The Barbarism of Monetization

Elaborate on the merits of specific tournaments or have general theoretical discussion here.
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Post by grapesmoker » Tue May 02, 2017 4:49 pm

A number of people in this thread have said a thing that I don't think is correct, which is that NAQT questions are somehow sufficiently different from normal circuit questions that not having them to practice on constitutes a disadvantage. In fact, NAQT's questions are more or less the same as other questions of a similar caliber, except maybe shorter. You can get really good at quizbowl without having any NAQT questions on hand and relying exclusively on public packet archives.

I'm working a long piece which I'll post in the next few days about quizbowl voluntarism, because I think this thread obliquely touches on some of those very important points and I'd like people to discuss them explicitly.
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Post by Cheynem » Tue May 02, 2017 4:51 pm

I don't think Evan's model is inherently incorrect; teams that can either afford to buy the packets or find some other way to get them are going to be at an advantage, sure.

There are two questions stemming from this, both of which, as some have pointed out, should probably be resolved by polling the customer base directly:

1. Would high school teams opt to play less tournaments if the price got hiked (keeping in mind, per Cody's analysis, that hosts would almost certainly find some way to pass their cost onto teams through increased fees)? How much more would they be willing to pay-to-play, knowing that they would obtain free packets in return?

2. How important are these free packets to teams? Evan's analysis is right, but I would wager that for a lot of teams, especially middling teams that play like one tournament a year...they may not be particularly interested in the fact that they're at a disadvantage behind other teams. In other words, give them all the free packets in the world, they don't care that much, and they'd rather see not see a tournament hike. I'd be curious to see what the customer base thinks.

I should note that I think my proposal of just cutting off sales and making things public domain after a certain amount of time would be helpful. We obviously don't want to trap poor teams in only playing old shit, but stuff 6-10 years ago is viable practice material.
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Post by vcuEvan » Tue May 02, 2017 5:07 pm

Cheynem wrote:I don't think Evan's model is inherently incorrect; teams that can either afford to buy the packets or find some other way to get them are going to be at an advantage, sure.

There are two questions stemming from this, both of which, as some have pointed out, should probably be resolved by polling the customer base directly:

1. Would high school teams opt to play less tournaments if the price got hiked (keeping in mind, per Cody's analysis, that hosts would almost certainly find some way to pass their cost onto teams through increased fees)? How much more would they be willing to pay-to-play, knowing that they would obtain free packets in return?

2. How important are these free packets to teams? Evan's analysis is right, but I would wager that for a lot of teams, especially middling teams that play like one tournament a year...they may not be particularly interested in the fact that they're at a disadvantage behind other teams. In other words, give them all the free packets in the world, they don't care that much, and they'd rather see not see a tournament hike. I'd be curious to see what the customer base thinks.

I should note that I think my proposal of just cutting off sales and making things public domain after a certain amount of time would be helpful. We obviously don't want to trap poor teams in only playing old shit, but stuff 6-10 years ago is viable practice material.
Should the rest of quizbowl perform a similar analysis on whether its customers would opt to play more tournaments if the costs were lowered to reflect a decoupling of tournament entrance costs and packet ownership costs? I'm sorry come back to this point again, but the responses in this thread by Andrew and Jeff have made it clear that NAQT (or at least its members in their individual capacities) considers the packet archive a backstop that allows them to charge for their packets without worrying about teams going without practice material. Is this not a free rider problem?
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Post by grapesmoker » Tue May 02, 2017 5:14 pm

Let's say it is free-riding (I'm not convinced but let's suppose for the sake of argument). What then? Is it inherently a terrible situation? It doesn't seem to me like quizbowl is in dire straits because of it, so even if NAQT is free-riding somehow, what does this entail and why should we be concerned? I'm not trying to be glib, but I think these are important questions to answer to clarify what we're trying to achieve here.
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Post by Cheynem » Tue May 02, 2017 5:25 pm

In terms of high school, there aren't really a lot of organizations similar to NAQT. PACE is non-profit. Housewrites aren't really equipped to do long-term charging for packets (and there are some I think that don't post their sets publicly too). HSAPQ has chosen not to charge for its sets, but we don't put on as many nationwide tournaments as NAQT nor do we really employ as many "full-time-ish" employees as NAQT. NAQT seems a fairly unique institution within the high school game.

