Beyond the canon...

Dormant threads from the high school sections are preserved here.
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Beyond the canon...

Post by Great Bustard » Sun Feb 26, 2012 9:29 pm

So, as a follow up to the ongoing canon thread, here's a more general query: what subjects or specific topics do people feel are currently underrepresented in quizbowl? I'll come right out and say that modern Indian and Chinese culture and history should probably be asked about more than it is. Not that I myself know a whole lot here, but like most US high school students, I got through 4 years of high school without reading any Japanese lit, and that hasn't stopped the tsunami of Mishima, Kawabata, Murakami, et al. Off the top of my head, though, I can't think of any Indian (i.e. not Indian-American, Indian-British, Indian-Trinidadian) author other than Tagore and can't think of any modern Chinese author at all. That seems like a problem.
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Re: Beyond the canon...

Post by cornfused » Sun Feb 26, 2012 9:41 pm

Roy, Seth, and Lahiri.
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Re: Beyond the canon...

Post by Cheynem » Sun Feb 26, 2012 9:44 pm

I would like to see more questions on serial killers.
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Re: Beyond the canon...

Post by Adventure Temple Trail » Sun Feb 26, 2012 9:46 pm

cornfused wrote:Lahiri...
Lahiri is American. She moved to America at age three from England.

Also, there was certainly a wave of (likely inappropriately-hard) modern Chinese literature in high school quizbowl going up to at least a year or two ago, particularly Lu Xun and Gao Xingjian.
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Re: Beyond the canon...

Post by The King's Flight to the Scots » Sun Feb 26, 2012 9:49 pm

I pretty much disagree. Lots of modern Indian and Chinese authors come up at the levels where it's appropriate to ask about them. Japanese literature has been overrepresented in quizbowl for a while, but the backlash against that has been going on for years now, and people have legitimately heard of the Mishima suicide.

I'm not sure if you're considering Rushdie as "Indian British," but he certainly writes plenty about India and Pakistan, so I wouldn't cut him out.
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Re: Beyond the canon...

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Sun Feb 26, 2012 10:06 pm

nationalhistorybeeandbowl wrote:Off the top of my head, though, I can't think of any Indian (i.e. not Indian-American, Indian-British, Indian-Trinidadian) author other than Tagore and can't think of any modern Chinese author at all. That seems like a problem.
I'd offer noted Nobel-winner Gao Xingjian for the latter and Arundhati Roy (or maybe someone like Aravind Adiga, who just won the Booker a couple years ago and could theoretically pop up from time to time in high school) for the former. (Seth and Lahiri, while generally accessible and Indian in both heritage and common literary subject, are Indian-British and Bengali-American, which apparently make them illegitimate for this discussion, for some reason.) I'm a bit confused by the argument here, though--can you name any other modern Indian or Chinese writers who are famous enough in this country to actually merit coming up regularly in high school quizbowl? While the quizbowl obsession with Japan and the relative difficulty of world lit are both acknowledged problems that are being increasingly dealt with, there's nothing inherently wrong with any of the Japanese authors you cited coming up--Kawabata won the Nobel; Mishima probably should have and regardless is famous in his own right; Murakami is very popular, especially among younger people, and is still writing.

I'm not really convinced that the India/China "gap" is a problem that high school quizbowl should really feel obligated to solve--filling tournaments with unconverted question after unconverted question on ostensibly important things is much worse than simply asking on what people know, even if the latter happens to underrepresent some areas of the world.

That said, I actually do agree with Mike--some more, I don't know what you want to call it, "pop-type history" isn't a bad idea, if written well and used judiciously.
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Re: Beyond the canon...

Post by jonah » Sun Feb 26, 2012 10:13 pm

In most sets I have read recently, the religion distribution seems to give about equal weight to all religions. While this makes sense from the standpoint of inclusiveness, and while I have certainly enjoyed learning a bit about some unfamiliar religions, I think that newer players' enjoyment of the game and conversion rates across the board could be improved by asking more questions on Christianity (including the Bible). The fact is, most people know way more about Christianity than they do about Zoroastrianism, so there is much more that can be asked about Christianity and related topics without making questions inordinately hard.
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Re: Beyond the canon...

Post by mtimmons » Mon Feb 27, 2012 12:01 am

Maybe these things aren't as well known as I think they are but stuff like Deng Xiaopeng and Special Economic Zones from Post-Mao China are incredibly important recent history don't come up very often but are extremely important. In general, I think recent (post 1980 or so) history is underrepresented in history even though some of the greatest societal transformations have happened during this period.

Also are there are really sets that give equal weight to Christianity and Zoroastrianism?
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Re: Beyond the canon...

Post by naturalistic phallacy » Mon Feb 27, 2012 12:15 am

Cheynem wrote:I would like to see more questions on serial killers.
Honestly, yes.
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Re: Beyond the canon...

Post by Scaled Flowerpiercer » Mon Feb 27, 2012 12:39 am

mtimmons wrote: Also are there are really sets that give equal weight to Christianity and Zoroastrianism?
While this might be a slight exaggeration in the sense that it is probably more like "Christianity will take up 1 question and Zoroastrianism will take up at most 1," this pretty much is the case in some tournaments. I do agree that this is certainly a good example of quizbowl getting a bit too far away from "asking about things people know." While we do not need to have tons of bible bowl going around, I think it is completely reasonable to expect that Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are asked about more often than Baha'i or Sikhism or Santeria, as they are more well known and, in the sense that they are practiced by more people, are more "important."
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Re: Beyond the canon...

