Reverse Clue Lookup: A Plea

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Sima Guang Hater
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Reverse Clue Lookup: A Plea

Post by Sima Guang Hater »

Hello Quizbowl. Recently, I've noticed that there have been several instances of clues either not being uniquely identifying in isolation, or being vague enough to refer to multiple things. Let me offer a solution to this longtime problem: Reverse Clue Lookup.

You know how usually the way you pick clues is to take your answer, search for it, and pick out the facts that are interesting? Reverse clue lookup is essentially doing this backwards, i.e. searching for your clue and seeing what answers would fit it. For example, if you were writing a tossup on Coulomb's law, saying that it follows an inverse-square pattern isn't uniquely identifying, and a simple search would show that to you. As another example, if I were writing a tossup on Josef Pilsudski, I could say that he came to power under the terms of the Small Constitution - however, looking up "Small Constitution" on google reveals that there have been several Small Constitutions in history, so it would be somewhat unfair using that clue in isolation.

Now, let me offer some ways in which Reverse Clue Lookup can be accomplished:

1. Googling. Usually this is enough, especially if the clue is about a Named Thing. This is somewhat more difficult if your clue is a description.

2. Packet archive searching. This may capture more instances than simple googling, because your clue will be written in quizbowl language and so will any instances of it in the packet archive.

3. Playtesting. This is by far the best method; there are many retired/ineligible quizbowlers who can listen to your questions and catch these kinds of errors. Bruce Arthur and Matt Weiner, for instance, should easily be able to catch the Small Constitution error that I wrote about above.

Hope this helps.
Eric Mukherjee, MD PhD
Brown University, 2009
Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, 2018
Medicine Intern, Yale-Waterbury, 2018-9
Dermatology Resident, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, 2019-