writer training-cum-tournament idea

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writer training-cum-tournament idea

Post by setht » Wed May 14, 2014 4:43 pm

John Lawrence and I have cooked up another one of our harebrained schemes. We would like to oversee a project meant to provide inexperienced collegiate writers with an opportunity to practice writing some questions (probably collegiate regular difficulty), see those questions played on, and receive plenty of feedback from experienced writers/editors (lengthy discussion of theoretical underpinnings available upon request). One side effect should be the production of some amount of playable material, which will either take the form of one or more wacky side events, or a full-on regular tournament.

Who's doing what: People who want experience and feedback on writing collegiate questions will be writing the questions—probably something like 10-20 questions per person. You don't have to have previous experience writing collegiate questions, but you should have some experience writing questions at some level, and you should have some familiarity with what regular difficulty questions look like. The editors will provide initial feedback on ideas for answers; then we'll ask writers to playtest raw versions of their questions with the rest of the writer pool; then the editors will provide extensive feedback on the questions, followed by one or possibly multiple rounds of rewrites.

John and I will be editing a bunch of categories and providing feedback. We are currently in negotiations with history and bio/chem editors (who would then edit and provide feedback in those categories). If those negotiations pan out and it looks like a full tournament is going to work better, we'll do a full tournament; otherwise, we'll assemble whatever we receive into one or more short side events.

Everyone else is hopefully playing the side event(s)/tournament.

When is this happening: Writing, feedback, and editing will happen this summer. If we're running the fruits of our labor in side event form, then we'll probably aim to have things ready for VCU Open/second summer open weekend. If instead we're producing a full tournament, then perhaps we'll run some time in October, or maybe January. But in any case, the work of producing the tournament will have to wrap up by the end of the summer.

What's in it for me: For writers, an opportunity for personal growth and the honing of one's craft—probably no money. For the wider community, hopefully a fun event to play, and a somewhat improved writer pool. For editors, warm fuzzies—probably no money.

The money part might change.

How will you decide on side event(s) vs. full tournament: The full tournament has the advantage of feeling more real, I guess. The side event has the advantages of not necessarily requiring additional editors; allowing awkward numbers of writers in different topics (e.g. 12 astronomy writers and 2 literature writers); hopefully having a natural home in VCU Open weekend; and other stuff. Personally, I'm leaning toward the side event(s) plan. If that's what we wind up doing, we'll take whatever we receive from the writers, then go with community opinion on whether we should present e.g. 6 packets of literature, 3 packets of physics, 4 packets of myth, 2 packets of fine arts, and 1 packet of earth science, or 16 packets of mixed questions with a funky distribution.

What kinds of questions are you looking for: We will probably aim for regular collegiate difficulty. We want tossups that are 7 lines long (10 points Times New Roman, 1 inch margins). If we're going the side event(s) route, we might stick with just tossups. Or we might also ask for bonuses (and certainly if we're doing a full tournament we'll obviously have bonuses).

How do I sign up to write: Send me an email (satelite@gmail.com). It would be awesome to get lots of responses, but I guess if we get too many we might have to cut off sign-ups.

For now, the following categories are available: literature (John), physics/math/astro/earth science (Seth), fine arts (John), myth (Seth). If you'd like to write some other category, you can let me know; we might add some other categories (and certainly if we go with a full tournament we will add the rest of a normal distribution).

Keep in mind what you're signing up for (if accepted): writing 10-20 questions, probably regular difficulty, 7-line tossups; writing them in the next month and a half; playtesting them with a group of your peers; receiving feedback from the editors; rewriting accordingly, and then possibly further cycles of feedback and revision. You will probably receive $0 for this.


Let us know (here or by email) if you have questions or comments.

-Seth
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Re: writer training-cum-tournament idea

Post by ThisIsMyUsername » Tue Jun 03, 2014 3:03 pm

This is happening. Auroni Gupta and Matt Bollinger have joined our mentoring/editing team. All players who are interested in writing for should please let Seth and me know by this Friday. We hope to have all the logistical details ironed out and sent to you by the end of this weekend.
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Re: writer training-cum-tournament idea

Post by TylerV » Tue Jun 03, 2014 5:17 pm

I sent an email expressing interest in this around two weeks ago. Is this upcoming logistics email going to be the first email sent out or did I miss some sort of conformation email?
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Re: writer training-cum-tournament idea

Post by ThisIsMyUsername » Tue Jun 03, 2014 5:24 pm

TylerV wrote:I sent an email expressing interest in this around two weeks ago. Is this upcoming logistics email going to be the first email sent out or did I miss some sort of conformation email?
Seth received your e-mail and forwarded it to me. I was under the impression that he was going to respond to it to confirm, since you sent it only to him. Other than that, though, there have not been logistical e-mails yet. We're waiting to see how many writers we have, and what categories they're interested in, before we finalize our plans. That should be sent out this weekend.
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Re: writer training-cum-tournament idea

