NAQT's Post-ICT Survey

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NAQT's Post-ICT Survey

Post by rhentzel » Tue Apr 15, 2008 11:52 am

National Academic Quiz Tournaments is planning to do another post-ICT survey to measure college players' opinions about question quality, question difficulty, distribution issues, tournament format, and so on.

We'd like to take this opportunity to request input from the community on which questions they would like to see become part of the survey. Feel free to suggest question ideas, exact wording for questions, possible answers, or rewordings to questions/answers that we've used in the past. You can post ideas here or e-mail them to us at naqt@naqt.com.

We'd like to have the survey up by Thursday morning, so if you have input, please provide it sooner rather than later.

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Anonymous responses

Post by rhentzel » Tue Apr 15, 2008 12:00 pm

One question that NAQT has for the quiz bowl community is whether its members think our survey should be anonymous or not; we've kept it anonymous in the past out of a sense of principle: People are more likely to give honest feedback if they know their comments can't be traced back to them.

We've been told several times, though, that players suspect there is a correlation between team ability and views on certain issues; furthermore, they would like NAQT to take that into account when interpreting its survey and making decisions for 2008-2009.

In accordance with that, what level of anonymity should be used for the survey? It seems like we could ask for any level of information from nothing at all to each respondent's name, but there are certain logical middle grounds: DI/DII, playoff bracket, team affiliation, etc.

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Re: Anonymous responses

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Tue Apr 15, 2008 12:38 pm

rhentzel wrote:One question that NAQT has for the quiz bowl community is whether its members think our survey should be anonymous or not; we've kept it anonymous in the past out of a sense of principle: People are more likely to give honest feedback if they know their comments can't be traced back to them.
This is true--but I could hypothetically fill out my survey as Kyle and decry the high geography distribution (hee, hee, hee) and so it would be anonymous enough either way. It's a trade-off between identity fraud and positive identity information: "Do you like pyramidality?" "No, it sucks." "What school are you from?" Do I tell the truth and say "West Bumblefuck," or do I lie and say "Brown." (Especially as I can be sure that the latter's opinion would matter more, and ought to matter more because the Browns are in the minority.) (Answer: say "West Bumblefuck," because no one would believe you otherwise.)

That said--I think that sort of fraud would be pretty infrequent however good an idea, and it's vastly outweighed by the benefits of knowing who you're dealing with: we have to be anti-democratic, for two reasons:

1) Good quiz bowlers / good quiz bowl programs know good quiz bowl better than bad ones. They've played more quiz bowl, and thus can distinguish. They've also played a greater variety, and thus can distinguish. They also are involved in producing tournaments, whereas bad programs aren't as much, and thus can distinguish.

2) Good quiz bowlers have an interest in there being good quiz bowl. Good quiz bowl is not a good game show: it does not produce a random result save for the inevitable contraints of a game that tries to get done by sunset (or sunrise). As Matt Weiner argued a while ago, more pyramidal, longer questions, with more clues produce a less random result, meaning that good programs will open up a gigantic can of whoopass on me--whereas I might hold my own on one out of ten games by :chip:. I should lose 100% of the time to Maryland. Perhaps 1% of the time, I should lose by less than 300. Since good questions make the majority of teams look like fools against the minority of teams, give each team some votes and then reverse the result. (I hope I'm articulating your argument appropriately, Matt.)

Of course, from NAQT's perspective, you have to give all schools some input, because you're selling all schools your questions. This gives you additional data on that: you'll know the schools for whom you're making intramural packets--and you can address their concerns separately. Though I think everyone should HAVE to play good quiz bowl, from your perspective, what sells packets is what's good.

I think having minimal anonymity--perhaps representing what school you're from--will give NAQT the best information: y'all simply have to know what teams think what in order to know how to make the game better.

EDIT: I'm incapable of forming a coherent sentence without sleep; who knew?
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Re: Anonymous responses

Post by AKKOLADE » Tue Apr 15, 2008 1:10 pm

everyday847 wrote:This is true--but I could hypothetically fill out my survey as Kyle and decry the high geography distribution (hee, hee, hee) and so it would be anonymous enough either way. It's a trade-off between identity fraud and positive identity information: "Do you like pyramidality?" "No, it sucks." "What school are you from?" Do I tell the truth and say "West Bumblefuck," or do I lie and say "Brown." (Especially as I can be sure that the latter's opinion would matter more, and ought to matter more because the Browns are in the minority.) (Answer: say "West Bumblefuck," because no one would believe you otherwise.)
And obviously this would definitely work.

I eagerly await the release of this survey, so I can fill in every box with BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEES, submit the form 50 times and watch as next year's ICT trophy is made out of Honeycomb boxes.
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Re: NAQT's Post-ICT Survey

Post by Matt Weiner » Tue Apr 15, 2008 1:50 pm

Personally, I would be more interested in the survey avoiding multiple voting and volunteer bias than in seeing how particular people voted. Perhaps NAQT should require that teams enter a password, sent to the email address they used to register for the ICT, in order to cast exactly one entry. Then, they could randomly select an equivalent number of surveys across various axes, and only count those results--DI, DII four-year, and CC; teams that finished in the top, middle, or bottom brackets; teams that also play non-NAQT formats and teams that do not; and so on. I would like to see what the results look like when we exclude the bias that comes from a fringe team having 8 of its members vote. I think the value of that is substantial, but that attaching names to individual entries won't lead to anything but bickering.
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Re: NAQT's Post-ICT Survey

Post by setht » Tue Apr 15, 2008 2:34 pm

I don't feel any need to see how each person votes; collecting results by division and playoff bracket seems fine. If multiple voting/voting by people that aren't players is a concern, Matt's suggestion seems like a good one, except that I don't think there should be only one vote per team.

Some suggestions for questions:
-How flexible should the distribution be from one packet to the next? One way to phrase this is to ask how big a range people feel is acceptable for various categories (e.g., should the number of science tossups vary from 3 to 7, or 4 to 6 per packet, or should there always be 5?).
-Should there be a distribution for the first 13/13 (or the first 11/11, or the first 20/20) in each packet?

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Re: NAQT's Post-ICT Survey

Post by Mike Bentley » Tue Apr 15, 2008 2:37 pm

Well, NAQT could send out like 4 passwords per team in order to let multiple people on a team vote. Any potential problems with this could hopefully be worked out by doing as Matt suggested and letting people filter votes by ranking, whether they play ACF, etc.
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Re: NAQT's Post-ICT Survey

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Tue Apr 15, 2008 3:18 pm

setht wrote:I don't feel any need to see how each person votes; collecting results by division and playoff bracket seems fine. If multiple voting/voting by people that aren't players is a concern, Matt's suggestion seems like a good one, except that I don't think there should be only one vote per team.

Some suggestions for questions:
-How flexible should the distribution be from one packet to the next? One way to phrase this is to ask how big a range people feel is acceptable for various categories (e.g., should the number of science tossups vary from 3 to 7, or 4 to 6 per packet, or should there always be 5?).
-Should there be a distribution for the first 13/13 (or the first 11/11, or the first 20/20) in each packet?

-Seth
Agreed. I retract my mostly silly concerns about voting procedures.

Other possible questions:
-Even if we accept flexibility in number of science tossups, even wide flexibility, do we accept variation in non-academic distributions?
-Should non-ac be tied to academic subjects (the example of science current events comes to mind), or should it be purely there for its own sake? Can trash ever be said to be academically linked? (There's a tossup in a too-recent-for-specifics IS set about a song with a distinctly sciencey theme. Does that merit a link?)
-Should there be a distribution of links, if CE does in fact have one--i.e. if there's science CE and lit CE and political CE, should there be equal numbers of the three, or should that be more closely tied to the actual number of relevant current events? It could be difficult to require five science CE per ICT set if science event #5 is relatively unknown, perhaps outside the university or town where it happened, etc.
-Same goes for trash, if there can be said to be a link.
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Re: NAQT's Post-ICT Survey

Post by setht » Tue Apr 15, 2008 3:44 pm

everyday847 wrote:
setht wrote:I don't feel any need to see how each person votes; collecting results by division and playoff bracket seems fine. If multiple voting/voting by people that aren't players is a concern, Matt's suggestion seems like a good one, except that I don't think there should be only one vote per team.

Some suggestions for questions:
-How flexible should the distribution be from one packet to the next? One way to phrase this is to ask how big a range people feel is acceptable for various categories (e.g., should the number of science tossups vary from 3 to 7, or 4 to 6 per packet, or should there always be 5?).
-Should there be a distribution for the first 13/13 (or the first 11/11, or the first 20/20) in each packet?

