2016 ACF Fall general discussion

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2016 ACF Fall general discussion

Post by gaurav.kandlikar » Sun Nov 06, 2016 9:37 pm

Thanks to everyone who played ACF Fall yesterday and today. I hope that you enjoyed it. Thanks also to the many tournament directors and readers who helped us reach so many teams with the set this year.

A copy of the set is available for discussion here. I plan to fix typos and some repeats before I upload it to the hsqb database over the next week or so.

I apologise that the set had many repeats, typos, and feng shui problems. I ran out of time during the last couple of days and could not give it the full read-through that it needed. Thanks to all of the tournament directors who were patient with me as I had to email out some updates on Saturday afternoon. You guys are the best.

I owe special thanks to the people who stepped in to write questions in the last week: Andrew Hart, Will Nediger, Mike Cheyne, Max Schindler, Jason Cheng, and Cody Voight. Will Alston did a heroic amount of work to edit all of the music in the set with Eddie Kim's help. Richard Yu wrote a lion's share of social science, and Rob Carson wrote a bulk of the Other Fine Arts.

Apart from that, the editing went down like this:
Itamar Naveh-Benjamin edited all of the literature;
Bruce Lou edited all of the history;
Rohith Nagari edited all of the science and most of the trash;
Jonchee Kao edited all of RMP and Geography;
Kai Smith edited Painting and parts of the OFA, Social Science, and trash distribution.

Finally, I want to give a special thanks to Gautam for helping us manage registrations for a huge number of teams. I hope that everyone appreciates how efficiently and tirelessly he worked to make sure that this part of the process goes smoothly.

OK, I look forward to your comments!

edit: Jason Cheng helped us in the last week too!
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Re: 2016 ACF Fall general discussion

Post by gaurav.kandlikar » Sun Nov 06, 2016 9:53 pm

Here's a compilation of stats from all sites:

Berkeley; Rice; Warwick; Columbia; Kentucky; Washington; UCLA; Maryland; Waterloo; Minnesota; Northwestern; Florida; Brown; Missouri; NIU (HS); Yale (HS); NorCal (HS)

To be posted: Virginia Tech;
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Re: 2016 ACF Fall general discussion

Post by Pablo Picasso 2 » Mon Nov 07, 2016 12:05 am

I know you are aware that there are repeats already, but other than the 3 mentions of Liberty Leading the People there isn't really any huge problem with repeats. (at least in revealing the answer) But seriously is there a mandatory France distribution this tournament?

I liked the tournament. However, I really need to say this bugged me a lot:
Cambridge B+UGA C, tossup 13 wrote: Lindlar’s catalyst can reduce them to cis-alkenes.

ANSWER: alkynes [do not accept “alkanes” or “alkenes”]
Cambridge C+Michigan State A, bonus 17 wrote: [10] This catalyst is capable of stopping the reduction of an alkyne at the alkene state. It consists of palladium on calcium carbonate poisoned by lead acetate.
ANSWER: Lindlar’s catalyst
Even so, I really enjoyed playing the tournament immensely, so a big thanks goes to the editors, even though it has its shortcomings.

EDIT: I was just reminded by our teammates that in our Columbia site, we encountered literally 0/0 Chinese lit (unless you want to count that Lu Xun thing in the simplified Chinese bonus), but after looking at the packet there appears to be one packet that had a 1/1 (Chicago A+Case Western, Mo Yan and co./Journey to the West); I would attribute this to just us being unlucky but it's still a little bit disappointing. Also, I think it's just again the site being unlucky and choosing the packets that happened to exclude the questions, but I'm pretty sure the only non-trash film question we got was on Rashomon (the Leonardo DiCaprio tossup was ridiculously easy though, Inception being the most "obscure" film?).
Last edited by Pablo Picasso 2 on Tue Nov 08, 2016 10:48 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: 2016 ACF Fall general discussion

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Mon Nov 07, 2016 12:34 am

This tournament had a lot of significant shortcomings, even more so than last year's edition of Fall. Personally, I think it's very disappointing that college quizbowl's most-played tournament is not held to higher quality standards. More people play this tournament each year than any other, yet it doesn't seem to ever be quite the same quality as other tournaments throughout the year.

To list some problems:

- Category-to-category inconsistency (in my opinion, literature was notably harder than history). In particular, overly hard early clues in literature led to a lot of buzzer races in that category, more than I saw in the other categories.
- Lack of consideration of what kinds of clues the audience might know. For example, the tossup on Russian in literature spent half its time cluing and namedropping Woe from Wit and The Lower Depths. There was a tossup on phenomenology clued entirely from Husserl, which is wholly inappropriate for this level. There were bonuses on Juscelino Jubitschek and some Tibetan river that I suspect almost nobody converted (I bet almost nobody at ACF Nationals would know the latter thing either, for what it's worth). A lot of the painting questions were effectively basic descriptions/lists of four or five hard titles, including some rather challenging ones.
- Lack of prompts and alternative answerlines. For example, the bonus on Journey to the West, in addition to containing a factual error (the novel was written far after the Tang dynasty, though it's set during that era), didn't list any actual alternate answers, which is really bad because lots of people of Chinese ancestry play quizbowl, and might actually give those answers. Sometimes people don't know what things are called in English, and if there's no good reason to require the English name other than laziness then you really need to cover your tracks.
- Brutal science bonuses (I don't know if I saw a single 30 converted on a science bonus in a room I moderated, though I'm told they happened elsewhere)
- Multiple philosophy questions leading in with extremely famous titles and concepts (The Order of Things, private languages)
- Stupid bonus parts that clearly should have been caught and weren't because nobody else looked at them - for examples, the bonus on "phase diagrams" literally says "phases" in the question, the bonus on "molecular orbital diagrams" says "molecular orbitals" in the question, and the bonus on the "Gigantomachy" says "name this conflict in which the Giants stormed Mount Olympus."
- Unnecessary use of quizbowlese: "this work" instead of "this painting" in one case, for example. There's no need to put low-level teams through this.

I think a lot of these problems fundamentally stem a lack of oversight. This tournament didn't have the most experienced editing team, but that's not so bad if you have a more experienced, steady hand or two who's actually present and guiding them. The impression I got was that the people who were appointed to do "oversight" didn't do a ton of it (understandable, if they were busy and only signed up for limited areas) and that the editors wrote a lot of questions on their own - not just five full editors' packets, but a substantial number of replacements for unusable submitted questions. For a set that's this important, somebody really needs to be making sure that the categories don't feel out of place, that inappropriate topics aren't being asked, and that there aren't blatant errors or glaring misses in answerlines - this means not only more proofreaders, but guiding eyes from a seasoned editor of college tournaments. If new college players are frustrated by errors at the tournament that's supposed to be most accessible to them - something I witnessed several times at the site I moderated at - that's not a good thing for quizbowl.

In addition, I think the oversight problem was doubled by the fact that editors seemed fairly siloed off - many of them seemed to not know much about what was going on in the other categories. I suspect this made the problem of across-category inconsistency worse, but it also meant that an easy resource for proofreading, fact-checking, and general difficulty testing (via other editors looking at questions throughout the production process) went relatively unutilized. Sure, people don't have infinite time, but just asking for a read-over or sanity check from your fellow editors isn't too much to ask, especially when there isn't any playtesting or anything.
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Re: 2016 ACF Fall general discussion

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Mon Nov 07, 2016 12:50 am

I didn't play this tournament, I merely moderated at the Maryland site. Here are my thoughts:

(1) Definitely lots of problems with typos, lead-ins, etc. One bonus asked both "this work" and "this author" (or something like that - forget the exact words) confusing teams as to what they should say.

(2) Answerlines were "barren". I was often not told whether or not I should accept word forms. Obviously correct equivalents were often neither listed as underlined answers, nor listed under "do not accept". Often I was forced to choose between negging somebody for an answer I thought was right, or using a lot of moderator discretion.

(3) Lots of teams complained about bonus difficulty variability. Some bonuses seemed to have two easy parts and a hard part, or three easy parts, or one easy part and two hard parts.

