Why we can't have nice things

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kayli
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by kayli »

Journey to the Planets wrote:It's obvious that Mark Grant was wrong, and that his posts needed to be corrected. I only wonder about these ad hominem attacks:
Someone who is as unfamiliar with logic as you appear to be can't be very good at teaching math, either.
Wow. You sound like an exceptionally unpleasant human being and a poor role model for students.
Are these comments true? Arguably, yes. However, people unfamiliar with good quizbowl do lurk this forum: what would Random Ohio Kid X think of these comments? I for one nearly left these boards about six months ago after getting fed up with the toxic atmosphere. For such a champion of quizbowl's public image, Matt doesn't seem to be projecting a very good one. Certainly, we should correct every blatant falsehood and call them as they are, and Matt did an excellent job of that in the Masonics thread; however, when dealing with new posters, we should not stoop to such crude, childish rhetorical techniques as name-calling. We need to look professional for the sake of those new teams who are willing to embrace good quizbowl, but understandably apprehensive about joining a community that does not welcome them.

I'll note that if Matt has a strong reason for posting as he does, now would be the time to divulge it and silence those who would attack him for being "uncivil." I'll clarify that I found the calls for "civility" in the Masonics thread far more noxious to good quizbowl than any comment Matt made.
I agree with this completely. I too almost left the forums for the same reason (indeed I took a couple months' hiatus).

I think that it is in the best interest of perpetuating good quizbowl to act as civilly and logically when discussing quizbowl with people who may not agree with the form of quizbowl we consider to be good. Demeaning others only serves to drive people back to bad quizbowl. To be succinct, we should have a Soriceian attitude when it comes to these forums.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by mrgsmath »

Captain Sinico wrote:The impact you don't see is simple. Some forms of quizbowl are better for the intellectual development of players than others, and that's what's important here
Actually I do see this, and agree, some forms are better. But that does not refute the premise that some forms can have varied degrees of success as well.
Captain Sinico wrote:One thing I notice is that all your arguments are predicated on the idea that preparing your students to win if your highest goal. While that should be one of your goals, I'd say that your job really isn't and shouldn't be about winning and losing primarily. As a quizbowl coach, you're an educator: you should be out to give your players the richest, most rewarding experience possible playing quizbowl.
If you percieve that, you have either misread my intent or I have been poor in communicating it. I agree with your broader goal, I simply disagree with what you define as the richest most rewarding experience. It is the idea that pyramidal questions is the only acceptable question form through which "good" quiz bowl can be obtained that I have problems. Yes, buzzer beaters, misleading hoses, and poor question quality in general can make for a less than enjoyable experience. However I believe a well crafted mid-difficulty question with a straight forward presentation, can be a challenge and educational experience as well. The idea that either a question is acceptable or unacceptable, there can be no middle ground I assume,is based entirely on it being pyramidal is not one that anyone has sold me on.
Captain Sinico wrote:How can you explain the fact that all most successful Illinois teams, even considering success on short, hosey questions, practice and play pyramidal questions almost exclusively?
This presupposes that my team does not practice and compete with pyramidal questions. We do. We simply are limited in the availability of meets in the format. Despite your attempt to bait me on the issue of finances I will hold fast to the reality that the cost/benefit of traveling and staying over night is not justified. On a purely personal note I will add that my experiences north of I-80 have not been good. When my team goes 5-0 in pool play and does not clear to the afternoon, because the tournament decided to play cross-pool rounds rather than drop the hosts "C" team, and allowed another team in the pool who we beat to advance as well as a 3-2 team from another pool, because the tie breaker was total points, you will have to forgive me for having a less than positive view.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by Boeing X-20, Please! »

mrgsmath wrote: my experiences north of I-80 have not been good. When my team goes 5-0 in pool play and does not clear to the afternoon, because the tournament decided to play cross-pool rounds rather than drop the hosts "C" team, and allowed another team in the pool who we beat to advance as well as a 3-2 team from another pool, because the tie breaker was total points, you will have to forgive me for having a less than positive view.
What tournament was this ?
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by jonah »

mrgsmath wrote:On a purely personal note I will add that my experiences north of I-80 have not been good. When my team goes 5-0 in pool play and does not clear to the afternoon, because the tournament decided to play cross-pool rounds rather than drop the hosts "C" team, and allowed another team in the pool who we beat to advance as well as a 3-2 team from another pool, because the tie breaker was total points, you will have to forgive me for having a less than positive view.
That experience sucks, in an almost comically bad way that I can only conjecture is associated with the Fremd tournament. Fortunately, I am glad to report that no tournament that anyone here would consider good would ever do such a thing. I hope you'll give the Chicago area another chance; that experience is not representative of how good tournaments work. There are also some good tournaments near enough to you that there would be no need to stay overnight (most particularly, Earlybird at UIUC).
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by mrgsmath »

Shcool wrote:Finally, your other claim, which is that you were somehow compelled to host non-pyramidal questions, I very much fail to understand. You can host on whatever kind of questions you like; it's your tournament. If you're saying more people will come in the short run if you use hosey, one-line questions, possibly you're right, but that doesn't make your decision for you.
Sorry I missed the point earlier. Again I apologize if I am unclear, with the exception of this Masonic debacle, I do not host non-pyramidal meets or tournaments, what I was saying is I am unable to schedule home meets during the week, because other teams will not schedule with us due to the question type. This is improving as some teams are becoming more acceptable but this year we hosted ony only 2 home quads during the week.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by dtaylor4 »

mrgsmath wrote:Sorry I missed the point earlier. Again I apologize if I am unclear, with the exception of this Masonic debacle, I do not host non-pyramidal meets or tournaments, what I was saying is I am unable to schedule home meets during the week, because other teams will not schedule with us due to the question type. This is improving as some teams are becoming more acceptable but this year we hosted ony only 2 home quads during the week.
What about hosting Saturday tournaments? There are open weekends in January, and there is time after the IHSA State Series is over. I know this last option is iffy at best, but I think we as a state need to look into this more closely. We probably wouldn't do it, as it would cut into our national tournaments, but it is still a very viable option.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by cvdwightw »

I think one thing that's been missed in all this noise is that most of the time this stuff happens, it's not like anyone can do anything about it. Disregarding the fact that Mr. Grant's initial posts were ridiculous, what was he going to do? It's not like he could all of a sudden change the question provider for his tournament because a bunch of people think (rightly) that the questions he's going to use for his tournament are almost certainly garbage.