-Seth
Agreed. I retract my mostly silly concerns about voting procedures.

Other possible questions:
-Even if we accept flexibility in number of science tossups, even wide flexibility, do we accept variation in non-academic distributions?
-Should non-ac be tied to academic subjects (the example of science current events comes to mind), or should it be purely there for its own sake? Can trash ever be said to be academically linked? (There's a tossup in a too-recent-for-specifics IS set about a song with a distinctly sciencey theme. Does that merit a link?)
-Should there be a distribution of links, if CE does in fact have one--i.e. if there's science CE and lit CE and political CE, should there be equal numbers of the three, or should that be more closely tied to the actual number of relevant current events? It could be difficult to require five science CE per ICT set if science event #5 is relatively unknown, perhaps outside the university or town where it happened, etc.
-Same goes for trash, if there can be said to be a link.
My intention for my first question was to inquire about flexibility of question number in all categories, not just science. I would imagine that people are either fine with having greater flexibility in the number of questions in all categories (including stuff like sports and general knowledge as well as more academic categories like literature and science) per packet, or they prefer less flexibility in all categories, but I figured it'd be worth giving people the option of stating a preference for different levels of variability in different categories.

Regarding your second proposed question, I think it's worth asking about current events questions in topics like fine arts and science, but I don't think it's worth asking about trash: I'm not aware of any players that want to see trash questions with academic links, even in cases where it wouldn't be a big stretch to include such a link as a clue. My impression is that people are generally content to see academic questions that don't have trash links, and trash questions that don't have academic links.

I think current events might be different: I would guess that people would be fine with seeing current events questions (especially for "cultural/scientific" current events) where some clues are on recent events, and some clues refer to a broader context that's not necessarily tied to an event of the last 3 years (or whatever the window for current events is). For instance, some people have complained that the science current events is largely taken up by NASA missions, and I agree with those people that NASA missions don't really warrant lots of questions per tournament. Personally, I would be happy to see science current events tossups that have lead-ins describing a recent discovery or development linked to a topic that would be tossup-worthy as a science topic, then move on to lower-level clues about the science; I feel similarly about fine arts current events and other academic current events questions. I would propose including a survey question along the lines of "Is it acceptable for a current events question on an academic subject (e.g. science, literature, fine arts) to include clues or bonus parts on related non-recent events?" Given what Brian Ulrich has said elsewhere about the difficulty of filling out the current events sections on academic topics, I would think this would be a welcome change on NAQT's side.

My understanding is that NAQT does have a sub-distribution for current events. I don't know how the numbers for various sub-categories compare, and I don't know if NAQT feels like going through the details of its sub-distribution in the survey.

Moving on to your last proposed question: again, I don't think there's interest from the circuit in discussing academic links in trash questions. If other people feel differently, speak up.

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Re: NAQT's Post-ICT Survey

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Tue Apr 15, 2008 4:13 pm

I think that's absolutely right; I certainly would be baffled by it--I think that if we have trash, it shouldn't be given academic links. I just thought that a survey should allow the minority that does believe it--if it exists at all--to voice its opinion.

(Similarly, I've never talked to anyone who genuinely believes that a given category should get a distribution of 5 \pm 2--or anyone who thinks that the circuit would like that. Instead, I've heard about the problems that that creates, pretty much exclusively. Nonetheless, I agree that it should be on the survey, since it's possible that there's an inspired argument in its favor that I'm/we're missing.)
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Re: NAQT's Post-ICT Survey

Post by cvdwightw » Tue Apr 15, 2008 4:15 pm

I think it would be extremely relevant to find out players' levels of experience with pyramidal questions. Players who play or have played formats with longer questions (e.g. PACE and ACF) may have radically different views on things than players with no experience or whose previous experience has been something like CBI or :chip: . I see NAQT as sort of a "transitional" format, combining high-quality question writing on relevant subjects (a staple of ACF) with a timed tournament and a higher non-academic content that are more common to CBI. Accordingly, the format is not entirely foreign to people accustomed to either ACF-style or CBI-style tournaments, and the ability to please both audiences is a large part of its appeal. If NAQT is providing a product that is not appealing to either the ACF-style teams that make up much of its top ICT tier (and thus its "relevance" to the college game) or the "transitional" teams that make up a large part of its newer clients, then NAQT should know that. Similarly, if one section of the market is extremely pleased with the way NAQT is doing something, then NAQT should not jettison those practices unless the other section expresses similar displeasure.

One question that I would like to see is regarding NAQT's chemistry distribution. It is generally divided into elemental and non-elemental. This works well at the high school level, but I think that at the college level this distribution does not accurately reflect what people learn through coursework (namely, people study elements in a context and not, so to speak, in a vacuum). Perhaps a survey question could ask whether people would prefer a chemistry distribution divided into organic/biological and non-organic (in which element questions could still definitely be written, but would be more relevant to what is taught in college chemistry courses).

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Re: NAQT's Post-ICT Survey

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Tue Apr 15, 2008 4:27 pm

cvdwightw wrote:Perhaps a survey question could ask whether people would prefer a chemistry distribution divided into organic/biological and non-organic (in which element questions could still definitely be written, but would be more relevant to what is taught in college chemistry courses).
That might be a little too heavy towards organic, if it gets half the distribution.

Perhaps a question along the lines of "Which ought to be major areas, and which deserve to be minor areas, in the NAQT chem distribution?" with a larger range of options like organic, bioorganic, inorganic, electrochemistry, physical chemistry, solid-state, quantum, etc.
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Re: NAQT's Post-ICT Survey

Post by Brian Ulrich » Tue Apr 15, 2008 4:46 pm

Just a note on the CE: I don't remember details, but right now the distribution is divided into "U.S." and "World," with these being subdivided into politics, social, and miscellaneous. The line between politics and social is pretty vague, and I suspect it's initial purpose is to get people to ask about stuff other than Senators and world leaders. Many things that are often political issues, such as gay marriage or immigration, wind up under social. In the past couple of years NAQT (for which I'm obviously not speaking, though I am the CE editor and have some latitude over its internal composition) has tried to expand social at the expense of political, especially in world CE, where there is greater answer space. (U.S. CE has a lot of major issues that are really hard to turn into good questions.)

On top of this are the questions that aren't region-specific, related to business, science, and the arts. The NASA-centrism is because all the science CE I really follow is space-related, I tend to write a ton of our college CE, and I suspect you'd rather have that than some of what doesn't make it in. But frankly, I see this as part of our broader problem with recruiting high-output science writers. It was better in Div. II with the CCD and Venter questions. Artistic CE is something I pushed in, as I've always felt NAQT doesn't do enough for people who follow the currents arts scene, and this was a way of making sure there would be a bit of that in every tournament. The Business CE seems to be occasioning less comment, presumably because people find Gazprom more important than Best Buy.

Finally, one possible survey question might be what NAQT can do to get people to write good science. I think it already pays for science questions at above its normal rate, though I'm not sure.
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Re: NAQT's Post-ICT Survey

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Tue Apr 15, 2008 5:48 pm

Dwight and Andy wrote:CHANGE CHEM DISTRIBUTION
I'd personally think that NAQT should simply bring in a good bio/chem/physics editor and allow him or her to set the distribution as they see fit. ACF gets by without having a super-rigid distribution in its chemistry sub-categories, and frankly, whether it leans a little heavily toward bio/organic or towards physical isn't really an issue for most chem players. In general, I feel this super-rigid distribution in the sciences categories will hurt the production of a good tournament rather than help it. (perhaps this can be worked into a question?)

I would also like to see a question on the internal distribution of a packet, and about how questions should be arranged in the packet.

As far as other questions go, I'm surprised no one has really addressed the elephants in the room:

-The high content of trash and CE in a tournament that bills itself as "National ACADEMIC Quiz Competitions". Considering the NAQT current events editor himself has posted on this forum that he finds it difficult to find this many relevant current events topics, why is there no talk of seriously scaling back the CE distribution? Furthermore, I'd be really interested to see how well the trash distribution accurately reflects the tastes of the quizbowl-playing population (notice I didn't say "general population"). How many quizbowl-playing 18-25 year olds really care about baseball players from the 1950s, or early Sandra Bullock movies, or characters old sitcoms, and what makes them truly "important" in a quizbowl sense of the word? While the trash distribution this year was better for me than most (tossups on "Assassins Creed" and "Bioshock" come to mind), is there still really a demand for questions on Love Potion Number 9? And when there's this much trash in an "academic" competition's distribution to begin with, to the point where it isn't exactly a "fun addition" but actually relevant to team composition and strategy, the trash should reflect an accurate split of what academic players know, not what TRASH players care about.

