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Re: Question-specific discussion

Posted: Wed Nov 14, 2012 1:31 am
by Masked Canadian History Bandit
In the Jan III Sobieski tossup in Round 6, the Emperor should be Leopold I, not Leopold II.

Re: Question-specific discussion

Posted: Wed Nov 14, 2012 1:38 am
by Ringil
Masked Canadian History Bandit wrote:In the Jan III Sobieski tossup in Round 6, the Emperor should be Leopold I, not Leopold II.
You're correct. I've fixed this. Not sure how I missed this the first time :(

Re: Question-specific discussion

Posted: Wed Nov 14, 2012 1:39 am
by Sima Guang Hater
Masked Canadian History Bandit wrote:In the Jan III Sobieski tossup in Round 6, the Emperor should be Leopold I, not Leopold II.
I really hope this isn't what was stopping you from buzzing.

Re: Question-specific discussion

Posted: Wed Nov 14, 2012 5:15 pm
by ... and the chaos of Mexican modernity
Can someone post the 1001 Nights bonus? (I forget which round it was in)

Re: Question-specific discussion

Posted: Wed Nov 14, 2012 7:18 pm
by Ringil
... and the chaos of Mexican modernity wrote:Can someone post the 1001 Nights bonus? (I forget which round it was in)
QUARK Round 8 wrote:12. Answer these questions about Arabic literature, for 10 points each.
[10] This collection of tales told to Shahryar by Scheherazade was famously translated by Richard Burton.
ANSWER: One Thousand and One Nights [or Arabian Nights; or similar translations; or Kitab alf laylah wa-laylah]
[10] This novel by Alaa al-Aswany mostly takes place in the title location in Cairo. It follows the lives of Zaki Bey el Dessouki, Busayna el Sayed, and other characters.
ANSWER: The Yacoubian Building [or Imarat Ya’qubian]
[10] A line from Khalil Gibran’s Sand and Foam is quoted in this Beatles song, which is also the name of the dedicatee of many Robert Herrick poems.
ANSWER: “Julia”
<WN>

Re: Question-specific discussion

Posted: Fri Nov 16, 2012 2:12 pm
by Sima Guang Hater
For the bonus part on ring species, I'd prompt on cline, since a ring species is a cline in a circle.

Re: Question-specific discussion

Posted: Fri Nov 16, 2012 11:07 pm
by Ringil
The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote:For the bonus part on ring species, I'd prompt on cline, since a ring species is a cline in a circle.
Done.

Re: Question-specific discussion

Posted: Sat Dec 01, 2012 4:14 pm
by Sima Guang Hater
I can't believe I missed this, but in Round 5, Tenzin isn't Korra's uncle. This is clearly the most important edit to be made.

Re: Question-specific discussion

Posted: Sun Dec 02, 2012 12:10 am
by Adventure Temple Trail
I will second the comments about ambiguous wording being a major salient feature of this set. Worse than that, there were two myth questions where the author seemed to have issues with transcription/reading comprehension and basically lied to the player:
QUARK wrote:11. After three maidens spill black, white and red milk on the ground, this man takes some of the milk and tells it that he’s going to introduce it to its brother, which won’t hurt him. Later, this man sends a bee to fetch him mead, and while the bee’s away a wasp comes and taints his water with the secret hates of a frog, which makes this man’s weapons break their promises. To win the hand of his first wife, this man must (*) plow a field full of vipers and catch a bear and a pike. When that wife dies because of Kullervo’s curse, this man creates a new wife out of gold. He is better known for creating a device that could produce gold, salt and corn from nothing, the Sampo. For 10 points, name this man who forged the heavens, a smith in the Kalevala.
ANSWER: Ilmarinen
<BF>
So this second sentence is about Osmotar, who is notably female and not a “man,” sending out the bee to get honey for the beer at the wedding feast; while Ilmarinen is getting married at said feast, he doesn’t issue the command to the bee, which rendered this question awfully confusing. (Not sure why I didn’t buzz on the first clue, but that’s my personal issue.)
QUARK wrote:11. In Central American folklore, black and white versions of these creatures called cadejos fight at night for drunkards’ souls. Surma is one of these creatures in Finnish myth, and is said to use its snake-like tail and petrifying gaze on anyone who trespasses by a swan that’s impossible to catch. Matilda-of-the-Night is said to ride with Welsh versions of these creatures called Cŵn Annwn, which are associated with geese. Other instances of these creatures abound in Celtic myth, including old (*) shucks, gytrashes and barghests, and in the Mabinogion they are red. In Norse mythology, a blood-stained one kills and is killed by Tyr at Ragnarok. That creature, Garmr, guards the gate of Hel. Another of them is an offspring of Echnida and Typhon and has three heads. For 10 points, name these creatures which include Cerberus.
ANSWER: hellhounds [be generous; accept anything having to do with dogs or wolves and the underworld or evil]
<BF>
It’s kind of stupid to say that Annwn’s hounds are “associated with” geese, a truly dumb quizbowlese clue which is pretty useless and hard to reverse-engineer on the spot. The “association” here is that they cluck like geese rather than barking – a trait which is memorable. You could avoid transparency and increase buzzability by saying “Welsh versions of these creatures from Annwn vocalize like geese” or something like that. Also, in the Mabinogion, the hell-dogs have red ears and are actually a ghostly white color – they’re not red. If these things were spot-checked it’d be much easier for people with knowledge to buzz rather than be second-guessing lies.