(As many, including NAQT people have pointed out, the college game is pretty different)
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Post by vcuEvan » Tue May 02, 2017 5:38 pm

grapesmoker wrote:Let's say it is free-riding (I'm not convinced but let's suppose for the sake of argument). What then? Is it inherently a terrible situation? It doesn't seem to me like quizbowl is in dire straits because of it, so even if NAQT is free-riding somehow, what does this entail and why should we be concerned? I'm not trying to be glib, but I think these are important questions to answer to clarify what we're trying to achieve here.
This has been a long and involved thread so I'll try to recreate the steps that got us here:
1. Andrew and Rob floated the argument that coupling packet ownership costs with entry fees is bad because it raises entry fees
2. My response is that a world in which teams have to buy all their packets is a bad world
3. Your response is that the free packet archive is sufficient practice material
4. My response is that implicit within the free packet archive is the notion that every other tournament has already coupled packet ownership costs with entry fees, and therefore raised entry fees

I bring up the free-riding not to point out some incurable state of affairs but to point out the inconsistency: that their argument for keeping entry fees low rests on everyone else keeping their entry fees high.

I'll also dispute the notion that we need a "terrible situation" or "dire straits" before asking for change. I'm going to assume you've read the thread and encountered the numerous disadvantages to players, teams, hosts, community cohesion, and the environment that result from NAQT's current policy.
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Post by theMoMA » Tue May 02, 2017 5:46 pm

It seems more likely that other organizations have decided that it's not feasible or worthwhile or otherwise desirable to capture packet costs, and have given up on accounting for them at all, rather than pricing them into their tournament fees. For instance, Cody said upstream that VCU charges the same amount for its high school tournaments, regardless of question provider. I haven't produced an independent high school tournament in nearly a decade, but when I did, I certainly did not account for "lost revenue" of packet sales when pricing out its mirror fees, because I never considered that revenue in the first place.
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Post by vcuEvan » Tue May 02, 2017 6:01 pm

theMoMA wrote:It seems more likely that other organizations have decided that it's not feasible or worthwhile or otherwise desirable to capture packet costs, and have given up on accounting for them at all, rather than pricing them into their tournament fees. For instance, Cody said upstream that VCU charges the same amount for its high school tournaments, regardless of question provider. I haven't produced an independent high school tournament in nearly a decade, but when I did, I certainly did not account for "lost revenue" of packet sales when pricing out its mirror fees, because I never considered that revenue in the first place.
I'm not going to pretend to know how to construct a valuation model, but I think it's fairly clear from this thread that the rights to own old packets are pretty valuable. As for the reasons other organizations made those decisions, I can't speak for everyone. But I've had these conversations about ACF and HSAPQ (and by extension VHSL and the early days of NHBB), and in those cases there were pretty explicit ideological decisions made to forego selling packets for reasons similar to the ones I've laid out.

And just to make this part explicit, I'm not sure it matters whether anyone thought "Oh, we should package the costs of those rights into our entry fee." Implicit in the sale value of old packets is that the these organizations could subsequently lower their entry rates to make up for the revenue brought in by selling the packets.
Last edited by vcuEvan on Tue May 02, 2017 6:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Post by Cody » Tue May 02, 2017 6:11 pm

