New teams & ACF Fall

Old college threads.
User avatar
Mr. Kwalter
Tidus
Posts: 617
Joined: Tue Nov 18, 2003 1:48 am
Location: Houston, TX

Post by Mr. Kwalter » Fri May 18, 2007 9:54 pm

The biggest problem with NAQT's IS set product is that they cannot decide whether the sets are high school questions or college questions. For most of the country, social science will not come up in high school. Yet it comes up in the regular level IS sets fairly regularly. Additionally, the sets often contain questions on topics I would deem too hard for ACF Fall. If NAQT were willing to just stop trying to market them dually and instead produce a solid high school-level set and a solid college-level set, that would be extremely productive.

And yes, there is a difference between ACF Fall and NAQT IS sets. Several actually. First, NAQT IS sets aren't called ACF. Fine, ACF isn't impossible, but it still has image problems that will only be resolved after Fall finally becomes the set it should be (reasonably short fully pyramidal tossups on easy things). Whoever it was who said that the Fall questions dropped off was right, last year's tournament suffered heavily from lack of middle clues. I'm confident, though, that this year's won't. The second fundamental difference is that IS sets are geared toward high schools, and that can be comforting to some teams. ACF questions are college questions, however reasonable in difficulty they may be, and that can sadly be intimidating.

Also, why does a low-level novice tournament not held on IS sets have to be packet sub? Someone write one. Just sayin'.

User avatar
Matt Weiner
Sin
Posts: 8411
Joined: Fri Apr 11, 2003 8:34 pm
Location: Richmond, VA

Post by Matt Weiner » Fri May 18, 2007 11:05 pm

NoahMinkCHS wrote:I agree with that, but... until NAQT produces IS-Plus or something, college tournaments will continue to be run on IS questions. Most teams that play on those questions -- predominately (at least I hope) novice level or "weekend warrior" type teams -- will have problems producing packets for submission tournaments, even novice level. It can be done, it can be done well sometimes (I think most teams at ACF Fall probably fall in this category, after all), but it will often be done poorly. And when people try to make it work... well, the reaction to Moon Pie on here is a good example. Instead of, "Hey let's host a novice-level packet submission tournament," one might as well say, "Let's subject our program to tons of criticism!"

I'm sure you can argue that, well, just because Moon Pie got that, another tournament at another place might not... And that may be. But most schools would also be giving things over to a first-time editor; most schools would also be receiving really crappy questions at the last minute that they can't do much with. So when NAQT will sell you a complete tournament set, made of decent quality (if low-level) questions, it can be seductive, especially to a smaller, younger program.
Well, Moon Pie was not advertised as a novice tournament in either difficulty or field exclusion, and the rancor directed towards Steinhice's tournaments is in fact directly related to how long he has been involved in the game as an editor and otherwise, so I don't know that the reaction would be quite the same. Your general point is well-taken, but I think there are plenty of experienced people out there willing to freelance-edit a novice tournament for about what NAQT would charge, if only someone would ask for such a service.

User avatar
Deviant Insider
Auron
Posts: 4530
Joined: Sun Jun 13, 2004 6:08 am
Location: Chicagoland

Post by Deviant Insider » Fri May 18, 2007 11:14 pm

Additionally, the sets often contain questions on topics I would deem too hard for ACF Fall.
I disagree. Looking at Matt Weiner's contribution to ACF Fall last year, there are tossups on SN2, Bertram, Sequoya, Glass siblings/family, Plotinus, and expert systems. Looking at Andrew Yaphe's, there are tossups on the Caroline affair, The Inspector General, functional languages, and Pontiac.

I've heard a lot of IS questions lately, and the tossups are easier. I'm not complaining--both ACF rounds I cited had plenty of questions accessible to above average high school teams. By my judgement, if you took the easiest 80% of questions from ACF Fall and the hardest 80% of questions from IS, the difficulty levels would match. That's a substantial overlap. (There is also a major difference in that ACF is more focused on academic material.)

The ACF Fall bonuses are definitely more difficult than IS bonuses. My high school team can convert over 20 PPB on IS, and they would get nowhere near that on ACF Fall bonuses. Again, that's not a complaint--an average team should get around 15 PPB, and my team would not run circles around a bunch of college teams.

User avatar
Matt Weiner
Sin
Posts: 8411
Joined: Fri Apr 11, 2003 8:34 pm
Location: Richmond, VA

Post by Matt Weiner » Fri May 18, 2007 11:21 pm

ReinsteinD wrote:I've heard a lot of IS questions lately, and the tossups are easier. I'm not complaining--both ACF rounds I cited had plenty of questions accessible to above average high school teams. By my judgement, if you took the easiest 80% of questions from ACF Fall and the hardest 80% of questions from IS, the difficulty levels would match. That's a substantial overlap. (There is also a major difference in that ACF is more focused on academic material.)

The ACF Fall bonuses are definitely more difficult than IS bonuses. My high school team can convert over 20 PPB on IS, and they would get nowhere near that on ACF Fall bonuses. Again, that's not a complaint--an average team should get around 15 PPB, and my team would not run circles around a bunch of college teams.
This seems largely correct. I would expect a newbie collegiate team to do about 15% better on NAQT high school questions than on ACF Fall. But, for collegiate teams, I don't think scoring 348 points per game instead of 302 is enough of an increase in "fun" to justify throwing out the baby with the bathwater and playing a lot of buzzer-race leadins, trashy questions, and clues drawn from only a secondary education, that will in no way prepare people to ever play better material. Obviously some people disagree.

User avatar
Mr. Kwalter
Tidus
Posts: 617
Joined: Tue Nov 18, 2003 1:48 am
Location: Houston, TX

Post by Mr. Kwalter » Sat May 19, 2007 4:16 am

I'd like to note that I said they were topics I personally would deem too hard. Matt has historically had more lax difficulty standards than I, and I thought that caroline affair tossup was too hard when Andrew wrote it but was too chicken to say so.

Kyle
Auron
Posts: 1125
Joined: Tue Jun 15, 2004 1:16 pm
Location: Ifrane, Morocco / Oxford, UK / Issaquah, WA

Post by Kyle » Sat May 19, 2007 11:45 am

The difference in difficulty between an IS packet and ACF Fall is considerable. I never got to play on an IS packet in high school, but I played on one in September in violation of Matt's rule. There was an NAQT juniorbird tournament at BU and we figured we'd take the freshmen just to see how good they really were (pretty good, in fact: they got second). Anyway, it was one of those tournaments where the number of powers is greater than the number of tens. I learned my lesson from the experience and I'm done playing on high school questions. But I really don't think it's bad for somebody new to playing in college to play one tournament on high school questions, particularly if the EFT at Brown is scheduled on a date when he can't attend and there are no other tournaments before ACF Fall. Aaaaaaaaaaaanyway, stats:

Harvard A
IS questions (20/20 untimed): 24.72 ppb, 499.2 ppg
ACF fall: 19.11 ppb, 357.5 ppg

Harvard "B"
missing their best player on IS questions: 23.84 ppb, 388.5 ppg
with him for ACF fall: 18.45 ppb, 267.9 ppg

Is it possible that the difference between IS questions and ACF Fall questions is greater for less experienced teams than it would be for, say, Matt and Jerry? I think so. The lowest ppb at ACF Fall was 8.89, while even a team that went 0-13 on IS questions managed 15.17 ppb.