I share Shan’s love of the Yanomamo question – that’s one of the most heated anthropological controversies of recent times and I’m glad it’s getting time in the QB sun again.

I’ll express general discontent that a lot of the philosophy was very tough to buzz on early, in part because the formulation “One work of this philosopher describes the second title concept as [VAGUE DESCRIPTION HERE], in contrast to the first title concept, which [VAGUE DESCRIPTION HERE]” got very tiresome over the course of the day.

Re: Question-specific discussion

Posted: Sat Dec 08, 2012 2:14 pm
by Magister Ludi
I’m sorry to resurrect the discussion, but I just got around to reading this thread and want to highlight a couple points that Jerry has made. It’s important to stress these points not simply because they address recurring problems in tournaments written by Michigan (i.e. Kurtis), but because I worry, judging from the response in this thread, that these valid criticisms are either being ignored or dismissed as a mere difference of opinion.
grapesmoker wrote: In every round I felt like there were about 3 or 4 questions that were just either plain weird or flat-out badly written. By "badly written" I mean that they had clues in basically pyramidal order but they contained a lot of text that was either just unhelpful or possibly even misleading. So I'm writing about all of this to hammer on the point that you have to pay attention to how the question sounds and its basic flow ("Is this information useful? Does it offer the right amount of gradation? Does it give appropriate context?") in order to write good questions.
The crucial thing to notice here: Jerry’s advice is about the mentality of question writing and not the technique. It’s forgivable to misplace a clue or overestimate the average quizbowler’s awareness of Icelandic literature. But most of the mistakes in this set seemed easily avoidable. There were a couple badly-written questions in each packet whose flaws were so obvious that they would have been caught if the writer was paying closer attention. Compare the first bonus Kurtis wrote in the first packet (Gilberto Freyre/favelas/St. Sebastian) with the last bonus he wrote for the packet (“state of nature/Leviathan/“war of all against all”). I have to believe that Kurtis—even with his warped conception of the canon—knows there is a discrepancy in the difficulty of these two bonuses. And, more importantly, would have fixed the problem if he was paying attention.

Paying attention: it’s a rule so obvious that it seems pedantic even to mention it. But I’m going to risk being redundant and offer something of a definition about what it means for writing questions. By paying attention, I mean that while picking clues you need to ask yourself the questions that Jerry mentioned above:
1) Is this clue useful? Would a philosophy student think that the summary, “[this] book divides the first title concept into ‘open’ and ‘closed’ forms, which correspond to ‘dynamic’ and ‘static’ forms of the second title concept” could only describe The Two Sources of Morality and Religion and no other book? Would Bergson himself recognize this summary? Are the terms “open” and “closed” truly distinct in the history of philosophy?
2) Does this question offer enough gradation? Does it have enough middle clues?
3) Does this clue give enough context? Could an expert identify the work being described from the description alone? Is the clue in the “Russia” tossup about a movement that “advocated finding common ground between opposing viewpoints” unique?

I would add an additional question to Jerry’s list:
4) Does this question devote enough space to the material about a topic that people are likely to know? Does this tossup spend more time describing minor material than it spends describing major material, or, in other words, does it devote more time to describing the tertiary works of tertiary thinkers (like Kropotkin’s Fields, Factories, and Workshops) than the major ideas of major thinkers (like listing a couple Bakhtin terms at the end of a tossup with no preceding descriptions)?

This litmus test is especially important for common link tossups on concepts or countries, which can be easily overloaded with too many leadin clues. If Kurtis asked himself these questions, I think he would have seen that there is a problem with a literature tossup on Brazil that uses Mario Andrade's second most-famous work as its middle clue (the leadin was about a novel whose only available English translation is a 1946 edition that is now out of print).

Re: Question-specific discussion

Posted: Sat Dec 08, 2012 2:56 pm
by Auroni
Ted, please also critique MO.