None of these are novel problems - we've all seen these issues a million times before. We all know how to fix them. It suggests not that the editorial team was bad, but that the tournament was rushed.
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Re: 2016 ACF Fall general discussion

Post by John Ketzkorn » Mon Nov 07, 2016 1:09 am

I get that a lot of cool people came out of France, but should we really be tossing it up (at least) three times?

I'll probably have more to say once the set is posted.
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Re: 2016 ACF Fall general discussion

Post by Marble-faced Bristle Tyrant » Mon Nov 07, 2016 1:21 am

I wasn't taking notes or anything, but the set was harder than what I was expecting. I'd also very much like to echo Bruce's comments regarding the rushed copyediting, though I did like the couple instances where readers were directed to read slowly for the players' benefit.
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Re: 2016 ACF Fall general discussion

Post by TylerV » Mon Nov 07, 2016 1:31 am

Joker wrote:I get that a lot of cool people came out of France, but should we really be tossing it up (at least) three times?

I'll probably have more to say once the set is posted.
There was at least four, with one being film, one social science, one philosophy, and one history. I also believe |France| was an answerline in multiple bonuses. Besides the love of France, I think this tournament had multiple issues, but some very good redeeming factors.

The Good:

I thought the music and film were really well done. I especially liked the inclusion of Toshiro Mifune in the Kurosawa bonus.

The Bad:

I think this tournament had a lot of difficulty hitting its sweet spot. There were some bonuses and lead-ins, especially in history, which felt entirely too easy and wouldn't be out of place in a regular high school tournament. Likewise I think some answerlines, Katherine Mansfield sticks out, were too hard for the set. Despite these statements I think overall the bonuses were very fun to play and very rarely did I have no idea what was going on.

The Nitpicky

A tossup on Passion Pit doesn't seem like a good idea especially considering the only time they've charted peaked at 84 and was three years ago.

The lead-in for burning Washington, at least at game speed, seemed to vague. I am aware that a tornado appeared and worsened the fires but wasn't able to buzz until the start of the next clue.
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Re: 2016 ACF Fall general discussion

Post by Knickerbocker glory » Mon Nov 07, 2016 1:42 am

The lead-in for burning Washington, at least at game speed, seemed to vague. I am aware that a tornado appeared and worsened the fires but wasn't able to buzz until the start of the next clue.
Text of the question:
A freak thunderstorm spawned three extremely rare tornadoes during the midst of this event, which some interpreted as divine intervention. In his memoirs, Paul Jennings recalled scrambling to save valuables before this event. The dispersion of militiamen in the “Bladensburg races” allowed this event to occur, which was carried out by the occupying forces of George Cockburn and Robert Ross. This event was partially justified as retaliation for the burning of York, and destroyed important government buildings such as the Library of Congress and the White House. For 10 points, name this event during the War of 1812, when British soldiers set the capital of the United States on fire.
ANSWER: burning of Washington, D.C. [accept the District of Columbia in place of Washington, D.C.]
I'll admit that perhaps the first clue might be helped with a little more meat, but at the same time, the tornadoes appearing are an extremely famous occurrence during the burning of Washington, D.C., and was covered in my high school APUSH class, and the question was converted on that clue in my room when I was reading it. As a consequence, I feel like people familiar enough with the event would recognize that clue immediately. I also feel like as a first clue, adding too much context to it might make it too easy, so I left it as it was.
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Re: 2016 ACF Fall general discussion

Post by Irreligion in Bangladesh » Mon Nov 07, 2016 2:12 am

As the head editor of a big, recent "this set wasn't as good as it should have been because it wasn't done in time" at NHBB Nats, I feel for the editors. I think this set had quality questions that deserve praise; unfortunately, in moderating 10 rounds yesterday, I don't have proper examples at hand. (I got one at the end thanks to ongoing discussion as I typed.)


*Rushed questions take two forms - minor flubs that you don't catch because you didn't playtest the question (typos, mistakes like "This author" and "This novel" as directions in the same question, etc.) and major problems that you don't catch because you didn't read the finished packet (questions copied and pasted into multiple rounds, like the Berlin geography bonus; distributional faults like a packet having a trash question (Passion Pit) and a trashy history question (Munich Olympics) when the ACF distribution doesn't guarantee 1 trash per round; that one was particularly aggravating, as it was tossups 18 and 19). The former is a problem that experienced moderators can deal with and doesn't really ruin things if a new moderator doesn't deal with it; the latter is the sort of problem that really calls into question how the production process was carried out, and demands a response for how it will be fixed in the future.


*Regardless of how rushed the questions are, it was painfully obvious how un-playtested this set was just by looking at the answer lines. ANSWER: radicals without "free" in front is going to trip up a moderator and is so obviously necessary that it makes one wonder whether the question itself was edited at all, or simply left in the packet "to be looked at later if we have time." Having been guilty of that crime myself, I know how much it hurts; I also know how impossible it is to 'come back to it later' if you're already having to make such deals with the ticking clock.

Answer line problems were not just restricted to "being too naked;" the tossup on ANSWER: area led in with multiple two-dimensional clues, then a Gabriel's Horn surface area clue, while the answer line instructed to [accept "surface area"], assumed to be throughout the question rather than "after Gabriel's Horn is mentioned."

The biggest answer line problem I had wasn't really the answer line's fault, per se; the tossup on ANSWER: Republic of China used "this government" as its pronoun. The answer line provided no instruction on responses of Kuomintang, which is arguably a better answer for "this government" prompts. I get that saying polity is bad and we should absolutely not be doing it in ACF Fall; this point, then, is to point out that "this government" as a prompt isn't just going to make players think of "names of countries/states/etc." as the answer space, and that answer lines should pay attention to that. (Had this tossup been submitted to me for NHBB, I almost certainly would not have thought of this issue while editing it on paper; playtesting is the only way to catch that.)


*The final benefit that playtesting time gives you is the ability to see how the categories are meshing; the sheer difference between the incredibly difficult science and the very accessible history made for a borderline unfair playing experience. I thought the history did a good job of using hard parts at "what ACF Fall has usually been," while there were lit bonuses asking for third parts I haven't heard of in years of moderating and science bonuses I couldn't 10. I'm operating under the assumption of "the history was a difficulty level people wanted, and everything else was too hard," so I'll give a few examples here of hard things that could have been better. (If the takeaway is actually "the history was too easy, and everything else was fine," OK, but now college quizbowl really does need a new introductory tournament.)

The bonus on aerosols was particularly poorly executed; whichever part was intended as the easy was completely lacking its explanation. If that was the first part on "aerosol," you could have said "type of colloid" to help. If that was the middle part on "sedimentation," you could have described sedimentation within rivers and/or as the formation process for a class of rocks. If that was the last part on "anthropogenic"....actually, no, this part isn't salvageable. Just because a textbook somewhere puts anthropogenic aerosols in a Key Terms box doesn't mean that people will hear "fuel combustion makes what type of aerosol," realize it's manmade, and say that particular word that means manmade. In any case, the phrasing in this bonus wasn't helpful enough; this was a common problem in the science.

Tossing up Rutherford scattering at ACF Fall is a bad idea; it instructs newer players that that answer line exists, but it does so in a way that punishes far too many people who can only make "gold foil -> buzz with Rutherford" happen. This sort of question is what bonuses are for at this difficulty. I'll make a bad analogy here - I thought asking for Christians on Shimabara rebellion clues was a clever and well-executed way of putting Shimabara in the set without telling tons of people "no, the answer was Shimabara rebellion." It's not quite the same because Rutherford in general is way more accessible than the Shimabara rebellion, but the idea of "my answer line is not demanding the world out of you" is there -- as it generally should be for ACF Fall.

