Common Link Questions

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Stained Diviner
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Common Link Questions

Post by Stained Diviner »

The biggest theoretical discussions on common link tossups on these forums took place ten years ago. That was very long ago, when most of you were young, so let's talk about common link tossups, which are an important part of quizbowl.

There is not a clear definition of common link tossups, and one of the points made years ago is that all questions are to some extent a common link tossup. Questions that are obviously common link tossups tie together different writers, artists, eras, works, and/or regions. Common link tossups stand out the most in literature and fine arts, since most answers in those categories are people, works, movements, countries, or genres, and common link questions have different answers. Common link is common in RMP and social sciences, and in those areas common link questions often match the way the topics come up in classes. The concept of common link questions does not really come up in the sciences, which could just be because it's more difficult to determine which science questions are or are not common link.

When common link questions were discussed years ago, the most important consensus to arise from that discussion was that each clue should clearly point to the answer. Basically, an example of what you are trying to avoid is a question that describes the full careers of John Palmer, Carol Moseley Braun, Everett Dirksen, Tammy Duckworth, and Barack Obama, expecting the player to recognize that what all those people have in common is that they were US Senators from Illinois. Such questions are frustrating to play because it is difficult to figure out how specific the answerline is, and that gets especially frustrating if the question is using a lot of clues that the player recognizes. Especially for those of you new to writing, simple answerlines are your friend.

Here are some reasons to include common link questions in sets you write:
* Makes quizbowl less of a binary memorization game, which ideally makes it more about "real knowledge" (It avoids a game of "moderator says X, you buzz and say Y".)
* Allows writers to bring up artists who are not famous enough to be answerlines
* Often allows for easier giveaways to improve conversion
* Prepares top teams for nationals, where common link tossups are common (I have not actually looked at this year's HSNCT and NSC sets, so don't take that as inside knowledge.)
* Makes writing and playing less repetitive

Here are some reasons to not include common link questions in sets you write:
* They require creativity.
* Sometimes you have what seems like a good idea for a common link question, but after a half hour of research it turns out to be a bad idea, and you have to recognize that it was actually a bad idea.
* It's difficult to get all parts of the question to do what they are supposed to--a leadin that is hard but not impossible, a giveaway that is easy but not insulting, and middle clues that provide a smooth transition between those ends.
* It can be difficult to predict how a common link tossup will play, and such questions are often the first to be praised and criticized.
* It can make your packets less useful to study because teams want to study questions that have answerlines that are likely to come up again.

I am not advocating trying to write a set that is all or even mostly common link. In any set, most of the questions are not going to be common link, and that's fine. I do advocate writing some such questions.

To provide context, and because I am self-centered, here are some examples of common link questions I wrote or edited last year:
In one novel whose setting is this geographical feature, Steve drinks blood from Julie's hand in order to convince police that their marriage is legal. This place is where Magnolia is raised by Parthy Ann and Captain Andy Hawks before Andy drowns. In another novel, a brass button, a round ball, and lots of "rubbage" are found in the stomach of a six-foot-two-inch catfish that is caught along with a skinned rabbit in this place. The title character in that novel set in this place joins his friend after Buck Grangerford tries to shoot Harney Shepherdson. Name this river on which the ~Cotton Blossom~ travels in Edna Ferber's ~Show Boat~, and down which Jim and Huckleberry Finn raft.
_Mississippi_ River

In a Robert Louis Stevenson poem, children take this action in Japan and Spain, and the "organ with the organ man" does this "in the rain". A Langston Hughes poem that ends with the line "I, too, am America" states that the speaker does this action about America in the first line. In a Walt Whitman poem, this action is performed by the carpenter, the mason, the boatman, and several other people; that poem is titled "I Hear America" doing this. In a poem title, E. E. Cummings uses this verb for his depiction "of Olaf glad and big." Name this action that is done by a "Caged Bird" in the title of Maya Angelou's autobiography.
_sing_ing [or _sing_s]