8.89 ppb is kind of low. It's not fun to get lower than 10 on bonus conversion. Part of the problem was that no one on that team had ever played in high school (to my knowledge). Wouldn't IS questions have been a good one-time first introduction to the game?

I think so. But this fall we're taking the freshmen to Jerry's tournament, so it won't really matter. Make it easy, Jerry!

User avatar
Mr. Kwalter
Tidus
Posts: 617
Joined: Tue Nov 18, 2003 1:48 am
Location: Houston, TX

Post by Mr. Kwalter » Sat May 19, 2007 1:40 pm

Your empirical observations are obviously valid. So maybe if statistics show that ACF Fall is demonstrably not as easy as an IS set, perhaps it should be. Maybe (and by maybe I mean clearly) the ACF fall bonus standards are too high. Again, this is the product of trying to cater to players who shouldn't be playing the tournament anyway. I think if the fall editors decide to punt those considerations in favor of bonuses of moderate to low yet even difficulty, the 8.89 bc will go up.

Kyle
Auron
Posts: 1125
Joined: Tue Jun 15, 2004 1:16 pm
Location: Ifrane, Morocco / Oxford, UK / Issaquah, WA

Post by Kyle » Sat May 19, 2007 2:19 pm

That's not at all what I said. I said: IS sets are easier than ACF Fall; moreover, I think that the difference in difficulty level between the two is greater for teams with less experience. Therefore, for truly new teams, attending one or at most two tournaments on IS questions might be a good idea and that, for those teams, ACF Fall is probably not a good first quizbowl experience. That doesn't mean I think there is any problem at all with ACF Fall.

Kyle
Auron
Posts: 1125
Joined: Tue Jun 15, 2004 1:16 pm
Location: Ifrane, Morocco / Oxford, UK / Issaquah, WA

Post by Kyle » Sat May 19, 2007 2:21 pm

Oh, wait. I just realized your post could be interpreted in two different ways. Forgive me for being slow here. When you say "players who shouldn't be playing at all" — on which end of the spectrum do you mean?

User avatar
dtaylor4
Auron
Posts: 3733
Joined: Tue Nov 16, 2004 11:43 am

Post by dtaylor4 » Sat May 19, 2007 3:10 pm

I believe Eric is saying that those who are already established on the circuit (such as people who have or could help edit the tournament) shouldn't be playing.

At last year's ACF Fall, I led a team against the likes of Mike Sorice and Will Turner. I don't mind playing against and losing to better players, but I doubt that those two are the target audience of ACF Fall.

Kyle
Auron
Posts: 1125
Joined: Tue Jun 15, 2004 1:16 pm
Location: Ifrane, Morocco / Oxford, UK / Issaquah, WA

Post by Kyle » Sat May 19, 2007 3:32 pm

Yeah, you're right. For some reason, my initial thought was that his post was sarcastic. Please forgive me for associating the college section of this message board with sarcasm; sometimes it's an easy mistake to make.

User avatar
Mr. Kwalter
Tidus
Posts: 617
Joined: Tue Nov 18, 2003 1:48 am
Location: Houston, TX

Post by Mr. Kwalter » Sat May 19, 2007 3:42 pm

That's right, dude.

User avatar
cvdwightw
Auron
Posts: 3446
Joined: Tue May 13, 2003 12:46 am
Location: Southern CA
Contact:

Post by cvdwightw » Sat May 19, 2007 3:58 pm

While new teams should be the target of ACF Fall, the variability in the number of teams and quality of teams in different regions makes it impossible to make blanket restrictions on who can play. Consider that in the West we have six reasonably established circuit teams (Berkeley, Stanford, Caltech, USC, UCLA, UC Irvine) plus the occasional team from one or multiple Claremont Colleges and depending on if UCSD or UC Davis ever get back to the non-CBI circuit. I believe with the exception of teams whose primary circuit is not the West, those are the only teams that have shown up to anything on the West Coast since Wesley left Occidental. We depend on every one of those teams showing (or at least enough bringing multiple teams, which is never a given anymore) just to get a decent field. We're barely getting 6-8 teams as it is for ACF Fall; if we restrict it to this "newer player" dynamic we might get 3 or 4 due to bad recruiting years, transportation difficulties, and people just not being able to make it that weekend. I'm guessing the Southwest may be experiencing similar problems (take away all the experienced players, and you don't have enough to run a tournament). On the other hand, a circuit with a larger number of teams (e.g. Midwest) or a growing circuit (e.g. Northeast) would have a much easier time getting a reasonable tournament field with such restrictions.

Therefore, I do not think ACF Fall can empirically restrict "established" players from playing in ACF Fall. It's up to those players themselves to decide whether or not it would be in the best interest of that particular regional circuit for them to play. While I do not think these players have ever been the primary audience for ACF Fall, the fact is that they do comprise a numerous and vocal secondary audience, and this does influence the length and difficulty of the tournament.

User avatar
ezubaric
Rikku
Posts: 366
Joined: Mon Feb 09, 2004 8:02 pm
Location: College Park, MD
Contact:

Post by ezubaric » Sat May 19, 2007 4:43 pm

cvdwightw wrote: I believe with the exception of teams whose primary circuit is not the West, those are the only teams that have shown up to anything on the West Coast since Wesley left Occidental.
The team list from Technophobia VIII (after Wesley's departure). I tried to get as broad a field as I could:

1. UCLA (11-1)
2. Berkeley B (10-2)
3. Berkeley A (8-3)
4. Stanford (8-3)
5. Berkeley D (5-7)
6. Cal Poly Pomona (3-9)
7. UCSD (8-4)
8. Fresno B (7-5)
9. USC A (6-6)
10. USC C (5-7)
11. Harvey Mudd (5-7)
12. Berkeley C (5-7)
13. UCI (7-5)
14. USC B (6-6)
15. UCR (4-6) *left early
16. Caltech B (4-8)
17. Caltech A (2-10)
18. Fresno A (2-10)

At least when I was on the left coast, I found that the teams are out there, and willing to go to tournaments if you're willing to put forth the effort to get them there.

edit: To make it less off-topic
Jordan Boyd-Graber
UMD (College Park, MD), Faculty Advisor 2018-present
UC Boulder, Founder / Faculty Advisor 2014-2017
UMD (College Park, MD), Faculty Advisor 2010-2014
Princeton, Player 2004-2009
Caltech (Pasadena, CA), Player / President 2000-2004
Ark Math & Science (Hot Springs, AR), Player 1998-2000
Monticello High School, Player 1997-1998

Human-Computer Question Answering:
http://qanta.org/

User avatar
Skepticism and Animal Feed
Auron
Posts: 3170
Joined: Sat Oct 30, 2004 11:47 pm
Location: Arlington, VA

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Sat May 19, 2007 5:07 pm

I don't think there's anything wrong with experienced players playing on IS sets, as long as they don't make it their primary form of playing and as long as they don't skip legitimate ACF/NAQT/mACF tournaments for it.

