Technophobia Discussion or Monologue, Really

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Technophobia Discussion or Monologue, Really

Postby canaanbananarama » Mon Oct 31, 2005 2:07 pm

I suppose after a rather lackluster experience at WIT, I could expect no better from a tournament entirely run and edited by a team that submitted one of the poorer packets to that tournament. Unsurprisingly, I was right.

Unfortunately, on top of that, there were major logistical problems and errors that could easily have been avoided. Stuff that even somebody with no ability as a writer/editor could easily take care of.

1. According to one Caltech staffer, the printing problem which required teams to wait almost a half hour to start the tournament was a normal occurrence in quiz bowl. Garbage. The tournament began with the tournament director rushing off to a library to print out packets while, ominously, the tournament editor, upon whom it was presumably incumbent to complete was task, was completely AWOL and somehow not in touch with any members of the staff. You can throw whatever lame, dumb excuse you want in my face, but this is inexcusable. Drop whatever final touch-ups or editing you have to do and make sure that at least the few rounds of the tournament are in the hands of the moderator at the proper time. As for the frequency of this, I really think only two or three tournaments I’ve ever been to have had this problem.
2. As regards the packets, they were a similar mix to the WIT packets, some good (none of which were submitted by current West Coast quizbowl players), some average (a couple of the West Coast packets), and terrible (the majority of the WC packets). More discussion will not follow, (Rutgers-Newark, why did you decide to mirror this? More on that later.) but one egregious problem with packet selection bears noting. There seemed to be a total of 13 packets, eight of which were WC, four of which were freelance, and one of which was the mirror host packet. For some reason, Caltech’s staff seemed to have the intent of getting rid of the playoffs (as listed on the schedule) based on time concerns created primarily by their own blunders. While getting rid of the playoffs was stupid enough, the Caltech tournament director did not use the opportunity to replace one of the terrible round robin packets with one of the two playoff packets. When asked about this, the tournament director claimed that one of the two packets was going to be unused. His argument seemed to be that due to the “excessive” length of the tossups of said freelance packet, that it was equally and perhaps more inferior to the worst packets at Technophobia. This was an absolutely absurd notion-no matter what one’s opinion on the difficulty and length of the writer’s questions, to equate it with some of the packets that I heard is ridiculous. As for the other “playoff” packet, part of it was read to the eventual second-place team, under the assumption that it would not be used in future rounds. More on this debacle in the next point.
3. One of the first things you should look for in tournament editing is that every packet is complete. A 20/18 packet, as was one packet in Technophobia, is an absolute joke. This resulted in all kinds of odd situations. One UCLA team, as was mentioned before, was read part of (1 tossup, 5 bonuses) what was originally and would eventually become (in a lessened form) one of the playoff packets. The other UCLA team played its last two bonuses on a random WIT 2004 packet (this was the only mutually satisfactory resolution to this problem). Lord knows what happened in the other three rooms in which this packet (which, as stated above, could have been replaced from the outset by a superior freelance packet) was read.
4. When your tournament ends in a tie, please act like you vaguely care about the resolution. While it may have been in some ways mutually agreeable to conduct the Technophobia final in a UCLA practice (the two UCLA teams were tied for first at 8-2) or better yet, to never conduct the final and give Technophobia the same mark of shame as the 2002 MLB All-Star Game, tournament staffers should want to end the tournament with the appropriate outcome: a team finishes first, and the defeated team finishes second. Certain Caltech staffers seemed quite anxious to get the hell out of the tournament, and while to a certain extent, I should take some of the blame for this, as the Technophobia final re-location was my sarcastic idea in the first place, the tournament director and underlings should take every pains to make sure that a proper resolution at the proper time is found. The playoffs ended up happening largely due to the efforts of a former Caltech quizbowl player who found the idea of Technophobia ending, for the time being, in a tie rightly unacceptable. The final was one of the highlights of the tournament, and it’s a shame that some at Caltech were so intent on it not happening. I understand that there was some bitterness on the part of Caltech folks about the tournament going off poorly, but you don’t give up on your tournament, especially when you’re expecting teams to still pay you a hundred dollars for your efforts.
5. A few notes on etiquette that need to be dealt with: when you get crummy prizes for a tournament, please don’t tell us that the noticeably used prizes came from classes you took two years ago. I’m not your anthromorphized trash can. At least have the decency to get reasonably varied prizes, if not reasonably clean looking prizes. I shouldn’t be able to tell the entire history of your undergraduate work in the humanities by the prize selection, especially when it’s dreadful subjects like medieval historiography. Also, have a main tournament room. Don’t force teams to stand outside in the morning cold or huddled outside in a hall to hear stats and receive prizes. I should correct myself, because to my knowledge, there was a tournament room. It was just used as a private bunker for Caltech staff into which no players were allowed for more than brief spells. Your tournament should not make me feel like 1970’s Albanian peasant. You’re running a crummy tournament, not reliving the last days of Hitler; there’s no reason you need to create a completely off-limits to sulk, hide, or whatever the heck was done in the forbidden room.

Some advice which will probably re-iterate a lot of the points made about WIT, but who cares:
If you are running a West Coast packet submission tournament and you do not have a packet swap lined up, cancel it. As a region, the West Coast is clearly incapable of running an entirely or mainly autonomous tournament, and WIT and Technophobia have made that obvious. I don’t know of anybody currently on the West Coast circuit who is personally capable of running such an operation to any degree of success, and that isn’t going to change this year. It’s an unfortunate thing, but if you can’t get at least six packets from outside sources, your tournament is probably going to suck. This goes for any tournament by any club-when was the last time that a successful majority packet submission tournament on the West Coast was orchestrated by anybody save Seth Teitler? Other than the one exception listed above, I don’t think it’s happened in my playing career. Don’t run your tournament if you can’t get packets. While some would probably argue that this is a crutch, it sure as hell is. And we need that crutch to walk or we collapse.

If you are thinking of running an East Coast mirror and you look at a West Coast-only packet submission tournament, run away from it. Don’t mirror it. Swap packets with it, sure. But it sure does seem ridiculous to inflict this on others.

Sorry for the absurd length of this post, but I’m one of the few West Coast players who actually both attended this tournament and reads this board-the field was quite poor (no Northern California teams). Hopefully, there is only a very limited amount of personal invective towards Caltech and it should be taken as a poor, inept attempt at constructive criticism by a generally temperamental person with very little tact. Part of the reason why this pisses me off is that I held Technophobia in a high esteem that never really applied to a lot of the other garbage West Coast tournaments. It used to be a good, enjoyable, well-attended tournament and I urge Caltech’s players to do their utmost to return it to its former status, by whatever Jordan Boyd-Graber-kidnapping means are necessary.

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Re: Technophobia Discussion or Monologue, Really

Postby Matt Weiner » Mon Oct 31, 2005 2:25 pm

His argument seemed to be that due to the “excessive” length of the tossups of said freelance packet, that it was equally and perhaps more inferior to the worst packets at Technophobia. This was an absolutely absurd notion-no matter what one’s opinion on the difficulty and length of the writer’s questions, to equate it with some of the packets that I heard is ridiculous.


To take this a little further: It should be astoundingly clear from past mathematical demonstrations that question length has a negligible effect on tournament length. Anyone who cites tournament time concerns as his reason for preferring shorter questions is ill-informed or disingenuous, and anyone who equates long questions with bad questions is simply not paying attention.
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My own Technophobia rant ...

