Charlie, first off, I apologize for overreacting to your post on the Chicago Open thread. You're more than welcome to the pizza, drinks, and cookies there. If you're interested, I'd even go one farther and invite you to either get dinner or a drink the night before Chicago Open, which would give us a much better chance of addressing some of the issues in your above post than I can do here (though I will try as best I can). I think you and I share many of the same goals (if different ways of getting there) and despite all the back and forth on the boards, we barely have exchanged more than two or three sentences over the last two years in person. Let me know if you'd be interested - in any case, one of the things (see Fred's post) that people have said that I agree with is that I need to take better advantage of the help of experienced people in the community. Given all that you've done for quizbowl, I think you could probably have a lot of good advice (for example, if you'd be interested in hearing some of the new ideas I've had for improving NHBB Nationals that I haven't yet posted about, I could run those by you. Or, for another example, I'd be interested in figuring out how NHBB can best serve the Missouri quizbowl community in the year ahead.)
Beyond that, though, I get the general thrust of your post, and think that the point you are driving at (and that Fred and Mike make in a different way) is a perfectly valid one. Moreover, I will readily admit that in some (but not all) ways, I've overreached, and that, RSI, for example, would have been a much better event (and far less of a time commitment on my part, let alone numerous other people's) if we had scrapped the Sunday event, giving me more time to edit the Friday set.
That all said, there are numerous things you mention in your post that are either patently untrue, misleading, or not entirely informed. I have taken some time to respond to your post, not only because I've been busy preparing for ACE camp this week, but also because I wanted the predicted flame war here not to materialize, and to let make sure that whatever comes out of this thread leaves the quizbowl community better off than beforehand. Part of me wondered whether responding at all would be a good idea, but I think an accurate and informed discussion of the different projects I've been involved with in the wider world of quizbowl, is a valid topic for discussion. But for good to come out of this, people need to know what is fact, what is hyperbole, and what is fiction. So here goes.
Horned Screamer wrote:Dave Madden, you live in a fantasy universe. In your fantasy universe, you are the most excellent leader of the quizbowl universe that has ever existed. You are the best editor, you can run the best tournaments, you can be involved in trying to organize literally every circuit everywhere, while also coaching a team, and you have high schoolers and coaches all fawn over you, because you are a Jeopardy champion.
I don't believe this at all. There are lots of people who have over the years done far more for quizbowl than I have, and I have never claimed to be superior to them. I certainly am not the best editor (far from it - nor after RSI do I have interest any more in spending my time editing anything other than helping to make the NHBB sets slightly better). Nor do I think I run the best tournaments, or that I've tried to organize every circuit everywhere. Running NHBB tournaments in many regions is a completely distinct thing from dedicated circuit building, and in nearly all places, my efforts have simply been to encourage NHBB schools to play other good quizbowl tournaments. In a few places, yes, I have tried to do what I can to encourage the growth of circuits beyond NHBB, but this has usually been limited to donating to the state organization, or trying to answer questions from individual teams. Coaching Ridgewood has been part of circuit building in New Jersey, and this has been a very positive development - before I coached Ridgewood, they went to something like 1 tournament a year. This past year, they brought on average 2-4 teams to over 10 tournaments in the Northeast to the benefit of all who run tournaments and compete at them. Anyways, Ridgewood can now largely stand on its own given the enthusiasm of the team, and I'm stepping back a bit there with my impending move to DC. If anyone reading this has "fawned over me" please don't, and certainly don't do that because I was on Jeopardy ages ago. The only times I mention Jeopardy are when I think it might help teams sign up for NHBB (which ultimately benefits other teams) or otherwise be of interest to them (like in the Jeopardy panel at Nationals, which, though well-attended the past two years, we'll be discontinuing to allow more time for more important events on Friday evening). But if people have somehow gotten the wrong impression here, let me go on the record for once and for all for saying that Jeopardy is almost meaningless in the context of quizbowl aside from being a potential benefit to thousands of hours of studying that people put in. I did well on the show more due to luck as much as skill, and have simply tried since then to spend a good chunk of my winnings promoting NHBB and quizbowl and education in general. But this is meaningless in the context of editing, organizing, directing, and all the work that quizbowl depends on a day to day basis. If people got the wrong impression, I apologize, but I don't think your statement here is accurate or believed by people who have gotten to know me over the last two years.
