"Regular" High School Difficulty

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Re: "Regular" High School Difficulty

Post by centralhs » Mon Apr 25, 2011 10:18 pm

Your example doesn't give good enough evidence because there's a small sample size (one instance!) and I don't think Alpharetta and Chatahoochee were comparable in skill anyway. Chatahoochee has beaten Alpharetta in pretty much every meeting from what a quick search gives me.
I think that when Kay referred to Chattahoochee here, he really meant to say Centennial, since those were the two schools that Charlie compared with his statistics.
Last edited by centralhs on Tue Apr 26, 2011 1:00 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: "Regular" High School Difficulty

Post by AKKOLADE » Mon Apr 25, 2011 11:35 pm

AlphaQuizBowler wrote:Basically, my first post in this thread was about how we describe the difficulty of sets rather than any sort of judgment about the relative or absolute difficulty of high school quizbowl, such that I honestly don't know where statements like this one:
Fred wrote:[Y]ou must realize that making "regular difficulty tournaments" harder is the last thing you want to do; in fact, regular difficulty tournaments must become easier.
even came or who they were arguing with (though I again acknowledge that Fred makes a really good point about scarce resources in that same post).
AlphaQuizBowler wrote:To me, LIST and recent HSAPQ sets are what I would classify as the "easy" of high school level. Which isn't a problem, as I think the writers make a concerted (and largely successful) effort to make those tournaments extremely accessible. Tournaments like GSAC and BATE represent my ideal of "regular difficulty" high school sets.
I mean, that's kind of what that sounds like to me.
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Re: "Regular" High School Difficulty

Post by AlphaQuizBowler » Tue Apr 26, 2011 3:13 pm

Fred wrote:
AlphaQuizBowler wrote:Basically, my first post in this thread was about how we describe the difficulty of sets rather than any sort of judgment about the relative or absolute difficulty of high school quizbowl, such that I honestly don't know where statements like this one:
Fred wrote:[Y]ou must realize that making "regular difficulty tournaments" harder is the last thing you want to do; in fact, regular difficulty tournaments must become easier.
even came or who they were arguing with (though I again acknowledge that Fred makes a really good point about scarce resources in that same post).
AlphaQuizBowler wrote:To me, LIST and recent HSAPQ sets are what I would classify as the "easy" of high school level. Which isn't a problem, as I think the writers make a concerted (and largely successful) effort to make those tournaments extremely accessible. Tournaments like GSAC and BATE represent my ideal of "regular difficulty" high school sets.
I mean, that's kind of what that sounds like to me.
Only if you are assuming that all high school sets should be "regular difficulty," which is exactly what my post was arguing against. I don't see how that sentence could logically be interpreted as asking for harder questions given the sentence that comes before it, which states very clearly that I don't have a problem with LIST and HSAPQ being (relatively) easy and extremely accessible. I don't think the writers of LIST and HSAPQ sets should make their sets the difficulty of GSAC, I just think they should be more clear in describing the difficulty of their sets. I feel like a lot of people just saw the topic "good high school player discussing difficulty of questions" and jumped in without really reading and understanding what I was trying to say. If you want to call HSAPQ "regular difficulty," I'm fine with that, but what I'm saying is that you can't go and also call GSAC "regular difficulty" without reducing that term to meaninglessness.
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Re: "Regular" High School Difficulty

Post by grapesmoker » Tue Apr 26, 2011 4:22 pm

The problem with your requests for clarity is that no one has any good sense of what the word "regular" means. This is something we have ground over about a million times in collegiate QB. It used to be the case that ACF Fall was "regular," and ACF Regionals was something in between Fall and Nationals. Over time, Regionals got harder, then got easier and Fall got much easier, but there's still no real "definition" of "regular difficulty" other than pointing at, say, this or last year's Regionals and saying, "like that." The problem though is that if you pick the wrong thing to call "regular" you're going to define difficulty upwards (or is it downwards? in any case...) and then someone will advertise a tournament as regular difficulty and it will be hard and people will be upset. From all I've heard GSAC was a great set, but I don't see any benefit from calling it the paradigmatic regular difficulty event, rather than applying that label to something like LIST.
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Re: "Regular" High School Difficulty

