that NAQT has abandoned "open, reasoned discussion with those who attend their tournaments, and for whom those tournaments are written." I get the impression that NAQT is slower to change in response to criticism than, say, ACF, but I think it's clear from the discussion in those threads, and the survey, and the changes made in response to the survey, that NAQT is interested in doing the best job it can on its high-level tournaments.
theMoMA wrote:Andrew's dialog after ICT last year was a fine start, but I think we're still a long ways from where we should be.
...
the communication gap caused by NAQT's staunch isolationist policies have led to an atmosphere of competition between the circuit and NAQT, when in fact the two should have the same goals. I hope that...NAQT reverses its shirking of the great responsibility it has to the college game. The disconnect caused by the breakdown in communication is splitting the circuit into artificial camps and leading to unnecessary animosity in what should be a collegial community.
I'm a little confused by this. The most recent NAQT tournament was the 2007 ICT. Evidently you agree with me that the post-tournament dialog, especially Andrew Y's portion, was good. Are you saying that the NAQT-community dialog has suffered a major breakdown since then because the SCT announcement wasn't posted on this board? Was there supposed to be some ongoing discussion of SCT/ICT stuff through the summer? Also, various phrases ("staunch isolationist policy," "shirking of the great responsibility") in this paragraph don't seem warranted--to my mind, the 2007 ICT discussion belies the idea of a staunch isolationist policy, and I don't understand in what way NAQT has recently shirked any great responsibility it may have to the circuit (again, I'm not horrified by the fact that the SCT host announcements weren't immediately posted on this board by an NAQT member).

The more I think about this, the more I have a hard time figuring out where the idea of a breakdown in communication or a shirking of responsibilities came from. Help me out here, guys.

Moving on...
Matt Weiner wrote:So what was Hentzel doing when he announced a JV tournament for November 3, the ACF Fall date since forever?
From what I can tell, ACF Fall was on the first weekend of November in 2007 and 2006, the second weekend of November in 2005, and the last weekend of October in 2004. Obviously we can all do a better job of coordinating tournament dates, and I hope the new calendar helps with that, but it's not clear to me that ACF Fall has staked out the first weekend in November.
DumbJacques wrote:Without getting into the whole scheduling thing, let me just say that Andrew's comment about NAQT not engaging in a discussion here is spot on. What's the deal you guys? I'd particularly love to hear why the SCT announcement went to Yahoo and not to this board; at the moment, I can't think of a reason not to do so that wouldn't be petty or misguided.
I agree that not posting things over here is misguided, but I don't think it's a disaster, and I really don't think it has anything to do with "not engaging in a discussion". Do people believe that NAQT didn't post the SCT hosts here because they were worried they'd get a bunch of rants about which schools are hosting or something? In any case, posting on the Yahoo board and the NAQT website, and emailing the hosts directly to notify them that their bids have been accepted and letting them make individual announcements on the hsqb board* seems okay to me, although I'd prefer having things posted here as well.

*the announcement for the Chicago site will be up soon, I promise
Will Run PACE for Reese's wrote:If they don't feel comfortable posting here, it can be either a business decision on their part or a climate decision on ours if we feel we can address the divide.
Deesy Does It wrote:Well no duh it's their choice, but if NAQT wants to keep in contact with the circuit, and preserve their legitimacy, they really need to start posting here, reading criticisms, and start implementing it if people come to some agreement on it. I know Hentzel, Kubicek, and Bell all have accounts here, and if they and others were to start a dialogue then, while mean things may be said, I think it is the only real way they can keep in touch with the circuit and make a product that people find acceptable, instead of the current policy of ignoring everything here and ignoring critical emails. If they choose to keep not posting here, then they are making an incredibly poor business choice that will cause serious rifts in the circuit and will ultimately hurt everyone.
Guys, they do post here, they do read criticisms, and they've started implementing some changes in response to those criticisms. Where are your responses coming from? Are you both referring to NAQT's not posting the SCT host list here at the same time it was posted on the Yahoo group? It looks like the announcement made it over here one whole day later. I think it'd be better if it were just posted here at the same time, but I don't think what happened is anything to get worked up about.
grapesmoker wrote:I've been saying the same thing since 2005. Given the amount of time that has passed and the noted failure of NAQT to deign to come down to our level (to the point of posting announcements on Yahoo! instead of this board!), I think I'm justified in saying that NAQT doesn't care. I mean, they care in a sort of minimal way, because if you piss off too many good teams, they won't attend and then ICT wouldn't have nearly the same cachet, but they don't care all that much because what are you going to do, not come to ICT? Yeah, right!
I disagree with pretty much everything in this post. I think the 2006 and 2007 post-ICT discussions, the 2006 survey, and the changes NAQT implemented show that NAQT does care (and not in a minimal way) about the quality of its top-level collegiate tournaments. I think most or all of NAQT's members also care about the health of the circuit at large. I know Andrew Y does, and I know R. does--he used to help promote circuit events on the West Coast while he was living there.
gkandlikar wrote:I think this idea of NAQT... feeling uncomfortable to post here is plainly ridiculous. I mean, I just saw the epic quillin's questions thread, and the initial tone of the thread was rather, um, hostile. I don't know how uncomfortable Quillin felt, but she was very open to the suggestions. I feel like the discussion turned out to be a net benefit for the QB community (however small the benefit was). Given the defunct-ness of the Yahoo group, I feel that it is imperative for NAQT to start getting used to this here forum. I don't see why being under fire like that won't produce any good results.
I also think this idea of NAQT feeling uncomfortable about posting here is ridiculous, in the sense that I think NAQT does not feel uncomfortable posting here and I can't figure out where people got that idea. There aren't tons of NAQT-related posts here, but I think there was a reasonable amount of dialog following the 2006 and 2007 ICTs, and the SCT host posting thing this year seems relatively minor to me. On the subject of people being under fire here: if you go through that Quillin's questions thread, I think you'll find that the part where she was under fire was of no use to anyone, while the part where people responded calmly was of some use. If you go through the post-ICT discussion threads I linked above, I think you'll find the same thing: the posts where people flame NAQT aren't actually useful at all, while the posts where people turn down the heat and actually explain what they think is wrong and what should be done to fix it contributed to a useful dialog that actually resulted in improvements.
Ryan Westbrook wrote:I'll go so far as to say that legitimacy equals posting here; this is basically the one and only hub of serious quizbowl and there is no satisfactory reason to ignore it. Andrew may be right that this community is about good faith effort, but Jerry is more right in his belief that you're not going to get that effort out of NAQT, which is solely interested in making money where it can - and that ain't from pure souls who preach the value of good quizbowl, like those posting here. Really, the reach-out-and-communicate-with-NAQT bus has long left the station at this point; it won't work no matter who is heading the effort or when.

If you have organizational energy to spare, you're best off spending it to encourage a boycott of NAQT on the part of the in-the-know qb circuit. Here, I'll help you start. Stop going to SCT and ICT. Stop running tournaments on NAQT stuff. Just stop it, you're getting nothing of value from them you can't get elsewhere for less money and more satisfaction.
Oh Ryan, you so crazy! I have a hard time thinking of a worse way to establish quizbowl legitimacy than "posting a lot on this board." Also, let's juxtapose Ryan's claim that NAQT is "solely interested in making money where it can" with the well-known fact (noted recently by Jerry, among others) that NAQT loses money on SCT/ICT. I guess I should note that I don't buy Jerry's argument that NAQT's real purpose in running SCT/ICT is building a loyal customer base for their IS sets.