I certainly look forward to attending lots of IS set tournaments at BU over the next three years, if there's no conflict there.
Bruce
Harvard '10 / UChicago '07 / Roycemore School '04
ACF Member emeritus
My guide to using Wikipedia as a question source

User avatar
Captain Sinico
Auron
Posts: 2838
Joined: Sun Sep 21, 2003 1:46 pm
Location: Champaign, Illinois

Post by Captain Sinico » Sun May 20, 2007 12:59 pm

jollyjew wrote:...Not to discount the skills and effort of people like Emily Pike and Pat Hope, but Carleton has Hilleman, and that's a significant variable when it comes to resources and experience in training players, so just take Carleton out of the picture.
Ah, but that's part of my point. It's much easier for someone like Eric Hilleman to exist and to be effective at a Carleton (say) than at an Illinois (say) in large part because the characteristics of the former as a small school and the latter as a large one. So, while the level of success that that program has achieved is exceptional, the mere facts of the situation they're in seem closer to typical; they're just able to get more talented people to work harder than others for a variety of reasons.

MaS
Mike Sorice
Coach, Centennial High School of Champaign, IL (2014-) & Team Illinois (2016-2018)
Alumnus, Illinois ABT (2000-2002; 2003-2009) & Fenwick Scholastic Bowl (1999-2000)
ACF
IHSSBCA
PACE

User avatar
jhn31
Wakka
Posts: 178
Joined: Sun Sep 03, 2006 9:18 pm
Location: Starkville, MS

Post by jhn31 » Sun May 20, 2007 3:20 pm

As a young player at a new program (Mississippi State), I'll say this:

I'm totally game to play at ACF Fall. There is unfortunately only other player on the MSU team who is. I've shown previous ACF packets to people and they always shy away and say it doesn't sound fun.
I anticipate getting 3 teams (maybe more) to NAQT Sectionals in 2008, but we'll have trouble even getting 1 team to ACF.

User avatar
Matt Weiner
Sin
Posts: 8411
Joined: Fri Apr 11, 2003 8:34 pm
Location: Richmond, VA

Post by Matt Weiner » Sun May 20, 2007 4:39 pm

jhn31 wrote:I'm totally game to play at ACF Fall. There is unfortunately only other player on the MSU team who is. I've shown previous ACF packets to people and they always shy away and say it doesn't sound fun.
I anticipate getting 3 teams (maybe more) to NAQT Sectionals in 2008, but we'll have trouble even getting 1 team to ACF.
This is what frustrates me. ACF Fall is easier than NAQT Sectionals in either DI or DII. Objective fact. So clearly the point differential is not the issue. Is it question length or style? Do people love geography and trash? Are powers supremely exciting? I really want to know what the cause of this mismatch is.

User avatar
The Time Keeper
Auron
Posts: 1541
Joined: Sat Apr 19, 2003 9:26 pm
Location: Michigan

Post by The Time Keeper » Sun May 20, 2007 4:44 pm

Matt Weiner wrote:
jhn31 wrote:I'm totally game to play at ACF Fall. There is unfortunately only other player on the MSU team who is. I've shown previous ACF packets to people and they always shy away and say it doesn't sound fun.
I anticipate getting 3 teams (maybe more) to NAQT Sectionals in 2008, but we'll have trouble even getting 1 team to ACF.
This is what frustrates me. ACF Fall is easier than NAQT Sectionals in either DI or DII. Objective fact. So clearly the point differential is not the issue. Is it question length or style? Do people love geography and trash? Are powers supremely exciting? I really want to know what the cause of this mismatch is.
I would guess it's either that NAQT has fun and quirky topics that new players like to hear questions on (I really hope it isn't this), or that people who don't know better hear the letters "ACF" and ignore whatever word comes immediately after them, leading them to believe that both ACF Fall and ACF Nationals fall under the heading of "Hard, boring stuff I don't want to play" because of various misconceptions of ACF "elitism" and such (actually, I hope it isn't this either).

Edit: It's possible that people might see ACF Fall questions and decide they don't like them but then I don't understand why these same people would choose to play college NAQT tournaments with, as Matt said, demonstrably harder questions. Do the extra couple of sentences per question really make it that agonizing?
Last edited by The Time Keeper on Sun May 20, 2007 4:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
grapesmoker
Sin
Posts: 6364
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2003 5:23 pm
Location: NYC
Contact:

Post by grapesmoker » Sun May 20, 2007 4:50 pm

Kyle wrote:I think so. But this fall we're taking the freshmen to Jerry's tournament, so it won't really matter. Make it easy, Jerry!
At the risk of sounding like I'm trying to deflect potential blame (although actually I'm interested in allocating what I hope will be credit where it's due), I'd just like to point out that this isn't really "my" tournament. Dennis and Eric are doing the vast majority of the writing, and while I may chip in with a packet or two, my role in this is more of an advisory one, with the intent to correct the problems of last year's set. We've been having an active discussion regarding difficulty and we're doing our best to make sure that this tournament will be accessible to all players.

More generally, I have several reasons for opposing the use of IS questions at the collegiate level; some of those reasons may be more plausibly classed as "aesthetic," and you can ignore that if you want, since I think the other reasons can be justified on utilitarian grounds.

First, the aesthetic reasons. I find the increasing use of IS questions in college to be symptomatic of two things that I personally deplore. One is the general attitude that I see in this country toward intellectual pursuits, namely, that if it's considered too hard or no fun, just don't do it. I think that's a good strategy for many things; I certainly wouldn't want to be forced to play a sport I didn't like. But I think it's a bad strategy when it comes to acquiring knowledge and generally becoming a well-rounded person, which is something I view as worthwhile in and of itself. It looks to me like some people seem to expect to come into the game and know everything, and when that turns out not to be the case, they claim that it's too hard and quit. The other thing I don't like about IS sets is that they represent the increasing commercialization of the game. As more and more teams choose IS-based tournaments, we run the risk of losing the independent packet submission event, which I fear will be soon displaced as the staple of quizbowl competition. I don't expect to convince many people with these points if they don't already share my premises, but I'm putting it out there for your consideration.

The larger point that I want to make is that this debate has been missing the crucial element that distinguishes quizbowl from other activities: namely, that someone has to actually produce the questions for teams to play on. If the NBA folded tomorrow, I could still play pick-up games with my friends at the park; all we need is a ball and a hoop. But I can't play quizbowl when no one is out there writing questions. Over the last few years, the majority of good tournaments have been produced by a relatively small group of writers. I think that ACF's move to actively recruit new editors this year is an excellent idea, and my hope is that those editors will go on not only to be the backbone of future ACF events, but also to edit packet-submission tournaments at their own schools. Nevertheless, I can't help but feel that this is only a holding action and that independent sources of questions and tournaments are slowly drying up. Of course, more experienced players can and do edit tournaments, but they also want to play them. If the only tournaments worth playing in my vicinity become those that I'm editing (thankfully, this is not the case), then eventually I'm going to stop.

