General Discussion

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General Discussion

Post by Brian McPeak » Sun Jan 26, 2014 9:32 am

Since it got changed a little, here's what distribution people ending up editing:

Science-- Brian
History-- Puma and Jordan
Lit-- Manners and Jordan
Fine Arts-- Tanay
RMP, SS-- Ankit, with a liberal dash of Sohan
Other-- Isaac

This isn't exact; we can tell you who wrote a specific question if you like.

I'd like to thank SteveJon and Victor Prieto for their feedback on my questions, and Ike for taking the CS and just doing it for me.

Anyway, go ahead and discuss. I invite as detailed and harsh criticism as anyone is willing to give on the science, and I imagine the other editors feel the same way
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Re: General Discussion

Post by The Kirk Store Called » Sun Jan 26, 2014 1:04 pm

There was a very very strange fixation on African/Latin American dictators in the world history distribution, as well as modern history. My favorite part of the history distribution is actually 20th century history, but I thought this was very much excessive. By packets.

1. No Clearly Identifiable World History Tossup + 20th century Brazil Bonus (that clued in on dictator clues)
2. Aurangzeb + No Clearly Identifiable World History Bonus (unless we count the Spain bonus as Latin America)
3. No World History Tossup + Peru bonus based on dictatorship stuff
4. Ayutthaya + Mexican War of Independence
5. Nkruma + 20th century Caribbean Leaders
6. Sri Lankan violence + 20th century African dictators
7. Benito Juarez + 20th century African dictators
8. Kuomintang + No Clearly Identifiable World History Bonus
9. Indonesia + No Clearly Identifiable World History Bonus (unless we count the Anglo-Russian relations bonus as world)
10. Civil Wars in Colombia + 20th century Vietnamese dictators
11. Duvalier + Taiping rebellion bonus

Out of 17 clearly identifiable world history questions, just modern Latin American/African authoritarian leaders took up about 9/17. Modern world history took up 15/17.

By clearly identifiable world history, I mean I suspect questions like Ptolemy were meant to be world history, but there would be a lot of contention on whether it should count as part of the world history distribution.

User was tempbanned for substantively editing posts from this thread, including deleting requests that editors personally apologize to him for asking too many questions about African strongmen.
Last edited by The Kirk Store Called on Sun Jan 26, 2014 6:49 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: General Discussion

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Sun Jan 26, 2014 6:00 pm

I strongly agree with Kirk's assessment of the world history distribution. Perhaps my disappointment is being inflated because I'm not as good at post-18th century world history as I am at some other areas of history, but I felt this tournament had inexcusable subdistribution issues in the world history distribution. Several people I spoke to throughout the day noted the prevalence of modern Latin American and African history, and of 20th century world history in general. I know that this was a packet-submission tournament, but I think this reflects strongly on the personal interests of the question writers (Dan Puma even noted that he loves Latin American history in one of the bonuses!). There may well have been a dearth of Islamic and East Asian history in the submitted packets, but that's not an excuse for bad subdistribution, especially as the editors of this tournament were perfectly fine with writing several packets of their own.

The European history, on the other hand, was fairly well-balanced across categories, though I did notice a slight bias towards later classical history in the classical distribution; not something I particularly mind, but still worth noting. I didn't pay as much attention to the American history but it seemed fairly well-balanced as well; I especially liked the fact that it leaned away from more trivial/less important colonial history.

On a related note, I really liked the questions Jordan Brownstein wrote for this tournament (which happened to include some of the non-modern world history questions), and I think he did a very good job for someone who's fairly new to collegiate quizbowl. This could very well be a reflection of subject bias on my part, though.

With regards to difficulty, I think this tournament ended up a lot like Penn Bowl in that it was billed as regular and it ended up being somewhat harder than regular, which wasn't as much of an issue at the Northeast site (due to team strength) but could be a problem at other sites. Judging by the stats, their difficulties were roughly comparable; Yale fielded a somewhat better (or at least more balanced) team than they did at Penn Bowl and had basically identical PPB, whereas Harvard fielded the same team and got slightly lower PPB; both teams also had roughly the same power rate. Other teams at our site did better than at Penn Bowl, but also played stronger lineups (we had Cameron, Columbia had Alex Gerten, MIT had Miriam Nussbaum).

That being aside, I personally liked the difficulty of this tournament and I think it generally did a fine job of testing knowledge. There were a number of kinks in bonus difficulty, but that's a problem with most non-easy tournaments in general and packet-submission tournaments especially, and the editors did a reasonable job of smoothing this out.
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Re: General Discussion

Post by Gonzagapuma1 » Sun Jan 26, 2014 9:27 pm

kroeajueluo wrote:T
3. No World History Tossup + Peru bonus based on dictatorship stuff
Thutmose III isn't world history? I mean, I guess he's ancient, but he's also from Egypt, so....
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Re: General Discussion

Post by gyre and gimble » Sun Jan 26, 2014 10:22 pm

Could I get a copy of this set? I'd like to look it over again before offering feedback.

My overall impression though was that bonus difficulty was all over the place. Some bonuses had two easy parts and some bonuses wouldn't even have been among the easier bonuses in an ACF Nationals set. The powermarking seemed to be all over the place as well, and was probably too stingy most of the time (though as long as it's consistently stingy, I guess that's just an editorial choice). As some other people have mentioned, subdistributions were pretty skewed though that might be a function of which packets we played.