theMoMA wrote:It seems more likely that other organizations have decided that it's not feasible or worthwhile or otherwise desirable to capture packet costs, and have given up on accounting for them at all, rather than pricing them into their tournament fees. For instance, Cody said upstream that VCU charges the same amount for its high school tournaments, regardless of question provider. I haven't produced an independent high school tournament in nearly a decade, but when I did, I certainly did not account for "lost revenue" of packet sales when pricing out its mirror fees, because I never considered that revenue in the first place.
I don't understand how this can be true. Non-NAQT tournament providers are (or should be) pricing out a mirror fee in accordance with circuit norms and in accordance with the revenue they wish to draw (whether it be in order to offset writing costs or fund a quizbowl club). Pricing out the mirror fee does not explicitly account for the lost revenue of packet sales because the pricing model of non-NAQT tournaments already implicitly accounts for not capturing packet sales.
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Post by Birdofredum Sawin » Tue May 02, 2017 6:13 pm

vcuEvan wrote:
theMoMA wrote:It seems more likely that other organizations have decided that it's not feasible or worthwhile or otherwise desirable to capture packet costs, and have given up on accounting for them at all, rather than pricing them into their tournament fees. For instance, Cody said upstream that VCU charges the same amount for its high school tournaments, regardless of question provider. I haven't produced an independent high school tournament in nearly a decade, but when I did, I certainly did not account for "lost revenue" of packet sales when pricing out its mirror fees, because I never considered that revenue in the first place.
I'm not going to pretend to know how to construct a valuation model, but I think it's fairly clear from this thread that the rights to own old packets are pretty valuable. As for the reasons other organizations made those decisions, I can't speak for everyone. But I've had these conversations about ACF and HSAPQ (and by extension VHSL and the early days of NHBB), and in those cases there were pretty explicit ideological decisions made to forego selling packets for reasons similar to the ones I've laid out.
As a matter of quizbowl history (and setting aside all the other considerations in this thread), I think that Andrew is correct about this. Speaking as someone who once upon a time charged fees for sets I edited, including ACF sets: I did so because it had been the norm since time immemorial, and because people actually paid me for the questions. Over time, fewer and fewer people paid for the sets, to the point where it no longer seemed worthwhile to bother trying to charge for them. I don't recall ever having an ideological discussion about the propriety of selling packets, nor do I recall anyone trying to price the lost revenue into tournament fees; instead, my sense is that the practice just got abandoned.
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Sun May 07, 2017 11:41 am

So when can we expect any movement on Seth's proposals, he asked with resigned trepidation
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Post by setht » Sun May 07, 2017 3:17 pm

The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote:So when can we expect any movement on Seth's proposals, he asked with resigned trepidation
The short answer is "not until June at the earliest"; we're really busy with getting things ready for MSNCT, and then we'll be really busy getting things ready for HSNCT.

The slightly more detailed answer is the same as the short answer, but with an added note that various other proposals have been bandied about in this thread, and it doesn't seem clear (to me, at least) that my proposal has widespread support. And that's fine! But it will help move things along if it somehow becomes clear which proposal(s) will actually have widespread community support, so we can narrow down the scope of discussion. I don't have any clever suggestions for how to figure that out, and if it turns out that NAQT needs to talk through a bunch of proposals then that's what we'll do—it'll just slow things down compared with a one-proposal discussion.

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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Post by vinteuil » Sun May 07, 2017 3:31 pm

setht wrote:
The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote: The slightly more detailed answer is the same as the short answer, but with an added note that various other proposals have been bandied about in this thread, and it doesn't seem clear (to me, at least) that my proposal has widespread support.
I like your proposal a lot, but didn't want to post because it feels vaguely redundant. Maybe you could set up a poll? (Or a non-anonymous poll? or just explicitly ask people to vote by posting?)
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Post by setht » Sun May 07, 2017 3:39 pm

setht wrote:
The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote:So when can we expect any movement on Seth's proposals, he asked with resigned trepidation
The short answer is "not until June at the earliest"; we're really busy with getting things ready for MSNCT, and then we'll be really busy getting things ready for HSNCT.

The slightly more detailed answer is the same as the short answer, but with an added note that various other proposals have been bandied about in this thread, and it doesn't seem clear (to me, at least) that my proposal has widespread support. And that's fine! But it will help move things along if it somehow becomes clear which proposal(s) will actually have widespread community support, so we can narrow down the scope of discussion. I don't have any clever suggestions for how to figure that out, and if it turns out that NAQT needs to talk through a bunch of proposals then that's what we'll do—it'll just slow things down compared with a one-proposal discussion.

