EFT 2016: Tournament Goals/Philosophy and Discussion

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EFT 2016: Tournament Goals/Philosophy and Discussion

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Mon Sep 19, 2016 4:45 pm

Thanks for playing EFT, everyone! I hope you enjoyed the set. I know it’s not the hardest set in the world, but we put an awful lot of thought and hard work into this tournament and, at the risk of sounding overconfident, I think the end product really reflects this (aside from the phrasing and grammar errors littered throughout the first version). I wrote a little less than half as many questions for this tournament as I did for Missouri Open (though all these were longer), but I think I put more overall work into this tournament and it shows.

Before going any further, I’d like to extend some serious thanks to my co-editors and co-writers. Richard and Andrew, the other editors, did a great job at their writing portions of the tournament (Richard wrote the second most questions) and were both extremely helpful in sanity-checking the set as a whole. Eddie Kim and Jason Cheng each took on significant writing commitments and put out admirable work. Parikshit Chauhan, Jason Zhou, and Ryan Humphrey - all of them new writers - each did a good job (particularly considering their experience level) of finding good clues, writing on time and responding to feedback. Also, everyone did an admirable job of putting up with my nagging, nitpicking, and other such behavior throughout the process.

In particular, I’d like to single out Jason Cheng, who I actually cooked up this tournament idea with in the first place. Jason didn’t end up writing as much as a lot of the rest of us (though he still wrote over 60 questions), but he went well beyond his role as a writer and gave tons of feedback. He also went above and beyond to find under-asked topics in American literature that he thought people would have engaged with, and the data we have seem to suggest that he was correct in his assessments.

I’d also like to extend a thank-you to our outside help. Our “consultants” were Ike and Auroni - Ike helped sanity-check the philosophy and literature (the former in particular) and Auroni helped us keep difficulty in line across most of the humanities categories, in particular by pointing out things that were too hard. Billy Busse and Ike (again) helped assist us in completing parts of the tournament we were having difficulties with - Ike edited the Other Science and wrote several questions, and Billy was instrumental in finishing the science and keeping its quality high while maintaining accessibility.

I’d like to spend a little time talking about this tournament’s approach and philosophy. We said we wanted to create a tournament that was both:

1) Accessible to newer players
2) Provided a meaningful experience for more experienced teams, and would be fair for such teams to compete on (though probably not as fine a separator as, say, ACF Nationals)

A lot of people were skeptical of our ability to accomplish both of these goals, and said we would veer too much in the direction of catering to the veterans we said we wanted to see at our sites. I personally think the numbers reflect that we hit a good balance - new players got meaningful numbers of powers, bonus middle parts, and bonus hard parts, but veterans weren’t just 30ing and powering absolutely everything left and right except in the categories that they’re really good at. In any case, I think these factors were the most important:

Answerline Restraint: We said in our original announcement that at least 75% of answers would be appropriate for ACF Fall. I think we ended up exceeding that - almost all our tossup answerlines were on topics that could be middle or easy parts at ACF Fall. In addition, we made sure that each tossup answerline had enough clues to create a pyramid where there were real middle-late clues and pre-FTP clues available that weren't relying too heavily on venturing into other categories, and scrapped planned answers when we realized this wasn't possible. I think this is crucial to keeping newer teams engaged and avoiding throwing topics they’ve never heard of.

Careful Bonus Difficulty Control: We erred strongly on the side of making our bonuses easier and cross-checked against each other to ensure that each bonus had a part that was truly easy for an introductory team, a gettable middle part, and a hard part that wasn't asking for serious reach. Our initial draft probably had a few bonuses where there wasn't enough distinction between the easy and middle part - we're working on that, of course.

Playtesting Tournament: I think the hypothesis that “a live playtesting tournament is much better than IRC sessions” ended up being correct. We not only got more data on what questions were too tough/too easy, but we also got overall numbers to see “how we were doing.” Getting to playtest the set on some less experienced players, as well as some veterans, meant we got to see how a wide spectrum of players did. In addition to this, most questions got an in-house playtesting at some point.

I personally think there's room for more regular season tournaments to be of this level. Regionals and SCT definitely should stay as they are because those are the tournaments that determine if you get to go to nationals, and there's definitely room for regular-plus style sets like MLK, 2012's QUARK, and Penn Bowl 2014. But I think there's room for more than just MUT at this level, and I hope this tournament serves to demonstrate that you can cater to both an experienced and introductory audience.