That's the real problem with relying on IS sets; they take away any incentive to contribute to the game and transform it from a fundamentally active to a fundamentally passive experience. Whereas before you had to make some minimal effort in terms of writing packets (if you wanted to attend tournaments) or editing (if you wanted to run your own event), now all you have to do is email NAQT and get everything taken care of for you. I think this has the tendency to reduce the game to its lowest common denominator, since that's exactly what IS sets are, and it generally eliminates incentives to do anything but take the path of least resistance. Of course, there may always be isolated players who want something more out of the game, and we can expect that those people won't be satisfied with 500-10 wins at novice tournaments. However, we could expect that those players would thrive in any reasonably supportive atmosphere anyway. The system as it's turning out is not conducive to nurturing those players who may not be in the top 5% by motivation, but who are still interested in getting better, and would do so if offered sufficient chances. If teams continue to choose IS sets over other tournaments, pretty soon we're going to lose independent events altogether, and with that, quizbowl will degenerate to a quick mastery of a limited high school canon. Of course, having all tournaments run on IS sets is good for NAQT as a business, but I personally believe it's bad for quizbowl as a game.

It should be obvious to anyone that no one sticks around forever. Many of today's good editors and writers will be on their way out in the next couple of years. I hope that there will be others who will replace them, but I also think that the situation created by the widespread and growing use of IS questions is detrimental to this goal, and that's why I'm generally against their use except as a limited one-time introduction to something that is a semblance of the collegiate game.
Jerry Vinokurov
ex-LJHS, ex-Berkeley, ex-Brown, sorta-ex-CMU
code ape, loud voice, general nuissance

User avatar
jhn31
Wakka
Posts: 178
Joined: Sun Sep 03, 2006 9:18 pm
Location: Starkville, MS

Post by jhn31 » Sun May 20, 2007 5:41 pm

[quote="Matt Weiner"][quote="jhn31"]I'm totally game to play at ACF Fall. There is unfortunately only other player on the MSU team who is. I've shown previous ACF packets to people and they always shy away and say it doesn't sound fun.
I anticipate getting 3 teams (maybe more) to NAQT Sectionals in 2008, but we'll have trouble even getting 1 team to ACF.[/quote]

This is what frustrates me. ACF Fall is easier than NAQT Sectionals in either DI or DII. Objective fact. So clearly the point differential is not the issue. Is it question length or style? Do people love geography and trash? Are powers supremely exciting? I really want to know what the cause of this mismatch is.[/quote]

I think the longer questions intimidate some people (until we hosted an NAQT State Championship this past March, all tournaments in Mississippi have been Qunlimited-style). Our entire team does love geography and trash, though I don't think that's a big factor.
Honestly, I don't know what it is. Long tossups and the prospect of getting destroyed by people in their late 20's I guess.

User avatar
grapesmoker
Sin
Posts: 6364
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2003 5:23 pm
Location: NYC
Contact:

Post by grapesmoker » Sun May 20, 2007 6:10 pm

jhn31 wrote:I think the longer questions intimidate some people (until we hosted an NAQT State Championship this past March, all tournaments in Mississippi have been Qunlimited-style). Our entire team does love geography and trash, though I don't think that's a big factor. Honestly, I don't know what it is. Long tossups and the prospect of getting destroyed by people in their late 20's I guess.
1) People in their late 20s shouldn't be playing ACF Fall unless there's a shortage of teams. Even so, there are very few people who actually match this description, and at most you would play one or two games against them.

2) No matter how hard I try, I don't understand the idea that a longer question is intimidating. You're spending, like, an extra 5 to 10 seconds per tossup, max. How is this an intimidating experience?
Jerry Vinokurov
ex-LJHS, ex-Berkeley, ex-Brown, sorta-ex-CMU
code ape, loud voice, general nuissance

User avatar
The Logic of Scientific Disco
Wakka
Posts: 137
Joined: Mon Mar 19, 2007 9:36 pm
Location: Cambridge, MA

Post by The Logic of Scientific Disco » Sun May 20, 2007 6:46 pm

To awkwardly preface my response, hi, I'm Chris Kennedy from MIT; I'm a freshman hoping to help host a good tournament or two next year.
grapesmoker wrote: 2) No matter how hard I try, I don't understand the idea that a longer question is intimidating. You're spending, like, an extra 5 to 10 seconds per tossup, max. How is this an intimidating experience?
I think the problem is this: you have to spend longer listening to unfamiliar stuff. This sounds like a bad reason to dislike long questions, and I don't particularly agree with it. But I remember at the beginning of this year listening to long ACF Fall questions and just being totally lost most of the time--and that feeling can be pretty off-putting if you haven't experienced it before (I certainly hadn't in high school). So after successive philosophy, history, and literature questions, I would be totally zoned out, since each was a long string of random gibberish to me. In NAQT, on the other hand, you hear two sentences of unfamiliar stuff, an FTP, and suddenly, there's stuff you've heard of. It can be much friendlier, at least at first.

I think this also goes hand-in-hand with the idea of specialization--it's not uncommon but also not terribly common in high school, but absolutely key in college. I had to get used to basically listening closely to 8 or 9 tossups per packet on stuff I had a clue about--classical music, science, occasional trash and geography. It can be a tough adjustment.

All of that having been said, with enough exposure, I've grown to like longer questions, especially after I've seen how hard it is to write good, meaty 3- or 4-line tossups. So the answer to these problems might just be to say, "deal with it", or better yet, to encourage a good college try (so to speak).

Sorry for the rambling post; just my $.02.

User avatar
Sima Guang Hater
Auron
Posts: 1844
Joined: Mon Feb 05, 2007 1:43 pm
Location: Philadelphia, PA

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Sun May 20, 2007 6:47 pm

Small sidenote here:
grapesmoker wrote:
Kyle wrote:I think so. But this fall we're taking the freshmen to Jerry's tournament, so it won't really matter. Make it easy, Jerry!
At the risk of sounding like I'm trying to deflect potential blame (although actually I'm interested in allocating what I hope will be credit where it's due), I'd just like to point out that this isn't really "my" tournament. Dennis and Eric are doing the vast majority of the writing, and while I may chip in with a packet or two, my role in this is more of an advisory one, with the intent to correct the problems of last year's set.
Tweek from South park wrote:GAHH!!! Too much pressure!!!
Seriously, though, we'll make sure that the question difficulty is equal and gettable throughout. I personally am writing my packets with the first year players on my team in mind, ie, "is this something that they could get by the end?" You don't have to worry about questions on hardcore quantum field theory or obsure Blasco Ibanez works, for example.

But I want to make one point: "easy" doesn't mean we're going to spoonfeed you the answers. There will be no tossups on Sassure that begin with his work on Indo-European vowels, or tossups on anemia that begin with erythropoetin deficiency. At least for my part, I want to make sure that there are still hard clues in every question, and that every question doesn't become a buzzer race, ie moon pie. I think that that makes for bad quizbowl, and I think Jerry and most people on this board agree with me. And I want to try my hardest not to write bad quizbowl.