I'm not really sure how Ryan defines the "in-the-know qb circuit." Let's suppose he means "all teams and individuals that prefer ACF Regionals and Nationals to SCT and ICT," and let's suppose that this mighty host of teams starts boycotting NAQT. Here's my bold prediction: ACF will be dead within 4 years, at least at the Regionals/Nationals level.

Finally, in response to Ryan's claim that I am getting nothing of value from NAQT that I can't get elsewhere for less money and more satisfaction: I feel that I'm getting a second legitimate national tournament (and a corresponding legitimate regional qualifier tournament) that I enjoy playing. I'm not aware of any cheaper, more satisfying alternatives.

It's time for lunch here so I'll stop. It looks like Matt has posted a much calmer and more informative message, which is heartening; if I have time, I'll try to get through the rest of this thread and post some more responses later today or tomorrow.

-Seth

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Post by grapesmoker » Sat Dec 29, 2007 3:40 pm

Seth, I'm going to disagree with a couple of your points that seem the most incorrect to me.
setht wrote:Guys, they do post here, they do read criticisms, and they've started implementing some changes in response to those criticisms.
My response to this is two-fold: first, why does change proceed at such a glacial pace at NAQT? The distributional issues and the gimmicky questions are not new problems, they've been a topic of discussion probably since 2002 or 2003. Why did we have to wait 3 or 4 years before someone even bothered to put together a survey? And secondly, why has there never been any public discussion with any members of NAQT about any of the alleged problems with the sets? I don't buy for a minute that people haven't presented reasonable arguments on this front, or that the merest hint of hostility is somehow sufficient to scare away anyone at NAQT who might be interested in posting about it. They're adults, not thin-skinned children.
I disagree with pretty much everything in this post. I think the 2006 and 2007 post-ICT discussions, the 2006 survey, and the changes NAQT implemented show that NAQT does care (and not in a minimal way) about the quality of its top-level collegiate tournaments. I think most or all of NAQT's members also care about the health of the circuit at large. I know Andrew Y does, and I know R. does--he used to help promote circuit events on the West Coast while he was living there.
I disagree. I think the timeline of events makes it clear that NAQT only decided to implement real changes when they were pushed to it by circumstances. NAQT in general and R. in particular might or might not care, but I don't see that reflected in their practices all that much.

Again, I think the crucial point is communication, which NAQT has not adequately engaged in with its critics. By engaging in debate, you show that you are of the circuit, and not above the circuit, and you also show an open willingness to accept critique and change your ways. Much of the inflammatory language with regard to NAQT stems precisely from this frustration with the company after trying to engage them on a substantive level.

As for the argument about using A-levels and IS sets to run college tournaments, I just looked at a sample A-level set on the NAQT website. It's terrible! Almost every question breaks at least one or two rules of good question writing; there is no way to come away from playing this set and have a correct understanding of what decent questions should look like. Do I really need to engage in a play-by-play here? Running a college tournament on these questions basically gives people an introduction into the "tossup-buzz-bonus" format, but little else.
Jerry Vinokurov
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Post by No Rules Westbrook » Sat Dec 29, 2007 3:44 pm

Well, fair enough, in response to Seth I'll flesh out the laconic and characteristically bullheaded prose of my previous post. First of all, much like Seth, my position on these things probably stems mostly from my personal experience as a player and watcher of quizbowl. And, I don't see how one can say that there exists more evidence for the proposition that things like A-sets bring people to the game in a helpful way than the proposition that they mire people in a swamp of bad quizbowl from which they almost never extract themselves.

We all know that, by today's standards, quizbowl around 1999 sucked it hard no matter whether you were playing SCT or a "circuit event." Fine, but it's not 1999...today, there is a whole platter of good circuit events at all rungs of the difficulty ladder which basically adhere to what we have all many times agreed are the tenets of good quizbowl. The idea of the "transitional" and "novice" tournament has spread like wildfire - to the point where I and others have even made the case that there are now too many such tourneys. And, I make that argument partly because I think it leads to a pernicious mindset which is cropping up here: that everything is a "stepping stone," that anything which even resembles a game where you answer questions can help to foster good quizbowl.

As a brief digression, I was thinking the other night about what really strikes me as a positive recent development in the game. Players who are very young, in high school or just into college, are connecting with the high-level qb circuit, reading packets, and getting to know what Weiner calls the "small group of dedicated good-quizbowl creators" (a fine phrase, btw). In short, they're getting to know from the very start what this game should be all about, playing and learning and reading and writing good stuff. Not winning useless titles and trophies, not devising a strategy on how to succeed at CBI or NAQT, not being fascinated with the concept of having a buzzer in your hand that goes beep. And, despite the ever-expanding canon, they can do this because there are more packets available (hopefully infinitely, when/if that damned archive ever gets up) and there are all sorts of introductory events like EFT, Penn Bowl, ACF Fall, etc. which are real stepping stones.

This board is a big part of that "connection" with good quizbowl. Like I said before, it's the hub of everything that's happening that's worth knowing. As someone said recently, even just following the eruptions of Mount Vinokurov on this board will teach you something about good quizbowl (and, as a bonus, allow you to become acquainted with the bombastic prose and personality of one of the community's most colorful denizens). Looking back, I wish someone would have told me to come to this board (and the chatroom) when I was younger, I think it would have helped to accelerate my attachment to the game.

Sorry, all told, I don't think there's anything left for NAQT to give the game. NAQT is a business which has proven over and over again that it is interested in nothing but delivering an overpriced, unresponsive, and subpar product which embodies the spirit of bad quizbowl. Let's not legitimize it by pretending they're merely adhering to some "philosophy" that we may or may not agree with. (Note - I refreshed this and can now read Seth's second post - I should note that I am certainly buying Jerry's assumption that NAQT loses money on SCT/ICT so that it can proudly proclaim that it has what Seth calls a "legitimate national tournament." And then, with people satisfied that it has that, it can set about making money elsewhere.)

And, more importantly, I don't agree that there's any inherent value in the fact that it is a "second legitimate national tournament." Who cares, what makes it legitimate? I know I'm probably way in the minority here, but the only legitimacy I think should exist in qb is developing personal skill at playing and learning good stuff...not succeeding at something that may or may not deserve a phony label like "legitimate national tournament."

Also, on another issue as to which I'm sure different people will just have to disagree - returning to this idea of insisting on "reasoned dialog" seems like a cop-out to me. I suppose some people like myself, short of becoming a frail and senile old man, will just never appreciate the power of civility, tact, and good manners. Meh, dialog is dialog, stop hiding behind some sanctimonious desire to take the high ground or behind some silly idea of not speaking for or sullying the name of a corporation. Whatever, put your position out there and defend it, so that we can all evaluate it. I'm not really commenting here on whether NAQT has or has not satisfactorily communicated on various issues; I'm just pooh-poohing this constant focus on how some people on this board can sometimes be a bit over-the-top.

I'm not going to question Seth's assertion that he played and generally enjoyed an NAQT fall set, and then proceeded to develop into an exemplary player/writer/etc. But players don't need to follow that tortured and uncertain route to glory anymore. Go to ACF Fall instead, read some packets and some posts here instead. And, in the process, have the satisfaction of depriving NAQT of the legitimacy it doesn't deserve. I remain convinced that this is the quickest and most surefire way to grow a culture of good quizbowl players, which is my only agenda.