As for the individual questions on their own, on the other hand, I thought the writing and clue selection was very well done for the most part. Again, I can always hunt for some of the rougher ones with the set in front of me, but not too many stand out in my mind right now. A couple I had issues with were the North by Northwest tossup that mentioned a crop-dusting plane in the second line, the Niemeyer tossup that led in with something about an inverted saucer bowl, and the Death of General Wolfe question that used the pronoun "this man" in the first clue.
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Re: General Discussion

Post by Brian McPeak » Sun Jan 26, 2014 10:34 pm

gyre and gimble wrote: My overall impression though was that bonus difficulty was all over the place. Some bonuses had two easy parts and some bonuses wouldn't even have been among the easier bonuses in an ACF Nationals set. The powermarking seemed to be all over the place as well


It would be a little more helpful if you gave some examples-- maybe you can do that with the set in front of you. Did bonuses or powers vary across different parts of the distribution? Do you remember any bonuses that were way to hard (I believe you that they exist-- I just saw that the impossible Parfit bonus didn't get changed)
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Re: General Discussion

Post by The Kirk Store Called » Sun Jan 26, 2014 11:44 pm

Gonzagapuma1 wrote:
kroeajueluo wrote:T
3. No World History Tossup + Peru bonus based on dictatorship stuff
Thutmose III isn't world history? I mean, I guess he's ancient, but he's also from Egypt, so....
Actually a very disputed topic. It's a can of academic worms that I'm not interested in opening right now because regardless of the stance taken on that issue, it doesn't exonerate the egregious shortcoming in sub-distribution.
Last edited by The Kirk Store Called on Sun Jan 26, 2014 11:58 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: General Discussion

Post by Cheynem » Sun Jan 26, 2014 11:48 pm

Again, I have no real stake in this fight, but as someone who has edited the history at a bunch of tournaments, modern world history takes up more space because it's generally more answerable. People are more familiar with that world history than older world history.

Also, you can't just define terms--Thutmose III is world history, so lying about it and saying it's not is ridiculous.

This is why I do not like discussion threads because it turns into people demanding that editors apologize or prostrate themselves and back and forth potshots.
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Re: General Discussion

Post by Steeve Ho You Fat » Sun Jan 26, 2014 11:58 pm

I'm not allowed to tell you how to post, but I think that literally everyone else will be happier and quizbowl will be just as well off if you don't post.
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Re: General Discussion

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Mon Jan 27, 2014 12:02 am

kroeajueluo wrote:Actually a very disputed topic. It's a can of academic worms that I'm not interested in opening right now
In that case, please try to avoid needlessly introducing bullshit sophistry to otherwise reasonable tournament discussions. In quizbowl, "world history" is pretty much universally taken to mean "not American, British, classical, or European".
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Re: General Discussion

Post by The Kirk Store Called » Mon Jan 27, 2014 12:06 am

Ukonvasara wrote:
kroeajueluo wrote:Actually a very disputed topic. It's a can of academic worms that I'm not interested in opening right now
In that case, please try to avoid needlessly introducing bullshit sophistry to otherwise reasonable tournament discussions. In quizbowl, "world history" is pretty much universally taken to mean "not American, British, classical, or European".
Egypt isn't considered classical? Not being coy here; I've just learned about Egypt as part of classical civilization (such as nearby Greece) and I wasn't aware of any quizbowl consensus that declared it as something separate.
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Re: General Discussion

Post by Cheynem » Mon Jan 27, 2014 12:08 am

Well, classical in the sense of Greco-Roman. I traditionally place ancient history from the Middle East, Egypt, the rest of Africa, and Asia in world.
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Re: General Discussion

Post by The Kirk Store Called » Mon Jan 27, 2014 12:21 am

Cheynem wrote:Well, classical in the sense of Greco-Roman. I traditionally place ancient history from the Middle East, Egypt, the rest of Africa, and Asia in world.
I actually do think there's a lot of grey area in sub-distribution. For example, from what I've heard, the question on Anglo-Russian relations (the Great Game) was submitted as a European history question but was used as a world history tossup. Does the Anglo-Zulu War count as world history or British history? (I think it was counted as World History). There may be quizbowl consensus on where specific topics fall, but I'm not aware of them, probably because they normally don't matter (since there usually aren't that many of them).

I sought to exclude the very grey-line cases (including only "clearly identifiable World History questions") since I don't think they're as helpful for illustrating sub-distribution as pure examples and because I wanted to avoid very nit-picky arguments like this.

Though in retrospect, I don't think their inclusion changes the general sub-distribution trends.
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Re: General Discussion

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Mon Jan 27, 2014 12:39 am

Cheynem wrote:Well, classical in the sense of Greco-Roman. I traditionally place ancient history from the Middle East, Egypt, the rest of Africa, and Asia in world.
This sort of logic wasn't applied consistently across the set, because one of the rounds had a tossup on the Sassanid Empire under the classical distribution (Aurangzeb was the world history tossup that round) while Ptolemy was the world history in another round. So while calling something that many in quizbowl would define as world history isn't particularly productive in a discussion of set quality, philosophy, etc, I do think the application of a consistent philosophy to these things matters.

For the record, I did in fact submit the Great Game/Afghanistan/Durand bonus intending for it to be used as European history, because every clue explicitly discussed things European powers were doing in those regions. I was in fact disappointed that this question got thrown into the World History distribution instead because it was about Europeans doing stuff that mattered primarily to Europeans at the time, though of course its effect on non-Europeans was substantial.

I feel like this line of ancient/world history discussion would be much better served by creating a separate thread for discussing people's opinions on the matter. How about using this thread? I think this is worth discussing, but just not here. At the very least, I would like for people to not clutter this thread with unfriendly posts about at best semi-related topics.
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Last edited by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea on Mon Jan 27, 2014 1:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: General Discussion

Post by Muriel Axon » Mon Jan 27, 2014 12:55 am

gamegeek2 wrote:This sort of logic wasn't applied consistently across the set, because one of the rounds had a tossup on the Sassanid Empire under the classical distribution (Aurangzeb was the world history tossup that round) while Ptolemy was the world history in another round.
You're being really legalistic about this. Sticking to a stated distribution is good, but omitting a world history question in one round by accident won't make the Sun go out. Most people won't even notice. The amount of effort being put into discussing this is not worth it.
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Re: General Discussion

Post by Adventure Temple Trail » Mon Jan 27, 2014 12:16 pm

To get this general discussion back to general principles: I think this tournament was decent, okay, passable, etc. and I'm glad I got to play it I was reminded in terms of quality and difficulty of VCU Closed, though this tournament had a lot less variability between packets and a much more consistent difficulty than VCU Closed, making it better on average - I definitely felt there was a coherent editorial vision at work here. Powers did indeed seem stingy (if by that we mean stingier than DRAGOON), but they were uniformly stingy, at which point it's more or less a valid editorial choice to keep them as-is.

