2018 ACF Regionals Thanks and General Discussion

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2018 ACF Regionals Thanks and General Discussion

Post by Auroni » Mon Jan 22, 2018 9:18 am

First of all, I'd like to extend thanks to the hundreds of people who played, staffed, and directed ACF Regionals this past weekend -- I hope you enjoyed yourself and that things went smoothly. I can't heap enough praise upon my coeditors -- Will Alston, Will Holub-Moorman, Stephen Eltinge, and Kenji Shimizu -- for working tirelessly and constantly with me over the past several months in the hopes of ensuring that virtually anybody who played this set, regardless of skill level or seniority, could get something out of the experience. Rounding out the Regionals team was Ophir Lif, a wizard who not only updated his acclaimed detailed statistical software for this tournament but thoroughly read through and proofread the questions, and Roxanne Ilagan, who was on point in communicating with hosts and teams, and effectively served as the public face of the tournament. Thanks are also due to Eliza Grames, Will Nediger, Ramapriya Rangaraju, and Ophir (once again!) for proofreading, to Jason Thompson and Tejas Raje for freelancing a couple of questions in the leadup to the tournament, and to Billy Busse, Eliza (again!), Ike Jose, Rob Carson, and Ryan Rosenberg (a non-exhaustive list, I'm sure) for playtesting and providing feedback on select questions, helping shape the look and feel of the set.

Though there was some fluidity, here was the category breakdown of editing:

Auroni - Long Fiction, Poetry, Biology, Chemistry
Will Alston - all history (except post-600 European), Music/Opera, Auditory Other, Religion, Mythology
Will Holub-Moorman - Drama, Short Fiction, Miscellaneous Lit, Philosophy, Social Science
Stephen - Physics, Math, Other Science
Kenji - post-600 European History, Geography, Current Events, Other Academic, Painting/Sculpture, Visual Other

We took to heart this tournament's role as the "middle" or "bridging" tournament in the ACF series. This meant that we aimed for roughly half of our tossup answers to be easy, or permissible at ACF Fall (I'd have to run the numbers, but I believe we did hit this benchmark), and we chose bonus easy parts that were on average answerable by the vast majority of the field (we mostly hit this, but there were occasional situations in the humanities where this was not possible without badly contorting the bonus). We also wrote many "deep" questions on fundamental topics. Importantly, however, we recognized that this tournament will be played by many teams that are (considering) also playing ACF Nationals for the first time. Having once been on such an enterprising team, and having observed many such teams every year over my decade of involvement in the game, I sympathize with how much of a chasm still exists between regular and nationals difficulty. Therefore I instructed my coeditors to use the first line or two of many tossups, and the third parts of many bonuses, to pointedly draw from (or ask, in the case of bonuses), topics or fields that aren't often represented in the regular difficulty "canon". These included (but weren't limited to) the academic study of literature or history, the "doing" of science, and cultural studies. We also aimed to illustrate the ties between artists and creators who only seem to appear at hard difficulties to traditions and topics more familiar to a regular difficulty audience. We tried to do this as unobtrusively as possible, but I recognize that this sometimes resulted in hard leadins and third parts, and verbose bonuses. But I believe that we have created a useful sampling of traditionally higher difficulty topics without generating a set that was too hard to play.

But that's enough from me. Make general comments about the set here, and use the other thread for specific question related comments.
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Re: Thanks and General Discussion

Post by AGoodMan » Mon Jan 22, 2018 11:56 am

*These sentiments are those of a sophomore with limited college reg-level exposure.

I thought overall the tossups of this set were more difficult than last year's. One packet that included Charles Bukowski as an answerline stuck out to me as a particular difficult round (4 tossups went dead). Overall I had a good experience though, and am looking forward to seeing the OphirStats when they are released.
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Re: Thanks and General Discussion

Post by An Economic Ignoramus » Mon Jan 22, 2018 12:02 pm

A lot of the lit, art, and thought overshot regular difficulty by quite a bit, I think. I have very few complaints about the history and none about the geo. 1/0 or 0/1 on historiography seemed excessive; Herodotus was asked about/clued from a lot because the historiography canon outside of Greek and Roman primary sources is microscopic as is (a disappointing reality, but one that writers should stay aware of). Until this changes, it and archaeology should be part of a 1/1 "other/any" history distro. Current Events was weird in places but overall sound. I liked the overall philosophy of this tournament's deep tossups on Fall-ish topics, though, and think most issues with it stemmed from other aspects of its construction.

The difficulty control issues on the categories mentioned above seemed to be part of a focus on deeper modern works in those genres over canonical older works, a stylistic choice I would respect more if this were a regular-plus tournament. Examples of such things that stand out in my mind are the art tossup on Cindy Sherman, the thought tossup on The Concept of Mind, the lit tossup on Charles Bukowski that Jonathan mentioned, and the Lit bonuses on Clarice Lispector and Czeslaw Milosz. I'm sure I'll think of more when I have a list of answerlines in front of me. To be fair, in places, these odd distributional emphases led to a laudable pattern of this set asking about underasked stuff (the historiography tossup on the Inca, which, full disclosure, I wrote, the historiography (?) tossup on Turkey, Ian McEwan, and the Spanish Civil War in art). I do, however, think that such experimental aspects should be kept to lower-stakes tournaments at higher difficulty levels before being introduced to sets like this.
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Re: Thanks and General Discussion

Post by Mnemosyne » Mon Jan 22, 2018 12:10 pm

AGoodMan wrote:*These sentiments are those of a sophomore with limited college reg-level exposure.

I thought overall the tossups of this set were more difficult than last year's. One packet that included Charles Bukowski as an answerline stuck out to me as a particular difficult round (4 tossups went dead).
In the Bukowski packet, I had 5 of the first 6 tossups go dead in my room in a game between bottom bracket teams. There were definitely too many hard answer lines smashed together in that packet.