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Post by Sir Thopas » Sat Dec 29, 2007 6:09 pm

Will Run PACE for Reese's wrote:What I have learned from the past decade is that having NAQT out there is good for everyone, but having it be the ONLY driver in the circuit is not.
Sidestepping the college discussion, about which I'm not really qualified to opine, let me just say that this seems to be true for the high school game. When I started our team two years ago, I had NAQT's starter set and the '05 HSNCT podcasts. Not talking about converting from Chip Beall, but for getting people into the HS game in the first place, NAQT is an accessible and useful company. However, once I knew what I was doing, I got a bit disenchanted with the company, leading to where we are today. If there were nothing but NAQT I'd probably be a much worse player and especially writer, but without it entirely . . . well, I probably would have found some sort of QB anyway, but Chip Beall would be the only game in town (especially given that I'm in a traditionally staunch Chip region).

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Post by theMoMA » Sat Dec 29, 2007 10:00 pm

The game's survival is built upon a foundation of good-faith efforts by a cooperative group. I believe that the cooperative group depends on people willing to interact with each other in an honest manner and not defer them to closed email addresses and invoke surveys and silent majorities. If Seth or anyone wants to say that I am clearly missing the point and NAQT is obviously making an honest good-faith effort to communicate and be a part of the cooperative group that makes good quizbowl possible, that's fine. I don't particularly appreciate being told that I haven't read or considered things that seem essential for speaking on this subject, like the threads Seth mentions. I can assure anyone who's concerned that I've considered quite a few things before writing up the above critique.

The idea that Seth seems to be promulgating, that there is no problem in the relationship between NAQT and the people who go to its tournaments, strike me as inconsistent with reality. I think that most people would agree that some strain exists between NAQT and circuit quizbowl right now. While the fatalistic among us like Jerry and Ryan may suggest that this is a result of an irreparable difference between the goals of NAQT and the circuit, I don't see it that way.

The problem that I see with the way that NAQT communicates is that there's always an implication that there are things that can't be spoken of in the open. If someone asks why NAQT writes "X, Y, both, or neither" bonuses, they shouldn't be referred to an email address or told to complete a survey. Someone speaking for NAQT should come out and say that their research indicates that more teams like those bonuses than not, or that they believe they test valuable information, or that they don't know why people keep writing them, and they'll look into it. I'm not saying that NAQT needs to change anything except the way it deals with its customers, who it needs to recognize are also quizbowl writers, editors, promoters, and players. We should all be speaking on the same level, and I think NAQT needs to realize that this means engaging in honest, good-faith discussions that don't carry the implication that one party is simply a market demographic to be studied.

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Post by setht » Sun Dec 30, 2007 1:05 am

I guess I'll try starting from the bottom and working my way up, this time.
theMoMA wrote:The game's survival is built upon a foundation of good-faith efforts by a cooperative group. I believe that the cooperative group depends on people willing to interact with each other in an honest manner and not defer them to closed email addresses and invoke surveys and silent majorities. If Seth or anyone wants to say that I am clearly missing the point and NAQT is obviously making an honest good-faith effort to communicate and be a part of the cooperative group that makes good quizbowl possible, that's fine. I don't particularly appreciate being told that I haven't read or considered things that seem essential for speaking on this subject, like the threads Seth mentions. I can assure anyone who's concerned that I've considered quite a few things before writing up the above critique.
I'd like to try to clear things up a bit here. Are people upset because they feel NAQT doesn't do enough in terms of receiving and responding to criticism about SCT/ICT, or because they feel NAQT really should have posted the announcement of the SCT hosts on here at the same time that the post was made on the Yahoo board, or because they feel NAQT should stop selling IS/A level sets, or some combination of the above, or something else entirely? I'm not sure what we're arguing about when we discuss how NAQT communicates with the circuit at large.

My impression is that NAQT has done a decent job in receiving and responding to criticism about ICT (perhaps not so much with SCT) on this forum in the past couple years. I pointed out those threads not so much because I believe Andrew in particular hasn't read or thought about them but because I think many of the other people posting in this thread probably hadn't looked at them prior to entering the fray (I didn't look at them before making my first post); more importantly, I think they do answer some of the claims he and others are making, and I wanted to hear from him (or anyone else) on why they think the post-ICT dialog was unsatisfactory. Sure enough, my claim prompted a swift response from Jerry. I agree with Jerry that NAQT has been slow to implement changes in the sense that there were some people clamoring for distributional changes in 2002 that weren't implemented until 2007. However, it's not clear to me that the prospects are so dismal for future improvement of SCT/ICT. Perhaps I'm being naive, but it seems to me that NAQT's being willing to reveal their distribution (yes, I think it should have been revealed from the start, but presumably it's now going to stay revealed), ask for feedback, and then use that feedback to change the distribution for the next year's tournament are all positive signs. I assume they'll be open to repeating the survey/distribution change process in the future; perhaps not every year, but I think that's fine. Jerry also asks why there has never been public discussion with any member of NAQT about any of the alleged problems with the sets; Jerry (or someone else), can you explain to me why the discussion threads I mentioned don't count? As far as I can tell, several members of NAQT engaged in a public discussion on this board that addressed, among other things, at least some of the alleged problems with the sets. I don't know if they managed to respond to every single issue raised in the thread.
theMoMA wrote:The idea that Seth seems to be promulgating, that there is no problem in the relationship between NAQT and the people who go to its tournaments, strike me as inconsistent with reality. I think that most people would agree that some strain exists between NAQT and circuit quizbowl right now. While the fatalistic among us like Jerry and Ryan may suggest that this is a result of an irreparable difference between the goals of NAQT and the circuit, I don't see it that way.
I am promulgating the opinion that there is no major problem with the way in which NAQT has received and responded to criticism regarding ICT in the past two years. I am further promulgating the opinions that the absence of a post from NAQT on this board announcing the SCT hosts is at best a minor concern, and that NAQT's production of IS and A level sets has little or no negative impact on the circuit.

I am not promulgating the idea that there is no problem in the relationship between NAQT and the people who go to its tournaments. In fact, I think there are some problems on NAQT's side--I'd like to see them make a habit of posting announcements here, for one thing--but I also think there are some problems on the circuit's side. In particular, I think many of the most vocal circuit members are doing a poor job of articulating their positions to NAQT in a persuasive fashion. Look at the earlier posts in this very thread: there are several that are written in a rather aggressive tone but appear to be off-base, based on subsequent posts.

-Seth

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Post by theMoMA » Sun Dec 30, 2007 2:21 am

I tried to split the issues of communication/responsibility and appropriateness of IS/A-series initially.

Basically, I am in accordance with you on the latter issue. If people want to play IS and A-series because it's fun, I have no problem with it. However, I think that players, especially newer ones, need to be aware that A-series and the like are only stepping stones to the college circuit in that they involve similar gameplay and format. New players need to have on-target expectations of college quizbowl, and IS and A-series do not provide that, which can cause disillusionment with the college game. So new people can and should play these tournaments, but they should also be informed about the circuit and encouraged to write packets and play other tournaments.