-Seth
Sorry, I forgot to say that there has already been some internal (NAQT) discussion of the ideas raised in this thread, so in an admittedly not-visible way there has already been some movement on our side of things.

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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Post by setht » Sun May 07, 2017 4:00 pm

vinteuil wrote:
setht wrote: The slightly more detailed answer is the same as the short answer, but with an added note that various other proposals have been bandied about in this thread, and it doesn't seem clear (to me, at least) that my proposal has widespread support.
I like your proposal a lot, but didn't want to post because it feels vaguely redundant. Maybe you could set up a poll? (Or a non-anonymous poll? or just explicitly ask people to vote by posting?)
Perhaps that's something we can set up after MSNCT. (Or maybe it would have to wait until after HSNCT; I don't know.) So far, I see the following proposals in this thread:

-my proposal

-variants of my proposal (e.g. only releasing the DI sets; releasing all prior years plus the current year; only releasing prior years)

-post everything (MS/HS/collegiate), stop selling practice sets


There are also a couple related concerns that have come up; some of the proposals listed above would presumably answer these concerns, but others might not. Specifically:

-don't sell very old sets (at any level), regardless of steps taken to steer customers to newer sets

-allow paperless tournaments


If anyone has more suggestions to add, I guess it would be good to get those in in the next week or so, in case we try to collect feedback then (with a poll or whatever). And of course if anyone wants to attempt to sway their fellow community members' opinions toward or away from any of these proposals, it would be good to start in on that soon.

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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Thu Jun 29, 2017 11:29 am

So...what's the status of this within NAQT
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Post by STPickrell » Tue Jul 25, 2017 10:49 am

Birdofredum Sawin wrote:
vcuEvan wrote:
theMoMA wrote:It seems more likely that other organizations have decided that it's not feasible or worthwhile or otherwise desirable to capture packet costs, and have given up on accounting for them at all, rather than pricing them into their tournament fees. For instance, Cody said upstream that VCU charges the same amount for its high school tournaments, regardless of question provider. I haven't produced an independent high school tournament in nearly a decade, but when I did, I certainly did not account for "lost revenue" of packet sales when pricing out its mirror fees, because I never considered that revenue in the first place.
I'm not going to pretend to know how to construct a valuation model, but I think it's fairly clear from this thread that the rights to own old packets are pretty valuable. As for the reasons other organizations made those decisions, I can't speak for everyone. But I've had these conversations about ACF and HSAPQ (and by extension VHSL and the early days of NHBB), and in those cases there were pretty explicit ideological decisions made to forego selling packets for reasons similar to the ones I've laid out.
As a matter of quizbowl history (and setting aside all the other considerations in this thread), I think that Andrew is correct about this. Speaking as someone who once upon a time charged fees for sets I edited, including ACF sets: I did so because it had been the norm since time immemorial, and because people actually paid me for the questions. Over time, fewer and fewer people paid for the sets, to the point where it no longer seemed worthwhile to bother trying to charge for them. I don't recall ever having an ideological discussion about the propriety of selling packets, nor do I recall anyone trying to price the lost revenue into tournament fees; instead, my sense is that the practice just got abandoned.
For VHSL - I did make it a point to make all questions distributable to coaches if VHSL member schools.

I attempted to sell questions to out of state customers, but averaged maybe 2-3 customers a year -- not enough to warrant continued sale of those questions or hiking my fees to VHSL customers. I'd be surprised if I exceeded $1,000 in overall gross revenue from all the years, combined.

By 2004, I figured the questions would do more good getting distributed for free than gathering dust on my hard drive. So I made them available to all who asked and posted them on online quizbowl archives.

