Giveaways for "lesser-known" stuff about common things

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Giveaways for "lesser-known" stuff about common things

Postby The Billiards Fool » Tue Jun 20, 2017 8:09 am

What is the best way to handle the end of a tossup on lesser known material of a well known thing? I'll provide a sample tossup for an example of what I mean (This tossup is just an example, so unless you really want to or I'm doing something egregious I'm not really looking for advice on the TU (which was somewhat hastily written (slight cop out let's be real)):

After being offered the Kingship of this country by Austria, an Ottoman governor from this country’s Bushati family sent Sultan Abdulhamid I the heads of Austrian diplomats in exchange for a pardon. The Ottoman Koprulu Era was dominated by grand viziers from this country, and Charles I of Anjou declared a Kingdom in this country in 1272, but lost much of his land at the Battle of Durres. The Kanun of Lek, a legal code prominent in this country’s north, was written by Leke Dukagjini, who frequently warred with Skanderbeg, an anti-Ottoman rebel in this country. For ten points, name this country which was later ruled by Enver Hoxha.

In this example, I think it's fair to guess pre-20th century Albanian history is less commonly known/tossed up than post-1900, but that gives me no clean giveaway from that time period, even though the existence of Albania is obviously well known (aka easy thing, harder material). Since my theme is pre-1820ish Albania is it a faux pas to drop Hoxha, who doesn't fit with the theme, as the giveaway? (assuming I don't want to use something like Tirana because the difficulty target is a bit higher). If not, any advice? Also, dropping something like Hoxha seems to me like it could create a cliff because it slightly shifts the area of knowledge being tested to something seemingly much more accessible; tips for remedying that as well?

Also, if I've misdiagnosed the world's Albania knowledge, pretend this was written on any other [lesser known material] of [commonly known thing] for the sake of the question.

My main subject in mind for this is history, but I guess it probably applies in other areas as well. Also if this has already been answered somewhere within the annals of the forums y'all can get rid of this and direct me there that's fine, I just hadn't seen anything yet.

Thanks!
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Re: Giveaways for "lesser-known" stuff about common things

Postby Deviant Insider » Tue Jun 20, 2017 9:21 am

I'm not sure what level you are talking about. If it is regular high school or below, don't write a tossup on Albanian history. Problem solved!

In general, it's fine to work in that something was done from the capital of Tirana or they had some disagreement with Greece, their neighbor to the southeast. It's definitely OK to work in Hoxha even though he is outside the time period of the rest of the question.
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Re: Giveaways for "lesser-known" stuff about common things

Postby Skepticism and Animal Feed » Tue Jun 20, 2017 9:27 am

I think it's been a few years since we've had an argument about this, but I think (and hope) that quizbowl theory's general position is still that you should make giveaways as easy as possible: at that point it's simply better for the long-term health of the game to increase tossup conversion rates. Making tossups harder by making the giveaway harder makes the game less satisfying for novice players in exchange for questionable benefits.

So this means if you are tossing up medieval Albania, but you think Enver Hoxha is the most famous thing about Albania, yeah, go ahead and drop Enver Hoxha in the giveaway. The benefits of increasing tossup conversions outweigh the damage you do to the aesthetics or thematic purity of your tossup.

Personally, I believe that for a significant chunk of the nations of the world, the most famous thing about them is the name of their capital city. I'm not sure Albania falls into this category but most of Western Europe, North America, South America, and East Asia definitely do. So I like to end tossups on countries with things like "For 10 points, name this country with capital Budapest" or perhaps "For 10 points, name this country which Viktor Orban rules from Budapest" if I want to sneak in a famous ruler too.
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Re: Giveaways for "lesser-known" stuff about common things

Postby Irreligion in Bangladesh » Tue Jun 20, 2017 4:07 pm

Everything David said is correct. Everything Bruce said is correct.

There's almost no tournament written at a difficulty level where the giveaway shouldn't still be definitional - and for most countries, that's geographical clues. Even at Chicago Open, you shouldn't really be giving away Albania without some measure of geography. (You can, but it is better if you don't.) If you disagree with Bruce's note on using the capital because you think it's too easy, stop doing that; it's a giveaway for a reason! Any player who would feel "offended" by a tossup on a country being given away "too much" at the end is probably also the type of player who buzzes before "FTP" is read after the other team negs even if there aren't powers - so they won't even hear your giveaway. :)

