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2009 HSNCT question discussion

Posted: Sun May 31, 2009 9:31 pm
by Important Bird Area
R. confirms that HSNCT play has been over for hours, so ... go.

If you plan to play the mirror at UTC next month, read no further. (I believe Fred put an appropriate warning about this in last year's thread.)

Also a note that I'll be out birdwatching in Wisconsin and Minnesota for a couple of days and may have sporadic internet access. So if I don't post for a little while, that's because I'm looking at prairie chickens, not because NAQT isn't reading your feedback.

Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Posted: Sun May 31, 2009 10:38 pm
by Deviant Insider
We were down by 40 points against State College A with time already expired on the clock as the last tossup was going. We answered the question, Butthead, because we remembered which character wore which shirt. We swept the bonus to send the match into overtime. We got 10 on the first tossup, and they got 10 on the second. The third tossup started talking about city neighborhoods and mentioned the nickname of the red light district in San Francisco. Off of that clue, we got Tenderloin for 15.

I just want to state for the record that State College is better than we are even though we won that match. If you're going to write Pop Culture and General Knowledge questions, then Butthead and Tenderloin are reasonable topics, but if you're trying to determine a national champion, then Pop Culture and General Knowledge are not the ways to go. I apologize for sounding like a broken record.

Unless I misheard it, the pigeon tossup in Round 2 was not pyramidal because it took a while to figure out what they were asking for.

The e^x+1 question somewhere around Round 10 was poor because it wasn't clear whether it was (e^x)+1 or e^(x+1).

I wasn't taking notes, and those were the ones that stuck out. It's safe to say that there were many good questions during the tournament as well, but this is not a complete list of bad ones.

Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Posted: Sun May 31, 2009 11:23 pm
by Down and out in Quintana Roo
Was "Ethiopia" an answer twice in one round (i think it was round 13)?

Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Posted: Sun May 31, 2009 11:26 pm
by InspectorHound
Yes , there were both geography and history tossups on Ethiopia in that round

Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Posted: Sun May 31, 2009 11:28 pm
by Charbroil
As the captain of a team which probably fits as well into the "silent majority" that NAQT caters to in its efforts to spread Quiz Bowl across America, I think that the fact that our opinions not only correspond greatly to many of the comments made previously might be noteworthy as representative of a greater trend. To give a picture of what we're like, we went 7-3 and were eliminated after going 1-2 in playoffs, and this was our first year ever playing NAQT.

Also, it's worth noting that this opinion is given with the qualification that we greatly enjoyed the tournament and the efforts that everyone in NAQT put forth in putting it on.

1/ Difficulty Across Rounds: Something I thought was a bit odd was that there seemed to be issues with difficulty across rounds. We're not a top flight team, so it's possible that the issue is just that we don't know the canon well enough, but it seemed strange that whereas we knew most of the giveaways and/or recognized the topics of the 1st playoff game, we knew barely half of them in the 3rd. The effect on our performance was palpable, since we came within 25 points of beating Bergen and lost by over 300 to the ostensibly lower seeded State College B.

2/ Question Quality: Incidentally, did people feel as if there was a tendency of people negging a lot of in a couple of the early rounds? I heard rumors on the liveblog that a number of top players were putting up abnormally bad stats, which made me curious since I did too (though I'm certainly nowhere near their level).

Also, didn't anyone or notice difficulty cliffs? We haven't played a huge amount of either good QB or QB at the level of the HSNCT, so I didn't know if that impression was accurate, but it was interesting.

3/ Distribution: We definitely didn't like the amount of pop culture, sports, and other trivia. It's noteworthy that one of my teammates, who doesn't know much about good Quiz Bowl spontaneously said that an Academic championship should not have so many questions about Pop Culture and Sports. I'm also somewhat curious as to how questions on those topics converted--in most of the games we played against equivalent teams, those questions went dead or only converted after the giveaway, despite the fact that those are the teams that Pop Culture are supposed to help. Conversely, the top flight teams we played (Bergen, DCC, and State College B) seemed to hit the trash with no issues whatsoever.

Incidentally, the purring question seemed a bit odd--was there really nothing better to write about cats--even if it was general knowledge? A GK tossup about "cats" would at least have been about a significant topic...

4/ Math: The computational math was, beyond a doubt, unfortunate. My team's consistent players all took Calculus BC as freshmen or sophomores and of the four of us, only our math expert could understand most of the questions and what they were asking, much less do them. The math simply seemed to stray away from what I see as the point of math computation--showing your knowledge of math theory is not an ability to recite theories but also that you know what they mean in terms of actual math. Given that fact, I'm somewhat confused as to why much of the computational math was in the field of probability, since probability really isn't really what I think of as a critical part of math theory.

One notably good math question I remember was the one which asked for the slope of a line tangent to cos(2x) at a point--it was on an important and basic topic in Calculus and was decently pyramidal (it would have been nice if it had given the derivative as an easier giveaway instead of repeating the question, but that's a minor issue). I actually liked the removable discontinuity question--it at least wasn't as silly as trying to figure out the probabilities of 20 sided dice.

By the way, why isn't computational math limited to bonuses? That way, we'd satisfy both parties--it would still be there, but the issues of pyramidality or lack thereof would be eliminated.
Matt Jackson wrote:Despite my frustrations, I'm more interested in an improved HSNCT than I am in losing faith. I'm willing to participate in the dialogue about how to improve it for the future in a reasoned and truthful manner, because I totally want the HSNCT to exist as a well-regarded national championship in the years to come.
This thoroughly summarizes how I feel as well in qualifying my comments.

Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Posted: Mon Jun 01, 2009 10:41 am
by Tegan
InspectorHound wrote:Yes , there were both geography and history tossups on Ethiopia in that round
For what its worth, I also recall "Milton Friedman" coming up within a question or two of "Chicago School of Economics". I was score keeping that round, and as the question developed I couldn't help thinking that they wouldn't put two questions that close in topic that close in the tournament ....

There was another pair of answers that came up very quickly, were closely related, and sounded a bit wonky.

While considering this .... I think a lot of these issues can be corrected. It is clear that NAQT has taken suggestions to heart on some of the community concerns (30-20-10, etc). Certianly, there are other concerns that, community wide, are not as one sided an opinion. I remain confident that any mechanical problems that arise will be dealt with.

I would also support a distribution per packet, and not per tournament. Also, while I would not at all object to seeing pop culture vanish, I know I am likely in the minority ... I don't ever like to tell people to copy Illinois' method, but one of the things Illinois did do was to restrict trash to be before the last three questions of the match. That may be harder to do with NAQT, but if pop culture is to stay, perhaps making sure it is never in a position to be a deciding question (make sure it is in the first five of any packet, and never in a position to be a tie breaker. That idea doesn't come without its own problems, but it does prevent "Butthead" from deciding a New Trier-State College match.

Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Posted: Mon Jun 01, 2009 10:54 am
by Important Bird Area
Tegan wrote:
InspectorHound wrote:Yes , there were both geography and history tossups on Ethiopia in that round
For what its worth, I also recall "Milton Friedman" coming up within a question or two of "Chicago School of Economics". I was score keeping that round, and as the question developed I couldn't help thinking that they wouldn't put two questions that close in topic that close in the tournament ....

There was another pair of answers that came up very quickly, were closely related, and sounded a bit wonky.

While considering this .... I think a lot of these issues can be corrected. It is clear that NAQT has taken suggestions to heart on some of the community concerns (30-20-10, etc). Certianly, there are other concerns that, community wide, are not as one sided an opinion. I remain confident that any mechanical problems that arise will be dealt with.

I would also support a distribution per packet, and not per tournament. Also, while I would not at all object to seeing pop culture vanish, I know I am likely in the minority ... I don't ever like to tell people to copy Illinois' method, but one of the things Illinois did do was to restrict trash to be before the last three questions of the match. That may be harder to do with NAQT, but if pop culture is to stay, perhaps making sure it is never in a position to be a deciding question (make sure it is in the first five of any packet, and never in a position to be a tie breaker. That idea doesn't come without its own problems, but it does prevent "Butthead" from deciding a New Trier-State College match.
1. Yes, there was some wonky stuff (the abovementioned Chicago school question, what I believe were two fairly close-by references to the Ebola virus, and the Ethiopia questions- which I caught in time to fix, but it sounds like some other moderators didn't.) I'm honestly stunned that the last made it through our systems, and will be asking R. how to prevent this in the future.

2. NAQT does, repeat, does, balance each packet to the best of our ability. (Here's the 2009 SCT per-packet distribution; I'll ask R. about posting the same for this HSNCT.)

3. I don't see how restricting trash to certain parts of the packet would improve anything. (Because a trash tossup, even tossup #3 or whatever, could still be the margin of victory in a 10-point game.) It's certainly possible to argue that trash questions should be abolished entirely, but we do not believe that that is a majority opinion among NAQT's customers. Maybe the feedback from this tournament will convince us otherwise.

Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Posted: Mon Jun 01, 2009 11:12 am
by ClemsonQB
Should NAQT appeal to the bottom 100 teams who have no shot at winning the HSNCT title, or should it appeal to the so-called elite teams who win the tournament every year? I think the answer is pretty obvious.

Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Posted: Mon Jun 01, 2009 11:15 am
by BuzzerZen
ClemsonQB wrote:Should NAQT appeal to the bottom 100 teams who have no shot at winning the HSNCT title, or should it appeal to the so-called elite teams who win the tournament every year? I think the answer is pretty obvious.
Well, I mean, from an entirely economic perspective, it sure is.

Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Posted: Mon Jun 01, 2009 11:23 am
by TheKingInYellow
bt_green_warbler wrote: 3. I don't see how restricting trash to certain parts of the packet would improve anything. (Because a trash tossup, even tossup #3 or whatever, could still be the margin of victory in a 10-point game.) It's certainly possible to argue that trash questions should be abolished entirely, but we do not believe that that is a majority opinion among NAQT's customers. Maybe the feedback from this tournament will convince us otherwise.
Maybe a question every round or so is fine, but its hard to call academic games that are decided by questions on Butthead and the Tenderloin district, and I'd assume NAQT is going for academic

Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Posted: Mon Jun 01, 2009 11:28 am
by closesesame
TheKingInYelliow wrote:Maybe a question every round or so is fine, but its hard to call academic games that are decided by questions on Butthead and the Tenderloin district
...which happened to us, and many other teams, it seems. What's so hard about adopting a per-round distribution? It certainly seems easier on the face of it than writing 16.7% (insert category here) questions.

Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Posted: Mon Jun 01, 2009 11:44 am
by BuzzerZen
Hey, I don't want to derail, and I'm hardly defending egregious trash stuff like "Tenderloin" or "Butthead", but this constant refrain that close games can be "decided" by trash questions, whether by their mere existence in a packet or by their ordinal placement in the packet, continues to strike me as silly. If you lose a game by 5 points, then you should've earned 10 more points, from whatever source. Trash questions aren't worth tons more points than other questions, and questions at the end of a packet aren't worth more than questions at the beginning of a packet.* If you want to say something like "trash questions [in NAQT or in general] have a tendency to be either markedly easier than the academic questions in a packet and thereby give easier points to whichever teams get them or markedly stupid and thereby give points essentially randomly" or "it is aesthetically bad to have trash questions fall in the latter 25% of a packet" then fine, but it seems to me to be simply wrong to say "our game was decided by a trash question" when your game was decided, as all quiz bowl matches are, by every question.

* I suppose that tossups earned towards the end of a match are necessarily more likely to secure a victory for a team than questions at the beginning of a match, and perhaps this is why the "[X] deciding a match" meme arises. I still don't think it makes much sense, rigorously speaking.

Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Posted: Mon Jun 01, 2009 11:48 am
by ClemsonQB
BuzzerZen wrote:Hey, I don't want to derail, and I'm hardly defending egregious trash stuff like "Tenderloin" or "Butthead", but this constant refrain that close games can be "decided" by trash questions, whether by their mere existence in a packet or by their ordinal placement in the packet, continues to strike me as silly. If you lose a game by 5 points, then you should've earned 10 more points, from whatever source. Trash questions aren't worth tons more points than other questions, and questions at the end of a packet aren't worth more than questions at the beginning of a packet.* If you want to say something like "trash questions [in NAQT or in general] have a tendency to be either markedly easier than the academic questions in a packet and thereby give easier points to whichever teams get them or markedly stupid and thereby give points essentially randomly" or "it is aesthetically bad to have trash questions fall in the latter 25% of a packet" then fine, but it seems to me to be simply wrong to say "our game was decided by a trash question" when your game was decided, as all quiz bowl matches are, by every question.

* I suppose that tossups earned towards the end of a match are necessarily more likely to secure a victory for a team than questions at the beginning of a match, and perhaps this is why the "[X] deciding a match" meme arises. I still don't think it makes much sense, rigorously speaking.
Sure, but the final decision of the game would better reflect the more knowledgeable team if there were no, or less, trash questions in NAQT.

Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Posted: Mon Jun 01, 2009 11:54 am
by theMoMA
Even without the distributional stuff, there are a few systematic issues with HSNCT questions that could be resolved very quickly. Questions that describe the plot of a work or the workings of a scientific law without including pronouns are confusing and terribly outdated. Many bonuses are written without a seeming easy, middle, and hard part; naming three works of Herman Wouk is not equivalent to a typical nationals-level bonus structure. Bonuses like this were strewn throughout the set, and it was unfortunate to see teams get stuck with very hard bonuses written without any seeming difficulty structure after earning points on tossups.

Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Posted: Mon Jun 01, 2009 11:57 am
by marnold
Also, I'm not sure banning trash from the ends of packets would actually be popular, even among the people who are lobbying for it now. After all, moving it earlier in the packet guarantees it will be read every round and the last few questions (the ones most readers don't often get to) are more likely to be academic. The fix is less trash and other nonsense in packets, not shuffling it around.

Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Posted: Mon Jun 01, 2009 12:06 pm
by Tegan
bt_green_warbler wrote:3. I don't see how restricting trash to certain parts of the packet would improve anything. (Because a trash tossup, even tossup #3 or whatever, could still be the margin of victory in a 10-point game.) It's certainly possible to argue that trash questions should be abolished entirely, but we do not believe that that is a majority opinion among NAQT's customers. Maybe the feedback from this tournament will convince us otherwise.
I agree completely with this (et al)..... however, there is something even more "wrong" about an important question coming down to a single bonus and/or tossup, and that question happens to be trash. You are (of course) absolutely correct in that (in the long run) it does not matter if it was question 1 or question 23, but in the grand scheme of "wrongness" .... there just is a feel to "Butthead was question #4" vs "Butthead was the deciding question of a match that went 23 questions.

The obvious problem (as marnold points out), is that moving it earlier in the packet assures its presence in the match. My personal preference would be zero pop culture, but if it must be there, putting it at the end creates this danger:

If anything .... keeping trash out of the last few questions would assure that it could not come up in a tiebreaker (and where I am seeing it, and I could be wrong), that is definitely one place where the ordinality of a trash tossup could make a vital difference in the game's outcome) .... whether it is TU #1 or TU #23 may ultimately not make a big difference .... but if the match goes 22 tosups and is tied, you definitely don't want that question to be #23, #24, or #25.

In the long run, throwing the trash in the end (if it must be) means most teams won't see it, and that's all fine and good .... but for those few ties that need a tiebreaker, it sets up the potential for a really bad situation.

I'm not trying to push a point, just explore some possibilities.

Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Posted: Mon Jun 01, 2009 12:38 pm
by First Chairman
Just my thoughts: I think it was Jim Valvano who emphasized that the value of a free throw at the end of a game is the same as the value of a free throw at the beginning. If one is to truly randomize packets and the distribution includes trash, one must accept the possibility a game would end on a trash question. I'm sure one can deliberately embargo certain questions to the front of the packet compared to the back (which thus renders "randomizing" as a moot point as a definition). But I know lots of people don't want to see questions they are weak on to be deciding questions, such as calculation tossups. Thus I think the argument to me should be directed more towards the fact there is a tournament but not a packet distribution, and whatever arguments whether trash belongs in the answer space at a national tournament.

Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Posted: Mon Jun 01, 2009 12:53 pm
by Brian Ulrich
I don't have a stake in any outcomes, and certainly don't speak for NAQT as Jeff does, but the per tournament distribution should be a complete non-issue. Questions are scattered evenly across packets. I look through the social science last night just to confirm that, despite what someone said, there was one or two social science questions in every packet. The same balance will occur with other topics.

I'm confident that when people go through packets to highlight distribution imbalances, the problem will not be the distribution method, but rather the categorization of individual questions. Since Jeff will be gone, I'm willing to look that up for anyone, assuming NAQT doesn't tell me not to, which is extremely unlikely in the current era of openness.

Also, what NAQT gains from a per tournament distribution is not just balance within what at other tournaments might be called "you choice," but also a careful allotment of subcategories, such as the various subfields of social science or different time periods within philosophy.

Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Posted: Mon Jun 01, 2009 1:16 pm
by The Toad to Wigan Pier
Brian Ulrich wrote:I don't have a stake in any outcomes, and certainly don't speak for NAQT as Jeff does, but the per tournament distribution should be a complete non-issue. Questions are scattered evenly across packets. I look through the social science last night just to confirm that, despite what someone said, there was one or two social science questions in every packet. The same balance will occur with other topics.

I'm confident that when people go through packets to highlight distribution imbalances, the problem will not be the distribution method, but rather the categorization of individual questions. Since Jeff will be gone, I'm willing to look that up for anyone, assuming NAQT doesn't tell me not to, which is extremely unlikely in the current era of openness.

Also, what NAQT gains from a per tournament distribution is not just balance within what at other tournaments might be called "you choice," but also a careful allotment of subcategories, such as the various subfields of social science or different time periods within philosophy.
The ability to have "different time periods" or "subfields" can be accomplished without resorting to a entirely per tournament distribution. All one has to do is simply create the necessary diversity within the question pool used for that tournament, use a within packet distribution to allocate X number of questions per category per packet, and then map questions from the pool onto into the packets based on category, or other criterion. This way you still have the desired distribution within a category across an entire tournament, but have a by packet distribution. There are other ways to accomplish this other than the basic outline I provided(repulsion force based models are interesting), but the notion that one has to resort to the bizarre packetization/randomization method(which obviously didn't work well for the HSNCT) that NAQT seems to employ is simply not true.

Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Posted: Mon Jun 01, 2009 1:27 pm
by Brian Ulrich
The Toad to Wigan Pier wrote:
Brian Ulrich wrote:I don't have a stake in any outcomes, and certainly don't speak for NAQT as Jeff does, but the per tournament distribution should be a complete non-issue. Questions are scattered evenly across packets. I look through the social science last night just to confirm that, despite what someone said, there was one or two social science questions in every packet. The same balance will occur with other topics.

I'm confident that when people go through packets to highlight distribution imbalances, the problem will not be the distribution method, but rather the categorization of individual questions. Since Jeff will be gone, I'm willing to look that up for anyone, assuming NAQT doesn't tell me not to, which is extremely unlikely in the current era of openness.

Also, what NAQT gains from a per tournament distribution is not just balance within what at other tournaments might be called "you choice," but also a careful allotment of subcategories, such as the various subfields of social science or different time periods within philosophy.
The ability to have "different time periods" or "subfields" can be accomplished without resorting to a entirely per tournament distribution. All one has to do is simply create the necessary diversity within the question pool used for that tournament, use a within packet distribution to allocate X number of questions per category per packet, and then map questions from the pool onto into the packets based on category, or other criterion. This way you still have the desired distribution within a category across an entire tournament, but have a by packet distribution. There are other ways to accomplish this other than the basic outline I provided(repulsion force based models are interesting), but the notion that one has to resort to the bizarre packetization/randomization method(which obviously didn't work well for the HSNCT) that NAQT seems to employ is simply not true.
I'm sure there are other ways to do that. Perhaps for clarity I should have confined myself to saying that the per tournament distribution is not the cause of the problems people attribute to it.

Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Posted: Mon Jun 01, 2009 1:36 pm
by InspectorHound
Perhaps for clarity I should have confined myself to saying that the per tournament distribution is not the cause of the problems people attribute to it.
yes, yes it is

Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Posted: Mon Jun 01, 2009 1:41 pm
by Deviant Insider
ClemsonQB wrote:Should NAQT appeal to the bottom 100 teams who have no shot at winning the HSNCT title, or should it appeal to the so-called elite teams who win the tournament every year? I think the answer is pretty obvious.
I don't think the answer is obvious, nor do I think this is the way to frame the question.

NAQT should want what is best for students and the overall health of quizbowl. It also needs to act to some extent in its own best interest. Decisions should be made by people knowledgeable and wise in the activity based on the impact their decisions have on students. There will always be some disagreements, but many of those disagreements do not break down into good teams vs mediocre teams.

As to the more recent argument, I thought that NAQT solved the problem of varying distributions between packets in a satisfactory way. The differences between packets used to be big, and now they are small. The fact that some packets have 4 lit tossups while others have 5 seems like a minor problem to me. When some had 2 while others had 6 it was a real concern.

Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Posted: Mon Jun 01, 2009 1:44 pm
by ClemsonQB
Brian Ulrich wrote:I'm sure there are other ways to do that. Perhaps for clarity I should have confined myself to saying that the per tournament distribution is not the cause of the problems people attribute to it.
Yes it absolutely is. NAQT's per tournament distribution is the reason why some rounds have more trash (or less arts/ss) than others, which is what people are complaining about.

Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Posted: Mon Jun 01, 2009 1:47 pm
by Auroni
Round 1 of the tournament had 3!!! trash questions in the first 20.

Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Posted: Mon Jun 01, 2009 1:55 pm
by Jeremy Gibbs Paradox
One thing I will never be able to understand and looking at the NAQT HS distribution is why NAQT has such a higher incidence of sports to other forms of trash. It's insanely disproportionately high (like 1/3 of the overall PC distribution) which would never be allowed at any trash tournament ever. The distribution claims more of that than social science and theology/philosophy combined and fine arts standing alone. And over 25 rounds the overabundance of those topics definitely stood out against the underrepresentation of actual academic topics. I think the distribution should be changed so that pop culture and its subtopics are either equal to or never more prevalent than your least represented academic topic (excepting foreign language, because what is that really?) to correct this.

Some general notes on the questions themselves: I noticed a lot of what I call "list memorization" clues being used as unique identifiers. Using George Foreman's record strikes me as one in the final no less. Also it seemed to me that if one just memorized who was currently in the Senate, they could rock out. Bonus difficulty varied tremendousbly more than I think I've ever seen in an NAQT set. By the way, how is it that it's 2009 and we're still doing list bonuses? Or bonuses that you can only get 5 points for knowing an answer that if the q were rewritten to have fewer parts would be a just as easy 10? Why are we still penalizing teams this way? Also when I was reading I noticed a LOT of unnecessary verbiage in the tu's to the point where I was like "that q was 5 lines and had maybe 3 clues." The editing of some of these things could have been more vigorous. Also distribution within packets was really bad. One round had 2 law q's leading off the round. The second one was on probable cause. Though I'm guessing one counted as history and the other as law, but really the history one is kinda indistinguishable, which is another problem I have in that you can technically write a q and have it apply to multiple fields and if you put them in the packets at random, oops all of a sudden you have what could be 3 law or lit q's leading off the round. Clearer standards for what counts as what category should probably be applied.

Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Posted: Mon Jun 01, 2009 1:57 pm
by Jeremy Gibbs Paradox
The Toad to Wigan Pier wrote:The ability to have "different time periods" or "subfields" can be accomplished without resorting to a entirely per tournament distribution. All one has to do is simply create the necessary diversity within the question pool used for that tournament, use a within packet distribution to allocate X number of questions per category per packet, and then map questions from the pool onto into the packets based on category, or other criterion. This way you still have the desired distribution within a category across an entire tournament, but have a by packet distribution. There are other ways to accomplish this other than the basic outline I provided(repulsion force based models are interesting), but the notion that one has to resort to the bizarre packetization/randomization method(which obviously didn't work well for the HSNCT) that NAQT seems to employ is simply not true.
What William said. All true.

Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Posted: Mon Jun 01, 2009 2:00 pm
by ClemsonQB
Actually having someone read through the rounds after randomization would solve the duplicate Ethiopia, ebola, law, etc. problems with the set.

Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Posted: Mon Jun 01, 2009 2:03 pm
by Brian Ulrich
ClemsonQB wrote:
Brian Ulrich wrote:I'm sure there are other ways to do that. Perhaps for clarity I should have confined myself to saying that the per tournament distribution is not the cause of the problems people attribute to it.
Yes it absolutely is. NAQT's per tournament distribution is the reason why some rounds have more trash (or less arts/ss) than others, which is what people are complaining about.
OK, in the sense some rounds have 1 SS and others have 2. That's the extent of the variance. The exception might be where NAQT break Trash down into multiple to-level categories, such as PC and Sports.

As I've offered, if you have a counterexample, I'll check up on it for you. I would be surprised if it weren't an issue of question categorization rather than distribution style as such.

Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Posted: Mon Jun 01, 2009 2:03 pm
by cvdwightw
ClemsonQB wrote:Actually having someone read through the rounds after randomization would solve the duplicate Ethiopia, ebola, law, etc. problems with the set.
Unless one of the Ethiopia questions was a last-second replacement, the Ethiopia problem should have been caught and fixed well before the final randomization stage. That said, having questions 11 and 14 on the exact same answer choice no doubt led to many "I have clear knowledge, but it can't be Ethiopia again" losses of points.

Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Posted: Mon Jun 01, 2009 2:04 pm
by Terrible Shorts Depot
On a positive note, I really liked some of the tossups. Stephen Vincent Benet was pretty cool, because he's awesome. I also really enjoyed the Draft Riots tossup. Gross Clinic was well done, as was Great Northern War. I'll never turn down a tossup on Evelyn Waugh, though it sort of seemed rather easy to power, considering that the main character of his most famous novel was still in power. The University of Mississippi was a good idea, but I felt like it wasn't executed perfectly. It was sort of confusing at the beginning. Bob Taft was a cool tossup, too.

So, in the end, a lot of stuff sucked, but there was a fair amount of good stuff that made it suck less.

Also, complaining about the trash distro in an academic tournament is stupid and pointless. He is right that there was too much sports and not nearly enough music, but it doesn't matter.

Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Posted: Mon Jun 01, 2009 2:12 pm
by Jeremy Gibbs Paradox
la2pgh wrote:
Also, complaining about the trash distro in an academic tournament is stupid and pointless. He is right that there was too much sports and not nearly enough music, but it doesn't matter.
No it's not stupid. NAQT has made a clear effort in the past to listen to feedback in the past and make corrections accordingly. Part of the reason for this is that it makes them more accountable to their clientele than their competitors and also helps to improve the overall quality of their product. Making "complaints" especially well-reasoned, constructive ones that could be practiced in the future by NAQT is a valuable part of this process.

Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Posted: Mon Jun 01, 2009 2:14 pm
by Mechanical Beasts
Brian Ulrich wrote:OK, in the sense some rounds have 1 SS and others have 2. That's the extent of the variance. The exception might be where NAQT break Trash down into multiple to-level categories, such as PC and Sports.
Don't forget that a lot of teams (and moderators especially) are used to playing question sets that have zero tossups on purring, and might dismiss a couple of the set's social science questions as not possibly social science because they're just sort of general knowledge or current events or possibly just entirely crap.

Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Posted: Mon Jun 01, 2009 2:16 pm
by Jeremy Gibbs Paradox
everyday847 wrote:
Brian Ulrich wrote:OK, in the sense some rounds have 1 SS and others have 2. That's the extent of the variance. The exception might be where NAQT break Trash down into multiple to-level categories, such as PC and Sports.
Don't forget that a lot of teams (and moderators especially) are used to playing question sets that have zero tossups on purring, and might dismiss a couple of the set's social science questions as not possibly social science because they're just sort of general knowledge or current events or possibly just entirely crap.
Seriously that "purring" q was barely a step above the infamous "banana" tus of CBI fame.

Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Posted: Mon Jun 01, 2009 2:19 pm
by Brian Ulrich
everyday847 wrote:
Brian Ulrich wrote:OK, in the sense some rounds have 1 SS and others have 2. That's the extent of the variance. The exception might be where NAQT break Trash down into multiple to-level categories, such as PC and Sports.
Don't forget that a lot of teams (and moderators especially) are used to playing question sets that have zero tossups on purring, and might dismiss a couple of the set's social science questions as not possibly social science because they're just sort of general knowledge or current events or possibly just entirely crap.
And this is exactly my point. The problems people identify aren't caused by having a tournament-wide distribution, but 1.) what that distribution happens to be and 2.) the way questions are categorized within it, with popular literature being the most commonly mentioned example. Convincing NAQT to invest the time and effort to change its question allocation practices would accomplish nothing, therefore wasting said time and effort.

The purring question was zoology.

Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Posted: Mon Jun 01, 2009 2:21 pm
by Auroni
The clues in the purring question were virtually unbuzzable until "vocal cords" and the like were mentioned, at which point teams would have to get a lucky guess until the very end of the tossup.

Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Posted: Mon Jun 01, 2009 2:22 pm
by InspectorHound
Unplayed Packet 26 Wrote:
The abaca or "Manila hemp" is a variety of this plant afflicted by bunchy top and Sigatoka diseases. Its genus, Musa, come from its Arabic name, and its leaves are traditionally used to serve food in South India. In the developing world the most important non-grain (*) food crop is this seedless fruit that grows in bunches called "hands." Plantains are another type of FTP what curved, yellow fruit?

Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Posted: Mon Jun 01, 2009 2:29 pm
by Mechanical Beasts
Brian Ulrich wrote:
everyday847 wrote:
Brian Ulrich wrote:OK, in the sense some rounds have 1 SS and others have 2. That's the extent of the variance. The exception might be where NAQT break Trash down into multiple to-level categories, such as PC and Sports.
Don't forget that a lot of teams (and moderators especially) are used to playing question sets that have zero tossups on purring, and might dismiss a couple of the set's social science questions as not possibly social science because they're just sort of general knowledge or current events or possibly just entirely crap.
And this is exactly my point. The problems people identify aren't caused by having a tournament-wide distribution, but 1.) what that distribution happens to be and 2.) the way questions are categorized within it, with popular literature being the most commonly mentioned example. Convincing NAQT to invest the time and effort to change its question allocation practices would accomplish nothing, therefore wasting said time and effort.

The purring question was zoology.
Okay, so I'll rephrase. A tournament-wide distribution is only bad when a random fraction of your biology : zoology tossups are laughably bad ideas on "purring," because then some rounds will have two good bio tossups and some will have zero. NAQT does, in fact, have the option to start writing questions that are consistently acceptable to be played by teams that don't just show up to giggle at the answer choice and thereby keep its precious tournament-wide distribution. But since it's had that option for a while and whenever Samer is editing biochem instead of Matt Keller, horrible things happen, I think it's obvious that NAQT isn't interested in providing quality questions. So at least switching to a per-packet distribution would eliminate the component of variability that NAQT is interested in improving on.

Of course, perhaps NAQT is interested in finding a competent biochem editor that won't let abortions like the purring question into the set; if so, please let everyone know so that we no longer think that NAQT is not interested in writing good questions.

Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Posted: Mon Jun 01, 2009 2:29 pm
by Mechanical Beasts
JelloBiafra wrote:The clues in the purring question were virtually unbuzzable until "vocal cords" and the like were mentioned, at which point teams would have to get a lucky guess until the very end of the tossup.
Naw, man, from the beginning species were doing it differently, and everyone knows how cute a purring lion is, so duh.

Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Posted: Mon Jun 01, 2009 2:56 pm
by Brian Ulrich
Here's the social science in the set:

Round 1: Taung Child bonus (paleontology), Engels (sociology)
Round 2: social scientists describing religion (sociology), Kenneth Arrow (economics)
Round 3: Cyrillic alphabet (linguistics)
Round 4: types of goods (economics)
Round 5: Pacific ehtnographies (anthropology), bill of attainder (government)
Round 6: probable cause (jurisprudence)
Round 7: transformation (linguistics)
Round 8: Soviet government (government), Franz Boas (anthropology)
Round 9: Vilfredo Pareto (economics)
Round 10: Gresham's law bonus (economics), Latin legal terms (jurisprudence)
Round 11: Peru (archaeology)
Round 12: Alexis de Tocqueville (political science/political philosophy)
Round 13: neoconservatism bonus (political science/political philosophy)
Round 14: Claude Levi-Strauss (anthropology), Anna Freud (psychology)
Round 15: Milton Friedman (economics), Chicago (sociology)
Round 16: cuneiform (linguistics)
Round 17: theories of development (psychology)
Round 18: American psychologists (psychology), Rosetta stone (archaeology)
Round 19: Laffer curve (economics)
Round 20: Quesnay bonus (economics)
Round 21: name these anthropologists (anthropology), veto (government)
Round 22: Gestalt school (psychology)
Round 23: Rorschach test (psychology)
Round 24: ancient cities (archaeology), memory (psychology)
Round 25: John Maynard Keynes (economics)
Round 26: Supreme court functioning (government)

Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Posted: Mon Jun 01, 2009 3:07 pm
by dxdtdemon
Could someone please post the "purring" question?

Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Posted: Mon Jun 01, 2009 3:09 pm
by at your pleasure
I have to say, some of that social science looks pretty marginal. The cryillic alphabet in paticular strikes me as anamalous, as does most of the archeology. Could the Cyrillic alphabet and ancient cities tossups be posted for further inspection?

Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Posted: Mon Jun 01, 2009 3:10 pm
by Down and out in Quintana Roo
cvdwightw wrote:
ClemsonQB wrote:Actually having someone read through the rounds after randomization would solve the duplicate Ethiopia, ebola, law, etc. problems with the set.
Unless one of the Ethiopia questions was a last-second replacement, the Ethiopia problem should have been caught and fixed well before the final randomization stage. That said, having questions 11 and 14 on the exact same answer choice no doubt led to many "I have clear knowledge, but it can't be Ethiopia again" losses of points.
Our team captain said almost this exact same thing in that round.

Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Posted: Mon Jun 01, 2009 3:15 pm
by Brian Ulrich
Cyrillic alphabet:
This system has been used for the Turkic language Karakalpak [KAR-ah-KAHL-pahk] as well as the Sinitic language Dungan, and the informal Volapuk encoding is one way to represent it in ASCII. It contains a "hard sign" and a "soft sign," as well as a vowel resembling an (*) I-O ligature that is pronounced "you." The brother of St. Methodius is the namesake of--for 10 points--what alphabet used to write Bulgarian, Ukrainian, and Russian?

answer: _Cyrillic_ alphabet
Ancient cities:
For 10 points each--name these ancient cities:

A. The name of this Indus Valley Civilization city south of Harappa is Sindhi for "Mound of the Dead."

answer: _Mohenjo-daro_

B. Legible {papyrus} scrolls have been found at this city northwest of Pompeii, site of the medieval town of Resina, that was also destroyed by the AD 79 eruption of Vesuvius.

answer: _Herculaneum_ [HUR-kyoo-LAY-nee-um]

C. A copy of the {Sumerian King List} was found in this city ruled by the legendary {Gilgamesh}.

answer: _Uruk_ (do not accept "Ur")
Purring:
Larger organisms that exhibit this behavior can only do so while exhaling. It has a species-dependent frequency of 25 to 150 hertz and can stimulate bone growth and healing; it may be an adaptation to maintain health despite long periods of rest or sleep. It appears to occur without vibrating the (*) {vocal cords} due to a rapid twitching in the larynx. For 10 points--name this sound associated with contented cats.

answer: _purr_ing

Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Posted: Mon Jun 01, 2009 5:15 pm
by grapesmoker
This system has been used for the Turkic language Karakalpak [KAR-ah-KAHL-pahk] as well as the Sinitic language Dungan, and the informal Volapuk encoding is one way to represent it in ASCII. It contains a "hard sign" and a "soft sign," as well as a vowel resembling an (*) I-O ligature that is pronounced "you." The brother of St. Methodius is the namesake of--for 10 points--what alphabet used to write Bulgarian, Ukrainian, and Russian?

answer: _Cyrillic_ alphabet
As a Russian speaker (and therefore someone who knows a thing or two about the Cyrillic writing system), the opening sentence strikes me as entirely useless. Basically, if you've ever written anything in Cyrillic, you'll know about hard and soft signs, but I find it dubious that anyone who isn't Guy Tabachnik is going to buzz on an obscure Turkic language. And what's that nonsense about ASCII encoding doing in there? That has nothing to do with linguistics at all!
Larger organisms that exhibit this behavior can only do so while exhaling. It has a species-dependent frequency of 25 to 150 hertz and can stimulate bone growth and healing; it may be an adaptation to maintain health despite long periods of rest or sleep. It appears to occur without vibrating the (*) {vocal cords} due to a rapid twitching in the larynx. For 10 points--name this sound associated with contented cats.

answer: _purr_ing
What a horrible question. Why did anyone think this belongs in a quizbowl tournament, much less a national one?

Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Posted: Mon Jun 01, 2009 5:25 pm
by at your pleasure
For 10 points each--name these ancient cities:

A. The name of this Indus Valley Civilization city south of Harappa is Sindhi for "Mound of the Dead."

answer: _Mohenjo-daro_

B. Legible {papyrus} scrolls have been found at this city northwest of Pompeii, site of the medieval town of Resina, that was also destroyed by the AD 79 eruption of Vesuvius.

answer: _Herculaneum_ [HUR-kyoo-LAY-nee-um]

C. A copy of the {Sumerian King List} was found in this city ruled by the legendary {Gilgamesh}.

answer: _Uruk_ (do not accept "Ur")
This honestly reads like a weird ancient history question with a random myth/lit clue and a less-than useful lingustic sounding clue. Archeology questions can be social science questions, but I don't feel like this was one.

Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Posted: Mon Jun 01, 2009 5:36 pm
by jonpin
First Chairman wrote:Just my thoughts: I think it was Jim Valvano who emphasized that the value of a free throw at the end of a game is the same as the value of a free throw at the beginning. If one is to truly randomize packets and the distribution includes trash, one must accept the possibility a game would end on a trash question. I'm sure one can deliberately embargo certain questions to the front of the packet compared to the back (which thus renders "randomizing" as a moot point as a definition). But I know lots of people don't want to see questions they are weak on to be deciding questions, such as calculation tossups. Thus I think the argument to me should be directed more towards the fact there is a tournament but not a packet distribution, and whatever arguments whether trash belongs in the answer space at a national tournament.
That said, I don't know how many tossups the Butthead game got to in regulation, but a supplemental packet was probably needed for overtime. Whether one believes that tossup #20 is more deciding than tossup #2 or not, overtime tossups are almost ALWAYS decisive, and thus it could easily be argued that OT tossups should not be trash.

Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Posted: Mon Jun 01, 2009 6:13 pm
by Sir Thopas
grapesmoker wrote:
This system has been used for the Turkic language Karakalpak [KAR-ah-KAHL-pahk] as well as the Sinitic language Dungan, and the informal Volapuk encoding is one way to represent it in ASCII. It contains a "hard sign" and a "soft sign," as well as a vowel resembling an (*) I-O ligature that is pronounced "you." The brother of St. Methodius is the namesake of--for 10 points--what alphabet used to write Bulgarian, Ukrainian, and Russian?

answer: _Cyrillic_ alphabet
As a Russian speaker (and therefore someone who knows a thing or two about the Cyrillic writing system), the opening sentence strikes me as entirely useless. Basically, if you've ever written anything in Cyrillic, you'll know about hard and soft signs, but I find it dubious that anyone who isn't Guy Tabachnik is going to buzz on an obscure Turkic language. And what's that nonsense about ASCII encoding doing in there? That has nothing to do with linguistics at all!
Yeah, this tossup is pretty awful. I may have buzzed on "this Turkic language", because, hey, a lot of Turkic peoples lived in areas ruled by the Soviet Union; after that, there's nothing there; either you've figured out that it's an alphabet for no particular reason, because nothing really connects the two, and fraud it, or you're not buzzing there. Also I fail to see how it's linguistics at all. I'm not going to get this tossup by studying the phonology of Karakalpak; I might get it by browsing through Omniglot and cramming a list of names.

Similarly, I fail to see how cuneiform could possibly be linguistics. And this in addition to the foreign language tossup on "the circumflex"...because, clearly, nothing was learned from the tossup on the acute accent at SCT, which was a horrible idea. What was the point of having those SCT discussions if NAQT isn't changing its ways as a result? Wasn't that the point of the feedback? (I'd like to see both those tossups, by the way, thanks.)

Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Posted: Mon Jun 01, 2009 6:44 pm
by Brian Ulrich
Circumflex:
In Welsh this {diacritical} indicates a {long vowel}. In Esperanto it differentiates letters pronounced as "ts" [T-S] and "ch" [C-H]. In French it often indicates that an 's' was once present after the vowel, as in the word (*) ~h\^opital~ [oh-pee-tahl]; it is also the only mark that can appear above all five French vowels. For 10 points--name this diacritical found between the percent sign and the ampersand on the same key as the 6.

answer: _circumflex_ (accept l'_accent circumflex_; accept _caret_)
Cuneiform:
The symbols used in this writing system are supported by {Unicode}, starting with character 12000 ["one two zero zero zero"]. Its early forms used a {rebus} system to encode proper names, and its decipherment began in earnest when Carsten (*) Niebuhr copied the inscriptions at Persepolis. A scribe used a reed stylus to make impressions in a soft clay tablet in--for 10 points--what "wedge-shaped" writing system of the ancient Middle East?

answer: _cuneiform_ [kyoo-NEE-uh-form]
The cuneiform question was added very late, and did not go through the subject-editing process. Mitchell Szczepanczyk normally edits linguistics, while R does other social sciences.

Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Posted: Mon Jun 01, 2009 6:57 pm
by Haaaaaaaarry Whiiiiiiiiiite
Brian Ulrich wrote:Circumflex:
For 10 points--name this diacritical found between the percent sign and the ampersand on the same key as the 6.
BUZZ Question Mark

Re: 2009 HSNCT question discussion

Posted: Mon Jun 01, 2009 7:01 pm
by at your pleasure
I could imagine a cuneiform question that's legitimate linguistics(mostly involving linguistic clues on lanugages written in cuneiform, which would result in an akward but possibly serviceable tossup) but that is most definitely not it . By the way, were the cuneiform, circumflex and Cyrillic questions written by the same person?