Penn Bowl/Sword Bowl blew ass

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Post by The Joker » Tue Jan 24, 2006 1:23 am

Just because the paths are all in some sense normalized to a fixed weight doesn't mean they're unweighted; they're weighted by exp(iS). The weight might be a pure phase, but it's still a weight.
I still think I am right. In the path integral formalism, you sum exp(iS(x,t)), for every path x(t). Had it been a weighted sum, you wouldn't just sum exp(iS), you would sum c(x(t))exp(iS), where c(x(t)) would be the weight that corresponds to the path x(t). If you have for example, in simple mathematics, sum of x^i, with i going from 1 to 5, you don't call this a weighted sum, it is just a sum.

As I said before, this error is not very important and it is very minor, however it is still an error.

The mistake I made in my post is that I wrote 'sum of paths' where I should have written 'sum over paths'. Apologies.

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Post by mattreece » Tue Jan 24, 2006 1:39 am

But exp(iS) is the weight. Your example of a sum of x^i is not analogous, as x^i have intrinsic numerical values. A path has no intrinsic numerical value -- the closest thing I could come up with would be the proper time -- but it is assigned a value, or "weight" if you will, based on the action. (This is of course extrinsic to the path, since the action depends on the theory you're considering.)

Anyway, I have no desire to debate this further, but I assure you that to call such a thing a weighted sum is commonplace and I don't think this is a valid criticism of the question.

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Post by The Joker » Tue Jan 24, 2006 2:15 am

But exp(iS) is the weight. Your example of a sum of x^i is not analogous, as x^i have intrinsic numerical values. A path has no intrinsic numerical value -- the closest thing I could come up with would be the proper time -- but it is assigned a value, or "weight" if you will, based on the action. (This is of course extrinsic to the path, since the action depends on the theory you're considering.)
You don't sum the actual paths, you just some over the paths, the same way that in my example you sum over i, and hence my example is analogous. What would you call the sum of c exp(iS)? I did make the mistake of calling it the sum of paths, but I corrected my mistake in the last post.
Anyway, I have no desire to debate this further, but I assure you that to call such a thing a weighted sum is commonplace and I don't think this is a valid criticism of the question.
I also have no desire to debate this further, and am in no way assured by what you say.

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Post by barnacles » Tue Jan 24, 2006 2:19 am

As current president of UTC's quizbowl team, I'd like to announce that I put a down payment on a new BMW now that I found out I'm due so much money from Sword Bowl. Thanks for making everything abundantly clear for me.

I consider myself a pretty prototypical Southern quizbowl player, so perhaps I will try to give my opinion about quizbowl as I see it.

First, I'd like to say that this year's ACF Fall, my first official ACF tournament, was perhaps my favorite tournament I've been to. The questions were good and I enjoyed the tournament, even though my team ended up going 2-8 or something like that. I've also been to a dozen or so UTC tournaments, playing in most of them. I've also attended quite a few submission and house-written tournaments around the Southeast. I've enjoyed all of them, even if they weren't as good as ACF Fall.

I also know what a good question is. I recognize all the aspects that make up good question-writing and when I write questions, I try to follow them to the best of my ability. I don't see why a person can't enjoy an imperfect question.

I enjoyed Sword Bowl. I know that sprinkled throughout the rounds there were easy bonuses, poor leadins, vague clues, etc., but for every question like that there were many more that were fine in my book. And I still had a good time. A movie doesn't have to have all perfect scenes for it to be an enjoyable movie. Even if a few of them suck, it doesn't mean that the movie as a whole sucked. And you can extend this metaphor to pretty much any other topic of human endeavor.

If I had to choose between going to one ACF tournament or two of Charlie's tournaments, I'd always choose two of Charlie's, or any other similar tournament I've been to (such as SSI). The potential difference in quality isn't enough to double my satisfaction, so to speak, and I imagine it would take double the effort for Charlie to go through each packet and edit (and in many cases rewrite) the questions to conform totally to ideal question-writing practices. It's just not time efficient.

To scary Mr. internet Jerry - I'm sorry if you didn't like the tournament. I assume you've encountered Charlie's tournaments before, most of which were very similar to this one. I don't know if you were expecting something different, but I have a hard time feeling sorry for you. If you don't wish to come to any more tournaments that have anything at all to do with UTC, I wouldn't blame you based on your apparent abhorrence of these questions. But I assure you UTC and Charlie will still be working, "keeping the scene alive" if you will.

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Post by Matt Weiner » Tue Jan 24, 2006 3:16 am

Your Genial Quizmaster wrote:4) I am well aware of the question-writing mandates that have been posted here -- I just don't agree with all of them, and certainly don't feel bound by them. In my heyday, questions were much easier than they are now, and people usually complained that mine were too hard. There are some subjects (geography, for example) that are unfashionable on the circuit, but which I still believe suitable for an academic tournament. Also, there's a real tendency for "the community" (translation: the most frequent posters) to want new, fresh, different subject matter for questions. So people go look up African authors who are obscure to scholars in the field, just because they've heard too many questions about Achebe and Soyinka. That's great, as long as you accept the fact that 90% of the players weren't at those other tournaments four years ago where the same clue came up. In an environment like that, many novices won't come back for a second or third tournament. Trust me, I've seen promising players and teams leave because the stuff they were being asked had only limited bearing to anything they would ever run across in life, or study for any purpose besides quizbowl. To some extent we've buffered that by running junior birds and JV divisions, but that just postpones some of their departures till their departures till their junior year. If you carry this to its logical conclusion, quizbowl will become a self-referential, isolated game and the circuit dwindles to maybe twenty powerhouse teams. If so, y'all have fun. I prefer an academic tournament environment where only a few tournaments reach that level of difficulty, and most are too easy for those who've played four or more years' worth already.
I think this is just plain dishonesty. You know it's the quality, specifically the structure of the questions, that's being criticized. To pretend that it's an issue of difficulty and that people are criticizing questions for having easy answers is a total straw man and a poor attempt to rally the usual "ACF IS IMPOSSIBLE" cretins to an argument that has nothing to do with either ACF or question difficulty.