So you're worried that there isn't a giveaway in your theme. Let's say you've heard David and Bruce re: "Hoxha's OK," but you still feel bad about doing that because it's not your theme. Then, you will want to tie your theme (pre-20th century) in with geography and/or modern history to give it away. Some examples might be:
*"FTP, name this Balkan country where Skanderbeg ruled Kruje, a short distance north of its modern capital, Tirana" to talk geography within your history
*"FTP, name this Balkan country where the honorary Order of Skanderbeg has been bestowed by President Bujar Nishani in ceremonies in Tirana" to tie the history in with modern information & geography.
Note that both examples say "FTP, name this Balkan country" instead of "country;" that's underrated and important! Adjectives on your "FTP name this BLANK" are a very efficient and powerful way to make a giveaway better.
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Re: Giveaways for "lesser-known" stuff about common things

Postby Emperor Pupienus » Tue Jun 20, 2017 9:16 pm

I disagree with Brad and Bruce; in my opinion, you should focus on making your giveaways consistent in difficulty, not easy in difficulty. So if you toss up answerlines of varying difficulty, then you should calibrate your giveaways accordingly. This is something to think about more for college regular difficulty and harder sets, not really for high school. For instance, at CO one would expect even very good players not to be able to answer many questions even at the end. At higher difficulties, it's totally fine to have Hoxha be the giveaway. Or if you are writing a harder tossup on George Washington's pre-presidential exploits, you could close with FTP name this guy who messed up at Fort Necessity, not name this first president. I think that consistency is the most important consideration, provided your tournament on the whole is not too easy/too hard vs the target difficulty. At lower difficulties, this means end with literally the most famous thing, but at higher difficulties you might use other clues instead.
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Re: Giveaways for "lesser-known" stuff about common things

Postby browen » Tue Jun 20, 2017 11:17 pm

Similar in nature to your Albania example, there was a question at PACE on Sierra Leone that I'm sure can be posted in this thread if you message Rob Carson. If I remember correctly, it didn't include Freetown at the giveaway (mostly focused on the actions of Charles Taylor during their Civil War). Judging from the previous responses the editors would have aligned more with Jason's position on varying the giveaway depending on set difficulty.
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Re: Giveaways for "lesser-known" stuff about common things

Postby heterodyne » Wed Jun 21, 2017 6:48 am

Putting aside the problem of your theme, isn't it the case that an ideal tournament has an equal buzz distribution for all questions? For each question, A% of teams should buzz on the first line, B% on the second, and so on. So, your goal should be to have the same number of people buzzing on your tossup on Charles Dickens at giveaway as are buzzing on your tossup on, say, Rienzi by Bulwer-Lytton. So, you should pick a Dickens giveaway comparable to "this novel named for the "'last of the tribunes'" or whatever. Otherwise it seems like you screw teams with certain strengths unduly.
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Re: Giveaways for "lesser-known" stuff about common things

Postby Deviant Insider » Wed Jun 21, 2017 8:13 am

While Alston's percentages make sense as an aspiration for the first half of tossups, they would be a disaster for any set that tried that for the second half. If you look at your tournament and determine that the most difficult question will get past the FTP in half the rooms and therefore all the questions should do that, then you just ruined what could have been a good tournament and may have made me cry.

I do think that there is some leeway on giveaways at harder levels. If you are tossing up George Washington, then you don't have to say that he was the first president.
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Re: Giveaways for "lesser-known" stuff about common things

Postby Cheynem » Wed Jun 21, 2017 11:00 am

I probably have rather apostate views on this, but I've never been a fan of making the giveaway as "easy as possible." I generally tend to take the viewpoint that I think Jason alluded to in which the giveaway is more or less aligned to the intended difficulty of the set. I would find a CO tossup on Albania that had a giveaway that mentioned the capital to be rather suboptimal to be honest--at that level, Hoxha is a reasonable giveaway. This is different for high school or lower college.

I had a debate once with, I think, Evan Adams, about this. I wrote a hard tossup on Hawthorne (the author, not the Jada Pinkett Smith TV show that Carsten likes) for MO (a hard tournament) and the giveaway I think was something like "author who wrote the collections Mosses from an Old Manse and Twice Told Tales." I thought that was, while hardish, the appropriate giveaway at this tournament. He argued that I should tack on something like "also the author of Young Goodman Brown" or "The Scarlet Letter." I was a cocky 45-year old kid who didn't see his point. I think now I would probably definitely add on something like wrote Young Goodman Brown (that's actually in Mosses from an Old Manse anyway!). I still would object to the Scarlet Letter--I don't think that's necessary at harder difficulty sets. I can't fully explain why not, but I do.