As for the first issue, of communication and responsibility to the game, I wish you would have responded to the last paragraph of what I was saying. The problem I see is that NAQT's response to critique makes it clear that it views itself as a business studying the demographics of its customers. It doesn't seem to acknowledge that many of those customers are experts in the field of good quizbowl writing and editing, and its organizational attitude of "email us in the hopes that we'll do something five years down the line" thusly seems misguided.

All I'd like to see is some indication of willingness on NAQT's part to engage in public discussion where we can act as what we are, individuals looking to better the game, who have no need to throw out bureaucratic stonewalls like feedback email accounts and anonymous surveys.

I understand what you're saying, and I should stress that this applies to those on the circuit side as well, in that we should all make a better effort to minimize invective. I think that if NAQT shows some faith in the circuit by being more willing to discuss things frankly, a lot of the invective will wash away as NAQT becomes more integrated with the community in general.

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Post by Matt Weiner » Sun Dec 30, 2007 7:46 am

setht wrote:My impression is that NAQT has done a decent job in receiving and responding to criticism about ICT (perhaps not so much with SCT) on this forum in the past couple years. I pointed out those threads not so much because I believe Andrew in particular hasn't read or thought about them but because I think many of the other people posting in this thread probably hadn't looked at them prior to entering the fray (I didn't look at them before making my first post); more importantly, I think they do answer some of the claims he and others are making, and I wanted to hear from him (or anyone else) on why they think the post-ICT dialog was unsatisfactory.
My main problem with those threads is that Hentzel's and Bruce's posts seem to focus on weird side issues and sidestep the meat of the matter, which is the question content. Why was Hentzel apologizing for the room reservations mixup, or Bruce for the unbalanced prelim bracketing? Everyone understands that those things are nearly impossible to plan for.

This is what being part of the community teaches you: that when one person decides NAQT should psychically divine which schools are changing their lineups from Sectionals in order to arrange the prelim brackets, or one person decides R. Hentzel controls the weather and should have stopped it from raining when we had to move buildings due to a problem that was in no way NAQT's fault, you can ignore that person. He's griping only for himself, about a stupid non-issue. When another person says "I don't want trash tossups on Best Buy counted as 'current events' in a national championship," there are a lot of people who agree with him, and his argument is based on something a lot more rational than wanting NAQT members to have superpowers. You or I know the difference between the two types of complaint; people who view quizbowl as a customer base to be "networked" or "marketed" on three days out of the year, and have never really understood the difference between good and bad questions even when they were active players years ago, cannot figure this out. As a result of this, we get a lot of NAQT "interaction" regarding unimportant things. We get warnings that the distribution and the clock are not negotiable and anyone who questions either one of them will be ignored, then months later we get surveys about the distribution and the clock. We get "surveys" where you can choose between "NAQT is awesome and should go back to including spelling questions and math problems and maybe some banana-cream-pie-based physical challenges!" and "I am a grinch who hates fun and I want all tossups to be 28 lines long and about the lesser works of Ashley Montagu!" Surveys which basically seem designed to flick off mainstream quizbowl by showing what ridiculously insulting false dichotomies NAQT can serve up and then turn around and cite forever as justification, without any financial consequences.

We get a great volume of that sort of interaction after each ICT now. What we don't get is any real explanation of why questions like last year's Potemkin tossup still exist, or why there are tossups on French trains, or why Matt Bruce is allowed to write asinine wordplay questions explicitly noted as being designed to piss off good players. Hentzel will talk forever about stuff no one cares about, but no one will talk about that, outside of the fundamentally dishonest "write it yourself" point.

And if you criticize NAQT too much, then by golly you're one of those unplacatable fanatics (probably the curiously common type of frothing anti-NAQT fanatic who has spent thousands of dollars on NAQT and tells high school teams to attend the HSNCT every year) and we'll just stop responding to your emails at all.
I am further promulgating the opinions that the absence of a post from NAQT on this board announcing the SCT hosts is at best a minor concern, and that NAQT's production of IS and A level sets has little or no negative impact on the circuit.
Immature nose-thumbing such as the refusal to use this board to communicate about quizbowl is symptomatic of the larger attitudinal problem with NAQT. In general, the idea that NAQT is going to teach us all a lesson by not responding to people who are angry seems surreal and paternalistic. NAQT is not in charge of my table manners; they are in charge of accepting approximately $400 of my quizbowl team's money annually. I have purchased the privilege of conversing with them, and did not request their services as a scolding parent.

The use of high school questions for collegiate tournaments has an immense negative impact, because it rules out the participation in collegiate tournaments by dozens of schools. It should be axiomatically true that collegiate quizbowl can and should attempt to recruit more teams and more players, as well as to promote a rise in the skill level of all players and writers, in order to ensure the continued viability of this activity. Schools whose "quizbowl team" only attends high school tournaments are just like schools whose "quizbowl team" only attends trash tournaments. They are illegitimately squatting on the "quizbowl team" space at that school, and people who want to play actual collegiate quizbowl have no outlet--even if they are not actively turned away, they are still finding that there is neither a collegiate quizbowl team at their school, nor the opportunity to start one. The evidence that this is happening has already been posted in the thread. By not only facilitating but aggressively promoting this sort of behavior, NAQT is doing immense damage to the collegiate quizbowl circuit.
I also think there are some problems on the circuit's side. In particular, I think many of the most vocal circuit members are doing a poor job of articulating their positions to NAQT in a persuasive fashion. Look at the earlier posts in this very thread: there are several that are written in a rather aggressive tone but appear to be off-base, based on subsequent posts.
There are a lot of issues involved here, that's the nature of discussion when a topic such as NAQT with all its facets is brought up. As a customer, I don't think "multiple people having multiple areas of concern and making multiple points about them is hard to understand without some modicum of effort, so let's not bother" is an acceptable business practice from NAQT.

Personally, my number one issue right now is the foisting of high school questions (and JV HIGH SCHOOL QUESTIONS! FOR GOD'S SAKE!) onto collegiate teams. I want to know when NAQT plans to stop doing this. The SCT/ICT thing, I'm sure, will come up again after those tournaments, but if I could choose one thing to get a straight answer on right now it's the whole deal with the existence, scheduling, and strategy of tournaments for colleges that use high school questions.

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Post by No Rules Westbrook » Sun Dec 30, 2007 3:16 pm

Seriously, Seth, where in any of those topics or elsewhere are you getting real answers to any of the substantive/important questions you must want answered by NAQT? Like a defense of the distribution, a defense of the constant parade of gimmicky questions, or in this particular case, a defense of foisting hideous A-sets on collegiate qb. Allow me to quote myself in two of the topics you referred to:
Excuse me while I yawn...Those are some touching apologies; it's a shame that they don't mention anything that really matters. The way the tournament was run, moderators with cell phones, logistics, cost, allocation of that cost, protest procedures...all very secondary concerns that make for a pretty easy mea culpa. Almost easy enough that people might forget about a particularly vital cog in this great game we play...questions! Can we see that no matter how these quasi-issues are resolved, we're still playing on the same defective questions (for reasons that people above and elsewhere have cited). We're still left with 2 percent philosophy, the Damoclean possibility of computation and wordplay questions, and a host of other things. And players are still left with the question - is this product worth my time, interest, and money?

In other words, the question that an individual player like Jerry asks - why should I pay this amount of money to go to this supposedly national championship tournament to play on these questions (and, for that matter, why should anyone)? This is the question that the survey comes nowhere close to addressing.

