2011 ICT Question-specific discussion

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Re: 2011 ICT Question-specific discussion

Post by Jeremy Gibbs Paradox » Mon Apr 11, 2011 4:43 pm

styxman wrote: 2. It seemed like the last three packets of the D2 playoffs were much, much harder than the first three playoff packets, both in tossup accessibility and (to a lesser extent) bonus conversion. It might just be spotty knowledge on my part, but I wonder if the stats bear this out. Do we have round report for this?
This was my impression from staffing as well.
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Re: 2011 ICT Question-specific discussion

Post by at your pleasure » Mon Apr 11, 2011 4:50 pm

I distinctly recall the Isenheim Altarpiece question in D2 claiming it shows a dead soldier in the Resurrection scene, which is incorrect. Could that question be posted?
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Re: 2011 ICT Question-specific discussion

Post by Important Bird Area » Mon Apr 11, 2011 5:09 pm

cvdwightw wrote:I was pretty surprised that It is So! (If You Think So) was not listed as an explicit alternate answer for Right You Are (If You Think You Are). Also, the Australopithecus question turned into a giant game of buzzer chicken; I think everyone in our room sussed out that it was an early human ancestor (certainly at least by the words "Turkana Boy") and didn't want to buzz in case it was something magically obscure.
ICT round 14 wrote:In 2010, Lee Berger and coworkers announced the discovery of the sediba species of this genus that was discussed in a 1946 monograph by Robert Broom. This genus possessed long pisiform bones in the wrist, and its garhi species may be a "missing (*) link" to a successor. Members of this genus created the "Laetoli footprints," and remains of this genus include the Taung Child and a female found in Ethiopia. For 10 points--name this hominid genus whose afarensis species is exemplified by "Lucy."
I'm not entirely sure what happened here. (In particular: the Turkana Boy notably belonged to genus Homo.) Are there many players who have deep enough knowledge to worry about the possibility of a tossup on, say, Ardipithecus, but won't recognize a middle clue like Australopithecus garhi?
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Re: 2011 ICT Question-specific discussion

Post by Important Bird Area » Mon Apr 11, 2011 5:10 pm

Doink the Clown wrote:I distinctly recall the Isenheim Altarpiece question in D2 claiming it shows a dead soldier in the Resurrection scene, which is incorrect. Could that question be posted?
DII ICT round 14 wrote:One of this work's right wings shows a risen Christ above dead soldiers; he is ensconced in a circle of golden light that renders his robe iridescent. The left shows an Angelic Concert next to a Nativity that prefigures its artist's Stuppach Madonna. Sebastian, Anthony, and a (*) lamb carrying a cross flank the Crucifixion in the central panel of--for 10 points--what 1515 Colmar altarpiece painted by Matthias Grunewald?
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Re: 2011 ICT Question-specific discussion

Post by ... and the chaos of Mexican modernity » Mon Apr 11, 2011 5:17 pm

Doink the Clown wrote:I distinctly recall the Isenheim Altarpiece question in D2 claiming it shows a dead soldier in the Resurrection scene, which is incorrect. Could that question be posted?
I seem to remember this as well which caused me to neg.
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Re: 2011 ICT Question-specific discussion

Post by cvdwightw » Mon Apr 11, 2011 5:49 pm

bt_green_warbler wrote:
cvdwightw wrote:I was pretty surprised that It is So! (If You Think So) was not listed as an explicit alternate answer for Right You Are (If You Think You Are). Also, the Australopithecus question turned into a giant game of buzzer chicken; I think everyone in our room sussed out that it was an early human ancestor (certainly at least by the words "Turkana Boy") and didn't want to buzz in case it was something magically obscure.
ICT round 14 wrote:In 2010, Lee Berger and coworkers announced the discovery of the sediba species of this genus that was discussed in a 1946 monograph by Robert Broom. This genus possessed long pisiform bones in the wrist, and its garhi species may be a "missing (*) link" to a successor. Members of this genus created the "Laetoli footprints," and remains of this genus include the Taung Child and a female found in Ethiopia. For 10 points--name this hominid genus whose afarensis species is exemplified by "Lucy."
I'm not entirely sure what happened here. (In particular: the Turkana Boy notably belonged to genus Homo.) Are there many players who have deep enough knowledge to worry about the possibility of a tossup on, say, Ardipithecus, but won't recognize a middle clue like Australopithecus garhi?
Actually, that was probably me mis-hearing Taung Child as Turkana Boy and getting really confused. All in all, it was a better tossup than I remember. I don't think that the problem is people having really deep knowledge of things and then not recognizing clues that they should definitely know if they have deep knowledge. It's more of a deep meta-knowledge that "sometimes really hard tournaments ask about things that are really hard and that I've never heard of," which is going to happen at any hard tournament.
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Re: 2011 ICT Question-specific discussion

Post by Cody » Mon Apr 11, 2011 6:14 pm

setht wrote:To make sure I understand: many people have deep enough "White Collar" (the show) knowledge that they buzzed on the first sentence? If so, that's entirely on me; I wasn't sure how deep to go on clues about White Collar (the show) for my lead-in, and I presumably would have made the same mistake writing that as a pure pop culture question.
Well, yes and no--that clue was buzzed on by three people in my room, but Garrett Fowler is not deep knowledge of "White Collar". He is a very prominent antagonist on the show; anyone who has watched an episode or more* will likely have heard of him.

*after Season 1, Episode 7
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Re: 2011 ICT Question-specific discussion

Post by Papa's in the House » Mon Apr 11, 2011 6:35 pm

SirT wrote:
setht wrote:To make sure I understand: many people have deep enough "White Collar" (the show) knowledge that they buzzed on the first sentence? If so, that's entirely on me; I wasn't sure how deep to go on clues about White Collar (the show) for my lead-in, and I presumably would have made the same mistake writing that as a pure pop culture question.
Well, yes and no--that clue was buzzed on by three people in my room, but Garrett Fowler is not deep knowledge of "White Collar". He is a very prominent antagonist on the show; anyone who has watched an episode or more will likely have heard of him.
I'm currently watching the sixth episode of the first season of the show and can't recall ever hearing this name. I'd say that means knowing his name shows pretty deep knowledge.
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Re: 2011 ICT Question-specific discussion