I think one of the most important points in that terrible, terrible thread was made by Jeff Price, who noted that people have to actually see for themselves why terrible quizbowl is terrible and it might take them a couple of years to finally get that Eureka! moment. It's like trying to explain the concept of the solar system to a geocentrist - just because we know we're right and we have a lot of evidence to show that we're right doesn't mean that we ought to expect them to immediately understand that they're wrong. They're going to have questions about things; they're going to stubbornly defend bad dogma at first; a few of them are just going to decide to live in their own little world where the Sun revolves around the Earth. Most of them are going to need months if not years to fully understand it. The idea that having a bunch of people posting "you're wrong, and here's why" is going to make someone an instant convert to good quizbowl is laughable at best and downright destructive at worst.

People who didn't know about good quizbowl are going to be absolutely bewildered by the antagonistic response to their first post. They will be confused as to why all of a sudden they're a terrible person and they're going to be pushed away from good quizbowl because they don't want to play with these people that are being mean. Some posters know better, but they haven't fully embraced the concepts of good quizbowl or they can't fully comprehend why bad quizbowl is bad; they're not getting any help from the board regulars when they just get a bunch of attacks (either on the posters themselves or on the questions) without anything helpful to go along with it. Some posters know that they shouldn't be doing what they're doing but they feel that they're justified because to them, the potential positives outweigh the certain negatives. They barely get their reasoning expounded before someone says, "your reasoning cannot be correct because you're using terrible questions, which trumps any reasoning you might have." None of these situations are fruitful for either party.

For the first two cases, it might be good for posters to have a "standard" (courteous or at least not confrontational) reply that documents the problems with a certain question provider and ask the poster if they have noticed the same issues (if it's a tournament that's completed) or ask the poster to notice whether those issues occur (if it's a tournament that hasn't run yet). For the third case, it might be useful to likewise denote the negatives, see what the poster views as the "positives" of using bad questions, and try to reason whether better questions could produce the same positives and, if not, try to convince the poster that the trade-offs are worth it. Remember, a lot of these people need to be coached along slowly and it's going to take them a while to fully reject their old ways. Imagine you're a quizbowl coach and your lit specialist continually says that "Charge of the Light Brigade" was written by Keats. You can either yell at him that "Charge of the Light Brigade" was by Tennyson and show him that poem and its author every time he misses that question or explain to him that Keats could not have written that poem because Keats was dead by the time that the event memorialized in the poem occurred. I contend (though I don't have any real evidence) that the former approach is going to lead to the lit specialist calling you an idiot, retreating even further into his shell of ignorance, and quitting the team; the latter approach, though certainly more frustrating and time-consuming, is going to eventually pay off by either the specialist finally getting it or you realizing that the kid's just an idiot and finding some other lit specialist to train. Just because the kid doesn't understand it the first time doesn't mean that he's slow and he's never going to get it.

Lastly, I don't think that Reinstein posted a very good conception of what he views as "bullying." This is a terrible playground analogy for what's happened in a bunch of these discussions: little kid decides one day that it would be fun to throw rocks, because he's trying to provoke a response, or he's just an idiot and doesn't know that throwing rocks is against playground rules, or because he has to throw rocks to fit in with the other little kids who like throwing rocks. Big kid gets hit by a rock and yells about it, which catches the attention of the playground supervisor. Playground supervisor sits the little kid down and tells him that throwing rocks is against the rules and there's this nice basketball court over here where he could play a real game. Kid decides that he's not going to stop throwing rocks just because the playground supervisor tells him to and starts calling playground administrator names. Playground administrator resorts to the kid's tactics and starts calling him names too, since that's apparently the only thing that works on this kid. Meanwhile, a bunch of big kids in other parts of the playground decide to gang up on the little kid so that their big kid friend doesn't get hit with a rock again. Playground supervisor lets it happen because he likes to referee the big kid basketball games and the little kid's still being a jerk. Little kid picks up his rocks and goes crying home to mama about how mean the big kids were and how he's going to stay in his backyard and throw rocks all day because he doesn't like basketball. There's absolutely no question who started the incident, but it's certainly debatable who's responsible for the kid spending the rest of the day throwing rocks at the back fence.

ADDENDUM:
mrgsmath wrote:However I believe a well crafted mid-difficulty question with a straight forward presentation, can be a challenge and educational experience as well. The idea that either a question is acceptable or unacceptable, there can be no middle ground I assume,is based entirely on it being pyramidal is not one that anyone has sold me on.
I too believe that a well-crafted mid-difficulty question with a straight-forward presentation can be a challenging and educational experience. The problem with most of these one-line questions is that only one of three situations can occur:

1. At least one player on Team A knows the answer, and at least one player on Team B does as well. Whoever gets the points is primarily determined by luck or reflex speed.
2. At least one player on Team A (or B) knows the answer, and no one on Team B (or A) does. Team A (or B) gets the points.
3. No one on either team knows the answer. No one gets any points, and we have not differentiated which of Team A or Team B knows more.

