Earning respect from the community

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magin
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Earning respect from the community

Post by magin »

There hasn't been much discussion recently, so I thought I'd try to elucidate how people earn respect in the quizbowl community. When I say "respect," I mean something like "the good opinion of the people who participate in/care about quizbowl, especially the ones with the most perspective." I'll start by assuming, rightly or wrongly, that people enter college quizbowl with basically neutral reputations. Acting like assholes at tournaments or online causes people to lose respect, as does deliberately writing poor questions (of course, new teams/players are exempt from this, since learning how to write good questions takes experience), backing out of commitments, and probably a few other things I can't remember right now. So, if someone wants to gain respect in the quizbowl community, those are all things to avoid (also, notice that all of the above involve doing disrespectful things consciously; people may not know that they're being jerks or breaking important commitments until they've been told they have, but once that happens, you don't get a bye on disrespectful behavior).

So, then, how do you get respect in the quizbowl community? I don't have absolute answers to that question, but I'll throw out some ideas and examine them.

First, by writing and/or editing good questions/packets/tournaments. By good questions, I mean pyramidal tossups containing useful clues (Jerry's "How to Write Questions" thread provides a pretty good definition of a useful clue), answers appropriate to their audience, and easy/medium/hard bonuses that use prose clues to put important and interesting facts about the answer in context so players can learn them; by good packets and good tournaments, I mean packets and tournaments consisting of the above definition of good questions. In my opinion, this is the best way to earn the respect of the quizbowl community; it creates the most benefits, and it produces useful packets to practice on for teams throughout the country and in the future. It benefits both the current quizbowl community and the future quizbowl community.

Secondly, attending both good and appropriate tournaments. Although I don't think teams lose respect by not showing up to certain tournaments, they certainly gain respect from showing up to tournaments that have good questions. However, since showing up to tournaments is less beneficial to the quizbowl community than writing/editing good tournaments, it correspondingly earns a player/team less respect. Also, by appropriate tournaments, I mean tournaments at or above a player/team's skill level; going to a harder tournament will earn you respect, but going to novice tournaments as a top player will lose you respect (although there might be situations where people want to play other than to beat up weaker competition).

Thirdly, attempting to write questions/edit tournaments. It's understandable that people or programs new to tournaments may be wary of writing questions or editing their own tournaments, especially if they fear vitriolic criticism. However, people understand that new college players won't be able to write good questions or edit good tournaments immediately; usually, more experienced players are encouraged when new teams attempt to write good packets/edit good tournaments even if the questions aren't great, and are willing to give feedback in order that people can improve as writers. I think attempting to write questions and edit good tournaments, even if they aren't good, earns players more respect than just going to good tournaments, because questions last forever to practice on.

Fourthly, being a good player, whether measured in PPG, winning tournaments, or whatever statistic you want. Being a good player, especially on difficult questions, is undoubtedly impressive, as is winning tournaments against strong competition. However, I think that being a good player earns one less respect than writing good questions and much less respect than editing good tournaments. After all, one could conceivably be a tremendous player, but write or edit no questions; I would respect such a person significantly less than a mediocre player with an excellent reputation as a writer and editor. Being a good player doesn't really contribute to the quizbowl community on a material level (producing questions), it just leads to personal success at tournaments. While worthy of some respect, tournament success is thus much less important than writing or (especially) editing good questions.

I don't want this post to be taken to mean "if you don't attempt to gain respect by writing/editing/attending good tournaments, we won't respect you." Of course, people who choose not to do those things should not be disrespected. However, if you want to gain respect from the quizbowl community, then writing/editing/attending good tournaments are the way to earn it.
Jonathan Magin
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Re: Earning respect from the community

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

I think there's a lot to be said for not being a stat dropper in any real substantive way. I mean, people rarely care about how cool your 101 ppg is, especially if its not at something like ACF nationals. This goes to for wins and losses. This may just be me, but whenever someone gets too hung up on stats or winning it just rubs me the wrong way. I mean, winning is cool and all, but I don't think people really care if you lose. So I guess in summary it's a game for fun, you don't have to be the best to be respected. I think a lot of people don't realize that.
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Re: Earning respect from the community

Post by Mr. Kwalter »

I'm not entirely sure what prompted Jonathan to post this, but I completely agree with him. I can say that when an ACF editor unexpectedly receives a good packet from a relatively unknown player, he certainly makes note of it. There was one ACF Fall packet that I received this year that immediately caused me to earmark its author as a potential future ACF editor. Matt Weiner was similarly impressed by one of the packets submitted to Penn Bowl and reacted the same way. Professional respect is earned at least in part by working hard to submit your best work to tournaments at which you intend to play.

That being said, there is also a real premium put on the desire to be involved and improve one's writing skills. Even if you don't start out well, you can earn respect by approaching people who do know what they're doing and asking for help, or simply just volunteering to do things many people may not necessarily want to do. Just as in any other working environment, you have to pay your dues, and sometimes that means editing or hosting/staffing a tournament you might really want to play.

