MAGNI General Thoughts

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Re: General Thoughts

Post by Auroni »

Excelsior (smack) wrote:Some thoughts. I see that the discussion about packet randomization has happened already; I would like to note that I prefer packets that aren't truly randomized. This is just a matter of maximizing my enjoyment in the game - in most packets, I have the ability to answer at most four questions (science). If all four of those questions happen to appear in the first half or something, I become somewhat bored for the rest of the packet. I'm not sure I see any real benefit to true-randomizing packets, rather than making a reasonable effort to space out similar questions (besides time saved, I guess, but pseudo-randomizing programs exist, right?).
Most players can answer more questions than the subjects that they claim are the only things that they'll get. It's unfortunate that you're bored by most quizbowl questions, but I suspect that that's largely not true of the wide majority of the quizbowl-playing audience. Randomization and putting questions into packets takes an assload of time, and this is just time on top of that to satisfy what I feel like are only a small number of players. That's a tradeoff I'd be willing to make all the time, regardless of how on-schedule and early the set is.
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Re: General Thoughts

Post by Excelsior (smack) »

I'm curious how you go about randomizing your questions. The most expedient way I'm aware of (assuming you're not using a question management system) is the packet randomizer created by Mike Bentley, which already includes the necessary options for spacing out questions of the same category. If you have a faster way of randomizing questions, I would be interested to know about it for future reference.
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Re: General Thoughts

Post by Auroni »

What we did for this tournament was to paste the name of each subject (American History, World Literature, Other Science, Social Science, etc) into the list randomizer in random.org and then just hit randomize. Sometimes we had to tweak the results (making sure that there was 4 each in the first 20, for example, and separating visual and auditory other arts. We then used our heuristics for questions difficulty in our individual subjects to figure out a way to put the questions in packets that didn't result in an aggregation of hard questions in a category. John even took the time to balance lit out by poetry, drama, novels, and short stories.
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Re: General Thoughts

Post by vcuEvan »

This was a solid tournament, and there were some good things about it that haven't really been praised. Both the tossup line limits and the 1/1 trash per round are standards that I would like to see implemented by most, if not all, regular tournaments. Also, the tossup difficulty seemed about right. I noticed an inclusion of a bunch of truly easy answers and a few borderline too hard answers, which is exactly as it should be.

Difficulty variation across bonuses seemed particularly jarring at this tournament, but I think this may have been because the plethora of easily 30able bonuses made the ridiculous ones stick out so much.
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Re: General Thoughts

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed »

Speaking as somebody who moderated the tournament, it seemed like many of the bonuses could have been "tighter". They seemed to ramble on, especially in the prompt, and give many more clues than were necessary for conversion.

Also, my two cents about questions about historians: there is a distinction to me between asking questions about primary sources (e.g., Thucydides, Anna Comnena, the Spring and Autumn Annals, etc.) and asking about things like that Annales school bonus. The former are very important: they form the basis of how we know things. The second seem of questionable relevance to people who are actually interested in history rather than history of thought or one of those fields.
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Re: General Thoughts

Post by Susan »

Skepticism and Animal Feed wrote:Speaking as somebody who moderated the tournament, it seemed like many of the bonuses could have been "tighter". They seemed to ramble on, especially in the prompt, and give many more clues than were necessary for conversion.

Also, my two cents about questions about historians: there is a distinction to me between asking questions about primary sources (e.g., Thucydides, Anna Comnena, the Spring and Autumn Annals, etc.) and asking about things like that Annales school bonus. The former are very important: they form the basis of how we know things. The second seem of questionable relevance to people who are actually interested in history rather than history of thought or one of those fields.
I'd argue that topics like the Annales school (which basically introduced the concept of history as a scientific or social-scientific study of the past) are extremely relevant to anyone who has more than a superficial interest in history. The Annales school is something that it's reasonable to expect history majors to learn about at some point in undergrad; if they do a major research project, they may even use techniques pioneered by that school. I think it's completely legit to have a small number of questions that are on, or that reference, historiography, particularly the most important schools or figures, just as a very small smattering of criticism is okay in the literature distribution.
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Re: General Thoughts

