George Oppen: The Essence of Prompting

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George Oppen: The Essence of Prompting

Post by ThisIsMyUsername » Wed Feb 25, 2015 12:16 pm

I'm not interested in commenting on the specific questions in this tournament, or in taking sides in the debate surrounding the contents of the Plumbers question, in particular because I do not have any of the historical expertise required to contribute to the factual debate on which it hinges. However, I am quite invested in the rules question being discussed, and I'm quite disturbed by the prompting philosophy being advocated by Mike Cheyne and Cody.

Mike and Cody both appear to be saying that: "In order to be deserving of a prompt, a given answer must apply to all clues". Cody goes further to argue that this is a fundamental rule of prompting. This is simply not the case.

Here is the second line of a tossup on Swann's Way from ACF Nationals 2013:
This novel discusses the nature of sadism after its narrator spies on a young girl who is goaded by her lesbian lover to spit on a photograph of her dead father. In its final pages, its narrator wistfully contemplates the changes that have taken place in the Bois de Boulogne. The central character of its longest section falls in love with a woman because of her resemblance to Botticelli’s painting of Zipporah, and then becomes consumed with jealousy over her. This novel introduces its narrator’s love interest Gilberte, as well as the “little clan” of the Verdurins. It begins with an “overture” about its narrator’s wish for his mother to kiss him good night, and focuses on a man who becomes infatuated with the courtesan Odette. Its narrator recalls his childhood in Combray after tasting a tea-soaked madeleine. For 10 points, name this novel by Marcel Proust, the first volume of In Search of Lost Time.
This tossup includes a prompt instruction on In Search of Lost Time until mentioned. However, according to the doctrine that Mike and Cody are suggesting, such a prompt is not allowable, because the specificity of several earlier clues means that they are not true (as written) for In Search of Lost Time as a whole, but only for Swann's Way specifically. For example, the events described in the second sentence do not take place in the "final pages" of In Search of Lost Time as whole; they take place in the "final pages" of the first volume, which is only a little bit of the way through the work, and therefore make sense only when applied to the first volume.

Other similar cases crop up regularly. Here are the first two sentences from a tossup on Haydn's London Symphonies from ACF Regionals 2010
The first one of these works features a bassoon chord meant to imitate a fart. Another one quotes from the Croatian folk song “a little girl treads on a brook” in the final movement and gets its name from the opening timpani rhythm.
Let us leave aside the fact that the writer/editor of this question doesn't understand what a chord is. What happens if someone buzzes in on the second sentence and says "Symphonies by Haydn"? According to Mike and Cody, they must be negged rather than prompted, because the first sentence is only correct for the first of the London Symphonies (No. 93) and not the first of Haydn's Symphonies overall (No. 1), since the latter possesses no such bassoon fart effect.

It seems to me that such refusals to prompt would be ridiculous and fundamentally lacking in player empathy. It should be a fundamental tenet of "prompt theory" that a player should not be expected to know the referents of the earlier clues in the tossup that he did not buzz on; if he'd known those clues, he would have buzzed earlier!

If it were the case that the Plumbers were a subset of CREEP, Marshall's decision to err on the side of caution, and say the superset, expecting a prompt if the subset were the answer, would be an entirely reasonable one, even if the earlier clues were not strictly correct for CREEP due to their specificity. In fact, it would be exactly the kind of expectation that modern "prompt theory" should be designed to foster, for so long as it decides not to use "anti-prompt" as a mechanism. When confronted with a clue that could refer to a superset or subset, cautious players will always default to giving the superset in hopes of being prompted.

The only sensible rebuttal to the protests lodged by Marshall, Chris Ray, etc. is one that draws upon Matt Weiner's rationale: that while those players should have been prompted if the Plumbers were a subset of CREEP, that "if" is simply denied by the historical facts. Their strategy backfired because the thing they thought was a superset is not a superset at all; it is merely an associated thing, and associated things do not deserve prompts.

Any other rationale for denying this protest demands that players should know the referents of the clues they didn't buzz on, which is a preposterously non-empathetic position to take towards players, and is not consonant with the purpose of prompts.
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Re: Specific Question Discussion

Post by Ras superfamily » Wed Feb 25, 2015 12:30 pm

Cody wrote:In order to be deserving of a prompt, the answer must apply to all the clues
I completely agree with John's post and am curious what the justification is for Cody's (and others') quoted position.
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Re: Specific Question Discussion

Post by Matt Weiner » Wed Feb 25, 2015 12:40 pm

You have to say the right answer to get points. This requires no further justification.

The fact that a question was "bad" or "non-empathetic" is not protestable. If you think the writer has written a bad question, complain about it here. But expecting to get credit for a WRONG ANSWER because "this one clue applied to it and I didn't know the other clues" or "I wanted this to be a tossup on CREEP rather than the Plumbers" is not workable in the protest system. Trying to force "the question was bad" or "the question was fine but I want my answer accepted because I believe for political reasons that it is morally equivalent to the actual answer" into protests, rather than writing standards where it belongs, has led to the current situation where people literally do not understand the most basic point about how quizbowl works.

This (hypothetical Haydn, etc example) is just the Rhode Island thing all over again. You have to say the right answer. Right answers are right and wrong answers are wrong. "The question was bad" is not grounds for protest. "I didn't know the leadin" is not grounds for protest. "I want to buzz on the eighth clue of a question and ignore all the clues surrounding it" is not grounds for protest. Any question that properly specifies a correct answer must be played as written; it is not the job of the TD/protests to decide which questions are good or bad.

The CREEP thing isn't even that -- it's demanding an answer that is simply wrong for every clue in the tossup be accepted because someone has proclaimed that their historical interpretations of moral responsibility should trump actual facts. It's borderline trolling to even bring it up; I find it implausible that anyone arguing in good faith really thinks that we should accept as an answer "CREEP," "the Nixon administration," "the expansion of Presidential power since the New Deal," "Richard Nixon's paranoiac personality," "Article II of the Constitution," "the American Revolution," "man's fallen nature," or anything else that they have decided is actually "responsible for" the Plumbers on whatever level, as opposed to the only answer for which the clues are actually true on the level of fact. It's self-evident that quizbowl is unworkable under such a ludicrous framework.
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Re: Specific Question Discussion

Post by Cody » Wed Feb 25, 2015 12:51 pm

Often, tossups will instruct moderators to prompt on supersets that apply for nearly all, but not all, clues. This is okay in my book (I've done it). The key distinction is that the promptable answer does apply to many clues in the tossup (perhaps "all" was a bit too hyperbolic). There are even situations where prompts due to a specific clue are deserved, as I'm sure I've done.

This is not the case for CREEP -- you cannot say that any of the clues apply to CREEP (implicit in my argument is that CREEP is not a superset of the Plumbers, which is why none of the clues can apply!). So, should you prompt on an answer to which none of the clues apply? Emphatically no.

Separately (and more importantly to this situation and my argument above), can you accept a protest that one deserved a prompt on In Search of Lost Time or Haydn's symphonies for those questions if there was no prompt? Not if it has been ruled out by the clues, as in your examples. Protests carry a much more stringent standard and should be denied in both the cases you brought up.

edit:
ThisIsMyUsername wrote:Any other rationale for denying this protest demands that players should know the referents of the clues they didn't buzz on, which is a preposterously non-empathetic position to take towards players, and is not consonant with the purpose of prompts.
Protests are not about "player empathy"; they are about whether one is right or wrong. Wrong answers that one might prompt on out of "player empathy" are not acceptable under the protest rules. See Matt Weiner's post above and the many other posts about protests on the forums for an explication of the purpose of protests.
Last edited by Cody on Wed Feb 25, 2015 1:02 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Specific Question Discussion

Post by Tees-Exe Line » Wed Feb 25, 2015 12:52 pm

Matt Weiner wrote:The CREEP thing isn't even that -- it's demanding an answer that is simply wrong for every clue in the tossup be accepted because someone has proclaimed that their historical interpretations of moral responsibility should trump actual facts.
This is not a matter of historical interpretation of moral responsibility. It is a matter of historical record. It's not surprising that you identify with the criminal defense of a petty, paranoid, vindictive, tyrannical man at the head of a vast, corrupt organization, but outside the Nixon Presidential Library (and actually, not even there), the baselessness of that defense is universally accepted.

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Re: Specific Question Discussion

Post by Cheynem » Wed Feb 25, 2015 12:53 pm

I won't speak for Cody, so he can explain his reasoning.

In the case of Swann's Way, it is literally the first volume of In Search of Lost Time. It is literally a subset of it. The same is true for London symphonies for Haydn's symphonies--they are literally a subset. In these cases, even if the clue wordings perhaps rule something out, the broad answer of "In Search of Lost Time" and "Haydn's symphonies" are true for at least some individual clues in the question.

"Plumbers," which were an organization in their own right, were not a subset of CREEP. As historians and Marshall have pointed out (correctly), they had a very close relationship, which is the point of the Watergate scandal, but "very close relationship" and "interconnection" are not the same thing as literally being a subset of each other. As I've pointed out, this would be like saying "the CIA" for a tossup on "the Contras" because the CIA helped fund the Contras. The point of the Contra sandal WAS that the CIA/U.s. military were involved, but it would be disastrous for quizbowl to adopt such a system of prompting.