User avatar
grapesmoker
Sin
Posts: 6364
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2003 5:23 pm
Location: NYC
Contact:

Post by grapesmoker » Sun May 20, 2007 7:08 pm

ToStrikeInfinitely wrote:obsure Blasco Ibanez works
This implies that there's such a thing as a non-obscure work by Blasco Ibanez, which I'm not sure is true.

But yeah, questions will be pyramidal and have hard clues for the better players in the beginning with easy giveaways in the end.

I also appreciate Chris' perspective on things, and trust me, I remember the feeling. I guess it seems pretty obvious to me that given the space of acceptable answers and clues in the college game, one can't expect to be competitive on every question. There are very few people who can consistently expect to answer every tossup even on the giveaway, much less beat everyone else to it. I guess the lesson here is that unless you're Andrew or Subash, specialized teams win titles. It was true of almost every championship team not featuring either of those players that they broke down very well by subject area. That's not to say that they didn't include some awesome individuals, but the primary focus was on covering your base and making sure you're competitive on every tossup as a team. Maybe this is just a problem of inflated expectations; I don't think anyone should kid themselves into thinking they'll be putting up 50 PPG right away, but I think it would be great if everyone tried to get to that point.
Jerry Vinokurov
ex-LJHS, ex-Berkeley, ex-Brown, sorta-ex-CMU
code ape, loud voice, general nuissance

User avatar
ArloLyle
Lulu
Posts: 43
Joined: Tue Feb 06, 2007 8:57 pm
Location: Minneapolis, MN

Post by ArloLyle » Sun May 20, 2007 7:26 pm

At first I doubted this whole ACF Fall being easier than NAQT Sectionals thing, but then I looked at my stats.

Okay onto the topic at hand.

I think ChrisK is onto something. I find that one big thing that drives people away from ACF is the amount of time that generally elapses from the time a question starts and the time someone buzzes in. NAQT in general is more lively and exciting, and in my opinion there are few things more fun than timed matches, granted you have good reader.

As I have mentioned before I thoroughly enjoyed myself at ACF Fall this year, but at Vandy the tournament lasted until I think 10 or somewhere around there. This in and of itself will drive people away. I'm sure most if not all other hosts got done before this, and I wasn't as put off by it as some of my teammates, but it is a problem for some people that ACF rounds are longer and thus ACF tournaments are longer.

Lastly, the biggest deterrent is the way a lot of people describe ACF to new players. A lot of times when you have some entrenched head of the team, ACF is totally out of the question. They don't want to play, so no one on the team will play unless they take it upon themselves to go, which isn't very likely. Also, long before questions are even read there is often talk about how horrible ACF is. So new players already have bad opinions without knowing what the questions are like.

NAQT and NAQT style tournaments are what are most readily available to teams (in many parts of the country, no everywhere I'm sure) and so without much competition that is what people tend to favor by default.

User avatar
ShorterPearson
Wakka
Posts: 103
Joined: Thu May 10, 2007 3:35 pm
Location: Greeneville, TN
Contact:

Post by ShorterPearson » Sun May 20, 2007 8:06 pm

Everybody: THANK YOU for some really good, thought-provoking takes on this. I've learned more about the standing of the quiz-bowl community from this thread than from anything else I've done.

jhn31 from Mississippi State: e-mail me. chuck.pearson@gmail.com. I would like to talk to you at length.

I have a lot more that I'd like to add, but I'm going to save it for now. Y'all will hear from me again, don't doubt that.

chuck
Chuck Pearson
East Tennessee/Southwest Virginia quiz bowl flunky (and that won't change)
Vice President of Outreach (2018-2019), PACE (seriously, what even)
Associate Professor of Natural Science, Tusculum University (coming soon to a collegiate tournament in the Mid-South)
cpearson@tusculum.edu, @ShorterPearson where relevant

User avatar
No Rules Westbrook
Auron
Posts: 1222
Joined: Mon Nov 22, 2004 1:04 pm
Contact:

Post by No Rules Westbrook » Sun May 20, 2007 8:26 pm

I think this also goes hand-in-hand with the idea of specialization--it's not uncommon but also not terribly common in high school, but absolutely key in college. I had to get used to basically listening closely to 8 or 9 tossups per packet on stuff I had a clue about--classical music, science, occasional trash and geography. It can be a tough adjustment.
This statement presents a lot of interesting sub-issues that I won't get too far off-topic discussing, but it might be worth a foray. You can certainly make the case that specializing in knowledge is more useful or more efficient or justified because you can build title-winning teams that way, etc. But I've never been a big fan of the specialist mentality. Now, when you're beginning, Chris is right that you may be well-served to pick a subject or two and say "okay, I'm going to make myself into a decent history player," for example. But, once you get to be decent at those subjects, it's really doable to build outward and generalize. Maybe your attitude then changes to something like "okay, I want to be able to at least have a good guess at 18 or 19 of the 20 tossups by the giveaway." And then maybe you decide "I'm going to be an effective generalist at the acf fall level" and so on. You can always exempt a handful of subjects you really hate or just sound like utter gibberish to you (say, math or comp sci). Most of the better players in today's game are, in fact, pretty solid generalists...the college game doesn't require specialization, and honestly I think that determined specializing is wrong-headed.

A lot of my preference comes from a bigger argument: I think that the biggest disease on quizbowl is the fact that people are conditioned to care more about the game aspect than the acquisition of knowledge. I've made this point before and so have others, but I can't help return to it. People will respond with the all-too-familiar query "Isn't this game about having fun?"...and then they'll plaintively say that they just enjoy winning games and getting trophies and the feel of pressing a buzzer and seeing points accumulate for their team like money on the big board at a telethon for testicular beriberi. Sure, all players pretty much do, but undercutting good quizbowl is this idea that what is really important is the knowledge itself. I'm not making a "love of learning" argument necessarily; there are plenty of motivations for acquiring knowledge. But, when the discussion becomes more about the "game," bad things start to happen - people start to argue that listening to slighty longer questions is troubling and frightening and that there are few things more exciting in life than playing qb with clocks...and what other demons lurk on this path of terror?

User avatar
ChopinManiac
Lulu
Posts: 69
Joined: Sun Dec 28, 2003 2:16 pm
Contact:

Post by ChopinManiac » Sun May 20, 2007 8:44 pm

Even if you were to make the "love of learning" argument, I really don't see what that would have to do with specialization in quizbowl. Someone who really enjoys a certain topic and chooses to spend the majority of their time learning about it would, in my opinion, be the epitome of someone who has a "love of learning". They have chosen to become an expert in an area that holds special interest to them. I really don't see how you can argue that this takes away from the their general love of quizbowl. It doesn't have to be about winning and getting shiny trophies. It might just be as simple as genuinely enjoying certain academic subjects more than others.

