Emergency Situation - All Writers Needed (RESOLVED)

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Emergency Situation - All Writers Needed (RESOLVED)

Post by Great Bustard » Thu Mar 05, 2015 3:16 pm

To the world of quizbowl -
This is a mind-boggling forum post to have to write. A full and detailed explanation will be forthcoming next week of all the myriad events that have led to this point. For now, these are the facts:

1. Matt Weiner has had sole responsibility for production for NHBB sets since last summer - an arrangement that was Matt's own idea.
2. Matt Weiner has just, and I quote from an email he just sent me "I don't want to give you the incomplete garbage set I'm sitting on. Make alternate arrangements and the tournaments will be better off for it. This is my resignation from NHBB and quizbowl. You will not hear from me again. I have already explained the situation to PACE, etc. and they also know that I'm completely out."
3. We need to compile an A Set of questions, basically from scratch, in the next 36 hours. I will move heaven and earth to make this happen.
4. I am in Singapore, it's 3:10am here. I have a 9:30am flight to Seoul where I am directing on Saturday, and then on to Beijing for another tournament on Sunday. I need help to make this work. I will pay $6 per tossup, $7 per tossup bonus pair, and $8 per 60 second round for whatever people can get me that has not been used elsewhere in another set to date. Don't worry what they're on - as long as they are basically standard high school difficulty (or in the neighborhood of that), then that's fine.
5. You do not need to be a standard NHBB writer to write, (edit) though Eric has requested that only college writers and above submit questions for this to ensure question security and avoid extracting questions in subsequent uses of the set.
6. If you are playing our A Set this Saturday, you should still plan on competing on it as usual in FL, WA, and MD. TX will move to C Set. I am determined to see this through. I have pulled crazier stunts before. Please, I implore the quizbowl community to help us out here if at all possible.
7. Please send whatever questions you have to (edit): Eric Mukherjee at eric.mukherjee@gmail.com Eric has graciously and generously offered to help coordinate the set. (don't send questions to Raynell Cooper - Eric's going to take this over)
8. We have already contacted NAQT and are in the process of contacting the people in charge of housewrites and other independent sets that have not been played by the MD teams (FL and WA are far less concern as those NHBB circuits are barely integrated into broader quizbowl with Ransom Everglades being the main exception). If we are able to use questions from those sources, especially for this weekend, we will do that. Again, we will retract questions as needed from those sources going forward to maintain playability for teams looking to play these questions as part of different sets elsewhere.
9. If there is someone who would be able to edit this set by about 8pm tomorrow evening Eastern time into a usable Middle School set (if it skews hard, that's ok) by 6am Saturday eastern time, please identify yourself to both me (director@historybowl.com) and Raynell, and we'd be grateful for your help.

Once again, I am extremely grateful to anyone who can help us out here. Of course, we will need quite a bit of help going forward to finish College History Bowl Nationals, US High School Nationals, and our other sets for this year, but for now, this is an all-hands-on-deck scenario, and I will see to it that this gets resolved in time. Thanks! -David
Last edited by Great Bustard on Thu Mar 05, 2015 4:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Emergency Situation - All Writers Needed

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Thu Mar 05, 2015 3:30 pm

Post the distribution for the set, please.
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Re: Emergency Situation - All Writers Needed

Post by High Dependency Unit » Thu Mar 05, 2015 3:33 pm

Will A-set also be used in PA on Sunday?
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Re: Emergency Situation - All Writers Needed

Post by Great Bustard » Thu Mar 05, 2015 3:38 pm

Michael, yes, I had forgotten in the haste of things that we need it then too. But - that said, that's slightly less of a concern, since we have 24 more hours to sort that out. If you want to write for this (or anyone playing the set on Sunday), we'll add your tossups to a round where they're all in one place, and then we'll extract that packet and then replace it Saturday night with extra questions if needed.
David Madden
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Re: Emergency Situation - All Writers Needed

Post by Masked Canadian History Bandit » Thu Mar 05, 2015 3:40 pm

Can we have a place for coordination of needs (a password-protected spreadsheet or something like QEMS) so people can avoid repeats?
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Re: Emergency Situation - All Writers Needed

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Thu Mar 05, 2015 3:43 pm

Can you link to an NHBB style guide real quick?
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Re: Emergency Situation - All Writers Needed

