2016 SCT general discussion

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2016 SCT general discussion

Post by Important Bird Area » Sun Feb 07, 2016 2:11 am

This is your discussion thread for big-picture issues about the 2016 NAQT SCT (either division). If you'd like to discuss the specific text of a particular question, please use the two threads available for that purpose.
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Re: 2016 SCT general discussion

Post by theMoMA » Sun Feb 07, 2016 2:47 am

Hey, I may drop by for some extended thoughts later, but for now, this is a short expression of my thanks to the various people who made this set happen. Foremost among them are Trevor Davis and Richard Yu, whose editorial work on the set was excellent. I'm also very grateful to Ike Jose, Matt Jackson, Zeke Berdichevsky, Travis Vitello, Aaron Cohen, Danny Vopava, Jason Thompson, Tejas Raje, Dennis Sun, Chris Manners, Billy Busse, Aaron Rosenberg, and many others for contributing their writing (and in some cases, their editorial expertise in particular categories). I particularly want to single out Richard, Ike, Matt, Zeke, and Travis for writing substantial numbers of excellent questions as we pushed to complete the set.

Finally, this set depends each year on the tireless efforts of NAQT's core members; it's easy to focus on editing the set when Jonah is taking care of technical issues, R. is in charge of DII editing and coordinating DI writing pushes, Jeff is handling the logistical issues, etc. (I'd be remiss not to mention the editorial, logistical, and writing efforts of Larissa Kelly, Matt Bruce, and Andrew Yaphe as well.) It was especially kind of Seth to lend his science expertise whenever I needed it despite his other commitments.

This set becomes more and more fun to edit each year; the number of excellent writers who continue to sign up and pitch in make it a real pleasure. This is a shameless plug, but please consider signing up to write if you're on the fence. Whether you're just starting out or planning to cycle out of academia soon and looking for a way to stay connected, there's an opportunity to write however many questions you'd like at whatever level you'd like. And selfishly, it makes my job a lot easier when people like i.e. Ike, Matt Jackson, Tejas, Matt Bollinger, Chris Manners, Billy, Aaron, etc., etc. sign up and contribute their expertise.
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Re: 2016 SCT general discussion

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Sun Feb 07, 2016 4:20 pm

It was fun to get to play an NAQT set for the first time in two years, and I enjoyed a lot of the miscellaneous and CE questions, as well as the history, which I think was superb overall. Kudos. The rest of the set's academic content in the categories I feel competent to judge was quite good for the most part - the few art, music, and philosophy questions I got to play seemed very good, as was the myth.

The distribution was extremely frustrating (playing about as many sports questions as classical music ones across the tournament sucked) but that's a feature of the format and not a bug, and plenty of other people enjoy these topics. With the influx of more good new writers into NAQT, I hope in the future that the distribution can be shifted towards more academic topics without sacrificing innovative questions, the latter of which make sets like this fun to play, and give you a shot at interesting, academic material that rarely sees the light of day in mACF tournaments.

EDIT: I don't know crap about law but I suspect that the law questions in this set were far, far too hard for the field other than for the law students. I don't know if anyone else shares this feeling.
Last edited by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea on Sun Feb 07, 2016 4:42 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: 2016 SCT general discussion

Post by Corry » Sun Feb 07, 2016 4:23 pm

I had fun playing this set. Overall, the difficulty seemed appropriate. In addition, the common links within this set's "miscellaneous"-category questions largely seemed organic rather than contrived, and the geography questions generally had interesting clues, as opposed to random place names (these two being the most common complaints about NAQT sets, I think). Good work!

Now, there were certainly a few clunkers and other questions-that-probably-seemed-like-better-ideas-in-the-writers'-heads; I'll post a few of them in the specific questions thread when I get the chance. That being said, I don't believe any of these questions really affected the wider quality of the set. Speaking more broadly, I feel that SCT can often get away with more aberrational questions than other sets since NAQT tossups are so much shorter- even when an answer line just completely blows both teams out of the water in terms of difficulty, it's still less painful than trudging through 8 lines of difficulty hell within a more standard set.
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Re: 2016 SCT general discussion

Post by Ike » Sun Feb 07, 2016 4:57 pm

Hey guys,

So I wrote a large number of questions for the set - NAQT's stats page says 72, which is the second-most (congrats to me I guess!). I don't think I have a whole lot to say about NAQT that you don't know, except I will say that when you're writing for NAQT, there isn't really a whole lot of room to joke around. Some people have complained about how my Gericault or Theory of the Leisure Class tossups cut right to the point - that seems like the right thing to do in NAQT.

