I very much agree with Matt Bollinger's point on differentiating between experiencing temptation and succumbing to it.theMoMA wrote: ↑Sun Apr 12, 2020 6:15 pm It's simply the case that, at an online tournament, there is really nothing stopping people from cheating in a modest way, and because of that, I assume that many people in this community, if they were being honest with themselves, would have to admit that they did something at an online event or packet reading that they never would have done in person. (I have specifically avoided playing tournaments online because I assume people are (modestly) cheating, and because I don't want to be tempted myself.)
I don't think we will get rid of that problem by responding to admitted misbehavior with draconian punishment. I think it would set a bad precedent to impose a harsh punishment, because that would make people afraid to come forward and have the necessary conversations about how to make online quizbowl a better place, given how easy it is to look something up online while playing. More to the point, to punish someone harshly for succumbing to an obvious structural temptation that I have to assume many other people have also succumbed to (but simply haven't had the misfortune of being found out) is, in my opinion, wrong.
Put another way, if we are simply treating the problem of cheating online as a problem of "bad people," we're not going to get very far, because people are going to clam up and become afraid of talking about the reality of online tournaments. If instead we think of this as a problem of obvious temptation that normal people might succumb to in a moment of weakness, then we set the stage for a discussion of how to make online quizbowl better.
With that in mind, I appreciate Eric coming forward and admitting what he did. For my own part, this hardly changes any opinion I have about him. I don't think he's the kind of person who would do anything like steal the packets to a tournament. He is now admittedly the kind of person who would succumb to the temptation of looking up a handful of things online during an online tournament, but quite frankly, I thought he was that kind of person before this, not because he's particularly dastardly, but because I think everyone has that temptation inside of them.
I think it would be nice if people who have done the same would open up as well, although given some of the punitive rhetoric in this thread, I would guess that we need to create a better space for that kind of conversation before people feel comfortable doing so. In the interest of having that kind of conversation, and moving this dialogue past the rhetoric of punishment, zero-tolerance, and individual bad actors, I think we need to focus on honest discussions about the temptation of cheating online and the ways it can be mitigated or prevented, either through social or technological means.
With that in mind, I would call on people to discuss a standard "online cheating" punishment--perhaps a ban of a period of months from online events--and once we have figured something like that out, I would call on people in this community who have competed unfairly online to come forward so we can have an honest discussion about online tournaments as they are currently run.
More broadly I disagree with most of Andrew's post. In particular I take issue with making certain broad, declarative statements and assessments of QB behavior and passing them off as factual premises. For example:
1. The assertion that "many people" have conducted themselves dishonestly online - I do not doubt people cheat, but I question the validity of passing this off as an ignorable everyday transgression and not regrettably frequent cases of behavior that should be strongly opposed. Or, again as Matt Bollinger pointed out, "trivializing" the issue.
2. The idea that this is not a "bad people" issues - bad defined here as people who have acted poorly. I very much believe that this is, in fact, a bad people issue!
I come from a position that I would hope is uncontroversial - cheating is bad.
It derives from this simple position that when people cheat, the initial response should be to look for ways to deter further cheating and to, as appropriate, punish cheaters. The response should not be to immediately use that as a jumping point to launch into a criticism of the circumstances of cheating - in this case online tournaments.
I'm unsympathetic to the idea that cheating is more "understandable" - or some other mitigating concept - when there are greater temptations to do so.
I'm similarly unsympathetic to the idea that cheating in online tournaments should be viewed less seriously because it's easier.
While not explicitly stated in Andrew's post, I believe a lot of Andrew's point dovetails with the strand of discourse that has centered around a broad criticism of online tournaments in general, with the prevalence of cheating as a major pillar of that stance. I think this line of reasoning has come dangerously close to being distorted toward the idea that online quiz bowl is somehow to blame for cheating, and that online quiz bowl is the issue we should address instead of cheating. I think this course of action is tempting because we have a comparatively easy and concrete way to address online tournaments by simply not hosting any more of them. Cheating is a far thornier issue to tackle at a structural and systematic level.
Removing all online tournaments certainly will remove all instances of cheating in online tournaments - but that strikes me as a distinctly less ideal outcome than addressing cheating instead. I've always held a fairly cynical view towards cheating on online tournaments, in that I generally view it as commonplace and much more widespread than some others have thought. However, I also think the numerous advantages of online quiz bowl and the boost in overall participation in quiz bowl outweighs the negatives of cheating. We should definitely work to discourage cheating and that's part of the larger ongoing conversation; but I very much push back against any sort of discourse that somehow conflates "cheating is bad" with "online quiz bowl is bad."