Post by AKKOLADE » Tue Apr 26, 2011 5:01 pm

AlphaQuizBowler wrote:Only if you are assuming that all high school sets should be "regular difficulty," which is exactly what my post was arguing against. I don't see how that sentence could logically be interpreted as asking for harder questions given the sentence that comes before it, which states very clearly that I don't have a problem with LIST and HSAPQ being (relatively) easy and extremely accessible. I don't think the writers of LIST and HSAPQ sets should make their sets the difficulty of GSAC, I just think they should be more clear in describing the difficulty of their sets. I feel like a lot of people just saw the topic "good high school player discussing difficulty of questions" and jumped in without really reading and understanding what I was trying to say. If you want to call HSAPQ "regular difficulty," I'm fine with that, but what I'm saying is that you can't go and also call GSAC "regular difficulty" without reducing that term to meaninglessness.
So I shouldn't infer from your saying that GSAC and BATE are your ideas of "regular difficulty" sets that you don't intend for regular difficulty to be defined as harder, since you keep pointing to GSAC as a harder set?

And about that whole GSAC being overly hard:

Average 13.93 ppb
Median: 13.60
3rd Quartile: 18.32
1st Quartile: 9.07
Standard Deviation: 5.638399027

I don't doubt it's boosted by the strength of the field, but I don't think that explains the similarity of the 1st quartile value with that of the combined IS sets.
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Re: "Regular" High School Difficulty

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Tue Apr 26, 2011 6:09 pm

Fred wrote:So I shouldn't infer from your saying that GSAC and BATE are your ideas of "regular difficulty" sets that you don't intend for regular difficulty to be defined as harder, since you keep pointing to GSAC as a harder set?
I think he's making the semantic point that he wants GSAC/BATE to be called regular difficulty, but he wants most tournaments to be easier than regular difficulty. Probably.
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Re: "Regular" High School Difficulty

Post by Steeve Ho You Fat » Tue Apr 26, 2011 6:18 pm

Crazy Andy Watkins wrote:
Fred wrote:So I shouldn't infer from your saying that GSAC and BATE are your ideas of "regular difficulty" sets that you don't intend for regular difficulty to be defined as harder, since you keep pointing to GSAC as a harder set?
I think he's making the semantic point that he wants GSAC/BATE to be called regular difficulty, but he wants most tournaments to be easier than regular difficulty. Probably.
Wouldn't it be easier (and less insulting to teams that don't feel prepared for GSAC/etc.) to call LIST/HSAPQ level regular difficulty and have these higher difficulty tournaments be regular+?
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Re: "Regular" High School Difficulty

Post by Matt Weiner » Tue Apr 26, 2011 6:19 pm

Only one of those tournaments even is higher difficulty, which just goes to show how stupid this thread is because people refuse to deal in facts and reality and instead live in fantasy worlds.
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Re: "Regular" High School Difficulty

Post by AlphaQuizBowler » Tue Apr 26, 2011 6:23 pm

Crazy Andy Watkins wrote:
Fred wrote:So I shouldn't infer from your saying that GSAC and BATE are your ideas of "regular difficulty" sets that you don't intend for regular difficulty to be defined as harder, since you keep pointing to GSAC as a harder set?
I think he's making the semantic point that he wants GSAC/BATE to be called regular difficulty, but he wants most tournaments to be easier than regular difficulty. Probably.
This is pretty close to what I'm saying. My saying that "regular difficulty" is one thing doesn't mean I think that every high school set should be that difficulty--I thought my initial post made it very clear I believed in the importance of multiple levels of difficulty at the high school level, from novice sets all the way up to NSC and NASAT. Sets like LIST and HSAPQ have a purpose, and I thought I had made that clear from the outset. As I said in a previous post, it's just a semantic issue. But I think it's an important semantic issue, because players should be able to have a reasonable idea of the difficulty of a tournament they sign up for.
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Re: "Regular" High School Difficulty

Post by AlphaQuizBowler » Tue Apr 26, 2011 6:29 pm

Matt Weiner wrote:Only one of those tournaments even is higher difficulty, which just goes to show how stupid this thread is because people refuse to deal in facts and reality and instead live in fantasy worlds.
I'd be curious to know which high school tournament this year is the one tournament you think was harder than the others.
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Re: "Regular" High School Difficulty

Post by theflyingdeutschman » Tue Apr 26, 2011 7:13 pm

Matt Weiner wrote:Only one of those tournaments even is higher difficulty, which just goes to show how stupid this thread is because people refuse to deal in facts and reality and instead live in fantasy worlds.
Well that depends on the definition of "regular" difficulty, which is what we are here to discuss.
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Re: "Regular" High School Difficulty