Here's some more bad rhetorical tactics I've noticed:

-Asserting large masses of invisible support without proof ("Thanks to those of you who have supported me, publicly and privately, in response to Jerry's original post").

-Logically implying that all criticism, forever, is invalid (Just don't go to bad tournaments if you're going to complain, but don't complain about tournaments you weren't at)

-Playing the "cool guy" card. OK, Chris, you like to get high and hang out in the hot tub. You're not the only non-nerd in quizbowl. You're not impressing us. Frankly, it's a little creepy given the age differences involved.

-Passive-aggressiveness. People who don't like paying money for bad questions are not the initiators of rudeness here. People who accept money for a tournament and imply that it will live up to the standards of contemporary quizbowl, and then don't deliver, committed the first offense, and I find that practice much more odious than complaining on a message board. Acting outraged when you are called on YOUR bad behavior is ridiculous.

And, of course a quizbowl-specific misconception: that the people who attend and tolerate bad tournaments do it because they like bad questions. For the most part, people attend the tournaments that are the most convenient and popular, and are passive about question content. The vast majority of those people who do care about question content want the sort of questions Jerry is asking for. Tournament hosts can cater to them WITHOUT alienating the rest of the field, because the rest of the field simply doesn't care. The only reasons not to do so are laziness (editing properly is more work than not editing properly) and spite (a certain NAQT writer openly admitting that he writes bad questions which will piss off ACF players solely for the purpose of pissing off ACF players).

This nonsense about well-structured questions turning off new and/or bad players is belied by the widespread approval of ACF Fall even from members of the UTC team and other people defending Sword Bowl. The idea that catering to the pro-good-question crowd has a drawback in terms of your field size and the social and financial consequences of that is plainly not true. I also am giving UTC the benefit of the doubt and assuming their bad questions are produced out of motivation 1, laziness, which is only to be expected from a monopoly supplier with a guaranteed field. I do not think they are actually trying to offend fans of good questions just out of a twisted and pathetic contempt for them, like the writer I mentioned is. So, since their motivations are understandable and reasonable rather than disturbed, I believe UTC will answer this question the right way: why not put in the effort, or arrange with someone willing to do so, to produce better questions, thus pleasing everyone instead of pleasing some teams and offending others?
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Post by recfreq » Tue Jan 24, 2006 3:57 am

I'll bring up something slightly different here.

Converting a bad question to a good one can be pretty routine, and can be done fairly quickly, if you have some experience with them. I'm sure there have been posts about this, but since Charlie mentioned something about a day job, I thought I try to pass along what I've learned, as a grad student doing research and classes in the day. Hopefully, this can be constructive in the sense that we can realize that the amt of work needed to appease everybody can be lower than what is anticipated if you set your priorities straight.

A lot of times, the issue can be resolved by deleting things: anything vague, anything not giving a solid clue (place, person, event, item, etc), anything having to do with birthdates or going to college (see: http://www.ocf.berkeley.edu/~quizbowl/qb-writing.html); or by adding an extra line in front of the offending easy lead-in (Encyclopedia Britannica, Encarta, etc, but just have to avoid the obvious the best you can. I think if you do those two things for every question, most people will be happy with you, even if the grammar is a bit lose or the facts slightly off (don't sweat the details). This should take no more than a few minutes per question, let's say (reasonably) half packet per hour, b/c it's just a routine check. I admit if a one-person editing team is at work, this will still take 3 or 4 nights to accomplish, but the result that (pragmatically), people will not notice the obviously bad.

While repeats are not good, I think searching for them is a waste of editing time, and not worth the effort if you want to prioritize. Instead, do the question-by-question edit (1. delete, 2. add) and remove the duplicates if you see it. Also, it's very important to give the right people the right editing duties. If you know no history, give it to the history guy in the club, or even just bribe your history friend by asking her (effectiveness of this method still not proven). I think there're a lot of this type of talk around the forum nowadays, but I hope you won't mind bringing up the strategies again.

Just wanted to show that editing can be less time consuming than you'd previously thought if you order by priority what you have to fix: 1. delete the bad stuff, most important, 2. add a lead-in, 3. polish the giveaway. I'd imagine that some of these steps can be skipped for some questions you receive. Also, if you really want to do it right, you'd look at past questions on the same topic, but most of us don't have time to do this. My question is: is it really that hard or time consuming to edit questions to make them innocuous if not brilliant? Getting rid of the obviously bad things is like editing for grammar, and the most basic for getting people to understand what your writing: in the QB analogy, getting people to buzz when they understand.