Perhaps I was being unclear, but I support Matt Weiner's assertion that the plumbers are not a subset of CREEP. My only point in going through the clues and showing they do not apply to CREEP is that contra the examples John posted, there are no (maybe a couple based on the shared membership thing) clues that actually apply to CREEP in the tossup. Like this isn't a case of player empathy because you didn't recognize an early clue, this is a case of just being incorrect all the way through. Perhaps this is another bad analogy, but it would be like giving ANOTHER volume of In Search of Lost Time as an answer instead of Swann's Way for your first example--clearly related, very similar, but not technically correct at any point in the tossup. Thus, while it would indeed be silly to chide Marshall for not knowing clues he didn't buzz on, the clue he actually did buzz on does not (based on my reading of the facts) apply to his answer either.

i was not trying to give a principle of prompting here; note that in the thread on Nazi women, I specifically argued that answers of Hitler Youth and German children, which are wrong at various points, should have received prompts because there were clues that literally referenced them. In this case, I do not see clues in the tossup that literally reference CREEP as opposed to the plumbers unless one uses the moral/legal equivalency argument that Marshall presents here, which I think is somewhat untenable for quizbowl purposes.

The one thing that could perhaps justify a prompt is the issue of "shared membership." I agree this could conceivably make Marshall's answer perhaps deserving of a prompt, but I don't know specifically who is being mentioned at which point in the tossup. I would argue that logic(for quizbowl, not historical) purposes is the best route to go for prompt purposes.
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Re: Specific Question Discussion

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Wed Feb 25, 2015 2:46 pm

Tees-Exe Line wrote:Ah, so the reality of history is just too complex for poor little quizbowl to wrap its hivemind around? Guess we better stick to bedtime stories then!
This is the worst, most blatantly bad-faith post I have seen in years. The board does not need you, or anyone, attempting to make every discussion about how special and brilliant you are. Knock it off.
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Re: Specific Question Discussion

Post by Ike » Wed Feb 25, 2015 5:02 pm

It seems to me that such refusals to prompt would be ridiculous and fundamentally lacking in player empathy. It should be a fundamental tenet of "prompt theory" that a player should not be expected to know the referents of the earlier clues in the tossup that he did not buzz on; if he'd known those clues, he would have buzzed earlier!
John, I think this is a situation where you don't have any hard and fast rules. In the case of the Haydn symphonies I agree, you should prompt. If you don't know that clue from the 92nd symphony, it is callous to neg anyone for saying Haydn symphonies, even though it is technically incorrect. In the case of Swann's Way, I also agree, because many of the clues in there apply to In Search of Lost and Time, and having an answer line that says "prompt on the first sentence, prompt on the third and fourth sentences, do not accept on the 2nd sentence" is cumbersome, and doesn't even factor in any buzzer delay. Furthermore, the requisite knowledge you are testing is satisfied by saying In Search of Lost Time and then prompting. I think if the author didn't want to prompt, he would have had to phrase every clue in a way that doesn't specify In Search of Lost Time.

However there are times where you don't have to prompt. If you're going to write on the Parable of the Grand Inquisitor, it is entirely plausible that you have no grounds for prompting, ever, on "The Brothers Karamazov." Just because the integers are a subset of the reals does not mean you should be prompting on an answer of "integers" for the "reals" or vice versa. I think, promptability is entirely context-dependent on the subject matter, and laying out a theory of prompting based on "player empathy" is incorrect; the subject matter at hand is what should determine promptability. As an example, if that London symphonies question began with the clue "The first one was written in 1792 and includes a bassoon fart," I think its fair for the question writer to strongly consider not prompting because you're off by a whole period of forty years; to me that amount of "wrongness" is not enough to warrant a prompt.
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Re: Specific Question Discussion

Post by theMoMA » Wed Feb 25, 2015 5:38 pm

I'd basically say that there are two types of prompts: permissive and mandatory ones. A mandatory prompt would be like, prompting on "Johnson" when you require "L. Johnson" or "LBJ." A permissive one would be an editor or writer deciding that, even though these things aren't perfectly nested within each other, there is a justification for a generous prompt (such as the two examples John offered above, where certain connecting language would technically rule an answer out, but a prompt still seems entirely justified).

I would argue that "should have been prompted" protests should be upheld, and a correct answer awarded outright, when the missing prompt was mandatory. I would argue that "should have been prompted" protests should be outright denied if the prompt was permissive, since it was by definition a judgment call, and the judgment rested with the writers or editors (or moderators), who elected not to prompt.

I can see the argument that "CREEP" should have been a permissive prompt on the "Plumbers" tossup, given the complex relationship between the two. It certainly appears (from Mike's detailed analysis, which I appreciate) that such a prompt is NOT mandatory, however, nor does it appear that CREEP should in fact have been a correct answer to the tossup. So I would say that the protest was correctly denied, even if a reasonable person could have written the tossup and generously concluded that a prompt on "CREEP" was warranted.

This highlights a pretty obvious truth: that it's incumbent on writers and editors to think of things like "hmm, maybe people will buzz with a similar answer," and to carefully think through what to do in case those answers are given.
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Re: Specific Question Discussion

Post by DumbJaques » Wed Feb 25, 2015 10:12 pm

I did protest the Plumbers question, but did so because I was under the impression there was a lot more connection between the groups than there actually seems to have been. To be fair, there's certainly a good reason to have that confusion - I've found several sources that describe Operation Gemstone (where I buzzed) as being carried out by CRP, and it was launched after the Plumbers placed Liddy in CRP to sort of streamline the nefarious scheming with the planning. I haven't looked up the earlier clues but I doubt they refer to CRP, and the murder clue seems like it obviously couldn't. So I don't really have a problem with the protest being denied at all.

I do have a few questions about the exact nature of prompt rules, which I hope we can all discuss without Matt repeating WRONG ANSWERS ARE WRONG (obviously not helpful because there is evident dissent on what counts as a wrong answer), or Marshall being utterly insane and accusing Matt of being Richard Fucking Nixon for advancing a totally reasonable argument.

Let's for the sake of discussion pretend that we all agree the Gemstone line, which is about J. Gordon Liddy, equally refers to both CRP and the Plumbers - does that deserve a prompt? I read Matt's interpretation to be "no," because the previous clues don't apply to that. But I've always been on the side of John's interpretation - and I (perhaps mistakenly) was under the impression that current rules were, too. But I recognize that this poses a real problem. For instance, it takes away the writer's ability to use "this woman" early in a question and then not worry about people negging with Justinian when it says "this ruler described in The Secret History..." or whatever later on.

Essentially, a more generous prompt policy betrays a logic that selectively applies the rule - we would never grant the Justinian protest, but John's Haydn protest seems much more reasonable. Of course, this is no logic at all, which is why Matt makes such a good argument. However, it still seems at odd with my sense (which I think most of us share) that you never want to punish someone for having more knowledge (except maybe Marshall).

I think Andrew has advanced a promising way out of this dilemma - making permissive prompts the responsibility of the writer/editor and really advocating for them. Basically, if I'm writing the Plumbers question, Matt's right - I don't have to include a prompt. But I would, because I think someone buzzing in and saying CRP there indicates a pretty reasonable degree of knowledge and I wouldn't want to punish them for it.
But I'd lobby for one critical modification: There is absolutely no need to have a rule that permissive prompt protests should be outright denied. That is, if I'm writing or editing, and I just forget to put in a permissive prompt (or more likely, there's a clue that absolutely WOULD have caused me to add such a prompt, but I just didn't know about that aspect of it). In this case, I hope someone does protest and allow me to address the issue. That is to say: Why should there be a sort of moral luck to this rule? If the same writer forgets to add a permissive prompt in one question but not the other, why should some players suffer and others not?

To be clear, this is TOTALLY distinct from arguing that permissive prompts should HAVE to be allowed. All this philosophy does is guarantee the editor has a chance to ensure his prompt-standards are adhered to deliberately rather than suffering from a writing oversight, and isn't that a central part of what protests are for?

If we can agree on the above standard (which seems to maintain the internal logic of Matt's protest rules but allow for a lot of John's empathy, which we have sympathy for), then let's be proactive about championing it. It's been several years now since my beloved anti-prompt seemed to gain widespread critical acceptance, but it's still not widespread enough that you can feel confident buzzing in by it. If we're going down the Hart Path (and I really hope we do so with this suggested modification), then let's do so with some measure of zeal.
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Re: Specific Question Discussion

Post by DumbJaques » Wed Feb 25, 2015 10:18 pm

Also, it occurs to me that the big counter-argument to my suggestion is that you'd get into situations were the same basic protest X is decided one way by editor Y and another by editor Z. This could surely raise some eyebrows. But, I'd argue that the current system is already set up that way - you're at the mercy of whether the writer of this particular tossup (or the editor) holds one prompt philosophy or the other. Actually, it's worse, because you're at the mercy of that AND the mercy of whether someone just forgot or didn't realize they should've put in a prompt. Under this standard, you at least take care of that second thing and, ultimately, don't meaningfully alter the first.

Now, I could maybe see how this could still create some trouble among small-minded coaches who raise hell over accusations of favoritism, etc. So I'd be prepared to say this wouldn't be a great de facto policy, right now, for the high school game. But this should not be a factor in college where, thank god, we are free to legislate rules based on what seems consistent and right to us rather than what Jeremy Gibbs will whine about/secede over. The worst you'd get in college is nutters going on HSQB and earning extended bans by bitching about their protests and resorting to stupid personal attacks. And, well, we've already got that.
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Re: Specific Question Discussion

Post by ThisIsMyUsername » Thu Feb 26, 2015 6:04 pm

Cody wrote:Often, tossups will instruct moderators to prompt on supersets that apply for nearly all, but not all, clues. This is okay in my book (I've done it). The key distinction is that the promptable answer does apply to many clues in the tossup (perhaps "all" was a bit too hyperbolic). There are even situations where prompts due to a specific clue are deserved, as I'm sure I've done.
Matt Weiner wrote:But expecting to get credit for a WRONG ANSWER because "this one clue applied to it and I didn't know the other clues" [...] is not workable in the protest system.