Post by cvdwightw » Mon Apr 11, 2011 6:53 pm

Papa's in the House wrote:
SirT wrote:
setht wrote:To make sure I understand: many people have deep enough "White Collar" (the show) knowledge that they buzzed on the first sentence? If so, that's entirely on me; I wasn't sure how deep to go on clues about White Collar (the show) for my lead-in, and I presumably would have made the same mistake writing that as a pure pop culture question.
Well, yes and no--that clue was buzzed on by three people in my room, but Garrett Fowler is not deep knowledge of "White Collar". He is a very prominent antagonist on the show; anyone who has watched an episode or more will likely have heard of him.
I'm currently watching the sixth episode of the first season of the show and can't recall ever hearing this name. I'd say that means knowing his name shows pretty deep knowledge.
Well, look, the obvious thing to do here is to wait for the data to come in here and see if there is an abnormally high power percentage. If it was too easy a clue, it will be reflected by the fact that an abnormally high number of rooms powered it compared to what one would expect if it were an actual SS tossup. I suspect that the data will support the idea that the clue was too easy for the field. We cannot go further to say whether or not knowledge of that clue represents deep knowledge or not; rather, only that the level of knowledge needed to distinguish between quizbowlers who know about the show is deeper than what was given in the clue. (I am reminded of this post about the depth required in questions concerning Judaism).
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Re: 2011 ICT Question-specific discussion

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Mon Apr 11, 2011 6:53 pm

Papa's in the House wrote:
SirT wrote:
setht wrote:To make sure I understand: many people have deep enough "White Collar" (the show) knowledge that they buzzed on the first sentence? If so, that's entirely on me; I wasn't sure how deep to go on clues about White Collar (the show) for my lead-in, and I presumably would have made the same mistake writing that as a pure pop culture question.
Well, yes and no--that clue was buzzed on by three people in my room, but Garrett Fowler is not deep knowledge of "White Collar". He is a very prominent antagonist on the show; anyone who has watched an episode or more will likely have heard of him.
I'm currently watching the sixth episode of the first season of the show and can't recall ever hearing this name. I'd say that means knowing his name shows pretty deep knowledge.
...or that you've watched into the second season.
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Re: 2011 ICT Question-specific discussion

Post by Cody » Mon Apr 11, 2011 6:56 pm

Papa's in the House wrote:I'm currently watching the sixth episode of the first season of the show and can't recall ever hearing this name. I'd say that means knowing his name shows pretty deep knowledge.
Heh, sorry, I meant to add that those episodes had to be about halfway through Season 1 or after (IMDB says he first appears in S1.E07), but forgot.
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Re: 2011 ICT Question-specific discussion

Post by Duncan Idaho » Mon Apr 11, 2011 9:16 pm

cvdwightw wrote:I was pretty surprised that It is So! (If You Think So) was not listed as an explicit alternate answer for Right You Are (If You Think You Are).
Something similar happened in the sixth Division II packet: in the bonus about Schopenhauer, The World as Will and Idea was not listed as a correct answer for The World as Will and Representation. I know that in our room, (we were playing Maryland B, though I forgot the room number) the moderator was not experienced enough to know that "idea" is generally accepted for "representation," and both teams had to insist that it was an acceptable answer. This also happened in at least one other room according to players to whom I spoke, possibly from Chicago's Division II A team.
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Re: 2011 ICT Question-specific discussion

Post by Duncan Idaho » Mon Apr 11, 2011 9:23 pm

evilmonkey wrote:I can confirm that the games listed as 27 TUH are games that went to OT.
Also, I have a question for NAQT about tiebreaker tossups- do they count towards a team's bonus conversion? If they do, this seems unfair, since teams only hear tiebreaker tossups and not tiebreaker bonuses. (Obviously if I had taken better notes in our round that went to tiebreakers, I could measure this myself, but my notes for that round are incomplete.)

EDIT: Cross-posted from the original discussion thread that was abandoned in favor of this one.
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Re: 2011 ICT Question-specific discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Mon Apr 11, 2011 10:10 pm

Ben Cole wrote:
evilmonkey wrote:I can confirm that the games listed as 27 TUH are games that went to OT.
Also, I have a question for NAQT about tiebreaker tossups- do they count towards a team's bonus conversion? If they do, this seems unfair, since teams only hear tiebreaker tossups and not tiebreaker bonuses. (Obviously if I had taken better notes in our round that went to tiebreakers, I could measure this myself, but my notes for that round are incomplete.)

EDIT: Cross-posted from the original discussion thread that was abandoned in favor of this one.
It's easy to make sure this doesn't happen in SQBS, but I don't know if the ICT still uses Stat99 or whatever Jim Puls designed.
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Re: 2011 ICT Question-specific discussion

Post by jagluski » Mon Apr 11, 2011 10:25 pm

Crazy Andy Watkins wrote:
Ben Cole wrote:
evilmonkey wrote:I can confirm that the games listed as 27 TUH are games that went to OT.
Also, I have a question for NAQT about tiebreaker tossups- do they count towards a team's bonus conversion? If they do, this seems unfair, since teams only hear tiebreaker tossups and not tiebreaker bonuses. (Obviously if I had taken better notes in our round that went to tiebreakers, I could measure this myself, but my notes for that round are incomplete.)

EDIT: Cross-posted from the original discussion thread that was abandoned in favor of this one.
It's easy to make sure this doesn't happen in SQBS, but I don't know if the ICT still uses Stat99 or whatever Jim Puls designed.

The ICT uses SQBS.


The Jim Puls' designed LiveStat is only used at the HSNCT.
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Re: 2011 ICT Question-specific discussion

Post by Important Bird Area » Mon Apr 11, 2011 10:29 pm

Ben Cole wrote:in the bonus about Schopenhauer, The World as Will and Idea was not listed as a correct answer for The World as Will and Representation.
This has already been fixed for the benefit of the teams playing this set in Texas.
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Re: 2011 ICT Question-specific discussion

Post by Dan-Don » Mon Apr 11, 2011 10:58 pm

I had a good time on the D2 set. It was good. But there were a few things I was wondering about.

How did a "pencil and paper ready" bonus get into this set? (Packet 11, Bonus 8). An archaic list bonus in the finals packet is pretty bad, but surely things like this just aren't allowed at the collegiate level, right? Or maybe I'm mistaken and this really isn't computational. In any event, I'd like to see NAQT be more judicious about letting really old questions into sets.