Without commenting on difficulty, I thought the set was very well written. There weren't too many terrible typos, and the pronunciation guides were awesome and better to read than anything I've seen before.
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Re: Thanks and General Discussion

Post by Auroni » Mon Jan 22, 2018 12:39 pm

Mnemosyne wrote:
AGoodMan wrote:*These sentiments are those of a sophomore with limited college reg-level exposure.

I thought overall the tossups of this set were more difficult than last year's. One packet that included Charles Bukowski as an answerline stuck out to me as a particular difficult round (4 tossups went dead).
In the Bukowski packet, I had 5 of the first 6 tossups go dead in my room in a game between bottom bracket teams. There were definitely too many hard answer lines smashed together in that packet.
I also took note of that packet's confluence of harder-than-average tossup answerlines -- we'll shuffle stuff around to break that up.
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Re: Thanks and General Discussion

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Mon Jan 22, 2018 1:47 pm

I think Auroni's covered most of the ground I meant to cover. I will say that I wanted to make my bonuses closer to Terrapin / DRAGOON in difficulty than Penn Bowl, and I don't think I accomplished that goal, for which I am disappointed in myself. That said, I do think it's valid to have multiple models of "regular" tournaments, and if Regionals is to bridge the gap to ACF Nationals and be a qualifier tournament, it makes sense for it to feel like a step up and a challenge. On the other hand, Regionals is a very widely played ACF event and easing up makes a lot of sense as well. I'd be very interested in hearing thoughts. Insofar as this tournament was more difficult than ideal, I hope that it wasn't difficult in a stupid way.

In history, I was pretty deliberate in choosing early clues that pointed away from well-established "associations" between clue and answerline and instead looked for fresh material on very basic areas or looked at completely new topics altogether (Caribs or pre-20th century Senegal for example). I heard a number of comments along the lines of "huh, I thought I knew a lot about X basic answerline" (i.e. Khmer Rouge, Three Kingdoms, Idi Amin - all things I'd happily toss up at a high school regular difficulty set) and suggestions that I replace some of my earlier clues with allusions to topics that had been better covered by past quizbowl questions. That style is valid too, but it's not what I wanted to go with, particularly as I have heard many comments that the history category is a lot easier to learn at the regular difficulty level than the literature category - if you can have a criticism leadin for a literature tossup, then you can have an anthropological leadin about the culture-bound syndrome khyal resulting from the horrifying brutality of the Khmer Rouge. This all being said, I could probably have gotten away with one fewer line in many questions, as could many of the rest of us.

I tried to compensate this by carefully picking middle clues - the buzz distributions available in the advanced stats will bear out whether this was successful.

I'll note that I think packet ordering probably contributed to the apparent overabundance of historiography - we suggested a specific order to hosts to avoid too many overlaps, and given that we were unable to remove submitted questions from their respective packets, this imposed some fairly severe constraints. In the "grab bag" history category there was 3/1 historiography (American Revolution, Incas, Germany, history from below / people's / Canada), 3/2 archaeology (Shi Huangdi's tomb, Turkey, ships, Balearic Islands / Sardinia / graves, Lascaux Caves / hunting (and gathering) / aurochs), 6/6 British/Commonwealth history, and 3/6 Ancient Near East/Classical History. I plopped in historiography and other sorts of clues throughout the distribution, so perhaps this contributed to impressions of its overabundance, but the "pure" historiography distribution was quite small. Most of the "pure" historio / archaeo questions were derived directly from submissions, and I was quite pleased with those particular submissions in general - though the Germany question was originally a submission on Leopold von Ranke, a very important figure who is nonetheless far beyond the pale for a Regionals tossup.

The Herodotus over-mentions are probably an effect of him cropping up in the myth category more than once, and I'll probably get rid of the easy part on Herodotus and replace it with something else so as to not have a big issue there.

As for my other areas - music, myth, religion, other auditory arts, and a couple freelance questions (the Cindy Sherman tossup, the Bulgars question, and the "third" tossup in politics) - I'm very open to comments there! I've received criticism in the past for using too many music clues that weren't about the pieces themselves / drew on program notes too much, so I tried to rectify this with more clues about notes and instrumentation to reward people who play and listen to the pieces more. I generally saw this play out well at my site (despite complaints) with good buzzes on clues such as the Rite of Spring opening, the notes from Fur Elise, etc. For all of these areas, I pretty much attempted a "standard" execution in line with Auroni's vision, though I put in a few tossups that were meant to be a bit non-traditional / off-kilter to keep players on their toes ("two violins" and "jokes" in classical music, "pharaoh" and world flutes in misc music, Tibet in myth, "evolution" in religion with clues from prominent 20th century thinkers about the intersection of evolution and religion).

EDIT: I ungratefully forgot to mention this, but thanks a ton to Auroni and Ophir for catching a bunch of issues in my questions, to Benji Nguyen for being my jazz consultant, to Eddie Kim for going over most of the music with me, and to Tejas Raje, Dylan Minarik, Ryan Rosenberg, Joey Goldman, and Alex Damisch for testing miscellaneous things.
Last edited by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea on Thu Jan 25, 2018 7:52 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Thanks and General Discussion

Post by AGoodMan » Mon Jan 22, 2018 2:34 pm

Periplus of the Erythraean Sea wrote:I heard a number of comments along the lines of "huh, I thought I knew a lot about X basic answerline" (i.e. Khmer Rouge, Three Kingdoms, Idi Amin - all things I'd happily toss up at a high school regular difficulty set)
I liked the Idi Amin tossup, though the Barbet Schroeder opening clue was also the opening clue of the Idi Amin tossup from 2015 ACF Fall. I don't think that's really a problem though, given that three years of time have passed.
Periplus of the Erythraean Sea wrote:a couple freelance questions (the Cindy Sherman tossup, the "third" tossup in politics)
I also really liked the "third" tossup, though I got really excited on the first clue and got it wrong.
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Re: Thanks and General Discussion