-Question length. I would like to see the character length of NAQT questions addressed, and I'd like to see what people's positions on the amount of time given are. While I personally have no qualms (inasmuch as they're an interesting way to mix it up) with the clock and powers, several editors have told me that writing a good question within the character limit is very very difficult. Why not extend the time and the question length a little? I feel this would preserve the fast-pacing that makes NAQT fun while allowing for meatier questions.

-The conflation of mythology with literature. Who advocates this? Why not have a true RMP distribution? And why not have a more extensive non-western myth distribution, as most other tournaments do?

I realize some of my suggestions may seem like I'm trying to turn NAQT into ACF; while I don't want to see that happen, I seriously think that I, and many other players, believe that there's nothing wrong with NAQT becoming a little more like ACF in the above regards.
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Re: NAQT's Post-ICT Survey

Post by Brian Ulrich » Tue Apr 15, 2008 6:00 pm

ToStrikeInfinitely wrote:-The high content of trash and CE in a tournament that bills itself as "National ACADEMIC Quiz Competitions". Considering the NAQT current events editor himself has posted on this forum that he finds it difficult to find this many relevant current events topics, why is there no talk of seriously scaling back the CE distribution?
Actually, I said it was probably hard for one person to come up with that many questions in a short period of time, as there weren't any good references like you have in other categories. I think if you look at ICT and FICHTE, you see that while both had a few questions that were stretching a bit, taking into account their small overlap there was clearly plenty of answer space to go around. There are also areas I've thought of that neither set involved, such as Tibet.

Since I believed in the concept of an engaged intellectual, I actually think a good CE distribution should be part of NAQT, and that there is no conflict between this and its academic label.
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Re: NAQT's Post-ICT Survey

Post by grapesmoker » Tue Apr 15, 2008 7:08 pm

Brian Ulrich wrote:The NASA-centrism is because all the science CE I really follow is space-related
Ok, I don't mean to rag on you, but this is, like, a huge problem. For several reasons. One reason is that you're essentially admitting that a certain area of the science distribution gets a preferential treatment over others. Logically, if I want to win ICT, I should now read NASA news to prepare. It's a bad idea for players to be able to forecast that a particular niche topic is going to come up a bunch of times, and what you're doing enables that.

Secondly, and again I'm not singling you out as much as I'm trying to convey a general point, it's not about you. It's specifically not about what news you follow but rather about what is going to make for a good, balanced tournament. Even if point #1 above didn't apply, the fact that your question writing decision is skewing the distribution is a problem in and of itself. You can't just confine yourself to favorite topics.
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Re: NAQT's Post-ICT Survey

Post by msaifutaa » Tue Apr 15, 2008 9:01 pm

ToStrikeInfinitely wrote:-The conflation of mythology with literature. Who advocates this? Why not have a true RMP distribution? And why not have a more extensive non-western myth distribution, as most other tournaments do?
Quoted for Truth. Every year on these surveys, I've selected the "Drastically Increase" (or whatever it's called) option for the Myth/Literature category and been dismayed that I didn't have the option to say "There's enough Lit, but there needs to be more Myth". And I agree that the within-category distribution is pretty lopsided, though they seem to be improving the myth questions themselves since my first ICT as a frosh where we lost a bracket-deciding game to Valencia on a myth toss-up with wrong clues. I haven't seen this year's ICT set yet, but the myth at SCT this year, while pathetically low in number and biased in content area, was at least correct when it appeared, so that's something.

As someone who has sat out of NAQT tournaments for years now to act as a reader instead, I would be more likely to play if RMP received its own distribution (combined with the suggestions called for by pretty much everyone to tighten the within-packet distribution). That said, I'm not sure if I'm the NAQT target audience anyway, so take my ideas with a grain of salt.
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Re: NAQT's Post-ICT Survey

Post by Brian Ulrich » Tue Apr 15, 2008 9:26 pm

grapesmoker wrote:
Brian Ulrich wrote:The NASA-centrism is because all the science CE I really follow is space-related
Ok, I don't mean to rag on you, but this is, like, a huge problem. For several reasons. One reason is that you're essentially admitting that a certain area of the science distribution gets a preferential treatment over others. Logically, if I want to win ICT, I should now read NASA news to prepare. It's a bad idea for players to be able to forecast that a particular niche topic is going to come up a bunch of times, and what you're doing enables that.

Secondly, and again I'm not singling you out as much as I'm trying to convey a general point, it's not about you. It's specifically not about what news you follow but rather about what is going to make for a good, balanced tournament. Even if point #1 above didn't apply, the fact that your question writing decision is skewing the distribution is a problem in and of itself. You can't just confine yourself to favorite topics.
You're right, but perhaps I should have worded that more precisely: Because that's all I follow, that's pretty much all I can write well at college level. Which is why it goes back to NAQT needing more regular science writers.
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Re: NAQT's Post-ICT Survey

Post by First Chairman » Wed Apr 16, 2008 8:03 am

rhentzel wrote:One question that NAQT has for the quiz bowl community is whether its members think our survey should be anonymous or not; we've kept it anonymous in the past out of a sense of principle: People are more likely to give honest feedback if they know their comments can't be traced back to them.

We've been told several times, though, that players suspect there is a correlation between team ability and views on certain issues; furthermore, they would like NAQT to take that into account when interpreting its survey and making decisions for 2008-2009.

In accordance with that, what level of anonymity should be used for the survey? It seems like we could ask for any level of information from nothing at all to each respondent's name, but there are certain logical middle grounds: DI/DII, playoff bracket, team affiliation, etc.
I'll go back to the questions of implementing surveys: at the NSC at NCSSM, I did have people volunteer on a sign-in sheet to fill out a survey by getting their email addresses, where I'd send a survey later. Most surveys are anonymous with an option to be contacted for follow-up at the end of the survey, though I could have set it up to check whether certain email addresses received and completed the survey. You can have an additional level of security with a password that only the participants discover, but other than that... nothing really more you can do.

Sure, I suppose you can do a study to correlate performance with philosophy, but that is best done as a focus group by an independent surveyor, I would think. There's too much of a chance that -- as you can see -- people could skew your results in a survey. Don't make things more complicated than you have to.

That said, a one-page feedback form is also effective.
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Re: NAQT's Post-ICT Survey

Post by setht » Wed Apr 16, 2008 10:28 am

Brian Ulrich wrote:On top of this are the questions that aren't region-specific, related to business, science, and the arts. The NASA-centrism is because all the science CE I really follow is space-related, I tend to write a ton of our college CE, and I suspect you'd rather have that than some of what doesn't make it in. But frankly, I see this as part of our broader problem with recruiting high-output science writers. It was better in Div. II with the CCD and Venter questions. Artistic CE is something I pushed in, as I've always felt NAQT doesn't do enough for people who follow the currents arts scene, and this was a way of making sure there would be a bit of that in every tournament. The Business CE seems to be occasioning less comment, presumably because people find Gazprom more important than Best Buy.

Finally, one possible survey question might be what NAQT can do to get people to write good science. I think it already pays for science questions at above its normal rate, though I'm not sure.
I think having a couple "essay-response" optional questions at the end asking what NAQT can do to get people to write SCT/ICT questions, especially science, is a good idea.

