Ideal Trash Distribution

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Ideal Trash Distribution

Post by Terrible Shorts Depot » Tue Jul 27, 2010 11:46 pm

In order to prevent the CO Trash thread from getting gummed up, I'm starting this to discuss the ideal distro for trash.

I personally lean towards something that looks like 25% music, 25% sports, 30% movies/TV, and 20% other/interdisciplinary. This is probably a bit heavy on the other and a bit light on the movies/TV, but it's easy enough to figure out and I really like tossups like the one on jorts from Goodman. Beyond that, any tournament that weights music and sports differently is probably making a poor choice.

Thoughts?
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Re: Ideal Trash Distribution

Post by Cheynem » Tue Jul 27, 2010 11:53 pm

I think that's a good distro, but to be honest, I think Michael Arnold, Mike Bentley, and Greg Weinstein have decent distros too. I think there is no "ideal" trash distro because trash also lends itself so well to common link cross distro stuff. That said, I don't see this as a problem (I guess national trash "championships" aside)--each tournament has its own feel depending on what gets slightly emphasized. I like Charlie's distro if you make the other a bit more TV/movies heavy in its cross distro clues.
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Re: Ideal Trash Distribution

Post by OctagonJoe » Wed Jul 28, 2010 12:37 am

I'm still not sure why movies and tv continue to get slighted in distros. 30% might be "more" than music and sports get, but music/sports are getting 50% when similarly combined. I'd probably go 25% sports, 25% music, 40% movies/tv combo, and 10% other as a very rough distro. This way movies and tv can each get 20% and/or at least around 15% each with some room for crossing up stuff.
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Re: Ideal Trash Distribution

Post by AKKOLADE » Wed Jul 28, 2010 1:18 am

OctagonJoe wrote:30% might be "more" than music and sports get, but music/sports are getting 50% when similarly combined.
There aren't that many questions on Shaq's albums.

Yet.
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Re: Ideal Trash Distribution

Post by OctagonJoe » Wed Jul 28, 2010 1:21 am

Ronnie the Bear wrote:
OctagonJoe wrote:30% might be "more" than music and sports get, but music/sports are getting 50% when similarly combined.
There aren't that many questions on Shaq's albums.

Yet.
Shaq could probably end up in any distribution depending on what you're feeling.
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Re: Ideal Trash Distribution

Post by AKKOLADE » Wed Jul 28, 2010 1:50 am

OctagonJoe wrote:
Ronnie the Bear wrote:
OctagonJoe wrote:30% might be "more" than music and sports get, but music/sports are getting 50% when similarly combined.
There aren't that many questions on Shaq's albums.

Yet.
Shaq should end up in any distribution.
Fixed.

I've mentioned this before, but I think video games should get a definite spot in the distribution. They've been a part of pop culture for 30+ years now, they are a major industry and there's a definite answer space that can be explored there.
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Re: Ideal Trash Distribution

Post by MicroEStudent » Wed Jul 28, 2010 6:33 am

Ronnie the Bear wrote:
OctagonJoe wrote: Shaq should end up in any distribution.
Fixed.
I can't wait until every packet has a Shaq the basketball player, Shaq Vs., Shaq the rapper, Shaq the movie star, Shaq hawking Pepsi and Shaqfu question in it!

EDIT: Changed his TV distro
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Re: Ideal Trash Distribution