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Mon Jan 22, 2018 2:37 pm

AGoodMan wrote:
Periplus of the Erythraean Sea wrote:I heard a number of comments along the lines of "huh, I thought I knew a lot about X basic answerline" (i.e. Khmer Rouge, Three Kingdoms, Idi Amin - all things I'd happily toss up at a high school regular difficulty set)
I liked the Idi Amin tossup, though the Barbet Schroeder opening clue was also opening clue of the Idi Amin tossup from 2015 ACF Fall. I don't think that's really a problem though, given that three years of time have passed.
This is particularly unfortunate because I staffed that tournament! Sorry about that. For what it's worth, the submission was barely edited from a very well-done submission from WUSTL A.
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Re: Thanks and General Discussion

Post by nsb2 » Mon Jan 22, 2018 3:08 pm

Copying Jon's disclaimer, I'm a freshman with only a limited amount of regs-level experience.

I can't speak for all categories, but I also felt the set was a lot harder than last year's, particularly in fine arts. When I played the 2017 set at NASAT tryouts, I was sometimes able to third-line or fourth-line painting and classical music tossups with limited knowledge, but I tended to buzz one or two lines later in this year's set despite studying more. Bonuses seemed fair to me for the most part, but the middle parts felt a bit difficult.

Not sure if this is an issue per se, but Ives (tossup anwerline), GFP (bonus part), and memristors (which was a medium (?) part in this year's set as compared to a hard part in last year's) were all repeats from last year's regs with the same question format.

I enjoyed playing the set overall, but agree with Jakob in that it could be made a little less experimental.
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Re: Thanks and General Discussion

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Mon Jan 22, 2018 3:27 pm

nsb2 wrote:When I played the 2017 set at NASAT tryouts, I was sometimes able to third-line or fourth-line painting and classical music tossups with limited knowledge, but I tended to buzz one or two lines later in this year's set despite studying more.
So, if you want to say this year's set was harder, that's fine! That seems to be a general consensus, and I know Benji was pretty conservative with his cluing last year. But I'm not sure entirely what you're getting at here - are you saying that you weren't able to buzz early on things you had limited knowledge of this year, but you were last year? If you have limited knowledge and didn't get an early buzz, that doesn't really strike me as a problem. In fact, it almost suggests that the question did what it was supposed to do - early to early-mid buzzes to people with deep or specific knowledge, mid-late buzzes to people with limited knowledge, and late or giveaway buzzes for people who know even less.

If you're argument is "I'm good at music, I should be buzzing earlier" - I guess that sucks for you, but anecdotally I saw first, second, and third clue music buzzes at my site from players of a wide range of skills, and I've heard multiple stories of other folks making such buzzes and seen advanced stats suggesting the same. Maybe this set was harder than last year's and maybe my clue selection wasn't always the best, but it doesn't seem to have systematically denied people with knowledge early buzzes.

Also, there's also almost no clue overlap between this year's and last year's Ives tossups. This was deliberate.
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Re: Thanks and General Discussion

Post by 100% Clean Comedian Dan Nainan » Mon Jan 22, 2018 3:44 pm

Also haven't played all that much.

I see others felt this tournament was harder than last year's; that wasn't something I noticed while playing but I think I've improved a good bit since then.

I loved the (what felt to me like) large amount of historiography in this tournament, both "pure" and when shoehorned into questions as leadins. There were also things which I don't believe would be classified as historiography, but are the types of things that could be learned in a "historical methods" type class. It was nice to get a good amount of points from things I actually learn in history classes.

I liked the visual arts overall, but I have a complaint about one specific question which I'll note in the correct thread.

I felt the packets were inconsistent in their number of "hard" answerlines per packet. We're not a great team by any means, but regardless of opponent, we never had more than 2-3 tossups go dead in a round, except in one round where we had 7 (!!). I'm not totally sure which packet it was, [EDIT: It was Maryland A + McGill B + UIUC A]
Also, Cindy Sherman coming up was awesome, even if she is a bit hard as an answerline.
Last edited by 100% Clean Comedian Dan Nainan on Mon Jan 22, 2018 5:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Thanks and General Discussion

Post by nsb2 » Mon Jan 22, 2018 3:51 pm

Periplus of the Erythraean Sea wrote: So, if you want to say this year's set was harder, that's fine!
I wasn't intending to do any more than make an observation -- I didn't see any issue with the tossups or bonuses themselves. I wrote about my buzz points on last year's set as an example of how I felt the set had gotten harder, so my apologies if my words came across differently.
Periplus of the Erythraean Sea wrote:Also, there's also almost no clue overlap between this year's and last year's Ives tossups. This was deliberate.
I had no issue with the Ives tossup either (in fact, I rather liked it); my mention of the repeats was just another observation.
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Re: Thanks and General Discussion

Post by Benin Rebirth Party » Mon Jan 22, 2018 3:53 pm

Thanks to the editors and everyone else involved for a great set.

I thought the music in this set was great and much better than last year. I started with a sour taste because the way our mirror was scheduled the saw the two hardest music tossups in my opinion (Finland and two violins) in the first two rounds but everything else was standard for what I've seen at Regionals and maybe even a bit on the easy side. Similarly, the really hard bonuses in all categories felt to have all come early on in the day, but looking at round reports from other sites it seems we just lost to random chance.