Horned Screamer wrote:Tell a bunch of people to buy their lunch at $3 per slice of pizza because their other lunch options don't really exist? Why of course, people will just pay you gladly, because you are Dave Madden! Write everybody $300 checks? Why not, because you are Dave Madden! Conscript high schoolers to bake you thousands of cookies on an insane timeframe, offer off their houses for strange adults to stay in, and declare that they are going to write an entire tournament in 9 weeks, despite them literally not even having a team the previous year? Well of course they'll do that, Mr. Champ, because you are Dave Madden!
For the record, with tax & tip, the pizza came to over $2.50 a slice, and to avoid the hassle of going out for lunch, I don't think charging the extra $.46 or whatever for pizza is really a big deal, especially since if my modus operandi were price gouging, why am I then spending about hundreds of dollars on Chicago Open lunch? As for the $300 checks, is there something wrong with donating to quizbowl teams? As for the cookies and having people open their houses to out of towners, "conscript" couldn't be farther from it. No one had to do any of this. Many didn't, and I am not one iota mad or disappointed at them. The cookie baking was in fact a fundraiser to help Ridgewood students pay entry fees to tournaments - so those who baked are getting checks for their time that they can use to attend more tournaments. As for writing a tournament, I had been approached by various students who were on the team who were interested in holding a tournament and writing for it. I had told them that a summer tournament was the only way this could work, since I don't have time during the school year. In retrospect, this was way too ambitious, and it is my fault for assuming it could be done. But on the other hand, I think just about everyone knew that a set that Ridgewood was writing for the first time was not going to be equivalent to a standard set. Consequently, we got about 30 people to come, many of whom had a good time. I think the reaction to RSI has been way out of proportion, especially considering that on a per player basis, more time went into this set than many others and that I've been clear that it won't be run this way again.
Horned Screamer wrote:Staff a gigantic national with people you met on Jeopardy forums, and run them Jeopardy festival trivia nights rather than prepare your massive 200 team national tournament that's scattered widely across DC? Well of course the tournament will run great, YOU'RE DAVE MADDEN! Even though you had 0 involvement in quizbowl for an entire decade and it changed drastically over that whole period of time with lots of people putting in extremely hard work to make it to the top and perfect the game, you can just come back into the game and automatically be one of the biggest players in the game, able to go from being the head of New Mexico High School Quizbowl, to judge of the best players in the country, to Chicago Open editor, without doing a single thing to establish your credentials, because of your own pure, inherent talent to spin perfect quizbowl out of whole cloth. You are the top of the game, and your dominance as leader of quizbowl is confirmed by your swarm of high schoolers that love you and play your online tournaments.
First off, I still don't get what's wrong with people playing old quizbowl packets for practice online, and since OSPL featured many of the best players in the country this past year, I don't think your view here is widely shared. For the record, OSPL will be Greg Bossick's gig completely next year - I won't have a thing to do with it, aside from the fact that I pay Greg's salary. And for Greg, it will constitute between 1 and 2% of his time, so it's not like this is going to be a distraction. As for the Jeopardy stuff at Nationals, this has been blown way out of proportion. The number of Jeopardy readers who were problematic was something like 2 or 3, and the overall number of Jeopardy readers was something like 8 or 9. In other words, most people were totally fine, and next year, I've already been making a major push for quizbowl community staff for over a month now. In terms of preparing Nationals, many of the problems we encountered were things we simply didn't foresee - the extra few hours the night before would not have made a major difference in combating them. That said, I've explained a whole slew of ideas in terms of how we're improving our Nationals for next year, and there will be more to come. Running a well-organized National tournament is my #1 priority and I am uprooting myself and my wife to accomplish that. As for my credentials, at this point, seeing as though I've spent on average 80-100 hours a week for the past two years on quizbowl related matters, that's probably enough to at this point count for something. Beyond that, though, even though I was out of the game for a while, at least I have tried, and in many cases, succeeded, at running a whole new set of events that the majority of participants have enjoyed. I am not saying this to excuse everything that needs to get fixed, or that I am the greatest quizbowl leader or whatever. I'm simply saying that on balance, far more good than ill has come from my involvement with quizbowl over the past two years.