At what point are you or others willing to finally say "this is a bad quizbowl product, there are far better ones out there, let's not sponsor it until it changes...especially not at an exorbitant price?" Just how little communication and quality does NAQT need to give before people draw the line? Or will the answer always be that we should struggle because it is the existing "second legitimate national tournament," whatever that means and whyever I'm supposed to care about that? Or is it that everything could work if we all just had better manners? I'm not asking these questions in a hostile tone, just a curious one.


And, while I'm collecting statements from shining quizbowl personalities, here's a repository of lovely quotations from this very thread:
I mean, they care in a sort of minimal way, because if you piss off too many good teams, they won't attend and then ICT wouldn't have nearly the same cachet, but they don't care all that much because what are you going to do, not come to ICT? Yeah, right!
As for the argument about using A-levels and IS sets to run college tournaments, I just looked at a sample A-level set on the NAQT website. It's terrible! Almost every question breaks at least one or two rules of good question writing; there is no way to come away from playing this set and have a correct understanding of what decent questions should look like.
We should all be speaking on the same level, and I think NAQT needs to realize that this means engaging in honest, good-faith discussions that don't carry the implication that one party is simply a market demographic to be studied.
people who view quizbowl as a customer base to be "networked" or "marketed" on three days out of the year, and have never really understood the difference between good and bad questions even when they were active players years ago
NAQT is not in charge of my table manners; they are in charge of accepting approximately $400 of my quizbowl team's money annually.

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Post by setht » Sun Dec 30, 2007 4:00 pm

Matt Weiner wrote:My main problem with those threads is that Hentzel's and Bruce's posts seem to focus on weird side issues and sidestep the meat of the matter, which is the question content. Why was Hentzel apologizing for the room reservations mixup, or Bruce for the unbalanced prelim bracketing? Everyone understands that those things are nearly impossible to plan for.
Okay, that's an interesting point--we need to make sure that NAQT realizes we're not going to jump down their throats about things like the room reservations or bracketing, and keep the discussion focused on question content. I think various other NAQT members (e.g., Steve Watchorn and Andrew Yaphe) did focus on the comments on question content/quality. I found their responses largely satisfactory, so it doesn't bug me all that much that some other members posted about other things. Of course, I didn't really have a big problem with the 2007 ICT question content/quality in the first place, so it didn't take much to placate me in the way of responses from NAQT.
Matt Weiner wrote:When another person says "I don't want trash tossups on Best Buy counted as 'current events' in a national championship," there are a lot of people who agree with him, and his argument is based on something a lot more rational than wanting NAQT members to have superpowers. You or I know the difference between the two types of complaint; people who view quizbowl as a customer base to be "networked" or "marketed" on three days out of the year, and have never really understood the difference between good and bad questions even when they were active players years ago, cannot figure this out. As a result of this, we get a lot of NAQT "interaction" regarding unimportant things. We get warnings that the distribution and the clock are not negotiable and anyone who questions either one of them will be ignored, then months later we get surveys about the distribution and the clock. We get "surveys" where you can choose between "NAQT is awesome and should go back to including spelling questions and math problems and maybe some banana-cream-pie-based physical challenges!" and "I am a grinch who hates fun and I want all tossups to be 28 lines long and about the lesser works of Ashley Montagu!" Surveys which basically seem designed to flick off mainstream quizbowl by showing what ridiculously insulting false dichotomies NAQT can serve up and then turn around and cite forever as justification, without any financial consequences.
I'm pretty sure there were multiple responses from NAQT members about the Best Buy tossup; I'm not saying the responses were clearly satisfactory--in fact, I'd be interested in hearing whether people felt the responses in the 2007 ICT discussion thread were not satisfactory, and if so why they were unsatisfactory--but I think it's important to note that NAQT members did engage in some amount of dialog on that momentous topic along with the "'interaction' regarding unimportant things" you're excoriating.

Moving on to the survey, I agree that it wasn't written the way I would have written it, and I agree that it didn't address every issue I wanted to see addressed. Despite all that, I think it was a step in the right direction: NAQT made the right decision to reveal its distribution, it made the right decision to reveal the results, and it made the right decision to make some changes to the distribution based on the results. I said before that I hope NAQT will continue to survey the ICT field periodically and institute changes based on the responses; I also hope the survey itself will be updated as NAQT gets a better idea of which issues are most important to the community at large. Now, it seems to me (based on the final sentence in that paragraph) that you are arguing that NAQT acted in bad faith when it decided to run the survey, that NAQT's goal was in fact to "flick off mainstream quizbowl." I disagree strongly. What do other people think?
Matt Weiner wrote:We get a great volume of that sort of interaction after each ICT now. What we don't get is any real explanation of why questions like last year's Potemkin tossup still exist, or why there are tossups on French trains, or why Matt Bruce is allowed to write asinine wordplay questions explicitly noted as being designed to piss off good players. Hentzel will talk forever about stuff no one cares about, but no one will talk about that, outside of the fundamentally dishonest "write it yourself" point.
Here are some things I took away from the 2007 ICT discussion: no one tried to defend the Battleship Potemkin tossup. I don't think Andrew Y specifically identified it as one of the clunkers that made it into the set, but he did agree that the set had some clunkers and I'm pretty sure that one made his list. Andrew also went on to say that he felt there were some clunkers in the ACF Nats set, and that the percentages of clunkers in the two sets were comparable. Finally, he mentioned something that every experienced editor knows: there are always some clunkers left. This doesn't excuse them, and it's absolutely fine to point out some clunkers to help writers and editors in avoiding similar clunkers in the future, but it seems strange to keep harping on the same small number of clunkers--we didn't do that for ACF Nationals 2007, but supposedly it had a similar share of clunkers. Why are we doing it for ICT 2007? In a later post in that very thread, Matt concedes that ICT 2007 had a relatively low number of out-and-out clunkers, and that the percentage of clunkers in the set was roughly comparable to that of the ACF Nationals set. He then complains about a large percentage of acceptable but not very good questions, and states that these questions seemed to reflect a "problematic philosophical approach." I didn't notice a large percentage of such questions, but this seems like it might be worth discussing. Matt's current complaint about the Potemkin question doesn't seem worthwhile to me: it's a clunker, and it's a shame it made it into the set, but there were also plenty of clunkers in, say, ACF Regionals 2007. I've apologized before for the ones I generated and the ones I let in that were in my categories; if someone wants to come along and ask me how I could have possibly let those questions in, there's not much more I can do.