Post by Black-throated Antshrike » Mon Feb 27, 2012 1:29 am

nationalhistorybeeandbowl wrote:can't think of any modern Chinese author at all
I have an entire shelf of modern and post-modern Chinese and Japanese literature, in case you wanted to see any of these. One of the biggest people in China right now is Yu Hua.
Ukonvasara wrote:Murakami is very popular, especially among younger people, and is still writing.
Murokami is absolutely amazing and I can't wait for his next book. He comes up all the time and his works are read at all levels. I read A Wild Sheep's Chase, in my senior lit class.
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Re: Beyond the canon...

Post by jonah » Mon Feb 27, 2012 1:39 am

SrgtDonow wrote:While this might be a slight exaggeration in the sense that it is probably more like "Christianity will take up 1 question and Zoroastrianism will take up at most 1," this pretty much is the case in some tournaments. I do agree that this is certainly a good example of quizbowl getting a bit too far away from "asking about things people know." While we do not need to have tons of bible bowl going around, I think it is completely reasonable to expect that Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are asked about more often than Baha'i or Sikhism or Santeria, as they are more well known and, in the sense that they are practiced by more people, are more "important."
Exactly this is my opinion — and of those Abrahamic religions, more Christianity than Islam or Judaism.
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Re: Beyond the canon...

Post by Black-throated Antshrike » Mon Feb 27, 2012 1:50 am

jonah wrote:In most sets I have read recently, the religion distribution seems to give about equal weight to all religions. While this makes sense from the standpoint of inclusiveness, and while I have certainly enjoyed learning a bit about some unfamiliar religions, I think that newer players' enjoyment of the game and conversion rates across the board could be improved by asking more questions on Christianity (including the Bible). The fact is, most people know way more about Christianity than they do about Zoroastrianism, so there is much more that can be asked about Christianity and related topics without making questions inordinately hard.
I actually don't know how accurate this is. I can tell you that I know very little about Christianity, while I know much more about other world religions. Granted this is a pretty small sample size. I would be interested in hearing what other people say about this matter.
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Re: Beyond the canon...

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Mon Feb 27, 2012 4:31 am

Andrew Jackson's Compatriot wrote:
jonah wrote:In most sets I have read recently, the religion distribution seems to give about equal weight to all religions. While this makes sense from the standpoint of inclusiveness, and while I have certainly enjoyed learning a bit about some unfamiliar religions, I think that newer players' enjoyment of the game and conversion rates across the board could be improved by asking more questions on Christianity (including the Bible). The fact is, most people know way more about Christianity than they do about Zoroastrianism, so there is much more that can be asked about Christianity and related topics without making questions inordinately hard.
I actually don't know how accurate this is. I can tell you that I know very little about Christianity, while I know much more about other world religions. Granted this is a pretty small sample size. I would be interested in hearing what other people say about this matter.
Uh, most people playing quizbowl are raised Christian, you do know that right? By default that sort of means a lot of people are going to know that stuff, and most people aren't going to know things about other religions.
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Re: Beyond the canon...

Post by Nine-Tenths Ideas » Mon Feb 27, 2012 4:33 am

I actually only know more about the author Ring Lardner than any other author. Granted, this is a pretty small sample size, but I hope to see at least 1/1 Lardner in tournaments from here on out.
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Re: Beyond the canon...

Post by Kilroy Was Here » Mon Feb 27, 2012 9:06 am

I've always thought that Byzantine History is completely underrepresented.
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Re: Beyond the canon...

Post by The King's Flight to the Scots » Mon Feb 27, 2012 10:44 am

Byzantine history is way too hard for high schoolers outside of a few obvious answers. I'd say the same thing about post-Mao China: there are a couple things you could ask about, but even Deng is really pushing it as a tossup (and got poor conversion numbers last time he was tossed up, as I recall). In general, whether something could be called "important" isn't terribly meaningful as to whether it should come up in high school quizbowl, and I hope nobody takes ideas for questions from this thread.
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Re: Beyond the canon...

Post by Kilroy Was Here » Mon Feb 27, 2012 11:11 am

Cernel Joson wrote:Byzantine history is way too hard for high schoolers outside of a few obvious answers. I'd say the same thing about post-Mao China: there are a couple things you could ask about, but even Deng is really pushing it as a tossup (and got poor conversion numbers last time he was tossed up, as I recall). In general, whether something could be called "important" isn't terribly meaningful as to whether it should come up in high school quizbowl, and I hope nobody takes ideas for questions from this thread.
It's hard right now because it's not part of the cannon. There aren't that many important people in it (Heraclius, Irene, and the other Komnemus emperors). If they were to be introduced initially as bonus parts, people would learn them and boom, a major part of European history is in the cannon. I disagree with you on importance though. Important things, in my opinion, should receive a great proportion of toss ups, as opposed to toss ups on things like the War of Jenkins ear, which in reality had little affect on the greater war and only receives toss ups because of it's unusual name and a possible mention in a AP Euro class.
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Re: Beyond the canon...

Post by Cody » Mon Feb 27, 2012 11:50 am

TheBulgarSlayer wrote:It's hard right now because it's not part of the cannon. There aren't that many important people in it (Heraclius, Irene, and the other Komnemus emperors). If they were to be introduced initially as bonus parts, people would learn them and boom, a major part of European history is in the cannon. I disagree with you on importance though. Important things, in my opinion, should receive a great proportion of toss ups, as opposed to toss ups on things like the War of Jenkins ear, which in reality had little affect on the greater war and only receives toss ups because of it's unusual name and a possible mention in a AP Euro class.
This attitude is incredibly harmful to the growth of good quizbowl. Matt Weiner presents a succinct argument against such foolishness in the "The Canon" thread: http://www.hsquizbowl.org/forums/viewto ... 86#p237240
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Re: Beyond the canon...