User avatar
No Rules Westbrook
Auron
Posts: 1222
Joined: Mon Nov 22, 2004 1:04 pm
Contact:

Post by No Rules Westbrook » Sun May 20, 2007 9:21 pm

I'll clarify. My argument against specialization is pretty much separate from my argument against the game aspect, but they're sort of generally connected. The preference for generalism is just pretty much personal, and if someone really wants to learn about one or two things, that's quite fine. They're certainly not the type of people who are implicated by the second argument.

User avatar
cvdwightw
Auron
Posts: 3446
Joined: Tue May 13, 2003 12:46 am
Location: Southern CA
Contact:

Post by cvdwightw » Sun May 20, 2007 9:50 pm

ArloLyle wrote:NAQT in general is more lively and exciting, and in my opinion there are few things more fun than timed matches, granted you have good reader...it is a problem for some people that ACF rounds are longer and thus ACF tournaments are longer.
1. I haven't seen anyone argue that ACF Fall questions don't need to be shorter. While this length is fine for Nationals and probably Regionals too, those are targeted at a different audience of people who can tolerate the occasional 12-line behemoth. If ACF Fall was scaled back to maybe a 5-6 line average, that's only maybe a sentence longer than the typical NAQT question.

2. Where do these hypothetical good (and by good I mean relatively fast and understandable) readers come from? Most clubs are going to have at least one slow reader, and whereas this doesn't make a big difference in timed tournaments (big deal you get through 18 questions instead of 24, but you're less than half an hour behind schedule), this makes a huge difference in untimed tournaments (20 questions in 30 minutes vs. 20 questions in 40 minutes, with a 12 round tournament that's 2 hours behind already).

3. There is also a contention (I believe it is valid), that when people are "on the clock" they tend to eliminate the small talk after a tossup/bonus part, or at least if they do say something the moderator ignores it and continues reading. When there isn't a set amount of time to finish, people inadvertently delay the tournament.

4. It appears to me that MCMNT at Illinois and various mirrors had roughly comparable stats to ACF Fall (with slightly higher bonus conversion at the bottom level). The tossups were of approximately NAQT length, with slightly longer bonus parts. If teams continue to show up to MCMNT/mirrors and other similar tournaments and perform similarly, I believe the only conclusion to make would be that teams have issues with length, not difficulty or distribution, thus all but destroying the ACF IS IMPOSSIBLE argument. If these teams do not show to these non-IS novice tournaments, then maybe people do want to play 400-300 games and hear one line of a tossup before buzzing in, in which case it wouldn't matter how long the tossup is as long as it's on something easy and there's a giveaway in the first couple of lines and there would have to be a radical shift in philosophy. Now I don't think that the latter is the case (at least I hope it isn't), but I think the (in some people's eyes) excessive length at ACF Fall is how they measure difficulty, not by whether they've heard of the answer or would have a chance at getting it somewhat later in the question.

User avatar
QuizbowlPostmodernist
Wakka
Posts: 174
Joined: Wed Aug 13, 2003 12:22 am

Post by QuizbowlPostmodernist » Mon May 21, 2007 3:21 am

This is probably going to Matt Weiner curse, but I just may eke out another quizbowl theory post at some point over this.

For now, let me just say that tossup difficulty (or the perception of difficulty) isn't just about the ease of the last clues. Not knowing exactly how NAQT chooses their power marks, I would guess that most average-to-mediocre teams would feel the power marks are placed acceptably if a game between two average teams has 3-5 powered tossups. If power marks are harder, then power tossups seem like a pointless thing. Whether or not you think powers are a good idea, if you're going to use them, then you need to make them occur frequently enough to have a possible impact on games rather than keep them as rare novelties.

What does that have to do with the difficulty of ACF Fall tossups? The middle clues should be written so that a game between two teams that are average among the nation field of teams competing is going to see X tossups answered by the midpoint. (And a game between teams that would place in the top ten at ACF Nationals should see Y tossups answered by the midpoint of the question, where Y is a number larger than X, obviously.) I would even say that, based on what people in this thread suggest is the difficulty goal of ACF Fall, that every tossup should be written with the hopes that it will be answered in at least one room in the country by the end of the first sentence. It doesn't take away from pyramidality to have the average lead-in at ACF Fall be easier than the average lead-in at Regionals or Nationals.

What value should X have? I'm not sure, but the giveaway isn't the only factor in evaluating the difficulty of a question.

User avatar
Mr. Kwalter
Tidus
Posts: 617
Joined: Tue Nov 18, 2003 1:48 am
Location: Houston, TX

Post by Mr. Kwalter » Mon May 21, 2007 4:25 am

Actually, I think I said earlier that previous ACF Falls have had a problem with length and middle clues and that that should and hopefully will be rectified this time. 6 line hard cap would do ACF Fall a lot of good.

User avatar
No Rules Westbrook
Auron
Posts: 1222
Joined: Mon Nov 22, 2004 1:04 pm
Contact:

Post by No Rules Westbrook » Mon May 21, 2007 1:40 pm

You're both absolutely right with length caps and gettable leadins and middle clues on acf fall questions (and other easier tourneys). I'd just like to point out that this is often easier said than done. Say you want to write a tossup on X (which there have been umpteen tus on obviously) - you look at your possible clues and you have a stack of things most people won't know and a stack of things most people will know. It can be awfully tough to find clues that fall in between those two poles. It's easy to just say "well then, don't write a tossup on X because you can't write one with a good pyramid." But, X may be an important thing that there should be tossups on, and the canon is pretty limited at some levels and this is a problem that tends to happen over and over again (plus it takes time/ work/effort to amass clues and then abandon tossups).

With acf fall, at least you have the benefit that the target audience is people with little experience. So, lots of the clues that would go into your "most people probably will know this" pile are actually good middle clues for people with little exposure to a higher canon. Too often probably, people who write or edit easy sets either forget this or more likely they misjudge who will know what at what level (which is really easy to do).

But my general point is: while it's all nice and good to propound these ideas of the "proper pyramid," sometimes it's hard to pull off in practice even for the best writers. So, just for future reference - if you're going to shout "where are the middle clues!," at least suggest specific things you'd use as middle clues. Sometimes the pyramid is a little misshapen because you have no choice, sometimes earlier clues are unhelpful or confusing or labyrinthine because you're trying to squeeze blood from a stone ("I know there's another good leadin for this grignard reagents tossup, damn it!"), etc.

User avatar
ValenciaQBowl
Auron
Posts: 2325
Joined: Thu Feb 05, 2004 2:25 pm
Location: Orlando, Florida

Post by ValenciaQBowl » Mon May 21, 2007 2:00 pm

I write 250+ toss-ups and bonuses each year for my Delta Burke CC tournament, comprising an audience ranging from a few third-year players from Valencia or Broward with 25+ tournaments behind them (there are playing restrictions, however, which I won't bore you with) to a vast majority with no HS experience playing in their first tournament. So the quandary described by Ryan above is recognizable to me. The answer space for such a crowd is pretty narrow compared to most four-year tournaments, including ACF Fall. Every year stuff like Brown v. Board, Catcher in the Rye, grignard reagents, Carl Jung, and Vivaldi are going to get asked, so I have to figure out how to make clues a little challenging to the stars but accessible to the completely brand newbies (which, as I said, includes most of the field).

