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Reforming Tournament and Set Announcements

Posted: Sun Mar 08, 2020 9:21 pm
by meebles127
As it currently stands, when announcing a tournament or a set a post is made here on the forums. Individual tournament announcements can vary significantly in terms of content which can be extremely confusing to teams, particularly those that are new. It is also very possible for an outsider to come across an argument about a set's distribution while being extremely confused as to what a distribution actually is. This is unacceptable and in order to continue to increase the efficacy of our outreach efforts, major reforms regarding tournament and set announcements need to be made. My own outreach efforts, as well as those of others, have been hindered by the decentralized way in which tournaments are announced and this is something that's extremely actionable that could be used to help increase our reach. It can also be difficult for new teams to find tournaments leading to teams only attending NAQT tournaments, which can be very few and far between in some regions.

Within the last couple of years the World Cube Association (WCA), the governing body that oversees speedcubing, led an effort to create a sanitized clearinghouse for all competition announcements and registrations. Prior to these efforts, announcements were all over the place and it was difficult to find out about competitions that were happening. I believe that quizbowl could stand to borrow some things from the speedcubing community and create our own clearinghouse for tournament and set announcements. As our needs vary from those of cubing we obviously would make modifications from things that they do. I realize that a database already exists at but it could stand to be reformed to make quizbowl look more professional and again, increase the efficacy of our outreach efforts.

The most important thing that I believe could stand to be borrowed from the WCA is some version of their competition listing and registration system. If you look at the "competitions" tab of the WCA website. See Here. When you are on this page you are immediately presented with the ability to search for competitions by event, region, delegate, and text. Quizbowl could create a searchable system using similar metrics. You would want to divide tournament levels in Middle School, High School, College, Open, and Trash, then have the ability to search by distance, state, set, etc. This would provide an extremely easy, and user- friendly way for people to find tournaments and make decisions about their attendance. Additionally, the WCA provides a map that updates based upon the criteria selected by the end-user. If this were a feature it would be extremely easy for someone to clearly view the tournaments that are near them. Additionally, if you include set used as a searchable feature, it would enable teams that might be traveling long distances to choose a site that might be closer to them they wouldn't have originally happened upon.

Even more powerful than a search system for tournaments, which actually already exists thanks to Matt Mitchell's QBNotify, would be a place to convey the information that tournament announcements on the forums do in a centralized and standard manner. This is where I suggest that you take a look at the WCA's information page for competitions. See Here. When I open this tab, I know exactly where this competition is happening, when it is happening, who I contact with questions, along with other stuff that you can garner from looking at the page. Quizbowl could borrow from this by creating a system where tournament directors could make a page, similar to how they already do, and filling out a form that lists all of the relevant information for tournaments such as location, set, field caps, discounts, etc. This would present all of the information about a tournament in a standardized format making it extremely easy to parse that information.

In addition to providing this information, a registration system could also be implemented making it easier for teams to register for tournaments and be aware of the current field of a tournament without having to rely on a tournament director to update the original post in a forums announcement. The WCA has a registration system, allowing competitors to register in an easy and streamlined manner. See Here. This page shows the registration requirements and allows competitors to select the event they wish to compete in. This screenshot already has a lot of information pre-filled due to my own preferences on this website, and the fact that I hold an account. Quizbowl could create a system that allows teams to fill out a form indicating their school, rosters, any discounts they intend to claim, while also providing contact information. With cubing, once a registration is made the competition organizer is required to manually approve it before it can appear on the site. Implementing a feature like this would allow tournament directors to approve registrations to ensure that erroneous registrations don't appear in the field. I personally, would not include rosters in the public-facing field but allow TDs to view them in order to make easier work for the individual running statistics at a tournament. Of course, I would allow rosters to be modfied up until a certain date by the person who originally submitted the registration.

As far as set announcements go, a section for available sets where information about the head editor, mirror coordinator (or equivalent), subject editors, writers, difficulty, distribution, a list of mirrors (perhaps with a map?), etc. could be made in order to present information about a set in a clear and coherent manner. This also creates a significantly more professional vibe because you avoid parents, coaches, or even administrators from running into a forums post that has a nasty back and forth between individuals.

