ACF Regionals 2016 General Discussion

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ACF Regionals 2016 General Discussion

Post by ThisIsMyUsername » Sun Jan 31, 2016 7:14 pm

Thanks to all of you who came out to play this set. I hope you enjoyed it.

Thanks to my co-editors Chris Ray, Max Schindler, and Itamar Naveh-Benjamin, the last of whom generously stepped in when Ben Zhang dropped out of the editing process. They put in a lot of hard work on this set.

Additional thanks to Matt Bollinger, Nick Collins, Ike Jose, Gaurav Kandlikar, and Jonathan Magin, who spent a lot of time and energy the week before the tournament, proofreading and commenting on the questions.

The editing breakdown worked as such: I edited all the Lit except for four tossups (which were edited by Max), and all the Painting, Auditory Arts, and Philosophy. Chris edited all the History. Max edited all the Science. Itamar edited all the Mythology. Chris and I co-edited the Misc. Visual Arts. Chris and Max co-edited the Religion. Chris, Max, and I co-edited the Social Science and Trash. Chris and Max co-edited the Geography and Current Events.

Our difficulty goals were stated in the original announcement. We wanted to lower the difficulty of easy parts, and lower the difficulty of the majority of the tossup answer-lines in each packet, while still keeping deep tossups and hard bonus hard parts. I’m mostly happy with how we met those general goals (the stats suggest that we hit our difficulty goals, at least in a quantitative sense), although I think that some of the outliers in terms of tossup difficulty answers were too difficult.

I won’t say too much about my categories. If you are a reader of these forums, you’ve probably witnessed me wax poetical and theoretical about literature, music, and philosophy questions, so you probably know my shtick: description-heavy tossups that try to reward primary engagement with texts and artworks, and hard parts focused more often on important aspects of famous works than on obscure works. I look forward to hearing your assessments of how my stuff turned out.

The other editors may have something to say about their approach to their own questions.

The biggest problem with the set that I encountered as a moderator was the abundance of typos. Quizbowl sets are usually pretty typo-ridden, but this is probably the most typo-ridden set that I have been responsible for editing. I say all this without trying to cast aspersion on the work of our many proofreaders. Ultimately, the responsibility must lie with us, the editors, for having made all these typos to begin with. And for that, I sincerely apologize.

I’m interested in hearing about your experiences. And that’s what this general discussion is for. So, discuss away!
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Re: ACF Regionals 2016 General Discussion

Post by gyre and gimble » Sun Jan 31, 2016 8:10 pm

I liked this set. It seemed pretty conservative in terms of answer selection, which I guess gave it less potential to be exciting, but by consequence it was very well controlled and wasn't diminished by unpleasant surprises. In particular, the history and painting were well done.
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Re: ACF Regionals 2016 General Discussion

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Sun Jan 31, 2016 8:55 pm

This tournament was decent. It was a lot lower quality of an effort than I expected from John et al, given their excellent work on previous sets. The editors of this set encouraged submitting teams to use easy parts that were "genuinely easy" along ACF Fall lines and to write hard parts that would "ask about deep things connecting to easy material." Regardless of whether the editors' instructions were followed, this is not what the final product sounded looked like overall. I think John's and Itamar's questions followed this philosophy the best, especially (and unsurprisingly) the music questions. I'm not really that qualified to judge Max's questions, but from the impression I get, both his and Chris's categories were chock-full of [often interesting and important but] hard "non-core" material. This led to an awful lot of really hard bonus parts - the names of medieval Serbian dynasties, some Goguryeo emperor (whom none of Eric Mukherjee, Jordan Brownstein, and myself had ever heard of) etc. These things are worth asking about, and I think I'll learn a lot from reading this set over, but they do not need to be asked about via "name this really hard thing."

tl;dr this set was fine and serviceable, but didn't really seem to hit the implied goals of its instructions to teams submitting packets; it was far from a MAGNI-style tournament with strong difficulty control and "core"-oriented focus

There were a few other minor things about the skew I noticed that may have been due to packet submissions. I think the visual arts tossups were disappointingly focused on pure visual clues to the exclusion of other types of clues, like art history or context/biography, though they were for the most part well executed. Similarly, most of the world history tossups we heard focused on the 20th century, though I suppose I contributed to this with my tossup on Manchukuo.