In regards to QB as more popular entertainment as opposed to academic pursuit, I suspect that people who flock to Sword Bowl-type popular tournies are also there to play QB, not just buzz and react. I mean, it's QB! You're already attracting a very specific crowd: that is, those who like academics, study at least semi-frequently, and enjoys learning, at least to some extant. As long as we reject that notion that learning something new from a tournament is some how against the spirit of entertainment in QB, or that hearing something you haven't heard of is necessarily bad, we should be ok. So Sword Bowl could probly use a bit more editing, if nothing else but to bring the next generation of QB players to a better game due to a better QB grammar, just as we were taught grammar in elementary school.
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Post by recfreq » Tue Jan 24, 2006 4:19 am

kelli wrote:But even in a couple of other books and internet sources I checked, it is generally accepted that Andrea Pisano was the capomaestro until a while past 1343..I don't wish to argue this topic anymore, the only reason I mentioned it because someone claimed that Janson was a more reliable source than Murray..
I think Dr. Levinhausen Morgenstern is a more reliable source than Murray because he has a Ph.D. in Renaissance Architecture of the 1200s, and he claims that the year is 1294, as seen in page 213c of The Life and Works of Arnolfo di Cambio and His Plan for Florence Cathedral. =)

Seriously, I wish we spent that much time fixing the questions, but I guess Jerry's perceived fallibility is more important to your argument, or comfort level. Well, from the packets by Jerry that I've seen, at least you could tell he did the research, going beyond what is needed at times. If a portion of that type of effort was put into fixing Sword Bowl, we wouldn't be having these discussions.
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Post by Chris Frankel » Tue Jan 24, 2006 7:35 am

If we're going to talk about silent majorities and what not, I think it's only fair to note that Sword Bowl 2006 hardly marks the first time anyone has had a bone to pick with Mr. Steinhice's editing skills or questioned whether his cavalcade of tournaments are more harmful than helpful to the Southern circuit and the circuit as a whole. While Jerry certainly should have been more diplomatic (this even coming from me), it's not as if his post is a polemic from left field. As with others like Lafer and Weiner (and to a lesser extent Nathan), I'm here to add myself on the record of academic devotees who have long had serious concerns to voice re: the UTC tournaments but have been reluctant to do so out of a (justifiable, as this thread shows) desire not to become a whipping boy and have ad hominems and logical fallacies hurled at them from all directions for daring to criticize a venerated icon.

Sword Bowl 2006, in terms of being a poorly-edited tournament, has hardly been the exception to the rule as far as UTC tournaments go (and I either have in my archive or have practiced/had read to me the packet set of nearly every UTC tournament from 2003-present). In the case of the tournaments that did have quality sets, all of the editing was invariably done by an outside party (e.g. Lenny Kostovetsky for Buzzerfest/Moon Pie 2003, Weiner/Kwartler/Jerry for Moon Pie et al. 2005), with the only UTC contribution being the forwarding of raw packets, most of which ended up being edited/rewritten substantially anyway. As for the average UTC packet set, flagrant defiance of basic pyramidality, trite leadins and now-banned cliched "his father was a ..." or "Born in ...." clues, loads of repeats, an obvious overemphasis on local/regional esoterica (obscure Southern Civil War battles or Southern regional poets ahoy), excessive proportions of trash questions (many of which are seemingly given more attention and thought than the academic), inconsistent bonus difficulty, tossups with vague and meandering leadins that turn into a buzzer race on the first clue word, etc. are all regular fixtures. As several astute posts here have already observed, the stereotype of pure academic quiz bowl = unfun and pointlessly hard has already been thoroughly disproven by tournaments like ACF Fall and even on the high school level with PACE. We're arguing that just replacing each carefully crafted mention of "Travels with Charlie," "your genial quizmaster," and Moon Pies and other Chatanooga trivia with a properly written leadin would have improved every UTC tournament packet tenfold, regardless of the question difficulty.

Perhaps the reason Mr. Steinhice has found himself the target of harsh criticism in this thread is the way he and his supporters appear to view him as above any sort of reproach for whatever reason. It has been argued that his prolific history makes him an nigh-unparalled authority on the game, but yet objectively comparing the Sword Bowl 2006 set with the recent MLK 2006, a (spectacularly done) first time editing job by relative newcomer Ryan Westbrook makes it clear when someone does or doesn't care about the quality of his product. A first effort by someone of the former category has been shown to be leaps and bounds above that of someone of the latter one. At least you'd think someone with UTC's hosting experience would have the logistics down pat, yet for some reason it seems to be primarily UTC tournaments that "make a 9-round tournament last until 9 PM" (thanks, Lafer) and fail to have well-organized SQBS stats posted in a prompt manner on an accessible viewing space. For someone who so frequently solicits freelance packet work and absorbs such a volume of circuit money, Mr. Steinhice has not come across as intent on reciprocating his intake by trying to sustain a consistent level of high quality in his tournaments.

When I was briefly on the ACF Fall editing committee (for the public record, I resigned due to time commitment issues before doing any editing and am no longer a member of ACF), I was privy to all the inside conversation about how to approach the editing process and produce a set that would be enjoyable and accessible to a broad quiz bowl audience and resolve many past criticisms that had been raised. As harsh as they may seem when criticizing tournaments, individuals like Jerry, Weiner, and Andrew Yaphe were even more resolute in their desire to provide a quality experience for all attendees and do so with all the effort they could put forth. Conversely, it's distressing that Mr. Steinhice's response to very real and legitimate criticisms offers little more than a politely worded "Fuck You." As Weiner already laid out, the only real question left is whether the motivation behind such an attitude is laziness or spite, and when someone goes out of his way to call a post-Regionals trash tournament "ACF Detox" (LOL ACF is like a horrible poison!), it's hard not to think the latter is involved to some degree.