Thanks once again, and discuss away.
Last edited by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea on Mon Sep 19, 2016 6:20 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: EFT Tournament Goals/Philosophy and Discussion

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Mon Sep 19, 2016 4:46 pm

For reference, here’s a list of who did what in terms of editing and writing:

Literature (Richard - editor)
American Lit - Jason C.
British Lit - Jason C and Richard
European Lit - Jason C, with contributions from Richard and Will
Other Lit - Richard, with contributions from Will and Jason C.

Biology, Chemistry, Physics (Andrew Wang - editor)
Biology - Andrew, with contributions from Jason C.
Chemistry - Andrew
Physics - Andrew and Billy

Other Science (Ike - editor) - Ryan Humphrey, with contributions from Ike

Other Categories (Will - editor)
American History - Richard
Continental European History - Jason Z, with contributions from Will
British, Classical, Commonwealth, Near East - Jason Z.
World History - Will
Painting - Parikshit Chauhan, with a guest question by Will
Music - Eddie Kim, with a guest question by Will
Other Arts - Richard, Will, and Eddie, with a guest question by Ike
Religion - Will, with contributions from Richard, Eddie, and Andrew
Mythology - Eddie
Philosophy - Will
Social Science - Will
Other - Will, with contributions from Richard, Andrew, and Jason C.
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Re: EFT Tournament Goals/Philosophy and Discussion

Post by Jason Cheng » Mon Sep 19, 2016 5:58 pm

I'm really proud of what we ended up with, and it's good to hear from the people who played the Skype mirror yesterday that what I had in mind for this set mostly played out--very accessible, regs-minus, high quality and consistent, and "fresh feeling" (i.e., still interesting and fun/"rewarding" to play for more experienced players without relying on harder clues or necessarily busting the canon wide open).

Putting together this set was an incredibly rewarding and fun experience for me, not in the least because every member of the writing team was fully engaged and fantastic to work with (as this apparently 35k+ message FB chat bears out). Since this was my first large-scale writing project at the college level, being able to rely on, get feedback from, or even just shoot the shit with seven (I guess eight other people now that Ophir's being awesome and doing in-depth conversion stats on our set) other people made me feel a lot more comfortable and much more engaged with the process.

Having heard some vague rumbling of doubts from the outside about Will as a head editor throughout the half a year of production WHICH I TOTALLY DIDN'T BELIEVE AT ALL, I have to say that production went by as perfectly as I could've expected. Will was a very involved head-editor and was really good about "project managing," reminding us of deadlines, goals, and overall set philosophy, while also being willing to discuss, compromise, and sometimes even back off and concede when we disagreed with him. He also wrote 174 questions and was deeply involved in God knows however many more written by the rest of us.

I'll save my content-based thoughts on what I wrote for the specific discussion thread.

I also want to thank Auroni for playtesting and giving me in-depth feedback on literally every single literature question I wrote, and Richard again for doing all the packetizing and final editing the last couple of weeks while I was traveling, and Ike for reminding me to do a last-minute sanity check on the lit before the set was due, which pushed us to completely reevaluate the distro.

Also,
Will wrote:Jason didn’t end up writing as much as a lot of the rest of us (though he still wrote over 60 questions)
While I did procrastinate like crazy, it's hard to catch up when ryu pumps out like ten lit questions a night :(
Last edited by Jason Cheng on Mon Sep 19, 2016 6:16 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: EFT Tournament Goals/Philosophy and Discussion

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Mon Sep 19, 2016 6:15 pm

<3 u Jason bby but
Jason Cheng wrote:He also wrote 137 questions
come on, it was 174 questions

EDIT: we literally have a "how much have you written" tracker in the docs, too... :roll:
Last edited by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea on Mon Sep 19, 2016 6:18 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: EFT Tournament Goals/Philosophy and Discussion

Post by Jason Cheng » Mon Sep 19, 2016 6:16 pm

I was almost there
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Re: EFT Tournament Goals/Philosophy and Discussion

Post by Irreligion in Bangladesh » Mon Sep 19, 2016 10:10 pm

I'm a bad college generalist with good coverage of HS-accessible answer lines from moderating for years; if I play a set that advertises "75% of tossups should have ACF Fall answer lines" and "top teams can have competitive matches, even if it's not ACF Nationals level of differentiation," I should know basically every tossup answer line and shouldn't power or 30 too many things. I knew something like 99% of the answer lines (a couple science things excepted) and powered a little under two tossups per game, because "editing History Bowl nationals" makes you a bit better at hard questions than I was this time last year. As far as my particular skill level goes, mission accomplished! I expect this tournament to be received very well among new players - they're going to learn about some interesting, important things that come up all the time in quizbowl, and they're going to do so while scoring a couple hundred points a game. I also expect this "playtesting via Skype mirror" idea to take off; old coots like myself should be flocking to this.