Finally, I welcome the return of Chris Ray humor. There was one instance where it made a bonus needlessly long and fell flat, but in other cases it made the experience of the set more fun, which was helpful when it felt rather dry otherwise.
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Re: ACF Regionals 2016 General Discussion

Post by Mewto55555 » Sun Jan 31, 2016 9:55 pm

Dammit, my computer crashed and I lost a much longer/more thorough post. The below is a hastily-reconstructed version of it.

Like John said, I edited the science. From what I gather, this was (rightly) the most-criticized subject -- there were a lot of statements that were half-true at best, misplaced clues and poorly-managed difficulty gradients, and questionable answerline selection. I was originally only editing the physics/other science, but I ended up taking on bio/chem a bit before the tournament. As such, I didn't get as much time as I would have liked to give my questions a second run-through with a fine-toothed comb, and I think it very much showed (I especially didn't have much time to go back over physics/other sci, which is why most of the glaring errors were there, even though I'm better at editing those subjects than bio/chem). Nonetheless, this is not a good excuse for the final quality of the questions, and I can only hope the strengths of the rest of the set overshadowed the problems in this category.

As far as editorial vision goes, mine was pretty similar to John's. Tossups primarily on gettable answerlines (though with a handful of harder/unusual answerlines thrown in to keep people on their toes -- particularly inspired by Penn Bowl's occasionally writing on the "other" answer) and an emphasis on things people who study a subject are likely to know, with a bunch of fresh material that quizbowl doesn't talk about as much (the tossup on Richard Bellman was an example of this). For bio/chem, I mostly tried to spend the two weeks I had with it putting together functional questions on fairly standard answerlines; I didn't feel I had the time or expertise to do anything more groundbreaking than put out a product people could approximately play.

I want to reiterate John's thanks to the proofreaders, especially Ike, who pointed out a lot of needed corrections (and pointed one glaringly bad stylistic thing I did) to science questions in the days before the tournament. I welcome any feedback anyone wants to provide, either in this forum or by email (mschindler@uchicago.edu)!

In contrast, I was pretty happy with how the econ questions turned out. I also edited Jew stuff, a tiny bit of lit, and a couple of trash Qs (tossup-wise, these were Hoth, minivans, and an amazing submission from Yale A on "pictures of Spiderman").
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Re: ACF Regionals 2016 General Discussion

Post by gyre and gimble » Mon Feb 01, 2016 2:24 am

Periplus of the Erythraean Sea wrote:some Goguryeo emperor (whom none of Eric Mukherjee, Jordan Brownstein, and myself had ever heard of) etc.
Just saying, that guy is the one Goguryeo emperor worth knowing, except maybe its founder, Jumong. Gwanggaeto is a huge deal in Korea, made enormous territorial gains, and is probably the single most important Korean figure until Taejo founded the Goryeo dynasty. Definitely more important the Gold Spoon Oration, anyway. To me, these kinds of bonus hard parts don't seem that problematic. The fact that people in quizbowl haven't heard of something doesn't mean it's not important or famous on an absolute scale, and bonus parts like these help fill in the gaps so that more people become aware of those topics.
Periplus of the Erythraean Sea wrote:Finally, I welcome the return of Chris Ray humor. There was one instance where it made a bonus needlessly long and fell flat, but in other cases it made the experience of the set more fun, which was helpful when it felt rather dry otherwise.
Call me boring, but is "Chris ray humor" really the right solution for a tournament feeling "dry"? I'd rather have bonus leadins that are substantive (i.e., contain clues), instead of being told that I am exploring some mountains or eating Italian food or whatever.
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Re: ACF Regionals 2016 General Discussion

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Mon Feb 01, 2016 3:15 am

gyre and gimble wrote:
Periplus of the Erythraean Sea wrote:some Goguryeo emperor (whom none of Eric Mukherjee, Jordan Brownstein, and myself had ever heard of) etc.
Just saying, that guy is the one Goguryeo emperor worth knowing, except maybe its founder, Jumong. Gwanggaeto is a huge deal in Korea, made enormous territorial gains, and is probably the single most important Korean figure until Taejo founded the Goryeo dynasty. Definitely more important the Gold Spoon Oration, anyway. To me, these kinds of bonus hard parts don't seem that problematic. The fact that people in quizbowl haven't heard of something doesn't mean it's not important or famous on an absolute scale, and bonus parts like these help fill in the gaps so that more people become aware of those topics.
I mean you're definitely right that he is important (as I very soon discovered upon looking him up!) and this essentially falls into my concession "these are things worth asking about." The issue is that this just doesn't necessarily automatically make something reasonable to ask about as a bonus part - I've certainly been guilty of this before - because, as much as quizbowl is an educational experience, it is also a game that is supposed to be tailored around its audience, and bonuses are supposed to assess knowledge that a good number of players in a reasonable general audience are likely to know (I wouldn't write a regular-level bonus part on the Samguk Sagi either, for that matter, though I'm not exactly a very good judge for what is important in Korea). I'm not arguing that "I deserve 30s because I am a good quizbowl player" but rather suggesting that, among a sample of widely-read players who know a lot of stuff about a lot of subject areas (including Korean history), a register of 0 on the "I've heard of this" (heard of, not "able to come up with as an answer") scale brings the difficulty of this into question.

