An Apology and an Announcement

Announcements, results, and discussion for all NHBB, IHBB, and History/Geography Olympiad events. DO NOT discuss specific question content of any kind until the sets are announced as clear at the end of the competition year.

An Apology and an Announcement

Postby Irreligion in Bangladesh » Mon Aug 01, 2016 3:38 pm

Over the last few days, I've talked with David about a number of issues brought up in the discussion in the other thread. A number of issues aren't decided yet, but the following notes have been.

I, on behalf of NHBB and with David's blessing, apologize for the threats of legal action related to discussing NHBB matters. I'd like to apologize to Bunnie specifically, as the target of David's e-mail, and to the members of the board broadly for violating board rules. David's actions were far more aggressive than the situation or community standards warranted, and his antagonism in this situation is not reflective of what NHBB should stand for and, going forward, will stand for.

In talking with David, we've agreed about the first step going forward: David will no longer post on or take part in the hsquizbowl.org forums. I am taking over any official NHBB announcement posting that needs to be done here, and will answer community questions here to the best of my ability.

We are also discussing the nature of NHBB contracts. The writer contract I used last year limited any non-disclosure policy to the obvious "don't divulge question information;" future contracts used for other positions will be adjusted similarly to narrowly cover reasonable technical or strategic aspects of the job, and not aim at limiting broad discussion of NHBB.

There's a lot to be done on NHBB's part to create a positive relationship between NHBB and the quizbowl community; I don't think it's a stretch to say that one has never really existed. As someone who watched the college circuit's 2008 discussion with NAQT from afar, I know that there's precedent for repairing a relationship. I look forward to the deeper, continuing challenge of having to create one outright. At the outset, there are few words I can say to affect that, but I pledge my commitment to community standards, an attentive ear, and my voice within NHBB to the effort.

If you have any questions, please feel free to post, PM me on the boards, or e-mail me at brad@historybowl.com.
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Re: An Apology and an Announcement

Postby Adventure Temple Trail » Mon Aug 01, 2016 4:18 pm

Irreligion in Bangladesh wrote:I, on behalf of NHBB and with David's blessing, apologize for the threats of legal action related to discussing NHBB matters. I'd like to apologize to Bunnie specifically, as the target of David's e-mail, and to the members of the board broadly for violating board rules. David's actions were far more aggressive than the situation or community standards warranted, and his antagonism in this situation is not reflective of what NHBB should stand for and, going forward, will stand for.


I am admittedly not Bunnie, but I cannot take this seriously coming from a proxy rather than the responsible party himself. Unless the corporate entity of "NHBB" is indistinguishable from David Madden -- a Louis XIV-esque stance which he and other NHBB employees have consistently rejected on these boards prior to now -- it is not "NHBB", but rather David himself, who must demonstrate that he understands his behavior towards Bunnie was wrong and must pledge that it is never going to happen again. Insofar as the entire community is the addressee of this apology and insofar as I am a member of that community, I reject this apology

I look forward to hearing his genuine apology shortl--

Irreligion in Bangladesh wrote:In talking with David, we've agreed about the first step going forward: David will no longer post on or take part in the hsquizbowl.org forums. I am taking over any official NHBB announcement posting that needs to be done here, and will answer community questions here to the best of my ability.


Oh wow. In other words, David decided to helicopter on out of here and before the board staff could punish him for his actions, pushed the burden of dealing with the community's anger at him on a subordinate to sweeten the deal, and is making it look like a gift to us ever-grateful community members? I wasn't expecting to be earnestly shocked by the lengths to which David Madden will stoop to avoid any genuine responsibility for his actions, but insulating himself while asking his messenger to publicly invite shooting that same messenger really takes unprecedented levels of chutzpah.

Irreligion in Bangladesh wrote:There's a lot to be done on NHBB's part to create a positive relationship between NHBB and the quizbowl community; I don't think it's a stretch to say that one has never really existed. As someone who watched the college circuit's 2008 discussion with NAQT from afar, I know that there's precedent for repairing a relationship. I look forward to the deeper, continuing challenge of having to create one outright. At the outset, there are few words I can say to affect that, but I pledge my commitment to community standards, an attentive ear, and my voice within NHBB to the effort. If you have any questions, please feel free to post, PM me on the boards, or e-mail me at brad@historybowl.com.