I really enjoyed the history; I got good buzzes in the topics I liked and got suitably punished for not knowing things in the sub-categories that I dread writing. The answer lines were interesting without being ridiculous; it felt like a steady stream of well-delivered fastballs. I hope our moderators were taking notes of "player said this tossup was good;" I wasn't keeping good enough notes, and I wish I was so I could call out individual good questions. (If somebody posts history answer lines, I'll give it a crack.) Jason, Richard, and Will -- if you ever want to write questions at this difficulty level for NHBB, I'd love to give you wheelbarrows of cash.

Thank you again to everyone involved!
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Re: EFT Tournament Goals/Philosophy and Discussion

Post by adamsil » Sun Oct 23, 2016 10:11 pm

Just wanted to chime in to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this set, but especially the science; Andrew + others, you did a tremendous job to keep it real but also accessible. There were a lot of hard parts in this set that would be in a gray area between middle and hard at Regionals, but worked great here to test core knowledge (pseudo-steady-state, streaking to single, free induction decay, beta-mercaptoethanol, etc.)

The chemistry seemed to be extremely slanted toward analytical chemistry and labwork in general: in just the 12 rounds I heard, there were individual questions about IR spec, colorimetry/spectrophotometry, NMR, mass spec, and X-ray diffraction, plus individual clues on Mossbauer and XAS. This worked out well for me--I'd much rather hear questions about stuff that people actually do in labs than listen to random named organic reactions--but it was unusual to hear so many questions beginning "this technique."
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Re: EFT Tournament Goals/Philosophy and Discussion

Post by Banned Tiny Toon Adventures Episode » Sun Oct 23, 2016 10:52 pm

adamsil wrote:Just wanted to chime in to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this set, but especially the science; Andrew + others, you did a tremendous job to keep it real but also accessible. There were a lot of hard parts in this set that would be in a gray area between middle and hard at Regionals, but worked great here to test core knowledge (pseudo-steady-state, streaking to single, free induction decay, beta-mercaptoethanol, etc.)

The chemistry seemed to be extremely slanted toward analytical chemistry and labwork in general: in just the 12 rounds I heard, there were individual questions about IR spec, colorimetry/spectrophotometry, NMR, mass spec, and X-ray diffraction, plus individual clues on Mossbauer and XAS. This worked out well for me--I'd much rather hear questions about stuff that people actually do in labs than listen to random named organic reactions--but it was unusual to hear so many questions beginning "this technique."
I'm glad to hear you enjoyed the science. I definitely think I had a little too much "this technique" going on but figured it was somewhat justifiable considering how core the individual techniques are, and for IR+XRD I tried to approach them as mostly theory so that'd they'd be more physical chemistry.
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Re: EFT Tournament Goals/Philosophy and Discussion

Post by Victor Prieto » Sun Oct 23, 2016 11:26 pm

Bubalus Period wrote:
adamsil wrote:...but it was unusual to hear so many questions beginning "this technique."
I'm glad to hear you enjoyed the science. I definitely think I had a little too much "this technique" going on but figured it was somewhat justifiable considering how core the individual techniques are, and for IR+XRD I tried to approach them as mostly theory so that'd they'd be more physical chemistry.
No, please do this more! Analytical chemistry is such a great way to test across different fields of chemistry, because every field has its own core set of analytical techniques used for research (ignoring computational chemistry).
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Re: EFT Tournament Goals/Philosophy and Discussion

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Mon Oct 24, 2016 1:40 pm

Progcon wrote:One thing I would like to bring up is the preponderance of common link answerlines--especially in RMP and Social Science. This might be contrary to the consensus, but I feel that on this difficulty, there should be fewer common link answerlines. This is for two reasons.