Postby ezubaric » Mon Oct 31, 2005 3:40 pm

Although very flattered by the first post, let me add my own observations as an admittedly partial observer. Technophobia's distribution has become the distribution I would most like to play on, and I was very happy to finally have a chance to play on Technophobia packets.

I think there are two issues here, and I think it's best to separate them. First, the questions themselves were good. The worst packet at Technophobia was still a decent packet, and didn't come close to matching the suckage of certain packets at the acclaimed Terrapin tournament. Irene showed me the initially submitted packets, and I can certainly vouch for the hard work and effort that she put into making the packets what they are. I've suggested posting the initial packets and the final versions as proof of this once the Newark mirror is over.

The major snafu was the UCI packet, which was short on questions. If people would stop using word to write packets and trusting its numbering system and used something reasonable like LaTeX or HTML, this would not be a problem. Even so, these things happen, and all of the other packets had extra questions, so there was an easy fix ... this brings us to the second issue, where I think the tournament had major problems.

The tournament direction itself was horrendous. There is no reason not to have printed packets at least for the first few rounds. If you still don't have the first round packet by midnight the day before, you shouldn't make that the first round packet. And, if you have packets on your computer while everybody is just standing around waiting for the tournament to start, you don't just stand there and do nothing. I tried my best to get Noah and Parag to print the questions or distribute them to laptops so we could get started ... begging for USB keys and whatnot, but their response was to just wait for Irene, who was unreachable for some reason, to save the day.

Then, when the UCI packet snafu happened, the moderators who talked to Irene were told to read extra questions from previous rounds, which I think was the right decision. Moderators who talked to Parag and Noah (who did not consult with Irene, who knew exactly what was in every packet) were told to read one of the playoff packets, thus eliminating the ability to decide ties and wasting the work of someone (still jet-lagged from a 5 AM flight from Newark the day before) who put out an additional packet when it turned out the tournament didn't have enough packets for playoffs.

The other aspect that was unbelievable was that they didn't know who was going to come to the tournament. How is it that UCLA was down for three teams when they only had two and Stanford was turned away because there weren't enough slots? Stanford was willing to come, give you money, and substantially elevate the strength of the field. I'm perhaps too bitter about this because it forced Maribeth and I to both play solo instead of playing together.

Finally, the stuff about the playoffs. If you advertise playoffs, you have them. Enough said. Anything else is unfair. It wasn't my tournament, but I think that there should have been playoffs for all teams (as was originally scheduled). Ten rounds of play for one tournament is a little light, in my opinion.

I would also like to salute Jerry for his packet, which was another finals packet. I loved the questions in the packet, and my biggest disappointment of the day was not in how the tournament was run but for the awesome packet that I didn't get to play on. It was certainly the best packet that I've heard this year, and I think I might have even annoyed the two long-suffering UCLA teams who had to put up with me groaning in misery at having to officiate instead of playing on the packet. Technophobia has always tried to have a very nice prize for the best packet (what ever happened to that tradition ... ? ), and Jerry should certainly get something for a marvelous packet and helping out a west coast tournament.

But as heartwrenching as it was to watch Technophobia (which I've grown rather attached to) struggle through the day, I still had fun. It was great to see the West Coast teams, and I still had fun. Technophobia can and will be a good tournament again. There are plenty of motivated, talented young players at Caltech who can take up the torch.

-Jordan "I very happy at Princeton, thank you" Boyd-Graber

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Postby cvdwightw » Mon Oct 31, 2005 4:31 pm

I will take the blame for UCLA only having two teams. I was coordinating teams, we had significant freshman interest, only to have almost all of them cancel at the last minute. I should have told Irene about this once I realized we would only have eight players.

I was further disappointed that despite submitting our packet (in both Word and HTML format) before the first deadline, there seemed to be almost no editing done save cutting out some repeats and changing some underlining. I even submitted revisions that took care of some, but not all, factual errors that my team found when we looked at our completed packet. At least one of those was still in the packet. I don't know what the excuse for this was, but I would be quite surprised if they got more than 3 or 4 packets before the first deadline. I understand that some of the packets needed heavier editing than ours, but I'm guessing that several of those showed up in the last couple of weeks, as is tradition with the West Coast circuit.

Furthermore, one of the UCI players who submitted that packet had the audacity to claim: "If you guys hadn't destroyed my packet for no apparent reason..." I felt this was insulting to the people who at least attempted to give it a sense of decency.

The Technophobia prize for best packet was voted to Seth, whose packet actually was read during the last non-playoff round, by the 6 or so teams that actually stuck around. This was, quite simply, the best packet read during those eleven rounds.

The confusion over getting "lost scoresheets" that would not have determined the top teams (both UCLA teams knew exactly the situation going in to the last round) resulted in a 15-minute delay, during which time we could have played most of a final on one of the two remaining (mostly unseen) packets. One scoresheet still appears to be missing, from the look of the final statistics. Whatever playoffs were initially listed on the schedule made no sense (e.g. A vs B round 12, A vs J round 13).

In addition, well after packets finally arrived, the instructions were to read twenty questions, not the advertised twenty-two. I have an idea that some of this was to reduce repeats, but entire question repeats still nevertheless showed up. This is the second straight tournament in which a packet has led to some teams not playing even twenty tossups in one round. If you advertise 22 tossups, play 22 tossups.

Finally, the questions were not, as Jordan said, "good," but they were nevertheless at least decent. They were not as bad as Charles claimed, but they were not "good." The more egregious error was that it seemed at several different times that the staff, frankly, had no idea what was going on.

Enough ranting for now, and maybe I'll temper this later.

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Re: Technophobia Discussion or Monologue, Really

Postby grapesmoker » Mon Oct 31, 2005 5:07 pm

[quote:06c7471881=\"canaanbananarama\"]When asked about this, the tournament director claimed that one of the two packets was going to be unused. His argument seemed to be that due to the “excessive” length of the tossups of said freelance packet, that it was equally and perhaps more inferior to the worst packets at Technophobia. This was an absolutely absurd notion-no matter what one’s opinion on the difficulty and length of the writer’s questions, to equate it with some of the packets that I heard is ridiculous. As for the other “playoff” packet, part of it was read to the eventual second-place team, under the assumption that it would not be used in future rounds. More on this debacle in the next point.[/quote:06c7471881]

I hope my packet did get read, although the questions in it were a mite long. Judging by Jordan\'s post, I guess it did, though...

[quote:06c7471881]This goes for any tournament by any club-when was the last time that a successful majority packet submission tournament on the West Coast was orchestrated by anybody save Seth Teitler? Other than the one exception listed above, I don’t think it’s happened in my playing career. Don’t run your tournament if you can’t get packets. While some would probably argue that this is a crutch, it sure as hell is. And we need that crutch to walk or we collapse.[/quote:06c7471881]

Charles, you weren\'t here last year, so you didn\'t play at BLaST II, which I ran. Although there hasn\'t been any public commentary about it, I\'d like to believe that, in the absence of explicit criticism, that tournament could be considered successful. People around the country put a lot of effort into it, and even though we had some logistical problems in the beginning, once we got off the ground we delivered everything we promised. Of course, if people want to talk about that tournament, I\'d love to hear some feedback, but I feel we were mostly successful last year.

