Hey it's time to talk about tone! (LIVE CHAT AUGUST 13)

Dormant threads from the high school sections are preserved here.
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Cheynem
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Re: Hey it's time to talk about tone!

Post by Cheynem »

What unyielding criticism is directed towards tournaments that are in keeping with good quizbowl?

Look, just WHO are these hordes of mean people who promote good quizbowl and dislike reasonable discussion and are only interested in being right? I'm not denying that there are people who step out of bounds, but I'll again reiterate that these are frequently people who are NOT part of the board establishment and frequently receive punishment/chastisement.
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Re: Hey it's time to talk about tone!

Post by Howard »

Horned Screamer wrote:To John Gilbert, the whole thing is that, like, my post to Dave Madden didn't violate the rules, as best as I know, so there was no reason to warn me in the first place. You seem to have a lot of trouble comprehending that, among many other things.
No, I don't. I posted as much in the facebook discussion. On the other hand your post included thing which were at best factually questionable, such as the size of Madden's ego. So my contention is that this weakened your point.
Horned Screamer wrote:Also, you posted something really stupid and self righteous related to the same issue in that dumb "Quiz Bowl Misc." Facebook group
Look. I'm glad you responded to my request for specifics. I know you do not realize nor care that I actually agree with a majority of your positions on what's good for quizbowl, but for this reason I'd actually like to know what I posted that you think was so stupid. I am willing to listen to this (and am much more likely to do so if you present it in a logical and polite manner).
Horned Screamer wrote:...yelled about how all your magical civility is somehow what is saving the circuit...
If this is what you're talking about, I don't think I worded things quite that strongly. Nor do I agree with it. I do think lack of civility hurts the circuit and I don't understand why people think it could possibly create anything positive for the circuit.
Horned Screamer wrote:...without noticing that the whole point you were responding to was that, like, you've NEVER done anything, as far as we know, to actually spread good quizbowl beyond simply patronizing local tournaments, so your ridiculous pronouncements had no backing. I on the other hand co-founded an organization that got something like 120 schools to play pyramidal tournaments in the last year alone who would never have without us because they were in Missouri or Kansas, two of the most hostile states for good quizbowl just a few years ago. Hearing people like you, with absolutely worthless track records in actual quizbowl work, pass judgement about my efficacy when I am one of the people most directly responsible for one of the fastest, most effective good quizbowl recruitment success stories in the game, is one of the most grating things imaginable. People like Coaches Reinstein, Romero, Prince, the people involved in the Ohio and Michigan circuits, and yes, Matt Weiner, are all examples of people who have put in all kinds of work on making quizbowl better in their own region that I will totally listen to them and be willing to accept that their opinions come from a place of experience, even if I may not always end up agreeing with them. You, what the hell have you ever done besides keep spreading this lie that everything is valid and good and nothing is ever bad. Heads up, just like I told some other guy recently, just because you exist and have an opinion DOES NOT make it as equally valid as everybody else's when other people have put in WAY more work than you....
I've never denied that you or Matt have already done more to expand quizbowl than I will in my entire lifetime, even if we consider competitions you wouldn't consider quizbowl. And I make my comments with intent of neither diminishing nor demeaning any positive contribution you have made. I even concede that the each of you know far more about pyramidal quizbowl than I will ever know. And if I want to know things about pyramidal quizbowl, I even agree that the both of you are excellent sources of valuable information.

On the other hand, doing things that anger people off has nothing to do with quizbowl other than the fact that it could well encourage them to leave. This is a life lesson. Like most life lessons, older people are likely to have more wisdom on the issue. And this is why I don't think contribution to quizbowl matters. Again, I understand you don't particularly value my opinion. So choose someone ten or twenty years older whose opinion you do respect and ask them. What do they think of the tone/civility issue? If you decide you don't agree, I have to accept that, too. I know I'm not going to be the one to change your opinion.

Nonetheless, I assert that attending tournaments and thereby putting several hundred dollars each year directly into the hands of teams promoting pyramidal quizbowl is a sufficient level of support from a coach. I don't feel compelled to make expanding pyramidal quizbowl my personal cause, but I would nonetheless like to see it happen.
John Gilbert
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Re: Hey it's time to talk about tone!

Post by mrgsmath »

Cheynem wrote:What unyielding criticism is directed towards tournaments that are in keeping with good quizbowl?

