2009 HSNCT question discussion

Dormant threads from the high school sections are preserved here.
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by mujason » Mon Jun 01, 2009 11:22 pm

I guess I'll confess to the questions I wrote:
Packet 1: 2008 AL award winners bonus
Packet 2: Frank Lloyd Wright bonus, Madden Curse bonus
Packet 3: Alexander Stephens tu, Berlioz bonus, San Francisco area bonus, and the infamous Cyrillic tu
Packet 4: Somali pirates bonus, Lake of the Woods tu, Alaskan island bonus
Packet 5: Grand Canal (Venice) tu, Sir Walter Scott bonus, Larry Johnson (football rb) tu, the infamous Herman Wouk bonus, heart parts bonus
Packet 6: Yucatan bonus, Niger/Niger river bonus, Gideon v. Wainwright tu, Vegas music bonus, Malaysia tu, Romania tu
Packet 7: Vespasian tu, 2008 pitchers bonus, Oscar Wilde bonus, shark bonus, Caspian Sea bonus, Kevin Rudd bonus, Accra tu
Packet 8: Halo characters bonus, 90210 cast members, the infamous Times Like These tu, Kenya tu
Packet 9: U.S. peninsula bonus, museum bonus
Packet 10: none
Packet 11: H. G. Wells bonus, Kiefer Sutherland's father bonus, Gorky bonus, Asian river bonus, Canary Islands tu
Packet 12: South American leaders bonus, Sakhalin Island tu
Packet 13: Queens of the Stone age bonus
Packet 14: Mario video game villains, Uzbekistan bonus, Loving v. Virginia tu, Wat Tyler tu, Constellation bonus, Law and Order prosecutors bonus
Packet 15: Sri Lanka tu, Tony Gwynn tu
Packet 16: Belize bonus
Packet 17: California rivers
Packet 18: Barnard's Star tu, Leopold and Loeb bonus
Packet 19: Tenacious D bonus, Frederick Law Olmsted bonus, Jim Bunning bonus, Arkansas/Missouri bootheel bonus
Packet 20: Syria bonus, Petersburg tu
Packet 21: A Bug's Life voices bonus, Chess computers bonus, African leaders bonus, Miami suburbs bonus, Naples tu, Brazil's borders bonus
Packet 22: Halifax tu, Beowulf bonus, China Beach bonus, Nicodemus tu
Packet 23: 1998 NBA Draft bonus, Keith Urban bonus
Packet 24: Laos tu, odd-numbered films bonus
Packet 25: Calais tu
Packet 26: Estonia bonus, Lesotho tu, House Committee chairs bonus, James Madison's cabinet bonus, Pilgrim's Progress bonus, William Shatner bonus, waters of Louisiana bonus
That's 82 questions.
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by The Toad to Wigan Pier » Mon Jun 01, 2009 11:35 pm

mujason wrote:I guess I'll confess to the questions I wrote:
Chess computers bonus
Why? and under what category does such a question fall?
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by ihavenoidea » Mon Jun 01, 2009 11:36 pm

The Gideon v Wainwright tossup was atrocious in that I believe its lead-in was something along the lines of: "In this case, Abe Fortas used the 14th amendment..."
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by Charbroil » Mon Jun 01, 2009 11:56 pm

mujason wrote:90210 cast members
Umm...my team actually singled out that bonus for specific vitriol. Seriously, was there an easy part of that bonus?

I'm especially curious since I recall that the NAQT style guide specifically says "If you find yourself writing bonuses that go something like 'Name these characters from Veronica Mars', it's a good idea to make the first part of your bonus 'Veronica Mars.'" Wouldn't this have been a similar situation?
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Tue Jun 02, 2009 12:03 am

Charbroil wrote:
mujason wrote:90210 cast members
Umm...my team actually singled out that bonus for specific vitriol. Seriously, was there an easy part of that bonus?

I'm especially curious since I recall that the NAQT style guide specifically says "If you find yourself writing bonuses that go something like 'Name these characters from Veronica Mars', it's a good idea to make the first part of your bonus 'Veronica Mars.'" Wouldn't this have been a similar situation?
The NAQT style guide also heavily implies that questions shouldn't end mid-sentence; judging from at least one example this past weekend, the style guide may have gone out the window as writers tried to complete the set.
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by Important Bird Area » Tue Jun 02, 2009 12:32 am

DumbJaques wrote:the need to have every question I send perfectly tagged in a completely unique markup language and devoid of even the most minor typo, lest the question be kicked back to me. If these things will no longer be part of the NAQT question writing requirements, it's likely I'd personally sign up to write, and I think plenty of other writers would as well.
More here than I can respond to quickly, but I wanted to talk about this for a second.

The character limits are a real issue that's seen a lot of discussion on this board. But the above is a misconception of how NAQT's writing and editing process works; NAQT's subject editors do not typically send questions back to writers for minor coding problems or easily fixable typos. I'd guess that 10-15 percent of the history questions in my inbox have some kind of coding problem; but I just fix them myself. Of course it's easier for me to fix the coding than it is for the writer; because the writer is learning a new system, and I've edited a couple of thousand NAQT questions. The only part of the writer needs to get right is the top-level subject code, so that the question is routed to the proper editor (rather than delayed while the editor reads it, decides "this is current events, not history," and sends it over to the ce editor). Furthermore: I'll guess that getting the subject code right isn't really a burden to prospective writers, because lots of people on this board also have strong opinions about which categories questions belong in.
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by Susan » Tue Jun 02, 2009 12:39 am

bt_green_warbler wrote:
DumbJaques wrote:the need to have every question I send perfectly tagged in a completely unique markup language and devoid of even the most minor typo, lest the question be kicked back to me. If these things will no longer be part of the NAQT question writing requirements, it's likely I'd personally sign up to write, and I think plenty of other writers would as well.
More here than I can respond to quickly, but I wanted to talk about this for a second.