[quote:06c7471881]If you are thinking of running an East Coast mirror and you look at a West Coast-only packet submission tournament, run away from it. Don’t mirror it. Swap packets with it, sure. But it sure does seem ridiculous to inflict this on others. [/quote:06c7471881]

This makes me very sad, especially since I\'ve already been to one mirror of a West Coast tournament that wasn\'t as good as I\'d hoped. Can anyone from Rutgers-Newark take a look at this and maybe see if they can do anything about the packet quality or the logistical issues? I realize it\'s not their job to do this, but I, for one, was really looking forward to playing in their mirror.

I don\'t want to go so far as to discourage people from mirroring tournaments, but there has to be some level of quality control at work here, on both sides. If you are planning a mirror, please, contribute packets. I realize that a packet contribution does not in any way negate incompetence on the other end, but contributing at least two or three packets definitely helps alleviate question shortages. Of course, the mirror site has to be told, explicitly, that packets are required of them. That responsibility devolves onto the original tournament site. It\'s good that Rutgers submitted a packet, but a couple more would have made enough for a playoff round.

It saddens me to see these issues pop up on the West Coast like this. In the past, I have enjoyed both WIT and Technophobia very much; they were some of my favorite tournaments. However, I think one of the things that\'s getting left out of this discussion is the responsibility of the teams submitting the packets to actually get them in and write quality questions. It takes an insane amount of editing to transform crappy packets into usable ones; usually, it means rewriting the entire packet. About two weeks before the event, Irene contacted myself, Seth, and a couple of other people asking for freelance packets, which some of us contributed. I think you have to be in quite a desperate situation to make that kind of request, and partially the blame has to be laid at the feet of teams that submit their crappy packets late.

I thank Jordan for the (surely excessive) praise and I\'m glad that someone liked my packet. I was happy to help out with a West Coast tournament, and I\'ll gladly do so again, but it\'s not right to have to rely on outside support to have a good tournament. Teams on the West Coast really need to step up and correct the problems that have plagued events this year. It has been atypical, and in the past, those events have been far higher in quality than they were this year. Let\'s all hope that it\'s a blip in form rather than a persistent problem.
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Postby Captain Sinico » Mon Oct 31, 2005 5:22 pm

A couple observations:

1. As someone editing a tournament as we speak, I'll tell you that the phenomenon of people not being able to write (or read, apparently...) is not unique to the West Coast. It's almost like there should be some systematic reason people can't write anymore. What could is be, guys?!

2. Does anyone else find that, in tournaments where packet submission exemptions are offered, the teams requesting exemptions are much, much more likely to drop (and drop at the last minute; or just not show up?) Thus far, of the 7 teams I've had drop from packet submission tournaments I’ve run, 6 were submission-exempt (in fairness to the submitting team, their entry was explicitly tenuous from the beginning and they dropped over a month before the event.) Of the 4 that dropped after the expiration of the period when they were technically allowed to, or simply didn't show up the day of, 4 were submission-exempt. This is crap and I'm sick of it.

Therefore, for these reasons and others, I urge anyone running a tournament to run a packet submission tournament that provides clear and realistic (for anyone capable of reading) guidelines for what's acceptable in a packet, and rigorous deadlines for submitting that packet that they plan on enforcing. I further hope that people will hold submitting teams to those guidelines and deadlines, and return unacceptable packets to be re-written; I don't see how the problems we currently have can be solved otherwise, unless you like playing every tournament on NAQT high school questions, (to indulge in a slight redundancy) crap, or packets by the small and decreasing fraction of teams currently capable of producing acceptable questions. I further think that offering packet submission exemptions for almost any reason can do nothing but harm your tournament and the circuit in both the short and long terms; I will never do so again and I hope every other prospective tournament director will do the same.

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Postby grapesmoker » Mon Oct 31, 2005 7:42 pm

canaanbananarama wrote:freelance packet not being used


I missed this in my first reading, but let me say the following:

A freelance packet is a gift. It represents a significant chunk of time that the person who wrote the packet invested in it, in my case, roughly two days, which I could have spent on other things. The only possible situation in which you can not use a freelance packet is if it's so bad that it's just not acceptable. Otherwise, especially if you were the party soliciting the packet in the first place, the action of not using a freelance packet is a spit in the face of the person who wrote it.
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Re: Technophobia Discussion or Monologue, Really

Postby cvdwightw » Mon Oct 31, 2005 7:50 pm

grapesmoker wrote:Charles, you weren't here last year, so you didn't play at BLaST II, which I ran. Although there hasn't been any public commentary about it, I'd like to believe that, in the absence of explicit criticism, that tournament could be considered successful. People around the country put a lot of effort into it, and even though we had some logistical problems in the beginning, once we got off the ground we delivered everything we promised.


I think you're missing Charles's point. BLaST II was indeed an excellent tournament, with no real clunkers and only a couple of packets I didn't really like. However, as you yourself state, people around the country put a lot of effort into it. WIT last year, while not quite as good as BLaST, packet-swapped with somewhere in the Midwest (Michigan?), Technophobia two years ago got several packets from either a mirror or packet swap with Iowa State, and Aztlan Cup, while perhaps not quite as successful as the above-mentioned examples, was able to get enough from Swarthmore and freelancers to run a 15-round tournament and have packets left over. The common denominator in these events was that a significant amount of packets came from teams and individuals that did not attend the West Coast tournament.

The last good West Coast tournament I can remember in which almost every single packet came from a team attending THAT particular tournament (not a mirror or packet-swap event) was BLaST I, where almost every (if not every) packet came from a participating team, and was edited mostly by Seth. Charles's point (and one that I find myself agreeing more and more with) is that, there currently is no one on the West Coast willing and able to run a decent packet submission tournament where the majority of the packets and editing come from West Coast teams.
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Postby ezubaric » Mon Oct 31, 2005 7:55 pm

[quote:b1222826d9=\"grapesmoker\"][quote:b1222826d9=\"canaanbananarama\"]While getting rid of the playoffs was stupid enough, the Caltech tournament director did not use the opportunity to replace one of the terrible round robin packets with one of the two playoff packets. When asked about this, the tournament director claimed that one of the two packets was going to be unused. His argument seemed to be that due to the “excessive” length of the tossups of said freelance packet, that it was equally and perhaps more inferior to the worst packets at Technophobia.[/quote:b1222826d9]

Otherwise, especially if you were the party soliciting the packet in the first place, the action of not using a freelance packet is a spit in the face of the person who wrote it.[/quote:b1222826d9]

Exactly. This is why I was also very pissed off that my freelance packet (likewise written over the space of about two days) was partially used as backfill and was then going to be thrown away. This is why I lobbied very hard for the playoffs to happen, and why I am glad sense prevailed and our packets were used.
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Re: Technophobia Discussion or Monologue, Really

Postby solonqb » Mon Oct 31, 2005 8:16 pm

[quote:086933e859=\"canaanbananarama\"]I suppose after a rather lackluster experience at WIT, I could expect no better from a tournament entirely run and edited by a team that submitted one of the poorer packets to that tournament. Unsurprisingly, I was right.

Unfortunately, on top of that, there were major logistical problems and errors that could easily have been avoided. Stuff that even somebody with no ability as a writer/editor could easily take care of.