Post by gregpweinstein » Wed Jul 28, 2010 8:24 am

I am not sure about everyone else, but for the future I would try and make something mostly in one category. For instance, the question on Angela Lansbury (which I believe this is how it was done) could have all movie clues and then FTP name this actress who also starred as Jessica Fletcher on Murder She Wrote. That would fall under the movie category, and would also probably be harder, but still very gettable at the end. And then when writing cross-distribution questions, a writer must be aware he/she is doing that, and then plan accordingly with the rest of the round. For instance, a question on Betty White that switched from her tv roles to her movie roles and back again would fall into both categories and then, therefore the question writer would have to realize that fills both categories and then just decide which one he/she wants to take it away from. Or theoretically, I guess you could presumably make it 25% sports, 45% movies/tv, 20% music, and 10% other. And then just fill it that way. Either way I believe it would fall into the same thing, and I agree with you Fred on video games, and in a 20/20 packet my distribution would basically look like 4/4 music, 5/5 sports, 9/9 movies/tv, and 2/2 other (with 1/1 being video games/comics or you could separate them out and have 1/1 of each, therefore you dont have to write a question on something that does not fit those categories if you dont want to, or you could write a question on the evolution of wrigley's gum in a tie-breaker or something. Basically, the 2/2 would work to fit the writer's/tournament's discretion.

I moved this over from the CO trash discussion as it seemed more prevalent here
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Re: Ideal Trash Distribution

Post by Jamnman23 » Wed Jul 28, 2010 8:56 am

From looking at this discussion, it seems that a lot of the difficulty in pinning down an optimal trash distribution is deciding what to do with TV/movies because of the natural overlap of the two categories. I think the idea of using the common link/interdisciplinary section within the "other" part of the distribution is a good way for one to combine the two categories into one question without sacrificing the space carved out for either individual category. In order to ensure that each part of the distribution gets its fair amount of questions, I will often try to segregate TV and Movies, especially when writing tossups. This could potentially lead to less interesting tossups, but there is certainly something to be said for having consistency in the amount of each category that appears in every packet. This debate about how to best include TV & Movies also hints at basic ideas of question writing and what people are trying to do by writing particular questions. For example, it is often considered bad writing if one is writing a tossup on a song to include too many or too early clues about the song's use in film, because one assumes that someone writing a question on a song is supposedly trying to reward music knowledge and not film knowledge. However,I guess one can argue that if you really like a song, you would be more aware of its use in film. Anyway, I feel like this applies to the TV/Movies debate as well. What type of knowledge are you trying to reward by writing any given TV or Movie question? I think combining TV and Movies is fine, but I personally would find it difficult to keep tabs on a balanced distribution if I couldn't quickly identify most questions as either just TV or just Movie questions. At the same time, flexibility in these parts of the distribution is something that could definitely vary between tournaments and create the unique "feel" to a tournament that many have mentioned recently. Anyway, in reference to the original question about the overall distribution, I think that most of the ideas posted are pretty good. In writing tournaments so far, I have usually gone 20% Movies, 20% Music, 20% TV, 20% Sports, and 20% Other. Within "Other", I have usually carved out a healthy space for video games and even space for comics, which makes the distribution more consistent between packets and makes the nebulous part of the "Other" distribution less significant. Despite the fact that I will probably never answer a video game question in a trash tournament (unless there is a question on Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2003 or Project Gotham Racing), I think that video games definitely deserve 1/1 and possibly even 2/1 or 1/2. They are certainly mainstream and have become a major element of pop culture. In terms of comics, I would put one comics question in per round.
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Re: Ideal Trash Distribution

Post by Coelacanth » Wed Jul 28, 2010 9:42 am

Jamnman23 wrote:I have usually gone 20% Movies, 20% Music, 20% TV, 20% Sports, and 20% Other. Within "Other", I have usually carved out a healthy space for video games and even space for comics
I think this is pretty much correct, as long as you apply some common sense. Certainly there's going to be overlap between movies and TV, so if one packet is 5/3 movies and 3/5 TV or whatever, that's not the end of the world.

As much as I personally hate video game questions, I think carving out 1/1 of the "Other" for them is appropriate. I would prefer to see video game content come up as part of cross-disciplinary questions, to give the non-gamers a chance at some points, but that's a matter of style and it's certainly not wrong to have "pure" video game questions.