The beginning of this time period in is the setting of a James Wright poem set in Martins Ferry, Ohio. During this time, "moonlight gleams through pine tree groves" according to a Wang Wei poem written about one of its evenings on the mountain. Under the moonlight of this time period, "a worm digs silently into the chestnut" in a poem by Matsuo Basho. Percy Bysshe Shelley called the West Wind the "breath of" this time of year's "being". This time of year is called the "season of mists and mellow fruitfulness" in an ode by John Keats. William Blake said that this season is "laden with fruit." Name this season that, according to a \pg{Rilke}{RIL-kuh} poem, is when "the leaves are falling."
_autumn_ [accept _fall_]

A girl wearing a dress of this color dances along the Charles River in a poem by Anne Sexton. A person grown to womanhood owns a dress of this color but calls it a "silly gown" in a Dorothy Parker poem. This color is repeated in the title of a poem that describes an object as "newly sprung in June". In another poem, an object of this color is "glazed with rain water beside the white chickens"; that poem also notes that "so much depends upon" the wheelbarrow of this color described by William Carlos Williams. Name this color that is repeated in the title of a Robert Burns poem that states "my love is like a" rose of this color.

Robert Frost described a dimpled one of these animals on a white heal-all flower holding up a moth. In a poem about one of these animals, Walt Whitman wrote "and you, O my soul, where you stand, / surrounded, surrounded, in measureless oceans of space". Emily Dickinson said that this animal has never been employed as an artist, and in another poem she said that the strategy of one of these animals was \pg{physiognomy}{fiz-ee-AHG-nuh-mee}. Name this subject of Robert Frost's poem "Design", which in an Emily Dickinson poem sewed at night, and which in a Walt Whitman poem was "noiseless" and "patient".
_spider_s [prompt on _arachnid_s]

A painting by Pieter de \pg{Hooch}{hohk} shows a woman in a red skirt working with these objects with the help of a small girl. A Raphael painting shows a young man in red holding one of these objects in his right hand, and his ~Three Graces~ shows each Grace holding one of these objects. One of Paul C\'ezanne's paintings shows a tilted overflowing basket of these objects next to a bottle of wine. A green one of these objects hovers in the air in front of the face of a man wearing a bowler hat in Ren\'e Magritte's ~The Son of Man~. Name this fruit often portrayed as the forbidden fruit in depictions of Adam and Eve.
_apple_ [prompt on _fruit_s]

A painting by Francisco Goya shows one of these animals tilting its head upward, with the rest of the body obscured by a dark brown section. One of these animals looks up from the bottom of Antonio da \pg{Correggio's}{kor-"EDGE"-oh'z} ~Ganymede Abducted by the Eagle~. Another one of these animals stands at the bottom of \pg{Jan}{yahn} van Eyck's ~Arnolfini Portrait~. One of these animals is curled up in a corner of the bed in \pg{Titian's}{TEE-shun'z} ~Venus of Urbino~. Name these animals that, in cigar advertisements by C. M. Coolidge, were depicted playing poker.
_dog_s [accept more specific answers]

This activity is being done by the person in the foreground in John Singer Sargent's ~El \pg{Jaleo}{hah-LAY-oh}~. Two people who performed this activity professionally were Louise Weber --- nicknamed "the glutton" --- and Jane Avril, both of whom became more popular after they were portrayed by \pg{Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec}{awn-ree day too-looz loh-trek}. Henri Matisse's paintings named for this activity show five naked women in a circle. A class and a rehearsal for this activity were painted by Edgar \pg{Degas}{day-gah} showing several young women in white. Name this activity that can be performed \pg{~en pointe~}{"on point"} and wearing a tutu.
_dancing_ [or _dance_; accept Spanish _gypsy dancing_ before "Weber"; accept _can-can_ dancing between "Louise" and "Matisse's"; accept _ballet_ after "rehearsal"]

In addition to Hokusai's views of Mount Fuji that include his great wave, he made a series of pictures showing unusual views of celebrated examples of these objects in Japan. One of these objects named for Europe is the setting of a Gustave \pg{Caillebotte}{kye-"boat"} painting showing a dog walking away, a man in white looking towards a train station, and a couple walking towards the viewer. Claude Monet made a series of paintings showing the structure of this type at Charing Cross, and several of his paintings of water lilies show a Japanese one. Name these objects, which in J. M. W. Turner's ~Rain, Steam and Speed~ is being crossed by a train.