Finally, in the 2007 ICT discussion thread I said that I felt word-play questions were at an all-time low, which I liked. I don't remember whether they were completely absent or if one or two made it in, but I'm surprised to hear Matt railing about such questions. Was I wrong in believing that there were few, if any, word-play questions?
Matt Weiner wrote:Immature nose-thumbing such as the refusal to use this board to communicate about quizbowl is symptomatic of the larger attitudinal problem with NAQT. In general, the idea that NAQT is going to teach us all a lesson by not responding to people who are angry seems surreal and paternalistic. NAQT is not in charge of my table manners; they are in charge of accepting approximately $400 of my quizbowl team's money annually. I have purchased the privilege of conversing with them, and did not request their services as a scolding parent.
I assume you're taking the SCT announcement thing as evidence that NAQT refuses to use this board to communicate about quizbowl, despite the fact that NAQT used this board to communicate about quizbowl several months ago in the wake of ICT (and had no good reason that I can think of to use this board between then and the SCT announcements). I don't believe that NAQT refuses to use this board to communicate about quizbowl. Now, where did this "idea that NAQT is going to teach us all a lesson..." come from? If you got that from an NAQT member, that's interesting and you should share that with us; if you've somehow generated that from my posts, that's ridiculous; and if you've decided that on your own due to frustration over a lack of responses, that's somewhat understandable but I think you're overreacting.
Matt Weiner wrote:The use of high school questions for collegiate tournaments has an immense negative impact, because it rules out the participation in collegiate tournaments by dozens of schools. It should be axiomatically true that collegiate quizbowl can and should attempt to recruit more teams and more players, as well as to promote a rise in the skill level of all players and writers, in order to ensure the continued viability of this activity. Schools whose "quizbowl team" only attends high school tournaments are just like schools whose "quizbowl team" only attends trash tournaments. They are illegitimately squatting on the "quizbowl team" space at that school, and people who want to play actual collegiate quizbowl have no outlet--even if they are not actively turned away, they are still finding that there is neither a collegiate quizbowl team at their school, nor the opportunity to start one. The evidence that this is happening has already been posted in the thread. By not only facilitating but aggressively promoting this sort of behavior, NAQT is doing immense damage to the collegiate quizbowl circuit.

Personally, my number one issue right now is the foisting of high school questions (and JV HIGH SCHOOL QUESTIONS! FOR GOD'S SAKE!) onto collegiate teams. I want to know when NAQT plans to stop doing this. The SCT/ICT thing, I'm sure, will come up again after those tournaments, but if I could choose one thing to get a straight answer on right now it's the whole deal with the existence, scheduling, and strategy of tournaments for colleges that use high school questions.
Okay, I'm glad you've spelled out your primary concern and some of the reasoning behind it. I'm currently not convinced by your arguments on this issue; I'm pretty much completely in agreement with Andrew Hart's latest post on this stuff.

Moving up to Andrew's post:
theMoMa wrote:As for the first issue, of communication and responsibility to the game, I wish you would have responded to the last paragraph of what I was saying. The problem I see is that NAQT's response to critique makes it clear that it views itself as a business studying the demographics of its customers. It doesn't seem to acknowledge that many of those customers are experts in the field of good quizbowl writing and editing, and its organizational attitude of "email us in the hopes that we'll do something five years down the line" thusly seems misguided.

All I'd like to see is some indication of willingness on NAQT's part to engage in public discussion where we can act as what we are, individuals looking to better the game, who have no need to throw out bureaucratic stonewalls like feedback email accounts and anonymous surveys.
Here's my take on this stuff: in the 2007 post-ICT discussion thread, several NAQT members/writers/editors joined in. I think they did engage us in a public discussion as individuals looking to better the game; I don't believe any of them fobbed us off with surveys or email addresses that they planned on ignoring, and it felt to me like they were engaging us with respect, not as a pack of shrieking jackasses that can be safely ignored because we'll continue to line their pockets no matter what they do. When I look at a post written by Steve Watchorn in which he apologizes for putting a spin-2 clue at the front of a graviton tossup after having that pointed out as sub-optimal ordering by Jerry and Matt K, that seems to fit your request. Is that the kind of thing you have in mind, or do you mean something else?

Now, let's suppose a large group of "experts on good quizbowl" all make similar comments (e.g., "That Battleship Potemkin tossup had a lead-in that was too easy"). I think it's fine for NAQT to act on that; I also think it's fine for NAQT to decide that it wants some more confirmation and solicit information by talking individually with more people or setting up a survey. I don't think NAQT, or ACF, or anyone, should jump just because any single "expert on good quizbowl" makes some angry posts (or some calm, rational posts). Would you consider Ryan Westbrook an "expert on good quizbowl"? I think I would, but I certainly don't want NAQT and ACF to implement every one of his notions. I have similarly disagreed with lots of other "experts on good quizbowl" in the past--for instance, I disagreed with Andrew Yaphe on the desirability of reintroducing science history for ACF Nationals 2005. I'm sure this is true of every other "expert on good quizbowl": that we don't agree in every particular with every other "expert on good quizbowl." So, aside from engaging in the kind of discussion that we had following the 2007 ICT, it's not clear to me what NAQT should do differently to show its respect for the "experts on good quizbowl." If you have any suggestions, I'd be interested in hearing them.

I'll try to get through Ryan's last post and then I think that'll be it for me.
Ryan Westbrook wrote:As a brief digression, I was thinking the other night about what really strikes me as a positive recent development in the game. Players who are very young, in high school or just into college, are connecting with the high-level qb circuit, reading packets, and getting to know what Weiner calls the "small group of dedicated good-quizbowl creators" (a fine phrase, btw). In short, they're getting to know from the very start what this game should be all about, playing and learning and reading and writing good stuff. Not winning useless titles and trophies, not devising a strategy on how to succeed at CBI or NAQT, not being fascinated with the concept of having a buzzer in your hand that goes beep. And, despite the ever-expanding canon, they can do this because there are more packets available (hopefully infinitely, when/if that damned archive ever gets up) and there are all sorts of introductory events like EFT, Penn Bowl, ACF Fall, etc. which are real stepping stones.

This board is a big part of that "connection" with good quizbowl. Like I said before, it's the hub of everything that's happening that's worth knowing. As someone said recently, even just following the eruptions of Mount Vinokurov on this board will teach you something about good quizbowl (and, as a bonus, allow you to become acquainted with the bombastic prose and personality of one of the community's most colorful denizens). Looking back, I wish someone would have told me to come to this board (and the chatroom) when I was younger, I think it would have helped to accelerate my attachment to the game.
I agree that having younger players checking out the college game has been a positive development. What worries me is that I think some of them are also picking up some bad habits from the grizzled veterans on this board: a propensity to start out with vicious posts that don't articulate their views clearly, the misconception that ACF and NAQT are rivals, the paranoid delusion that ACF is under attack and only the guardians of good quizbowl can save it (I guess this might actually be true, but I just don't see it), and possibly some other stuff that's not occurring to me right now. I think all of the grizzled veterans on this board are pretty much in agreement on issues of question-writing theory, the basics of distributions, and the value of learning stuff, but I'm not sure there's much else we all agree on (feel free to correct me if I missed anything obvious). I think we also all like ACF as a natural outgrowth of that previous stuff. After that, as demonstrated clearly in this thread, we often disagree about all sorts of things, and all the young people should feel free to disagree with us about this stuff, too (I guess you should feel free to disagree with us about question-writing theory, but unless you can back up your ideas with some solid arguments you won't really get anywhere).
Ryan Westbrook wrote:Sorry, all told, I don't think there's anything left for NAQT to give the game. NAQT is a business which has proven over and over again that it is interested in nothing but delivering an overpriced, unresponsive, and subpar product which embodies the spirit of bad quizbowl. Let's not legitimize it by pretending they're merely adhering to some "philosophy" that we may or may not agree with. (Note - I refreshed this and can now read Seth's second post - I should note that I am certainly buying Jerry's assumption that NAQT loses money on SCT/ICT so that it can proudly proclaim that it has what Seth calls a "legitimate national tournament." And then, with people satisfied that it has that, it can set about making money elsewhere.)
Well, I disagree with you on every point here. How do you reconcile your characterization of NAQT with their hiring Subash and Andrew to oversee the last 3 years' SCT/ICT sets?
Ryan Westbrook wrote:Also, on another issue as to which I'm sure different people will just have to disagree - returning to this idea of insisting on "reasoned dialog" seems like a cop-out to me. I suppose some people like myself, short of becoming a frail and senile old man, will just never appreciate the power of civility, tact, and good manners. Meh, dialog is dialog, stop hiding behind some sanctimonious desire to take the high ground or behind some silly idea of not speaking for or sullying the name of a corporation. Whatever, put your position out there and defend it, so that we can all evaluate it. I'm not really commenting here on whether NAQT has or has not satisfactorily communicated on various issues; I'm just pooh-poohing this constant focus on how some people on this board can sometimes be a bit over-the-top.
Ryan, you ignorant slut! The main point of advocating reasoned dialog is that it will help us get our points across to NAQT and cut down on useless posts. When we have a discussion with NAQT's members, we don't post in pig Latin or cuneiform because we want them to understand what we're saying. Why post a rant that most people find unintelligible when you could communicate effectively? Why post an outrageous claim that some research will easily show is unfounded? Obviously the most important thing is to "put your position out there and defend it." I think the main argument in favor of politeness is that increases the efficacy of constructive criticism. I don't mind that some people on this board are sometimes a bit over-the-top. I do mind that people on this board make posts in discussion threads that are mostly or entirely content-free, make baseless claims that they should know are baseless, etc. It's not the end of the world when it happens, but it is annoying and I think it hinders real communication.

