Announcing Qblitz

Packet databases and other quizbowl sites, apps, or software should be discussed here.
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Dominator
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Announcing Qblitz

Post by Dominator » Sat Dec 15, 2018 12:24 pm

Hello quizbowl community! I'm excited to announce the advent of Qblitz!

Qblitz is an online platform for playing quizbowl. It is asynchronous, allowing players to compete without the usual the constraints of time and space.

To understand the system, it's probably easiest to play the sample. The system reads questions to individual players and tracks when they buzzed. In a tournament setting, that information is used to determine who won their matches. Outside of a tournament, it can also be used to simulate matches that "didn't happen". Indeed, the statistical tracking is one of the most compelling features of the platform. Players can see how they (would have) fared against any other competitor and also compare their buzz points against the field.

Qblitz is hosting its first tournament, Qblitz Winter 1, at the end of January, with 2 more events to follow this school year. These events are intended for individual high school (or lower) players, but Qblitz plans to expand its offerings to incorporate team-based and open-level events in the future.

The Qblitz platform will also allow members of the quizbowl community to run their own events. Those could be for any level (MS, HS, JV, UG, open, etc.) and could range from a single round vanity packet to a multi-round tournament involving hundreds of competitors.

If you have any suggestions for how that should happen, please post here, PM me, or email Qblitz.
Dr. Noah Prince

Normal Community High School (2002)
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2004, 2007, 2008)

Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy - Scholastic Bowl coach (2009-2014), assistant coach (2014-2015), well wisher (2015-2016)
guy in San Diego (2016-present)
President of Qblitz (2018-present)

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vinteuil
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Re: Announcing Qblitz

Post by vinteuil » Sat Dec 15, 2018 12:44 pm

Comparing one player's buzzes in a vacuum to anybody else's does not really reflect how quizbowl is actually played. This is also a huge problem with people who try to conduct virtual games via detailed stats.

I assume the idea is "if a player knows a clue, they will buzz. The players that know earlier clues will therefore get more points regardless." This fails to take into account the fact that in-game knowledge comes with a degree of certainty.

We all know this; this is why the term "aggression" is widely used and understood in quizbowl discourse. But just to emphasize: a player may buzz several clues later than the first clue that causes them to think of the correct answer, because they estimate that 1) the other team will not beat them to it on the next clue and 2) there is a decent chance that they're confused and would thus prefer to get another clue or two as confirmation. (This is just one example of a very routine kind of strategic thinking.)

I am strongly against the idea of running actual competitive events on a platform so divorced from normal gameplay.
Jacob Reed
Chicago ~'25
Yale '17, '19
East Chapel Hill '13
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Re: Announcing Qblitz

Post by jonpin » Sat Dec 15, 2018 12:58 pm

This sounds like an interesting idea along the lines of the old Goldfish tournaments.

Having played the sample questions, I might encourage you to create a keyboard control for buzzing and submitting answers, if that's feasible.
Jon Pinyan
Coach, Bergen County Academies (NJ); former player for BCA (2000-03) and WUSTL (2003-07)
HSQB forum mod, PACE member
Stat director for: NSC '13-'15, '17; ACF '14, '17, '19; NHBB '13-'15; NASAT '11

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Re: Announcing Qblitz

Post by Dominator » Sat Dec 15, 2018 1:49 pm

jonpin wrote:
Sat Dec 15, 2018 12:58 pm
Having played the sample questions, I might encourage you to create a keyboard control for buzzing and submitting answers, if that's feasible.
That's a good suggestion. I'll add it to my list.

FWIW, submitting answers via button is not strictly necessary. Once the time runs out, whatever's in the box gets submitted.
Dr. Noah Prince

Normal Community High School (2002)
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2004, 2007, 2008)

Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy - Scholastic Bowl coach (2009-2014), assistant coach (2014-2015), well wisher (2015-2016)
guy in San Diego (2016-present)
President of Qblitz (2018-present)

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John Ketzkorn
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Re: Announcing Qblitz

Post by John Ketzkorn » Sat Dec 15, 2018 4:14 pm

vinteuil wrote:
Sat Dec 15, 2018 12:44 pm
I am strongly against the idea of running actual competitive events on a platform so divorced from normal gameplay.
"Pure quizbowl" has a strategic value to it that you don't get in online asynchronous games, but that doesn't mean we should never hold these kind of events. There are plenty of quiz bowlers who are into Learned League and likely would enjoy an online platform that doesn't require the stressors of spending money and time travelling. Also as of now, this seems to be targeted to individual high school players which seems like a good starting target audience.