I find the NAQT trope of "One novel features a character named [whatever]. For 10 points each-- A. Name that novel, which..." to be very odd. I always feel like the bonus is going to take a turn. Isn't it clearer just to say "This novel features a character named [whatever] For 10 points each-- A. Name this novel..."?

Having just glanced through both sets, it seems like a lot of the tossups that were shared between divisions appear in different rounds but use a lot of the same clues. I think that's kind of an issue.
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Re: 2011 ICT Question-specific discussion

Post by Important Bird Area » Mon Apr 11, 2011 11:01 pm

Dan-Don wrote:Having just glanced through both sets, it seems like a lot of the tossups that were shared between divisions appear in different rounds but use a lot of the same clues. I think that's kind of an issue.
This should not have happened (all shared questions are supposed to be in the same rounds). (For the obvious reason that it's insane to expect a question-security quarantine between the divisions over lunch.) Let me know about some specific examples and I'll go find out what the problem was.
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Re: 2011 ICT Question-specific discussion

Post by jonah » Mon Apr 11, 2011 11:04 pm

Dan-Don wrote:How did a "pencil and paper ready" bonus get into this set? (Packet 11, Bonus 8). An archaic list bonus in the finals packet is pretty bad, but surely things like this just aren't allowed at the collegiate level, right? Or maybe I'm mistaken and this really isn't computational. In any event, I'd like to see NAQT be more judicious about letting really old questions into sets.
That question wasn't really old -- it was submitted less than two weeks ago. I didn't love that bonus either (though I like the general idea, and if just one part had been along its lines I would've liked it quite a bit), but it wasn't actually computational—all that can be easily done in your head in a couple of seconds if you know how. "Pencil and paper ready" was probably more just to indicate "taking notes might be a good idea", which it would be.
Dan-Don wrote:I find the NAQT trope of "One novel features a character named [whatever]. For 10 points each-- A. Name that novel, which..." to be very odd. I always feel like the bonus is going to take a turn. Isn't it clearer just to say "This novel features a character named [whatever] For 10 points each-- A. Name this novel..."?
I agree. There's nothing wrong with it, it's just kind of odd phrasing.
Having just glanced through both sets, it seems like a lot of the tossups that were shared between divisions appear in different rounds but use a lot of the same clues. I think that's kind of an issue.
Things should be set up so that derived versions of questions appear in the same-number packet. I know my double reeds tossup didn't satisfy that (it was converted between divisions via a different process, and I think linking the two versions got overlooked), but what others?
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Re: 2011 ICT Question-specific discussion

Post by Dan-Don » Mon Apr 11, 2011 11:13 pm

bt_green_warbler wrote:
Dan-Don wrote:Having just glanced through both sets, it seems like a lot of the tossups that were shared between divisions appear in different rounds but use a lot of the same clues. I think that's kind of an issue.
This should not have happened (all shared questions are supposed to be in the same rounds). (For the obvious reason that it's insane to expect a question-security quarantine between the divisions over lunch.) Let me know about some specific examples and I'll go find out what the problem was.
French horn comes to mind. Is there no way in Ginseng just to quickly open up the page for shared tossups and see if the packet numbers match?
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Re: 2011 ICT Question-specific discussion

Post by Nine-Tenths Ideas » Mon Apr 11, 2011 11:19 pm

I believe double reed was in an earlier DII round and a late DI round. Maybe I'm confusing this with another answer, though.
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Re: 2011 ICT Question-specific discussion

Post by Cheynem » Mon Apr 11, 2011 11:38 pm

Questions I Liked

Prester John--This struck me as one of the few times I've heard a "not totally figure it out" tossup on this guy. It did a nice job mixing lit, history, and whatever clues.

Ripken--This was a neat idea for a trash tossup.

I felt like this set did some neat things with 20th Century history--I was tickled that someone who shares my interests wrote tossups on Estes Kefauver and the Katyn Forest massacre, for instance. I still think that this century is underrepresented.

This set quite frequently asked about things that would be appropriate at regular difficulty, which I think is good, as I dislike tournaments that degenerate into too much "have you heard of this?" stuff. It was fun answering tossups on the Montgomery bus boycott, the Vendee, and the July Revolution. The shorter question forms help here as you do not have to dredge up as much clues to make sure the "harder tossup on ___" thing doesn't become too frustrating.
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Re: 2011 ICT Question-specific discussion

Post by Important Bird Area » Mon Apr 11, 2011 11:41 pm

Dan-Don wrote: French horn comes to mind. Is there no way in Ginseng just to quickly open up the page for shared tossups and see if the packet numbers match?
Hah. I wish. I'll go check up on that French horn tossup.
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Re: 2011 ICT Question-specific discussion

Post by jonah » Mon Apr 11, 2011 11:49 pm

bt_green_warbler wrote:
Dan-Don wrote:French horn comes to mind. Is there no way in Ginseng just to quickly open up the page for shared tossups and see if the packet numbers match?
Hah. I wish. I'll go check up on that French horn tossup.
There wasn't even a French horn tossup in Division II. Are you thinking of the English horn tossup from packet 8?
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Re: 2011 ICT Question-specific discussion

Post by Dan-Don » Mon Apr 11, 2011 11:58 pm

jonah wrote:
bt_green_warbler wrote:
Dan-Don wrote:French horn comes to mind. Is there no way in Ginseng just to quickly open up the page for shared tossups and see if the packet numbers match?
Hah. I wish. I'll go check up on that French horn tossup.
There wasn't even a French horn tossup in Division II. Are you thinking of the English horn tossup from packet 8?
Oh, you're right. I'll look around the packets today and tomorrow.