Post by Ndg » Thu Mar 05, 2015 3:44 pm

Great Bustard wrote: We need to compile an A Set of questions, basically from scratch, in the next 36 hours.
Just for the purposes of understanding what's going on (and not for chewing anyone out right now), does this mean there are basically zero questions written?
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Re: Emergency Situation - All Writers Needed

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Thu Mar 05, 2015 3:50 pm

Everyone: Dave will post about this very soon, but I'm coordinating the assembly of this set. My plan is to use a google doc to do it. If you want in on this, my email is [myfirstname] DOT [mylastname] AT gmail DOT com, so get in contact with me there.
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Re: Emergency Situation - All Writers Needed

Post by Great Bustard » Thu Mar 05, 2015 4:08 pm

To answer Andrew's question, Matt wrote 80 tossups which he sent about an hour before his resignation email.
To answer Bruce's point re style - the best place to look is at hsapq.com/samples and scroll down to the NHBB sets. Obviously, looking at past A Sets for the rough question length and difficulty which is desired is most helpful.
I will let Eric take things from here in terms of coordinating what needs to get written, how much of each tossup, etc. If we end up with more questions than we need, please indicate to Eric if you would prefer to have your questions returned to you or if you are fine with NHBB keeping them and using them for subsequent sets. Note that Eric is also authorized to say enough, and that any questions submitted after that point will not be paid at the above listed emergency rates (although we would still certainly be interested in paying a typical price for them - more on what that would exactly be in a post next week at some point).
David Madden
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Re: Emergency Situation - All Writers Needed

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Thu Mar 05, 2015 4:14 pm

For now, only people in college or post-college contact me, please. I dont' want this to turn into a security issue.
Eric Mukherjee, MD PhD
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Re: Emergency Situation - All Writers Needed

Post by Great Bustard » Thu Mar 05, 2015 4:27 pm

Just to clarify - only college (and obviously older, non-affiliated) writers should submit questions for this to Eric. However, in normal circumstances, NHBB (like NAQT) will gladly accept questions from high school writers for use overseas and/or after you graduate. We will need a staggering volume of questions in the coming months, so rest assured that if you are in middle school or high school and are a capable writer and interested in writing for NHBB, we can use your help. At some point next week, NHBB will announce a plan for completion of all its sets through the International History Olympiad. We already pay very competitive rates for questions, and will be in touch with more details shortly on a plan to make this all work out. At this point, no one should not register for any NHBB tournament because of concerns about whether the sets will be ready or not.
David Madden
Ridgewood (NJ) '99, Princeton '03
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Re: Emergency Situation - All Writers Needed

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Fri Mar 06, 2015 2:18 am

Everyone,
We have finished writing this set. Thank you for your contributions, but please forward anything from now on to Dave Madden, who will have use for them in future sets.

EDIT: Some statistics.

This set was written about 12 hours after the initial post made by Dave. After maybe 3 hours of wrangling a distribution and a spreadsheet, a group of 30 or so writers got together and cranked out 9 entire bowl packets and 3 bee packets - that amounts to 370 questions. Truly, this was a great groundswell by the quizbowl community. I would especially like to thank those writers who, unsolicited, simply sent me excellent questions in my email which I could immediately use - your work put us over the top.
Last edited by Sima Guang Hater on Fri Mar 06, 2015 3:36 am, edited 1 time in total.
Eric Mukherjee, MD PhD
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Re: Emergency Situation - All Writers Needed

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Fri Mar 06, 2015 2:54 am

We'll probably have a fuller credits list at some point, but for now-- I'd like to extend my heartfelt congratulations and thanks to everyone who joined me in writing and/or editing for this project. This was the single most impressive writing performance I've ever seen--from basically nothing to a fully written, mostly edited set in about 11 hours. All of the people who helped out, in any way, should feel proud of themselves. A magnificent performance all around, and one that is truly indicative of the great community that quizbowl has grown.
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Re: Emergency Situation - All Writers Needed