As I myself posted in the masters' circuit thread, quiz bowl is indeed a very time consuming activity requiring a high level of input. Getting a high level of enjoyment and enrichment from the game is not going to be the most efficient task, and that's something that has to be accepted. Quiz bowl is a lot of work, but it's also a lot of fun when that work is rewarded (and much of the anger here comes from the fact that the monetary costs and the labor costs of submitting a packet aren't being duly rewarded by Mr. Steinhice's apparent apathy in the editing process).

Perhaps the UTC monopoly is keeping a good portion of the Southern circuit alive, but only in the way a feeding tube kept a persistently vegetative Terri Schiavo alive. While the absence of UTC tournaments would likely create a temporary windfall, it's hard not to see how current devoted, established programs like South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, etc would step it up to fill the void by hosting packet submission tournaments (maybe one of the main factors keeping them from doing so now is the existing UTC domination of the region?), while other teams with a serious interest in quiz bowl would not be prevented from putting in the effort to play. History has shown that the players and teams who are dedicated to getting better and participating in tournaments have always found a way to do so, and I imagine that the majority of teams that would be lost are of the "I think people who take quiz bowl seriously are losers who deserve to be made fun of" variety, in which case I'd offer a hearty "Don't let the door hit your ass on the way out."

I'm not here to ruffle any feathers further; I just wanted to add my support to some points that needed to be made in the hopes that this unfortunate, but brutally honest, thread will help improve the quality of future tournaments. I've also acquired the Sword Bowl/Penn Bowl packet set, and if time allows, will attempt to go through them and offer some constructive criticism beyond the usual flamewar process.
"They sometimes get fooled by the direction a question is going to take, and that's intentional," said Reid. "The players on these teams are so good that 90 percent of the time they could interrupt the question and give the correct answer if the questions didn't take those kinds of turns. That wouldn't be fun to watch, so every now and then as I design these suckers, I say to myself, 'Watch this!' and wait 'til we're on camera. I got a lot of dirty looks this last tournament."

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Post by ValenciaQBowl » Tue Jan 24, 2006 11:36 am

Sigh. So I'm going to make a liar out of myself and wade back into this thing. Just to clarify a couple things from my end, anyway:

1. I didn't think my reference to redhair and hot tub was a playing of the "'cool guy' card," as Matt puts it. I thought it was "a joke," as Jerry referred to his mocking me and Charlie for our dinosaurity (which, btw, offends me not). As to its being "creepy," cripes Matt, relax (though I presume my use of that verb is a playing of the "Now you're saying that anybody who criticizes you is uptight" card or something). This isn't the high school section, right? I thought such (perhaps poor) attempts at lightness were okay here. I don't particularly care about impressing (or not impressing) y'all. If I wanted people to know how cool I am, I'd make reference to my impressive collection of Thelonius Monk cds and beer can collection. My apologies if that previous comment somehow indirectly asserted Matt or Jerry or qbers in general are "nerds."

2. I didn't properly explain my comment about people complaining about the ICT and its questions. I didn't mean to imply that I am advocating taking away your government-given right to freely criticize questions. I guess I was referring to my experience as a reader in DI the last four years in which I often run into the same people angrily bitching about the same faults they see in ICT questions. Then I read the same complaints here. My question is, why go then? I mean, we all love to play, but if you KNOW you're going to dislike a certain format, why bother? I know Kentucky, for example, doesn't play NAQT b/c they don't like it. That saves them from having to later complain about it. Similarly, I won't bother to go see a movie I know I won't like. It's the same principle.

Again, note that I didn't say not to bitch about the questions at ICT. My advice is just don't go if you're going to hate it. As to the other part of the logical fallacy parade that always gets trotted out here, I will stand by my claim that you shouldn't bitch about a tournament that you won't attend and that others like. This does not imply that "all criticism is invalid." That inference is a non sequitur from my assertion above. I'm not into CBI, but if teams want to play it, why should I be bothered? I know y'all have answers for that, and I'm not asking for a rehash. But that's my take, and I'm sticking to it.

3. Not that I think it matters, but I love juicy, hard questions. I never got into that part of this debate. I've probably traveled further than anyone to attend all of the Chicago Opens, blah, blah, blah.

4. All I'm saying is, to quote Chaucer, what's so funny 'bout peace, love and understanding? Whoa, oh-oh-oh. Out.
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Post by Matt Weiner » Tue Jan 24, 2006 2:52 pm

By the way, I will also throw my hat into the ring as a freelance editor for future tournaments on a low-fee (~$200 maybe?) or in-kind (send me a bunch of old packet sets) or even volunteer (if there's some other people involved and I'm not expected to produce the whole set myself) basis. This is not something that has been done in the past but it could be the solution to many woes and bring everyone from UTC to Matt Lafer together to hold hands and dance in a circle while singing about carbonated soft drinks and such. I saw that Jerry has already offered his services and, if I may sort of speak for someone who has not posted in this thread, I know that Chris Romero has done or offered to do remote editing work before, and Eric Kwartler was not only offering himself for that role but trying to start a national mailing list for the purpose. Is anyone else interested in putting your name out there? There is a way for time-crunched or inexperienced (or shiftless) tournament directors to please us critical folks, and we'd really appreciate it if you availed yourself of the opportunity, because a culture of good questions and high standards ultimately benefits everyone.
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Post by Rothlover » Tue Jan 24, 2006 3:05 pm

If people judge me up to snuff after my contributions to Wirt (science aside), I am more than happy to help out in the areas where I know a couple of things to help ease the burden on others involved.
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Post by Nathan » Tue Jan 24, 2006 3:32 pm

I will edit in some capacity for free...just don't ask me to do science.

