Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

I mean, okay, the second are better if you don't like trash, like me, but they certainly aren't really distinct in theory, right? Just translate teams somewhat in ability and it's not meaningfully different to have a different-subject giveaway and for a question to have a different-subject middle clue.

The issue is that they're difficult distributionally. Aren't they?
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

You mean you want awful giveaways?
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by Terrible Shorts Depot »

everyday847 wrote:I mean, okay, the second are better if you don't like trash, like me, but they certainly aren't really distinct in theory, right? Just translate teams somewhat in ability and it's not meaningfully different to have a different-subject giveaway and for a question to have a different-subject middle clue.

The issue is that they're difficult distributionally. Aren't they?
I like trash, and I'm pretty good at it, but I still want to chuck babies everytime a tossup on Elizabeth Bennet involves a Keira Knightley clue. Why? Because I've never read any Austen and I don't know much about her works other than some names and some very general plot outlines. Thus, I should not be getting a Elizabeth Bennet tossup. Even though there is no shame, only points, I still feel dirty after I beat people who have actually read books to tossups on the book because I know who was in the movie adaptation. Stuff like that should be shrunken down to an absolute minimum.

This brings me to the more general point about cross-distributional giveaways. They shouldn't be around. It isn't really logical that a hypothetical tossup that begins with like 6 lines of hardcore organic chemistry should end with a history giveaway. It's kind of like a hose, except it doesn't lead to a illogical answer. Instead, it leads to a illogical giveaway. Should I, who knows nothing at all about science, much less chem, be allowed to get a chem tossup off of a history giveaway? No. While reflex buzzes will always exist, we should endeavor to eliminate reflex buzzes that are the result of bizzare distributional shifts near the end of the questions. For example, a common link lit tossup on Germany should end with something like "name this country that produced Goethe and Mann", not "name this country that possesses Schleswig-Holstein and Westphalia". Basically, what I'm calling for is either distributional orthodoxy (all lit clues) or complete mixing (1 lit clue, 1 history clue, 1 science clue, that sort ofthing). Thoughts?
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

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Jeremy Gibbs Free Energy wrote:You mean you want awful giveaways?
No, I'm saying that you can't support interdisciplinary questions and decry awful giveaways because the idea of having questions where clues of different difficulty draw on different subjects is nothing but a difficulty-translated version of the awful giveaway. Were you intentionally misreading my argument, hence your need to ask if I actually wanted something awful, as though I hadn't thought through the implications, or have I made some grave but obvious error in logic?
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

That post was directed at Dwight, since I didn't see you had posted on the next page.
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by cvdwightw »

Andy, I'm not sure where you're coming from with the whole "difficulty-translated" argument. In fact, the very translation of that difficulty is what makes an interdisciplinary question an interdisciplinary question. You're stating the party line that if a question starts with a clue on a certain subject it has to stay on that subject the entire time, and that it's a terrible question if it doesn't - I disagree, because the difficulty translation is exactly what makes the question pyramidal (if it was a collection of possible giveaways on Germany, that would be a bad question), and therefore not terrible.

Look, if a clue comes up mentioning a Wiener process and I know next to nothing about Brownian motion (except the basics), but I've read portions of my probability textbook that talk about Wiener processes and give Brownian motion as an example of a Wiener process, I'm sure as hell going to buzz with Brownian motion even though I don't know any actual chem/physics clues that pertain to it. Do you argue that my points are somehow more fraudulent because I buzzed on a "difficulty-translated mathematics giveaway"?

Charlie, I do not support awful giveaways - "FTP name this opera that provided the soundtrack to The Bad News Bears" is not only not a giveaway but awful if it's an opera question - but I do think that there is way too much "stratification" of subjects. We're seeing categories (e.g. current events) get shafted to the "your choice" distribution where everyone writes on trash anyway so these otherwise academic topics get maybe 1-2 questions a tournament if they're lucky. Interdisciplinary academic questions is one of those topics. If NAQT is abusing the "2/3 of a subject makes it that subject" rule and adding trash in the other 1/3 of the question, or is abusing the "less than 2/3 of a subject makes it GK/miscellaneous" rule to make a question half-trash half-academic, then yeah, that's a problem, as people have pointed out. Perhaps it's because I've always been and always will be a generalist, but the multiple-category kind of question favors people who can integrate clues from multiple subjects, or at least prompts fewer people to sit out on the chance that "oh there's a clue I recognize," and I do not find these qualities a detriment to good quizbowl.

I don't see why a tossup that describes the portrayal of Jesus in art and literature and ends with a sentence about a few Biblical exploits and ends "FTP name this carpenter from Nazareth" is bad, as long as the art/literature/Bible clues make it still pyramidal. I guess maybe you're putting a team without an art expert at an early disadvantage, or you're putting all the hard clues in the art part so that teams with decent but not great art players will not get the tossup but teams with decent but not great lit players will - if we accept that all academic knowledge worth asking about is worth knowing, then it should not matter how or why we got a certain tossup. Should we invalidate every Chris Ray buzz on Antarctica because his entire knowledge of that continent stems from Alien vs. Predator?