Post by Steeve Ho You Fat » Mon Feb 27, 2012 11:54 am

TheBulgarSlayer wrote:
Cernel Joson wrote:Byzantine history is way too hard for high schoolers outside of a few obvious answers. I'd say the same thing about post-Mao China: there are a couple things you could ask about, but even Deng is really pushing it as a tossup (and got poor conversion numbers last time he was tossed up, as I recall). In general, whether something could be called "important" isn't terribly meaningful as to whether it should come up in high school quizbowl, and I hope nobody takes ideas for questions from this thread.
It's hard right now because it's not part of the cannon. There aren't that many important people in it (Heraclius, Irene, and the other Komnemus emperors). If they were to be introduced initially as bonus parts, people would learn them and boom, a major part of European history is in the cannon. I disagree with you on importance though. Important things, in my opinion, should receive a great proportion of toss ups, as opposed to toss ups on things like the War of Jenkins ear, which in reality had little affect on the greater war and only receives toss ups because of it's unusual name and a possible mention in a AP Euro class.
No, Byzantine History is hard because noone ever learns it. The idea that things are easy because they get asked about a lot is probably one of the biggest reasons why high school quizbowl has become too hard for non-expert teams. Noone mentions any Byzantine history at all in any high school class, and no high schooler ever learns Byzantine history. And that's coming from someone who really enjoys Byzantine history and wishes there were more college questions about it, where people might actually know things about it and not just sit there with their mouths open repeating Justinian.

EDIT: Yeah, what Cody/Matt said.
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Re: Beyond the canon...

Post by Adventure Temple Trail » Mon Feb 27, 2012 11:56 am

I dislike that this thread has essentially become an open wish-list of people asking for things that they like to come up more.
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Re: Beyond the canon...

Post by Cheynem » Mon Feb 27, 2012 12:13 pm

Isn't that exactly what Dave intended it to be? (which, no, I don't think is a good thing)

Also, almost every post here is sarcastic, I think.
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Re: Beyond the canon...

Post by tintinnabulation » Mon Feb 27, 2012 12:37 pm

TheBulgarSlayer wrote: It's hard right now because it's not part of the cannon. There aren't that many important people in it (Heraclius, Irene, and the other Komnemus emperors). If they were to be introduced initially as bonus parts, people would learn them and boom, a major part of European history is in the cannon. I disagree with you on importance though. Important things, in my opinion, should receive a great proportion of toss ups, as opposed to toss ups on things like the War of Jenkins ear, which in reality had little affect on the greater war and only receives toss ups because of it's unusual name and a possible mention in a AP Euro class.
War of Jenkins' Ear came up in my APUSH class and I'm willing to bet a bunch of other APUSH people heard of it, too.

And I don't think we should be basing canon on things we learn in HS classes. I've barely learned anything in quizbowl from classes I've taken.
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Re: Beyond the canon...

Post by Kilroy Was Here » Mon Feb 27, 2012 1:01 pm

tintinnabulation wrote:
TheBulgarSlayer wrote: It's hard right now because it's not part of the cannon. There aren't that many important people in it (Heraclius, Irene, and the other Komnemus emperors). If they were to be introduced initially as bonus parts, people would learn them and boom, a major part of European history is in the cannon. I disagree with you on importance though. Important things, in my opinion, should receive a great proportion of toss ups, as opposed to toss ups on things like the War of Jenkins ear, which in reality had little affect on the greater war and only receives toss ups because of it's unusual name and a possible mention in a AP Euro class.
War of Jenkins' Ear came up in my APUSH class and I'm willing to bet a bunch of other APUSH people heard of it, too.

And I don't think we should be basing canon on things we learn in HS classes. I've barely learned anything in quizbowl from classes I've taken.
Exactly. That mentality is what prevents people and things of great historical significance ( Charles the Bold, Irene ETC) from receiving toss ups.
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Re: Beyond the canon...

Post by Mewto55555 » Mon Feb 27, 2012 1:08 pm

TheBulgarSlayer wrote:
tintinnabulation wrote:
TheBulgarSlayer wrote: It's hard right now because it's not part of the cannon. There aren't that many important people in it (Heraclius, Irene, and the other Komnemus emperors). If they were to be introduced initially as bonus parts, people would learn them and boom, a major part of European history is in the cannon. I disagree with you on importance though. Important things, in my opinion, should receive a great proportion of toss ups, as opposed to toss ups on things like the War of Jenkins ear, which in reality had little affect on the greater war and only receives toss ups because of it's unusual name and a possible mention in a AP Euro class.
War of Jenkins' Ear came up in my APUSH class and I'm willing to bet a bunch of other APUSH people heard of it, too.

And I don't think we should be basing canon on things we learn in HS classes. I've barely learned anything in quizbowl from classes I've taken.
Exactly. That mentality is what prevents people and things of great historical significance ( Charles the Bold, Irene ETC) from receiving toss ups.
I'd imagine that the mentality that prevents Charles the Bold from being tossed up is the "we want teams to actually answer tossups, so let's tossup difficulty-appropriate answer lines" mentality.
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Re: Beyond the canon...