The character limits are a real issue that's seen a lot of discussion on this board. But the above is a misconception of how NAQT's writing and editing process works; NAQT's subject editors do not typically send questions back to writers for minor coding problems or easily fixable typos. I'd guess that 10-15 percent of the history questions in my inbox have some kind of coding problem; but I just fix them myself. Of course it's easier for me to fix the coding than it is for the writer; because the writer is learning a new system, and I've edited a couple of thousand NAQT questions. The only part of the writer needs to get right is the top-level subject code, so that the question is routed to the proper editor (rather than delayed while the editor reads it, decides "this is current events, not history," and sends it over to the ce editor). Furthermore: I'll guess that getting the subject code right isn't really a burden to prospective writers, because lots of people on this board also have strong opinions about which categories questions belong in.
My guess here is that Chris is not talking about editors kicking questions back to writers for minor coding errors, but rather Ginseng not accepting questions with minor coding errors.
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by cvdwightw » Tue Jun 02, 2009 12:41 am

Guy:

I will out myself as the author of the tetralogy of Fallot bonus part. The two preceding answers to that bonus - also birth defects - were cleft palate and spina bifida. I submit that both of these answers were eminently reasonable high school answers. I assumed that the bonus would be answered by just about anyone who understands "congenital heart defect" and "four symptoms" and has heard of such an answer - indeed, whichever team was playing that bonus in my room (I believe New Trier?) thirtied the bonus with ease. I suppose that I fell into the trap of "if I have known such a thing since middle school, then it must be appropriate for the hard part of a bonus of a tournament featuring a large number of elite teams that are likely going to complain about how the academic questions were too easy."

If my (possibly poor) decision to write a hard bonus part on something you deemed too difficult for high school nationals means that I am "so out of touch with quizbowl in general, especially in high school, that I would advise for them not to write ever again," then I will (effective immediately) resign from writing for HSAPQ and NAQT, tell Jerry I can't work on ACF Regionals anymore, and stop contributing freelance questions to tournaments. However, I do not think that such a decision merits my immediate banishment from the question-writing world. I'm sorry that some of us people who generally write good difficulty-appropriate questions on important academic things went a bit overboard with what our conception of "a hard bonus part that will be converted by roughly the 30 or so teams that are going to finish 7-3 or better, many of whom are elite teams that have been to and done well at college tournaments, and many of whom complain about how what many people seem to think are reasonable second-line clues are in fact too early" is.

My major point being: just because someone wrote a hard bonus part that you felt was way too difficult for the tournament does not mean that they're "so out of touch with quizbowl in general, especially in high school, that I would advise for them not to write ever again;" nor does it mean that someone is a terrible NAQT person writing ridiculously difficult questions out of bad faith just to spite high schoolers. Perhaps - and I would attribute several of the "what is this doing in a high school packet?" bonus parts to this - those questions were written by regular posters and/or readers of this board, who based their concept of difficulty on a possibly skewed idea of what a "top 15% of NAQT HSNCT teams" team is (due to stuff like somewhat regular interactions with really good high school teams), and managed to overshoot it.

For what it's worth, I hear there was a tossup on William Quantrill at PACE NSC that went dead in the final. I also hear that a hsquizbowl.org packet search of William Quantrill returns a single tossup with that answer, and an ACFDB search returns no hits whatsoever (incidentally, those packets searches indicate that I may be the only regular question writer on the circuit who cares about the tetralogy of Fallot, and that my attempts to introduce it to the canon are not only single-handed but as hard parts at the college novice and HSNCT levels). But hey, the only mention of noted "possibly-too-hard-for-high-school tossup answer" William Quantrill in the PACE NSC discussion thread is from Neil from Detroit Country Day, who was surprised at the tossup going dead. None of this "whoever wrote that question needs to stop writing, pronto" stuff. I highly suspect that, were I a PACE writer and submitted the exact same bonus to NSC (or, to use a perhaps slightly more likely example, were crazy Andy Watkins to submit the exact same bonus to NSC), it would be criticized as "that bonus part was too hard" and left at that for possible discussion about the relative difficulty of the bonus part, or perhaps accepted as "something that is hard but that a PACE writer thought was important, so I'll go learn about it."

Let me make my point exactly clear: there are several people, of whom Guy Tabachnick has now convinced me he is one, who have some kind of innate anti-NAQT bias such that any possible mistake made by any writer writing for NAQT, regardless of whatever respect he may or may not have within the larger quizbowl community or whatever regard his non-NAQT questions may be held in, is immediately indicative of the fact that NAQT is terrible, NAQT is out of touch with the circuit, and people that write for NAQT need to stop writing questions because they clearly don't understand what the heck they're doing. I've seen this on multiple SCT/ICT threads, I've seen it on multiple HSNCT threads, and I'm frankly sick and tired of it. I'm sick and tired of myself, or Dave Letzler, or Andrew Yaphe, or any other NAQT writer that might still have some grasp on what is going on in the non-NAQT circuit, having to consistently defend their clue and/or answer choices. I get it. There's too much trash and too much mathcalc, and too much "stealth general knowledge" invading the academic distribution. I know I've been vocal with my "question X sucked" critiques over the years. But I always leave it at the questions. If a whole tournament sucked, then I get after the editors, but I try to do it in such a way that if they're receptive to feedback, then they start learning not to do the things that made the tournament suck. Maybe all of these people with anti-NAQT biases are at the point where they have lumped everything and everyone in any way associated with NAQT into "people that aren't receptive to feedback," I don't know. I do know that NAQT is not Chip Beall or CBI, that they do take well-intentioned feedback very seriously (whether or not they do something with it), and that there is still very real possibility of change to bring NAQT closer to a harmony of "what NAQT believes quizbowl should be" and "what anti-NAQT people believe quizbowl should be."