Brian, do you feel that a science CE question has to have all clues/bonus parts related to current events, or would you be willing to get science CE tossups that (say) open with a couple sentences on recent stuff and then move on to science background that isn't necessarily based on recent events? People that follow science news should be able to buzz early, and people that only know about the topic in a broader context could still buzz later, which seems fine to me, but perhaps you disagree. An example I gave in the ICT discussion thread involved a tossup on gamma ray bursts, a very active research subject, using some early clues about the SWIFT satellite and GRB 080319B, the brightest GRB (hence brightest object) ever seen/the farthest object ever visible to the naked eye, then moving on to more generic GRB clues. Speaking only for myself, I find that sort of science CE much easier to write than a "pure CE" question, since it allows me to take pretty much any interesting development and write a question without worrying about finding a well-known giveaway based on recent events. If NAQT can recruit more science writers, my guess is that this type of science CE would also be easier for them to write, since there are lots of new developments that can only be effectively turned into a small number of clues, insufficient to fill out a full tossup or give three good parts to a bonus. I think this would also help alleviate the tendency for most of these questions to wind up asking about major NASA missions (or particle accelerators, or other big projects)--it's fine to have some questions on those things, and they certainly have more clues based on recent events than, say, GRB 080319B, but I think opening things up a bit and getting more variety would be better. If you and other NAQT people feel that this sort of question is acceptable as science CE (and analogous questions would be acceptable as fine arts CE), I'd like to see a question on the survey asking if the players feel that this sort of question is acceptable--I don't know of any "science CE players" that would object to seeing this sort of question, but it would be good to check.
ToStrikeInfinitely wrote:I'm surprised no one has really addressed the elephants in the room:

-The high content of trash and CE in a tournament that bills itself as "National ACADEMIC Quiz Competitions". Considering the NAQT current events editor himself has posted on this forum that he finds it difficult to find this many relevant current events topics, why is there no talk of seriously scaling back the CE distribution? Furthermore, I'd be really interested to see how well the trash distribution accurately reflects the tastes of the quizbowl-playing population (notice I didn't say "general population"). How many quizbowl-playing 18-25 year olds really care about baseball players from the 1950s, or early Sandra Bullock movies, or characters old sitcoms, and what makes them truly "important" in a quizbowl sense of the word? While the trash distribution this year was better for me than most (tossups on "Assassins Creed" and "Bioshock" come to mind), is there still really a demand for questions on Love Potion Number 9? And when there's this much trash in an "academic" competition's distribution to begin with, to the point where it isn't exactly a "fun addition" but actually relevant to team composition and strategy, the trash should reflect an accurate split of what academic players know, not what TRASH players care about.

-Question length. I would like to see the character length of NAQT questions addressed, and I'd like to see what people's positions on the amount of time given are. While I personally have no qualms (inasmuch as they're an interesting way to mix it up) with the clock and powers, several editors have told me that writing a good question within the character limit is very very difficult. Why not extend the time and the question length a little? I feel this would preserve the fast-pacing that makes NAQT fun while allowing for meatier questions.

-The conflation of mythology with literature. Who advocates this? Why not have a true RMP distribution? And why not have a more extensive non-western myth distribution, as most other tournaments do?

I realize some of my suggestions may seem like I'm trying to turn NAQT into ACF; while I don't want to see that happen, I seriously think that I, and many other players, believe that there's nothing wrong with NAQT becoming a little more like ACF in the above regards.
I believe the previous surveys have included sections giving the current distribution and asking, category by category, whether people feel the number of questions in that category should increase, decrease or stay the same. I assumed there would automatically be a similar section in this year's survey; if that wasn't the plan, I agree with Eric that it should be added. Based on previous results, I'm not sure there'll be a clear call for any major changes, but I think that's one of the big things that should always be checked. Regarding the content of the trash: I really don't know enough about this stuff to say for sure, but it seemed like our 18-25 year old trash player did well on the trash in general--I believe he 30'd the Sandra Bullock movies bonus; I don't remember how he did on the older baseball stuff. Anyway, I guess it's fair game for a question, or series of questions, to try to figure out if the trash distribution should shift.

I would also like to see some survey questions on question length and timing. I believe the current character limit on tossups is 425 characters; I propose pushing that to 475 or 500, and adding a minute to each half--I think this won't produce too many games with less than 19 tossups read.

On the mythology distribution: I could be wrong about this, but I believe myth has a fixed number of questions within the myth/lit category--the set can't drop some myth questions in favor of more lit questions. Assuming that myth does get a fixed number of questions, I don't see any reason to care whether myth is lumped with literature or with religion and philosophy--both groupings make some sense. The one thing about this is that I think the survey should separate myth and literature when asking whether various categories should grow/shrink/stay the same. Finally, I think the myth subdistribution has shifted a bit more non-classical--at least it felt like there was more non-classical stuff this year--but having a survey question asking how much of the myth should be classical/non-classical seems like a fine idea.
msaifutaa wrote:I would be more likely to play if RMP received its own distribution
I don't understand this. Why do we care how things are categorized? I'm pretty sure religion, myth and philosophy all get fixed numbers of questions in SCT/ICT sets. Are you saying you want to see more of each? I agree with you on that, and I would like to see survey questions that allow people to vote specifically on changing the amounts of religion, myth and philosophy questions, but I don't see a need to group the three categories together.

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Re: NAQT's Post-ICT Survey

Post by Brian Ulrich » Wed Apr 16, 2008 10:55 am

setht wrote:Brian, do you feel that a science CE question has to have all clues/bonus parts related to current events, or would you be willing to get science CE tossups that (say) open with a couple sentences on recent stuff and then move on to science background that isn't necessarily based on recent events? People that follow science news should be able to buzz early, and people that only know about the topic in a broader context could still buzz later, which seems fine to me, but perhaps you disagree. An example I gave in the ICT discussion thread involved a tossup on gamma ray bursts, a very active research subject, using some early clues about the SWIFT satellite and GRB 080319B, the brightest GRB (hence brightest object) ever seen/the farthest object ever visible to the naked eye, then moving on to more generic GRB clues. Speaking only for myself, I find that sort of science CE much easier to write than a "pure CE" question, since it allows me to take pretty much any interesting development and write a question without worrying about finding a well-known giveaway based on recent events. If NAQT can recruit more science writers, my guess is that this type of science CE would also be easier for them to write, since there are lots of new developments that can only be effectively turned into a small number of clues, insufficient to fill out a full tossup or give three good parts to a bonus. I think this would also help alleviate the tendency for most of these questions to wind up asking about major NASA missions (or particle accelerators, or other big projects)--it's fine to have some questions on those things, and they certainly have more clues based on recent events than, say, GRB 080319B, but I think opening things up a bit and getting more variety would be better. If you and other NAQT people feel that this sort of question is acceptable as science CE (and analogous questions would be acceptable as fine arts CE), I'd like to see a question on the survey asking if the players feel that this sort of question is acceptable--I don't know of any "science CE players" that would object to seeing this sort of question, but it would be good to check.
This has always been a tricky issue, and while I have no idea what other people at NAQT think about this, I tend to go by a sort of informal "how it feels" test. Another way of looking at it has been whether someone who has been in a coma for the past year or two could still answer it before the giveaway. As examples of other directions, though, the category has historically included diseases, endangered or newly extinct species, pollution, climate change, cloning and other genetic breakthroughs, and that sort of thing. For ICT, I tried to write on MRSA and the Wilkins Ice Shelf, but couldn't get either to work.
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Re: NAQT's Post-ICT Survey

Post by setht » Wed Apr 16, 2008 12:40 pm

Brian Ulrich wrote:This has always been a tricky issue, and while I have no idea what other people at NAQT think about this, I tend to go by a sort of informal "how it feels" test. Another way of looking at it has been whether someone who has been in a coma for the past year or two could still answer it before the giveaway. As examples of other directions, though, the category has historically included diseases, endangered or newly extinct species, pollution, climate change, cloning and other genetic breakthroughs, and that sort of thing. For ICT, I tried to write on MRSA and the Wilkins Ice Shelf, but couldn't get either to work.
To clarify: do you want CE questions written so that even people that have been in a coma for the past two years can answer before the giveaway? If that's what you mean, I would think that science CE on things like gamma ray bursts would work better than tossups on New Horizons/other NASA missions. If you mean the opposite--that is, that a person who's been in a coma for two years should not be able to buzz before the end--then I think you'll continue to have a hard time getting people to write good science CE: it's hard to find a science topic with a good pyramid's worth of clues all strictly from the last two years.

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Re: NAQT's Post-ICT Survey

Post by Gautam » Wed Apr 16, 2008 2:41 pm

Brian Ulrich wrote: This has always been a tricky issue, and while I have no idea what other people at NAQT think about this, I tend to go by a sort of informal "how it feels" test. Another way of looking at it has been whether someone who has been in a coma for the past year or two could still answer it before the giveaway. As examples of other directions, though, the category has historically included diseases, endangered or newly extinct species, pollution, climate change, cloning and other genetic breakthroughs, and that sort of thing. For ICT, I tried to write on MRSA and the Wilkins Ice Shelf, but couldn't get either to work.
Tossups on the Insulin Growth Factor 1 Receptor, giant magnetoresistance, the GFDL CM2.X, and other exciting developments coming to packets near us, amirite?!?!?!?!?!
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Re: NAQT's Post-ICT Survey

Post by msaifutaa » Wed Apr 16, 2008 3:28 pm

setht wrote:
msaifutaa wrote:I would be more likely to play if RMP received its own distribution
I don't understand this. Why do we care how things are categorized? I'm pretty sure religion, myth and philosophy all get fixed numbers of questions in SCT/ICT sets. Are you saying you want to see more of each? I agree with you on that, and I would like to see survey questions that allow people to vote specifically on changing the amounts of religion, myth and philosophy questions, but I don't see a need to group the three categories together.