Post by Kilroy Was Here » Mon Feb 27, 2012 1:12 pm

SirT wrote:
TheBulgarSlayer wrote:It's hard right now because it's not part of the cannon. There aren't that many important people in it (Heraclius, Irene, and the other Komnemus emperors). If they were to be introduced initially as bonus parts, people would learn them and boom, a major part of European history is in the cannon. I disagree with you on importance though. Important things, in my opinion, should receive a great proportion of toss ups, as opposed to toss ups on things like the War of Jenkins ear, which in reality had little affect on the greater war and only receives toss ups because of it's unusual name and a possible mention in a AP Euro class.
This attitude is incredibly harmful to the growth of good quizbowl. Matt Weiner presents a succinct argument against such foolishness in the "The Canon" thread: http://www.hsquizbowl.org/forums/viewto ... 86#p237240
That's another thing. I don't think we should be bending over backwards to makes things accessible to not so good teams. We have A packet and novice tournaments for that. Expand quizbowl with the sets that are meant for it. By forcing answer lines to be limited to easy things that someone with a basic knowledge can answer, you cause the Canon to become stagnat, and you see Louis XIV get tossuped every single tournament. Teams who want to get good, will get good, and there are varying levels of tournaments that are accessible to different level teams in different stages of growth. If you allow the amount of answer lines to expand greatly, you increase the competition at high level sets that aren't geared for growing teams. Which, if I didn't make it clear, is what my comments are meant for.
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Re: Beyond the canon...

Post by Cheynem » Mon Feb 27, 2012 1:16 pm

This is a terrible idea. Quizbowl, at every level, is about accessible answers. Louis XIV comes up a lot because he's both important and accessible. To avoid stagnancy, you should change up the early clues you use about him or ask about different things at bonus parts (or do tossups on important things related to him, if you want to use fresher clues). All I am saying is that even at regular difficulty tournaments, nobody likes to play the "Have you heard of this guy?" bowl. Better competition for better teams comes with interesting, fresher clues; harder bonus parts; and yes, within reasonable moderation, some harder tossup answers. But this idea that the canon should be expanded to cater to the top teams is silly.
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Re: Beyond the canon...

Post by Adventure Temple Trail » Mon Feb 27, 2012 1:17 pm

Besides, nothing prevents Charles the Bold or Irene from being a bonus part, or clue in a tossup, where appropriate, as they have both often been in difficulty-appropriate sets. The best teams will buzz early on that "_Charles_" tossup where Charles the Bold is an early clue, or correctly identify Irene as an empress of the "_Byzantine Empire_" or a supporter of "_iconoclasm_". And for those who know less, there's other information they can show they know, either later in whichever tossup or elsewhere in the bonus.

The entire reason for pyramidal questions and easy-middle-hard bonuses is so that teams of all levels can meaningfully play games on the same set of questions. Restricting difficulty further (as novice sets can sometimes) is not meant to increase the difficulty of regular sets such that they're only for the best teams; rather, that is a conscious choice to instead write a set so novice teams of all levels can meaningfully play games on the same set of questions. Similarly, national tournaments are harder so that national teams of all levels can meaningfully play games on the same set of questions.
Last edited by Adventure Temple Trail on Mon Feb 27, 2012 1:22 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Beyond the canon...

Post by Smuttynose Island » Mon Feb 27, 2012 1:19 pm

TheBulgarSlayer wrote:
Cernel Joson wrote:Byzantine history is way too hard for high schoolers outside of a few obvious answers. I'd say the same thing about post-Mao China: there are a couple things you could ask about, but even Deng is really pushing it as a tossup (and got poor conversion numbers last time he was tossed up, as I recall). In general, whether something could be called "important" isn't terribly meaningful as to whether it should come up in high school quizbowl, and I hope nobody takes ideas for questions from this thread.
I disagree with you on importance though. Important things, in my opinion, should receive a great proportion of toss ups, as opposed to toss ups on things like the War of Jenkins ear, which in reality had little affect on the greater war and only receives toss ups because of it's unusual name and a possible mention in a AP Euro class.
I'm not sure if you know this but, no HS question writer in their right mind should be producing TUs on the War of Jenkins Ear for a regular difficulty event. Why? Because not enough people know enough about it. Why do people not know enough about it? Because it's not important and not taught (and even if it is taught, it's probably just mentioned in passing at most). It is for those same reasons that Byzantine history shouldn't come up at regular difficulty levels (even if it is important, not enough people learn about it/care about it at this level to make them worthwhile answers, except for the occassional hard part). You can complain about how "important" things don't come up enough, (I know I do. For instance why doesn't everyone in QB know about the Taff Vale Co. case? That thing is a super important British Labor law case. It was THE British Labor Law case.), but that doesn't mean that those things should come up.

Additionally, this idea of "slowly expanding the cannon will make things gettable" is false because it only makes things gettable for upper level teams, thus further alienating newer and weaker teams, which is extremely detrimental to Quizbowl as an activity.
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Re: Beyond the canon...

Post by Kilroy Was Here » Mon Feb 27, 2012 1:20 pm

Mewto55555 wrote:
TheBulgarSlayer wrote:
tintinnabulation wrote:
TheBulgarSlayer wrote: It's hard right now because it's not part of the cannon. There aren't that many important people in it (Heraclius, Irene, and the other Komnemus emperors). If they were to be introduced initially as bonus parts, people would learn them and boom, a major part of European history is in the cannon. I disagree with you on importance though. Important things, in my opinion, should receive a great proportion of toss ups, as opposed to toss ups on things like the War of Jenkins ear, which in reality had little affect on the greater war and only receives toss ups because of it's unusual name and a possible mention in a AP Euro class.
War of Jenkins' Ear came up in my APUSH class and I'm willing to bet a bunch of other APUSH people heard of it, too.

