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Moving up the dates of low-difficulty tournaments in 2015

Posted: Tue Aug 19, 2014 7:51 pm
by Matt Weiner
So, it's too late to do anything about this in the current year, but something that's periodically come up is that the fall novice event and ACF Fall run too late in the calendar to effectively serve as an "introduction" to quizbowl.

Part of the reason is just inertia -- Fall debuted as a late October/early November event because it wasn't originally conceived as being just for new players. Part of it is an unreasonable catering to a small handful of schools who are not on the same calendar as the rest of the continent. Part of it is what I feel is a very counterproductive attitude towards new players and teams. Previous attempts at getting Collegiate Novice moved to an early-mid September date range have met pushback from people claiming we need to give newly organized programs "more time' to organize for attending a tournament.

As I have emphasized in discussions of this point elsewhere, I feel this is completely the opposite of the message we should be sending. Going to a tournament is easy -- you get in a car and go. The cost is something like $15 per person for Collegiate Novice or its successor. Telling people that it takes weeks and weeks of mysterious "planning" and "fundraising" is what leads to freshmen thinking that starting a quizbowl team is some sort of Herculean task. The reality is also that we're sacrificing a lot of the potential recruitment value for existing teams in the service of largely hypothetical new teams who are not even being helped by this arrangement. If the point of Novice is to have a low-impact, easy, brief tournament that you can bring your recruits do so they decide they want to participate in quizbowl, then having to hold on to those recruits for 4-6 weeks of an empty calendar is not helping that goal.

Besides that, there are some fairly obvious negatives of letting easy events go 1-3 months into the semester. The window for regular tournaments shrinks untenably. Any "introductory" function of ACF Fall is undercut by the fact that teams attend 2 or more regular difficulty tournaments before Fall happens. We waste the first two months of the year before non-novices have anything to play.

I think that in 2015, we should cut off Novice sites at September 19 and host ACF Fall on October 3. This will avoid conflicts between novice and regular tournaments caused by squeezing the whole semester of college quizbowl into eight weeks, allow novices at 95% of schools to have a tournament to play rather than six weeks of practices without actual quizbowl competition, and put events in their proper sequence for Novice and Fall to serve introductory functions.

Re: Moving up the dates of low-difficulty tournaments in 201

Posted: Tue Aug 19, 2014 7:58 pm
by Cheynem
I'm very much in agreement of Novice and have mixed feelings about Fall.

At least for our program, I noticed that recruiting went in waves. You'd get the glut of people at the beginning, who would play Novice, but you would also get in people who came in like mid October because their friend said it was fun or they had some more time now that the initial rush of college was done or what have you. It was nice having Fall there for those players; I am not sure how many other teams notice this trend. I also noted (in a gut observation) that I don't think the delay in Fall really killed off any interest in newer players in October.

Re: Moving up the dates of low-difficulty tournaments in 201

Posted: Tue Aug 19, 2014 8:16 pm
by Victor Prieto
In addition to agreeing with what Mike says, if ACF Fall was moved a month back, the earliest deadline would also be moved back a month to about August 9th. I believe many programs (including my own) may not be sure on what team composition will be like for ACF Fall, making packet writing tricky (even if it is only half-packets). As it is right now, we only have two and a half weeks between our club's opening meeting and the first deadline to decide team composition and write half a packet.

Re: Moving up the dates of low-difficulty tournaments in 201

Posted: Tue Aug 19, 2014 8:56 pm
by Rococo A Go Go
Collegiate Novice nearly didn't happen this year (and certainly didn't in its expected form) and isn't guaranteed to keep happening. If people are so intent on having such a tournament each year, one idea would be to re-purpose Novice as an official ACF tournament that runs in September, but make packet-sub optional and maintain eligibility restrictions. Some of the people who want to write for a novice tournament each year will probably continue to contribute, only now with official ACF backing and an editorial team that will actually stay intact throughout the summer.

This can free up October and November for regular tournaments, with ACF Fall taking place around the same time but at regular-minus difficulty. The point of keeping ACF Fall as packet submission was to teach new teams that writing packets are important, and while this is certainly the case, it is also important to teach new teams that after the beginning of the season they should play something harder than novice questions.

If people really want to play an easy tournament in November, I think Delta Burke seems to consistently happen every year.

Re: Moving up the dates of low-difficulty tournaments in 201

Posted: Tue Aug 19, 2014 9:10 pm
by The Dance of Sorrow
The Novice change in particular would be really bad for schools like us on the quarter system, where in 2015 in particular for us freshmen aren't even moved in until the 17th and classes don't start until the 24th of September.

Re: Moving up the dates of low-difficulty tournaments in 201

Posted: Tue Aug 19, 2014 9:33 pm
by Auroni
Yeah don't move Fall up (as a person who goes to a school on the quarter system, I)

Re: Moving up the dates of low-difficulty tournaments in 201

Posted: Tue Aug 19, 2014 9:40 pm
by coldstonesteveaustin
This move would not be good for schools on a quarter system and start late. For example, UCLA starts on October 2.