EDIT: I just remembered this occurred with Dos Passos being in Packets 11 and 12 of D2 and D1 respectively.
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Re: 2011 ICT Question-specific discussion

Post by Jeremy Gibbs Paradox » Tue Apr 12, 2011 12:55 am

Ben Cole wrote:
cvdwightw wrote:I was pretty surprised that It is So! (If You Think So) was not listed as an explicit alternate answer for Right You Are (If You Think You Are).
Something similar happened in the sixth Division II packet: in the bonus about Schopenhauer, The World as Will and Idea was not listed as a correct answer for The World as Will and Representation. I know that in our room, (we were playing Maryland B, though I forgot the room number) the moderator was not experienced enough to know that "idea" is generally accepted for "representation," and both teams had to insist that it was an acceptable answer. This also happened in at least one other room according to players to whom I spoke, possibly from Chicago's Division II A team.
That was me. And it's not a matter of experience it's really just a matter of not wanting to contravene NAQT's rule about substituting my own judgment for what is written on the paper. I was following the instructions given at the staff meeting, though since both teams graciously agreed to the resolution that was obviously preferable.
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Re: 2011 ICT Question-specific discussion

Post by Duncan Idaho » Tue Apr 12, 2011 1:11 am

Jeremy Gibbs Paradox wrote:That was me. And it's not a matter of experience it's really just a matter of not wanting to contravene NAQT's rule about substituting my own judgment for what is written on the paper. I was following the instructions given at the staff meeting, though since both teams graciously agreed to the resolution that was obviously preferable.
I apologize if I seemed to be impugning your character or quizbowl career. As a bit of a conservative moderator, I understand.
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Re: 2011 ICT Question-specific discussion

Post by Jeremy Gibbs Paradox » Tue Apr 12, 2011 1:18 am

Ben Cole wrote:
Jeremy Gibbs Paradox wrote:That was me. And it's not a matter of experience it's really just a matter of not wanting to contravene NAQT's rule about substituting my own judgment for what is written on the paper. I was following the instructions given at the staff meeting, though since both teams graciously agreed to the resolution that was obviously preferable.
I apologize if I seemed to be impugning your character or quizbowl career. As a bit of a conservative moderator, I understand.
Oh don't worry that's not what I feel at all. It's just NAQT is very clear in their instructions to us and unfortunately this was one instance where a clearly longer answer line was actually needed but not provided.
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Re: 2011 ICT Question-specific discussion

Post by Important Bird Area » Tue Apr 12, 2011 1:20 am

Dan-Don wrote:EDIT: I just remembered this occurred with Dos Passos being in Packets 11 and 12 of D2 and D1 respectively.
Those Dos Passos tossups aren't actually shared questions; they're two distinct tossups that both happened to use The Grand Design as a middle clue. (Well, the final sentence "For 10 points--name this author of the U.S.A. trilogy" is also shared verbatim, but I think that condition likely applies to lots of Dos Passos tossups.
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Re: 2011 ICT Question-specific discussion

Post by vandyhawk » Tue Apr 12, 2011 3:32 am

SirT wrote:
setht wrote:To make sure I understand: many people have deep enough "White Collar" (the show) knowledge that they buzzed on the first sentence? If so, that's entirely on me; I wasn't sure how deep to go on clues about White Collar (the show) for my lead-in, and I presumably would have made the same mistake writing that as a pure pop culture question.
Well, yes and no--that clue was buzzed on by three people in my room, but Garrett Fowler is not deep knowledge of "White Collar". He is a very prominent antagonist on the show; anyone who has watched an episode or more* will likely have heard of him.

*after Season 1, Episode 7
What, no one buzzed on my namesake TV villain counterpart before the Garrett Fowler clue? If only I were still playing...
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Re: 2011 ICT Question-specific discussion

Post by Tees-Exe Line » Tue Apr 12, 2011 12:31 pm

I have one more question critique: the bonus that went Liverpool/"Tonypandy Riot"/Churchill was a sub-optimal treatment of pre-war British labor history. First of all, I'd never heard of the "Tonypandy Riot" and tried to answer with the Rhondda Valley Coal Strikes, which were more-or-less named in the question as I remember. Some wikipedia tells me that the Tonypandy Riot was a constituent of that highly consequential event. My knowledge of the period stems from Dangerfield's "The Strange Death of Liberal England," and though I don't have the book at hand, a google books search seems to indicate that the Tonypandy Riot is named once, whereas a large chunk of the book is devoted to labor strife of the period, including in South Wales. I would thus say that asking for "Tonypandy Riot" is a case of classic quizbowl false specificity. The events in the town of Tonypandy should not really be worth studying in themselves.

Second, I think the first part asked for Liverpool by saying there was a big transport strike in this largest port on the west coast of England. There were many strikes in British ports at the time (the fact that they were sympathy strikes is part of why this is historically important), so given that, the first part is a geography question, not a history question.
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Re: 2011 ICT Question-specific discussion

Post by Magister Ludi » Tue Apr 12, 2011 12:58 pm

I'll have a more thorough critique once I have a chance to look over the whole set at practice this week, but I'll mention a few things briefly here.

First, NAQT must start giving aria titles in the original language, especially for tossups on lyric opera. I mentioned this to R. during the 2009 ICT and apparently it hasn't been fixed. When I was playing Chicago on the Norma tossup all the aria titles were given in English, so when Pollione was mentioned I thought to myself "Well it's definitely not Norma because all the aria have been given in English so what Purcell opera has a character named Pollione" and then Selene buzzed with the right answer. If "Meco all'altar di Venere" or "Casta Diva" were given in Italian I would have buzzed. Because arias for lyric operas are almost always performed or recorded in the original, it's critical to put these arias in original language.

Second, I generally enjoyed the abundance of literary criticism questions and the bonus on Frank Kermode was my favorite bonus of the year. (As an aside, people should stop writing questions on Harold Bloom because he is a mediocre critic who has managed his career so that he happens to be famous. He is kind of like the Ken Jennings of literary criticism, but thats an issue for another thread) However, I disliked when a significant portion of a question was devoted to obscure criticism clues at the cost of real clues describing the author's work. I don't have the set in front of me but the question that really stuck out was the Isaac Babel tossup. The leadin seemed like a two line description of an anecdote from Elif Batuman about Babel and then it just starting listing story titles when I lost a buzzer race on "My First Goose." Basically the tossup was a list of Babel stories with no description. Wouldn't want to take away a single nuance of Batuman's anecdote to actually describe the stories!