Look, just WHO are these hordes of mean people who promote good quizbowl and dislike reasonable discussion and are only interested in being right? I'm not denying that there are people who step out of bounds, but I'll again reiterate that these are frequently people who are NOT part of the board establishment and frequently receive punishment/chastisement.
Simply qualifying your response here with with the idea that it be in keeping with good quiz bowl, is one example of what I am talking about. Since it presumes that any deviation to your definition is unacceptable and therefore can be dispensed as "bad quiz bowl". The example I referenced, IMSANITY, was rejected for even suggesting that non-comp math be included in a set, and certainly not acceptable if it would be at the expense of LIT or History. Despite Dr. Prince's emphasis that he was trying to show that good questions could be found within the math discipline, the main resistance of the establishment was in fact hostile and unyielding.

A secondary example of a tone problem, though not related directly to a tournament and Good Quiz Bowl, was in a post made earlier this summer (which I will find if you feel it is critical to the advancement of the discussion) was an individual who was planning a tournament and was going to write some or all of the questions, one of the first responses was not to support the project, or even to ask if they were comfortable with writing questions, it was rather to ask what qualifications the person had for writing questions. While a good question at some point, it had the result of basically of having the person back off and proclaim he would go with regular supplier. Though it may well have been the best decision for the person, the approach and tone was not what I would consider inviting.

While the general experience of others being dealt with poorly may not originate from the regular board posters, (my post did not refer to the board management) most of my confrontations have been with the usual suspects.

minor edit for grammer (I teach math and science, though Matt suggests I do so poorly)
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Re: Hey it's time to talk about tone!

Post by ryanrosenberg »

mrgsmath wrote:A secondary example of a tone problem, though not related directly to a tournament and Good Quiz Bowl, was in a post made earlier this summer (which I will find if you feel it is critical to the advancement of the discussion) was an individual who was planning a tournament and was going to write some or all of the questions, one of the first responses was not to support the project, or even to ask if they were comfortable with writing questions, it was rather to ask what qualifications the person had for writing questions. While a good question at some point, it had the result of basically of having the person back off and proclaim he would go with regular supplier. Though it may well have been the best decision for the person, the approach and tone was not what I would consider inviting.
Are you referring to viewtopic.php?f=47&t=13166#p246261? I tried to strike a supportive tone, but at some point you just have to say that an inexperienced team is not capable of writing a good tournament wholly by themselves.
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Cheynem
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Re: Hey it's time to talk about tone!

Post by Cheynem »

I went back and looked at the threads you referred to.

IMSANITY discussion seemingly begins elsewhere, but I guess it really begins here:
viewtopic.php?f=6&t=10808&start=0.

I fail to see "hostile and unyielding" behavior here unless you think that simply expressing *disagreement* is equivalent to being mean to someone. Noah Prince is an adult and in the thread does a fine job reasonably discussing where he is coming from and what he believes in. Yes, a lot of people disagreed with his math viewpoint but it wasn't because they were some zombies or that they didn't like Noah, it's just that they have a lot of experience in quizbowl and found his 3/3 math idea excessive. Simple as that. There's a typically blunt Matt Weiner post in there that isn't really anything to write home about and an admittedly kind of excessive Cody Voight post. Other than that, everyone seems pretty reasonable. Jerry isn't raining profanities, Sorice didn't tell someone to eat nails and die, Charlie didn't call anyone a little girl. So if you think one random Cody Voight post speaks for the "mean" establishment, then perhaps.

The other thread you refer to is actually a hallmark of good community practices.

(this is what I assume you are referring to, although maybe you weren't--anyway, the basic criteria is similar to your point)

Christopher Zheng from Great Neck says that Great Neck is going to write a housewrite.

Ryan Rosenberg and Charlie Dees extremely politely point out why a housewrite is a bad idea. This isn't because they don't like Great Neck, in fact, it's because they care and they don't want to see Great Neck hurt its resources and reputation on something they're probably not quite ready for. Charlie links him to a very helpful thread explaining it.

Christopher THANKS Ryan and Charlie for their input and says that after looking at that information, he has changed his mind.

How can that be seen as a tone problem? Again, you seem to be interpreting pure disagreement as a "tone problem." Even if it was, it was hardly a problem because the person being spoken to was receptive and happy with the disagreement!

Yes, if you propose something not in keeping with traditionally "good" quizbowl practices, you are probably going to have people disagree with you and even critique you. But the "tone" in either of those threads is perfectly reasonable and rational. Look, I'm not naive; there are instances of nastiness on these boards, but as I type this for the 9,000th time, in almost all instances, the people making those comments are punished and are almost always not the board management.
Mike Cheyne
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Re: Hey it's time to talk about tone!