As to the point that Fred and Mike make in terms of being wary of turning new teams away, I agree that this is a concern, and one that I will be particularly cognizant of going forward. Most new teams, though, being new, are more inclined to give a newer competition the benefit of the doubt, as long as people see that we are making an effort to learn from our mistakes. One other related point I'll add here is that one of the reasons I have not asked for more help is that at times I have not understood that the help would gladly be there if I asked for it. In some cases, I might not have taken people's advice for certain reasons, and in a few cases, I may have mistakenly overlooked willing offers of people to help. But knowing to ask for help and delegating better are two things I have already been focusing on for next year with regards to NHBB and will continue to do as much as possible in the coming months.
Horned Screamer wrote:You are the most delusional person in the game right now. I thought at first maybe you were a guy who was just ultra-enthusiastic but didn't know what to do to be effective, and needed to just be prodded in the right direction. I was wrong. You literally are so egotistical that you think you can do things like declare yourself the head of New Mexico quizbowl despite not living there, getting your paws into every other circuit that exists, or run a multi-site, multi-day 100+ team tournament without having any experience doing something like that, increase the size of said tournament to 200 teams after the first one is a miserable disaster, force the team you coach to write a tournament without having any experience doing so, and then put in a not very great amount of time on it, and think you can tell people that the tournament doesn't suck. All kinds of things you do are disasters. I was involved in your stupid goddamn national quizbowl awards thing, and if you think giving out a huge cash prize to players based solely on a single week of a few people nominating the players they've seen are good, then taking a poll of people at PACE, to determine that prize is an appropriate amount of work, you're off your rocker. It was a disaster, much like every National History Bowl has been, and much like your Ridgewood set was.
As for New Mexico, if anyone else wants to officially take over some nascent state organization there, fine by me. That said, I'll continue to help the contacts I've made move ahead with their plans as best as I can. As for our Nationals, I don't think anyone else would have been willing to direct it - if people want to help me with ideas for its improvement, I'm all ears, and if people want to come and help staff, even better. As for the National Quizbowl Awards, how do you think the nomination and selection process should happen? I'm open to suggestions here, but I fail completely to see why it was a disaster. And as for "every National History Bowl" - do you mean our regionals? Because that's simply not true by a mile. Do you mean our two Nationals? Some may have had a bad experience, but hundreds of people both times enjoyed themselves. At some level, it takes a bit of experience to get things down, especially with something as complex as that. But we will continue to improve and as I've said, I'm dedicating myself to that as much as possible for the coming year.
Horned Screamer wrote:Fun fact: at the first NHBB, Rock Bridge used their bid to send a group of players from a school history club that was not in any way affiliated with quizbowl. The teacher, a guy named Mr. Priest, was so appalled at the direction that he would actually start ranting in class repeatedly over the course of the last year about what a horrible tournament you ran. THAT'S how bad it was to him. Stories like that don't make it out to the boards, because those sorts of teams aren't involved here, and when you get on and post about how so many teams thought things were peachy and get in these huge arguments defending your indefensible actions, you miss out on seeing the fact that, wow, you really ARE driving customers away who would otherwise be willing to patronize your tournament in the future because of how bad the tournament is.
I have never said things were peachy or that we don't need to improve big time. But, the slant on the boards was out of proportion to the way the median team reacted, and my post to that effect was solely to try and inject a bit of balance to an argument that was not only one-sided, but also was leading people to think that practically nobody enjoyed themselves when that was far from the case.
Horned Screamer wrote:You behave like other people don't exist to you other than as a means to an end. You literally are fine creating this whole Ridgewood tournament, and then doing so little planning on it that it has to come be partially salvaged BY A FOURTEEN YEAR OLD who is still willing to come out and tell people that the set sucks, while you continue chugging on oblivious, acting like your project (which you should have been properly heading up in the first place) was fine and having to get teenagers to do the work for you doesn't mean you're incompetent. This is not the first time you've made some of the world's craziest demands on other people because you have no remote sense of how to plan. Things like trying to make Jon Pinyan record your stupid tallies while he actually had a real job to do at PACE is a perfect example. What the hell are you thinking when you have people do this thankless work for when the whim strikes, as if making your projects coalesce is the most important thing that could fill anybody's day when they might actually have things to do.