You have yet to convince me that interdisciplinary questions that draw from 2 or more subjects (roughly equally) are systemically bad; so far the only reasonable arguments are that (1) it skews the distribution of any given packet (which, given that we're talking about a single question every packet, and we're not replacing it with OMG TRASH, I don't see major problems with - I have yet to see someone prove to me that the ACF distribution is the ideal distribution and that no tournament that wants to be good will ever deviate from it) and (2) there's nowhere in the distribution for it (which I argue is a mistake, and a result of further stratification of packet guidelines).
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

I mean, it's simple - if you know art, you get the points on an art question. If you know Literature, you get the points on a literature question. There are even oodles of ways to incorporate what might seem like otherwise out-of-category clues into clues about the subject at hand, so I don't see any reason not to do that.
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

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la2pgh wrote:Because I've never read any Austen and I don't know much about her works other than some names and some very general plot outlines. Thus, I should not be getting a Elizabeth Bennet tossup.

This brings me to the more general point about cross-distributional giveaways. They shouldn't be around.... While reflex buzzes will always exist, we should endeavor to eliminate reflex buzzes that are the result of bizzare distributional shifts near the end of the questions. For example, a common link lit tossup on Germany should end with something like "name this country that produced Goethe and Mann", not "name this country that possesses Schleswig-Holstein and Westphalia".
There's an ideal-of-question-purity thing going on here that I really don't understand. Why shouldn't you answer a tossup that ends "FTP name this woman prejudiced against Fitzwilliam Darcy, the protagonist of a Jane Austen novel"? Giveaways exist precisely to reward people with shallow knowledge. The player with deeper Austen knowledge will buzz in earlier in the question, and if they sit until you out-buzz them despite their superior knowledge, that's bad play for them that costs them points. It doesn't make you complicit in bad quizbowl. Similarly on the common link tossup: if no one knows about the minor German authors, why does it matter what category the giveaway clue is in? (Again, I assume that interdisciplinary/commonlink/whatever tossups exist in limited enough numbers that they don't introduce systematic problems into the distribution. I can't think of a theory-of-quizbowl meaningful difference between the 1/2 of such things in a typical NAQT packet and the 1/1 your choice in the ACF distribution.)

EDIT: Or, really, what Dwight said while I was posting.
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

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cvdwightw wrote:We're seeing categories (e.g. current events) get shafted to the "your choice" distribution where everyone writes on trash anyway so these otherwise academic topics get maybe 1-2 questions a tournament if they're lucky.
Are there non-current events examples of these categories? I have always assumed that packet-submission tournaments place less emphasis on current events for straightforward structural reasons, not because the writers would prefer to write on other subjects and are constrained by the distribution.
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

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cvdwightw wrote:Andy, I'm not sure where you're coming from with the whole "difficulty-translated" argument. In fact, the very translation of that difficulty is what makes an interdisciplinary question an interdisciplinary question. You're stating the party line that if a question starts with a clue on a certain subject it has to stay on that subject the entire time, and that it's a terrible question if it doesn't - I disagree, because the difficulty translation is exactly what makes the question pyramidal (if it was a collection of possible giveaways on Germany, that would be a bad question), and therefore not terrible.

Look, if a clue comes up mentioning a Wiener process and I know next to nothing about Brownian motion (except the basics), but I've read portions of my probability textbook that talk about Wiener processes and give Brownian motion as an example of a Wiener process, I'm sure as hell going to buzz with Brownian motion even though I don't know any actual chem/physics clues that pertain to it. Do you argue that my points are somehow more fraudulent because I buzzed on a "difficulty-translated mathematics giveaway"?
My "difficulty-translated" argument was merely to establish the equivalence of writing a trash giveaway and writing a lit middle clue for a history tossup (or having two history clues, then the rest lit, whatever)--because middle clues are no different from giveaways except that fewer people can buzz on them. Having a trash giveaway when Harvard F plays Dartmouth G at ACF Regionals is no different from having a trash half-of-question when Chicago plays Illinois at ACF Fall, since someone in each case will in fact be able to answer it there. (Hell, it's no different whatever your field, and whatever the reality, but what matters is the framework you're looking at things through: what's important is that as long as middle clues are meant to be buzzable, as opposed to fluff, a question that switches in the middle is just as bad.)

I don't pass judgement on subjects that are themselves inherently interdisciplinary. I try strictly to write only clues of one discipline, no matter how interdisciplinary the subject, but there are some subjects where you can't maintain that--which is why the ACF distribution allows some amount of "your choice" in submission in the big three.
Perhaps it's because I've always been and always will be a generalist, but the multiple-category kind of question favors people who can integrate clues from multiple subjects, or at least prompts fewer people to sit out on the chance that "oh there's a clue I recognize," and I do not find these qualities a detriment to good quizbowl.

I don't see why a tossup that describes the portrayal of Jesus in art and literature and ends with a sentence about a few Biblical exploits and ends "FTP name this carpenter from Nazareth" is bad, as long as the art/literature/Bible clues make it still pyramidal. I guess maybe you're putting a team without an art expert at an early disadvantage, or you're putting all the hard clues in the art part so that teams with decent but not great art players will not get the tossup but teams with decent but not great lit players will - if we accept that all academic knowledge worth asking about is worth knowing, then it should not matter how or why we got a certain tossup. Should we invalidate every Chris Ray buzz on Antarctica because his entire knowledge of that continent stems from Alien vs. Predator?