I'm not sure how many people there are out there who lie awake at night dreaming of Jerry Vinokurov's approval (though I know I do), but for those of you who do want to be more than just weekend warriors, it's not so difficult; if you're willing to work hard to get better and improve the circuit as a whole, people will notice and respect you for it.
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Re: Earning respect from the community

Post by grapesmoker »

I agree with Jonathan's list, but I would say that "being a good player" is by far the least important "respect" factor. There are people out there who are good editors and writers and are not necessarily great players. I think doing things that benefit the quizbowl community is far more important than simply having high stat-lines; in fact, I can't think of all that many players who are respected in the game and who also don't spend a lot of time improving the circuit through editing, writing, and hosting.

edit: this post brought to you by the Redundant Department of Redundancy Affairs. In my defense, I just woke up.
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Re: Earning respect from the community

Post by Dennis »

I think there's also something to be said for "respecting" those who help encourage others, particularly younger players, to continue to work hard and stay involved in quiz bowl. I think it's easy for new college quiz bowl players to be discouraged from quiz bowl, after even a practice or two, if there are a lot of answers they've never heard of. This remains true after they attend tournaments and don't necessarily score a bunch of points; while one's PPG is obviously not the defining characteristic of one's worth in quiz bowl, I feel it's something newer players can easily look at and see whether they're improving or not and whether this is something they want to continue to participate in. Things like encouraging newer players, even when they make mistakes, putting obscure things into context so that they're not Greek to newer players (unless they actually are Greek), and helping them learn things like how to write good questions, etc., are all things that I think are important for those who are heavily involved in quiz bowl to try to do to keep others involved as well. It's only after newer players stay around long enough to have a feel for the game before they can help writing lots of questions or editing tournaments.

On a related point, I feel that the opposite (sort of? It's late) is also just as important--if you're not going to encourage them, at the very least, you don't have to discourage them. Perhaps discourage is a little strong, but anything along the lines of trial by fire or implying that one's usefulness on a team is measured by his or her PPG belongs here. While I would "respect" those who try to engage newer players or encourage more experienced players to contribute more by writing/editing questions, I also would have much, much less "respect" for those who somehow prevent others from enjoying quiz bowl or from having a reason to continue playing. After all, everyone who's reading this forum is going to graduate at some point, and it's important that everyone, not only those who have been playing quiz bowl forever, try to encourage others to continue with quiz bowl.
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Re: Earning respect from the community

Post by alkrav112 »

I think perhaps the thing that garners the most respect from the quizbowl community (or, at least, from me) is striking that difficult balance between being a good player and being a good person/having good sportsmanship. You can edit like the devil, post 140 ppg, and show up to 9 consecutive ACF Nats, but if you throw tantrums every round or make no effort to be at least cordial to those around you, it becomes difficult to earn respect.
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Re: Earning respect from the community

Post by Mr. Kwalter »

I'm not sure if you've ever been to ACF nationals, Andy, but since I started attending three years ago I have heard of few to no incidents involving violent outbursts and/or unsportsmanlike conduct. We all like to joke about how people like Jerry go crazy and throw chairs and get mad at quizbowl, but while many of us have been guilty of the occasional expletive or inappropriate scolding of a teammate, truly unsportsmanlike conduct almost never comes from the people who edit like the devil, post 140 ppg, and regularly attend ACF nationals. You're right, petulant behavior doesn't have a place in quizbowl and can seriously undermine one's entitlement to respect. That being said, I think it is inappropriate to imply that the people to whom many in this thread have been referring are guilty of such monkey business.
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Re: Earning respect from the community

Post by alkrav112 »

Kit Cloudkicker wrote:getting defensive
Yeah, I've been to Nats and had a great time. I didn't mean to imply that all the aforementioned mischief occurred at that tournament, nor did I mean to suggest that any particular person who is good at quiz bowl is also bad at sportsmanship. What I meant was that, in my book, the first step toward earning respect from the qb community isn't getting ridiculously good; rather, it's getting to know people. I suppose what I ought to have said is this: I would respect a 10 PPG player with a great attitude more than a 100 PPG player with a temper problem. All that said, I think an exemplum of quiz bowl respectability is Seth Teitler - someone who has not only reached the top of the game in a program with a great history, but who is a genuinely nice guy to boot.
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Re: Earning respect from the community

Post by Maxwell Sniffingwell »

alkrav112 wrote:All that said, I think an exemplum of quiz bowl respectability is Seth Teitler - someone who has not only reached the top of the game in a program with a great history, but who is a genuinely nice guy to boot.
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Re: Earning respect from the community

Post by First Chairman »

I was going to say... I think earning respect means treating others with respect. Even better: encouraging others with more respect and keeping things real...

While all the other points are important, I don't think getting to a magical number of stats or questions gets you respect: it's the willingness to learn from others and strive to improve or connect that gets one noticed.

Listening skills is certainly something that helps get you respect in the real world, and quiz bowl is no different. Being able to accept responsibility and share credit gets you a good amount of respect too.
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