First off, I don't see how I've "made demands" on anyone. People in many cases have offered to help, and in some cases, I've asked for help. In other cases, I get excoriated for not asking for help. In terms of the Ridgewood set, it's a dead horse at this point. People have made their points, I've made mine, I've admitted it wasn't "fine" and it should never have happened. As for asking Jon to help with the tallies, he was coordinating buzzers, and I thought he might have been able to help in between when teams were picking up their systems. I didn't at all take it personally that he was thus too busy to help with it, and in fact, I then found other people who were able to help with the tallying (thank you to Paul Nelson and Greg Bossick there). In terms of why I was tallying at all at that point, Matt Weiner had asked me to keep voting open for as much of PACE as possible, which I agreed with. That said, though, it left a tight window for the ballots to be tallied, though in the end, it did get done on time. As mentioned above, if you, or anyone, wants to propose an alternate way of doing the National Quizbowl Awards next year, I'm 100% open to that. NHBB is happy to keep funding it as a service to the community.
Horned Screamer wrote:What's sad about this is that you could be so much more effective than you are. All you would need to do is cut out the billion side projects you think you can haphazardly organize without bothering everybody, and instead focus solely on running History Bowl Nationals as efficiently as possible. If history bowl were streamlined, it could be a very fun tournament that a lot of teams will look forward to, and it could totally do a great job of recruiting new teams, especially because I do agree with you, giving better monetary prizes for good quizbowl would be a very good thing for everybody. Hint: NAQT and PACE both put in extremely large amounts of work, with way more people who are experts being involved in doing all of the logistic work, for far longer than you put in on your history bowl. Without that work, it was the worst boondoggle of the last year in quizbowl.
The side projects are getting delegated out as much as possible. For that matter, I will be having a minimal involvement with the middle school bee in general too. I will post within the next few days and weeks as to who is doing what in NHBB for the coming year, but running high school Nationals is my top priority.
Horned Screamer wrote:So in conclusion: you are a horrible editor. I saw your questions for Ridgewood, they sucked. I also saw your original history bowl regional set, and it was not very good. Your History Bowl nationals sucked both years by all reputable reports, and you are going to drive teams away from quizbowl unless it is fixed. Your national quizbowl awards was the single most worthlessly decided award I've seen in the game, and it's very lucky that they happened to mostly pick decent players who were deserving. You abuse your authority to make people do thankless work, for what reason, I can't fathom. You seem to think when you declare something will happen, it's not an imposition to force other people to do it instead of you. You also need to stop thinking Jeopardy means anything - Jeopardy forum members are horrible staffers of a national, Jeopardy participation also means nothing for your ability to staff, and nobody in quizbowl cares that you were on that stupid show. There is simply no way around that. You have not established your credentials: your biggest quizbowl achievement is running two disastrous nationals, and the only thing you've done effectively is hire a good company to write for a bunch of small tournaments you're involved in that don't require too much prep compared to a national and which seem to have run OK. You are no R. Hentzel. You're no Matt Weiner, either. And yet you have the gall to parade around like you have infinite street cred, and continue doing thing after thing that makes it abundantly clear that no matter how many people tell you you are doing something awfully, you can ignore them because you are apparently always right. And now, you're trying to force your awful (yes, horrendous, again, I saw it) Ridgewood tournament on unsuspecting middle schoolers? I'm sorry it has to be hashed out like this, but somebody needs to finally just tell you: You live in a fantasy universe. Stop it, before you do anything more to hurt quizbowl.
The only thing new here is the middle school set rework, so I'll come right out and say that that won't happen. If we do host a middle school tournament then, it would be on some other set, but that is something I would prefer to talk to Ridgewood's team about first. I have also just found out that the original date that the school gave us to run it doesn't work anymore, so we would need to reschedule it in any case.
Anyways, I get your general point, and would be interested in meeting with you to hear more in the way of any concrete advice you might have regarding NHBB Nationals, Regionals, or the National Quizbowl Awards. But many of the accusations you made simply don't stand up, and just as I have acknowledged my shortcomings here, I hope you and the rest of the quizbowl community now have a better and more accurate understanding of some of the points you had originally raised.