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Post by ValenciaQBowl » Tue Jan 24, 2006 4:30 pm

I, too, am happy to help with editing for free (piles of papers to be graded permitting). I think Matt's suggestion above is an excellent one (as is his reminder about Kwartler's idea about creating a guild of some sort), and his asking price is fair (I only offer for free b/c I'm no longer a ramen-eating grad student). My keyboard is wet with my tears at this happy resolution (?) to this thread . . .

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Post by vandyhawk » Tue Jan 24, 2006 4:52 pm

While the absence of UTC tournaments would likely create a temporary windfall, it's hard not to see how current devoted, established programs like South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, etc would step it up to fill the void by hosting packet submission tournaments (maybe one of the main factors keeping them from doing so now is the existing UTC domination of the region?)
I most definitely plan to host a college tournament next year. Until recently, there hasn't really been anyone else to edit/proficiently run our two high school tournaments each year, which draw large crowds and have high expectations. Since I put so much time into those, and that grad school thing requires some work, it's been a lack of time and (somewhat selfish) desire to play that prevented us from hosting college tourneys. Now that our program is deeper, however, I think I can step away from the HS stuff at least to some extent. Provided the dates allow it, I'd love to host ACF Fall and/or NAQT SCT next year, with the possibility open for a packet submission tourney. It would just be a matter of when and what level tourney we would want to produce. I know a few other players in the region have requested this of us, so we'll certainly try to oblige.

As for Sword Bowl, I wasn't there and haven't seen the questions, so I don't feel like commenting about those tournaments in general at the moment.

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Post by Mr. Kwalter » Tue Jan 24, 2006 5:17 pm

I did suggest that we start a national mailing list for those that would be willing to help out when prospective editors need assistance. In the past, editing teams have mostly been associated with cross-country mirrors and tournaments with multiple sites like ACF Fall. If there are people out there (and I know there are, many have offered in the past) that would be willing to remotely edit a tournament like Penn Bowl, perhaps all that is necessary is a loose infrastructure to get editors in need in touch with people willing to help. If you would be interested in being on this list, email me at ekwartler at gmail dot com, and we can progress further once we have a better idea of what we're dealing with. It's certainly worth a try.

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Post by STPickrell » Tue Jan 24, 2006 6:03 pm

ValenciaQBowl wrote:I, too, am happy to help with editing for free (piles of papers to be graded permitting). I think Matt's suggestion above is an excellent one (as is his reminder about Kwartler's idea about creating a guild of some sort), and his asking price is fair (I only offer for free b/c I'm no longer a ramen-eating grad student). My keyboard is wet with my tears at this happy resolution (?) to this thread . . .
It's only a happy resolution if we have a group hug.

So does this qualify as a Very Special Episode?

FWIW, I am offering my services for house-written HS tournaments. This Game has passed me by at the college level but I think I can help players start out on the right track.
Shawn Pickrell, HSAPQ CFO

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Matt's gracious offer

Post by Your Genial Quizmaster » Tue Jan 24, 2006 6:11 pm

[quote="Matt Weiner"]By the way, I will also throw my hat into the ring as a freelance editor for future tournaments on a low-fee (~$200 maybe?) or in-kind (send me a bunch of old packet sets) or even volunteer (if there's some other people involved and I'm not expected to produce the whole set myself) basis. This is not something that has been done in the past ....

Um, I hate to break it to you, but it was just done. By me. To make it clear, I asked for $0 from Penn and Oklahoma. Drake will be paying a little in lieu of contributing as many packets as the rest of us, but I'm cutting them some slack on their end of the deal too. If I am indeed sucking money out of the rest of the QB circuit, as has been asserted earlier in this dicussion, I'm doing a lousy job of it.

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Re: Penn Bowl/Sword Bowl blew ass

Post by Your Genial Quizmaster » Tue Jan 24, 2006 7:08 pm

I was going to let all this pass, until I saw the reference to "shiftless" editors in a later post. If it wasn't aimed at me, and named at some other unnamed editor, then I apologize for the assumption. But it doesn't sit well with me when I spent most nights for the past two weeks getting to bed at or after 3 AM and then going in at 8:30 AM for my full-time day job.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and I accept the idea that some people don't like the style I produce, or the extent to which I let some subpar questions slip through the cracks. I'll try to confine myself to a few points that I dispute from Jerry's initial post:

"Edward Ferrars named in the first clue to "Sense and Sensibility.""

Try the third line, of a four-line tossup. BTW, the question as submitted mentioned the name Marianne in the first line, which I did spot and remove. And someone else complained that the Sea of Marmara tossup mentioned the location in the second sentence. True -- but it was a three-sentence tossup, something I used to get chastized for not writing enough of myself.

"Bonuses that gave 30 points to anyone who was even remotely conscious after getting the tossup."

Again, it was designed as a junior bird. Apparently, from the scores we saw here, many of the Div. II teams were not remotely conscious by your standards. I'll concede that, as others have noted, bonus difficulty fluctuated a lot. My only defense is to say you should have seen 'em before they were edited.

"Constant, and I mean constant repeats: material from earlier questions came up in every round during the second half of the day."

This is the one that stuck in my craw. This was the greatest challenge I faced in editing a greater raw volume of questions than I've ever handled before. I spent hours poring over those questions, then reviewed them again, and then sent them to three other locations and asked them to do the same. They caught one duplication that I'd missed, which I promptly corrected.

