Prompts

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Bugsy
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Prompts

Post by Bugsy » Sat Jan 14, 2006 9:03 pm

We went to TJ II today. It was a good tournament, and A team lost to State College A in the finals. However, there was an issue about one question in the finals bracket. The question asked for a Byzantine monarch, and the monarch's family name (Comnemnus; this name had not come up specifically, although Anna Comnemna was mentioned as a clue (how I came up with Comnemnus in the first place)) was given, but not prompted on. The tournament director ruled that there should not be a prompt here, on the basis that prompts are generally not given for family names of monarchs, as in, for a question on a Tudor monarch, one would not prompt on Tudor.

My question is, should we prompt on Tudor in a question that does not directly refer to Tudor, but is looking for a specific Tudor monarch? After all, the answer of Tudor is, although not the given answer, a more specific answer.

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Post by DumbJaques » Sat Jan 14, 2006 10:10 pm

Wow, so much for my "there's no point in arguing about this here" post.


But actually, I meant there was no point in airing my specific issues over how the protest was handled on the hsqb forum, which I still won't. I would, however, appreciate input on the issue itself, but would like to appeal to everyone involved personally in the situation to make entirely rules-based arguments.

I felt that, at the time of the question, it was clear that it was a Byzantine emperor. The term Comnemnus refers to (I believe, but am not certain) four of them, and is therefore more specific information than simply given in the question, yet clearly ambiguous in terms of to which emperor it refers to. I felt like it should have been prompted, and disagree with the Tudor analogy, the argument the TD used to defend his decision. As the founder of the dynasty, Comnemnus could indeed specifically refer to Alexius I. Indeed, in all of the sources I have found online so far, he is referred to continually as "Alexius I Comnemnus," where as Elizabeth I of England is, I would argue, almost never referred to as Elizbaeth I Tudor." Simlarly, saying "Barca" for Hannibal doesn't uniquely distinguish him from Hamilcar or even Hasdrubal, but I can't see many moderators refusing to prompt ton that. . .

Also: I make no contentions of any sort that we were "robbed" of a victory or anything like that. As I said in my other post, State College won the game, that's not an issue. I'm just wondering about the actual merit of the protest.
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Post by NatusRoma » Sat Jan 14, 2006 10:13 pm

There should be a prompt on the family name of a monarch when the family name is part of a commonly used English language name of the monarch. Since the word Comnenus is often given in the names of the important Comneni, I would say that a prompt on "Comnenus" likely ought to have been a promptable answer to the question you described until the moderator began to say "Comnena". I would use an example here, but I'm not sure if it's yet OK for me to conjecture the answers to the questions at a tournament that I did not attend.

In the case of the Tudor dynasty, Tudor ought not to be promptable except if the answer is Henry VII, who is also known as Henry Tudor. Hugh Capet and Michael Romanov are other such examples.

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Post by Bugsy » Sat Jan 14, 2006 10:20 pm

I apologize if this post seemed to be arguing over the protest. State College beat us fair and square.

I was curious about the underlying principle, however (dynastic names of monarchs being unpromptable), and whether that should be changed. To make this question broader, for what reasons should we prompt?

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Post by leapfrog314 » Sat Jan 14, 2006 11:59 pm

I like the way that the NAQT rules put it: prompt on answers that indicate exact but ambiguous knowledge of the answer, so that the player gives exact and unambiguous knowledge. In fact, all of Section I (Correct Answers) in the NAQT rules are very reasoned and (IMHO) should be the way all quiz bowl accepts answers.

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Post by Howard » Mon Jan 16, 2006 1:15 pm

Technically, the answer given was correct, but not to the precision desired. It'd be for this reason that I'd prompt. What was answered was not incorrect. In general, I think this should be the practice. Answers that are correct but need to be more specific should be prompted. I think the fact that the particular monarch or monarchs in general are not referred to in that way does not nullify the correctness of the answer given.

There was an issue in a game I watched where "Seymour" was not prompted for the character "Seymour Skinner" on The Simpsons. Since this was a fictional character, I thought this should have at least been prompted. Even though this character is most commonly known as Mr. Skinner, "Seymour" is not inherently incorrect, and in general literary characters are referred to by first name. The team ruled incorrect protested, but there was never a decision rendered because it didn't affect the match outcome. I'd be curious to hear other thoughts on this situation as well.

I, too, do not intend this as any type of criticism of TJ. The tournament was well run with good questions that had enough clues of varying difficulty to be appropriate for all levels of teams at the tournament. This tournament reflected an excellent job in all facets by TJ's team.
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Post by BuzzerZen » Mon Jan 16, 2006 6:35 pm

OK, since I know everyone wants to hear it, I'll go ahead and outline what my reasoning was on promptability.