I have few suggestions for you at this point beyond "oust Madden from within" or "resign". You're a good person, Brad. I wish you weren't wrapped up in this madness, and I hope you find a way out soon.
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Re: An Apology and an Announcement

Postby Irreligion in Bangladesh » Mon Aug 01, 2016 5:17 pm

Adventure Temple Trail wrote:In other words, David decided to helicopter on out of here and before the board staff could punish him for his actions, pushed the burden of dealing with the community's anger at him on a subordinate to sweeten the deal, and is making it look like a gift to us ever-grateful community members? I wasn't expecting to be earnestly shocked by the lengths to which David Madden will stoop to avoid any genuine responsibility for his actions, but insulating himself while asking his messenger to publicly invite shooting that same messenger really takes unprecedented levels of chutzpah.


I'll clarify here -- I told Madden that he should stop posting on the forums. I did this in part because I thought it was a good idea from an NHBB standpoint - I get no satisfaction witnessing his fits of passion, or those of his opponents - and in part because I agreed that his violation of the HSQB rules could have warranted that action, and found the opportunity apt to make this move finally happen. I'm not claiming to usurp HSQB staff privileges here or anything; the HSQB board staff can obviously still consider punishment options on their end, to potentially codify what I told Madden to do. But let me be clear: this isn't Madden deciding to "helicopter" out of here and push the community anger on to my shoulders. This is me treating one symptom of an issue, as part of a large effort to work on the issue.
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Re: An Apology and an Announcement

Postby MahoningQuizBowler » Mon Aug 01, 2016 5:40 pm

Brad, you may think you're acting in the role of the Hand of the King here...but it's probably closer to the Mouth of Sauron.

You're a family man. Ask Bunnie about what your boss has said about me since I left. Read his post. Ask Bunnie what he has said about my wife. Ask him why he refused to believe that I would choose my stepdaughters over him and his company since, according to him, they aren't even my kids.

I resigned because I felt that was what was best for my family, and I have no regrets about that decision.

I point people who ask me about NHBB to David's post that reads more like the reaction of a scorned lover than a former employer, and they usually decide not to enter the fantasy universe.

For me, there's nothing that you can do to repair MaddeNHBB's relationship with me or the teams that I regularly work with. You can't apologize for what took place in the past, and Matt has spoken to this current state of affairs far better than I could.
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Re: An Apology and an Announcement

Postby thomasgnd » Mon Aug 01, 2016 5:47 pm

Super like, Greg. That is all.
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Re: An Apology and an Announcement

Postby Irreligion in Bangladesh » Mon Aug 01, 2016 5:50 pm

MahoningQuizBowler wrote:You can't apologize for what took place in the past


I agree 100% that I can't apologize for things that came before my time with NHBB; I regret that there are numerous people whose trust has been breached, in cases irrevocably, and in ways I can't articulate. It would obviously make my job easier if there weren't.

What I can say is that I'm working to ensure that the future is better, and that the list of meaningful words I can say in this thread ends right about there. Only actions will prove progress; I have no problem with pessimism until then.
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Re: An Apology and an Announcement

Postby Haaaaaaaarry Whiiiiiiiiiite » Mon Aug 01, 2016 5:58 pm

Irreligion in Bangladesh wrote:What I can say is that I'm working to ensure that the future is better, and that the list of meaningful words I can say in this thread ends right about there. Only actions will prove progress; I have no problem with pessimism until then.


For me, the only action that would restore faith in NHBB is for Dave Madden to no longer be involved in the company whatsoever.
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Re: An Apology and an Announcement

Postby Irreligion in Bangladesh » Mon Aug 01, 2016 6:05 pm

Megachile ambigua wrote:For me, the only action that would restore faith in NHBB is for Dave Madden to no longer be involved in the company whatsoever.