So I decided to go back and see if Jerry was right. I took three hours of time that I should have spent more wisely and repeated the final step of my duplicate-checking process. This involves putting all the questions into one big Word document, refomatting to break each line, dumping it into Excel, sorting it, removing everything that doesn't have "Answer:" in fromt of it, and then manually looking for duplicates. (If anyone knows a more efficient way to do this, using a plain old PC, please pass that along privately to steinhic at bellsouth dot net.]

I found eighteen answers that appeared more than once in the tournament. Most were either totally unrelated (e.g., Isaac Newton appeared once in a physics question and once re his doomsday predictions) or had no duplication of clues (e.g., two different works of two different types in two different bonuses for both Prokofiev and Mozart.) Only eight of these actually duplicated clues, two of which were to my mind inconsequential. (In one case, the answer appeared as a bonus part in bonus #20 in one packet and bonus #22 in another. The other mentioned the word "Hapsburg" in connection with Maria Theresa, but that's hardly a clue unique to her.) That leaves six that I missed, certainly more than I wanted. Three of them were found in one packet, UNC B. That wasn't even used at Sword Bowl, which explains why I only heard one complaint Saturday. I checked and found out that I had somehow omited the UNB packet when I copied all the rounds into the master document for checking. For that, and for three others that I just flat-out missed, I apologize.

"Not only that, but to add insult to injury, he took the one quality packet that I submitted to him (granted, it was a little rough around the edges from the parts that my teammate wrote, but there were easily 20/20 usable questions in it) and merge it with an awful Georgia Tech packet (apparently Stephen Webb is also keen on ignoring question-writing criteria; after all, why make an effort when you don't have to?). Good job, chief. It wasn't enough to just pass unedited garbage along to the players; you had to fuck up a quality packet that I spent time writing. "

There wasn't anything wrong with your questions, except that ten or twelve of them duplicated answers questions submitted by others. Ditto for Stephen's round -- I believe I counted fourteen. I don't recall having to edit any of yours for content, clarity, or factual errors -- a rare treat. The tossups were longer than I prefer (in fact, longer than anyone else's, and I did a word count today to make sure that wasn't my imagination and/or temper speaking), but not out of line with current circuit standards. There were a few of your questions I didn't use because I thought they weren't suitable for a junior bird; that included four or five I thought were too hard and a really good pop culture tossup that skewed more to my demographic than the expected field's. I'll be glad to send those back to you if you'd like to use them in a future tournament.

"Last year, Matt Weiner, Eric Kwartler, and I edited the J'Accuse/BLaST/Moon Pie extravaganza that took place last spring. I'm not going to complain that I didn't see penny one of whatever money UTC made on Moon Pie that year because I never asked for anything. But it would have been nice, speaking strictly for myself, to have received at least a little recognition for taking part in the construction of what I am confident was the best Moon Pie in years. Just a mention in the results page. Just a brief note of thanks to three guys who worked quite hard to make your tournament work and didn't ask any money for it."

Did I fail to do that in my post last year? For that, I doubly apologize. I can't believe I blew that basic courtesy. Feel free to check my previous posts and I believe you'll see I almost always give credit where credit is due. Hell, I was trained as a reference librarian, and we know to cite our sources. I will add that for those who wouldn't know that I did offer to help with the editing, but was told my help wasn't needed.

One more factual rebuttal, not from Jerrys post but from Matt Lafer's nine-rounds-by-9-PM crack: We had eleven rounds Saturday, and even with a twenty-minuite delay caused by my own scheduling error and a pause to get the stats for resseding the main division after Round 7, we were finished with everything bu the finals by about 8:15.

So there you have it: a few factual rebuttals, a little bit of difference-of-opinion-agree-to-disagree stuff, and two sincere apologies that I hope Jerry and the rest of you will accept. I'm moving on now -- I have a practice to attend.

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Re: Matt's gracious offer

Post by Matt Weiner » Tue Jan 24, 2006 10:37 pm

Your Genial Quizmaster wrote:Um, I hate to break it to you, but it was just done. By me. To make it clear, I asked for $0 from Penn and Oklahoma. Drake will be paying a little in lieu of contributing as many packets as the rest of us, but I'm cutting them some slack on their end of the deal too. If I am indeed sucking money out of the rest of the QB circuit, as has been asserted earlier in this dicussion, I'm doing a lousy job of it.
Yeah, the idea was that the good editors would take the place of the not-as-good editors (you), not that subpar editors would continue collaborating with each other. That really doesn't accomplish much.

I tried to be constructive, I really did, but if you're going to stick to the "terrible questions that may or may not reward knowledge are my stylistic preference and nothing you say can change that" guns then I'm sorry, there's just nothing positive to say. Do you think that situation explains why Jerry is being so negative?
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Post by grapesmoker » Wed Jan 25, 2006 12:33 am

Your Genial Quizmaster wrote: Try the third line, of a four-line tossup. BTW, the question as submitted mentioned the name Marianne in the first line, which I did spot and remove. And someone else complained that the Sea of Marmara tossup mentioned the location in the second sentence. True -- but it was a three-sentence tossup, something I used to get chastized for not writing enough of myself.
Yeah, I got that one wrong, but only because when I wrote the first post I didn't have the packets in hand and had to operate based on what I remembered. The "Sense and Sensibility" question was the first to pop into my head. But that doesn't really matter, because even though I'm wrong on this one, I'm right on many, many others. Examples, all of which are first or second sentences of the tossups:
  • His name means “over-king of the marching men,â€
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Late-breaking developments

Post by Your Genial Quizmaster » Wed Jan 25, 2006 11:01 am

Without knowing it, Jerry just explained a lot of the criticism of Penn Bowl, when he wrote:

"But instead you put in crappy tossups on Elsinore, Hampton Roads, Akihito, William Faulkner, The Clouds, and Edward III (comically misidentified as Edward Longshanks)."