Now to some extent, all of these flaws are present in a pyramidal question. However, the pyramidal questions has many clues (as opposed to just one or two) ordered from least likely to be known to most likely to be known. That is, at each point in the question, either situation 1, 2, or 3 will occur; if situation 3 occurs, then we progress to the next-easiest clue and situation 1, 2, or 3 will occur again. With many more clues arranged in order of obscurity, we will get a much larger percentage of situation 2 buzzes per question, because Team A (or B) will know one more thing about the answer than Team B (or A). This is often described as a more rewarding experience, because a player who makes a situation 2 buzz feels like he's rewarded for having knowledge that no one else does. Similarly, players should likewise be motivated to learn more so that they and not their opponents can make a situation 2 buzz. Also, learning new things to get an edge on the field for the next tournament is typically more rewarding to most players than doing buzzer-reflex exercises so that they won't lose 75% of their buzzer races next tournament.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by mrgsmath »

It was 5 years ago when I was rebuilding the program at PORTA, we drove 3.5 hours to the Rockford area for a F/S Tournament. The 3.5 hour drive home was not a pleasant experience for a group of Freshman and Sophomore students who I convinced that the only way to get good was to play good teams. this was the group that later took the State Title in Class A.
mrgsmath wrote:What tournament was this ?
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by mrgsmath »

mrgsmath wrote:What about hosting Saturday tournaments? There are open weekends in January
actually this is how the whole the mess got started. I do host a tournament in January, and normally use Pyramidal questions, this year however I made a decision to change my format, for reasons I still think are valid. Next year we will return to the pyramidal format and perhaps I can pickup the scraps of my shattered reputation. :grin: (sorry I couldn't resist)

for the record:
I host the:
IHSSBCA - Pyramidal (November)
PORTA F/S Invite Open Class - Pyramidal (December)
PORTA Varsity Class A - (normally pyramidal) (January)
Masonic Sectional - (07- no, 08 pyramidal, 09 pyramidal, 10 no) February
IHSA Regional 2006-10? pyramidal March
IHSA Sectional 2008 - Pyramidal
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by jonah »

What questions are your f/s and varsity tournaments run on?
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by kayli »

I think it's great that you've been using and continue to use pyramidal questions. However, I think a lot of us would like to see you switch to pyramidal questions for all your tournaments. I think that overall you'd be very pleased if you hosted on HSAPQ or NAQT questions. They seem to allow teams to better distinguish themselves in tiers of knowledge whereas the shorter tossups often leads to high variability due to non-academic factors such as reflex speed.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by Stained Diviner »

Was that Rockford Boylan or Rockford Auburn?
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by Charley Pride »

Shcool wrote:Was that Rockford Boylan or Rockford Auburn?
Must've been Boylan, since I've never seen PORTA at Auburn.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by Matt Weiner »

Shcool wrote:I'm glad people are getting along better, but I still don't see the main issues raised by this thread as being resolved.

One problem is that new posters here are sometimes attacked for not following a somewhat complex set of rules.
If a teacher needs the quizbowl board rules to tell him not to pre-emptively assault everyone who disagrees with him and accuse unknown people of being some sort of political traitor, then he may be beyond help. Do you really think that "new posters being attacked" is an accurate description of what happened here?
New posters are new posters, and they post some stupid things. Is there any effort on this board to lessen the chance that future new posters will cause threads to degrade into ad hominem attacks? You can blame the new posters if you want to, but the only way to change this is to change the reactions of established posters, since new posters sometimes will post like new posters do.
There's a difference between someone liking Questions Galore because they are new, and someone broadly attacking everyone who doesn't like Questions Galore (showing familiarity with the board by doing so, I might add). Is there anything we can do to lessen the chance that a coach whose tournament was entirely un-commented-upon by the outside world will come on here and post "screw you don't tell me what to do I love bad quizbowl!" Other than continuing to work on improving the quality of quizbowl so that such people are forced to either change or move on, no, not really.
I'll add that it does not matter whether the new poster is a coach, college student, or high school student--there are some times and places where it is reasonable to hold adults to a higher standard than adolescents, but an internet bulletin board in many ways is not one of them (depending on the type of behavior).
What a ridiculous claim. Of course it matters, and of course people who claim authority by virtue of their real-world status should be held to a higher standard. We haven't even gotten into this point at all, but the patronizing that people like JR Barry project towards anyone younger than them (even college students or professionals in their 30s) by virtue of their "I'm the teacher and you have to listen to me" mentality is a huge problem here and a major source of these conflicts.
Also, I am still baffled by the charge of bullying. When somebody on this board with no authority and nobody backing him up makes some sarcastic comments, it is not bullying. It is to some extent against the rules, and it goes against the purpose of this board, so it should get corrected, but it is not somebody using power to coerce somebody without power. Nobody here worries about somebody else using this board to force them to play Questions Galore, and I'm not sure why any moderators feel like they have to be diligent to prevent that from happening.
And yet, several players from PORTA who have never used the board before have mysteriously shown up to defend Coach Grant. Instead of offering my own conclusion, I'll ask you how and why you think that happened, and how a PORTA player who thought differently might be received by someone who thinks that all of his opponents are some sort of anti-American invading army.