This (hypothetical Haydn, etc example) is just the Rhode Island thing all over again. You have to say the right answer. Right answers are right and wrong answers are wrong. "The question was bad" is not grounds for protest. "I didn't know the leadin" is not grounds for protest. "I want to buzz on the eighth clue of a question and ignore all the clues surrounding it" is not grounds for protest. Any question that properly specifies a correct answer must be played as written [...]
While this is certainly a reasonable position that one could argue for, in the abstract, it does not reflect the actual logic behind how questions are being written and how prompts are being decided in the majority of tournaments each year. Even people as rhetorically hard-line as Matt Weiner do not usually enact their own stances in their editing. Here are the first four sentences from a tossup from last year's History Bowl on the Beirut Barracks Bombing:
A month prior to this event, the May 17 Agreement was cancelled. A few months after this event, an American named Malcolm Kerr was murdered at a nearby university. One justification for this event was the gunfire support offered by the Arthur W. Radford and the John Rodgers. In the aftermath of this event, the U.S.S. New Jersey heavily shelled the Bekaa Valley.
This has a prompt instruction throughout for "Lebanese Civil War", even though an answer of "Lebanese Civil War" is incorrect for every single one of these clues, because the chronological markers "prior to this event", "after this event", "justification for this event", and "aftermath" would be completely wrong in relation to the war as a whole (all of these things took place in the middle of the war, rather than before or after it). Here, the prompt is purely motivated by the answer being a subset of a larger conflict, rather than because the majority of the clues are also correct for the superset answer being prompted.

This is of course in no way invalidates Cody and Matt's arguments that their standards (that nearly every clue must correctly apply to the prompted thing in order for a prompt to be justified) should be used. But it certainly erodes Matt Weiner's historical/naturalistic attitude in all of his posts about protests that his stance is just the way quizbowl works and always has; in fact, quizbowl rarely works like this in reality. That Weiner's stance is merely rhetorical and is not supported by practice (even his own) can be confirmed by going through any of the major tournaments of the past few years to see when prompt instructions are given, for what answers, and why. In order for Weiner's stringent protest requirements to be practical, writing practice would need to be reformed quite a bit to conform to them.
theMoMA wrote:I'd basically say that there are two types of prompts: permissive and mandatory ones. A mandatory prompt would be like, prompting on "Johnson" when you require "L. Johnson" or "LBJ." A permissive one would be an editor or writer deciding that, even though these things aren't perfectly nested within each other, there is a justification for a generous prompt (such as the two examples John offered above, where certain connecting language would technically rule an answer out, but a prompt still seems entirely justified).

I would argue that "should have been prompted" protests should be upheld, and a correct answer awarded outright, when the missing prompt was mandatory. I would argue that "should have been prompted" protests should be outright denied if the prompt was permissive, since it was by definition a judgment call, and the judgment rested with the writers or editors (or moderators), who elected not to prompt.
I disagree with this dichotomous distinction, as Andrew has stated it, because it omits a crucial fact of the Haydn case: the second clue (about the Drumroll symphony) does not in any way distinguish between the superset (Haydn's Symphonies) and the subset that is its actual answer (London Symphonies). Someone buzzing on the second clue, who does not know the first clue has absolutely no way to know which answer is required.

The problem I have with what Andrew says here and with what Cody says earlier--when he suggests that protests should inherently carry a more stringent standard than prompts--is that it makes it impossible to know what to do when confronted by a clue like the second line of the Haydn tossup. Let us say that I know exactly what superset and subset it belongs to, but simply do not know the previous clue. What should I do? Do I buzz now, and say the superset, hoping to get prompted because most editors do that, but knowing that I will get an unprotestable neg if the editor happened not to include a prompt instruction (since there are no rules obliging him to do so)? Or do I wait another sentence, in the hopes that the next sentence will clarify which set is being sought, risking that my opponent knows the next clue and will beat me, even though he has less knowledge. The necessity in engaging in this kind of thinking--in which I need to guess the editors' whims or (even worse) rely on my knowledge of the editors' stance on this ideological question (from having read these forum posts) to guide my gameplay--is a basic characteristic of "bad quizbowl". Rules reforms need to be enacted to eliminate these situations.

What exactly should we do about them? To my mind, there are only three sensible positions:

(1) All common-links need to be written in such a way that every single sentence distinguishes the subset from its superset, so that you never need to rely on prior clues to know which the question is going for, provided you sufficiently understand the individual clue that you buzzed in on. This is the only situation in which Matt Weiner's approach makes sense.
(2) Subsets that are correct for the clue that you buzzed in on should always be either acceptable or anti-promptable, so that players can default to saying the subset that the clue they buzz in on indicates, and can retreat to the superset once they are anti-prompted.
(3) Any clue that fails to distinguish between superset and a subset, when the answer is the subset, should have a prompt instruction on the superset.

No one currently writes in style (1), and it would be impractical to implement, because research practices in question writing are simply not stringent enough for it to be realistic. Also, it would mean that (e.g.) a clue on Haydn's Drumroll Symphony in a London Symphonies tossup would always have to say "the eleventh of these", thus rather giving the game away. Option (2) has been tried in mACF formats (and quite common in NAQT, where components of common-links are usually acceptable), and I'm willing to support it, but people apparently are not very fond of it in mACF formats, and have decided that they don't want it to be part of standard quizbowl practice. This leaves Option (3), which I strongly advocate should become part of standard quizbowl practice.
DumbJaques wrote: There is absolutely no need to have a rule that permissive prompt protests should be outright denied. That is, if I'm writing or editing, and I just forget to put in a permissive prompt (or more likely, there's a clue that absolutely WOULD have caused me to add such a prompt, but I just didn't know about that aspect of it). In this case, I hope someone does protest and allow me to address the issue. That is to say: Why should there be a sort of moral luck to this rule? If the same writer forgets to add a permissive prompt in one question but not the other, why should some players suffer and others not?
This. Weiner and I had a 40-minute argument about this point in a rules reform IRC meeting last spring. Weiner's position seemed to be that questions have to be understood as reflecting the final intentions of the editor; therefore a lack of prompt instruction has to be treated as a refusal on the editor's part to prompt. Of course, as Chris has just pointed out, this is a practically-motivated fiction: editors frequently omit prompt instructions through oversight. My argument was that this fiction probably needs to be adhered to in cases where protests are being adjudicated by TD's rather than editors; the TD has to take the question as the editor's word on the issue. However, there is absolutely no reason to adhere to this fiction when the editor himself is the one in charge of adjudicating protests (e.g. as is usually the case at ACF Nationals), and to prevent him from being able to correct his oversights. I suggested that a clause be added to allow editors to review these protests, in those specific cases. After all, such protest resolutions are completely painless: all the editor needs to do is say "Whoops! I totally meant to prompt there!" or "Nope. I deliberately did not prompt there. The neg stands".

At the meeting, I had the support of the majority by the end of our argument, when this issue was voted on, and I was told that as a result of the vote, this suggestion would be adopted for last years' Nationals. I don't see it in the current version of the ACF rules, and I'm not sure what happened there. If this needs to go to a vote again, then I look forward to bringing it up at this year's ACF meeting.
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Re: Specific Question Discussion

Post by theMoMA » Thu Feb 26, 2015 6:44 pm

The problem I have with what Andrew says here and with what Cody says earlier--when he suggests that protests should inherently carry a more stringent standard than prompts--is that it makes it impossible to know what to do when confronted by a clue like the second line of the Haydn tossup. Let us say that I know exactly what superset and subset it belongs to, but simply do not know the previous clue. What should I do? Do I buzz now, and say the superset, hoping to get prompted because most editors do that, but knowing that I will get an unprotestable neg if the editor happened not to include a prompt instruction (since there are no rules obliging him to do so)? Or do I wait another sentence, in the hopes that the next sentence will clarify which set is being sought, risking that my opponent knows the next clue and will beat me, even though he has less knowledge. The necessity in engaging in this kind of thinking--in which I need to guess the editors' whims or (even worse) rely on my knowledge of the editors' stance on this ideological question (from having read these forum posts) to guide my gameplay--is a basic characteristic of "bad quizbowl". Rules reforms need to be enacted to eliminate these situations.
I think there are two competing notions here based on differing priorities.

According to notion one, advanced by John above, the rules need to save players from bad questions. I think that's essentially what John argues when he says that rules reform is necessary to avoid certain types of non-ideal gameplay stemming from clues that apply to two different categories with no distinguishing language (but come after clues that do make such distinctions).

According to notion two, advanced in strict form by Matt and Cody and less stridently by me, protests can't rescue players from their own lack of knowledge. I would argue that the "mandatory" and "permissive" distinction reflects something fundamental about a "should have been prompted" protest: it depends on a counterfactual, i.e. what the player would have said had he or she been prompted. John disputes the notion that "protests should inherently carry a more stringent standard than prompts," but I think this should absolutely be the case. Because the player didn't actually say the right answer, and we don't know if s/he would have, I'd argue that the standard for being awarded points on a "should have prompted" protest should be stringent.

It seems to me that the mandatory standard--stated another way, that no reasonable answer line to this particular tossup could omit the particular prompting language--is an adequately high bar. If it is the case that the answer of "Haydn's symphonies" applies just as well to all the clues for a tossup on the "London symphonies," and that no reasonable answer line could fail to omit a prompt under those circumstances, it seems fair to me to say that the player should be awarded those points, regardless of whether s/he would have said "London symphonies" when prompted.