The set's feeling of "dryness" was more for its "this isn't particularly noteworthy, innovative, or exciting" nature than the actual wording of bonuses or whatnot. Chris Ray's humor was not substituted for substance, but rather added a dimension to things that could be enjoyable at times. The whole "you are an XYZ" is, to me, just a fun variant on the whole "Name these XYZ things that have this in common for ten points" each concept - a bonus construct that's not amazing and SHOULD NOT be the format for a majority of bonuses, but which is fine and functional.
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Re: ACF Regionals 2016 General Discussion

Post by Cody » Mon Feb 01, 2016 9:42 am

This set was more problematic than most recent ones in the word salad / typo / grammar department, but answer line referrents were, imo, the biggest problem. The most basic thing you can do is ensure that (a) they're there and (b) there aren't extra ones. You'd expect at most one error of this nature in most sets, but I was consistently frustrated with them throughout the day (and across categories). That's the #1 proofreading-related thing that needs to be right.
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Re: ACF Regionals 2016 General Discussion

Post by Ike » Mon Feb 01, 2016 10:26 am

So Will, I'm sorry about your post is something I disagree with.

For one the science was pretty bad - like bad to the point where you were confusing a lot of players and just had half-truths. Furthermore, I don't know what Will is describing as "interesting" but if it's the bonus on Uranus / Herschel / Encke - that's not interesting. In fact a lot of the science felt like it was on "pop topics" - ninth planet theory as opposed to what people really care about, and when it did ask about stuff that people cared about, it often got it wrong. I've offered a substantial critique of some ways the science could have been improved to Max, but a lot of it is specificity.

As for the debacle about the Korean emperor - like come-on it's one hard part! I didn't think that the majority of the humanity's bonuses had this issue - like I would estimate 10%, which is much better than pretty much every other tournament that's out there. Also like, fun fact, at every tournament people complain about bonus variability, it happens.

Also, not to be an ass, but in comparison to MO this was a much better set, Will. This tournament had fresh buzzable clues on canonical topics, smoother difficulty gradients, much fewer ambiguous clues, less duds, etc. I really think it would be worthwhile to back down from declaring this tournament "decent" and looking at it from a big picture approach instead of a "man a small number of X bonuses really frustrated me."

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Re: ACF Regionals 2016 General Discussion

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Mon Feb 01, 2016 12:54 pm

Ike wrote:So Will, I'm sorry about your post is something I disagree with.

For one the science was pretty bad - like bad to the point where you were confusing a lot of players and just had half-truths. Furthermore, I don't know what Will is describing as "interesting" but if it's the bonus on Uranus / Herschel / Encke - that's not interesting.
I'm not really qualified to assess most science in any way, so perhaps I should not have mentioned Max's name - my point was more that these parts of the tournament definitely felt distinct from John's, whose portion I thought was the highest quality. In any case, I agree with you that this bonus was not particularly "interesting" and nor was the tossup on the idea of "Planet Nine."
Ike wrote: Also, not to be an ass, but in comparison to MO this was a much better set, Will. This tournament had fresh buzzable clues on canonical topics, smoother difficulty gradients, much fewer ambiguous clues, less duds, etc. I really think it would be worthwhile to back down from declaring this tournament "decent" and looking at it from a big picture approach instead of a "man a small number of X bonuses really frustrated me."
I mean, with a couple months' perspective and a fresh read-over I'd describe my own set as "decent" (certainly not the best set thus far this year - I'd say MLK was the best, without going into details as to spoil it). I messed up an awful lot of things while working on MO - such happens when you head-edit a set for the first time, not that this is really an excuse. We hit our most important difficulty goals with MO, though the set suffered from some third part excesses and needlessly hard early cluing that hurt pyramidality. I was very happy with the execution of some categories (I was very happy with how I did the history, for one) but we also could have done a much better job with using better/more interesting answerlines in others.