\pg{Amedeo Modigliani}{ah-meh-DAY-oh moh-deel-YAH-nee} painted a reclining nude with a cushion of this color. Mark Rothko's ~Number 61~ is rust and this color, and his ~Number 1~ is royal red and this color. Raphael painted Mary wearing a diadem of this color in one painting, and he and other artists often showed her wearing a robe of this color because it --- like white --- represents purity. Jonathan Buttall wears this color in a painting by Thomas Gainsborough. A guitarist with his head and instrument pointing almost straight down painted in 1904 was emblematic of the period in the work of Pablo Picasso named for what color?

Members of the Church of Latter-Day Saints take this action and attend a testimony meeting on the first Sunday of each month. Jews perform this action two days after Rosh HaShanah, on the day before Purim, and on \pg{Tisha b'Av}{TEE-shah b'-AHV}. One type of this behavior is ~santhara~, which is done in Jainism when a person is ready to die, while a more common form of this behavior in Jainism is called ~upvas~. Bah\'a'\'is take this action during the day for 19 days during the month of Al\'a, and Muslims take this action during the day --- in addition to refraining from smoking and sex --- during the month of Ramadan. Name this action taken by Jews during Yom Kippur.
_fast_ing [accept answers equivalent to _not eat_ing]

The city of Ubon Ratchathani holds an annual festival during which these objects are sent to many Buddhist temples in Thailand. During Kwanzaa celebrations, these objects are used to represent the Seven Principles and are placed in a ~kinara~. In the Book of Revelation, seven of these objects represent the seven churches. Jews use a braided version of this object to mark the ~end~ of the Sabbath during Hav*da*lah services. Catholic Holy Saturday services often begin by using the Paschal type of this object, which is large and white. Name these objects that are often used to represent unity during modern wedding ceremonies when the groom and bride jointly light them.

Banging pots and pans is commonly done to drive away the cause of these events, which in Korea was believed to be due to flaming dogs, and in Vietnam due to a large frog. Vikings believed these events occurred due to the wolves Skoll and Hati, who chase the children of Mun*dil*fari. In Egypt these events were interpreted as \pg{Apep}{AY-pep} succeeding in his attempts to swallow the barge of Ra. According to \pg{Herodotus}{her-AH-dih-tuss}, the successful prediction of one of these events by \pg{Thales}{THAY-leez} scared the \pg{Medes}{meedz} and Lydians, who then stopped fighting. Name these events that many cultures believed were caused by an animal swallowing the sun or moon.
(solar or lunar) _eclipse_s

Loki was forced to fill the corpse of \pg{\'Otr}{OH-tur} with this substance produced by the And*vara*naut. Youth-preserving food that resembled this substance was managed by \pg{I\dh unn}{EE-thun}. The desire for this substance causes the dwarf Fafnir to kill his father \pg{Hreidmar}{"RIDE-mar"} and transform into a dragon. An object made of this substance was guarded by a dragon that never slept, whose teeth could turn into soldiers. A food made of this substance labelled "for the most beautiful" led to a competition between Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite. Name this precious metal that objects changed into when they were touched by King Midas.