Post by The King's Flight to the Scots » Tue Apr 26, 2011 7:29 pm

AlphaQuizBowler wrote:
Crazy Andy Watkins wrote:
Fred wrote:So I shouldn't infer from your saying that GSAC and BATE are your ideas of "regular difficulty" sets that you don't intend for regular difficulty to be defined as harder, since you keep pointing to GSAC as a harder set?
I think he's making the semantic point that he wants GSAC/BATE to be called regular difficulty, but he wants most tournaments to be easier than regular difficulty. Probably.
This is pretty close to what I'm saying. My saying that "regular difficulty" is one thing doesn't mean I think that every high school set should be that difficulty--I thought my initial post made it very clear I believed in the importance of multiple levels of difficulty at the high school level, from novice sets all the way up to NSC and NASAT. Sets like LIST and HSAPQ have a purpose, and I thought I had made that clear from the outset. As I said in a previous post, it's just a semantic issue. But I think it's an important semantic issue, because players should be able to have a reasonable idea of the difficulty of a tournament they sign up for.
I'm really not sure what you're arguing for anymore. For one thing, HSAPQ does not even label its sets "regular" difficulty--it writes good sets, to be played by a wide range of teams. Some housewrites use their questions as a reference point to advertise their own projected difficulty. That's all. There's no grand council of elders declaring what "regular" difficulty is; it's an organic concept, estimated by the difficulty of an average tournament in a given year. Saying that "regular" difficulty should be harder is the same thing as arguing for a more difficult high school game. Having realized that this is a poor idea, you seem to be trying to confuse the issue by falling back on semantics. This is, however, barren ground for discussion.

Going back to a more meaningful debate, I don't see any reason for more "pre-nationals" high school sets. I don't really see people's arguments here: I played lots of regular high school sets last year, and I had plenty of meaningful matches against teams like Hunter, GDS, even State College and Gov. Similarly, I don't think we lost a single match on a regular high school set we couldn't have lost at NSC. Maybe Alpharetta and Pensacola are significantly better than we were last year, but otherwise, I don't see a case here. Regarding nationals, we make the NSC harder to make it more interesting tournament that tests a wider range of material, not because lower-level sets are entirely illegitimate. I would give more weight to the result of a game between top 10 teams on the NSC than on an average high school set, but that doesn't mean lower-level sets are unplayable for any team, let alone enough teams to merit the creation of special, regular+ tournaments.

On the other hand, if you're alleging that certain tournaments take too many clues straight from previous questions, that's another issue entirely. I don't think LIST did that, but I can understand how that would be a frustrating and unfulfilling experience for any team. However, that is not a question of difficulty at all. A clue is not necessarily more difficult because it has not come up before, and it doesn't become easier by coming up repeatedly. Strict adherence to old clues is a poor philosophy for writing, which not only fails to make sets actually easier, but makes them much less interesting to play. Don't get me wrong, I'm fine with choosing an answer because you learned about it in quizbowl and discovered it was a well-known thing; however, whenever you're writing a question for any level, go from the ground up and find clues on your own, rather than just using the ones that come up in every question. Assuming you're a good enough writer to determine a clue's importance from academic sources, this is a far sounder basis for your question-writing.
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Re: "Regular" High School Difficulty

Post by AlphaQuizBowler » Wed Apr 27, 2011 6:31 pm

Cernel Joson wrote:Having realized that this is a poor idea, you seem to be trying to confuse the issue by falling back on semantics.
So two pages into a discussion about what a certain word means, you realize it's about semantics? I'm not trying to "confuse the issue," not am I "falling back" on anything. That's what this thread was supposed to be about in the first place; you just didn't bother reading my first post.
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Re: "Regular" High School Difficulty

Post by Haaaaaaaarry Whiiiiiiiiiite » Wed Apr 27, 2011 6:41 pm

How about we call LIST "cabbage" difficulty and GSAC "alfalfa" difficulty and move on with our lives?
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Re: "Regular" High School Difficulty

Post by AKKOLADE » Wed Apr 27, 2011 7:11 pm

i like to think of regular difficulty as a mischievous badger
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Re: "Regular" High School Difficulty

Post by Algeria » Wed Apr 27, 2011 10:19 pm

I agree with Fred's statement that "regular difficulty" tournaments should be made easier, in the sense that high school sets should generally aim for a level of difficulty lower than the average difficulty level that they have been, as the numbers show that benchmarks like an average conversion of 15ppb aren't being achieved by the teams.