Now, flip it around the other way. If a reasonable answer line for the tossup could have omitted the prompting instruction--for example, because the clues do not all apply just as well to the broader answer--then it seems fair to me to say that the player should not be awarded those points, because the player (a) never produced the correct answer and (b) said an answer that was, in fact, wrong when applied to certain of the clues.

As I've said, I don't dispute that writers could choose to prompt generously in such circumstances. What I'm saying is that it doesn't make sense to me to say that the player had the unequivocal right to that prompt that would be justifiable grounds for a protest, considering the balance of the interests at play.

Although I don't think there are inherent right and wrong positions on this issue--simply competing notions of fairness--I do think that my proposal has practical advantages, and does a better job allocating "writerly" concerns (such as whether a question or answer line is bad) to the writers, and "rules" concerns (such as whether a certain answer affords a person the unequivocal right to a prompt) to the rules.
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Re: Specific Question Discussion

Post by Mike Bentley » Thu Feb 26, 2015 7:24 pm

ThisIsMyUsername wrote:While this is certainly a reasonable position that one could argue for, in the abstract, it does not reflect the actual logic behind how questions are being written and how prompts are being decided in the majority of tournaments each year. Even people as rhetorically hard-line as Matt Weiner do not usually enact their own stances in their editing. Here are the first four sentences from a tossup from last year's History Bowl on the Beirut Barracks Bombing:
A month prior to this event, the May 17 Agreement was cancelled. A few months after this event, an American named Malcolm Kerr was murdered at a nearby university. One justification for this event was the gunfire support offered by the Arthur W. Radford and the John Rodgers. In the aftermath of this event, the U.S.S. New Jersey heavily shelled the Bekaa Valley.
This has a prompt instruction throughout for "Lebanese Civil War", even though an answer of "Lebanese Civil War" is incorrect for every single one of these clues, because the chronological markers "prior to this event", "after this event", "justification for this event", and "aftermath" would be completely wrong in relation to the war as a whole (all of these things took place in the middle of the war, rather than before or after it). Here, the prompt is purely motivated by the answer being a subset of a larger conflict, rather than because the majority of the clues are also correct for the superset answer being prompted.

This is of course in no way invalidates Cody and Matt's arguments that their standards (that nearly every clue must correctly apply to the prompted thing in order for a prompt to be justified) should be used. But it certainly erodes Matt Weiner's historical/naturalistic attitude in all of his posts about protests that his stance is just the way quizbowl works and always has; in fact, quizbowl rarely works like this in reality. That Weiner's stance is merely rhetorical and is not supported by practice (even his own) can be confirmed by going through any of the major tournaments of the past few years to see when prompt instructions are given, for what answers, and why. In order for Weiner's stringent protest requirements to be practical, writing practice would need to be reformed quite a bit to conform to them.
To be fair, I wrote this tossup and lean more on the sympathetic to players side of things than Matt does.
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Re: The Essence of Prompting

Post by Matt Weiner » Thu Feb 26, 2015 7:28 pm

My stated positions as to what the rules/TD should do and my actions as an editor are easily reconcilable if you focus on the part about how I don't believe it's the purpose of protests or tournament directors to overrule normative decisions actually made by writers. "Sometimes the writer chooses to be generous, but you don't have any right to expect this to happen all the time" is a perfectly good summary of my views on this topic.

When you buzz in with something that you sort of remember from your notebook, or that isn't really the right answer, you take the risk of being ruled wrong. This is a feature, not a bug, in how quizbowl works.
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Re: The Essence of Prompting

Post by Cheynem » Thu Feb 26, 2015 7:33 pm

This seems sort of unsatisfying to me, particularly when one considers how shoddy many writers can be (including myself). "A writer may or may not include a prompt, depending on his whim, knowledge, or just plain giving a darn" [yes, I realize this is an oversimplification of Matt's point] seems fairly arbitrary. Surely we can at least decide on some standards for prompts/protests other than defer to writers. When I was starting out in quizbowl, I was really paranoid about not inciting negbaits so I would write incredibly overzealous prompt or accept rules; at other points, I was rushed and didn't include presumably needed prompts. The results of games/matches/tournaments should not come down to if a writer was finishing a question at 2 AM.
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Re: The Essence of Prompting

Post by Ike » Thu Feb 26, 2015 8:03 pm

Cheynem wrote:This seems sort of unsatisfying to me, particularly when one considers how shoddy many writers can be (including myself). "A writer may or may not include a prompt, depending on his whim, knowledge, or just plain giving a darn" [yes, I realize this is an oversimplification of Matt's point] seems fairly arbitrary. Surely we can at least decide on some standards for prompts/protests other than defer to writers.
Two comments:

1.) I, as a co-editor at ACF Nationals, will strive to ensure that all prompts are included in the answer line. I don't know exactly what the rules for protests are, but I do think it's fair that if an editor forgets to put a prompt in, then they can protest the promptability of your answer. I don't know if you, or others, actually think that, on a whim, I might say "Today is a glorious day to FUCK YOU, SO NO PROMPT!!!"--I assure you, I don't.

2.) The reason why I don't like codifying the rules, is that there are cases when you should prompt and when you shouldn't prompt. At some point, I think you can't take an answer if the answer shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the subject matter at hand. People seemed to have ignored (or tacitly agreed with!) my hypothetical example with Haydn's symphonies and the clue "the first of these was composed in 1791." I think not prompting because you misunderstand forty years of Haydn's life completely is fair; I don't think it's fair to not prompt because you don't recognize the musical fart clue, since your knowledge of Haydn's works is plausibly consistent even if you don't know that clue. To use a even more clear-cut example, all Deterministic finite automata are actually subsets of Turing machines, but no way in hell should you prompt on one for the other unless you're writing a really weird tossup. The need for prompting is determined by the subject matter and knowledge base, and I think codifying when you should prompt is not the right thing to do.
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Re: The Essence of Prompting

Post by Cheynem » Thu Feb 26, 2015 8:36 pm

I certainly wasn't suggesting writers or editors got their jollies in not putting in prompts; I'm just noting that me, who tries to be diligent about this, has screwed it up plenty of times through my own inattention or lack of knowledge, so I'm sure it happens to others.
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Re: The Essence of Prompting

Post by ThisIsMyUsername » Fri Feb 27, 2015 11:09 am

Matt Weiner wrote:My stated positions as to what the rules/TD should do and my actions as an editor are easily reconcilable if you focus on the part about how I don't believe it's the purpose of protests or tournament directors to overrule normative decisions actually made by writers.
Well, yes, if I focused only on the particular sentences in which you are not contradicting yourself, it might indeed appear that you are not contradicting yourself. But in fact, you have previously stated quite plainly: "Right answers are right and wrong answers are wrong. You have to say the right answer to get points." (I'm quoting you exactly). This is decidedly not reconcilable with what you are saying now, which reduces to: "Wrong answers are frequently promptable, rather than outright wrong. You have to eventually say the right answer to get points, but the writer/editor can arbitrarily allow you to say a promptable wrong answer first. However, there are no rules about when this can/should happen, and when this doesn't happen, you are entirely without rights to have this addressed." This is a radical shift in your stated position within this thread.

Furthermore, saying that "[you] don't believe the purpose of protests is to overrule normative decisions actually made by writers" is likewise inconsistent with the current ACF rules and with your own actions as a TD. For example, the rules state that I am allowed to protest that a writer has over-underlined an answer, requiring more information than should be necessary. You yourself adjudicated exactly such a situation with the "Truman desegregating the army" question in the finals of ACF Nationals 2011. In that case, you as TD were overruling a normative decision made by Jerry as writer (to underline Truman), and the rules currently say that that is exactly what you should have done.

As Mike and I have both pointed out, this "normative decision" doctrine is a fiction, because lacks of prompts are often not conscious decisions on the parts of editors. Our current protest rules clearly admit the possibility that some decisions made by writers/editors are errors, and afford an opportunity to correct these errors. You are just declaring, without any justification, that all matters involving prompts are ipso facto not errors, on the writers' or editors' parts. We do not take this attitude with regards to any other components of questions.

As Chris and I have both pointed out, there is middle ground between automatically awarding a team points for a protest and completely denying them the right to lodge a protest in the first place: it's called letting the team protest, having someone review their protest, and deny it if there aren't grounds to support it. The fact that this option is seemingly missing from Cody, Andrew Hart, and your conceptions of protests is indeed troubling.

Our current situation is that we have a game-mechanic called the "prompt" whose absence or presence decides an important match at virtually every major tournament. In spite of the importance of this mechanic in determining the outcome of national championships and opens, we have no rules in place to determine what situations require them, and instead each writer or editor gets make up his own rules as to what "prompt" means without any transparency (he doesn't need to say before the tournament what his rules are), consistency (he can diverge wildly between prompt rules within a tournament), or oversight (his decisions or mistakes via omission are never protestable). I'm saying that this is anarchic, and results in tournaments being decided on arbitrary decisions or even non-decisions. Contra Ike, I think that at the bare minimum, some sorts of criteria for what can and can not be prompted should be standardized and codified. That's probably not going to get settled in this thread, but it's good that we opened the conversation on this, and I hope that we can work towards rules reforms at a later date (even if those reforms end up being milder reforms, such as those suggested by Andrew Hart, which are certainly at least better than what we have now).
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Re: The Essence of Prompting

Post by Matt Weiner » Fri Feb 27, 2015 11:39 am

No one wants to "deny people the right to lodge protests." What we are doing is evaluating those protests that are made by going through the question and seeing if the answer given was correct for the clues in the question, or not. Asking TDs to accept wrong answers because the writer could have chosen to write a different answer line is the real recipe for chaos; it's inconceivable that you think a straightforward "right answers are right and wrong answers are wrong" standard, which despite you and Chris mocking as simplistic it appears people still don't fully comprehend, is in any sense more subjective or unfair than TDs overruling writers to accept wrong answers (Haydn symphonies, CREEP, Providence) on the basis of literally "in another branch of the quantum universe Editor-Prime might have chosen to accept this answer even though it's wrong."