You have yet to convince me that interdisciplinary questions that draw from 2 or more subjects (roughly equally) are systemically bad; so far the only reasonable arguments are that (1) it skews the distribution of any given packet (which, given that we're talking about a single question every packet, and we're not replacing it with OMG TRASH, I don't see major problems with - I have yet to see someone prove to me that the ACF distribution is the ideal distribution and that no tournament that wants to be good will ever deviate from it) and (2) there's nowhere in the distribution for it (which I argue is a mistake, and a result of further stratification of packet guidelines).
I'd never say that these questions are bad quizbowl, inherently bad tossups, et cetera. What I do believe is that they can be, and if not properly managed they also can be a nightmare for someone trying to maintain the distribution. I'm not passing judgement on whether this is also the best distribution; this is a general statement that if you seek to maintain a distribution, these questions affect it in bad and unpredictable ways.
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

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bt_green_warbler wrote:There's an ideal-of-question-purity thing going on here that I really don't understand. Why shouldn't you answer a tossup that ends "FTP name this woman prejudiced against Fitzwilliam Darcy, the protagonist of a Jane Austen novel"? Giveaways exist precisely to reward people with shallow knowledge. The player with deeper Austen knowledge will buzz in earlier in the question, and if they sit until you out-buzz them despite their superior knowledge, that's bad play for them that costs them points. It doesn't make you complicit in bad quizbowl. Similarly on the common link tossup: if no one knows about the minor German authors, why does it matter what category the giveaway clue is in? (Again, I assume that interdisciplinary/commonlink/whatever tossups exist in limited enough numbers that they don't introduce systematic problems into the distribution. I can't think of a theory-of-quizbowl meaningful difference between the 1/2 of such things in a typical NAQT packet and the 1/1 your choice in the ACF distribution.)

EDIT: Or, really, what Dwight said while I was posting.
Charlie Rosenthal is saying that he shouldn't beat a more familiar player to a tossup on P&P when his knowledge consists of shallow knowledge plus Keira Knightley. The issue there is that if he didn't have the opportunity to get it off Keira clues, the Austen reader would have won. Presumably if all the clues for which a perfectly familiar player would have an advantage over a completely unfamiliar player had already been read [i.e. after the dead giveaway], it wouldn't give the tossup to the wrong player, at least, to have that clue--but it would give a tossup to a player who under some perspectives shouldn't get it at all. Those perspectives include that which says that that isn't very different from having an additional independent tossup: the lit tossup goes dead, the trash tossup is answered.

I understand 1/1 your choice to be mostly trash, really; interdisciplinary questions in ACF would have to find themselves elsewhere.
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by cvdwightw »

bt_green_warbler wrote:Are there non-current events examples of these categories? I have always assumed that packet-submission tournaments place less emphasis on current events for straightforward structural reasons, not because the writers would prefer to write on other subjects and are constrained by the distribution.
In general, I find current events, interdisciplinary questions, and art film as the chief three categories/subcategories that are "not academic enough" to fit within the academic part of the distribution, and not "fun" enough for people to write to show up in the "Your Choice" distribution. Literary criticism used to be a fourth category until people started accepting it as real literature, and it's possible that minor social science is another such place where people are constrained by the distribution.

Andy - I do agree with you that trash should not be part of an otherwise academic question. I disagree that switching topics in the middle of a question is somehow equivalent to tacking on a trash giveaway. I view common link tossups as a series of mini-tossups on the same answer; to me, it does not matter if these mini-tossups are all in the same category or all in different categories. If you accept the premise that common link tossups are acceptable, you should accept the similar premise that interdisciplinary tossups are acceptable. Tacking on a different-discipline giveaway is bad because (whether or not the conversion numbers imply this) you are inherently assuming that your question is too hard for your target audience, and they need some trash/geography/unrelated subject giveaway to convert the question at your desired rate, in which case you should be writing easier questions.
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by Matt Weiner »

bt_green_warbler wrote:What's "distribution-subverting" about interdisciplinary tossups? (Assume a limit on the number of them present at any one time.)
rhentzel wrote:If a question has at least two-thirds of its material from a subject area, we assign it there. Otherwise it goes to GK/mixed (unless it's more than two-third sports and popular culture, but not two-thirds of either alone. In that case we send it to sports or popular culture.)
The fact that you could have a packet with 52 questions in it that have history content, or 52 questions that have trash content, or 52 questions that have geography content, and it could come out of the system as fitting the distribution, is pretty much what "distribution-subverting" is. And why should I assume a limit when all information suggests there is no such limit?
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

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Matt Weiner wrote:
bt_green_warbler wrote:What's "distribution-subverting" about interdisciplinary tossups? (Assume a limit on the number of them present at any one time.)
rhentzel wrote:If a question has at least two-thirds of its material from a subject area, we assign it there. Otherwise it goes to GK/mixed (unless it's more than two-third sports and popular culture, but not two-thirds of either alone. In that case we send it to sports or popular culture.)
The fact that you could have a packet with 52 questions in it that have history content, or 52 questions that have trash content, or 52 questions that have geography content, and it could come out of the system as fitting the distribution, is pretty much what "distribution-subverting" is. And why should I assume a limit when all information suggests there is no such limit?
1. In theory it could, but such a monstrosity would of course be rejected in set editing.