General good advice here: don't bash ideas simply because they don't stand to tradition.
Michael Etzkorn
Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy '16
UIUC '21

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Re: Announcing Qblitz

Post by Dominator » Wed Dec 19, 2018 9:04 pm

Thanks to the 100-ish people who went in and played the sample set! Anyone playing the sample will see that we've implemented jonpin's advice
jonpin wrote:
Sat Dec 15, 2018 12:58 pm
Having played the sample questions, I might encourage you to create a keyboard control for buzzing and submitting answers, if that's feasible.
and made the Buzz and Submit buttons respond to the Enter key as well as mouse click.

If you haven't tried the sample set yet, please do. If you have, I'd like to welcome you to a stats page we made. THIS PAGE WILL SPOIL THE SAMPLE SET, so make sure to play it first.

Caveat: the sample questions are not really secure in any way, and people are able to play the sample set multiple times, which may explain some of the ridiculously early correct buzzes on some of the questions. There are a couple extra layers of question security for actual Qblitz tournaments, so the data we got from those will be more pure. Those issues aside, I think the shape of the graph still tells some interesting stories.

Please let us know what you think!
Dr. Noah Prince

Normal Community High School (2002)
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2004, 2007, 2008)

Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy - Scholastic Bowl coach (2009-2014), assistant coach (2014-2015), well wisher (2015-2016)
guy in San Diego (2016-present)
President of Qblitz (2018-present)

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Corry
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Re: Announcing Qblitz

Post by Corry » Wed Dec 19, 2018 9:45 pm

This sounds like a really cool idea! Will be interested to see how things progress.

One quick comment after playing the sample: it'd be nice to get real-time feedback on whether you were right/wrong per tossup, rather than waiting until the end of the sample to know your score.
Corry Wang
Arcadia High School 2013
Amherst College 2017
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Re: Announcing Qblitz

Post by Dominator » Sun Dec 23, 2018 12:35 pm

Corry wrote:
Wed Dec 19, 2018 9:45 pm
One quick comment after playing the sample: it'd be nice to get real-time feedback on whether you were right/wrong per tossup, rather than waiting until the end of the sample to know your score.
Thanks for the feedback.

I'm interested to see if other people agree, or whether they'd find it slowed down the game or found it distracting. I could see someone having a harder time focusing on the next question if they had just seen that their epic buzz was actually a neg.

I don't have a strong opinion on this issue, and we can definitely build out the experience either way, so if you do have an opinion, please share.
Dr. Noah Prince

Normal Community High School (2002)
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2004, 2007, 2008)

Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy - Scholastic Bowl coach (2009-2014), assistant coach (2014-2015), well wisher (2015-2016)
guy in San Diego (2016-present)
President of Qblitz (2018-present)

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TylerV
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Re: Announcing Qblitz

Post by TylerV » Mon Dec 24, 2018 5:16 am

Dominator wrote:
Sun Dec 23, 2018 12:35 pm
Corry wrote:
Wed Dec 19, 2018 9:45 pm
One quick comment after playing the sample: it'd be nice to get real-time feedback on whether you were right/wrong per tossup, rather than waiting until the end of the sample to know your score.
Thanks for the feedback.

I'm interested to see if other people agree, or whether they'd find it slowed down the game or found it distracting. I could see someone having a harder time focusing on the next question if they had just seen that their epic buzz was actually a neg.

I don't have a strong opinion on this issue, and we can definitely build out the experience either way, so if you do have an opinion, please share.
I definitely initially found it odd that I wasn't immediately given an answer but shrugged it off and assumed it would come at the end. Personally, I would enjoy it more if the answer was given right away but I don't think it is a critical issue.

On another note, is it possible to have a message along the lines of "Your results are being tabulated" after finishing a set of questions? After I finished the sample I thought I broke something because my window just sat there and froze a bit.