In the meantime, you can all look forward to that tossup on Tetralogy of Fallot that I'm going to send to some post-Nationals-difficulty tournament at some point next year just to spite all of you. That is, unless Guy is still absolutely convinced that I should just stop writing questions, effective immediately.
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by Important Bird Area » Tue Jun 02, 2009 12:46 am

Thanks, Susan, that makes much more sense. Yes, that happens more than we would like, and certainly happened to me a lot in my first month or so writing for NAQT.

That being said, I don't actually think NAQT's markup language is any more difficult to learn than the ACF formatting guidelines. Copying the format of a previously accepted question and replacing the content works in almost all cases.
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by kayli » Tue Jun 02, 2009 12:54 am

cvdwightw:

I love you.


Also, from reading these posts, I believe that the concensus has decided upon a pragmatic solution to the problems of NAQT: A witch hunt.

Shall we storm NAQT headquarters? And if so, when shall we do it? Who will we burn in our (possibly metaphorical) fire? Everyone is incompetent after all... except Ken Jennings (because the poster guy for quizbowl must be saved!).
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by DumbJaques » Tue Jun 02, 2009 12:59 am


Also, from reading these posts, I believe that the concensus has decided upon a pragmatic solution to the problems of NAQT: A witch hunt.

Shall we storm NAQT headquarters? And if so, when shall we do it? Who will we burn in our (possibly metaphorical) fire? Everyone is incompetent after all... except Ken Jennings (because the poster guy for quizbowl must be saved!).
Hey,

Stop making these posts, as they are against board rules. Stop responding to justifiable criticism of terrible tossups by declaring that people are on a "witch hunt." You have made like zero actual points in all of your posts today (unless you count not wanting to choose your own dining options, I guess), and you're breaking rules on telling people how to post, and now mocking people who are posting correctly with ludicrous hyperbole. Please, stop doing this.
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by Huang » Tue Jun 02, 2009 1:00 am

kldaace wrote: Ken Jennings (because the poster guy for quizbowl must be saved!).
Not really
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by AKKOLADE » Tue Jun 02, 2009 1:02 am

Ugh. Everyone take a deep breath before posting in this thread from here on out.
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by Jeremy Gibbs Paradox » Tue Jun 02, 2009 1:23 am

ihavenoidea wrote:The Gideon v Wainwright tossup was atrocious in that I believe its lead-in was something along the lines of: "In this case, Abe Fortas used the 14th amendment..."
Yeah I don't remember the exact text, and if someone could post that, that'd be great, but technically Abe Fortas used the 14th Amendment for MANY things in some of his opinions as a justice on the court, specifically In re Gault comes to mind. This, of course would have been when he was an attorney arguing before the court. This was an example of what I was speaking of earlier of not really uniquely identifying clue, unneccessary verbiage, and then buzzer race. This is also the one that was before probable cause which I'm sorry, if that's not two jurisprudence tu's back to back to start out a packet, I really don't know what is.

That Foo Fighters q I read on Saturday afternoon and immediately realized that most people who played trash at TRASHionals would not have gotten it based on those clues 6 years ago, so why were we asking about it now? I mean that's not only bad judgment on the part of the writer, but also on the editor.
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by kayli » Tue Jun 02, 2009 1:24 am

DumbJaques wrote:

Also, from reading these posts, I believe that the concensus has decided upon a pragmatic solution to the problems of NAQT: A witch hunt.

Shall we storm NAQT headquarters? And if so, when shall we do it? Who will we burn in our (possibly metaphorical) fire? Everyone is incompetent after all... except Ken Jennings (because the poster guy for quizbowl must be saved!).
Hey,

Stop making these posts, as they are against board rules. Stop responding to justifiable criticism of terrible tossups by declaring that people are on a "witch hunt." You have made like zero actual points in all of your posts today (unless you count not wanting to choose your own dining options, I guess), and you're breaking rules on telling people how to post, and now mocking people who are posting correctly with ludicrous hyperbole. Please, stop doing this.
Ok, fine. I was just trying to make a light-hearted commentary. Let me rephrase.

I understand that there is a lot of criticism of NAQT questions. But I think that people are being too critical of NAQT. You guys are calling out writers to identify them so that they may be stoned in the forums (which is where my witch hunt idea came from). I don't think it's perfectly fair to so criticize the writers and editors of NAQT questions for some lapses in judgement for their questions. There will be mistakes made whenever you write 26 rounds of tossups and bonuses. I have my own complaints about NAQT questions. Other people have many complaints also. But that does not justify being so caustic. Instead of ranting furiously, has anyone tried calling up NAQT? If you have, good for you! If you haven't, then try to do something before complaining so much. It's always easier to type something mean than to say it.