More basic examples of "this is asking too much of ACF Fall" were present in lit hard parts and all over the place in philosophy, as previously mentioned. I like asking for reservation in the Brave New World bonus; that said, that part + Helmholtz Watson is a difficulty target I think most people would agree ACF Fall should not be aiming at. The philosophy very often forgot that new college quizbowlers haven't read anything yet and requires careful execution of accessible answer lines at a clip greater than any other category. (Or, at least my post-hoc impression of the PSS is that it missed all over the place; a full list of the PSS answer lines might well prove me wrong, and at the very least will prove educational. I'd love to see that.)



To the editors -- this discussion thread may well end up devolving into a litany of minor nitpicking on individual tossups; it may end up sticking to the major faults with the set, quoting examples as above so that we can all learn from them. The hope is always for the latter, but in either case, do cherish the good questions you wrote while you read this thread; there was more than enough in this to at least hold your heads high while learning from these mistakes.

In particular, as it's been mentioned and I can now remember it, I will shout out the "burning of DC" tossup as well done, and shout out to Govind Prabhakar for his great buzz on the first pronoun in my room. Bruce, you could have added something explaining "the tornadoes helped end this event," if you phrased it in a way that made it clear it was because the soldiers had to stop burning instead of the tornadoes blowing out the fire; it'd help prevent confusion, but I'm already thinking myself in circles trying to get it to work, and it's very fine without. I think you nailed it.

Thank you all for your hard work!
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Re: 2016 ACF Fall general discussion

Post by Your Genie Felon, Me » Mon Nov 07, 2016 4:37 am

I agree with basically everything said so far in this thread. I thought the repetition of certain topics across all the packets was a bit odd - the France thing has already been noted, along with the Liberty Leading the People repetition. I can say from a player's point of view that it wasn't really a big deal, though; since no clues actually repeated, as far as I remember, (with the exception of the Lindlar's catalyst thing) it wasn't particularly detrimental.

Total nitpick here, but:
Caltech A + Lawrence A Tossup on Red wrote:Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party has a covered veranda that has white and stripes of this color.
Not sure if it was the smartest decision to clue in "red" this way, since previous tossups don't really seem to come to any particular consensus on what the color of the awning actually is. For example:
ICCS 2014 Tossup on Renoir wrote:Another of his paintings shows several wine bottles and yellow-hatted people below a yellow and white striped awning.
BISB 2013 Tossup on Renoir wrote:In a painting by this man located at the Phillips Collection, a pink and white awning covers the central group.
HSAPQ 2011 Tossup on Luncheon of the Boating Party wrote:The upper left portion of this painting shows a pink-striped awning
I have no idea how this clue would have parsed to me if I heard it (we didn't hear past the third sentence in our room). I probably would have said pink, given how I have seen it worded before, and how I remember the awning looking - it totally looks pink, but on the redder side, I guess. My point is that the color of the awning is contestable, at best, so the clue doesn't parse over well. I liked that tossup as a whole, though.

Overall, I and the Stevenson team enjoyed this set. There some issues, but overall we had a good time. Big thanks to everyone who contributed to the set!
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Re: 2016 ACF Fall general discussion

Post by Ben Salter » Mon Nov 07, 2016 5:43 am

I agree with much of what has been said here, and more. I should caveat this post by saying that several of my qualms may not have been present in the set that was sent to other sites.

As per usual, we planned on Briticising the set, which meant we required the a draft of the set a few days before to identify egregiously American questions, and then also required the completed final set the day before the tournament to make the necessary changes.

We did not receive a complete draft of the set until the morning of the day before the tournament, which meant the process of writing replacement questions became extremely tight. Moreover, I requested we receive the completed proofread final set by midnight GMT at the absolute latest (I had been assured prior that everything would be ready to wrap up by Friday). The set was sent around 11pm, but it was woefully incomplete. There were several places where there were simply no question written (they were generally “other arts” questions), and comments were littered around the set. I had been informed that the missing questions would be emailed to me - only two of them were ever sent. As such, I had to spend a lot longer than I wanted salvaging questions from extra packets in order to actually have a tournament to present the next day. This is before I even got onto the planned replacement of questions with British content, meaning the set wasn't actually finished until about 2:30am.

As for the actual substance of the questions, it was, to put it lightly, rather disappointing. The packets clearly hadn’t been proof-read thoroughly, and there were several repeats across packets that should have been picked up. Some examples are as follows:

Gibbs - appeared in Caltech A/Lawrence A and Berkley A/UGA A
Macbeth - appeared in UConn/USC and Berkeley A/UGA A
Danzig - appeared twice in Berkeley A (different contexts, but seems odd to have both in the same packet)
Brancusi - NYU A/Amherst A and Editors 1
Electrons - CamB/UGA C and Editors 2 (moreover, they both used an essentially identical Cherenkov clue)
France - CamB/UGA C bonus (Quesnay), Berkley A/UGA A (Durkheim, Comte), WUStL A/Georgetown (History), Cornell A/UCSD A (Film), Editors 2 (Derrida, Foucault) [seriously, two “thought" tossups on France?]
Yoga - Literally repeated the question in tossups 9 and 19 of Editors 1


There were also several factual inaccuracies and cases where the answer was given away in the question:

Renin - Editors 1 - the question says “renin-angiotensin”, then gives angiotensin.
Molecular Orbital diagrams - editors 1 -"Diagrams that use a combination of molecular orbitals to understand bonding” is in the question text (should be "combination of atomic orbitals" I think?)
Helium - JHU B - Helium is not the product of the triple alpha process - that’s carbon.
Mendelssohn - Editors 3 - “This composer of Lobgesang.” is not a sentence.
Baltic Sea - NYU A/Amherst A - The Amber road was an ancient, not a medieval trade route.

This was but a taste of what had to be dealt with. To quote one of the moderators on the day who phrased it far better than me, "the questions that did not include grammatical errors and did not demand on-the-fly, spoken-word editing by the moderators were the exceptions, not the rule". There were several players new to quizbowl at this tournament, and having them deal with these problematic questions was most unfortunate, and potentially embarrassing for the moderators, several of whom had assured their new players that ACF questions were of the highest quality.

I don’t want to be entirely denigratory to this tournament - several of the questions were interesting and well written. However, having to pause every 5 minutes and try and make sense of a question, or replace it entirely, was not a pleasant experience for anyone involved.

It’s unfortunate I have to say this - in the past (like last year) the Briticisation process has been very smooth, and I’m sure it can be like that in the future. It sounded like a few editors may have flaked late on resulting in the set being delayed, which is unfortunate, but this is the second tournament in a row in the UK where the questions have been sent through either late or incomplete. Finish your tournaments on time guys!
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Re: 2016 ACF Fall general discussion

Post by What do you do with a dead chemist? » Mon Nov 07, 2016 8:35 am

Whilst I enjoyed this tournament (as I would almost anything that asks fun questions on subjects that I enjoy), I was at the same time frustrated by some of the questions, both those that appeared to have factual errors (triple alpha in the Helium question being the most prominent example to me) and those that reused clues from earlier in the day (for example my team got the Branchusi bonus part from something that I'd written down earlier in the day).

Ben has (thankfully) covered almost all of the points that still stick out in my mind, but I would also like to reemphasize the lack of alternate answerlines and prompts, for example on the Republic of China question, where a member of my team was negged on Kuomintang (I think) on the first couple of lines. Also I believe there was a repeat of Kanye or at least on things related to life of Pablo [EDIT: Apparantly this issue was due to the Briticisation, see Ben's post below].
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Re: 2016 ACF Fall general discussion

Post by jasongg17 » Mon Nov 07, 2016 9:34 am

I think everything that I thought really needed a fix has been mentioned already, except for the bonus part on Themistocles, which was really unclear on whether it was asking for Themistocles or the Battle of Salamis based on the wording.
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Re: 2016 ACF Fall general discussion

Post by jmarvin_ » Mon Nov 07, 2016 10:03 am

Periplus of the Erythraean Sea wrote:...some Tibetan river that I suspect almost nobody converted (I bet almost nobody at ACF Nationals would know the latter thing either, for what it's worth)...
Perhaps it merits mention, in defense of it and its large canyon, that Corry Wang knew the Yarlung Tsangpo.
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Re: 2016 ACF Fall general discussion

Post by Cheynem » Mon Nov 07, 2016 10:42 am

To offer an internal perspective, compared to what Will is saying, I think that the overseers, at least as far as I can tell, did try to make a good effort at offering feedback. Eddie Kim, one of the best in the business at his topics, offered extremely detailed feedback on arts and myth questions. I at least read over every history question I got to see--I thought most of them were very good and I offered some (broad) feedback. Some categories I was supposed to look over just didn't materialize on time for me to do so--I never saw most of the trash questions, for example.
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Re: 2016 ACF Fall general discussion

Post by vinteuil » Mon Nov 07, 2016 10:45 am

I only ended up reading one packet of this, but I have to say that everything people are complaining about here showed up there—questions with grammatical errors that, left unfixed would make them unanswerable (I had to correct "this experiment" to "that experiment" in the Rutherford Scattering question), ridiculous leadins and hard parts on both ends of the difficulty spectrum (including a bonus part on Mansard roofs—wow—that didn't include the common American name "French roof"), etc. etc. etc.