I liked this tournament more than Penn Bowl and less than MLK. Perhaps my expectations were overly inflated. The questions were often fun and interesting, they just often didn't feel like how they fit with how this Regionals set was advertised/conceived. This is not sour grapes over bad stats or anything on my part, because my dumb play mistakes were my own fault and I actually got to pull off a pretty thrilling upset. This tournament was simply something different than what I expected, a sentiment that some people shared in private, and in most ways it was below those expectations.
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Re: ACF Regionals 2016 General Discussion

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Mon Feb 01, 2016 5:11 pm

gyre and gimble wrote:
Periplus of the Erythraean Sea wrote:some Goguryeo emperor (whom none of Eric Mukherjee, Jordan Brownstein, and myself had ever heard of) etc.
Just saying, that guy is the one Goguryeo emperor worth knowing, except maybe its founder, Jumong. Gwanggaeto is a huge deal in Korea, made enormous territorial gains, and is probably the single most important Korean figure until Taejo founded the Goryeo dynasty. Definitely more important the Gold Spoon Oration, anyway. To me, these kinds of bonus hard parts don't seem that problematic. The fact that people in quizbowl haven't heard of something doesn't mean it's not important or famous on an absolute scale, and bonus parts like these help fill in the gaps so that more people become aware of those topics.
Yeah you shouldn't use me as a yardstick for this, though I agree it was pretty difficult. A freshman of Korean descent from our team got it, though, so that's something.

Call me boring, but is "Chris ray humor" really the right solution for a tournament feeling "dry"? I'd rather have bonus leadins that are substantive (i.e., contain clues), instead of being told that I am exploring some mountains or eating Italian food or whatever.
I don't care for those leadins, but I assume "Chris Ray Humor" mostly refers to the editorializing about how some rulers are terrible or whatever else. I like these, but I'd prefer if this kind of thing were kept to opens, as we're trying to professionalize ACF for a larger and larger market.
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Re: ACF Regionals 2016 General Discussion

Post by gerbilownage » Fri Feb 05, 2016 6:14 pm

Theater guy here. I enjoyed that this set had far more drama than any set in recent memory, and well distributed too! Some random uncollected thoughts:

--The "Turning into a rhinoceros" and "seance" questions were good ideas and well-thought questions.
--The "opposite of a stage musician" clue is a VERY famous line from the glass menagerie and possibly could have been moved later.
--Ives in the Ives/Hamlet/Venus in Furs bonus as a MIDDLE PART??
--Not to get on my soapbox(jk i'm doing it) and not to pick on this set specifically, there's other post 1990 drama besides Angels in America! The Laramie Project, August: Osage County, Six Degrees of Separation, and Doubt are all important works of drama that I would love to see in the canon. Maybe some Durang as well.
--I'm glad that the Massachusetts tossup mentioned "minor" American playwrights. There's so many important ones that are hard to put into a question, but I think the question did a good job of doing so.


Overall I was glad the editors made a conscious effort to make drama an important element of the literature distribution.
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Re: ACF Regionals 2016 General Discussion

Post by Unicolored Jay » Fri Feb 05, 2016 10:08 pm

gerbilownage wrote:
--The "Turning into a rhinoceros" and "seance" questions were good ideas and well-thought questions.
I'm glad to hear people enjoyed the "turning into a rhinoceros" question! The idea came to me as I was reading the play last summer and I initially wrote it out of amusement, but eventually I realized it was a good way of testing knowledge from the play and thus included it in our packet.
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Re: ACF Regionals 2016 General Discussion

Post by Evan Lynch » Sun Feb 07, 2016 8:07 am

Unicolored Jay wrote:
gerbilownage wrote:
--The "Turning into a rhinoceros" and "seance" questions were good ideas and well-thought questions.
I'm glad to hear people enjoyed the "turning into a rhinoceros" question! The idea came to me as I was reading the play last summer and I initially wrote it out of amusement, but eventually I realized it was a good way of testing knowledge from the play and thus included it in our packet.
My favourite tossup of the whole day, with Battle of Hoth a close second.