1. According to one Caltech staffer, the printing problem which required teams to wait almost a half hour to start the tournament was a normal occurrence in quiz bowl. Garbage. The tournament began with the tournament director rushing off to a library to print out packets while, ominously, the tournament editor, upon whom it was presumably incumbent to complete was task, was completely AWOL and somehow not in touch with any members of the staff. You can throw whatever lame, dumb excuse you want in my face, but this is inexcusable. Drop whatever final touch-ups or editing you have to do and make sure that at least the few rounds of the tournament are in the hands of the moderator at the proper time. As for the frequency of this, I really think only two or three tournaments I’ve ever been to have had this problem.[/quote:086933e859]

Agreed. You have us there on that one. The first round was in my laptop, which i was trying to get them out of.

[quote:086933e859=\"canaanbananarama\"]For some reason, Caltech’s staff seemed to have the intent of getting rid of the playoffs (as listed on the schedule) based on time concerns created primarily by their own blunders. While getting rid of the playoffs was stupid enough, the Caltech tournament director did not use the opportunity to replace one of the terrible round robin packets with one of the two playoff packets. When asked about this, the tournament director claimed that one of the two packets was going to be unused. His argument seemed to be that due to the “excessive” length of the tossups of said freelance packet, that it was equally and perhaps more inferior to the worst packets at Technophobia. This was an absolutely absurd notion-no matter what one’s opinion on the difficulty and length of the writer’s questions, to equate it with some of the packets that I heard is ridiculous. [/quote:086933e859]

I remember talking with you quite vividly, and that is most expressly not what I said. On the contrary, I thought they were better packets as well. I didn\'t say inferior, which would be a fatuous presumption for me to make about a packet by either of those two freelance authors, considering my current positon. What I meant is that I had been hearing complaints from other teams about tossup length, and had no wish to hear them exacerbated. I strove to write decent 8-line tossups and got them thrown back into my face the first round. Admittedly, they were in need of a bit more editing, but the reaction showed what the demand was for.


[quote:086933e859=\"canaanbananarama\"]3. One of the first things you should look for in tournament editing is that every packet is complete. A 20/18 packet, as was one packet in Technophobia, is an absolute joke. This resulted in all kinds of odd situations. One UCLA team, as was mentioned before, was read part of (1 tossup, 5 bonuses) what was originally and would eventually become (in a lessened form) one of the playoff packets. The other UCLA team played its last two bonuses on a random WIT 2004 packet (this was the only mutually satisfactory resolution to this problem). Lord knows what happened in the other three rooms in which this packet (which, as stated above, could have been replaced from the outset by a superior freelance packet) was read.[/quote:086933e859]

Despite having a title, I was not in a position nor had the authority to make that decision at the moment, as games had already started. Alright, so I should have bolted out of the room and run up and down that building disrupting play even further? Exposing the playoff packet was my mistake however, as Jordan pointed out, and I will take the blame for it.


4. [quote:086933e859=\"canaanbananarama\"](complaing about playoffs)[/quote:086933e859]

I went around and asked teams whether they wanted to have playoffs; the vast majority expressed negative deisre, except for USC and obviously you guys. My position was that there should be at least a one round match between the top two teams if the records merited it, which they clearly ended up doing. however, it was not just some Caltech staffers who wanted to get out.


[quote:086933e859=\"canaanbananarama\"]5. A few notes on etiquette that need to be dealt with: when you get crummy prizes for a tournament, please don’t tell us that the noticeably used prizes came from classes you took two years ago. I’m not your anthromorphized trash can.[/quote:086933e859]

Yes, the prize selection could have been better. However , i do hope your primary motivation was not playing for the prizes.

[quote:086933e859=\"canaanbananrama\"]Your tournament should not make me feel like 1970’s Albanian peasant. You’re running a crummy tournament, not reliving the last days of Hitler; there’s no reason you need to create a completely off-limits to sulk, hide, or whatever the heck was done in the forbidden room.[/quote:086933e859]

That room was never expressly declared to be off-limits. If you felt you needed to go in there and complain/talk to one if us, all you had to do was do so. We didn\'t have the SS guarding the door or anything.

In summary, yes, we fucked up somewhat. Yes we should learn from our mistakes? But in all honesty, was the tournament that absolutely horrible that it runied your entire weekend? Keep in mind that Caltech had a large freshman contingent this year whose inexperience (and I do not exclude myself from this verdict) is partially/mostly to blame or this. This should not be taken as a paradigm to judge Caltech with on the whole.
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Postby ezubaric » Mon Oct 31, 2005 8:54 pm

A slight clarification/revision on my earlier statements:

I had fun. I thought it was a decent tournament, with some snafus. I thought the questions were decent (and I'll stick by my statement that many of the packets were good), and because I am of the opinion that tournaments should be judged by their weakest packet, this was the best tournament I've been to this year (an admittedly low bar, but a true statement nonetheless).

Irene put a ton of work into these packets. Were there problems? Sure. Did some packets not get as much attention as they deserved? Sure. But that's true of just about any tournament. There are three problems that I saw: getting the packets there on time, handling the missing questions, and the playoffs. These were logistical mistakes, and were eventually corrected.

The problems with the packets can be corrected within a week, and I think that it would be irresponsible to discourage teams from attending the Rutgers mirror.

Bottom line: I had fun. I appreciate the contributions of Irene, Jerry, Seth, Noah, Parag, and the rest of the Caltech team. The tournament could have been better, but I think it's going overboard to compare it to the Nazi regime or to consider it to be the death knell for packet submission tournaments in California.
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Postby csrjjsmp » Mon Oct 31, 2005 9:01 pm

For reference, the packet Berkeley submitted was written entirely by first-year players, and regrettably, I don't think any of the experienced members had time to look over it before it was submitted.
We had some transportation issues that were entirely my fault, and sadly, we ended up not going because we had no way to get there.

About the comments on west coast tournaments in general, I haven't been to any that aren't on the west coast, so perhaps I'm not qualified to speak on this, but I've found that those I've been to have been enjoyable and generally worth my time, even when they could have been better.
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Postby canaanbananarama » Mon Oct 31, 2005 9:26 pm

To elaborate on some of the points mentioned earlier. To the best of my remembering what Noah told me, the Jerry packet was going to be scrapped and used for parts. The Jordan packet was not mentioned in this conversation, although it ended up being the packet actually used for its parts during the round in question (at least in regards to the UCLA match). Jerry made a valid point that I thought of but neglected to put in the original post, that being to use a freelance packet in full unless it is completely wretched. To my knowledge, Caltech had little intention of doing so.

In response to Noah's post:

I remember talking with you quite vividly, and that is most expressly not what I said. On the contrary, I thought they were better packets as well. I didn't say inferior, which would be a fatuous presumption for me to make about a packet by either of those two freelance authors, considering my current positon. What I meant is that I had been hearing complaints from other teams about tossup length, and had no wish to hear them exacerbated. I strove to write decent 8-line tossups and got them thrown back into my face the first round. Admittedly, they were in need of a bit more editing, but the reaction showed what the demand was for.

Even still, no matter how many complaints you hear about tossup length, I and (I'd like to think) most of the other players in that tournament would rather hear Jerry's packet than some of the other clunker-rife packets featured in the round robin. And though I don't know what exactly others said to you, my personal problem with the first packet was generally in regards to quality, rather than length. There was no such issue with the Jerry packet, so assuming that people would hate Jerry's packet because they hated yours is a large logical leap.