Post by Great Bustard » Fri Mar 06, 2015 6:15 am

Hi Everyone,
I would just like to express my utmost thanks and gratitude to anyone who had a hand in pulling this set together in record time. It's amazing to see the force of the community in action this way, and I am tremendously appreciative of this (and hundreds of students are now happy they have a set to play on Saturday!) A special thank you to Eric Mukherjee for taking the lead in putting this set together. While I have not been privy to the details, since I've been in the air traveling while all this greatness was unfolding, Eric has mentioned that Rob Carson, Matt Bollinger, Dan Puma, Tejas Raje, Evan Adams, Andrew Ibendahl, and Max Schindler played major roles in helping to edit and coordinate various aspects of the distribution. They, and the approximate 30 authors who contributed to the set, have the sincere thanks of NHBB and me personally. I will certainly be in touch with Eric and the editors and authors as needed to coordinate payments next week. For now, thank you for all your help. This was great.
David Madden
Ridgewood (NJ) '99, Princeton '03
Founder and Director: International History Bee and Bowl, National History Bee and Bowl (High School Division), International History Olympiad, United States Geography Olympiad, US History Bee, US Academic Bee and Bowl, National Humanities Bee, National Science Bee, International Academic Bowl.
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Re: Emergency Situation - All Writers Needed

Post by Ndg » Fri Mar 06, 2015 4:58 pm

The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote: 3 bee packets
Is this a typo, or are we just not getting a bee finals packet?
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Re: Emergency Situation - All Writers Needed

Post by Bloodwych » Fri Mar 06, 2015 5:01 pm

There is a Bee finals packet.
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Re: Emergency Situation - All Writers Needed

Post by AKKOLADE » Fri Mar 06, 2015 5:09 pm

Could we get an edit to the subject as this is no longer an emergency?
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Re: Emergency Situation - All Writers Needed (RESOLVED)

Post by bjorkchop » Sun Mar 08, 2015 12:18 am

Having assistant-TD'ed a 12-hour day in Hollywood with Connor Teevens at Florida championships, I have to compliment the overall playability and smoothness of this particular set! I'll bear witness to this miracle. To the editors and writers who hustled to make this possible: thank you! 30+ teams (and that's just down here) benefited from your efforts.
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Re: Emergency Situation - All Writers Needed (RESOLVED)

Post by no ice » Mon Mar 09, 2015 9:36 pm

After the questions and set are further edited and polished, how will this compare to previous NHBB sets in difficulty, question length, and quality?
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Re: Emergency Situation - All Writers Needed (RESOLVED)

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Tue Mar 10, 2015 5:56 pm

Please feel free to send criticisms to em.historybowl@gmail.com
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Re: Emergency Situation - All Writers Needed (RESOLVED)

Post by Angry Babies in Love » Wed Mar 11, 2015 2:47 am

no ice wrote:After the questions and set are further edited and polished, how will this compare to previous NHBB sets in difficulty, question length, and quality?
Speaking solely in my role as someone who directed a tournament on these questions, I would say: approximately the same, maybe a touch longer at times but barely noticeable, and on par if not better, respectively. The time it took to make this set does not manifest itself in its quality. There were no repeats that I noticed, and the difficulty was not noticeably out of balance.
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Re: Emergency Situation - All Writers Needed (RESOLVED)

Post by Great Bustard » Wed Mar 11, 2015 12:43 pm

I’d like to again thank everyone who contributed to the NHBB A Set last week. I’m glad that the initial reports from where it was played were positive – that’s truly testament to the support of the community. If people who wrote for the set could send me a private message (not an email – it’s easier for me to keep track of this way) with the total number of tossups, tossup/bonus pairs, and 60 second rounds they wrote, that would be great. I will of course need addresses as well to send out checks. The only complicating factor here is that if roughly 30 people wrote for the set, I may not have 30 checks easily available. I had left roughly 30 or so signed checks with my family when I left the USA in late January, to be sent out as needed (I am not back in the US until mid-April). Some of those have in fact already gone out. People who wrote the most questions and/or helped with editing will be reimbursed first. If you helped with editing, please let me know how much time you spent on it as well. I promise that I will act as quickly as I can to make sure everyone is compensated in full.
David Madden
Ridgewood (NJ) '99, Princeton '03
Founder and Director: International History Bee and Bowl, National History Bee and Bowl (High School Division), International History Olympiad, United States Geography Olympiad, US History Bee, US Academic Bee and Bowl, National Humanities Bee, National Science Bee, International Academic Bowl.
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Re: Emergency Situation - All Writers Needed (RESOLVED)

Post by johntait1 » Sun Mar 15, 2015 2:21 pm

Thanks to everyone for writing this set. Our team enjoyed playing it at Tennessee State yesterday. The set was definitely a bit different from past History Bowl regional sets, but not in a bad way; if anything, I enjoyed it more than the A set we played on last year-even though our team didn't do as well as last year.