Overall I enjoyed the set - my own general lack of knowledge prevents me from spotting leadin problems and I figured the hard parts were mostly 'things I should know' rather than 'these are really obscure'. One exception was a couple of weird science bonuses, but I was also really pleased to get a hard part on Inverse Electron Demand Diels-Alder.

The only neg I'm unhappy about was negging the question about paintings of Danae with 'paintings of Judith' after the handmaid clue, but I probably just missed something earlier on.
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Re: ACF Regionals 2016 General Discussion

Post by Edmund » Sun Feb 07, 2016 8:09 am

The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote:editorializing about how some rulers are terrible or whatever else. I like these, but I'd prefer if this kind of thing were kept to opens, as we're trying to professionalize ACF for a larger and larger market.
This was my feeling. Some of the commentary, not even confined to lead-ins, came close to suggesting that if you don't share the political persuasion of the editorial clique, ACF quizbowl is not an open playing field for you. ACF Regionals has a broad and international audience; my opinion is that if you want to write this way, keep it to opens and housewrites.

Besides this - and an occasional, odd interest in requiring a hyphen to link an adverb to the adjective it modifies - I enjoyed the set while reading it. It generated some fiercely fought games and enabled a showcase for some great talent. Thanks for the help in making this tournament happen again in the UK, where I hope it'll become a permanent fixture in the manner of ACF Fall.
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Re: ACF Regionals 2016 General Discussion

Post by ThisIsMyUsername » Mon Feb 08, 2016 12:23 am

gerbilownage wrote:Theater guy here. I enjoyed that this set had far more drama than any set in recent memory, and well distributed too! Some random uncollected thoughts:

--The "Turning into a rhinoceros" and "seance" questions were good ideas and well-thought questions.
--The "opposite of a stage musician" clue is a VERY famous line from the glass menagerie and possibly could have been moved later.
--Ives in the Ives/Hamlet/Venus in Furs bonus as a MIDDLE PART??
--Not to get on my soapbox(jk i'm doing it) and not to pick on this set specifically, there's other post 1990 drama besides Angels in America! The Laramie Project, August: Osage County, Six Degrees of Separation, and Doubt are all important works of drama that I would love to see in the canon. Maybe some Durang as well.
--I'm glad that the Massachusetts tossup mentioned "minor" American playwrights. There's so many important ones that are hard to put into a question, but I think the question did a good job of doing so.


Overall I was glad the editors made a conscious effort to make drama an important element of the literature distribution.
I'm glad that you appreciated my efforts to have one drama tossup per packet (as well as one poetry tossup per packet).

I can't tell if you're complaining that Ives is too hard or too easy to be a middle part. He's definitely not too easy. Because he's so often performed in schools, and because Ted and I have both written on him multiple times at other tournaments, I was hoping that he has finally reached canonical middle-part status, but I may have overshot that.

Regarding the other post-1990 drama that you mention: I'm about as big a supporter of those things coming up as you can find in quizbowl. In 2014-2015 alone, I wrote tossups on Six Degrees of Separation and Christopher Durang (my third time writing on Durang for a tournament), and a bonus on August: Osage County. (And by the way, Doubt comes up all the time, almost too often.) But all of these works are too hard be tossed up at regular difficulty. The only way that they're going to get tossed up at ACF Regionals is as parts of common-links.
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Re: ACF Regionals 2016 General Discussion

Post by The Stately Rhododendron » Mon Feb 08, 2016 1:32 am

Of the anthro:
liked the "Imagined Communities" (I assume Chris Ray wrote it, no?) and the "celts" TU
disliked the Benedict TU. Please package her ideas in more imaginative ways than duuurrrr this woman wrote about that country Japan durrr here's a description of minor, lame work I found on wikipedia.
Couldn't you incorporate more Anthro into your SS TUs? The one about homosexuality, for example could do with an ethnography or two being mentioned.
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Re: ACF Regionals 2016 General Discussion

Post by gyre and gimble » Mon Feb 08, 2016 2:26 am

The Stately Rhododendron wrote:"Imaginary Communities"
I hope you didn't get points for saying "Imaginary Communities," because otherwise you should give those points back.
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Re: ACF Regionals 2016 General Discussion

Post by The Stately Rhododendron » Mon Feb 08, 2016 2:54 am

gyre and gimble wrote:
The Stately Rhododendron wrote:"Imaginary Communities"
I hope you didn't get points for saying "Imaginary Communities," because otherwise you should give those points back.
I'd say it was just a typo, but, while we had a bye that round, I did turn to Stephen and confidently show him my notebook, where I had written "Imaginary Communities."
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Re: ACF Regionals 2016 General Discussion