2. The limit I mentioned was the explicit cap on general knowledge/miscellaneous questions.

3. There's no evidence questions of the "one-third or less interdisciplinary" type make up anything other than a tiny fraction of NAQT's questions.

In summary: I think this is a strawman, no more worth worrying about than "what if every team attending ACF regionals wrote the 1/1 your choice in its packet on 18th-century German literature?"
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

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No, dude, it's one of the things people complain about most regarding NAQT packets, and it's because it's a huge actual problem, not because it's a "straw man." There's trash and geography clues all over the questions counted as other categories.
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

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I've been keeping the trash out of the history questions for a year now. And my gut sense is that there are as many history clues in our geography questions as there are geography clues in the history (but the H-G hybrid is one kind of interdisciplinary question that I think both can and should exist, in a way that several other things discussed in this thread shouldn't).
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

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Matt Weiner wrote:No, dude, it's one of the things people complain about most regarding NAQT packets, and it's because it's a huge actual problem, not because it's a "straw man." There's trash and geography clues all over the questions counted as other categories.
My impression is that this wasn't a problem in the last several ICT sets--do you think it was a problem in those sets, or are you referring to IS/A sets? I can't tell how wide a swath of sets your comment is meant to cover.

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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

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I am seriously doubtful of NAQT's assertion that they do not market A sets to colleges when the head of NAQT runs an A set tournament at a college at least once a year.
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

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William Afham wrote:I am seriously doubtful of NAQT's assertion that they do not market A sets to colleges when the head of NAQT runs an A set tournament at a college at least once a year.
Well, also because the head of NAQT markets A sets to colleges. Where was this assertion made?
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

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setht wrote:My impression is that this wasn't a problem in the last several ICT sets--do you think it was a problem in those sets, or are you referring to IS/A sets? I can't tell how wide a swath of sets your comment is meant to cover.
It seems that this happens more as the difficulty level goes down, because a frequent reason for it is to make an overly hard answer more buzzable. Admittedly, I only found two examples of it in the first packet of an A-set from last year that I was looking at, and both of those were linguistic right turns rather than trash or geography. It's quite possible that this problem has been mitigated in the last couple of years; I will look at some recent packets more systematically and see.
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

I thought they were all over the place when I was moderating IS 80A last weekend.
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by Important Bird Area »

Matt Weiner wrote:look at some recent packets more systematically and see.
I just looked at the tossups in rounds 2 and 3 of the 2008 HSNCT (chosen because it was the most recent cleared set with packets in my inbox...). The following were the clues I found that crossed categories:

"...For 10 points--name this Russian author who was born Aleksey Peshkov, a leader of socialist realism after whom the city of Nizhny Novgorod was renamed in the Soviet era." (geography clue at the end of a literature tossup)

"fossils of (*) one-meter-tall hominids dubbed "hobbits." For 10 points--identify this member of the Lesser Sunda chain named by the Portuguese and Spanish word for 'flowers.'" (geography/language clue at the end of a paleontology tossup)

a current events tossup on Carla Bruni that begins by discussing the contents of her albums. (could be considered a trash/ce hybrid)

a geography tossup on the Natchez Trace that's roughly half history (but counted against the geography distribution)

"...For 10 points--name this largest toothed whale, one example of which is Moby Dick." (literature clue at the end of a biology tossup)

"not the Essequibo River, according to the resolution of a border dispute in the 1890s over gold-mining regions claimed by Venezuela..." (history clue in the middle of a geography tossup)

"departing King Gyanendra. For 10 points--name this landlocked country in the Himalayas with capital Kathmandu." (geography clue at the end of a current events tossup)

So, let's see. Out of 50 tossups in these packets (I'm excluding the two that are formally distributed as GK), seven displayed cross-category clues.

original categories:
literature:1
science: 2
current events: 2
geography: 2

intrusive clue content from other categories:
geography: 3
trash: 1
history: 2
literature: 1

So that nets out as the following:
+2 history clues
+1 geography clue
+1 trash clue
-2 science clues
-2 current events clues

Maybe this is a problem; it's noteworthy that the complaints focus on pop culture and geography, which NAQT is often criticized for overrepresenting in its formal distribution.