The nice thing about a consistent 20% per major category is the symmetry. With 4/4 questions, you can pick your target median year and do half your questions earlier and half later. For sports, you breakdown football/baseball/basketball/others, etc. I am not much for writing by formula, but with a consistent 5-category distribution, your answer space is pretty well defined and you can spend your time looking for interesting clues.
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Re: Ideal Trash Distribution

Post by Terrible Shorts Depot » Wed Jul 28, 2010 9:51 am

Jamnman23 wrote:20% Movies, 20% Music, 20% TV, 20% Sports, and 20% Other.
Having that much TV leads to tossups on Love Monkey and Inside Schwartz.
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Re: Ideal Trash Distribution

Post by bsmith » Wed Jul 28, 2010 12:00 pm

Coelacanth wrote:As much as I personally hate video game questions, I think carving out 1/1 of the "Other" for them is appropriate.
I dislike gaming too, but give video games more credit than 5%. I know revenue isn't the defining criterion for distribution, but we are talking about popular culture. In 2009, the video game industry was second only to sports among the segments of pop culture in terms of US revenue:
Sports: $25.9 B
Video games: $19.6 B
Music: $17 B (this is a global figure, not US-specific)
TV: $15.6 B (probably some overlap with sports)
Movies: $10 B (slightly more, I only saw that Hollywood passed the $10B mark)

Revenue alone suggests a distribution of 30% sports, 20-25% gaming, 20% music, 15-20% TV, 10% movies, but I wouldn't go that far because gaming doesn't have as much history compared to movies and music, and sports and TV revenues overlap. In the Ottawa Hybrid, we ended up with 20% sports, 20% music, 20% movies, 18% TV, 18% gaming (included some board/card games), and 4% other.

And just to throw a spanner in the works: Internet ad revenue was $22.7B (I don't know what portion of that is from "safe for work" stuff). Websites, apps, blogging, and all sorts of other internet goodies will soon be deserving of a portion of the pop culture distribution on par with the other industries.
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Re: Ideal Trash Distribution

Post by Theory Of The Leisure Flask » Wed Jul 28, 2010 1:46 pm

Personally, I'd go with something like 4/4 music, 4/4 sports, 4/4 movies, 3/3 TV, 2/2 games (3 video, 1 board/card), 3/3 other. (And I say this as someone who'd benefit from 5/5 music.) The "other" category could possibly guarantee at least 1 question each on the internet and consumer products.

Also, I would love to see trash tournaments include up to 1/1 academic material per packet. The vast majority of academic tournaments include some pop culture, there's no good reason the converse can't be true too.
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Re: Ideal Trash Distribution

Post by Coelacanth » Wed Jul 28, 2010 1:59 pm

This whole revenue argument always comes up when talking about Trash distribution, and I just don't think sales revenue is a particularly useful proxy for relevance.

(As an aside, what I think is very relevant is the target audience of your tournament. Obviously, tournaments primarily intended for current undergraduates should have more video games than tournaments like TRASH intended for the public at large. But this is completely separate from the point I'm trying to make here...)

I don't go to a lot of movies; nor do I buy or play a lot of video games. I've actually spent several times more money this year on video games than movies (2 or 3 games at $20 or $30 each; 1 or 2 movies at $8 or $9 each). So what?

If you were to ask me, or others like me ("like me" being defined as "a non-expert on both movies and video games") what the most popular current and recent movies are, what they are generally about, and who are the actors/writers/directors getting the most "buzz", I could probably give you a decent overview. If you were to ask me what are the currently best-selling video games, what characters/features/plot elements do they have, and who are the hot designers and studios, I would have no idea. I suspect that I'm not alone in this.

My position is that, regardless of the amount spent on them, movies (and TV and sports) just have a higher level of visibility and awareness in the overall culture than do video games. The media spend a lot more time and effort covering Lebron and Twilight and 30 Rock than they do Final Fantasy 26 or Madden 2011 or whatever. Yes, I recognize that there is an extensive media culture devoted to video games, and that there's nothing preventing non-gamers from utilizing those media as prep for Trash tournaments, but I maintain that these are still relatively niche by comparison. A lot more people watch SportsCenter and E! than watch G4; a LOT more.

To take the argument to a ridiculous extreme, people spend a lot more money on food than video games. Does this mean we should have more questions about grocery store chains, the grading systems for meat and eggs, brands of cereal and instant coffee, or the latest frozen pizza toppings? Of course not.