Okay, that rant about manners aside. If you want to hear about what I think (hahahaha), then here it goes. I didn't really like that the fine arts was so limited. I think that, if NAQT wishes to keep trash questions, then they need to limit it to only one tossup/bonus a round. I think it's pretty ridiculous that fine arts are kept down by the NAQT man so much. Um, the distribution could use some tweaking in my opinion. The question and especially bonus difficulty kinda shifted a little between rounds (though Cri du Chat was perfectly acceptible as it's in pretty much every AP Bio class and text).
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by Important Bird Area » Tue Jun 02, 2009 1:30 am

Jeremy Gibbs Paradox wrote:Yeah I don't remember the exact text, and if someone could post that, that'd be great ...
"In this case, Abe Fortas successfully used the Fourteenth Amendment to apply the Sixth Amendment to the states. It was a unanimous decision that affirmed Powell v. Alabama, overruled Betts v. Brady, and reversed a (*) Florida court's conviction for smashing a cigarette machine and a jukebox in a pool hall. For 10 points--name this 1963 Supreme Court case that established the right to appointed counsel for the poor."
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Tue Jun 02, 2009 1:32 am

Calling up NAQT? This is a great way to communicate already. NAQT has the internet. Many NAQT editors post on these boards. (In fact, two editors who regularly produce great questions, Jeff Hoppes and Matt Keller, do.) When we decry the horrible elements of some questions, they hear. Whether they respond and stop deciding a national tournament on trash and purring is entirely their decision.
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Tue Jun 02, 2009 1:32 am

bt_green_warbler wrote:
Jeremy Gibbs Paradox wrote:Yeah I don't remember the exact text, and if someone could post that, that'd be great ...
"In this case, Abe Fortas successfully used the Fourteenth Amendment to apply the Sixth Amendment to the states. It was a unanimous decision that affirmed Powell v. Alabama, overruled Betts v. Brady, and reversed a (*) Florida court's conviction for smashing a cigarette machine and a jukebox in a pool hall. For 10 points--name this 1963 Supreme Court case that established the right to appointed counsel for the poor."
Yeah, even if you weren't able to figure it out from the Abe Fortas bit, it goes ahead and screams THIS SIXTH AMENDMENT CASE at you as soon as possible.
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Tue Jun 02, 2009 1:38 am

kldaace wrote:I understand that there is a lot of criticism of NAQT questions. But I think that people are being too critical of NAQT. You guys are calling out writers to identify them so that they may be stoned in the forums (which is where my witch hunt idea came from). I don't think it's perfectly fair to so criticize the writers and editors of NAQT questions for some lapses in judgement for their questions. There will be mistakes made whenever you write 26 rounds of tossups and bonuses. I have my own complaints about NAQT questions. Other people have many complaints also. But that does not justify being so caustic. Instead of ranting furiously, has anyone tried calling up NAQT? If you have, good for you! If you haven't, then try to do something before complaining so much. It's always easier to type something mean than to say it.
Hey, please stop castigating people for discussing quizbowl questions in a quizbowl discussion forum.

On a more personal, less official, note, I find it perfectly fair to criticize the writers and editors of terrible questions for, you know, writing and editing terrible questions. I expect the same critical reaction to any tournament that I'm involved with, and it's not somehow everyone else's fault that this tournament had a lot of bad questions that deserved criticism.
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by Jeremy Gibbs Paradox » Tue Jun 02, 2009 1:38 am

Ukonvasara wrote:
bt_green_warbler wrote:
Jeremy Gibbs Paradox wrote:Yeah I don't remember the exact text, and if someone could post that, that'd be great ...
"In this case, Abe Fortas successfully used the Fourteenth Amendment to apply the Sixth Amendment to the states. It was a unanimous decision that affirmed Powell v. Alabama, overruled Betts v. Brady, and reversed a (*) Florida court's conviction for smashing a cigarette machine and a jukebox in a pool hall. For 10 points--name this 1963 Supreme Court case that established the right to appointed counsel for the poor."
Yeah, even if you weren't able to figure it out from the Abe Fortas bit, it goes ahead and screams THIS SIXTH AMENDMENT CASE at you as soon as possible.
And not just that, on a sheer technicality: this is not uniquely identifiable. In In re Gault Abe Fortas uses (successfully) the 14th Amendment to apply the Sixth Amendment to the states within the context of juvenile rights. So yeah, this was a bogus leadin, done with absolutely no research on the part of the writer or the editor.
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by kayli » Tue Jun 02, 2009 1:38 am

everyday847 wrote:Calling up NAQT? This is a great way to communicate already. NAQT has the internet. Many NAQT editors post on these boards. (In fact, two editors who regularly produce great questions, Jeff Hoppes and Matt Keller, do.) When we decry the horrible elements of some questions, they hear. Whether they respond and stop deciding a national tournament on trash and purring is entirely their decision.
Understood. But what should be taken more seriously: rant upon rant on an internet forum or a well worded, compelling e-mail or call. I think people here can be taken more seriously if they did something more than post on this forum. After all, Facebook groups are great for this type of thing but they're never taken seriously.
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by kayli » Tue Jun 02, 2009 1:43 am

Ukonvasara wrote:
kldaace wrote:I understand that there is a lot of criticism of NAQT questions. But I think that people are being too critical of NAQT. You guys are calling out writers to identify them so that they may be stoned in the forums (which is where my witch hunt idea came from). I don't think it's perfectly fair to so criticize the writers and editors of NAQT questions for some lapses in judgement for their questions. There will be mistakes made whenever you write 26 rounds of tossups and bonuses. I have my own complaints about NAQT questions. Other people have many complaints also. But that does not justify being so caustic. Instead of ranting furiously, has anyone tried calling up NAQT? If you have, good for you! If you haven't, then try to do something before complaining so much. It's always easier to type something mean than to say it.
Hey, please stop castigating people for discussing quizbowl questions in a quizbowl discussion forum.