Post by Blackboard Monitor Vimes »

Time to insert another green-highlighted name into this discussion, I suppose. Though I didn't make Mike's list of friendly staffers ( :smile: ), I like to think of myself as a generally nice person. To be sure, if you look through my posting history there are some bad ones back there, including a several-page fight with George Stevens that I freely admit over something absurd in a discussion of a tournament I edited when I was 16 (I don't think you play anymore, George, but if you're here I apologize on behalf of my less-mature self). However, the first thing new posters hear from me, if I'm approving one of their posts before they've enabled a signature, is "Hi, and welcome to the forums! We ask that all our users enable a signature so that other users know who they're talking to. [technical details of how to do that] Thanks!" I know at least several other staffers have a similar go-to greeting.

So, at least a fairly significant chunk of new posters are indeed being welcomed by the board staff. A lot of those posters are announcing tournaments, asking to play something, or asking for advice in the newbie forum. Most of the people I've seen come here asking for advice get it, and often a lot of it, in a reasonably genial fashion no matter what they're asking or how many times their question has been asked before. Those new posters who are announcing a tournament can run into hostility if their event doesn't conform to this community's standards, and I agree that the initial statement of objection to that should be calm and rational. I like to think we as a community have gotten better about this, though there's perhaps more room for improvement. I personally try to be respectful to everyone regardless of my opinion of them, but I'm markedly less sympathetic to those who are routinely antagonistic (like Mr. Richards of Cedar Shoals, who positively bit my head off for politely asking if he would like his tournament to be affiliated with the NSC) than those who are genuinely new members of our community with no notion of this community's norms or unwritten expectations.

TL;DR: As a person but especially as a moderator of this forum and the spokesperson for PACE, I try to engage people in a respectful manner. Very few people can maintain Jeff Hoppes' level of calm at all times, though, so I don't think it's reasonable to expect that ALL discussion on this forum be cordial. My personal feeling is that we should always approach those posters who may be unfamiliar with, say, Chip Beall's ethical issues or the value of "good" questions on a rational level *first*, since I don't believe we lose anything by giving logic and reason a chance. I think only failure to reciprocate rationality or committing a major offense (like plagiarism or butchering a tournament people paid good money for and are justifiably very upset about) merits a more emotionally-charged tone/attack.
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Re: Hey it's time to talk about tone!

Post by ValenciaQBowl »

Jeff Hoppes (one of the people Chris Borglum puzzlingly cited as a "non-hostile" person who embodies values opposite from...the forum that he runs?*)
Hmm. I don't think I was offering any general characterization of the site as a whole as hostile, just saying that at times some folks (not, like, the hive mind of HSQB) are probably more hostile than seems warranted to me. So when I cited Jeff and Seth, I wasn't saying they're different from all the meanies on HSQB, just throwing out two examples of people who, at least in what I read (which is mostly the college board), have never seemed to be angry or strident.

But whatever--I'm not really invested in HS debates about Chip fans and stuff and really have no experience with any of that. I was in this discussion mainly to argue for my right to be equally if not more obnoxious to anyone I think is not speaking to me in a way I'll tolerate, and now that Mike Cheyne is telling me that it's okay to tell someone I hate him and hope he's eaten by dogs, as long as I don't tell him NOT to post in a way I don't like, I'm down.
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Re: Hey it's time to talk about tone!

Post by Bartleby »

Though I'm neither American nor a high school student, I think I'll wade into this morass and try to suggest something. A few weeks ago, there was quite a discussion in the college sections of this board regarding what sorts of music could go in the fine arts distribution, and what sorts of music should stay in the trash distribution. During this discussion, a high schooler from North Carolina named Jacob Reed (making his fifth post, no less) waded on into the discussion and advanced some ideas that were met with varying amounts of derision from several posters in our community.

At one point, Charlie Dees said the following:
When people with way more experience are telling you you are wrong, maybe you should realize that means something, rather than rail against them as if the fact you are a person means you have an equally worthwhile opinion as every other person.
This seems to be our community's attitude about good quiz bowl, and educating people about good quiz bowl- at least to an extent. The general attitude I see in this thread is that people need to understand that not all knowledge-based games are created equal, that there's a reason why we have a dichotomy between "good" and "bad" quiz bowl, and that despite whatever seemingly positive experiences they may have had in inferior formats, that there are people out there who know better than they do about what the practices of "good" quiz bowl are because of their extensive experience with the game.