1. When you have answerlines like "female" or "race", I imagine this will create a lot of buzzzer races at the end of tossup for inexperienced teams. I also feel like these tossups are very easy to neg on. I'm not sure what the alternative is here, but I think a modern feminism bonus (eg. Gloria Steinem) or a critical race theory bonus would have served these disciplines better.

2. Tossups like "ethics" (where I buzzed two clues late because I felt the tossup was describing "morality" and didn't know what to say) are confusing to new players. I feel I'd rather just hear a tossup on "The Metaphysics of Morals" or "G.E. Moore" but I understand that the conversation rate would fall. In RMP and Social Science, I just don't really see the value of having tossup answerlines like "White" which I negged with "Sky" because I'm an idiot and the tossup on "demand" required knowledge learned in Econ 201. Is "Jainism" too easy for this level? I wouldn't have a problem with it because it does come up at Fall but the "demand" tossup was questionable. There weren't econometrics questions that I remember in this set which I feel is more "real" but that's an aside.

What I am trying to say is that I think the answerlines could be a little more concrete even at this difficulty. I am glad that there weren't too many tossups with really out there answerlines like "Roman Walls" or "Ships from the Aeniad". As I said in the beginning, the difficulty was perfect but I felt that there were some unnecessary common links particularly in RMP and Social Science.
To briefly iterate my philosophy: I avoided trying to toss up too many minor religions or random thinkers because:

1) I wanted to ask about important, famous concepts that I've run across in my non-quizbowl learning of social science/philosophy/religion (using the logic of "this is more likely to generate easily playable tossups than thinking about what's been done before in this game")
2) For the most part, I would rather reward knowledge of a wide variety of world religious practices at this level than in-depth knowledge of minor religions (I've heard enough bonuses on "name this Sikh practice"). And for the record, there are no answers that are "too easy" for any level, because there are John Keats tossups at Chicago Open!
3) Tossing up something like G.E. Moore at this level is going to fly over way too many peoples' heads. Same with a Kant title other than Critique of Pure Reason. As it is, philosophy had one of the lowest power rates of any subject in the tournament, even though proportionally I think it was easier compared to Regionals level than some of our other categories were.

I think your point about common links creating buzzer-races at the end is important, because that's a real issue when the clues chosen are extremely hard and then you have a BS giveaway. I tried to avoid this by using important ideas and people that get talked about often. This almost certainly wasn't perfect, and I'm curious if things actually did play out that way. I hope that people like W. E. B. duBois and Simone de Beauvoir being mentioned probably prevented things from playing out as "find your ass at this giveaway" - but if they did I am very sorry to hear that.

Here's the thing: people take actual classes on racial studies, gender studies, etc. I'm not one of them, but I know many people who do and I enjoy learning about them because the concepts discussed in them are important to key trends in modern scholarship. For a tournament that will probably get some newer faces, I'd like to ask questions about things that people might learn in an intro class than something they would get by browsing a packet. That demand tossup, for example, was written 100% out of things I learned in introductory economics (except for the leadin). And it's not as if packet knowledge was completely ignored either!

Another thing is that a lot of the subjects I explored are sourced from thinkers which players may be unlikely to have in-depth knowledge of beyond their seminal works on a given topic. For example, that race tossup has a clue about Gunnar Myrdal's most famous work, An American Dilemma. This was an extremely important book that had an impact on the Brown v. Board decision, but Myrdal is obviously far, far too hard to write a tossup on at this level. It's also got a clue about a widely-cited study about indirect racial discrimination via names, which I could never hope to ask the authors of (almost nobody would convert that) in a bonus for. I think relegating things like this to bonuses only is disservicing a lot of people, because you aren't always guaranteed to hear a specific bonus, but you are definitely guaranteed to hear a tossup that is within the 20 in regulation gameplay. So, I had some tossups on concepts. And I don't recall any of these actually having particularly high neg rates, though perhaps they took a bit more thinking through.