There is a fine balance between interesting and useful clues, and it's not entirely obvious where that is. I think the Borges tossup I wrote is an example of more of the interesting side of the line-- perhaps the tossup would have played better if I didn't spend a line talking about ~Borges and the Eternal Orangutans~, but I was so amused by that book I just made it a lead-in. I guess I could have put in another clue about a story or essay people are more likely to have encountered - if people felt the set would have been more playable with more clues like that, I guess you should all speak up, and I'll try to keep that in mind for the future.

Thanks,

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Re: 2016 SCT general discussion

Post by theMoMA » Sun Feb 07, 2016 5:02 pm

Periplus of the Erythraean Sea wrote:The distribution was extremely frustrating (playing about as many sports questions as classical music ones across the tournament sucked) but that's a feature of the format and not a bug, and plenty of other people enjoy these topics. With the influx of more good new writers into NAQT, I hope in the future that the distribution can be shifted towards more academic topics without sacrificing innovative questions, the latter of which make sets like this fun to play, and give you a shot at interesting, academic material that rarely sees the light of day in mACF tournaments.
In the 16-packet SCT set, there were 22 classical music questions, in addition to 8 opera questions and 2 miscellaneous musical arts questions. There were 15 sports questions. I don't agree with the assertion that there were "about as many sports questions as classical music ones." By the most restrictive definition, there were about two-thirds as many sports questions as classical music ones; by the most permissive definition, musical fine arts outnumbered sports by over two questions to one.

Some of what I said last year bears repeating:
gauche self-quote wrote:NAQT college packets have 24 tossups and 24 bonuses. ACF packets have 20/20. Combined, the categories of geography, current events, pop culture, sports, miscellaneous, and general knowledge make up just over a fifth of NAQT's distribution. Factoring in that ACF packets contain many of these categories (with lesser emphasis), almost all of the difference between the 48 questions in an NAQT packet and the 40 question in an ACF packet is the difference between these categories. In other words, in a given NAQT packet, you're getting basically what you'd get in an ACF packet (with a bit more wiggle room for variation between packets), with some additional emphasis on these categories tacked on. Of course, what you're getting in extra questions, you're losing in question length.
(I also failed to note that a large majority of NAQT's "miscellaneous" questions are, in fact, purely academic.)

Obviously, as Billy pointed out last year, there is no guarantee that a team will hear all 24 questions. It is also true that the NAQT distribution has different proportions of academic material than the ACF distribution does (for example, there are 22 philosophy questions in SCT; an ACF tournament with 16 packets will likely have between 28 and 32 philosophy questions, depending on how the set has been whittled down to 20/20 from the 24/24 submissions). But it bears repeating that, in terms of number of questions, the academic content in an SCT packet is about the same as what you'd get in an ACF packet, with an additional ~4/4 of content you don't find as often in ACF.
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Re: 2016 SCT general discussion

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Sun Feb 07, 2016 5:06 pm

As I said, "playing about as many classical music questions as sports ones sucked" and the rest of your post stands, since there's a good chance we just didn't hear the other questions on account of game length. That's how the format goes. As I said above, the miscellaneous questions were highly enjoyable and definitely added to the set's experience.
Ike wrote:Some people have complained about how my Gericault or Theory of the Leisure Class tossups cut right to the point - that seems like the right thing to do in NAQT.
I appreciated this about the tournament a lot, actually. I think a big mistake I've made in writing questions is spending too long getting to the point - I'd rather you get to the core of important academic material quickly than spend time messing around with clues that are interesting, but unlikely to be buzzed on. I actually rarely found this to be that problematic in triggering buzzer races - the more problematic questions were those with several lines of interesting but tough material that devolved into easier stuff.
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Re: 2016 SCT general discussion