On a more personal, less official, note, I find it perfectly fair to criticize the writers and editors of terrible questions for, you know, writing and editing terrible questions. I expect the same critical reaction to any tournament that I'm involved with, and it's not somehow everyone else's fault that this tournament had a lot of bad questions that deserved criticism.
All I'm saying is that people need to stop being so bitter about everything. Overall, was it that bad? Yes, there were faults. But there were also some good solid questions in the tournament. There are improvements to be made especially, in my opinion, concerning fine arts. However, I think that discussion should go more civilly. Can't we all be friends? :dance:

Also, I feel that castigation is a running theme in this forum. I feel so included :lol:.
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Tue Jun 02, 2009 1:45 am

Kay, you have no idea what you're talking about. NAQT has a phenomenal track record of not responding to these exact things you are calling for.
Also, this tournament was not good for a national championship, and as such, we have no reason to not hold it to the highest standards and then not approve of it when it fails like it did this year. If you went to PACE, which I wholeheartedly suggest, perhaps you will get a better idea of why so many people were frustrated by this HSNCT.
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by Important Bird Area » Tue Jun 02, 2009 1:48 am

kldaace wrote:Understood. But what should be taken more seriously: rant upon rant on an internet forum or a well worded, compelling e-mail or call. I think people here can be taken more seriously if they did something more than post on this forum.
Just to note that NAQT does take this forum seriously, and that we have received numerous well-worded, compelling emails from our customers about many aspects of our tournaments, both pro and con.
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by kayli » Tue Jun 02, 2009 1:53 am

Thanks for talking down to me, Mr. Dees!

Ok... so I haven't been to PACE... I'm currently lobbying for it my school. Give me a break here. I've only been involved in quizbowl for two years. It was my first national tournament; and although it wasn't the bestest ever, it did have redeeming aspects.
bt_green_warbler wrote:
Just to note that NAQT does take this forum seriously, and that we have received numerous well-worded, compelling emails from our customers about many aspects of our tournaments, both pro and con.
I learn something new every day. Thanks for clarifying.
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by TheDoctor » Tue Jun 02, 2009 1:54 am

The question quality was frustrating, certainly. There were questions in almost every area that made me cringe, there was too much trash, there was too much computational math. But what I think Kay is saying (with which I, personally, agree) is that assaulting the quality of the questions should not include demanding that everyone who has ever had anything to do with writing questions for NAQT should immediately cease the practice of same. The appearance of questions of this quality at a national tournament should be criticized, and those who take issue with these questions should make their concerns clear, but this kind of discussion should not devolve into the series of ad hominem attacks that it has become.
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Tue Jun 02, 2009 1:55 am

kldaace wrote:Thanks for talking down to me, Mr. Dees!
Tone policing: unsafe at any speed.
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by kayli » Tue Jun 02, 2009 1:57 am

I'm probably a little irritable right now. Sorry, everyone.
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Tue Jun 02, 2009 1:59 am

TheDoctor wrote:The question quality was frustrating, certainly. There were questions in almost every area that made me cringe, there was too much trash, there was too much computational math. But what I think Kay is saying (with which I, personally, agree) is that assaulting the quality of the questions should not include demanding that everyone who has ever had anything to do with writing questions for NAQT should immediately cease the practice of same. The appearance of questions of this quality at a national tournament should be criticized, and those who take issue with these questions should make their concerns clear, but this kind of discussion should not devolve into the series of ad hominem attacks that it has become.
Okay, Guy was obviously using hyperbole; he was actually not declaring that anyone at all who makes a bonus difficulty mistake should be shot. (Moreover, it seems Kay isn't just talking about Guy's comment; he's criticizing everyone for making such strong statements against the quality of the questions involved.)

And Kay's decision to moderate everyone's tone is actually inappropriate, as is yours, so don't worry about whether anyone is misinterpreting the precise way that he's doing so.
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by TheDoctor » Tue Jun 02, 2009 2:06 am

What can I say? I'm a pacifist.
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by naturalistic phallacy » Tue Jun 02, 2009 2:07 am

I think what we can get out of Guy's post is that the bonus difficulty at this tournament fluctuated wildly, and NAQT really needs to work on fixing that. I understand that they may have a leg up on other tournaments since they have their difficulty coding system, but really, any tournament that has hard parts that range from Disraeli novels to saber tooth tigers is just out of whack.
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by kayli » Tue Jun 02, 2009 2:08 am

everyday847 wrote:
TheDoctor wrote:The question quality was frustrating, certainly. There were questions in almost every area that made me cringe, there was too much trash, there was too much computational math. But what I think Kay is saying (with which I, personally, agree) is that assaulting the quality of the questions should not include demanding that everyone who has ever had anything to do with writing questions for NAQT should immediately cease the practice of same. The appearance of questions of this quality at a national tournament should be criticized, and those who take issue with these questions should make their concerns clear, but this kind of discussion should not devolve into the series of ad hominem attacks that it has become.
Okay, Guy was obviously using hyperbole; he was actually not declaring that anyone at all who makes a bonus difficulty mistake should be shot. (Moreover, it seems Kay isn't just talking about Guy's comment; he's criticizing everyone for making such strong statements against the quality of the questions involved.)

And Kay's decision to moderate everyone's tone is actually inappropriate, as is yours, so don't worry about whether anyone is misinterpreting the precise way that he's doing so.

I was using hyperbole also but I'm also of less importance. Crucify me. I'll try to refrain from moderating tone... What Kristin said was perfectly fine in my opinion (read: opinion).