Whether *I* can be intimidated by Grant's posts is immaterial. What effect his ridiculous style of interaction will have on his own students, the teams at his tournament, and the future of Illinois quizbowl is what matters, and judging by that thread, he's as likely to start screaming obscenities and demanding that people be jailed for treason at the next IHSSBCA meeting as he is to not do so. Your reaction should be to help reign in someone who is embarrassing your state, not to start delinking hsquizbowl.org in a huff over the fact that your associates among Illinois coaches aren't allowed to come here and spew venomous nonsense without consequence.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by mrgsmath »

Shcool wrote:Was that Rockford Boylan or Rockford Auburn?
it was Boylan.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by mrgsmath »

Oliver Ellsworth wrote:And yet, several players from PORTA who have never used the board before have mysteriously shown up to defend Coach Grant. Instead of offering my own conclusion, I'll ask you how and why you think that happened, and how a PORTA player who thought differently might be received by someone who thinks that all of his opponents are some sort of anti-American invading army.
I was unaware of any of my players using the board, but they are aware of the board discussions from last night since several comments were directed at the legitimacy of their State Title. if any of them are unwelcome, or if their behavior is inapporpriate, I will ask them to not be a part of this forum.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by Dan-Don »

Coach Grant, what is going on with your quotes??
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by mrgsmath »

Dan-Don wrote:Coach Grant, what is going on with your quotes??
I honestly don't know! I highlighted the correct quote, but I must have hit the wrong quote button, and linked the wrong person. I will strive to do better and pay closer attention. Being on my best behavior and being technically correct can be a daunting task I guess.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by Charley Pride »

mrgsmath wrote:
Dan-Don wrote:Coach Grant, what is going on with your quotes??
I honestly don't know! I highlighted the correct quote, but I must have hit the wrong quote button, and linked the wrong person. I will strive to do better and pay closer attention. Being on my best behavior and being technically correct can be a daunting task I guess.
You don't highlight anything. You just click "quote" in the post you with to quote. It's in the same line as the user name.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by Rococo A Go Go »

OK, I've held off saying much about this because I don't want to jump into the crossfire. However, I need to say something that I feel is pertinent to the discussion that has arisen.

Over the last year (about the amount of time I've frequented this place), I have been told by a few people in the quizbowl community that they aren't pleased with the tone of this board. Some of them have posted here, others have only browsed it. But a recurring theme I've heard is that they feel that people act somewhat aggressively towards others far too often, and it discourages them from posting here. Sometimes it's people who are new on the block like Mr. Grant who are using a tone they don't like, but they also notice that the rest of us who post here (I'm including myself in this bunch because I've made the same mistakes too) tend to react negatively towards people who don't share our philosophy of quizbowl. And sometimes that includes statements that are derisive or even downright insulting to people who we disagree with.

I'm not saying this because I have a problem personally. I can handle people saying things that aren't very nice, even if they say them to me. I've had people insult me since I was in elementary school, I'm starting to get used to it. But some people don't react well to stuff like that at all, and they will only dislike those of us who support good quizbowl even more. Some people who don't like this are new to quizbowl altogether, and even others are people who support good quizbowl just as much as anyone on this board, but they don't want to get involved in a discussion they don't like the tone of.

I have no power to change how people act here. If the board wants to be rude to each other I'm not going to run away and hide, nor will I spend my time here complaining about tone. But I wanted to take this oppurtunity to point out that sometimes our behavior on this board hurts our cause by driving away the very people we need to be reaching out to. If this post is in violation of board rules, stick this in the forbidden zone and ban me for as long as you like. But I wanted to say this while the topic is being discussed.

Edit: I left out an important part of a sentence.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by jonah »

I agree wholeheartedly with Nick. I have heard from eight (8) coaches and over a dozen players, most of whom have generally good opinions about good quizbowl, that they have read the boards but have refrained from joining for that exact reason. (Four of the coaches have named a specific administrator as the precise reason for that; I'll let you guess.) In my opinion, this deeply endangers the purpose of this board (probably much more than the things Matt Weiner claims do), and should be duly addressed: it is preventing people from discussing quizbowl, which I am told is the point.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by mrgsmath »

jonah wrote:What questions are your f/s and varsity tournaments run on?
I use questions generated in house based on the pyramidal critera set forth by the IHSSBCA paper on question writing. I wrote this years F/S set but as I mentioned before there were circumstances that made writing the varsity sets impossible and so I needed an outside source that could meet my deadline and would generate 4-5 sets.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by at your pleasure »

mrgsmath wrote:
jonah wrote:What questions are your f/s and varsity tournaments run on?
I use questions generated in house based on the pyramidal critera set forth by the IHSSBCA paper on question writing. I wrote this years F/S set but as I mentioned before there were circumstances that made writing the varsity sets impossible and so I needed an outside source that could meet my deadline and would generate 4-5 sets.
There are other outside sources besides QG/Avery that are very good. In addition to HSAPQ and NAQT, which have been mentioned in this thread, there are often good tournaments available to mirror.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by Geringer »

Doink the Clown wrote:
mrgsmath wrote:
jonah wrote:What questions are your f/s and varsity tournaments run on?
I use questions generated in house based on the pyramidal critera set forth by the IHSSBCA paper on question writing. I wrote this years F/S set but as I mentioned before there were circumstances that made writing the varsity sets impossible and so I needed an outside source that could meet my deadline and would generate 4-5 sets.
There are other outside sources besides QG/Avery that are very good. In addition to HSAPQ and NAQT, which have been mentioned in this thread, there are often good tournaments available to mirror.
This is one of the advantages of now being on the boards, Mr. Grant. There are a ton of house-written tournaments going on nationally that you just wouldn't hear about otherwise. Actually, I'm sure if you wanted to, there's a housewrite or two that someone would give you to mirror at a low, low, low rate if you agree to forsake your Avery-QG double-whammy and run that tournament on "da good stuff." Actually, if money was an issue, I would be more than happy to use a portion of my TrashTwoStrophe proceeds to pay for your mirror fees of an upcoming tournament. You ditch the questions, I'll fund you.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by Charley Pride »

Macho Man for Expediency wrote:
Doink the Clown wrote:
mrgsmath wrote:
jonah wrote:What questions are your f/s and varsity tournaments run on?
I use questions generated in house based on the pyramidal critera set forth by the IHSSBCA paper on question writing. I wrote this years F/S set but as I mentioned before there were circumstances that made writing the varsity sets impossible and so I needed an outside source that could meet my deadline and would generate 4-5 sets.
There are other outside sources besides QG/Avery that are very good. In addition to HSAPQ and NAQT, which have been mentioned in this thread, there are often good tournaments available to mirror.
This is one of the advantages of now being on the boards, Mr. Grant. There are a ton of house-written tournaments going on nationally that you just wouldn't hear about otherwise. Actually, I'm sure if you wanted to, there's a housewrite or two that someone would give you to mirror at a low, low, low rate if you agree to forsake your Avery-QG double-whammy and run that tournament on "da good stuff." Actually, if money was an issue, I would be more than happy to use a portion of my TrashTwoStrophe proceeds to pay for your mirror fees of an upcoming tournament. You ditch the questions, I'll fund you.
/Shameless Auburn Knights' Challenge plug. PM me.