As for mythology, a lot of those common links probably came out of my directive to Eddie to try to avoid small myth systems that quizbowl has mined of most useful clues, and to instead try to find some fresh material that people might engage with in a lot of sources other than directly reading mythological texts. I went so far as to explicitly ban Mayan and Finnish mythology from this tournament (outside of the Sibelius tossup) and insist that some new material be found. This wasn't out of an attempt to be "creative" as much as to just ask about new things, and I think we accomplished that goal - and the myth power rate was consistently one of the highest across all sites, to boot.
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Re: EFT Tournament Goals/Philosophy and Discussion

Post by Progcon » Mon Oct 24, 2016 3:25 pm

I don't want this to turn into a Westbrook-esque discussion about quizbowl learning versus school learning because I think having "real" information is important in the social sciences especially. I was happy there was no tossups on like Margaret Mead. Mead is important but she comes a lot in high school at the expense of real social science questions.
1) I wanted to ask about important, famous concepts that I've run across in my non-quizbowl learning of social science/philosophy/religion (using the logic of "this is more likely to generate easily playable tossups than thinking about what's been done before in this game")
2) For the most part, I would rather reward knowledge of a wide variety of world religious practices at this level than in-depth knowledge of minor religions (I've heard enough bonuses on "name this Sikh practice"). And for the record, there are no answers that are "too easy" for any level, because there are John Keats tossups at Chicago Open!
3) Tossing up something like G.E. Moore at this level is going to fly over way too many peoples' heads. Same with a Kant title other than Critique of Pure Reason. As it is, philosophy had one of the lowest power rates of any subject in the tournament, even though proportionally I think it was easier compared to Regionals level than some of our other categories were.
I agree with a lot of what you say here but I do think some of your claims are problematic. There is an implicit assumption you make when you say "I came across this information in class, a newspaper, etc. so it can come up at this level." While I don't have the stats to prove this, I would say this is not a great approach. The approach is slightly urking to me because not all colleges are the same, not all degrees are the same, etc. I'm not implying, of course, that the whole set was like this but part of the reason that old packets are referenced is because they create a pool of buzzable answerlines. I understand that at this difficulty you can't go as crazy as you did in like Christmas Present. I'm all for expanding the canon, and I think it was cool that you included the clue about "black names" affect earnings because a researcher at MSU researches that exact phenomenon.

There are a lot of weak bonuses on obscure and relatively unimportant minor holidays and practices. I just think that common link religion tossups can be hard to parse but that is probably just a "me" thing. On philosophy specifically, I agree that is was way easier than Regionals last year where like Robert Nozick came up in a packet. I feel like I got a lot of philosophy tossups right out of power because some of the early clues seemed kind of hard to buzz on. On the Hume tossup, I negged with Kant because I thought it was talking about a critique of Hume for example. Personally, I really dislike answerlines like "ethics" or "aesthetics" because they seem kinda awkward to me. This is a purely personal opinion. The Lacan bonus was cool because I think the lazy decision would be to tossup Lacan who is hard for this level. There doesn't seem to be the widest answer space for philosophy at this level which is unfortunate because it's my favorite academic category after econ.
Here's the thing: people take actual classes on racial studies, gender studies, etc. I'm not one of them, but I know many people who do and I enjoy learning about them because the concepts discussed in them are important to key trends in modern scholarship. For a tournament that will probably get some newer faces, I'd like to ask questions about things that people might learn in an intro class than something they would get by browsing a packet. That demand tossup, for example, was written 100% out of things I learned in introductory economics (except for the leadin). And it's not as if packet knowledge was completely ignored either!
The question is how commonly are these classes taken? Not to sound hyperbolic, but if this approach was taken to the nth degree in social science, then you would be creating another specialist category except you would be doing that for all the little sub disciplines in social science. There are pros and cons to this (eg. you shouldn't be able to fraud economic theorems) but I'm not sure that gender and racial studies classes are taken that often. New, good clues are always appreciated and I liked most of them in this in this set. The demand tossup I still maintain was too easy because there was a buzzer race between me and someone on the other team. First line made me think like marginal revenue because I had the graph memorized. On the other hand, I'm not sure the bonus with the Solow growth model was entirely appropriate because I don't think it comes up in that much of depth in an introductory macro class. I TA Econ 202 at MSU, and no one has asked me about Solow growth. Even IS-LM comes up only rarely in the class. Your milage may vary. That doesn't mean, however, that there should be 0 econometric questions but this is a pretty minor complaint especially because I look like a hypocrite with my social science specialist complaint.
As for mythology, a lot of those common links probably came out of my directive to Eddie to try to avoid small myth systems that quizbowl has mined of most useful clues, and to instead try to find some fresh material that people might engage with in a lot of sources other than directly reading mythological texts. I went so far as to explicitly ban Mayan and Finnish mythology from this tournament (outside of the Sibelius tossup) and insist that some new material be found. This wasn't out of an attempt to be "creative" as much as to just ask about new things, and I think we accomplished that goal - and the myth power rate was consistently one of the highest across all sites, to boot.
Not to rehash the entire thread about mythology, but if this is your opinion, why not do .5/.5 mythology? I liked the mythology in the set overall partly because no needlessly obscure myth systems came up. Tossups with answerlines like "Inuit Myth" always struck me as strange and quizbowl-insidery. I'm not sure where that extra .5/.5 would go but I think the myth category has gotten pretty stale when even the common links about godly domains, celestial objects, cities (Thebes, Rome, etc.) sound boring. Once again, I liked the myth especially the "Telemachus" tossup I got after actually reading The Oddysey.