I'm sorry to be that guy but I was wondering when the final A-values and compiled OphirStats will be up. Selfishly, we want to know if we will be able to take a look at those results before SCT.
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Re: Thanks and General Discussion

Post by t-bar » Mon Jan 22, 2018 4:04 pm

Aaron Manby (ironmaster) wrote:I'm sorry to be that guy but I was wondering when the final A-values and compiled OphirStats will be up. Selfishly, we want to know if we will be able to take a look at those results before SCT.
Final A-values will be released as soon as possible after the British Regionals site, which is next weekend. We are still waiting for full results from several sites from this weekend as well.
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Re: Thanks and General Discussion

Post by sharkcrossing » Mon Jan 22, 2018 4:25 pm

I actually didn't notice a super large difficulty jump for tossup answer lines. It felt like there were a few outliers (Cindy Sherman, Rebecca Solnit), but I think it's pretty normal and acceptable to have outlier answer lines as long as most are within the correct difficulty range. It may be that the clues were harder, but it felt like that was because many were different from previous tournaments. Rather than that being a problem, that felt like an invitation for me to "get good," which I may not have been particularly successful at doing. However, it did mean that I learned more while not feeling stranded by the difficulty. Some of these tossups were very creative and fun to play (body of Osiris, Basho's frog haiku). Similarly, I thought that the easy and hard parts of most bonuses were appropriate and didn't really feel stale. I will say that the medium parts sometimes felt brutal, particularly in the thought distribution. Sometimes it felt hard to distinguish medium from hard parts because of this.

All in all, though, this set was a lot of fun. Thanks to the editors!
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Re: Thanks and General Discussion

Post by west neg, new york » Mon Jan 22, 2018 10:55 pm

What was the distribution of subcategories for Other Arts? I only remember hearing 1/1 of both photography and (non-2010s) film at the Penn State mirror--were there more hiding in the unread packets?
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Re: Thanks and General Discussion

Post by Pablo Picasso 2 » Mon Jan 22, 2018 11:37 pm

Echoing the sentiment that while some answerlines lean a bit hard (Rebecca Solnit, Richard Posner, Nicolas Malebranche), a lot of answerlines are creative riffs on well-known topics (proofs of God by Aquinas, pure land, body of Osiris, jade, skeletons) or deeper cuts (modern art through fashion, Gentileschi family, Cindy Sherman). The bonuses do lean a bit harder - some bonuses have a noticeable leap from a fairly easy middle part to an extremely difficult hard part, and some packets have swings between strangely easy or hard bonuses (Kobo Abe as the easy part???). Those were in the minority though - the majority of the bonuses were fair and well thought out, and both entertaining and educational. This was a very well-produced set, and thank you to the editors for producing a highly enjoyable set.

sidenote: this is the second time this year Kabbalah has come up as a tossup answer - coincidence? Or part of a greater mystic conspiracy?
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Re: Thanks and General Discussion

Post by shmno » Tue Jan 23, 2018 9:42 am

AGoodMan wrote:*

Without commenting on difficulty, I thought the set was very well written. There weren't too many terrible typos, and the pronunciation guides were awesome and better to read than anything I've seen before.
Seconding this - pronunciation guides made questions a lot easier to read, especially with the Ophir packets putting them above the text.
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Re: Thanks and General Discussion

Post by Muriel Axon » Tue Jan 23, 2018 4:49 pm

I don't have any more specific comments to make without having the set in front of me, but I thought the philosophy and social science were very good. The social science, in particular, seemed to do an exemplary job of asking about things that modern scholars care about without overreaching on difficulty.
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Re: Thanks and General Discussion

Post by CPiGuy » Thu Jan 25, 2018 1:16 am

I really enjoyed this tournament, so thanks to the editors and everyone who submitted a packet. I thought the math was fun and interesting, and I liked the approach of questions connecting terms used in different fields of math.

I will say that I thought the hard parts of bonuses were often overly hard, to the point where the distribution of bonuses our team 30'd was not at all correlated with the subjects our team is good at. This seems to be borne out by the fact that all but the very best teams got less than 20 PPB.

Lastly, I was somewhat annoyed that seemingly none of our submitted packet was used, despite containing (at least what I thought were) some good ideas. I certainly don't think our packet was so bad as to throw out all 10/10. Maybe it was, but I thought ACF had made a decision to use at least one question from every submitted packet, or was that just for Fall?
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Re: Thanks and General Discussion

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Thu Jan 25, 2018 2:46 am

CPiGuy wrote:Lastly, I was somewhat annoyed that seemingly none of our submitted packet was used, despite containing (at least what I thought were) some good ideas. I certainly don't think our packet was so bad as to throw out all 10/10. Maybe it was, but I thought ACF had made a decision to use at least one question from every submitted packet, or was that just for Fall?
Dude, we got more than one hundred submissions and used content from forty-five teams to assemble this tournament! We used content from more teams at this tournament than any other Regionals has - and yet there was no way that any less than half the submissions would go unused!

A lot of which packets got used was determined by which packets were sent in first, and which packets were best suited to go with several combinations we had sorted out ahead of time based on matching assignments. While some packets were better than others, sometimes the tiebreaker was whether the best questions from your packet would "fit" subdistribution-wise with any of the others we had lying around. Even then, sometimes subdistributional quirks meant that literally no packets could fill the holes we had, or some questions were dead on arrival. For example, I don't recall getting any tossup submissions on Japanese or Korean history (forgive me if I'm forgetting you) but four (!) teams submitted archaeology tossups on Turkey (with almost all of them focused mostly on Catalhoyuk). So, to make sure I hit areas I wanted to hit, I had to kick someone's tossup somewhere, and the archaeology tossups of three teams would similarly go unused.