Now, of course, you run into the question of "why in the world would I use this system" when a (broken) system for tournament announcements already exists? Social Pressure. I would require tournament announcements to be made in this system rather than on the forums. Additionally, I would place pressure on head editors to require the use of this system in order to mirror their sets. This would eliminate any excuse to not use the system and create a much more professional front for quizbowl.

I hope that the community takes heed of my suggestions in order to make tournament and set announcements more professional, increase the efficacy of outreach efforts, and in general just provide a much simpler way of viewing information and registering for tournaments. Quizbowl has already made great strides in increasing the quality of the game itself and I believe that providing a unified clearinghouse for these things is a logistical stride that could still stand to be made.

Re: Reforming Tournament and Set Announcements

Posted: Sun Mar 08, 2020 9:43 pm
by heterodyne
Who do you suggest perform the work of building and maintaining this site? That is, do you take this as a suggestion aimed at organizations, a suggestion aimed at particular individuals, or a suggestion aimed at any individual who desires to use their time and energy executing your recommendations?

Re: Reforming Tournament and Set Announcements

Posted: Sun Mar 08, 2020 9:50 pm
by meebles127
heterodyne wrote: Sun Mar 08, 2020 9:43 pm Who do you suggest perform the work of building and maintaining this site? That is, do you take this as a suggestion aimed at organizations, a suggestion aimed at particular individuals, or a suggestion aimed at any individual who desires to use their time and energy executing your recommendations?
Ideally, this is an effort that would be undertaken by PACE as a set of reforms to the already existing database at Earlier this evening, Harry White stated that he was putting together a small set of people to work on website upgrades and I posted my thoughts here, on the forums, at his suggestion following a conversation that took place in the #outreach channel of the main quizbowl discord server following a conversation we had about tournament announcement reform.

Re: Reforming Tournament and Set Announcements

Posted: Sun Mar 08, 2020 11:26 pm
by Atlashill
Conceptually, a centralized tournament & set registration database would be a useful development for the community. From the vantage point of a tournament director, I would want to make sure this system allows hosts to generate & send invoices to participating teams. Some additional bells and whistles would be nice, like automatically determining distance discounts based upon school addresses or a school's enrollment so hosts can either limit registration to schools of a certain size or note schools eligible for a small school division title if offered.

If PACE were to take this on and/or crib this onto the current database, another useful feature would be for PACE to note their certification levels & qualifiers for NSC through an enhanced database. PACE could encourage its use by requiring prospective qualifying events to utilize this system. It would also make for sorting qualifying events much, much easier than the current system in place.

While I can see many net positives from developing this system, replacing "forum announcement alone" with "database entry alone" won't solve all our outreach problems. Turnover of student officers and faculty & staff sponsors can vary widely from program to program and circuit to circuit. Seemingly insular circuits (notably activities conference where schools rarely venture elsewhere) might not even think to check resources outside their own little bubble. A centralized database will be easy to point to, but it cannot entirely replace the all-important tool of directly reaching out to programs, administrators, and (if applicable) players.

Re: Reforming Tournament and Set Announcements

Posted: Mon Mar 09, 2020 7:54 am
by Cody
Doesn't already perform the functions of the competition listing?

edit: I'm pretty sure that anyone can use NAQT's central registration system, even if you are not using one of their sets. However I much prefer email.

edit 2: okay as near as I can tell, NAQT's registration system is only for their tournaments, my bad.

Re: Reforming Tournament and Set Announcements

Posted: Mon Mar 09, 2020 10:15 am
by Cheynem
I do think that Emily (and presumably the people she was talking to, I wasn't there) are correct that more centralized announcements are important. On the other hand, I think that the discussion portion in tournament announcements can be very important--they can address issues in difficulty or distribution, they can inform prospective players/attendees about concerns (either by someone concerned about the tournament, i.e. "hey, why are none of your editors people with experience editing?" or by people running the tournament, i.e. "Let me explain that we're getting experienced people to look over this tournament"), etc. I can also say there's just a note of encouragement in announcing an event, particularly an experimental or side event, and getting a few posts from people saying how cool this sounds.

I do not think this is unprofessional. Certainly, angry back and forths would be, but you rarely see those anymore (and certainly not really in the high school section). If we moved to a centralized form of tournament announcements, I would like to retain this discussion portion in some way (perhaps a concurrent announcement on HSQB?).