As I suspected, many or most of these interdisciplinary clues are in fact at the end of tossups. It's not obvious to me that these are necessarily overly-hard answers, either.
Personally, I don't think there's anything wrong with, say, the Gorky tossup. For questions like this to actually systematically change the outcomes of games, you would need a significant population of teams that are dominant in geography but have literally zero knowledge in a range of other categories (and even then it would only show up as they defeat hypothesized goldfish teams that don't know about Flores man or the island of Flores itself.)
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by at your pleasure »

I'm going to repeat myself:
A question with a random "interdiscipinary givaway" may either
A)Have an equally gettable givaway that is actually related to the subject.
B) Be otherwise ungettable.
If the former is the case, then why not use the related givaway? It has no effect on conversion and garuantees that the tossup uniformly measures knowledge of the subject. If the latter is the case, then it is probably too hard of a tossup, and should be replaced with a more appropriate tossup on a better know subject within that distirbution.
Put another way: Why bother with the "Biblical exploits clues" at the end of your(presumably mostly fine arts) tossup on Jesus when you can use, say, clues on any number of well-known artworks with Jesus as a subject?
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by Important Bird Area »

Anti-Climacus wrote:A question with a random "interdisciplinary giveaway" may either
A)Have an equally gettable giveaway that is actually related to the subject.
B) Be otherwise ungettable.
I think that's a false dichotomy; I would consider the examples listed above as C) gettable tossups with a giveaway that increases conversion for teams in the lower half of the field.
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by dtaylor4 »

bt_green_warbler wrote:
Anti-Climacus wrote:A question with a random "interdisciplinary giveaway" may either
A)Have an equally gettable giveaway that is actually related to the subject.
B) Be otherwise ungettable.
I think that's a false dichotomy; I would consider the examples listed above as C) gettable tossups with a giveaway that increases conversion for teams in the lower half of the field.
OK, but do they not fall under A?
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by kactigger »

a current events tossup on Carla Bruni that begins by discussing the contents of her albums. (could be considered a trash/ce hybrid)
If I remember right, the contents of her album in question was a song she said was about Sarkozy, calling him "her Colombian crack." Is that really trash? It wasn't a random song she wrote about flowers.
If a question about Michelle Obama started out with something she said about her husband on Oprah, would that be trash?

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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by Important Bird Area »

dtaylor4 wrote:
bt_green_warbler wrote:
Anti-Climacus wrote:A question with a random "interdisciplinary giveaway" may either
A)Have an equally gettable giveaway that is actually related to the subject.
B) Be otherwise ungettable.
I think that's a false dichotomy; I would consider the examples listed above as C) gettable tossups with a giveaway that increases conversion for teams in the lower half of the field.
OK, but do they not fall under A?
Most of these don't, in my opinion; the most gettable related-category clues for these things are the ones right before the FTP. To wit:

"he wrote ~The Lower Depths~" (Gorky)
"hominids known as hobbits found there" (Flores)
"Maoist insurgents...King Gyanendra" (Nepal)

(apologies for the art-of-AHAN-Junior nested-quote at the top...)
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

bt_green_warbler wrote: Most of these don't, in my opinion; the most gettable related-category clues for these things are the ones right before the FTP. To wit:

"he wrote ~The Lower Depths~" (Gorky)
"hominids known as hobbits found there" (Flores)
"Maoist insurgents...King Gyanendra" (Nepal)

(apologies for the art-of-AHAN-Junior nested-quote at the top...)
Then we apply category B:
Anti-Climacus wrote:B) Be otherwise ungettable.
Either you could have ended the question at the clues you just listed because they ARE converted enough, or they would not be converted enough and so you must have another clue. Either there is a clue in the same category that gives it away or there is not.

If these really are false dichotomies, then I'm lost here.
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by Important Bird Area »

kactigger wrote:
a current events tossup on Carla Bruni that begins by discussing the contents of her albums. (could be considered a trash/ce hybrid)
If I remember right, the contents of her album in question was a song she said was about Sarkozy, calling him "her Colombian crack." Is that really trash? It wasn't a random song she wrote about flowers.
If a question about Michelle Obama started out with something she said about her husband on Oprah, would that be trash?

Kevin C.
Here's the text:

""The Most Beautiful of the Neighborhood" and "The You of Me" are songs from this woman's 2003 album ~Someone Told Me~, and she adapted the poems of Emily Dickinson for her 2007 album ~No Promises~. A model for Guess jeans in the late 1980s, in a recent interview she claimed to prefer polyandry to monogamy. Justine Levy's novel (*) ~Nothing Serious~ attacked--for 10 points--what wife of French President Nicholas Sarkozy?"

I thought this could be reasonably identified as a "pop culture" leadin.

(But I see you were the writer, Kevin, so maybe you can tell us whether you intended to smuggle some trash into the academic parts of the distribution...)
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by Important Bird Area »

everyday847 wrote:Either you could have ended the question at the clues you just listed because they ARE converted enough, or they would not be converted enough and so you must have another clue. Either there is a clue in the same category that gives it away or there is not.
My point is that "converted enough" is a spectrum, not a binary. Of course we expect teams in the upper half of the HSNCT field to answer these questions before the giveaway, but we also believe that the presence of such giveaways will help teams near the bottom of the field answer the tossup more often than they otherwise would.

EDIT: For teams near the bottom of the field, consider the numerous late-HSNCT games in which the winning team scores less than 150 points. Deliberately making these tossups harder by removing the giveaways punishes those bottom-twenty teams without actually improving anything for the average or good team that has already answered the question before the offending giveaway even has a chance to be read.
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by Ike »

(But I see you were the writer, Kevin, so maybe you can tell us whether you intended to smuggle some trash into the academic parts of the distribution...)
Are we really considering current events the academic part of a distribution?
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

The principle many tournaments operate on is that the tossup is by definition too hard if it can't be converted by 85-90% attending without resorting to cross-distro or otherwise unacceptable clues.