EDIT: You're probably too close to Springfield. Go to their tournament and then fight them to host the set next year. Or maybe both of you host it...
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by Geringer »

Would GSAC work?
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by Huang »

jonah wrote:I agree wholeheartedly with Nick. I have heard from eight (8) coaches and over a dozen players, most of whom have generally good opinions about good quizbowl, that they have read the boards but have refrained from joining for that exact reason. (Four of the coaches have named a specific administrator as the precise reason for that; I'll let you guess.) In my opinion, this deeply endangers the purpose of this board (probably much more than the things Matt Weiner claims do), and should be duly addressed: it is preventing people from discussing quizbowl, which I am told is the point.
I think people may be forgetting that people can be shamed into a correct course of action more often than if we were to simply coax their misguided opinions by compromising key principles or going out of our way to make people on the Internet like us. I don't think it would be okay to claim that including just a little math computation along with pyramidal questions would constitute as real quizbowl. I also don't believe it's essential for people to like every single person on this board for them to enjoy quizbowl. It would be nice but this kind of ideal isn't achieved in other activities or games. Relatively few people live their life never having to deal with people they dislike. Those "8 coaches and over a dozen players" who resist participating in quizbowl discussion because they dislike the discussion's tone make me question how serious they are about real quizbowl. If they're serious, tone shouldn't matter. I'll also point out that new readers of this board can be considered "serious" players. Otherwise, why would they have even visited this site if not to improve at, or gain insight into, quizbowl?

I know Dwight pretty much covered the multiple responses new readers of this board may have but I think he underestimates and overestimates some of the possible responses.
The idea that having a bunch of people posting "you're wrong, and here's why" is going to make someone an instant convert to good quizbowl is laughable at best and downright destructive at worst.
If a bunch of people are telling one person that he or she is wrong in real life, I assume that person would take notice and reevaluate their opinion.
Imagine you're a quizbowl coach and your lit specialist continually says that "Charge of the Light Brigade" was written by Keats. You can either yell at him that "Charge of the Light Brigade" was by Tennyson and show him that poem and its author every time he misses that question or explain to him that Keats could not have written that poem because Keats was dead by the time that the event memorialized in the poem occurred. I contend (though I don't have any real evidence) that the former approach is going to lead to the lit specialist calling you an idiot, retreating even further into his shell of ignorance, and quitting the team; the latter approach, though certainly more frustrating and time-consuming, is going to eventually pay off by either the specialist finally getting it or you realizing that the kid's just an idiot and finding some other lit specialist to train.
This process just seems way too time-consuming. It's also not guaranteed that it'll pay off (as you've mentioned at the end of the quote). If the hypothetical lit specialist calls his or her coach an idiot because he or she was called out for being wrong, then I don't see it as a productive use of time to help a close-minded individual to realize he or she is wrong beyond simply stating "you are wrong and here is why." What happens when that individual does become convinced you're right about real quizbowl? Will that individual continue being close-minded about other aspects of quizbowl (such as how to write questions) until significant time and effort has been put in? What if that time and effort doesn't pay off and that individual decides to write a bunch of craptastic questions until the end of time? The costs seem to greatly outweigh the benefits.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by kayli »

In a teacher-student relationship, what a teacher says is as fact is taken with more weight. Thus, if a teacher says Tennyson wrote "The Charge of the Light Brigade," the student is more likely to accept the teacher's statement or, at least, double check his sources.

I think the geocentric-heliocentric analogy is more appropriate since one person's opinion is no longer automatically held as more informed. In this case, shouting "The earth revolves around the sun! How do you not understand this, you twit." sometimes only serves to further root a person in his opinion. In contrast, explaining the evidence to that person may bring him to be persuaded; and it might make it so he'll try to learn more about the subject. Now, there are people who will respond to being called out by researching the topic further and trying to be open minded. But overwhelmingly, human beings try to wall-up and defend what they believe especially when their characters are being assaulted as well as their beliefs.

EDIT: clarification.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by Huang »

Arsonists Get All the Girls wrote: But overwhelmingly, human beings try to wall-up and defend what they believe especially when their characters are being assaulted as well as their beliefs.
At the risk of me derailing this thread, is there evidence for this? I haven't encountered a scientific study indicating that people are more inclined to be close-minded than to be open-minded. Not yet at least.

New members of this board valuing the preservation of their own beliefs over seeking out the truth are doing a serious disservice to themselves. There's only so much one can do in terms of convincing such people. Multiple people presenting reasonable arguments for real quizbowl seems to be a good enough method when the person reading the arguments is a reasonably open-minded individual. But I guess all this rests on whether or not my assumption is true (people who enjoy quizbowl tend to enjoy seeking out the truth).
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by Wall of Ham »

Huang wrote:
Arsonists Get All the Girls wrote: But overwhelmingly, human beings try to wall-up and defend what they believe especially when their characters are being assaulted as well as their beliefs.
At the risk of me derailing this thread, is there evidence for this? I haven't encountered a scientific study indicating that people are more inclined to be close-minded than to be open-minded. Not yet at least.