To summarize this concisely (too late!):
1) the Trash distribution should reflect the pop-cultural interests of people generally;
2) it's appropriate to tweak the margins of the distribution to reflect the target audience of a particular tournament set;
3) statistics like sales revenue are not generally a good proxy for the pop-cultural relevance of any given topic
4) there's obviously no absolute right or wrong distribution; the taste of individual editors come into play, and it's OK that not every tournament has the same distribution
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Re: Ideal Trash Distribution

Post by Cheynem » Wed Jul 28, 2010 2:19 pm

I think that trash questions should straddle the line between rewarding "what's popular" and "what's deep knowledge." It doesn't take much effort to watch, say, The Office or 30 Rock. You can and should write good questions on them. It takes more effort to watch, say, 1970's Saturday Night Live and you should also reward that. I'd really encourage more trash authors to utilize written reference sources--I read a lot about sports, film, and TV history.
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Re: Ideal Trash Distribution

Post by AKKOLADE » Wed Jul 28, 2010 3:41 pm

Coelacanth wrote:This whole revenue argument always comes up when talking about Trash distribution, and I just don't think sales revenue is a particularly useful proxy for relevance.

(As an aside, what I think is very relevant is the target audience of your tournament. Obviously, tournaments primarily intended for current undergraduates should have more video games than tournaments like TRASH intended for the public at large. But this is completely separate from the point I'm trying to make here...)

I don't go to a lot of movies; nor do I buy or play a lot of video games. I've actually spent several times more money this year on video games than movies (2 or 3 games at $20 or $30 each; 1 or 2 movies at $8 or $9 each). So what?

If you were to ask me, or others like me ("like me" being defined as "a non-expert on both movies and video games") what the most popular current and recent movies are, what they are generally about, and who are the actors/writers/directors getting the most "buzz", I could probably give you a decent overview. If you were to ask me what are the currently best-selling video games, what characters/features/plot elements do they have, and who are the hot designers and studios, I would have no idea. I suspect that I'm not alone in this.

My position is that, regardless of the amount spent on them, movies (and TV and sports) just have a higher level of visibility and awareness in the overall culture than do video games. The media spend a lot more time and effort covering Lebron and Twilight and 30 Rock than they do Final Fantasy 26 or Madden 2011 or whatever. Yes, I recognize that there is an extensive media culture devoted to video games, and that there's nothing preventing non-gamers from utilizing those media as prep for Trash tournaments, but I maintain that these are still relatively niche by comparison. A lot more people watch SportsCenter and E! than watch G4; a LOT more.

To take the argument to a ridiculous extreme, people spend a lot more money on food than video games. Does this mean we should have more questions about grocery store chains, the grading systems for meat and eggs, brands of cereal and instant coffee, or the latest frozen pizza toppings? Of course not.

To summarize this concisely (too late!):
1) the Trash distribution should reflect the pop-cultural interests of people generally;
2) it's appropriate to tweak the margins of the distribution to reflect the target audience of a particular tournament set;
3) statistics like sales revenue are not generally a good proxy for the pop-cultural relevance of any given topic
4) there's obviously no absolute right or wrong distribution; the taste of individual editors come into play, and it's OK that not every tournament has the same distribution
Dissecting the (poor) argument that because a lot of money is spent on video games means that they should not make up a large part of the distro does not make a good argument against an increased video game distro.

Video game questions aren't based on watching G4 (well, good ones, anyway). They're based on playing video games. Video game questions also aren't... based... on whatever the equivalent of those terrible suggestions regarding food would be.

It really sounds like your argument could be simplified as, "I don't know them, so they shouldn't be asked."