Why were there 5 editors' packets?
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Re: 2016 ACF Fall general discussion

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Mon Nov 07, 2016 10:49 am

Cheynem wrote:To offer an internal perspective, compared to what Will is saying, I think that the overseers, at least as far as I can tell, did try to make a good effort at offering feedback. Eddie Kim, one of the best in the business at his topics, offered extremely detailed feedback on arts and myth questions. I at least read over every history question I got to see--I thought most of them were very good and I offered some (broad) feedback. Some categories I was supposed to look over just didn't materialize on time for me to do so--I never saw most of the trash questions, for example.
The history was one of the least error-prone and most on-target categories, so I think you did a good job here. What I'm baffled by is the fact that there were no overseers for things like science, religion, and philosophy - those categories (which are probably all harder than history to do without experience) each had real problems, which might have been solved by even a quick glance and comment from more experienced eye, even someone who wasn't a subject matter expert but did have a good amount of high-level playing experience.
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Re: 2016 ACF Fall general discussion

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Mon Nov 07, 2016 10:55 am

Negger Extraordinaire wrote: Ben has (thankfully) covered almost all of the points that still stick out in my mind, but I would also like to reemphasize the lack of alternate answerlines and prompts, for example on the Republic of China question, where a member of my team was negged on Kuomintang (I think) on the first couple of lines. Also I believe there was a repeat of Kanye or at least on things related to life of Pablo.
When I was moderating this question at the University of Maryland site, a player buzzed in on the very first clue and said "Kuomintang". The answer line said only "Republic of China", with no other alternative answers listed.

I accepted the answer, in what was probably an abuse of moderator discretion. I could not bring myself to neg this kid. This is a perfect example of what I described earlier as the tournament's "barren answer lines". I would have appreciated guidance on whether or not KMT was acceptable.
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Re: 2016 ACF Fall general discussion

Post by Cheynem » Mon Nov 07, 2016 11:18 am

I oversaw religion, ha ha. I confess I didn't do a great job here.
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Re: 2016 ACF Fall general discussion

Post by Ben Salter » Mon Nov 07, 2016 11:21 am

Negger Extraordinaire wrote:Also I believe there was a repeat of Kanye or at least on things related to life of Pablo.
Actually, this was a Briticisation error - the draft packets had (I believe) no mention of Kanye, so we changed the last part of the "Chance the Rapper" bonus to be on The Life of Pablo. Kanye then appeared in the final set, and we didn't have time to check for this when replacing questions, so there was some overlap there. The repeat of "Spain" in our set occurred under similar conditions, but I believe the rest of the repeats were present in the original set.
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Re: 2016 ACF Fall general discussion

Post by Car » Mon Nov 07, 2016 11:30 am

Having moderated for most of the day at Warwick, I can confirm most of what's been brought up here. Another example of repetition of clues was that of the Irrawaddy River, followed a couple of packets later by Myanmar/Burma. As for the Republic of China, it was negged with "Chiang Kai-shek's government", which I could confidently say was wrong as his government did not extend to the entire span of the Republic of China, but the lack of answerline notes certainly made that job significantly harder. At the very least the number of question repeats per packet was low enough that one tiebreaker per packet was sufficient to have complete matches, at least in my room.

As a side note, to whomever put Waterloo, Bruegel, Franck and Ysaÿe in the same packet: please stop, I can only get so erect.
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Re: 2016 ACF Fall general discussion

Post by Irreligion in Bangladesh » Mon Nov 07, 2016 11:38 am

Skepticism and Animal Feed wrote:
Negger Extraordinaire wrote: Ben has (thankfully) covered almost all of the points that still stick out in my mind, but I would also like to reemphasize the lack of alternate answerlines and prompts, for example on the Republic of China question, where a member of my team was negged on Kuomintang (I think) on the first couple of lines. Also I believe there was a repeat of Kanye or at least on things related to life of Pablo.
When I was moderating this question at the University of Maryland site, a player buzzed in on the very first clue and said "Kuomintang". The answer line said only "Republic of China", with no other alternative answers listed.

I accepted the answer, in what was probably an abuse of moderator discretion. I could not bring myself to neg this kid. This is a perfect example of what I described earlier as the tournament's "barren answer lines". I would have appreciated guidance on whether or not KMT was acceptable.
I prompted KMT in what I feared was a bad moderator call - it's either acceptable for the obvious reasons, or not acceptable for some good reason that becomes clear when you research the clue. In a set where you trust the answer lines, you can trust "ok, they're not taking KMT for a good reason, I'll go with the paper and neg;" this was in the afternoon at our site, so the set had already lost that benefit of the doubt for me. In retrospect (having looked it up) I really wish I'd accepted it.

A high schooler in my room got Yarlung Tsangpo. (I'm eternally sorry that I don't remember who it was.) Readers of this thread, if you take anything out of this conversation, please don't let it be "people know the Yarlung Tsangpo."
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Re: 2016 ACF Fall general discussion

Post by ErikC » Mon Nov 07, 2016 12:11 pm

I think difficulty control on geography is hard currently because it is an under-utilized subject in quiz bowl at the moment. I don't recall hearing a bonus on that area before, and if the editors didn't either it would be hard to evaluate difficulty based off precedent because there is so little. In comparison, a bonus on German rivers would likely be much easier to edit.
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Re: 2016 ACF Fall general discussion

Post by Progcon » Mon Nov 07, 2016 1:43 pm

Irreligion in Bangladesh wrote:A high schooler in my room got Yarlung Tsangpo. (I'm eternally sorry that I don't remember who it was.) Readers of this thread, if you take anything out of this conversation, please don't let it be "people know the Yarlung Tsangpo."
ErikC wrote:I think difficulty control on geography is hard currently because it is an under-utilized subject in quiz bowl at the moment. I don't recall hearing a bonus on that area before, and if the editors didn't either it would be hard to evaluate difficulty based off precedent because there is so little. In comparison, a bonus on German rivers would likely be much easier to edit.
Yeah. I was the one who wrote the Tibetan geography bonus precisely because it Tibet is under asked part of the world. Yarlung Tsangpo was the best hard part I could find for physical geography. In hindsight, I should have found a hard part about the culture of Tibet (eg. Tibetan Buddhism). Personally, I prefer clues about cultural and human geography over rivers and mountains but cultural geography clues probably don't fit too well into a bonus at this tournament.

It does seem to be very difficult to determine what areas of the world are askable because there is no geography cannon. This is corroborated by the fact that I believe NAQT data shows geography is one of the least powered categories at HSNCT.