Post by marnold »

This was a very good tournament that I really enjoyed playing. Everything systematic I wanted to mention has come up already: the jarring question-order issues were odd; the bonuses seemed too long (I may just be expressing my more general dislike of McKenzie-style easy parts); a few true examples of figure-it-out bowl (trying to guess the right word in IR questions, that Shakespeare tossup where I buzzed purely off hearing early clues telling me "marginalized weirdos think he's not real" etc.). But overall this seems like a very good example of I'd like to get when I play a regular-difficulty tournament.
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Re: General Thoughts

Post by Cheynem »

Can you explain the 1/1 trash preference a bit more, Evan?

Regarding the Annales school, I do not use the Annales methods but I definitely studied it as a historian. It is extremely important, although I admittedly did not learn about it until higher level/graduate history classes which means it is probably a harder type question for regular difficulty, which is how I think it usually is treated at tournaments.
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Re: General Thoughts

Post by evilmonkey »

I enjoyed this tournament. A lot.

I felt that most questions had clues started out at a point somewhere much more difficult than my level, but by the end were, by and large, gettable.

I whole-heartedly enjoyed the social science distribution, and in particular appreciated what was done with the political science/IR. A bonus on things that people who study comparative legislatures would care about that was neither trivial nor overly difficult? I quietly raged as that one was answered by the opposing team. I even appreciated the linguistics, the one SS area that I really have trouble engaging with and therefore despise. (And I'm glad to see, reading back through other posts, that this is not way offbase).

That said, I do have a few complaints.

1. Bonuses. Namely, consistency. There were some bonuses that felt like A) easy part what country are you currently in? B) middle part Something that wouldn't be unreasonable as an easy part at Fall. Then, there were other bonuses where the easy part was an author or physics theorem that I hadn't heard of. These types of bonuses formed the fringes of bonuses; however, I'm still not entirely sure what y'all were shooting for there.

2. As others have said, there were definitely things I buzzed on (or should have) without any real knowledge. Shakespeare comes to mind, though on that one I froze because I didn't think it could be that obvious.

3. Minor nit: I felt that whoever was doing the science tended more toward CS than math. I know the latter, and not the former. This may, in fact, have been due to an unfortunate sample of 10 packets from however many y'all wrote.
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Re: General Thoughts

Post by Adventure Temple Trail »

evilmonkey wrote:3. Minor nit: I felt that whoever was doing the science tended more toward CS than math. I know the latter, and not the former. This may, in fact, have been due to an unfortunate sample of 10 packets from however many y'all wrote.
You've been in the South for what, two months now and already the "y'all" has crept in, eh? Oy.

I can see where you're coming from on the first two points, but the third is empirically incorrect. There was more math than computer science in this tournament.

Math by packet (7/5 total):
Integration (packet 3), manifold (packet 4), rational numbers (packet 6), continuity (packet 7), spherical coordinates (10), curl (12), catenary (14).
ODE/Laplace transform/convolution (packet 8), set theory/continuum hypothesis/Banach-Tarski (packet 9), diagonalization/determinant/Cayley-Hamilton (packet 11), cantor set/fractal/mandelbrot (packet 12), galois/permutation/quintic (packet 14).

Computer science by packet (1/3 total): Search (packet 1), functional programming languages/side effects/closure (packet 5), TCP/UDP/congestion (packet 6), perceptron/neural network/XOR (kind of...packet 13)
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Re: General Thoughts

Post by evilmonkey »

RyuAqua wrote:
evilmonkey wrote:3. Minor nit: I felt that whoever was doing the science tended more toward CS than math. I know the latter, and not the former. This may, in fact, have been due to an unfortunate sample of 10 packets from however many y'all wrote.
You've been in the South for what, two months now and already the "y'all" has crept in, eh? Oy.
I was born in the South. The y'all just went into remission sometime during my 14 years up north.
I can see where you're coming from on the first two points, but the third is empirically incorrect. There was more math than computer science in this tournament.
I kind of figured I just had a distorted memory, since CS tends to stick out to me (because I can't get it, and it additionally means that there isn't a math question).
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Re: General Thoughts