I know there are a number of people who feel this way. For those that don't, if there's anything I can do or that you would suggest, I look forward to hearing from you.
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Re: An Apology and an Announcement

Postby Cody » Mon Aug 01, 2016 6:26 pm

Megachile ambigua wrote:For me, the only action that would restore faith in NHBB is for Dave Madden to no longer be involved in the company whatsoever.
Unlike the problems with NAQT circa 2008, the problems with NHBB can only be solved when Dave Madden is no longer in a leadership position within the company. I don't see any way that most people with gripes could be satisfied with anything less.
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Re: An Apology and an Announcement

Postby Sima Guang Hater » Mon Aug 01, 2016 6:39 pm

I will take a more positive stance than Matt J and say that I think this apology is a step forward. I think you (Brad) are doing your best with a bad situation, and I salute you for it. It does bother me that Dave won't come on here himself and apologize, but I understand why you wouldn't want him to post any more.

The way I see it, NHBB exists and it's not going anywhere; we have to learn how to live together. My primary concern is, and has been, the experience for the students and the quality of the questions. So, onto the rest of this thread...

Irreligion in Bangladesh wrote:
Megachile ambigua wrote:For me, the only action that would restore faith in NHBB is for Dave Madden to no longer be involved in the company whatsoever.


I know there are a number of people who feel this way. For those that don't, if there's anything I can do or that you would suggest, I look forward to hearing from you.


Many people have issues with NHBBs logistics (strange formats, bad moderators like Robin Richards being flown to IHO, etc); I don't know enough about that to comment, so I'll leave it to other people. I can say what I, and several other writers I've talked to, would want from you (Brad) in particular.

-$5 per quality tossup, with no money for spam-questions to dis-incentivize bad volume writing.
->3-4$/question for editing, either a side event or a sub-distribution of a main event. The kind of time Bruce Lou, for example, put into editing his ancient history set was not well-rewarded, and should be. For a college housewrite, that kind of work would earn around 300-400, if not more.
-Solid, achievable deadlines for every single event. All writing for every set should be done two weeks in advance. All editing for every event should be done one week in advance. There should be no writing or editing during actual events.
-Writing enough questions so that absurd formats like three teams playing against each other at once are no longer necessary.
-No more surprises. Every single question played at every single NHBB event must go through you, and only you. The requirements must be 100% clear from the beginning.
-No more question recycling.
-The hiring of as many well-known history writers in quizbowl as possible. This will be difficult now, but NHBB gaining cred by putting out well-researched, well-edited, and well-received events will make this more feasible in the future.

You mentioned the discussions between NAQT and the community in 2008; a hallmark of those discussions was a stringent commitment to question quality that was previously absent from SCT and ICT. I think the quizbowl community would ask the same of you here.
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Re: An Apology and an Announcement

Postby Cheynem » Mon Aug 01, 2016 6:50 pm

I agree with all the points Eric has made.
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Re: An Apology and an Announcement

Postby Victor Prieto » Mon Aug 01, 2016 7:40 pm

Adventure Temple Trail wrote: Insofar as the entire community is the addressee of this apology and insofar as I am a member of that community, I reject this apology

I look forward to hearing his genuine apology shortl--


I'm another member of that community, and honestly, I'm not looking for an apology. In my opinion, David Madden has permanently destroyed his credibility. I can say this truthfully for myself. I don't claim to represent the greater quizbowl community, but from listening to others speak about NHBB, it is my assessment that the vast majority of others share a deep mistrust of him. Even if Madden had posted the apology you asked for in your post in the other thread, I would not have been convinced of his sincerity because of the six years of broken promises that "things are going to change."

I don't question Brad's sincerity, and although I think I understand his motives for staying with NHBB and trying to repair things, I don't believe in them. On the other hand, David Madden's pattern of behavior shows a serious disregard for providing quality academic competition for students. As long as he remains the main person in charge and there's no check on his multiple abuses of authority, there's nothing else that anybody can do, within or without the organization. I concur with Harry and Cody that NHBB will continue to harm academic competition while David Madden can make autonomous decisions.

The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote:NHBB sucks at writing deadlines


Granted, writers working for NHBB have been mistreated, and question quality has suffered as a result. However, this issue is a symptom of the larger problem. Madden has developed a system that puts profit above everything else, which means he's not going to ease up on the pizzazz and cheap side events. As you said, Eric, that system is not going anywhere, so the problems for writers will only get worse as the quotas coming up from on high get more and more insane. Madden's cash machine also has the nasty consequence of alienating lots of potential good quizbowl people, so there's no way NHBB is having a positive effect on cultivating circuits and building awareness and support of quizbowl as a whole.