If you want to regularize the questions to avoid this inconsistency, then you have to do just that -- get people to write questions that more carefully specify what they want instead of slapping together nine notebook clues with "in addition to that he would go on to center around" type nonsense phrases. We've already gone way too far down the path of trying to make up for deficiencies in questions and playing styles by letting people essentially lodge "I said something kind of related to the topic of the question so I should be right" as a protest. It's time to address the actual source of the problem. If editors are not making conscious decisions as to what is acceptable and why, then they need to do so. In the event that they don't, it is never the case that upholding "my wrong answer might have been considered right if someone else had written this question" protests is the right remedy.

My proposed codification is thus as follows: Writers and editors should totally strike "prompt on _thing that is related to the answerline but isn't right for the clues_" from their questions. No more "Lebanese civil war" for "barracks bombing," etc. No one should have the right to expect prompts in these situations ever, they should always be ruled wrong, and therefore there will be no inconsistency across writers or between writers and protests.
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Re: The Essence of Prompting

Post by DumbJaques » Fri Feb 27, 2015 1:13 pm

I actually wasn't mocking your point for its simplicity, Matt (more the fact that you kept repeating a single aspect of it that clearly turns on whether people have different understandings of the scope conditions - though to be fair, at that point you were talking with Marshall and, well, you know). In fact I think (as I said above) that the simple logic of your position is its greatest strength and something that we can't and should not ignore. But there's the same amount of logical inconsistency in letting the writer/editor determine the prompt pre-protest vs. post-protest. Both are subject to whim/best judgment/etc., with the only exception being that post-protest resolution means you aren't also subject to inattentiveness or ignorance.

I reiterate: As an editor, I would absolutely want the chance to make up for a simple mistake t hat could cost someone a game. What I am advancing does absolutely no more than that. It does not alter the intrinsic logic of protest rules at all. The only thing it could result in is more people becoming a bit more vociferously upset, because things that just aren't protestable tend to provoke less annoyance than protests that get denied. But those complaints would be illogical and just venting frustration, which is exactly what you've derided all of these complaints as already, so nothing would change there.

The only logically coherent way to disagree with the above policy, I think, is to decide that we as a quizbowl whole will adopt an extremely strict standard for prompting/protesting - so strict that it would outright ban us as writers from putting in permissive prompts.

All I can say to that is... Guys. Do we really think this is a good idea? Like, at all? How many times have you written a question and thought, "Ok. This is a great idea and full of great clues but I can see someone buzzing in with this pretty-right-but-not-exactly-right-for-all-clues answer and I really don't want to neg them." Sometimes it isn't possible to avoid that, as evidenced by the numerous examples anyone could find among the work of LITERALLY EVERYONE posting in this thread. And the solution is simple: Just keep doing what we've been doing!

Under Matt's new proposed logic (and I do apologize if I'm reading this wrong), it seems the following scenario would result:
This Year's CO wrote: Let's say you and I are playing a packet at CO this year, and Eric writes a tossup with a permissive prompt in the answerline. You buzz in, say the permissive prompt thing, get prompted, and get the answer because you knew way more about it than I did (this last part is almost guaranteed). Thanks to my clutch buzzing on the Fine Structure Constant, the game ends close. I then protest that the question should not have allowed a permissive prompt. Technically Matt's logic demand that to be true, even though Eric as the writer thinks the prompt is good and, indeed, would perhaps never have written the question if he couldn't include it. Jerry, not inclined to punish people for knowing more, might be in a position of enforcing the rules or boning someone out of points he thought they deserve. I would enjoy the illicit benefits of my less-complete-than-yours knowledge and Bowser-laugh my way to victory.
The above seems like a recipe for uneven protest resolution at best and, more importantly, a surefire way to screw people over for knowing more. In my opinion it is conducive to neither growing nor enjoying quizbowl. I see absolutely no reason we ought to adopt it when the Modified Hart system is a totally valid alternative.
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Re: The Essence of Prompting

Post by grapesmoker » Fri Feb 27, 2015 3:55 pm

You yourself adjudicated exactly such a situation with the "Truman desegregating the army" question in the finals of ACF Nationals 2011. In that case, you as TD were overruling a normative decision made by Jerry as writer (to underline Truman), and the rules currently say that that is exactly what you should have done.
That isn't exactly what happened. What happened was that when Matt Jackson buzzed and gave his answer, I realized that the question as written had no way of eliciting "Truman" from the person answering; all the references to the answer sought were in the form of "this action" and therefore "desegregating the armed forces" was perfectly acceptable. I consulted with Matt W., he agreed that it made no sense to require Truman, and we gave Yale the points. I'm not exactly sure how that fits into the subset/superset discussion here, though, because that question's fault was an overly demanding answerline that could not be elicited via the given clues. The prompt came about because the answer Matt J gave was incomplete relative to what was on the page, not because there was some kind of subset/superset confusion.
Let's say you and I are playing a packet at CO this year, and Eric writes a tossup with a permissive prompt in the answerline. You buzz in, say the permissive prompt thing, get prompted, and get the answer because you knew way more about it than I did (this last part is almost guaranteed). Thanks to my clutch buzzing on the Fine Structure Constant, the game ends close. I then protest that the question should not have allowed a permissive prompt. Technically Matt's logic demand that to be true, even though Eric as the writer thinks the prompt is good and, indeed, would perhaps never have written the question if he couldn't include it. Jerry, not inclined to punish people for knowing more, might be in a position of enforcing the rules or boning someone out of points he thought they deserve. I would enjoy the illicit benefits of my less-complete-than-yours knowledge and Bowser-laugh my way to victory.
I don't understand what's supposed to be happening in this scenario, or, again, how it impacts this debate. Someone protests that a prompt should not have been acceptable? Ok, we can refer that to the editor, which is what we do already. I don't read anyone here as advocating a change to that.
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Re: The Essence of Prompting

Post by Cody » Fri Feb 27, 2015 3:59 pm

A team cannot protest that the other team was given a prompt.

I don't think the situations you've laid forth line up with what Matt Weiner thinks at all.
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Re: The Essence of Prompting

Post by grapesmoker » Fri Feb 27, 2015 3:59 pm

My proposed codification is thus as follows: Writers and editors should totally strike "prompt on _thing that is related to the answerline but isn't right for the clues_" from their questions. No more "Lebanese civil war" for "barracks bombing," etc. No one should have the right to expect prompts in these situations ever, they should always be ruled wrong, and therefore there will be no inconsistency across writers or between writers and protests.
Yeah, I wouldn't have prompted on "Lebanese civil war" either. I don't know why anyone would expect a prompt on that.
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Re: The Essence of Prompting

Post by grapesmoker » Fri Feb 27, 2015 4:00 pm

Cody wrote:A team cannot protest that the other team was given a prompt.
Problem solved, let's all go out for ice cream.
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Re: The Essence of Prompting

Post by Cheynem » Fri Feb 27, 2015 4:09 pm

I think we can probably safely say that "related things that do not exactly match the clues" could be removed as a prompt; I'm okay with trying to find consistency in this regard. In many cases, people prompt to be overly generous or because the anticipate wrong answers that are wrong but are "related" to the right answer. In general, these could be safely eliminated in order to put more of an onus on writer, editor, and player to create good questions and to play them in good faith.

However, I do think that in the few cases in which you have a very clear subset/set relationship, prompts should be required and thus could be protested. For instance, yeah, I think London Symphonies/Symphonies of Haydn fall in that vein, as would the Swann's Way example because the way the clues are constructed, there are specific clue sentences that are very much applicable to the larger subset. Yes, it's easy to malign the dreaded notebook user for not understanding that the final pages of Swann's Way are different than the final pages of In Search of Lost Time, but much of the later clues are literally true for ISLT as they are for Swann's Way; there is nothing lost in this regard by prompting or in fact requiring a prompt. The answer ISLT is not just "associated to" or "related to" the right answer; it literally is the right answer for much of the tossup, and asking someone to parse a clue he presumably didn't recognize anyway at quizbowl speed in context to later clues seems onerous.
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Re: The Essence of Prompting

Post by grapesmoker » Fri Feb 27, 2015 4:10 pm

Also, with regard to the original example, it's commonly held that In Search of Lost Time is actually one novel in seven volumes, which would make prompting on that answer entirely sensible.
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Re: The Essence of Prompting

Post by theMoMA » Fri Feb 27, 2015 4:16 pm

Cody wrote:A team cannot protest that the other team was given a prompt.
If this were the case, I would be an ACF champion.
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Re: The Essence of Prompting

Post by Cheynem » Fri Feb 27, 2015 4:24 pm

I think in that case, they were protesting the answer given was wrong. I assume Cody means you can't protest tossups that just simply include instructions to prompt.

For example, you could protest that when a team was prompted on "Lebanese Civil War," they said "the bombing in 1982," followed by "at the Beirut barracks," because they've given wrong info.
You could not protest they should have never been prompted in the first place.