I'm certainly not pushing for 4/4, but 1/1 to 2/2 seems pretty reasonable.
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Re: Ideal Trash Distribution

Post by theMoMA » Wed Jul 28, 2010 3:55 pm

Anything less than 1/1 video games seems stingy, but I agree with Brian that there is a big difference between the exposure of video games and of the large areas of the distribution. A lot fewer people play through a particular video game than watch a typical tossup-worthy movie or TV show. And a lot more people gain exposure to TV shows or movies they haven't watched than become aware of video games they've never played. TV and movies are basically available at any time, via internet, for very little cost. Most games cost $50. And etc.
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Re: Ideal Trash Distribution

Post by fizzball » Wed Jul 28, 2010 4:19 pm

bsmith wrote: I dislike gaming too, but give video games more credit than 5%. I know revenue isn't the defining criterion for distribution, but we are talking about popular culture. In 2009, the video game industry was second only to sports among the segments of pop culture in terms of US revenue:
Sports: $25.9 B
Video games: $19.6 B
Music: $17 B (this is a global figure, not US-specific)
TV: $15.6 B (probably some overlap with sports)
Movies: $10 B (slightly more, I only saw that Hollywood passed the $10B mark)

These figures seem misleading to me. The video game sales wiki breaks the number down and shows that VG software makes up just under $10B of that $19.6. The rest is hardware and accessories. Unless the other audiovisual sales figures also include their associated hardware, adding them to the videogame industry sales artificially boosts the industry's importance.
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Re: Ideal Trash Distribution

Post by bsmith » Wed Jul 28, 2010 4:49 pm

In response to Brian, I did not mean to intend that video games should be weighted more heavily than, say, movies and I don't consider revenues as the sole measure of popularity: ratings for Oscars far outstrip ratings for video game award shows, for example.

What I meant to say is that 5% video games is rather dismissive of this large entertainment industry. It should be higher to reflect the changing environment. Similarly, one day in the future, Web-related questions will be a more significant part of the trash distribution.
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Re: Ideal Trash Distribution

Post by Coelacanth » Wed Jul 28, 2010 4:52 pm

Ronnie the Bear wrote:It really sounds like your argument could be simplified as, "I don't know them, so they shouldn't be asked."

I'm certainly not pushing for 4/4, but 1/1 to 2/2 seems pretty reasonable.
Re: your first statement above, the simplification I would use would be "more people (like me) know less about them, so they should be asked less frequently".

As to your second point, I think 1/1 for a general-audience field and 2/2 for an undergraduate or high-school field are appropriate.

So we all agree, after all!
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Re: Ideal Trash Distribution

Post by Terrible Shorts Depot » Wed Jul 28, 2010 8:36 pm

One argument against video games that I find particularly resonant is that you are capitally screwed on most video game questions if you don't have primary knowledge, i.e. you've played the game. If I read a video game review, I'm not generally going to get the sort of detail that allows me to buzz early in a tossup, due to the vagaries of how video game reviews are written (the mechanics are good/bad, it's buggy, etc.) and due to the desire not to ruin or spoil the game (much like how movie reviews work). However, music reviews can and do give me the sorts of clues that allow early buzzes. For example, I read 2 reviews of Best Coast's Crazy for You today before downloading it. They mentioned song titles, memorable lyrics (including the hilarious "I wish my cat could talk), anecdotes about Bethany Cosentino's personal life, and a whole host of good things to stick in a tossup. Video games also cost considerably more than music (which can be free if you're willing to break the law), movies (same deal or $9 a month for Netflix), and TV (free), which is a massive barrier to entry if you aren't already a gamer. I'm obviously not arguing against the inclusion of videogames; I am, however, arguing that they should be kept to approx. 3 questions a round at most (1/2 or 2/1).
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Re: Ideal Trash Distribution