Of course, all of these things fall under Set 1, which is secondary to the fact that David Madden has demonstrated a severe amount of contempt for his own employees. This can be seen in the unjustifiable amount of work he dishes out, the out-of-line treatment that former employees endured, the absurd language of contracts that NHBB employees signed, and the coercive email Madden sent to a former employee attempting to discuss that contract. I could never work for such a person, and I can't imagine how other people could.
Last edited by Victor Prieto on Tue Aug 02, 2016 3:40 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: An Apology and an Announcement

Postby Everything in the Whole Wide World » Mon Aug 01, 2016 8:08 pm

Victor’s post is absolutely on the money and is the reason why I believe Matt, Cody, and Harry’s positions should be those taken by the quizbowl community at large. The apology issued above and absence of Dave Madden from the forum does zero to solve the structural and ethical problems NHBB and that empire of competitions have displayed over the past six years. No change in the way the company is structured or governed has taken place, no change in its goals realized, and the leadership that has systematically burned bridges with people all over the country remains in place. I would encourage everyone to divorce themselves from this out of control monstrosity so long as the leadership structure remains as it is.
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Re: An Apology and an Announcement

Postby Irreligion in Bangladesh » Mon Aug 01, 2016 8:36 pm

The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote:I will take a more positive stance than Matt J and say that I think this apology is a step forward. I think you (Brad) are doing your best with a bad situation, and I salute you for it. It does bother me that Dave won't come on here himself and apologize, but I understand why you wouldn't want him to post any more.

Eric, thank you for your kind words, and again for your help with IHO. I could ask Dave if he wanted make an apology post; we debated whether this thread should be started by him or me, and I held it made more sense to be started by me. That said, I wouldn't view one last apology post as a bad thing.

The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote:The way I see it, NHBB exists and it's not going anywhere; we have to learn how to live together. My primary concern is, and has been, the experience for the students and the quality of the questions.

I couldn't say it better myself -- though I suppose that I'm in the business of "saying things well myself" now and that may not be something to admit. :) So, your suggestions:

-$5 per quality tossup, with no money for spam-questions to dis-incentivize bad volume writing.
->3-4$/question for editing, either a side event or a sub-distribution of a main event. The kind of time Bruce Lou, for example, put into editing his ancient history set was not well-rewarded, and should be. For a college housewrite, that kind of work would earn around 300-400, if not more.
-Solid, achievable deadlines for every single event. All writing for every set should be done two weeks in advance. All editing for every event should be done one week in advance. There should be no writing or editing during actual events.
-Writing enough questions so that absurd formats like three teams playing against each other at once are no longer necessary.
-No more surprises. Every single question played at every single NHBB event must go through you, and only you. The requirements must be 100% clear from the beginning.
-No more question recycling.

I like this list, and encourage others to add to it in discussion, here or via e-mails/PMs to me. In response...
*Financials for writing and editing are getting hammered out this week; David's spoken positively about increasing writer pay, and I'm looking forward to making the 2016-17 Call for Writers post with specifics in a couple of days.

*I reject bad submitted questions, whether they're "volume written" or not, with as much feedback as time permits; in some cases I can go in-depth explaining the problem, and in no case does a question get rejected with no explanation whatsoever.

*The low number of writers (1) who expressed interest in editing for NHBB 2015-16's regular season work made the question of editing pay this past year nearly moot; I hope this won't be the case in the future. I'll take the blame for the awkward financial arrangements used for editing this year's IHO side events, with some explanation in the digression below.

IHO-related digression begins...
My initial plan was one that prioritized early quality writing, with the writing documents only shared with a small number of writers who had worked well for me in the past. Editors were signed on as writers-first from that small group; they were encouraged to write their own material and to reject poor submissions early, so as to give time for re-writes. The documents went out on May 2nd with an initial deadline of June 19th, such that any questions written before that date would be paid an additional dollar bonus over the normal rate for those writers' questions.
Writers did not, generally, follow through on making the June 19th goal; by the following weekend, when I playtested the finished products, only one side event had been fully completed, and I had solid chunks of four others ready to read.

