What I think is wrong with the new ACF Fall format

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minusfive
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What I think is wrong with the new ACF Fall format

Post by minusfive » Fri Jun 27, 2014 10:51 am

I actually posted directing people here first, so I'll be brief (so no one gets here and doesn't see it).

The new ACF Fall format (whereby only half-packets are required for a lesser discount) has some, in my opinion, glaring problems. This is not an attempt to impugn the people behind what I consider to be a good-faith attempt to reform the system, but I feel it needs to be said.

1) Half-packets will not help address questions not being used
Bad half-packets will be ignored/minimalized just the same as (in the past, my) bad packets. Halving the number of questions won't make more of them able to be saved from any given team. I remember with fondness a Minnesota Open a few years back, when editor Rob Carson (and undoubtedly others; Andrew Hart?) changed all of my questions into better ones with the same answer line. That was awesome, but is very time-consuming. Posting all the questions was suggested last year, and with a caveat emptor, that might be cool.

2) It's likely not to be used
$20 for a half-pack, or $-50 for a full pack. Most teams are not that lazy. If one made a no-submission option, as I argued last year, many more teams that have an aversion to writing would come (in Canada at least).

3) It won't help writers
ACF Fall is a more relaxed tournament which encourages people to write. Obviously, reducing the number of questions people need to write will run counter to this. But also, assume a half-pack is requested from a team with a well-known R/M/P specialist. If the pack requested leans heavily in that direction, lesser known writers specializing in other subjects on that team (esp. freshman) won't get their writing opportunity. Which takes us back to the "optional" full packet.

4) Complications
If the editors ask me for a science question (above my usual schtick of invasive species, which they never use), and it is predictably bad, they will have to ask someone else for a science question. I am planning on writing a full pack (brush up on invasive species, everyone!) but the logistics of this will be a headache.

In sum, I believe the really smart people at ACF can do better than this laudable first attempt.

EDIT: Just clarified one of my arguments.
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Re: What I think is wrong with the new ACF Fall format

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Fri Jun 27, 2014 11:41 am

DISCLAIMER: I'm not speaking for ACF in this post. As an ACF member, I initially opposed the new half-packet requirement and wanted to keep the full packet requirement, but was convinced to support the new system.

With that out of the way, here is my personal opinion:

Writing packets is an essential part of being a college quizbowl player. College quizbowl would literally cease to exist if players did not write packets. For a long time - at least since the middle of the last decade - ACF Fall has not needed anywhere close to all the packets that were submitted. The purpose of forcing people to write ACF Fall packets has not been to get a sufficient number of questions for use in the tournament, it has been to get people into the habit of writing questions. (Edit: this is not stated ACF policy, merely my personal opinion about the de facto purpose of such requirements)

To my ears, a new team saying "I won't want to write packets for ACF Fall because they're unused" is like a fat man saying "I don't want to run on a treadmill because it doesn't go anywhere". Well, my response is to deal with it because it's for your own good, and it's good for society.
Last edited by Skepticism and Animal Feed on Fri Jun 27, 2014 2:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What I think is wrong with the new ACF Fall format

Post by Gautam » Fri Jun 27, 2014 2:24 pm

minusfive wrote:I actually posted directing people here first, so I'll be brief (so no one gets here and doesn't see it).
I'll speak on behalf of ACF on this one - I came up with some of the ideas and sought input from the ACF folks on the rest.
1) Half-packets will not help address questions not being used
Bad half-packets will be ignored/minimalized just the same as (in the past, my) bad packets. Halving the number of questions won't make more of them able to be saved from any given team. I remember with fondness a Minnesota Open a few years back, when editor Rob Carson (and undoubtedly others; Andrew Hart?) changed all of my questions into better ones with the same answer line. That was awesome, but is very time-consuming. Posting all the questions was suggested last year, and with a caveat emptor, that might be cool.
We have historically had to throw out a lot of questions simply because they were repeats. We are hoping that this won't be as big a problem this year. From my experience, many decent submissions that simply get submitted late aren't looked at.
2) It's likely not to be used
$20 for a half-pack, or $-50 for a full pack. Most teams are not that lazy. If one made a no-submission option, as I argued last year, many more teams that have an aversion to writing would come (in Canada at least).
I don't think any of the half-packet submission has been a marketing tool to attract new teams. I did not bring it up when I had the discussions with others in ACF; so far, I have only had in mind the folks who for the last few years have been disappointed with their submissions not making it in.
3) It won't help writers
ACF Fall is a more relaxed tournament which encourages people to write. Obviously, reducing the number of questions people need to write will run counter to this. But also, assume a half-pack is requested from a team with a well-known R/M/P specialist. If the pack requested leans heavily in that direction, lesser known writers specializing in other subjects on that team (esp. freshman) won't get their writing opportunity. Which takes us back to the "optional" full packet.
The assumption is invalid I think. THe packets are split roughly evenly, with several distributions to ensure that any deviations are evened out. Eg. if we get 68 half packet submissions, we expect those to correspond to roughly 34 full packets. Every team should be able to write at least one question in every category of the ACF distribution.
4) Complications
If the editors ask me for a science question (above my usual schtick of invasive species, which they never use), and it is predictably bad, they will have to ask someone else for a science question. I am planning on writing a full pack (brush up on invasive species, everyone!) but the logistics of this will be a headache.
I'm not sure I follow at all. Again, I think this assumes a scheme for distribution assignments which is not what we envision. We are okay with taking on the bigger burden of assigning distributions to teams, but we think this will not present a logistical headache.
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Re: What I think is wrong with the new ACF Fall format

Post by Aaron's Rod » Sat Jun 28, 2014 7:22 pm

I know it's TBD, but I'm very curious to hear more about how the "editors will tell you what distribution your submissions should adhere to" will work. I gather that there just be a few stock half-distributions that people are assigned, presumably at random?
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Re: What I think is wrong with the new ACF Fall format

Post by Gautam » Mon Jun 30, 2014 4:06 pm

damisch wrote:I know it's TBD, but I'm very curious to hear more about how the "editors will tell you what distribution your submissions should adhere to" will work. I gather that there just be a few stock half-distributions that people are assigned, presumably at random?
Basically what you said, but I'll try to elaborate on it by EOD today.

EDIT:

Sorry I couldn't get to it yesterday. There's now an update. From the announcement thread:
I wrote:FAQs:

How does packet submission work with the new half-packet requirements?
Please reference the original announcement (first post in this thread) and this flowchart for the packet-submission guidelines.

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