However strange a glee the idea of Sachs-Wolfe tossups at HSNCT inspires in me, I would have to give it away with "name this doubly-eponymous effect that sounds like it was named after an instrument played by Charlie Parker and a character from Star Fox with the last name O'Donnell." Besides that giveaway being really long, it's just a crazy enough strawman to prove my point!

Seriously though, my point is this: there's nothing structurally different between that and giving extra-category hints for Gorky; the issue remains that you're out of your distribution just to raise conversion, even though in my case you're doing it so you have nonzero conversion, while in your case you're trying to boost from 50 to 85, or something.
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by kactigger »

(But I see you were the writer, Kevin, so maybe you can tell us whether you intended to smuggle some trash into the academic parts of the distribution...)
I remember that I originally wrote the question to discuss the Colombian crack reference, but it was edited out, presumably because of possible complaints from parents. I hate trash questions and would be happy to have all of them out of the NAQT distribution, so its safe to say I wasn't trying to back-door anything:)
But, should the "trash" activities of a public figure not be included in an otherwise acceptable, pyramidal CE tossup? For instance, Scooter Libby (to reach into the past somewhat) wrote a book set in set in 19th century Japan that has a bizarre scene involving sexual relations between a bear and a 8 year old girl that got a lot of attention. Is that a legitimate CE clue for Libby, or not?
I'm asking this, incidentally, as a serious question that I would like high school players to respond to (as I sometimes write NAQT's CE questions).
Accepting that the CE distribution exists, what are good/not good types of questions/clues?

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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

kactigger wrote:But, should the "trash" activities of a public figure not be included in an otherwise acceptable, pyramidal CE tossup? For instance, Scooter Libby (to reach into the past somewhat) wrote a book set in set in 19th century Japan that has a bizarre scene involving sexual relations between a bear and a 8 year old girl that got a lot of attention. Is that a legitimate CE clue for Libby, or not?
If the attention that he got was newsworthy and can count as a current event, then sure.
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by The Atom Strikes! »

Ike wrote:
(But I see you were the writer, Kevin, so maybe you can tell us whether you intended to smuggle some trash into the academic parts of the distribution...)
Are we really considering current events the academic part of a distribution?
When they are written about legitimate political decisions and global actions, rather than celebrity scandals, then yes, they are academic questions. While they are academic, I don't believe that more than a 1/1 distribution is really appropriate.
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by Theory Of The Leisure Flask »

everyday847 wrote:The principle many tournaments operate on is that the tossup is by definition too hard if it can't be converted by 85-90% attending without resorting to cross-distro or otherwise unacceptable clues.

However strange a glee the idea of Sachs-Wolfe tossups at HSNCT inspires in me, I would have to give it away with "name this doubly-eponymous effect that sounds like it was named after an instrument played by Charlie Parker and a character from Star Fox with the last name O'Donnell." Besides that giveaway being really long, it's just a crazy enough strawman to prove my point!

Seriously though, my point is this: there's nothing structurally different between that and giving extra-category hints for Gorky; the issue remains that you're out of your distribution just to raise conversion, even though in my case you're doing it so you have nonzero conversion, while in your case you're trying to boost from 50 to 85, or something.
An interdisciplinary giveaway that increased conversion from 50 to 85 would be less than ideal not because of the subject of the giveaway, but because 50 to 85 is a bit of a difficulty cliff. If it went from, say, 75 to 95, I wouldn't have a problem with it. This idea that we shouldn't ever include interdisciplinary clues in our questions ignores the fact that this thing we're trying to reward called "knowledge" very often doesn't hew to strict categories, and in fact a lot of subjects (many if not most social sciences *including the one I'm currently studying*, literary criticism, cognitive science, geography, really most non-hard science disciplines these days) have substantial real interdisciplinary content. Also, I'm skeptical that our brains intuitively accept such compartmentalization, or that we really only buzz on on-subject clues. For example, at the MO mirror I got a tossup on the Council of Trent due to knowledge of the Pope Marcellus Mass. Should I have not buzzed?

Note this is not an endorsement of trash giveaways, just a defense of interdisciplinary knowledge and interdisciplinary questions.
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

I admit that things that are inherently interdisciplinary can include both kinds of clues; they certainly may be unavoidable. Dwight gave the example of Brownian motion; there are hundreds of examples that border between math and CS, notably.