Post by Pilgrim » Wed Jul 28, 2010 9:05 pm

Terrible Shorts Depot wrote:One argument against video games that I find particularly resonant is that you are capitally screwed on most video game questions if you don't have primary knowledge, i.e. you've played the game. If I read a video game review, I'm not generally going to get the sort of detail that allows me to buzz early in a tossup, due to the vagaries of how video game reviews are written (the mechanics are good/bad, it's buggy, etc.) and due to the desire not to ruin or spoil the game (much like how movie reviews work). However, music reviews can and do give me the sorts of clues that allow early buzzes. For example, I read 2 reviews of Best Coast's Crazy for You today before downloading it. They mentioned song titles, memorable lyrics (including the hilarious "I wish my cat could talk), anecdotes about Bethany Cosentino's personal life, and a whole host of good things to stick in a tossup. Video games also cost considerably more than music (which can be free if you're willing to break the law), movies (same deal or $9 a month for Netflix), and TV (free), which is a massive barrier to entry if you aren't already a gamer. I'm obviously not arguing against the inclusion of videogames; I am, however, arguing that they should be kept to approx. 3 questions a round at most (1/2 or 2/1).
I'm not sure how much I buy this argument after playing with Rob at JECHT and repeatedly seeing him power tossups on games he said he's never played.
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Re: Ideal Trash Distribution

Post by Cheynem » Wed Jul 28, 2010 9:11 pm

Yeah, Wikipedia and other wikis are invaluable ways to learn about video games without actually playing them, just like you don't need to actually watch film or TV to learn about those things either. I admit I answer most of my VG tossups on games I've played (which is why I only answer NES, SNES, Genesis, and the occasional N64 question), but that's because I don't like reading about them.
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Re: Ideal Trash Distribution

Post by Papa's in the House » Thu Jul 29, 2010 1:27 am

Terrible Shorts Depot wrote:One argument against video games that I find particularly resonant is that you are capitally screwed on most video game questions if you don't have primary knowledge, i.e. you've played the game.
If that argument held true, you wouldn't see Micah Hodosh put up the large number of points he did at TIDUS. Yes, having primary knowledge (i.e., having played the game) helps with answering the tossup, but a lot of times you could just as easily ask someone who's played the game to describe it to you and you would gain the same knowledge you would need to answer a tossup on a particular game (because, let's be realistic, if I'm describing a game to someone, I'm going to tell them whatever I can remember off the top of my head, which is going to be the most memorable, and most clue-worthy, parts of the game).

Also, like Mike Cheyne points out, it's pretty easy to just learn about a video game from a different source (like Wikipedia). A lot of times you can learn about a video game from other parts of the trash distribution (like learning about the basics of Ms. Pacman because you watch Friends).
Video games also cost considerably more than music (which can be free if you're willing to break the law)
If you're willing to break the law to find your music for free, you'd also be likely to break to the law to get your games for free. There are plenty of emulators out there for people to play any game they want, and enterprising young students like ourselves always seem to find a way crack their PS3 or Xbox 360 to play games they downloaded from the internet and either burned onto some type of disc or put on a hard drive they wire into their gaming system.
I'm obviously not arguing against the inclusion of videogames; I am, however, arguing that they should be kept to approx. 3 questions a round at most (1/2 or 2/1).
It seems to me that the people commenting in this thread agree with a 1/1, 1/2, or 2/1 distribution.
gregpweinstein wrote:Or theoretically, I guess you could presumably make it 25% sports, 45% movies/tv, 20% music, and 10% other. And then just fill it that way. Either way I believe it would fall into the same thing, and I agree with you Fred on video games, and in a 20/20 packet my distribution would basically look like 4/4 music, 5/5 sports, 9/9 movies/tv, and 2/2 other (with 1/1 being video games... asically, the 2/2 would work to fit the writer's/tournament's discretion).

This pretty much sums up my views on an "ideal" trash distribution that would still be accepted by a good portion of the QB community as a whole, but I feel as if these numbers should only be a baseline where every trash tournament stays within +/- 1 tossup or bonus of this baseline for any given part of the distribution. Hence, if you found that you really wanted to have 3/2 "other" in a particular round (because you really wanted to write 2/1 video games), then you simply write 8/9 Movies/TV shows to offset the change you made to the distribution (and then you could take the 1/0 Movies/TV shows that you removed and have that be your tiebreaker question).
Charles Martin Jr.
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Academic Buzzer Team | President
B.S. in Accountancy, August 2011
B.S. in Finance, August 2011
MAS Program, Class of 2012

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