Is copying answerlines also plagiarism?

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no ice
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Is copying answerlines also plagiarism?

Post by no ice » Fri Dec 05, 2014 11:19 pm

Sometimes when I write tossups, I just open up a random packet, choose a few answerlines, and force myself to do research to write tossups on those answerlines. This is probably perfectly okay, since, indirectly, that's basically how all tossups are written, and choosing the answerline is hardly the part of writing a tossup that takes up the most effort.

But what about bonuses? Choosing the theme and all three answerlines of a bonus is maybe 50% of the effort in writing one.

Even more extreme, what if someone wrote a packet that uses the exact same answerlines as another packet? If individual answerlines themselves aren't intellectual property, would the collection of answerlines in a packet be?

My guess is that there is no easy way to prevent it, and I can't see it actually becoming an issue, but if someone does get caught copying a really creative/unique bonus or even an entire packet, he/she will look really stupid.
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Re: Is copying answerlines also plagiarism?

Post by Guile Island » Sat Dec 06, 2014 2:55 am

While I certainly wouldn't call copying a large chunk of answerlines "plagiarism" per se, you should probably never ever do that, especially with bonuses. Not only does it encourage straight up memorization of answerlines, but you might be making the mistake of copying answerlines without having proper knowledge of whether said answerlines were of appropriate difficulty in the first place.
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Re: Is copying answerlines also plagiarism?

Post by setht » Sat Dec 06, 2014 11:32 am

NAQT has started developing "standard answerlines" for a bunch of topics, and we hope our writers will use those as a question-writing aid. I think that's fine, and I think copying an answerline from an old packet is okay. In both cases the writer has to think carefully about whether there are any answerline wrinkles they should add (or remove)—maybe you've copied an answerline for Marduk, but the answerline you've copied doesn't say what to do with an early buzz of "Bel." Or it lists the 50 names of Marduk, and you don't want to bother with that (or it doesn't, and you do want to bother with listing them). (Note: for NAQT questions, please don't bother listing the 50 names of Marduk.)

Copying all three answerlines of a bonus to use in another bonus does feel like going over the line, as does writing a packet by copying out a large chunk of answerlines from an old packet.

Is this idle quizbowl theorizing, or a real concern? Do people have so much trouble coming up with ideas for questions that they feel they need to scavenge from old packets?

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Re: Is copying answerlines also plagiarism?

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Sat Dec 06, 2014 2:58 pm

Copying answerlines for tossups is absolutely fine and this shouldn't be a point of dispute. There have been numerous tossups on Fyodor Dostoevsky, and there should be more in the future because Fyodor Dostoevsky is an extremely important author. In my opinion, copying bonus answers isn't really too much of an issue either. What's important is using fresh clues for early tossup clues and hard parts, or at least avoiding plagiarizing old questions in order to create the material that's supposed to distinguish between experienced quizbowl teams and who knows their stuff on a topic.

I think that using old questions as a reference for choosing clues at all is generally a bad idea, at least when you're initially constructing a tossup of bonus. I like to write the entirety of a question without referring to old questions, then check with old questions to see if I have misplaced a clue or misjudged how famous something is - i.e. "oh, seems like Saigo Takamori shouldn't be in the third line of my Meiji tossup" or "asking for specific Goldoni plays as a bonus part doesn't seem to happen outside of hard tournaments; maybe that shouldn't be in my ACF Fall bonus" or whatever. If you accidentally arrive at an identical leadin to some other question by this method, that's probably fine, though it could be a bit stale.
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Re: Is copying answerlines also plagiarism?

Post by Adventure Temple Trail » Sat Dec 06, 2014 3:39 pm

I'm not really sure what the original question is asking; at any rate, it seems like Seth and Will are responding to very different possible questions, Seth replying to "When writing a new tossup on an answer I've heard before, can I copy-paste the answer line from an old tossup?"; Will replying to "Can people write new tossups on answers they've heard before?". In response to the latter interpretation: There would be no way for quizbowl questions to remain difficulty appropriate as time goes on -- at any difficulty level -- if question writers were forbidden from writing on topics that had come up 1 or more times in previous packet sets. This is because, as Will alludes to, the set of things that are famous enough is finite. What's more, the set of famous things we actually want people to learn about is worth asking about over and over, though you want to do your best to use at least one new clue, or get at old clues in new ways and wordings, whenever possible.