Can't we all just get along? Please?
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by DumbJaques » Tue Jun 02, 2009 2:15 am

I was using hyperbole also but I'm also of less importance. Crucify me. I'll try to refrain from moderating tone... What Kristin said was perfectly fine in my opinion (read: opinion).
Oh for the love of God! I don't care if you're the freaking Dalai Lama, if he came in here and started posting like you've been, I'd be forwarding his IP to Chinese authorities. I am not telling you to stop breaking board rules because you are "not important" or whatever. I'm telling you to stop breaking board rules because you keep breaking board rules. Stop telling other people how to post, stop shouting about how everyone is out to get NAQT or wants to stone people or out to get you because you are not sufficiently important. Everyone will start getting along here as soon as you stop breaking board rules, or until I find an administrator to give you a tempban.
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Tue Jun 02, 2009 2:18 am

So I can speak to the difficulty coding system a little bit, from a writer's end. To wit: I can write a question and code it basically anything for difficulty. Then an editor can receive it and say "well, that isn't right!" and fix the difficulty code, or change a bonus part or two, or something. I'm guessing that more often than not the latter didn't happen when it should have.

Feel free to evaluate the difficulty of this bonus, which I wrote. It was edited by Samer; the final version only contains stylistic differences. Is this HSNCT-appropriate? Should it be harder?
original wrote: This set of a dozen symphonies includes the ~Miracle~ and ~Drumroll~. For 10 points each--

A. Identify this group of compositions named for the city their composer was visiting during their composition.

answer: ~_London_ symphonies~

B. Name that composer, also known for pieces like the ~Philosopher~ and ~Surprise~ symphonies.

answer: (Franz) Joseph _Haydn_

C. The original performance of this Haydn symphony saw each musician in turn blow out his candle during the final adagio, leaving only two muted violins, to let Haydn's patron know that the musicians wanted to see their families.

answer: ~_Farewell_ Symphony~ or Symphony No. _45_ in F-sharp minor or ~_Abschieds_-symphonie~
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Tue Jun 02, 2009 2:19 am

kldaace wrote:I was using hyperbole also but I'm also of less importance. Crucify me. I'll try to refrain from moderating tone... What Kristin said was perfectly fine in my opinion (read: opinion).

Can't we all just get along? Please?
This will be the last meta-discussion post in this thread (read: thread).
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by kayli » Tue Jun 02, 2009 2:20 am

DumbJaques wrote:
I was using hyperbole also but I'm also of less importance. Crucify me. I'll try to refrain from moderating tone... What Kristin said was perfectly fine in my opinion (read: opinion).
Oh for the love of God! I don't care if you're the freaking Dalai Lama, if he came in here and started posting like you've been, I'd be forwarding his IP to Chinese authorities. I am not telling you to stop breaking board rules because you are "not important" or whatever. I'm telling you to stop breaking board rules because you keep breaking board rules. Stop telling other people how to post, stop shouting about how everyone is out to get NAQT or wants to stone people or out to get you because you are not sufficiently important. Everyone will start getting along here as soon as you stop breaking board rules, or until I find an administrator to give you a tempban.
Okay, okay. I'll try. Sheesh... I'm sorry...
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by kayli » Tue Jun 02, 2009 2:23 am

everyday847 wrote:So I can speak to the difficulty coding system a little bit, from a writer's end. To wit: I can write a question and code it basically anything for difficulty. Then an editor can receive it and say "well, that isn't right!" and fix the difficulty code, or change a bonus part or two, or something. I'm guessing that more often than not the latter didn't happen when it should have.

Feel free to evaluate the difficulty of this bonus, which I wrote. It was edited by Samer; the final version only contains stylistic differences. Is this HSNCT-appropriate? Should it be harder?
original wrote: This set of a dozen symphonies includes the ~Miracle~ and ~Drumroll~. For 10 points each--

A. Identify this group of compositions named for the city their composer was visiting during their composition.

answer: ~_London_ symphonies~

B. Name that composer, also known for pieces like the ~Philosopher~ and ~Surprise~ symphonies.

answer: (Franz) Joseph _Haydn_

C. The original performance of this Haydn symphony saw each musician in turn blow out his candle during the final adagio, leaving only two muted violins, to let Haydn's patron know that the musicians wanted to see their families.

answer: ~_Farewell_ Symphony~ or Symphony No. _45_ in F-sharp minor or ~_Abschieds_-symphonie~
I think those were fine. They were well written and weren't that hard. Also, it's a music bonus so I really can't object.

More please?
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by magin » Tue Jun 02, 2009 2:37 am

Actually, I agree that what Guy posted is counterproductive to having a good discussion. There's almost certainly some framing effects occurring here: since HSNCT included baffling tossups on art dealers and purring (I was embarrassed for NAQT when I read those questions), academic questions that have some difficulty or clue problems seem more likely to come from whoever writes indefensible biology tossups on purring. Tetralogy of fallot and cri du chat seem like fairly hard bio answers to me, but they're legitimate quizbowl answers, and saying "Tetralogy of Fallot? Cri du chat? Whoever decided to make these answer choices is so out of touch with quizbowl in general, especially in high school, that I would advise for them not to write ever again" seems to ignore the forest of bad GK tossups classified as other things and math-comp for a fairly insignificant tree.