Knowing West Coast quizbowl like I do, I will say that you may be in fact right about people not caring for Jerry's packet, as a lot of circuit teams don't care for questions of that level (not a particularly dauntingly high level, but more difficult than NAQT high school questions). This is a question that you have to answer as a tournament director-do you want to please the lowest common denominator? Whatever your decision, I think the Jerry packet is more in keeping with the spirit of Technophobias past than the UC-Irvine packet. I do think it would have pleased more teams to have used Jerry's pack than a UC-Irvine team packet. Five teams sulking through a moderate-level well-written pack and five teams enjoying it is better than ten teams groaning at generally poorly written questions.

I went around and asked teams whether they wanted to have playoffs; the vast majority expressed negative deisre, except for USC and obviously you guys. My position was that there should be at least a one round match between the top two teams if the records merited it, which they clearly ended up doing. however, it was not just some Caltech staffers who wanted to get out.


I have no idea what your opinion was as regards the playoffs. However, given that you had authorized the use of the "playoff" packets as filler and to my knowledge, you let the moderators use their discretion as to which packet to use as such, I don't know if I'm supposed to believe that you intended to have a playoff match despite both packets being partially read. If in fact the Jerry packet was intended to be read as a playoff round (since the Jordan packet wasn't, being used for one of the eventual playoff teams' matches), you certainly didn't make that clear by saying in the round you moderated for us that that specific packet was the one that was going to get used for scraps. I still have no idea which packet was meant to be read for this one game playoff, as it seems that every available packet was used or authorized for use during the round robin. And again, if it was your every intention to read only a one-game final from early on in this tournament, you should have gotten your people together and replaced one of the worse packets with the to be unread freelance packet. Use the garbage pack for ties and problems, most of which wouldn't have happened in this case, since it was this packet in fact that caused the majority of problems.

As for the extraneous stuff, you're right, it doesn't really matter much to me what the hell the prizes are, but it's just compounding a downward spiral, and is a very easy thing to correct. If there's going to be so many bad things about a tournament, you can at least get the simple things right.

I should make a note that I as well did have a generally good time, as I generally do have a good time even when question/tournament direction quality isn't up to snuff. I just have high expectations for this particular tournament and would like to see it see better days. Generally, Technophobia has been the quizbowl highlight of my fall quarter and I'd like to (but probably won't, as God willing I won't be around the West Coast any more) see it re-take that torch from my new favorite, by default, ACF Fall. For what it's worth, I made no comparison of Caltech quizbowl to the Nazi régime; it was just a side comment to the complaint that there was no central meeting place, and that I certainly felt unwelcome entering into that place, SS or no SS guarding the door.

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Postby cvdwightw » Mon Oct 31, 2005 10:22 pm

I am going to make an analogy that I feel is rather apt here. Among the many complaints of the April 2004 message boards were scathing reviews of USC's inaugural Ghetto Warz. By all accounts, those packets were examples of how not to write or edit (e.g. "as little as possible").

Although my only impressions of Ghetto Warz I come from the packets on the Stanford Archive, I did attend Ghetto Warz II. Although the question quality still left much to be desired, it was a significant improvement over the original Ghetto Warz, and I look forward to an even more improved Ghetto Warz III.

Much like this year's Technophobia, Ghetto Warz was run by people who had little to no experience editing questions; on top of that, neither school had submitted packets to previous tournaments that year that could have been considered decent in an unedited form. As has been mentioned, Caltech is currently a very inexperienced club, and I have good reason to believe that they will make significant improvements to make Technophobia XI even better. It's sad that the West Coast circuit (and perhaps the nation as a whole?) has to endure a year of growing pains, but I think that the recognition that the low quality of current packet-submission tournaments has gotten out of hand will ultimately lead to better tournaments in the future. It's unfortunate that people like Charles may not be active when the breakthrough finally happens.
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Postby solonqb » Mon Oct 31, 2005 10:28 pm

But see that's the rub. I didn't authorize it. It was a fiat decision made solely by me in that round. For whatever reason, through my lack of assertiveness or inexperience, lines of authority were not clearly delineated and I was not behind certain decisions. Only later did I find out Irene was telling people to read the leftover questions from previous packets, something that makes much more sense. I was not fully informed as to whether we had promised playoffs or not. At that point in time, I had heard from brief discussions with other staffers that the necessity for playoffs had been obviated due to a drop in the number of teams. I therefore shortsightedly assumed I could use the other two for replacement purposes. Keep in mind here I've only ever run high school NAQT before, my paradigm was still set in the mode of this kind of thing not bring much of an issue. Hopefully these mistakes have corrected that attitude and will make for a better Technophobia next year.
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Postby rylltraka » Mon Oct 31, 2005 11:13 pm

Just to put my two cents in, I thought Technophobia was still a good tournament, if not up to the standard of previous years. Certainly enjoyed what became of the packets from our school, at least, and there were only a couple truly bad packets, with some questions here and there that were regrettable.
I agree that many of the teams in CA (to my knowledge) are going through massive personnel shifts; it's happening here, as anyone who attended TWAIN knows. Suppose it's a cyclical thing. And if the correspondence between good players and good writing is correct, then no one should have been surprised how things turned out, really. Just as a side-comment to Dwight's post: the Ghetto Warz packets on the archive are mostly the unedited versions.
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Postby grapesmoker » Mon Oct 31, 2005 11:40 pm

I encourage newer players who are thinking about running or editing tournaments to get in touch with more experienced players (from your own school or otherwise) and ask for advice on logistics, editing, etc. A lot of these problems can be avoided if you ask for help when you need it. There are plenty of people out there who would be glad to pitch in with a packet here or there, or at least offer some useful advice or answer editing-related questions. I think sometimes these people might seem unapproachable because they are so much more experienced than a first-year player, but most people I've personally met would only be too glad to help in some small way in order to contribute to growing the circuit.

Its unfortunate, though, that teams seem to prefer hearing short, snappy questions to hearing questions with high clue density. I'll be the first to admit my questions could have used a little trimming, but by the standards of many tournaments last year, including BLaST, they were not at all excessively long. Not that formats like NAQT don't have their place, but if you come to an mACF tournament, you should expect ACF-style questions.
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Postby suds1000 » Tue Nov 01, 2005 1:03 am

The long and the short of it is that it's easy for us veterans to criticize, but I'm glad to see that Jerry is noting that we do exist out there to help.

Speaking for myself, I know that I'd be happy to help edit a couple packets for a tournament if someone requested my help, knowing that it would help the question set and the tournament if I did so (and I'd hope that other vets would be willing to help and make my tournament experiences better too). And actually, even more attractive than any of that is the injection of new question-writing blood into the circuit and the continuation of packet-submission tournaments, and convincing more and more teams that this is how quizbowl should work...that's the only way to keep the circuit alive once members of the ACF cabal and certain others move on to bigger and better things.