In response to the former: It's theoretically not a big deal if you copy-paste a well fleshed-out answer line from a previous packet, in order to make sure that your question says, e.g. "ANSWER: Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky" rather than leaving out his middle name or making another spelling/transliteration mistake. That said, I will caution people against copy-pasting like this because a huge number of past answer lines are actually quite lazy and either (a) don't list alternative answers that teams might give (b) go overboard with answers that are extremely tenuous or full-on inaccurate (c) have specific instructions which don't make sense for future questions (e.g. "accept The Gambler before mention"). It's better for accuracy's sake, and for your learning process, to create a new answer line for your question, and to always double-check it for little mistakes against a reliable source so as not to mess up small things such as "Alfred" vs. "Albert" on the fly.

Re: James's original question about bonuses: I think the answer to James's original question depends largely on intent. If you are trying to write a good bonus (particularly at lower difficulty levels) and it ends up having the same three answer lines as an existing bonus, that's probably not a huge deal (unless something else has changed in the interim, such as the hard part from the original bonus becoming artificially easier with time and quizbowl exposure). If one intends to write the same three parts for a bonus as a previously existing bonus, and then submits them for use in a question set, that's at best a pretty disreputable writing habit and at worst pretty iffy for the health of the game, which requires new ideas and new takes on old ideas to stay viable.
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Re: Is copying answerlines also plagiarism?

Post by vinteuil » Sat Dec 06, 2014 4:01 pm

no ice wrote:But what about bonuses? Choosing the theme and all three answerlines of a bonus is maybe 50% of the effort in writing one.
Of course, this can happen accidentally: http://www.hsquizbowl.org/forums/viewto ... =21&t=5253
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Re: Is copying answerlines also plagiarism?

Post by Valefor » Sat Dec 06, 2014 6:54 pm

setht wrote:(Note: for NAQT questions, please don't bother listing the 50 names of Marduk.)

-Seth
You do realize it is now my mission to write a question that finds a way to require listing the 50 names of Marduk, right? :P
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Re: Is copying answerlines also plagiarism?

Post by at your pleasure » Sat Dec 06, 2014 10:05 pm

Vissi d'arte wrote:
setht wrote:(Note: for NAQT questions, please don't bother listing the 50 names of Marduk.)

-Seth
You do realize it is now my mission to write a question that finds a way to require listing the 50 names of Marduk, right? :P
There was a question in CO 2013 on "Names of Marduk", which is probably the closest you are likely to get to this without entering the realm of the absurd.
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Re: Is copying answerlines also plagiarism?

Post by Adventure Temple Trail » Sat Dec 06, 2014 11:23 pm

I'll also add that it becomes much more possible, and is much more important, to pick out new hard [and sometimes middle] parts for bonuses as difficulty goes up. At the high school level it's nice to try and find new hard parts but it's often difficult to do so in practice without going overboard. Once you get to regular collegiate difficulty or higher it really is desirable and recommended to try and find something new (again, without actually going overboard) and at a tournament such as Chicago Open teams have an opportunity to do something new in basically every bonus they submit.

Here are some ways of thinking up new, difficulty-appropriate bonus parts even on easy topics, for those who want to get the gears turning:
  • For works of fiction, go beyond asking about primary characters, titles, and authors to secondary characters, plot events, and key locales within the work
  • Ask about traits that characters or people have within a work
  • Ask teams for notable short quotes or key phrases within a work of (also works for non-fiction such as a philosophical treatise or political speech)
  • Think of a way to turn a piece of information of middle to late difficulty into a bonus part (e.g. if you see a bunch of tossups describing how bacteriophages were tagged with radioactive phosphorous and sulfur in the Hershey-Chase experiment, you could try a bonus part with "ANSWER: _phosphorous_ AND _sulfur_"
at your pleasure wrote:
Vissi d'arte wrote:
setht wrote:(Note: for NAQT questions, please don't bother listing the 50 names of Marduk.)

-Seth
You do realize it is now my mission to write a question that finds a way to require listing the 50 names of Marduk, right? :P
There was a question in CO 2013 on "Names of Marduk", which is probably the closest you are likely to get to this without entering the realm of the absurd.
You're welcome for that one.
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