Post by grapesmoker »

evilmonkey wrote:physics theorem that I hadn't heard of.
Could you point to a particular example? I thought I was pretty scrupulous about keeping the physics well within the bounds of what was covered in classes.
Minor nit: I felt that whoever was doing the science tended more toward CS than math. I know the latter, and not the former. This may, in fact, have been due to an unfortunate sample of 10 packets from however many y'all wrote.
That may indeed be the sample effect since I can tell you that there was definitely more math than CS.
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Re: General Thoughts

Post by touchpack »

Blanford's Fringe-fingered Lizard wrote:
Plan Rubber wrote:but I felt like there were a lot of questions, especially bonuses, on gas laws/thermodynamics/statistical mechanics, especially in the first five packets or so, which was slightly annoying.
I'm counting a tossup on Van der Waals, a bonus on phonons/heat capacity/harmonic, and a tossup on latent heat in the first 5 rounds. That's only 1 bonus which is only partially stat mech.
In the same vein, the chem felt very orgo-named-reaction heavy. There weren't very many questions that asked for specific reactions, but there were lots of functional group tossups that went through the general Simmons-Smith-Mitsunobu-whoever rigamarole.
Out of 14 non-tiebreaker chem questions, there was 1 tossup on a functional group (esters), 4 more on groups of substances (hydrides, polymers, fullerenes, radicals), 1 on a reaction paradigm (elimination, which I actually made sure to not be a list of named eliminations all the way to FTP), 1 on an element (copper, both from its role in organic and inorganic chem), 1 on a specific substance (acetone, both orgo and biochem clues). The rest were a mixture of inorganic chem and biochem (van der Waals eq, catalysis, latent heat, Raoult's law, mass spec, colloids). Other than putting in clues about named reactions that people have learned in class and that are in books that I found on these subjects, there wasn't really a preponderance of fake named stuff in the tournament. I thought that the chem was pretty diverse.

EDIT: I only count 3 bonuses with named stuff used as clues (silver/hinsberg/oxidation, pyridine/amines/niacin, carbenes/alkynes/toluene), with only 1 asking you to actually name a named reaction. (silver/hinsberg/oxidation)
I very much enjoyed this chem distribution. I think that eponymous reactions are very overasked in quiz bowl--no orgo class is going to teach you the X modification of Y reaction, but they might teach you what Y reaction is and what its mechanism is. I appreciated the way this tournament used named reactions in its questions and I hope that future tournament writers will follow this approach to writing chemistry questions--this tournament was way more fun than "how much of the wikipedia article to this named reaction have you memorized" bowl.
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Re: General Thoughts

Post by MathMusic »

All in all, I thought the set was very well balanced and accessable for all teams. Great job guys.

I also thought that the Classical Music (one of my main subjects) was especially well done. Questions like "Name that instrument in all these pieces" aren't seen as much as "Name that obscure 20th century compser," while I find the former to be more enjoyable.

Also, the set was very well written so that most clues would not go dead, in most games there was a max. of 2 dead tossups, and many of the games I played had 0 dead tossups. Dead questions aren't that fun, and it's nice to see that there are still ways to make easier answer lines appear in a new way.
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Re: General Thoughts

Post by evilmonkey »

grapesmoker wrote:
evilmonkey wrote:physics theorem that I hadn't heard of.
Could you point to a particular example? I thought I was pretty scrupulous about keeping the physics well within the bounds of what was covered in classes.
I'm sorry for taking so long to get back to you on this, busy with schoolwork and whatnot, and I wanted to look through the packets to ascertain whether my assertion had any validity. In any event, after looking through a few of the packets, you are correct - the physics bonuses were not at all problematic. Most often when my team 0'd the physics bonuses, the easy part was simply something we didn't know that was definitely totally appropriate.
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