I don't want to specifically name editors or writers for not making that deadline, but Bruce previously mentioned his Ancient History set, so I'll discuss his case. Bruce worked incredibly hard on that set; I won't disparage his work. But as of the June 19th deadline, he'd written a total of 10 questions, edited four others, and rejected none. The initial instructions given to editors -- "if you want money, write; if a question is bad, reject it, you've got plenty of time to get re-writes going" -- were not followed by Bruce. The June 19th deadline left multiple weeks to finish the 128-tossup side event; it's a lot of work, but by no means impossible, as evidenced by Bruce's completion of the job in those ensuing weeks. But even after the deadline, rejecting poor questions was still an available option; I made no "you're falling behind, better start accepting garbage" demands of Bruce. Indeed, I continued encouraging him in the same way in how to approach the job. It was his decision to not follow my instructions that made his editing experience aggravating; he could have rejected any poor submissions, writing his own work to replace them and collecting the writer money that he laments missing out on. Was my set of instructions at fault here? Yes -- providing incentives to encourage early question writing and discourage heavy editing did not work, and future NHBB work will benefit from the experience I've had here. But I also feel that Bruce's failure to follow directions contributed to the problem; had he promptly rejected poor questions, he could have received improvements from the writer or, failing that, written his own questions to replace them. I cannot answer why he did not do that.
Digression complete.

*The deadlines you suggest are highly agreeable; we had similar deadlines internally this year. My biggest regret about my first year of NHBB writing was missing the NHBB Nationals deadline, and my biggest takeaway from my first year is how much writing for Nats 2017 I'll be doing in first semester. David and I are talking about how we are going to make those deadlines more reasonable, and how to meet them. Victor and others have publicly described an "unjustifiable amount of work [David] dishes out;" writers have privately talked to me about this as well. I know that this is the number one challenge facing me this year; if I can't guarantee that my writers will have reasonable workloads, I'm doomed. No way around that. And, although I know many here will disagree, David is appreciative of that fact in our current talks.

*The question recycling issue isn't something that will affect any quizbowl operations that I oversee, ever, period. I'm thinking of ways to revamp the Table Combined competition for 2018 so as to not require quizbowl questions, thus making it easier for non-quizbowl writers to contribute to that effort. IHO features a number of historical-but-not-quizbowl competitions; I'd argue that Table Combined would work well as one of those.

Finally,

-The hiring of as many well-known history writers in quizbowl as possible. This will be difficult now, but NHBB gaining cred by putting out well-researched, well-edited, and well-received events will make this more feasible in the future.

*This is a crucial point. Experienced writers interested in learning more about writing for NHBB should PM me or e-mail me at brad@historybowl.com. A number of the important details will be settled in the coming days, and I'll post to that effect when they're ready, so feel free to wait, if you like. Training new writers, as was my goal in the beginning of last year, has to take a backseat to making sure we can successfully produce this year's set; looking too far in the future has its detriments.

You mentioned the discussions between NAQT and the community in 2008; a hallmark of those discussions was a stringent commitment to question quality that was previously absent from SCT and ICT. I think the quizbowl community would ask the same of you here.

That's one of the reasons I'm optimistic about NHBB; given a sufficient combination of time and assistance, I can put together a good set of questions. I look forward to this year's work, and to a reflection on this in about 11 months.
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Re: An Apology and an Announcement

Postby Adventure Temple Trail » Mon Aug 01, 2016 9:06 pm

Irreligion in Bangladesh wrote:I could ask Dave if he wanted make an apology post


Uh, what?

(emphasis added)
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Re: An Apology and an Announcement

Postby Cody » Mon Aug 01, 2016 9:30 pm

It's a bit misleading to talk about making deadlines more reasonable in order to recruit writers. Unless Dave is planning to cut events (which everyone knows will never happen), completing just the NHBB events always involves a lot of work and semi-hard-to-meet deadlines. How are you going to make the deadlines better?

(and to Eric: why would the game's top history writers even want to get involved with this morass?)
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Re: An Apology and an Announcement

Postby Sima Guang Hater » Mon Aug 01, 2016 9:31 pm

Cody wrote:(and to Eric: why would the game's top history writers even want to get involved with this morass?)