Rollo May defined this condition as "the apprehension cued off by a threat to some value which the individual holds essential to his existence as a self" in his first book, ~The Meaning of~ this concept. S\o ren Kierkegaard defined this concept as the "dizziness of freedom" in his book ~The Concept of~ this condition. Depression and this concept are measured on a scale developed by Max Hamilton and based in part on whether a person suffers insomnia. People with disorders named for this concept often exhibit excessive fear, including phobias, and have panic attacks. Name this feeling that can accompany testing or separation from relatives.
_anxiety_ [accept _anxious_ness after "feeling"]

William Rowe described the natural form of this concept in his Bambi case, and the moral form in his Sue case; he also wrote a book titled ~The Evidential Argument from~ this concept. This is the last word in the main title of a Friedrich Nietzsche book subtitled ~Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future~ that follows ~Thus Spoke Zara*thu*stra~. Hannah \pg{Arendt's}{uh-"RENT'S"} book on Adolf \pg{Eichmann}{"IKE"-mun} was subtitled for the "banality of" this concept. Edmund Burke said "The only thing necessary for the triumph of" this concept "is for good men to do nothing." Charles Baudelaire titled his poetry collection ~The Flowers of~ this concept. Name this concept contrasted with good.
_evil_(ness) (The Nietzsche book referenced in the second sentence is ~Beyond Good and Evil~.)

One person with this job vies with Baroka for the hand of Sidi in ~The Lion and the Jewel~ by \pg{Wole}{WAW-leh} Soyinka. In a play by Anton Chekhov, this job is held by both Fyodor Ilyich Kulygin and by his sister-in-law Olga, the eldest of the three Prozorov sisters. Gilbert Blythe gives up a job in this profession so that it can be taken by Anne of Green Gables. In ~All Quiet on the Western Front~, Paul B\"aumer was pressured to enlist by a member of this profession, Kantorek. Name this job held by Mr. Antolini in ~The Catcher in the Rye~.
_teacher_(s) [accept _educator_(s) or similar answers; accept _schoolmaster_(s)]

According to Incan myth, the goddess of this entity cried tears of silver and was the mother of the first governor of \pg{Cusco}{KOOZ-koh}, Manco C\'apac. According to Norse myth, Hati chases this thing and will consume it during Ragnar\"ok. In Chinese myth, Chang'e is the goddess of this object, the embodiment of yin. By defeating the god of this thing, Thoth won an extra five days on the calendar. In Shinto myth, this thing is represented by \pg{Tsukiyomi}{soo-kee-yoh-mee}. Name this celestial object represented by Luna in Roman mythology.
the _moon_ [accept _Luna_ before "Luna"]

Several people involved in the largest of these events in New Zealand history were killed by the blizzard and flood of 1863 in Central Otago. Another of these events was tied to the genocide of the Selk'nam people, was started by Ram\'on Serrano Montaner, and led Julius Popper to attract many former Europeans to \pg{Tierra del Fuego}{tee-AIR-ah del FWAY-goh}. The Chilkoot and White Pass Trails were used in the 1890s to reach one of these events that attracted people to Dawson City, many of whom later moved to Nome, and which took place in the Yukon's Klondike region. Name these events that attract many prospectors.
_gold rush_es

During \pg{Ragnar\"ok}{RAG-nuh-rawk}, Lif and \pg{Lifthrasir}{lif-THRAH-sur} will hide among several of these objects belonging to \pg{Hodmirir}{"hoed-mirror"}. To obtain the runes, Odin hung himself from one of these objects for nine days and nine nights. When Buddha was ready to die, Ananda prepared a place for him to do so between two of these objects. Bodhi Day celebrates Buddha sitting under one of these objects while attaining enlightenment. The middle of \pg{Asgard}{AS-gahrd} contains one of these objects called \pg{Yggdrasil}{IG-druh-sil}. Name these objects, one of which represents the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden.
_tree_s [accept more specific answers; prompt on _plant_s]

John Crittenden resigned from this position after President John Tyler vetoed bank bills. Shortly after losing a Senate race against a dead person, John Ashcroft was appointed to this position. Robert Bork held this position temporarily after Elliot Richardson and his deputy William Ruckelshaus resigned rather than fire Archibald Cox. President Kennedy appointed his brother Robert to this position. Before becoming secretary of state, Edmund Randolph was the first person to hold this position in George Washington's cabinet. Name this position held by the leader of the Department of Justice.
United States _Attorney General_