Positives: The things I really liked about the set
1. The set seemed closer to Nationals difficulty than last year. The questions were a bit more difficult and the answerlines were more diverse. This was my favorite thing about the set because it was nice to get some practice on questions closer to Nationals difficulty.
2. The lightning rounds were extremely well written. In the past it seems that our team would be left trying to choose the slightly more appealing lightning round out of two pretty terrible categories after the other team took the only decent one. This time there was pretty much two nice categories in each round and sometimes three. It was also a lot harder to sweep the lightning rounds; each category usually had one or two pretty hard questions instead of all really easy ones, making the lightning rounds more balanced. Definitely my second favorite part of the set.
3. Powers were not as generous as in the past. Getting a 30 usually took some real knowledge and there weren't too many ridiculously easy 30s and 20s. There were a few instances that we got a really easy 30 or 20; however, since the set isn't cleared yet, I won't post them here.
4. Less stock clues. There were a lot fewer stock clues at the beginning of questions, which really helped with point 3. There were still a lot at the end, but there's really no way to avoid that since there's only a limited amount of clues in FTP for a regionals set.

Neutrals: Things that weren't necessarily bad, just a bit different from the past
1. Slightly more current events and recent history. I didn't count the number but the consensus among our team members was that there were more of those questions.
2. More international sports and less professional sports. The international sports also were not as focused on the Olympics as in the past. I personally think that professional sports may be easier to answer and thus better for regionals, but there's nothing really wrong with more international sports.
3. Less Greek Mythology and Christianity. I didn't play a single Christianity tossup or Greek Mythology tossup that I can remember, maybe one or two that had bits of other categories mixed in. Other religions and mythology seemed to be the same as usual, but for some reason Christianity and Greek Mythology was much less than in the past. Again, I personally feel that those topics might be more familiar to the people playing at regionals and thus better, but that's just my view.
4. Less art and philosophy. I didn't count the exact number but I always write down the category and there seemed to be less of these.
5. A little less science history. I personally I would put it as a positive since I think that science is a bit overrepresented in History Bowl(only topic with two questions per round on the official distribution), but there's nothing inherently wrong with science questions or anything, so I put it under neutral.

Negatives: Some of these aren't inherently bad or anything, but seem like stuff that some community members don't like. I personally don't have a big issue with them, so I wasn't sure if I should have put them under neutral, but I remember that some members of the community were really angry over one of these last year.
1. More trash in general compared to past regionals sets. This was the opinion of our entire team, although I did not compare the exact numbers so we could be wrong here. I personally don't have a huge issue with trash a regionals, and even at Nationals, I think that sports history needs to be represented(especially Olympics) because it is pretty historically significant. However, I remember someone on the forums had a huge problem with this at Nationals or something, so I put it under negatives. I personally would be okay as long as there's consistency so our team can adjust our studying accordingly.
2. More mixed questions. A lot of the questions contained several categories; I noticed this because I was having more difficulty that usual categorizing questions in my notebook. I only put this under negative because it might hurt the specialists out there studying for History Bowl; for our team it wasn't really an issue since we aren't that specialized.

Overall the questions were really nice and our team thanks all those who worked to put this thing together.
Daniel Yan-2014 JV History Bee Champion
Captain of 2014 History Bowl JV Runner Up Farragut
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Re: Emergency Situation - All Writers Needed (RESOLVED)

Post by Great Bustard » Mon Mar 16, 2015 2:09 am

Hi Everyone,
Glad to hear the reviews of A Set are mostly positive - thanks again to those who put this together in record time. I will add that I have not had (and will not have) a chance to edit this set; but then again, it seems as if there's overall not that much editing that would be needed on my end, which is especially nice. Daniel, some of what you mention regarding powers being harder to come by and harder lightning rounds is really a difference between A and B/C in terms of the philosophy behind the sets. The A Set should be slightly below average Nationals difficulty (in reality, Nationals difficulty varies at various points in the tournament depending on what goal we're trying to achieve), but meant to give teams a taste of Nationals, and should be comparable to the morning rounds at Nationals. A Set is also the set most frequently used for Championship tournaments which attract the strongest fields, so having harder sets makes sense there. Many top players find B and especially C Sets easy, but look through our scores this year, and you'll see literally hundreds of teams that average under 200 points a game on those sets. We need to ensure they have fun too, and are encouraged to keep at it, and not get overwhelmed by difficulty; hence the need to keep B and C, especially in the prelims, at an easier level.
David Madden
Ridgewood (NJ) '99, Princeton '03
Founder and Director: International History Bee and Bowl, National History Bee and Bowl (High School Division), International History Olympiad, United States Geography Olympiad, US History Bee, US Academic Bee and Bowl, National Humanities Bee, National Science Bee, International Academic Bowl.
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Re: Emergency Situation - All Writers Needed (RESOLVED)