Now let me say that I like Batuman's work. I read her articles in n+1, The New Yorker, and LRB and I've even read a few chapters of her book The Possessed, but I have no idea where the fuck this leadin came from. Honestly, if someone was going to answer a leadin on Batuman's criticism in this field it would probably be me, but aside from that it just strikes as indulgent question writing. If a writer must include criticism clues in the leadin of short NAQT tossups I think they should be confined to very little space in the actual question and should be limited to critical pieces that are truly important. Don't just use any piece of criticism but make sure it's somehow notable. For example, if I were writing about Housman I wouldn't just quote any critics assessment of his work (even if it were a review by a famous critic like Eliot or Leavis), but would quote the famous Edmund Wilson article. And if there isn't a really notable piece of criticism about the subject--then don't use a critical leadin! Frankly, I think these criticism leadins are better suited for longer ACF question because if nobody buzzes on the clue it's no big deal because there will still be plenty of lines to fairly determine what player knows the most about it. In longer question formats I'm more interested to learn about these literary tidbits because I know it won't come at the cost of the question's legitimacy.
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Re: 2011 ICT Question-specific discussion

Post by gaurav.kandlikar » Tue Apr 12, 2011 1:04 pm

I don't have the set with me so I might be completely wrong in saying this, but while playing, there seemed to be a dearth in biology questions (particularly tossups) in the DII set. A lot of the biology that did come up seemed a bit difficult, too (tossups on beta oxidation of fatty acids and homeobox genes come to mind).
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Re: 2011 ICT Question-specific discussion

Post by setht » Tue Apr 12, 2011 1:07 pm

Tees-Exe Line wrote:I have one more question critique: the bonus that went Liverpool/"Tonypandy Riot"/Churchill was a sub-optimal treatment of pre-war British labor history. First of all, I'd never heard of the "Tonypandy Riot" and tried to answer with the Rhondda Valley Coal Strikes, which were more-or-less named in the question as I remember. Some wikipedia tells me that the Tonypandy Riot was a constituent of that highly consequential event. My knowledge of the period stems from Dangerfield's "The Strange Death of Liberal England," and though I don't have the book at hand, a google books search seems to indicate that the Tonypandy Riot is named once, whereas a large chunk of the book is devoted to labor strife of the period, including in South Wales. I would thus say that asking for "Tonypandy Riot" is a case of classic quizbowl false specificity. The events in the town of Tonypandy should not really be worth studying in themselves.

Second, I think the first part asked for Liverpool by saying there was a big transport strike in this largest port on the west coast of England. There were many strikes in British ports at the time (the fact that they were sympathy strikes is part of why this is historically important), so given that, the first part is a geography question, not a history question.
For reference, here's the question:
Packet 10 wrote:For 10 points each--answer the following about strikes in pre-{World War I} Britain:

A. A 1911 general transport strike halted commerce in this largest port on England's west coast.

answer: _Liverpool_

B. These 1910 to 1911 riots in a Welsh coal mining town in the Rhondda [rahn-THAH] Valley became famous after the British army was sent to put down the strike.

answer: _Tonypandy_ Riots (prompt on "Rhondda Riots")

C. This Home Secretary and future Prime Minister sent the British army to restore order in Tonypandy, a decision that made him hated throughout southern Wales for the rest of his political life.

answer: Winston (Leonard Spencer) _Churchill_
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Re: 2011 ICT Question-specific discussion

Post by setht » Tue Apr 12, 2011 1:15 pm

Magister Ludi wrote:I disliked when a significant portion of a question was devoted to obscure criticism clues at the cost of real clues describing the author's work. I don't have the set in front of me but the question that really stuck out was the Isaac Babel tossup. The leadin seemed like a two line description of an anecdote from Elif Batuman about Babel and then it just starting listing story titles when I lost a buzzer race on "My First Goose." Basically the tossup was a list of Babel stories with no description. Wouldn't want to take away a single nuance of Batuman's anecdote to actually describe the stories!

Now let me say that I like Batuman's work. I read her articles in n+1, The New Yorker, and LRB and I've even read a few chapters of her book The Possessed, but I have no idea where the fuck this leadin came from. Honestly, if someone was going to answer a leadin on Batuman's criticism in this field it would probably be me, but aside from that it just strikes as indulgent question writing. If a writer must include criticism clues in the leadin of short NAQT tossups I think they should be confined to very little space in the actual question and should be limited to critical pieces that are truly important. Don't just use any piece of criticism but make sure it's somehow notable. For example, if I were writing about Housman I wouldn't just quote any critics assessment of his work (even if it were a review by a famous critic like Eliot or Leavis), but would quote the famous Edmund Wilson article. And if there isn't a really notable piece of criticism about the subject--then don't use a critical leadin! Frankly, I think these criticism leadins are better suited for longer ACF question because if nobody buzzes on the clue it's no big deal because there will still be plenty of lines to fairly determine what player knows the most about it. In longer question formats I'm more interested to learn about these literary tidbits because I know it won't come at the cost of the question's legitimacy.
Here's the Babel tossup:
Packet 9 wrote:An Elif Batuman essay about this author "in California" discusses a conference attended by Peter Constantine, who translated this man's works into English. This author wrote about the death of the bees of Volhynia in "The Road to Brody," which appears with "Pan Apolek" and "My First (*) Goose" in one of his collections. Another of his collections features the ghetto Moldavanka. For 10 points--name this Russian author of ~Red Cavalry~ who wrote of Benya Krik in his ~Odessa Tales~.

answer: Isaac _Babel_
I took it on trust that the first sentence's clues (e.g. Peter Constantine) are important and helpful. If this is not the case then that is on me.

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Re: 2011 ICT Question-specific discussion

Post by Birdofredum Sawin » Tue Apr 12, 2011 1:30 pm

Hey, I wrote that Babel tossup! Perhaps Seth's quoting of it is sufficient commentary on Ted's, um, impassioned response. Anyway, "Babel in California" is the first (and probably the best) essay in "The Possessed"; the Batuman thing is a one-sentence lead-in which is partly there to serve up the clue about "Peter Constantine" (whose translation of the complete Babel in the past decade was widely discussed); and there are at least two buzzpoints between that and "My First Goose."
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Re: 2011 ICT Question-specific discussion

Post by Cheynem » Tue Apr 12, 2011 2:16 pm

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Re: 2011 ICT Question-specific discussion

Post by The King's Flight to the Scots » Tue Apr 12, 2011 2:40 pm

setht wrote:
Tees-Exe Line wrote:I have one more question critique: the bonus that went Liverpool/"Tonypandy Riot"/Churchill was a sub-optimal treatment of pre-war British labor history. First of all, I'd never heard of the "Tonypandy Riot" and tried to answer with the Rhondda Valley Coal Strikes, which were more-or-less named in the question as I remember. Some wikipedia tells me that the Tonypandy Riot was a constituent of that highly consequential event. My knowledge of the period stems from Dangerfield's "The Strange Death of Liberal England," and though I don't have the book at hand, a google books search seems to indicate that the Tonypandy Riot is named once, whereas a large chunk of the book is devoted to labor strife of the period, including in South Wales. I would thus say that asking for "Tonypandy Riot" is a case of classic quizbowl false specificity. The events in the town of Tonypandy should not really be worth studying in themselves.