Tl;dr your packet not getting used doesn't necessarily mean it was bad! And if you think otherwise, please try editing your own packet-submission tournament :smile:
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Re: Thanks and General Discussion

Post by CPiGuy » Thu Jan 25, 2018 10:15 am

That all makes sense and I respect it. However there was a packet called "Michigan A + Berkeley B + MIT A", which led me to believe that our packet was to be used. And maybe one of our bonuses did get used but we didn't hear it due to dead tossups, or it was a tiebreaker. Either way, I think a policy of using at least one submission as a tossup or one of the first 15 bonuses would be reasonable.

Also, given the gargantuan number of submissions, has ACF considered relaxing the requirements to match those for Fall (two players with experience required before a team must write)?
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Re: Thanks and General Discussion

Post by t-bar » Thu Jan 25, 2018 10:46 am

CPiGuy wrote:That all makes sense and I respect it. However there was a packet called "Michigan A + Berkeley B + MIT A", which led me to believe that our packet was to be used.
This packet was built from the one written by what I believe is the "real" Michigan A team (Saul, Austin, and Noah, modulo Kenji) on behalf of the team that played Regionals as "Michigan B" (so the real Michigan C?). Apologies if the nomenclature was confusing.
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Re: Thanks and General Discussion

Post by CPiGuy » Thu Jan 25, 2018 2:21 pm

t-bar wrote:
CPiGuy wrote:That all makes sense and I respect it. However there was a packet called "Michigan A + Berkeley B + MIT A", which led me to believe that our packet was to be used.
This packet was built from the one written by what I believe is the "real" Michigan A team (Saul, Austin, and Noah, modulo Kenji) on behalf of the team that played Regionals as "Michigan B" (so the real Michigan C?). Apologies if the nomenclature was confusing.
That makes sense, especially since they got their packet in a lot earlier than ours. They submitted it as "Michigan B", though, and us as "A", since that's what we were playing under at the tournament -- this could have been potentially bad if our packet had been used and the TD said "well, Michigan A can surely play on B's packet, right?" We were given a bye for that round, so it apparently wasn't communicated to the TD that you'd made this change.
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Re: Thanks and General Discussion

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Thu Jan 25, 2018 3:02 pm

CPiGuy wrote:
t-bar wrote:
CPiGuy wrote:That all makes sense and I respect it. However there was a packet called "Michigan A + Berkeley B + MIT A", which led me to believe that our packet was to be used.
This packet was built from the one written by what I believe is the "real" Michigan A team (Saul, Austin, and Noah, modulo Kenji) on behalf of the team that played Regionals as "Michigan B" (so the real Michigan C?). Apologies if the nomenclature was confusing.
That makes sense, especially since they got their packet in a lot earlier than ours. They submitted it as "Michigan B", though, and us as "A", since that's what we were playing under at the tournament -- this could have been potentially bad if our packet had been used and the TD said "well, Michigan A can surely play on B's packet, right?" We were given a bye for that round, so it apparently wasn't communicated to the TD that you'd made this change.
Are you actively mining for things to complain about so you can stay on your soapbox? We listed the names of the submitting members in every single packet, and the only packet submitted by a Michigan team was labelled "Michigan A." It appears that...you got a bye, which you were going to get anyway? Are you that hung about about not getting to play on Saul DANKin's questions?

Also, there were definitely packets where there were no usable questions in my categories. It seems highly unreasonable to expect editors to use questions from everyone, when sometimes it takes more effort to make a submitted question usable than to write one from scratch (and in the latter case, you get to pick your own topic).
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Re: Thanks and General Discussion

Post by CPiGuy » Thu Jan 25, 2018 7:10 pm

Periplus of the Erythraean Sea wrote:
CPiGuy wrote:
t-bar wrote:
CPiGuy wrote:That all makes sense and I respect it. However there was a packet called "Michigan A + Berkeley B + MIT A", which led me to believe that our packet was to be used.
This packet was built from the one written by what I believe is the "real" Michigan A team (Saul, Austin, and Noah, modulo Kenji) on behalf of the team that played Regionals as "Michigan B" (so the real Michigan C?). Apologies if the nomenclature was confusing.
That makes sense, especially since they got their packet in a lot earlier than ours. They submitted it as "Michigan B", though, and us as "A", since that's what we were playing under at the tournament -- this could have been potentially bad if our packet had been used and the TD said "well, Michigan A can surely play on B's packet, right?" We were given a bye for that round, so it apparently wasn't communicated to the TD that you'd made this change.
Are you actively mining for things to complain about so you can stay on your soapbox? We listed the names of the submitting members in every single packet, and the only packet submitted by a Michigan team was labelled "Michigan A." It appears that...you got a bye, which you were going to get anyway? Are you that hung about about not getting to play on Saul DANKin's questions?

Also, there were definitely packets where there were no usable questions in my categories. It seems highly unreasonable to expect editors to use questions from everyone, when sometimes it takes more effort to make a submitted question usable than to write one from scratch (and in the latter case, you get to pick your own topic).
Whoa there. This is the feedback thread, and I'm offering what I think is reasonable feedback. Yeah, obviously this didn't actually cause any harm (although it would have given more scheduling flexibility by virtue of adding another packet blind to all teams). I was pointing out that it could have, and suggesting that in future, your packet labeling correspond to the rosters of the actual tournament being held on the packets, not the rosters for Nats or whatever. The thing about the bye was just to explain why I thought the TD wasn't made aware of the situation. Stop accusing me of soapboxing and actually take a moment to address the substance of my point rather than constructing some bizarre strawman about Saul.