I apologize that this answerline was way too hard. Massive kudos to the players who got it.
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Re: 2016 ACF Fall general discussion

Post by John Ketzkorn » Mon Nov 07, 2016 1:54 pm

The philosophy on difficulty for literature bonuses seemed inconsistent. I think "Africa" is barely an easy part because it's meant to be a "figure it out" easy part. Ngugi could (and probably should) be a hard part in this set.
07. Berkeley A + UGA A wrote:16. The Caine Prize is a yearly accolade awarded to an outstanding short story author from this continent. For 10 points each:
[10] Identify this continent, whose postcolonial authors include Ayi Kwei Armah, Tayib Salih, and Nuruddin Farah.
ANSWER: Africa
[10] This Kenyan author’s English-language novels include A Grain of Wheat and Petals of Blood, whereas novels written in his native Gikuyu include Wizard of the Crow.
ANSWER: Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o
[10] This West African country’s literary tradition includes So Long a Letter, written by Mariama Ba, and God’s Bits of Wood, written by author and director Ousmane Sembene.
ANSWER: Republic of Senegal [or République du Sénégal]
15. Toronto A + Editors wrote:5. This duo’s first collection was published in 1812. For 10 points each:
[10] Identify these German brothers who collected and retold various folk tales, such as those of Hansel and Gretel, Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White.
ANSWER: Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm [accept “The Brothers Grimm” or any other clear equivalents]
[10] This American author included “The Unicorn in the Garden” in his 1940 collection Fables for Our Time. This author’s best-known story recounts the mundane life of a man who experiences several heroic daydreams.
ANSWER: James Thurber
[10] This English author of Nights at the Circus drew inspiration from Charles Perrault’s fairy tales in writing her magical realist collection The Bloody Chamber.
ANSWER: Angela Carter
02. UConn Eliza + USC wrote:13. The first published work of a playwright born in this country was titled The Harrowing of Benjy. For 10 points each:
[10] Name this Caribbean country. A poet who was born in this country wrote “Ruins of a Great House,” “A Far Cry from Africa,” and Omeros.
ANSWER: Saint Lucia
[10] That Saint Lucian author of Omeros was this Nobel Laureate.
ANSWER: Derek Walcott
[10] Walcott’s Omeros is a retelling of a work by this earlier poet. George Chapman translated into English this poet’s Iliad and Odyssey.
ANSWER: Homer
06. JHU A + Cambridge A wrote:8. In one account, this ruler was married to Queen Wealhtheow. For 10 points each:
[10] Name this “protector of the Scyldings,” a Danish ruler responsible for the construction of the ill-fated mead-hall Heorot.
ANSWER: Hrothgar
[10] Hrothgar appears in this Old English epic whose title hero rips Grendel’s arm off, kills Grendel’s mother, and then slays a dragon with Wiglaf.
ANSWER: Beowulf
[10] This Irish Nobel Laureate published an award-winning translation of Beowulf in 1999. His own poetry includes the collections The Spirit Level and Death of a Naturalist.
ANSWER: Seamus Justin Heaney
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Re: 2016 ACF Fall general discussion

Post by Important Bird Area » Mon Nov 07, 2016 2:24 pm

Progcon wrote:I believe NAQT data shows geography is one of the least powered categories at HSNCT.
This was true at some point in the past, but was not true of the 2016 HSNCT (where geography actually had an above-average power rate).
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Re: 2016 ACF Fall general discussion

Post by Corry » Mon Nov 07, 2016 4:05 pm

bird bird bird bird bird wrote:
Progcon wrote:I believe NAQT data shows geography is one of the least powered categories at HSNCT.
This was true at some point in the past, but was not true of the 2016 HSNCT (where geography actually had an above-average power rate).
As reigning geography editor, I claim 100% of the credit for this, long live my rule

Joking aside: Yes, Yarlung Tsangpo was too hard. Yes, I knew it anyways. But I wasn't especially happy about it.

That said, I think the geography in this set was decent. The difficulty control was relatively inconsistent (e.g. compare the tossup on Auckland with the tossup on Australia that dropped "Lake Eyre" in the first line), but it was less pronounced than the difficulty fluctuations in some of this set's other categories.

My only major geo complaint was regarding the tossup on Brussels, which mentioned a park containing miniature models of European landmarks. Hamburg is actually home to a similar (and far more popular!) miniature park attraction that I personally visited this May. So negging that tossup on Brussels wasn't so fun.
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Re: 2016 ACF Fall general discussion

Post by Knickerbocker glory » Mon Nov 07, 2016 4:19 pm

I wrote the tossup on the Republic of China, and I playtested it the night before, to which I received the advice to include Kuomintang as an alternate answerline. I did include it, so I was quite shocked when I heard that it wasn't included in the final packet. It turns out that I changed it in my personal questions document, and not the document that was going to be turned into the actual packets. Sorry for not being more careful, and ruining for many teams what I thought to be one of my more creative tossups.

Note: In this case, moderators who accepted or prompted on Kuomintang were absolutely correct, even though it wasn't listed. I might have something to say later on about the powers of a moderator, which of course, must be tightly controlled to prevent unfairness in a game.
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Re: 2016 ACF Fall general discussion

Post by 100% Clean Comedian Dan Nainan » Mon Nov 07, 2016 4:38 pm

Irreligion in Bangladesh wrote: Tossing up Rutherford scattering at ACF Fall is a bad idea; it instructs newer players that that answer line exists, but it does so in a way that punishes far too many people who can only make "gold foil -> buzz with Rutherford" happen. This sort of question is what bonuses are for at this difficulty. I'll make a bad analogy here - I thought asking for Christians on Shimabara rebellion clues was a clever and well-executed way of putting Shimabara in the set without telling tons of people "no, the answer was Shimabara rebellion." It's not quite the same because Rutherford in general is way more accessible than the Shimabara rebellion, but the idea of "my answer line is not demanding the world out of you" is there -- as it generally should be for ACF Fall.
I'm far from a science expert, but this tossup just felt like it would've played a lot better as a tossup on either "Rutherford" or "Gold foil experiment." Overall I mostly enjoyed the set, but this tossup felt like it would've had a much better conversion rate with a different answerline.
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Re: 2016 ACF Fall general discussion

Post by Aaron's Rod » Mon Nov 07, 2016 5:40 pm

vinteuil wrote:I only ended up reading one packet of this, but I have to say that everything people are complaining about here showed up there—questions with grammatical errors that, left unfixed would make them unanswerable (I had to correct "this experiment" to "that experiment" in the Rutherford Scattering question)
Good catch for you when you were reading, but I didn't notice and said "this experiment," somebody buzzed in with "gold foil" and I felt like I had to neg them. Now, the entire tossup had been saying "this process," but I still felt awful for them.

On that note, an additional plea for more detailed prompts, holy crap. SO MANY TIMES in this tournament when I was negging someone did I have to say "I don't think I can take that." And frequently at the end of the tossup all 9 of us end up briefly discussing it. This is really awkward as a moderator.

Also, putting Giles Corey on (I think) the second line of a Salem Witch Trials tossup seemed like it was very, very early.
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Re: 2016 ACF Fall general discussion

Post by touchpack » Mon Nov 07, 2016 8:08 pm

Science Guy reporting in here:

As other people have said, there were some questions that were really inappropriately hard across all of the sciences in the set, which I absolutely agree with. I'm going to specifically focus on the physics, which was really bad.

Too Hard stuff:

In the packets we read, this wasn't a major problem of the physics across the whole set, but when the difficulty was missed, it wasn't even close. A few examples:

The tossup on solar cells was completely ridiculous. I'd bet good money that literally no one who played this set buzzed before the FTP on this. (I would have buzzed on the leadin, but I'm very, very far from your target audience here) To put things in perspective, for 2016 ACF Nationals, I wrote a bonus partly on solar cells whose HARD PART was the fill factor. In this tossup, it appears as the pre-FTP clue (!!)

The bonus part on the zeta function was super insane. No one covers the stat mech of BECs at all before graduate school, and even then, it's only if you're going into atomic physics! I would not get this bonus part except by guessing! (I know that zeta function values appear in some stat mech formulas, so it'd be a tempting guess)

As people have also mentioned, the tossup on Rutherford scattering was too hard. I agree with that, and would also add that it was written terribly. I bet the ratio of people who know what Rutherford scattering is to the ratio of people that know about Rutherford's gold foil experiment is at LEAST 10,000 : 1, so I really doubt anyone got this unless they saw it in a previous packet or were just bull-shitting a possible name. Furthermore, this was NOT a tossup on Rutherford scattering, it was a tossup on the gold foil experiment! The clues were incredibly contrived--the amount of logical connections you need to go through to get from say, oh that's a Geiger counter -> Geiger worked with Marsden on the gold foil experiment -> so this is a "process" that occurred during the gold foil experiment -> they specifically want Rutherford scattering (no prompt on scattering, lol) is way too hard to expect players, especially players at ACF Fall, to parse at game speeds.