Second, I think the first part asked for Liverpool by saying there was a big transport strike in this largest port on the west coast of England. There were many strikes in British ports at the time (the fact that they were sympathy strikes is part of why this is historically important), so given that, the first part is a geography question, not a history question.
For reference, here's the question:
Packet 10 wrote:For 10 points each--answer the following about strikes in pre-{World War I} Britain:

A. A 1911 general transport strike halted commerce in this largest port on England's west coast.

answer: _Liverpool_

B. These 1910 to 1911 riots in a Welsh coal mining town in the Rhondda [rahn-THAH] Valley became famous after the British army was sent to put down the strike.

answer: _Tonypandy_ Riots (prompt on "Rhondda Riots")

C. This Home Secretary and future Prime Minister sent the British army to restore order in Tonypandy, a decision that made him hated throughout southern Wales for the rest of his political life.

answer: Winston (Leonard Spencer) _Churchill_
-Seth
I answered the middle part correctly because I'd read a biography of Churchill, which only referred to it as the Tonypandy Riot. I don't really see a problem with this question.
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Re: 2011 ICT Question-specific discussion

Post by Not That Kind of Christian!! » Tue Apr 12, 2011 4:59 pm

gaurav.kandlikar wrote:I don't have the set with me so I might be completely wrong in saying this, but while playing, there seemed to be a dearth in biology questions (particularly tossups) in the DII set. A lot of the biology that did come up seemed a bit difficult, too (tossups on beta oxidation of fatty acids and homeobox genes come to mind).
I wrote those two for DI and am kind of shocked that they were put in DII.

And I also noticed that the bio seemed to be consistently late in the packets, but I thought at the time that it was just paranoia.
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Re: 2011 ICT Question-specific discussion

Post by Magister Ludi » Tue Apr 12, 2011 5:33 pm

setht wrote: Here's the Babel tossup:
Packet 9 wrote:An Elif Batuman essay about this author "in California" discusses a conference attended by Peter Constantine, who translated this man's works into English. This author wrote about the death of the bees of Volhynia in "The Road to Brody," which appears with "Pan Apolek" and "My First (*) Goose" in one of his collections. Another of his collections features the ghetto Moldavanka. For 10 points--name this Russian author of ~Red Cavalry~ who wrote of Benya Krik in his ~Odessa Tales~.

answer: Isaac _Babel_
This tossup exemplifies the problems with many of the author tossups in the ICT. First of all, there are only four lines so there is very little space to waste to begin with to accurately determine who knows more about Isaac Babel. Of those four lines, one-and-a-half are devoted to criticism clues which I'm willing to bet no one in the field answered the tossup from. Then it devotes the rest of the second line to describing the secondary story "The Road to Brody" and then it just lists the titles of "Pan Apolek" and "My First Goose" without any description. Rather than devoting space in the tossup to describing "My First Goose" (the story that people in quizbowl are most likely to know) it just lists the title and unsurprisingly the tossup became a buzzer race on that title. Similarly the question only had space for two clues about the Odessa Tales. It's not that I question the importance of the critical clues, but they come at the cost of the tossup's legitimacy in shortened formats like NAQT. I think it's a consistent problem that people need to devote more space in tossups to the middle clues because those are the clues people are most likely to buzz on. Especially for players like me who may not immediately recognize a single character name or title if it's just mentioned without context, this style of writing author tossups consistently penalizes us. I ended up missing this Babel tossup even though I've read both "Pan Apolek" and "My First Goose" (though not all of Red Cavalry) because there was no description given and it took me a second to register the titles.

Basically the Babel tossup reduces to this:
He wrote about bees dying in "The Road of Brody" and he wrote the stories "Pan Apolek" and "My First Goose." He wrote about the ghetto Moldavanka and Benya Krik. Name this Russian author of Red Cavalry and The Odessa Tales.

Do I even need to explain why this tossup does a poor job of distinguishing who knows the most about Babel?

I think that the author tossups in this set suffered from this problem consistently. After I get a chance to look through the whole set I'll post a more thorough critique, but there was an alarmingly high percentage of author questions that were buzzer races in this set that was around 70% in the games we played. I don't want to criticize this tournament too much, but point out author tossups as the area in the humanities that has the greatest room for improvement.
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Re: 2011 ICT Question-specific discussion

Post by InspectorHound » Tue Apr 12, 2011 5:55 pm

The DII question on David Foster Wallace also seemed to be poorly written in this way. The first clue was about DT Max and his biography which hasn't even been released yet and then the very next clue title-dropped The Pale King, which had been getting a huge amount of press in the days leading up to the tournament, resulting in a massive buzzer race. Actual knowledge about Wallace's works wasn't distinguished at all.
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Re: 2011 ICT Question-specific discussion

Post by Birdofredum Sawin » Tue Apr 12, 2011 6:15 pm

Magister Ludi wrote:
This tossup exemplifies the problems with many of the author tossups in the ICT. First of all, there are only four lines so there is very little space to waste to begin with to accurately determine who knows more about Isaac Babel. Of those four lines, one-and-a-half are devoted to criticism clues which I'm willing to bet no one in the field answered the tossup from. Then it devotes the rest of the second line to describing the secondary story "The Road to Brody" and then it just lists the titles of "Pan Apolek" and "My First Goose" without any description. Rather than devoting space in the tossup to describing "My First Goose" (the story that people in quizbowl are most likely to know) it just lists the title and unsurprisingly the tossup became a buzzer race on that title. Similarly the question only had space for two clues about the Odessa Tales. It's not that I question the importance of the critical clues, but they come at the cost of the tossup's legitimacy in shortened formats like NAQT. I think it's a consistent problem that people need to devote more space in tossups to the middle clues because those are the clues people are most likely to buzz on. Especially for players like me who may not immediately recognize a single character name or title if it's just mentioned without context, this style of writing author tossups consistently penalizes us. I ended up missing this Babel tossup even though I've read both "Pan Apolek" and "My First Goose" (though not all of Red Cavalry) because there was no description given and it took me a second to register the titles.