(Note: I'm not saying I agree or disagree with this comparison, but I think the ACF Nats example isn't quite the same based on my perhaps inaccurate memory of the finals)
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Re: The Essence of Prompting

Post by theMoMA » Fri Feb 27, 2015 4:30 pm

Cheynem wrote:Yes, it's easy to malign the dreaded notebook user for not understanding that the final pages of Swann's Way are different than the final pages of In Search of Lost Time, but much of the later clues are literally true for ISLT as they are for Swann's Way; there is nothing lost in this regard by prompting or in fact requiring a prompt. The answer ISLT is not just "associated to" or "related to" the right answer; it literally is the right answer for much of the tossup, and asking someone to parse a clue he presumably didn't recognize anyway at quizbowl speed in context to later clues seems onerous.
I agree with this, and I think that a prompt should be written into the answer line. (I understand that you're engaging Matt Weiner's promptus delenda est argument above, which I don't agree with.)

But in the context of a protest that you "should have been prompted," I think the standard of review has to be pretty stringent, and I'd offer (like I've said) that the standard should be "could a reasonable answer line to this question be written without the prompt?" In a case in which the stated answer doesn't conform to at least one of the clues given, I think the answer to this question must be "yes," and the protest must be denied, even if it's relatively ticky-tacky to base the protest on something like "the last lines of Swann's Way are not the same as the last lines of In Search of Lost Time."

For what it's worth, when a prompt has been given (either based on the answer line or moderator discretion), and the player subsequently answered correctly, I think the standard of review should be the exact opposite: because there's no counterfactual inquiry required to figure out whether the correct answer was eventually said, instead of asking whether the prompt was required, the inquiry should be "was there any reasonable basis for the prompt?" If there was a reasonable basis, the prompt should stand.

So my stance could be summed up as follows:

* When the writer or moderator chooses to prompt, defer to their judgment: if there is a reasonable basis for the prompt to exist, it should stand.
* When the writer and moderator choose not to prompt, defer to their judgment: unless the answer given precisely fits all the clues, in which case no reasonable answer line could fail to prompt on that answer, the protest should be denied.
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Re: The Essence of Prompting

Post by Ike » Fri Feb 27, 2015 4:34 pm

I don't think setting a bunch of rules in place to fix a "bad question" is going to resolve the underlying issue. A question with confusing grammar can't be protested, is frustrating, and should be discussed on the forums. Similarly, a question that doesn't have the right prompts is also frustrating, shouldn't be protested,* and should be discussed afterwards.

Let's assume that we have axiomatized when and when we shouldn't prompt to some extent. Remember this clusterfuck from Cane Ridge Revival?
ANSWER: protein sorting [accept protein trafficking, targeting, importing, translocation, transfer; uptake, compartmentalization, distribution or reasonable descriptive equivalents; accept protein tagging before mentioned; accept protein localization before “localization”; accept answers referring to localization
in any specific organelles; prompt on generic answers about “transport” or “docking” or equivalents;
antiprompt on “endomembrane system”; prompt on “secretion” or “vesicular transport” or related answers]
How on earth would a TD determine whether a given answer is a "reasonably descriptive equivalent" or an answer referring to localization in any specific organelles given any set of axioms? Personally, I would just call up the editor of the question, to resolve the issue, which just bypasses the need for axiomatizing, anyway.

Matt's proposal seems extreme, but I think we, as a whole, should move toward that kind of writing. There are so many prompts and anti-prompts that are just unnecessary. The worst writers try to be "dark and edgy" with an "innovative" answerline and fix all their issues by being generous with prompts. You can expect a long post from me about this topic at length after ACF Nationals is over, but writers need to consider what the right pronoun is to use in their questions and whether or not a clue makes any goddamn sense. Repeatedly using "this concept" and then acting totally surprised when a player answers "violence" for your answer of "anarchy" because you haven't distinguished between the two and just said "Tim Clarus wrote about this concept" is horrible writing. If you feel your tossup is too merciless for the players, then it's your job as a writer to change the answer line, clues and their wording, and not just to stitch together your half-assed "pointings to seven different answers styleof writing" to point toward one "unique" answer with prompt directives. In that Beirut Barracks Bombing tossup, don't put in that prompt, just change your clues and answerline if you are so worried about it player sympathy. If you're writing that London symphonies tossup, why aren't you writing it on Haydn's symphonies? Maybe your tournament shouldn't have a tossup on protein sorting!
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Re: The Essence of Prompting

Post by theMoMA » Fri Feb 27, 2015 4:36 pm

Cheynem wrote:I think in that case, they were protesting the answer given was wrong. I assume Cody means you can't protest tossups that just simply include instructions to prompt.)
I don't see the distinction. An answer was given, that answer resulted in a prompt, and the correct answer was then given. The answer of "Lebanese civil war" to the Beirut barracks question is also "wrong" in a substantially equivalent way, in that the answer does not apply to the clues given. This is in no way an attempt to relitigate a protest from five years ago, but at least historically, there's been a recourse for people to protest that a prompt was not warranted based on the clues given, and those protests were decided on...some standard.
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Re: The Essence of Prompting

Post by grapesmoker » Fri Feb 27, 2015 5:27 pm

Repeatedly using "this concept" and then acting totally surprised when a player answers "violence" for your answer of "anarchy" because you haven't distinguished between the two and just said "Tim Clarus wrote about this concept" is horrible writing.
People have been beating this horse forever. Not that you aren't right. I don't think making rules the protect players from shitty writing is a great idea; it's a much better idea to teach people not to write shitty questions.
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Re: The Essence of Prompting

Post by Mike Bentley » Fri Feb 27, 2015 6:58 pm

theMoMA wrote:
Cody wrote:A team cannot protest that the other team was given a prompt.
If this were the case, I would be an ACF champion.
So in this specific case a team was given a prompt ("B-Trees" for "Self Balancing Binary Search Trees") that wasn't on the page. It was a moderator error to accept the prompt as Zeke thought a "B Tree" was a way of abbreviating "Binary Search Tree". I would hope that teams still have the ability to protest in this specific case.
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Re: George Oppen: The Essence of Prompting

Post by Victor Prieto » Mon Mar 16, 2015 1:34 am

I didn't fully read every megapost in this thread, but I've been encouraged to relate the following incident that happened this past weekend and is relevant to the protesting on semi-right/wrong answers situation.

A player on an opposing team buzzed about 5 lines in on a ~8 line tossup and gave a wrong answer that was properly ruled incorrect by a moderator (who was very new and inexperienced). The player immediately said "You're supposed to anti-prompt, and then I would say [the correct answer]." The moderator, not knowing any better, said "okay, that's right." I immediately interjected and said you can't do that. Thankfully, I ensured that the rules were properly followed: the question was marked for protest, we moved onto the next tossup, and continued with the game. After the last bonus, the score was not close, so the neg stood, a tossup was read to my team only, which we converted and answered a bonus for points that didn't affect the outcome of the game.

My initial evaluation of the buzz as it related to the content of the question and a post-mortem of the question in the IRC this evening confirmed that the buzz was indeed in error.

Point is: an outburst after an incorrect answer swayed an inexperienced moderator into accepting an incorrect answer. The hypothetical situation discussed earlier of players using loose prompting/protest rules to gain an advantage in a match isn't a hypothetical, it happened this past weekend, and it wasn't the first time that I'd seen it happen. While not every moderator and player needs to have a clear understanding of the rules regarding prompting and protests discussed in this thread, there does need to be a rule that a single word "protest" should be the absolute maximum a player may say while a match is in progress.

EDIT: grammar.
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Re: George Oppen: The Essence of Prompting

Post by The Ununtiable Twine » Mon Mar 16, 2015 11:53 am

Wasabi wrote:I didn't fully read every megapost in this thread, but I've been encouraged to relate the following incident that happened this past weekend and is relevant to the protesting on semi-right/wrong answers situation.

*my bolding for emphasis that added commentary is there, nothing more and nothing less. My italics for actual emphasis.

A player on an opposing team (which happens to be me for those of you who hadn't guessed by now) buzzed about 5 lines in on a ~8 line tossup and gave a wrong answer that was properly ruled incorrect by a moderator (who was very new and inexperienced). The player immediately said "You're supposed to anti-prompt, and then I would say [the correct answer]." The moderator, not knowing any better, said "okay, that's right." I immediately interjected and said you can't do that. Thankfully, I ensured that the rules were properly followed: the question was marked for protest, we moved onto the next tossup, and continued with the game (You ensured that the rules were properly followed? I insisted that the same thing happen several times before the resolution took place! I don't know if you were listening to anything I said but I was agreeing with you for the majority of the "argument"). After the last bonus, the score was not close, so the neg stood, a tossup was read to my team only, which we converted and answered a bonus for points that didn't affect the outcome of the game (We were up by 130, we won by 100 after you got your deserved points. You literally acted as if we would care about the margin of victory at that point. When I showed that I did not care about cosmetic things that happened after the final result was in hand, you kept prompting me for an opinion regarding what I thought should happen, or something.).

My initial evaluation of the buzz as it related to the content of the question and a post-mortem of the question in the IRC this evening confirmed that the buzz was indeed in error.

Point is: an outburst after an incorrect answer swayed an inexperienced moderator into accepting an incorrect answer. The hypothetical situation discussed earlier of players using loose prompting/protest rules to gain an advantage in a match isn't a hypothetical, it happened this past weekend, and it wasn't the first time that I'd seen it happen. While not every moderator and player needs to have a clear understanding of the rules regarding prompting and protests discussed in this thread, there does need to be a rule that a single word "protest" should be the absolute maximum a player may say while a match is in progress.