Post by johntait1 » Mon Mar 16, 2015 11:55 am

Hmmm, looking over the stats again, on last years A set we posted fourteen 20s and 2 30s in the five prelim rounds. At last years Nationals prelims, we had five 30s and ten 20s in the 5 rounds. In last year's National's 5 afternoon round, we posted two 30s and nine 20s. In the playoffs at Nationals last year we posted five 30s and three 20s over 4 rounds.
On A set at state we posted eleven 20s and four 30s in the five prelim rounds. So while the power rates were pretty similar to last year's A set and Nationals prelims, it felt harder to power because we thought we'd have a major improvement after a year to study. I guess maybe missing two of our top players made the difference, since looking back, one of them posted two 30s and one 20 in the prelims at Nationals. The other one didn't play last year at Nationals or state last year but posted three 30s and four 20s on C set at regionals, so he's been covering some of our topics. Or maybe the sample size is just too small.

Lightning rounds we only got a 100 on one rounds out of the five on A set last year, but last year on A set we got 2 and would have had two more if the readers hadn't been so slow(they started reading the last one but called time before we answered). Then again, maybe we were limited by small sample size.

I totally agree that NHBB needs to keep B and C sets, it really helps some of our newer players get interested in NHBB, and its nice for East Tennessee since many teams in the area are pretty new to NHBB and quizbowl in general.
Daniel Yan-2014 JV History Bee Champion
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Re: Emergency Situation - All Writers Needed (RESOLVED)

Post by luke1865 » Sun Mar 22, 2015 11:41 pm

While I would agree with Daniel that lightning rounds were a strong element of this tournament, I liked them for the opposite reason. Hunter JV found the lightning rounds better than past years because the hard part was more gettable. It seemed to be a better test of knowledge, as opposed to just something pretty random (which had been the case in some past packets). All in all, bowl was pretty good. Bee though....
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Re: Emergency Situation - All Writers Needed (RESOLVED)

Post by Cheynem » Tue Apr 07, 2015 3:08 pm

So to be clear, I don't want Dave to full on recapitulate every gory detail/bash Matt here, but we never really got the "full and detailed explanation." Anyway, what I'm most interested in is:

1. How was it possible for Matt Weiner to be responsible singlehandedly for so many sets and yet, as of the beginning of March, have basically no questions written for NHBB Nationals and College History Bowl? Was no one checking up on him? Was there no system of accountability? I realize Dave is pretty busy, but even something as simple as "I share a spreadsheet with you so you can check my progress" would seemingly have raised some red flags (unless Matt was full on lying).

2. What does Dave plan on doing for the future? I have debated this with several people and I think that asking a single person to produce these sets is unrealistic and unsustainable; others disagree. I'd be interested in hearing what Dave is thinking, while understanding he's got a ton his plate that he can't commit to anything right now.
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Re: Emergency Situation - All Writers Needed (RESOLVED)

Post by Adventure Temple Trail » Tue Apr 07, 2015 3:42 pm

Cheynem wrote:2. What does Dave plan on doing for the future? I have debated this with several people and I think that asking a single person to produce these sets is unrealistic and unsustainable; others disagree. I'd be interested in hearing what Dave is thinking, while understanding he's got a ton his plate that he can't commit to anything right now.
I now have plenty of thoughts about this which I would be glad to convey here or in private, though I don't suspect I will have time to commit them to writing until this year's high school Nationals has concluded in a few weeks.
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Re: Emergency Situation - All Writers Needed (RESOLVED)

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Thu Apr 09, 2015 1:34 am

Over the past month or so, several writers have been working nonstop to finish all the sets for NHBB Nationals Weekend. As of 1AM today, all questions for US History Bee, the National History Bee, the National History Bowl, and the Geography Olympiad have been written by our team. Over the next 2.5 weeks, we will be editing this set with a fine-tooth comb to make sure it is as polished as possible. We look forward to seeing how participants receive the set. Best of luck to all competitors!
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