-Seth
Ah, that's the trouble with cutting out the parenthetical statement that followed in my original post--the part you quoted only makes sense combined with that (heck, you confused me into thinking I said something silly until I looked back at my own post :oops: ). Basically, I like getting a myth and a religion toss-up in (nearly) every packet. Particularly when I know that there will be so much trash/CE. Again, I'm probably not their target audience, so I can't speak for anyone else, but I have fun when I convert questions.

I admit that I'm not a great player--I'm nowhere near the very top tiers, but our team is good and has been improving, and sometimes we do something amazing (like beating Maryland this year at Deepbench when I went on a hot streak and our team pulled together). When it comes to (non-NAQT) tournaments, I generally sit at a comfortable ~25 PPG from toss-ups minimum that has the potential to rise upward quite a bit depending on subcategory distribution, etc, such that my actual average is often in the upper 30s and occasionally better, with one scoring title in my senior year (because Brown hosted and Harvard didn't send their best players). Nothing special, I know--I consider our team to be very balanced and much less about individual players racking up points. But NAQT has made it a strategic advantage for our team to not play me at all. That's one of the main reasons I don't play. My last NAQT event I had 7 PPG. I can't tell you exactly what all the factors are that go into that difference, but I'm sure that the lack of Religion/Mythology is a large contributor (that's ~20 guaranteed of questions I can compete on in ACF format right there, except in those packets where the R/M gets put after the 20th), along with all the Trash/CE, for which I usually might as well put down the buzzer. I don't expect NAQT to remove the Trash CE because it has become such a part of their identity, but increasing the R/M seems like something they might more likely do.

Again, I admit I'm biased--I'm also the guy who always says "Hey guys--I know a good tournament we haven't read yet that we can read this time at practice: Tlazolteotl Chows Down!" It never works.

Also, I'm not positive if you're right about the fixed number. It could be, and I readily admit that you're in a better position to know than me, since I only have empirical evidence, but if so, the fixed number is precipitously low. In my room at SCT, I read every toss-up in every round except three rounds where I missed one (and looked at the one I missed), and the number, which I used to know but have since forgotten, so this could be off now, in the whole tournament was something like 4/3. I could swear I've seen more than that (though not by much) in previous years. It may be a fixed number that they discuss and change slightly each year though.
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Re: NAQT's Post-ICT Survey

Post by Important Bird Area » Wed Apr 16, 2008 3:46 pm

Yes, there's a fixed quantity of mythology.

The ICT contained 9/9 myth, distributed like this:

4/5 classical
1/1 Norse
1/1 Egyptian
1/1 Mesopotamian
1/1 American
1/0 East Asian

That's 1/1 myth in every two packets, with a roughly even split between classical and everything else.

"Should there be more myth?" and "Should the distribution of various myths be changed?" would be two fine questions for the survey.
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Re: NAQT's Post-ICT Survey

Post by msaifutaa » Wed Apr 16, 2008 4:05 pm

bt_green_warbler wrote:Yes, there's a fixed quantity of mythology.

The ICT contained 9/9 myth, distributed like this:

4/5 classical
1/1 Norse
1/1 Egyptian
1/1 Mesopotamian
1/1 American
1/0 East Asian

That's 1/1 myth in every two packets, with a roughly even split between classical and everything else.

"Should there be more myth?" and "Should the distribution of various myths be changed?" would be two fine questions for the survey.
Hmm, maybe a lot of the SCT myth this year was in the last two rounds for finals that I didn't read then. That's the other issue with the no in-packet distribution. And I know at SCT the rest of my team who were playing didn't even hear all of the 4/3 I got to read because their readers only got through ~20, and that dropped the myth to something like 2/2.

Anyway, good to see the East Asian show up! My personal distribution (keeping in mind that I know NAQT does want to bias more towards the most widely-known mythologies than I would normally) for 18 packets would probably be more like:

4/4 Classical
2/2 Norse
2/2 Mesopotamian
2/2 Egyptian
2/1 Celtic (the 2/1 and 1/2 are interchangable here and below)
1/2 East Asian
1/1 Aztec
1/1 African
1/1 Eastern Europe + Finland (there's some great stuff in here that hasn't been mined yet, but if you prefer, it could be folded up into Other or sent away to Classical)
2/2 Other (things like Hawaiian, Inuit, Mayan, Incan, Australian Aboriginal, etc. An example of relatively common 1/1 that uses the first two example cultures would be the Sedna toss-up and the Hawaiian deities bonus of usually Maui, Pele, and your choice of third)
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Re: NAQT's Post-ICT Survey

Post by Important Bird Area » Wed Apr 16, 2008 4:41 pm

msaifutaa wrote:Hmm, maybe a lot of the SCT myth this year was in the last two rounds for finals that I didn't read then. That's the other issue with the no in-packet distribution. And I know at SCT the rest of my team who were playing didn't even hear all of the 4/3 I got to read because their readers only got through ~20, and that dropped the myth to something like 2/2.
SCT myth (total 7/7) by round:

1: 1/1
2: 1/1
3: 1/1
4: 1/0
5: none
6: 1/1
7: 1/0
8: none
9: 0/1
10: none
11: 1/0
12: none
13: 0/1
14: none
15: 0/1
16: none

If anything, that tournament was frontloaded with myth...
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Re: NAQT's Post-ICT Survey

Post by msaifutaa » Wed Apr 16, 2008 5:01 pm

bt_green_warbler wrote:
msaifutaa wrote:Hmm, maybe a lot of the SCT myth this year was in the last two rounds for finals that I didn't read then. That's the other issue with the no in-packet distribution. And I know at SCT the rest of my team who were playing didn't even hear all of the 4/3 I got to read because their readers only got through ~20, and that dropped the myth to something like 2/2.
SCT myth (total 7/7) by round:

1: 1/1
2: 1/1
3: 1/1
4: 1/0
5: none
6: 1/1
7: 1/0
8: none
9: 0/1
10: none
11: 1/0
12: none
13: 0/1
14: none
15: 0/1
16: none

If anything, that tournament was frontloaded with myth...
Hmm, that's weird. Let's see. I realise that the first round's 1/1 is explainable by the fact that they had me switch from reading Div II to Div I after the first round. And looking back, our room, including my scorekeeper and me, was also cycled out for one round on a bye. If that round happened to be 6 with 1/1, then I can believe that I read packets with 5/5 and only remembered 4/3 (probably lost a toss-up due to memory issues and then a bonus or two when the teams didn't convert all the way to the end and I didn't notice a myth in there).
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Re: NAQT's Post-ICT Survey

Post by vandyhawk » Wed Apr 16, 2008 5:23 pm

bt_green_warbler wrote:Yes, there's a fixed quantity of mythology.

The ICT contained 9/9 myth, distributed like this:

4/5 classical
1/1 Norse
1/1 Egyptian
1/1 Mesopotamian
1/1 American
1/0 East Asian

That's 1/1 myth in every two packets, with a roughly even split between classical and everything else.

"Should there be more myth?" and "Should the distribution of various myths be changed?" would be two fine questions for the survey.
So was the Popul Vuh / Asturias / Xibalba bonus counted as pure lit? I ask b/c there was also an Aztec myth bonus, which seems to go against the 1/1 American component described by Jeff.

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Re: NAQT's Post-ICT Survey

Post by Birdofredum Sawin » Wed Apr 16, 2008 5:39 pm

I wrote and edited the Popul Vuh bonus, which I coded as "religious literature" (since the Popul Vuh is a sacred text); that's part of the lit sub-distribution.

One upshot of this discussion is that NAQT isn't as bad about RMP as it might seem (and as it used to be). First, there are fixed sub-distributions for myth, philosophy, theology, and religious literature (the latter two between them make up what is deemed "religion" at a standard tournament). Those provide minima for these categories -- there will definitely be, e.g. 8/8 philosophy in the set (or whatever the exact number was). But questions on these subjects can also appear in the set as part of the general knowledge/miscellaneous category. For example, there was a tossup on "Clio" at ICT where the first two sentences were on the mythical Clio, followed by some clues about the Clio Awards, followed by a "muse of history" giveaway. That wasn't a shitty myth question, but a "miscellaneous" tossup which gave myth players an added chance to get a tossup in their area.