That said, I don't think William was arguing against that in any of his posts. The concept of a gradient of difficulty in high school sets is something I think would be interesting to talk about further. In high school quizbowl, all sets except for Fall Novice are labeled as "regular difficulty" because there isn't really anything else to call them -- we don't draw distinctions between difficulty the way collegiate quizbowl does between EACN, Fall, Regionals, Nats, and CO. It would be nice if the community decided on a benchmark for "regular difficulty" and writers then labeled their sets easier than, equal to, or harder than that standard of regular difficulty. As it stands, everything is labeled "regular difficulty" even though most of these sets are at distinguishably different levels of difficulty and nobody is even exactly sure what the phrase "regular difficulty" means.

One of the reasons I think this thread was derailed from William's original point was that some posters interpreted his suggestion as a statement that high school quizbowl needs to get harder, rather than that high school quizbowl question producers need to be clearer about the difficulty of a given set. Sets like HSAPQ and LIST are generally accepted to be easier than sets like GSAC and BATE, which are definitely easier than events like HFT, but all of these have claimed to be aiming for "regular difficulty," whatever that is. Should sets just try to do a better job of being "regular difficulty" (which, if we're trying to cater to the average team, should be somewhat easier than HSAPQ sets currently are), or should there instead be a range of difficulty levels that high school sets advertise themselves as aiming for, from Fall Novice-like to HFT-like?

I agree that sets should on average be made easier, as inexperienced teams aren't meeting the conversion numbers that had been hoped for. It is possible, though, that lowering the difficulty on average by that much for high school sets would considerably lessen the ability of the best high school players to have meaningful matches against each other (Matt asserts upthread that he hasn't had a problem with having meaningful matches against top-quality teams, but the "regular difficulty" sets he played were most likely harder than the standard of "regular difficulty" that the quizbowl community should be aiming for). Playing up in difficulty is an option for the best high school teams, but I'm not convinced that they should always have to... a few high school sets that are "pre-nationals" difficulty maybe to be played near the end of the year doesn't seem like a bad idea to me, especially if the aforementioned scenario proves to be the case.

tl;dr much of this was saying what Mike said but with more words
cheynem wrote: If all of this is an an attempt to perhaps label HS tournaments different things, i.e. set up more of an easy/medium/hard label system (LIST as easy, GSAC as medium, HFT as hard, to think superficially), I'd be okay with that. I agree with Fred and friends though that the vast majority of HS tournaments should be easy to medium.
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Re: "Regular" High School Difficulty

Post by The King's Flight to the Scots » Wed Apr 27, 2011 10:38 pm

Algeria wrote:I agree with Fred's statement that "regular difficulty" tournaments should be made easier, in the sense that high school sets should generally aim for a level of difficulty lower than the average difficulty level that they have been, as the numbers show that benchmarks like an average conversion of 15ppb aren't being achieved by the teams.

That said, I don't think William was arguing against that in any of his posts. The concept of a gradient of difficulty in high school sets is something I think would be interesting to talk about further. In high school quizbowl, all sets except for Fall Novice are labeled as "regular difficulty" because there isn't really anything else to call them -- we don't draw distinctions between difficulty the way collegiate quizbowl does between EACN, Fall, Regionals, Nats, and CO. It would be nice if the community decided on a benchmark for "regular difficulty" and writers then labeled their sets easier than, equal to, or harder than that standard of regular difficulty. As it stands, everything is labeled "regular difficulty" even though most of these sets are at distinguishably different levels of difficulty and nobody is even exactly sure what the phrase "regular difficulty" means.

One of the reasons I think this thread was derailed from William's original point was that some posters interpreted his suggestion as a statement that high school quizbowl needs to get harder, rather than that high school quizbowl question producers need to be clearer about the difficulty of a given set. Sets like HSAPQ and LIST are generally accepted to be easier than sets like GSAC and BATE, which are definitely easier than events like HFT, but all of these have claimed to be aiming for "regular difficulty," whatever that is. Should sets just try to do a better job of being "regular difficulty" (which, if we're trying to cater to the average team, should be somewhat easier than HSAPQ sets currently are), or should there instead be a range of difficulty levels that high school sets advertise themselves as aiming for, from Fall Novice-like to HFT-like?