Post by theMoMA » Mon Feb 08, 2016 11:22 am

John informs me that the last mirrors have concluded, and requested that I make this subforum public, which it now should be.
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Re: ACF Regionals 2016 General Discussion

Post by Mike Bentley » Mon Feb 08, 2016 3:16 pm

theMoMA wrote:John informs me that the last mirrors have concluded, and requested that I make this subforum public, which it now should be.
I assume that packets will be posted soon as well?
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Re: ACF Regionals 2016 General Discussion

Post by AIRballer » Fri Feb 12, 2016 7:19 am

My thoughts on the set mostly echo what has been said above. I thought it was really enjoyable, and while this was my first time playing Regs as a tournament, from playing packets in practice it definitely felt like the editors goals regarding difficulty were at least mostly met, which I enjoyed. Congratulations to the editors and writers for their excellent work.

My only complaint, already mentioned, is about some of the political commentary in the questions. I hate the House of Saud as much as the question-writer, but I don't think lines such as "everyone who has ever run this country is awful" should really be in there. I cannot see how any humour or other gains from including it could outweigh the chance of someone having serious issue with it, and therefore having their tournament experience made substantially worse.

Overall, a very good set, and I agree with Edmund in that I hope this becomes a regular tournament on the UK circuit.
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Re: ACF Regionals 2016 General Discussion

Post by DumbJaques » Mon Feb 29, 2016 3:24 am

For some reason my notifications didn't come through, so I never saw the updated posts in this thread.
My only complaint, already mentioned, is about some of the political commentary in the questions. I hate the House of Saud as much as the question-writer, but I don't think lines such as "everyone who has ever run this country is awful" should really be in there. I cannot see how any humour or other gains from including it could outweigh the chance of someone having serious issue with it, and therefore having their tournament experience made substantially worse.
I don't agree with this at all, and in fact find it a bit absurd. You're saying that we should avoid editorializing in this case because someone could have their tournament experience "made substantially worse" because they have "serious issue" with the assertion that every ruler of the House of Saud has been terrible. This is, to indulge in a bit of editorializing, pretty dumb.

First of all, this statement isn't really even editorializing; the rulers of Saudi Arabia have a universal history of robust ineptitude and evil shit (punctuated at times by episodes of REALLY evil shit). Nobody who's serious about describing reality, including apparently you, would disagree with this. Indeed, the only people supposedly at risk here are those who (a) would find this appraisal libelous and insulting (and are thus really wrong, probably about a whole lot of things), and (b), would be so offended by this libelous insult that their whole tournament experience would seriously suffer.

Do you know the ONLY GROUP who this describes? Delusional assholes who defend horrible shit the Saudi regime has done - or perhaps more generously, not-delusional-but-still-pretty-ignorant people whose sense of nationalism overrides their sense of both external reality and moral responsibility. I do not care if these people are offended, or have their tournament experience ruined; this is because these people suck.
Really dude, do you know who has had their experience "made substantially worse"? All the people the rulers of Saudi Arabia have tortured and murdered (or just like, quietly oppressed and raped and controlled) ever since the country got going. What the hell are you even arguing for? Who are you arguing for?

Here are two implications of your argument:
-We should change the content of the tournament because accurately describing horrible things and people as horrible will offend the provincial identities of hypothetical zealots.
-We should sacrifice positive tournament experience for the vast majority of normal players because the zealots will
[Caveat here that this point is unrelated to the question of whether my jokes are actually, you know, funny; in fact, they probably suck, and there might be other reasons to get rid of them, but this reason is particularly asinine].

Of course, this is not a universal absolute; we should and do exercise prudent judgment. I might personally have, say, serious problems with how the left has approached free speech in recent years, but I'm never going to begin a bonus by saying "name these things that upset stupid pinko whiners, for 10 points each." In addition to being obviously different in the sort of critique (and target), the difference here is that this represents a complex question over which intelligent and informed people can reasonably disagree. Whereas I submit that the population who is both seriously offended and seriously harmed because a bonus I wrote accurately called terrible Saudi monarchs terrible is a set of people consisting entirely of, as suggest above, idiots.