I noticed two subdistributional quirks playing this tournament. The literature in this tournament, at least from the 11 packets we heard (we didn't hear Haverford, WashU, Editors 3, or Editors 4, in case you're curious), skewed very heavily towards poetry and recent literature, rather than being more well-subdistributed (this cut into drama, for example). Perhaps by design, this set also had a greater-than-average number of military history questions, including lots of battle formation/tactics clues of questionable buzzability. I'm glad to admit this as a weak point of mine if other people were actually buzzing on clues such as "infantry line advanced under the cover of artillery fire smoke", but somehow I doubt it. The broader takeaway from these observations is that editing teams are not excused from attempting to ensure good subdistribution just because their tournament is packet-sub; I think it's definitely valid sometimes [for a hypothetical example] to cut and replace the 10th good British poetry tossup if nine of your packets have British poetry in them and other areas of Brit lit are getting shafted. In today's world of ridiculously big numbers of teams submitting packets to tournaments, it should also be possible sometimes to take a somewhat-worse tossup and edit it for subdistributional purposes.

It can be pretty embarrassing when you leave editorial comments in your packets (mods on Saturday were often reading them and snickering); I'd suggest scrubbing those before next weekend's mirrors and definitely getting rid of them before the set is posted come March.
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Re: General Discussion

Post by Jem Casey » Mon Jan 27, 2014 1:29 pm

RyuAqua wrote: I noticed two subdistributional quirks playing this tournament. The literature in this tournament, at least from the 11 packets we heard (we didn't hear Haverford, WashU, Editors 3, or Editors 4, in case you're curious), skewed very heavily towards poetry and recent literature, rather than being more well-subdistributed (this cut into drama, for example). Perhaps by design, this set also had a greater-than-average number of military history questions, including lots of battle formation/tactics clues of questionable buzzability. I'm glad to admit this as a weak point of mine if other people were actually buzzing on clues such as "infantry line advanced under the cover of artillery fire smoke", but somehow I doubt it. The broader takeaway from these observations is that editing teams are not excused from attempting to ensure good subdistribution just because their tournament is packet-sub; I think it's definitely valid sometimes [for a hypothetical example] to cut and replace the 10th good British poetry tossup if nine of your packets have British poetry in them and other areas of Brit lit are getting shafted. In today's world of ridiculously big numbers of teams submitting packets to tournaments, it should also be possible sometimes to take a somewhat-worse tossup and edit it for subdistributional purposes.
I agree that tactics clues are often next to useless, which is why I ended up taking a lot of that stuff out of submitted questions; in fact, in the military questions I edited, I believe I only kept two clues of that nature: 1) the "artillery fire smoke" clue you mentioned, which, although not a great clue, is arguably buzzable because of the mention of its originator, Henry Horne, who is by far most famous for his tactical contributions to the Battle of the Somme; and 2) the mention of the "circular schiltron" formation in the Bannockburn tossup, which, if I am to believe Wikipedia, is distinctive or at worst definitively Scottish Independence. If you remember any other examples of this trend, let me know.

As to your subdistributional concerns about English lit, I totaled up the poetry questions and found this: poetry accounted for 7/15 English lit tossups and 6/15 bonuses--out of the packets you heard that's 6/11 and 5/11. It also appears that drama represented roughly 0/1 or 1/0 of every packet across all lit areas. I don't have enough experience as an editor to either justify or criticize this distribution, but I thought I'd get the numbers out there for future discussion.
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Re: General Discussion

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Mon Jan 27, 2014 3:15 pm

JZaneB wrote:
RyuAqua wrote: I noticed two subdistributional quirks playing this tournament. The literature in this tournament, at least from the 11 packets we heard (we didn't hear Haverford, WashU, Editors 3, or Editors 4, in case you're curious), skewed very heavily towards poetry and recent literature, rather than being more well-subdistributed (this cut into drama, for example). Perhaps by design, this set also had a greater-than-average number of military history questions, including lots of battle formation/tactics clues of questionable buzzability. I'm glad to admit this as a weak point of mine if other people were actually buzzing on clues such as "infantry line advanced under the cover of artillery fire smoke", but somehow I doubt it. The broader takeaway from these observations is that editing teams are not excused from attempting to ensure good subdistribution just because their tournament is packet-sub; I think it's definitely valid sometimes [for a hypothetical example] to cut and replace the 10th good British poetry tossup if nine of your packets have British poetry in them and other areas of Brit lit are getting shafted. In today's world of ridiculously big numbers of teams submitting packets to tournaments, it should also be possible sometimes to take a somewhat-worse tossup and edit it for subdistributional purposes.
I agree that tactics clues are often next to useless, which is why I ended up taking a lot of that stuff out of submitted questions; in fact, in the military questions I edited, I believe I only kept two clues of that nature: 1) the "artillery fire smoke" clue you mentioned, which, although not a great clue, is arguably buzzable because of the mention of its originator, Henry Horne, who is by far most famous for his tactical contributions to the Battle of the Somme; and 2) the mention of the "circular schiltron" formation in the Bannockburn tossup, which, if I am to believe Wikipedia, is distinctive or at worst definitively Scottish Independence. If you remember any other examples of this trend, let me know.