I also find that such giveaways artificially boost conversion rates. Almost everyone will get them, but probably a lot of teams won't get them early and they'll go to a buzzer race. Perhaps buzz point tech will help us here. More should probably be done to make your tossups on the whole easier other than giveaways. Note that I don't necessarily have a problem with writing a hard tossup, but your tacked-on giveaway doesn't necessarily make it easier.
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Re: Giveaways for "lesser-known" stuff about common things

Postby vcuEvan » Wed Jun 21, 2017 1:14 pm

Cheynem wrote:I had a debate once with, I think, Evan Adams, about this. I wrote a hard tossup on Hawthorne (the author, not the Jada Pinkett Smith TV show that Carsten likes) for MO (a hard tournament) and the giveaway I think was something like "author who wrote the collections Mosses from an Old Manse and Twice Told Tales." I thought that was, while hardish, the appropriate giveaway at this tournament. He argued that I should tack on something like "also the author of Young Goodman Brown" or "The Scarlet Letter." I was a cocky 45-year old kid who didn't see his point. I think now I would probably definitely add on something like wrote Young Goodman Brown (that's actually in Mosses from an Old Manse anyway!). I still would object to the Scarlet Letter--I don't think that's necessary at harder difficulty sets. I can't fully explain why not, but I do.

I also find that such giveaways artificially boost conversion rates. Almost everyone will get them, but probably a lot of teams won't get them early and they'll go to a buzzer race. Perhaps buzz point tech will help us here. More should probably be done to make your tossups on the whole easier other than giveaways. Note that I don't necessarily have a problem with writing a hard tossup, but your tacked-on giveaway doesn't necessarily make it easier.


I think it's important to remember that the tacked-on very easy giveaway at a tournament like MO is functionally not a part of the question for any game that has a good team in it. If a good team is playing a good team, or a good team is playing a bad team, that question gets answered well before Twice Told Tales, or maybe if the team is on the very low side of decent, at Twice Told Tales. That throwaway giveaway is only read in rooms that have some of the worst teams in a tournament playing against each other. For those games, I feel pretty strongly that tossup answerability should trump any vague aesthetic concerns (especially at a tournament like MO, where a lot of the truly harder material will go dead between these teams).

EDIT: In response to the second paragraph, "artificially" inflating conversion rates still means questions are getting answered and bonuses are getting heard. Most of us have been bad at some point and have experienced death march type rounds where it seems like more tossups are going dead than getting answered. Reconfiguring the clue gradation of the tournament across is the board to help bad teams might be worthwhile, but the adding the truly easiest giveaway on some tossups is a lot easier and can help mitigate some of those discouraging sluggish rounds.
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Re: Giveaways for "lesser-known" stuff about common things

Postby Cheynem » Wed Jun 21, 2017 1:30 pm

I should be clear that I agree that a tossup on Hawthorne should probably throw in an easier giveaway than Twice Told Tales. I understand what Evan is saying, and while the Eugenspiegelian instinct in me is to draw difficulty lines in the sand, I think that might have some good for weaker teams.

The one area I would caution against is making a giveaway cross distributional. I really dislike geography giveaways for history tossups, for example.
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Re: Giveaways for "lesser-known" stuff about common things

Postby 1.82 » Wed Jun 21, 2017 2:40 pm

The biggest problem with an easy giveaway is that if neither team knows anything about Albanian history, then your tossup just turns into a speedcheck where the question is "Do you know what country Tirana is in?" When the giveaway is a single clue that is much easier than the rest of the questions, you're inviting buzzer races. I don't think that's a fair way to decide a tossup; from a competitive standpoint, it'd be better for that tossup to go dead if neither team has knowledge than it would be for one team to get points for being faster to hit the buzzer.
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Re: Giveaways for "lesser-known" stuff about common things

Postby jonah » Wed Jun 21, 2017 3:21 pm

Many generations ago, one of the early NAQT chief editors declared that "name a country from its capital, or vice versa" was never worth any points.* Reasonable people can disagree on that, but I don't think it's crazy. (Also, to be clear, it is no longer in effect throughout NAQT.)

The "value" of clues is on a continuum**. Long ago the community decided that "For 10 points—identify this author whose name rhymes with 'Shmathaniel Shmawthorne'" should never be worth anything (a decision I'm sure the vast majority of us agree with), even though going from that to Hawthorne displays slightly more than no knowledge (it's something to know that he's not Pathaniel Lawthorne). In my view, if an editor similarly decides that country/capital (or "first president" or "country north of the U.S." or whatever) is too trivial to be worth points, I see that as every bit as much the editor's reasonable prerogative as where power goes, or whether a lead-in is hard enough, or whether this middle part of a bonus is really middle, etc.