I hope what I'm saying makes a modicum of sense. I liked the set overall but there were some answerlines made me pause like the "Tyrone family" which could have just been a tossup on Long Day's Journey Into Night. This set was very high quality (better than MUT last year) and I look forward to next year's iteration. :grin:
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Re: EFT Tournament Goals/Philosophy and Discussion

Post by Jason Cheng » Mon Oct 24, 2016 5:18 pm

About your comment on the Tyrone family specifically, I did consider making that a tossup on the play itself, but I figured people would start getting bored of all the very standard tossups on authors that I filled the set with (variety is the spice of life and all that), and I didn't think there was that much of a difference between knowing the name of the family and knowing the play itself. I do think Richard and I did a very good job overall of controlling lit answerlines for conversion purposes (and I believe the openly available conversion stats bear this out--I'm seeing around a 90% conversion rate across all the sites we did stats for). Sorry if this seemed like a damper on the quality of the set, and I hope you enjoyed the rest of the literature!
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Re: EFT Tournament Goals/Philosophy and Discussion

Post by Progcon » Mon Oct 24, 2016 5:44 pm

Jason Cheng wrote:About your comment on the Tyrone family specifically, I did consider making that a tossup on the play itself, but I figured people would start getting bored of all the very standard tossups on authors that I filled the set with (variety is the spice of life and all that), and I didn't think there was that much of a difference between knowing the name of the family and knowing the play itself. I do think Richard and I did a very good job overall of controlling lit answerlines for conversion purposes (and I believe the openly available conversion stats bear this out--I'm seeing around a 90% conversion rate across all the sites we did stats for). Sorry if this seemed like a damper on the quality of the set, and I hope you enjoyed the rest of the literature!


I remember thinking it was the Tyrone family earlier than I should have partly because the pronoun family was used. I waited till I had real knowledge of the play, but I was thinking of just buzzing off a guess because I'm like "Well it's either Younger family or Tyrone family for American plays at this difficulty level". The town of Macondo one was similar except I lost a buzzer race. I don't feel either was transparent so much as limited the possible guesses. The literature was very strong overall. Nothing was super hard like I expected a tossup on Gide or something.

I remember the Auschwitz tossup specifically was good but I buzzed in with "concentration camps", got prompted said "death camps" no prompt and then I said "Do you want like a specific one? Auschwitz" and the question was thrown out. I read Night and Surviving Auschwitz by Primo Levi so this was disappointing but was obviously the moderator's fault. The tossup,despite the interesting answerline, rewarded knowledge.
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Re: EFT Tournament Goals/Philosophy and Discussion

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Mon Oct 24, 2016 6:59 pm

Progcon wrote:
Jason Cheng wrote:About your comment on the Tyrone family specifically, I did consider making that a tossup on the play itself, but I figured people would start getting bored of all the very standard tossups on authors that I filled the set with (variety is the spice of life and all that), and I didn't think there was that much of a difference between knowing the name of the family and knowing the play itself. I do think Richard and I did a very good job overall of controlling lit answerlines for conversion purposes (and I believe the openly available conversion stats bear this out--I'm seeing around a 90% conversion rate across all the sites we did stats for). Sorry if this seemed like a damper on the quality of the set, and I hope you enjoyed the rest of the literature!


I remember thinking it was the Tyrone family earlier than I should have partly because the pronoun family was used. I waited till I had real knowledge of the play, but I was thinking of just buzzing off a guess because I'm like "Well it's either Younger family or Tyrone family for American plays at this difficulty level". The town of Macondo one was similar except I lost a buzzer race. I don't feel either was transparent so much as limited the possible guesses. The literature was very strong overall. Nothing was super hard like I expected a tossup on Gide or something.