But I'd like to suggest that for new posters and new members to this community... well the idea that other people have "way more experience" isn't worth a hill of beans in most cases, because it's my opinion that they simply don't know what that experience means. They've never met the people talking to them, in many cases. If they're new to the community, they probably don't even know who they are! So even if Matt Weiner engages with some new poster, and that person sees "Head Editor: PACE NSC 2002-2008" in his signature, what does that mean to them? Do they know that these things make him an authority on good quiz bowl practices?

These questions may seem sort of silly... but unless you've met an individual posting on this forum, or have some idea about who he/she is, what should make them any different to you, as a new member than any other member? And if you, as a new poster, subsequently do not feel welcomed for whatever reason, how will that make you want to engage in the goals that this community is trying to advance?

For posterity, I'll note that I don't read the high school sections enough to start digging through old posts to try and find some example of Matt telling someone off in a fashion deemed "impolite". Frankly, when I see that happen, it's my opinion that the person involved generally has it coming, and I can also echo that the board staff here are generally fairly lenient, by comparison to their peers across the internet. The bottom line is that the goal of this forum is to advance good quiz bowl, and if the reputation circulates that people on this board have a "tone problem"... well, true or not, I think that these rumours detract for the board's stated goal in that they deter new members from joining, and I think that part of the problem that arises is just a fundamental lack of understanding about who our senior members are, and how they attained the cachet that they have.
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Re: Hey it's time to talk about tone!

Post by Muriel Axon »

Brian, if the basic thrust of your post is that we should be lenient with new members who haven't really oriented themselves with the dynamic on these forums, then sure, I'm all for that, and I think there are positive steps we can take as individuals to make sure we do that. I doubt any new policy changes will help, but feel free to propose things if you want.

I will note, though, that a large chunk of this thread is about "repeat offenders" - and by offenders, I don't mean people who have somewhat unorthodox opinions on particular topics (like that Jacob Reed kid, who seems a perfectly nice fellow acting in good faith), but people who deny the basic principles of this board in promoting "good quizbowl."
Shan Kothari

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Re: Hey it's time to talk about tone!

Post by mrgsmath »

Cheynem wrote:I went back and looked at the threads you referred to.

IMSANITY discussion seemingly begins elsewhere, but I guess it really begins here:
viewtopic.php?f=6&t=10808&start=0.
Though not your intention, this was a key point. The original thread, which I am trying to find, was simply Dr. Prince looking for mirrors of his event. That thread never dealt with that goal but became a defense, by Dr. Prince, of the merits of non-comp math questions and why he would design such a set. Ultimately it was moved to another thread and it did become the civil discourse on the subject of non-comp that you cite, most likely as a result of the board's monitors. My point is, that despite the fact that the meet met the criteria of "good quizbowl" in all other respects, a person who simply used a portion of the board intended for the purpose he felt was appropriate, was for all intents and purposes was denied that chance once the set was chastized and belittled by the regulars on the board who don't want any changes that they don't like. My use was to illustrate why I don't post my tournaments on the board. While I would gladly be a part of a seperate discussions on what are open issues concerning "what is good quizbowl", such as non-comp math, scoring, question length, timing, even the canon ect. It is not the most inviting aspect of the these boards to have to justify every decision one makes that may include those issues.

Often times the discussion does become civil, but too often after the damage is done. I don't feel the staff is the problem. The monitors, when acting as monitors, generally are doing their job. However, regular posters, including those who may be board management, in many cases seek not to gain converts to the cause, but to crush any potential threats to their status quo.

The second example will need to wait until I find the particular thread I was referencing, as the one cited was not it.

Generally, I find the people on the boards to be passionate and fair. However, there are some who rely on their "experience" or the "settled issue" arguements to insist that others provide a stronger case justifying their position, while they use the old debate tactic of defining the terms. And you rarely lose a debate if you can define its terms.
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Re: Hey it's time to talk about tone!

Post by vinteuil »

It's almost certainly a mistake to post in this topic at this point, but I would like to agree with Shan in that the upshot of that rather embarrassing thread was me being "oriented...with the dynamic on these forums"; I would never propose to have more expertise on quiz bowl than Charlie Dees (among other luminaries), nor was I proposing to give a quiz bowl-specific opinion—that last is exactly what made those posts inappropriate for that particular topic (or these forums; maybe I should save my opinions on Madonna for the IMSLP forums, where I'll end up defending her...), and, again, that thread was good "orientation" experience.