If I were voting in a survey, I might also want some more myth and philosophy (I think religion is about as well-represented in NAQT as it is on the circuit). However, it's not really true to say that these categories are absent from NAQT as it stands.
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Re: NAQT's Post-ICT Survey

Post by Brian Ulrich » Wed Apr 16, 2008 6:58 pm

setht wrote:
Brian Ulrich wrote:This has always been a tricky issue, and while I have no idea what other people at NAQT think about this, I tend to go by a sort of informal "how it feels" test. Another way of looking at it has been whether someone who has been in a coma for the past year or two could still answer it before the giveaway. As examples of other directions, though, the category has historically included diseases, endangered or newly extinct species, pollution, climate change, cloning and other genetic breakthroughs, and that sort of thing. For ICT, I tried to write on MRSA and the Wilkins Ice Shelf, but couldn't get either to work.
To clarify: do you want CE questions written so that even people that have been in a coma for the past two years can answer before the giveaway? If that's what you mean, I would think that science CE on things like gamma ray bursts would work better than tossups on New Horizons/other NASA missions. If you mean the opposite--that is, that a person who's been in a coma for two years should not be able to buzz before the end--then I think you'll continue to have a hard time getting people to write good science CE: it's hard to find a science topic with a good pyramid's worth of clues all strictly from the last two years.

-Seth
The idea is that someone whose been in a coma should not be able to answer until late. I've been trying to figure out how best to answer your gamma ray burst question, and I think it depends on what direction it takes in the later clues. If they focus on the physics of gamma ray bursts, then it should probably be in physics. If they take the direction, "because of this research, we are about to understand/develop X, Y, and Z," then that's more CE.

What you're bringing up is the type of question I have the most trouble dealing with: the study. I get tons of questions of the "drinking water may cause cancer" variety, usually written out of a single news story. I know that there is no correlation between a study's real importance and its media play, but I have no way of evaluating this for myself. I usually wind up approving these, because they tend to be pyramidal, and because I think I've lost every internal battle I've ever waged over one. These do usually come up in high school; the college equivalent would probably be something like the gamma ray burst you describe. These don't get written because the stable of writers we have doesn't know what's really going on with them.

In thinking about the sorts of issues that do fall into this, we actually hardly ever have physics. There's a lot of space exploration, a lot of medicine in terms of new drugs or epidemics (SARS, bird flu), environmental questions like the polar bear becoming endangered due to global warming at last year's HSNCT, and then all these widely reported studies about how some people who take viagra develop hangnails. The problem, I suppose, is finding people who can write intelligently about such matters at college level.
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Re: NAQT's Post-ICT Survey

Post by grapesmoker » Wed Apr 16, 2008 7:45 pm

Brian Ulrich wrote:The idea is that someone whose been in a coma should not be able to answer until late.
What is the motivation for this? I can see how this makes sense when applied to political current events or things that get a lot of media time like the LHC, but I don't understand why this should apply to the rest of the science CE category. The amount of stuff that proliferates with regards to just about anything in any subdiscipline of science is ridiculously large; it's hard enough to keep up with your own literature, much less read about what people in orthogonal disciplines are doing. When you write this kind of question, you are essentially taking a category someone would normally be very competitive in and eliminating any advantage that they might have, all because you and that person didn't read the same headline two days ago.
What you're bringing up is the type of question I have the most trouble dealing with: the study. I get tons of questions of the "drinking water may cause cancer" variety, usually written out of a single news story. I know that there is no correlation between a study's real importance and its media play, but I have no way of evaluating this for myself. I usually wind up approving these, because they tend to be pyramidal, and because I think I've lost every internal battle I've ever waged over one. These do usually come up in high school; the college equivalent would probably be something like the gamma ray burst you describe. These don't get written because the stable of writers we have doesn't know what's really going on with them.
Solution: do not write questions on studies. I would contend that these questions are almost always antipyramidal, simply because they create 15-or-buzzer-race situations. The gamma ray question doesn't match this mold, because it has a part that mentions the satellite doing the study and then goes on to the general science of GRBs. As a result, a competent physicist who may not be familiar with SWIFT is still competitive on this question against those without physics knowledge, instead of being shut out entirely.
In thinking about the sorts of issues that do fall into this, we actually hardly ever have physics. There's a lot of space exploration, a lot of medicine in terms of new drugs or epidemics (SARS, bird flu), environmental questions like the polar bear becoming endangered due to global warming at last year's HSNCT, and then all these widely reported studies about how some people who take viagra develop hangnails. The problem, I suppose, is finding people who can write intelligently about such matters at college level.


I don't think there exists a person who can write a whole question on how Viagra might give you hangnails. It's of curiosity as a clue, but would more likely result in a tossup on hangnails and subsequent general ire.
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Re: NAQT's Post-ICT Survey

Post by Matt Weiner » Wed Apr 16, 2008 7:50 pm

I know this has been declared a verboten topic, but maybe if it's so impossible to write science current events, and everyone admits the science current events questions are fairly weak because they are pressed out under sub-ideal circumstances, and no one particularly is clamoring for science current events to get 6 (!) questions per tournament anyway....you could perhaps eliminate the requirement to have questions on science current events?
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Re: NAQT's Post-ICT Survey

Post by Birdofredum Sawin » Wed Apr 16, 2008 11:39 pm

Matt Weiner wrote:I know this has been declared a verboten topic, but maybe if it's so impossible to write science current events, and everyone admits the science current events questions are fairly weak because they are pressed out under sub-ideal circumstances, and no one particularly is clamoring for science current events to get 6 (!) questions per tournament anyway....you could perhaps eliminate the requirement to have questions on science current events?
When was this declared a "verboten" topic? I hereby declare that "Should science current events be eliminated from the distribution?" ought to be a question on the survey. I'll even add "Should NAQT remove questions on elements as a specified sub-category of its science distribution?"
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Re: NAQT's Post-ICT Survey

Post by grapesmoker » Thu Apr 17, 2008 10:01 am

Birdofredum Sawin wrote:When was this declared a "verboten" topic? I hereby declare that "Should science current events be eliminated from the distribution?" ought to be a question on the survey. I'll even add "Should NAQT remove questions on elements as a specified sub-category of its science distribution?"
I think the point was that we were all operating under the assumption that the distribution wasn't going to change and were focusing on how to improve the questions given the distribution. But certainly if given the option to not have science CE, I would vote for that.
As for elements, I think good tossups on elements (e.g. xenon) are fine, but I don't see why they need to be a required part of the distribution. That seems like a really odd way to break things down, especially since there's no sub-field of chemistry called "studying elements." It would make more sense to break the larger categories into subfields based on specialty: physics would be divided into particle, astrophysics, solid state, and so on, while chemistry and bio would get broken down into whatever subfields there are.
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Re: NAQT's Post-ICT Survey

Post by Birdofredum Sawin » Thu Apr 17, 2008 10:23 am

grapesmoker wrote: I think the point was that we were all operating under the assumption that the distribution wasn't going to change and were focusing on how to improve the questions given the distribution. But certainly if given the option to not have science CE, I would vote for that.
As for elements, I think good tossups on elements (e.g. xenon) are fine, but I don't see why they need to be a required part of the distribution. That seems like a really odd way to break things down, especially since there's no sub-field of chemistry called "studying elements." It would make more sense to break the larger categories into subfields based on specialty: physics would be divided into particle, astrophysics, solid state, and so on, while chemistry and bio would get broken down into whatever subfields there are.
As R. said in the opening of this thread, one of the subjects of the survey can be "distribution issues."

The science breakdown is a bit odd, in my opinion. Right now, there is an undifferentiated "physics" subdistribution; last year I proposed changing that to a more specific subdistribution (with minimal quotas for quantum, E&M, classical mechanics, particle physics, etc.) but that seems not to have been implemented. By contrast, the "chemistry" subdistribution is broken down into such categories as organic, physical, elements, etc. I would think a question like "Should each of the large science categories feature a subdistribution which at least attempts to reflect the way these disciplines are taught at the college level?" might be a good one.
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Re: NAQT's Post-ICT Survey

Post by rhentzel » Thu Apr 17, 2008 11:22 am

I know that I had originally said that NAQT would be putting up our survey today, but we're pleased with the ideas this thread has generated and now plan to put it off until tomorrow to allow the discussion to continue.

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Re: NAQT's Post-ICT Survey

Post by rhentzel » Thu Apr 17, 2008 11:28 am

Matt Weiner wrote:I know this has been declared a verboten topic, but maybe . . . . you could perhaps eliminate the requirement to have questions on science current events?
If I implied that NAQT would not consider changes to this distribution, I apologize. We welcome suggested questions on all areas of the tournament including the distribution.

I won't promise that we'll democratize NAQT by immediately changing our policies to whatever gets the most votes, but we'll certainly consider just about any possible change.