Post by setht » Wed Jun 04, 2014 10:27 am

ThisIsMyUsername wrote:
TylerV wrote:I sent an email expressing interest in this around two weeks ago. Is this upcoming logistics email going to be the first email sent out or did I miss some sort of conformation email?
Seth received your e-mail and forwarded it to me. I was under the impression that he was going to respond to it to confirm, since you sent it only to him. Other than that, though, there have not been logistical e-mails yet. We're waiting to see how many writers we have, and what categories they're interested in, before we finalize our plans. That should be sent out this weekend.
Tyler, I received your email but forgot to send you a response acknowledging receipt (until this morning)—sorry about that.

At the moment I have the following people signed up for this: Sameen Belal, Rohan Nag, Jacob O’Rourke, Ryan Rosenberg, Eddie Kim, Ewan Macaulay, Brittany Trang, Nick Collins, Morgan Venkus, Jason Cheng, Tyler Vaughan, Nikhil Desai, Kay Li, Alston Boyd, Rohith Nagari, and Joey Goldman*. If you sent me a sign-up email and are not on this list, please shoot me another email.

As John said, the editing lineup is John, Auroni, Matt B, and myself. Between us, we'll cover literature, history, science (hopefully not computer science, but if it shows up we'll work on it), myth, philosophy, fine arts, and social science. I believe we are not planning on covering religion, geography, trash, current events, or your choice.

Also as John said, we're aiming to send the writers an organizational email this weekend with the schedule and details of how this is going to work. So, we'll accept further sign-ups for another couple days.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to email me or post here.

Thanks,
-Seth

* edited to add more writer sign-ups.
Last edited by setht on Wed Jun 04, 2014 11:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: writer training-cum-tournament idea

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Wed Jun 04, 2014 10:43 am

setht wrote: I believe we are not planning on covering religion, geography, trash, current events, or your choice.
Does this mean that the final product will not contain these questions?
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Re: writer training-cum-tournament idea

Post by ThisIsMyUsername » Wed Jun 04, 2014 10:46 am

The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote:
setht wrote: I believe we are not planning on covering religion, geography, trash, current events, or your choice.
Does this mean that the final product will not contain these questions?
Thus far, no one has expressed interest in writing questions in these categories (except for one person who has PM'd me privately about the possibility of writing religion). If this continues to be the case, this means that the final product will not contain these questions.

Since, as it is, the subscription to the various categories is rather uneven, chances are good that rather than being one tournament, this will end up being a series of short category-specific events, which presumably could be played as doubles. But we'll see if other writers joining up in the next couple of days changes this.
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Re: writer training-cum-tournament idea

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Fri Jun 06, 2014 5:21 pm

If nobody is writing those categories, then I'll gladly write them, though I can avoid the Modern World if people wish for me to do so. I'm willing and able to write lots of history as well (and would like to work on my philosophy writing to boot).
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Re: writer training-cum-tournament idea

Post by Adventure Temple Trail » Wed Jun 11, 2014 1:51 am

It seems to me like a huge amount of question material (and editing talent!) would sort of go to waste, or at least be poorly allocated, if this didn't coalesce into a full set; I can't speak for everyone who's signed up below, but I personally would feel like my work mattered more, and I'd be more proud of it, and I'd be motivated to try and write better, if it went towards a real bona-fide set played by real people, rather than if my questions went down a funnel into practice packets or something. What's more, it seems like there's currently a dearth of announced tournaments for the fall, so unless that suddenly changes, there's a spot available for this in early October or late November. (And you'd have a ton of ready-made hosts available to get this up and running nationally, between Chicago and the many schools where writers for this tournament are or will be at in the fall!)

Religion questions are cool and should exist -- I encourage folks to sign up to write them, particularly if they already have interest in myth questions or historical eras where religion is at stake. That said, if there's not enough interest to get 1/1 per packet written and the editing team has to do something like roll geo/CE into .5/.5, have only .5/.5 religion, and skip trash to make the numerics work for a full set (or even roll religion/myth into a single 1/1), they could do so and I don't think anyone would mind.

