My Thoughts on Virtual Paper, Part 1

Faithful readers, I am overjoyed by your presence here, wherever “here” may be (it could be your house, your office, your school, or perhaps at the beach), as now you are here on this website (though perhaps inadvertently) to read my newest article, which will hereafter be referred to as “My Thoughts on Virtual Paper.” However, I must warn you: My Thoughts on Virtual Paper is a very, very long piece of work, so I have decided to split it up into multiple parts (I’m not sure how many quite yet), but I will assure you, My Thoughts on Virtual Paper will not seem as long as it actually is.

I know that you all are a diverse bunch of quizzers, quizmasters, coaches, parents, siblings, and fans, and while I can never ever please everybody that will read My Thoughts on Virtual Paper, I will certainly strive to try. Maybe it is because I seek acceptance from the quizzing community, or maybe it’s because I cannot exist in my right mind if someone dares to insult my work. Nevertheless, as they are MY thoughts, My Thoughts on Virtual Paper is fairly controversial, although I wish it weren’t and people would just agree with me blindly. Yet, I know you all possess your own individual thoughts and opinions, and I would hope that you all would debate and talk through this issue, as I’m sure not everyone will agree with my position.

At every given tournament, there are always two different competitions. The first competition is the actual tournament, where teams compete to beat out other teams in points and make it to the next round, and, eventually, become the last team standing. If you succeed, the result is usually a trophy, a lasting memory, and a sense of unity as your team has conquered all the others, and there is nothing that can stand in your way. The second competition is, in my opinion, more competitive and way more personal, as individual quizzers compete for the title of highest quizzer. If you succeed, the result is usually a medal just like everyone else’s, or perhaps a plaque or larger trophy, and the feeling of knowing that you were “the best.” Now, while these two separate competitions both require excellent quizzing, they are not always complementary of each other, in that it is not necessary to win one to win the other. In fact, oftentimes they can be inversely proportional.

The fact of the matter is that the highest-quizzer rankings tell very little about the actual performance of a quizzer, and how well they helped their team achieve victory. Let’s look some examples, shall we?

Example 1: Athens 2006 Top 3

1. Pleasant View KY
2. Valley
3. Old Paths

1. Abby Carbonell (FBC-CF)
2. Faith Lofgren (Heritage)
3. Grace D’Amico (Open Door)

(Disclaimer: I would like to think that when I write, I use factual information to reinforce my point; however, if I am mistaken, I beg you to e-mail me at

Notice anything at all interesting regarding these statistics? Such information is certainly not surprising in the least bit, but I do think that is very telling that the three highest quizzers were not on the three highest teams. Of course, this is not the case every year and at every competition, but I think it proves a good point: that the usefulness and value of a quizzer cannot be measured by the Highest Quizzer list.

Now, I do not want to take away at all from the three young ladies who were the three highest quizzers at Athens; certainly that is a great achievement and all three of them should be very proud. While they did not make the top three teams, their teams did very well, especially in such a large tournament. Certainly they were the leaders of their respective teams, and while all three quizzed phenomenally, there were at least three other teams that beat them out, and the top three teams at Athens could not attribute their success to a single person.

But what I would also like to discuss is the importance of quizzers whose names are not recognized. I can conjure up numerous examples to illustrate the fact that some of the best quizzers do not always place well on the Highest Quizzers list. However, I believe I only need one example and so, for this specific example, I will use the best team in the nation right now: PVKY.
I mentioned on the message board that Josh Voyles was very important part of PVKY, and was, in my opinion, THE determining factor in their success. However, while Josh was not listed as one of the highest quizzers at Athens, it would be ridiculous and insulting to say that Voyles was not one of the better quizzers at that tournament. No doubt that without him, PVKY would not have succeeded in winning the tournament. This is in no way a jab against the other quizzers on that team (certainly without Aaron or Autumn the team would not have be successful as well), but Voyles proved himself to be an excellent and skillful quizzer.

“But Jesse, if he was so good, why wasn’t he on the Highest Quizzer list, huh???”

For two reasons:

1. Because the entire concept of Highest Quizzer is not an accurate reflection of the usefulness of an individual on a team.

2. Because he had to compete with Aaron Wells and Autumn Wells every single quiz.

Yet, every time I saw him, he would still manage answer questions with Aaron and Autumn by his side, and often times he would be the difference between middle and high winning. Now, if he was on a team of his own, the story would be much, much different (for both competitions: the team tournament and Highest Quizzers), but I will propose that question and a bunch of other questions dealing with the misconceptions of the Highest Quizzer lists on the next My Thoughts on Virtual Paper.


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