New members of this board valuing the preservation of their own beliefs over seeking out the truth are doing a serious disservice to themselves. There's only so much one can do in terms of convincing such people. Multiple people presenting reasonable arguments for real quizbowl seems to be a good enough method when the person reading the arguments is a reasonably open-minded individual. But I guess all this rests on whether or not my assumption is true (people who enjoy quizbowl tend to enjoy seeking out the truth).
People act irrationally much more than they act rationally (otherwise economics would be a true science). I've only had a few classes in psych, but a few examples can be seen in Superiority complex, which describes the "stonewalling" personality pretty accurately when a person's own character is questioned. Likewise, people hold onto their beliefs despite much evidence to the contrary as seen in True Believer syndrome. Even the less extreme self serving bias describes how people tend to view their own actions differently from how they view other actions (or posts, which may explain how some people see posts as ad-hominem while others see them as logical discussion). I'm not projecting any such descriptions onto posters on this board, but to assume people are inherently completely rational, is, in my opinion, not true. Certainly it is possible to sway people with rational arguments, but sometimes people cannot be convinced with reason, due to other factors. If we remove the other factors, such as character attacks or even posts misconstrued as character attacks, perhaps it would be easier to convince people rationally.

The question of whether a person has a obligation to act rationally is completely different.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by mrgsmath »

As one of the root causes for even having this discussion, let me say only this. I entered the forum intent with only offering my reasoning for a decision that I knew had not been recieved well by many on this forum and understood by even fewer.

I felt the response, correctly or not, was dismissive and condesending.

My response was to become defensive and agressive. A decision I regret.

This, however, was met not with with a rebuke of my behavior, but rather more dismissive and condesending remarks, all from what I viewed as an administrator of the forum.

With this as my guide for acceptable behavior, I dove into the deep end. Since no one seemed to want to discuss the issue I brought, but rather they focused on my personal character, it was difficult to do otherwise.

I have since corrected my ways, or at least attempted to, and would like to be a part of the forum. Perhaps one who challenges the status quo of thinking, while I agree on many of the key principles there are areas that I would like to discuss deeper, but one who will strive to engage in meaningful debate.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by mrgsmath »

I may owe Boyln an apology. One of my past players thinks that while it was in the Rockford Area he didn't believe it was Auburn or Boyln. He thought it might have been Byron. PORTA often attended Boylyn's Varsity meet and I may have confused them. I will need to check my records and get back to you.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by Stained Diviner »

Dwight, here's a better analogy:
A student at a school wears one of those bright orange belts at recess because the school has appointed him Playground Monitor. The student has a reputation for getting into fights with new transfer students because he has on several occasions gotten into fights with new transfer students. The school asks him why he always gets in fights with transfer students, and he claims that it is always the transfer students' faults, and the school believes him. A bunch of regular students ask the school why this kid is still the Playground Monitor, and the kid tells the school not to pay attention to them because they are idiots, and the school buys it and keeps him on as Playground Monitor. He then punches all of the kids who complained in the face, which the school chooses to ignore. A prominent member of the community leaves and tells the school it is because that kid has created a bad environment, and upon being confronted he behaves for a few days before returning to his old ways. The school gets a reputation for being a bad place for transfer students, and the kid says that the school should not do anything about that because it is possible that what many people are telling them is untrue, so the school does nothing about it.

Or, for those of you who don't like analogies:
Matt Weiner is a moderator on this board. He has a reputation for getting into devolving arguments with new posters because he has on several occasions gotten into arguments with new posters. He always claims it is the fault of the new posters, and some people even believe him, even though pretty much everybody else somehow manages to avoid devolving fights with new posters. That makes this site an unwelcoming place for many people. By their inaction, the other moderators are condoning and enabling his actions, which means this site continues to be an unwelcoming place for many people, which means that people who otherwise would be discussing quizbowl are not discussing quizbowl.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by Nine-Tenths Ideas »

The only conclusion I can draw from your analogy is that, very clearly, Matt Weiner should be removed as an administrator. Your analogy and reality don't really match up very well, unless you're only merely implying that he should be removed in the reality.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by Matt Weiner »

I guess we are at a disagreement of premises. At no time have I stated a belief that the primary purpose of this site is to "welcome" people, or to increase the number of people who are discussing quizbowl for its own sake. This site is a tool by which to accomplish certain real-world ends, among them the improvement of quizbowl tournaments (both by changing or replacing existing tournaments that are subpar, and facilitating the creation of new good tournaments). Sometimes, that goal can be furthered by working against people who support bad quizbowl tournaments in various ways, including vigorously countermanding them here--or even making certain people unwelcome or squelching their discussion.

Lest anyone hastily conclude that this is what was going on in the most recent thread celebre, I'll explain that it was not. Neither I nor anyone else thought it necessary to do or say anything at all about the PORTA tournament. It was passing silently in the night, until Mr. Grant pre-emptively attacked his legions of imaginary enemies. At that point, it became a matter of emphatically showing him that his conduct was not acceptable, as either a member of the quizbowl community or a member of educational society. I have still not heard Mr. Reinstein acknowledge that the matter of how Grant chose to present himself unprovoked, and not the substance of whether running a Questions Galore tournament is a good idea, was in fact what prompted the exchange. Nor have I heard Reinstein say one negative word about Grant's behavior itself. Indeed, Reinstein has expressed that he is "baffled" at why anyone would object to Grant's posting, and that doing anything about it is "misguided," and sung a litany of Grant's praises, which was repeated in at least one subsequent post when it failed to garner a reaction the first time. From this, I can only conclude what I have already stated, which is that Reinstein fully buys into the idea that Grant is entitled to do or say absolutely whatever he wants (because he's a teacher, because he runs a tournament that Reinstein approves of, because of a social relationship with Reinstein, or for other reasons) and that anyone who objects or intervenes is in the wrong. At the point of this current post, Grant himself is demonstrating more capacity for contrition and change about the matter than Reinstein is (though he still needs to change his signature).