And I don't think we should be basing canon on things we learn in HS classes. I've barely learned anything in quizbowl from classes I've taken.
Exactly. That mentality is what prevents people and things of great historical significance ( Charles the Bold, Irene ETC) from receiving toss ups.
I'd imagine that the mentality that prevents Charles the Bold from being tossed up is the "we want teams to actually answer tossups, so let's tossup difficulty-appropriate answer lines" mentality.
If its introduced in a harder set, it will be studdied by the good teams who participate in those tournament, and it will become part of the harder set canon. I'm not suggesting people like him are tossuped in A sets, because A sets are geared for less experienced teams.
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Re: Beyond the canon...

Post by Cheynem » Mon Feb 27, 2012 1:21 pm

This sets up an uncomfortable "some quizbowl for the good," "some for the not so good" mentality. Regular difficulty tournaments, which is in fact every tournament besides nationals (which is still being played by a variety of skill levels), should be for every team. Not teams that get an advantage by just studying old answers.
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Re: Beyond the canon...

Post by Kilroy Was Here » Mon Feb 27, 2012 1:22 pm

Cheynem wrote:This is a terrible idea. Quizbowl, at every level, is about accessible answers. Louis XIV comes up a lot because he's both important and accessible. To avoid stagnancy, you should change up the early clues you use about him or ask about different things at bonus parts (or do tossups on important things related to him, if you want to use fresher clues). All I am saying is that even at regular difficulty tournaments, nobody likes to play the "Have you heard of this guy?" bowl. Better competition for better teams comes with interesting, fresher clues; harder bonus parts; and yes, within reasonable moderation, some harder tossup answers. But this idea that the canon should be expanded to cater to the top teams is silly.
We have a difference of opinion I suppose, so I'll just agree to disagree.
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Re: Beyond the canon...

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Mon Feb 27, 2012 1:28 pm

TheBulgarSlayer wrote:
SirT wrote:
TheBulgarSlayer wrote:It's hard right now because it's not part of the cannon. There aren't that many important people in it (Heraclius, Irene, and the other Komnemus emperors). If they were to be introduced initially as bonus parts, people would learn them and boom, a major part of European history is in the cannon. I disagree with you on importance though. Important things, in my opinion, should receive a great proportion of toss ups, as opposed to toss ups on things like the War of Jenkins ear, which in reality had little affect on the greater war and only receives toss ups because of it's unusual name and a possible mention in a AP Euro class.
This attitude is incredibly harmful to the growth of good quizbowl. Matt Weiner presents a succinct argument against such foolishness in the "The Canon" thread: http://www.hsquizbowl.org/forums/viewto ... 86#p237240
That's another thing. I don't think we should be bending over backwards to makes things accessible to not so good teams. We have A packet and novice tournaments for that. Expand quizbowl with the sets that are meant for it. By forcing answer lines to be limited to easy things that someone with a basic knowledge can answer, you cause the Canon to become stagnat, and you see Louis XIV get tossuped every single tournament. Teams who want to get good, will get good, and there are varying levels of tournaments that are accessible to different level teams in different stages of growth. If you allow the amount of answer lines to expand greatly, you increase the competition at high level sets that aren't geared for growing teams. Which, if I didn't make it clear, is what my comments are meant for.
Unfortunate choice of words: you are about to get savagely attacked by a half dozen Matt Weiner disciples before Matt Weiner himself comes into this thread to personally call you a horrible person who wants to destroy quizbowl.

As somebody who sympathizes with your views and who has made a quizbowl career out of writing hard history questions, let me explain to you in a more friendly way why Matt Weiner and his sycophants actually have a point.

In a perfect world, your argument would be valid: novice teams would graze on ample fields of easy novice tournaments, well-supplied by NAQT, HSAPQ, and in-house writing teams, while noted Byzantophile Peter Austin would return from exile in California and write decadent tossups on John Tzimiskes and Lukas Notaras for the few elite high school teams who want to prep for ACF Nationals or Chicago Open side events.

But we do not live in a perfect world. There are two flaws. Number one, there simply aren’t enough easy tournaments for novice teams. NAQT cannot supply all that is needed, and even HSAPQ has trouble producing sets that aren’t too hard. House-written tournaments suffer from inconsistency in quality and also routinely end up being too hard. Second, writers seem to lack the discipline necessary to prevent difficult answer choices from seeping into what few novice-appropriate sets do exist. Whether they are canon advocates who say “this has come up as a bonus, let it be a tossup now”, or whether they are anti-canon fanatics who say “this has come up [in one class at a highly selective magnet school], therefore it is valid as a tossup”, too many writers are writing things that are impossible for the majority of high school players to get.

Matt Weiner is afraid that this is going to lead to teams losing interest in quizbowl, and thus the end of good quizbowl. This is why he will shortly call for you to be burned at the stake: you have chosen the worst possible words in his view. And he has a point.

What high school quizbowl needs is for people to have the vision and the discipline to subdue their base desires to write hard questions, and to instead focus on growing the field through novice-appropriate sets, and sets that can be answered by teams from non-elite backgrounds.
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Re: Beyond the canon...

Post by Matt Weiner » Mon Feb 27, 2012 1:37 pm

Hey, Bruce: Meta-discussing caricatures of hypothetical posts is still against the board rules, and you're being a large idiot right now.
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Re: Beyond the canon...

Post by Mewto55555 » Mon Feb 27, 2012 1:51 pm

TheBulgarSlayer wrote:
Cheynem wrote:This is a terrible idea. Quizbowl, at every level, is about accessible answers. Louis XIV comes up a lot because he's both important and accessible. To avoid stagnancy, you should change up the early clues you use about him or ask about different things at bonus parts (or do tossups on important things related to him, if you want to use fresher clues). All I am saying is that even at regular difficulty tournaments, nobody likes to play the "Have you heard of this guy?" bowl. Better competition for better teams comes with interesting, fresher clues; harder bonus parts; and yes, within reasonable moderation, some harder tossup answers. But this idea that the canon should be expanded to cater to the top teams is silly.
We have a difference of opinion I suppose, so I'll just agree to disagree.
This isn't something we should "agree to disagree" on. You are completely wrong, and your wrong-ness needs to be not perpetuated in future posts of yours (or god forbid, questions you may write for unsuspecting high schoolers).