This object was pulled by Alsvid and Arvak, and the daughter of \pg{Mundilfari}{moon-dil-FAR-ee} was named after it. Svalin wields a shield on behalf of this thing, which is pursued by Skoll. It was called the "deceiver of Dvalin" in the \pg{~Alvissmol~}{ahl-VEESS-mol}, in which Thor defeated Alvis via its petrification of dwarves. In Shintoism, the goddess of this object oversees the High Celestial Plain and the universe. Because that goddess, Amaterasu, controlled this object, the world went dark when she hid in a cave. Name this celestial object guided in Roman mythology by Sol Invictus.
the _sun_ [accept _Sol_ before "Sol"]

I don't know whether or not these questions count as common link:
John Jay convinced this country to loan money to the United States, though it refused to recognize him as an ambassador; later, Washington Irving was an ambassador to this country. The Treaty of Friendship, Limits, and Navigation between this country and the United States --- which clarified U.S. borders and reopened New Orleans to American goods --- was negotiated by Thomas Pinckney. The U.S. purchased territory from this country in the Adams-\pg{On\'is}{oh-NEESS} Treaty. The U.S. captured Guam from this country during a war that started after the destruction of the USS ~Maine~. Name this European country that used to control Florida.
(Kingdom of) _Spain_ [or (Reino de) _Espa\~na_]

During the U.S. Civil War, reduced imports of this crop caused a depression in Lancashire, England. Richard Arkwright developed a rotary carding engine to process this crop, which was used in Rhode Island by Samuel Slater. During the 20th century, this crop was almost destroyed in the U.S. by beetles called boll weevils. The value of this crop increased greatly after a machine that removes its seeds was developed by Eli Whitney. Name this fiber that was commonly picked by slaves in the U.S. and that is used to make clothing.

John Buddle improved safety in this industry by developing an air pump and reducing flooding. A thousand workers in this industry were killed by a 1906 explosion in \pg{Courri\`eres}{koor-ee-air}. In Britain, a 1912 strike in this industry caused the adoption of a minimum wage, while a year-long strike in 1984 was put down by Margaret Thatcher. A forerunner to the European Union was named for steel and this industry. The chemist Humphrey Davy developed a safety lamp that was widely used in this industry. Name this industry in which many workers suffer from black lung.
_coal_ _mining_ [accept either] (The forerunner of the EU was called the European Coal and Steel Community.)

Though Zaha Hadid was born in Iraq and lived in the U.S., she designed this country's Galaxy Soho office complex and double pebble opera house. In 1959, this country built what are known as the Ten Great Buildings in its capital, including the National Agriculture Exhibition Hall, Workers Stadium, and Great Hall of the People. A 21st-century stadium in this country uses a wild pattern of steel that blends into the steel supports for the retractable roof, giving it the nickname "Bird's Nest". Name this country where the Palace Museum is in its Forbidden City, and where the Terracotta Army was built to depict the army of its first emperor, \pg{Qin Shi Huang}{cheen shee wahng}.
(People's Republic of) _China_ [accept _PRC_; do not accept or prompt on "Republic of China"]

This song is the first track on Carole King's album ~A Holiday Carole~. It is introduced by the spoken lines "The lightning talks to the thunder, and the thunder answers" and "Skies full of stars", after which the person who performs this song is admonished for not strictly observing bedtime. An album named for this song puts this song before Cole Porter's "Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye", and is by John Coltrane. The items in this song should be remembered "when the dog bites, when the bee stings, when I'm feeling sad". Name this song from ~The Sound of Music~ that is about, among other things, "raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens".
"_My Favorite Things_"

This adjective describes the lines in an absorption spectrum, compared to the spectrum. Before the development of relativity theory and the discovery of black holes, this adjective was used to describe theoretical stars whose escape velocity was greater than the speed of light. This adjective describes matter that does not emit or interact with electromagnetic radiation, as well as a type of energy that explains why the expansion rate of the universe is increasing. Give this adjective used to describe most of the matter and energy in the universe, an antonym of "light".
_dark_ [accept _darker_]