In summary, all of the discussion about how to persuade people to change their opinions about quizbowl is irrelevant, because that was not the substance or purpose of that exchange. The point of that was to show, by the most direct means possible, that certain modes of interaction--especially, the use of mockery against the very idea of discussing things--are not going to be allowed here, and people have the choice of either getting a blast of feedback from the board staff to try to get an immediate and strong message through to them, or simply having their posts and their posting privileges disappeared Argentine-style in very short order. I have found that the former approach encourages more openness about the policies, more transparency in the staffers' decisions, more incentive for others to avoid emulating the bad behavior, and less comparisons to censorship; those who disagree may continue to explain why.

It's a fact, incidentally, that there is a large correlation between supporting bad quizbowl and being the target of staff action on this board for violating the rules. The semi-spoken premise in some comments is that we are using board positions specifically to enforce an ideological agenda. This is, of course, not the case. What is the case is that good quizbowl isn't considered good just because it's some rooting section we arbitrarily signed up for. It actually is the superior position according to all the evidence and argument. That means that people who are wedded to the opposing position naturally gravitate towards weak arguments, anti-arguments, and evasive behavior of various kinds. What is absolutely the biggest way that this manifests is in people who can't hold their own in a discussion crying "civility" over the idea of a discussion existing.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by centralhs »

As someone completely outside this discussion but as someone who reads these boards frequently and has skimmed the Masonic thread, I have made the following conclusions: Mark Grant was no more rude than Matt Weiner was. New posters on the board are no more responsible for their online behavior than more experienced posters (especially not more than the board administrators who, rather than being positive role models in this regard, are often the worst offenders.) There is never, ever any excuse in mature, adult discourse for calling someone names such as "liar" or accusing someone of being a bad math teacher if you've never been a student in his math class. Mark Grant has apologized for his behavior; Matt Weiner most likely won't.

On a more general note, I agree with a number of previous posters in this thread (some students, some coaches) that the hostile atmosphere that exists on this board keeps it from being the useful tool that it could be to the larger quiz bowl community, and not just to the relatively small "core" of people (mostly college students) that currently post on it frequently. I believe that many people are afraid to post questions or comments on the board for fear that their opinions/comments will be met with hostility or even outright personal attacks (as seems to happen all too frequently.) Surely this is not the atmosphere that the administration of this board believes is helpful to the quiz bowl community?

I would like to see the overall tone of this board become much more civil and for the posters on the board (yes, even the adminstrators) to be much less quick to leap to mockery and sarcasm. Everyone needs to be treated as if they have an equal right to have an opinion, whether they are involved in their first week of quiz bowl or whether they have been involved for 20 years. We would all be a whole lot better off if everyone would just remember a simple rule: "If you wouldn't say something straight to a person's face, you probably shouldn't be saying it online either."

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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by Matt Weiner »

centralhs wrote:There is never, ever any excuse in mature, adult discourse for calling someone names such as "liar"
OK, let's talk about this proposition. I have the following questions for you, in the spirit of reasonable discussion, and I am genuinely interested in your answers to each one, as I have found you to be one of the more thoughtful coaches who post here.

Given that it is a fact that Grant said he was running the "best tournament possible," and that he was using Questions Galore questions:
1) Do you believe that it is even potentially true that the "best tournament possible" can be run on Questions Galore questions?
2) If not, was his statement a lie?
3) If so, is he a liar?
4) If so, why is it unjustified to call him such?
Everyone needs to be treated as if they have an equal right to have an opinion, whether they are involved in their first week of quiz bowl or whether they have been involved for 20 years.
Everyone has a right to an opinion, but that does not mean said opinion is legitimate. Would you go to a tournament run by somebody who reinvented quizbowl after hearing about it last week?
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by Down and out in Quintana Roo »

centralhs wrote:We would all be a whole lot better off if everyone would just remember a simple rule: "If you wouldn't say something straight to a person's face, you probably shouldn't be saying it online either."
This is the best thing said on this thread so far. I don't want to comment much on this whole issue (it really is quite stupid and Matt should apologize after Mr. Grant's apology), but i just wanted to point out this statement as the smartest thing anyone's said so far.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by Matt Weiner »

Actually, that's been a board rule for a long time and I wrote it!
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by Stained Diviner »

Shcool wrote:I stated that it is wrong to draw the conclusion that somebody is a poor teacher and role model based on one decision and some internet posts, and Matt's response was that he made a decision and some internet posts. Yes he did, and bad ones at that.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by Stained Diviner »

Shcool wrote:New posters are new posters, and they post some stupid things...I am not saying that Grant was right and Weiner was wrong.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by Matt Weiner »

OK, but you did say that a bunch of times, so you can't erase it by then saying "and I'm not saying that." E.g., in the very two posts you self-quote above:

viewtopic.php?p=170348#p170348
Shcool wrote:I also think that Matt's attempts to protect the people on this forum from bullies are a bit misguided. Who, exactly, was being bullied on this forum by Grant and/or me, and how were they being adversely affected?
viewtopic.php?p=170466#p170466
Shcool wrote:Also, I am still baffled by the charge of bullying.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by Stained Diviner »

Making wrong and sarcastic comments is not bullying. Coach Grant said some things that he shouldn't have said, and everybody including Grant and myself realizes that, and we have explicitly said so. He did not bully anybody because he has no power on this board, real or perceived, so he could not have bullied anybody. That is why I remain baffled that somebody considers his actions to be bullying.