As far as i can tell, the tarball of my question sets, including those i wrote for MSHSAA in 2007-08, should be sitting somewhere on my HDD. With the advent of better practice materials, I suspect there wouldn't be *that* much demand for my questions.
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Sun Aug 20, 2017 11:34 pm

The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote:So...what's the status of this within NAQT
The year's starting up again, surely the meetings that were supposed to have happened, have happened. Can we expect any kind of movement on this policy soon? Because I really don't want this to die out as it always does.
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Post by Santa Claus » Mon Aug 21, 2017 1:08 pm

This last Friday, a question-reading session was held in the quiz bowl Discord channel. We read through the first packet of the 2012-2013 DII ICT, a set that our reader had purchased, to an audience of people who did not own the set. After we finished, Jonah entered and informed us that we were not permitted to read NAQT packets in an open channel, later citing the licensing policy as the reason. The specific lines mentioned were "A school may use licensed packets to conduct practices. A practice is an event taking place in a single (physical) room in which questions are used in any way reminiscent of quiz bowl competition. At least two-thirds of the participants must have affiliations with the licensing school."

Worth remembering that, outside of difficulties obtaining NAQT packets, there are a lot of restrictions on reading them, even when obtained through official channels.
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Post by Cheynem » Mon Aug 21, 2017 1:12 pm

Does an online channel count as a room?
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Post by jonah » Mon Aug 21, 2017 1:23 pm

Santa Claus wrote:This last Friday, a question-reading session was held in the quiz bowl Discord channel. We read through the first packet of the 2012-2013 DII ICT, a set that our reader had purchased, to an audience of people who did not own the set. After we finished, Jonah entered and informed us that we were not permitted to read NAQT packets in an open channel, later citing the licensing policy as the reason. The specific lines mentioned were "A school may use licensed packets to conduct practices. A practice is an event taking place in a single (physical) room in which questions are used in any way reminiscent of quiz bowl competition. At least two-thirds of the participants must have affiliations with the licensing school."

Worth remembering that, outside of difficulties obtaining NAQT packets, there are a lot of restrictions on reading them, even when obtained through official channels.
Here is the complete licensing policy.

Cheynem wrote:Does an online channel count as a room?
From the above: "Schools may also use licensed packets to conduct online practices (using appropriate technologies), so long as at least two-thirds of participants are affiliated with the school. These practices must not be conducted in such a way so as to allow participants to make whole or partial copies of the practice material."
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Post by nsb2 » Mon Aug 21, 2017 5:32 pm

I appreciate everything NAQT has done for the quizbowl community (which is a lot, even to my limited knowledge) but don't understand why they are so protective of 4-5 year old packets. It seems like the licensing policy regarding school affiliation discourages collaboration between members of the wider community, which I'm not sure is a good thing. I definitely agree that packets beyond a certain number of years old should be available for free and would appreciate consideration of relaxing the school-related policy for the benefit of the community.
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Post by jonah » Mon Aug 21, 2017 8:13 pm

nsb2 wrote:I appreciate everything NAQT has done for the quizbowl community (which is a lot, even to my limited knowledge) but don't understand why they are so protective of 4-5 year old packets. It seems like the licensing policy regarding school affiliation discourages collaboration between members of the wider community, which I'm not sure is a good thing. I definitely agree that packets beyond a certain number of years old should be available for free and would appreciate consideration of relaxing the school-related policy for the benefit of the community.
We believe that a significant portion of our customer base considers older packets to be sufficient substitute goods for newer packets that if older packets were free, people would not buy newer packets.
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Post by nsb2 » Wed Aug 23, 2017 1:43 am

jonah wrote:We believe that a significant portion of our customer base considers older packets to be sufficient substitute goods for newer packets that if older packets were free, people would not buy newer packets.
This is not personally the case for me, so I'd like to hear from others in the quizbowl community (in this thread or elsewhere). I own several 5-6 year old IS sets and have played a number of recent IS sets in high school; I can find very little in common between them, which seems logical given how the quizbowl canon has changed during that time.