I also honestly don't know what you're talking about when you say "the only packet submitted by a Michigan team" -- my team also submitted a packet labelled Michigan A which was not used, and the Regionals announcement thread said that "Michigan B"'s packet was submitted earlier (which is the one written by Saul et al.) If they also labelled their packet Michigan A, woops, but clearly someone on the editing team knew what was up.
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Re: Thanks and General Discussion

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Thu Jan 25, 2018 7:37 pm

Whoops, I left out a word - the only packet by a Michigan team that ended up getting used. In any case, the packet's authors were not in the field - we internally labeled the packet as "Michigan A" because that was less confusing to us, though we were aware of your team's plans for Regionals and we made sure to list out rosters just in case anything ended up getting screwed up. The scenario is indeed plausible, and our convenience was likely less important than preventing this scenario.

My larger point is - regardless of whether you think your feedback is reasonable, you exhibit a pattern of attempting to find "wrong" things in a way that makes it seem as though you're trolling for opportunities to be "correct" about pointless bullshit and look better than people who know a lot more about what they're talking about. To make this worse, you are often laughably incorrect when doing so - perhaps not in this particular instance about packet labeling, but certainly in other contexts. Whining about your packet not getting used and insisting that it was good - the best adjective I can find for this attitude is "petulant" especially in light of the fact that you submitted later than more than thirty other teams, and therefore had no reasonable expectation that you'd have any sort of "priority" over any of them. You did this while citing a rule that you thought existed which never did, and which would be a totally unreasonable burden on editors if it did exist. Rest assured, there were teams who wrote better packets than you (Penn A for example) whose work did not get used for similar reasons to what I have outlined above.

EDIT: To offer some substantive thoughts on the packet submission issue, I think that given current technological limitations, the half-packet scheme is the most reasonable way to get enough usable content without having to cobble together five, six, seven, or more teams to get a usable packet (say, if we had a quarter-packet scheme or something). This year, it allowed us to use some of the stronger content produced by a lot of up-and-coming teams to round out the "holes" in packets produced by more experienced teams. I think maybe 50% of the content we received was usable in some form, so if you produce 14-15 submitted packets with 3 teams each, you'll need around 90 half-packets (give or take). So, any eligibility loosening would have to be fairly light, since I think we got on the order of 120 packets and wouldn't want to sacrifice more than 25% of those. I personally like representing a lot of ideas from across the community in Regionals - I was sad when I couldn't find tossups that fit the bill, but finding a gem like JHU D's tossup on Qin Shi Huangdi's tomb and having a scheme that let me use that and some of their other ideas was really nice.

As a side point - I'm really impressed by the number of teams who did not have to submit, but chose to do so anyway. Good on you guys!
Last edited by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea on Thu Jan 25, 2018 8:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Thanks and General Discussion

Post by CPiGuy » Thu Jan 25, 2018 8:26 pm

Periplus of the Erythraean Sea wrote:Whoops, I left out a word - the only packet by a Michigan team that ended up getting used. In any case, the packet's authors were not in the field - we internally labeled the packet as "Michigan A" because that was less confusing to us, though we were aware of your team's plans for Regionals and we made sure to list out rosters just in case anything ended up getting screwed up. The scenario is indeed plausible, and our convenience was likely less important than preventing this scenario.
Hm, yeah that makes sense.
Periplus of the Erythraean Sea wrote:My larger point is - regardless of whether you think your feedback is reasonable, you exhibit a pattern of attempting to find "wrong" things in a way that makes it seem as though you're trolling for opportunities to be "correct" about pointless bullshit and look better than people who know a lot more about what they're talking about. To make this worse, you are often laughably incorrect when doing so - perhaps not in this particular instance about packet labeling, but certainly in other contexts.
I swear to god, "that could screw up the schedule" was pretty much the first thing that entered my mind. I was not, nor am I in the habit of, trolling for opportunities to be correct. You are indeed right that I am often incorrect about things, but I try hard to make it clear when I'm just "spitballing", so to speak, and not actually claiming authority or foreknowledge. There is a difference between "this tossup on [author who's actually easy but I'm just dumb] was probably hard" and "your packet labeling scheme was bad".
Periplus of the Erythraean Sea wrote:Whining about your packet not getting used and insisting that it was good - the best adjective I can find for this attitude is "petulant" especially in light of the fact that you submitted later than more than thirty other teams, and therefore had no reasonable expectation that you'd have any sort of "priority" over any of them. You did this while citing a rule that you thought existed which never did, and which would be a totally unreasonable on editors if it did exist. Rest assured, there were teams who wrote better packets than you (Penn A for example) whose work did not get used for similar reasons to what I have outlined above.
You're right, this was probably the wrong attitude to take, and I don't blame you for seeing it as petulant, so, sorry for that. It was informed by the fact that our team was (I thought) named on a packet, though. I also didn't realize the magnitude of submissions and assumed there were around 40, so I figured every team was listed on a packet somewhere regardless of whether any of their questions ended up being used. You'll notice that after you explained the facts, I had no further complaint about our packet's not being used (and in fact stated that I respected the decision), because I actually read what you wrote, understood it, and recognized that my objections were unfounded. Rest assured, I have no doubt that there were other packets of significantly better quality that were both submitted and unused.

having said that,
I thought ACF had made a decision to use at least one question from every submitted packet, or was that just for Fall?
is not an attempt to cite a rule, but rather an inquiry as to whether that rule exists. Question marks exist for a reason. I'm pretty sure that such a rule was at some point discussed on these forums with regard to Fall, even if it wasn't adopted.
Periplus of the Erythraean Sea wrote:EDIT: To offer some substantive thoughts on the packet submission issue, I think that given current technological limitations, the half-packet scheme is the most reasonable way to get enough usable content without having to cobble together five, six, seven, or more teams to get a usable packet (say, if we had a quarter-packet scheme or something). This year, it allowed us to use some of the stronger content produced by a lot of up-and-coming teams to round out the "holes" in packets produced by more experienced teams. I think maybe 50% of the content we received was usable in some form, so if you produce 14-15 submitted packets with 3 teams each, you'll need around 90 half-packets give or take. So, any eligibility loosening would have to be fairly light.