As to your subdistributional concerns about English lit, I totaled up the poetry questions and found this: poetry accounted for 7/15 English lit tossups and 6/15 bonuses--out of the packets you heard that's 6/11 and 5/11. It also appears that drama represented roughly 0/1 or 1/0 of every packet across all lit areas. I don't have enough experience as an editor to either justify or criticize this distribution, but I thought I'd get the numbers out there for future discussion.
A little feedback: I personally found the schiltrom clue useful; what it told me is that the battle in question was something from the Scottish wars against Edward I on, since you said it was "one of the last" and therefore ruled out previous conflicts. For this tossup, that particular clue was the first thing that clued me in on "Bannockburn", though I wasn't sure whether it could be anything else or not because the clue wasn't uniquely identifying ("one of the last"). Basically, talking about the schiltrom was helpful for priming me to buzz on the next clue (Declaration of Arbroath).

Kirk told me he buzzed on the "artillery fire smoke" clue because he knew it referenced a World War I battle, he just couldn't remember which one it was. So at least one person was helped out by that clue.
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Re: General Discussion

Post by vinteuil » Mon Jan 27, 2014 3:33 pm

JZaneB wrote: As to your subdistributional concerns about English lit, I totaled up the poetry questions and found this: poetry accounted for 7/15 English lit tossups and 6/15 bonuses--out of the packets you heard that's 6/11 and 5/11. It also appears that drama represented roughly 0/1 or 1/0 of every packet across all lit areas. I don't have enough experience as an editor to either justify or criticize this distribution, but I thought I'd get the numbers out there for future discussion.
That certainly does seem to be a major skew towards English poetry, and I would say that I think that drama should probably account for more than ~1/8 of all literature questions.

What was the philosophy for middle bonus parts in this tournament? Am I wrong in thinking that the general rule of thumb is "a middle part should be difficulty-equivalent to a tossup answerline" even if it's not a tossupable topic? There seemed to be an awful lot of things like Hard-Boiled Wonderland/Sputnik Sweetheart/Murakami or CPE Bach/Israelites in the Desert/Art of Fugue that did not follow this.
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Re: General Discussion

Post by Tanay » Mon Jan 27, 2014 3:55 pm

vinteuil wrote:What was the philosophy for middle bonus parts in this tournament? Am I wrong in thinking that the general rule of thumb is "a middle part should be difficulty-equivalent to a tossup answerline" even if it's not a tossupable topic? There seemed to be an awful lot of things like...CPE Bach/Israelites in the Desert/Art of Fugue that did not follow this.
I caught this during playtesting and had meant to fix this bonus. I'll do so now.
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Re: General Discussion

Post by Gonzagapuma1 » Mon Jan 27, 2014 4:21 pm

RyuAqua wrote:Perhaps by design, this set also had a greater-than-average number of military history questions, including lots of battle formation/tactics clues of questionable buzzability. I'm glad to admit this as a weak point of mine if other people were actually buzzing on clues such as "infantry line advanced under the cover of artillery fire smoke", but somehow I doubt it.
Hm, Jordan and I both tried to stay away from this. I know I put in a well known, but perhaps unhelpful, tactics clue in the Marathon tossup, but I can't think of another instance of this in my questions.
RyuAqua wrote:It can be pretty embarrassing when you leave editorial comments in your packets (mods on Saturday were often reading them and snickering); I'd suggest scrubbing those before next weekend's mirrors and definitely getting rid of them before the set is posted come March.
This is 100% right and we will be sure to erase before any more mirrors.
Last edited by Gonzagapuma1 on Tue Jan 28, 2014 6:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: General Discussion

Post by Lagotto Romagnolo » Tue Jan 28, 2014 5:25 pm

I wrote that question on the Somme. Sorry if the description wasn't great, but from what I could tell the creeping barrage tactic was really important there and throughout the war. (Note: I am not a military history specialist either)
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Re: General Discussion

Post by Sam » Sun Feb 02, 2014 8:31 pm

When writing questions, I think it's a good step to consider how people will have learned about the clues you're using. Sometimes in attempting to make "realer" clues, one can actually just make impossible ones. Here are some examples:
3. This man proposed a premise of transitivity of indifference in one work. This man subtitled one work “An Extension of Classical Welfare Economics,” and he published General Competitive Analysis with Frank Hahn. This man developed one of the first theories of endogenous growth. He helped prove the existence of an equilibrium in markets as part of his work on General (*) Equilibrium Theory with McKenzie and Debreu. Duggan–Schwartz and Gibbard–Satterthwaite are modifications of his most famous theorem. This author of Social Choice and Individual Action theorized that criteria like Individual Sovereignty and Unanimity cannot be reached in an ordering of more than three choices. For 10 points, name this economist with a namesake impossibility theorem.
ANSWER: Kenneth Joseph Arrow
The mistake this question makes is treating Kenneth Arrow the same way you would treat an author in a literature question: an emphasis on clues directly from the texts, and when titles are dropped, moving from least well known to best well known. The problem is very few people, students of economics or otherwise, approach him this way. Most of what people know from Arrow they know from secondary sources like textbooks, journal articles, or popularizations of his work. Dropping the title of one of his lesser known books is likely to only help people who have seen a list of his titles.
Furthermore, the first clue is not unique to Arrow. I'm guessing the writer looked in one of his works and found this fact without considering the larger context his work appears in.
18. According to Book III of Virgil’s Georgics, this group invented the bridle bit and horseback riding. This group of humans is rebuked by Apollo on the west pediment of the Temple of Zeus at Olympia. These people included Phlegyas, who burned down a temple of Apollo after his child had an affair with Ischys. This group once fought beside an invincible warrior who was nonetheless crushed by a pile of logs. The sex-changed hero (*) Caeneus defended these people, who were led by a man who pushed his father-in-law into a fire and sexed up a cloud during an attempted rape of Hera. Drunken insults of Hippodameia from guests led a wedding organized by these people to get violent. They include the wheel-bound Ixion and a poor sap who got stuck on a chair in the underworld after his friend Theseus got out. For 10 points, name this northern tribe once led by the prince Pirithous, who warred with the centaurs.
ANSWER: Lapiths (prompt on “Thessalians” or “people from Thessaly”)
I don't know anything about the clues before "Hippodameia" so I can't speak for how hard they are, but the lead-in suffers from similar issues as the Arrow tossup. This actually is a literature clue, so that it directly references the Georgics is good, but it looks like the line about Lapiths appear in a longer section that's about a bunch of different horses and horse-accessories from Classical myth. Even if someone had read this, I'm not sure they would remember the detail well enough to buzz there.