Basically the Babel tossup reduces to this:
He wrote about bees dying in "The Road of Brody" and he wrote the stories "Pan Apolek" and "My First Goose." He wrote about the ghetto Moldavanka and Benya Krik. Name this Russian author of Red Cavalry and The Odessa Tales.

Do I even need to explain why this tossup does a poor job of distinguishing who knows the most about Babel?

I think that the author tossups in this set suffered from this problem consistently. After I get a chance to look through the whole set I'll post a more thorough critique, but there was an alarmingly high percentage of author questions that were buzzer races in this set that was around 70% in the games we played. I don't want to criticize this tournament too much, but point out author tossups as the area in the humanities that has the greatest room for improvement.
So, I actually find this critique spurious. You seem to be saying "I've read some stories by Babel; therefore, a 'legitimate' tossup on Babel should only use lesser-known details from stories by Babel as its leadin." But I don't see how that's any more authoritative than the equivalent contention I could offer: namely, "I've also read some stories by Babel; in addition, I've read some critical discourse about Babel, including Batuman's book and reviews of Constantine's work; therefore, I think a 'legitimate' tossup on Babel can use the latter type of clues as its leadin."

Also, removing the tossup's concededly "important" opening clues and saying the tossup "reduces" to something that is prima facie "poor" strikes me as ... unpersuasive. After all, the same "critique" can easily be performed on any tossup, including ones from ACF tournaments. First, you remove the early clues that you stipulate that "no one in the field" will "answer the tossup from"; second, you strip the tossup down to a bare recitation of buzzpoints; third, you triumphantly conclude that the tossup obviously does a "poor job." (Which isn't to say that this Babel tossup is excellent, but rather that Ted hasn't done anything to demonstrate that it's as subpar as his strident assertions would suggest.)
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Re: 2011 ICT Question-specific discussion

Post by grapesmoker » Tue Apr 12, 2011 6:55 pm

Birdofredum Sawin wrote:So, I actually find this critique spurious. You seem to be saying "I've read some stories by Babel; therefore, a 'legitimate' tossup on Babel should only use lesser-known details from stories by Babel as its leadin." But I don't see how that's any more authoritative than the equivalent contention I could offer: namely, "I've also read some stories by Babel; in addition, I've read some critical discourse about Babel, including Batuman's book and reviews of Constantine's work; therefore, I think a 'legitimate' tossup on Babel can use the latter type of clues as its leadin."
I'm not going to try and speak for Ted, but I don't think the problem here is the critical clues, which are fine and presumably important. It's just that the space limitation means that you're not going to have much space to describe anything; all you can really do is give titles. My ideal Babel tossup would probably have something like a description of one of the Benya Krik stories, followed by a description of "My First Goose," then titles, but that would obviously not fit into the NAQT character limit. As long as that character limit remains in place, I'm not sure there is any other way to write these questions.
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Re: 2011 ICT Question-specific discussion

Post by Magister Ludi » Tue Apr 12, 2011 7:22 pm

Birdofredum Sawin wrote: So, I actually find this critique spurious. You seem to be saying "I've read some stories by Babel; therefore, a 'legitimate' tossup on Babel should only use lesser-known details from stories by Babel as its leadin." But I don't see how that's any more authoritative than the equivalent contention I could offer: namely, "I've also read some stories by Babel; in addition, I've read some critical discourse about Babel, including Batuman's book and reviews of Constantine's work; therefore, I think a 'legitimate' tossup on Babel can use the latter type of clues as its leadin."
And this is why you should beat me to a well-constructed tossup on Babel. I'm not saying that I'm an expert on Babel or that I should automatically be familiar with the leadin to any tossup on him. Rather I'm saying that the player who has read some of Babel's most important stories should answer the tossup before someone who has never read any Babel and only knows the titles. Maybe Selene has read deeply in Babel and knows more about him than I do, but we'll never know who knows more about Babel because the tossup didn't do an adequate job of making this distinction and it was a buzzer race on the title "My First Goose." I know this is the way the tossup played out in at least one other room and I'd be surprised if any rooms buzzed off the critical clues. There is no way to know exactly whether anyone buzzed on these critical clues, but I'm certain if one of the top teams had buzzed on them someone from their team would post in this thread to notify us of the fact.

The role of a tossup is to fairly differentiate which player knows the most about a given subject and this tossup and many author tossups at the ICT failed in this regard. Much of my frustration over NAQT literature comes from the fact that some of their writers seem to ignore this most basic rule of question writing. In my opinion, the question of classifying a tossup's leadin as "important" or not is a moot point in this discussion. The criticism clues obviously meet the standard of importance. The real issue is deciding how the limited space of NAQT's author tossup should be used to make it the best possible tossup. At mACF tournaments I don't mind early criticism clues because I know there will be an adequate number of middle clues later in the question, but the opportunity cost of these leadin clues at NAQT are middle clues.
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Re: 2011 ICT Question-specific discussion

Post by Birdofredum Sawin » Tue Apr 12, 2011 7:47 pm

Magister Ludi wrote:
The role of a tossup is to fairly differentiate which player knows the most about a given subject and this tossup and many author tossups at the ICT failed in this regard.
Strictly speaking, this isn't quite accurate. There is a huge aggregate pile of "knowledge about any given subject" in the world. Take Babel: we have the titles of his books; the titles of (all of) his stories; major and not-so-major plot details, character names, etc. from all of his stories; facts about the critical reception of his work (Batuman essays, Lionel Trilling opinions, etc.); even biographical information. Nobody in the world knows all of this information. All we can say is that a number of people who play quizbowl know a more or less narrow subset of this information.

The role of a tossup, I would have thought, is to attempt to differentiate between players who know "a whole lot," players who know "a middling amount," and players who know "next to nothing" about a given subject. Tossups do this by having obscure leadins, middle clues, and giveaways, each of which is presumably aimed at each of these three (crudely delineated) groups of players. But any given tossup can only be a rough attempt to differentiate between these groups, for a number of reasons. For one thing, the writer is often guessing about what the people who know "a whole lot" or "a middling amount" about any subject actually know. (E.g. "Is Elif Batuman so minor a figure that nobody will be able to buzz on even one of her most famous essays? Or is she famous enough that a few people will actually know this clue?" In advance, the question writer probably doesn't know for a fact which, if either, of those is the case; he can only make an educated guess.) For another thing, people can know a fair amount about a given subject without happening to know the handful of particular things which a question writer has selected for his non-giveaway clues. (E.g. if you've read 15 Babel stories and I've only read one, but the one I happened to read was "The Road to Brody" and that's the one that figures in the tossup's leadin, then I'm going to beat you to the tossup, even though you "know the most" about this subject.)