One of the really cool things about pyramidal quizbowl is that, if questions are written right, the set can provide fun, competitive play for teams of all levels (for a pertinent example which your school's A team played, look at LIST II: the questions were by no stretch of the imagination on hard answerlines, but were still able to more than adequately distinguish between multiple top twenty teams, while also providing for relatively high scoring games between teams who are nowhere near the Morlan rankings). Answerlines should not be selected because they are a pet topic of yours which few people know about, or because they came up before in a really hard tournament which you read. If you really want to play something hard, go to a college tournament or something. Demonstrate that you know things by winning tournaments of all levels, not by posting on the internet about all the hard things you know about that you wish came up more.
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Re: Beyond the canon...

Post by Matt Weiner » Mon Feb 27, 2012 1:55 pm

And, lest any of my "acolytes" or "disciples" pre-empt me, one of the many reasons that the Harvard approach to high school quizbowl is not going to work (in addition to ignoring the very reason that pyramidal tossups and progressive-difficulty bonuses exist and failing to explain where the money for a national quizbowl circuit of 30 teams is going to come from) is that it doesn't understand the concept of time. There are already more sets being produced than weekends to run them on. Deciding that there are going to be more of these "novice" sets isn't going to work when there's no place to have novice tournaments.

By the way, there should be fewer "novice" sets, not more. I don't know why a bunch of effort was put into creating Minnesota Novice (which I haven't seen, but my point still holds even if it was impeccably written) and Fall Novice (which has become the absolute worst tournament of the year in terms of the quality of the submissions and the legions of awful writers it churns out who now think they are qualified) when NAQT put out five (!) A-sets this year. There is clearly a limited amount of writing, a limited amount of good writing, and a limited amount of editing out there, and when we're producing the seventh novice tournament of the year compared to the two or so we actually need, that amount of skill and time is being wasted.

If we didn't have thirty high school sets written each year and instead had more collaboration on fifteen or so sets that are complete, well-edited, and difficulty-appropriate, we would not need novice tournaments (because by definition a well-edited high school set is accessible to all teams), we would not need money pits like Texas Invitational (because by definition a well-edited high school set meaningfully distinguishes in games between top teams), and we would not have to deal with the problem of how to run high school tournaments for anemic fields, with inadequate staff, on 11 packets of subpar questions, because there wouldn't be a bunch of incomplete tournaments competing for all the resources.
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Re: Beyond the canon...

Post by Kilroy Was Here » Mon Feb 27, 2012 1:55 pm

In a perfect world, your argument would be valid: novice teams would graze on ample fields of easy novice tournaments, well-supplied by NAQT, HSAPQ, and in-house writing teams, while noted Byzantophile Peter Austin would return from exile in California and write decadent tossups on John Tzimiskes and Lukas Notaras for the few elite high school teams who want to prep for ACF Nationals or Chicago Open side events.

But we do not live in a perfect world. There are two flaws. Number one, there simply aren’t enough easy tournaments for novice teams. NAQT cannot supply all that is needed, and even HSAPQ has trouble producing sets that aren’t too hard. House-written tournaments suffer from inconsistency in quality and also routinely end up being too hard. Second, writers seem to lack the discipline necessary to prevent difficult answer choices from seeping into what few novice-appropriate sets do exist. Whether they are canon advocates who say “this has come up as a bonus, let it be a tossup now”, or whether they are anti-canon fanatics who say “this has come up [in one class at a highly selective magnet school], therefore it is valid as a tossup”, too many writers are writing things that are impossible for the majority of high school players to get.
The things is though, the vast majority of novice teams dont play that many tournaments. At least in the Metro Detroit Area, an area saturated with quizbowl "clubs", 99% of teams (everyone except DCCand Detroit Country Day) plays in a league, the few MSU and UofM tournaments, naqt and KMO state championships, and nothing else. Novice teams who want to get good, will go to harder tournaments, learn from that experience, and get better, no longer requiring novice sets, while the remainder with continue to play two tournaments a year along with a league.
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Re: Beyond the canon...

Post by Mewto55555 » Mon Feb 27, 2012 2:03 pm

TheBulgarSlayer wrote: The things is though, the vast majority of novice teams dont play that many tournaments. At least in the Metro Detroit Area, an area saturated with quizbowl "clubs", 99% of teams (everyone except DCCand Detroit Country Day) plays in a league, the few MSU and UofM tournaments, naqt and KMO state championships, and nothing else. Novice teams who want to get good, will go to harder tournaments, learn from that experience, and get better, no longer requiring novice sets, while the remainder with continue to play two tournaments a year along with a league.
Do you think novice teams will be more inclined to make the jump to better teams when the questions are completely out of their reach? In our practices, we don't read ACF Regs to our freshmen and say "oh goody they'll be so inspired to learn when they don't get anything," because that would just be stupid. Look at how well a mirror of HFT was received in your region, and now realize that you're advocating for a much harder set to be run there. As I gather from what I've heard from the region, the reason most of the teams in the Detroit area only want to play NAQT sets and their local league is because the other options are going to mirrors of too-hard sets or going to poorly written housewrites, not because the other options are all too easy for them.
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Re: Beyond the canon...