Re: Moving up the dates of low-difficulty tournaments in 201

Posted: Tue Aug 19, 2014 10:01 pm
by njsbling
Yes- as others have mentioned- (for example) all of the University of California schools (except for Berkeley) are on the Quarter system and start in late September (same with non-UC schools such as Stanford and CalTech).

I would imagine the "mysterious "planning" that Matt is referring to teams actually meeting and finding a few new people who might be interested. If school starts on (e.g.) Sept 27 you can't possibly have a team of new people together to form a team by (e.g.) Sept 29.

Re: Moving up the dates of low-difficulty tournaments in 201

Posted: Tue Aug 19, 2014 10:05 pm
by Rococo A Go Go
Very few schools actually use the quarter system, and those that do seem to be concentrated in California, which can do their own thing. Planning a national schedule around the quirks of a small minority of teams is not exactly feasible.

Re: Moving up the dates of low-difficulty tournaments in 201

Posted: Tue Aug 19, 2014 10:21 pm
by vinteuil
What would be the biggest downsides of having two slightly desynchronized schedules, one for semester-system schools and one for quarter-system schools?

Re: Moving up the dates of low-difficulty tournaments in 201

Posted: Tue Aug 19, 2014 10:25 pm
by at your pleasure
njsbling wrote:Yes- as others have mentioned- (for example) all of the University of California schools (except for Berkeley) are on the Quarter system and start in late September (same with non-UC schools such as Stanford and CalTech).

I would imagine the "mysterious "planning" that Matt is referring to teams actually meeting and finding a few new people who might be interested. If school starts on (e.g.) Sept 27 you can't possibly have a team of new people together to form a team by (e.g.) Sept 29.
I mean, the one other clutch of quarter-system schools in the Upper Midwest just run an extra delayed mirror in late September/early October (it's functionally pretty much entirely Chicago, OSU, and Northwestern but it gets the job done) and I don't see why the California schools can't just do the same.
vinteuil wrote:What would be the biggest downsides of having two slightly desynchronized schedules, one for semester-system schools and one for quarter-system schools?
Eh, I don't really see it being necessary for anything besides these two tournaments and delayed mirrors should solve most of the problems with ICCS and quarter-system schools at least.

Re: Moving up the dates of low-difficulty tournaments in 201

Posted: Tue Aug 19, 2014 10:34 pm
by njsbling
According to viewtopic.php?f=21&t=14462, out of the 17 collegiate novice tournaments last year there were 12 (70%) that were held in September. That means that in most of the country outside the west coast there was all of October and November (and part of December) to run non-novice events. What's the problem with this? What's wrong with (for example) running Novice in late-September, 1-2 regionals-level events in October, ACF Fall in early November, and another regionals-level (or higher) event in mid/late November?

Re: Moving up the dates of low-difficulty tournaments in 201

Posted: Tue Aug 19, 2014 10:37 pm
by at your pleasure
njsbling wrote: I would imagine the "mysterious "planning" that Matt is referring to teams actually meeting and finding a few new people who might be interested.
I think this was more in reference to the common advice that new teams should be doing things like figuring out room booking, getting official student organization status, planning tournaments, buying buzzers, etc. before they start going to tournaments even though you don't need to do any of these to start a team(just get 4 people together and start going to tournaments) and most of these are quite substantial projects better undertaken when the team has been up and running for a while.

Re: Moving up the dates of low-difficulty tournaments in 201

Posted: Tue Aug 19, 2014 10:54 pm
by Steeve Ho You Fat
at your pleasure wrote:
njsbling wrote:Yes- as others have mentioned- (for example) all of the University of California schools (except for Berkeley) are on the Quarter system and start in late September (same with non-UC schools such as Stanford and CalTech).

I would imagine the "mysterious "planning" that Matt is referring to teams actually meeting and finding a few new people who might be interested. If school starts on (e.g.) Sept 27 you can't possibly have a team of new people together to form a team by (e.g.) Sept 29.
I mean, the one other clutch of quarter-system schools in the Upper Midwest just run an extra delayed mirror in late September/early October (it's functionally pretty much entirely Chicago, OSU, and Northwestern but it gets the job done) and I don't see why the California schools can't just do the same.
OSU joined the modern world and switched to semesters a few years ago, but Doug is correct - places with an unusually large number of quarter system schools can have delayed mirrors, and the rest of the country can have mirrors at a more reasonable time for the large majority of schools.

Re: Moving up the dates of low-difficulty tournaments in 201

Posted: Tue Aug 19, 2014 11:04 pm
by Matt Weiner
Yeah, what we have right now is everyone doing things way too late because of California and two schools in Chicago rather than letting those places figure out their situations.
njsbling wrote:What's the problem with this? What's wrong with (for example) running Novice in late-September, 1-2 regionals-level events in October, ACF Fall in early November, and another regionals-level (or higher) event in mid/late November?
The problem is that if one views ACF Fall as an introductory tournament, you are potentially turning people off to it by only having regular tournaments first, and if you successfully "introduce" people to anything, you have MAYBE one more tournament between ACF Fall and the middle of January. If we don't believe that this is what ACF Fall is for, then that's different, but almost everyone seems to be operating under this assumption. The other problems are as above -- regular tournaments competing with novice for dates and poor use being made of that September/October space in regions where it should be available.