But where they can be avoided, they ought to be.
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by Captain Sinico »

bt_green_warbler wrote:My point is that "converted enough" is a spectrum, not a binary. Of course we expect teams in the upper half of the HSNCT field to answer these questions before the giveaway, but we also believe that the presence of such giveaways will help teams near the bottom of the field answer the tossup more often than they otherwise would.
I think that it is you, Jeff Hoppes, who are here posing a false dichotomy. The choice you face as a writer or editor is not that between a geography/trash/whatever giveaway and no giveaway at all, but rather that between a geography/trash/whatever giveaway and a giveaway with clues true to whatever field the question's in. If no such giveaway is available, then someone has made a poor answer selection.
In fact, it seems to me that answer selection is the most important issue here. It looks to me like a lot of the questions you've posted have frankly ill-conditioned answers, i.e. ones that don't support properly academic questions at this level. To choose two examples, I would blush and balk at writing an ostensibly academic science tossup on Flores man or academic current events question on Carla Bruni: the former was never especially important scientifically (though it kicked up a lot of "OMG HOBBITS!" exclamations for a week or two in the popular media and a few legit journal articles to be sure) and probably has no lasting import at all (I hear people will be short if they're malnourished?) as it's turned out; the latter has presumably no academic merit or clues whatsoever. Thus, the former to me is probably more like what an academic current events answer should be, while the latter is decidedly a trash answer and I fail to see how it can be anything else at this point.
I'd also like to add that, of course, one can dispute what clues belong to which area. For example, I think one could validly argue that knowledge of the life of Jesus is indispensable to the understanding of Renaissance art and therefore perhaps not necessarily a religion but not art clue and that even the staunchest would-be divisors of clue areas could easily be placated in this case (like, if I change "this dude attended a wedding at Cana where he changed water into wine" to "this dude was depicted by Veronese and Giotto attending..." I don't think anyone's going to dispute that the latter's an art clue while not significantly different from the former.)
I don't see that as relevant here; it looks like all the foreign-subject giveaways are clear-cut changes of subject. However, I still wanted to make this point because I think efforts like that of Mr. Watkins here are misguided for this reason. For example, there is little or even no proper distinction between theoretical physics and math (even as academic subjects, much less as quizbowl clues) and any attempt to draw such is a fool's errand. There are innumerable other instances of this same phenomenon (like my aforementioned hagiography vs. Renaissance art.)

MaS

PS: Perhaps you're unaware of this, Watkins et al., but I don't think people have the issue with interdisciplinary questions that you evidently do. As long as they're solidly academic, I certainly don't have a problem with them - I develop a problem when they're used to smuggle even more trash and geography into a distribution (as is often the case.)
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by Important Bird Area »

Captain Scipio wrote:I think that it is you, Jeff Hoppes, who are here posing a false dichotomy. The choice you face as a writer or editor is not that between a geography/trash/whatever giveaway and no giveaway at all, but rather between a geography/trash/whatever giveaway and a giveaway with clues true to whatever field the question's in. If no such giveaway is available, then someone has made a poor answer selection.
Fair enough. If the point at issue is that these clues are papering over bad answer selection, whether too hard for the indicated tournament or substantively non-academic, then I and other NAQT writers will know to fix the cause and not the symptom. (For example, by writing on an easier author than Gorky for the next HSNCT, rather than replacing the geography giveaway with ~The Lower Depths~ and then adding another minor work to the leadin.)
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by Captain Sinico »

kactigger wrote:But, should the "trash" activities of a public figure not be included in an otherwise acceptable, pyramidal CE tossup?
I think not: I'd prefer such questions to stick to the relevant, important things a public figure has done in their relevant, important field. If there are no such things, stop writing the question or submit it as trash, because that's what it is. However, I'm more than willing to acknowledge that this is something of a gray area (for example, I just begged the hell out of the question of the definition of relevant and important; it's left as an exercise for future generations to operationalize those...)

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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by Matt Weiner »

This is getting far afield from the discussion of cross-category clues, but I don't see why Carla Bruni is "academic" at all. Lots of public figures have spouses; unless the spouse has done something to be noteworthy in politics or business on their own, they are not "current events," they are just celebrity gossip and therefore trash.
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by Sir Thopas »

bt_green_warbler wrote:
Captain Scipio wrote:I think that it is you, Jeff Hoppes, who are here posing a false dichotomy. The choice you face as a writer or editor is not that between a geography/trash/whatever giveaway and no giveaway at all, but rather between a geography/trash/whatever giveaway and a giveaway with clues true to whatever field the question's in. If no such giveaway is available, then someone has made a poor answer selection.
Fair enough. If the point at issue is that these clues are papering over bad answer selection, whether too hard for the indicated tournament or substantively non-academic, then I and other NAQT writers will know to fix the cause and not the symptom. (For example, by writing on an easier author than Gorky for the next HSNCT, rather than replacing the geography giveaway with ~The Lower Depths~ and then adding another minor work to the leadin.)
I gotta ask, who the heck is getting Gorky off Nizhny Novgorod but not The Lower Depths?
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by Ike »

Fair enough. If the point at issue is that these clues are papering over bad answer selection, whether too hard for the indicated tournament or substantively non-academic, then I and other NAQT writers will know to fix the cause and not the symptom. (For example, by writing on an easier author than Gorky for the next HSNCT, rather than replacing the geography giveaway with ~The Lower Depths~ and then adding another minor work to the leadin.)
I don't want to sound like an elitist or anything, but what are we doing at a national tournament whose writers think Gorky is too hard if they can't mention Novgorod. I personally think that Gorky is convertible with or without the geography clue, but I mean this is a National Tournament, and if half of the teams ( a good estimate? ) don't convert Gorky, is that such a bad thing?