Factual errors:

The bigger problem with the physics was the ridiculous amount of factual errors. In the 11 packets played at the Northwestern site, I counted 11 (!!) factual errors. I won't enumerate them all, but here are some of the more egregiously bad ones:

The tossup on Helium says (incorrectly) that it is the PRODUCT of the triple alpha process, rather than the reactant. This affected gameplay in my room, but thankfully the player held off on buzzing due to confusion, so I was able to correct the error.

The tossup on gamma had a factual error and a vague/unbuzzable clue:
3. This letter also represents the ratio of the magnetic momentum of a particle to its angular momentum, known as the gyromagnetic ratio.... 3. This letter also represents a quantity widely used in time dilation and length contraction calculations...
The first sentence there is factually incorrect because there is NO SUCH THING as "magnetic momentum"--the quantity you want here is "magnetic dipole moment," which aboslutely does not have units of momentum. I see that Wikipedia INCORRECTLY uses the meaningless phrase "magnetic momentum," so yeah, please don't use Wikipedia as your source for questions, and if you do, PLEASE fact check it with other sources....

The second sentence is uselessly vague until the words "Lorentz factor" are read later. Other completely correct answers based on that clue are V (velocity), C (the speed of light), and Beta (the ratio of velocity to the speed of light).

The tossup on spin claims that isospin is "a form of spin," which is laughably incorrect. To borrow a phrase from Andrew Wang, isospin is to spin, as pineapples are to apples.

The bonus part on delta v was a complete shitshow:
10. One equation to calculate this quantity sets it equal to the effective exhaust velocity times the natural log of the ratio of the initial mass to the final mass. For 10 points each:
[10] Name this quantity, calculated from the Tsiolkovsky rocket equation, which describes the impulse needed to perform an orbital maneuver. It strangely has units of velocity.
ANSWER: delta-v
First off, delta v isn't a quantity, it's a symbol, so that's the first error. Teams giving the CORRECT answer of "the change in velocity of the rocket" get zero points here, unless they were lucky enough to have a physics-knowledgeable moderator. Second, delta-v is NOT directly a measure of impulse, it's literally just the velocity change, which I guess is proportional to the impulse, but as someone who as derived the rocket equation in class, believe me when I say that no one thinks of it as a measure of impulse. (In my room, I probably abused my moderator privilege by telling teams the bonus part is on a symbol, not a quantity, and they then came up with J, which is correctly the symbol for impulse! I just ended up negging them, but I felt really shitty about it...) Third, it absolutely is not "strange" that it has units of velocity, because it IS velocity! "The change in velocity has units of velocity" is a tautology!

Most of the other errors were incorrect equations (appearing in the questions on capacitors, Laplacian, displacement current, sine, etc.), which is kinda baffling to me, since even the most rudimentary fact checking would have spotted and fixed all of these errors. Stuff like this and the abortion that was the bonus part on "delta v" tells me that the physics editor doesn't actually know physics, and that ACF didn't have anyone who knows physics look over the set. Seriously, it would have taken less than an hour for someone (say, an ACF member who has successfully edited two universally praised sets of physics questions for ACF Nationals, perhaps?) to look over the questions and stomp out all of these errors. It's absolutely unprofessional to deliver such a low quality product, especially in this day and age, where question quality standards are higher than they've ever been.
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Re: 2016 ACF Fall general discussion

Post by noobynoob » Mon Nov 07, 2016 10:09 pm

touchpack wrote: The tossup on solar cells was completely ridiculous. I'd bet good money that literally no one who played this set buzzed before the FTP on this.
Hinsdale might be pretty irrelevant now, but our fourth scorer, sophomore Daren Chen, converted this before it namedropped shockley-quiesser limit, where I would have gotten it.
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Re: 2016 ACF Fall general discussion

Post by Benin Rebirth Party » Mon Nov 07, 2016 11:35 pm

I read the tournament and scrimmaged the rest with the other staffers after. Here are some previous unmentioned comments/errata

[*] I think the set could have used more pronunciation guides; at least syllable breaks between longer foreign or science words if the letters are obvious.
[*] Italicized times new roman bothered me for some reason, possibly because of the way my own laptop displays it? Is this something others also have noticed over the years?
[*] Other repeated answers with the same clue included Einstein, atomic/molecular orbitals, sulfuric acid, elimination reactions, The Importance of Being Earnest.
[*] The Cambridge C pack had 5 lit tossups and 1 other tossup, while Eds1 had 3 lit and 3 other (2 trash, 1 geo)
[*] Twice, London was mentioned and called the capital of the UK. The bonus part mentioning that fact basically made reading the next sentence a waste of time. The music tossup on London could have incorporated landmarks in the giveaway, like the Thames or Big Ben.
[*] The answerline of "Milan Kundera" is missing 'a' in the last name.
[*] Eds3 bonus 1, "tyrosine" should be "thymine"
[*] Can quizbowl stop using the Alpher–Bethe–Gamow paper in a pop science context?
[*] The Tolstoy didn't mention War and Peace or Anna Karenina. This is ACF Fall! Similar sentiments to several common linkers that focused on too narrow, and often difficult of a spectrum.
[*] The tossup on "binary" began with a leadin that was probably too early. Any intro CS class talks about the fact BSTs need to be balanced/rotated even though they may not teach you how to do it. The second clue was new to me.
[*] I fully expect Brayton cycles and Babinet's principle to be tossed up at CO 2017.

I will echo statements on bonus variability and random early easy clues, and also vote for the fact the Rutherford scattering tossup was the worst tossup of the set. While listening to this question after the tournament, I legitimately was trying to come up with a named effect describing how Geiger counters worked.
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Re: 2016 ACF Fall general discussion

Post by Marble-faced Bristle Tyrant » Tue Nov 08, 2016 12:11 am

I could not help myself and, after the question ended, straight up told my room that I didn't get why they didn't just ask for the gold foil experiment.

Also, count me as another reader who wasn't sure what to do with the answer "Nationalists" on that China tossup.
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Re: 2016 ACF Fall general discussion

Post by t-bar » Tue Nov 08, 2016 1:02 am

raffi_-_c-a-n-a-d-a.mp3 wrote:I fully expect [...] Babinet's principle to be tossed up at CO 2017.
Lederberg 2 wrote:8. This statement was extended to include polarization by HG Booker, and its vectorial form assumes the surface in question is very thin and perfectly conducting and states that E equals c times B prime sub c. This statement is usually formulated for scalar fields using Kirchhoff's approximation. This statement can be stated as the sum of two amplitudes being equal to the undisturbed amplitude, which can be derived using the Sommerfeld condition. This statement is often used in (*) antenna engineering to determine the size of slots to create in waveguides. The vectorial form of this statement holds when the radius of curvature is much larger than the aperture radius. This statement can be used to show that a sphere produces the same pattern as a hole in a plate. For 10 points, name this principle from electrodynamics and optics, which states that the diffraction pattern produced by a screen is the same as the one produced by its complementary screen.
ANSWER: Babinet’s principle
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Re: 2016 ACF Fall general discussion

Post by touchpack » Tue Nov 08, 2016 1:20 am

I actually thought the bonus part on Babinet's principle was fine--I learned about it in freshman-level optics lab.