If it made the critical difference between this being a ragged bunch of practice packets and being a full set, I'd be willing to dash off 8/8 religion or so for you guys.
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Re: writer training-cum-tournament idea

Post by Rococo A Go Go » Wed Jun 11, 2014 2:24 am

I'm willing to write current events for this (and run a mirror) if that means it will become a full tournament that runs this fall.
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Re: writer training-cum-tournament idea

Post by Bartleby » Wed Jun 11, 2014 10:04 am

Along Nick's lines, I would be willing to write trash for this if there was interest in a) making it a full tournament and b) seeing that tournament include trash.
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Re: writer training-cum-tournament idea

Post by setht » Wed Jun 11, 2014 10:28 am

Hey,

I appreciate the various offers of freelance questions, but I think there are good reasons for continuing to target a bunch of side events as the ultimate product of this project. To my mind, the main point of this project is providing writing experience and feedback to a bunch of interested writers—that is, the process is more important than the product. I think it makes sense to let the participating writers choose how many questions they want to write in various categories with no restrictions, rather than shoehorning them into a standard distribution (or something close to a standard distribution). We've already started doing that, and based on sign-ups so far, we are not going to be anywhere near a standard distribution (even setting aside the fact that people are signing up to write 20 tossups, rather than a mix of tossups and bonuses). I don't want to go back to the writers and say, "thanks for signing up to write 20 tossups in categories you selected; now we're going to throw that all over, you're all going to write 10/10 or 15/15 or whatever, and we need 3 times as many sign-ups in physics, etc." The current approach also gives us flexibility: if a couple writers are unable to meet their commitments for whatever reason, that's not a problem in the "side events" model, but those questions would have to be replaced in the "full, regular tournament" model. I can't speak for the other editors, but I am happy to provide copious feedback on a set of questions in the categories I signed on for; I am not happy to write a full tournament's worth of those questions, or anything close to it.

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Re: writer training-cum-tournament idea

Post by vinteuil » Wed Jun 11, 2014 10:49 am

setht wrote:Hey,

I appreciate the various offers of freelance questions, but I think there are good reasons for continuing to target a bunch of side events as the ultimate product of this project. To my mind, the main point of this project is providing writing experience and feedback to a bunch of interested writers—that is, the process is more important than the product. I think it makes sense to let the participating writers choose how many questions they want to write in various categories with no restrictions, rather than shoehorning them into a standard distribution (or something close to a standard distribution). We've already started doing that, and based on sign-ups so far, we are not going to be anywhere near a standard distribution (even setting aside the fact that people are signing up to write 20 tossups, rather than a mix of tossups and bonuses). I don't want to go back to the writers and say, "thanks for signing up to write 20 tossups in categories you selected; now we're going to throw that all over, you're all going to write 10/10 or 15/15 or whatever, and we need 3 times as many sign-ups in physics, etc." The current approach also gives us flexibility: if a couple writers are unable to meet their commitments for whatever reason, that's not a problem in the "side events" model, but those questions would have to be replaced in the "full, regular tournament" model. I can't speak for the other editors, but I am happy to provide copious feedback on a set of questions in the categories I signed on for; I am not happy to write a full tournament's worth of those questions, or anything close to it.

-Seth
Seth, is there any chance that you might have enough sign-ups to be able to turn a large portion of the questions into a tournament, and then all of the "excess" (more popular categories) into some side events? I think the reason Matt posted above is not so much internal to this tournament—it's that there are large numbers of writers working on this who might otherwise be working on some sort of housewrite etc.—and that those sort of events seem to be pretty thin on the ground right now. In other words—I don't think anybody's looking for ALL of this project to turn into a tournament—but we would like A tournament at least to play next fall.
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Re: writer training-cum-tournament idea

Post by Adventure Temple Trail » Wed Jun 11, 2014 11:33 am

setht wrote:Hey,

I appreciate the various offers of freelance questions, but I think there are good reasons for continuing to target a bunch of side events as the ultimate product of this project...
I didn't realize I was running counter to the spirit of the project by posting -- John's posts made it seem like you guys were still weighing the small side-tournaments approach against the one-big-tournament approach and hoping that the latter could coalesce. I wouldn't have posted if I were certain that wasn't the case. Sorry about that.
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Re: writer training-cum-tournament idea

Post by Bartleby » Wed Jun 11, 2014 1:13 pm

RyuAqua wrote:
setht wrote:Hey,

I appreciate the various offers of freelance questions, but I think there are good reasons for continuing to target a bunch of side events as the ultimate product of this project...
I didn't realize I was running counter to the spirit of the project by posting -- John's posts made it seem like you guys were still weighing the small side-tournaments approach against the one-big-tournament approach and hoping that the latter could coalesce. I wouldn't have posted if I were certain that wasn't the case. Sorry about that.
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Re: writer training-cum-tournament idea