On another note, I personally have seen Gorky in an a-set before, and you guys have tossed up the Lower Depths before in 06 at the HSNCT. I think its Round 19, tossup 12, but I forget. So I find this statement ill-conceived, and part of a "wall of smoke" that writers for NAQT seem to be using to confuse me, if not the rest of the online QB community en masse.

Now maybe, I'm chasing after snarks in Antarctica again, like with my previous dead zone thread, but what really is going on?
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

Ike wrote:"wall of smoke"

dead zone
Meta bonus on Ike Jose geography coming right up.

Seriously, I think what you say here has merit, and I agree with you.
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by Terrible Shorts Depot »

I'd venture to say that The Lower Depths is less obsure than the geography clue. Like, it is a really important work of Russian literature, and Ninzhy Novogord isn't a tremendously important Russian city.
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by at your pleasure »

I gotta ask, who the heck is getting Gorky off Nizhny Novgorod but not The Lower Depths?
The imaginary geography players that NAQT write for.
Now maybe, I'm chasing after snarks in Antarctica again, like with my previous dead zone thread, but what really is going on?
I don't know either, but it really makes me want to see NAQT's distirbution laid out. I suspect, however, that NAQT is being destroyed by a fixation on geography and trivia, as well as the expenditure of producing A-sets.
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by Matt Weiner »

la2pgh wrote:I'd venture to say that The Lower Depths is less obsure than the geography clue. Like, it is a really important work of Russian literature, and Ninzhy Novogord isn't a tremendously important Russian city.
I'd disagree; it is one of the largest cities in Russia and has enough historical importance to be the subject of a delightful history tossup in the 2005 SCT.

More relevantly to this discussion, I think it's an empirical fact that more high school quizbowl players know trivia like "there is some place in Russia called Nizhny Novgorod that was renamed for some writer named Gorky" than know anything whatsoever about Gorky's literary works. I still think that you should write tossups on things people know, rather than write overly hard questions with right-turn cross-category giveaways, but past that the tossup was structured decently.
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by Terrible Shorts Depot »

Matt Weiner wrote:More relevantly to this discussion, I think it's an empirical fact that more high school quizbowl players know trivia like "there is some place in Russia called Nizhny Novgorod that was renamed for some writer named Gorky" than know anything whatsoever about Gorky's literary works. I still think that you should write tossups on things people know, rather than write overly hard questions with right-turn cross-category giveaways, but past that the tossup was structured decently.
This is very true. As long as someone writes questions where there are bad cross catagory giveaways, random high schoolers will put greater emphasis on old city names than good books and other such nonsense. NAQT especially should stop doing this, because more people play IS and A sets than any other product. Bad quiz bowl sort of begets bad quiz bowl, because people who haven't been exposed to better stuff will believe that give aways like the aforementioned Gorky one are okay, and these people will pass this belief on to others until someone challenges it. I know this was the case with me up until the end of last year. I had no problem with bad giveaways, and I thought that NAQT was the be all and end all of good quiz bowl. Luckily, those assumptions were challenged by a variety of people, and I now know otherwise.
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

We have to be careful in our discussions not to label all NAQT categorically as "bad quizbowl." It's extraordinarily far from that; it merely has some questions--perhaps many, depending on your beef--that reflect bad writing decisions. NAQT spreading and destroying Chip, say, would be an unbelievably big net positive.
Andrew Watkins
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Re: Non-question-specific criticisms of IS-80A

Post by Important Bird Area »

Ike wrote:I don't want to sound like an elitist or anything, but what are we doing at a national tournament whose writers think Gorky is too hard if they can't mention Novgorod. I personally think that Gorky is convertible with or without the geography clue, but I mean this is a National Tournament, and if half of the teams ( a good estimate? ) don't convert Gorky, is that such a bad thing?
Well, yes, because 50% is an extremely marginal conversion rate; our specified target is 85%. Writing too many questions that only half of the field will convert starts materially damaging the ability of a tournament to fairly distinguish teams.

I was responding to Andy Watkins's criticism that:
"Either you could have ended the question at the clues you just listed because they ARE converted enough, or they would not be converted enough and so you must have another clue. Either there is a clue in the same category that gives it away or there is not."

I wrote on Friday that I didn't think Gorky (or any of the others) was unreasonably hard. I was responding to Andy Watkins's criticism that "Either you could have ended the question at the clues you just listed because they ARE converted enough, or they would not be converted enough and so you must have another clue. Either there is a clue in the same category that gives it away or there is not." Someone, somewhere in NAQT's editing process thought that we could increase conversion from (say) 70 percent to 80 percent by adding this clue at the end for teams that don't know Russian lit but have a good geography player.
Ike wrote:So I find this statement ill-conceived, and part of a "wall of smoke" that writers for NAQT seem to be using to confuse me, if not the rest of the online QB community en masse.
It was meant to be an example of "cutting out a cross-disciplinary giveaway," not a categorical statement that Gorky himself is too hard for HSNCT. I'm not trying to produce a "wall of smoke" or conduct some bizarre disinformation campaign; I'm still participating in this thread because I would rather talk about standards of good quizbowl than sit back and listen to the older complaint that "NAQT's editors are out of touch with current standards of question quality because they don't read or post on this board."
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