I lacked specific knowledge of Alexius I Comnenus at the time the question was answered, and the judgement wasn't actually protested in a timely manner, so I didn't really consider my decision for more than the usual few seconds at the time I made it. Asked to defend my decision afterward, my general argument was analogy between "Elizabeth I Tudor" and "Alexius I Comnenus." The truth is, since no established rules have anything to say about the "prompting on monarchial family names" issue, it was also a judgement on the purpose of a prompt. As far as I can tell, prompts are indicated when:

1) Two or more similarly named entities could feasibly be the answer of the question. A response that could refer to either/any of the entities is given. The moderator prompts to elicit a unique answer. This situation occurs when two entities of the same class (presidents, musical works, psychologists, etc.) have a similar enough name to potentially both be *guessed* as an answer to the question by a player who lacks knowledge. Canonical Example: T. Roosevelt and F.D. Roosevelt.

2) A question may elicit an answer that is not precisely the uniquely identified answer, but is close enough that the player providing the promptable answer will likely provide the correct answer when prompted. This definition is fuzzy, but an example from our tournament is a question on the town (not the song) of "Conjunction Junction," where "Schoolhouse Rock!" was promptable until a certain point. [edit: Preceding para. isn't relevant to the rest of my opinion, but it is ridiculously open-ended at the moment, so it's probably best to ignore it until I get a chance to rewrite it.]

In both cases, the decision whether to prompt is up to the question writer (in the case under discussion, not myself). I did consider a prompt when provided with Comnenus, but my in-game judgement and decision after further consideration was that (1) did not apply to monarchial last names:

a) The point of prompting is to elicit an exact, unambiguous answer from someone who has provided an exact, ambiguous answer--that is, an answer referring to an Individual, not a Class. Considering that the 4 individuals mentioned in the question had the surname Comnenus, Comnenus was judged to be a Class, hence an inexact answer in the context of the question hence unpromptable.

b) The reason a monarch provided sans regnal number can be prompted is that providing the first name of a monarch clearly references an Individual, not a Class. Even though there are multiple English kings named George, they do not constitute a Class to themselves. They share a characteristic, but they are not a scholarly defined grouping of Individuals. Hence, "George" is an exact, but ambiguous, reference to "King George the n Hanover of England." Alternately, "Hanover" is a reference to a Class of related Individuals, not necessarily named George. Lacking further context, the situation is analagous with "Comnenus" and "Alexius I Comnenus, Byzantine Emperor." "Alexius I" is exact and unambiguous, "Alexius" is exact but ambiguous, "Comnenus" is inexact and ambiguous, as is "Byzantine emperor." The latter two references (again, lacking context) do not meet the requirement for the referrer having exact and unambiguous knowledge of the referent.

c) The reason monarchial family names and the names of dynasties are different from the last names of other people is that in the context of a given question, many monarchs from a given family/dynasty are feasible answers. Answering "Hanover" or "Merovinge" or "Bourbon" does not provide the moderator with confidence that the player has exact and unambiguous knowledge. On the other hand, providing the answer "Mead" to a question about an anthropologist gives the moderator high confidence that the player has exact and unambiguous knowledge. I judged "Comnenus" to be more like the first example than the second.

Hence, my conclusion that a family name of a monarch does not provide high enough confidence to the moderator that the player has exact, unambiguous knowledge, even though the player has answered ambiguously. I reiterate that I lacked any knowledge of the Comnenus family at the time. If the specific case made my general application of what I believed to be the principles of prompting inaccurate, the team involved should have entered a protest in a timely fashion.

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Post by Captain Sinico » Mon Jan 16, 2006 8:45 pm

While it's true in general that a good system of judging what’s promptable wouldn't necessarily grant a prompt on the last name of a ruler, in the specific case of Alexius I Comnenus, a response of "Comnenus" provides a byname of the ruler in question (it happens to be the same as his last name), and bynames are often and properly considered promptable (and sometimes acceptable) answers for the rulers they refer to. In other words, "Comnenus" in Alexius I Comnenus has the same role as "the Conqueror" in William I the Conqueror or "Tudor" in Henry VII Tudor. This would seem to indicate that the response "Comnenus" should be met with a prompt. To counter this fact, one may argue the following:
1. That the respondent may have been attempting to answer with the last name rather than the byname. Even assuming that this distinction is meaningful, there is no way to judge whether or not this is the case given only the response. Therefore, one is compelled, as always, to judge what was said alone, with the full benefit of the doubt.
2. That this byname shouldn't be promptable, as some others (e.g. "the Great") are reasonably not. This argument is much more sound. There are a number of rulers with this byname (Manuel I, John II, Isaac I, etc.) and, in parallel cases involving other common bynames, one might not reasonably expect a prompt.
This is a rather fine (and, to a respondent, perhaps unsatisfying) distinction. However, in light of it, I would say it's proper not to offer a prompt in this case.