In general, clues that reward reading books are good things, but this doesn't mean you can find a good clue by just opening a text and pulling a fact from it. In many cases secondary sources may be a safer bet, at least as a cross-reference, because then you know at least one other person in the world has found what you're using noteworthy enough to talk about.
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Re: General Discussion

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Mon Feb 03, 2014 5:58 pm

I generally liked this tournament. My few overarching complaints are about literature bonuses sometimes being very unforgiving and asking you to remember secondary characters from works that aren't necessarily memorable (like the manager of the titular store from "A&P"), and for some early clue drops here and there (Laughlin wavefunction, "infidel mathematician"). Of the stuff I'm qualified to comment on, I thought the science and the history were both particularly well-written, but the social science was a little more shaky.
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Re: General Discussion

Post by Galadedrid Damodred » Mon Feb 03, 2014 9:56 pm

I'm one of those people who likes military history questions, so I didn't mind the subdistribution skewing more in that direction. Let's not forget this:
ACF Packet Submission Guidelines wrote:No more than 4 of your 10 total history questions should be predominately about battles, wars, or people known primarily for their military accomplishments.
Sure, you probably shouldn't be having 40% military history across the board for a whole tournament, but it is one of the easier history topics to write and study for people who aren't experts. Also, many wars and battles are justifiably more important than the love lives of inbred European monarchs (among other popular quizbowl subjects).

Overall I liked this set more than DRAGOON because I thought it had more questions that were written creatively or on often-overlooked topics, although it was definitely harder for those reasons. I think the main issue people are having is that this is the second of the three tournaments this year that have been billed as "regular difficulty" to wind up more like "regular-plus." NAQT Sectionals and ACF Regionals will almost certainly be easier than SUBMIT, and there's also MUT coming up, so I don't think it's a major concern. However, weaker/newer teams trying to break through the "regular difficulty" barrier may get frustrated from continually signing up for tournaments expecting one difficulty level, only to find the questions even harder than they anticipated.
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Re: General Discussion

Post by Ike » Wed Feb 05, 2014 11:31 am

Galadedrid Damodred wrote: Overall I liked this set more than DRAGOON because I thought it had more questions that were written creatively or on often-overlooked topics, although it was definitely harder for those reasons. I think the main issue people are having is that this is the second of the three tournaments this year that have been billed as "regular difficulty" to wind up more like "regular-plus." NAQT Sectionals and ACF Regionals will almost certainly be easier than SUBMIT, and there's also MUT coming up, so I don't think it's a major concern. However, weaker/newer teams trying to break through the "regular difficulty" barrier may get frustrated from continually signing up for tournaments expecting one difficulty level, only to find the questions even harder than they anticipated.
Wow, a needle to other writers that includes me and a complete misunderstanding of what people like Sam Bailey are complaining about above!

DRAGOON was creatively written whether you think so or not. e.g., You should take a look at Eric's notes about how the science for DRAGOON (specifically how most of it was on easy answer lines but rewarded deep knowledge - if that isn't creative then what is?) To be clear, I don't care whether or not you like SUBMIT more than DRAGOON, but I do care when you articulate a nonsensical reason for why one tournament is preferable to the other, and people who don't know better internalize your post.

The problem stated in the above posts isn't that "this tournament was too creative and thus too hard," which may certainly be true, (I don't know I haven't seen the set in its entirety.) The problem is that many of the clues are useless to people who actually know anything about the topic, like the "numerous tactics clues of questionable buzzability," or the titles of Arrow's collaborative papers. At no level, no matter how hard your tourney is, is it appropriate to write an Arrow tossup with leadins and early clues like the one mentioned above.

So if you're preference is "I like to hear answer lines on harder things" then say so, as opposed to denigrating the hard work of other writers.
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Re: General Discussion

Post by Galadedrid Damodred » Wed Feb 05, 2014 4:59 pm

Ike wrote:
Galadedrid Damodred wrote: Overall I liked this set more than DRAGOON because I thought it had more questions that were written creatively or on often-overlooked topics, although it was definitely harder for those reasons. I think the main issue people are having is that this is the second of the three tournaments this year that have been billed as "regular difficulty" to wind up more like "regular-plus." NAQT Sectionals and ACF Regionals will almost certainly be easier than SUBMIT, and there's also MUT coming up, so I don't think it's a major concern. However, weaker/newer teams trying to break through the "regular difficulty" barrier may get frustrated from continually signing up for tournaments expecting one difficulty level, only to find the questions even harder than they anticipated.
Wow, a needle to other writers that includes me and a complete misunderstanding of what people like Sam Bailey are complaining about above!

DRAGOON was creatively written whether you think so or not. e.g., You should take a look at Eric's notes about how the science for DRAGOON (specifically how most of it was on easy answer lines but rewarded deep knowledge - if that isn't creative then what is?) To be clear, I don't care whether or not you like SUBMIT more than DRAGOON, but I do care when you articulate a nonsensical reason for why one tournament is preferable to the other, and people who don't know better internalize your post.