And, I see Ryan has written a post while I was finishing this up.
Ryan Westbrook wrote:Seriously, Seth, where in any of those topics or elsewhere are you getting real answers to any of the substantive/important questions you must want answered by NAQT? Like a defense of the distribution, a defense of the constant parade of gimmicky questions, or in this particular case, a defense of foisting hideous A-sets on collegiate qb.
Let me try to clarify some things. I was satisfied with the quality of the 2007 ICT set. I'm afraid I don't remember for certain, but I believe I was also satisfied with the 2005 and 2006 sets when I played them. Two of the things I particularly liked about the 2007 ICT set were that I felt the distribution was acceptable and I felt there were few if any gimmicky questions. Now, if I'm wrong about those things--if there was actually only 1% philosophy and 33% consumer electronics, or if there were actually 15 gimmicky tossups and 30 word-play bonuses--let me know. I don't have access to the question set, so I can't check, and I don't fully trust my memory on this. Assuming I'm not way off base, then I can say that the distribution and gimmicky questions are not currently major concerns for me. Finally, as I've said above, the A-sets are not a major concern for me.

The things I saw in those discussion threads that I did find reassuring were the reactions to pointing out some of the clunkers: no one tried to say that the Battleship Potemkin tossup was actually great, the writer of the graviton tossup apologized and promised to be more careful about placing the spin-2 clue next time, etc. This seems similar to the type of editorial response I like to see after an ACF tournament--people point out some not-so-hot questions, and the writers/editors take note and apologize.
Ryan Westbrook wrote:At what point are you or others willing to finally say "this is a bad quizbowl product, there are far better ones out there, let's not sponsor it until it changes...especially not at an exorbitant price?" Just how little communication and quality does NAQT need to give before people draw the line? Or will the answer always be that we should struggle because it is the existing "second legitimate national tournament," whatever that means and whyever I'm supposed to care about that? Or is it that everything could work if we all just had better manners? I'm not asking these questions in a hostile tone, just a curious one.
As I said above, the 2007 ICT seemed like good quizbowl to me--not as good as ACF Nationals, but I think I liked it more than most or all of the circuit events I went to that year. In particular, I thought it was good enough to be a legitimate national tournament. If the quality plummets this year, I will certainly want to see signs that NAQT is working to assure the quality of the 2009 ICT, but I probably wouldn't abandon the franchise after one bad year, especially when I'm of the impression that it's been pretty good the past three years (and improving from year to year). For a somewhat analogous situation, look at Illinois Open: in my opinion, the 2004 edition was excellent, the 2005 edition wasn't as good, the 2006 edition was worse, and the 2007 edition was good--maybe not as good as the 2004 edition, but certainly worth attending. Does it seem to you like I should have started boycotting Illinois Open somewhere along the line?

-Seth

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Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Sun Dec 30, 2007 6:47 pm

Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems that this is the model being presented by Matt Weiner:

There are "good" quizbowl players, defined as those who enjoy ACF, mACF, and that related conception of quizbowl aesthetics. There are "bad" quizbowl players who prefer easy tournaments where they can rack up high PPG and lots of trophies and do not care about self-improvement. When "bad" quizbowl players capture a program, they block it from attending "good" quizbowl events, thus disadvantaging "good" quizbowl players at that school. Because IS and A-level tournaments provide a service for "bad" players, they keep them in quizbowl.

Presumably, it follows that if "bad" quizbowl tournaments were eliminated, one of two things would happen: either

(a) "bad" quizbowl players, no longer able to achieve their goals of winning without self-improvement, would leave the quizbowl world, allowing "good" quizbowl players to take over the captured teams;
(b) "bad" quizbowl players, being able to only attend "good" quizbowl events, would convert into "good" quizbowl players

As such, it is proposed that "bad" quizbowl tournaments be eliminated. The proposed mechanism for this is either harassing "bad" quizbowl tournaments out of existence by complaining about them on the internet or by a boycott of ICT/SCT, or some other similar method.

Now, I pass no judgment on the arguments above. I have opinions on them, sure, but I am not expressing them for the purpose of this post. Instead, I will assume arguendo that the two ultimate goals outlined above (driving out "bad" players, or forcibly converting them) are good. And then I will argue that neither internet harassment nor boycotting SCT/ICT are the the solution.

The case as to why internet harassment will not work has been stated both in this thread by Seth Teitler and in the IRC chat by Jonathan Magin. I won't go through it, since they can articulate it much better than can I. As for boycotting SCT/ICT, I simply argue that I doubt that the legitimacy of SCT/ICT is what drives people to buy IS sets. I think people would continue to buy IS sets if SCT/ICT disappeared. What competitors are there exactly? I don't see what they would abandon it for.

Rather, what seems more cost-efficient to me would be for more "good" teams to attend "bad" tournaments. Send Jerry, Seth Teitler, Ryan Westbrook, and other top players to these tournaments. They will easily dominate the field. This will cause one of two outcomes:

(a) "bad" players, denied their easy victories, will flee quizbowl altogether
(b) "bad" players will essentially be forced to play harder tournaments (using my theory that difficulty can be determined by quality of field as much as by question content) by virtue of the fact that the IS and A-level tournaments will become harder, and thus will be forcibly converted into "good" players

These are exactly in line with what it seems Weiner and friends are trying to accomplish, and would probably work much more quickly than an SCT/ICT boycott or internet yelling. I'm not saying we should actually do this, or that it would be a good way to spend our resources; I'm just saying that if you're committed to destroying "bad" quizbowl, this is probably the most cost-effective way to do it, and therefore you should be signing up for CUT rather than attacking it.