The one thing noted in this thread that I think could use more discussion is the issue of length. While I think clue-dense questions are necessary, precisely how many clues do most figure that the average tossup needs? I very rarely write tossups that go past seven lines in length using 1.25" margins and 10-point TNR font, and those long questions are reserved for highly intense (m)ACF tournaments like Regionals, Nationals, CO, and IO. Jerry says he writes eight-line tossups, and I'd say a lot of members of the ACF cabal do the same. However, is it feasible to have whole tournaments (i.e. usually at least 12 or 13 rounds) of packets with eight-line tossups and two-and-a-half-line bonus parts? ACF tournaments exhaust me physically and mentally as they are, and adding extra clues only adds so much in terms of potential for differentiating knowledge...or, in other words, the marginal utility of clues in terms of knowledge determination decreases after a certain point, in my opinion. What do you guys think?
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Postby solonqb » Tue Nov 01, 2005 1:19 am

One thing I can assure you all of is that the packets will be undergoing some more editing before we ship them off to Rutgers and Harvard.
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Postby Rothlover » Tue Nov 01, 2005 1:34 am

wait, is a harvard event happening ultimately, because I contacted them a few days ago and didn't hear anything back.
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Postby solonqb » Tue Nov 01, 2005 1:58 am

I'll check on that.
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Re: Technophobia Discussion or Monologue, Really

Postby Matt Weiner » Tue Nov 01, 2005 2:16 am

solonqb wrote:I went around and asked teams whether they wanted to have playoffs; the vast majority expressed negative deisre


The teams who actually want to play should always get more weight than those who don't in making this sort of decision. If even one team wanted playoffs, that is enough to cancel out all the "no" votes.
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Postby grapesmoker » Tue Nov 01, 2005 1:04 pm

Speaking of how to run tournaments, etc., isn't it about time that regional hosts for ACF Fall made their own individual announcements and stuff? Tournament's next weekend, guys. So far only Chicago has any information at all.
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Postby Dan Greenstein » Tue Nov 01, 2005 2:00 pm

I first pose the following question:

Without regards to location, would you rather attend a poorly-run tournament with excellent questions or a fantastically-run tournament with awful questions?

Of course, your answer to that question will vary based on what you define as poorly-run, excellent, fantastically-run and awful.

My answer to that question is a poorly-run tournament is much less acceptable than a tournament with awful questions. Compare the various skills sets that are used in accomplishing the two tasks. The set of skills used to direct a tournament is significantly wider than that of editing a tournament set. However, those skills are also much more applied in other pursuits. Organizing events at such a basic level--basic when compared to organizing a convention with hundreds of attendees requiring catering, hotel rooms, insurance, etc.--is something many of us do many, many times before we arrive on a college campus. It can be something as simple as arranging a trip to a beach resort or organizating a church picnic. On the other hand, editing a tournament set is a very specialized process that has to be done for the first time before one can become truly competent doing it. For some, achieving a certain level of competence takes two, three, or even more tournament editorships.

As you already know, the elders of the game have a responsibility to direct the youngsters who are assuming this responsibility, if they wish to preserve the Circuit. It is easy to dispense advice and to help out in various ways, but it is more important to have patience and resist the temptation to step in and do it correctly, and deprive the youngsters of the growing pains of running/editing a tournament. In many cases post facto, criticism is well-warranted, but it is more important to teach than to demoralize. Demoralization leads to alienation, which we cannot have if the Circuit is to survive.
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Postby Yunalesca » Tue Nov 01, 2005 5:36 pm

I'm sorry if you didn't have fun. I'm sorry that the tournament did not meet your [the general 'you'] expectations. Hopefully the team next year will do a better job.

(0) Re: the prizes. I happen to feel that even a used copy of something considered "literature" (which cost ~$10 at minimum) is just as worthy a prize as a $1.50 Dover Thrift Edition, or free literature from the Mormons. Or a piece of molded plastic on a faux wood stand.

(1) I told people who bothered to check with me that they should use previous packets. I planned on playoffs -- see the schedule that I made and planned to follow. (As much as I would like to exert total control over the people staffing the tournament ...)

(2) That said, I am a moron for not realizing there weren't enough questions in the UCI packet.

(3) I'm also a moron for not printing out the questions that I already had.

(4) That said, when CERTAIN PEOPLE don't give me the packets THEY are responsible for until 8:45 AM, it's REALLY hard to have them checked for repeats and format and printed out by 9 AM.

P.S. To the person in question: When I explain just why I'm yelling at you for being late with the packets, and you tell me "well, I don't remember any repeats from the questions I heard at playtesting", may I remind you that you heard only half of the packets that existed. Also? Underlines. Learn to use them. Failing that, allow me enough time to put them in properly.
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Postby csrjjsmp » Tue Nov 01, 2005 6:18 pm

grapesmoker wrote:Speaking of how to run tournaments, etc., isn't it about time that regional hosts for ACF Fall made their own individual announcements and stuff? Tournament's next weekend, guys. So far only Chicago has any information at all.

Announcements have been sent out. Berkeley's is here:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/quizbowl/message/15789
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Postby grapesmoker » Tue Nov 01, 2005 6:29 pm

Announcements have been sent out. Berkeley's is here:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/quizbowl/message/15789


Oh yeah, there's that other board. I gotta remember to read it sometime.
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Postby QuizBowlRonin » Tue Nov 01, 2005 8:28 pm

grapesmoker wrote:
Announcements have been sent out. Berkeley's is here:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/quizbowl/message/15789


Oh yeah, there's that other board. I gotta remember to read it sometime.


http://www.dpo.uab.edu/~paik/acf/fall.html

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Postby MikeWormdog » Thu Nov 03, 2005 3:46 am

a couple things from someone who also hosted a tournament this weekend (Bulldogs over Broadway)...hopefully the things I say aren't painfully obvious.

In general, when you edit a tournament, be prepared for shitty packets. When you get these bad packets, you have to rewrite a lot of the questions in them...had I more time, I would have done even more work on the BOB questions.

I don't really think the idea of sending packets back to authors does a lot of good. First, if the questions are bad, it's probably because the writers are inexperienced and/or don't know what good questions should look like. Second, this only works if you receive the packet well in advance of the tournament. Third, chances are you could rewrite theirs in the time it takes to receive the redone packet (if they return it at all), which will probably have to be (heavily) edited again anyway. I don't know if it saves you a lot of work.

Also, be prepared for complaints by some of the teams whose packets you've edited and thereby made better. They often (as evidenced by their writing) don't know a good packet from a bad one. At least they see their packet was changed and might figure out somewhere down the road that it wasn't that good.

These are general comments--I don't know how bad/good the questions were at Caltech. I tend to think they weren't as bad as initial reports indicate. Question editing is a lot of work, and it is often a thankless endeavor.

More specifically...

Jerry's packet (aka Brown's packet) was also submitted to BOB. I'm very glad to have received it. I do think it was quite good, but the q's were generally a tad too long for my taste and longer than the other questions at the tournament. I cut a line or two out of most of the tossups, which i don't think hurt the questions. I think 6-7 line tossups with 11 point font with one inch margins are good length (perhaps because that's what I tend to write). Jerry's tended to be 8-9+ lines in that format. My work in fixing up his packet to my preferences was very little compared to most of the other packets i received--the only other work was to check for repeats.

Also, don't be bitching about medieval historiography. Some people like it.

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Postby ezubaric » Sun Nov 20, 2005 3:03 pm

solonqb wrote:One thing I can assure you all of is that the packets will be undergoing some more editing before we ship them off


Now that the mirrors are over and the questions have been fixed up, will the questions be posted or available to trade?
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Postby recfreq » Sun Nov 20, 2005 11:11 pm

I think you could just get a copy from Irene.
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Postby ezubaric » Mon Nov 21, 2005 12:58 am

recfreq wrote:I think you could just get a copy from Irene.