The problem stated in the above posts isn't that "this tournament was too creative and thus too hard," which may certainly be true, (I don't know I haven't seen the set in its entirety.) The problem is that many of the clues are useless to people who actually know anything about the topic, like the "numerous tactics clues of questionable buzzability," or the titles of Arrow's collaborative papers. At no level, no matter how hard your tourney is, is it appropriate to write an Arrow tossup with leadins and early clues like the one mentioned above.

So if you're preference is "I like to hear answer lines on harder things" then say so, as opposed to denigrating the hard work of other writers.
Yes what I meant was that I generally prefer less common topics and answerlines, assuming roughly the same level of writing skill. I apologize if this came across as a dig at DRAGOON, which it was not meant to be, and I obviously should have worded my post better. My inference from playing both tournaments was that the overall lower stats on SUBMIT for most teams compared with DRAGOON was caused mainly by the clues before power and the answerlines being things that haven't come up before as much, which I interpreted as creative writing in a positive sense. However, this is just an impression as I have been busy this week and not had time to go back and look through all the SUBMIT packets. I am happy to concede any of my points if there is a consensus that many SUBMIT questions did in fact use poor cluing, etc. Again, I meant no disrespect to the DRAGOON writers who produced, in my opinion, the best regular difficulty housewrite since MAGNI.

edit: not implying that there were lots of recent packet-sub tournaments that were better than DRAGOON, just that I subjectively liked it more than most tournaments of the last 2 years but I don't know individual sets well enough to say "DRAGOON was better than 2012 ACF Regionals and here's why" or some such statement. I seem to have missed the jury's verdict on SUBMIT anyway so in retrospect you can just dismiss my original post as being what I thought when I got home from the tournament and had time to type up my initial reaction. Looking over some other discussion threads, it seems these kinds of posts are generally deprecated so I will stop making them.
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Re: General Discussion

Post by Ike » Wed Feb 05, 2014 7:35 pm

Yeah, I'm sorry if I came off as grouchy. My personal belief is something along the lines of "The QbUniverse could use more tossups on Da Vinci's The Last Supper" contra other more marginal topics (like Tintoretto's last supper), and thus writing on overlooked things is creative.
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Re: General Discussion

Post by Nine-Tenths Ideas » Thu Feb 06, 2014 5:09 pm

Ike wrote:Wow, a needle to other writers that includes me and a complete misunderstanding of what people like Sam Bailey are complaining about above!

DRAGOON was creatively written whether you think so or not. e.g., You should take a look at Eric's notes about how the science for DRAGOON (specifically how most of it was on easy answer lines but rewarded deep knowledge - if that isn't creative then what is?) To be clear, I don't care whether or not you like SUBMIT more than DRAGOON, but I do care when you articulate a nonsensical reason for why one tournament is preferable to the other, and people who don't know better internalize your post.

The problem stated in the above posts isn't that "this tournament was too creative and thus too hard," which may certainly be true, (I don't know I haven't seen the set in its entirety.) The problem is that many of the clues are useless to people who actually know anything about the topic, like the "numerous tactics clues of questionable buzzability," or the titles of Arrow's collaborative papers. At no level, no matter how hard your tourney is, is it appropriate to write an Arrow tossup with leadins and early clues like the one mentioned above.

So if you're preference is "I like to hear answer lines on harder things" then say so, as opposed to denigrating the hard work of other writers.
I don't care whether you take issue with a dude's preference of tournament [and honestly, it read more like a poorly worded explanation of why he liked SUBMIT than a dig at DRAGOON] but this reads like an attack on SUBMIT, which is lame because you haven't read SUBMIT. The Kenneth Arrow question sucks and there were two questions with tactics clues [although people seem to still be arguing about whether or not they're useful] but those are 3 questions and, who knows, maybe SUBMIT also had some creative questions in it. If you want to flout DRAGOON's questions as being more creative than SUBMIT's, sure, although that's a weird thing to argue about as it's a completely subjective quality for questions to have, but going after SUBMIT as it seems you're doing here is unnecessary.
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Re: General Discussion

Post by DumbJaques » Thu Feb 06, 2014 6:56 pm

I thought this was a pretty solid tournament, though definitely a touch too hard for regular difficulty. If that's the worst thing you can say about a team of editors doing their first unsupervised job, they've done well. From what I could see, Brian McPeak, Chris Manners, Isaac Hirsch, Jordan Brownstein, and Dan Puma all did very good work on this set.

I will say that portions of the tournament ranged from meh to suck fairly consistently; specifically, these were Visual Arts, Religion, Philosophy, and Social Science. Not-shockingly, these were the portions of the tournament written by Berkeley, who I understand left most of their work until the last-ish minute.

Since my cohorts at Maryland are apparently too classy to throw Ankit and Tanay under the bus, please allow me. You guys didn't seem to do a very good job on this set. I also understand you bailed at the last minute while packets still needed to be proofed and randomized, even though it was like 2:00 AM on the East Coast and like 11:00 where you were. Boooo!

Tanay, for what it's worth, most of the bad arts questions just seemed like you being lazy. A lot of the tossups basically had one or two hard/impossible clues and then became buzzerraces. Bonuses didn't seem very carefully constructed. And that question on View of Toledo was egregiously horrible, and as we all discovered at the after party, inserted UNEDITED from a submission. We've all been in time crunches and all, but come on, when you're working on a collaborative tournament you can't leave people hanging out to dry like that. Maryland doesn't really have anyone who can edit your subjects easily/quickly, so there wasn't much they could do but trust you not to half-ass it.