They wouldn't, until its no longer a morass. Chicken and egg problem.
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Re: An Apology and an Announcement

Postby AZQuizbowl » Mon Aug 01, 2016 9:38 pm

I wanted to step in here for a moment and thank Brad for his attempt to apologize on behalf of NHBB. I have no doubt that the apology from Brad is sincere, and as I've mentioned before I have nothing bad to say about Brad or his work (I, again, have little to no question-writing experience). I will say, however, that this apology is not enough, partially because it comes from someone other than Dave, and also because I don't think it's possible for Dave to ever see that what he did (and a number of other things he has done and currently does) as wrong.

Brad, thank you for doing the work that you do. You are working your butt off for an organization you believe in so that the community and the students can benefit, despite the difficulties that you encounter that are outside of the realm of a "regular" job. I know your heart is in the right place and that you're doing all you can.

I want to remind people, or really rather restate what numerous people above as well as myself have said before:

NHBB is not the problem. NHBB is a fantastic thing, a great way to bring students who want to study history and/or quizbowl together. It has spread internationally and brought students of multiple nationalities together. For all of its quirks (IHO table-tennis still confuses me, etc.), the students with whom I have spoken and many of their parents and teachers maintain that the program has had a positive impact. I have had the opportunity to meet many amazing people, and I know others have as well. However, Dave is a problem. Despite what I truly believe are his best efforts, he is not a good manager, not a good HR person, and really just not a good person. I don't think he chooses not to be, but he still is not a good person.

Dave, you didn't contact me with your concerns about my board posts with anything other than a rude threat. You didn't even have the decency to actually have your attorney contact me, or even let me know that you weren't going to sue until I put you on blast here on the board. You never apologized for the invasive questions or your childish behavior regarding my resignation. You couldn't even manage to send me an email and apologize for this entire [bleep]show. For someone who thought that we were friends, for someone who claimed they valued me as an integral part to their organization, your actions throughout our relationship including up to today have demonstrated the opposite.

I cannot forgive you, Dave. I can only hope one day you choose to put the company into capable hands and retire to somewhere cold with Nolwenn, where you can ski and drink and remember that you created something wonderful for students all over the world, but leave your participation at that.
Bunnie Hadsall
Arizona Quizbowl Association
Future Founder of the Dog Bowl

Walk away, crawl away. Your choice.
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Re: An Apology and an Announcement

Postby AKKOLADE » Mon Aug 01, 2016 11:23 pm

I have more thoughts on this whole situation that I need to process over the next couple of days, but I have to say I think it's very cowardly for Dave to "apologize" by sending someone else to do it for him. It makes me question the sincerity of the apology, especially the part directed to Bunnie. It also leads me to believe that Dave is perfectly happy to embarrass others on his own, but when he's done something wrong, he's unwilling to admit it or take responsibility.
Fred Morlan
PACE Vice President of Outreach, 2017-18
International Quiz Bowl Tournaments, co-owner
University of Kentucky CoP, 2017
hsqbrank manager, PACE member (former President and At Large member of Board), NAQT writer (former subject editor), HSAPQ freelance writer, former hsqb Administrator/Chief Administrator, 2012 NASAT Tournament Director
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Re: An Apology and an Announcement

Postby Adm Akbar says It's a Tarp! » Tue Aug 02, 2016 9:25 am

AKKOLADE wrote:I have more thoughts on this whole situation that I need to process over the next couple of days, but I have to say I think it's very cowardly for Dave to "apologize" by sending someone else to do it for him. It makes me question the sincerity of the apology, especially the part directed to Bunnie. It also leads me to believe that Dave is perfectly happy to embarrass others on his own, but when he's done something wrong, he's unwilling to admit it or take responsibility.


I read the OP as Brad realizing an apology needed to be made and asked David for his ok to make an apology on behalf of NHBB and David gave him the ok to do it. Personally, I don't think David sent Brad to apologize, because I don't think David feels he needs to apologize for anything.

Thank you Brad for recognizing, David went way over the line in handling responses and threats of legal action against former employees. Thank you for your sincerity. The primary objective should be promoting and making history fun for the kids through good quiz bowl. That's what drew me in when David created NHBB. Then I realized the founder's primary objective is to make money and create quiz bowl in his own whacky, distorted image. I hope you have more success than others before you who tried, as well, but ultimately broke because they couldn't change the outrageous demands of David's fantasy universe. I believe you, but nothing you said makes me believe David is sorry.
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-John Timmer, Kent State '10, Jackson-Milton Quizbowl Coach ('08- )
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