I also am less than sympathetic to the packet-writing issue -- new teams don't have to write packets, and experienced teams, even experienced teams that are still playing ACF Fall, should be encouraged to make the process of "figuring out who is playing and writing an easy packet" far less complicated than they currently do. This is similar to the issue with overcomplicating the difficulty of getting to Novice -- part of the reason people don't write packets anymore is that we treat it like some huge undertaking. Writing 6/6 ACF Fall level questions should be anything but a big challenge, for the people who are required to do it. Sending the message that "this is so simple that you can, in fact, work it out online over the summer and get it done around the time your semester starts" is a positive good, in my opinion.

Re: Moving up the dates of low-difficulty tournaments in 201

Posted: Tue Aug 19, 2014 11:29 pm
by njsbling
For how long has ACF Fall been in early November?

When you say "The problem is that if one views ACF Fall as an introductory tournament, you are potentially turning people off to it by only having regular tournaments first, and if you successfully "introduce" people to anything, you have MAYBE one more tournament between ACF Fall and the middle of January" => has this been an issue for several years or is this only a recent concern? Wouldn't Novice in late Sept be considered a sufficient introduction and ACF Fall be considered an easier-level tournament for the fall (similar to how MUT is an easier-level event for the spring)?

Re: Moving up the dates of low-difficulty tournaments in 201

Posted: Tue Aug 19, 2014 11:35 pm
by Matt Weiner
I think this issue has been brewing for at least as long as the current system of widely mirrored, collaboratively edited tournaments has been in place (since 2007 or so). Prior to that, you had a lot more fragmented local events all over the calendar. We've seen a lot less redundant work and an increase in standards/quality as a result of doing things the way we do now, but at the expense of number of events and access to normal quizbowl for average players.

Re: Moving up the dates of low-difficulty tournaments in 201

Posted: Wed Aug 20, 2014 12:36 am
by Amizda Calyx
The west coast is already shafted by the dearth of HS teams playing good quizbowl and by the distances between schools. At least at UW, the vast majority of new people have never heard of quizbowl and it takes a while to get them accustomed to the format, so moving up Fall and Novice would mean teams already struggling at recruiting would miss out on two valuable introductory tournaments. I don't know if Mike Bentley has any input on the feasibility of hosting a DB mirror or something in November, but Fall at least shouldn't be moved up (especially since it usually happens to be UW's Exciting Trip to Boise that really strengthens team bonds...)

Re: Moving up the dates of low-difficulty tournaments in 201

Posted: Wed Aug 20, 2014 3:07 am
by Unicolored Jay
I took a look at the list of universities that still operate on the quarter system; here is the list of those with quizbowl programs (that I know of):

Chicago
Dartmouth
Northwestern
Stanford
UCLA
UCSD
Washington

The full list is dominated by universities on the west coast, so in those areas it would make sense to have delayed Collegiate Novice mirrors in early October. Maybe a late mirror would be helpful for Dartmouth, Chicago, and Northwestern, but I'm not sure if it would help a lot of other schools - very few people tend to join quizbowl teams mid-semester.

Re: Moving up the dates of low-difficulty tournaments in 201

Posted: Wed Aug 20, 2014 12:10 pm
by The Dance of Sorrow
If it's possible, I wouldn't be against a delayed mirror in the Midwest, even if it's just a bunch of Chicago and Northwestern teams going at it. Some quizbowl is better than no quizbowl, and that way we wouldn't be holding back everybody else on the semester system.

Re: Moving up the dates of low-difficulty tournaments in 201

Posted: Wed Aug 20, 2014 3:07 pm
by Jason Cheng
Unicolored Jay wrote: The full list is dominated by universities on the west coast, so in those areas it would make sense to have delayed Collegiate Novice mirrors in early October. Maybe a late mirror would be helpful for Dartmouth, Chicago, and Northwestern, but I'm not sure if it would help a lot of other schools - very few people tend to join quizbowl teams mid-semester.
I know that one specific case isn't indicative of anything, but UCSD's active membership almost tripled in size last year (7 or so new members, deemed active by the fact that they went to multiple practices and team activities) over the course of the year. Our main problem was that we didn't have a whole lot of competitions for these new eager members to attend, especially with the reduced slate of events hosted in the West Coast. I agree that having more flexible tournament dates for certain regions with schools on stupid academic schedules would be extremely helpful in that regard.

Re: Moving up the dates of low-difficulty tournaments in 201

Posted: Thu Aug 21, 2014 4:50 pm
by ValenciaQBowl
Delta Burke seems to consistently happen every year.
"Seems"????? How dare you, sir! Delta Burke has happened every November since 1998, back when your "university's" mascot was just a piece of red lint.