I realize my post (and many of these other posts) come off as rather aggressive towards the individual writer/editor of the questions, but that isn't my intention. I think the idea of using ACF Fall to train newer / prospective ACF editors is a good idea, but it only works if ACF actually implements some sort of oversight / mentoring. If not, then these problems are going to happen over and over again, and it's really sad, as Will said, that quizbowl's most-played collegiate tournament gets neglected to mediocrity year after year.
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Re: 2016 ACF Fall general discussion

Post by Amizda Calyx » Tue Nov 08, 2016 2:10 am

I've been read a few bio tossups and noticed some errors:
  • Packet 1 (CalTech A/Lawrence A):
    12. Damage to this organ can occur when a deficiency of alpha-1-antitrypsin causes elastase from breaking down its tissues.
    ???
    Angiotensin I is converted to angiotensin II by ACE in this organ.
    AI is converted to AII by ACE in other places as well (second paragraph).
    This tossup also switched between singular and plural pronouns.
  • Packet 2 (UConn/USC): Pendrin is found in a lot of other organs besides the thyroid! DIT and MIT are more obscure than tyrosine.
    It consists primarily of a colloid surrounded by follicular cells.
    Why is this the pre-pre-FTP clue?
  • Packet 3 (Cambridge B/UGA C):
    Antagonism of this organ’s H2 histamine receptors targets its enterochromaffin-like cells.
    This is confusingly-worded.
    This organ’s chief cells secrete a zymogen that is activated specifically in acidic environment to yield active pepsin.
    In my experience people don't know chief cells or zymogens as much as intrinsic factor, which is in the clue preceding it.
  • Packet 4 (Cambridge C/MSU A):
    This organelle possesses its own ribosomes and replicates its own DNA because of its endosymbiotic origin.
    This is also true of chloroplasts.
  • Packet 15:
    5. The nonstandard amino acid hypusine is found in a protein that initiates this process.
    While hypusine is found in a protein called "initiation factor 5A", it's actually involved in elongation. This wouldn't affect gameplay (although when it was read to me it did confuse me at first), but it's an example of something that editors should be wary of when taking a clue from a Wikipedia stub.
I skipped over a bunch of packets since I don't really have the time to go over them right now. I might get back to them later.
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Re: 2016 ACF Fall general discussion

Post by SpanishSpy » Tue Nov 08, 2016 3:29 am

Played the tournament at Maryland on William & Mary A; most everything I had an objection to has been covered.

There was a lot of France, as has been said. On that note, did anyone notice a lot of characters being prostitutes in the literature questions?
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Re: 2016 ACF Fall general discussion

Post by theMoMA » Tue Nov 08, 2016 6:13 am

This year's Fall wasn't a perfect set by any means; as many have pointed out, some of the basics (proofreading, repeat checking, factual accuracy) were rougher than we've come to expect. But the set had some notable positives as well: rigorous length controls, well-calibrated tossup answers, and a solid majority of good, problem-free questions. At our site, we were able to complete 12 rounds before 5:00, and give a good-sized field of teams squarely in the tournament's target audience a full day's worth of fun competition. This is what Fall does at its best, and that's what this Fall did, albeit with some bumps along the way.

Many recent ACF tournaments have been rough around the edges, and it's worth noting the challenges that the central editors face, especially when it comes to Fall. Managing the packets, registration, and eligibility is difficult. Keeping track of a large group of editors around the country, especially when those editors are still learning the ropes, is difficult. ACF tournaments typically don't afford head editors the opportunity to work solely with people they're familiar with, so learning how to interact with unfamiliar editors is another challenge. Keeping everyone in communication, as opposed to being siloed off, is very hard in this kind of environment.

Perhaps the biggest challenge is the time crunch that packet submission imposes. That said, editing an ACF tournament is difficult, under the current model, without packet submission, because we simply don't have the resources as a college quizbowl community to cobble together a coherent writing group that can centrally produce a Fall, Regionals, and Nationals every year. It may be possible to get those tournaments centrally written in a particular year, under particularly favorable circumstances; for instance, if this year's Michigan team, or the recently graduated Virginians, or the loose confederation of Minnesotans wanted to write an ACF event, I think that'd work, and indeed, the Virginians are editing Nationals, and will presumably have the time, communication, and willpower to shape it as much as they'd like with their own questions.

But I don't think that's a sustainable model for every ACF event, at least not now. The thing about packet submission is that it does provide lots and lots of usable raw material to shape into a packet set, and shaping raw material is a much more manageable goal than writing a whole tournament for a group of editors who don't know each other and are dispersed across the country/world. Expecting groups of geographically dispersed near-strangers to write three full-sized ACF set every year with no catastrophic hiccups is not realistic. Packet submission isn't something that we can easily abandon, given the state of the community's resources.

For better or worse, I think we're stuck with the challenges of packet submission and the disparately located editor model, at least for most ACF tournaments. With that in mind, central editors have to be aware of the communications issues and be as proactive as possible about solving them. I think Gaurav is as well-equipped for this as anyone, but I understand that this year's circumstances were especially taxing.

ACF is a community organization that operates with certain resource limitations, and sometimes, despite diligent efforts, the challenges of editing a set like Fall are so great that they're reflected in the final product. Although it's important that we hold ourselves and our peers to a high standard, we also have to recognize the logistical and editorial difficulties of managing some of the biggest tournaments in the game. Higher-than-average typo and clunker rates don't change the fact that this was, for the most part, a good set that fulfilled its purpose of providing high-quality competition for hundreds of teams, many of them composed of new players. That's been the case for every ACF set in recent memory, even those that have not fared particularly well in the discussion threads.

All this isn't to say that we can't or shouldn't do better. But I'd like to recognize the fact that we've reached a very good place as a community in terms of the quality of the competition that we offer, and although this iteration of Fall wasn't up to the highest of those standards, it was still a good event that delivered the kind of quality competition that ACF Fall should.

If we want to ensure that our events are even better, it's worth asking ourselves, as members of our community, what we can do to reduce the strain on editors. While it's certainly helpful for people to point out salient issues in discussion threads, perhaps we could also consider doing some work on the front end. For instance, it may be worth reaching out to new Fall editors with some tips about editing questions, especially in particularly tricky categories, if you happen to be someone who has editorial expertise. Perhaps a few groups of good writers who aren't planning to play could band together to write freelance packets. There are things that we can do other to bolster our limited resources and head off contingencies, rather than simply sitting back and criticizing what happens when those resources are overtaxed.
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Re: 2016 ACF Fall general discussion

Post by vinteuil » Tue Nov 08, 2016 9:48 am

I agree with Andrew that we shouldn't unduly increase the burden on the editors. That's why I'd like to ask again why, given the huge glut of packets received, the editors felt it necessary to have five editors' packets. I don't think Fall or Regionals have had that many in several years—and why would they?
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Re: 2016 ACF Fall general discussion

Post by Knickerbocker glory » Tue Nov 08, 2016 6:30 pm

That's why I'd like to ask again why, given the huge glut of packets received, the editors felt it necessary to have five editors' packets.
See my post about ACF Fall packet submission reform. We did have a huge glut of packets received, but not good ones. The poor quality of the submissions made it necessary to throw out many of them wholesale, leading to a shortage of usable packets.
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Re: 2016 ACF Fall general discussion

Post by Evan Lynch » Tue Nov 08, 2016 9:08 pm

GOODCOMPANY88 wrote:
That's why I'd like to ask again why, given the huge glut of packets received, the editors felt it necessary to have five editors' packets.
See my post about ACF Fall packet submission reform. We did have a huge glut of packets received, but not good ones. The poor quality of the submissions made it necessary to throw out many of them wholesale, leading to a shortage of usable packets.
By my count:
Submitted packets-

Received before 11.59 PM PST September 10
"U Conn Eliza"
Caltech A
Lawrence A
Duke C
Cambridge A
Cambridge B
Cambridge C
Johns Hopkins A
Johns Hopkins B
U South Carolina
U Florida A
UC Berkeley A
UC Berkeley B
UC Berkeley E
UGA A
UGA B
UGA C
Toronto A
Notre Dame A
U Central Florida

Received before 11.59 PM PST September 24
Michigan State A
Rutgers A
University of Ottawa A
UCSD A
Queens A
Georgia Tech A
Columbia House teams (x2)
Cal Poly
Boston College A
UConn A
Toronto B