As a side point - I'm really impressed by the number of teams who did not have to submit, but chose to do so anyway. Good on you guys!
Hm, I won't attempt to analyze the math, but I will say that I'd guess that teams with only one experienced player on them are probably the most likely to submit bad questions, so I'm not sure you'd lose as much content from loosening the rules as you might think.
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Re: Thanks and General Discussion

Post by cornfused » Fri Jan 26, 2018 9:16 pm

CPiGuy wrote:I swear to god, "that could screw up the schedule" was pretty much the first thing that entered my mind.
I helped put together the schedule for the site where Michigan played. We were confused by the labeling of the Michigan teams. It turned out alright, but we were confused.
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Re: Thanks and General Discussion

Post by Victor Prieto » Sat Jan 27, 2018 1:56 am

CPiGuy wrote:I swear to god, "that could screw up the schedule" was pretty much the first thing that entered my mind.
As a TD who obsessively planned a mirror, this also occurred to me the moment I saw it.

Before the advanced statistics appear, I'll say that I think most tossup answerlines were just fine for this level. I think the tossups were full of middle clues that were out of reach for most of the field, and that very few teams were able to regularly (at least once per round) buzz before the 50% mark, which inflated the perceived difficulty of the set. Hopefully the data will show one way or the other.
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Re: Thanks and General Discussion

Post by ProfessorIanDuncan » Sun Feb 11, 2018 1:30 am

So I've seen a few posts saying that this year's Regionals was harder than usual. This puzzles me a bit, because I actually felt that Regs was actually slightly easier than normal this year. I don't plan on presenting anything more than an anecdotal opinion, so if the stats bear out that this year the tournament was in fact harder than usual then so be it.

First, I should clarify that I did not play Regionals in 2014 or 2016 and that I consider my experience in 2015 playing with Evan to be very different from these past couple of years because a) I had a different role on the team and b) over the course of 3 years I would like to think that I have either gotten a bit better or at the very least adapted more to the collegiate game. As a result, this anecdote by and large consists of comparing this year's tournament with last year's.

Now I generally have the opinion that ACF Regionals is the hardest of the so-called "regular difficulty" tournaments. Playing Penn Bowl or whatever iteration of Maryland or Yale's housewrite in practice always seemed easier than ACF Regionals. I would be surprised if statistics bear this out, but this in general has been my view. I mention this because it may very well color my perception of the difficulty at Regs this year.

The reason that this year's ACF Regionals felt easier than last year's is mostly in my opinion due to the bonuses. This year it felt that much less work went into getting the medium parts; the team didn't need to "dig deep" as often in order to pull the medium part. On the other hand last year, I remember a fair number of times feeling relieved at converting the easy part.

I'm curious if people felt that in particular it was the tossups this year that made the set harder compared to last year (or indeed previous years), as much of the discussion in the other thread about not enjoying the set derives from having to slog through long tossups that aren't getting converted early by anyone. Or did the bonuses also contribute to the tournament feeling harder this year, and my opinion is just wrong?
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Re: Thanks and General Discussion

Post by Theodore » Sun Feb 11, 2018 11:50 am

I felt the earlier rounds I played were hard, but some of the later rounds were easier than the average ACF Regionals.

One general thing I would like to say is that sometimes, common link tossups can be confusing and more difficult. I don't know the intention of the editors, but sometimes, people (including myself) write a common link tossup with the good intention that it will help make the tossup easier and more interesting. This is not always the case. I often see common link tossups as high risk, high reward: If executed well, they can be much better than if you had just written a non-common link tossup, but on the other hand, things can go wrong.

The ones that stand out off the top of my head were the valediction tossup and the decolonization tossup. They were confusing to listen to and often vague as to what they were asking for. Sometimes in a common link tossup, you know the specific thing being referred to, but don't know what to say as the answer. Yes, part of the fun of quiz games is that critical thinking of narrowing it down and brainstorming options, but there is a limit to this.

Sometimes, you just have to ask yourself: "Do I gain anything from making this tossup common link, as opposed to writing on something specific?"

To clarify, I'm not outraged, and even the two tossups I mentioned were not that bad. I would just like to say that common link tossups are something to be enjoyed in moderation. They can be beneficial or harmful, and should not be overused.
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Re: Thanks and General Discussion

Post by jmarvin_ » Mon Feb 12, 2018 6:27 pm

It's somewhat late, but here are my thoughts on the set:

1) Shoutouts to whichever player or editor read my post on religion and then wrote Talal Asad into the Geertz question. Asad's critique of Geertz is probably more academically relevant than Geertz's own work at this point, to stretch trends somewhat. (and if my post had nothing to do with it, all the more am I impressed!)

2) On that note, I'm very glad abut how real this set tended to be. I made some kind of comment about this in the room in which Auroni was reading and he said "that was the point" or something to that effect, and I'm very glad to say I think it succeeded. More than any other regular difficulty tournament I have played, I got the sense that the questions rewarded "people who know things" more than "people who know quizbowl." There were so many amazing clues in this tournament that I had never seen in quizbowl before that were fantastic and knowable to people who like reading about things.