But she doesn't have the edited version; she just has the ones used at Caltech. I'm having trouble tracking down who did the touchups in the meantime.
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Postby grapesmoker » Mon Nov 21, 2005 1:25 am

You'll want to email Shah Ali for that. I'll have some things to say once I finish this homework set due tomorrow.
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Postby grapesmoker » Mon Nov 21, 2005 1:15 pm

OK, time for some Technophobia mirror post-mortem.

First, I'd like to thank Shah and his clubmates at Rutgers-Newark for bringing us this tournament and for making an honest effort at improving the questions after all the complaining. They had very little time to do that, and as far as I know, none of them has ever edited a tournament before. Nevertheless, they seem to have put in a lot of effort and improved some of the things that caused so much complaining in the first place.

The packets themselves ranged from sub-par to very good depending on who the writers were. In truth, I think it's hard to complain too much about packets from teams that just have no idea how to write because they're just getting started. That's why we have tournament editors, after all. I do however want to shake my fist vigorously at packets that I played on that have come in from experienced players on the circuit who should know better than write the terrible questions to which we were all subjected on some packets. Specifically, the fist-shaking goes out to USC and to known writer of terrible questions Willie Chen, who despite being on the circuit for about a bazillion years and having people complain about his questions for a bazillion-minus-epsilon years where epsilon is arbitrarily small, still insists on writing the worst tossups I've ever seen.

Anyway, based on the questions I played on this weekend, one major problem that I have seen is the lack of pyramidality and the fast narrowing of the answer space. A tossup on Koizumi mentioned his visit to a war shrine in the first sentence. One on Markovnikov's rule mentioned Zaitsev's rule in the first sentence, allowing me (with my zero knowledge of chemistry) to pick up the tossup. An Alcatraz tossup began with the pelican clue. A tossup on Breitenfeld began with a clue on Von Tilly. And so on. This is something to guard agains when writing questions because it's like putting a giveaway in the first line, which creates buzzer races.

Another issue that I saw was a packet of mostly reasonable answers interspersed with occasional bizarre crap that comes out of left field. Virginia Wolfe's "Unwritten Novel?" I know who to blame for that one (fist-shake). "Shirin"? "Evelina"? What?

Also, when writing questions, avoid biographical fluff. Do I care about what Mario Vargas Llosa studied in college? Should I? I think the answer is "no" to both questions. So the tossup goes "blah blah blah Time of the Hero." The packets to look at for examples would be the Chicago packet, and Jordan's packet.

Anyway, that's a brief rundown of what I thought of the tournament. Overall, I had a pretty good time, and many of the questions were good. Again, kudos to Shah and his team for taking on a difficult task, probably without really knowing what they were in for. I hope they run and edit more tournaments in the future.
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Postby canaanbananarama » Mon Nov 21, 2005 2:31 pm

For what it's worth, the UCI packet was submitted not by Willie Chen, rather by the other UCI team. Unless I'm mistaken, the Willie Chen-led UCI team was a late addition to the field and provided no packet; the packet was written by relative novices from the second team.

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Postby grapesmoker » Mon Nov 21, 2005 2:50 pm

canaanbananarama wrote:For what it's worth, the UCI packet was submitted not by Willie Chen, rather by the other UCI team. Unless I'm mistaken, the Willie Chen-led UCI team was a late addition to the field and provided no packet; the packet was written by relative novices from the second team.

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My mistake. I'm used to assuming that everything coming from UCI has Willie's heavy hand in it. Whoever the author, it was still an awful packet, and I still blame Willie for not explaining to his clubmates the proper way to write questions, even though he knows (or should know) what that is.
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Postby recfreq » Mon Nov 21, 2005 4:49 pm

For what it's worth, Jerry, I am responsible for most of what you pointed out. Needless to say, it was probly the worst packet I've ever assembled, and fortunately, I didn't even play in Technophobia this year (what a weasel!).

To address your concerns, I wrote the infamous pilgrims question, b/c I'm also a pilgrim. I wrote "An Unwritten Novel" b/c I read it, but perhaps I should have saved that for a diff tourney (but you know, some tournaments are better for question distribution than others). Needless to say, I wrote Koizumi at 12AM-epsilon minutes b/c none of my team members would take current events off my hands, and as you know, I'm a fucking horrible current events person. Alcatraz was from one of our novices; I thought it would not make it since there were a lot better questions to choose from. I guess if you edited our packet, it might end up being good, since there were decent questions, but once again, my apologies, I just didn't take Technophobia seriously enough. It will change in the future.
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Postby yoda4554 » Mon Nov 21, 2005 5:47 pm

For whatever it's worth, Jerry, Evelina's not entirely out of left field. I've heard Fanny Burney come up twice in my career, with that book as the giveaway both times. It is, after all, the first critically (and commercially) successful novel in English by a woman, and it's fairly important to those interested in the epistolary form (particularly viewed as a spoof of Richardson). On the other hand, the only time I can place hearing it was at NAQT Nats last year, where it was one of about five questions we got while Illinois A was taking us down, and they had a collective look of "wtf?" when it ended, so it's certainly not easy.
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Postby solonqb » Mon Nov 21, 2005 9:40 pm

Yeah, I'm responsible for the Shirin question myself. It was an ill-conceived effort to expand the answer space. I figured if Shahnama had been coming up, why not introduce a main character from it? I know now to keep such things to bonus parts.
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Postby cvdwightw » Tue Nov 22, 2005 5:31 am

I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of sci-fi literature at Technophobia. I believe this is an underrepresented bridge between "academic" and "trashy" literature. However, it seemed like in several packets that teams are defining "literature" to mean "anything written down, published, and read by people." Seriously, writing "academic" science fiction questions (e.g. H.G. Wells) should be perfectly fine in the literature distribution, but writing "trashy" questions (e.g. George R.R. Martin) should not count in the literature distribution.

I apologize for the "Paul Kigali" error in the Rwanda tossup in my packet, and using the Greek "Amenhopis" instead of the more correct "Amenhotep" in one bonus. I do not apologize, however, for the bonus lead-in "keeping with the geography-themed literatue," when at that point there had been no questions on geography-themed literature (others came up later in the packet).

I also want to know what was up with the "name these astronomical objects, none of which actually have names" bonus (okay, so that wasn't the lead-in, but maybe it should have been).
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Postby solonqb » Tue Nov 22, 2005 5:34 am

Sedna was defienitely gettable from that, and 2004UB313 had been all over the news recently (the whole Spanish astronomy fraud thing), so there were at least 10 easy points on that one. While there was some overzealous underlining that should have been corrected, it wasn't a horrible bonus.
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Postby grapesmoker » Tue Nov 22, 2005 10:16 am

solonqb wrote:Sedna was defienitely gettable from that, and 2004UB313 had been all over the news recently (the whole Spanish astronomy fraud thing), so there were at least 10 easy points on that one. While there was some overzealous underlining that should have been corrected, it wasn't a horrible bonus.