On the more general point about editorializing: Yeah, I tend to do this too much, but I actually thought it was pretty minimal in this tournament (like Will, I counted one instance that sucked, and the rest that were fine and seemed to trigger both mirth and engagement among teams).

I'd also REALLY like to clear up some misconceptions about "Chris Ray humor," which is NOT represented by clues saying "you are a llama in the Incan empire," or that you're eating Italian food, or that involve quizbowl in-jokes (seriously, what the fuck is this doing on my qbwiki page? I HATE qb in-jokes in packets, it's exclusionary and not funny). To the extent that any of these things existed in this set, it wasn't because of me.

Rather, where I chose to indulge my editorial side was in the leadins to tossups/bonuses that added humorous anecdotes to clues that probably could have been a bit shorter and more concise. But I find this to be a perfectly definsible trade-off, if done unobtrusively (which I think the other editors and I navigated well in this set). You get to learn new things, people who are never going to buzz on leadins get engaged, and everyone gets to visualize the fantastic image of William Sprague chasing Roscoe Conkling out of his wife's bed with a shotgun instead of sitting through "The wife of one politician from this state had an affair with Roscoe Conkling."

I do accept that this is something that, if done too indulgently, will have its own negative consequences for the set; I'm continually trying to strike the right balance. But I can't say I have much interest in abandoning it... and I don't think people actually want me to?
If that's not the case, I'll try to listen to that critique and reassess. Then I'll probably keep writing about Tyler Perry's bizarre property feud with the racist asshole who owned the hotel from Heart of Atlanta. Because, like, someone should.
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Re: ACF Regionals 2016 General Discussion

Post by The King's Flight to the Scots » Mon Feb 29, 2016 11:54 am

Rather, where I chose to indulge my editorial side was in the leadins to tossups/bonuses that added humorous anecdotes to clues that probably could have been a bit shorter and more concise. But I find this to be a perfectly definsible trade-off, if done unobtrusively (which I think the other editors and I navigated well in this set). You get to learn new things, people who are never going to buzz on leadins get engaged, and everyone gets to visualize the fantastic image of William Sprague chasing Roscoe Conkling out of his wife's bed with a shotgun instead of sitting through "The wife of one politician from this state had an affair with Roscoe Conkling."

I do accept that this is something that, if done too indulgently, will have its own negative consequences for the set; I'm continually trying to strike the right balance. But I can't say I have much interest in abandoning it... and I don't think people actually want me to?
If that's not the case, I'll try to listen to that critique and reassess. Then I'll probably keep writing about Tyler Perry's bizarre property feud with the racist asshole who owned the hotel from Heart of Atlanta. Because, like, someone should.
Yeah, these clues are pretty spectacular, and most people would never learn them outside of quizbowl. Where else would we hear about Ulysses S. Grant's widely-panned performance as Desdemona in a Mexican-American War production of Othello? Nowhere, that's where.
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Re: ACF Regionals 2016 General Discussion

Post by Ike » Tue Mar 01, 2016 12:02 am

Chris, I don't think the problem is that you are expressing views that are "wrong," "unpopular," "incorrect," etc. but rather that it appears off-putting to teams who don't know you, or rather, aren't really in the circle of quizbowlers to understand that some amount of "roasting the Sauds" style editorializing is okay. In fact, if I didn't know you so well, I would be pretty confused by what you were trying to accomplish with Chris Ray humor.

On the other hand, I entirely agree with your point about "flavor-text" in questions. One of an editor's jobs is to make questions interesting and yours were among the more hilarious ones in the set.
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Re: ACF Regionals 2016 General Discussion

Post by DumbJaques » Tue Mar 01, 2016 5:34 pm

To be clear, I wasn't defending editorializing (which, let me remind people, happened in like 3-4 questions at this tournament!) as always ok because it's correct. It probably doesn't have much value added, and that's fine; I'm not like, intent on becoming a martyr for the odd packet joke, I just don't think they're a huge deal. Rather, I'm more disputing two things:
1) The use of "Chris Ray humor" to encompass editorializing and flavorful-but-still-viable-as-clues anecdotes, etc., which are very different things - I'll defend the latter but not the former (I don't even think of ediorializing as particularly humorous, really). I've always thought of my humor as ideally finding a colorful way to frame clues at the expense of a bit extra verbiage (and in shittier previous incarnations, way too much extra verbiage, which was a significant problem). I am more than a bit confused about why this term has been extended to like, stupid in-jokes or shit like that, which I've never made, and to a lesser extent to editorializing generally, which I'm far from the only person to include even if these things are justifiably criticized.
2) The logic used above to dictate what we should and shouldn't do in packets. That is, that throwaway line about the Saudis probably did suck, but it sucked because it added no value. It did not suck because, as argued in this thread, it might offend delusional Saudi nationalists, which of course represents a standard we would never want to employ in packets.