I would like to conclude with a touching story about how contact with good players may lead to option (b) above. At SCT 2006, I played on a team with Seth Teitler. In one game, we crushed a new, inexperienced team. Afterwards, a player on that team came up to Seth Teitler and asked him how he could one day be as good as Seth Teitler. Seth Teitler pointed him towards the Stanford archive. I don't know what became of that player, but it's at least theoretically possible that he then went on to read the Stanford archive and is now a "good" quizbowl player, and its likely he would not have had the chance to be converted if he had not run into Seth Teitler by virtue of Teitler being at SCT.
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Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Sun Dec 30, 2007 6:53 pm

Now, the first challenge to my post above will probably be on the following ground: just making IS and A-level tournaments harder by making the competition tougher will not turn them into "good" tournaments, because they will still suffer from terrible writing, abnormal distribution, unorthodox subject matter, etc. That is, they are inherently unsuitable for turning people into "good" quizbowl players.

First, I will note that this doesn't knock down the first mechanism of simply driving "bad" players away. Second, I will note that for those that stay, making the field tougher will create an incentive for improvement. And once people start to improve themselves two things will happen. First, they presumably find out that reading old packets is a way of getting better, and will read ACF Fall, Penn Bowl, Manu, etc. and absorb those norms. Second, as they gain knowledge, they will selfishly seek to promote quizbowl that rewards those with knowledge, which means they will become pro-pyramidicity.

So I think it still works in light of the "NAQT is inherently flawed quizbowl" argument.
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Post by cornfused » Sun Dec 30, 2007 7:37 pm

Damn. I just wrote a well-thought out reply, then accidentally deleted it.

The gist of my argument: I disagree with the assumption that Jerry, Seth et al could easily dominate an A-set tournament. What makes A-sets so bad is that (among other things) they minimize or even eliminate the advantage held by the more skilled team.

On A-sets, St. Olaf or Grinnell has a nonzero chance of beating Brown or Chicago. On legit questions, they'd need divine intervention to win. Forgive me for implying that this could happen, but I'm not convinced that the aforementioned QB monsters have buzzer speed as their #1 priority... or that they have a mastery of puns, Canadians, and current events.

And even if they DO lose (as they should:)

By sending "good" teams to "bad" tournaments, wouldn't we just convince the "bad" teams to get better at the skills needed to win said bad tournaments? Wouldn't we run the risk of legitimizing those tourneys?

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Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Sun Dec 30, 2007 7:38 pm

OK, as someone who has played on an IS set this year and helped staff a sort-of tournament using an A-set in the last month I'd like to weigh in -
I know Jerry disliked the A-set sample, but they have actually improved as of late. The one we hosted on was very appropriate for people who have never had much exposure to any kind of pyramidal questions before, or who are new to the game. I actually think that, for their desired purposes, A-sets this season are very good. However, their purpose is to provide an entry into good quizbowl for young high schoolers. They are not any kind of adequate preparation for the college game. Using these at a college tournament would be highly inappropriate because they are short and rife with buzzer racing to teams who vaguely know anything. I think the maximum A-set length for a tossup is 3 lines, and I've seen some that are a grand total of 1 sentence long, and are fairly transparent - in practice our team powered like 12 of the tossups, and we stopped at 16 (and thats not bragging, they were just that easy). You can't have these kinds of tournaments in college and really argue that its a stepping stone because it will create false impressions about transparency/lateral thinking, distribution, powers (They are ungodly easy), and structure of bonus (lots of simple 30s, and just in general things that wouldn't be appropriate for a college tournament at any level). The only reason I could maybe find acceptable use of A-sets at that level is to have new players read to learn some stuff with the knowledge that they are for entry level High School tournaments.
As for IS sets, they are very imbalanced this season from my impressions. IS 68 had a lot of games where I wasn't too bothered with the questions, but they had a few games with lots of stock clues in the leadins, gimmicky answers, transparent stuff, varying bonus difficulty, ridiculous distribution, and things that in general would not fly for a good college tournament. I then heard a critique of IS-70 with specific examples of questions, and the sheer volume of horrible answer selection and poor writing that I saw there was astounding. My concern about IS sets is that they have these notable imbalances, and are in general not that great for college tournaments. I know I and others have expressed interest in NAQT producing a higher level set that is somewhere in between IS and SCT, and it sounds like their Fall tournament used to do this. If they were to do something like this I think a number of these problems would be assuaged.
The other problem Matt touched on is that programs drifted into an NAQT circuit. This seems rampant in the midwest, where programs like Rolla, Truman State, Wash U, K State, and various places in Minnesota spent years doing exclusively NAQT and CBI tournaments, only hosting NAQT events, and generally avoiding ACF-style events. As an example, I remember last year when Matt Chadbourne (who was a junior) said that Sword Bowl was the first tournament he went to not using NAQT questions - and this is a guy who had played 2.5 years pretty actively. Fortunately some of these programs are gaining shifts in direction from new leadership and such, but for a while there was a very insular NAQT circuit using high school questions here, and there is still really far to go before these programs all become a part of the mainstream circuit again. Contrary to what Seth may think, I don't despise NAQT all the time, but some of the stuff they have done seems to have been detrimental to the growth of good quizbowl for colleges. As for high school, they are still a lot more useful then most other people, and have helped out a lot I think, and I enjoyed playing a recent IS set, so sometimes I think critics of them my age are too harsh (and I fly off the handle at times, we all know). I am not so far gone as to say that they still can't produce an acceptable college set, and I still can hold out in a desire to see NAQT become more interactive in general, but I think some of these practices need to be seriously looked over. Perhaps we can have a separate discussion for all the other problems and focus on the use of IS sets here?
Last edited by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) on Sun Dec 30, 2007 11:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by cornfused » Sun Dec 30, 2007 7:49 pm

Sports analogy: I hate basketball. So, I hire Brian Urlacher, Teddy Bruschi, and Shawne Merriman to play for my local basketball team. Whenever a player on the opposing team goes in for a layup, they deliver a bone-crushing hit that leaves him so shaken he can't hit the free throws and stays out of the lane for the rest of the game.

Would the other team's players switch to football? Or would they practice their free throws and work on their outside shooting so they can score without encountering Brian Urlacher, power forward?

It seems to me that the better approach is to go to the high schools, find the bigger, sturdier basketball players, and convince them that football pays better.

Switching back to real world now: find the talented players at colleges that play "bad" tournaments. Convince them (personally) that "good" tournaments are, in fact, better.

My team is going to play six tourneys this year. ACF Fall, EFT, two NAQT A-set tourneys, SCT, and either the Carleton tournament or Illinois Novice. I'm considering (read: 70-percent-chance) withdrawing my team from Carleton and entering us in down at Illinois - pressure from folks like Hart, Weiner, and Meade is a major factor. What I'm saying is, don't go after the people who run the tournaments. Go after the people who PLAY them.

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Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Sun Dec 30, 2007 8:01 pm

cornfused wrote: Switching back to real world now: find the talented players at colleges that play "bad" tournaments. Convince them (personally) that "good" tournaments are, in fact, better.
In the Weiner model, the "good" players on "bad" teams cannot go to "good" tournaments, because the teams have been captured by "bad" players who use their power of the purse to prevent this.
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Post by cornfused » Sun Dec 30, 2007 8:10 pm

Bruce wrote:In the Weiner model, the "good" players on "bad" teams cannot go to "good" tournaments, because the teams have been captured by "bad" players who use their power of the purse to prevent this.

Possibly a dumb question: and graduation won't solve this problem because...?

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