Additionally, I see that the question number is at the top of every question as it is read, but maybe an "Question: XX/XX" somewhere on the screen might be useful as well?

I can't remember if I've told you this personally, but this is super cool and I had a fun time going through the sample questions.
Tyler Vaughan
UW-Platteville, Rock Valley, UIUC 2014-2017
International Academic Competitions

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Re: Announcing Qblitz

Post by Dominator » Fri Dec 28, 2018 4:50 pm

TylerV wrote:
Mon Dec 24, 2018 5:16 am
I definitely initially found it odd that I wasn't immediately given an answer but shrugged it off and assumed it would come at the end. Personally, I would enjoy it more if the answer was given right away but I don't think it is a critical issue.

On another note, is it possible to have a message along the lines of "Your results are being tabulated" after finishing a set of questions? After I finished the sample I thought I broke something because my window just sat there and froze a bit.

Additionally, I see that the question number is at the top of every question as it is read, but maybe an "Question: XX/XX" somewhere on the screen might be useful as well?

I can't remember if I've told you this personally, but this is super cool and I had a fun time going through the sample questions.
Thanks, Tyler! These are all great suggestions. I'll plan on implementing them soon.

I'm a little unsure of what you meant in your second point, though. When it looked frozen, was that before or after it gave you a summary of your answers and buzz times?
Dr. Noah Prince

Normal Community High School (2002)
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2004, 2007, 2008)

Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy - Scholastic Bowl coach (2009-2014), assistant coach (2014-2015), well wisher (2015-2016)
guy in San Diego (2016-present)
President of Qblitz (2018-present)

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iluvgsokolov
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Re: Announcing Qblitz

Post by iluvgsokolov » Sat Dec 29, 2018 12:44 am

It would be really nice to be able to increase the speed at which the question appears, but the platform itself seems great

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Re: Announcing Qblitz

Post by Dominator » Sun Dec 30, 2018 10:37 pm

iluvgsokolov wrote:
Sat Dec 29, 2018 12:44 am
It would be really nice to be able to increase the speed at which the question appears, but the platform itself seems great
Thanks for the kind words!

Do other people agree about speed? When I experimented with speeding the reading up, I felt that I could comfortable go a little faster, but not much. I left the speed where it is because I figured some players wouldn't be as comfortable with a higher one. I'm not opposed to changing the speed, but I'd want more of a consensus to form before doing so.
Dr. Noah Prince

Normal Community High School (2002)
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2004, 2007, 2008)

Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy - Scholastic Bowl coach (2009-2014), assistant coach (2014-2015), well wisher (2015-2016)
guy in San Diego (2016-present)
President of Qblitz (2018-present)

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Re: Announcing Qblitz

Post by TylerV » Mon Dec 31, 2018 3:28 am

Dominator wrote:
Fri Dec 28, 2018 4:50 pm
TylerV wrote:
Mon Dec 24, 2018 5:16 am
I definitely initially found it odd that I wasn't immediately given an answer but shrugged it off and assumed it would come at the end. Personally, I would enjoy it more if the answer was given right away but I don't think it is a critical issue.

On another note, is it possible to have a message along the lines of "Your results are being tabulated" after finishing a set of questions? After I finished the sample I thought I broke something because my window just sat there and froze a bit.

Additionally, I see that the question number is at the top of every question as it is read, but maybe an "Question: XX/XX" somewhere on the screen might be useful as well?

I can't remember if I've told you this personally, but this is super cool and I had a fun time going through the sample questions.
Thanks, Tyler! These are all great suggestions. I'll plan on implementing them soon.

I'm a little unsure of what you meant in your second point, though. When it looked frozen, was that before or after it gave you a summary of your answers and buzz times?
After finishing the five questions, but before the results were displayed, my webpage acted as if it was locked up, that being said I only did the sample once so I don't know if it was a universal experience.

As for the speed, I considered mentioning having a slider, like protobowl, but if there is only ever going to be one speed I think where it currently is fine.
Tyler Vaughan
UW-Platteville, Rock Valley, UIUC 2014-2017
International Academic Competitions

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Re: Announcing Qblitz

Post by troyharris » Wed Jan 02, 2019 6:03 pm

Why does the sample just keep repeating question one over and over? Am I missing something? Also, agreed, the speed needs to be increased.
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Re: Announcing Qblitz

Post by Dominator » Thu Jan 03, 2019 10:49 am

troyharris wrote:
Wed Jan 02, 2019 6:03 pm
Why does the sample just keep repeating question one over and over? Am I missing something? Also, agreed, the speed needs to be increased.
No, you're not missing something. Apparently that error was due to a bug in a recent update. It's working properly now.