Oh yeah, I totally forgot about those asteroids. That was a terrible question. First, Sedna was obvious and we were just waiting for it to come up so we could take our 10 points and run. Second, no one remembers numerical/year designations of asteroids of Kuiper belt objects except people whose job it is to look at them. Really, no one does. And no one cares. So please, don't write questions like that because they virtually guarantee that 20 points will go unanswered unless there's a professional astronomer in the room.

I apologize for the "Paul Kigali" error in the Rwanda tossup in my packet, and using the Greek "Amenhopis" instead of the more correct "Amenhotep" in one bonus. I do not apologize, however, for the bonus lead-in "keeping with the geography-themed literatue," when at that point there had been no questions on geography-themed literature (others came up later in the packet).


None of that caused as any problems (except for not knowing who Paul Kigali was, which caused us not to get points). I didn't even catch the Amenhopis part. Although somehow, either you or the editors failed to underline Smenkhare, so when I gave that as the answer, the moderator demanded that I give his full name. I would have protested and been right had it mattered, but I just didn't care at that point.
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Postby cvdwightw » Tue Nov 22, 2005 2:42 pm

Yeah, the underlining was very strange in our packet. Some of it was our fault (e.g. "Emily Osment instead of "Emily Osment") and some of it wasn't (e.g. "Biff Loman" was changed to "Biff Loman").

As Matthew pointed out to me after I submitted the packet, the president of Rwanda is Paul Kagame and the capital is Kigali. I just confused the two.
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Postby zwtipp » Tue Nov 22, 2005 4:44 pm

solonqb wrote:Sedna was defienitely gettable from that, and 2004UB313 had been all over the news recently (the whole Spanish astronomy fraud thing), so there were at least 10 easy points on that one. While there was some overzealous underlining that should have been corrected, it wasn't a horrible bonus.


While I agree that ten points were gettable, that bonus was still ridiculous. The person who wrote it was in the room at the time and when people were complaining about it he said "I though it was easy." Just because you think it is easy, doesn't make it so. Also the bonus on Soyuz spacecraft variations was a bit ridiculous as well. You're probably either gonna get thirty or zero depending on whether or not you're interested in that stuff or not.

As for underlining, "Jawaharlal Nehru" was an answer. I have never in my life heard a question on his father, at all. Granted, I haven't been playing too long compared to other people, but the grad student on my team who got the question thought it was ridiculous too. The person who wrote the question (the same one who wrote the questions above) was still in the room sine these were all from the same packet and he said he wanted to "distinguish from his father." I'm not saying his father isn't important, but this was still ridiculous.
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Postby grapesmoker » Tue Nov 22, 2005 4:50 pm

zwtipp wrote: "distinguish from his father."


If we followed this logic, we'd have to underline the first letter of everyone's name, if not more than that. Bad idea.
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Postby cvdwightw » Tue Nov 22, 2005 11:52 pm

Yunalesca wrote:(4) That said, when CERTAIN PEOPLE don't give me the packets THEY are responsible for until 8:45 AM, it's REALLY hard to have them checked for repeats and format and printed out by 9 AM.

P.S. To the person in question: When I explain just why I'm yelling at you for being late with the packets, and you tell me "well, I don't remember any repeats from the questions I heard at playtesting", may I remind you that you heard only half of the packets that existed. Also? Underlines. Learn to use them. Failing that, allow me enough time to put them in properly.


I believe the packet with the excessive Nehru underlining and the random space objects bonus is the packet in question, written entirely by Caltech freshmen with little to no question writing experience, at least at the college level. When this is combined with the fact that the packet was evidently submitted to the editor the day of the tournament, stuff like this is going to happen. Although, the exact same Nehru tossup came up in a later packet, so I don't know what happened with that oversight.

That packet also had the homochirality question, and though I think I should have gotten prompted on chirality, as was initially done (upon further review by the writer of the space objects bonus, I was awarded points), I do think that my answer of l-chirality at the end of that question should have been accepted. Of course, I have no idea whether the rest of the clues other than the amino acids giveaway also imply d-chirality.
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Postby recfreq » Wed Nov 23, 2005 12:58 am

WTF is homochirality? So there's heterochirality?

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Postby solonqb » Wed Nov 23, 2005 6:20 am

cvdwightw wrote:
Yunalesca wrote:(4) That said, when CERTAIN PEOPLE don't give me the packets THEY are responsible for until 8:45 AM, it's REALLY hard to have them checked for repeats and format and printed out by 9 AM.

P.S. To the person in question: When I explain just why I'm yelling at you for being late with the packets, and you tell me "well, I don't remember any repeats from the questions I heard at playtesting", may I remind you that you heard only half of the packets that existed. Also? Underlines. Learn to use them. Failing that, allow me enough time to put them in properly.


That packet also had the homochirality question, and though I think I should have gotten prompted on chirality, as was initially done (upon further review by the writer of the space objects bonus, I was awarded points), I do think that my answer of l-chirality at the end of that question should have been accepted. Of course, I have no idea whether the rest of the clues other than the amino acids giveaway also imply d-chirality.


If you're referring to me prompting you, Dwight, I didn't write the space objects bonus, another freshman did. however, since I was notionally responsible for its editing, I suppose I might as well have. I'll post the homochirality question here and let people pick it apart, although in retrospect, I probably should have accepted something like clear knowledge equivalents. There were probably better ways to target the question.

5) The European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission launched in 2003 was to search for this on Comet Wirtanen. Some of the leading theories as to why this phenomenon has come about have to do with the nuclear weak force, ranging from the effect of polarized electrons released by beta decay to the parity-violating energy difference that makes one “handâ€
Last edited by solonqb on Wed Nov 23, 2005 6:26 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby solonqb » Wed Nov 23, 2005 6:23 am

recfreq wrote:WTF is homochirality? So there's heterochirality?

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Uh, yeah there is. Remember the canonical example of the discovery of chirality, when Pasteur picked apart the two chiral forms of sodium ammonium tartrate? If that's not heterochiral, I don't know what is.
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Postby recfreq » Wed Nov 23, 2005 7:11 pm

[quote:b6c8988e4d=\"solonqb\"]5) The European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission launched in 2003 was to search for this on Comet Wirtanen. Some of the leading theories as to why this phenomenon has come about have to do with the nuclear weak force, ranging from the effect of polarized electrons released by beta decay to the parity-violating energy difference that makes one “hand” more stable than the other, as its true mirror image is composed of antimatter. Alternate theories involves cosmic radiation or an analogue to the oscillation of the Belouzov-Zhabotinsky reaction caused by stirring-induced nucleation. Recently, however, simple mechanical grinding has been shown to yield what property, the fact that all natural amino acids polarize light in the same direction?[/quote:b6c8988e4d]

This has zero chemical information in terms of mechanisms and structures. Are we even talking about the same chirality? Have you looked at what a chirality question usually involves? Usually: asymmetric carbons, stereocenter, R/S forms, optically active. If you looked at an organic chem textbook, you\'ll find no mention of homo or hetero chirality, but I\'ll take your word for it. Since it isn\'t standardized academic stuff, don\'t underline anything beyond chiral, b/c you might have just picked it up from an article. Also, Pasteur separated out tartaric acid and its enantiomer, so may be you are talking about hetero being lev instead of dex? If so, that\'s nonstandard terminology, and there\'s certainly nothing in your question that can separate an l-enantiomer from a d-enantiomer. Also, saying enantiomer is not the same as saying chiral.
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