Re: Question-specific discussion

Posted: Sat Dec 08, 2012 3:10 pm
by Adventure Temple Trail
Yeah, Ted is in this specific instance absolutely right about everything in his preceding post, and while I think my opinion on the tournament as a whole shook out to "pretty okay, I guess," Ted's general comments explain pretty accurately why the specific issues in my post arose, why large swaths of the event were nonetheless annoying, and how to avoid that in future writing events. Writers, take his preceding post to heart, or save it on your hard drives, or something.

Re: Question-specific discussion

Posted: Sat Dec 08, 2012 4:40 pm
by kdroge
Ted, I think you're absolutely right in the principles that you laid out. I couldn't agree with you more in that clues should be useful, have gradation, and provide context (whenever possible). It's not like I'm trying to write purposefully confusing questions or trying to pick out irrelevant clues. I'm confused as to how you feel that they do not apply in the instances that you selected. I'll post the Brazil tossup:

In one novel set in this country, Cirino, a young doctor who learns from a book written by Chernoviz, is unable to pursue his love interest because she is promised to a wealthier man. In another novel set here, the title character battles to retrieve an amulet from a giant that once belonged to his beloved, Cí, after being expelled from his village along with his brother Jiquê for accidentally killing his mother. The home of the author of Inocência, the Viscount of Taunay, and the author of (*) Macunaíma, Mário de Andrade, it is also the setting of a novel whose narrator rivals Lobo Neves for the affections of Virgília. That novel’s protagonist meets up with an old classmate, Quincas Borba, in a narration of his life story that begins with his death. For 10 points, name this country home to the creator of Bras Cubas, Joaquim Machado de Assis.
ANSWER: Brazil
<KD>

A full 2/5 of this tossup is about Bras Cubas, what I'd consider to be one of the most well-known works from Brazil. I purposefully spent more time on that work than on the other works discussed on the tossup. I was under the impression that Macunaima was Andrade's best known work; I'm guessing that your point is that his poetry collection is more relevant and better known. I didn't choose to talk about Macunaima to make the question more difficult, and, if I had thought that Andrade's poetry was more important, I would have talked about that instead. I intended the middle clues for this tossup to be the name drops of the works and authors described in the first two sentences- certainly, at least the name drop of Andrade is very gettable. As to Taunay, I selected something that appeared to be a one-time relevant work that influenced later writers. If it is truly completely irrelevant, then you're right that I should have chosen something different.

I had to change the final part of the Freyre bonus from "slavery" to "St. Sebastian" at the last minute to avoid a repeat, and I can see how that made it too hard for an easy part. I wanted to change it again for later mirrors, but I forgot. Do you think the other parts were over-challenging or irrelevant? Are you saying that the Leviathan bonus was too easy? Or that the clues in it are ambiguous or lack context? I'm not trying to be purposefully thick headed- I'm trying to better understand the application of your arguments.

Re: Question-specific discussion

Posted: Sat Dec 08, 2012 8:52 pm
by Magister Ludi
People do not have the same level of exposure to all disciplines, so the most famous term from Brazilian sociology is not necessarily just as well known as the most famous term from Thomas Hobbes. I 30ed the Leviathan bonus from the four-minute lecture I heard on Hobbes in AP Euro.

The issue with the Brazil question is how many people can realistically be expected to buzz on its middle clues. It distorts the real issue even to haggle over the details. (FYI, if I had to edit your tossup I would use Andrade as the leadin, add a line about a lesser known Machado de Asssis work, and add something about the Euclides da Cunha/Mario Vargas Llosa/The War of the End of the World stuff.) But I think you're focusing on the wrong things.

When writing a common link tossup, especially at these "regular-difficulty-plus" tournaments, you need to make sure a topic has middle clues that a decent number of teams will actually buzz on. It's important to understand that putting clues in descending order of difficulty does not necessarily mean a question has middle clues. A quick search on my laptop has Mario Andrade coming up three times, twice as the hard part of a bonus at Nationals-difficulty tournaments and once as a clue in a Brazil tossup. How many players in your field can realistically be expected to know something about Andrade? Will the majority of the field be playing a three-line tossup on Machado de Assis? The middle clues of your common link questions often appear written to distinguish between top-level players, which is the purpose of leadins. If a topic doesn't have buzzable middle clues, like the social science of telenovelas, then don't write the tossup.

One suggestion I've made before is that you should start writing common link questions from the bottom up. If you're writing on "art", start the process by finding a couple lines of clues about the one work that you expect people to know well (the Walter Benjamin essay) rather than finding leadin clues about lesser-known figures (Clive Bell and R. G. Collingwood), which end up inadvertently eating away space from the clues people will actually know.