I remember the Auschwitz tossup specifically was good but I buzzed in with "concentration camps", got prompted said "death camps" no prompt and then I said "Do you want like a specific one? Auschwitz" and the question was thrown out. I read Night and Surviving Auschwitz by Primo Levi so this was disappointing but was obviously the moderator's fault. The tossup,despite the interesting answerline, rewarded knowledge.
Please move such discussion to the specific discussion thread.
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Re: EFT Tournament Goals/Philosophy and Discussion

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Thu Oct 27, 2016 7:50 pm

Progcon wrote:The question is how commonly are these classes taken? Not to sound hyperbolic, but if this approach was taken to the nth degree in social science, then you would be creating another specialist category except you would be doing that for all the little sub disciplines in social science. There are pros and cons to this (eg. you shouldn't be able to fraud economic theorems) but I'm not sure that gender and racial studies classes are taken that often. New, good clues are always appreciated and I liked most of them in this in this set. The demand tossup I still maintain was too easy because there was a buzzer race between me and someone on the other team. First line made me think like marginal revenue because I had the graph memorized. On the other hand, I'm not sure the bonus with the Solow growth model was entirely appropriate because I don't think it comes up in that much of depth in an introductory macro class. I TA Econ 202 at MSU, and no one has asked me about Solow growth. Even IS-LM comes up only rarely in the class. Your milage may vary. That doesn't mean, however, that there should be 0 econometric questions but this is a pretty minor complaint especially because I look like a hypocrite with my social science specialist complaint.
To give you some context, I was a financial and public economics major in college. I definitely covered a wide range of economics tossups at this tournament, but almost all of them are from the three or so courses you absolutely have to take in a normal-ish econ major (not counting statistics) - intro Econ, basic micro, and basic macro. I've covered econometrics in questions I've written before and wanted to ask about different things - especially at this level, I wanted to focus on more general-interest topics and intro classes and not as much on econometrics (which people usually take later down the line) or content from more specialized classes. At the advice of one person, I massively trimmed the difficulty of the bonus on urban economics do it didn't ask for a term I learned in my urban econ class.

My approach was different with stuff like gender theory, which I think you can ask for more "difficult" ideas/thinkers on more easily because gender theory creeps into literature, art, and all sorts of other disciplines - even if you never take a class on gender theory itself in your live. I don't think the fact that Judith Butler was required reading for a Japanese culture course my friend took at Dartmouth (in the context of understanding gender in Heian period novels) is really anomalous or anything. I don't agree with everything racial studies, gender studies, and scholars in other such fields have to say, and again I haven't taken any classes on these subjects myself, but they're key parts of academia these days - and this is an academic competition. Consequently, I thought asking more of these things and asking fewer questions on old sociologists and anthropologists would be a good way to approach the material.

Also, a couple specifics here:
Progcon wrote:The demand tossup I still maintain was too easy because there was a buzzer race between me and someone on the other team.
When considered on its own, this is a bad line of logic. Was the other person also an economics major? Like, to give an example, I know both Bruce Lou and Weijia Cheng had first line buzzes on the Joseon dynasty tossup. That would have been a buzzer race had those two players faced off. I think this is fine, not just because those players are both extremely good at East Asian history, but more generally because this tournament is meant to test the average levels of knowledge the audience actually has - if people with in-depth knowledge of the subject are not buzzing on the first few clues at this tournament, then in my view I've done a bad job as a writer. Avoiding using impossible leadins is an important part of writing an accessible tournament at this difficulty.
Progcon wrote: On the other hand, I'm not sure the bonus with the Solow growth model was entirely appropriate because I don't think it comes up in that much of depth in an introductory macro class.
I took macro at Dartmouth and also read over some college-level syllabi for some other schools - the Solow model showed up in all of the syllabi I saw for the "macro class you take after intro econ" slot. Also, the bonus didn't ask it much in depth - it basically asked if you understood the basic idea of what makes it work in the long run, which you're guaranteed to cover if you do anything involving actually using the equation/graphing it out.
Will Alston
Bethesda Chevy Chase HS '12, Dartmouth '16, Columbia Business School '21
NAQT Writer and Subject Editor

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