I mean, I'm really proud of the questions I wrote for this tournament, and the way they blended interesting stuff with gettable clues while keeping to a (in retrospect shockingly well-adhered to) length limit. I thought this was well-received by everyone I talked to - and, indeed, many of you have specifically voiced a desire for such questions to appear. This is what I think of as Chris Ray humor, and I hope that it can be reasonably separated from dumb editorializing (that, again, happened in like 3-4 questions in the set, max).
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Re: ACF Regionals 2016 General Discussion

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Tue Mar 01, 2016 5:38 pm

Anyone, even Chris Ray, should be able to write flavorful and interesting clues without being condemned for it.
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Re: ACF Regionals 2016 General Discussion

Post by Cheynem » Tue Mar 01, 2016 5:38 pm

We love you Chris!!!!!
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Re: ACF Regionals 2016 General Discussion

Post by Excelsior (smack) » Tue Mar 01, 2016 7:18 pm

Historical question, I guess - if Chris Ray isn't the fellow behind things like "You are a nomad in 12th-century Kyrgyzstan. Answer these questions about your life in the Central Asian steppe for 10 points each.", then who is? I always figured (perhaps incorrectly) this was the sort of thing that would be Chris Ray's handiwork. Thing is, that bonus structure often metamorphoses into things like "You are noted Jeopardy! contestant Matt Jackson. For 10 points each, answer questions about polydactyly, which is a thing you are reputed to have." I imagine this is why "Chris Ray humor" is perceived as in-jokey.
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Re: ACF Regionals 2016 General Discussion

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Tue Mar 01, 2016 7:36 pm

Excelsior (smack) wrote:Historical question, I guess - if Chris Ray isn't the fellow behind things like "You are a nomad in 12th-century Kyrgyzstan. Answer these questions about your life in the Central Asian steppe for 10 points each.", then who is? I always figured (perhaps incorrectly) this was the sort of thing that would be Chris Ray's handiwork. Thing is, that bonus structure often metamorphoses into things like "You are noted Jeopardy! contestant Matt Jackson. For 10 points each, answer questions about polydactyly, which is a thing you are reputed to have." I imagine this is why "Chris Ray humor" is perceived as in-jokey.
It may have an older provenance, but the first time I remember seeing that bonus formulation was in one of Bruce's CO History tournaments.
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Re: ACF Regionals 2016 General Discussion

Post by Habitat_Against_Humanity » Tue Mar 01, 2016 8:17 pm

Auks Ran Ova wrote:
Excelsior (smack) wrote:Historical question, I guess - if Chris Ray isn't the fellow behind things like "You are a nomad in 12th-century Kyrgyzstan. Answer these questions about your life in the Central Asian steppe for 10 points each.", then who is? I always figured (perhaps incorrectly) this was the sort of thing that would be Chris Ray's handiwork. Thing is, that bonus structure often metamorphoses into things like "You are noted Jeopardy! contestant Matt Jackson. For 10 points each, answer questions about polydactyly, which is a thing you are reputed to have." I imagine this is why "Chris Ray humor" is perceived as in-jokey.
It may have an older provenance, but the first time I remember seeing that bonus formulation was in one of Bruce's CO History tournaments.
I think Bruce's ultimate question formulation was "Paraguay, Uruguay, both or neither?"
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Re: ACF Regionals 2016 General Discussion

Post by DumbJaques » Tue Mar 01, 2016 9:41 pm

Yeah that's vintage Bruce. The only thing Brucer than that is Hungarian dinosaur warlords.
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Re: ACF Regionals 2016 General Discussion

Post by Captain Sinico » Tue Mar 01, 2016 10:58 pm

I recall that the "You're a _____. Answer the following about your life." style of question began as a sardonic, ham-handed, and thus totally appropriate response to an ill-conceived crusade for more social history, the latter possibly led by one or both Wehrman brothers. The first such question I can remember told me I was a medieval peasant - I continue to insist that I am no such thing. Who wrote the first one, I cannot say, but I believe they antedate the Chris Ray era by some time.
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