My answer will be unsatisfactory (if not heretical) to some, but I go ahead and re-use some lead-ins which are pretty canonical and frequently used. Yeah, the couple superstar players gobble some questions up before the first period is marked, which is what stars do, but the rest are exposed to a stock lead-in which they are expected to know, so they can recognize it later as a bonus part or later part of a harder tournament's toss-up. We can't expect folks to learn the "stock lead ins" if we all work hard never to use them.

The stated purpose of ACF Fall is to acculturate players to the purely academic game. The questions need to reflect that. That probably means that some clues that would be considered stale to someone who's played for four years ought to be allowed to appear. This doesn't preclude superstar grad students from playing; they just have to understand that some clues won't challenge them.

User avatar
Matt Weiner
Sin
Posts: 8411
Joined: Fri Apr 11, 2003 8:34 pm
Location: Richmond, VA

Post by Matt Weiner » Mon May 21, 2007 2:25 pm

I think we took a lot of the middle clue and question length discussion post-ACF Fall to heart when crafting Penn Bowl, so please take a look at that set if you have it (I'll put up a couple packets later for those who don't) and tell me if the non-ACF-fans you know would be more interested in playing a tournament that looks like that.

User avatar
theMoMA
Forums Staff: Administrator
Posts: 5650
Joined: Mon Oct 23, 2006 2:00 am

Post by theMoMA » Mon May 21, 2007 2:33 pm

ArloLyle wrote:I think ChrisK is onto something. I find that one big thing that drives people away from ACF is the amount of time that generally elapses from the time a question starts and the time someone buzzes in. NAQT in general is more lively and exciting, and in my opinion there are few things more fun than timed matches, granted you have good reader.
I'm going to disagree with you a little here...sorry for interrupting the conversation flow. I don't think that what makes people like NAQT is the timer. Pretty much everyone I have talked to is either indifferent to the timer or abhors it. It seems like a shaky explanation that some of the most knowledgable college students in the nation are so captivated by the "lively and exciting" NAQT matches that they shun ACF.

Question length has a lot to do with why ACF is less popular than it should be, but that's a factor pushing people away from ACF. All I'm saying is that I don't think that lively gameplay is much of a pull factor to NAQT.

User avatar
Mike Bentley
Auron
Posts: 5709
Joined: Fri Mar 31, 2006 11:03 pm
Location: Bellevue, WA
Contact:

Post by Mike Bentley » Mon May 21, 2007 2:43 pm

theMoMA wrote:
ArloLyle wrote:I think ChrisK is onto something. I find that one big thing that drives people away from ACF is the amount of time that generally elapses from the time a question starts and the time someone buzzes in. NAQT in general is more lively and exciting, and in my opinion there are few things more fun than timed matches, granted you have good reader.
I'm going to disagree with you a little here...sorry for interrupting the conversation flow. I don't think that what makes people like NAQT is the timer. Pretty much everyone I have talked to is either indifferent to the timer or abhors it. It seems like a shaky explanation that some of the most knowledgable college students in the nation are so captivated by the "lively and exciting" NAQT matches that they shun ACF.

Question length has a lot to do with why ACF is less popular than it should be, but that's a factor pushing people away from ACF. All I'm saying is that I don't think that lively gameplay is much of a pull factor to NAQT.
I dunno, as much as I dislike the distrbution of NAQT, one thing that I do enjoy is the excitement of the matches. Artificial or not, the timing makes matches a good bit more interesting.

And, again, the shorter questions (and shorter matches overall) also help newer players shrug off things they don't know. I felt much less intimidated after playing my first NAQT D-II Sectionals than some early in the year mACF tournaments (I don't think I went to ACF Fall my freshman year). It's important to not forget that the overall length of the day can drive a lot of people off. Getting people up early is hard enough to do in college. Having tournaments that extend past 5 PM doesn't really help get a lot of new players excited about coming back to Quizbowl tournaments.
Mike Bentley
Treasurer, Partnership for Academic Competition Excellence
Adviser, Quizbowl Team at University of Washington
University of Maryland, Class of 2008

User avatar
ArloLyle
Lulu
Posts: 43
Joined: Tue Feb 06, 2007 8:57 pm
Location: Minneapolis, MN

Post by ArloLyle » Wed May 23, 2007 8:51 am

theMoMA wrote:
ArloLyle wrote:I think ChrisK is onto something. I find that one big thing that drives people away from ACF is the amount of time that generally elapses from the time a question starts and the time someone buzzes in. NAQT in general is more lively and exciting, and in my opinion there are few things more fun than timed matches, granted you have good reader.
I'm going to disagree with you a little here...sorry for interrupting the conversation flow. I don't think that what makes people like NAQT is the timer. Pretty much everyone I have talked to is either indifferent to the timer or abhors it. It seems like a shaky explanation that some of the most knowledgable college students in the nation are so captivated by the "lively and exciting" NAQT matches that they shun ACF.
Sorry if I was a bit confusing. I wasn't bringing up timed matches as an explanation of why people shun ACF. I was bringing it up as a reason why I personally like NAQT Sectionals and ICT. I know there are plenty of people who can't stand the timer, but I do think my comment about NAQT being more lively and exciting still holds true. I was just talking about about question length mostly as well as middle clues and stuff that other people have been discussing already.

Also, I should point out that adding a timer only makes a tournament better (again in my eyes, I'm not making an objective point) if you already have well written questions and the very novel concept of bonuses with equal point values.

User avatar
Deviant Insider
Auron
Posts: 4530
Joined: Sun Jun 13, 2004 6:08 am
Location: Chicagoland

Post by Deviant Insider » Thu May 24, 2007 3:41 pm

Quizbowl matches are exciting when you don't know when the question is going to get answered. If two teams are so good that between them they know all the lead-ins, then it won't be a good match even though it is played at a very high level. Even more importantly, if two teams are so weak that their only chance on tossups is the giveaway, then the match will be miserable for everybody involved. It doesn't matter whether the giveaway comes after two lines, four lines, six lines, or eight lines.

It's OK if some questions go to the end before anybody buzzes in, and it's OK if a few questions go dead. It's not OK if question after question goes to the end, and everybody in the room knows that it is not important to pay attention to the first half of the question.

My point is that easing up on the middle clues is more important than question length. In fact, the problem with short questions is that there isn't a lot of room between the lead-in and the giveaway, and that space in between is where most questions should get answered most of the time.

User avatar
grapesmoker
Sin
Posts: 6364
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2003 5:23 pm
Location: NYC
Contact:

Post by grapesmoker » Thu May 24, 2007 4:04 pm

ReinsteinD wrote:It's OK if some questions go to the end before anybody buzzes in, and it's OK if a few questions go dead. It's not OK if question after question goes to the end, and everybody in the room knows that it is not important to pay attention to the first half of the question.
Paying attention to clues you don't know is a way to learn. Even the best players rarely know a majority of the questions from the first 2 or 3 clues.
Jerry Vinokurov
ex-LJHS, ex-Berkeley, ex-Brown, sorta-ex-CMU
code ape, loud voice, general nuissance

User avatar
Deviant Insider
Auron
Posts: 4530
Joined: Sun Jun 13, 2004 6:08 am
Location: Chicagoland

Post by Deviant Insider » Thu May 24, 2007 8:21 pm

Paying attention to clues you don't know is a way to learn. Even the best players rarely know a majority of the questions from the first 2 or 3 clues.
That's perfectly good advice to players, but it doesn't change the advice that I had for writers and editors.