As far as distribution issues go, changing subdistribution quotas (e.g. types of mythology) is more likely than "top-level" quotas (e.g., literature versus science), but we've certainly changed the latter before (including last year), so anything is possible.

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Re: NAQT's Post-ICT Survey

Post by setht » Thu Apr 17, 2008 2:22 pm

msaifutaa wrote:My personal distribution (keeping in mind that I know NAQT does want to bias more towards the most widely-known mythologies than I would normally) for 18 packets would probably be more like:

4/4 Classical
2/2 Norse
2/2 Mesopotamian
2/2 Egyptian
2/1 Celtic (the 2/1 and 1/2 are interchangable here and below)
1/2 East Asian
1/1 Aztec
1/1 African
1/1 Eastern Europe + Finland (there's some great stuff in here that hasn't been mined yet, but if you prefer, it could be folded up into Other or sent away to Classical)
2/2 Other (things like Hawaiian, Inuit, Mayan, Incan, Australian Aboriginal, etc. An example of relatively common 1/1 that uses the first two example cultures would be the Sedna toss-up and the Hawaiian deities bonus of usually Maui, Pele, and your choice of third)
I'd be ecstatic if there was 1/1 myth (and so much of it non-classical) in every round, but honestly, that's more than the average (m)ACF tournament, where there's at most 1/1 myth per round. I know there are more questions per round in NAQT, but I don't think there needs to be 1/1 myth; I'd be comfortable with something in the range of 12/12 to 15/15 for an 18 packet set. Also, I would argue that the distribution should have a slot for Indian myth, which I would say is a bigger category than Mesopotamian or Egyptian, and I would scale back the amount of non-classical stuff--I think you're overestimating the number of distinct tossup-worthy answers in, say, Mesopotamian, Aztec and African myth. If the same stuff starts cycling through SCT and ICT every year, people will (rightfully) complain. I enjoy non-classical myth more than classical myth, but the fact is that there are way, way more tossup-worthy subjects in Greek myth than any other mythology, possibly more than all other mythologies combined.
Birdofredum Sawin wrote:I wrote and edited the Popul Vuh bonus, which I coded as "religious literature" (since the Popul Vuh is a sacred text); that's part of the lit sub-distribution.

One upshot of this discussion is that NAQT isn't as bad about RMP as it might seem (and as it used to be). First, there are fixed sub-distributions for myth, philosophy, theology, and religious literature (the latter two between them make up what is deemed "religion" at a standard tournament). Those provide minima for these categories -- there will definitely be, e.g. 8/8 philosophy in the set (or whatever the exact number was). But questions on these subjects can also appear in the set as part of the general knowledge/miscellaneous category. For example, there was a tossup on "Clio" at ICT where the first two sentences were on the mythical Clio, followed by some clues about the Clio Awards, followed by a "muse of history" giveaway. That wasn't a shitty myth question, but a "miscellaneous" tossup which gave myth players an added chance to get a tossup in their area.

If I were voting in a survey, I might also want some more myth and philosophy (I think religion is about as well-represented in NAQT as it is on the circuit). However, it's not really true to say that these categories are absent from NAQT as it stands.
I'll certainly vote for more myth and philosophy in the survey; perhaps we can cut down some of the general knowledge? The Clio tossup was fine, but if it's being used as an excuse to put more myth content into the tournament, why not scale back the general knowledge and bump up the myth content? In general, my impression is that the last two ICTs have had substantial numbers of general knowledge questions that were primarily myth or philosophy or fine arts or social science or other academic subjects. I definitely prefer this to trivial general knowledge, but I'd happier getting a "pure myth" question on Clio without the stuff on the Clio Awards. I'm fine with leaving in a reduced number of general knowledge questions, and I hope they continue to consist primarily of mixed-subject academic and occasional trash questions, but as a writer I think it's easier to produce high-quality single-subject questions, and as a player I enjoy those more.
Brian Ulrich wrote:The idea is that someone whose been in a coma should not be able to answer until late. I've been trying to figure out how best to answer your gamma ray burst question, and I think it depends on what direction it takes in the later clues. If they focus on the physics of gamma ray bursts, then it should probably be in physics. If they take the direction, "because of this research, we are about to understand/develop X, Y, and Z," then that's more CE.

What you're bringing up is the type of question I have the most trouble dealing with: the study. I get tons of questions of the "drinking water may cause cancer" variety, usually written out of a single news story. I know that there is no correlation between a study's real importance and its media play, but I have no way of evaluating this for myself. I usually wind up approving these, because they tend to be pyramidal, and because I think I've lost every internal battle I've ever waged over one. These do usually come up in high school; the college equivalent would probably be something like the gamma ray burst you describe. These don't get written because the stable of writers we have doesn't know what's really going on with them.

In thinking about the sorts of issues that do fall into this, we actually hardly ever have physics. There's a lot of space exploration, a lot of medicine in terms of new drugs or epidemics (SARS, bird flu), environmental questions like the polar bear becoming endangered due to global warming at last year's HSNCT, and then all these widely reported studies about how some people who take viagra develop hangnails. The problem, I suppose, is finding people who can write intelligently about such matters at college level.
I think you could get circuit science players to write some questions that start out with clues on important studies/observations, then move into background science--for instance, I would have no objection to writing a tossup that has early clues on GRB 080319B and the SWIFT satellite before moving into "science of GRBs" clues--but I don't think there are going to be many people that are interested in writing science CE questions where every clue before the FTP is based on work of the last two years with some level of media coverage. These people should be able to recognize and write on studies/events in their own fields that are big enough to merit the interest of people outside their own fields, but I think it's rare to find such a study/event with enough good clues to populate everything before the giveaway of a tossup. Personally, I think it's fine to have a "science CE" question where people that are following science news get (say) two sentences of clues primarily on recent material before the question opens up to a wider audience; in fact, I prefer that to lots of questions on NASA missions, even though I probably have a better shot on those questions than pretty much anyone that doesn't specifically follow NASA news.

Anyway, I think it's worth having survey questions asking whether science CE should be eliminated, and (if it's not eliminated) whether it's okay to have science CE questions that are pretty much science questions with some important, recent material used as early clues.

It might also be worth having questions asking for player input on science subdistributions, but I think we'll get better results from having NAQT consult a couple well-informed scientists.

Moving off questions about the questions, I think it would be worth asking what NAQT can do to encourage clubs to bid for SCT and ICT. Assuming this is still up for consideration, I think it would be worth asking specifically whether increasing the number of auto-bids awarded for hosting a large Sectional would make clubs more willing to submit bids to host SCTs. I don't have any special ideas for increasing interest in bidding for ICT, but I think awarding more auto-bids for large Sectionals is more likely to boost SCT bids than increasing the amount of money the hosts keep, and I can't think of any other effective compensation.

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Re: NAQT's Post-ICT Survey

Post by samer » Thu Apr 17, 2008 2:54 pm

cvdwightw wrote:Perhaps a survey question could ask whether people would prefer a chemistry distribution divided into organic/biological and non-organic (in which element questions could still definitely be written, but would be more relevant to what is taught in college chemistry courses).
Your proposal more-or-less matches how things are done now.
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Re: NAQT's Post-ICT Survey

Post by setht » Thu Apr 17, 2008 3:28 pm

samer wrote:
cvdwightw wrote:Perhaps a survey question could ask whether people would prefer a chemistry distribution divided into organic/biological and non-organic (in which element questions could still definitely be written, but would be more relevant to what is taught in college chemistry courses).
Your proposal more-or-less matches how things are done now.
Would NAQT be willing to put up the current distribution and the sub-distributions, including minimum/maximum numbers in different categories? There's evidently some confusion over which science categories have sub-distributions (and what those sub-distributions look like), whether myth has a fixed number of questions or is a formless blob within the literature section, etc. I think this might help people figure out what kinds of questions they'd like to see on the survey. If there's not enough time between now and the start of the survey to do this, I guess the survey could give the detailed numbers for all the categories and people can vote on everything (e.g., should there be more myth questions? Is the chemistry sub-distribution fine, and if not, how should it change?).

Also, I know NAQT wants to calculate conversion statistics--if those are available before the survey, I think it might be instructive for people to see how things went. If the sub-distribution and conversion statistics aren't supposed to be made public, that's fine; I just think they might be useful in trying to formulate survey questions (and in getting better feedback on the survey).