Post by Kilroy Was Here » Mon Feb 27, 2012 2:05 pm

Mewto55555 wrote:
TheBulgarSlayer wrote:
Cheynem wrote:This is a terrible idea. Quizbowl, at every level, is about accessible answers. Louis XIV comes up a lot because he's both important and accessible. To avoid stagnancy, you should change up the early clues you use about him or ask about different things at bonus parts (or do tossups on important things related to him, if you want to use fresher clues). All I am saying is that even at regular difficulty tournaments, nobody likes to play the "Have you heard of this guy?" bowl. Better competition for better teams comes with interesting, fresher clues; harder bonus parts; and yes, within reasonable moderation, some harder tossup answers. But this idea that the canon should be expanded to cater to the top teams is silly.
We have a difference of opinion I suppose, so I'll just agree to disagree.
This isn't something we should "agree to disagree" on. You are completely wrong, and your wrong-ness needs to be not perpetuated in future posts of yours (or god forbid, questions you may write for unsuspecting high schoolers).

One of the really cool things about pyramidal quizbowl is that, if questions are written right, the set can provide fun, competitive play for teams of all levels (for a pertinent example which your school's A team played, look at LIST II: the questions were by no stretch of the imagination on hard answerlines, but were still able to more than adequately distinguish between multiple top twenty teams, while also providing for relatively high scoring games between teams who are nowhere near the Morlan rankings). Answerlines should not be selected because they are a pet topic of yours which few people know about, or because they came up before in a really hard tournament which you read. If you really want to play something hard, go to a college tournament or something. Demonstrate that you know things by winning tournaments of all levels, not by posting on the internet about all the hard things you know about that you wish came up more.
I actually write perfectly canonical (is that the right adjective?) questions that are completely accesible. All I am advocating is a broadening of tossup answer lines, with things of significance receiving precedence over things with cool names like the war of Jenkins ear. I don't see what's so wrong with that .
Collin Parks
University of Michigan '18

"Aragorn was the famed king of Gondor, while the Iberian kingdom was Aragon. Both parties were aware of this coincidence: we have a journal entry from Aragorn that expresses his anger at receiving mail meant for King Peter IV of Aragon for the umpteenth time."~ CommodoreCoCo

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Re: Beyond the canon...

Post by Cheynem » Mon Feb 27, 2012 2:06 pm

You were suggesting some inappropriately hard answerlines for high school questions.
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Re: Beyond the canon...

Post by Matt Weiner » Mon Feb 27, 2012 2:06 pm

While certainly I would like to see a hundredfold increase in the number of teams who play a full schedule each year, I think that if you really have a lot of teams in the Michigan area who do five Saturday tournaments a year in addition to a league, you're way ahead of a lot of regions. And, like Max, I do not think that asking more tossups on Hovhannes-Smbat of Ani in high school sets is the way to transform these moderately active teams into highly active teams.
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Re: Beyond the canon...

Post by Mewto55555 » Mon Feb 27, 2012 2:10 pm

TheBulgarSlayer wrote: I actually write perfectly canonical (is that the right adjective?) questions that are completely accesible. All I am advocating is a broadening of tossup answer lines, with things of significance receiving precedence over things with cool names like the war of Jenkins ear. I don't see what's so wrong with that .
I don't know what you actually write (did you write for the first DCCAT?), all I know is that up-thread you were advocating for things like Charles the Bold to be " introduced in a harder set" so that it will "be studdied by the good teams who participate in those tournament, (sic) and it will become part of the harder set canon." More troubling to me was not what you actually write or want to write, but your desired dichotomy between regular-season sets for top teams, and regular-season sets for not-top teams (excepting one or two novice sets, of course).
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Re: Beyond the canon...

Post by Kilroy Was Here » Mon Feb 27, 2012 2:11 pm

Mewto55555 wrote:
TheBulgarSlayer wrote: The things is though, the vast majority of novice teams dont play that many tournaments. At least in the Metro Detroit Area, an area saturated with quizbowl "clubs", 99% of teams (everyone except DCCand Detroit Country Day) plays in a league, the few MSU and UofM tournaments, naqt and KMO state championships, and nothing else. Novice teams who want to get good, will go to harder tournaments, learn from that experience, and get better, no longer requiring novice sets, while the remainder with continue to play two tournaments a year along with a league.
Do you think novice teams will be more inclined to make the jump to better teams when the questions are completely out of their reach? In our practices, we don't read ACF Regs to our freshmen and say "oh goody they'll be so inspired to learn when they don't get anything," because that would just be stupid. Look at how well a mirror of HFT was received in your region, and now realize that you're advocating for a much harder set to be run there. As I gather from what I've heard from the region, the reason most of the teams in the Detroit area only want to play NAQT sets and their local league is because the other options are going to mirrors of too-hard sets or going to poorly written housewrites, not because the other options are all too easy for them.
My school doesn't do that either, but it has a program that gets kids ready to play things like ACF fall. The kids study so they can progress on the program and practice with the varsity players with a gradually increasing level of difficulty of questions. You're right, HFT was terrible for that region, and shouldn't have been read there. People don't go to tournaments because they don't care, just like the vast majority of quizbowl teams. They either do it for resume padding or for something fun to do on a few Saturdays. There are multiple tournaments in Ohio they could go to, but they choose not to, because it doesn't matter to them. If 15 years of this doesn't make them care, nothing will.
Collin Parks
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Re: Beyond the canon...

Post by Kilroy Was Here » Mon Feb 27, 2012 2:13 pm

Matt Weiner wrote:While certainly I would like to see a hundredfold increase in the number of teams who play a full schedule each year, I think that if you really have a lot of teams in the Michigan area who do five Saturday tournaments a year in addition to a league, you're way ahead of a lot of regions. And, like Max, I do not think that asking more tossups on Hovhannes-Smbat of Ani in high school sets is the way to transform these moderately active teams into highly active teams.
Metro Detroit area, I cant accurately describe the rest of Michigan.
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Re: Beyond the canon...