EDIT: grammar.
I think you're exaggerating a little bit? You seem to have conveniently forgotten the ~2 second interval between my answer and the time before anything else occurred solely for the purposes of making this post a little more convincing. Normally when such an awkward pause occurs during a match the moderator is deciding what to do on a given answer. For whatever reason I thought he was trying to figure out what "anti-prompt" meant (you know, because he was new, not thinking that I could just flat out be wrong) and so I attempted to try to ease things along (which works literally 99.9% of the time with no controversy whatsoever!). Moderators have to read through several lines of prompts quite often, so there could have been that. It happens all the time and the confused look on his face suggested that perhaps he was doing something of this manner. It didn't help that I made a similar buzz on that topic in a recent tournament that was anti-prompted on a very similar clue. Naturally, my first train of thought was that the moderator was making a decision similar to that one made at the previous tournament. Your assertion that I was trying to gain an advantage for our team in the match is nothing short of comical. If you recall (which you don't seem to!) I interjected several times to tell the reader that I was in fact mistaken. Any unintended advantage we were given was purely psychological in nature, I can assure you.
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Re: George Oppen: The Essence of Prompting

Post by Victor Prieto » Mon Mar 16, 2015 2:32 pm

The Ununtiable Twine wrote:
Wasabi wrote:A player on an opposing team (which happens to be me for those of you who hadn't guessed by now) buzzed about 5 lines in on a ~8 line tossup and gave a wrong answer that was properly ruled incorrect by a moderator (who was very new and inexperienced). The player immediately said "You're supposed to anti-prompt, and then I would say [the correct answer]." The moderator, not knowing any better, said "okay, that's right." I immediately interjected and said you can't do that. Thankfully, I ensured that the rules were properly followed: the question was marked for protest, we moved onto the next tossup, and continued with the game (You ensured that the rules were properly followed? I insisted that the same thing happen several times before the resolution took place! I don't know if you were listening to anything I said but I was agreeing with you for the majority of the "argument"). After the last bonus, the score was not close, so the neg stood, a tossup was read to my team only, which we converted and answered a bonus for points that didn't affect the outcome of the game (We were up by 130, we won by 100 after you got your deserved points. You literally acted as if we would care about the margin of victory at that point. When I showed that I did not care about cosmetic things that happened after the final result was in hand, you kept prompting me for an opinion regarding what I thought should happen, or something.).
I didn't name names because I wanted to keep this objective, but okay, if you insist. There are a few things in your account that I feel need correcting:

1. Perhaps "ensuring the rules were properly followed" is a bit flowery, but to be clear, if I hadn't said anything, the moderator would have accepted the answer and moved onto the bonus. If a new, less quizbowl knowledgeable team were sitting across from you, they may not have had the courage to object to a much more experienced quizbowl player such as yourself.

2. The only thing I cared about was that the rules were properly followed. I asked the moderator if he knew what to do in these situations, he replied in the negative, and so I told him the proper way to settle the issue. I have no idea how my actions gave you the impression that I cared about your team's margin of victory.

3. I certainly did not keep "prompting you for an opinion regarding what I thought should happen." One, I knew exactly what was supposed to happen according to the rules, and two, I directed almost all of my words at the moderator, not at you, so the moderator could actually moderate the match instead of the players.
I think you're exaggerating a little bit? You seem to have conveniently forgotten the ~2 second interval between my answer and the time before anything else occurred solely for the purposes of making this post a little more convincing. Normally when such an awkward pause occurs during a match the moderator is deciding what to do on a given answer. For whatever reason I thought he was trying to figure out what "anti-prompt" meant (you know, because he was new, not thinking that I could just flat out be wrong) and so I attempted to try to ease things along (which works literally 99.9% of the time with no controversy whatsoever!). Moderators have to read through several lines of prompts quite often, so there could have been that. It happens all the time and the confused look on his face suggested that perhaps he was doing something of this manner. It didn't help that I made a similar buzz on that topic in a recent tournament that was anti-prompted on a very similar clue. Naturally, my first train of thought was that the moderator was making a decision similar to that one made at the previous tournament. Your assertion that I was trying to gain an advantage for our team in the match is nothing short of comical. If you recall (which you don't seem to!) I interjected several times to tell the reader that I was in fact mistaken. Any unintended advantage we were given was purely psychological in nature, I can assure you.
4. I didn't actually forget about that pause. I'd say he looked at you for a full three seconds before he said "that's incorrect." I was under the impression that he was making painfully sure you had completed your answer before negging you, not that he was reading through a long answerline and evaluating the answer you gave. Backing my assessment, the answerline was only two words long, and had no prompts or anti-prompts written in.

5. You did gain an advantage for your team in the match by overruling the question instructions in your favor, through awing the moderator with apparent depth of knowledge in the topic at hand. It's not comical, it happened, whether that was your intention or not!

Quite frankly, I really, really, really, really, really don't care about the outcome of that particular game. I care about the flagrant indifference for the rules that was exhibited. You have been around the quizbowl circuit for quite some time. Although I don't doubt your good intentions, I believe that this sort of behavior is harmful. When experienced players immediately complain about a wrong answer they gave, say it was related to the right answer, and get points, it says to other younger players that this sort of thing is an okay and accepted practice. That is very bad and harmful to the culture of our circuit.
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Re: George Oppen: The Essence of Prompting

Post by The Ununtiable Twine » Mon Mar 16, 2015 3:52 pm

I agreed with you basically the entire time you were complaining. I fuck up literally once in a blue moon on these things (I mean shit happens?) and tend to try to play devil's advocate if at all possible against my own team when they do happen. Sorry to see that you are so salty about me agreeing with your assessment. The question was thrown out and another was read to you off the clock, as the situation demands. If a less knowledgeable team was sitting across from us (or any team for that matter) I would have certainly demanded that the situation be looked at after the match no matter who the ruling or "ruling" was in favor of - please try not to assume otherwise. I argued in favor of another team's right answer being accepted even though not in the prompts AT THIS SAME DAMN TOURNAMENT and I often (almost always?) argue in favor of the other team when something is debated. For what it's worth I do my best to ensure readers that it's okay to neg me if I missed a question in my areas of expertise, even though they may be terrified to neg me.

On another note, perhaps we should not delay matches for several minutes by arguing about rules because that teaches new moderators that it's okay to stop a match for several minutes at a time? I'm equally pissed off that you think that it's okay to delay the tournament for several minutes to argue a point which I agreed with you on. You quite obviously kept jabbering and jabbering on when the match should have been restarted. That surely isn't good for quizbowl culture and isn't excusable just because I happened to fuck up earlier.

Yes, you did keep asking me what I wanted to do about the cosmetic points after the match. It was very awkward and so I refused to answer.
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Re: George Oppen: The Essence of Prompting

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Mon Mar 16, 2015 3:55 pm

Holy shit, stop fighting! Victor's original point - "experienced players, please don't just try to bulldoze your way into points (and think about if that's how you're coming off even if it's not your intent)" - was a good one. If you want to debate dumb things that happened at the tournament, please do it privately, because no one on Earth cares.
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Re: George Oppen: The Essence of Prompting

Post by Ike » Mon Mar 16, 2015 4:06 pm

Victor's story is one of the reasons why automatically anti-prompting / prompting is stupid. You have to give the answer that is on the page. But he does bring up one issue that I want to take to discuss: sportsmanlike conduct when the packet fails.

One of the most annoying things that actually is off-putting is when moderators don't take answers that are obviously correct. At Oppen, for example, I gave an answer of Proust for the narrator of In Search of Lost Time and was promptly negged. If one of my opponents buzzed in with that, I would have instructed the moderator to give them the points - no protest needed. What's super annoying is when teams don't just be fair and say "You're obviously correct. Here you have the points" - in fact, my opinion of you as a sportsmanlike player and good human being goes down if you don't do this. Victor, I heard about this protest and I think you're in the right: that answer should definitely not have been anti-prompted or prompted, but I really do hope that if Jake's response did deserve a prompt, and you know he deserved a prompt, you would have just let the moderator prompted him instead of trying to dissuade the moderator from doing so and going through a "formal system of protests."

People who are unsportsmanlike in an attempt to gain an advantage are the worst. While I was moderating once, an asshole player once yelled at me for correcting a factual error in a packet because "all packets need to be fairly read to all teams." This particular player is a douchebag in general, but he's a real prick for wanting me to subject the other team to a factually incorrect bonus! A milder, but equally bullshit tactic is a certain former team's tendency to randomly protest questions. I hope we all realize that question editors do not have the time to include 10 lines of full, complete, answer lines and that packets are not going to be perfect: therefore, I think the game would be much better off, if we as players, made good faith attempts to actually reward knowledge when it's due instead of thinking "deep down, I know their answer is right, but I hope he sure gets fucked on a protest because I want to win this match!"
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Re: George Oppen: The Essence of Prompting

Post by grapesmoker » Mon Mar 16, 2015 4:31 pm

Ike wrote: I gave an answer of Proust for the narrator of In Search of Lost Time and was promptly negged.
I did the exact opposite (said "narrator of In Search of Lost Time" first) and then had to give "Proust" to get points. Weird.
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Re: George Oppen: The Essence of Prompting

Post by theMoMA » Mon Mar 16, 2015 4:49 pm

Ike wrote:Victor's story is one of the reasons why automatically anti-prompting / prompting is stupid. You have to give the answer that is on the page. But he does bring up one issue that I want to take to discuss: sportsmanlike conduct when the packet fails.