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Re: NAQT's Post-ICT Survey

Post by msaifutaa » Thu Apr 17, 2008 3:50 pm

setht wrote:
msaifutaa wrote:My personal distribution (keeping in mind that I know NAQT does want to bias more towards the most widely-known mythologies than I would normally) for 18 packets would probably be more like:

4/4 Classical
2/2 Norse
2/2 Mesopotamian
2/2 Egyptian
2/1 Celtic (the 2/1 and 1/2 are interchangable here and below)
1/2 East Asian
1/1 Aztec
1/1 African
1/1 Eastern Europe + Finland (there's some great stuff in here that hasn't been mined yet, but if you prefer, it could be folded up into Other or sent away to Classical)
2/2 Other (things like Hawaiian, Inuit, Mayan, Incan, Australian Aboriginal, etc. An example of relatively common 1/1 that uses the first two example cultures would be the Sedna toss-up and the Hawaiian deities bonus of usually Maui, Pele, and your choice of third)
I'd be ecstatic if there was 1/1 myth (and so much of it non-classical) in every round, but honestly, that's more than the average (m)ACF tournament, where there's at most 1/1 myth per round. I know there are more questions per round in NAQT, but I don't think there needs to be 1/1 myth; I'd be comfortable with something in the range of 12/12 to 15/15 for an 18 packet set. Also, I would argue that the distribution should have a slot for Indian myth, which I would say is a bigger category than Mesopotamian or Egyptian, and I would scale back the amount of non-classical stuff--I think you're overestimating the number of distinct tossup-worthy answers in, say, Mesopotamian, Aztec and African myth. If the same stuff starts cycling through SCT and ICT every year, people will (rightfully) complain. I enjoy non-classical myth more than classical myth, but the fact is that there are way, way more tossup-worthy subjects in Greek myth than any other mythology, possibly more than all other mythologies combined.
Good insights--I kind of cobbled together my tentative distribution in a few minutes, so I didn't think over it too much. I'll admit, I actually do love Classical mythology more than most non-Classical, but I love variety even more. That said, I'm certainly happy to add in more Classical.

I think that there's definitely a large swathe of Mesopotamian and a reasonable amount of Aztec that's toss-upable (perhaps not quite enough--maybe Mayan and Incan can be thrown in here, though I'm not sure that the Mayans or the Incans really have very much toss-upable, which was why I initially threw them in other), though admittedly maybe not as much African (perhaps throw in Caribbean religions of African origin and you can get a reasonable selection for 1/1 though).

As to Hinduism (and for instance, Zoroastrian, etc), I intentionally left those out because they can get some love in the Religion category as well. Still, perhaps 1/1 of the "Other" category or the African could become a "Mythologies of World Religion" category that covers the strongly mythological aspect of various religions. Of course, I'd be happier seeing those in the Religion category if possible.

If we consider the extra questions in an (m)ACF packet, which still is usually less than the 26/26 for a full NAQT packet, I think there always is 1/1 Mythology (correct me if I'm wrong!) and thus the only reason you wouldn't see a Myth question in a round is when the editors put it after the 20th.

How about:

6/6 Classical
2/2 Norse
2/1 Mesopotamian (the 2/1 and 1/2 are interchangable here and below)
1/2 Egyptian
2/1 Celtic (the 2/1 and 1/2 are interchangable here and below)
1/2 East Asian
1/1 American (Aztec, Mayan, Incan, Native American, etc)
1/1 Eastern Europe + Finland (there's some great stuff in here that hasn't been mined yet, but if you prefer, it could be folded up into Other or sent away to Classical)
2/2 Other (of which at least 1/0 or 0/1 should be African)
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Re: NAQT's Post-ICT Survey

Post by trphilli » Thu Apr 17, 2008 7:54 pm

As a moderator, I met some teams (not usually represented here) that had concerns about the current wording of the forefiet rule.

Their train of thought:

Would you prefer that in a situation where a team fails to arrive within five minutes of a stated game time that the first half begin at that time and the late team uses their time out to stop the game when they arrive compared to a straight forfeit?

And also from my perspective:
Should the the 8 team CC bracket be played seperately as a double round robin tournament (14 rounds)?
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Re: NAQT's Post-ICT Survey

Post by jagluski » Thu Apr 17, 2008 10:24 pm

trphilli wrote:
And also from my perspective:
Should the the 8 team CC bracket be played seperately as a double round robin tournament (14 rounds)?
What would the logic for this be? As an example, Valencia finished 2nd (I'm fairly certain...could have been 3rd or 4th) at the 2004 ICT. I can't speak for the cc's, but I would guess that they enjoy the opportunity to compete against the 4 year schools.
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Re: NAQT's Post-ICT Survey

Post by AKKOLADE » Thu Apr 17, 2008 10:29 pm

jagluski wrote:What would the logic for this be? As an example, Valencia finished 2nd (I'm fairly certain...could have been 3rd or 4th) at the 2004 ICT. I can't speak for the cc's, but I would guess that they enjoy the opportunity to compete against the 4 year schools.
And, if I recall correctly, the best CCs are usually annually competitive against the second bracket in D2 at the every least.
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Re: NAQT's Post-ICT Survey

Post by NoahMinkCHS » Thu Apr 17, 2008 11:28 pm

I think the logic is that, while there are cases like Valencia '04, and while there are always a couple competitive CCs in middle brackets, most CCs end up doing poorly in the bottom bracket -- case in point, this year 5 of the bottom 6 were CCs.

Personally, though, I would only be in favor of splitting out the CC division if it meant adding 8 more slots for four-year college Division 2 teams. (I discussed this in depth in a post back in Feb or March.) If the suggestion is to have 24 D2 teams and a separate division of 8 CCs, I think that wouldn't really help anyone, since:
-the worst CCs would still lose a ton of games, only they would all be to good CCs instead of good teams from all kinds of schools
-the best CCs would be limited to only playing other CC teams rather than getting a chance to "prove" themselves against top D2 teams
-the rest of D2 would be no better or worse off, other than that they might miss the chance to play really good CC teams some years
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Re: NAQT's Post-ICT Survey

Post by grapesmoker » Fri Apr 18, 2008 1:04 am

Hey NAQT people, on a totally unrelated note, can we have a question in the survey about whether the 2-day ICT should be shortened to one day? Personally, I find the Friday play hugely inconvenient and I can't be the only one.
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Re: NAQT's Post-ICT Survey

Post by cornfused » Fri Apr 18, 2008 1:05 am

I would assume that at least Eric Mukherjee agrees with that statement. And possibly Pat Hope, too.
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Re: NAQT's Post-ICT Survey

Post by rhentzel » Tue Apr 29, 2008 12:33 pm

everyday847 wrote:Should there be a distribution of links, if CE does in fact have one--i.e. if there's science CE and lit CE and political CE, should there be equal numbers of the three, or should that be more closely tied to the actual number of relevant current events? It could be difficult to require five science CE per ICT set if science event #5 is relatively unknown, perhaps outside the university or town where it happened, etc.
-Same goes for trash, if there can be said to be a link.
I may be being dense here, but what is meant by "links" in this context? Is it synonymous with what NAQT would call a "subdistribution"?

As currently structured, NAQT calls for x% of a packet to be CE, and then y% of that is political CE, z% is science CE, and so on.

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Re: NAQT's Post-ICT Survey

Post by rhentzel » Tue Apr 29, 2008 12:46 pm

everyday847 wrote:(Similarly, I've never talked to anyone who genuinely believes that a given category should get a distribution of 5 \pm 2--or anyone who thinks that the circuit would like that. Instead, I've heard about the problems that that creates, pretty much exclusively. Nonetheless, I agree that it should be on the survey, since it's possible that there's an inspired argument in its favor that I'm/we're missing.)
What is the difference between NAQT's distribution in which (for example) literature gets 5/6 or 6/5 depending on the packet and ACF's distribution in which mythology gets 1/1 or 1/2 or 2/1 depending on the packet?

These seem like essentially identical circumstances to me, but there seems to be a great deal of complaining about the former and very little about the latter.

I guess you can put me down for genuinely believing that categories that can vary across packets is a useful way to define distributions because it allows you to work in increments other than 18/18 (if you have an 18-packet set). NAQT thinks there should be questions about foreign language in its sets; does that mean there should be 18/18 in a set? No. It seems to me that ACF feels similarly: philosophy, mythology, and religion belong in a set, but each one isn't given 18/18, instead each is given 12/12 (approximately) so that not every packet is the same.

Alternatively, if social science were (in some hypothetical distribution) 2/2 and people thought it should be increased, the only possible step would be to go to 3/3, a full 50% increase. It's quite possible, though, that a 20% or 40% increase might be more in keeping with players' desires. That's not going to happen without some sort of "x \pm y distribution."

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