Post by Kilroy Was Here » Mon Feb 27, 2012 2:18 pm

Mewto55555 wrote:
TheBulgarSlayer wrote: I actually write perfectly canonical (is that the right adjective?) questions that are completely accesible. All I am advocating is a broadening of tossup answer lines, with things of significance receiving precedence over things with cool names like the war of Jenkins ear. I don't see what's so wrong with that .
I don't know what you actually write (did you write for the first DCCAT?), all I know is that up-thread you were advocating for things like Charles the Bold to be " introduced in a harder set" so that it will "be studdied by the good teams who participate in those tournament, (sic) and it will become part of the harder set canon." More troubling to me was not what you actually write or want to write, but your desired dichotomy between regular-season sets for top teams, and regular-season sets for not-top teams (excepting one or two novice sets, of course).
No I didn't. I did write for this years, which is a normal difficulty set, and is perfectly accesible. I don't desire a dichotomy, that would make high level inaccessible, but I do advocate an expansion of answer lines for tournaments geared for top level teams.
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Re: Beyond the canon...

Post by Mewto55555 » Mon Feb 27, 2012 2:21 pm

TheBulgarSlayer wrote: I don't desire a dichotomy, ... tournaments geared for top level teams.
I don't understand! How do you have some tournaments geared for top level teams, some tournaments geared for not-top teams, and still not have a dichotomy?!?
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Re: Beyond the canon...

Post by Kilroy Was Here » Mon Feb 27, 2012 2:25 pm

Mewto55555 wrote:
TheBulgarSlayer wrote: I don't desire a dichotomy, ... tournaments geared for top level teams.
I don't understand! How do you have some tournaments geared for top level teams, some tournaments geared for not-top teams, and still not have a dichotomy?!?
Because, my idea of a "dichotomy" is where bad teams answer questions on Moses and George Washington, while top teams are asked the Battle of Dara and the black army. That is NOT what I am advocating. The things tossuped in the better sets would include a majority of things in the less so good set, but would have a few more things added to it to keep things interesting.
Edit: added stuff
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Re: Beyond the canon...

Post by Smuttynose Island » Mon Feb 27, 2012 2:32 pm

TheBulgarSlayer wrote:
Mewto55555 wrote:
TheBulgarSlayer wrote: I don't desire a dichotomy, ... tournaments geared for top level teams.
I don't understand! How do you have some tournaments geared for top level teams, some tournaments geared for not-top teams, and still not have a dichotomy?!?
Because, my idea of a "dichotomy" is where bad teams answer questions on Moses and George Washington, while top teams are asked the Battle of Dara and the black army. That is NOT what I am advocating. The things tossuped in the better sets would include a majority of things in the less so good set, but would have a few more things added to it to keep things interesting.
Edit: added stuff
You are still producing sets specifically geared towards top teams that are meant to be played by top teams and then producing sets for not top teams that are meant to be played by not top teams. That's a dichotomy. Also you are conflating "harder" with "better," which is not the case. How hard a set is has a minimal impact on how well the questions are written (ie the set's quality), although often times a "hard" sets are of poor quality for a variety of reasons, one of which is the fact that they are too hard!
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Re: Beyond the canon...

Post by Frater Taciturnus » Mon Feb 27, 2012 2:34 pm

Matt Weiner wrote:And, lest any of my "acolytes" or "disciples" pre-empt me, one of the many reasons that the Harvard approach to high school quizbowl is not going to work (in addition to ignoring the very reason that pyramidal tossups and progressive-difficulty bonuses exist and failing to explain where the money for a national quizbowl circuit of 30 teams is going to come from) is that it doesn't understand the concept of time.
Well see if we write a bunch of tossups on "time" then....
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Re: Beyond the canon...

Post by Kilroy Was Here » Mon Feb 27, 2012 2:36 pm

Smuttynose Island wrote:
TheBulgarSlayer wrote:
Mewto55555 wrote:
TheBulgarSlayer wrote: I don't desire a dichotomy, ... tournaments geared for top level teams.
I don't understand! How do you have some tournaments geared for top level teams, some tournaments geared for not-top teams, and still not have a dichotomy?!?
Because, my idea of a "dichotomy" is where bad teams answer questions on Moses and George Washington, while top teams are asked the Battle of Dara and the black army. That is NOT what I am advocating. The things tossuped in the better sets would include a majority of things in the less so good set, but would have a few more things added to it to keep things interesting.
Edit: added stuff
You are still producing sets specifically geared towards top teams that are meant to be played by top teams and then producing sets for not top teams that are meant to be played by not top teams. That's a dichotomy. Also you are conflating "harder" with "better," which is not the case. How hard a set is has a minimal impact on how well the questions are written (ie the set's quality), although often times a "hard" sets are of poor quality for a variety of reasons, one of which is the fact that they are too hard!
I'm dumb, the adjectives I used were meant to describe the teams playing it, not the quality of the set. In my perfect world, a lower quality team could still reasonably play the harder sets, but there would be things they would need to study too. I believe people are overestimating what I mean when I think a set should be "hard."
Collin Parks
University of Michigan '18

"Aragorn was the famed king of Gondor, while the Iberian kingdom was Aragon. Both parties were aware of this coincidence: we have a journal entry from Aragorn that expresses his anger at receiving mail meant for King Peter IV of Aragon for the umpteenth time."~ CommodoreCoCo

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