I don't think telling people who wrote (as far as I know) solid academic questions with a few difficulty issues that they should stop writing is a good idea at all; they're not the problem with HSNCT. Telling whoever wrote the tetralogy of fallot and cri du chat bonus parts to stop writing questions period is wildly disproportionate to the actual problem (misjudging difficulty a bit). Since people are capable of improving as writers, saying "cri du chat is too hard for a high school nationals hard part for reasons X and Y" seems like a much healthier response to me.

I would like to know who wrote those tossups on art dealers and purring (as they seemed the worst tossups of the prelims to me), and their reasoning behind writing those tossups, since then we could maybe talk about why those tossups weren't good and how to write better ones in the future.
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by Irreligion in Bangladesh » Tue Jun 02, 2009 2:50 am

everyday847 wrote:So I can speak to the difficulty coding system a little bit, from a writer's end. To wit: I can write a question and code it basically anything for difficulty. Then an editor can receive it and say "well, that isn't right!" and fix the difficulty code, or change a bonus part or two, or something. I'm guessing that more often than not the latter didn't happen when it should have.

Feel free to evaluate the difficulty of this bonus, which I wrote. It was edited by Samer; the final version only contains stylistic differences. Is this HSNCT-appropriate? Should it be harder?
original wrote: This set of a dozen symphonies includes the ~Miracle~ and ~Drumroll~. For 10 points each--

A. Identify this group of compositions named for the city their composer was visiting during their composition.

answer: ~_London_ symphonies~

B. Name that composer, also known for pieces like the ~Philosopher~ and ~Surprise~ symphonies.

answer: (Franz) Joseph _Haydn_

C. The original performance of this Haydn symphony saw each musician in turn blow out his candle during the final adagio, leaving only two muted violins, to let Haydn's patron know that the musicians wanted to see their families.

answer: ~_Farewell_ Symphony~ or Symphony No. _45_ in F-sharp minor or ~_Abschieds_-symphonie~
I like this bonus quite a lot for an IS set, but I think it's lacking a good hard part for HSNCT level. To that end, I think I'd leave the leadin and first two parts alone and simply change part 3 to ask for a different one (possibly Military, which has the added bonus of being a London symphony not yet namedropped in the question). That said, I really like that Farewell part as the middle part of a hypothetical Haydn bonus.

As it was, it was an easy music bonus, which makes it a little harder comparatively at HSNCT as I saw few teams that were able to convert fine arts.
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Tue Jun 02, 2009 3:01 am

That roughly accords with my impression of it, formed well after I wrote and submitted it. Why that basic tack wasn't actually taken, I don't know.
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by Sir Thopas » Tue Jun 02, 2009 7:27 am

cvdwightw wrote:If my (possibly poor) decision to write a hard bonus part on something you deemed too difficult for high school nationals means that I am "so out of touch with quizbowl in general, especially in high school, that I would advise for them not to write ever again," then I will (effective immediately) resign from writing for HSAPQ and NAQT, tell Jerry I can't work on ACF Regionals anymore, and stop contributing freelance questions to tournaments. However, I do not think that such a decision merits my immediate banishment from the question-writing world. I'm sorry that some of us people who generally write good difficulty-appropriate questions on important academic things went a bit overboard with what our conception of "a hard bonus part that will be converted by roughly the 30 or so teams that are going to finish 7-3 or better, many of whom are elite teams that have been to and done well at college tournaments, and many of whom complain about how what many people seem to think are reasonable second-line clues are in fact too early" is.
Thanks for calling me out on my hyperbole. I needed that. Specifically, what happened was: I had assumed a certain person, who is, in fact, out of touch with the circuit, and writing frequently for NAQT, was responsible for that. My apologies.
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by Deviant Insider » Tue Jun 02, 2009 7:31 am

I think the Haydn question is fine. While there are several top teams that could sweep it, I'm guessing that the majority of HSNCT teams would 10 it on the middle part. If it was in an IS Set, there would be a fair number of 0's and 10's. If I was going to change anything, it would be to make the last part about the song itself rather than the first performance of it.

Much of what Dwight is saying is correct, but I would add that there are different levels of offenses. Writing a cringeworthy question in the Pop Culture or General Knowledge category or writing a very difficult third part of a bonus are things that happen in pretty much all tournaments (if those tournaments have Pop Culture or General Knowledge). Writing a cringeworthy question in an academic category or including clues like the unicode one are things that can be fixed with good writing and editing.

Kay, keep in mind that you are joining a discussion that has been going on for years that is largely between people who know each other and that you are welcome to join. While the discussion sometimes gets overly dramatic, people have serious points they are making. Most people on this board are talking from experience, since they have written and edited many questions.
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by Sir Thopas » Tue Jun 02, 2009 8:05 am

cvdwightw wrote:Let me make my point exactly clear: there are several people, of whom Guy Tabachnick has now convinced me he is one, who have some kind of innate anti-NAQT bias such that any possible mistake made by any writer writing for NAQT, regardless of whatever respect he may or may not have within the larger quizbowl community or whatever regard his non-NAQT questions may be held in, is immediately indicative of the fact that NAQT is terrible, NAQT is out of touch with the circuit, and people that write for NAQT need to stop writing questions because they clearly don't understand what the heck they're doing.
In case you haven't noticed, I tend to make stupid, blustery posts that I immediately regret in every post involving bad questions, followed by hasty retractions. I don't think you can quite accuse me of anti-NAQT bias merely because the plurality of threads involving problem questions are regarding NAQT.