Post by Cody » Sun Feb 07, 2016 7:44 pm

Ike wrote:I think the Borges tossup I wrote is an example of more of the interesting side of the line-- perhaps the tossup would have played better if I didn't spend a line talking about ~Borges and the Eternal Orangutans~, but I was so amused by that book I just made it a lead-in. I guess I could have put in another clue about a story or essay people are more likely to have encountered - if people felt the set would have been more playable with more clues like that, I guess you should all speak up, and I'll try to keep that in mind for the future.
Didn't we have a similar discussion in reference to too-hard lead-ins in the ICT thread last year? I'm a million percent in favor of "funny" clues, as I would call them, but you really have to restrict that in SCT and ICT. It doesn't matter if one line in a seven line tossup is unbuzzable (though that should not be the usual case); it matters hugely when it's one line in four/four and a half/five lines. It's to be avoided at all costs because it necessarily introduces a cliff (and potentially a big one).

Edit: since that might come off as a major complaint about the set, I'd like to note that I thought the set, on the whole, was very good (the best I've read this year) and I was extremely happy with how well proofread it was.

In future years, it would be helpful to hyphenate science words that are amenable to it instead of adding a pronunciation guide. Having a chance to process a pronunciation guide while reading timed games is the exception, not the norm.
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Re: 2016 SCT general discussion

Post by theMoMA » Sun Feb 07, 2016 11:59 pm

Thanks, Cody, for bringing up pronunciation guides. They're something I think we'll continue to work on improving. This year, the big change was that we implemented code that renders PGs in a different font, size, and color; when I was moderating, I thought it worked really, really well, and allowed me to glance over the ones I didn't need while knowing exactly where to look when I did need them. (Major thanks to Jonah and R. for their coding expertise and their willingness to get this project off the ground.) That said, the code to distinguish PGs from other bracketed content isn't 100% perfect, and that's one area that we're working to improve.

I'm also hopeful that we'll be able to work out a way to use interpuncts for certain science words. If anyone has ideas about how this would look (i.e. whether interpuncts should be in the primary text, if there should be a second version of the word with interpuncts rendered in brackets, etc.), we'd definitely appreciate input.
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Re: 2016 SCT general discussion

Post by The Stately Rhododendron » Mon Feb 08, 2016 1:20 am

Really enjoyed the Anthro in this set (as an Anthro major). The mention of Appadurai (even tho I find him... prolix) in the India TU, the "salvage ethnography" bonus and the truly fantastic "documentary" TU all spring to mind as examples of quizbowl talking about things people in Anthropology actually talk about (rather than "this 5th most important book by Ruth Benedict!").
Imagine a world.... where QB anthro talked about a post 1970 enthnography/ I couldn't if I tried/ constantly answer questions/ about obscure old works whose imperialism + chauvinism is bona fideeee
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Re: 2016 SCT general discussion

Post by Ike » Mon Feb 08, 2016 11:05 am

The Stately Rhododendron wrote:Really enjoyed the Anthro in this set (as an Anthro major). The mention of Appadurai (even tho I find him... prolix) in the India TU, the "salvage ethnography" bonus and the truly fantastic "documentary" TU all spring to mind as examples of quizbowl talking about things people in Anthropology actually talk about (rather than "this 5th most important book by Ruth Benedict!").
Imagine a world.... where QB anthro talked about a post 1970 enthnography/ I couldn't if I tried/ constantly answer questions/ about obscure old works whose imperialism + chauvinism is bona fideeee
Thanks! Not sure what that extended haiku in the last sentence is...
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Re: 2016 SCT general discussion

Post by Cody » Mon Feb 08, 2016 11:53 am

Interpuncts in the primary name are best, especially in chemical names where it makes a lot of sense to do so (building blocks and all). Ammonium tetrathiocyanatodiamminechromate(III) is better rendered as "tetra-thio-cyanato-diammine-chromate", a big improvement over a pronunciation guide. (first random long chemical name I could find). Even carbo-cation is imo as good as a PG, for a simpler case.
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Re: 2016 SCT general discussion