Re: Question-specific discussion

Posted: Sat Dec 08, 2012 9:07 pm
by Auks Ran Ova
kdroge wrote:I was under the impression that Macunaima was Andrade's best known work; I'm guessing that your point is that his poetry collection is more relevant and better known. I didn't choose to talk about Macunaima to make the question more difficult, and, if I had thought that Andrade's poetry was more important, I would have talked about that instead. I intended the middle clues for this tossup to be the name drops of the works and authors described in the first two sentences- certainly, at least the name drop of Andrade is very gettable.
Who the hell is Mario de Andrade?







(I'm being deliberately facetious here, but I think what most likely happened--since god knows it's happened to me before--is that you got a little too wrapped up in using a specific set of clues and failed to realize that Mario de Andrade is, regardless of his historical import, too hard to be a middle clue at an ostensibly regular-difficulty tournament. This question probably would've been better had you deemphasized the earlier clues, especially that crazy-ass first novel, and maybe added a bit about a more famous Brazilian author like Jorge Amado at the end.)

FAKE EDIT: I also agree with Ted's analysis, especially his advice on writing common links.

Re: Question-specific discussion

Posted: Sun Dec 09, 2012 4:34 am
by kdroge
Magister Ludi wrote:People do not have the same level of exposure to all disciplines, so the most famous term from Brazilian sociology is not necessarily just as well known as the most famous term from Thomas Hobbes. I 30ed the Leviathan bonus from the four-minute lecture I heard on Hobbes in AP Euro.

The issue with the Brazil question is how many people can realistically be expected to buzz on its middle clues. It distorts the real issue even to haggle over the details. (FYI, if I had to edit your tossup I would use Andrade as the leadin, add a line about a lesser known Machado de Asssis work, and add something about the Euclides da Cunha/Mario Vargas Llosa/The War of the End of the World stuff.)
Thank you- I think this sort of feedback actually is very helpful and pertinent. Saying that two bonuses are disparate in terms of their difficulty doesn't really say much to me; if I wrote them for the same tournament, I think they're at least comparable, so being more specific is definitely useful. I'm not trying to haggle details, but I think that at least going over details in some depth rather than solely relaying on more sweeping statements can be helpful in better understanding of ideas.

It's funny, because whenever you lay out specific concepts, I couldn't agree with you more- what you say about middle clues and writing common links are both very valid points (I would've thought about half the teams would buzz off of Andrade; I was probably wrong about this). Even when I do this, though, you don't seem to think the results are satisfactory. I can say that when I planned the art tossup I certainly planned the Benjamin clues before the ones about Clive Bell, but I didn't think there was really that much more to say about the Benjamin essay than what's in the tossup that people would have a chance of knowing about (at least not stuff that would be non lead-in level of difficulty).

Re: Question-specific discussion

Posted: Mon Dec 10, 2012 11:42 pm
by Muriel Axon
Not that it really matters at this point, but I do think the question on abortion could have been done better.
5. Kristin Luker analyzed opinions on this issue from a historical perspective, looking at the social circumstances that gave rise to peoples’ views. Ronald Dworkin argued that different opinions about this concept actually highlight a common vehicle of thinking in his book Life’s Dominion. Dan Marquis presented a rational basis for upholding the “future-like-ours” argument regarding this concept in a paper about why it “is immoral.” The best known thought experiment concerning this issue, posited by (*) Judith Jarvis Thomson, creates an analogy wherein a sick violinist is hooked up to a person to use that person’s kidneys for dialysis. Peter Singer argued that, because the central subjects of this issue do not have any preferences, it is not anti-utilitarian for it to be permissible, and he extended his argument to infants. For 10 points, name this issue dealt with in the case of Roe v. Wade.
ANSWER: abortion
<KD>
I like the idea of this question, but Thomson's "A Defense of Abortion" is certainly one of the most anthologized philosophical papers ever, and is widely considered one of the most influential, so mentioning it right after the rather more marginal (though still important) "Why Abortion is Immoral" is kind of strange. I don't know what could have been done to ease this transition (maybe mention some of Philippa Foot's work?) but the juxtaposition led to a buzzer race in our game against Jerry and I wouldn't have been surprised if it did in other games, too. (Another suggestion would be to flip the part with the sick violinist and the dropping of Thomson's name.) On top of the fact that the first two clues add no real context for people who don't know exactly what those clues talking about, that made this tossup frustrating to play, and I think it's reflective of some wider problems.

By the way: Don Marquis, not Dan. (Again, not much you can do to fix this now, sorry.)

Anyway, as I mentioned earlier, I did really enjoy this tournament, and this isn't a huge deal.