3) On that point, I think the canon expansion was good and usually justified. Contrary to Jon Suh, against whom I played the round he mentioned where 4 tossups went unanswered, I thought everything in this tournament besides perhaps the Middletown tossup* was justified and really important. Jon Suh neglected to mention my team's exasperation after I negged us out of Cindy Sherman despite the fact that we had talked about her for a solid half hour on the car ride to the tournament, not because she would be relevant to quizbowl, but because she is real and interesting to art enthusiasts! Of course the creator of the third most expensive photograph ever sold at an auction, whose work is prominently displayed at the Art Institute of Chicago among other world-class museums, whose work is theoretically relevant to art historians and feminist / gender-studies thinkers, should be asked about at regular difficulty! The only argument against Cindy Sherman is that she is not already canon. If we are not terribly pushing the canon multiple times a round I don't think there's a serious problem with the set. Likewise Rebecca Solnit is totally real, stuff like The Concept of Mind or Al-Ghazali likewise very real despite difficulty as perceived within quizbowl, and so forth. I was pleased to see so many new and legitimately interesting things in a tournament that I also didn't feel overwhelmed by or out of my depth in.

4) The above being said, I did think there were some issues. Namely, I thought some of the answerlines were more convoluted than they needed to be, introducing artificial difficulty. The "houses" tossup would have been much better as a tossup about Gaudi or Barcelona, and I was confused out of my mind trying to come up with what level of answer it was looking for until the end despite knowing what the clues were about from the second or third clue. Likewise, I don't recall exactly why, but the "evolution" tossup confused me to the point that I couldn't answer it until much later than I knew the clues. Perhaps this is just a case of me playing badly and being tired, but nonetheless I think quizbowl works best as a game if one can buzz confidently when one knows what a clue is talking about, and doesn't have to waste time and effort trying to figure out what the question is looking for as an answer-type.

5) This was a good tournament and I'm glad I went. I think the discussion going on in the other thread about lead-ins (and perhaps I should re-post this comment there) is forgetting a factor, which is that often when one knows the first line clue, there is a delay of processing / recall before one buzzes, and thus one buzzes in at the second line. I looked at my own early buzzes in the stats and saw that, for each of them which was past the 25% mark, almost all of them were because I knew the first clue and had to take a moment to dredge it out of the archives and make sure I really just heard what I heard, as it were. I don't think there is anything wrong with the format of ACF as it stands, but being a player who is neither new to the game nor particularly bad at it I can't speak for the experience of players who had a harder time. However, I did play my fair share of nearly impotent regular difficulty games as a freshman (cf 2014 PADAWAN, DEES, and Penn Bowl) and I thought those experiences were worthwhile for all the learning and exposure it brought. After starting to get into real quizbowl late in high school and never being particularly good, jumping into regular difficulty was difficult but exciting, worth every early buzz as infrequently as they may've come. I think the complaint that it's too hard or long for new people is really a complaint that it's too hard for new people who don't want to struggle with something challenging for some time, and to that I join the chorus of people who say that ACF Fall and NAQT already exist for this reason.

6) Thanks again to all the editors for making this very cool tournament which I hope indicates the trajectory for further ACF Regionals.

* If anyone in sociology wants to come here and tell me that the Middletown Studies are a landmark text that everyone should know, I'd be glad to admit it. Actually important and interesting things I've never heard of are what quizbowl is all about!
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Re: Thanks and General Discussion

Post by vengefulsweatermensch » Mon Feb 12, 2018 7:13 pm

jmarvin_ wrote: * If anyone in sociology wants to come here and tell me that the Middletown Studies are a landmark text that everyone should know, I'd be glad to admit it. Actually important and interesting things I've never heard of are what quizbowl is all about!
I'm in American Studies, not sociology, but yes they are important and worth-knowing.
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Re: Thanks and General Discussion

Post by AGoodMan » Mon Feb 12, 2018 10:15 pm

What I originally wrote:*These sentiments are those of a sophomore with limited college reg-level exposure.

I thought overall the tossups of this set were more difficult than last year's. One packet that included Charles Bukowski as an answerline stuck out to me as a particular difficult round (4 tossups went dead). Overall I had a good experience though, and am looking forward to seeing the OphirStats when they are released.
jmarvin_ wrote: 3) On that point, I think the canon expansion was good and usually justified. Contrary to Jon Suh, against whom I played the round he mentioned where 4 tossups went unanswered, I thought everything in this tournament besides perhaps the Middletown tossup* was justified and really important. Jon Suh neglected to mention...
So I want to clarify that my original post focused on the perceived difficulty of the Bukowski/Sherman packet (Northwestern A + Maryland B + Oklahoma A), not whether the packet's questions were justifiable or important - I'm sure they are both! On the contrary, I actually expressed appreciation for questions from the set ("third", etc.)
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Re: Thanks and General Discussion

Post by jmarvin_ » Mon Feb 12, 2018 10:27 pm

vengefulsweatermensch wrote:I'm in American Studies, not sociology, but yes they are important and worth-knowing.
Glad to hear it; thanks for responding! Another thing on the already-too-long reading list.
AGoodMan wrote:So I want to clarify that my original post focused on the perceived difficulty of the Bukowski/Sherman packet (Northwestern A + Maryland B + Oklahoma A), not whether the packet's questions were justifiable or important - I'm sure they are both! On the contrary, I actually expressed appreciation for questions from the set ("third", etc.)
I want to apologize for mischaracterizing your post. I read it when you first posted it and (perhaps inadvisably) didn't reread the thread before posting today, and so I apologize for disagreeing with a distorted memory as if it were your actual thoughts, the true substance of which I totally agree with - that packet was harder than the others!

In any case, minus the part where I strawman Jon Suh, my comment remains; I thought all the hard stuff was good.
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Re: Thanks and General Discussion

Post by Cheynem » Mon Feb 12, 2018 11:05 pm

I think MIddletown is important (although more in a historical, foundational text thing than something I sincerely see people analyze a lot nowadays), but I would agree that's a very hard tossup for Regionals.
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