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Paired Tossups and Bonuses

Posted: Mon Aug 05, 2019 10:14 pm
by Milhouse
Split from Parsing Answerlines thread - Mgmt.

At the risk both of iconoclasm and derailing this thread, surely the simplest significant quality-of-life improvement to be made in quizbowl packets would be to put bonuses between tossups and have the bonuses associated with dead tossups be skipped; this would both prevent readers from having to switch back and forth between sections of the packet (also meaning that for SCT or other tournaments where teams are given physical packets they may not have to re-staple them), make tossup-bonus feng-shui issues be easier to detect (and eliminate issues where bonus N has issues with tossup N+X that are only apparent if X tossups go dead), and prevent the (possibly merely imagined by me) temptation of putting worse bonuses at the end of packets where they are less likely to be heard by teams. I can imagine objections relating to making it easier for people to study just tossups or just bonuses, or that there are other issues regarding packetization or set production that I, never having done those things, am unaware of, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a clear argument for why bonuses are not skipped.

Re: Faster (Human) Parsing of Answer Lines

Posted: Tue Aug 06, 2019 11:34 am
by Mike Bentley
Milhouse wrote:
Mon Aug 05, 2019 10:14 pm
At the risk both of iconoclasm and derailing this thread, surely the simplest significant quality-of-life improvement to be made in quizbowl packets would be to put bonuses between tossups and have the bonuses associated with dead tossups be skipped; this would both prevent readers from having to switch back and forth between sections of the packet (also meaning that for SCT or other tournaments where teams are given physical packets they may not have to re-staple them), make tossup-bonus feng-shui issues be easier to detect (and eliminate issues where bonus N has issues with tossup N+X that are only apparent if X tossups go dead), and prevent the (possibly merely imagined by me) temptation of putting worse bonuses at the end of packets where they are less likely to be heard by teams. I can imagine objections relating to making it easier for people to study just tossups or just bonuses, or that there are other issues regarding packetization or set production that I, never having done those things, am unaware of, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a clear argument for why bonuses are not skipped.
If you skip bonuses, you can end up with a round where, say, no science bonuses are read because you just happened to miss the tossups with those bonuses. While I would personally see that as a net positive, science players likely wouldn't be very happy. Yes, the same thing could happen if you randomized the packet such that the last 4 bonuses were all science, but in practice no one does that.

Although it is interesting that modern quizbowl has (apart from a few side events) decoupled the tossup subject from the bonus. In quizbowl-adjacent activities such as game shows and bad local high school formats of yesteryear, bonuses were often a reward to see how deep you can go after getting the initial question. Perhaps the pyramidal tossup makes that redundant. But maybe a tournament should experiment with paired tossup/bonuses categories (specific subjects probably being too much of a pain).

Re: Faster (Human) Parsing of Answer Lines

Posted: Tue Aug 06, 2019 12:29 pm
by Irreligion in Bangladesh
Milhouse wrote:
Mon Aug 05, 2019 10:14 pm
At the risk both of iconoclasm and derailing this thread, surely the simplest significant quality-of-life improvement to be made in quizbowl packets would be to put bonuses between tossups and have the bonuses associated with dead tossups be skipped; this would both prevent readers from having to switch back and forth between sections of the packet (also meaning that for SCT or other tournaments where teams are given physical packets they may not have to re-staple them), make tossup-bonus feng-shui issues be easier to detect (and eliminate issues where bonus N has issues with tossup N+X that are only apparent if X tossups go dead), and prevent the (possibly merely imagined by me) temptation of putting worse bonuses at the end of packets where they are less likely to be heard by teams. I can imagine objections relating to making it easier for people to study just tossups or just bonuses, or that there are other issues regarding packetization or set production that I, never having done those things, am unaware of, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a clear argument for why bonuses are not skipped.
The IHSA does this, and for the reason Mike noted and a few others, I wish they didn't.