\pg{Androgeos'}{an-droh-JEE-ohss'z} victories in this city's athletic games led to his rivals murdering him. One king of this city threw himself into the sea upon seeing his son's ships with black sails. \pg{Medea}{meh-DEE-uh} was driven out of this city following an attempt to poison the son of King \pg{Aegeus}{ee-JEE-uss}. This city was supposed to send people to Crete to be sacrificed to the \pg{Minotaur}{MIN-oh-tor}, but that practice ended when \pg{Theseus}{THEE-see-uss} killed the Minotaur. Poseidon offered this city a salt spring, but lost the naming rights to the goddess who offered an olive tree. Identify this Greek city named for the goddess of wisdom.
_Athens_, Greece [or _Athena_ or _Athenai_]

Many criticisms of this religion were made in ~Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk~, which was eventually discredited. People of this religion were the targets of the Nativist Riots of 1844 in Philadelphia. This was the religion of a prominent radio broadcaster heavily critical of Franklin Roosevelt, Charles Coughlin. This is the religion of Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden. Much of the resistance against this religion in U.S. history was tied to \pg{xenophobia}{zee-noh-FOH-bee-uh} against Irish immigrants. Name this religion of the 1928 Democratic presidential candidate, Al Smith, and the winner of the 1960 presidential election, John Kennedy.
Roman _Catholic_ism [prompt on _Christian_ity]
David Reinstein
PACE VP of Outreach, Head Writer and Editor for Scobol Solo and Masonics (Illinois), TD for New Trier Scobol Solo and New Trier Varsity, Writer for NAQT (2011-2017), IHSSBCA Board Member, IHSSBCA Chair (2004-2014), PACE Member, PACE President (2016-2018), New Trier Coach (1994-2011)
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Re: Common Link Questions

Post by Corry »

I don't have much to add here, except to say that I personally prefer the second group of questions you posted (i.e. the ones you described as "I don't know whether or not these questions count as common link").

To me, the clue structure in this second group feels far more organic - for instance, I could easily imagine most of the clues from that cotton tossup coming up in a single book about the history of cotton. Alternatively, I could easily envision all of the clues in the tossup on Spain coming up in a magazine article summarizing Spanish-American relations over the years. And etc. In my opinion, this is a desirable trait for tossups to have.

I've always found pure common link tossups (i.e. the first group) to feel somewhat contrived. They're all like, "hey man, name some random things about the color red." And I'm sitting around thinking, what is the connection between any of these clues? I don't think it's that interesting that both Pieter de Hooch and Rene Magritte happened to paint apples at some point in their lives. I do think it's interesting, however, to note the long history of anti-Catholic sentiment in the U.S., or how cotton played an extensive role in the late industrial economies of both the U.S. and Britain, or even the ubiquitousness of "My Favorite Things" in modern American culture. Those are common links worth making.
Corry Wang
Arcadia High School 2013
Amherst College 2017
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Re: Common Link Questions

Post by Cheynem »

While I agree that organic common links are more satisfying, I will say a major reason why common links exist is to put in some slightly harder clues or topics that you couldn't do a stand-alone tossup on by themselves--for instance, in your first group of poetry tossups, you couldn't ask about R.L. Stephenson (as a poet), James Wright, or Anne Sexton by themselves in most difficulties, but they (may, I don't know enough to judge if those clues are good) make good common-link lead-ins.
Mike Cheyne
Formerly U of Minnesota

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Re: Common Link Questions

Post by naan/steak-holding toll »

I generally agree with Corry's common link preferences, with the possible exception of "clever" common link ideas, but that's a personal indulgence. A question on "blue" clued mostly from blue dyes is a lot more satisfying to me than a question on "blue" clued from random paintings. I think another example worth discussing here would be using a common link to highlight a topic in an author's work (e.g. _1910s_ in W.B. Yeats poems, as Auroni did at TTIAC).
Will Alston
Bethesda Chevy Chase HS '12, Dartmouth '16, Columbia Business School '21
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