Uh-oh.

I caught and removed that wrong alternate answer for Edward III before the final edited set went out. If you heard that clue at Penn Bowl, then there was a miscommunication between me and the folks at Penn, and you were playing on the beta version that I'd sent for proofing. So there were a lot more duplications and errors and bad phrasings at Penn than at Sword, and that helps explain the complete difference in reaction. (I wish I could say it fixed all the errors -- the War and Peace bonus being the worst blunder of mine that I saw Saturday, where I'd written a new lead-in but failed to delete the old one.) I'd be interested in hearing from Oklahoma and Drake on the reactions they got.

One more thing, since I can accept criticism but hate having my integrity questioned... Here are the duplicates I had marked from Jerry's original round:

special relativity, incl. speed of light (cf. unused questions from Johns Hopkins, Tenn. alums, Drake, and an Oklahoma bonus used in the UNC B/Oklahoma round)

Perseus (unused questions from Maryland A and Oklahoma)

Ibrahim al-Jaafari (USF)

romaticity/aromatic (overlap with unused question from Columbia)

Zola (unused Drake question)

The Road Not Taken (unused Frost questions in Shorter, Florida A)

Hemingway (also mentioned in Dos Passos bonus in Brown's round, plus I didn't need 2 20th century U.S. lit bonuses in same round)

Golden Horde (unused questions from GT B and Oklahoma, also mentioned in question from USF used as a spare end-of-packet bonus)

Immaculate conception (mentioned as clue in UNC B)

Charles Martel (marked as duplicate, but that was my error -- the other question simply noted as "Martel" in my cross-ref pages was about *Yann* Martel.)

Heine was marked as a duplicate, but on first pass I can't find where the other reference to him was. Ditto Rubens and Fermat's little theorem. I'd have to go back through all the raw sets to say where, but I'm sure of at least Fermat's little theorem. So at the very least, that's nine duplications I can document on short notice, possibly as many as thirteen.

And while we're at it, noted as duplicates for Georgia Tech A: Geoffrey of Monmouth (unused question from Florida A), Garcia Marquez, Sartre, O'Neill (three or four references), Robert Sherwood (unused question from Fla. State B and at least one other mention), Napoleonic wars bonus(unused question from UNC B and others), Snell's law (unused question from Columbia and a Bevill State packet that was not used at all), Marathon, Six Characters in Search of an Author (unused question from UNC A and Pirandello question from Georgetown College), glycine, Dover school district case (unused question from GT B), Paul Erdos, Darwin, Maxwell's equations (unused question from Florida A.) Again, I could document the others if it mattered, but I hope this makes my point.

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Placeholder warning from this board's moderator

Post by First Chairman » Wed Jan 25, 2006 1:03 pm

This post just serves as a reminder to everyone to please refrain from personal attacks. This is meant to be discussion, and not a flame war. Keep this civil.

That also said, if we are discussing things, please stick to specific issues and instances when it comes to editing questions. Each of us has a different philosophy and style of editing, so it would be better to keep this thread as constructive as possible for people who have to edit a large volume of questions. Sure address any specific questions as you can, but don't draw out the exchanges more than necessary.

Back to discussion.
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Post by grapesmoker » Wed Jan 25, 2006 3:07 pm

Of the duplications you mentioned, the one on the Immaculate Conception shares essentially no information with the papal infallibility tossup, the year 1854 being the only common link. It's way easier and makes more sense to remove a shared clue than a whole bonus.

The Hemingway question is not really a duplicate, since it shares no information with the question on Dos Passos. Granted, you may not want two 20th century American authors in one packet; still, it's not a duplicate.

Also, Ibrahim al-Jafaari was a single bonus part, which could have been substituted without taking out the whole bonus.

So that brings the duplicates to 6 (with one question removed for distribution reasons), and doesn't explain the two questions that weren't duplicates but still didn't make it into the first 20.

Why am I belaboring this point? I understand that duplicates happen and that oftentimes merging packets is a good way to resolve that issue. What I object to is the many questions that were removed without warrant and replaced with questions that were far worse than what was in there originally. Of course, since we submitted a full packet (25/25), even if there were 7 duplicates in the tossups and 7 in the bonuses, that still leaves 18/18 usable questions in the packet. The actual makeup of the packet contains 10/6 of our questions.

In the spirit of E.T. Chuck's post, I will offer what I consider to be pretty good ground rules for editing:

1) I am of the opinion that the writer be given the benefit of the doubt. By this I mean that while the editor has some responsibility in directing which way the tournament should go, in general, he or she should endeavor to take whatever the original author submitted and make it better, if need be. Fact checks, revisions, and so on. Of course, in the case of questions that don't fit the difficulty profile of the tournament may be taken out, but in general, I go with what the writer has put in unless I can't figure out a way to turn that into a good question.

2) Duplicates are important when information is duplicated. When an author is mentioned twice in two unrelated contexts, that's not a duplicate.

3) If you take out a high-quality question, put in a high-quality question.

4) This is a suggestion rather than a strict rule, but I generally don't like to combine packets. Sometimes one has to do it, but I prefer to avoid it if possible. My feeling is that each packet is a reflection of the team that wrote it and I like to keep those separate, although of course I understand that there are circumstances which require combining. However, a combination of two or more packets should be brought up to the level of the best questions in the packet; that is, if you have one good and one mediocre (or bad) packet, and you want to combine them, you should bring the worse packet up to the level of the better one.