Personally, I avoid country/capital (and similarly trivial) giveaways at the IS level and above, especially for countries that I expect everyone to know the capital of.



*This was long before my time, and I'm basing my assertion on some old notes I found. It's possible I misinterpreted them.

**As reflected very crudely in the awarding of power or 10, for tournaments that offer powers, or slightly less (but still very) crudely in tournaments with superpowers and powers and 10s, etc. One can imagine a world in which the first clue in a tossup was worth 30, the second 25, etc.
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Re: Giveaways for "lesser-known" stuff about common things

Postby Deviant Insider » Wed Jun 21, 2017 5:59 pm

To add a bit of historical perspective, if we're going far back in NAQT history, then IS were the easiest sets they produced, and IS were a little more difficult than they should have been.
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Re: Giveaways for "lesser-known" stuff about common things

Postby jonah » Wed Jun 21, 2017 6:25 pm

Big Y wrote:To add a bit of historical perspective, if we're going far back in NAQT history, then IS were the easiest sets they produced, and IS were a little more difficult than they should have been.
That's true, and in fact we might be going as far back as when NAQT was exclusively producing college questions (i.e., its first year or two). I don't remember exactly from when the document I found dated.
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Re: Giveaways for "lesser-known" stuff about common things

Postby The Billiards Fool » Wed Jun 21, 2017 7:48 pm

Big Y wrote:I'm not sure what level you are talking about.


I should probably have clarified my original question is really just just for collegiate regular and to nationals (since, while I've never been to CO, it seems like that of all places is where the "include something so most get it" is weakest since its basically just top players opting into difficulty).

Skepticism and Animal Feed wrote:I think it's been a few years since we've had an argument about this, but I think (and hope) that quizbowl theory's general position is still that you should make giveaways as easy as possible: at that point it's simply better for the long-term health of the game to increase tossup conversion rates. Making tossups harder by making the giveaway harder makes the game less satisfying for novice players in exchange for questionable benefits.


This has always been my thought. I find myself most in line with this and what was said later on by Evan, etc. (at least at Regs and maybe Regs+)

Irreligion in Bangladesh wrote:the type of player who buzzes before "FTP" is read after the other team negs even if there aren't powers - so they won't even hear your giveaway. :)


Gonna just hope that isn't a real kind of player :/

Cheynem wrote: I really dislike geography giveaways for history tossups, for example.


May I ask why? My first thought when it comes to dropping the capital is that you could theoretically have learned the capital from studying history since obviously most countries have lots of history tied into their capitals. But I'm curious why they bother you (on the other hand I understand all other forms of cross-distributional being annoying).

In general, with regards to dropping an easier last line than might seen logical based on the difficulty level, it seems to me that the net benefit of people getting tossups outweighs stylistic concerns (up until regular+ I'd figure). For example:

1.82 wrote:from a competitive standpoint, it'd be better for that tossup to go dead if neither team has knowledge than it would be for one team to get points for being faster to hit the buzzer.


How much does it really matter if the two new teams at the bottom of the bottom bracket aren't "truly, competitively" distinguished? (If this is not a realistic situation with whatever difficulty level your point is speaking to then ignore me)
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Re: Giveaways for "lesser-known" stuff about common things

Postby vinteuil » Wed Jun 21, 2017 8:00 pm

Neggman wrote:
Cheynem wrote: I really dislike geography giveaways for history tossups, for example.


May I ask why? My first thought when it comes to dropping the capital is that you could theoretically have learned the capital from studying history since obviously most countries have lots of history tied into their capitals. But I'm curious why they bother you (on the other hand I understand all other forms of cross-distributional being annoying).

I think the reason Mike and NAQT (and I) dislike this is because capital->country knowledge is very often learned as a no-context trivia game (Sporcle quizzes and the like), so that it's often learned at the level of "President #26" and "5th-largest lake in Asia."
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Re: Giveaways for "lesser-known" stuff about common things

Postby Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Thu Jun 22, 2017 5:29 pm

I am going to side strongly with Jason here. Perhaps this is an unpopular position, but these days I generally think it's better for a tossup to go dead than to play out as a buzzer race for less knowledgeable teams. For example, I think the tossup on "whips" from ACF Nationals was a fine idea, except that it had an atrocious giveaway that probably turned into an instant buzzer race for teams with no music knowledge, and which people with limited music knowledge probably couldn't really anticipate either (you go from Ravel's piano concerto to saying "this instrument is made with two blocks of wood to "this tool that has a namesake 'crack.'
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