Ankit: There were some interesting ideas in SS, but nobody I talked to seemed to enjoy playing it at all. Some of the material was extremely hard, or unanswerable due to choice of answer line, or both. Few of the tossups played very well, and philosophy seemed to fluctuate between early giveaway and baffling conceptual tossup. The religion was full of garbage; stop asking about Wicca, jesus. It's fine to ask about Samhain or other folk religion topics, but requiring people to know what Wiccans pretend to call that in between arranging their crystals and spelling magic with a 'k' is dumb.
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Re: General Discussion

Post by Ike » Fri Feb 07, 2014 3:00 am

Emily Krok wrote: I don't care whether you take issue with a dude's preference of tournament [and honestly, it read more like a poorly worded explanation of why he liked SUBMIT than a dig at DRAGOON] but this reads like an attack on SUBMIT, which is lame because you haven't read SUBMIT. The Kenneth Arrow question sucks and there were two questions with tactics clues [although people seem to still be arguing about whether or not they're useful] but those are 3 questions and, who knows, maybe SUBMIT also had some creative questions in it. If you want to flout DRAGOON's questions as being more creative than SUBMIT's, sure, although that's a weird thing to argue about as it's a completely subjective quality for questions to have, but going after SUBMIT as it seems you're doing here is unnecessary.
No it is not an attack on SUBMIT, and I'm sorry if it came off that way. I am summarizing what I think Sam Bailey, Matt Jackson - specifically about the tactics clues of questionable of buzzability, and others seem to be saying about some of the cluing in the tournament. My problem isn't with the tournament's questions - as I stated in my above post I haven't seen much of them; my problem is that the previous poster missed the point that the other posts have articulated and managed to take a cheap shot at other's hard- and creative, work.
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Re: General Discussion

Post by Adventure Temple Trail » Fri Feb 07, 2014 10:51 am

DumbJaques wrote: The religion was full of garbage; stop asking about Wicca, jesus. It's fine to ask about Samhain or other folk religion topics, but requiring people to know what Wiccans pretend to call that in between arranging their crystals and spelling magic with a 'k' is dumb.
Eh, I can't speak to the rest of this post, but I don't think it's a big problem when notable new religious movements or recently-devised (and therefore dubious-seeming) religious groups get asked about on a one-off or two-off basis per tournament. Certainly, a stroll through your average college campus makes it clear that Wicca is part of the fabric of what people our age believe and practice today, even if it seems really silly to non-Wiccans.
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Re: General Discussion

Post by gyre and gimble » Fri Feb 07, 2014 7:11 pm

Okay, I posted somewhere earlier that bonuses for this set were all over the place in terms of difficulty. Let's take a look at Packet 1 (Penn A and Louisville) to see what I meant by that.

1. Swing Riots / Poor Laws / Rebecca Riots
This has two hard parts (Swing/Rebecca) and I don't think Poor Laws is a particularly easy easy-part to make up for that.
2. Fermi's golden rule / Dirac / Casimir
This has a clearly gettable hard part (Fermi's golden rule) and a tough middle part (Casimir), both of which are in my opinion easier than Swing Riots and Rebecca Riots.
3. North Korea / Jang / being fed to dogs
This is a really popular and recent news story. There was probably no team that didn't get North Korea, and the "being fed to dogs" was a major headline for several days when the story came out. I think this bonus was very clearly much easier than the previous two.
4. The End of the Road / Maryland / Giles Goat-Boy
Here's what I hold to be a very well chosen regular-difficulty bonus. Someone who's looked into John Barth's work should be able to 30 it, someone who is experienced at quizbowl and knows a decent bit about Barth should get 20, and I guess the easy part is super easy but whatever.
5. CPE Bach / The Israelites in the Desert / The Art of Fugue
Okay, CPE Bach is way too hard to be a middle part especially without The Israelites in the Desert, and The Israelites in the Desert is pretty damn hard for a hard part anyway (but let's ignore that and say it's acceptable as a hard part). On top of that you have to know The Art of Fugue just to get 10? This is a ridiculously difficult bonus that belongs in an ACF Nationals set.
6. De Profundis / Wilde / Salome
All right, first we learn that the first part was written by a guy who was jailed and was involved in a libel case. Plus it's a letter about romanticism and about art. I'm not saying De Profundis is not an okay hard part, just that it's not difficult to guess what this is based on peripheral knowledge of De Profundis. And that's fine if all your other bonuses were regular difficulty, but since they're not, it makes this a pretty easy hard part. Wilde is a gimme-10, and Salome a gimme-20 (John the Baptist and Herod are mentioned) for anyone who knows that Wilde wrote a play called Salome, which is a lot of people. This bonus is almost infinitely easier than the previous one.
7. Duns Scotus / Sentences / Porphyry
Now here's a bonus with two middle parts and a hard part. Duns Scotus is not an easy part by any means, since hardly anyone covers him until they take a collegiate course on medieval philosophy and so most players are forced to rely on knowing who "Doctor Subtilis" is to pull a 10 on this bonus. Porphyry is the other middle part, though I'd say he's definitely on the hard side. Sentences is the hard part, though compared to the rest of this set it could be another difficult middle part. So I don't know, maybe this bonus actually had three middle parts?
8. lithium / nucleophilicity / Shapiro
I don't know anything about chemistry but this bonus seems pretty good.
9. Black Tariff / Tyler / Walker Tariff
Here's another good regular-difficulty bonus. A well chosen easy part that isn't forced but is definitely gettable by lower-level teams, a middle part that most people have heard of but still requires specific knowledge to answer (Walker), and a challenging but important hard part (Black).
10. Smithson / Kent State / Olmsted
This bonus has either two difficult easy parts or two easy middle parts (Smithson, Olmsted), since Spiral Jetty and Central Park are both very famous things. On top of that, Kent State isn't too hard to figure out when you're asked for a university and a Pulitzer-winning photograph of people getting killed there. So another bonus where all three parts hover around the "middle difficulty" range.
11. Identity Card / Darwish / horses
I think this is another great regular-difficulty bonus, though Darwish may be on the hard side for a middle part.
12. fulgurites / amorphous / tektites
I know nothing about this stuff so I will not comment.
13. Carnation / Salazar / FRELIMO
I think this is a pretty good bonus though the easy part (Salazar) is on the hard side.
14. thunderbird / rabbit / wendigo
Rabbit is too hard to be the middle part (the other two are fine). The two clues given are Nanabozho, which I think pretty much nobody knows about, and that one lives on the moon in Chinese myth. That's real tough for just 20 points. I think this bonus is another one that could easily be in an ACF Nationals set.
15. feminism / Butler / bell hooks
A good regular-difficulty bonus.
16. Joseph / Potiphar's Wife / coat of many colors
Joseph and coat of many colors are both easy parts, especially considering the average difficulty of easy parts in this set. I mean, how many people haven't heard of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, which you mention at the end of the question?
17. Nathan the Wise / Decameron / Emilia Galotti
No problems here, in my opinion.
18. Brazil / Encilhamento / cafe com leite
Encilhamento and cafe com leite are both definitely hard parts. I don't even know which was meant to be the middle part here. I'll admit I'm no expert on Brazilian history but I'm fairly sure that neither of these are well-known enough to warrant requiring it for 20 points.
19. adrenal / Addison / 10
Adrenal is perfectly fine as an easy part. I think Addison's disease is much easier than all the other hard parts in this set, but I can't back that up because I don't know biology. 10 is definitely easy for the middle part since most high school biology courses teach you that trophic levels lose 10% energy in biomass with each increasing level. At any rate, there's no way this is the same difficulty as Encilhamento or cafe com leite (again, I don't know which of those is supposed to be easier).
20. Lichtenstein / Mickey / Ben-Day
Great regular-difficulty bonus.
21. Smithson / Gehry / The Matter of Time
Okay, ignoring the repeat, here's evidence that even you guys think Smithson given Spiral Jetty is too easy to be a middle part! (Note: this version of the Smithson question only describes Spiral Jetty and doesn't name it, whereas the previous one names it.) Otherwise, I think this is a great bonus and The Matter of Time is way cool.