The issue I am trying to address, and that you have not addressed, is how moderators should react to bad posts by newbies. The reason that this incident makes a good case study for this issue is that there were in fact bad posts by a newbie. You set up a false dilemma by saying that moderators could either behave like you do or delete the posts they don't like, even though every other moderator on the board seems to understand that it is possible to address the problem of bad posts in a better manner. You also state that the primary purpose of this site is not to welcome people, which is a straw man--this site could be more welcoming without making that its primary purpose.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by Matt Weiner »

The other moderators are much, much more free with the bans than I am. I can go through the logs and get an exact count at some point, but I've been an admin since I started the boards in 2003, and even people who have been on staff for less than three years have each banned 5 to 10 as many people as I have. Believe me, there are things that go on that you don't see, and there really are only a few options that can prevent the board from becoming completely worthless in the anarchic environment that you imply would be preferable.

If you don't agree that Grant's attempt to shout and mock down any attempt at discourse at all, of any opinion or politeness level, constituted an attempt to bulldoze his way into getting behavior and/or opinions accepted that otherwise would not be, then we are not discussing the same issue, which is: why such behavior is never allowed, and how it is appropriate for me or other board staffers to respond to such behavior.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by Whiter Hydra »

Matt Weiner wrote:Given that it is a fact that Grant said he was running the "best tournament possible," and that he was using Questions Galore questions:
1) Do you believe that it is even potentially true that the "best tournament possible" can be run on Questions Galore questions?
2) If not, was his statement a lie?
3) If so, is he a liar?
4) If so, why is it unjustified to call him such?
Just because some makes a statement that is a lie does not mean that he is a liar. The former implies one false statement; the latter accuses one of always committing falsehoods. By claiming someone is a liar, one is essentially saying that nothing the poster says has any credence whatsoever.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by Stained Diviner »

I'm not sure why you claim to be in favor of intelligent debate on the one hand and describe my ideas as anarchic on the other hand. If you are in favor of intelligent debate, then let's engage in intelligent debate.

You are correct that there is a lot that goes on here that I don't see, and hopefully if I am wrong, then somebody will explain to me why I am wrong.

In the Masonic thread, you said
And the point of people who aren't idiots is that if Questions Galore or Avery questions are what you want (and apparently they are, as you are defending and paying for them) then you are incapable of being a quizbowl coach or an educator in any meaningful way.
And that's one quote out of several.

Besides the possibly unimportant question of why you believe that somebody who makes a mistake is incapable of being an educator, do you believe that your response was an ideal response? Do you believe that the only options available to you are banning, personal attacks, or anarchy? Did you believe that your post was going to move the discussion in a positive direction, or were you just throwing bombs?
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

Moreover, I think you're assuming insincerity when it's not necessarily appropriate. (I understand your distrust generally for the class of people who make a certain kind of statement, and I'm willing to believe that it is, in fact, appropriate, but I'm not sure that public dealings with people ought to reflect that.)

Coach Grant's sole criterion for making this the best tournament possible is making this the best mimic of Masonics possible. At least, that is what he has suggested at least once. So that means that he is not lying by saying that he wants to make this the best tournament possible, per him (admittedly, initially private) criterion. He merely has a criterion that productive discussion would tease out as being not a great criterion. Instead of productive discussion to tease out by what criterion he thought it was a great idea to do something the community generally thinks dumb, we assumed bad faith on his part (perhaps because he made posting decisions he admits were bad) and called him a liar and the situation went to hell.

I think it's the job of the board staff to be adults even when other people aren't being adults. Even when other people appear to be being two-faced or at best misguided, we have to engage them earnestly, and we could do well to rely on members who know the people in question in off-board contexts to judge whether it's possible that they're not, on the whole, terrible people (even if the character witnesses first cited something about winning an IHSA championship for some reason, others said well, he's hosted a number of pyramidal tournaments).
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by Dresden_The_BIG_JERK »

Dr. Isaac Yankem, DDS wrote:
centralhs wrote:We would all be a whole lot better off if everyone would just remember a simple rule: "If you wouldn't say something straight to a person's face, you probably shouldn't be saying it online either."
This is the best thing said on this thread so far. I don't want to comment much on this whole issue (it really is quite stupid and Matt should apologize after Mr. Grant's apology), but i just wanted to point out this statement as the smartest thing anyone's said so far.
Matt Weiner wrote:Actually, that's been a board rule for a long time and I wrote it!
If I'm interpreting this correctly this means you would, in real life, go up to someone you scarcely know and call them a liar, a poor authority figure and bad at their job? That is just cold. Even if you say your goal is possibly to improve the community in general by weeding out what you perceive to be bad eggs, I think that goes a little too far. This is filtering out bad eggs by stomping on any cartons with a vaguely questionable constituent.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by mrgsmath »

Matt Weiner wrote:Given that it is a fact that Grant said he was running the "best tournament possible," and that he was using Questions Galore questions:
I must make a firm correction here. This is not only completely out of context, but a gross misrepresentation of the facts.

I never contended that "the best tournament possible" could be attained through use of QG, nor would I suggest that any question source could be the basis for such a claim. The point I was making, and I suggest you reread my comments minus the firery retoric, was that having made the decision to host a Masonic Sectional, I felt the that in order to make it the best tournament possible (meaning from an operational standpoint) I would use QG as the source for the morning rounds of my invitiational. Rounds that would only impact seeding and not the outcome of the afternoon brackets. The views on the Masonic format as well as their supplier of questions was a decision made by the sponsor and not by me.
One could argue that I shouldn't have agreed to host, but to suggest that once that decision was made, I not attempt to run it smoothly is absurd, and reflects the viewpoint of someone who desires its eventual failure, a view I might add that has been clearly implied if not clearly stated.

I felt I was doing my moderators and staff a service by allowing them to enter a competition with some idea of what to expect. I further felt that it would also help the coaches and participants do a better job in their roles.
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Re: Why we can't have nice things

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

Coach Grant, what's your position here regarding the relationship between your chosen question source and the "operational" side of a tournament? I've run totally smooth tournaments on pyramidal high school and college questions, so I'm not sure in what respects using QG makes the tournament smoother.
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