However, I am who I am, and I can certainly imagine that other new posters (who, say, do not have moderation experience on another forum) could be turned off by that sort of tone—even if they were equally in the wrong. I received some lovely private messages relating to that thread, so that (potentially) off-putting tone is a little bit more prominent to the "public," but I would venture that the vast majority of posters would not return after being upbraided as such—couldn't someone have just said exactly what was wrong once? Instead, I got arguments to the validity of my points (some of which were, naturally, invalid), which is just encouragement in the wrong direction.
Jacob Reed (he/him/his)
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Re: Hey it's time to talk about tone!

Post by Stained Diviner »

I'm going to try encouraging more people to come here. I'll see what happens. It's entirely possible that this will have no effect, since people generally don't listen to me.
David Reinstein
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Re: Hey it's time to talk about tone!

Post by Bartleby »

The Eighth Viscount of Waaaah wrote:Brian, if the basic thrust of your post is that we should be lenient with new members who haven't really oriented themselves with the dynamic on these forums, then sure, I'm all for that, and I think there are positive steps we can take as individuals to make sure we do that. I doubt any new policy changes will help, but feel free to propose things if you want.

I will note, though, that a large chunk of this thread is about "repeat offenders" - and by offenders, I don't mean people who have somewhat unorthodox opinions on particular topics (like that Jacob Reed kid, who seems a perfectly nice fellow acting in good faith), but people who deny the basic principles of this board in promoting "good quizbowl."
While a lot of this thread does deal with repeat offenders, I was inspired more by the idea that numerous people mentioned that they caution their acquaintances against joining these forums for fear of the rancor of our members. Jacob was basically a segue into the general point I was trying to make. I don't know if I would say that I'm trying to advocate for more leniency towards new posters, but I think that in interacting with them, it's important to keep in mind that we're communicating over the internet, and that when they talk to you, they see text on a screen and a display picture, and probably nothing more. I just notice that sometimes people get sort of irate because new posters don't understand that in being critical, they're coming from a good and experienced place. I think that part of that is because of the nature of the way we communicate over the internet.

Here's an idea:

In the forum for teams new to quiz bowl, why not have forum-specific moderators (which is something I believe you can do) selected for their experience with quiz bowl, and from geographically-diverse areas. Have a brief biography of each person pinned at the top of the forum, so that when people come to the boards and hear that the form of quiz bowl they play is maybe not so great, they know how qualified these people are to be making that assessment.
Brian McNamara
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Re: Hey it's time to talk about tone!

Post by vinteuil »

Bartleby wrote:In the forum for teams new to quiz bowl, why not have forum-specific moderators (which is something I believe you can do)
Yes, and it's somewhat standard practice. (random sources: 1 2 3)

I like this idea, but, as you pointed out above, not everyone knows that it's of major import that Matt Weiner edited PACE for however many years, among his other distinguishing accomplishments.
Jacob Reed (he/him/his)
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Re: Hey it's time to talk about tone!

Post by Stained Diviner »

This board used to have section-specific moderators. I don't know why they dropped that practice, and I don't have an opinion on whether or not it's a good thing.

If they did choose some moderators specifically to handle the New Teams section, then the best criterion would be somebody who has demonstrated that they are good at handling new teams/individuals. All of the moderators have demonstrated that they know the difference between good and bad quizbowl, and anybody remotely new to the game should be able to recognize that the moderators have much more experience than they do. That doesn't mean that new posters should believe everything a moderator tells them, and it doesn't mean that new posters will believe everything a moderator tells them even in cases when the moderator is clearly correct.

Another issue is the fact that new posters often don't start out in the New High School Teams Section--they start out wherever they see a discussion about something they want to talk about, which could be anywhere.
David Reinstein
PACE VP of Outreach, Head Writer and Editor for Scobol Solo and Masonics (Illinois), TD for New Trier Scobol Solo and New Trier Varsity, Writer for NAQT (2011-2017), IHSSBCA Board Member, IHSSBCA Chair (2004-2014), PACE Member, PACE President (2016-2018), New Trier Coach (1994-2011)

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Re: Hey it's time to talk about tone!

Post by Matt Weiner »

So, I guess I'll call a close to this summer's open thread. I'll announce a followup live chat soon.
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Re: Hey it's time to talk about tone!

Post by Matt Weiner »

The live chat will occur in #quizbowl on Slashnet at 8 PM EDT on Monday, August 13.
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