Post by Muriel Axon » Mon Feb 08, 2016 12:31 pm

The Stately Rhododendron wrote:Really enjoyed the Anthro in this set (as an Anthro major). The mention of Appadurai (even tho I find him... prolix) in the India TU, the "salvage ethnography" bonus and the truly fantastic "documentary" TU all spring to mind as examples of quizbowl talking about things people in Anthropology actually talk about (rather than "this 5th most important book by Ruth Benedict!").
Imagine a world.... where QB anthro talked about a post 1970 enthnography/ I couldn't if I tried/ constantly answer questions/ about obscure old works whose imperialism + chauvinism is bona fideeee
As much as I applaud the sentiment and Pound-like poetics of this post, I'll defend "old works whose imperialism + chauvinism is bona fideeee" -- although not obscure ones. I think it's important to ask about old ethnographies, even ones that anthropologists today might be embarrassed of (lookin' at you, Tylor...), because of the valuable work they did setting the foundations of the field and staking out intellectual territory. The problem with a lot of quiz bowl anthropology is that, for a long time, there was too much of the old stuff and less representation of where the field is today, which isn't surprising, since as with any field, most people who write anthropology questions have not seriously studied anthropology. I don't think this is still a pressing issue -- recent questions have included material from Appadurai, Tsing, Abu-Lughod, Asad, Scheper-Hughes, Graeber, Clifford, and Marcus.

Anyway, I agree that the anthropology in this set was good.
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Re: 2016 SCT general discussion

Post by sonstige » Mon Feb 08, 2016 12:52 pm

theMoMA wrote:I'm also hopeful that we'll be able to work out a way to use interpuncts for certain science words. If anyone has ideas about how this would look (i.e. whether interpuncts should be in the primary text, if there should be a second version of the word with interpuncts rendered in brackets, etc.), we'd definitely appreciate input.
I agree with Cody's post, and I'd be a bit reluctant to want to see, as a reader, the primary text AND a bracketed interpunct version (all followed by a pronunciation guide, even!). I think, especially on a timed round, I'd lose my place pretty quickly that way.

I'd vote for the interpunct idea Cody suggested (followed by a pronuncation guide, if necessary) to make the readers' lives easier. Granted, this affects the number of characters needed to compose the question in NAQT-space, which may be trivial (although on some sets, I can see how adding a bunch of hyphens can be detrimental) .... so maybe an idea would be to not count hyphens against the character limit in some cases?
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Re: 2016 SCT general discussion

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Mon Feb 08, 2016 1:16 pm

Looking at these packets physically, the pronunciation guides are quite nice-looking and easy to skip over if you don't need them. I think the implementation here was really solid.
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Re: 2016 SCT general discussion

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Tue Feb 09, 2016 1:58 am

I really enjoyed this set--I thought it was great as a reader and had fun playing the leftover packets afterwards, and even with the occasional clunker I think it was the best set I've seen this year. I'm happy SCT has risen to such a consistent level of quality.

If I had to make a wide-ranging complaint, it's that some tossups (especially in DII) were a little cavalier about dropping fairly easy titles very early.
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Re: 2016 SCT general discussion

Post by Corry » Wed Feb 10, 2016 5:55 pm

Periplus of the Erythraean Sea wrote: EDIT: I don't know crap about law but I suspect that the law questions in this set were far, far too hard for the field other than for the law students. I don't know if anyone else shares this feeling.
Oh yeah, this reminds me: I definitely also felt that the law in this set was way too difficult. I suspect that Andrew Yaphe is simply too skilled of a lawyer.
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Re: 2016 SCT general discussion

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Wed Feb 10, 2016 7:38 pm

I'll allude to the usual boilerplate here about how much it sucks that we can't see a PDF of this set to criticize it
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Re: 2016 SCT general discussion

Post by Benin Rebirth Party » Sun Feb 14, 2016 6:18 pm

I disliked the lack of "Classical" era classical music questions in this set.
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