Received before 11.59 PM PST October 8
Duke A
UT Austin C
Waterloo A
WUStL A
Cornell A
Cornell B
CMU A
Rochester A
Georgetown A
Northern Michigan A
Louisiana Tech A
UW-Madison A
U Kentucky A
U Kentucky B
Case Western A
Kansas State

Received before 11.59 PM PST October 15
U Delaware
Wright State A
Wright State B
NYU B
Tufts A
Chicago A

Received before 11.59 PM PST October 22
NYU A
Amherst A
Wake Forest A
Berkeley C
Tulane A
Vanderbilt A
Ohio State A
Carleton A
Louisville A
Michigan A

Received on Oct 23
UT Austin B

Received on Oct 24
VCU
Iowa State A
That's 68 packets, and with an average of 2.5/2.5 history per packet that's 170/170 history questions submitted to you, including 50/50 roughly two months before the tournament. Then in your words:
Hi, I'm Bruce, and I was editor for the history in this year's ACF Fall set. The problem is, that I didn't so much edit history, as completely write it from scratch. The set contained 71/72 history questions; I personally wrote 50/51 of it. As for the other 21/21 that came from packets, for the vast majority of them (over 75%), I pretty much kept just the answer line and the giveaway, and rewrote the entire tossup.
So, roughly 5/5 of 170/170 submitted was okay to make it into the tournament without requiring significant rewrites, or below 3%? If that's the case, then either yes, the packet submission system needs *significant* reform, or are you just being too perfectionist with your opinion on the submissions? Reading through the three half-packets of Cambridge submissions I looked over, 1/6 of a 7/8 submitted history category made it into the set with only what I would consider reasonable to minor editing, rather than significant replacements. A couple more of the tossups were improved with something of a rewrite, even if the basic cluing remained similar. I put a lot of effort into making our submissions acceptable - if the vast majority of other teams didn't, then I accept there is a serious issue.

With eleven packets of submissions finalised (which themselves included editors' content - the rogue tossup on electrons appearing in multiple places being one), it looks like about 75% of the submissions total have been thrown out. Is this a workable model given that the described sub-par submissions were in some cases replaced by sub-par editors' content themselves?

I don't want to throw you under the bus here, because I thought the history was one of the better parts of the set (certainly better than some of the science and fine arts), but the approach of throwing 97% of the submissions out does lead to more issues, such as:
I wrote the tossup on the Republic of China, and I playtested it the night before, to which I received the advice to include Kuomintang as an alternate answerline.
If I'm judging timezones correctly and interpreting 'night' as 'some time after about 7pm' then why are questions only being playtested then - after the packets have already been sent to one of the sites? I applaud your pride in your work, I really do - but Briticising this set wasn't much of a fun experience, and seeing the answerlines spreadsheet about 36h before the start of the tournament gave me the impression that certain editors weren't putting in the same amount of effort you did.

The point I'd like to make: in the UK, where the quizbowl circuit is still relatively new (but 15 teams is a decent return, we're a small country), the price of entering ACF Fall has gone up from £30 two years ago, to ~£80 last year (or thereabouts) to £100 this year. I don't feel like there has been a 230% increase in quality correspondingly - instead it feels like a slow decrease. None of us are funded by our institutions, so we pay a lot of our own money for the pleasure of playing ACF questions - especially since it's an excellent tournament to encourage novices to play so we send more teams and pay more entry fees (as well as due to the lack of HS quizbowl here, it takes a while for people to adapt from zero quizbowl to regular collegiate difficulty). With fifteen separate sites, ACF gets paid a *lot* of money in quizbowl terms to produce what we expect to be a quality product - and the issues with this year's set - including some really basic mistakes - don't inspire much confidence in the future. I sympathise, and the tournament by-and-large wasn't bad, but the tournaments that charge a higher entry fee should be held to a higher standard, and expected to be that standard.
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Re: 2016 ACF Fall general discussion

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Tue Nov 08, 2016 11:26 pm

Bruce, I respect the work you've done on this set, but I strongly disagree with you. In most submitted tossups, there are usually _some_ clues that you can use. I used almost every music question I saw that wasn't a repeat. I frankly think that, if the editors get a question with one or two usable clue ideas and it's not a subdistributional overload/repeat, it should be used by the editors. It's respectful to the teams that took the time to submit the packet and also gives a starting point for clue ideas.

I do, however, retain skepticism that ACF Fall needs to be packet submission.
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Re: 2016 ACF Fall general discussion

Post by vinteuil » Wed Nov 09, 2016 2:02 am

Periplus of the Erythraean Sea wrote:Bruce, I respect the work you've done on this set, but I strongly disagree with you. In most submitted tossups, there are usually _some_ clues that you can use. I used almost every music question I saw that wasn't a repeat. I frankly think that, if the editors get a question with one or two usable clue ideas and it's not a subdistributional overload/repeat, it should be used by the editors. It's respectful to the teams that took the time to submit the packet and also gives a starting point for clue ideas.
This is what I was getting at as well. Again, I can only speak from 2-year-old experience, but it's not like people usually write better music, trash, or geography questions than history—and there was always a good amount of stuff to work with (all the clues about something could be literally incorrect, but the stuff they're trying to clue is usually fair game).
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Re: 2016 ACF Fall general discussion

Post by Irreligion in Bangladesh » Wed Nov 09, 2016 11:26 pm

vinteuil wrote:
Periplus of the Erythraean Sea wrote:Bruce, I respect the work you've done on this set, but I strongly disagree with you. In most submitted tossups, there are usually _some_ clues that you can use. I used almost every music question I saw that wasn't a repeat. I frankly think that, if the editors get a question with one or two usable clue ideas and it's not a subdistributional overload/repeat, it should be used by the editors. It's respectful to the teams that took the time to submit the packet and also gives a starting point for clue ideas.
This is what I was getting at as well. Again, I can only speak from 2-year-old experience, but it's not like people usually write better music, trash, or geography questions than history—and there was always a good amount of stuff to work with (all the clues about something could be literally incorrect, but the stuff they're trying to clue is usually fair game).
One of my critiques of Bruce's editing for IHO this past summer was an unwillingness to use provided material. It's an important skill for all editors to develop (which is why I'm bringing it up here instead of privately) because it prevents a certain amount of staleness from creeping into the set through one's reliance on familiar ideas. For example, the tossup on ancient Greek coins on Saturday reminded me enough of an IHO tossup in Bruce's ancient history set (that I wrote and he edited) that I had to go back and make sure it wasn't the same tossup. It very much wasn't - the entire first halves were different clues, it's definitely not a self-plagiarism thing - but the general idea and execution at the end were very similar, because what Bruce thought was "the best way to write that tossup" in July would, naturally, still be "the best way to write the tossup" in October. For all the sense that makes, it's something to be fought against as an editor, lest the repetition benefit experienced players who "know your style" and play that meta-game.
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Re: 2016 ACF Fall general discussion

Post by mozzarella » Sat Nov 12, 2016 8:51 am

Otherwise, the art questions were pretty good except for the "Liberty Leading the People" repeats, IMHO. The Seventh Seal AND Kurosawa were great questions, so glad they were included.

I'm pretty bent about the yoga toss-up. Could meditation be an acceptable answer at any point (like after the first two sentences?

I don't think my school's packet went through, but our questions were pretty bad, so thank God. But I pray for the day they are fewer science questions, since our entire team is international relations majors with the except of me... poli sci. One day, one day...
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Re: 2016 ACF Fall general discussion

Post by Aaron's Rod » Tue Dec 06, 2016 2:27 pm

When will the set be posted?
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Re: 2016 ACF Fall general discussion

Post by That DCC guy » Tue Jan 10, 2017 6:49 pm

When will this set be posted it's been months
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Re: 2016 ACF Fall general discussion

Post by SpanishSpy » Tue Jan 10, 2017 8:49 pm

That DCC guy wrote:When will this set be posted it's been months
There's a link to the packets in DropBox in the first post. I have them downloaded.
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