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Post by Matt Weiner » Tue Jan 17, 2006 2:15 am

ImmaculateDeception wrote:This is a rather fine (and, to a respondent, perhaps unsatisfying) distinction. However, in light of it, I would say it's proper not to offer a prompt in this case.
When there's no clear guideline, I would err on the side of letting the player show his knowledge.
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Post by NatusRoma » Tue Jan 17, 2006 2:19 am

ImmaculateDeception wrote:...n the specific case of Alexius I Comnenus, a response of "Comnenus" provides a byname of the ruler in question (it happens to be the same as his last name), and bynames are often and properly considered promptable (and sometimes acceptable) answers for the rulers they refer to. In other words, "Comnenus" in Alexius I Comnenus has the same role as "the Conqueror" in William I the Conqueror or "Tudor" in Henry VII Tudor. This would seem to indicate that the response "Comnenus" should be met with a prompt. To counter this fact, one may argue the following:
1. That the respondent may have been attempting to answer with the last name rather than the byname. Even assuming that this distinction is meaningful, there is no way to judge whether or not this is the case given only the response. Therefore, one is compelled, as always, to judge what was said alone, with the full benefit of the doubt.
2. That this byname shouldn't be promptable, as some others (e.g. "the Great") are reasonably not. This argument is much more sound. There are a number of rulers with this byname (Manuel I, John II, Isaac I, etc.) and, in parallel cases involving other common bynames, one might not reasonably expect a prompt.


I'm no historian, but I would view Comnenus as a dynastic name, different sort from appellations such as "the Conqueror" or "the Great". The six rulers of the Comnenid dynasty (which was interrupted for about twenty years) are all known as Alexius I Comnenus, John II Comnenus, etc. This is not usually the case for members of the ruling houses of other nations. An answer of "Comnenus" would, therefore, indicate exact knowledge that the monarch is named something-or-other Comnenus, and was a member of the Comnenid dynasty. However, an answer of "Tudor" for Elizabeth I ought not to be promptable, because Elizabeth I is rarely, in my experience, called "Elizabeth I Tudor".

In the case of, say, Ivan the Great, "the Great" is the sort of byname that shouldn't be prompted on, because it is not really part of the monarch's personal name as commonly used in English, and therefore does not demonstrate exact knowledge.

I agree that this is a very fine distinction indeed.

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Err on the side of prompting...

Post by pblessman » Tue Jan 17, 2006 1:27 pm

I agree with Matt: err on the side of prompting. My guideline is, if a reasonable person could interpret the answer as not wrong, prompt. In this case, people unfamiliar with the exact way dynastic names are used, might consider this to be a last name, and therefore the correct and sufficient answer (according to quiz bowl rules). A prompt will clear up whether the player actually knows the answer (which he/she probably didn't...).

I guess it comes down to that a protest over whether something should or should not have been prompted is always more painful and difficult to sort out if the prompt did NOT occur. If you don't prompt, you can never go back to find out if the player actually knew the answer. It's kind of like calling a runner down in football when there is doubt whether he fumbled before his knee is down. With instant replay, call it a fumble, play out the play, later review it. In QB: Prompt, i.e. don't call the play dead. If it turns out that the play was "over," i.e. the TD decides the reader shouldn't have prompted, you can always go back and read another question to the other team. If you want to be especially efficient, read another question for the other team, record final scores for both outcomes (protest allowed, protest not allowed), and move on.

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Post by fluffy4102 » Sat Jan 21, 2006 11:54 pm

This topic brings up the question about surnames in Asia. I'm wondering how a tournament director would respond. but anyways...

I think it should have been prompted considering it is a surname commonly used with naming the ruler. The Tudor example is not very good.
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Post by Dan Greenstein » Sun Jan 22, 2006 12:10 am

fluffy4102 wrote:This topic brings up the question about surnames in Asia. I'm wondering how a tournament director would respond. but anyways...
For our purposes, Asian surnames work the same way as European surnames: the surname is the required information. You may not prompt on Yukio on a question on Mishima.

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Post by Matt Weiner » Sun Jan 22, 2006 12:39 am

Dan Greenstein wrote:For our purposes, Asian surnames work the same way as European surnames: the surname is the required information. You may not prompt on Yukio on a question on Mishima.
Names that commonly appeared in translation before a few years ago were often reversed for the benefit of Western audiences. Since both "Yukio Mishima" and "Mishima Yukio" exist, and thus it's impossible to tell which is the family name (answer: neither, since that name is a pseudonym) even if you did know that it comes first in Japanese, I would at least prompt if not outrightly accept the first name in such cases.

For authors like Gao Xinjian who only came to prominence only in the past several years and are never written "Xinjian Gao," then obviously you would not accept or prompt on the wrong name.
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Post by Tegan » Sun Jan 22, 2006 12:53 pm

I have to admit that my background in East Asian literature is pretty weak, (Sun Tzu, and a couple of books on Buddhism are all I have read) so my question would be: is it generaly a requirement that a moderator must know when the cutoff occurs for when it is acceptable to prompt on a name, and when they are not. I for one admit that this would be a weakness I possess as a moderator, because I could not tell when the cut off would be, and I frankly would not be in a position to rule (other than deny the protest unless some written evidence was present) if a team protested.

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