Thanks for pointing that out!
Dr. Noah Prince

Normal Community High School (2002)
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2004, 2007, 2008)

Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy - Scholastic Bowl coach (2009-2014), assistant coach (2014-2015), well wisher (2015-2016)
guy in San Diego (2016-present)
President of Qblitz (2018-present)

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Re: Announcing Qblitz

Post by Dominator » Fri Jan 04, 2019 8:41 pm

Hey everyone! If you've already played the sample set, please go rate the questions. You'll be able to see rating and conversion statistics there. You will need to log in for this feature though, so if you haven't created an account yet, now would be a good time.
Dr. Noah Prince

Normal Community High School (2002)
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2004, 2007, 2008)

Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy - Scholastic Bowl coach (2009-2014), assistant coach (2014-2015), well wisher (2015-2016)
guy in San Diego (2016-present)
President of Qblitz (2018-present)

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Re: Announcing Qblitz

Post by Dominator » Sat Jan 12, 2019 1:49 pm

One of my favorite features of Qblitz is the ability to simulate matches between any two players. Here is a sample of what that looks like based on two players who completed the sample set. If anyone has any suggestions about how to display these "matches", please let me know.
Dr. Noah Prince

Normal Community High School (2002)
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2004, 2007, 2008)

Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy - Scholastic Bowl coach (2009-2014), assistant coach (2014-2015), well wisher (2015-2016)
guy in San Diego (2016-present)
President of Qblitz (2018-present)

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Re: Announcing Qblitz

Post by jonpin » Wed Apr 24, 2019 3:02 pm

As I'm using this for the QANTA League, I find it as a useful resource and a fun game. A couple observations/questions, though:
* Is it intentional that the answer is not provided after each question?
* Is there a possibility to insert a "pause" feature between questions? If something came up while I was on question 5, I would have no ability to pause the game, and thus if I, say, had to answer the phone or a doorbell, questions 6-7-8-etc. would stream by without me having a chance to hit the brakes.
* Along the same lines, if someone suffers a connection or computer issue while in the middle of a round, is there an ability for them to resume the round later, or are they just toast for the rest of the packet?
Jon Pinyan
Coach, Bergen County Academies (NJ); former player for BCA (2000-03) and WUSTL (2003-07)
HSQB forum mod, PACE member
Stat director for: NSC '13-'15, '17; ACF '14, '17, '19; NHBB '13-'15; NASAT '11

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Re: Announcing Qblitz

Post by Dominator » Wed Apr 24, 2019 7:50 pm

jonpin wrote:
Wed Apr 24, 2019 3:02 pm
As I'm using this for the QANTA League, I find it as a useful resource and a fun game. A couple observations/questions, though:
* Is it intentional that the answer is not provided after each question?
* Is there a possibility to insert a "pause" feature between questions? If something came up while I was on question 5, I would have no ability to pause the game, and thus if I, say, had to answer the phone or a doorbell, questions 6-7-8-etc. would stream by without me having a chance to hit the brakes.
* Along the same lines, if someone suffers a connection or computer issue while in the middle of a round, is there an ability for them to resume the round later, or are they just toast for the rest of the packet?
Thanks for the feedback! I’m glad you’re enjoying your tournament so far.

As to your questions:
* Intentional? Yes. Permanent? Not necessarily. There are security and user experience issues tied into this decision, so any change will come in the off-season once we’ve considered all options. But since this is a common request, it’ll be at the top of our list.
* That is an interesting idea. I think we should be able to make that happen.
* Yes. The round will resume with the first question not yet seen, so long as they return during the competition window.
Dr. Noah Prince

Normal Community High School (2002)
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2004, 2007, 2008)

Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy - Scholastic Bowl coach (2009-2014), assistant coach (2014-2015), well wisher (2015-2016)
guy in San Diego (2016-present)
President of Qblitz (2018-present)

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