One of the most annoying things that actually is off-putting is when moderators don't take answers that are obviously correct. At Oppen, for example, I gave an answer of Proust for the narrator of In Search of Lost Time and was promptly negged. If one of my opponents buzzed in with that, I would have instructed the moderator to give them the points - no protest needed. What's super annoying is when teams don't just be fair and say "You're obviously correct. Here you have the points" - in fact, my opinion of you as a sportsmanlike player and good human being goes down if you don't do this. Victor, I heard about this protest and I think you're in the right: that answer should definitely not have been anti-prompted or prompted, but I really do hope that if Jake's response did deserve a prompt, and you know he deserved a prompt, you would have just let the moderator prompted him instead of trying to dissuade the moderator from doing so and going through a "formal system of protests."

People who are unsportsmanlike in an attempt to gain an advantage are the worst. While I was moderating once, an asshole player once yelled at me for correcting a factual error in a packet because "all packets need to be fairly read to all teams." This particular player is a douchebag in general, but he's a real prick for wanting me to subject the other team to a factually incorrect bonus! A milder, but equally bullshit tactic is a certain former team's tendency to randomly protest questions. I hope we all realize that question editors do not have the time to include 10 lines of full, complete, answer lines and that packets are not going to be perfect: therefore, I think the game would be much better off, if we as players, made good faith attempts to actually reward knowledge when it's due instead of thinking "deep down, I know their answer is right, but I hope he sure gets fucked on a protest because I want to win this match!"
If you know the other team gave a correct answer that's right, you should give it to them. Especially if you're winning or losing by a lot, just give it to them, no need to be a jerk. That said, I don't think there's anything wrong with saying "you know what, I'm not really sure if that's right; let's make sure after the game if it's necessary," especially in a close match.
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Re: George Oppen: The Essence of Prompting

Post by women, fire and dangerous things » Mon Mar 16, 2015 5:08 pm

Certainly as a moderator I'll accept answers that I know to be correct, even if they're not listed, but the keyword is know. Unlike Ike, I don't think it's obviously correct that "Proust" should be acceptable for the narrator of In Search of Lost Time, since the narrator, while clearly semi-autobiographical, isn't named, though people often refer to him as "Marcel."
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Re: George Oppen: The Essence of Prompting

Post by grapesmoker » Mon Mar 16, 2015 5:17 pm

women, fire and dangerous things wrote:Certainly as a moderator I'll accept answers that I know to be correct, even if they're not listed, but the keyword is know. Unlike Ike, I don't think it's obviously correct that "Proust" should be acceptable for the narrator of In Search of Lost Time, since the narrator, while clearly semi-autobiographical, isn't named, though people often refer to him as "Marcel."
This was my logic, but the moderator looked skeptically upon my answer.
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Re: George Oppen: The Essence of Prompting

Post by Auroni » Mon Mar 16, 2015 5:22 pm

This was the answerline in question:

_Marcel_ [accept the _narrator of ~Remembrance of Things Past~_ or the _narrator of ~In Search of Lost Time~_ or the _narrator of ~A la recherche du temps perdu~_ before the word _narrator_ is read]

Since the character isn't called Proust, Ike was correctly negged, and Jerry's answer should have just been accepted without prompting.
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Re: George Oppen: The Essence of Prompting

Post by Ike » Mon Mar 16, 2015 5:52 pm

If you know the other team gave a correct answer that's right, you should give it to them. Especially if you're winning or losing by a lot, just give it to them, no need to be a jerk. That said, I don't think there's anything wrong with saying "you know what, I'm not really sure if that's right; let's make sure after the game if it's necessary," especially in a close match.
Yeah, I don't want to discourage legitimate protests, or anything of that sort. I don't think it's okay to use a strict reading of the rules to be a jerk, if that makes any sense. Like if Eric buzzes in on a bio question and the moderator inserts a prompt since he/she knows better- one should let him try to answer right away instead of saying "the packet doesn't say to prompt don't ever prompt Eric" - just let the moderator prompt if the moderator thinks he deserves a prompt and handle it with a protest if need be, since obviously Eric is trying to demonstrate his knowledge.
women, fire and dangerous things wrote:Certainly as a moderator I'll accept answers that I know to be correct, even if they're not listed, but the keyword is know. Unlike Ike, I don't think it's obviously correct that "Proust" should be acceptable for the narrator of In Search of Lost Time, since the narrator, while clearly semi-autobiographical, isn't named, though people often refer to him as "Marcel."
This was the answerline in question:

_Marcel_ [accept the _narrator of ~Remembrance of Things Past~_ or the _narrator of ~In Search of Lost Time~_ or the _narrator of ~A la recherche du temps perdu~_ before the word _narrator_ is read]

Since the character isn't called Proust, Ike was correctly negged, and Jerry's answer should have just been accepted without prompting.
This is unbelivable. Some scholarly sources refer to that unnamed character as Marcel Proust like here. Why on earth would you take Marcel but not Proust?

Edit: I figured I'd better explicate that link a little better: The source states "Proust's memory of Sunday morning in Combray..." The town of Combray doesn't exist in real life, since the town that Combray is modeled on is not Combray, but Illiers, now renamed Illiers-Combray in honor of Proust, therefore the Marcel Proust that this source is referring to must be the fictional narrator of In Search of Lost Time.
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Re: George Oppen: The Essence of Prompting

Post by Rococo A Go Go » Mon Mar 16, 2015 6:13 pm

Ukonvasara wrote:Victor's original point - "experienced players, please don't just try to bulldoze your way into points (and think about if that's how you're coming off even if it's not your intent)" - was a good one.
It's a good point, but I'm pretty sure everyone who has been in quizbowl for a while has been on both sides of the "bullshit intellectual wankery for the sake of getting points" phenomenon and it certainly starts well before people get to college. It's very frequent that somebody expresses displeasure when packets/officials/rules of quizbowl/whatever prevents them from getting points regardless of how good the rule or the specific application, and if we're being honest I think a lot of us end up making opposite arguments about these ideals depending on the situation we find ourselves in. These things usually end up starting an argument in the middle of the game and half the time people run to the internet to argue about whatever happened for the next several weeks.

Since this phenomenon seeps into lower levels of quizbowl, it's fair to say that nearly everybody who has played quizbowl for some length of time (regardless of how new they are to college quizbowl) probably falls into specific faux pas you've mentioned here. Whether or not anything can be done about it, I'm less sure. Nothing in this thread actually encourages me to say much will change.
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Re: George Oppen: The Essence of Prompting

Post by vinteuil » Mon Mar 16, 2015 9:47 pm

Ike wrote:
This was the answerline in question:

_Marcel_ [accept the _narrator of ~Remembrance of Things Past~_ or the _narrator of ~In Search of Lost Time~_ or the _narrator of ~A la recherche du temps perdu~_ before the word _narrator_ is read]

Since the character isn't called Proust, Ike was correctly negged, and Jerry's answer should have just been accepted without prompting.
This is unbelivable. Some scholarly sources refer to that unnamed character as Marcel Proust like here. Why on earth would you take Marcel but not Proust?

Edit: I figured I'd better explicate that link a little better: The source states "Proust's memory of Sunday morning in Combray..." The town of Combray doesn't exist in real life, since the town that Combray is modeled on is not Combray, but Illiers, now renamed Illiers-Combray in honor of Proust, therefore the Marcel Proust that this source is referring to must be the fictional narrator of In Search of Lost Time.
I'm not sure that I agree with Ike, but I do think that it's a little bit excessive to insist that "Proust" isn't even promptable here (I answered "Marcel," for what that's worth, and the answerline is pretty much exactly what I was thinking it was). Even if it's right, I think this answerline makes the question a bit negbait-y; anybody buzzing with "Proust" before the last few clues clearly knows what they mean by it, and it's a bit draconian not to give them points for it.
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Re: George Oppen: The Essence of Prompting

Post by vcuEvan » Mon Mar 16, 2015 10:10 pm

Ike wrote: This is unbelivable. Some scholarly sources refer to that unnamed character as Marcel Proust like here. Why on earth would you take Marcel but not Proust?

Edit: I figured I'd better explicate that link a little better: The source states "Proust's memory of Sunday morning in Combray..." The town of Combray doesn't exist in real life, since the town that Combray is modeled on is not Combray, but Illiers, now renamed Illiers-Combray in honor of Proust, therefore the Marcel Proust that this source is referring to must be the fictional narrator of In Search of Lost Time.
I don't think even this lone source you've found is completely clear on the question. This example doesn't even approach the level of "it's unsportsmanlike to not insist that the moderator award me points without looking into it."
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Re: George Oppen: The Essence of Prompting

Post by Ike » Mon Mar 16, 2015 11:33 pm

I don't think even this lone source you've found is completely clear on the question. This example doesn't even approach the level of "it's unsportsmanlike to not insist that the moderator award me points without looking into it."
I'm not making the point about the Proust specifics to my overall point, but to the suggestion that I was "correctly negged." I had a whole post typed up about the specifics of why you should take that answer, but strictly from a rule reading: there is no "things have a name" rule since this character literally doesn't have a name - he's an unnamed narrator for every volume of the books! The idea that my answer should be negged because he's not called Proust is invalid, since he isn't called Marcel in the books. Therefore, Auroni's rationale for accepting Marcel has to be that "people often referred to him as Marcel" in academic discussion. Well, my reasoning for accepting "Proust" is the exact same: my professor once called that character "Proust" in discussions as well, and I was providing a print source that actually does so. I can only imagine that one doesn’t call him Proust that often in print because of the ambiguity it would create in most formal papers by having to distinguish between “Proust the author” and “Proust the character.”

By the way, Evan, I didn’t say what you put into your own quotes, and that quote is not even a paraphrase of my overall point about sportsmanship.
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