I agree that sets should on average be made easier, as inexperienced teams aren't meeting the conversion numbers that had been hoped for. It is possible, though, that lowering the difficulty on average by that much for high school sets would considerably lessen the ability of the best high school players to have meaningful matches against each other (Matt asserts upthread that he hasn't had a problem with having meaningful matches against top-quality teams, but the "regular difficulty" sets he played were most likely harder than the standard of "regular difficulty" that the quizbowl community should be aiming for). Playing up in difficulty is an option for the best high school teams, but I'm not convinced that they should always have to... a few high school sets that are "pre-nationals" difficulty maybe to be played near the end of the year doesn't seem like a bad idea to me, especially if the aforementioned scenario proves to be the case.

tl;dr much of this was saying what Mike said but with more words
cheynem wrote: If all of this is an an attempt to perhaps label HS tournaments different things, i.e. set up more of an easy/medium/hard label system (LIST as easy, GSAC as medium, HFT as hard, to think superficially), I'd be okay with that. I agree with Fred and friends though that the vast majority of HS tournaments should be easy to medium.
The problem is that I don't think such labeling is a possibility. We're talking about a very narrow range of difficulty levels, and announcing beforehand whether your set is closer to LIST or GSAC, both of which seem to be well within the range of accessibility, seems impractical. Moreover, it's really not a tragedy if you don't know exactly how hard a certain event is going to be before you play it. It's high school quizbowl; unless the event is ludicrously inappropriate, the set is going to be pretty easy. You'll go in, buzz on things you know, win or lose. You know the drill.

As for the sets on which I had meaningful matches on top teams: I was talking about HSAPQ set 9, Ben Cooper, and Crystal City Classic, to name a few. All of those sets were definitely regular high school difficulty. I won't say we didn't have some buzzer races, maybe even more than usual, but those just happen in quizbowl. (As a side-note, one of my favorite matches in my career was the game we played against you at QuAC, where we barely won, and the two teams combined for 15 powers). Moreover, I've watched, for example, your team play plenty of meaningful matches on easy questions this year, even against Maggie Walker. As somebody who's had to do a lot of high school writing this year, I still think that writing entire "pre-nationals" sets for an exclusive audience is unfeasible. There are lots of college tournaments out there. You don't "have to" play them, but if you really want harder questions, it's much less burdensome for you to go play those than it would be for us to write new ones.

In other words, in an ideal world, some of these suggestions might be good; however, given the restraints already mentioned, I don't think they're practical to implement.
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Re: "Regular" High School Difficulty

Post by Matt Weiner » Wed Apr 27, 2011 11:04 pm

Yeah, also, the chronic inability of college editors to accurately gauge and announce the difficulty of their sets is an oft-discussed and consequential problem in college quizbowl; at best, it would be exactly as big of an issue in high school quizbowl.
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Re: "Regular" High School Difficulty

Post by DumbJaques » Sat Apr 30, 2011 12:34 am

Yeah, also, the chronic inability of college editors to accurately gauge and announce the difficulty of their sets is an oft-discussed and consequential problem in college quizbowl; at best, it would be exactly as big of an issue in high school quizbowl.
I don't really read the high school forums these days, but I had to drop in to emphasize that this is so violently true I can't even begin to explain it to people here. You're probably best off with taking a publicly-available set and saying "my tournament will be similar to X set in difficulty." This thread seems like a fool's errand of the highest order, except that at the end of the errand the fool turns around and beats you senseless with a printout of ACF Nationals, whereupon Tommy Casalaspi scolds you for not knowing enough about Walter Benjamin to avoid serious head trauma.
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Re: "Regular" High School Difficulty

Post by AlphaQuizBowler » Mon May 02, 2011 6:51 pm

DumbJaques wrote:You're probably best off with taking a publicly-available set and saying "my tournament will be similar to X set in difficulty."
I think that's a good suggestion.

Also, what's going on with the discussion of high schoolers in college tournaments? The general advice to good high school teams--offered in this thread by Jerry--has been "If you want to play more challenging questions, come to college tournaments." The advice in that thread, coupled with the posts of college players in this thread, makes it sound like college players intend to now tell top high school teams "You will play increasingly easier high school questions and like them, and on top of that you'll get to play nationals and perhaps the one high school tournament in your area that gets hosted on college questions." Maybe the issue of high school teams crowding out college teams is more prevalent in other areas, but it seems like a bad reason to advocate for such a broad policy as banning high school teams from college tournaments (though I would agree with banning open HS teams).
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Re: "Regular" High School Difficulty

Post by Urech hydantoin synthesis » Tue May 03, 2011 9:50 am

Being on an open team is the only way a Missouri high school player can participate in college tournaments.
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Re: "Regular" High School Difficulty

Post by Important Bird Area » Tue May 03, 2011 12:19 pm

I think the distinction being drawn was "teams whose players are all enrolled at the same high school" vs. "chimera team of all-stars from various high schools."
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