User avatar
Matt Weiner
Sin
Posts: 8411
Joined: Fri Apr 11, 2003 8:34 pm
Location: Richmond, VA

Post by Matt Weiner » Thu May 24, 2007 10:35 pm

OK, here are two packets from Penn Bowl 2007 which are the most representative of where I think ACF Fall or slightly harder tournaments should be going. Tossups are under six lines and have middle clues, so tell me what you think about playing on this sort of material regularly.

http://www.hsquizbowl.org/JHUA.htm
http://www.hsquizbowl.org/Berkeley.htm
ReinsteinD wrote:Quizbowl matches are exciting when you don't know when the question is going to get answered. If two teams are so good that between them they know all the lead-ins, then it won't be a good match even though it is played at a very high level. Even more importantly, if two teams are so weak that their only chance on tossups is the giveaway, then the match will be miserable for everybody involved. It doesn't matter whether the giveaway comes after two lines, four lines, six lines, or eight lines.
Someone has to be the worst team at the tournament no matter what format or difficulty is in play. We can't all know every clue and I think it's unrealistic to expect bad teams to be getting a lot of early buzzes since the whole idea of properly written tossups is to let better teams buzz earlier while still having the bottom of the field get the question eventually.

User avatar
Mr. Kwalter
Tidus
Posts: 617
Joined: Tue Nov 18, 2003 1:48 am
Location: Houston, TX

Post by Mr. Kwalter » Thu May 24, 2007 10:57 pm

Matt Weiner wrote:OK, here are two packets from Penn Bowl 2007 which are the most representative of where I think ACF Fall or slightly harder tournaments should be going. Tossups are under six lines and have middle clues, so tell me what you think about playing on this sort of material regularly.

http://www.hsquizbowl.org/JHUA.htm
http://www.hsquizbowl.org/Berkeley.htm
There appears to be a repeat between those two packets. My bad.

User avatar
QuizbowlPostmodernist
Wakka
Posts: 174
Joined: Wed Aug 13, 2003 12:22 am

Post by QuizbowlPostmodernist » Fri May 25, 2007 7:50 am

Matt Weiner wrote:Tossups are under six lines
I just wanted to point out that when people talk about question length in terms of line, they don't often specify font, font size, and margins. For example, taking the first packet, dumping it into Wordperfect, and having 10-point Times New Roman with 1-inch margins gets most tossups in the first packet at between 5.5 to 6 lines, with only one going over 6 lines. Changing to my default font, Tahoma, makes it slightly longer. Switching it to 12-point Times New Roman puts the average length at over 7 lines. And of course, viewing a document in HTML is affected by variables such as whether or not you have a sidebar showing, whether your browser is maximized, and how wide your monitor is. Although I generally prefer a font size of 10 to save on paper, I have received enough sets to know that some people do use 12-point fonts for packets.

I just wanted to point out that when talking about appropriate question length in terms of lines, you should probably define what a "line" actually is.

User avatar
Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN)
Chairman of Anti-Music Mafia Committee
Posts: 5640
Joined: Wed Jul 26, 2006 11:46 pm
Location: Columbia, MO

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Fri May 25, 2007 8:17 am

Ithink they mean in Times New Roman size 10.
Charlie Dees, North Kansas City HS '08
"I won't say more because I know some of you parse everything I say." - Jeremy Gibbs

"At one TJ tournament the neg prize was the Hampshire College ultimate frisbee team (nude) calender featuring one Evan Silberman. In retrospect that could have been a disaster." - Harry White

User avatar
Mr. Kwalter
Tidus
Posts: 617
Joined: Tue Nov 18, 2003 1:48 am
Location: Houston, TX

Post by Mr. Kwalter » Fri May 25, 2007 10:13 am

Yeah, we do. At least in the case of Penn Bowl, and I think those questions were largely on target lengthwise.

User avatar
grapesmoker
Sin
Posts: 6364
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2003 5:23 pm
Location: NYC
Contact:

Post by grapesmoker » Fri May 25, 2007 12:45 pm

Standard formatting for pretty much all packet-sub tournaments has for some time been 10-point TNR with 1-inch margins.
Jerry Vinokurov
ex-LJHS, ex-Berkeley, ex-Brown, sorta-ex-CMU
code ape, loud voice, general nuissance

User avatar
Deviant Insider
Auron
Posts: 4530
Joined: Sun Jun 13, 2004 6:08 am
Location: Chicagoland

Post by Deviant Insider » Fri May 25, 2007 4:38 pm

Before I do this, I want to make clear that I'm just an idiot with opinions. Also, I think these are good questions. I complain about everybody's questions, including my own. My point isn't that these questions are complete garbage leading to the death of Quizbowl--it's that I think some minor edits could make them more enjoyable to play on for your target audience.

I think the questions would be better for the types of teams you want to attract if they shortened the lead-ins and lengthened the giveaways. For example:
The Flannery O'Connor question could give several pyramidal clues about her works that are widely read and briefer mentions at the beginning about her lesser-known works.
The Zen Buddhism question could give several clues describing koans (examples and uses) and fewer terms at the beginning.
The Stravinsky tossup could include descriptions of The Rake's Progress, Petrouchka, The Firebird, and/or The Rite of Spring rather than Four Norwegian Moods. (The Firebird is a bad example because it is a tossup in the other packet, but you get the point.)
The Newfoundland tossup could focus more on its geography and location, and less on its history.
The Ockham tossup could focus on applications of his 'razor' rather than whatever else he did.
The Tristan question could give several clues at the end about the knight and fewer clues about unimportant people sometimes named Tristan.

Less relevant to the point of this thread, some of the tossups are antipyramidal. For example:
For stamens, there are six of them around the carpel and they have anthers at the top gets mentioned before microsporangia.
For O'Connor, we get a summary and title of A Good Man Is Hard to Find before hearing about Hulga Hopewell.
For a cycloid, we learn that it is generated by a circle before learning that it is a brachistochrone.
For Echinodermata, the word Echinoidia comes before deuterostome.

NoahMinkCHS
Yuna
Posts: 827
Joined: Fri Apr 18, 2003 1:46 pm
Location: Athens, GA / Macon, GA
Contact:

Post by NoahMinkCHS » Fri May 25, 2007 4:45 pm

I don't know how much question-specific discussion would be useful here, but FWIW, I thought the Newfoundland tossup was pretty good, and -- since it was probably part of this history distribution rather than geography -- had clues wholly appropriate to that subject. Perhaps the third sentence could have been a little easier, but (as someone who knows a fair amount about Canada but not a ton about Newfoundland) it seemed like a good question.

Locked