On the same subject, I'd like to understand what "a significant portion of our customer base" refers to; I've spoken to several players on competitive teams at this year's HSNCT who don't consider older packets an effective substitute for newer ones.
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Post by jonah » Wed Aug 23, 2017 1:59 am

nsb2 wrote:
jonah wrote:We believe that a significant portion of our customer base considers older packets to be sufficient substitute goods for newer packets that if older packets were free, people would not buy newer packets.
This is not personally the case for me, so I'd like to hear from others in the quizbowl community (in this thread or elsewhere). I own several 5-6 year old IS sets and have played a number of recent IS sets in high school; I can find very little in common between them, which seems logical given how the quizbowl canon has changed during that time.

On the same subject, I'd like to understand what "a significant portion of our customer base" refers to; I've spoken to several players on competitive teams at this year's HSNCT who don't consider older packets an effective substitute for newer ones.
I don't know what exactly you're looking for in terms of understanding our audience, but well over 4,000 distinct schools and over 25,000 distinct people played NAQT questions in the 2016–2017 competition year. (The actual number of people is surely much higher, but I don't have exact data there because there are many tournaments that don't keep individual stats.)

Competitive teams at this year's HSNCT and top players such as you are only a small portion of said audience. Very probably the most discerning portion of it — almost certainly the most discerning with respect to the relative quality of packets from last year and packets from (say) five years ago — but only a small portion. We make decisions based not only on what the top players and teams notice care about, but based on everyone. I agree that if your goal is to win a trophy at the HSNCT, the last few years' worth of packet sets are much better practice material than older ones, but if you're just trying to place in the top half of your random local league, older stuff will be just fine, especially if it's free.


(Also, for what it's worth, as someone who has been editing IS sets over the whole time period you describe, I don't find them that different, and most of the differences I do observe are improvements in various aspects of quality than in content.)
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Post by Kasper Kaijanen » Sat Sep 09, 2017 4:55 pm

The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote:
The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote:So...what's the status of this within NAQT
The year's starting up again, surely the meetings that were supposed to have happened, have happened. Can we expect any kind of movement on this policy soon? Because I really don't want this to die out as it always does.
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Post by Important Bird Area » Fri Sep 22, 2017 1:59 pm

Cross-posted from my thread about SCT and ICT changes:

NAQT has decided to maintain its current policy and continue to not post packets online for any level of play (including college).

Why have we made this decision? In short, we think that revenue from practice question sales is critical to NAQT's survival as a business.

We feel it's important to treat our customers consistently. If we were to provide a significant amount of college-level practice material for free, we expect that many of our middle and high school customers would (justifiably) feel they were being treated unfairly. However, if we were to make high school and middle school practice questions freely available as well, we would need to make up the lost revenue elsewhere in our operations- by raising fees for our national championships and for tournament hosting to levels that would be unsupportable for the quizbowl community.

I know our decision will come as a disappointment to many people reading this forum; however, we believe that the principles outlined above are important to NAQT's continued viability as a business.
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Post by Strongside » Fri Sep 22, 2017 10:23 pm

Is there a reason that it took so long for an update?

Specifically, Eric asked for updates on June 29th and August 20th, and Finn asked for an update on September 9th.

I realize NAQT just announced the decision today, but was there a reason they did not respond to the aforementioned posts and let the community know they had not made a decision yet?

I do agree with NAQT’s decision to maintain its current policy.
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Re: The Barbarism of Monetization

Post by Important Bird Area » Fri Sep 22, 2017 11:07 pm

Primarily "I didn't know when we would be able to announce an update." We had extensive discussion within NAQT from early June up until the last week, and we wanted to announce our decision in conjunction with the various changes to SCT and ICT policies I posted in the other thread.
Jeff Hoppes
President, Northern California Quiz Bowl Alliance
former HSQB Chief Admin (2012-13)
VP for Communication and history subject editor, NAQT
Editor emeritus, ACF

"I wish to make some kind of joke about Jeff's love of birds, but I always fear he'll turn them on me Hitchcock-style." -Fred

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