When tossups & bonuses are paired, the head editor has to make official decisions as to wish bonuses are tied with which tossups; when they aren't paired, the vagaries of randomly missed questions relieve the head editor of that burden, and any perceived faults get chalked up to chance. If bonuses are paired, you invent the feng shui problem of "am I going to give this history tossup a history bonus on purpose?" If you decide that's a problem - and the IHSA did decide that, and forbids category/category matchups - you then have to A: do the work of looking through your randomized question assignment and checking all your pairs, and B: make the judgment call of what questions to swap. Now, instead of worrying about the temptation to bury bad bonuses at the back, it would be burying them on (the hardest tossups/the tossups you like the least/early tossups so it doesn't feel like the bonuses influence the final outcome of the game/whatever bad justification you like instead). If you don't decide that's a problem, you open yourself up to intentionally bad feng shui & claims of bias (hyperbole, but think "we were doomed, they paired all the science with science and gave literature bonuses to all the history tossups, so we had 10 PPB and they had 30"). Either way, I think it's better to leave them unpaired.

Mike noted the experiment of intentionally pairing TU/B categories - USABB does this, and I don't particularly like it; I think it artificially increases bonus conversion. If you want a "normal"-feeling game of quizbowl, you have to increase bonus difficulty, and at the MS level, that's unwise. Obviously, it's a different story in, say, a side event at a summer weekend event.

Re: Faster (Human) Parsing of Answer Lines

Posted: Tue Aug 06, 2019 12:50 pm
by Milhouse
Yeah, both of those sets of arguments are reasonable. Thanks!

Re: Faster (Human) Parsing of Answer Lines

Posted: Tue Aug 06, 2019 4:25 pm
by QuestionCactus
Mike Bentley wrote:
Mon Aug 05, 2019 6:45 pm
I think it would be an interesting exercise for someone to do a top-down review of the quizbowl packet / scoresheet from a design perspective.
Milhouse wrote:
Mon Aug 05, 2019 10:14 pm
At the risk both of iconoclasm and derailing this thread, surely the simplest significant quality-of-life improvement to be made in quizbowl packets would be to put bonuses between tossups
When I was writing a packet for a brief side-event-type thing at HSNCT, I divided the layout into two columns with the tossups on the left and bonuses on the right: https://quizbowlpackets.com/2326/Latin-Packet-I.pdf (note that because the bonuses were slightly longer than the tossups, they would have outrun them if I hadn't made some manual adjustments).

I think this format is visually appealing and easy to read, and much more space-efficient than the current standard design.

Re: Faster (Human) Parsing of Answer Lines

Posted: Tue Aug 06, 2019 7:35 pm
by vinteuil
I personally find this formatting extremely cramped and unnatural to read. (I have a lot of trouble with double-column text in general)

Re: Faster (Human) Parsing of Answer Lines

Posted: Tue Aug 06, 2019 7:41 pm
by Cheynem
Yeah, I'm not sure on the benefit of that, especially if you're following normal conventions of not linking the tossups to the bonuses.

Re: Paired Tossups and Bonuses

Posted: Mon Sep 09, 2019 1:58 pm
by the return of AHAN
I've long maintained that pairing TU/bonuses usually has the unintended consequence of having MORE bonuses in categories where the toss-up is missed, since writers strive to ask about something other than the TU category. So, in a 24 TU match, if 4 math TU go dead because both teams are weak at math, math becomes THE most asked about bonus topic.

Re: Paired Tossups and Bonuses

Posted: Tue Sep 10, 2019 10:00 am
by btressler
One of TJ's tournaments (the one that used to be MLK weekend I believe) used to do this. If you answered a tossup on say Alexander the Great, you got a bonus about the lands he conquered. Or perhaps films about Alexander.

I wouldn't want it every week, but I kinda liked it.

Re: Paired Tossups and Bonuses

Posted: Tue Sep 10, 2019 10:09 am
by Haaaaaaaarry Whiiiiiiiiiite
btressler wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 10:00 am
One of TJ's tournaments (the one that used to be MLK weekend I believe) used to do this. If you answered a tossup on say Alexander the Great, you got a bonus about the lands he conquered. Or perhaps films about Alexander.

I wouldn't want it every week, but I kinda liked it.
The major problem having tossups and bonuses linked that much was that you had to take away potential clues from the bonus. It was a neat idea in theory, but the execution left a lot to be desired.