That's my editing philosophy. I'm sure others will have their own advice to contribute.
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Post by recfreq » Wed Jan 25, 2006 4:24 pm

grapesmoker wrote:1) I am of the opinion that the writer be given the benefit of the doubt. By this I mean that while the editor has some responsibility in directing which way the tournament should go, in general, he or she should endeavor to take whatever the original author submitted and make it better, if need be. Fact checks, revisions, and so on. Of course, in the case of questions that don't fit the difficulty profile of the tournament may be taken out, but in general, I go with what the writer has put in unless I can't figure out a way to turn that into a good question.

2) Duplicates are important when information is duplicated. When an author is mentioned twice in two unrelated contexts, that's not a duplicate.

3) If you take out a high-quality question, put in a high-quality question.

4) This is a suggestion rather than a strict rule, but I generally don't like to combine packets. Sometimes one has to do it, but I prefer to avoid it if possible. My feeling is that each packet is a reflection of the team that wrote it and I like to keep those separate, although of course I understand that there are circumstances which require combining. However, a combination of two or more packets should be brought up to the level of the best questions in the packet; that is, if you have one good and one mediocre (or bad) packet, and you want to combine them, you should bring the worse packet up to the level of the better one.
I think I'll stick to (1) as the single most important thing for the editor to keep in mind (and keep from overediting). Although I've done some of (3) before (for WIT), I've come to realize, mostly through other people's excision of my own questions, that doing (3) can also waste a lot of people's genuine effort. I think unless it's a duplicate or spectacularly difficult, don't replace, convert if you must. Having said that, if the packet doesn't have 10/10 usable questions (i.e. you know it's a terrible packet where half the stuff will need to be deleted), don't even use the packet.

So the idea is to keep bad questions from being read, and retain as much as the good questions as we can. (I might have been a bit delete-happy in the past, but won't be making that mistake in the future--call the pro-question-writer Sorice school of editing, or what you will.)

Best.
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Editing philosophy

Post by Your Genial Quizmaster » Wed Jan 25, 2006 5:16 pm

Don't faint, but I agree with every point of Jerry's editing guidelines. Assuming anyone is still interested in my thoughts on editing after the general tone of this discussion, I'll add one more variable to the mix: distribution. Sadly, that takes up a lot of editing time. The obvious case is when a packet as submitted fails to meet the posted distribution guidelines. But there are two other reasons perfectly good, non-duplicated questions may need to be replaced for distribution reasons:

1) A general skew for the packet across categories. I'll use an extreme example to make the point, though I've never seen one quite this obvious: A packet could contain a 19th century Russian literature tossup, a 19th century Russian literature bonus, a 19th century Russian history tossup, a 19th century Russian history bonus, a 19th century Russian music tossup, a 19th century Russian art bonus, a science tossup on Mendeleev, and a geography bonus on Russia. Even if each question could stand on its own, I believe considerable revision of the packet would be called for.

2) A general skew across packets. If memory serves, there were at least four bonuses and one tossup submitted for Penn/Sword on battles of the Napoleonic era. And I lost count of the number of thermodynamics questions, which were still too abundant in the final set even after some triage.

Just thought I'd throw this into the discussion...

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editing

Post by bdavery » Thu Jan 26, 2006 8:20 pm

My 2 cents: It is nearly impossible for even the best editors to catch all duplicates when editing the packets individually, in the text/Word files they arrived in. On the flip side, players, who only hear each round once, tend to have really bad memories about what they heard (unless they're charting the questions as they go) and assume that any repeat they remember must have occurred far more often than it really did.

One process to minimize duplication (which I have actually used, before anyone asks) is:

A) pre-read all packets once and roughly estimate where each pack should go.

B) Dump all packets into one gigantic text/Word file, in the order you created in A).

C) As you edit each question, use the "find" function to locate all occurrences of the underlined part of the answer. Then quickly read each duplication and decide what to do. You can make a note for each one (REPLACE, REWORD, etc.) and then go back to where you were.

D) When you're done, spell-check the whole file and then cut/paste your edited version of each pack back into the file it came from.
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Post by creed_of_hubris » Sat Jan 28, 2006 8:05 pm

StPickrell wrote: I know I can't recall a single tournament of my own playing days that would prompt me to come on here and complain about the questions to the extent Jerry did. Maybe this is a sign that I just stink as a player, question writer and editor, charges to which I am probably 100% guilty.
Well...

http://tinyurl.com/cev4u

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Post by bigtrain » Sat Jan 28, 2006 8:41 pm

Oye vey. Did that really have to get brought back up?
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Post by Leo Wolpert » Sat Jan 28, 2006 9:51 pm

creed_of_hubris wrote: Well...

http://tinyurl.com/cev4u
Well-played, nh.

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Post by STPickrell » Sat Jan 28, 2006 11:58 pm

creed_of_hubris wrote: Well...

http://tinyurl.com/cev4u
I ran the worst-ever college tournament. The week after the tournament I refunded everyone's money if they had already paid.

I did not prepare enough questions for the competition and initially attempted to lie about my mistake. I received a great deal of well-deserved criticism for that in October and November 1996. I'm sure the MAQT has a page somewhere of my ill-advised reply to Brian Rostron from UVA and there may be other "momentos" scattered around the web.

Since then, I have done nothing of any worth whatsoever.
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