The general point I'm trying to make is that tossup writing relies heavily on guesswork, and that no tossup--not even the most robust of ACF behemoths--can touch on more than a tiny fraction of the possible things one might know about a given subject. Recognizing the truth of this point doesn't require you to say "ok, I guess that Babel tossup is fantastic." But it does, I think, suggest that there is no infallible method for producing unequivocally "legitimate" tossups which invariably "differentiate which player knows the most about a given subject." And inasmuch as there is no such infallible method, it may also suggest that NAQT, in producing the kinds of tossups it produces, isn't inexcusably refusing to adhere to that method. Instead, it's making the kind of preference choice for pacing over depth that has been canvassed at length in these forums in the past. (Where what I mean by "preference choice" is something like the following: "this tossup will only mention 0.1% of the possible quizbowl Babel clues, rather than the 0.5% of possible Babel clues an ACF nationals tossup might include; on the other hand, the games will move faster.")
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Re: 2011 ICT Question-specific discussion

Post by Ken Jennings » Tue Apr 12, 2011 7:53 pm

Magister Ludi wrote:(As an aside, people should stop writing questions on Harold Bloom because he is a mediocre critic who has managed his career so that he happens to be famous. He is kind of like the Ken Jennings of literary criticism, but thats an issue for another thread)
I eagerly await that thread.
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Re: 2011 ICT Question-specific discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Tue Apr 12, 2011 7:57 pm

Ken Jennings wrote:I eagerly await that thread.
Well, you've quite candidly admitted before that you never were nor will be the alpha and omega of competitive quizbowl, but you're the most famous (to the public) quizbowler. I think that's approximately the point Ted was making, anyway.
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Re: 2011 ICT Question-specific discussion

Post by Kyle » Tue Apr 12, 2011 8:10 pm

Hey, I just wanted to say in defense of a question I wrote (a) that the Liverpool Transport Strike of 1911, while not the only transport strike of that era, was a seriously important event in British labor history and (b) that the Tonypandy Riots come up by name a lot in the context of Churchill, if not in the context of labor history. There was, one time in practice, an American tossup on Churchill that used Tonypandy as the lead-in. You should have seen the buzzer race!
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Re: 2011 ICT Question-specific discussion

Post by Magister Ludi » Tue Apr 12, 2011 8:40 pm

Ken Jennings wrote:
Magister Ludi wrote:(As an aside, people should stop writing questions on Harold Bloom because he is a mediocre critic who has managed his career so that he happens to be famous. He is kind of like the Ken Jennings of literary criticism, but thats an issue for another thread)
I eagerly await that thread.
Yeah, I'm sorry for that snarky jab. The important point is the mediocrity of most of Bloom's books.
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Re: 2011 ICT Question-specific discussion

Post by Magister Ludi » Tue Apr 12, 2011 9:38 pm

Birdofredum Sawin wrote:
Magister Ludi wrote: The role of a tossup is to fairly differentiate which player knows the most about a given subject and this tossup and many author tossups at the ICT failed in this regard.
Strictly speaking, this isn't quite accurate. There is a huge aggregate pile of "knowledge about any given subject" in the world. Take Babel: we have the titles of his books; the titles of (all of) his stories; major and not-so-major plot details, character names, etc. from all of his stories; facts about the critical reception of his work (Batuman essays, Lionel Trilling opinions, etc.); even biographical information. Nobody in the world knows all of this information. All we can say is that a number of people who play quizbowl know a more or less narrow subset of this information.
You're attempting to generalize my specific critique of the exact problems with the author questions in this set into an abstract philosophy, which you can then immediately discard under the guise of NAQT having a different "preference choice." I don't particularly care if you chose to ignore my valid criticisms because I have no stake in NAQT, but if NAQT actually wants to improve the quality of their questions I think there is value in listening to feedback that is largely based on the general sentiment among top college players about NAQT's literature questions.

I assumed that I wouldn't need to articulate every nuance of quizbowl writing when dealing with such experienced editors. Obviously questions can't reward every type of knowledge about a writer and the quizbowl community has come to a consensus that we want to reward primary knowledge of an author's oeuvre and occasionally criticism over biographical information. I'm surprised I even have to type this out.
Birdofredum Sawin wrote: The role of a tossup, I would have thought, is to attempt to differentiate between players who know "a whole lot," players who know "a middling amount," and players who know "next to nothing" about a given subject.
The point is to make this differentiation as accurately as possible. Rather than saying you are content to say both these players know a "middling amount" about a subject so it's entirely fine which player answers the tossup because they both fall into the nebulous group of having "middling amount" of knowledge, I would hope that a writer wants to write questions that differentiate between levels of knowledge as accurately as possible. Buzzer races happen even in the best questions, but when they occur at such high frequencies in the games between top teams that NAQT ostensibly wants to determine the best team in the nation, it is problematic.

My point is that by giving information about "The Road to Brody" the question devotes what little space it has to making a distinction between who knows information about "The Road to Brody" and who just knows the title. I don't think this distinction affected many teams (and the criticism leadin probably made no distinctions between levels of knowledge). The question also decided that it wasn't worthwhile to differentiate between who knows things about "My First Goose" and who just knows the title. I think this would be a more meaningful distinction to make and also a distinction that would affect many more teams. Hopefully, we can agree that someone who has read "My First Goose" should answer a tossup before someone who only knows its title. In fact, if I were writing the question I wouldn't just say: "He wrote about Commander Savitsky in 'My First Goose'" or the line in the Troloppe question that read something like "He wrote about Septimus Harding in The Warden". I would give a couple clues about each so it wasn't simply a character or place name.

Honestly, I'm surprised that even have to spell this line of reasoning out. I'm going to wait until I get a chance to peruse the rest of the set to comment further about these questions, but I want to say that you are right to say there is a certain amount of guesswork that always happens when choosing leadins--and that is why middle are so important. Even if a good writer picks bad leadin clues, they can always know the appropriate middle clues. It's obvious that a higher percentage of quizbowl players will know about "My First Goose" rather than "The Road to Brody" or Peter Constantine's translations. Accordingly, a good question should spend more space describing the middle clues that people will know about, so a question can make finer gradations between levels of middling knowledge.
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