So why did I frame that post as I shouldn't have? The facts are simply that a large portion of the editors for the HSNCT are entirely out of touch with the game, and it shows. Jeff Hoppes knows what he's doing; by all accounts, it seems like the history was entirely well-written. I was not able to attend this tournament, and have no first-hand knowledge of it, and nobody talks about the good questions in here, so they don't stand out as much as the poor ones. My assumptions were more those surrounding the stories I've heard about certain biology tossups that did make it into this set, like "spider webs" and "purring". I don't see how it's that much of a stretch to think that the author and editor of such tossups is similarly responsible for other egregious biology questions. It turns out that this is not the case, and Tetralogy of Fallot and cri du chat are several orders of magnitude easier than I thought they were. I still don't see how this reveals anti-NAQT bias on my part. Do you want me to call out Andy for being out of touch with what arts you can ask in high school?
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by Down and out in Quintana Roo » Tue Jun 02, 2009 8:12 am

Sir Thopas wrote:Jeff Hoppes knows what he's doing; by all accounts...
Yes he does.
Sir Thopas wrote:...it seems like the history was entirely well-written.
It absolutely was the highlight of the tournament, most likely, and combined with some good hard lit questions (and slightly less good hard science) made most of the packets still pretty decent, at least for my standards.
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by Ondes Martenot » Tue Jun 02, 2009 10:30 am

Stuff that I wrote for this tournament:

Tossups: Long March, gross clinic, electronegativity, aufbau principle, lattice energy, blue boy, grant wood, surface tension, van der waals equation, hogarth, nernst, erie canal, amritsar massacre, kublai khan, sulfuric acid, singapore,

Bonus: types of economic goods, question on chemistry solvents, arrhenious equation bonus, toluene bonus, isomers, henderson-hasselbach, colloids, allotropes, alloys, enzymes used in DNA, organic chemistry functional groups, Earth's magnetic field
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Tue Jun 02, 2009 12:49 pm

aarcoh wrote:Stuff that I wrote for this tournament:

Tossups: Long March, gross clinic, electronegativity, aufbau principle, lattice energy, blue boy, grant wood, surface tension, van der waals equation, hogarth, nernst, erie canal, amritsar massacre, kublai khan, sulfuric acid, singapore,

Bonus: types of economic goods, question on chemistry solvents, arrhenious equation bonus, toluene bonus, isomers, henderson-hasselbach, colloids, allotropes, alloys, enzymes used in DNA, organic chemistry functional groups, Earth's magnetic field
I'd like to note that you wrote two categories that are generally hard to write well (chemistry, arts) and wrote them both to a level of quality far in excess of most other questions at this tournament. It's certainly true that you're not just a median freshman as far as writing, but let's face it: if NAQT's top writers for high school can no longer produce a product easily distinguished from the work of a college freshman, except in the all-too-frequent cases when it is much worse, then NAQT has a huge problem on its hands and needs to resort to methods other than thumb-twiddling to solve them.

I'd like to make a supposition: either NNT or Prison Bowl would have made for a much better national championship set (and particularly the latter, since it was rather difficult) than HSNCT. Note that, with the exception of a couple of freelance packets at NNT, all of those questions were produced by current high schoolers. Lily is a freshman at Hunter and she wrote and edited better science than Samer produced for HSNCT. It seems self-evident to me that making few substantive changes, then releasing a computational math survey whose results will be tabulated a billion years from now, is absolutely not the best way for this company to surpass a ragtag bunch of high school students.
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by Ken Jennings » Tue Jun 02, 2009 1:10 pm

Caesar Rodney HS wrote:combined with some good hard lit questions
Speaking of which...I haven't seen too much lit discussed in this thread. I'd be happy to hear feedback on the lit in the set, either on this thread or via email. (I also edited myth, film, and mixed/general knowledge. Mixed/general-knowledge coded as such, that is--I can't help you on "purring" et. al.)

Comments on specific questions will be the most helpful; I'll post full text if you'd like to review specific questions more closely. I imagine many people's kneejerk answer here is that too many questions had elements of non-academic lit; I don't have a full list of those but can probably compile one if you'd like. It's true that this NCT didn't have a numerical cap on "popular" lit, since we didn't want to make that change mid-year, but I understand that one is forthcoming for 2009-10.
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by Cheynem » Tue Jun 02, 2009 1:19 pm

My kneejerk answer on lit, mainly the American lit, is that a lot of it was too hard or too borderline academic. A bonus on individual Herman Wouk novels is completely unacceptable on a high school level. I'm now going to play my elitist card again and also sneer that Ellis Peters, Dick Francis, Nero Wolfe, Roger Zelazny, Douglas Adams, James Bond books, the Master and Commander series, and any number of works I'm forgetting are very very loosely academic at best. My general feeling on literature is that it should primarily ask about works that are studied in an academic environment. The above works are generally NOT studied academically and in my opinion should be used in like the pop lit section of a trash distro or not used at all. Yes, I realize that some of them were used as like the third part in a "general knowledge" bonus, but this seems like a dodgy compromise--like two questions about horse racing makes it okay to ask about Dick Francis. Hey, I love musty American/British literature. I'm writing a whole side event on it for Minnesota Open. But it shouldn't pop up with this level of frequency in an academic quiz bowl event, let alone one written for high schoolers.
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Tue Jun 02, 2009 1:21 pm

Could you post the Boll and Pound questions? I was excited by both leadins, but I didn't get to hear the rest of the question since I was watching State College.

Mike Cheyne, if you impugn the academic value of Nero Wolfe again, I will... do whatever it is a moderator can do to you that hurts.
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Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Post by Cheynem » Tue Jun 02, 2009 1:28 pm

I apologize for impugning the stout Mr. Wolfe and his friend Archie Goodwin. Please don't hurt me Andy Watkins.
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