Post by ThisIsMyUsername » Wed Jun 11, 2014 1:34 pm

All writers are required to submit their full production lineup (i.e. a list of how many questions they will write in each category) to us by tonight. After we review that, we will be in a position to know exactly how many questions would need to be produced, and in what categories, in order to transform this into a full tournament (assuming that all the writers come through with their questions). If that number of questions is small, and could be filled with free-lance contributions, I would be willing to be in charge of seeing that transformation through. (And some people have kindly come forward already, to offer services.) However, Seth has made it clear that his involvement as an editor/mentor extends only to working with the writers who are signing up for the training program. Auroni or Matt Bollinger may feel the same way; they haven't told me yet. So, many of those free-lance contributions would need to be from writers who are qualified enough to produce questions that require no further editing. As you can see, quite a few things need to fall in place in order for producing a full tournament to be feasible. I would not discount this possibility entirely, but it seems the less likely eventuality, at this stage. I will report back later this week or at the beginning of next week, with a status update.
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Re: writer training-cum-tournament idea

Post by ThisIsMyUsername » Thu Jun 12, 2014 1:18 pm

So, I'm pleased to announce that the numbers work out nearly perfectly. In order for this to turn into a full tournament (which, in honor of the mentor-trainee relationship, I would title: PADAWAN), we need the bonuses to be written by people who are not the trainees. I've secured writers for some of these categories, but we would still need the following:

- 0/15 Physics
- 2/2 Computer Science
- 0/13 Misc. Science (spread among Earth Science, Astronomy, and Math)
- 0/5 Social Science
- 0/5 Mythology
- 0/20 History (mixed among American, European, and World)

Because these questions will edited by me, rather than the full team that's doing the mentoring, I need all of the Science and Mythology to be written by people who have enough experience writing/editing questions for those categories at regular difficulty that they will need no oversight from me (because I cannot possibly edit those categories for content, rather than for style). I would obviously prefer that that is true of the people doing the History and Social Science writing too! (But I can manage better in those categories...)

Our writing schedule is organized in such a way that these writers would be brought in on July 16th, at which point half the tournament's tossups will be written and the answers for the remaining half will have been chosen. The writer will then need to propose the answer-lines for the entire complement of bonuses for the category in question. They would have till the last week of August / first week of September to complete their assignment.

If you are interested in writing any of these portions of the set, please contact me sometime in the next week. If I have not secured a full roster of writers for these questions by June 21st, this tournament will revert back to being a series of tossup-only side events, rather than a full tournament.
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Re: writer training-cum-tournament idea

Post by ThisIsMyUsername » Thu Jun 12, 2014 1:25 pm

It also wouldn't hurt if someone offered to write 10-20 Literature bonuses, so I don't have to write all of them.
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Re: writer training-cum-tournament idea

Post by Peter13 » Fri Jun 13, 2014 8:48 pm

How will playtesting work?
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Re: writer training-cum-tournament idea

Post by setht » Sat Jun 14, 2014 10:30 am

Peter13 wrote:How will playtesting work?
If we do it, it'll be small sessions where the writers show up and play on each others' (unedited) questions. The idea is for writers to get a feel for where people buzz, what kinds of answers people give, etc. (and see typos or awkward phrasings they maybe didn't catch initially) on the original versions of the questions, rather than to playtest the edited versions of the questions.

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Re: writer training-cum-tournament idea

Post by ThisIsMyUsername » Sat Jun 14, 2014 10:34 am

Enough experienced writers/editors have graciously volunteered their efforts that PADAWAN is now official. (Over the next week, I'll be sorting out who will write what bonuses. So, if you wrote to me to volunteer, and I haven't replied yet, you'll be hearing from me shortly.) If people would like to start figuring out in the Scheduling Reform thread when this tournament should be slotted in, that's a conversation that can happen now.
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Re: writer training-cum-tournament idea

Post by Peter13 » Sat Jun 14, 2014 10:57 am

I would love to improve my question skills, but would I be able to playtest these sets (just for the fun of helping out other new writers) without contributing any initial packet of my own?
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Re: writer training-cum-tournament idea

Post by MorganV » Sat Jun 14, 2014 2:09 pm

Now that this is a real tournament, will the writers be paid?
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Re: writer training-cum-tournament idea

Post by ThisIsMyUsername » Sat Jun 14, 2014 4:33 pm

Yes.
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Re: writer training-cum-tournament idea

Post by setht » Sat Jun 14, 2014 9:03 pm

Peter13 wrote:I would love to improve my question skills, but would I be able to playtest these sets (just for the fun of helping out other new writers) without contributing any initial packet of my own?
I'll check with the others, but my inclination is to keep any playtesting sessions "in-house"—I do think it would be useful for writers to see how their (unedited) questions play, but if we do that then I think it might be a good idea to restrict the playtesting audience to fellow writers.

-Seth
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