The main takeaway from this is that it's impossible to tell what the difficulty goal of this tournament actually was because your "bell curve" is more like a uniform distribution. I hope this doesn't sound like I'm just shitting on all the bonuses and that the analysis was actually helpful. I understand that perception of difficulty is subjective, but even under my personal subjective framework this tournament had way more bonus variability than any other tournament I've ever played. So I do think that I'm onto something. I'll qualify that I enjoyed this tournament anyway, but it was damn annoying when we're playing a close game and we get slapped with that CPE Bach bonus when the other team deals with Wilde.
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Re: General Discussion

Post by Bloodwych » Fri Feb 07, 2014 7:41 pm

gyre and gimble wrote: 6. De Profundis / Wilde / Salome
This was changed to De Profundis / Wilde / Vera after the first mirrors. Sorry that happened.
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Re: General Discussion

Post by Galadedrid Damodred » Fri Feb 07, 2014 10:28 pm

Ike wrote:
Emily Krok wrote: I don't care whether you take issue with a dude's preference of tournament [and honestly, it read more like a poorly worded explanation of why he liked SUBMIT than a dig at DRAGOON] but this reads like an attack on SUBMIT, which is lame because you haven't read SUBMIT. The Kenneth Arrow question sucks and there were two questions with tactics clues [although people seem to still be arguing about whether or not they're useful] but those are 3 questions and, who knows, maybe SUBMIT also had some creative questions in it. If you want to flout DRAGOON's questions as being more creative than SUBMIT's, sure, although that's a weird thing to argue about as it's a completely subjective quality for questions to have, but going after SUBMIT as it seems you're doing here is unnecessary.
No it is not an attack on SUBMIT, and I'm sorry if it came off that way. I am summarizing what I think Sam Bailey, Matt Jackson - specifically about the tactics clues of questionable of buzzability, and others seem to be saying about some of the cluing in the tournament. My problem isn't with the tournament's questions - as I stated in my above post I haven't seen much of them; my problem is that the previous poster missed the point that the other posts have articulated and managed to take a cheap shot at other's hard- and creative, work.
Hey let's just move on and stop making a big deal out of one poorly worded phrase. I'm an inexperienced poster and I typed something up in haste without reading through all the previous comments because I didn't want to miss the entire discussion; I've already said I won't do that again. I would, however, like to talk about two things in more detail: tactics clues and bonuses.

First, military tactics. I agree that it is not covered in school very much and probably not useful to most people. However, there are in fact people who read about military tactics in an "amateur historian" sense, myself among them. There is a wealth of literature on the subject (in fact I've just been skimming through an Oxford University Press book called "100 Decisive Battles from Ancient Times to the Present") and it comes up in Military/History channel shows, magazine articles, etc. So I think it's actually a really good idea to use important tactics clues that are unique to specific battles in order to reward people who have read about them in more than just a "these were the generals, this was the result" sense. If I'm among the minority for caring about this, so be it. But those clues are definitely not "unbuzzable" if they're done right, which I think they were for this tournament.

Second, bonus difficulty. Usually when people complain about this, it boils down to some middle parts being harder than others. This tends to be exaggerated in teams' minds by what they know and don't know, but in the case of SUBMIT I think Stephen et al. have a point. If you look at his post, the issue (for that packet at least) goes beyond easy-middle-hard sometimes being easy-hard-hard and actually has several variations, including middle-hard-ridiculously hard and middle-middle-middle. In my opinion, the former is evidence of too light an editing hand being used on submitted questions, while the latter is an example of someone not knowing enough or thinking enough to realize that there's no difficulty gradient among the chosen topics. There are always going to be some "gimme 20s" or "hard 20s" in a tournament, but the fact that the anomalous bonuses are often anomalous in different ways is a warning flag. Someone let me know if this doesn't make any sense because I'm not a great explainer.
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